Saturday, February 23, 2013

Art Deco High Tea

Monsieur M is one of the most refined gentlemen know.   He collects antiques, mostly from the Art Deco era and dresses in fine suits.  He always looks impeccable and his neat and natty look is always enhanced by accessories, such as a tussy-mussy brooch or a pocketwatch on a wristband.

This wonderful gent organised an Art Deco high tea and was kind enough to invite me along.

With nothing in my wardrobe that is 1920s or 30s I looked to Etsy for some inspiration about what I could make in time with my limited sewing skills.

I found a simple but cute red silk 20s dress for sale by Dear Golden.  It looked achievable in the time I had left so I went a-fabric shopping with Sassy D and bought a blue silk.  After a few initial failures at trying to toille up a pattern and even draft up a pattern I managed to create something that was passable. 

Some of my girlfriends were invited to the same tea and the dresses they made were out of this world.  Sassy D remade a dress she already had, adding vintage lace to it and remodelling the style. 

PoisonedKitty made a new frock with pin-tucking on the bodice and some free-hand embroidery.  She and Sassy D had matching hats, by coincidence not design!

Lovely C was out of this world in a frock that she made based on this one from the MET museum.  She hand embroidered all of the embroidery work on the bodice and skirt and found the perfect material to match the original.  It was nothing short of sensational!

Sassy D picked me up on the way through to the city and as we were early we went for a cup of tea at Aroma's cafe located inside the foyer area of the old Regent Cinema (opened in 1929).  We were approached by a lovely lady who was so enthusiastic about what we were wearing and wanted to share her love of antiques and anything yesteryear with us.

Just on time we went to the venue of the high tea, a Room with Roses on the upper floor of the Brisbane Arcade.  We met up with the rest of the guests and took our seats in the lovely setting of the tea house.   There were all kinds of charming and urbane guests at the high tea.  I was a little shy so I didn't make conversation with them nearly as much as I aught to have.  Monsieur M was there with his wife Madame K.  Sue of Kittys Vintage Kitsch & the Shop that Time Forgot  (a sensational vintage store in the Mt Tambourine area) was there in a gorgeous 30s style yellow and blue floral frock and was sporting a divine (possibly original?) fascinator tilt hat.  Dainty Miss A was in attendance with her good company and a smashing red dress.   Lady P was also in attendance and I must admit I was having a bit of hat envy over her fetching cloche hat.  Dirty Phil was there looking dashing in a white suit.  Cheeky L turned up a little late to be included in this photo of us all.

There was a 'show and tell' where people bought along antiques with an Art Deco flavour.  These included an amazing Egyptian styled ring and bracelet, a ladies cigarette smoking pipe and case, a dance-card case (?) a period cloche hat and Sassy D's mesh purse.   I was envious in the extreme and had to remind myself that the people who bought along these items have been collecting for years.

It was a splendid event and it was so lovely to meet new people, even if I was too shy to make the most of it.  Hopefully I'll be invited again to any future teas and have more time and sewing skills to produce something worthy of wearing amongst such superb outfits!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Lavender Bedjacket (and Fuu)

One of the items I bought at the giant closing down sale of Retro Stop (owned by Atomic Martini Vintage) was a 70s bedjacket.   It is a lovely shade of soft lavender with a rose pattern all over.  I love to match it up with a purple headscarf from my Nana and snuggle with silly kittens.

The silly kitten receiving cuddles in this shot is our Devon Rex kitteh, Fuu.

I feel like I should be sporting fluffy marabou boudoir mules and swanning about when I wear this.  (The pinkness underneath is the watermelon coloured neglige I was wearing).

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Baked Apple Dumplings

Both my parents and parents in-law were due around for a dinner party.  I planned to cook three courses from scratch and decided that dessert was the perfect opportunity to make another recipe from the Wickham Terrace City Tabernacle Girls Missionary Recipe Book. 

Baked Apple Dumplings (Mrs. Cronau)
page 31
  • 4 - 5 apples (Granny Smith are best)
  • 2 tab sultanas or currants
  • 2 tab chopped walnuts*
  • 1 tab chopped macadamias*
  • 1 tab chopped hazelnuts.*
  • 1 tsp isabella grape jam*
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon*
  • 4 - 5 sheets of pre-made shortcrust pastry.
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tab castor sugar

Mix the currants/sultanas, chopped nuts cinnamon and jam. 
 Peel and core the apples.  (The bigger the cored part the better). 
Fill the centers with the sultana mixture. 
Cut a circle out of each pastry sheet.  Wrap this around the stuffed apple so that the pastry meets at the top of the apple like a little sack.
Bake these in a moderate (180 degrees celcius) for 15 - 20 minutes.  
Just before they are done, brush each with a little egg white and sprinkle with sugar.  Return to the oven to finish.  

(Serving suggestions - with vanilla ice-cream or custard)

* These are additions to the recipe made by myself and not part of the original recipe.

My Results and Notes

You will notice that I made some additions to the recipe.  Instead of just stuffing the apples with unappealing sultanas I made a mixture with nuts, sultanas, cinnamon and a little grape jam to hold it all together.  I know this is not 100% true to the original recipe however I have seen recipes from much earlier time period (back to Regency times) which have stuffed apples with a mix of dried fruit, nuts and spices so I felt it was a justifiable change. 

It was a remarkably easy dessert to prepare and bake.    I suspect I could have made the dumplings look a great deal prettier (that is, wrapped more neatly and perhaps decorated with a little pastry apple leaf ontop) if I hadn't been preparing two other meal courses at the same time.  

I peel my apples in one continuous strip like in the photo above.   Whenever I do this I remember how my grandma taught me how to do this when I was a little girl.   After I managed to get it right in one go she advised me that if you threw the completed apple peel over your shoulder it would land on the ground in such a way that you might be able to pick out the initials of your future husband.  I've since thrown many an apple peel over my shoulder and inspected it carefully to see if it spelled out the initials I was hoping to see at the time.   

However, since I'm now a happily married woman there was no apple peel throwing.  Instead I just smiled fondly and remembered my grandma as I always do when peeling apples.

The dessert was well received.  My father in-law commented that it was "like a new take on Grandma's apple pie".  Though I enjoyed the dumpling very much I think there are a few changes I would make next time I make these (and there WILL be a next time!).

1) I will make the pastry from scratch instead of using store bought pastry.  The pre-made pastry had a salty, savoury tang to it and I would have preferred a slightly sweetened shortcrust instead. 
2) I will bake it just a little longer.  I was anxious to get these out on the table and cut the cooking time short by about 5 minutes.   The apple inside the dumplings was softened but I thought it was still a little too firm for my liking.
3) I will try to wrap the dumplings more neatly and use the leftover pastry to make pastry leaves to decorate the top of the dumpling.  

I hope you give this recipe a try as it really is an easy and quick dessert using simple ingredients but it is delicious and is unusual enough to make an impression.   If you do try this out I'd love to hear about it, see a picture or get a link to your blog entry about it! 

Notes on Mrs Cronau
I thought that Cronau would be a fairly unique and distinctive name.  I was definitely wrong!  There are a number of 'Mrs Cronau's in the Brisbane newspapers around the 1930s.   Amongst all of these there are two ladies who stand out because of their links to the Baptist church.

The first is a Mrs C. Cronau who was voted in as the President of the Baptist Minster's Wives Union in 1929.   Later, in 1932 Mrs Cronau left Brisbane with her husband (a Baptist minister) to live in Sydney.   

The second and more likely is a Mrs E. Cronau who was listed as the president of the Baptist Girls Union (the very group who produced the cookbook) in articles from both 1928 and 1939.  It seems she was also a deaconess who made a pretty speech at a birthday party where three generations of ladies from the Kent family were present. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Closer Look - 60s Green Princess Dress

It has occurred to me that the way I do my outfit shots doesn't allow you to see all the details of the clothes or accessories that make up the outfit.   This is a real shame because it is those little details that make vintage pieces beautiful.

This is a new series of posts which show one of my vintage wardrobe pieces in detail with closeup shots and other details I can provide about it.  For these posts I will be using photos without a filter so you can see the true colour of the items.

The first item on display is one I call my '60s Green Princess Dress'.   I call it this because one day when I wore it to work one of my colleagues told me she thought my dress was very 'princessy today'.  The seller had it marked as being a 60s dress

Green 60s Princess Dress

Bought from: Cassie's Corner stall at the Brisbane Vintage Fashion Fair (Bris. 2012)
Paid:  $76
Era:  1960s
Fabrics:  Mint green plissette (?) cotton and white cotton lace.  The fabric is rather sheer (you can see through to the coathanger in the photos below.)

Interesting facts:  I thought the length of the dress was a little short and that the hem looked recently done.  Later I found the exact same dress for sale on Etsy (seller daisyandstella) but with the original full length.  This not only proved my theory about the change of hem length but also showed that it wasn't a home-made piece as I had thought.

Worn in oufits:  here and here and here.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Unexpected Gift Bracelet

Dinner with my landlords (what a stuffy word that is!) is always a great pleasure. Their home is furnished with carefully selected antiques which brings a sophisticated and warm atmosphere to their home. They are not afraid to set their dining table with beautiful, antique china and the food served up is always delicious. More importantly they are both wonderfully fun and genuine people who bring intelligent and witty conversation to the table.

It was after dinner this week that I was having an enthusiastic conversation with Landlady P about our mutual love for antiques and the extra thrill we get using (or wearing) an item that was owned by our mother, grandmother or one of the greats before.

Quite suddenly Landlady P exclaimed that she had a 50s bracelet that had been her mother's. She could never wear it herself because of an allergy to the metal used in it. With no daughters of her own to pass it on to, she asked if I would have it and wear it.

Of course I replied that if she was sure she didn't mind giving it up that I would be delighted. She could be sure that it would be well loved and worn often.

She bought out a bracelet made of sweet baby-bubblegum pink lucite bars on an expandable metal frame. It was so sweet and perfect that I'm sure my eyes went sparkly as I looked at it.

True to my word, the bracelet is getting a wear out today with a light pink shirt, black slacks, pink shoes and a pink feather headband. I built the outfit around the bracelet which I'm sure is an unusual thing to do.

Admiring how my new bracelet suited, I wondered how easy it would be to find others like it. An Etsy search turned up a few 50s expandable bracelets.

I hope Landlady P is happy in the knowledge that her mother's bracelet is being worn and loved again.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

January wrap-up (with outfits)

I feel like January was a good month, despite the days with temperatures in the high 30s (degrees celcius) and then a cyclone causing havock across Brisbane.

My month feels incredibly full when I think of it all: 

  • I had plenty of visitors and a dinner party or two.
  • I went to high tea at French and Mor with my sisters and aunt.
  • I had the chance to dine out with friends and order in with family.  (Best restaurants of the month are Kitchen Sanitarium on Eagle St Pier, Brisbane and The Fox Hotel at Southbank.)
  • I watched the original Superman movie for the first time and was enthralled by Poirot (Agatha Christie TV Series). 
  • I antique shopped with my bestie, Sassy D and fabric shopped for a 1920s dress in the making.   
  • I worked on my 1940s dress-in-progress that I posted about here.  
  • I had coffee with the ever amazing Mae Em.  (Vote for her in the Miss Pinup Australia competition both on the website and on the iphone app!)
  • I inherited some beautiful glassware, china, tablecloths, embroidered doilies and a super-cute embroidered apron from my Grandfather's estate.
  • I went out to the 'Dressed by the Best' exhibit at the Queensland Museum, showcasing dresses designed and made by Gwen Gillam, Brisbane designer in the 50s - 70s with a few of the awesome ladies from the Australian Costumers Guild.
  • I heard the 'Thrift Song' for the first time.  I know!  What rock do I live under?
  • I went out with my best girls to watch Les Miserables and spent half the month badly singing the songs from the show to myself.

I hope you also had a good January, full of fun and memorable events.

I have already posted a few of my outfits from January in my previous post but here are a few others that I wore out and about (usually to work) during January (and early February!)

 Dress:  70s tea dress (Atomic Martini Vintage)
Jacket: 40s silk jacket (Recycology - Love Vintage Show Brisbane)
Neckerchief - blue silk headscarf (Chapel St Bazaar, Melbourne)
 Shoes: Wittner beige peep toe shoes.

Accessories:  navy bangle (Fat Helens, Chapel St Bazaar) and beige beret.

 Dress:  60s autumn colour dress (Treasure Trove, Chapel St Melbourne)
headscarf - blue silk headscarf (Chapel St Bazaar, Melbourne)
 Shoes: Wittner beige peep toe shoes.
Accessories:  green carved bangle (Remember When - Kustom Kraft Show Dec '12) 
& beige necklace.


Dress:  40s nylon dress (DeniseBrain, Etsy)

hat: Black cloche hat (Portmans)
 Shoes: Target black stiletto pumps
Accessories:  pearl earrings and 70s silk scarf (gift from my Mum)

Gwen Gillam Outting

I have some fantastic and very talented friends in the Australian Costumers Guild.  They always let me know when there is an event they are attending or hosting that I might be interested in attending.  A visit to the Queensland Museum to see 'Dressed by the Best' the Gwen Gillam exhibit in 50s vintage style was one such visit.

Gwen Gillam was a popular designer in Brisbane during the 1950s to 1970s.  The exhibit is a collection of dresses she designed and made, items from her store and workshop and a few videos that play on loop.  Unfortunately cameras at the exhibit are a no-no so I didn't get any shots of my favourite dresses on display or the bolt of 50s Christian Dior fabric they had on display (oh be still my madly beating heart!)

If you are in the Brisbane area the exhibit will continue until 24 February.  It is on level 3 of the Queensland Museum and is free entry.

 Here are a few photos of my girls and I being rather silly before going to the exhibit.  I was wearing the fantastic hat that Lovely C had bought for me on her travels in the USA.

I feel really blessed that I have such great friends who share my love of vintage clothes and are so incredibly fun to be with.