August 29, 2016

Two birthdays, one awesome vintage style novelty print dress

Outfit details

Gold tone metal and orange plastic triangle shaped stud earrings: Claire's
Turquoise blue cardigan: Gap
Vintage style resin sunflower brooch: Erstwilder (purchased from Vintage Pip)
Handmade 1940s/1950s kitchen novelty print dress (with matching belt worn as a head scarf): Mode de Lis
Lime green faux patent leather skinny belt: (possibly, had for years) Joe Fresh
1950s/1960s brown faux patent leather handbag: Frugal Frocks
Yellow plastic bangle bracelet: Forever 21
Vintage bangle bracelets: Unknown, had for years
Nude seamed nude stockings: eBay
Turquoise faux patent leather pumps: Payless
Lip colour: MAC Party Line
Nail colour: Essie Roarrrrange

Photography by Tony Cangiano

On many a site the web over, I have hefty sized wishlists. In a lot of ways, I really don't mind that there are far, far more items in the world that I adore than I'll ever be able to actually acquire (for the record, I should mention that I don't actually consider myself to be an overly materialistic person at all; for example, on multiple occasions throughout my life, virtually everything that I owned fit into no more than two suitcases and purse, and I was totally okay with that).

Sometimes though, you encounter an item, fall madly in love with it, and then enter a proverbial game of chicken with said item and the unseen force that is the rest of the online shopping public.

The moment I spotted this awesome handmade, one-of-a-kind mid-century vintage style dress with its uber charming pattern of culinary related imagery and words (in fellow vintage blogger Lily's wonderful Etsy shop, Mode de Lis), my heart was a goner and I wanted to buy it instantly.

My budget, however, had a different agenda and so I knew that I would have to wait. And wait I did, for a few months actually. I kept the dress in my shopping cart on Etsy and would check in on it at least once a week, to see if it was still available.

Towards the end of 2015, Lily offered a generous coupon code for her shop and I knew that the moment had come to finally make this magnificent frock mine (in fact, it was my Christmas present to myself last year).

It is such an immensely sweet, pretty dress and I was shocked, down right shocked, I tell you, that no one one else had beat me to it in all the time it was listed for sale. In cases like this, I can't help but feel like the universe is telling me that it was meant to be.

Immensely summery looking thanks to its short sleeves and punchy colours, this delightful 1940s/1950s style kitchen novelty print dress is so "me", it's not even funny. From the longer length to the button front to the matching fabric belt (worn here as a skinny headscarf), it is the kind of garment that turns my knees to jelly and sets my heart ablaze.

Earlier this season, on my birthday, I wore nearly the same outfit that you see here in these snaps, however rain tumbled down all throughout July 10th, so we weren't able to take any outfit photos that day.

Hop ahead to this month. Tony's recent birthday on August 6th was a fairly warm, sunny day and as such, I knew that I had to sport this outfit again - it's too at home in summer not capture on camera while the season is still around.

I actually like this iteration of the look more than the one I put together for my own b-day, so really, it worked out better that we photographed it this month, not last. These snaps were taken in the very early evening hours in front of our next door neighbour's house.

A fabulous novelty print dress like this affords one a lot of styling possibilities. It's bold pattern meant that I didn't want to go too wild with my accessories, and primarily introduced more colour into the look care of my cardigan, handbag, and shoe choices, as well (in smaller doses) as a beautiful Erstwilder sunflower brooch (to echo the sunflowers in the dress' print) and fun triangle shaped orange earrings, plus a few bangles (natch!).

I beam with joy each time I wear this dress. It is an important reminder that patience can be rewarded and that sometimes wishlist items that seem like they may never happen for you, can suddenly become yours thanks to the right timing (or other circumstances).

This is my first piece from Mode de Lis on Etsy and let me tell you, Lily's incredible sewing skills (which are often seen in the pieces she makes for herself and shares on her blog) are off-the-charts. This dress smokes many offerings from repro companies out of the water and has the added special factor of being made by a fellow Etsian and blogger from right here in our own online community.

A super fun garment for special occasions, I love that this dress was at the heart of both mine and Tony's respective birthdays this year and don't doubt for a moment that I'll turn to it for celebrations and everyday outfits alike for many a sunny season to come.

Plus, if one day I ever had the chance to write a cookbook and needed a book jacket photo or was interviewed about cooking, I can't help but think that it would be the absolute ideal dress for a vintage gal like me to sport for just such an occasion. :)

August 26, 2016

Eight things that have really been inspiring my style so far this year

Back at the very start of 2015, I kicked off the new year by penning a post in which I shared twelve of the things (one for each of the upcoming twelve months of the year) that were inspiring my style at the moment. I've thought back to, and drawn inspiration from, that post many times in the roughly 1 2/3rds of a year that have passed since then and am constantly delighted by the fact that each of those twelve fashion elements continues to shape and drive my personal style to this day.

Naturally, they're not the only ones that are doing as much as we start to head into the final weeks of summer, I thought it would be a lot of fun to share a brief overview of eight different things (again, one for each month that we've experienced so far this year) that have been speaking loudly and clearly to me from a sartorial standpoint so far throughout 2016.

1. Stripes

For much of my adult life, especially if we're talking the horizontal version, I largely avoid strips and didn't think that they worked all that well for me, but in the last year or two, I've been noticing a real pull towards them all of a sudden. In particular, I'm finding myself smitten with narrow vertical stripes and/or pieces that combine both vertical and horizontal lines in the same garment. I'm also discovering that stripes can work for me, especially if they're fairly thin and in flattering colours.

Earlier this year I picked up a great 1950s striped dress that I simply had to have the moment I saw it, as its colour palette instantly caused a fun fall time outfit to spring to mind and I can't wait to share such with you here in the near future. So, in short, strips and me are on good terms these days and I'm genuinely happy about that fact.

2. Vintage cartwheel/platter hats

It's scarcely a state secret that I utterly and completely love vintage hats of all types, but did you know that in recent years, I've been gravitating more and more towards especially wide brimmed cartwheel and platter styles? I find that they tend to work wonderfully well for my face type and that they suit the sorts of fashions I'm leaning all the more towards as I progress through my 30s.

Were it not for the super steep shipping prices to send such generously proportioned styles (and really, most things in general) to Canada these days, I'm sure I'd own many more than I presently do. Fortunately I do have a lovely little collection of such and as you may have noticed from some of my recent outfit posts this year, they're getting a lot of use these days.

3. Muted colours

I've already chatted about my current (huge!) passion for "all the vintage muted colours" here in at least a couple of posts this year (such as this one), so I won't do my impression of a broken record. In short, I'm currently madly in love with vintage 1940s, 50s and early 60s garments in earthy tones, be they solids or (especially) patterns, and don't foresee this interest waning anytime soon.

4. Colonial area fashions, decor and crafts

For as long as I can recall, I've felt a strong pull towards the general styles, art, and decor of America and Canada's earliest days, and in particular, am refereeing styles up until the end of the 18th century when I speak of colonial era influences.

Though such can be a bit tricky to interpret overly literally in the context of mid-century fashion, subtle touches (beyond just pilgrim collars, like those on the 1950s frocks pictured above, and shoe buckles), can be had, such as classic fabrics that call to mind those used in the 17th and 18th centuries in North America, traditional looking hand stitched details, certain styles of shawls, and various others.

In this instance, it's less about dressing as though I was from that time period (as fun and exciting as such would be!) and more about letting the general aesthetic of such weave itself throughout various areas of my life and wardrobe alike.

5. Elizabeth Taylor's look during the mid-1950s to early 1960s

From her immensely chic short hairstyles to her elegantly gorgeous attire and her perfectly on point make-up, just about everything that Liz sported during this period is right up my styling alley and has influenced me for many years now, continuing to so all the more in this decade of my life

6. Leaf themed jewelry, accessories and prints

A natural - pun intended - extension, one might say, of my current interest in muted hues and patterns featuring such, I've really, really been digging leaf and fern themed/printed fashions, especially - perhaps not surprisingly to anyone who knows me well - those of a autumnal nature. I certainly won't be retiring my beloved florals anytime soon, but they've been joined by more leaf themed pieces this year and I'm pleased as punch about that fact.

7.Claire McCardell's work

Mid-century American fashion Claire McCardell's work has long resonated with me (especially her way with wrap dresses and draping). Innovative and stylish, McCardell championed a (by the standards of the day) leisurely look and was especially keen on sport and swimwear, as well as a distinct American style that was both refined and playful at the same time.

Though tragically, her life was cut short due to cancer when she was in her 50s, Claire McCardell was able to leave a very lasting impression of the mid-century fashion scene and is a name that deserves to be known and appreciated by fashion fans everywhere (plus she was an engaging author, whose book, What Shall I Wear?, is one of my favourite written about contemporary style during the fifties)

8. Celestial stars

I can't remember a time when I wasn't drawn to star imagery and fashions pertaining to such (and of course absolutely adore the real twinkling deal, too), but in recent years I've been going all the more wild for such and would love to add another celestial print garment or two (I have a lovely vintage star print dress already) to my closet in the near future. Who knows, perhaps their landing there is already - *cough, cough* - written in the stars! :)

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

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Now granted, for some people, such is strongly the case, but I think it's very important to make the distinction that what we wear doesn't always equate to what is actually inspiring us - at least not in glaringly obvious ways. It's totally possible to draw inspiration from something, but not to channel it literally in your wardrobe (or home decor, for that matter).

With some of the eight entries above, it's easy for me to weave them into certain ensembles, but for others - such as my passion for colonial era styles - such is not always overly feasible, but that doesn't mean that these things don't hold sway over us and/or that they aren't manifested in subtle, no less important, ways.

Sometimes simply reading about and/or looking at images that speak to us can drive our style and that is one of the most exciting things about inspiration itself. We're free to interpret and run with it however our heart desires (at least within the scope of our means).

I wouldn't say that my style has undergone any radical changes in recent months, though I do notice various subtle things evolving on that front as I get older (including certain points that I raised in this post), and also in part thanks to the various elements that are inspiring me at any given moment.

For example, while I still love (and own a delightful little collection of such) hair flowers, I haven't felt pulled towards wearing them very often lately (florals crowns though, big time!), nor have I been rocking many square shaped necklines, as I've come to realize that such (much like collar-less styles and v-necks) are not always overly becoming on me.

Little things, but ones that I take notice of, just as I do those style elements step in to take their place in terms of what I may opt to wear more often.

I've said it before, but I will happily say it again. Our closets should continue to evolve as we do. It's easy to grow stagnant in what we wear, but continually seeking and recognizing inspiration, as it strikes, can be a powerful tool in combating such.

As we delight in this final month of summer and head into my all-time favourite season, fall, I look forward to seeing how the eight things shared here today continue to influence what I wear, how I'll interpret them in the outfits I share here, and what other fun/beautiful/unique elements will shape my style in the second chapter of 2016 and beyond.

Naturally, I'm sure many of them will enjoy at last a moment or two in the spotlight here. After all, if a vintage fashion blogger can't readily share what's inspiring them on their own site, who can! :)

August 24, 2016

Meet Nella: French alt and vintage model, passionate fiction writer, and ardent fan of all things Scottish

Bonjour mes amis! Today I'm tickled pink to bring you the latest post in our exciting ongoing Meet a Fellow Vintage Blogger interview series.

As you may have guessed, this time around we find ourselves in the beautiful country of France, where we're chatting with none other than my lovely friend, and long time vintage + historical + Lolita fashion blogger, Nella Fragola and her eponymously named blog.

A dynamic and engaging woman with a wealth of passions, a love for all things Scottish, an exciting life as a model, and beautiful blog, which she updates regularly, Nella is someone that has fascinated and inspired me from the moment that we first crossed paths online several years ago now.

I'm thrilled that Nella shot her hand up in the air as a volunteer for this series and equally excited to be sharing more about her with all of you here today.

Please read on to find out more about Nella's interests, awesomely unique vintage + historic + lolita fashion sense, her modelling, why creative writing means so much to her, and oodles more!

Thank you very much for taking part in this series, Nella. For those who are just having the pleasure of meeting you and your blog right now for the first time, can you please tell us a bit about what lead you to start blogging?

Dear Jessica, you’re welcome. I'm glad to be doing this interview on your lovely blog.

My first blog, all the way back in 2004, was on Skyblog, a French platform, which was really ugly and full of angry teenagers (haha!). Actually, I was too, but my blog was refreshing to me. It was the only place I could talk about Japanese fashion, as I didn't have any offline friends who were interested in this subject. I've never stopped blogging since that day, but have changed topics and blogging platforms numerous times since then.

In September 2013, I launched my current blog under my modelling name, Nella Fragola, and am still writing about fashion there, as I've become even more interested in vintage style looks.

These days I mostly want to share my outfits with others wanted to share mostly my outfits and other fashion related topics, including the ethical side of this industry. I’d like to make my readers aware of abuse in the industry, and to help them know more about which brands care about ecology and work conditions and which don't value these important points.

How have you found blogging has touched, or even transformed, your life?

It helped me to connect and meet people with similar interests in real life. I’ve made a lot of friends through blogging! I wouldn’t be the person I am without my blog. Before it, I was shy and lacking in self-confidence. Blogging has really helped me to better myself.

You presently call France home, but you have an immense love of Scottish culture (so do I!). Do these two cultures factor into your blog heavily? What about other locations/cultures that speak to you?

Yes, it does as I travel frequently to Scotland and now work with many designers there. Half of my wardrobe is made in Scotland and perfect for Scottish weather - it's the total opposite of the heat that one encounters here in the south of France - haha!

Italy is also a huge part of my life, as I am half Italian on my mum's side. But to be honest, Scotland is the one and only country I've gone to that truly felt like it was home for me, and that I could stay there forever.

My fiancé and I are planning to move there one day - the sooner the better! I like France, but the place I feel fulfilled and complete in is definitely Scotland. Some of my family are from Brittany so, in a certain way, I was born with bagpipes music in my blood!

Is there much in the way of a vintage related subculture where you live in France?

No, not much to speak of. I wish it had more! There are some vintage fairs, but it's hard to find good vintage stores around these parts. There's only one in my hometown. It's called Blow Up, and is great! With so few local options, I buy most of my clothes online.

Nella dear, I have long been struck by what a powerfully artistic soul you have. Do you feel that such has always been who you were or have you cultivated this side of yourself more as you’ve gotten older?

When I was just six years old, I already knew I wanted to follow an artistic path for my life. Getting to be a model and a blogger is something quite new, and I never though I could do it! The older I get, the most I want to focus on the arts. I like to think that I’ll learn new things until the day my final day of life.

You’re enchanted by a wide array of different styles and eras. What have been some of the most influential on your life?

Rococo and Victorian eras. When I was a kid, I was fascinated by the French Revolution. My favourite movie was (and still is, actually) Gone with the Wind. When I grew up, I started to focus on 1950s, which, fascinatingly, is currently the era that I'm the least interested in. My favourites these days are the 1930s and 40s, and most of my wardrobe is from that period. I especially like the fashions of the war years.

There was so few materials available and so many restrictions in place, yet women still managed to look so elegant and well put together. Fashion was a way to show one's resistance under the Occupation, and that is so admirable.

Are these ones that you’re currently focusing on, too?

Edwardian is my latest obsession! I have already some stunning pieces (blouse, petticoat, maid's apron), but I won’t be satisfied until I have more from that period!

With such a dynamic range of time period influences, how would you sum up your current style, as it sits right now in 2016, in a few words?

Very difficult. I can’t stick to one style or one period, and my history with Lolita fashion made me who I am today. I like to mix up eras. I think I have a personal style and I don’t try anymore to follow "the rules" or to be historically accurate all the time (except for some festivals or events, like WW2 commemorations). I just wear what makes me feel pretty and happy.

What are a few items in your closet that you reach for time and time again?

My dream for years has been to own a Lilli Ann suit. It has happened now! I also have another LA jacket, but to be honest, I would love to find another suit, in navy blue. That’s is going to be my next fashion goal, I think. I am also looking for more shoes. I had a foot surgery in 2014, and now I finally can wear what I want!

You do a lot of modelling work and have collaborated with some incredibly talented people over the years. What drew you to modelling and how does it influence your style (or vice versa – style influencing your shoots)?

I didn’t wake up one day and say "I want to be a model". It was just something that occurred through happenstance, as I met a photographer who encouraged me to give it a try. I never thought I'd be good at modelling, but I've learned so much over the year and now I can’t imagine ever stopping.

I hope to be a rockin’ old granny one day and still look stylish! If the blog Advanced Style still exists come that point, I'd love to be one of the women featured on it.

You’ve done some fetish modelling over the years. Have you also done burlesque performances?

I have! So far I've done three burlesque shoes. I enjoyed them and it was fun, but I don’t think that's the path in life for me. I find that I enjoy watching others perform more than I like being on stage myself. I like Lada Redstar a lot, she's my favorite burlesque dancer.

What advice, that you wish you’d known before you began, would you give to someone who is just starting out in the modelling world?

Be selective! Don't think that just because you're a novice, you don't have the right to only work with the jobs that you truly want. Try to learn more about yourself. Look at yourself in the mirror and work your facial expressions. As well, you need to know how to move and pose your body.

Do you ever get behind the lens yourself, too?

I like to take pics of my travels, as well as my fiancé and his kids, be they as souvenirs or for my blog. I don’t want to be a photographer working with models though. I’d rather be in front the camera than behind it - definitely!

In addition to fashion, modelling, vintage, Lolita and historical fashions, and Scottish culture, what are some of your other interests?

I have been learning how to play the Celtic harp for the past ten months now. Music is one thing I’ve always wanted to do, but I was afraid to be too old to learn. Let me say, you’re never too old, it’s never too late. Just do what makes you happy!

I like reading a lot. I read every kind book, from novels to scientific topics. Ever since I was a child, I've really enjoyed astronomy and astrophysics. I actually read Hubert Reeves (I am huge fan of his) and just finished a book about French Women during the Occupation called Les Parisiennes: How the Women of Paris Lived, Loved, and Died Under Nazi Occupation, by Anne Sebba.

I know that you really enjoy creative writing, too. What sort of role has this played in your life over the years?

My mother died of a breast cancer when I was just eight years old. I felt empty and alone. Writing saved me! I started to imagine an happy world with heroic characters to protect it.

I haven't stopped writing since then. I've published some of my short stories in magazines and I have self-published on Amazon Kindle, too. I am going to finish my first novel soon, hopefully, and I really hope that I'm able to find find a publisher whose interested in releasing it.

Also, some of my short stories are going to be translated into English! I plan to then publish them on Amazon Kindle as well, and I’ll try to find an English publisher for them, too.

Thank you very much for sharing such intimate and personal fact about yourself with us, honey. I'm truly sorry that you had to experience such an incredible heartache when you were a young child.

Circling back to modelling, are there certain types of shoots that you’re drawn to more than others and is there anything that you’d say is currently “off limits” in terms of what you’d be comfortable shooting?

Vintage style, of course! I used to do a lot of pinup and fetish modelling, but I am less interested in these areas now. I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing full frontal nudity and I don’t get why some photographers want me to be totally naked without an artistic point of view. I like artistic nudes though, and also soft eroticism, but I wouldn’t want to do those types of modelling myself.

Who have been some people – in any field – that have strongly influenced and/or inspired your work as a model and/or blogger over the years?

I don’t say this because you’re interviewing me, but you’re one of my favourite vintage bloggers! (Jessica's note: Thank you from the bottom of my heart!)

I also really like Kayla from Gracefully Vintage, Norafinds, Paper Mothball Vintage, and Idda Van Munster. My yesteryear vintage crush is Vivien Leigh. I've loved her ever since I was a child and she's been a my major vintage inspiration to me throughout my life.

Honestly, I am a bit nerd and am a big fan of X-files. Gillian Anderson is the biggest crush of life! She is always stylish and elegant, and the older she gets, the prettiest she becomes. Plus, she might be the only lady on earth to rock a 90s suit… Haha!

Fashion designers inspire me a lot, too. Some of my favourites include Stewart Christie, Lena Hoschek, Voriagh, Ginger Jackie, Clara Maeda, Marilyn Feltz, Nanapaprika, and many other artists as well, from music to movies, books, paintings. The list would be too long though, I am afraid, to name them all here.

Do you consider yourself to be a “pin-up girl”, and what does that term mean to you personally?

No, not anymore. I used to. Honestly, I don’t know how to explain with my own words what a pinup means to me, but the best image I have in mind of such is the work of (pinup artist) Gil Elvgren.

What are some things, big or small, that bring you joy?

My home that I share with the three people I love the most (my fiancé and his children). My friends are a big deal to me, too, as I have no family left.

I like drinking a cup of tea while reading or writing, and I like enjoy going for a walk and seeing beauty everywhere around me. Simple things are the best. Less is more.

And last, but certainly not least, are there any exciting happenings – blogging related or otherwise – that readers should watch for coming down the pipeline in your life in the next few months?

I am going to be doing some great collaborations with amazing designers and I want to focus on how they work.

Also, I'm headed off to spend a month in Skye, Scotland later this year to finish my novel, and I am going to do a daily report about everyday life on that stunning Scottish island while I'm there. Be sure to stay tuned!

Connect with Nella on the following sites:

Her blog

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

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

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Thank you so much for this stellar interview, dear Nella. It was a joy getting to know you, your creative passions, and your daily life better. Many thanks as well for being the inspiring, resilient gem of a person that you are.

I wholeheartedly recommend that all those who aren't doing so already, bop on over and start following Nella's blog and/or social media accounts on the double. She shares such engaging, awesome things there and chances are, you'll find numerous interests that you share in common her.

Next up, for the first Meet a Fellow Vintage Blogger interview of this autumn, we'll be boarding our vintage airplane and zipping back across the Atlantic. Once there, we'll sit down and chat with a long time US vintage and historical costuming blogger + sewer, who, much like Nella, has many diverse interests that we'll be delving into.

This is someone that I've had the pleasure of knowing and being friends with online for a number of years now and who I am absolutely honoured to get the chance to talk with. Trust me when I say that you won't want to miss this post!

Definitely be sure to tune in towards the end of September for it - and as always, if you're an active vintage (or pinup, rockabilly, goth, etc) blogger and would like to take part in this fun ongoing series, please don't hesitate to zip an email my way anytime. I'd love to interview with, too!

August 22, 2016

5 summer into fall perfect vintage comfort food recipes

This past week has been a bit of a bumpy ride for me as a result of the routine medical procedure (mentioned here) that I had at the hospital last Monday. I have a follow-up doctor's appointment later this week to find out more about how it went and what the next course of action will be in regards to the particular chronic illness of mine that such was for, and that's weighing on my mind a fair bit at the moment.

I'm always an optimist though, and after fourteen years of being a multiple severe chronic illness fighter, I've been down similar - and much worse - paths many a time before, so I'm just thinking positively, hoping for the best, and reminding myself that anything can be tackled in one way or another.

Thankfully I've had our upcoming trip to Edmonton to help divert my thoughts from my health this month and that has been quite a blessing for sure. And this past weekend, I took a stab at answering the 40 Random Beauty Questions tag here, which was oodles of (distracting) fun as well.

Before delving further into today's post, I wholeheartedly want to thank all of you who have left caring blog comments and/or sent well wish filled emails my way in recent days. They truly mean so much to me.

While last week wasn't a ton of fun and this week won't likely be worlds better, I really am doing positively and can feel my body recovering more and more from last Monday's procedure with each passing day. Thus, I expect this week to be "life as usual" on all blogging fronts.

As we head into the final month of summer and the weather is starting to shift (we had, for example, some pounding rain and strong wind here last night that felt and sounded more like November, than August!), many of us are starting to rouse our ovens from hibernation and are thinking to hearty, delicious comfort foods once more.

Between the season and the fact that I'm in recovery mode right now on the health front, comfort foods are definitely on my mind as we kick off the second to last week of August. As such, I wanted to share a fun little selection of five different mid-century vintage comfort food dishes I've come across lately online that all fit that bill for me.

Of course what constitutes a comfort food will differ for each of us and there are probably dozens, if not hundreds, of recipes that I'd put under that header myself.

These five have common elements that are often seen as being part and parcel for a comfort dish (such as simmering, baking, or fragrant, inviting aromas), and as they suit the tail end of summer and certainly all of the fall (and winter) awesomely, I thought that today would be a great time to share them here with all of you.

1. Bold, flavourful, and a cinch to multiple as many times over as you need, Chili con Carne is a fabulous dish that, arguably, tastes even better a day or two after it was made. If you're not a meat eater or simply prefer your chili without the carne, ditch it and up the quantity of beans (or a vegetarian/vegan ground meat substitute) instead.

This particular chili recipe calls for Campbell’s Tomato Soup, but of course it can be made with tomato sauce or even simmered (diced) stewed tomatoes instead, if you’d prefer.

Though not overly traditional, I'm also partial to adding some sweet bell pepper to my chilli as well. And on the toppings front, sour cream and a sharp cheddar or Monetary Jack cheese are musts for me. It's hard to go wrong, too, with a hefty slab of corn bread served up on the side.

2. One of the very first things that I rush head first for the moment we start to get even the tiniest hint that fall is on its way again, is pumpkin (canned, fresh and frozen alike). Each year I make up at least one or two classic spiced pumpkin cakes or batches of cupcakes (on top of other pumpkin standards like pie, muffins, and soup) and they have become a lovely family tradition around our home (we always invite my folks 'round to tuck into such with us).

This delightful Pumpkin Cake recipe from 1948 is somewhat similar to the (albeit it GF and EF) version that I make, though I add more spices, including a couple teaspoons of cinnamon, and frost mine with a rich cream cheese icing.

Pumpkin Cake is an awesome, beautifully scented dessert and one that I find compliments nearly any autumn time meal to a tee.

3. Another fabulous vintage dish that lends itself to being multiplied is the classic Swedish Meatball. Easily, made, too, if so desired with alternative ground meats such as turkey, chicken, or (lean) pork, Swedish Meatballs are great as appetizers, starters, or as the heart of a meal itself.

If opting for the latter, they're especially nice served on a bed of hot buttered rice, noodles, (cooked) spaghetti squash, or fluffy mashed potatoes. They also freeze wonderfully, which makes them a great choice for busy fall evenings when you might not have time to prepare dinner from scratch.

4. There's just something about the scent of bread baking that fills the soul with comfort and happiness. It's almost a primal feeling for many of us, as we knowing that this glorious smell has indicated that nourishing subsistence was coming humanity's way for thousands of years now.

Today’s bread recipe isn't quite that ancient, but it is a few decades old and calls for the inclusion of a hearty breakfast cereal that dates all the way back to 1897.

This quick, easy and delicious recipe for Grape-Nut Bread is a wonderful a base for savoury or sweet toppings alike, and is wonderful enjoyed on its own, too - perhaps with a steaming mug of pumpkin spice latte, spiced apple cider, or hot cocoa.

5. As touched on a time or two before here over the years (such as in this 2014's vintage recipe post for Honey Pound Cake - itself a marvelous yesteryear comfort food), I know that raisins aren't exactly everyone's cup of tea.

If, however, like me, you flip for them, then this recipe for a classic - and, IMO, far too infrequently seen these days - Raisin Pie is bound to have you swooning up a storm.

I love raisin pie so much, I'd say it's in my top ten (or perhaps even top five) favourite pies of all-time. Sometimes I'll make it with a mix of regular raisins (like those here) and golden sultans, too, and frequently dish slices of this awesome pie up with a generous scoop of vanilla, butterscotch ripple, or cinnamon ice cream.

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

Though you could of course serve all five of these dishes together as part of one big meal, you certainly do not have to in the slightest (aka, this list isn't a menu plan per se, just a fun assortment of lovely, stick-to-your ribs mid-century foods).

Each of them shines on its own and can usually be modified/adapted to suit your tastes and/or dietary needs, as required (save perhaps if you need to make the Grape-Nut Bread GF, as Grape-Nuts themselves contain scads of gluten; in that case, I'd probably make a similar style of GF bread using real chopped nuts and/or a similar style of gluten-free breakfast cereal, such as Crunchy Flax from the brand Enjoy Life, instead).

Over the years I've shared quite a few other vintage comfort food posts here as well. So definitely check out the vintage recipes section for scads more ideas on that front, if you are looking to put together a larger meal, dinner party, or holiday feast, or would simply like some further old school culinary inspiration.

While the past few days haven't been the best ever for me, it's wonderful to have so many things in my life - from the gift of sweet online friends to our upcoming travels to the fact that fall is just around the corner - to help keep my spirits up, no matter what the universe throws my way.

When the seasons start to change hands once more and a familiar nip returns to the air, what are some of your favourite - vintage or contemporary - comfort foods to whip up for these gorgeous, all-too-short days of summer into autumn?

August 20, 2016

Answering the 40 Random Beauty Questions Tag

It might seem a touch ironic, given the fact that makeup has a tendency to drip, drop and downright vanish from our faces during the hottest months of the year, but it is, rather interestingly, during the summer when I most often feel like experimenting with my makeup.

Part of me wonders if this harkens back, at least to a degree, to when I was a very young grade school girl and was allowed to wear nail polish during the summer, but not (to class at least) during the school year. Perhaps it's also due to the fact that we're wearing less clothing during these sizzling hot months, so we may want to enliven our looks with the extra dimension that cosmetics can impart. Or maybe it's just that summer is massively fun and so are most beauty products! :)

Whatever the case, I really do find myself reaching for vivid shadows, popsicle hued polishes, and firework worthy shades of make-up more often during the summer. As such, I thought that - on this gorgeous Friday morning, while the season is still going strong - I'd take a moment and share my answers to a fun make-up and skin care related tag that's been floating around the web (particularly on YouTube) for a few years now.

Called The 40 Random Beauty Questions Tag, this quick and easy questionnaire is just that and is a fun way to get to know anyone's "war paint" (I've always loved that term in relation to makeup) routine better.

I periodically receive questions on mine (which is, fundamentally, quite lowkey), so that's all the more reason why I'm keen to tackle these forty questions. I've kept my answers light and airy, like a great loose powder, and hope you'll enjoy getting to know more about these elements of my life.


1. How many times do you wash your face daily? Generally speaking, twice (once in the morning and once at night when I take off my makeup).

2. What skin type do you have? My skin is, and has always been, very dry and immensely sensitive.

3. What is your current facial wash? I'm super old school here and often just use Dove's Sensitive Skin Bar.

4. Do you exfoliate? Yes, either with a mild homemade sugar scrub or with an apricot one geared towards sensitive skin.

5. What brand do you use? St. Ives or the in-house brand from Real Canadian Superstore, as they have a near identical apricot scrub for about 2/3rds of the price of St. Ives.

6. What moisturizer do you use? Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizer. I've tried many others, at a wide range of price points over the years, and absolutely nothing to date has worked more effectively for me.

7. Do you have freckles? No, and I've always sincerely wished that I did (how gorgeous are Joan Crawford's in the photo above?). I know that there are products such as freckle pencils and even freckle tattoos on the market these days, but they've never appealed to me. If nature didn't see fit to give me freckles, I'll respect that decision and leave my skin dot-less.

8. Do you use eye cream? No, but I will use chilled cucumber slices sometimes, if they're on the puffy/red side. Good quality eye cream is an expense that I’ve never felt I could justify, but I would like to give one a shot at some point – if only for the luxurious fun of it.

9.Do you, or did you previously have, acne prone skin? I'm very fortunate that to date, acne has never been a problem for me.

10. Have you ever needed to use Pro-activ? No, but if I needed, I'd certainly give it a shot. I've known some people over the years for whom it literally changed their life thanks to the degree to which it transformed their skin (but to be fair, have heard a few horror stories, too).


11. What foundation do you use? I'm not uber loyal to any one foundation, but for the last few years, I've mostly been using CovergGirl Clean Make Up Sensitive Skin. It's very budget-friendly and works just as well, if not better, than some other foundations I've tried that cost four or five times as much.

12. How about concealer? This year I've mostly been using ones from Joe Fresh and Physicians Formula. I honestly don't use a lot of concealer though, and tend to just dab it on under my eyes to help with any redness there or to aid in covering up small blemishes, as they arise.

13. Do you know your skin's colour tone? I'm fair with subtly warm pink undertones. I like to affectionately refer to my skin tone as "strawberries and cream".

14. What do you think of fake eyelashes? Love them to bits, though don't wear them that often. I really should though, as I adore how awake they can help you look!

15. Did you know that you are suppose to change your mascara every 3 months? Yes, I've heard and read this many times over the years. I find that a tube of mascara usually lasts me 2 - 3 months, so that point is usually taken care of organically for me.

16. What brand of mascara do you use? Maybelline's wildly iconic (and incredibly effective) Great Lash. I’ve tried many others over the years, and none, absolutely none, have been able to even hold a candle to it for me personally.

17. MAC or Sephora? MAC, but to be fair, I've never purchased anything for myself from Sephora (though I have done so a gifts for others, including my little sister), so I can't really compare the two...yet.

18. What makeup tools do you use in make up application? An array of brushes (mostly MAC, Quo, and Clinique, but I have other brushes from various brands as well), a blender sponge, and my fingers.

19. Do you think you look good even when you’re not wearing makeup? Definitely! Though I strongly prefer how I look with makeup on, I don't feel that such defines my beauty in any meaningful way and truly hope that the same rings true for all of you and your perceptions of yourself, too.

20. Do you use make-up base/primer for the eyes? Typically not. I don't find that I need it with most of the types of (powder) shadows that I use. Plus the fact that my skin is very dry to help makeup in general stay put.

21. For the face? Yes, for sure, especially in the winter months when my skin gets uber dry and I find that it helps my complexion to look less parched.

22. What is your favorite eyeshadow (color or shade)? Hard call! I really adore shades in the plum/purple family, as well as aqua/turquoise, but most commonly wear bronzes/golds, creams, and pale pinks, all of which I love, too.

23. Do you use pencil or liquid eyeliner? Both, but primarily (black) liquid liner.

24. How often do you poke your eyes with an eyeliner pencil? Thankfully, almost never (every now and then I do accidentally jab my eye with a mascara wand though).

25. What do you think of pigment eyeshadows? I think they're gorgeous, but I don't have a ton of experience with them, especially loose pigment powders.

26. Do you use mineral makeup? I do indeed. I find that my dry, sensitive skin tends to respond wonderfully to most mineral makeups and usually have at least a few such products in my cosmetics bag at any one point in time.

27. What is your favorite lipstick? Russian Red from MAC.

28. How about lip gloss? I don't wear that many lip glosses, in part because it can often be hard to find gluten-free ones that don't break the bank. I'd say that in recent years my faves have come from Red Apple Lipstick and Annabelle Cosmetics.

29. What is your favorite blush to use? Again, I’m not super loyal to any one blush and in general just like those with subtle rose/light pink tones. Clinique and ColourPop both make some that I’ve really enjoyed over the years.

30. Do you buy makeup on eBay? Once in a blue moon. Chiefly for products that simply aren't sold in Canada, be it online or off.

31. Do you like drugstore makeup? Absolutely! A very decent percentage of my makeup comes from drugstores and big box stores.

32. Do you go to CCOs (Cosmetic company outlets)? No, but only because (other than Sally's and Chatters, the latter of which is more hair centered) we don't have any beauty supply shops in my town. If we did, I'm sure they'd be regular haunts for me.

33. Have you ever considered taking make-up classes? I adore the idea of such, but have never taken a makeup class. Who knows, maybe one day!

34. Are you clumsy in putting on makeup? Typically, no, especially after so many years of wearing the same general "face" most days and thus having applied the products that I use literally thousands of different times.

35. Name a "makeup crime" that you hate? I'm not a hater. To each their own in all areas of appearance. Though, personally, I can't stand looking down at chipped nail polish, so as soon it starts to flake, I try to get it all of pronto.

36. Do you like colorful shades of makeup (lipstick, eyeshadow, etc) or neutral ones? A blend of both honestly. I tend to wear neutrals on my eyes and vivid hues on my lips (and nails).

37. Which celebrity do you think always has great makeup? Sophia Loren. No matter the decade, her makeup has always been stunning in my books.

38. If you had to leave the house having used just ONE make up item, what would you pick? I know, I know, "use" is even in bold here, but for me, I'd have to select two things: eyebrow pencil (as I have almost no natural eyebrows and the few hairs that do exist there are super pale blonde) and mascara. If I have those two things on, my face rarely feels naked.

39. Are you able to leave the house without any makeup on? For sure! It might not be my ideal, but I can certainly do so and have found that leaving the house sans makeup has gotten a lot easier as I've grown older.

40. In your opinion, what is the BEST makeup line? This is wildly subjective and just about impossible to define. I personally love, love, love just about anything I've tried from MAC, Clinique, Estee Lauder, ColourPop, Cover Girl, Maybelline, NYX Cosmetics, Joe Fresh, Physicians Formula, Annabelle Cosmetics, and Benefit, but there are so many amazing brands out there at all sorts of price points, so for me, there isn't one "best" brand, just numerous favourites.

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

I wasn't tagged by anyone in particular to answer these questions, instead I caught wind of them a while back on YouTube. Thus, I'm not going to tag anyone specially, but if you'd like to play along, too, by all means, please do (and then feel free to come back here and comment with a link to your own post so that I can be sure to check it out).

And by the same token, if you have any questions for me about what I’ve said here or would like to see more posts about my beauty routine/favourites, please don’t hesitate to left me know.

Lowkey though my beauty routine may be (by which I mean, I tend to use the same very select group of products, I don't usually shell out for expensive beauty treatments or skin care products, and I typically wear the same general mid-century style "face" most days), I - like countless others around the globe - am wild about cosmetics and get giddy whenever I try out a new brand, score a limited edition product, or rediscover an old favourite.

So while I might get more adventurous with my makeup choices during the summer, I really do adore beauty products and the act of getting ready the whole year 'round. How about you?

August 17, 2016

Nautical by nature

Outfit details

Anchors and Stripes Nautical Rockabilly Bandana: c/o Inkabilly
1950s red glitter resin earrings: Summer Blue Jewelry
Red long sleeved top: Urban Planet (I think; had for years)
1940s style denim overalls: Freddies of Pinewood
1940s/1950s enamel coated anchor brooch: Unknown, had for years
1950s corduroy bucket purse: Rue 23 Vintage Clothing Mid-century vintage style beaded charm bracelet: Handmade by me
1940s style brown leather shoes: Naturalizer
Lip colour: MAC Russian Red
Nail colour: Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear Red Carpet

Photography by Tony Cangiano

Pattern matching is one thing, and I do dabble in such from time to time, but blending two distinctly different geographical styles as they relate to fashion is not something I dip my toes into very often.

Pulling such off can be tricky at best and look downright wonky at worse. That isn't to say it can't be done - and indeed, some fabulous styles have been born of such marriages - but, again, it's a risky zone and one that is best approached with some forethought.

A little earlier this year, as first mentioned in this fun camping outfit post last month, I had the great pleasure to begin a working relationship with the exciting British vintage/retro/rockabilly inspired fashion and housewares brand, Inkabilly.

I was drawn to Inkabilly's creations for a number of reasons. Not only are they vibrant, fun and very well made, but the company is helmed by a passionate husband and wife team (Lee and Karl).

This really resonated with me, as a lot of business related things that Tony and I do are shared together in a similar way (for example, we founded and have both subsequently run our free weekly new book email notification service, Any New Books, together for over six years now).

Lee and Karl kindly let me select a few of their stylish offerings to share about with all of you and this week I'm tickled pink - or, perhaps more like red and blue :) - to get the opportunity to highlight another of their excellent offerings here today.

Two of the items that they kindly sent me were their signature headscarves, of which is this is the second (the first stars darling, vibrantly hued flamingos).

Like many a vintage fashion fan the world over, I have a serious love for all things nautical related. From the colours to the imagery to actually being near the water, I flock to nautical related things and love when the chance to put together a new outfit based around such arises.

We're a few hours away from the actual (Pacific) ocean, but we are fortunate to live in a town with not one, but two, large lakes (plus numerous other lakes and rivers in the general area), which can serve as a good stand in for such.

In the case of this particular shoot, we opted to take snaps in the bright, warm late afternoon sunlight recently down at Rotary Park at Okanagan Lake here in Penticton. This is a spacious, lovely swath of grass and flowers that is popular as a lounging spot with locals and tourists alike.

We've shot here a small number of other times over the years and will likely return to it again and again in the future, as it offers up a slice of both grass (aka, the “nature” in my puntastic post title, which takes inspiration from the well known rap group, Naughty By Nature) and a large expanse of beautiful blue water.

My outfit was selected earlier in the day and the location determined later on, but I knew that as I had boldly opted to partner that most classic of farmyard staples, the humble denim overall, with nautical elements, that I wanted both turf and lake alike visible in my outfit snaps that day.

It struck me that I hadn't sported my Freddies of Pinewood overalls, which I love to the moon and back, here in ages (seriously - the last time may very well have been the spring of 2013), despite the fact that I live in them year round (they, like my other Freddies pants, are my staple dog park attire, as they hold up awesomely to the rigours of Annie and her energetic canine chums).

I was in the mood to wear them on camera again, but also wanted to highlight this fantastic anchor print headscarf from Inkabilly, and so this outfit - a mashup of land and sea - was born.

It's a casual, fun look and one that suits the unpredictable nature of our weather this summer really well (though, delightfully, we were treated to some gorgeous sunshine on the particular Sunday when we took these snaps).

To echo the anchor print in the headscarf (called the Anchors and Stripes Nautical Rockabilly Bandana, which retails for a very reasonable £6.99), I opted for a fun mid-century vintage enamel anchor shaped brooch and a made-by-me vintage inspired anchor charm bracelet.

Beyond that, a basic red top, plus a tawny hued vintage handbag and forties style shoes in the same colour round out the mix, both picking up the dark golden stitching in the overalls themselves.

Simple, in many ways as this outfit may be, I absolutely love it! I haven't dabbled in farm meets seafaring looks very often, but this ensemble has me thinking that I should delve into such a bit more frequently. Dark overalls like this, with their inky indigo shade, take to classic nautical shades like red and white extremely well and are reminiscent, colour wise, of classic navy blue sailors trousers.

I really like this charming nautical print headscarf from Inkabilly. It's lightweight, expertly made, has excellent colours, and would go with a million and one different nautical inspired looks. I could easily see packing it the next time we were headed to the ocean, but know that it will get plenty of wear around these landlocked parts as well, and want to sincerely thank Lee and Karl for sending this terrific vintage inspired accessory my way.

So while it might not be everyday that I meld two distinct styles like farm/land girl and nautical together, I must say, I'm very happy with the results of this experiment and love that I now have yet another styling technique to get even more mileage out of both my Freddies overalls and this great new anchor print headscarf alike.

Do you ever mix two (or more) unique styles as well? Would you wear a nautical meets farmland ensemble yourself?