New Old Stuff

Since we moved I have hardly bought any vintage. I have been very good and even left Pyrex behind! I am trying to operate a “one in one out” policy with any new bits. Because I like all my current stuff, I am not rushing to replace it any time soon.

However there is alway room for a few small bits of tat cute vintage pieces. Here is what I have required in the last 15 months –First up is the seven Babycham glasses which I went to a huge effort to style for this photo in the cupboard! They used to belong to my grandparents, and when my parents moved Mum gave me them to Ebay. I seem to have kept them. Oopsy.Next is this Hornsea tea storage jar. I wanted one to go with my new kitchen colour scheme. I hunted for one in the local charity shops for a while, but then I got impatient and cheated and bought one cheap on Ebay! Next are the two Staffordshire Pottery Kilncraft bowls which I found for £1.50 in an Isle of Wight charity shop. I actually left them behind, but then got the regret big time, so I sent mother back to buy them much to Rob’s dismay! He hates them! Currently being used to store eggs and for teabags and compost scraps (thats a bit of avocado skin in there in case you were wondering!)And finally this 1980’s National Dairy Council tea towel. It was 50p down the market. It has a few stains on it, but for that price it would have been rude to have left it behind!

Pyrex Stuff That Is Not Pyrex

I want to share a few Pyrex bits and bobs that I have accumulated over the years.

First up is this old American magazine advert that I bought cheap off Ebay, which I have framed (badly), and displayed in the kitchen. I love it because Pyrex really is a joy for “fixing, mixing, cooking, serving and storing!”


Please excuse the slightly blurry pic!

Next up is this tea towel, which I also bought for a couple of quid on Ebay. 
And finally, this wonderful leaflet from 1962. Its a recipe booklet/info leaflet, and is much nicer than the boiled brains and regional offal in this Pyrex booklet that I shared here!image

Up To The Table!

I have a new mid century obsession! And much like my interest in Aussie MCM, its one that requires a little bit of effort on my part to research it….

….And by effort, I mean that I need to do a bit more Googling than usual as there is no Wikipedia page on the subject that I am currently fixated with.

Anyway, my latest MCM obsession is Arkana furniture!

Anyone heard of it?

Not me, until recently anyway!

Let me explain how this all started. I was googling how much an Eero Saarinen Tulip table would cost. I have always liked the look of them and quite fancy one myself. Designed around 1955 these stylish tables and chairs are associated with the 60’s space age era and a design classic.

Eero Saarinen tulip table and chairs. Image from

Eero Saarinen tulip table and chairs. Image from

Eero Saarinen tulip table and chairs. Image from

Eero Saarinen tulip table and chairs. Image from

Obviously I cannot afford a vintage or current Tulip table made by a licensed manufacturer, so a knock off cheap and nasty, plastic, reproduction would be my only option.

But then I came across various Arkana dining tables and chairs listed on Ebay. From what I can gather, it seems that Arkana were a British manufacturer in the 1960’s and 1970’s that basically ripped off Saarinen’s Tulip designs. So there is a chance that I might be able to afford a genuine knock-off vintage piece from the era!

Image from

Arkana table and chairs. Image from

Arkana table and chairs. Image from

Arkana table and chairs. Image from

Now I don’t condone copying in any shape or form, especially when it comes to MCM design* – has anyone else noticed the amount of fugly chairs out there with Eames shells, but with different legs?  Yuck! Just no really, please stop messing with perfection!

But for some reason this furniture does not offend me. Maybe its because its British (the factory was in Falkirk, Scotland and the head office in Bath) and was designed by someone called Maurice Burke? I mean, can you get a more British and seventies and un-designer-like sounding name than Maurice Burke?!!

Or maybe its because Arkana seem to be a bit of an underdog in the history of MCM British furniture design that have been almost forgotten about?

To be honest, I think I slightly prefer the four legged look of the Arkana Tulip chairs rather than the original Saarrinen designed Tulip base. But that’s just me. And I do love both designs!

For now, this post contains all the information that I can find on the company and its pieces. I am guessing that back in the day they made relatively high end, expensive furniture. My guess was made only because not a lot of people owned their pieces (or rather, there is is not a lot of it around today) and Arkana are not as well known as other furniture manufacturers of the same era, like G Plan or Ercol.

What pieces I have found on the internet are pretty swish. They are of the era and they scream 1960’s/1970’s, but thats what I love about them. You can just imagine people sitting around them in polo necks, with huge framed glasses, interesting facial hair, eating fondue and talking rubbish drinking mass produced cheap white wine all night long. And doing the same thing back in the 70’s too! Boom boom!!!**

Image from Pinterest via

Image from Pinterest via

Also designed by Maurice Burke in the 60’s is the Mushroom table and chairs. Which I was not super keen on at first, but it has grown on me more and more. A bit like a fungi. (Sorry, I couldn’t stop myself!)

Image from

Image from

Image from Pinterest (sorry not sure of original source)

Image from Pinterest (sorry not sure of original source)

Image from

Image from

And we have the Safari or Chelsea chair.

Image from

Image from

We also have this chair designed by Geoffrey Harcourt and manufactured by Arkana in the 70’s. Not to my taste, but I can appreciate its design appeal and retro factor.

Image from

Image from

P.S I consulted my collection of MCM design books and the only mention of Maurice Burke or Arkana that I could find was a credit in a photo for the table top in a home tour on page 501 in Mid Century Modern Complete by Dominic Bradbury.

P.P.S I found a Facebook appreciation page with a grand total of 47 likes!

*I will make an exception for pretty milk glass cake stands though!

**Sorry, its far too easy to make fun of hipsters!

Mid Century Down Under

If you have read this blog before you will know that I am a huge mid century modern fan. And indeed, it seems that everybody and their dog is also a MCM fan these days!

I mean, what’s not to like with the clean lines, the elegant style and the post war optimism of the furnishings and architecture from the period? Yes please, I say! I just want to fill my house with some of that goodness, read every book I can find on the subject, ogle MCM pictures on Pinterest and hope to find some decent West German pottery priced less than £19.95 in my local charity shops (I mean come on! Seriously, how much?)

So now that MCM is a mainstream thing, its safe to say that everyone has heard of most of the American architects/designers from the period like your Eames, Bertoia and Nelson. And I think that most enthusiasts have also heard of the big European players like Jacobsen, Wegner, and the Days etc. Plus we can all tell the difference between our vintage Ercol and G Plan pieces.

…..But what about designers and architects from Australia? Can you name any of them? I couldn’t until recently!

Thanks to Instagram a whole new world of MCM goodness has been introduced to me in the last few years!

Because Australia had a booming economy in the 50’s and 60’s with the influx of new immigrants to the country and because importing furniture from America and Europe was so expensive, they designed and made their own furniture (and Pyrex!) instead!

Today I am just going to introduce a few of the designers, manufacturers and architects as I am far from an expert on the subject (or anything else really) and I still have lots to research and learn about Australian MCM. As an enthusiast its good to see that lots of bloggers and Instagrammers down under appreciate their beautiful MCM buildings and objects and want to preserve their rich heritage in todays throw away society.

Grant Featherston is probably one of the most famous names from the period. His contour series and R160 lounge chair pictured below are probably his most famous work.

Image from Click on image for link.

Image from Click on image for link.

Harry Seidler is one of Australia’s best know architects from the period. The Rose Seidler house in Sydney is a masterpiece (IMO) that I would love to visit. If only I could stomach the flying part to get to Australia that is!rose6rose4

Images from Photography by Darren Bradley.

Images from Photography by Darren Bradley.

Parker Furniture was a furniture manufacturer of rather nice teak sideboards, dining tables, dining chairs and other pieces. Check out the hashtag on Instagram!

Image from click on image for link.

Image from click on image for link.

And Some further reading for you if you want to find out more on the subject – I recommend Retro by Adrian Franklin and Iconic Australian Houses 50/60/70 by Karen McCartney.

My Aussie MCM books

My Aussie MCM books

From inside Retro some Australian designed and manufactured furniture goodness.

Inside Retro – some Australian designed and manufactured furniture.

Two Family Heirloom Vintage Cookbooks

Recently, my Mum had a clear out and gave me two of her cook books. One was her copy of the famous cookbook that every young housewife owned back in the late 1970’s/early 1980’s – The Dairy Book of Home Cookery and the second book was one that used to belong to my Nan’s sister – Good Housekeeping’s Picture Cake old books

I do feel pretty privileged to have been given these books. Mum bought her copy of the The Dairy Book of Home Cookery from the milkman back in 1979 and it has been a fond favourite of hers and used in many kitchens over the years. It takes me right back to my childhood and I really did not expect her to part with it any time soon. In fact, a few years back, I once declared on here that I would have to prise it out of her cold dead hands! – What a lovely daughter I am, eh!

The Good Housekeeping’s Picture Cake Making belonged to my Nan’s sister Aunty Sylvie who died young in her 40’s and was a keen baker. Nan, herself was not much of a cook, nor did she bake. But my Mum and I have both inherited Aunty Sylvie’s love of baking, and so the book has now been passed onto me. My sister, bless her heart, has not inherited the baking gene. She loves cake, but she just cannot be bothered to make any. Fair enough, she has Mum and I on hand to make birthday cakes and treats for her and the nephews! Its an arrangement that keeps everyone happy and fed in cake.

My copy of the Good Housekeeping’s Picture Cake Making was published in 1952 and has lost its cover a long time ago. At some point it was covered with plastic book wrap and has a few mould spots inside, so is not in the best condition. It also has clipping from 80’s Family Circle mags and some handwritten recipes from our former elderly neighbour Marjorie all tucked inside for safe keeping by my Mum, and I love it for this! Its a little piece of family history that I will treasure for many years to come.

It has colour photos inside and (my favourite bit) some vintage advertisements. Even a Pyrex one! On the downside, it also has some shocking politically incorrect cakes. Lets just say that I never knew that cakes could be so offensive and racist until I read this book. Things like that are best left in the past.good housekeeping bookcakes!mixerfancy cakesequipmentequipment 2equipment 3equipment 4tala adbefore cometold adold ad 2Its funny, because a few months before Mum gave me her copy of The Dairy Book of Home Cookery, I actually found one in mint condition in a charity shop for £1.50! You can tell which one is which in the photo below!twins!I politely declined her gift, explaining that I already had a copy and that she could keep hold of it if she needed to. But she insisted I take it as she was determined to declutter (no, she has not read this book either). I thought about ebaying the charity shop find, but in the end I decided to hold onto both copies. Mums for sentimental purposes and the other copy for back up sentimental purposes (i.e if Mums falls apart in the future, I can still think of her flicking through the back up book!)

In the last decade or so Mum has used her book less and less, as I guess, she finally learnt to cook from it (Im joking Mum!) It is a bit dated now and tastes and cooking habits have changed a lot as its all about the cream, eggs and offal this book rather than current foodie favourites like quinoa, chia seeds and kale. But some classics never date – like the well used recipe for scones inside this book. See below!sconesThat reminds me, I must scan the recipe for her. She thought she had memorised it, but the other day asked me to “write down the scone recipe from my milkman book” for her! You just can’t beat a nice homemade fruit scone, eh!

The Ever Evolving Shelves Of Kitschen Glory #3

I have lots of blog posts planned to publish. I just need to actually write them first!

For the next few weeks my blog will be a bit higgledy piggledy, as I publish whatever is on my mind and floating my boat. There will be no schedule (is there ever on my blog?) and no connection from one post to the other. One minute I will be talking vintage, the next cycling, the next personal, and then there might even be another room tour!

Yes, we are in the middle of decorating right now. After a bit of a hiatus, we* are tackling the hallway and landing. We have ordered some new flooring which is being fitted next month and Rob is sanding up a storm preparing all the woodwork on the skirting boards, doorframes and stair bannisters ready for glossing. So things are a little chaotic and dusty right now, but it will all be worth it in the end!

I guess if you have followed my blog for a while, you probably won’t notice any difference! After all I have never really had any consistency on here, lets be honest!

And now, true to form, its time to talk Pyrex!

After acquiring my latest cinderella bowls, I had to have a little reshuffle in the kitchen. Here is a photo of how things look right now –shelves 3

I think this is the happiest I have ever been with the arrangement on my kitchen shelves!

For the previous shelves of kitschen glory posts see part 2 here and part 1 here.

*By we, I mean Rob, of course. As always!

Take a Chance On Me

Some new vintage glass has entered my life recently, and for once its not Pyrex!

The stars aligned when I spotted this Chance handkerchief vase in the window of a local charity shop. It was just a shame that the shop was shut at the time! So I sent my Mother in to buy it on my behalf the next day, who, predictably, could not understand what I saw in it and why I would want such a cheap, ugly nik-nak in my house!

Thats her words, not mine! I muttered something to her about these things go for around £15 on Ebay. But of course I have no intention of selling it! hanky 1

Its hard to explain the appeal of these strange little vintage vases. After all they are not the most practical of items, being a bit of a dust trap, easy to break and no good for actually displaying flowers in like vases are meant to do. For me the appeal is in the kitschy patterns, the bold primary colours and, dare I admit it, the fact that most people think that they are ugly, old fashioned and tacky! They remind me of my favourite era the 50’s and 60’s, and of my grandparents, which is always a good thing in my book.

I was also chuffed to find one of these in my favourite colour yellow! I planned to display it in the dining room, as the predominant colour in this room is yellow, but for some reason it just didn’t look right on my sideboard. I think it was because it was displayed a bit too low. Handkerchief vases need to be displayed at eye level if you ask me, so that all their curves can be appreciated. So, for now it lives on the top of my book case in the bedroom, next to a half dead plant, as shown below.hanky 2Not that I need another collection in my life, but I would love to have a shelf of these on display somewhere in my house. For the mean time I will just satisfy my greedy, hoarding urges by just sharing a few photos of my favourite patterns and colours on my blog and looking at this guys Pinterest board!

Image from

Image from

image from

image from

Image from via Pinterest.

Image from via Pinterest.

Not the best quality image I know, but don't they look great together? From via google images.

Not the best quality image I know, but don’t they look great together? From via google images.

I Might Have a Problem…

I need to join a support group for Pyrex lovers, something like Pyrex Hoarders Anonymous if such a thing exists.

I need to stand up in front of the group and announce to them that “my name is Helen and I have a Cinderella problem” and then the group would immediately know that its not a Disney princess issue that I have, but a colourful, patterned, vintage glass mixing bowl with pourers on the sides problem and sympathise with me!

I currently have ten Cinderella mixing bowls. Yes, thats right, ten.

Question – How many cakes do I bake? Answer – Not that many, as we are trying to cut back on sugary treats.

Question – How many fruit bowls do I need? Answer – Only one, as there are just two of us in our household.

Question – How many mixing bowls do you own again Helen? Answer – Ten.

Oh, the shame….Still, at least I can write a blog post about them!

I have the complete set of pink Gooseberry mixing pyrex 1
This Morning Star bowl. (My current fruit bowl)mix it up
These two white and yellow Gooseberry bowls.yellow mixing bowls
My personal favourite, this turquoise Gooseberry one.aqua bowl
And these two Toledo bowls, which aren’t in the best condition, so they are my everyday cooking bowls. Although I do use all of them, honestly – just not all at the same time, as I do not run a bakery from my kitchen!toledo bowls

Apparently because I might have too much Pyrex, it totally justifies Rob owning four bikes!?! My answer back is that all of my Pyrex together cost less than the equivalent of one wheel or a pedal or something on one of his expensive bikes.

And at least I can sneak my guilty indulges into the house easier, I suppose!

At Last, A Complete Set Of Pyrex!

I find the simplest type of blog posts like “here’s some new to me Pyrex, now look at the pretty pictures” are the hardest for me to write. I find it much easier to ramble on about random crap incoherently (as demonstrated in my previous post), than edit myself, keeping things short and sweet and to the point! Plus I am really lazy about taking photos for my blog. I had hoped that blogging would make me enjoy photography again, but alas, I will always be a point and shoot and hope for the best type of picture taker. See below!pink pyrex 1

But look at my lovely new Pyrex haul! Kindly bought for me by my Mum while the parents and I were out for the day playing dumb tourists (literally) on Tuesday at Hampton Court.

I found them in an antique shop (does that count as in the wild?), and my heart skipped a beat! They were all individually priced – the smallest white bowl (is it a 1 pint size?) was £3, the pink next size up (2 pint?) was £5, then the second largest white bowl (3 pint?) was £9.50 and the largest pink bowl (4 pint?) was priced £ pyrex 2

I only had about £3 quid in my purse, and I could only stretch to buying the two smallest bowls by paying on my card  as it was the wrong side of payday. Mum offered to buy them for me, then we had a bit of a back and forth argument about which bowls to buy, as she offered to buy me a larger size or two, while I buy the cheaper ones, as it was a shame to split the set, and I argued that I did not want her spending more money on me etc. Once we totalled up the complete price of the set £31 (which took an embarrassingly long time, as maths is not our strong point!) we decided to ask the lady in the shop if she could do a deal. At first she said she would knock 10% off, then after she add up the total price of the full set she then said she would sell them for £ pyrex 3

So my Mum very generously bought me the set as my birthday present! I was over the moon and humbled by her kindness. The parents on the other hand could not understand what I see in them and when I text them in the evening to say thank you again for a lovely day out and my present she texted me back saying “Thats ok Dad said. You can have something else than those old dishes!! X” (I have quoted her word for word, as my Mums texts always make me laugh as is not the best at using her mobile!) Some people just do not appreciate good vintage when they see it, eh!

I know that £25 is not the cheapest, but it works out at £6.25 per bowl, which is about the average price for a Kent charity shop find. However, it is a much cheaper price for a full set than on Ebay and Etsy, which is good enough for me! Thanks again Mum!

Sidenote – I also need to invest in some cheap round tupperware containers to display these bad boys with. I was using one of a set from Ikea for my display on the ever evolving kitschen shelves of glory. I just could not find the rest of them. I know that one is currently in the freezer with half a can of coconut milk in it, who knows where the rest have gone? I had to balance my bowls precariously on some mini jam jars for their photo shoot!pink pyrex 4