November 29, 2012

A few thoughts on the very human act of wanting

In a scene I suspect many of us have taken part in time and time again, I sat there staring at the computer screen not too long ago, debating whether or not to buy something - a timelessly classic dark yellow and forest green plaid dress with a sweeping circle skirt, to be exact.

Like most, I'm careful with how I spend and what I buy, but no matter how responsible one is with money, that's nothing to prevent them from having a wish list a mile long and constantly running into wonderful items that tempt their hearts and wallets.

As I gazed at the online page before me, a mellow early evening light brewing outside and trickling softly through the blinds, I began to think about some of the other items I wanted, and of ones long past that I missed out on. My mind also focused on those I'd taken the plunge on - or which had been spur of the moment buys. Beyond that, I paused to reflect on what I wanted that could not be bought, those things that only time and circumstance can deliver.

Before I knew it, a good ten minutes had passed, and were it not for the kitty darting about in a beam of that golden sunlight that jolted my focus, I might have continued on, digging deeper and deeper into my psyche and the very human desire to continually want certain things for a good deal longer.

There have been many theories put forth over time regarding why we want (want, in this instance, being used to describe something that we wish to see happen or to obtain, but which, strictly speaking, is not a necessary need or element of basic survival), and it is a point I've pondered on far more days than the one described above.

On the one hand it might make life easier if we wanted for nothing (at least on our bankrolls), but I suspect that it would be a somewhat odd, almost animalistic existence, for there is a certain sense of adventure, beauty, and thrill that lies in wanting something - especially if we desire it deeply.

Few amongst us will ever have the ability to snap up everything we want as the whim for an item or experience arises - even the ultra rich have to limit their spending somewhere if they're to retain their grand fortune for long. Having never been fabulously wealthy myself, I can't say as though this is a problem I've encountered, but should it ever crop up, I'll be sure to report back on what it feels like.

No, like the bulk of us, the material wants in my life have far exceeded the reality of what I bought or were given, and that's completely fine - normal, perhaps one might even go so far as to say "right". I was the polar opposite of a spoiled child and I'm grateful for that. Nothing has ever been handed to me on a silver platter, and, I like to believe, that fact has helped me appreciate the things I have been able to obtain - be they large or small - all the more, quite often because I had to work for days, weeks or even months before they were able to come to fruition.

Though, ultimately I don't consider myself an overly materialistic person (having had to part, for various reasons, with nearly all of my worldly goods on three separate occasions, I'm not one to get madly attached to my belongings, nor to build up too extravagant a collection of them), I have no qualms with readily admitting that I enjoy, budget permitting, shopping and acquiring new items.

I also love the feeling of working and saving for something that isn't within your reach the moment you first come across it. Once, in decades not too long past, many items were purchased on layaway plans (which, by and large, are not overly common any more), but online shopping - and much real world shopping now, too - rarely presents us with that option. Instead we must make choices quickly (especially if dealing with a vintage item that might be very hard, if not impossible, to find an exact duplicate of ever again) and, hopefully, decisively.

By the same token, I like - as most of us do - the feeling of knowing that there's something lovely and wonderful waiting for you on the horizon, be it in terms of when you'll be able to obtain or experience whatever it is you're yearning for, or when it arrives at (potentially) long last. Looking forward to something new and exciting can help make the daily grind considerably more bearable, and - I find at least - that the eagerness that comes with waiting can help keep me in a cheerful mood (as just thinking about said item makes me happy).

Buy, pass, save for (if possible), or add to a wish list, be it real or figurative - perhaps to receive as a gift one day. More often than not though, especially when dealing with sites such as etsy and eBay, it's the first two options that surface. You can favourite a piece or add it to a wish list, but timed auctions wrap up in a matter of days and etsy (and Buy It Now listings on eBay) can be snatched up at absolutely any moment. Knowing this compounds the pressure that one feels to make a timely decision - and the one that we hope will be the right choice.

Not every purchase need bring about such cause for thought and debate, of course, but most of us face this "do I, don't?" predicament on a relatively frequent basis, especially if we truly adore an item, but are watching our spending carefully.

Ultimately only you know if it's wise or not to buy right then and there, and if you'll likely regret it in the long run if you do not (as I'm sure you have as well, there are a few items that "got away" over the years, which I'll always wish I could have snapped up, but there are many too that I was able to buy and which have brought me great joy ever since).

Vintage yellow and green plaid circle skirt dress

And so we come back to the dress (pictured - in the etsy seller's photo - above) that launched this whole chain of thoughts on the topic of desire and spurred the creation of this post. For surely inquiring minds want to know, did I buy it?

Yes, my dears, I did indeed, as I knew that doing so wouldn't break the bank in that moment and the dress filled a void (I'd been hunting for a yellow vintage frock for months in a shade that would work with my colouring) in my wardrobe, while bringing me a lovely moment of happiness and contentment once I'd made up my mind to go ahead and call it my own.

Now to find a matching dark yellow vintage hat and begin the the whole process anew. Smile

November 27, 2012

Elvis has left the Tilt-A-Whirl

Once, or at most, twice a year a traveling midway comes to Penticton, setting up shop either in the community centre parking lot or down by the Lakeside Hotel at the east end of Okanagan Lake.

On the toasty summer evening when went to visit earlier this year, it  was at the community centre, which to my mind is the most traditional of the two, and where I've been heading down to the fair here ever since I was a little girl (as a child it was within walking distance of our house and right across the street from my elementary school).

{Me in front of the Sugar Shack at last summer's traveling fair. Image snapped with Tony’s iPhone.}

As we stood in line for the Tilt-a-Whirl, the ride operator (perhaps picking up on the vintage vibe of my outfit) starting telling Tony and I a story about how once, many years ago, while filming a movie in Vancouver, Elvis Presley had spent time enjoying this very same ride.

Though I couldn't help being a tad sceptical, I eagerly went along with the fellow's tale and asked if we could sit in the same seat that Elvis had (after all, it's not every day here in Canada that one gets to come in direct contact with something the that King of Rock and Roll himself might once have touched!).

The operator was happy to oblige and so for about the next five minutes, we spun around and around happily, the sizzling July sun streaming over our faces, as my mind wondered constantly if I really was whipping through the air in the same spot that Elvis once occupied.

Later that evening when I got home, I did a bit of Googling to see if I could find out anything about an Elvis film being shot in Vancouver, but didn't unearth anything and so filled the experience away in my memory. Then a few weeks later, in the comment section of this post, a lovely reader (who goes by the username pigsmightfly) and I got into a discussion about Elvis (she's an Elvis fan club member) and I relayed my story from the fair.

She quickly wrote back and shared with me the fact that on August 31st, 1957, Elvis has held a concert and press conference at the Empire Stadium in Vancouver after completing the movie Jailhouse Rock, and shared this link all about Mr. Presley's time spent in British Columbia that year.

{Norm Pringle of CDKA Radio, Elvis and Elsie Pringle at the press conference Mr. Presley gave in Vancouver on August 31, 1957. Image source - which even includes an audio recording of Elvis from this conference.}

While the article doesn't specifically mention The King attending a midway, it certainly does place him in Vancouver (though, not to film a movie, as the operator had said, but rather to promote Jail House Rock), and - if we assume that the Tilt-a-Whirl Tony and I were on is at least fifty-eight years old (it very well could be, quality carnival rides, if well maintained, can last for decades), then the ride operator might really have been telling the truth: Elvis and I may have shared the same seat (pictured below).

We may never know for sure, but I rather adore the idea and have no qualms with telling people that, on a warm, gorgeous summer's evening one July, I got to sit in the same carnival ride seat that Elvis may very well have enjoyed himself nearly sixty years ago.

November 25, 2012

10 per decade: 1910s

(This post is the second in an ongoing series in which ten notable highlights of each decade of the twentieth century are profiled. The first post about the 1900s appeared back in October of 2009, so it’s definitely time for another edition of 10 per decade!)

The 1910s were a decade that saw suffering on previously unthinkable levels for those nations involved with WW1. Sombre as the night is dark and fraught with heartache, much of this decade was enshrined with worry, grief, suffering and loss of life – due not only to the outbreak of a massive and hugely destructive conflict – but also because of devastating events such as the Armenian Genocide, Spanish Flu Pandemic, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, and sinking of the Titanic.

Few decades have held as much suspense, strife and heartbreak (not to mention politic revolution) as the 1910s. Yet, even in the face of staggering worldwide hardship and loss, a truly extraordinary array of vitally important milestones, breakthroughs, inventions and political events transpired which would go onto forever alter the course of human history.

As outdated misogynistic views slowly began to fall away, female suffragists from many nations (such as Canada, Netherlands, Russia, and Australia) finally had their battle cries answered when they received the right to vote (others still would have to wait until the 1920s or beyond before they could stand in line alongside men in order to cast their vote).

Not everything that transpired during these all-too-often solemn years was shrouded in grave seriousness though. This was the decade that gave rise to a mass exodus away from the wearing of corsets, as women were finally able to breathe again (well, at least a whole lot more easily) for the first time in many decades – though their ability to walk at a decent pace was briefly halted when hobble skirts came into vogue. Looser garments, varying lengths of hemlines, soft fabrics, high heels, wide brimmed hats, opulent styles, lithe silhouettes, Asian influences, Parisian Couture, monochromatic looks, and shorter haircuts for women were just some of the fashion hallmarks of this period.

Discoveries abounded in during this ten year span, from Ernest Rutherford’s unearthing of the structure of the atom to Henry Ford’s invention of the automobile assembly line, Harry Brearly’s creation of stainless steel to Einstein’s theory of General Relativity.

The second decade of the 20th century gave rise to many delightfully one-of-a-kind characters, from Charlie Chaplin to Man Ray, Theda Bara to Luisa Casati. These were years during which Freud held court over the world of psychiatry, Zane Grey novels begin to capture the hearts of wild west fans, George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion sets the stage for its later film interpretation My Fair Lady, and the first American coast-to-coast long distance telephone call took place (fittingly, it was placed by Alexander Graham Bell).


The moment one thinks of the words magician or escape artist, it's a safe bet to say that Harry Houdini's name is that first springs to mind - and for good reason. Though Houdini certainly did not invent either of these forms of enthralling entertainment, he excelled at carrying them out so well that he often left his audiences wondering if he didn't in fact posses supernatural powers.

While Houdini preformed between the years of 1891 and his untimely passing (the circumstances of which have always had an air of mystery them) in 1926, it was one particular act, his Chinese Water Torture Cell (for which he was hang upside-down inside of a well locked steel and glass cabinet filled to the brim with water), introduced in 1912, that truly helped to cemente his name in the history books and help turn him into a larger than life figure.

Many escape artists and magicians have come and gone since Houdini's time, and while a number have achieved fame in their own right, there has yet to be anyone quite as impressive or legendary than the great Harry Houdini himself.

{Crossword puzzle debuts in America}

Though I'm the first to admit, much as I adore many different types of word games, I've never been overly into crosswords. That said, I have certainly done a few in my time, and very much admire those who excel at this classic word puzzle. Today it's hard to imagine any sizeable newspaper lacking a crossword, this beloved head scratcher isn't actually as old as you might think.

The first (known) example of a crossword puzzle appeared in an Italian magazine in 1890, though it would be another couple of decades before the English speaking world got a chance to try their hand - and their pencils (or pens, for the extra confidant) - at this delightful pastime. Crossword puzzles first started springing up in British publications in the 1910s and quickly spread across the pond to to America and beyond.

Though crossword puzzles had some harsh early critics, many of whom protested that they were a massive waste of time (ohhhh, those glorious pre-internet days), they had far more fans, and in the decades that have followed millions of these challenging, entertaining puzzles have been published and attempted by cruciverbalists the world over.

{Pulitzer prize established}

The dream of countless writers, and lucky award for a select few, the Pulitzer Prize was founded in 1917, initially using funds ($250,000) left specifically for Columbia University to create a journalism school and establish an industry wide prize for journalists everywhere, by newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer.

Under the terms Pulitzer laid out, there were to be four awards handed out annually: one in each is journalism, education, letters and drama, and four traveling scholarships (today Pulitzer prizes are awarded in 21 different categories).

Since its inception nearly 100 years ago, the Pulitzer Prize has remained one of the top honours a writer or journalist (be they a writer or a photographer) can receive, with past recipients including such distinguished names as Eugene O'Neill, Robert Frost, Edward Albee, William Faulkner, John Updike, and Norman Mailer.


Having gained momentum and popularity in in the later half of the Victorian era and into the Edwardian/Belle Epoque years as an avant-garde style, the Expressionist movement was centered around a desire that was held by many artists of the time to express personal meaning or emotional experience, instead of (merely) just a stark physical reality.

Initially popular amongst artists and poets, as the years rolled on, Expressionism spread to other corners of the creative world, too, including literature, film, dance, theaters, music, and architecture. As with most artistic movements, Expressionism can be challenging to neatly summarize or pin down, encompassing a vast array of mediums and individuals, with painters Edvard Munch and Vincent van Gogh often seen as two of the most important figures in the movement.

The 1910s are often considered to be the heyday of the the Expressionist movement, as the world shifted away from the staunchness of the Victorian period and towards the less repressed, creativity fuelled years of the 1920s.


Perhaps the most famous fictitious feral person the world has ever known, Tarzan, the beloved jungle inhabiting, vine swinging, Jane obsessed wild man has been a part of popular culture for 100 years now, having first appeared the pulp magazine All-Story Magazine in 1912.

The creation of author Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan was a British born lad who ended up being raised by apes after he was marooned with his parents (both of whom died while he was young) off the Atlantic coast of the continent. He grew up in the dense wilds of the African jungle, later encountering civilization again - one inhabitant of which, Jane Porter, he falls madly in love with. Though Tarzan ended up leaving his jungle home for a while to reside in England with Jane, the two eventually return and lived out their days in the place Tarzan views as his homeland.

The tale found favour with many readers of all ages and the first Tarzan movie hit the big screens in 1918, with nearly 90 more following in the years since (those the 1930s are amongst the most popular and usually included Tarzan's pet chimpanzee, Cheetah). To this day Tarzan remains a beloved character, who I suspect, we'll continue to visit at the theaters for a long time to come.

{Raggedy Anne}

Today she stands (or perhaps, more accurately, sits in a cute, slightly slouched over position) as one of the most iconic childhood toys, introduced to the world in a book of the same name in 1918. Raggedy Anne, that floppy bodied, redheaded sweetheart was the creation of American writer Johnny Gruelle, who combined elements from the titles of two poems ( "The Raggedy Man" and "Little Orphant Annie") to name handmade rag doll that his young daughter brought him.

This simple childhood toy inspired Gruelle to write both Raggedy Anne and Raggedy Andy (who appeared in 1920), and dolls were put out to accompany the stories pretty much from the get-go. Now nearly a century later, both characters remain treasured symbols of many peoples' youth and are still available in print and doll form for new parents to carry on the Raggedy Anne and Andy tradition with their own children.

{Modern bra invented}

While a garment (or piece of material) that supports a woman's breasts is by no means a twentieth century invention, the modern brassiere as we know it today is largely believed to have emerged on the scene during the 1910s when a New York socialite named Mary Phelps Jacob is credited with creating the first triangular cup bra. To do she sewed two handkerchiefs and some pink ribbon together to create a less bulky undergarment (than a corset) to wear under a sheer evening gown.

Mary's invention proved popular with friends and family, and soon the demand for her bras was so high that she started a company called Caresse Crosby and patented her design. She didn't stay in business for long though, selling her company to the undergarment manufacturer Warners for a mere $1,500.

In the coming years and decades large companies like Warner and individuals alike continued to improve the design of the bra, later creating alphabetized cup sizes, adjustable hook and eye bands, and underwire support (all of which helped create the iconic bullet bra styles of the 1950s that we, as vintage fashionistas, still adore to this day).

{Life Saver candies introduced}


Ever since I was a little girl, Lifesavers candies have been amongst my very favourite sweets (I have fond memories of waiting for a five and dime store in a neighbouring town to hold sales every couple of months when I was little, because it meant that my siblings and I could stock up on Lifesavers at the princely price of four packages for a dollar). I like that, for all the various flavours they've come in over the years, Lifesavers have always struck me as a such a humble, unassuming candy. One simply chooses a flavour, pops the sweet in their mouth and enjoys the satisfaction that comes from seeing how long you can make it last (or biting right into it, whichever you prefer).

Lifesavers made their debut in 1912, when confectionary maker Clarence Crane created a candy that could withstand the sweltering summer head better than chocolate. Crane wasn't the first to invent a hard sucking candy, but he may very well have been the first to whip up one with a hole in the middle.

Pep-O-Mint was the first Lifesavers flavour, but several others (including violet) quickly appeared on the scene and scores of others have followed in the decades to come. To this day, much as when I was a youngster, cherry and butterscotch remain my favourite Lifesavers flavours - how about you?

{Lt. Colonel John McCrae writes In
Flanders Fields}

In the thick of World War 1, having just presided over the funeral of a friend and fellow soldier, Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae was inspired to pen one of the most touching and endearing war poems of all time: In Flanders Fields.

Though tragically McCrae passed away while still commending his unit in 1918, his gripping, soulful poem and the legacy of wearing a poppy in honour of those who have served and fallen in battle remain an integral part of Remembrance Day ceremonies and celebrations to this day.

{Invention of the zipper}

Right up there, in my mind, with other great twentieth century inventions such as sliced bread and scotch tape that helped make everyday life easier, the zipper revolutionized the the garment industry and forever changed how we fastened our clothing.

The idea of a device that resembled a zipper had been around for at least a few decades prior, but it wasn't until 1917 that the Gideon Sundbäck company perfected the design and created what we'd now view today as something on par with our modern zippers.

This handy metal (later made from other materials, too, chiefly plastic) fastener gained popularity quite quickly and was employed with much success by garment and luggage manufactures in the years and decades to come, to the point where it's hard to imagine (much as I love buttons) a world without handy-dandy zippers in it.

{To learn more about an image, or any of the topics covered here, please click on an image to be taken to its respective source.}

If the 1910s were a colour, I think it’s a safe bet to say that they would be grey – yet, amongst the dark gloom, the twinkle and sparkle of diamonds could also be seen, as the world witnessed the first movie stars emerge, radio catch on like wildfire, and as the decade drew to a close, the prospect of hope clawed its way out from the carnage of the past ten years.

On the horizon lay the wild, eccentric, madcap years of the 1920s, a time of liberated freedoms, the rise of youth culture on a widespread level before which the world had never known, and imaginative new takes on art via such movements as Surrealism and Art Deco.

Next up in this continuing look at each decade of the last century, I’ll delve into covering these zany, exciting, fun filled years and ten of the events, culture icons and highlights of the roaring 20s – a time when being young was more fun than ever, jazz music exploded in popularity, and bobbed haircuts were to be seen just about everywhere one looked.

November 23, 2012

Flickr Favourites: November 23, 2012

{November Cat ~ Arkadious}

{November Mix ~ matthew stephen edwards}

{Dvine Dahlia in Sephia ~ Deborah S-C}

{November 2, 2011 ~ Flood}

{November 1939 Fashion ~ christine592}

{Pheasant ~ Bird Photographer}

{November Rose ~ donsutherland1}

{Sepia squirrel ~ Grandma Tina}

{reflecting ~ Flood}

{Vintage Bike ~ canadianandrew}

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

♥ ♥ ♥

Depending on whereabouts you live in the Western hemisphere, this point in the month might mean that you're still enjoying the last few enchantingly beautiful days of amber hued light and freshly picked autumn fruits and vegetables, or that you're already knee deep in a mini mountain of snow.

For many reality lies somewhere between the two. The days are neither sun-kissed now snow-covered, instead they're soft grey, mousy brown and nippy, as the sense that winter is fast approaching grows stronger which each pale sunset and frosty morning.

As a child I recall November often feeling like a long month. My beloved Halloween had come and gone and I knew it would be another twelve month stretch until it returned. At the same time, I was eager for Christmas, which seemed eons away when viewed through the eyes of youth. November meant heavy coats, snow boots, the sombreness of Remembrance Day, turning on the indoor heating again, and secretly starting to compose my little Christmas wish list in my head.

All of those points still ring true today, though I now view the countdown to Christmas as being far too short for everything I need to get done in time (no matter how early in the year I start). I've never disliked November the way some people (understandably) do, and in fact, the older I get, the more I've come to appreciate and enjoy it.

November is the last full month of autumn; its day may be short on sunlight, but they often still include signs of the vitality and beauty of the earlier months of the year. A few verdant blades of grass poking out between the faded yellow ones, a violet hued wildflower clinging for dear life to the side of the road, or an apple still swaying on the branch remind one that November is like the great divided between the sizzling and freezing halves of the year (well, at least here in Canada).

It's a serene month (if we brush aside thoughts of holiday prep work), and one that I've always adored taking lengthy walks in. I know that very soon the mercury will plummet far below freezing for the next few months and thus long walks (on slippery snow encrusted paths and sidewalks) will become a rarity until the first days of spring immerge once more.

November is quiet and strong, unassuming yet far from passive. It brings with it a certain nobility and elegance, and its palette - though less jaunty than that of September and October - is soulfully beautiful, endearing itself to my heart year after icy wind kissed year.

November 21, 2012

How to have fun with fresh cranberry sauce

According to a cute 1947 illustrated recipe ad from Eatmor Cranberries (don’t you just love that name?), the secret to having a blast with this tart, juicy, crimson hued fruit it to whip up their speedy, scrumptious Ten Minute Cranberry Sauce recipe.

I'm not one to argue there, given that a mere three ingredients and just 1/6th of an hour are required to bring flavourful homemade cranberry sauce to the table.

While those of us here in Canada tucked into our roast turkey, mashed potatoes, and mountains of fluffy stuffing last month, the fine folks south of the 49th are gearing up to celebrate Thanksgiving Day tomorrow, which is why this morning seemed like the ideal time to share this festive vintage recipe with you.

If you've already made, bought, or otherwise have plans for Thursday's cranberry sauce, fear not, this ultra simple recipe (which I've made, and can attest is a gem - I added a little mandarin orange zest towards the end of cooking for an extra hit of flavour, which is similar to the suggestion in the recipe itself for the addition of tangerines) is wonderful to have on hand for Christmas, next Thanksgiving, or any time you're in the mood for some homemade cranberry sauce.

Vintage recipe for ten minute cranberry sauce, Thanksgiving recipe

{Whether you try one of the spins suggested above or stick with the three ingredient classic, this lovely cranberry sauce recipe is the kind of classic that will always remain a beloved holiday favourite. Image via Charm and Poise on Flickr.}

I think the suggestions provided here on how to further jazz up this sauce are terrific. I’d never thought of putting bananas in cranberry sauce, but now I'm wildly curious to know if this combination works or it it's as eyebrow raising as I suspect. Mint is always lovely with cranberries, especially if you plan on serving this sauce as an accompaniment to lamb.

Almonds are great here, as is the addition of a little almond extract, or if you're not an almond person, then pistachios or even shelled pumpkin seeds for a pleasant hit of crunch. I adore pears and cranberries and think that's my favourite of the add-in ideas they offer.

Celery is a good addition, though if you were heavy handed with it in your stuffing or elsewhere, you may want to forgo using celery in your cranberry sauce. If you're more of an apple person, then you could certainly use those instead of pears, too (I'd go with a somewhat sweet apple, such as Fuji or Red Delicious to help offset the tangy tartness of the berries).

I certainly know how busy the day before Thanksgiving can be, so I'll wrap this fun little 1940s recipe post up here for now, but not before I wish each and every one of you who will be celebrating it tomorrow, a deeply, serenely beautiful Thanksgiving Day tomorrow. Having online friends like you is a blessing I count every time we sit down to Thanksgiving dinner at my house.

November 19, 2012

A special holiday calls for a special vintage dress

Outfit details

White hair flower: Arden
Prescription eyeglasses: (frames) Venus Eye Design V-12
Semi-precious stone and Czech glass bead butterfly cameo necklace: Handmade by me
Grey shrug: Fairweather
1950s dusty peach lace dress: etsy seller The Church of Vintage
1940s/50s grey rouched gloves: eBay
Pink plastic beaded stretch bracelets: Forever 21
Faux pearl stretch bracelet: Real Canadian Superstore
Brown faux alligator purse: Le Chateau
Nude seamed stockings: eBay
Dark brown faux alligator heels: Pipsqueaks and Damsels Consignment Store 
Lip colour: MAC Diva 

Photography by Antonio Cangiano

♥ ♥ ♥

Last month, here in the wild of Canada (as I lovingly like to refer to just about everywhere that isn't a major city), the country celebrated Thanksgiving. Our canuck take on the event is extremely similar to that of our US neighbours and involves oodles of delicious eats, family get-togethers, pumpkin filled decor, and time spent reflecting on the blessings in our lives.

This particular Thanksgiving was immensely important to me because it was the first time that Tony and I had been able to spend it with my some of my relatives (as, prior to this, we'd been living thousands of miles apart). The small group that gathered that evening at my parents house to share a meal that my mom and I each prepared dishes for (I brought the gluten-free stuffing and dessert, plus the black olives and gherkins - both "musts" for me at any Thanksgiving spread), consisted of Tony and I, my mom and step-dad, and my sister (plus, her ultra cute dog, Beau, who you may recall from this post last summer).

Though our numbers were small, the festive spirit we all shared that night was huge and there wasn't anything lacking, be it a second helping of spuds and gravy or a warm smile from whomever was sitting across from you at the table (which you can see in the photo below - decorated by my wonderful mom).

I've always loved dressing up for the holidays and knew that I wanted to wear something extra special for this joyous celebration. I gave my choice a lot of thought, but even on the day itself, I still wasn't sure and tried on about six other dresses in my closet before settling on this beloved vintage dusty peach lace frock. The colour seemed so well suited to the palette of fall, the waist  on it isn't very tight at all (so I knew there's be no risk of feeling uncomfortable after a big meal), and the aged lace seemed to speak for the timeless beauty of Thanksgiving itself.

Though I adore lace madly, it really struck me that particular day how very little of it I have in my closet at the moment, which makes this dress all the more important to me. I wanted the emphasis of the outfit to be on the frock itself, but as it wasn't an overly warm day, vintage ruched gloves, a much loved grey shrug, and a necklace that I made earlier this year helped round out the ensemble.

My enthusiasm for donning fancier threads come holiday time is shared by Tony as well, who looked mighty sharp in his dark grey blazer, black shirt, and handsome grey and black stripped tie (my sis snapped the photo here of me and Tony with Tony's camera). I loved that though we didn't set out to match our outfits, the grey in both helped them to coordinate so nicely.

I can honestly say that this was one of the most serenely relaxing, wonderful Thanksgivings I've ever celebrated, and it's a day that will standout as one of the nicest of the whole year for me.

I hope that as my lovely readers in the States gear up for your own celebration later this week, you each have an equally marvelous Thanksgiving, and that life always gives you more blessings and reasons to be thankful than you can possibly count.

November 17, 2012

Summer wardrobe vs winter wardrobe

For years I maintained that my favourite time of the year to dress for was the colder months that make up autumn and winter. At the time, I had more cold weather appropriate clothes than those suited to warmer temps hanging in my closet and so this opinion was only natural. Over the past year or so however, a shift has occurred (thanks in large part to successfully filling in some of the glaring gaps in my wardrobe that I chatted about back at in January) and the balance now veers more towards spring and summer.

I'm not bothered by this shifting of the scales, I just find it fascinating, as it may very well be the first time (at least in my adult life) that such has ever occurred. Beyond the garments themselves, I catch myself thinking about how, as winter's wrath looms ever nearer, it will soon be bitingly cold and fearfully snowy once again, which means that more vintage outfit posts will need to be snapped indoors (or in outdoor locations that are sheltered from the elements - though, lest you just want to see my winter coat time and time again, indoor posts will become a must).

Lovely 1947 cover of Town and Country magazine, Chronically Vintage

{The November-y vibe of this beautifully illustrated autumn 1947 cover of Town and Country magazine looks a lot like the view outside my window right now, and is what got me thinking about the topic of today's post. Image via mikeyashworth on Flickr.}

While I have a lovely collection of summer dresses, skirts, and even a few more pairs of shoes than I started 2012 off with, I won't be running around town in the same outfit all fall and winter. My beloved cardigan and lightweight knit collection is a cornerstone of my wardrobe that comes into play no matter the season, and of course staples like my Freddie's jeans and overalls, as well as my heavier weight skirts, blazers, and dresses are already springing back into action.

So the question becomes, which half of the year (because, let's face it, the old joke about their only being three seasons in Canada - winter, summer, and hockey - rings true more often than not) is my favourite to dress for these days?

Truth be told, I'm not sure. I think that I'll be better able to answer that question when spring 2013 rolls around and I've had a winter of putting together outfits with my current, expanded wardrobe under my vintage belt. I see the pros and cons of each, and have reasons why I adore each one.

Summer means sheer stockings or bare legs, toes poking out of cute wedge heels, feather light fabrics, crisp white blouses, and hair that never needs to worry about being squashed by a hood or toque.

Winter on the other hand however, brings with it the return of sumptuous, tactilely pleasing fabrics like velvet, suede, and cashmere. It never bats an eye when you but a cardigan over a blouse over a cami, tucking the trio into a wool pencil skirt after you slip into an opaque pair of tights. It's cosy and familiar, and in some ways easier to dress for if you're not one (and I'm certainly not) who likes to flash an abundance of skin.

Ultimately I see it less as a question of summer vs winter and more about the enjoyable challenge of making as many pieces in my closet work for as much of the year as possible, just as I know many of your stylish gals do, too.

Though, I'm sure, come the end of February I'll be champing at the bit to slip into a short sleeve, super airy cotton dress and little more once again, for the time being, I'm utterly content that fall/winter is here and am genuinely excited about dressing for the freezing cold season (must be the Canadian in me talking!).

Inquiring minds would love to know where you weigh in on this topic? What season, or half, of the year do you most like to dress for more, my dears?

November 15, 2012

Summer and fall 2012’s best vintage yard sale finds

Snow has fallen once more here on the tawny, sage brush covered hills of Penticton, the scorching heat and idyllic beauty of fall now just wonderful memories. We were blessed to experience an immensely lovely start of autumn, with this September being one of the most gorgeous (and sunshine filled) I can ever recall experiencing throughout my life. As a result of the ongoing sunshine, yard sale season remained in full swing well into October, and in turn I got out on as many weekends as my health would permit.

Each week my mom and I would say something to each other along the lines of, "Well, this could be the last garage sale day of the year", but then the weather would remain pleasant for another week and we'd be up and at 'em first thing in the morning the following Saturday.

All good things must come to an end at some point though, and snow is usually the quickest way to quash yard sales up here in Canada, so when the first flakes began tumbling down in late October, we knew the year really had to come to end (baring any indoor swap meets/church bazaars that may transpire between now and next spring).

I had mixed luck on the vintage front over the summer and fall of 2012. Some weekends yielded up little to nothing, while at others I had to refrain for the sake of my budget from purchasing everything that caught my eye. Though (save for the pieces in this post) I didn't spy any mid-century clothing or accessories at any of the dozens of sales we hit over the past few months, there were some fantastic vintage (and antique) treasures to be had amongst the endless piles of outgrown children's clothes, 70s microwave cookery books, and board games with half their pieces missing.

Much as with the lovely vintage pieces we unearthed last spring, now that the last of the autumn yard sales is behind us - and before the rush of the Christmas season gets completely under way - I wanted to share my favourite finds from the past few months with all of you. I hope you'll enjoy seeing this fun array of vintage pieces as much as I loved finding them.

 British Columbia a Centennial Anthology book from 1957, vintage history book

British Columbia a Centennial Anthology ~ $0.25: I have a major passion for Canadian history and Canadiana, and should either one happen to overlap with my passion for the past, all the better! This book, which was printed in 1957 to mark B.C.’s first centennial, is a good side tome dedicated to the history of the province’s early years, and is made all the more wonderful by the fact that it was written fifty-five years ago, when the memory of the 1800s was still alive in some peoples’ memories.

Vintage Edwardian Camp Fire Girls books

The Campfire Girls On The Farm & On The March books ~ $4.00 for the pair: My mom spotted these two books while we were at an excellent (perhaps, in terms of the sheer number of pre-1960s items, the best of the season) yard sale in September and brought them to my attention right away, as I collect some types of Girl Guide and Girl Scout memorabilia. Though these are in fact Camp Fire Girls (not Girl Guide or Scout) books, their charming covers, age (they’re both from 1914), and subject matter instantly made me fall for them (and now I can say that I have my first Camp Fire Girls items).

Vintage 1950s Christmas recipe booklets books

Trio of vintage Christmas recipe booklets ~ free: Every now and then while at a yard sale, someone will give you something for free, either as a gift with purchase or simply because you expressed interest in it. The later was the case for these three charming mid-century Christmas cookery booklets, which came from a friendly elderly gentleman early in the summer.

Vintage Aunt Martha's hot iron on transfers 3275 Nursery Rhymes

Aunt Martha’s Hot Iron Transfers 3275 Nursery Rhymes ~ $0.10: I've always enjoyed stitchery, but haven’t done very much of it in the past few years. Perhaps with the cold weather and indoor hibernation season upon us now, I’ll bust out the embroidery floss again and try making some of these cute nursery rhyme themed stitcheries this winter.

Retro vintage collection of thread and sewing notions

Storage container full of thread and a few sewing notions ~ $5.00: Though the green plastic storage container itself is broken and falling apart (I had to give its contents a new home), it was the wealth of thread inside that I bought it for. The threads here date, I believe, from the 1960s to 90s, with most being on the older side of that time frame. There’s easily thirty spools, many of which haven’t been used much, if  at all, and which I can put to use on all manner of paper and fabric craft projects.

Thread spool holder upright organizer sewing

Plastic thread holder racks ~ $1.00 for the pair: Remember the new home I mentioned giving the all that great thread pictured above? Well these racks (which aren’t vintage, but they do have a nice classic look to them), which – no joke – I found on the very same day a couple of hours after I scored the thread at a different yard sale – is it. Talk about serendipitous second hand shopping!

Framed print of Thomas Gainsborough's Georgiana Cavendish Duchess of Devonshire

Framed print of Thomas Gainsborough's Georgiana Cavendish Duchess of Devonshire ~ $2.00: I have a deeply rooted fondness for all things Georgian era, very much including the resplendent art that was created at the time, so when I spotted this little print of one of Gainsborough’s best known works, I knew it was destined to come home and hang on our living room wall.

Beautiful floral pattern cloisonne vintage bell ornament Christmas decoration

Decorative floral pattern cloisonné bell ~ $1.00: Though there’s nothing to instantly distinguish it as being vintage, in person this bell has a very classic feel and slight patina to it that make me feel it may be a few decades old. No matter its age though, I think it’s absolutely beautiful and will be including it as part of my holiday decor every year now.

An adorable vintage unicorn storage container

Adorable unicorn decorative container ~ $0.50: Much as with the bell above, there isn’t any marking, stickers, production dates, etc on this super cute unicorn box, but it has a somewhat vintage look and feel to it (the eyes, especially remind me of oodles of vintage animal figures from the 40s and 50s I’ve seen over the years). The glue around the pink feathers has yellowed a lot with age, but other than that it’s in very good shape, and even if it’s not vintage, I love it dearly.

Cute vintage plastic shunk tiny figurine toy kitsch

Tiny vintage skunk figurine ~ $0.25: Speaking of darling animals, how cute is wee little skunk that I found hiding in a box of old, dirty tools, of all places? Completely cute, if you ask me, which is why I had to rescue it and bring it home to live with me in my craft room.

Cute vintage plastic fawn deer figurine, kitsch

Vintage plastic fawn figurine ~ $0.10: At the same yard that the skunk came from, in a different mixed box, I spotted this precious little plastic deer poking its big ears and pretty blue outs at me. The paint is a bit chipped, but the piece is still in sound shape over all, and for a mere dime, how could I pass it up?

Vintage rubber Christmas reindeer decorations, cute kitsch

Pair of vintage rubber reindeer decorations ~ $0.50 for both: I love (!) vintage Christmas decorations, but own very few, so I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for more while out shopping and yard saling. These two deer were the only ones I found all summer (and fall) long, but that’s ok, they’re cute as a button and a great start for my budding vintage Christmas decor collection.

Vintage pink mother and baby elephant chain figurines photo mosaic

Vintage pink mother and baby elephant chain figurines ~ $3.00: If we were dishing out an award for the cutest yard sale find of the past few months, I think we’d have to bestow it on this terrifically darling pair of pink pachyderm. Found at a garage sale just a couple of houses down from an address I lived at for a few years as a youngster, this wonderfully kitschy piece stands out as one of my all-time favourite yard sale finds.

Tiny vintage Victorian Southern belle figurine, aqua dress and hat, kitsch

Tiny vintage Victorian Southern belle figurine ~ $0.10:  This little lass is so small, fitting easily into the palm of my hand. She’s very sweet and I just love the mint green hue of her lovely dress. She’s not marked, but I can’t help wondering if she was perhaps a free prize that came inside of the box of some product at one point, as her diminutive size really gives off a vibe of such.

Vintage blue floral teacup and saucer

Blue, white and black floral print teacup and saucer ~ $2.00: I’ve been on the hunt for some lovely vintage (or vintage appropriate) teacups and saucers to start a collection of all yard sale season long, but it wasn’t until a sale in October that I finally found two (the second one is pictured below) beautiful cups, in good shape (aka, un-chipped and complete with their matching saucers). I adore the unexpected hues and serene floral design of this charming set, don’t you? (If anyone should happen to know the pattern name, which is not indicated on the cup or saucer, of this pattern, please let me know.)

Vintage Royal Albert blue and white daisy teacup and saucer

Royal Albert aqua and white daisy teacup and saucer ~$2.00: Though the maker (Royal Albert) is indicated on the bottom of this set, the pattern name is not. If you happen to know, please share the name in the comments on this post. I love this cheerful, springtime perfect pattern and have already enjoyed several lovely cups of peppermint tea in over the past few weeks.

Vintage Pyrex glass hexagonal bottle

Vintage Pyrex glass baby bottle ~ $0.25: I’m always on the hunt for vintage Pyrex pieces while out yard saling (and thrifting), but I’m usually thinking about mixing boxes and casserole dishes, not baby bottles! I love a unique item though, so as soon as I saw this classic hexagon shaped Pyrex bottle, I pounced on it right away and am now using it as a bud vase.

Canadian vintage red rose tea tin (front)

Vintage Red Rose Tea tin ~ $3.50: Founded in 1894 in New Brunswick, the Red Rose Tea company is one of Canada’s oldest beverage company’s, so when I spotted this wonderful metal tin, I knew it had the potential to be quite old. There’s no date on it, and the paper label is a bit worn/beat up in some spots, but despite its delicate nature (the label’s, that is), it’s still is fairly good shape for something that I’d tentatively peg to be from the 1900s-1930s. It’s a nice sized rectangular tin that’s still in good shape inside, so I put it to use as a storage container (for scraps of lace) in my craft room.

Vintage spice tins (Nabob, Jameson, Empress)

Vintage Nabob, Jameson’s, and Empress spice tins ~ $3.50 for all five: At the very same yard sale when the Red Rose Tea tin came from, I found this little collection of vintage spice tins. Some still feel like they have spices in them, but of course I’ll just be using them as decorative pieces! (Ooooh, the Nabob ones all have recipes on the back, so I was thinking it would be fun to do a vintage recipe post featuring them in the future.)

Vintage Edwardian Pepsi Cola oval serving tray_image 1

Metal Edwardian Pepsi Cola serving tray ~ $5.00: I contemplated doing a post unto itself for this tray, but was so eager to share it with you, that I didn’t want to put off doing so any longer. As you can see, this tray is clearly damaged. It’s been bent in the middle, the paint is chipping, and it has definite signs of wear, however, it’s gorgeous and it comes with an interesting backstory.

According to the man that I purchased it from (who also happened to be the seller of the Red Rose Tea tin, the vintage spice tins, the Campfire Girls books, and the woven purse in this post), this vintage tray was purchased by a chap he knew at an auction some thirty years ago. That fellow, the seller told me, paid $650.00 for it at the time (and indeed, there is a faded old handwritten price tag on the back of it still with that price on it). I don’t know why, but the man didn’t take it with him that day, instead he arranged to have it shipped to him in the mail. En route however, it was damaged quite badly (“bent in half” was how the seller described it) and arrived in much the same state you see it in today.

The buyer filed a claim with the postal service got his money back, but for a long time he couldn’t bear to part with the tray, so he held onto it for many years before passing it along to his friend, the current seller, who he knew had a passion for antique and vintage collectibles. It was from that man that I bought this tray, with its gorgeous art nouveau design, getting the price down $2.00 from the $7.00 sticker price he’d been asking for it originally.

I know there are tons of fakes and reproductions when it comes to vintage Coke and Pepsi collectibles, but there’s virtually no doubt in my mind that this metal serving tray is from the Edwardian era. The construction, aged metal, design, even the paint texture all feel old to me. And so while this tray isn’t in perfect shape, and it certainly met with a tragic accident thanks to the postal system at one point, I’m grateful that both men held onto it and that it now gets to live the next leg of its life nestled – and much loved –  amongst other antique and vintage pieces at my house.

Vintage Dean Martain Everybody Loves Somebody record

Dean Martin Everybody Loves Somebody record ~ $0.50: As all my fellow yard sale goers know, there’s no shortage of old records out there, but these days it’s getting harder and harder to find ones from great classic artists for good prices. I love buying vintage records, but am very selective with what I purchase, and try to find ones from artists that I truly love and know I’ll play often. There’s no question that Dino falls into that category.

Vintage Frank Sinatra's Greatest Hits record

Frank Sinatra’s Greatest Hits ~ $0.75: Much like Dean, Ol’ Blue Eyes is another much loved vintage singer whose records I’m always on the prowl for. This best of compilation has a number of his top hits on it, and has already been in heavy rotation since I got it in July.

Vintage The Sound of Music soundtrack record

The Sound of Music soundtrack record ~ $0.50: The Sound of Music is my second favourite musical film of all-time (Grease takes top billing), and its soundtrack was amongst the first CD’s that I remember owning as a youngster, so there was no way I could pass up this great 1960s record.

Vintage Ward Allen Presents Maple Leaf Hoedown record, vintage Canadiana

Ward Allen Presents Maple Leaf Hoedown Volume II ~ $0.50: At the risk of contradicting what I said above about trying to stick with buying records from artists I know and adore, sometimes you spot something that is so cool and kitschy that you simply must add it to your collection even though you’ve never heard of the artist before. Loving all things vintage and Canadian as I do, there was no way I could leave this fun, toe-tapping record behind (and I’m so glad I didn’t, because it’s really lovely actually and filled with beautiful fiddle playing that reminds me so much of my late maternal grandfather who was an excellent fiddler).

Vintage Dennis Day Sings Christmas is for the Family record

Dennis Day Sings Christmas is for the Family record ~ $0.50: Much as with yesteryear holiday decorations, I have a passion for vintage Christmas music and am trying to build up my collection of it this year (and beyond). I love the expressions on the (large!) family’s faces on the cover of this record, plus the fact that it had an introduction from Jack Benny.

Vintage Christmas Songs and Carols Favourites record

Christmas Songs and Carols 24 Favourites ~ gift: My sweet mom picked up this record for me one Saturday when I wasn’t feeling well enough to hit the yard sale circuit myself, as she knew I was on the hunt for vintage Christmas albums. The charming cover art alone is worth buying it for, and the songs themselves are all timeless classics, so I’m really glad she snapped it up.

Three vintage bangle bracelets (black, orange, purple)

Black, purple, and orange bangle bracelets ~ $0.50 for all three: While I don’t think any of these bracelets is particularly old (the wavy purple one feels the oldest to me), they definitely have a classic, vintage appropriate vibe and were such a good deal, I just add to buy them to add to buy ever-expanding bangle collection.

Vintage woven straw purse with bamboo handles

Vintage woven handbag with bamboo handles ~ $1.00: This cute little woven bag is in a great shape (both inside and out), and the bamboo handles are so, so fun and wonderfully tiki party appropriate. The seller was asking $2.00, but I talked him down to a dollar and am thrilled to finally have a bamboo handle purse to use all summer long.

Vintage tooled leather western horse handbag purse

Vintage tooled leather western horse and Maya calendar handbag ~ $15.00: This purse was definitely the priciest single purchase I made at a yard sale all summer and fall long, but it was more than worth it. The seller turned out to a friendly, lovely young woman who buys and sells vintage items in the neighbouring town of Summerland, especially home decor pieces, and we ended up chatting for a good ten minutes or more. She told me about some of her vintage interests and I chatted about my blog and lifelong love of vintage fashion. I had a blast meeting her and really hope our paths get to cross again sometime.

♥ ♥ ♥

The wintry weather usually digs in hard and fast, remaining in place until March, or some years, even April, around these parts, so in all likelihood that's when yard sale season will pick up once more. It will be tough to go without hitting the streets, classified ads and map in hand, bright and early on the weekends for the next few months, but I like to think that I can use this time to start stashing away my spare change for next spring.

That way, when the proverbial trumpet is blown again to announce the start of 2013's yard sale season, I'll be especially ready - coins a jingling in my pocket - to begin the endlessly appealing hunt for vintage treasures once more. I can hardly wait!