Thursday, January 20, 2022

I Wanna Be Jackie Onassis, I Want to Wear a Pair of Dark Sunglasses

Thanks everyone for letting me get all of that out of my system in my last post. I try to keep this space focused on clothes, cooking, etc. but given the current situation I'm glad to know you'll forgive a frustrated rant now and then. 

There's nothing here you haven't seen before, but it is hard to go wrong with a good skirt and blouse. This one was always a little snug on me, and I tended to wear it open but that's currently not an issue. Most clothes can be made to fit a range of sizes, you just have to wear them differently. 
It was a bit chill in the house and rather than reach for the usual cardigan, out came this lined leather vest. It is surprisingly warm. 
oooh looking tough😀

Would have been good with a black leather skirt as well. I need to give that a try. 

Everything in this outfit was thrifted, including the Brighton belt. It is oh so heavy, but I do love it. Belts are just for photos these days as they tend to stab me under the ribcage the minute I sit down. Sort of like being Heimlich'd . I'm over sharing, huh? 

I thought about steaming or ironing that wrinkle across my corduroy skirt, but didn't guessing it would either fall out naturally or get worse as the day wore on. Neither happened with it remaining more or less the same all day, but I stand by my decision to leave it alone. Life is too short for ironing corduroy FFS.
This pair of new, old stock Snowland Boots from the 70s haven't been outside yet. I wear my black pair all winter, but I'm hesitant to take these pristine boots out in the salt and sand and snow. I'm sure I will eventually, but I've been saying that for a few winters now. House boots can be a thing. Isn't that what Uggs are supposed to be (before people started wearing them out)?

Another of my 80s cashmeres from Marshall Field's. I will never regret buying them. The cashmere for sale now is such poor quality even if the prices remain high. These are two-ply knits. 
Is a beige belt the world's ugliest, useful thing? After trying every brown and yellow belt in the closet, beige was the winner. It gets the job done. Just.

Everything except the yellow poloneck and the locket necklace are thrifted. I accidentally shrunk the beige sweater a few years ago. It was nice wool and I kept it thinking I would find someone it would fit-just didn't expect it to be me. I'm sure that won't be forever. In an effort to make myself feel better I've started giving my weight in stones when required. It sounds less upsetting to me likely because as everyone knows, Americans aren't very good at maths (too much multiplication to do quickly in the head) 😃." Seven stones, yeah whatever". It just sounds less depressing. Because I'm American. And bad at maths. Anyway, my shrunken sweaters fit for the moment.

My love of Ultrasuede is well established here.
What's not to love? Launderable, always looks great, timeless.
And those old labels are just the best.
Lilli Ann is a sought after designer now, but the Ultrasuede pieces don't seem to be as desirable.  That means they can still be had at bargain prices. I have other Lilli Ann pieces from the more collectible era which I am planning to show soon. Meanwhile, it really is hard to go wrong with a classic tailored blazer in brown.

A cashmere that wasn't from Marshall Field's? It is true! This one dates from the 80s and is from Lands End. It is also two ply, and beautifully made. Land's End used to have a lifetime Guarantee on their items, but I never needed to take them up on the offer-after close to forty years it is still perfect.  
This velvet skirt was something I bought in the 90s but I am pretty sure it is a 70s piece. The wool socks were purchased years ago when we still had a K Mart. Never guessed the socks would outlive the store. I miss K Mart, they were good for essentials like underwear and stockings. They were fantastic for children's clothing too. Oh well, times and tastes change I guess. The belt is a thrifted Michael Kors that had a bunch of branded logo crap hanging off it. I removed that as I just wanted the belt. It also lightened it up considerably. This belt is worn low enough that it doesn't make me feel like I'm being injured. 

And you thought MLM marketing scheme Longaberger only made baskets. Or they did, I guess the original company is no more though the name and brand have been re-launched. I thrifted one of the baskets and it holds some bangle bracelets, but I mean, it is just a basket. I don't understand the fanaticism people have for them. 
The handbag is nicer than any of the baskets I've seen. It set me back a couple of bucks and I'm happy to have it. 
Contrast lining is always a plus. It is a very nice bag. 

Pardon the terrible photos, it was that kind of a day.
I don't think the Mexican tourist jacket from the 50s has ever been worn with the Paganne skirt from the 70s but I like them together. I wasn't going anywhere, but if I had someplace to go this would be a nice outfit.
The embroidery is beautiful and oh so hard to photograph. 

The skirt began life as a maxi dress before someone with more ambition than skill (Not I) took scissors and sewing machine to it, badly. I've thought about trying to fix it, especially as it now needs to be safety pinned in the waist for me to wear it, but there's better uses of my time. I've accepted it will always be a damaged yet still wearable piece. I do wish people would at least think about what they're doing before cutting. I don't sew well-you'd never see me cutting up designer vintage. I know my limitations.

The cotton sweater was a recent purchase and isn't it a feel-good colour?! 

This beautiful brooch was a bit of a mystery. I'd tried searching out the markings but couldn't find much. After mentioning it in Instagram, Mim of Crinolinerobot came to the rescue and identified it as Premier Designs a company that was around from the mid-80s to 2020. It is one of the more striking brooches in my collection. 

This necklace is a Camrose-Kross JBK piece and wow, is it ever nicely made. You can read a bit more about the Jackie Kennedy collection at the link, and it is fascinating. I didn't know what it was when I bought it (I'm indifferent to the late Jackie O, but I understand her appeal) but for fans of that era, these are very good pieces. 
Here's a better photo (not mine)

I saved the best for last. Or my favourite anyway.

I'm willing to itch a little for vintage mohair. I'm not allergic to it, just annoyed by it. If I got rid of everything that annoyed me...let's not go there.

Some baubles from the Victorian to modern era
In the lower right are my monogramed button covers.

Aren't they beautiful?
Ow, my brains!

And there's the button covers in action. No makeup except lipstick which we've already established does just fine. The blouse is by 70s/80s brand Lucky Winner. Well, that sure sounds optimistic but I'll go with it. Couldn't hurt. 

I'm going to leave you with one of the best bands to come out of Boston in the 80s doing their Jackie O tribute:
See you later


Friday, January 14, 2022

You Look Like a Real Human Being But You Don't Have a Mind of Your Own

Hello from Omaha, where it was 53 degrees F yesterday, and today we are expecting ice and 6 inches of snow. At least it doesn't get dull. I was surprised to find sorrel alive in the garden. This is not normal for a Nebraska winter.

I don't typically see sorrel emerge until late March. The flies are emerging as well, though they're not going to enjoy what's coming at them. I took some time to have tea in the garden (in January. In Nebraska) because I could, and because there isn't much else to do. I filled a bag of dead leaves that I didn't need for mulching, and swept the patio in front of the house. Tempted as I was to wash the windows, I resisted as I just did that a month ago, and we're having a snowstorm. And I'm tired. I have to pace myself with the futile chores. 
It looks tidy enough. With a southern exposure, the front of the house gets afternoon sun which does help some of the plants overwinter that wouldn't otherwise. I haven't planted anything to emerge in spring. I thought about it, then decided to sit this one out. We'll see how things go.

Mr. ETB had a birthday, so there was a cake. I needed it to be dairy-free for Danny and sugar-free/low carb for Mr. ETB. That was solved by using a combination of almond flour and cocoa powder for the grain part, and vegan margarine and oat milk for the non-diary. I used a sugar-free raspberry fruit spread between the layers, and swerve sugar replacement as needed .This wasn't a very sweet cake, but then chocolate cakes don't really need to be. Maybe for small children, but at 61 I don't think he qualifies as a small child. So that was that. They both enjoyed it and I am slowly figuring out ways to bake that accommodate everyone's diets and is still palatable. The cocoa was Hershey's Special Dark powder and they aren't exaggerating. Look how dark that colour is. Not every grocery store carries it, but it is worth grabbing a box when you see it (usually around holidays). I have a box of Droste in the cupboard, but that's more for making hot cocoa than baking. No reason why, other than my grandmother used it to make us hot cocoa, so I do. I wonder if it was as expensive back then as it is now? She lived rather frugally but I can see her wanting to splash out on the grandchildren. That's what grandmothers do, I suppose. The Hershey's cocoa is domestic and obviously a lot less expensive. Hershey's chocolates are generally disgusting (They are. Fight me) but the cocoa quality has remained good. We'll see how long that lasts. 

Now that you've had some cake, the bad news...

Things are not going very well in Nebraska. I understand if you don't want to read about this, and come here for food and fashion. I absolutely will NOT be offended if you scroll ahead, click away, or do whatever feels right to you. I get it. Listening to others complain when you're trying to stay positive isn't helpful, so heads-up if anger barely disguised with some sarcasm isn't your thing. I understand. 

 I derive no satisfaction from stating, "I told you so", but we've now really mired ourselves in the shit. We're averaging about 1800 confirmed cases of covid a day for the last couple of weeks (people who test at home aren't obligated to report so it is likely much higher). The testing sites are breaking under the pressure of people wanting tests and the four hour wait Mr. ETB had last week? Double that now. They've finally, finally, finally gone to appointment only. That should help, but of course, there are no appointments to be had, and people will be recovered before the testing becomes available. At home tests? Forget it, there are none unless you want to pay hundreds of dollars online. To use an American expression, it is a shitshow. The British expression, Omnishambles works here too. Whatever you call it, it is a mess and there's no help from the state on the way. You're probably thinking the governor is on this problem and working day and night to find a fix. Yeah, I know you weren't really thinking that. So what's Pete been up to in the midst of the suffering and death all around? The State  is (I'm not making this up) suing a neighbouring state over water rights so we can build a recreational lake between our two largest cities. No reason-it isn't for flood control, or to operate as a reservoir No, they think it will bring tourism or something. I'm sure it has nothing to do with the governor's dad owning a religious resort right near there...but nah, that wouldn't have anything to do with it, no one's that transparent. That's fucking see-through. So we're going to steal Colorado's water to do it, or something like that. I don't know. Even the governor of Colorado was somewhat confused by what we actually want. We can't be trusted with that much water-we'll just dump toxic waste into it and poison it like the city of Mead. Oh, and taxes. The top taxpayers in the state need tax relief or something because they aren't feeling as rich as they used to (Pete's words bolded by me for emphasis). Everyone else? We can fuck off and die, and the sooner we do, the more ventilators will be available. It is getting grim. 

I knew the letter would be coming (it came in email, actually) from the medical center telling me not to count on getting any procedures done, and seeing doctors might be hit and miss. The medical center had to go to "Crisis Standards of Care" which is a less terrifying way of saying, "Rationing Care". They're putting beds in offices,  and drafting in medical students to deliver care as they're overwhelmed and falling sick themselves. Without any help from the State it isn't looking to get better soon. Oh, what's the State been doing, you ask? (Other than stealing water and trying to lower taxes for the rich?) Well, last week our health director in Douglas county did the job no one else had the courage to do,(HERO) and ordered a mask mandate for the county (mostly Omaha and some surrounding areas). NO ONE (not the mayor, city council, governor, HHS) was willing to do it, so our hero of a health director ordered it, and the governor promptly ordered the state attorney general to sue to stop it. Let that sink in. They're dying in droves, care is being rationed, people are dying of treatable illnesses (hello!) and they're going to sue to stop the one very minimal thing that might slow this down enough for the medical people to get ahold of things. But nah, "What about my freedom?!!" If they'd have just taken the bloody vaccine or maybe stayed home over Christmas none of this would be happening but instead Douglas county has a positivity rate of 30% (likely higher). I guess as long as you're free that's all that matters. Did I mention the neo-fascists getting themselves elected to school boards across the state? On and on and on. 
I'm not bitter. Do I sound bitter? OK well yeah, but I don't look utterly defeated and bitter do I? I washed my hair and I'm wearing lipstick. 
Update as I write: The governor issued a DHM (directed health measure) this morning at Nebraska Medicine telling them they can't do any non-emergency procedures since they went to Crisis Standards and made him look bad. The "looking bad" part wasn't in the DHM but that's the general idea.  The hospital responded with (I'm paraphrasing), "Yes, that's right. We can't do any elective procedures now. What was the point of the DHM other than to re-state what we already said? " In other words, "You can't quit, I fired you. Oh yeah, well I can too..."  God, you couldn't make this up if you tried. Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, lipstick. Lipstick is great. And we're all going to die, probably not from covid but from the policies enacted by these dumbheads (sorry, I've run out of charming insults and that's the best I could come up with. A Dummkopf if it sounds better in German). I feel like I'm trapped in a car with a drunk driver.

At first I thought the school issuing a snow day ahead of a storm was for safety (particularly as they're still smarting from the backlash last month letting children leave school as the tornado sirens were blaring). Nah, they just have so many teachers out sick with covid it was a convenient excuse. Monday is a holiday in the US, so they will have four days to rest up before heading back into the classrooms still sick. I'm sure the students are learning something from this experience, but it probably isn't on the approved lesson plans. Me thinks if you're trying to extoll the virtues of capitalism and American Exceptionalism (Nebraska state law dictates that we have to teach it in school) this isn't the best way to go about it. All I see is a generation of radicalised socialists organising unions. The "Great Resignation" wouldn't be happening if they hadn't been exploiting people in the first place. Imagine (sarcasm voice here) people that were on the front lines of the pandemic for two years doing the shittiest, most dangerous jobs for low pay don't want to die for their wealthy bosses! (exaggerated shocked voice and pearl clutching) how dare they? Where's their sense of responsibility?! What's next, demanding healthcare?! Maybe there's hope. I think this is what the Marxists call, "strengthening the contradictions" but I have to think if they aren't fully strengthened at this point...well, I won't say it. We already know it can keep getting worse. Anyway, best of luck to the young comrades. Meanwhile in Nebraska...

I'm personally angry, but that's only interesting to me, and the people that know me. Ultimately, I'm not important to anyone else, and that's true of everyone. Unless you do something really great (which at this late point I am unlikely to do, sorry) or something really terrible (god, I hope I don't) no one is going to remember you in a generation or two, something these fools would do well to consider. History will remember us collectively, and it isn't going to be favourable. Isn't this blog just a feeble attempt at, "Don't blame me! I didn't vote for them",  or to leave some sort of record that I wasn't taking horse medicine to treat covid? It was all going to hell around me but by god, I kept wearing lipstick? No one is going to care as the wildfires tear through town, or the cities are underwater, or the next disease kills what's left of us as people shake their heads in disbelief that in 2022 people were so incredibly ignorant, gullible, and violent. My lipstick, well, yeah.

 Looking through some ancestry stuff, Danny found the baptismal certificate*, and later immigration papers for my many times great grandmother in Konigsberg, (now Kaliningrad and no, I am NOT going to wade into that dispute) who around 1800 decided she'd had enough, and got on a boat to America with her husband and eldest child and settled in Iowa. To me, that's interesting! I'd like to know more (it was kind of surprising how much there is, to be honest) but ultimately that's only interesting to me, and a handful of descendants. In the larger story she helped to settle what is now the Quad Cities area. But as a person? No, a Prussian granny isn't all that important. 

I had a laugh and could tell a thing or two looking at the names of her siblings and cousins (Danny was wondering if those were typical Silesian names, so I looked and remembered my High School history classes)Wilhelm, Fredrich, Johan, Maria Theresa?! Okay, I think I understand what's going on there. The Royal Effect! Just like all the little girls named Diana born around 1980. That's interesting at a societal level and what it tells us, but individually? No. Just that they had aspirations and really, who doesn't? If we didn't maybe we wouldn't keep scrambling after the crumbs the upper classes toss us as we kill each other. They fear solidarity. If we fight over masks and vaccines maybe we won't look too closely at how they're more than happy to let us suffer and die. I'd like to think my life meant more than enabling someone to get richer and have more power, but I'm not deluded enough to believe it. I matter to the people that know me. To society at large, I'm going to be one more body bag in the cooler truck outside the overflowing county morgue. I'd hoped it wouldn't be quite so soon, but ah well, what can you do? It wasn't a proper declaration of war, but at some point Republicans just decided it would be acceptable, even profitable to let people die. Well, not everyone of course because someone has to fill those shitty low wage jobs. If we just made these bastards pay their taxes we could have a decent society but we've somehow convinced the most vulnerable that they don't want a decent society. See what a couple generations of de-funding public education gets you? Brainwashed? Brainwashed would be a compliment.

I'm sure the US seemed like a good gamble at one point, but those days are done.

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest!


If you are scrolling past the heavy stuff, the regular post resumes here:

Having nowhere to go hasn't stopped me getting dressed. Sure, it takes hours and I could probably find a better use for my time and energy but I'm entitled to some enjoyment in my life. That handbag is empty, but you probably already guessed that. 
There's a matching cardigan to the chenille vest, but wearing it over a poloneck 70s style appealed to me. It is quite warm for such a light, little thing. Something different is never a bad thing. Except, it is barely different. I know I wear a lot of brown. When I start matching my baking it is getting serious. I do own clothes in other colours.
These...are not those clothes in other colours. These are quite brown.
The skirt had a greenish tinge to it in the light, does that count? No, you're right. Brown it is.
I have a leather waistcoat in black as well. They're warm, and I find pockets useful as so many items of clothing don't have them. Almost like wearing an apron to protect my clothes and carry items around. But better looking. 

This was what can be legitimately described as a major cooking achievement. Or it was to me. I had just about a cup of onion soup leftover. No one wanted to eat it, but I spent more than two hours making it, and I didn't want to waste that small bit, so into this baked chicken dish the next day it went. It looks fancy, but it isn't. In the bottom of the baking dish I layered plum tomatoes cut in half. Atop that went some white beans, olives, herbs, and the leftover soup. I browned the chicken legs and then put them atop the pile of vegetables and baked it in a hot oven for an hour, basting now and then. 
Okay, the green plate isn't the most photogenic thing I own, but look at my beautiful chicken. I served it over farro, a grain the boys both seem to enjoy and it has a lower glycemic index for Mr. ETB. No waste, and all that hard work that went into the soup was put to use one more time. That made me very happy. 
I'm on the other end of worrying about glycemic indices. Non diabetic hypoglycemia is a pain, but I'm starting to understand the patterns and timing of mine. As much as I can, of course-it is still going to be unpredictable because it doesn't like the time of day, or how much I'm moving around, or how much our governor's idiocy is pissing me off  or stress, or the weather or just about anything. But I do see patterns, so now I know to eat a meal before bed (contrary to all diet advice ever, but I have to do it) so I don't go too low in my sleep. Mid-morning is also bad for me, so a bit more carbs with breakfast seems to smooth that over. I'm glad to have the app on my monitor as it alerts me to patterns and tracks things.  Anyway, that was a long way of saying these candies are utterly delightful. And they're cute which damn it, I'm entitled to something attractive to eat. It would take like four of these to bring up a low blood sugar, so they're no replacement for juice, but they also don't hurt as a mid-morning treat. I need to work on not ignoring the signs I'm getting low (headache, nausea, shakiness) before I'm so low that I can't get the juice open. I do get some warning, I'm just having to re-train myself to stop what I'm doing and take care of myself. Easier said than done. 
Look everyone, it isn't brown!
I can't believe it either. Both the skirt and sweater are items I purchased in the 80s. The jacket is a classic Pendleton 49er jacket which these days would be called a "shacket". Shirt/jacket. How clever, eh? Yeah, I didn't think so either, but that's capitalism for you. Anyway, mine dates from the 50s when it was just a jacket with buttons. 

The necklace was something I bought myself in the 90s when I was living in Boston. A little bit nicer than my usual costume pieces, this one has silver and garnets. As I recall it was on the verge of being what I considered too much money to spend on myself, but I can't remember what that was now. I've always been cautious with money when it came to buying unnecessary items. Knowing me it was probably something like fifty bucks, but when you're accustomed to thrift store prices retail can be a shocker. 
I used to favour long skirts in my 20s and 30swhen I wore much higher heels. Today, this is a bit longer than I like for a somewhat straight skirt, but a grey wool skirt isn't something I'd ever get rid of. It came from Talbot's. For people outside the US-Talbot's is a niche women's clothing store selling what is considered, "classic" clothing. It isn't trendy, but it also won't ever go out of style. One of the things I liked about the store (and this goes back to when they had the catalogue) they carried a wide range of sizes before that was common. Being 5 feet tall, there weren't many options for me outside of the children's department of most stores, which I did, but Talbot's felt slightly less embarrassing. The skirt is good quality, and was made to last, as it has.  The sweater was Country Shop from long defunct department store, Marshall Field's. Also made to last and still chugging along decades after I bought it. 

Managed a better photo of the shower curtain. I did indeed wosh my hairs and I am not stinky. Well, I may be a little stinky, generally speaking but that's not an unwashed stink but rather my own personal pong. Isn't that delightful? 
My shirt? I'm so glad you asked! It was a Shifty Thrifty fundraiser for a group that assists trans youth. The shirt is utterly amazing.
"You think you've felt true fear? You think you've felt actual pain?"

A little background-this is based off a crazy shirt someone found in a thrift shop and posted, but it was a rainbow Beanie Baby. This, this is a worm on a string and a tiny Beet Poot. It still makes no sense, but I am looking forward to wearing it to medical appointments along with my shirt that states, "I have a migraine and no context for this." I can't wear the "Inconvenience" one because it might hurt someone's feelings as they're all working double shifts to try and take care of everyone. But this shirt? To a neurology appointment? Perfection. 

Almost time for the annual Burn's Night Supper. I'll bet this person who was in front of me at the high-school pick-up is having a party. In normal times, I would have hopped out and invited them round to ours for a whisky. Obviously can't do that now.

This beautiful little necklace seems to defy being photographed. I don't know if it is the foil backing, or the glass that makes my camera give up, but I've yet to get a good snap of it. 
There's the reverse
Frustrating as it is to photograph, it is pleasant to wear at just the right length to avoid being in the way. It is heavy, but not unpleasantly so. 
As it seemed like a good day to appreciate underappreciated pieces, this little bracelet came out for a wear. Aren't the little charms by the clasp a nice extra touch? No makers marks or stampings. I think it is probably a 60s piece as I have others from the same era that are similar. I expected the raised stones to catch on clothing but they don't seem to be a problem. Maybe I would avoid wearing it with a very loose knit sweater. 

Anticipating a drop in temperature, I am wearing several layers including a heavy slip beneath the skirt. 
Heavy knit stockings might not be the sexiest thing (or they might be, hey I'm not here to judge your fetishes) but they're warm. I have several pair of these, purchased years ago on sale when a shop was going out of business. They've held up well, and being cotton can be darned as needed. There's a bit of elastic in them, but it has held up well. 

Jazz hands hand...

I've had the late 70s/early 80s skirt for years. The waist is easily adjusted with button extenders, or worn as-is like I did today. Here it is in November of 2019 worn with a heavy cashmere sweater under the cardigan
I was about 40 pounds healthier there, but the skirt still worked. I like clothing that can accommodate a range of sizes. I miss those specs! I'd forgotten those boots (makes mental note to wear them). November of 2019 was probably the last days of normalcy before the world found out about covid. On a brighter note, those plants are much larger today.
Here it comes. The first cars are getting stuck struggling up our street as they do each time it snows. I wish I could go to the bottom of the hill and put up a sign to warn people. "Abandon hope all ye that climb Burt Street" or something like that. 
So what did I make to feed the boys on a cold, snowy night? They're still eating in isolation (we wear masks when around each other) and it helps to make something that can be transported upstairs in a bowl. This is tofu, peppers, leeks, garlic, ginger, spinach, and carrots in a sauce of soy, broth, seasoned rice vinegar, sesame oil, and Gochujang paste. Served it over the chickpea "rice", and there weren't any leftovers. The tub of chili paste seemed like more than I'd ever use when purchased, but it turns out there's plenty of places to use it. I went easy and used 1 tablespoon to the entire dish, but the variety I bought was very spicy. Do check the container if you buy some as they vary. It lasts forever in the fridge (sort of like miso) so there's no hurry to use it up. 

Guess I'll just sneak on off to bed at 9 PM. Don't tell anyone I only got up at 11 AM. I got dressed and wore lipstick, so it wasn't a complete waste. Hopefully we'll have enough snow by morning to take Roland the Snowman's Head out for a whirl. like the last time. He enjoyed that so.

Alright, as my childhood housekeeper used to say, "I'll see you next time if the Good Lord is willing" but Ella Mae was a better woman than I am, so I'm gonna go with Don't Mourn, Organize.