Saturday, April 30, 2016

Good Friends Are the Best Prize

When Connie offered up the wonderful, Granny Alphabet books as a giveaway, I didn't expect to win. The best prize? A friend like the incredible Connie. Thank you for doing the lovely giveaway (and including the fascinating perfume idea how she knew I like perfume) and for being the lovely, wonderful person you are.

The straw bag may say, "Spring" but the snow flurries this morning most certainly do not! Ah well, each day it stays cold is another day I don't need to shave my legs, or polish my toenails (I try to see the positive in things).

Er...moving along...this twin-set was a lucky find at Hand-me-Ups. I do wish it were a bit larger (or that I were a bit smaller) but it is still perfectly wearable. As I'd packed away most of my warmer clothes, I was happy to find something to get me through these very odd, early days of Spring.

Outfit Particulars:
1970's (possibly late 60's) acrylic twin set-Hand Me Ups
Vintage Made in Italy bag-Goodwill
Lucite bangles-New Life Thrift
Chain and beads vintage bracelet-Sequels Thrift Store
Shoes-Vintage Naturalizers, Thrift World
Vintage Koret of California skirt-Goodwill
Dark blue Bakelite clip earrings-Hand Me Ups
Vintage celluloid and milk glass sweater clip-Sequels
Fragrance-Vintage/discontinued, Geminesse
I hope you have a wonderful week.                                                

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Weak Week

Wow, where did last week go? Sorry about that. I'm not the sort of person that gets laid-out by colds/flu but this one really did (and continues to) kick my ass. Don't worry, I won't cough on your computer screen. 

Most of the last couple weeks remain a blur in my mind, but I snapped some photos here and there when I absolutely had to get dressed, and go out. Well, I didn't go out today, because Omaha had a tornado (see previous post). I don't understand storm-chasing. I mean, why would you want to go looking for a tornado?! Anyway, I did get dressed nicely today, but one look at the weather forecast made me re-think my plans for the day. I'm glad we stayed home. Still, no point wasting a perfectly nice outfit, so....
Vintage nylon wrap skirt-Goodwill
1970's leather and tapestry Spanish-made handbag-Salvation Army, Lincoln
Vintage 1940's Naturalizer shoes-Thrift World
Bakelite bangles (both arms) various stores
Vintage lucite earrings-Hand-Me-Ups
Knit top-Hand-Me-Ups
Vintage beaded necklace-Hand-Me-Ups
Vintage brooch-Hand-Me-Ups

I'll give you a glimpse of some other interesting stuff I've worn recently but am too tired-out to write a post for. You'll forgive me, I hope. My brain just isn't working at capacity right now. 

Modern shirt and skirt, vintage accessories. 

More modern clothing with vintage accessories. All clothing, thrifted.

My inner-Hyacinth Bucket was screaming to be let out. head-to-toe 70's vintage. I'd say I'm dressed like my nan...but she dressed much better than this! 

And that's about it for the week. I made it to the Spring Affair plant sale, but my heart wasn't in it this year. We bought a few herbs and flowers, but nothing terribly special. The garden does look good (after all this rain, it should!) but I've not really been able to get out there to do much. 

Our holiday has been quiet, and house guest-free for which I'm quite grateful this year. I don't think I could have managed a big seder. We're eating lots of salads from the garden, and fish which limits the amount of cooking I need to do. I have enough sense to know when it is time to plant myself on the sofa in front of the television, and call it a day. 

I'm going to need my rest because tomorrow I'm picking up 40 lbs. of apricots so Danny can do the yearly, "Apricot Olympiad". The first crop of California apricots are more expensive, but they're always nicer. We were able to negotiate a good price this year, so that was lucky. Danny's planning jam, preserves, apricot butter, apricot chutney, pickled apricots, and some other stuff I've forgotten. The best of the caning will be his State Fair entries in September, so there's quite a bit riding on getting good apricots. Anyway, that's our weekend plans. I'm getting tired just thinking about it, so I;d better go have a lie down. Between apricots, the flu, and a tornado I'm ready for a snooze.

I hope your week is going well. 

Today's Weather in Omaha

That's a tornado twenty blocks from our home, straight up Dodge Street.

What's incredible is that there doesn't seem to be much damage other than some blown-down fences. This is a populated area (large office buildings, supermarkets, housing) at this was just as children were walking home from school in the afternoon. We were very lucky today.

We're being pelted with heavy rain, hail and wind at the moment, but compared to what we had earlier, I'll take it. I will say taking cover in our finished basement is much nicer than the muddy storm cellar we had on the farm. The weather radio, and outside sirens started blaring, and having been hit by a tornado back in 2008, I don't take chances. We took cover and watched the tornado on-line from the safety of a cement-walled basement.

This is a good time to take the opportunity to recommend purchasing an emergency weather radio. You can't always rely on the sirens going off (in time, or at all) and it is the best $30.00 you can spend for ensuring your safety. You know, in case this happens...
That was pieces of the neighbour's hay barn hanging high in the tree on our front lawn in 2008. The remainder of the barn landed on the Volvo. They're solid cars, but they can't really withstand a barn. 

Anyway, take the weather warnings seriously, and stay safe. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Cliche? Kiss My Corn-Fed Ass!

Oh look, a Nebraskan cooking corn. How original. 

 Corn from the southern United States is finally showing up in our supermarkets, which provided me with an opportunity to share my favourite technique for roasted corn. We won't get local corn for a few months, but you know Nebraska-if we have to go fifteen minutes without thinking about/talking about/or eating corn, we might well die! We even put it in our cars as fuel.
This is how I roast corn without using a grill:

To remove corn from cobs:
Stand ear of corn on end, and with a sharp knife scrape downward. It helps to do this over a cutting board, or into a bowl.

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a bowl, combine cut corn kernels with 2-3 tablespoons corn oil (depending how much corn you have). Add whatever herbs and spices you like (I did tarragon tonight, but chili powder works well if you plan to serve refried beans) and salt to taste. Mix well and spread on a rimmed-edge baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes, stir, and cook another 10-15 minutes until lightly browned.

Serve hot or cold. I served this tonight over a bed of lettuces and baby greens from our garden.

 Speaking of the garden, I put up netting as a trellis for the peas this year. We'll see how it goes-I'm not sure I like the look of a volleyball net in my garden! The spinach, kale, scallions, and lettuces are growing like mad. The sorrel came back even better this year as well as the borage and a few clusters of violas that overwintered.

 Fat Frog is back in his favourite garden spot, munching on sorrel.
 My columbines bloomed. They overwintered in the pot. I thought for certain they were dead, and I'm glad I was too lazy to tip the dirt out of the pot last winter! It is a warm, sheltered spot in front of the house, and it gets the exhaust from the tumble dryer vented out beside it.
 I bought this planter last weekend because...OBD.  I have "No eyed deer" what I'll plant in it.
 Come on heirloom rocket...grow. Mr. Froggy will play a song for you called, "Grow already you *#$@&%^^(_!!! lettuce!" There's a cluster of  some other lettuce in there that seems to be doing fine.
Anyway, everything is greening up nicely, but I know better than trusting the weather. We're really not safe until the second week in May, at least for more delicate items. I'm growing okra, cumin, carrots, and other vegetables that can't go outside quite yet. I have carnation seedlings in my sunny windowsill that are doing well, and hopefully they will survive. This weekend is the big plant sale in Lincoln, and that's where I like to buy my herbs. A few have lived in my sunny window, but aren't ready to move out. The bay laurel is still alive by some miracle, as are the lime tree and gardenia. 

The "Hall Tree" had a Spring makeover. I haven't removed the owl's Santa Cap because I don't quite feel comfortable climbing a chair to do it. Eventually, he'll get a July 4th flag or something. 
Someone arranged the books artfully at Hand-Me-Ups (it wasn't me, but I know the guilty party!). Sort of a public service announcement. 

Outfit Particulars:
1980's Hawaiian Creations vintage dress-Goodwill
Cardigan-Dots in Revere, MA about 16 years ago
Vintage beaded necklace-Salvation Army, Lincoln
Bakelite bangles-Salvation Army, Goodwill, Hand-Me-Ups (aka, "All Over")
Vintage vinyl handbag-Goodwill
Vintage Natrualizer sandals-Thrift World
Vintage crystal clip earrings-Hand-Me-Ups
Vintage Brooch-Had it so long, I forgot!
Floral hair clip-Tiff and Tam about 10 years ago

I'm still blowing my nose like a damn foghorn, and coughing up hairballs (meow!) but it looks like this might be less severe than I feared (fingers crossed). I'm taking things easy anyway as next week is going to be madness around here, but hopefully this post doesn't sound as scatter-brained as I feel. People tell me I'm still making sense (but they're my friends, and your friends are supposed to say that whilst thinking, "She's lost the plot."). 

I must walk past this memorial wall on the campus several times a week, but never noticed one of the inscriptions:

I wonder if you could get away with that today? When the wall was dedicated in the 80's, people still had a sense of humour. 

Geez. Is it really only Tuesday? Okay, Onward!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Good Morning, it is Another Lovely Day in The Village

Ah no, never mind, that's just a weather balloon. I'm sure I was the only person there wanting to yell, "I'm not a number I am a free man!"

Today was the annual Great Plains Weather Symposium in Lincoln. They did all the usual stuff for kids, and the emergency management people putting the fear of (acts of) god into anyone that wandered near enough their exhibits.

Danny tried his hand at being a television meteorologist.

We took the yearly tornado photo in front of the backdrop.
I found these two turkeys downstairs.
We've had all sorts of turkey problems in Eastern Nebraska lately with them crashing through windows and being general menaces.

Danny gave them a good talking to, and they promised to be better behaved in the future.

There were students demonstrating "Firenadoes" which is exactly what it sounds like. In a wildfire, they can be a serious problem for firefighters. We did not however see any, "Sharknadoes."

We stopped at the Lincoln Salvation Army thrift store on the way home for a peek around. I'm currently really horribly sick, (no exaggeration) and not at all in the mood to look around. I didn't even bother with the clothes, but I did find yet another Collins-esque bucket bag (that makes 4) and five bakelte bangles (and one clamper style) for $1.99 each. I have return to Lincoln next week, so hopefully I'll be in better shape for shopping. I was certain it was allergies (coughing, sneezing, etc.) until the sore throat and fever came in. A quick look at the local health department website when I got home confirmed my fear that the flu is peaking in Nebraska at the moment. It was strange-typically you see it in the winter, not spring. Obviously if I had suspected flu I wouldn't have gone out in public spreading it, but it was only as the day wore on that it got worse (and worse, and worse).

Fashion-wise, it was a rather uninspired week. The weather's still flaky, and so am I! This Indian skirt cost a buck at Goodwill, and I think the top was about the same. The bag is something I've had for years but didn't have use of for a very long time as Danny would store his building blocks in it when he was very small. Eventually, he moved on to Lego, and I got my bag back.

At some point last week (Tuesday, I think) I wore a vintage Hawaiian shirt with an 80's linen jacket from Nordstrom. Then, I promptly spilled coffee on the jacket so it is off to the dry cleaner as I don't want to make the damage worse. I really shouldn't have nice things-I just ruin them.

Yes, my Chucks say, "Left and Right" at the toes. I've had them since I was a teenager. They get strange looks (and comments) when I wear them out...but what part of my wardrobe doesn't? 

Do I look like I care?

I wore a linen and wool blend Italian made jacket and trousers to visit the wildlife refuge in Iowa. It is a nicely made thing, but it irritates me that the buttons all started falling off with the first wear. This was NWT when I bought it at Goodwill, and from the tags it looks like someone spent a good chunk of change on it. For that kind of money, I'd like the buttons sewn on properly. Otherwise, it was perfectly comfortable, if a bit easy to wrinkle. 

They put the bird shapes on the windows because the birds are too stupid to avoid flying into them. They only help so much. I've had grackles slamming against my patio window all week, and we have stickers on them as well. So far, none of them hit hard enough to break the glass (that happened a few times on the farm). 

I wish I could remember what fragrances I wore, but the whole week was a blur (Probably because I was already getting sick). Still, it wasn't a bad week overall, and I did manage to accomplish a number of things, even if it didn't feel like it at the time. 

We're heading into the end of the semester (we go year-round, so there isn't a proper summer off) and I need to put together next year's syllabus before the end of June (it isn't due until July, but I'm not a last minute sort of person). For a few weeks that's all I think about, and I complain endlessly. Still, once that is out of the way I can relax and enjoy the summer classes without a deadline hanging over my head. I've vowed to get it done early this year-but I'm sure I'll still be fine-tuning it into June. I wonder how long I can put off teaching Milton? 

Okay, I'm off to cough up a hairball find some cough suppressant . Danny drew a picture of the sun modeled on my sunny disposition. 
I'll just keep on coughing up pieces of my lungs bringing the sunshine. 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

It Only Took Forty Years

My first big baking, "Fail" came in home Economics class when I ruined a batch of Seven Minute Frosting. Over the years, I've tried at least a couple dozen times and either it never reached spreading consistency, or it formed large lumps of solid boiled sugar within the frosting. It bothered me. I'm rather good in the kitchen, and I can make everything from fondant to buttercream without difficulty-so why on earth couldn't I manage a stupid Seven Minute Frosting?   Needless to say, today was a special day because what you see there peeking out from the coconut is a perfect seven minute frosting-no shards of hard candy enclosed.

I had to rig-up a double boiler using the basket of my food mill and a metal mixing bowl, but it did the trick, though the "seven minutes" was closer to fifteen. No matter, I made Mr. ETB the coconut cake with a lemon filling as an anniversary present (he adores coconut and lemon) and Danny marked the date in the cookbook with a note beside the recipe reading, "Mother didn't ruin it." No, no she did not.

If I thought my (then) elderly Home Economics teacher were still alive I'd track her down and send a photo. I remember her as rather severe and intimidating. After demonstrating numerous times that I could neither sew nor cook, she suggested I consider taking "Shop", advice which I followed. I was much better with rulers and saws than measuring cups and yardsticks.

Seven Minute Frosting from Better Homes and Gardens Cake and Pie Cookbook 1966

2 unbeaten egg whites
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/3 cup cold water
Dash salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place all ingredients except vanilla in the top of a double boiler. Beat 1 minute with an electric mixer or rotary beater. Place over but not touching boiling water and beat constantly until frosting forms stiff peaks (about 7 minutes or in my case, fifteen). Remove from water, scrape into a clean mixing bowl and beat in vanilla extract. Beat until frosting has a spreading consistency-about 2 minutes. This makes enough to frost a 2 layer cake or about 24 small cupcakes (not the mammoth ones you see today). 

I baked a bread as well since the oven was already hot and I was going to be home all day. Danny made an interesting lima bean and tomato stew for supper that went well with a crusty bread. He's still making dinner every Friday and staying within a budget. The stew was incredibly cheap, so he gets to keep the difference (quite an incentive to be thrifty).

Around the time I was flunking Home EC, I started collecting the "Skulls". At one point I had more than a dozen, but these are all that remain. These aren't true Momento Mori" pieces (which I love but cannot afford) but they became a sort of trademark style of mine for many years, often worn on both hands. It was funny as I wasn't terribly tough looking, and they seemed so out of place with Laura Ashley dresses. I'd completely forgotten them until Danny mentioned something, and I went looking through my jewelry chest for them.
 I was pleased they still fit, given all the swelling in my hands. As I've aged, my hands have become bonier and my fingers though swollen, seem to have less fat on them (of all the places I could stand to lose weight, the Universe sees fit to take it from my shoulders and fingers. I mean, WTF?).
On my other hand are two rings I had as a teenager (centre two) and two that belonged to my mother. It was like being reunited with old friends, and though it has been years since I've worn this many rings at once, it felt absolutely right-at least until it was time to start kneading dough and washing up. I have a nice little ring holder in the powder room, but it wasn't made to accommodate this much metal.

As a collector of vintage I sometimes overlook items I purchased new, and have had in my possession long enough to become, "Vintage." I used to object to the 80's being called vintage-now the 90's are. In the 90's I remember being pleased that slip dresses were back in fashion as I'd saved the white one  from the late 70's I had to have after Debbie Harry wore one on the cover of Parallel Lines. Now, they're back as a 90's revival (though I've gotta say, wearing them over a poloneck is stooooooopid. In fact, it is so stupid it requires the "oooooooo" spelling).

I'm going to make an effort to dig out some of my older items I take for granted to feature on the blog. Eventually, someone will turn to Google images looking for a picture of the white poloneck with tiny red hearts printed on it that they bought in 1978, and I want to be able to help. I've been selective about what I've kept, and for various reasons they are important to me (though in the case of the poloneck, probably not important to the history of 20th Century fashion). It will be nice to give them some time out of storage, even if I wouldn't ever consider wearing them again.

Did you have any trademark looks you've abandoned over the years?

Have you ever successfully made seven-minute frosting?