Category Archives: Is it safe to remove the gas masks?

Future Past, Tense

I’ve been Way Too Hella Busy To Blog for a while. Still am, really. But I feel bad for neglecting Shoes & Pie, and you, my dear readers! Rather than catch you up with one painfully long post covering an unrelated variety of subjects, I’m going to try to break it into bite-sized chunks that I’ll post as the week progresses. In no particular order (as I’m writing this as much as a reminder/outline for myself as I’m writing a Table of Contents for you), I’ll try to cover:

  • WABAC Wednesday vintage recipe: Applesauce Meatballs and Easy Rice Ring (1949)
  • Kitchen Pr0n: Yes, it’s possible that I added more stuff to the Shoes & Pie Test Kitchen
  • Vintage Food Propaganda/Ephemera (scans)
  • How To: Shop An Estate Sale (subtitle: Myths, Truths, and Don’t Be That Person)
  • Crafts ’n’ shizz. Oh man, do I have so many crafts (sewing, painting, drawing, assembling) lined up, and not enough time!

So until next time (this afternoon? tomorrow?), see ya!

EDITED TO ADD: Oh right, I should write a post about what has now been dubbed Holy Shit Pie, as in, “Holy shit, this pie is good!” Which was the actual text I received when I packed a slice in the boyfriend’s lunch one day.

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Filed under advertising, collections, day job, food, Is it safe to remove the gas masks?, kitchen, life-threatening clutter, packaging, pet peeves, sewing, shopping, vintage

Not Faint of Heart

Who wants to flip through a few records?

When I started my etsy shop in 2006, it was an online outlet for me to sell the beaded jewelry that I make. Mostly “statement necklaces,” before I’d ever heard of the term. I was known for using chunky gemstones in unusual color combinations. Unusual for 2006, but inspired by the colors of the vintage clothing I’d been collecting for two decades.

I didn’t actively seek out vintage clothing, but I do love it and I seem to have a knack for finding a dress from the ’60s or a skirt from the ’50s mixed in with all the flotsam and jetsam of a tightly-packed thrift store. Over the years, my collection grew. Sometimes I would find a beautiful dress that wasn’t my size, but the thought of some “upcycler” finding it and “modernizing” it makes my skin crawl, so I would buy it to keep it out of irresponsible hands. Now my closet has dresses for me, and dresses for… well, for who? Ostensibly for me, with a little tailoring… or a lot of tailoring. But there are people out there for whom those dresses will be a perfect fit. So I decided to sell the excess out of my etsy shop, as long as I already had one up and running.

Well now, that introduced a bit of an issue. You see, people liked what I had found. And they wanted more. And I like making people happy. Not only that, but being out of “proper” work means that I have time during the weekdays, when most folks are otherwise engaged, to go hunting for stuff. And the patience. And the deep love and appreciation for my prey. The thrift stores, around here anyway, are good about selling clean clothing. I rarely find an item in an ARC or Salvation Army that smells of smoke or has surface dirt beyond what it might pick up from being dropped on a dusty linoleum floor. That being said, there’s a nearby Goodwill that I will go to only on rare occasions, partly because it’s mostly the crappiest of crap and partly because I want to bathe in Purell whenever I leave. ::Shudder:: Thrift stores can be surprisingly consistent. Consignment stores will have a selection with far less junk in the way, but they charge higher prices (and rightly so, since they’re paying their suppliers rather than relying on donations). However, I am cheap frugal living on a tight budget and assume my customers are as well, so I try my best to find bargains that I can pass along.

And so I hit up estate sales. Typically, Ol’ Widow Jones, after living for 30-40-50 years in her suburban ranch home, the last few without the companionship of her beloved husband, has passed on. Her children have cried and bickered and quarreled over who gets which lamp or Hummel figurine or clock or sofa, and what’s left is too overwhelming for them to deal with. They can either set mom’s house on fire, or hire a company to come in, empty out all of the drawers and cabinets and boxes, price everything, and have a 3-day garage sale. When was the last time you moved? Remember how much stuff you couldn’t believe you had accumulated? Multiply it by a factor of… 10. Now, when you put stuff out for a garage sale, you dust it off. You wash it. You sweep out the garage, you move stuff that isn’t for sale onto the back patio for now. You’ve probably thought about that garage sale for three months. This estate sale was organized in a week. The fact that stuff is priced at all is impressive. Clothing is hung in the closet, exactly as it was found. Dresser drawers full of half-slips and Playtex bras are emptied into cardboard boxes, which will be pawed through by hundreds of people over the next three days. 75 church guild cookbooks are cleared out of the cabinets and piled on a folding table. Gardening pesticides that were outlawed in the ’70s are loosely organized in the garage. Over in the corner is grandpa’s box of 45s, the box that got wet when the pipes froze in ’86, and it dried up eventually but not until mold had time to form. Over here is grandma’s stash of brightly-colored polyester double-knit fabric from when she was still sewing her own clothes in the ’70s. The basement still smells “off” from the time when poor Rex was accidentally locked in there for 12 hours, and everybody was outside looking for him.

I went to a sale last weekend that was a little creepy for me, because I actually knew the homeowner. Mark, a neighbor of mine, lived alone with his two small dogs, Romeo & Juliet. I almost didn’t go at all, but I assume that Mark’s college-age daughter had hired the estate sale crew, and I wanted to make sure that she got as much money as possible to help her with expenses. The carpet and padding had been removed before the sale was staged, but you could still smell all the times that Romeo & Juliet didn’t get outside as quickly as they needed.

The sale I went to on Saturday caught my eye not only because it was a mere 1/2 mile from my house, but because the listing mentioned “over 6,000 LPs.”  Six thousand vinyl records. Holy jeebus! However, I didn’t notice the listing until Saturday morning. Estate sales usually start at 9am on Friday, and people line up early to get the best selection. I’d missed the first 8 hours of this sale before I even knew about it. Nah, anything good will already have been snatched up. Besides, it’s cash only (as they often are) and my bank is in the opposite direction. Also, my mom said she’d be stopping by, which means I’d only get over there even later in the day. Nope, not even going to bother with this one. I still have a couple of dresses, some Melmac, a BOX full of day gloves, and more sewing patterns to list. No time to be OH MAN I CANNOT STOP THINKING ABOUT THIS SALE. There are photos online, and that starburst wall clock looks coooool. The mid-century console phonograph is pretty rad, too. I have no budget for furniture, but I figure the kind of people who would own a Danish Modern buffet would probably have some neat kitchenware and clothing. Fine. Fiiiiine. I’ll go.

By now, I’ve hemmed and hawed for so long that the sale will shutter for the day in 90 minutes. The front door to the house is open. Through the doorway, I can see tables full of glassware, and as I cross the threshold, WHOA there were some dogs living in this house! Olfactory alert! I glance through the glassware, start to rummage through the costume jewelry, and before long I need to get out of that room. The kitchen is much better on the nose, and the basement merely has your typical musty-ness going on. There’s a bed heaped with tablecloths and whatnot, tables full of I-don’t-get-a-chance-to-look because there are racks of clothing, and I am racing against two guys who, I glean from their banter, buy up vintage rockabilly and western wear for export to Japan. There’s lots of polyester which I don’t bother looking at, but also a lot of cotton which needs investigation. The lady of the house was apparently a big fan of house dresses, so much of what I can manage to pull out from the tightly-packed racks gets put back. There are some gems squished in there, but I still have to look carefully at each item: our patron was also a seamstress, and many items are in an unfinished or partially-altered state. There’s mildew, there’s dust, there’s no delicate way to put this: there’s cat barf. The basement is a tight squeeze, and there isn’t much room for inspection. I do the best I can, pack up a bag that I thoughtfully brought along with me, and explore the rest of the house. The sunroom offers up a pressure canner that I could use, had I the room to store it or the initiative to clean off what looks like 40 years’ worth of dust and grime. There’s a container with some umbrellas, but a cursory glance indicates broken ribs, so I don’t take a closer look. There’s an entire Melmac dinnerware set, but one of the teacups is broken and I don’t feel like piecing it out. The first bedroom is nothing special, the second bedroom is stacked beyond comprehension with record albums (the 6,000 LPs! they really do exist!), the third bedroom is HOLY SMOKES this must be where they kept the cat. And for some reason, the heat is cranked in that room. Now that my senses have been thoroughly shocked, I can go back to the front room and look at the jewelry again. While I’m perusing the plastic baggies of brooches, I eavesdrop on the team of guys who are running the show. They’re laughing, they’re having a good time, they’re talking about the dead squirrel that is apparently somehow attached to one of those umbrellas that I didn’t take a closer look at. Seems that none of them want to be the person responsible for detaching the squirrel and then… what? What should they even do with a dead squirrel? Who would be the one to carry it to the Dumpster out front? They ring up my purchases. They offer me the fab-yoo-lusss 1950s dinette set for half price. I don’t have the cash, the space in my house, or the room in my car. Which is a shame, because that set is the best looking Formica/vinyl pairing I’ve ever come across. I go home. I wash my hands up to the elbows for about 10 minutes.

Maybe I’ll go back today.

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Filed under Is it safe to remove the gas masks?, life-threatening clutter, shopping, vintage

Bulbs and Rhizomes

My daffodils (early Spring) and tulips (mid Spring) have poked their leafy greens out of the ground. In fact, the daffodils have gone so far as to bud, but my little flower bed gets slightly less sun than my next door neighbors’ does, so I’m a bit behind. For bulbs that seem to be surviving without struggle every year, I am surprised at their complete lack of naturalizing themselves. Split! Spread! TAKE OVER THAT TINY PATCH! The Siberian irises (late Spring) will, I’m sure, not fail to disappoint me once again. If they come up at all.

The lone hyacinth that a helpful squirrel planted a few years ago is once again coming up through my gravel walk, because I once again forgot to relocate it.

On the front stoop, one pot of dwarf lilies has reawakened nicely, but the pot that faltered last year seems now to have died out entirely. It joins its dead bigger brother, the lavender pot. I have never, ever been able to keep a pot of lavender or rosemary alive for more than a few weeks. My plan now is to transfer the living lilies to the bigger pot that USED to hold the lavender, and try something else in the smaller, matching pots. What will climb nicely, and quickly, around the posts? Clematis? Some kind of morning glory? I have to go to the post office today (to ship lovely items to people who won my ebay auctions; hooray people who bought stuff!) which will take me right past the neighborhood nursery. Maybe I’ll stop in and talk with the ladies there about that, as well as what I can do to help out my patch of bulbs.

As Summer rounds the bend, I’d like to try tomatoes again, now that the neighbor kids are a bit older and less likely to steal the fruits of my labors to use as slingshot ammo. The EarthBox that VivaMaryFoley graciously gave me is still sitting, unused, in my back yard. I know that I have a TopsyTurvy planter somewhere, probably in the basement. And a big ol’ hook near my front door. I just might get the 8-10 hours of full sun that tomatoes require.

And all of this Spring-iness is written with the full knowledge that every year, we get hit with a dump of a snowfall as soon as my fruit tree is in full bloom, and I can’t really plant anything until then. So, aside from a trip to the nursery for talking and maybe fertilizing purposes, today will actually be about shipping packages and attempting a bacon-apple pie. Or perhaps it’s an apple-bacon pie. We shall see…

__________________

It may be a bit late in the season (Marge) but I know that last summer (Marge) I had mentioned that I would be holding on to the old windows I had replaced (or maybe Fruitlady) in case anyone wanted to build a cold frame or something. (They’re single-pane glass, so salvage yards won’t take them.) They’re still in my back yard, free for the taking. All I require of you is enough of a heads up that I can put on the tea kettle. And bulldoze all the stalled craftyness from the dining room table.

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Filed under diner pie, food, gardening, Is it safe to remove the gas masks?, life-threatening clutter

As you inhale like a breath of fresh air

There has been a bit of a stink in some circles, because President-elect Barack Obama wants to add, as many Presidents have, “so help me God” to his swearing in today. Back in school, I refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance because of the “under God” line. I stood up and put my hand over my heart, don’t get me wrong. I am allegiant. I just didn’t dig bringing God into it. In all the years of my doing it, I don’t think anyone even noticed. I wasn’t trying to make a statement, it was simply a personal thing for me. Speaking the Pledge was my choice, and I chose not to, because that one line didn’t mesh with my personal beliefs. But if we went back to the original Pledge, before that line was added in the ’50s, and I wanted to tack on a “so help me God” at the end? I don’t have a problem with that. That’s a voluntary postscript. So you folks out there who are all “Blah blah blah, separation of Church and State, yadda yadda…” Yeah. I get you. I hear what you’re saying, and I’m on your side. Trust me. But you’re MISSING THE POINT. Mr. Obama is choosing to keep God by his side during this rather momentous occasion. If you don’t allow that, you are joining your enemies in forcing your own beliefs on someone else. So back off, would you? Thanks.

Now, on to the glee:

Today, we get a new President. TODAY, WE GET A NEW PRESIDENT!

[Q-Tip]
Can I kick it? (Yes, you can!) *7X*
Well, I’m gone (Go on then!)

Can I kick it? To all the people who can Quest like A Tribe does
Before this, did you really know what live was?
Comprehend to the track, for it’s why cuz
Gettin’ measures on the tip of the vibers
Rock and roll to the beat of the funk fuzz
Wipe your feet really good on the rhythm rug
If you feel the urge to freak, do the jitterbug
Come and spread your arms if you really need a hug
Afrocentric living is a big shrug
A life filled with *HORN* that’s what I love
A lower plateau is what we’re above
If you diss us, we won’t even think of
Will Nipper the doggy give a big shove?
This rhythm really fits like a snug glove
Like a box of positives is a plus, love
As the Tribe flies high like a dove

[Phife Dawg]
Can I kick it? (Yes, you can!) *7X*
Well, I’m gone (Go on then!)

Can I kick it? To my Tribe that flows in layers
Right now, Phife is a poem sayer
At times, I’m a studio conveyor
Mr. Dinkins, would you please be my mayor?
You’ll be doing us a really big favor
Boy this track really has a lot of flavor
When it comes to rhythms, Quest is your savior
Follow us for the funky behavior
Make a note on the rhythm we gave ya
Feel free, drop your pants, jack your hey-ya
Do you like the garments that we wear?
I instruct you to be the obeyer
A rhythm recipe that you’ll savor
Doesn’t matter if you’re minor or major
Yes, the Tribe of the game, rhythm player
As you inhale like a breath of fresh air

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Dim-Out Anklets

Hi! Remember me? I used to post 5 days a week. Now I seem to post twice a month. It’s something I will try to get better about. I think perhaps I need to get out of the house more.

Okay, so if you know me at all, you know that I collect, among other things, vintage clothing. Always have. Well, as long as I’ve had money to spend, I have. My mom had a beautiful, I’d guess late-1800s jacket that I used to adore as a girl. It was too fragile to atually wear out, but I would put it on, and wonder about how to fix the worn and frayed bits. I have no idea what ever happened to it, or to the gorgeous, ’40s-era ivory satin wedding dress (tea-length, therefore not a gown) that I bought on Canal Street in NYC back in 1990. I spray-painted a pair of pumps to match. I kid you not.

All of the collecting that I’ve done over the years has been with a huge amount of luck, and a small understanding of what it is I’m looking for. I recognize silhouettes and colors and fabrics from the photos I’ve always admired, and as a graphic designer, I can guesstimate an era by the typeface used on the label, but I’ve never done any serious studying. I could be wrong a lot of the time. In fact, I’m sure that I am. So from time to time, I do a little online hunting to brush up and maybe learn a thing or two.

This morning, I was scouring the LIFE archives on Google Images (boundless thanks to Ryan Cochran over at The Jalopy Journal for pointing me there). The image search feature is capped at 200 matches, so I kept finessing my keywords based on intriguing hits. Some magical combination of words let me to a series of photos of a woman’s ankles, wrapped in a variety of large white cuffs. There was a mention of “dim-out fashions.” Of course, I know what a dim-out is, but it inspired a fashion trend? And what on earth could it have to do with these giant anklets? My internal research alarm was buzzing madly, so I went about finding out.

If there is an online archive of LIFE articles, I don’t know about it and can’t find it. I know that these photos accompanied an article that ran in the March 22, 1943 issue. And while I couldn’t find a LIFE archive, I sure know where to find the New York Times archive. On January 16th of 1943, the Times ran an article which explained,

White anklets, which would make New York women pedestrians visible to motorists 100 feet away on the city’s dimmed-out streets, were suggested yesterday by the Public Safety section of the Greater New York Safety Council as part of a five-point program to reduce the mounting number of fatal traffic accidents here.

Ah-ha! Now I get it! There’s also a mention of “college girls” being asked to “help out” which only strengthens my belief that the entire concept was thought up by a bunch of ankle fetishists. I mean, c’mon. Take a look at these photos.

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Filed under fashion, Is it safe to remove the gas masks?, nostalgia, shoes, vintage

Aaaaaand, exhale.

When our elections were declared four years ago, I received an email from some acquaintances I have in Germany. “That’s okay,” they said. “We know it’s not your fault. We have room over here, if you’d like.”

Last night, through the magic of the Internet, I was celebrating with friends across the country, and once again, the globe.

I am greatly disappointed that three states voted against gay marriage, as if it is somehow more of a sham than straight marriage. But that is overshadowed, for me, by getting my country back. I am patriotic. I do support my troops. I am pro-life. BUT… I fear my President. I oppose the war in Iraq. And I am very strongly pro-choice.

I know that things won’t change overnight. I know that SEVEN YEARS of war have left our country scarred, perhaps not physically, but economically and emotionally. I know that President-elect Barack Obama (my first opportunity to write that) does not have all the answers. But I know that things are looking up.

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