Tuesday, October 12, 2021


Hi there! Just me, waving awkwardly. Helloooo. Are you ready to Rocktober?! I love October, wish there was some way to slow it down. 

I'm helpfully holding up my handbag so you can see it. It was also hair wash day, so this is as good as my hair will look for the next week. Not wanting to lose the opportunity to show off my freshly cleaned tresses, I put on decent clothing and went out to do my Thursday chores. Thursdays are more or less my thrifting day. Danny has French club after school so I have extra time before I need to pick him up. 

My first stop is typically the little thrift shop in the church basement on 84th street. Most of the time I don't find anything, but when I do it is pretty good stuff. Today I came home with a belt bought more for the removeable Western buckle with a large agate in the centre. I'll wear that over and over and it was an absolute bargain at $5.00 I haven't checked it over closely, but I suspect it is silver. 

A bit further up the street, and then around a corner is the Assistance League thrift store. I always find something there. They do a weekly sale of colour coded tags (like Goodwill does) at half price, .99 cents, etc. This week I bought half price earrings, bracelets, a beautiful silk scarf, and a vintage red, pussy bow blouse. I think a red blouse almost always works in my wardrobe. 

Chuffed with how well I'd done (I'd still spent very little) I tried my luck at Hand Me Ups. There, I found a Missoni blouse I had, but gave away and regretted ever since. I was able to replace it new with tags and extra button for a few dollars. 

By that point, I was really thinking it couldn't get any better, but I decided to try my luck at the Goodwill across the street from Hand Me Ups. I had almost given up when I spotted a 1970s black polyester jumpsuit with wide legs and rainbow trim. That was $5.79 It needs some re-stitching in spots but is otherwise in good condition. 

My Thursdays aren't always so fruitful, but I enjoy being out (wearing an N95 mask with a surgical mask over it because I am not fucking around) and doing something just for myself. Tomorrow I'll get the groceries, and there will be cleaning and laundry, and the like but on Thursday I get to do my thing. 

We're at the in-between point where it is too humid for tights but too cool for bare legs so enter the dreaded "Nana Tights." I don't hate them as much as some people do, particularly as my legs haven't been looking very nice of late (veins, blotchy dry skin, etc). If I'm wearing Nana tights I might as well carry a Nana bag and this one even had my name on it. Literally. It is a "Jenny Bag". 
This is probably the most utilitarian bag I own. I found it new with tags, but it is from the 50s. The belt I'm wearing appears to have been handmade. The shoes are a pair of Clarks I thrifted a few years ago. Everything here is vintage save for the dress which I thrifted but originally came from H&M. I like it, but unless I remember to keep hand washing and drip drying it, I don't think it will last very long. I'd like to think I'm giving it a second life, but realistically, this sort of stuff should never be made in the first place. The world doesn't need more cheap, acrylic knit dresses. I'll do my best to take care of it though. I do really like how it looks. 
Because it was a French Club Thursday, I had to hurry to get dinner together once we got home. This stir-fry with tofu and vegetables is served over chickpea pasta and came together in about 30 minutes. Pro Tip-start by pressing your tofu dry between towels and beneath a weight. As it presses, you can use the time to quickly chop the vegetables, bring a pot of water to a boil, and make a sauce. 

Fry the tofu first, then remove it to a plate and do the veg adding it back in at the end. So much of cooking is about timing and knowing that carrots will need longer to cook than peppers. 

For an all purpose sort of sauce I combine: 
1/4 c. low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar (or sherry)
1 tablespoon Swerve brown sugar replacement
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
a pinch of mixed spice
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 star anise
Enough low sodium vegetable broth to bring to 1 cup
2 tablespoons cornstarch (cornflour)

Mix it all together and pour over vegetables in last few minutes of cooking. You can add a splash of sesame oil if you like it (I loathe the smell). It will thicken as it cooks. If you cook it a bit too hard and it needs thinning extra broth or water should work fine. 

This is less a recipe than a template because I don't know what sort of vegetables you have to hand. I do cook scallions in two parts with the whites first and the green part just tossed in at the end. I know that sounds like extra work, but it does make for a nicer stir fry. 

So here I used, scallions, ginger root, garlic, red and orange bell peppers, zucchini, and carrots. With the tofu it was more than enough food. 

Friday arrived and with it the usual chores. Cleaned the bathrooms, mopped the floors, hoovered the carpets, watered the garden, did the laundry, dusted the furniture, made the beds, and cleaned the fridge. By the time 3 PM rolled around, I went to collect Danny from school and then came home to start dinner. Ordinarily, these chores wouldn't take an entire day, but I'm slower now. Everything still gets done, eventually. Thankfully, dinner was quick and easy to prepare-I'll get to that in a moment. 
This skirt was part of a very damaged suit. The top isn't salvageable to wear (will use the fabric elsewhere) but the skirt only needed a few small repairs. No idea on the origin of the fabric (West African? Indonesia?) but I knew it was too beautiful to let it end up in the trash. 
The shirt glows in the dark.
I have leggings with the long bones painted on and I've always wanted to go jogging at night wearing them, but I've never done it. My jogging days are probably over, but I can manage a short walk. Most evenings I get a walk around the campus next door. Last night another very brazen squirrel ran right up to us. Mr. ETB had some peanuts in his jacket pocket, so he gave them to him. Squirrels can remember people so I'm afraid he'd better be bringing a bag of nuts along for our walks. 
Dinner was a breeze to get together. A few weeks back I bought some thinly sliced chicken breasts on a deep sale. I treated them like cutlets, and they cooked quickly in a frying pan. I also fried some onions, mushrooms, garlic, and thyme seasoned with a pinch of smoked paprika. I made a quick sauce from broth, margarine, and cornstarch. I deglazed the chicken pan with a generous splash of dry white wine, and then reduced it and poured the concentrated bit into the gravy. The green beans were frozen and cooked quickly in a frying pan with a bit of oil and a tablespoon of olive tapenade from a jar I bought last week. Quick, healthy, and inexpensive. Can't ask much more than that. I had a scoop of peanut butter ice cream I made myself that was dense in calories and nutrients. I can only manage small amounts at a time, but it turned out well. Because they boys aren't eating it I didn't need to use special ingredients and it is only peanut butter, evaporated milk, granulated sugar, and vanilla extract. I don't have an ice cream maker so I used a metal tray in the freezer. Turned out fine. Next time I'm going to try stirring some Ovaltine powder into it. I just don't want to be like the guy that made ice cream out of Pepto Bismal! There's a limit to my experimentation. 

I was completely wiped out after making dinner and cleaning up, so Mr. ETB offered to come with to do the grocery shopping and push the cart around. At 6:30 PM on a Friday night , it was rather empty and we were able to get what we needed quickly, and get out. No great meat bargains this time, but I did come home with $2.00 wine (I'll use it for cooking) and two pounds of cremini mushrooms for practically nothing. Mushrooms are so expensive, and I'm more than happy to have them. I do own a dehydrator and can always dry any extra, though I rarely have extra. Right now I have a large head of cabbage, mushrooms, and enough beans to keep them fed for a week at least. Saturday is typically a smorgasbord of leftovers from the previous week. 

Last year during the height of the pandemic (though our cases locally are just as high now) I'd shop early in the morning and plan for several weeks at a time. I'm not doing that now, but I still avoid crowds and being in stores at peak times. With Mr. ETB along I wasn't tempted to shop for any clearance earrings at Target-and I do love the sale earrings at Target, though I doubt he'd have cared. I've only got two ears though! I probably don't need more earrings. Ever. I recently sent a few vintage pieces off to a young friend in Texas who will get more wear from them than I will. 

Yep, there's a stack of extra blankets on the bed and I'm wearing a sweater, leggings, and heavy alpaca socks to sleep in. The days might feel like summer but the nights have definitely been cold. 
The leggings are a few years old but still going strong. I have to find my silver spiderweb leggings before the month is out.

You might be getting the idea that I like whimsical leggings. I really do. 

This is an unretouched photo from Sunday. Look how blue that sky was. Our weather was finally cool enough for a jacket in the morning and evening. 
Didn't get the greatest photos as it was blindingly bright out, but that's okay. 
Another giant belt that probably weighs five pounds between the buckle and all the rhinestone studs. I'm wearing it low on my hips here and it just closes on the last hole, but at my natural waist it fits fine. The jeans are vintage Y2K era boot cut hipsters. Someone on social media suggested I need a big 60s muscle car to go with the look. I wouldn't mind a GTO.

This was another meal making use of garden herbs that are still going strong. Underneath all the tomatoes, olives, and capers are cod fillets, and a square of fried polenta. I don't usually make my own polenta as it is inexpensive enough to buy, but this time I did. It made quite a lot so we'll have it for meals through the week. 

Basic Polenta Recipe:
6 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups polenta (corn grits)
3 tablespoons margarine (optional)

In a large, heavy pot bring water and salt to a boil. Slowly whisk in the polenta and lower the temperature to a simmer. Cook about 30 minutes until thickened, stirring often. It WILL spit, so use a long spoon and stand back. When done, remove from heat, beat in margarine (or butter) and pour into a greased pan or bowl (I use a 9x13 inch Pyrex dish). Let stand about 10 minutes. Unmould onto a plate. It makes quite a lot, so wrap any extra and keep in in the fridge. To fry, dredge in flour to prevent sticking, and fry in a pan with about 1/8 of an inch of olive oil. Serve hot.

I purchased this leather waistcoat off another last-chance rail a couple years ago. One of the buttons had torn away a bit of the leather and was hanging off revealing the lining. It was a five minute repair at most. It always amazes me what people will consider a defect worth getting rid of. This is a vintage, Made in Italy piece of leather that just isn't made today. I'm happy to own it (didn't think it would ever fit me, but I wanted it for my collection) and delighted to finally give it a wear. 
These boots retail for over $200.00 They were unworn when I thrifted them. Admittedly, the patchwork of colours are strange-sort of a grey/beige/greige, and a greenish khaki. When they work though, as they did with this odd shade of brown skirt, it is a fantastic combination. But truthfully, they don't get much wear because these aren't colours my wardrobe favours. 
The skirt is one of two vintage double knit skirts in a similar style that I picked up at Hand Me Ups. I'm going to say it-knit skirts strike me as mumsy. Not my mum, because she liked trousers, but other mums, absolutely. I'm wearing them anyway because they're stretch waists that don't hurt my stomach, but in an ideal world, I wouldn't be wearing a skirt like this. 
Here's the back of the skirt, and a look at how long my hair is getting. It is dry and brittle but long. 
"Make a silly face."

Omaha is expecting severe storms tonight (Unusual this late in the year) and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the roof repair holds. The roofers were up there mucking around on our neighbour's side yesterday. It is a flat roof so I'm also hoping for a mild winter without too much snow. 
I have so much to do over the next several weeks interspersed wit h medical appointments that will likely throw everything off schedule. All but the most critical surgeries are on hold right now as our hospitals continue to fill with the unvaccinated, so I'm probably not looking at anything immediate. That's a drag because I'm in misery, but as long as folks have their freedom I guess I shouldn't be cross about it. *Grumbles anyway*.
I've had this Talbot's skirt for a very long time, since I was a university student and picked up a nasty case of dysentery doing my fieldwork. That was the last time it fit too, but I kept it figuring I might have a daughter or granddaughter that would like it. I paid a lot of money for it, and surely it would fit someone. I just never expected that someone to be me, but here we are. So yay for the nice skirt but as we say in the midwest, holy fucking shit, I'm not happy about it. 

Sorry about that. I do try to keep it generally positive around here and on Instagram but I am losing my patience with these people that won't do anything to even pretend to be part of society. I'd be upset even if I personally didn't need medical care. Enough of this childishness already. 

I'm doing NaNoWriMo this November because yeah, it is time to finish the damn thing. I'm not doing it officially as I'm rather far along, but I'm taking the excuse to complete the novel. Which is good because I have three other half-written pieces sitting around that will probably just end up on AO3 because at least one of them is flirting with fan fiction. But yeah, I need to get this stuff in order.

Thanksgiving and Hanukkah fall nearly together this year at the end of November. Then once December arrives I'll have Dan's birthday, Christmas, and all the other stuff. This is probably the last year he will humour me and let me bake a novelty cake . Most years the cakes reflect his interests so maybe the EU flag? It would certainly be easier than some of the ones I've done. We don't go wild with gift giving, but as he'll be turning 17 I wanted to give him something special (No, not an Adidas track suit!) and so far all I've picked up was a copy of Amanda Gorman's The Hill We Climb and Other Poems. I know that's meaningful to him, so I made the rare purchase of a new book. Most of my holiday cards are posted already. 

My beloved White Sox (Danny supports the Cubs) are out now for the post season, so I won't have baseball distracting me. We won't talk about my feelings regarding the team manager except to say I'd feel the same about him if they'd won the World Series. They could have hired anyone and they went with Tony La Russa. God only knows why. But the players did a great job this year and should be proud of themselves. 

Wow, that got off topic from Covidiots to the Sox but that's how my brain works these days. I should save that stuff for Tumblr. You're all welcome there, by the way. Mostly me reblogging things I find interesting. 

First wear for the necklace. I adore that 70s hammered metal look. I don't have much in silver for some reason. 
I'm going to stroll on out of here before the storms arrive. I really hope we don't lose power again. 

Take care everyone. 



Wednesday, October 06, 2021

She's Still a Mystery to Me

Nancy Drew poses! You know Nancy Drew of the children's mystery books, don't you?

I had the books from my older sister and cousins, but I never really got interested. I read a few, and moved on to other things. I did however really love the covers as Nancy shared my taste in clothing. So let's call this Goody McGoodface and the Mystery of the Clothing She Didn't Remember Buying. 
I'm now looking for clothes to wear from what is essentially the stock of pieces I bought intending to sell. As I never wore this skirt or blouse, I wasn't sure if they'd even fit. They did, and I'm happy to have a navy blue skirt in my wardrobe. The blouse is even more of a mystery. It is made of a very silky nylon. The belt is Anne Klein for Oroton and I would think that would have stuck in my memory, but I don't remember purchasing it. I'm glad I did as it is a nice heavy belt, but it is definitely a mystery. Perhaps we can get Nancy on the case. 
The print is lovely though and the fabric covered buttons a nice touch. 
Hard to photograph, but that belt buckle weighs at least a pound. They just don't make things that well these days. 
Perhaps Nancy can solve the mystery of the missing Laura Ashley Romper. I went looking for the one I bought in a floral corduroy and found this one instead. Would I really have bought two of something this ugly?! Apparently so. In the US we call this sort of thing a "Onesie" and they're generally for children that still wear diapers. Unlike the toddler version, this one sadly doesn't have snaps at the crotch for ease of using the restroom. This might be one of the most absurd things I have ever worn. That said, it had nice deep pockets on the front and was loose and comfortable. The 80s had some very questionable fashions. 
The band at the ankle makes the balloon effect...effective.  
The socks I'm wearing are thick, cotton cabled knee socks from Land's End that I purchased mid-80s. They're still going strong. The shoes are Bass Weejuns Penny Loafers and yes, I put a penny in the slots with the year I bought the shoes. I've been wearing the same loafers nearly my entire life (I see no reason to try other makers when these are so good) and they do last a very long time. I had a pair as a university student that my dad threw away without asking because the soles had some holes starting and he didn't want me looking shabby. I was so angry because I could have them re-soled, but breaking in another pair would take ages. These were purchased about 15 years ago and still looking good. 
You can read a bit of the shoe's history HERE

Let's take a better look at the bracelet
Have you ever picked up a bracelet and immediately known it would feel lovely on your wrist? 
For someone that favours big, loud pieces, this is (whisper it) tastefully made. It looks expensive even if it is costume. So many link bracelets pinch my skin or feel twisted on my arm. This one does not. Before thrifting the piece I wasn't familiar with Keja Designs. You can visit the website and read a bit more. I'm tempted by those meteorite rings. 

I took Danny over to Iowa Saturday afternoon to have a look at some migrating birds. It was an overcast day, but still warm.
The clouds looked dramatic but didn't do much beyond a few sprinkles of rain.
Autumn in the American Midwest means goldenrod growing everywhere. It also means swarms of bees being attracted to the late season blooms. We didn't get stung, but Danny is no lover of stinging insects and wasn't too pleased with me bringing him over to look at the goldenrod! It is beautiful though. I planted some at the farm and it took well. Probably been hit with weed killer by someone that wants a pristine green lawn now. 
The park around the lake used to be open to the public but has been recently privatised. I hadn't been there in a couple of years and had no idea. There was a policeman sitting in his car so I drove over to ask if there was somewhere to get a day pass to look at birds and he told me to just go ahead and if anyone questioned us to tell them he said it was OK. That was nice. I suppose we didn't look like a couple of poachers! Still sad though that the park is off limits now. Insert standard rant about gentrification _________. 

Closer to home, I harvested the two largest sunflower seed heads, tied them to the rail of the back balcony and left it for the birds and squirrels. There's still several more sunflower heads with plenty to harvest for our own use and still share with the wildlife. 
Would you believe this 80s skirt is a knit? I was surprised as well. 
It doesn't have much stretch and hold shape well through the day. Another mystery skirt that I undoubtedly bought for the print thinking I'd use the fabric for a cushion cover or something. It fits well now, and as far as clothing that spans seasons I can see wearing it with tights and a red pullover. 
I do remember purchasing this vintage handbag. 

This year I'm making an effort to wear all my Halloween items, starting with this vintage BSK brooch. 
How about some more Laura Ashley? This dress is also from the 80s, Much easier to wear than a romper.

Easier to wear so long as I don't bend forward! Next time I might wear something beneath it. 

And the silly pose action shot that shows my vintage French handbag. 

I went to the post office to send some international letters today, and thought I'd buy Christmas stamps to get a head start on sending out my cards. Our postal service announced they will be slowing down deliveries, so I thought it made sense to do things early. Despite the advice to mail early, they didn't have any holiday stamps in yet. I told the gentleman at the desk to just grab a book of something else. He looked pained. 
"We have hundreds of different stamps"
I told him to just reach in the drawer and pull something at random. This made him appear even more pained but when his hand emerged with a sheet of stamps bearing images of lighthouses of the Mid Atlantic States, I told him it was perfect. I don't know what he was so afraid of. It isn't like we have "Salute to White Supremacy" stamps or anything to worry about. Yet.  

I went to Hallmark for the cards. 
Last summer I lost a friend to cancer that had worked as a designer at Hallmark in Kansas City before getting sick and moving back home to spend the time she had left with family. It was her dream job, and she was so, so good at it. I thought it was going to be difficult setting foot in a Hallmark shop so soon, but it wasn't. I didn't cry either. I wandered around looking at all the designs made by all the other people working for the company who probably considered it their dream job as well. Strangely, it felt like a way of saying goodbye that wasn't sad. Who wouldn't want to be remembered by a Hallmark shop? There are literally, no bad feelings in a Hallmark shop. Even the condolence cards are tastefully comforting. I'm glad I went. 

The cards should be going out soon so they can arrive at any point from Halloween to Easter. 

Excuse the lack of food styling as I tell you about this chicken recipe. 

The recipe was in last weekend's Guardian and you may find it HERE.
It is a West African recipe with just the best combination of spices. I don't buy coconut aminos because we prefer soy sauce (they're similar) so I substituted that. Otherwise, the rest of the spices like cumin, cayenne, thyme, sage, paprika, garlic, and dried onion are pantry staples for us. I served it with a marinated salad of cucumber and sweet bell peppers. The baked beans are a no-sugar-added version that the boys found acceptable. British baked beans are much sweeter than the American version, but ours have a smoked flavour that can be overwhelming. British beans also have more tomato where ours have more paprika. Heinz has all sorts of flavours now from curry to peri peri but the traditional American style bean is very BBQ.

Anyway, they loved the chicken. That's good because I was shopping at an odd time when I more or less had the store to myself and bought some just marked down packages of chicken drumsticks for what came out to be about 20 cents a piece. These are very large drumsticks too. I came home, broke down the packages into smaller units and wrapped them for the freezer. I definitely won't need to buy chicken for a while, but it was a fantastic bargain for organically fed, humanely raised chickens. 

This was a slow cooker beef stew that made use of 1 lb of inexpensive top round. Instead of white potatoes I used a sweet potato, and instead of peas I used green beans. Served it with homemade sourdough rye bread. This sort of meal is filling but won't spike blood sugar for the diabetic. It won't win any beauty contests, but they liked it. I have an intense dislike for beef stew, even prior to becoming a vegetarian. My mother made it often, and badly. I'm sorry, that's the truth. She'd make a great quantity as well so we'd be eating the mushy tomato juice logged vegetables and beef for days. I know she was trying but it was so awful. I wish I could go back in time and show her how to brown the beef first, and leave adding the potatoes for the last half hour. It wouldn't have made it good, but it might have been less bad. In hindsight, I probably should have just taken over cooking for her earlier (I did towards the end). 

It was bothering me that Mr. ETB wouldn't have a Christmas Cake this year so I went looking and found a recipe that is suitable for a diabetic. I made a few changes (soaked the fruit in brandy, used lemon zest and skipped the orange juice, added more nuts (pecans and walnuts) but kept the amounts the same. It baked up nicely. I gave it a good soak with extra brandy and wrapped it to store. Obviously it isn't going to be the same (and I won't be icing it) but come Christmas it will be nice to have something resembling normal. Being dairy free it works for Danny too. 

 The skirt in this photo was thrifted new with tags showing it originally sold for nearly $200.00. What a shame to spend that sort of money on something that never gets worn. 
The skirt fit me perfectly (a rarity these days) and has both a built-in slip and crinoline. 
It wasn't too cumbersome in the car, and I more or less forgot about it as the day went on. I'm not accustomed to skirts that stand so far from my body, but I was pleased with this one. 
I wore it with a Shifty Shirt from Shiftythrifting.com 
I made several people laugh today which is worth the price of the shirt. They do have some utterly bonkers shirts. Like most of their items, the shirt was inspired by one found in a thrift store. 
The bag is a vintage Angela Frascone. She made some very cool bags in the 80s.

I have another one with an autumn fruit theme-should probably wear it soon. 

Finally, I'll close this post with a y2K era jersey dress that I couldn't resist for a dollar. It is incredibly comfortable, if a bit loud. That's OK, I like loud. 
Silly poses? Sure! Here's my hands...

Here's my mangled spine...well never mind that...

...one last thing...have a fantastic week. I'll see you next time.