July 11, 2014

Under the sea vintage fashion fun

Vintage Fashionista Friday blog graphic for Chronically Vintage photo VintagefashionistaChronicallyVintag.png

{Whether your hair is as long as a mermaid’s or considerably shorter, there isn't a head around that wouldn't look sensational with this elegantly gorgeous handmade seashell and starfish comb nestled against it. $35.00 from Be Something New.}

{If ever there was an aptly named scent to wear to the beach or anyplace during the summer, this lovely bottle of Mermaid Kiss handmade perfume is it. $9.25 for a 15ml bottle from Butter Toki.}

{If you're not in the mood for a full on ocean inspired look, or if you want to jazz your mermaid-worthy outfit up even further, why not pick up these beautiful vintage lucite clip-on earrings featuring oodles of cute little seashells and metallic confetti? $18.00 from SoCal Jewelry Box.}

{Aren't these handmade capiz shell, starfish, and Swarovski crystal earrings absolutely breathtaking? I could see them working wonders with everything from vintage tropical print playsuits to a flowing, breezy white dress for a relaxed beach wedding. Swoon!!! $25.00 from Lovelorn Siren.}

{Vintage frocks really don't come any more shimmery, alluring, or gorgeous than this stunning 1960s metallic blue tinsel wiggle dress. Love. Epically. Fits up to a 36" bust/28" waist. $125.00 from (fellow B.C. Etsian) True Value Vintage.}

{Whether they're the real deal plucked from the sea or the sort created on land in factory, there's no denying the truly timeless appeal of pearl jewelry. This strikingly beautiful 1940s hand knotted faux pearl necklace features a 23.5 inch strand of solid, good quality glass pearls in a beguilingly lovely shade of rose gold meets brown gold meets champagne that would look especially incredible against summertime tanned skin. $28.00 from Chronically Vintage on Etsy.}

{Every time I go to the Vancouver Aquarium (as we did on our recent travels to that fine city), I spend a good long while gazing at the resident mighty fire hued Giant Pacific Octopus. There is, to my mind, something both scary and appealing awesome about these powerful eight-armed aquatic creatures and its easy to see why they've long held court over much of the ocean floor. Far from frightening, this wonderful block of handmade vegan soap featuring one of these hefty octopi is just the ticket to get your skin looking, if you'll forgive a relevant maritime pun, shipshape in no time! $9.00 for a 4 ounce bar of soap from The Charming Frog.}

{Raffia and summertime go together like tropical drinks and the beach. Lightweight, breathable, and comfy, it's a classic natural material that makes for the ideal warm weather shoe and these great 1960s woven raffia flats are no exception. Fits a ladies size 6.5 foot. $25.00 from Luckiest Duck 1.}

{Today's final item entry isn't for your wardrobe, but instead for your walls! I discovered these fabulous hand painted underwater themed vintage reproduction chalkware sets a few months ago and have been thoroughly smitten ever since. They look the kitschy mid-century part to a tee, are very reasonably priced, and just as cute as cute can possibly be! $40.00 for a three-piece set of chalkware mermaids from HilltopCast.}

♥ ♥ ♥

Before I delve further into today's post, I want to take a moment to thank absolutely everyone who has showered me with happy 30th birthday wishes this week. Yesterday was fun filled, beautiful, inspiring and bursting with all those special elements that one hopes for when the anniversary of their birth rolls around. My celebrate was truly made all the more sweet and memorable thanks to your splendidly lovely wishes. Thank you, one and all!

I'm not the only thing getting older these days. I recently read that 2014 is the 25th anniversary of Disney's endlessly classic take on The Little Mermaid and it stopped me right in my tracks. No way! I thought to myself, feeling like I could remember watching it, on VHS, naturally, for the first time as though it were yesterday. And yet, it only took a couple more seconds of hopping down memory lane to realize that, by Jove, yes, it really had been that long, because I can clearly recall having a Little Mermaid theme for either my sixth or seventh birthday.

As a child, growing up in a very dysfunctional, oppressive, challenging home setting, I instantly felt like I could relate to Ariel and her desire to break away from her tyrannical father's rule and discover a world of her own where she could finally experience the freedom she deeply, powerfully longed for. Though I wasn't born with a tail and I never forgot what the word "burn" was, I found so many parallels between her life and my own plight that Ariel became something of a personal mascot and certainly a major source of inspiration for me all through my early childhood years.

{A copy of the exact same Disney Little Mermaid poster that hung on my bedroom wall for a few years of my youth, reminding and quietly helping to encourage me each time I looked at it to explore my own proverbial "shore above" and to take my freedom into my own hands. Image source.}

Much like Disney's most famous mermaid, I too eventually found both my freedom and my wonderful prince charming. I developed my own legs of a different sort and taught myself how to stand on them, even in the face of the harshest adversities. While I'm certainly no longer a child anymore, I still love Ariel and her delightful cast of underwater friends all the same and can sing, to this day, all of the songs in that movie by heart.

Inspired by my passion for and personal relationship with this film, in the midst of one of (if not "the", depending on whereabouts you live) hottest months of the year, I knew that I wanted this month's edition of Vintage Fashionista Friday to have a charmingly fantastic mermaid theme to it.

July, the sea, cool waters and the joy that imagining a world in which mermaids really did exist makes for a seriously appealing combination and one that will continue appeal to me whether I'm five, thirty, fifty or a hundred years old! :)


Hurry, my dears, and take advantage of the awesome 25% off sale that is still underway on everything in my Etsy shop. The sale ends tomorrow and is the only one I have planned for the summer, so now is the time to save big! 

July 9, 2014

Thoughts on who I am as I turn 30

Outfit details

1950s nylon (chiffon) scarf: Gift from a dear online friend ♥
White plastic rose stud earrings: Claire's
Navy blue knit shrug: Sears
1980s does 1950s blue and purple floral print dress: Mr. Idaho’s Vintage 
Pine green skinny belt: eBay
Green vintage Prystal bangle bracelet: Last year’s annual Rutland Antiques & Collectibles show
All other bangles: Assorted sources
Vintage purple purse: Yard sale find
Nude seamed nude stockings: eBay
Navy blue faux patent leather pumps: Payless
Lip colour: Clinique Raspberry Glace
Nail Colour: Essie Lilacism

Photography by Tony Cangiano

The internet can can be, and is, a blank canvas of sorts, a medium the likes of which the world had never quite seen prior to its invention and subsequent large scale adoption from the 1990s onward. What started out as an unsettled, unknown barren wilderness is now a city so crowded it makes places like Hong Kong, Mumbai and New York seem like quaint, quiet little villages nestled in some far off woods.

Online, unless somebody is already famous in the real world, and even then to some extent, one can if they so desire, create whatever sort of persona they desire. Not of course, that we all do such. Many strive to be as much like themselves online as they are off, but by the very nature of the fact that our interactions on the web are not the same as those had face-to-face with others in our daily lives, we often end up only sharing or intentionally divulging certain aspects of the whole, much more rounded and/or interesting person that we are.

The truth is incredibly important to me and I've never knowingly or intentionally misrepresented who I am online, but like most people, I value my privacy and as much I am working diligently at getting better at sharing more about myself, there are certain things that I will likely never say or share in the public sphere.

However, the longer the blog, the more I find myself thinking about how there are certain sides to me that I feel rarely, if ever come out in my writing here, as well as certain facts that I've reached a point where I no longer feel like I must hold them fiercely close to my chest, shielding them from the world.

In my daily life, I am - humbly - a very funny person. I crack jokes, make puns, delight in world play, and have a wicked sense of humour. Many people over the years have described me as the funniest woman they've ever known, and yet, oddly or interestingly, depending on how you opt to look at it, my personal brand of humour rarely shines through too brightly in my vintage related writing, perhaps because I'm not penning posts about topics that are inherently funny. I like to slip in a good pun or witty remark every now and then, but that's about the extent of it for the most part here (though every now and then I do love to write an intentionally humour post, such as this year's The real truth behind 15 Canadian stereotypes or 2009's look at Five items I would always/never wear).

Following in the same vein, I also love watching TV shows like Family Guy, American Dad, The Simpsons, The Daily Show, Peep Show (from the UK), How I Meet Your Mother, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Tosh.0, Impractical Jokers, and World's Dumbest. And while we're on the subject of TV, I've never sat through a full episode of any soap opera, am rarely a fan of talk shows, can't stand "real housewives" type of reality shows (which are anything but, in true reality), have a voracious passion for dramas and 80s and 90s sitcoms and have seen every single episode of Sex in the City.

Some people set out, when they begin blogging, making Youtube videos, growing a following on Instagram, or what have you, to craft and shape a specific type of persona. This is not something I did in the slightest, as I believe in sharing the real me with the world, but again, sometimes by the very nature of the web and its complex relationship with privacy, we don't end up letting people see all our good sides, or certain traits that we might not be too fond of end up being magnified in ways we never expected.

For example, I love to write at length on various topics and to be very thorough (there's no such things as being too thorough in most cases, in my books), partner that with the fact that my speech is sometimes for akin to that of Charles Dickens than Gnarls Barkley and it can become all too easy for some people to perhaps view me as being pretentious, or arguably worse, a know-it-all. Good grief! Nothing could be further than from the truth. I loath pretentiousness, which was a trait in a certain family member that I could not stand as a child and swore I would never embody it when I grew up. Much like Socrates and Plato, I know one thing: that I know nothing.

Of course that isn't literally the case, but the sentiment certainly rings true and is something that all lovers of knowledge should ascribe to because there is no shortage of topics to learn and expand our body of knowhow on throughout the - in the greater scheme of all of time - very short time we're fortunate enough to be on this planet.

I am incredibly shy, and yet, at times I can be so brazenly bold that when I later look back at certain actions, I can scarcely believe that I myself carried them out. I am a homebody who also loves to travel, with a wicked sense of wanderlust. I love to sell, always have, always will (so it was only natural that I'd open an Etsy shop one day, as I did this year). I have a complex relationship with money and was, at one point in my life, a stress spender (though thankfully, with help that I will always be truly grateful for from my husband, this is no longer something I frequently find myself in recent years), but have always been great at saving, too, and making sure my true financial priorities were taken care of first and foremost.

And speaking of stress, I am the polar opposite of a stress eater, in fact, I have a hard time swallowing a single bite if I feel consumed by stress, worry, guilt, grief, sadness, or any other strong negative emotion.

Like all of us, I am a product of my past, my present and my dreams about tomorrow. As I sit here this morning on the cusp of my 30th birthday tomorrow, a very substantial part of me feels like I could write for hours about things you don't know about me or which I've only touched on vaguely in the course of my blog's life so far. I want to share more and grow more as a person, both two things that I've been actively working on ever since the rather life altering and affirming experience that our trip to Calgary last September turned out to be for me (a point that I talked about at length in this post).

I am not the same person I was a decade ago on this very same morning. Not by a long shot. Some elements are the same of course, but a billion things have changed. From certain priorities to various hopes. I have far more wrinkles, but way less of my real hair (not sure what I'm talking about there? See this post). I've grown stronger and weaker in different ways. My health, a true shambles since I first became chronically ill at the age of just 18, is, and will - baring major medical breakthroughs - always be a train wreck and constant source of stress and problems, but it doesn't have a complete hold on me. I've learned to make a life for myself in spite of it and to use the lessons it has taught me to become a better, braver, wiser person.

If I could go back in time and speak to myself on the last day of when I was 19, I am sure there are encyclopedia volumes of information that I would tell my young self, but I don't think, if I could do the last decade over again, that I would ultimately want to. I fought those fights, cried those tears, rejoiced in those smiles, won those victories, and learned those lessons once and that is more than enough. The path wasn't always perfect, but it was my road, and I walked it as best I could in the moment, with the tools and love and ingrained sense of hope that I had right then, right there, when I needed it.
There were times in the last decade where it didn't look like I'd make it through to my thirties because of my health, but thankfully, miraculously even, I am still here. Sorry, chronic illnesses (and certain doctors who don't begin to deserve the degrees they hold), I'm still here. This ol' body of mine hasn't won quite yet and I have no plans of letting it do so any time soon.

I left home - a world filled with horrible dysfunction, abuse, sickening lies, manipulation, and endless problems at the tender age of 16, and instantly began making a life for myself from that moment onward (a topic that I'm going to be delving into a bit more in my next post on Friday). I have never given up or given in to people or things that tried to change me. I'd had more than my fair share of that as a child. I grew up far too early and in ways no one should ever have to. I've known poverty and hardship, hunger and the most brutal and vile sides of human nature. I have also never lost my inner child, the glee that I find in cute things, animals, and dressing in feminine styles.

My soft spoken-ness and typically very gentle nature often makes people think that they can walk all over me, but what they don't know is that this seemingly quiet and unassuming kitten has claws (and knows how to use them!). I always know when someone is trying to play me and they'll quickly learn, they aren't about to get away with it on my watch. I have an almost crippling fear of confrontation when it comes to myself, yet I am fiercely protective of those I love and will fight to the death for my dearest and dearest, no matter who I have to go up against.

So much has changed over the past decade. At times it feels like I have lived a lifetime in the span of each of those years. So many were fraught with uncertainty and challenges that at first seemed insurmountable, but which were ultimately tackled or at at least woven in the tapestry of the bigger picture and able to be dealt with in various ways. There were great, sometimes even amazing, points as well and the older I get, the more I not only like, but love who I have, and who I continue to, become.

I have my quirks and my shortcomings, my flaws and my failures, we all do, but I don't let them rule or worry me - for the most part at least - nearly as much as they did ten, seven, five or even two years ago. I am wiser, but still have much to learn and will always continue to do so. The good of the last decade will carry on with me into the next, the bad I've buried in the past. It is not worthy of my time or anguish any longer. I have a new day to experience, a new chapter to begin, and new set of challenges ahead of me.

There will always be elements of who I am that you may not fully know, but I hope that in this post and many more to come, I will show you further sides of who this vintage loving, resilient, bookworm, history buff, happily married, proud pet parent, chronic illness fighting, determined, optimistically realistic, joke cracking, gluten-free, travel adoring, shy, spirited, creative, passion Canadian woman is as I embark on, and embrace, my thirties.

Buckle up and keep the camera at hand, I can already tell it's going to be on heck of an exciting ride - and I wouldn't want it any other way.

July 7, 2014

A birthday party perfect 1950s Borden's Cheesecake recipe

As a child, I would classify myself as having been a fairly adventurous eater. I was rarely picky (sure, like most folks, there were a few foods I really despised, but overall I was quite the little gastronome), usually jumped at the chance to try new dishes, and adored it when my mom "guinea pigged" us with a recipe she'd never made before. And yet, in spite of loving the ingredients in it separately, I wasn't terribly fond of cheesecake when I was little.

I think that part of the reason was that most of the ones that I'd tried were, to be brutally honest, rather subpar. Too dry, too watery, too acidic, too cloying, or just too dull. It was, interestingly enough, a cheesecake made by a Portuguese friend of the family that stared ricotta, not cream cheese, tried somewhere around the age of thirteen that began to sway my taste buds for the first time.

Jump ahead another two or three years once, especially I began baking my own, and this rich, decadent, completely scrumptious dessert had been elevated to the highest echelons of my dessert repertoire and very quickly became one of the most frequently consumed sweet treats on my birthday.

With that particular event rounding the bend again in just three days time, it seemed only fitting to launch this celebratory week with off with a marvelous looking 1950s recipe for Borden's Party Cheesecake (isn't that name wonderfully fitting for a birthday fete dessert?).

{One of, if not "the", mid-twentieth century's best known dairy brands, Borden’s, delivered this classic, elegant, party perfect cheesecake recipe to readers back in 1951 and it remains as appealing today as it did sixty-three years ago. Image source.}

Unlike many cheesecake recipes over the decades, this one does not call for crushed graham crackers or chocolate cookies as the base, instead it suggests one use zwieback, a form of rusk that originated in Germany, spreading to North America via the Mennonite community. While it zwieback can sometimes be found in specialty food shops and well stocked grocery stores in larger cities, most of the time your best bet is to order it online (Amazon, for example, stocks Brandt Der Markenzwieback and Jacobsen's Original Zwieback Snack Toast).

By all means, feel free to use graham crackers, your favourite suitable cookie, or even crushed pretzels here if you prefer. Being a GF myself, for years now I've most commonly used Kinnikinnick Gluten Free Graham Style Crumbs when making cheesecakes myself (they're very tasty and really work well for this purpose).

Despite it's name, this isn't a wildly fancy or over-the-top cheesecake as it stands now by any means, so if you want to jazz it up with your favourite fruit, chocolate, Nutella, caramel, or butterscotch sauce drizzled over top, by all means have at 'er! You could also swirl some fresh fruit, peanut butter, or cocoa power in the batter before baking, if desired. Top it with fruit, chocolate shavings, nuts, chocolate truffles, candied flowers, sprinkles, or mint leaves - and of course, if this is a birthday cake, at least a few candles for the gal or guy of honour to blow out and make a special wish on.

As with most years, I'm still debating what I'm going to make for my birthday dessert right up until the last minute, but as always, a cheesecake (a fresh raspberry and strawberry version of which is what I whipped up for my 29th last year) is definitely in the running. At the moment, it's a bit of a three way tie between a cheesecake, raspberry trifle, and bacon + salted caramel brownies (which, if you've never had, are mind blowingly delicious and can even be made with chicken, turkey or vegetarian bacon).

Given that this is my 30th birthday, a rather big milestone, maybe I should just go to town and make all three! One for each decade of my life that I've lived so far. Hmmm, tempting as that thought is, I'll probably just stick to one and enjoy a generous helping of it as I ring in the next exciting chapter in my life. One which, I hope with all my heart, will be every bit as a sweet as this lovely vintage cheesecake recipe is.