Category Archives: day job

Rhapsody in White

gowns upon gowns

gowns upon gowns

Hello, Readers! I miss you so. Here I am, popping in to say, “Hi!” And to write about…well, a little insight into how my addled brain works.

I have a huge (to me, anyway) inventory of vintage goodies in my storage space. Some is listed in the shop, but I’d guess that about â…” to ¾ of it is known only to me. Which really isn’t the point of having it all, now is it? No. But getting it all cleaned, mended, steamed, photographed, measured, and listed…well, that’s rather daunting. Overwhelming, really. My plan of attack in the past has been rather wishy-washy: I grab the closest X number of items that fit a theme (Blouses. Aprons. Party dresses.) and try to haphazardly work from there. But…

My last big shop update was Everything Red. Didn’t matter what it was. I posted dresses, napkins, neckties. All red. My storefront looked like a bordello a bouquet of poppies. It was days of photography, and a few weeks to get it all listed. But it is, and it’s done, and I was feeling pretty accomplished. The plan was to next move on to Purple and Coral. But…

A few of my wedding dress listings expired. They tend to be pretty popular in the Search stats, but a wedding dress isn’t the kind of thing a gal can wear every day so they don’t sell as quickly as a skirt might. Now, I didn’t want to leave those listings in the ether, but I also didn’t want to break up my color blocking on the storefront. Etsy allows shop owners to move listings around to various pages, but it’s a wee bit of a pain. So? So I sat and thought about it and stressed about it didn’t do a dang thing at all. Which is not the way to sell vintage clothing. So…

New plan of attack: Relist the expired wedding dresses. Photograph a few “new” wedding dresses to add to the category (I have 6–7 of them lingering in storage). And then wash/mend/steam/photograph/measure/list Everything White. Great! A Plan! But…

White tends to be a warm-weather color, so while there’s at least one beaded cardigan in the mix, most of this stash is summery blouses and whatnot. And here in the States, it’s nearly Labor Day with crisp Autumn weather nipping at its heels. But…

I do love my AU and NZ customers. They (you) make up an inordinately large percentage of my sales. And I really do apologize from the bottom of my heart for the cost of shipping, but that truly is the cost of shipping to the other side of the planet. Most of you understand that. So, yay! An update for the Southern Latitudes! But…

I know me, and I know how much time I have available to dedicate to the shop. I do what I can when I can, but it’s not my day job. And if I take pretty much the month of September to list Everything White, I’m afraid that I won’t get to autumn wear until winter and so on. So…

With apologies to my AU and NZ customers: I’m going back to a Theme for just a short break. Wedding Dresses (also not the high season, but hey, people get married all the time) will interrupt the color blocking for a short time. After that: look for, say, Navy. And Black. And Olive. And as always, if you’re looking for something in particular, just ask. I’m always happy to go through storage to search for something special for you.

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It couldn’t be a lily or a taffy-daffodilly…

…It’s got to be a rose ’cause it rhymes with Mose.*

logo-collage

Holy smokes, it’s already been a week since my last post? And I promised you then that I would try to clear up some confusion over my assortment of online names. Taking a chronological trip in Ye Olde WABAC Machine… ::insert wooblie soundtrack and WavyVisionâ„¢::

Once Upon A Time, circa 1998 or ’99, I unofficially name my freelance company Ampersand Ranch. Technically, the full name is Ampersand Ranch Graphic Design and Prairie Dog Refuge. Which is a teensy bit funnier if you, like me, are living in Boulder, Colorado during the Great Prairie Dog War of the late ’90s.

It isn’t until 2006 that I officially register Tiddleywink (consciously misspelled to avoid run-ins with duplicate names, HA-HA) with the State of Colorado, to encompass both my freelance work and my first Etsy store.

Thanks to the gentle shoving encouragement of my techgeek friend Dave, I join Twitter in early 2007 (pre-SXSW). This is back when all Twitter users combined post an average of 20k tweets a day. So you see, I can have just about any username I want. And, since Twitter is purely social, I go with my now-purely-social name: AmpersandRanch. The frequent mistyping by a Twitterfriend of my username leads the change to Ampersandwich shortly after (obviously, before a Reply To shortcut becomes a feature) so Bryan should get all of the credit for that bit of portmanteau genius.

By 2009, Twitter is more business-friendly. I decide it would be a good time to switch my username to Tiddleywink to encourage my clients and customers to find me socially as well. Except that, however unlikely, someone has by this time registered my misspelled name! The account is inactive: no tweets, no followers, and following only 1 account. I send a message to the account holder, asking if she’d mind letting me have the name. I don’t hear back. I put in a request with Twitter to get the name switched over to me—they’re still small enough then that they will do this if you can prove cause—but I’m informed that there is a backlog for the service. Before my position in the queue (ticket #600496) comes up, Twitter has stopped assisting with inactive-account-name-takeovers.

Instagram comes along in 2010. It and Twitter are very good friends, sharing user lists and all, and having a common username between the two is logical. Tiddleywink is still being squatted upon at Twitter, so I open my IG account as Ampersandwich. I briefly change it to Tiddleywink but, fearing confusion between followers, I change it back.

Present Day: Instagram and Twitter are no longer friends. I rarely post to Twitter anymore, and while I have half as many followers on IG, the IG community is much more interactive. I decide it’s safe to change my IG username to Tiddleywink…only to discover it’s been taken. The account is private and the user photo appears to be a blurry, 1979ish snapshot of Prince Charles in a trenchcoat, but at least the account has posted some photos so I don’t feel as though my “rights” are being squandered.

As for ShoesAndPie and Winkorama…well, this post is already too long. See you next week! Maybe with a post about pie!

*If you don’t already have this song stuck in your head, you can watch the movie clip (a loose a-rose-by-any-other-name reference) here.

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We Interrupt Your Regular Broadcast…

About the Dot Blouse: It’s still in progress. I write posts “live” as it were, and I don’t have a week’s worth lined up and ready to go. In true sew-along style, we would be sewing the blouse together. That is, until I got the flu and then started working 7 days a week. It will still happen, but there’s a delay while I try to fit in cooking, cleaning, and breathing.

On to more banal, personal stuff. I haven’t gone there in a while.

Selfie with a brand-new (and stinky) perm.

Selfie with a brand-new (and stinky) perm.

I got a perm. It’s not the pin-curl-set look I was secretly hoping the stylist could whip up, but at least my wash-and-wear hair doesn’t pouf and frizz as much now. This photo was taken the day of, so it’s not actually as curly as shown here. And while we may have come a long way, Baby, the process still stinks. Literally. It took 4 or 5 shampoos to finally clear the chemical stench from my hair. Yech.

Working. Ya. I’m still officially unofficial over at Prestige Estate Services, although I’ve been “freelancing” for them regularly since October. I should technically be an actual employee by now, but I like the freedom of scheduling days off to focus on design clients. It’s just that I haven’t been scheduling days off, so I wind up spending every “off” day working on design. While I love design and estate sales, I’m running myself ragged. I know this and whine about it, but I still do nothing to alleviate the stress, such as taking an extra day off from Prestige or saying “no” to a client. I have as of this moment very conveniently had 4 days off in a row from both jobs (a client is late getting me her files), and while my time has been filled with much-needed housecleaning, grocery shopping, dental work, and Tiddleywink Vintage administration, it still feels quite relaxing.

My office is set up in a corner of the basement tiki bar/lounge/shop photo studio/storage area, and the office percentage has become smaller and smaller until it’s gotten flat-out claustrophobic. The Boyfriend and I didn’t whip it fully back into shape this weekend, but we made a very good dent in the chaos. Having unearthed the backstock that has never made it into the shop, I am simultaneously overwhelmed and inspired. However, I’m trying to move some of this inventory into a booth at a local “antiques” mall. Space isn’t cheap, but it may be worth it if people can personally inspect the items before committing to a purchase!

The newest addition to my vintage handbag collection: a Lucite purse by Rialto. SCORE!

The newest addition to my vintage handbag collection: a Lucite purse by Rialto. SCORE!

On a separate-but-related subject, I’ve been buying my dentist a boat. While the work I need is deeply discounted through Direct Dental Plans of America, it’s still a lot of work. After today’s session in the dentist’s chair, I decided to stop in at the thrift store next door to look around. I didn’t even bother to take a shopping cart or basket in with me. Any interesting cookbooks? No. How about lamps? No. Sewing patterns? Nothing. Bathroom department, which I usually skip entirely but it’s right next to Sewing: that’s a nice vintage tissue box cover, but let me think about HOLY CRAP IS THAT A—YES IT IS—IT’S A LUCITE PURSE. IN THE BATHROOM DEPARTMENT. I glance furtively around. Does anyone else see this? Was someone trying to hide it over here? I look at the price tag. Nope, this wasn’t hidden. Whoever priced and shelved this must think it’s a cotton ball container or something. Quick check for cracks or chips (none) and to see if the latch works (yes) and I’m off like a shot to the cashier. The hinge is so shiny I think it may be a repro and then under the light at home I see “Original Rialto NY” and I can’t tell you how much I got it for because it was such a steal that I’m a bit embarrassed. And feel not entirely unlike I’d actually stolen it. Now that Viva is fewer than 8 weeks away, I really need to get cracking with the packing. And this purse, of course, will be a part of that.

Since this purse goes into my Pry It From My Cold, Dead Hands collection, it frees up a couple of other vintage white purses for me to relinquish to the shop. So there’s that. Maybe I’ll get some fresh product photography done after tomorrow’s dentist appointment (yes, another one) and meeting with the antiques mall manager! Woo!

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Filed under day job, design, doctors and dentists, life-threatening clutter, shoes, shopping, vintage, Viva Las Vegas

Future Past, Tense

I’ve been Way Too Hella Busy To Blog for a while. Still am, really. But I feel bad for neglecting Shoes & Pie, and you, my dear readers! Rather than catch you up with one painfully long post covering an unrelated variety of subjects, I’m going to try to break it into bite-sized chunks that I’ll post as the week progresses. In no particular order (as I’m writing this as much as a reminder/outline for myself as I’m writing a Table of Contents for you), I’ll try to cover:

  • WABAC Wednesday vintage recipe: Applesauce Meatballs and Easy Rice Ring (1949)
  • Kitchen Pr0n: Yes, it’s possible that I added more stuff to the Shoes & Pie Test Kitchen
  • Vintage Food Propaganda/Ephemera (scans)
  • How To: Shop An Estate Sale (subtitle: Myths, Truths, and Don’t Be That Person)
  • Crafts ’n’ shizz. Oh man, do I have so many crafts (sewing, painting, drawing, assembling) lined up, and not enough time!

So until next time (this afternoon? tomorrow?), see ya!

EDITED TO ADD: Oh right, I should write a post about what has now been dubbed Holy Shit Pie, as in, “Holy shit, this pie is good!” Which was the actual text I received when I packed a slice in the boyfriend’s lunch one day.

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Filed under advertising, collections, day job, food, Is it safe to remove the gas masks?, kitchen, life-threatening clutter, packaging, pet peeves, sewing, shopping, vintage

(Many) Shoes and (Pumpkin) Pie

Hi, my name is Wink and I used to blog with frequency. I’ve been with the busy, however, what with this whole the-boyfriend-is-moving-in dealio, as well as filling my free time with helping a local estate liquidation company organize and price a hoarder house for an upcoming sale. Since we last met…

That there above-mentioned boyfriend* moved in. He didn’t bring a lot of Things into the household, but what he did bring was Not Small. We had his parents over for dinner last night, which forced the issue of (finally) organizing the living and dining rooms. They look pretty dang good right now, at the expense of the guest room and basement. Which currently look an awful lot like the hoarder house I’ve been working in.

The hoarder house. Whatever you’re picturing, it’s wrong. This house is in an upper-middle-class neighborhood, and was inhabited by an upper-middle-class couple. For decades, these were “normal,” rational people. And then, about 10 or so years ago, the woman cracked. In a ceaseless attempt to fill that crack, she bought stuff. Lots of stuff. Lots and lots and lots of stuff. In fact, during the last couple of years, she bought so much stuff and with such frequency that she didn’t always have the time to remove the price tags or even take items out of their shopping bags before heading out to buy more stuff. A professional organizer was hired to help deal with all the stuff, which only wound up making more room for more stuff. Which she filled. And then she died. Leaving behind a husband who had grown accustomed to living in a smaller and smaller space, and a hell of a lot of stuff. So the husband moved out and said “to hell with all of this stuff.”

I’ve been to estate sales described as hoarder homes, and I’m always disappointed (?) that they don’t look like the dark, magazine-and-newspaper addled homes that I’ve seen flash by on the news. (I hear there are a few different reality shows that focus on hoarders, but I’ve never seen one so I can’t compare.) I now know how much work goes into clearing those homes out so people can actually walk around in the space. Which seems obvious, but I never did put 2 and 2 together. For two or three weeks now, we’ve been going through this house room by room, clearing out the receipts and tissue paper and shopping bags (we filled a roll-off Dumpster) and trying our best to organize and price the remaining clothing and shoes and furniture and DVDs and artwork and cosmetics and collectible figurines and avoiding altogether the packed-to-the-rafters basement, which will have to be an entirely separate sale.

So anyway, if you live in the greater Denver area, you should really swing by this sale. We’re running the first half (pre-basement) for four days, and while the selection will be greatest on Wednesday (day 1), I can guarantee that there will still be plenty left on Saturday (day 4). Everything is in like-new (or brand-spanking-still-with-tags-new) condition. In an interesting twist, when we finally worked our way into the husband’s home office, we found that it was loaded with antique books and historical artifacts from his family. So this sale has the brand new AND the very old!

Above-mentioned pie: I’d stopped in at Dollar Tree for something or other, and was greeted at the door by a display of canned pumpkin. Canned pumpkin! For a dollar! How could I pass that up? Pumpkin pie is super easy to make, especially when using a store-bought Graham cracker crust (which I knew I had in the pantry), so I whipped one up. A week later, I made an eggnog cake for no reason other than I had some eggnog in the house. I’m crafty that way.

A few posts back, I’d mentioned that I was going to have to start meal planning now that there are two mouths to feed. I’ve been doing it, and it’s surprisingly easy so far. I understand how it might get tedious over time, but so far, so good. This week we’ll be eating a lot of recipes that call for fresh tarragon because I needed it for one recipe and you can only buy one size package which is enough for, like, four different recipes. I used it last night to make the béarnaise sauce required for Sautéed Steak, Henri IV, my very first attempt at a Julia Child recipe. It was delicious and pretty easy, if a bit fussy to plate. Tonight we’ll dine on Fluffy Cracked Wheat With Mustard And Tarragon, and tomorrow I’ll roast up some tarragon chicken.

Part of the meal planning adventure includes serving up something every Wednesday from one of my many vintage cookbooks, and we’re two for two so far. On Halloween I cooked up an Irish Stew (or, since it was Halloween after all, Slaughtered Lamb stew) in ye olde pressure cooker. Actually, I used ye olde (1954) Mirro pressure cooker cookbook, but my spiffy late-model (2011) Cuisinart pressure cooker did the work. I’ve never eaten, let alone made, a lamb stew before, and I have to admit that I am floored by how absofreakinglutely delicious it is! And because pressure cookers are magical things, I went from raw veggies in need of dicing to hot stew ladled into a bowl in just about an hour.

The following Wednesday, I turned to my copy of 641 Tested Recipes from the Sealtest Kitchens for something a little less meat-centric and more retrotastic. I had hardly flipped through the pages when I came across Peppy Cottage Cheese Peppers (“A man’s main dish”) and knew that I had the week’s winner. Green peppers, stuffed with a mixture of rice (I used brown), cottage cheese, sautéed onion, tomato sauce, a bit of Worcestershire sauce, and topped with diced bacon. Not vegetarian, but at least it wasn’t based on meat. And while the squishy pink filling in the peppers looked dubious going into the oven, this turned out to be another will-make-again recipe.

My selection for this week is something called Applesauce Meatballs (Sunset Cook Book of Favorite Recipes, 1949), and I’ll have to report back with the results at a later date. I plan to serve them up with a side of spaghetti squash seasoned with, you guessed it, fresh tarragon. If there’s still any tarragon left at that point, I’ll put it in a small bottle of vinegar to steep for future use.

And on that note: until next time, my dearest readers!

*For the first time in 12 years, someone else did my laundry yesterday. IT IS DELIGHTFUL.

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Filed under collections, day job, food, Halloween, holidays, kitchen, life-threatening clutter, reviews, romance, relationships, shoes, vintage

You May Be Right, I May Be Crazy…

Be True To Your Work, And Your Work Will Be True To You

…But it just may be a lunatic you’re looking for. —Billy Joel

A long, long time ago (the early ’90s), in a land far, far away (Brooklyn), I was a student of design. I suppose I still am a student of design, but back then I was given specific (and sometimes not-so-specific) assignments. Okay, that’s still the case too. But at that time I had full creative control as well as very few design prejudices. And so it was for a packaging assignment that I conceived of a line of aerosol home air fresheners. At a time when the available options on the supermarket shelves were this or that floral fragrance, my line was based on food aromas. Although my entire portfolio of work from that period was lost when I moved to Colorado, I still remember that the two scents I fleshed out were Roasted Coffee Bean and Warm Cherry Pie. And that as part of my idea for a boutique line of higher-end home fragrance, the predominant color of the packaging was black.

I don’t recall my overall grade for the project, but I do remember that my professor lambasted me during the classroom critique for using black on a product that had any relation whatsoever to food. Black, it seems, is not an appetizing color.

Ahem. The following case studies were all gathered via the dieline (a collection of “the world’s best packaging design”). Clicking on any image will take you to a brief article about its product and creative process.

Okay, I’ll stop here. I think you get my point. There were certainly features of my presentation that day which could have been improved upon, but I firmly defended my color scheme. The professor overruled my argument, but I’ve never once doubted my decision. We never got the chance to do a second round of drafts in school, but real life is different. If you believe in a particular feature of your design but the client says no, you may yet be on the right track. What can you do to improve your concept so that the client falls in love with your vision? After all, that’s why the client hired you, instead of The Other Guy.

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Mond…TUESDAY Rounderp!

You never call, you never write. Oh wait, that’s me. I skipped a whole week (plus) and you said nothing. Nothing at all. I will assume that this is because you are all so polite, and not because you simply didn’t notice.

The last 10 days, in summary: stuff and things, things and stuff.

Winners!

The Highlights

  1. Hey, remember my other “family” over at Reminisicin’ Racing? The last race of the season was held on Saturday, and not only did Reminiscin’ and her sister, Mile-Hi Flyer, finish first and second in the day’s races, but they finished out the season #1 and #2 in points. And there was much rejoicing!
  2. Throw another hat on the stack; I’m now working part-time for a local estate sale company. I know you’ll ask: Yes, I do get first dibs on stuff, but I pay full price and I have to be nice to every jerk who shows up on every day of the sale. There are far more nice people than jerks, but if you’ve ever been to an estate sale as a buyer, you know the people I’m talking about (arguing about prices, “secretly” switching price tags [we know], and/or flat-out rude). Also, my very first sale as an employee was in a mountain home that has been vacant for many months, meaning its corners and recesses were riddled with mouse poo. I went through a small bottle of hand sanitizer in three days. Yuck!
  3. My rack of unlisted stock for Tiddleywink is still packed as full as it can get, but I kinda sorta wound up with yet more stuff for you because my dear friend Erin of Theda Bara’s Vintage Boudoir and I just had to go shopping yesterday. I also acquired 4 more foofy wedding dresses that would fill up the whole rack on their own anyway. If any of my local readers can help me with the overwhelming task of photographing (and/or measuring) all this stuff, I pay in home-cooked food! Or maybe one of these lovely vintage coats! Help! ::buried under vintage clothing::

Coming Up

For the immediate future, my Thurs/Fri/Saturdays will be spent working at estate sales. Between the on-site hours and the travel time, those days are pretty much used up, and with fitting in design/production work on my days “off,” I won’t likely be able to post to the blog every weekday as I have been. Particularly if I ever want to list new items to Tiddleywink or Winkorama again! I’m once again running out of time to get the Christmas crafts magazines listed in enough time for you guys to actually craft from them, so it’s a priority I really need to work into my schedule. Tomorrow sounds good, right? Tomorrow it is! In the meantime, you can follow my daily “antics” visually via Instagram, where I’m @ampersandwich. If you don’t have an Instagram account, you can instead follow along at Followgram, where there’s an RSS link to make things easy.

And with that, I’m off to start putting up Halloween décor and to rummage the pantry for dinner. Until tomorrow, dear readers!

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Filed under day job, friends, Halloween, holidays, life-threatening clutter, shopping, vintage