Category Archives: collections

In Which We Eat Paste

Backstory: Every weekday morning, I pack The Boyfriend’s lunch. Also, as referenced in an earlier post, it’s one of my household tasks to plan the weekly dinner menu. To make this a little easier on myself, a few days of the week are always assigned a theme. Relevant to this story: Meatless Mondays (self explanatory) and WABAC* Wednesdays (wherein I choose a main dish recipe from one of my approximately eight gazillion vintage cookbooks).

Photo by Michael Bonnickson for "Tofu Cookery," © 1982

Photo by Michael Bonnickson for “Tofu Cookery,” © 1982

More Backstory: Sometimes life gets in the way of a week’s planned menu. In this case, a previous week’s WABAC Wednesday recipe, “Layered Casserole” from Tofu Cookery, ©1982. I’d chosen it specifically to use up a large amount of well-intentioned-but-still-unused tofu** that wasn’t getting any fresher sitting in the fridge. Grocery shopping had been completed before schedules changed, so now I also had the recipe-required spinach and mushrooms that needed using in a hurry. How convenient, then, that this particular recipe is also suited to Meatless Monday! I measured, I puréed, I poured, I baked. It smelled good. It looked good. Everything was going swimmingly.

Still More Backstory: When we eat at the dining table, The Boyfriend always waits until the I’m served and seated before taking his first bite. More often than not, however, we eat from trays while watching something on the TV. In those cases, he starts eating while I’m fiddling with the DVD player or streaming device. Such was the case last night, so he was a few silent bites into his portion of Layered Casserole before I had my first taste. My first taste, which resulted in my visceral exclamation of “It’s like paste!” One look over at him and his face indicated that he was in full agreement. I removed our laden plates to the kitchen and ordered Chinese delivery. While watching our evening’s movie and eating our replacement dinner, The Boyfriend leaned over and whispered in my ear, “I’d have eaten the whole thing and not said a word.” That’s love.

Further Backstory: Every weekday morning, our iPhone alarms go off at the same time. We turn them off simultaneously and wordlessly stay in bed a few minutes longer. I’ll shift my leg closer to him, and he’ll move his hand over to mine. A cat or two will wander over and sit on top of us. All silently.

The Actual Story: This morning, our alarms rang. We turned them off. We shifted. A cat came over and sat on top of me. After a moment, The Boyfriend whispered, “Please don’t pack me paste for lunch.”

_______________

* The WABAC Machine refers to a fictional machine from the cartoon segment Peabody’s Improbable History, a recurring feature of the 1960s cartoon series The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. The WABAC Machine is a plot device used to transport the characters Mr. Peabody and Sherman back in time to visit important events in human history. The precise meaning of the acronym WABAC is unknown, but the term is obviously a play on “way back”, as in “way back in time,” and the names of mid-century, large-sized computers that often ended in “AC” (generally for “Automatic Computer” or similar), such as ENIAC or UNIVAC. Indeed, according to Gerard Baldwin, one of the show’s directors, the name “WABAC” is a reference to the UNIVAC I.

** I like tofu.

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Filed under amusement, collections, food, romance, relationships, vintage

Rhapsody in White

gowns upon gowns

gowns upon gowns

Hello, Readers! I miss you so. Here I am, popping in to say, “Hi!” And to write about…well, a little insight into how my addled brain works.

I have a huge (to me, anyway) inventory of vintage goodies in my storage space. Some is listed in the shop, but I’d guess that about â…” to ¾ of it is known only to me. Which really isn’t the point of having it all, now is it? No. But getting it all cleaned, mended, steamed, photographed, measured, and listed…well, that’s rather daunting. Overwhelming, really. My plan of attack in the past has been rather wishy-washy: I grab the closest X number of items that fit a theme (Blouses. Aprons. Party dresses.) and try to haphazardly work from there. But…

My last big shop update was Everything Red. Didn’t matter what it was. I posted dresses, napkins, neckties. All red. My storefront looked like a bordello a bouquet of poppies. It was days of photography, and a few weeks to get it all listed. But it is, and it’s done, and I was feeling pretty accomplished. The plan was to next move on to Purple and Coral. But…

A few of my wedding dress listings expired. They tend to be pretty popular in the Search stats, but a wedding dress isn’t the kind of thing a gal can wear every day so they don’t sell as quickly as a skirt might. Now, I didn’t want to leave those listings in the ether, but I also didn’t want to break up my color blocking on the storefront. Etsy allows shop owners to move listings around to various pages, but it’s a wee bit of a pain. So? So I sat and thought about it and stressed about it didn’t do a dang thing at all. Which is not the way to sell vintage clothing. So…

New plan of attack: Relist the expired wedding dresses. Photograph a few “new” wedding dresses to add to the category (I have 6–7 of them lingering in storage). And then wash/mend/steam/photograph/measure/list Everything White. Great! A Plan! But…

White tends to be a warm-weather color, so while there’s at least one beaded cardigan in the mix, most of this stash is summery blouses and whatnot. And here in the States, it’s nearly Labor Day with crisp Autumn weather nipping at its heels. But…

I do love my AU and NZ customers. They (you) make up an inordinately large percentage of my sales. And I really do apologize from the bottom of my heart for the cost of shipping, but that truly is the cost of shipping to the other side of the planet. Most of you understand that. So, yay! An update for the Southern Latitudes! But…

I know me, and I know how much time I have available to dedicate to the shop. I do what I can when I can, but it’s not my day job. And if I take pretty much the month of September to list Everything White, I’m afraid that I won’t get to autumn wear until winter and so on. So…

With apologies to my AU and NZ customers: I’m going back to a Theme for just a short break. Wedding Dresses (also not the high season, but hey, people get married all the time) will interrupt the color blocking for a short time. After that: look for, say, Navy. And Black. And Olive. And as always, if you’re looking for something in particular, just ask. I’m always happy to go through storage to search for something special for you.

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Filed under collections, day job, life-threatening clutter, shopping, vintage

Of petticoats and crinolines

Detail from a Sears catalog, Summer 1959

Detail from a Sears catalog, Summer 1959

I’m not a professional stylist, nor am I a professional historian. I do not work for any fashion publication, large or small. I have no formal education in costuming.

What I am, however, is a dedicated historical fashion hobbyist. And, at least according to the curious number of people who have mentioned it in the last few days, I’m well-dressed. It’s flattering, and quite a feather in my cap. It’s also the background upon which I make this plea:

Please, PLEASE stop jamming full crinolines underneath quarter- and half-circle skirts. In your quest to look “period appropriate,” you wind up looking sloppy and/or uncomfortable.

1956 vs. 2013 trying to look period

1956 vs. 2013’s interpretation of 1956

On the left of this image we have a photo, taken by LIFE photographer Yale Joel in 1956, of actress Betty Furness wearing a black dress she wore while doing Westinghouse commercials on CBS that year. It is meant to appear both fashionable and accessible, and succeeds. If you look very closely at her hem (click on the image to enlarge it), you can just barely make out the lace edge of a petticoat beneath. The petticoat provides some shape and support, but notice that the skirt still falls in gentle folds. You can almost picture the waves of fabric swaying as Ms. Furness would walk across her Westinghouse set.

On the right we have an anonymous participant in a “1950s-styled” wedding, circa 2013. I’ve blocked out her face to protect her identity, but I assure you that she is every bit as beautiful as Betty Furness. The skirt of her dress is cut with a similar fullness to that of the dress worn by Ms. Furness. But here is where we diverge: someone involved with this fashion fiasco decided that all of the bridesmaids should wear a full, multi-layered crinoline under each of their dresses. On the positive side, they were ordered in a length that is correct for the length of the skirt (yes, petticoats come in different lengths. We’ll get to that in a minute). Unfortunately, the dresses are so stuffed so tightly that the skirts are riding up, and showing the bottom inches of the crinolines. Why not complete the look and pull your bra strap out while you’re at it? These overstuffed skirts do not move with flowing grace, but rather like dinner bells with legs for clappers.

I call this look on the right "The Drop-Off."

I call this look on the right “The Drop-Off.”

Subset A: Petticoats come in different lengths! It’s true! When shopping for gen-yoo-wine vintage, you often take whatever you can get. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can always wear whatever you got with whatever you have. In the example shown here, we have the L.L. Bean Signature poplin dress styled two different ways: on the left is L.L. Bean’s version, and on the right is a photo from an eBay listing advertising the dress as a “vintage 1950s style.” I don’t mean to infer that the seller is being dishonest; he or she does state in the listing description that the dress is near-new L.L. Bean. The seller has merely styled the dress in a way that L.L. Bean didn’t consider, or didn’t consider appealing to their target audience. And the possibilities are certainly there to give this dress a retro feel. The problem with this look specifically is that the crinoline used for the photograph is both too full and too short for this skirt, resulting in a steep cliff at the hem. It is not a very full skirt, and you’d do better leaving it alone or wearing a less voluminous petticoat or a slip with a pretty, ruffled edge. In those instances, the length is less of an issue because they’re providing minimal volume and not supporting the weight of the skirt.

Petticoats and crinolines are easy to find online, and while actual vintage can be far more difficult to locate in your desired size/color/length/fullness there are still options for brand-new petticoats/crinolines/prairie skirts made either en masse or even to your own specifications. A basic, brand-new, 35-yard petticoat should run you under $50 online, while custom orders can cost considerably more and take longer for delivery.

I’ve been lucky enough to acquire all (5) of my petticoats locally and don’t have personal experience with many of these retailers, but here is a list on online sources (all U.S. based, sorry) where you can buy your very own:

Hey Viv (ready-to-wear)

Malco Modes (RTW, many options; U.S.A.-made)

ReSashsay (RTW and custom; consignment)

Theda Bara’s Vintage Boudoir (vintage; availability varies)

Have fun, and look good doing it!

 

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How many toothpicks?

Rain Man: Toothpicks

The Boyfriend is a bit of a savant when it comes to Things Automotive. What others have to study and work to memorize, just comes naturally to him. Need a chart to figure an accurate bore dimension? No, all he needs is a caliper reading and the Pythagorean theorem. And a few seconds to calculate. Care to hear a list of the differences between a ’39 Ford De Luxe and a ’40 Ford standard? He can rattle those off in his sleep. Thankfully, he doesn’t. Or I sleep through it. Just last week, he had me pause a DVD we were watching so he could explain that the steering wheel shown in a Car: Interior scene could not possibly be from the car our characters were just shown getting in to in the previous Exterior shot. When he does things like this, which is frequently, I mutter “246. 246 toothpicks.” It’s in reference to the scene from Rain Man, linked above, in which Raymond is able to calculate at a glance precisely how many toothpicks had been knocked out of a box.

Fire King “Candle Glow” (1967-72) casserole dish with lid. This particular example is currently available from VintageLoveJunk

In the kitchen last night while I was serving dinner, The Boyfriend said that he liked the dish I’d put the mashed potatoes in. Without glancing over (because I knew what dish I’d used), I said “Thanks. It’s Fire King. The pattern is called Candle Glow.”

To which he replied, “How many toothpicks?”

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Withering Heights

Old leeks: don't look so bad once they're trimmed and washed

Old leeks don’t look so bad once they’re trimmed and washed

I love a pun. That doesn’t mean I’m good at them.

S’anyway. It’s Sunday night and the scheduled dinner is ham but The Boyfriend and I spent all weekend indoors watching the 55th annual March Meet via the live stream on BangShift.com (thanks for providing that coverage, BangShift guys), while I read from cover to cover a huge, 1940/41 Montgomery Ward catalog which really did take two dedicated days to get through. This means that not only have I not planned the week’s menu, but I certainly haven’t gone grocery shopping. I did, however, make some pressure-cooker chicken broth from a leftover roasted chicken carcass.

Well, what else is in the fridge? Among other things, some leftover mashed potatoes and two withering leeks. A-ha! I bet I can combine these items into a satisfying soup while simultaneously clearing out the fridge and feeling all thrifty-like!

Without further ado, the recipe:

IMG_0536

Withering Leeks Soup served with Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread

Withering Leeks Soup

2 Tbs salted butter
2 large leeks, sliced thin, darker greens removed
2 cups mashed potatoes
6 cups chicken broth

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed 8-quart pot over medium heat. Add leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften and start to brown. I didn’t time this, but probably 5–7 minutes. Add the mashed potatoes and broth, and cook until heated through—about another 5 minutes—stirring occasionally. If your mashers, like mine here, start cold from the fridge and as a fairly solid lump, it may take a few minutes longer. Longer still if your broth is also cold from the fridge. Once heated through, purée with an immersion blender* or, lacking one, purée in batches in a blender.

This is what you want the leeks to look like before you add the potatoes and broth

This is what you want the leeks to look like before you add the potatoes and broth

You can easily substitute vegetable broth to make this vegetarian, and if you prefer vegan recipes, also substitute olive oil for the butter. Make sure those leftover mashed potatoes are dairy-free!

Makes approximately 8 cups: 8 servings as a starter, or 4–6 as a main course with a leafy salad and some crusty bread.

Shown with: Jim Lahey’s original No-Knead Bread recipe. Which I baked in the same (hard-anodized) pot in which I had previously boiled the potatoes, and later cooked the soup. Simpatico.

Gratuitous Pyrex photo. This is my container of leftover mashed potatoes.

Gratuitous Pyrex photo. This is my container of leftover mashed potatoes. It’s a Hospitality Casserole (443 Cinderella bowl with 624 lid) made in 1959.

*If you don’t have an immersion (stick) blender, I promise that they really do come in handy. They’re inexpensive, clean easily, and save you from the hassle of—for instance—awkwardly pouring approximately a half gallon of soup into a blender in batches.

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Town Crier Flour: Lucky Low Cost Prize Winning Recipes

I have approximately a bazillion* vintage and antique cookbooks, and sometimes within the pages of those cookbooks I find hand-written recipe cards or mass-market pamphlets that have been printed up by a company encouraging the use of their special ingredient. Today’s post focuses on one of those pamphlets: Lucky Low Cost Prize Winning Recipes, promoting Town Crier Flour which was made by The Midland Flour Milling Co. in Kansas City, Missouri. There is no date on the pamphlet, but because it mentions that these recipes are part of a group of 100 “that were chosen from thousands”—and Town Crier published a book of 300 of these recipes in 1938—we can assume this predates 1938 by at least a few years. I love that the pamphlet includes tips for washing ink out of cotton bags. Flour sack towels (or dress), anyone?

It’s a small pamphlet, so I’ve scanned it in its entirety. Because the previews are so small (click on the images to see (and print) more legible versions), I’ll tempt you to click on the images by telling you they include recipes for:

  • Dutch Peach Cake
  • Pineapple Cookies
  • Graham Clover Leaf Rolls
  • Quick Brunch Coffee Kuchen
  • Lemon Fluff Pie
  • Baking Powder Biscuits
  • Golden Caramel Cake (with Caramel Syrup)
  • Bread
  • Bacon Muffins

…and of course, the previously mentioned Three Methods For Washing Ink Out Of Cotton Bags. None of these recipes have been personally tested by me (yet), but I encourage you to give one or two a whirl and let us know how it turns out!

Lucky Low Cost Prize Winning Recipes

Lucky Low Cost Prize Winning Recipes

TCF_in1

TCF_in2

The back of the brochure

 

*rough estimate

 

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VLV16: The Wardrobe

Long-time readers are wondering why I haven’t yet posted anything about my wardrobe plans for the upcoming Viva Las Vegas rockabilly weekender. Year in and year out, every near-Spring I’m found with a pile of sewing projects and just a few pounds to lose in order to fit into that year’s fantastic dress…

But not this year. This year, I’m refusing to encumber myself. There’s too much kerfuffle in my life, and I don’t want to add to it further. No diets. No sewing.* No shopping.

Which is easy for me to say. I mean come on. I’m a vintage clothing vendor. It’s not “shopping” if I’m picking from my own inventory. Especially if I replace each item that I pull from Tiddleywink inventory with a vintage item from my personal collection. Right? ::bats eyelashes::

And one morning, I feel myself beginning to panic at my utter disregard for pre-pre-preplanning, and I start going through my racks. I pull out perhaps 15 dresses. Fit and “wow” factor narrow the options down to the requisite 4 day ensembles, 4 evening ensembles. I have to say, I’m excited by the options. This will be my best-dressed Viva yet, and that’s saying something.

The Boyfriend, who continually threatens to pack nothing more than jeans and an assortment of racing-related T-shirts, is caught up in my excitement and has started to consider items from his own vintage wardrobe (my heart is aflutter with hope that he’ll actually pack and wear some of it). He looks ever so swell when he gets decked out.

My shoe selection is currently at 10 pairs; I will narrow that down to 8—at the most—before Packing Day dependent on handbag options and Boyfriend’s opinion (he does have good taste, when pressed). My handbag collection’s newest addition, the Rialto that I wrote about recently, will not even make the trip due to fragile packing concerns. My polka-dot Toro paneled handbag will stay home because it simply doesn’t match anything I’m planning to wear. Maybe Next Yearâ„¢.

And so without further ado, a sneak peek at my VLV16 evening wear:

Rhapsody in Blue

Rhapsody in Blue

Silk. Rayon. Sequins. Taffeta. Chiffon. Eat your hearts out, kiddies. I mean, um, see you there!

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*Full Disclosure: Today, I mended a pulled hem on a VLV wardrobe item. I will likely shorten the straps of one dress. The skirt I plan to wear to the car show I repaired a month ago, with no notion at that time of wearing it to Viva. The top I’ll wear with it was sewn by me, from a vintage pattern, but last year.

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