A Collision of Particles

Johnny Cash + Bob Dylan
"Girl From The North Country"

An aurora (plural: auroras or aurorae) is a natural light display in the sky, particularly in the polar regions, caused by the collision of charged particles directed by the Earth's magnetic field.
The best months to see Auroras in Alaska are March and December when the nights are long with clear skies and milder weather. Fairbanks, Alaska is in a prime location for viewing the Northern Lights if you can get away from light pollution.

Here is a list of tours and resorts specifically for viewing the phenomenon.


Aurora Over Alaska, Photo Credit: Joshua Strang


Silk satin tunic dress by Full Circle $170 / $205


5" by 7" AURORA Celestial Print $5 by Jim Smeltz


lightweight dip-dye infinity scarf Fred Flare $14


Tuesday Thrift Finds

I went on a thrift store pencil skirt binge this week. Bought this wool skirt for $2 w/tags still attached. Do I look cold? I was, this outfit needs tights! I'm thinking of ordering some from welovecolors. I really want a pair of cranberry leggings.


vintage wool skirt
urban outfitters belt
forever 21 shirt
embroidered cashmere 1950's cardigan
leather Aldo boots

I refinished a wooden card catalogue box too. I almost passed this up for $4! I was trying to withhold from buying things I can't think of an immediate use for. It was really scratched up and sort of ugly so I ended up taking it home and I tried the walnut scratch remover method. Rub a walnut over wood scratches -- it's amazing and kind of fun to watch scratches disappear instantly. I haven't thought of anything to store in there yet but I think it makes a nice pedestal for my cacti in the window (the only plant I can keep alive). There are pencil marks on it with measurements so I think it was handmade--maybe it was made to hold tape cassettes?


ALSO just posted this coat in the shop. Found this little beauty in perfect condition. Taupe grey wool with fur collar and cuffs. Love the belt, circa late 50's, early 60's, Zinman Furs. $124


A Very Retro Christmas

This weekend I put up the Christmas tree. I spent a long time searching ebay for a vintage aluminum pom pom tree but in the end decided I wanted a fuller looking tree. I got a white tree this year which I think still has a retro feel. Last year I was lucky enough to stumble upon an entire box of 1960's christmas tree ornaments in perfect condition. Sets of flocked green and pink bells, little plastic marching men, clowns, angels and elves. I was excited to finally put them on display!




This weekend was also my family's annual gingerbread house "competition". Andrew and I decided to go with a pretzel log cabin design this year. Here's the recipe if you are interested (add 1-2 cups more flour than the recipe calls for), roll the dough out 1/4" thickness. There are lots of templates online for houses. Cut the windows before baking, allow at least 3 days for the pieces to harden before assembling. Here are some photos from the event:



(the guy on the left is chopping wood with an axe -- andrew's creation)





Family Tree

My mom is obsessed with tracing back my family history and last night I was searching for genealogy related Christmas presents. In my search I found some lovely illustrated family history charts and other alternatives to the traditional family tree. Here are a few of my favorites, let me know what you think!

1. Podaima Family Quilt (podaima.com for a larger version)

Found this lovely quilt on the Podaima Family website. This was by far my favorite. I adore everything about this, specifically the colors! I would have never chosen those colors and it is so gorgeous, especially with the touch of metallic leaves. I might have chosen a different fabric for the ground but still, I think this is so quirky and adorable with the broken branches.

2. Martha Stewart's Family Heirloom Branch in Glass Dome

Unfortunately I can't really say I have a family collection of trinkets but I like the idea. The glass domes that she suggests in the tutorial are a bit pricey at $140-200. You can find a 10" by 15" dome for about $80.00 on collector's sites like this one. I love the look of the Manzanita branch, but I'm picky and I'd want to chose it myself rather than order it online. I read that Michael's sells these branches or you can check the local florist. I may go look for one to make a jewelry stand.

3. Staker Store Customized Family Tree

Love this, very understated and beautiful. Pricing is $100-125 depending on size, printed on fine art paper, canvas is also available. The country or state of origin is noted on each of the green leaves.


Out & About

fall in the countryside, here are a few recent photographs.






Spooktacular Sunday

My friend Veronika came over Sunday and we spent the day flea marketing and getting in touch with our crafty side. I carved a pumpkin for the first time in five years. It was also my first time using a linoleum carving tool. I've seen examples of this technique that I really loved so decided to give it a try myself. It carved really easy but like printmaking, it was tricky to remember which sections would be raised. In the future I would spray paint my pumpkin black before carving. I used a very white jumbo permanent black marker to run over the surface of certain raised designs. You could probably use ink and brayer but I made enough of a mess as it was. My pumpkin took a little over 2 hours.





We also made Halloween wreaths from supplies we found at the local craft store. The black wreath base was 3.99 + 1.00 for skulls + 2.00 for glitter + 3.00 for velvet = about 11.00 total. The spiders and bats were cut from recycled plastic and then covered in glitter and the spider webs were made by using hot glue on tin foil (peels right off).




This, That and the Other

Here are some of my big finds from Monday. It was crowded at the local auction but I ended up with some great little treasures.


1950s Green Bathroom Scale with glass bubble $4



Antique 1915-1920s Wind and Rainfall Pattern Pull Down Map $2
I was surprised no one wanted this, so cool!



Vintage plates for artwork, saw this on a craft blog.
-- used a sharpie and cross stitch font for reference,
I used the free font "Home Sweet Home"
Perfect for filling the empty shelf above the kitchen sink.
$4 for plates.



$2 hand-made loop rug, circa 1960s


Elementary, my dear Watson

Natural History Vintage Study inspired Etsy picks for September:

Picture 6


Birds and Ponies and Babies Oh My

Rummaged through some old photographs today at a sale.

I limited myself to 4 photos/ .25 ea -- circa 1920s to 1940s

Thought there was something sort of beautiful about these photos in particular:
subjects, lighting, composition...I'm not quite sure, just some lovely shots to inspire.

Looking through antique and vintage photographs is always bittersweet. I love the glimpse it allows into the lives of people before me but there is also something unsettling about it...voyeuristic maybe? --That I know the photographs weren't created with the intent to be on display for sale in a mixed and nameless heap. It's a strange idea that our things outlive us. -- I've recently thought about writing a series of bound journal entries in the form of a one-way correspondence to a future reader.

Kitschen Renovation

I'm in the process of updating my childhood home on a tight budget. The kitchen was our first major project. The house is a cape cod built in 1945, and since I am a huge fan of 1940's design, I decided to restore this kitchen to its original era. This was a big project... one month of hard labor, new floors, new appliances, new counters, new tile back splash, fresh cabinet paint, (new) vintage hardware, light fixture and table set....


Severely warped faux wood laminate counters, outdated appliances, vinyl yellow brick flooring, heavily wallpapered in country apple theme (including backsplash). Awful florescent overhead lighting.


.... AND.... voila!.... the big reveal. I'm pretty happy with the way this kitchen renovation went. You would be surprised at the budget I worked with. (Still have to paint those two faux drawers under the sink)

I did a lot of image searching for 1940's kitchens and these were a few of my inspiration photos for the project:

COSTS OF RENOVATION on a small budget:


Love wood flooring in a kitchen and butcher block counter tops. The only problem is these can be somewhat expensive and difficult to maintain. I found an excellent deal at IKEA on unfinished butcher block counter slabs. We spent about $300 total on the counters and treated them with 3 coats Waterlox sealer and 3 coats Waterlox Satin Finish so they are completely waterproof. It's a food grade tung oil. They still aren't resistant to cuts from knives, etc. but I've always been careful about that. If you don't have any woodworking knowledge/tools, you may not want to attempt to create an L-shaped counter with this material, considering the counter pieces are beveled on all edges, it can be difficult to remove a section of the bevel to join them.


I found a set of four reproduction yellow 1950's chairs on Craigslist for $60, which was an amazing deal since these cost up to $150 each. Plus the foam is new and they are more comfortable than the older chairs. Found a matching table at a local thrift store for $20 which cleaned up very nicely.


Loved the old painted face cabinets with the white base so we painted the cabinet faces "Lemon Slush" yellow. But the hardware in my kitchen was from the 1970's and looked too "primitive country," so I found a set of 32 1950's chrome handles on Ebay for $50 that someone took out of an older home during a renovation. This way I also had leftover for the bathroom cabinets.


This was a splurge, but not really considering that new kitchen lights started at over $100, even at places like Home Depot and Lowes. I found this on Ebay and paid $60 with shipping. It is a retractable light so it has a pulley in the top metal "bullet" and the height can be easily adjusted by pulling up or down on it. It also has a great "punch out" design on the top of the fixture that the light shines through.

5. SUBWAY TILE BACKSPLASH - $0.23 / tile

Installed the white subway tile backsplash after stripping all the wallpaper. $0.23 / tile at Home Depot. Easy installation, used wet saw to fit tiles.


This was the major spending point in the renovation. We went with Bruce hardwood in the color Gunstock Oak to match existing wood flooring in an adjoining room. Lowe's had the best pricing on this.

The biggest saving was that we did all the labor ourselves.