Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Small Happy Things

We spent the day purchasing items for a terrarium. I have moss, and rocks, and sea glass, and plants. There will be porcelain turtles, mushrooms, and perhaps a fairy or two. This time of year I'm happy for any bit of green I can find. There are primrose on my windowsill, micro lettuces, and thriving herbs. Trips to the garden centre keep me sane these long, Midwestern winter months.

Quite by accident, I found a packet of paper straws for sale. I very nearly cried at the happy sight of paper straws. Red, with tiny white hearts the straws are intended for Valentine's, but I can't wait two weeks to use them. Lemonade it will be, January weather be damned!

The library, the garden centre, the craft store, the organic green grocer. If I can keep this a weekly routine, I might just survive until spring.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

1970's Dress Set

Ignore for the moment that the dress is five sizes too large, and admire the great print.
(I like how I'm being photobombed by my kid).
I try to tread carefully in 70's fashion area, as I was old enough to wear these clothes the first go round. I ask myself, is it Mary Tyler Moore, or Nan? The former, we're cool, the later, away it goes. As this outfit was borderline, I put on some shoes my grandmother never would have worn.
These shoes by the way, are demonic. I'm afraid my toes will never be the same again. They were however, easy to walk in otherwise.

We skipped the "Owl thing" because the weather turned bad, and I didn't want to be far from home. Instead, we happened by a bookstore where I noticed this...
I suppose that's better than a hopeless romantic, but it does have a bit of the "love 'em and leave 'em" to it. Better a serial romantic than a serial shagger. Maybe.

Outfit Particulars:

1970's dress set by Amy Addams-Thrift World .99 cents
Green Coro Necklace-Imaginarium, Omaha
Blue Stranded beads-thrifted Goodwill
Green shoes from hell-Charlotte Russe, Thrifted Goodwill
Crystal and pearl 50's earrings-Thrift America .99 cents
Handbag-Thrift World
Bangles-thrifted all over

I don't feel this dress is worth the work it would take to make it fit properly, so it will likely move along to someone that can wear it better. That's the great thing about vintage clothing-someone will be thrilled to have it.

Last evening we watched Harold and Maude. Danny liked it, though he was irritated with the ending, but he is only nine. Tonight we're watching, Some Like it Hot.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Auto Show 2014

Here Danny demonstrates how to stick your nose in the air whilst driving an expensive car. "Snoot, snoot, big snoot driving through."

Oh, OK right-you need your nose higher for a BMW. Much better.

I think we all know how I typically look in a car...

If this was what Detroit thought would woo consumers back into the showrooms...I don't think it is going to happen. This was the first year I left the show without any catalogues, or make and model information. The word, uninspired comes to mind. We did however get to play with the various cars, which is always a good way to spend an afternoon in January.
Outfit Particulars:
Hat: K-Mart
1970's Wool Skirt by Panther-thrifted
Belt-Can't remember
Venetian glass earrings-bought in the 80's
Amethyst ring-gift years ago
Brooch-Carolee, 80's
There were some classic cars on show as well. If they made cars like that, I'd buy one.

OK, forget the about a Vespa? I could see myself on one.
Danny looks embarrassed. I haven't any idea why.

I did manage to hit a thrift store on the way home, and found all sorts of wonderful 60's and 70's gems. The best of the lot was a red ensemble with a long coat (and polka dot novelty lining) but there's a yellow bell bottom pantsuit as well. I'm sure they will feature on the blog soon.

Now, to the "Owl thing" tomorrow.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Wiggle Dress (Sounds Like More Fun Than It Is)

Ideally, this would be worn with a one piece, but I'm lazy, and don't like having my ribs crushed beneath spandex. I can live with my rolls and lumps if you can. If you can't, then fuck off.
No, these dresses are not made for modern life. I drive a 1993 Ford Tempo. I'm sure the neighbours had a good laugh watching me attempt to slide into the car without bending, or stretching my legs.
Looking at the wonderful print, it is easy to understand why I suffer through wearing this dress. The fabric is silky, but not silk or taffeta. I'm not sure what it is made of, but it is beautiful, comfortable, and for a mid-century fabric, breathes a little-a rarity.

Finding a jacket to wear with this dress was tricky. I settled on this 60's suit jacket. The photo does not show well, but the colour is the same coppery hue as the dress. I look good in browns and rust.
 Outfit Particulars:

1960's (or very late 50's) wiggle dress: A long-gone store in Portsmouth, NH
Jacket: Part of a 60's suit purchased somewhere in Boston in the 90's
Earrings: Thrift America .99 cents (they were covered in rust, but they cleaned up perfect)
Bangles: Thrifted here and there.
Egyptian revival brooch-Mum's
Floral ring-Goodwill

 You would not believe how bad these earrings looked when I bought them.

Green nail varnish. Coral lippy. What the hell was I thinking? Truthfully, I love coral lipstick, but it doesn't love me. Boo.
I'm headed to the auto show this weekend, and an, "Owl Thing" at the nature centre.  I'm only attending the owl thing because there's a thrift store in town I want to check out. Owl let you know if it is a hoot or not.
*Be grabbing my hat now*

Have a lovely weekend.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Films at the Weekend

We instituted a family movie policy last summer where we watch at least one film per weekend. Our library system has a wonderful selection of classic films, and we've taken full advantage of it. We also joined Film Streams, primarily for the live simulcasts from the Met during the season, but we've taken advantage of it for other films as well.

Danny has a better attention span than the typical nine year old, which has enabled us to watch longer films. We try to balance dramas with musicals, horror with comedy, and so on. Sometimes those overlap in the same film, but we are trying to give him a varied selection.

Here's a shortened list of some films we've watched recently-feel free to add suggestions in the comments.

Macbeth (the Orson Welles, and a newer one)
Richard III (the Olivier one)
Henry V
The Towering Inferno (which was much better than I remembered)
Camelot (which was much worse than I remembered-and LONG!)
Bringing Up Baby
The Most Dangerous Game
The Railway Children (a PBS version that was just OK. Should have sought out the original)
Shirley Chisholm, Unbought and Unbossed (excellent documentary)
To Kill a Mockingbird
12 Angry Men
John Dies at the End (hilarious)

I should probably follow a theme, and use this as some sort of film study programme, but I don't want to suck all the joy out of watching a movie by making it schoolwork. At Danny's age I was already staying up late to watch old movies on my (very) tiny black and white television, and sneaking off to catch stuff at the film society when I was supposed to be at the library (don't act like you never did that). I was a little film obsessed. What's more, I had adults aiding and abetting my film addiction and permitting me to see films I should never have been let into (except for Midnight Cowboy, which I really wanted to see, but knew there was no way I would be let in to an X rated film. I finally saw it years later, and couldn't believe it had an X rating at the time). I probably shouldn't have been permitted to see Rosemary's Baby when I was in grade four. I did learn to be wary of the strange elderly neighbours, so perhaps there was a lesson in it after all.

So what about you? Do you get together with your family/friends to watch movies at the weekend? Have you watched anything interesting lately you'd like to share?

Coming Soon to a YouTube Channel Near You

With apologies to the Galloping Gourmet.

This is what happens when you give a nine year old boy with a love of ornithology, and cookery shows a movie camera for Christmas. I can't wait for the completed shows. I'll let you know when they are ready to launch. I'm wondering how he plans to affix my wine glass to the owl for the opening sequence. Perhaps it is best not to ask.

Vintage Ikora

 This small, footed dish has saved me numerous repeated steps up and down the (too many) stairs at home. On each landing, I like to keep a dish, or basket so I can maximise my efforts, bringing with me what I would otherwise forget. Come home from a day out, I leave my rings, bracelets, etc. in the dish to be carried up later and put away. I'm not the most organised person, but I find this helps. Having a beautiful tray to sit on the landing makes it all the nicer.
 I paid $3.99 for the tray at the thrift store, and felt I was overpaying. Still, there's something to be said for having things around that you enjoy, and it is so much nicer than a plastic tray from the dollar store.

A bit of Googling tells me Ikora developed this method of plating where it looks like mother of pearl. It is German, mid-century, and somewhat heavy considering it isn't silver.
I'm not sure what my life has come to when I feel $3.99 is really splashing out at the thrift store, but there you have it.

If you live in a multi-floor house, how do you keep organised?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Mushroom Crepes

Sit down, this is going to be a long recipe. Comfy? OK, let's talk about crepes. Or we can talk about serving white food on a white plate which is a very Midwestern thing to do except it is typically creamed cod and cauliflower. *shrug*
I filled these, and baked them with a white sauce in the oven. You could serve them just folded over the filling with a thin sauce atop them if you prefer, but I was going for a casserole effect, and a few subsequent meals out of it. These are closer to filled pasta shells, except I used rolled crepes.

The biggest problem I've encountered with crepes is not letting the batter rest long enough. some recipes say an hour is sufficient. I am telling you it is not. You need at least six, or overnight, at least for this particular batter. Hot pan, cold batter needs to be the mantra here, and you must work quickly once you pour. I can't tell you what pan/method will work best for you on your stove, with your ability. What I can tell you is to have all your equipment ready at hand, and make sure that batter is well chilled. Get yourself a very thin, flexible spatula (Oxo makes a nice inexpensive one) to help you flip. You'll find it is a useful tool for dislodging egg from a pan as well. There are many kitchen tools I could survive without, but good spatulas are a necessity.

Here's the batter recipe you'll want to prepare early in the morning. This is basically the Julia Child recipe, the only difference being I don't prepare it in a blender, and I use lowfat milk.
 1 cup milk (I use 1% because that's what we drink. There's plenty of fat in the eggs and butter so I wouldn't get too worried if you must use skim).
1 cup very cold water
4 eggs graded large
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter, melted (if using salted butter, omit salt above)
2 cups plain flour

Pour the milk, water, eggs, and salt into a bowl. Whisk until combined. Add 1 cup of the flour, whisking until smooth. Add second cup of flour and repeat. Finish by whisking in the butter. You can use a mixer, but I've always had good results with a whisk-it isn't a terribly heavy batter. The batter should be smooth. Cover it with cling film, and chill at least six hours before using.

Make your crepes in a hot pan over medium heat, tilting the pan as you pour so that the crepe will be even. Cook until top looks dry, flip and cook about 30 seconds longer. Remove to a plate with sheets of wax paper between the crepes. Cool before filling.

Meanwhile, make the mushroom and cheese filling:

1 lb. mushrooms finely chopped
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried sage
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup ruby port

Heat the butter in a heavy pan until melted. Add mushrooms and cook over medium heat until they have given off quite a bit of liquid. Add spices. Turn up heat to high, add the port and cook until the liquid is evaporated. Remove from heat and chill until needed.

For the cheese:
3 cups cottage cheese forced through a sieve, or ricotta. You can use low fat as long as you strain  the extra liquid away first.
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan (or other hard cheese). Plus 1/2 cup for topping before baking.
2 eggs or 3 egg whites
Mix together well.

Combine mushrooms and cheeses for the filling.

For the sauce;

4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons quick blending flour (I use Wondra for sauces)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
2 cups milk (again, I use 1 % as there's plenty of fat to go round in this recipe)

Melt butter, add flour and cook until foamy. Slowly whisk in the milk. Add spices and cook until it comes to a boil and thickens. Remove from heat. If not using right away, pour a thin layer of cream over the top to keep it from forming a skin.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the pan for easier cleanup(I use a 9x13 metal pan). Fill each crepe, and roll like you would a burrito tucking in the edges. Arrange them in the pan. Pour over sauce, then top with reserved cheese. Cover tightly with foil, and bake 30 minutes. Remove foil, and bake 30 minutes longer.

This is a heavy dish, so either serve it with a salad or vegetables lightly roasted in oil (I mean, really lightly). I has some green beans, carrots, and beets which also gave a bit of colour to an otherwise bland looking meal.

Re-heats beautifully in either a slow oven, or the microwave. We got a few meals out of this. I wouldn't freeze the finished dish, but any extra crepes may be frozen for later use.

Cucumber and Tomato Salad

I continue to be amazed at how good greenhouse tomatoes can be. The winter can seem endless in these parts, but a good tomato does  the job of temporary distraction (at least until I peer out the window).

This salad is quick enough, just don't make it too far ahead as tomatoes don't like the fridge for too long.

You Will Need:

2 ripe tomatoes, seeded and cut in whatever shape your heart desires (Personally, I like wedges, but your salad, your rules)
1/2 sweet onion, sliced
1 large cucumber, seeded if not a seedless variety, and thinly sliced.

The Dressing:

4 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1 tablespoon chervil
A pinch of tarragon
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon dill
A nice big grinding of black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar

Mix well, pour over salad and let sit at least ten minutes before serving.

Unfortunately, it is still January...but hey everybody, look...salad!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

If Bette Davis Had a Cookery Show... might have looked like this:

The really terrifying thing is that I own a similar evening gown, though I can't say I'm brave enough to cook in it with the huge sleeves. How Fanny Cradock never set herself alight is some sort of miracle.

I've made jelly omelettes, but never mincemeat, and certainly never doused in icing sugar. God, I miss the 70's.

Things I Hadn't Started Worrying About Yet-Nasal Maggot Edition

I try to cover the basics with the kiddo-don't have unprotected sex, don't drop acid, don't wear brown shoes with blue socks, etc. Obviously, I've been living in a cave because there's a new, terrifying "trend" sweeping schools across America-snorting Smarties! American Smarties, not the kind you get in the UK and Canada which are coated chocolate. Look I wouldn't make this up. I read it in the Daily Mail, it must be true (if perhaps exaggerated).

What happened to the good old days when kids drank Shirley Temples to imitate grown-ups? Say what you will, but candy cigarettes while a bad example, never gave anyone nose maggots.

*shakes head* kids these days.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Listen to Your Gut Feeling-Handbag Edition

Something made me think this was a 1940's handbag when I spotted it at the thrift store for $3.99 Hanging unnoticed among the fake Pradas, and vinyl 70's clutches (bought one of those too, not to worry!)it looked...nicer. Still, something felt wrong about the shine of the clasp.
I opened the bag, noted the zipper, the lining, and the brass hardware at the hinge. The bag was heavy, the frame sturdy...everything was telling me this was a 40's bag except that damn clasp looked like it was from the 70's.
 Yes, it was still quite dusty after lint rolling it. I'm reluctant to take the brush attachment from the hoover to it as the bag is velvet, and you never find old velvet in perfect condition-I'd hate to ruin it.
 The hardware all looks period authentic, save for that bloody clasp.
In the end, after looking at other examples on line, and dating the zip I'd say the bag is authentic, and the owner probably replaced the clasp at some point, or polished it so that the patina no longer matches the rest of the hardware. Given that the bag has no visible damage to the velvet, and that the handle is still in excellent shape, I'd guess it was a special occasion bag that didn't see much use, but the owner kept, and took excellent care of. In that case, it would make perfect sense to replace a clasp if it accidentally snapped on an otherwise lightly used item. I know I would fix it.

It is a small bag, and it probably wouldn't hold most of the things we carry today but that's what your friends that carry large bags are for (to carry your stuff). I'm glad I trusted my gut, and snapped this bag up rather than dismissing it on one piece of a puzzle that seemed out of place.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

1960's Scooter Dress

The dress didn't do my figure any favours, but that's not why I'm getting rid of it. I'm getting rid of it because it is impossible to go to the loo without completely undressing.
Hey, take a look at my great pin-curl set. It stood up to high winds today, though it is a bit fluffed out. I still can't decide if I like my hair curled, but this time there seemed to be less frizz, so perhaps I'm getting better at it.
And yes, I did go before I left the house. Geez, what are you, my mother?
Downstairs loo needs the mirror washed. I never use this one. Why can't they wash their hands in the basin? Why, oh why must it be splashed, everywhere?
 That there is a "pervert-proof dress." There's shorts beneath. And a good thing too as we had a high wind warning in Omaha today with 60 mph winds. I'm sure I disappointed some pervert.
 Blue and orange is my favourite colour combination of late.
Had these porcelain earrings forever. Thought it was tine to wear them.




Outfit Particulars:
60's Scooter/Skort dress .99 cents, Thrift World, Millard
60's Blue Leather shoes: Thrift World, 90th and Maple
Blue Tights: Shop-Ko
Rings: Blue glass swirl, Hobby Lobby. Blue and gold rhinestone ring, Mum's, Yellow floral ring, Goodwill, Blue and silver ring, Mexican Shop, Evanston, Illinois
Bracelets: assorted, thrifted
Necklaces: thrifted
Earrings: had forever, can't remember where I got them
Blue 60's handbag: Thrift World, 90th street
Hair flowers: Tiff and Tam

Friday, January 17, 2014

California Pottery -Belmar

California pottery is my great collecting weakness. I don't care for knick-knacks, and I'm not one for stamps or coins, but put me face to face with dull coloured, glazed pottery pieces and I'm helpless.
"Please" I whisper, "Take my money."
I mean, look at that avocado coloured mid-century beauty! My mum had pottery like this sitting on our coffee table, but she filled it with Jordan almonds knowing full well neither of her children were desperate enough to risk breaking a tooth on one of those evil things. Candy was pretty much "for show" at our house. Anyone remember the "peas and carrots" shaped candy? Those were gross. I mean, flying saucers were gross too, but at least they weren't made to depict frozen vegetables.
Belmar is my favourite of the California pottery manufacturers. Most of the pieces date from the late 40's through the 50's. I adore this stuff. I attribute this not only to my mother's untouchable candy dishes, but the fact that we had a tiled foyer in our house with California pottery tiles. They looked Italian at first glance, but they were California. She sought them out when they were building the house, and we lived in fear of chipping them. I once dropped a glass walking back from the kitchen to the other wing of the house, and was so terribly relieved when it shattered in a thousand pieces because through some miracle, the precious tile was intact. I'm not kidding. We had extra tiles, but she still would have had our heads. Even the housekeeper was afraid to touch the tile, washing it only with water and a soft cloth. We probably shouldn't have worried, if the pieces I own are any indication, the stuff is sturdy. Not dishwasher sturdy, but you can use soap.

This is a good time to be buying these pieces if you like them. I routinely find them marked for under five bucks, and cheaper in the really grimy thrift stores (so you take it home, and wash it). Just promise...only proper candy! None of that panned stuff.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Couple Fun Old Bags (and matching shoes)

This is Sherpa, and he's going to present the first shoe and bag set.
The handle folds in, so that the bag may be used as a clutch.
 The bag looks pristine because I hardly ever use it (and I've had it over twenty years). Mr. ETB never takes me anywhere smart.
The shoes are Naturalizer, bone coloured, and for once, not slingbacks. Still somewhat granny.

Our Next Old Bag (and matching shoes) are being presented by Mr. Warbles.
The shoes are also Naturalizer, though slightly (ever so) less granny than the previous pair. Warbles thinks they smell of feet, and requests that we please move this thing along so he can fly back to his nest.

I admit it-I adore Naturalizer shoes. These are a perfect fit.
This bag is another I purchased years ago, and hardly use due to the size. What attracted me was the Lucite trim and clasp, but it is terribly impractical for me. It is doomed to a life as a sewing notions bag.


Both pairs of shoes were purchased at Thrift America for around $3.00 a pair (I think. They were cheap). The bags were both purchased years ago in western Massachusetts at an antique store.

Sherpa and Warbles would like you to know that they are taking the old bags out for an Early Bird dinner, and will be home by the time the street lights come on.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

And Behind Door Number One...

...we have dresses, skirts, blouses, and handbags. Jackets and trousers live in another room.
Would you like to see some interesting, recent acquisitions? Of course you would, that's why you're here.

How about a 1970's polyester jumpsuit with rhinestone studs?
 But...I don't even like Elvis!
 I do like wide legs though...would you look at those? You could rig a sail boat with those things.
Same trip I ended up with a hot pink and white off the shoulder polka dot jumpsuit. I needed them, you wouldn't understand. This skirt is too big for me, but at .98 cents I had to buy it. I can take it in, or find it a good home.

 I have a similar skirt I bought around 1979 that has hunting dogs on it.
For years, I bought all my clothes in blue, green, and white so that I could put together outfits easily. I wasn't the best dressed person in the office (lots and lots of plaid) but at least I was never mis-matched.  Most of my household is decorated in blue and green as well (dishes, linen, lamps). I'm consistent in my taste, huh?

A dress so nice...I bought it twice. I mean, what are the odds? Anyone want to dress as twins?

 Summer will be here about a bright, orange dress?
 Oh look...a skort! I think we all know this won't wait until summer. I need electric blue tights, and a matching cardigan. Hell yeah.
Fine, fine, lovely clothes you say but what about handbags? Well, I picked up this beauty last weekend. Anyone able to translate?
 I have several pairs of navy shoes, but only two handbags. I really did need this bag.
Finally, I'll leave you with a couple pair of shoes. Both terribly "granny", but at my age, I could be a granny.
Oh look, another pair of bone coloured sling back shoes. That makes what, six? Seven?

I don't think these are any older than the 70's, based on the way the label reads. Maybe late 60's at most, but they didn't start using N M and W on shoes until later. Still, a nice enough pair of shoes for $2.99

I hope you enjoyed this impromptu, poorly lit/photographed peek at my recent purchases. I promise, that pink polka dot jumpsuit will make an appearance soon.