Monday, December 05, 2016

Kitschmas Time in the City

If there's tacky holiday earrings to be had, I'll have them! These came from Big Lots, which has fueled my pursuit of tacky holiday items over the years. I only wish there were more days in December to wear them all.

This weekend was the Holiday Lights Festival's family day. Several museums, the downtown library and other locations had free entertainment, activities for children, and rides on a trolley between locations. It was so much fun! The crowds were (mostly) well behaved, the weather was beautiful, and I didn't hear a single complaint out of Danny, which is a rare day. He's at that age where everything is "stupid"-you know how that goes. That said, he wouldn't dance the Hokey Pokey because he's just a bit too self conscious for that!
We had some snow earlier, but this was all that remained of Danny's snowman, Roland. We stuck his head in a plastic bag and froze it until it gets cold again. Yeah, when you're young you never imagine being asked to keep a disembodied snowman noggin in the freezer amongst the peas and gin (what? You don't keep you gin in the freezer?) but life has a way of throwing odd stuff at you, particularly if you have children. Anyway, poor Roland will hopefully get a full body transplant next week as we're expecting more snow. He'd better not touch my gin if he knows what's good for him. Rolaaaaaaaaand!

 Outfit Particulars:

Vintage wool skirt-Thrift World (I think)
Vintage wool coat-Etsy seller
Star pattern leggings-Target
Vintage Snowland boots-Goodwill
Sparkly top-Somewhere in Cambridge, Mass 90's
Vintage purse-Goodwill
Red cashmere socks-gift
Belt-Shop Ko
Earrings-Big Lots
Headband-K Mart
Vintage Shiny Brite Christmas corsage-Thrift World
Vintage Necklace-Hand-Me-Ups
Brooch on sweater-can't remember
Fragrance-Guet Apens (anyone care for some oakmoss with their oakmoss?")

The gingerbread house pieces are baked, and I've learned from experience, it is best to let them cure for a few days before assembling. I've also learned to decorate the pieces before assembly-loads easier. I guess it goes without saying you shouldn't attempt it drunk.

We're expecting a deep freeze over the next few days which will be nice as I'd like to wear my Dale of Norway sweater at least once this year. Last year it never got unpacked, so hopefully we'll have a good old fashioned Midwestern December. Without an ice storm of course, because ice storms suck.
But if the worst happens, I'm prepared with my Snowland boots. And gin, unless Roland got to it first.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

A Red Silk Dress

For someone that isn't fond of red, I wear a lot of it.

 I was dressed in red almost exclusively as a child because my mum thought I looked good in it-which I did, but everyone needs a bit of variety in their wardrobe. Worse. she'd buy things like coats too big and I'd still be wearing the red Hudson's Bay blanket coat she bought me in grade four when I was in High School. I finally threw it away on my way to school one day, and told her I lost it on the bus. No, I'm not in love with wearing red but all these years later I admit she had a point-it is my best colour.
 This 80's silk dress is beautifully made with nice ruffle details and a lining that stays put. I couldn't really pass it up for a dollar and I tried to reason with myself that the black print didn't put it into blanket-coat territory. Not much, anyway. I bought it last year, packed it away and never gave it a second thought until I was going through my autumn clothes. I wasn't even sure it would fit as I'd bought it on a whim without trying it on. Well, there you have it-a perfect fit.
 Outfit Particulars:
1980's silk dress-Goodwill
1970's polyester jacket-Thrift World
Vintage Stylecraft purse-Godwill
Vintage Brooch-New Life Thrift
Earrings-Can't remember!
Belt-Shop Ko
Fragrance- Watt Blue for men (el-cheapo cologne in a wacky bottle that smells of vetiver, oakmoss, mint, and cedar. It was instant love. Like Cool Water without the headache inducing aquatic notes).
How impossible is it to photograph patent leather? 

Today's cocktail is a Bunny Hug:
1 oz. gin
1 oz. whisky
1 oz Anesone
Shake well with ice and strain into a glass. 

Somebunny needs a hug. Bad.

 I started the holiday cards. This one put to use some inexpensive gel pens I borrowed from Danny.
This one is watercolour pencil. Clearly, I'm no artist, but I enjoy taking the time to do the cards myself. I know I'd rather get a wonky handmade card than some crap from Hallmark.
We'll be doing some birding this weekend (Danny has bird-banding, and there's a local lake that's been attracting an unusual collection of species). I had to laugh at how Danny left this toy owl atop his bird guide. The little fellow looks like he's studying. 
"Oooh, I wonder if they have Little Bunting at Branched Oak Lake?"

We're in the planning stages of a spring trip out to Western Nebraska on the Colorado border so Danny can see some birds we don't get around here. Our state is very wide and 500 miles can be a significant difference with respect to local birds. I've only been out that way once, years ago and there were signs posted everywhere about rattlesnakes. We won't be camping!

Hope you're having a nice weekend. We had our first bit of snow, but it mostly melted as it hit the ground. 

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Dress Like a 1940's Spy Novel Heroine

 I came downstairs wearing this black 1980's dress with red trim and Mr. ETB said I looked how he'd envision a character from a 1940's spy novel he was reading. I hadn't yet accessorised, so I took that as a challenge. I own some 1940's pieces that don't get much wear, so why not?

 The dress is made from a polyester fabric that can't decide if it wants to be brushed nylon or Ultra suede and falls somewhere in-between. It launders easily enough, but it does attract every bit of lint. I keep a lint roller in the car for just such fabrics, and this one really put the roller to use. As the dress was absurdly inexpensive I don't mind a bit of effort keeping it tidy.
 Two recently acquired brooches.
 Seashells encased in lucite with glitter-can earrings get any better?
 A bracelet that is fast becoming a favourite. It is quite heavy, which makes it difficult to wear for more than a few hours.
 Another velvet 40's handbag for my collection. I own a similar bag in a taller design, but at $3.99 I couldn't really refuse. The bag was in remarkably good condition, and probably didn't see much use.

 Outfit Particulars:

1980's does 40's dress-Goodwill
Belt-Came with another dress
Stockings-K Mart
Vintage swing jacket-Hand-Me-Ups
1940's velvet handbag-Goodwill
Both brooches-Goodwill
Vintage earrings-garage sale
Vintage velvet hat-Hand-Me-Ups
Fragrance-YSL Paris
I looked for a suitably vintage drink that a spy might have enjoyed in the 40's and found 

The Cablegram:
2 oz. whisky
1 teaspoon icing sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Stir well with ice. Strain into a tall glass and top up with ginger ale. 

I made a foam-board template for this year's gingerbread house today. I'm feeling pulled in a dozen directions at the moment, so I'm keeping it simple this year. We're heading into the end of semester and there's still so much ground to cover. I bought myself a present...
 I never knew I needed giant mugs until they ended up on the clearance shelf at Big Lots for .50 cents each. I bought two, because I like to go wild with money sometimes.
And now I have a cold, so they will get plenty of use delivering hot drinks. Pass the whisky.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Clothes I Forgot I Own

How could I forget a paisley, Shantung silk blouse from Talbot's?!

 I don't wear many blouses as our weather goes from tee-shirts to sweaters (jumpers) without much seasonal change between. There's probably two weeks a year in Omaha where wearing a silk blouse makes sense. That hasn't stopped me buying them, but I tend to forget what I have the other fifty weeks of the year when I can't wear them. This year has been an exception where we're having a proper autumn. I found the blouse in a box looking for a jacket, and I thought it best to hurry up and wear it before we have a foot of snow.

 The only thing more impractical than a silk blouse in Nebraska is a satin skirt. I've owned this one since 2012, but am only figuring out how to wear it now. This outfit is far outside my comfort zone...and I'm a slob. Nice fabrics are wasted on me as I'll catch the skirt in the car door or spill coffee down my shirt. Thankfully, the clothes came through this wear unscathed, but I did lose an earring. Grr.

 This is the jacket I went looking for when I found the blouse. Being patchwork it should go with nearly everything-it doesn't. I like the velvet and silk fabrics, but I'm afraid it has to go. Space is limited, and I can't keep clothes that don't play well with others unless they are exceptional. I've been ruthless in my clear-outs of late, but it must be done. Being able to bring home quality clothing for .49 to .99 cents does lead to over-doing it.

Outfit Particulars:

Satin skirt-Hand-Me-Ups
Talbot's silk blouse-Salvation Army
Coldwater Creek jacket-Goodwill
Valdrome purse-Hand-Me-Ups
Vintage chain belt-Hand-Me-Ups
Fragrance-Venezia Pastello (hell, it feels like spring, might as well wear a light perfume)

Today's drink is from the sixties when it would still be acceptable to order a drink called a
"Naked Lady."

1 oz. rum
1 oz. sweet vermouth
4 dashes apricot brandy
2 dashes grenadine
4 dashes lemon juice
Shake well with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. 

I unpacked my winter China today, and it finally feels like the holidays even if the weather is a balmy 60 degrees and raining. I still have borage and nasturtiums in the garden! If you've been around this blog for a while you know that Birthday Cake Mania is about to begin. I've made some strange ones over the years, but Danny's request for his 12th Birthday might be the oddest yet. I have three weeks to pull this off. I'm going to need a cocktail (or three). 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Let's Visit Des Moines, Iowa

"Fancy running into you here, Danny! What brings you to Des Moines?"
"You did, I was riding in the back of the car."
"You don't say. Since we're here, how about going to visit the Saylorville reservoir to look for migratory birds?"
"Fine by me."
 There were both golden and bald eagles as well as pelicans, merganzers, and ring-billed gulls (none of which managed to be photographed by me).
Danny took better photos-perhaps I'll convince him to share some with us later on.

It was blowing a gale, but the weather was still unseasonably warm. I bought this leather coat expecting a few wears before I required something heavier, but I'm pleased to report it is getting plenty of wear this autumn.

Outfit Particulars:
Skinny jeans-K Mart
Vintage acrylic sweater-Hand-Me-Ups
Boots-Goodwill about 10 years ago
Vintage 70's leather coat-Goodwill
Vintage copper Hopi necklace-New Life Thrift
Knit headband-K Mart
Velvet shoulderbag-Goodwill
Fragrance-Alfred Sung

 We caught a buffalo.
Ready to tour the State House? Great, let's go inside!
The state house was constructed between 1871 and 1886. It is the only five-domed capitol in the United States. 
I'm sure they'll have this removed shortly as it is now been deemed irrelevant.
In the case is a replica of the battleship USS Iowa.
I'm glad polishing the floor tiles isn't my job. It must take a small army to keep this place as gleaming as it is. At the front bottom of the photo is a round of glass tiles that function as a skylight for the lower floor.
I did get a bit dizzy looking up, but it was so magnificent it was worth the discomfort.
I would imagine working in a building like this would give even the lowest-tier state workers the impression that their work was important and meaningful. It might not last ten seconds after sitting at a desk and getting to work, but I would think the walk in each morning would leave an impression.
 Obligatory covered wagon painting.
 Stained glass window.
 Fake marble. I learn something new every day.

 We learned so much on our visit, I'll bet we even look smarter.

The Iowa State Capitol is closed Sundays and holidays. Guided tours are available. 

Iowa Sunrise Cocktail:
1oz. vodka
1oz. white rum
1 oz. lemonade
1 oz. Sprite
4 ounces orange juice
Splash of grenadine
In a large glass add the alcohols, then the lemonade. Sprite, and orange juice on top. Add the grenadine and it should bleed through the layers making the sunrise.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Mexican Tourist Jacket and Christmas Tree Shopping

 I have a new favourite jacket (I know, I'm fickle). This is the third Mexican tourist jacket I've bought, and it is by far, the nicest. The heavy, unlined flannel is warm, doesn't wrinkle and goes with just about everything in my wardrobe. I don't know enough about these jackets to accurately date it, but someone out there does-feel free to add any information you'd like to share in the comments.

 This jacket is machine embroidered as far as I can tell. My other jackets are hand embroidered with yarn rather than floss. There's no label, but it does feel mass produced. No matter, I love it anyway and plan to wear it at every opportunity before the weather turns too cold.
Outfit Particulars:
Mexican tourist jacket-Hand Me Ups
Jeans-K Mart
Poloneck-K Mart
Earrings-K Mart
Vintage handbag-Goodwill

Our old  artificial tree is showing wear, so it was off to the Menards for a new one. The last tree was purchased used at Goodwill for ten bucks when Danny was not quite four, so I do think we got our money out of it.
 That's the old tree the year we bought it . I had a box of old ornaments I hadn't opened in twenty years that Danny thought of as a treasure chest. I don't miss the drafty old farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. I thought I would, but I do not. At all.
This might be the last time he had short hair.
Fast forward to today. Danny is standing beside the tree we eventually settled on. At 7ft. it is a bit taller than the old one, but not so big that it will be a nuisance. It took him an hour and a half walking around with a notebook making comparisons before settling on this one. I was pleased he went for an unlit, inexpensive tree. For a moment I was nervous as he eyed a massive white tree, but he thought better of it.
 We found Santa. I'm not sure I like the idea of a blow-up Santa doll. You should see the other things they have on offer at this store.

Oh, what's this we have here? Wouldn't that be a conversation piece all lit up in front of the house? Sort of reminds me of that modern art they had in front of the Louvre last year...
But hey, that's modern art for you. If you hire McCarthy to do a large inflatable, you sort of have to expect something like that, but I'm not sure what Menards was thinking. Right. Moving along...

The old tree will be going in front of the house to be converted into a giant bird feeder. We went out collecting pine cones last week, and we'll slather them in sunflower seed butter and various bird seeds, dried fruit, etc. I have some shatter-proof outdoor ornaments as well. I hope that works out (and that the squirrels won't steal it all) and doesn't blow away in the first storm. I'll get some bricks to weight it down.

The gingerbread men are baked, decorated, and ready to wrap and put on the tree. This is Danny's job now, and I take a hands-off approach to it all. I'll never be the sort of person that re-does the tree after the kids go to bed and blame it on elves. I can't imagine my life ever getting to the point where the decorating of a Christmas tree would be so important that I'd re-do my kid's decorating.

Thanksgiving was quiet, the neighbourhood was abandoned (most of the college students head home for the holiday) and Danny spent the afternoon adjusting the tree and shoving nails of cloves into oranges. I made a baked cod with dressing which we call a "Massachusetts Turkey." The  weekend has been nice so far. We did a short visit to Des Moines, Iowa which was lovely (I'll have photos in a forthcoming post) and a trip to Lincoln, Nebraska. I didn't go near any of the Black Friday madness, and we've been enjoying some wonderful birding at various spots around Iowa and Nebraska.

 There were a great number of pelicans about, which was great as Danny hadn't seen one yet. Anytime he can add birds to his "life list" he's happy. Until you see them taking flight it is hard to imagine just how large pelicans are.

I'll leave you with a preview of our visit to the Iowa State Capitol, with a promise of interior photos coming soon. It is a remarkable building, and we had such a lovely time touring and admiring it.

Today's Cocktail is an Adonis:
2 oz. dry sherry
1 oz. sweet vermouth
1 dash orange bitters
Stir well with ice and strain into a glass.

Hope your week has been as fun an interesting as mine. I'll be over to your blogs getting caught up.