Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Weedy Vintage

So as I was standing by the back of the house, trying to get a picture of the vintage outfit I wore yesterday to celebrate the warmer weather, I looked down at the "weeds" surrounding my feet and realized something: I was standing in Miner's Lettuce!

Just goes to show that one person's weeds are another person's tasty salad ingredient. :) Get to know what you grow (even if it's inadvertently)!

Why Grow Heirlooms?

Here's a hint:

A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition compared USDA data from 1950 to 1999, and found that overall the nutrient content of conventionally grown vegetables (i.e. the ones you are buying in the store or the novel hybrids you grow in your garden) has decreased. The study looked at 13 nutrients in 43 crops, and it was found that, on average, all minerals evaluated have declined, 2 out of 5 vitamins have declined, and protein content has dropped by 6%. The researchers hypothesized that the declines may be caused by "decades of selecting food crops for high yield, with resulting inadvertent trade-offs of reduced nutrient concentrations." Many gardeners have already discovered that older heirloom vegetable and fruit varieties have better flavor than high-yielding hybrids. Now this study suggests that they may be more nutritious, too! So give heirlooms a try in your garden this year and taste the difference! RETURN TO YOUR ROOTS! ;)

- Source: "Changes in USDA Food Composition Data for 43 Garden Crops, 1950 to 1999." Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol. 23, No. 6, 2004.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Horehound: Did You Know?...

Horehound (a member of the mint family) is an excellent companion plant for tomatoes and peppers because it stimulates and aids in fruiting!

Horehound's tiny flowers
attract Braconid & Icheumonid wasps, and Tachnid & Syrid flies. The larval forms of these insects pray on many other insect pests.

This year, why not give horehound a try in your tomato patch?

Tractor Work

Easter Sunday turned into an absolutely beautiful day, so while our holiday dinner cooked, the entire family went out into the 2nd Garden plot to work.

Grammy weeded, I planted, Ryan tilled the soil (for the third time this year!) with the tractor, and Gramps "spotted" to make sure Ryan didn't accidentally back into a fence or something equally bad (we have a strict rule on the property: absolutely no tractor work unless there is someone else there to watch you!).

If you've ever read "Little House on Prairie," you may remember that in the last half of the book you hear the description of a "sod garden" - this is basically what we have here on the property. No amount of tilling (and never mind trying to weed those two ENORMOUS areas!) ever gets rid of the grass completely. The point is to work the soil enough times BEFORE planting in order to give the garden veggies time to outgrow the grass.

I once had a rather rude guest snippily ask me why I "'let' my garden go to weeds?" After promptly smacking them (I'm just kidding, though the thought was indeed tempting!), I replied that there is no "letting" the weeds in. It's more a matter of, after a certain point, you just give up and let the weeds do what they will, because the vegetables are large enough to out compete them. Considering that every year I have an enormously varied and successful garden harvest, I don't think that I'm doing anything wrong. Clearly, the grasses aren't choking out the plants to a point that affects my harvest. In any case, we have found what works best for us in our garden, and that is the method we are sticking to. In the end, that's all that matters.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

An*tiqu*ing: (verb) 1. A shopping activity involving antiques

Ryan and I went out yesterday to explore a new antique store that had recently opened up in one of the historic buildings of Medford. There wasn't a huge selection just yet (they are still putting stock out), but the prices were PHENOMENAL! I bought an adorable crinoline half slip for $1 (a "mildly" poofy confection with lots of lace and bows), and Ryan bought himself a new "toyl" for the steal price of $10!

I wore my vintage dress out (the one that I put a new zipper into), and received lots of compliments on it!

I was excited to have an outfit with which to wear my favorite pair of orange shoes!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Some Completed Sewing Projects...

I had my grandmother babysit my mischievous little house kittens (yes, I have exchanged human babies for a multitude of furry and feathered ones!) today so that I could really sit down to some serious sewing. Kittens are, of course, hazardous to any projects involving string. The first project was altering an adorable little 1950's house coat that belonged to my grandmother. It was very large on me (I looked like I was wearing a tent!), but I took it in on the sides and put two darts in the back (to give it a bit of an empire-like waist), and now look how well it fits! I love the embroidered bees on either pocket!

Next (and the project that I am REALLY proud of due to the level of difficulty involved - not the least because the fabric is so slippery!), is the 1950s ballgown that I bought at the yard sale a few weekends ago. I think it was originally made for someone my size, and was then altered for the previous (larger) owner with matching fabric inserts in the shoulder straps and sides. A little ironic. Anywho, I didn't want to get too involved with cutting the fabric inserts out, so instead I opened up the back seams and "tucked" the inserts in, then stitched the seams closed again.


For the sides, I made matching darts, and even though they ended up being a little uneven from top-to-bottom, the "noise" of the skirt hides my mistakes well.

I really, really love this dress!

I think I may end up wearing it for the "Mad Hatter" tea party we're throwing soon (get it? I love hats - I'm the crazy hat lady! Har de har har har...). Now the only question is: What hat shall I wear with this...?

A Quick Walk in the Garden...

The Kale, Sweet Woodruff, and Parsnips are blooming!

Align Center

T is for TULIPS!

April is "Tulip Month" around here, as that is the time when all of the tulips in our front yard burst into a beautiful display of color!

The bees especially love these flowers.
Who can be depressed when surrounded by such beauty?!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

More Vintage Fun & Excitement (For Me, Anyway)!

Another great shopping day at the thrift store, at least if you were looking for vintage!

I found 4 dresses (one of which unfortunately doesn't quite fit, so I will have to do some creative altering if I want to wear it...I know, I know, ANOTHER sewing project to add to my list), and also helped my vintage buyer to purchase a 1960s/70s Lilli Ann nautical coat and matching sheath dress (it was too big for me or I would have snagged it), as well as a real python skin black purse! In some ways it's fun knowing another lovely lady who buys/sells vintage!

One of the dresses I purchased today (label reads "Miss Elliette") was in need of some serious TLC. The original zipper had been completely destroyed, so I had to carefully remove the old one and sew a new one in.

The good news is that thanks to my yard sale hopping, I have a grocery bag full of old metal zippers in assorted lengths and colors, so I already had one on hand that worked perfectly.

I may not be an expert seamstress, but putting in a new zipper isn't that difficult, especially now that I have finally discovered the zipper foot attachment to my sewing machine (oh, where have you been all of my life?!?!). This of course prompted the internal question of: How in the world did I sew in zippers all of these years WITHOUT it???

I received my 1940's "birthday hat" in the mail today! I have been drooling over it for months on Etsy, and finally scrounged together the funds to buy it. I'm a sucker for unique '40s hats.

My grandmother also gave me one of her house coats from the 1950's, which I managed to alter into an adorable dress. I'll get pictures of that soon, as well as the awesome "Square Dance" dress that I bought at the last yard sale for ~$1. It was HUGE (I looked like I was wearing a tent when I first tried it on), but after taking it in 6" on either side of the bodice, I managed to make it fit. Need to buy a large white belt for it though...

Speaking of dollar dresses from that last yard sale, I finally picked up this lovely ruched and bubbled 1950's prom dress from the dry cleaners. While the dress was beyond cheap, the dry cleaning bill was NOT. Talk about sticker shock: $28! OUCH! But the good news is that it's cleaned and pressed and (after I take it in a bit to fit me) ready to be worn.

So, for all of my lovely fellow gardeners who read this blog and wonder why, with spring here, am I not posting more plant-related materials? Well, we have had an abnormally cool, wet spring. Lots and lots and lots of "fun" frosts. My peas and favas germinated, and have just been sitting there, not knowing what to do with this crazy weather. The aphids are trying to take over my greenhouse (and my tomato starts), which always seems to happen about this time of year. So, in short, gardening right now is at a depressing stand still, while we all hold our breath and wait for truly warm temperatures. In the meantime, here is what a million tomato and pepper starts look like when they are crammed into a greenhouse. :)

But who can be depressed for long with so many tulips blooming in the front yard??:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Spring Cleaning (& You're Never Too Old To Play "Dress Up!")

With warmer weather (and therefore tourist season) quickly approaching, I realized that it was time to clean out the guest bedroom closets! During the winter months, I tend to use them as excess craft/sewing projects storage. Unfortunately, I have fallen vastly behind in my projects (namely, altering and repairing vintage clothing), so I finally rounded everything up that I would not realistically be able to work on anytime soon, and sold it to a wonderful local buyer. She sells at various antique malls and on ebay, and I always give her a good price (and often buy other items from her!), so we have a great business relationship. I sold her a vintage clothing "lot" consisting of about 35 pieces of everything from formal dresses to crinolines. There were lucite shoes, mink & leather gloves, 1940's wedding veils, etc. So, while it was difficult for me to say goodbye, I ended up with a good amount of funds to put towards my birthday! My husband is taking 10 days off of work next month to celebrate my birthday, and I plan to have a large budget to go out and partake in an all day "birthday date" with him!

In other news, I went a yard sale the other day where I found numerous beautiful vintage formal dresses! I sold most to the vintage buyer, but kept a few for myself. Here is my favorite of the lot: a lemon yellow 1960's formal gown, with silver sequins and a gorgeous train. I feel like a Goddess in it! - VERY feminine piece.

In short, you are never too old to play dress up!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Twice the Squeaky Fun!


This morning, I received my long-awaited phone call from the Jacksonville Post Office: my 10 Indian Runner ducklings had arrived (I could even hear them squeaking in the background over the phone)! I was SO excited!

I was actually supposed to receive my ducklings last Wednesday, but when they arrived at the Post Office every single one was dead. I was incredibly heartbroken at the loss of life. Despite that horrible event, McMurray Hatchery sent me another shipment of ducklings this week, and all arrived alive and squeaky! I was very relieved!

We ordered 1 male and 9 female black Indian Runner ducklings. When they grow up they will be a beautiful black bird with green iridescent feathers. Right now, however, they are 10 tiny adorable black puffballs. I call them the Squeaks of Doom. They look like normal ducklings, but you can tell when they run that they are most definitely Runner Ducks! They all arrived wearing leg bands, which Ryan has promised to help me remove tonight (my vision is currently blurry from my eye exam so I'm unable to do it myself at the moment). They are SUCH cute little babies! I love their tiny wing "puffs" and their adorable squeaks, as well as the way they tilt their head up in profile to look at you...I have always loved ducks.

I just got back from having my eyes dilated for my annual eye exam, and I joked that when I left there were 10 ducklings, but when I came back, there were 20!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A 1941 Dress Gets Some New Love

I scored a wonderful vintage Maid of Honor dress from 1941 for $30 today! The people selling it on craigslist said that it had been worn by their Grandma Morley.

Here's a view of the back of the dress:

It's a beautiful, full-length, soft peachy-pink satin, and is (to me anyway) a classic example of the late 30s/early 40s style. It has a boat neck collar, slightly ruched sleeves, and a metal side zipper.

The dress also came with a set of matching cut-off "gloves" and an adorable open-back bonnet.

(Question: why am I always wearing my farm chore clothing when I take pictures of my cute vintage hats?! *laughing*)

As can be expected with a dress this old, some of the seams have opened up and require mending, but thankfully nothing major. The dress will be making a trip to the dry cleaners for pressing and to see if they can remove some moderate staining.

Overall, it's in excellent condition, and I am VERY pleased with my purchase! Plus, it fits like a glove and looks gorgeous on me. *cheeky grin*