Black Spruce Hound

A Wisconsin Girl in the Woods, Knitting, Crafting, and Cooking. Also: Ugly Dresses.

March 30, 2012

Vintage Vogue Patterns

Vogue publishes patterns via McCall Patterns, available through McCall's web site. This is not very exciting, except for the fact that Vogue reprints vintage patterns and has a small selection of them available. Click here to visit the site, and remember that vintage sizing and modern sizing are different beasts.

I'm sorry I just said 'for the fact'. I'm annoyed with myself right now for that one.

Usually the patterns run somewhere around $12 each, which is not bad for a brand-spanky-new vintage pattern.

However. THEY HAD A SALE! I capitalized on that.


I bought 3 patterns for under $4 each. I would have bought a few more, but I only wanted patterns that were classified as 'easy.' Because the sewing machine and I are not always simpatico. Having since examined the patterns, I have discovered that 'easy' in 1954 translates into 'THIS HAS HOW MANY PIECES!? I HAVE TO SEW DARTS!!??!' in 2012, but I shall persevere.

All 3 patterns are from the 50s - two from 1954 and one from 1957.

When I finish them, I'll post outfit pics. Of course. I plan on sewing the dress that appears easiest first, and using a cheap fabric. Because I'll probably screw it up, and really would hate to waste good fabric when if that happens.

Wish me luck. And bring me vodka.


March 28, 2012

Lunch Pasta (Pasta with Garlic, Tomatoes, and Herbs)

I call this lunch pasta because...it's something I eat for lunch. Feel the literalness of that statement. (I did not know that 'literalness' was a word until I typed it and it didn't get the squiggly red line underneath it. And then I had to Google it for confirmation. Mind = blown.)


This recipe is inspired by this one from Framed Cooks, and this one by Giada De Laurentiis. It's quick and easy, and perfect for those days when you don't want to bother with anything more than cooking some pasta. The predominant flavor is garlic, and then you have gooey cheese and juicy tomatoes. Yum. Variations on this are endless - use a handful of fresh basil instead of the dried herbs, use whatever kind of cheese you like, etc.


I would also eat this for dinner (and I think I've had it for breakfast once as well) but the husband turns his nose up at any pasta recipe that does not include meat and some sort of creamy sauce. Boo.

A word to the wise - you may have the dreaded Dragon Breath after eating this. Raw garlic is delicious, but not for the faint of heart. In other words, this is not a good date night dish.



Because only 2 people live in my house, I usually only cook pasta in 1/2 pound increments. To feed 4 (or more) use a full pound of pasta and double the rest of the ingredients. Easy peasy.

Lunch Pasta

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 clove garlic
A pinch or two of dried oregano
1 large tomato
1/3 cup cheese of choice (I used Monterey Jack. Brie would be amazing, and so would feta)
Salt, pepper
1/2 pound pasta, your choice of shape

Place the olive oil and butter in a large serving dish.

Mince the garlic as finely as you can, or grate it into the serving dish using a fine grater. Add the oregano to the dish as well.

Chop the tomato and cheese into small chunks. Add to the dish. Season this mixture lightly with salt and pepper, and mix well. Cover with plastic and set aside for at least 30 minutes and up to an hour.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain well, and add to the serving dish. Toss everything around to combine, and serve.






March 26, 2012

Last Week Vol. 6

Unseasonably warm weather. So delightful.  







The lakes are open, the snow is gone, the tulips are coming up, the geese (and robins!) are back, and I've started the tomato seeds for the garden. Boom. 


This little dude was about an inch long, and he hung out on my sidewalk for awhile. I can't even describe the level of cuteness. I CAN'T EVEN.


This is the firewood pile for next year. Almost all of it needs to be split (not my department) and stacked (my department). Send help. And a martini. 



March 24, 2012

Favorite Books List

I don't know if you've ever clicked on the 'On My Bookshelf' button up yonder. In case you haven't, I'll give you the rundown. The page lists whatever book I'm reading at the moment, and a backlist of what's been read in the past, organized by year.

There are some books that make repeat appearances every year because I am a dyed-in-the-wool re-reader of books. I can read a book 12 times and still laugh (or cry) at the appropriate moments. Sharing is caring, so I thought I'd dedicate an entire post to those favorites. Some are nonfiction, some a lot are fiction, some are for children, and some are classics.


Maybe I decided to do this just because I really like to make lists.

Either way, here we go. The List of lists. The favorites. The chosen. The few and the proud. No wait, that's something else.

This list will be kept updated as time goes by, and I'll link to it on the 'On My Bookshelf' page.


The Favorites, In No Particular Order of Importance

The Nazi Officer's Wife -
Edith Hahn Beer
Walk Two Moons - Sharon Creech
The Honk and Holler Opening Soon - Billie Letts
The Gargoyle - Andrew Davidson
A Northern Light - Jennifer Donnelly (Highly recommended - GO READ IT! NOW!)
Light in August - William Faulkner
The Secret Life of Bees - Sue Monk Kidd
The Dark Tower series - Stephen King
The Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
The Historian - Elizabeth Kostova
Conagher - Louis L'Amour (OMG, read this. Pretty please?)
The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde

*These are affiliate links, yo. 

March 22, 2012

Slight Alterations

How to make a very Dynasty '80s dress fabulous?


Perform a shoulderpadectomy.


Look at those things. Why someone ever thought that shoulder pads the size of a human skull were a good idea, I will never know.

Neckline? Recut. Sleeves? Shorten. I also wanted to dye the dress black, so I did all the new stitching with black thread. And then discovered that you cannot dye man-made fabrics easily at home. All the stitching had to be ripped out and redone with red thread. Because I cannot have a DIY project go smoothly. Ever.

And now the '80s wrap dress is reminiscent of a '40s wrap dress.






This dress was purchased for $4.00 at a thrift store. Never be afraid to pluck something off a rack and alter it a bit to get what you want - all you need are time and basic sewing skills.

March 20, 2012

Freedom!

Warm weather, happy animals.








The dog's running footprint. She's a biggun'. 


March 17, 2012

Why I Love Thrift Stores, Reason #47

My favorite clothing store is a teeny tiny thrift store run by a church about 30 minutes from my house. Every spring they have a $2 bag sale - meaning you can fill a paper bag with clothing, and each bag will cost $2. Holla.

I did get another skirt, which is not in this photo, because I wore it. And it was dirty. And in the hamper. But it exists. Promise.


See all that polyester in there? Every time Tim Gunn insults polyester, I die a little inside. Harrumph, I say.

March 15, 2012

First Dress of 2012

70 degrees? In March? In northern Wisconsin? Shuuuuuuuuuuut up. First dress of the year! I was taking the dog for a walk, so I paired it with combat boots so I could navigate the mud/water puddle/dry ground/snowy terrain with ease.

It took me forever to lace the boots, and when I was finished I realized there was a rock in the bottom of one. The universe laughs at me on a regular basis. 






Dress - clearance rack at Kohl's



March 13, 2012

How to Replace Earring Earwires

And now I've looked at the word 'earring' so much that it no longer looks like a real word. Bah.

Anyway. I bought these earrings years ago in Yellowstone. They're made of some sort of semi-precious stone, and very pretty.


However. Some sadistic bastard put earwires on them that are roughly twice as thick as regular earwires, resulting in extreme pain whenever I try to wear them. Which is why in all the years I've had them, I've worn them once. For four hours. And it was not fun.


Exhibit A - my earring on the left, a regular gauge earwire on the right.

After awhile I decided to just replace the earwires, a solution that took an embarrassingly long time to arrive at.

I thought I'd do a quick tutorial on how to replace earwires, in case someone out there in The Big World has the same problem.

You'll need replacement earwires.  I bought silver plated earwires from Beads 4 All on Etsy, and I highly recommend them.


You'll also need small needlenose pliers. These are actually beading pliers that I bought at Hobby Lobby roughly 700 years ago. It was a good purchase, I use these little buggers all the time. 


Find the loop on the earwire that holds the dangling part of the earring. Open 'er up and slip off the beaded part.


Open up the loops on the new earwires. Slip the earrings onto the new earwires. Smush the loop closed again with the pliers. 




And that's that. 2 minutes to pain free earrings.

March 10, 2012

A Time to Plan

I can feel it getting closer.

Spring.

Sweet fancy Moses, it cannot get here fast enough. This winter wasn't that bad until just a few weeks ago, when nearly 2 feet of snow was dumped on us overnight. Even with the milder winter, I still can't wait for spring.

It's finally warming up, all that snow is melting, and now is the time for planning - I am knee-deep in gardening and seed catalogs, and thinking about getting more chickens. (Psst! Don't tell my husband about that last one.)

But what I really can't wait for are the little things.

For sheets out on the line.


For ice to melt off the lakes.

GEESE! THE RETURN OF THE GEESE! This is my personal 'Spring is finally here' gauge. No geese = no spring.

Walking the dog without having to bundle up.

Letting my hair dry in the sun.


Hearing bird calls in the woods from birds that aren't chickadees, owls, crows, and ravens.

Letting the duck and chicken out of their pen so they can eat actual grass for the first time in months.

Wearing dresses.

Wildflowers in May.

Opening all the windows and airing out the house.

For a short period of time, not stacking firewood. Bliss.

Rhubarb.

Turtles.

Maybe 'raising' a butterfly or two.


I would even just settle for rain instead of snow at this point.

March 8, 2012

Houndstooth Pirate Blouse

Anything with ruffles = pirate. As in argh.

When Stanley Tucci's character in The Devil Wears Prada says, 'Give me a full ballerina skirt and a hint of saloon and I'm on board.' 

Yes, Mr. Tucci, yes. For me, anything that looks even remotely pirate/saloon girl ends up in my shopping cart before I have a chance to even think about it for more than .23 seconds. 




I love the long sleeves and wide cuffs on this blouse. I have what I fondly call 'monkey arms' and sometimes full sleeves look more like 3/4 sleeves on me.  

I think this blouse was $4.00 or $5.00 at Goodwill. That's a steal, I tell you, a steal!



March 5, 2012

How to Rag Curl Your Hair

The first time I looked up rag curling, there wasn't much info about it available. There were a handful of sites that explained it to some degree, so I decided to follow the advice of one site that recommended you place around 40 rag curls in your hair.

I only managed to get 20, and the result was that I looked like Donna Summer at the height of disco fever.

In short? DANGER! DANGER, WILL ROBINSON!

Now that rag curling is becoming more popular, there are more sites out there (blogs, mostly) that tell you how to do it correctly. If done correctly, you bypass the child beauty pageant contestant look and wind up with gently curled hair that looks something like this:


So lemme explain just a few things before we get started:

1.) This is a wet-set method. Do this at night with slightly damp hair (takes me less than 10 minutes to set my hair) and sleep on it. Take the rags out the next morning (takes 2 or 3 minutes) and that's it. Or, do it in the morning and wear your hair up in a scarf all day (8-12 hours depending on the thickness of your hair) and take the rags out at night.
2.) Less is more. I have long, very thick hair, and do 6 curls for gently curled hair and 8 curls for bigger hair. More curls = more volume.
3.) If your hair doesn't like to hold a curl, you'll need to use setting lotion or a similar product that helps hold curls in place. I use Tresemme Curl Definition jelly. It's like apple scented axle grease.

Alrighty. Let's get down to bizzness.

You will need:


- Slightly damp hair. If it's too wet the curls won't dry.
- Setting lotion or similar product, if necessary.
- Cotton or linen rags. They should be 2-3 inches thick, and 8-10 inches long.
- A scarf. Not necessary, but keeps your hair out of your face and protects the curls during sleep.
- A brush or comb

First, brush your hair to remove tangles. Part your hair wherever you prefer. It's a lot easier to part the hair ahead of time than trying to part it after it's curled. Then, gather your hair into two more-or-less even bunches. Perfection is not necessary. Obviously.


I like to bring the two sections around in front of me so it's easier to see what I'm doing.

Take a section of hair starting at the front, apply product if necessary, and place the end of the hair around the rag. Begin rolling it up toward your scalp. When you get as far as you can go, tie the rag under the hair. The higher and tighter you roll, the curlier the hair. Keep in mind how many curls per side you want to do, and try to keep the sections of hair of fairly equal thickness. (For these photos, I was doing 4 per side.)






Note that I'm just wrapping the hair around the rags, I'm not twisting the hair. If you spiral twist the section of hair and then roll it, it becomes frizzy and tangled a lot easier.

So. Repeat with the next section. And repeat. And repeat. Easy peasy.




Tie a scarf around your head if you like. To do that, fold your scarf into a triangle, and center the point of the triangle between your shoulderblades. I use the term 'center' loosely.


Bring the opposite edges of the scarf up to the top of your head and tie.


Bring the point of the scarf up to the front, making sure to tuck all the curls into the scarf. If you have a lot of hair, it will look like you're smuggling hamsters up there.


Place the point right on top of the knot you've already tied. Tie the scarf again over the point. Tuck the loose ends underneath.



The next morning (or after 8-12 hours) untie the knots and carefully remove the rags. Be careful not to yank them out, just gently pull them and they should come right out. Loosen any tangles gently with your fingers, and that's it.


It may seem like a lot of futzing around at first, but it's actually pretty fast once you get used to it. Because no heat is used, it's also gentle on your hair. 

Curl on!


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