Monday, March 29, 2010

Orphans and Oddities and Another Contest

Now that Tim and I have decided to open our vintage/handmade store in some yet to be determined city (did I tell you guys this?), I've been sharpening my eye for those one-of-a-kind vintage finds.  Here are some recent finds, some of which weren't really found so much as unwillingly thrust upon us, and others that aren't worth the paper they were printed on except as a hilarious reminder of the collective foibles of our society, i.e. Glamour Shots.

We found the little man to the right and his sheep/dog in an antique store in a small town in South Georgia.  The man who owned the store was very kind and gave it to us for the excellent price of $10.  Not a bad deal for the adoption of a creepy child AND what looks like a genetically mutated dog.  What really gets me are the shoulders, or lack thereof.  My question is, at what point in history did this type of  portraiture seem normal.  Whatever.  I'll gladly hang it on my dining room wall to freak out and amuse our guests.

I found this odd little chair at a Goodwill last year and for the longest time I thought it was a sewing chair because it had this little compartment underneath the seat.  Only recently did I find out that it's actually a valet or butler's chair that's missing it's hanger which would normally be screwed to the back, under the little wooden tray.  This type of chair was originally designed in 1953  by a Danish man named Hans Wegner to serve as an all-in-one caddy for a man's personal items.  I'm only sharing this knowledge with you because I just learned it on Wikipedia and I'm feeling super well-informed.  I doubt this chair is worth anything because it was made in the early 70s by a Michigan company that apparently now specializes in wooden hangers, but I thought it was a pretty cool show piece.  I've almost gotten rid of it a few times but something makes me hang on to it.  What can I say, I just like the weird thing.

Alright, let me just come out and say it, I'm officially obsessed with 1950s and 60s Pyrex.  I mean, it's just so cute and you can find quite a lot of it for pretty cheap.  I realize that I'm kind of jumping on a vintage bandwagon here but every time I go thrifting now I have my eye out for that unmistakable milk glass/brightly colored pattern.  Just this weekend I found this lid to a baking dish.  I didn't find the dish, but I had to get it because, well, look at the thing.  Look at those colors!  Come on!  After doing a little research I've only been able to find this particular pattern on a website called Pyrex Love which shows you all the Pyrex patterns.  Even on that site it's listed as an "unknown" pattern, but I think it's pretty awesome.  I'm just waiting for the day I stumble upon it's brother.  That will be a good day.

These "things" have kind of been creeping me out ever since they came into our house.  We got them in, what else, a secret santa exchange.  I believe they're bull horns carved to look like peacocks and made into bookends?  Whatever, the orange eyes are scary.  Plus, they seem to be slowly decaying.  Weird.  Tim wouldn't let me sell them at the yard sale we had this weekend, so here they remain staring down at me from the bookshelf as I type this.  One of them is missing an eye.  Eek.

Last but not least, an item totally out of place in this blog which I try to keep completely devoid of any glamour of any kind.  Especially glamour spelled with a "u".  We found this sitting on the shelf of one of the scuzzier local thrift stores and it was calling out to us.  What a throwback.  I don't exactly long for the days when there was a Glamour Shots studio in every mall in the country, but how can you not get a kick out of this.  Even back then it was ridiculous but now I feel like it offers us some sort of insight into the psyche of the average American circa 1993, which is when this picture was taken.  So, I'm having another blog contest.  Here's the scoop:

Come withe a name, hometown, and occupation for this lovely lady and leave a comment on my blog.
I pick the winner based completely on my own preference.
Winner gets a free pack of funny animal cards from my store, pictured here.
Now go out and be funny and poignant and don't disappoint me!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Growth, Decay, and Rock n' Roll Marching Bands

Many, many things going on of late. I'm just going to bunch them all together here and hope it doesn't sound too rambling.

Last week we trekked my little car down to Florida for the second annual Harvest of Hope Festival. I'm happy to report that there was a noticeable drop in the number of gutter punks roving the fairgrounds this year.  Much less smelly, even with the addition of the muddy ground.  Harvest of Hope is a great organization that raises money for the families of migrant workers.  We saw some great bands this time around, including The Mountain Goats, Billy Bragg, and Broken Social Scene.  One of the best acts we saw was a band from Chicago called Mucca Pazza, a sort of rag tag punk rock marching band.  They were awesome and amazingly well-arranged for having about 20 members dancing around the stage with horns, pom-poms, and guitars.  You should check out their music but don't miss a live show if you can catch it.

On the seven hour car ride back to Athens we drove the back-roads and meandered around some old Southern towns.  It was a bit sad to see the downtowns with all the empty buildings.  Tim and I are planning on moving in the next year and opening our own store in some unknown place.  All the empty storefronts made me feel both nervous and excited to get started.  It's like when you begin a big project and the task seems insurmountable but you can see a glimmer of the ultimate results.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch . . . we've started once again planting our little garden.  I'm afraid we're not very attentive gardeners, but I'm determined that this year we'll get more than just a handful of beans and tomatoes from our harvest.  I spent the day digging up the soil, planting seeds, and redesigning our compost so we don't lose so much to little scavengers.  As I was digging through the compost I came upon a big colony of earth worms.  I love those little guys.  They're so simple and singular.
Cat in a basket . . .



Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sometimes People Suck.

Not all the time, but sometimes. I'll give you a good long blog about all the scrambling about I've been doing over the past week, but for now I just want to vent a little. That's what the internet is for, right? Right.

Now that we're all on the same page let me start by saying that I'm sure none of you people suck. In fact, I'm pretty sure I know most of you reading this and I don't purposely associate myself with suckiness, lameness, fakery, egotism, or jerk-titude. And yes, according to spell-check I made up 60% of those words.

Don't get me wrong, we all have our days. I can be downright unpleasant to be around sometimes, but I don't think I'm mean, or at least I don't try to be.

If you're wondering if I'm just babbling, let me explain. As most of you know, I work in retail bookstore as a necessary side project to keep me in yarn and felt. Working retail comes with the understanding that sometimes the people you run into are having bad days and don't want to talk to you. Fine with me. I've been in the same boat. These aren't the people that concern me. Usually they say "No thanks" and are on their way.

However, there's a special place in hell for the small percentage of the population who feel it's their God-given right to treat people like crap and expect to be rewarded for it. The truly awful part is that they very often are. Everyone's heard the saying, "The customer's always right." Oh, how that saying is the bane of my working life. If that phrase comes into play it usually means the exact opposite: the customer is completely wrong but wants what they want and thinks that screaming at enough peons will do the job, and it usually does.

Let me tell you why I'm ranting about this. Today I had a woman accuse me/the company I work for of emailing customers coupons that don't work just to get them into the store to buy something. When I explained to her that the coupon would work if she could just give me the proper phone number associated with the account so the register would accept the coupon she told me to stop talking and to "wipe that look off [my] face". I'm assuming the look she meant was me biting my lip to stop myself from saying something I'd regret.

Let's pause here for a minute to evaluate the situation from this woman's point of view. You're in a store, talking to a complete stranger, you're getting a little frustrated, and before pausing to even think that the person you're talking to has no control over the policies of a huge corporation, you start verbally bitch-slapping them.

Okay, let's pick it back up. It's at this point in the conversation that I've decided to stop trying to placate this person and start defending myself. I say in a very direct, firm tone, "please don't speak to me like that." I'm not screaming at her, I'm not accusing her of anything, I just want her to treat me like a human being and not the grime under her finger-nails. In my experience, the direct honest approach works about 75% of the time. Perhaps the customer is taken aback by your bluntness and obvious unwilling-ness to take crap from them. Perhaps they even realize that they've been a total ass and are only making themselves look bad. Whatever the reasons, it did not work in this case.

While violently slamming her credit card on the counter she screams, "I told you to stop talking. Now just ring up the damn book".

I repeat, "Ma'am, there's no reason to speak to me that way."

Then, here it comes, the inevitable, "What's the name of your supervisor, JENNY?!" As if my daring to ask her to speak in the tone, volume, and level of sanity of a normal human being were breaking some unspoken retail barrier where you, the worker, are meant to assume that every word out of their, the shopper's, mouth was ordained by God and must be obeyed accordingly lest you be smote by the molten fires of His wrath.

What most people don't know is that it's almost impossible for a customer to get an employee fired or even reprimanded beyond a light, "Maybe next time you should just pass it off to a manager." I've never seen anyone lose a job this way. A manager/supervisor has likely been working in retail for quite a while and has seen their share of crazies. They know it's part of the business and are far more likely to believe an employee they've known for a while than stranger whose raving like a banshee at them.

Anyway, you have to take it in stride, and it won't have any long-term effects. I just felt like getting it out of my system. Also, although I know none of you are jerks, if you're ever in a situation at a retail store where you can feel yourself becoming frustrated about something, stop and think about what you're doing and who you're talking to. More likely than not the store clerk has no power and yelling at them for something beyond their control will only make you look like an ass. If you feel strongly enough about the situation, politely ask to see a manager who will probably give you what you want because that's what they're paid to do.

That's my rant.

Tip your servers.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Vintage Delights

I love shopping handmade on Etsy, but there's also another equally awesome group of sellers who devote their lives to hunting down those dusty gems and bringing them to light. Here are some treasures I found . . .

I've become somewhat obsessed with these vintage pyrex Cinderella bowls. My sister and I bought a set for my mom for Christmas in a different pattern. This is probably my favorite pattern/color combination. The pattern is called Amish Butterprint and is super adorable. You can get this set for yourself (or me) at Jen's Closet.

I love these little yellow kitchen containers. If I had any counter space I would get them for myself. Find them at the Art Deco
s shop.

Come on, this is adoorbale, right? It might even fit me. Maybe. Even a size 13from the 60s might be bit snug. I tried on my grandmother's gorgeous wedding dress which was labeled a size 8 or 10 I think. I couldn't even get a leg in it. It's a dress. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating, but you get the idea. Find this awesome dress here.

I think this little jacket would look amazing on the right person. It's pretty Victorian, but I think you could turn it really modern with the right look. Find it here.

Okay, that's it for now. I hope you enjoy my picks. I'll be back blogging soon with some original stuff and some pics of my new "studio".