January 29, 2015

In which I feed a little herd of seals - also known as one of the best days of my life!




Outfit details

Blue and white bandana: eBay
Red plastic rose earrings: Claire's
Red plastic vintage necklace: Gift with online purchase years ago
Plaid shirt: Warehouse One
Burgundy lace trimmed camisole: Fairweather
Vintage reproduction green knit bolero: Miss Beta Knits
Vintage white, blue and red enamel anchor brooch: (probably) eBay
Side button 1940s style jeans: Freddies of Pinewood
Blue and white plastic stretch bracelets: Both thrifted
Red cross body mini satchel bag: eBay
Black and white saddle shoes: eBay
Lip colour: MAC Russian Red


Photography by Tony Cangiano
































































The past four months have flown by nearly at the speed of light. A mixture of marvelous holidays, poor health, bursts of productivity, powerful snow storms, and the start of 2015. Some days it feels like a rather long time since we were on Vancouver Island and yet there are also moments when it's almost as though we're still there. Those two weeks were the one of the biggest highlights of the past year for both Tony and I, who adore traveling to no end, so the latter point comes as no surprise to me.

Ill health and equally poor weather has not made for the best of conditions when it comes to taking photos around these parts lately, so before January wraps up entirely, I wanted to share at least one outfit post with you this month and thus I'm dipping into the Victoria trip vault and pulling out these snaps from what was truly an incredibly fun afternoon.

You may remember from my post 10 highlights from our awesome trip to Vancouver Island, that I chatted about the rainy day on which we had the immense joy of feeding a small herd of harbour seals at the wharf in Victoria.

Seals have been one of my favourite animals for as far back as I have memories, but never before that day had I gotten the chance to get anywhere near that close to them - let alone help to give them a free lunch! :)

The seals that congregate at the wharf there know that tourists and locals alike want nothing more than to provide them with freshly caught fish (which one purchases from a small fish monger's shop a few feet from the water's edge), but even if they're used to interacting with humans, that doesn't mean that they're not still entirely wild. They most certainly are and it's important to keep that in mind if you're interacting with these darling creatures.

Known, entirely affectionately, to locals as Rock Sausages, the seals are a hearty, friendly bunch, each with their own distinct personalities. It was fascinating to kneel down on the dock, heavy raindrop all but landing with a thud around me, and gingerly hand fish to these beautiful marine mammals. Their behaviour struck both Tony and I instantly of being incredibly dog-like and indeed, one of the sweetest of the bunch reminded us a great deal of our own dog, Annie.

It doesn't take long to feed a hungry pack of harbour seals a small plate of fish, so once we had (and after we'd taken no shortage of photographs of them), Tony and I ventured a little further down the wharf to a walkway that runs between the rows of vibrantly coloured floating homes that also reside in this corner of the mighty Pacific Ocean.

Knowing this was going to be a rugged sort of outdoors-y day, I'd dressed the part in an outfit centered my beloved Freddies of Pinewood 1940s style side button jeans and a truly fantastic bespoke pine green knit bolero that my dear friend Beta from Miss Beta Knits created for me as an incredibly kind review gift last year.

Beta, a passionate knitter, mother, wife, and fellow vintage loving lady resides in Portugal and is truly one of the kindest and sweetest people you could ever cross paths with. Her charming Etsy shop is filled with a carefully curated selection of knits that she creates using genuine mid-century patterns, such as scarves, gloves, berets, and boleros akin to the one I'm wearing in these photos. Beta also takes custom orders, so if there's a knit project you've been hankering to have made she may very well be the gal for the job.

This is the second product that I've received and review from Beta (the first was one of her fabulous Miss Marple scarves) and I truly hope that it's not the last that I'm able to add to my wardrobe from her talented knitting needles, because both are extremely well made, comfortable, soft, and delightfully vintage appropriate.

I have sported this dark green knit bolero more than any other sweater of cardigan in my wardrobe this fall and winter (especially during Christmas time, when its holiday tree hue was especially fitting) and I absolute love it to bits. It's chunky and cozy and as every bit as sweet as those precious harbour seals were.

Though four months have passed since we left for our two week holiday to Vancouver Island, the memories of that adventure packed fortnight are crystal clear in my mind still and I know that many of them, especially those of the day we fed a little heard of uber adorable seals will stay with me always. A dear and beautiful reminder of just how special Mother Nature and all her wild children are - not to mention how much they adore being handed platefuls of their favourite food!

Bar none, this was/is one of my favourite days in my whole life and I'm so happy to that we captured it on camera. You can bet your last smelt that I'll be down at the dock tossing fish to the seals the next - and all future - time(s) I'm in the majestically lovely city of Victoria and should you happen to be there yourself, I can't recommend doing so highly enough. It really is one of the more enjoyable experiences that you could ever have!

January 27, 2015

Vintage Notions by Amy Barickman: Book Review and Giveaway


There is no denying that the words of a book - the information it transmits and how we walk away from our interaction with said book - matter immensely, but there is a great deal to be said in favour of visually appealing titles, too, especially when it comes to the realm of how-to books.

As a voracious reader, primarily of non-fiction books, I come in contact with many volumes each year that fall into one camp or the other, but far less that nail stellar content and sublimely beautiful pages between the same two covers. The most recent title that knocked it out of the ballpark for me on both fronts is the tremendously lovely Vintage Notions: An Inspirational Guide to Needlework, Cooking, Sewing, Fashion and Fun written by esteemed craft industry leader Amy Barickman (who you may know from her companies Indigo Junction and The Vintage Workshop, amongst many other places).





I was sent a copy of this book, which was released in 2010, from its publisher to review and can't begin to thank them enough for this lovely gift. I had three other books on the go when Vintage Notions arrived, but they all quickly went on the back burner because I honestly could not put this title down once I'd started reading it. Every free moment I got, I poured over another chapter and lapped up this book with immense gusto.

Author Amy Barickman created a whimsical, yet very partial, book that focuses on the wisdom, work and life of Mary Brooks Picken (pictured below), who was at the forefront of the early domestic arts and sciences front in the early twentieth century. Ms. Picken was a leading authority on many topics pertaining to homemaking, sewing, and fashion, and was the founder of the Woman's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences in Scranton, Pennsylvania (as well as being one of the founding directors of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute).



{Photo of Mary Brooks Picken via Wikipedia}


The Woman's Institute offered very affordable at-home courses that readers from across America, Canada and further afield could avail of to better their own sewing skills, and by extension, their lives (be it sewing their own wardrobes, making clothing for their kids, working as a paid seamstress, etc). The Institute also published magazines and pamphlets on a wide variety of subjects pertaining to the domestic arts and it is amongst all of these sources that Amy gathered the information that makes up the bulk of her beautiful book.

In it, one finds instructions, patterns, and advice on topics pertaining to sewing, crochet, cooking, housekeeping, parties, the holidays, and timeless wisdom to help us navigate the waters of life that first appeared in this extensive Woman's Institute literature during the 1920s and early 1930s. Accompanying the text is a plethora of original vintage illustrations, as well as a gorgeous overall design to the book that includes things like page borders that are images of charming vintage fabrics.

No matter if one is a sewer or not, this book is worth its weight in gold for the history it contains and important page space that it devotes to an institution that was once at the forefront of domestic like in America. Divided into twelve chapters, one to correspond with each month of the year, Vintage Notions also includes a heartwarmingly lovely prefix at the beginning of each chapter from Amy that covers some of her own thoughts on that month and the subjects covered within it by the Institute.



{Take an exciting peak inside Vintage Notions in this engaging YouTube video from author Amy Barickman herself.}


The Woman's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences operated from 1914 until 1938, and though a focus on domestic arts remained a key point for many ladies in the ensuing two decades, by the 1960s, as the sands of society were shifting on many, many fronts, the age old arts of homemaking, sewing, knitting and similar crafts were no longer at the forefront of many women's lives in the ways that they had once been. As a result, the wisdom that the Woman's Institution had gathered, created, and shared largely fell out of the public eye, yet even in the 21st century much of it reminds poignant and practical - and for those of us who sew and sport vintage fashions, extremely handy on that front as well.

Amy Barickman has done a hat doffingly commendable job of gleaning some of the most enjoyable and practical information (and patterns) that the Woman's Institute offered its students and brought it to life in today's world with the help of her own notes and a book that is so beautifully designed, you'll not only want to keep your copy out on display, but to give this book to all of the sewing, history, vintage fashion and cooking fans in your life.

In addition to sending a copy my way, the publisher also very generously offered to give away one copy of Vintage Notions to a lucky North American Chronically Vintage reader.

If you'd like to try your hand at winning a copy of this awesome book, please feel free to do as many of the following seven things as you'd like, ensuring that you please leave a separate comment for each method that you enter with.


1. Leave a comment on this post letting me know what your favourite type of domestic art is and at least one of the ways in which it has impacted your life.


2. Blog about this giveaway on your own site, linking back to this post.


3. Like Amy Barickman on Facebook and post about the giveaway on your own Facebook page.


4. Follow Amy on Twitter and tweet about this giveaway, including the hashtag #vintagenotions in your tweet.


5. Sign up to follow Amy's blog by email (you can do so at the top of the right hand sidebar).


6. Follow, or be an existing follower, of Chronically Vintage on Instagram.


7. Like, or be an existing fan, of Chronically Vintage on Facebook.


Giveaway details

This giveaway is for one copy of the book Vintage Notions by Amy Barickman. It is open to readers from Canada and America, at the request of the publisher (apologies to my wonderful international readers), and will run from today (January 27th) until February 3, 2015.

Once the giveaway has closed, I will select a winner using a random number generator and announce that person's name on Facebook and/or Twitter shortly thereafter. If doing so is possible, I will also try to contact the winner directly by email or Facebook private message to let them know that they won and to obtain their address, which I'll pass along to the publisher who will send your prize to you directly.



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I genuinely adore Vintage Notions and would have happily reviewed and penned every last word that I said in today's post regardless of if I received it as a review gift or not. It is en elegant, sweet, wholesome, timeless tome and homage to the domestic arts that deserves a place in homes and lives of those with a passion for any branch of this field and/or history in general - plus, those who sport 1920s and/or 30s fashions are bound to especially love that the patterns in it hail from those decades.

Thank you, Amy, for writing this book and introducing Mary Brooks Picken’s wisdom, advice, and knowledge to a new generation for whom - as I'm certain Mary herself would have known – it remains as pertinent today as it was more than eighty years ago when it was first presented to the world.

January 25, 2015

25 Vintage Deals Under $100 for January 2015


Earlier this month, on January 15th to be precise, our American bullador dog, Annie (pictured below), turned two, and come the middle of March, we will have had her for full two years already as well. Oh, how time flies! Though she is still very much a youthful puppy in many respects, she has come a long way since those early days for sure and both Tony and I see her maturing and continuing to be a better behaved dog with each passing month.



{Annie in all her dog park loving glory and adorableness!}


Annie is sweet, smart as the day is long, endlessly energetic (she could wear the Energizer Battery bunny out no problem!), and absolutely gorgeous. I have no doubt that if dogs shopped for clothing, she was would be a total fashionista and were she a human, she's turn heads wherever she went. In fact, she does so now already in canine form.

Speaking of heads, I'd been scratching my own regarding what topic to place at the heart of this month's fun edition of 25 Vintage Deals Under $100 when it struck me that I could use Annie herself, in celebration of her second birthday, as inspiration and thus I decided to devote today's post to twenty-five delight dog related vintage and vintage appropriate items that are sure to have even the most ardent of cat people amongst us smiling! :)


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1. Looking a bit like a Dalmatian thanks to the spots and somewhat like a hound with the face and body shape, this immensely cute dimensional 1980s does 1950s silver tone and black enamel dog brooch is bursting with cuteness and is such a versatile novelty brooch (colour and theme wise) for all kinds of old school and contemporary ensembles. $12.00 from Chronically Vintage on Etsy.



2. As with many of the items in today's canine centered post, it was all I could do not to squeal when I spotted this uber adorable, kitschy, and very practical upcycled (its base is a mid-century ceramic planter) dog pin cushion. $28.00 from Nevermore Vintage.



3. Whether you're a sewer, a knitter, a paper crafter, or a collector of vintage buttons, these precious little red and white 1940s celluloid Scottie dog buttons are sure to make you swoon and your next project something that's really worth barking about it! :) $12.75 for five buttons from Vintage Polka Dot.Com.



4. Match holders were a once commonplace home decor piece that have no all but gone the way of the dinosaur (due to people both using less candles to light their homes and also fewer folks smoking), save for those who purposefully collect them. I'd love to add one to my own home decor some day, to be used either as intended or for bobby pins in my powder room (they also make for handy toothpick containers). This charming circa 1930s carved wooden German made dog match holder is just the sort I'll be looking for when I do finally purchase one myself. This item is on sale at the time of writing for $38.53 from Townshends Emporium.



5. I absolutely adore vintage Napco figurines and have a few peppered around our bookshelves. I don't yet have one of these over-the-moon adorable parasol holding ladies with her two darling little white poodles though. If you're also keen on this style of 1950s figurines, then you'll want to snap up this darling Napco figure with her two sweet pets asap because they don’t tend to stick around for long. $25.00 from Diana Dwain Vintage.



6. Delight the youngest dog lovers in your family with this immensely charming 1940s set of children's sized napkins and a matching tablecloth, which of course us grownup puppy fans can certainly avail of as well (how cute would one of these be under a vintage glass jar filled with dog treats?). $16.50 for all five pieces from 42nd Avenue Vintage.



7. Using it to corral books pertaining to dogs is entirely up to you, but whatever you store between these two beautiful 1940s carved wooden spaniel bookends, your bookshelf will be sure to take best in show! $20.00 for the pair from Ginger Cat Design (who also has a very similar wooden spaniel pair of bookends available for sale right now, too).



8. This fun, super kitschy vintage black chalkware poodle with lovely silver sparkles is perfect for the living room, bedroom, kitchen, powder room - any room in the house. There's never a place (save for a kitty condo perhaps :D) where a great vintage chalkware dog like this doesn't make for a welcome addition. $15.00 from Urban Recycle.



9. Serve up some seriously charming mid-century puppy style with this great set of seven vintage drink coasters each depicting a different image. $10.00 for the set from Vintage Tab.



10. With it's super darling button hole adorned sailor's collar and endlessly cute fluffy dog print, this charming 1950s/early 60s sleeveless dress is just the thing to wear out and about in the warmer months when taking your favourite pooch for a stroll. This dress is an XXS or XS and fits up to a 30 inch bust and 29 inch waist (the hips are free). $56.00 from Chronically Vintage on Etsy.



11. You'd be hard pressed to find a more iconically 1950s handkerchief than this chic cotton square depicting both a grey and a black poodle. $14.00 from Geneva Vintage.



12. Two cheerful dogs (which, I admit, do look a bit like lambs as well) leap about on this immensely sweet little pair of 1950s children's gloves that would also make for a fun decor piece in child’s room as well. $16.00 from Kitschy Vintage.



13. Two wise eyes peer out at you from the husky (or wolf) on this fantastic mid-century knit Cowachin sweater and are sure to leave an impression all who happen to walk behind you while you're sporting it. Bust measures 41 inches/waist 40 inches. $50.00 from The Arbor Vitae.



14. From towels to clothing, hankies to placemats, there's no limit to the number of spots you could use these darling vintage day-of-the-week transfer patterns on! $6.99 from Hey Chica.



15. I'm not the first to make this point, but it warrants saying often because it's so true: vintage aprons are often an incredible way to get a big hit of mid-century novelty print fabric without the price tag of a dress or skirt. This endlessly cute vintage spaniel pup covered half apron is no exception there and would look marvelous layered over all kinds of 1950s ensembles. $15.60 from Cake Box Vintage.



16. Take one look at this sophisticated, strikingly beautiful 1950s beaded black poodle purse and tell me you don't love it something fierce! (Total vintage wishlist item right here!) $65.00 from Hook Snap Honey.



17. A dignified spaniel gazes out at you from this elegantly lovely vintage portrait cameo brooch and would be just the thing to adorn a suit, blouse, dress of even hat with. $12.00 from Nevermore Vintage.



18. Lovely pale grey and sweet, feminine pink combine with black and white in this classic 1950s felt circle skirt that depicts a poodle leashed to a lamppost. What a darling, classic slice of mid-century youth culture style! Fits up to a 26" waist. $23.00 from Found By Me Vintage.



19. I make no secret of the fact that I madly adore stuffed animals/plushies, so when you combine that with my love of dogs, you can imagine how saucer-like my eyes got when I spotted this endlessly cute mid-century vintage plush bulldog toy. $30.00 from Mod Pets.


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20. Dogs have been a popular theme for Valentine's cards for nearly as long as they've been mass produced and some of the most darling on that front were created during the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, such as this smile-inducingly fun circa 1930s die cut gem. $7.49 from Grey Mountain Vintage.



21.Three stately Boxer dogs - mom and her two pups - are leashed together in this classic, wonderfully lovely vintage Lipper and Mann brand figurine set. I adore vintage leashed/chained animal sets like this and have a few in my own vintage decor collection. This great Boxer dog trio is $25.00 from The Bluest Sky.



22. I dare you to look at these vintage bulldog salt and pepper shakers, with their rather comical expressions, and not crack a smile! :) $14.00 for the pair from Lobster Bisque Vintage.



23. Believe it or not, I've never plaid bridge, but is is a game that I'd be happy to learn is anyone ever wants to teach me. If I was planning to that in the near future, I'd be very tempted to order this charming complete set of bridge cards from 1939 that feature not one, but two, playful dogs depicted on their backs. $12.00 from Bump Marie.



24.From that subtly untrusting expression to its lengthy tail, this wonderfully fun 1950s ceramic and metal coil letter holder is such a kitschy hoot! I'd be tempted to use it for storing napkins in, too. $12.00 from Mrs. Petunia.



25. And last, but certainly not least, in today's delightfully dog centered post, is this instant collection of mid-century vintage miniature dog figurines. Amongst the 15 here, you'll find ones that are bisque, ceramic, porcelain and metal. If you have a shelf or other corner of your room that could use a charming hit of canine whimsy, than this very well priced collection is just the ticket. $29.95 (for all the figurines shown) from SMN Antiques (who, at the time of writing, also has other similar vintage dog figurine lots available).



{Please click on a specific item, or the link in the description below it, to be taken to its respective listing.}

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Dogs have been an immensely popular motif and theme in fashion and accessories for many, many years now, with certain breeds such as poodles, Scotties, and Dalmatians being of particular interest (both as pets and as fashion muses) during the mid-twentieth century.

Interestingly, I've seen (and sold) poodle jewelry from the Victoria era and its highly possible that pieces featuring this beloved curly haired pup stretch further back in time still. Certainly dog themed accessories in general date back for millennia with examples being found amongst numerous ancient cultures, such as the Egyptians and Romans.
I've always been a dog (and animal in general) lover and really enjoy looking for charming vintage items of a puppy themed nature for my wardrobe and home alike ("chained" figurine sets from the 1950s are a particular favourite of mine). They can be fun, adorable, chic, artsy, elegant and many other positive things, much like our four legged canine companions themselves.
Join me then, won't you, in the spirit of pups we've known and loved (be they personal pets or simply favourite animals), currently own, or may be dreaming of brining into our lives one day and sport a delightful dog print or accessory this month in celebration of Annie's birthday. Not only will doing so be as cute as a button, but it's a great way to teach your old winter wardrobe some stylish new tricks! :)