Wednesday, July 19, 2017


I've run across my share of odd items in thrift shops, but this gold-plated seashell is certainly one of the strangest.
I have to wonder at the artist's thought process that finally arrived at, "Hey, I'll gold plate a seashell." It is a genuine shell (you can't quite see inside in the photo) which also makes me wonder how many tries it took to get something that didn't break. This isn't very carefully made, but it was just so odd, I felt compelled to purchase it. $1.99 has been spent on sillier things.
I have no idea what this basket's intended use is. I'm using it as a straw handbag, but I suspect it began life with other use in mind, I've thought about decorating it with some pom-pom trim but I also like the plain look of it. I still feel like I ought to be carrying tamales in it or something.
 I'm wearing it here with a favourite skirt.

The belt is another oddity-the edges of the brass disks are sharp and thin leaving me terrified I might give myself abdominal surgery if I lean forward suddenly. I take it off to ride in the car-can't be too careful. That would be such an embarrassing way to die, disemboweled by your vintage belt. 
Now this is odd! Anyone for a cross-body lunch bag? I'm already wearing my lunch on my stomach-can't I just carry the bag by the handles?  
I thought I'd just wear it as a shoulder-bag, but as you can see, the strap is too long (and not adjustable). I might just give up and carry my lunch in a paper sack like we did in the stone-age before paved roads and wipe-clean lining in Laurel Burch cross-body bags. 

Funny story about the denim shorts-I bought them in the late 80's at the Gap and my mum was horrified telling me I was, "Too old to wear them." Yeah. My Back Pages, etc. etc. I spent my youth dressed like a middle-aged widow in head-to-toe black. The only reason the shorts survived is because I rarely wore them as they were so out of character for me-an odd item if ever there was. They're VERY high-waisted, even by 80's standards. I'm getting caught-up with the 80's fad for day-glo as well. I had no idea how much I'd end up loving this cheap tee shirt when I bought it (or I'd have purchased a dozen).
*Whines* But I really like this bag...
This one is more a coincidence than an oddity. We drove out to Lake Wanahoo (in Wahoo, Nebraska-no, I'm not making that up) to try and see the Aurora Sunday night (there had been a recent solar flare and the chances looked good). It was only upon returning home that I noticed I was wearing my vintage cha-cha bracelet with the AB crystals. We never did get to see it, but we spent a lovely night at the lake being eaten alive by mosquitoes looking at the stars.
We could hear barn owls hooting in the distance, and plenty of frogs. I did see a meteor, so the night wasn't without excitement. You don't need to get too far outside the city to get free of light pollution in Eastern Nebraska. This was a 30 minute drive from home. 

Have any odd items found their way into your collection that you now love strangeness and all? 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Onion Rolls

 This will make about 4 dozen small rolls or two dozen large hamburger buns.

You Will Need:
3 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons corn oil
4-5 (or more) cups bread flour (strong flour)

1/8 cup poppy seeds
1/2 cup dried onion
2 tablespoons paprika
Mix all in a small bowl. Add water to cover. It should be fully absorbed by the time you bake. If not, strain the excess off.

Egg Wash
1 egg yolk plus 1 tablespoon water

In a large bowl, combine yeast, sugar, and water-stir to dissolve. Add salt, eggs, corn oil, and three cups of the bread flour. Mix well, incorporating the eggs. I do this by hand with a wooden spoon, but if you use a mixer, set it with a dough hook.

Keep adding flour a cup at a time until you have a rough, not too sticky dough that comes together in a ball. How much you'll need will vary depending on your flour, climate, etc. Once you can shape it in a ball, remove the dough to a floured work surface (I use flexible plastic-mat cutting boards as bread dough doesn't stick to them). Stop kneading and adding flour. Instead, go prepare the topping to set aside, and wash the bowl. In the time that takes. your dough should have started firming up. At this point you can begin kneading (or doing French folds if you prefer) adding only as much flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to your hands. Sometimes, I just flour my hands. Once you are satisfied that your dough is firm and somewhat elastic (you don't need to stretch it into a windowpane-we're not making French bread), place it in a greased bowl, cover with cling film or a damp tea towel and let it rise about 1 hour or until doubled.
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F with racks in top and bottom third positions.

Deflate the dough, divide into as many pieces as you'd like, and then shape as desired (for hamburger buns you don't want them too ball-like but rather flattened into disks).

Line two baking sheets with parchment for easy clean-up or grease lightly if you enjoy scrubbing pans. Arrange the rolls and then brush with egg wash. Spread topping on rolls using your fingers and gently press it into the top. Let rise 15 minutes before placing in oven. Bake 10 minutes, then rotate pans on higher and lower shelves. Continue baking 5-10 minutes longer depending on size. Cool on racks.

If you have extra topping it will keep covered in the fridge for a day or so-it makes a great addition to a toasted cheese sandwich under the cheese.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Winner Winner Chicken Flinger!

The winner of the Chicken Flingers is Vix. Congratulations! They'll be er...winging their way to you shortly. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Culottes to Shorts

The first photos were taken earlier in the spring. I wrote the post, and I'm just getting around to publishing it. I've added on a recent set of photos for the second part of the post. As I have several older, half-written posts in the folder, expect to see a few of these over the next month or so as my schedule becomes crazier. Thanks in advance for your understanding. 

So bad, I simply couldn't resist.
 I'm calling these trousers late 80's by the designer and the style, but the fabric has a sun and moon motif which I associate closely with the early 90's. I remember trying to buy a shower curtain that didn't have a sun and moon pattern and finally ending up at Bloomingdales where I paid more than any sane person should for a solid colour, unadorned curtain. Twenty five years on, I bought these trousers. It seemed like a suitable amount of time had passed. Looking at the photos, perhaps that's not an entirely accurate assessment. I'm not sure enough time will ever pass for these culottes to be stylish. Perhaps, like bloomers this sort of thing is best left in the past. Ah hell, what am I saying?! I don't give a toss about being stylish. Hmm, bloomers eh? *Makes mental note to look for bloomers*.

I went with comfort shoes  as I put my poor feet through hell earlier. I promise, next time I'll wear my gold sandals but today these soft, cushioned Clarks were like heaven.  There's a gold sheen to the rayon that doesn't photograph well, but looks luxurious in person.

Outfit Particulars:
Vintage rayon culottes-Goodwill
Twin set-Sears, about 20 years ago!
Clarks shoes-Hand-Me-Ups
Necklace-The Mexican Shop, Evanston, Illinois-early 80's
Vintage embellished bag-Goodwill
Earrings-K Mart
Fragrance-Sun Moon Stars (Had to).

Impossible to photograph. Isn't it always that way?!
 Anyhoo, back to the present. I liked these linen sailor button-front shorts so much in beige, I went back and bought two more pair in black. The buttons are just decoration as there's a zip concealed at the side. That's why they don't bunch or gape. These shorts go in the wash, sometimes the tumble dryer if  I'm rushed. and they always look perfect-no ironing required. For inexpensive vintage-look shorts these were a pleasant surprise.
 I had to buy this dancers brooch.
 This is a Nantucket Lightship necklace. When Danny was little he'd grab hold of it, pop it open and ask (loudly, often in public) if there were, "Any cheese maggots in there?" Then, he'd laugh and squeal pleased with a joke only he seemed to understand. We'd get some looks though!
See?  No cheese maggots!
 Outfit Particulars:
Sailor shorts-K Mart (this season, still available)
Sleeveless tee-K Mart
Cardigan-Years ago in Boston
Shoes-K Mart
Vintage straw and shell handbag-Antique mall
Nantucket basket-somewhere in Massachusetts, but not on Nantucket where it would be priced for the tourist trade. I've only been out to the island once. It was nice enough, but it was March, and freezing cold. That was my dad's idea of a fun weekend.
Earrings-K Mart
Fragrance-Avon Mesmerize (90's version-sort of like Samsara without the floral notes. I absolutely adore it)

Just a reminder, there's still a day left to leave a comment on the chicken show post from last week to win a pair of rubber chicken toys (I'll throw something else in too so it is worth the postage). If you miss out, we'll do another giveaway in September for the yearly State Fair cookbook and other related items. We're both still baking like mad here trying out and perfecting our recipes. I cooked and froze some peach pie filling earlier this week, which ought to save some time later on.
We're back in the heat and humidity this week which means I might be doing my baking at 3AM when the house cools down. That's okay, I prefer sleeping during the day anyway.

I'll have an interesting recipe later this week for some rather successful onion buns I made today. For once, I remembered to write down what I was doing as I baked. Can you believe this was once a cooking blog?

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Reek-O Award for the Worst Perfume I've Smelled in Years

...and the winner is, Vera Bradley Appleberry Champagne.
I thought nothing could smell worse than Celine Dion's namesake fragrance. I was mistaken. Meet Vera Bradley's Appleberry Champagne. Appleberry isn't a word, and this fragrance doesn't smell of champagne. It doesn't even smell of bargain Cold Duck. It smells like Boone's Farm, but only after a teenager has barfed it all over your lawn on their way home from a night of underage drinking at someone's house while their parents were out of town, 
I'd rather splash on some Boone's Farm than risk inhaling the caustic mess that is Vera Bradley Appleberry Champagne. I knew in the first five seconds after spraying it would be a scrubber, but I wanted to do a fair review so I resisted. I made it all of ten minutes, but by then my lungs were burning, and I thought I might need to avail myself of a few puffs off an Albuterol inhaler. I have seasonal allergies that can very rarely escalate to breathing problems, but no pollen has ever triggered such a rapid onset of wheezing as this shit did. I did one small spray on my wrist. One. It took several lathers with Pears soap (my secret weapon for neutralising terrible perfume) before it was (mostly) gone. Oh my god, I don't possess the vocabulary to articulate how thoroughly disgusting this fragrance is. What's worse, it is also available as a scented candle. I've stopped asking myself, "Why?" long ago with respect to fragrances, but this one really confuses me. How it ever escaped the lab, much less made it to market where people handed over honest-to-god-real money for it...well I'm sorry, I can't comprehend it. Burn this noxious shit as a candle, in a closed space? Perhaps if you were training for the Special Forces and wanted to acclimate your lungs to chemical warfare. It occurs to me that Appleberry Champagne would make one hell of an effective self-defence spray. Mace and pepper spray got nothin' on Appleberry Champagne. 

Notes? Are you serious? There's a fake, chemical green apple note followed by cheap alcohol and something woody-probably the pencil shavings the school janitor would toss down on the ground when he'd be called to sweep up vomit in the classroom after Billy got sick from the bus ride to school. The effect is sharp, piercingly so. There's nothing pleasant here, only pain and suffering. Vera Bradley Appleberry (not a word) Champagne isn't even trying to be good or at the very least wearable. No, this is the worst thing I've smelled in years-possibly ever.
The bottle is pretty though, like a quilted Vera Bradley handbag. So why the hell would you fill it with THIS?!

Sorry, lost my composure there for a moment. I can't imagine any circumstances where I'd be willing to spray this awful stuff on my person ever again. As I don't want to expose any other unsuspecting person to Appleberry Champagne, I'm binning it. I have a feeling even the landfill will reject the unholy substance, and as the saying goes, the Devil won't have it in hell for fear it will take over. 

Wear at your own risk-I warned you. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Like a Heatwave

Summer is in full-swing, so out come the Indian skirts, tops, and dresses. In the Midwestern heat there's nothing quite like a gauzy cotton fabric with a great print. The skirt is a bit long on me, a problem I solved with the addition of...
...absurdly high heels. As you do.
 I spent the past few days making candied fruit for Danny's State Fair baking. There's a category for holiday baking, and he's entering a Christmas/Fruit cake. Glace' cherries are expensive and often too dried out, so we make our own by drying Maraschino cherries in a dehydrator. It works really well. I also dried pineapple slices dipped in heavy syrup-another way to get candied pineapple for baking that still resembles pineapple. I made some candied lemon and orange peels as well, and now we're ready to soak everything in brandy and bake it up tomorrow. Danny is baking two cakes-one for the Fair and the other for us. This might be the earliest we've ever baked a Christmas cake, but come November it will be one less thing to deal with. I'm feeling might efficient! I admit it is strange to be doing holiday baking in a heatwave, though I'm sure the Antipodeans will shrug and think, "Yeah? So what's the big deal?"

Outfit Particulars:
Vintage Indian skirt-Goodwill
Tank-Some store in Boston 25 years ago!
Jacket-Some other store in Boston about 25 years ago (I sense a theme)
Handbag-New Life Thrift
Bracelets-Yard sale and Claire's
Earrings-K Mart
Fragrance-Guerlain Santal Royal

Know what else works great in the heat?

A beach cover-up worn as a dress. I don't think anyone noticed, and if they did, fuck 'em. 107 degree F. (42 C) heat index and I'm wearing what I want, which in this case is as little as I can (sorta) decently get away with. I won't even go to the pool as it is warm as bathwater by now. Sigh, it will pass, eventually. I ended up getting a bit too much sun over the weekend but by some miracle I didn't end up with a terrible rash. Instead, I got a great tan! But really, I'm not supposed to be in the sun with all my autoimmune stuff. Buuuuut, I look healthy (ish). 
Unrelated, we spotted the Wienermobile  in front of the supermarket, so we stopped for photos. For the benefit of readers outside the United States I'm providing a clip of an old Oscar Meyer commercial so you can hear the song we all grew up singing.

Personally, we prefer veggie dogs but eh, whatever.
Moving along...big earrings. 
"I approve. Good colour."
Speaking of great colours, this vintage, Italian-made straw bag from the 70's is getting plenty of use this year. I'm happy about that as most years I forget I own it. That happens when you collect purses.
 Belt worn as a bracelet.
Why all the felines? Well, in this heat all I'm doing is lion getting my hat now.
 Damn, it got hot! On the positive side, my tomatoes and cherry peppers are producing like mad. This was one of my best-ever gardens this year thanks to the extended spring. The new potatoes are done now, but they were spectacular-not a bad one in the lot.

I'm already planning out the autumn/winter plantings as I know this won't last forever. I really loathe kale, but some mustard or other hardy greens might be nice.

The heat is expected to be with us for some time, so I might well turn up in my undies next time I post-I'm running out of  cool clothing.
I'll leave you with this photo taken before we noticed the camera lens was fogging over from the humidity. You can see the gladiolas trying to photo-bomb me. 
Hope you're keeping cool (or warm) wherever you're at. 

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Wayne, Nebraska Chicken Show 2017-and a giveaway

We have a new National Cluck-Off Champion in the 13 and under category.
First prize was $100.00 which isn't er...chicken feed.

The local news has some video of Danny with the winner in the adult competition. Joel is a legend, and he was extremely kind and encouraging to Danny. Actually, the whole family are nice. They're the sort of people you wouldn't mind having for neighbours and you'd never need to explain why your child is crowing like a rooster at the top of his lungs! Anyway, the pep-talk Joel gave Danny was greatly appreciated.

We had such a great time-completely worth the two hour drive to Wayne!

 That's my little chicken. I'm a proud mother hen today. I still go to hold his hand, but I have (almost) a teenager and he isn't going to hold my hand. I like how he's just looking at me holding my arm out to him.
We went to the annual quilt show in Wayne, and admired all the beautiful quilts on display. The ladies working the show had to pass my chicken purse around so everyone could have a chance to hold it as though it were a real chicken. That was cute, and I didn't mind. It isn't every day you see a rubber chicken purse, even in Wayne.
I had to take a bathroom selfie at the Masonic Hall because it was like stepping into the 70's. I love the collection of hairspray on the ledge-which makes sense when you see all the roller-sets walking around town. I felt rather sloppy in my sunhat-thank goodness I didn't need to remove it.

 Here's something you don't see everyday...
 This slide (with a metal surface) is a true relic. We had one exactly like it at the neighbourhood park where I grew up. It is at least from the mid-60's. In an era of "safe" playground equipment, it was really surprising to see a slide like this survive. Aside from the serious burns you could get sliding down it on a hot day, there's the problematic issue of the covered part at the top. Children would (not that I have any first hand experience with this, cough, cough) climb atop the covered part and pretend to ride it like a horse. Then, we'd dare each other to stand atop it and jump down. I'm certain that doesn't happen today as children are never left unattended for a millisecond to play on their own.
"You're not a real chicken, are you sonny?"
Thanks to all the great sponsors and volunteers that make the Wayne Chicken Show a great event year after year. 
I bought these toys at the show for a giveaway. Leave a comment between now and midnight CST on the 15th, and Danny will draw a winner from my chicken purse. Good luck. 

Friday, July 07, 2017

Fair Bit of Indecision

I've been going through my wardrobe looking for appropriate clothes to wear for my trip to the island.

 Well, Grand Island. More like an island in a sea of prairie grass, but I still need something decent to wear for the Fair at the end of August. The pies are judged on stage so I can't show up looking a fright. I cannot begin making my yearly State Fair hat until I know what I'm wearing, and I'm stumped. August in Nebraska is beastly hot. I have a vintage Lanz gingham dress from the 50's, but it is not the most comfortable thing I own.
 Photographing gingham is a special sort of hell.

The fact that I haven't worn it since 2013 is a good indication that it isn't easy to wear. On the other hand, should I just suffer through it so I look great holding a pie? Optimistically, if I win a ribbon and get my photo in the newspaper, vintage gingham Lanz is going to make a terrific photo...unless the photographer can't take a good photo of gingham either, in which case, why bother? Looking at the photos I do know one thing for certain-pin curls are not my look! Not in heat and humidity anyway.
I'm considering ordering this dress from House of Foxy, but I'm afraid the crepe fabric will be warm and show moisture if I'm sweating like crazy. The flutter sleeves look like they would be cool, but I just don't know. Such a dilemma!  I should probably order the dress anyway because A) Mustard yellow, and B) Mustard yellow. I'm sure it would get plenty of wear in Autumn and Spring. Do you like how I talk myself into a new dress I don't need? I'm awfully good at that.
Here's a look at some things I wore in previous years:
 Vintage 40's heavy rayon (not doing that again-too warm!)
 2015-Square dancing dress. The hat has dozens of felt bees wired to it. I loved that hat.
Last year's hat had tiny plastic cobs of sweet corn affixed to it. I loved that hat too. I'm not sure how I can improve on it, honestly.
I guess I have my work cut out over the next month or so. I'm not used to putting this much thought into an outfit!

Ignore the haphazard crust-I was trying out a filling recipe. This is my attempt at Strawberry rhubarb and we were all pleased with how well it turned out. I used instant tapioca for the thickener and ended up with the perfect texture that was neither gloppy (as you get with cornstarch) nor "Pie Soup" as I often get with flour. So tapioca it shall be. I've already frozen quantities of strawberries and rhubarb as I know they won't be available at the end of August. I'll be entering around nine pies, which is frankly terrifying! Anyway, that's strawberry/rhubarb sorted.
 Back to today's outfit, I know that this peasant top can always work with a good skirt. I wore it last year with my brown square dancing skirt, so in a pinch, I could repeat the outfit with the identical skirt in blue (yes, I own the same square dancing skirt in several colours-just like the Mexican tourist skirt). I'd rather wear something different though. This skirt is nice, and I love the print, but it doesn't seem special-at least not enough for the fair. The fabric is paper-thin though, which does have some appeal in the heat.
Here's a closer look at that great print. I would love a playsuit made of this print.
It is now truly summer as the giant straw bag has been dug out and out to use. I love this bag so much-I always feel cheerful when I carry it. There isn't a single, serious thing about it. Clearly, I need all the frivolity I can get. More whimsy, please!

Outfit Particulars:
Top-K Mart
Bag-New Life Thrift
Bamboo bangles-Hand-Me-Ups
Bakelite bangles-Both Thrift World
Wooden bangle-Hand-Me-Ups

 There are no words for how much I love these bamboo bangles.

I do think I should look for bigger rings, this one is on the small side.

If you're sick of hearing about fair preparations, I apologise as it is the only thing on our minds from now until the last week of August. I'll try to keep the outfit posts coming so you can just skip over the written content. I completely understand!

*Whines* But I don't have anything to wear!

I'll be back next week with results from the Wayne Chicken Show. I'm sure everyone in our neighbourhood will be relieved when they no longer need to listen to Danny (loudly) practising his chicken call. I know I'll be happy!

Have a great weekend.