Midcentury home plans and other lists I make: Paint & Wallpaper

I’m a “list” person. I wasn’t born organized, so I had to develop mechanisms to keep on top of everything. Lists help me remember exactly what I need to do and when, but they’re good for more than that! They’re a way to brainstorm where I want to end up, and how I can get myself there!

Since I moved into my 1963 Jack-in-the-box house last summer, I’ve been busy taking care of the obvious things: taming the back yard, sorting through my junk, and making sure the house is clean and functional. Now that most of that is out of the way, I can think seriously about what I call Phase II – The Paint & Paper Chapter.

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Vintage bridesmaid dress styles for retro weddings

Pinup Couture’s Ava dress is available in eight sizes and ten colors.

So you’re having a vintage-style wedding and you want some pretty mid century styles for your bridesmaids. If you want everyone to wear the exact same dress, it’s tricky to find a style that will fit everyone and comes in a color you like. If your choice is basic black, or red, you’ll be able to find something easily in one of the better-known pinup and retro lines. But if your wedding colors are a little more esoteric, you may have trouble.

I’ve found two popular styles that come in an array of colors that are perfect for bridesmaids: Pinup Couture’s Ava dress and the famous 1950s halter circle skirt dress by Vivien of Holloway. Both come in dressy satins, and the Vivien of Holloway halter dress comes in cottons and prints for a more casual day wedding.

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Fashion Icons: Vertigo, Edith Head, Alfred Hitchcock, and Kim Novak

Madeleine’s icy white coat, worn by Kim Novak in Vertigo. Scan from an Ebay poster auction.

Anyone who knows me knows I love me some Vertigo. It’s my favorite Hitchcock film. The mystery involved makes it an obvious choice for Halloween, but there’s more to in than that. There’s the local aspect (I’m from Northern California), the Edith Head costumes (which aren’t exclusive to this Hitchcock piece, though they are particularly wonderful in it), and Kim Novak, whom I admire greatly.

She’s not just beautiful, she’s a tremendously sensitive actress. Novak’s very raw, vulnerable portrayal of Judy resonated with me. I could relate. Plus, she looked darn hot as both a rough-edged shop girl and a sanitized stand-in for the very patrician Madeleine Elster.

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My back yard is no longer a disaster!

Back yard, pre-shed.

This was the summer of yard work! Finally, over a year after moving in, I’ve gotten my yards to a decent place.

I laid pavers in the back yard, planted oleander along the fence, installed a shed, and replanted a few favorites.

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ESO: End of Summer Outfits

My Aunt Cynthia, my mom, and me at my cousin’s graduation party. I’m wearing my Pinup Couture Jenny Dress in Harlequin print. Photo by Shelly Donald.

Northern California will probably be warm until Halloween, but Autumn officially starts in just ten days! In honor of the climactic end of Summer, some outfits I’ve worn along the way…

First, a beautiful vintage dress from the 1950s that I bought from a friend. The striking color, mid-century halter-twist neckline, atomic-era buttons down the back, and metal sequin details made me fall in love with this one.

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I <3 WTC

Early 1964: Architect Minoru Yamasaki and Gov. Nelson D. Rockefeller pose with the first “finished” configuration model of the World Trade Center.

This humble post is dedicated to Minoru Yamasaki, modern architectural master, and Guy Tozzoli, the man who directly managed the original World Trade Center project and deeply loved his Twins.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, it was a source of political contention and financial worry. In the late 1970s, it was a symbol of metropolitan glamor (it was the Emerald City in The Wiz, after all!). In the 1980s and 1990s, it stood for commercial success and tourist fascination. In the early 21st century, it became Ground Zero. And now, for most people, the World Trade Center is back to being the World Trade Center once again, proof that determination can – just as in the 60s and 70s – overcome political strife. Things may never be right in Lower Manhattan again, but things can be good.

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The WPIX Yule Log and classic Christmas music

Merry Christmas!

I’m a Christmas nut. I know it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, but I freaking love everything about the season – the lights, the food, the festive mood, and maybe most of all, the amazing holiday music. My favorite Christmas tracks are nostalgic, particularly the ones from the 1950s through the early 1970s that remind me of my early childhood. This is why I love the original WPIX Yule Log, a Christmas Eve television tradition since 1966. Originally conceived by WPIX General Manager Fred Thrower to bring old-fashioned holiday hearth experiences to New Yorkers, the “classic” WPIX playlist – like the Disneyland and Magic Kingdom Main Street Christmas loops compiled by “voice of Disneyland” Jack Wagner – brings many of my absolute favorite Christmas recordings together in a single, quirky package.

Being a West Coaster and a child of the 1980s, my first TV Yule Log experience happened care of KOFY TV-20, the legendary independent station in the San Francisco Bay Area known for its crazy dog bumpers. I remember hours of Philadelphia Brass, but I’m fairly sure the playlist was similar to the following WPIX playlist, which features everyone from Percy Faith to David Rose:

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Man on Wire

Here’s a trailer for a crazy documentary about tightrope phenomenon Philippe Petit and his successful 1974 attempt to cross the span between WTC 1 & 2 on a wire. The film is streaming on Netflix!