July 31, 2013

Looking back at July 2013

There are certain times of the year when one still has the instinctual feelings of a child. Holidays are typically such, as are, I find, things relating to the school calendar. As a youngster this day, for all intents, marked the middle point of summer vacation. There was month and a few days behind us, precisely the same in front, and I can recall with vivid clarity the desire to pause time right here, right now for the rest of eternity.

For better or worse, life has no pause button and time always marches triumphantly onward, another August, another Labour Day weekend, and then the start of the school year once more. Long gone are the days of brand new duo-tangs and freshly sharpened pencils, but I still stop and find myself wishing at times that I could slow down this portion of the summer. 

{Surf, sand, sunshine, cute beachwear, sky high temps, there are so many reasons why July is every bit as fun as the charming vintage postcard pictured here and why one can't help but wish they could freeze this month in time for far longer than its actual thirty-one days. Image source.}

Yes, we're immersed in the thick of the dog days, steamy, sultry, sizzling creatures that they are, but we're also surrounded by an endless horizon of verdant leaves, sunsets so delectably lovely they deserve an award, and nights that still see daylight long after the dinner dishes have been cleared away.

A few blinks from now, we'll be sitting here ushering in September, then October, and summer will already begin to fade from our memories like the chlorophyll in the aforementioned leaves, but for now, right this very instant, we're still touching July, ready to embrace August and savour each delectable moment that the second half of the season holds in store for us.

July was a somewhat busy month for me, though rough health from start to finish did put a cap on how much I was able to get done (especially offline). Still, there were some marvelous moments, such as Canada Day, my 29th birthday back on the 10th, and a few really great mail days - including the arrival of items from three recent blog giveaways that I've had the awesome fortune to win over the past couple of months (from Emileigh, Anthea, and Teresa's fantastic sites) and some immensely lovely birthday gifts from dear online friends around the world.

Here on the blog things were jumping with activity throughout July, with a really diverse array of topics being covered. How diverse you may ask? Well, we looked at everything from The life and work of Foncie Pulice: Vancouver's best-known street photographer to 29 things I love about the 1980s, discussed The lore of the sasquatch, as well as some of the important life lessons I've learned the older I've gotten.

This month saw plenty of vintage outfit posts as well! It kicked off with a charming red, pink and green 1940s look sported at Three Mile Beach in Naramata (a snap from which is pictured below), summery vintage plaid and straw accessories on a windswept pier, and towards the middle of the month, an elegant beaded cardigan and black 1950s platter hat ensemble (that also duked it out with the wind).

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In the later part of the month, I had the great pleasure of sharing a fabulously cute, superbly well made
1940s reproduction sweater that was knit for me by the immensely talented Regiane Trainotti from Vintage & Cool Knitting. And just yesterday, as the month neared ever closer to the end, I posted about the festive vintage ensemble (complete with darling totem pole brooch) that I wore for Canada’s birthday back on July 1st.

Throughout July we also got to know two of Chronically Vintage's newest sponsors better: stellar online vintage and reproduction clothing shop Blue Velvet Vintage, and the absolutely lovely blog Vintage Frills.

We also enjoyed some regularly occurring posts and two new vintage recipes recipes (including the terrific thirst buster that is Raspberry Mint Crush), and are currently in the midst of an awesome giveaway for a $25.00 gift certificate from etsy jewelry and accessories shop, ChatterBlossom

See? I told you it was a busy month full of a wide range of different post topics - just as I like things to be here most of the time. One of the best components of having a personal blog is getting the opportunity to discuss such a broad array of subjects - something that's absolutely perfect for an eclectic soul such as myself.

Elsewhere online, I was thoroughly touched to be included in posts on We Heart Vintage (in one of their delightful "This week I wish I was wearing..." posts), Powder Blue with Polka Dots (who included a photo of me sporting Regiane's wonderful cherry sweater in one of her inspiring style posts), Fairy Filigree (in a lovely post devoted to summer hair flowers), and most recently I had the tremendous honour of being illustrated by talented artist Lorena Balea-Raitz on her beautiful blog.

Lorena's portrait of me is, without a doubt, one of the most meaningful, touching, incredibly lovely gifts I have ever received, as well as being a sincere boon for myself esteem, as I delved into in this post last Friday, in which I spoke candidly about some of the body image and self-esteem issues I've battled throughout my whole life. A great many of you left extremely sweet, uplifting comments for me on that post, each one of which, no word of a lie, helped to further bolster my self-esteem and how I view myself when it comes to my appearance, and I truly cannot thank you all enough. 

In the weeks to come here on the blogging front, numerous other varied posts are slated to appear, including a look at some of the more eyebrow raising questions/comments I've received from strangers over the years (in regards to my vintage style), the history of tennis wear, a wonderfully tasty watermelon salad recipe, and oodles of snaps from this year's Peach City Beach Cruise (our town's annual classic car show). 

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{Hot as a toaster, cool as a vintage Jantzen swimsuit, and filled with the sort of heavenly breezes one waits the whole year for, August is a solid, exciting month that always seems to whisper of possibility and great fun still to come before summer waves goodbye once more a few weeks later. Image source.}

August is an activity packed month around our town, in no small part because the local economy has long relied on the summertime tourist industry to help it afloat the whole year round, and this means it's time for everything from a beloved square dancing festival (it's been going on for decades), which is part of the bigger yearly 
Peach Fest, to Challenge Penticton, a grueling triathlon that is going to be replacing the Ironman competition that Penticton had previously hosted for many years.

It also sees the return of both Tony and Stella's birthdays, as well as my mom and step-dad's anniversary, a total of five possible weekends on which to yard sale (so far this year has lagged behind 2012 big time on that front, both in terms of the number of sales and the amount of vintage items to be had at those that I've been to - but you never know, August might be the month things turn around), and a succulent array of locally grown fruit (chiefly cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots, and early season pears towards the end of the month).

Yes, it might be nice to pause at July times and hold onto the sparkling sweetness of that month, but if we did that, we wouldn't have the amber sunshine, bathtub warm (lake) water, or the abundance of fresh produce that August delivers, and you know what? The year just wouldn't be the same without those exquisite things and the many other much loved elements of summer that only the eighth month of the year houses.

So here's to August, every last glorious warm, beguiling, endlessly inviting day of it!!!

July 30, 2013

Maple leaves, a cute totem pole, and plenty of red to celebrate Canada Day

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Outfit details

Black hair ribbon: saved from the packaging on something I bought
Black rhinestone heart earrings: Claire's
Green 1930s beaded necklace: Jewelry seller in Okanagan Falls
Red 1980s does 50s shirtwaist dress: eBay
Vintage totem pole brooch: eBay
Black floral carved bangle bracelet: Unknown (I can't for the life of me remember where I got this from - perhaps thrifted?)
Vintage maple leaf print scarf (used as a belt): etsy seller Boomerville
Black vintage handbag: etsy seller
A Vintage Revival
Black sling-back bow flats: Payless
Lip colour: MAC Russian Red

Photography by
Antonio Cangiano

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Though such was not intentionally planned, it seems especially fitting to me that the last outfit post of the this month should include photos taken on the very first day of July. This feels like such a lovely way to cap off a month that, including the ensemble here, had not one, not two, but a grand total of five outfit post! Of these five however, only the photos for this one one were taken in July, the rest hailed from last month, as I wasn't doing too stellar on the health front throughout July and thus didn't get out and about very often.

Thankfully though, I was able to do just that on July 1st, as it meant I could celebrate Canada Day around town, pausing late in the afternoon to grab some snaps against a sun-bleached yellow wall on the outside of a skating arena that's located just a few blocks from our house.
This day was a scorcher - one of the warmest of the entire summer so far (temps hit at least 38C/100F), with little wind and an abundance of glistening, sizzling sunshine. Though I'd hoped to be able to stay awake long enough into the evening to catch our town's local July 1st fireworks shows, the heat zapped my last ounce of energy by about 8pm, and so after a quick, late dinner, I turned into for the night. Oh well, there's always next year - and I'll try to factor in a nap or sleep in extra late that day so that I might have a better chance of staying up to catch the twinkling fireworks that are shoot off over Okanagan Lake promptly at 10:30pm on Canada's birthday.

As you may know, I'm a big fan of dressing festively, and rarely pass up the opportunity to do just that when a holiday rolls around. Red and white are Canada's official colours, and I do usually reach for the pair on this festive day (case in point, my cute 1950s gingham dress worn for this day last year), but this year I was really in the mood for a lot of red, coupled with some thoroughly Canadian approved accessories.

I own a couple of completely red dresses, this 1980s does 1950s shirtwaist dress (which is light as air and absolutely perfect for a melting hot summer day such as this) being one of them, so on it went, followed by a maple leaf print scarf used as a belt and a super cute little totem pole brooch. Ever since I was a very young child, I have loved and appreciated the beauty and reverence of totem poles and the important role they've long played for some of British Columbia's First Nations people (such as the Haida), and had always kept my eyes peeled for a vintage brooch depicting one.

A couple of years ago I came across this brooch on eBay and couldn't bid fast enough. It was being sold by someone in the UK, and when I won, I loved knowing that I was able to help it return, many years later, to Canada (and even get it relatively close to its original home of Jasper, Alberta, which is located in the Athabasca River valley of the Rocky Mountains). It is, without a doubt, one of my all-time favourite vintage brooches, and seemed like the perfect piece of jewelry for Canada Day.

To compliment the scarf belt, I opted for summery black sling-back flats, a black vintage handbag, a carved black bangle, black rhinestone heart earrings, and a simple black ribbon, plus a fabulous (very newly acquired) 1930s green beaded necklace to round out the accessory mix.

This necklace is one of a few pieces of (exceedingly well priced - this cheerful necklace cost me an extremely reasonable $7.00) vintage jewelry I recently had the great pleasure of purchasing locally from a marvelous elderly lady who runs a small jewelry shop out of a cottage behind her house on the weekends during summer months in the neighbouring town of Okanagan Falls. (I'm planning to devote a post just to the discovery of this charming woman and her shop in the future, so that's all I say about her and her awesome wears for now - however, if you happen to be in the Okanagan Falls area, be sure to let me know and I'll give her address, as she doesn't have a website or online presence; I'd lived in the area again for nearly a year and a half before I even discovered her).

It's almost hard to believe that a whole month (shy of one day) has passed since these snaps were taken. We had such a fun, relaxing, awesome Canada Day - it set the mood for much of the rest of July, and was just what we needed in the wake of the basement flood we'd been hit with a few days prior. Then, as now, I feel happy and excited about what the rest of the summer holds in store, no matter if I've able to get out and about more often in August or not.

There's just something magical about the warmest season of the year, and though the heat can drain me at the speed of light sometimes, I cannot get enough of the beauty of summer and the fact that it allows this Canadian lass to wear feather light frocks outside of an ice skating rink in July.

July 29, 2013

Enter to win a $25 ChatterBlossom gift certificate

Last month I had the great pleasure of having etsy jewelry shop ChatterBlossom as one of my June blog sponsors. As you may recall from the closing lines of this post all about ChatterBlossom, I promised you that a giveaway from this terrific shop would soon take place and today I'm delighted to bring you just that.

{Bloom by Morning clematis small Victoria button cocktail ring. $18.00}

Featuring a vast array of handmade, upcycled, vintage and antique jewelry and accessories (such as hair flowers and headbands), ChatterBlossom's creations are diverse, appealing and timelessly pretty. On of the things I most like about this shop's offerings (which are created by Jamie Lee, who runs an awesome blog also called ChatterBlossom) is how there's something to suit nearly everyone's taste in jewelry.

{Let's Fall in Love pastel peony silk hair flower clip. $24.00}

Though common threads - understated elegance, a love of buttons, and a definite spirit of the past, for example - run though each handmade creation, Jamie offers up a wide range of different pieces, some of which are more girly, others full on vintage, some appealingly minimalist and all teeming with a sense of classic beauty. Nearly everyone loves jewelry and/or accessories, so chances are there's one or more offerings in ChatterBlossom's (frequently updated) listings that are sure to catch your eye.

{Gulf Stream mother of pearl vintage shell pendant and necklace. $12.00}

Want to win a $25 ChatterBlossom gift certificate to put towards any of Jamie's terrific pieces like those shown throughout this post? Of course you do! :) And as such we've got not one, not two, but seven ways for you to potentially win.

1.) Go to ChatterBlossom's etsy shop, take a gander through the delightful offerings there, and comment here letting me know which piece is your favourite and what kind of outfit you might partner it with.

2.) Add ChatterBlossom to your list of favourites on etsy.

3.) Follow ChatterBlossom on Twitter.

4.) Tweet about this giveaway on Twitter then come back here and post a link to your tweet.

5.) Follow ChatterBlossom on Pinterest.

6.) Pin any image from ChatterBlossom's etsy shop to any of your Pinterest boards, then comment here with a link to that pin (please note, while you can pin however many items you like, there is a limit of one entry per person for this giveaway entry option).

7.) Blog about this giveaway on your site, including a link back to this post in your own. Once you've done that, pop back here to let me know in a comment with a link to your post.
Please make sure to leave a separate comment specifying each of the ways in which you entered this giveaway, so as to increase your odds of winning.

This giveaway will run until 11:59pm PST on Sunday August 5, 2013, with the winner being drawn using a random number generator the next day and announced in a blog post here shortly thereafter. It is open to readers from around the world.
ChatterBlossom's pieces are sweet and sophisticated, timeless and more than a little bit treasure chest worthy. It's awesome to partner with Jamie again to offer you this giveaway, and I really want to thank her for the opportunity to do just that.

Best of luck to one and all who enter - be sure to tune in here next week to find out who the lucky $25 gift certificate winner is!

July 28, 2013

There's something fishy about this 1950s recipe

Hard as it may be to believe, here we sit on the last weekend of July. If you live in the Western Hemisphere, chances are that you're contending with some mighty toasty temps at the moment, proceeding through the sweltering dog days of summer as we presently are, and are not in the mood to read through a hefty tome of a blog post this morning.

As such, I'm certainly not going to toss one your way, fear not. Instead we'll kick off this sparklingly sunny morn with a quick, fun, and - yes, I'll readily admit - quirky mid-century recipe for Tuna Fish Mold (not the most appealing of names, I know, surely Tuna Mousse would have been better!).

Being married to a man who is both a big seafood fan and, fittingly, an avid angler (who I occasionally accompany of fishing excursions, as in this post from last August), fish springs up on the menu at our house fairly often.

While I've never been quite as big of a seafood lover as my darling husband is (growing up, despite our parents doing so, interestingly neither myself nor my two siblings liked seafood; as we matured and hit adulthood though, we each came to like it to varying degrees), there are certain plucked-from-the-sea (or lake) ingredients that I've come to enjoy quite a bit.

Tuna, with it's relatively mild flavour is one of them. My personal feelings about jellied meats and seafood (as discussed in this year's St. Patrick's Day recipe post) haven't altered, but I'd venture to add that an occasional exception can be made, especially when the mercury is boiling and just about any cold dish suddenly holds the appeal of a winning lottery ticket.

{Love the bed of cucumbers, sliced green olive eyes, and cute little green pepper fins on this delightful 1950s tuna fish mousse mold. Image source (click through for a larger version).}

This recipe is nothing short of wholly mid-century in every regard. The ingredient list (gelatin, mayo, cream cheese, celery, ketchup, canned tuna!) almost reads like a who's who of the most commonly used foods from the fifties, and I know it definitely won't be for everyone. However, I know there are plenty of folks out there who do enjoy both seafood and molded dishes (alas! A use for that copper mold we all seem to have gathering dust on a wall or cupboard shelf somewhere), and for whom this recipe holds much appeal.

You could very easily play around with the ingredients here. Canned salmon, crab, shrimp,or turkey (perhaps changing the shape of the mold you opted for, if not using fish) would all work, as would (perhaps most appealing, if you ask me) cubes or flakes of cooked ham. Alternatively a vegetarian/meat-free version could be whipped up by replacing the tuna with one or more vegetables instead. I'm thinking chargrilled red peppers, sweet onions, and black olives, for a Mediterranean inspired take.

If you're still feeling anything but enthusiastic about the idea, skip the dinner route entirely and instead just use your favourite mold to whip up a cute Jell-O dessert to take to a picnic, camp out, summer bbq, or (best of all) beach party, where the fun shape is sure to make it a major summertime hit (especially if you happen to have any anglers, like Tony, at your table!).

July 26, 2013

In which I am humbled and touched beyond words

Originally, I didn't have a post slatted for this gloriously warm last Friday of July, but then something happened that moved me to my core and which I wanted needed to blog about immediately, and so I'm doing just that right now.

I've had the great pleasure of knowing Lorena - a very talented artist from Brisbane, Australia - through both of her engaging, beautiful blogs (Balea Raitz Art and In Vogue One Day) for quite some time now, and we've long enjoyed swapping comments on each others sites.

Lorena had indicated before to me that she was interested in drawing me, and I'd happily said I would be honoured to have that happen anytime, but I didn't know that she was hard at work on a sketch this month, nor that she posted it on Balea Raitz Art until today. Imagine my double take inducing surprise when I visited her blog a few minutes ago was greeted with an illustrated image of myself.

This is the first time I've ever had anyone draw me as an adult, and I truly cannot begin to express the mixture of joy, appreciation, and amazement I'm feeling at the moment over the awesome image of me that Lorena so thoughtfully created (which is based on a photograph from this outfit post taken in the spring of 2012).

As I've touched on at various times here over the years (such as in this post), I have struggled with some really hefty self-esteem, self-confidence, and body image related issues over the years (which are not helped one iota by my battle with severe chronic health problems). Though I have gotten somewhat better in this regard, it took me a very long time - almost all of my life - to not look in the mirror and think that I was horrendously, hideously unattractive.

I am exceedingly well aware of the fact that I'm not, in most peoples' eyes, what one might call conventionally beautiful, and between all of these points, I honestly never imagined that anyone would look at me and choose to see me as a source of inspiration for their artwork - let alone want to draw an image depicting me.

At the age of 29 years old, I am incredibly humbled learn that I was wrong. Dead wrong. Someone found inspiration in me and created art with that. My goodness, I can think of nothing more touching or uplifting for my soul, spirit, and self-esteem.

Lorena's incredible piece exudes a sort of radiant beauty that I have honestly never seen in myself when I looked at my reflection, but which, clearly she was able to wisely see and transform into art.

The words "thank you" fail to do justice for gift of this incredible illustration, as well as for what, in one lightning fast instant, it taught me to see in myself. However, I will say them with as much conviction and sincerity as anyone has ever held before all the same: thank you deeply, dearly, and forever, Lorena.

July 25, 2013

Sponsor Chronically Vintage in August

Good morning, my lovelies, though at times this month felt like the grains of sand in the proverbial hour glass were dripping mighty slowly, as with most Julys, when all is said and done (or very nearly so), it appears to have zoomed past faster than the mercury kept shooting skywards in the thermostat and that means August will be here again before we know it.

In July we welcomed three new sponsors to the sidebar family - Lucky Lucille, Bloomers and Frocks, and Vintage Frills, and continued to enjoy the awesome company of Blue Velvet Vintage. With the August fast approaching comes your chance to become an awesome new sponsor of Chronically Vintage

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{Original (unedited) image via My Vintage Vogue's marvelous blog.}

It would be an absolute pleasure to have you sponsor Chronically Vintage in August and to showcase your blog, shop, product line, or other vintage related corner of the web to my wonderful readers (remember, all first time sponsors receive a fab spotlight post devoted solely to them and their site/business/etc).

Sponsor placement spots are limited each month, and some of August's have already been spoken for, but a few still remain, so if you're interested, please see my sponsorship information page and/or email me anytime for more details, sponsorship rates, or just to say hello. :)

Many thanks for your consideration, and to every one of the terrific individuals and companies that advertised here throughout July. I sincerely appreciate each of you and really look forward to all of next month's new and returning blog sponsors.

July 23, 2013

The most wonderfully cute handmade vintage reproduction sweater ever!

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Outfit details

Red and white polka dot hair scarf: eBay
Red hoop earrings: Claire's
Handmade vintage reproduction cherry print sweater: Vintage & Cool Knitting
Bangle bracelets: Assorted sources
Vintage reproduction side button jeans:
Freddies of Pinewood
White 1950s/60s tile purse: etsy seller
Running Rabbit Studio
Red and white peep-toe wedges: Payless
Lip colour: MAC Russian Red 

Photography by
Antonio Cangiano

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Rarely being able to make even moderately long-term plans (a point I discussed here earlier this year), I don't typically check the weather forecast any further in advance then the day we're on, or perhaps the next, unless curiosity compels me to. Late last month however, that inner voice of wisdom (which it's always wise to listen to) told me to do just that and I'm very glad that I did, because the week that was waiting ahead of us was jam packed with temperatures in the 38C/100F range.

Such toasty days are rarely well suited to wearing sweaters, yet it was precisely that which I wanted to wear, so I knew that I had to head out and grab some snaps right then and there (summer was here by then and that could potentially mean several weeks of sky high temps). Tony and I headed down to the lovely grassy park in front of Skaha Beach here at the south end of town and took turns shooting each other - with a camera, of course! He wanted a new head shot for use online, and I needed to take pictures of this resplendently pretty cherry sweater.

Created for me as a gift by one of the absolute dearest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting online, Regiane Trainotti of the blog Vintage & Cool Knitting, this sweater arrived on my doorstep shortly before I went in for surgery this past April, and I've been eager to sport it front of the lens ever since.

Regiane and I met when I commented on a sweater she had created for Charlotte from Apple Menina, and became fast friends pretty much overnight, swapping many Facebook messages back and forth, as well as connecting via each other's blogs. She and I share much in common (from a passion for vintage to a penchant for crafting), though we live thousands upon thousands of miles away (Regiane hails from Brazil), which makes meeting face-to-face anytime soon quite unlikely. Thankfully though, there's the internet and postal system by which to stay in touch.

It was via the latter that this beautiful handmade sweater arrived last spring. Regiane had asked if I would like to receive and review one of her wonderful knit garments, and I couldn't say yes quickly enough.

We discussed style, sizing, details and material type (I'm allergic to lamb's wool, so a synthetic wool was a must), and I decided to go with a classic 1940s cherry partnered sweater that Regiane had already made some of before for herself (you can see a cardigan and shell set in the same pattern that she made for herself here) and other people. It's design is so "me", and calls to mind the many wonderful childhood memories of picking sun-kissed Okanagan cherries that I hold near and dear to my heart.

This vintage reproduction sweater could not be more expertly made. I really mean that. From the perfectly neat stitches to the sleeve construction to the way the whole thing fits, I fell in love with Regiane's terrific handiwork even more the moment I slipped this sweater on, and would happily wear anything she created. The quality, workmanship, and care with with it was made are abundantly clear, and I really felt like I'd been transported back to the 1940s as I stood out in the ever-increasingly-warmer late June sunshine that day.

Wanting to ensurer the was on emphasis on my fabulous new cherry print sweater, I kept the rest of my ensemble fairly low key: Freddie's side button jeans, a few bangles to match the colours of the sweater, a fun white vintage square tile purse, a simple polka dot hair scarf, and a pair of peep-toe wedges (which, amazingly, are holding on for another year - I've had them for a few summers now, and each year I think that one will be its last, but, though they do look a bit worn out, they're still going strong and I suspect they'll get me through until the end of this one).

I love the look of cropped/short waisted sweaters with high-waisted vintage or reproduction jeans and trousers - I find the combo really helps ad length to my relatively short torso and overall height (of 5'2"), so it's one I reach for often. If I wasn't in a pants mood however, I'd happily pair this charming sweater with something such as a red, black or denim pencil or a-line skirt. It would look darling under a jumper or pinafore dress as well, and of course with high waisted shorts, too.

Without a doubt, this is - as the title of today's post says - the most wonderfully cute handmade vintage reproduction sweater I've ever had. It's comfy, expertly constructed, completely adorable - and a cinch to wash (a trip later in the day to the dog park with Annie and numerous other pups there meant that it needed a good cleaning the moment I got home, and it came clean in a snap after a gentle hand washing). I would love it equally whether Regiane and I were friends or not, but the fact that we are makes it all the more dear to my heart.

If you've also fallen hard for this sweet-as-a-summer-cherry sweater yourself, too, Regiane is always happy to create pieces for customers who are interested in purchasing one of her beautiful knits. She's planning to open an online shop soon, and for the time being, can be contacted either via her blog or Facebook.

Just as the weatherman had predicted, the temperatures did indeed sore skyward from the next day onward, so I'm really happy we got a chance to grab these snaps when we did, and moreover that I finally had the opportunity to share Regiane's incredibly fun handmade knit garment with all of you. Though it might be a few more weeks until the weather is cool enough to fold it back into heavy rotation in my wardrobe again, all of that summer sunshine is needed to grow the cherries that the Okanagan is renowned for, and which match this endlessly cute sweater so well.

My deepest thanks go out to Regiane for creating this excellent piece and sending it my way. It's the first sweater anyone has knit specifically for me since I was a little girl, and I know that I will treasure it always as the beautiful gift and work of wearable vintage reproduction art that it is.

July 21, 2013

The life and work of Foncie Pulice: Vancouver's best-known street photographer

Long before the world got wind of Scott Schuman (better known to millions of fashionistas as The Sartorialist), many who lived in British Columbia, especially in and around Vancouver, were familiar with their own local street photography celebrity, Foncie Pulice.

Unlike most of the street photographers - be they household names or otherwise - of today, Mr. Pulice wasn't in it for the fame or fortune, he wasn't trying to land his snaps in the pages of cutting edge fashion magazines, score a book deal, or trend across the blogosphere.

Born to Italian immigrant parents early in the century, it was during the thick of the Great Depression, while working as a house painter, that young Foncie (just twenty years old at the time) decided he might have better luck earning a living as a street photographer (an art and profession that had had come to vogue in many cities across the globe in recent decades).

Foncie was able to land himself a job at a local camera shop (that was rather charmingly named Kandid Kamera, located on West Hastings), where he was put to work taking street snaps of interested passerbys on the corner of Hastings and Main Street.

{Foncie Pulice pictured with his sister Ermie, circa the mid-1930s.}

Business didn't exactly boom in that area however, and after a while Foncie moved further down Hastings (which, to those who are familiar with Vancouver, B.C., was a very different street in those days than what it developed into as the decades rolled on) to a spot right near the lovely part of town that is of Granville.
Though a stint in the service during WW2 temporarily saw Foncie leave his beloved Vancouver, after the war he quickly bought a photography studio on Granville and launched his own street photography operation, which he dubbed Foncie's Fotos. Coupled with his wife, Anne (who looked after developing and printing her husband's snaps), Foncie worked long hours and absolutely adored his job.

Once an interested party (or parties) had enjoyed having Foncie capture their image on the street, they later returned to his Granville studio to collect their photographs. Over the years Foncie - whose pictures were sharp, lovely, and often did a very good job of capturing a person the way they wanted to be seen - developed many return customers who were always eager to have him snap their photo, either on the street or in his studio.

{A snapshot of Foncie and his young son, Anthony, taken - more than a little fittingly - on one of Vancouver's streets in 1953.} 

Over the course of an impressive career that spanned from 1934 to 1979, Foncie Pulice shot thousands upon thousands (if not millions) of photographers of people on the streets of Vancouver. His work was not biased, jaded or staged, merely - like all the best street photographers - a candid, accurate representation of exactly how a person looked for one split moment in time.

As the 1970s came to a close and the art of street photography was, at the time, declining in popularity, Foncie and Anne retired to the sunny Okanagan, settling in the city of Kelowna, B.C. (which, coincidentally, is a mere stone's throw away from where I live). Though I never got a chance to meet Foncie (who passed away at the age of 88 in 2003), his wife or children, I like to imagine that he and I would have hit it off swimmingly.

{A portrait - I wonder if it was a self made one - of Foncie during the 1970s shortly before his retirement.} 

We would share in common a deeply rooted love not only taking pictures, but also of the exciting craft street snaps, and by extension of the preservation of British Columbia's history through the medium of photography.

Thankfully, today, The Knowledge Network (a B.C. public broadcast station) has embarked on a project to gather and continue to preserve Foncie's work, and by extension, Vancouver's history through an online website, called Foncie's Corner. This site is devoted solely to his fantastic work, so that past customers and new fans of Foncie Pulice's photography alike can continue to enjoy seeing his terrific snapshots for many more years to come (you can learn more about the project and how you can contribute here).

Over the years you've heard me discuss in numerous posts (such as this one) the fact that I have an extremely deeply rooted passion for vintage Canadian photographs and history. Should they happen to feature my home province of British Columbia, I adore them all the more and am always eager as can be to share a snippet B.C.'s fascinating past with all of you here.

In that spirit, I hope that you’ll all enjoy the following selection of Mr. Foncie Pulice's engaging, split second time capsules of Vancouver history, captured through his humble, yet masterful, entirely lovely street photographs.

{Really, could her whole gorgeous look be any more perfect? Image of Marjorie Stuart Ashdown, who was born in East Vancouver in 1920, taken in 1936.} 

{A lovely young woman, then 20 years, who was in town from Innisfail, Alberta to visit her cousins in 1937.}

{Style and swagger abound from this nicely dressed chap (identified as Henry James Stewart and a bachelor at the time it was taken) while he was on Granville Street in 1937.}

{A woman and her daughter (Patricia) as they pass the Royal Bank of Montreal sometime during the late 1930s. The person who contributed this picture to the collection added that Patricia made all her own clothes, including the wonderful white coat she's sporting here.} 

{One of the things about street photography that I always really enjoy is picking out the interesting details in the background, such as the sign in this 1930s shot of a little girl and (I'm guessing) her father or grandfather, which says "Diamonds, English China, Souvenirs" - certainly your mixed bag of offerings there.} 

{Two cheerful, stylishly dressed 1930s woman - don't you just adore their hats?} 

{Four ladies (identified as Phyllis, Mary, Catherine and Rose) pause to have their photo snapped during a day of shopping.} 

{It's completely lovely fashions across the board on all three of these young women, whose picture was captured in 1939.} 

{More charming fashions, these time captured three years later in 1942, being sported by sisters Colleen and Yvonne Leveque. This photo was taken shortly before Colleen enlisted in the RCAF.} 

{Though the photo itself has seen better days, the image that continues to shine out from it still clearly shows a handsome young couple from 1946.} 

{Two mothers and their sweet little kids snapped in Stanley Park, during the spring or summer of 1947.} 

{A cheerful chap and two smartly attired ladies with lovely hairstyles, circa 1943.} 

{A beautiful close up shot of a smiling young 1940s woman identified as Dodo Mosses.} 

{Quite a few of the photos included in this collection include a little bit of background information about them. In the case of this particular image of a beautifully attired young woman, we're told that her coat was purchased for her by her husband who worked overtime before he shipped out overseas with the RCAF in 1944 so that she would stay extra warm while he was gone. What a heartwarmingly sweet memory.} 

{Between his well coiffed 'do and her stylish trousers, there's much to delight in about this fun shot from 1948.} 

{A woman identified as Dorothy Black walking on Granville Street in 1948. Love her crisp plaid blazer.} 

{A pair of smiling best friends, Hilary and Diane, shopping downtown in 1949. Both ladies were students at King Edward High School on 12th and Oak at the time, and both would later go on to become teachers.} 

{The elegantly attired members of a ladies bridge club. Fantastic hats and handbags one and all!} 

{Foncie didn't just shoot his wonderful street snaps during the daytime. Here we see a young 1950s couple named Don and Anne Kyle on the street in front of the Sky Diner at night.} 

{Two teenage gals having a blast at the PNE in 1953. The accompanying info for this shot comes from one of the ladies pictured here and says that pair earned pocket money by picking blueberries at a local farm. This point struck a touching note with me, because some of my own relatives ran blueberry farms during the mid-twentieth century in the Lower Mainland, too, of which my own mom worked on one of them to earn her own spending money as a teen, too.} 

{As anyone who has spent even a little bit of time in Vancouver will tell you, rain is a very common occurrence there, often necessitating the bringing of an umbrella wherever you go, as was the case for these two gals back in 1954.} 

{There's great fashions and happy faces aplenty in this charming shot of a 1950s couple walking hand-in-hand.} 

{Three beautifully dressed young women, two of whom were in town visiting from the Kootanies, on their way to the movies in 1954.}

{Love the fashionable wiggle dresses these two young ladies are sporting while photographed one day in 1958 while out on their lunch break from work.} 

{Smiles and style abound in this wonderful nighttime shot from 1958, which shows a young woman (who reminds me a little of Ava Gardner) and her date headed to a dance. The couple would later go on to marry and settle in the nearby city of Delta, British Columbia.} 

{All image used throughout this post are via Foncie's Corner.}

♥  ♥  ♥

These images speak of a time long gone, yet they seem squarely familiar and are so very easy to relate to. I've never had a street photographer stop and ask to take my snap, but I like to imagine that Foncie might have done just that, if he was still with us and out taking snaps today. After all, in these Canadian parts, a modern gal sporting the fashions of his youth wouldn't have been something that likely walked past Foncie's lens every day.

I hope that you enjoyed seeing a small snippet of Foncie's vast collection of photographs, hundreds more of which can be viewed online day or night, anytime you might be in the mood to enjoy a longer look at work of Vancouver's best known, and most loved, street photographer.