Monday, February 29, 2016

Cake Tins

The weekend before last, I managed to find not one, but two vintage Easter cake tins-one lamb, the other bunny. I'd wanted a lamb one for years, but that Saturday the thrifting gods decided my time had come and presented me with both. Inside the lamb tin the previous owner had left a note in penmanship that looked so much like my own it startled me, "Do not use with cake mix-neck breaks EVERY TIME!"

I stood at my sink examining the note, and thinking how many times I've made similar notes in cookbooks, noting changes, additions and omissions. There have been so many times I've thought, "I should place a note with this so Danny will know how to use the cookie press, pasta maker, or what have you." Thrifting is an interesting hobby because you can't really know the previous owner's life except in a few cases where you meet the children selling the items, or it is a piece of vintage with an established provenance, but you can certainly get a sense of the person from the notes they leave.

My husband didn't grow up with much holiday goings-on as his parents weren't terribly interested. Coming home with not one, but two animal shaped Easter cake tins is rather foreign to him. He thinks it was an absence of religion on his parent's part, but I suspect it was more an absence of whimsy. An animal shaped cake would just be too tacky for my mother-in-law. She might bake a beautiful layer cake infused with five kinds of floral syrups and piped within an inch of its life, but a lamb-shaped cake would be too much. I get it, really I do.

My mother-in-law brought us several household items when we moved to Nebraska, and they were downsizing to an apartment out west. I find similar notes in the things we received such as how the meat grinder was used mostly for cheese when she was growing up in Pennsylvania, and how to secure the clamp. There's a recipe in the pasta maker box, but there's also paperwork from the military that they must have been required to fill out when leaving for another post and packing up their belongings to be shipped overseas. If I didn't already know  the story it would be a fascinating thing to find in a box at a thrift store.

One of the most interesting finds was a box of post cards years ago, that were sent from a father to his daughter on his business trips that spanned about ten years. Being able to read all the stories about the towns he visited (he sold large pipe organs to churches and orchestras) and how he felt some people "didn't deserve an organ" really gave me a fascinating insight into these people's lives. I'm not sure how anyone could have got rid of those cards, though for all I know she might have hated her father. That's the thing of course, we can't really know the lives of the people that leave these items, and our sense of storytelling wants to adjust everything to a happy ending.

I do wish cake-tin person had left a recipe that would work well with the tin, but I suppose if I find one, that can be my contribution to the item's future. They're nice cake tins, I think they will be around for a good long time.

Have you ever found anything in a thrifted item you found fascinating?

Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan-Perfume Review

I bought Abre Sultan figuring Danny would end up with it,  like all the other amber fragrances I buy. I like the idea of amber notes more than the execution, but that hasn't stopped me forking over money in hopes the next one will be love at first sniff. When I read the notes and saw that vanilla was included I was convinced it would be too sweet for me. It was a pleasure to find that the vanilla, while not subtle, does work nicely with the other notes creating a perfume that changes noticeably through the hours I wore it. Danny isn't getting this one!

My first impression was camphor, but then I realised it was laurel. My brain did that thing where it links all sorts of things together and then spits it out as some sort of observation that would elicit a puzzled expression and a muttering of, "So?" from anyone I'd share it with. That's been happening to me my entire life, so it isn't unfamiliar but sometimes I forget and blurt those observations out and then people look at me in that tense way like you've just told some sort of anti-joke, and they can tell it is a joke, but don't get it, and do that odd little awkward laugh people do when they aren't certain if they're being made fun of. But we're all friends here, so it went something like: "Oh, bugs get trapped in amber so that's why the perfumer wants it to smell like bay laurel because that was what Victorian naturalists used ground up in their kill jars when collecting insect specimens, but you can also use lanolin but that would smell like nail polish remover or perfume that's gone off." Yeah, be glad you don't have to live with my brain-it is chock-full of shit like that. I dated someone years ago that called it, "Joseph Campbell Disease" where everything has something to do with everything else, and you can prove it by pointing out the minutiae that don't prove anything except the fact that your brain remembers every damned detail of everything you ever learned at school. Except of course, punctuation. Fuck you, Strunk and White.

Bay laurel leaves are great-I have a bay laurel living in a pot in my sunny window (I named it Apollo II, not after the space mission, but after the god. The first bay laurel died, and he was just named Apollo, so obviously the next one had to be Apollo II). In the summertime, when the plant is outdoors in the sun, it does give off a slightly camphorous smell. This is the first thing that really strikes me as special about the Lutens Ambre Sultan. Instead of the typical soda fountain vanilla assault, there's the almost medicinal fragrance of my bay laurel warming in the sun. My brain just did that bit again: Soda fountains+vanilla+camphor+medicinal=Lindeman's Pharmacy in Deerfield, Illinios (long gone now) where they had a soda fountain, but also sold the vanilla extract in the same brown bottles they used for cough syrup.

God, I miss Lindeman's.

My point (yes, there is one) is that Ambre Sultan isn't a sweet amber fragrance. It is herbal, medicinal, and warm without making you think of candy. A vanilla phosphate, maybe-but definitely not candy. There's angelica in there, which I also grew once (it died) and coriander. Myrtle, oregano, myrrh-not the typical stuff of amber fragrances. With each hour, as the strong notes faded, the resins and patchouli warm up making for one hell of a glorious perfume. The sandalwood is a good quality one, and if you've ever smelled the bad stuff, your nose will be able to detect the difference. This is a perfume I want to douse myself in over and over, and then spray all the closets in the house. For something that I was certain wouldn't be my style, I must say I'm really quite impressed.

I recently splashed out on a few Lutens fragrances. I'd resisted all these years thinking they were just overpriced niche nonsense, and you don't even get a pretty bottle out of the deal. Well. I was wrong. I wasn't wrong about the bottles, but I was dead wrong about the juice inside. I've been reading people complaining about the longevity of this one, but I have to say, even on my seriously dry skin that soaks up perfume, this has gone a good eight hours on me, with a bit left after that. There seems to be an issue with reformulation, so perhaps my decant is from an older bottle.

Resins, amber, bay leaf, myrrh, benzoin, sandalwood, coriander, myrtle, angelica, patchouli, oregano, and vanilla.

I'm not sure how Ambre Sultan will work in warmer weather, but right now with the lingering cold of winter and spring trying like hell to break through, this is the perfect perfume. This stuff isn't cheap, so as I typically suggest-get a decant and live with it for a while before plunging in and going for a full bottle. Of course, if you buy a full bottle and hate it, can always send it here.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Houbigant Demi-Jour -Review

I was recently gifted a decant of vintage formulation Demi Jour from the years when Houbigant still manufactured it. These days, it is being made ruined by Dana. If you try to track this one down, and I certainly recommend you do, make certain it says, "Houbigant" on the bottle or box. Mine is from the 80's, but the perfume has been around since the 30's like the bottle in this ad. I have no idea what that version smells like (but if anyone has some and wants to help me find out, I'd be happy to test it out).

I was a bit worried I might not be able to smell anything as I am unable to smell Houbigant's Quelque Fleurs due to the jasmine. Demi Jour also has jasmine, but hapily not the same sort, or in enough quantity to kick my anosmia into gear. I'm happy about that because Demi Jour would be a shame to miss out on.

I have a difficult time wearing over-the-top florals (hasn't stopped me trying though), but Demi Jour stops just in time. There's enough oakmoss and wood notes to keep it from smelling too sweet, and the aldehydes, which I am learning to tolerate better do give Demi Jour a certain punch. Against all my reasons to think this wouldn't work for me, it does. Beautifully.

I'm not a heliotrope fan in large quantity. Demi Jour doesn't have any vanilla for sweetness, instead getting the vanilla/marzipan notes from a floral note. That's clever chemistry, and I'm certain that's what keeps Demi Jour from turning into some sort of gag-inducing candy-sweet floral nightmare. If only that were true today. There's no candy floss in Demi Jour.

Think about the florals in use here-rose, violet, heliotrope, lily of the valley-until you get to jasmine and ylang ylang, there's nothing here that would keep it out of the men's cologne category. The addition of musk, oakmoss, sandalwood, and cedar really could work on a man. It is much less sweet than Boucheron pour homme.

I don't get, "Big 80's floral" from Demi Jour, at all. I know some people do, and they find it much sweeter than I do, but that's the beauty of fragrances-we all experience them differently.

Notes From Fragrantica:
Rose, violets, ylang ylang, orris, heliotrope, aldehydes, sandalwood, musk, oakmoss, bergamot, lily of the valley, cedar and jasmine.

To my nose, the aldehydes, rose and violets dominate this perfume, but the oakmoss is there, but it isn't apparent until after the aldehydes blow away.

I honestly didn't think I would enjoy Demi Jour, which is one of the best things my perfume habit has brought me-an open mind (and nose).

Sue Made Me Do It!

Look at this riot of colour! You know where I got my inspiration.  You're a good influence on me Sue!
Born Comfort shoes that are not comfortable. At all. Unless it is supposed to be Born as in labour pain, which wouldn't hurt near as bad as wearing these blasted shoes. I'm not even going to re-donate them. 

I have three bags like this-one red, one black and this blue. I know they're all so similar it is absurd to keep buying them, but I can't help it. There's something about these plastic beaded bags that remind me of my youth, and they're typically so inexpensive it would be silly to leave them. I'm always happy when I can find an occasion to use them as it makes my purchases feel less frivolous. 

Outfit Particulars:
Square dancing frock-Thrift World
Cotton embellished Mexican cardigan-Thrift World
Beaded bag-Hand-Me-Ups
Hair flowers-Tiff and Tam
Belt-K Mart, years and years ago
Earrings-The Mexican Shop, Evanston, Illinois
Vintage necklaces-both Hand-Me-Ups
Bangles-All over
Born shoes-Goodwill
Fragrance-Galanos (I really AM reliving the 80's) 

I tried catching another sunbeam today from the window, but as I suspected, the camera wouldn't play again. I did get a ridiculous pose, so here you are. I feel like a cross between a wizard and a Balinese dancer...without mastering either. A wizard could get the sunbeam magic back. 

So that was the flash of colour, to break-up all the duller clothes in my winter wardrobe. I'm on a higher dose of steroid medication than I'm used to and it has really blown-up my face. I don't care, but I don't want to frighten anyone with these photos. It will go back down again...eventually. My hand is healing, and that's really what's important. Anyway, back to the beige. 

I bought this mohair/angora combo coat earlier in the year but it never seemed like the right time to wear it. Today's 50+ mph winds made up my mind. It wasn't that cold out, but the wind made it feel terrible. I've alos been waiting for an occasion to wear this mink pillbox hat, so with spring on the horizon (hopefully) it seemed like now or next year. I'm more of a, "Now" person, whenever possible. 

Outfit Particulars:
Top-K Mart
J.H. Collectibles jacket-Goodwill
Flower-Tiff and Tam
Vintage shell earrings-New Life Thrift
Vintage Necklaces-Both Hand-Me-Ups
1970's wool skirt (part of a suit) Goodwill
Liz Claiborne belt-Goodwill
Box bag-Hand-Me-Ups
Mink hat-Hand-Me-Ups
Tights-DKNY years ago
Vintage Naturalizer shoes-Thrift World
Lippy-Revlon Jungle Peach (a 60's shade reissue)
Fragrance-Vintage formulation Diorissimo (I'm on a lily of the valley kick at present)

I made a quick stop at two of my favourite thrift stores this weekend, and both yielded some treasures. I wasn't particularly in the mood, but the boys wanted to look for movies and books, and being out and about does me a world of good when I'm feeling awful, so I went. The lizard skin box bag, and the silk and wool wide-leg trousers were good scores, but the huge California Ware platter with affixed bowl was the prize of the weekend. I also found some California ware mugs, so it was a very successful trip. Now, I need a better bookcase to display the pottery collection before it threatens to take over my life. I do use the pieces, and I just love the look of them. California pottery hasn't become too collectible yet, and you can still find pieces easily if you're looking for something interesting to collect. I can't promise it will ever become valuable, but most of the potteries are now defunct, and I've noticed pieces being made in that style coming from China. If you've been on the fence about it, I do think this is a good time to start acquiring pieces. I'll try to put together a post devoted to the potteries, and show some of my collection (but there's a LOT of it, so probably not soon),

I hope you have a lovely week. If my finger/hand lets me, I'm going to plant a border of gladiolas around the garden this week. That little wire fence was driving me mad. 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

From My Collection-1960's Brocade Coat

I think this dates to the 60's, though it could be a bit earlier given the quality of the closures and rick rack. The velvet trim is starting to disintegrate in spots, but it does feel like cotton velvet. At some point, it was taken-in (poorly) but I can feel through the lining they left enough of the original fabric that it could likely be restored-I'm just not sure it is worth it. The lining was also put back in place sloppily, and the closures stitched back on in a manner that is beyond slap-dash. My guess is that someone gave it to a daughter or granddaughter and the changes were made by someone inexperienced-perhaps for a quick costume. Still, for the grand sum of .99 cents at Goodwill, I thought it worth bringing home and packing away.

You also get a glimpse of the "Hollywood Regency" corner at the stair landing. Those are Danny's selections (the kid has a thing for gilt wall sconces).
 It is a very pretty coat, but the velvet is turning to powder, and after enough wears it would be threadbare. I could remove it, but I'd rather pack it away as a curiosity than wear it. It isn't really a good shape for me anyway. This is a good example of something I wouldn't sell unless I made certain the buyer really understood the fabric issues. It would be hard to grasp looking at it online. After handling the coat just enough for photos, my nails were filled with black powdery tufts from the trim. Perhaps I should have photographed that. I can't know what conditions it was stored under, but hopefully I'll be able to do a bit better and keep the deterioration from getting worse. That's the worst part about collecting vintage-knowing that sometimes all you can do is slow the inevitable. I won't even talk about trying to preserve 60's vinyl pieces (I have a sad tale of some white go-go boots I'll save for another day).
 The lining is in decent condition save for the hack-job it got being taken-in. There's a bit of age spotting, but nothing serious.

The lesson? Don't give your vintage pieces to the inexperienced learning to sew. And don't keep things in a hot ,un-ventilated attic.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Cloches, and Other Family Fashion Fails

Even my beloved nana, Clara couldn't make a cloche look fashionable. If she couldn't pull it off, you probably can't either because she was the best dressed woman I've ever known. She was about 26 here, and I believe it was taken when she arrived in Canada. 

 This was her husband, my grandfather Jake. He had a news stand on the South Side of Chicago. In the background, you can see the original Walgreens (before they were a multinational). When they painted the store, they'd come over and put a coat on the stand for my grandfather. He dressed like that for work every day, with a tie. And yes, it wasn't just the paperboys that wore the flat caps. Another hat fail for the family photo album, but the rest of his clothes look smart. This photo dates to 1947. I never met him as he died not long after this photo was taken. My grandmother remarried in the early 70's.

This is Aunt Jeanette (my grandfather's sister-in-law). This photo was taken in upstate New York where she lived with Uncle Joe. I tried to zoom up on her shoes and handbag, but the photo was too blurry to begin with. I think we can get the idea though. No idea who the kid in the background was-it wasn't theirs. 

This is Uncle Joe. He was a Communist, and he wouldn't apologise. I'm named for him (just the first letter, but that's a peculiar superstition we have about not giving the same name to two people or the angel of death might get confused and take the younger). I'm just Bolshie enough to appreciate being his namesake. When his dog died, he penned an obituary, and managed to get it published in the paper. I forgot to mention-it was a half-page obituary complete with photos. He really loved that dog. I can't find any fault with his clothes-Uncle Joe wins the family, "Best Dressed" award. Even the mustache is perfect. 
I'm going to caption this one: Don't Marry a Guy You Only Dated For Two Weeks. Six years into the marriage, they have that look of, "Snap the goddamned photo already so he will take his arm off me." They spent 36 years of misery together until my mother died. Kids, there's a lesson here-long courtship.

My parents, could have used some fashion help. I like how they couldn't be arsed to put down the cigarettes for a photo. My mother favoured trousers to skirts and dresses, which sometimes did result in her being turned away from restaurants as she wasn't appropriately attired (that was still happening in some places into the early 70's). It didn't stop her though. Unless it was a formal affair like a wedding, she wasn't likely to be found wearing a skirt after about 1960. I always wondered where those candlesticks came from that I see in the bookcase. I have them now, but I was never sure if they belonged to my grandmother. Old photos are great for establishing provenance. This photo is dated 1963, which looks about right. Eventually the piano ended up where the bookcase was.  

This is my sister and myself playing with some toy. I'm wearing what looks like a party hat, so perhaps it was my birthday. I remember that television, and I remember when we got rid of it. That was the worst day of my life. We had a Grundig shortwave, which I spent more time with anyway, but seeing that television being taken out of the house was heartbreaking. I think I cried. I'm sure I did. I tried zooming up on the books, but all I recognise are the set of Churchill books. We did have books all over the house, something I'm really thankful for all these years later. I can't believe they made me wear a pinafore with a Peter-Pan collared blouse beneath. What sort of sadist was my mother? I'll bet Judi dressed me. 

 Today, I'm still dressing like it is 1970-but no Peter-Pan collars, thanks.
 What this polyester beauty needs is a wide-leg pair of white sailor trousers. Let me know if you spot any in my size.
 My vintage Naturalizers are cracking apart, but I'll keep wearing them to the bitter end because I adore them.
I'll wear just about anything, but a cloche. Sorry Nan, but those hats make everyone look stupid. Well, maybe if I move to Canada and need to keep my eras covered in winter I'll consider it. 

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Bad Finger

No, not the band, though this baby's blue. Yeah okay, it was a long day.
I finally gave up, and saw a doctor today. Short version-my immune system hates me. Another course of steroids (yay) and I need to see a rheumatologist. Anyway, I had a laugh when the doctor suggested I wear gloves to keep my hand warm. "Do you have any gloves?" she asked. "That", I replied "Is something I own in quantity, and in every possible colour!" At last my vintage collecting has paid off. Typing one handed is a bitch though.

I knew it was going to be something that wouldn't get solved easily. By the time I got to the doctor it was spreading to my middle finger. We can't have that, can we? How am I supposed to communicate? God forbid I'd have to give you a thumbs-up instead. You don't come here for positive reinforcement, you come to get flipped off.

Don't you?

 I had to get my height taken at the doctor's office (and my weight, but we won't go there-thanks menopause!) and in heels I am almost 5'3. That's disturbing, because I used to be 5'3 in stocking feet. I'm wearing high heels. Either their yardstick is being used wrong (which is possible given the state of education in the US these days), or Danny's right-I'm shrinking. I thought that wasn't supposed to happen until I was 70 or so. It had to be wrong, but I'm too freaked out to measure myself at home.

And in other news, Iowa lawmakers want you to buy your baby a hand- gun. What could possibly go wrong? Look, I'm not anti-gun (strange for a lefty like myself, but once you get to know me I'm full of unpopular opinions) but that's madness. We're not talking about a hunting rifle, they mean handguns. Don't say I didn't warn you when four year olds start pulling off bank heists. Look for charming Facebooks posts featuring infants with their shiny, new pistols. "Baby's First .35" Awww, ain't that cute? Kids can't sit in a car unattended for five minutes, but they can have a handgun. *slaps head*

 Outfit Particulars:
Vintage double knit suit-Goodwill
Vintage ActIII blouse-Goodwill
Boots-K Mart
Brooch-old, antique shop sonmewhere
Enameled Noah's Ark bracelet-Filene's I think (long ago)
Earrings-K Mart a few years ago
Lippy-Estee Lauder Maplesugar
Fragrance-nothin' because we had to go to medical offices where it wouldn't be polite. I'm going to douse myself in the vintage formulation Bijan I recently got hold of before bed. It is MAGNIFICENT.

There's a political debate on TV tonight-it would be good for laughs if there wasn't a very real possibility we're going to end up with one of them as president. 
I'd better keep this short, as the one-handed typing is getting tiring. 

The other Badfinger.

Hello There, Monkeybean

Danny's going for his first allergy jabs tomorrow, something he's looking forward to in hope it will enable him to spend more time outdoors in spring and summer. I went for years starting at the age of seven, through about twelve. Then as a college student I did another two year treatment cycle. These days, the allergists say if it isn't helping by the end of the year, it likely won't-so at least he isn't looking at a lifetime commitment. I rarely suffer from seasonal allergies anymore though I can't say if it was the jabs, or moving away from Illinois.

I was thinking about how different the world was when I was getting my weekly jabs. Not the world of immunology (though certainly that's changed too) but the way my routine back then simply wouldn't be possible today.

The allergist was the paediatrician's brother (insert joke about how proud their mother must have been). By the time I was seeing him, he was in his 80's, and almost completely deaf. It hardly mattered, Dr. Levy had been jabbing needles into people's arms for decades and didn't really need to talk much. He wouldn't hear you come in, and sometimes I'd have to stand there a few seconds before he noticed, and I'd be greeted with an enthusiastic, "Good to see you, monkeybean!" Then, he'd grab my arm, always starting with the left and start administering two in each arm. Grass, trees, dust, and then something he called a, "cold shot" which I suspect was some combination of vitamins he believed would keep me well. There might have been something to it as I rarely caught colds as a child.

Dr. Levy had a receptionist named Doris who I think was Hawaiian. She had a dog-dish filled with candy ("people treats") and always made sure there were enough green apple Jolly Ranchers. At some point she retired,  and was replaced by another receptionist also named Doris. I always suspected she was hired so Dr. Levy wouldn't have to remember another name at his advanced age. Doris II was a pleasant woman with a bouffant hairdo, but she was rubbish at keeping the candy dish stocked.

When you get allergy jabs, no matter how long you've been going there's a 20-30 minute wait afterward to be certain you won't suddenly have a reaction. I never minded (at least not when Doris I was in charge of the candy) and there was always a good selection of magazines in the small but pleasant waiting room. All the patients knew each other-this was how we spent our Saturday mornings.

My mother wasn't the sort of person that would spend time sitting in a waiting room unless she absolutely had to. Fair enough, as she was a gravely ill woman and saw quite enough of doctor's offices. Instead, being Saturday she'd drop me off for my appointment and pick me up (in front of the medical office building next to Best and Company department store) in two hours. How did I fill all that time after the appointment? Pleasantly.

After the all-clear from Dr. Levy, "See you next week Monkeybean. Be good or your mother will sell you for two cents and get change back!", I'd head over to Kroch's and Brentano's bookstore across the way. Oh, sometimes I'd look in Best's window at clothes, but I rarely bought anything there-I was more of a Marshall Field's or Chas. A. Stevens shopper. Saturdays were for books anyway.

Kroch's and Brentano's was the best bookstore in the city at that time. I rarely could afford new books, but downstairs they had tables of remaindered books well within my budget. There was a wide staircase with hammered-copper artwork for sale on the landing which I'm sure no one ever bought as the same pieces were there week after week, year after year. When I'd get to the landing there was a wonderful view down into the sales floor that always filled me with excitement. It was a great part of my childhood, roaming the basement at Kroch's and Brentano's without anyone telling me to hurry and choose something. I was lucky that my parents were both avid readers, as they were happy enough to supply me with a book-buying allowance for my Saturday afternoon visits. The remainders were always good quality books-you just didn't know what they would be.

I can remember the first book I bought, a re-print of an antiquated translation of the Tain Bo Cuailnge (sorry, can't figure out how to do accent slashes on this computer). I still have it! A small, cloth bound volume that never had a dust jacket and was more footnotes than body of text, the translation I discovered in later years wasn't very good. I took my purchase as I did every subsequent week over to the lunch counter at the dimestore where I ate a toasted cheese sandwich, drank a pink lemonade, and enjoyed my two hours of independence. If you let an eight year old do that today, you'd be arrested on neglect charges. In the 70's, no one even noticed.

That was the start of my reading for enjoyment, and over the many, many Saturdays I built an interesting collection of books. A coffee-table book about Movietone newsreels (still have that one), Future Shock (didn't keep that one), A biography of shoemaker Ferragamo (long before I knew about vintage), and so many other things I wouldn't have ever bothered to read if I didn't have access to a good bookstore, and a couple hours on my own. I'm a little sad Danny won't have that same opportunity to learn responsibility by going to an allergist's appointment, and then using a set time for lunch and book shopping. The allergist's office doesn't offer candy either.

The funny thing is, Danny is much more responsible at eleven than I was at the same age. I know he'd be fine, but the powers that be don't trust parents to decide what their children are capable of anymore. By his age, I was taking care of a sick parent, getting myself on the bus to school each day, and in some cases getting myself to bed at night. In all the years that I spent doing my Saturday routine, no one ever tried to kidnap or harm me. Ever. I wasn't a naive kid-if I'd got a creepy feeling from someone I knew what to do, but I didn't approach all adults as wishing to do me harm. Instead, I got to have interesting conversations about books, met people from all walks of life, and sat at the lunch counter with people I wouldn't have otherwise encountered. The zany old woman who would tell me about her shoes made with technology from NASA programmes (they were some sort of comfort shoe) every week like it was the first time we'd met in the waiting room-I wouldn't have met her. The waitress who always wanted to know how school was going-I wouldn't have met her. The salesclerk that would later help me to order specific books from the giant reference of "In-Print books" they kept behind the counter-I wouldn't have met him.

Eventually, I stopped going for allergy jabs and my Saturdays were spent instead sleeping at a friend's house and going shopping with her the next day. It was still independence, but I didn't need a weekly trip to buy clothes, and at least when I was buying books it wasn't influenced by anyone else's taste. My friend favoured a rather Ivy League look, and there's only so many button-down Oxford cloth shirts a person needs in their wardrobe. You can't learn anything useful from a shirt.

Danny does get time to interact with adults at bird banding, and I don't sit there with him. He's been given greater responsibilities because the people conducting the banding know they can count on him to take the duties seriously. Still, that's no substitute for being at large on a Saturday, enough money for lunch and a book. By the time the state decides he's old enough to be unattended for five minutes, he'll be a teenager-and we all know teenagers aren't open-minded enough to sit and listen to an adult that might have something interesting to say.

I wrote this late last evening. We went for the injections, all was fine, and generally painless. I noticed a pile of stickers at the reception desk, so that's something I guess.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Send Up a Flare

You should keep flares handy, in the event you have a trouser emergency. I suppose if your car was stranded in a snowbank you could wave them from the radio antennae to alert rescuers. It would be hard to miss them.

There's a matching, belted jacket but even I know that's just a polyester suit too far. 

I know I've said this before, but it is worth repeating-thank goodness for vintage! If I had to wear the ugly clothes on offer at retailers I'd probably collapse in tearful exhaustion getting dressed each day. Nylon tracksuits? Silly cropped trousers that can't decide if they're culottes or knickerbockers? Dresses made out of foam padding? Oh. Hell. No. 
 Instead, I get to wear clothes I find interesting, cost little more than pocket change, and are unlikely to fall apart after a single wearing.
Outfit Particulars:

1970's polyester flares (part of a suit) Goodwill
1970's acrylic cardigan (with POCKETS!)-Goodwill
Macrame handbag-Goodwill
Stretch bracelets-can't remember
Bakelite clip earrings-Thrift World
Clogs-Dillards about 10 years ago
Lippy-Maybellene  Coral Crush
Blue eyeshadow-Maybellene

OK, maybe I'll stick to neutrals on the eyes. 

Yesterday, Mr. ETB asked, "Is that outfit from Target?"
I thought that was strange because I don't buy anything except makeup there. When pressed to explain why he said, "It looks like the kind of cheap clothes they make in strange colour combinations." Then, (wisely) he hurried out of the house for work. 
Not from Target. Not even originally. 

I was somewhat floored by his comments because these pieces (the skirt, top, and jacket) are all from a high-end retailer (I thrifted them at Goodwill because I don't shop retail). I personally don't give a shit what he thinks about my wardrobe, but I was concerned it might look like I was wearing cheap, fast fashion. Not that I have any problem wearing clothes from K Mart, but they do nicer clothes than Target.

 My guess (because he couldn't really articulate what he was trying to say without digging himself in deeper) is that about 12 years ago, Target was doing a LOT of chocolate brown and sky blue clothes in sort of op-art/mod patterns. If he saw a lot of that on women he worked with at the time, it could translate into, "Target clothes." That's my guess anyway. I'm not bothered as I refuse to take fashion advice from a man that dresses like this:
Ponytail, wrinkled shirt, Dickies work trousers, braces. My old man dressed like that (sans long hair) and no one ever sought him out for fashion advice.

My thoughts exactly.
So does this outfit scream, "Target" to you? Go on, you won't hurt my feelings. Have your say. 

Ivoire de Balmain (Vintage Formulation) Review

" Arg, that smell me?! Well, you look alright...maybe no one will notice you forgot to wash."

The first few minutes of Ivoire will have you wondering what the hell you just did to yourself, and questioning what sort of masochism compels you to keep doing it. Then, it settles down a bit, giving you time to grab the inhaler to deal with the perfume induced wheezing. Albuterol-an asthmatic perfume lover's best friend. So I'm fine(ish) and Ivoire is clearing out the aldehydes to drag me through a forest of oakmoss. I do love a good romp through the oakmoss. 

I haven't smelled Ivoire since the very early 80's, when as a favour to our next-door neighbour I house-sat so her estranged husband couldn't empty the house of belongings when she was at work. My neighbour wore Ivoire, and even with her gone the scent lingered in every room of the house. It was a large house, which leads me to think she must have worn it by the gallon. A little Ivoire goes a long way-no need to over-apply. 

Having such a strong association with my neighbour, I never found myself interested enough to wear Ivoire. In my mind, I associated it with a forty year old woman in the throes of a divorce-hardly the sort of thing I'd have been looking for in 1980. Besides, I'd often pick up the smell on my clothes just from spending time over there, and it lasted for days. The thing is, Ivoire smells so much better on a person than hanging in a room. It was only after wearing it myself that I understood I hadn't really experienced Ivoire. 

You know I love a good oakmoss perfume, and Ivoire has tonnes of it. To me, Ivoire is intensely green and herbal with only the slightest bit of sweetness from vanilla and tonka bean. That said, Ivoire doesn't feel sharp to me as some green perfumes can (Yendi, Ma Griffe, etc.). After the initial irritation, Ivoire becomes softer with iris dusting everything with the finest layer of expensive talc that mentally slides over your skin as though the world's largest, softest powder puff just shook out its contents like a windless snowfall. Cool, soft, powdery without too much sweetness-it is all so beautiful until the asafoetida shows up needing a shower. Whoa, someone hasn't washed her sister* in a very long time. Or is that the musk? Sometimes I can't tell. 

So we're all grown up here, and we can manage perfumes that smell like you've just had a vigourous roll in the hay (or the oakmoss), I have to say that I appreciate the unwashed notes a bit more in Ivoire than in the cumin/coriander based perfumes that really make you smell like an overdressed Victorian in the tropics. This seems like very refined stink, besides it isn't dominant and you only catch whiffs of it from time to time which helps to cut through some of the very clean and green notes. Marigold can be almost antiseptic unless it sits alongside something bodily. It is a difficult balance to get right, but when it works-as it does here, the results are so damn enjoyable. Yes, Ivoire gets off to a dramatic (and lung irritating) start, but if you can bear it (and catch your breath) the end result is a quite beautiful perfume.  

I get a very strong pepper note in Ivoire, but I'm sensitive to pepper and can tell if someone is shaking it on their food from a room away. It isn't my favourite note in perfumery, and I've smelled so much of it over the last decade in every imaginable form (pink, black, green, white) that it seems almost too common. In 1980, it would have been a strange note, particularly for something so green and chypre-ish. I like it here, which surprises me. 

If I had to find fault with Ivoire (which I'm finding difficult to do) it would be with the incense notes of patchouli and sandalwood. They don't play well with the cinnamon and nutmeg. I get an immediate psychedelic soundtrack going in my head that ruins any sophistication Ivoire spent so much time establishing." Shapes of things before my eyes..." or my nose, or whatever.  From a perfumery standpoint, I understand the reason so many perfumes rely on patchouli and sandalwood at the base...but that doesn't mean I have to like it. It isn't overwhelming here, though combined with cinnamon and nutmeg it always has the risk of straying into Tabu territory, which mercifully it does not. 

The truth? I still can't see myself wearing Ivoire. Yes, it is a beautiful green chypre, but there are many other beautiful green chypres in my collection that I prefer to Ivoire. When you're a perfume collector, there's only so many perfumes you can wear, and I tend to be selective. After 35 years, it still evokes my neighbour and her sad, angry divorce with me dragged in to guard the sterile, perfectly, professionally, decorated house and contents. Perfume has the ability to transport a person to all sorts of places-who the hell wants to go to Highland Park, Illinois in 1982? 

Reader Grayspoole has a review of Ivoire at Fragrantica that isn't laden with personal memories that might give you a better idea what you're in for with this scent HERE.  

So what's in this shit? 
Aldehydes, asthma oakmoss, chamomile, marigold, galbanum, orris, artemisia, vetiver, carnation, asafoetida, nutmeg, incense, sandalwood, narcissus, ylang ylang, Turkish rose, pepper, patchouli, jasmine, lily of the valley, bergamot, lemon, iris, labdanum, musk, violet, tonka, neroli, amber, cinnamon, vanilla, raspberry, Mandarin orange, and vanilla. 

Yeah, I know. Fortunately, you really only smell about half of it, and for the life of me I couldn't detect any raspberry or orange which can only be a good thing (they sound so terribly wrong here). 

Ivoire is a genuinely beautiful perfume in a style we don't smell much these days. It isn't dated, or old fashioned, but rather a bit out of favour. Even if you could make an exact chemical substitute for oakmoss (and some of them are really quite close) I'm not convinced it would have a market outside of a group of  perfume enthusiasts. As a niche perfume? Sure. For a mainstream 2016 perfume-buying public? Dunno. I haven't smelled the reformulated Ivoire, but I'm guessing it is better behaved and that the tonka, vanilla, and raspberry notes have been increased. That isn't a critique-people should wear what they enjoy, and today's perfume buyers aren't going to wait two hours for a scent to develop and change (or put up with a blast of Aldehydes by way of introduction). 

I'm not sure what I'll do with 1/4 ounce of this stuff, but I'm happy to have it as a reference in my perfume collection. Maybe I can find my old neighbour and see if she wants it though I'd guess she moved on from Ivoire the same way she moved on from her first husband. I wonder if she still has the big-screen TV and the Jaguar? 

*I worked with a woman with very little "filter" who was known to remark in a low voice, "I don't think she washes her sister" about another co-worker. 

This might be the first time I've written a glowing review of something I don't wish to wear, personally. I don't want to leave you with the idea that this is an inferior perfume, as it is not. If you like oakmoss, vetiver, and marigold this might be your new (old) favourite fragrance. Just remember- apply sparingly. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Get Your Beige On

Helloooo everybody! I do hope you had a nice weekend. 

I decided to wear beige to match my walls and carpeting. I like beige-it is like a primed canvas ready to be changed-up at a moment's notice...and it shows less dirt than white!  I tend to accessorise beige with gold, but silver works too. I know beige has come to mean, "boring" but I do find it a good starting place for clothes that have no other match. I particularly like it with brown, as I've done here.

 I bought this dress last summer on one of my trips to Grand Island, NE for the fair. I can't remember exactly where along the way this was purchased (possibly Lincoln, or Seward, but I couldn't swear for certain) but I do recall that it was inexpensive. Typically, I hesitate when it comes to long-sleeves on a heavy polyester dress as they tend to get suffocating quickly. I took a risk on this one because it wasn't much money, and I love the pattern and the way it adds interest to an otherwise plain cut and coloured dress. I like looking like I'm wearing vintage upholstery fabric. Don't judge. 
Can you see the sunbeam from the door window falling into my hand? I couldn't do that again in a million tries, but it made for a fun photo. Yes, I bring the sunshine to the blogsophere. You're welcome.

 Outfit Particulars:
1960's polyester dress-Can't remember
1940's/50's swing jacket-Hand-Me-Ups
1950's straw hat-Hand-Me-Ups
Charm bracelet-built it over the years
1960's Gaymode handbag-Goodwill
1960's Gaymode shoes-Thrift World
1950's Corocraft earrings-Thrift World
Fragrance-Vintage formulation Diorissimo
Lippy-Maybellene Shocking Coral

That was Saturday. By Sunday, I still hadn't snapped-out of my mood for dull colours.

 I promise you, I'm not in a bad mood! For some reason all the photos yesterday came out looking like I was ready to tear someone's eyes out. Still, just to play it safe, you shouldn't cross me.
 The blouse and skirt are both Pendleton Country Sophisticates, their non-woolen line. They're beautiful clothes, and both are machine washable, and they seem to be impossible to wrinkle, even after a day sitting at a desk. I have better things to do with my time than iron, so hooray for wrinkle-resistant clothing. Well done, Pendleton.

This lovely little brooch hardly gets worn as most of my outfits seem to demand bolder pieces. I've been making an effort to wear pieces that have been languishing in my collection. I can't even remember the last time I wore this. It is possible I haven't in all the years I have this blog. Ooops! I need to do better with that. 

 This bracelet has matching earrings...but they hurt. Women in decades past were tougher than I am.
 Both fake, but so sparkly and pretty.  Yes, there is something wrong with my index finger. I woke up with it that way about a week ago. The swelling hasn't grown worse, but it hasn't gone down either, and I can't really bend it. I'm assuming it is arthritis, though the fact it is isolated to one finger is curious. Isn't aging the absolute best?! Still, I can't complain-I have it pretty easy on the scale of catastrophic things people suffer from. By my age my mother had already had heart surgery, cancer, diabetes, spine surgery, and a hip replacement.
These porcelain earrings are so delicate they get their own padded box for storage. I'm so concerned I might damage them that I rarely wear them. The screw-back fastenings aren't the most secure, and at some point I really ought to replace them with clips-I'm sure I'd wear them loads more if I did. 

I purchased an eyebrow marker by NYX that works like a felt-tip with a very precise point. I am IN LOVE! No more smeared eyebrow crayon. No more messy gels and powders. Sakes alive, I'm lucky to be living in this age of scientific advancements. Oh sure, discoveries about gravitational waves are important, but they don't give you perfect brow definition. Did you ever see the brows on that Einstein fellow?  

Outfit Particulars:
Skirt and top-both vintage Pendleton Country Sophisticates-Goodwill
Moda international mohair cardigan-Goodwill
Brooch-Can't remember
Rings-Shop Ko
Vintage Naturalizer shoes-Thrift World
Lippy-Cheap crayon from Walgreen's
Fragrance-Guerlain Guet Apens

There's a bloom on my gardenia tree in the sunny corner of the living room. Surely that's a good sign that spring is just around the corner. 

Have a lovely week. 

That's Right, Einstein