Friday, February 28, 2014

Poached Cod With Cherry and Wine Sauce

This was Danny's weekly home economics recipe The recipe is based on the one in Alan Davidson's excellent book, Seafood.
I provided minimal assistance, with tasks such as carrying a large pot of poaching liquid from the stove. Otherwise, this is pretty much the work of a nine year old. He stayed within budget, and the fish monger kindly gave him extra-nice cuts of cod at the sale price for the thin, frozen fillets. That was kind, and we promised to bring him the recipe next week.

You Will Need:

1 1/2 pounds of cod in thick fillets
Milk for poaching
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup unsweetened cherry puree ( we blitzed some frozen cherries in the processor)
1 cup fish stock or water (we used a bit of Worcestershire in water)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 whole cloves\Pinch cinnamon
2 teaspoons potato flour dissolved in a bit of water (in the US this is called," Potato Starch")
1 cup red wine (we used port)

Poach the fillets in milk until done (about 7-10 minutes at a simmer ought to do it, but take care to keep the poach gentle or the fish will fall apart). Remove to a plate, and keep warm in the oven at low temperature. Meanwhile, in a large pan, melt the butter, and stir in the puree. Add the fish stock, the sugar, cloves, cinnamon, and dissolved potato flour. Bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer until thickened-about 15 minutes. Next, pour in the red wine, and bring it almost to the boil. Drain the poached fish, then pour the sauce over.

We served this with cous cous, though the recipe suggested boiled potatoes. We also reduced it a bit after the wine went in, to burn off some of the alcohol. That is optional, but it also makes for a thicker sauce to pour over the cous cous.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

1970's Russ Jacket


According to the label, it isn't Russ, it is Rrrrrrrrrrruss. So there.

I salvaged this jacket from a last-chance rack at a thrift store for something like .50 cents. It was in terrible condition, but the beauty of all those 70's polyester double knits is their durability. They clean up perfectly with some hot water, and strong soap. I was a bit worried the mildew smell might remain, but it didn't, and with no visible stains, I figured this beauty would be ready to last another 40 years with someone to love it. I really do love it.
Crazy lapels? Check. Strange colour combination? Check. Long enough to cover my gigantic behind? Yes, yes, and yes! What's not to love?
That there is some 70's suburban housewife chic.
Don't forget a pair of wedge heeled shoes.
And a suede bag. That wasn't even optional. You moved to suburbia, and they were like, "Here's your gin and tonic, and oh, have a suede bag." At least that's how I remember it.

Outfit Particulars:

Russ Polyester 70's jacket-Thrifted
Red cashmere polo neck-Marshall Field's, 90's
Red polyester double knit skirt-thrifted
Purse-Marshall's, 90's
Cloisonné beads-Mum's
Cloisonné earrings, Thrift America
Blue snood-ancient, bought it in the 80's
Rose pin-thrifted

 It was so cold today, I had to remove the earrings as my lobes felt in danger of frostbite! I blame the wind, as it was only about 5 degrees F. which is bad, but not "remove your earrings" bad. The week ahead isn't looking much better. On the positive side, polyester is quite warm, and I have a couple new (to me) suits waiting for a wear.

Keep warm out there!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Dear Vintage Blogging Hive Mind...

...I need advice.

I have a 1957 white eyelet, Suzy Perette formal dress that has yellowed badly over time. The fabric is stiff, but in good condition. I could wear it yellowed, for a kind of look, but I'd really like to restore it to white. I don't however wish to ruin it.

Any thoughts? A good soaking in the tub with some Oxy booster might do it, but I'd be interested in hearing what all you vintage experts have to say.

Thank you in advance, because I know you guys will know what to do.

Honey Bear Farm-What People From Illinois Did at the Weekend in the 60's and 70's

Hello, I'm a 1970's country kitsch measuring cup holder. I've lived with Goody for quite some time now, but I was born in the gift shop at Honey Bear Farm resort, in Powers Lake, Wisconsin.

Goody has asked me to go ahead and tell this story because obviously, I was there and because I'm a wooden mouse. You don't get wooden mice telling stories on the Internet every day. Bonus? I'm vintage. I have a twin sister who sits atop a music box, who will get her own post someday. Why mice? I guess people got sick of owls and mushrooms, so mice were the obvious next in line. I'm hand crafted you know, not some cheap crap. Everyone says I look stunning for my age. The magic is what's in my tiny little spoon. It wouldn't help you, the mouse elixir.

Honey Bear Farm was bought by the company that owned Carson Pirie Scott around the time that Goody's dad was a food distributor at their restaurants. This worked out great for her dad who had an excuse to spend more time in Wisconsin making deliveries, and less time at home. I mean, I'm a wooden mouse, and even I can see the logic in that. Those people! Oh dear.

Still, at the weekend Goody's family, like so many other FIB's ("Fucking Illinois Bastards") would head North because there wasn't anything to do in tiny, little, provincial Chicago. A couple hours in the car works wonders for families, particularly if you can wedge the asthmatic youngest child between a couple cigarette smokers, one doused in Chanel 19 and the other in Azure, and a father puffing a cigar. With the windows up. On the Saturday ride up, and during the Met season, opera on the radio. Eventually though, they'd arrive in Wisconsin, stopping at the state line to stock up on cheap cigarettes, and lottery tickets.

By the time they'd arrive, Goody would be sufficiently carsick to have lost her appetite, but determined enough to suffer the consequences for a stack of pancakes, maple syrup, and flavoured boiled sugar sweets from the gift shop. Those were great. After the gift shop shut down for the evening, the wooden mice, the Honey Bear knick-knacks, and finger puppets would go raid the stand by the register with 25 different flavoured sticks of candy. I always went for the green apple myself. Most mice have a sweet tooth, but I do enjoy a sour lemon drop or apple stick now and then. The honey bear was predictable (and a bit of a dullard at that). I never liked him, with his blue and white stripped dungarees, huge ears, and "Aw shucks" demeanour.  Anyway, he'd get the honey flavoured ones *obvious*, and some fool would eat a bunch of watermelon sticks and the place would stink all night. Anyway, Goody was partial to butterscotch (she still is...I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be saying this, but sometimes she makes butterscotch sauce, and never uses it on anything but just eats it from the jar. I probably shouldn't be telling you this either, but sometimes she eats Golden Syrup when she hasn't made any porridge). She's gonna kill me for this. Right, so after the ride up, the kid needed some sugar to bring her round to a proper person again.

Where I lived, in the gift shop, we sold all sorts of great items. Parents would sometimes deposit their children there so they could go for a walk in peace, or go over to the lake and pretend they didn't have children at all. Sooner or later though, someone would come collect them, and they'd leave with a t-shirt, toy, or for the really awkward child, a set of copper measuring cups dangling from a wooden mouse. I might as well tell you (since I'm already in the doghouse over the last paragraph) that Goody once managed to steal a menu from the restaurant, and still has it packed away in a box of her childhood belongings. He mother was known to swipe tableware, and sometimes good napkins, but only from the really nice places. Honey Bear Farm would have been beneath her. Goody has a set of napkins from the Walnut Room at Marshall Field's that would likely fetch a good price on Ebay if she were inclined to sell them.

Given that her dad was supplying the place with some food products each week, he was on pretty good terms with the management and employees. That typically translated into the kids being given stuff, so that when Goody went through a phase where she was into trying different varieties of tea (before you grow up and settle into your brand) the gift shop manager would often send her dad back to Illinois with interesting tins of exotic teas. Or jelly candies, that would melt in the truck on the way back home, into a solid mass of psychedelic coloured candy (which was the best). In other words, they were nice to the girls, which took some effort because as children go, they were kind of sullen. Really, you'd think all that sugar would perk 'em up a bit, but those girls behaved like cracking a smile would kill them. Oh, they'd be polite enough, but asking for cheerful was more than they were able to muster.

One winter weekend, their dad took the girls up to Honey Bear Farm to make some sort of emergency delivery (try getting someone to come out on a Sunday to make a delivery in this day and age). It was a freezing cold day-sub zero, wind, the sort of thing Wisconsin is known for (besides cheese, and football). The manager of the resort was European. Everyone called him the "Swiss Hillbilly" but I don't think he was really Swiss. Or a hillbilly. For the life of me, I can't remember his name, but he was a large man, you certainly noticed him coming into the gift shop. We were kind of afraid of him, to be honest-like he was going to conduct an audit of the candy, and find out what we'd been up to. He wasn't the sort of person you'd want to argue with.

Remember, this was a sub-zero day. The girls were in the gift shop as their dad made his delivery, when they were informed that the manager had arranged a sleigh ride for them around the farm. It was a large resort. A large, windswept, freezing resort with a sleigh being hitched up to horses at that very moment so they could pile in, go for a ride and...I don't know what. Play out scenes from Doctor Zhivago?

"Jah", he said (okay, he probably said something that sounded like, "jah" but I'm a wooden mouse what do I know? I'm not being ethnocentric, he had a strong accent) "Ve can go see the lake, and you can have a gut time!"

Well, those sullen girls became quite animated, wouldn't you know at the suggestion they ride a sleigh in sub zero weather. I wouldn't say any feet were stamped in protest, but they made it quite clear they were not going. This lead to being called, "soft, and pampered", and probably seemed rude given the sleigh and horses were already hitched and ready. Now, Goody will say it was sensible, but I'm telling this story and I will tell you she was wrong. It would have been the polite thing to do, and it very well could have cost her father a valuable account had it been taken as rudeness rather than weakness. Fortunately, no business dealings were lost, but they were never invited back to the resort, and after that family weekend outings tended to be more mundane. There were still cigarettes, cigars, opera, and too much perfume, but without the promise of pancakes and candy at the end.

By the 80's, the place had closed, and Goody's dad was working almost entirely in Wisconsin with more deliveries than one person should have been doing (leaving at 5 am and coming home at 9 pm or later). Almost overnight, everyone forgot about Honey Bear Farm, and I was packed away in the cellar in favour of new, plastic measuring cups that stacked neatly in a drawer until Goody moved to Boston, and started using me again. Then, she too bought new measuring cups, so back in a box I went through a couple more moves until I was unearthed this last summer, and recycled into a bracelet holder.
Now, I get to make mischief in the dressing room, though the only candy available to me are those Tic Tac things she's so partial to these days. I'd kill for a green apple candy stick. Sometimes I shit on her dresser, but being a wooden mouse, it just looks like the old finish on the wood is chipping. She's not that bright, you know. As I'm not getting invited back for a future post (Come on, we all know she's going to shove me in a cupboard for another decade for spilling the beans about her habits) I'd like to say that although I was intended to be used as a measuring cup holder, I do a pretty good job with bracelets. You should look around your house for items that aren't being used to their full potential-you never know how we can be recycled. Besides, your 70's kitsch gets lonely. Been ages since I had a macramé owl hoot at me in the street. Bring us out, enjoy us again, but for heaven's sake, keep that terrible bear away from me.

I still think something isn't quite right about that bear! Don't turn your back on that one.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Vintage Gloves, and Some Storage Ideas

Last week, I kept finding great gloves, some still in the original packets. I've never found gloves a natural accessory for my outfits, but I do wear them from time to time, particularly in the winter when my hands are in rough condition. Hat and gloves, seems correct but alone each feels a bit out of place to me. That look still lingered a bit when I was a child, but really only amongst the church lady types. Most of my mother's hats and gloves became items for my "dress-up" play. No, not playing with my dress, up. You people!

Yellow seemed like a practical colour, so I brought them home to live in the "handbag of gloves".
Yes, this is how I store my gloves. Rolling them up seems like it would cause stress to the fragile material, and I don't have drawer space to spare-so an old wicker bag has been forced into service as a glove holder. Since we are on the subject of storage...
I found this lovely old brass hand towel rack for a dollar. I wasn't sure if bracelets and necklaces would slide off, but it seemed worth a try. They stay put quite nicely. I do have a standing armoire for my jewelry, but I keep the less used stuff stashed in it. I like to have my costume baubles within easy reach, in case I have a costume bauble emergency. I don't want to be searching for my triple strand green Coro beads in a panic, so I find it best to keep them on the dresser. Why take chances? Why indeed?
I've yet to come up with a better way to store bangles than baskets and plastic lingerie boxes. Yes, I like Tic Tacs, those boxes are scattered all over the house. My breath...friends, it ain't nothin' nice. I brush, and floss-I swear I do.
Finally, have you ever used one of these tiered over-the door hangers? They're wonderful. It will hold about a dozen hangers. I use it for skirt hangers that hold four skirts each. That's a lot of skirts hanging off the back of a door no one sees most of the time. I keep the door open during the day, so if you are seeing it, you're obviously in my bedroom at night, in which case the only thing you had better be looking at is me. Extra storage-woo hoo!

Defunct Department Stores-Chas A. Stevens

Going through the racks at Thrift America today, I came across an interesting, older suit jacket. Taking it off the hanger to examine closer, I noticed the familiar Stevens label that was once sewn in much of my clothing. I adored Stevens, and when they went out of business in the 80's, it was personally devastating. Sure, I liked Marshall Field's, but if I was headed to State Street, it was to shop at Stevens. I couldn't afford much at Field's.

I didn't bother trying the jacket on-for .99 cents it was coming home with me, and if it won't fit, I'll keep it anyway as a reminder of my youth. Some people remember places, and events by what happened, or where they dined, or the company they had-I remember events and places by what I was wearing. In detail. I don't think that is normal, but it is my normal. So it was, I recalled wearing a black, floor length jersey dress that snapped down the front to do a bit of underage drinking at a somewhat exclusive nightclub I had no business being in. Never mind it was all rather dull once we were in as we were expecting a disco, and got a jazz trio instead. And a piano player between sets. And the drinks were expensive. But we got into a club on Rush Street, and I credit my Chas. A. Stevens dress.

I went on my first date in a purple velour dress from Stevens. My first day of grade four I wore a red plaid trouser and waistcoat set with a white, cowl neck sweater from Stevens. I bought my first navy blue, "interview" suit at Stevens when it was time to look for work. I bought a dark green wool coat that my mother hated, and tried to convince me to get rid of...well, you know where it came from. Those four inch pumps with the faux fur sides that I ruined walking through un-cleared snow that fell whilst we were at a party in someone's basement in Andersonville-those came from Stevens as well. So much of my early life came with that Stevens label attached. So much of my teenage life was spent at parties in people's basements (and in warmer weather, garages) on North side of Chicago. But never mind that kids, the point is that standing there in Thrift America, more than 500 miles from Chicago, I found a bit of evidence that the life I remember living really did exist. In this age of, "it didn't happen if it isn't on the Internet", there was something reassuring in that silly little jacket from Stevens.
The jacket looks very 80's to me, maybe a relic from the last days of the department store?

Don't stare at it too long, you'll get a headache.


Wearing trousers, and rocking a pair of old-lady Daniel Green slippers!

"You're wearing pants", Mr. ETB noted as I came downstairs.
"Well of course I am, what sort of a..."
"Oh, yeah. Well I'm going for a root canal this afternoon."
"Well what if I pass out, or die in the chair and my skirt gets twisted? I don't want some pervert having a quick peek at my fanny."

Perfectly rational, no?

Alas, the appointment had to be rescheduled for tomorrow morning, so I'll need to drag yet another pair of trousers (er, pants) out of hibernation in the far reaches of the wardrobe. I really don't wear them often.


" Ma? If you die at the endodontist, how much should I sell your Dior hat for?"

Funny, the root canal is the least of my worries at this point, but I guess to a child it sounds scariest. I swear, he's already counting the money, that one.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Mixing in the Modern

All the clothing components of my outfit today are modern items, yet the overall look has a vintage quality to it.
The skirt was a thrift store find, but I recognised the label as one sold at a modern box store. The cardigan is Abercrombie. The boots are K-Mart. Still, put together, it does have an older feel to it.

Don't be so quick to dismiss something that may not be true vintage. Some pieces can be right at home among your authentic pieces.
 Add some accessories, and complete the look.
Maybe try out a new shade of eyeshadow.
And a knowing smirk that your outfit cost under a tenner.
And if anyone doesn't like it? Well, you know what they can do.

Happy Monday.

Miss Dior Pillbox Hat

The hat is navy blue velvet, with purple beads, lace and netting. It is maddeningly difficult to photograph.
I can't begin to describe how beautiful it is in person. This is far and away the nicest hat I've owned.

I bought it at a steal of a price, with the intention of selling it. I don't think I will be selling it. On the other hand, it is a little too nice to wear. It is a dilemma, I tell you!
When I went to pay for it, the young woman at the register seemed shocked it was a hat.
"Oh, I wondered what that thing was", she told me. I'm not sure what else she could have imagined it to be, but I'm glad no one bothered to do a check of Ebay before pricing it.

Anyway, I can't wait to wear it out, once the weather improves.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

1970's Apricot Bridesmaid Dress

I don't know about you, but full length, polyester, bridesmaid dresses will always have a place in my wardrobe. I have the identical dress in avocado. I could have had a third dress from the same collection, but it was too small, and had spaghetti straps (must have been a younger bridesmaid). I would give anything to see photos of the wedding party. Anyone from Omaha recognise this dress?
Look at the details! I adore eyelet, and floral trim.

Unfortunately, it is still winter, so I had to cover up all the great details with a jacket. We stopped by the library, and took advantage of their red wall in the lobby. I never thought of colour-coordinating my posts with libraries, but I might be on to something.

Outfit Particulars:

1970's bridesmaid dress
Marty Gutmacher 1970's jacket-Thrift World, Millard
1960's handbag-Goodwill
1970's shoes-thrifted
Wooden necklace-Goodwill
Headband-Tiff and Tam

On the way home today, Mr. ETB suggested we stop by a thrift store I rarely go to. I'm glad he did, I came home with a velvet and lace Dior pillbox hat that was in pristine condition. It must have lived in a hatbox for the last 50 years, because even the netting looked like new, and that's typically the first thing to go, even in storage. I will be featuring it in a post soon. I seem to find the best stuff when I least feel like looking.


What about you? Do you find the thrifting gods are more favourable when you're not trying?


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Too Lolita?

Yesterday, I was reading Curtise's blog where she wondered if her pinafore was, "Too Lolita." I can assure you, it is not-my mother would never have worn a pinafore! Yes, her name really was Lolita, and no, she wasn't amused when the book was published, though mercifully she was already out of school by that time. Anyway, it does tickle me to hear my mother's name being used that way.  It did however cross my mind that perhaps this dress was too short, and schoolgirl-ish when I selected it today. I don't think my mother would have worn this either.
The knit coat is granny enough to balance it off, I think.

I had to wear flats to keep the dress from being indecent. I've had these Chucks since High School.
I demonstrated how you try out hiking boots at the sporting goods store for Danny. Nah, I wasn't buying hiking boots, I just wanted to act like a fool in public. I excel at that.

Outfit Particulars:

1960's hand-sewn dress
Chuck Taylor high tops-vintage
Gold 60's handbag-Goodwill
Butterfly pin-Thrifted
1970's knit coat-Thrift World, Millard

At the moment I have all sorts of unpleasant medical (and dental, I mean WTF, at the same time?!) going on, and I really just wanted to get out, and have a bit of distraction from myself. A sporting goods store is a great place to do that-you can ask the teenage employees if the tents are, "Bear-proof" and try not to laugh as they try to seriously answer your question whilst assuring you that bears will only bother you if, "provoked" (Which is a fucking lie-just Google, "bear attack", or "a bear chewed my head" and you'll see plenty of people that didn't provoke bears) but that no tent, can be "bear-proof." When you get tired of that, you can point to the door that says it is, "alarmed" and ask what frightened it? Good fun, and completely free if you can resist buying anything.

We hit a couple thrift stores as well, and I came home with three pair of really pretty gloves, a beaded eyeglass case from the 40's, and some other small items. The kid who was working the register kept looking at what I was buying and saying, "Far out man", and "Whoa, those are really freaky fer sure." He looked about 16. I didn't know people still said, "far out." I'm not sure they do.

This weekend we have Soylent Green to watch for family movie night. I wanted to do a double feature with Omega Man, but the library didn't have it. I may need to go on line and buy it.

Hope your weekend is bear-free.

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

Oops. Then. there was this one...
Gosh, I wonder what frightened the door?
Sometimes the employees just need a good cry, I guess.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Loser Keeps Bieber

I laughed so hard at this, I scared Danny.

Updated: Oh well, being a good neighbor means sometimes you have to babysit the neighbour's bratty kid.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Our Home Library

Looks OK from that side...

Not terrible on that side either (save for the drying rack). Yes, that is a "penguin on the telly." hope he doesn't explode.

 This is where I make a confession of sorts, like giving you a glimpse into my dark secrets (if I had any) or the knowledge that my underwear is held together with safety pins. This is the second room of the library...
Oh dear. We moved here in July, and I had every intention of getting these books sorted, and into taller bookshelves. Wait, it gets worse...
Obviously, I can't find anything in those stacks (the books I need for homeschooling were carefully set aside when I packed. Thank god I had enough sense to do that). You can get through there, there's a walkway, and the paths are clear, it just isn't even close to being organised in a useful way.
 I know where the cookery books are, so that's a start. I keep them next to the pantry (obvious).
 I'm afraid the situation isn't much better upstairs, though the bulk of the books are all downstairs now.

Our small bookcases formed a double sided nook in the last house, but it won't work with the layout here. The plan is floor to ceiling bookcases in the second half of the basement, but I'm getting impatient. I don't want to buy inferior bookcases that aren't intended to hold books (books are heavy, you know?) so I may need to wait a bit longer for what I want. I have found it easier to send the kid looking for books in the stacks as he's smaller, has better eyesight, and a knack for identifying books by shape.
Chaos, but the somewhat organised variety. Everything else is neatly unpacked and dealt with, it is just this one room...and it is driving me out of my haus frau head. I like things in their place. This is...not. I don't even have a "junk drawer" for fuck's sake.

Let's see how the plants are overwintering in the sunny window, that will take my mind off the books.
Danny's terrarium is doing well. I'm afraid the parsley plant behind it is dead.
The Admiral looks good, though he has yet to bloom, or bear fruit.  I use the lime leaves in curries though, and to bake fish. It needs a serious pruning.
Apollo II is doing well. The first laurel tree (Apollo I) bit the dust, so I replaced him at the Lancaster County plant sale last spring. So far, so good.

You would think having all this sunshine pouring into our downstairs room would encourage me to spend a bit of time getting the books better sorted. I love having a walk-out basement, and the space for laundry, a pantry, and plants is terrific. I just can't deal with the other room. Like a teenager's bedroom, I close the dividing door and pretend it does not exist, except it does. Perhaps if I put it in writing here, I will feel obligated to deal with it, so here goes-Spring break, I will organise the second room of the library.

All right you guys, hold me to it!