I missed the last two Fridays – sorry, sorry sorry. To make up for my unconscionable neglect, here’s an early Christmas present:

The Gang: Silent Night

This somewhat drunken (?) version of Silent Night was recorded on Christmas day 1955 on a 78 rpm recording blank. The handwriting on the label reads “Party… Dec 25/55… Gang – Silent Night… at piano – Rita”

Moai Christmas

December 23, 2010

License to Smell

December 16, 2010

I’d buy this. Who wouldn’t want to smell like Sean Connery?

Found in a Christmas sale flyer for Zeller’s department stores that was lining a drawer in my parent’s house. No date, but clearly from the 1960s. Not the groovy, happening 60s of popular imagination, but the drab, cost-conscious Zeller’s 60s of bargain priced men’s “suedene” coats (with acrylic pile lining), Teflon cookware sets and “leather-like” vinyl purses.

The animated Christmas windows on Whyte Avenue are pretty swell. There are 9 altogether, stretching from 100th to 109th Street.

This one, with a monkey band playing for a dancing snowman, is in the window of Tin Box, a gift store at 105th Street. That’s my friend Jessica at the end pretending to be animatronic. Her frozen breath gives you some indication of how bitterly cold it was that night. Jessica thinks that every store on Whyte Avenue needs one of these displays and I agree. Back when I was a lad (in the 60s), one of the touchstones of Christmas was going downtown with my sister to see the animated displays in the windows of the Bay (Hudson’s Bay Company) store. In my memory they were large (much larger than the contemporary storefronts), very detailed and complex, told a story, and were totally magical.

Below is a “making of” video. The three monkies are vintage figures from a department store from back in the day. I think that all the windows feature restored vintage mechanical figures, placed in newly created settings.

This is probably my favorite of the windows, at least in terms of intricate detail you can lose yourself in – Santa’s Workshop in the window of the Wee Book Inn (north side of 103rd Street):

The candy factory in the window of Coney Island Candy (103 Street, near the Princess) is fun too:

Check ’em all out. Here’s the website with info and fascinating making-of videos of all the windows.

Have a Burly Ivesy Christmas

December 17, 2009

Burl Ives has been topping the list of search engine terms that bring people to this blog for the past week or so. I assume they’re looking for this:

and not this:

Thrift update

December 4, 2009

Some new thrift stores to report on.

Buy By The Pound is in the space vacated by the Bissell thrift store on 34th Ave. As the name suggests, they sell merchandise by weight (clothing anyway – housewares and such are individually priced). From their website:

“Buy by the Pound offers gently used household items. As with other thrift stores we carry all that our donors provide and more. We sell most everything by the pound being 1.99/lb for clothing, shoes and purses which you just can’t beat anywhere. You can get shirts for under a dollar, jeans for about 2.00 and household glass and china for .65/lb. Books galore for .25 for paperback and .50 for hardback – no matter what book it may be. Goods are laid out meaning you have to dig to find…. a true treasure hunt!”

Proceeds go to funding an orphanage in Burundi. And I see that the have, or are planning, another 3 locations in town. Website.

I met with some former co-workers for lunch yesterday and discovered a new thrift store run by the Hope Mission.

The Hope Bargain Shoppe is in a bleak, charmless industrial park in South Edmonton. Being as how it’s in an area of new subdivisions, the stuff is a lot newer than I’m usually looking for in my thrifting.

I do recommend the restaurant we ate at, though.

The very swanky Zaika Indian Bistro Bar has one of the better Indian lunch buffets I’ve tried ($12.00). There’s also an Indian food market next door.

And finally, the Strathcona Antique Mall has reopened on Gateway Boulevard, in the adjacent building that formerly housed Scona Cycle (in fact, the antique mall and Scona Cycle swapped locations).

The penny farthing atop the building is still appropriate.

The interior is large, bright and inviting.

Wilf Carter display in the foyer.

For some reason, there were lots and lots of beautiful vintage Christmas tree ornaments for sale at many of the booths. As promised, here’s some pictures of my new fake tree all decorated.

It’s looking a little sparse. I could use those ornaments I haven’t been able to find.

And now I’m off to shovel snow.

Where are they?

November 25, 2009

I bought these space-agey Christmas tree ornaments at Sally Ann 3 years ago and now that I have a tree I can’t find them. I’ve looked everywhere – several times – and checked my folk’s basement to see if I was storing them there. It’s making me a little crazy.

Thrift Item of the Moment

October 22, 2009

Collapsible Christmas Tree


It’s been years since I’ve had a Christmas tree. This one appealed to me because it folds down nothing and takes no time to set up.


And it looks a little odd and ramshackle, but in an endearing way, like it was drawn by Dr. Seuss.


15 bucks at the Sally Ann. Including the garland and some stray tinsel.


I also bought these beauties to add to my collection of vintage tree ornaments. I’ll post a picture closer to Christmas when I have the tree decked out.

Christmas fridge magnets

January 1, 2009





…all is bright

December 30, 2008


There’s no lack of over-the-top Christmas house decorating in this burg, but Maisie’s Magical Christmas house takes the fruitcake.


I took my niece and her Australian friend there last night for a little look-see.


It’s a private house, owned by someone who loves Christmas a lot


or maybe just really hates their neighbours.


These people have been decorating their house since at least 2004. You can see from these pictures on their website that it started relatively modestly but has grown to a scale that far surpasses anything done by any local department store.


Santa in his front door grotto.


Seasonal tunes are piped over tinny speakers hidden around the property – at least a half dozen different Christmas songs playing all at once.


A little nightmarish, really (I wish my camera had audio).


All the windows have animated displays.


Penguins and polar bears frolic together in geographic inaccuracy.


We found this basement window the most charming – a toy train makes a circuit of a snow-covered village with a working carousel and people skating on a pond.