Friday, December 14, 2012

The Skinny -- A Christmas Memory

From Parisian Prairie Charm on Etsy
Everyone has certain holiday memories that stay with them throughout their life.  My most favorite memories of Christmas are the goodies my mom used to make (and still does...), and the time we spent together baking.  We had a double sided bar in the house where I grew up that was between the dining room and the kitchen. Most of the year it was a catch-all for all the things a busy family needed, but at Christmastime, it became the resting place for the goodie smorgasbord! We would have cookies, cakes, and candies enough to last us through to New Year's.  We each had our favorites -- mine are Gooey Butter Bars. 

I always knew that when she pulled out her stack of worn, stained recipes, that the fun was about to begin.  She would stockpile all the ingredients on the bar before baking, buying pounds and pounds of flour, sugars, nuts, and chocolate.  There was also, inevitably, a glass filled with candy canes and a gumdrop tree.  Her recipes were gathered from family and friends, neighbors and little old church ladies.  But the most exciting to me was when she pulled out this book, the Farm Journal Christmas Book, published in 1970.

This book has the recipe for my sister's favorite in it -- Seven Layer Cookies (without that icky butterscotch layer -- we are NOT butterscotch people!).  But I loved it because of the fun, bright pictures of gingerbread houses, candies, cookies, and best of all, crafts.  I looked at it for hours. 

My mom still uses her copy.  I never remember seeing the dust jacket on hers, it was probably lost before I was born.  A few years ago, I was able to find two copies of it -- one for me and one for my sister.  And there are copies that can be found very reasonably (like the one above, available on Etsy for $8!). 

So for today's post, beyond the reminiscing, I thought I'd share some great paper decorations shown in this gem of a book.  They may be designed in 1970, but I think they look pretty current!


(The measurement on the bottom lantern for the height of the divot is 1 7/8" and the width is 1 5/16".  Sorry, the scanner got blurry!) 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

On The Radar -- Wonkavision

Burberry Prorsum Spring 2013

We are candy freaks.  We love candy.  We don't necessarily eat candy all the time, but we always have it in the house.  Chocolate, jellybeans (they have to be Starburst!), Sweet Tarts, peppermint -- you name it, we've probably got it.

So imagine our delight when we started seeing pictures of designers' Spring/Summer 2013 lines.  Candy!  Suits done in slick candy colors with an almost sticky lollipop sheen.  Jelly style finishes to handbags, like the frosted plastic shoes we wore in the 1980s and 90s.  Candy dot designs for accessories, and sweet smelling caramel-like perfumes. Vibrant makeup with rhinestone candy dots.

Candy Bags from Furla, 2013

So indulge in these images of candy-inspired design.  Don't worry, we won't tell!  And we promise they are calorie-free!

Aquazzura, Spring 2013
Fendi bag and keychain, Spring 2013
Dior Spring 2013 makeup, Swarovski crystals, by Pat McGrath

Monday, December 10, 2012

Junk Love Monday: Holy Silver Tinsel Tree, Batman!
So, you watch Charlie Brown struggle with the meaning of Christmas. You take that journey with  him when he finds the lonely little puny tree. You fall in love with that single red ball. But let's back this thing up. Was that a smorgasbord of shiny tinsel trees that Charlie passed up? Why, Charlie? Why????

Part of the danger of working at an antique mall is the fantastic items that come in, and instantly go out, before a lowly sales clerk has time to count the pennies in her piggy bank. One of those items is the silver tinsel Christmas tree. Every year, we get a few. And every year, they get purchased before we have our chance. The top predator in the tinsel tree food chain is...the pom pom tree. The Blackbird girls LOVE silver tinsel pom pom trees. But, they usually sell before we even know they were in the store. So, imagine the gasp that issued from me when I turned the corner and saw one the other day. There was no question. We had to have it. And at just over 5 feet high, it's just the right size! (Size matters plenty in a house as packed as ours....) At the store, we tested a color wheel on the tree, because you have to be scientific about these things. Our procedure involved 1. plugging in the color wheel and aiming it at the tree; 2. pulling up the two comfiest chairs we could find; and 3. gossiping in the glow (as we would at home--you have to be realistic about these things) for approximately ten minutes. The colors were great, but the wheel got so hot that it burned our fingers. We had visions of the cat knocking over the wheel into something flammable, followed by me running through the yard with a flaming silver pom pom tree in search of the nearest hose. So, we just got the tree. Now, let the assembly begin!
In a laundry basket for transport purposes.
Sorting time!
Assembly, part 1 and 2.
Our plan for tree domination is nearly complete!

We had plans to purchase a colored light bulb to put in the lamp nearest the tree, but found something so much better: a color changing LED bulb. Because it is LED, it doesn't get hot. Also, it has a remote control (cue bluebirds of happiness). And...(drumroll, please) slowly rotates through 768 different color shades (which is more colors than even exist in the world!!!!). Okay, so it was the most expensive light bulb we've ever purchased (and is now a treasured fragile object), but a $35 light bulb is still cheaper than  a vintage color wheel and new house after the old one burns down, so we still feel justified. Plus, just look at it!         

We pulled out the vintage ornaments, plus some cool newer ones, and put on the the Charlie Brown Christmas Album for the decorating of the tree. There are some particularly special ornaments that got prominent spots, and we stacked ornaments down the branches to make the tree look rich and full. We also tested the fancy light bulb periodically, for scientific reasons, of course. Then came the moment when the cat crept up on us and tried to jump over our miscellaneous piles of tissue-wrapped ornaments, causing an avalanche and three heart attacks in the process (the cat wasn't happy with the end result of his maneuver). Luckily, there were no casualties.

The light bulb is in an inexpensive clip light fixture that plugs in, but the bulb is a little heavier than a standard one, so we had to use our brains to engineer a very rigged, and currently un-pretty, setup that would allow the light to aim at the perfect spot on the tree, without being too close to anything breakable, and clipped in such a way that it is less likely for the cat to knock it over and break our $35 light bulb (or something else, like pottery, which we have a whole lot of). So, the light is clipped to a stiff cardboard tube that was in a roll of fancy wrapping paper. The tube was inserted into my vintage metal cage hat stand, and the hat stand is tied to the end table, the chair, and the metal record stand, and then wedged in between the sofa and chair. Don't you love our fancy ribbon? As I always say, if you've gotta rig something, you might as well make it sparkly and blue....

And so, Christmas time is here. Happiness and cheer. And an awesomely sparkly treeeeeeeeeeee! (I'm pretty sure that's how the Peanuts gang sings it.)