Sunday, July 31, 2011

I Love My Job...Some Days...

I told Ryan the other day that I both simultaneously love and loathe my job as an innkeeper (yes, technically, we are both innkeepers, but he works 40 hours a week outside of the home, so when push comes to shove, I'm really a one woman superhuman force). I love sharing our dream with people who appreciate the concept and the hard work that went (and still continues to go) into it. I like adding those tiny little details to the rooms - and the overall inn - that make it a more unique & enjoyable stay than at any other B&B. I adore "playing with food" when constructing breakfast, and concocting eye-catching and delicious creations using ingredients fresh off of the farm. Most of all, I love meeting new people and making new friends. That all being said, there are of course down sides to the profession. You are inviting complete strangers into your own home (since we are only a two bedroom B&B, it IS just our house and not a commercial inn downtown), and sometimes they subtly (or not so subtly) insult the house/room/grounds, and even though you know you can't please everyone, it's still difficult not to be hurt and take what they say to heart. I have long said that the good guests make doing this worthwhile, but the bad guests are what usually stick out most in your mind. The good news is that we always have a far larger proportion of pleasant guests to unpleasant, and the "bad" ones make for great stories you can try and chuckle about (much) later. This year, we have been blessed with an even higher-than-normal number of pleasant folks staying with us. We've made more new friends, and I have felt very blessed indeed.

Recently, a very talented milliner and her husband came to stay with us. I was in hog heaven! Finally, a fellow hat lover to "talk shop" with! We had fun looking over my favorite hats, sharing ideas, and generally gabbing. We ended up trading some items, and I was gifted with the wonderfulness that was 2 beautiful vintage dresses and 1 gorgeous feathery vintage hat! Vintage is pretty much the quickest way to endear yourself to me permanently. One of the dresses is the most beautiful sheer lace flapper dress I have ever seen! So delicate I am almost afraid to wear it, but in amazing condition for something that is about 90 years old! Just a few tears in the lace, and the lining of the hem needs to be reattached in places. I'll need to figure out a slip to wear under it if I ever do wear it out somewhere, but for now I am content to just stare at it adoringly. The other dress was a gorgeous floral print silk(?) with a metal side zipper and a similar style to my late 1930s FOGA dress. Therefore, I would put the dress at between 1935-39 or so. Lovely! A little big on me, but with a belt you can't even tell! And the hat is a wonderful little 1950s black velvet creation with ostrich feathers all around - very fun and cute! A big thank you to Jeanna for her wonderful gifts!

I'll get some better pictures later (I was trying to hurry before our check-in arrived), but here are some in the meantime to give you an idea...

Speaking of guest check-in, August is looking pretty booked (for us, anyway). I am SO excited to finally see our B&B doing better, but I am a little concerned that I may be needing my own vacation at the end of the month! Farm sitters, anyone?...

First Heirloom Tomato of the Season!

(and it's my favorite!)

The first tomato of the season was picked and eaten in orgasmic taste bud pleasure yesterday! It was one of my beloved Applegate Valley Heirloom Tomatoes. Small, and with a few marks of bug battle, but still delicious. I was a good and generous wife, and donated the entire tomato to Ryan (don't worry, I will blackmail him for a hat later). I've never heard him make those noises while eating something before...

Looks like we are a week or two away from some of the Orange Fleshed Purple Smudge tomatoes ripening. I think the Joya de Oaxaca and the other AVH tomatoes will be still further out in the ripening spectrum (but believe me, they are worth the wait!).

Tomato Harvest Time is nearly here...I'm so excited!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My Favorite Vintage Hats (UPDATED!)

I'm looking forward to chatting (& drooling) over a mutual love of vintage hats with a B&B guest later this week. The guest mentioned that they would love to see some of my hat collection, so I've been trying to think about which hats are my true favorites. It's a tough list...

Here are the ones that made the cut!:

1930s-early 1940s sequined tilt topper hat with cascading felt sparrows (Frank Palma Original) - VERY similar to the hat worn by Rosalind Russell in the 1939 movie, "The Women"

My 1930's "Fey-dora"

Late 1930s tilt topper hat with fake millinery bird (Frank Palma Original)

1940s GORGEOUS tilt hat with rainbow feathers!

1930s Velvet Tyrolean hat w/pheasant feathers

Late 1940s velvet "cocktail-esque" cap with a lovely spray of egret/Aigrette feathers

Late 1920s/early 1930s pink felt hat with feathers (worn by an extra in "The Curse of the Jade Scorpion!")

1940s "Architectural" hat with fuchsia calla lilies

BREATHTAKING 1940s tilt hat with a real set of double bird wings

"Bird and the Bee" 1940s-ish Jean Arlett hat

1950s spiral design bird wing hat

1930s felt and mink tilt hat with cascading calla lilies

My $4 1940s green felt tilt hat

"The Birthday Hat" - 1930s brown felt chapeau w/trailing pheasant feathers

Monday, July 25, 2011

An Original Me (By Maurer)

Today I had my first good thrift store score in a looooooong time! For $15 (I talked them down from $20) I bought a 1960s wedding dress. The label reads "Maurer Original." It has a gorgeously beaded lace bodice with handmade cutouts on the sleeves, empire waist, short train, and back metal zipper with mock buttons.

You may think I'm crazy for constantly buying vintage wedding dresses, but it makes me sad that people wear them once and then store them forever after (or simply get rid of them!). Since when did white dresses mean "wedding ONLY"?!? I like being different, so I enjoy remaking vintage wedding dresses into slightly more wearable versions. For this particular dress, I will remove the train (which makes me sad, because it's SO pretty!) and take the entire hemline up a bit to fit my much shorter frame. I am going to keep the dress long so that it flows the way it was meant to though. The lines of the dress are so simple and elegant that I can't see any reason (once I make my alterations) for not wearing it out and about!

For $15 and a few hours of alteration work, I bought myself a wonderful, WEARABLE dress that would have cost me $250 if I were to purchase it on Etsy or Ebay! YAY for me!!!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Saving Seeds...


Today, I spent most of my morning time working in my makeshift "Harvest Room," as well as in the Herb Garden. (Note: the "Harvest Room" is actually an enclosed porch on the front side of the house, and is only temporary until my husband builds my permanent harvest room on another section of the property.) I worked a bit on Chives, Parsnips, and Yellow Dock, but mainly I focused on the dry Costmary flower heads. Certain types of herbs fascinate me as far as the way that they go to seed: Costmary, Calendula, and Chamomile are some of them.

The Costmary flower heads are tiny, as you can see.

I work with a seed screen, and, using my fingernail, gently work the seeds free from the flower head.

I let them fall onto the screen, and then gently tap/shake the screen over a plastic plate.

The seeds fall through, leaving the flower petals remaining on the screen.

This is what the "empty" flower heads look like...

Costmary is a wonderful herb if you are into experimental homebrews. It was used to add a spicy flavoring to beers, thus its other name "Alecost." Costmary has a wonderful scent that it retains after drying, and so was also used in strewing and in sachets. The leaves were sometimes eaten in salads, or used as a spice. Medicinally, the plant is considered useful in treating complaints of the stomach.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The First "True" Taste of Summer!

We harvested the first of the Dragon's Tongue bush beans last night! Of course, none made it INTO the house as we stuffed our faces with one of the "true" tastes of summer. These purple-striped succulent heirloom beans are best eaten young & fresh from the garden!

Let's Talk About the Birds & the Bees...

My newest vintage hat arrived this week!

Made by Jean Arlett:

I'm really in a quandary as to the exact time period of the hat: most of the Jean Arlett hats I have seen for sale date to the circa 1960's or so. However, the tag on THIS hat is much older in appearance - more like the type of tag you would expect to see on a 1940s or early 1950s hat. And the style could be either a 1940s OR 1960s hat!...So I have no idea...Anyone else have any clues?

It's a fun and colorful vintage hat with a long, trailing feather - in other words: JUST MY STYLE!! *grin*

There is a "bird" (with fake beak) on one side and an embroidered felt bee or butterfly on the other.

This hat makes me chuckle! I call it my "poorly punned" hat!

Berserker Ducks Attack!

Proud Day in Duckdom:

Our recent B&B guests said that they saw our ducks chase (en masse) a ground squirrel away from their feed bowl. Apparently, even normally-skittish Runner Ducks can go berserk with rage when their grain is compromised.

I'm so happy.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

American Consumerism in 1927

So, as I have mentioned previously, I recently purchased a reprint of the 1927 Fall/Winter Sears Roebuck Catalog. It is an absolutely fascinating read! I have always said that if you want to understand a culture at some point in history, research what they were buying! 1927 was the height of the Sears industry. It was like Walmart on steroids and then some!

Two years before the Great Depression, America was at its height. The "flapper look" had now taken off, there was a determined trend toward the pursuit of leisure (with the help of the automobile!) and the accumulation of materialistic goods (also along this same line, the "buying on credit" trend - a contributing factor to the Great Depression (well, one of
many) and something you will note being constantly offered as a payment option in the Sears catalog).

However, keep in mind that this was still a bit of a transitional period: in the Sears catalog, you can buy accessories for your automobile as well as your horse-drawn buggy! This was also the time period for the big push for household electricity. You will note in the catalog that hand-powered is still offered on many items (even your fake Christmas tree comes with candle holders instead of electric lights!), but there are constantly full-page ads throughout toting the benefits of electric appliances and devices. Keep in mind that many rural communities didn't receive electricity until the 1930s (when the Rural Electrification Administration - a New Deal agency - was created in 1935), so manually-powered devices were still a necessity for some Sears customers. Just to give you an idea: in 1934, less than 11% of farms had electricity (statistic obtained from

This was the time period when radios were beginning to gain in popularity, but were still a "new" device. In its radio section, the Sears catalog had to write in big block letters "No radio knowledge necessary" (for installation and enjoyment). To promote radio sales, Sears created its own radio station.

Now, a word about pricing:
$1.00 in 1927 had the same buying power as $12.38 in 2011.

It is interesting to note how the prices of certain items in 1927 compare (once adjusted for inflation) to the prices of those same items today.

For the feminine side, this was the transitional period between the thick corsets of the 1800's and the bra's of modern times. You can see that corsets have morphed into a thinner, more flexible article of underthings, and while brassieres are available for sale, they are relegated to a very small portion of the page.

"Sanitary" items had not reached their modern equivalents yet either. You had the options of a "chastity belt" type of set-up where you could essentially clip on your Kotex sanitary cotton pad, or slips with rubber "guards" in back.

As I said, all in all a fascinating look at America's past.