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Happy Hot Pants Friday from the International House of Hot Pants and Smokey the Bear!

Something In My House: Moody Edition

It’s Debbie in Different Moods. I keep her tacked inside a cabinet in my office. Wouldn’t you? When I first put her in there, she gave me a start when I’d open the cupboard door, but it’s better than having her in plain view.  (Moreover, I worry that the packaging will fade if exposed to light.)

Debbie’s moods don’t exactly match her facial expressions.

Pretty sure they mixed up happy with furious.

Also, I’m concerned about the shape of her pony tail.  Obscene.

While doing some “research” on this doll, I found this Debbie Travels doll with her own assortment of valises. I think Debbie Travels needs to travel to a cupboard inside my house.

Apparently, Debbie is a clone of the collectible doll called Lilli who was based on a German cartoon. Lilli was a predecessor of Barbie.  Fascinating even if you find dolls to be kind of creepy.

Repost: Drive By

This is a repost of a blog entry from Oct 2008. The decorating contest I entered years ago was a fun learning experience and a good excuse to get my house in order.  It’s back to chaos now, so I’m hoping this inspires me to get moving on it. I think I want to repaint. Those two chairs are now replaced with chairs I like more. And my flokati rug is perpetually in the laundry. 

You can still see my set of photos of my apartment by clicking HERE or below. 

If you’re anything like me, you sometimes like to drive up and down the streets at night where the rich people live and try to peek into their windows. This isn’t a new thing I like to do. It was something my mom and I loved to do when I was growing up in Wisconsin. We’d drive around and listen to Vikki Carr on my mom’s 8-track or our other favorite, The Fifth Dimension with Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr. You know how you can think of a memory like that and you can almost feel like you’re right there, living it again? It’s like you’re in that car driving around together looking for the houses that have the lights on and the curtains open.

Soft, still summer air is coming in through the car windows and the night is slightly damp and cool. You see the glowing orange cigarette lighter as she pulls it from the dashboard to light one more cigarette. You know how you think back and you remember those nights? It’s like you could just sit there forever in the bucket seat next to your mom because even though “It Must Be Him” makes your mom cry because she is recently divorced, it is a beautiful night and you know that you’re really not there just to look at houses, but you’re also there because she needs you. She just needs to be with you.

Even though you’re worried about what’s to come because you know you’re going to have to move again and you’ll probably end up living in some dump on the West Side, it’s the kind of night where you can just forget about that for now. When you hear Marilyn McCoo’s voice singing “Wedding Bell Blues” your mom starts smiling and laughing and she sings along at the top of her lungs. For the first time in a long time, she really seems happy again. She seems like she’s going to keep it together until you get back to the driveway and head into the house for the night. This time, she might not even start crying when you pass the “For Sale” sign in front of your house. Just once, you think she’ll be fine just as long as you keep hearing, “C’mon and marry meh, Bi-illll! I love you so, and I always will…” coming out of those speakers.  It’s that kind of night tonight. The kind where I am standing on my back porch watching leaves slowly fall from trees because it’s a new season. It’s a time when everything changes and there’s nothing I can do about it.

What I didn’t know then is that I’d be the one letting you peek into my windows. I entered this contest yesterday. If you feel inclined, please post a comment about my house. I’m not really sure how much this matters, but the confirmation email that I got when I sent in my entry encouraged self-promotion. “Feel free to send the link to your post around to friends and family. Their comments and votes can all play an important part in this contest,” they said.

Please, come drive by my house and see what it’s like in there. I’ll leave the light on for you.

Cozy Spring Attire

This Winter, grab some of that Spectran™ yarn by the ball, hoist your knittin’ sticks and make yourself some fabulous acrylic ensembles sure to take you from the big chill right through the Spring thaw.

No you may not borrow that brown leotard. It’s our layering workhorse.

Happy Hot Pants Friday from The International House of Hot Pants!



After the Gorge Sale

Welcome to the day after Thanksgiving Sale going on at Lucitebox.

Please enjoy 30% off all merchandise. Use the coupon code TGIVING.

Should you have any questions about any of the vintage goodies that are for sale, please contact us here.

Everything is on sale. Enjoy our post TGIVING Sale.

Repost: Vivian Wore Leopard

This is a repost because I’m thinking of my family today on Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving, wonderful family of mine. 

I wore this dress to my homecoming dance my sophomore year in high school. It was 1983. I went to an all girl school so our dances were Sadie Hawkins type dances. The whole idea of asking someone to go with me usually made me feel a little sick to my stomach. I didn’t date anyone then and as far as I could tell, there weren’t any high school boys I knew who would be worth asking to the dance. I ended up asking Bob Smith.

I met Bob at an all-ages punk show in my hometown. Bands played upstairs at a bowling alley while adults sat downstairs in the bar and drank. I don’t remember there being any bowling at this bowling alley, just loud music, cheap beer (for those with fake i.d.s) and according to the Old Timers at the bar, a lot of “what the hell is going on with your hair?” haircuts and “excuse me, but why are you wearing that?” kinds of clothes.

Actually, it might have gone more like this:

Old man 1 drinking Pabst (we’ll call him, Lenny): “Holy Balls! What da hell happen’ to you?! Didja git attacked by a gardening shears last night?”

Old man 2 drinking Wild Turkey: “Nooo, Lenny. Cripes, hey. I think he got some egg beaters stuck in his hair.”

Old lady nursing Schlitz: “Ya Hey. At least he doesn’t have those safety pins in his face like that one guy. Didja see him before when he came down here by da bar? Oh my gaaad.”

You can probably imagine the rest, right?

To my mind, Bob was the best candidate to take to a high school dance that’s populated by rich, preppy girls who only date guys who play sports and have summer homes. Bob was studying to be a hairdresser and he was gay. I was flattered when he came up to me at the show and said, in his aped Valley Girl accent, “Like, hi. Like, my name is Bob. I’m a hairdresser and I LOOOOVE your hair. It’s sooo awesome.” I thought he had good style. He wore expensive loafers, good shirts and looked a little like Martin Fry, the lead singer of ABC. (You may recall their hit, “Poison Arrow,” or my favorite ABC song, “The Look of Love.”) I think he may have been the first truly out gay guy I ever knew and I admired his ability to negotiate “being different” in a conservative, working-class, small town. Going to the bowling alley was his idea of slumming. His prep-time before he went to the real bar–the gay bar–later that night.

But, back to the dress. This dress has been with me since the ’80s. It’s a home-sewn dress that my grandmother made for herself. Vivian was a farmer. She must have worn this one sometime in the late ’50s though I’ve never seen photos of her in it. When I got this dress from her attic I was about fifteen. I tried it on and it fit like a glove. She asked me if I wanted to keep it. I did and I have kept it all of these years.

When my grandmother died, I got her ceramic pink Flamingo figurine/thermometer (a souvenir of her first trip (and only trip) to Florida.) I also inherited her kitschy yellow and gold ceramic pig salt ‘n pepper shakers, a set of 50s low ball glasses in their metal carrying rack, her crazy snowmobiling helmet that’s covered in cow print faux-fur, and a stack of photos. And this dress–this dress that with one glance brings a flood of memories. It’s funny how clothes can do that sometimes. Just seeing something reminds you of an exact time and a specific place.

I am upstairs at the farm sleeping in my dad’s boyhood bedroom on Sunday morning. Chores are done and my grandma is waking us up asking, “Do you girls want pancakes or eggs for breakfast?” The answer is always pancakes…perfect pancakes in the shape of Mickey Mouse with chocolate chips for the eyes, nose and smiley face. Vivian made really good pancakes. Of course, her dressmaker skills were quite phenomenal as well.


It’s Thanksgiving tomorrow. I’m dog sitting and cat sitting, so I’ll be around quite a bit this weekend. In fact, I imagine I’ll scarcely leave the house except to have dinner with friends tomorrow evening.

Tune-in here or on Facebook where I’ll announce a Black Friday sale soon.  It’s a good one, so be sure to stop by and gobble up some vintage from Lucitebox.

I love this photo. It’s from Life Archives, a site for which I’m very thankful. (Among many, many other things!)

It’s All About Proportion

There are scores of women’s fashion magazines that include tutorials on how to dress for your body type. These articles are often flawed. In their zeal to help you put together outfits that make you appear slimmer, fashion editors often forget the most logical way that you can make your body look smaller.

Here’s an International House of Hot Pants tip: If you want to look hotter in your hot pants, you’ve got to make your hair bigger. Much, much bigger.

Happy Hot Pants Friday, Poodles!



Something In My House: Thursday Edition

Hello, people! I had a vacation and then I had vacation recovery.

Now it’s Thursday and I missed blogging so I decided to show you this amazing home that was recently featured on Retro Renovation (This blog has been on my sidebar for ages. “Not so guilty pleasure,” indeed!)
You are probably saying to yourselves, “What? That house looks pretty ’80s Ms. Lucite and that’s not your style at all!”  You’d be correct and I would be getting myself some paint and redoing a few things in there, but here is the draw, my friends.
Lordy! When I saw this beautiful bowling alley basement that’s original to this ‘ 60s ranch, I was clutching mah pearls. Isn’t it something?! And the exterior of the house is stunning with a huge yard with lots of trees. What a gorgeous place this is. See the realtor’s photos here. It’s for sale and it’s affordable. We should all pitch in and buy this vacation home.
This leads me to today’s “Something in my House” photos.  I love bowling. I used to go bowling weekly with a group of friends. We weren’t on a league or anything like that, just the same six people showing up, knocking ‘em down (pins and beers.)  We were team Balls of Steel. I’m going bowling this weekend and this is the thing I’m bringing with me. It’s my very own tooled leather bowling ball bag given to me by my friend Danny who blogs about movies here. (Another “no so guilty pleasure” in my sidebar.)
How great would it be to invite friends over for bowling?
I’d make some snacks for us all. When I’m in the kitchen, I’ll be wearing this lovely apron over my 1950s gray and red bowling dress.
So…who’s with me? Let’s buy this house!

A Tweed Ride and A Bespoke Kilt

I started to come into my own when MTV hit my best friend’s livingroom television set. I think her p’s (as we called her parents) got cable  in 1982. Paired with the New Wave music that we loved to listen to, the glowing light of  MTV was the ultimate springboard for our style and fashion sensibility. New wave bands wore outrageous clothes and had the hair and makeup to match. Of course, we wanted all of that, too!

Enter my first kilt. I found it in a thrift store at the height of my love affair with Lena Lovich, Bananarama, Fun Boy Three, Nina Hagen, Cyndi Lauper, Boy George, Holly & The Italians, Josie Cotton, et al.

I was quick to make that skirt my own statement piece by adding what I thought were New Wave-ish accessories. I wore it with a white men’s shirt, a black skinny tie and several spiked and studded belts.  At the time, no look was complete without my favorite pair of gray safety glasses.  Nevermind that I didn’t need glasses and I am not Scottish. My punky Scotswoman schoolgirl uniform not only looked rad (er…sort of…), but it was also my way of thumbing my nose at the historic roots of this very traditional, conservative skirt. After all, there were plenty of preppy girls in my school who wore the skirt with chunky cable sweaters and knee-high socks and penny loafers. I paired mine with fishnets and men’s ’60s oxfords or a pair of strappy 80s kitten heel shoes for evening.  My  kilt was a black and red based plaid. If there was any tartan that was the epitome of Highlander chic, this was it.  Later, I learned it was the Black Stewart tartan.

This past Spring, my favorite friends took a trip to Scotland and asked me if I wanted them to bring me anything. I suggested a kilt and requested that they look for something Black Stewart. Imagine my delight when they told me that a kilt was being made expressly for me (made to measure(!!!)) and would arrive in a few weeks.

My bespoke beauty is from Geoffrey Tailor in Edinburgh.  There I am in the top photo with my friend Ashley sporting this kilt at last weekend’s Guy Fawkes Day Tweed Ride. Here are a few more photos from that blissful, sunny Saturday bicycle ride.

I don’t imagine I’ll ever layer three belts on my hips or a don another pair of safety glasses for fashion’s sake. Now that I’m middle aged, I’m less rebellious and have brought my kilt back to its more classic, traditional styling.

For what it’s worth, Geoffrey Tailor makes a great kilt. The fabric is the perfect light to mid-weight wool. It doesn’t wrinkle or pill. It doesn’t itch and it seems to actually breathe a little bit. The pleats are razor sharp. After eight hours plus of cavorting in this skirt (on a bicycle, no less), the pleats look as fresh as they did when they were tacked by the tailor. I’m looking forward to getting a lot of mileage out of this skirt!

Also, you need to see my favorite tweed ride participant looking adorable in knickers and a houndstooth jacket with velvet piping and buttons. Of course, that’s Ashley’s kid.

This is Ashley’s blog, One Less Mini Van. As you’ve surmised, she’s a cycling advocate and obviously a very stylish lady. Her old man rode the kid in the cargo bucket of their awesome pink Joe Bike.  I love it that the kid still has her Halloween costume helmet.

Sorry that this post is dull. I realize now that selecting outfits and riding bicycles are things that are much more fun to do than to describe.

Go do some of that yourself this week. You’ll see what I mean.


[Thanks for the photos, Ashley. And thanks to Sir John Ladner for the bonfire photo and a fabulous Tweed Ride !]