Thursday, June 16, 2011

I love my hairdresser, but lately I haven't been happy with my cuts. It's not her fault, she does a good job, it's just not what I want. It's hard to convey "Louise Brooks meets 90s indie rock girl" to someone who has no idea who that is & wasn't 16 in 1994.

After spending an hour doing some intense youtube research on cutting a bob with clippers I decided that I could do it myself. If I really ruined it I could always get another pixie cut at a salon, and besides it would be good for a laugh. I dug out Randys clippers but the guards were missing. Instead of doing what a sane person would do and finding the guards or getting a new set, I decided that I didn't need the guards. Holding a hand mirror in one hand and the clippers in the other I went to work.

And somehow I ended up with this:

I'm really happy with how it turned out, and surprised that I managed to pull it off. All I need to do is straighten out my bangs. I saved myself a bit of money with this and to celebrate I think some serious headband shopping is in order!

Check out this adorable card on Etsy by Montreal artist Cyerly. This is the same look I had on my face yesterday while cutting my hair.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I discovered Larabars recently while looking for some help to get through my workouts without feeling weak afterwards. I had tried protein shakes but found them too chalky. Boost is good but it's also expensive. Larabars were like a godsend because they were gluten free, rich in protein without being full of crap and delicious. I could eat one (or two) every day.. if I could afford it.

Looking at the ingredients on the Peanut Butter bars (dates, peanuts, salt) I realized that I could probably come up with my own version. A quick search on google confirmed that homemade Larabars are easy to make & just as good as their name brand counterpart.

I picked up a package of "red value" brand pitted dates today for $2.99 and a bag of unsalted peanuts for $3.50 at my local Safeway. I wasn't sure if these were the right kind of dates - they had larger unpitted ones for $15/box but these ones were nice and sticky and worked great.

I used about 3/4 C of dates (loosely packed) and 1/4 cup of peanuts along with a dash of salt and a splash of vanilla for each batch. This is the kind of thing that can be made to preference, more dates for sweeter bars and more peanuts for saltier. Some recipes I found called for cocoa powder for a fudge version.

I made two batches, the first one I made by mincing the dates first and then adding all the other ingredients and the second batch I tried putting all the ingredients in at once. I recommend doing it the first way as the peanuts were not chopped as finely in the "all at once" method. I shaped them into bars with saran wrap and put them in the fridge.

I made 5 bars with just under half the bag of dates and barely any of the peanuts for a total of $2. That's just twenty cents a bar. Now I can indulge in two a day, guilt free.

Let me know if you try making your own Larabars & any variations you make. I'd like to try a version with cashews, and maybe one with shredded coconut.

Monday, June 13, 2011

I have always loved vintage skirts, especially the large circle skirts of the 50s. They are so flattering for every figure and they're just fun to wear. They can be expensive though, and it's not always easy to find a vintage skirt in your size. (23" waist? Maybe when I was 10.)

I wanted to recreate the vintage silhouette in casual, everyday wear. These are the kinds of skirts you can put on with a fitted t-shirt and sandals and wear while doing your errands, or pull on over a pair of tights while on your bike. They are all machine washable & made with solid french seams that will last so long that they will become vintage themselves some day.

Most of the skirts in stock are in size 31/32/33 with lots of stretch. However I would be happy to take custom orders to fit any size! Send a message on Etsy to discuss custom options.

Mavis Knee Length Full Swing Skirt sz 33 M/L

Anna Knee Length Floral Aline Skirt sz 31 M/L

Ethel Knee Length Vintage Fabric Swing Skirt sz 32 M/L

Check out the skirt section in my shop to see the rest of the skirts available!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Be More Creative

It's not quite summer yet but it sure feels like it. I've even had my first sunburn already, which will hopefully be my last sunburn of the year too. Sunburned knees hurt A LOT!

These pictures were taken a couple weeks ago. I am going to attempt to upload photos on the same day they are taken now instead of dumping my camera once a month, being overwhelmed by hundreds of photos and shutting down the computer. It's part of my "be more productive" goal that will hopefully lead to a "be more creative" outcome.

Monday, May 09, 2011

The hardest part about going gluten free was losing pizza. It had been my favourite food since I was a kid and something we ate at least twice a month. (Or week, on occasion...)

Thankfully pizza places are starting to offer GF delivery and there are lots of options for buying frozen pizza crusts and mixes these days. It's hit or miss though, some of it tastes like cardboard and many of them are full of weird preservatives. I've bought bread with a two year expiration date.. that's just wrong.

I've adapted this recipe for Pizza Dough from the Betty Crocker New Edition Cook Book. You can use any gluten free flour, either your own mix, straight rice flour or a bread mix. I use Celimix White Bread Mix as my regular all purpose flour. This recipe will make two round pizzas, I "half double" it, to make 3 pizzas. One big one for my boyfriend and one small one for me.

Pizza Crust:

2 1/2 to 3 Cups Gluten Free Flour
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 package quick or regular yeast (equivalent to 2 1/4 tsp)
1 tsp guar or xanthan gum
3 tbsp olive oil
1 cup very warm water

Preheat your oven to 375.
Mix 1 Cup of the flour, sugar, salt, yeast & guar/xanthan gum. Add oil and warm water. Beat with mixer on medium for 3 minutes, scraping frequently. Use your batter beater, not the dough beater. Stir in enough remaining flour until dough is soft and leaves side of bowl. I always mix up these steps, either I add all the flour at once or I don't beat it long enough, etc. It's very forgiving, so don't worry if you dump in all 3 c of flour at once accidentally. (I've done that more than once.)

Divide dough and scoop it out onto a well greased baking sheet. Dust your hands with your GF flour and press it into shape with your fingers. I use a bit of oil on my fingers too. I make my little pizza into a circle and Randys double pizza fills up the whole baking sheet. I press these fairly thin because they will rise up a bit in the oven. Brush a bit of oil around the edges and place the pizzas in the oven for approx. 8- 12 minutes. You will know it's ready for toppings when the dough looks dry and starts to crack.

Load up your partially baked crusts with toppings. I like cheese and basil and Randy likes cheese, pepperoni and sundried tomatoes. You can pretty much put anything on these pizzas, but if the topping is wet, like mushrooms, it's good to put it on during the last 5 minutes of baking.

Bake for an additional 10 - 15 minutes. I like to turn the broiler on for the last few minutes to brown up the cheese. These make a nice crispy crust that's got the right amount of chewiness to it - that's something that is usually missing from gluten free baked goods.


Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The Best Gluten Free Banana Muffins (They're Vegan Too!)

I was really tempted to call my post "Tasty Tuesday" for some strange reason. What is it about blogging that makes you want to turn everything into an alliteration? I wasn't able to come up with anything catchy though, so I'll just call this section "Gluten Free Recipes" for now. (You'd never know I make a living based on my creativity...)

I've been gluten free for almost two years now and in that time I think I've tried every flour created and every brand of Gluten Free/Celiac Friendly processed food. Some of it is really good.. and some of it tastes like wet dog.

We don't have many GF products in Canada - no Betty Crocker mixes, no Bisquick, no Rice Chex. It's a lonely celiac world up here that involves a lot of baking from scratch. My saving grace has been Celimix. On it's own it's pretty bland, but used as a flour base it's great. Previously I made my own flour mixture but the Celimix bread mix is so convenient and delivers better results. A 2 kg bag sells for just under $12 at my local Safeway. You can find it in the gluten free section if you're lucky enough to have one, or in the regular flour aisle.

These muffins are so good that even my not-giving-up-gluten-for-anything boyfriend loves them. It's a recipe I've adapted from my trusty Betty Crocker cookbook to be gluten free and vegan. You can use regular cows milk instead and 1 egg in place of the flax mixture if you prefer.

The Best Gluten Free Banana Muffins (They're Vegan Too!)

Prep: 10 mins Bake: 25 Mins
12 Regular Muffins

1 C mashed, ripe bananas (2 medium)
1/4 sunflour oil (or your preferred oil)
1/3 C soy milk or almond milk (or 1/3 C cows milk for nonvegan)
1 tbsp flax meal mixed with 3 tbsp warm water for egg substitute (or 1 egg for nonvegan)
2 C flour mixture minus two tablespoons (I measure a full C then dump out about 1 tbsp. GF flour mixes use slightly less than the equivalent white flour measurement.)
1 tsp guar gum (or xanthan gum)
1/2 C packed brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

1. Mix flax egg substitute in separate dish. Set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 400F. Grease 12 medium muffin cups. Don't use paper liners for these guys, they are too sticky.
3. In large bowl mix bananas, milk, oil and flax egg with fork until well mixed.
4. Add flour, guar gum, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir until well moistened. Add more milk if neccessary. I usually have to add one or two more tbsp of milk depending on how much banana I've added. Mixture should be thick.
5. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes. Let stand and remove to wire rack.

Best served warm and kept in the freezer. Microwave from frozen about 30 seconds before serving.

Make a cup of tea, get out a book and enjoy a little treat.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I'm a Social Media Failure

Fail Whale by

I'm finally ready to admit it. I suck at social media.

It's true that you can find me on twitter almost every day, either tweeting with friends or sharing a new listing on Etsy, but that only takes 30 seconds and 140 characters - or less! Of course I then spend the next hour scrolling back in time reading new posts. But I get my own tweets in, I make connections, and I even generate a sale on occasion. Twitter works. It's everything else that I have a problem with.

The Oh So Retro Facebook page is sadly neglected and my Flickr page has seen better days. Even my new Tumblr has already been abandoned, and we all know how often I update my blog. My poor blog... thought of often, written in never.

It's not that I don't want to participate in social media. I like it. I'm with it. I know how to do all this stuff... I just don't and I'm not sure why. As soon as I sit down on the computer I find myself in a cycle bouncing from one webpage to the next, reading and looking for things but not actually accomplishing anything. I can spend half an hour reading about The Kinks or vintage magazines or girls who look like Justin Bieber but can't find the time to upload pictures to Flickr or post a link on my fan site.

I see many women who have shops full of fresh items and blogs full of content and I think - why can't that be me? It's not like they have an extra pair of hands or an extra hour in the day that I don't have. They just sit down and work instead of sitting down with the idea of maybe working and oh hey look pictures of kittens in sweaters!

At the beginning of the year Randy asked me "How is this year going to be different from the last?" and I ask myself this when I am thinking of where I am and where I want to be. How am I going to make sure that this year is successful? What can I do to make Oh So Retro better?

I have a few social media goals that I want to start working on every day, just an hour during my lunch break that would usually be spent wasting time online. My list includes twitter, facebook, flickr, tumblr and of course blogger. How much time to you spend working on your social media/web presence? Do you find it makes a difference? I'm going to get serious about it for a few months to see if it helps. It can't hurt, even if it just helps me break my addiction to blogs about texting errors and animals wearing hats.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Long time no see.

I was a bit surprised to check in on my blog and see that I hadn't written since August 10th. That's almost half a year. I had just taken a little blogger break because I had wanted to adjust the width of my blog and wasn't sure how to do it and somehow it's five months later and I'm just getting around to adjusting it now. (Procrastination is not the best means of accomplishing things, by the way.)

My resolution for 2011 is simple: Stop being lazy. Basic enough that I can apply it to every aspect of my life, and trust me on this, my life needs a serious kick in the pants. More on that another day.

I just wanted to get a start on my blogging by saying a big thank you to Jamie from A Forest Frolic for letting me use her beautiful photograph for my header image. I knew as soon as I saw this picture that it would be perfect for my blog. I found her using the Creative Commons on Flickr which is something else I want to talk about another day. Best tool ever.

So here's to 2011. Let it be productive and happy, safe and successful for us all. (And let's hope that I actually blog more than twice this year.)

ps: Mr Boots says Hi!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Trying Something New - Vintage Inspired Clutches

I've been doing a little more designing and experimenting with my shop. Nothing too drastic of course, I'm not a terribly fashion forward kind of gal. In fact I usually joke that I'm "fashion backwards" because my style is so firmly rooted in the 40s, 50s and 60s.

Last month one of Randys coworkers asked me to come up with a gift for her 6 bridesmaids. She wanted something using her wedding colours and she wanted each item to be personalized. Oh and I had a really strict budget. Panic! I had no idea what I was going to do. I took a day to think about it and came up with the perfect idea that night while I was falling asleep - which is incidentally the time when I do my best designing.

The next morning I got up & excitedly emailed my idea to her - 6 simple clutches done up in navy blue with blush pink lining, each with it's own special button. She loved the idea and I started drafting a few different patterns to find the best shape. I also got hooked on clutches and have now made 10 of them, these little purses are addictive!

The final clutch design, one of the bridesmaid gifts.

These are my first two patterns. I love how both of them turned out and am really pleased to be able to offer some new bags to my shop. I've got a few more to be listed in the next few days, including solid coloured bags for those of you who aren't as pattern obsessed as I am!

Yoko Japanese Fabric Clutch

Ida Vintage Barkcloth Clutch

Monday, August 09, 2010

Learning to Live with my Fears

Stuff No One Told Me #22 By Alex Noriega

When I first saw this drawing by Alex Noriega I probably said something like Holy Shit! It couldn't have been more perfect if he had drawn it just for me. It looks like me, I drink tea alllll day and I am pushing myself out of a deep anxiety rut.

A few yeas ago I went to see a new age therapist while I was working through some childhood issues. It wasn't anxiety based but we did touch on it, since it's such a large part of my life. Agoraphobia is like a scar. You can definitely get better and function normally but there's always a part of your brain that won't forget.. especially if you keep picking at it.

I remember one session she had me sit on the floor with my shoes off and draw on a huge pad of paper with those fat Crayola markers. She would tell me to draw abstract things like where I see myself in 5 years or what would be inside a gift box that I gave to myself. I think I gave myself a ball of glowing light that would give me energy. (I should have given myself a car or a mortgage-free house.)

Most of the things she asked me to draw were simple and didn't require too much thought, until she asked me to draw my anxiety. I remember just sitting there looking at the ceiling trying to visualize what my panic disorder would look like if I could get it down on paper. It was huge, looming, scary. Evil.

I took the purple marker and drew a big giant blob the size of the paper, with a messy, jagged edge. I added horns, to make it more evil. My therapist was asking me about it while I was drawing it and I remember saying that it was just a really, really, big menacing monster. After looking at it for a while I decided to draw on eyes and a mouth, to give it a face. This ended up making me laugh instead of scaring me. My anxiety was adorable! He had googley eyes and a little grin, like he was in on the joke with me. I added little stick arms and legs and that was that. I couldn't believe I had been so afraid of this guy. He was a big scary monster sure, but he was easy to tame.

After that things actually did get easier. When I felt the shadow of panic creeping over me I would picture the monster behind me, tapping me on the shoulder and running away. It still sucked (and sucks) but it would at least make me smile for a moment when I thought I would go out of my mind with panic.

He's been coming back to bother me lately, but instead of worrying about him I think I'll just offer him some tea. I don't think he's going anywhere so we might as well get reacquainted.