Monday, January 31, 2011

It's Almost Like Getting a New Hat...

So, as I was re-organizing my armoire and sorting through hat boxes, look what I came across! It was sitting, wrapped in tissue paper, at the bottom of a small moving box. Forgotten. For about FOUR years. I can't believe I forgot about this poor little hat!!! Apparently, I had forgotten that I was storing it in the bottom of the box, since I was using the box to store another, more delicate "whimsy" type of hat on top. Ooops. I purchased this hat in Utah shortly before we moved here, so that's about four years ago or so...

On the bright side, I still love it, and it's practically new to me at this point!

So let's all have a good laugh about this one...

Signs of Spring!

It may only be the last day of January, but I don't have to look too hard to find signs of spring. The comfrey and valerian are waking up, sending the first tender purple/green shoots up out of soil. I have noticed signs of germination in my salad greens beds, and even my asparagus are beginning to poke upwards toward the top of the soil and the sunshine. So you see, while there may still be a couple more months left of winter, the plants and I know that soon the time of growth & green will be here!

Today I worked for quite a few hours, moving more compost onto the 2nd Garden. When I grew tired of that, I weeded a few more raised beds, filled them with fresh compost, and seeded them with sorrel and leftover salad greens seeds. I have decided that one can't have too much sorrel (or salad greens, really), since apparently it's so difficult for restaurants and such to find it around here. So I decided to double my sorrel patch this year. Plus, it's one of the few greens that I grow that laughs in the face of winter's cold. I can walk out there in January and pick myself enough greens for a salad. Of course, one needs to keep in mind the Oxalic acid content of the leaves, but I've never had a problem with it (and let's face it, I'm a bit of rebel). My husband loves sorrel too - he'd easily overgraze the entire patch if I let him. Sorrel becomes too bitter for most palates once the weather warms, but after the first frosts (so from fall to late spring) the leaves become sweet and tender again. So if you already have an established sorrel patch, this would be a good time to start nibbling on it.

A Way To Remember...

As I was reorganizing my old armoire in preparation for the arrival of my 2nd one next weekend, I came across this lingerie/garment bag hidden amongst my vintage hankies. Based on the cover, I know it must have been purchased by my grandfather sometime during his training in the Marines.

The training facility was located in North Carolina at Camp Le Jeune. I actually have my grandfather's "year book" from his time spent there that has all kinds of pictures of the men training at this facility.

Since I do not use garment bags, I thought this would make a fabulous pillow covering! It has a lovely fringe, and it's already perfectly-sized for a pillow.

I would just have to insert the pillow and put a zipper on the open side of the bag, and voila! Decorative throw pillow! This way, I would be able to use and enjoy this wonderful piece of history, and every time I looked at it, I would think of my grandfather and his youthful adventures.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Getting Organized (As Best As Possible)

Ryan and I are picking up/purchasing our 2nd armoire next weekend (a cute little vintage one that was once used in a Roseburg bed and breakfast!), and I wanted to start reorganizing my vintage items in order to prepare. I asked Ryan to patch the back of my current armoire, that way it's completely closed up and moths can't sneak in (yes, we have moth problems here...grrrrr). I make my own moth repellent sachets using my own homegrown herbs and oils, and I have noticed that they work very well in ENCLOSED spaces! However, anywhere that gets a lot of air flow (like an armoire with a giant hole in the back for TV wires and such) won't hold the moth-repelling scents quite as well or as long. Moths are wily, opportunistic little creatures, and will wage warfare on your wardrobe before you even know they're there!...

...Anywho, I've lost track of my point...

Well, let's take another brief tangent to discuss my all-natural herbal moth-repellent sachets. The actual sachet I make out of a vintage linen napkin that I cut in half! I always sew in a loop of cord at the top of the sachet so that I can hang it off of a coat hanger. As far as herbs go: I grow large amounts of sweet woodruff on my property, which has been used since medieval times for its wonderfully sweet smell when dry. I use it to perfume the insides of dresser drawers, and I also throw it into my moth sachets to help offset some of the other (less favorable to people) smells. Next in the sachet comes a large pinch of dried wormwood, and then I always throw in a small stick of cinnamon and a handful of whole cloves. Finally, I soak the thing in lavender and camphor oil, and hang it up in my closet (making sure it does not come in contact to any clothing or other fabrics!). Usually I throw a few chips of cedar into the closet as well for good measure. These work VERY well in small (enclosed!!) spaces, and normally, within a few hours, if there are any moths present in the closet, you will see them come flying out (at which point, we send them to their maker). Yes, I realize that it's not the adult moth that destroys clothing - it's actually the larvae - but if I kill off/repel the adults, at least I'm eliminating the possibility of more babies. This is a fragile theory, so please don't contradict me or I might cry.

So, long story short, I reorganized this armoire to hold all of my short wool and vintage fur coats, as well as a few hats and hat boxes (filled with hats). The armoire has three drawers at the bottom, and the top drawer I organized to hold my feminine underthings and other unmentionable female attire pieces. The middle drawer contains all of my vintage purses and gloves (all 18 pairs of them...I think I need to stop buying gloves), as well as a pair of Kewpie dolls that my grandfather gave my grandmother when they were dating.

The bottom drawer I have deigned to share with my husband (*grin*), and holds our socks and undergarments.

The "new" armoire will hold all of my long wool/fur coats and dresses, and (because it is a shorter armoire with a flat top) I will be able to stack my remaining hat boxes on top of it! Hurray for storage solutions!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

$3 Will Buy You True (Vintage) Love

Ok, I love this dress (and I mean L-O-V-E this dress!!!!!!!!)! Ryan and I stopped by the Sally Store on our way to look at an armoire I was thinking of buying (to store some of my lovely vintage fur pieces in). I didn't have more than a moment to run into the Sally and browse, but look what I found! A GORGEOUS little classic-style 1940's dress in pristine condition w/metal side zipper and front pockets! And look at the detailing on the pockets and collar! SO cute! I love the coloring, and it's so comfy to wear...So yes, $3 really CAN buy you happiness! And it comes 100% husband approved!

(I actually got a rather adoring, puppy-dog-style look from Ryan when he saw me in it, so I am guessing that it IS a hit! *grin*)

And P.S. - We're picking up the adorable vintage armoire next weekend! It was once used in a B&B in Roseburg, and now the cycle will continue when it's used in MY bed and breakfast!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Happy Post-National Chocolate Cake Day!

(Yesterday's celebration was so good, I think I'm going to do it again! *laughing*)

I've been pulling some long hours on the farm lately, getting gardening areas ready for planting, trying to catch up on my rather loooooooooong list of sewing/mending projects, spring cleaning the house, taxes, and just general insanity. Grammy's been quarantining the kittens for me, which has really upped my indoor productivity levels (it's very hard to accomplish anything with wily kittens underfoot!). The only thing I have not managed to get to as of yet is my weaving project. I LOVE weaving, but it seems that this year I just have not had the time. There is a project that I have been looking forward to doing, and I think I am just going to have to put other things on hold and simply DO it. I am going to weave several large panels of blue fabric with pink hearts interspersed. Once I have enough fabric made, I am going to make myself a pretty circle skirt out of it! Won't that look cute!?! I've been wanting to start this project for ages now...

Yesterday, I managed to get one of the carrot raised beds completely filled with compost. Here on the farm, onions and carrots are the two staples that we just never seem to have enough of! So I am sacrificing one of my sweet potatoes beds for an extra carrot patch.

I spent some time yesterday transplanting lilacs, roses, yarrow, and borage. Some of the roses and lilacs have not been thriving in their original locations, so I transplanted them into the herb garden where they will get more sun and water. Yarrow, which truly does "spread joyfully" as Richo of Horizon Herbs claims, needed some thinning and relocating so that it didn't take over the herb bed. And the borage - which I have always (incorrectly, apparently) thought of as a delicate annual, has been coming up (from windblown seeds) all over the herb garden this month! So I have gently dug up the borage sprouts and replanted them in the strawberry patch. Borage is the perfect companion plant for just about anything! It improves flavor and protects against pests (especially with tomatoes and strawberries!).

The first true leaves are appearing on my artichoke sprouts, and soon it will be time to transplant all of them into larger "adult" 4 inch pots. We are currently experiencing our annual January/February 2 week warming spell. Though the nights have still remained a chilly 28 degrees or so, the days have been in the 50s and 60s! Warm enough to work outside in short sleeves!

I cooked the last of our Sweet Meat heirloom winter squash last night. I'm so sad that there won't be any more squash for another 9 months or so! But the one I cooked (which I also saved many, many seeds from) must have weighed at least 20 pounds! I could BARELY fit all of the pieces in my oven! With some of the cooked squash I made my delicious fall/winter staple meal: Squash Risotto with (our own) Cornmeal-Fried Shrimp. SO GOOD! And for dessert, I made a sour cherry pie using some of the cherries we canned last summer! Ryan said it's the best pie he's ever eaten. *grin* I don't normally brag, but I do make the world's best pie crust. When you cut into it, you can see the flaky layers that sort of remind me of phyllo dough.

Well, back to work!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My $4 Must-Have LBD!

(i.e "Little Black Dress")

Had to take my grammy out shopping today, and we decided to stop by the Sally Shop to see what new (and inexpensive) goodies they had gotten in. I always have the BEST luck there, and today was no exception! For $4 (minus a discount), I snagged this ADORABLE 1950's little black dress! It is made of I believe a taffeta, and it buttons up the front. It's clearly homemade, though I have to say that whoever made it was NOT experienced with button holes! They made them far too close to the edge (so a few ripped through the edge of the dress fabric due to strain of wear), and one or two aren't quuuiiiiiite large enough to actually get the button through. There are also numerous small holes (moth bites?) in the skirt portion of the dress. So, as you can see, I have yet another mending project to add to my already large pile, but it's SO worth it! I love-Love-LOVE this dress!! Can't wait for the day when I can finally buy my red crinoline slip - won't that look sexy underneath?!?

Monday, January 24, 2011

When You're Feeling Blue...Sew!

(So yes, I have just realized that my pink dress is the same color as my pink bedroom walls...I'm CAMOUFLAGED!!)

I've been feeling incredibly under the weather today, so in an effort to stay inside and recoup (as opposed to my original plan of pulling another looooong day moving compost), I sat myself in front of my sewing machine and got back to work on some of my projects. I finished letting out the seams on the other side of that pink dress I purchased yesterday. It now fits and looks oh-so-snazzy!

The pictures aren't the best because my husband stole the camera tripod (thief!) and I can't find's probably in his man cave - excuse me, WORKSHOP.

My big project (that I started months ago!) is my 1940's wedding dress that I have been re-sizing to fit my slightly larger frame. The problem is that the lace is SO delicate it's a real pain to work with, and right now I am trying to add lace panels into the arms (which is why in the photo the sleeves are opened) so that I can get my own incredibly muscular farm girl arms into the sleeves. I finally got frustrated and decided to quit for the day before I ruined what I had already accomplished. The good news is that I got my pink dress done, one of my 1950's dresses mended, and some more work done on the wedding dress. So it was a bit of a productive day!

Oh, this is what I look like when I accidentally drop the camera in the middle of the timer going off. This face says, "Oooops! Is the camera ok?"

How To Buy Vintage For $20 A Day

Yesterday I snagged an adorable 1940's or 1950's vintage dress for $20 from a supposed "garage sale" in Medford. The woman had a nice selection of dresses, but was ridiculous about her prices. She wouldn't even haggle, even when some of the vintage dresses were in SERIOUS need of TLC! There was one beautiful 1930's style black velvet dress, but it was in bad (albeit repairable) shape and not worth her $20 asking price! It makes me angry when people have garage/yard/estate SALES and don't realize that your prices CANNOT be firm! It's a "SALE" for crying out loud! You are EXPECTED to haggle/go a little lower, even if it's only 10%! You will sell soooooooooooooo much more!!! I would have happily walked away with three or four more dresses if the woman selling them had obeyed this advice, but at that point it was the principle of the matter!

Anywho...the pink dress is adorable (with lots of cute detailing) and PERFECT for my coloring, but it's really tight in the hips. I let the seams out on one side, but I think I will end up needing to do that on the other side as well...Yet another sewing project to add to my already growing pile...I think I need to lock the kittens out of the bedroom and spend a day catching up on my mending & alteration projects!

The tag on the dress reads "Bettilou," and I love the little front pockets and navy blue buttons!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Go To Your Happy Place

My greenhouse is one of my favorite places to be in the cooler months. It stays at least 20 degrees warmer than the outside temperature, and it's filled with Happy Plants.

Being in the greenhouse never fails to bring a smile to my face!

It's a Leek-y Jungle out there!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Hard Night's Day

After a night of very little sleep (and even worse dreams), I finally gave up and left the bed at about 3 am (after having been up since 1:30 am). I had pulled a very looooooong day yesterday: hauling several hours' worth of compost from the pile to the 2nd Garden, and then making 2 truck runs with Ryan to go grab (14) 100 lb. bales of hay, as well as doing evening chores! I was BEAT! So it came as a surprise that after having trouble getting to sleep, I had an even more difficult time staying there! The good news is that today was insanely productive, even if I was incredibly exhausted. Ryan got those new portions (that I put compost on) of the 2nd Garden rototilled, and I was able to plant about 50 feet each of bush peas, pole peas, fava beans, spinach, and buckshorn plantain. I also planted some perennial herbs that were large enough to survive outside at this point, namely lavender and rosemary. Ryan thinned out the strawberry patch for me, and we planted the 100 or so "extra" strawberries in their new home in the southeast corner of the 2nd Garden. I also pulled up some borage, comfrey, and yarrow sprouts from the herb garden and transplanted them amongst the newly planted strawberries. In the freshly thinned strawberry bed, Ryan planted some Elephant Garlic. Fingers are crossed that the ground squirrels won't eat it all again this year! After rototilling the garden for me, Ryan also turned the compost pile (which steamed like mad!) and began scraping out the male llama pasture (and putting the poo onto my other Pasture Garden). Spring is nearly here - I can feel it!!

Now, evening chores are almost finished, and I am working on starting a fire in the living room woodstove. We are about ready to settle in for an evening of hard-earned RELAXING!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Up & Over the First Big Hurdle

Well, after putting in the "final" few hours of moving compost from the poo pile to the 2nd Garden, I now have the entire spring planting section covered and ready to be rototilled!! YAY! That is roughly 2/3 of that enormous garden plot covered with compost! The only 1/3 remaining is where the corn and squash will go. As that won't be getting planted til around May, I have some time. Tomorrow, Ryan will take the tractor's rototiller attachment and till these sections of soil for me, and then I will finally be able to plant my peas, extra strawberries, perennial herbs, etc.!

I was so sweaty and smelly and exhausted from moving all that compost that I came immediately inside, threw my clothing in the laundry, and showered. I even had to wash my hair because there was a slight breeze outside this morning, and I had flecks of compost and other assorted unmentionables in it. I won't even tell you what blowing my nose was like!

Thankfully, clean clothes, a refreshing shower, and a lunch of leftover homemade pizza will go a long way to restoring your sense of equilibrium.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thrifty Round #2

I needed a break from the compost pile (and the farm) today, so, with the excuse of grocery shopping, I ventured forth into town!

Ryan and I have been suffering from the winter time nutritional "blahs" lately. I had to pull up my carrot and winter salad patches (don't worry - not the sorrel patch!) to make way for this spring's seeds, so there's not much left in the garden for us to munch on at the moment. Sigh. So in the meantime, we have to survive on store food. Bleh. I'm trying to make the best of it though! Tonight's dinner is homemade sourdough pizza. I flavored the sourdough with the focaccia bread seasonings that my mother-in-law gave us, and the pizza will be topped with onions, mushrooms, broccoli, BACON, and cheddar cheese, and of course the sauce will be my own homemade recipe! There will be an accompanying salad liberally smothered in blue cheese crumbles (I've been having a cheese craving). So dinner tonight will help a bit with the no-fresh-veggies blues...

Anywho, where was I...?

Oh yes, I figured that mentally and physically I needed a break from the farm & garden today, so I ventured into town for a little grocery & thrift store shopping. I picked up three lovely pairs of shoes for wearing with my vintage outfits (one is a snazzy little pair of leather pumps made in Italy), three vintage purses, a pair of pretty gloves, and a hand saw for Ryan.

I wore my 75 cent Lilli Ann dress out! I love that dress!

Yay for thrift store shopping adventures!!
(I don't get out much - can you tell?)

And when I got home, my lovely blog giveaway package had arrived! I love-love-loooooooove the brooch best of all (though everything I received is fab!). It's a 3D underwater scene...soooo cool...

And finally, I "played" with moldy, squishy, yellow cucumbers today, scraping out the seeds into a cup and allowing the fermentation process to begin! Nothing screams seed saving like handling squishy yellow cukes!!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My Butt's Been Kicked By A Poo Pile

There is something about a steaming pile of compost in the cool morning that makes me think of the misty moors of English literature. On the farm we like to call this, "Setting the Mood." It's what you do when you have a stinky or unfavorable task to accomplish, and you need to take your mind off of things. I have decided that pretending I am playing on the moors of England is MUCH better than, say, planning what I will eat for lunch as I scoop poo.

After an hour and a half of pushing a heavily compost-laden wheel barrow up and down a rather steep incline, I managed to finish off the first "section" of 2nd Garden from fence line to fence line. That is roughly 70 feet x 20 feet of 6" of compost. Ok, Ok, the tractor did most of it, but I got quite a large patch finished today using only my trusty poo shovel and wheel barrow. Don't mess with me.


Now it's time for me to take a break and go into town to run errands. Well, I'm going to get cleaned up first of course!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Just Because You're Poor Doesn't Mean You Can't Buy Vintage!

Today's Thrift Store Adventures were very, V-E-R-Y rewarding! I managed to score a brand new Aladdin oil lamp for $10 (these things normally sell for $100 or more), and a 1970's Adolph Schuman for Lilli Ann dress for 75 cents!

A 75 cent "Oriental" themed 1960s/1970s handmade dress with cloth belt.

Best deal of the day - a 75 cent 1970's Adolph Schuman for LILLI ANN dress! Looooooooooooove it!

It has the COOLEST two-tone front, and pockets too!

My $7 1950's silk 2-piece dress. It's handmade, and though it's seen better days (seam straining, some shattering of the silk around the armpits), it still has SO MANY years left!

Please excuse my slightly too-long & lumpy crinoline...I really need to get rid of this one and buy myself a better one...someday...

Here's WITH the adorable bolero button-up jacket!

Having a funny moment! :P

This is my other $7 1950's 2-piece dress. This one is the worse for wear - strap needs to be re-stitched the dress, and for whatever reason someone sewed weird pieces of fabric all over the poor skirt! I think they were using it as a costume, but still! SACRILEGE!

Here's WITH the adorable button-up bolero jacket.

Cute little $5 vintage hand-held mirror with brocade fabric back.

1940's crochet purse with black satin lining, old metal zipper, and reverse-carved lucite "handle."