May 31, 2011

Four fantastic 1940s hairstyles for long haired gals

Day 151 of Vintage 365


Throughout much of human history young girls and women alike have worn their hair long. Lengthy locks were tied to deeply rooted notions of beauty, vitality, innocence, chastity, faith, devotion, and health - amongst many others - and were something that countless ladies over the centuries prided themselves on having. However, as time wore on and the 20th century dawned, a cord began to change where women's hairstyles were involved.

By the end of the '10s, some brazen, trend setting gals were ditching their Gibson Girl inspired, Rapunzel-esque manes for much, much shorter cuts, such as the immensely popular bob of the 1920s and 30s (which was sometimes paired with a Marcel or finger wave, or other type of tight curl).

Shorter styles remained commonplace through the 40s, and 50s, though there were noticeable differences between many of the styles of each respective decade.

However, whereas some gals were quick to sheer off much of their hair (or never grow out, in the case of those born after short female hairstyles became more culturally accepted), others opted to hang onto their longer locks.

Whether shoulder grazing or reaching down to their tailbone, long hair was not uncommon by any means amongst vintage women. In fact, many of the most beloved and iconic actresses, models and performers of the golden decades of the last century boasted hair that was anything but pixie cut length (think of the cascading waves of beauties like Rita Hayworth, Ann Sheridan, Veronica Lake, Susan Hayward, Hedy Lamarr, and Bridet Bardot to name but a few screen sirens who boasted longer hairstyles).

Then, as today, not all women opted for shorter cuts - not did all ladies decide to go in for perms (which generally gave the appearance of lopping at least a few inches off of their locks). Popular as they were for much of the early and mid-twentieth century, permanent waves were not something that every gal embraced (for various reasons including having naturally curly hair, being allergic to the chemicals used, economic concerns, or simply the desire to stand out as something of a hairstyle maverick).


As such, women who opted to keep their hair longer needed becoming styles that were on trend, practical enough to do themselves (for those days when a trip to the beauty parlour wasn't in the cards), and which ensured they looked immensely well put together.

Pages such as the handy magazine spread above from 1944 entitled Dos for Long Hair, helped teach WW2 era long haired women of all ages some delightfully chic styles that they could  readily apply to their own tresses.

Many of us, myself included, have hair that falls into the medium to longer length category and as such are often on the lookout for authentic vintage hairstyles that we can easily do ourselves today.

This delightful 1940s page (which comes by way of clotho98 on Flickr; click here if you'd like to see a larger version of this set of instructions for of graceful long hair vintage styling options) delivers four distinct looks (the Chinese Page Boy, Crescent Chignon, Side Sweep, and Ears Buns), which can easily be replicated - with some practise and a few hair pins - today by many of those with longer manes.

Each of these looks is distinct, yet so perfectly channels the blend of practicality and feminine beauty that held sway in women's lives during the tumultuous war years.

These hairstyles are ones that will stand the test of time, as perfect and enchanting today as they were sixty-seven years ago when they first appeared on in the pages of Women's Day magazine - inspiring women of both generations of try something new and gorgeous with their longer locks.

May 30, 2011

Reflections from a Canadian on Memorial Day

Day 150 of Vintage 365


"In peace", said the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, "sons bury their fathers. In war, fathers bury their sons." These words, sobering and hauntingly true, were spoken in the 5th century B.C., and yet they could just as easily have passed through the lips or pen nib of a wise person today.

On this, Memorial Day in America, one pauses to reflect on those who have stood up for their country only to fall in battle. I adore many elements of history (be it 20th century or otherwise), but war is unequivocally not one of them.

{This vintage photo from the 1940s of a small boy wearing a grown man’s military coat and cap, is rich in dimensional meaning and symbolize, not only of WW2, but of all wars and the fragility of peace in anyone's lifetime. Image via kawkawpa on Flickr.}

There is nothing glamorous about war. It is not the the glitzy, uniforms-that-never-get-dirty world of certain Hollywood films, nor the "just point and kill" spectrum of comic book soldiers. Real war is horrific for everyone involved.

War knows no sides, plays no favourites. It's dark as a sun-less galaxy, more tormenting than any nightmare a person can have with their eyes closed.

I have no respect for war, but I do for those who have, when truly necessarily, gone to fight so that today I may know freedom. One of my great-grandfathers, as well as some of my great uncles fought for Canada in the second world war.

Those who came back, were never the same. How could they be, how on God's earth could anyone every stare war squarely in the eyes and return unshaken, unmoved, emotionally (and often physically) scared, a rearranged version of person they'd once been.

Though decades, like rings in the tree of time, have begun to distance society from WW1 and two, war still rages around the world, and we'd be naive to think that the possibility of another catastrophic world war was off the table for the rest of time.

Just as a solider rushing towards the frontline never knows what fate may deal him at the next moment, so too do none of us know for certain that peace will always be with us. Yet we can hope dearly that it will and work towards creating the type of society in which this thus far unachieved dream is finally realized.

I believe that one of the most poignant and important steps towards that goal is to never forget those who have fought, served, and fallen, giving the ultimate sacrifice of their very lives, for the world - however flawed it may still be in certain ways - that we know and treasure today.

Though I am not American, it would be impossible for me to let today slip past without pausing to remember - and thank - in the farthest reaches of my heart all those who have been lost in battle so that I could know freedom.

Join me, won't you, in a moment of silence and gratitude for everyone and their families, for whom Memorial Day is devoted.

May 29, 2011

Spring's beauty and splendour captured in a darling 1960s inspired dress

Day 149 of Vintage 365


Generally speaking, I draw my vintage fashion line right around 1960. There is much to like, admire and adopt from the decade of revolution, rock and roll, and free love, but usually the fashions of the swinging sixties are not my cup of tea. That said, every now and then a vintage - or vintage reproduction or inspired - piece comes ago that positively sweeps me off my feet.

Case in point, the utterly ravishing print dress below. Cut in a style that instantly calls to mind early 1960s frocks (and which wouldn't have looked out of place at all on the first couple of seasons of Mad Men), this incredibly pretty 100% cotton dress - with its darling round collar, flattering empire waist, princess seems, and zipper up the back - is so irresistibly lovely that I'd be all to happy to break my own rule and dive head first into early sixties fashions for a chance to sport this sublimely summer worthy frock.


From the lively, happiness inducing aquamarine, carnation pink and snowflake white hues to the feminine flare of the skirt, everything about this dress telegraphs a chic, youthful sophistication that transcends time and trends.

Available in ladies sizes small to 1XL from online Canadian fashion retailer Dress 911, this gorgeous floral print Beverly Dixie Dress retails for $98.95 (Cnd), and would make a very sound, incredibly stylish addition to your spring and summer wardrobe.

Indeed, if more looks from the sixties had been this enchantingly pretty, perhaps I'd have to rethink my sartorial cut-off date and start delving into the iconic looks that helped define one of the most impactful decades of the twentieth century.

For the time being though, I'm happy just to daydream about this sparkling gem of a floral patterned summer dress magically hanging in my closet, ready to be worn any time I needed a vibrant dose of 1960s wardrobe cheer to brighten my day.

May 28, 2011

A real contender for the pinkest vintage bathroom of all time!

Day 148 of Vintage 365


When I look at the image below, I'm instantly reminded of the classic expression, "in for a penny, in for a pound". However in this instance, the indulgence is not so much one of spending money, but rather of the judicious use of one single hue.

Bursting forth at every seem with a riot of monochromatic colour, this bathroom from 1958 is decked out from head to toe (or more accurately, tub to toilet) in blush pink!

The tiles, the vanity, the matching shower curtain and drapes, the towels - nearly everything is as pink as a stick of bubble gum. And like chewing gum, it has an unmistakable sweetness and appeal that's quick to spot and hard to shake off.

{Incredibly pink vintage bathroom image from the pages of the fall and winter Montgomery Ward catalog of 1958. Image via the terrific pages of saltycotton on Flickr.}

While it takes a lot (!) of commitment to cover any room in your house with just one single bright colour, there's something to be said for - and admired about - those with the decorating moxie to pull it off.

Pink is my absolute favourite colour of all time, but even I would have to stop and really ponder if I could adorn my whole powder room in this girly, pretty, cotton candy inspired hue.

For those who are looking to add a little - or a whole lot - of pink to their vintage inspired and decorated bathrooms, this blazingly pink beauty is certainly one to save for the inspiration file.

While you may not be yearning for quite such a liberal dose of rose, if this is one colour you love and would enjoy adorning your bathroom - or for that matter, any room in your house - with, you'd be hard pressed to find a more pink example of home 1950s home decor anywhere! Smile

May 27, 2011

Paper Dolls of the World fabric is too cute for words!

Day 147 of Vintage 365


A few days ago I was reflecting on some of my favourite books from my childhood and vaguely (but very fondly) recalled a series of young children's books that were shaped like figures dressed in national costumes from various countries around the world (and each title disused various elements of a certain culture/country).

…Or at least that's what I think they were - there's an even less likely chance that they were in the shape of, and about, people in various careers.

I fear my memories of these books are very, very murky, but I would love to find out what they were called and perhaps add some to my present day classic book collection. To that extent, I started combing the internet high and low (I actually sort of enjoy shot-in-the dark challenges that take a bit of sleuthing, last year I found two other unrelated books I had distant memories via some creative search terms and online elbow grease), but haven’t lucked out yet.

While I do not remember any specific titles, I do recall that one of the books featured an Inuit girl  (she was likely called "Eskimo" in those days, a term which is now generally seen as being derogatory) on the cover (I think she was sporting a fur trimmed parka).

It was when I was a very small child during the 80s that this series of books was read to me by my mother, however the books themselves may have been from the 70s (or even earlier). It's ever-so-slightly possible that they were from the UK (and there's a slight chance they might have been published by Ladybird Books, though I tried searching via that avenue and came up very empty handed).

In the midst of cruising around the web in the hopes of turning up these charming retro children's books, I came across a rather adorable fabric featuring images of vintage paper dolls (drawn in much the same way as the iconic Campbell's Soup kids) sporting traditional costumes from various world nations.


There are so many splendidly delightful uses that one could have for this Paper Dolls of the World fabric (which retails for $5.27 per 44" wide panel over at You could turn it into throw (toss) cushions, decorate a skirt/blouse/apron/purse/book bag/etc, cut out the cloth paper dolls pair them with an equal sized backing, stuff them, and transform them into actual tiny dolls or even brooches.

You could snip them out for use on cards, scrapbook pages, and other paper craft projects. Frame one or more squares and use them as decorative art. You could even cut the panel into two rows of four squares and sew the two together into a small table runner for use at a potluck, ethnic foods gathering, Thanksgiving table, or other festive meal.

Of course, as fabric collectors the globe over know, you can  always just buy some of this fantastically sweet vintage paper doll patterned cloth and enjoy it exactly as is, too.

While I'm happy to have stumbled upon such a splendidly precious fabric to share with you all (and add to my craft supplies wish list!), I'm still on the prowl for that mysterious line of figure shaped children's books. Should they happen to ring a bell with anyone, please don't hesitate to let me know.

In the meantime, every now and then when a  new keyword combination springs to mind (or flicker of a memory that might reveal another clue), I'll keep hunting through sites like Flickr, Amazon, AbeBooks, and Google, in the hopes that these fun children's storybooks from the earliest days of my youth will spring up once more.

May 26, 2011

Remembering the invaluable work of photographer Dorothea Lange

Day 146 of Vintage 365


To call Dorothea Lange's photographs incalculably meaningful pieces of world history, would scarcely begin to convey the degree of importance that this pioneering photographer's work captured for all the world to see.

Professionally trained in New York and taught by well known photographer Clarence Hudson White (other famed students of whom include Paul Outerbridge, Margaret Bourke-White and Ralph Steiner), Lange apprenticed with several photography studios before opening up her own portrait studio in 1918 on the other side of the country in San Francisco, which proved to be quite successful for her.

As the years rolled on however and the Great Depression hit the US with an intensity unlike any other economic crisis the US had ever faced, Dorothea begin venturing out of the comfortable confines of her portrait studio and on the streets, populated as they now were with a great many folks whose lives had been turned upside down my the financial nightmare America was swept up in.

Lange's honest, at times gritty, completely captivating photographic studies of unemployed, homeless and various other downtrodden people quickly caught the eye of other local photographers and was responsible for her becoming employed with the Federal Resettlement Administration.

Together with her second husband (Paul Schuster Taylor), Lange travelled across America documenting with great skill, the startling realities that so many were struggling greatly with during the Depression. From rural farmers to migrant workers, throughout the 1930s Dorothea turned her lens on many of the poorest and lest remembered (by the government of the day) people in America at the time.

Lange's haunting images, which showed men, women and children of all ages, were instantly recognized for their startlingly earnest portrayal of life for those on the out and out. They were distributed free to newspapers right across the US and quickly became some of the best known photographs of the Great Depression.

{This short two minute YouTube video shows a wonderful selection of Dorothea Lange's Depression era photographs set against a lovely tune that elegantly helps to highlight the impactful-ness of these now timeless images.}


Of all the photographs Dorothea Lange captured during her lifetime, perhaps none is as well known – nor heart wrenching - as her image "Migrant Mother", which depicts 32 year old Florence Owens Thompson and two of her children. In the image we see Florence's incredibly concerned looking face, whereas those of her two young kids are turned away from the camera as they lean sorrowfully into their mother's shoulders.

Now an icon of the era, this image perfectly captures the grief and hardship that so many endured during the 1930s. In an interview that Lange gave in 1960 she is quoted as saying of Florence, "She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields, and birds that the children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food. There she sat in that lean-to tent with her children huddled around her, and seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me. There was a sort of equality about it."

And indeed, through Dorothea Lange's work there was a definitive equalizing of humankind. She didn't set out to stage life, she aimed to capture it in all its raw and brutal honesty, as though seen through the very eyes of those who lived and suffered, survived and somehow kept going during the 1930s.

For Lange, her images were never about garnering fame or fortune (as so poignantly evident by the fact the she gave up her Guggenheim Fellowship award, which she received in 1941, so that she could photograph the forced evacuation of Japanese immigrants on US soil following the attack on Pearl Harbor), she sought to preserve the hardships of time and made no bones about using a critical, bitingly realistic eye as she did so.

Today, May 26th, was the date on which in 1895 Dorothea Lange was born, and as such I wanted to stop and set aside some time to remember the life (she passed away in 1965 at the age of 70) not only of this superb documentary photographer herself, but of all those she captured on film during her career.

With a lens, Lange froze time, ensuring that both people of the day and many generations to come would have an eye-opening look at the less than glamorous side of life during the bleakest days of the mid-twentieth century.

Thank you, Dorothea, for each photograph, every life you preserved on film, every bit of history your excellent work ensured would never be forgotten. You were a gifted photographer, incredible documentary creator, and a wonderfully caring human being; the world is a better, more informed place because you were a part of it.

May 25, 2011

1940s Lemon Blossom Cake is the perfect garden party fare

Day 145 of Vintage 365

Few colours call to mind spring's glorious beauty like cheerfully pretty sunshine yellow. It's a hue found on everything from baby chicks to daffodils, freshly churned butter to rows of cupped, gorgeous tulips at this fine time of year.
Just as few colours are as redolent of spring as chipper yellow, so too are few flavours better suited to this season as lemon. This immortally timeless fruit has a crisp tanginess that lends itself splendidly to everything from hollandaise sauce to seafood risottos, and which works especially well in desserts.
Think fruit tarts, meringue pies, bar cookies, ice cream and sorbets, even candy (lemon drops, for example) - all can be jazzed up by the inclusion for a little lemon juice, peel, fruit slices, or extract. All of these sweet treats certainly shine when lemon is involved, but we couldn't possible chat about citrus desserts without mentioning lemon cake.
Light, airy-as-a-puffy-cloud layers of white cake paired with lemon frosting is a dish worth of special occasions and everyday meals alike. The recipe below is a vintage gem that sounds positively delicious and well suited to festive spring tables of all sorts.

{This classic and utterly delicious sounding Swans Down Flour Lemon Blossom cake comes by way of Look Homeward, Harlot on Flickr. Click here for a larger version of this appealing citrus cake recipe.}

The moment I first read this lovely Lemon Blossom Cake recipe, I was struck by what a perfect dessert it would make for a garden party table. You could serve it on a plate surrounded by sugared (edible) flowers (such as food grade violets or rose petals) or slices of preserved or candied lemon, generous wedges cut for each of your guests to savour.
If lemon is one of those tastes that you instantly associate with spring or summer too, why not bake up this scrumptious 1950s double layer cake for your next party, bridal/baby shower, or Sunday night dessert?

May 24, 2011

Such a splendidly pretty 1950s purple polka dot dress


Day 144 of Vintage 365


Sometimes ones spies a dress that is precisely "them" in so many ways. The colour, the tailoring, pattern, embellishments, even the very seams and hems themselves seem to be calling your name, however the dress itself is not your size (or sometimes it is, but once tried on, your beloved frock simply doesn't look right on you, no matter what angle you gaze at it longingly from) or its leagues out of your price range.

As vintage fashionistas, chances are we've all encountered this situation many times. I do on just about a daily basis! There are so many stellar vintage and vintage reproduction dresses out there, but - as we all know - only so many of them are ever going to be destined to wind up in our own personal wardrobes.

Recently while scouting around etsy for something quite entirely unrelated, I came upon this splendidly sweet 1950s purple polka dot dress, and it just about took my breath away.


The styling is youthful, wonderfully classic, and enchantingly feminine. Drop waists, like the one here, can tricky to pull off sometimes, but if you have a taller figurer (and/or abs of steal), this look can be downright bewitching.

This dress however, strikes me as less vixen and more girl-next-door ready for a spring social or day of shopping in the big city.

Its short sleeves, elegantly squared neckline, breezy full skirt, and lightweight fabric would make it ideal for a bounty of spring and summertime events, and its slightly more generous cut (the bust fits up to 42 inches, the waist 35.5) means that it's available to those who aren't catwalk supermodels models (and really, how many of us are?!) .

While this playful dress is comprised of head-to-toe purple, it doesn't come off as garish or hard to wear in the slightest. The softer tones, girly polka dots, and swingy skirt makes this wonderful vintage frock an absolute joy to look at - and, I'd thoroughly imagine, wear.

It has a lot of life left in it still, by the look of things, and let me tell you, it is certainly beckoningly my name! Alas though, it’s not the right size (too large). Yet I found it to be too marvelous to pass by unmentioned, and therefore thought  that perhaps it could find a loving home with one my wonderful readers.

Available for $70.00 from etsy seller The Vintage Studio (who offers international shipping), this is one of those fabulous 1950s dresses that deserves to be purchased and treasured, but still very much worn and enjoyed.

May 23, 2011

Enter to win three gorgeous pendant necklaces from Know Your Onions

In celebration of Victoria Day here in Canada, I thought it was high time we had another giveaway on Chronically Vintage (holidays do tend to naturally equate themselves well with gifts after all!).

Recently I was contacted by a talented woman (Jayne) from the UK who runs a seriously interesting line of jewelry products by the rather fascinating name of Know Your Onions (for those on this side of the pond who may not be - as I previously wasn't - familiar with the expression "know your onions", it's a British phrase that means to be knowledgeable or experienced about, or in, in a particular subject).

To be honest, I'm contacted by a fair number of jewelry designers on a regular basis, yet when I decide to do a giveaway, I like to partner with artisans and companies that stand out from the pack in some regard, and for Know Your Onions does just that - thanks in large part to the engagingly unique, heirloom quality look of the line's intriguingly lovely pieces.

Crafted in slate and ivory hued resin, these pieces feature images with an etched looking design that instantly evokes an old fashioned charm, yet also manages to seem very current and on trend. Jayne cites the classic art of scrimshaw as one of the key influences behind what led her to create these pieces and upon seeing the items in the Know Your Onions line, one instantly sees a similarity between these (entirely animal friendly) resin pieces and the famous whale boning carvings of yesteryear.

Amongst the goods up for offer in the Know Your Onions line, one finds bangles, brooches and pendant necklaces, each of which is available in a wide array of seriously charming designs.

From a delightfully fun vintage tattoo inspired sailor girl brooch to a whimsical peacock feather patterned bracelet, the jewelry items in this line offer up an understated, immensely wearable allure and glamour that makes them terrifically easy to pair with a myriad of vintage and modern looks alike.

For the past week I've had the pleasure of wearing one of Know Your Onion's pendant necklaces (which, as someone with a fierce allergy to nickel - and thus a need to avoid a lot of jewelry that isn't free of this pesky metal - I am over-the-moon happy about, because it's entirely free of any metal components, being strung on a black that ribbon that is so gentle and soft on the skin you forget you're wearing it entirely), and must say – unbiasedly - that it's become my new favourite necklaces.

The ivory pocket watch pendant - which instantly telegraphs a sense of both steampunk chic and stunning vintage elegance - is substantial, yet not heavy or straining on the neck. It lays beautifully on one's skin and has a pleasant natural coolness to it that makes it especially lovely to sport now that we're heading in the scorchingly hot days of summer.

The ivory and black finish of this pendant makes it an instant neutral that pairs well with a vast number of colours and fabric choices.

I tried it out with everything from a vintage black and pink floral print dress to a rusty pumpkin hued fitted t-shirt and it looked fantastic with each colour - and pattern - I wore (in fact, I think I'd be hard pressed to find a shade this pendant clashed with!). Once tied securely, the silk cord stayed done up all day long and the pendent did a terrific job of remaining in place (I don't recall it flipping over once).

Perhaps above all else though, it looked seriously gorgeous. Banish any preconceived notions you might have about resin jewelry being best suited for middle schoolers or looking too twee from your mind. This pendant, which has an almost antique porcelain look to it, is seriously fashionable, wonderfully grown up, and more elegant than a room full of royals.

As such, I'm bubbling with happiness about the fact that I have a prize pack of three splendidly beautiful, delightfully vintage inspired Know Your Onions pendant necklaces (worth £65.00/approx. $105.00 US) to giveaway to one very lucky winner.




{The winner of this awesome three piece necklace set will win one of each of the – slate compass, ivory dragonfly, and slate heart - pendants shown above. These wonderfully attractive pendants are very nicely sized, the slate grey heart, for example, measures in at 78mm H x 59mm W.}


If you'd like to enter for your chance to win (and, I assure you, you do - these pendants are seriously stellar!), you've got five easy ways to so.

1.) Post a comment below about your favourite item from Know Your Onions line of chicly beautiful resin jewelry.

2.) Post about this giveaway (be sure to include a link back to this announcement post) on your own blog, telling your readers about this fun contest. Once you’ve written about the giveaway, come back here and let me know you’ve done so by leaving a comment with a link back to your post.

3.) Add Chronically Vintage to your blog roll (or other area of your site/blog where you list some of your favourite blogs) – or mention if you’re already doing so. Stop by to let me know in the comment section that CV’s on your blog roll, and you’ll gain another entry for the contest.

4.) Become (or let me know if you already are) a Google Follower of Chronically Vintage (see the right hand side bar to join), then take a moment and leave a comment saying so.

5.) Spread the good word about this contest via Twitter or Facebook. Again, be sure to jot down a comment letting me know you've done that.

Everybody is welcome to enter in however many of the five ways they wish, just be sure that you let me know about each entry in a separate comment, to better enhance your chances of winning (four comments for example, would give you four entries into the contest, thus four potential chances to win!). Please remember to post a separate comment for each entry!


This giveaway is open to participants from around the world (I've received the pendants from Jayne already and will be sending them on the lucky winner personally), and will run until 11:59pm EST on Sunday June 29th.

The winner will be drawn (using a random number generator) the following day, contacted directly (via email and/or through a blog comment on their site) and announced shortly thereafter in a Chronically Vintage post.

As well, starting today (June 23rd) and running until June 30, 2011, Chronically Vintage readers can take advantage of a wonderful 15% discount on all Know Your Onions pieces purchased from the Know Your Onions website. To avail of this great discount, enter coupon code vintage upon check out and 15% will automatically be whisked away from your total.

I want to thank Jayne for the opportunity to partner with Know Your Onions for this excellent giveaway. Her pieces are precisely the kind of vintage influenced, skilfully handcrafted jewelry (Jayne has a professional background in textile design and the ceramic industry, which instantly shines through in her exquisite pieces) that I - and I know a lot of my readers - utterly adore. I will cherish my Victorian pocket watch necklace forever - and know that it will be of the most frequently worn items of jewelry I own.

Massive thanks as well to everyone who enters this fabulous blog giveaway, I wish you the best of luck and can't wait to bestow this marvelous trio of pendants on one of my readers!

Happiest Victoria Day wishes, my fellow Canadians!

Day 143 of Vintage 365


The history of today's celebration dates back to the time of Queen Victoria of England, whose name lends itself to this May holiday, however for most Canadians Victoria Day is less about the monarchs of Britain and more about kicking off the immensely long awaited beginning of summer.

Now, granted we're still about a month away from technically hitting summer (on the calendar at least), but in many places across the country, the weather has finally perked up to the point where barbequing, picnicking, boating, strolling on the beach, and oodles of other delightful outdoor activities are enjoyably doable once more.

Canada has a relatively low number of national holidays (let alone ones that take place in the warmer months), so as the May long weekend draws near, it's not uncommon to find a general spirit of happiness has washed over canucks in every corner of the country. Usually spring is in full swing, the risk of snow is just about gone (does it ever really leave for us here though? Winking smile ), and folks have slipped back into their warm weather threads.

Traditionally this wonderful long weekend, which - with a little luck - will be a splendidly toasty one - is a favourite amongst those who love to camp and can get the time away from work to spend two or three days under the stars, a tent as their roof, s'mores as diner, and plenty of merriment on the bill for the whole trip.


{Whether you like to bring everything and the kitchen sink on your Victoria Day outdoor adventures - like this charming 1950s family - or prefer to simply slip down to the lake with a single picnic basket in hand, few things compare to finally being able to spend time under the Canadian sun again! Vintage photo via Captain Geoffrey Spaulding on Flickr.}

For some, Victoria Day might be the first time of the year they've fired up the grill, ready to fill their backyard (if not the whole street) with the intoxicatingly delicious scent of food cooking over a flame in the great outdoors.

Others still may head off to their cabins/cottages (particularly here in Ontario, where there's a large number of cottage owners), take a quick road trip, visit a favourite national park, catch up on DIY projects around the house, throw a block party, or simply kick back in their favourite lawn chair (or hammock) and savour the simple joy of having three marvelous days off from the grind of work.

The mister and I fall into the later group this year (much as I wish I could have been out camping, it just wasn't in the cards), and we're spending this weekend embracing the immensely welcome warmth of late May, a cool drink in our hands, the kitty napping angelically in the vibrant morning light, and a selection of our favourite Canadian songs (vintage, retro and present) wafting around the room as we celebrate the unofficial start of summer 2011.

Whatever you've got on your itinerary for today, I wish you an utterly fantastic Victoria Day (or simply a marvelous Monday, if you're not in Canada) filled with equal measures of relaxing tranquility and sunshine covered excitement!

May 22, 2011

The lives of vintage items before they reach you

Day 142 of Vintage 365


The second half of May might seem like a rather odd time to suddenly wax poetically about the smell of a wood fire, but that's precisely what I'm in the mood to do this crisp, buttercup sunshine kissed morning.

You see, a few days ago a small parcel containing vintage recipe booklets (aka, cookery pamphlets) I'd ordered online arrived and the moment I tore open the bubble envelope, I was greeted with the unmistakably sweet, soothing, instantly recognizable scent of a wood fireplace (I'd even go so far as to say that the scent was distinctly that of hickory wood, but as I don't profess to be an absolute expert on smoky odours, I'll simply call it a robustly scented wood smoke).

The items themselves are in wonderful condition, especially given their very fragile nature and age. I like to close my eyes and picture that they've been stored loving for the past several decades in a country farm kitchen, on a shelf near an old wood burning cast iron bot belly stove, taken down every now and then when their owner needed a time-honoured dish for a church potluck, baby shower, or anniversary supper.

I see  her as being a charmingly sweet women in her 70s or 80s, soft white curls framing her sweet-as-a-baby-doll round face, a beloved, well worn apron covering her handmade dress, named something sublimely grandmotherly like Mae or Elsie.


{I can't help but imagine that it was a deeply beautiful vintage wood burning cook stove like this splendid example, which comes by way of 7thswan on Flickr, that produced the tell-tale scent my "new" cookbooks are imbued with.}


In Elsie's house that same scent of good old fashioned wood smoke had permeated everything, from the patchwork quilt on her four post bed to the lace curtains she'd hung up on the sitting room windows back in 1952.

It would be stronger - more heady - in the winter, but always there, even on the toastiest of August afternoons, when the stove was turned off, diner coming instead from the incomparably fresh vegetables she'd picked from her verdant garden earlier in the afternoon, her beloved collie Annabelle trailing her around the rows of butter lettuce, plump radishes, and ready-to-tumble-from-the-vine heirloom tomatoes.

Of course, I'll never know the true back story of these simple, wonderfully charming recipe booklets, nor where - or when - they picked up the delightful wood smoke perfume they came packaged with. In collecting and buying vintage and antique items we so often are in the dark when it comes to the lives these pieces have owned before they became our own.

I don't create quaint little tales for every yesteryear item I get the joy of adding to my collection, but any time one arrives with a distinct (pleasant!) scent, I can't help but let my mind spin creative stories of the people, places and years that that something I now call my own were an important part of.

In collecting and treasuring vintage pieces, do you also find yourself, my sweet dears, captivated by thoughts of the people who possessed those treasures before you? (Whether they smell, soothingly, of decades worth of fireplace smoke or not Smile)

May 21, 2011

Bright and cheerful summer dresses from 1948

Day 141 of Vintage 365


Once long ago in a time before incessant text messaging, countless Real Housewives shows (you know, back in those days when more housewives actually lived up to their names and looked after their homes and families instead of starting cat fights for living), and Starbucks locations on every corner, a department store chain by the name of Eatons presided over Canada from coast to shining coast.

For a time Eaton's (the official name of which was the T. Eaton Co. Limited) was the largest department store chain in this country, with a history stretching all the way back to its humble Toronto roots in 1869.

During the many decades Eatons called Canada home, it was as commonplace and beloved as Sears (perhaps even more so in some parts of the country), and it produced many fine, wonderfully image rich catalogues over the years (before the chain went bankrupt around the start of the 21st century, that is).

It's from one such vintage catalogue, specifically the summer 1948 edition, that today's image originally hailed. On this bright, lively page we see three young women sporting dress styles that were popular that season.

Each one in markedly distinct from the other, and yet they all share in common similar traits, too, such as mid-calf length hems, short sleeves and vibrant colours.


The cotton candy pink and black dress on the left hand side telegraphs a charmingly peasant/ethnic vibe. The two piece skirt and matching blouse combo in the centre (worn by a young woman that I can't help but think resembles the modern day comedian Sarah Silverman a tad) is somewhat more formal (I could so easily imagine a young mom popping over to the weekly PTA meeting in it), yet still very summery and playful (thanks to that vivid daffodil yellow shade).

And last but not least, the third dress, with it's square shoulders and distinctive black bow at the collar, is a riot of pretty rainbow colours that instantly bring to mind a traveling carnival.

Each of these looks came it at under $6.00 and would have been relatively affordable options for Canadian women of 1948. I find something to like in all three dresses, yet I think that the chevron patterned "Gibson Girl" frock on the right, bursting with feel-good candy colours, that is my personal favourite.

While sadly Eatons department stores are no longer a part of the Canadian landscape, thanks to terrific vintage images like this catalogue page (which comes by way of Old Catalogs on Flickr) memories of this classic retailer, and a delightful dose of 1940s summertime wardrobe inspiration alike, can live on for vintage fashion lovers to draw oodles of sartorial inspiration from.

May 20, 2011

For me the scent of spring 2011 is sweet almonds

Day 140 of Vintage 365


Almonds, or more precisely the flavour of almonds, has been on my mind lately and I have my husband to thank for that.

You see, after telling me for years about a scrumptious almond beverage syrup that he grew up drinking in Italy called Orzata, we tracked down a bottle recently and I got to try this marvellously tasty sweet treat for the first time.

Imagine the scent of almond extract, the flavour of marzipan swirled with maraschino cherries, and the smooth drinking of a milkshake, and you'll have a decent approximation of what Orzata is like.

However, as this very moreish treat is anything but low in calories - or probably very easy on the ol' teeth! - I've been looking for other ways to get my alluring almond fix ever since.

One (albeit inedible) product that I came upon this week that I think fits that bill to a tee, is called Amande Sweet Almond and Honey Foam Bath Soap.



Aside from the fact that this silky liquid soap promises to smell enchantingly of sweet almonds, I'm very much smitten with its fantastically vintage looking packaging. From the curvy, almost art deco era font to the beautifully illustrated bundle of almonds and blossoms, there is much to adore about both the product and the package at work here.

Featuring an artificial color and preservative-free formula (perfect for those like myself with super sensitive skin), this gentle cleansing milk is perfumed like rich honey and earthy, tantalizingly sweet almonds, while being pH neutral and free of animal testing.

Available in a 400ml bottle for $27.99 from online retailer Touch of Europe, Amande Sweet Almond and Honey Foam Bath Soap is manufactured by the L’Amande Marseille line, which has been producing quality cosmetics and soaps in Europe for over a century now.

While that price tag is certainly a bit on the steep side for a bottle of soap, I can't help but think that the chicly sophisticated packaging and artwork of this container helps ease some of that sticker shocker, while the 400mls of cleansing milk will ensure that you and your bathtub are scented ever-so-beautifully like almonds for many weeks to come.

Not to mention, that it’s the perfect thing to smell anytime your own craving for sugary almonds strikes! Smile

May 19, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mr. President

Day 139 of Vintage 365


With the recent History Channel miniseries about the life and times of the illustrious Kennedy family, titled (aptly) "The Kennedy's", JFK has likely been on a more peoples' minds than usual this spring.

Though I don't profess to be an expert on all things Camelot and am not watching the series very closely, I do happen to know that today was the date, in 1962, when Marilyn Monroe serenaded president John. F. Kennedy's with her sultry, almost haunting, and now rather infamous rendition of Happy Birthday.


A great deal has been written - an even greater deal speculated - over the years regarding the turbulent connection that JFK and Marilyn shared, and while perhaps they will be the only two souls who ever really know what transpired between them, there's no denying the fact that they definitely had a relationship.

Both of these mid-twentieth century figures died young under strange circumstances. Both were powerful, rich, successful, cunning and aloof, and it is perhaps these commonalities that drew the 35 president of the United States to one of the most alluring and sought-after actresses and sex-symbols of all time.

In Marilyn's version of the classic birthday tune, she added the words, "Thanks, Mr. President for all the things you've done, the battles that you've won, the way you deal with U.S. Steel, and our problems by the ton, we thank you so much."

Though on the surface these verses may seem like a friendly patriotic nod to Jack's accomplishments, I cannot help but sense that perhaps she was, in her own not-so-subtle way expressing her gratitude to him for the time they'd shared together.

While 49 long years have passed since Happy Birthday had the words "Mr. President" tacked onto it publically by a titillating dressed Marilyn Monroe, the impact that this performance had on the American public has ensured that it remains as much in the spotlight five decades on as it did on that warm May night in 1962 when two of the era's most famous names shared knowing glances across a dark room at Madison Square Garden.

May 18, 2011

1950s Peach Blossom Salad is just the ticket for warm weather meals

Day 138 of Vintage 365


Perhaps no other category of vintage food is more mocked, scrutinized and talked about than salads. From gelatinous concoctions filled with everything from shrimp to horseradish, bananas to peanuts, to ingredient combinations that would likely make today's most daring foodie quickly dart an eyebrow upwards, it's fair to say that while the rap vintage salads has gotten isn't entirely warranted, it does make a fair bit of sense.

However, just because a dish veers from our current nom, doesn't mean it doesn't have the potential to be delicious. While there are certain vintage salad recipes I've stayed away from like the plague (sorry, but anything involving jellied meat or seafood is just does not float my culinary boat!), I've very much enjoyed experimenting with salad recipes culled from cookbooks of the 30s, 40s and 50s over the last several years.

Some have been hair-raising experiences, others became instant favourites, and a good many simply got folded into my mealtime reportraire , to be brought out particularly when the weather starts to heat up and a stuffy, air conditioning (stove vent-less) kitchen suddenly becomes akin a Amazon rain forest.

Recently while bopping about Flickr, I spied a vintage salad recipe that practically screams "1950s" (and indeed, that's the fabulous decade it hails from). Comprised of considerably fewer ingredients than many old school salads, this fruit-featuring dish, with its ginger infused dressing, sounds rather lovely.

{Cheerfully hued 1950s Del Monte ad with Peach Blossom Salad recipe via vintage.kitten on Flickr. Click here for a larger version of this neat vintage recipe.}

Calling for several commonplace foods that many of us have on hand most of the time (canned peaches, marshmallows, celery, walnuts, etc), this sugar salad looks like a snap to toss together, while having the added pleasure of being one of those dishes that doesn't stand to break the bank.

I might swap the heavy cream in the dressing for light or even buttermilk (to shave off a few calories and grams of fat), but other than that, I think this recipe for Peach Blossom salad (how cute is that name?!) sounds rather tasty, filling and fun precisely as it is.

While marshmallows, maraschino cherries and canned peaches might not appear in the same dish on many menus today, I think that a homey, inviting salad like this deserves to resurrected and enjoyed again come those mind-bendingly warm days of summer, when one really doesn't want to do anything more labour intensive in the kitchen than turn the handle on a can opener and quickly whip up a pleasing meal for the whole family.

May 17, 2011

Such a terrifically lovely vintage inspired polka dot blouse

Day 137 of Vintage 365


May can be a truly marvelous month for fashionistas. Generally speaking we've cleared the wardrobe hurdles of autumn and winter (heavy coats, thick fabrics, snow-proof footwear), yet can still venture outside without melting more quickly than a popsicle left on on the hood of '57 Chevy in August.

This month, with it's moderate temperatures often means that coats (particularly during the daytime hours) are no longer necessary, however we still have the option of long or short sleeves, medium weight or light fabrics, closed or open-toed shoes.

Come May, I live for airy tops, swingy sundresses, cotton skirts, and wedge heels. I reach for pieces - precisely like the splendidly pretty lilac and white polka dot blouse below - that telegraph breezy, elegant warm weather style, allure and comfort.


This immensely nice vintage reproduction blouse hails from UK based etsy seamstress and seller Katy and The Happiness, is crafted from sheer chiffon (chiffon always feels so heavenly against the skin when a serene summer breeze blows through its weave and tickles your skin), features elbow length gathered sleeves, and a utterly delightful tie-neck bow at the collar.

Enchantingly perfect for the office, classroom, backyard, home, airplane, car, or just about any other casual to semi-formal setting you can envision, this marvelous polka dot blouse - which calls to mind beautiful yesteryear secretaries - retails for £50.00, and can be ordered in sizes 6-18 (European sizes 34 - 46).

I would sport this feminine, lightweight, versatile top in a heartbeat. It would pair superbly with pencil skirts, vintage jeans, high-waisted sailor shorts, and jumper dresses (to name but a few potential partners!), and become one of those beloved springtime vintage wardrobe pieces that May was born for! Smile

May 16, 2011

A 1940s take on Mediterranean inspired home decor

Day 136 of Vintage 365


As the seasons change, so too can one's sense of what they're drawn to when it comes to interior design. In the frigid depth of winter it's entirely natural to want to surround yourself with rich fabrics, saturated hues (such as darkly hued woods, paints, wallpapers), mountains of cushions, throw pillows and blankets, heavy drapes and solid pieces that even unshakable on even the most bittingly cold of January nights.

Come the brighter, toastier - perhaps even more cheerful - days of mid-spring however, one's mind might shift towards thoughts of airy open spaces, serene colours, and cool-to-the-touch materials that somehow manage to help take the edge of the sweltering wrath of July and August.

While many a modern interior designer may think that a rustically styled Mediterranean home is - on this side of the Atlantic – a new(ish) concept, as the charmingly wonderful below from 1948 attests, some of our yesteryear decor mavens were keen on channeling a distinctly southern European vibe, too.


Few design styles so perfectly capture the warm allure and timeless beauty of summer as easily - or effectively - as a Mediterranean inspired look. In this classic kitchen - which would in no way, shape or form seem out of place a new home today - fiery tomato red is tempered by serenely mellow green and soft blue tiles, snowy white window boxes and honey hued wood furniture.

A smattering of plates depicting grapes, playfully ruffled window dressings, and a simple crockery container of flowers all add to the rustic, yet still carefully curated, feel of this spacious, beautiful room.

I could so easily image the women - dressed in her delightful peasant inspired garb - in this photo (which hails from the July 1948 edition of Country Gentleman Magazine and come by way of saltycotton on Flickr) sitting down to shuck a bowl of just-plucked peas, sip frosty lemonade with her girlfriends, or play cards late into the night, those tall windows open all the way to let as much air circulate and cool the home as possible.

There is much inspiration to gleamed from this European inspired kitchen, no matter what season you feel like decorating in. The timeless colours, old world elements, and solid styling cues of this fantastic vintage Mediterranean kitchen make it a sure-fire hit any day of the year.

May 15, 2011

Happy 71st birthday, McDonald's restaurants!

Day 135 of Vintage 365


Few logos are more instantly recognizable the world over than the curving golden arches of McDonald's. Though this chain - the largest hamburger restaurant franchise in the world - has had more than its fair share of critics over the decades, there's little skirting around the fact that McDonalds has become as much a part of our culture as sliced bread, colour TV, and ATM machines.

What, you may ask, has me thinking about McDonald's today? Why, it's the fact that on this exact day in 1940, the first McDonald's restaurant opened its doors in San Bernardino, California. Who would have predicted back then that what began as a humble family owned burger joint (started by Mr. Patrick McDonald and his sons Maurice and Richard) at the dawn of one the most turbulent decades in American history (due primarily to WW2) would go on to become one the biggest fast food chains of all time?

Part of the success of McDonald's can likely be tied to the fact that the two McDonald brothers introduced a concept called the "Speedee Service System" in 1948 that would prove to be the forerunner of most modern day fast food restaurants.

Noting that the bulk of their profits were coming from hamburger sales, the brothers decided to close down the carhop element of their restaurants and instead create a streamlined drive-through system that allowed customers to pull up to a menu board and quickly place their order from the convenience of their vehicle.

{Photo of one of the earliest McDonalds restaurants, which was located in Des Plaines, Illionis, taken during the 1950s. Image via The Daily Mail.}

While drive-thrus dot the landscape of North America and many other parts of the world today, in the mid-twentieth century, this concept was new and rather exciting, especially for a population that was, in the post-WW2 boom years, quickly becoming dominated by car owners.

Over the decades many things have changed about McDonalds (from mascots to menu options), however, certain elements like hamburgers, French fries, and those unmistakable golden arches have remained the same.

Nowadays McDonald's locations can be found in 119 countries around the world, which equates to a staggering 58 million customers being served everyday. While (due to needing to follow a very strict diet for medical reasons) I can't say as though I go McDonald's very often these days, like most of us, I certainly have numerous memories that took place at various McDonald's locations over the years.

As a youngster my family didn't eat out (let alone at fast food restaurants) very often. However I distinctly remember that when I was little, McDonalds would sometimes run a special in the summer when you could get a soft serve ice cream cone (vanilla, chocolate or swirl) for just twenty-five cents, and when that annual sale took place, we definitely piled into the AC-less car to grab a much needed frozen treat.

Perhaps it is the fact that McDonald's has been around for seventy one years now that continues to help explain its massive popularity. Low prices (one might argue more so in decades gone by), widely appealing all-American style food, and the reassuring element of knowing exactly what you were getting no matter which location you visited, all worked to cement McDonald's immense popularity and turn into one of the biggest mainstays of modern culture.

Whether you stop by for a Big Mac every week, haven't set foot in in a Mickey D's since Mayor McCheese and the Hamburglar were keeping Ronald company, or simply pop in every now and then, it's fun to take a moment and reflect on your own personal memories of one of the oldest chains of fast food restaurants in the world.

Happy 71st birthday, McDonalds, here's to many more years of burgers and smiling redheaded clowns to come! (Now, about bringing the McRib back on a permanent basis... :D)

May 14, 2011

Five great places to buy vintage cookbooks online

Day 134 of Vintage 365


There's something cyclic about collecting - or at least there is for me. I have a rather broad range of items that, given the time and budget, I could happily collect until the cows come home, however I've found that I grow certain parts of my overall array of collectibles in spurts. One moment I might be mildly obsessed with seeking items to add to my trove of Girl Guide and Girl Scout pieces, the next week I'm spending hours pouring over vintage hats on online.

Naturally many of things I actively gather are vintage. Clothing, magazines, sewing patterns and books are the key yesteryear items that I've been slowly acquiring a selection of over the past several years. Recently, I was bit again by a particular collecting bug again: my love of vintage cookbooks.

As someone who adores cookbooks of all eras (especially those that include personal commentary and/or historical information from the author), it's not all that much of a surprise that I'm smitten with old school cookery books. :)

My collection of these practical, highly engaging books is admittedly very, very modest in size, but that doesn't make it any less priceless to me. From itty-bitty promotional pamphlets to breezily written cook booklets that frequently feature wonderful mid-century illustrations and/or photographs, to hefty classic culinary tomes, my eclectic tastes mean that I'm open to the possibility of collecting just about any sort of vintage (think those from the era spanning 1920 - 1965) cookery related book.

When it comes to sourcing vintage cookbooks, second hand shops, relative's kitchens (or attics!), etsy and eBay are all very good, very logical places to start looking, but if you've presently exhausted those sources or are looking for even more spots to track down vintage cookbooks, the following five websites are all splendid places to find thousands upon thousands of meals worth of diverse vintage recipe books.

-Old Cookbooks: This site definitely has one of the biggest and best selections of used, rare and vintage cookbooks and booklets online, stocking a very impressive collection of over 15,000 titles that are just ready for you to take one or more home. Here you can search by a really good array of subjects spanning holidays to regional cookbooks, all of which are updated frequently.

-Vintage Cookbook: Many topics are covered amongst the wonderful antique and vintage titles listed on this charming site, including children's cookbooks and those featuring recipes from famous restaurants and special places (they even has a tiny selection of the book cookbook accessory, vintage aprons!).

-Abebooks seller Vintage Cookbooks: Housing more books than anyone could read in a thousand lifetimes, the second hand book site is one of the absolute best spots to find used books online, and seller Vintage Cookbooks is an excellent place within Abebook's walls to track down recipes from the past.

-Advertising Cookbooks: According to the homepage of Advertising Cookbooks they "specialize in vintage and modern advertising cookbooks, those recipe booklets, pamphlets and brochures published by food manufacturers to promote their products. Our vintage cookbooks appeal to those who love good home cooking as well as to those interested in collecting cookbooks." Here you can search by product (such as pasta or bacon, or by well known brands including Campbell's, Jell-O, and Pillsbury), making finding exactly what you're looking for all the easier and more enjoyable.

-Cookbookery: With more than 30,000 vintage and modern cookbooks in stock, this immensely well stocked website is truly like a candy store for vintage cookbook collectors! With reasonable prices, a marvelous selection of old school recipe books, and even the ability to request a specific title, this great site is an absolute must for anyone with a passion for vintage cookery books.


The vast majority of the cookbooks for sale on these sites are long out of print. In fact, generally speaking, only a few (massively popular) vintage cookbooks (such the 1950 classic Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook pictured above) have been reproduced in more recent years, meaning that the as time goes on, more and more yesteryear cookbooks, recipe booklets, and promotional pamphlets will become rarer and harder to track down.

This thought - paired with a general love of cooking - is one of the biggest driving forces behind what beckons me to collect old cookbooks. As well I am compelled to give old cookbooks a home because of the fact that they're amazing slices of time and history, as viewed through the eyes (or perhaps more aptly, the stomachs!) of those who cooked for the generations that came before us.

Whether you have three or three hundred vintage cookbooks, their allure is undeniable. You can put them to practical use and try out the recipes they house (while some old school recipes are very eyebrow-raising indeed, others are timeless masterpieces that deserve a place in our modern kitchens) or simply house them on your bookshelf to read and enjoy for their gastronomical history and appeal.

As I'm submerged in a wave of vintage recipe book collecting at the moment, I couldn't let another day go by without sharing these five wonderfully handy websites with all of you. If you're also a fan of collecting vintage cookbooks, what are your favourite spots to source these terrific slices of the culinary past from?

May 13, 2011

Be a summertime vintage streaker!

Day 133 of Vintage 365


…Of your hair that is!

Fear not, this isn't a post about skinning dipping or getting your thirty seconds of fame by sprinting across a sports field in your birthday suit, instead it's devoted to an entirely darling vintage magazine page that showed fashionable ladies of 1954 how to streak their hair at home.

While these days it's considerably more common to include several high and/or lowlights in your hair when you streak it, during the mid-50s one bold, prominently noticeable streak was what daring gals adorned their locks with.

I honestly love this look. It's equal parts brash and beautiful, lively and completely lovely. Long before Stacy London's trademark grey streak appeared on TV screens the world over, ladies of the fifties were daring to dye (or bleach) a strip of their hair a dramatically different shade than the rest of their head.

If we jump ahead six decades it's not entirely uncommon to see this same style of streaking - do in part to the looks sported by some rockabilly and psychobilly loving women. However, it's a look that I think more vintage loving lasses could easily and very successfully pull off.

Streaks (which are all about the dramatic contrast of high and dark hair colours) can work on hair of almost any length and compliment many different styles splendidly. Indeed, if you're a fan of rolls (Victory and otherwise), a strategically placed streak can truly look amazing when put to work in a pin-up worthy roll or two!

{Delightful vintage magazine page via Charm and Poise on Flickr. Click here for a larger version.}


The instructions on this page from the July '54 issue of Better Living magazine - complete with sweetly elegant photos - are incredibly straightforward and simple sounding. Which is great, should you wish to save yourself a salon trip bill by adding adding a zippy streak to your own hair at home this spring or summer.

And why not? As the caption below the "finished result" photo says (a streak is) "just good fun". It can be added to your hair in less than hour (when done with a home colouring kit), takes much less effort than a full dye job, is easy to colour over if you tire of it (or it doesn't turn out as desired), and is an instant accessory built into your hairdo all season long.

With those points in mind, I see no reason why we can’t all be streakers this summer! Smile

May 12, 2011

These gorgeous cherry print heels stir up happy childhood memories

Day 132 of Vintage 365


The sun whipped across our necks in long lashes, the dry dessert air smelled of sizzling concrete and honeysuckle, and the breeze felt as electric as every fan that was running at the moment in the whole town.

This is how I remember those toasty, endlessly long, wildly beautiful late afternoons and early dusks as my brother and I peddled our bikes (mine red, his blue) around the neighbourhood, gathering about-fall-at-any-moment cherries from the branches of neighbours (who knowing the fruit would go to waste otherwise, had given my family permission to help ourselves to it).

With buckets and plastic shopping bags dangling from our handlebars - much like plump burgundy spheres of fruit threating to tumble from the trees themselves - we'd pull to the side of the dusty alleyways, apricot light dancing around our sun-bleached hair - and grab as many cherries as our little fingers could.

I grew up in a land of orchards and history, old houses interspersed with small small backyard gardens that produced more fruit than a clan of bears could get through in a season. Much of this produce was picked and savoured, turned into pies, jams, eaten fresh, and put up for the winter in glistening rows of boiled-fresh Mason jars.

Though I can never quite decide which fruit holds the dearest memory in my mind, peaches and cherries - both of which I picked in great abundance - are two very close contenders.

It is because of these early memories of gathering cherries in the shade of Edwardian era homes, aging neighbours smiling at us from their porches, the feeling of fruit juice running down my wrists as I plunked another handful into my crimson stained bucket, that I am drawn - almost inherently - to items featuring images of cherries.

Thankfully, this love of one of the world's tastiest fruits meshes well with my adoration of vintage fashion, for now - as in decades gone by - cherries remain an endearingly popular motif for all manner of clothing and accessories.

These splendidly pretty shoes, which feature cherries in a much more understated and easy-to-pull off manner than many pin-up girl and vintage inspired fruit adorned pieces, are the footwear equivalent of my early cherry picking memories: playful, hardworking, and absolutely lovely.

Featuring a lofty (but still manageable) 4 inch heel, a sweet little cherry pattern set against a blushing cream background, ankle straps and flirty peep toes, these vintage inspired shoes are as timeless as they are beautifully elegant.

Presently on sale for $37.99 (down from $103.99) from online seller Retro Cuties, these deliciously pretty shoes (which are available in ladies sizes 5 to 12)  are the sort of classic pair that will see you through season after sun-kissed season, calling to mind your own beloved summertime cherry themed recollections.

May 11, 2011

An all-American classic: Baby Ruth Cookies

Day 131 of Vintage 365


It's interesting, you know, that two countries can (proverbially) be bunkmates, sharing a massive border, and yet certain products, brands, stores, fads, and foods never quite make it over from one side of the divide to the other.

Take for example candy bars. There are many, many candy (or as we tend to call them up here on the northern side of the 49th, chocolate) bars that were never distributed in Canada (or in some cases, not widely distributed). From Abba-Zabas to 5th Avenue bars, Zagnut to Clark Bars, plenty of delicious candy treats stayed happily on home turf in the good old US-of-A.

Of course there are certain sweets produced in Canada (think multi-coloured hard candy shelled chocolate Smarites and marvellously moreish Coffee Crisp bars) that have always been trickier to come in the States, too, but it's fare to say that the US definitely had (and still has) the upper hand when it comes to the sheer volume of different candy bars that are available to sugar craving citizens of its fine lands.

While acquiring previously only-in-the-States sweets is now considerably easier these days thanks to online purveyors of candy and US specialty foods, in years gone by a Canadian with a hankering for an American candy bar would have had three main options: go without, create your own version at home, or hop across the border and satisfy your sweet tooth.

For those on either side who had access to Baby Ruth bars (a delectable combination of chocolate-drenched peanuts, gooey caramel and toothsome nougat), today's feature recipe - which hails from 1942 - took an already extremely sugary treat and morphed it into an even sweeter one in the form of Baby Ruth Cookies.


This recipe (which comes via Estelle and Ivy on Flickr) sounds so good, it's all I can do not to order up a case of Baby Ruth bars, preheat the oven to 375 degree, toss on a vintage apron, and set to work baking up a storm.

Though it probably goes without saying that these scrumptious cookies are anything but healthy, I get the feeling that they'd be worth every last calorie. Perfect for a birthday spread, Halloween party, hostess gift, or merely when you've got a hankering for something intensely sweet and delicious, this great vintage cookie recipe is precisely what the dentist ordered :D

(And for my fellow canuck cooks - and other intonation bakers - who are itching to try this recipe but don't have any of these US chocolate bars at their local shop, fear not, you can buy Baby Ruth bars online here from UK based seller The Stateside Candy Company.)