New Year’s Eve During the Pandemic
Hello and Happy New Year.
I've had conversations with some old friends over the past few days, reminiscing about dancing, with our arms flung high, in crowded spaces on New Year's Eve, shouting out "Happy New Year" as balloons and confetti fell from the ceiling at the strike of midnight. And then going around the room hugging and kissing people, some that we knew and some that we didn't. To quote one friend, "I am aching to be in a mosh pit or at an epic rave". (We'd specifically been reminiscing about this fun evening spent at the Gladstone Hotel, a few New Year's Eves ago)
But, of course, the world is now in the midst of this pandemic which has robbed us all of the option of such carefree joy in welcoming a new year -- for future readers, this was the second New Year's Eve spent in Covid's tenacious grip, with numbers higher than we've seen so far. So, everything was shut down this year, and celebrations were limited to very small groups of family and friends. Toronto's decades-long tradition of a big outdoor celebration in the square in front of City Hall was cancelled for the second year. They did, however, still put on a firework display which began at twelve o’clock, launched from a boat out in the harbour. Most enjoyed the show televised or online from their living room, but some, including myself, who lived close enough, went for a masked and socially distanced walk to the waterfront to see them in person.
I wish I could say that the fireworks looked gorgeous, but, thanks to the low hanging clouds they weren't all that visible. Regardless, they did still happen, and based on the reactions I observed, were appreciated by many this New Year's Eve which lead the way to 2022.
To look on the bright side, the weather was dry and mild, so it made for a very nice walk and the city looked beautiful. Here are some photos taken during my late night adventure ...
Vintage Christmas Decor 2021 : Secondhand Finds
Hello! I won't even pretend that everything is jolly and bright this holiday season, given that we've all been hit with the trying times of this awful pandemic, but I'll attempt to send warmth and joy with these images of the vintage Christmas things I've found at the thrift store and on ebay over the past year. Maybe looking at the cutest kitten figurines you've ever seen will bring some cheer.
I've changed the way I usually present my thrift store finds this time because I forgot to take photos of each item by itself before putting the pieces into various vignettes displayed throughout our home. So, here are pictures of the displays instead, with details and commentary, including prices, on everything I found included in a Youtube video. And, at the end of the video, you'll see these same displays brought more to life in a short film.
Pretty well every decorative item we have is vintage, with many being found at thrift stores or on ebay over the years, so, to highlight the new things acquired this past year, the comments below the photos refer only those things.
The Value Village I shop at is the one at Lansdowne and Bloor in Toronto. There are also three things from The Salvation Army Thrift in Parkdale, which I've just begun to check out this year.
Cross-Stitch on Paper : Christmas Tree Pattern
Hello! Given that I now have a "cross-stitch on paper" piece for most holidays and seasons now, you might say that this is a craft I truly enjoy doing. It's a quick and fun creative pass time, that results in a cute handmade item that you can frame or make into a greeting card.
You will find a "How To" post here and a video demonstration here, so I won't repeat how this is done here. Instead I'll show you the little Christmas tree I've recently designed a pattern for, which you are welcome to use yourself.
And, if you also become hooked on this craft, you might want to begin a collection of your own creations, so I'll link all the other holiday and seasonal ones I've made at the end of the post. Happy stitching!
Ten Years Later – Woolen Blankets Washed at Home and Other Thoughts
Hello! Well, I've been creating this blog for over a decade now. That amounts to one thousand and four hundred posts (so far).
One of my first stories (found here) published on November 30th, 2011, was about the first time I washed a vintage secondhand woolen blanket at home in our washer and dryer. This old nugget has turned out to be the third most viewed post to date, continuing to be read by someone somewhere every day.
Before then, I'd not tried to home clean the blanket because, as do all pure wool items, it came with the recommendation to "dry-clean only" unless you want to risk ruining them. But my blanket was already old, hadn't cost very much to begin with (I got it on ebay) and wasn't being used because it was quite scratchy and needed a clean but I didn't really want to spend the money to have it dry-cleaned (today, it costs $40 to $50 to do that). Well, I say it wasn't being used, but that was until one day I saw that my mister Nick had found it pushed to the back of the linen closet, where it had been lingering for a few years, and pulled it out only to plunk it down onto the cat's bed.
That's when I decided this beautiful textile was not yet ready to be deemed a pet blanket, and I was going to try washing it in our home washer and dryer. I'd read up on felting wool and seen that it could be softened by agitation in hot water and drying on high heat. Certainly, this came with the guarantee that the wool would shrink, but I didn't mind if this blanket shrank. So, I did it.
And since then, we've been using it every winter and cleaning it at home for a decade now. You'll see by these photos, that it still looks great. I really quite love it, actually. It's warm and cozy and always smells fresh and is perfect for a cold winter's evening on the sofa.
So, I thought it was time to revisit that early post and to show people what this blanket looks like now. A couple more vintage woolen blankets have since joined it in the "wash-it-at-home" regime and have done just fine.
Now, knowing they can be cleaned at home, please don't hesitate to pick up a woolen blanket at the thrift store or to pull an old one out of the cupboard because of the cost of dry-cleaning it.
Disclaimer : Only try this on pure wool (not blended), woven (not knitted), blankets that are not valuable nor precious to you.
Here's a short video about the process ...
Speaking of our dearly departed Eddie Boycat and this blanket, check out this post of his Christmas portrait photo shoot with the blanket as a back drop. We miss him so much.
Also, here are a few shots of these blankets being used during an outdoor "socially distanced" visit with my friend Meghan, on a cool November afternoon last year. Oh, how misconceived we were, believing that the pandemic would soon be over and we would be back to sitting inside, side by side on the sofa watching movies together. We all know how that has turned out.
Decorating for Halloween – Photos and a Video
Hi! Here are a few areas of our home decorated for Halloween.
Compared to other vintage collectors, who have awe inspiring selections of cool old blow-molds and mid-century figurines, my specific Halloween things fit into one bin. But, what I lack in "real" items I've tried to make up with things we had around the house, which I arranged in such a way that they tell a Halloweenie story.
Below these photos, you'll find quite a few details about what you're looking at and links to other related posts, but if you'd prefer a look around without all the written chat, please check out the video tour I made of the displays, all set to spooky music. Certainly, pictures are good, but I think the video might be more interesting. Then, if you'd like to know about the details, you can find them written down below. Thank you in advance, if you do watch the video.
↑ Click here to watch the video or go to YouTube and find me here, or search the site for Loulou Downtown. ↑