April 30, 2011

April's just about over, let's Sing, Sing, Sing! :)

Day 120 of Vintage 365


We made it through - all the way through - the rain drenched, often unpredictable month of April. I don't know how the last thirty days progressed for most of you, but on this end (as eluded to in yesterday's post), April was a bit of a dozy.

It was one of those months that feels more uncertain with each passing day. It was busy and stressful, long and far too grey (weather wise), but - as is nearly always the case - it could have been worse, and we pulled through, so there's little sense in focusing on what's already behind us.

While I suspect that May will have its rough spots, too, with a smidge of luck, it will prove to be a more pleasant month than April. The Toronto area is often treated to plenty of wild, powerful thunder and lightning storms in May, which should help to give the air - and perhaps my own energy levels - a deeply needed jolt of pep!

Should the forecasted storms fail to do the trick though, I know that I can always rely on some of my favourite vintage big band songs to do the trick. Seriously, when I feel like I've got the energy levels of a slug that's just done the Iron Man, I've long relied on music - shortlisted from a selection that spans the decades - to, metaphorically speaking, toss a much needed dose of ice water in my face and wake me right up.

I'm not alone in this, by any means. Music is renowned for its ability to affect one's mood, whether we want to chill out, wake up, or just feel happy (amongst the many states music can help put us in).

Beyond any doubt, my absolute favourite big band song of all time is Sing, Sing, Sing. I fell in love with this stellar climatic song as a very small child and have adorned it ever since (I used to put on my pink poodle skirt as a youngster - albeit blending decades there a touch - and pop around the living room to that tune all the time, recruiting anyone within reach - from my little brother to my girlfriends - to be swing dance partners with me).


Amongst the most beloved and well known songs of the big band era, Sing, Sing, Sing hails from 1936, when it was first recorded by Louis Prima and the New Orleans Gang. However it is Benny Goodman's classic 1937 rendition (as seen in the delightful vintage video clip above) that is perhaps the best known of all the recordings of this vivacious, toe-tapping song.

It never fails to wake me, put a smile on my face, and leave me yearning to swing dance around the living room again, as though I were a six year old once more. I'm grateful for the power of music and the fact that this awesome art form is able to lift my spirits so easily.

When life has taken the wind out of your sails, sweet dears, what kind of lively old school songs do you crank up to help revive your dwindled energy reserves?

April 29, 2011

Ahhhh, to be a vintage spring bride

Day 119 of Vintage 365


It's been one of *those* months, my lovelies - oh, who am I kidding, it's been one of *those* years. Has - knock wood! - anything truly catastrophic happened? No, thank goodness, but plenty of small to moderate sized events, health problems, and worries have cropped up that have put something of a damper on what was supposed to be (and, to be fair, still could be if things took a turn for the better) a more positive years than 2010.

Still, no sense in bemoaning what you can't change, and I'm trying to improve those things that I can, so with any luck 2011 can still pull itself out of the fire at some point! In the meantime though, on days when regardless of the weather, it feels like those pesky grey clouds are hanging a little low, I like to a.) count my blessings and b.) find some purely beautiful vintage images to look as a means of helping to elevate my spirits.

Thanks to one of my absolute favourite Flickr streams of all time, that of the Charm and Poise, I was able to indulge in just the splash of vintage escapism I needed this morning, care of some absolutely gorgeous vintage bridal magazine covers that are to be found there.



One glance at the Spring 1955 cover of The Bride's Magazine above (as well as the others to be found in Charm and Poise's delightful Here comes the vintage bride set) and my fretful mind is whisked off to a near utopic paradise where brides are swathed in endless yards of whisper-blush pink tulle and all the world smells of gigantic English roses in bloom.

There is a copious dose of beauty, a great deal of appeal, and so very much that seems to have popped straight out of the pages of a fairy tale to love about this beguiling vintage bridal magazine cover. It's setting is more serene than nearly any wedding could likely ever be, its bride the absolute picture of soon-to-be wedded bliss.

This is the sort of image that sets vintage wedding loving hearts aflutter - and surely must stand to inspire those lucky gals who are planning their own nuptials at this very minute (who amongst us wouldn't all but die to wear that stunningly lovely dress?!).

After a few moments of letting my mind daydream about what it would have been like to be a bride in the spring of 1955 (complete with iconic single strand pearl necklace and regally elegant bouquet of white blooms), I really do feel as though things are looking up a bit today. Proof positive that few things can set the world right like a wonderful wedding! :)

April 28, 2011

Such a springtime-perfect 1950s style dress!

Day 118 of Vintage 365


If there is one thing that I love perhaps more than all others about the return of spring, it is the fact that my warm weather wardrobe gets to come out of hiding (or at least be put into heavier rotation) once more.

While there is much to be said for snuggly cardigans, wool trousers, thick opaque tights and sturdy snow boots, after half a year of such really heavy-duty clothing, I'm positively itching to throw off the shackles off winter and dive head first into lightweight fabrics and pieces that instantly telegraph sunny weather once more.

Take for example, the incredibly pretty red and white gingham sundress below. It's precisely - in every way, right down to the gorgeous princess neckline - the kind of garment that sings of spring's return from the highest mountain peak.

I love this charming dress - which looks as though it could have easily been plucked right out of the pages of the youthful 1950s fashion magazine - for it's breezy cut, punchy (entirely picnic worthy!) colour palette, feminine tailoring, and the daydreams of delightfully warm afternoons spent outdoors that I envision when I look at it.

This happy-go-luck 1950s inspired frock (which is available in assorted modern British ladies sizes for £59.00 from UK seller Aspire Style) is not meant for January (in colder climates) and it makes no pretences of being so. It is fun, light, and bright, radiating a vibe of wonderful summertime happiness.

To me this girly dress is as lovely as a juicy May strawberry, as pretty as a June rose, and as as energizing as a fresh July sunrise. It's the antithesis of winter clothing and exactly the kind dress I'm be sporting until those pesky snowflakes come back into sight again next autumn! Smile

April 27, 2011

Super easy 1940s salmon cakes recipe

Day 117 of Vintage 365


By modern standards, today's featured vintage recipe may seem a little on the plain side (and I'm the first one to admit it could use some jazzing up care of a few spices and fresh herb - and perhaps a squeeze or two of lemon or lime juice).

However, something about the fact that it's so simple, so unfussy and free of judicious quantities of mayonnaise/gelatine/Spam/capers (thought capers might be quite nice here, actually)/some variety of creamed soup or other highly common vintage diner recipe ingredient makes it seem nearly modern (save until you read through to end and see that these unpretentious salmon cakes are served on pineapple rings).

Hailing from the 1940 edition of the Better Homes and Garden cookbook (and sourced via Eudaemonius superb Flickr stream), the backbone of this seafood recipe is one that really stands the test of time. Salmon cakes (aka, salmon patties), whether whipped together with canned or fresh salmon, are a wonderful, very quick-to-toss-together recipe that pairs excellently with a crisp salad full of tangy spring greens, and should you feel in the mood for heartier fare, a side of sweet potato fries goes down an absolute treat (as those lovely folks in the UK like to say).

While I'm all for trying vintage dishes exactly as they're (no matter how eyebrow raising! Winking smile ) the first time around, the modern chef in me would be inclined to tweak this straightforward salmon cake recipe just a smidge, adding in some fresh chives (or dill) and parsley, a teaspoon or two of cream (to help keep the cakes moist), and the aforementioned citrus juice (if you were craving a little heat, some Thai chili sauce - perhaps swirled into icebox-cold crème fraiche - would be a splendid dip for these yummy seafood cakes).

{Click here for a larger version of this timeless 1940s salmon cake recipe.}


No matter how you dress them up or down, it's hard to fumble when it comes to salmon (or for that matter, crab) cakes. They're one of those from-the-sea foods that I've found even folks who aren't particularly keen on fish generally enjoy.

Why not pick up some lovely fresh boneless salmon and give these classic vintage fish cakes a spin for your next weekend lunch or diner on the patio (actual seafront view option, but all the more fantastic if you can come by it! Smile).


Bon appétit!

April 26, 2011

The eye-opening cost of living in 1951

Day 116 of Vintage 365


There is absolutely no denying - especially in the stern face of the recession that so much of the world has truly struggled through in recent years - that the cost of living has skyrocketed. I do not profess to be an expert on world economics by any means, and this post isn't meant to delve into the plethora of reasons why (nearly) everything has gone up (often significantly) in price lately. It is intended more as a look at what certain items cost in 1951 mixed with a few thoughts on the economy both then and now.

According The People History, a website with interesting stats and fun facts about the last several decades, in 1951 - just sixty years ago - the following prices were what the average American family would have paid for certain commonplace items (as well as the average wage).


Cost of living in 1951

  • Average wages per year $3,510.00

  • Average Cost of new house $9.000.00

  • Average Cost of a new car $1,500.00

  • Cost of a gallon of Gas 19 cents

  • Loaf of Bread 16 cents

  • Pound of Hamburger Meat 50 cents

  • Bacon per LB 52 cents

  • Eggs per dozen 24 cents

  • Water Jacket Heater ( Asbestos ) $4.59

  • Baby Diapers ( Cotton ) From $2.79

  • Children's Tricycle From $14.00

    {Vintage suburban house image via wackystuff on Flickr.}


    Though The People History site does not state where they sourced those numbers from, I would venture to say that these prices are a fair representation of what the above listed items really did cost in 1951.

    At the time, my maternal grandma was twenty one, the same age my younger sister will turn later this year. It's staggering to think that someone of my grandma's generation could have purchased a house for "just" $9,000.00 (assuming the Canadian prices on housing in '51 were akin to those in the States).

    Today, most small "starter homes" in large towns and cities across Canada will run you at least $200,000 (though in many areas, it's getting harder and harder to find even quasi-decent homes below the $300,000 mark).

    Though some things have progressed at a somewhat "normal" rate of inflation (bread, eggs, ground beef, etc), others have clearly multiplied exceedingly and at rate the is no where on par with what people are, on average, earning these days.

    In the post-war forties and fifties there was a burgeoning, successful middle class that sprang to life in a new and powerful way across North America. Things like car and home ownership, saving money, living within your means, and being able to provide your children with a good life (including a college education) were not pipe dreams, they were considered the American dream and they were there for nearly everyone to avail of, so long as they worked hard and were financially responsible.

    Sixty years on the world is a very different place. The starry-eyed optimism of the fifties has been replaced by the grime reality of a world in economic crisis and a diminishing middle class (for an example of stats backing that statement up, see this article by Wayne Isaksen).

    However the purpose of this post isn't too wallow in sorrow over the state of the economy right now. Only time will tell for sure how - and if - we will be able to rebound to pre-recession levels and if wages will ever be able to increase enough to afford the middle class the ability to restock its ranks once more. Instead it is to look back informatively at what things would have cost for our parents and/or grandparents sixty years ago.

    I love the 1950s, they are without a doubt my favourite decade of all time. I find it fascinating to learn about the prices of everyday objects at the beginning of one of the most influential and impactful decades in recent history. A time when the world was far from perfect, yet still considerably more affordable. When one could pop down to the dealership and take home a new car for $1,500 or give little Timmy or Sally a tricycle for just $14.00.

    In these prices I feel a common sense of nostalgia for an era, a way of life, and an economy that I never actually lived - but which I feel is worth remembering and learning about every chance I can get. Which is why, six decades on from when these prices rang true, I wanted to share this little table of costs with all of you, knowing as I do how much history means to you, as well.

    Now the real question worth pondering becomes, what on earth will these items run us in another sixty years? None of us can know for sure, but I certainly hope – for the sake of our grandchildren -that starter housing prices won't be in the millions!

  • April 25, 2011

    Send oodles of cheer with these great vintage get well cards

    Day 115 of Vintage 365

    Perhaps it's just been within my circle, but it seems like a lot of people I know have been contending with health issues this year. From relatively minor ailments to serious, life-changing conditions, it's as though the gods of health have not been smiling on many of the folks I care about this year.

    Branching out beyond my close friends and family, in talking with other acquaintances, it appears the trend continues. No sooner do I raise this subject, then the person I'm speaking with rushes to point out how they and/or someone close to them has been ill this year, too.

    While I'm certainly not laying the groundwork for any kind of conspiracy theory here (and, when dealing with things like colds and flus, one obviously sees a higher occurrence rate of such viruses during the winter/chillier months of the year), so many folks seem to be battling new (to them) health problems that it struck me as point worth raising publicly.

    I hope with all my heart that you, sweet readers, and your loved ones have been healthy as strapping oxen this year. However, if that's not the case, know that my thoughts and most earnest healing wishes are with you.

    Should you desire to send a cheerful "get well" message out to anyone in your life who's under the weather, I came across a delightfully fun set of vintage reproduction get well cards this week that are sure to help lift anybody's spirits.


    The smile-inducing get well card above hails from a set that features 12 cards (two each of six charming old school designs), complete with matching envelopes. This uplifting, light-hearted collection of vintage get well cards is available for $12.99 on Amazon.com, and would be a really handy set to have at the ready for the next time someone in your life is in need of some "feel better" wishes.

    As we catapult further into spring, I hope that everyone whose health is less than optimal, will be doing more positively and that nothing else - not even the most minor of ailments - will befall anyone.

    Should that prove not to be the case though, at least I know what to send the next person I care about who's in need of some lovely vintage get well wishes.

    April 24, 2011

    Joyful Easter wishes!

    Day 114 of Vintage 365


    {Delightful vintage Easter photo via Captain Geoffrey Spaulding on Flickr.}


    On this beautiful morning, solemn and bright, filled with thoughts of

    hope and peace, rebirth and springtime wonder, I wish each of you, my

    dear friends, a marvellously lovely Easter filled with every bit as much

    bliss as is in the eyes of these two vintage youngsters!

    April 23, 2011

    Enjoying a spot of Lucy Maud Montgomery's springtime poetry

    Day 113 of Vintage 365


    Easter weekend should be a time of peace and happiness, of celebrating and holding dear that elements of this resplendent part of the year that matter most to you and your family.

    Though we had snow as recently here as Monday the 18th (though to be fair, it was more like a three-part flurry of rain, snow and tiny pea meal sized balls of hail), by and large the world is looking, feeling, and even smelling more like spring (gone is the heady, beautiful scent of wood smoke in the air, in its place the earthy aroma of damp soil and budding verdant grass).

    I awoke on this fresh Saturday morning with the words of a poem by beloved early twentieth century Canadian writer Lucy Maud Montgomery dancing like springtime pixies in my mind. While we commonly associate LMM with her superb books (most famous amongst which is the Prince Edward Island classic, Anne of Green Gables), Montgomery was also a gifted poetess who wrote a wonderful array of poems during her lifetime.

    The piece below, titled elegantly "Spring Song", is amongst my favourite of her poems, and one that I enjoy rereading each year as spring really and truly begins to come to life in my own corner of the Canadian landscape.

    To further help impart of a delightfully seasonal vibe to today's post, below Montgomery's graceful poem, resides a vintage French photo postcard (which comes via Chicks57 on Flickr) of a young girl carrying an oversized basket of spring flowers, that I thought partnered well with this timeless poem.


    Spring Song

    by Lucy Maud Montgomery


    Hark, I hear a robin calling!

    List, the wind is from the south!

    And the orchard-bloom is falling

    Sweet as kisses on the mouth.


    In the dreamy vale of beeches

    Fair and faint is woven mist,

    And the river's orient reaches

    Are the palest amethyst.


    Every limpid brook is singing

    Of the lure of April days;

    Every piney glen is ringing

    With the maddest roundelays.


    Come and let us seek together

    Springtime lore of daffodils,

    Giving to the golden weather

    Greeting on the sun-warm hills.


    Ours shall be the moonrise stealing

    Through the birches ivory-white;

    Ours shall be the mystic healing

    Of the velvet-footed night.


    Ours shall be the gypsy winding

    Of the path with violets blue,

    Ours at last the wizard finding

    Of the land where dreams come true.


    I hope, sweet friends, that this charming look at spring, in its endlessly appealing grace and wonder will help launch your weekend (and Easter Eve!) off on a deeply cheerful note - as it most certainly has mind.

    April 22, 2011

    Reflecting on the timeless beauty of Easter

    Day 112 of Vintage 365


    Joyful Good Friday wishes, my wonderful dears, may this special morning find you all doing splendidly and gearing up for a fantastic weekend. On this end it's pretty much just another Friday as usual, though with (the hugely appreciated) added bonus of being fairly pleasant on the weather front.

    Though I'm still not spying any new blooms outside yet (who knows, they may still spring to life before Sunday), there's a whisper of warmth in the breeze that seems to be saying "have no fear, winter is finally behind us!".

    Is that really the case, or just a matter of wishful Canadian thinking? Well, it's hard to say for sure (given that parts of country, like Calgary, experienced a fresh snowfall as recently as a few days ago!), but I'm all for looking at the glass half full (or in this instance, the snow bank half empty) and hoping that we are on our way to a (knowing Toronto as I do) rather brief spring before we barrel headfirst into another humid-as-a-Brazilian-rain forest summer.

    With the holiday weekend upon us, I'm in a festive, chipper mood. Though gone are the days of scavenging around the house for tiny candy eggs (interestingly, given that as I grew up, I learned many people did, my family never hid Easter eggs outside - perhaps because our dogs probably would have ate them before we could! :D), I still like to lay in a few special treats and prepare a delicious Sunday meal.

    I find that - so often unlike Christmas - Easter tends to be a more serene holiday. There isn't the frazzled hurry of shopping for (and wrapping) mountains gifts, sending scores of cards out, attending social function after social function, smiling like a monarch during office parties, and the need to prepare enough food to feed the armies of at least ten countries.

    Easter is, in many respects, a sombre holiday, but also one of great felicity and rebirth. It celebrates the arrival of spring, the return of a green world, and the merriment of life itself. One is more free to celebrate it as grandly or simplistically as they desire, and it's towards the later side of the scale that my festivities generally fall.


    To me Easter is a lot like this lovely Family Circle magazine cover from 1953 (which comes via CapricornOneVintage's Flickr stream). It's a day of dignified beauty, special memories for children, darling animals, and simple pleasures.

    Tell me, sweet friends, what does Easter mean to you and your family? What sort of memories about this holiday to you look forward to most each year, and how to you like to incorporate your love of the past into your present day Easter celebrations?

    April 21, 2011

    Capture the royal wedding spirit with this delightful Union Jack make-up bag

    Day 111 of Vintage 365


    With the most anticipated royal wedding since Di and Charles tied the knot now just mere days away, it seems as though all eyes from Surrey (B.C.) to Surrey (UK), are fixed squarely on Westminster Abby. The hype and (literal) fanfare surrounding this momentous event is reaching fever pitch, and with it a renewed interest in all things splendidly British.

    I adore the United Kingdom, always have, always will. For as long as I can recall fancying the past, I've poured over its rich history, soaked up its brilliant poets and authors, adored its actors and actresses, gone weak in the knees for its cuisine (I don't give two pence what anyone sardonically says, truly good British food is absolutely marvelous!), and have enjoyed casually keeping abreast of the going-ons of the royal family (who, after, still have substantial ties to Canada).

    However, one of the stumbling blocks for the a vintage lover such as myself who's keen on adding a little anglophile pizazz to their home decor, is the fact that many ironically British pieces tend to channel a distinctly mod vibe (I love the Beatles, but never really felt in tune with 60s British fashion, sorry Mary Quant) - or feature royal faces on chinaware, which not all of us are huge fans of.

    I like pieces that capture the jolly English spirit yet will still look as classic and gorgeous today as they will in fifty years. To the extent I went bopping around the merry old internet and came back with today's delightful find.


    This elegant, wonderfully homemade looking make-up bag (which could easily work as a coin purse or handy catch-all bag, too) takes the classic Union Jack flag and reworks it in softer, more feminine, charmingly vintage looking hues of soft lavender and gentle moss green.

    Measuring in at 21cm x 17cm x 5cm, and made of gingham with ric-rac detailing, this pretty Union Jack cosmetics bag (which is available for £14.99 from online seller Sabrina Fair) looks as though it might have been sewn by one's adorable British grandmother when she was a young woman during WW2.

    Mixing equal parts timeless British charm and DIY-esque appeal, this wonderful little bag is by far one of the loveliest items I could think to pick up as a reminder of the Will and Kate's upcoming nuptials, as well as being a stellar example of vintage style with an unquestionably UK vibe to it.

    April 20, 2011

    This adorable vintage Easter Egg Cake recipe is sure to please everybunny! :)

    Day 110 of Vintage 365


    Without a doubt, I think it's safe to say that one of the best parts of nearly any major holiday is the food! Indeed, there's a reason why these special celebrations were so often called fest days in years gone by, for it was through an abundance of food that one shared with their family and friends in the merriment of a certain date.

    While in some households Easter might not quite produce quite as huge an array of meals, baked goods, and sweet treats as Christmas, for many it does (or at least comes immensely close). An Easter menu may call to mind roast meats (ham, lamb, turkey, duck, etc), oodles of fresh vegetable dishes (made all the more spectacular if they were cultivated from one's own budding spring garden), warm, yeasty breads piping hot from the oven, and plenty of candy in every nook and cranny of the house, however I can't imagine letting Easter come and go without one especially lovely standout dessert, too.

    Each year I like to change things up, always seeking something festive, cheerful, and - whenever possible - vintage in origin. Today recipe, which harkens back to 1953, fits absolutely all of those points to a tee!

    Dubbed, rather appropriately (given its appearance), the Easter Egg Cake, this marvelous dessert marries yellow cake (in this instance from a cake mix, but you could just as easily use homemade) - that is cut into the shape of half an egg - with layers of rich Baker's Chocolate frosting. This Peter Cottontail approved cake is then given a further boost of sugar care of piped decretive white frosting and jelly beans, to help complete the final Easter egg look.

    {Click here for a larger version of this scrumptiously festive vintage Easter Egg Cake recipe.}

    One of things that appeals to be about this great Easter dessert (which comes via saltycotton’s terrific Flickr stream) is that's a shaped cake that doesn't require a specialty pan. The egg form comes to life thanks to a little trimming and creative stacking, which is held in place with chocolate frosting (the most natural of icing flavours for this time of year).

    If you like, you could easily play around with recipe to your heart's content. Varying the type of cake and/or frosting colours to match your Easter menu, table decor, household decorations, or even your mood.

    If you’re feeling creative, why not reverse the colours and create a chocolate cake with white frosting (white looking even more like an eggshell!), or create a white chocolate cake with buttercream frosting that you tinted pastel pink, purple, yellow, green, or blue - just like a real home-dyed Easter egg.

    Whichever direction you take this cheerful vintage cake in, it's bound to be a hit with all the bunnies (aka, guests) at your Easter table this year! Smile

    April 19, 2011

    Dumpling Dynasty’s Bunny Kit is too cute for words!

    Day 109 of Vintage 365


    Do you love things that are cute/kawaii and utterly, fabulously ripe with more vintage inspired charm than you can shake a carrot stick at? Well then, my wonderful dears, you are in luck then, because today's post is going to be right up your alley! :)

    With Easter weekend fast approaching, it's only natural that one's thoughts turn to all things bunny related. From lapins en chocolat to pink nosed, ultra cute bundles of white fur hopping around one's garden, rabbits are suddenly everywhere this time of year.

    Though the costumed candy-hiding, costumed bunny at the mall may satisfy the younger generation, for those of us who still celebrate the spirit of Easter - but don't quite think Mr. Mall rabbit is fooling anyone - there's nothing like a little vintage Easter DIY charm to get you in the festive mood.

    Without a doubt some of the most quirky, fascinatingly illustrated, enticingly appealing kawaii meets vintage lines on the market today is Dumpling Dynasty. Bursting with nearly blindingly bold hues, fantasy meet classic mid-twentieth century Chinese meets saccharine sweet kawaii art, and oodles of crafty sewing, baking, DIY, beauty and other equally delightful products, this brand is bound to deliver something for everyone.

    Come Eastertime, that something might just be Dumpling Dynasty's Bunny Kit.

    Bursting with everything one needs (including the stuffing) to sew up a squeal-inducingly cute plush rabbit, all nestled inside a fabulous teal-green tin depicting two little girls cheerfully whipping up their own little handmade bunnies, this awesome kit (of which I found the best US price - of $17.99 - on Amazon.com) is beyond perfect for anyone on your Easter shopping list with a penchant for vintage, kawaii, sewing or bunnies! Smile

    April 18, 2011

    My absolute favourite red lipstick (ever!)

    Day 108 of Vintage 365


    Actress Carole Lombard - who is perhaps best known for her role in the classic 1936 comedy My Man Godfrey - once said, "I live by a man's code, designed to fit a man's world, yet at the same time I never forget that a woman's first job is to choose the right shade of lipstick."

    While much has changed since Lombard uttered those words, and perhaps - I like to think at least - she might be pleased to know that many strives have been made towards equality, I enjoy this quote because there is a lot of truth to fact that picking the right shade of lipstick is an important job and one that can go a long way towards the over-all success of one's daily look.

    In peering into my make-up case (a lovely black train case my wonderful mother tracked down for me in my hometown of 30,000 people, when I'd had no luck finding one out here in Toronto!) one would see an assortment of lipsticks in shades spanning dusty rose to richly saturated Bordeaux, yet there would be no missing my beloved and oft used tub that stands out as my favourite shade of all: MAC's Russian Red.

    I experimented with a lot of different reds over the years, trying both drugstore and (moderately priced) department store brands, and while I founds some that were certainly satisfactory, it wasn't until I twisted the cap off and applied my first swipe of Russian Red a couple of years ago that I knew I'd found my perfect shade of crimson.

    Having pale skin (with pink undertones) and red hair, I often found that reds looked either too yellow on me (or occasionally, too blue), and I strove to find a shade that would come across, taking my colouring into consideration, as a true red. In Russian Red, with it's thick, lush formula and incredible staying power, I discovered the exact red I'd been searching for since I first started wearing lipstick at the tender age of 14.

    I'm by no means alone in my adoration of this scarlet hue though. I know that oodles of vintage loving gals and women of all walks of life enjoy this sharp, bold (but in no way, shape or form "costume-y") red, too. I've seen women of all different skin tones pull of this commanding red with great success, and think that it is by far one of the most classic (read: equal parts pin-up girl and modern fashionista alike worthy), deeply beautiful lipsticks of all time.

    Aside from just being a fantastic shade of rich red, this particular lippy is a winner in my books because of its smooth texture, matte finish, and awesome staying power (I find that if I apply it overtop of red lip liner or lip stain, blot, then apply a second coat, I'll be able to go for several hours before I need to reply again, even if I have something to eat or drink).

    While it costs a bit more then some of the drugstore brands, I feel that I get great value for my money and am happy to pay the $17.00 or so a tub of Russian Red runs me here in Canada at my local MAC make-up counter (one lippy, I find, will last several months even when applied - and reapplied - nearly every day).

    As well, I've yet to find a single garment in my wardrobe that I can't successfully pair Russian Red with, including red shirts (while red lippy with a red top by seem like too much red, if you've found the right shade of both and keep the rest of your make-up on the more understated side, the two can actually work together beautifully), which means that this wonderful MAC lipstick gives me tons of make-up mileage.

    If you've been on the hunt for the perfect shade of red lipstick, and haven't given this gem a whirl yet, I highly suggest treating yourself to a tub of MAC's Russian Red. Since finding it, it's become the only red lipstick I buy or wear any more (the sultry yet sophisticated shade has such a terrific vintage - particularly 1950s - vibe to it), and MAC better believe that I'll be a loyal customer of this great shade so long as they sell it.

    I like to think that if she was still with us today (tragically she died at the age of 33 in an airplane crash) Carole Lombard would find her all-important first beauty step of the day made easier by having a trusty tub of Russian Red in her make-up bag, just as I know it's definitely helped to make mine.

    Chronically Vintage turns two years old!

    It was a Saturday like so many before it, and yet singularly different, for it was the day I decided to create a blog devoted to my lifelong love of all things vintage. The date in question was April 18, 2009, precisely two years ago today, and on it Chronically Vintage was born.

    In the wee hours of the morning (perpetual night owl that I am, I often write pieces for this blog while most off the world is fast asleep - and CV's first post was no exception), consumed by a desire to corral the massive bounty of vintage items, images, and fellow old school loving souls I was encountering online, I launched this site.

    Two years - a period that at once seems like the blink of an eye and yet also as though it stretched on for eons, as time so often has a way of doing - have passed since that night, and much has transpired in my life since. There have been times when, due to my health, I didn't know if it would be possible for me to keep Chronically Vintage alive and kicking, and yet (aided immeasurably by the support and friendship of many of my readers), here we sit today still going strong.

    Over this pair of years CV has introduced (and in some cases gracefully retired) various reoccurring posts, covered a wonderfully diverse range of topics (I'm far too eclectic a soul to tie my posts down to just a few subjects, preferring instead to write about topics spanning a hefty slice of the vintage spectrum), held fun giveaways, talked about the lightest of subjects, some incredibly personal issues, and a great many things in between.

    This blog has proven to be a cathartic creative outlet that I didn't even know I was lacking in my life prior to its conception, and yet now can scarcely imagine what these past two years would have been like without it. Amongst the image filled entries in this blog, I've gathered and shared many vintage topics that impacted me on some level for a multitude of different reasons.

    Sometimes posts have centred on such light-hearted subjects as vintage dresses that captured my eye, other times they've delved into impactful historical events, scrumptious yesteryear recipes, people whose work spoke to me, or items that I felt would be of interest to my fellow vintage loving souls.

    I'd venture to guess that the total word count of all my posts at this stage would equate to that of a (perhaps modest sized) book, which is a fascinating thought, as one of the key ways in which I've viewed Chronically Vintage from the very get-go is as an online scrapbook of the plethora of vintage topics that inspire and continue to fuel my unceasing love of the past.

    Without the slightest shadow of a doubt, this blog would not be where - or what - it is today, if not for all of you, my terrific readers and online friends who have supported CV and shared in my adoration of vintage topics throughout every day of the last two years. The words "thank you" seem insufficient when it comes to expressing my gratitude for the relationship and trove of memories we've shared.

    Lacking a crystal ball, I cannot say what the future holds in store for this blog, where Chronically Vintage will be at in 2013, two years from now. What I do know though is that no matter what paths CV may follow, what topics are covered, what images are posted, which events we experience together, I will never stop loving the golden years of the mid-twentieth century and sharing that passion for as long as I possibly can with all of you.

    {Heartwarmingly adorably vintage second birthday party photo via sarahblascovich on Flickr.}

    Happiest 2nd birthday, Chronically Vintage! Let us all raise our glasses - and birthday cake filled forks - in wishing you many more stellar years to come!

    April 17, 2011

    Wrangle your paper clutter with this lovely vintage wall organizer

    Day 107 of Vintage 365

    There's something about springtime, with its effervescent sunlight, longer hours of warmth (which I couldn't help but describe to my husband the other nights as being magical in their wonderfulness and serene beauty), that makes you want to shake the proverbial cobwebs from your mind, delight in each passing moment, and set your house in order.

    It's no wonder that the term spring cleaning exists. During the sullen months of winter, drab and grey, bone chillingly cold and fraught with unpredictable weather, one so often naturally wants to gravitate indoors, to nest and draw comfort from their surroundings. However, when the frost finally melts and songbirds begin chirping once more, what was once cozy in the dim evening light of January can look positively cluttered in April's glistening morning sunshine.

    For those like myself who live in modest sized quarters - or who are seeking ways in which to get more out of whatever amount of space they have - one of the most practically ways to organize is upwards.

    By this I mean, instead of just expanding your possessions merely horizontally to the left and right, look skyward and seek ways in which to organize vertically. Shelves and bookcases can certainly help in this regard, but sometimes you need more storage in a spot that's simply too small for such a piece of furniture, in which cases options like pocketed wall holders can be just what the home decor doctor ordered.

    Take for example, this marvellously charming, shabby chic vintage wall organizer that I spied on etsy recently. Featuring images of four chickens/roosters and three slots, this elegantly farm girl glamorous piece is the sort of the excellently practical organizational item that can really help get paper clutter offer the counter, table and desk and neatly sorted in one handy-dandy spot.


    Made of authentically aged (aka, charmingly worn), printed tin and sporting a keyhole handing at the top, this understatedly beautiful wall hanging measures 20" high x 4.5" wide (each pocket has a depth of 4.5") and would be a great spot in which to roundup everything from your child's school notices to take-away menus, receipts to scraps accumulated from your paper crafting activities.

    Should you be feeling the urge to tidy up this spring and are in need of a vintage wall organizer, be sure to hop on over to etsy seller Hipaloo's shop, where you can pick (or, given the chicken theme, should I say “peck up” Smile) this practically and pretty vintage piece for $39.99.

    It's sure to add a fantastic dose of yesteryear style to any room in your hen house (aka, home), while also helping to make this year's spring cleaning go quicker (thus leaving you more time to revel in that magical April sunlight!).

    April 16, 2011

    1945 edition of what's in your bag?

    Day 106 of Vintage 365


    A few years ago a trend sprung up on the ol' interwebz in which it became all the rage to share a photo of the contents of one's bag with the world. From fashion to mommy bloggers, oodles of gals (and to a lesser extent, guys - as this blog post shows) were (and still are) letting us sneak a peak into the various possessions that were calling their purse home.

    A Flickr group - which currently has over 20,000 members - called What's in your bag? devoted to the subject even appeared, as have variations of the theme such as The Items We Carry and What's in your camera bag?.

    Though I've occasionally seen accusations of staging (aka, the charge that someone had deliberately placed certain items in the photo that they didn't really carry around with them all the time), and every now and then that may be the case, by and large these images give us a very realistic glimpse into the private sanctums of another woman's purse - and by extension, a look at who that person is.

    Thanks to such photos we could suddenly know if she liked to carry around everything and the kitchen sink (a camp into which I've been known to veer many-a-time myself) or she was a streamlined sister with little more than a Metro Pass and a beloved tub of nearly finished lipstick in her tiny clutch.

    From books to music devices (iPods, etc), make-up to accessories, snacks to camera, there was (and is) something strangely addictive about glancing at the contents of someone else's purse. You can't help but compare your own bag against it (with thoughts such as, "Ooooh, we both use the same hand cream!" or "Their wallet is so much nicer than mine!"), noting similarities and differences, and perhaps being reminded of something you should be toting around but haven't been lately (such as an umbrella in the spring).

    While the desire to peer into another person's handbag is scarcely new (especially for chaps, who so often seem to think all purses have a magical Mary Poppins-like quality to them), until recently I had yet to find a vintage example of this fun game (though long had a feeling that, given enough time, one would appear - there's no way that yesteryear gals didn't enjoy peering at the stuff women of their day carried around just as much as we do today!).

    {Click here for a larger version of this wonderful 1945 magazine page.}


    This terrific vintage image, which comes by way of kimintn on Flickr, is immensely interesting, as it features the handbag contents of both a young girl named Margaret o"Brien and chicly dressed lady called Maria Montez.

    The items in little Maggie's bag remind me very much of what I used to carry around in my first teeny handbag (which was a darling tartan patterned mini saddlebag style purse): a tiny doll, some coins, a hankie, and a few cherished belongings.

    Being older and more worldly, Maria naturally needs to stock her bag with more than just a child's trinkets and treasures. In her interesting Persian lamb's wool purse we see a larger - but still rather streamlined - array of items such as gloves, photographs, a calorie guide (attesting to the fact that trying to keep your figure trim is anything but a new preoccupation for many folks), letters, a small pouch-like bag used as a wallet, and - just as in young Margaret's bag - a handkerchief.

    By comparison with the kinds of things one often finds in today's (one might say "overcrowded") purses, Maria's bag seems nearly minimalistic (it's interesting to note how few cosmetics she was packing that day), yet I bet it was worlds easier on her shoulders than carrying around the kind of Sherpa worthy bags many of us do these days.

    This wonderful vintage magazine page from the forties shares not only a moment of handbag voyeurism, but also a snapshot of the lives of two individuals at that precise moment in time - which, if you stop and think about it, is exactly what today's "what's in your handbag" craze accomplishes, too.

    Different eras, yet common items interspersed with the events and trends of the day, capturing perfectly the essence of someone's life as told by the contents of their purse.

    April 15, 2011

    Let us all pause to remember the sinking of the Titanic

    Day 105 of Vintage 365


    The story of the Titanic is one that, at first glance, may seem as though it needs no retelling. Since the fateful night precisely 99 years ago today that this seemingly mighty and unsinkable ship went down, every generation has heard tell of how one of the grandest ocean liners of all time meet its nearly unthinkable end. And yet, given the gravity of this event, how cannot stop and reflect upon the story - the real story, not merely the glamorized Hollywood version - of the events that unfolded in those staggeringly cold Atlantic waters on April 15, 1912.

    I have always wondered if part of the reason why the sinking of the Titanic remained so visibly in the public eye over the decades is because she went down on her maiden voyage. While the same grim fate has befall other ships throughout time, too, perhaps none had received such press and publicity prior to their launch as the RMS Titanic did.

    At the time of her completion the Titanic, which was owned by the White Star Line, was the largest steamship on earth. This majestic vessel had been designed by world class engineers and built with some of the most cutting edge technology and extensive safety features of its day.

    Tragically however, the ship was only constructed with enough lifeboats to hold 1,178 people, whereas on the night she went down, the Titanic had 2,223 passengers on board. However, in the end (which came surprisingly quickly for such a seemingly impenetrable and resilient ship) far fewer people than there was theoretically lifeboat space for survived the nightmarish ordeal that freezing April eve.

    {An artist's version of what the Titanic may have looked like as it approached the iceberg that would be its murderous undoing. Image via Vivid.ro.}


    As the Titanic cut across the unpredictable Atlantic waters on a night that was described by most accounts as being cold, but calm and pleasant, its starboard side collided with a large iceberg that buckled the hull in multiple spots (causing numerous rivets that were located below the waterline to pop free).

    The structural damage this impactful hit had resulted in the ship taking on water rapidly, which in turn weighed the mighty vessel down considerably (therefore causing more and more water to come rushing into the ship as it submerged further below the waterline).

    The rest, as they say, is history. Less than three hours after the Titanic struck that direful iceberg, it had gone down, resulting in a mind boggling 1,517 fatalities (including, especially heartbreaking, one woman, Alma Pålsson and all ten of her children).

    Though various movies over the years have tried to capture the horrendously frightening last minutes of this ill-fated ship's life, only those who were there as the Titanic sunk will ever truly know what conspired that night and what it felt like to witness the unthinkable.

    Today, one year shy of a full century since the RMS Titanic was lost at sea, let us all take a few moments of solemn silence to remember and honour the over one thousand, five hundred souls - men, women, and children of all ages - whose lives were robbed of them by the sea on April 12, 1912.

    Though gone, I believe, and very much hope, that due to the gravity of this maritime disaster, those passengers - like the very ship that transported them across the sea - will never be forgotten.

    April 14, 2011

    You'll yearn for rainy days thanks to this beautiful purple polka dot umbrella

    Day 104 of Vintage 365


    This past Sunday the thought struck me that I've been feeling the colour purple in a very big way recently. Now, that's not to say that I was ever off purple, but rather - and perhaps it this has to do with the slow emergence of springtime blooms once again, in all manner of lavender, orchid, violet and periwinkle shades - that I think I'm going to make it my colour of the month.

    This is a smidge tricky however, because (despite the fact that several purples work well with my colouring, especially on the dusty and darker sides of the spectrum) I actually don't presently own very many purple pieces. Nevertheless, I'll be putting what I do have to good use (especially paired with cream - I wildly adore regal purple and romantic ivory partnered together) and keeping my eyes peeled for further vintage and vintage inspired purple pieces that are (ideally) budget-friendly, such as today's immensely pretty umbrella.


    Sporting a darling soft purple on lilac polka dot pattern and a superbly feminine dark aubergine hued ruffle trim, this massively appealing brolly hits the mark straight on when it comes to mixing playful and elegant together perfectly.

    While April showers may indeed bring May flowers, there's no skirting around the fact that both months are often worthy of an ark when it comes to rainfall, making right now all the more fitting a time to add a fresh dose of purple to your own wardrobe, too, care of this gorgeous Lisbeth Dahl Lavender Polka Dot Umbrella (which is available from online UK seller Sabrina Fair for £17.75).

    This spotted gem of an umbrella is the kind of wonderful accessory that is bound to become a hard and fast favourite. I know that if I had one, I'd carry it with me if there was even so much as one lone cloud petering around sky, ensuring I was always ready to keep raindrop at bay while looking splendidly vintage chic under my charming purple parasol. :)

    April 13, 2011

    Your man will love this vintage Spring Rhapsody Cake

    Day 103 of Vintage 365


    Whereas modem women have nearly unmentionable (this being a family friendly blog!) suggestions pelted at them from the glossy covers of magazines such as Cosmo, as to how one can please their man and get him to love you (has anyone else ever wondered why magazines that are supposedly for women are so often filled with ways not so much to ensure that us ladies are satisfied, but that the men in our lives are?), vintage gals - according to this charmingly illustrated Swans Down flour ad - simply had to whip up one of these beautiful looking Spring Rhapsody Cake (which is claims, men positively adore).

    {Click here for a larger version of this inviting vintage Spring Rhapsody Cake recipe.}


    Featuring food colouring tinted seven minute frosting (my favourite kind of frosting in the world; when I was growing up it was always affectionately called "marshmallow frosting" at my house due to the similarity in taste and colour it bears to marshmallows) and utterly darling carved gumdrop tulips, this cheerful dessert is a cinch to make (especially if you use a cake mix - as this recipe suggests - for the base, though of course you could just as easily put any white or yellow cake recipe you fancy to work here).

    Swans Down cake flour has been on the market since 1895 and is still going strong today. Though I've never baked with it myself (we don't have that brand up here north of the 49th), I've encountered numerous vintage recipes for it over the years and have generally thought they looked both delicious and easy to create.

    I was drawn to this delightful recipe (which comes via Woof Nanny's Flickr stream) and wanted to share it with you all because the moment I spied it, my mind rushed to thoughts of what a perfect cake it would be for Easter (which is just around the corner!).

    Whether you bake this lovely vintage cake for the mister in your life, yourself, a friend, or a whole crowd, its pretty decorating job and classic flavours are sure to please anyone - man or woman - at your table! :)

    Bon appétit!

    April 12, 2011

    A great 1950s example of decorating a dual purpose room

    Day 102 of Vintage 365

    While definitely vividly hued and inviting, there's nothing (save perhaps for those cheerful candy cane-esque chairs) that really sets this living-slash-dinning room from 1955 apart from what many similar rooms of the era looked like, and that is precisely why I like it.

    This modest sized corner looks homey and cosy. It's lived in and filled with various decor elements, but stops effectively short of being needlessly busy. Instead of being a grandly designed living room or dining room all on its own, this dual purpose room is one that many apartment, condo, and small house owners are very familiar with: the joint dining and living room (in fact, I'm sitting in exactly such as room in my apartment as I type this post).

    It can be a challenge to furnish and attractively decorate such a room, as you need to serve at least two functions yet not have it seem either under or over designed. In my humble abode we use the back of the couch as a natural divider between the dinning area (with it's lovely mahogany wood table and chairs) and the living area, which houses the TV, couch, love seat, coffee table and a pretty dark burgundy hued rug (that matches that curtains running across the windows on both halves of the room).

    As my husband is keen on pointing out, there isn't a lot of space in this part of the house, however we both agree it doesn't seem cluttered at all (in fact, I think it could use with a few more adornments, but I'm equally content with how it is for the time being) - and I get that same feeling when I look at this cheery 1950s Modern Living Room (which hails from Miss Retro Modern's enjoyable Flickr stream), with it's punchy bursts of lipstick red, cool snowflake white, and creamy pea soup green rugs and sofa.

    This strikes me as a young person or couple's room, created as many are with an array of different practical items (table and chairs, shelves, seating, etc) that don't clash, yet also don't seem as though they were purposely purchased to all match perfectly.

    They're real and honest. Exactly the sort of pieces and colours I'd imagine many younger folks of the era adorning their homes proudly with - and which still serve as home decor inspiration for people of all ages and house size today.

    April 11, 2011

    Stay in shape vintage style with the Jell-O Girl

    Day 101 of Vintage 365


    Long before Jane Fonda, Suzanne Somers or Chuck Norris had workout videos on the market (or long before, for that matter, video tapes even existed!), Jell-O brand gelatine's utterly adorable little bobbed haired, rosy checked girl was telling the viewing public how to stay in shape.

    First introduced in 1902, the real life Jell-O lass was called Elizabeth King, and she appeared in numerous ads for the company during the early days of the 20th century. As time went on and Elizabeth grew up, she was more often portrayed as an illustrated character who very much resembled many children of the day, and instantly won a place in the hearts of dessert loving folks everywhere.


    Of all the ads I've seen featuring the Jell-O Girl, I think that this delightful guide to doing simple, healthful stretches is perhaps my favourite. I love the juxtaposition of pairing a sugary dessert with working out and trying to stay fit.

    The two make for unlikely bedfellows, yet somehow they jive here - setting as well as a properly prepared mould full of quivering, sweet gelatine. It's as though the Jell-O Girl is saying that if you follow her advise and do these 12 easy stretching exercises, you'll be able to keep from putting on any extra jiggle care of the very product she's representing.

    In this timelessly lovely vintage Jell-O ad from the 1920s (which comes via Edible Creations on Flickr), the focus in in fact in no way on gelatine itself, but instead on Jell-O Girl and her apparent desire to help eaters of her brand's scrumptious treats stay fit and trim.

    It's charming ad that can't help but make you smile, and perhaps rather effectively, still manages to put the word "Jell-O" in your mind and, as I no doubt imagine the company's execs intended all along, on your shopping list - after all, you've got these wonderful Jell-O Girl exercises to help counterbalance those pesky dessert calories. Smile

    April 10, 2011

    This delightful Needle & Thread toiletries bag is sure to appeal to vintage sewers everywhere!

    Day 100 of Vintage 365


    Oh vintage sewing patterns, how I love you. With your frame-worthy pattern sleeve art, possibility to create stunning yesteryear styles, and wildly beautiful vintage appeal, it's little wonder I continually swoon over, and lovingly collect, you (despite not owning a sewing machine of my own at the moment!).

    There is much to be said in favour of vintage sewing patterns - whether you're a sewer or not. It's downright enthralling to look at an old school pattern from the 30s, 40s or 50s and imagine how many women sewed their own version of a given garment.

    I love daydreaming about what the inside of a sewing goods store looked like 65 years (oh, wouldn't you give your favourite vintage heels to go back in time and spend an afternoon buying oodles of fabric, notions, and patterns at such a shop?), and about the people who flocked there to pick up patterns, swap sewing tips, and chat about life in general.

    There's something almost poetically romantic about the splendidly nostalgic qualities of vintage sewing patterns, and I love when images of these ageless DIY mainstays pop up in unexpected places - such as on this wonderfully fun toiletries wash bag from (the marvelous line) Designer Disasters.


    Featuring the line's new "Needle & Thread" pattern (which highlights images from classic Simplicity sewing patterns), this lovely vintage inspired toiletries bag is made from wipe-clean PU, is fully lined with waterproof material, has a zipper running along the top, and measures in at 28cm x 22cm (making it the ideal size for all kinds of little must-take toiletry products one needs while traveling).

    If you don't need a new wash bag, however, this cheerful pouch (which is available from UK seller Aspire Style for £22.99) could very easily work as well (and rather fittingly!) as a place to store various sewing notions, craft supplies, accessories (think hair clips or vintage bangles), make-up, ephemera from your travels, receipts, handwritten notes, photographs, coupons, small notebooks, or just about anything else that you can squeeze into 11 by 8.5 inches worth of space.

    You could of course, also use it simply as a decorative piece (perhaps filled with tissue to paper to help give it the shape of a decorative pillow) with which to celebrate your love of vintage sewing patterns!