Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Long Time No See

Long Time, No See

The other day, while day dreaming about what I wanted to do this summer, it occurred to me that I haven't updated this blog in awhile. I have now come to realize I have not updated this blog in a YEAR. What have I been doing for an entire year that would cause me to completely forget about updating my blog?

For starters, we added a new addition to our family, a baby girl born last November. There's nothing like a pregnancy and a newborn to put a damper on one's blogging schedule. 

Around the same time our baby was born, our beloved dog was diagnosed with bone cancer, again. His illness was long and hard on everyone and he eventually succumbed to it on May 17th. Losing him has been hard on our entire family, but it was particularly devastating to me as he's been my constant companion for the past decade.   

As I work through my grief I'm focusing on the positive and looking ahead to all the changes about to happen in my life. My daughter is 6 months old now and become more independent every day, leaving me more time to focus on my work. 

Speaking of work, starting in June I will have a new agent joining me in a partnership. Retro Realty will still serve all your Mid Century housing needs in and around the Seattle area, but we will also be servicing anyone who prefers newer construction!

I will also continue to write posts on new recipes to try, home maintenance tips, and local activities for you and your family. 

I appreciate everyone who has stuck with me through this extended hiatus and look forward to moving this blog along with all of you!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning Retro Style!

Now that spring has FINALLY arrived in the Pacific Northwest, you may get the urge to throw open all your windows and clean your home until it's as fresh as that cool spring breeze. 

We all (hopefully) know how to clean, but a lot of people ask me specifically about the cleaning habits of 1950's housewives. So, since I love making you guys happy, I have compiled an easy to follow 50's housewife cleaning schedule, complete with their tips and tricks, that anyone can follow. I've also included a downloadable and printable cleaning schedule at the end, enjoy!

  • Wake up in a good mood (seriously) before everyone else
  • Freshen up 
  • Begin breakfast for family
  • Wash the breakfast dishes while kids get dressed and make their beds
  • Prepare yourself for the day
  • Move from bedroom to bedroom, make un-made beds, place dirty clothes in hampers, dust, open drapes and windows
  • Carry a basket with you to carry stray items and bring them back to their proper place
  • Wipe down bathroom sink, faucet and mirror
  • Dust and straighten the living room
  • Take out the trash
  • Head out to do any errands or grocery shopping
  • Return home and put groceries away
  • Start preparing dessert for that evening
  • Have some lunch! Then wash those dishes
  • Sweep and mop the kitchen floor
  • While floors are drying, sweep or vacuum the rest of the house
  • Perform "big chore" for the day
  • When kids get home have them do their chores
  • Start preparing dinner, write down anything you're running low on
  • Set the table
  • Finish up dinner and place on table
  • Freshen up for husband
  • Wash dinner dishes
  • Make next day lunches for kids and husband
  • Wipe down counters, rinse dish rags and hang to dry
  • Help kids with homework
  • Send kids to bathe and get ready for bed while you lay out their clothes for the next day
  • Put kids in bed
  • Spend some relaxing time with husband
  • Bed time!
Each day will have a scheduled big chore that gets done once or twice a week. Big chores include deep cleaning appliances, doing laundry, washing windows, scrubbing bathtubs, etc. Some women would deep clean one room a day, which means removing everything from shelves and drawers to scrub them down, scrubbing under furniture, cleaning out closets, you get the picture. 

Are you exhausted just thinking about this? Well don't worry, the housewives of the 50's have some tips to make it all go a bit more smoothly.
1. Enlist Help. You're not the only one living in your home and there's no reason for your children to be lounging around while you slave away. Choose age appropriate chores for your kids and have the older ones help the younger ones. Chores teach children responsibility, teamwork, and the importance of the family unit. 
2. Husband Can Help Too. This may come as a surprise, but husbands of the 50's helped out as well, usually by stopping by the market on the way home from work. Give him a list of staples that he will get once a week, the list never changes. Then you will only need to pick up the random item while running errands. 

    3.Make Beds the Time Saving Way. Apparently in the 50's there were "time-study engineers" who devised a much quicker way to make a bed. You completely make the top left corner of the bed from bottom sheet to pillow and comforter. Throw loose portions of bedding across bed. Continue to left bottom corner and do the same, repeating with each corner. This ensures you only have go around the bed once. 
    4.Choose Your Arsenal Wisely. Use no-rinse cleaners to speed things up. Invest in the proper products, such as a Venetian blinds brush, go get jobs done fast.

    5.Dress to Impress. Wear an apron and cotton gloves to avoid ruining your clothes and drying out your hands. 

    6.Divide and Conquer. Keep dark and light laundry in separate hampers, or place a divider in a single hamper, to cut down on sorting time on laundry day.

    Additional Tips
    • work your schedule around your family's needs
    • plan a week's meals in advance so you're always prepared
    • set the breakfast table the night before
    • make more side dishes than you need so you can have leftovers the next night
    • make double quantities of pie and cookie dough, freeze half
    • use a cart to bring all the dishes and food to the table at once
    • wrap baking sheets in tinfoil so you don't have to wash them after use
    • do any chores you can sitting down to preserve energy
    Here is a printable cleaning schedule that you can customize by writing in the times you'd like to perform each task, as well which big chores you'd like to do and which chores your kids will do. Enjoy!

    Happy Cleaning! 

    Tuesday, April 25, 2017

    Spring Maintenance

    Spring Maintenance For Your Home

    Spring is finally here in Seattle! While everything outside is popping up fresh and new, your home may still be bearing the wear and tear of winter's havoc. Here's a simple spring home maintenance check list you can follow to ensure your home is as ready for spring as you are.

    Indoor Maintenance

    Let's be honest, spring in the Pacific Northwest is wet. So as much as we'd like to be outside right now, we'll be spending more a couple rainy days inside. This indoor checklist will keep you busy and make the time fly by!

    • Clean and maintain your furnace, it's been working hard for months
    • Clean and maintain your air conditioner to prepare it for the warm months ahead
    • De-clutter by storing away your winter clothes and blankets

    • Check your window seals for leaks and condensation 
    • Wash cushion covers and drapes
    • Steam clean upholstery 
    • Change air or HEPA filters
    • Check your basement for dampness and condensation or leaks around pipes

    If you find any dampness or leaks around your home it's a good idea to call in a professional before any substantial damage or mold growth occurs.  

    Outdoor Maintenance

    Take advantage of those sunny days by working on your home and sucking up as much vitamin D as you can! We all need it after our gloomy PNW winters.
    • Check your roof for damage, loose shingles, and moss growth (you can do it from the ground with binoculars)
    • Check your chimney for cracks, loose bricks and damaged flashing
    • Clean out your gutters
    • Inspect the house foundation for cracks or damage
    • Trim shrubs and pull weeds from garden beds
    • Look for loose boards on patios, decks, and stairs
    • Inspect siding for damage and maybe give it a new paint job!

    PNW winters can be rough on our homes and minor damages can turn into major issues if left untreated. Remember, your home is an investment, it's important to keep it in the best shape possible. 

    Home repairs can be pricey, especially when you need to call in the pros, but the longer damage is ignored the more expensive it becomes to fix it. 

    YouTube is full of great DIY videos for minor household repairs, and doing it yourself can save you a bundle. 

    Not all of us are comfortable doing repairs ourselves, if that's you don't be afraid to ask friends and family for help. A lot of people will be more than happy to offer their skills and expertise for a home cooked dinner or a case of beer. Never hurts to ask!

    Wednesday, April 19, 2017

    Issaquah Garden Club Plant Sale

    Issaquah Garden Club Annual Plant Sale 2017

    It seems like spring is taking forever to make an appearance this year. I know this is typical of the PNW, but personally, I'm over these cold, dreary days. Unfortunately we have no control over the weather, but we can put ourselves in more of a "springy" mood by participating in some spring time activities. 

    One of my favorite spring activities is reviving my garden with new and colorful plants, and for me that starts with the Issaquah Garden Club annual plant sale. 

    The Issaquah Garden Club was founded in 1928, making it one of the oldest in the state of Washington. The club is a Not-For-Profit volunteer run organization made up of some amazing ladies who are all incredibly active in the community. 

    Some of the activities they're involved in include:

    Amateur Horticulture & Floral Designs – encourage members in the study and practice of horticulture and design.

    Civic Development – make permanent improvements for public benefit, e.g., landscape public buildings.
    Conservation – assist in projects to conserve Natural Resources (watershed, erosion control, re-forestation, wildlife, nature study, birds, butterflies, pollution, trees, etc.).
    Conservation Teachers Scholarships – provide scholarships for teachers interested in advanced training in environmental fields; administered by the WSFGC with the assistance of the US Forest Service and the Association for Environmental & Outdoor Education.
    Education – provide workshops/programs on horticulture, flower arranging, conservation, landscaping, etc.
    Environmental Awareness – encourage clean air, water and land through proper use and disposal of toxic products, landscaping for air purification and noise control.
    Garden Therapy – Active: garden related activities with handicapped and/or institutionalized individuals; and Sedentary: centerpieces, etc. made for such groups.
    Litter, Reclamation & Recycling – promote recycling of home and yard waste; and prevention and control of litter.
    Operation Wildflower – work with Bellevue Botanical Garden to maintain its wildflower/native plants garden.
    Scholarships – provide scholarships for young people planning to become horticulturists, landscape designers, forest rangers, botanists, etc.
    World Gardening – club may contribute to CARE, Heifer Project International (HP) or Plant a Row for the Hungry.
    Not only are these ladies doing amazing things for their communities, they have an amazing knowledge of all things gardening and if you have the opportunity to pick their brains I suggest you do!
    Lucky for all of you, that opportunity is coming up. The garden clubs annual Plant/Garage/Bake Sale will be held on 
    Friday, April 28th 2017 and Saturday, April 29th 2017 from 10am to 2pm and will be held at 16023 252nd Ave SE, Issaquah WA.
    Not only will you be able to find some rare plants at amazing prices (including Mother's Day baskets) but you'll also find some amazing antiques and unique garden pots and decorations, many of which are handmade. 
    Did I mention the prices are amazing?
    So come out and support these amazing ladies and help out your community. Oh, and don't forget to stop by the bake sale area (run by yours truly this year) to pick up a homemade treat!
    For more info please visit www.issaquahgardenclub.com or visit them on Facebook
    I hope to see you there! 

    Wednesday, April 12, 2017

    Mid Century Makeover

    Heather's Mid Century Makeover

    Recently I had the pleasure of meeting lovely Heather Cartland. Heather is my favorite type of person, the type of person who renovates their home back to its original glory! 

    Anyone can take an old house and make it modern, but taking a house back in time takes a lot more dedication and time. Lucky for us, Heather has graciously shared her home renovation story, along with some really great pictures. I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I did!

    Welcome to my home!

    In June of 2013, I bought this tiny 1964 ranch in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. In 1963, a man named Kenneth Jackson began building this home for him and his wife as a retirement home. The building was completed in 1964, and Kenneth and Victoria Jackson used the house as a summer home up until they retired. Unfortunately, in 1972, Kenneth passed away, and did not get to enjoy the home for as long as the rest of his family: his wife, and three children: Myrna, Kenneth and Joyce. Victoria lived in this house until her death in 2012 at the age of 97!

    In February of 2013, I saw this quaint home freshly listed on the market, and since her “kids” were now in their 60s and 70s and mostly relocated to Colorado (Joyce had passed away shortly after Victoria), they were anxious to sell it at a very reasonable price! I took one stroll through with my realtor and made an offer within 15 minutes. I saw mid-century decorating written all over it! And since I was single at the time, the 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom little ranch was just perfect for me and my little dogs. The “kids” as I still call them, were very happy that I bought their parents’ house and I offered (with sensitivity, of course) to take anything off their hands that they did not want to have to deal with disposing of. They told me to put my name on anything I wanted and they’d be happy to leave it for me when they came to clean out the house before closing.

    We closed on June 18, 2013, and I did not get to meet the kids as they sent their attorney in their stead. I was disappointed, but asked the attorney for their address so I could send a note along now and then. He gave it to me and a wonderful relationship soon began. Ken and I text frequently, especially during football season…he’s still a Packer fan! And Myrna and I chat by phone, and we print photos and mail them to each other as she does not text or Facebook. Here is my favorite photo she gave me (Myrna’s wedding day):

    Here are the realtor photos from the house listing (the before pictures):

    This is the Master bedroom and the furniture I still use today!
    These are two separate angles of the breezeway

    From June through October, I worked hard on scrubbing, painting, landscaping etc. so I could have everyone over to show them my new house. Updates included painting all ceilings and walls in every room of the house, using Sherwin-Williams paint in Sand Dollar (guest room), Afternoon (kitchen cabinets), and Full Moon (harvest gold color) everywhere else for continuity in my small space. Wall to wall carpeting was removed from the entire house. Cork floor tiles were professionally installed in the living room and hallway, original VCT tiles exposed in both bedrooms. Kitchen cabinet wood was polished and cabinet door fronts painted in the vibrant yellow-orange color. A new refrigerator was added from the GE Artistry series. The old plastic bathroom tiles in the shower were replaced with a vintage inspired design of my own, using black white and golden wall tiles.

    The breezeway has taken on a few different looks. Originally, I had used it as a craft room (pictured first), but then the carpet was eventually removed to expose the original linoleum beneath as it was renovated into a sitting room. Now, it is back to a craft room again! I should mention, my boyfriend, Lance, built a custom craft/sewing table for me to go in my craft room, and on Valentine’s Day of this year, he proposed to me while I was sitting at it!! My tiny house is full of love once again with both of us happily living here with our fur and fin family, Risi, Ming, Viv, Fish! and Pinchy!

    OK, back to 2013…After 4 months of repairing, cleaning, panting, landscaping and replacing floors, I added my own retro touch with some funky furniture, retro linens and minimal decorating. I found some vintage open house invitations online, and on October 20, 2013, old friends, new friends, realtors and co-workers came to see my retro renovations and wish me luck in my new home!

    Pictures from my open house (the after photos):

    The buffet with my poster board of the before pictures and facts about the house
    Check out the pineapple appetizer caddy!
    New neighbors from down the street

     After living in the house for 2 years, and having developed a wonderful new friendship, the “kids” decided to come back to their old stomping grounds for a visit. And my house was first on the list! I was so excited to meet them and for them to see everything I had done and hoped that they would like it. When they arrived, it was like we were instant family. Myrna and her son Darrin came, and so did Ken and his son, Scott. We met for dinner on a Monday night, and then I took off work the next day to spend with them at “our house”. When they arrived, my three little dogs rushed out to greet them as they do everyone, but I had no idea that that would be so meaningful to them. You see, their mom ALWAYS had a little dog her entire life, and all little dogs do the same thing….run out to greet the “kids”. Once they came inside, they wanted to see everything! They were so touched by everything they saw. They saw their mom’s ironing board in my sewing room, her hamper in my bedroom, her 2 bedroom sets with fresh life breathed into them, and the entire house dressed in retro 1960s style. They loved it, as evidenced in the things they wrote in my guest book. They said it was just like they remembered it when their father first completed it back in the 60s. They have told me for almost 4 years now how glad they are that I was the one that bought the house and they can’t imagine anyone else ever living here. I fixed them brunch out on the back porch, which was their mom’s favorite place to sit and watch the birds. We took a walk through the state park that surrounds the house, just as they always had with their mom, and we walked down to the lake with all three of my dogs. It was a wonderful, indescribable day. After lots of hugs and pictures, they journeyed on to Illinois, where they grew up. A day I’ll never forget!

    Brunch with the "kids" on the beloved porch

    On our way to the park! [from left] Myrna with Risi, Scott with Viv, Darrin and Ken with Ming.


    Do you have a Mid Century makeover story you would like to to share? Send me an email or leave me a comment below!

    Sunday, February 26, 2017

    Coffee and Spice Cookie

    Retro Recipes

    Frosted Coffee and Spice Cookies

    I usually make some sort of dessert on the weekends and this weekend my husband wanted cookies, but not just any cookies, he wanted something new. I let him look through my 1950's Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book and he chose Coffee and Spice drop cookies.

    I've never considered putting coffee and spice together, but the recipe seemed easy enough so I figured I'd give it a go!



    • 1 cup soft shortening (or margarine)
    • 2 cups brown sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/2 cup cold coffee
    • 3 1/2 cups sifted all purpose flour
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 tsp nutmeg
    • 1 tsp salt (omit if using margarine) 
    • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
    • 2 tsp vanilla
    • 1 Tbs milk
    • cinnamon for sprinkling 

    Mix together thoroughly the shortening or margarine, brown sugar and eggs. 

    Stir in the coffee.

    Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt if you used shortening, remember to leave out the salt if you used margarine!

    Mix it all together until just combined (don't over mix!) Place it in the fridge to chill for at least an hour. 

    Preheat your oven to 400F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. 

    These claim to be drop cookies but they didn't seem to work that way. Instead, I rolled 1 Tbs sized balls and flattened them slightly on the prepared cookie sheets. They're going to puff up!

    Bake 8 - 10 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack. 

    While they're cooling you can prepare the frosting. Sift the powdered sugar into a bowl. Add the vanilla and the milk and beat until it comes together. I made my frosting quite thick, using very little milk. If you'd like a thinner glaze just add tiny amounts of milk at a time until you get the desired consistency. 

    Once the cookies are cooled, spread the frosting on thick, sprinkle with cinnamon and enjoy!


    Tuesday, February 14, 2017

    Retro Valentine's Day Cake

    Retro Coconut and Cherry Valentine Cake

    It seems Valentine's Day gets a bit of a bad rap nowadays, no one wants to spend money on unnecessary gifts that will be forgotten, or flowers that will die, just to show someone you care. I get that, after all, shouldn't we be showing our affection on a daily basis? Of course we should. 

    That doesn't mean we can't use this day as an excuse to bake an amazing cake.

    Because what says "I love you" better than a big heart-shaped cake covered in pink coconut? 

    Nothing, that's what. 


        2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour                                 1/4 cup marschino cherry syrup
        1 1/3 cups sugar                                                 16 maraschine cherries, cut in eighths
        3 tsp baking soda                                               1/2 cup milk
       1/2 cup margarine                                              4 egg whites
       1/2 cup chopped walnuts                                    1 packaged shredded coconut


    Make sure all your ingredients are room temperature before you begin!

    Heat your oven to 350F. Prepare two heart shaped pans, or two 9" inch rounds, by lining them with parchment paper. There's no need to grease the pans. 

    Sift flour, sugar and baking powder together in a large bowl. 

    Add margarine, cherry syrup, cherries and to the flour and blend by hand, then beat for 2 minutes.

    Add the egg whites and beat for another 2 minutes.

    Fold in the nuts. Divide batter into two prepared pans. 

    Bake for 25 - 30 minutes.

    Once cooled, run a knife around the edge of the cakes and flip them out onto a cake platter. Peel off the parchment paper. 

    Once completely cooled, frost between layers and sides of  cake with white frosting. 

    Frosting Ingredients

                 3/4 cup softened butter                                       4 cups confectioners sugar
                 3 Tbs milk or cream                                            1 1/2 tsp vanilla

    Beat all ingredients together until thick and creamy. Coat entire cake. 

    To tint coconut pink: Place shredded coconut in a jar, add a few drops of red food coloring, cover and shake well until it's a uniform color. 

    Place wax or parchment paper around the outside of the cake. Decorate sides and top of cake with pink coconut, catching the excess with the paper. 

    Remove the paper and use a heart shaped cookie cutter to fashion the coconut heart on the top of the cake.

    A perfect Mid Century cake for Valentine's Day, or any day!