How Does Your Garden Grow?

As we’ve talked about before, Chicago was Victory Garden Central during WWII. During the war, 1,500 urban gardens popped up, the North Park neighborhood had the largest garden in the country, and tons of food was produced.

Victory gardening was a way for the nation to prioritize its major agricultural resources. Large-scale farming operations could concentrate of the crops needed to feed armies and keep the homefront going with things that couldn’t be effectively gardened, like wheat and corn. Vegetables, which were nutritionally important, and possible to grow at home, were outsourced to the populace, largely women.

The Peterson Garden Project carries on that legacy, by providing space and education for urban gardening. I garden at Vedgewater, at the corner of Broadway and Rosemont. A garden on top of concrete lot, it definitely meets the “urban” requirement. I can see the Red Line “L” train go by from my plot.

Where would you buy ground cherries, for instance?

While I am not producing enough food to make it through rationing, it is a nice addition to our purchased food. I am definitely keeping us in greens. The real retrofitting value lies in feeling more connected to the weather, nature, and my neighbors. I’m also able to grow older and interesting varieties of vegetables, that don’t have enough appeal/ease of growing/etc to be available commercially.
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Out and About: Laura Petrie at the AIC

“I have to stop objectifying Mary Tyler Moore!” I told B the other night.

We’ve been watching a lot of the Dick Van Dyke Show.

The jokes are great, the show is often very forward-thinking in it’s early sixties way, and the cast is just stellar. Though I love dark comedy, there’s something refreshing about a show where everyone is funny, basically decent, and trying to do the right thing.

I mean, look at her!

Things I’m digging:

  • Rob and Laura have a loving marriage, and the comedy is never based on disrespecting each other.
  • Rose. Marie.
  • I think I’ve always had a crush on early sixties Dick Van Dyke.
  • All of the main characters are smart.
  • Male and female non-romantic friendship is featured prominently.
  • Holy. Cats. Mary Tyler Moore’s body was amazing. (See? I need to stop!)

So when the mister and I decided to take advantage of a free night at the Art Institute of Chicago, it’s no surprise that my sartorial inspiration quickly ran to Mary Tyler Moore’s incomparable Laura Petrie.

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Spring Inspiration 2017: A Pinterest Board

The weather is turning, and soon (one hopes!) it will be time to turn over my closet.

I’m thinking of lighter fabrics, things that flow and swing. And so, I made a Pinterest board to organize the kinds of vintage styles I want to wear. Take a look at the shapes, colors, and types of vintage garments that are inspiring me this spring:

 

Highlights:

1930s Bias-Cut

I’ve got a new sewing pattern, along with a couple of sweet thrift store dresses that center on that distinctly 1930s bias-cut shape. I’m really feeling those slim 1930s lines lately.

Tap Pants

It will surprise exactly no one that a good deal of my board is full of old-timey lingerie. I’ve been meaning to make a ton of tap pants for awhile. The advantages of these sweet little undershorts are spelled out very well over at Flashback Summer, but I will chime in to sing their warm-weather praises: Less chafing! Easier for biking while wearing a skirt!

1930s and 1940s Wide-Leg Trousers

I love the Wearing History Smooth Sailing Trousers–I’ve made them several times. For spring and summer, I have a black twill and a khaki cotton pair. Perfect for feeling like Kate Hepburn, and for a casual look that is still a little elegant.

Shirt Dresses

Shirt dresses are so easy, and adorable. I plan to get a lot of use out of mine this season.

I think the blur makes it look like an old picture.

Does a seasonal change make you want to change your wardrobe? How are you feeling this spring?

 

Spring Time

Spring has technically sprung.

After a mild winter, I’m surprised that I’m still feeling that spring stirring, but feel it I do. Snowdrops and crocuses are dotting the block, the seed catalogs are looking alluring, and it’s possible (not likely, but possible) we got the last of the snow last week. (I didn’t say that.)

With more light and a general sense of possibility, I’m feeling optimistic for my immediate domestic sphere. Like many people, “optimistic” has not been able to describe my general mood since November, at least when looking at the general state of affairs in the world. But in my smaller world, it’s spring and it’s time to clear the dust out the corners. Because if I’m going to be horrified on the regular, the smallest comforts seem necessary.

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Mad Femme Skills: On Empowered Femininity

I took a poll on Facebook last spring about skills that have been traditionally been assigned as “feminine” and found that lots of us, all across the gender spectrum, feel like we missed out on some of them.

Thus, a new series here on Retrofitting Vintage: Femme Skills! A collection of tutorials on various “woman” skills that can be useful for anyone who wants to learn them.

Donna Reed Domestic
Donna Reed has nothing on us.

Gender expression is sensitive territory for a lot of folks, and femininity is a strange space. It is not my intention to be proscriptive, or tell anyone how to express their gender. There are many ways to be a feminine person, and this series just breaks down skills for some of the tasks that are traditionally given to women.

Note: This is not the kind of femininity I’m talking about:

 

What I’m most interested in is celebrating the feminine. Too often the traits and activities which are most valued and considered the most important and “real” are those that have been ascribed masculine realm. In this great piece on “empowering femininity,” Julia Serano writes:

“Of course the reason why it is particularly easy to ridicule the idea of empowering femininity is because we (all of us, as a society) already harbor dismissive attitudes toward anything considered feminine. And the very point I was trying to make is that we should move beyond this knee-jerk tendency to dismiss and demean feminine gender expression.”

I am much more interested in the how-tos of feminine activity than I am in any “here is how to be a woman” kind of post. Be a person however you want to be, whatever your gender and how you choose to express it. If you’re interested in traditionally feminine activities, this series may be interesting to you.

I’ll be here with some how-tos and zero judgement. Upcoming posts include: How To Wear A Dress, How To Be Welcoming, and How To Talk To A Child.

What kind of feminine skills remain a mystery to you?