Sunday, January 13, 2019

I'm Not Like Everybody Else

First things first-it snowed! I took Roland (The snowman's head that lives in my freezer) out to frolic in the snow with his favourite bottle of gin. Yeah, the neighbours all saw-along with some random person driving down the street 😀. So that was fun, and it gave me an opportunity to wear a dress in this year's Pantone colour-Living Coral. Finally, a colour I can wear.

Most of my frolicking has been indoors of late as it has been cold, damp, and windy.
Finally got round to wearing this sweater/70s bath rug I bought last year. Sometimes I need to live with a piece for a bit before deciding how to wear it. If I owned white polyester flares, that would make a good early spring look, but I don't so it was gold trousers and a black long-sleeved shirt beneath for warmth. I remember similarly shaped/cut clothing, but never anything made of this yarn/carpet material.
Outfit Particulars:
Gold Kay Unger trousers-Hand-Me-Ups
Clogs-retail about 15 years ago
Vintage tote bag-Goodwill
Vintage top-Hand-Me-Ups
Gold bangles-all over

Sometimes, no matter the weather, I need a little glam in my life. Enter the mesh romper/playsuit.

 Yeah, I went out like that. No, I have no idea what I was thinking.

 You might be noticing the big earring trend has taken hold over here at Eat The Blog. Earrings are such an inexpensive, fun way to give yourself a boost-why not?!

 I'm rediscovering scarves as well. There's no quicker way to add interest to an outfit.

 The romper was completely sheer on top except for a bit of lining around the boobs. I don't have a problem with that, but it is January in Nebraska-so I wore a tunic beneath it. I'm actually pretty covered-up by typical American standards, especially with those tights being closer to leggings.
I bought the jacket because I loved the buttons! I probably won't remove them because it is St. John Evening and I respect quality clothing enough to leave it intact if possible. I didn't think the jacket would fit when I bought it, but luckily, it did. It would look amazing with wide, white trousers on a summer evening with a sequin shell beneath.

Outfit Particulars:
Playsuit/romper-Sears (at the clearance sale before the store closed)
Vintage St. John Evening jacket-Goodwill
Tights- K Mart (also now closed)
Scarf-can't remember
Boots- K Mart
Vintage hat box/travel bag-Antique mall
Vintage necklace-Goodwill (I think?)
Beaded bracelets-Shop Ko about 15 years ago
Fragrance-Burberry Classic

Before I get back to the clothes, I must show you Mr. ETB's birthday celebration. He's (a youthful) 58 and to celebrate I made him a steak and ale pudding. That was interesting for me as a vegetarian (and have been since the early 80s) because I had to completely rely on following a recipe without any intuition about how it would turn out.
It turned out perfectly!
Recipe found here.  I don't have a proper 6 cup pudding basin so I used my Corningware casserole dish and it worked fine. I had to order Atora suet online because suet in the US is sold in an un-processed block with membranes and all. That's fine if you want to render it, or grind it up for sausage-making, but just to make a pudding, that's a bit of work. Thank goodness for the internet.
 I bought Mr. ETB a vintage lunchpail as we had been reminiscing about the old ecology stickers and badges that were everywhere in the 70s. I don't think it gets any more ecologically responsible than a 50 year old lunchpail-and it stays out of the landfill. This will also encourage him to take lunch from home more often.
Possibly the best part of the meal were the balsamic onions. This is my own invention.

You Will Need:
1 bag of frozen pearl onions, thawed and patted dry
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt to taste
About 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large pan. Add the onions, sugar, thyme and salt. Cook until they start turning transparent. Turn the heat to low and cook, stirring once in a while until onions are soft and deeply golden. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and cook a few minutes longer until most of the liquid cooks off. Serve hot or cold. Leftovers can be mashed up and spread on bread or tucked into a cheese sandwich.

Oh my gosh-I just posted a recipe! Been a while, hasn't it?!
I wish I'd written down what I did here. It was soup with chickpeas, white beans, kale and hot red peppers. Anyway, it is the sort of thing you could probably improvise easily. I served it over some farro.

Back to the vintage clothing...
I've lived in Nebraska long enough now (18 years) that I don't give a second thought to wearing Western wear. It feels quite natural here. This top and matching skirt were a very lucky find at Thrift World a couple months back. It isn't the nicest shop (or the cleanest) but sometimes I find great stuff there.
This stuff ain't cheap😁. I didn't know anything about the company until I did a bit of Googling, but I could tell it was well-made clothing.
 I wore some bangles, as you do...
 ...and a tooled leather belt.

And a handbag to match the belt.

 Outfit Particulars:
Vintage (is 90s really vintage?!) top and skirt-Thrift World
Vintage handbag and belt-both New Life Thrift
Gold boots-Goodwill
Vintage Ultrasuede jacket-Goodwill
Vintage Mexican necklace-Goodwill
Vintage bangles-various places but all thrifted
Shell earrings-World Market about 10 years ago
Fragrance-Aramis-and plenty of it!

The big earrings continue! I'll probably cut my hair at some point and go back to smaller clips, but for the moment, I'm enjoying something a little different.
The pale blue earrings were a perfect match for this faience scarab necklace I found on a recent thrifting trip.
These earrings were heavy, and clanged with every move. Sort of like wearing a cowbell. Moo.
These however have to be the biggest earrings I own. I was worried my hair would get caught in them, but after a windy New Years Day outing, they were still free of knotted hair. Yes, I wore a velvet track suit with big earrings. I also wore boots and a vintage fur. It is a look. Or it some point. At least I don't have, "Juicy" emblazoned across my rear end.
 Crazy 70s mink and leather coat over track suit? Why not?!
 I would wear these boots absolutely everywhere if I could get away with it. They are so warm and comfortable. One of my best Goodwill finds, ever.
Big earrings are giving me life in 2019. Really, I don't need much to be happy.
 I will leave you with a look at my mother's Cazal frames  I once again had set with my lenses. I had them tinted blue last time around, but this year went clear. I wear trifocals and were it not for super-thin plastics these would be what we used to call, "Coke bottles" due to the thickness. I can't imagine how heavy these must have been back in the 80s when my mother was wearing them. Even with ultra thin plastic, they're still plenty heavy. I still have the black round frames as well, but thought I should get a spare pair as I am now at the point where it would be difficult managing without them if something happened. Spare specs-I feel like such an old lady! I am an old lady, but still.
 They are slightly too big for my head (my mother had a big head-don't laugh, she did!) but I think they are wearable without looking silly.
Well, maybe not too silly. 
How is January treating you? Anything new you're trying to incorporate into your wardrobe? Do tell!

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

VIA Lanvin-Fragrance Review

My younger self would have been all over VIA had I known it existed. Launched in 1971 it should have been on my radar, but for whatever reason was not. I've never been much of a Lanvin fan, so that might have something to do with it. Still, the bottle is so fantastic looking, I'd like to think I'd have been drawn to it. No time like the present for catching up!

I have a love/hate relationship with narcissus. It can be an allergy inducing nightmare, or it can be the best thing ever. Or Noir Morabito can induce an asthma attack, where Samsara, and Norell don't bother me at all. I was cautious with VIA as it is a narcissus powerhouse according to reviews. I did the "One tiny drop on each wrist, and rub" and was completely blown away, not by the narcissus but the oakmoss. Holy hell, this IS a 70s perfume! 

I haven't smoked in many, many years, but when I did, I smoked those terrible menthol cigarettes like Benson and Hedges (barfs and heaves as we called them) or later when I could afford them, Dunhills. Horrible, horrible, ghastly things. In later years I developed a dislike for menthol and finished out my smoking days on Chesterfield's and Marlboros which were probably worse than any menthol cigarette could possibly be. Anyway, I rarely crave cigarettes, and probably had the world's easiest time quitting (I just stopped smoking) which I know is extremely fortunate and not meant to minimise the difficulty so many people face giving it up. My point is I hadn't thought much about cigarettes until I got a whiff of VIA, not because it smells like tobacco or smoke-it doesn't, but because it reminds me of the era when I started smoking. Cigarettes were .55 cents a packet when I started-so cheap even a kid could afford them. I'll leave you to judge what sort of adults let their underage charge smoke at home because it was a good tool for weight loss, but I think it is fair to say it was more common than we'd like to admit. I wish I could say that was their worst parenting decision but I think we all know that wouldn't be true. 

VIA reminds me of smoking in the 70s. It reminds me of the gigantic decorative ashtrays always filled to the edges (because who could be bothered to get up and go dump it down the toilet?) stinking up the curtains, carpet and upholstery of every room in the house. (Almost) everyone's home smelled like that. Everyone's car smelled like that. People used to walk the aisles of the supermarket smoking. We all walked around in a cloud of smoke, whether we smoked or not. It must have been terrible for non smokers-it is hard to imagine today. Perhaps that's partly why VIA seems to be missing something. Would a tobacco note help? Only one way to find out-enter, Maurer and Wirtz Tabac.

I do these things. I'm like the old person that blurts out whatever their brain happens to be thinking without any sort of filter. I swear, I'm NOT impulsive, but perfume is like painting-throw in a little crimson, some cobalt, some vermilion-before you know it you have a carcinogenic cocktail of raw pigments a muddled mess of colour that you slap on the canvas anyway. I am the canvas to my perfume collection's mixing palette. 

Layering Tabac and VIA sounded  like a good idea, and I'm willing to try just about anything with respect to perfume. Trust me when I tell you, DO NOT do this. Just don't. You'll regret it, and your family will hate you, particularly if you're all trapped in the car for a ride to Iowa. Learn from my mistakes kids. I've got one word to describe the result of my little experiment: Bad. Okay, two words:Very Bad. 

Sigh, I think VIA would be a tricky perfume to wear in close quarters today. Definitely not an inoffensive office scent, though the only offence it could cause is not smelling like candy floss or fabric softener. These days, that's enough though honestly, VIA wouldn't have been a quiet fragrance in the 70s. With that much narcissus, oakmoss, and vetiver it is going to be noticed! Toss on a wallop of aldehydes and it will be enough to send some people to a window gasping for air. Surprisingly, there isn't any civet in VIA which seems strange to me-I mean hell, you have the rest of the stinky party, why not throw in some feral cat?!

Notes According to Fragrantica:
Narcissus, aldehydes, green notes, carnation, ylang ylang, sandalwood, oakmoss, vetiver, bergamot, Virginia cedar amber, musk, jasmine, violet, orris root, amalfi lemon

The market auidience for VIA isn't absolutely clear to me. This isn't a young person's fragrance (certainly not in the 70's) but it isn't mature either. It doesn't feel revolutionary or different from many of the other fragrances of the era. My bottle is old, and it is possible the lemon and carnation notes were more refined and have been lost over time, or that there's subtlety in the jasmine I can't smell-but I kinda think this was someone at Lanvin thinking they needed to grab the 30-something housewives that wouldn't wear My Sin or Arpege because their mother's did. I don't get, youthful office worker from VIA-if anything, I think I get "Aged out of the Junior League, married a banker and bought a house in the suburbs."  Or possibly, "Estee Lauder, for women that think Estee Lauder is too common." 

That said, I have been enjoying VIA (alone, without any layering) and wouldn't hesitate to buy another bottle if it came along. The oakmoss/vetiver combination is beautifully done-you get the sense they went for expensive vetiver. Could I live without it? Sure, and that's likely the general reaction that doomed it. There were so many extraordinary perfumes coming to market in that time, I suspect VIA just didn't have the marketing to make it stick. The packaging with the modern looking type font and silver box should have appealed to the hedonism of the 70s, or at least people that could afford to snort coke. I'd be interested to know what someone young thinks of VIA, without all the associations I have from living through the era. But whatever you do-keep it away from M&W Tabac.

Monday, December 31, 2018

December 2018-The Last

Oh my goodness-it is nearly 2019! New Year's Eve in Omaha has largely been cancelled due to the ice storm, sub-zero cold and ferocious wind headed our way tonight. I'm glad the city cancelled the fireworks event downtown because I was NOT looking forward to risking a slip and fall on ice covered streets. At my age a broken hip can be a damn death sentence. Instead, we're staying in, playing board games, listening to music and hopefully getting to bed at a reasonable hour. 

  So, 2018. What a year it was, too. For Danny, it was wonderful finding out he was mis-diagnosed with both a nut allergy and asthma. And yes, I am still mighty annoyed with the old allergist, but am moving on. He has another year of allergy jabs, and then he's pretty much free to just get on with it, and I am so, so happy for him. The rest of the year I could have done without, but I'm going to stay focused on the happy moments. The kid is pretty grown up for fourteen, but I still buy his clothes for him
God bless Shifty Thrifting and their Teespring shop. I'm never at a loss for a creative gift.

 Anyway, here we are, nearly in January and I've barely scratched the surface of my winter wardrobe owing to our strange weather. I used to divide it into Winter I and Winter II with the first part being largely sequins, sparkle, velvet and other gaudy assorted items. This year though, I've had days that would be too warm for velvet and days where woolens aren't nearly enough. It has been very week-to-week. I shudder to think what January and February are going to be like. Sweater/jumper wearing has been light so far without any need to bring out the heavy hitters like the Irish fisherman's sweater or the Norwegian ski sweater. Personally, I kind of hope I don't need them this year although I know it won't be a good sign if I don't.

 This is a vintage piece from the Amana Woolen Mills (though it is acrylic) in Iowa. They no longer produce clothing, but they do make lovely blankets if you are looking for a nice gift. I have several sweaters and even a wool suit, but this piece is my favourite. It doesn't look like much, but I wouldn't want to be without it.
 Some days though, I just want to wear a scratchy wool sweater with a reindeer on it.
The back is solid blue. Less versatile than the Amana piece, it makes me feel ready for fun whenever I wear it. This year, I wore it for a Christmas Day hike around the NRD.
 It was an absolutely gorgeous day.
It was warm enough to go without a coat or sweater if you are a teenager. He's always hot five minutes after starting a hike. Me? I could freeze to death on a 70 degree day.
 We came home and enjoyed our leftover Feast of the Seven Fishes paella from Christmas eve, and had the Christmas cake Danny made back in August (we've been feeding it brandy regularly). I did the icing and decorating, obviously. An angel is traditional on a Christmas cake...
...I really shouldn't be trusted with gingerbread and royal icing. 
After owning this bracelet for years, I finally remembered to wear it. 

I also, at long last plugged in the electric tea kettle I bought ages ago but was too intimidated to use. In my defence it came with a substantial booklet of instructions and everything was labelled, "CAUTION!" I once gave away an unused, expensive espresso maker because it was too scary-and it had a video tape of instructions to go with the booklet!

Sure, go ahead and laugh but I can think of better ways to injure myself than with pressurised steam. 
The boys surprised me with some wonderful textiles. I bought Mr. ETB a much needed wallet, and Danny some tickets to ballgames this summer. Neither make for great photos, but they were pleased with their gifts. Danny will be getting a new camera for birding/nature photography this year, but December isn't the best time to buy that. Hopefully we'll find what he wants at a price we can manage before the crane migration starts in February. 
 If you look closely, you can see thew quilted skirt depicts scenes from The Iliad. The textile designer is Victor Malta who was never a terribly sought after artist until a few years ago. This was a wonderful find, and I'm so happy to have the circle skirt in my collection. it is a very wide skirt, with an unfortunately tiny waist. That's what button extenders are for!

 Years ago I made Danny an embroidered quilt with scenes from the Iliad on it. Some stories just work well on fabric, I guess.
 This vintage tea towel depicting sites along the Freedom Trail in Boston is too nice to use! I'll be framing it and hanging it in the kitchen.
I had a bit of a scare with my vision this year, but after a re-check it looks like everything is fine. The arthritis medication I take can cause eye problems, so it was a bit worrying over the holidays until I went back on the 27th. Now I can relax. I'm still cross-eyed, but that hasn't got worse over the last year either, so good news all around! This photo really drives home why I need big frames as a distraction from my face. If I wore contacts I'd have to devote more than 30 seconds to drawing my eyebrows on evenly...and I think we all know that isn't going to happen😀.
I've been forced by bad outdoor light to take photos indoors and strangely the best light in the house is on the stairs. I can prop up my phone on the piano, set the timer, and manage halfway acceptable snaps without going outside or bothering anyone to take photos. I'm quite pleased with this as I really prefer to do things myself. I'll have to think of ways to dress up the stairs to keep things interesting.

And that's about it for now. I hope you have a wonderful 2019. Thank you all for tagging along with me here. See you after the ice storm!