I wouldn’t classify myself as a collector, but I do have a collection or two of vintage treasures I fancy. Most recently, I started a sentimental little collection of silverware from the Horn and Hardart automats from the early and mid-century. Although I never went to a Horn and Hardart restaurant, the name reminds me of my family and their stories of dining and working there. I would love collect a full set to replace my Ikea silverware.
My great-grandmother (born 1899) loved regaling me with stories about her life and the history she lived through. Not many topics fascinated me more than the crazy automat restaurants at which she dined (side note: I know that many grammarians say it’s okay to end a sentence with a preposition, but it feels wrong to rebel against Mrs. Bosworth, my junior high grammar teacher.). I was obsessed with the idea of a restaurant filled wall to wall with vending machines from which you could procure hot food items for just a nickel a piece. That sounded like heaven to my seven year old brain.
Vintage Horn and Hardart Automat Postcard from Wikipedia. (I would love a set of those chairs.)
My grandmother was not my only source for Horn and Hardart stories. In the early 1950s my mom worked there, which meant I could interrogate her about all aspects about how this system of little windows and doors worked.
I love these photos of my mom and her Horn and Hardart automat co-workers posing on the roof.
My Horn and Hardart fascination only deepened when I discovered that my great-grandfather also worked there while conducting some family history research. Here’s a close-up of his death certificate naming Horn and Hardart as his employer. Also, if you look closely at the address at the bottom, you’ll see it says 3 Eva Court. This is the address where my great-grandparents lived and where I came up with the name for my blog.
Do you have any collections, sentimental or otherwise?
I’m super excited to report that over the last few days, my dad and I removed the Chevy Nova interior so we can get serious with our restoration project! I cannot wait to chop off the roof, but taking our time here will prevent damage to the interior from the impending pulling, cutting and welding that will occur.
It’s not a particularly difficult job (that will come when we cut the roof off and replace it!), but the worst part was the dead mouse we found inside of it! Don’t worry, I won’t subject you to any photos of that!
Held together with an assortment of hooks, clips and screws, the interior requires only a few tools to be disassembled, but lots of patience to carefully collect and label the hundreds of parts so none go missing.
This project was a great excuse to use my label maker! I labeled the bags of bits to keep them organized and easy to find when we put this whole project back together.
One last look before the interior is all gone. Everything has to go– the seats, door panels, seat belts, carpet, arm rests, door handles, moldings, and more.
No more seats! There was so MUCH vacuuming in this project. That dead mouse (and maybe some of his mouse friends) made himself at home and left evidence of his stay everywhere.
There goes the windshield!
My dad pondering what needs to be removed from the dash. If you look at the bottom of this picture, you can see that the carpet is gone!
Elements like the door handles are held on by little clips that can be magically removed by this little contraption. You shove this little guy between the door handle and its washer, shimmy it around, and PRESTO the clip comes off. Next were the door panels behind the handles.
Just a few screws and the door panels were gone!
I used this little hook tool to carefully remove the headliner fabric, which was glued to the moldings. More evidence of our mouse guest: mouse poop cascaded down with every inch of headliner removed. Gross!
All of the mouldings underneath the headliner also had to be removed.
Even some of the exterior moldings needed to be removed in anticipation of pulling the car back into shape and removing the roof.
And a view through the back window. Poor Chevy Nova is naked.
PJ, my awesome friend and a super talented cook, taught me how to make this easy and delish Parmesan zucchini side dish during a recent trip to California. Spend any time at PJ’s house and you are guaranteed something delectable, a meal, baked good or cocktail. I’ve been the lucky recipient of this delicious trifecta through many years of friendship. And I’m happy to share my good fortune with you!
Check us out at PJ’s 80s themed birthday party a few years ago:
Okay, enough with the chit chat, it’s time to get to the recipe . . .
Parmesan Zucchini Side Dish Recipe:
- Zucchini (as many as you would like to make!)
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat the broiler on low (Setting the broiler to low allows the zucchini to become tender)
- Trim the zucchini ends
- Slice them down the middle
- Score zucchini lengthwise and crosswise
- Lightly butter each slice (don’t use too much or the butter will spill out onto the cookie sheet… I may have been guilty of this!)
- Generously sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese over the butter
- Place the zucchini slices on a cookie sheet and then under the broiler
- Cook until the Parmesan cheese is golden brown.
Replace the Parmesan cheese with goat cheese or go super crazy with a goat/parmesan cheese combo!
As a kid, I loved parmesan cheese from the green can, ate vienna sausages straight from the container, and considered Kraft American slices to be the best cheese a girl could eat. I’m not sure what changed, but my tastes became decidedly bougier as I’ve gotten older.
One of my favorite bars in Los Angeles serves a grilled cheese with goat and parmesan and I decided to try recreating it at home. The goat cheese is soft and gooey on the inside, while the parmesan offers a nutty crunch on the outside. It’s a delightful combo!
Bougie Grilled Cheese Ingredients:
- Your favorite bread (sourdough is delicious!)
- About a ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (not that stuff in a green can!)
- Goat Cheese (The pictured Trader Joe’s brand goat cheese with honey is BEYOND!) – I like to take the goat cheese out about 15 minutes before making this so it spreads easily.
Bougie Grilled Cheese Directions:
- Put a frying pan on medium high.
- Melt a little butter in the frying pan (so the parmesan cheese will turn golden brown)
- Spread the goat cheese on one slice of bread and put the other slice on top.
- Butter one slice of your sandwich.
- Press half the parmesan cheese into the butter.
- Flip it over.
- Butter the other side and press the rest of the parmesan cheese into the butter.
- Carefully put the sandwich into your frying pan.
- Flip when the parmesan cheese is golden brown.
I like to serve my grilled cheese with sliced tomatoes, sprinkled with fresh ground pepper and a little sea salt. Enjoy!
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Decorating your walls inexpensively doesn’t have to mean boring or mass marketed. Read on for ten unique and inexpensive art ideas!
Left: Prom dress illustration from my mom’s yearbook Middle: Grammar letterpress card from Sapling Press Right: Beauty Queens photo from Found Retail
1. Letterpress Cards
More commonly used for wedding invitations and such, letterpress cards make excellent artwork for your tabletops and walls! Not your standard sappy greeting cards, they are hand printed with all manner of clever sayings or themed with your favorite pop culture references. Since the text and images are actually pressed into the paper, you get a depth of texture that you can’t get from your home printer.
Etsy is my favorite source for inexpensive letterpress cards, which usually run about $4 to $5 each. Check out Etsy sellers Sapling Press for their “not a slut” grammar card (in picture above, center) and Chasing Type for a Dr. Who, “Fezzes are Cool” card. The card sizes vary and are often not standard frame sizes, so you simply trim to size and frame! Cheap and easy!
2. Raid Your Parents’ Old Stuff
You can find free art for your home just by raiding your dad and mom’s stuff! From my mom’s yearbook, I scanned a prom dress illustration and printed it out at home (top photo, left).
Digging through my dad’s junk, I found this interesting schematic in a machine manual he was going to throw out. I love the color, typography and graphics, even though I have no idea what a hydraulic machine does!
3. Vintage Photos
Vintage photos are another unique and inexpensive art option for your home! You can find them at yard sales, thrift stores, antique stores, Etsy, Ebay. I purchased the trio of New York beauty queens from Found Retail (top picture, right).
Old family photos make a more sentimental option that is also free. The older and wackier the better! Check out this photo of my great grandmother and her sister from the 1960s. I’m not sure whose birthday was being celebrated, but I’m thankful this moment was captured on film so it can decorate my apartment.
4. Artwork by Kids
I sincerely hope you know a kid or two, as they are excellent purveyors of free art for your walls. If not, you must befriend one immediately. Kids tend to either overwhelm you with their artistic offerings or they can be temperamental artists. For your less prolific child artists, you may need to be persistent about your need for art. This effort will pay off, and I present to you, “Day at the Carpet Store” by Jackie (age 9), as an example:
Shorpy is one of the most fabulous websites ever. It’s a vintage photo blog featuring tons of images from the 1850s to the 1950s. You can browse by decade, subject, and location. The variety is enormous and you can order high quality prints for as low as $15 for an 8″ X 10″. The people who run Shorpy carefully restore each image so you get high quality prints.
Check out this department store photo from 1941:
Flickr is more than just a place to upload your photos! It’s a great source for free art for your home. Use Flickr’s advanced search to find photos that are shared with a Creative Commons license, which allows you download the photos for printing without any copyright issues.
Also, be sure to check out Flickr’s “The Commons“, which is a collection of copyright free images shared by public photography archives. You can download and print at home.
I love this weird beach scene from 1955, from Margaret Barr’s ballet “Strange Children”.
I ordered this fabric swatch from Tonic Living for $1.50 as a possible option for a sewing project. While it didn’t work for the purpose I needed, it will make a great framed piece of art. Now, I just need to get to Ikea to get one of their square frames.
Another framable fabric swatch idea, Gray Line Linen sells swatch cards for their various lines of linen. This is their Warsa collection and the swatch card is $9.75:
8. Vintage Advertising
Vintage advertising images look splendid on your walls. You can purchase vintage magazines and cut out individual images or shop for individual advertisement images at antique stores, Etsy or Ebay. You can find advertising for pretty much any category you want, such as cars, decor, fashion, travel and so much more. I love vintage fashion and lingerie ads:
Also check out Plan 59 for midcentury advertising that you can order online. My personal favorite is this Magnavox ad.
9. Sewing Patterns
You can find sewing patterns at thrift stores, antique stores and online inexpensively. I found these at an antique store in Los Angeles. It was my best negotiation ever, particularly since I’m terrible at negotiating. I would almost rather give the person more money than they originally asked rather than negotiate.
The patterns were priced at $5 each, but I guess the guy at the antique store REALLY wanted to get rid of them. While I was looking at them he started lowering the price, and somehow, without any hard bargaining on my end, they ended up at $0.25 each! Score! I bought a bazillion. I framed the best using some basic frames from Aaron Brothers.
10. Google Images
I loved the Dr. Who Dalek Victory poster, but since I’m not 12 years old, I didn’t need a 24 X 36 inch poster size! I simply used the Google search to find the same image, which I printed out on 5″ X 7″ photo paper at home.
In case you’ve never done it, It’s super easy to search using Google Images:
- Enter your search terms.
- Make sure you select Image search.
- Click on “Search Tools” to open more search options.
- Under the size drop down menu, select “Large” to ensure the image resolution will be sufficient for printing.
May you cover your walls with unique and inexpensive art! Do you have any inexpensive inexpensive art ideas to share?