Thursday, April 24, 2014

Thrifting in August (last year!)

I go all over Brisbane on my thrifting adventures but sometimes there are some great finds right under your nose.  All of these came from two sales in my local area - less than 5 minutes drive from my house.

A Chinese painted tin, four napkins and a little clipper ship diorama.

With all the napkins I've been buying I really should have a dinner party or two!
The tea tin now stores my vintage hair wave clips. 
And the ship diorama?  Well, my husband dreams of one day having a 'man den'.  The kind of place with a big, solid leather-topped desk, a swivel captains chair and walls of books.  Perhaps a dart board.   I thought that when his dream comes true, the little clipper ship would look perfect in his 'man den'.   Until then, it looks fab on my fireplace mantle.

I'm not sure which find I was more pleased with out of the lot of clothes and accessories.  The sage cropped trench-coat is a now favourite piece in my wardrobe... but then, how often do you buy a 1940s enamel and coral necklace, brooch and earrings set still attached to its original felt board for just $20? 

I also have to admire the navy beaded clutch (not yet used! Shame on me!).  And the jangly bead brooch was a bargain at 50c.  It is so perfectly matched to the trench-coat too!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Beautiful Books!

I am so grateful that friends around me appreciate my interest in vintage items and think enough of me to gift me with pretty and special things they find in that field.

My husband's work friend was helping downsize his grandparent's goods in their home.  One of the items to go was a 1920s book on wearing clothes in colours and cuts to suit your features.  He was kind enough to offer it to me and I was all big eyes when saying "oh! Yes please!"  I hope to take some photos of the illustrations inside and include a few snippets of the information contained within at a later date.  But for now, here's a photo of the gorgeous cover.

The next gift was my bestie, Sassy D, who was at an antique store on the Sunshine Coast when she saw a music book with an Alice in Wonderland theme.  She immediately thought of me and bought it - and I love it!  Each piece in the book is a theme for one of the characters from the tale of Alice in Wonderland.   The scores are simple enough for me to play and are very whimsical.  One day, when I feel confident enough I might record myself playing them on my piano and post on this blog.  But I'm very shy when it comes to my (lack of) piano skills so that might be a while coming!

Another book was a gift from Lady L.  She bought this from a sale of old library books, thinking of how much I'd enjoy it.  She was right.   I commented on how beautiful the cover was before she had a chance to tell me it was a gift for me.  I also love the hark back to a time when people created their own entertainment at home and parties using their own musical skills.  Again, the music in this book is simple enough for me to play and sing.

Scout-Mama C knew I would love this old cook book with a careful selection of recipes guiding a beginner through their early cooking adventures.  The pancake recipe in this was wonderful...

Still in a cookery theme, my long-time friend Ja Ce saw an old Queensland School Manual for Home Economics.  These are such wonderful basic recipes - designed to teach young people to cook.

Lastly I received this beautiful manual of manners in the 19th century from my lovely friend, Landlady P last night.   It has some of the most darling fashion plates and photos from the 1800s throughout.   My 2014 project list included making a 1860s outfit so this will be some good inspiration!

 It is a strange feeling when people recognise my love of something and care enough to gift me with items they think I'll love.  When the item belonged to a loved one I feel somehow great and humble at the same time - proud that I've been given charge of something that meant something to that person. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Ginger Nuts - Two Fails.

Ginger Nuts (Miss Jean Murray)
pg 19
  •  226g butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 tsp ground ginger
  • 4 tab golden syrup
  • 2 cups S. R. Flour
Grease a cookie tray and preheat the oven to a 180 degrees C.  Cream the butter and sugar.  Add the ground ginger and mix through.  Add golden syrup and flour and mix through on a moderate speed.  

Drop teaspoons of the mixture onto greased trays.  Bake for 15min.

Now this recipe is simple enough - so I'm still a bit sour that I messed it up so badly twice over.   

Let me explain....

 The first time I attempted this recipe I thought I'd be smart and use the Thermomix I had on loan.  For those not in the know, a Thermomix (TM) is a very fancy kitchen device which can mill, mix, weigh and heat all in the same bowl.  I thought using the TM to make the recipe might help with reducing mess.   I weighed ingredients in the TM then used it to cream and mix the ingredients (adding in order according to the recipe).   All seemed fine.  The batter was the right consistency for drop cookies, that is, a little firm but soft enough to spoon onto trays. 

But then 5 minutes into cooking time I smelled disaster.  The cookies had melted into discs, merging with each other and were entirely burned underneath.

These were inedible - and it was the same for each batch.   I considered that the TM had been a bit overzealous in creaming the mixture and the friction of it's strong motor had heated the butter too much causing the spread.

(Note - this kind of spread of cookie dough is often caused by the butter being too warm or the tray being to warm.   I put these cookies onto cold trays that were not pre-heated so that meant it was the butter.  I had put the butter directly from the fridge into the TM so that meant that it was the TM that had warmed it.)

So - I tried a second time, on a different day, but this time I used normal scales and electric mixer - but only half the ingredients.

And oddly, I got an entirely different batter mixture.   I had to press the crumbly mixture into balls and flatten them on the baking trays - which is not consistent with the recipe at all.

I forged on regardless and ended up with some spectacularly tasty cookies.  They had a beautiful cracked appearance and were very firm on the outside but softer inside.  But I can't help think that I somehow messed something up and this wasn't how they were 'supposed to be'. 

About Miss Jean Murray

The lovely lady from the Tabernacle Baptist Church who met with me didn't have any information about Miss Jean Murray - so I'm left to find what I can through accessible public records like online newpapers to find any hint about this particular girl.

And there were plenty of mentions of Miss Jean Murrays in the Brisbane Courier Mail in the 1930s/40s!  There was a Miss Jean M. Murray and a Miss Jean E. Murray and so forth!  With so many Miss Jean Murrays it was impossible to determine which was our Jean.

I now know that the cookbook was published in 1941 and that the recipes were donated by ladies active in the church, not from further afield so I limited my articles to those in Brisbane in 1935 - 1944.

There was mention of a Miss Jean Murray who was part of the Fairholme Old Girls' Association.  She spent an evening knitting for the war effort in Clayfield according to this article in September 1940.   (As a bonus, the article underneath is instructions on how to crochet a really cute turned turban!  I'd like to give it a go!)

There was also mention of a Miss Jean Murray who acted in two 'Scottish plays', one in 1939 and the other in 1941

A Miss Jean Murray hosted an luncheon at Rowes for her friend Miss Barber to celebrate her upcoming wedding in 1940.  With pink rosebud sprays on the table too!    I have never considered Rowes as a lovely place to entertain - it's since become a nightclub - but this is the second mention found during this project of dainty celebrations held at that venue. 

The most exciting article for me was one that had a romantic story and even a photo!   Could this be the face our Miss Jean Murray?  Though I'd like to think so, the story has her marrying in the Ann Street Presbyterian Church and I find it unlikely that our Jean Murray of the Baptist Church would marry in a different church, so close to her own.

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Friday Fiesta

Today's outfit had a bit of a fiesta feel... Perhaps in celebration of another work week over?

Top: Lemon peasant blouse (thrifted)
Skirt:  70s pleated cotton skirt (Atomic Martini Vintage)
Shoes:  red suede platform sandles (Whittner)
Accessories: wide red suede-look belt (thrifted), carved plastic bangle (Remember When), green headband, red coral necklace.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Family Photos.... from the Turn of the Century

My Mum sent through these two photos of my great grandmother, Myrtle, from her childhood and then again with her sisters in 1916.   I definitely got the family nose...