Thursday, May 26, 2016

Like messages in a bottle, only slips of spirits past tucked away in books

One of the many treats of collecting old books is that they sometimes contain pleasant surprises in between the pages. The above 1930s advertising card is was likely a bookmark used by the original owner.

I can't read German, but seeking and keeping a four leaf clover for good luck seems to be universal. Usually I find pressed antique flowers so this was a first.

My oldest books, in particular those of a spiritual nature from Victorian Era, offer me comfort during difficult times. Some years ago I was devastated after one of my guinea pigs passed away due to complications from his bladder stone surgery. My tears kept escaping despite me trying to keep a "stiff upper lip." Then I saw an old hankie between the pages with the initial "A" on it. I got a chill and a thrill all at once. Supernatural comfort from beyond!

The above post-it is was inside a 1977 copy of "The Big Book" by Alcoholics Anonymous I had picked up at a yard sale.  As I shared on Instagram today, I was very moved when I first saw it and still am. There are so many warriors out there gracefully waging an invisible war against alcoholism. Too many don't make it. Sobriety is a beautiful silent victory yet its positive effects touch so many. 

Last evening I celebrated the sobriety anniversary of a close friend which got me thinking about this post-it and the other little pieces of sentimentality that still have the power to heal today. (But when I got home I returned to RECIPEGATE?! Scroll to the comments if interested. Skip if you hate drama like I do.)

Have you ever found anything unexpected inside an old book?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Tiny Tim's little raised bed vegetable garden

Tiny Tim, aka Timmy, loves floor time with my housemate, Wayne. In this photo you may notice that Timmy's eye looks dull; this is the side where he was blinded when abused by his original owners. He's a grateful little guinea pig who appreciates the good things. He is always squeaking and doing tricks for fresh veggies, so we promised him he would have his own little garden this summer provided he shares some of it with with us.

There's no better way to "eat retro" than to grow your own food!

Wayne first needed to construct the framework for the raised bed that we decided to situate behind the deck where there is plenty of sunlight (and bare spots of grass to hide!) My office/third bedroom window overlooks it so it'll be fun to peek at it during the day.

Here's another view of the backyard in relation to the garden. Those two gigantic pine trees along with the deciduous trees, when their foliage is fully open, create a lot of shade which isn't great for grass growth as you may notice.

After the frame was constructed he removed the grass and tilled the soil before he added the Miracle-Gro all purpose garden soil.

We went to a plant nursery and bought non-GMO tomato, cucumber, snap pea and sweet yellow pepper seedlings that received a gentle watering once planted.

Because we have two acres of woods there are sometimes deer and plenty of small woodland creatures looking for snacks. There's also a neighborhood cat on the prowl for a lush litter box. Creating a barrier is necessary.

In fact, one evening when Wayne pulled in from work he saw a Buck standing near our vintage cement deer statue! Also, see all that shade in the front yard? We just had that tree removed because it was hazardous, so now there is plenty of sunlight in the front, too.

When we bought the vegetable seedlings we also bought a barrel planter and Senetti flowers for the stump.

Look at all of those new leaves just one day later!

Wayne built it so that he could easily "open" the mesh in one section for weeding and harvesting.

This is the first vegetable garden I've had at my house so we don't know what to expect. I'll report back as the season progresses!

Do you have a vegetable garden? I'd love to hear your experiences!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Mini-Makeover: Moving my mid-century bedroom from the glam early 60s to the groovy, organic early 70s

The above is the "before" of my bedroom with the shag rug, turquoise Princess rotary phone (yes it works), "Hollywood Regency" style gold bedspread and sheer turquoise and brown drapes.

I had a stack of vintage suitcase that was also used for storage. There were a few girly things on my faux vanity (it's really a sewing table!) and a 1960s Paris oil painting.

The sheer curtains are pretty but not very practical during the cold Maine winters. I have heavy shades I can pull down behind them (and a working furnace!), but curtains without insulation means heat loss (and more money). I do need to be more budget-conscious these days.

I wanted to give my bedroom an "updated" look. (But not like this. I'm sure you've noticed the all-white decorating trend. I like color. And the past.) Updated in this case for me means the earthy organic style of the early 70s. I also wanted less clutter. To accomplish this I made a number of changes, but my 60s blonde furniture, pale yellow walls and carpet that came with the house when I bought it stayed intact (for now). 

The Makeover

I replaced the gold satiny bedspread with a vintage yellow wool blanket.

I alternate between two different sets of vintage sheets.

One set is flower-power yellow and orange daisies. The other set is of a desert sunset!

This is from the insert in the original packaging held up to my curtains.

I replaced the curtains with a complete set of orange tweed insulated drapes. 1960s orange drapes with barrel shade lamps hold a special place in my psyche. During my early grade school years my mother and I moved to New York City. I dearly missed living in Fort Lee, NJ, so I was plotting (in a little kid kind of way) to run away back to Fort Lee and stay at the Holiday Inn:

I never made it there and I was so bummed when they renovated! I hadn't thought too much about it since then until I was at an estate sale and saw a complete set of six thermal lined orange curtains! I took them home, washed and pressed them. Other than a few tiny tears they are perfect!

When the drapes are closed but the shades open, the sunlight creates a soothing orange glow that flows out into my hallway. All day. Yes! Except for cloudy days I now have the warm colors of a long-lasting fiery sunrise or desert sunset streaming live.

Next I replaced the turquoise Princess phone with a yellow desk rotary.

I wanted less clutter, so I moved the stack of vintage luggage to my basement.

I also no longer have the vintage cologne bottle or kitschy lipstick holder. I moved the Paris oil painting into my outside hallway and replaced it with  Syroco dogwood flowers because I like the way it looks in that space.

I bought a handmade jute runner at Target that seems to have all of the colors in my bedroom. I like the natural touch it adds to a carpeted room. 

As a final touch I added one of my mid-century "Mechanical Mirror Works" mirrors that had previously been in my hallway. It reflects bars of light back into the rest of the room.

I'm really happy with my "new" room, and can say that color therapy is real. I'm also OK with going orange in a white-washed world!