Thursday, December 14, 2017

Melt Away

One of the best things about living in a small city is no matter what store you find yourself visiting in December, you won't be in much of a crowd as we just don't have enough people. So it was, mid-December that I found myself in a nearly deserted Target at one in the afternoon on a Wednesday looking for a frozen turkey loaf (very long story, but obviously I won't be eating it). A frozen turkey loaf should be the simplest of things to find, but I guess a lot has changed since the late 1970's which was the last time I went looking for one. The all white meat loaves are simple enough to find, but the half-dark half-light pressed together loaf that so delighted us as children in the early years of industrial convenience foods was a challenge to locate. After a bit of internet searching we discovered the Target in West Omaha did indeed stock the turkey loaf we sought. I wouldn't say we tore up West Center road in our hurry to ensure we secured one, but we did make a point of getting over there in a reasonable amount of time.

Having found our pressed, frozen turkey brick, we were on the way out when I saw the Hickory Farms display with cheeses, sausages, and mint melt away candies.

"Hey Danny, look!" I shouted. Bored, he shrugged and replied, "At what?"

I shouldn't expect a child in 2017 to get excited about mint melt away candies that if I'm honest always taste a bit waxy and stale. The turkey loaf might have started me thinking about the 70's, but the Hickory Farms display brought on a full-blown Proustian style slide into childhood except I am not writing this from my bed, and I should be able to keep it reasonably brief.

My dad was a wholesale food distributor. In plain English, that means he sold foods to restaurants, hot dog stands, hotels, and places like Hickory Farms that sold specialty foods from chain stores in malls. At one time, Hickory Farms was in practically every Midwestern mall, and my dad sold pickles to most of them in Illinois and Wisconsin. They were easy deliveries-he'd drive up to the back of the mall, unload his merchandise and then wheel it to the shop by the back hallways. Sometimes life conspired against him and he'd have to take it around front, and I seem to remember him once hauling a barrel of pickles on an escalator at Randhurst. Knowing my dad, he probably left a trail of dripping brine in his path. People liked him (people that didn't live with him, anyway) and at Christmas they would send him home with treats for his kids.

One particular Hickory Farms store-and I don't remember which one, had a manager named Donna (or Ladonna). At least, I think that was her name-it was over 40 years ago. She somehow found out I liked tea, and would send home small tins of teas that would have been considered exotic in the late 60's/ early 70's along with flavoured honey and those waxy/dusty/pastel melt away mints. I didn't get much candy as a child and those melt aways were like a year's worth of sugar in a bag. I don't remember what she sent for my sister, but I'm sure it wasn't fancy tea in tins.

I wasn't able to locate any Christmas photos from that time so here's one from the 80's when my mum talked her (adult) daughters into a photo with the mall Santa. Sigh, the things you'll do for your mum.
(I'm the blonde in the mini-skirt and white knit tights, the pretty one in the jeans is my sister. She's older😉) What's up with Santa's eyes?!

I also found some great photos of my parents and sister in a typically awful Chicagoland winter. No idea where I was-they probably tried losing me in a snowbank).
( For anyone interested (Amy, Jan,  😊) this is the corner of Niles Center road and Dempster street in Skokie. I only know that because I can see the pharmacy in the photo). Still nothing compared to the blizzard we saw after moving to Highland Park ('78 or '79 can't remember) where the wind blew the snow across the open field and it drifted as high as the roof on one side of the house. That was nightmarish. I'll look for photos of that one.

Anyway, back to the mints.

I picked up the bag of melt aways and showed it to Danny muttering something about my youth and "We used to..." before he cut me short with a look that said, "Oh god, she's going to talk about the 70's." I put the bag in the basket to keep the turkey loaf company and decided to save my charming stories of childhood for sharing on the internet with people who come to my blog looking for charming stories about my childhood and kindly Hickory Farms store managers in the 70's. Or maybe you just come here for the run-on sentences?  Donna or Ladonna (if that was your name) thank you, wherever you are for sending all those treats, they were appreciated more than you ever knew.

I tore into the packet of melt aways expecting something much more than any candy could possibly deliver, but that's nostalgia for you!  As I was about to whine that they "Just aren't the same" I knew that they were in fact, exactly the same-they never were anything more than mint flavoured hydrogenated oil and corn syrup. The bag says it contains eight servings, and I'm sure they will be gone by morning, consumed entirely by myself as no one else will come near them having better quality candy in the house.

Now if it would just snow...

Christmas Brooch of the Day-Day Sixteen

A trio of cheerful reindeer (too much eggnog?) to brighten an outfit. Almost feel obligated to wear them with a gaudy holiday sweater. Signed "JJ"

Almost reminds me of Alvin and the Chimpmunks.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Christmas Brooch of the Day-Day Fifteen

Anyone for sledding? I had a sled just like this as a child and let me tell you-it was heavy! You kids today have no idea how good you have it with lightweight plastic sleds. Try pulling all that wood and steel up a hill over and over. I remember it being a very special purchase as sleds were expensive-the good ones anyway. It did hold up to a lot of use and abuse, but damn, that thing was a pain to lug.

I don't think this brooch is that old, but the silver plate could use a polishing.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Another Snowless Week in Omaha

I must say, I've enjoyed looking at the beautiful snowy scenes from the American south and across the Atlantic in Europe. I don't exactly envy it, as I know we'll have our own soon enough, but I can't help thinking these outfit posts would look better with a bit of snow. We've been warm, we've been cold...sort of like me since the onset of menopause😁.

Outfit Particulars:
Vintage polyester dress-Thrift World (I think)
Brooches-both Goodwill
Earrings-Can't remember-at least 20 years old)
Headband-K Mart
Boots-K Mart

Apologies for the phone-camera photos. I need to get more comfortable with the new camera before I use it for blog photos. Meantime, enjoy my blurry face-I know I do (wrinkles show less)!
 I know for a fact this outfit would look better with snow, but there wasn't any. Instead, we went to the semi-abandoned mall in Council Bluffs, Iowa to use their shitty decorations as backdrops. I say, "Shitty Decorations" in the very best, semi-abandoned mall kind of way.
You have no idea what kind of looks you get walking around a semi-abandoned mall in Council Bluffs dressed like a cross between Cookie Monster and a disco queen.
This would be the disco  queen part. I've had this jumpsuit for a while, but only now got around to wearing it. I bought a similar one with a silver and black animal print that I'll probably save for some other inappropriate occasion-Easter perhaps?
Outfit Particulars:
80's jumpsuit-Hand-Me-Ups
Faux fur jacket-K Mart
Boots-K Mart
Handbag-I made it
Headband-K Mart
Vintage Shiny Brite Christmas corsage-Thrift World
Fragrance-En Avion

My new barware is getting plenty of use. This is a gingerale, brandy, and lemon juice cocktail.
Recently discovered this ginger beer-quite nice, with a strong ginger flavour. What I wouldn't give to win the 7 night get away to Jamaica. Unfortunately, the contest is for UK residents. Bummer. Good ginger beer though.
 Went to the DeSoto wildlife refuge on Sunday. It was a beautiful day, and there were loads of geese, ducks, and swans to see. There were plenty of bald eagles flying about as well. I love going to DeSoto. I always meet the nicest people, and come away feeling like there's still something to live for. The feeling typically fades as soon as we leave, but for a few hours, the world seems like a better place. It is a wildlife refuge, but it is a bit of a human refuge too, in the emotional sense.
 There's always one person that can't disconnect, and has to bring their tablet along. Hrumph. We should have left him there😏
The light has such a wonderful quality this time of year.
This sweater is the one I most wish I had snow for. Reindeer in knit scarves sort of demand a snowy winter scene, don't you think? I had to make do with 50+ mph winds today, and you'd better believe I wore my "Pervert-proof-panties" beneath that skirt.
I adore the goofiness of this cardigan. What you can't see well in the photo are the pom-pom noses on the reindeer. I'm wearing reindeer earrings as well.

 Outfit Particulars:
Poloneck- K Mart, I think
Tights-K Mart
Crochet handbag-Hand-Me-Ups
Earrings-Big Lots (I think)

I'll leave you with a peek at Danny's most recent bake. He's already trying recipes for the State Fair in August. If we could just get a wee bit of snow to keep it from feeling like August...

Christmas Brooch of the Day-Day Fourteen-and a Chanukah Bonus

 A pair of Christmas trees. Unsigned, no idea when they are from though they scream late 80's/early 90's to me-but that's just a guess.
I was complaining on Instagram that I don't have a Chanukah sweater or any brooches. Radostin came up with an idea, and inspired,  I grabbed one of Danny's dreidels and made my own brooch. Thanks, Radostin!

Tonight is the first night of Chanukah. I baked some kichels (puffy egg biscuits/cookies) and I'll fry potato pancakes because if I didn't, there would be two very disappointed fellas. I can't stand them (the potatoes. The fellas are still more or less tolerable😁), or the smell of frying fat, but once a year I'll get out the heavy cast iron pan and fry a batch. I have a not-so-secret ingredient in mine-a grated carrot. Sometimes I use half an apple as well. Anyway, a happy Chanukah to those that celebrate.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Christmas Brooch of the Day-Day Thirteen

A traditional looking rhinestone Christmas tree. Unsigned, probably 70's or 80's. Can't remember (give me a break, I'm old 😀).
Omigosh, we're getting closer! I'll need to start posting in multiples if we're going to make it by Christmas.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Brooch of the Day-Day Twelve

Looking a bit worse for wear this two part brooch is clearly ready to be repaired or retired. I will get around to fixing it someday. Probably. No markings, 1970's.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Finally, Sweater Weather

The past five or six years in Eastern Nebraska have been unseasonably warm. Oh sure, we get a "Polar Vortex" now and then, but it rarely lasts longer than a day or two-certainly nothing requiring the wearing of heavy sweaters. This year has been strange-we go from 60 degrees F. one day to 14 degrees the following morning. Most years, I'm lucky if I wear this mohair sweater at all-this year it has been out since October. I'm not complaining. I know what you're thinking-why is she wearing clogs if it is so cold? *shrug* I'm from Chicago. My dad wouldn't bother with socks until there was a couple inches of snow on the ground. I'm not typically bothered by the cold on my feet, but that's probably poor circulation and not being able to tell the difference. Anyway, yeah the clogs are year-round shoes for me.
 Beneath the mohair sweater I'm wearing a heavy cashmere polo neck purchased at Marshall Fields in the Country Shop sometime in the 80's. I have the cashmere in several colours (though some are crew neck, some are cardigans, etc.). They are excellent quality, two-ply, Made in Hong Kong. At the time, it was a pay-day splurge for me (I bought them over the course of about three winters) when I was young and without financial responsibilities. It ranks near the top of the list of, "Best investments I've made" as they are still serving me well in great condition after all these years. Most years I don't unpack the pastel shades (I was still young enough to not understand I could never wear lilac without looking ill) but this rust coloured one is a wardrobe staple. Young readers-buy the best quality you can afford (even better if you find it in a thrift shop) but don't waste your money on things that will fall apart after a season. Even bargains add up if you keep buying and discarding them. Okay, lecture over😀

Outfit Particulatrs:
Cashmere polo neck-Marshall Field's 80's
80's mohair sweater-Goodwill
70's knit skirt by Designer Original-Thrift World
Tights-K Mart
1980's Angela Frascone handbag-Goodwill

This sweater is also from the 80's. It is from heritage brand, Woolrich. The embroidered pine boughs and acorns are a nice detail, as are the small wooden beads meant to be berries. My dad bought it somewhere in Wisconsin (he was making a delivery and spotted it in a shop window nearby). He wasn't a very nice person, but he had excellent taste in woolens (I have a few Dale of Norway sweaters he bought me on whims). The sweater is deceptively lightweight, but quite warm. The back is embellished with pinecones at the yoke, but I didn't get a photo.

 The details are nicer than my photos suggest.
Outfit Particulars:
Woolrich sweater-gift
While cotton poloneck-K Mart
1970's Koret of California polyester skirt-Thrift World
Canadian Tourist handbag-New Life Thrift
Pewter necklace-Hand-Me-Ups

Now, this sweater is an oddball. Late 60's/early 70's, zip at the neck in back and the heaviest, scratchiest wool ever. Again, as with the last sweater, the hand embroidery makes it special. I remember cranberry and pink being popular when I was very young, and perhaps that's what finally convinced me to buy it after it sat on the rail at Hand-Me-Ups for months. I struggled to find something to wear it with (it overwhelmed my crushed velvet palazzo pants, which shouldn't be possible) so in desperation, I went for the poodle skirt. Obviously, two very different eras but I'm not a vintage purist. I wore my velvet boots to save it from being too twee.
Apologies for the light-it was so bright that day no amount of editing would help the photos.

Outfit Particulars:
Poodle skirt-Costume shop
Vintage Joyce sweater-Hand-Me-Ups
Brooch on handbag-Goodwill
Hair bows-Tiff and Tam
Bangles-can't remember
Boots-K Mart
Earrings-estate sale
Fragrance-L' Heure Bleue

This final sweater was a gift, knit for me by an elderly neighbour in the 80's. She was a lovely woman who gave me her wedding hat to wear for mine (she also gave me her dress from the 50's but unfortunately there was no way to make it fit me. I do still have it as she insisted I keep it as she had no children). I sometimes laugh at the thought of a very orthodox Jewish old woman knitting me a Christmas sweater, but she saw the pattern and decided the penguins were, "Me." She was correct.
I have more people stop me to compliment this sweater than anything else I own. There's something so cheerful about it, and for a Christmas sweater it is on the restrained side.
Outfit Particulars:
Hand-Knit sweater-Gift
Skirt-Filene's, 90's
Hat-Fiber Arts Show
Brooch-can't remember
Earrings-K Mart
Christmas bracelet (depicts scenes from the Nativity)-New Life Thrift
Vintage handbag-Goodwill
Fragrance-Vol de Nuit

How long will sweater-weather last? Who knows?! Perhaps I can do a Sweater-of the Day feature when the brooches are done. I'll leave you with a glimpse of the bargain table-top tree I picked up at Aldi ("come for the cheese, leave with holiday decorations") and the tree-shaped bowl filled with baseballs. I'll let you guess which member of the family is responsible for that. Hint, it is the same person responsible for this...

"Hang on Santa, help is on the way. Don't let go!"

I'd better go get a ladder.

Christmas Brooch of the Day-Day Eleven

Today I have a 1970's stick pin. I don't think I've ever worn it. Let's face it, stick pins are rarely exciting. When was the last time you heard someone exclaim, "oooh, nice stickpin"? I guess it suffers from keeping company with my other, sparklier brooches. I am going to make a point of wearing it this year.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Christmas Brooch of the Day-Day Ten

I used to know the story with this one but I've forgotten and Google isn't being helpful. It is a replica of something in the V&A. No idea what. Anyway, not specifically a Christmas brooch, but this is the time of year I wear it.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Christmas Brooch of the Day-Day Nine

Vintage rhinestone tree. Probably 60's. No markings. Larger size at 7 cm.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

A Smattering of Outfits

I've always thought white artificial Christmas trees are the prettiest (okay, so I have tacky tastes) and I'm going for a bit of that look here.
The vintage hat is decorated with ribbon and pearl beads. I bought it for the Marshall Field's label in it as I was feeling nostalgic.
Outfit Particulars:
Velour top-90's Jordan Marsh
Pleated skirt-Goodwill
Vintage Marshall Field's hat-Hand-Me-Ups
Brooch-Jordan Marsh (around the same time as the top)
Someday, I will wear a cable sweater, and take five seconds getting dressed to ensure the arms aren't completely twisted around. Someday.
Or I can just throw a nice jacket over and no one will notice twisted cables. 
Outfit Particulars:
Pendleton jacket (part of an 80's suit)-Goodwill
Corde bag-Hand-Me-Ups
Copper brooch and matching earrings-Hand-Me-Ups
Fragrance-Habit Rouge
 This sheer top has a matching floor length skirt. I don't know why I never wear it. Must put that on the "to do " list. The vintage velvet skirt I've had for at least 20 years, purchased at a now-gone vintage shop in Cambridge, Mass. It is close to threadbare, but I can't let it go. There aren't too many printed velvet skirts out there!

Outfit Particulars:
Skirt-a vintage shop in Harvard Square, early 90's
Top-Part of a set-Goodwill
Velvet shoulderbag-Goodwill
Brooch-Thrift World
Fragrance-Modern formulation Jicky

 I do however, have a velvet printed dress. I bought this one around 2000 and wore the hell out of it for a few years. I even wore this dress in the final weeks of my pregnancy as it stretched and didn't have a waistline. The sleeves are a pain in the ass and the high-low hem is annoying, but again-printed velvet= keeper.

Outfit Particulars:
early 2000's dress-Von Maur
Fragrance-Guet Apens
 The owl is back atop the Christmas tree. Danny made it in Kindergarten, and I'm rather fond of it. "Owl be home for Christmas..."
Anyway, back to the clothes...
A pink monstrosity of 80's does 50's in knit polyester by Leslie Fay. The cummerbund really completes the look. Patterned floral tights were a close-out at K Mart, and the crazy half moccasin, half pump suede shoes were $3.99 at Goodwill. The Juicy Couture plastic handbag was also Goodwill. The dress is already in a giveaway bag. There's nothing wrong with it, it just isn't me. When I laundered it I found the prettiest handkerchief with a tatted lace edging in the pocket. I'll go out on a limb and guess this was some church lady's dress. It is lovely, if you're a church lady (or aspire to be one).

Love the tights though. 
 Wore one of the celluloid scotties with it. I tried wearing the pair but it was too much. I know that sounds impossible, but that happens sometimes-even to me. 

Outfit Particulars:
Vintage Leslie Fay dress-Goodwill
Fragrance-Jardins de Bagatelle (still makes me sneeze. I keep hoping it won't but eh, whatever. Some perfumes are worth suffering for).
 I bought this lovely kimono (OK it is probably a dressing gown, but let's not quibble) last summer but only now got around to wearing it. The fabric is quite heavy and it has a beautiful, vibrant red silk lining. There's a belt but no belt loops, so I didn't bother wearing it as I prefer to keep it open. The red silk dress is something I bought a few years ago that never fails to make me feel great when I wear it. Everyone needs a dress like that, even if it is red (I'm slowly getting used to seeing myself in red). The shoes are American Duchess.

Outfit Particulars:
Dress-New Life Thrift
Shoes-American Duchess
Vintage handbag-Thrift World
This was last weekend, snapped in front of a rarely visited thrift store. The store is a short drive from my home but I rarely go there as the neighbourhood is on the dicey side. The gas station, pawn shop,  and bank on the corners seem to get robbed with frightening regularity, and the whole area gives off the feeling of post-apocalypse with people wandering around parking lots trying car handles. Skid row is one thing, that neighbourhood feels like, "Come here to get relieved of your belongings!"  I know armed robbery/carjacking/muggings/random violence/driveby shootings/etc. is a regular fact of life living here, but I try to avoid the spots that are known to be troublesome. Anyway, it was a rare trip to the shop on a Saturday afternoon when I had Mr. ETB along with me. Not sure what protection he'd be if someone stuck a gun in my face, but I feel like less of a target with him there. I didn't buy much-a straw bag and a couple brooches, and if I'm honest, I was happy to get out of there. It got so bad a woman was pushed down a few weeks ago at the bus stop by some teenaged girls that didn't even have the decency to rob her-they just injured her for kicks. 
I did wear my plaid shoes because...well, just because. 
Outfit Particulars:
Skirt-Sears-about 20 years ago
Poloneck-Can't remember
Heavy Cotton cardigan-Hand-Me-Ups (that thing is a beast!)
Purse-made by me
Fragrance-Guerlain Vetiver (80's formulation)

 I'll leave you with a look at some of the treasures I didn't bring home with me last weekend. It was hard to resist, but I somehow managed. There were dozens of the squirrels-all identical which I'm sure has a great story I will sadly never know.

We have bad weather on the way, so I'm off to make a steamed brown bread and baked beans because that's what I do when the weather turns nasty. The sun is shining at the moment, but the weather radar looks unpleasant. Hope you have fair skies wherever you are.