Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My Newest Lovely

My long-awaited hat finally arrived in the mail! It's even more beautiful and colorful in person!


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Productivity & Pretties

I have decided that since I can never seem to afford to buy actual vintage clothing, I would be better off sewing my own. Old patterns (if you know where to look), can be very cheap, and I tend to have a great deal of fabric scraps on hand at any given time (or vintage sheets that can be "recycled"). While I'm not a phenomenal seamstress, I can sew clothing when necessary (I did our costumes for our holiday cards several years ago - that was a difficult dress, too!). Most of my problem is that I hate sitting still for the time it takes to sew. That, and I have two very inquisitive and playful kittens who add an extra level of difficulty to the equation!

As many of you know, I have been spending the past few weeks cleaning out the garage. I have been going through old trunks of toys and vintage memorabilia, repacking what I want to save, and selling on craigslist what I don't want. It's been a pretty profitable endeavor. Thus far, I have managed to bring in around $260, and there are still a few items that have not yet sold. Some of the money went toward household expenses, but I saved a good chunk of it for me. I haven't had "mad money" in a while, and it was nice to be able to splurge on a "new" hat, a coat, and a lovely vintage 1940's dress pattern (with apron peplum) from Things Found on Etsy.

While I wait for my dress pattern to arrive, I decided to try and sew a full skirt for an upcoming wedding that Ryan & I will be attending. I have a sewing book from the 50's/60's, and I found a pattern for a skirt with flowers applique that I thought would be fun and relatively easy to try (see the top image). I have a large scrap of leftover brown tweed fabric, some vintage lace, and some gorgeous deep blue satin and iridescent blue/brown fabric from making those costumes several years ago. The latter two fabrics will be used to make the flower appliques (and I will sew them on with a lovely contrasting red thread), and the brown tweed fabric will be the body of the skirt.

Here's a picture of a "mock-up" of the skirt:

Speaking of sewing, I also made a lovely score yesterday at a local antique store: a rhinestone setter from the 1950's for $10!

It comes complete with original box and even the rhinestones!

I was so excited! I plan to use it to decorate my skirt and dress! Another woman in the shop had been eying it (and trying to crowd me into dropping it - I loathe it when pushy shoppers do that!), but I grabbed it first and held onto it!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Lasting Legacy

I know in a previous post I mentioned that my grandmother had given me a velvet case filled with priceless, handmade treasures. And I also mentioned that, someday soon, I planned to do a more detailed post (with pictures!) about it.

Well, here it is!

My grandmother worked in a dressmaking factory when she was young, about the time that she and my Grandpa were married. At this time, Gramps had enlisted in the Marines (it was WWII), and was off on patriotic adventures. In the mean time, my grandmother lived with her new father-in-law and worked making dresses in Pennsylvania. She had several friends who were talented seamstresses, and as a gift they made her some clothing (well, technically they decorated already-made pieces of clothing for her). Each of these four pieces was hand-sequined/beaded by my grandmother's friends for her, so these are priceless not only in monetary value but in sentimental value as well. She has stored them in a beautiful black velvet box, with each piece wrapped in black tissue paper. She gave this to me several years ago, and I have lovingly saved and stored it. I would never, ever sell or give these items away. They are one of the few legacies left of my grandmother that was not sold or thrown out by my family (I'm still bitter about that - can you tell?).

So, the first item you come across when you lift up the lid of the box is a gorgeous linen collar. Its beads shimmer in the light as though someone dropped a handful of tiny diamonds on it. Someday, I plan to make a dress worthy of this collar. The bead & rhinestone detailing on this collar is a series of swirls and flowers interspersed with triplet dots of pearls.

The next piece is a beautifully soft black cardigan sweater (which unfortunately appears bleached out in the flash of the camera).

It is beaded front and back with lovely flowers (done with tiny black beads) and the sweater has pearly pink buttons.

After this, there is a breathtakingly soft (I think it's cashmere) gray sweater, hand-made with deep blue sequins in a flower and dot pattern across the front. It's so lovely and delicate that I didn't dare take it out of its bag for the pictures.

Finally, we come to the creme de la creme: a gorgeous tank top, thoroughly decorated with white & irridescent sequins. It shimmers in the light like something out of a fairy tale.

The entire tank top is decorated front and back with a thick layer of sequins, and interspersed throughout are "starbursts" of irridescent beads. The top and bottom of the tank top are lined with rhinestones. Overall, the effect is breathtaking. I can't even describe how lovely this piece is, and no picture I took could properly do its beauty justice. You'll just have to take my word for it!

The only slightly depressing aspect about this legacy is that I am a bit smaller than my grandmother in size, so all of these pieces (with the exception of the linen collar) are too big for me! But I suppose the silver lining is that they will last so much longer without the extra wear and tear.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Case of the Missing Buttons

There's a little word play for you!

I was heart sick because I could not for the life of me find the old case of buttons that my grandmother gave me. The container was an old tea tin that actually belonged to my Lithuanian great-grandmother (my maternal grandfather's mother). The buttons were saved by my grandmother, and have a range from the 1940's to the 1980's. As a small child, I used to love to dump out the buttons, and run my fingers over them in wonder at the sheer variety presented.

Well, one day I had an idea of where to look, and lo and behold! There it was...

So what was the first thing I did upon finding it? Why, dump everything out and finger through all of the buttons, of course!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Thrift Store Gems

When I was a little girl, I remember playing in the back bedroom of my grandparents' house. This was the room where my grandmother kept all of her old hats and dresses and coats from the 1940's & 1950's. Like many of the people who grew up during the Depression, my grandmother saved everything. I remember stacks of hat boxes, sequined dresses and cardigans, and pretty heeled shoes. My grandmother had worked in a dressmaking factory when she was younger, and also knew some very talented seamstresses, so there were boxes of old buttons, rhinestones, and sequins to look through too. Some friends of hers had hand-beaded a collar and several cardigans as a gift to her back then - priceless items that she kept wrapped in black tissue paper and stored in a black velvet box. I've been meaning to do a post about that with pictures soon...She also kept her wedding dress & veil from the 40's, stored in a cedar chest. It fascinated me to be able to look at the wedding pictures of her and my grandfather, and then lovingly finger the same gown in-person. I suppose you could say that I grew up loving vintage from the very beginning. Unfortunately, many of the old clothes, hats, and other items were eventually sold at garage sales when I was away at college, but what I could save from the claws of my family, I have held on to. Because I was roughly the same size as my grandmother and aunts, I inherited what little remained of the clothing (though I still want to cry myself to sleep at night over the loss of so many beautiful hats!): the velvet box of sequined sweaters, the wedding dress, and a few purses and dresses and jewelry that belonged to my grandmother in her youth. Priceless items that I would never part with.

Because vintage clothing and accessories have become such highly collectible and in-demand items, the price tag on most pieces is rather high. I have looked into trying to replace some of the items lost to me through "secret" yard sales, but alas, my budget does not allow replacing 4 pristine dresses from the 1940's, lucite shoes from the 50's, hats, etc....at least not through vintage clothing dealers. Thus, I have taken to yard sale-ing and thrift store hopping. I worried that, living in rural southern Oregon, there would not be much to find. However, with luck and a lot of persistence, I have managed to come across a few gems. Here are some of my recent finds:

While perusing one thrift store last week, I noticed in the glass display window a gorgeous fur hat from about the 1940's. The label reads "Favorette Fashion," and I think the fur might be mink? In any event, it was a great find! The price tag for this little gem? $5.

Also in the display case was a real vintage fur collar (beaver fur?) for $9. I couldn't pass it up! Based on the tag and lining, my guess is it's from the 40's or more likely 50's. Still, a great find! But the true discovery came when I began thumbing through the rack of coats in (of all places) the men's clothing section!:

A 1950's mink fur wrap, with pockets for your hands (so you can wrap yourself with it)! It was originally marked $49, but I got a 10% discount. I knew it was real fur the minute I touched it (having a large farm gets you very accustomed to knowing what real animal fur feels like). I didn't know what kind of fur it was, and it did not say on the tag. So I bought it, brought it home, and tried to investigate. Finally, after peering into one of the pockets, I found the tag that read, "Genuine Mink." Score! I love this wrap, and it will go so very well with my next Estate Sale find: a vintage red Lilli Diamond cocktail dress.

But first, a brief note on vintage fur - Before I get screamed at by various sensitive people, I am not pro-animal-death-for-fashion. I think we can ALL agree that I adore animals and absolutely hate to see a single one suffer (I can hardly handle turkey slaughter season!). That being said, I enjoy vintage fashions, and fur is a part of that. A vintage fur piece was made many years ago - I was not the woman who specifically requested it. Therefore, I feel ok in buying and enjoying the pieces because the animals were already killed years ago, and I am not supporting (nor would I ever purchase any) NEW fur coats and accessories.

I found this beautiful screaming red Lilli Diamond cocktail dress at an Estate Sale in Medford last weekend. I tried to talk the woman down, but she was firm on her $45 price tag. At the time, this seemed pretty reasonable (if high for my budget) for the dress AND the matching calf-length red coat. However, when I brought the dress home and tried it on, I discovered one of the side seams had ripped open. Easily fixable, but I wish I had seen that before the purchase! I would have haggled more...

It's a GORGEOUS dress, and it fits me like a slightly-too-tight glove. Still, I love it, and I look great in it! I think when I go to repair the broken seam, I am going to let the dress out a hair in the hips. I checked, and there's enough fabric that I can do it if I am careful. So that is on my repair to-do list.

At that same Estate Sale, I also purchased an adorable little vintage hat with white flowers that I love! It actually looks pretty good with the Lilli Diamond dress!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I Think I Need To Make Sauce Again...?

What do you think?!?!

After only a few minutes spent poking around the Herb Garden's tomato patch (there are three tomato patches on the property), I managed to partially fill up my enormous gardening basket! A plethora of heirloom tomatoes in a rainbow of colors! I'm so excited!

The only tomato that I will be saving seeds from this year is one I like to call the "Applegate Valley Heirloom Tomato." I was given the seeds by a lovely lady in the small town of Applegate. She said she did not know what variety of tomato it was, but that she had been saving the seeds for longer than she could remember! I believe this tomato started out originally as a Pineapple or Rainbow, but since then has morphed into its own "new" heirloom variety. As you can see, it's prone to cracking (I've noticed most of the larger beefsteak-type heirlooms tend to be), but the colors are beautiful!: a yellow body with green shoulders and a red side blush. The tomato grows VERY large, and has slight ridging.

I am looking forward to continuing to keep this particular heirloom tomato variety alive...

Old Treasures

I finally got around to going through some of the old trunks stored in the garage. It's high time I started sorting through everything in the garage and getting rid of the junk. Thankfully (and surprisingly!), I struck gold yesterday. When I opened this particular trunk, not only did I find 3 vintage (circa early 1950's) cameras and one vintage 8mm movie camera, but a large stack of WWII memorabilia (my grandfather served in the marines during WWII).

I have decided to sell two of the vintage cameras, and the other two I am going to try and find film for and start taking pictures with!!

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Prison Break

Ryan and I decided that we were loooooooooooong overdue for a fun all-day outing! I had gotten wind of a costume & vintage clothing sale going on in Ashland this morning, so we headed out around 8 am for adventures. We did not realize what a zoo of insanity we'd be getting ourselves into (there were literally hundreds of people wedged into a tiny area - rather my version of hell; It reminded me of that scene in The Four Feathers with the ocean of prisoners crammed together). Arriving only a few minutes after the sale began, we were already too late for most of the "good stuff," and after elbowing our way over to the $1 hat bins, I discovered 5 rather beat-up but useable vintage hats. I was thinking that I could repair them and either wear them myself or resell them. However, after standing in the enormous check-out line for about 10 minutes and not moving an inch (all the while with screaming and elbowing people crammed around me), I decided that waiting 3 hours to pay for $5 in broken merchandise was a pretty stupid idea. So we ditched the hats and fought our way out. There was a small incident with one of the sale attendants trying to stop me by implying that my vintage hat wasn't mine but that I was trying to shoplift it out of there (I wore my white one with the flowers - a rather stupid idea now that I think about it: wearing a vintage hat to a sale with a lot of vintage hats. Oh well. Thinking ahead was never my strong suit anyway). Grrrrrrrr! That lady would have to pry MY vintage hat from my cold dead fingers! Thankfully (for me...and for Ryan, who is not a fan of conjugal prison visits), a quick "No!" and swiftly walking away ended the matter. She had another million screaming people to deal with.

After the scary costume sale, we stopped for breakfast at a little hole-in-the-wall cafe in Ashland. By the time we were finished eating, the stores were opening up, so we spent a good deal of time just wandering around the shops. We admired many of the touristy boutiques, but didn't purchase anything. Sometimes the fun is in the browsing!

Finally, we had exhausted our shopping reserves, and decided to head home. When we reached the car, we saw that it was only about 12:30 - the day was still young! So we decided to head to an Estate Sale in Medford. We figured it would most likely be picked clean by the time we got there (and it was), but I still thought it would be fun to look, and it was on our way home anyway. After a rather interesting round-about drive to get there, we finally found the home. Yes, sadly, I missed the good stuff: mink coats, vintage picture hats, the works! I wanted to cry! But after poking around, I discovered one lovely little coat in the downstairs closet which I knew had to come home with me! It's 1920's in style (it may possibly be that old - I can't tell! Anyone who has any input is welcome to comment!), with a low-tying waist, two clasps, and a top button closure. A little big on me, but wearable. At $10, who could refuse?! Besides, it matched my hat! So home with me it came! Jugi helped me model it later...

I look about as exhausted as I feel in this picture! But I have my Jugi in my arms, and that means that I am at least a very happy exhausted person!

Here's a great shot of me taking off the coat...gotta love that candid expression (thanks a lot, Ryan).

I have since tried researching the company on the label ("B.F. Schlesinger and Sons") but have been unable to find any useable information. So I have no idea if it IS a legitamate coat from the 1920's, or a later reproduction. Here is a picture of the label, and the beautiful top button.

When we got home, two surprises awaited me! My Negresse potato tubers and my owl brooch (from my wonderful friend and fellow beader, Emerald Window) had FINALLY arrived! Happy Day! Isn't the brooch beautiful? I love the golden oak branch she added to the piece. I think I will wear it with my new old coat!

And finally, two great pieces of gardening-related news!:

1) We ate the first of the sweet corn last night! I was so excited! And to add to my glee, I noticed that the Oaxacan Green Dent Corn is quite plentiful in my patch! The ears are getting large, and some plants have up to two ears on them! Everything I read on this variety of corn said to only expect one ear per plant. Yay for me!

2) The tomatoes are finally coming on line. Look at today's harvest (my hand for scale)!

Also in the Farm-Related News:

Ryan has decided it is high time to dry off our does. I have to admit, while I will be relieved to not have to deal with all that milking season entails soon, I don't know if I am quite ready to say goodbye to fresh dairy products. Ryan and I have decided that, after our very rough milking season this year, we will be taking a break next year. No kiddings, no milking, and sadly, no cheese. BUT that also means no due date/labor/insane vet bill stress, so the pro's are pretty nice...still, I don't want to have to go back to store bought milk! Sigh...

And now, to leave you with a happy picture of two best buds:

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

What's For Dinner?

The garden is FINALLY coming on line with respect to tomato and pepper production (yippee!). So, the other night I decided to make a multi-course meal showcasing our wonderful plethora of garden produce (normally I'm not this fancy when it comes to making meals - barring the B&B of course - so Ryan was in for a treat!).

Here is how the menu read:
Armenian "cucumber," tomato, and basil salad with olive oil and balsamic
Chilled Zucchini soup with basil and purslane


Sliced sourdough rolls with melted cheddar, tomatoes, peppers, and rosemary

Leftover Apple Crisp with Lemon Verbena from the morning