Author: The Powder Keg

Retro geek.

Summer wardrobe staple


H&M has really cute tube tops on sale 2 for $10. Perfect with a pencil skirt, circle skirt, or your favorite jeans and some cute shoes.

They have a built-in shelf bra, which is probably enough for small-busted ladies. For the more amply endowed, it’s a safety layer for when your strapless bra slides down, so you’re a bit less visibly nipply.

Super versatile. And for $5? I will not feel guilty when I spill something on this vast landscape of whiteness.

Super versatile. And for $5? I will not feel guilty when I spill something on this vast landscape of whiteness.

Great retro look without the vintage price tag. Get on it.


An Irresistible Christmas gift

Imagine how wonderful it must have been to receive this vintage Christmas gift set with Irresistible perfume, powder, and skin freshener all in a beautiful box. Such gorgeous artwork!

Lovely packaging.

Lovely packaging.

The set contains body and face powder, perfume, and a cleanser.

The set contains body and face powder, perfume, and a cleanser.

The back of the powder box.

The back of the powder box.

I was able to find some ads online that confirmed my sense that this was from the 1930s… and also learned that Zoe Mozert created the artwork. The illustration resembles her drawings of Jean Harlow. No wonder it’s so gorgeous!

Ad, courtesy of Duke University library

The Vanity Plan

Now that my new desk is done, I’m starting to think about how I want to make over my old desk into a vanity. I’ve been scouring Pinterest for inspiration.

The old desk/new vanity came into my possession in 2003. My first mother-in-law gave it to me; she bought it at a yard sale in Colorado in 1968 or ’69 and painted it green. I replaced the hardware about five years ago because I wasn’t in love with the bronze drawer pulls.

Here’s the current set-up:

It's in the location where it will live permanently, but that's about the only thing permanent about this situation.

It’s in the location where it will live permanently, but that’s about the only thing permanent about this situation. Except maybe the cushion underneath, because the cats like to hang out there.

The old desk has great lines that lend themselves well to a two-tone paint job. I’m thinking a pale gray, with deep zinc or silvery accents… And a matching darker frame for the mirror. While I have old rectangular mirrors left over from the downstairs bathroom renovation, I’m not completely sold on those. As you can see, they’re in somewhat rough shape. Debating round or oval instead, which would also work better with the odd ceiling shape in that part of the room.

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.