December 31, 2010

Vintage Fashionista Friday – December 31, 2010 (Special New Year’s Edition)

♥ ♥ ♥

{Airy, ethereal feathers combine with a dusty rose hued bloom in this sweetly beautiful decorated hair pin that pops with a delicate layer of lace for just a hint of vixenish allure. “Lovely Romantic Bobby Pin with Black Lace”, $7.90 from etsy seller Ola’s Dream World.}

{Let sophisticated little bejewelled spheres of pave glass add an air of refined, yet still wonderfully playful, glamour to any ensemble (one can’t help but think that they’d make great stand-ins for the New Year’s Eve ball in Times Square, too!). “Pave Post” stud earrings, $24.00 from Anthropologie.}

{Should you happen to live in a climate where winter doesn’t quite dip cold enough to redden your cheeks – or if you’d like to keep that lovely, gamine flush going long after you’ve come indoors, reach for this immensely pretty pot of pink powder blush (with its utterly darling Paris illustrated packaging). Bourjouis Limited Edition Vintage Blusher in “Rose Petal”, £4.25 (UK pounds), from Asos.}

{Keep Old Man Winter at bay with this timelessly elegant, wonderfully plush vintage faux fur swing coat. Perfect overtop everything from an evening gown to a pair of black cigarette pants (alla Audrey Hepburn), this silver topper (with soft satin lining) is certain to keep you both toasty warm and marvellously fashionable all season long! “Silver Faux Shearling/Fur Coat”, cut generously to fit up to at least a 44 inch waist, $54.00 from etsy seller Lola Jean Vintage.}

{There are some dresses that steal your breath away and stand as works of art for all of time, and I think this shimmery carnation hue stunner is one such example. With a sweeping full circle skirt, drop waist, fitted bodice and matching bolero jacket, this amazing evening gown would be incredible to wear to any holiday bash, birthday party or even as a wedding dress. “Vintage 1950s Metallic Silver Pink Lace Cocktail Dress”, fits up to a 28 inch waist/34 inch bust, $165.00 from etsy seller Calendar Girl Vintage.}

{When your dress is the star of your outfit, you don’t necessarily want large earrings or necklaces trying to nudge their way into the spotlight and therefore take away from the wow factor of your frock, but that doesn’t mean that you need to keep all your jewels tucked away in their box at home. This whimsically pretty cocktail ring is just the ticket; its charming bow shape is a nod to the holidays, yet still perfect to wear anytime of the year when you want a hit of sparkle on your hand. Betsey Johnson “The Snow Angel Crystal Bow Ring”, one size fits most, $35.00 from Amazon.}

{A dress as magnificent as the one in this post calls for understated, perpetually chic accessories and this sleek satin clutch fits that bill splendidly. Featuring a hint of silvery diamond-like crystals and a versatile strap that can be tucked inside, if so desired, this stylish purse would truly become the LBD of your handbag wardrobe. “Touch Up 1805” black satin clutch, measuring 8.5” wide by 3.5” high, $46.00 from Zappos.} 

{There’s no better day of the year to bring glitz and glamour to your vintage look than the universal celebration that is New Year’s Eve – and what more fabulous way to do that than with a utterly gorgeous, enchantingly glittery pair of (very affordable) high heels like these silvery babies? “Mitzy Women’s Heidi Open Toed Pump” (shown here in silver, also available in black and champagne), available in ladies sizes 5.5 to 10, $22.57 from Amazon.}

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A lengthy span of time has passed since the last edition of “Vintage Fashionista Friday”. In fact you’d have to dig all the way to May 14th of this year to find the previous post in this ongoing series. Yet one of the cornerstones of this blog has been (and will always be) vintage fashion (the very blog template itself that Chronically Vintage currently sports includes buttons in a nod to my love of both vintage style and vintage sewing), and while it’s not currently possible for me to post quite as frequently as I’d like here, I do not want for one split second to let that part of this site (the one devoted to vintage fashion) accidentally fall to the wayside.

Therefore, on this last day of 2010 – a day that means something different and profound to each of us – I wanted to bring back “Vintage Fashionista Friday” as a way of not only celebrating today’s merry festivities, but also to say that I want to reconnect more with the fashion side of vintage blogging as we leap headfirst in 2011.

There’s no sense in sugar coating things, this past set of 12 months haven’t been the best of all time for me. There were rough patches of many sorts, “blogcations” by choice (as a way of recharging my blogging batteries) and those thrust upon me by health problems and unexpected hospital stays. It would be all too easy to lament 2010, to focus on the grey skies instead of seeing the silver lining in every situation. However I’ve always been a glass half full kind of gal, and as such on this very last day of the year, am filled with a renewed sense of optimism and the deeply engrained belief that the coming year will be better on many fronts than the one that proceeded it – so hence the name of today’s vintage fashionista, “Hope”.

I cherish the comments, comradery, understanding, encouragement, and inspiration you have all given me throughout 2010, and cannot wait to celebrate all that 2011 holds in store with you, my awesome online vintage loving friends.

Thank you very much for everything, sweet dears, and the most joyful of wishes for a truly stellar 2011 to each of you!

December 28, 2010

Spotlight on (my darling cat) Stella

Hi sweet dears, before launching into the main subject of today’s post, let me begin by saying happy midst of the holiday season to each of you! I hope that you’re all doing beautifully and that this festive time of the year is going marvellously for you (tell me, did any of you receive any delightful vintage related Christmas gifts?). Thank you very much to those who left holiday well wishes for me on last Friday’s post, as well as to those thoughtful souls who sent emails and Christmas ecards my way. I appreciate all of your kind, fabulously festive cheer very much!

Now, I’m the first to admit that this afternoon’s little post doesn’t have very much to with vintage, yet as this blog is a gateway for my thoughts and a means by which to record of some of what transpires in my daily life, I simply had to share the following with you.

Recently I was contacted on Flickr by a lovely gal who asked if I’d be interested in sharing the story of my rescue cat, Stella, with the readers of her cat-centered website (Love Meow), which has a real emphasis on highlighting the importance of rescuing cats and telling the (fluffy) tales of those who have founding loving homes. I’m not sure how she chanced upon my Flickr stream (perhaps she saw one of my snaps of Stella in a Flickr group or discovered my photos via a keyword tag search), but I was absolutely thrilled that she wanted to chronicle Stella’s life (and several photos of her) with her audience.

{Stella, seen here in one my Flickr photos of her, is the queen of cuteness at our house. She almost always keeps me company when I write posts for Chronically Vintage (she loves to curl up on my lap and try to benefit from the heat that my laptop gives off), and never ceases to make my day better.}

Stella came into mine and my husband’s life in November 2008, and has been one the brightest spots in my life and a constant source of friendship, inspiration, and happiness for me ever since. This point coupled with the chronicle of how Stella became a part of our world comprises the bulk of that I discussed in the story about her that was featured on Love Meow.

I’m honoured that I was given the opportunity to speak for Stella, and that she got to take center stage in a post on such a great kitty centered site. Getting the chance to do so has definitely been one of the highlights of the end of 2010 for me!

December 24, 2010

Have yourself a merry little Christmas!

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Let your heart be light
From now on,
our troubles will be out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,

Make the Yule-tide gay,
From now on,
our troubles will be miles away.

Here we are as in olden days,

Happy golden days of yore.
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more.

Through the years

We all will be together,
If the Fates allow.

Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.
And have yourself A merry little Christmas now.

{Charmingly beautiful vintage Christmas advertisement via Calsidyrose on Flickr.}

My very dear friends, on this most magical of festive Eves, I am wishing you and your loved ones, a deeply, splendidly fabulous December 25th, an enchantingly wonderful holiday season, and a truly stellar New Year! 

May this joyous time of the year bring you everything – and more! – that your heart desires, and may you, as the immortally timelessly song (above) says, have yourself a merry little Christmas!!!

With love, thanks & blissful cheer,

December 15, 2010

Wonderful Wednesday Recipe: Broiled Green Onion and Cheddar Cheese Puffs

While it’s definitely the season to be jolly, we’ve also reached one of the best times of the year to throw a cocktail party, put on a lavish fete, or simply invite a few cherished friends over for a cozy evening of hearty food and rousing conversation.

Earlier this week my dear sister and I were chatting about foods that might work well for an upcoming wine and appetizer party that she’s holding in a few days. My mind instantly raced to thoughts of soothing, earthy, rich (yet in no way overpowering) autumn and winter flavours, such as dishes featuring root vegetables, warm spices (nutmeg, cloves, paprika, cinnamon), dried fruits, nuts, dense, flavourful breads (walnut, pumpkin, rye); grains (wild rice, barley, buckwheat), fennel, figs, apples, and (given its natural affinity with wine) cheese.

Reflecting on some of my favourite tried and true appetizer recipes (many of which have a delightful vintage feel to the ingredients they include), I knew that I had to share this simple, scrumptious, easy-as-can-be recipe for green onion infused cheese puffs with my sister – and with my readers, as I know many of you have your own upcoming parties to plan menus for, too.

This recipe is wonderfully fast to throw together, can be multiplied to your heart’s content (though you may want to prepare it in batches, as it really is best when served straight from the broiler). You can vary the cheese to suit your tastes and menu (just stick with a firm cheese that has a bit of flavour to it – fontina, gouda, emmental, or gruyere would all make splendid choices if you wanted to try something other than Swiss or cheddar cheese), as well as play with various seasonings and additions (just keep the overall weight of anything you add to the mixture somewhat light, so that the mixture can still poof up under the broiler).

{Yum, yum, yum cheddar cheese pairs magnificently with apple pie – as shown in this vintage ad from 1956 – and it also takes center stage in today’s recipe, where it’s paired with egg whites, green onions, bell peppers, and light seasonings to create a winning holiday party appetizer. Vintage Armour Cheese ad via Vintage Ads and Stuff.}

This classic dish (which is somewhat redolent of another fabulous retro cheese and bread recipe: welsh rarebit) makes a great dinner (or wine tasting) party starter, as well as smashing first course or light lunch when paired with a salad or soup. Give it a try this holiday season and I bet it become one of your go-to Christmas party appetizers as well! :)

Broiled Green Onion and Cheddar Cheese Puffs


• ½ cup mayonnaise (can use eggless vegan mayo, if desired)

• 2/3 cup shredded Swiss or aged cheddar cheese

• ¼ cup chopped green onion (or fresh chives or leeks)

• ¼ cup chopped green bell pepper (optional, but it really adds a lovely crunch)

• ½ tsp worcestershire sauce (could use Tabasco/sweet chilli instead, if desired)

• 2 egg whites, stiffly beaten

• Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

• 8 slices toasted hearty brown bread (such as pumpernickel or rye)


Turn on oven and set to broiler.

In a medium sized mixing bowl combine the mayonnaise, shredded cheese, green onion, green pepper, worcestershire sauce and black pepper; mix well so that all ingredients are thoroughly blended together. Fold in the (previously stiffened) egg whites and stir lightly to combine.

Spoon an equal amount of the cheese and egg white mixture onto each of the eight slices of bread. Place bread on a non-stick baking sheet and place under the broiler until the cheese and egg mixture has puffed up and turned golden brown (about 4 minutes – watch carefully, as it’s very easy to burn things cooked under the broiler).

Serve cooked cheese puffs immediately (can keep warm under a layer of tinfoil for a few minutes, but the cheese and egg mixture will deflate a bit and the bread may soften slightly – the sooner this dish is served, the better).

Makes 8 appetizer sized portions or served 2-4 as part of a meal

Bon appétit!

December 13, 2010

Announcing the Vintage Twee Christmas ornament set winner!

My-oh-my! It’s a burr-inducing -15°C here in snow drenched Toronto this morning, and let me tell you, if that doesn’t put the spirit of winter into one’s heart, I don’t know what does! On this Christmas card-esque Monday, I had the fun task of selecting a randomly generated winner of the utterly beautiful vintage Twee ornament set draw that has been running here on Chronically Vintage since December 1st.

This terrific contest brought in over 40 comments, saw a flurry of Twitter activity, and I hope helped introduce many of you to the charming handmade, vintage inspired goods that this wonderful UK based line produces.

Without further ado, the lucky winner of this great giveaway was....comment number seven! Huge congrats to the winner, who just happens to be a lovely, highly talented gal named Rosy, whose blog (Sewingadicta) is a joyful place of sewing and vintage goodness (and inspiration) that any old school or craft lover should definitely swing by and check out.

{Here is a snapshot of today’s winner sporting an absolutely beautiful vintage look that she sewed herself (don’t you just adore the classic, elegant pairing of white, red and black?!), from one of her recent blog posts. Happiest congratulations on being the Vintage Twee giveaway winner, Rosy!} 

Many thanks to Alena from Vintage Twee for partnering with Chronically Vintage for this wonderful giveaway; it’s been a sincere pleasure getting to know you and your stellar line of handcrafts!

Thank you as well to everyone who took part in this giveaway! I had a marvellous time reading about the Christmas memories and traditions you shared with me, and very much appreciate your involvement in this Christmas contest. Many congrats again to Rosy, I hope that these gorgeous ornaments help to make your holiday season extra merry and bright! :)

December 8, 2010

Wonderful Wednesday Recipe: Cherry Snowball Cookies

Hi, 2010, this is Jessica, care to explain how on earth you whizzed by so quickly? Ok, honestly this year wasn’t always as fast as grease lightning for me, but looking back at any year it almost always seems to have vanished faster than one can blink their mascara coated eyelashes. The particular happening today that made me reflect on just how incredibly quickly this year as rolled past was when I checked to see how long it had been since the last time we had an edition of the “Wonderful Wednesday” post, and discovered that it was way back in the sun-kissed days of early June!

Here we sit half a year later, snowflakes dive bombing themselves into my balcony, the screeching wind rattling every window and floorboard in my home, and June suddenly seems to far removed that it might as well be on a different planet.

Yet spring will return in a few months, and all years pass at their own unique speed - depending on our perception of time. While I won’t be lounging in any toasty sunshine for a while, that’s not the end of the world. There is much to love, celebrate and derive happiness from in this chilly time of the year – starting with the delicious splendours of holiday season baking!

Some of you may have started whipping up cookies, candied fruit studded cakes, bars, squares, pies, candies, and other treats already, whereas some of us may be holding off until the 25th draws a bit nearer. Either way, if you’re like me, you have a tried and true set of beloved holiday recipes, but also enjoy experimenting with new one sometimes.

In order to revive the “Wonderful Wednesday Recipe” (it won’t appear each week, but fingers crossed it won’t be MIA for six months again either!), I wanted to share one of my most treasured of Christmas recipes with you today.

This delightful, super easy to make (and relatively inexpensive) cookie (which is similar to a shortbread cookie) is one that appeared on my family’s holiday table every year when I was growing up. It’s a simple classic that pairs marvellously with other sweets on a dessert tray, as well as with warm beverages like hot chocolate or Irish coffee.

{There’s no denying that walnuts go splendidly with chocolate cake, as this charming illustration from 1925 suggests, however they can also do wonders for your holiday baking and are a key ingredients today’s Cherry Snowball Cookie recipe. Vintage Diamond Walnuts ad via eBay.} 

Homey, delicious, teaming with glistening little flecks of maraschino cherries, these festive morsels also make for a great last minute cookie when time is off the essence and you know a little in advance that you'll have a peckish crowd to feed (or simply want to bake an extra batch of cookies to have on hand for when company stops by).

Cherry Snowball Cookies

·         Ingredients

·         1 cup margarine, softened (but not melted)

·         ½ cup white (granulated) sugar

·         1 tsp vanilla extract

·         2 cups all-purpose flour

·         ½ tsp salt

·         1 cup chopped walnuts

·         ½ cup (though I’ve gone as generous as ¾ cup and the recipe still came out great) chopped, very well drained maraschino cherries

·         Sifted icing (powdered) sugar


Preheat your own to 325°F/160°C/gas mark 3.

With an electric mixer or by hand in a large mixing bowl, thoroughly cream the margarine and white sugar together, then blend in the vanilla. Next add the salt and then the flour in three part increments, stirring well to combine ingredients after each addition.

Fold the nuts and cherries into the cookie dough, again stirring well to combine, and then place the dough (in the mixing bowl or other similar dish) in the fridge for at least one hour.

Remove dough from fridge and form into one inch sized balls. Place balls on an ungreased, non-stick cookie sheet, spacing them at least an inch apart (though these cookies do not spread out much at all, retaining their adorable snowball-esque round shape once baked). Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, then remove cookies from the oven and transfer them to a cooling rack.

While still warm, lightly dust icing (powdered) sugar over top of all of the cookies. Cool, and transfer to the airtight storage container of your choice (where these cookies should keep for at least five days). These delightful cookies can also be frozen (once baked), and stored for at least two months in a freezer-safe container.

Recipe yields approximately 40-45 cookies.

Bon appétit!

December 5, 2010

Chronically Vintage is feeling very loved

Recently I was contacted by two individuals who wanted to interview me about Chronically Vintage. One person’s questions were centered around my passion for all things vintage (with an emphasis on vintage fashion), the other’s had a bit more to do with what led me to blogging and what blogging has come to mean to my life.

I was thrilled and deeply touched that these two lovely ladies (who each run separate sites and contacted me independently from one another) wanted to share a bit about Chronically Vintage with their readers. I dove head first into answering their interview questions (both parties interviewed me via email) and had a thoroughly wonderful time exploring some of the deeper reasons behind subjects such as what got me interested in vintage, why I love vintage, and what brings me joy as a vintage blogger.

{Feeling especially warm and fuzzy on the vintage home front lately thanks to two fantastic interviews! Charming 1940s photo via Striderv on Flickr.}

Both of the interviews have gone live now, and I wanted to take a moment to share the links for them with you.

Over at website, you can read a good sized interview all about my lifelong love of vintage, some of things that inspire my passion for the past, my thoughts on vintage fashion, and even peer into my closet via a photograph of some of my vintage dresses. 

The second interview was with the absolutely wonderful Kathie for her blog “Just a Happy Housewife”. Kathie quizzed me about topics pertaining to what got me into blogging (about vintage), what I enjoy about blogging, and what I see in the future for Chronically Vintage, for one of the editions of her “Now Featuring” series of posts. 

I was tickled pink to receive not one, but two, interviews centered around Chronically vintage in November, and want sincerely thank both my lovely friend Kathie and immensely sweet Alena from Vintage Fashion Club for the thoughtful, insightful, highly enjoyable questions they poised to me. I think it’s awesome for all bloggers to periodically reflect on what got them into blogging in the first place, what they love about this fun activity, their passions, and where they see their blog in the future. These two interviews really helped me to do that this autumn.

Thank you to both of these great gals for your interviews, and thank you to all Chronically Vintage’s stellar readers as well for making me – and this blog – feel so tremendously loved all year round, thanks to your loyal readership, friendship, understanding, support, and shared love of all things old school, there’s no way Chronically Vintage would be what it is today without all of you!

December 1, 2010

Enter to win a beautiful set of handmade Christmas ornaments from Vintage Twee

We’ve made it, my dears, through the ups and the downs, the rough and the wonderful, we as a collective whole have pulled through eleven months of 2010 to reach today, the first of December. Whatever came before us is now a memory and what lies ahead is the splendour and joy of the holiday season.

To celebrate this most fantastic of months, Chronically Vintage has teamed up with UK based Vintage Twee to bring you the opportunity to win a four piece set of incredibly pretty Christmas ornaments that have been loving handcrafted from vintage materials.

For those who haven’t had the pleasure of encountering Vintage Twee yet, this delightful line (which is available for sale on the Vintage Twee homepage, as well as on etsy) specializes in a range of elegant, timelessly lovely vintage home decor, table decor and paper craft items that are marvellously suited to special events such as weddings, holidays, showers, and tea parties. (Should you be after a custom order, Vintage Twee is happy to create the perfect vintage inspired decorative items for any event. Be sure to check out this page if you’re interested in placing a custom order.)

The items from this company (which include such treasures as paper roses, cupcake flags, party favour boxes, and darling paper fortune cookies) are constructed using a range of vintage materials from sheet music to lace, genuine old school love letters to feminine pearls. The general aesthetic of this line is one of traditional English charm and beauty (this pale hues, generous doses of romantic florals, etc), yet the pieces themselves would look perfectly at home in any vintage lover’s abode.

In the spirit of the holiday season, however, this giveaway is for a set of wonderful Christmas ornaments. Each bubble (which measures about 16 centimetres in diameter) is made with exquisite care and attention to detail, and will be sure to add a stellar dose of vintage charm to your holiday decor.

{Please note the actual set of ornaments that the winner will receive may differ slightly from the ones shown in the photos above, as each bubble is handmade from vintage materials which the company often only has small quantities of. However, I’ve been assured that the ornaments you receive will be very similar in every way to the ones pictured here.}

This contest (which is open to visitors worldwide) will run between today and Sunday December 12, 2010, 2010 (the giveaway will officially close at 11:59pm EST that night), with the lucky winner being selected (via a random number generator) – and announced here on Chronically Vintage – the following day.

How to enter

Entering this lovely giveaway couldn’t be any easier, simply do one or more of the following things to gain up to four entries for this great giveaway.

1.) Post a comment below in which you share one of your favourite holiday memories, how you decorate your house in vintage Christmas style, or anything else pertaining to this festive time of the year.

2.) Post about this giveaway, including a link back to this announcement post, on your own blog, telling your readers about this contest (if you'd like to use the photo mosaic above, please right click on it and save it to your desktop). Once you’ve written about the giveaway, come back here and let me know you’ve done so by leaving a comment with a link back to your post.

3.) Become a follower of Vintage Twee’s enchanting blog, which is filled with scores of wonderful posts centered which are around the items that the company produces, as well as a range of great vintage related topics.

4.) Spread the good word about this contest via Twitter or Facebook (you can find Vintage Twee on Twitter or Facebook). Again, be sure to jot down a comment letting me know you’ve done so.

Please feel free to enter the contest however many of the four ways you’d like, just be sure that you let me know about each entry in a separate comment, to better enhance your chances of winning (four comments for example, would give you four entries into the contest, thus four potential chances to win!). Please remember to post a separate comment for each entry!

I’m thrilled that the holiday season is upon us and that we can kick it off with this fun giveaway, which I hope will bring an extra dose of festive cheer to one lucky winner. Be sure to swing by Chronically Vintage on Monday December 13th to find out if your entry landed you in the winner’s seat for this enchantingly beautiful set of vintage holiday ornaments from Vintage Twee.

Thank you very much for entering and best of luck to everyone who enters this lovely Christmas season giveaway!

November 27, 2010

Saturday Snapshots: November 27, 2010

Find ecstasy in life; the mere sense of living is joy enough. ~ Emily Dickinson

{Identified as “Marilyn Crocker, Jeanne and Leanne”, this trio of elegantly dressed young women was photographed in November of 1951. Though I don’t know where this shot was taken (does anyone recognize the large white church in the background?), the roof top skyline makes an especially neat backdrop for these three beautiful young women to pose against.}

{I have such a soft spot in my heart for vintage wedding photos. I love to look at them and imagine the lives that lay ahead for a given couple, to ponder how their marriage unfolded, if it lasted, and if they turned out to be each other’s soul mates until the very end. The romantic in me likes to think this was always the case, but of course the realist knows that not every marriage was a bed roses. I don’t know the tale that became this incredibly dapper looking couple’s life after this photograph was captured, but I like to think that they remained as radiantly happy for the rest of their lives as they looked on their wedding day in 1938.}

{This darling pair of youngsters have been hard at work (most likely with mother’s assistance) and have created a positively scrumptious looking, large gingerbread house to help them celebrate the holidays. Tell me you don’t adore the sweet, spunky grin of the little boy as he mischievously attempts to pluck a candy wafer from the house’s edible roof?}

{Ohhhh, how immensely cool would it be to know what these two beautifully attired 1930s women were looking at on those reels of film? Were they staring at frames filled with the likes of Shirley Temple, May West, Errol Flynn or Greta Garbo, or was it something a little less thrilling like a news reel? Either way, they seemed to be enjoying their task and having a great time posing outside in their lovely spring or summer dresses.}

{A large American Italy family gathers around a small kitchen table in 1948 to celebrate one of its young relative’s First Communion day. As someone with a very small imitate number of immediate relatives, I love images like this through which I can various live out my desire to come from a generously size family. (For anyone who’s interested, the person who posted this photo has identified the names of the folks, who are his relatives, in this great shot.)}

{Doing his best “Bark-thoven” impression, this precious vintage poodle entertains onlookers as he paws adorably away at the piano keys (looking every bit as though he really is reading the sheet music perched in front of him!).}

{In the picturesque golden sunlight of an autumn day in 1957, a family enjoys a simple picnic together in the fresh air (note the wonderful large wicker basket and iconic 50s style thermoses, both of which add to the charm of this fun family snapshot).}

{At first glance it might appear as though this was just a simple street scene of a parade, but upon closer inspection there is much to observe about this lovely shot taken during 1960. From the wood paneled station wagon (complete with suspender and bow tie adorned little boy leaning out the driver’s side window) to the flag carrying veterans, and the ironically wonderful barber shop there is such a wealth of American history wrapped up in this one terrific shot.}

{Three Texan sorority sisters take a break from the demands of collage life, as they sport jeans and enjoy a tipple, in the great outdoors. I wonder if the gal on the left was simply tired or if she’d had a smidge too much to drink and was now leaning on her smiling girlfriend to help her keep her balance?}

{Standing outside of “Antoinette’s Sweet Shop”, an adorable little blonde haired girl appears to be taking a small packet (perhaps of candy) from a man’s hand, as a gorgeously dressed woman smiles on for the camera in this appealing 1930s street photograph.}

{All images above are from Flickr. To learn more about a specific image, please click on it to be taken to its respective Flickr page.}

It’s been a staggeringly long time since the last edition of Saturday Snapshots (June 5th of this year, to be exact). Okay, granted it’s not been decades, but still far longer than has ever passed between editions before! I’ve sincerely missed putting together this post more frequently, perusing with great intent the realm of vintage “real world” photographs – peering to the lives and worlds of those who lived 60, 70, 80+ years ago and selecting ten particularly engaging shots to share with you.

Though I know the multitude of reasons why it’s been nearly half a year since this post last appeared (chief amongst being the state of my health this year) – and I know that I won’t be able to go back to putting up a new edition every week at this stage in time – I sincerely hope that nowhere no as much time will elapse between today and the next Saturday Snapshots post!

This week’s quote, by the intensely insightful Emily Dickinson, is one of my all-time favourites and also one that has resonated strongly throughout my life – at perhaps not time more so than throughout 2010.

These words, simple yet profound, on the one hand obvious, on the other sage-like in their wisdom, remind us all to step back from our worries, to stop dwelling on what we think we need to buy, find, or do to achieve happiness. To stop chasing the unobtainable, stop beating ourselves up over regrets and impossibilities, to strip away the hustle and bustle of the rat race, to return to simple pleasures, and to extract a sense of purpose from the amazing fact that we are blessed to be alive. Or at least that’s what this beautiful quote says to me when I reflect on its words, written in a time so incredibly different yet also timelessly similar to our own.

Life will always come part and parcel with a myriad of reasons why our happiness may lie on line (it did for the folks in the photographs above and it still does for us today), yet – and I can attest to this firsthand – sometimes it is remarkably invaluable to step back and realize that the fact you are here, in this moment in time, drawing breath, feeling the cold November air, creating your own destiny each day, is more than enough reason to be, at a deeply rooted level, happy.

November 23, 2010

Celebrating the holidays with vintage Christmas songs

Few things get me excited about the magic of the holiday season like Christmas songs. Before I’ve even blown out the candles in my jack-o-lanterns, I’m usually humming a few bars from Frosty, Rudolph or Silver Bells. There’s something thrilling wonderful about having songs that we (by and large) only get to hear and sing for a few short weeks a year.

When I was growing up my parents were very keen on Christmas tunes, playing a menagerie of festive records, tapes, and later CDs, each a smidge different from its music shelf neighbours. Many were rich in old school tunes, others were very of the moment, some fell in between and others were a delightful jumble of songs from many eras and crooners.

As such my taste in Christmas music is rather diverse, yet the warmest spot in my holiday tune loving heart is reserved (naturally) for vintage Christmas songs, those beautiful classics that were performed by some of the best artists of the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. These are the songs that have become soundtracks for the world’s holiday season, played as often in Hollywood movies as in shopping malls, at gala parties and as the background music at countless holiday dinners.

They’re the songs that I associate with the gripping chill of frosty nights, the taste of piping hot apple cider, the unmistakable rustle of wrapping paper being portioned off the roll, and the simply joy of a multi-coloured string of twinkling lights strung around a freshly chopped fir tree. These are traditional tunes that I poured over the lyrics of in our family’s well-thumbed copy of the Reader’s Digest Merry Christmas Songbook, never tiring of imagining that I was an old fashioned caroller.

Reflecting fondly on those sweet, joyful memories of youth and celebrating the bounty of holiday favourites that I cherish in my heart today, I thought it would be delightfully fun – and festive! – to gather up twenty beautiful Christmas songs sung (or preformed) by artists and groups from our beloved mid-twentieth century era.

Below you’ll find YouTube videos of some of the best holiday songs of all-time. These are some of the tunes that radiate an endless sense of Christmas cheer, of festive goodwill, and the happiest of tidings. Given the unpredictable nature of how long music videos stick around on YouTube sometimes, I can’t guarantee that all of these videos will still be up until December 25th, but most of them should be, and moreover the selection itself is a great starting point for your Christmas playlist.

So don your coziest red vintage sweat, gather in the light of a glowing fireplace, and join me in listening to the following selection of timelessly fantastic vintage holiday songs.

~ The Christmas Song ~

{Also known as “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire”; a 1944 jewel of a song written by Mel Tormé and Bob Wells, preformed by the endlessly wonderful Nat King Cole.}

~ I’ll Be Home for Christmas ~

{Scores of crooners from Perry Como to Dolly Parton have covered this 1943 holiday classic, though few could do it as soulfully as Elvis, whose version appears here.}

~ Santa Claus is Coming to Town ~

{You can hear history itself reverberating in the notes of this song – which was first joined the holiday music ranks in 1934 – as Tommy Dorsey and his orchestra play a richly melodic version of it here (tell me you don’t just love the recording crackling in the background?).}

~ Baby, it’s cold outside ~

{The perfect holiday tune for romantics, this delightfully fun duet from 1944 is a favourite of both my mother and I, who agree that few versions can compare with the recording above from ’49 by Dinah Shore and Buddy Clark.}

~ Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas ~

{Exquisitely sung by the silken voiced songstress Ella Fitzgerald, I find this upbeat version of a mid-40s to be a great tune for lively holiday cocktail parties classic (side note: this song first appeared in the 1944 film Meet me in St. Louis with Judy Garland).}

~ I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm ~

{A lively holiday song that was penned by Irving Berlin in 1937, this delightful tune is perfect for the whole winter, especially when sung by a charming voice like that of 1950s darling Kay Starr.}

~ Marshmallow World ~

{A delightfully fun holiday tune that always put a smile on my face (and makes me crave marshmallows! :D), this playful song was written in ’49, and preformed here (in the 60s) by the endlessly wonderful duo that was Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.}

~ Jingle Bells ~

{There are few more iconic Christmas songs in the world than this timeless number. First published in 1857, the version here is a purely instrumental big band version by Benny Goodman and his orchestra.}

~ The Night Before Christmas ~

{Admittedly, this a spoken poem/story, but this version by Louis Armstrong is so immensely lovely that listening to it is something that I always try to in my holiday festivities. If you have any children in your life, gather them ‘round and share in the reading Dickens’ traditional tale together, it’s too fantastic not to listen to as a family.}

~ The Little Drummer Boy ~

{This serene song (which was originally called “Carol of the Drum”) was written in 1941 by Katherine K. Davis, though it is the iconic version above that was recorded nearly two decades later by Harry Simeone that many of us most associate with this deeply touching Christmas song.}

~ Frosty the Snowman ~

{A favourite of children (and the young at heart) since its 1950 debut, this darling song about a snowman that magically comes to life, is extra delightful when enjoyed by the first group to record it: Gene Autry and the Cass County Boys.}

~ Silver Bells ~

{If the holiday season had but one song to launch it on its merry way each year, this would unequivocally be it for me. Though many think of the lovely version by Bing Crosby and Carol Richards when calling this tune to mind, I have a soft spot for the original 1950 recording by Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell.}

~ Here Comes Santa Claus ~

{A Christmas Eve anthem for little girls and boys for generations now, this charming song first appeared in 1947 and was quickly covered by numerous artists in the following year – including a sweet gal named Doris Day in 1949, whose version is included here.}

~ Winter Wonderland ~

{Upbeat and flat-out fantastic (if you ask me), this song is one of those dear tunes that instantly sets the holiday mood for me – especially if it’s the chipper version by those swing era enchantresses, the Andrews Sisters.}

~ Mistletoe and Holly ~

{This late 1950s Christmas song is one that I think deserves to get more play. It’s a light-hearted, wholesome tune with a simple message of holiday cheer that really sparkles when sung, as it is here, by Ol’ Blue Eyes himself.}

~ Away in a Manger ~

{Harkening back to the 19th century, this serene song has a lullaby-like quality (particularily when sung by Nat King Cole, as it in this version) that I can’t help but associate with being sleepy as a child, my belly full of eggnog and shortbread cookies, on Christmas Eve night as I hung up my stocking, feeling as though an eternity would pass before I’d be able to take it down and retrieve my gifts from its fuzzy interior.}

~ Let It Snow ~

{When the first tissue thin flakes began to fall here last week, this was the song that I ran to play. Beautifully sung by Rosemary Clooney, this vintage version is sure to warm you up with happiness on even on the chilliest of snowy days.}

~ Sleigh Ride ~

{This fantastically lovely instrumental burst onto the Christmas song scene in 1949, and to this day no one can top the classic Boston Pops version above that has helped make this tune a holiday mainstay for over six decades now.}

~ White Christmas ~

{No roundup of vintage Christmas songs would be complete for me without the endlessly beautiful version of White Christmas that Bing Crosby sang in the tune’s namesake movie. To me this song is the embodiment of everything that is right, ageless, and amazing about vintage Christmas music.}

~ What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? ~

{This elegant, romantic holiday song is the perfect number to play during the span of festive days between Christmas and New Year’s, especially if it’s the stellar version by none other than the beautiful Lena Horne.}

The selection of marvellous holiday songs above is but the tip of the festive tune iceberg. Thanks to the fact that many Christmas carols and songs are decades (and in some cases, centuries) old, a great deal of them have been recorded by a vast array of artists over the years. Many singers that tie in with our beloved vintage era – such as Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby – even recorded whole Christmas albums over their own over the years, meaning that there’s a decent chance that you can find many more of your holiday favourites by fantastic yesteryear music stars.

I hope that you enjoyed this festive playlist, it is chalked full of some of my favourite holiday classics (it was tricky to limit this list to just twenty, as I could have easily kept going to fifty or more!). I would love to hear about your most beloved Christmas songs – be they vintage or modern renditions – as I’m always looking to expand my repertoire of holiday tunes.

November 15, 2010

Can you feel what I feel?

The holidays, the holidays are right around the bend!* And I for one am already bubbling over with excitement about this fact! How about you, my lovely friends, as the days zip past like snowflakes in the chilly winter November breeze, are you starting to hum Christmas carols, feel the urge to sport more red and green (festive sweaters entirely optional), and jump into the merriment of the season?

It’s a little odd actually, often in the years (such as this one) when I know that I’m going to be having a very low key Christmas on a modest budget, that I find I’m filled most with the holiday spirit.

Perhaps when many of the stresses that come with planning a large scale Christmas celebration, shopping for scads of presents (and often dreading the bills you know will arrive in January for said purchases), attending more functions than you can shake a stick at, and wondering how on earth you’ll find time to bake fifteen different batches of cookies, are removed (or at least lessened), there’s more freedom and time to sit back and soak up the beauty, inherent peace, and simple splendours of the season.

I’m feeling Christmassy at the moment in a way that I haven’t for a few years. It’s a blissful, almost child-like feeling that makes me want to throw a holiday parade, string lights on everything from my cat’s condo to my laptop (being an apartment dweller who’s not allowed to hang or put anything on our deck, any decorative light fantasies I may have need to be played out indoors), and invite everyone in town over for a humble feast of holiday classics.

This week, despite further work being done in our apartment building (bathroom repairs on our floor are slated for later today), I’m feeling like Christmas can’t get here fast enough. Yet at the same time, I’m very grateful for the fact that the holiday season isn’t just a day or two, instead it’s weeks of celebrating, embracing the spirit of Christmas, and finding festive reasons to smile all through November and December.

I’ll soon be mailing out my Christmas cards, decking the halls (and counters, desks, tables – any surface is far game!), and hopefully be able to figure out what to get my husband this year (he’s one of those folks that are rather tricky to shop for, but in a way I quite enjoy the challenge) – just as I know many of you will as well.

To help celebrate this splendid time of the year, most of the posts that I’ll be putting up here over the next few weeks will be holiday season themed in some capacity. I hope to be able to post some favourite Christmas recipes, bring back the vintage holiday gift guide for a second year, and share oodles of great old school vintage images with all of you.

{1. I see stars, 2. Pink Heaven, 3. Deer head, 4. Vintage Holiday , 5. my favorite pink Christmas tree!, 6. Untitled, 7. Blue Christmas, 8. old things, new things, 9. Vintage Christmas Cards, 10. Plunged Into Christmas Contemplation, 11. Pink Bulbs, 12. Vintage Sugared Christmas Bells, 13. A Christmas Cuppa}

On that note, the collection above is a roundup of delightfully fun vintage Christmas images with a gentle, soothing pink theme running through most of them. I hope that these pretty photos help inspire – or further bolster – your own feeling of wintery happiness and holiday cheer! :)

*Sung/said to the tune of "Do you hear what I hear" (my favourite version of which is the one that was eloquently preformed by Bing Crosby).

November 9, 2010

Flickr Favourites: Vintage Remembrance Day Edition

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{1944 ~ michal_hadassah}

{Black Butterflies ~ Romulo fotos}

{Three and Two ~ Striderv}

{Glamour girl head vase ~ calloohcallay}

{Poppy Heart ~ Sean Tiernan}

{Soldiers without guns ~ michal_hadassah}

{Winter gray ~ Life loves}

{keep calm and carry on ~ patrick h. lauke}

{Poppy seller ~ State Library of New South Wales collection}

{Roses in the Rain ~ kevin.devin}

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In Canada Thanksgiving falls annually in early October, and while I am always delighted to give thanks for the abundance of blessings in my life, family, and country then, another day during which I take time to reflect upon all that I am thankful to have is Remembrance Day.

Growing up, the words “lest we forget” – commonplace in speeches, poems, and odes to those who served and fell for their country, given on November 11th – resonated with me in a profound way. As this very blog itself attests to, I believe with all of my heart that the past should be preserved, learned from, cherished, and – no matter how good or bad – remembered.

As a youngster the notion that somehow my country – or the world as a whole – could forget the atrocities of two world wars was a sobering thought that imparted a reverence for this solemn day in me. I swore to myself at a very early age that I would never forget, never take for granted, never downplay the significance of this important day nor the memory of those who fought (both on the battlefield and as part of the invaluable home front war effort) so that, decades later, I could live in a land of peace and freedom.

I am thankful that many other people out there share my desire to preserve the memories of the past, including documenting the types of events that are facets of Remembrance Day. Today’s Flickr group of note and merit, is one such collective effort. The World War II Flickr group is devoted solely to preserving images (such as the four photos below which hail from this group) of soldiers, the battle front, civilians, and the world as it looked while in the throes of a global conflict. This groups really worth spending a few reflective minutes visiting this week as we mark Remembrance and Veteran’s Days.

{1. Bruce with comrades, 2. Victory day Paris 1945, 3. ROMANCE DURING WORLD WAR TWO 1942, 4. Taffy pics}

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May we all know peace, may the world never again turn into a collective battle field, may all who gave and served, lived and died during WW1 and WW2 never fade from our memory; may the words "lest we forget" always hold true, and may you each, dear friends, have a serene and pleasant Remembrance Day on Thursday.