Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Year Snow Storm

10 am on February 29th, 2012 - 4" on the ground and still snowing HARD!

Latest Sewing Projects

Well, we woke up to 2 inches of snow on the ground this morning, and it's still snowing hard. Not the insanely heavy snow fall that was originally predicted, but then again, the day isn't over yet either.

Snow days are the best days for staying inside in front of the fire and either reading or working on sewing projects. I am choosing to do the latter today! Here are my two latest sewing projects:

I am making another dress using the same pattern that I created the cool black & white checkerboard dress with! This time, I scored some gorgeous watercolor print fabric and black piping for around the collar and sleeves. It's going to be a very lovely dress when I'm finished...

Next, after MUCH searching, I found the pattern to make a nearly identical dress to the one FabGabs is currently selling (which is GORGEOUS but so unbelievably out of my price range!). Since I could not afford to buy her beautiful dress, I decided I could make my own. You can view the FabGabs dress here, and compare it with my pattern below! The most difficult part of the entire project has been finding a reasonably-priced gold fabric that I actually like. I'm still searching...Option B is to make it out of an emerald green taffeta with a gold lining for the overskirt - what do you think?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Wild West Weather

Well, the wind is roaring outside, and the temperature is dropping steadily.

I feel a bit sideswiped, as no mention seemed to be made of this terrible storm until late last night. Then, the national weather service issued this warning that was to the effect of, "Oh yeah, by the way, there's going to be like a foot of snow between tonight and tomorrow. So, be, like, forewarned. Sorry about the last minute notice! Good luck!" As I said, totally sudden announcement in my opinion! I have been running around like a madwoman today, trying to get everything on the farm ready for the high winds and heavy snow. We are almost entirely out of usable firewood (what's left is pretty much rotten and termite-ridden), so I had to scrounge and chop what I could in order to have enough firewood to last for at least the next day and a half. I emptied and refilled animal waters, made sure to weigh down any garden/farm items that might blow away, etc. Heavy snows usually mean power outages here, so I've been trying to stock up on water around the house and make sure the animal waters are full before the storm hits. Someday, I want to install a hand-pump well. I don't enjoy relying on the power company for vital things such as WATER!

In other news...

For our once-a-month date this March, Ryan and I scored front row (in the CENTER!) tickets to the Oregon Cabaret Theater's production of "Let's MisBehave." It's set in 1935 (my favorite time period!) with lots of Cole Porter songs - I'm SOOOOOO excited to go! Especially because whichever of my lovely hats makes the cut will be on display in the front row! Yippee! You can also show up early for dinner, and Ryan and I are going to do the full dinner-and-a-play experience. It's SO rare that we ever get to go out, let alone go ALL out on a date, that we wanted to really "live it up" a little!

Construction has begun on the new privacy fence between our property and the winery. I'm so relieved to see that fence go up that I cannot even begin to describe it! We will also be starting work on the Apothecary Suite deck sometime in the next couple of weeks. We have decided against an elaborate fish pond, and instead are just finishing out the empty rectangle, and putting a gazebo-like structure over the hot tub to add privacy and help shade the Apothecary Suite during those hot summer afternoons.

I have just begun germinating my tomatoes and peppers. My kale and artichokes have sprouted, and have been switched out of the germination trays and are awaiting their "adult" plant pots. I love gardening season! I have been making a little extra pocket money selling Jerusalem Artichoke tubers and herb starts to folks lately (I made the mistake of letting my Valerian, Clary Sage, Primrose, and Borage go to seed last summer, and now I have a gazillion starts all over the property that I either need to dig up and sell or destroy).

And now I must bid you adieu, and put some more logs on the fire!

I Broke the Bank...

So...I kind of broke the bank a bit...well, actually I broke my savings account...

And all I have to say is....

It was totally worth it!

So, yesterday, I purchased the most lovely (and perfect for moi!) start-up millinery kit composed of entirely vintage supplies! It was a little expensive (*she says in a guilty but excited tone*), but not when you began to add up everything that was included in the price. Not to mention the fact that I can't resist feathers in volume!


The hat-making "kit" originally belonged to a woman who was a milliner in the 1950s. That aspect really appealed to me - I liked the history as well as the ability to purchase someone's beloved collection (as opposed to a piece-meal set of millinery tools). Anywho, the "kit's" purchase price included two balsa wood hat blocks (23" size - which I realize is an inch larger than my own hat size, but I have been told by several milliners that you always want a hat block slightly larger than your actual head size) with spinners, a metal hat stand, 2+ full rolls of millinery wire in black and white, netting/mesh, a millinery diagram, and LOADS and LOADS of vintage feathers imported from France (some still in their original metal shipping case)! Like I said, I couldn't resist, especially as everything is in really good condition. So, I'll be paying back my savings account for the next 2+ months. Oh well!

Oh, the other thing I bought was a collection of vintage millinery faux bird decorations. My offer was accepted by the seller (they started out asking $85+shipping for the lot, and I got them down to $40). I L-O-V-E the cool double-wing birdie! The $40 was worth it for that one alone! I am attaching the seller's photo of the decorations. I had been trying - very unsuccessfully - to bid on the few cool faux birdie decorations I saw for auction on Ebay. The problem is that not only are these things very rare, but it's a highly collective item so competition is fierce and prices are HIGH! I feel as though I got a really good deal on this lot, and there are some very unique pieces that I am looking forward to incorporating into future hats!

I can't wait for everything to arrive so that I can start to play!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Plant Starts Available for the 2012 Gardening Season

Here is a tentative list of the plants that will be available for the 2012 gardening season. They have either just been germinated, or are currently in germination trays in the greenhouse. Thus, they will not be ready for new homes until April. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and other frost-sensitive veggies need to be placed in the ground (at least here in the Rogue Valley) NO EARLIER THAN MAY 15th (unless you plan to protect them via water teepee!).

  • Joya de Oaxaca heirloom tomato
  • Chile Negro pepper
  • Long Island Improved Brussel Sprout
  • Catskill Brussel Sprout
  • Red Russian Kale
  • Assorted heirloom artichokes (Green Globe, Purple of Romagna, & Violetta de Provence)
  • Ground Cherry
  • Armenian "Cucumber" (really a snake melon, and WILL cross-pollinate with your other melons - though NOT watermelons - giving them a cucumber flavor)
  • Habanero Pepper
  • Wax heirloom pepper
  • McMahon's Bird Pepper (heirloom)

Plant Starts Available in LIMITED Quantities (Reserve yours early!):
  • Carbon heirloom tomato
  • Black Krim heirloom tomato
  • Chapeau de Frade super-rare heirloom pepper
  • Aji Limon pepper
  • Ping Tung heirloom eggplant
  • Piel de Sapo heirloom winter melon
  • Sweet Meat Oregon heirloom winter squash
  • Prescott Fond Blanc heirloom melon
  • Yacon

I may be adding other plants as the season progresses. Email for details and pricing!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Rain Day Creativity

Rainy Day Creativity at its finest!

Here is what cabin fever, a couple of rainy days spent indoors, leftover freezer paper from turkey slaughter day, vintage lace & metal zippers, and 3 yards of spare fabric will get you! Using one of my favorite vintage dresses (gift from the lovely Jeanna) as a guide, I traced the dress parts using the freezer paper (and of course measuring for seam allowances), and sewed myself a replica of the dress in this fantastically wild checker pattern. I inserted an authentic metal side zipper (using a spare zipper from the huge bag I snatched at a yard sale for $2 a couple of years ago), and decorated the bodice with vintage lace (also scored at a yard sale for pennies). I am wearing my thrift store $2 vintage crinoline underneath that I converted into my size (it was originally a large size with snap side closure) by rolling the waist band and inserting an elastic band.

Not too shabby, eh? :)

Nifty Thrifty

The other week I stopped off at the thrift store, and was heartbroken to discover that some lady the day before (right at closing time!) had bought up all of the remaining vintage magazines! Basically, this particular thrift store had received a donation of about 20 vintage magazines (McCalls, Delineator, Pictorial Review, etc.) dating from the 1920s-1940s. At $5/magazine, they were a bit ambitiously priced for a thrift store. However, every time I stopped in, I snagged 1 or 2 copies - whichever had the best hat pictures in them! Well, I had finally decided to just bite the bullet and go ahead and purchase the remaining stack. Of course, this is when they all sold (story of my life). On the bright side, I managed to buy 10 copies, so I totally have some awesome pictures to drool over!

I think my two favorite magazines are the ones dated August 1929 (just before the Great Depression) and 1930 (post-stock market crash) - they really give you a good idea of how life started to change as a result! Fascinating!!

One of the reasons I adore vintage magazines oh so much is because I feel that they give a better idea of how people thought/felt/acted at a certain time than any history book could ever provide! It's like putting your finger on the pulse of a culture at a given moment in time.

Anywho, here are my favorite hats:

To console myself at the loss of the remaining vintage magazines, I scored this fabulous 1940s checkered dress for $5! Lately, the thrift stores (this one in particular) have been catching on to the vintage trend: holding back the good items, and pricing them astoundingly high. It's a source of irritation and upset for me, but every now and then something slips through the cracks (like this dress!). The dress label reads, "Mode O'Day," and on the bottom, ""Styled in California." The dress is composed of a swishy, synthetic fabric. It has a metal side zipper, padded shoulders, short sleeves, a button-front blouse with mock pockets, and velvet-covered buttons. VERY cute, and very much the WWII/post-WWII look!

During WWII, women's fashions became very masculine as a way of showing military support - thus (for example) the padded shoulders of dresses at the time.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Flapper Dress in our Etsy Store!

We have a really cute fuchsia pink flapper dress recently listed in our Etsy store. It belonged to a local woman who is selling off her collection. Check it out - I love the vibrant color and funky detailing on the collar and hem!

I'm BACK, Baby!

After a long blogging hiatus, I have returned!

I know that my gardening friends have probably grown tired of my vintage-only winter blog posts, so I have some excellent news: last weekend was the first official gardening event of the 2012 season (hurray!). Thanks to an enormous effort on my husband's part, we got the finished compost moved and tilled into the new back garden - all done in between the rain/snow showers - and the peas and fava beans planted. I also planted some blue vervain and black cumin seeds in the herb garden, as well as dug up/divided/replanted the comfrey and valerian, and dug up the numerous clary sage starts (note to self: never allow this to go to seed AGAIN) and replanted them around the periphery of the garden. We bought some garlic starts at our local grange co-op and planted these in the strawberry bed as well.

Unfortunately, the new garden area is directly adjacent to the chicken pasture. Within hours of planting starts into the garden, the chickens were already digging and eating them! Now, I love free range chicken eggs, but I cannot allow the chickens to destroy my food source! So, for now, I have surrounded my plant starts with circles of fencing. When my peas and favas emerge, I plan to vigorously wing-clip all of the "roamers" in the chicken flock so that they can't fly out. It may sound mean, but wing-clipping does not hurt the birds, and they have a large run with plenty to eat (they get all of the poultry grain they can eat, as well as a large daily bowl of kitchen and garden scraps, along with whatever bugs they can find). If it's a choice between limiting the freedom of 4 chickens (out of a flock of 20) and my garden, sorry, but I choose my garden!

In other news, the kale, leeks, and onions have germinated in the seed trays in the greenhouse. Next, I will be germinating the year's tomatoes! Yippee! This year, I am going to be growing only Joya de Oaxaca and the deliciously dark heirloom, Carbon.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

The Roaring Twenties Revisited!

Here are some better pictures of that FABULOUS flapper dress I purchased yesterday!

This delicate sleeveless dress has a built-in slip, and attached drop-waist "belt" that ties at the side, and is decorated at the ends with beadwork. Over the dress is worn a sheer, intricately (hand) beaded tank top.

Here is the dress without the "tank top" blouse:




Here is the full ensemble!:

As you can see, one side of the top has a hole in the center. Part of me wonders if the previous owner was wearing one of the long necklaces popular during the 20s, and perhaps the necklace snagged on the fabric?

The drop-waist belt ties at the side (and is attached to the dress in the back), and is embellished with matching beadwork:

Conditionally, the dress is wearable (with CARE!), but has numerous small holes and tears - mainly in the sheer top. The actual dress itself has a few minor pin/moth holes, as well as some seam separation along the waist, and one small tear in the tie belt. The top has the previously-mentioned center hole, and a tear under each armpit.

Some of the beadwork has also come undone, but is hardly noticeable. Here is a close-up:

There is also some very minor light-hued staining along the waist and the tie of the dress, but this too is hardly noticeable.

Long story short: this is an amazing flapper evening dress! Worn carefully, I believe it has many more nights of partying left. Now comes the incredibly difficult question: do I keep it for myself, or sell it in the Etsy store?...

Gardening Time!

In Southern Oregon, February is generally the month to plant your peas and fava beans in the ground, as well as some of your more cold-hardy herbs (ex: Blue Vervain, Black Cumin, Chives, etc.).

Now that the rotted out old oak tree has been removed, we are getting our new 53'x53' garden patch tilled and ready for spring planting!

Two Vintage Dresses & A Date!

Yesterday was an unusually gorgeous, 60-something degree February day! The sun was shining brightly, and even though the morning had started off in the mid-20s, by the early afternoon it was warm enough to go around in short sleeves!!

Ryan and I headed off on an all-day date. We've been overworked, overstressed, and underslept, and we needed to do something to relax. We are also big believers in "dating your spouse" - i.e., just because you're married doesn't mean that the romance ends. So we make sure to do fun things together once a week or so, with "big" dates about 1-2 times a month (as our meager budget allows). This helps keep our relationship fresh and going strong!

Since the Chinese New Year celebration was going on in Jacksonville, I dressed up in my vintage kimono dress (which I realize is Japanese in style, but I figured it would work for today) that I purchased last October at the Goodwill for $4.99. I threw on a pair of tights that Ryan bought me for Christmas from SockDreams - LOVE that store!! - which had a rose pattern that exactly matched the rose embroidered on the dress. I also wore my fantastic James McCreery hat, which didn't exactly match the darker red hues of the dress, but was a fun addition to the outfit anyway!

We wandered over to a new antique mall that had recently opened up on the outskirts of Medford. In it, we ran into our next door neighbor, who has a wonderful booth full of fabulous vintage barware there! Then, we went to another antique store where I found (and blew all of my hat budget money on) the most AMAZING 1920s beaded flapper dress! It HAD to come home with me!! I feel as though I need to list it in the Etsy store to justify the price, but it's too pretty...I want to keep it! I suppose this just means I need to host another Prohibition-themed party.

We also stopped for a deliciously-filling sushi lunch at Bonsai in Medford.

All in all, a FANTASTIC day!

Saturday, February 04, 2012

First Decent Thrifting Spree in AGES!

Well, I FINALLY had some success at the local thrift stores yesterday! Found some gorgeous vintage dresses and vintage magazines! Some are already in my Etsy store, and some I will be keeping for personal merriment. The husband and I are heading out again today to check out a new antique store that's opening up, as well as hit the local thrift stores again and see if my luck still holds...

Some fab vintage magazines for my reading pleasure!: two 1938 editions of Pictorial Review, along with two 1945 & one 1946 editions of McCall's.

A late 1950s/1960s stretchy gold metallic knit dress with empire waist and gold/rhinestone buckle medallion; metal back zipper; 16" slit in front. You can see and purchase in here in my Etsy store.

(TRUE-hued!) Emerald green handmade satin gown - modern creation patterned after the trumpet skirt styles of the 1930s. Narrows hips though. You can see and purchase in here in my Etsy store.

1940s/1950s men's Wittnauer wind-up wrist watch - SOLD! And heading off to Australia!

A-M-A-Z-I-N-G 1940s HANDMADE (HANDWOVEN?) sweater dress with tiny black beads woven into the fabric!! Metal side zipper, long sleeves, scalloped collar and skirt bottom (see following pic for detailing) - just breathtaking! And in pristine condition!

Close-up of scalloped hem detailing and beadwork.

And on a final note, my grandmother and I have just about finished repairing/restoring this gorgeous ~1930s kimono robe. You can read more about it here. This is a picture of the back now that all of the breathtaking embroidery has been reattached.