17 posts categorized "Authors"

Writer's Block: From A Girl's Point of View

Vintage smith coronoa pink typewriter
(photo courtesy of Joe Vintage)

My daughter has been asking for a vintage typewriter for years now.  That's one vintage passion she shares with me.  She's an avid writer, her notebooks are scattered around our world--I find them in the car, all over our house, and occasionally in the trash when she gets writer's block.  I try to tell her not to throw it away, that sometimes you just need to leave it alone for awhile.  I guess I've been following my own advice.

It seems the faster paced world of tweeting & status updates have pushed the more time consuming, thought provoking world of blogging to the back burner.  Typical of the "instant gratification" culture of today.  I'm guilty of it--I know that as of today 281 people on Facebook will see what I scored at an estate sale if I post it there.  I highly doubt a blog post devoted to it would bring that sort of traffic. 

Reading and writing blogs is time consuming, but in a far better way than Twitter & Facebook can be.  I've come to know some rather amazing people through their insightful, witty, and informative blogs.  They make me laugh, cry, gasp & blush...I have, in a virtual sense, welcomed their newborn babes into this world and stood graveside with my arm around their shoulder when they've had to let someone go...

So here's to an occasional well-written blog post and finding my girl a pink vintage typewriter--something like this.

xx ~ Michelle

The Language of Clothes

"In language we distinguish between someone who speaks a sentence well--clearly, and with confidence and dignity--and someone who speaks it badly.  In dress too, manner is as important as matter, and in judging the meaning of any garment we will automatically consider whether it fits well or is too large or too small; whether it is old or new; and especially whether it is in good condition, slightly rumpled and soiled or crushed and filthy.  Cleanliness may not always be next to godliness, but it is usually regarded as a sign of respectability or at least of self-respect.  It is also a sign of status, since to be clean and neat always involves the expense of time and money." 

The Language of Clothes
by Alison Lurie (1981)

The Language of Clothes by Alison Lurie

Or, if you prefer a more recent edition with a fabulous retro-looking cover and a new introduction about fashion today,  this was published in 2000...but it's paperback.

The Language of Clothes by Alison Lurie 2000


(First of what I hope will be many sartorial food-for-thought quotes from this captivating book.)

xx ~ Michelle

Books: A Little Something for Everyone

There seems to be no shortage of fascinating new book releases as of late.  Most titles were featured in the October issue of Vanity Fair/Fanfair/Flipping Out with a few of my own favorites thrown into the mix.


Cecil Beaton: The New York Years

Rules of Civility Amor Towles 

Rules of Civility: A Novel 
(I managed to snag one of the last of two signed copies at Edgartown Books last month!)


Preppy-Cultivating Ivy Style 

Preppy: Cultivating Ivy Style

Marilyn Intimate Exposures 

Marilyn: Intimate Exposures

Diana Vreeland The Eye Has To Travel 

Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel


Jacqueline Kennedy Historic Conversation on Life with John F. Kennedy 

Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy



xx ~ Michelle

Julie Powell and I

I venture to say I'm probably the last middle aged woman in the USA who can say she's seen "Julie and Julia" starring Meryl Streep, Amy Adams and Stanley Tucci.  I watched it tonight and have to admit it was above and beyond what I expected.   Julia Child was often found in our house, chattering away on the TV (in black & white)  while my mother sat at the kitchen table, sipping coffee, yacking on the phone with her sister (who lived upstairs from us, which left me, at a mere 5 years old, pondering the insanity of having to call her when you could just stand on a chair in the kitchen near the heat vent and hear what was going on up there just fine).

I don't remember ever tasting anything very divine at our kitchen table, which probably means my mother didn't really watch Julia to learn how to cook French food, but it was more about having another adult around in a sea of little people.  (I understood that concept completely once I became a mother.)  I, however, would sit about a foot away from the convex bubble screen of the TV and be mesmerized by her.  Her accent, her laugh, that she didn't ever worry about one of those pans falling from above and clunking her in the head, and her food.  Of course the swigs from the bottle of chianti always caused hand covered giggles, we would run into the kitchen and copy her, trying to outrun my mother as she screamed for us to "put that down!"   These are my memories of Julia.

If you blog and are trying to live your passion, whatever it may be, this movie probably struck a cord with you as well.  It brought back the trepidation of that first blog post~~of having the power to "PUBLISH" your thoughts, dreams, opinions, likes, dislikes, wishes, and words.  If you are a writer, this was your chance to, at the very least, have that creative outlet that is as necessary as dancing is to the dancer.  Powerful and terrifying at the same time. "No one is going to read this anyway" ~~ remember that?  I still face that demon from time to time.  And the supportive significant other....I'd venture to say that blogging and the narcissism it can foster (if allowed) has been guilty of, if not breaking up relationships then of putting a heavy strain on them. 

The ups and downs of Julie's year felt very much like my last five years operating an online vintage shop and blogging about my love for vintage.  As my 5 year Anniversary for Tales & The Shoe approaches, I realize that although The New York Times hasn't called, that I can count on one hand the blog posts that have had more than 10 comments and that I've never had readers send me gifts through the mail.....I am happy to report that I've "met" some wonderful people through my journey, that my husband has not left me over my vintage adventure and remains quietly yet constantly supportive, and my stats tell me somewhere out there are people who read my blog, or at the very least take a peek.  And above all, despite the ups and downs and joy and tears, I still love it.  And that's what Ms. Powell and I have in common. 

I'm certain Julie Powell continues to create masterpieces in her kitchen...because that year changed her life and she embraced the change.  And she has that adorable husband to cook for.

I'm certain I will continue to unearth vintage treasures.....because these last five years have changed my life and I have embraced it.  And I have you adorable readers to write for and shoppers to shop for.

Back to the cutting board....

xx ~ Michelle

Vintage Egypt: Cruising The Nile In The Golden Age of Travel

Vintage Egypt

A quick stop at Homegoods last summer brought into my possession this amazing book: 
Vintage Egypt ~ Crusing the Nile in the Golden Age of Travel by Alain Blottiere.

"Men in white suits and Panama hats, women with perfectly set bobs, billboards for Hennessy cognac, palm trees and camels: Egypt in the first half of the 20th century had an allure that felt European but was distinctly exotic. This intriguing book shows what life was like for the privileged classes in Cairo and Alexandria during the British occupation. Blottiere, a Frenchman who has written novels and nonfiction works on Egypt, assembles an amazing array of many previously unpublished photographs of private homes, museums, landscapes and street scenes. Black & white or sepia-toned, the photographs depict such snapshots as a picnic in a palm grove in the early 1900s, a 1920s costume party in Cairo and the crew of the film Fires of Fate standing in the Temple of Luxor in 1923. Blottiere offers varying commentary for each image, sometimes giving background, other times simply stating the subject, photographer and year. Brief essays shed light on the era's conflicting undertones of glamour and political fragility." (borrowed from Amazon Book Review)

xx ~ Michelle

Romancing The Telegram

Whenever I watch an old movie, or a new movie set in a by~gone era, I always hope for a "Telegram Scene".  Take, for example, in The Age of Innocence.   Newland Archer visits Ellen Olenska in her home and there is the heart~rending exchange between them:  he admits he is in love with her, and she with him, but she is a married woman separated from an evil man, and he is engaged to marry her cousin May...

(He's holding her. He kisses her and she kisses him back passionately. She breaks away and they stare at each other. Then she shakes her head.)

ARCHER: "No! Everything is different. Do you see me marrying May now?"

ELLEN:  "Would you ask her that question? Would you?. . . Newland.  You couldn't be happy if it meant being cruel. If we act any other way I'll be making you act against what I love in you most. And I can't go back to that way of thinking. Don't you see?  I can't love you unless I give you up."

(They look at each other for a moment more. Then Ellen picks up a bell and rings for the maid. The maid enters carrying Ellen's cloak and hat, and a telegram)

MAID: (in Italian) "This was delivered."

(Ellen takes the envelope, reads it and hands it to Archer)

MAY: (via Telegram to Ellen from St. Augustine)  "Granny's telegram was successful. Papa and Mama agreed to marriage after Easter. Only a month!  I will telegraph Newland.   I'm too happy for words and love you dearly. Your grateful cousin, May. " 

(In the drawing room at Ellen's house that night. Archer reads the telegram and crumples it up in disappointment. . . )*

*(From film script for The Age of Innocence, 1993 )

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton 

Ah, the power and romance of "The Telegram".  At an age when telephones were rare, email was the way a foreigner tried to ask for his mail when he was far from home, and texting was a word used by letterpresses and stationary houses in reference to font preference, the telegram was one of the foremost means of long~distance communication.  Treaties were signed.  Hearts were broken.  And everything else in between can be found typed onto those little paper remnants from the past.

Telegram Stop.com


Telegram Stop service 

Telegram Stop service (2)

Telegram Stop service (3) 
TelegramStop.com *

The guaranteed way to get someone's attention even in this very modern world.

*Thanks to "The Unusual Times"  for informing the gin~drinkers of the world about this...

xx ~ Michelle


Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart

"Be it a jewel or toy, not the prize gives the joy, but the striving to win the prize." 
~ Owen Meredith (Edward Robert Bulwer-Lytton)

While true in many instances of life, this may be one exception to Sir Bulwer-Lytton's poetic quote.  A few weeks ago I learned of a Give~Away via Lily Lemontree.  The host was Sarah of My Little Boudoir, and she was generous enough to host a give~away to win a signed copy of this fabulous book:  

Summer at Tiffany
by Marjorie Hart.

Having a rare spare minute or two, I entered the give~away and spent a few hours day dreaming (while ironing, that is)  about how great it would be if I actually won...just the cover photograph had sent me reeling into old~world New York...

Half awake, waiting for the coffee to finish perking just after 6:00 o'clock this morning, I opened my "mail" and found this:

Hi Michelle,

Good evening. I wanted to let you know that you were selected (using
random.org) as the winner of the signed copy of "Summer at Tiffany" on
If you'd like to send me your mailing address, I will get it sent off to you
this week.
Here is the link for the post as a reminder:
Congratulations and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! Thanks for your

Best regards,



Oh joy of joys!!  The prize giveth the joy! 
Thank you, My Little Boudoir, you made my day!


xx ~ Michelle


Seems some very wintry weather is headed straight for us here on the NE coast, so I spent the day making the usual preparations:  a visit to the market, a visit to our local package store, making sure the laundry was caught up & that there were plenty of candles & lamp oil in the kerosene lanterns just in case we lose power, reminding my DH to check the fuel in the snow blower, planning what to cook tonight that I can turn into a great soup for tomorrow, wood for the fireplace, and lest we forget the chocolate, I even remembered that: 
Moser Roth Dark European Chocolate   
One each of "Chili" (oh yum!) & "Orange & Almond".  I'm no chocolate expert, I'm quite happy with a good old Hershey Bar and a glass of ice cold milk, but when I want something a bit more sophisticated (but that doesn't break the bank) this does the trick.

 I also managed to squeeze in a little "Treasure Hunting" and found these lovely additions for my library:

Library additions

Clockwise from top left:

1.)  How to Finish Old American Houses   by Henry L. Williams and Ottalie K. Williams
2.)  A Life of Privilege, Mostly   by
Gardner Botsford
3.)   Out of This World ~ Across the Himalayas to Forbidden Tibet   by
Lowell Thomas
4.)  The Best of Kipling   by Rudyard Kipling

EXHIBIT #1:  Having gone to Old Sturbridge Village  for my annual class field trip every year of elementary school, I suppose it was inevitable that I would grow up to love old colonial style decor.  While my classmates groaned & complained the moment our teacher announced (with false excitement) that "This year we are going to . . . Old Sturbridge Village!!", secretly,  I was elated that we would be making the trip back in time . . . If you've never been, and ever find yourself in that neck of the woods, make it a point to include this tour in your itinerary.  It's an all day affair, but well worth it.  Sturbridge is also home of the infamous Publick House and an abundance of antique stores & shoppes.  If you time it right, you can spend some time browsing the Vintage Fashion & Textile Show and spend a day treasure hunting at The Brimfield Flea Market.   Needless to say,  EXHIBIT #1 was calling my name from it's shelf, and will be a perfect accompaniment beside the fire with a glass of port over the next few days.

Sturbridge Antique & Textile Show

(Photo courtesy of Vintage Fashions & Textile Show Site)

EXHIBIT #2:  I have to admit it was the cover of this book  that caught my eye (yes, I have been known to pick a book for it's cover and nothing else . . . please, don't judge me).  The title, too, brought a little smile to my face.  It told me this author had a sense of humor, and did not take his "privileged life" all that serious . . . perfect!  I'm probably the only person who didn't know that Gardner Botsford was the editor of The New Yorker for 40 years.  Don't judge me for that, either.  I enjoy the New Yorker, usually for about 10 minutes a week when I'm in the check out line somewhere or at the library waiting for my daughter to decide which Judy Moody book to check out this time.  I suppose if I lived closer to the city, it would be profitable to know about all those great plays and the goings~on about town, but it usually just leaves me sighing and reminds me that we have an 8:00 pm cut off for take-out delivery around here ~~ a far cry from life in the big city.   With that said, I am looking forward to reading this memoir . . . and if I never get to it, at least I know who Gardner Botsford is now if I ever end up on Jeopardy.  (Is that show still on, by the way?)

Nov 1930 New Yorker Magazine

(Photo courtesy of The New Yorker)

EXHIBIT #3:  Out of This World was in my basket even before I met a pair of  "older" gentlemen who were taking advantage of  Senior Citizen Tuesday and were hunting for books as well.   I smiled at one of them and he smiled back ( a rare occurrence in New England, if you live here you know how friendly everyone is)  and he asked me what I had found.  A delightful conversation ensued, and he told me all about the author, Lowell Thomas.  Again, it was the cover & title of this book that appealed to me, although I had no idea who the author was.  But now I do, thanks to my SC fellow treasure hunter pal.  I hope to run into him again, he had a great smile (and nice shoes, come to think of it)


Lowell Thomas

(Photo courtesy of Photographers Gallery)

EXHIBIT #4:  Saving the best for last: The Best of Kipling.  My step~father used to read Kipling to us after dinner, we'd sit around the table and he would pick an excerpt from one of his works and read to us.  My sisters would slowly disappear from the dining room, but I always stayed, hanging onto every word.   He has a beautiful collection of books in his library, and we have always enjoyed finding books for each other over the years.  But, since he has all of Kipling's works, this one will stay here.

(Photo courtesy of  Emsworth )

I am pleased to declare I am blizzard~ready & armed . . . let the snowflakes begin!

(In the meantime, my parents are just arriving at this fabulous spot . . . talk about perfect timing!)


xx ~ Michelle