Miss Know-It-All Says Hello!

Unpacking can certainly be an eye-opener! I'm finding so many things I had forgotten I had - like this charming little dictionary.
Isn't it cute? It was published by Pony Tail in 1959 and was designed for a girl's desk. It has a puffy pink vinyl cover with an illustration of a girl at a desk and is titled Miss Know-It-All. With illustrated definitions of "Goose-step" and "Papoose" it's the studious girl's best friend!

What treasures have you rediscovered in a move?


The Sensuous Kitchen - Exploring the Myra Breckinridge Cookbook

Gore Vidal's Myra Breckinridge was quite the phenomenon when it was released in 1968. The story of an irresistible transsexual bent on the destruction of the male sex was made into an infamous film in 1970. The same year the film came out, Vidal's partner, Howard Austen (along with writing partner, Beverly Pepper) released The Myra Breckinridge Cookbook.
In saucy, salacious passages, it presents recipes that relate to the golden era of Hollywood that so fascinate Myra - and so many of the rest of us. Accompanying the recipes are reproductions of film stills and promotional photographs of stars ranging from George Raft to Joan Collins. Here's one of Eddie Cantor looking every bit the glamor puss and "Glorifying the American Doughnut" in heels and a frock.
The photographs are such a delight because so many of them are obscure images from obscure films or otherwise unseen pictures of well known films and stars. Of course, what Myra is known for is her overtly sexual edge and that's on full display in this volume. The chapter devoted to her favorite recipes is a collection of double entendre puns that would make a sailor blush - Baked Hare Pie with Dill Dough Crust, Cod Pieces, Bearded Oysters...

The recipes are, for the most part, traditional fare with some novelty dishes thrown in for good measure. I'm especially taken with the Camembert Cheese Balls from the Cheesecake chapter (a counterpart to the previous Beefcake, chapter).

You'll need:

1/2 Camembert cheese
1 large block cream cheese
2 Tbs. creamed butter
2 1/4 Tbs. flour
1 Tbs. rice flour
1 cup milk
Cayenne pepper
1 egg, beaten
Bread crumbs

Rub cheese through a strainer. Add butter, flour, rice flour, milk, salt and cayenne pepper. Stir over low heat until thick. Pour onto a plate to cool. Form into small balls. Roll in flour. Brush with beaten egg. Roll in crumbs. Fry in deep fat until golden brown.

Doesn't that sound tasty?

The Myra Breckinridge cookbook can be found on and eBay. If you're lucky you'll run across a copy at a thrift shop or garage sale. It's a fun addition to your cookbook collection and a great gift for the film lover with a sense of camp. If you have it and have made any of the recipes, how did they turn out?


Knit Picking - Collecting and Wearing Vintage Knitwear

I've become sort of focused on dress knitwear from the 60's lately. It was a huge part of the fashion business in the 50's and 60's, with chic women wearing knit suits and dresses as an alternative to more restrictive woven garments. But far from the relaxed casual dressing of today, these knits were delightfully dressy and totally coordinated. I've been collecting a few for myself and also have a few for sale on eBay right now. This is one that I'll be keeping.
Isn't it charming? I love how the double breasted detail appears to be a jabot at the neck and is reflected in the pleat detail in the skirt. I plan to wear it with black patent shoes.
This one is a Butte Knit. They were an extremely popular knitwear company in the 60's and 70's. Almost every woman owned a Butte Knit outfit of some description. This one is from the early 80's. I love the chemise cut and electric blue color. The details are nice as well - self bound button holes!
The Italians were particularly adept at knits. They made some extremely beautiful suits and dresses. This is one of them. Instead of being wool, it's a linen/acetate blend. I love the little double breasted vest with the hip belt. It's such a 60's mod detail.
This one is the piece de resistance. I've had it for several years and have worn it a few times. It's also an Italian knit - very fine gauge wool and trimmed with genuine polished branch coral. I was really floored when I found this set. It's so unusual! Look at how lush the coral is.
This piece has some really beautiful hand sewn couture details. It's such a beautiful outfit.

Knitwear is a fun category to collect. Things to look out for are moth holes - they tend to be more prominent on knitwear than wovens and felting under the arms. Stains and spots can be carefully spot treated with resolve carpet cleaner applied sparingly with the blunt end of a flat toothpick before dry-cleaning and hanger marks on shoulders can usually be steamed out with an iron - especially if the garment is wool. With care, vintage knitwear can be around for several more generations!

I have a few more knitwear pieces up for auction right now, among other things. Have a look!


All Wet - Extolling the Virtues of the Wet Set

My friend Carol and I were talking about hair the other day. I was extolling the virtues of the wet set - an all too rare styling technique, now-a-days. So just the other day, she came by for a girl's day in with her DVD of the 80's miniseries I'll Take Manhattan and I gave her lovely black mane a classic wet set.
It's not difficult to do, but there are a few tricks to making it come out right. You'll need to start with wet, but towel dried hair. Because Carol likes the "That Girl" style, I used mesh rollers in the two largest sizes. They give you body and lift, but not a lot of curl.

The next requirement for a good wet set is setting lotion. Now my hair is very amenable to a wet set, so I usually just use a spray gel. It's easier to find than true setting lotion. That was a bit of a mistake with Carol's set. Her hair didn't respond as well to the gel as I would have liked. It gave us the body, but not the tight curl needed to give her that iconic flip.

One of the tricks to a good wet set has to do with the direction of the set. In order to create the full crown I wanted for Carol I rolled the hair on top of her head over the rollers, not under. That gave me lift. I also over directed the curls, which means that I held the hank of hair away from the scalp at an angle in the direction I intended on rolling it, rather than directly perpendicular to the head.
This allows the roller to work on all the hair in the hank - the hair at the front of the roller doesn't slope up to it, it wraps around.

Once her hair was rolled, it was time to go under the drier. Now you can do a wet set without a drier. Remember all those women in the supermarket with curlers under a scarf? You can, however, dry it more quickly if you use a hard or soft top drier. They can be found on eBay and in thrift shops.
I have a fun 60's drier - it's a Lady Schick, Capri Consolette in two shades of blue and it does a great job of drying your hair with 4 different settings. After you're dry, it easily collapses down for storage. Carol had fun with my vintage magazine collection while sitting under it. It took quite a while. It's important to make sure that the hair is bone dry before removing the rollers or you'll risk undoing all your hard work.

Once she was completely dry we stowed the drier and removed the curlers. Upon combing out her locks I was pleased with the body, but disappointed by the lack of curl. Next time I'll use a firmer setting lotion. I gave the back of the crown a bit of back combing for height, loaned her a pair of earrings, applied some luxurious false lashes and took some glamour shots.
Have any of you tried a wet set? Was it successful? My friend Thanos in Greece has been making quite a name for himself doing hair for fashion shoots. He's promised to do me over on his next trip to New York. I'm sure it will require some time under my hard top drier!


Ceramic Isn't Just For Dishes Anymore - Textured Ceramic Buttons

Sometimes when companies give you product they want to promote, the product is really not to your liking. This wasn't the case for me when I stopped by the Blumenthal Lansing booth at the CHA show last January. I admired their line of ceramic buttons and lo, and behold they sent me some! I thought I'd share them with you.
I think they look particularly sophisticated. They have different patterns embossed on the surface and are glazed in different colors. I was especially enchanted by these three. I love the 70's mod quality they have. They're very Jonathan Adler, aren't they? The herringbone pattern is especially chic. I'm going to use them on a coat I think. The size and scale of them are perfect for that. To see the other styles, or if you'd like to use them in a project they can be found at What would you use them for?


The Apple - Symbol of Fall

Yesterday was my yearly apple picking trip to Warwick, New York's Och's Orchards with my mother.
It was a rainy one, but beautiful, none-the-less. The hills were misty and the apples were crisp. It reminded me of one of my favorite videos. It's our Strudel video from a few years ago. We shot lots of beautiful footage on that trip. Here it is again. Have a look! 


Gowns of the Past - My History as a Couturier

When I was younger, I used to go to a formal affair every year. This was also around the time I was in school studying fashion design, so I would make a new dress for myself for the events. Now that I'm doing a grand purge of all my belongings I've come across all those dresses again and have decided to get rid of them. Some of them were really beautiful and I thought I'd share them with you here.
This one of the first ones I made. It's white silk taffeta and it's trimmed at the bust and back waist with artificial flowers of every color and description.
This one is a big wedding cake of a dress. The bodice is pastel plaid silk taffeta and the skirt is a huge 6 layers of different colored pink netting and tulle. It was not easy to maneuver in, but was stunning to look at!
This one is quite dramatic. It was made as an homage to Charles James, who I was quite taken with at the time. It's made of red silk taffeta and features a midnight blue tulle skirt. I love the asymmetrical bodice and taffeta drape at the waist. It's trimmed with rich red roses.
This one was made from a vintage 1960's pattern and features a bell shaped silhouette. It's made of a really lovely pink and gold lamé fabric with a floral print - lots of metal in that lame, it's very heavy.
This one, though not a gown, was my final project at FIT. It's a wedding suit with very curvy 50's styling to the waist and hips. The top of the jacket stands away from the body and is filled in with peach and pale yellow roses - giving the effect of the bride being the centerpiece of her own bridal bouquet.

I hope this little trip down my memory lane was fun. If you're interested in any of these little numbers they're all available this week on eBay. Have a look!