Patience is a virtue…but revenge is sweet

Patience is a virtue…that which I do not possess.  I am convinced that right about the time this goal is achieved, I won’t be far from the grave. Ask anyone of my loving family members and they’ll tell you when I decide I want something, I will pretty much stop at nothing to get it. That can be a very positive trait or a negative one, depending on which way you look at it.  Wanna know why my preschooler can’t wipe his own bottom?! EASY! It’s SOOOOO much faster when I do it! Lines? I don’t do lines. I’ll go shopping at the crack of dawn to avoid them.  I have given up Starbucks completely. There are a couple reasons for that, but one of the main reasons is that I abhor the lines in the morning. You expect me to wait 10 minutes for coffee? For REALS, yo? Do you have any idea how much crap I can get done in 10 minutes? It’s just coffee…and I will brew it at home thank you very much.

That being said, I’ve written before about how important it is to be patient when looking for something you really want.( https://midcenturyobsession.com/2012/08/21/how-much-did-you-say-you-want-for-those-glass-grapes/ )

In light of my ongoing struggle to practice what I preach, I have a great story to share with my readers about how patience is rewarded….and revenge is sooooo sweet.  I made mention in one of my September blogs about a particular shop owner Henry of Vintage Treasures Antiques in Hemet who was friendly and passionate about his furniture. I must have caught him on a bad day at my last visit, because he wasn’t the same gentleman I’d met before.

I’d been looking for a mid-century men’s valet rack like the one pictured below found on Ebay. It would be a great addition to our guest room-but I didn’t want to pay Ebay prices.  I was delighted when I spotted one in Henry’s shop. However, I knew he was a bit steep on his furniture, so naturally I was reluctant to hear the answer when I asked how much the unmarked wooden valet was.

The mission: Find a coat rack like this one for below the going rate.

My butt has great instincts, because it was puckered in waiting for the bottom line. Henry began by explaining how “this piece” was in his private collection and he’d brought it from home to put in his shop. I was a bit confused, because I’m not sure how that adds value….but I’m certain that was the point of the explanation: to idolize it’s worth. He paused to think for a second, and said, “I will sell this to you for $79.00.” I politely smiled and said, “Well, thank you but that’s a bit out of my price range.” I started to move away from the pricey valet, and he added, “or you could make me an offer.” I said, “No thank you. I really had no idea of its value and I was only curious how much it would cost.” He again prompted me to make him an offer which I made a point not to do for fear of insulting him with my comparatively meager budget.

As I perused the shop, I recalled that on my last stopover when I inquired about an unmarked table, he had given me the same story about how it was a piece that he’d used in his home. I looked around and noted that I was the only customer in his shop as was the case last time I visited. I quickly took inventory and was struck by the fact that the same merchandise that was in the shop three months before, sat there still. Perhaps I’m not the only one that thinks he’s a bit steep. But wait! Just as these things were running through my mind, in walked a customer and he and Henry engaged in lively conversation about old German record players. A few minutes later, I decided to make my way to the exit, and Henry interrupted the discussion to turn to me, “So why don’t you make me an offer on the valet? Do you want it? Make me an offer.” Reluctantly, I made him the offer he’d been pestering me for…damn the fact that he may be insulted because by this point I remembered that we were in Hemet, not Hollywood. “Okay. $25?” It was more of an apology than an offer. He snickered, and nodded to his gentleman shopper while replying to me disgusted, “$25 dollars? Those are Wal-Mart prices.” As I pushed through the doors to leave, all I could think to say was “Sorry….Thanks anyway.” I was furious after I left and went back over our exchange in my mind. What a jerk! Wal-Mart prices?! First of all, there’s NOTHING wrong with Wal-Mart, and second of all, your shop is in Hemet, a**hole! It’s not exactly crawling with rich people in the market for overpriced mid-century valets! I tend to think there are more of the populace concerned with making the mortgage or feeding their kids. Also: those who have been dealt a better hand? Not coming to Hemet for a visit. Did I say any of this to our Henry? Of course not. I shooed the angry thoughts from my mind and decided to let it go and just wait. This would be an exercise in patience, and I would find a stupid wooden valet some day.

This week on a family adventure day in Idyllwild, California, I did just that. Again, I found myself looking through an antique store mostly disappointed by the frilly crap I was seeing. Then I spotted it. A wooden valet almost exactly like the one I’d seen in Hemet. Only this one was sturdier. Not quite as delicate…certainly this ones cost would be about the same, or possibly more because of the wood? There was no way of knowing because it was unmarked as well. So I half-heartedly asked the gal behind the counter how much she’d want for the wooden valet in the back. She walked back with me to inspect it and said “$15 dollars?” I pretended to think about it for a nano-second and replied, “Sure. I can do that.”

Victory Valet

Friends and fellow hunters…I happily pass on this nugget of knowledge once again: patience and persistence pay off eventually. Revenge via redemption? It tastes of sweet, sweet honey. A revision to my September post is yet another gem for you: Should you be passing through Hemet; skip Vintage Treasures Antiques. Walk directly across the street to Finders Keepers on Florida Ave. I walked in after my little visit with Henry and found a gorgeous mid-century modern amber vase and the gal behind the counter actually offered me two dollars-off the already reasonable asking price. When I shared with her that I was looking for mid-century modern wares she candidly offered that Finders Keepers had a shop in Beaumont that I should visit, being that most of their MCM stuff is sent up there because of the market. Finders keepers indeed.

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Change of Plans

I wrote recently about my plans to create a mid-century modernesque landscape in my own backyard. I cited my lack of interest in flowers and favor for organization even in nature as a reason to do so. However, I’m rethinking that logic. I’ve been reading the book, “Eames, by Gloria Koenig” in what little spare time I have, and I was taken by the section on the Case Study houses; specifically the ones done for architects and MCM legends Charles and Ray Eames and John Entenza in the Pacific Palisades. The Case Study houses #8 and #9 were “to share a rolling grassy meadow dotted with eucalyptus trees and rich in wildlife that overlooked the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean.” Sounds lovely, right? Well, in the process of building, the Eameses and John Entenza fell in love with that meadow, and subsequently moved the location of the Case Study houses to the hillside in order to “keep the structures more integrated with the landscape.” Ray Eames was quoted saying, “We’d got to love the meadow and the idea of putting a house in the middle of it seemed terrible at the moment. So that’s how it happened.” I admire how important nature was to them, and that the more time they spent observing it, the more essential it became for them to preserve it. Ironically, I’ve experienced the same pull from nature that I’ve been reading about. My preschool-aged son and I spend a lot of time in the backyard together and we have begun to love seeing lizards, red-tailed hawks, hummingbirds, butterflies and even bees. We have a family of owls nesting in our neighbors untrimmed palm tree,  and as a result, we got to pick bones out of an owl pellet found in a plant bed. I remember doing that in science class as a kid and thinking how cool it was. I now find myself making excuses to hit Home Depot, and gravitating towards butterfly and hummingbird-attracting plants when I really went in for lightbulbs. Lantana, Cleveland Sage and California Fuchsia are butterfly and hummingbird-happy plants, drought tolerant, and native to California. With qualities like that, they’re quickly climbing to the top of my planting list. I scarcely think that if I uprooted everything I had in favor of being orderly, that I would get the enjoyment out of the outdoors that I do now. Why not just add native flowers to further enhance the scenery? So if you’re busy planting this October like I am, here are a few ideas should you be in the market for drought tolerant, nature-attracting plants.

California Fuchsia
Cleveland Sage
Lantana
Silver Bush Lupine
Shrimp Plant – Did you know hummingbirds are attracted to the color red? I had no idea. I just thought hummingbird feeders were all obnoxiously colored that way. Seriously. Shows how much I know. I also had a skateboard as a kid that had the word “awesome” on it. I pronounced it, Ahh-wee-sum for years before being corrected. There you have it.

All of the flowers/plants pictured above are drought tolerant, full sun plants as an fyi. The only exception is the shrimp plant, which needs a bit more moisture – and could be placed in a planter, or in a flower bed that is part sun/part shade.

Happy Planting!

Retro Re-Deco Update

I’ve been so consumed by my thrifty California adventures and new discoveries, that I’ve completely lost sight of the original purpose of this blog! Blame it on ADHD…whatevs…but I’ve circled back. So here’s an update on our home before & after.

The entryway and staircase had ugly matching glass chandeliers. Out with the old, in with the uh…older.

Entry & Stairs Lighting Before. Not sure what you call this style. 90’s Fugly?
Danish modern replacement chandelier. This will make more sense once I get my frame wall going.
The Danish chandelier’s identical twin. This pair were found on Ebay. Made circa 1950’s. It was NOT easy finding affordable twinkie chandies with 12-plus feet of chain. WINNING!
HIIIIIDDDDDEOUSSSSSSS Brass Chandelier that I couldn’t GIVE away. Seriously, this 8-armed bad boy was generously donated after it sat on Craigslist unloved and unwanted for 3 weeks.
Dining Room After: Cloud-like, curvy, creamy and dreamy, this lighting fixture looks almost edible.
I love you, cream puff. I don’t mind at all that you’re starting to show up in yogurt joints. I found you first, mi amor.
I wanted to strike a balance between old and new without too much of a disconnect. I like to think I achieved that with this room.

Outdoors, our yard is getting a makeover too. The landscaping is an ongoing process. Determined to tackle this alone, I’m getting serious guns from shoveling into our granite slopes.  The neighbors probably think I’m bat-crap crazy. “Check this out, Bob! She’s digging to China and cursing at the shrubs again!”

It’s so much easier to hit an estate sale than spend a day performing manual labor. More to that point, our patio recently got some jewelry courtesy of a dirt-cheap find.

Backyard bling. I fully intended on re-covering the seats in teal or turquoise, but that pink is starting to speak to me. “Love me! I’m girly! I match your flowers. POP go my pink seats!”

More before and after’s coming soon!!!!

P.S. In other MCM news, I have opened up shop on Etsy.com. I was so taken by the Etsy community and totally affordable prices that I decided to open a store of my own online. http://www.etsy.com/shop/MidCenturyObsession?ref=search_shop_redirect

Besides, it’s a fun way for me to make a few extra bucks if for nothing else than the thrill of the hunt!

Check it out!

Long Island Medium Need Not Apply

I have to share a couple weird/freaky/twilight zone experiences that have occurred recently where I felt like my grandmother Faye (to whom this blog is dedicated) has sent me a little “hello” from the heavens. This blog is about my fixation with MCM and personal home make-over first and foremost, but if you haven’t noticed, it’s about life too. I don’t profess to know how this is possible, but it’s just bizarre how my grandmother continues to remind me that it’s all about her. When I started this blog, my mother laughingly said to me, “Wherever Nana is, she’s jealous.”

Faye was fabulous in every way. She worked hard, lived hard, partied hard. As a result of that, she was taken from us before her time.  Difficult as she could be, she was still “Nana” and my mother and I miss her so. She would tell you that the good looks in our family came from her. If someone excelled at any one subject, she would spin you a tale about how she practically invented whatever it was. She was a Leo to the extreme. Proud, brave, talented, vivacious….and a man-eater. All that said, she had inner demons that she battled her whole life-but you’d never know it with her beautiful and witty exterior: She was Fabulous Faye. Ask her how she was, and she’d throw her head back like an old film star and say “Just Maaarvy.”

A Young Fab Faye

Two weeks ago, I sat across the kitchen table from my father as a commercial for the psychic series, “The Long Island Medium” played in the background.  I said to him, “Do you think that’s for real?! Wouldn’t it be so cool to know what Nana had to say to us!?”  He shooed the comment away immediately, stating that the bible says not to mess with or “conjure up” spirits. I dropped it because no one can out-quote the bible like Dad. Also, he’s really scary.

Cut to last week when I stopped with my family in Lake Elsinore to check out a couple thrift shops.  While in Elsinore, we broke for some grub and directly after, decided to pop over to just one more shop before heading to San Juan Capistrano for the day. This particular shop was the least of my favorites; a little on the rough side, and I went in expecting to smell more than I found. That seemed to be the case until I got to the housewares section. There, all bundled up was a full set of my grandmother’s exact china, Bamboo Knight by Sango from Japan. My uncle had purchased the china as a gift for her while he was on leave from the USS Midway in Vietnam.  Totally mid-century. Totally gorgeous.  I’ve only ever seen it one other place: my mom’s house. The whole set was for a steal. I thought, how cool is that to find Nana’s china in this little place!?!? Cool coincidence, but no big deal, right?

Bamboo Knight by Sango

Then this week, I decided to become an Etsy shop owner so I can share my finds with the world – at great prices. I haven’t launched yet, but in my research and preparation to do so, I was scouring the internet for comparables of one ugly metal mailbox on a piece of driftwood.  I picked one up at the last estate sale I’d gone to, secretly wondering why people buy this crap.  Alas, I concluded, “what the hell, I’ll give it a whirl. I don’t like it, but someone will!” I now understand it would be of the “Jere Era.” Previous to that discovery, I was laboriously searching Ebay and Etsy…”brass metal mailbox sculpture” “metal mailbox sculpture on driftwood” and for some reason, NOTHING was coming up. Etsy’s search engine was giving me a “no results found” message. Even today, I can do the same thing and find two or three like-items using the same exact terms. However, on this particular day, it was not happening. I just knew I’d seen one before! In my desperation to research fair pricing and get my hideous mailbox posted, I decided to broaden the search by entering a simple “metal mailbox.” In the 100 results I got, everything BUT what I was looking for came up: I panned down the computer screen irritated at this point, seeing mailboxes of all kinds, mailbox numbers, house numbers, pictures of mailboxes…..then BAM, one single tiny golden icon caught my eye like a beacon of brass light. I immediately clicked on it, and it was exactly what I was looking for. It was priced at $12 plus shipping. I was a bit disappointed from a selling standpoint then something else caught my eye: the name “Faye” in the product description. I noticed there were more pictures to view and clicked on the one with the signature “Faye ’76.” My heart dropped as I looked at the signature. It was MY Nana’s signature. MY Faye. I showed my husband who rolled his eyes at me and lovingly said, “there’s no way.” I thought to myself, “He’s right…no way, too unlikely. Why would she sign it? She didn’t make it or anything.”

Said Sad Ugly Mailbox – soon for sale
Baby Brass Beacon
SERIOUSLY!?!?!?

Why was it the only brass mailbox I could find, though? I immediately called my mother who told me that Nana very well could have made it. She hadn’t remembered seeing it, but that Nana considered herself an artisan. Besides all her other positive attributes, she was very artistic. In previous years, at rehab stints she would do art projects and sometimes bring them home. And the year 1976? She would have been in rehab at that time. Still critical of my own foolish hope, I went back and looked up where the Etsy shop owner was located: Monterrey, California. Planted just south of the San Francisco and San Mateo areas where my grandmother lived much of her life. Of course, I immediately bought it. Is there any question that I had to have it? I’m giving it to my mother as a gift. I can attest to the fact that it is an amateur sculpture evidenced by glue spots and imperfections. It’s hers. I just know it is. Mom’s since viewed the signature and can’t swear on it, but she says it’s a definite possibility.  I can’t guarantee it’s hers, but it is. I peed a little when I saw the signature, alright? It’s hers. You know what, though? It doesn’t matter either way. One thing that is absolutely certain, is someone somewhere knows how much she is missed….and we’re being blessed by discovering little pieces of her every now and then – even after she’s left this world.

Etsy.com – Affordable MCM for EVERYONE

In retrospect to my last blog, (Vintique-New Favorite Destination) it wasn’t exactly fair to my readers who are not southern Californians. I’m not patting myself on the back here, but I have readers in Spain, Alaska and Ireland for goodness sake! Certainly people outside of my direct area would love to know where they can get affordable MCM stuff too! I would not like to be known as yet another egocentric American. For my loyal readers near and far, ’tis for you a lucky day indeed. Behold!  There is something called Etsy.com. Anything you can imagine wanting is on Etsy.com.  Generally and comparatively speaking, I find Etsy prices to be lower than that of Ebay’s. Etsy is the new black my MCM friends…so jump on the bandwagon and let’s go for a ride!

Did you say you wanted to refinish some crusty old chairs? Check out AtomicLivinVintage for amazing retro fabrics.
You need legendary Eames chairs in electric blue? Search Eames Chairs or lookup LustFoundVintage. You’re welcome. (These are NOT cheap, but if you’re a collector, I will assume you’ve got more means than I. Good for you.)
What’s that you say? You need to buy your favorite MCM blogger Franciscan Atomic Starburst Cream and Sugar Set for Christmas because you know she’d love them and know they’d match her pretty new plate? $30 dolla will make her holla! Check out TheCottageCheese.
Do you have boobs like Joan from Mad Men and really need a red-hot MCM dress to wrap them like presents for the upcoming holiday season? You’re in luck at VintageBeats. There ain’t no shame in your game….work it, girl. I’m jealous.
Do you have a best friend who knows Disney’s “We are Siamese if you please..” by heart? I know I do! Here’s vintage Siamese wall art for you crazy cat people. See Thrifitti. Like when hear baby cry, there be milk nearby. Enter MIDOBSESS at checkout and get a 10% discount for midcenturyobsession readers! Thanks, Thrifitti!

So do it! You know you want to. Do it. Do it. Do it. Go to Etsy.com and enter mid-century  _ whatever__. I can tell you….it will be there.