Sunday, September 29, 2013

Silent Film Sunday-The Haunted House 1908

As a warm up for October and Halloween, one of my favorite times of the year, here is a very early horror film, one of my favorite genres.  The film was shot in 1908 by Segundo de Chomon an innovative Spanish film maker who championed the use of trick photography and special effects.   Chomon's work is often compared to the more famous today at least, George Melies. However many people argue that Chomon was the better film maker and told more coherent narrative stories.    In the Haunted House three rather weird individuals enter a haunted house, that changes at one point to reveal a face, where they are knocked about by a ghost and served a meal by invisible hands.  For the time the use of trick photography is impressive and I think its still entertaining today, this is definitely one of my favorite short silent films.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Film Fest Friday-Ten Retro Movies That Celebrate New York (and a Recipe)

I am a somewhat reluctant urbanite.  While there are plenty of upsides to living just outside Manhattan: delicious food, easy public transportation, myriad entertainments, lots of gorgeous parks for dog walking, and dozens of stores to shop in. I often find myself dreaming of a life in a country cottage.  Still when I was a child I always dreamed of living in New York, sometimes I even fibbed and told strangers that I did live there.  To my mind it wasn't really a lie since the moment I grew up I planned to move to the big city.  That is in fact what happened as I married a man from Brooklyn, but by the time I had made the move to the city permanent my tastes had changed and I found myself longing for a more rural home.  However, jobs and commitment's and so forth have conspired to make me a city dweller for the foreseeable future and I do love many things about the city.  From the friends I've made through blogging I realize that many people dream of visiting New York, and its not always possible.  For them I'd suggest a New York film fest, personally I think New York often looks better on film anyway.  Of course if you can visit in person  you definitely should, there is nothing else quite like New York. Here are ten of my favorite older movies that to my mind celebrate the glory that is New York:

1) It, 1927-This silent film stars the incomparable Clara Bow and its a charming romance between a department store shop girl and her wealthy boss.  There is a fun sequence when the two go on a date to Coney Island.   I think this is a great starter silent film for those who are not used to watching them, its very entertaining and the plot is easy to follow.  

2) My Man Godfrey 1936-Another romantic comedy quite similar to It about a wealthy heiress and her romance with a homeless man during the great depression.  There are some really impressive sets in fancy New York style hotels.

2) How to Marry a Millionaire 1953-This famous film in which three young models played by Lauren Bacall, Marilyn Monroe, and Betty Grabble rent an exclusive Manhattan apartment in hopes of attracting wealthy suitors has some lovely shots of the girls fancy New York apartment.  My  pick for the best line in the film is when Bacall's suitor tells her "your a hamburger and onions dame and wont admit it."  

3)  The Seven Year Itch 1955-This movie, about a middle aged married man whose wife and child depart Manhattan for the summer, leaving him alone in their apartment where he becomes friendly with a beautiful upstairs neighbor, Monroe, is full of iconic New York scenes.  The most famous is of course Marilyn standing on the subway grate, but I also love the interior shots of Richard's apartment, such a pretty building and it reminds me of the town houses I walk past in the west village every day on my way to and from work.

4) Breakfast at Tiffany's 1961-Of course no movie is more New York then this story about a Manhattan party girl with a love of the jewelry icon.

5) The Odd Couple 1968This is definitely one of the funniest films every made. I love all the shots in Times Square, back when it was in its seedy state rather then its current sanitized one. 

6)  A New Leaf 1971-Including this  movie one the is a little big of a cheat, since quite a lot of it takes place in Long Island, but its a very funny and under appreciated film.  I love the part where Walther Mathau's character, Henry Graham, a spendthrift who has run through his inheritance drives through Manhattan saying good bye to all the exclusive places he frequented while wealthy.

6) The Sunshine Boys 1975-This one is my favorite film on the list.  It is such a sweet and funny movie about two aging vaudevillians, one who who has moved to New Jersey and one who lives in a crumbling Manhattan hotel. 

 8)The Muppet's Take Manhattan 1984-Your never too old to watch Kermit and the Gang take on Manhattan.

9 and 10)  Ghost Busters 1 and 2 1984 and 1989-Chock full of iconic New York land marks from the Public library, to the Metropolitan, to the Statue of Liberty these are the movies that made me want to live in New York when I was a kid.

Of course during any film fest you need some sustenance.  The natural New York food choice would be pizza, but if you are going to watch all these films you will have to get started early so breakfast is in order.  Of course you could just go with classic lox and bagels, but I love this twist on that dish from the Smitten Kitchen, basically its savory bagel casserole, like over night french toast with bagels.

New York Breakfast Casserole (some how I deleted the picture from my phone,
so here is a photo from the cookbook)

8 cups  plain or seeded bagels, cut into 1-inch cubes (5-6 bagel shop bagels)
8 ounces cream cheese, cut into irregular small bits
1/4 medium red onion, thinly sliced 
1 1/2 cups (1 pint) grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half i
8 large eggs
2 1/3 cups milk or half-and-half
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Capers, for serving
Lox, for serving
The night before you want to eat the casserole place the bagel cubes in a large bowl and mix in the cream cheese bits and the onions and tomatoes. Pour into a buttered casserole. Whisk eggs with milk, salt and pepper together in the same large bowl.  Pour egg mixture over the bagels. Cover pan tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove casserole from the fridge, uncover and bake on a tray or cookie sheet in the middle of the oven until casserole has puffed, turned golden brown and cooked through. (A knife inserted into the center of the casserole and rotated slightly should not release any liquid.) This will take 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Let it rest 10 minutes before serving.
Serve in big scoops with a sprinkle of capers and a side of lox or bacon.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Vintage in Philadelphia

Since my husband and I are lucky enough to share our lives with five wonderful dogs and 3 lovely cats, who I write about on my blog Urban Hounds, we rarely go away for vacations.  Its simply to hard to find reliable people to care for so many animals or to pay that many pet hotel fees, plus we would miss them to much.   As a result nearly all of our vacations are staycations in the New York area.   During our last staycation in August we took a day trip to Philadelphia a city I'd never been to before.  My primary reason for going was to visit the Franklin Fountain.  I had read of its relentless authenticity in this New York Times article and as a vintage lover and an ice cream lover I couldn't resist playing the place a visit.  I've always been fascinated by the history of Soda Fountains and think its very sad that the invention of the twist cap and supermarket soda has pretty much eliminated these charming places.  

It seemed a little gluttunous, though I can most definitely be a glutton, to go all the way to Philadelphia just for ice cream, so we visited the art museum as well.  

I was lucky enough to have a nice Jitterbuggin blouse and skirt to wear to the museum.  They make really lovely and comfortable clothes.

I was happy to see that the museum had a few paintings with dogs in them. I love looking at old pictures and paintings of dogs and seeing the role they played in society at that time.

My favorite is the bottom one, I love how the ladies dog is inviting her to play as she heads out the door.

 The museum also had a very nice collection of Medieval armor and art.

In my opinion though the best part of the museum was outside it.  In a garden across the street from the entrance was a sweet statue commemorating a Mastiff who had served as a guard dog for the museum. I couldn't resist taking a picture with him. I love the sweet expression on his face.

I got a lot of nice compliments on my 1940s coconut purse. Its definitely one of my favorite accesories.

 The best part of the trip definitely was the fountain.   It was just like going back in time with a terrific collection of fountain sodas, ice creams, sundaes, and even phosphates (fancy soda drinks made from a careful blending of photos.)  Every detail of the place is perfect and  you really do feel like you are going back in time.

These sodas are not like ones from a store.  The lime soda was really tart and fizzy delicious.  I've never even liked soda until I had it from a fountain.

The sundae I got, the Southern Sympathizer, was definitely one of the best things I've ever eaten.  

My husband and I even managed to get one picture of us together, a rarity, before heading back to Jersey City on the train.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Silent Film Sunday-Our Gang Number 1

This is the first of the silent Our Gang Films from the early 1920s.   I love all of the dogs in this film.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Poirot Pin

“Words, mademoiselle, are only the outer clothing of ideas.”

Agatha Christie, The ABC Murders
As a writer Agatha Christie was certainly aware of the importance of clothing in conveying her characters personalities.  She often described clothing in great detail and Hercule Poirot, arguably her most famous creation, certainly had a distinctive style.  As a vintage lover I'm a big fan of both the Poirot stories and the television show, the show in particular is a major source of 1930s style inspiration for me.  That is why I was so excited to discover the adorable Dandy Pin sold by Le Petit Pot on EtsyThis little gentleman really reminds me of my favorite detective and I think he nicely accents my outfits.  I felt a bit like Ms. Lemon when I pinned him to a polka dot Anthroplogie dress I got on sale last year.  I think it has a bit of a 1930s feel to it.

 I wore my pin for a nice Sunday walk in the park with two of my sweet pups and my lovely husband.  I've been trying to make an effort to dress up a bit for one day of the weekend.  It just gives the whole day a nicer feel.

Le Petit Pot's customer service was also excellent.  My first pin arrived cracked, through no fault of the seller, I believe it must have been crushed in the transport from Spain to the US despite the bubble wrapping.  Le Petit Pot sent me a new pin free of charge and it arrived promptly.  The shop has adorable, and affordable, jewelry so be sure to check it out.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Vintage Outfit Post-1930s Hat and a Trip to the New York Botanical Garden

Even though this is a vintage style blog and even though I obviously love old clothes, I don't wear vintage every day.  Indeed I don't wear vintage most days.  Ever since junior high when I started watching the Astaire and Rogers films I've loved 1930s fashions and I've always looked for clothes that reminded me of that era but I didn't start really dressing vintage until right after my 35th birthday this year.  Part of the reason I didn't wear full on vintage previously was I was a little too shy, for example I used to be a little intimidated by hats even though I love them.   As I've gotten older I care much less what people think and I wear what I like.   One thing I love about the world of vintage style and all the other wonderful vintage blogs out there is that its not about being thin, or tall, or perfect, its about being  yourself!  Its a much more accepting style climate then the mainstream one.  I know since I've started wearing more vintage I feel much more comfortable with my appearance and I'm a lot less critical of myself.

Still it can be a bit hard to wear genuine vintage clothes everyday, for one thing they are very delicate, particularly the clothes of the 1930s and as I'm definitely a bit  broader then the average women of the 1930s I find it pretty hard to find clothes from this era that fit me. My compromise is to try to wear at least one vintage thing every day, which brings me to this outfit post.  Over our summer break my husband and I went to the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, established in 1891, and I decided to wear my favorite vintage hat, a 1930's straw number with red flowers from Adeline's Attic on Etsy.  I think it went pretty well with my red dress, bought on sale at Anthropologie a year ago and it really highlighted the dress's 1940s details.  Most important the outfit was comfortable and the hat provided sun protection.


Since I'm very new to the whole vintage blogging thing and relatively new to the vintage clothing thing I'm wondering how other vintage style lovers approach the modern verses authentic issue.  Do you stick scrupulously to genuine vintage pieces or do you wear modern reproductions as well?  Do you mix eras?  Do you wear vintage every day or just on special occasions?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Silent Film Sunday-Rin Tin Tin

The amazing canine super star Rin Tin Tin was one of the biggest box office draws in the 1920s and his film Clash of The Wolves,  released in 1925 was a huge hit.   In the scene below you can see Rin Tin Tin, along with his partner Nanette, brave a forest fire

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Vintage Style Icon-The Lovely Ms. Lemon

I'm a big fan of the long running BBC mystery show Poirot with its period perfect 1930s sets and costumes.  I particularly love Poirot's stylish secretary Ms. Lemon.  In every episode Ms. Lemon has a perfect quirky 1930s ensemble with plenty of art deco detail.  I also adore the fact that the lovely Ms. Lemon is no ingeneue,  she has a decade or so on me, something I appreciate as I think about how I might want to dress in the future:

poirot miss lemon itso_90 photo s320x240.jpg
Miss Lemon

Poirot_MsLemon_DoubleClue_seagreendressPoirot_MsLemon_LostMine_geometricblouse_ringletsPoirot_MsLemon_LostMine_pinksilkblouse_ringletsPoirot_MsLemon_tan copy Poirot_MsLemon_PerilEndHouse_blackfanbowhat


When I saw this hat from Adeline's Attic on Etsy I thought it had a definite Ms. Lemon quality so I  had to get it.  I can't wait to channel Ms. Lemon and all her adventures as I wear it.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Vintage Style Icon-Adele Astaire

Today marks the 117th anniversary of the birth of Adele Astaire.

Though her fame was later eclipsed by that of her younger brother, Fred, Adele was during their 27 year partnership the star of the show.   The Astaire's career began as small children in Vaudeville with a dance number titled the Wedding Cake.  The first of a number of short acts and the beginning of Fred's life long association with top hat and tails.

By the time they were teenagers the Astaire's were tired of Vaudeville and had moved to Manhattan in search of a  stage career.  There success came in 1919 in the show Apple Blossoms, in which their imaginative dance numbers stole the show and made them overnight sensations (after years of hard work.)   Soon the Astaire's where the toast of Broadway.  In particular audiences, and critics, fell head over heats for Adele.  Her mischievous elfin demeanor perfectly matched the flapper ideal of the day.  She was soon besieged by admirers and received hundreds of proposals, some from gentleman who had never actually met her.   They appeared in many more shows and traveled to London becoming as famous there as they were in America.   
Adele retired in 1931 at the age of 35 and married Lord Charles Cavendish.  Sadly the marriage was marred by tragedy.  Adele's three children died in infancy and her husband passed away from complications due to alcoholism at the age of 38.   Happily a later marriage to investment banker Kingman Douglas appears to have been happier.  Adele never returned to the stage and today is largely forgotten, unlike her film star brother.   Thanks to the wonderful book The Astaire's  by Kathleen Riley readers have a change to learn more about Adele.


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Silent Film Saturday-The Motorist

An early silent film from 1906.  I love the dream like segment of the car going into Outer Space.  If only all of our fall rides could be so magical.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Back To School-With Recipes

No matter how old you  are when September rolls around most people experience, even if it is only fleeting, that back to school spirit.  My own vintage style is more 1920s and 1930s, but my favorite back to school images are from the 40s and 50s.  Tartan in particular has always seemed so scholastic to me. 

This girl's hair bow is so beautiful and romantic, and I love her hopeful expression.
This is probably my favorite Gil Elvgreen picture, so cute and naughty.  Plus I love the color combo of green skirt, white blouse and red accented belt.
These outfits are just amazing, so gorgeously coordinated.  Id love to wear something like this.
I love the "checks you'll gladly endorse" line.
I love how attentive all of these young kinds are.

In addition to clothing back to school always makes me think of fall breakfasts.  My favorite autumn breakfast is Oven Baked apple Pancake, I'd say it take a bit long for a weekday breakfast, but back in the day I'm sure mom wouldn't have batted an eye.  I'd say for the modern era its weekend only:

Oven Baked Apple Pancake (you an see from the photo below that mine overflowed a but I probably did not pour the batter in just right, but it was still delicious!)

1/4 cup sugar granulated sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
7 tbsp butter
2 to 3 green apples peeled and cored, I use three
1/2 cup milk
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup bread flour (you can use all purpose but bread flour is better)
1/2 tsp salt 
Powdered sugar for serving

Combine the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl.
Preheat the oven to 425 and  melt 7 tablespoons of butter in a non stick cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Add the apples to the skillet and sprinkle over the cinnamon and sugar.  Cook stirring frequently for 5 to 7 minutes.
Whisk the milk, eggs, and vanilla extract together in a medium bowl.  Add the flour and salt and whisk until well combined.  Pour the batter over the apples and bake for 20 minutes, it will puff up impressively!  Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.

Finally,  to conclude my back to school celebration I can't resist sharing a short from one of my all time favorite television shows Mystery Science Theater  Three Thousand (MST3K), if you are familiar with the show you will know how funny and addicting it is.  I love everything about it but the educational shorts where always among the best.  Below is Why Study Industrial Arts a bit of 1950s educational history hilariously dissected by the Mike and The Bots.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Book Review-Flapper: A Madcap Story of Sex, Celebrity, and the Women Who Made America Modern and an Outfit Post

This summer I read the book Flapper: A Madcap Story of Sex, Celebrity, and the Women Who Made America Modern by Joshua Zeitz.  It is not a new book, having been published in 2007, but it was excellent and if any vintage lovers out there have been remiss in reading it as I had, they need to rectify the situation!   As a vintage style lover and a feminist I appreciate history's independent, rebellious women, and the flapper certainly is that.  In the 1920s women really redefined their traditional roles: attending college in large numbers, entering the work force,  living outside the family home, voting, and expressing their sexuality.  The book profiles a few of the most influential flappers, some everyone has heard of like Zelda Fitzgerald:
 Others like Louis Long 

who wrote a column for the New Yorker under the pen name Lipstick are less well known, but equally glamorous.

My one disappointment with the book was there was nothing in it about African American flappers,a serious oversight since African American culture revolutionized music, dance, and style in the 1920s.

 Harlem Sweeties (African American Flappers, 1920's)

I'd still definitely recommend the  book for anyone who wants to learn more about the women of this exciting era, a decade that really ushered in the modern age.

The 1920s, along with the 1930s, is my favorite style era and I try to base my vintage look as much as I can on the women from these eras.   I was lucky enough to be able to treat myself to  a beautiful dress from the wonderful Etsy store Adelines Attic.  Though the dress is a 1930s number I paired it with a flapper style hat from Anthropologie, mod cloth shoes, and a 1930s crochet bag and I think the outfit had a sort of flapper air.  This is definitely one of my favorite outfits ever, and it's lovely to give  a style nod to one of the most fascinating eras American history.

In case you would like  a gorgeous vintage hat of your own, and why wouldn't you, I urge you to visit the wonderful blog Chronically Vintage and enter the Blue Rose Vintage hat give away for a chance to win a hat from Blue Rose Vintage that represents your own favorite era.

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