Collections: Thoughts and Things Celebrate, Create, Contemplate. Repeat.

Kicking Off the Weekend

Fall weather is boot weather.

And your socks don’t have to match.  Happy weekend :)

Fur Real II


An inherited fur coat.

It was purchased for the bitterly cold Chicago winters.  Probably had a turn in New York and Denver too during the 40’s and 50’s.  Appropriate for the time and place.  (Remember smoking was chic in then too.)

It’s been in storage for a long, long, long time (read: decades).

Should one of us end up at a wintertime function in say sub-zero Minneapolis, could it be worn with a pin that says, ‘This is vintage”?  Possible, but nope.

I tried it on, it was like being hugged by someone you can’t see, bulky and heavy. Admittedly, the coat is also warm and soft. Like a kitten. Because it IS like a kitten. Yikes. And we’re back to not wearing.  We are comfortable in polar fleece. North Face vs. With a Face.

This well-made coat has been waiting for a purpose for a generation. And I have been pushing it farther back in the spare room closet.  So many other things to sort, share, save and discard.  But it was time. As much as I enjoy Macklemore, I did not want to send it to the thrift shop.  How to be a non-fur family respectfully addressing a furry heirloom, and keep it out of any ketchup?

I found a fantastic resource for recycling furs to help animals! Coats for Cubs is a partnership with the Humane Society and Buffalo Exchange vintage clothing stores.

The annual Coats for Cubs fur drive encourages the donation of fur items to aid in the rehabilitation of injured and orphaned animals across the United States. Donated furs are collected and shipped to animal rehabilitation units where they are disassembled and used as bedding to provide a more natural and nurturing environment for injured and orphaned wildlife. Because the furs are disassembled, the condition of the fur contribution is unimportant. However, real furs are preferred by both the rehab facilities and the animals.

Vintage College Application

It’s college application season. A fall which may contain mixtures of preparation, trepidation, inspiration, doubt, creativity, procrastination, and excitement for students & families.

If you thought the process used to be simpler, you’re right. Following are excepts from one students mid-1930’s college application.  A few simple pages, completed by hand, and supporting documentation.


  • Ranked in the bottom third of class. 65th out of 110 students. 85’s in English and History. 50 in Physics.


  • His high school principal stated “He can be viewed upon to do enough to pass.” and  ” . . . his natural gifts of intelligence, likableness, and popularity.”
  • Parental input ” . . . has a brilliant mind, but is careless and lacks application in those in which he is not interested.”


  • Enjoys football and crew. No employment history.
  • One of nine siblings. His mother is a housewife with a high school education. He attended prep school, and is a legacy.

The all important Essay? The application poses just one question, “Why do you wish to come to Harvard?”

  • “I have always wanted to go there, . . .”

Except for the fact that he began as a freshman at a different college, and withdrew for medical reasons.

The 91 word essay conclusion?

  • “To be a “Harvard man” is an enviable distinction, and one I sincerely hope I shall attain.”

Hmmm. I don’t sense quite the same urgency/agony/excitement of trying to express the essence of yourself, (what you have accomplished & what you plan to do) that the 150-650 word essays elicit today.

He was admitted. He built on his strengths.  He achieved some success.

One letter begins “A chap by the name of John Fitzgerald Kennedy . . .” from Radcliffe Heermance at Princeton.

Was it a different time, place and privilege? You bet. The application form asks for name of the principal or headmaster.


Back to current college applications.  I have always appreciated the following advice from an early childhood education teacher.

Please remember, it’s a journey not a race. 

(Made as parents were madly checking what was the appropriate time/age for our child to stand or draw a face) Can you tell which wonderful high school senior walked, talked or was potty trained first? Or last? Didn’t think so.

Breathe Seniors.  (Parents too.) Just like the student above, you or your child may be just beginning to realize your potential. College applications are just part of the journey. Good luck & have fun.

 JFK Pre-enrollment materials, 1935-1936

Here Kitty Kitty (encore)

And I am probably not alone in this experience, so thought I would share.

Nothing like a drive on a delightful day. . . . sunroof open, two happy kids chatting in the car on the way back from an engaging activity and headed for a play-date. Fun!

Unless, while on the curving, tree-lined road, you see something is in the middle of it . . . and your child glimpses it too.

Mommy! Was that a Kitty?! Did you see it? Can we stop and go back?  I think it might need help.

Oh my. Yes I saw it.  Poor thing, an ever-so-freshly flattened opossum.  And yes I am trying to retain my stomach contents after just driving past it, which will not be the case if we return to ‘help’.  It did deserve the dignity of a burial, or a scrape from the road. But weighing the potential trauma of actually seeing the ‘kitty’ for both the kids, and I, stopping was not a prudent option.

No sweetie, that was not a kitty, it was a opossum from the woods.  He must have tried to cross the road earlier. And Honey? Well, um, sorry but it is too late to stop and help.  I am proud of you for wanting too.

Ah, a new memory to be added to patchwork moments of our family

Sorry for any queasiness.

Summer Olympics Stamps

It’s time to celebrate the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio with a portfolio of vintage Olympic stamps.

1960 Rome

San Marino

San Marino

The people from the 5th smallest country in the world are called Sammarinese. 1960 was their first appearance at the Games. Five athletes will represent the 32,000 residents of San Marino in Rio.

1960 Rome Olympics Stamp Italy


Also competing for the first time were athletes from Morocco, Sudan, and Tunisia.  Fifteen swimming events were held.

1968 Mexico City

Perhaps should be called the ‘Fall Olympics’ as the games were held in October.

1968 Mexico City Olympics Stamp Poland 3


1968 Mexico City Olympics Stamp Poland 1


It’s been 48 years since Bob Beamon leapt into history, as did the Black Power hand salute.  Basque Pelota was the demonstration sport.

1972 Munich

1972 Munich Olympics Stamp, Republic of Equitorial Guinea 1

Equatorial Guinea





Not all Olympic memories are golden, Munich is forever overshadowed by eleven Israeli lives lost to terrorism.

Demonstration sports were badminton and the one, and only time, for water skiing, with jump, slalom and figure skiing medals.

1980 Moscow

1980 Moscow Olympic Stamps USA 2


1980 Moscow Olympics USA 1


Moscow had the cutest little mascot, Misha the Bear. The US plus 65 other countries boycotted the 1980 Summer games. First time appearances by Angola, Botswana, Jordan, Laos, Mozambique, and Seychelles.

We’re now at the XXIII Olympiad, 1984 Los Angeles

1984 LA Olympic Stamp USA 2


1984 LA Olympics USA 1


1984 LA Olympics Stamp Czechoslovakia 1


Now it’s the USSR who boycotted, along with 16 other countries, including  Czechoslovakia. But newcomer Equatorial Guinea debuted with five athletes.

Twenty-nine swimming events were held. Demonstration sports were baseball and tennis. And the first of four appearances by Carl Lewis.

1988 Seoul



1988 was the first Olympic appearances by Aruba, American Samoa, Brunei, Cook Islands, Maldives, Vanuatu, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and South Yemen. For a total of 159 countries competing. Badminton, baseball, bowling, judo, tae kwon do, and wheelchair racing were all demonstration sports. The USSR won the overall medal count.

1992 Barcelona





The Iron Curtain had fallen, and twelve of the fifteen former Soviet republics made up the membership of the 1992 Unified Team. The team had 475 members. The San Marino Summer Olympic team had increased to a robust 17 members.

The Olympic symbol of five interlocking rings representing the five continents was designed in 1912.  The six colors used represented the colors of flags of the nations competing at that time.

Seeing the growth and changes from the countries to the events is so fascinating. And what has stayed the same.

The first modern Summer Olympics in 1896 had 43 events.  The 1960 Games had 150 events and 5,338 competitors.  Rio will have 306 events and more than 11,000 athletes.

 Let’s Go USA!



This may be the games for San Marino to win it’s first medal.  Ralph Lauren will be outfitting 552 Team USA Olympians.  The Russian Federation will be a party of 279, with youngest member 16 and the oldest 51. Thirty-four events will be swimming***.

Who doesn’t love the opening ceremonies? A perfect time to make memories with my family. (London still dazzles.) Fourteen hours away as I am about to push ‘post’.

FYI: Rio 2016 resource.

There is a nice little old man who is a vendor at one of my favorite flea markets.  He who gave me my first stamp group of 100 in a little glassine envelope for free, “Oh, you’re a mother, these are so nice for crafts”. Yes, they are, AND these tiny pieces of history are a bit addictive. (Hey, that vendor is truly a vintage dealer.) And so it began, I just love the graphics.

A big THANKS to my family who helped me sort through a few (1,500?) stamps when I got the ‘theme’ bug. Another mini portfolio ready for 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Hope I remember.  . .

***Swimming is a frame of reference for growth. We’ll be keeping an eye on soccer, equestrian, gymnastics and fencing events.

Happy Birthday Your Royal Highness

Happy Birthday Dear Lizzie, Happy 90th Birthday to you!

I’ve enjoyed the photos and historical snippets shared today in honor of The Queen. An incredible life. HRH Elizabeth II is now the longest-reigning British monarch, passing her great-great grandmother more than six months ago.

Quite surprised,  I found I do have a mini-Queen collection.

Souvenir candy tin from her coronation in 1953

1953 Queen Elizabeth Tin

Tin detail

Alas, no candy humbugs remain.

Candies and Humbugs

The 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony in London gave us a peek of the Queen. Regal, reigning, and spunky?  James Bond, corgis, tour via helicopter. Yes, spunky.

Parachuting is nontraditional, but she gets around in other ways too.  She has visited +/- 120 of the worlds countries.Australian Stamp

This trip was yet a different method–via stamp. Australia to Seattle, with a little post-marked shark nibbling near her ear.

Amazingly, her image has been produced on thirty-three different currencies.

Ceylon Rupee from 1952

1952 Rupee

 Australian Five Dollar Note,

Australian Five Dollar bill (2)

PS. The variety of items embedded in each Australian note are impressive.

The recent Annie Leibovitz family photos are warm moments shared.  (Mia & the handbag!)

Some key support systems have been in place for decades. Her dad brought home a Corgi in 1933

and she still has corgis and dorgis todayQueen and her corgis  Getty Images 2013

All of the best to you in your 90th year.

Temporary Vignette (aka the Brussel Sprouts Post)

I’ll admit watching the Instagram Husband made me chuckle, and was a tad inspiring. Rarely taking food pictures, I snapped a quick photo of dinner-in-progress to amaze/entertain family & friends.  (My kids love brussel sprouts. One munchkin even requested them for her birthday dinner. I know, crazy.)

However, the image kept floating across my mind. Odd. Yet I had a twinge that the blog-world just might need a brussel sprouts photo.

Not much really here except a side dish, or is there?

Brussel Sprouts

Hmmm, a vignette in your home displays what you hold dear.  A temporary vignette just might too.

This snapshot is a snapshot of my life.  So, what’s cookin’?

  • Pink Hawaiian sea salt, purchased not for culinary goals but because we have four daughters. It’s pink!
  • A tiny Ball jar, originally a gift of honey from a friend’s apiary.
  • Butter. My husband is Norwegian, for him butter is a food group. The butter tray is not-quite milk glass thrifted Pyrex.
  • The vintage pepper pot is a flea market find. I have knocked it out of the cabinet more than once, demolishing the lid and adding a few chips/patina. (Clouds of pepper, achoo! )

  • The antique cast iron pan belonged to my Grandmother.  The colander was also hers, I remember wearing it on my head playing in her kitchen.  These items have been preparing dinner for at least 80 years.
  • The wooden spoon is a souvenir from Paris. Beautiful and useful. Sigh, I love Paris.   The spoon was purchased at the E. Dehillerin cookware store. This trip was a “carpe diem/can’t believe this airfare/I have a coupon” moment. As a bonus, the spoon gives me less than six degrees of separation from customers Chuck Williams, Julia Child, and Martha Stewart. (#letsgonow)
  • Not everything is roses and moonbeams, I may cook with similar spoons but I do not achieve Julia and Martha results. C’est la vie.
  • And at last, the sprouts. I like to change up the menu when our schedule allows for weekday family meals. Along with introductions to yellow beets, parsnips, jicama and kale, we gave the little cabbages a try.  One sprout per family member at first, then two, then three. And now the ultimate family approval–it’s on the Costco list.  (Will my family eat anything with salt and butter? Nope. Beets and parsnips have not been invited back.)

This temporary vignette was certainly unexpected. One that makes me take a moment of gratitude. And I might appreciate brussel sprouts just a little bit more.

Now, who’s hungry?   :)

I’ve been having a ‘finish what you’re writing’ slump. (253 blog posts published, and 165 drafts.) I’m now pressing publish.  Thanks brussel sprouts.

Happy Hour

Pink elephants have inspired me, time for a Happy Hour collection.

It’s five o’clock somewhere, so let’s begin.

A saved cocktail napkin, best guess it’s from the 1950s. Must have been a special evening to be tucked away in a book. Yet lightly concerning, as it was held, and apparently used. Or maybe just an elephant admirerer.

Pink Elephants Cocktail Napkin 3 of 4

Seeing pink elephants? They’re located in every corner.  Which may have inspired the printer to imbibe, as the two ink colors are more than a bit cattywampus.

Not quite a Mad Men vibe, maybe Ward and June on a night out on Leave it to Beaver or Samantha and Darren from Bewitched.  

Ready to paint the town pink?

Cocktail napkins have many sassy/charming options to add to hostess gifts. Vintage ones are doubly fun. From my current stash, 50¢ was estate sale price, and the original Hallmark price.  Beautiful (-ish) & usefulHallmark Vintage Cocktail Napkins

Or maybe drinks and dancing are more your style,

Drinks & Dancing. Detail from vintage menu.

1950’s Menu Detail.

This menu has options from an olive, pimento and ham sandwich, to a Thanksgiving turkey dinner. All for $2.50 or less. Quite the fine evening if it you had a few bucks and B.Y.O.B.

Swizzle sticks. Fun to say, easy to use.

Vintage Swizzle Sticks

I have downsized sets of stir sticks to more simple/bare-bones proportions. The TWA propeller is one of my faves. (Also, my husbands shot glass collection has been *edited* over time to a fine few–keyword few.  Shhhh)

 Ready for a Mai-Tai or a Screaming Red Zombie? Perfect for using these ginormous parasols!

Ginormous Vintage Party Parasols.

Some party animals prefer to kick back at home.

The Mellow option

And some do not.

If noon is your guideline, (vs. 5 pm), this slightly more intense happy hour item may be right up your alley,

The Viking Option

An evil Czech

A gift (?) from my sweet college daughter.  Always thinking of her mother.  May have had one, or two, opportunities to use this in college. Before heading to the library, of course.  (Unfortunately, my daughters need to know it is not safe to leave ANY drink unattended and open items your own beverages.  Still can be happy, but also prudent.)

I need to add a photo of an Anacin tin and a glass of water. Or perhaps an Alka Seltzer, just in case for the morning.

Until next time. Cheers!

This is potentially the first in a series.  Now that I’m thinking about it, I have a few things squirreled away that fall within the Happy Hour category.  Less sassy/more genteel items, such as my grandparents monogrammed sherry set.  Or not. Meet ya back here later? 

3-D Then & Now

Birthday shopping for something cool for my nieces made me realize I had a collection of things that, at one point in history, were cool too.Though not sure if they were ever birthday presents . . .

Let’s start out over 100 years ago,

Stereoscope White Vermont 3

This is an antique stereoscope made by H. O. White Co., in N. Bennington, Vermont. Stereoscopes use two of the same images at different angles for creating the perception of depth.

Warm wood, etched details, and the handle folds away to make storage easier. It had one photo card when I inherited it, which has been lost in the fray.

The next example of 3-D viewers is this Bakelike View-Master produced between 1946- 1955.

Sawyer's View-Master Viewer Model C 2

Travels and adventures via multi-photo reels

View-Master Reel Mountain Trip 1 View-Master Reel Mountain Trip 2

The reels with this viewer fall into the theme of Western US destinations, Pikes Peak, Knott’s Berry Farm & California Missions.

Also Bakelite, is this View-Master viewer Model E, produced from 1955-1961.

Sawyer's View-Master

View-Master Viewer Reels

Set of Reels from the San Diego Zoo

Ah, pressing the viewer with its distinctive click to change images takes me back. Growing up, I remember using my View-Master to see all types of animals & places around the world.

A peek at the past,

The View Back Then

Using the Model C, Mountain Trip Reel, Glacier Park Montana

And I did find something cool for my nieces.

A peek at the present. Now you can visit places, play games & fly with a new type of viewer.

Google Cardbord kitA cardboard kit can transform your smart phone into a virtual reality viewer. Download an app and see where you’ll go. Google Cardboard in action

Niece during her first virtual reality experience. :)  Both girls have given it a thumbs up.

Collecting new memories, that’s fun. (Maybe even learning?)

Can’t wait to give it a try soon too.



Bank On It

After my last post, I realized a subset exists within my collection of vintage tins. A set of banks.  (Doesn’t chapter one of almost every math book through 12th grade start with sets & subsets?)  Anyhoo, here we go, Coin Bank Tins Detail

This is a trio of coffee tin coin banks. Two with same font, layout and verbiage, “one of A&P’s fine coffees”.

Coin Bank Tins Viking Coffee Detail

Copyright 1935, Chicago

This Jewish National Fund bank is the most recent addition.

And one bank is in current use by my TARDIS fan/munchkin. Not blue, not a police box, but close enough.  (It’s Dr. Why for me, sorry.)

Coin Bank Tins Telly

Churchill’s Telephone Kiosk/Money Box

Made in England, but not quite vintage (yet). This tin originally held toffees (for someone else, not us) and is more than halfway full in its second act as a bank.  Each side of the booth has a different image. A dog that I thought was waiting for the children, I now see is peeing. (!) 

Each tin is colorful, graphic, with a bit of wear. AKA perfect. Nothing that’s “I can’t wait for my Antiques Roadshow tickets” exciting, but a quintet of lovely finds.

It might just be time for a cup of coffee and a penny saved.