Friday, December 30, 2011

Another year over....

....A new one almost begun!  And what a year it's been!

Twenty-eleven marked the first full calendar year of this blog (I started it on May 6, 2010).  It was also the year that my favorite online shops began advertising with me:  Citra Solv, Manto Fev, Old Stuff Only, Paper Flea Market, Retro Cafe Art Gallery and Silver Crow Creations (incidentally, don't forget to sign up for the HUGE giveaway, going on now through January 4!).  I am so happy they're all on board!  I want to personally thank these wonderful companies for agreeing to do the giveaways that you've enjoyed all year.  I sure hope they have lots of new fans and customers because of this blog!

And speaking of new fans, I want to thank all of YOU for reading what I have to write.  I thoroughly enjoy writing the blog every day and I hope you like the topics I choose.  I'm so happy to have "met" some of you through Facebook, Twitter and other social media as well - there's something about like-minded souls being able to share their passion for paper.  It's heartening to know that so many of us exist!

I wish you many happy returns to this blog in 2012.  Have a very safe and fun celebration, and I'll see you all next year!

P.S.  Once again I have to thank my friend Robin for this gorgeous New Year's postcard!  I got a whole bunch of them so I think I'll post one every New Year's Eve or thereabouts.  This particular card is almost exactly 100 years old - it was mailed on January 1, 1912.  The back is written in what appears to be Polish, Hungarian or Latvian.  The postage stamp is upside down, which, according to "The Language of Stamps", means, "Write no more."  I would doubt that, though - I'll bet it means "love" or "friendship".   I tried using Google Translate to no avail. :D

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Booze Year's Eve

I'm going to echo a sentiment that I'm sure you've heard a thousand times this week, and one that we hear a thousand times every year at this time:  WHERE did the year go?!  Yet here we are once again, ushering in a new one.  Twenty-twelve sounds so futuristic, doesn't it?

Only two days until New Year's Eve!  Are you the type that whoops it up, or are you in bed by 11?  Or perhaps you did whoop it up back in the day and are now in bed by 11 (that's about where we are).  Do you go out, or stay in?  Are you bar people or do you party at someone's house?

My first husband and I tried the bar scene ONE year.  That's all it took for me to realize that it's "Amateur Night" and far too ridiculous to try again.  The bar where we celebrated was PACKED and even though it was where we normally hung out, none of the regulars were there (they were smart).  Nowadays Brian and I normally go to a late dinner with friends and wind up at one of our homes.  We watch the ball drop on TV and it's pretty low-key.  This year we're going to a house party hosted by our dear friends and it's going to be nice and laid back.

But that's not to say there won't be fun seasonal drinks!  I love this time of year because I LOVE a good Champagne (sorry - "sparkling wine") cocktail.  But think about all of the other wintertime drinks - hot toddys, hot buttered rum, Tom & Jerrys, egg nog.....

I love these handy bar guides, don't you?  They all contain recipes for "party punches" but this one in particular is all about the aforementioned holiday drinks.  There are also recipes for foods made with the alcohol, like White Christmas Fruit Cake (why bother?).  :D

I hope you all have a wonderful, festive, SAFE New Year's Eve.  I'll be back with one more post before the new year but I'll leave you with an ATC I did a while back celebrating my favorite drink:

P.S.  Don't forget to sign up for the HUGE giveaway, going on now through January 4!  Not only could you win a $25 gift certificate but also a monstrous box of ephemera - all courtesy of Yours Truly.  Sign up today!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What's the Story?

As an Ephemeraologist, every once in a while I encounter a piece that I just can't believe exists.  Today, I want to show you just such an item:

Isn't it marvelous?  If you can't read the handwriting it says, "Little Miss Breezy of the Eickhof Flappers".  It came in a box of incredible ephemera that I got about five years ago.  I've already posted about the insanely cool luggage and steamer tags that also came in this lot - there was a huge amount of stuff and the whole box only set me back around $15.  I also got this nearly full note pad from the Hotel Batavia, which I adore.  All of the aforementioned ephemera is dated from the 1920s, and most of it bears the name Charles Eickhof, owner of the Hotel Batavia (and a seemingly wealthy gentleman).

This particular piece, though - WOWIE!!  Wouldn't you LOVE to know the story behind this?  Here's the back of it - an invoice or bill for the Hotel Prenford.  I tried doing a quick search to see if the Eickhof Bros. owned this hotel as well - my search was for naught except this marvelous photo of an old postcard from the hotel and a brief history from a Google Book called "Detroit's Historic Hotels and Restaurants".  The author, Patricia Ibbotson, says that the Hotel Prenford opened around 1925 and "catered to bachelors".  According to one post on the message board where I saw the postcard, the site now houses the Normandie, a "notorious flophouse".

It staggers the mind, doesn't it?  I mean, who IS this "Little Miss Breezy"?  Notice the initials in the lower right - a stylized C.E.  Could it have stood for Charles Eickhof?  Did this young lady catch his eye one evening?  Was this a clandestine affair?  Or was she a dancer in a revue?  Do you think he could've married her, eventually?  Or was this a fling, or maybe nothing at all?  What do you suppose was her real name?  And what were the circumstances surrounding the event that called for a drawing?  Was the young lady around when he drew it, or was she admired from afar?  One could write a novel based on all these questions!

Even though I have no emotional attachment to this drawing I just can't use it.  It's a really nice sketch and it's just too cool to cut up.  I have another piece from the same lot, which I was going to trade as an ATC and then decided to keep for myself:

I hand-colored it, which I sort of regret.  My friend Carolyn assured me that the phrase on the front is indeed as "naughty" as one imagines (I naively thought that people wouldn't think such things in the Twenties!).  Seems to me there was much frivolity and ever so many "misunderstandings" going on in the heady world of hotel living lo these 85 years ago!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What a WASTE!

Well, it's the Tuesday after a Sunday Christmas, and for most folks that means that it's time to head back to work.  It's always nice to have that day after Christmas to unwind, isn't it?  Too bad we don't celebrate Boxing Day, or we could have that every year!

How did you spend yesterday?  Did you use the time to clean up?  Can you believe the amount of waste that comes from our festivities?

No, this is not going to be a preachy post.  I think we all do a double take when we're done opening gifts, at least for a second, and think, "Dang!  If only there were a way we could reuse all of that wrapping paper!"

Last Christmas Eve, I wrote a post about using that wrapping paper to make collages.  I still love rescuing the used paper for this purpose; there is so much great design out there that it's easy to visualize using it for art work.  But this year, I tried something different with the scraps:

I made paper!  I call this piece "Candy Cane" because to of the peppermint bark-y quality about it (it's redder than it looks in the photo).  This paper was made with scraps of wrapping paper and recycled Christmas card envelopes.  

Thank goodness my family knows me well, because they didn't even bat an eye when I took the used wrapping paper home (my mom, sister and I have also been known to carefully remove the particularly beautiful paper from our gifts to each other and save it for later).  :D

I don't know yet what will become of this sheet.  I'm trying to make all different colors so that I have an arsenal when I do torn-paper collages.  But I do feel good knowing that there will be just a little less paper in our recycling bin this year - and I had a BLAST in the process!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Aural Ephemera

Happy Post-Christmas everyone!  For those who celebrated, I hope Santa was good to you and that you got lots of ephemeral goodies in your stockings!

While I was bestowed with an embarrassment of riches (like a panini press from my mom and an awesome art piece from my sister), there is one gift that I received from Brian that fits the ephemera bill - in a different way.

I'm referring to this AMAZING Crosley 5-in-1 audio set.  First, let's talk about the vintage look.  I love it when companies do this!  I mean, this style of radio was long out of fashion by the time I was born, but it hearkens to a time before TV and when vinyl ruled.  And to this end, I have a record player and tape deck again!!

Here's where the aural ephemera comes in.  I probably hadn't heard my 45s in 15 years because it's been that long since I've had access to a record player (you know there's some 12 year-old kid who's asking his parents, "What's a 45?").  I had a boombox but it got trashed during Community Theatre rehearsals and we just never saw the need to replace it (this was right around the time when we were transferring all of our music onto our new iPod, back in 2005).

Friday night, I heard my old music for the first time in ages (yeah, we opened our gifts early).  One could argue that I could have purchased all of this music on iTunes if I really wanted to, and that would be correct.  But much like a reproduction or photocopied label is no comparison to the original, there's just something truer about hearing your music in the medium by which it became popular.  So yes, I suppose I could've downloaded Herb Alpert's hit "Rise"(1979), but to hear it on my own 45 was a blast from the past that I just couldn't recreate with an MP3 file.

The same thing happened to me when I busted out all of my old cassette singles.  Do you remember this format?  It was only around for about 5 years in the late 80s-early 90s.  I worked at Musicland during the school year of '89-'90 and much of my paycheck went to these wastes of money.  These babies were something like 3 bucks apiece!!!  But I loved them and I have a whole file of them.  Because I only really bought them when I worked there, they serve as a diary of sorts of that one year of my life.  And when I put Del Amitri's "Kiss This Thing Goodbye" (1989) in the deck, I was instantly transported back to East Mason Street in Green Bay to our college house where my roommates and I played host to many, many house parties on Friday nights (each of which netted us about $600, because we'd charge 3 bucks at the door).  GOOD TIMES.

Even though you could argue that because music isn't a tangible object it can't really be counted as "ephemera".  But much like the smell of crayons, to me it's one of the most ephemeral parts of our lives.  It has the power, like certain smells, to instantly transport us back in time.  I get just as wistful (probably more so) hearing a song from my past than I do looking at old magazines.  For those of us who enjoy visiting the past on a daily basis, hearing old records and tapes is an integral part of the experience.  I will say that all of my old music sounded terrible (cassette tapes weren't meant to last 100 years), but that just enhanced the memories and served as a reminder that nothing is forever.  And when I get tired of hearing the crappy recordings, the Crosley has a plug for my iPod.  :D

Friday, December 23, 2011

Two Things.....

Oh my - it's December 23!  How did that happen?  :D  This month went by SO fast, as I knew it would.  Time has a tendency to fly when you're having fun and are busy as all get-out!

It's going to be a short post today, because technically I have the "day off" (Brian's home and we're going to do some last-minute stuff), but I did want to quickly wish all of my readers who celebrate, a very Merry Christmas.

Incidentally, isn't this postcard lovely?  I got a bunch of them from my friend Robin (of COURSE).  :D  It's too bad people don't send postcards like they used to!

I also wanted to mention something that happened yesterday that I feel is a MAJOR milestone for the blog - we hit 50 THOUSAND views.  Fifty thousand!  Now, by some blogs' standards this is three days' worth of views.  But considering that last December I had 914 views for the whole month, and now I average that over four days, I'd say that I'm growing.  I'm very excited about this and yeah, I'm kinda proud. I hope that by the end of December, 2012 I have over 100K non-spam views.  :D

And because I'm excited about it, I want to share the excitement with you!  Let's do a giveaway!

Because I think this is major, I want to make the giveaway bigger than normal.  So here's what you'll get:  a HUGE box of ephemera courtesy of Yours Truly AND a $25 gift certificate, furnished by me, to ONE of the following shops:  Citra Solv, Manto Fev, Old Stuff Only, Paper Flea Market, Retro Cafe Art Gallery, or Silver Crow Creations.  Your pick!

Here's what YOU have to do:

1.  In the comments below (or on Facebook or in an e-mail to me via your newsletter, but only ONE of these, please!), tell us what you most look forward to in 2012.  It can be a vacation, a gift, a special day, a milestone - whatever is happening in your life that has you giddy with anticipation!  For example, I have many things this year but I'm very excited that I have a solo show at our library coming up in November.  I'm already working on it and I'm VERY excited about it!  So it can be something like that, or as easy as "I can't wait until the 4th of July!".  :D

2.  I can't emphasize this enough - BE SURE TO INCLUDE YOUR E-MAIL IN THE name(at)domain(dot)com FORMAT!  Do you know how many people weren't included in the last giveaway because they didn't follow this instruction?  If you want to be counted, you gotta do it.  :D

3.  I'm so sorry to have to do this, but for this giveaway I'm afraid I have to limit it to the US and Canada.  Postage is just too expensive overseas.

4.  I'm going to have this giveaway go until January 4 at 5 p.m. CST, which is a week from Wednesday.  I know this is a CRAZY time of year so I'll remind you from time to time before the deadline.

Thank you, thank you, thank YOU for your readership.  The only reason I have 50,000 views is because you took the time to read this blog.  If it weren't for you, I wouldn't be writing this at all.  But I love that I've gotten to "meet" so many of you over this past year or so.  Here's to another year of Ephemeraology!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Something's Fishy.....

The copyright on this label is 1936 - I LOVE that!

Who likes fish and/or seafood?  I do.  In fact, I love it.  This is a complete 180 from my opinion about ten years ago.

If you would've told me back as late as 2001 that I would someday enjoy a nice orange Roughy I would've said you were nuts.  I despised fish and wouldn't go anywhere near it.  Then, at some point (I can't even remember when or where), I tried salmon.  I was immediately hooked, and it turned out to be my fish and seafood gateway drug.  :D

One of my favorite places in Fondy -
Fond du Lac Seafood Co.!  I made the
frame out of old tuna labels.  :D
As a kid, the only experience my sister Jen and I had with fish was the same for most kids - fish sticks.  They were okay, I guess, but certainly not my favorite.  I've mentioned this a lot this week for various reasons, but again - the predominantly Catholic region where I lived played a role here too.  For the uninitiated, Catholics (at least up until the Eighties - they may have gotten more lax on the issue) can't eat meat on Fridays.  So if we took hot lunch at school, we'd always get stuck with tuna casserole (STILL can't eat that) or fish sticks.  I'm going to get colloquial here for a second, but if youse went out on a Friday night in Green Bay of course you had da fish fry.  Cripes, you get a good piece a whitefish er perch er sump-in' - dat's how ya celebrate da weekend.  Oh-a, dat and a coupla brewskis.  Cripes n' so.  

I've spoken of my love of vintage labels before, but I haven't focused solely on the seafood and fish labels that I love so much.  They combine my favorite things:  supermarket brand logos, beautiful lithography, fantastic mid-century (or earlier) design and wild color combinations.  I've said it before and I'll say it again - I'll take a good illustration over a photo any day, especially if it's an illustration of seafood that makes it appear monstrous. The sardines in the uppermost King Solomon label not only look inedible, they look like they're out of "Saw II".  And I LOVE it.

I have a problem, too - I can't stop buying them.  I just purchased more a couple of weeks ago.  I'll bet I have close to fifty.  There's got to be a reason I'm amassing so many, art-wise - I just don't know the reason yet.  But they're so inexpensive, I don't feel guilty. :D

And speaking of art-wise, here are a few collages I've made with them.  Fish are one of my favorite subjects to collage and these labels add so much!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Cokemas!

Just for the sake of this post, I'm going to assume that a majority of you, my dear readers, celebrate Christmas. Although I'm not a religious person, I was raised Presbyterian and I still enjoy all the trappings of this holiday.  I still get embarrassingly choked up at non-secular Christmas hymns.  And I still like Santa (except for the creepy "he sees you when you're sleeping/knows when you're awake" part).

So when I saw this wonderful item offered on Old Stuff Only, I HAD to have it.  At first I thought it was an advent calendar but upon closer inspection I noticed it's made up of gift tags and package toppers.  Clever!  There is also a bit of trivia on the sheet - did you know that the image we have of Santa in the red suit and white beard was fabricated by an artist named Haddon Sundblom?  According to the Coke people, he was created in 1931 (only 80 years ago!) specifically for the Coca-Cola company.  I remember hearing that somewhere before, and it's sort of depressing.  I mean, one of the most beloved icons in Christmas culture was imagined for an ad campaign?  Sigh.  (P.S.  Click on the Wikipedia link, above - "Sunny" used his Santa likeness for more risque images as well!  You old dog, you!)

It seems to me that perhaps Mr. Sundblom had a little help from the old poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" (or as we now call it, "'Twas the Night Before Christmas"), by Clement Moore (or Henry Livingston, Jr., depending on who you ask.  Didn't these people copyright their work back then?).  The poem was written in 1823, a full 108 years before the Coke Santa came into being ("Coke Santa" sounds so very wrong, doesn't it?).

There's a bit of Santa backlash happening from younger generations, who view the whole idea of Santa and his negative reinforcement discipline as not quite right.  I've heard from more than one person that the concept of sitting on an old guy's lap and whispering your innermost desires into his ear is also a wee bit off-putting.  So we shall see how the Coke Santa fares in the decades to come.

Meanwhile, if you favor this image of Santa, enjoy!  Oh, and if you're wondering if this piece of ephemera is going to be cut up, I'm going to say, "not yet".  Although, if I snag one or two more of these babies, then my answer will change to a resounding, "Absolutely!".  :D

Merry Christmas, everyone!  :D

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy Hanukkah!

New pendant!
Thanks to Google Translate, I am able to say this to all of my Jewish friends:  !חנוכה שמח

I've mentioned before that I grew up in a predominantly Catholic region, but I actually have some experience with Hanukkah!  When I was growing up, we lived in an apartment building.  For a time, we had Jewish neighbors .  I remember going down in our basement and seeing, by their storage area, TONS of gifts.  My mom explained to me that they celebrate Hanukkah instead of Christmas and that they have gifts for eight nights.

Um, excuse me?  EIGHT?  To this five year-old Gentile, this was horrifyingly unfair news.  For a while, I wondered how easy it would be to convert.  Just for the gifts.  :D

Until about eight years ago, I didn't have much contact with Jewish folks.  I stayed in Green Bay for college, and to my knowledge there weren't any Jewish people where I worked.  But then I met Brian, who grew up having Jewish friends (in Fond du Lac!  SHOCKING!).  I can now also count them as dear friends, and I feel totally honored that we are invited to all of the big ceremonies like bris bats, weddings, the Seder, Shabbat, etc.  And because of social media like Facebook and Flickr, I'm able to meet people from all over the world, including more Jewish friends.  :D 

 I have a few Hebrew items in my ephemera stash, although not many.  But what I do have, I love!  Take, for example, this date stamp (in the original box!).  If you look closely, the months are in Hebrew!  It's not that old - only from the Nineties - but at least in my neck of the woods, it's unusual (and that is the envelope it arrived in - I love it!).

I also have quite a few pages printed in Hebrew, but I don't know what they say.  I love the look of the language so I use them a lot in my collages - I hope that I'm not being unknowingly blasphemous!

My Grammie went to Israel in 1979 and brought back a lot of wonderful ephemera.  Here are some of the brochures from that trip.  My favorite is the "This Week in Israel - Jerusalem" booklet - and tucked inside was this AWESOME receipt for a site that she must've visited!  I didn't discover this until just now, when I was taking the photo!!  :D

I've made a few collages besides the pendant using Hebrew items - they're fun to do!

So once again, to my Jewish friends - as you kindle the lights of the menorah, may they light your home in peace the whole year through.  Happy Hanukkah!

Monday, December 19, 2011


Dretzka's Department Store - image courtesy
 of Mark 2400on
Have you ever been to a place that simultaneously fills you with sadness and glee?  That happened to me on Saturday.

For the third straight year, we've held our Milwaukee ATC end-of-the-year party at the beautiful Cudahy Family Library (which is, not surprisingly, in Cudahy, Wisconsin).  For those of you who enjoy a variety of pork products, this name may ring a bell - as in, Patrick Cudahy, the purveyors of fine smoked meats, ham and bacon.  Can you imagine having a city named after you?  Maybe someday you'll visit Kolstad, Wisconsin.  :D

The party is always a lovely affair (complete with a DELISH potluck lunch and our regular trade, plus a white elephant swap and time to create), and almost always includes a trip to Dretzka's Department Store, which is about a half-block away.  And here's where the wabi-sabi enters the story.

From the moment you enter via the very heavy wooden door, the overwhelming sense of nostalgia is present.  The smell, the lighting (incandescent vs. fluorescent), the AM radio playing, the new-old stock available on every shelf - it's like time has stood still for the last 45 years.  Judging by the decor, I'd say that's the last time they updated their look, too.

Dretzka's building is impressive!  I don't know if it was specifically built to house the store, but that just may be the case.  It has been in operation continually for the last 110 years and the fourth generation of the Dretzka family operates it still.  I'm so glad it's still there, but it certainly has seen better days.  One can't help but wonder what the store was like in its heyday. You may remember me talking about Dretzka's briefly in this post about vintage bags - well, they still give them out (an unexpected part of the new-old stock!).

Oh, but check out some of the items I purchased there.  I can't say for sure, but I'm going to guess that these items have been in the store since the beginning (i.e., they weren't bought at an estate sale).  I've deduced this by a few clues: the price tags (complete with cents sign!), the smell (the deliciously heady aroma of time) and, well, a thin coating of dust.

Isn't it lovely?  :D

Isn't it funny that we were just talking about hair nets?  Well, I found more - for 59 cents apiece!  Aren't they marvelous?  Again, these HAVE to be new-old stock!  In keeping with the old lady hair connection, I present to you my favorite find of the day - these hair bonnets, which I got for 49 cents each.  SWOON.  I have a personal reason for loving these - my Grammie, who just passed away this past summer, never left home without her "baboushka", as she called it.  In fact, one was in the drawer of her etagere and was about to be thrown away when we were cleaning her room, and I rescued it.  In my mind, this article is so indelibly linked to her that to throw it away would be like throwing away a piece of history.  I keep it with all of the other family artifacts that I inherited and I will pass along the story to future generations.

I also got GREAT inspiration for an art project from these bonnets - I don't want to give too much away, so stay tuned.

For those of you who live in the Milwaukee area (or are up for a road trip) and enjoy visiting antique stores, make sure Dretzka's is on your list.  It's a living museum of mid-20th century dry goods!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Holiday Gifts for the Ephemeraologist

Boy oh boy - we're in the home stretch now!  Here it is, December 16 - only 9 days 'til Christmas and only 4 days until Hanukkah!  Are you done with your shopping yet?

If not, I'm here to help!  Maybe you live with an Ephemeraologist, or you yourself are an Ephemeraologist and would like to send a link of this blog post to that person in your life who claims that you're too hard to shop for.  Either way, I've compiled a list of some fun (NEW) gifts that collectors of paper and vintage-y goodness are sure to appreciate!

First up is this candle by Tokyo Milk.  It's called Paper & Cotton.  Yes, there is a candle with a vaguely reminiscent paper smell (think very sharp and clean).  I actually own this item, thanks to my awesomely generous sister who got it for me for my birthday this year.  Who'da thunk that this would be a scent?  Another great thing about this fragrance is that it's not overly "girly", so if you have any guys who would appreciate a candle for their home, this is a safe bet.  You can find the candle on Tokyo Milk's Web site.

Okay, I have to admit - I own this next item as well!  This AMAZING cheese plate set is a gift I received from one of my dearest friends, Jessie.  I nearly PLOTZED when I opened it yesterday, not only because it's such a wonderful gift but because, well, does this girl know me or WHAT?!?  :D  As most of you dear readers know I am a sucker for a good cheese label (part of my Wisconsin heritage, I suppose) and to have plates with beautiful vintage designs is this Ephemeraologist's dream.  Believe it or not, these plates are as close as your nearest Pier 1 store!

Here's a very unique gift idea for that hard-to-buy-for Ephemeraologist:  make 'em smell like what they love!  These Demeter fragrances crack me up - Paperback, Glue, Dust, Paint - if you buy all four, you'll wind up smelling like one of my collages (book pages + adhesive + vintage ephemera + acrylic = Mel's art!)!  There are actually 224 different scents to choose from, so you can choose anything from Rye Bread to Saddle to Thunderstorm to Apple Blossom.  Check it out - it's a hoot!

Let's say you have a philatelist on your list - well, look no further than postage stamp art and accessories!  These fun gifts are available on our very own postal service's Web site.  Personally, I'm eyeing up that Robert Indiana "Love" watch.  :D  I'm really impressed with the amount and variety of items available for sale.  Plus, if you do purchase one of these fun items, you'll also be helping out our postal service!

Lastly, because it's my own blog, I suppose I would be remiss if I didn't include my own stuff for sale.  I try not to be a big "HEY!  BUY MY STUFF!"-kind of salesperson, which is why I just quietly have my Web site over on the right hand side of the page and don't mention it all that often.  But I do have all kinds of stuff for sale: pendants, clocks, mirrors and framed collages and I'm kinda proud of them (shuffles feet humbly).  So, there's my big plug.  Aw, shucks.  :D

Well, there you have it.  If you need it, I hope this list was helpful!  If you don't need it, then it just goes to show that every gift exists anywhere for the right person - even Ephemeraologists!  Happy Holidays, everyone!  :D

P.S.  One last reminder:  if you haven't done so already, be sure to sign up for the Retro Cafe Art Gallery $25 gift certificate contest - it ends today at noon CST!  Best of luck to all!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Captain Kangaroo

After seeing the title of this post, how many of you are humming the theme song?  :D

Actually, how many of you even remember Captain Kangaroo?  Here's one of those amazing shows where, like Sesame Street, parents and children (and possibly grandparents!) remember the same show.  In doing my research for this post, I discovered it ran for 30 years on CBS.  THIRTY!  Bob Keeshan was only 28 when he  began his run as one of the most beloved children's show characters in the history of television.

As a kid, I was ALL about Sesame Street, but my mom would turn on Captain Kangaroo in the morning for us.  I didn't see it much, because in our TV market it ran when we were already in school (8 a.m.).  Summers and vacations were the only times I remember seeing it and they didn't run it multiple times a day like Sesame Street, which I watched after school.

If you're reading this and you do indeed remember the Captain, which captain do you remember?  For me, it was the guy with the very odd haircut and the red jacket with white piping.  If you're older than I, you may remember the guy who wore a captain's hat and a black jacket (but in those days it was run in black & white, so it all looked black anyway).

There are only a few things that really stick in my head about the show - Mister Moose, Grandfather Clock, Mr. Greenjeans (who always seemed crabby to me), Slim Goodbody, and Bill Cosby and his "Picture Pages". The last two things are what I remember most - especially Slim Goodbody.  Allow me to regale you with a latter-day S.G. story!

When my first husby Dan and I worked in TV, we did commercial production besides our live broadcasts.  Our station must've won a bid to produce a new Slim Goodbody video, because Dan was one of the "lucky" production assistants to work on the recording.  I won't go into specifics but I will say that Sir Goodbody's demeanor was less than pleasant.  Sorry if I burst a childhood bubble!  :D

I hadn't thought of Captain Kangaroo in years, but then I saw these vintage mint-condition flashlight labels at Old Stuff Only and SHAZAM!  I had to have them.  This is the Captain that pre-dates me, which makes them even more fantastic.

I will leave you with this wonderful skit from Saturday Night Live circa 1984, "Jackie Rogers Jr.'s $100,000 Jackpot Wad".  Billy Crystal plays a wonderful Sammy Davis, Jr. and Jim Belushi plays Bob Keeshan (Captain Kangaroo), who loses his temper in a way that the Captain NEVER would've in real life.  Sorry for the horrible quality of the video and the stupid commercial in the middle - it was the only copy I could find.  :D

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Five Years of ATCs!

The first ATC I ever uploaded to Flickr!
Today I celebrate a milestone anniversary, and I didn't even know it until this morning!

As I was trying to find an ATC for another blog post I'm working on for later in the week, I was searching through my Flickr photostream.  I started at the very back and as I was searching, I noticed that I uploaded my very first ATCs on December 13, 2006.  Why, that's today's date!

Holy smokes - has it really been five years?!?  I can't believe it.  Now, you may say to yourself, "That's nice and all, but why is it such a big deal?"  Well, I'll tell you.  :D

Artist Trading Cards are the sole reason I got into creating art in the first place. They were the perfect introduction: they're tiny (I LOVE that), they're democratic, they're a great way to try new techniques and they sure were a  great way to meet like-minded souls.

Also very important:  I started using my ephemera collection in my art!

If you look at my really early ATCs (please be kind; they're not that good!), you'll notice that many of them are made with my old Real Simple magazines and (2006) newspapers.  As you delve further, you'll start to notice that I begin my venture into vintage prescriptions (which KILLED me to cut up, but I got over it).  Soon after that is when I start using labels - first new ones and then the vintage stuff.  It wasn't long before I was head-over-heels in love with the vintage ephemera; that's when my collection exploded.  Now, I'm in the mode of combining the vintage with other interesting items.

As I look back on my ATC journey today, I would be remiss if I didn't include my beloved Milwaukee ATC live trading group in the reminiscence.  This wonderful group first met in August of 2007 - I missed becoming a charter member by one month!  Here we are, 4 1/2 years later and still going strong!  Thanks to the dedication and amazing organizational skills of Carolyn Brady, our "fearless leader", we have NEVER gone a month without a meeting since the beginning.  I am so very proud to be a member of this group and I look forward to every meeting.  This great group is very encouraging and I always come away from the meetings refreshed and inspired.  I have met so many wonderful people in this group and have gotten so many opportunities to teach and showcase my art work from being a part of it.

Because it's an anniversary, we HAVE to celebrate, right?  :D  This morning, I decided to host an ephemera giveaway on my ATCs - Artist Trading Cards Facebook page.  I created this page about three years ago and I'm very proud of the fact that we're up to 1350 fans!  :D  So head on over to the page and, where it's announced, post a comment in the thread and you'll be eligible for the ephemera pack.  Sorry - U.S. and Canada only.

Thank you, ATCs, for changing my life!  :D

Season's Greetings

Oh, I'm BAD.  This is the second year now that I haven't written any Christmas cards.  How about you?  Do you still take the time to send them?

I used to be so good about sending out cards, too - I have a drawer full of half-used boxes to prove it (well, we can't have the same card sent two years in a row, can we?).  I would send out about 20 every year and I actually enjoyed the process.  These days, though, it just seems like December is three days long and before I can catch my breath, it's gone.

Let's not discount social media for my lax attitude!  It used to be that I'd send out cards to friends of mine that I hadn't seen all year.  Now, I can see what they're doing on any given day and there's a false sense of next-door-neighbor closeness that may explain why I don't find it as necessary as in the past.

But there is something so nice about giving and receiving Christmas cards, isn't there?  These days, the photo card seems to be de rigeur.  In fact, we've only gotten two cards so far and both are photo cards!  If you have kids, especially, it's a wonderful gauge of how big they've gotten over the year.  Personally, I'm a big fan of artsy cards (for sending) and humorous cards (for getting).  My friends Pegster and Vickster would always send the best cards.  I still have them.  :D

Check out THESE cards!  I've never seen anything like them.  They're from the Gibson Greetings, which was founded in 1895 but has since become a subsidiary of American Greetings.  These were bestowed to me by my wonderful benefactor, Robin - Robin is the kind of person for whom glorious ephemera seems to follow her wherever she goes, and she is very generous in her dispersal.  I think these cards are proof of that!  I would love to know how much this set cost new - maybe two dollars? That would put it at around $25.00 today.  I'm going to guess that they're from around the early Thirties.  They're SO Art Deco!  So stylish!!  And the packaging is as marvelous as the cards themselves!

Almost exactly three years ago, I made this ATC - the wording is all from an old Christmas card.  I ADORE that font - so beautifully Thirties.  :D  And yes, that is real US currency!  :D

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Very "Retro" Giveaway!

Yes, my dear readers, you heard that right - we're starting out the third week of December with yet ANOTHER giveaway!  :D

This time, it's the lovely Kristin at Retro Cafe Art Gallery who's the generous giver - and up for grabs is a $25 gift certificate!

Kristin's got a ton of new stuff in the shop, just in time for the holidays.  Of course, I'm partial to the vintage stuff she's got for sale - like the vintage prescription pack and the carnival tickets!  I just HAD to pick some up for myself!  But that's not all - Kristin also has collage sheets and the entire line of Coffee Break Design items, which are SOOO cool, and MUCH more!

And with these prices, just imagine what you can buy with $25!  Wouldn't that be a lovely gift - to yourself?  :D

So, to enter, here's what you do:  Leave a comment, either here or on Facebook, telling us your favorite holiday song.  That's it!  It can be a Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year's or Solstice song, or if you're not into the December holidays, your favorite patriotic, love (for Valentine's Day) or Halloween song.  Your choice!

*Here's the fine print:  Only one comment per person, please!  The contest will run through this Friday, December 16, at noon CST.  If you win, and you don't respond to me within 3 days of being notified, then I will draw another name.  Also, PLEASE remember to include your e-mail in the comment, in the name(at)domain(dot)com format - I don't want to search for your info (some of you didn't leave your e-mail and I couldn't find you anywhere!) - if you don't leave your e-mail you won't qualify! 

YAY!!!  Think of your favorite song, and awayyyy we go!  Happy Monday, everyone!  :D

Friday, December 9, 2011

Holiday Baking Time

How many of you can instantly recall a favorite holiday treat?  Did your mom (or dad) or grandma (or grandpa!) make the same thing every year?  Were you part of one of those families that went BONKERS with the baked goods?

In my house, we made spritz cookies.  For the uninitiated, a spritz cookie is made with a press and usually topped with a colored sugar.  We made pink, green and plain-colored varieties.  To this day, whenever I bite into that familiar almond-flavored confection, I'm instantly transported back to 1979.

These days, I'm quite fond of making the Never-Fail Fudge - you know, the kind that uses an obscene amount of butter and Marshmallow Fluff?  It's fool-proof, insanely good and keeps for a long time.  Brian's dad and mom make this unbelievable toffee with a chocolate base.  I look forward to it every year!

Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, there seems to be a rugelach or sugar cookie story from everyone.  And back in the day, a lot of companies wanted you to try new recipes with their products - even Coke (but, surprisingly, not made with Coca-Cola)!

I love the little Coke pamphlet, which was included with cartons of Coke (bottles, of course - this was Christmas, 1964!).  The mid-mod styling, the funny-faced hamburgers and dip - all fantastic.  Why is it that everything looked so garish?  Was it the fantastic chartreuse backgrounds they used?  I'm not complaining, mind you - I adore the effect.  :D

I am also in love with these two Betty Crocker recipe booklets!  They both appear to be from the late-Sixties to very early-Seventies.  I notice that there seemed to be a fondness for the alliterative and the para-rhyme (where the consonants are the same but the vowel is different).  They both also feature the sort of old-timey styling that was so popular back then - they have an almost psychedelic-roaring-Twenties feel to them (the hair parted down the middle, the wing-tip shoes, the exaggerated moustache; think the Pringles guy).  :D  

I am SO going to use these brochures - in fact, as I was just perusing the two Betty Crocker ones, I got a TON of pendant ideas!  Stay tuned.....and happy baking!  :D