Friday, July 30, 2010

Henrietta Lacks

This is the book I just finished last night and it was an awesome read.  The book centers around Henrietta Lacks who died of cancer in 1951 at a very young age.  Cells from the biopsy of her original tumor were taken and became one of the most important components in sixty years of scientific research.  Her cells are still alive today, still being bought and used by scientists around the world.  Up until recently, nobody knew where these cells originated and only referred to them as HeLa, the name given them by the original doctor who grew the cells.  But this isn't just a book about the amazing science, it's also a biography of Henrietta herself and the family she left behind.  This book was a well written, interesting and compassionate look at the entire Lacks history.  Well worth reading.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Recipe Strips

I ran across a strip of recipes in one of my cookbooks this morning, this was the first one of the strip.  

Doesn't it sound fantastic?

Of course, you can't eat your cake until you've had some dinner, right?

All totaled there are five recipes on the strip.  At the bottom of the strip was this coupon...

Unfortunately, if you wanted to get your very own copy of Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book, it looks like you needed to order it by September 15th, 1956.  Bummer.  I guess it's a good thing I already have the cook book or I'd be very disappointed!

Saturday, July 24, 2010


I gotta tell you, that key lime pie recipe is awesome!  I had a couple of minor issues in the creation, but overall, it turned out fantastic.

Issue number one was that I don't have a proper zesting implement.  I had a zester at one time but I haven't seen it in years.  I most likely gave it away in some kitchen clean out I did.  I also used to have a shredder that had tiny holes that would work in a pinch.  That unfortunately is floating somewhere in between our previous home in Nebraska and our current home in Arizona.  Along with the rest of an entire box of last minute items that somehow didn't make it all the way.  I'm pretty sure it made it on the truck because I did about ten final walk-throughs instead of the normal one before and after the movers left.  There was nothing in the house.  And I'm pretty sure it made it off the truck because I went through with the checklist and accounted for every box on my invoice.  And yet, I am missing a whole bunch of things that I used to use regularly and I have no idea where they went.

Anyway, so the lack of an implement to zest the rind made me try to use my other shredder.  Which has normal size holes.  Which doesn't so much "zest" as it does "peel" the rind.  I tried to only use the smallest pieces but after it was all together you could still see them floating in the pie. 

Like so...

The other minor issue is that when I went to pull the pie out of the oven, I stuck the thumb of my oven mitt right into the side of it.  I couldn't believe I had done that, I'm honestly not even sure how I did it.  But I had a nice indent in my pie.  I'm sure if you enlarge the above picture, you'll easily find where I stuck my thumb in.  Apparently, I'm little Jill Horner, only instead of pulling out a plum I'll come out with a chunk of lime rind.

But regardless of how it looks, it was delish!  Just look at this piece of pie waiting for someone to dig in. 

I made everyone wait while I took a picture of it.  Or four, or five pictures.  I had to get it just right!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Moon Valley Beauty

Here it is.  The home I was telling you about last week.  That I gave you snippets of on several occasions.  This is not a foreclosure, not a short sale.  It's just a (mostly) untouched 1968 ranch style beauty. 

The carved door in the foyer (there's that light!) surrounded by blue side panels.

The view from the foyer into the huge family room, check out those beams!  (The home backs to a golf course)

 A better view of the golf course right out the back door.

The living room off the family room.  A entire rock wall fireplace and more views of the golf course.  Parquet flooring in the bump out area.

A view from the living room back towards the family room.  Built in book cases, real wood paneling.  The paneling covers the entire wall to my left.

Standing in between the living and family rooms, looking back towards the kitchen (foyer to the right).
Two things to take note of: the rock waterfall looking plant holder and holy cow look at that loooong counter top pass through to the kitchen!

That's the longest expanse of pink tile I have ever seen!

And the pink tile just keeps going, wrapping around the whole kitchen!  Original curtains as well.

Pink plastic inserts in the upper cabinets.

Built in intercom system.  This house has all the latest gadgets, at least for 1968!

On to the master bathroom and it's original green tile.  They added a grab bar and shower head.  Check out the floating toilet!

The counters in the master bath.  Original medicine cabinet and light.

One of the secondary bedrooms with wood paneled walls and a built in, drop down, desk.

But wait, there's more!  There's a second, jack and jill bathroom between two of the other bedrooms.  And it's all blue tile.  Original medicine cabinet and light.

Last, but definitely not least, the laundry room.  Gorgeous cabinets from floor to ceiling along the entire wall. 

There now, didn't I say it would be worth the wait?  I keep hoping and praying that whoever ends up buying it keeps it pretty much the same.  Obviously the carpeting in the main rooms is not original, but with parquet flooring in the bump out of the living room, there's at least a possibility of it being underneath the carpet.  Without pulling it up though, I can't say for sure.

Having said all that, this home has been sitting on the market for 163 days now.  It was originally priced in the low $400s, but is now down to $370,000.  I think the problem is that it's too expensive for most flippers to want to take on (that's a good thing!) and a lot of people who would want to live on the golf course don't necessarily like the vintage feel of it.  I can only hope some vintage lover out there spots it and snaps it up before it's too late and we lose yet another beautiful home to the virus known as "flipper beige".

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


It looks like I forgot to set up to allow people to leave comments on my posts.  It should be fixed now, but if not, please email me and let me know that I'm still clueless :).  Thanks!

Upcoming events this weekend

Every Saturday night there's a informal car show held at 20959 N 83rd Ave in Peoria. It's in the old Safeway parking lot.  Since Safeway shut down at this location, there's usually plenty of parking.  There's a Panda Express, Sardella's Pizza and a Berry Good Frozen Yogurt shop right in the parking lot.  The cars start showing up around 5:00 pm so grab a bite to eat and then enjoy the cars. 

I went in late May and saw this...

For those into music instead...

There's another Glendale Summer Band Concert coming up this Thursday night at 8:00 pm.  This is a free concert held in Historic Downtown Glendale at the Glendale Amphitheater located at 5850 W. Glendale Ave.  Bring the whole family and enjoy a balmy evening listening to music.

Want something a little cooler?  How about Movies at the Museum? 

Head over to the Tempe History Museum at 809 E Southern (corner of Rural and Southern) to see free screenings of Pixar movies.  This weekend's movie is...

A Bug's Life - Saturday, July 24th at 11:00 am and Sunday, July 25th at 2:00 pm
Call for more info: 480-350-510

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Key Lime Pie

Last Saturday at my food co-op, I got handed ten limes.  Not being big drinkers of Corona in this household, I needed to figure out what to do with them.  It didn't take long for it to hit me that I could make a classic dessert with my new fruit and hopefully pass on a good recipe at the same time.  I plan on making this today and sharing it tonight with my family.

Key lime pie has been around since at least the mid 1800s.  With the advent of canned sweetened condensed milk, Floridians created this delicious pie.  At the time it was created, it was in a typical pie crust and would have been covered with a meringue topping.  In the late 1940s however, the graham cracker crust was added and refrigeration made possible a whipped cream topping.  So, the version I've included would have been the most popular starting in the late fortiess and through the fifties.

Key Lime Pie 

4 Large egg yolks
4 tsp lime zest
1 can of sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)
1/2 cup key lime juice
Baked 9 inch Graham Cracker Crust (see below)
Fresh whipped cream

Whisk together until thick and light green:
Eggs and lime zest
Beat in sweetened condensed milk.
Beat in lime juice.
Set aside at room temperature until thickened.

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Make the crust:
Using a fork, mix together until blended 11 graham crackers and 3 Tbsp sugar.
Add in 5 Tbsp unsalted butter (melted)
Put crumb mixture into 9 inch pie pan and, using a measuring cup,  press into the bottom and up the sides.
Bake on a center rack for 15 minutes (until lightly brown)

Remove and cool to room temperature 

Then pour the lime filling into the crust and bake for 15 minutes or until set (it still should wiggle when shaken).
Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.
Refrigerate at least 3 hours until chilled.

Top with whipped cream.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Book of the Week

I just finished reading this book...

It's a quick, fun read that will keep you entertained throughout.  Written in 2009 and set in 1962, it starts in Las Vegas.  The story centers around the gorgeous Marilyn Monroe, who believes she's being followed and reaches out to pit boss Eddie G. for help.  Eddie and his sidekick, the always hungry, killer for hire but deeper than he appears, Jerry Epstein.  We are also treated to appearances by Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.  I've never read any others in this series by Robert J. Randisi but based on this one, I most likely will.  A cool read on a blisteringly hot day.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Baby It's Cold Outside

I wish.

Instead, it's currently 109.6 outside with a heat index of 116 degrees.  And our air conditioner died last night.  This is when I look at my husband and say "this is why I keep asking you to let me live in an old house."  Because if we did, the dead ac wouldn't be such a big deal.

Because we live in a relatively new home, built in 1998, it is not as efficient as it should be.  Being in real estate, I hear all the time about "green" houses.  I know all about all the things that supposedly make homes built recently so much more efficient that homes built years ago.  But guess what?  Older homes were built to be efficient because they had to be.   Older houses usually didn't have an option of air conditioning.  But it still got hot in the summer so they were built to stay as cool as possible.

In the Midwest, where my first house was, older homes had tons of windows and used cross ventilation as a primary means of cooling.  My ceilings were high and the walls in my home were lathe and plaster.  The outside siding was made of asbestos, which is probably the most effective insulation you'll ever run across, just don't break it and breath the dust!  I did have an air conditioner on the home but I don't really remember having to use it more than a few times.  The house just didn't ever get that unbearable.

In Arizona where I currently live, older homes were built of adobe, brick or slump block.  Most of them have large overhangs, especially on the West side of the house.  And most of them used larger windows on the North and South sides and smaller (or no) windows on the East and West, especially the West.  There was generally more space between your house and your neighbors, which encouraged any little bit of air to come into your windows.  There was also a consistent effort to place trees around the home in such a way that they blocked the harsh western sunlight. 

Homes built starting in the 1980s and getting worse as time went on, were built with getting the maximum amount of square footage in mind.  In order to do this without raising the price beyond what most people could pay, builders started cutting corners.  The overhangs that used to help block the hot sunlight from coming into your windows started shrinking.  Over the last thirty years, they've shrunk so much that anymore, they're really more of a decorative bump out at the end of your roof than anything else.  Walls are consistently built with the bare minimum of materials, plywood sheathing over 2x6 with a sheet of drywall on the interior.  Sure, there's insulation but even with that on a really hot day I'll bet your walls are warm to the touch.

And then there's the lots the houses sit on.  Builders jam as many houses as they legally can onto a plot of land.  What we end up with are houses where we can stand at our kitchen sink and pass a glass of water to our neighbor as he stands at his sink.  And because we're so close, our houses effectively block any slight breeze that might go through.

We also don't believe in landscaping for coolness anymore either.  Because of our small lots (and some HOAs) we can only fit "dwarf" versions of trees in our yards.  In case you're wondering, a dwarf tree doesn't provide a whole lot of shade to anything but a play house.  And because of our small lots, most people use any decent size trees they do have to block their neighbors view of their yard.  So instead of having large shade trees next to the house, they line the block fences that surround our yards.  This creates lots of privacy but very little usefulness.

So back to my current issue...when the ac started to go, it was 74 degrees in my house.  By the time we got four window air conditioners in and running (about four hours later), it was 90 degrees inside.  It took us that long because we had to debate whether the ac was actually going, figure out what to do and go and purchase two new units from two different stores (we already owned two units).  So, four hours with no ac and the temperature in my house went up 16 degrees.  So much for progress.

Friday, July 16, 2010

It's the little things that count...

Yesterday was lights, today we'll look at a few examples of the details of everyday living that make vintage homes so wonderful.  You'll have to excuse the poor quality of photos as on the day I took most of these I had forgotten my Nikon and instead was forced to use my camera phone.  Moving on...

This wonderful (working) oven was in a foreclosure property built some time in the mid-late fifties.  My buyer was looking for something cheap, which this was.  He didn't end up offering on this house because he didn't want to have to deal with "a whole kitchen renovation".  Thank goodness.  I loved the pull out burners, what a space saver in a small kitchen!

A built in bookcase in a 1952 foreclosure (sorry it's crooked!)  You can't see it in this photo, but on the bottom there is a fifth louvered door on the side of the piece that opens up to a small storage space.  I'm not sure what this was used for but it's a neat little detail.

Here's a fireplace in the castle from yesterday.  The picture doesn't do it any justice and doesn't really show how HUGE this thing is.  This house is also built about four feet underground which is why the windows are so high up.  As a side note, the day I was in this house it was 90+ degrees outside but inside was probably closer to 70-75.  As a foreclosure, there was no electricity, hence no a/c, it's just that well built.  I can tell you that homes built more recently will be almost the same temperature inside as outside if there's no electricity on.  I trudge through those saunas regularly.

Here's a door knob from the fantastic 1968 ranch I was teasing you with yesterday.  I promise I'll show more eventually...and it will totally be worth it!

Here we have an intact, original window in the dining room of a 1952 home.  Lots of natural light in this home without there being direct sunlight heating up the place.

The built in bookcases in the same home, I love the trim details!

That's just a few of the types of details that can be found in these vintage homes.  As a Realtor, I love the charm these homes exude.  To me they are an easy selling point.  But I do cringe every time I hear someone say they would "update", "renovate" or "remodel" a retro home if they bought it.  I try to suss out their opinion on vintage before I take them out the first time.  That way, if they aren't somebody who appreciates the originality of this type of home I will usually show them homes that have already been "fixed' that way the damage is already done.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Lights in time

In most of today's houses, lighting fixtures are pretty standard.  Builders buy in bulk in order to save money.  And most builders end up buying the same cheap fixtures no matter what part of the country they're in because it's not about being original, it's about profit margin.

In vintage homes, there is some consistency in lighting fixtures by era, but it wasn't generally about what was cheapest.  It was about what was available and, more importantly, what would add to the home.  Builders had a sense of pride in their work, because their name was on it.  They used the same guys to build the houses from start to finish.  Every one on the job could point out the house to their kids and say "I helped build that." 

With that in mind, let's look at just a couple of different styles of lighting...

This dining area light is (or was) hanging in a foreclosure property that was built in 1952.  It had original tile in the kitchen and baths, built in cabinetry and this cool light.  The house was bought by an investor so there's no telling if the light is still hanging but usually investors will "update" these properties to make them more appealing to the masses.  What they end up with is what I call "flipper beige"...beige walls, slightly darker beige carpet (with "tile in all the right places!"), beige counter tops and stainless steel appliances.  But no character or originality. 

This light is in the stand up shower of another 1952 ranch style home.  This home was also bought by an investor after being a rental for years.  This investor kept all of the original tile in the bathrooms and the built in cabinetry and even replaced the stove with one more fitting to the home. 

Here is another light hanging in the same house as above.  I'm pretty sure it's a reproduction, but I think the investor did a really nice job choosing a fixture that looks like it belongs in this home.

This light is in the foyer of an absolutely gorgeous 1968 ranch that sits on a golf course lot.  I'll be doing an entire post on this home soon as it is as close to original as anything I've ever run across.  In the meantime, here's a small taste...

Now this last light is probably not something you would consider typical.  Of any era.  I found this in a custom built "castle" that was built in 1979.  As you can see, they carried the castle theme to their lighting in this hand carved fixture that hangs in the entry hall.  I'm pretty sure the dust wasn't in the original plan, but you know how castles are...

Obviously that's just a quick look at a few different styles but I thought it was a good start.  As I run across more cool details, I'll be sure and post about them.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Friday Nite Lights

If you're anything like me, you're probably trying to avoid doing a whole lot during the worst part of the day lately.  I've been spending a lot of time inside my air conditioned cocoon with a good book (or seven).  

Phoenix is nothing if not warm during the months of July and August but it seems that this year it might be a tad bit worse than normal.  Normally during the monsoon we get the benefit of slightly cooler temperatures to compensate for our slightly higher humidity.  I think someone needs to inform Mother Nature that she forgot to drop the temps and might have cranked the humidity a bit too much on us this year.  At the risk of causing raucous laughter throughout the Midwest, it's dang humid down here lately.  In light of the unpleasantness of midday, it's probably a good time to do more things during the cooler part of the day.  Which brings me to Friday Nite Lights...

On the third Fridays of the month starting in June, Historic Downtown Glendale comes alive from 5pm til 9pm.  This Friday, the 16th, head on down to Catlin Court (east of 58th Avenue and Palmaire) to enjoy some outdoor time that won't leave you feeling like you just climbed out your O'Keefe & Merritt.  Enjoy a nice meal or just take a relaxing walk on the brick lined sidewalks while listening to a local band serenade you.  And if you happen to find something you just can't resist at one of the local shops, well that's just a bonus in my book.

So, get your hibernating done during the day and convince your sweetie to take you to Friday Nite Lights.  It could just become your newest summertime tradition.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Meatloaf Dinner

Okay folks, it's Taco Tuesday here at Vintage Arizona Real Estate.  Every Tuesday I'll be featuring a nostalgic meal that will hopefully make your mouth water.  Today's main entree for will be a 1950's classic, meatloaf.  This should be served with mashed potatoes and peas and carrots.  Dinner will be followed by peach cobbler for dessert.  All recipes were pulled from the 1950 printing of Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book...

Fluffy Meat Loaf

Mix thoroughly:

1 lb ground beef
1/2 lb. ground lean pork
2 cups soft bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
4 tbsp. minced onion
2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. sage

Pack into a greased 9x5x3 loaf pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.  Unmold.  Serve hot...or serve cold.  For Catsup-Topped Loaf, spread 3 tbsp. catsup over top before baking.

Green and Gold (Fresh peas with young, tender carrot strips.)

Shell peas just before cooking, do not wash.  Carrots should be pared into thin strips.

Cook covered in a small amount of boiling salted water, 1/4" deep in heaviest saucepans...up to 1" deep in the lighter weight pans.  Boil for 8-20 mins for peas, 6-15 mins for carrots.
Serve mixed together and buttered.

Fluffy Mashed Potatoes

Cook potatoes until tender, not mushy.  Drain.  Shake potatoes in kettle over heat until dry.  Mash thoroughly.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add butter and heated milk (1/2 cup to 8 potatoes).  Whip into potatoes, beating until fluffy.

Peach Cobbler with Shortcake topping


Sift together 
1 cup flour
1 tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

Cut in fine with pastry blender 3 tbsp. shortening
Stir in 1/2 cup milk to make soft dough.


Mix together in saucepan:

1 cup sugar
1 tbsp. cornstarch

Stir in gradually 1 cup boiling water
Bring to boil.  Boil 1 min., stirring constantly, then add
3 cups sliced, peeled peaches with any juice on them
Pour into 10x6x2 baking dish
Dot with 1/2 tbsp. butter
Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Using Shortcake Topping above, drop by spoonfuls onto fruit.  Bake at 400 degrees for 30 mins.  Serve warm with cream.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Welcome to Vintage Arizona Real Estate!

My name is Kelly Tjon and I'm a Realtor in and around Phoenix, Arizona.  While I can and do help buyers find homes of all ages, I really love working with the homes that qualify as vintage.  For me, this encompasses homes built all the way up to the late 1970s.  Each era has a look and feel that appeals to me.  The incredible craftsmanship of the early 1900s, the detailed yet simple look of the forties and fifties, and of course, the clean mid-century moderns.

I have loved vintage homes since the very first one I bought when I was just twenty years old.  That first house, built in 1917, opened up a whole world of love for me for the old.  The heavy duty woodwork throughout, the leaded glass panels in the cabinets flanking the massive fireplace, the ornate concrete planters on the front porch.  The details all added up to something I just knew I had to have, even if the neighborhood was less than stellar.   

My next older home was actually newer, as it was built in 1968.  While lacking a lot of the decorative details that made my first house so appealing, it did have the same attention to workmanship that I appreciated.  Not long after closing escrow on this home, I pulled back one corner of carpeting in the back of a closet in a bedroom and discovered what I'd hoped for, original hardwood flooring!  My husband was more than fine with the carpeting and didn't want to have to deal with removing it.  So I did what any lover of vintage would do, I waited until he went on a business trip and started pulling it all up.  By the time he got home, I was working on removing the tack strip.  Once he saw how gorgeous the floors were, he agreed that it was worth the subterfuge.  The thing is, I am 99% sure those floors had never seen the light of day prior to that.  They looked like they had been installed and immediately covered in carpet.  When we went to sell the house three years later, those floors were what everyone commented on.

A few years ago, my husband suggested that I quit trying to convince him to go to open houses of older homes and just get licensed as a Realtor.  So I did.  Now, I get to see all sorts of homes in my travels.  Some of my clients insist on nothing but newer homes and I absolutely respect that.  Not everyone wants to live in an "old" house.  Not everyone wants to deal with some of the things that inherently come with buying an older home.  And not everyone wants to undo what the previous owners have "updated" in order to try and bring back the former beauty of retro real estate.  But some people do.  And this blog is for those people.

This blog is for everyone who has ever walked into a home they were thinking of purchasing and breathing a sigh of relief at seeing pink tile in the bathroom.  This is for everyone who appreciates a home that doesn't look like every other house in their neighborhood.  And this blog is for everyone who has ever pulled back one corner of carpeting in the back of a closet in the hopes of finding a treasure underneath.

Welcome home.