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Saturday, July 5, 2014

Our July 4th Barbecue - 2013

Everyone loves a good 4th of July barbecue, right? I know I do. Since I didn't have one this year, and I'm frankly a little sad about that, I thought I would share about the one that my husband and I had last year. Sorry, I meant to post this yesterday, ON July 4th (I started writing this on July 3rd), but I was having issues prioritizing things, and so it didn't happen.  

I'm a reasonably creative person, and I love planning and executing parties. Part of the process is finding inspiration; recipes, decor and other party ideas that I like. I'm no Martha Stewart, that's for sure, but I think I do a pretty good job of pulling things off (with help from my husband, of course). I want to share with you some simple tips for throwing a fun July 4th barbecue. 

My first rule is to have a lot of decorations.  I like to "go big" when I have a party. For this barbecue, it was like the 4th of July exploded all over  the backyard. Below, you can see some of the decorations in the photos.  What you can't see are all of the American flags I used. There were 4-5 in the front yard in two sizes, and we also had a big patriotic pin-wheel spinning in our flower bed. I also put a few around the back yard, in addition to all of the other decorations. I also had a big "Happy 4th of July" sign in our living room window facing the street outside. 

I was going to use this idea from a magazine that showed how you can sprinkle sifted flour in big templates of stars to have a sea of stars on your lawn, but I ended up not having time to deal with that.  It looks cool though, and it's easy to do. The photo below is from Sunset Magazine.  

Lawn stars! Maybe I'll do 
this for our next party...

I also love to supply festive, decorative, and rather obnoxious things for my guests to wear.  That's how I roll. I think that people have come to expect this from my parties.  Here is a list of some of the "accessories" for party guests that I bought; American flag sunglasses, a plastic Uncle Sam hat, tiaras and metallic necklaces (in red, white and blue), an Abraham Lincoln beard, and headband antennas. I decided to wear the fake Abraham Lincoln beard myself, but it kept falling off and I didn't want it to fall into any food that I was serving, so I took it off. The adhesive didn't work very well. Someone accidentally broke the American flag sunglasses within about 20 minutes of the party starting. No biggie!

  This star antenna head band is a fun way to get people in the 4th of July spirit! Doesn't Chip look handsome??

Here he is again. Oh, Chip!

You can see in the background some of the decorations I used.  I think it helps people have fun and get into the spirit of things by having parties look super (almost obnoxiously) festive. 

I chose this red, white and blue, sparkly tiara to add patriotic spirit to my Hawaiian dress. Ried's vintage blue and white checked shirt goes works great with our July 4th theme.

Our party was a Tiki, vintage, patriotic combo. That right there sounds like a terrible mixture, but it worked for us. Our backyard is about the size of a shoe box, so I had to maximize what little space we had to use. We got two big outdoor umbrellas, which covered most of the back portion of our yard.  In the photo above you can see them behind us. 

To make it easier on yourself if you are the host or hostess, make the party a potluck.  This way you only have to be responsible for a few items, but not EVERYTHING, which can be overwhelming. Invite over the amount of people you want to attend. If you want about 20 people at your party, invite about 35- 40. Usually, I find that over half of the people on the guest list make it to our parties. But sometimes, like last year at our barbecue, more people came than we expected.  That's why a potluck works so well - then there's enough food for everyone.  We supplied hot dogs (and Rocket Dogs!), barbecued chicken, burgers, pasta salad, and alcohol (beer and wine).

Monika (pictured below) brought an American flag pie dessert. It had a pretzel crust at the bottom, cut up strawberries in a strawberry jello center and whipped cream top!  It was very much in the spirit of July 4th! It looked GREAT. Thanks Monika!

Monika adding the finishing touch to her American Flag Pretzel Pie.

Other guests brought dessert, too. Kiley, pictured below, brought a colorful Ambrosia Salad that was her grandmother's recipe! It was delicious. Thanks Kiley!

Kiley and her famous Ambrosia Salad. 
Next, I like to have a conversation piece at the party.  My conversation piece for the barbecue was Rocket Dogs.  They were super July 4th festive, easy to make, and everyone had fun eating them!  I got the idea watching Good Morning America.  They had this guest on who was demonstrating doing an entire July 4th party using only stuff she purchased from the Dollar Store.  She introduced me to Rocket Dogs: All you do is wrap canned biscuit dough around a hot dog, bake per the biscuit instructions, then put a bamboo skewer into each one, tie curl ribbon on the skewer, and then add a triangle shaped bell pepper wedge to the top. Voila! Rocket Dogs! You can stretch out the recipe by cutting the hot dogs in half, which is what I did.  

Carlo and Loraine enjoying Rocket Dogs!

Me bringing out the first batch of Rocket Dogs. I was surprised that they were such a hit!

Music is important at a party.  We don't have a fancy stereo system, and we don't need one in our little back yard. Since our iPod speakers are broken, we just used one of our old CD players and played a variety of music; vintage surf, vintage Hawaiian, exotica, and more.

As the sun started to go down, guests started drifting home. For those that stayed, we fired up the Tiki torches and restocked the soft drinks, beer and wine in the outdoor ice bucket.  Then we sat around and chatted for a couple more hours.  At that point only about ten people were left, so my husband and I got to relax and chat with our guests. When everyone left, we were tired, but it was the "we had a terrific day"  tired.

My final tip is the most helpful one in my opinion.  It's all about planning.  Prepare as much as you can in advance. I make a To Do list a couple of days before any party. Then I break it down even more by doing a shopping list. Then I go over the list with my husband and break it down into what I need him to do.  We do as much as we can in advance.  It is way less stressful when almost everything is done and I know what I need to do and when. Planning ahead makes things run smoothly, and I have a better time. 

I hope that everyone had a fabulous 4th of July!  Now you can start planning your barbecue for next year!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Where to Get Vintage Mid-Century Modern Furnishings in San Francisco

Another Time's Neon Sign

Why live with boring decor when you can have a stylish home that you love coming home to everyday?? A place that makes you happy and that others enjoy seeing when they visit you. I have to be surrounded by fun, colorful, vintage things in my living space and over the years I've been collecting things that make my home a very happy place to live. 

It's always fun to find an amazing vintage furniture piece or set at an estate sale, thrift store or on Craig's List, but good vintage stuff on the cheap is harder to come by these days.  Usually, my husband and I prefer to shop where we know that our odds of finding something cool and in great shape are high.  Of course, you have to pay a little or a lot more for it, but in my opinion, it's worth the money and time savings to be able to find exactly what you need and want in great condition.  The perfect place to do that is in San Francisco at a vintage furniture store called Another Time. Located at 1710 Market St. in San Francisco, Another Time is in an area that is called "The Deco Ghetto." They are "an established vintage Heywood-Wakefield, Mid-Cetury and Art Deco store" according to their website. Their furniture selections include Danish Modern Teak, Rosewood, Heywood-Wakefield, Brown Saltman, Paul McCobb, Gilbert Rohde, Widdicomb, Russel Wright and more." That is a direct quote from their website, which you can access here.

Say hello to this gorgeous Heywood-Wakefield desk and chair!  Pam's husband has refinished many of the items in their store including this set.   

I WANT the shelf unit pictured here.
Um…I believe that is a MOSS LAMP sitting on top of it (see my post about Moss Lamps for more info.)!

Next time you are in San Francisco, you must stop by Another Time for your Mid-Century Modern furniture fix.  My husband and I have been shopping there for YEARS.  In fact, most of the furnishings in our home are from that store!   I love going in and just looking around while pretending I can afford anything I want.  

They also have fabulous vintage prints, wall art, bark cloth curtain panels, dish sets, Bakelite fixtures and MORE.  Pam Groot is the store owner, and she's super helpful.  

I want the panther print in this photo!  I wouldn't complain if I could also 
afford to buy the bamboo furniture beneath it!

Here's a sweet, pink Mid-Century Modern lamp!  Perfect for 
your pink boudoir.

I'll take the chair and the dishes in the cabinet in the glass 
case there, while I'm at it.  

A Few Simple Decorating tips:

It saves time if you know what you want in advance. For example, I needed another end table in our living room so I could put out my Moss lamps.  I knew that I wanted a Heywood Wakefield end table so that it would match our other furniture in that room. Another Time had exactly what we wanted. 

I'm not very organized around decorating.  I pretty much buy most of the things that I love and make it fit in (unless it's a big ticket item like furniture).  But it really helps to have a color theme.  I know that anything pink, sky blue, brown or forest green will go in my living room.  Many of the things I find that I love are in those colors, so it works!

When I'm at a loss for ideas, I like to look through magazines or online images for inspiration.  You can type in your search engine window, "Mid-Century Modern living room," or whatever room you are looking to update and then look through those images until you find something that gives you inspiration.  Or, buy a magazine like Atomic Ranch or get vintage magazines from the era you love.  You could pull out pages from those magazines and start a binder, or make a bulletin board of colors and images that you like. If you are shopping and find a piece of furniture or a print that is a statement piece, you can decorate the room around it.  

I'll show photos of how my house is decorated (wait for it)…ANOTHER TIME. Sorry. I couldn't help myself.

I am sincerely grateful to all of my readers.  I hope you enjoyed todays post. Thank you for stopping by. Happy decorating! 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

And Speaking of Tiki...CB2 has TIKI GLASSES!!

I don't usually post more than once a week or more, but I just got the CB2 catalog in the mail and as I was flipping through it, I saw that they had these cute modern, but vintage looking Tiki glasses!  Get 'em while they have 'em. The link for the tall glass is here.

But wait! There's more. The smaller, stackable glasses are cute as well.  Here is the link.

And while you're at it, go ahead and throw in a couple of these Mid-Century Modern looking chairs, and you are almost ready for your Mid-Century Modern Tiki cocktail party (you have to get the little cocktail umbrellas and a Tiki bar though).  Here is the link for the chairs.

I'll post more on how to throw a Tiki party later.  At least you now have something to get you started : )

Sunday, June 1, 2014

My Favorite Tiki Attire - Tea Timers

Another one of my big vintage obsessions is Hawaiian/Tiki style clothing.  I have too large of a collection of the stuff and not enough events to wear all of it to.  I might as well admit here and now that I'm hoarding it.  I kid myself that I will sell some of my pieces... At least that's what the shopaholic part of my brain tells me when I'm buying it. Sometimes I actually do sell it, but mostly I keep it all for myself. It's so fun to buy it, and I can't seem to stop myself when I find something ultra cool (to me), when the price is right. 

My favorite style of vintage Hawaiian clothing is tea timer blouses. I decided that when I realized that I have about 11 of them. I could have some more tucked away somewhere. If I find them, I will update this blog post. I've been  picking them up here and there over the years, and today my newest addition arrived (it's the last photo in this post) and that makes about eleven! 

Here are photos of my favorites:

This one is more vivid and lovely in person. My camera isn't doing the coral color justice. 

I wish that I could present you with a fabulous history of the tea timer, but  I tried to look that up on the internet, and there isn't a whole lot about them out there.  If any of you know more about them, please post that in the comments area of this post below (I love reading your comments).  The little bits of info. I found about them boils down to this sentence:  "These tops called tea timers had a Chinese Mandarin influence that accentuated the female figure."  Well, my tops must be too big on me because they don't accentuate my figure.  Maybe my neck when I have them buttoned all the way up, but I don't think they are flattering on me. I love  them anyway because they have such a distinctive look, and I've found some in AMAZING Hawaiian print fabrics as you can see in these photos!  

Here's the latest addition that arrived today!  My camera did not do it justice.  Multiply the vivid color here by a hundred and that's how the shirt really looks!
Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. Aloha!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Farewell to a Dear, Furry Friend

I want my blog to be about things that are fun and related to vintage…However, life isn't always fun and sometimes one needs to share feelings of grief and loss. I'm feeling particularly sad this week, so here goes.

This year Lucky, a big, sweet, beautiful Golden Retriever turned 15 years old…that's 120 years old in dog years (if dog years = eight years to every human year). But he was already old when I met him. For seven years  I would walk by his house on my way home from work, and if he were laying on the front porch, I would walk up and put my hand out for him to sniff and then scratch his head and get a lick or two from him on my hand. Occasionally, he would get up, lick my hand and then offer me his big, furry paw which I would always accept. Whatever crappy day I'd had at work, or whatever stress I was still carrying around from the day, would melt even before I got the lick, when I would see his tail start wagging.  If he was too tired to lift his head and body off of the porch to greet me, he would still wag his tail and it would pat up and down on the cement behind him while I stroked and scratched his head.  

Every day when I walked by his house I'd check to see if he were laying in his usual spot, even though it had been a while since I last saw him. It was a habit.  I needed my Lucky the dog fix.  On Wednesday of last week I passed by his house and glanced over to the area that I always check. Again, no big furry dog. However, I couldn't breathe for a second, and my eyes teared up when I saw a bouquet of flowers and a familiar red dog collar with a  bone shaped name tag encircling the bottom of the vase. A piece of paper was taped to the vase: 

My neighborhood dog buddy had passed away that very day. It was such a sad moment seeing that, but I LOVE that the neighbors left this loving tribute to Lucky on their front porch.  I am so grateful to them, because I got to say good-bye and feel my own grief and loss.  I know other neighbors loved Lucky too, and so they also got to say their good-byes.  Later on I went and got a bouquet of flowers and a sympathy card and hand delivered them to my canine friend's human parents.   I thanked them for sharing Lucky with all of us neighbors and told them how he just made my day happy whenever I got to see him and pet him. I told them I was very sorry for their loss and we all cried together for a moment or two. It was all extremely sad, but so healing at the same time.  

It's the lonely, empty red dog collar that breaks my heart in the photos I've posted here. A poignant reminder of who is missing. Even writing this right now, I'm all choked up after looking at them.  He wasn't even my dog, for goodness sake.  But his licks, paw/handshakes and tail wags left a mark on my heart that won't soon be forgotten. 

I'm not sad for Lucky.  He had an awesome life, and now he's chasing balls, cats and squirrels in doggy heaven with none of the pain of old age.  I'm sad for his family. I'm sad for the other neighbors who also loved Lucky and I don't even know them. I'm sad for me, because I lost such a sweet friend. He never complained. He just gave out love as needed. I got to give love to him as well as take love from him, so I guess it was a two-way street.  But still.

He was loved by his family and all the neighbors.  In fact,  the bouquets of flowers increased over the next few days.  The day after I visited his parents, there were two bouquets along with a lovely black and white photo featuring him laying on that very porch.  His porch.  I was happy to see that four days later there were four bouquets of flowers there.  

It's been one week, and my heart still hurts when I walk by and see that empty porch. I know that the sadness will lift as time passes. I almost don't want it to because I don't want to forget my awesome furry neighbor. Maybe I will remember him, but forget how sad I am now. 

I haven't lost a pet in many years, but I dread the day when one of my cats dies. My husband told a friend about Lucky's passing and how this sadness is why we hesitate to get a dog. His friend replied, "You have to remember all the wonderful times spent with your pet and all the joy they brought into your life and see that as greater than the pain felt after losing them".  I think that is beautiful, and that's what I plan to do when the time comes. 

Rest in peace Lucky.  Thank you so much for all the love. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Three Gals, One Amazing, Vintage Disney Artist and The Cliff House = A Very Fun Day!

Disneyland is one of my modern, yet vintage obsessions. So of course I also love The Walt Disney Family Museum. It's located in San Francisco in The Presidio, and on a clear, sunny day the views are fantastic. The museum is loaded with great Disney pieces from displays of souvenir collectibles, Disney movie memorabilia and artifacts to many of Walt's personal belongings. The museum takes you through the history of his life, the stories behind the creation of Disney movies, through the creation of Disneyland and ends with Walt's passing. You can access their website here. One of the many great things about the museum is that they always feature an additional special exhibit or two, and they are GOOD.  Right now it's MAGIC, COLOR, FLAIR: the world of Mary Blair. It's running until September, so you still have time to get out there and see it.

I've wanted to see this exhibit there since I saw the billboards announcing that it was coming weeks ago and learned who Mary Blair was. My friends Penny and Loraine were on board to go see it with me, so off we went a couple of weeks ago.

Who was Mary Blair?  

Mary Blair was an artist who became one of Walt Disney's most ingenious and significant designers and art directors.  When you see her work, you get how she had such an influence on many other artists during her time.  Working for Disney, she learned how to stretch herself in her abilities and to progressively do bigger and more challenging projects. Even if you don't know her by name, you know her work.  She did the concept art for such classics as Peter Pan, Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland (to name a few). She is most famous for her design of the Its a Small World ride!

My favorite Disney movie!  Concept art of Alice and the White Rabbit.

The Exhibit

As any other biographical museum tour does, this exhibit starts at the beginning of her artistic journey by showing drawings and paintings from her years in school, and then moves through her beginning, middle and end with Disney.  After she left Disney to move on to other things, she came back to work on special projects, such as the It's a Small World ride at Disneyland and Disney World. 

More concept art for the Alice in Wonderland movie.  I would love a copy of this to hang in my home.

Peter Pan concept art.

I LOVE this.  Look at how amazing the shapes, vivid colors and details are.

So true! 

At first glance, Mary Blair seems like an art goddess that just waved a magic wand, and amazing pieces appeared. Her creative sense is so fun and magical that it's almost as if she was a creation of Walt Disney himself. However, upon entering the exhibit we learn that she went to school, which helps make her more of a mortal like the rest of us (at least in my mind). She was a graduate of San Jose State College. Then she attended the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. Still, this exhibit shows that she had a special gift. It is obvious that art was her passion, and she worked very hard at it. I found that so inspiring.

Little things here and there in the exhibit make Mary more lovable and relatable. For example, the audio clip of an interview with her now elderly nieces about visits with their fun Aunt Mary, her hard hat covered in fake flowers (photographed below), and the quote of hers posted on one of the walls at the exhibit that reads, "I had three jobs. Raising children, keeping house, and doing my art work." You can't get much more human than that.  

View from the second level.  Hi Loraine and Penny!

Mary's hard hat! I adore that.

It's a Small World penguin prototype. So cute!

There was even art hanging from the ceiling.

A colorful feast for the eyes!  I just loved the art hanging from the ceiling. This exhibit sprinkles happiness all over you, right? 

This exhibit is extremely well done. Mary Blair's artwork is respectfully hung in a fun, colorful environment befitting her brilliant creations.  It was a very happy exhibit, full of bright paintings, cartoon-like sculptures, beautiful photographs and even a video that brought Mrs. Blair to life.  When I saw her preliminary paintings for such films as Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland (my favorite Disney movie), I was touched, because they reminded me of how much fun I had seeing those movies and going to Disneyland in my childhood. Vivid colors and fun, silly characters, what's not to love? 

Sorry, Walt Disney Family Museum, but I could not do the audio tour. Although I did try.  The narrator had such a slow, soothing voice, and it contrasted so much with the fun, bright environment that it wasn't holding my attention. I just didn't have the patience to slow down and listen to the words droning on and on through my headset. It was way too distracting, so I turned it off.

My tips for going to the Walt Disney Family Museum:
- Make sure to schedule plenty of time. Especially if you want to do the special exhibit in addition to the main museum. 
-The museum is for adults or older children...maybe teens who love Disneyland.  There is not enough to keep small children busy here. They would get bored. 
- Take a break between exhibits. See the special one first, take a break, eat, drink or whatever; and THEN go see the main Museum. 
- There is a great gift shop there where you can stock up on unique gifts for those Disney lovers in your life...even if that is YOU!
-They are closed on Tuesdays. I recommend going during the week.  I haven't been there on a weekend, but I imagine it's busy. I don't like crowds, so I avoid things like this on weekends. But do check their website for closures, because you never know when there will be a special event.
- Check out their event schedule. Animate Your Night is an event they have every month or so, where you can attend the museum in the evening and there's a special theme, booze for sale and gourmet food trucks with yummy food to buy. 

FYI: The next exhibit is Leading Ladies and Femme Fatales: The Art of Marc Davis. I can't wait to see that one!


After the Disney Family Museum, we decided that it would be fun to cap off the day by going to the Cliff House for snacks and drinks.  That place never disappoints!  It was very foggy, but I think was still a beautiful day, just in a different way. 

This is the fourth, and hopefully final, rebuild of the Cliff House. I think it's very tastefully done.  I love the addition of artifacts from the Sutro Baths and Playland at the Beach used as decor inside.

From Playland at the Beach. He welcomes you as you walk in the
doors to the Cliff House.

Wall art from the Sutro Baths.

Modeling an actual bathing suit used at Sutro Baths!
The Cliff House was an excellent way to cap off a very fun day. Click here for their website.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Moss Lamps - Extraordinary Lamps Made by Crazy, Fun People Who Knew How to PARTY!

Moss lamp #1 - I realized just a few days ago, that 
the figurine on this lamp is a male. He's called "Mr. Mambo"!

This is my other lamp. While the male figure is referred 
to as "Mr. Mambo", the female figurine is simply referred 
to as "Mambo". 

I found the lamps pictured above at an antique store near my home and I bought them for myself for my birthday last year. I had to have them, and I'm SO glad I bought them. They make me very happy every time I look at them, especially at night when I turn the top and base lights on and switch on the spinning figurines!  These lamps are more than a super fun party with a lampshade though; the people and company that made them have a great story!  

I learned, from a vintage/kitsch aficionado friend who is also a native of San Francisco, that my lamps are Moss lamps and were manufactured in San Francisco by Moss Manufacturing Company on Mission Street in the '40s and '50s.  I had seen similar lamps before, even some of the floor lamps with bases that light up, I just didn’t know anything about them. Since my interest was peaked, I searched online and found amazing photos of various Moss lamps.  Spun glass shades, spinning figurines, planters,  and light up lamp bases, are just some of the features that these amazing lamps have.  

Image from the Very Vintage Vegas website.

My Internet search also led me to the book, Moss Lamps, Lighting the ‘50s by Donald-Brian Johnson and Leslie Pina, and I ordered it. WHAT A GREAT BOOK! 

The very first photo after the “Acknowledgements” page has a photo of Thema Moss, Gerry Moss and the Moss Manufacturing mascot Terry the poodle (a REAL poodle) wearing glasses and a bow tie.  I love the sense of humor the Mosses had.  I think they were a little crazy…In a GOOD way.

While my Plexiglass lamps in the photos above were made in around the 1950s, according to the book, Moss Manufacturing (owned by Gerry Moss) started production of traditional metal-stemmed lamps in 1937.  At that time, they became successful in selling to furniture stores and Sears, Roebuck and Company.  However, and here's where the fun begins, by WWII when the steel supply was short, they had to come up with another unique material to use in making the lamps.  Moss designer Duke Smith started using Plexiglass. In the 1950’s Thelma Moss (wife of Gerry Moss) was recruited  by her husband (and away from her successful Mode ‘O Day chain of clothing stores) to work for his company creating lamps.  She and John Disney worked on lamp designs together. Thelma came up with many of the main ideas.  As you see by their work, they were an amazing team.

By pages 16 and 17 of the book, I already loved Thelma and Gerry Moss. Those pages are filled with photos of them; christening their YACHT, The Thelma IV, having cocktails with family and friends on their yacht, and posing next to BARBARA EDEN on their yacht!  Sheesh.  When I first saw the photo of Barbara I thought, "Wow, look at how beautiful their daughter is."  Then I noticed the caption under the photo stating that it was Barbara Eden and my jaw dropped for the 20th time since first opening the book.

Below is a fantastic photo of Thelma Moss and a friend wearing amazing, tall party hats that rival shades of a Moss lamp, while acting like it’s just another day at an elegant gala.  OH. MY. GAWD. Of course she co-created Moss lamps.  Look at how fabulous she is and how much fun she is having.  I would love to know what they were talking about when this picture was taken.  

Thelma Moss (on the right) and friend. 
Photo from Retro Radar article on Moss Lamps
by Donald-Brian Johnson. Check it out here.
This photo is also featured in the book
Moss Lamps Lighting the ‘50s.

The rest of the  book is filled with a few more Moss personal photos, but mostly, it's page after page of amazing lamps and the rest of the Moss Manufacturing story. 

Now that I know the history behind my lamps, I think they're even more amazing. I want more of them, however, my house is small, and we only have room for so much vintage goodness. Looking at photos will have to suffice…For NOW. 

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.