The Eames Shell Chair

Are you sensing a theme? I love vintage mid-century chairs. I mean, what would this era be without Charles and Ray Eames designs? They were a powerhouse design couple who met at Cranbrook and starting working together in the 1940s. They designed many chairs that I love in addition to other furniture, textiles, architecture, and even films, but today I thought I’d discuss their fiberglass molded shell chair manufactured by Herman Miller. It’s iconic and was originally made of fiberglass yet became the first mass-produced plastic molded chair. Production began in 1950.

Eames shell chair in olive green naughahyde with an "H style" base.

Eames shell chair in olive green naughahyde with an “H style” base.

I just finished restoring one of these beauties made of fiberglass that was lined in a beautiful olive green naugahyde. The chair was in great condition despite some rusty screws and threads which attached the base to the shell seat. One of the screws broke when I was disassembling it to ship to a customer. Luckily I was able to repair the chair easily and quickly! I ordered replacement shocks and screws. The original threads were embedded in the fiberglass. However, the new shocks had threads embedded in them and could be attached to the fiberglass seat with a special type of epoxy. All better now!

 Eames Rocking Chair

Eames Rocking Chair

These chairs come in many different colors, some rarer than others. The early versions of the chair feature “rope” edges and are very valuable chairs! They come in different style base styles including the H-style, effiel tower, rocker, cat’s cradle….just to name a few. They are a classic mid-century modern design that can be mixed with other styles. These are a great investment piece for your home. I truly believe these chairs are timeless, and will never go out of style!

Helpful Hamburger – homemade versions of boxed classics

So, I decided to make an updated version of Hamburger Helper.

You remember the dubiously creepy hand that bounced around on tables, driving fear into the hearts of women, men and children alike.  No?  Let me remind you:

Yeah, you saw how startled the dad was when he saw that hamburger hand man bounce out at him.

Anyways, back to my cooking experiment.  I’ve seen some remakes of the old boxed meal classic, giving the boxed meal a homemade look, and these blogs have made this meal look more appetizing than it actually is.  In their defense, I guess one needs to realize that cheese, hamburger and noodles will not make the most flavorful meal.

2014 2015 846

I followed Iowa Girl Eats’ recipe to a T:  http://iowagirleats.com/tag/hamburger-helper/

The pluses:  It was so easy!  Seriously easy.  Also very affordable.  I used whole wheat noodles, organic milk and grass-fed beef, so it was wholesome.

Minuses:  Not a lot of flavor.  It wasn’t bad, it wasn’t my favorite, though.  I do believe it was a close approximation of the boxed meal.

So the verdict:  if you like Hamburger Helper, try it.

Whatever your hamburger preferences, try making a homemade version of one of your favorites.  Stay tuned for my macaroni and cheese recipe.

The Peacock Chair, Hollywood’s Most Famous Chair

I had the pleasure of finding a vintage peacock chair that I sold earlier this week. Not only did I find one of a standard size, I also found a small salesman sample version that would be perfect as a doll’s chair.

IMG_20150110_122228075 IMG_20150124_124028875

These chairs gained popularity in the 60s and 70s and were the prop of choice in many famous photo shoots including those shoots for Stevie Nicks and Cher.They were also featured in many advertisements. Here is an example of Brigitte Bardot sitting in a peacock chair: https://www.onekingslane.com/live-love-home/peacock-chairs/

Doesn’t she look fabulous? Who wouldn’t look great in this chair!

Someone recently pointed out to me that these chairs were also featured in Adam’s Family TV show photos with Morticia sitting in the chair: http://www.imdb.com/media/rm1035581440/tt0057729?ref_=tt_ov_i

I even found a link online that states this is the hardest working chair in Hollywood. This link provides several examples of other actors sitting in the chair: http://www.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303834304579520052600155302

Apparently the chairs orginated in Asia in the late 1800s, most likely from the Phillipines and may have intially spread to Eurpoe during the Victorian era. If this is the case, I suppose the peacock chair is  a true classic!

I decided to leave the chairs I found in their natural state, but I have also seen them painted in really striking blue tones. In recent times, interior designers consider the chairs to be boho chic. They really can add  a great statement to your home! I’d love to see how you have used the peacock chair in your interior decorating adventures. Please share photos in the comments below!

Overnight dairy free whole wheat cinnamon buns

Cinnamon rolls are one of those foods that conjure nostalgia.  I’m not talking the ubiquitous cinnamon roll place in the mall/airport.  I’m thinking the ones your mother or grandmother pulled out of the oven.  Sometimes, from a can but ideally, made from scratch.

Cinnamon rolls are not that difficult, actually.  For some reason, a certain brand in American food has made us think that cinnamon buns come best out of a can. When they were introduced, an ad from 1960 boldly declared this “America’s new way to bake.”  http://goldcountrygirls.blogspot.com/2013/04/then-and-now-95-pillsbury-cinnamon-and.html  To be fair, this is a convenient way to bring this into your home, and in that era, I can imagine it was nice.

Anyone know that feeling of being startled when you pop! open a can of biscuits or cinnamon bun?  Just me? Anyways, baked goods involving yeast can freak people out.  I get it, yeast is finicky, it must be treated with respect, warm not too hot water, etc.  But the results are worth your trouble, let me tell you.

Here’s a little recipe for something better than the canned goodness:

Overnight dairy-free whole wheat cinnamon buns:

204

Ingredients:

1 cup dairy-free milk (almond, soy, coconut)

1/3 cup vegan butter

1 packet rapid rise yeast

1/2 cup white sugar

scant 1/2 cup brown sugar

4-4.5 cup white wheat flour (finer grain than regular whole wheat flour)

3 eggs

pinch of salt

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Glaze:

1-2 cups of powdered sugar

2-4 teaspoons of dairy-free milk

a dash of vanilla extract

Directions:

Add yeast to warm liquid ingredients and allow to dissolve.  Add eggs and slowly add flour until a ball of dough forms.  Flour a surface and knead dough for 5-10 minutes, depending on how vigorously you knead.

Allow to rise in a warm spot for an hour, covered.

Roll out dough and spread with brown sugar and cinnamon.  Roll up and then cut into equal-sized cinnamon rolls.  Place in a casserole dish, cover and keep in the fridge overnight.

The next morning, preheat oven to 375 and let rolls sit on counter for awhile, until the chill is off.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Mix up powdered sugar, milk and vanilla to create a glaze and drizzle on warm cinnamon buns.  Enjoy!

The Infamous Mr. Chair

IMG_1511

Mr. Chair designed by George Mulhauser for Plycraft

I recently acquired a Mr. Chair designed by George Mulhauser for Plycraft in the 1950s. Given that I have a background in industrial design, I am in love with this chair! George Mulhauser was a pioneer in the field and designed the chair to be made of a single sheet of plywood formed via a steam process. He is also known for the coconut chair that he designed alongside George Nelson for Herman Miller.

I restored the chair’s plywood and carefully cleaned the naugahyde which is in overall great shape, despite a couple minor picks to the seat cushion. Unexpectedly, the restoration process ended up being fairly quick. First I removed some paint scuffs from the back of the chair with acetone. (Pro tip: Acetone is the main ingredient in nail polish removers so they often work as a paint remover as well.) Next I used a stain touch up pen to conceal areas where the stain had been scratched off. This did the trick!

There was an area where duct tape had been stuck to the back of the chair, and I was able to remove the residue with a little “GooGone.” Finally, I used orange oil to condition the wood and it shined up like new. See before and after pictures below.

IMG_1501

Back of chair “Before”

"Before"

Back of chair "After"

Back of chair “After”

I was so happy to discover the original ad for this chair online! My chair has the exact same dimensions and base style featured in the ad.

Vintage Ad

Vintage Ad

Interestingly, my chair came with a headrest that was detached.I have seen newer versions of the chair with headrests, but they usually have a different base style. The ad above doesn’t depict a headrest for this version of the chair, so perhaps it isn’t original. Nonetheless, I’ve been trying to figure out how to reattach it to the chair. If you know more about this version of the Mr. Chair, I’d love your feedback in the comments below.

Headrest

Headrest

I found a nice article about the Mr. chair in a recent Dwell magazine article: http://www.dwell.com/product/article/mr-chair-george-mulhauser-plycraft

The chairs pictured in the article also do not have headrests.

Casserole, delicious!

Home cooked meals have a sense of the past in them.  In our modern era, it’s easy and convenient for us to frequent restaurants, get take out, or slap together a quick meal.  It is a privilege to live in a time and place where most of us have easy accessibility to quality food that is often prepared for us

But it is undeniable that there is an allure to the made from scratch cooking so many don’t have time for.  I grew up without many cooking skills. My mother actually did a lot of cooking, but I didn’t really learn how to cook until I was in my 20s, with the exception of my interest in baking things like a nice yellow cake with chocolate icing or peanut butter cookies, something along those lines.

I hit a point during the first year of marriage when frozen pizzas weren’t cutting it, and we didn’t have the money to eat out constantly on a grad student and bank teller salary.  So, I turned to Rachael Ray.  The woman famous for her high-energy presentation of pretty decent meals (and yummo! evoo!) made cooking seem accessible.  So, with her help, I whipped together some pretty delicious food, my favorite, the casserole.

What’s your favorite casserole?

Restoring a Mid-Century Modern Credenza

Beautiful 1960s credenza produced in NC

Beautiful 1960s credenza produced in NC

I found a beautiful mid-century modern credenza at an estate sale in Aberdeen, NC. It was designed to hold a turn table and a large collection of vinyls stored behind tambour doors. The piece was custom made for the home owner who was the producer of a furniture line in the 1960s. I wish I knew their name, but was not able to find out. It is a great piece for a modern household, because of it’s low profile. This design feature would allow for a flat screen television to be placed above or on it. The credenza was in near perfect condition when I found it. However, the top showed signs of years of use.

Credenza top showing age spots

Credenza top showing age spots

Some of the varnish was gumming up in places, so I spoke to an expert at a specialty wood shop and was told the best remedy was denatured alcohol. I used a clean rag to apply it to the top and it did get rid of the gumming issue, but underneath I saw places where the varnish was completely worn down to the veneer. I decided to strip the top lightly with a natural stripping agent made from oranges. I applied the gel and let it sit for 15 minutes which was quite less than the recommended 30 minutes. This was to ensure that I did not strip off too much of the stain. I used a kitchen scrub pad (as opposed to a scraper) soaked in warm water to remove the stripping agent after the 15 minutes. I dried off the top with several clean rags (you’ll want a handful that you can dispose of afterward). After the top dried I noticed there was some color fading in spots. Luckily I had a can of walnut stain, so I tested it by applying it to one of the discolored spots to see if it matched the original color of the credenza. It matched perfectly! I applied one coat of stain to the top and color was restored! After it dried, I coated the top in a water-based polyurethane (either water-based or oil-based will do). I used a soft angled brush to apply it and waited  2 hours or more between coats. I love the finished product! The top looks like new now and can be enjoyed for years to come!

The finished top.

The finished top.