Friday, September 23, 2011

She fritters her time away sewing.

I'm afraid I've already addled my brain with too much reading. And now I'm frittering my time away pursuing tasks of aesthetic and kinesthetic delight.

I have ordered a couple of Colette's latest patterns:

Peony is my choice. I plan on making it in a light-weight fabric and pairing it with trousers and jeans. I might wear it on its own, but I think it would look wonderful worn as a tunic.

Clover, Colette's first pants pattern, was too tempting to pass up. I'm not sure how the pants will fit or look on me, but I'm going to give them a whirl. Worst-case scenario is I'll have to widen the leg portion and make it less of a skinny cut. We'll see.

Fabric of choice for Peony: 3+ yards of smoke grey colored linen-rayon blend. I know it won't be the warmest, but I like the way linen drapes and moves.  I can always layer one of my (cashmere) turtlenecks under it for warmth.

Fabric of choice for Clover: more smoke grey linen! It doesn't contain stretch, so I'm not sure how it's work. Clover is designed for a fabric with a bit of lycra. It could be an interesting learning experience that results in another fabric purchase. Perhaps a wool blend with stretch?

Now, for a slight detour... how do you personally determine your own style? "Style" book of magazine clippings? Pinterest?  Lately I've been feeling torn between bohemian chic and more structured pieces. While this isn't necessarily a problem, it is impeding the decision making process. I definitely need to go shopping and get a few pieces. But now I wonder: what do I buy? (Maybe it's time to hire a stylist.)

Furthermore, now that it's fall, what will you be donning this fall for clothing and makeup? Share the details!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Rome: Fountains, Coins, and Dresses

The Dress:
I'm in the midst of some very important research. You see, I have a very favorite movie. I once saw it some years ago with a dear friend. My sister and I had a delightful weekly appointment watching classic movies with her once a week. One movie she could not find to rent was Three Coins in the Fountain, a breathtaking film from the early 1950s - the first movie shot in Cinemascope! She saw it when it first came out and wanted to see again. My sister and I bought it for her soon approaching birthday and there we sat one night, reveling in the glamour and charm of Rome, Italy, 1954.

Roman Holiday first captured my heart for Italy. But after seeing this movie, I was a goner.

Two (three?) things that have stuck with me since I watched that movie are Frances' character and eye frames, and the entire female cast's wardrobe. Oh, and the incredible Italian homes and countryside. (I knew it was three things.)

Since I can't recreate the city of Rome in my house (yet! Are my parenthetical comments annoying you like they are annoying me?), I decided to pick out a dress from their wardrobe to recreate.

My first inspiration is Anita's dress worn when she accompanied Gorgio to the countryside. Here are a couple of shots, courtesy of SnapNDrag's helpful utility:

I have to be honest, Anita is not my favorite character. Miss Frances is my favorite: a bookish intellectual who wears thick black eyeglass frames and is a secretary for a world famous author - who she has also been in love with for 15 years - and wears very chic, refined dresses. That's my kind of girl, minus the unrequited love.

I plan on using this pattern from Decades of Style. The back is not the same (see above picture of Anita from back view), so I will have the challenge of modifying that portion of the dress. I am also unsure if I can wear polka dots well. I may skip the dots and do something else in such a lovely shade of ocher yellow.

Finally, here are a few vintage blogs I recently discovered and have been enjoying:

Lisa Freemont Pages [mostly vintage beauty, hair and makeup tutorials, photos, and advice. Wonderful!]

Further news:
I haven't posted many photos yet because I have to purchase an SD card adapter for my laptop. But more posts with photos and will be coming as soon as it arrives in the post. I have some delicious photos of the souffle I made recently. YUM!

My parents were to arrive in July for a visit. However, they are considering postponing it until October. This may delay me using my new blog design, as I have planned to use some photos of Flora for the banner. So... we'll see if I do that, or put it up and modify it once I get photos. (I do not trust the mail to deliver my great-grandmother's priceless, circa 1920 wedding photos.)

Monday, March 21, 2011

"What ha-ve you been up to, darling?"

A couple of days after my last blog post, I moved to my new home in the mountains. To document this Midwestern girl's mountain adventure, I have started a separate blog: My Life in Estes

At the moment, it is sadly lacking in posts. Check back often as I attempt getting handy with a camera and post about my experiences and adventures in Estes Park.

Since moving, I am re-learning how to cook and bake. My only attempt at high altitude rice has been disasterous. A gummy, gluey mass filled with still crunchy grains of rice. My guests were kind enough to eat it. I am waiting to try a new method: baking it.  And if that fails, I'm going to get a pressure cooker. And according to the locals, the ONLY way beans will ever cook is in a pressure cooker. Otherwise, you'll be boiling rocks 'til the Rockies tumble. Use of the pressure cooker is also required for some kinds of meat. 

As for baking, I discovered a lovely volume at my library, Pie in the Sky. The author spent five years experimenting with high-altitude baking. And her recipes are not only fool-proof, they are a foodie's dream! Orange chiffon cake with tangerine mousse filling, cheesecake with a spicy mango topping, and tons of recipes for cookies, cakes, pies, breads, scones, and other baked goods. You should know that her recipes are also for use at sea level. 

My latest purchase: a 1920s reprint of the famous booklet "The One Hour Dress."  I tried making one last weekend but my fabric wasn't wide enough. I was inspired by the movie "Enchanted April" to try my hand at some 1920s fashions. I plan on using it to make a dress out of cotton lawn or silk to wear for my summer night dress. If that goes well, I want to make a blouse or two for summer use. 

I've been walking and hiking a lot. I am also nearly finished knitting a shawl for a friend. It's beautiful! Once it's finished and blocked, photos will be posted.

Another post of pictures soon to come will be my mustard linen skirt. It is finished after much labor and pain. I'm not certain how I feel about  the fit and look on me. Feedback from my dear readers will be much appreciated.

For my knitting, I have my eye on a chevron sweater from "Glamour Knits" by Erika Knight. The book was a lovely going-away gift from my friend Charis. Kamicha knitted said sweater; take a look Chevron Sweater

Finally, I have been working on getting photos together for my new blog design. Once those are completed, my blog design will be up and running! Thank you to Laura at Quietude Blog for her artistic talents! I am thrilled about my new blog design and can't wait to put it up!

The new blog design has renewed and inspired me to be more committed to my blog. Not so I can be some great writer (my first blogging goal) or show fantastic photos (my second goal), or anything like that. No. I want to keep this blog going in memory of great-grandmother Flora and all she instilled in my life, and as an outlet for all my passions. Which is pretty much why I first started this blog. Time to return to the very beginning...

Ciao, darlings!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Brownies to Sink Your Teeth Into

I've fallen victim to whitening my teeth. I realize all of the coffee and tea I consume, coupled with my hereditary disposition, have yellowed my teeth. So I got some of those expensive strips and have been using them as directed for two whole days now. My teeth are hurting a bit already and I am hoping that at the end of fourteen days I will not regret my decision to pursue another form of personal, aesthetic vanity. 

To make myself feel better I decided to bake brownies. (Does eating brownies while enduring bleaching treatments lessen the whitening results? Hmm...)

I have tried a few brownie recipes, at least enough recipes to label them according to texture: velvety, cakey, fudgy, old fashioned - the list goes on. Despite the fact I keep these recipes, I usually don't make a certain recipe again. Except for the following recipe I am about to share.

It is my favorite brownie. Dark and gooey with a thin, crackling, almost-meringue crust that quickly shatters and gives way to the depths of their silky and voluptuous souls, these brownies are enveloped in chocolate, butter, and all that is delicious. 

I can't take credit for having discovered this recipe on my own. This recipe came by way of Molly at Orangette. She discovered it in a volume compiled by my favorite chef ever, Julia Child, entitled Baking with Julia. The recipe is originally by Rick Katz. 

The only caveat is that these brownies truly are at their best when paired with a little dip of vanilla ice cream or cup of strong black coffee to cut their richness. Otherwise, enjoy. And wipe the crumbs off your face when you're finished.

You can find the recipe here:

Note: I have personally halved the recipe and baked it in my vintage 5-by-7 Pyrex baking dish. It works beautifully. If you don't have such a perfectly sized baking dish, you could still have the recipe and bake them in ramekins. Just adjust the baking time.