Monday, September 19, 2016

Madison Avenue Monday: Pardon Me for Bragging

Couldn't help but share this unusual ad for Kotex in the August 1939 edition of Ladies Home Journal even though my poor ol' scanner wasn't quite wide enough to capture the entire image on the large format page. (The bottom caption reads "Better Say Kotex--Better for You"). It gives us a glimpse of the hair styles, make up, and clothing that was fashionable in the late 1930s. And we can really see how times have changed in comparing this to ads for the same product now!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Wife Dressing by Anne Fogarty: a Review

After months of languishing on my nightstand I've finally finished Wife Dressing: the Fine Art of Being a Well-Dressed Wife by Anne Fogarty.

Illustration by Renee Forsyth

It's okay to roll your eyes at the title but consider this: Wife Dressing was published in 1959 and was republished here in the U.S. in 2008 and in Britain in 2011. It's in print nearly sixty years later! There must be a reason for that, right? Although few people today would think of aiming fashion advice solely at married women, many of Anne's tips about fashion, travel, and entertaining are still applicable today. 

While some of her advice is dated given that it is the 21st century, Anne Fogarty was very liberated for her time as most married women with children did not work in the 1950s. Anne was a successful fashion designer for Saks Fifth Avenue when she wrote Wife Dressing. She is credited with developing the "Paper Doll Silhouette" (a full skirt over petticoats inspired by Dior's "New Look") and created a line of dresses sold at Lord & Taylor. She designed until 1980, the year of her death.

via Pinterest
via fuzzylizzie

via Pinterest
The short chapter "The Delicate Matter of Bargains" caught my attention this summer. July and August are typically huge sale seasons here and in Europe as retailers clear out their spring and summer stock to make room for new fall designs. It's a great time to shop for deals on basics and classic pieces that will stand the test of time even though you'll have to wade through plenty of trendy styles before finding those timeless pieces. And with so much interest these days in simple living, minimalism, and especially decluttering (Konmari, anyone?) this chapter was a great reminder that just because something is marked down it doesn't really mean it's a bargain. To Anne, a bargain is something that:

"I really adore, never tire of wearing; something that makes me feel good that has given me more than my money's worth in terms of fun and confidence and the pleasure of being dressed."

In concert with simple living principles and one of Marie Kondo's guiding questions "Does it spark joy?" are six questions Anne wants you to ask yourself the next time you find a bargain on one of your shopping trips:
  1. Is it something I really want?
  2. Is it in perfect condition?
  3. Is it the right size?
  4. Is it still in style?
  5. Does it fulfill a wardrobe need?
  6. Will it pay its own way as a member of my wardrobe,
    not just loll as a temporary guest in the back of the closet?
In Anne's words: 

"Each of your answers will give you a clue as to whether or not the bargain is really a bargain.
If it's not something you want, you'll keep making excuses to avoid wearing it--or wear it and wish you hadn't. However much you like it, if it doesn't fit in with your other clothes,
do yourself a favor and forget it."

The foundation of Anne's approach is common sense with a healthy dose of femininity on top. There is so much timeless advice in Wife Dressing that I recommend it to women, married or single, who wish to update their style.

I purchased a copy of Wife Dressing for my collection.. This post contains affiliate links to If you decide to make a purchase through my link, Amazon will pay me a tiny commission for it. This helps to keep the rest of my content free, so thank you!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Vintage Baby: a New Addition and a Free Pattern Round-Up

An unexpected blessed event occurred last month resulting in a new addition to our family!

My husband and I have been waiting to adopt for a long time and had nearly given up on the process as there were so many fits and starts. And the can be hard on the heart. For privacy reasons I won't go into detail, but after we received THE call we had less than 24 hours notice to get ready for our newborn son! Suffice to say that our lives have been thrown into utter chaos (in an exhausting but good way).

I certainly don't have time to craft now and this is the first blog post I've been able to write in weeks, but I know that will change as baby grows older. To celebrate his arrival I decided to do a select round-up of vintage and vintage-inspired patterns that will delight the vintage enthusiast in your life.

First, every baby needs a special blanket. I adore this delicate crocheted blanket inspired by the BBC's television show Call the Midwife:

via Little Monkeys Crochet blog

Crochet this darling 1940s Cherry Motif Bib or this lacy Bows and Ribbon Bib from 1956 :

via Today's Treasure

This knitted sweater looks like one my mother wore as a young child:

via Purple Kitty

Here's a Scotty Dog to crochet and a Kitten Softie to sew:
via Sentimental Baby blog

It's not a pattern, but for a good laugh take a look at the vintage-inspired board book The Boss Baby, a charming story about a baby CEO-type featuring delightful mid-century illustrations and a mid-century color palette. It's our favorite book these days.

Until next time....

I  purchased a copy of The Boss Baby. This post contains affiliate links to If you decide to make a purchase through my link, Amazon will pay me a tiny commission for it. This helps to keep the rest of my content free, so thank you!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Madison Avenue Monday: Simplicity Spots the Trends

A Simplicity ad featuring the latest patterns for spring, from Ebony magazine, April 1972. A similar ad features model Beverly Johnson.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Magic Cookie Bars: a Classic Mid-Century Recipe

If you've never eaten a Magic Cookie Bar then stop what you are doing and make these now--life is too short to miss out on this scrumptious treat!  I've been baking a lot recently and I suddenly had a craving for these. My mother often made these for potlucks or other get-togethers when I was a kid and I hadn't had one in years. As you can see from the photo, I didn't let these cool down quite enough before I cut them. Melted chocolate everywhere...because I just couldn't wait!

Sadly, many people have never heard of or tasted this scrumptious mid-century classic, and that is what prompted this post today. As far as I know, the recipe premiered in The Dessert Lovers' Hand-Book, a booklet of recipes produced by Borden in 1969 to feature Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk. I inherited my copy from my mother, and you can see how well-loved it has been in the photo below.

The bars are very easy to make! I'm sharing the original recipe along with my tips to make sure yours turn out just right.

Magic Cookie Bars 
(Makes about 2 dozen 1 1/2 inch x 3 inch bars)


1 stick (1/2 cup) of butter
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs*
1 cup chopped nuts (I use walnuts)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips**
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut (shredded is also okay)
1 can sweetened condensed milk

*Make your own crumbs by placing about nine full size graham cracker sheets in a Ziploc bag, and then crush them with a rolling pin.

**I use a full 12 oz. bag of chocolate chips because I am a chocoholic.

Preheat over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Rub the sides a 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan with a little of the butter, and then put the rest of the stick in the bottom of the pan. Put it in the oven until the butter melts. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs evenly over the bottom. Mix so that all of the crumbs are coated evenly with the butter. Lightly press the crumbs down at the bottom of the pan as though you were forming a graham cracker crust.

Sprinkle the nuts evenly over the crumbs. Scatter the chocolate chips over the nuts, and sprinkle the coconut evenly over the chocolate chips.

Pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the coconut. It's very thick, so use a rubber spatula to remove all of the milk from the can and drizzle it over the coconut. It's important to cover as much of the coconut as possible so it won't burn during baking.

Now wait for about five minutes to allow the condensed milk to soak through all of the layers. Then put the pan in the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and immediately run a knife around the edges of the bars. Allow to cool completely in the pan before cutting into bars.

And there you have it! One of the best cookie bars you will ever taste. Enjoy!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Madison Avenue Monday: Miracle of Spring

A charming two-page ad for Lentheric perfumes and lipstick from Ladies' Home Journal, March 1954:

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Stashbusters! Crochet Beanies and a Headband (free patterns)

Although tomorrow marks the first day of Spring, there is still a bit of chill in the air in the early mornings and evenings in many parts of the country. Earlier this year I decided that I needed to do some more yarn de-stashing, so I've been making beanies for the last few months.

I highly recommend Mango Tree Craft's Basic Beanie pattern, as the hats work up quickly and the pattern comes in preemie to adult sizes. The preemie size is perfect for those leftovers from larger projects that you might have tucked away in your stash. The cluster stitch featured in this pattern was new to me, and so was the ribbing technique (crocheting through the back loops) that creates the design you see below. This pattern is suitable for an advanced beginner but complex enough that I don't get bored when making these hats. You can add a crochet flower or two to give the hats some additional personality.

 Purple child's beanie made with Lion Brand Wool Ease
Pink infant beanie made with Knit Picks Swish Superwash

If you don't need a beanie or don't have anyone in mind to make one for, consider donating a few to: 
  • Handmade Especially for You needs beanies to give to children (especially teen boys) living in domestic violence shelters throughout California.
More intriguing beanie patterns:
And finally, I just began making the Golden Fave Twist Crochet Headband, which is suitable for beginners. I'm using some discontinued Knit Picks Crayon for this project, which has frustrated me in the past because it's hard to see the stitch pattern because of its nubby texture. But this pattern is so simple that I'll finally use it!

via ouiouiouistudio

 So, happy first day of spring! What are you working on this weekend?

Monday, March 14, 2016

I'm Back

Hello! It's been a while, hasn't it?

Lately I've been thinking about this blog a lot, and I realized how much I miss sharing my vintage and creative life here. Have you heard of the #yearofmaking hashtag, where participants commit to doing something creative for thirty minutes every day of the year? While I was away I wrote a novel for young adults (I'm still working on the second) and learned a lot about my creative process as it relates to writing.

In doing so I established a habit of doing something creative everyday. Although I didn't sew or crochet much while I was diligently writing my novel, I did dabble in art journaling for a couple of months and found out how much I love mixed media. Right now I'm on a crocheted beanie kick. Being creative in some way each day, even if it's just to try out a new recipe, is very soul-satisfying.

Blog posts give me more space to "talk" about books and projects and other stuff that I love in a way that other platforms don't. So, I'm back. There won't be an "official" schedule, but if you follow me via Bloglovin', email, or Facebook you won't miss a post.

Ta-ta for now!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

On Hiatus

I've given it a great deal of thought, and I've decided to put this blog on hiatus for a while.   I'm not sure when I will be back.

I have really enjoyed blogging and getting to know some of you over the past few years; I have had so much fun meeting new friends online and in person.  Hundreds of you still visit this blog everyday.  However, the blogosphere seems to have changed, and it seems that people aren't commenting as much.  Perhaps you all are just busier?  Or do you all just prefer tumblr? (smile)

As I mentioned in this post, it's really no fun for me when I write a blog post, especially if a post takes a great deal of time (hours!) to prepare, for that post to receive few or no comments.    And although I usually don't post about my health so it isn't apparent on the surface, several of you know that I struggle with chronic pain/fatigue.  That makes my "good" hours very precious to me.  So I've decided to work on other creative projects during those hours. I'm writing two novels.  And I get goosebumps just thinking of all the sewing, crocheting, jewelry-making and other creative projects I will be able to do....

So, goodbye for now.  I'll still be around posting and chatting on Facebook and Instagram, on Twitter for shop-related tweets, and pinning everything my little heart desires on Pinterest if you'd like to keep up with some of my projects and interests.


Monday, May 20, 2013

Madison Avenue Monday: The "In" Waistlines, modeled by Twiggy

A fabulous little fashion layout featuring Twiggy from McCall's Patterns Fashions, Fall-Winter 1967-68.  I'd wear any of these silhouettes today: