Vintage Modern Hostessing: a Last Hurrah

Before the leaves entirely blanket the lawn and the water in the bird feeder freezes is perfect timing for a seasonal last hurrah.

As do all my gatherings, this party begins with a DIY invitation.

From a cache of black and white snapshots, this indelible image, which I’ve been saving for just the right occasion.

Man balancing Woman www


Scanned and uploaded to picmonkey for labelingParty Invite acrobatic couple cover words www


plus the addition of party particulars





 vintage-woman-on-phone-psd-graphic PARTY RSVP :


and the invitation is ready for delivery to guests. Mailing of the sort that requires an envelope and a stamp is my preferred method because it’s fun to receive an invitation for an event a few weeks out.

Yes, I’m that hostess – the one who plans and prepares in advance, so she can enjoy the party, too. PARTY_recipes vintage setup 0114 ea desserts


Inquiries from well-mannered invitees as to what they might bring are always lovely but never accepted. Your status is guest and that’s that, because I love creating the ambience and menu too much to share.


This party for 15 was an extended cocktail hour with a food buffet to encourage eating while imbibing.

PARTY_Recipes Vintage Setup 0113_ea table www


Homemade Dips: Pimento Cheese and White Bean & Artichoke served with cut up celery and healthy, handcrafted pita chips. (Tip: Make dips, slice celery  2-3 days ahead & refrigerate; chips stay crisp in a plastic bag)

Salad: Beets, Mandarin Slices, Feta and baby lettuce, scantily drizzled with dressing and served in punchbowl cups (TIP: Wear disposable vinyl gloves to toss salad and fill the cups; a silver sugar bowl holds cocktail forks)

PARTY Recipes setup 0122 lazy susan cups www

Creamy Tomato Soup prepared a day earlier and refrigerated. Gently reheat and serve in pitchers for pouring into a hodgepodge of cups. On the side, Pepperidge Farm Goldfish to sprinkle over the soup. (TIP: No spoons necessary)

PARTY Recipes setup 0118 soup serving www

Roasted Potatoes prepared 2 days ahead. Serve warmed. (TIP: Fondue forks make for easy spearing; available at restaurant supply stores)

Angel Biscuits by HamBob, virtually foolproof, made a week earlier and frozen.

PARTY Recipes setup Biscuits one pan good pic 0108 www


Two sizes – bite and heartier – split and slathered with a mustard horseradish sauce and filled with thinly sliced tenderloin or roasted turkey breast. (TIP: Bake meats and freeze, defrosting a day before the party)

PARTY Recipes setup Biscuits one buttered 0112 www

Desserts:  Pineapple Upside Down and Pear Cakes (TIP: Bake a day in advance for tastier flavors)PARTY Recipes setup 0124 pineapple upsidedown closer www


Setting up ahead of time, as much as a day even, is the best buffer to hostess stress-out. Plus, this is my favorite part – preparing the party landscape.

Sifting through my vintage collections of domestica, I really enjoy selecting and fluffing cloths, smoothing wrinkles, stacking mismatched napkins and plates, counting utensils, and checking glasses for spots. Early preparation lets me look things over, reconsider, rearrange, and finally, let it go as the best I can do.

With the holiday season fast approaching, this posting and photos are meant to encourage and inspire the Vintage Modern hostess within all of us. Yes, she’s there…deeper for some, but available to be resurrected and don that cute party dress.

xx EllynAnne

Tie One On…Give from the heart…Then give thanks.


Hair Heaven

Any visit to a secondhand store has my radar on high alert for a portable hair dryer.  Rare to find one that’s in new condition, but so I did yesterday! Exclamation point absolutely necessary.

Hair Dryer case

Either this sat in someone’s basement for 50+ years, a gift that was never regifted, or perhaps on a beauty shelf in a drugstore that closed. However it landed at the Goodwill, I’m happily its new/only owner.

Hair Dryer Open
Having never learned to blow dry my own hair, I’ve always relied on humidity to keep it crazy curly or a roller setting for a once-a-week styling.

Sitting under a dryer with the heat blowing, it’s impossible to talk on the phone. While the drone is conducive to dozing off,  I use the time to multi-task: hair dries as I flip through a stack of magazines ripping recipes I almost never use.

A once-a-week ritual, an hour of time, costs nothing and the outcome is always the same.  Not perfect, as a visit to a salon might accomplish, but almost, which is perfectly fine for me.

Tie One On…an apron, of course!

Snow Day Redress

The mid-week snowstorm was a big surprise and with the roads slick (my least favorite driving condition), the perfect day to stay in and accomplish some major domestic clean-up. But no sooner did I think such a thought, than it was nudged to a back burner and replaced with a most brilliant way to spend a snowy day: redressing Scarlett, my mannequin.

I’ve long thought how to change Scarlett’s form from its unflattering concrete gray to something more colorful, and within minutes of the first flakes falling, I figured it out.

From a bag of vintage scraps

Vintage Scraps Bag

I cut out shapes, dipped each into a mixture of decoupage paste thinned with water, and randomly covered the form.

Mannequin_vintage scraps_in progress

The redressing took a day, which seems a long time for such a carefree project, except the cleaning up part added considerable time – which brings me to this after-thought suggestion: Cover the floor and tabletop with plastic before beginning any project that includes dripping paste.

Scarlett Redressed in Vintage!

Mannequin_vintage scraps_turq2 turned (Medium)

In all her glory, Scarlett showing off the first of my new line,

Domesti-Chic · Limited Editions

Recipe for Happiness_full pic (Medium)

AM Logo with clothesline

I so thrive on the creative process. Whether inspired by a bag of scrap fabric or a recipe, it’s the excitement of the possibilities I find energizing. Now to reserve a bit of that excitement and face the maelstrom of domestic duties still simmering on that back burner.


Tie One On…an apron, of course!

Mama’s Got a Grand New Bag Winner is…

Thank you, Random Humans Molly and Austin for so adorably selecting the winner of Mama’s Got a Brand New Bag Giveaway!

And congratulations #39, Green Goose. IceMilk Aprons‘ Piggy market bag is yours! Please contact me with your info for mailing.

I so enjoy that moment when I come across the perfect Random Humans to select the winner of a giveaway. More fun than letting a number generator do the picking. Molly and Austin are stylists at Denver’s Rockstar Industries , my “rockin'” hair salon.
IceMilk’s new line of market bags is fabulously functional, well-priced and cute, to boot. Would that I could give one to each of you who entered. I so appreciate your dropping by my blog.
Tie One On…an apron, of course!

Vintage Trailer Talk

I’m spotting enough out-of-state vehicles on the highway through my town to win the License Plate game. Schools have started around here, so the cars with families are either on their own way home or trying for one last getaway before Labor Day, the formal end to summer.

This end-of-season traffic also includes the trucks and enormous trailers hauling stock to the Colorado State Fair (either direction, just take exit 97A, Central Avenue, here in Pueblo).

While I enjoy going to the State Fair, especially the rodeoing events, there’s another sort of trailer that I’m a tad more partial to – those of Sisters on the Fly.

I’ve posted about this group and book before because it’s written by my friend Irene Rawlings. The book, plus visits to the SOTF website and facebook page, are loaded with images and descriptions of gatherings that are pulling me to join…if only to experience what is bringing smiles to the thousands (15,000 at last tally!) who participate.

For some reason I thought this sisterhood and the wee trailer fascination was localized to the United States, but that was before I saw this photo – taken at Vintage at Goodwood Festival in
Chichester, England.

I had to use a magnifying glass to catch the details of this photograph, which are charmingly similar to a SOTF trailer, such as the portable potted plant outside the welcoming open door and the personalization on the shell – on the left is written I’m not sleepy and amidst what looks like a Wind and the Willows theme is Trixie, the owner I assume, and who is taking a break from walking about the Festival’s grounds in zebra lace up high heels. Trixie appears to be drinking a cup of tea, but with that crystal bottle of libation on the table, who really knows what’s in that cup ?

The photograph is captioned that the lady pictured is outside “…her caravan…” Caravan? I thought caravan was a single file of trucks or cars or wagons or some such. According to my trusty American Heritage dictionary, there is another, chiefly British definition: Caravan – A trailer or dwelling place on wheels. So what looks like a SOTF trailer is an English caravan. Just the sort of minutia I live for!

I wouldn’t have learned this tidbit if I weren’t a subscriber to the Denver Post, as the on-line version of the paper didn’t include this photograph. Nor would I have made the connection to Sisters on the Fly if I hadn’t read the book. Such is the importance of the written word, no matter how we come to it.

Tie One On…an apron, of course!

Lost and Found

Back in 1999, when I first began listening to apron recollections, a common lament was We threw out all her aprons, never imagining we’d regret doing so or I saved a single apron, and it is my prized, most precious possession. That refrain is one I continue to hear, as in this email:

I ran into your book at the bookstore today and hope you can answer a question. My grandmother was always making aprons for people. The one we remember most was one we knew as the necktie apron as it was made of many sections shaped like neckties ( folded up similar to the umbrella skirts of yesteryear). The apron had a skirt only, no bib. Grandma died many years ago and now we realize that none of us have any of her aprons or even a picture of the “necktie apron.” Have you ever seen an apron of that description. Am really looking for a description, picture, or directions to make to make to put in our memory book of Grandma. Thank you.

I could hardly write back fast enough, Is this the pattern you’re seeking?
My collection of patterns isn’t all that extensive, but I happen to have this one, printed by McCalls in 1941.

Before I opted whether or not to share this pattern here, I considered the copyright (a mere 66 years) and contacted McCalls. Elizabeth Moss of the company’s consumer affairs department consulted with the legal department and archivist. Seems the disregard for pattern copyrights is flagrant and pattern companies are on the lookout for illegal use of what is rightfully theirs.

I approve of their protective posture, and thusly, only the pattern’s face is published here, which is exactly what Grandma’s family was hoping for.

Tie One On…an apron, of course!


Night out in the Big City

We live less than two hours from Denver, but you’d think it was double that the way we hem and haw over going up there. So when we do make the drive, especially on a week night and with the threat of snow, the purpose must be special…more special than my new purse needing a night out.

The impetus was to meet Corinne Joy Brown, the new editor-in-chief of SHINE, Denver’s premiere lifestyle magazine, who in her spare time wrote an article about my apron journey for the Feb/March issue of Colorado Expression magazine. Corinne Joy (that’s her in the middle) exudes a warmth and hospitality over the telephone that in person is quadrupled. She is so lovely, I forgot I was jealous of her coat and hat: a haute vintage velvet cape and matching beret.
Here we are at the Michele Mosko Fine Art gallery for an exhibit opening I’d read about in the Denver Post (and the second reason why we drove up to Denver). On the right is Michele Mosko, who just happens to be Corinne Joy’s sister! Funny how the Big City turned out not to be so big after all.

Tie One On…an apron, of course!