Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The View From Down Here

Things are starting to get exciting (messy) around here. We've got one week until we move into our new apartment, at least we think we do. We still haven't been given our moving date yet but it should be Sunday at the earliest or Tuesday at the latest. We've got our friends lined up to help us move, our boxes ready to pack and some polyfiller to patch up the walls that we decimated with artwork and Ikea shelving.

I've been trying to take in the moment and enjoy the last week here. I've moved a lot in my life and find there's always something I miss about each of my childhood homes and adulthood apartments. There are a lot of things I won't miss about my first (and last) basement apartment - the cemetery outside my living room window for one. There's something ominous about starting your day with a view of a burial. As well as the crunchy brown nylon carpet with the cigarette burns & the way cigarette smells come through the vents, the creepy caretaker who hugs me when Randy isn't home, the mouse infestation that said creepy caretaker wouldn't do anything about. (Mr. Boots to the rescue.)

In some ways though the last four years have been pretty good. This was the very first apartment that I got by myself & was able to experience living on my own. I learned how to cook here, in my tiny kitchen with the avocado green appliances and floral counter top.

When it was warm out I would sit on the front steps and wait for Randy after school. I could see his smile when he saw me, waving, kissing me hello. He started his career, bought his first suit, learned how to tie a tie, got a haircut and sensible shoes. He grew up & I turned 30.

We completely share this 500 square foot space, with his art supplies & my sewing supplies taking up every square inch. Every night after supper we listen to music & work. When we finish we show each other what we made and then spend the rest of the evening being lazy. I love these nights. Sitting on the couch watching TV or reading with the lamp light and blankets, the cat sleeping between us. That's what I will think of when I'm an old lady and I remember this apartment. That and the funerals.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fashion Friday #5

Well well... long time no blog. You might have noticed that I was missing this August from blogger, twitter, etsy, facebook, life, etc etc. I was absent from pretty much everything online and off while I worked on a fantastic wholesale order. As one of my friends said, "It's just like having a real job!"

I took a week off once I finished to enjoy the last bit of summer and now I'm ready to get back to business. I've got lots of new stuff planned for Oh So Retro this autumn/winter but that's for another post... Right now I want to share with you:

Six Stunning Handmade Jackets

Just in time for the cooler weather I thought I'd check out the jackets on Etsy and I wasn't disapointed. These 6 are the ones I would most like to have in my closet, next to my black trench coat.

The Botany Coat by brightpirate $80.00
This great damask print jacket is an altered vintage piece in my absolute favourite colour. The short sleeves would look great paired with a skinny chocolate brown turtle neck.

Olive Coat by Little Houses $210.00
I admit I've been smitten with this coat for some time now. The high collar, offset buttons and slight puffed sleeves make it unique yet still classic. Any girl would look darling in this one.

Blanchett Raglan Coat in Vintage Dot by DeNovoStyle $338.00
It's impossible to pick just one jacket from DeNovoStyle, their shop is filled with classic styles and fabrics. This one is my favourite, with the soft colors of the vintage polka dot wool and the big brass buttons. It's the perfect length to wear with your fall and winter skirts.

Little Red Riding Hood by encouragementaward $150.00
Who doesn't love a peacoat? This one is extra sweet in red with it's clean lines, front pockets and 6 big buttons. The best part? The hood is lined with black and white polka dot fabric.

Hooded Swing Jacket by staciemay $231.00
This is a beautiful jacket with a flattering pleated A line shape, big off center buttons and a charming hood. Available in three fabrics, my favourite is the black Vera Wang fabric with ivory starbursts.

Flared Jacket by lunatepetal $185.00
I won't lie, I actually "squeed" outloud when I saw this listing. It's a modern take on the classic grey peacoat with a gathered empire waist and pleated 3/4 length sleeves. The hood is cute too!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Fashion Friday #4

So I lied! Last week I said I was going to put together a list of end-of-summer Sale items but then I saw "Let's Dance" by Mnemosyn on the front page during the week and I knew I had to do a feature on the amazing handmade skirts on Etsy.

The skirt wearing season in Winnipeg is very short so I try to wear one as often as possible. Usually I wear a long wrap or patchwork skirt around the house and when I go out I love to wear knee length aline skirts with bright patterns, lots of flowers and lots of yellow. I have a very favourite bubble skirt in simple grey that I wear often too. You can see some of them on Flickr in my product shots.

Here's some of my favs off Etsy, all handmade, that I would love to add to my collection one day:

Seven Stunning Handmade Skirts:

Let's Dance by mnemosynedesigns $152.00
The skirt that inspired this entry. Beautiful hemp fabric, fully lined, pin tuck detailing. Size 6.

Less Is More in beige by idea2lifestyle $40.00
This gorgeous and simple cotton linen skirt is made to order in your size and is available in several different colour schemes. At $40 it's a steal and is at the top of my must-own list.

Full and Flowered by littleocean $39.00
This one of a kind vintage inspired skirt has a playful contrast waistband and can be worn high or low. 30" waist.

I'll Try Not To Forget You by zacobe $148.00
Super full party skirt made from pretty sateen fabric. Made to order in your size.

Liquid Blues Aqua Patch by randompatch $35.00
No matter what your style is every girl should have at least one patchwork skirt in their closet. You can't help feel beautiful and feminine when you're wearing one. This one is sweet and simple with an elastic waist to fit 28" - 44".

Picnic Skirt by favoritestyle $38.00
This is an adorable wrap skirt in large gingham print. One-size-fits-all. Also on my must-own list.

Puffy Plaid Taffeta Skirt by couvert $135.00
This gorgeous bubble skirt done in plaid taffeta would be perfect for winter wearing, paired up with leotard tights and knee high riding boots. I love the bow placed on the hips and the texture that the plaid pleats create. Truly a piece de resistance!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Fashion Friday #3

I've developed a strange fascination this season with rainbow sandals. It started innocently enough while hunting for a simple two strap flat, you know the kind from the 80s with the little buckles and padded insole. Since I'm a size 10 my vintage shoe options are extremely limited but I found the perfect pair on eBay, in perfect shape, in perfect primary colours and best of all, in my size. They were the kind of shoes you dream about and think that somehow owning them will make your life more fun. And they probably would have, if I hadn't been outbid at the last second. Now I search the internet for a second pair and think about the summer in rainbow sandals that could have been...

6 Pairs of Amazing Rainbow Sandals

Vintage Multi Color Ankle Strap Knotted Sandals from VintageShenanigans $20.00
These are the same shoes but in size 7. I'd consider chopping off my toes to wear them. This pair is in gorgeous condition too.

80s Rainbow Sandals from DewBerryVintage $16.00
These are quite possibly the sexiest rainbow shoes ever made, and at $16.00 I would actually chop off my toes to wear them. Size 7.

1960s Sandals Kitten Heel Shoes from SmallEarthVintage $28.00
Not quite rainbow, this color scheme reminds me of plastic patio lanterns shaped like owls. They are a size 10 and "vintage deadstock" which are two of my favourite words put together.

70s CORK WEDGE rainbow stripe SANDALS from 28Crash $42.00
There are no shoes more comfortable than cork wedges and they look hot too. This pair is in amazing condition. Size 6.

1970s COBBIES Cork Wedge Leather Sandal from Nuttinover20Vintage $17.00
I love Cobbies & this is a great pair although I wonder if they realized they used the Mercedes Benz logo on the heel? Size 8.5. Nuttinover20Vintage's shop has tons of really fun stuff and, like the name, nothing is over $20. Sweet.

70s Rainbow Woven Platform Wedge Sandals from OrnamentVintage $10.00
These adorable rainbow striped platform wedges are from Sears and in immaculate shape. Size 6.

Next week I'm going to put together an end-of-summer-sale list featuring some sweet homemade and vintage items!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

In Which My Life Takes a Giant Leap

Tomorrow it will have been two weeks since Randy and I moved in together. The first week was pretty awesome because Randy was on holidays and we spent most of our time together having fun, staying up late, watching movies, eating ice cream, playing video games in our pajamas. It was basically like a glorified slumber party.

This week has been a little less fun and a lot more reality. We get up at 6:30 and I make Randy a lunch to take to work while our tea is steeping and he gets dressed in shirts and ties. He looks so much older to me these days but then again so do I. He kisses me goodbye and takes his lunch and goes to work and I close the door and am alone. I've wanted to spent my days working on Oh So Retro but so far that hasn't happened yet. This week has been all about getting organized, hopefully next week will be all about settling into routine.

Yesterday was my last day on Disability. I've received it since 2002. I used to work in an office as a bookkeeper, this is what I did after school. I loved my job and I loved the people I worked with and I loved the math and the office supplies and the business casual clothing. I had to quit my job after two years when my anxiety and depression took over my life. I was young and immature and I didn't know what I was going to do and at that point I didn't care. I moved back into my parents basement and slept through my early 20s. My family refers to this time as when I was "sick" - it's not like I had cancer or anything life threatening but I'm still surprised I survived.

I was approved for Disability after my doctor recommended I move out of my parents house. I knew I had to go but didn't know how I'd get out, at this point I could barely walk around the block. Actually I probably couldn't even do that. So I moved out with one roommate and that didn't work so I tried another and that worked out really well. Randy was a friend of a friend who also had a bad roommate and needed to move so we met and rented a little house and lived together for a year. We started dating and he moved out because it's really not realistic to live with someone you've just started dating. Especially when you're mentally ill and he's only 21. It was a bad scene.

To make a long blog entry short, I lived on my own thanks to Disability, and was on a work program which allowed me to supplement my income with Oh So Retro. I got better with a fantastic therapist, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, medication, exercise, diet, perseverance, support, love. I still have a hard time with agoraphobia and I can't work but my depression and mania are totally under control. I am happy.

I no longer qualify for Disability because according to the Manitoba government Randy and I are considered common law. I'm well enough to be in a stable, functional relationship with someone who loves me enough that they are willing to get up every morning and go to work to support me. This amazes me. I would love to be getting up every day and going to work again, and in a way I am, but for now this is good. This is why I get up and make his lunch at 6:30 in the morning, because while some girlfriends would never do that, it's a small sacrifice I can make for someone who has given me so much.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Gluten Free Flour Mix that Saved My Life (or at least my sanity)

Original Photo By DeathByBokeh

The most intimidating part of going Gluten Free has been the flours. The first few times I tried to navigate Gluten Free recipes and websites I actually cried because it was so confusing and I had no idea how I was ever going to eat again. All of a sudden a simple pancake or baking powder biscuit recipe had 14 ingredients, most of which I hadn't even heard of before. Sorghum Flour? Amaranth Flour? Quinoa, Teff, Millet? What??

After several months and some experimentation I discovered Gluten Free Cooking School and Mary Frances' amazing All Purpose GF Flour Mix. Since discovering this mix being GF has been so much easier AND cheaper - this is a low cost mix with easy to find flours.

All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Mix:

3 Parts Brown Rice Flour
3 Parts Corn Starch
2 Parts Soy Flour
1 Part Tapioca Flour

The original recipe calls for Masa Harina flour instead of Tapioca but I wasn't able to find it anywhere so I sub'd Tapioca since I had it on hand and it turned out great. If you don't eat Soy you can sub Sorghum Flour instead.

To make things simple I use cups for parts, so 3 cups Brown Rice Flour, etc. I don't mess around with a bowl, I pour the flour right into a tall tupperwear container and give it a really good shake until the flour is uniform with no streaks. (This is a good way to get out your frustrations about having to be gluten free, shake shake shake, swear swear swear.. damn you flour!) I keep it stored in the fridge.

So far I've made bread, biscuits, pancakes, muffins and flatbread with this mix and it's worked amazingly well every time. I've used it in Gluten Free recipes in place of the crazy list of called for flours, just add up how many cups of flour in total is used in the recipe and use the same amount of this mix instead. If you want to sub it into a nonGF recipe you just need to add 1 tsp of Xanthan or Guar Gum.

I'll include some of my favourite recipes using this mix over the next little while - it really makes the best biscuits I've ever had, with or without gluten! I have a butterscotch brownie recipe I want to try adapting to GF with this mix, my first foray into desserts. It's a mild enough flour that I think it would work equally well for breads and cakes.

If anyone tries this mix I would love to hear about your results and what you made with it.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Fashion Friday #2

How is it Friday again already? I'm sorry for not blogging this week, or tweeting very much either. I've been very busy getting the apartment ready for Randy to move in! This involved a lot of emptying closets, sorting junk, making piles (to keep, to donate) and then shoving everything back into the closets, only in neater piles. Will it keep? Lets hope so. Today Randy moves in and my workload doubles, as we attempt to share 500 square feet of basement apartment with no dishwasher! Wish us luck.

But more of that later - today I want to celebrate fashion because it's Friday and what better way to start the day than by shopping for summer clothes. This week I'm sharing some handmade sun hats to go with the vintage sun dresses from last week. A great dress is only made better with a great hat. (and great sandals, but that's next week!)

5 Fabulous Floppy Handmade Hats

Cape Hatter in indigo cotton denim by terrygraziano $120.00
Terry Graziano makes hats; really cool, multifunctional, vintage inspired hats. Her designs are very hip without being silly, her fabrics are beautiful and her whole shop is very aesthetically pleasing. This is Hat Art.

Gidget by Chiahats $48.00
Anyone who knows me knows that I love vintage floral fabric so it should be no surprise that I LOVE this hat. The bold yellow flowers are adorable and the button flap is a nice touch too. Chiahats has several of these hats in different fabrics.

Vintage Hanky Flower Hat by softshelterhats $75
This girlie hat was made with vintage floral handkerchiefs and buttons and is adorned with an oversized rose. I love the soft shape and colours of this hat. As a bonus, softshelterhats donates 10% from every sale to animal shelter programs in their community. Mr Boots approves.

Carmen by HatsbyDenise $50
This is quite possibly the cutest sun hat on Etsy. I love the bright colours and sweet floral pattern with the contrasting twill tape. This would be a great beach hat. Denise has many classic designs in her shop, it was hard to pick just one!

Retro Fabric Hat by pinksequin $45
Not quite a floppy hat, this wide brimmed hat will still keep the sun out of your eyes in style. I love the vintage fabric, especially that shade of green, and hand drawn flowers get me every time. Check out Pink Sequins shop for more of her sweet vintage style.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Fashion Friday #1

Hooray it's July! I hope you're having as nice weather as we're having this summer. It's been warm and sunny almost every day which means one thing... sundresses! I love to look through the vintage section on Etsy for well priced and super cute dresses but since I'm officially on a spending hiatus I thought I'd share some finds with you this morning.

7 Sweet Sundresses Under $30

Red Polka Dot Dress from TheOwlsGo $18

Secret Garden Maxi Dress from roseredwinter $28

Kauai Orchid Halter Dress from mimisgamine $23

Tie Strap Tied Dress from LittleGirlVintage $18

Yellow Floral Sundress from QsDaydream $25

80's Lanz Sundress from wearitoutvintage $28

Red Floral Day Dress by labellevintage $17

Feel free to share your favourite vintage dresses in the comments, I'd love to see them! I have a lot more saved for a future post.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Monday Monday

I'm not usually a fan of Monday (insert lame Garfield joke here) but I have to say I'm glad it's a new week. The past week has been surreal, I had too much going on, spent too much time online and watched too much TV about Michael Jackson.. which means I didn't get enough done. But a new week is a new start and another chance to work on the never ending to-do list that is running your own shop.

Randy is moving in on the weekend of the 11th/12th and I am excited! I'm also going to be very busy over the next two weeks cleaning out the storage closet (groan) so that there's room for all his stuff. I'm pretty sure that after a couple months in the teeny tiny basement apartment we'll want to move but we're going to try it first. It's nice and quiet here and better the devil you know, right?

My shop needs some new stock but I've been busy working on wholesale and custom orders. They are my priority and actually I like them the best. It's very satisfying to complete a large order and I find the work relaxing. I really love to sew but I find the actual shop keeping kind of daunting, the photo editing and writing listings can be really difficult. I'm currently working on a 400 piece wholesale order which is going to take up the majority of my summer but I'm going to try to put up a few new purses and totes and of course keep my card cases well stocked up.

I'm offering a special deal for anyone interested in a bulk order of cases, buy any 20 cases for $50. I've also got a 3/$10 offer in my shop. You can find more info here.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Boo, Forever

Yesterday @sleepingpoet asked what our favourite poem was, which was a nice diversion from the media madness that is Michael Jackson. I have three poems that are dear to my heart for three different reasons but my absolute favourite is Boo, Forever by Richard Brautigan. It is short and sweet and the first time I read it it took my breath away.

Boo, Forever
by Richard Brautigan

Spinning like a ghost
on the bottom of a
I'm haunted by all
the space that I
will live without

I love poetry and writing, maybe not the way I did when I was younger, when I dreamed of being an english major. (Something I'm glad I didn't do now since I'd be in the exact same situation minus $20k or so...) I logged in to an old old forum where I used to post, many lives ago, and found some of my own poems this morning. It's kind of amazing to me to read these words now and realize that I put them together. I always wanted to make a chapbook, maybe I should.

once swaying, she says no more,
can't find a voice of reason in the
broken floral dishes that
line the dirty floor, and

ohlove, how you did once,
those lace covered legs danced around me
so beautifully, grass stained
to fall on bended knee,
pointing straight to heaven
singing stars for me, and

ohlove, this other side of lonely
is starting to fade, to cave
in on me.
- 2003 (for my grandmother, who had died of cancer that winter.)

There is more here, if you're curious too.

If you are poetry inclined please share you favourites (yours or others) in the comments, I would love to read them.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Third Time Is The Charm.

Hello again blog world.. I've decided to make another attempt at regular blogging. I used to be quite the avid blogged back in the day (when my life was more.. exciting) but had since found myself with little to say. Who wants to read about an agoraphobic girl and her cat? I've noticed a big increase in my tweeting though so I think I'm finally feeling like talking again. Being quiet for too long isn't good.

I've wanted to blog for a while now but wasn't sure what theme to take on, if it should have some kind of greater purpose, like featuring indie sellers or fashion or gluten free cooking or if it should just be a personal blog with a bit of everything. I've decided not to have a theme because I have a lot of different things to talk about - agoraphobic, celiac disease, sewing, starting my life with Randy, etc. The emphasis in my life is on self improvement and finding happiness and that's what I'm going to share.

There's lots of exciting things happening this year - I'm 30 now and I love it. LOVE it. Everything has finally come together for me. I struggled for years with anxiety and depression, stomach issues and agoraphobia. It's been very difficult. It wasn't just an issue of facing my fears and desensitizing myself to panic attacks, I had chronic stomach issues that triggered the panic and I knew if I could figure out what was making me sick I could finally find the end of the cycle I was stuck in. It took 15 years (I had a housebound period for about 6 of those 15) but finally I've been diagnosed properly with celiac disease and after two months on my gluten free diet I can go to more places than I have in years. (Can you believe there was a time not too long ago when I couldn't go into the fabric store? Sadness!) Every day is a challenge, and I don't want to fall back into old habits and become complacent with just getting by so this is my promise to myself, that I will keep trying until I reach my goal of being free of agoraphobia, getting my drivers license and living a "normal" life.

I'm getting ready for another big change too, Randy is moving in with me in three weeks. This will be the third time (the charm, we hope) and will signify the start of our "adult" life. (Better late than never..) We were waiting for him to graduate school and he has and is now working downtown at an architectural firm. We were going to get married but I think we're just going to sign the common law papers for now. You can file for common law status in Manitoba and you then have the same rights as a married couple, can change your last name, etc. One of the reasons is that I don't feel ready for a wedding - not a marriage, I feel totally ready to be married to Randy - but I have a lot of anxiety about having a wedding ceremony. It's silly I know but the thought of having a panic attack during my wedding makes me sad.

It's nice to be honest with myself, for once. I'm happy to be writing again, more for myself than an audience but it's always nice to find kindred spirits who are living through the same situations. It makes this life a lot more enjoyable, and that's the one thing my life has been missing.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Delicious Gluten Free Biscuits!

I've been Gluten Free for one week today & I'm feeling great! I've only had a few moments of utter frustration trying to prepare dinner or find ingredients. I don't recommend trying to make GF pizza dough while someone is eating a delivery pizza right in front of you as your first baking experiment. Otherwise I can't complain too much.

This morning I made my first GF biscuits and I'm happily surprised with how good they are. I followed the recipe exactly, except I substituted flax seed meal for the xanthan gum. I was a bit worried that I would have hockey pucks or have to throw them out but they were light and fluffy and had a really nice slightly sweet taste. I ate mine fresh from the oven with peanut butter. Yum.

The recipe is from the Canada/Kiwi Bed and Breakfast Site.

Gluten-Free Biscuits

1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/4 cup corn starch (or potato starch)
1/2 cup tapioca flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil (avoid olive oil)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup grated cheese (optional, and if using cheddar cheese, use white cheddar, as other cheddars are not necessarily GF)

Mix all dry ingredients together well. Add other ingredients. Mix well. Drop on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake in 400 degree F oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Makes 6 large or 12 small biscuits.

If you want to substitute flax seed meal use equal amounts (1 teaspoon in this recipe) and let the entire mixture stand for 10-20 minutes before you scoop onto the cookie sheet.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Pay It Forward Contest Winners!

Originally uploaded by ©Pacifist
It's time to announce the winners of the Pay It Forward contest! There's a bit of an April Fools twist to it though..

The three of us (I had my mom help out too) liked every story so much that we decided to make everyone a winner! So congrats to fauxtograph, Melissa, Karley, Claudine, bipolarbear, spazspun, lesliecooper, corrinekenner and Taina! You will all be receiving the card case of your choice. I'll be contacting everyone throughout the day.

I want to thank you all for sharing your stories with us, and for giving a little bit of yourself to someone else. Even the smallest gesture can make a huge impact! Thanks also to everyone who tweeted and helped me promote my contest and left comments - it was appreciated and it inspires me to know I've helped inspire others.

I've decided to have another contest in May for a bookshelf bird, so keep up the good work guys! :)

ps: If I haven't contacted you yet, please email your address to ohsoretro AT gmail dotcom! I wasn't able to track down every through their blogger profiles. Thanks!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pay It Forward

I've been feeling very lucky lately. Or maybe it's blessed.

I helped a little old lady in the grocery store a few weeks ago and since then good things have been happening to me. Two other little old ladies had cut in front of her while she ran to grab something she had forgotten, and she returned to find her cart pushed out of the way. Instead of making a scene she just stood there looking confused and panicked. I had seen the entire thing and even though we'd already been waiting in line a while I asked her if she would like to go ahead of us. She was so relieved and told us that she was worried she would miss her bus. When we were standing in our new places she came over to me, put her tiny weathered hand on mine and whispered in my ear that she always meets the good people when she goes out. "Even when I want to complain I don't, because I always meet the good people." It's funny how something so simple can have such a profound impact.

To thank all the good people out there I'm going to be giving away THREE card cases from my shop, your choice. You can keep it for yourself or give it to a friend. All you have to do is tell me something nice you've done to help someone lately. If you haven't done anything nice now's your chance, go out and make someones life better & then tell me about it. Three winners will be picked by me & Randy on April 1st. (No this isn't a joke!) Anyone can enter & you can only win once.

Make sure to include your favourite card case in your comment! http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=10892§ion_id=5050579