Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tea, Punch and Flummery Flops!

A while ago now, I played hostess to a tea party for a bunch of my girlfriends.  It was months ago now but never too late to blog a thing. Right?

The venue:
I held the party in my home, which is a beautiful old Queenslander house.  Though it was a little bit squishy, we all fit into the dining area with a table full of food and a sideboard for drinks and crockery.

The guests:

I had some of my favourite girls around, nine guests in total.  The only rule I specified on the invitation was that a dress was mandatory!   This wasn't a problem for the dress veterans who came in their own flavour of fashion.  We did have one guest who was wearing a non-historical-costume dress for the first time in her adult life bought especially for the day. (Insert shocked face here)

Sassy D wore a gorgeous black vintage hat with a 50s frock and cardi while her sister Classy K was beautiful in 20s style.  PoisonedKitty wore a very cute outfit in the gothic lolita style (a Japanese street fashion) while Little L wore her own personal brand of vintage meets sweet gyaru style.  I tried to steal her hat... but she was too protective of it for me to get close.

The menu:
Drinks included  Stockholm Blend tea (my favourite!) and punch made from the recipe I've already blogged about here.

Tea was served in a fine china tea service I inherited from my Nana with a Japanesque pink carnation pattern on the side (with a few non-matching trios to make up the numbers beyond what the tea service catered for!).

Punch was served in a large punch bowl my sister had inherited from my Nana and kindly loaned to me for the day with dainty sized matching punch cups.

Food included afternoon tea favourites like egg and lettuce sandwiches, brie and cranberry sandwiches, chocolate cake with chocolate ganache icing and scones with lemon and vanilla jam (generously bought along by a friend), Parmesan and tomato pesto pinwheels, lavender shortbread and a flummery charlotte.  There was also a gorgeous berry tart generously bought by another guest.

The outfit:

I've already posted a full shot of my outfit for the day (a while ago, just after the party happened).

I wore a navy dress with red and olive paisley print over it.  My favourite brooch, a Victorian-era bar brooch with little pearls and rubies pinned the front flap of my dress closed.  I was still sporting my neat and newly cut hairdo, topped with a midnight blue hat which I'd scored for $5 from Retro Stop when it was closing down. 

Black gloves and black pumps completed the outfit.

The Great Flummery Flop:
I had hopes and dreams pinned on the flummery charlotte.  I had found the recipe in one of my old 50s cookbooks and loved the picture of the dessert.  I was charmed by the idea of serving such an unusual and sweet looking dessert.  In my mind's eye, guests would enter, appreciate the gorgeous pink flowers and then be distracted by the flummery charlotte beside it.  They would be intrigued and would eagerly want to try a bit of that tasty treat. "Oh! I really must get the recipe! What is it called again!?"

Yes. My imagination really is like that.  

It seemed simple enough.  lady finger biscuits, banana slices across the bottom and then 'flummery' filling ontop.  The recipe didn't include how to make flummery - it only called for an instant flummery mix made by a company that no longer exists.   My mum offered me a recipe to make my own flummery but I had 'better ideas'.  I would substitute instant chocolate pudding, the kind you just add milk, whip and then chill.  Easy peasy.  Instant dessert success!

In reality, the dessert looked like some unimaginably foul brown mix loaded ontop of unevenly stacked biscuits.   Guests admired the flowers but then turned suspecious eyes on the ugly duckling dessert beside it.   Only I and one other person tried it.  It tasted awful.  (Note to self: Never have instant chocolate pudding again.  That which tastes awesome to a kid is not necessary awesome to an adult's palate.)

Now is the perfect season to hold a tea party, with temperate weather and that lull before Christmas parties start in earnest.   How about you play hostess at your own party soon.... just forget about the flummery charlotte! 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Garage Sale Trail 2013

"Now in its second year in Queensland, Garage Sale Trail is supported by the Queensland Government and eight local councils around the state. The event provides an irresistible opportunity for Queensland communities to come together on the same day - Saturday 26 October - to de-clutter, make or donate some extra cash and form new neighbourly connections."

I first heard about the Garage Sale Trail when scanning through a newsletter from my local council.  The hippie, bargain hunter and vintage treasure seeker in me all cheered simultaneously.

What a great event for councils to support!  Sellers get to de-clutter and earn a little bit of cash, buyers get a treasure and a bargain and councils (and everyone really) get the benefit of less things going unnecessarily to landfill.  Win-win-win!

My good friend and fellow blogger Melissa Loh suggested we go on the trail together and I was super keen to have such fine company along the way.   We both scoured the Garage Sale Trail website for promising sales and ended up with a decent trail of 19 - there could have been many more but it got a little overwhelming with so many to choose from.

We did our pre-event preparations like seasoned veterans.  We printed out our trail and map, numbering and colour-coding everything by open times.

 We created a 'must-take list':
  • tea
  • muesli bars
  • measuring tape
  • smartphones for navigation
  • car phone charger
  • shopping bags
  • plenty of cash! 

With all of our groundwork done - there was nothing left to do but get a good night sleep and set our alarms for 'rediculously early'.

It was an early start to the day.  We hit our very first sale at 6am.  The lovely seller had advertised her sale as being a "clothing hoarder's de-stash" and her sale lived up to the promise.  Mel and I both walked away with dresses and I snagged a vintage hat and a vintage white cardigan.

We hopped from sale to sale, sometimes walking away after a brief browse, sometimes staying 15 minutes.   We sometimes oooohed.  Other times ewwwwed.  Sometimes ummmmmmed and occasionally ahhhhhed with the starry eyed look that treasure hunters get when they find the motherload of loot.

We stopped off for breakfast at Bungalow in Hawthorne for breakfast and had a cold-drink and toilet stop at the Ithaca Bowls Club in Redhill.  We called it a day just after noon and went home to check over our collected goods. We visited a grand total of 11 sales!

My goodies included....

Sewing goodies:
  • a 1927 Needlework manual which includes detailed instructions on drafting up patterns
  • a 1940s glove knitting pattern book (though I had told myself that buying more knitting patterns was banned)
  • 2 x 50s sewing patterns
  • a 1920s Butterick pattern. (The BEST buy of the day). 
  • brown and white gingham.  I have plans to make this into an embroidered skirt or apron.
  • buckles buckles buckles!  Some of these I suspect are bakelite. 
  • four little blue buttons in the shape of flowers.   

Homewares and stationery goodies:
  • A Johnson Brothers village scene plate.  Future breakfasts will be in style!
  • A pretty cottage scene tea towel.
  • A white piece of linen - edged and ready for some embroidery work.
  • A fake leather letter writing keeper with pockets for envelopes, stamps and paper.
  • A tin full of postcards of bohemian Paris poster images.

Magazines and books:
  • A promotional cookbook from what looks like the 20s. 
  • A 1954 Home Journal (sans patterns)
  • 2x 1953 Homes and Gardens magazines.
  • 2x 1970s Vogue Pattern magazines - no patterns but some fabulous styling photos!

  • Red suede-look belt.
  • Teal beaded purse.
  • a olive and cream pheasant scarf.
  • 2x embroidered handerchiefs
  • a dragonfly brooch
  • a little vintage mountaineering brooch
  • 60s leaf-look hat.

  • 1960s chiffon party dress
  • white frilly skirt 
  • beige skirt (sadly this doesn't fit)
  • beige and white striped 70s does 40s shirtwaist dress
  • vintage white cardigan - I have plans to bead the heck out of this!
  • a navy and white embroidered skirt and top set. 
  • a brown and blue striped 70s dress. 

The cheapest purchase:   the white frilly skirt was in a 'giveaway' box.  $0.
The most expensive purchase:  the 60s party dress which was $25.
The best bargain: the 1920s sewing pattern which was $2. (I kid you not.)
The worst 'bargain':  this is a toss up between the beige skirt which was $4ish - but doesn't fit and the dragonfly brooch which is missing a gem.  At the time I thought I would find a replacement but now I am not so certain.

The Garage Sale Trail is an annual event and I already look forward to next year's run!

So lovely readers, did any of you hit the Garage Sale Trail yourself?  Did you pick up any bargains or treasures?

Late Winter Outfit

I'm playing catch-up with blogging at the moment so though it's now Spring in Brisbane, this outfit was worn for a day in the office in late Winter. 

Skirt:  Brown, beige and chocolate Jazten Skirt (Love Vintage Fair '13)
Blouse: Beige blouse (selfmade Simplicity 5885 60s pattern
Cardigan:  Black frilled cardigan (Target)
Shoes: Black strapped pumps (Target)
Hat: Vintage black fur-feel hat (Cassie's Corner, Love Vintage Fair '12)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Has Anybody Seen My Gal?

Before putting this movie into the DVD player I knew only three things about this film.

1. It was a musical.
2. It was based in the 20s.
3. It had Rock Hudson in it which automatically qualified it as worth watching.

I had admired Rock Hudson's performance and handsome, manly demeanor in Pillow Talk, which I reviewed earlier this year and had no objections to seeing his gorgeous dark eyes and solid chin line on my screen again!!

The basic plot of the movie?  Well... let's explore this by way of a 'choose your own adventure' pathway.

It is the heady days of the early 1920s.  You are an old man with a substantial fortune, one of the largest in America.  A bit of a hypochondriac, you believe yourself to be close to death and keep yourself locked up in your big ol' mansion.  On this particularly fine day you invite your lawyer around to finalise your will.   You have no family whatsoever of your own so the question of who to entail your fortune on is a big one.

Do you leave all your fortune to:

a) A charity caring for orphans
b) The national art gallery
c) The unknown living family of the woman who scorned your proposal all those years ago.  After all - her rejection was what prompted you to leave and make your fortune. 

We'll chose C!

Your lawyer tells you this is a foolhardy idea. After all, what are these people like?  What will they do with your money?  Perhaps they're a lot of filthy bootleggers who will use your fortune to peddle alcohol to the masses!  Your doctor turns up and irritates you immensely by insisting that you're not on your deathbed and that you should get a hobby - like painting.  

Do you choose to:

a) heed both their advice and use that fabulous fortune to travel to Europe and study painting under the great artists of the time.
b) travel to the town where you grew up so you can meet the family you intend to give your fortune to, instill yourself in their home by sneaky means and use this close proximity to learn about the family and their foibles.
c) curl up in bed and sign off on the will. 

Hmmmmm.  Tricky decision.  I'm partial to option A but option B sounds like a much better movie plot!  Lock in B Eddie!  (Sorry non-Australian readers- a bit of an Aussie TV reference there).

Everything is going well.  A little too well.  The charming family you have infiltrated are nice people, particularly their sweet teenager daughter Millie who reminds you so much of her grandmother who you dated.  It's almost time that they'll kick you out of their home and you'll have to return to your lonely old rich life. 

Oh dear!  What to do?!

a) leave town, use that fabulous fortune to travel to Europe and study painting under the great artists of the time
b) go home, sign off on the will entailing your fortune on these good folk and leave it at that.
c)  arrange for your lawyer to visit, providing a cheque for $100, 000 anonymously donated to the family.  Then stick around town to spy on the family to gauge how this sudden mysterious wealth changes them.  After all, you're filthy rich.  Your conscience can afford to meddle cruelly with others lives...

Let's face it.  C is too tempting an option and it would make for tension in the storyline of the film.

There you have it.... the basic premise of "Has Anybody Seen My Gal?"

Despite the old rich protagonist being a bit of a self-important jerk at times, I really enjoyed the movie, it's plot, dialogue, the actors and most of all, the music.   There were some fab songs which were woven into the movie in a way that didn't feel like the usual  musical routine of "oh! Stop the acting!  Stop the dialogue!  Stop the movie!  We're going to put a song in here!". Lastly,  I'm pleased to announce that Rock Hudson didn't disappoint.  Not in the slightest!

Historical costumers be warned!  Like most old films, the historical accuracy of the costumes is.... lacking.  I did love some of the outfits worn by Millie, played by gorgeous actress Piper Laurie.  Pseudo-20s outfits with cloche hats abounded.  More than her outfits I loved her hairstyling from the curled and shaped back to the darling feathered fringe.. oh my!

If I were to use one word to sum up this movie, it would be "fun".  

Friday, October 18, 2013

Awesome Hat Day

A conversation with a workmate about our fabulous fur hats led to the design of a fundraising day at work called "Awesome Hat Day".  

The idea was that people wear hats and donate a gold coin (or just donate if they be hat-shy) and all funds collected would go to Blue Care.

Blue Care (more commonly known as the Blue Nurses) is a not-for-profit organisation run by the Uniting Church to help improve the lives of the infirm and elderly.  They help people in a number of ways including at-home visits by the Blue Nurses, community programs to help elderly connect and the operation of a number of nursing homes.   Their at-home visits allow many elderly people to remain in their own home rather than be relocated to nursing homes.

On the day I took in a hat-box full of hats for those who didn't have one or forgot.  We raised a decent little sum of $160 for Blue Care and I got the chance to wear my super-amazing 60s soft sheepskin hat.

I knew that a big furry hat required an outfit to match.  You can't wear a hat like that with jeans and sneakers...

Dress: Black 40s dress (Denisebrain Etsy)
Cardigan:  Black frill-collared cardigan (Target)
Shoes: Oxblood red heeled boots (Joanne Mercer)
Accessories: AWESOME HAT - a 60s brushed sheepskin hat, pearl earrings, silver and pearl brooch, navy and polka-dot scarf (all thrifted except the earrings).