Monday, July 21, 2014

Why Pink?


The lives of little girls are saturated with pink-- pink toys, pink clothes, toiletries, school supplies, candy.... so much pink that the cheery hue has spilled over into lady hood. 
While perusing the aisles of my favorite hardware store, I ran into a selection of pink hand tools, tool belts, gloves and hardhats, no doubt intended for grown women. I've seen pink firearms, pink boxing gloves, pink camouflage, pink fishing rods (okay, I have one of these, but for the record mine is primarily teal)-- pink anything that is traditionally considered masculine, likely to make us "dainty" ladies feel at home with these "manly" objects (because a black hammer is so intimidating!).




Pink has never been my favorite color. Sometime after I started dressing myself, and had banished my Barbie dream house to the garage, I decided that the color pink was reserved for the frivolous girly girl and the empty-headed Barbie want-to-be-- strong opinions for a third grader. Eventually, all color would be banished from my wardrobe, save for red and purple (always paired with black), and would not return for the better half of a decade.




I still hesitate with pink (sometimes for fear it clashes with my hair) and refrain from buying most of those very pink products marketed for women, but Mrs. Bolton must have liked pink, as did many other vintage ladies, so a fair bit of pink has found its way into my wardrobe





 With all this pink comes the question of why? What is so special about this color that it has become synonymous with being a girl or being a woman?

While there is some evidence of a deep seated, and biological, preference for warmer hues in women (relating to ripe fruit and the health of children), most of the preference for pink comes down to marketing.






We are told girls like pink, dressed in pink as babies, immersed in pink as children and sold pink products as young consumers... and it's been this way for a while, long enough that pink has become part of the female identity.




Chances are, however, if you were born and raised before the second World War, you were excluded from this childhood "pinkwashing," in fact during the teens and twenties of the last century, pink was encouraged for boys and blue for girls. And before that, both young boys and girls were dressed in white dresses!




The post-war consumer culture that brought about so many beloved fashions, such as the frock I'm wearing here, also spawned the idea of pink for girls and blue for boys, however it wasn't until the mid-late 80s that the colors defined the genders. 


Smithsonian.com has a fascinating article concerning pink-- read more here.







Shoes-- Miz Mooz

I've also purchased a tube of pink lipstick whose shade I actually find pleasing (a first for me)! While an eventual purchase of a pink Besame lippy is in the works, I played it safe with a tube of Milani's Hot Pink Rage (matte), which is what I'm wearing here.
I'm also wearing my hair in a center part, which I should remember to refrain from in the future!

And I cannot forget to mention my magnificent moon! This moon was part of our wedding and last month we hauled it from storage in New York to a shabby corner of the yard here in North Carolina.. I've still got lots of work to do on the garden I placed it in (my wildflower seeds are struggling terribly in this shady spot), and I can't wait to fill the space with some of my favorite shade-loving plants! 





So, Pink, love it? Hate it? What's your motivation for wearing it or avoiding it?
Tell me all about it.



Friday, June 27, 2014

Seaside Rags


Wednesday afternoon found me snuggled up against a sand dune watching ghost crabs scurry to and fro from their sandy abodes, regarding me suspiciously, their stalk eyes peering over the sand like tiny dark periscopes. 





Like the crab, my eyes were busy, too, watching the horizon for frolicking dolphins, the beach for its many treasures, and the afternoon revelers, families and fishermen, who were enjoying the day.

While the busy beach may no longer be suitable for strolls with the pup, it has become a post-post office stop for me and a wonderful place to sit and have lunch. 



  



Living in vacation land year round has its challenges; after four years, the novelty of the beach has worn off, replaced with the drudgery of daily life, with chores and work and all the things that one should be doing rather than lounging in the sand or swimming in the salty water.







The beach teaches many things, but this summer I look to it for a lesson in balance. 
Each day the tide rises, washing in a myriad of treasures, only to fall, stranding creatures who become a feast for the shore birds and my friends, the crabs. Where one tide ends, the next begins-- a constant cycle of give and take.
 For too long the tides of my life have moved in only one direction, but as the ocean teaches, one needs both to find balance. My lunch at the beach is a small sliver of time when the tide changes directions and balance is found.










I picked this dress up some time ago during a last minute mad dash at an estate sale. In my haste, I saw only the fabulous teal stripes and overlooked the very sorry state this dress was actually in. Stained, torn and a bit threadbare, I had written it off as a loss, but seeing it, in all is striped glory, hanging at the back of the closet, I decided to try and save it. It's far from perfect now, but I'm finding it just right for the beach.

Dress- estate sale
Straw hat- Burlington Coat Factory






Here's hoping that you, too, are finding balance this summer and taking a bit of time to enjoy the little things and perhaps rescue a vintage garment or two of your own!

As always...

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Flag Day



We've entered that corridor of the year where the months are strung together by patriotic holidays, when days drift hazily along to the song of the cicada and the buzz of the mosquito. 


Wild Indigo Duskwing Skipper on a vitex bloom

Saturday morning found me eager to take a "new" straw chapeau out for a spin which, after donning a favorite frock, resulted in a surprisingly festive ensemble just right for Flag Day-- ah, sweet serendipity.


Outfit Details
Dress- Antique store find. First seen on the blog, here.
Hat- Recent find from Salamanca Mall Antiques, Salamanca, NY.
Shoes- Ralph Lauren

What simplicity frocks bring to dressing.

  




In this time between Memorial Day and Forth of July, when summer is in its infancy, or has yet to officially begin, if you go by the calendar, our yard brims with the sweet delights of the garden. The tree in the backyard is heavy with fruit, plums now and peaches and nectarines in the weeks to come, and the blue berries on our new bush slowly ripen. 








The promise of fresh fruit and the beauty of the yard inspires a long to-do list of tasks and projects to be accomplished, slowly, during the cool of the mornings and in the evenings, once the heat of the day has passed. 



Recently added to my list of projects is the make-over of this vintage bench. Originally painted and decorated for my first apartment in Toronto, the pink paint is no longer suited to my taste or my beau's. Transported from storage in New York by my parents a summer or two ago, the bench has sat on our front porch ever since, and has been the site of many a self portrait.

   



Determined to turn our shabby screen porch at the back of the house into a real outdoor living space, I've made the decision to relocate the bench, repaint it and eventually recover the cushions. My first thought was to paint the bench a nice coastal blue, but I noticed a bit of the original green paint peaking through the pink and have decided, instead, to go with a mint green which is better suited to the oak leaf motif while still honoring the original color scheme. 




As always, my to-do list is long, so it might be some time before I actually get around to painting the bench, or revamping the screen porch, but for now it's nice to dream. 
At the moment, I am quite near to completing another project that I cannot wait to show off here...stay tuned!





Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Linen and Lace



It's that time of year again, the bees are toiling in the privet hedge, combing each lacy blossom for pollen, and the air, perfumed with the second bloom of the season, is punctuated by the sharp scent of smoke from distant burning forests.




This past weekend we paused to remember those that gave it all so that we may freely delight in this season, and all others, and my beau took a moment or two to think on those he served beside that did not make it home.
Odd that we choose such a somber occasion to mark the unofficial start to a lively season such as summer, though perhaps, this year, it is the weather, and not the long weekend, that finds folks rushing to the coast. 

While spring struggled to take hold, summer has a firm grip on the great outdoors and has once again resurrected my greatest adversary, humidity. 
   




Like my privet hedge with bees, the beaches are once again teeming with activity, and this little seaside town is all aflutter with seasonal guests. Having surrendered our beach for the summer, we take to the forest, Sam Fisher and I, enjoying an afternoon stroll through magnolias and towering pines at a nearby, and eerily deserted, park.








While I have acclimated to the ebb and flow of the seasons here, lauding the magnolia bloom while bemoaning the return of beach-seekers, I continue to be surprised by how exotic, yet utterly familiar, this place is; even my yard is full of wonder and, simultaneously, humble reminders of home.


The exotic: A painted bunting adorns my bird bath. This type of bunting is rare in North Carolina; I count myself incredibly lucky to be visited by this vibrant feathered fella.
The familiar: A patch of blackberries, recently discovered, growing in the yard. Berries are a true taste of home and evoke such happy memories of childhood. 




Finally, with the mental clarity I had been missing for the better part of a year (read more here), I am able to see this life and the world around me, and appreciate what I have. And, while I continue to be ever thankful for my ever patient beau, I have a new found appreciation for another friend and constant companion, Sam Fisher. Somewhere in my haze, Sam Fisher, my dear pup, grew into a sweet gentle-dog and has finally accepted this as a forever home and us as his family, I couldn't be more grateful.
 Next month, Sam will turn three and we will celebrate with our annual pilgrimage to Western New York, a trip that is sure to be filled with plenty of new smells,  dogs to play with, and walks in the woods.





While I have learned the ebb and flow of the seasons here the south, I haven't quite acclimated to those of my medicated self. It's been nearly four months since I was diagnosed with, and began treatment for, my hypothyroidism, and while I'm feeling much better, I'm constantly on the look out for signs that the medicine isn't working. While writing this, I'm searching my face in these photographs for that tell-tale swelling, and searching each corner of my mind for fog, fearing the recurrence of my symptoms and a return to the dark place from whence I have dragged myself. At least now I know that, should I find myself descending into that hellish place again, help is only higher dosage away. 



Outfit Details

Head scarf-- flea market vintage (with my nemisis, humidity, back in town, I wasn't all that motivated to style my hair) 
Wooden butterfly brooch-- flea market vintage, from my beau

Bracelets-- fakelite from Fair Sails jewelry cache 

Lace blouse and sweater (air conditioning defense)-- TJ Maxx 
Not vintage but I love it anyway. #lace

Belt-- thrifted
Linen wrap skirt-- thrifted
Favorite worn leather flats (they're turning 6 this year!)





This outfit is quickly becoming a warm weather staple for me; I've worn it, or variations of it, a few times already and plan to pack it for our trip to WNY. I love the look of linen and lace together, as well cream and leather-- very classic combinations in my mind.
I wore this outfit for general errand running and shopping and received a number of compliments, much to my surprise, on my headscarf. It's nice to know that even with minimal effort, one can still look good.




Hoping this finds you looking and feeling well, dear friends!

Until next time,

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Recipe: Best Ever Chocolate Cake

It's rare that I share recipes here, mostly because I'm not very innovative in the kitchen, but sometimes I stumble on something that is so tasty that I just have to share. This chocolate cake is one of those things; moist, delicious and so easy to make, you'll never buy a boxed cake mix again.



Ingredients

1 cup white sugar
1 1/8 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup strong brewed coffee (cold)






Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brew your coffee and set it to cool.
 Grease and flour (I use cocoa powder instead of flour!) an 8 inch pan. 
Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat well. 

Add flour mixture, alternating with coffee. Beat until just incorporated.


Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Cool and top with the frosting of your choice. 
This time I used a quick and easy peanut butter frosting (butter, peanut butter, confectioners sugar and a dash of milk).






When I first made this cake, the addition of coffee concerned me, firstly because I'm not much of a coffee drinker, and secondly because I was looking for something to satisfy my chocolate craving. While the coffee doesn't impart its strong flavor, it does lend a richness to the chocolate that other chocolate cake recipes lack.

Time after time, and with little effort and basic ingredients, this cake comes out perfect. 
And, if I can bake it, anyone can!



Happy baking, and, as always,
Happy Sailing
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