Friday, May 24, 2013

Victory Book Club: On the Beach by Nevil Shute, 1957


As I started reading On The Beach I was pretty confused. The novel has a copyright date of 1957, and the story was taking place between 1961 and 1963. It also spoke of a war that wasn’t World War II, but didn’t seem to be Korea, Vietnam or the Cold War either. Since I had an older library copy, there was no jacket with a synopsis. After reading a quick online summary, I realized I was reading a work of fiction about World War III with the main players being China, Russia, England, and the US.
The Northern Hemisphere has been wiped out due to nuclear war. No one is sure how many bombs were dropped over a month long battle, but the Southern Hemisphere lives in fear of when the radiation cloud will reach them.

Of the United States Navy, two ships remain. One is off the Atlantic coast of South America and the USS Scorpion is in Australia. Both are submarines and will deploy on missions along the US coast, seeking signs of life. Captain Dwight Towers is the captain of the Scorpion, and has Lieutenant Peter Holmes of the Royal Australian Navy working with him during his stay down under.
The Lieutenant invites Captain Towers to his home for the weekend, and spends some time with his wife Mary, baby Jennifer and friend Moira Davidson. They enjoy the beach, sailing and a dinner party, all while wondering how long it will take for the nuclear devastation to reach them and how long before their inevitable death.
Each character reacts differently to the fact that they will eventually die. Captain Towers goes on like nothing has changed, and runs the US Navy by the books without alcohol on board or taking liberties in port. Others like Moira live more recklessly, taking advantage of their last months, weeks and days. No one corrects the other, because they know they must handle the impending death of mankind in a way that will get them through it. In the end every character has something in common; a little red box with two white pills.
On The Beach is truly riveting. The story is very human and shows the good and bad side of people awaiting their death over events they had no control of. I found myself looking up time periods, locations and technological facts to better understand Shute’s fictional world. I wish there had been a map in the cover of the book, but since it was an older library copy, maybe more recently published copies do? Although On the Beach is classified as Science Fiction, give it a chance. I’m really glad I did.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Show and Tell with Rita from Sammy's Grammy Vintage

I began to collect vintage items for my home from the very onset of my “one and only” marriage, homemaking, mothering, chauffer-ing, cheering, baking, cooking, canning, nursing, gardening, loving, shopping, knitting. Reason being: in the beginning we were too poor to buy new things. If I remember correctly, the first antique we bought was a round oak dining table and 4 chairs. The poor, old antique chairs could not stand up under the pressure of 4 males (1 husband and 3 sons) who leaned back on the chairs, putting their weight on the 2 back legs of said chairs until the chairs collapsed. Next purchase: a new set of “old” chairs. And new house rule: “NO LEANING BACK ON THE CHAIRS”. The beautiful table still resides in my dining room (covered in a cloth I made from red toile). 

That was the beginning of my love affair with vintage. One of the things I loved to hunt for at estate sales was vintage table linens, especially napkins, looking for the ones with embroidered monograms, tatting on the edges, or crocheted edges. Once I had enough of them to satisfy the drawers of my vintage armoire, I still was addicted to hunting for them. What to do, what to do? My answer to this quandary – re-purpose them and sell the results. So began my long association with BORN AGAIN ANGELS. Unfortunately, the angel craze seems to be passe’. I sold the last one in my etsy shop at Christmastime. I do have one of them “hanging” in each room of my house. My addiction to estate sales is still intense. I buy what I can remake, re-purpose, re-imagine into something adorable for my shop.

You can find me and my creations at

*Have a fabulous story to share about your vintage collection? Join Show & Tell! Just send me a note for the details.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Metalcraft Products Steel Furniture

Metalcraft Products out of Lynwood, California sure knew how to appeal to the housewife and working husband during the atomic age. Offering furniture made of "Space-Age Materials" – or steel – their designs offered strength and durability, the ease of cleaning and yet appealed to the Mid Century Atomic look.
The “people proof family furniture” for the living and dining room combined tubular steel frames with wood tones, foam filled cushions with a vinyl finish and durable plastic table tops.
In the children’s room, bunk beds made of the same strong steel were tough enough for boys, but more delicate paint colors made them likeable for girls too. Matching chests and desks completed the child’s bedroom and were also made to last and easy to clean. I’m loving the aqua and blue Deluxe Model bedroom set!

For the unexpected overnight guest, Metalcraft Stowaway and Rollaway beds solved the problem. The steel framed beds could be used at home in a spare bedroom, or while camping and were easy to store at just 7 inches thick.

I wish I was able to find out more information about the company, but I didn’t find much out there. If you do, please leave a comment.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Show and Tell with Sara from Sarara Vintage


Photos by Sarara Vintage All Rights Reserved
I have been collecting antique and vintage jewelry since I can remember. I also started designing accessories early as well. So, needless to say, I chose to discuss an art deco Egyptian Revival style 1920s armband. I purchased this estate item with the intent to put it up in the shop. I collect Navajo jewelry, 1920s, and art deco pieces as well as 70s designer necklaces. I wear large jewelry, I mean really big! That said, I try to separate business from pleasure and have sent many an item that I would love to have owned up for sale. I think that is what makes a good selection for your brand. Are you practically crying because you’re selling it? Not everything you sell should be your style, but I say edit because it still needs to be amazing.

This piece is a thick gilt stamped brass band with Egyptian style figures, flora and deco designs all around it! And it is CHUNKY. Each time I go to sell it I just can’t, it fits me well and honestly, as I love Egyptian Revival, this is a deal breaker. I have tried to find information about the maker but cannot dig anything up. My obsession with the art deco era designs, especially those of the 20s is based on my appreciation of the aesthetic at the time. Jewelry pieces of this era are often too small for me. I usually gravitate towards the chunky flapper beads and bangles from the 20s. You can see a whole collection split between my Etsy shop and Sarara Vintage Couture where my focus is such jewelry.
*Have a fabulous story to share about your vintage collection? Join Show & Tell! Just send me a note for the details.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Victory Book Club: Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart, 2007

I am jealous of the author’s life and I bet you will be too once you’ve read this memoir. Marjorie Jacobson and Marty Garrett, best friends from Iowa University set off to spend a summer in New York City after hearing from their sorority sisters what great jobs they had found. While seeking employment at all of the fine department stores along 5th Avenue, the ladies try Tiffany’s and become the first women to work on the sales floor as pages.
The story takes place in the summer of 1945 with much going on in the world. World War II is a top theme in the story with the girls attending dances and other social events meeting midshipmen along the way. The Navy boys they met often came from civilian life with a college degree and would have a living after the war so they could be a great catch.
Despite the war Marjorie and Marty spent their time experiencing all things New York. Through the people they met they were able to have a taste of high society, rubbing shoulders with celebrities at nightclubs and restaurants. They did not shop much since at the time it was more patriotic to wear what you had then buy new clothing. The girls did wear Jantzen swimsuits to their trip to the beach.
Speaking of fashion, did you know about the WAVES? The Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Services division of the US Navy came about with WWII. Surprisingly enough the uniforms were made by couture designer Mainbocher. I encourage you to do a quick google search for both the WAVES and Mainbocher for some fantastic photos. I imagine nothing was more luxurious than serving your country while wearing couture.
With women entering the military, Marjorie also touches on the fact that women were beginning to attend larger universities such as Yale. Unfortunately the conflict between higher education and the home remained. Once married, was a women’s education a waste of time and money? I think not but it was heard to sway mom and dad back then.
Truly I could not get enough. I read the book in two days with regret that every page I turned would bring me closer to the end. Marjorie’s excitement of living in the moment really transcends the pages when you read about her adventures. I just kept thinking, “Wow, this was someone’s life!” And a very exciting one. Could you imagine, Time Square at the end of WWII? Walking down 5th Avenue and seeing all of the beautifully dressed women in dresses, gloves and hats? The memoir includes some photos in the middle of the book which are just the cherry on top!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Show & Tell with Pam from Vintage Renude

I started collecting Fiesta Ware when I was about 19 or 20 and got my first place of my own. My Grandmother had died recently and all her of belongings were stored in my mom's garage. I needed dishes, pots and pans and all the things to start building a home. She had Fiesta dishes and glassware. I liked it so much I started looking for more pieces at thrift stores and garage sales. It was still cheap and plentiful back then. The cobalt lamp is my favorite. They were an exclusive for Buffums Dept Store and much of the inventory was broken in shipment due to an accident. So these are very rare.

 My other obsession is with vintage linens. I have tons and tons of them from tiny doily's to oversize tablecloths and vintage linen bedding. I can't resist buying them either. So much delicate workmanship and labor. They are just so beautiful. I use them every day all over my home.

Visit Pam's shop Vintage Renude and shop her linens! Stay connected via Facebook and Pinterest too.
*Have a fabulous story to share about your vintage collection? Join Show & Tell! Just send me a note for the details.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Aluminum Window Awnings and Patio Covers

West Anaheim is a hub for Ranch homes, many with aluminum awnings. Some are horizontal slats, others vertical. Some are just silver, while others are painted to match the color of the exterior walls and trim. No matter the style or color, they no doubt add a retro appeal to Ranch homes. Of course they have a functional use too by shading rooms from the hot summer sun. An added bonus is hearing the ping of rain fall against the aluminum awnings.

Aluminum window awnings by The Sunshine Grove

The National Park Service Preservation Brief of Awnings describes aluminum awnings as being widely available by the 1950s due to being longer-lasting with lower maintenance than canvas awnings. The awnings were much more common with homeowners who could paint the slats, or pans, “to create stripes or other decorative patterns” as well as arrange them horizontally or vertically.
Aluminum window awnings by The Sunshine Grove

Aluminum kept the awning relevant to the postwar ranch house and afforded an economical way to update older structures. Colorful awnings helped suburban dwellers distinguish their homes from other, similar, models in the neighborhood.”
- National Park Service

Flexalum Aluminum window awnings advertisement 1961 by The Sunshine Grove
This Flexalum Aluminum Awning advertisement appeared in Better Homes and Garden July 1961 issue. Our Ranch became well dressed in 1961 with two window awnings and a matching aluminum patio cover. The window awnings are still on the windows, but the patio cover removed years ago. Aluminum home awnings may be a thing of the past, but they add such a great retro look to Ranch homes. Retro Renovations has compiles a list of places you can still order aluminum awnings for your Ranch home. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Victory Book Club: An Introduction

With so many people attracted to vintage, it’s interesting to see what vintage means to people. To some it might mean the extravagances of Downton Abbey in the First World War era or the flashy disco beats of the 1970s. I think of vintage as Mid Century or more specifically World War Two through the mid 1960s.

Finding vintage treasures at flea markets or on Etsy give us the hands on appeal to the eras we love and can give us something to collect.  We can feel like we belong to the past while literally holding onto its remnants. For me it’s vintage Pyrex. I can only imagine how the concept of a dish that you can use to prepare food, cook, serve and best of all, store your leftovers in, would have been exciting to the housewives of the day. It doesn’t hurt that the dishes are colorful and beautiful to look at when on display.

We are exceptionally lucky to be able to share our knowledge of vintage on the internet. Just Google vintage lifestyle and pages of blog addresses appear. Better yet search YouTube for tutorials on fashioning your hair after Bettie Page or even how to apply an everyday retro look of red lips and cat eyeliner. I’ve even seen blogs that feature vintage recipes where the main ingredient is gelatin to make a variety of meals just like in the 1950s.

I got to thinking about what life was really like back then. Nowadays the 1950s housewife is glamorized and the 1960s ad man made into a hero. College came to mind and when it was time to write a research paper I would sit down with library books with countless post-its sticking out the tops and learned about gothic literature, feminist writing and countless other themes. So why not apply the same to vintage?

Since you probably don’t want me to bore you with text book accounts of historical events I’ve decided to read novels; Fiction, memoirs and other exciting adventures written during or about the First World War era through the late 1960s.

Join Victory Book Club and decide which books you’d like to read yourself starting next Friday! If you have a suggestion for me, send it my way.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Oneida Twin Star Flatware

I like to fall asleep “day dreaming” about uncovering great vintage finds at estate sales. Sometimes I imagine finding an entire box of pristine Pyrex bowls or perfect 1940s or 1950s dresses in my size. And of course, they are priced really cheap! A girl can dream, right?

I’ve yet to have one of these magical vintage dreams come true, until last month. Jeremy and I stopped in at an estate sale but didn’t expect to find much since it was the end of the last day of a 3 day sale. I like to stop in the kitchens at estate sales first usually to hunt down any remaining colored Pyrex. While browsing the kitchen I spotted the handle of a butter knife etched with starbursts. I immediately recognized the pattern as Oneida Twin Star flatware. My grandmother has bits and pieces of the set and I’d always dreamed of having a full set of my own.

Oneida Twin Star Serving Spoons and Fork via The Sunshine Grove
Twin Star Serving Spoons and Fork 

The butter knife was half covered by a table cloth. As I moved the table cloth for a better look I noticed that there wasn’t just one butter knife, but almost a complete flatware set. They were in a plastic utensil sorter, which I clutched to my chest as I asked Jeremy wide-eyed, “Do you know what this is?” He didn’t. Besides the fact that the set had sentimental value and that aesthetically I liked it, I didn’t really know much about it either. I set out to find the history of the Twin Star pattern and share it with you.
Oneida Twin Star Flatware via The Sunshine Grove
Twin Star teaspoon, tablespoon, butter knife and salad fork.

In 1931 General Mills began offering coupons for spoons, forks and knives inside of their flour products. Over 50 General Mills products offered the coupons in the 1950s and were redeemable for flatware table settings, pots, cookbooks from the Betty Crocker Catalogue and an Embassy or Majestic Chest to keep the flatware in. Eventually the coupons became box top points on GM boxes, but due to consumer changes the program ended in 2006 after a 75 year run.

Betty Crocker Coupons from 1965 Courtesy of Gram's Recipe Box
In the 1950s the Betty Crocker Catalogue began offering full table settings with the tag line “Solid Stainless by Oneida Community Silversmiths.” The modest housewife could take advantage of the Thrift Plan which offered single pieces of the flatware sets for mostly coupons while paying a small fee for the shipping and handling. For those that loved the pattern and needed to have the complete set immediately, the Speed Plan allowed for a cash purchase with a few coupons used for a discount. It does not appear that the sets offered in the Betty Crocker Catalogue were sold in stores.

Twin Star Catalogue Courtesy of Atty's Vintage

Oneida’s Twin Star flatware set offered 19 pieces which included serving flatware and a set for children. For $1.25 you could start collecting the complete set with a 3 piece table setting of fork, butter knife and spoon. A highlighted selling point was that the flatware didn’t need to be polished because it kept its luster. The butter knives had an option for a hollow handle which according to the advertisement was a luxury.

Oneida Twin Star Spoons via The Sunshine Grove
Twin Star Fruit Spoon, Iced Tea Spoon and Sugar Sppon
Oneida Twin Star via The Sunshine Grove
Twin Star Butter Spreader and Sea Food Fork.

I have not been able to find exact dates of production. Around the web it would seem that Twin Star was either exclusive to 1959 or was discontinued then. I found a magazine advertisement from November 1961 for “America’s most popular” Twin Star flatware set. The offer expired January 1962. The Betty Crocker Catalogue order form offering Twin Star flatware offers the products through September 1965. With a bit of browsing, Twin Star was available well beyond the 1959 date. Maybe that is actually the release date for the flatware?

My flatware set is not complete, but I’m going to keep looking now that I know vintage day dreams do come true.