Friday, July 1, 2016

Begin (Again) as you Intend to Continue

A birthday is often a fresh start and as it is Canada's 'birthday', it is a perfect day for me to resume sharing my life and love of vintage. These Centennial glasses are almost 50 years old and are part of the many things produced to celebrate Canada's first hundred

Many public buildings, like the Museum of Vancouver shown here, were built to celebrate the Centennial and can be identified by the presence of the distinctive maple leaf composed of ten triangles that was the symbol of the Centennial. Canadians were encouraged to travel across the country and to create their own 'Centennial Projects'. I was my parents' 'Centennial Project'!. This year I hope to visit many more of these buildings and see a lot more of Canada. I first visited the Vancouver Museum when I was 12 years old and they had an exhibition called "The Look of Music". It was one of the experiences that, when considered collectively, influenced my desire to study music. A few years later, my first experience playing "real" chamber music was with the son of the man who created the exhibit. This young cellist was also the person who reintroduce me to my future husband. When I revisited the Museum in March of this year, I discovered that the architect George Hamilton had based the design of the building on an Haida woven hat. Most of my first five years were spent living on Haida Gwaii where my father was a bush pilot. I was fortunate to fly with him into logging and mining camps as well as Ninstints and other Haida sites. I am continually thankful for my early exposure to this rich culture.

Last year on Canada Day I was at the Canadian Embassy in Washington D.C. with the Ottawa Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys as my youngest son's chaperone. Bill Reid's striking sculpture was the perfect place for an outfit photo featuring my 'made in Canada' Ophelie Hat which really stood out in a sea of white stetsons.

Below are possible vintage outfit choices for today. From back to front: a Diane von Furstenberg print knit dress made by my late mother in the mid-1970s, a cotton blend 'secretary style shirt dress also from the 1970s, and a silk Jasper Conran dress from the early 1980s. I still need to find a 1967 Centennial dress...

Happy Canada Day!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Blogtoberfest Day 5: New Pyrex

In the six years that I have been collecting Pyrex, the swelling popularity of this beautiful glassware has become clearly evident in sites such as the Pyrex Collective and the PyrexLove Flickr stream.

The downside of its popularity is its increasing scarcity. I have not seen much in good condition in the thrift stores lately, so I was thrilled to find three mixing bowls in Snowflake Blue in mint condition on my latest thrifting excursion.

I did not intend to collect this pattern but have grown to really like its cheerfulness. Expanding my collection of a variety of Pyrex patterns has created challenges of easily accessible storage. I had already made room for these two casseroles.

A little shuffling solved the problem. I think that I will have enough room to fit the larger 404 bowl when I find it. Although pieces have tended to present themselves, my Pyrex search has just become re-energized.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Blogtoberfest Day 4: A New Style Pie

Yesterday's dinner was an exercise in creatively using what was in the house, in this case, a particularly large portion of feta cheese. While my sons will eat feta, they do not really like it! I thought that a "cheese pie" might be the answer. My mother grew up in England and Ireland where a pie is usually a deep dish savoury melange with a pastry crust or some other type of edible lid. These were made in a pie dish rather that a pie plate.
Recently I found most of a set of pie dishes at the thrift store. Online sources on backstamp information date these pie dishes to the late 1970's or 1980's, so they are not that old, but still considered vintage. These are very old design made by a company that is more known today for another traditional pottery, Cornish Ware.
In this case, I chose to make something completely untraditional for this sort of dish and came up with a crustless, vegetarian pie. Whether or not it can be called a pie is open to discussion. Worldwide, the idea of a pie covers many variations. This book by Janet Clarkson might suggest that it could be called a pie.

Spanikopita Pie
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp. dried dill
300 g frozen spinach, defrosted and drained
1/2 c. quinoa, well rinsed
1 c. water
1 1/2 c. to 2 c. feta
1 block of silken tofu, mashed

Preheat the oven to 350 or 325 in a convection oven.
Butter or oil the pie dish.
In a medium saucepan, saute the onions adding the garlic when the onions become translucent. Stir in the dill and remove from saucepan and set aside. Use the sauce pan to bring the water to a boil and add the quinoa. Simmer for about 10 minutes. When the quinoa is cooked, fluff with a fork and then add the defrosted and drained spinach along with the onion, garlic and dill mixture. Crumble in chunks of feta. Mash the tofu and fold into mixture. Transfer into the buttered pie dish and place in the oven for around an hour, uncovered.

Since a pie can be one of the thriftiest dishes in the kitchen and vintage, traditional pie dishes are a thrift store treasure, I am linking this post to Apron Thrift Girl's Thrift Share Monday

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Blogtoberfest Day 3: My Creative Space

I have an amazing sewing studio but, at this time of year, some of my creative work needs to be accomplished in closer proximity to the rest of the family. This has been the case for generations of home-makers whether they were needing to catch up on mending or enjoying more creative pursuits.
Having a sewing or work box in the living room, family room or den had long been the norm. This sewing box on legs appears to be about fifty years old and definitely due for a make-over. It is sturdy and has good bones, but the brown wood-grain vinyl and the torn tufting on the top, while evocative of another time, is not my idea of beauty .
Here, the top is removed and the hinges unscrewed; where the vinyl had been stapled to the lid was attached a heavy piece of pale, peachy-pink cardboard. I carefully removed the staples with the intent to reuse the cardboard. When that was done, I removed the many staples holding the vinyl to the lid.
Here the piece is completely stripped. I carefully stored all the hardware and decorative elements and started the recovering process. The original tufts for the lid were created with large plastic button tacks. Over the years, some of these had gone missing so I decided to replace them with covered buttons using the fabric used to recover the lid.
This photo shows the completed work box with a focus on the lid's tufting. The original button tacks did not extend all the way through the wood of the lid so I made holes in the lid where I wanted the tufting and then used heavy, waxed button thread to thread through the wood and the shank of the button, then stapled it to the underside of the lid to create enough tension to make defined tufts.
Once I had stapled the cardboard to the underside of the lid, I realized that the staple width did not match the original staples and it generally looked messy. I decided to use some of my small stash of vintage wallpaper to cover the cardboard and finish off the look of the inside of the lid.
The fabric that I used on the sides was very slippery on the fibreboard sides of the work box, so I decided to use some fabric glue to prevent it from sagging. I made a big mistake by not checking if the glue would stain the fabric. The bottle stated that it would not stain most fabrics; the moral here is to always perform a spot test.
Fortunately, with the light inside my family room, the glue staining is barely noticeable. The ideal location of this sewing box is in the family room, between my favourite chair and the sofa, in front of a vintage sewing machine cabinet that we use as an end table.
Here is the work basket, fully stocked with vintage and modern sewing notions and ready to go. Under the removable plastic tray I can store whatever I am working on and close everything up until I return. This functional furniture piece is very sturdy and can be used as a stool, or a great location for a tray and a cup of tea. Even one of our cats has claimed it as a favourite rest... ahem, work site! Along with Blogtoberfest, I am linking this post to My Creative Space which is hosted by Kirsty. So many ideas by creative people...

Blogtoberfest Day 2: Transitional Wardrobe

Early Fall and late Spring present some equally challenging issues when planning a wardrobe for the day. Often, first thing in the morning is quite chilly and the middle of the day can be positively hot. Fashion, or maybe just boredom with what we have be doing and excitement of something new, seems to suggest we push the season and wear what we will be wearing in the coming months. Here is an outfit that I wore in the Spring and again just recently. I have mixed new pieces with vintage, and warm season with cool, in a way that I think spans the seasons and stretches the character of each item while creating a cohesive look. I started with a new Summer Liberty shift dress and the jacket of a navy blue suit. The jacket is a great fit on me but the skirt probably requires the kind of undergarments that I do not own. The purse is thrifted and made by Fossil. I have two thrifted bags from the company and one new one. One of their tag lines is "Long Live Vintage" which is obviously marketing to people like me. Marketing aside, I like how well the bags seem to be on the inside which I consider very important.
Here, I am wearing a pill box hat which is likely from the early 1960's. Cloth hats are perfect for transitional seasons as it is not too early nor too late for straw or felt. Traditionally, this style of hat would have been worn with a more structured, shorter hairstyle. With my hair down, I think that it gives a fresh, modern take on a vintage look.
I love the way the crown of the hat is formed. Self-fabric bows are always a favourite feature. While fabric hats such as this do have structural features such as heavy-weight buckram, they are the kind of hat that would be relatively easy for the non-professional milliner to recreate.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Blogtoberfest Day #1: Last Garage Sale of the Season

Well, Blogtoberfest is here again and I am using this opportunity to get back in the blog saddle. I was fairly successful posting somewhat regularly last year and hope to do the same this year. To my loyal followers, I will keep my apologies simple and just say that my general health was rather rough last Winter and Spring. As time past, it didn't get easier to re-start blogging, but here goes.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to what may very well have been the last garage sale of the season. It is my favourite community sale that has turned up some fabulous treasures for me in past years. This time I was able purchase a new old rug for the living room along with these treasures. I make no apologies for my love of pretty tins and these ones are especially lovely. The wire caddy for glasses has a shabby chic touch, popular among reproduction items, but the previous owner did buy it at an antique market.
While I do not really require more haberdashery or china, I found the trim and the mug were too irresistible. The metal napkin holder was free and although I use my stacks of cloth napkins, I do occasionally use paper for parties.
Another view of the tins along with a little more detail of a new-to-me vintage bed tray. This one is for my husband to use while I enjoy this one. I am very excited to be participating in this festival hosted by Kat @ I Saw You Dancing.

Friday, November 11, 2011


This whole week has been one of remembrance, starting on Sunday with a Service of Remembrance at the Christ Church Cathedral. Every year, a list of fallen soldiers who were parishioners at the Cathedral is read; from the Great War through to the recent losses in Afghanistan. Among those is a member of the boys' choir of the Cathedral from around one hundred years ago: Lt. Edmund Gordon Brown. For me, one of the most memorable experiences of this past summer's choir trip to France and England was a graveside performance in Barlin, France (see page 6). The ultimate sacrifice of Canadians serving in France is still much solemnly appreciated almost a century later. We were very moved by the welcome we received in the town, as we were there to pay tribute this former chorister. In Sunday's service, I thought of mothers of previous generations and how, but for the time in which I live, I could be mourning the loss of a son. One does not need to know the deceased, but simply a bit of their story to feel a profound loss.

This photo shows my paternal grandfather as a youth at some point during the First World War. Still too young for active duty in this photo, he is labelled as Scout Thies on the back of the photo. His presence in the photo reminded me of how war made an impact on everyone in his community in the north of England and, with almost an entire generation lost, the whole society.

As a young man, my Grandfather moved to Canada where he was able to fulfill his 'cowboy' dreams and work with horses. During the Second World War, he traveled across the country training Cavalry soldiers. I believe that this photo of my grandfather was taken near the beginning of the War when my Father was very young. My Dad was very lucky that his Father was considered too old to fight overseas during this war and, unlike many boys his age, had a father to raise him after the war was over. Unfortunately, my Grandfather died before I was born, but I remember him through his story retold.

I feel fortunate to have known my Mum's Father who was a squadron leader in the Royal Air Force. He was not inclined to discuss his wartime experiences but I was able to learn his story through my Mum and my Nanan. I try to share all these stories with my children and hope that feel connected to those that served for their country long before they were born, so that they too can remember and appreciate the enormity of dedication and sacrifice of our Armed Forces.