Saturday, August 28, 2021



The Nebraska State Fair began yesterday but unfortunately I won't be able to attend this year (ye olde land 'o the unvaxed out there) but that doesn't mean I can't wear my State Fair attire at home in the city. Like all the best clothing this one has a good story.

Years ago (and by years I mean like over 20) we took a trip to Abilene, Kansas because I wanted to visit the Eisenhower library. We've since been back with Danny, and if you ever find yourself in Kansas looking for something interesting to do, I highly recommend a visit. Back when went the first time around the city wasn't as geared up for tourists as it is now, and the antique shops were more along the lines of junk shops with prices that reflected the quality of merchandise. The store where I found this dress was notable for being not dirty in a filth/grime sort of way, but undusted/tidied in a way that reflected generations of meaning to "get around to cleaning". I find that completely relatable now, but back then when I still had youthful ideas about housekeeping standards, I was horrified. I would have turned and left, but my husband found himself trapped in conversation with what I'd best describe as an, "Interesting elderly local." Accepting that we'd be there for a while I decided to have a look around whilst trying to avoid breathing more than absolutely necessary. 

Ever been in a store where there's a hand painted sign with an arrow indicating "More Upstairs/Downstairs"? Sometimes that's great. Back when Avenue Victor Hugo Bookshop was in Boston (since moved to New Hampshire I hear) they had a gloriously un-sorted upstairs where I found the most wonderful books I didn't know I needed. Sometimes, it was in the Basement like the old Watertown Books. This was Kansas, not Massachusetts, but having swung back around to check on Mr. ETB listening to the story of someone that stole the topper off a bottle thirty years prior and the woman sighing, "The Lord says we have to forgive..." I was resigned to not getting out of the place anytime soon. I went upstairs. 

"Upstairs" wasn't another floor, but a dark, unfinished attic space where a ghost wouldn't have been the worst thing I might have seen. Before retreating, I spotted some clothes strewn over an old desk. Of course I found a gingham dress in Kansas, you couldn't get more Kansan. It was in good shape, just a little-okay, very dusty. There was another dress, a black brocade with a matching bolero and I took that one as well. They were unpriced, but I knew it couldn't be much, certainly not by Boston standards. 

I can't remember how much they were, but it wasn't much and buying something did actually distract the woman at the till from Mr. ETB long enough to give us a reason to pay and escape. I sometimes wonder if I hadn't bought the dress how much longer we'd have been there. We might still be there! 

The dresses both washed-up fine (that's cotton for you!) and are wardrobe favourites to this day. 

Someday, I will stick a fluffy crinoline beneath it. The dress is fully lined and is made by Lanz of Salzburg. It has a 1958 copyright on the label, but my understanding is that's the date of the label re-design and might be as late as 1960 when they changed the label again. So old, but not that old. It was likely still new-ish when it was abandoned in that attic.  

I don't have great photos of the second dress I bought that day, but here's some from 2013.

Pardon the toilet theme, I was buying a plunger that day. Mr. ETB asked me to pose with my purchase in the lot of the hardware store, so I did.
Much to the embarrassment of the eight year old Danny
You can almost see the decision to move abroad forming in his head at such a young age. 

Before I leave you, I'll give a few close-ups of the accessories from last week's wearing.
Reproduction mourning brooches from Museum of the Very Strange on Etsy. 
Unworn vintage shoes I thrifted. They gave me a blister but that's my fault for breaking them in without stockings. 
Vintage straw handbag I always forget to use. I used it twice this summer, so as far as I'm concerned that justifies owning it. I don't remember where the belt came from but it is quite old. 

So no State Fair for me this year, but here's hoping next year will be better. That gives me yet another year to work on my rhubarb pie recipe, so be warned-I'm going to be back gunning for a Best of Division ribbon in 2022. 
My blue-ribbon strawberry/rhubarb pie from 2017. I've improved since then. I lost the Best of Division rosette ribbon to an admittedly beautiful apple pie. 
See you next year, Nebraska State Fair

Be extra nice to the volunteers if you go-they're so dedicated and working under pretty terrible conditions between the weather and covid. 



Monday, August 23, 2021

Summer Breeze Makes Me Feel...Uncomfortable.

 More of a hot, humid breeze actually. Like standing over a pot of boiling water. But eh, that's August in the Midwest.

Hello friends. We've nearly made it through August which for us means, Back To School time. While I no longer need to purchase school supplies like crayons and glue, I did splash out and buy Danny some new shoes and athletic clothing. Not that he really requires them as their PE class consists of lifting weights and occasionally walking around the track. But he'll look cool doing nothing. He jokingly said he wanted an Adidas track suit so he could look like a Russian YouTuber. Ultimately he ended up with Fila. JC Penny's had a mega sale which I was grateful for. I can get most of my clothing at a thrift store, but it is a bit trickier for menswear. Anyway, he's happy, I'm happy, and he doesn't look like he's about to abandon a stolen car on a railroad track (have you seen these crazy Russian videos?!).  

The bright colourful backdrop is my temporary bedroom window covering. My blinds broke. I have a replacement, but haven't got around to putting them up because that would require getting out a drill and well...yeah. I'll get to it eventually. The fabric is a very silky polyester I bought to make a caftan and much like replacing my blinds...yeah. I swear this isn't a pattern with me, just a coincidence. I'm usually rather good with chores. Anyway, I like how it looks when the light is coming through as it almost has the feel of a stained glass window. I might make proper curtains once the blinds go up. Well...yeah, I wouldn't hold your breath. 

Since moving the full length mirror in the bedroom I find it a pleasant spot to take selfies. It does require that I make my bed as I can't easily crop it out, but I make it most days anyway. Now that Danny's back in school I've been making his as well because I think it is nice to get into a made bed at night. I only do the linen once a week though. I haven't completely lost my mind.
I have my index finger strategically placed on my phone concealing my telephone number. Yep, I put my telephone number on the back of my phone. Look kids, my brain is full. I don't have space for learning a telephone number I almost never use. Pathetic? I don't know, but I do know that I have pretty much zero shame these days. 
Back to the carton of forgotten clothing for this pair of y2k era boot cut jeans from the Gap. They're massively uncomfortable thanks to the complete absence of  stretch material, but they also look better than jeans with stretch material. Such a quandary. Since the surgery I really haven't been able to tolerate things pressing on my abdomen, so these jeans might need to go back in the carton until I'm better healed. 
But before I go I'm obligated to flash my behind at you because why else wear a pair of jeans? 
This is more my style. I bought this dress back in the early 90s though it was made from a vintage 50s tablecloth. I wore it quite a lot in the years I lived in Boston, and thought of it now and then but assumed I'd given it away. I'm so very glad I didn't get rid of it. It is a little shorter than I'd wear these days but with summer clothing I think it is acceptable without looking silly. 
I was joking on Instagram that it gives off the vibe of a waitress that would dump soup in your lap! Whoops!
The rattan bag has a cotton lining with a drawstring. That solves the biggest issue I have with these types of basket handbags. I'm happy I was able to use the bag this summer. That giant orange plastic bracelet is in two pieces held together with magnets. I'm not sure why there was a fad for magnetic jewelry in the 70s (earrings were popular too) but I find quite a lot of it in thrift shops. I wouldn't have guessed I could manage to pinch my skin in it but I did! Left quite the impressive bruise as well. So be warned. 
We've had some storms again, but nothing like the flash floods we experienced earlier in the month. So far the roof repair seems to be holding. 
I made it back from my walk just as the first raindrops were falling. I take my walks around the college campus next door. Four laps around equals a mile and I don't need to worry about random idiots on the street as the school has a security guard that makes rounds visibly in a golf cart. The world keeps getting stranger, so I stick close to home when I can. Never did make it over to the pool this year, but I guess there's still a bit of time until it closes at Labour Day. 

The "Dog Days" cicadas have been singing.  These aren't the ones you read about in the news that only emerge after 17 years. I've noticed quite a few cicada killer wasps around, so I hope this one made it away safely. They're beautiful insects. 
Still trying to make meals that satisfy everyone's tastes. I made a batch of sugarless plum sauce and was looking for something to do with it. The tofu turned out nicely. I have to try brushing it on chicken before baking-it would probably be amazing. Ginger and plum is such a lovely combination. Right now the Italian prune plums are hitting our stores, and it is a very short season. I might need to get out the canner and make a few more jars. 
I have a bumper crop of basil this year, so expect to see it artfully scattered across everything. 
More plums being used in savoury dishes. This time I've "artfully" strewn the dish with coriander. Clearly I missed my calling as a food stylist. 
Finally, a homemade Salisbury Steak, which is more or less a meatloaf with mushrooms and onions. To someone my age that grew up eating the Swanson frozen dinner Salisbury Steak this seems a little on the fancy side. 
It was money from Swanson's frozen food empire that built my Omaha neighbourhood (and our library) so I can't say anything negative about it. I always enjoyed a TV dinner as a kid because it was something my mother couldn't ruin-not without considerable effort anyway. 
This dress is a recent purchase when I found myself killing some time at Ross Dress For Less waiting for World Market to open next door. I don't buy much new aside from undergarments, but I liked the style and the lightweight printed mesh fabric. It was an absolute bargain and looks to be well made. With some gentle care it ought to last better than most modern clothing. I had the perfect handbag to go with it.

I can imagine this as an all-seasons dress with the addition of tights and a cardigan. I think it was $15.00 well spent. I did eventually make it to World Market for tea. I resent paying almost $10.00 a box for PG Tips. I understand imports are more expensive now, and there's a pandemic, etc. etc. but it also feels a bit extreme as a box of Yorkshire Gold is only $6.00. So I bought a box to try. 

If you didn't already know I'm stupid-well, helooooo. I brewed up a cup of the Yorkshire gold and thought it looked sort of weak-so I left the bag in for something like eight minutes and then gave the bag a healthy squeeze just to extract a bit more. I grumbled about it being watery and weak, drank it down and then went about my business for a few minutes until the caffeine hit my bloodstream. Well that was a surprise. *Slaps forehead* you can't judge the strength of Gold Blend by comparing it to the colour of PG Tips black tea. Oh. Well that's fine-I'll take whatever little jolts of energy I can get these days. I've never smoked meth but I imagine it is probably a lot like leaving a tea bag to steep for eight minutes. No? Well the house was very tidy after that caffeine hit, that much I'll say. I really can't handle drugs caffeine. 
I never knew I needed a pair of yellow shorts until these came into my life. Off the dollar rack at the thrift store, they're now in regular rotation in my wardrobe-I'm wearing them now as I type. Two side pockets and two back pockets make them perfect for doing chores or just running out with my keys and phone. Yellow and grey is such a pleasing colour combination that I think I'll have a look through as I unpack next season's clothing to see what I have in those colours. 
This was an extremely lucky find, though I'm honestly not in love with Arpege but I will give it another try. I was wearing an N95 mask with a surgical mask over it so there was no way to smell it at the store. For $3.99 I took a chance. Smelled it when I got home-it smells like Arpege. Maybe this is a perfume I needed to age into. We'll see. I don't want to try it until the heat breaks. 
The pricing at Goodwill is silly. This they practically gave away when they wanted an obscene $40.00 for a bottle of Ralph Lauren Polo. I suppose the randomness is what keeps thrifting exciting. 
"Quick, make a face like a jack-o-lantern!"
How's that for unexpected and random? Oh good. I like to think I'm still full of surprises. 
Finally, I have this modern Vera Neuman print dress. It is too big, and not very well made, but the print is so adorable.
Good opportunity to wear my tiny fish brooches.

The colours are just so good!
The fabric creases easily-another strike against it. I even pulled out the steamer before putting it on. It is a shame, but sometimes even the best print can't make up for poor quality. I'll give it some time to consider having it altered, but I'm likely to just get rid of it. I'm ruthless these days. 
That's about all from here. I'm hoping to get my third dose of vaccine this week (I'm on medications that suppress my immune system) and try to keep as cool as possible while Omaha bakes in the late summer sun. I hope you stay safe, well, and take some time to listen to the singing of cicadas. Take care. 




Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Almost Cut My Hair

Were it up to me, it would be Halloween year round. For someone that more or less has been dressing strange her entire life, you wouldn't think the holiday would be all that appealing, but that's where holiday-specific clothing comes in. I succumbed to this hoodie partly because it was made of a super-soft material, but mostly because of the black cats,. I don't plan to pack it away after Halloween. My skin is so dry and rough, anything that feels good next to it is welcome. 
We had a few cool days where it was possible to wear trousers without wanting to die, but we've since been plunged right back into the heat. Before that happened, I put together an outfit on the assumption that both camouflage and animal prints function as wardrobe neutrals. I must say, I was delighted with how it came together. Don't worry-I haven't joined the army. I'm certain they wouldn't have me even at the most desperate. 

 In my mind I could probably throw someone across a room, but in actual hand-to-hand fighting I'd likely lose. Maybe. It would depend how angry I was and how many cups of tea I'd had that morning. I still regret not punching the neo nazi at the Cheese Castle. 

Getting the last few wears in for the white accessories before autumn. I don't subscribe to the rule of not wearing white after labour day, but realistically, by September I want to wear more autumnal shades even if the weather is still blazing hot. Most years it stays warm here into October. 

Dan went to school for the first time this year today for his ID photo, picking up materials, etc. They have the first full day on Wednesday. My husband's office is planning to return in the middle of September but with cases rising so quickly now, I suspect they'll keep working remotely. They're data people-no one really needs to be in the office though I understand why they would want to be. Hell, I want him to go back. I'm looking forward to the possibility of cleaning without having to work around one or both of them. Anyway, Dan was excited and he has a busy year of AP (Advanced Placement) classes and extracurricular activities. He interned this summer with NOISE a local media outlet and will probably continue working with them during the year. He's also starting his third year on the school paper.

The driving school didn't go well last summer, so I'm not pushing him to go for a test. When he's ready, he'll do it. Not everyone is suited to driving. That means I'm doing the school run again this year, but I don't mind. Having a reason to get up, dressed, and out the door is good for me, especially after spending the better part of last year at home. I just found out I qualify for a third dose of vaccine because I am taking medications that suppress my immune system. That's welcome news. I'm still wearing N95 masks when out in public, and I don't really give (as the American saying goes) "A rat's ass" whether anyone likes it or not. 
The carton of forgotten clothes from Dan's room is still yielding interesting items. I remember buying this dress in the early 2000s, shortly after moving to Nebraska. September will be twenty years that we've been here. Twelve of those years were spent on a farm in rural Nebraska which is a different experience to living in Omaha. I'm very happy in the city, but I don't know that I would have wanted to go through a pandemic surrounded by people that don't accept science as real. We have those types in the city too, just not in such great numbers.
But good dress, right? The strapless bra could be better. I just bought it a month ago and it is already too big. This is getting to be such a damn pain in the behind (well, actually the esophagus and guts but yeah) but eventually it will get straightened out. I really hope I don't need a hospital anytime soon because they're filled up again with covid patients. Bloody fools. Plenty of vaccines and masks that the rest of the world is forced to do without and we're...sigh. I live next door to a medical college and this week the students are all back on campus. I admire their determination because after seeing that much illness and death only to be faced with people insisting it isn't real-I couldn't do it. Our state has stopped reporting the cases from across the state because they think by denying it maybe it will just go away?! Douglas County (where I live) still posts a daily tally of cases on the health department website with details about whether people were vaccinated, age, etc. It makes it hard for schools and businesses to do the right thing for safety if they don't have any actual data to look at. Argh. I really hope I don't get sick enough to need the hospital again. 
Sorry about the rant-here, have some cake. 

Cooking for both Mr. ETB's and Danny's dietary restrictions has been challenging, but I came up with a cake that was sugar free and low carb for Mr. ETB and dairy free for Danny. I don't have much experience baking with almond flour but the few things I've made have been well received. There are good quality sugar replacements today that taste like sugar and won't spike blood glucose levels. Lily's is a brand of sugar free chocolate that he enjoys and says he would eat whether he needed suagrless or not. That's good to know. So far no one was had any intestinal effects from the artificial sweetener. The margarine is a vegan store-brand that seems to hold up nicely in baking. Sometimes I just use vegetable shortening. Anyway, this was successful (Obviously I didn't try it) and they both enjoyed having a bit of a treat. It was really bothering me because I'm a good baker and I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. I've also experimented with coconut flour, which seems promising. Oat milk and coconut milk make acceptable replacements for cream in most cases. It does feel a bit like learning to cook all over again, but we're getting there. I don't typically bake much in the summer anyway. 

Mirror selfies like the kids do? Sure, why not? Should probably dust the mirror though.
It was late in the day and the skirt creased a bit. This is another vintage Lily Pulitzer from the 60s. It really isn't my usual kind of thing but in the heat of summer they're comfortable to wear. 

I'm a little embarrassed to admit this dress had been in my mending pile since the last time I wore it in August of 2017. Here's how I wore it then-pretty much the same.
The dress is by Mexican designer Paco Silva who made resort wear in the 80s. 
The dress is made from the loveliest, heavyweight linen and sequins are sewn on well and don't shed. That's always a surprise. The print is a subtle pink colour that doesn't scream, but gets the message across. Now that I've made the very small five minute repair of mending a seam, I hope to wear it a bit more often. A dress like this will easily stretch into autumn and work again in spring. I don't remember where I found it, but if I had to guess I'd say Hand Me Ups as it is nicer than the typical Goodwill piece. 

Before I dance off, I'll show you my latest idea of a hairstyle-the 90s staple, the Claw Clip. I mean, if I was wearing scunchiers it was only a matter of time before I embraced the claw. My hair is very thin, but I found some good ones that don't slip through my hair. What's next I wonder, an Alice band perhaps? Time will tell. In honour of David Crosby turning 80 (!!!) I almost cut my hair the other day, but I didn't and now I'm gonna let my freak flag fly (in a plastic claw clip). Who the hell ever thought David Crosby would make it to 80?