May 31, 2013

Looking back at May 2013

The nineteenth century American poet and diplomat James Russell Lowell once said of the month we've just experienced that, "May is a pious fraud of the almanac". This strikes me as a bit harsh, but I can certainly appreciate the sentiment and see where Mr. Lowell was coming from.

May, that month in which we've been led to believe April's showers will give way to boundless fields of flowers and picturesque sunny days in not always the case. Or, conversely, sometimes it is - but in such abundance that you wonder if you overshot your alarm clock and woke up in August.

For the first half or so of the month, that was precisely the case here, as we slogged our way through numerous days of +31C temps and sunshine so brazenly bright you could all but get a tan just by thinking about.

The second half of the month proved more in keeping with the seasonal norm, and included a handful of much needed rainy days which helped welcome an abundance of greenery - as well as the beginning of tourist season - once more.

In many respects, it felt like a quick month as each day ticked by, yet as a whole it was a somewhat lengthy at times, too. Overall though, it was a pleasant enough month - certainly less stressful than the previous one and towards the end, I even felt well enough (following last month's surgery) to venture out a couple of times, one of which I blogged about here two days ago.

While I wouldn't say May was the most action packed month (phew!) on the home front, here in blog land things were buzzing up a storm (that reminds me of the immensely charming magazine cover from June 1954 pictured below), which was spurred on in no small part by the necessitated two week blogging hiatus after my surgery in April and my zeal to throw myself back into blogging big time!

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Some of the highlights of this past month for me included the return (after more than two years) of the popular Vintage Fashionista Friday series, an exploration of the role that nostalgia has played on my life and wardrobe, a fresh edition of Vintage This and That, a peak at the history of Cutex nail polish, and the super easy (and dirt cheap) way in which I store my stud earrings.

On the wardrobe front, I reviewed the latest dress I received from eShakti (it fared much better, I'm happy to say, than the previous two), sported an outfit comprised of numerous vintage pieces (including my dress itself) that I've received from treasured online friends, and traversed a wildly dangerous and incredibly narrow road to enjoy the view from Skaha Bluffs in my beloved Freddies of Pinewood overalls (a snap from which post appears below).

May ushered in an extremely exciting new chapter in Chronically Vintage's life when, mid-month, I put out my first ever official call for blog sponsors.

The response to this post has been wholly positive and very encouraging, and I'm pleased as punch to announce that I'll be collaborating with some seriously stellar sponsors in June and beyond. I'm always looking for further and/or future sponsors, so if you've been considering blog sponsorship here, I would absolutely love to hear from you anytime.

As we embark on the very last morning of May, I'm not entirely sure what June - the final month of spring - will entail for my day-to-day life. I don't have too many big plans, especially as I'm still recouping (and am in the midst of a massive flare-up of my one of my conditions right now, too), but I sense that barbeques, yard sales, walks on the beach, sundresses, and capri pants will be on the agenda for sure.

{Beautiful as a vintage bride, sweet as a popsicle, and as invigorating as the first late springtime dip in lake or sea, June has the potential to be a glorious month from start to finish, and I really hope that such will be the case this year. Image source.}

Much as with May, I've got a bevy of fun post ideas just bursting to appear here in June. Throughout the coming month, we'll be getting to know some of my new blog sponsors, chatting about 1950s eye make-up, taking a gander at some classic menswear pieces (in celebration of Father's Day), talking about how to throw a great ice cream sundae party, and I'll debut my first ever garment from Jitterbuggin, amongst numerous other topics.
James R. Lowell was right about May in that it can often be hard to predict, the weather unreliable (just ask most of Europe, where temps have been well below the seasonal norm in many countries as of late), and it's appearance a bit more of an idyllic mirage of how spring is supposed to look than what reality often serves up, but it is - and was - also a gorgeous, pleasurable, lighthearted month that smells of honeysuckle, lilacs and freshly mowed grass.

It's bare toes, the first bonfire of the season, camping trip filled weekends, picnics on the beach, and the making of joyful plans and dreams for the coming summer, which we'll hit before next month comes to a close. It might not always be the most reliable of months weather wise, but I love May and the one that we just experienced was certainly no exception.

Here's to the hope that June is every bit as lovely - if not more - for all of us!

May 29, 2013

A real mixed bag kind of day

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Outfit details

Navy blue 1940s feather adorned felt hat: Gift from Tony ♥
Pearl stud earrings: Claire's
Pearl necklace: Birthday gift from Tony ♥
1980s does 1940s dolman sleeve floral print rayon dress: etsy seller Dear Golden
Pink plastic rose stretch bracelet: Wal-Mart
Light blue 1940s gloves: Flea market in Vernon
Vintage navy blue purse: Thrifted
Nude on nude seamed stockings: eBay
White pumps: Payless
Lip colour: MAC Diva

Photography by Antonio Cangiano

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{I had no idea a whisp of bang hair had gone astray in these shots. Oh well!}

A few days ago, after more than six weeks of bed rest (initially from a flare-up with one of my conditions, then following my recent surgery on April 16th), I finally felt well enough to head out of the house for a little while. Cabin fever had set in something fierce, so a bit of a drive - and a change of scenery from our bedroom walls, lovely as they are - was in order.

Recently, Target stores have started setting up shop in parts of British Columbia. To date, the closest one to us in in the town of Vernon, which is located about an hour and a half away from Penticton (another Target is slated to open in Kelowna this summer, though Penticton itself doesn't have plans for one yet).

I'd always been intrigued by Target stores - or at least by tales of their wondrous offerings that I had heard from various friends in the States and those Canadians I'd known who had visited a Target while south of the 49th - and had been giddy with excitement and anticipation for Target to open up here in British Columbia at long last (they'd already launched locations in Ontario and elsewhere in Canada last year), so that's where we made a beeline for.

Tony and my mum had already been there once and were both woefully underwhelmed by the Canadian version of Target. Though this was sad to hear for sure, and I though completely believed their reviews, I wanted to see (and access) it myself in person. Well, let me just tell you, they were right and then some!

It’s not that the store itself isn't fairly big or decently stocked, it's just that their offerings scarcely differ from what you could find (often at much lower price points) elsewhere. The store itself was not overly well laid out in my opinion, nor was it bursting with merchandise (unless it was so small I accidentally missed it, they didn't even have a craft section), and there was nothing special or unique about their shopping experience.

Many of these newly founded Targets replace Zellers stores, most of which have shut their doors across Canada in recent years, and I think that like most people, I expected Target to smoke Zellers old offerings out the water. Far from doing so, for the most part I found myself thinking, "Hey, I actually liked Zellers way more!" (just as my mom did, too).

In my mind I'd dreamed about Target opening up and bringing with it oodles of US products that are hard, if not impossible, to find in Canada, at bargain prices. No dice. The items stocked on its shelves were akin to those one can find at other large Canadian retailers such as Winner, Sears, The Bay, Canadian Tire, and Real Canadian Superstore – often at better prices.

Target failed to bring its iconic Target-ness – the great deals and wide selection it’s well known for – up to these Canadian parts, and I believe that (especially outside large urban areas such as Toronto or Calgary) they will struggle to stay afloat in the long run because of it. As we were leaving the store, I heard an elderly chap remark to his wife that he'd "rather go to Wal-Mart any day”, a sentiment which Tony and I both feel perfectly sums up our take on Target, too.

The dreams I'd had for years of a Target shopping spree jam packed with awesome US items that were new to Canada, has been completely dashed – but at least there are still the good ol’ Targets in the States, and I like to think that I'll make it to one of those someday, red plastic cart bursting at the gills as I exist.

So while that was a bust for sure, the rest of our time in Vernon wasn't, I'm delighted to say. We hit a small flea market down by the railroad tracks that run near Swan Lake (yes, it really is called that), at which I bought the pair of vintage gloves seen in the outfit photos here today for just three dollars.

They're in great shape, and the seller could have easily asked more for them, but it was my luck that she didn't. I was already wearing a pair of white gloves which worked well with this dress, but I liked the look of these blue ones with it even more, so they were swapped in instead.

We also visited an indoor garage sale that was being held in a hotel ballroom (that was a definite first for me), but it was mostly just 1980s-present day children's toys, clothes, and household items - no vintage pieces or anything else that caught our eye.

Before calling it a day, we hit an antiques shop that I'd never been to before, but eagerly longed to for ages, called Blast From The Past Antiques. It proved to be, hands down, the best antique store I've visited to date anywhere in the Okanagan - so much so in fact, that I'm hoping to devote a post just to my trip there in the not-too-distant future.

Even though they don't sell usually vintage clothing (save, by and large, for some military uniforms, a little bit of jewelry and the occasional accessory - there was a fab pair of 1950s metal cat eye sunglasses there, which if it wasn't for my nickel allergy, I likely would have snapped up right away), this well curated shop is still a major winner in my books and I look forward to chatting more about it here soon.

We'd hoped to grab some outfit photos while in Vernon, but it was raining and that didn't happen, so we made our way back to Penticton and snapped a few on a charming little bridge down at Okanagan Lake, as the sun went back and forth from sunny to overcast and everything in between (as you can see from the variety of lighting in these shots).

l'm not going to lie to you, I'm not overly happy about how I look in these photos. I’ve far from recovered (from surgery) completely yet, and my face and body both look bloated/puffy, and riddled with pain (admittedly, this may be something I read in my own face more than others can see, knowing my good day faces from my bad day ones all too well).

My weight is also a tick higher than I'd like (the result of almost no physical activity for more than six weeks), but I've already altered my diet to try and shed a couple pounds, and hope that getting out more in the coming weeks will help in that regard, too.

No matter though, one isn't always able to bring their a-game all the time, and there are days when documenting the memories trump looking your thinnest, healthiest, or most awake, and this was certainly one of them for me.

So while Target was a letdown and I sure wish I looked better in these snaps, everything else about the day was awesome! Just getting to spend time in store that's jam-packed with vintage and antique collectibles, books, furniture, decor items, and myriad other collectibles put me in a flat out jubilant mood and was precisely what I needed after another long spell of constant bed rest.

It will still be a while more before I've recouped to my pre-surgery health levels, but a day out like this clearly shows I'm well on that path, which I'm thrilled about. All the more so because we're nearing ever closer to summer and I want to get out and enjoy as much of the gorgeous Okanagan summer weather as I possibly can - hopefully with another trip or two here and there to Vernon so that I can spend some time at Blast From The Past again!

May 27, 2013

Announcing the Spear of Summer Grass book giveaway winners

Happy Monday evening greetings, my dears, can you believe that we're already into the last week of May? Where on earth did this month zoom off to at the speed of light and then some?

Though there were some long moments for me, overall it was pretty darn speedy, very much including the last week, which included a giveaway post that offered up two copies of author Deanna Raybourn's captivating new novel A Spear of Summer Grass.

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This giveaway was a touch different that most that we've held here before, because it involved having two prizes (copies of the same book) to bestow on two lucky winners: one from Canada or America, the other from anywhere else in the world.

The North American winner will receive their copy directly from the publisher, the international winner will receive their from me (the publisher will be mailing it out to me very soon, and I in turn will send it to you as soon as it reaches me - that book will definitely be logging some major frequent flyer miles! :)).

Using a random number generator (separating the North American commenters from the international ones and drawing from the total number of comments in each of those two groups), the following two winning comments were selected.

North American winner: Jill from Tea with the Vintage Baroness

International winner: Erika from Swingin' it in vintage

Happiest congrats, ladies! I'm thrilled for you both and hope that you enjoy this lovely page turner that's set in 1920s Africa as much as I did. Please email me anytime with your mailing address so that I can pass it along to the publisher (for Jill) and post out the other copy (to Erika).

I really appreciate all of the comments that poured in for this fun giveaway - which, interestingly, was the first one we've held in more than four years of this blog's life for a book (I highly suspect it won't be the last though).

Fear not if your number was drawn this time around, I have (at least) three more giveaways slated for the coming summer months, so there will plenty of other chances for you to potentially land a great vintage related prize of your own in the coming weeks.

May 26, 2013

How I store my stud earrings

A place for everything and everything in its place has always been a guiding motto in my life. I love - one might even go so far as to say "crave" - organization and delight in finding storage solutions that range from plain and practical to fun and creative for all of my collections. I like to think that the approach outlined in this post falls into both of those categories.

Like approximately 10% of the population, I'm allergic to nickel (highly allergic), which means that all of the earrings I make or buy, have to be nickel-free. At various times in my life, these have been easier to find then others, but over the years I've amassed a wonderful little collection of earrings that I can safely pop in any time, anywhere without the slightest worry of a bad case of contact dermatitis breaking out.

As my collection of stud earrings in particular grew, I began to feel like I needed a better way to store them than the perforated metal earring storage hanger I'd bought several years back from Claire's (it's very cute, don't get me wrong, and I still use it to house some of my hoop and dangle earrings, it just wasn't the most convenient method of storing multiple pairs of studs).

At first I tried stringing them onto a long strip of twill, which looked cute, but wasn't overly practical (and eventually the twill began to break down and get little holes in it and removed and replaced the earrings time and time again).

Next I tried miniature ice cube trays - an idea I recalled reading on a beauty forum some years back - the only problem was, the wee ice cube compartments were so tiny, that (even having fairly small fingers) it wasn't always easy to fish the earrings out, or to see them all at once glance (unless they'd all been arranged facing upwards).

It was while I was cross stitching one afternoon last year that the idea struck me, why not use a tightly woven cross stitch cloth or similar fabric to house my stud earrings. Scurrying to the linen closet, I found just what I was looking for in the form of a cute pale blue woven cotton napkin I'd picked up for something like a dollar at a Fabric Land clearance sale a few years back.

A couple pairs in, and I instantly knew this was the stud earring storage method I'd been searching for!

As you may recall from posts such as this one, I've always been keen on organizing things in a rainbow pattern, which I did with some of the types of stud earrings that I have here. All of them were grouped like with like, regardless of colour, and are instantly visible (and super easily accessible) at a glance.

This woven napkin measures about 14 inches x 10 inches and even with quite a few pairs of earrings on it, still still plenty of room for my collection to grow and expand, as  you can see (and should it ever blossom beyond this napkin, I'll just start a second one).

When not in use, I fold the napkin into quarters (it could just as easily be rolled as well) and tuck into a tiny drawer in the counter of our en suite bathroom, where it takes up about the same about of space as a small stack of folded handkerchiefs at most (it's also super lightweight, which makes it an ideal way to take my stud earring collection with me while traveling).

I know that many of you love to collect and wear stud earrings as well, so I thought it was high time I shared this wildly easy, incredibly inexpensive, and massively quick (you can't beat that trio!) method of storing smaller sized earrings.

You could also use a woven fabric like this for dangly earrings as well, just be careful to space them out so that they aren't as prone to tangling, if you're planning on folding or rolling your napkin or piece of cross stitch fabric up.

As mentioned above, I still use my perforated metal earring storage hanger (pictured above), these days, however I reserve it for dangly and hoop earrings, as well as a a few necklaces and one of my favourite floral brooch/hair clips (which you may recall from this spring 2012 apple orchard outfit post).

If you've been trying to find the ideal approach to storing your stud and smaller sized earrings, I encourage you try this woven cloth method out. You could always take things a step further and attach some pretty ribbon, lace, sturdy rickrack, or seam bidding to the top of your fabric as well and then hang it as a decorative (and highly functional) way of displaying your earrings on a wall or the inside of a wardrobe/closet door as well.

So at long last my collection finally has a proper place when it can be seen and utilized in a glance, and I couldn’t be more pleased. Here’s to the hope that you enjoy many years of happy earring collecting and well organized storage now, too!

May 24, 2013

Flickr Favourites: May 24, 2013

{Elizabeth Arden 1948 ~ Captain Geoffrey Spaulding}

{Vintage button bouquet ~ whimsylove}

{1940s Ads - The Pink Bathroom ~ DominusVobiscum}

{Rolls of pastel washi tape ~ Holly Pickering}

{Vintage Flower Pin Lot ~ Picnic by Ellie}

{1930...beauties in pastels ~ x-ray delta one}

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

Warmth and light surround us once more. For most, the days of shiver-inducing winds and unendingly long feeling hours of winter darkness are fading into a distant memory. Summer is starting to round the bend, coming into sight like an endurance marathon running breaking across the horizon. It's a joyful time, a light-hearted period between the rains of early spring and the parched dog days of summer that makes one's soul gleeful and where the promise of many months of sunlight ahead is all one needs to smile.

A long-winded spring is not something that Canada is famous for. It often arrives late and surrenders to summer just a touch to easily. These days, where flowers bloom by the millions, breezes take on a toasty twinge once more, and the weather isn't quite so warm yet that you feel like you're on the cusp of melting, are amongst my very favourtite of the whole year. They're the springtime equivalent to that magic period of golden light and in-between temperatures that (if you're lucky) befalls one in late September and early October.

This is the season for full-skirted sundresses, mountains of strawberry shortcake, camping trips, first daring plunges into the lake (where the waters still feel far more arctic than Caribbean), barbeque feasts, and yard sale after gloriously fun yard sales. These enchantingly lovely days will not last long, and I'm well aware of that fact, which only makes me adorn, and yearn to get the most out of them, all the more.

Hard as it is to believe, there's only one more little week left in May. By this time next week, we will have already unshed in June, which - with any luck - will still be balmy and gentle for at least a little while longer.

Cherish these late spring days, delight in their jovial spirit, and run - don't walk - to some of those aforementioned yard sales this weekend! :)

May 22, 2013

Savouring spring at Skaha Bluffs (in my Freddies overalls)

Outfit details

Floral print scarf: L.C. Fashions consignment store
White plastic rose stud earrings: Claire's
Pink button front shirt: Costco
Vintage reproduction overalls (dungarees): Freddies of Pinewood
Wee little yellow wildflower tucked in my pocket: Mother Nature :)
Pink beaded stretch bracelets: Forever 21
Striped purse: Jones New York
Black 1940s style shoes: Thrifted (Salvation Army)
Lip colour: MAC Russian Red

Photography by Antonio Cangiano

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Last summer, in a post entitled The Intrepid Urban Explorer, I touched on the fact that I truly love to investigate and enjoy as much of the surrounding area as I possibly can. This hasn't been the only post in which this subject was raised, nor will today's be the last, I'm sure - especially when you're blessed to live a part of the world that is nothing short of breath-takingly beautiful and which always seems to offer up a new corner to explorer.

On a gloriously sunny Saturday a few days before I went in for my surgery (yes, I know, I've said almost the same thing in my last two outfit posts, too, but as I knew it would be several weeks afterwards before I'd be well enough to leave the house and take such snaps, I made sure to have a few, like today's photos, waiting in the wings to use in the weeks to follow), after a morning of garage saling both in Penticton and Kelowna, Tony and I decided to cap off the day by venturing to the outskirts of town and up a rather traitorous stretch of road.

If you've ever seen the TV show Ice Road Truckers: Deadliest Roads, picture the mind-blowingly narrow, straggly, precipice banked roads they traversed and you'll get a picture of just how dangerous the path we were on is. Lest you think I'm kidding, we have a medium sized sedan (not a huge car by any stretch of the imagination) and we could scarcely fit on the road, which I kid you not, is designed to somehow (miraculously) allow for two cars to inch past each other, one coming in either direction.

Not since I was a backseat passenger in my parents minivan on snowy winter evening trips up and down the Coquihalla Highway have I been so on the edge of my seat, muttering silent prayers of safety under my breath the whole time, as I was while we made our way up the road that one has to take if they want to go see the Skaha Bluffs.

Fortunately, it's not a terribly long road and once you reach the top, there's ample parking spot and a view of all of Penticton that is so majestic, you'd happily return again on a camel, if you had to.

Despite being a 489 hectare provincial park located just a few minutes away from town, this was the first time I'd ever been up to the Bluffs in all the many years I've lived in the area, and we couldn't have asked for nicer weather on the day when we bravely headed up that way (we had no idea beforehand that the road was so frighteningly narrow).

The warm-as-melted-butter sunshine had drawn plenty of other outdoor enthusiasts that day, some of whom had come to hike, rock climb, or bird watch, and others (like us) who just wanted to soak up fresh air and savour the view - and of course, if you happen to be a vintage fashion blogger, take some outfit snaps.

Having a new puppy in the house, my Freddies jeans and overalls have been getting more wear over the past couple of months than in all the time I'd owned them previously up until this point, as one does not want to risk having a very rambunctious dog accidentally damage a less durable item of vintage or repro clothing.

These overalls are also a great go-to piece for days when I'm yard saling (warm, comfy, sturdy, pockets - what's not to love!), and the two reasons combined is why I was sporting them that Saturday. We'd not begun the day knowing that we'd be headed up to the Bluffs, but the fact that we did added a third reason why they were the perfect thing to wear for a spot of wilderness fun.

A woven raffia bag, pink button front shirt, pair of iridescent pale pink stretch bracelets, cute floral print scarf, and my endlessly reliable 1940s style black shoes rounded out the look.

I love the fact that even though Penticton isn't terribly large, it - and it’s many surrounding towns, communities and off-the-beaten-path locations - offer up such an abundance of things to do and see - not to mention serve as fantastic photographic backdrops.

I'm really looking forward to the coming summer weather months and the numerous local places, new and old alike, that I hope we'll get to explore - trusty camera in hand every step (and steep mountain curve) of the way.

May 20, 2013

Book giveaway and review: A Spear of Summer Grass by Deanna Raybourn

 It's a safe bet to say that the twentieth century decade that is on most people's lips these days in the 1920s, a fact that is spurred on largely by the latest film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic, The Great Gatsby, which recently hits theaters across the world. I've always been a Fitzgerald fan and looking forward to seeing this film asap; however the roaring twenties have been on my mind for months now, long before DiCaprio sashayed onto the big screen as Jay Gatsby.

The reason for this stems almost entirely from the fact that last year, as I mentioned in this post, Tony I finally started watching the show Boardwalk Empire, were instantly hooked, and promptly worked our way through every single episode that had been released up until that point.

There are many reasons to enjoy this show, but without a doubt one of the main ones for me has been the superb, detail oriented costuming. Unlike many shows and movies that have been set in the twenties over the years, Boardwalk Empire doesn't just focus on flapper fashions (though there are scads of those, too), but instead encompasses a wide range of clothing that women of various socioeconomic classes wore during the era.

It's refreshing to see such outfits, and to imagine what I would have been likely to have worn myself had I been alive at the time. Between the hair (including some longer, non-bobbed styles), make-up, and clothes presented on the show, a passion for the twenties was rekindled in a new way in my heart, and I've found myself more and more drawn towards the era ever since.

As such, when I was recently contacted by a lovely lady from Big Honcho Media on behalf of Harlequin Books who was curious to know if I'd like to review (and hold a giveaway for) a copy of New York Times best selling author Deanna Raybourn's latest release, A Spear of Summer Grass, which is set in the 1920s, I gladly jumped at the chance.

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I tend to be much more of a non-fiction and classic lit reader, generally spending considerably less time with modern fiction than either of those two categories. As such, it was a refreshing change of pace to settle in with a hot-off-the-presses piece of contemporary fiction recently while I continued to recover from my surgery in April.

A Spear of Summer Grass tells the tale of a young woman named Delilah Drummond, who boasts both a checked past and a rather sorted present, and who finds herself fleeing her wild life in Paris, when a particular scandal (involving her recently deceased husband) begins taking up too much space in the gossip columns.

Leaving Europe and nearly everyone she knows (save for her cousin, Dodo) behind, Delilah embarks to Kenya, where she takes up residence in one of her ex-stepfather's (Delilah's mother doesn't exactly have a spotless record in the romance department herself) homes, which is called Fairlight. Gradually she finds herself falling for both the exotic landscape and a chap named Ryder White who acts as her guide in this foreign, exciting, beautiful - and at times dangerous - landscape.

Drama, seductive romance, intrigue and life lessons a plenty unfold for Delilah as her stay in Kenya continues, while Raybourn takes the reader on their own journey through this corner of the the Dark Continent, painting a vivid, engaging picture of a time and place that both seem wildly distant and close enough to reach out and touch. The plot, centered as it may be in the 1920s, could just as easily have taken place twenty, forty, or even some ninety years later, in the present day world, a trait which I didn't find off-putting in the slightest to the context of this tale.

The storyline moves along fluidly and enjoyably, and one finds themselves empathizing to a certain degree with each twist and plot turn that comes Ms. Drummond's way (some of which are, undoubtedly more than a little self-inflicted), as well how she often tries to make the best of the less than stellar situation she finds herself amply thrust into at Fairlight, where life is rarely a bed of African violets for her.

Delilah, like most memorable literary characters is rather far from perfect, but one finds in her a a certain reliability and the desire to see life ultimately work out for this enigmatic, troubled, adventurous young woman before the final chapter comes to a close.

This is the first book by Deanna Raybourn (who is well known for her Lady Julie Grey series) that I've ever read, and overall I quite enjoyed it. Raybourn shines as a writer when it comes to the lyrical, captivating way she describes the landscape of Kenya, and it was this element of the story that I found myself most enjoying as the book progressed. A Blade of Summer Grass was what I'd consider to be a light, enjoyable, easy read. The 1920s timeframe and African backdrop worked well together, and created an imaginary setting that one could easily picture themselves in, perhaps under different circumstances, too.

If, like me, you're in a 1920s mood these days or simply enjoy a good historical fiction read, then I've got great news for you, because this week we're giving away two paperback copies of A Spear of Summer Grass.

One copy will go to a reader in either Canada or America, and will be shipped out from the publisher. The other is up for grabs by one lucky reader from anywhere else in the whole wide world and will be sent to you from me directly (the books themselves that each reader will receive are identical, it's just that the only way I could open this giveaway up to readers around the world was to mail out that copy myself).

You can earn as many as six separate entries in this giveaway, by doing any (or all) of the following things.

1. Leave a comment in which you tell me one or more reasons, of any kind, why you like the 1920s.

2. Like Chronically Vintage on Facebook.

3. Post about this giveaway on Facebook, providing a link back to your post in your comment here.

4. Follow Chronically Vintage on Twitter.

5. Tweet about this giveaway on Twitter, including a link back to this post in your tweet.

6. Write about this giveaway on your own site, including a link back to this post. Once you've done so, be sure to come back and leave a comment letting me know about your post.

Please make sure to leave a separate comment specifying each of the ways in which you entered this giveaway, so as to increase your odds of winning. 

This giveaway will run until 11:59 PST on Sunday May 26, 2013, and will, as detailed above, have two winners - one from either Canada or America, and one from any other country in the world. Both winners will be drawn using a random number generator and will be announced in a blog post here within 48 hours of the giveaway concluding.

I found Deanna Raybourn's latest offering to be precisely the kind of book that be perfect for a day of leisurely reading on the beach (where no doubt the sand beneath your toes would only help add further dimension to the author’s beautiful descriptions of Kenya) or anytime you're in the mood for a the kind of face paced, easy-to-get-through story that is packed with the promise of romance, excitement, and early twentieth century life.

Thank you very much in advance to all those who enter this giveaway for a chance to win your own copy of A Spear of Summer Grass. Best of luck to everyone!

May 18, 2013

Saturday Snapshots: May 18, 2013

{A range of expressions registers across the faces of these four lovely young women - identified as the Mishanec sisters -as they pose for an outdoor photo in 1937.}

{Paper moon fun abounds in this cute shot of three 1940s youngsters.}

{A well dressed middle aged couple from 1959. I adore her whisper pale lavender hued dress and complimentary purple corsage.}

{Studio (or perhaps school) portrait loveliness from the days of 1947. What a beautiful smile and twinkling eyes this young lass had.}

{1950s playsuit stylishness snapped at Wood Island Park, East Boston, Massachusetts. The woman in the photo is identified as "Dot", a name which I think suits her well.}

{It's shades of Sunday blue finery for this quartet of girls from 1949 (you've got to love the saddle shoes partnered with a fancy dress on the gal at the far right).}

{Could the 1940s lady on the right's look get any cooler? I rather think not.}

{A lovely young bride and (first lieutenant) groom on their wedding day at West Point Military Academy, 1952.}

{Fantastic patio/squaw dress style abounds in this charming 1956 snapshot of a woman posing in bedroom near an Oregon State pennant and a number of photos.}

{A cheerful looking, sharply dressed 1940s couple enjoying an afternoon at the seaside. Her whole outfit (hair flowers and headkerchief very much included) is elegantly lovely.}

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

♥ ♥ ♥

The concept of living in the moment is by no means a new one. It may have had its days in the limelight over the past few decades (especially during the peace-and-love 60s and the do-as-you-please 80s), but long before Thoreau said the beautiful words in today's quote, humans have oven striven to embrace, capture, and enjoy the essence of the moment that they were existing in as it transpired.

It is natural, human and completely normal to hope, dream and plan the future. However, it can become far too easy to build such a detailed pictured of what lies ahead, that you almost forget to stop and appreciate the majestic quality of the here and now.

Earlier this spring I began to think a lot about something that, while by no means a new realization for me, reminders of which kept being thrown my way. I say the following as matter-of-factly as though I were telling you the date or what colour the grass is. I do not see myself as a victim of these circumstances, merely a product of elements far beyond my control.

Due to the extremely unpredictable nature of battling multiple severe chronic illnesses, it is often very challenging for me to make plans ahead of time. To be more accurate, it's easy enough to make said plans, what is difficult is feeling well enough when the time comes to follow through with them. I could craft the most detailed travel itinerary in the world, plan a huge and elaborate party, promise to attend any event you could dream of, but the simple fact is that, until the moment of the particular going-on arose, I would almost no way of knowing if I'd feel well enough to be present.

Yes, sometimes, in the very immediate short-term I can try to predict, for example, how I might feel on an upcoming Sunday, based on how I'm doing health wise two days before hand, and there are various lifestyle and diet elements I can steer in certain directions to try and help my health as best as possible, but ultimately, there is really nothing I can do to guarantee I'll be able to attend any of the plans I make in advance.

There are, as I'm sure you can imagine, pros and cons to living a life like this day in and day out (my world has been this way for nearly eleven years now). On the one hand, it can be hard to constantly have to tell people "We'll see" or "I really hope I can make it" when invited out (and of course then there's the scenario in which, after a while, understandably enough, some folks just stop inviting you out at all, knowing how often you've not been able to attend their events), as well as to know that plans I make myself are, at best, lightly penciled in, ready to be erased at any moment by my health.

I would love beyond words to buy a concert ticket for, say, four months from now and know that I'll be able to plunk myself down in my seat come that night, but it would not be financially wise to do so because past experiences have taught me (many a time) that such will rarely actually be the case. I'd give my favourite vintage dress to promise a friend I'll be there at her birthday party, know I will be seated around the Christmas dinner table at my parents house, assure my husband we'll go out on our wedding anniversary night. But, if I'm being honest with myself and with those around me, I cannot, and at this point in my life, I've made about as much peace with this fact as I think one ever realistically can.

The flip side to living this kind of day-to-day existence is that it truly helps you to exist in the moment. To cherish the good times so incredibly much, those days when I wake up and feel well enough to leave the house, to don my vintage finery, to visit with loved ones, and to experience plans made, far more often than not, completely on the fly.

I have become far quite spontaneous (relatively speaking!), and by the same token, I never forget to stop and smell the roses. To savour the caress of a warm summer's breeze on my bare arms in the summer, the symphony of crunches under foot as I walk through a field of fallen autumn leaves, or the sound of rain pouncing on the car as we take a rare and wonderful springtime Sunday drive.

Mapping out my tomorrows would have its perks for sure, but being given the gift of today when you're chronically ill, is, quite frankly, immeasurably incredible in and of itself. I have learned, as Thoreau so wisely said, to find my eternity in each moment, and I could not ask for a richer life than that.