Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Oldies But Oldies

Things that do NOT get better with time...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Chalkie Talkie

Chalkware...I love the stuff. But not anything produced after the 60's. No sir, not interested. happen to have moulds from the 60's as one eBayer does! Apparently she scored some old moulds and pours chalkware wall hangings herself. Then she paints them, and she's really talented. These are no garrish paints that have been wiped with a darker color for a finish. No. These appear to be air-brused and are even decked out in metallics, but appropriate metallics that are not tacky and misplaced. Here are some examples of her work:

A relative of mine caught me looking at these bad boys over at my uncle's house after everyone had gorged themselves on roast beef (which we prefer to turkey). Everything is strictly new millennium over at my uncle's and I was starting to feel a little...unsettled. So I snuck off to the time machine that is eBay and sucked myself a lung full of mid-century oxygen in hopes that I could survive the trip home in the new millennium vehicle. The relative commented on the fish and related memories of her childhood home and the Miller Studio family of fish that hung there on the bathroom wall. Her memories only make the 50's more real; I was getting good stuff. Little did I know.

Christmas Eve appeared, and while the season is most decidedly about one gift and one gift only (Jesus, baby), lo and behold, I did receive the dynamite green threesome (complete with the necessary bubbles) pictured above. Such a little thing, and I was nearly in tears (of joy). No one understands the penchant of the Atom Mom, what turns her on and what leaves her flat, so usually I get cash, and that spends on eBay, so that's OK by me. (Yes, I'm horrible.) But this little chalkware grouping, coupled with the days-of-yore sentiment of the giver was just click-O all the way! A special thanks to her! And a new obsession for me:

Friday, January 4, 2008

Merry Poppin's

About a year ago I scored an Atom Pop. One thing you must know about me is that I like my 50's functional. Some people like to dust nicknacks, I like to travel down the time tunnel.

Rule #1 at The Atom Mom:
Looking mid century is for suckers.
BEING mid century is fully worthwhile.

So I was anxious that the Atom Pop would look marvelous but burn all the popcorn. After all, it had no motor. It had no cord. It had no moving parts that constantly stirred the popcorn as it popped. The instructions said I wasn't even supposed to shake it. Just pour in 2T of oil and a half cup of popcorn kernels and place the Atom Pop on a red-hot burner. Yeah right. I thought it would never work. Some people play the slots, I bought the Atom Pop; six of one, half a dozen of the other.

The results were astounding:

I had to stop rolling for a minute to situate Poopsie because I was scared she was going to burn herself on the Atom Pop, so here is part II:

Of course, as everyone knows, the mid century popcorn experience is not complete without a Coke-filled Bascal and the fabulous new old stock item I just scored on eBay:

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

In Recovery

Let's talk about the sofa in the picture of our living room...
This thing is a BEAUTY. I picked it up (from eBay) for about $700. It was a vibrant turquoise, but it was worn and needed recovering. The upholstery business is weird. It's kind of like a mechanic's shop, only a mechanic's shop is probably a little more professional. I have tried several upholsterers, and I've not been really happy with any of them. Well, one of them did great work (on the pink spring rocker) but the unprofessionalism made me not want to do business with them anymore. Egads, before we move on let's just take a moment to talk about...

The Pink Spring Rocker...
First of all, I found this literal orphan on the side of the road at a junk stand. It had been standing there for more than a week beckoning to me with it's big, sad Margaret Keane eyes. It was covered in turquoise vinyl that was ripped and duct taped in places. It sat out in the rain and everything. I started to identify with the chair, and I was just sick of seeing it by the road, so instead of stealing it on one of its many unattended days, I rescued it for $15. I took it right to an upholsterer.

The pink spring rocker was appropriately handled by people who had Jerry Springer family situations that they thoroughly informed their clientèle of. God bless 'em, I worked the chair off when I found out that the owner needed house cleaning. She was aged and needed help, so I didn't mind. Until I got to her place. I didn't know people could live like that. First off she had a bad case of psoriasis, and the whole house was carpeted in little flakes of her eighty-something skin.

Next, she had a dog she wanted me to bathe, and the first time I did, I told her to get him to a vet right away because he was so flea-bitten, I knew he would die of anemia if not from one of his many other ailments. The water turned bright red and filled her concave carport with a massive pool of his rehydrated blood. It didn't help either that his dog dish was full of week-old wet food and water and...maggots. About a week after I finished paying off the chair he died.

It was soooo not worth the chair, but I kept going because I wanted to get every room in her house in excellent, spic-and-span shape. I couldn't stand for anyone to live like that. The last room--and the last straw--was her bedroom. In cleaning off her dresser I found a small vial of strange looking, malformed rocks. I asked her if she wanted to keep them or if it was OK to throw them out. Upon being reunited with the vial she squealed with delight, "My kidney stones! I've been looking for those for years!"

The saddest part is that if I'd been unethical I could have paid the upholstery job down by doing nothing more than sitting in her living room drinking Cokes and conversing with her. The bottom line is that she was old and lonely. So I would have one Coke with her--off the clock--and then apologize telling her, "Well, I'm sorry, but I can't sit anymore. You are doing a good job for me, and I am here to do a good job for you. If I'm not working, I'm taking advantage of you, and I don't want to do that."

When I finally picked up the chair one of her children asked me if I was sure I didn't want to come back to cleaning her house, because "the new girls just sit and drink Cokes with her and never really clean anything--and they charge and arm and a leg for that!" Trust me when I tell you that even though I didn't pay money for that chair, it is the most expensive upholstery job ever commissioned in the history of the world. Now, back to the sectional sofa...

The Turquoise Sectional Sofa...
The sofa was reupholstered, if you can call it that, by people whose price was too good to be true. I hated the fabric, but it was all they had. Back then you'd be hard-pressed to find a decent turquoise. Of course it was all the rage in 2007. I adored the fabric on the spring rocker and tried to get the same slubbed fabric in turquoise, but the company found out I loved it and had it promptly discontinued. (BTW, if you are into retro fabric, sell your first born child and mortgage your house twice and you just might be able to buy a yard of fabulousness here.)

I was told not to go with these upholsterers for reasons that I didn't find valid but did find offensive. I went with them half way out of spite. They did the crummiest job on earth. The absolute crummiest, which ticked me off double because I had gone to bat for them against nasty, bigoted advice. I had to pay the dog-killer's children to come out and do a $50 repair on the sofa the day it came back from the new upholsterer's. It was disgusting. The old upholstery is still on the sofa--they simply covered it up with the new upholstery. The cushions are misshapen, and when I opened them up I found mismatched pieces of foam (not one solid piece) and dirty cotton batting and even some paper towels that someone just shoved in there because it was more convenient to do so than to walk to the trashcan after lunch. Appalling. They also did not put the legs back on properly and they are now askew. This is criminal; the piece was so 100% fabulous prior to their week-long torture session. They also put dust lining on the bottom where there are these unbelievably delightful teak "ribs." They covered them up with what looks like the Nauga's toilet paper.They mutilated my delicious sofa. Never never never pay up front, and always make sure the business is reputable. If I had it to do again, I would call my local Norwalk furniture store and ask them who does their reupholstering locally.

My husband HATES the sofa with a purple passion, but I have thus far successfully resisted his attempts to throw it away. I have spent nearly $2k on it now, and he doesn't want to spend one more red cent. He now has a personal vendetta against the sofa. I see his point, but I also see mine. This is a truly remarkable mid century sofa, and I do not want to fit it for cement shoes just because it has suffered much abuse at the hands of absolute cads. In fact, the abuse simply means that my sofa needs EXTRA TLC. One day I'm going to find someone who cares--truly cares about the history and design of this piece, and I'm going to have them revive it, and it is going to shine once again! Mark my words, if I have to learn upholstery myself, I will, and I will do it RIGHT, because I have the proper perspective and I want to maintain a warm relationship with the piece.

To all upholsterers out there, hear me true: if you have no love for the piece you are working on, if you are just prostituting yourself in any mid-century endeavor, for the sake of all that is good and pure in the world, REFUSE to accept the piece!!! If it's anything post-60's, by all means, have at it. But don't butcher the finest of furniture to pay for your microwave dinners, I implore you! If you do not love a piece it shows. Oh, how it shows!

Now we are stuck with this bruised and beaten marvel until the children are old enough to respect it, because there is no way I'm going to pay another upholstering fee only to have dirty little feets scuffing and staining it up. And the Atomic Mom is NOT going to spend their brief childhoods screaming at them daily to keep off the furniture. So, much like my dear sister, the Wicked Witch of the West, for now I bide my time...


I got this for Christmas when I burned out the old 90's eyesore making divinity. If you had asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I would NOT have said a mixer, because I got one for my birthday, and the cost of that one equaled approximately half of what my house is worth. However good the Bosch may be for making 4 loaves of bread at one time, it is not good for daily duty. In fact, it's a pain in the rear, and it's UGLY. It looks modern, but 80's modern, and I'm into neither of those things. The Bosch was bought in tandem with a grain mill that also looks modern. Both of these sat out on the counter in the 50's kitchen and stuck out like a sore, gangrenous thumb. While you CANNOT do without the Bosch for mixing bread dough, it can't make candy at all unless you buy the stainless steel bowl (which costs more than the Sunbeam Heritage mixer) and cookie/candy paddles (which add even more of a financial burden to the mix). Furthermore, the big pylon sticking up in the middle of the Bosch bowl can be bothersome. Stuff like muffin batter sticks to that, the sides of the bowl, and it's just a pain in general. The wire whisks are too fragile for certain recipes (like thick candy or semi-thick quick bread batter), and the dough hook doesn't mix anything very well except bread dough. The cleanup is atrocious. It's very inconvenient for daily mixing. So thank God my old Sunbeam MixMaster caught on fire in the middle of a bad batch of divinity, pompously attempted during a rainy evening. It was way too ugly to keep out and took up precious cabinet space anyway.

I purchased the Sunbeam Heritage throwback with the generous gift from my in-laws this Christmas. (It's only fitting as the batch of divinity that murdered my former Sunbeam was on their behalf. LOL!) Appropriately, this mixer has mixed reviews, but so far so good from my end. My maiden batch of tortilla dough turned out superbly. I don't care about the noise, and you would have to be something of a fool to expect to make a real hardy yeast bread in this gadget. IMHO, the die-cast housing is purely for looks and nostalgia, though the weight of it did keep the mixer from "walking" during the moist, relatively soft tortilla dough knead. By far, for my needs, the most important aspect is the cleanup. And it doesn't hurt that it's retro and fits in with the decor.

The Sunbeam Heritage stand mixer rates 4 starbursts (because remakes can't get 5 here at The Atom Mom) mostly for the convenience factor and partly for the guts to produce a retro product. (I always appreciate a hat tip to midcentury madams like myself!)