Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Egg Roll Soup

Egg Roll Soup

2/3 head Green Cabbage
1lb Pork, Ground
8oz Water Chestnuts, Sliced
1/2 Yellow Onion
2 TBSP Bragg's Aminos
1 TBSP Beef Base
1/4 tsp Fennel Seed
1/4 tsp Basil

  1. In a crockpot, add 1 cup of water, bragg's aminos, and beef base.  I use a small crockpot with two heat options - low and high.  I turn it to high.
  2. In a large frying pan, place your ground pork, basil, and fennel seed.  Start browning it.
  3. While your meat is cooking, go ahead and dice up your onion.  You can add this and the water chestnuts to the crockpot.
  4. Check your meat, make sure it's broken up into small crumbles.  You will want to make sure your pork is fully cooked!
  5. Chop up your green cabbage and put this in the crockpot.
  6. Once your pork is crumbled and fully cooked, add it to your crockpot.
  7. Add more water until you just barely see it.
  8. Let this cook in the crockpot for 4-6 hours.
I made this with the intention of having something that was like the inside of an egg roll.  I just can't have soy and I can't have the wanton wrapper.  I was super happy with this recipe.


Nothing big to report on today.

Got through the weekend.  We had the 3rd Annual North Pole Pin-Up Pageant at the Cruis'n With Santa car show.  It seems like it was weeks ago, but it was just a few days ago.  How crazy is that?  After the pageant, I went home and changed, then went out with some friends.  I never really do that and it was appreciated.  We hit Hoarfrost Distillery and had a chance to sample their new beet and allspice infused vodka.  It was SO DELICIOUS! 

I started The Great Purge, as promised.  I have my etsy shop up and running.  I want to see if I can sell anything before getting rid of it.  Lonely Hepkat ETSY Shop - Online Garage Sale!  Everything is $35 or less (except for the Shirley Temple dolls).  I'll be adding more stuff tonight.  I have a few retro men's shirts that I've made from vintage patterns.  You can also find some of my vintage-inspired hand painted fishing lures.


I've decided to start pinstriping again, so after work and the gym today I will venture out for thinner and mineral spirits.  I finally found a supplier in town who sells 1-Shot paint.  I can't believe it took me so long.  I figure that should give me plenty of new stuff to do when I'm not writing.

Ed's self-portrait

I am almost ready to put the finishing details on my comic book pitch.  I just have to crank out two more issues before I feel good about pitching my comic.  The artwork is being done by my friend from art school, Ed Watson.  You can check out his artwork at The Art of Ed Watson. I snagged his self-portrait so you guys can see how talented he is.

The comic book story is a sci-fi/adventure set in space.  Much of it is based around UFO literature, so you may learn something or you might pick up on a few things.  I'm pretty excited about it.  Ed almost has the sample pages done.


I've made it one of my new future goals to move -- always looking for suggestions!  If things go as planned, then: I sell my comic within 4-8 months, visit and make plans for moving to where ever, go to Viva Las Vegas 2019, and then I move.  Once I move, I can get to work on my other comic book idea.

Short term goals: put together a local AK Rockabilly art show with people from the local rockabilly community.  Really work on getting pinstriping under-way.  If I get really good, there is work to be had around here.  At least, that's what the guy at the paint store told me.


If you leave me a suggestion for where to move to here are some things to know:

  • No super big cities
  • Heavy traffic makes me absolutely crazy
  • I have two labrador retrievers
  • No southwest, tornado alley, or deep south.
  • Stuff to do is kind of important - I like to bowl, roller skate, hike, walk around a cute downtown area, spend time in cafes, etc.
  • I am interested in opening up a shop, so there has to be room for economic growth
  • I like being near an airport, at least within an hour of one.
  • I don't mind a little snow, I just don't want extremely cold temperatures.
  • I don't mind the rain.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Angry Times

There is a lot going on in my personal life.  For the last few months, I've been the new specialized bookkeeper at work - working with Masterbuilders, if you're familiar with it.  One day it was basically "Guess what?  You're the new bookkeeper and you still get to remain office manager and there is no immediate raise! Congratulations!"  With a deer in headlights look, I was pretty much like "Well I know what money is and I can write a check.  I know which bank we use.  Credit cards.  Payroll. Progress billing.  I know these words."     Just like that *snap* I was thrown into the pit of specialized bookkeeping.   I was not thrilled then and I'm not thrilled now.

That keeps me in a mildly uncomfortable state of being annoyed.

My dad and uncle have gotten themselves into a HUGE investment mishap.  I won't get into details about it, other than the fact that it's still ongoing and they keep paying the person they "invested" with.  It's probably NOT a good investment if the SEC has been round and round in court with the person/company.

Today is Day 2 when my dad/boss has asked to cash in some hours so he can pay this fraudulent woman.  I feel like an enabler and I do not know what to do.

I first heard about this when I was still in Portland (2012).  My first instinct was "this sounds like a scam, you had better stay away".  It was easy to stay away because I was in a different state.  Parents are super great at guilt-tripping their kids into doing shit.  I moved back to Alaska in Feb 2013.  It took about 2 months of convincing.  Now I feel completely trapped.

I feel like I can't get ahead on things.  I feel like I am trapped.  I need to escape.  I actually feel like I might need to severe ties with my parents until this "investment" thing is over and dealt with.  (NOTE: If you mention that to a sibling, they will tell you that running away is not a good answer.)

I would quit my job, but that's not financially viable at this time.

I have a comic book that I'm writing.  I'm getting the pitch put together while my friend in NYC is getting the sample pages drawn up.  All I can think of is that if I sell this, maybe that can help dig me out of this little hole and I can then move get the fuck out of here.

I'm so stressed out that I'm stress eating food that is not good for me (I try hard not to) and I constantly feel tired and like I'm on the verge of puking.  I don't want to talk to my dad.  I stopped talking to my uncle (he was never really around anyway, so he hasn't really noticed).  I want to punch the investment lady in the face and break her jaw.  I want to slam a coffee mug (not my new one) into someone's face (though I won't because of the headache of the justice system that it would bring on).

I am definitely looking for advice.

This bad investment isn't MY investment.  It really shouldn't be my problem, but...it's my parent's problem.  When is it okay to distance one's self and be like "it's not my problem"?

Also, I'm okay with pissing people off.  I would love to quit and be like "Dad, only YOU can fix this by cutting ties with that investment lady" -- would he listen?  He hasn't listened when the SEC called him regarding the investment.  YEAH.  CRAZY.  I know.

I try so hard to keep personal drama really low.  Bookkeeping - I'm getting it.  I have notes on how to do things and I have help from two other bookkeepers who know the software, if I need them.  Dad and Uncle's fraud "investment"....I just don't know how to deal with it.

On a more personal note, I've been seeing the doctor to figure out what the fuck is wrong with me.  I workout all the time with zero weight/fat loss.  Turns out that I have super low estrogen and my progesterone level was equivalent to a 65+ woman post-menopausal.  Now I'm on some hormone stuff to get everything back to normal, so I now randomly cry if I get too stressed and I get super moody and shit like that.  It does not help me deal with any sort of drama.  In fact, it leaves me wanting to live in sweat pants and a baggy sweat shirt all the time.


Sunday, April 22, 2018

Thoughts on Shops

I have often thought to myself "Jess, you should open up your own store".  My biggest problem is that I honestly never feel 100% about it - so I guess it's a good thing I haven't opened anything yet.  I have gone round and round since....meh.....2005, I suppose, in regards to opening up a rockabilly/retro type of shop.

If you're new to this blog, then let me tell you a little about where I live.  I live in Fairbanks, Alaska.  Around here, we consider Fairbanks, Fox, Ester, Nenana, North Pole, Ft. Wainwright, and Eielson AFB to all be part of our community.  There's roughly...130,000 people give or take a few thousand due to the military bases.

We have a '50s themed restaurant in Fairbanks, a real aluminum-sided diner out in North Pole, a top-notch Chinese restaurant with tiki bar cocktails in North Pole, and a sizable rockabilly community.  Surprisingly, it seems that the majority of rockabilly folk are in the Fairbanks-area.  Most would automatically think Anchorage.

We have no stores that really offer rockabilly/retro clothes, aside from a few thrift stores and some vintage options from the antique stores.

I keep going back and forth with myself on all of this.  I could set up a pop-up shop over the summer to see how it goes.  I could just open up a little store.  Will there be enough interest to keep me afloat?  Would there be more interest because a shop would be there?  Should I look for a business partner?

I know the products.  I know the wholesale options.

I could use some advice.

On a side note: Have you checked out my friend's blog?  Nostalgia a la Mode!  Fellow Alaskan and very good friend of mine.  I'm actually trying to figure out what to make for her annual birthday/tiki party....which happens in like 2 months.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Friday Finds!

It's another Friday Finds!  This time around the focus is on swimwear since summer is just around the corner!

At SwimOutlet.com - check out these Sporti brand swim caps!  These run $4-$10 and each design comes in a rainbow of colors.

Also on the same website, check out the brand Creative Sunwear.  These also come in a rainbow of colors and generally run between $4-$12.

For Luna has swimwear ranging from £60-£80.  One pieces, swimdresses, and two pieces.

Esther Williams Swimwear is popular for the Esther Williams suit style.  Prices range from $40-$80.

 Bettylicious is another great brand of retro swimwear.  Prices range from £24-£80.

Wanting something more 20s and 30s?  Sarina Poppy Vintage makes and sells swimsuits that range from $100-$125 range.

Merman Designs on etsy only sells men's designs for $57.33.

Unfortunately, there aren't many options for men when it comes to retro swimwear.

Before I sign off, I would like to tell everyone about my friend's FB blog called Nostalgia a la Mode.  She posts about vintage stuff, but really likes to make the occasional vintage cocktail.  Her latest one is The Aviation. 

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Pineapple Ground Meat

This is a paleo-friendly recipe that I constructed a month or so ago.  I've made it with beef and with turkey.  Both are excellent, but I prefer beef.  I realize that using the term "ground meat" isn't as appetizing as "beef" or "turkey" or "pork" or whatever, but the point I really want to emphasize is that this is good with just about any ground meat...you could probably put salmon through a meat grinder and it would work with this too.
Shown with mashed cauliflower

Pineapple Ground Meat

1 lb Ground Meat - Use what you have or what you like
8-12oz Pineapple Tidbits or fresh Pineapple, diced up
2 TBSP Raw Honey
2 TBSP Bragg's Aminos
1 tsp Ginger
1/2 Onion, diced
1 tsp Parsley
1/4 cup Green Onions, diced (optional)
1 Orange, Lemon, Lime, or Other Citrus Fruit
Sesame Seeds

  1. In a large frying pan, start browning your meat.
  2. While your meat is cooking, make sure your onion is diced up.  If you're using fresh pineapple, make sure that is chopped into tidbits.
  3. Once your meat is fully cooked, turn the heat to medium.  Add in the onion.  Let this cook for about a minute and a half, until it starts getting soft.
  4. Add in your pineapple, raw honey, Bragg's aminos, ginger, and parsley.  Stir gently to spread everything around in the pan.  If you choose to add in green onions, add in at this time.
  5. Take your 1 piece of citrus fruit, cut it in half, and squeeze out the juice.  I generally do this into a bowl so it's easy to remove any seeds that might fall out.  Once you have the juice from 1 piece of citrus fruit, add this to your meat.
  6. Let this simmer until most of the liquid has cooked down.  You may have to reduce the heat.  This should take a few minutes.
  7. When you serve it, top with a pinch of sesame seeds.
Serving suggestions (choose one or two of these): Steamed broccoli, tempura-battered cauliflower, mashed cauliflower, miracle noodles, shredded cabbage, or coleslaw.

NOTE: On the off chance that you happen to have a meat grinder and try grinding up fish, you will need to have your stuff ready to go since fish cooks faster than land animal meat.  Just be ready for that.  Good luck with your ground fish!

Friday, March 23, 2018

Living The Vintage Life: Projects & Hobbies

 The rockabilly subculture has a great emphasis on a projects and hobbies. If you’re aren’t sure what the difference is between a project and a hobby (and refuse to look at a dictionary), a project is generally a short-term creation with a defined start and finish; a hobby is a long-term interest in a subject. They’re not the same thing.

It’s always best to start with your current interests and hobbies. What do you like to do? What are you interested in? Don’t sell yourself short by saying “well, I’m not going to do it because I’m not good at it”. How will you ever get better if you don’t work at it?

When you start getting into the subculture, you will find that there are a ton of blogs and vlogs (video logs aka youtube channels) where people share their projects and hobbies. It’s not all hair, make-up, and clothing - though you do see a lot of that. You’ll also find stuff on food/cooking, cocktails, history, cars/kustom culture, antiques, art/painting/illustration/pinstriping, tattooing, etc. Most of what you find will be hobby/interest -based blogs and vlogs that have project after project after project.

What have I not see much of? Fitness and diet - sometimes you get a wwii rations diet or something, but not often. More stuff done by guys. Music - I’ve seen live stuff online, but not a blog/vlog that has day to day stuff OR reviews OR anything like that. Films, as a topic. Architecture or home remodeling or interior design. Camping and outdoor adventures. Lounge lizard/exotica culture. Books and comics - reviews or from writers.

Popular Hobbies & Projects
By knowing what’s popular might make it easier to connect with other people. These aren’t limited to having an online presence.
  • Make-up - How to apply, historical styles, reviews
  • Hair - How to style, historical styles, product reviews
  • Fashion - Brand reviews
  • Sewing
  • Food/Cooking - Trying out those weird retro recipes, general vintage recipes, reviewing restaurants
  • Cars/Kustom Culture - Rebuilding, trying out new coat techniques, kustom details, vintage camper trailers, motorcycles
  • Art - Painting, illustration, learning to pinstripe, putting your art onto things and selling, jewelry making, sculpting, photography
  • Music - Playing, listening, reviewing
  • Dancing - Learning, teaching
  • Films
  • Tattooing - Tattooing, art
  • Adventures - Traveling, camping, doing exciting stuff
  • Crafts - Woodworking, knitting, sewing
  • Architecture/Design - Buildings, homes, interior design, remodeling
  • History - wwii, post-war, cold war, cultural or social history of the 40s and 50s, code-breaking

It’s always good to have a few hobbies because it means you can entertain yourself. I didn’t even list everything. Personally, I spend a lot of time writing and am currently working on two comics (which I plan on pitching pretty soon). I know two guys, locally, who put together a radio show up at the local university - like an old school radio theater sort of deal, but with zombies taking over the city. That was a few years ago. The point is: have hobbies and don’t be afraid to do something with them! You might be able to turn a hobby into something you can sell on etsy. You might become the next go-to expert on something, depending on your level of focus.

Some stuff I’ve tried out and blogged about: the rations diet, learning the basics for the trans-atlantic accent, product reviews, sewing projects, and film reviews. I’ve also posted about my mini-adventures.

How To Start
Some people are absolutely sure that they don’t have any hobbies or aren’t into any one thing to warrant it a “hobby”. Take a class or seminar. If you really want to start blogging or vlogging, taking a class or seminar could be its own post/video. Whatever you go with, have fun or it’s not worth doing.

I also want to state that having a blog or vlog can be therapeutic.  You are given a platform to share something with others, you can gather opinions, and you will actually start to feel a bit more inspired to keep doing more.  Also, you get better at whatever your focus is on.

What you're going to find out is that there are SO MANY people out there who can't seem to take on projects or who have very limited hobbies.  They will be so amazed at what you can do!

Up Next: TBD

I really don't know what the next chapter should be on.  What does the peanut gallery suggest?

Friday, March 16, 2018

Living The Vintage Life: Entertainment

I will start off by prefacing this with “I won’t tell you to stop doing anything you already find entertaining”. My goal with this post is to give you the insight on some popular forms of entertainment that are being engulfed by the rockabilly community. You can give these a try and see if they are for you. Some of these can be done by the single person and all of them can be done with more than one person. If you are new to an area, this might provide some insight on connecting with others in your area.

Don’t be afraid to get out and do whatever it is that you like to do. The stuff listed here is just some culture-specific activities.

Car Shows/Car Clubs

If you have a classic car (a car before 1964) then you might look for a car club to join. If you do not have a classic car, you can always go to car shows. These can be fun places to hang out with car fanatics and other rockabilly folk. You can take pictures of the cars, ask people about the history of their cars, ask car questions, etc. It’s typically bad etiquette to ask for rides.

Maybe you have a skill that could be put to use with some of the old cars. You don’t have to be able to fix an engine to be useful. Perhaps you have: pinstriping skills, upholstery skills, custom mold making skills (for things like shift knobs), or something else that’s applicable to the crowd. Talk to people and make some friends.

If there are evening parking lot car shows (perhaps every Saturday night from 5pm-8pm a car club meets up in a parking lot), you can make the rounds after a date night or an evening trip to the ice cream parlor or something. The same goes with morning parking lot car shows (which happens where I live). It would be easy to grab some coffee and go check out the cars.


You can do this by yourself or with others. You don’t have to be on a league. Grab a lane, get some grub, and bowl two games. If you’re not used to bowling, just have fun with it and try to figure it out. On the plus side, bowling is relatively cheap. If you find yourself going often, you can get your own bag, ball, and shoes.

When I lived in Portland, I often went bowling (always) by myself. I would just crank up my ipod and bowl 2 or 3 games, trying this or that. I figured out what I needed to do and started increasing my score.  I totally sucked when I started, but I just started tweaking stuff.

Cocktail Parties

Cocktail parties are a big thing with the rockabilly crowd. You can have a selection of beer and wine available, but always have supplies for some kind of cocktail. You might have a friend who wants to play bartender. Cocktail parties consist of drinking, finger food, sometimes a main meal, and usually a party game or two. One thing I’ve learned is to never underestimate an old classic like charades, the who am I game (as seen played in “Inglorious Bastards”), and games that involve partners. Card games are usually excellent. You can have modern games like clue, cards against humanity, or cranium.

You can also combine a cocktail party with a barbeque or luau or murder mystery or some other theme.

Dance Class

You can’t go dancing if you don’t know how to dance. Look for swing classes. There are several types, but mainly east coast swing and west coast swing. Most dance clubs and dance instructors will have some sort of swing class available. If they don’t, you can usually sign up for private lessons.

After you know what you’re doing, or at least the basics, you can start going out to places to dance. One issue you might run into is location. Not every city has a jazz club or a place to utilize swing dance. This happens to be an issue of mine.


There is a resurgence of getting back to nature. This might be camping, hiking, or fishing. If fishing, make sure you have the proper fishing license from your state. Camping as a group is also a thing. Several couples have tents set up or use cabins in a close proximity of each other. Meal times are usually a group event. While camping, the group might chill at a lake, go fishing, spend some time hiking, etc. It’s a good time to be free from technology and to enjoy the simple things like reading, talking with friends, playing board games, and working on projects.

Garden Party

A garden party is different from a barbeque or a cocktail party. It’s often held in the afternoon and is more akin to afternoon tea. It’s a great way to socialize, show off your garden, and wear fancy summer dresses. Your guests can bring appetizers, but should not bring booze. If you want alcohol, wine is the ideal, but alcohol is definitely optional.

Game Night

Who doesn’t love a fun time playing games with others? Instead of just playing bridge, you can modernize game night to encompass just about any game you want.


Music is a solid part of the culture. If you’re not making music, go out and listen to live music! Want to find other rockabilly folk? Look for local rockabilly, psychobilly, blues, swing jazz, and cover bands. I’m mentioning cover bands due to Robert Gordon. He made it big by covering rockabilly classics.

Roller Derby

A lot of derby dames are rockabilly chicks. This is an exciting sporting event where the players are women only. It’s played on a flat track. It’s probably best to google how the game is played if you’re new to roller derby.

Up Next: Living The Vintage Life: Projects & Hobbies

Monday, March 12, 2018

Living The Vintage Life: Rethink Your Pad

If you look around the place you live, does it fit your lifestyle? Some people don’t care and that’s cool. I’m going to focus on the people who are interested in changing their living space to match their lifestyle. Heads up, the more in-depth you want to go, the more pricey it will be. That should be obvious, but people still seem surprised.

This section could be a whole series of books within itself, so I’ll give you the nutshell version, starting with Budget Finds, Home Design Plan, Kitchen, Bathroom, Walls, Flooring, and Other Stuff. One place I go to, all the time, is Retro Renovation (http://www.retrorenovation.com). If you need anything retro for your home, they are the ladies who can probably help you find it.

Terms you will come across for the 40s, 50s, and general rockabilly are:

Mid-Century Modern - The prime years for this was 1933-1965 and is highly sought after amongst the rockabilly crowd. It incorporates the International and Bauhaus styles. Key features are ample window space, open floor plans, and bringing the outside it. There is a solid design aspect to MCM with flattop roofs, butterfly roofs, decorative concrete blocks, decorative dividers from natural materials, textures, and a general minimalism for interiors. The classic ranch house came out of MCM.

Streamline Moderne
- This style emerged in the 1930s as a breakaway from art deco and a predecessor to mid-century modern styles. Key features are: horizontal lines, rounded corners/aerodynamic corners, nautical features, aeroplane features, lack of art deco excessive ornaments, and a sense of “industrialization, innovation, speed, and motion”.

Scandinavian Modern
- New MCM done by Scandinavian countries. The Danish and Swedish people have really taken over the new mid-century modern design world. This new stuff - mostly produced from 1970-present day - would easily fit into any mid-century modern home.

- Craftsman architecture mostly died out in the late-1930s, but you can find the style being built to the present day. Frank Lloyd Wright has his roots in the Prairie School of Craftsman design. The classic American Four-Square house is definitely craftsman. You will find a lot of hand-crafted wood and stone. When you think Late-Craftsman, think 1930s WPA. Parkitecture is derived from this style.

Googie - This fun style of modern architecture is basically “MCM does futuristic design”. You can find space age influences, spheres, domes, the use of neon, stars, starbursts, amoeba shapes, kidney shapes, atom shapes, diamond shapes, and anything that really seemed out of this world in the 50s and 60s.

Exotica - This is a decorative style that you might find associated with several design styles listed above. Post-war, people came home from “exotic lands”, and brought with them this new style. Design elements are: Hawaiian, Polynesian, Asian, Alaskan, and African. Exotica became a new style of jazz music (exotica jazz), the Aloha shirt became popular, and tiki bars became a thing.

You can find color charts for MCM popular colors, but let me start by stating that whatever colors you choose, you should feel good about.  You don't have to stick to any color charts, especially if you want to tweak your home design towards psychobilly or gothabilly or something like that.

Here are some color charts to check out.  Remember that you can also use patterns, not shown here.  Don't be afraid of plain, stripes, dots, leopard, etc.



Budget Finds

Everyone loves a good budget find. You can find them online, yard sales, estate sales, antique stores, ebay, etsy, and sometimes even for free. You would be surprised at what can happen when you express interest in an item. My tip in that sense, is never expect to get it, but always be grateful if it is given to you. I’ve always thought of budget finds as superficial pieces. Usually they’re very visual like a lamp or a ceramic piece or a figurine. Sometimes it’s an actual piece of furniture. I have a 1955 GE Hanging Refrigerator from the “Kitchen of The Future” collection sitting in the garage that I picked up for free. I just had to uninstall and haul the thing away. Holy crap, right?! I just need a place to put it now.

If you’re starting out, only look for budget items until you have a plan for your place. You might want to pick up some art for your walls, a lamp or two, clock, mid-century modern pieces, etc. I suggest not going crazy looking for budget finds.

Home Design Plan

Everyone needs some sort of home design plan. If you live in an apartment, you need to check into getting approval for painting or replacing flooring or whatever it is you want to do. If you are a homeowner or a potential homeowner, you have more freedom within your space. A lot of rockabilly people want to be or are homeowners. Isn’t that cool? The best I can do here is tell you how I approach things with my apartment.

I live in an apartment that I partially own. What it boils down to is that I’m a shareholder in my dad’s company and I live in one of the apartments above the office. As long as I get an “okay” from my dad, I can make alterations. With that said, let me tell you about my place.

The building (including apartments) was built in 1971. The apartments were set up with a very mid-century modern floor plan because my grandpa really liked that sort of thing. I have original walnut-stained custom cabinets, original real wood paneling, a Kohler peachblow bathroom (it’s an off-pink), the living room and kitchen are set up in an open floor plan, I have large windows, and a shared second-floor deck space with my neighbors (my parents).

When I first moved in, there was awful dove grey carpet with stains, the kitchen was wallpapered in a beige-neutral with floral border, and it just felt really stuffy/cramped. My plan of attack was to change the space I spent most of my time - the kitchen and living room. I figured that paint was cheaper than flooring, so I decided to change the kitchen first. I wanted to wait until the summer months to attack the flooring.

With warm wood paneling and dark walnut cabinets, I wanted something that would be bold and that would go with a tiki theme - my kitchen theme. It took awhile, but I finally settled on Pantone Macaw Green for the kitchen. It’s bright, it’s bold, and in the winter my kitchen is definitely not a dreary place. Below, under Walls, I’ll go over how to remove wallpaper. I knew, before painting, that while I was definitely using a bright, bold color that most would shy away from, the surrounding wood was going to tone the green down. I was even planning on adding MORE wood by putting a few tiki masks above the cabinets (between the gap between the cabinets and the ceiling). I got my kitchen painted over three days, finishing a week before Christmas.

As the summer months grew closer, I began scouring Home Depot and Lowes for deals on flooring. I ended up spending around $320 roughly on flooring for the hallway and living room. I got approval to remove carpet one evening, gave it 5 minutes (in case my dad changed his mind), and begun ripping the carpet out. I was able to get the carpet out in an evening. I picked up the flooring and made sure the space was clean. I tended to the subflooring, trying to get any squeaks out of the floor, which took and evening. I then started to lay down the new faux wooden flooring, which took 4 days with some help from my mom. While I was getting the flooring taken care of, I was also on a search for a showy piece...a mid-century modern couch. I found one through Joybird, got it ordered, talked to them about logistics since they don’t ship to Alaska, and waited for 12 weeks or whatever the wait was for my first couch (that wasn’t used).

The point here, is that I had something in mind before I even started. The couch doesn’t match the kitchen, but it fits into the color scheme of the kitchen - staying within a tropical color setting. My sofa is a tropical aqua blue color. Always have a plan when you deal with the home.

If you are planning on remodeling, even the slightest, you should consider the following:
  1. What color scheme am I going for?
  2. Will the living space flow or will it be choppy from room to room?
  3. Do I have samples of color, flooring, fabric swatches, etc?
  4. Do I have future ideas for the space after the initial remodel?
  5. Will the design I’m planning look good all year round and during holidays?
I suggest having a few options laid out. Take photos of your samples in different lighting - morning, afternoon, evening, etc. This goes for paint, fabric, flooring, countertops, etc. Narrow it down to your top 3 choices and definitely sleep on it before making a final decision. Something to try is using Pinterest to create a design board. When I was working on my apartment, I pinned digital paint chips, the couch from joybird, the cowhide rug, flooring, and some tiki masks. This helped me narrow down my selection of couch colors and kitchen paint.


Let’s start off with the affirming “YES”. Yes, there are reproduction large and small kitchen appliances. Yes, the big stuff is expensive. Yes, you can pick up some of the small stuff at a reasonable price.

If you’re like me, you just can’t justify spending $3200+ for a refrigerator or a fancy stove, despite it coming in those wonderful mid-century colors. You’re just going to have to keep your bland black, white, or metal large appliances for right now. You might be asking yourself: what can I do to change my kitchen? I was really hoping that Big Chill wasn’t going to be an arm and a leg.

  • Cheaper things to revamp your kitchen:
  • Paint
  • Wallpaper
  • Curtains (if you have a kitchen window)
  • Countertop
  • New small appliances

New decor

In “Walls” below, I have instructions on how to remove wallpaper and the basics on painting. It’s pretty easy, but it will take a few days. When I did my kitchen, it took me 3 days to remove the wallpaper and get everything painted. If you’re planning on using wallpaper, I recommend checking out: Double E Company, Bradbury & Bradbury, and Rosie's Vintage Wallpaper.

If you have a kitchen window, you can make your own curtains or find some with an appropriate retro print. After one loooong summer of nothing in my kitchen window, I made my own valence (one piece that is hung across the top of the window). I used cotton fabric with a tropical tiki design (found at Spoonflower), blackout fabric for inside, and 3” long aqua fringe. I don’t get direct sunlight through the window, but in the summer afternoons from about 3pm-5pm it shines right into the eyes of anyone sitting at the kitchen counter. The valence prevents that.

 Changing your countertop, if you have a laminate, can be a great option. Before you run to Home Depot or Lowes or elsewhere, I want to let you know that there are two major brands: Wilsonart and Formica. Wilsonart has an online digital library of countertop designs (https://www.wilsonart.com/laminate/design-library) that you can browse though and so does Formica (http://www.formica.com/en/us/homeowner-products). You can even order samples. If you go to a place that carries wilsonart, they should be able to order the laminate you want. Do not install it yourself. Have a professional install a new countertop. Another countertop option is to check out Heffron’s (http://www.heffrons.com) who only carry retro themes for laminates, stools, etc.

 Small appliances might seem odd, but maybe a new mixer or a retro microwave is what you need to help set your kitchen apart from the rest. Here are a few links to check out: Typhoon, Bella, Husky, Smeg, Nostalgia Electrics, and Suzie Q Retro. New decor can also be found at the links above, as well as: Retro Planet. This is a great place to start a search for mugs, canisters, clocks, dining ware, etc. Don’t forget that you can always go to your local antique shops and thrift stores for interesting finds.


 Gerber used to carry colored sinks and toilets, but now they seem to only have white, bone, and black. When it comes to bathrooms, the question always comes down to colored bathroom groups. I always try to stay on top of the colored stuff because...heck...I work in the industry. I work for a mechanical contracting company - we’re plumbers and pipefitters. Let me go back to Gerber. Gerber is not considered high-end, as Kohler or American Standard are. Since Gerber recently discontinued it’s line of colored bathroom groups (colors: Bahama pink, aqua, blush, wedgewood blue, sahara gold, dawn blue, spanish gold, powder blue, peach, petal pink, and citron yellow). You can check to see some past production colors here: https://www.plumbingsupply.com/colored-toilet-seats.html. I also recommend checking out New Retro Bath (http://www.newretrobath.com/).

If you are on a quest for a colored bathroom group, look on ebay, craigslist, your local antique stores, etc. Have you made friends with any realtors in your area? Have a realtor friend! Let them know that if there is a home being sold with a colored bathroom group, and the buyers want to renovate the bathroom, that you would gladly take the bathroom group as long as it’s in good condition (that means no cracks and has proper function). Does that sound like a headache? No sweat! You can add some color by using tiles, paint, wallpaper, flooring, etc. Take a trip to pinterest and start searching for “1940s 1950s Bathroom”. Start collecting ideas for retro bathrooms. You can also just add little decorum like hand soap from Dolce Mia which offers pin-up and hawaiian themes (https://dolcemia.com/) or soaps and lotions from Debaucherous Bath (https://debaucherousbath.com).


 Walls are funny. There is just so much you can do with them and they always have different functions. You’ll have to really decide what you want done with your space. In an effort to not make this a novel of a section, I’m going to suggest looking for visual ideas by browsing the web and pinterest. Crack open a few books on 1940s and 1950s decor. As promised, I wanted to give you basic instructions on how to remove wallpaper. You will need: a big garbage can or at least some big garbage bags, a 3”-4” wall scraper, a razorblade, a washcloth and access to water, and a steamer. You will also need a step stool or a small ladder, some way to reach the top of the wallpaper that usually stops at the ceiling. Wear clothes you can get dirty.
  1. The first thing you want to do is clear your space. If you are redoing your kitchen, make sure the coffee pot is out of the way. You might just want to use this time as a good excuse to really clean the area.
  2. Once your area is clean and free of your junk, you will want to peel off the top layer of wallpaper. The top layer comes off pretty easily. You can use the razorblade to help you out. Just don’t gouge the wall. You’re going to be left with a white papery wall when you are finished.
  3. If you come across any screws or nails in the wall, you should remove these for now. It’s much easier to get things done without the nail sticking out from where you hung that portrait of grandma. It’s also safer. You could split your hand open or something.
  4. After removing that top layer of wallpaper, you now need to remove the paper that is glued to the wall with adhesive. The best way to do this is to run the steamer over a section and then scrape it with the wall scraper. You can also use a washcloth soaked in hot water (only hot enough for you to handle) and run that over the wall before scraping. Do not gouge the wall! This will take you awhile. I highly recommend turning on the radio or listening to an old radio show!
    1. TIP: Clean as you go. Get a 3’ or 4’ section done and get the soggy paper into the garbage. You don’t want it drying on your counter or floor. That just becomes a pain later on.
    2. TIP: If redoing your kitchen, pull out the fridge and the oven. Get behind these two beasts. I suggest getting the wallpaper removed from behind them last and painting behind them first - so you can get them put back in place while you finish the rest of your kitchen.
Continue for more wall refurbishing. You will need painter’s tape, a 1” wide brush, a paint cup, plastic sheeting to cover the floor and anything else, a 3” brush, a hand roller and tray, and the proper amount of paint for your space.
  1. Tape your edges to prevent paint from getting on the ceiling, walls you don’t want painted, cabinets/shelves, counters, etc. If you have moulding in the way, gently pry this off. You can put it back on when you’re done with a small hammer.
  2. Make sure you have plastic sheeting laid down for the area you plan on working. Work in small areas at a time. Example: In the kitchen, consider the space behind the fridge it’s own area, while the space above the cabinets along one wall is a different space. If working high, make sure you have anything that can be dripped on covered completely.
  3. Prime your walls or use paint that has primer mixed in. I always suggest two good coats of paint. If you are putting up different wallpaper, don’t paint, just install your new wallpaper.
    1. Do the edges first with the 1” brush. I use a paint cup while I do this part since it’s easier to handle. I always paint a 2”-3” edge of paint before using a bigger brush or a hand roller. Take your time and try not to splatter or drip paint.
    2. Paint and step away! Let your first coat dry and inspect it. Sometimes you get that magic paint that only requires one coat. That’s not usually the case. You will probably have to use a second coat.
  4. Paint all your walls before laying down any final coats.
  5. Paint the walls a final time. Your walls should be evenly coated with the final coat of paint. If they aren’t evenly coated, creating a splotchy look, you will need to put on another coat of paint.
  6. After everything is dry or mostly dry, you can remove the painter’s tape, plastic sheeting, and any mess. During this time, don’t touch the walls, but definitely get your clean up taken care of. You can also move any large appliances or furniture back into place.
  7. Is everything dry? You can take a little paint in your paint cup and use your 1” brush to touch up any small spots. Let this dry and then you’ll be all set to put stuff back in place, hang pictures, etc.

When it comes to flooring, your basics boil down to carpet, wood/fake wood, tile/stone, and vinyl/laminate. It’s all based on personal choice. For instance, I really dislike most carpet and tolerate low pile commercial carpet more than high pile residential carpet. I took out the majority of the carpet in my apartment, trading it for fake wood. I feel as though I have a cleaner environment, instead of dirt hiding under a laid carpet. I also don’t continuously wear shoes on my fake wood, whereas with carpet I will always wear some sort of footwear. It’s all personal preference.
  • Things to ask yourself about flooring:
  • What do I like the feeling of?
  • When I want to be ultra comfortable, will this flooring provide that?
  • When I want to be fancy and have people over, will this flooring provide for that?
  • What color is appropriate?
  • Do you have pets? If so, consider your flooring and pets - hair, foot traffic, etc.
  • Is your flooring within your price range?

Other Stuff

When revamping your humble abode, you might want to think about the mid-century philosophy of minimalism. In a nutshell, Minimalism is reducing your belongings to provide more space for you to be yourself or to clean up your belongings so they become part of the space. A famous phrase from minimalists is “clutter causes anxiety”. Try to create space for what you own. If you have stuff boxed up out in the garage or tucked away in a closet, do you really need it? Why is it there? Holiday decor, okay. Seasonal clothing, okay. Clothing you haven’t worn in 5 years, it must go!

 Not everyone practices minimalism. It’s just a very common trend in mid-century modern homes.  I highly recommend the magazine ‘Atomic Ranch’.

I’m going to leave you with some fun online shops to check out.  You'll find some great links for altering your home to fit your new lifestyle.

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