December 21, 2016

25 things that I wish for each of you this holiday season

In the chaotic mix of the holiday season, I often find that there are moments of almost startling serenity. Perhaps it's a matter of being in the eye of the storm, or maybe, as the classic Christmas carol, Silent Night, reminds us, all really is calm and bright.

It was in the midst of one of these wee pockets of tranquility recently that I was almost overwhelmed with the desire to send out Christmas cards to each and every one of my readers - especially after the staggering outpouring of love and assistance that you guys have bestowed on us after the fire.

Naturally, for a myriad of reasons, such isn't possible - however, I can convey the same kinds of festive sentiments here on my blog, which I hope you'll agree with me is quite similar to classic greeting cards themselves.

In particular, my mind is overflowing with thoughts of what I truly hope that life, the universe and all other forces at play in this vast world of ours - the spirit of Santa Claus very much included - will bring your way during this profoundly meaningful time of the year.

Some of the following 25 festive wishes - one each for the first 25 days of December - are deep and serious, whereas others are more lighthearted and just for fun.

So, my immensely dear friends, please accept this today's post as my holiday season greeting to each and every of you.

It comes wrapped in love and, I hope, really will ring true through the beautiful days that fill the very last chapter of another exciting year.

1. Tons of festive cheer!

2. That fond nostalgia fills your heart, while...

3. You also create amazing new memories this year

4. Quite time to savour and reflect on what this season really means to you personally

5. Peace in your heart, your family, and all areas of your life

6. Lots of opportunities to rock your favourite vintage/repro/rockabilly/pinup/or any other type of holiday attire (adorable Christmas themed novelty brooches very much included)

7. Serene walks taken in the crisp early winter air that remind you of the powerful, though sometimes not instantly obvious, beauty that this time of the year houses

8. The joy that comes with giving a gift or otherwise doing something that truly brightens someone's holiday and leaves a lasting impression on them for years to come

9. A new vintage treasure or two amongst your gifts

10. The ability to still enjoy at least some of the elements of the season with the same sort of wide-eyed wonder you had as a child

11. If you live in a part of the world where such is possible, that you're greeted to a white Christmas on the 25th

12. Zero (or, if that's not realistic, as little as possible) family drama during the holidays

13. May you have at least one - and hopefully many - reason(s) to smile every day

14. Fantastic company (friends, family, SO - you name it!) around you often

15. A powerful sense of contentment in your heart and more blessings than you could ever count

16. That your favourite Christmas songs are the ones you hear most frequently

17. A festive season that is sweeter than all the candy canes, sugar cookies, and hot cocoa on earth

18. Gorgeous holiday light displays all throughout your neighbourhood

19. Reminders of the good old days and what Christmastime meant for the generations that came before us

20. The ability to celebrate the season with your pets and/or other favourite animals in your life

21. Fests that fill your belly and warm your soul alike (with lots of yummy leftovers to enjoy for days afterward)

22. The very best health possible

23. Time to watch at least one or two of your favourite holiday TV shows and/or movies

24. The happiest festive season one could ever ask for!

25. An incredible new year ahead that helps you to grow, develop, blossom (as a person), and follow your bliss all the more

{To learn more about a specific image that was used in today's post, please click on it to be taken to its respective source.}

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the unending gift of your readership, your support, your friendship, your encouragement, your care, your inspiration, and unquestionably your incredible help, generosity and kindness throughout 2016.

I treasure, value and appreciate such more than I could ever put into words and am sincerely looking forward to soon launching into 2017 - a brand new year to put the substantial troubles of this one all the more behind us - with each of you.

First though, we have Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's to celebrate. This will be my last post of the year, but I'll be back in January with multiple new entries here throughout that month, as I begin to ease into blogging on a more regular basis once again (insomuch as the continued post-fire related demands and uncertainty - very much including our longer term housing needs - of our daily lives, as well as my health, will permit).

Wherever you are, however you celebrate this time of the year, and whatever you may be doing as we embrace the last leg of December, from both myself and Tony (as well as our darling Miss Annie), merriest wishes, dear friends!

May you your festivities sparkle and shine, and may all these of the things listed above - and countless more blessings - be yours this holiday season.

November 25, 2016

2016's Vintage Secret Santa is cancelled due to the fire

First and foremost, goodness gracious, do I miss you guys. Not a little bit, not every now and then, but day in and day out, with all of my heart. Living in a world right now where so many things are completely upside down, unequivocally one of the most bizarre and "outs of sorts" is not being heavily immersed in the online vintage blogging sphere, as I have been for over 7.5 years now.

As many of you know, for the past two years (2014 and '15, respectively) I've - with a substantial amount of help, particularly on the coding back end of things, from Tony - hosted the annual Vintage Secret Santa gift exchange, which has only grown bigger and better each year.

This time around however, given that we are still extremely immersed in beginning to put our lives back together again (including setting up a new temporary renatal home) after the devastating arson fire last month that destroyed our house and possessions, it simply is not possible for us to hold the VSS (which honestly becomes like a full-time job for me from November to February each year).

Having received about twenty-five or so emails and social media PMs in recent days asking if the VSS was taking place - albeit mostly from past participants who weren't aware of what occurred last month - I thought I would take a quick moment here this morning just to formally announce that, as much as this point sincerely pains me, there will be no Vintage Secret Santa 2016.

{I very much apologize, but unfortunately those who wish to take part in the VSS - either again or for the first time - will have to wait until next year to do so, as holding such a large scale online gift swap is impossible for us right now in the wake of the fire. I really do feel bad about this and appreciate your understanding immensely. 1920s Clara Bow vintage image source.}

However...all things willing, I (we) do certainly plan to hold it again come 2017, as a little over a year will have passed since the blaze by then and it is our deepest of hopes that our life will be way, way more on track and settled again by that point.

Though out of sheer necessity, this blog will officially remain on hiatus for a while longer (it's honestly too soon for me to give even a possible estimate of when I'll be able to return to blogging on a regular basis, but am hoping that such will be feasible in early-ish 2017), I do hope to be able to share a much more detailed update post (about where our life is at by then) with all of you here in December.

In the meantime (and always!) though, I simply cannot say thank you enough to each and every person who has, in countless different ways, helped, supported, prayed for, comforted, and cared about Tony, Annie, myself, and our sweet (now officially deceased; her poor little body being found in the charred ruins of our old house on November 6th) cat, Stella.

Whether through our You Caring donation support page, PayPal donations, care packages, emails, private messages, the Facebook page Helping The Cangianos that was set up for us by my good friend Bonita from Lavender & Twill, sending positive thoughts our way, leaving blog comments, or myriad other ways, we have been nothing short of profoundly blessed, assisted and uplifted by what I can only describe as a tidal wave of beautiful and extremely generous compassion.

It has helped us in countless ways and we will be, for as long as we live, grateful to each and every person who has - and who continues to - support us in any positive manner during this staggeringly challenging time in our lives.

We love and appreciate - most definitely miss - all of you and garner strength from your support, as well as by looking towards the future and the time when our lives will be back on track more. It's a long and difficult road, but each new sunrise gets us at least one step closer and that is a beautiful thing.

October 17, 2016

Our home and everything that we own was destroyed by a fire. Please share.

It is often said that life can change in the blink of an eye and never in the course of my 32 years has that been more true than the horrific events that unfolded on the evening of October 13th (the very day before our twelfth wedding anniversary).

A little after 8:00 PM that night, an arson fire was set (allegedly) by an eighteen-year old girl who was having a domestic dispute with her mother in the basement of that family's home, which was located kitty corner to our own in the fourplex that we live(d) in.

The blaze quickly began to engulf everything in its path. My husband, Tony, and I were able to rescue our beloved dog, Annie, however, our darling cat Stella - a naturally extremely shy and skittish kitty - hid instantly and could not be found.

I searched in pitch black, chokingly acrid black smoke as thick as oatmeal for her until I could not breath, but she could be found and I had to leave the house or risk losing my own life.

The fire raged on for hours, entirely wiping out all four homes in our fourplex and everything in them.

Tony and I were incredibly fortunate to escape with our lives. We lost everything we owned in this world, save for the clothing on our backs, our phones, a small purse of mine (with my wallet), his wallet, and our car.

Gone forever, a lifetime of items. My vintage wardrobe and collection, hundreds of books, our computers and other electronics, all of my craft supplies, all of the scrapbook albums that I'd made over the years, both of our photography equipment, Tony's fishing and hiking gear, cherished heirlooms, holiday decorations, and every other item contained within the walls of our home.

Included in the mix, all of the merchandise for, and everything else pertaining to, my Etsy vintage shop. Thus, this horrific, senseless crime (the young woman was attested that evening by the police) not only destroyed our home and belongings, in one fell swoop, it obliterated my business and my livelihood.

Both Tony and I shared about fire and its impact on social media quite soon after the fact, so some of you may be aware of this situation already, but for those who are not, I wanted to let you all know here as soon as I could.

This isn't a small bump in the road or even a decent size curve ball, it is the literal definition of a life changing catastrophe.

From the very first social media post, we have had a truly incredible show of support and help from so many friends and family members online.

My sister, Katie, and my good friend Nora (from the blog Nora Finds) quickly teamed up to create a crowd funding relief donation page, which you can donate to here if you wish to do so:

Anything that you can give - prayers, good vibes, and kind messages included - are so incredibly helpful to us - as is sharing about our donation campaign link on social media and/or your blog - and mean more than we can ever put into words.

As well, in one of the most touching things I (we) have ever experienced, another dear friend of mine, Bonita (from the blog Lavender & Twill) set up a Facebook page for those who wish to help us out in a myriad of different ways (including sending care packages).

There are not words enough in the whole world to adequately express the profound gratitude, appreciation and love that I have for everyone who is helping us. I have always known and spoken highly about the fact that the vintage/pinup/rockabilly/similar community was an incredibly close knit, supportive place, but I have been nothing short of floor by the incredible outreach and care extended to us by hundreds in our midst.

Right now we are very fortunate to be temporarily staying with my mom and step-dad while we begin to pick up the pieces of our charred life. Time will tell where we land beyond then.

Our life is in pieces and putting them back together again is going to be a long, long process. But we are alive, Tony and I have each other (and Annie), and we have the astonishing support of so many wonderful people around the planet.

Right now, as we focus on rebuilding our lives, I have to put this blog on hiatus. It pains me deeply to do so, but given the circumstances, I have no other choice.

I plan to return again and resume blogging when possible, but that will likely be for quite a while down the road from now (especially since we are computer-less at present).

I appreciate your understanding on this front and will miss each of you greatly. We will reconnect again. This blog is an integral part of my life and the last thing that I would possibly want is for it to be another victim of this heartbreaking tragedy.

We are fighters and we will persevere. The journey back to normalcy will be long, but we will grow in countless ways in the process, and ultimately, we will be okay.

Your love, support, donations, and immeasurable kindness will ensure that is the case. Of that - much like life's ability to change in the blink of an eye - I am certain.

With every fiber of my being, thank you, everyone. I love you dearly and will return here as soon as I possibly can.

❤ Jessica 

October 12, 2016

All roads lead to vintage fall fashion

Outfit details

Camel coloured felt beret: eBay
Gold tone metal and orange enamel earrings: Birthday gift from a dear online friend ♥
Vintage style black cotton capelet: c/o Dolly & Dotty
1950s striped cotton day dress: Stutterin' Mama
1940s style pumpkin dangle brooch: Summer Blue Jewelry
C. 1980s does 1950s tan brown leather belt: (Probably) Thrifted
C. 1950s ruched black gloves: Unknown, had for years (probably eBay or Etsy)
Canvas and faux leather handbag: Tabi
Black seamed nude stockings: eBay
1940s style black faux suede pumps: Walmart
Lip Colour: MAC Partyline

Photography by Tony Cangiano

...Or at least they do for me personally. :)

Like many of us, I acquire new items for my wardrobe (and periodically part ways with others) all throughout the year, but no matter the season, when I'm shopping for clothing, accessories or jewelry, I'm thinking about autumn time.

My favourite season by a wide margin (though I do genuinely adore, appreciate, and delight in each of them), fall calls to my heart and soul. It is the short-lived middle ground between sweltering and freezing, and here in Canada such is often (at best) a matter of weeks. The notion of a long, mild fall that spans September to early December is virtually unheard of in these northern lands.

Still, even if we're handing out Halloween candy to kids sporting snow suits, I still like to wear autumn coloured, themed and inspired looks for that duration and make a point to try and have at least a few new pieces that fit the bill to the tee on hand well before September rolls into town again.

One such garment, which I picked up earlier this year from Stutterin' Mama is this very classic, very sweet black, tawny brown and white striped 1950s dress (which I mentioned in passing here a few weeks ago). I'd been wanting to add a striped vintage dress to my closet for ages and this charmer was a case of love at first sight for me.

It has elbow length sleeves, a midi hem, a flattering cut, a cute little folded collar, and a colour palette that doesn't just sing with the spirit of fall, it belts it out like Pavarotti!

As I knew the seasons would be changing hands big time while we were in Edmonton, I made sure to pack not only this dress, but a beautiful recently acquired vintage style black cotton capelet (called the Sabrina Glamorous 50s Style Cape Shrug) that I received from Dolly & Dotty, with me on our travels (thank you so much, D&D, for this awesome gift).

On the particular day that these photos were taken, Tony and I had just spent a couple of hours visiting the absolutely delightful Fort Edmonton Park (it's so big and engaging that we didn't get to see it all in that time frame and will definitely aim to return on a future visit to Edmonton), which we both adored.

It was fun, too, as I've encountered here and there at other historical parks over the years, to see fellow park visitors wondering/thinking that I worked there due to my vintage attire.

As a general rule, capelets (aka, short capes) are not something that I wear often, simply because they tend to make my (naturally small) shoulders and upper torso look a lot, lot wider/bigger than it really is. I adore them as a garment though and was willing to take the gamble, so to speak, when Dolly & Dotty inquired as to if I'd like to try out one of their elegant versions.

Given that I don't presently own a black cotton capelet, I decided to take the plunge and am more than a little bit thrilled that I did. Yes, I do see some of that bulk factor happening, but objectively that's rather the nature of capelets, capes and poncho shaped garments in general.

This cape is sweet, well made and endlessly classic. I love how well it partners with longer length gloves, too. Being on holiday, I didn't have my whole glove wardrobe with me, but I did of course pack a few pairs, of which I felt these ruched black ones worked best in the context of this outfit (I don't own a caramel coloured longer length pair, but if I did, I think such would have rocked here, too).

Interestingly, in a way, despite my general reservations when it comes to capelets, of the beautiful garments I've received from Dolly & Dotty this year, I actually think I'll sport this capelet most often of all (as it's so versatile, lightweight and perfect for layering from fall clear on through to spring). Proof positive, if you ask me, that it always pays to revisit styles that you like, but think might not work well for you personally.

We grabbed these peaceful photos at the John Janzen Nature Centre Park that was directly beside Fort Edmonton. The leaves were beginning to turn the colour of Bartlett pears and a definite nip was in the air, so I was grateful to have this capelet over my shoulders as I stood on that small foot traffic bridge.

To the surprise of no one who knows me, I'm sure, I was shopping for (further) new fall appropriate items while on our trip and am happy to say that I found some, including a fabulous Halloween themed Hell Bunny skirt that I picked up at Rowena (which I'm really hoping will appear here on the blog this year - if not, in the future for sure!).

Fall's colours and the imagery - from pumpkins, such as those in the beautiful Summer Blue Jewelry vintage inspired brooch that I'm sporting here, to leaves to apples and scarecrows – are “me” through and through.

They bring me joy in all forms, very much including the wearable type, and I love that a season I plan, shop for, and dream about all year is here again. Especially when I have fun new-to-me pieces to wear like many of those featured into today's seasonal ensemble.

Are you a fan of fall's colour palette and/or iconic imagery for your own wardrobe as well? Do you find yourself shopping for any one season more than the others?

October 10, 2016

75 Fantastic Apple Recipes for Fall

Is there, really, any more iconic fruit when it comes to autumn time than the age-old, wonderfully nourishing, and splendidly healthy apple?

Pears, my second favourite fruit (raspberries take first place, if you're curious - though the fruit that I eat the very most of in a given year would have to be strawberries, which I also adore), come close for sure and indeed, the two often go hand-in-hand.

Yet it is the apple - be it tart and green, mellow and golden yellow, juicy and red, or sweet and garnet hued - that takes top billing and which is as tied to fall as harvest moon, pumpkins, crunchy jewel toned leaves, and the return of chilly nights.

Apples are an amazing fruit. They're rich in both antioxidants and fiber, and can provide a lasting sense of satiety - as well as being a truly delicious food. In addition, apples have been an integral part of our collective human history for millenniums now, having factored into the the mythology, religions, and legends of a good many cultures, spanning the ancient Norse and Greeks to the central role they play in the Christian bible as well.

{Apples, glorious apples! We've been enjoying them for countless generations now and continue to reach for this good-for-us food with gusto the whole year 'round, but have a particular passion for them, naturally, when fall arrives and they're at the peak of their growing perfection. Vintage image source.}

Few amongst us are without both personal memories and elements of a cultural identity that relates back to apples.

We have expressions aplenty that include this juicy round fruit (such as, "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree", "As American as apple pie", and "An apple a day keeps the doctor away"), associate them heavily with education (including the classic practise of leaving the gift of an apple on a teacher's desk), and have been eating (and drinking - apple cider or Calvados, anyone?) them in countless recipes for many, many centuries now.

Apples are a fun, cheerful fruit and one that is tied heavily many fall time celebrations, including both Halloween and Thanksgiving (the Canadian version of which happens today this year). They're perfect "as is", and yet work equally in both sweet and savoury dishes, too.

Over the years I've shared several different vintage recipes that included apples (such as Rosy Apple Pie, Creamy Gala Apple, Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup; and Maple Syrup and Apple Bread Pudding topped with Sugared Apples) and thought that in celebration of the fact that autumn's return is a mere ten days away, I would roundup some of the most mouth watering, classic, cutting edge, and/or unique apple recipes I've ever encountered online.

Each of these dishes is a stellar treat that puts the season's abundance of apples - of which there are thousands of different varieties the world over - to good use.

Naturally, they can all be made at other times of the year, too, but as I'm a firm believer in eating, and cooking, with an emphasis on the very foods that each season presents us with, now seems like the ideal time to delve into not one, not ten, not thirty, not even fifty, but seventy-five flat out magnificent apple recipes that are ideal for fall.

1. Mini Apple Berry Crumble Pies

2. Apple Pie Pancakes with Vanilla Maple Syrup

3. Cranberry Granola Spiced Apples

4. Apple and Sage Roasted Chicken with Pan Juices

5. Apple Cream Cheese Braid Danish

6. Baked Stuffed Pumpkins with Israeli Couscous, Sausage, Apples, Onions, and Cranberries

7. Warm Spiced Apple Galettes With Whiskey Caramel

8. Stacked Applesauce Cake with Cinnamon Whipped Cream

9. Apple Pie Bourbon Shots

10. Sticky Caramel Apple Buns

11. Coriander-Crusted Pork Chops with Sautéed Apples and Caramelized Onions

12. Apple Pie Tiramisu

13. Grilled Cheese with Bacon, Apple, and Sprouts

14. Apple Nachos

15. Baked Apples with Marshmallows and Mexican Chocolate

16. Cider Scalloped Potatoes with Smoked Gouda

17. Apple Spice Cupcakes

18. Apple Cheddar Quick Bread

19. Baked Apple Pie Egg Rolls

20. Apple Brownies

21. Mini Apple Pie Cheesecakes

22. Cornbread and Apple Dressing

23. Rustic Apple Cake

24. Brown Butter Glazed Apple Pie Scones

25. Apple-Sage Marinated Smoked Turkey

26. Apple Fritter Bread

27. Pork & Apple Burgers with Pickled Red Cabbage

28. Apple Pie Caramel Apples

29. Beet and Apple Soup

30. Honey-Caramel Apple Bundt Cake

31. Apple-Cheddar Waffle Panini

32. Homemade Apple Pie Jam

33. Old-Fashioned Apple Cookies

34. Gluten-Free Bourbon Bacon Apple Crisp

35. Stuffed Apple Cinnamon Sticks

36. Apple & Walnut Cake with Treacle Icing

37. Apple Cinnamon Rice Pudding

38. No-Cook Spiced Apple Chutney

39. Apple Pie Fries

40. Taffy Apple Pizza

41. Sausage, Apple & Leek Pie

42. Cheesecake Stuffed Baked Apples

43. Apple Pie Tacos

44. Ginger & Caramel Apple Puddings

45. Apple and Cranberry Lattice Pie

46. Caramel and Apple Upside-Down Cake

47. Bite-Sized Toffee Apple Doughnuts

48. Curried Squash Pancakes with Arugula and Apple Salad

49. Apple Cider Slushies

50. Apple Sandwiches with Date Caramel + Almond Butter

51. Classic Apple Fritters

52. Skewered Shrimp and Ham with Apple Jelly

53. Caramel-Greek Yogurt Dip in an Edible Apple Cup

54. Cheddar Apple Pie

55. Sweet & Salty Bourbon Cinnamon Pecan Caramel Apples

56. Tempura Apples with Custard

57. Crispy-Skin Duck with Chargrilled Apples

58. Creamy Vanilla Porridge with Brown Sugar Apples

59. Caramelised Apple and Ginger-Spiced Shortcakes

60. Cinnamon Roll Stuffed Baked Apples

61. Cider and Honey Apples with Crepes

62. Apple Sauce-Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

63. Roast Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Red Onion

64. Caramel Apple Self-Saucing Pudding Cake

65. Couscous-Stuffed Apples with Honey Syrup

66. Pork Cutlet with Parsnip Mash and Pan-Fried Apples

67. Apple Frangipane Tart

68. Inside-Out Apple Crumbles

69. Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Apples

70. Slow-Roasted Pork Belly with Apples

71. Apple Pie Samosas

72. Apple and Hazelnut Loaf

73. Slow Cooker Apple Sauce

74. Thousand-Layer Apple Tart

75. Caramel Apple Cake

{All photos are care of their respective sources, which can be reached by clicking on the recipe link above each image. Unlike vintage images which are often much more in the public domain and for which the reproduction and sharing of is more liberally tolerated, I fully understand that some food bloggers do not like to have their photos shared on other blogs, even when a link back to their site is provided. If such is the case and your photo appears here, please let me know by email and I'll happily take it down or credit it in a different way that you're happy with. Thank you!} 

 photo apple-border_zpslu4klnea.gif photo apple-border_zpslu4klnea.gif

It's hard not to work up an appetite just reading through this selection of fifty fabulous apple recipes! Do any of them jump out at you in particular?

Aside from the age old classic that is caramel apples and all of the variations on such presented here, the Apple Pie Tacos and Crispy-Skin Duck with Chargrilled Apples in particular are really beckoning to me at the moment.

As apples have been heavily and heartily enjoyed (and grown) in many parts of the world for centuries now, they're actually one of the most frequent types of fruits that you'll encounter in vintage and antique cookbooks, with recipes for classics such as apple pie, apple sauce, apple muffins, apple crisps and buckles, and apple butter, to name but a few, stretching back for hundreds of years at this point.

{Two young ladies biting into my all-time favourite Halloween time treat, the classic caramel apple, during the 1940s. Image source.}

A true icon of the season and one of the most delicious things to ever grow on a tree, so long as you enjoy and can (from a medical standpoint) safely eat them, apples deserve a place not just on teachers' desks, but on all of our tables come the sublimely beautiful days of late summer and straight on through to the iciest months of winter.

Embrace apples, get creative with them, and let them shine for you and your family all throughout fall, when they're truly at their finest in western hemisphere and when no other fruit says autumn quite like this humble, satisfying offering from Mother Nature does.

*PS* Happiest Thanksgiving wishes to all of my fellow Canadians!