106 Years Later, Dudley Sends a Message: A Preview of Things to Come

A letter postmarked 104 years ago to the very day!
A letter postmarked 106 years ago to the very day!

How mysteriously wonderful is this dear readers? Ms. Jeannie has been running around so crazy this week she barely has had a moment to breathe let alone time to stop and smell the roses.  Thank goodness she took care of that last week! But then, just when she thought she was going to spin herself silly, Dudley stepped into her life like a little angel with a message. Dudley, is Florence’s brother, as in Miss Florence Taylor of New Berlin, NC.  Ms. Jeannie became reacquainted with the two siblings when she discovered this old letter tucked away in an even older box that she had not looked through in quite a few years.

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The correspondence is  a typical brother/sister conversation… not much new here…sorry I haven’t written… the weather is fine…looking forward to coming home for a break…send my love to everyone…etc, etc, etc. But what struck Ms. Jeannie as most exceptional about this letter was not the contents, dear readers, but the date! Postmarked exactly 106 years ago today – October 19th, 1908! Imagine that! That’s Dudley’s message to Ms. Jeannie – to take time for a break so that you can see the details in life instead of just pushing past with productivity.

Thank you Dudley!

So in the spirit of Ms. Jeannie’s wise pen-pal, she is taking a moment to stop and share some lovely new treasures with you that will soon be added to the shop. It’s like a little preview show dedicated to details! If anything catches your heart, leave a message in the comments section and Ms. Jeannie will be happy to reserve the item in your name.

Vintage 1930's First Edition book - Lady - This is Love - $25.00
Vintage 1930’s First Edition book – Lady – This is Love – $25.00

A rare first edition book published in 1930 looks at the humorous side of love from feminist author Irene Bueno de Mesquita. Great cover typography makes this a wonderful coffee table book or eye-catching wall art if you are so inclined to frame it. Interesting details include handwritten notes from a previous owner who has her own attitude on love…

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A beautiful 9.5″ inch x 13.5″ inch vintage framed botanical print in all its elegant shades of beige, black, lavender and green comes to the vintage home decor section of the shop. Botanical prints are one of the prettiest ways to showcase your love of flowers.  Especially in winter when it becomes difficult to remember what the summer landscape looked like buried under all that snow. This print works well in all seasons because it contains both light and dark colors and a natural, aged vignette which helps add a layer of warmth and dimension.

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It is as pretty on one side as it is handsome on the other. A whole completely different story is written in the compromised papering of the back…

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Call Ms. Jeannie crazy but she finds a lot of beauty in the backsides of antique art. Their subtle color shades, the thin delicate wire hangings, the marks of time and place…

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It’s dramatic and different while being subtle and soothing at the same time! Sometimes it’s just nice to let your imagination create its own picture.

And speaking of pictures, three new vintage photographs are coming! Each of them contain fun and whimsical details about life lived long ago…

Little Carola on haystack circa 1957. $6.00 Love her shoes!
Little Carola on haystack circa 1957. $6.00
Love her shoes!

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Men at Work - $9.00. Love the slight smile on foreground face. It's not all serious in this office!
Men at Work – $9.00. Love the slight smile on the foreground face. It’s not all serious in this office!

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The Road Trip - circa 1950's. Love the head scarves and the school sweater!
The Road Trip – $8.00  Love the head scarves and the school sweater! Circa 1950’s.

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Of course Ms. Jeannie will be telling some stories surrounding this trio of scenes as she likes to do with all the old photographs in her shop.

If you follow Ms. Jeannie on Twitter or on Facebook (which she just joined!) then you will receive a message when all of these above items have been listed in her shop. Look for these and more fun treasures coming soon! Hope you are having just as much fun during your weekend as these ladies above had during their road trip!

Culinary Traditions Old & New

Oh what a flurry of activity! Happy post-Thanksgiving Day dear readers! Ms. Jeannie hopes that your holiday was marvelous and delicious!

Thanksgiving Dinner 2013
Thanksgiving Dinner 2013

One of the things, Ms. Jeannie was most excited about this Thanksgiving was serving dinner on her grandmother’s 1930’s wedding china, which recently arrived via mail a few weeks ago from Ms. Jeannie’s mom.  The dishes contain the prettiest color combination: gold, cream, yellow, spring green, pale pink magenta, grey and coral. And to Ms. Jeannie’s surprise, naturally picked up all the colors in her Thanksgiving dinner!

This is what was on the menu at Ms. Jeannie’s:

  • Smoked Turkey
  • Sauted Brussel Sprouts with Chestnuts and Bacon
  • Orange Glazed Carrot Ribbons
  • Sweet Potato Souffle
  • Cornbread Casserole (which was a lovely gift from a friend)
  • Breadcrumb Stuffing (a traditional family recipe)
  • Homemade Sweet Rolls (thank you Betty Crocker 1953 cookbook!)
  • Gravy
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Pumpkin Pie

Because it was such a busy month, Ms. Jeannie declined some holiday invitations and swept away notions of holiday house guests, instead just opting for a romantic holiday week for two. It was delightful! One low-key day fed in another. The feeling of “holiday” was present around every corner.

The festivities began on Monday with a trip to the market for all the necessary Thanksgiving ingredients. On Tuesday, it was cold and rainy – luckily that was the day Ms. Jeannie was slated to be a guest blogger on the Vintage Etsy Society blog where she was tasked with writing about a vintage recipe. She chose Cheese Souffle from her 1961 YWCA Cookbook which was compiled and printed in Bangkok and is written half in English and half in Thai.

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On Wednesday, the Jeannie’s braved the 32 degree weather and 30 mph winds to hang Christmas lights outside. It reminded Ms. Jeannie a lot of wintertimes spent in New York when the winds pass through you and make your skin all prickly like ice underneath your clothes. Brrr…

Decorations for Christmas went up on the coldest day of the year - very festive!
Decorations for Christmas went up on the coldest day of the year – very festive!

Wreaths went up on all the windows, white lights went on five bushes in front of the house and a giant 6’x 6′ wreath decorated the pump house. That part turned out to be Ms. Jeannie’s favorite!

Then they headed indoors to warm up and cook some holiday hors d’oeuvres before settling in to begin a new marathon, which is a Wednesday-before-Thanksgiving tradition.  Last year, it was Gilmore Girls – which took them all the way through Thanksgiving into January. This year it is Parenthood – starting with season one.

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The hor d ‘oeuvres menu was all new this year…

Fun and delicious! The hors d’ouvres take the place of both lunch and dinner which makes for light snacking throughout the afternoon and evening without having to eat anything too heavy before the big turkey day.

On Thursday, Mr. Jeannie was up early tending to the turkey which was in the smoker for a total of 8 hours. And Ms. Jeannie was in the kitchen cooking by 9:00am to finish by 5:00pm.  What a spectacle! It was a full day of cooking  that topped off a full week of cooking, that was packed full of experiments, flavors and old favorites. And now there is a weekend full of leftovers. Life really is delicious isn’t it?!

If you are looking for culinary themed gifts for the holidays, Ms. Jeannie has a bunch of newly listed lovelies in her shop. Here’s a peek – click on any and all that interest you to find out more information…

Vintage 1950's Cookbook - The Joy of Cooking
Vintage 1950’s Cookbook – The Joy of Cooking
Vintage Miniature Metal Christmas Cookie Cutters (set of six!)
Vintage Miniature Metal Christmas Cookie Cutters (set of six!)
Vintage recipe holder
Vintage recipe holder
Vintage 1940's Mixing Bowl
Vintage 1940’s Mixing Bowl
Vintage 1950's Embroidered Kitchen Towel
Vintage 1950’s Embroidered Kitchen Towel
Vintage White and Yellow Floral Serving Bowl
Vintage White and Yellow Floral Serving Bowl
Vintage Duck Salt & Pepper Shakers
Vintage 1950’s Duck Salt & Pepper Shakers
Vintage 1970's Cookbook and Entertaining Guide
Vintage 1970’s Cookbook and Entertaining Guide

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Creative Season: Where Ms. Jeannie Popped Up This Summer

The last time we checked in on the virtual appearances of Ms. Jeannie it was May. Now, September is just days away already, can you believe it, dear readers?

While Ms. Jeannie is looking forward to the cool, cozy days of Autumn, the impending holiday season, and a few treats she’ll share soon,  she also feels incredibly humbled and privileged to have been featured on these following sites this summer…

KELLY BURMUDEZ

A little link in the inspiration chain for watercolor artist Kelly Bermudez, came in the form of Ms. Jeannie’s vintage 1949  “hear” flash card photograph…

A queen conch shell in two mediums!
A queen conch shell in two mediums!

Stop by and see more of Kelly’s beautiful work here.

THE ETSY BLOG

Eitor's Picks: Stories of the Sea
Editor’s Picks: Stories of the Sea

Editor’s Picks: Stories of the Sea featured 11 nautical themed items on Etsy – one of which was Ms. Jeannie’s 1940’s photograph portrait of a sailor.  Sailor was very pleased indeed to be among such comrades:)

PIXIPORT

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Pixiport is an online marketing site for fine art photographers. Ms. Jeannie is thrilled that they just featured her June 2012 interview with French photographer Yann Pendaries! See the Pixiport featutre here and see more of Yann’s work here.

DISCREET CHARMS

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Discreet Charms is written by California blogger Dana, and features a wide variety of stunning people, places and things that inspire her. In August, she wrote an incredibly lovely post about Ms. Jeannie’s vintage shop. Goodness gracious – Ms. Jeannie could not have been more touched by her kind words.

ART CRAFT SECRETS

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Art Craft Secrets, an internet business and marketing site geared toward creative enterprises, recently published an E-Book entitled How to Set Up a Successful Etsy Store. Ms. Jeannie’s shop was one of three sample shops used throughout the book to highlight various aspects of marketing and promotion.  Ms. Jeannie was thrilled to help aid, in whatever small way, a new batch of future Etsy sellers!

It’s been an incredibly rewarding season – chock full of interesting new perspectives, people and passions.  Thank you to all the above and to all you dear readers for taking the time and effort to include Ms. Jeannie in your life. Cheers to a new season and to new start!

August 20th – The {annual} Day of Doughnuts

August 20th is a special day in the Ology household.  It’s a food holiday tradition of sorts – on par with other such food holidays like Cinco de Mayo or St. Patrick’s Day. Ms. Jeannie’s holiday is called The Day of Doughnuts – in honor of her grandfather Herbert, who was born on August 20th, 1908.

You may remember Herbert, or Herbie, as Ms. Jeannie sometimes liked to call him, from a previous post about the long line of Chicago firemen in Ms. Jeannie’s family.  Here’s a picture of him to refresh your memory…

Grandpa Herbert holding Ms. Jeannie's dad.
Grandpa Herbert holding Ms. Jeannie’s dad.

Of German – American descent, Herbert loved lots of foods, particularly ones that were part of his heritage: beer, sauerkraut, bratwurst. But if Ms. Jeannie had to pick one food that was most synonymous with him – it would be the doughnut. Grandpa Herb adored them. So much so, in fact,  he’d enjoy one almost  every morning with his coffee and his crossword puzzle.  He liked them in all their vast variety from the simple round old-fashioned rings  to their fancier counterparts – the crullers and the danishes.

Doughnut Wall Art by DianaPappas
Doughnut Wall Art by DianaPappas (click for more info)

Technically, fried dough has been around for centuries in many different cultures,  but the round “traditional doughnut shape” and size is wholly American.  The writer, Washington Irving, was the first person to refer to the word “doughnut” in his writing’s in the early 1800’s, where he noted ‘flour dough balls mixed with sugar and fried in hog lard.’ Sound tasty?! !

Vintage Washington Irving portrait from dogsbodysalvage (click for more info)
Vintage Washington Irving portrait from dogsbodysalvage (click for more info)

According to Ms. Jeannie’s grandfather, a cup of strong, black coffee and a doughnut was the perfect way to begin the day. While he ate his breakfast, he’d work a crossword puzzle from the daily newspaper.  When half of the squares were filled in, he’d set the puzzle aside and go about his daily activities.  In the late afternoon, he would carry a fresh cup of coffee out to the sun porch, along with a cigar, and while he smoked, he would complete the rest of the puzzle.

In Ms. Jeannie's shop! A view of the crossword section of an original  1969 Virginian Pilot newspaper.
A view of the crossword section of an original 1969 Virginian Pilot newspaper from Ms. Jeannie’s shop. (click for more info)

Ms. Jeannie once asked him why he never worked the whole puzzle all at once and he said it was because it gave him something to look forward to every afternoon.  That was Grandpa Herbert in a nutshell. Delighting in the simplest of activities in the simplest of ways.

If Ms. Jeannie was lucky on those porch days,  and the crossword was an easy one,  Grandpa Herbert would sit back with his coffee and his cigar, in the shade of the giant hibiscus bush, and tell her stories about life in the firehouse.

Herbert with his fire company Engine 33 - Chicago, 1940's
Herbert with his fire company Engine 33 – Chicago, 1940’s

Her favorite stories were always the ones where he rescued pets and babies. He had this one story in-particular about a residential building fire and a woman hysterical, down on the street, because her baby was in the apartment. Up went Herbert into the flames, listening for a crying voice.  He broke down the apartment door to discover a giant dog in the room. The fire was too hot and the flames too high to go back down the stairs, so he wrangled the dog up in his arms and out they went through a window and down the ladder.  The “baby” made it to safety! Ms. Jeannie cheered every time!

Perhaps,  because Grandpa Herbert had seen so many life and death situations ignite and extinguish for so many years, he felt humbled and satisfied just to be alive. He had a beautiful wife, a smart and driven son, grandchildren who always couldn’t wait to see him, a tidy little house in Florida,  a car, friends, impeccable health clear into his 80’s (even with the doughnut diet!), a great sense of humor and a smile that always quick to appear.   “What do I have to complain about?” he’d often say.

So on the annual Day of Doughnuts, black coffee and breakfast treats are always served. It’s a simple no-fuss homage to a simple no-fuss man who made it a point to always look for and appreciate the small little joys in life.  May we all be equally as aware! Happy Day of Doughnuts dear readers!

The traditional Day of the Doughnuts - August 20th.
Marking the Day of Doughnuts – August 20th, 2013

Introducing the Vintage Book of the Month Club!

The English philosopher, A.C. Grayling, recently said “To read is to fly: it is to soar to a point of vantage which gives a view over wide terrains of history, human variety, ideas, shared experience and the fruits of many inquiries.”

Ms. Jeannie could not agree more! While re-reading Wuthering Heights a few months ago, Ms. Jeannie got to thinking about vintage books and how their stories, while old in years are often times, not old in spirit. They are just more settled and sometimes overlooked by their shinier, more alluring contemporaries.  But Ms. Jeannie aspires to shake these vintage stories up again – to churn their waters of words and wisdom, of history and social commentary, of status and symbolism.  So it is with that in mind, that Ms. Jeannie is thrilled to announce the launch of her new Vintage Book of the Month Club!

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The book club operates on subscription basis, with a choice of either six months or one year. And there are a few categories available: Fiction, Non-Fiction and Children’s books. The former broken down further into “him”and “her” categories and the latter into “boys” and “girls” categories.  That way if you were giving the book club subscription as a gift you could personalize it with the types of books the recipient likes to read the most.

Every month, subscribers receive one hardcover vintage book in the mail. Written or copyrighted before 1970, each book arrives gift wrapped.  A card detailing the history behind the book and/or author is also included along with a bookplate that bares the recipient’s name.  This is a what the bookplate looks like…

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When Ms. Jeannie designed the bookplate, she went with an Art Deco theme since that is one of her favorite periods in history. The soaring antelope-type deer reminded Ms. Jeannie of the soaring feeling a good story can give you.

It also reminded Ms. Jeannie of the time that she was picking blackberries from a hedgerow in Pennsylvania. It was a lovely lazy grey, green day. Storm clouds were just working there way into the landscape and the birds were singing their hearts out. The blackberries that year, were the biggest Ms. Jeannie had ever seen. The bushes, equally girthy, had grown together and formed an alley of a row that seemed as long as a mile and as tall as a giant.  Full, heavy berries dangled feet above Ms. Jeannie’s head taunting her ability to reach them.

But Ms. Jeannie had more than enough supply at eye-level, so she got to work with intentions to gather enough for a pie and then possibly some tarts for her neighbor. Within 30 minutes, she had pickd an entire bucket full and was working on a second, when all of a sudden,  a dark shadow passed fast overhead. Ms. Jeannie looked up in time to see a furry, white belly sailing through the sky. As she watched the arc of the belly go from front to back, she saw it land, noiselessly behind her and bound off into the woods.

Do you you know what this mysterious flying creature was? A deer! Most likely spooked by something in a neighboring yard this deer was on the run, saw the hedgerow and thought “yeah – I can clear that,” and up and over she went. Ms. Jeannie was awe-struck. It was a magical and dangerous moment. If Ms. Jeannie had been standing just a few inches further back than she was, the deer would have landed right on top of her.

To have the whole scene play out without a single noise (except for the birds) was stunning and surprising. You’d like to think you could hear such a commotion coming.  The event was marvelous and left Ms. Jeannie a bit giddy with excitement to tell Mr. Jeannie all about the day a deer flew through the sky like a bird.   Looking in on the scene – you’d have seen a woman among a batch of berry bushes, but stick around and invest a few minutes of time there, and eventually you’d have seen a bit of magic.  Isn’t that just the epitome of a good book? At the start you think, “oh this is a nice pattern of words” and then without warning those nice little words pull you into the storyline in one effortless swoop and carry your imagination away.

That’s just the effect Ms. Jeannie is hoping for with her vintage book of the month club. As for the types of vintage books that one might receive, the field will be varied. Non-fiction readers could expect a variety of topics including biographies and memoirs (can you ever really get enough information about Ernest Hemingway?!), books about nature, cooking or history. Fiction readers could expect vintage editions of classic literature from Henry James or Mark Twain, tales of romance complete with gorgeous retro dust jackets or a vintage suspense novel or a book of poetry.

The fun part of an “of the month” club is the surprise element behind each package and the appreciation of the item in form, content and appearance.  So just like when you participate in the jam of the month club, or the wine of the month club or the coffee of the month club – you come away just a little bit more enlightened about the subtle differences of a singular subject.  Each of the vintage books in Ms. Jeannie’s club, will be of good quality and will be hand-picked for its story, presentation and/or subject matter.

The children’s book option includes a variety of board books and picture books, tall tales, nursery rhymes, and early education materials.  Ms. Jeannie thinks that this subscription would make a really fun gift for a baby shower or a new mom. The little one’s library would grow bigger and bigger, month by month, just like them, and hopefully they would become the building blocks for a new generation of readers altogether.

So that’s the book club in a nutshell. Fun for gift-giving or fun for yourself, Ms. Jeannie’s Vintage Book of the Month Club looks forward to entertaining a dynamic group of readers.  If you’d like to sign up for a six month subscription, you can do so here. Or if you prefer a one year subscription, you can sign up here. 

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And of course, if you have any questions, please ask!

Paris House: Ms. Jeannie and the Photo Shoot

A few weeks ago, Ms. Jeannie was contacted by Paris House in regards to doing a photo shoot for a few of their products. Sharon at PH was very complimentary of the photos in Ms. Jeannie’s Etsy shop and thought it would be fun to photograph some of the Paris House bags and clutches in similar fashion.

Based in New Zealand, Paris House not only offers completely original bags and accessories but also the experience of thinking outside of the proverbial conversation box. Here are some examples…

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Everything is made of of the softest, plushiest leather, and they all contain gold embellishments and quirky sayings, both on the inside and outside.

This is more from the Paris House 2012 Catalog…

Photo courtesy of parishouse.co.nz
Photo courtesy of parishouse.co.nz

As soon as the box of bags arrived Ms. Jeannie got to work thinking about fun and creative ways to photograph these fun and creative items. Because the bags are brassy and modern with their sassy gold illustrations and because they are classically luxurious in texture, she thought that industrial type props would be a nice contrast…

Envelope clutch. Click for more info.
Envelope clutch with weathered bricks. Click for more info.

As she was photographing this clutch, Ms. Jeannie started thinking about a little story involving the eyelashes and paparazzi. So she got out her vintage Brownie camera and incorporated it into the photo shoot. It was easy for Brownie to fall in love with the golden eyed beauty.

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The backside says peeping tom on it!
The backside of the clutch says Peeping Tom on it!
The inside of the bag says: Love to my sister who just got married.
The inside of the bag says: Love to my sister who just got married.

Next, Ms. Jeannie went on a little travel adventure with a weekender bag that lost his way…

The caption on this bag reads: Should this bag ever wander, smack his bum and send him home.
The caption on this bag reads: Should this bag ever roam, smack his bum & send him home.

The inside had little illustrations that carry the fun from out to in…

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Those little fruit characters really called out to Ms. Jeannie, so the next envelope clutch was all about fun with bedazzled fruits…

This bag states
This bag states: Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.

That sounds like a statement Helen Gurley Brown would have made!

It is difficult to mention Helen Gurley Brown and then right after not to mention men, so Ms. Jeannie changed gears and went to work on the Fantastic Man zipper pouch..

Underneath Fantastic Man it says kisses!
Underneath Fantastic Man it says kisses!

In Ms. Jeannie’s opinion, any well-read man is a fantastic man.  And who was one of history’s most fantastic, most well-read men? Why none other than Hemingway of course! So here’s a nod in his direction…

Ms. Jeannie thinks Hemingway would approve of the fantastic man comparison:)
Ms. Jeannie thinks Hemingway would approve of the deer antler addition.

Then of course, one cannot think about Ernest without thinking of his famous “write drunk, edit sober” quote so Ms. Jeannie carried on into a night of partying with the Two Drunken Couples zipper pouch…

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On such a wildly entertaining night as this, of course, just about a billion and a half stories unfolded. So many in fact that inspiration for the Dear Sophie zippered pouch came about from stacks of stories in stacks of notebooks…

Dear Sophie:
Dear Sophie, Everything I have is yours except my boyfriend.

And now Dear Sophie and her stacks of stories from the drunken night now sit on the homepage of the Paris House website…

parishouse.co.nz
parishouse.co.nz

As you know, Ms. Jeannie just loves everything that tells a story, and these bags do such a good job of giving you a little slice of creative inspiration. Wouldn’t it be fun to combine all  these little sayings into one short story? It would be an interesting one at that! Ms. Jeannie might just have to set out on such a challenge. In the meantime, stop by the Paris House website and peruse their vast collection of fun and whimsical items here.

And, when conversation hits a lull at the next party or dinner date you attend, you can call on Dear Sophie or the drunken couple to liven things up a little bit:)

Happy shopping!

Compassion Collects in the Closet: How One Helps Many

This time, Ms. Jeannie’s interview series takes us to the very big city of Chicago, to a very big closet, powered by a lovely lady with a very BIG  heart. Meet Nicole of  Dotto, vintage fashionista and volunteer extraordinaire.

Hello Nicole!

Nicole runs the sunny vintage clothing shop Dotto, on Etsy. It’s so full of personality, Ms. Jeannie can’t help but think that Nicole is bringing a much needed breath of fresh air to dusty cellars and attics all over the city. She’s the shop model, the copy writer, the clothing scout, the photographer and the coordinator behind her brand. And as if running a successful Etsy shop isn’t accomplishment enough, she also donates proceeds from her shop sales to not one but  seven local charities that she’s affiliated with.  How does she do it, you ask? Let’s find out…

Nicole of Dotto vintage modeling a 1940 Peter Pan collar dress. Click for more info.
Nicole modeling a 1940 Peter Pan collar dress. Click for more info.

Ms. Jeannie: Oh Nicole – you sound like such a fun person and incredibly nice to be donating shop proceeds to charity. Please explain a bit about how you came to make charities a theme for your shop.

Nicole: AW. I’ve been a pretty serious volunteer for years that probably started with the peace corps, but no wait. I volunteered a little in college too. When I moved to Chicago I spent the first few months going to as many volunteer orientations as I could and was blown away by how many really good- like really good- organizations there were here and at one point had to start cutting back because I was volunteering more than I was working. Anyway, I went to a small business expo about a year ago and was asked what makes my business different and I remember thinking ‘oh my god NOTHING. it’s just clothes’. I decided to show in my shop what I am able to do by making my own hours and working for myself. Whew!

Vintage 1970 Scout Leader Vest. Click for more info.
Vintage 1970 Scout Leader Vest. Click for more info.

MJ: Tell us a little about each of the charities you are involved with and why you chose them.

http://www.pawschicago.org/
pawschicago.org

Nicole: PAWS Chicago is a no kill animal shelter. I volunteer on the dog side and lately have been fostering cats!

sitstayread
sitstayread.org

Sit Stay Read is a literacy program that enlists dogs as volunteers TOO. kids get super jazzed about reading to the dogs during classroom visits, it is pretty adorable and their reading scores show a vast improvement.

826chi.org
826chi.org

826 Chicago is a creative writing and tutoring center. They offer field trips to elementary school kids during the day and tutoring to older kids afternoons and evenings. Right now I am working online with four AP history students to help them pass the exam at the end of the year.

Side Note: 826 Chicago was recently part of a TED talk. For a quick, interesting little video about how the 826 concept started click here.

keenusa.org
keenusa.org

KEEN is an exercise program for kids and teens with disabilities- IT IS AWESOME.

littlebrotherschicago.org
littlebrotherschicago.org

Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly reaches out to isolated seniors all over the city by getting them to senior parties and/or visiting them at home.

juddgoldmansailing.org
juddgoldmansailing.org

Adaptive Sailing helps people with disabilities learn how to sail. It is even more interesting than it sounds.

Side Note: If you are interested in learning more about this program, you can watch this 7 minute video. It is inspiring to see how challenges are turned into rewarding opportunities for both participants and program coordinators. And spending time on the water?! Who couldn’t benefit from that!

workingbikes.org workingbikes.org[/caption]

Working Bikes fixes donated bicycles and ships them to countries in need or sells them to the community at a low cost.

MJ: What is your process of determining how much donation goes to which charity?
Nicole: If I’ve missed volunteering with an organization that I usually volunteer with, I’ll donate to them first when extra money comes in. but I try to volunteer with each group at least a few times a month, some of them weekly. When a ‘disaster relief’ item sells, that money goes toward something that is currently going on in the world through www.globalgiving.org

Vintage Christmas Angel Nativity Dress. This is one of more than a dozen pieces in Nicole's shop that contribute to disaster relief funds. Click here to see what catches your eye.
Vintage Christmas Angel Nativity Dress. This is one of more than a dozen pieces in Nicole’s shop that contribute to disaster relief funds. Click here to see what catches your eye.

MJ: Your photographs are full of personality – do you work with a photographer or do you arrange all the sets yourself?

Vintage 1960's sheer black slip.
Nicole’s clever spin on a vintage 1960’s sheer black slip.

Nicole: I use a timed camera in all of the photos with a white background. The professional outdoor photography is done by my verrrry talented friend Rodion Galperin.

It's gard to figure out what's prettier - Rodion's photograph or the dress! Mid-century lace wedding dress. Click for more info.
It’s hard to figure out what’s prettier – Rodion’s photograph or the dress! Mid-century lace wedding dress. Click for more info.

For one year, Rodion traveled across the US with a red paper heart. Watch the beauty of this amazing project unfold here…

MJ: What’s your most favorite decade of vintage clothing?
Nicole: ooooh. It changes all the time. Currently the 1940s. I love the fitted waists and powerful shoulders that evolved with women entering the workplace.

1940 Wool Fitted Suit
1940 Wool Fitted Suit

MJ: What’s your most favorite item in your shop right now?
Nicole: The white sequin dress with pink flowers. People always ask if I wear things that are in my shop and I feel kind of weird that I don’t (except wouldn’t it be kind of weird if I did?) but it’s true. I do, however, put things in my shop that I’ve worn before… this dress is the ultimate. I wore it to a dive bar for New Years a few years ago (true story) and for my birthday one year. I am going to cry a river once it sells but I always feel a little bit like I am getting married when I wear it, so. . .

1950 White Sequin Dress.
1950 White Sequin Dress.

MJ: Every once in awhile we see a cat or a dog or another person pop-up in your listing photographs. Tell us about your fellow models.
Nicole: Oh the muffin butts? They make the best models. the dogs are from my hometown in California, they’re in the backyard photos… right now I am fostering a tabby cat from an animal shelter- he only enters the picture if treats are involved. A few months ago I fostered brother cats who looooved posing. Or sleeping along the wall by my feet while I took photos for hours, the lovers.

With kitty and the pink Mid-Century pajamas.
With kitty and the pink Mid-Century pajamas.

MJ: What is the strangest thing you have come across in your vintage adventures?
Nicole: A friend found a guy on craigslist in upstate New York who ‘had a lot of inventory’ that turned out to be a huge barn FILLED with vintage clothing. I tell you what. We thought we’d walked into heaven when we entered that barn. A dark musty old clothing filled heaven.  

Side note: This story reminded Ms. Jeannie of Julie’s interview from Fishs Eddy – she discovered a treasure trove of vintage china in an old barn in upstate New York too. Maybe these two barns knew each other:)

MJ: Ms. Jeannie loves Chicago! She has many ancestors from there and her father grew up in Oak Park. Are you from there? What are some of your favorite things about living there?
Nicole: I am with you, girl! I love this city, I moved here on a whim two and a half years ago. The architecture and snow and the Colombian Exposition of 1893 are what initially drew me here. But the FOOD! What a pleasant surprise, I had no idea it was such a dream food city before I moved here.

Chicago Photography by Rebecca Plotnick. Click for more info.
Chicago Photography by Rebecca Plotnick. Click for more info.

MJ: When you are not Etsy-ing or volunteering, what else do you like to do with your time?
Nicole: I love to ride around on my bicycle, which I initially got into to impress a guy. Ugh, good thing bikes are so awesome. Every once in a while I design and sew clothing- it’s actually why I originally signed up on Etsy. And then vintage clothing ended up taking over.

MJ:  It looks like, from your previous shop move, that you have been affiliated with Etsy since almost the beginning, back in 2007. How did you discover Etsy? How has it evolved since 2007 and why did you decide for a change from gimmeNicole to Dotto?
Nicole: I get asked about Etsy a lot and it’s kind of fuzzy. I think I heard about it through someone on Ebay. Weird, right? Remember when listing an item on Etsy used to take several pages? And you had to add photos one at a time? I remember the day they rolled out the one page listing template and everything was like MAGIC.

MJ:  What is your favorite type of vintage clothing to scout?
Nicole: I don’t have too much of a filter, I will go for anything. I physically cannot stop myself from grabbing anything neon or glittery, sheer or with matching belt. I used to get anxious when I shopped, like if I didn’t do it fast enough people would find things that I was meant to find but that has changed completely over the years. I’ll totally give someone something from my cart if they are eyeing it (okay. within REASON)

MJ: Do you wear a lot of vintage clothing yourself?
Nicole: Ugh, I don’t. And I have kept some really beautiful things since I started my shop! I’ll wear vintage for special occasions or anything where I have to think about what to wear beforehand, definitely. I love over dressing for an event. But daily, I almost always wear a t shirt and jeans or skirt.

Vintage his/hers reversible soccer shirt.
Vintage his/hers reversible soccer shirt.

MJ: It seems that your shop clothes are full of American nostalgia from camp t-shirts all the way down the line to prom dresses and ballet costumes. Do you look for items that are reminiscent of a traditional American past or does it just happen to work out like that?
Nicole: Oh it just happens to work out like that.

Vintage Ballerina Costume.
Vintage Ballerina Costume
Mermaid Green Party Dress. Possible former prom dress?!
Possible former prom dress?!  Vintage 1980’s Mermaid Green Party Dress.
Vintage Figure Skating Dress
Vintage Figure Skating Dress

MJ:  Do you sell most of your items to customers in the US or overseas?
Nicole: I think it’s split pretty evenly. I sell a lot to England and Australia, I always wonder if those places are especially void of vintage clothing or if they’re just more inclined to shop online. Stateside, more orders than I ever would have bet on are from Texas. but really, it’s just so spread out. 

Side note: Ms. Jeannie also sells a lot of vintage to Australia. She recently spoke with a customer who shed some light on the subject. It seems there is just not a lot of vintage or antique items in Australia. And what they do have is really really expensive, so for collectors it is much more cost effective to purchase vintage from the States. Even with our high shipping prices to their neck of the woods, it still works out in their favor.

MJ: Buying from your shop is almost like receiving two gifts! You give something back to the community and you receive a fabulous vintage item at the same time, do you think people respond to that and do you think that affects their purchasing decisions?
Nicole: AW. I feel like that’s split too. but always if someone didn’t notice that their purchase helps organizations around the city, they’re pretty jazzed when they find out afterward.

MJ:  Have you seen the impact that your charitable contributions have made? Is there a Nicole Cat Hospital somewhere in Chicago or a statue of your loveliness downtown?! Did the mayor give you a key to the city?!
Nicole: whaaaaaaaaaat an enormous key to the city? Who wouldn’t want that. It would have to be enormous, otherwise the deal would be off.

MJ: If we were to come spend a day with you in Chicago, and you were to act as tour guide, where would you take us?
Nicole: WELL. every old theater we could get into, most of them in Uptown. I am just slightly obsessed with atriums and glass ceilings- Harold Washington Library, the Cultural Center, the Rookery. You would have too ooh and ahh at architecture along the river with me, naturally.

Harold Washington Library Photograph by Carolyn Jane Photo. Click for more info.
Harold Washington Library Photograph by Carolyn Jane Photo. Click for more info.
Chicago Cultural Center Tiffany Dome Photograph by unfinishedphoto via etsy. Click for more info.
Chicago Cultural Center Tiffany Dome Photograph by unfinishedphoto . Click for more info.
Rookery Building photograph by photoasylum. Click for more info.
Rookery Building photograph by photoasylum. Click for more info.

MJ: And last but not least…the universal questions: What book(s) are you currently reading? And what music are you listening to?
Nicole: I’ve been listening to a lot of Lissie and old Ratatat lately and reading a book that my sister recommended called The Secret History. It’s by Donna Tartt and is pretty excellent.

Mustard Corduroy Vest.
Mustard Corduroy Vest.

With over 190 items in her shop you most certainly might find a new treasure for your wardrobe. Ms. Jeannie encourages you to help the helper, by visiting Nicole’s shop on Etsy or by passing along this post to someone else who would enjoy it. Best case scenario, you might aid in helping a shelter dog find a new home or a withdrawn senior find a smile.  Worst case scenario, you keep Nicole afloat so that she can continue to be a working wonder in the windy city.

Happy adventuring, dear readers!

Crunch, Crunch, Crunch…

…crunch…crunch…crunch…

What’s that in the garden, Ms. Jeannie hears?

someone's been enjoying the garden greens...
someone’s been enjoying the garden greens…

It appears as if someone’s dived into the salad bar in the garden! The feasting is happening in the parsley plant that Ms. Jeannie just blogged about the other day. Do you remember this…

Parsley, spinach and gerbers!

That was the parsley plant just 9 days ago. And now this is what it looks like today…

it's a stem garden!
it’s a stem garden!

Oh dear! What happened you ask? Well, my darlings, it seems Ms. Jeannie’s been invaded by these little characters…

butterfly1
The culprits!

The swallowtail butterflies. Or, to be more exact, the infants of  swallowtail butterflies.

Upon first spotting them, Ms. Jeannie had to make an immediate decision – save the parsley or propagate the butterflies. Apparently in nature you cannot have both! This turned out to be an easy decision for Ms. Jeannie. After all,  parsley is not nearly as exciting as a butterfly (sorry green leafy friends), even though her herb did look beautiful and bountiful next to the gerber daisies and spinach.

Once she became pro butterfly, Ms. Jeannie began to thoroughly enjoy her new dinner guests. They are quite cute in that young baby way, with their fat bellies and their energetic ways.

butterfly23

butterfly4

butterfly5

This is the last stage of babyhood for these guys. They are ferociously devouring the parsley (oh the eating habits of teenagers!) so that they can build enough strength, stamina and sustenance to cocoon themselves for the nest few weeks while they grow into butterflies.

Ms. Jeannie is seriously hoping that they cocoon  in the pot, but she’s not sure what the game plan is for that stage. Research says they like long grasses or house foundations, somewhere away from the birds. Ms. Jeannie has both of those nearby but how would she ever find them in the long grasses?

Ms. Jeannie looks forward to seeing the butterflies emerge and hopefully spend a little time in her garden once they’ve winged out.

Once they are at that stage, they’ll look like this…

Swallowtail Butterfly photograph by Michelle Reynolds
Swallowtail Butterfly photograph by Michelle Reynolds. Click for info.

Butterflies in mythology have long symbolized renewal. Perhaps Ms. Jeannie is cultivating some new changes in her life, or perhaps it’s just nature taking its course. Every summer it seems like there is some magical event that occurs over and over again in Ms. Jeannie’s life, a theme if you will, or a special situation that heralds that specific year with a specific reference. Last year it was the summer of the cows, the year before that, it was the summer of the fireworks. Ms. Jeannie would be thrilled if this was the summer of the butterflies:)

If all goes well with her brood, she’ll have just under a dozen butterflies, floating on the mid-summer breeze. Keep your fingers crossed! Adult butterflies impact the environment most actively by pollinating plants and flowers which is why they are beneficial to have in your garden. Even though they have short life spans, most just a few weeks, they can bring endless joy to a garden for seasons and spirits long after they are gone.

Ms. Jeannie never fails to be amazed and surprised by the sight of a butterfly. For such a fragile creature to last for weeks, let alone minutes in our environment astounds her. Perhaps that’s why they are so magical. They start out camouflaged en masse, creeping and crawling, but one by one they turn inward, wrapping themselves in their own comforter, stewing in their own protection, before emerging a changed creature, light and independent.  They are the best case scenarios, the happy endings, the freedoms of ability that is at the root of all human yearnings.

Ms. Jeannie is glad to have a little part in the continuation of such symbolism and hope in her little corner of the world.

The Lamb and the Butterfly via pinterest
The Lamb and the Butterfly via pinterest

More on the butterflies  (hopefully) coming soon!

A Trip Around China with Fishs Eddy: Discussing Dishes and Design with Julie

It’s unusual for things to stick around New York City. In a place that’s constantly moving, constantly changing, constantly striving to be the best and the boldest, it is understandable that the pressure is great. The city, at most, is a complicated love affair offering you treasures in the form of new favorites…restaurants, boutiques, coffee houses, galleries, apartments, friends, jobs… you lose your heart, you fall in love, you grow to need them and then one day they are gone.  It’s life lived bittersweet, but in an environment that constantly strives to out do itself, it’s to be expected. To Ms. Jeannie, that’s what makes the city wonderful. It’s addictive and adventurous and mysterious. It’s here one minute and  gone the next. But every once in awhile you get lucky, the city gods smile upon you,  and one of your favorites winds up sticking around for many, many years and many more beyond that.

Such is the case with the whimsical vintage china and kitchen shop, Fishs Eddy, located at Broadway and 19th street.  First opened in the mid-1980’s by Julie and her husband, Dave, Ms. Jeannie first discovered it thanks to her brother, who had purchased a vintage Howard Johnson’s creamer there, and then went about telling all of New York how wonderful of a place it was. Like her brother, Ms. Jeannie was smitten right away. Having just moved back to the city,  from Seattle, it reminded her a bit of the market stalls in Pike Place, where everything was a feast for your eyes  in that simple, unearthed presentation way that spoke a straightforward this-is-what-I-offer language. It also reminded her a bit of the one day sample sales, she had just  started frequenting with her girlfriends. These were sort of “secret” sample sales where you had to be on “the list” and show up to a hush-hush location where designers opened trunks of clothes in near empty buildings and let you rummage through one of a kind fashions that were just retired from the runway or design studio.  Of course these were deeply discounted clothes in waif sizes but you couldn’t help but feel like an adventurer among all those fabrics and that you being offered something rare and unusual.

That’s exactly what Ms. Jeannie felt when visiting Fishs Eddy for the first time. It was exhilarating.   Barrels of retro plates and cups, bins of mismatched silverware, shelves and cabinets of affordably priced pitchers and platters, cups and glassware. And then there was their sense of humor, their quirky signs, their whimsical displays. It was all perfection right from the very beginning.

So how does one such store manage to make it in one of the toughest cities in the world for more than 25 years? Clearly it’s good business practices, but also there’s more to it then just operating the nuts and bolts of every day. Ms. Jeannie caught up with Julie to discuss all aspects of selling china in New York City. Here’s what she had to say…

Fishs Eddy in NYC. Photo courtesy of shopikon.com
Fishs Eddy in NYC. Photo courtesy of shopikon.com
Ms Jeannie: Where did your love of china and glassware begin?

Julie: After college I moved in on west 15th street. Dave was working at his cousin’s shop called the Wooden Indian. It was this quirky little store at the end of the block, they sold restaurant glassware and some dishes, along with a lot of peculiar stuff. It was a fixture in the West Village and a lot of cool artists and locals shopped there. Dave was working behind the counter, and well, the rest is history. I had graduated from Syracuse University and knew a little about Syracuse China-a major American manufacture of restaurant ware located near the campus. Dave knew a lot about restaurant dishes and glasses. He also knew how to run a shop. So he left his job and we opened our own store. The more we went out searching for dishes and glasses, the more we learned about these incredible factories and the manufacturing process and the wonderful people behind it.

Syracuse china marks from the 1890's -2009
Syracuse china marks from the 1890’s -2009

MJ: How did the Fishs Eddy concept come about to begin with? If I understand correctly, Fishs Eddy started with your barn discovery of old restaurant ware back in the 1980’s. Did you know that you were specifically looking for dishes that day or did it just happen to work out that way? If you had stumbled upon a barn full of old lamps do you think you would have then been in the vintage lamp/lighting business?!

J: Well we wouldn’t ever sell lamps because chances are, for us at least, if its something that has to be plugged in, it won’t work! But back at the shop we were already selling vintage restaurant china and glassware -because both Dave and I shared a passion for that kind of stuff. So we were searching for dishes when we stumbled upon that barn filled with “ware.” The thing is, we were always picking up odds and end, finding a dozen of anything would be a big deal…and here was a whole barn filled!

Fishs Eddy in the early years. Photo courtesy of the Fishs Eddy blog, Table of Content. Click the picture to read more...
Fishs Eddy in the early years. Photo courtesy of the Fishs Eddy blog, Table of Content. Click the picture to read more…
MJ: Did you grow up in New York? Why did you decide to open your first store location in the city as opposed to the suburbs or surrounding boroughs?
J: I grew up in Staten Island. I love art and dragged my father into the city any chance I could get to take me to museums. I always knew I would do something in the city. But I thought I would be a painter, I didn’t think I would have a business. It all worked out.

MJ: When you opened up shop in 1986, did you find that people got the mix and match concept right away or did you have to educate them about all the whimsical possibilities?

J: It’s funny how it all happened because it didn’t happen by design. Many many years ago we were hauling endless bushels of dishware out of the basements of the restaurant suppliers down in the Bowery. In those days the Bowery was the restaurant supply district. Those bushels we were hauling were filled with mixed pieces. It’s not like there were sets of anything. It was all obsolete cups and sugar bowls and mugs and plates. When we displayed these dishes in the store everything looked great together, even though nothing matched as a set. We merchandised our dishes the way were finding it, massed out in those basements. It was the best suggestive selling we could have ever done. People were excited that the common denominator was the great restaurant quality and they felt comfortable putting mixed patterns together to create something very unique. I have to say without sounding too presumptuous, I do believe Fishs Eddy was at the forefront of that whole approach to table top.

A "traditional" Fishs Eddy store display. Look at all those possibilities! Photo via flickr.
A “traditional” Fishs Eddy store display. Look at all those possibilities! Photo via flickr.
Crates and barrels and baskets all full. How could you not find at least one treasure in all of this?! Photo courtesy of timeout.com
Crates and barrels and baskets all full. How could you not find at least one treasure in all of this?! Photo courtesy of timeout.com

MJ: I was first introduced to Fishs Eddy through my brother who had bought a vintage Howard Johnson’s creamer from you guys. That was was 20 years ago and I still think about that creamer! Is there one item like that from the early days that brings back a sense of nostalgia for you?

Ms. Jeannie's brother purchased ne similiar to this one which is available online at fishseddy.com
Ms. Jeannie’s brother purchased one similar to this one which is available online at fishseddy.com (click the photo for info)

J: Hmmmm that’s a hard question because there are so many. The one pattern that I get very nostalgic for are these fantastic little cups made for the La Fonda Del Sol restaurant in the city. They were designed by Alexander Girard and had a fabulous design that was so 50’s and strikingly modern. The best part is that we’re working with the Girard family and bringing those dishes back! I still can’t get over that we’re producing a pattern that we found sitting in a basement 25 years ago, and who knows how long they were sitting there before we rescued them!

Alexander Girard (1907-1993) is an American born designer that studied in Italy.
Alexander Girard (1907-1993) is an American born designer who studied in Italy. He is most known for his textile designs for Herman Miller, but in addition, he designed the visual concept of the original La Fonda del Sol restaurant in New York, circa 1960.  Pictures (clockwise top left): (1) the original menu designed by Girard for the La Fonda Del Sol restaurant, 1960.  (2) Portrait of Girard. (3) Porcelain plates designed by Girard now available at various museums. (4) The original La Fonda Del del Sol Restaurant, 1960. All photos via pinterest.

MJ:  One of the most fun things about visiting Fishs Eddy is your store displays – with the old crates and big bins of bits and pieces, it makes everything feel like a constant discovery. Like we’ve unearthed a treasure that you might not even know you had. That’s great design! How do you come up with your display concepts?

Crate full of mix and matches! Photo courtesy of absolutelynothingtowear.com
Crate full of mix and matches! Photo courtesy of absolutelynothingtowear.com
Even the cardboard boxes seem to fit right in! Photo by Heather Bullard.
Even the cardboard boxes seem to fit right in! Photo by Heather Bullard.
Quirky window displays. The wedding dress is made entirely out of spoons!
Quirky window displays. The wedding dress is made entirely out of spoons!

J: I tell our visual people that if it looks as though they spent any time at all thinking and strategizing about how a display looks, then the display is going in the wrong direction. We aren’t decorative and we aren’t “fluffy.” Every fixture in the store has a purpose, opposed to other stores that put random and useless props out to set a mood. Our dishes and glasses are what sets the mood and I think that kind of straight forward merchandising gives customers a lot of credit. People are very creative if you give them a chance.

MJ: Design-wise, who or what inspires you?

J; Without a doubt, Todd Oldham! We approached Todd a few years ago thinking this guy is never going to call us back…but he did! Todd is truly a talented and brilliant designer, watching him in action is awe-inspiring. We’ll be talking about how to lay out a graphic or something like that, and Todd will just see something that is totally unexpected, but it’s always right!

Todd Oldham (1961 - ) is an American designer with talents in a multitude of creative design fields including furniture, clothing and merchandising. Photo courtesy of poptower.com
Todd Oldham (1961 – ) is an American designer with talents in a multitude of creative design fields including furniture, clothing and merchandising. Photo courtesy of poptower.com

But what inspires me even more is that Todd is most unpretentious, giving and wonderful person ever! His partner Tony is the same way. Todd overseas the Charley Harper estate and could have given that design to anyone for dishware. God knows a lot of people would have killed for it. But he trusted this small business to do the best quality. He doesn’t make decisions based on how much money he could make. I‘m inspired by Todd as a designer, and just as much for the person that he is. How many people can you say that about?

A sampling of the Todd Oldham + Charley Harper collection for Fishs Eddy. clockwise top left: (1) Cardinal dinner plate (2) Green Jay Placemat (3) Eskimo Curlew Tray (4) Western Tanager Coaster. All items avaiable at fishseddy.com
A sampling of the Todd Oldham + Charley Harper collection for Fishs Eddy. Clockwise from top left: (1) Cardinal dinner plate (2) Green Jay Placemat (3) Eskimo Curlew Tray (4) Western Tanager Coaster. All items available at fishseddy.com

MJ: What is the most exciting item you ever discovered on your buying sprees and where was it from?

J: We’ve discovered a lot of things. But I have to say one of the most exciting pieces that we’ve ever come across was this very large punch bowl from the 21 Club in NYC. The 21 Club was a speak-easy and I always think about how that bowl was probably made for some kind of spiked punch!

Side note: To see a fun quick little video of all the “hidden” doors, vaults and prohibition- era trickery inside the 21 Club click here.

The 21 Club in Manhattan - now over 80 years old!
The 21 Club in Manhattan – now over 80 years old!
MJ: Is there a particular pattern or brand that creates a frenzy among Fishs Eddy customers?

J: Customers really love our Charley Harper dishes that Todd designed. They also love some of the crazy one-offs that we mange to get away with, like a little tray that’s Obama’s birth certificate! That was a frenzy because it came out around election time.

The Obama Birther Certificate Tray exclusively from Fishs Eddy.
The Obama Birther Certificate Tray exclusively from Fishs Eddy.

MJ: After 25 years in the business, do you think you have seen it all when it comes to china patterns? Is there a holy grail of patterns that you are anticipating?

J: Haha….a holy grail of patterns? I love anything that was done in a spray mist pattern. That was popular in the 50’s, so I guess if I found a barn filled with that stuff I would start worshiping. And trust me, it takes a lot to get me to worship!

MJ: What’s one of the best customer stories you can recall?

J: One of my favorite stories is when a customer took a photograph of the Fishs Eddy sign on the highway on route 17. They sent the photo to us and said “did you know they name a town after your store?” That town was founded about three hundred years before we were!

Ms. Jeannie consulted her 1943 vintage atlas and was thrilled to see that Fishs Eddy was listed on the map!
Ms. Jeannie consulted her 1943 vintage atlas and was thrilled to see that Fishs Eddy, New York  was listed on the map! In 1943, it had a population of 488, in case you were wondering!
It's located in the southern part of the state, right in the crook of Catskill country.
It’s located in the southern part of the state, right in the crook of Catskill country.

MJ: I absolutely love antique ironstone pottery and get so excited when I come across a piece. The older, more aged and imperfect looking the better – if it has a crack or a chip it is absolutely perfect! What sort of pieces or brands get you so excited like this?

Ms. Jeannie's most beloved ironstone pottery platter dating to 1850.
Ms. Jeannie’s most beloved ironstone pottery platter dating to 1850.

J: I love any dishes that have the original guideline markings under the glaze. There was this guy named Ray who worked forever at Shenango China factory and he signed off on all the sample plates. So we have lots of these plates with Ray’s signature. He even doodled on some of them!

Julie's favorites! This one is a Pottsville Club Sample Plate (click for more info)
Julie’s favorites! This one is a Pottsville Club Sample Plate (click for more info)
Isbell's Picadilly Restaurant Sample Plate available at fishseddy.com (click more more info)
Isbell’s Picadilly Restaurant Sample Plate available at fishseddy.com (click for more info)
Colonial Hotel Sample Plate available at fishseddy.com (click for more info)
Colonial Hotel Sample Plate available at fishseddy.com (click for more info)

MJ: What is your most favorite piece, or collection, in the shop right now?

J: Right now at this very minute I love this funny little pattern we did with the winner of our annual design competition at Pratt Institute. We’ve been doing this competition for several years now and some of my favorite patterns have come out of it. I love student work because it’s so unfettered. Last year the theme of the competition was politics. I did get a lot of elephants and donkeys but this one student submitted a Teddy Roosevelt pattern that’s totally adorable. I was thinking, where else would you get Teddy Roosevelt dishes other than Fishs Eddy??? And, we had it made in America because of course, you can’t outsource TR! It just makes me happy to look at!

The Teddy Roosevelt Collection available at fishseddy.com (click for more info)
The Teddy Roosevelt Collection available at fishseddy.com (click for more info)

MJ: Is it ever nerve-wracking to be around so many fragile things?

J: We’ve broken some pieces of our collection that, after the damage, I just have to go and hide under a rock for a few hours -but at the end of the day, they are dishes.

So many fragiles! Photo by Heather via pinterest
So many fragiles! Photo by Heather Bullard via pinterest
MJ: I saw your recent blog post about Stanley Tucci stopping by for a book signing (very cool!), do you have a big celebrity clientele? And have you, yourself, been star-struck by anyone that’s visited the store?

Stanley Tucci's new cookbook
Stanley Tucci’s new cookbook
Stanley Tucci signing books at Fishs Eddy. Photo courtesy of the Fishes Eddy blog, Table of Content.
Stanley Tucci signing books at Fishs Eddy. Photo courtesy of the Fishes Eddy blog, Table of Content.

J: We do get a lot of celebrities. The one person I might have frozen in star “struckenness” is Bill Clinton, who came in a few months ago while I was out to lunch, of course.

Julie didn't miss out on meeting Stanley! There she is (in the glasses). Photo
Julie didn’t miss out on meeting Stanley! There she is (in the glasses). Photo courtesy of the Fishs Eddy blog, Table of Content. Click on the picture to read more about the event.

 MJ: If you could sit down to luncheon with anyone famous, alive or dead, who would you chose? And what would your place settings look like? 

J: Gloria Steinem is one person. I sat a few rows behind her once when I went to Carnegie Hall with my father.   I only watched her for the entire concert. Anyone who speaks up for gender equality is someone I want to have lunch with. And then there’s Hank Williams because I love county music. I know, I’m a big walking conflict of interest because it’s not like county music preaches gender equality.

Julie's lunch companions. Gloria Steinam is an American journalist, activist, feminist and leader of the women's liberation movement in the 1960's and 1970's. Hank Williams (1923-1953) was a highly influential American country music artist.
Julie’s lunch companions. Ms. Jeannie bets there would be some interesting conversations going on between these two over lunch!  Gloria Steinem is an American journalist, activist, feminist and was the leader of the women’s liberation movement in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Hank Williams (1923-1953) was a highly influential American country music singer-songwriter.
MJ: Can you name some restaurants or hotels that have utilized your food service supply line?

J: Marcus Samelsons Red Rooster, Joseph Leonard, Perla, Prune, Maialino, La Bernadine….too many to name!

Red Rooster Harlem -  American comfort food cuisine - between 125th and 126th Streets (click for their menu)
Red Rooster Harlem – American comfort food cuisine – between 125th and 126th Streets (click for their menu). Photo via flickr.
Joseph-Leonard American Restaurant  and Bar in the West Village - 170 Waverly Place. Click for menu. Photo by Daniel Krieger.
Joseph-Leonard American Restaurant and Bar in the West Village – 170 Waverly Place. Click for menu. Photo by Daniel Krieger.
Perla  - a rustic Italian restaurant at 24 Minetta Lane in the West Village. (Click photo for menu). Photograph courtesy of roundpulse.com
Perla – a rustic Italian restaurant at 24 Minetta Lane in the West Village. (Click photo for menu). Photograph courtesy of roundpulse.com
Prune - American homecooking with mulit-cultural influences. Located at 54 East 1st Street (click photo for menu).
Prune – American homecooking with multi-cultural influences. Located at 54 East 1st Street (click photo for menu).
Maialino - A Roman trattoria located at 2 Lexington Avenue. (Click photo for menu). Photo courtesy of youropi.com
Maialino – A Roman trattoria located at 2 Lexington Avenue. (Click photo for menu). Photo courtesy of youropi.com
Le Bernardin - considered to be one of the best seafood restaurnts in all of Nyc. Located at 155 West 51st Street. Click photo for menu. Photograph courtesy of tripandtravelblog.com
Le Bernadine – considered to be one of the best seafood restaurants in all of NYC. Located at 155 West 51st Street. Click photo for menu. Photograph courtesy of tripandtravelblog.com

MJ: If one of our readers was visiting NYC for the first time and you were their tour guide, what five places would you take them and why?

J: I would take them to my house, because I have the best view of the Hudson River and the Statue of Liberty, and a collection of paintings that I love to show off. I would take them to Central Park, the MoMa, the lower east side, Eatly, and we would walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. Why do I only get five places?

Julie's New York tour...clockwise from top left (1) Central Park, photograph by zenzphotography (2) The Museuem of Modern Art (MoMA), painting by Gwen Meyerson
Julie’s New York tour…clockwise from top left (1) Central Park, photograph by zenzphotography (2) The Museuem of Modern Art (MoMA), painting by Gwen Meyerson (3) NY’s Lower East Side at night, photography courtesy of nydigest (4) The Brooklyn Bridge, water color painting by merlyna (5) Eatly Italian Marketplace, photography courtesy of paloma81.blogspot
And of course, you’d have to visit Fishs Eddy:)  To keep up with Julie via her blog, click here. She’s a hilarious writer with lots of fun stories! If you do not live in the New York area, have no fear – you can still be charmed by FE and fill your shopping cart full via their website fishseddy.com
Cheers for being a mainstay, Fishs Eddy, and cheers again, to 25 more years in the dish business!
This interview is part of a series of interviews Ms. Jeannie has been conducting with various artists around the world, for over a year now. To read more from this series, click here.

An Icon (and an Artist) Identified!

Last week was a big week for the Catholic church with the announcement of new pope, Francis…

Pope Francis, aka Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Photo courtesy of crosscurrents.org
Pope Francis, aka Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Photo courtesy of countercurrents.org

Likewise – it was also a big week in the Ology household on a somewhat similar front. For close to a year now, Ms. Jeannie has been trying to identify the saint in her vintage Italian Catholic icon, that sits above her writing desk…

Ms. Jeannie's Icon - one of her most cherished vintage pieces.

It was tricky business, because there a lot of saints of course, and their simple appearance and plain portrayals  don’t allow for ease of searching. Just try doing a search for “saint in white and brown robes” and you’ll see what Ms. Jeannie means!

But luck or divine inspiration,as it might be, intervened earlier in the week which led one thing to another. Ms. Jeannie will explain…

It started with this collection of favorite items Ms. Jeannie curated on Etsy…

Gray Dress by natful
Gray Dress by natful
Cardinal Watercolor Painting by Splodgelodge
Cardinal Watercolor Painting by Splodgelodge
London Church Door Photography by Jillian Audrey Designs
London Church Door Photography by Jillian Audrey Designs
Antique Coral Rosary from theDeeps
Antique Coral Rosary from theDeeps
Cardinal Red Flower Pin & Hair Clip from ArtTx
Cardinal Red Flower Pin & Hair Clip from ArtTx
Vintage 1950s Mantilla Veil from Union Made Bride
Vintage 1950s Mantilla Veil from Union Made Bride
8 Vintage Religious Medals from Albrechts Antiques
8 Vintage Religious Medals from Albrechts Antiques
Vintage Set of Catholic Press Books from vintage archeology
Vintage Set of Catholic Press Books from vintage archeology
Mary, Mother of God Art Print by Portraits of Saints
Mary, Mother of God Art Print by Portraits of Saints
Cardinal Red Leather Tote Bag by Boga Bag
Cardinal Red Leather Tote Bag by Boga Bag
Handmade Vintage French Silk Ribbon Bracelet Cuff by Rubanesque
Handmade Vintage French Silk Ribbon Bracelet Cuff by Rubanesque
Vintage Concrete St. Francis of Assisi Statue
Vintage Concrete St. Francis of Assisi Statue
Red Rose Photograph by S Linton Photography
Red Rose Photograph by B Linton Photography
Vintage French Holy Water Font from French Provisions
Vintage French Holy Water Font from French Provisions
Vintage Ruby Red Glass Chimney from Albrechts Antiques
Vintage Ruby Red Glass Chimney from Albrechts Antiques
St. Peters Cathedral Photograph by Shawn St. Peter
St. Peters Cathedral Photograph by Shawn St. Peter

This is how Ms. Jeannie was introduced to Tracy from Portraits of Saints, who drew the beautiful Mary portrait…

Mary, Mother of God Art Print by Portraits of Saints
Mary, Mother of God Art Print by Portraits of Saints

Since her shop is called Portraits of Saints, Ms. Jeannie thought she might know who the saint was pictured in her icon. So Ms. Jeannie sent Tracy a message and wouldn’t you believe it, in about 10 minutes Tracy came back with an answer! (It really does help to ask the experts!)

Ms. Jeannie’s icon is a portrait of St. Clare, a detail from the Five Saints frescoe  painted by one of Italy’s greatest 14th century painters, Simone Martini (1285-1344).

St. Clare by Simone Martini
St. Clare by Simone Martini

St. Clare was born in Assisi in 1194 and was one of the first followers of St. Francis of Assisi, who our new Pope chose as his Saint’s name.  She ran away from home, cut off her hair, lived in a poorhouse, wore no shoes and ate no meat.  She founded the Order of the Poor Ladies (eventually to be called the Order of the Poor Clares) along with a group of women and lived in poverty throughout her life. She was canonized on August 15th, 1255, two years after her death.

Ms. Jeannie is so thrilled to be able to put a name to a face now! Welcome home St. Clare!

Thank you thank you thank you to Tracy for the introduction. And now you know if you have any saint identification needs, she’s your gal!

St. Clare Portrait by Portraits of Saints
St. Clare Portrait by Portraits of Saints