Thursday, December 31


Yes, it's true. In Phoenix we do drape our Saguarro cactus with Holiday lights!!

And aside from the whole darn city being one wide midcentury paradise, there is rather nothing modern about it EXCEPT that it looks so darn cool!

Monday, December 21

Sugar Cookie Recipe Circa 1966

I love to make things for the people in my life, from silly hand-made gifts to serious art. The Holidays with their fat-intensive sweets are no different and to me nothing says Christmas more than SUGAR COOKIES!!

I doubt that the classic sugar cookie recipe has changed over the years, but just in case, here is the standard from my Mother's 1966 recipe collection:


  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 1/2 cup cake flour
Roll out and bake 375 degrees for 6 to 8 minutes. Allow to cool, preferably overnight, and then frost! Makes 8 DOZEN cookies!

If you design some great modern looking sugar cookies (or an architectural ginger house masterpiece) please send me the pics!

UPDATE: Found several other Sugar Cookie recipes plus frosting/decorating tips from the same recipe tin :

  • 1/2 cup Crisco oil or butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soad
Mix dry ingredients. Blend shortening and sugar. Blend egg into shortening/sugar mix. Add vanilla. Blend all ingredients. Flour a bread board, flour rolling pin. Roll dough thin to 1/4". Bake 350 degrees about 5 to 9 minutes. Be careful! They burn quickly!

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Water
Cream butter in large mixing bowl. Add sugar; beat until fluffy and light. Beat in egg and Vanilla until well blended. Gradually mix in flour and salt until well blended. Beat in water a few drops at a time until dough comes away from sides of bowl. Shape dough into large flat disk and refrigerate 2-3 hours. Preheat oven to 350. Roll dough on lightly floured surface to 1/8 thickness. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until cookies brown around edge. Cool completely on wire racks. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.


Put some powdered sugar in a bowl and add water or milk until desired consistency. Color with food colors or smooth onto cookie plain white.

Friday, December 18

Just a reminder-- Phoenix Envy!

I came across this pre-light rail (2008) article in Dwell today: Phoenix Envy, and wanted to share it with you.


Well, in just a few paragraphs, grand modern architect Will Bruder identifies the highlights of his choosing in Phoenix from architecture to cuisine. Now, I can strongly suggest this article omits more than it includes and is highly edited (nobody talks in fluid cogent article-ready conversation!) BUT, that being said, I think the included list of places and things to do and see is a great start. I was especially glad to see Cosanti pointed out as a key spot. Additionally the article online includes a slide show of very good quality and you know how I love photography.

So you say you already know these things? Alrighty then-- add some of your own with your comments, or new links! And yes, I will publish photos too!

Sunday, November 1

UPHOLSTERING PRIMER --You Want to Read This!

You know all about The Find! That cast-off mid-century chair in the dumpster or alley you Find! And it ALWAYS needs some cushions or a whole makeover. Sometimes you can DIY, but sometimes not. In the not category you can find yourself with a great Find that ends up Found-- by someone else after you toss it back in the alley!!

Here is my Find for today: From RE-NEST, a great 4-part article on thinking through professional upholstering BEFORE you commit...
  1. An Upholstering Primer: Part 1 of 4 — Consider Your Furniture: Guest Post from Matthew Haly of The Furniture Joint

  2. Finding a Good Upholstery Atelier

  3. The Truth About Green Upholstery

  4. All About Fabric

Sunday, October 18


Phoenix is FAMOUS among modern collectors for its utter riches. Who knows why? Maybe it was the eventual accessibility of air-conditioning-- maybe not-- but in post WWII America, development for Arizona went ON the map!

Today, tract home neighborhoods of predominantly ranch-modern 'estates' are hitting the market and we are AWASH in a veritable Gold Rush of modern goodies, and week-ends are the time for modernists and modernistas to go panning for some of that gold themselves.

Although record-setting hot, Antique Trover's like myself were out for the store's first parking lot sale. The two beauties here were available from fellow Trover Marc Levell (booth #232) and are just two examples of what YOU could have snagged. For example, the bamboo chest was just $5.00...

SHAMELESS PLUG: Okay. Sign up for the MODERN LIFE ONLINE Update newsletter, and next time you will be there-- and with a special discount coupon for added $$'s-off in yours-truly's booth (MODERN LIFE #4941).

Monday, October 12


LUCITE JESUS, originally uploaded by MODERN LIFE Online.

This three-angle reflection from within a solid Lucite-encased 'floating' Jesus cross, is just one of many angle combinations. LUCITE JESUS is currently on view and available through MODERN LIFE at Antique Trove, Scottsdale, AZ.

Friday, July 31


Paolo Soleri, the Utopian architect, built an "earth house" (1956-1958), just a few miles from Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West. The earth house explored natural forms and building techniques. The partially subterranean complex, named Cosanti, incorporated residences, ceramics studios, and apprentice quarters. Based on passive solar principles, the structures are still cool in the hot desert days and warm at night. 25 x 35 ft, 6 ft below the level of the desert floor, Cosanti is covered by a 3-in.-thick curved and ribbed shell roof and exposed to inquisitive visitors most days of the year

Today, the painted colors are faded and heat off the concrete lifts your breath away. It's hard to imagine this site being excavated in the undeveloped desert of 1950's Scottsdale; summer without air conditioning, cold winter nights so dry your skin can crack.

But the excitement of working with Soleri, within miles of Wright's western hub, urban development in Phoenix and Scottsdale exploding. How could it have been anything but exhilarating?

Saturday, July 18

Precarious Modern!

Half the fun of cruising Modern in 110+ degree summertime Phoenix is discovering the odd modern home or apartment complex. This one sits literally atop a hill near Butler and 7th Street in the Sunnyslope area!

Friday, July 17

A Few Words About Modern Life

Why I started Modern Life
The variety of unexpected textures and shapes, colors and styles that are considered 'modern' always surprise me! Nubby and wavy glass from the 70's, kitschy and playful chotchkies from the 60's and 40's, colorful kitchenware, sophisticated furniture-- almost anything that gives a sense of the newness of the times and hope for inventing the future-- evokes modernism for me.

Pieces that Compliment not Dominate
You undoubtedly had a relative with at least one unusual looking piece of 'Modern'. From some nubby golden kitchen glasses to sheen-clad aluminum picnic tumblers, just one or two pieces were sometimes all the actual "modern" the average America home other words, pieces that consciously broke from the design influence of the past.

Frank Lloyd Wright and My Mother
Who in your family's past was influenced by modern design? In my case it was my mother. Frank Lloyd Wright's extraordinary creativity marked my mother's design choices. From our nubby-rough mushroom colored formal couch to the matching inlaid paneling on the room dividers (not to mention the floor to ceiling windows of our manufactured ranch home in Ohio) modernism rumbled through our lives. What I wouldn't give today to have the wrought iron butterfly chair I settled into watching 1950's teevee! Thankfully, I have her entire collection of Frank LLoyd Wright-inspired House Beautiful magazines!

Modern and me
The difficulty for modern and me today is bearing up under the hipsters and Gen-whatevers whose connection to the period is a parent, grand-parent, college introduction or thrift-store find. Their modern romance lives in a compressed decontextualized world where the cool is mostly style and the social change is depasse. I hate to say it but God, some of them can be soooooo full of it!

Hey, this would be only a marketing blog for a modernist seller-- not a real one-- if there were no PERSONAL voice (whining), right?