Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!


Happy Mother's Day to all the moms!  As a mom, the picture above appealed to me because of the old fashioned mood, a mom with multiple kids ( I have four), the mom has a book ( another of my favorites)  and the pastoral park scene.  Story time and cuddling is one of our favorite times at home.  Although most of my kids are older than these pictured, to this day we all share a love of books and reading.  I hope years from now, my kids look back and remember the cozy times we spent reading books together,

Sunday, May 5, 2013

A Good "Bad" Movie...Giant

While channel surfing the other night, I ran across one of my favorite "good bad" movies on TCM. Giant, with Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson is a three hour epic that illustrates the changing culture in Texas as oil became "liquid gold" and people who were ranchers became oil tycoons.  It also demonstrates the culture clash between Mexican immigrant workers and the ranchers.  Although I suspect this film is filled with stereotypes of the immigrant workers as well as the "good ol' boy" ranchers, it does provide a good illustration of prejudice. When Jordan Benedict III marries a Hispanic lady and gives birth to Jordan Benedict IV, the patriarch, is forced to meet his own inherent attitudes and beliefs. Also, there is a lot of "ye haws!" going on throughout the movie, which I doubt is an expression Texans regularly use.
    (Leslie (Elizabeth Taylor) and Jett (James Dean) in "Giant", 1956)

The beautiful Elizabeth Taylor is Leslie Benedict, the strong willed  wife of Bick (Jordan II).  Her more liberated ideas and open mindedness sometimes clash with her husband's more traditional way of "how things have always been".  The clothing is very ranch stylish--Leslie wears suede skirts and button up blouses that look comfortable and realistic for working on the dusty ranch.While watching the movie on high definition television, the texture of the costumes as well as the colors created a mood for each scene.
Jordan "Bick" Benedict (Rock Hudson) & Leslie (Elizabeth Taylor) in "Giant".

Still, for a fun retro movie night, Giant is a visually appealing, fun choice.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Snowstorm in May??!!

Like much of the rest of the Midwest, and Northern United States, this morning here in Iowa, we all woke up to a spring snowstorm.  Which is interesting since on Tuesday, it was sunny and 80 degrees here. My little man Reid and I spent a fun afternoon at the park.  Try to explain to a little guy why one day we were able to wear shorts and the next we need to get out heavy coats.  This morning Reid woke up, looked out the window and started to cry, "I don't like snow anymore!" Me either.
This is a lovely picture taken at the Iowa Arboretum during an Iowa spring.  In contrast, here is a photo of my own white Crabapple tree during the spring snowstorm. The flowers had just started to bud and bloom a day or two ago.  Oh well, by this weekend, the snow will be gone and it may be 80 degrees again!

Iowa must look like one of the grayest places on earth by these pictures, but believe it or not there is green grass under that snow! 
This weekend my husband and I will be attending a Kentucky Derby themed party so tomorrow's mission will be to find/create interesting hats.  I will be on a quest to find, create, or buy a hat in honor of the "Running for the Roses" with a vintage flair.  Wish me luck!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Quest for Cabbage

The latest adventure in my quest to get my family to eat more cabbage continues. On this gorgeous spring day, I decided to make Chinese Cabbage Salad.  There are hundreds of recipes for this easy dish and there are lots of possibilities to improvise, such as adding chicken or sliced almonds.  Since we are a nut free household, due to my son's peanut allergy, I selected a recipe from Allrecipes that was peanut free.

To save time, I used bagged shredded cabbage with carrots already in the mix.  I like quick and easy.
I already had rice vinegar, olive oil, and sugar on hand.  The biggest cash outlay was buying the sesame seeds, sesame oil and Ramen noodle packet.   The ingredients are easily mixed together in a bowl. The "hardest" part was browning the sesame seeds in a little olive oil. The browned sesame seeds add a rich nutty flavor to the salad.  The raw Ramen noodles add additional crunch.

Unfortunately this recipe did not score well with the rest of the family--no one would even try it. Still, this is a great, easy, quick salad that would work well for potlucks. If you are interested in this recipe I found it at under Chinese cabbage salad.

Since it is a beautiful spring day, I took a picture out on the patio.

Happy Sunday!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Rain, rain go away....maybe I'll just sew today

 Another gray, rainy day here in the Midwest.  My little guy and I were hoping to work in the yard today, but no luck.  Instead, I pulled out Reid's over sized Thomas the Train tent and set it up in the living room (much to my husband's chagrin).  Then I decided to focus on sewing.  
It had been quite awhile since I had my trusty Kenmore sewing machine out of the closet.  I pulled out my 1940's sew-a-long project that I did not have time to work on sooner and got started.  First thing first, I needed to prepare a bobbin, which isn't a big deal but I always like to have my machine's owner's manual handy to check tension suggestions and for trouble-shooting.  For some reason, I could not find it. I looked and looked through all my craft stashes with no luck.  That took about an hour in between occupying my son who was excited about my machine. 

Finally, in desperation I checked the internet and luckily I could find a reprint of the manual on the website, Manuals On-line.  A lot has changed since I last had my sewing machine out for a project.   So with machine threaded and ready to go, I realized I had pinned my pattern onto the "right" side of the fabric. By the time the pattern was repinned and cut out, it was time to make supper for everyone.  Still progress made--and it was nice to reconnect with an "old" friend, my trusty Kenmore.   Here are pictures of the day. They may be a little dark, since there was NO SUN anywhere and my kitchen faces the north, which does not help.

Have a happy, crafting day! 

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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Homework, the winter that won't end and upcoming fun

March has not been a productive month on the blogging front for me.  Although I have been able to read and keep up with my favorite blogs, not much attention has been given to Yarndoll.  Hopefully in the next month that will change. Here in Iowa, the trees will hopefully be sprouting leaves after "the winter that just won't end" and I will be expanding my blog posts.

Vintage style has been on my mind in my free time and progress on a pretty comfortable stylish wardrobe is coming along.  Hopefully, in the next week I will be able to post some of my latest vintage inspired finds. 

For the past few weeks I have been focusing on my graduate capstone project. Much of the work is done on it and time will be freed up for sewing, knitting, crocheting and reading books for fun.  In honor of my final "book and paper class" here is a 1942 photo from my undergraduate alma mater, Iowa State University, back when it was known as a "college."  Interestingly, I found the photo which I though was great, then discovered it a picture of Iowa State students. Perfect!
Photo by Jack Delano, retrieved from "A History in Photos" blogspot.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

So many projects so little time...

I do tend to suffer from attention deficit disorder of the crafting variety.  I will work on a project for awhile and then something appealing will appeal to me either in a magazine, on a blog or at a craft store.  Right now I am currently working on my "Sew for Victory" blouse, a blue prayer shawl and a crochet shrug that needs some final touches. Oh, and I can't forget the very ambitious cross-stitch of The Last Supper that I started on while on bed rest with my last child (he will be 4 years old in May).
Sounds like enough to keep a person busy right?

But that is not all I have on the horizon.  After seeing the fabulous "Date-Maker Sweater" pattern by Columbia on  By Gum By Golly and Va-Voom Vintage blogs, I simply had to put that on my project "to do" list too.  Paton's "Plumb Heather" will make a rich looking sweater.  Oops, I can't forget to add the pillowcases I want to embroider critters from Aneela Hoey's "Little Stitches" book for my son.  As if this was not enough, Gertie of "Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing", has new spring/summer patterns available.  I just had to have Butterick 5895--it is cute and casual and perfect for summer!  And don't even get me started on all the amazing projects on Ravelry.....

Happy crafting everyone!!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Hooray for Hollywood

In honor of the Academy Awards, I have spent the past few weeks watching previously nominated movies.  For a fun fashion flashback, I checked out "All About Eve" starring the inimitable Bette Davis. The clothes are a dream although Margo is arrogant and annoying at times, it is possible to sympathize with her as Eve attempts to sabotage her.  Although the movie ends with a "what goes around, comes around" kind of message,that is not all.  Once Eve "moves on and up from"  Margo and Karen's lives, I thought it ended on a positive note for the two long time friends.  Also, the fact that many of us can be difficult to be around at times but hopefully there are those "best" friends who will tolerate us through all our moods.

                        I love the bow blouse with the small brooch on the left side of her jacket!

            The neckline on the blouse she is wearing reminds me of my "Sew for Victory" blouse.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Cabbage--the New Rice?

In my never ending quest to encourage my family to try new foods (especially vegetables), I have been on a cabbage kick lately.  Possibly memories of my grandma's cooked cabbage and carrot soup  have contributed to this new found interest in creating dishes with cabbage.  As a little kid I would eat bowl after bowl of it and the ingredients were simply cabbage, carrots, water, a little onion and maybe some left over bacon grease for flavoring.  I am sure this was one of her Great Depression era recipes.

Of course, in my own household such simple dishes are not appreciated, but I don't like to admit defeat.  So today I took a kielbasa sausage, half a bag of coleslaw mix cabbage (I am a busy working mom), olive oil, dried onion and 1/2 can of beef broth.  First heated the coleslaw mix in a little olive oil, until warmed but not completely limp.  Then I added the cut up kielbasa and 1/2 can of beef broth and heat until warmed through. 

Cabbage retrieved from
Everyone had to admit, the cabbage can of took on the flavor of the meat.  It was not too bad and a good way to get a vegetable into a meal.  Of course, a few members of my family ate around the cabbage to get to the kielbasa. I remain undaunted and will try to build more meals around the humble cabbage.

I tried to take a picture of the finished dish, but the photo just did not do it justice. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Crafting for Others

The open book is  "The Crochet Prayer Shawl Companion by Janet Bristow & Victoria A. Cole-Galo, p.95.
One of the great joys of knitting and crocheting is making gifts for others. There comes a point though, when your mom or kids do not need another scarf.  That is when expanding the gift vision comes into play.  Many people might create blankets for Project Linus or the Premie Project.  I have found a lot of satisfaction knitting or crocheting prayer shawls for members of my church parish.

While on extended bed rest during my last pregnancy, a kind person from my church created a beautiful baby blanket for my baby.  The point of a Prayer Shawl Ministry  is that prayers are said for the person to receive it while it is being made.  The thoughtfulness of the person who made Reid's blanket stays with me to this day.  Since then, I have made many different sizes, colors and patterns for other people of the parish.  There is no formalized or uniform prayer said as I make the shawl.  Once it is finished, I pray that it will make it to the person who could benefit from it the most.

I belong to a large and relatively young parish community.  More times than you would expect, children and young parents are undergoing serious medical treatments and procedures.  Hospital laundry detergents can be harsh and the blankets and sheets are not soft or homey.  For this reason, I like to create a little something that is soft and feels warm against the skin.  Currently I am working on a smaller shawl that could be used for a child.  The bright Azure blue will be edged with crochet daisies once it is finished.  Again, my spring fever is apparent.  Part of the beauty of the ministry is that it is all anonymous and given as a gift from the community and the recipients are anonymous as well.  The most you may know about the recipient is for example " a 40 year old male being treated for cancer".  Crafting for others in the way is a good way to send some cheer and love out into the world.  I would love to hear about your experiences of "crafting for others."

Saturday, February 9, 2013

So Nice to Know Miss Pym

For anyone interested in post WWII England, fashion, and lifestyle, I highly recommend the novels of Barbara Pym.  Barbara  Pym (1913-1980) is know for creating her own world of characters that describe common human angst against the backdrop of London and village life.  For someone new to "the world of Pym", Excellent Women is an excellent place to start.  Mildred is a "gentlewoman" who's comfortable, single lifestyle is disrupted by the appearance of a new, troubled married couple in her building. The book is rich with domestic details, Mildred's careful housekeeping routines compared with her neighbor Helena's.  Food always plays an important role in her novels as well, such as simple "spinster" meals of "lettuce tomato salad with mayonnaise".  Tea figures an important role as well especially during emotional moments.  Barbara Pym books also describe fashions and clothes worn, especially contrasts between more stylish characters and frumpy ones.  Barbara was always a sewer and knitter during her life and this is reflected in the details of her stories as well.

Barbara Pym was also an avid diarist throughout her life and A Very Private Eye her autobiography documents her life from her youth to her death in 1980. In it are details of her years at Oxford, her service in the Women's Royal Naval Service (WRNS) as well as love affairs and adult life. There are great photographs of her in it.   Her sister Hilary Pym and close friend Hazel Holt edited a companion version in A Lot to Ask.  Also, the two women compiled The Barbara Pym Cookbook, which details many of the dishes served in her novels.

Humor, irony, coziness create a world that a reader will come back to time and time again.  Her books are comforting, funny, sometimes sad, but always a satisfying  read.  I have included a picture of my Barbara Pym collection.  Her books have been in and out of print, but if I run across a copy of one I will buy it even I already own a copy just in case one kind of starts to fall apart. 

In a nutshell, these books are so great, it is worth buying a copy of a book I already own!  I would love to hear from any Pym fans!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

New Adventures

 Welcome to my blog, Yarndoll: Vintage Style.  I recently began to explore the world of sewing/knitting/crocheting/needleworking blogs and discovered there is a large community of people with similar interests in vintage knitting, sewing and exploring the past.  With the help of  12 year old Olivia, my "webmaster". I hope to share current projects, get to know other bloggers and create an interesting, colorful place to share ways to create a simple, cozy home and possibly a new wardrobe

To start my adventure, I have joined the Sewing for Victory sew-a-long.  Since it has been awhile since I have had the sewing machine out, I will start with a simple 1940s style blouse and if all goes well, possibly a skirt.