Still sleepy getting dressed this rainy Friday morning, I opened up my jewelry box to choose some earrings and was startled to find no earrings at all.
I’d pulled the wrong drawer.
The opened drawer had a scattering of vintage costume jewelry pins, including my favorite Christmas ones. Like a magpie, I picked out a couple glittery ones and set them aside to start a bunch of daily posts.
One piece of glittery Christmas jewelry a day, just for the fun of it!
Here’s today’s pick.
Hard plastic holly sprig—I think that’s what it’s supposed to be—with pearlescent “berries” and a dusting of tiny glitter. It’s not signed so I don’t know the maker.
That one green berry just makes the whole arrangement, doesn’t it?
I never did wear any earrings today.
Want to play, Jane? If so, it’s your turn tomorrow!
I drove by the thrift shop yesterday on my way to the fabric store to pick up a couple dozen jingle bells for my sewing students’ next project.
Am I ever glad I did!
Actually, to back up a country mile in this story, I didn’t drive right by the thrift shop at all. I stopped there before I got to the fabric store, even though it meant taking two left turns on a busy road, which generally I try to avoid.
Because the fabric store always has dozens of jingle bells and if they ever run out they can get more in a jiffy.
But if I miss something marvelous at the thrift shop, well, I’m never going to see it again.
This is what I didn’t miss.
I love it for the sheer exuberant YELLOW. How can you not be just a little more cheerful looking at that? Yellow is a happy color.
But if I didn’t love it for the YELLOW, I’d love it for the big bold sculptural attitude it’s rocking.
It’s got big sweeping curves, and it’s got slouchy angles.
It’s got turned spindles, and it’s got sleek bentwood.
It’s even got nice carving.
Yes, the vintage yellow paint is chipping a bit, and underneath that it’s probably gorgeous oak, which was a shame to paint in the first place, but still. . . .
I love it. Not.gonna.change.a.thing.
End of story.
(That stained glass window behind the chair? That’s a different story for another day.)
Christmas Kitsch started coming out of storage yesterday morning while I was waiting for the Verizon guy to install FIOS. There’s not a single dish or tablecloth in the lot!
First up, a crazy eyed Santa on a tray.
It’s part of a trio. They’re displayed on my custom painted parquet floor in our TV/computer room. When they’re not posing on the floor they make great TV dinner trays for guys who like to eat while watching football.
One of my favorite decorations is a candle made from Styrofoam egg cartons with a fur flame. The “naughty” side of me daydreams about collecting egg cartons and making lots of these for Christmas gifts. The “nice” part of me leaves that idea as a pure idea. I’m sure everyone will thank me for abstaining!
Number two tacky favorite is a Santa made from a Clorox bottle, pompoms, pipe cleaners and dry cleaning bags. I’m amazed he survived the thrift store culling process in the first place. The cashier actually gave him to me for free. How cool is that? Want a tutorial on how to recreate him?
Then there are Mirostar candelabras with faded foil leaves. My heart goes pittypat over this foil stuff. I’d decorate the entire house in vintage foil if I had to narrow it down to one theme. But I don’t. So there.
And a Mirostar tabletop tree. I’m sad that it’s balding. The tinsel trimming is made out of a plastic that has gone brittle. It’s breaking off bit by bit. It still looks wonderful to me. Maybe this year I’ll switch out the bulbs to an assortment of colors and add some more ornaments to fill in the gaps.
And this is just the beginning. So much more to come. How much decorating have you done? What do you love to put out for Christmas?
We took the grandkids downtown on the train to see Christmas light shows yesterday afternoon. When we got back to the house the three-year-old was squealing, “I love Christmas! We’re having a party!” So we did.
There was no time to iron a tablecloth. The wrinkles didn’t really matter. I love the winged Santa graphics on this Francis Dearden design. It seemed perfect for a party with my favorite little people.
My helpers put out red striped Hazel Atlas plates, big paper napkins and forks for everyone.
Then we made a silly centerpiece with vintage goodies I’d found the day before in the thrift store: a caroling troll, a red and white candle, and a mismatched assortment of satin ornaments piled in a heavy glass tray.
They were so excited to do it all by themselves. I didn’t spoil the fun by making everything “proper”. I loved it just like this.
While they were setting the table I was in the kitchen making a huge batch of homemade macaroni and cheese. It’s so much better than that stuff in a box. All you need is a pound of noodles and a simple white sauce:
- 1/2 stick butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 cups milk
- 2 to 3 cups shredded cheese
- 2 teaspoons dry mustard
Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Whisk in the flour and salt. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is smooth and bubbly. Remove from heat. Whisk in the milk gradually. Return to burner and heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Whisk in the shredded cheese and dry mustard until the sauce is smooth. Pour over 1 pound of hot, cooked and drained macaroni.
I don’t even bother to bake it, just coat the noodles and serve. Yum!
This Old Row House is getting festive for December. I’ve set the table for six with a freshly thrifted linen tablecloth in an eye-popping paisley of magenta, red, olive and deep evergreen.
I have no idea how old this tablecloth is, but the colors and pattern remind me of the 60s or 70s. I could be entirely wrong. It’s not my typical style but I like its outrageous energy. It’s practically a party all by itself.
I’ve topped it with Fire-King jadeite restaurant ware plates, vintage green linen napkins that were never used, and translucent red handled flatware I bought ages ago. The center of the table is filled with McKee and Fenton jadeite candlesticks and Jeannette bud vases topped with red satin Christmas ornaments in three sizes. None of the greens match but it all works.
I think cheese manicotti and a fancy green salad would make a pretty good menu. What would you serve?
Thanksgiving: the Day After edition!
After the turkey, after the mashed, after the marvelous pies, after the dishes (LOTS of dishes!), after the sitting around watching Bringing Up Baby with Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant (the kids’ choice—clearly we’ve done at least one parenting thing right), it finally dawned on me that I’d never snapped a photo of the table. Rats!
So here’s the day after.
The dishes are vintage Pyrex in a pattern I have never seen anywhere else. It’s officially called “Scallop Burgundy.” I call it “My Favorite Cranberry Scallop-Border Pyrex Holiday Dishes.” I have a complete set for 8 plus a couple serving pieces.
They turned up years ago in a vintage shop, and the dealer was asking what at the time I considered an exorbitant price. I visited them weekly for a couple months, fingering the teacups and putting them back down. Then one day I went in the shop and the dealer had marked them down 50%.
Mine! Mine! All mine!
And there’s my lone butterscotch Bakelite knife, since all the rest of the pieces are still packed away somewhere in this almost-finished house renovation.
The tablecloth is cranberry-colored leaves on sky blue, an unusual color combo. The texture is unusual too: tiny honeycombs instead of plain weave.
And there’s all that’s left of the cranberry & dried cherry relish! If you like the taste of sweet and tart together, you will love this. The super-easy recipe is here. Yum!
I don’t get to do the turkey this year. I’m taking the desserts.
The jadeite pie pan is newer Fire-King 2000. The cake stands are also new. They’re made by Mosser Glass and still in production in four different sizes and at least four different colors.
I made a 10″ pumpkin pie (in the new Pyrex pan), an apple and craisin pie, and a Layered Pumpkin Cheesecake with a spice cookie crust. No, it’s not burnt on the bottom! (You can get the cheesecake recipe here.) But the pumpkin pie did slosh a little when I slid it into place in the oven so it’s got a few dark spots. Martha Stewart wouldn’t hire me, but my family won’t mind my less-than-photogenic desserts. I’m thankful I have so many people to love and share with today.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!
Gee, it looks like we only eat breakfast at This Old Row House. I’ll have to show some dinner placesettings soon!
This is what the kitchen table looked like on Saturday morning before I sliced the apples and pulled out my 1970s Betty Crocker cookbook.
It’s set with Fire-King jadeite restaurant ware and red Bakelite flatware. The anodized aluminum percolator belonged to my Grandmother way back when. The smell of coffee always reminds me of her house. Always. The sugar shaker is one of at least half a dozen my father bought at the flea market decades ago. The glass is about half an inch thick and the top is soldered silver. Imagine sitting down at a Woolworth’s luncheon counter and using a silver topped sugar shaker for your cuppa joe!
Back to cobblers and crisps. Here’s my spattered, well used recipe straight from Betty:
I don’t peel the apples. I cut them into half-inch chunks instead of slicing. Sometimes I substitute brown sugar, usually at 2/3rds cup. Never use margarine! Ick! And freshly ground nutmeg is the bomb. The spicy smell wafting through the house in the morning will get anyone out of bed. Even the not-morning people. Guaranteed.
Eat it for breakfast with scrambled eggs and bacon! Sure beats cold cereal!
This is what’s over my kitchen range, smack in the center of the house. Hard to miss, that is.
I found this plate a long time ago. It was already broken and mended by a previous owner who perhaps loved the sentiment as much as I do.
You can find these plates pretty easily. Janeray has one at This Old Row House, too, with a much cuter design than mine. (Post a picture, Jane!) The saying must have been popular in the ’50s and ’60s, maybe as a way to shrug off your sink full of dirty dishes or your piles of unfolded laundry or your neatnik mother-in-law’s raised eyebrows.
For me, though, this plate is a sassy retort to all the lifestyle “experts” out there. Why do they get to say which colors are hot this season, what clothes are in style, what projects are worth making? I don’t know those people and they don’t know me. Why should their opinions carry so much as the weight of a raisin in MY house?
They say pale neutrals are fashionable. I paint my rooms sunny yellow and deep green and hot peach. This is my house, I’ll do as I darn please.
They say the “in” color is emerald. I’m wearing my favorite pale aqua cardigan, with battered jeans and a vintage Vera scarf. This is my house, I’ll do as I darn please.
They say vintage china should be perfect, or don’t bother buying it. I’m totally keeping that broken-and-mended plate over my stove. This is my house, I’ll do as I darn please!
What are you doing at your house to proclaim your independence from other people’s taste?