31 March 2011

the library // enceinte

among the library's regulars are a young couple who come in to use the computers on a near daily basis. he usually asks to borrow a floppy disk (our public computers still have those ancient drives) and she usually asks how to spell something (she once asked me how to spell diarrhea for a food review she was writing. tasty, yeah?).

several months ago, the girl approached the reference desk and inquired if we had a specific diet book. while i was looking up the title, she prattled on about how she couldn't seem to lose any weight (she's a bigger girl, but not necessarily large). i informed her that we didn't own the book she wanted, but that i could show her the diet and exercise section so she could browse the titles we did own. she declined and went back to her computer.

about a month after this reference transaction took place, the couple came to the library again and the girl came over and asked me for a floppy disk. she giggled nervously while i was looking for one before saying, "i need it to save coupons on. i'm gonna need a lot of them."

me (making conversation): "coupons can save a lot."
more nervous laughter on her part. "i just thought i was getting really fat."
me (knowing she wanted me to ask what she meant, but not really wanting to emotionally commit to the conversation): "oh, yeah?"
her: "turns out, i was pregnant!"
l-o-n-g pause.
me (stunned and not knowing what would be appropriate to say): "congratulations?"

she smiled happily, took the disk, and returned to her computer. meanwhile, i'm trying hard to remember whether she said was pregnant or am pregnant. there was no baby with the couple, so i had to assume that she was still enceinte; however, the very next day, the proud parents arrived with a stroller and a newborn (you know what they say about assuming).

i was reminded of this story today when the girl and her baby (now probably five or six months old) came up to the desk and asked if we had the same diet book she had asked about before. while i looked it up again, she told me, "i just can't seem to lose any weight."

music // spinning vinyl

my earliest memories of music are those in which i'm sprawled on the floor, listening to the soft crackle and hum of vinyl records and contentedly staring at a small green light on my parents' massive wooden stereo system flashing in time to the beat. it's a bit of a romantic memory, sure, but that's how i feel about music: l-o-v-e.

i've been without access to a record player since i moved into my apartment, so i've been on the lookout for a vintage player, both on etsy and in my estate sale/thrift store adventures. unfortunately, everything i've found has needed electrical work or new needles or was just not very attractive. i woke up last saturday morning determined to have a turntable by the end of the day. in the end, i decided to splurge a bit and get the portable record player from urban outfitters (there's one very close and i had a gift card).

the first record i played when i got it home and set up? my favorite vintage record ever (at least in the cover art department). it was actually a pretty fun little record! now i have a valid excuse to buy more vintage records when i come across them thrifting.

of course, i do have real records to play. i've been falling in love with the beatles all over again for the fiftieth time. every time i listen to the hey jude album, i'm instantly back at my grandmother's farmhouse the summer i originally fell in love with the lads and begged all my aunts and uncles for their discarded beatles vinyl. it was the beginning of my collection.

later that night, i did make a stop at my favorite record store in dallas (there was a living social 56% off coupon to be used, after all).

it was definitely a great music day.

28 March 2011

house beautiful // volume two

i finally had some time to scan more vintage advertisements from my 1955 house beautiful magazine! huzzah! are you ready to go back to 1955? let's hop to it, then.
frank lloyd wright paint colors? yes, please. i'll take that font, as well, thank you.
i'm totally loving the orange and gray color scheme.
this kitchen instantly reminded me of the draper's when they were fake-happy and still living together. yes?
why strain muscles and endanger health shoveling snow? indeed! imagine how excited the housewives must have been with the influx of new technology.
i'm not a huge fan of blonde furniture, but this set is awfully nice with those beautiful vintage lines.
that starburst pattern makes me so happy!

i've always loved the thought of cork flooring, but i had no idea it was a design concept in the 1950s. just goes to show that nothing is new, i suppose. and, obtw, that dining room chair is fantastic.

again with the amazing blonde furniture. that hutch is dreamy.
there were so many blanket ads in this particular issue (perhaps because it was a november issue?), so i tried to pick the prettiest.

these glasses are too much for me to handle. i want all of them. can you imagine stumbling upon these at an estate sale or thrift store? that's a happy thought. and i really, really love the packaging. those colors would be great in a vintage-inspired living room.
i certainly don't change the channel in anything less than a taffeta gown and sparkly strappy shoes, do you? 
this is just a gorgeous design. the furniture is impeccable, as is the modern open vibe. 

the description for these tiles makes me smile. ad copy was so different than it is today.
this design actually looks more comfortable than a modern-day sofa bed, yes? it is furniture with a future.

 girlfriend looks crazy stressed. i think she's about to hit her man over the head with that rod.

once again, the language of vintage ads delights me! fanciful, winsome, debonaire, blithe. i feel the same level of giddiness when i hear baby, it's cold outside every christmas. i can still hear my grandmother exclaim, "say, pass me another cigarette, will you, bill?" everyone just seems so innocent, except, of course, for the exotic portrait. she's clearly a vixen.
i don't know about naugahyde, but that sectional is brilliant. 

i think i have enough color ads to do one more volume, so stay tuned! you can see the first volume here.

27 March 2011

the exceptional internet // 03.27.2011

the internet is exceptional and here's why:

i can't wait to try this project! i come across vintage embroidered linens almost every weekend at estate sales and they're all so beautiful, but i never know what to do with them. annalea heart shows how to create a charming lampshade slipcover with heirloom (or somebody else's heirloom) pieces | via poppytalk

david lynch fan? check out his various coifs and their fine art equivalents | via jeremy larson

The Aurora from Terje Sorgjerd on Vimeo.

seeing the aurora borealis in person is extremely high up on my "things i must do in life" list. this incredible time lapse video was shot over the course of one week in below freezing temperatures in russia. amazing | via geekdad

i'm totally digging these 1950s-inspired wallpaper designs by sanderson. want | via deedee9:14

Horses Gonna Horse

Live-Action Cutscene

Born This Way

aled lewis' toy stories series is pure greatness | via whorange

i'm not gonna lie to you, nick pitera's one-man disney movie made me feel warm and fuzzy with nostalgia. i listened to disney music on cassettes well into my early teens. my first cd? the lion king soundtrack. okay, i'm a bit ashamed about that, but in my defense it was a gift from my brother | via doobybrain

hello, my favorite easter candy made even better. cakespy made cadbury creme deviled eggs. i don't think there's anything else that needs to be said | via serious eats

i'm just now trying to finish my collection of coralie bickford-smith's clothbound cover designs for penguin and a new series starts. i'm going to go broke, but i'm not really complaining. her work is so lovely | via design*sponge

these historic wtf photographs had me cracking up and scratching my head | via how to be a retronaut

25 March 2011

d.i.y. tutorial // vintage-inspired candles

this tutorial is long overdue. i've wanted to try making candles with vintage glasses and vintage ceramic planters for months, ever since i saw this post at whorange and this post at design*sponge, and i finally got around to whipping a few up this past weekend.

excited? good.

first, gather all the materials you'll need.

a saucepan (or a double boiler if you've got one)

a heat-resistant glass bowl. i used a vintage pyrex bowl, but you could also go for something like...

this heat-resistant glass bowl. just make sure whatever you choose fits over your saucepan because you don't want the steam to escape. note: if you have a double boiler, you don't need either of these types of heat-resistant bowls - lucky you!

candle-making goodies! i used a 2 lb. hunk of creme candle wax and 9" wax-coated wire wicks. if you'd like your candles to smell great, add some scent! i got concentrated scent blocks (each is 1/2 oz.), but you can also find liquid scents. also (not pictured), if you'd like a color other than white, pick up some candle dye. i did a quick google search at the store because i had gel food coloring and thought that it might work; unfortunately, gel food coloring will not cut it for shading candles.

other assorted tools: a cutting board and sharp knife; a pair of scissors; a candy thermometer (you can do without this if you don't already own one); and double pointed knitting needles (or pencils or chopsticks).

candle containers. this is the fun bit! i went around my apartment and chose a variety of knick-knacks that have accumulated over months of thrifting, including spare melamine tea/coffee cups. 

i have a soft spot for vintage ceramic planters in the form of animals. i can't leave them behind at a thrift store or estate sale if i see them, but i do not have a green thumb in the least. a candle is the perfect answer and how sweet would these be as baby shower gifts?

i love vintage juice glasses! i try to pick them up whenever i see them and they rarely come in full sets, so this is the perfect way to showcase the oddball glasses in your collection.

and speaking of oddball glasses, i find that vintage cocktail glasses, even if they come in full sets, usually have one or two small flaws. put that slightly faded cup to use!

i got so fanatical about finding neat candle containers that everything i saw, i said (to keith because we were at an estate sale), "look! this could be a candle! a sugar bowl? it could be a candle! a pyrex mixing bowl? it could be a quadruple-wick candle!" it got to the point of put a bird on it (if you're not watching portlandia, uh, come on and do so). make it a candle and put a bird on it!

before you begin to heat anything, take that block of candle wax and chop it down with a sharp knife. if you've decided on a concentrated scent block, chop that up now (1/4 oz. per 1 lb. of candle wax), as well, and set aside for later.

i cut my block into 16 squares, but i could (should) have gone smaller. you want uniform-sized chunks so everything melts evenly. having smaller blocks to work with means the wax will melt faster.

after your wax is cut down, prepare the wicks. hold the wick so the bottom silver cap is flat on the bottom of the candle container. place your double pointed needles (or pencils or chopsticks) across the opening of the vessel and gently wrap the wick around the needle, being careful not to move the silver cap too much. set aside, but not too far away - you'll want to pour your hot wax into these as soon as it's melted.

pour water into your saucepan and place your heat-resistant glass bowl over the top.

place you wax chunks into the heat-resistant bowl and, with the heat source on medium, begin to heat the water and wax. i decided to melt my wax in two batches, hence only eight blocks of wax.

then wait...

and wait...

and wait until the wax is almost completely melted.

i occasionally stuck my thermometer in to check the temperature. the wax should be completely melted at 180 degrees.

**if you are going to color your candles, add the dye right now, stirring until the color is uniform and you're pleased with the shade.** 

when everything has melted away, remove the wax from the heat and let it cool to 175 degrees (or just wait a minute or so).

when the wax has cooled a bit, add your reserved scent shavings. if you're making the candles in two batches like i did, only use half a block of scent at this point.

reserving approximately 3/4-1 cup of your melted wax, pour the wax into your awesome containers. if you need to adjust the wicks at this point, do so quickly as the wax starts to harden almost immediately.

**not pictured because i'm a dunce and forgot to take a picture: after about 30 minutes, poke holes in the still-soft wax near the wicks to let built-up air escape. fill the holes with the reserved wax, but don't go over the original fill line.**

when the wax has cooled completely (about 4-6 hours), remove the double pointed needles and clip the wicks to 1/4".

that's it! it was super simple and i think they turned out pretty cute! my 2 lb. hunk o' wax made five candles in various sizes.

enjoy your handiwork!

i love this little kitty.

you can spread the candles throughout the house or...

you can group them together in what appears to be some kind of weird vintage shrine. i vote for the former.