Thursday, April 30, 2015

New (to me) Shoes

 Oh, would you look at that-summer shoes. I found them at Goodwill, brand new, and only $3.99 It was good timing as my favourite summer shoes were all in need of some repairs. I dropped three pair at the local cobbler to have heels replaced, and this time I had shoe-savers affixed as well. My vintage Naturalizers and Gaymodes are already half a century old, so if I intend to keep wearing them (I do) they should be given every possible treatment to preserve them. Yes, it is an investment, but money well spent as far as I'm concerned.

These shoes are also Naturalizer, but I doubt they'll last fifty+ years. I think these are recent (90's maybe?) and the quality is OK, but not what it used to be. I like the straw wedge heel, and the shiny vinyl upper that goes with just about everything. One thing I will say about Naturalizer is that they've always stayed true to their reputation as a comfort shoe. These won't give me blisters, and the sizes fit true.
...and they look so great with the visible toes gussets of my nan-tights! If the searches that bring people to my blog are any indication, there's a fetish for" fatties in American tan tights." Hey, who am I to judge?

 The dress may look familiar, but I've never worn it on blog. I have a very similar colour/print mini-dress. You may have noticed I tend to buy duplicates of things I like, or that are just ever-so-slightly different. I've always been that way, which explains why I own brown wool skirts in every imaginable length. Sooner or later, they wear out, and I like having back-up clothes that I know work for me. And, I'm a slob, so the odds of something being ruined by spilling a glass of wine on it are rather good.

See what I mean? What's more, I have two wrap skirts also in the same pattern, one green, one blue. Eh, summer is a tough season for print variety (that's my excuse).

I baked another pie today, in pursuit of a blue ribbon at the fair this summer. I'm calling this one, "Mrs. N's Tears" as it is filled with blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries.

5 cups mixed berries
1/4 cup quick cooking tapioca
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter
2-crust pastry recipe (mine is all butter)

Combine the berries, tapioca, sugar and lemon juice in a bowl. Let stand 15 minutes. Pour into lined pie tin, dot with butter, and cover with second crust. I brush my crusts with double cream and then sprinkle it generously with coarse sugar. Cut vents. Bake (on a sheet because it will drip) about 50 minutes in a 400 degree F. oven.

Guaranteed to make the pie-baking competition weep.

Outfit Particulars:
Issac Mizrahi for Target dress (about 12 years ago)
Vintage Janice Brendt cardigan-Hand-Me-Ups
Vintage stranded necklace-Salvation Army
Naturalizer shoes-Goodwill
Enid Collins bag-Antique Mall
Lucite Bangles-Goodwill
Giant purple ring-K Mart

"Oi fatty, get yer legs out!"

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A Million Ways to BEE You Know That There Are

We started noticing a worker bee lingering around the pot of sage on my herb cart in the garden. The bee was uninterested in any of the blooming flowers nearby, or even the herbs themselves preferring to stay near the drainage hole at the bottom of the container. I assumed it was thirsty, and was able to extract water from the roots of the plant, but after a bit we noticed the bee would visit whether or not I had watered.
Curious to see what would happen, I moved the pot. The bee continued to visit the cart acting confused, and remaining where the pot had been. I felt bad about that, so I replaced the sage, the bee returned, and all was well.
Fine. I have birds, a squirrel, and a fern caterpillar in a jar that has formed a chrysalis-why not add a bee to the wildlife discovery centre that my home has become? Really, I'm not kidding. I have moss samples in terrariums, rainwater samples for the microscope, more rocks than the geology department at the local University, plants to attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and as we've just discovered, bees. I should charge admission.
She's a worker bee (you can tell by the shape of her body, and the fact that she has a stinger-drones do not). We haven't seen any others, just this solitary bee buzzing at the sage plant's roots. Bees have a short life cycle, and by the time they are out foraging for pollen and water to bring back to the hive, their lives are nearly done. We watched her fly off over the row houses across the street towards the park, each time she would depart out garden. Between twelve and fifteen minutes later, she was back  until the early evening when her visits stopped. By mid-morning, she had returned and was happily drinking from the planter again.
Obviously, if I must have a bee taking up residence in my herb garden, I'd prefer she do some pollinating work. Thus far she appears to be drinking and leaving. She is however, a well-tempered bee that keeps clear of us, even flying off when I'm watering the plants (Wish I could say the same for the wasps). I don't expect she has more than a few weeks left, but it will be interesting to observe her activities in the meantime. We took a quick walk around the block looking for a hive, but didn't notice anything obvious-it would be quite small at this point. At first I was concerned she might be tunneling in the plant as some bees do in the ground, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

The colour in this photo is accurate-she has a sort of rust tinge to her body. Danny's spent several hours total observing her work, and though he's still phobic when it comes to stinging insects, he seems to have made peace with this particular bee-at least from the safety of the opposite side of the screen door. I don't see beekeeping in his future, but I'm pleased that he has the patience to sit quietly and observe for long stretches. I wouldn't have done that at ten.

When my dad was alive, he worked as a food distributor of mostly pickled products. Being a cheapskate thrifty, he never bothered to get air conditioning in his truck, preferring to drive with the windows down. In the summer, this could be a problem, particularly if he was delivering barrels of sweet pickles, or cauliflower relish. More than once, he would return to the truck after making a delivery to find it swarming with bees. Once, after making the mistake of parking it near a flowering tree, he had hundreds of bees buzzing about the barrels trying to get at the sweet brine. Not the sort of person to let a swarm of bees disrupt his schedule, he lowered the windows and then headed out on the road, bees blowing from the windows. I only remember him being stung twice in all those years. My dad would insist that the bees weren't interested in him, and therefore there was nothing to worry about. I'm hoping his theory was correct, because I now have a bee living in a pot of sage near my front door.

Do be a good bee.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Ma Griffe by, Carven-Review

My introduction to Carven's, Ma Griffe was in the fragrance department of a long-gone department store in Chicago. I was shopping with my sister, and being annoying I'm sure, she sent me off to the perfumes to try the testers so she could shop in peace.

Green is my favourite colour, and I was drawn to the Carven display with the bright green and white stripes. Too young to know better, I picked up the bottle on the counter and gave myself a good misting. I can't remember for certain, but I wouldn't be shocked to learn I still had the bottle in hand when I realised the full consequence of what I had done-it was that immediate. It was the longest ride home in my sister's (green) '74 Dodge Dart, and as I recall a good scrubbing down with hot water and Dial soap was no match for the stubborn aldehydes of Ma Griffe. Talon? Good god, it was like being impaled.

I'd like to say that was the last time I was seduced by green packaging on a fragrance but I'd be lying (though I have managed to avoid the bath soap, Irish Spring fearful I'd end up attracting a whistling fella in a hand-knit sweater*). Still, forty years on from my introduction to Ma Griffe, I'd managed to keep my distance, save for catching the occasional whiff of it on someone riding the bus. Over the years it fell out of popularity, and I forgot about it. Enter, the Internet.

Of course I should have resisted. Curious if my nose had matured, or perhaps the fragrance had matured, or I'd finally learned not to spray a toxic green cloud around myself-I ordered it. A small sample, in all the vintage green glory that is Ma Griffe.

"Was that you?"


"You know what."

                                              "Oh that, no."

"What then?"

                           "Must be the Ma Griffe."


Why, do I never trust my younger self's nose? I don't like to cook with asofoteida, why on earth would I want to wear it? Blech. Still, to be fair I wanted to live with it a while instead of rushing to the shower-besides, I no longer use Dial soap, and lavender scented Yardley would only compound the issue. So I waited, thankful for the small dab.

An hour later, Ma Griffe is still pretty green, but something's happening! Something good. 

Ah, I hit the oakmoss, orris root, and lily of the valley. Better, Still really fucking green though. Whoa, I think we've got vetiver! And lemon. Wait...musk? I remember that Ma Griffe was developed by a perfumer late in his career when he was already anosmic, and it starts making sense. 

Just when I think it will never end, the base comes through with some sandalwood to keep me from losing my mind, which is saying quite a bit as I'm not much a fan of sandalwood. 

What's that birdie? My handkerchief? Oh god! I left it in my purse! I'm Soooo sorry birdie. So very sorry. 

 Phew, I'd better air the skirt out as well.

Outfit Particulars:
70's Carefree Fashions of Scottsdale Arizona skirt-Thrift World
Tee-K Mart
Knit Bolero-Goodwill
Shoes-K Mart
Enid Collins bag-Antique Mall
Bamboo bangles-Hand-Me-Ups
Milk Glass earrings-Hand-Me-Ups
White plastic necklaces-Can't remember
Fragrance-Ma Griffe by, Carven

After five hours, Ma Griffe was still going strong, and though less intense, it is still far too sharp for my delicate little nose. I know it is a modern classic, and I really am trying to appreciate it, but jeez. I love a good oakmoss/vetiver/orris root combination, but this isn't it. My younger self was wise beyond her years. I probably will give it a few more tries (in very small doses) to try and understand Ma Griffe, if I cannot love it. Beware the seduction of cheerfully packaged perfume in pretty bottles-you may end up with something worse than a whistling fella in a hand knit sweater.

Asafoetida. I mean, for fuck's sake-in a perfume?

What about you? Have you encountered Ma Griffe and lived to tell? Do you enjoy it? I promise, I won't judge (though I might not ride in a car with you).

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Caftan Sunday-and a Visit to Lincoln

After such a long, busy weekend, it was nice to be back home, in a caftan, and relaxing in the garden. Not pictured-the tray of plants inside the house from the Spring Affair plant sale in Lincoln. I *might* have splurged. A bit. The butterflies and hummingbirds had better appreciate it-that's all I'm saying.
This caftan came home with me from a thrift store about thirty five years ago. It has a large hole in the hem that needs mending, it has been shrunk, faded, attended more concerts than I care to recall, and still makes me feel great when I wear it. Not much more you can ask of an item of clothing. 

Caftan (ish) dress-A thrift store on Southport Ave. in Chicago 35(ish) years ago. All I remember was that it was near the Music Box Theatre. I'm sure the store is long-gone. I was so pleased to have found such a nice 60's relic for little more than pocket change. I bought a set of beaded curtains at the same shop, but have no idea what happened to those. 

 The plant sale was great. The crowd was well-behaved, the plants plentiful, and the weather rainy but otherwise cooperative.
Aebelskivers. I'm sure I spelled that wrong. They're just buttermilk pancakes made in a funny Danish pan. Anyway, that was breakfast. 
When in Lincoln...stop at Ben Franklin for plastic rain bonnets and sewing supplies. 
 I told Danny if he keeps it up with the silly faces in photos, I'm going to make him go all the way back, and re-take the photo. It was a long drive, I don't think he's up for that.

As Ben Franklin store are disappearing, we thought it best to take photos by the sign...just in case. 

Outfit Particulars:
Leather Jacket (bought early 80's)
Earrings-K Mart
Fragrance-Courreges in Blue

It should not be cold enough for a heavy motorcycle jacket, but it is. Sigh.

 Finally, the sun came out! It still isn't warm, but I'll take it.
Mr. ETB thought the combination of blue and orange was too much. Obviously, I disagree. 
 Before you congratulate me for finally polishing the toenails, I must confess that I used quick-dry polish, and only on the toes you can see. I already had my shoes on, and well-I'm lazy. I'll get the other toes tomorrow. Sometimes I only shave one leg at a time. I can't be the only one that does this.
 Outfit Particulars:
1960's polyester dress-Thrift World
Footless lace tights-Target (I think)
Necklaces-Thrift World
Scarf-The One and Only Fabulous Curtise
Shoes-K Mart
Belt-Came with a dress
Jacket-Came with belt and dress-New Life Thrift
Vintage handbag-Goodwill
Earrings-K Mart
Fragrance-Eau du Givenchy (Liked it, obviously couldn't detect any jasmine in there, but it is listed in the notes. This was a generous sample gifted me by a vintage dealer. I'll get to work on a review, limited as it will be as I'm missing the main note).
 Too early for a white handbag? I don't know either.
I hope everyone has a great week.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Lookin' Good...for Jesus?!

 Well there's a tote bag I won't be seeing everywhere.  "Be worthy, be noticed."
And really, who wouldn't want to enhance their holiness with a king sized tote?

A quick Google search confirmed my suspicion that this wasn't serious. I still can't decide if it is funny or offensive. Maybe I hang around too many Catholic Workers, but the "Shop 'till you drop" seems a bit over-the-top.
For a more practical bag, there's this beauty I bought at the Salvation Army in Lincoln a few weeks ago. It was a bit musty, so I sprayed a hankie with White Shoulders, and stuffed it inside. Now it just smells of old it should. There, problem solved.

 If the jacket looks familiar it is because I own two identical Ultra Suede jackets by the same designer in different colours.
What can I say? When I find something I like, I stick with it!
I took Danny to a play at the library done by a travelling "troupe" of two actors. It was well-done, and the children all seemed to enjoy it. Afterward, we went to the book sale, and found all sorts of books we didn't know we needed. We ran into Mr. ETB and a co-worker on their lunch break buying books. Then, we ran into just about everyone else I know. All the cool people hang out at the library, don't you know?
Swollen feet, nan tights,  and chipped nail varnish-I am positively embracing middle age.

Outfit Particulars:

Koret of California skirt-Goodwill
Laura Ashley shell-Hand-Me-Ups
Ultra Suede jacket-Goodwill
Vintage Naturalizer shoes-Thrift World
Pink lucite bangle-Goodwill
Vintage Gaymode handbag-Salvation Army
1960's stranded peal-esque beads-Salvation Army
Flower-Tiff and Tam
Fragrance-White Shoulders in my purse, Guet Apens on my person

 The new seed feeder is attracting finches. "Good, she bought the already shelled seeds-all that crunching was wearing on my beak."
And the grackles just adore my baking. That tiny bit of cake disappeared fast. "Oh man, this cake is da bomb. She should enter this in the fair-it would win a blue ribbon!"
 My daily walk up the park shows something new flowering every day.
 ...and Blondin is still paying us regular visits for his gingerbread biscuits.
 "Hey, go stand under the flowering tree for a quick photo before you start sneezing."
It didn't take long. Poor kid, he knows the time has come for allergy jabs, but he's still clinging to the hope he'll outgrow it. This was taken on the campus of Methodist College, a nursing school. We were bombarded by the smell of flowering trees, but then suddenly passed a classroom building and caught a strong whiff of bleach (or chlorine) followed by the smell of toast. I have no idea what they're teaching those kids over there.
Goodnight, Moon.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A 100 ft. Roll of Art Paper and a Caro-Nan Purse

Danny built a bird feeder, and needed some acrylic paint to finish it, so off we went to our favourite art supply store, Dick Blick. I'm as hopeless faced with art supplies as I am with stationary. There was no possible way we'd leave with, "just paint."

When I was in second grade, we had a school store that sold supplies before class. Coloured pencils, tins of watercolours, drawing paper-it was all too much temptation for me. The 50 cents I was expected to spend on lunch more often than not went to cray-pas pastels, or India ink. Believe me, the money was better spent on art supplies than the cold macaroni cheese and tinned green beans they had on offer. Eventually, some well-meaning teacher discovered I didn't have anything to eat, rang my mother and complained that children need to eat, I was busted, but my love for the smell of a fresh packet of crayons and Manila paper never did subside. With that in mind, you'll understand why I was compelled to purchase a 100 ft. roll of art paper. Imagine the potential! Kept in the car with a set of markers I have instant banner making tools, should the opportunity/need arise. Brought to the park, it can be a group activity. Oh, the world is a better place for 100 ft. rolls of art paper.

Speaking of things you can do with art supplies, here is my recently purchased Caro-Nan purse. Carolyn and Nancy made purses in the 60's and 70's and sold them to boutiques across the country featuring local landmarks. Mine is an Omaha purse made for Virgie's Town and Country, a long-gone boutique.

 I wore it for the first time today, and it really *did* make me happy carrying it.
 The lining is still in nice condition.
 I'm glad to have this purse, as my child was born in Omaha, and it will always be a special place if for no other reason.
Creighton and UNO are universities.

 Outfit Particulars:

Linen printed skirt-Hand-Me-Ups
Peach top-Goodwill
1970's Samuel Robert Ultra Suede jacket-Goodwill
Necklace/earrings-K Mart
Bakelite bangles-all over
 Vintage Naturalizer Shoes-Thrift World
Flower-Tiff and Tam
Caro-Nan purse-Brass Armadillo Antique Mall
Fragrance-L'Air du Temps

This Saturday is the Spring Affair plant sale in Lincoln, NE to benefit the statewide Arboretum. Info Here It is a wonderful sale, and if you're a local (or want to make the drive) it is worth attending. The good stuff sells out fast, so get an early start if you plan on attending. The lines will look frightfully long, but they move along quickly thanks to a dedicated team of volunteers that work the sale year after year. A quick look at the list of plants for sale will blow your mind. Really, it will. Or perhaps my mind is easily blown. Whatever. If  you're planning to attend, drop me an email and maybe we can plan on meeting up. A trip to Ruby Begonia's vintage clothing might be in the works as well.