December 31, 2014

The times they are a changin'

The last morning of the last day of the last month of the year. So many lasts in order to usher in a brand, spanking new year tomorrow. But that is how change is born. We must part with the old, to usher in the new. It is the natural order of things and something that I'm personally very grateful for.

{May it truly be for each of us! Image source.}

It is entirely normal, as one year end and another draws so close we can all but taste it, to reflect on not only the past twelve months, but on the dozen that stand to follow ahead. At the very beginning of 2014, when it was as rosy cheeked as an hour old infant, I penned a heartfelt and personal post about twelve things that I hoped to accomplish in the year ahead. At various points throughout 2014, I've talked (to some degree at least) here about how most of those were coming along.

In certain areas, I've excelled, in others (for various reasons), there is still a lot of room for growth and further improvement. I did not fail to address any of them to an extent however, and I see that as a wholly positive move forward. Most of these twelve things will continue to be ones that I purposefully work at in the coming year as well.

In the nearly mystical realm of tomorrow, where everything and anything is theoretically possible, I know that I want to continue to simplify my life, to spend less and buy more of what I truly need and want (which won't be a problem, as for the sake of our household budget, my own modest monthly personal spending allowance is being slashed in half from January 1st onward), to shake off the small things that niggle at your mind all too easily, and to continue to get better at asking for more, taking on less other other peoples' problems as though there were my own, and finding ways to continue to experience the exhilarating joys of travel (even if it's close to home).

But what else will I do? I will continue to remind myself that I own my time. I will set aside a greater number of days when I'm not online, with any luck craft more again (for all intents, I haven't done so in two years and to any real degree for well over three now, and I miss it with a fiery passion). My blog and Etsy shop will be at the forefront of my professional world, whereas spending time in the company of Mother Nature, my family, great books, hobbies, and periods of genuine relaxation will, I sincerely hope, fill my hours when I'm not working.

As 2014 began to dwindle down like the last pointy tip you've licked into existence on a candy cane, I started to feel a powerful voice deep inside my soul telling me to focus on the things I just mentioned. Each time I listened to it, my day was better, my life (if only briefly) was less stressful, my anxiety levels dropped, and often (perhaps not surprisingly) I also felt various positive effects on my health.

I'm not the same person I was when 2014 began. None of us are. We've lived and grown, laughed and cried, tried and failed, been jubilant and distraught, smiled and frowned, and through it all we've hung on and hopefully we're better off, at least on some fronts, then we were twelve months ago. I feel the winds of change a blowin'. I've always been the sort to follow my gut, but I know all the more now at the age of thirty now, to truly listen when it speaks and to follow my heart in the process.

I feel certain old skins, so to speak, falling away and the prospect of an amazing year ahead. Will it be? Only time will tell, but it certainly has the potential and that alone should be plenty to light the spark that will ignite each of our dreams, goals, and ambitions for the coming year.

{Beautiful vintage words of poetry with which to cap off this year and wave a hearty hello to 2015. Image source.}

Let us neither mourn the loss, nor blindly celebrate the end of 2014. Whether is was staggering awful or incredibly awesome, or anywhere in between for you, for none of us would be here without it.

That fact alone makes is worth raising a glass to as we watch the ball drop and indulge in an evening of daydreaming, hoping and believing in the ingrained power of a whole new set of months upon which to write the next chapter of our lives.

December 29, 2014

So, we meet again eShakti! (Or, what I wore for Christmas Day this year)

Outfit details

Black satin 1950s hat: eBay
1950s sterling silver and rhinestone screw back earrings with matching necklace: Gift from a dear friend ♥
Vintage style metallic brocade dress: eShakti (this specific dress is no longer in stock)
Silver faux leather skinny belt: eBay
1950s black velvet stole wrap: A Better Time
1950s/60s metallic mesh handbag: Either a gift or thrifted (can't remember for sure)
1950s black gloves: ChameleonCMC
Opaque black tights: Ardene
Sparkly champagne peep-toe heels: The Bay
Lip colour: MAC Russian Red

Photography by Tony Cangiano

Two years ago quite literally to the day, I had my first experience working with the well known online fashion powerhouse eShatki. This brand offers a wide range of modern and vintage-y looking styles that can either be purchased in standard sizes or customized to your exact measurements/specifications, including changing things like sleeve and hemline lengths, as well as, in some cases, necklines (either for free or at very modest prices, depending on what the change is).

Unfortunately, for reasons pertaining both to fit and absurdly high DHL courier fees that I was charged, my first experiences were not very position ones and though I did work with the company again in early spring 2013, with somewhat better results all around, I haven't worn the dress I got then since and honestly doubt it will ever see much play in my wardrobe, as the fit isn't particularly flattering.

I always like to try and get along with everyone - very much including the companies I partner with here on my blog or personally buy from (both of which I've done with eShakti), and when they contacted me again in early December to ask if I'd be interested in reviewing one of the items from their elegant holiday line, I took a few days to think about it, but ultimately said "yes" to the dress. :)

Knowing already from past experience, that eShakti has yet to fit me to size (each garment I've received from them has measured at least 2 inches smaller than the stated measurements given in their item listings in key areas like the bust and waist), I ordered up two sizes and am extremely glad that I did. While this did mean a bit of extra fabric in the waist and a little in bust, the addition of a silver hued skinny belt from my closet was able to help wrangle that in instantly.

Due to the fact that eShakti puts their zippers on the side and tends to cut very narrowly in the torso (an area that I would generally consider myself to be quite slender in - you can clearly see my ribcage when I'm in the buff), I size up to ensure that I'll be able to breath and that their garments (excluding skirts, naturally) will fit me comfortably.

If we went off measurements alone, in theory I would be a size six, but I ordered a size ten (I never care in the slightest about size numbers, fit is what counts in my books) and am extremely glad that that I did. When ordering garments from them, eShakti asks for your height and here I also "sized up", so to speak, and stated my height as 5'4", instead of its actual 5'2". I did this because I've found that past garments that claimed to be below the knee, rarely were and as that's super important to me with all my clothes (that they hit below the knee, I mean), I'm very glad that I did add a couple of inches to my height when ordering this dress. In addition, I opted for the custom options of 3/4 length sleeves and a princess neckline on the dress, which came in standard form with a v-neck and short cap sleeves - two styles that generally look awful on me.

Though even with sizing up, due to the side zipper, it's tricky to get in and rather hard to get out of this dress (doing so involved me kneeling on the floor and Tony pulling the dress off over my head by the ends of the sleeves), which is made from a lovely, thick brocade fabric (that is lined in the skirt, helping to add to the garment's fullness). Still even with these relatively small issues, I really must say that this is my favourite eShakti garment I've owned to date and I very much appreciate the company's desire to collaborate with my blog again.

When I ordered the dress, I did so with the intent of sporting it on Christmas Day, which is precisely what I did. I must say, it garnered compliments from Tony and all my relatives who were present that day, with my mother even saying that it was her favourite dress she'd seen me wear in years (aww, thanks, mom!). I really adored this great 1950s inspired dress as well. Its thick, but comfortable, brocade fabric - a rich mix of silver and gold metallic threads forming a floral design on a cranberry hued background - was both warm and incredibly holiday season appropriate.

Christmas Day was very grey, overcast and accompanied by dim light, so for our photo shoot that afternoon, we just took snaps on my parent's deck. This is a formal dress and I truly love that about it. In keeping with the sophistication it exudes, I went with a gorgeous mid-century vintage sterling silver demi-parure comprised of a rhinestone necklace with matching screw back earrings, which was an amazing gift from a treasured friend two Christmases ago. I also teamed it with a 50s/60s metal mesh handbag, 1950s black velvet wrap, black vintage gloves, modern silver faux leather skinny belt, a beloved black satin 1950s hat, opaque black tights, and a killer pair of sparkly champagne hued peep-toe heels that I feel in love with, and Tony promptly bought me, nearly three years ago now.

I really believe in dressing to the nines for the holidays and centering my Christmas Day ensemble around this stunning eShakti brocade dress allowed me to do just that. Though the fit isn't 100% perfect and I did have to rig the system when ordering, again, it's the best fit I've had from this company so far and I'd certainly be happy to review and/or purchase from them again in the future, as I now have a greater degree of confidence when it comes to figuring out what size of theirs to select for dresses.

Our Christmas was filled with all the usual joys of the Day - family, feasting, gift giving and receiving, playing games, basking in the glow of the tree, and other pleasures that - much like sporting such a fabulous holiday season dress - come but once a year. It’s hard to believe another Christmas is behind us again, but thankfully the season as a whole still has a few more days and I’ll be celebrating each of them with loved ones to the very fullest.

Happy New Year’s Eve countdown, my dear friends!

December 27, 2014

I didn't win, blogging in the moment can be a very good thing, and my second anniversary on Instagram

Mixed bag much? :)

To be honest, I didn't think I'd be penning a post towards the end of this very busy week, but I have a plethora of thoughts swirling around in my head like snowflakes lately (which – as a side note - have been rather MIA around these parts this Christmas) and wanted to get them down on virtual paper before the the year wrapped up.

For starters, I hope with all my heart that you each had a truly stellar, joyful start of your holiday season, including Christmas, if you observe it. Ours was thoroughly lovely and is by no means over. My family loves to keep the festivities going strong everyday until early January, still there's still lots of holiday meals, attire, music, get-togethers, and other delightful elements of the season to enjoy for a few days more.

As well, neither Tony or I have had our respective Vintage Secret Santa gifts arrive yet, so we have that to look forward to and as a means to keep the merriment of the season going strong a while longer, too. So many of you already have, and are continuing to, receive(d) your immensely lovely VSS gifts and I've truly adored seeing all the photos and blog posts you've been sharing about them lately. Thank you so much for doing so! (I'll be posting a big wrap up about this exciting VSS experience towards the end of January, once even more folks have received their presents.)

 photo pastel-sky-highly-commended-twitter-badge_zpsdf7f0de2.jpg

At the beginning of this month, I did something I've never done before and asked you to vote for me in the Unique Topic category of The Blogger's Lounge's 2014 Blogger of the Year Awards. Many of my awesome blog readers, Facebook fans, and Twitter followers did just that, and thanks to your awesome support, I'm delighted to say that while I didn't win in that category, I did come in second place (also known as “Highly Commended”). ‘

Chronically Vintage took the silver medal, so to speak, behind a thoroughly charming blog called Traveling Cats, which as the name implies is all about cats that the author (and I believe others as well) encounters on her (and their) travels around the world. Let's face it, on the internet, it's pretty darn hard to win out over cats and I'm not upset in the slightest that CV didn't take top place with such stiff – and adorable – competition. :D It was a massive honour to be nominated and very touching to receive so many votes from all of you. Thank you again everyone who gave my blog a fighting chance in this fun online award.

Throughout the course of my blog's life, I've often looked at the number of posts that I had prewritten in terms of a feast or famine sort of situation. It seemed I either had the bulk of my entries for a month or two ready to go, or was feverishly penning in the (last) moment.

From nearly the get-go I've utilized a blogging schedule and plan to always do so, but in the midst of this exceedingly busy year, where a substantial amount of my focus has been on my Etsy shop - as I know it will continue to be in 2015 and likely beyond, I began to find that - much like this very post itself - I was writing a lot more in either in the moment or at least "in the week" (that is to say, for example, penning a post on Monday that would go live on the Thursday of that same week).

{Life changes and so too can the the approach to blog writing that one takes. Never be afraid to mix things up, try to methods, use a schedule and/or list of ideas, and keep things fluid. One of the biggest keys to blogging success is to continually adapt and keep bettering your approach to this 21st century digital craft. Image source.}

As this is how many bloggers across the world operate, I'm certainly not hitting upon something novel, unique or perhaps even all that noteworthy here in the slightest, and yet for someone like me who generally feels a great degree of serenity and far less stress that more I have planned out and ready to go in advance, reverting in part to this way of operating could have been a potential midfield of anxiety and problems, and yet...

For the most part, it hasn't been at all. I still have try to write some of my posts in advance and very much continue to operate on a schedule of topics (something that I will likely never stop doing), but for most of 2014, I wrote considerably more in the moment/week/two weeks in advance enjoyed it a great deal. I found it let me talk about recent happenings all the more and to also quickly alter my blogging plans, if needed, to accommodate news, updates, on the fly reviews, and sometimes even to ditch ideas for posts that had seemed good when I conceived them, but which weren't really relevant any more when it came time to actually pen them.

As we head into 2015 in a matter of days, I plan to keep adhering to my blogging schedule, but to write a lot of my posts nearer to when they actually appear here. Much to the contrary of how I might have thought this would make me feel, I find it almost liberating and for the most part, enjoy it a lot. It works well for my current work schedule, lifestyle, and demands on my time, so it's a win-win all around at present. In the future I may revert to pre-writing and scheduling larger volumes of posts or I may write them all "in the moment", but again, for now, this is working so I'm more than content to stick with it.

Wayyyy back in 2012 (I know, that really isn't that long ago, but still :D), Tony gave me my first ever iPhone for Christmas, which I'm still using and am happy to say is holding up wonderfully. I'd wanted, no word of a lie, an iPhone for two primary reasons, both of which go hand-in-hand. Its great camera phone technology and the ability to join Instagram, which I did as soon I got my phone, posting my first ever Instagram photo on Boxing Day 2014 - which means that yesterday was my second anniversary of being on Instagram.

{A selection of some of my favourite Instagram snaps from 2014, brimming - as my photos tend to - with vintage, majestic landscapes, cute critters, and assorted images from our travels around Western Canada.}

Though I haven't had much time or been in good enough health to Instagram (in the case of the latter, to go out and take snaps of things to share there) very often in the past couple of months, I do hope to be more active on that fabulous site again in the new year.

Knowing my life and health as a I do, I won't make any grand plans like trying to post a new photo every day, but I will be aiming to share snaps more frequently and to expand further on the array of things that I cover there. I truly love Instragram (it is topped only by Pinterest as my favourite social media site ever) and adore connecting with so many of you there, my dear friends!

In the past two years, I've shared around 485 images and amassed over 2,500 followers, many of whom I follow back, as I so adore seeing (and liking!) the awesome, inspiring, cute, informative, clever, beautiful, and otherwise flat out cool things that you all share there, too. If we're not following one another, please feel free to leave your Instagram account in the comments before so that we can start doing so pronto!

There is just five short days left in this year and I hope that each one is even more enjoyable and fun filled than the last for each of you. Happiest ongoing holiday season wishes, everyone – and thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for another marvelous year spent together online!

December 25, 2014

Festive Christmas 2014 edition of Flickr Favourites

{Hello ~ Katie Baby}

{Christmas TV Guide ~ James Vaughan}

{Vintage Christmas Card ~ Katie Baby}

{Yesterday's Flea Market Finds ~ Mary Harding}

{1962 Christmas Food Ad ~ Classic Film}

{Vintage Christmas Tree Card ~ Katie Baby}

{Ladies Home Jorunal December 1959 ~ File Photo}

{White Christmas 1950s ~ ElectroSpark}

{Vintage Candy Christmas ~ Elle}

{Vintage 1950s Christmas Card ~ Kevin Kidney}

{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.} 


For all the immense excitement of this most resplendent and special of days, there is also, I find a certain incredible serenity to Christmas morning - at least if you happen to be the first one awake. A few years back, I was up rather early on this very day and created a scrapbook page (featuring a photo from one of my childhood Christmases) and ever since then, I've made a point of setting aside an hour or two before the mad rush and endless fun of the festivities begin just for myself.

Usually, perhaps not surprisingly, more often than not, I use it to write a blog post, as is the case today, but sometimes (or in additional to doing that) I'll just curl up with a good book, cup of peppermint tea, and spend a little while relaxing and counting the many gifts that I am blessed to have in my life that go far, far beyond what lies under the tree or dangles in the stocking from the mantle.

Though I've never been materialistic about the holidays (or overly so in general), the older I get, the less I want (for myself) and the more I yearn for this day to be far more about the people I spend it with and the happiness that I'm able to impart into their lives. Presents are wonderful, of course, but they aren't the sole purpose for Christmas by any stretch of the imagination and as the world continues to become a more expensive, stressful, challenging place where just making ends meet can be a full-time struggle for countless families, I can't help but think that we'd all do well to step away from the malls and contently back in front of the hearth with our loved ones, trimming the tree and sharing a generously sized, festive meal.

The beauty of Christmas, likewise, cannot - despite what their commercials might have you believe - be purchased solely with a MasterCard either. It is each tiny, perfect work of art that is a snowflake and every verdant pine bough. It's the sight of a lipstick red cardinal in the snow, the wide-eyed wonder of children on this day, and love and contentment we feel in our hearts when we stop and take stock of the history and meaning of Christmas itself.

Amongst the blessings that I count each Christmas morn is all of you, my dear and treasured online friends and readers. We share and delight in the whole year together, and while I can't pay you each a visit (basket of homemade cookies on my arm) today, I hope you know that I'm celebrating with you in spirit and that from the very furthest reaches of my holiday season adoring soul, I am wishing you the most joyful, safe, and endlessly merry Christmas possible!

December 23, 2014

Adventures with butterflies and an Edwardian castle

Outfit details

1940s/1950s navy blue hat with whimsical bow: Jardin Antiques in Okanagan Falls
Faux pearl stud earrings: either Claire's or eBay
Pearl necklace: Birthday gift from Tony ♥
Vintage gold bow brooch: Probably thrifted or eBay (had for years)
1970s/80s does 1940s/50s orange and navy plaid dress: Diaphanous Vintage
Black faux leather skinny belt: eBay
1950s navy blue gloves: (probably) eBay
Faux pearl stretch bracelets: Real Canadian Superstore
1950s/60s grey handbag: Running Rabbit Studio
Black seamed nude stockings: eBay
Navy blue pumps: Payless
Lip colour: MAC Russian Red

Photography by Tony Cangiano

Doesn't the title of today's post sound like every little girl's dream day out? :)

Though I had hoped to have a more festive outfit post to share with all of you today, between numerous health issues I’ve been contending with and a jam packed work load and social calendar this fall (and now winter), Tony and I have only had a chance to do two photo shoots since we returned from Victoria some 2.5 months ago now (and those would be the last two outfit posts I've shared here in recent weeks). That said, I'll still try to get a Christmassy ensemble up before the year is over, if a shoot is able to happen in the coming days.

That is one of the beauties of the holiday season isn't it? It's quite literally a small season unto itself and affords one the chance to do all kinds of fun, festive, highly photo worthy things over the span of multiple days or even weeks.

Right now though, let me hop away from the mulled cider, sublimely scented pine trees, and dazzling outdoor light displays and to our Vancouver Island vacation back at the start of autumn. Nearly every day of our two week holiday was bursting with activities and on one of the later days, we visited two places I'd wanted to see for many years now. Though, in actuality, we only went into one of them (more on that a little later on).

Our first big stop for the day was the breathtakingly beautiful Victoria Butterfly Gardens, which are located between the cities of Victoria and Sidney. Butterflies have always been very near and dear to my heart, to the extent that I almost see them as a personal mascot of sorts. On top of that, they're endlessly lovely and also very relaxing to watch, so I knew that a trip (a first for both Tony and I) to the Butterfly Gardens was a must on our holiday.

Tony had a Groupon coupon for the Gardens, which saved us a fair bit on admission, but I would have happily paid full price to get in, if we'd had to. Housed in a large climate controlled building, the gardens are a lush, tropical paradise of verdant plants and many, many different species of butterflies from around the world, as well as a few other lovely critters, such as different types of birds (like parrots and flamingos), frogs, koi fish, tortoises, and lizards.

The environment, as one might imagine, is humid, but not uncomfortably so (at least to me) and I greatly enjoyed the leisurely visit we had there, snapping cell phone photos, reading the information plaques on different species, and hoping that a butterfly might land on one of us (none did, but then again, we didn't see them do so on any other visitors either - perhaps next time!). There is something deeply enchanting, even magical about being surrounded by countless butterflies and a smatter of wild critters that most of us don't commonly come in contact with. It brings out your inner child, your inner lepidopterist, and your inner animal biologist all at the same time.

We capped off our visit to the Victoria Butterfly Gardens with a stop at the gift shop, where I treaded myself to a cuter than cute little plush green caterpillar toy (I have zero qualms with admitting I'm a thirty-year old woman who still adores stuffed animals! :)), before heading off to explore various other local sights. As the day wound down, we thought we'd try to visit Hatley Castle near the super charming town of Sooke.

By the time we got there however, the visiting hours were almost over for the day, so we decided that instead of being terribly rushed, we'd just do a quick photo shoot on the lawn and instead make a point to arrive much earlier in the day on a future trip trip to the Island.

Built in 1908, Hatley Castle is located in Colwood and is a Classified Federal Heritage Building that since 1995, has been used by the Royal Roads University. The castle - one of exceedingly few homes ever built, let alone still standing, in Canada to ever call itself such - was commissioned by wealthly Scottish Lieutenant Governor James Dunsmuir and his wife, Laura, who set highly renewed Canadian architect Samuel Maclure to work designing and constructing a gigantic mansion comprised of 40 rooms. The castle has what is known as a Scottish baronial style and shows elements of Tudor, Victorian and early Edwardian design influences. In the spirit of traditional European private estates, the Dunsmuirs christened their sprawling home and gardens Hatley Park.

The building remained in the Dunsmuir family until the end of the thirties, when it was sold to the Government of Canada. Over the course of the next few decades, it was used as the Royal Roads Military College, a Canadian naval training academy. Today, as mentioned above, it belongs to the Royal Roads University and is enjoyed by the students, staff and public in different capacities, including tours of its grand and stately rooms and gardens.

Extremely fascinatingly, in 1940, when the WW2 was in full force already in Europe, a contingency escape plan was made that would allow for King King George VI, his wife (the Queen Mother), and their two daughters (Elizabeth and Margaret) to reside in Canada at Hatley Castle. Though the Royal Family decided to weather the long war years at home in England, had the opted to leave, it my understanding that Hatley Castle would have been their most likely choice of a North American abode for the duration.

I think it would made a splendid temporary home, had they opted to leave England during the war and indeed, even just standing on the grounds of this majestic mansion - as much a castle (as its name implies) as one will find anywhere in this country - I couldn't help but feel a bit regal myself! :)

While we didn't get to see inside this towering grey stone castle that day, it was a pleasure just to be so near to it and to pose for some photos in what is essentially its present day backyard (at the time that the Dunsmuirs built their home here, the grounds were larger, but some of the land has been sold off over the years). Avid movie buffs may find that Hatley Castle looks familiar and indeed it may, as it has been used as a backdrop and/or setting for numerous TV shows and movies over the years, including as Professor Xavier's castle in some of the X-Men films.

Should you happen to find yourself on Vancouver Island anytime, I can't recommend visiting either (or both) of these places highly enough and I hope that on our next trip to that part of the country, we will indeed step foot inside Hatley Castle - no doubt (assuming they're permitted) with a new set of photos to follow.

Right now though, the only traveling we're doing is to visit nearby relatives in the Okanagan, very much including my mom and step-dad's house here in town, where we're spending many of the festive days of this beautiful season.

I hope that you're each having a marvelously merry December and that you enjoyed this look at another exciting day from our 2014 Vancouver Island adventure. I have some more photos from it to share with you still, so be sure to watch for further Victoria related posts in early 2015.

Happiest Christmas Eve, Eve wishes, my dear friends!


Speaking of Christmas, don't forget that Chronically Vintage's exciting Buy More, Save More holiday season sale continues over in my Etsy shop until January 5, 2015. I don't plan on holding another big sale again for quite a while, so now is definitely the time to swoop in and pick up those items you've been eyeing lately, all at wonderfully discounted prices.