Month: April 2014

Vintage shopping in DC?

Next week, I’m heading to Washington DC for a tradeshow. I’ve never been to DC but have heard wonderful things about it. I’ll get in on a Saturday and leave on Thursday… while I’ll be busy at the tradeshow most of the time, I always like to have a plan in case I have some unexpected free time to slip away.

Retro Roadmap doesn’t have any listings for vintage shopping in DC, so I’m on my own to find the hot spots. Janey of Atomic Redhead has tons of great finds from Buffalo Exchange–there are two shops in the DC area; I hope to be able to scope out at least one. Whichever is closer to the Convention Center.

Any recommendations?

Map of DC, copyright Lonely Planet.

Map of DC, copyright Lonely Planet.


A nice surprise


When I checked the mail yesterday, I had a lovely surprise…this vintage postcard from my cousin Becky! I feel bad that I can’t reciprocate as they’re on the road, just finishing up in Taos.

The postcard continues a long-standing correspondence–when we were younger, we exchanged frequent letters. Becky saved all of them and sent me a huge envelope stuffed with all our letters a while back. While I’m too embarrassed to read them now, I know some day they’ll be great amusement. I love getting letters in the mail – there’s something sweetly exciting about it that email just can’t match. I like seeing people’s handwriting and feeling the texture of paper between my fingers.

Anchors aweigh!

I don’t typically do outfit posts, but this skirt from eshakti is too fun not to share. I wore this yesterday–it was terribly windy, and the lighting is too bright, as I took photos early in the morning before I sat at my desk and wrinkled the skirt. Ah, well. Lessons learned for future photo shoots.

My new skirt from eshakti.

My new skirt from eshakti.

This is the fourth item I’ve purchased from eshakti, and I have to say, the more I buy from them, the more I like them. I love the customization options. In this skirt, for example, I removed the pockets, as I’m already wide at the hips and tend to catch pockets on the handle to the screen door as I’m running in and out of the house. I’ve also been impressed with the quality and attention to detail in their clothes. Both the dresses I’ve bought have lingerie fasteners to keep bra straps in place, which I wouldn’t expect for that price. I’ll highlight those dresses in future outfit posts.

As I’ve mentioned before, I have very little in the way of actual vintage clothing, for a variety of reasons. I tend to buy modern clothes with a retro vibe and accompany them with vintage accessories. This outfit is a pretty good example of that.

Outfit details:
Shrug: Ann Taylor, gift.
Cowl neck top: J.C. Penney
Skirt: eshakti
Handbag: vintage Evans, from Treasures Antiques
Shoes: Audrey Brooke, DSW
Necklace (which you can’t really see): gift from Tim, featuring a 50 yen piece from our trip to Japan.


A different take on the Easter egg hunt

Here I am in my Easter dress, with cute yet practical shoes, ready for egg-hunting.

Here I am in my Easter dress, with cute yet practical shoes, ready for egg-hunting.

One of the many things I enjoy about my mother-in-law is her habit of surprising people with gifts of the mundane. Think laundry detergent and lint rollers, measuring spoons and meat thermometers. Her rationale: “Nobody wants to spend money on that crap.”

Smart lady. She is so right. While initially I found these sorts of gifts baffling, soon I realized that I could take the $15 I would have spend on a giant container of high-efficiency laundry detergent and get myself a new MAC lipstick instead. Ahhh. Small luxuries.

The annual Easter egg hunt is a magnificent celebration of these types of gifts. My in-laws search far and wide for random inexpensive things that everyone needs. Then my MIL sorts them into piles kind of by price and covers the piles under a tablecloth so when we show up, there’s a big lumpy pile of wonderment on the dining room table.

lumpy piles of wonderment.

Behold: lumpy pile of wonderment.

In the middle of the table on the deck, where the hunt traditionally kicks off.

In the middle of the table on the deck. Seriously.

My sister-in-law (48), husband (44), nieces (15 and 17) and I (39) traipse around the backyard looking for eggs (some of which my father-in-law has hidden in plain sight, like we were all still 5) while MIL yells from the deck, “You’re each supposed to get 12!” And we all stop and count and those of us who have found too many eggs hand them over to the others.

And then we realize we’re still missing a few and my FIL tries to remember where he hid them all and describes the most covert locations: “Did you get the one in the plant pot around the corner? How about the ones behind the wood pile? I think there were two under the rhododendron…”

Once we’ve collected all the eggs, we go into the house and open them all. Inside each egg, my MIL has tucked a slip of paper with a number, corresponding to the number of piles of gifts she has on the table. Again, we’re each supposed to have X number of 1s, Y number of 3s, et cetera, so there’s more swapping.

Then… the selection. She pulls the tablecloth off like a magician to reveal piles of lip balm and 9-volt batteries, nail files and miniature flashlights, candy bars (hey, it’s Easter) and plant fertilizer spikes. And always one section of scratch tickets. For the pile designated 1, we choose our treasure in alphabetical order. Andi selects, then Grace, Kathleen, me, then Tim. For the second pile, we go in reverse. Then we move on to youngest to oldest, oldest to youngest, then something like order of birthdays until we’ve mixed it up in a bunch of different ways and all gotten to pick first. (I have no idea how she came up with these rules, but it’s part of the fun.)

We all go home with piles of silly little conveniences. Every time I reach for one throughout the year – especially things I never would have gotten for myself – I think of the Easter egg hunt and smile.

Hula-girl emery board, anyone?

Some of this year's goodies.

Some of this year’s goodies.

Let’s talk about inflation.

It’s tax day. What better time to think about money and the economy, right? Probably depends on whether you filed early or you’re rushing off to the post office today; I’ll bet it’s also a delicate subject if you discovered you owed Uncle Sam more than expected. Anyway, some interesting data on household budgets:

From the booklet "Establishing a Home" published by the New York Herald Tribune. Copyright 1940.

From the booklet “Establishing a Home” published by the New York Herald Tribune. Copyright 1940.

This chart fascinates me. It shows the percentage of a two-person family’s annual income spent across a variety of categories in 1935-1936. I love that both reading and tobacco made the list. Reading DEFINITELY makes the list in my book!

Ironically, my commuting costs, car payment and insurance premiums cost 6.7% of my annual income–it’s not entirely unreasonable to think that even though this guide was published in 1940, some of the other percentages still hold true as well. Taxes and medical expenses, probably not, but I’m curious about some of the others.

I can’t even imagine trying to live on $1500 a YEAR. For TWO PEOPLE. Not in the United States, anyway.

Compact jackpot.

On Friday, my friend Amy emailed me a photo of a compact/vanity set she saw while out poking about at Antiques on Elm.

Amy thought I'd like this. (photo by Amy Janine Coleman)

Amy thought I’d like this. (photo by Amy Janine Coleman)

BEAUTIFUL. It’s a Shari Langlois set…originally it held powder, rouge, lipstick, and perfume, and there was a glass lid in matching pink Depression glass that would have covered the whole thing. While this set is missing the perfume and the lid, I still had to have it – the details on the powder and rouge compacts are simply stunning.

On the bottom of both compacts, you can read the Langlois New York hallmark.

On the bottom of both compacts, you can read the Langlois New York hallmark in an elegant script.

Lately I’m on a crown kick. How could I pass up this bejeweled beauty?

While exploring Antiques on Elm, a shop I’d never visited before, I found two more treasures that simply had to come home with me: a Girey compact with its original box and an Evans carryall that will be perfect for Easter.

In a recent post highlighting my Evans collection, I lamented that my carryall is missing its lipstick. Well, this one isn’t! Everything in this carryall is intact…the comb, lipstick holder, and powder puff are all accounted for. And while I’ll admit that I’m typically not a fan of pastels, this piece feels Eastery to me. It will work nicely with my blue Heart of Haute Milan dress.

So pretty and springy!

So pretty and springy!

I rationalized treating myself with these nice finds as a “congrats on your new job” celebration. Not that I need much of an excuse to buy compacts.


Day 3 of my new adventure

I’m about to start my third day of working at home. So far, all the people I’ve encountered have been wonderful. Lots of Skype meetings!

While I still don’t have my desk, I’ve done some things to make the space feel more like me–and more like an office. (Butters has already attempted to eat the spider plant several times.)

A whiteboard/bulletin board makes the space feel like an office.

A whiteboard/bulletin board makes the area feel more like a work-space.

I also hung up my pin-up girls…over my monitor, so they don’t show up during video calls, but I can see them whenever I look up.

Petty girls and Vargas pin-up

Petty girls and Vargas pin-up

On my desk, I’ve got a cool Rosie the Riveter mouse pad, plenty of coffee, and of course, the ubiquitous picture of my grandmother and her 1940 Dodge.

Rosie the Riveter mouse pad & my favorite photo of my grandmother for motivation.

Rosie the Riveter mouse pad & my favorite photo of my grandmother for motivation.

I’ve promised myself that I will leave the house every day for at least my first three months of working at home in order to fight my natural inclination to avoid people and become a hermit. Monday I went to yoga, yesterday I tackled the grocery store, and tonight I plan to hit up a yoga class again. Friday I’ll have lunch with a friend. Thursday night, Tim Waltner will choose our adventure and I’ll go wherever he takes me.

When people learn that I work from home, they typically respond with a statement like, “Oh, that’s great – you can spend all day in your pajamas!” But I can’t. Really, Skype meetings aside, that’s just not who I am. Call it part of my vintage proclivities, but I can’t bring myself to work if I’m not dressed, with hair done and make-up in place. When I taught college classes, I refused to grade papers at home if I wasn’t dressed. Somehow it just felt unprofessional to me. I don’t care if other people choose to work in sweatpants–if that suits them, then I won’t judge.

Pretty confident that situation won’t change six months down the road, but stay tuned.