Friday, February 27, 2015

Hustle, pt. 6: Little Mamacita

My mom. My mom!

Baby Badger and Mom, 1970s.
Last known photo in which I am shorter than she is (heh)

She just had a birthday, and I need to praise her like I should.

My Little Mamacita--not at all an Arabic name for Mother, but my best friend once called her that and it stuck--is a huge-hearted, highly talented woman who still has showgirl legs but is too modest to show them off. Working as a team, she and my US-born father sponsored her Lebanese and Syrian family through the 70s and 80s, helping my aunts and cousins to become American citizens by turning our home into "Hotel Monier."

Because of her:
I don't know how to make a meal for 4 that won't also feed 8;
I despise the stillness of an empty house;
I teach and learn, collect and share stories;
I speak French with a decent accent (I don't know Arabic because I'm a stubborn fool);
I know that (despite the cool new names) making, repairing, and upcycling was a way of life, not a trend.

Her legacy is immense, but if I continue, I'm going to get all gooey.

If you want a funny story about her skills and tolerance and the night I wore
her homemade cape to a school dance and club with a broken arm,
listen to the whole shebang--and see the cape!--here.

As I've been crafting my way through this icy, housebound winter, I had another sweet revelation about Mom's impact on me. During my elementary school years, she frequently volunteered to repair the school library's books. I was by turns bored and fascinated by the process: paste, stick, smooth, fold, tuck, smooth, trim, smooth again. Her hand guided mine over a few sticky passes, and I asked her, "Was this your job before?" Before us, of course.

"No," she chuckled in that accent that everyone else could hear but that I could only smell like her warm skin and rose water. "But I learn what I need to know."

Sometimes, I picked up the books as she finished them, swearing to come back when they were dry to check them out.

That's how I became the only person in the history of the school to check out D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths for four years running. I bought it for my Badgerettes, too--cuts down on late book fees.

These past weeks, surrounded by old magazines and comics, I dug out a bunch of composition books I bought on clearance from Aaron Brothers back in the early 2000s and started pasting, folding, smoothing, tucking, and smoothing some more.

Since Mod Podge alone might not be the best for this project (but it will keep those coffee drips from staining!) I also bought renowned Yes! Glue and some bookbinder's PVA glue, too. Now, Littlest Sweat Shop (aka, the living room) smells just like the school library. I've been making books and book covers out of some amazing things...some of which are likely to make you ask again, "But, why?"

Boxes for actual 8mm home movies.

Bizarre vintage Wonder Woman comic covers and 1970s Boxing Illustrated ads.
Vintage 1960s Playboy covers, Vargas Girl posters, and comics makes killer covers. The Catholic girl in me is like, "Gah! I just posted a booby pic on the Internet!" But I know it'll sell!

My new favorites are 1950s teen romance comics and Sci Fi magazine covers.

Mother Knew Best. So frustratingly, delightfully, lovingly true.
The only thing missing is your hand guiding mine, Little Mamacita. I know that I'm still learning what I need from you.

Happy birthday, Mom! I love you.

Copyright 2015, Tanya Monier

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Life Stinks: 3 Ways

Way #1: It's Cold
It's damn cold. It's the kind of cold that makes a house dog cross his hind legs and do the pee-pee dance rather than go outside.
And cats? My friend Katie created this eye-witness account. Let's make it go viral, Folks!
It's the kind of cold that saps the battery of the already-untrustworthy Snowflake the Minivan so that I have to ask strangers for a jump multiple times a day. (God Bless America, I miss you so! Read about GBA's untimely death in Landfill: A Lesson In Situational Irony. It's a great story, especially if it didn't happen to you.)
It's the kind of cold that makes Californians grateful for their drought and the summer of 3-minute showers and brown lawns that awaits them.
Moreover, it's the kind of cold that makes me a bit goofy, willing to take a dare from a kid, and then take pictures of the result....
Seriously, is it the sweater?
At first, it was enough to know that I could turn myself into one of my Lebanese cousins.
...and post it on Facebook, where I found that friends think I more closely resemble another Semitic brother:
Porn legend Ron Jeremy.

And it's so cold that I'm just happy to get a few good laughs to keep the blood a totally G-rated way.

Way #2: I got food poisoning...from a banana.

"That's a new one!" you exclaim. "How do you know?"

Well, Friend, I ate a banana with a wide split in the skin, like this:
Thanks Mike Groom Photography!
I was in a rush and trying to prove to my kids that they shouldn't worry about such minor flaws in their fruit. I closed my eyes to the dirt on the actual banana, ate it, and immediately doubted the soundness of my decision, much like Queen Elinor in Brave:

oh, dear...
Within an hour, I felt like one of these two characters from the classic Mel Brooks film Spaceballs:

50/50 odds of getting it right! The answer is not on the ceiling, guys!
 Well, let's just say, "Hold on, Barf! It's gonna be a bumpy ride..."
During that day of sweaty, clutching-the-bed-with-fingers-and-toes misery, I was grateful for many things: my kind husband, On Demand kid-friendly shows, and Lifestinks Deodorant.

Way #3: Lifestinks, in a good way

Duggan Sisters: Sisters, Stories and Products to Transform Your Life
Made by these sisters, who are not paying me, but who are welcome to buy something from Etsy to say thanks!

I'm not braggin: Since I had kids, I've smelled like an actual badger, an angry one. I've tried a lot of brands, and this one kicks my armpits where the sun don't shine...cuz that's where the bacteria hang out, get it? 
So, it's a powder, but don't get tempted to put it on like drugstore after-shower powder or they'll have to identify your corpse with by your dental records. Sorry, Sisters, but that bicarbonate stuff is STRONG, even on Mediterranean skin.

So, start out slow and use next to nothing. The amount I show above, under each armpit, took me through two days of food poisoning misery without stinking...from my armpits at least.

My one complaint about the product line is that they charge a lot for a full-sized dispenser that looks exactly like the stainless steel cinnamon shaker at your local coffee house. And I don't relish the idea of daily jamming my fingers into that one-year supply bag you see in the picture (I have a feeling it's gonna last longer than that). Their travel size container is cute and reasonably priced, but you can't refill it (I've tried) which is weirdly irresponsible for such an eco-friendly brand. So, I improvised a couple alternatives.
Stinky Solution #1: Use an empty salt or pepper shaker. Mine looks just like the one my mom had on the dining table when I was a kid. I slide a Post-It inside the lid and screw it down tightly to keep from spills when I travel. Nothing worse than those unidentifiable white powder trails as you're going through security!
Stinky Solution #2: Find a small cylinder with a removable, perforated lid. I chose this old rubber repair kit. If the inside is not washable (this one is cardboard) glue a shower cap to the interior.  
Before. That rust bloom? Bah, just some extra iron in my diet...

After dripping glue around the interior, stick the shower cap to the container's sides and the bottom.
Hold it in place with a rubber band to dry. When it's dry, trim off the excess.
P.S. Yes, that is an old-school milk box behind this project.
NY's Meadowbrook Farm delivers farm-fresh milk to your door! Try it!

Add Lifestinks. Remove rubber band, and put cap back on. Use regularly, but sparingly. 

When you started reading this post, you didn't know it was going to end with a quick DIY, didja? I'm sneaky that way.

Duggan Sisters, keep doing what you do! I hope you can ignore the Ron Jeremy stuff above and enjoy an unsolicited positive review!

copyright 2015, Tanya Monier

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

All The Right Junk In All The Right Places: Apple and W Antiques

Thrift shops. "Junk" shops. Yard sales and church sales. My overcrowded basement.

All of these places light up the Hunter-Gatherer parts of my brain, give me an endorphin buzz...well, my basement less so than the others. (If you're like me, you'd get the charge from my basement. I sometimes feel guilty that the mess depresses even my Prince of the Forest).

This is an upstairs workspace, NOT the basement.
I'll leave it to you to imagine the basement.
So, when I find a store that is as crowded as my basement, only it's jammed with treasures, I've gotta share.

The place is 342 Lexington Ave, in Mount Kisco, New York. This address houses both W Antiques and Apple Antiques, which proudly sell, buy, auction, and consign some astonishing stuff. Let's take a wander through, shall we?
Sinbad pinball machine. Sold, darn it.

Just because I'm not into rococo doesn't mean I can't appreciate this bowl.

This is what happens when you let the palace dragons roll around on the grass.

Mid-century lovers, come on down!

I don't know...frostbitten toes?

Every single display is like a page from I Spy

Note the whale on the floor, Melville fans.

Everything is good and bad.

Someone gave up an extensive masks-of-the-world collection.

I swear I saw this in the design section of the Met. And I want it.

Know any fencing fans?

Stay tuned: there are religious statues everywhere in this building.

I couldn't get past these bags, but I wanted to show you
that every single aisle is packed with goodness.

Not your average sideboard.

Get all the respect of a lifelong tiny shipmaker without any of the glue fumes.

Seriously, is that a Remington?

Shiva: again, everything is good and bad.
Is that Mary with a sword? Or Joan of Arc?
Either way, reminds me of Jesuses I Have Saved From The Trash.

A few more mid-century prizes...

Nice dresser. The lamps--a rarer find.

Antique doll stroller.

I should probably object to these 4 mink coats, but they are so soft...

I think this should be Pharrell's new look.

Well, you missed out on Sinbad, but just think of what else you could find in this place!
There's a massive upstairs, too, but when I stopped by to take these pictures, it was too crowded to enter...and that's saying something. You gotta go.

W Antiques and Apple Antiques
342 Lexington Avenue
Mt. Kisco, NY 10549 
914-241-3000 (W)
914-242-5365 (Apple)  

Copyright 2015, Tanya Monier

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Littlest Sweat Shop, pt. 2

First, let me apologize to anyone who prefers my text-heavy postings. This is not one of those entries. I've been so dang busy. Too much Mod Podge, not enough sleep. I need to sell these beauties--all of which are made with original vintage print material, film, or color slides--so please consider.

You can be confident in the fact that your purchase of a Happy Badger product gets two Badgerettes closer to Trip-For-Trash #3: Ireland.

The first place you'll find me selling my wares is at Jenifer Ross' cozy W@tercooler this Friday (Feb 6) from 5-9pm. Come on by!

UPDATE: The Playboy goodies sold, you naughty people. I can and will make more! Look below to see other items that have sold, and click over to Littlest Sweat Shop, pt. 1. Need I say that I ship?

Warning: the pictures become increasingly R-rated today. If you object to vintage Playboy pictures and illustrations, please stop at Sophia Loren. If you object to kid-friendly items, you'll want to scroll rapidly past the comics....

35mm movie trailer vases with maple burl bases: the pair $92.

Inside view of film vases with maple burl bases

Side view of film vases

Antique lamps with vintage color slide shades:
$38 (small--note the hearts on the glass!), $56 large

Marvel Hero magnet set: $8. SOLD

Dr. Seuss magIhave
 have loads  moreet set: $5.

Superman cedar cigar box: $22.

Inside Superman cigar box.

Spiderman tin: $18

One side view of Spiderman tin.

Spiderman cedar cigar box: $22.

Back view of Spiderman cigar box.

Inside Spiderman cigar box.

The Snowy Day cedar cigar box: $18

The Snowy Day pencil tin: $12
Inside view of The Snowy Day box

See what I mean? Time to SELL.

Captain America "Reach for the stars" tin: $15.

Vintage Wonder Woman soap box: $15

Vintage LIFE ads cedar cigar box purse: $58
Vintage LIFE ads cedar cigar box purse (I hadn't put the handle on it yet in this pic): $45
Vintage Marvel Age cedar cigar box: $32

Back views of LIFE purse and Marvel Age box.

Mary Poppins cedar cigar box: $22

Back view of Mary Poppins. SOLD
Inside view of Mary Poppins box

Inside view of Mary SOLDPoppins box

Gotham Central Batman cedar cigar box: $22

Batman Hush cedar cigar box: $18

Inside view of Batman Hush.

"Manwatching" briefcase, all Vintage Playboy articles and ads: $145

Back view of Manwatching.

closeup of Manwatching.

Inside view of Manwatching.

Inside view of Manwatching. You need to see these ads in person.

Back view of Manwatching.

Vintage LIFE Sophia Loren wine crate: $62

Inside view of Sophia Loren vintage LIFE Wine Crate.

Not-too-naughty vintage Playboy covers and cartoons make amazing decoupage boxes and coasters....

SOLD Playboy pine box with sliding top: $78

side view of Playboy box

back view of Playboy box

Playboy box, the other side.

Playboy box: flip it over!

Inside Playboy box: "Well, it was advertised as having a loose weave."

Flip over the sliding lid for one more treat:
What Sort Of Man Reads Playboy? "A young guy whose program
for pleasure includes everything from beautiful sights to swinging."
Ok, yes, it DID say "swinging sounds," but that word
had the misfortune of being on the next line.

SOLD Cedar cigar box shrine to vintage Vargas for Playboy.

The captions to the Vargas pictures could not be cheesier....

"What sort of peace did you have in mind, Mr. Smith?"

"You've heard of body language? Well, I'm a very outspoken person."

"What I asked you was how you liked my asp, silly."

These kitschy coasters...

...are now these SOLD kitschy coasters.
"Playboy Club-Hotel to open in the East" Coaster set: $32

copyright 2015, Tanya Monier