March 17, 2017

Retiring Chronically Vintage


Yesterday, after two very snowy weeks of early March, I felt the first tender rays of springtime warmth dance upon my skin. I took Annie out back and together we played amongst them, both entranced by a sensation that we had very nearly forgotten.

It was a moment of simple, untainted pleasure of that sort we all long for in our lives and it reminded me a great deal of the powerful feelings of warmhearted compassion that myself, Tony and Annie have been incredibly blessed to receive from scores of wonderful people – including many in the vintage community – over the past five months since the fire.

From that horrific day onward, there has been a part of me that had suspected this post would eventually happen. Perhaps many of you saw it coming as well.

What occurred to us on that fateful, (ironically) rainy October night changed us forever. In one fell swoop it rewrote our lives and tore into the fabric of who we were at our very cores.

Though some pieces have been mended, others that remained (now) strengthened, and some are lost forever, we are not the same people we were before the fire. I highly doubt most folks would be, if they went through something similar.

Hardship and challenges make you and shape you. They can break you, too, if you let them. Yet from that very first evening as we stood cocooned in shock and grief, we swore that we wouldn’t let that happen and with your profound help (of every conceivable variety), love and support, it hasn’t.

Though I had, for some time, remained optimistic that I’d be able to pick up here much like before, in the ensuing five months it has become glaringly apparent to me that such is simply not possible.

Too much has changed. Though my love for vintage, my tremendous appreciation for this community, and my passion for rocking old school styles will never waver for a moment, I have come to realize that, as much as it genuinely pains me to the pit of my soul, I need to retire this blog.

Between the continued (very) poor state of my health in the wake of the blaze, the challenging road ahead as we continue to rebuild our lives, and the reality that certain things can never go back to as they once were, I know in my heart of hearts that this is what is right and healthy for me at this stage in my life.

I want each of you to know, and pray that you will believe me when I say, that this decision did not come easily or lightly. I agonized over it relentlessly for months and talked about it with Tony until I the point where I wouldn’t have been the least bit surprised if he’d started throwing things at me to get me to drop the subject (of course my sweet husband would never actually do that, but I wouldn’t have blamed in the slightest him if he had!).

For the better part of eight years (including the 2.5 for which, before the fire, I had my eponymously named Etsy shop as well; it will not be returning either), this blog was a huge part of my world – just as each of you were.

I adore, care about, and appreciate all of you more than you will ever know. Parting ways, in a vintage blogging context at least, is beyond hard for me to do.

I have had many sleepless nights, shed my fair share of tears, negatively impacted my health further from the stress of debating what to do, rung my hands nearly raw with anxiety, searched the furthest recesses of my heart, and, again, did not get to this point easily or lightly. Please know however, that it is a choice that I have reached for certain. 

Here we are then and there’s no sense in dragging things out.

Instead I will thank you – each and every one of you – for the innumerable ways you’ve enriched my life since Chronically Vintage began in April 2009. We’ve talked, we’ve laughed, we’ve inspired one another, we’ve grown as people, we’ve changed, and we have come to be dear friends.





{You mean the world to me - each of you. Thank you for the great times, the kinship, and for your understanding about my tremendously difficult decision to retire CV. Vintage photo image source.}


In our darkest hour, you were there for me and my family and I will be grateful for your help, compassion and remarkable generosity (including both your monetary donations and care packages) for as long as I live.

The physical gifts you gave me (us) helped me to come back to many important parts of myself. They cloth me, we eat off of them, we even bath with some of your presents (soaps and a beautiful floral print shower curtain, for instance). You often knew what we needed, even if, in our haze of grief, we didn’t.

You took us by the hand and the heart, you believed in us and we have grown stronger in many ways again because of you – just as I have always derived strength and comfort from this amazing community.

While I will no longer be blogging here at Chronically Vintage, I plan to keep this site (which houses just over 1,500 posts) alive for all to enjoy, learn from, and be inspired by.

You can continue to connect with me on social media, where as time goes on, I hope to share an even broader scope of myself and my many different interests – a giant one of which will, of course, forever be vintage.

Thank you all so much. Thank you for the memories, the smiles, the joys, the ways in which you've helped me grow, and countless other things that will stay with me for all of my days. 

I want you to know that you can always email me and that, I hope, should any of you ever find yourself in dire straights, I can be there for you however possible, too. Just ask, night or day.

I won’t say goodbye, instead I will say that I love you. That you mean more to me than I could ever begin to put into words, and that I hope with all my might you’ll understand my exceedingly difficult decision to retire from this blog and to look ahead to other (largely unknown at present) chapters in my life.

It has been a joy and an honour to connect with all of you throughout CV’s life and I look forward to continuing to do so via social media (particularly on Instagram and Pinterest), your blogs, emails, snail mail, and other avenues for a long time to come.

Friendship, much like the appeal of the past itself, is often timeless and so too, in my eyes, are each of you. 


Forever and always your friend in all things vintage,
❤ Jessica

February 28, 2017

A little post with big news!


Hello, my sweet, wonderful friends! How are each of you as February wraps up? It's hard to believe that more than a month has whipped past since my last blog post here (for which I really cannot thank you all enough for your incredibly caring, supportive comments on). And - at the risk of veering into broken record territory - though this site remains very much on hiatus, I simply had to share some excellent news here with all of you.

As many of you know, Tony and I have been searching, ceaselessly, high and low for the past two months trying to find longer term housing (as our current digs were only temporary - especially since the lovely homeowners may convert it to an AirBnb soon and major renos on both floors have been underway for the last two months, whilst we were living here, to make the house even lovelier and more contemporary looking).

To say that this was one of the hardest and most stressful tasks of our entire lives would not be a stretch. The housing (especially rental) market around these parts is abysmal at best and laughable at worst. Think staggering high prices (even for shared accommodations; which was not something we were looking for at all), tons of competition for the few places that surface, homes that were/are often in deplorable condition, and a serious shortage of properties that accept pets.

Around the clock throughout all of January and very nearly the entire month of February, we searched, contacted listings, viewed homes, applied, and continually expanded our search radius as far as nine hours away from Penticton. With each passing day, our stress level rose and our already taxed nerves grew more frayed.

In the end though, mercifully, we didn't have to go anywhere near that far afield. As February started to draw to a close, we were elated and beyond thankful to have been approved and selected by the owners of a beautiful two-story home in the nearby community of Okanagan Falls and couldn't say "yes" quickly enough to their rentership offer.

This house was our favourite of all those we saw and the one we most hoped to be selected for. It checks off our major needs (including having a fenced backyard for our dog, Annie, to utilize), is in a safe, quiet neighbourhood, and is owned by really nice people who live right here in the Southern Okanagan, too.

Our new little community, Okanagan Falls (aka, OK Falls), is a spot that has appeared here in some of my outfit shoots over the years (such as this one from 2013), and which I've always enjoyed spending time in.

We're both delighted to be so close (just twenty minutes away) to Penticton (where we were living at the time of the fire) still and moreover to have a great new roof over our heads. As well as, we hope and pray, the ability to finally stop feeling like we're in a state of topsy-turvy flux and uncertainty (regarding housing) after what happened to us last October.



{Our boxes are packed, we've got a small team of friends and family to help, and tomorrow we'll be hopping from one side of Skaha Lake to the other when we move into our terrific new abode in Okanagan Falls. I truly cannon wait! Mid-century moving day photo image source.}


I've had to move houses really quickly a few other times in my life, but less than a week to pack, switch over services (utilities, internet, etc), get a new PO box, and scads of related things is definitely a new record for the fastest I've ever changed homes and we've not had a moment to even stop and catch our breath since signing our new lease.

I'm certainly not complaining though - far from it! This house (I don't have a photo of it yet, but will try to post one on my social media in the near future) is just perfect for us and we can't begin to convey how incredibly grateful we are for it (just as we were to have our temporary home in Kaleden over the winter months).

It is my sincere hope that once we're settled in and unpacked, I can finally allow myself some time to properly rest, recoup, recover, grieve (further), and get a better handle on where my health, life and very future itself are at this stage.

On the exact same day that we signed our new lease, our old house (the one that was destroyed by the fire) was finally demolished (they'd needed milder temps in order to safely do so). Some might see that simply as a coincidence, but to me it much more than just that and stands as the absolute perfect symbol of one chapter in our lives ending and another beginning.

None of knows what the future holds in store for us, but quite literally tomorrow, I know that we'll be moving into our new house and - even though my health is in shambles right now and I've rarely been more exhausted on every level than I presently am - I simply can't stop smiling and thinking positive thoughts about the life that we'll create and live in Okanagan Falls.

January 18, 2017

The totality (and impact) of losing everything


This is not, by any means, the most lighthearted of topics for my second entry of new year, I know, but I feel that in order to proceed forward and start afresh in my life, I truly need to share these thoughts with all of you.

As we sit here just over half of the way through January, it strikes me that it is entirely possible that the complete impact - insomuch as it pertains to our lives in the much longer run - may not have even fully presented itself yet, but again, I want and need to get some of these thoughts and reflections down on virtual paper all the same.

Most of you are aware that three months ago now, in mid-October, Tony and I lost our home, virtually all of our possessions, and our precious cat, Stella, when an arson fire destroyed the entire fourplex that our home belonged to.



{Exceptionally large volumes of water were required by the local fire department to put the multi-home blaze that destroyed our house out on the night of October 13th. It took several hours, but they were eventually successful in quashing the blaze before it spread to any of the dozens of other condos/townhouses in the immediate area. The end result of such though was that on top of the smoke and fire damage itself, our possessions were greatly harmed by water as well, including over five whole feet worth's that was shot into the basement alone - as you can imagine, everything there was a total write off, as was very nearly everything else in the whole house. Vintage image source.}



In the immediate aftermath, shock and disbelief filled our days. Our brains – or at least mine - fluctuated constantly from feeling completely foggy to clear as a bell. Adrenaline fueled us onward for weeks, sleep was elusive (and fraught with nightmares when it did happen), and we absolutely had to focus on tasks like the arduous insurance claim process, getting an approved removal crew into the burned out remains of our house (this step was required for our insurance claim), and buying those day-to-day staples of life that were most pressing and important.

Amidst this chaos, emotions soared, hearts ached, and a sense of disbelief rang out across the crisp autumn air. One day we had a happy home filled with our belongings, I was running my Etsy shop, our pets were both fine, and we were getting ready to celebrate our wedding anniversary the very next day (October 14th).

Then, that night, everything changed instantly when one person's staggeringly malicious, thoughtless and life threatening act destroyed just about everything under our roof (save, thank goodness, for our own lives and that of our precious dog, Annie).

More than mere things themselves, I was struck almost instantly by the haunting sense that I had lost my very identity (or at least a sizable portion of it) - as well as the cocoon of comfort and serenity that I had build up for myself throughout my adult life.

As a someone who does relentless battle day in and day out with multiple severe chronic illnesses and who is frequently far too unwell to leave the house for days, weeks, and sometimes even months at a time, my home was my beautiful sanctuary. It wasn't huge, but it teemed with items of all sorts that brought me incredible joy and peace, inspiration and comfort.

In many ways, it really did feel like a suit of armour that helped, at least in part, to shield me from whatever life threw our way - that is until it vanished quite literally in a (giant) puff of smoke.

I remember, shortly after the fire, sitting on my parent's couch one morning - borrowed clothing hanging from my exhausted shoulders - and being struck by the fact that I felt an unforgettable mix of numbness, gut wrenching emotion, and as though I was witnessing someone else's life unfold before my eyes, as right then and there, my world no longer felt like my own.



{For the first few weeks immediately following the fire, I felt adrift without my usual wardrobe, surroundings and possessions. It was an alien and vastly unpleasant sensation and one that I would never wish on anyone. Thankfully, the more time that passes, the less this feeling takes center stage. Vintage image source.}


Mercifully, though elements of those feelings all still linger, something astonishing happened to help bring me back to myself: all of you.

From your staggeringly generous monetary donations, to your awesome care packages, to supporting us via the surprise of a lifetime that was the private VSS, literally thousands (in total) of caring emails, private messages, and blog comments, and scores of other amazing ways, the vintage community was there to catch me and Tony and Annie alike as we proverbially fell further and further into the abyss of this tragedy.

Your hands and hearts reached out to us. In some instances we didn't know yet know you, in others we'd been friends for many years, and in others still, we might have only been acquainted for a short while, but no matter what, you were there for us.

It was as humbling and touching a thing as either of us have ever experienced in our entire lives and the mere words "thank you" will never feel like enough to express our deepest of gratitude to all of you.

There is a great totality that comes with losing everything (again, virtually - we estimate that we lost at least 99.95% of everything that we had before the blaze and I really want to stress that, of course, while I'm speaking mostly from a first person perspective here, my darling husband Tony lost everything, too, and was likewise hit to his core by such) - especially when it is caused by someone else's hands and comes completely out of the blue.

"Everything" may be an easy ten letter word to say, but wrapping one's mind around - and fully accepting - what that really means in terms of your home and its contents is another beast entirely.

At first - and to a degree, still even now - the closest thing that my brain could compare how it felt to suddenly not be around my possessions any longer was to liken it to being on a holiday and having lost your luggage en route, thus seeing yo reach your destination with just the clothing on your back.

This was no vacation though - very far from it - and as we came came to grips with what losing everything really did entail, a barrage of emotions, thoughts and pain hit us hard. Yet we persevered.

We were alive and unscathed physically by the blaze, we had each other and Annie, and as dark as things were, a voice deep inside of us kept reminding us that there would be brighter days again - we would just need to be patient and keep working hard to make them happen.

Though most of you know me primarily because of my strong ties to, and passion for, all things vintage and I certainly lost a substantial amount of antique, vintage, vintage reproduction, and vintage appropriate items (some categories of which - such as hats, plastic jewelry, and mid-century novelty print skirts, as well as books, magazines and catalogs - continue to pain me more than I could have ever imagined their loss to do), that was not all that I lost by any means.


Some other key categories of my personal belonging included the following:

-A massive supply of scrapbooking, stamping and other paper crafting related supplies (honestly, I had more than I could probably have ever used in ten lifetimes and it was a collection that I was both proud of and extremely grateful for). As well, all of my completed scrapbooks were lost, too. That cuts to the core, let me tell you.

While fortunately I did have photographs that had been uploaded to Scrapbook.com of some of my finished projects, dozens of pages and cards hadn't been shared publicly yet and as my computer and our external hard drives were all destroyed in the fire, so too were the images of I had of these creations.

The loss of my craft room and its contents is on my mind constantly and, as time goes on, rebuilding a new version of it will be an immense priority for me, as crafting is essential to my happiness, well being, and the state of my health.


-A large supply of jewelry making products, tools, and related items including multiple totes full of vintage findings, cabochons, beads, charms, etc.

-A smaller, but still decent sized, selection of other assorted crafting supplies, including items for cross stitching, embroidery, sewing (sewing machine included), and holiday decor making.

-All of my photography equipment - Canon DSLR, lens, flashes, tripods, stands, backdrops, a white box, camera bags, etc. You name it, it was destroyed.

-Over 600 modern books (and hundreds of vintage ones, too), plus dozens and dozens of crafting and home decor related magazines.

-A substantial collection of Canadian and (to a lesser degree) international Girl Guide and Girl Scout patches, badges, pins, books, uniforms, and other related items, many of which would be next to impossible - due to their scarcity - to replace these days, even if one had Bill Gate's bank account at their disposal.

-A few dozen plush toys (stuffed animals), a few modern dolls (including some Pullips and their wardrobes), and even a few of my childhood toys.

-Oodles of Halloween and Christmas decor (including some family heirloom items), and a smaller array of decor for various other holidays.

-At least three large totes of items from my childhood + teenage years and another couple full of keepsakes, letters, and souvenirs pertaining to my adult life.

-A substantial number of items pertaining to my spirituality.

-Every single item (listed or unlisted at the time of the fire) for my Etsy vintage shop, as well as all of my props, packaging and shipping materials, and every thing else related to my business.




{Like most of us, I had amassed my possessions over the course of many years and listing everything would be quite the task, so I've opted to just focus on some of the key areas here, especially since they're the same ones that I'll be aiming to rebuild collections of from here on out. Vintage image source.}


There are were many other things, too - from family photo albums to 40+ metal cookie cutters, medical supplies to our printer - that were lost, as well scores of the sorts of things that most of us barely even think about on a day-to-day basis, such as toothbrushes, pots and pans, undergarments, vitamins, and countless other items.

As well, in losing my computer and external drive, I lost a great deal of information and images pertaining to my blog, including Word documents that housed hundreds of potential ideas for future blog posts, all of the images I’ve shared here over the years (including photos of myself), drafts of about twenty future blog posts, and research that had been gathered for dozens more.

I want, and need, to mention, that I don't list the physical items above or talk about what I used to own in any sort of (intentionally) bragging or even so-called "humble bragging" kind of way. That is , categorically, the polar opposite of the type of person that I am and I would never want anything that I do or say to come across in that way.

This post is being penning both as a healing tool for myself and, to a degree, for a sense of posterity, as well as to honour, in a way, the memory of those items that were lost.

My collection took a lifetime to amass - a combination of online and in person purchases, coupled with a fair number of items that were amazing gifts from friends, family, CV readers, neighbours, and (in more recent years) blog sponsors, too.

A great deal of what I had was bought on sale and very often even modest items were saved for before being purchased. I never took what I had for granted and was (and still am) immeasurably grateful to have had an abundance of possessions pertaining to so many areas that are near and dear to my heart before the fire.

Given that we were grossly under insured (far more so than we realized before the fire; we would have increased our coverage had we known), we won't be able to replace most of what we lost beyond the bare bones basics of our household needs (dishes, bedding, towels, a table and chairs, etc), nor are we otherwise in an economic position to do so.

This stings, of course, but as I constantly remind myself, once, a fairly long time ago now, I started out with nothing and created the life that I (and later "we") had as an adult.

There was a time when I didn't own a single scrapbooking item, when I could fit all my books into a lone backpack, and further back still, when I was just starting to wear vintage and owned less mid-century pieces than I had fingers on one hand.

Though I never imagined that I'd need to start from scratch again in some many different areas of my life at the age of 32, that I am (doing) and instead of bemoaning what was lost, I am just thankful to be alive and to have the chance to rebuild certain collections over the course of time.

There are many, many factors that will prevent me from most likely having the same sized collections again - at least not for decades - and I accept all of those as best I can.

Some of these factors include things such as that a lot of what I used to own was bought online back when the US and Canadian dollars were on par and (also) USPS postage rates were still reasonable, that there are few to none (depending on the category of items) shops in our town that sell such items, and that that our household budget and expenses are vastly different today than where they were, say, when I was in my mid-twenties. In addition, there is the critical fact that we need to focus our finances elsewhere at present and for the foreseeable future.

It is certainly possible that some categories may never really materialize into collections again (I sense Girl Guide related items may be one such area, for example) and again, others will likely be smaller.

As much as I'd love to go on a giant shopping spree, that isn't even remotely possible. Instead, in what is perhaps a very vintage approved sort of manner, I will gather items slowly and with great though. Each dollar weighed, each purchase contemplated. Baselines, so to speak, of various categories will be - and in some cases, already are beginning to be - established and built upon.

Just as Rome wasn't built in a day (though, much like our old house, it too burned), my future wardrobe and the other areas of my world that matter to me will take time to rebuild.

I am trying to look upon this as challenge as an adventure. A chance to hone in all the more on those areas that matter most to me, to discover new treasures, rewrite wish (and holy grail/unicorn) lists, and not, importantly, feel like I need, by any means, to own as much as I did before.

I loved everything that I had and will miss nearly all of it for the rest of my life, but thankfully in the world at large, there are still lots of most of those types of things to be had and some of them will end up living with me.

We lost so much that night. At first I felt like a fish out of water. My vintage threads were gone, my comfort zone had been obliterated, our wonderful cat's life was taken, and my Etsy business was destroyed. Our lives were on their heads and everything felt out of sorts.

Now, several weeks after the fire, thankfully, a greater sense of order is beginning to enter our world again. We have met - in no small part thanks to the aid of others - many of our basic needs, we have a temporary roof over our heads until at least this March (the search began in full force earlier this month for longer term accommodations, as touched on here), and there is a degree of structure in our world again.

It isn't the same world as before the blaze. That would be impossible. It different. Starkly, extremely different, but it is also positive because we've survived and in time, that survival will, we truly hope, progress to thriving as well.

The unexpected can happen to any of us at any point in time. Tragedy hurts, loss hurts, and devastation hurts. It is important to feel those emotions and not try to brush them off, to live through the process honestly and openly. Yet it is also just as important to believe in the future and yourself. To think positively and focus more on what you still have, then what was stripped away.

There are, and will continue to be, many challenges in our lives that would not have been present if this arson fire didn't occur, but that's okay. We'll tackle them head on, bolstered by the strength of those who care about us and a steadfast belief that we rise up again.

This new year is the ideal time to really begin down that path and I am so thankful that it's here. I have no clue what 2017 holds in store, but I can promise you that it will see us continue to fight, to put the pieces back together, and to reconnect with many things that have been integral parts of our world for a long time now.



{Even when - and arguably even more so - times are tough, there are still valuable constants in our life to focus on and get excited about, and few work better for new beginnings than the annual return of January. Vintage image source.}


Even though my previous belongings are gone, it's awesome that Chronically Vintage and the online community at large that it belongs to are still here. Physical objects matter and there's nothing wrong with that in the slightest, but life, how will fill our days, the relationships we experience, how treat one another, and the way that we lead our lives matter far more.

Thank you for allowing me the chance to share these cathartic thoughts with of all of you here today - very good job, if you've made it this far. I know this wasn't the smallest of blog posts by any means. :)

Here's to 2017 - each day and every hour, the prospects and promises that it holds in store, the many firsts and old favourites alike.

Let us hope that it is not only a good year, but a great one for ourselves, our loved ones, and the world at large. We need it something fierce!


*PS* Thank you very much for as well to everyone who commented on my last post and/or otherwise expressed care and concern regarding my minor surgery last week. I'm happy to report that it went smoothly and that I'm now recovering at home (I'll have my followup doctor's appointment in a few days's time).

My health in general though, as touched on in that same post, is struggling massively in the aftermath of the fire. It took me, for example, more than two full weeks - working in stops and starts, as I could muster the ability to do so - to pen this post. Pre-fire, it would have almost certainly have been written in a single day.

As you can imagine, this situation is currently having a profound impact on my ability to blog or be online in general, and between my health and the continued hectiness and challenges of our lives, my posts here, if possible at all, will be very sporadic and I view this site as still being on indefinite hiatus.

I appreciate your understanding and kindness on this front beyond words.