November 25, 2016

2016's Vintage Secret Santa is cancelled due to the fire

First and foremost, goodness gracious, do I miss you guys. Not a little bit, not every now and then, but day in and day out, with all of my heart. Living in a world right now where so many things are completely upside down, unequivocally one of the most bizarre and "outs of sorts" is not being heavily immersed in the online vintage blogging sphere, as I have been for over 7.5 years now.

As many of you know, for the past two years (2014 and '15, respectively) I've - with a substantial amount of help, particularly on the coding back end of things, from Tony - hosted the annual Vintage Secret Santa gift exchange, which has only grown bigger and better each year.

This time around however, given that we are still extremely immersed in beginning to put our lives back together again (including setting up a new temporary renatal home) after the devastating arson fire last month that destroyed our house and possessions, it simply is not possible for us to hold the VSS (which honestly becomes like a full-time job for me from November to February each year).

Having received about twenty-five or so emails and social media PMs in recent days asking if the VSS was taking place - albeit mostly from past participants who weren't aware of what occurred last month - I thought I would take a quick moment here this morning just to formally announce that, as much as this point sincerely pains me, there will be no Vintage Secret Santa 2016.

{I very much apologize, but unfortunately those who wish to take part in the VSS - either again or for the first time - will have to wait until next year to do so, as holding such a large scale online gift swap is impossible for us right now in the wake of the fire. I really do feel bad about this and appreciate your understanding immensely. 1920s Clara Bow vintage image source.}

However...all things willing, I (we) do certainly plan to hold it again come 2017, as a little over a year will have passed since the blaze by then and it is our deepest of hopes that our life will be way, way more on track and settled again by that point.

Though out of sheer necessity, this blog will officially remain on hiatus for a while longer (it's honestly too soon for me to give even a possible estimate of when I'll be able to return to blogging on a regular basis, but am hoping that such will be feasible in early-ish 2017), I do hope to be able to share a much more detailed update post (about where our life is at by then) with all of you here in December.

In the meantime (and always!) though, I simply cannot say thank you enough to each and every person who has, in countless different ways, helped, supported, prayed for, comforted, and cared about Tony, Annie, myself, and our sweet (now officially deceased; her poor little body being found in the charred ruins of our old house on November 6th) cat, Stella.

Whether through our You Caring donation support page, PayPal donations, care packages, emails, private messages, the Facebook page Helping The Cangianos that was set up for us by my good friend Bonita from Lavender & Twill, sending positive thoughts our way, leaving blog comments, or myriad other ways, we have been nothing short of profoundly blessed, assisted and uplifted by what I can only describe as a tidal wave of beautiful and extremely generous compassion.

It has helped us in countless ways and we will be, for as long as we live, grateful to each and every person who has - and who continues to - support us in any positive manner during this staggeringly challenging time in our lives.

We love and appreciate - most definitely miss - all of you and garner strength from your support, as well as by looking towards the future and the time when our lives will be back on track more. It's a long and difficult road, but each new sunrise gets us at least one step closer and that is a beautiful thing.

October 17, 2016

Our home and everything that we own was destroyed by a fire. Please share.

It is often said that life can change in the blink of an eye and never in the course of my 32 years has that been more true than the horrific events that unfolded on the evening of October 13th (the very day before our twelfth wedding anniversary).

A little after 8:00 PM that night, an arson fire was set (allegedly) by an eighteen-year old girl who was having a domestic dispute with her mother in the basement of that family's home, which was located kitty corner to our own in the fourplex that we live(d) in.

The blaze quickly began to engulf everything in its path. My husband, Tony, and I were able to rescue our beloved dog, Annie, however, our darling cat Stella - a naturally extremely shy and skittish kitty - hid instantly and could not be found.

I searched in pitch black, chokingly acrid black smoke as thick as oatmeal for her until I could not breath, but she could be found and I had to leave the house or risk losing my own life.

The fire raged on for hours, entirely wiping out all four homes in our fourplex and everything in them.

Tony and I were incredibly fortunate to escape with our lives. We lost everything we owned in this world, save for the clothing on our backs, our phones, a small purse of mine (with my wallet), his wallet, and our car.

Gone forever, a lifetime of items. My vintage wardrobe and collection, hundreds of books, our computers and other electronics, all of my craft supplies, all of the scrapbook albums that I'd made over the years, both of our photography equipment, Tony's fishing and hiking gear, cherished heirlooms, holiday decorations, and every other item contained within the walls of our home.

Included in the mix, all of the merchandise for, and everything else pertaining to, my Etsy vintage shop. Thus, this horrific, senseless crime (the young woman was attested that evening by the police) not only destroyed our home and belongings, in one fell swoop, it obliterated my business and my livelihood.

Both Tony and I shared about fire and its impact on social media quite soon after the fact, so some of you may be aware of this situation already, but for those who are not, I wanted to let you all know here as soon as I could.

This isn't a small bump in the road or even a decent size curve ball, it is the literal definition of a life changing catastrophe.

From the very first social media post, we have had a truly incredible show of support and help from so many friends and family members online.

My sister, Katie, and my good friend Nora (from the blog Nora Finds) quickly teamed up to create a crowd funding relief donation page, which you can donate to here if you wish to do so:

Anything that you can give - prayers, good vibes, and kind messages included - are so incredibly helpful to us - as is sharing about our donation campaign link on social media and/or your blog - and mean more than we can ever put into words.

As well, in one of the most touching things I (we) have ever experienced, another dear friend of mine, Bonita (from the blog Lavender & Twill) set up a Facebook page for those who wish to help us out in a myriad of different ways (including sending care packages).

There are not words enough in the whole world to adequately express the profound gratitude, appreciation and love that I have for everyone who is helping us. I have always known and spoken highly about the fact that the vintage/pinup/rockabilly/similar community was an incredibly close knit, supportive place, but I have been nothing short of floor by the incredible outreach and care extended to us by hundreds in our midst.

Right now we are very fortunate to be temporarily staying with my mom and step-dad while we begin to pick up the pieces of our charred life. Time will tell where we land beyond then.

Our life is in pieces and putting them back together again is going to be a long, long process. But we are alive, Tony and I have each other (and Annie), and we have the astonishing support of so many wonderful people around the planet.

Right now, as we focus on rebuilding our lives, I have to put this blog on hiatus. It pains me deeply to do so, but given the circumstances, I have no other choice.

I plan to return again and resume blogging when possible, but that will likely be for quite a while down the road from now (especially since we are computer-less at present).

I appreciate your understanding on this front and will miss each of you greatly. We will reconnect again. This blog is an integral part of my life and the last thing that I would possibly want is for it to be another victim of this heartbreaking tragedy.

We are fighters and we will persevere. The journey back to normalcy will be long, but we will grow in countless ways in the process, and ultimately, we will be okay.

Your love, support, donations, and immeasurable kindness will ensure that is the case. Of that - much like life's ability to change in the blink of an eye - I am certain.

With every fiber of my being, thank you, everyone. I love you dearly and will return here as soon as I possibly can.

❤ Jessica 

October 12, 2016

All roads lead to vintage fall fashion

Outfit details

Camel coloured felt beret: eBay
Gold tone metal and orange enamel earrings: Birthday gift from a dear online friend ♥
Vintage style black cotton capelet: c/o Dolly & Dotty
1950s striped cotton day dress: Stutterin' Mama
1940s style pumpkin dangle brooch: Summer Blue Jewelry
C. 1980s does 1950s tan brown leather belt: (Probably) Thrifted
C. 1950s ruched black gloves: Unknown, had for years (probably eBay or Etsy)
Canvas and faux leather handbag: Tabi
Black seamed nude stockings: eBay
1940s style black faux suede pumps: Walmart
Lip Colour: MAC Partyline

Photography by Tony Cangiano

...Or at least they do for me personally. :)

Like many of us, I acquire new items for my wardrobe (and periodically part ways with others) all throughout the year, but no matter the season, when I'm shopping for clothing, accessories or jewelry, I'm thinking about autumn time.

My favourite season by a wide margin (though I do genuinely adore, appreciate, and delight in each of them), fall calls to my heart and soul. It is the short-lived middle ground between sweltering and freezing, and here in Canada such is often (at best) a matter of weeks. The notion of a long, mild fall that spans September to early December is virtually unheard of in these northern lands.

Still, even if we're handing out Halloween candy to kids sporting snow suits, I still like to wear autumn coloured, themed and inspired looks for that duration and make a point to try and have at least a few new pieces that fit the bill to the tee on hand well before September rolls into town again.

One such garment, which I picked up earlier this year from Stutterin' Mama is this very classic, very sweet black, tawny brown and white striped 1950s dress (which I mentioned in passing here a few weeks ago). I'd been wanting to add a striped vintage dress to my closet for ages and this charmer was a case of love at first sight for me.

It has elbow length sleeves, a midi hem, a flattering cut, a cute little folded collar, and a colour palette that doesn't just sing with the spirit of fall, it belts it out like Pavarotti!

As I knew the seasons would be changing hands big time while we were in Edmonton, I made sure to pack not only this dress, but a beautiful recently acquired vintage style black cotton capelet (called the Sabrina Glamorous 50s Style Cape Shrug) that I received from Dolly & Dotty, with me on our travels (thank you so much, D&D, for this awesome gift).

On the particular day that these photos were taken, Tony and I had just spent a couple of hours visiting the absolutely delightful Fort Edmonton Park (it's so big and engaging that we didn't get to see it all in that time frame and will definitely aim to return on a future visit to Edmonton), which we both adored.

It was fun, too, as I've encountered here and there at other historical parks over the years, to see fellow park visitors wondering/thinking that I worked there due to my vintage attire.

As a general rule, capelets (aka, short capes) are not something that I wear often, simply because they tend to make my (naturally small) shoulders and upper torso look a lot, lot wider/bigger than it really is. I adore them as a garment though and was willing to take the gamble, so to speak, when Dolly & Dotty inquired as to if I'd like to try out one of their elegant versions.

Given that I don't presently own a black cotton capelet, I decided to take the plunge and am more than a little bit thrilled that I did. Yes, I do see some of that bulk factor happening, but objectively that's rather the nature of capelets, capes and poncho shaped garments in general.

This cape is sweet, well made and endlessly classic. I love how well it partners with longer length gloves, too. Being on holiday, I didn't have my whole glove wardrobe with me, but I did of course pack a few pairs, of which I felt these ruched black ones worked best in the context of this outfit (I don't own a caramel coloured longer length pair, but if I did, I think such would have rocked here, too).

Interestingly, in a way, despite my general reservations when it comes to capelets, of the beautiful garments I've received from Dolly & Dotty this year, I actually think I'll sport this capelet most often of all (as it's so versatile, lightweight and perfect for layering from fall clear on through to spring). Proof positive, if you ask me, that it always pays to revisit styles that you like, but think might not work well for you personally.

We grabbed these peaceful photos at the John Janzen Nature Centre Park that was directly beside Fort Edmonton. The leaves were beginning to turn the colour of Bartlett pears and a definite nip was in the air, so I was grateful to have this capelet over my shoulders as I stood on that small foot traffic bridge.

To the surprise of no one who knows me, I'm sure, I was shopping for (further) new fall appropriate items while on our trip and am happy to say that I found some, including a fabulous Halloween themed Hell Bunny skirt that I picked up at Rowena (which I'm really hoping will appear here on the blog this year - if not, in the future for sure!).

Fall's colours and the imagery - from pumpkins, such as those in the beautiful Summer Blue Jewelry vintage inspired brooch that I'm sporting here, to leaves to apples and scarecrows – are “me” through and through.

They bring me joy in all forms, very much including the wearable type, and I love that a season I plan, shop for, and dream about all year is here again. Especially when I have fun new-to-me pieces to wear like many of those featured into today's seasonal ensemble.

Are you a fan of fall's colour palette and/or iconic imagery for your own wardrobe as well? Do you find yourself shopping for any one season more than the others?