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

Happy Birthday Smokey Bear, & A Wish

Smokey Bear’s 70th birthday was August 9th.  Sorry to be a bit tardy,  however I do believe in birthday week.  Let’s celebrate Smokey Bear’s milestone birthday and years of service. (In 1952 a song was written called “Smokey the Bear”, adding “the” helped the rhythm.)

 Smokey handed this out in 1971, teaching boys and girls about forest resources and safety

1971 Guide for Boys and Girls

Smokey Bear Story of Forest 2Smokey Bear Story of Forest 4

Smokey Bear Story of Forest 3

Smokey Bear Pencil

Smokey Bear Pencil

On his birthday, I bet Smokey Bear wished for rain. And for continued strength, safety and support for those battling blazes in the West.

Have to take off my birthday hat now. As lovely as the vintage graphics are, the message remains very real. As of today, 8.13.14, there are 43 wildfires burning.  Over 700,000 acres have burned this summer. Devastating.

Photo: Michael Stanford, July 2014, Washington

from the National Interagency Fire Center

Daily statistics 8/13/14
Number of new large fires 4 States currently reporting large fires:
California (11)
Idaho (5)
Montana (3)
Oregon (10)
Washington (10)
Number of active large fires 39
Acres from active fires 717,660
Fires contained since 8/12/14 4

Washington has finally had some precipitation this week.

Thanks Smokey Bear.

Posted by L. Fitzmaurice, July 2014, Washington

In summers past, I have seen the haze and smoke from forest fires in Washington, Idaho and Montana, and am fortunate to have never experienced an actual blaze.  My wish is the same as Smokey’s.

1944 Debut

Supreme Repurposing Challenge

Nothing like taking a moment or two to peruse magazines or blogs to feel inspired.  Or a unique fresh estate sale find can make you giddy as you imagine purposing it into something useful or amazing, or hopefully both.  And you can, and should.

Add in an episode or two of American Pickers, Design on a Dime or even Project Runway  you began to see that every item can be oozing with potential.

I love reusing things, and I am inspired by artists/DIYers who truly transform antique books and fabric and wood pallets. Though not all at the same time.  Feeling creative?

These tables are new additions to inventory at a store that is one of my favorite quarterly haunts. Which soon may ring even more true.

Old, industrial, metal.  (Three of my favorite things.)

Price: $45.00 each (Not bad at all.)
metal table

Metal Medical Tables.  Gosh, I’ve loved dental cabinets for quite some time. Same cool vibe. A possible kitchen island?  Hmmm. Is there a truck I can borrow?

And then, the rest of the description . . .
Okay, here’s the thing, you may detect little drain holes at the angled ends of these otherwise unassuming metal tables, so before you turn them into steampunk dining tables just know that these were originally autopsy tables, so, yeah. Measures 30” x 7’ x 3’H.
Here is the challenge, could you re-purpose this? Would you?
Definitely get’s the prize for unique.
Me? I’m going to saunter off to put some fabric over an old book instead.   However, I’ll be sure to peek under tablecloths if any of my buddies are sporting a new addition to their dining rooms.


When I Get Around To It

At last I’ve finally gotten around to assembling one of my favorite collections. Things that are round. And for the most part flat.

Was that a sigh? Admittedly, it may sound a bit mundane. But here are some delightfully quirky vintage items, plus kind of educational.

The Pike Recreation Cocktail Menu

The Pike Recreation Cocktail Menu

Detail of recipe for a Pink Lady for my grandmother, and Raj on BBT.

1951 Hoster Cocktail Guide.

Absolutely some of my favorite finds. Hard to display as half of the fun is spinning the dials.

French guide to English verbs

French to English Verb Guide

French English Chart Detail 1Now, just need to combine the two guides above to order cocktails in French. . .

 The Lucy-loophole item of the collection is this mad-for-plaid Atlantic hatbox.  Almost as fun as a sassy cocktail guide.Plaid Hat BoX

Space Needle Menu 1962

Encore of this 1962 Space Needle Menu

Additional details:

This promotional item probably took a bit of the bite out of back to school shopping.

Encryption for kids circa 1968

Encryption for kids circa 1968

Hush Puppies Decoder Key

Pocket tokens currently located not in pockets

Pocket Totems

Another pocket token received years ago from a dad to his procrastinating daughter. What is it?

A Rount TuitWhy it’s a round tuit of course.

When I Get Around To It. And yes, yes it’s from my dad. Love it.

Bonus Message:  e/ okuuxz!

You Say TomAto, I Say Tom-ah-to

Vintage or Vintage-Style?

It pays to pay attention. Or maybe it saves. Last weekend I attended a flea market and (this is key for me) just bought one item.

What caught my eye from a plethora of intriguing objects? This bottle,

Le Bon Lait Bottle 1Cows. Blue. French.

Ceramic lid and wire handle. Le Bon Lait Bottle 2

And . . . . .  it’s originally from Cost Plus World Market. Old-fashioned but not old. French, alas not from France. Online price $5.99. Also saw many listings on etsy and ebay for this vintage-inspired find.

If I had the opportunity would I bring this back from France? You bet. So it’s reasonable that someone else would too. A lesson in buying what you love.  And I do. But this was a close one.

Le Bon Lait Bottle 3I saw the same bottle this weekend at a lovely annual French inspired flea market.  Marked down to $23. Yikes.

The bottle is 100% useful, and irresistibly cute in our fridge replacing the less-than-charming Costco bottle.

Costco 64 oz Creamer

I collect milk bottles and the price was just $2. When I bought it I didn’t ask any questions or unobtrusively take a moment to Google “Le Bon Lait” on my phone. Cows. Blue. In French. I do love it. But considering the difference between vintage and vintage-style is one for me to remember.  So time for a little Latin–Caveat Emptor.

Thank You Mr. Watterson

Now, I’ll let you in on a little maternal secret. Sometimes one of the munchkins may need a little pick me up or mood buster. My tip is to rotate a book into the upstairs ‘library’.  (Also known as the kids bathroom.)   A book with the task of eliciting a smile. Subtle parenting, lightly sly but must say pretty darn effective. A twinkle in their eyes returns after a few pages of Foxtrot, Zits or Baby Blues, or a Chicken Soup title for Kids, Teens, Pet Lovers, and/or People with Crazy Mothers. Maybe a blast from the past like vintage Readers Digest magazine is the ticket. (No, I do not leave Mommy and Daddy’s yearbooks, even though they are oh-so-good for a laugh. . .)

The Book of Awesome is awesome, as are the books in the Worst Case Scenario series. Another option to lighten any day is the latest edition in the National Geographic Weird But True series.  I know it’s working when I hear, “Did you know that hippos lips are about two feet wide?”

But there is one series that makes the trip from ‘the library’ back to the kids rooms, and is read and re-read cover to cover.

I caught a glimpse in a magazine this spring.

5/5/95 in Norwegian


  Whenever I fish with these books, they’re hooked. Here is our collection of Calvin and Hobbes.

Bill Watterson

The illustrations radiate personality

The illustrations radiate personality

Calvin and Hobbes ran from November 18, 1985, to December 31, 1995

Dogeared, witha few loose pages. We'll keep using it until it's falling a part

Dogeared, with a few loose pages. We’ll keep using it until it’s falling apart

We are but six of the many, many Calvin and Hobbes fans, as this 2013 documentary highlights.  As popular as the strip was, and is, there are no Calvin and Hobbes toys or t-shirts, pens or pillowcases. (Any auto decal you may have seen is not authorized. Whew.)  To say Mr. Bill Watterson is reluctant to give interviews is an understatement


A documentary film about the impact of the best comic strip in the history of the universe: Calvin & Hobbes.

Bill Watterson 1986 AP photo of the illusive Bill Watterson

This cartoon for the documentary about comics, STRIPPED, was Mr. Watterson’s first in 19 years.

Open a can of tuna for Hobbes and enjoy the May 1995 strip from above in English.

Calvin and Hobbes 5/5/95

The hi-jinx of this duo live on in multiple books. Any we don’t own, we’ve checked out from the library. E-books can deliver a chuckle to your fingertips in moments.  Also has Susie Derkins and her pesky neighbors.

My worthy assistant helped me collect these books, and selected this from The Essential Calvin and Hobbes to share.Lost with Calvin and Hobbes

A little additional comic magic from June 2014,

Not Quite, The End All Calvin and Hobbes images © Bill Watterson

The ultra Calvin and Hobbes fan may want to test their knowledge on this Sporcle quiz:

Calvin’s teacher
Calvin’s neighbor and snowball target
Calvin’s favorite sport
The club started by Calvin and Hobbes
Calvin’s space explorer alter ego
Calvin’s invention that lets him become different animals and objects
Calvin’s babysitter
The bully at Calvin’s school
Calvin’s invention that lets him make copies of himself
Calvin’s private eye alter ego
Calvin’s favorite cereal
Calvin’s favorite bedtime story
Calvin’s superhero alter ego
Calvin’s uncle
Scientific Progress Goes ________
Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster __________

Don’t Put All Your Laundry in One Basket

Laundry day. Which with four kids is pretty much another term for everyday here. Not that the laundry is sorted and/or put away in a timely manner, but it is clean.

Ever hopeful, I like to think of the hum of the washer and dryer as my children’s nightly lullaby. Kind of like employing the feng shui of a soothing fountain, running first through a Maytag.

Not that it would change the tide of our laundry in any way, but I have coveted large folding, rolling wire baskets for a while now.  Like this one, which is not mine. Yet.

Folding laundry hamper

Seeing one in an antique store or flea market is a treat until spying (more often than not) the “NFS” tag. I understand the “not for sale” part, as the basket is doing a darn good job of storing or displaying something. Which is exactly why I want one.

However, I quenched my quest at a recent estate sale. Almost. I found this darling placebo folded against a wall in the basement. (Not exactly a surprise location wise, but that it was still available at the end of a busy, busy sale was.) Hmmm, not what I had in mind, but pretty darn close. When I opened it up, I could sense a ‘how did I miss that?’ moment for the others in the basement with me.

Vintage and folding. Light as a feather and sturdy. I could think of many potential uses.  A place to stow blankets and throws in the family room, flip-flops in the garage, extra towels or maybe the entire Costco package of TP  in the bathroom.  Yes, I got it.

With side pockets too.

With side pockets too.

Ta-da, isn’t it cute?

I’m just kidding about a mound of TP, though it is tempting.  Meanwhile, I saw this at an antique mall when out and about last week.Mall Folding Laundry BasketAnd it was for sale.Detail Laundry Tag$60

A small happy dance ensued as I realized the one I bought was in better condition, and even better, a super bargain at just $5.

Are we using the fabulous folding find? Yes we are. Crazy as it may seem, we using the laundry basket for—-laundry.

Munchkin #4 has it set in her room for nightly two-point shot practice at jammy time.  Score! In more ways than one.

Fly Me To The Moon

To Celebrate 45th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Mission, and Moon Landing on July 20, 1969.

Issued May 5, 1969

Issued May 5, 1969

Showing the Earth rising over the Moon, this stamp design was based on a photograph by William Anders, one of the Apollo 8 astronauts who took part in that historic December 1968 mission — the first manned lunar orbital flight.

The biblical quotation represents not a religious observation by the Post Office Department, but a famous Apollo 8 moment. Instructed by NASA to “say something appropriate” from space during a Christmas Eve transmission, the astronauts alternated reading verses from the Book of Genesis as viewers across the country watched the Earthrise on television.

My parents (like many) kept quite a trove of newspapers and magazines with historic headlines.   I was fairly ruthless as there were reams of documents to go through, and the information is easily available. Plus may were stored in the basement, a less than archival environment.  (And yes, I cried too.) I gave away and donated many, and recycled most.  But like a good book, sometimes it is just nice to hold an item in your hand. This lovely stamp was tucked away in the stash of memorabilia with a card and envelope.  I may need to liberate it for a project.  These items below also reside in the 2″ stack remaining of the time capsule. (And yes I forgot about it until yesterday. But look what I found.)

Seattle Times 7,21,69

Detail from the front page article on July 21, 1969,

The word Groovy appears twice

The word ‘groovy’ appears twice in these 1st few inches of the article. What else was on the front page?

Luna 15 Landing


This was a surprise to see on the front page. Of course I know about the race to the Moon with the Soviets. But if I’ve learned that the Russians landedan unmanned craft on the moon 500 miles away from Apollo 11, almost to the day, I certainly have not retained it.

The Seattle PI July 20, 1969

Seattle PI 7.20.69

I’m guessing the use of color, even on the front page, was a significant too.

 Summer reading program 1969.

KCLS Summer Reading Record 1969Kids across Seattle joined in the Astronaut’s Reading Club. Love the graphics.

Buzz, Neil and Michael weren’t the only ones to complete at trip to the Moon that summer. (See Buzz, I put you first.)

Buzz, Neil and Michael weren;t the only ones to complete at trip to the Moon.

For readers in this millennium , I recommend The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story  by Lily Koppel.  Perfect 45th anniversary summer read.

In both 1969 and in 2014, July 20 fell on a Sunday. Cool. Or should I say groovy?

Fine, yes I realize it’s now been 45 years and two days, before I hit publish.

Speak To Me

Collection of foreign language dictionaries, guides and phrase books.

 Quelle surprise, I’ll start with French.

Jr Classic Dictionary English-French

Copyright 1932 and published in 1939. The oldest member of the collection

A wonderfully worn, yet still vibrant cover.

Some of the new words: talkie, television, and tank.

Italian, Portuguese and Norwegian dictionaries,

Detail from the Visual Italian Dictionary.Instruments in ItalianMaybe I can speak Italian! But not sure how often ‘la tuba’ may come up in conversation . . .

The most recent addition to the collection is this vintage dictionary.

Russian English Dictionary for the Foreign Student 1

1962 Moscow publication printed in the USSR.

Russian English Dictionary 3During the Cold War, at least one person must have had a sense of humor. . . .Russian English Dictionary 2

The acronym and the use of color on the cover made me laugh in the used book store.

The first Berlitz Language School opened in Rhode Island in 1878. This Russian language book is from 1951. It has handwritten notes throughout the first half. Love it.

Berlitz Self Teacher Russian

I’ve now learned that Russian uses three noun genders, feminine, masculine and neutral.

Not too long ago a pocket guide like the one below was a key travelers tool.  While “I’d like a room with a view of the garden next Tuesday” might not be the most practical phrase to practice, it is imperative to learn please, thank you, and pardon me.  A woman at a shop in Victoria, B.C., mentioned she was originally from Hungary, so I thanked her by saying “Köszönöm”. It made her so happy it truly surprised me. Of course, that is 100% of my Hungarian vocabulary.


Turns out to be a well regarded program. The most recent positive review for a 1989 edition was posted today (19.7.14)

I picked up this book on a whim. Even if left unopened by the Spanish students in the house, it has a terrific cover and title. It may turn out to be quite a find. I didn’t notice until today, but the career of then 25 year-old illustrator turned out pretty well too.

He went on to illustrate Amy Vanderbilt's  Complete Cookbook in 1961

He went on to illustrate Amy Vanderbilt’s Complete Cookbook in 1961, and a few additional projects. . .

And hey, not only can I speak Italian (only) if percussion instruments are discussed, but I might be able to draw (stick figures) as well as Andy Warhol.

OK, maybe just for this example.

Gosh this was fun. Thanks!Madgrial's Magic Key to Spanish

Note: Sorry if visually shouting, my options for image sizes used to be a %  & now more of S-M-L.  Ends up huge or mini. Working on it. Would welcome any tips. Thanks

Tickle My Fancy, Veggie Edition

It’s a Saturday in the middle of summer. I’ve taken a moment to sort through my random digital wranglings/images.  An item, a message, an unusual grouping, a spot-on or far-out marketing campaign, interesting product placement, a look, or a reflection, or an instant of plain ol’ serendipity may catch my eye.  Whimsy really.  And all have become kind of schmooshed into a big bloggy bucket.

What I found upon sorting was that along with a plethora of amazing public art, creative utilitarian pieces, clever colorful items, sweet, sassy and/or ironic things, useless or useful items, turns out there also happens to be a garden of inspiration that tickles my fancy. (#TMF)

So here we go!  And why not, it’s fun. Let’s celebrate summer with an ‘un-collection’ of vegetables.

Happy Veggies

Happy Veggies

Natures Bounty, Spring Radished

CAM08480 - Copy Thoughtful Veggies, both water-colored and real.

Carrot Humor, who knew?

The Sassy Birthday Card à la Veggies

1st Birthday Pepper "Cake"

When life gives you lemons but no eggs, you invent the Pepper Cake.

This yellow pepper ‘cake placebo’, wrapped with a washi tape bow, was actually a big hit.  How many time does a mother say, “Why I’m glad you’re up sooooo early, and YES you may eat your entire cake this morning”.  Magical really. Thanks to a vegetable.

Oscar Orange? Here’s a ‘friend’ of a popular toy. Vintage, yet I had never even heard of Oscar the Orange. Hmmm. Mr Potato Head might not have wanted to share the limelight perhaps?  It was no surprise that poor Oscar was practically NIB.

Eggpland & Karrot

Who wouldn’t enjoy an anthropomorphic eggplant & carrot, especially during a soggy Saturday market? As this is the fourth set of smiling veggies, I might be on to something.

Expanding a bit from produce to food. Starting with this FEASTmode sign.


May be only in the Seattle. But seeing this on a Mickey D’s run during Superbowl season was a hoot.  The 12th man is having a McMuffin–people can I get a woo hoo!

While waiting for burritos to-go at a mom and pop shop, I glanced over to the corner of the counter. Some children with their mother were giggling and insistently pointing at something. Gathered together was a collection of impromptu foil sculptures. Then I spied the one that was making them so happy, The foreground is a (perhaps) grasshopper, but the second item in is a pair of Wall:E glasses.  You may need to squint. Cute! Wearable too. I hope the couldn’t-be-starving-with-these-enormous-tacos artist had a great day.

Taco Art

Yoga and grapes

Well, grapes definitely are used to produce wine, so let’s include this sassy shirt. (Thx Pat)

And lastly, and very very loosely this tickles my fancy too. Squirrels are nuts, hide nuts and eat nuts. So here, Just go Nuts

it cracks me up.

Happy Summer!


Money Makes The World Go ‘Round

This is just a temporary collection. An array of vivid, pretty colors and patterns.

For origami? Not quite.

Fistful of Australian Dollars

It’s not paper. It’s a plastic/polymer.  Easily recyclable, but I don’t think you’d want to because–

A Rainbow of Currency

–it’s Australian currency!  Filled front to back with fabulous details. Just slight variation in sizes. I had never seen an Australian dollar until this week. Curious like a cat wombat, off I clicked to the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade to learn more.

And I must give a shout out to a very engaging, interactive website. Way to go Aussies. Each banknote has a story. Please check it out too. Designs, history and even games.

The mini scoop:

Australian banknotes changed in 1966 as the currency switched from the pound to the decimal/dollar system.  A polymer technology for banknotes was designed in Australia and introduced in 1988. Between 1992-96, a new series of bills were introduced.  The denominations are $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. Unique as it is the first currency in the (modern) world not printed on paper.

50 AUD

As the mother of 4 daughters here in the 21st century, it is amazing that this next fact was a surprise. Each of the five bills feature a woman on one side. Admittedly Queen Elizabeth II is a slam-dunk to appear. But woo hoo. The $50 note features David Unaipon, an Aboriginal author and inventor.

Go Mary! Australian $20

Must admit that Mary Reibey on the $20 above surprised me, with a resemblance to Benjamin Franklin.  She was almost a contemporary, her life spanned 1777–1855. She arrived in New South Wales as a convict at age 13, and went on to become successful in the shipping business and philanthropy. (Horse stealing, disguised as a boy, seven children, now on the $20. Go Mary. Yes, there are books about her.)

I picture many exotic animals in the Land Down Under but seeing this peeking out was a surprise.

Detail, Camel riding missionaries

A camel? This image is of a Flynn Boundary rider also known as a Patrol Padre, one of the camel riding missionaries from the early 1900′s. That’s just plain fun.

Now what else? Brumbies detail

Brumbies. Do you recall the poem The Man From Snowy River? A brumby is a wild Australian horse. Honored on the $1o bill.

I love the layers, symbolism and meanings of images used in the US currency. But must admit this outback rainbow is very entertaining. The variety of items embedded in each note are impressive.

To those easily distracted by squirrels or sparkly things (like myself), the windows on each bill may be of interest. I saw them, or should I say saw through them, and thought how cute!

They are one of seven security measures.  Still cute though.

A pocketful of history like these bills completely fascinate me.  (As you may recall from previous posts, &   Think I may just go read up on the Hungarian Forint.

More Australian banknote scoop at:

. . . banknotes also offer an opportunity to honour Australians who have made an important contribution to the nation. The notable Australians that presently feature on our banknotes were selected in consultation with various respected members of the community, including designers, art curators, historians and psychologists. The Reserve Bank of Australia


I do not randomly order foreign currency (yet), or travel frequently (yet). So how did I come upon a fistful of fancy dollars?  Our sweet baby is heading off to Australia! And she just exchanged some of the spending money she has earned. She has studied very hard, and applied to an amazing study abroad program. Crazy as it sounds, there is actually a camel trek located within an hour or so from campus. So proud of our little banana. Sniff.  Now please finish packing.)