The Only Kind of Onion I Like

The wonderful Alton Brown said onions are one-dimensional and insinuated they're overrated, and I couldn't agree more. Why use onions when there are more interestingly flavoured scallions, garlic, and leeks around? But we must admit that the shape of the onion is quite attractive, if not the flavour thereof. Pleasingly round and plump about the middle, the top tapers into a lovely and graceful point at the top, and the veggie can sit demurely on its mostly flat bottom (belying its palate-destroying flavour, but that's another blog, yes?)

Artist Karen of Essential Elements agrees that the onion has an attractive silhouette, judging by the number of beautiful beads she chooses in this shape for her jewelry. A fine example of this are these very pretty sky swirls earrings available in her shop.

Made of handblown Venetian glass holloware, they are coloured with delicate, sky-blue swirls alternating with very lively cobalt blue swirls going from the crown to the bottom of the bead. Personally, I'm fascinated by the idea of hand-blowing something this small and delicate; I've seen many glass-blowing exhibitions in my day, but usually, they're larger pieces like vases, bowls, pitchers, and art pieces. The glass beads these earrings are made of are art in miniature (here is another pair, more playfully rendered)! Crowning and at the bottom of each lovely bead is a bali silver bead cap.

What's wonderful about Essential Elements' earrings is that Karen will switch the earrings out from her standard slipless french hook earwire to a leverback, post, and yes, even a clip-on earring! My mom only wears clip earrings, and hasn't bought any in years because it's so difficult to find pretty ones; fortunately, thanks to independent artists like Karen, this is becoming less of a problem.

At the moment, Essential Elements is having a Mother's Day special, and all jewelry is 10% off until May 4th - now's the time to snap up some fun and beautiful jewelry for yourself, Mom, or a friend. Gift wrap and boxes are available upon request, and an attempt will be made to ensure appropriate paper, as well.

There's a really broad range of price points at Essential Elements, and a broad range of styles, too - from whimsical and fun to classic to very elegant and beautiful. It's one of those shops that is extremely hard to feature just because I can't choose a favourite without much internal confusion. ;) Enjoy perusing her shop - where onions are decidedly not one-dimensional and overbearing.


Fun Fridays: A Fortunately Stylish Girl

It's your good fortune (har, har) that I couldn't decide between the two items featured here today. One's just good plain fun, the other stylish and fun, but it's my hope you enjoy both of them equally. Befitting the 'fun' theme, you can snap up both goodies for yourself or a friend for under $15. It's almost like being a little kid sometimes, here in my head...


First up are these terrific fortune cookie earrings from Juanita Tortilla. Yup, fortune cookies. Everyone seems to love cracking these cookies open, nibbling on a few pieces, and reading their fortune; lately, I've been seen them pop up covered in chocolate with sprinkles or chocolate chips on them. Made of felt, these $6 earrings are available in clip-on as well as for pierced ears, and can be made for you in just about any colour you like, from the classic cookie colour to red, purple, yellow, green... I can't imagine putting these on and being bummed out for long. What a fun thing to wear!

Fortune cookies are an icon in Amrican culture, but I never really knew the history about these fun treats until I tried finding out this afternoon. The giving of moon cakes, made of lotus nut paste, are used to celebrate the New Year, harvest, and other special occasions. In the 13th and 14th century, when China found itself occupied by the Mongols - Mongols who didn't like lotus nut paste, as it turns out. When the Chinese patriots started planning a revolution, they decided the best way to transmit messages to fellow revolutionaries was to replace the yolk of the popular Moon cakes with secret messages instead! As the Mongols didn't like the lotus nut paste included in the cakes, there was no fear of the message falling into the wrong hands. As a result, the uprising successfully ran the Mongols out of China and paved the way for the forming of the Ming Dynasty, and the tradition of using cakes to pass messages along was born. Tasty and useful - what could be wrong with that?

Today's fortune cookies may have first appeared when Chinese '49ers exchanged biscuits containing cheerful messages with one another instead of the traditional Moon cakes, which were obviously much harder to create during the conditions of the gold rush. The biscuits became popular, and as the Chinese settled into the San Francisco area 'fortune cookies' became nearly ubiquitous. There's a lot of debate about the true origins of the fortune cookie, to tell the truth, and they may have actually been invented by a Japanese American in San Fran, but none of this changes the fact that to most people, fortune cookies signal Chinese food and good times.

(Interestingly, fortune cookies were mostly unheard of in China until 1993, when Wonton Food Company started making the cookies in China - but sales didn't do well at all, and the factory was shut down. The Chinese don't really like sugar, feeling that too much of it dulls the palate.)

Now, these aren't even a wearable item, but they're so fun I decided to feature it anyhow. It's difficult to find a keyfob that's not tacky, cheesy, or boring - but Leslie Ann Black of Black Bags has solved that problem for us by offering these sophisticated key fobs featuring old Vogue pattern fabric! Definitely an improvement upon the stuff you'll find at the drug store (or wherever one buys key fobs these days), these $7 fobs are 4.5" x 1.25" wide sewn fabric firmly attached to a silver ring for your keys. (She has several styles, including fairy tales, graphic designs, and this sweet bluebird fob, which I think is going to be my favourite.) Having one of these hanging from my keychain instead of a boring plastic fob with a snarky remark on it is far more my style!

Finally, yesterday I gave you a heads-up on crafters doing some wonderful charitable things for the families of the VT victims and a fellow crafter, Alison Gordon, and forgot that one of my favourites, The Pebble Collection, has a whole set of designated items from which the proceeds will go directly to Alison of The Sampler. Sorry about that, and do check out her beautiful work.

Have a great weekend!

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Meet Jane Jetson

That's what these fabulous earrings from the extremely talented and created Cat Bishop of Artsy remind artist Cat and me of, with the bright colours of the millefiore beads and super-cute turquoise disc beads, reminiscent of little flying saucers. The bali silver beads are perfect accents, pulling the square and round beads together and of course providing us with a little sparkle. They'll hang from your ears with little sterling silver hooks and be the perfect fun accent to your spring and summer wardrobe.

The plethora of colours in the millefiori beads mean these earrings will coordinate nicely not just with orange or turquoise, but red, green, and white as well (I can't see these capping off a royal or cobalt blue top; so much for that). Really, these are just such fun to look at, it doesn't matter what they match - they're pretty irresistible, don't you think? Only $16 from Cat's shop, and if you like the turquoise discs featured at the bottom of the earrings, these are the last such beads in the Artsy stash and I recommend snapping them up right now. Cat Bishop's store is full of great jewelry, fabulous retro sculptures made of found objects, and now art prints of her robot sculptures/assemblages, and it's one of my favourite shops to look through. Enjoy!


Why Crafters Are So Great
Really, they are. We have two proofs of that today:

First up, Mosaic Yarn Shop is asking knitters and crocheters to create 8" x 8" squares, to be made into blankets for the families of those murdered at Virginia Tech last week.

Color choices for squares: Maroon, Burnt Orange, White, Black

Please knit or crochet squares out of the nicest, softest yarn you can afford.

Please mail squares to:
Mosaic Yarn Shop
880 University City Blvd.
Blacksburg, Va 24060

Unfortunately, I can't knit or crochet, but I know many of you do, and many of you know other needle wizards as well, so thought it would be good to post here. Please feel free to pass on the info to your readers and friends as well!

The other good crafty cause you might be interested in helping is Wonderland Retreat, a special shop set up for crafter and Sampler staffer Alison Gordon. After a medical emergency, insurance-less Alison has found herself not only trying to recover, but buried under gigantic medical bills. To help Alison pay off the bills, crafters have united by donating their goods to Wonderland Retreat, and all proceeds go directly to help Alison. There are tons of fabulous goodies at the shop, from jewelry to art prints. Not all of it is exactly...er...kosher, but the majority of it is entirely clear and unobjectionable, so I am hoping it's okay to post the store's online location and mission anyhow.

My favourite items are this absolutely wonderful underwater circus screenprint and this poignant homecoming screenprint featuring a treeful of bluebirds, a bellydancer tee, a beautiful firefly necklace, a gorgeously realistic plumeria hairclip, a sweet zipper pouch for your girlie accessories, and this retro-esque swallow and cherry blossom wallet. There are cute pet collars there, too, so even your pooch or kitty can get in on the act!

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Pretty As A Picture
Isn't this bird pin lovely and wonderfully sweet? A miniature collage piece made of paper from old calendars and then covered in plastic, it's definitely a one-of-a-kind wearable work of art, perfect for heralding the much-appreciated arrival of spring. There's a beaded pendant attached to one side to add a little extra heft and sparkle. Perfect for attaching to your handbag, jacket, or a light sweater, this pin is only $6 from Pequenio Craft.

Artist (and professor) Andrea is wonderfully creative, and it was very difficult to choose from her jewelry and other goodies. Another fave is this $15 leaf necklace - which I happened to see in a Flickr craft group, leading me to explore her store - and these adorably demure paper doll earrings for $6. There's a great amount of charm and whimsy to Andrea's work, and I'm certain you'll really enjoy her shop.

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Peonies In Blue
It's my sincere hope that y'all are enjoying the act that spring has finally arrived. My suspicion is that we brought the gorgeous Lexington weather back with us to the northern and eastern regions, and it's a good thing since it was hard enough to leave Kentucky Sunday afternoon (my heart breaks a little bit every time I leave the Bluegrass, you know). We've enjoyed the ability to take a couple of walks since we've gotten back, and are glad that the weather looks like it will finally start holding! What have you been doing to enjoy the long-awaited turn in weather?

To celebrate the blooming plants, warm breezes, and glorious warm sunshine of spring (not to mention cute baby critters), I had to feature a cheery springy item - I think this will become a habit, so great is my joy at the advent of beautiful weather and longer days. This cotton Marisa skirt from Seattle-based BellaStyle has been cut in a universally flattering A-line with a nice modest length. There's a hidden zipper (as a newbie seamstress, I can tell you they are intimidating at first but eventually become less frightening) and is, joy of joys, lined with linen - no need to wear a slip, and linen is of course a nice cool, natural fabric. For an extra-pretty touch, the artist has taken a cream satin ribbon and added it to the hem, sewn it into a simple bow on the side, and added a very pretty flower button in the center of the bow.

What I really love is the fabulous blue-and-cream print - it's almost mouthwatering. The blue background is perfect a perfect blue and the print is really lovely. Pair it with a blue top, a cream one, maybe a red one if you're feeling particularly sassy or cheery. A steely-grey sweater might be a nice match, too, based on the look of the leaves and shading on the peonies.

Perhaps best of all, this $70 skirt is custom-made. Yes, custom-made! All you need to do is provide Bella Style with your waist and hip measurements upon placing your order, and you're good to go. There are several other prints and skirt styles available, all custom-fit to your fabulous figure (the black and white damask Marisa is another beauty).

Bella Style offers all kinds of beautiful handmade things - skirts, headbands, handbags, home decor goodies, as well as photography prints and greeting cards. Enjoy perusing the shop!


Short And Sweet

This girl is still playing catchup from her one-year wedding anniversary vacation, so I'll have to keep this brief (oh, stop laughing... ;D ). Tonight I'm featuring this lovely Obi ring from Beadoodles. A bead of rainforest jasper is flanked by knots of sterling silver. There's a lot of variety in the stones and the crystal inclusions on each, and the artist is happy to work with you if there's a certain look you'd like, such as bigger crystals, more variation in texture, or even spots of orange in the stone.

The artist's philosophy about the relationship between people and art makes a lot of sense to me, so I'll share it:

I could get all philosophical and wax on about the symbiotic relationship between people and art* but I really enjoy making and seeing the fruits of my labor, and seeing them travel happily to a new home!....This is why I create things to be used. Jewelry is made to be worn; and when it is, it expresses both the style of the wearer and the vision of the maker. Journals are the medium for the written word or the drawn subject. The owner's individual art or thoughts only enhance my own. There is no greater thrill than seeing my art worn or used. It is then I know that my artistic vision is complete.

Her slogan is "it's the little things that make life happy", and being a details dame myself, I have to agree with her. She takes great pride in her work, and with much reason - it's beautiful in some cases, fun in others, and expressive of talent and creativity on all counts. I can assure you that she'll be another artist we'll be hearing from again here on Pretty/Modest - it was difficult for me to choose just one treat for you, when there are things like this, this, this....

At only $12, this piece is a real steal, and it's so beautiful I think it's perfect to wear just about anywhere. The colours and appearance of the stone make it perfect for summer. From Beadoodles, home of some gorgeous stuff I think you'll enjoy browsing through and, I hope, wearing!

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Back From Paradise...

Well, we're back from what was supposed to be a surprise anniversary trip to my favourite place in the world - Lexington, Kentucky - but it wasn't a secret because Hubby couldn't keep it that way. ;) I adore horses and racing, and was quite glad that Hubby had a great time as well. We were able to hit Keeneland, visit the amazing people and horses of Old Friends (a Thoroughbred "retirement home" of sorts), Winstar, and Taylor Made, where I was able to pat and scratch under the manes of horses worth far more than I am, and made off with some terrific photos as well.

I earned myself a fabulous sunburn at Keeneland. We'd planned to go Saturday, went Friday instead to beat the monstrous crowd expected for Saturday, and me without my usually ever-present sunblock and hat equals a red Jen. We both burned, but mine is pretty bad - my arms are still really red and I think I could fry an egg on them. But it's all right; sunburns on our vacations seem to be a tradition of sorts, no matter what sunblock precautions I take (and they are MAJOR - I practically bathe in the stuff every day). I'm quite glad I had on a short-sleeved sweater (it had been chilly in the morning); had I worn a sundress, my skin would be in far worse shape today.

Great food, a *fabulous* B&B (we met some wonderful people there, including two couples from Michigan), typically beautiful Kentucky countryside, and a wonderful, wonderful first anniversary trip.

In fact, we both enjoyed ourselves so much (how can one not - Lexington is stunning), Darling nearly booked us with the B&B for a week again next year, but we'll see. We came back to learn that my Wings advanced to the next round of the playoffs and that 79% of the women in Pittsburgh still hate me for saying (this is nearly verbatim), "I think all children do much better when they are at home with their mom" a week and a half ago. Sweet! I've quite a bit of catching up to do, and 600 photos to process, but we had a wonderful time.

I'll be back later today with a wonderful goodie or two for you, but pictured is the iPod cozy (modified to include a headphone pocket using this tutorial from Crafty Daisies) I made on the way down to Lexington for the iPod we purchased as our anniversary gift to one another. We travel so much, it makes sense to have the music and lectures we like with us; we just pop the iPod into an FM transmitter in the car and off we go. It'll definitely come in handy for our next trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama and the trip down Route 66 we're hoping to take soon - radio stations are few and far between in some parts of this great country! For a closer peek (and to see the headphone pocket, if you are at all interested), click here. Next up: a cozy for my A80 digicam, which I carry everywhere with me and has could use a safer place to hide while in my purse.

I hope everyone had as wonderful a weekend as we did. :)


Industrial Blooms

I'm sure we're all still in a somber mood today, and I considered not posting at all, but decided to go ahead. I did want to note that I'll be gone for a few days - our first wedding anniversary is Sunday, and we're both taking time off to spend it together (imagine that!).

I saw this in the shop of someone whose earrings were what initially caught my eye, and this pendant is so unique and interesting I decided to feature it instead. Each of the copper blooms has been individually sawn, carved, formed, filed, sanded and rubber stamped for a very pretty and warm textured look before being drilled and fit together with its partners. Suspended on an 18" copper chain, the pendant is just under four inches long and the largest disc is a little under two inches wide.

This necklace and pendant are so warm they of course make me think of summer (actually, just spring would be nice, right?). It's definitely a beautiful piece of jewelry and one not everyone else will have! $32 from ticklebean, who donates 30% of her Hope and Healing jewelry pieces to a rape crisis center in Bangor, Maine. All of her jewelry is lovely, and she has some really cute critter knitting patterns and the knit critters themselves if you'd rather she do the work for you. ;) Enjoy! And I'll see y'all Monday unless I have time to do a Fun Friday.

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True Hero

I deal with current events, politics, and so forth on a daily basis, very intensely, and part of the reason I started Pretty/Modest - aside from the actual mission statement there under my name - was to give me a chance to get away from all of that and check out and promote talented artists and help you find lovely things for yourself and those you love. But what happened yesterday at Virginia Tech is beyond horrible. Yesterday I think we were all in shock, and frankly, we didn't have enough information to really be able to logically discuss what happened; today, though, it has begun to settle in.

In the midst of the horror, though, we find hope - in the story of Professor Liviu Librescu, a man whose name should be ingrained upon our hearts as not only a brilliant, accomplished husband, father, and scientist, but as a hero.

"Professor Liviu Librescu, 76, threw himself in front of the shooter when the man attempted to enter his classroom.The Israeli mechanics and engineering lecturer was shot to death, "but all the students lived - because of him," Virginia Tech student Asael Arad - also an Israeli - told Army Radio.

"Several of Librescu's other students sent e-mails to his wife, Marlena, telling of how he had blocked the gunman's way and saved their lives, said Librescu's son, Joe.

"My father blocked the doorway with his body and asked the students to flee," Joe Librescu said in a telephone interview from his home outside of Tel Aviv. "Students started opening windows and jumping out."

"...Librescu was sent to a labor camp in Russia as a child and saved by the townspeople. His father was deported by the Nazis.

"As a scientist working under Nicolae Ceaucescu's oppressive regime, Librescu was forbidden to have any contact with sources outside Romania. He defied the ban, continuing to publish scientific articles secretly.

"His Zionist affinities eventually caused him to be forced out of his job. In 1978, the Librescus emigrated from Romania to Israel, where they raised two sons. In 1986, the family moved to Virginia for Librescu's sabbatical. While they only planned to stay in the United States a year, but (sic) have lived there ever since."

According to Haaretz, Librescu, after being sent to the labor camp, was sent to a ghetto in Foscani with other Jews. In Romania, he lost his job with a government aerospace company because he refused to swear allegiance to the Communists (good for him) and then requested that he be allowed to move to Israel. At that point, Israeli PM Begin managed to provide Librescu's family with an emigration permit, and in 1978, the Librescus escaped Romania.

He was a man who not only stood for what he believed despite the certain harm that would come to him, he gave his life so that others might live. The Bible tells us, "No greater love has any man than this: he gives his life for his friends." Such men are rare today, in a world that needs them more than ever. Mr. Librescu sacrificed his own life so his students would have a few more precious seconds to escape, and thus more precious time in which to live. He was a great man and a hero, and as such, deserves our honour and respect.

May God's love and comforting arms surround everyone affected by what happened at VT yesterday, and my heartfelt condolences and prayers go out to all of you.

(Note: Any political comments will be deleted. This is not the forum nor the time for such discussions. Thanks.)


Uptown, Everything Is All Right...

This Uptown tote is perfect for carrying all of your necessaries and accoutrements around in style all spring and summer long, isn't it? (No, I couldn't resist toying with a favourite Stevie Wonder song.) Made with a beautiful scotchgarded Erin Michael fabric, this colourful bag has been quilted for extra softness and texture, and looks like it has a very durable but nice lining, too. The bag has also been given a heavier interface on the bottom for stability and will thus stand upright even when empty (I did this with my first tote and am quite glad I did).

The bag is a pretty good size - twelve inches long, five inches wide, and eleven inches tall, with thirteen-inch straps. You could fill it up with good reads at the library, goodies at an art or crafts fair, business cards with samples and brochures for a business conference, or throw in bottled water, sunblock (thou shalt NOT forget they sunblock, dear ladies!), a mind-candy book, your shades and flip-flops for an afternoon at the beach. I'll bet some of you can actually fit your primary purse into this bag as well as your needs for the day, but...well, at the moment I am not that girl. At just $24, this big carry-all tote is not just a good deal, it's a chic good deal, and therefore one to be snatched up quickly.

I have to say, I really like how the artist started making purses. She's a wife and mom of two teenage daughters who said "No!" when they wanted an expensive designer purse - and made one purse for each daughter instead. So pleased were the girls and anyone who saw them with their mom-made goods that Mrs. Mom decided she had a fine business on her hands. I love it. :) All of her products - including some really neat garbage totes for your car - are made in a smoke-free home with loving care. J.Pat Purses also has a spotless feedback rating, so you know you're in good hands. She uses some really fun fabrics on all of her goods, and by looking at the extra-large picture of the Uptown tote, I think it's safe to say she does a fine job (having semi-butchered my first tote, trust me, I'd know; it's amazing what one learns when they begin sewing for themselves...). Everything in her shop is stylish and there's something for nearly every taste, so enjoy!

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Fun Friday Semi-Digression: Orange You Glad It's Friday?
I know, awful pun, but today I really can't get away from it. These dresses are fun, although probably not whimsical, but they're both so lovely and the auctions on both end today, so I felt I could semi-digress from Fun Friday to share these with you. It's all for your benefit, after all. We've got two beautiful vintage dresses with orange to look at - one curvalicously sized and the other a bit smaller - so let's get on with the pretty frocks, shall we?

Now, this first dress might not be everyone's taste, although it might just be that it is (kind of) spring right now and this dress definitely has an autumnal feel to it. That said, if you shop vintage at all you know good vintage usually only comes around once because the items are one-of-a-kind: if you like it, snap it up or risk losing it forever. So, I figured it would be good to feature this dress despite its fallness, just in case one of you has an autumn wedding, party or formal coming up and want to get the irritating "What do I wear?" part over with early enough to spend all the time you want shopping for shoes and accessories. ;)

An original from the golden age of the 1940s, this beautiful dress is oh so pretty and feminine. An orange, coral, green, and chocolate floral is turned into a full-skirted beauty with a very nice scoop neckline - not too low but not uncomfortably t-shirt like, either - and pretty sleeves that look like they'll hit just above the elbow. There are bust darts for shaping - it looks like it may just be a princess dart, but I do believe I see side bust darts there as well. Actually, the neckline is rather unique - the scoop, and then another sort of scoop at the shoulders. Perfect for showing off beautiful skin and pretty jewelry, don't you think? I particularly like the unapologetically bright orange sash at the waist - beautiful! It will define your waist and brings out the brightest colours of the dress. I must say, while these colours don't flatter me, I think this would look terrific on a brunette, and this dress is really a uniquely pretty one.

Measurements on the dress are 38-34-42. Unbelievably, the price tag on it is only $12.50 - but the auction ends tomorrow, so if you're interested, dive in and grab it now - even if you're marginally interested, it is worth buying and trying on just in case you realize next week you just can't live without it.

Our next dress is another pick from a favourite seller of mine, Kashute. It showed up in one of my email eBay searches and I went gaga - never in my life have I been unhappy that orange is not my colour, but today, with these two beauties, I am halfway cursing my pale hair and complexion. Is this gorgeous or what? From the 1950s we have this beaded orange silk dress, fit for about a medium at 36-30-free. I just adore this dress - simple, classic cut made spectacular by heavy jade, pearl, silver, and white beading along the collar and straight down the front of the dress (the top picture in the post is a detail of the beading). This is very flattering look, as it will lengthen and slim your appearance.

The label on this wonderful dress reads "Ruth McCulloch: Evanston/Hubbard Woods". Right now, it's going for just under $82, and expect the bidding to heat up over the next 22 hours, when the auction ends. Really, I just had to feature this really lovely dress because it's a great example of modest yet beautiful, stylish, high-end clothing. The dress is perfect for spring through fall. It's beautifully made (it appears to be fully lined) and is in excellent condition. Kashute says it's a work of art, and I have to agree - for both dresses.

So that's your orange, spring please come soon Friday Pretty/Modest fashion fix. Today's designers may be clueless as to creating attractive clothing that covers what ought to be covered, but obviously they were able to do so 60 and 70 years ago, with fewer advantages than designers and seamstresses have today. Both of today's features - Kashute and Designer Deals For All Ladies - have a lot of quality vintage (especially Kashute, I have to say) that makes just looking at their wares fun and inspiring. Enjoy, and have a great weekend.

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Because Spring Looks Gooooood On You, Baby

I adore the fabulous, cheery print on this flared skirt so much I'm extraordinarily tempted to email the creator and ask where on God's green earth she found such a great fabric. The great combination of scarlet, green, turquoise, pinks, blues, and greens on exotic-looking flowers and butterflies is beyond perfect (at least to me). And this girl is a lady after mine own heart: she trimmed the hem with red rickrack! I think that gives her automatic entry to my "Club of Fabulous", because rickrack is one of the best trims ever invented.

Made of 100% cotton, this prettily flared skirt is a nice comfortable length. As you can see, this doll offers a lot of wearing and accessorizing options because of all the colours. It zips up the back and there's no waistband, it's nice and smooth, so you don't have to worry about strange lumps or lines under your tees or sweaters.

It fits a waist of a little over 41" and hips from 45-47". The skirt is only $35 from the wonderfully named Far Above Rubies & Lady Avelina. (I think Lady Avelina may be the artist, and I am understandably digging the "Far Above Rubies" part.) Her shop is full of curvalicious skirts in very cute prints, like this summery sunflower-y one, as well as some very, very pretty freshwater pearl jewelry sets - I've never seen freshwater pearls in pale orange before, but there they are and they're quite lovely. Enjoy the great things at Far Above Rubies!



Well, I had featured a dress here by a woman who will customize a sundress for you. However, a friend emailed and noted that there was some art also by the same woman that is not at all in line with my philosophy, not to mention a bit jarring should a young girl (there are a few younger readers of this site) click on it. I vet all of the vendors featured here, but somehow missed this particular item when I looked. Therefore, in the name of integrity, I unfortunately have to remove the featured item as a result. I've already emailed the artist and explained, which will probably tick her off, but again, my philosophy is to feature clothing that is modest, attractive and stylish. While I've nothing against great art (museums are a favourite haunt of mine), some things really do just go too far in my opinion.

I should further note that I am vehemently against pornography of all kinds: it degrades women, I don't care what anyone says (my minor is psychology and male/female relations have always been a special interest of mine). Pornography contributes the mindset of women as nothing more than creatures to be objectified, rated, and used up based on nothing more than their appearance, and does indeed contribute to sexual violence against women. Is a nude woman beautiful? Indeed! More than one artist has said there is nothing more lovely than a woman. Some of our greatest art contains nude women, but it is for the purpose of art and speaking truth, not titillation. However, our bodies are gifts and treasures, and should be exposed, as it were, only in the right context. The female body was never meant to be put on display in various states of undress for others to ogle and criticize. Yes, there are those who will do that to a woman wearing a potato sack or a burqua, but unfortunately, when a woman 'lets it all hang out' she loudly invites the objectification of not only herself but all women. This is not right, and it is certainly not a good thing.

Women are more than the sum of their body parts, and if we expect to be treated that way, we need to dress that way. Part of my mission here is to find attractive clothing that allows us to dress that way. It makes no sense and completely compromises me if I feature artists who also create things I think are harmful to not just women but mankind as a whole.

However, just so y'all don't feel gipped, I'll feature another curvalicious wardrobe treat, this cute vintage 70s dress tunic and skirt I actually like (hey, it's from the 70s!). Isn't it cute? Made of rainbow-striped chevron knit jersey, this is not only comfortable but a flattering fabric when worn properly (read: even the skinniest dame might have to wear Spanx under it). The cut is flattering though, with a V-neckline opposing the chevron stripes from below, making the shoulders look broader. (I especially like the capelet feature on the tunic top.) The elastic-waist skirt and tunic have a nice slight flare at the bottom, and this is altogether a very attractive outfit that, due to the colours and fabric, are pretty seasonless as far as I'm concerned. It's listed as being in 'excellent' condition, so lucky you!

Best of all, since this is a tunic and skirt, you can wear the skirt with a black sweater (any colour top, really) or pair the tunic top with jeans, dressy slacks, or another skirt. The tunic can hang loose, or finish it off with a belt as shown.

Usually patterned separates are just way too busy, but the seamstress of this outfit picked the perfect fabric - not so heavy a print that you'll become dizzy just looking at it, but it's also very fun, chic, and flattering. The top is 42-38-46, and the skirt is 28 to 36-free hip. t's just $30, but the sale ends tomorrow. It's from one of my very favourite eBay sellers, bebopadiva, who has sold me some really beautiful vintage pieces in the past. She's a member of the Vintage Fashion Guild, and I can personally vouch for the quality of the items she sells. (She is also very nice.)

Enjoy! I'll be more careful about vetting vendors.

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Green With Envy

I've got a thing for chiffon, particularly chiffon in a green print. Doubtless this is part of my love for all things elegantly feminine and twirly, as well as the lightness of chiffon. But I think it's also due in part to my affection for Gone With the Wind, the book and the beautiful film: if you're a fan too, there's no way you can forget Scarlett's beautiful, airy, chiffon-looking muslin dress studded with green and that emerald-green belt. The little stinker broke all sorts of conventions wearing that dress when and where she did just as the War of Northern Aggression broke out, of course, but who cares? More screen time for one of the best dresses in cinematic history (I actually saw the pattern for it a few months ago and very unwisely let it go; I'll be forever regretful).

So it's probably shocking to you that I'm featuring this dreamy, floaty, vintage chiffon cocktail dress, isn't it? The seller thinks it's from the 1940s. It has a side zip and the pretty rhinestone clips on the bust. The belt isn't included, but a little hunting around vintage shops or even just a ribbon belt (easily made) would work as well (maybe accented with a rhinestone pin?). Other than that, it's in excellent condition! It's hard to tell from the pictures, but it looks to be fully lined as well. It also appears that the hem has green ribbon backing it, a very nice touch and a sign of a well-made dress.

This beauty would be perfect for weddings, cocktail parties, the theatre or orchestra, or anytime you are in a particularly romantic mood. I know green doesn't ring everyone's bell, but it's not often worn so vibrantly and prettily as on a dress such as this. Sized 42-36-48, the bidding starts at $39 and the sale ends Thursday night. Nine people are already vying for this beauty, so don't be left out!


Still More Retro Cute
Well, here is the first of quite a few retro, vintage-style dresses and skirts (being very picky about tops, those are more difficult for me to find). I think this will be a week full of curvaliciously sized dresses, how about that? This is our first, and in a red and white chrysanthemum cotton print. It is so cute and cheery, if it caught my eye among the mass of dresses during my skimming, it is sure to brighten up everyone else's day as well - especially yours. The nice thing about dreses everyone forgets is that they're easy to wear - just throw it on with the right shoes and perhaps a sweater or wrap and you're good to go just about anywhere.

I'm not sure what I like better about this dress - that it's a cute poofy thing, or that this is a wrap dress. Both are incredibly flattering styles no matter your size, and having a two-in-one, so to speak, is definintely quite the deal! You can bow-tie the wrap, turn it into a simple overhand knot using both ribbons and smoothing it into a sort of 'sqroundness', or wrap it around your waist (not a look I recommend as it visually cuts you in half and makes you look heavier than you are and shapeless). There's a nice modest but still comfortable v-neck adorned with metal studs on the stand-up collar. I like the red collar, tie, and cuffs on the comfy dolman sleeves; it lends a finished look to the dress.

The other feature I like is the subtly tiered skirt. Cute, isn't it? To prevent unintentional flashing, the sweeping skirt has hidden metal snaps; to make your life easier, there's also a hidden pocket at the hip. With all the colours in this one there are a lot of accessory options - red, white, pink, even green or indigo. While I'd be very likely to pair this with a pair of red or skin-toned peep-toes or slingbacks, ballet slippers would be a more comfy, walking-intensive option. And of course, a string of colourful beads will look darling and perfect with this dress.

Best of all is the size: 42-36-free hip. (I told you I've been dig, dig, digging away for your benefit.) At the moment it's selling for $26, but there's still two and a half days before the auction ends and this one seems to be getting some action - scarf it up!

Now, while the dress is in good condition overall, according to the seller, it's not perfect. The right side of the collar is missing a few of its studs, but these are easily replaced by a seamstress or even yourself if you ask the ladies at the fabric counter nicely for help. Additionally, there is a dingy yellow area on the fabric that appears to be near the top rear tier of the dress; usually, vintage sellers don't launder these before listing them, so perhaps hand-washing in lukewarm water and some white vinegar (really) or/and then Orvus will remove the spots and brighten them up. If not (you could try a Tide stick in a teeeeeeny spot), a dry cleaner might be able to help you out, provided they are accustomed to dealing with vintage clothing (not all are, so be careful). Personally, I've learned that at least with cottons, washing, washing again, washing again really does a world of good as well as teaching one valuable lessons about patience and perseverance!

You can also check out Vintage Vixen's vintage clothing stain guide or, perhaps better, Cat's Pajama's vintage clothing care page. Anyhow, I think either of these can be easily repaired without too much trouble. The colour is obviously beautiful and bright, and there are no holes or rips in the dress.

This is a really beautiful dress, one I think you'll love and feel beautiful in for years to come. Hurry on over!


Fun Fridays: I Say Toe-May-Toe, You Say Toe-Mah-Toe...

This one is definitely for a gal with a real sense of fun and humor, although I do think this would be the perfect skirt for a barbeque or state fair. From a distance, this looks like a red and green polka-dotted skirt. But on closer inspection, lo and behold...they're not polka dots, they're tiny tomatoes! I've no idea where the artist found this terrific fabric, but it's definitely an inspired choice, particularly since she's perked it up with fetching green bias tape along the hem.

From creator Chunky and Funky, this skirt measures a 36" waist that stretches to 42", 46" hips, and it's a nice length at 29 inches long. Flirty, fun, and sure to bring a lot of smiles, this skirt is only $35 and ships free. You can even accessorize your warm-weather skirt with this matching pocket mirror. I say wear this to the office with a fitted tee or cami and fitted denim jacket to the office some Friday - maybe with kelly green espadrilles, since they're back (again)? - and enjoy your day.

You'll find several other cute skirts at Chunky and Funky, as well as some very entertaining notebooks. Enjoy!


I. Am. So. Excited. For YOU!

I've not told you I'm a chronic insomniac? Yes, the rumors are true, I don't sleep well. But it all works out for you! While enjoying the brilliance of Alton Brown tonight, I started nosing around for cuddleliciously sized vintage and indie and I'll tell you right now, we are getting hooked up! Hooray! Things like this wonderfully crisp, summery 38-34-free hips sashed shirtdress for just $15.

I'm really excited and may have to start posting more than one thing a day (God forbid, right?) It's a little harder finding this stuff, but I will continue to do my best.

I'm toying with the idea of setting up an anonymous 'poll' of sorts that would allow you to tell me what size(s) you wear so I can better feature items in your size. I will admit that I'm on the smaller side, so what is large on me might not be large on you. My frame of reference is a bit skewed, I suppose. Of course, feel free to leave that info anonymously in comments - just remember I need measurements because indie and vintage aren't 'standard' sizes. Please, do help me help you. ;) Thanks.


Little Black Ruffles

Oh. I saw this in one of my eBay search emails and had to feature it. How could I not? This doll takes the little black dress to a whole new level, and trust me, even if everyone is wearing black, you'll stand out in this vintage beauty.

It's a basic sheath style but with delicious, feminine, just this side of flirtatious ruffles from the waist down - not the "Wow, how did your hips broaden three feet in twenty seconds?" ruffles, but prettifying ruffles. While the dress itself is a perfect black, the seller lightened the picture to show the ruffle and waist tie details so we can fully drink in the beauty and style of this dress. *happy sigh* Trust me, you want to click on the picture to see the dress in all its wonderfulness. If this isn't the perfect little black dress, I don't know what is.

Introduced by none other than Coco Chanel in 1926, the simple black sheath became an instant classic, although up to that point black attire for women was reserved for funerals and mourning (remember Scarlett O'Hara dying all of her pretty frocks black after Charles was killed?); even Coco was surprised at the positive reaction to her then-daring sheath. Vogue pronounced it fashion's answer to the Model T, although Coco's rival Elisa Schiaparelli called the little black dress "widow's weeds"; couturier Paul Poiret called it "poverty de luxe". Disparagement didn't stop the LBD, though: it was, truly, Coco's design that ignited fashion's love for black, a love that we benefit from today (just don't overdo it). The LBD itself has become a permanent, must-have staple for every woman's wardrobe.

Today it's ubiquitous - worn to the office with a jacket (not this one, though, not with those ruffles), the opera, dinner, as first and last minute choices for dates, even to weddings (although yours truly does not agree with black and weddings at all). There is even a CD named after Coco's creation! With its simple silhouette, the LBD is easy to accessorize - nearly everything goes with it, although I still don't think anything goes as well with an LBD as a string of softly glowing pearls.

This dress sounds to be very well made, as it's fully lined and in possibly never-worn condition. The scoop neckline is very flattering, as are the slightly off the shoulder...um...non-sleeves - the whole bodice of the dress broadens shoulders and helps create the classic hourglass figure, as do the eight ruffles. The back has a slightly deeper scoop, and the waistline tie really gives this one a finished look. I really, really like this dress - it's classic, gorgeous, and modest while certainly not being anywhere close to frumpy. It's an ebay auction that ends tomorrow night, so make your move now before this one is gone - it's another one of a kind dress you'll regret having missed! It measures 39-30-42. Bidding starts at $88.99 or you can buy it this instant for $115. (And if you do, we want a picture - doll it up! Heck, if you are near Pittsburgh, I might even do your makeup and the photo shoot for you.)

(For more about Coco, who really did turn things on their ears, try here, The Met's Coco Chanel page or their book about the exhibit, and here.)


Pink Will Prevail

So will soft greys and turquoise, according to Christian Dior, but let's focus on one thing at a time - like this lovely pendant from Get Wired. I saw her work noodling around on Flickr while eating lunch this afternoon and am so impressed by the artistic way she shapes and molds the metal - so fluid and elegant, and very feminine. Schoolteacher and artist Rebecca has some beautiful work displayed both at her store and her Flickr stream that's worth looking at!

This fellow Pennsylvanian created the pendant with silver-coated copper wire and a very pretty pink and clear glass bead that she found at a bead store (judging by the beads she uses, it must be a magical bead store, let me tell you!). The pendant is a mere $12, quite a deal for such a truly lovely piece, and Rebecca provides a sheer ribbon necklace in your choice of colour with every pendant purchase.

But wait, there's more! (I couldn't resist.) Right now, Rebecca is having a "Yikes, I just bought a car!" sale, which means you benefit from Rebecca's new ride: $1 off $5-$9 goodies, $2 off $10-$14 goodies...basically, it's $1 off every four you spend! To top it off, she'll throw in a pair of earrings that compliment your jewelry for just five bucks. Whattadeal!

You'll find sterling silver, gemstones, bracelets, earrings, and other goodies at Get Wired, all of them worth your perusal. Her wire-wrapping work is truly among the most beautiful I've seen. Enjoy!

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The Best of Fans

These mother-of-pearl fan earrings are so beauitiful and simple, not to mention versatile and, as I've noted before, forever classic. One really nice thing about these earrings is that, as you see here, they can be worn with warm- and cool-toned clothing and take on the temperature of what you're wearing.

What's best about this particular pair, though, is their unique and fun hand-carved fan shape. I really like it!

The wire is handwrapped sterling silver, and you have two choices of earwires - hand-formed sterling silver or the Hill Tribe earwires as shown in the photos. From trillium, these $18 earrings come in a gift box ready for giving to a friend or yourself (hey, presentation counts!). Shipping to the US and Canada is free, and the jewelry shop has plenty of classic and contemporary goodies (these are fabulous, too) I'm sure you'll have fun perusing.



Pretty In Pink (or black...)
There are those of the opinion that only 50s-loving retro girls can or should wear circle skirts. Others think only young teenyboppers should wear this fabulously floaty, girly, modest but still wonderfully attractive wardrobe treat.

They're dead wrong. (And more likely than not no fun at cocktail parties, picnics, or church.)

I love circle skirts. Granted, they do make me think of the 50s - but they're also comfortable, feminine, and awfully fun to wear (just be cautious on windy days - I should do a whole post on the importance of slips and half-slips, as it's skirt season). Dressed up or down, with a sweater or cami, with dressy heels or ballet flats, you really can't go wrong with a circle skirt (although some curvier girls prefer half- or 3/4-circle skirts; the name comes really more from the fabric cut than it does the shape of the skirt, but true circle skirts are pretty much unmatched when it comes to twirly goodness). I often start the day with a button-up sweater over a camisole and my skirt, removing the sweater to drape around my shoulders or on my chair when the inevitable overheating begins (there's no way someone my age should be experiencing hot flashes, but that's life). It's always a comfy, pretty outfit that allows me to feel at ease without looking like...well...a gym rat. Or worse.

A few ladies have asked that I start featuring larger garments. This can be difficult to do: vintage sizes tend to be small because women wore some truly incredible undergarments, they were smaller because of the physical things they did (walking to the market, cleaning house without the aid of all our little toys, etc.) and food they ate (food back then wasn't nearly as heavily salted or over-horomoned as it is today). Additionally, remaining vintage apparel is often still around because the dress or skirt was important - a prom or formal dress, wedding dress, debutante dress - all things worn when the women were young. With such wonderful memories attached to them, such dresses were saved and loved long after they were too small to wear, so...they're still around. When we factor in the average age of marriage back then, which was pretty young, it's a little easier to understand why vintage tends to run smaller. That's a small part of the beauty in vintage pattern-hunting, of course, but anyhow...

I do try to feature larger sizes, I really do. Trust me: having battled and overcome anorexia - nearly at the cost of my life - nearly ten years ago, I loathe the iron maiden of supermodel airbrushed "What is...ice cream?" skinniness as much as any other sensible woman. Still, if you're not accustomed to vintage duds-hunting, you might be surprised (horrified?) at the number of drool-worthy dresses and other treats with 22-inch and 24-inch waists. However, I shall redouble my efforts to find beautiful, modest apparel for plus-sized ladies!

(I hate that phrase. What about my favourite - "curvalicious", a word I actually invented, in its full incarnation "cuddle-ily curvalicious"?)

Both of these skirts come not only in standard sizes but plus sizes as well, which is why I am really happy to be featuring an actual larger-sized goodie! The checked circle skirt and pink cotton circle skirt, both from the wonderfully fun Hey Viv! are vintage-inspired but true to form, and come in waist sizes 26" - 38". In fact, the skirts are custom-made for you when you order: you can order a cinch belt, peasant top that also comes in plus size, a scarf, and even your own crinoline for the pink cotton skirt (the black check comes with its own). The check is 32-33" long (depending on the size of the skirt), while the solid cotton, which also comes in black, is 26-27" long.

The black check is $36.99 - $39.99, while the cotton skirts are from $22.99 - $24.99, all depending on size. All of Hey Viv!'s accessories and clothing are very reasonably and fairly priced, especially when you consider the skirts and crinolines are custom made to your size.

No doubt in part to the reasons listed above, Hey Viv! specializes in plus-size, wearable vintage and vintage-inspired apparel, so if this is your style, Hey Viv! is a fine place to start building your wardrobe. You can also get all sorts of fab 50s accessories there, from repro to real cateye shades, jewelry (like this sweater guard), cinch belts, and appliques. Enjoy!

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