June 29, 2016

It isn't every day that I wear cherries...

Outfit details

C. 1930s black plastic ball tipped hatpin: Unknown, had for many years
1930s/1940s wide brimmed green straw hat: Jardin Antiques
Glittery gold tone metal round shaped earrings: Claire's
Red cropped cardigan: Fairweather
Cherry print vintage style Hilda Dress (no longer in stock): c/o Voodoo Vixen
Green faux leather skinny belt: eBay
Green plastic bangle bracelet: Forever 21
Assorted vintage bangle bracelets: Most likely all thrifted from various sources
C. 1950s pink ruched gloves: Unknown, had for years
C. 1950s wicker, velvet and millinery cherry handbag: Lu Lou's Frou-Frou
Nude seamed nude stockings: eBay
Red patent faux leather pumps: Payless
Lip colour: MAC Russian Red

Special Offer: Voodoo Vixen has very kindly extended a 20% off coupon code on all of their online merchandise to my readers. Use the coupon code Vintage20 at checkout between now and July 31st to save 20% on anything your heart desires from their wonderful website.

Photography by Tony Cangiano

But when I do, you better believe that I bring my crimson fruit filled A-game to the table! :D

I've never been the sort who follows trends or is drawn to overly common things - indeed, such is no small part of the reason why I opt to sport vintage fashion - and I will just about always cheer for the underdog. Thus, while I do very much adore cherries, given their immense commonality in the vintage/rockabilly/pinup girl/retro style world, I would say that I've somewhat sidestepped them, both consciously and subconsciously over the years.

That isn't to say that I haven't rocked cherries here before, because I have (e.g., in this fun 2013 outfit) - and I am very partial to cherry themed jewelry - but I don't reach for them everyday by any means. When I do, I like typically try to select pieces that have that little something to special to them, that helps to ensure they don't blend into a sea of basic red and black fruit prints.

This gorgeous and immensely feminine looking mid-century vintage style Hilda Dress from Voodoo Vixen nails that to an absolute tee for me.

Not only does its pattern go beyond the usual cherry print, but it includes the colour pink and the most adorable little jars of cherry jam on it (seriously, I can't even!).

I have very fond memories of picking and helping my mom to can, cook and bake with cherries when I was growing up (as detailed in this post from five years ago), so the moment I laid eyes on this beautiful dress, I knew that it had passed my cherry litmus test, so to speak.

I've had the pleasure of working with Voodoo Vixen here twice over the years (both times in 2014) and was really delighted when they recently contacted me about teaming up again this summer. They kindly sent me this enchanting Hilda dress, which - perhaps not surprisingly given how pretty it is - has already sold out, for review and I sincerely want to thank them for it.

On one of the very few sunny weekend days that we've had in the past couple of months, after a full and exciting day of vintage shopping, errand running, and MEC visiting (for Tony) in Kelowna, we returned home to Penticton and took a small trek on foot up part of the very first mile or so of the famous local KVR (Kettle Valley Railroad) Trail.

To my mind, the KVR Trail and the views that it offers are some of the most stunning sights to be seen and experienced around these parts, and I felt like they would suit my first vintage outfit post of the summer really nicely (likewise for this Voodoo Vixen dress itself).

It was early evening by the time we got there, but luckily the sun was still out and did a delightful job of bathing us in its golden warmth as the day wound down.

This dress, like the other two garments that I've received in the past from Voodoo Vixen, is well made from a medium weight fabric with a hint of stretch to it.

I should note that this dress came with a matching belt, however, even on the smallest hole, it was a good couple of inches too big for me and as it is a fabric belt, not a leather/faux leather one, I didn't want to damage it by piercing a tighter hole. Instead I'll wear it with garments like my denim capri pants that hit me lower down on my torso and thus not on the narrowest part of my waist.

Voodoo Vixen frocks aren't always super long, so before selecting this product, I spoke with my VV contact who confirmed that it would hit below my knees (for a sense of scale, I'm just barely 5'2" tall), which is a personal must for me with all dresses and skirts.

I wouldn't mind a few more inches of hem length here, but am equally okay with where it falls now and do very much appreciate a shorter hem length (by vintage standards at least) during the roasty-toasty summer months.

Having a fairly petite bone structure, garments are often too big for me in the shoulders. This dress has cap sleeves and is a little too big there, which while not tight, does make lifting my arms a bit tricky, as the cap sleeves become micro sleeves on my upper arms and restrict them a touch.

This is by no means a big issue at all (and I could always have them removed by a seamstress, if so desired) and I had no problem whatsoever comfortably wearing (and climbing a gentle hiking path in!) this dress for about ten hours straight on the day that these snaps were taken, so really, this is not an issue and I only mention it for the benefit of others who may be small shouldered as well.

This lovely vintage style frock is fun, sweet and just a blast to wear. I love the subtle keyhole detailing at the neckline, the functional pockets, the becoming a-line skirt, and of course the endlessly enjoyable red, white, pink and green cherry print that it is bedecked in from top to bottom. I'd recommend this dress to anyone and do so hope they bring it back into stock for those who may wish to add a "Hilda" to their own old school wardrobes, too.

A dress this vibrant and fully patterned doesn't need a ton of further embellishing, but naturally a few accessories were in order, including a wonderful c. 1950s wicker, velvet and millinery cherry purse that I've had for a few years now.

It's one of my favourite bags I've ever owned, however it is in rather delicate condition however, so I only bring it out once or twice a year, as a general rule. I couldn't think of a better dress to partner it with than this charming Voodoo Vixen one, so out it came to play in the warm June sunlight.

Vintage pink gloves, a quintet of bangle bracelets, one of my beloved 1950s Austrian glass fruit brooches, my equally adored green 1930s/40s wide brimmed straw hat, simple gold tone circle shaped earrings, and red pumps complete the look, which really does seem like such a fitting sartorial note to launch the summer - especially since local cherries are in season again right now.

It's true, I might not wear cherries all the time, but I love when I hit upon a piece that really stands out from the crowd for me and which I know I'll happily reach for many times over the years.

This whimsically sweet cherry print dress from Voodoo Vixen is just that and I look forward to spending many a happy summer in its company - this one very much included!

June 27, 2016

Meet Kate-Em: British vintage blogger, lover of museums, and one seriously skilled knitter

Though you wouldn't know it from the continued rainy weather (see this recent post) around these parts, summer has emerged once more and most of the world is enjoying far drier and balmier days than we are. With the return of the glorious season, it's time for our latest edition of the fun and exciting reoccurring post series, Meet a Fellow Vintage Blogger.

For June's delightful conversation, I'm elated and honoured alike to say that today's interviewee is none other than Kate-Em (pictured below), who many of you may know from her fantastic blog, What Kate-Em Did Next, which has been online for a few years now.

Kate-Em resides in good, old Blighty and has been very dear friend of mine for ages. In addition to having a heart of gold and an immense talent for knitting, she loves vintage something fierce and is an avid member of the online vintage world, often taking the time to comment and show her support to others in our midst (which, as you know, is something I hold in the highest esteem).

Sweet, creative, and lovely as the day is long, Kate-Em and her blog both deserve a spot of your time and I hope that you'll join me in bestowing such their way on this lovely last Monday in June.

{The beautiful header from Kate-Em's blog, which stars photos of both of her grandmas and a great-aunt.}

For those who are just meeting your wonderful blog, What Kate-Em Did Next, for the first time today, could you please share a bit about your site with us, including when it launched and what inspired you to start a vintage related blog?

Hello, I’m Kate-Em. I started my blog in May 2012 as I really had an urge to write about all the things that were buzzing about in my head. I had been doing lots of knitting, researching vintage fashion and reading lots of history books and I wanted a place to chat about all of this, to share my thoughts and show the things that I found. I had been reading a few blogs and it seemed like a blog of my own might be the kind of thing that I was looking for. And it was!

I tend to write about my knitting and craft projects, historical places I visit, exhibitions I go to, fashion history and vintage fashion, share vintage photos and patterns and share the odd outfit. I really don't like having my photo taken but I want to share more outfits so I am going to have to get over it!

How would you say that the blogging world (vintage and/or otherwise) has changed since then? Has your blog adapted in any way in response to these changes?

I know that many people who have been blogging for a long time have seen a bit of a decline in blogging with the rise of things like Instagram. I can’t really say that I have noticed those changes from my blog’s point of view. I really enjoy following other blogs and chatting with their writers via the comments.

I have met some fascinating, wonderful people that way. I also enjoy seeing snapshots of blogger’s lives on Instagram, things that wouldn't necessarily make up a post but are interesting in their own right. I enjoy sharing pictures like this on Instagram and they may or may not make it onto my blog.

You’re extremely passionate about knitting – when did that love start and how has it factored into your life and blog alike?

I am lucky to come from a family full of crafty women, knitters, sewers and embroiderers so I have been around it all my life. My Mum used to knit and sew my clothes and my Granny and Grandma knitted for me. My Auntie knitted me a rag doll, Jeanie (pictured above), when I was very young who was a constant companion. She regularly had to be ‘taken to hospital’ by my Auntie as I wore her out from cuddling her.

I think that my Grandma taught me to knit when I was about 7 and I used to knit clothes for my toys and then the toys themselves, progressing to proper garments as a teenager. I didn't knit so much when I was at university or in the few years that followed and then I got back into it properly about 12 years ago.

I had a breakdown 6 years ago and ended up having to resign from my job through ill health. It was an incredibly difficult time with far reaching consequences and it is something that I am still dealing with today. Knitting has really helped me during this time, giving me something to focus on, to calm my brain and help keep myself steady and manage my anxiety. Knitting has well documented positive effects on mental health and I definitely found that to be true.

When I was able to, I made myself attend a local knitting group. It was a huge step, it took lots of working up to and my husband dropped me off and then sat in the car for 30 minutes waiting to see if I managed to stay or if I would run out crying and need to go home. I managed to stay, mostly by knitting furiously and not speaking to anyone for ages until I felt that I could squeak out the odd reply. Luckily, I landed in a group full of the most brilliant, amazing, talented, generous and supportive women that I could have hoped to find.

When I decided that I would like to start blogging it seemed obvious to me to be the place to combine my love of knitting and vintage and it has all gone on from there.

What are some of your favourite types of things to knit?

I like to knit 1940’s and 1950’s jumpers and cardigans for myself as I love the shapes and the interesting stitch patterns that were commonly used. I like knitting hats from that period too. I also like to knit vintage children’s patterns for friend’s with new babies and for my niece. I knitted early 50’s double breasted jumper for her for Christmas.

She has just put in a request for a scarf, pink with yellow spots, and I think I have just found a 1930’s pattern with matching mittens that should do it! I also enjoy knitting commission knits as often they are glorious patterns but not ones that I might make myself either due to style or size so that way I still get the fun of seeing what they knit up like!

You have a fabulous collection of vintage knitting patterns, some of which you’ve generously shared images from with on your blog. How did that collection get its start?

I have always been a collector of stuff and I think that I always will be. At a knitting show a good number of years ago I came across a stall selling vintage haberdashery, books and patterns. I came away with a 1940’s knitting book and a 1950’s knitting magazine and that was it.

They just hooked me, I loved all the garments, the fashion history, the style and I thought ‘this is what I need to knit’! So then I started looking out for vintage patterns wherever I went and the collection was born!

Are there any types of vintage patterns in particular that you find yourself drawn to?

Apart from patterns for items that I would like to make for myself there are certain types of patterns that I look out for. I love the cozy glamour (that sounds like opposite states but I totally think it is a thing) of bed jackets so I always pick up patterns for those if I find them. I love patterns featuring Fair Isle so they would always be winners as would picture/motif knits.

Patterns featuring people smoking are a favourite as they are from the period when smoking was not seen as harmful. I’m not a smoker but find the history of the tobacco industry fascinating and frightening and the knitting patterns accurately reflect people’s behaviour at the time. They are a real social history snapshot. I also have a special section of ‘so bad it’s good’ patterns where comedy poses, props, backgrounds, horrific hats and monstrous jumpers have a special place.

Where are some of your favourite places to source vintage knitting patterns from (online or off)?

I most enjoy sourcing vintage knitting patterns from charity shops, junk shops and junk markets as I like the excitement of rummaging through a big pile and not knowing what treasures I may unearth. I also buy at vintage events and some knitting shows have dealers that stock vintage patterns. Online, Ebay can be a good source, especially if you get a bargain. Etsy is a great source, especially if you are not bothered about owning the original pattern as many sellers sell PDF’s of patterns in their own collection.

My two favourite are 1940’s Style For You and Pretty Old Patterns. The Victoria and Albert Museum have some free vintage patterns on their websites. The Vintage Pattern Files is a great resource and bloggers such as Subversive Femme, Va Voom Vintage, and myself all put free patterns on their blogs.

And how about yarn and other supplies?

I like to source yarn from a shop or knitting show as I like to support small businesses and see and feel the yarn myself. I really struggle to wear wool as it itches me like mad so it is important for me to be able to put the yarn against my skin and see what it feels like.

I also like to play with colour with the balls of yarn themselves, to see how they work against each other and with my skin tone. I get most of my supplies from local shops, charity shops and markets too. I appreciate that not everyone has access to good, local shops but that is what I prefer.

Do you find that you have a lot of WIPs on the go, or do you prefer to start a project and see it through to completion in quite a linear fashion?

I laughed out loud when I read this question, Jessica! In my head, I am the kind of person who starts a project and sees it through but, from surveying the evidence in many knitting bags and various piles, I have to conclude that this really isn't the case.

From a quick look I am going to confess to the following WIP:

-A 1950’s cardigan that needs one front lace panel knitting

-One half sewn up 1950’s cardigan

-A colourwork partial headband

-The beginnings of a sock -One 1960’s bag to sew up

-Four 1950’s hats knitted but not sewn together

-A 1950’s feather and fan jumper, back complete, front recently started -A 1940’s jumper that needs some rows of crochet to finish the neckline

In my defense, projects get picked up and put down around other activities such as commissions, or social knitting occasions when I need something easy so I can talk lots too, or when it needs to be easily portable. I am going to crack on with them though!

And what would be your absolutely dream knitting project (that you haven’t tackled yet, that is)?

One day I want to knit a really colourful and complicated 1940’s Fair Isle cardigan for myself but I want to improve my colour work skills first as I want it to be fabulous! I have two amazing jumper patterns, one that is 1940’s with seahorses on and on that is 1950’s with a parrot on that I would like to make. I also want to knit some 1940’s underwear and a 1940’s or 50’s swimsuit from an historical interest point of view.

What advice would you give to those who want to get into knitting, but have never done so before?

Choose the nicest yarn that you can afford, one that speaks to you and makes you excited about creating something. You are more likely to stick at learning to knit if you like what you are knitting. Likewise, you don't have to start with a scarf or a square. If you think you would find that boring then choose something else, a simple hat or shawl or a pair of wrist warmers for example. Most patterns are graded in difficulty or you can ask your local yarn shop for advice.

Don’t feel like you should start with chunky wool just because it grows quickly. If the needles feel like broom handles in your hands or you fall in love with a gorgeous ball of 4-ply, knit with that instead.

It is perfectly possible to teach yourself to knit from a book or from online tutorials but I think that you can't beat someone showing you and sitting with you for those first few rows. If you don't have a friend or family member who can show you I would advise going to a class, but are sure it is a small group so you get plenty of attention. Or, turn up in a yarn shop and say “help, I need to learn to knit. Show me now”!

Remember that it takes practise, you will most likely feel weird and uncoordinated at first and then it will click. Mistakes can easily be ripped back or can be counted as part of the garment’s individual charm, depending on your approach!

Do you think there are points that were, objectively, better about knitting in the past and/or nowadays?

In the past, many people were taught to knit (and sew, mend etc) whilst they were children and it was an activity just as much for boys as girls. Obviously it still is, but it isn't always portrayed as or seen as such which is a huge shame.

Starting young gives you longer to become skilled and it must have helped that it was a very commonplace activity. Vintage patterns can be short on explanation as they assume the knitter already has a certain level of knowledge, gained by experience. I wouldn't mind a time machine to allow me to go back in time and buy all the patterns and knitting magazines that I could get hold of!

Now is an incredibly exciting time for knitters, especially with the help of the internet as a wealth of patterns, tutorials, yarns, gadgets and like minded souls are there at your fingertips. Although I tend not to knit from modern patterns I like to see what is out there and what is popular. There is greater yarn choice from interesting fibre mixes to specialized independent dyers. There is a very vibrant knitting scene with crafternoons in shops and plenty of fibre festivals.

What are some other crafts, aside from knitting, that really speak to you?

I enjoy crochet too though I am still quite a beginner at it. I have some great vintage crochet patterns so I really want to master it. I also enjoy sewing and I am really keen to do that more. I went to classes for a while and made a couple of bags, a dress and a cape. I

want to get better at garment making so that I can use vintage patterns and increase my wardrobe! I like embroidery and cross stitch too and I am slowly working on some patchwork using the paper piecing method. I also like the odd bit of paper crafting. I really love to make things so the more crafting the better for me!

How long have you been wearing vintage styles for, and what era(s) do you find yourself most frequently drawn in terms of your own wardrobe?

I have been wearing vintage styles on and off since I was a teenager. Back then I used to go to lots of jumble sales and find great 1960’s dresses to wear with vintage velvet jackets that I bought from a market. I wore a great, full length embellished 1960’s dress of my great aunts to a university ball, if only I could still fit it! I most frequently find that items in my wardrobe are 1940’s or 50’s in style but I love fashions from the 1930’s and the early 60’s too.

Do you incorporate vintage elements into your home as well?

I do but not as much as I want to and hope to do some day. I am always on the look out for things for my home. I have quite a collection of vintage china which I use or have out on display. I have a 1930’s clock on my mantelpiece and a 1950’s Singer sewing machine on an old cabinet.

I have my grandparent’s bureau which holds china in 2 display cupboards and my embroidered tablecloths and crochet doilies in another cupboard. Our spare room houses all my craft supplies so that has plenty of vintage sewing baskets, haberdashery and books in it, for use and for decoration.

You have such a cool job – working at a haberdashery – can you please tell us a bit about what is that like?

I absolutely love it!! It is just the best job for me. I like to be interacting with people so I love having a chat to the customers and helping them out with their haberdashery emergencies! I’m also very nosy so I like seeing what yarn or fabric people buy and then finding out what projects they have planned for it. I love it when customers come in and show me their finished projects.

I like helping people if they get stuck on their pattern or if they need advice on styles or colours or coming up with ideas for creating 1920’s headbands for dogs or hammocks for growing pumpkins (true). Being surrounded by gorgeous yarns is great, though bad for the bank balance! I like seeing all the new stock as it comes in and ordering it on the shelves, working out which colours sing together. It is such a cheerful place to be!

Living in the UK, have you had a chance to attend many vintage related events before?

I get to a reasonable number of vintage fairs which I always really enjoy. There is quite a big 1940’s event that happens near me which I have never managed to get to as it always clashes with something I already have planned. Maybe next year I will be better organised. I probably don't get to as many events as I would really like to so that is something for me to work on.

We share a mutual passion for museums in person. What are some of your favourite ones (and/or exhibits) that you’ve been to? Is there a museum, anywhere in the world, that you’d love to visit, but haven’t yet?

Tricky question! Many of the big London museums are favourites of mine. My Uncle used to take my sister and my two cousins to the National Maritime Museum regularly when we were very young so that has happy memories. We were particularly fascinated by a paddle steamer you could explore and Lord Nelson’s blood stained stockings! I love the Natural History Museum, both the collections and the building itself. I also love the Victoria and Albert Museum as it is so diverse and has so much to see.

I recently saw the 100 Years of Vogue exhibition which was just fabulous and visited the Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms which was really interesting. I’m excited as an exhibition that I couldn't get to London to see, Fashion on the Ration, has moved to the Imperial War Museum North which is much nearer for me so I will be able to get to see it after all.

I would one day like to visit the Anne Frank museum.

My favourite museum is Beamish, an open air living history museum near Durham. It has a 1900's town with a bank, printers, bakery, pub, dentist etc and you can go inside each one and explore. Members of staff are dressed in period clothing and talk about how life would have been.There is also a 1940's farm, a Georgian farm and a pit village and mine. You travel around the site on trams and buses. It is the best day out!

In addition to vintage, museums/history, and knitting, what are some of your biggest passions/interests?

Reading! Definitely one of my biggest passions. I always have a book on the go and have an overflowing bookcase full of books waiting to be read. I am no good at all at not buying a book that catches my eye, even if I have plenty to read already. I give most genres a go but not surprisingly I really enjoy historical fiction. I also read a lot of social history books, particularly about the role and experiences of women during the second world war, but anything from the 1920’s-1960’s I would find interesting.

I like going walking in the countryside and exploring beautiful places. One interest that I haven't been able to pursue for a good few months is boxing! I used to go to boxercise and boxing training regularly and loved it. I am waiting for a neck/shoulder problem to be resolved and then I hope to start again as I miss it!

Circling back to fashion, what are some of your “must have” vintage accessories for the sunny summer months that we’re launching into again now?

A lovely big straw hat to keep me cool and shady and a large, light scarf as a cover up as my skin really doesn't like the sun. I’m still looking for my perfect straw bag as they just shout summer to me. I’m after two, a smaller handbag type and a larger one that fits a book and my knitting in it! I want to knit a short little summer bolero to go over dresses. I like hair flowers for summer up do’s and a good pair of sunglasses of course!

Any cool summertime plans that you’d like to share with us?

I’m hoping to get out and about lots this summer, exploring, walking and visiting. I’m excited to be going on holiday to the Isle of Wight. I have always wanted to visit and see it’s beautiful beaches and scenery and visit it’s historic attractions so I’m over the moon to be finally going.

And last, but certainly not least, what’s on your needles right now?

On my needles right now is the final sleeve of a modern knit! Shock horror! It is a loose jacket with one button at the neck and it reminds me of a 1950’s jacket or swing coat. We have some fabulous super chunky wool in the shop where I work which I was desperate to knit, but, it is a yarn type that there are no vintage patterns for as it didn't exist then. So a modern pattern that is vintage in style fitted the bill!

I think it will be perfect as a summer evening cover up and also for those periods in spring and autumn where you are too cold in just a cardigan and too warm in a coat.

Connect with Kate-Em on the following sites:

Meet the past interviewees who have taken part in this delightful ongoing post series:

February 2015: Emileigh | March 2015: CiCi | April 2015: Helen Mae | May 2015: Esther | June 2015: Ms. Falcon | July 2015: Jessie, and Laurence & Sylvain | August 2015: Holly | September 2015: Rhia | October 2015: Franny | November 2015: Emily | December 2015: Porcelina | January 2016: Nora | February 2016: Kate | March 2016: Carla | April 2016: Jessica E.| May 2016: Skye

♥ ♥ ♥

Thank you very much for this stellar interview, dear Kate-Em. I sincerely appreciate your time and how candidly you spoke about your life and treasured interests here with Chronically Vintage's audience. I feel blessed to have you as a friend and to share so many passions in common.

If you're not already following Kate-Em's blog, I highly encourage you to do so. She posts marvelous vintage related entries there - many of which are chalk-a-block full of awesome mid-century images, and is one of those beautiful souls that the blogsphere is genuinely better for having in its midst.

Next up, we'll be slipping on a pair of vintage sunnies and a cute sundress or playsuit and hightailing back to the Pacific coast of North America, where I'll chat with another truly treasured friend of mine, whose many interests, incredible vintage fashion sense, love of themed attire, and exciting travels throughout the area will leave you spellbound (and wishing there was a magic button that would allow you to instantly copy her gorgeous wardrobe into your own closet).

Until then, my sweet dears, enjoy this first leg of summer and all the fun, excitement and - hopefully - beautiful weather it holds in store!

June 24, 2016

Summer get-together perfect 1950s 7-Layer Casserole

Now, I'm the first to say that the words "summertime" and "casserole" are not always one that I instantly group together, but there's a very practical side to large, substantial dishes of the casserole variety during the sunny, sizzling hot months of the beautiful season that we now find ourselves in again (huge "yay" about that point!).

First and foremost, unless you're serving a large crowd or making a very small quantity of food, most casseroles will last for at least a couple of meals, meaning that you don't need to heat up the oven two (or more) days in a row. Many are also fantastic served cold, perhaps with a fresh salad, some lightly steamed veggies, or something such as corn on the cob that you whipped up on the grill.

They're also great for summertime barbeques, picnics, and other such get-togethers where you're feeding a hungry crowd who are keen on something both visually appealing and taste bud pleasing, to boot.

As well, you don't need to go in for the richest, heaviest, most starchy casserole ever invented either. Leaning heavily on vegetables and/or lighter protein sources (chicken, turkey, lean ham, shrimp, etc) can really help to make a casserole into an excellent warm weather meal choice.

Today's example hails from a 1950s Hunt's Tomato sauce ad and is pretty as a picture!

{Hearty, but not per say heavy, this delightful mid-century 7-Layer Casserole makes for a splendid summertime dish, especially if you're planning, or attending, a group get-together and want to feed a hungry crowd. Vintage recipe image source. Click here for a larger version of this recipe.}

Relatively budget friendly (especially considering how many servings it yields), vibrantly attractive, and downright delicious sounding, this great 1950s 7-Layer Casserole can be altered as desired. If you're a vegetarian or vegan, you can skip both meats and use a vegan ground meat and bacon substitute here instead or simply forgo them entirely, perhaps adding in two more layers of other veggies that you enjoy (black olives, for example, would be great here, IMO).

There isn't too much in the way of seasoning here, so I'd definitely introduce some. Basil, oregano, (fresh) parsley, chives, chervil, paprika, and chili powder, flakes or fresh chillies would all be great ways to inject even more flavour into the mix. You could certainly also top it with some bread crumbs, crumbled crackers or pretzels, French’s onions, slivered almonds, and/or cheese, if the mood strikes.

So much of the beauty and appeal of casseroles lies in their versatility, as well as their classic standing on dinner tables the world over. The fact that many freeze marvelously well, doesn't help either - especially, again, when the temps are off-the-charts warm and you not, in the slightest, in the mood to cook from scratch.

As we embrace summertime, I hope that this season will give you many awesome opportunities to celebrate with your favourite foods, perhaps even including a classic 7-layer casserole or two like the one featured here today. I'm already planning a version of it that I can safely eat for some of our family events in the coming months.

Wishing you all a stellar first weekend of the season and a truly incredible, fun filled summer ahead!

June 22, 2016

Stripes, gingham, a snowy owl, and wouldn't you know it, more rain!

Outfit details

Green and white vintage style headwrap: Handmade gift from a lovely blog reader
Black enamel covered metal hoop earrings: Unknown, had since I was a teenager (probably Claire's)
Green and white striped Gina Top: c/o Dolly & Dotty
Green cardigan: Old Navy
Oscar the Owl brooch: Erstwilder
Black plastic rose bead stretch bracelet: Thrifted (Value Village)
1940s style side button high waisted blue jeans: Freddies of Pinewood
White 1950s/60s tile purse: Running Rabbit Studio
Black & white vintage style saddle shoes: eBay
Lip colour: MAC Party Line

Photography by Tony Cangiano

(The fabulous keyhole and tie string detail at the neckline on the back of this darling green and white striped shirt from Dolly & Dotty.)

Earlier in the month, I chatted (here) about the near monsoon levels of rain that we've been getting around these usually very dry parts and how they've been impacted our normal spring/summertime ability to take photos just about any time during daylight hours that we desire. As such, I won't lament the weather - very little we can do to change it, after all! - here a great deal, but it does warrant mentioning because it is directly responsible for the backdrop against which today's images were captured.

Recently, on yet another rainy weekend (it's almost like the rain is intentionally falling most heavily on the two days a week that are the most likely for Tony and I to be out and about on – le sigh. We'd been doing quite a lot of bopping about in the northern Okanagan that afternoon, rain falling the whole day long (you can actually see some raindrops on my clothes in many of the photos above).

As evening began to break and we knew we'd have next to no daylight soon, we opted to just make the best of a damp situation and found an (already closed) little shopping mall/plaza that had a slender overhanging roof that allowed us to duck under and avoid getting wet while grabbing a few snaps of this fun, casual 1940s inspired ensemble.

For the first time ever really, in just the last year or two, I have been feeling stripes big time for my own wardrobe. I've always appreciated stripes and enjoyed them on others, but for ages, I shied away from them as a general rule (with a few notable exceptions made for things like classic Breton strips).

I'm not sure what flicked the switch, so to speak, but something did and now it seems stripes are something that I can't add enough of to my closet. Especially so in terms of vibrant, yet still very classic looking garments, such as this absolutely delightful Green and White Striped Gina Top from online UK vintage reproduction/vintage inspired/rockabilly clothing superstore, Dolly & Dotty.

I'm truly honoured to have recently become one of Dolly & Dotty's brand ambassadors and to, in this exciting new roll, get a chance to highlight a number of wonderful pieces - and share more about the company itself - from this fantastic, budget-friendly brand here on my blog in the coming months. Beginning with this super cute striped shirt, which looks sweet and innocent from the front, then gets decidedly flirty with the fun keyhole detailing on the back (see photo above of such).

It was far too cold (about 10 or 11C and pouring rain) on the day we took these snaps to go comfortably go bare armed, but I slipped down my cardigan for a few moments so Tony could get a snap of this wonderful detail on the back of it for you guys to be able see as well.

I really like this top. It's lightweight, but not sheer (which is getting harder and harder to find, even in the repro/vintage inspired fashion world), very reasonably priced, incredibly comfortable, fits like a glove, and is timelessly pretty as well.

I have several other separates, aside from my beloved Freddies of Pinewood side button jeans here, that I know it will play really nicely with, too, including a vintage high waisted denim skirt and a jumper style skirt from Tatyana (bought way back when they were still known as Bettie Page Clothing) - to name, but a couple.

I knew, as it was indeed the fact, that a lot of driving and bopping around would be taking place that day, so comfort was the name of the game, but naturally, as us vintage fashionistas do, I still wanted to look a.) old school and b.) well put together.

I don't do a great deal of pattern mixing usually, but when I do, I like to reach for patterns that compliment each other nicely, in terms of both their colour and design. Strips and gingham are practically kissing cousins, as the old expression goes, so they felt like a natural match.

This very sweet fabric headwrap was a surprise gift a few years ago now, which a super thoughtful blog reader made and sent it to my PO Box as what is called online these days, “love mail”. I was immensely touched by her kindness and have worn this wonderful handmade piece many times, especially during the summer months, which might as well be called gingham season, if you ask me.

I kept my accessories fairly simple here, as the striped top (which I want to sincerely thank the fine folks at Dolly & Dotty for), gingham headwrap, and dark denim high waisted jeans already make quite an impact themselves. Naturally some made it into the fold though, including one of my absolute favourite brooches from Erstwilder, which stars none other than a well known Canadian bird: the majestic snowy owl.

I've spotted numerous types of owls in the wild (and heard the calls, no doubt, of more still), but haven't encountered any snowy owls in person. Maybe one day - that would certainly be a thrilling experience! Either way, this wide-winged sweetie pie can keep me company anytime and work wonders with a slew of different outfits, thanks to its timeless black and creamy white colour palette.

Though we have been getting some dry lately lately (cue chorus of excited cheers!), there have still be tons of damp ones as well, including this past weekend.

Thus, as we embrace summer's return this week, it will be genuinely interesting to see what Mother Nature has up her (rain jacket sleeve) and if we'll be needing to seek out more covered awning as we head into July or if we'll finally be able to shoot in good weather anywhere we please, as per usual for this time of the year.

As you can imagine, I'm pulling for the latter!

June 20, 2016

25 awesome red, white and blue-tiful vintage fashion finds for the 4th of July

 It might seem strange to some that I, a born and bred Canadian, would have a deeply rooted passion for America's birthday, but that indeed I do! As I've discussed here in various posts over the years, America's culture is very much intertwined at times with ours and it is impossible, for me at least, to share a border with a country and not be aware of all of its holidays - especially when they're as monumental and important as the 4th of July.

We Canadians, typically a more subdued bunch who are prone to quiet celebrations and understated shows of patriotism, do go all out for our nation's own birthday, which falls on July 1st, but there's still something deeply appealing to me about how gung-ho Americans get regarding Independence Day. From parades to festive foods to epic fireworks shows, it's all so lively, festive and fun (not to mention a marvelous way to kick off the first full month of summer!).

I've never celebrated the 4th of July on American soil, but would very much welcome the chance to do so one day. Until then, I'll happily mark the occasion in spirit from this side of the 49th, as well as here on my blog. This time around, with a selection of 25 exciting, holiday perfect red, white and blue vintage items of clothing, jewelry and accessories.

Naturally, one does not have to be an American or observe the 4th of July to embrace these patriotically hued pieces - the colours of which jive with those used for the flags of numerous other countries around the world, too, including the UK, France, The Netherlands, Australia, Russia, Thailand, Norway, Chile and many more. They're lively and fun, suiting the bold, dynamic months of summer superbly, while also (especially the red pieces) transitioning beautifully into fall.

I hope that you have as much fun checking out these stylish vintage wearables - each of which stars at least one of America's national colours - as might be had at a huge 4th of July bash, with sparklers, star topped cupcakes, and miniature American flags as far as the eye can see!

25 awesome red, white and
blue-tiful vintage fashion finds
for the 4th of July

1. Equally at home as part of both Canada Day and July 4th outfits, as well as nautical ensembles, too (not to mention Christmas and Valentine's Day ones), this beautiful c. 1930s/1940s woven vintage seed bead necklace is such a stylish, versatile piece that you'll be apt to reach for often the whole year through. $28.00 from Chronically Vintage on Etsy.

2. A relaxing palette of beautiful blues call this elegant 1950s floral print short sleeve dress home and would be a great choice for any holiday, picnic, birthday party, afternoon tea, or stylish everyday warm weather outfit. Fits up to a 36 inch bust/28 inch waist. $89.00 from Blue Velvet Vintage.

3. As awesome for Viva Las Vegas as it Independence Day, this bold, chunky 1950s/1960s molded red plastic and silvery-gold tone metal panel bracelet is such a chic piece that works wonders in the context of all sorts of vintage, pinup, rockabilly, retro, and modern looks. $35.00 from Chronically Vintage on Etsy.

4. File this incredible 1950s red and white wool rodeo queen worthy pants suit under "jaw dropping" because that is precisely what it is. Wow, wow and wow again! Even if it happens to be too warm to wear outdoors on the 4th, this really is the sort of head turning vintage western wear suit that will serve you well in the nippier months for many years to come. Fits up to a 36 inch waist (jacket) and 25 inch waist (pants). $250.00 from The Best Vintage Clothing.

5. Few things give off more of a festive vibe than bows, which this classically elegant 1940s/1950s navy blue ladies plus size crepe dress has in strategically appealing spots on both the neckline and skirt areas. Fits up to a 38 inch bust/34 inch waist. $75.00 from Chronically Vintage on Etsy.

6. Fabulous for when you need a little extra warmth after the sun sets - say, while watching festive fireworks or shooting stars whizzing across the inky summer sky - this gorgeous 1950s red angora and white beaded cardigan is will have your back now and see you warmly on through to the chillier months, too. Fits up to a 38 inch bust. From Bobbins and Bombshells.

7.They might not be soaring eagles, but the adorable birds depicted on this pair or white and blue mid-century vintage plastic hair barrettes are still more than worthy of being sported for any July 4th celebration. $15.00 for the pair from Chronically Vintage on Etsy.

8. Awesome with shorts, capri pants, skirts, or even as a bathing suit cover up, this delightfully fun 1950s red, white and blue striped sleeveless blouse is sure to become a firm favourite in your sunny weather vintage wardrobe. Fits up to a 40 inch bust/38 inch waist. $35.00 from Blue Velvet Vintage.

9. Red and white combine forces with warm toned brass in this absolutely beautiful c. 1930s rhinestone and imitation pearl skeleton key and flower brooch that make for such a head-turning piece of 4th of July (or anytime!) jewelry. $24.00 from Chronically Vintage on Etsy.

10. Oh my word, how fabulously cute + chic is this magnificent mid-century vintage Sally Victor red, white and navy blue straw hat with navy veil? This yesteryear chapeau would rock for the 4th of July, Memorial Day, Veteran's Day, President's Day, WW2 related events, or anytime you want to sport some seriously patriotic hues on your head. (On sale at the time of writing for) $44.00 from The Best Vintage Clothing.

11. I recently acquired, and have subsequently been listing, a lovely selection of mid-century vintage Mexican jewelry (including both sterling silver and alpaca pieces), amongst which one finds this generously sized, deeply attractive panel bracelet with its chunky blue plastic cabochons and great Southwestern design. $38.00 from Chronically Vintage on Etsy.

12. Sweet and feminine, with a gentle hue that plays surprisingly well with red, this lovely 1950s baby blue cardigan is just the lightweight topper to see you through the whole summer in great old school style. Fits up to a 40 inch waist/36 inch waist (at the bottom of the cardigan). $15.00 from Sanne's Vintage Jools.

13. Another delightfully pretty piece of mid-century costume jewelry that will serve you well for a myriad of different events across the calendar, from Independence Day to Christmas, this fun vintage red and white plastic beaded choker necklace will look so sweet with all kinds of vintage, pinup, rockabilly, and glam modern outfits. $16.00 from Chronically Vintage on Etsy.

14. Perfect for air conditioned indoor summertime events and cooler days throughout the rest of the year, these classy - and very classic looking - mid-century vintage red, white and blue kid leather gloves are a deeply lovely pair with so much appeal to them. Estimated to fit a modern size small - medium. $25.00 from Carla & Carla.

15. These c. 1980s does 1950s/60s style stunners are, hands down, bar none, one of the most breathtakingly gorgeous pairs of vintage earrings I've ever seen. With luminous AB stones (that call to mind the flashes of light produced by a 4th of July fireworks show), a chic dangle design, and generous size that makes them an instant statement piece, these vintage red rhinestones are truly knock-your-socks off amazing! $22.00 from Chronically Vintage on Etsy.

16.A timeless trio of seafaring and 4th of July worthy colours star in this beautiful 1950s navy blue wide brim straw hat. which includes a delightfully fun white hatband woven through red decorative loops. $46.00 from The Vintage Mistress.

17. Hunting for an absolutely elegant maxi skirt to wear to a wedding, garden party or other special event this summer? May I suggest this stunning c. 1970s periwinkle blue silk number that has such an awesome Edwardian revival quality to it. Fits up to a 30 inch waist/free hips. $45.00 from Chronically Vintage on Etsy.

18. If you happen to be one of those lucky ladies with very small feet and are presently looking for a seriously cool new pair of shoes for the summer months, may I recommend these darling 1940s/1950s cork and raffia wedges? Listed as being a US ladies size 5. $75.00 from Lucky Dry Goods.

19. Headed to the Jazz Age Lawn Party this summer or know a dapper chap who is? May I suggest this elegant and eye-catchingly attractive c. 1930s/1940s 10K gold filled Swank brand men's tie clip (which could, of course, be rocked by ladies as well) with its beautiful little blue cabochon ends. $25.00 from Chronically Vintage on Etsy.

20.The 4th of July's classic colour palette is rendered in gentle shades and teemed with cheerful green in this sweeter-than-sweet 1950s sundress that would be ideal for a summertime tea or garden party. Fits up to a 36 - 38 inch bust/28.5 cm waist. $114.00 from Archetype Vintage.

21. It's never too early to start planning your fall time outfits, especially when they involve beautiful vintage earrings like these glamorous mid-century vintage red leaf and aurora borealis charmers that can just as easily be worn at other times of the year - July 4th very much included - as well. $15.00 from Chronically Vintage on Etsy.

22.Equal parts patriotic and pretty, this fantastic c. 1930s/1940s molded plastic and reverse carved glass brooch would be an especially fitting 4th of July vintage jewelry choice for those who live in, or have family ties to, New York. $18.50 from Yesterday's Attic.

23. As serene as a summer's day spent at the beach, this wonderful c. 1930s/1940s graduated blue glass bead necklace is the sort of sophisticated vintage jewelry box staple that goes with a million and one outfits, no matter if it's January or July. $35.00 from Chronically Vintage on Etsy.

24. So immensely sweet for the littlest holiday celebrators in your life, this darling vintage red, white and blue infant's dress is as home on July 4th as it at the beach all summer long. Listed as being suitable for a 12 month old child. $24.99 from Old Fashion Baby.

25. The 4th of July just wouldn't be the same without some eagle imagery, which speaks to the rich history of the nation's association with this majestic bird and the freedom it represents. Channel some of that same patriotism with you sport this beautiful little circa WW2 era rhinestone adorned eagle stick (or hat) pin at any time of the year. $14.00 from Chronically Vintage on Etsy.

{To learn more about a specific item or image featured in today's post, please click on its photo or on the link in the text below to be taken to its respective source.}

No matter if your country is celebrating a birthday or other big event in the near future or not, there is an energetic giddiness to these first days of summertime that fills one's heart with joy, giving a much needed sense of promise and wonder alike to this hottest (in the Northern Hemisphere) chapter of the year and that alone is worth toasting with great enthusiasm.

I'll be doing just that in the coming weeks, as they lead into various family birthdays (including my own), Canada Day, July 4th, and many other great points that make the early days of summer to incredibly enjoyable.

Here's to an sun-kissed, carefree, beautiful season ahead for all of us - and the very happiest of July 4th wishes to all of my dear US friends and blog readers!