Browsing Category

Vintage Collecting

Vintage Collecting

Let’s Do Tea.

I am a tea lover. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I am a tea totaler, because I love booze like Brick Tamland* loves lamp. But I do prefer tea over coffee, and I do drink it every morning like a ritual. And I do love to find an occasion to have tea in the afternoon.

I’m not talking about iced tea here. I am talking about a good, hot cup of English tea, complete with sugar and milk. To me, that’s REAL tea.

We have been cleaning out the basement at our house and finally unpacked a few boxes of items donated by Mark’s grandparents. One of the boxes that we unpacked contained some treasures that Maddy and I had fallen in love with and packed away for ourselves. One of these treasures is a floral tea pot, circa the late 1950’s. It inspired me to rebuild my collection of vintage tea cups that I lost in a house fire many years ago.


Then it occurred to me: I have never hosted an afternoon tea party! That will be coming up next.

The actual taking of tea in the afternoon developed into a social event sometime in the late 1830’s and early 1840’s. It was Anne, Duchess of Bedford, one of Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting, who is credited for first “inventing” Afternoon Tea, but actually it had been a gradual evolution. The gap between lunch and supper was widening, so Anne started asking for tea and small cakes to be brought to her private quarters. I am sure she quickly realized that a lot of gossip could be shared if she invited other ladies to her quarters to share her cakes.

Queen Victoria herself was encouraged to start hosting her own parties as a way of re-entering society after the passing of her beloved husband, Albert. Legend has it that this was when a cake was named Victoria Sponge and served at her tea parties, which became large affairs. Other women picked up on the idea and it spread like wildfire. Thus, the ritual of afternoon tea began. Women do know how to get things done.


When I moved to London, aside from loving pints and crisps** every day, I was having an amazing cup of tea pretty much anywhere I went. Not only that, but I was offered tea everywhere, all the time, all over the place. It was awesome! I celebrated the British loo*** heavily while peeing my brains out constantly.

Finally, after being there for several weeks, I decided I was going to do Afternoon Tea. And I mean do it right. And I did, a lot! The plan was to drink an entire pot of tea and eat every weird little sandwich and sweet treat offered.

I heard that the Ritz did Afternoon Tea really well and very traditionally. They host tea in the Palm Court, which is just stunning. And, they still have a dress code! Yesssss! My dream had come true! (Think Downton Abbey)


Since I didn’t really know anyone in London yet, I went by myself, which was fine, since I wouldn’t have to share any of my treats with anyone. I decided to go with the Traditional Afternoon Tea. And let me tell you, it’s not cheap. So, this was a rare treat; but it was so worth it!

Traditionally, women wore opera length gloves, long gowns, and hats. Afternoon Tea is a snazzy affair. I skipped the gloves, chose a nice, fancy summer dress and an appropriate hat. This was one occasion where I was not overdressed; perhaps I was even slightly underdressed, which almost never happens to me.
Before my time in England, I had done Afternoon Tea in the States with my grandmother. We would go to the Russian Tea Room in NYC yearly, as a treat. And while I was living in San Francisco, I had Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont. Both were lovely, but none could stand up to my experience in London. It’s possible that just being in London made the difference.


Some say that London’s delicious, vintage water makes British Tea very British, sort of like the lovely scent of the Thames wafting through the air like a soft summer breeze. Whatever it was, (not the Thames) the experience was amazing.

In the end, I didn’t eat all of my treats; it was impossible. But I did take a bite out of everything, save the coronation chicken, which I couldn’t eat, because I am a vegetarian and it would have been very improper to barf all over the lovely Palm Court. Go America!

I felt that the traditional tea menu was brilliant, designed to hold you over in between lunch at noon and dinner at eight. The light, tiny sandwiches and sugary treats, along with the caffeine in the tea, definitely perk you up and prepare you for being fabulous for the rest of the day.

So, now to prepare my own Afternoon Tea Party, dreams of clotted cream are dancing in my head. Expect your invitation soon!

xoxo- Sailor

*Brick Tamland is a very intelligent and important Weatherman in San Diego. He is so impressive that he was invited to be part of the cast of the movie Anchorman.
**In England, crisps are potato chips, and chips are french fries; who are you people? Don’t you watch any British TV?
***The loo is the bathroom, silly.

Vintage Collecting

Bye Bye TV Life

Almost two years ago we decided to dump cable in our house. I felt that we were watching too much TV and frankly I was sick of paying for shows that I didn’t watch.

We decided we could certainly live with Netflix and our Roku.
A few months later I talked myself into getting an Amazon Prime account, with it came the Amazon Instant Channel.
And there we were, watching the same amount of TV as we had with Cable. What the hell?!

No more excuses, I was done with it and sick of seeing that damn couch every time I walked in the door, the cozy, comfy jerk that called out every time you walked by it; “I’m so squishy and cozy and soft, don’t you want to lay down with me with a blanket and watch a movie?” I was strong enough to resist fifty percent of the time.

Of course my recent surgeries were a terrible excuse as well.
It wasn’t the couches’ fault so much as it was the TV’s. Or maybe they are equally to blame.

So that was it, I stood in the middle of the living room and redesigned it in my mind, without a couch and without a TV.
After sometime searching for the perfect Vintage sitting chairs, Queen Ann style preferably, I stumbled upon two gorgeous green retro inspired chairs from the local giant box furniture store.
They would have to do, easier on my wallet and I was tired of waiting.
So the high back chairs replaced the couch and the mid century modern Hi Fi system replaced the TV.

Retro Inspired Chairs

Now if we want to watch a show or a movie, if we want to lay on the squishy comfy couch, we have to go down to the basement. And that’s where it will stay.

My living room is for conversation, reading, writing and board games.

And bonus, even the dogs agree.

Bye bye couch potato!


Vintage Collecting

For The Love of Corningware

Recently I was browsing through my favorite antique hot spot, and as I scanned the aisles looking for a few specific pieces, my eyes stopped on a Corningware dish that had the exact same pattern as one my mother had when I was a child.

Now I have no interest in 1970’s or 80’s nostalgia. Perhaps that will change when I am in my 60’s or 70’s and the timespan between now and then somehow makes those decades more appealing to me. However, I doubt it. I’ve never really been attracted to the aesthetics from back then.

And yet, I grabbed that Corningware dish with “Garden Harvest” print and it now lives in my kitchen cabinet amongst the much earlier 1950’s and 60’s dishes. I guess he is the newbie of the bunch. I imagined the other dishes saying “What are YOU doing here?” and “Tsk. You and your earth tones and veggie print.”

He definitely stands out; that’s for sure. But for some reason I have decided that I like him. I think that’s the first time I have picked up a piece of something from the 1970’s as a collector. I will admit, though, as much as I love him, that he is not my favorite Corningware child.


I have a weakness for Corningware, as well as Pyrex and Correlle, which fall into the Corningware house. I have a mix of all three. Those of us who are collectors (the nice term for Corning-obsessed people) know which patterns are the most coveted and usually have our favorite color palate, typically associated with what era we prefer. You see, there are entire websites about Pyrex, Corelle, and Corningware, some with heated debates on message boards about the rarest and most worthy.
Obviously, I lean to the 1950’s and early 60’s in the patterns I adore.


Pyroceram, a white glass-ceramic material that makes up these beauties, was discovered by accident, which just makes them all the more endearing. You almost want to take them, hold them in your arms, and say: “You were a happy accident and we love you.”

My favorite dish patterns are without a doubt the following: Blue & Gold Starburst (still looking), Blue Balloons (saving up for), and pretty much any pink pattern or color. I have collected several pink and am still looking to beef up my collection. As a matter of fact, any of these dishes can be found in the Retrocentric kitchen! So look closely at kitchen images on the website and see if you can pick out any of these dishes. I have included, two, can you spot the Corningware? (Click the photos to enlarge)

Retrocentric Kitchen

Now, it’s not a matter of finding these; it’s a matter of affording them. One cooking dish could go for $80-$100 dollars! If you are lucky, you can find them for around $30. And sometimes you are just lucky and find them in yard sales or thrift stores for a few dollars. One of my friends recently came upon such a discovery.

What exactly fuels the obsession with these creatures? Well, for me I think it’s a combination of them being almost indestructible and flawlessly pretty at the same time. And what could be better to house your delicious casserole dish right from range to table?


I mean, sure, once you have filled your pretty dish with the 4,500 ingredients it takes to make your casserole, and along with the dish itself, it feels like you are carrying a small elephant. And yes, it’s not as snappy handy-dandy as Tupperware when saving your leftovers, but hey, tinfoil is still a marvel!

There is something about the milky white 500 pound dish with its impressive, dainty designs that just makes your food taste better. So, next time you happen to spot one of these dishes at an affordable price, grab it! Cook in it once and I promise you will adore it; and if you don’t, well, I will gladly take it off your hands.


Vintage Collecting

My Vintage Wedding

Here are some of my favorite accessories and elements from my vintage inspired beach wedding.
It was so much fun collecting all of these pieces, in the end it was tough to narrow down which items would go with us for this small simple occasion.

We went for a rustic, easy vintage vibe, with small elements of the beach and our combined passions, old cameras and classic books. After much searching, I decided to craft my own bouquet from silk flowers, a collection of antique buttons, broaches and pearls.

Due to recent surgeries I was unable to wear the original wedding dress that I chose. I needed something light, flowing and comfortable as a substitution. A quick search on revealed the perfect dress, all it needed was my addition of a wide silk ribbon and antique pearl broach for a belt. What a happy find!

Making much of the decor elements provided not only amazing cost saving, but also fantastic memories of the great teamwork between my sweetheart and myself.

(Big Thank You to Noah & Christine of Wavelight Photography for the lovely photos and the great friendship!)













xox Sailor

Vintage Collecting

My Vintage Radios

I have fond memories of sitting on the shag carpet next to my grandmother’s Hi Fi stereo cabinet in upstate NY, listening to the Bee Gees’ “How Deep Is Your Love” with the wonderful crackles and hisses of the vinyl spinning ’round and ’round.

There was a painting of an autumn tree-lined road above the Hi Fi that I just thought was a masterpiece, one of the most beautiful scenes ever painted. I was 5, after all.

This scene repeated itself every time I went up there for a visit. The records may have changed through the years, but the stereo was a beacon of excitement among the sea of shag and sometimes childhood boredom on rainy days.

It wasn’t just the music; it was the stereo itself. I just thought it was so amazingly clever that this piece of furniture held the stereo and records; and to close it, you just had to slide the handy dandy cabinet door. Amazing! What a feat!

This fascination with radios and stereos would continue throughout my life. As a matter of fact, I now own a very similar Hi Fi stereo cabinet, thanks to Mark’s grandparents.

In the 80’s, my obsession turned into taking radios apart and putting them back together. My mother had given me an old stereo at some point she thought one of the speakers may had been broken and probably didn’t work anymore. Well, I was so desperate to have more than just my little tape player for my own source of music that I was going to figure out how to fix it, and by golly, I did! I have no idea how, so don’t ask or assume I am some technical wizard.

So, when I was all grown up, perusing through antique shops or garage sales, my eye was always drawn to old radios, especially ones from the 20’s and 30’s. No, wait, especially radios from the 40’s and 50’s. Okay, well, all of them.

I think I am drawn to these old radios because there was so much thought put into the design. They weren’t just additions to other entertainment in the home or portable pieces of equipment that could be easily replaced in a few years. They were the centerpieces of family entertainment until televisions were prevalent in every household, which really wasn’t until the late 50’s/early 60’s. These marvels had to look beautiful, like something that you wanted to be the centerpiece of or at least a stylish addition to the living room.

So, I give you my vintage radios, each one a different and unique personality with a unique back story (that I made up in my head)…

Esther – Circa 1930’s Philco Radio with bakelite knobs


She is from Chicago. She belonged to a very wealthy and fancy family. She sat in the corner of the room with a beautiful Tiffany lamp on top, next to the fireplace. She often played the big hits of the 1930’s during the family’s very fancy cocktail parties. Sadly, the patriarch of the family was arrested for tax evasion and a possible connection to the mob. She ran like hell (Esther has also now survived a fire at my Pinup Studio; we are so glad she is safe)!

Chet – Circa 1958 Orthophonic Hi Fi RCA Victor


He is from Manhattan. He lived in a swanky, cool pad on the Upper West Side. He belonged to a couple of newlyweds, the husband a writer and the wife an artist. They had many swanky, hip parties in their very Mid Century Modern apartment. Chet’s legs can be removed to be a tabletop stereo for those warmer months when the party can move outdoors onto the balcony. Chet’s owners got divorced in the early 70’s over an argument about the new kitchen color scheme: avocado green or mustard yellow. The ex-wife got Chet in the divorce, and just for spite, she sold him at a garage sale when she got remarried to Bob.

Betty – Circa 1965 Motorola FM Tube Radio


She is from Indiana. She sat on the dresser of a suburban housewife’s bedroom just outside of Indianapolis. She would play tunes such as “Downtown” by Petula Clark and “Help Me, Rhonda” by The Beach Boys while styling her hair and applying her makeup at her nearby vanity table. Betty’s owner stayed loyal to her until the early 1980’s when her daughter forced her to move into a condo in a senior community and modernize her decor. Betty was then donated to a church sale.

Peggy – Circa 1957 Princess Pink Airline Clock Radio


She is from Georgia. She lived in the kitchen of a family of four who loved the beach and boating. Peggy wished she could join the family on their regular water skiing outings in their 1955 Chris Craft. Peggy would play upbeat happy tunes for the family during breakfast, soap operas for the lady of the house while cleaning, and songs like “The Twist” by Chubby Checker when the parents were away and the teens were hosting after-school get- togethers. Peggy was replaced by a portable radio and tape player when the parents retired and purchased a houseboat to live on. Peggy hitchhiked north to find new digs.

These are just a few of my precious radios. More can been seen in Retrocentric photos in the vintage kitchen and retro living room!



Vintage Collecting

My Little Brownie

I have an obsession with vintage Brownie cameras. It started when I was a little girl and found one in my great grandmother’s basement. I asked what the little box was and when I found out it was a camera, I swooned with excitement.

The camera no longer worked and I was ushered out of the basement to watch cartoons or something, but I never forgot about that little Brownie.

Years later as I was strolling through a thrift store looking for pieces to a Halloween costume, what should I spy on a shelf next to some mustard colored 1970’s crockery? Yup, a Brownie! Eek!

Now I have my own collection.  Last count I think had about 10, along with some other various types of vintage cameras, but the Brownie still has a most special place in my heart. Particularly the Hawkeye Brownie which is featured here.


This beauty was designed by a brilliant man named Arthur H. Crapsey. I guess you would have to be brilliant if you had a name like Crapsey. Aurther H. designed many of the popular Kodak cameras in the 1940’s, 50’s, and 60’s.

The Hawkeye was introduced in May of 1949 and discontinued in July of 1961. Its body is moulded bakelite. I fall in love with just about anything made of bakelite!

I have this dream that one day I will be sitting in a Country Time Lemonade commercial, you know the one, with the tire swing next to the pond and the golden sun shining above. I’ll be sitting on a picnic blanket and pull my little Hawkeye Brownie out of my picnic basket, and take the most beautiful photos of birds flying and the sun shining through the trees.

Then later I will realize that I can’t find a place locally that still develops film and oops, I forgot to use film in the first place, and I can’t remember which site on the internet has the right 120 film that I need. And well, there goes my perfect little Country Time dream.

So my cameras sit on the shelves collecting dust. But that’s okay, they bring me a little peace of bakelite joy every time I walk by them!

Note to self: Find 120 film, take some actual photos with one of the damned Brownies, get them developed, scan them, put them online and impress the bobby socks off of everyone.