Thursday, August 13, 2015

~The Vintage Vegetarian~ Grapefruit and Walnut Salad

It's been a while since I've done any "vintage cooking", so I thought it was about time to try something new! My health is still a bit of an issue at the moment, therefore I picked a recipe that was relatively straightforward and quick to prepare. I selected a salad recipe from a Victorian cookbook that sounded (hopefully) yummy.

 Grapefuit and Walnut Salad

The original recipe

My initial thoughts
Sounds easy enough. Not sure about putting cayenne pepper on grapefruit though... That might either be surprisingly good or really weird tasting. 

The Ingredients
(Makes approximately 4 servings)
  • Two Grapefruit
  • Walnuts
  • 3 Tbsp Oil (I used a light olive oil, but I would suggest trying grape-seed oil if you have it)
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • A pinch of salt
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper

Cooking Instructions
  1. Cut grapefruit into pieces. The recipe doesn't specify what size/shape, so I cut mine into bit-sized chunks.
  2. Measure out walnuts. This doesn't need to be exact, but you should have roughly twice as much grapefruit as walnuts. I crushed my walnuts slightly to make them easier to eat. Add the walnuts to the fruit.
  3. Mix the oil, lemon juice, salt and cayenne pepper together. Pour over the fruit and nuts. 
  4. Chill in the fridge for a couple hours.

The Result

Hmm.... I'm still not quite sure about this one. I was expecting to either love it or hate it, but the end result was just "meh". Not bad, not great. It was very quick to make, with total prep time only being about 5 minutes. But the end result was just so surprisingly bland! The taste of the vinaigrette disappears under the taste of the grapefruit (though I did notice a slight aftertaste, which I suspect was the oil). Toasting the nuts a bit might help this recipe, but I don't think I'll bother to try this one again. I'd rather broil my grapefruit with a bit of honey , instead of wasting any more on this recipe. 

Let me know if there's any type of recipe you want me to try next, or a specific ingredient (or alternatively a recipe that doesn't include a certain ingredient, such as dairy, eggs, etc)!

That's All.

Monday, August 3, 2015

The infamous 3-hour sweater

Hello everyone! I've been MIA for a while due to work (it's exam time for summer students), but hopefully life will be back to normal by the end of the week. I am very much looking forward to kicking my feet up for a few days before diving head first into all the sewing I'm behind on.

The only project I've managed to complete lately is another 3-hour sweater. This is my third one, and possibly my favourite. I love the soft minty green shade of the yarn and I extended the bottom ribbing which I think gives a more flattering fit for my body type. On my last sweater, I made the mistake of not switching back to small needles for the top ribbing (the pattern doesn't actually tell you to), but I fixed that on this one and am much happier with the neckline. I opted for a little yarn tie at the neck instead of a button, but I may change it since the tie doesn't like to stay done up. Other than that, I followed the original instructions (a lot of the "3-hour sweater's" you see use a modified version of the pattern). 

Anyone else tried the 3-hour sweater? (If not, you can get the pattern for free here). I've never heard of anyone actually completing it in 3 hours, but it is a very quick knit. Perhaps the 10 hour sweater would be a more correct name. It's my go-to quick vintage knit at the moment. I'm torn about what to knit next though. Any suggestions?

That's All.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Swim Suits (1926)

Whoops, just realized I haven't posted in a couple weeks. This short little post will have to do until work slows down a bit! Aren't their bathing suits adorable?! I'm not sure which is my favourite. I think I'm torn between the checkered one and the spider web one. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Birthdays and Beautiful Buildings

My birthday was weeks ago, but I completely forgot to post the outfit photos until now. Whoops. Anyways, my parents treated me to a day in Port Hope on my actual birthday. We ended the day of antique shopping with coffee just down the road in Cobourg (the two towns are only a few minutes drive from one another). Cobourg has my favourite coffee shop, which always has the most amazing cakes and tarts, quirky but elegant decor, and classical music playing the background. It's simply wonderful!

My outfit is a mix of 1920's and 1930's styles. I knit the sweater loosely from a 1920's pattern (same shape, different gauge and stitch pattern). The skirt is 1930's in inspiration (also me-made), and the hat is a vintage piece from the 1930's (I wish I had a better shot of the hat as it's my favourite, but it had slipped down my hair quite a bit by the time these photos were taken).

 I also wore my new necklace, which I made about 30 minutes before heading out the door. It was inspired by some 1920's necklaces I had been lusting after on Etsy. I love real vintage jewelry, but I'm always hesitant to wear my pieces out of the house in case they accidentally fall off somewhere. With me-made jewelry I know that I can always just make another one if something happens to it.

I snapped these few quick outfit shots outside the historic Port Hope town hall. Isn't she a beauty?! I do love Victorian architecture. 

I've actually been touring a few Victorian buildings lately. A friend and I went to the local "Doors Open" event a few weeks ago. "Doors Open" is an event that takes place in various towns across Ontario and gives you a chance to tour local buildings of interest. They are often historical or otherwise important, and may include a few private homes! I just love poking about in other peoples houses. We toured an adorable stone church, a couple houses, and the local "castle". 

Trafalgar castle was built as a private home in the early 1860s and converted to a ladies college in the 1870s. The original owner, Nelson Gilbert Reynolds, served as the Sheriff of Ontario County. The building cost a fortune to construct and he had to sell it only a few years after completion, likely due to gambling debts. He was actually quite the colourful character and had a total of 24 children (there were rumors of a few illegitimate children as well). 
Photo of Trafalgar Castle (Circa 1863)

Over the years there have been a number of additions and renovations, but I was quite impressed with how many of the original features were preserved. It was too dim inside to take many pictures, but I snapped this quick shot of the main staircase:

Here are some great historical shots of the castle I found in the local archives:

Some of the additions were added in 1887. A few years later, you can see another wing was added to the building:
One of the reception rooms in 1919. It still looks quite similar, only with different furniture now of course. Check out that amazing plaster work on the ceiling! 

And now for some shots of college life dating from around 1906 to 1920:

The college is doing a great job preserving this lovely historical building. I am so glad that such an impressive building has a dedicated group of people taking care of it. A few years ago when the plaster work needed repair, they spend the time, money, and effort to have it repaired properly by a local master-craftsman. There have been renovations and updates over the years, but for the most part they have been done with a lot of respect for the original building. There are so many local historical buildings that have been left to rot and decay, or have been "renovated" beyond recognition. It does my heart good to see at least some people are still working to preserve the past, while still using the building to serve the present. 

I have such a deep love of historical buildings. Preservation is so important and so often ignored. I have been known to yell at the tv whenever I watch renovation programs where they rip out original features (that's the reason the only show I watch anymore is Rehab Addict. Nicole Curtis is amazing).

I received a book of "interesting places to visit in Ontario" for my birthday, which lists a bunch of historical sites and ruins. I'm hoping to get a chance to check out some of the historical sites while they are still around. I have a bunch of day-trips planned out, but they will have to wait until August when work slows down a bit (I actually have a number of tutoring students doing summer school this year!). 

Anyone else visit any interesting historical buildings recently? 

That's All.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Summer Seaside Fashions (1914)

I just bought a huge bunch of fabric and am so excited to get working on some new pieces for the shop. Unfortunately my blood pressure is still an issue, which means until my specialist appoint in a couple weeks I'm taking it easy and focusing more on the design side of things. I've been very inspired by the fashions from the late Edwardian and early 1920's recently. The fashions of the late 1920's are very sleek and glamorous, but I love the femininity of the earlier designs. There is something almost naive about them, and they have this a great mix of the earlier Victorian style with the very beginnings of the flapper era. I'm also a sucker for unique draping and a large amount of fabric, so a lot of the early designs really appeal to me.

I hope everyone is having a great week!

That's All.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Happy Birthday to Me!

Ok, my birthday is technically tomorrow, but the celebrations have already started! Britt took me to Port Perry yesterday, where we spend the day going into cute shops, having coffee, and buying yarn. I love Port Perry. It's a great little town, with tons of small shops in historic buildings, and there is a lovely park/boardwalk along the waterfront. 

Britt was kind enough to snap a few shots of my outfit in front of the old mill (which has just been painted, and they have added old photos along the side). I wore my "new" vintage nightgown set. These sort of pieces can often be found for much less than the cost of a vintage dress, but can be styled to look dress-like. I am loving the soft mint green shade of the material. Mint has to be my favorite colour at the moment! I paired the "dress" with a homemade belt, vintage hat, and Victorian-style boots. 

On the health front, I am finally starting to feel better. I am hopeful that I finally figured out the cause of my health issues of late. I had a bunch of tests done, which all came back normal, so the doctor basically said it was all in my head and gave me some antidepressants. Oh boy, was I angry after that! Antidepressants are fine for someone who is actually suffering from depression, but I don't have any of the symptoms of depressions other than fatigue (which really is a symptom for just about everything). So I read through the entire Canadian Medical Association Home Encyclopedia and discovered my symptoms match very closely to those caused by low blood pressure. I've always had quite low blood pressure but it's never been a problem before (I did have it checked out by a doctor a few years ago and I was told it was perfectly normal). However, I've eliminated most processed food from my diet and thus likely lowered my sodium levels as well, which I suspect caused my blood pressure to drop even lower. I've measured it a few times over the past few weeks and it was often in the 82/50 range. Yikes! So I've been increasing my salt and fluid intake which seems to be helping. I'm finally feeling like myself again after 2 months of awfulness *does a happy dance*. I'm going to keep monitoring it for a week or so, perform a statistically analysis on the data, and then return to the doctor with my findings. (I'm finally putting my statistics major to good use!) 

Anyways, if things continue how the are, I should be able to get back to work on Phonograph Fashions. I've just started watching House of Eliott (thanks again Elizbeth for sending it to me!!!) and it's given me so many design ideas I want to try out. Now that I'm feeling better, I should have a lot more time and energy to dedicate to sewing. August will be my shop's 2 year anniversary, so I'm planning some sort of giveaway to celebrate! 

I hope everyone is having a great week!

That's All.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Fainting Sofa Project (part 2)

Well, I've been continuing work on the Victorian fainting sofa. I originally had thought this stage of the process would involve some meditative pulling of staples. Something like this:

In reality, it was more like this:

Yeah....Stripping off the old material proved to be much more challenging than I initially thought. Whoever did it last used a really, really good staple gun. Those suckers are really stuck in there! They are actually below the surface of the wood, which makes the staple removing tool I bought pretty much useless. I ended up just ripping the fabric up to help loosen the staples, which could then be removed by a pair of pliers (I found needle nose pliers to be more effective than flat-nosed). 

After removing the back and bottom fabric, I realized there was no way to get the front fabric unattached without physically removing the back of the chaise. That was a lot more work than I expected! I didn't want to risk stripping the screw heads, so I ended up dismantling with a regular screwdriver (rather than an electric one). Once again, whoever put those screws in did a very, very good job. My hands still hurt!

Now that the fabric is off, the wood appears to be pine and has had some repairs done over the years. You can see at one point the back snapped and had to be braced:

I found some small specks leftover from a previous paint job. It appears the chaise was at one time an antique green colour. I'm starting to suspect it may have always been painted, and the last owners painted it brown to make it more "wood-like" in appearance. Based on this new information, I've decided to just repaint it, rather than trying to strip and stain it.

There are also holes along the back that make me suspect that the back was originally tufted. I may in the future re-tuft it, but since the current foam is still in good condition, I'm going to leave it as-is for now.

I am enjoying this project immensely! I didn't think it would be so much fun. The fact it is a lower quality piece makes it a more relaxed process, and because it has already been altered means I don't need to worry about protecting the original finishes. I've already bought the fabric to re-do it, although I may not have quite enough. I under-estimated the fabric a bit to try and save on costs. The sections are small enough that if I run out, I can just buy bit more to do the remaining sections without having a lot of fabric wasted.

Now that I am ready to take it outside to sand it (before painting), the rain has been pouring down. Between the weather and my sores hands, the refinishing is taking longer than expected to complete. It's my birthday in a week, so I'm hoping to get it done before then but it will depend a lot on the weather.

That's All.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Ideal Bathroom (circa 1910)

Isn't the fold-away bathtub the neatest thing ever?! Seems like an idea that would be great in a tiny house.