Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Pattern Mixing and Buried Cherry Cookies

Well that was a shitty day. Oh sure, I was well dressed for my shitty day, but I still could have done without it. The trip to the dentist didn't make the day any less shitty, nor did having my bank account "compromised" (Their wording, which means they got hacked, and now my account is shut down until they send out new acct #'s, cards, etc. ). Oh, I could go on but when you've got this much successful pattern mixing on your person, it just seems pointless to go and ruin it with a glum face.
See what I mean? This was, in my defense immediately after the dentist. daaaaaamn, I'm in pain. Only one thing to do with a day like this-break out the giant edition of Better Homes and Gardens Our Best Recipes. "Buried Cherry Cookies" sound interesting. Chocolate? Cherries? Frosting? I won't be eating them so sure, why the hell not?
 Think of it as a cross between a brownie and a thumbprint cookie with a cherry rather than jam.
They were a bit fiddly, but when I'm so stressed out my shoulders are hunched up by my ears, there's something calming about baking. My hands find use, my shoulders (sort of) relax, and I (sort of) forget the throbbing in my face. Sure, tomorrow will probably be hellish too, but it is a very large cookbook. Chocolate biscotti sound good. I'll post the recipe at the bottom of the post. It sounds fiddly, and I suppose it is compared to a drop cookie, but they came together easily enough, and if I could manage them on a day like today, I'm sure you can handle them without much effort.
Being from Illinois, I have a love of the long-gone Berggren Trayner ceramics and enamelware. We had several pieces, but the kettle saw the most use, and would frequently get forgotten, boiled dry, and ruined. Dad would stop at the factory store in Libertyville, Ill. on his way back from the Wisconsin route, and replace it. I lost count how many times this happened, and I still don't know why they didn't simply buy a few extra. I suppose no one thinks they will do that again, but after the tenth time or so, reality should have kicked-in. The burnt out kettles became planters on the yellow tiered plantstand in the corner of the kitchen, which eventually had all matching kettles. A few years back, I was lucky enough to locate a set of canisters in a thrift store, and along with my percolator I've enjoyed having them brighten my kitchen counters. I never imagined I'd see these coffee mugs, much less the matching cake plates. I forked over my twenty bucks as fast as I could before anyone tried to purchase them out from under me. I needn't have worried, they'd been in the shop for months having been discounted several times from the original asking price of $70.00

I know coffee is only as good as you make it, but I swear it tastes better out of these mugs. Crazy, I know, but it does make the experience all the nicer. Mr. ETB rather likes the shape and design as well, which is nice as he rarely shares my taste in d├ęcor. Don't ask me to translate the Swedish (I may have spent the last 12 years living in a predominantly Swedish town, but that doesn't make me fluent). I know the kettle translates to, "A watched kettle never boils" because we used to joke that it didn't mean you should ignore it! Kaffetaren would have to mean coffee (wouldn't it?) but beyond that, I have no idea. Just looking at this cheerful little mug as I type, the day becomes less shitty. Maybe I should fill it with Absolut. That'd fix this shitty day.
And when it is time to do the washing up? This fellow was $1.00 at the hardware store. I was a little surprised they are still making them, but then some things never go out of style, and you need a place to set your dish scrubber.

Here's to tomorrow (because I really can't take much more of today)!

Hidden Cherry Cookies

1 10 ounce jar maraschino cherries, drained with juice reserved. If cherries are large, cut in half.
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Dutched)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon bicarb
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate pieces (6 ounces)
1/2 cup condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, combine flour and cocoa. In a large bowl, beat softened butter 30 seconds, then combine sugar, baking powder, bicarb, and salt. Add slowly to sugar as you beat. Mix well. Add egg and vanilla and beat well. Slowly beat in the flour/cocoa mix until you can no longer incorporate it with the mixer, then finish by hand with a wooden spoon (mine all went in with the mixer).

Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Make a thumbprint, and press a cherry (or half) into the centre. Meanwhile, make the frosting by slowly melting together the chocolate and condensed milk, When all smooth, stir in 4 teaspoons of the reserved cherry juice and blend until smooth. You may need more juice if the mixture is too thick. Spread the frosting over the cherry (about 1 teaspoon per cherry) smoothing it out over the sides of the cherry. Bake 5 minutes, rotate pan and bake another 5 minutes or until edges are firm. Mine were a bit tricky to remove, so use a very thin, flexible spatula if you have one. Makes about 48.

Now, climb into bed with a tray of no less than ten of these, and a pretty Swedish coffee mug filled with grain spirits. Kiss your bad day goodbye.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Orange Sherbet

In the US (and maybe Canada?) we have a couple frozen confections that would also describe this dress but I was afraid putting, "Push-Up" or "Creamsicle" dress in the title would bring some strange search engine hits-and then they'd see this polyester creation and be disappointed because nothing kills a boner faster than a dress like this (unless you're a real sicko, in which case-knock yourself out, love). No, the pleasure in the wearing of this dress is all mine.
 Apologies for the mirror photos. My photographer is having asthma again, and the medication makes his hands quite shaky. Poor kid, he finally gets over being sick most of summer, then the allergy induced asthma starts up again with the moulds. The first hard frost cannot get here quick enough as far as I'm concerned. I love summer, but listening to Danny hacking away like a guy whose been smoking a pack a day for fifty years is hard to take.
Tomorrow I finish up with the dentist (for now) and then pretty much do nothing for the rest of the week because the one car is in the shop, and the heat is going to be insane. Mr. ETB thinks I'm going to let him take the bus on a 98 degree day (I'm not) and I'm sure as hell not going out. The pool would just be like bathwater anyway.
 Know what's good to cook in hot weather?
 Indeed. Tastes better when you have a special plate too.
 OK, it was BBQ tofu, but it made killer sandwiches. They're eating the leftovers tonight because I'm a "cook once, serve it for days" kind of homemaker. Thankfully, they don't object to re-runs.

Outfit Particulars:
1960's orange polyester home-sewn (not by me) dress-Goodwill, .99 cents
Shoes-K Mart
Flower pin/hair clip-Tiff and Tam
Lippy-Revlon Jungle Peach (who the hell names these?) a vintage re-issue that probably should have stayed in the 60's with robin's egg blue mascara)

Let's see if we can get a better look at that...

Huh. It looks better in the photos than it does in person. You'll have to take my word for it, this is the strangest, dullest, matte orange lippy I've ever encountered. That's how they sell this stuff-good lighting.

Light orange dress? That's s sure-bet! (Sorry, I had to).



Monday, August 18, 2014

Speaking of Gangsters...

 So yesterday, I was complaining everyone equates Chicago with gangsters, and today my kid is dressed like one. Sigh, no one to blame but myself-I bought him the suit. The hat was his decision.
He needs a moniker, maybe "Smilin' Dan" would work. The sort of guy that would rough you up for you first editions. "Hand over the books mister, and no one gets hurt..."

While we're thinking about the 1930's, here's the dress I mentioned in the previous post. I could not get it on my dress form, which is strange as it is small, but not that small. I think my dress form has unusually broad shoulders. Because of the bias cut, the dress looks smaller than it is, though I doubt very much it would fit me.

This is sort of flopped onto the form. Even the belt wouldn't go around. Strange. Leave it to me to buy a freakishly odd shaped dress form!
 I still can't believe I scored this for .99 cents. I suppose if you didn't know what it was, it might look misshapen. Once it is on, I think it will look lovely, and move with the wearer's body.
 This weight is worn inside the neckline to create an attractive draping. Amazing it survived all these years.
 The scalloped sleeves are sewn on over the sleeveless body of the dress making me think they were perhaps an afterthought. The dress is handsewn with the tiniest, regular hand stitching I've ever seen. It has a few snaps at the side to help pull it on (unless you are my dress form, then nothin' doin').
The dress was surprisingly clean as well. I apologise for the crappy photos-it is a dark day and velvet is reflective with indoor lighting. The material itself is in good shape, and drapes nicely. So that's a dress for the gangster's moll.
These shoes are from the late 50's/early 60's. They are just a hair too small for me because of the rhinestones. Damn it, I hate when that happens, but someone that can wear a size 7 is going to love them.

I should mention that Danny hasn't taken that jacket off since I washed it, and gave it to him. I'd better start looking for another (it is already a bit short in the arms).


Sunday, August 17, 2014

What Were You Expecting, A Grass Skirt?

Aloha from my Omaha paradise. I've been accused of being a pessimist but...
The glasses really were empty! It was nine in the morning, but I'm not really a tropical drink sort of woman anyway. Bitchin' Tiki glass though (I have a second) from a Polynesian restaurant in South Dakota. Yeah, I know that's a lot to wrap your head around.
 Nifty print, eh?
I saw this jacket sitting un-loved on a rack at Hand-Me-Ups, and knew it was coming home with me. I wore it today for the sake of photos, but this will be packed away for Danny when he's a bit taller. In the event he takes exception to a belted Hawaiian shirt from the 60's, then maybe I'll sell it, but I do think it is best worn by someone tall, thin, and wearing surf shorts.
Liberty House was a department store in Hawaii that eventually branched out to the Western United States before going bankrupt. Mr. ETB thinks remembers it from the few years he lived in Hawaii in the late 60's (before moving to Germany)but he may well be remembering it from Washington State where he ended up when they moved back to the US. Poor guy, his dad was an Army officer, and they lived Everywhere. People ask where he's from, and he just shrugs.

Me? I open my mouth and everyone knows exactly where I'm from, even though I haven't been there in 25 years. I used to mind it, and it really used to irritate me to be halfway around the world and have someone ask if I'm related to Al Capone. I swear to god, if I had a dollar for every time someone (in halting English) made a mime of a gun with their finger and said, "Chicago! Al Capone. Bang, Bang!"  I suppose the Hawaiians are fed up with people reducing their culture to floral shirts, Don Ho, and Spam Musabi, so I won't complain too loudly as I pose in a Hawaiian shirt and drink from a Tiki glass. Any Hawaiians that want to make a mobster joke, feel free to have at it.
Outfit Particulars:

Black jumpsuit-K Mart
1960's Liberty House barkcloth shirt (or maybe it is a jacket, it has a heavy zipper) Hand-Me-Ups
Earrings-Had them forever
Shoes-K Mart
Hair Flowers-Tiff and Tam

I stopped at the new .99 cent Goodwill in the Old Market to see what it was like. Everything is .99 cents, and it is really just a couple small rooms. I thought this artwork on the wall was striking.
 I enjoyed my visit very much. I found 2 brass magazine stands, a 1930's velvet bias cut gown that looked well worn, but in decent shape (still had the belt, and hardware), and a pair of knickers (no, not undies, knickerbockers, that button at the knee). Danny got a hideous, black and white striped suit. The pants are a bit short, so we're going to cut them into shorts rendering the entire thing absurd. That's my boy!
I doubt it is that good, all the time but I sure was lucky there today. It is a bit of a pain to get to, and park so I don't imagine I'll put it on my regular stop schedule, but who knows?


Saturday, August 16, 2014

You Say Tomato, I Say Cook it For Dinner

All Saturday chores lead back to the library-and I've been all over town today. Danny went for a haircut, we stopped at the pharmacy, struck gold at the thrift store (can you say, "pink ultra suede dress?") and finally made it back to the library to pick up reserved books. I didn't notice the owner of the bike in the photo waiting patiently for us to finish snapping away, but he seemed entertained enough as he was smiling as he went to his bike. It looked like such a young person's bike, so I was a bit surprised to see a fellow in (at least) his 90's hop on and ride off. Good for him!
I bought this belt yesterday at Hand-Me-Ups, and was delighted when I got it home to discover how well-made it is. What's more, the buckle can be replaced, a feature newer Western belts are often lacking. That's good, because I'm on the search for a gigantic, horseshoe shaped buckle with tons of turquoise. I'd settle for a buckle in the shape of Nebraska, but not for everyday wear. Anyway, now I have the perfect belt. I have a hell of a time finding belts that don't fall apart after a wear or two, so if I sound a bit too excited over a tooled belt from the 70's, you'll have to excuse me-I've been wearing my share of crappy ones for a long time.
This dress is not vintage, though it had me fooled at first glance. It came with a matching belt, has a side-zipper, and even beautiful shell buttons, but a look at the tag told me it was Talbot's.  I like Talbot's (a fact that always made my sister laugh a bit as their clothes are on the conservative/New England-y side). I've always found their clothes to be well made, in a range of sizes, and not likely to ever go out of style. This was $5.99 at the thrift store, but it was on sale for an additional 1/2 off. I thought I might pee myself from excitement. A pair of stockings at Talbot's will cost you at least $20.00. This isn't denim, but rather a light cotton printed to look like denim (ingenious!). It was light, comfortable, and didn't wrinkle too horribly (except at the sleeves, and I have no idea why). So good, good, and good! It is much too warm outside to be fiddling with clothes that require ironing.
I've had this tiny brooch for a bit, but hadn't worn it as it tends to disappear on most clothes. This turned out to be the perfect backdrop for it-something I'll have to keep in mind when accessorising in the future.

Outfit Particulars:

Talbot's dress-Hand-Me-Ups
Tooled belt by Browning (the gun manufacturer? Maybe I'm supposed to hang a holster off it for a water pistol or something) Hand-Me Ups
Triffari brooch-Hand-Me-Ups
Vintage Gaymode shoes-thrifted

We've been watching plenty of movies/television series of late. We're currently engrossed in The Singing Detective, though I'm afraid Danny has acquired a some new vocabulary to hurl about. Recently watched include:
Bells Are Ringing
Cloud Atlas
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
The Day After Tomorrow (awful)
The Day After (sad, but not awful)
Danger UXB (the entire series)(which you shouldn't watch around a holiday when people are blowing off firecrackers during the tense scenes. I nearly had a heart attack).
The Terminal
The Maltese Falcon
And I know there are more, but I can't remember at the moment. We checked out a Best of SCTV at the library for tonight. I don't know what the hell Danny is going to make of that .
Tonight's Meal:
Roasted tomatoes with garlic, olives,  rosemary, thyme, oregano and parsley over pasta with fresh mozzarella. Summer cooking is the best-you just toss it in a pan and let it do the work for you.
I guess it wouldn't feel like a proper weekend if I didn't flip you off so...
I only flip off the people I love.

Friday, August 15, 2014

More Crazy Modern Paterns on Polyester

New neighbours were moving in across the way as I played supermodel in the front garden. They're probably frantically reconsidering their lease as I type! Of course, they're young (can't be much more than 25) and they always look terrified at that age. I'll have to drop by with some tomatoes and a jar of jam to frighten them in person.

Here's my best "frighten the young people off my lawn" face. Damn whippersnappers. I think I frightened the clerk at the art supply store too, but perhaps she was intimidated by my stack of hard-bound sketchbooks for plotting my world domination. Or nature sketches. *Shrug*.
 Speaking of art...this isn't. But it matches the mirror, and the moulded plastic roses on the opposite side.
Nooo, that's not art honey, that's some goddamned kitsch.
Looking at the back I noticed they were both made by the same company (Dart Industries) in the same year (1970). Still not art.
This jacket and skirt is about four sizes too big. I pinned the skirt today to wear it out and see if I felt it was worth the effort of fixing. I don't really think it is. The jacket would need more attention that it is worth, so I'm going to put it in the "sale" pile and hopefully someone else will wear and enjoy it. Good vintage in larger sizes is difficult to come by, and this is a killer print with the best kind of lapels...
Huge ones. The lapels (you perverts).
 You can't solve all wardrobe issues with safety pins. WARNING-Old Lady midriff photo ahead.
 I warned you. At least I wore nan-tights, so don't go getting too hot and bothered.

Sure, I could have pinned it so the pattern matched. Well no, really I couldn't because who on earth would do that? At that point, you might as well sew.
Now that you've had a peek at my gut, have a glance at those sexy, swollen, nylon-clad ankles. Support hose, as we call 'em here. There's so much elastic in those tights I can barely bend my knees, but that's OK because I have a child to do all the bending/picking things up/ etc. Just wait until he's a teenager and I make him carry me up and down the stairs. He's nearly big enough now. That's why I had a child-to pick up stuff I dropped so I don't need to bend, and carry me around.

Outfit Particulars:

1970's 2 piece polyester skirt set. Well, 3 piece if you count the matching belt-Goodwill
1960's handbag-Thrift World, 90th and Maple
Vintage Nturalizer shoes-Goodwill?
Blue shirt-K Mart
Earrings-Thrift World
60's necklace-Goodwill
60's white link bracelet-Hand-Me-Ups

There's a "hawk thing" at Fontenelle Forest tomorrow. Translated, that means volunteers from Raptor Recovery Nebraska stand in a room (over tarps) with screeching, flapping, shitting raptors for people to gawk at up close. Well Danny enjoys it, and the volunteers (bless 'em) enjoy Danny, so I'll camp out in the next room with a book while he "talks shop" with his friends. Since we'll be in the area, a trip to the New Life Thrift will be on the agenda because they have patterns for .10 cents. Last time I scored some 60's Vogue patterns, so it is worth stopping. Mr. ETB is on call until Monday morning, but so far (touch wood) it has been an uneventful week.
Have a lovely weekend. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Truth be Told

Possibly true.
Not true, because it was made "especially for" someone else. Then, I bought it at the thrift store. Want to see it?
I'm not sure what Lizzie lined it with, but it is one heavy jacket! The previous owned probably got too exhausted schlepping it around, and donated it.
True-I did not need a wooden, beaded bag. Also true, I don't always limit my purchases to necessities... the ever-expanding collection of California pottery illustrates.
I might have squealed a bit when I saw the leaf vase. I don't think anyone would blame me.
 Mr. ETB had one of these as a child in Germany. I bought if for him to experience the joys of childhood again without resorting to the game they used to play called, "Rock fight." My understanding is that it is as it sounds-kids threw rocks at each other. I thought this would be a nicer childhood memory.
 Oh wait, the Frau is carrying a tray of rocks, isn't she? Shit. Nothing says, "Merry Christmas" like a good rock fight. Or stolen. Your pick.
 This is a terrible photograph of some beautiful wool that I am going to use to make the cape from the pattern Curtise sent. I hope I have enough fabric left to make a pair of matching hot pants. God knows, I need a matching cape/hot pants combo in my wardrobe. And white go-go boots because...well, just because.

The green plaid (and the brown/orange fabric behind it) are a heavy silk material. No plans, but 4 yards of each for $3.99 was too good to leave. Hand-Me-Ups has great vintage fabric. Know what else they have? Stuff like this...
It was going to be a poncho, or cape-like thing (and it may well be someday) but the setee needed some perking-up. Look how perked-up it is! Damn, like a cup of coffee.

I'm slowly getting into school-mode. I have a new lesson plan/attendance book that looks so fresh, and optimistic. It won't last, but like new pencils, folders, and yet un-doodled book covers, there's something exciting in the newness of another grade. Grade four. How the hell did that happen?

I'm trying to do a better job of fine-arts education this year. Yes, I take him to the opera, and theatre, and the odd orchestral concert, but I really need to do more with visual arts. The Joslyn Museum is free now thanks to a grant (I think through the next couple years) and I live all of ten minutes away, so perhaps a weekly visit with an hour devoted to a close study of a pre-selected work, and some rough sketching? I hated doing close studies, and I'd stubbornly sit there doing my best not to see anything, but it was always when I got up to leave, or took a break and came back to a painting that I would notice something crucial I hadn't quite put together whilst sitting before it. Oddly enough, I never could do those hidden-eye pictures, no matter how hard I'd squint!

The schedule for Opera Omaha looks good this year, though Mr. ETB looked it over with that pained expression that sort of pleads, "Don't make me sit through this." I'd happily trade off,  and do the opera if he'd take the theatre, and we could flip a coin for the symphony, but I think it would be best attended as a family. It is a small opera company with a short season, so there's that for comfort.

Lastly, the wonderful Sarpy County Garage Sale is coming up in September. Two days of anything and everything you never imagined wanting. Last year I came home with women's magazines from the 30's and 40's, silk scarves, necklaces, a coffee set, a glass carafe in a bronze stand, Vogue patterns, fabric and trims, a music box, and Fire King bowls. I went the second day when everything was 1/2 price. This is easily the best sale of the year, anywhere-so if you are a local, and can get there, do it! You also get to poke around the museum and old train depot which makes the trip, educational. If you're planning to attend, drop me an email and we can plan a picnic or something. I make exceptionally nice sandwiches. True.