If Only: I Baked Like Sabrina

if onlyif only I baked like sabrina

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If only I baked as well as Sabrina learned how to in Paris, I wouldn’t need to cheat a bit with those dough stamps, that adorable cake mold, and that super-simplifying silicon crust cover. Nor would I have to dazzle anyone’s eyes with that pink mixer, those gold cheese knives, or those vintage pie servers. As it is though, those things couldn’t really hurt…If I could only ask Sabrina one question, I would ask if she ever baked in anything not cinched at the waist and adorable. I was thinking something more resembling my baking attire: slippered feet, sweatshirt, and sweats that somehow end up every year with flour hand-prints on them no matter what I do. You probably never did that either, did you Sabrina?

Strangely enough, I like my traditions of preparing for holidays better than the actual thing. Wednesday I will stay all day in my slippers and bake until the entire kitchen gets toasty cozy from baking for Thanksgiving. And this year? I have a new pre-Thanksgiving tradition: home-made cappuccinos from my new espresso machine that I can’t wait to figure out. Who knew coffee grounds + milk could be so complicated? I’m willing to struggle and figure it out for that goodness though. Today is my birthday *eek* and that espresso machine was a certain someone’s brilliant insight into the fact that coffee is a certain way to securing my love. Since my birthday landed on a Monday this year, I was absolutely forced to begin celebrating last Friday. I had no choice. Honestly. So today will mark my third “birthday dinner” and my third day seeing how much people love me and how many wonderful things they do to make me feel special. So far, it’s been quite off the charts and I’m pretty certain this next year will be wonderful with all of them filling it.

– <3 A. 

Guest Pinner: If Nancy Wake Pinned

nancy wakenancy wake repins via | via | Nancy Wake image and bio via

In 2013 America, it’s hard to imagine that there are and were spys. That people endangered their lives, lived in fear, and started everyday not completely certain they would end it still in this world.

Nancy Wake was one of the most decorated members of the French Resistance during WWII, earning the French government’s highest military medal, and England and America’s second highest. Leaving home at 16, she worked as a nurse and then a freelance journalist until she fell in love with the city of Paris and her future Parisian husband. Her subsequent social standing and wealth acquired from her marriage, made her a less than suspicious French citizen and when the war broke out, she became an escort and courier to the Allies, helping hundreds of injured airmen escape to safety into Spain. Her years as a journalist in Vienna showed her first-hand how brutal the Nazi regime was, and her hatred for them overcame any fear she might have felt as a member of the French Resistance. Besides, she wanted to do her part for the war effort, for she never understood “why we women should just wave our men a proud goodbye and then knit them balaclavas.” In 1943 when the Nazis finally discovered her activities, her husband was executed and she barely escaped to England where she joined the S.O.E. intelligence group. Wake parachuted back into France along with other S.O.E. members to set up communication lines, and gather and hide ammunition before D-Day for the incoming American and British forces.

Wake used her femininity as an advantage, knowing, as a woman in the 1940’s, she wouldn’t have been suspected  as the elusive “white mouse” that the Germans eventually knew her as. Her success and courage during the war years has made her a subject of documentaries, films, and dramas about her life. In a 2011 article published after her death in The New York Times, she said she enjoyed the re-made versions of her life except for the ones that portrayed her as having affairs during the war years. Though by her own admission she loved nothing more than “a good drink” and handsome men, she never had an affair because, she said, “if I had accommodated one man, the word would have spread around, and I would have had to accommodate the whole damn lot!” If Nancy Wake pinned, I think her boards would have a poignancy, a drama, and a sense of courage from a woman who knew exactly how far her femininity could get her and when to draw the line against an evil world.

Happy Veterans Day to all the veterans and currently serving men and women who will be someday!

**Check out this article too about another WWII female spy and the upcoming movie about her tragic and powerful life.** 

– <3 A. 

Guest-Pinner: If Marguerite Patten Pinned

guest-pinner: if marguerite patten pinnedguest-pinner: if marguerite patten pinned

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Before Julia Child, Food Network, and Top Chef there was Marguerite Patten: now 97, Patten has been a pro at teaching people to cook well even in the worst of times. Before World War II, Marguerite landed a job for Frigidaire as a cookery demonstrator. During the war, England’s Ministry of Food hired her to host a radio program called “Kitchen Front.” The program focused on teaching listeners how to ration and still have a meal taste good…not wasting even a shred of food during a time where it was very difficult to get many ingredients at all. Post-war, she authored 170 cookbooks…yep…triple digits people, and even at 97 years old, modern foodies are still going to her for advice.

So what does she say about cooking in the modern, not-so-hot economy? Cook in a pressure cooker to save energy, and when you go to a grocery store? Patten describes them as “Aladdin’s cave(s).Don’t go in without making a good old-fashioned shopping list and then stick to it.” But my all-time favorite quote is her opinion about modern convenience foods like pre-made, microwave, save-me-a-minute food: “Basically I don’t like any of them. Though I would far rather people bought them than had a nervous breakdown. But please augment them with fresh vegetables.” Her interview with the UK’s The Telegraph is hilarious. Even though she now suffers from arthritis because she says she was “the idiot who fell between the train and the platform,” she still hates it when people try and make her live in the past in her career-peak years during the war: “what a load of nonsense. Who wants to go back to six months without a fresh tomato? Not me.”

If Marguerite Patten pinned, I think her boards wouldn’t show a shred of regret for the past because it seems she never really looks back except perhaps to illustrate how best to move forward.

Happy Friday everyone! Next week marks VMMV’s first birthday, eek! I can’t believe it’s been a year. I’ve got a special post to share with everyone about what I’ve learned since posting that first painful post. Argh, every blogger says it but its true, with every new month/year of blogging, the early times become a little, uh, embarrassing? If you’ve been with me since then, I love you guys for stickin’ around even though I’m sure sometimes you may have grimaced and groaned. Also, something else I should share, as of last month, I’m a sponsor of Erin James’ sweet blog so check it out this weekend when you’re hopefully in your pajamas too long doing nothing but anything you want :)

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– <3 A. 

Guest Pinner: If Beverly Cleary Pinned

vmmv guest pinner seriesvmmv guest pinner seriesBeverly Cleary image via | repins via | via | via | via | via | via

 Creative Writing degrees are worth something for sure, but, I’ve always been of the school of thought that writers, like artists, are just sort of born with it. If you’ve got it, you’ve just got it and no amount of instruction, degrees, classes, and practice will make you one if you aren’t. The wrath of English teachers and creative writing MFA’s everywhere may rain upon me but I’m serious! If you don’t have the gift of storytelling, no one can really teach you. You can improve for sure, but excel? Perhaps not. Beverly Cleary I think would agree. She often said in private interviews that she didn’t really study other children’s books, she just wrote from her own experiences. When children would write to her for tips about writing their own tales she would say that when the time came when they should write, if they indeed should, they would find their own way of writing and would “not need tips to guide them.” Beverly Cleary actually struggled in her first few years of school to learn to read. Even though she struggled, she was obsessed with reading and ended up getting a degree in Library Science from the University of Washington, Seattle.  She didn’t write her first book until she was in her thirties, but she would become one of the most award-winning children’s book authors ever with her tales about the adventures of Ramona Quimby.

If Beverly Cleary pinned, I think her boards would be quite inspirational for the self-taught and the self-motivated. If you’re good at something, no lack of opportunity or educational experience can really stop you. Beverly Cleary just read, and read, and read, and then she wrote…very well might I interject…and we still can’t get enough of her.

Happy new week everyone! Mondays really can’t help being a drag, but it’s now officially Autumn and October is just a week away so that’s something to celebrate!

– <3 A. 

This Girl

jordan brantley

Sometimes it’s hard to find time for your own blog. When you have other responsibilities in this crazy thing of life, it’s difficult to justify that you really must sit down to compose a post instead of attending to more immediate to-do’s like *ugh* homework or preparing for work the next day. Because of my time-management issues, I always marvel/envy/ruminate jealously about all the bloggers who seem like they update 24/7 on instagram, pinterest, their blogs etc. They’re constantly posting, updating, collaborating with and launching new ideas, projects, and joint ventures and honestly, I begin to wonder, was I born into the 24 hour-day planet and they were born into some alternative universe of a 48 hour one? Because sometimes I think, I really do believe I’m missing something…

To cut my envy problems short though, I often don’t share things from other blogs because I barely have time to share my own ideas. For this girl though, I’ve got time. You probably remember her as my blog designer. If you haven’t been following her already, please, please please do it now. This week she launched her new design business/blog and oh. my. Besides being absolutely GORGEOUS, her site is incredibly inspiring and helpful for any creative at any stage of their blog/website/business. Before she launched the site, she asked me to join some of her other clients in writing a testimonial about my own experience working with her to redesign this space. I jumped at the chance– I felt so honored to join the ranks of her other fabulous clients–Check out my testimonial here as well as some of the other design stories from the sites she’s had her hand in transforming. You can read it in her own words, but she’s bent on building your brand–whatever that might be or what you envision it to be– and I’m so excited to see what wonderful projects she will be sharing on this new space. Congratulations Jordan!

image via jordanbrantley.com | photo cred: Sarah Eddy 

– <3 A.

Guest Pinner: If Nellie Bly Pinned

nellie bly repins

nellie bly repinsNellie Bly images and signature via| repins via | via |via | via | via | via

Have you seen the new(ish) Channing Tatum movie Side Effects? I won’t give anything away but I was intrigued–and not just by him because he isn’t in the movie all that long, and that’s all I’m gonna say about it–but when I was reading up about Nellie Bly, heralded as the world’s first (female) investigative journalist, and her primary investigative success “Ten Days in a Madhouse,” I was even more intrigued by this real-life version of that flick **the movie is a little slow but watch it! It’s got some serious twists you won’t see coming**. I stumbled across her by chance ironically right after watching Side Effects and I wondered how I’d gone so long without hearing about this pretty spectacular lady.

In 1885, Nellie Bly read a Pittsburgh newspaper article entitled “What Girls are Good For.” The article denounced female aspirations and education, and 21 year old Elizabeth Cochran wrote a letter to the editor of the Pittsburgh Dispatch denouncing him for publishing such views on women. The editor was so impressed by Elizabeth’s writing voice that he eventually offered her a full-time job writing under the pen name “Nellie Bly.” Readers of the “Dispatch” weren’t as impressed as the editor was though, and Nellie ended up getting the typically “female” topics of gardening, fashion, and gossip to avoid public backlash about a female reporter reporting on topics she couldn’t possibly know anything about. Disgusted by the inane topics she was forced to write about, Nellie turned in her resignation, and, a few years later, landed a position writing for the “New York World.” Because of some investigative work she had done in Mexico between writing for the “Dispatch” and the “World,” Bly was tasked to go “undercover” into a madhouse for women. Nellie feigned insanity, convincing doctors that she should be put into the asylum on Blackwell’s Island in order to investigate the living conditions for “patients” of the hospital. What she discovered was horrifying: While the doctors and nurses ate and lived like royalty, the patients were fed off flour soaked in water, kept tied up like animals, and treated like hardened prisoners. She spent ten days in the asylum and then was rescued by agents from the “World.” Her articles written about the atrocities committed at the hospital resulted in public outcry and new laws mandating better treatment and more money allocated for women at similar institutions.

Her ideas for her articles were fascinating, bold, fearless, and completely unique. In the late 1800’s she proposed that she could travel around the world faster than Jules Verne’s main character in Around the World in Eighty Days. The “World” sponsored her trip and even started a reader guessing game as to what day she would return back to the States in order to keep interest in Bly’s voyage. Bly landed back on American soil just seventy-two days after starting her voyage. The woman was incredible, and not just because it was the 1800’s, but because she had incredible passion for her writing and for writing about things that truly mattered. She was creative, cutting edge, intelligent, and couldn’t be intimidated. If Nellie Bly pinned I’d be all over her boards because who knew what the next thing Bly would do?

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– <3 A. 

Other Guest-Pinners:

annecollage4   beatrixpotterpinterest   clarabartonguestpinner

  Anne of Green Gables             Beatrix Potter                     Clara Barton 

Guest-Pinner: If Clara Barton Pinned

clara barton repins via Ez Pudewa

clarabartonguestpinnerClara Barton image and bio via | repins via | via |

The only guest-pinner I could think of befitting the Independence month of July was Clara Barton. I think everyone has a foggy memory of learning about her as the founder of the American chapter of the Red Cross somewhere among the forgotten years of elementary school, but what you might not remember is that woman had some serious balls! (sorry, but seriously, that’s the only way to put it).

Interestingly enough, Clara started off her life as a terrified little soul, too timid even to continue in the school her parents sent her to and she even stopped eating, so overwhelmed was she by the interactions she was forced to make at school. But beneath her timidity, Clara was something of a brilliant tomboy. She loved to play with her male siblings and cousins and she was so good with managing children, she opened a school at the age of 17 and taught there for over a decade. When the school board hired a man over Clara to head the school she had been growing to upwards of 600 students following the completion of her own education, she up and quit, and became the first woman to hold a substantial paid job for the federal government in the U.S. Patent Office. Of course, she’s most famous for founding and leading the American chapter of the Red Cross, the first meeting of the organization actually met in her own personal apartment. What I love most about her though is that despite her ambition, insistence on fairness, and the powerful positions she held, Clara never lost sight of the fact that she was a woman and developed her teaching and nurturing strengths to influence an entire nation with her feminine abilities. If Clara Barton pinned, I think her boards would have a beautiful strength because, after all, for some things, only a woman knows best.

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I hope everyone had a safe and wonderful Fourth of July! I’ve got recipes and pics to share as soon as I get a moment to get them off my camera and onto this place, oh yes, and happy weekend!

– <3 A. 

Other Guest-Pinners: 

houseofmirthpin    littlewomencollage

          Lily Bart                             Mrs. March

Guest Pinner: If Clarence Day Pinned

life with father guest pinner

life with father guest pinner

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In the 1947 film version of Clarence Day Jr’s novel Life with Father, William Powell plays the ridiculous, yet wise, often irate, yet quickly made gentle, father of the Day family and a perfect muse for a modern Father’s Day. Clarence Day is an ambitious financier on Wall Street and is something of a faux tyrant in his household, for his wife Vinnie and four sons have learned that underneath his irate and buttoned-up exterior, he’s something of a loving, gentle soul, adoring his wife and unfailingly proud of his sons. If anyone could make pinning a masculine past-time, I’m pretty sure Clarence Day would be the man sophisticated enough to pull it off.

If you’ve noticed a trend from my last few guest pinners, local milk is one of my new favs for pinterest-pinning-pros. She’s got such an organic yet vintage style among her boards that is quite alluring!

– <3 A. 

Other Guest Pinners: 

 houseofmirthpin    littlewomencollage

             Lily Bart                               Mrs. March

Guest Pinner: If Lily Bart Pinned

house of mirth pins

house of mirth repins via local milk

house of mirth repins via local milk House of Mirth “repins” via

 During my senior year of my undergrad years, I studied Edith Wharton’s novel House of Mirth and it’s tantalizingly yet depressing protagonist Lily Bart. Lily loves her upper class life in the early 1900’s yet is tormented by the upper classes’ views on marriage: believing girls of the upper class should maintain their status by marrying a man merely to continue to “live well” instead of because you may love and respect him. Lily turns down proposal after proposal, even from Lawrence Seldon whom she actually loves for she is caught up in the idea that she must marry well, yet is horrified by the prospect of a loveless life. As she slowly begins to reject the upper classes’ view on marriage, attempting to gamble and win her way to the “top” herself, she soon finds the upper class rejects her. She goes from taking yacht tours of Europe and rejecting a future with Lawrence Seldon in the hopes of marrying “even higher,” to working at a millinery, living in poverty, and eventually overdosing on sleeping pills. Lily repeatedly sabotages herself from a potential happy life with Seldon, rejecting Lawrence’s offers of help when he could have helped her, so focused is she on the idea of striking it rich.

Besides the overdosing part I hope, I think Lily’s struggle has been so universally popular even with modern women because we all find a piece of Lily in ourselves.  Like it or not, the archetypes for women have always been the Stepford Wife-type, the selfless mother-type, or the career girl-type. And more likely than not, there’s the desire to be all those types in all of us: Admit it, isn’t that why we love Disney Princesses? Stories about wealthy men falling hard for the girl they cloak in luxury? The reason why we slurp up wedding magazines and sappy fairy tale stories? Maybe you do it when no one else is around, when you’re home alone on the weekend. Maybe you erase your search history after you read one of those stories, and maybe you pretend to scoff at them in public but I know that you have to say yes! We love them! They strike the Stepford in all of us and it’s alluring, glamorous, and desirable. But how many times do we find ourselves falling into the Lily-Bart-trap of sabotaging our own happiness because we are discontent, always looking for more, trying to do it alone, building relationships that look impressive, making judgments based on appearances, growing jealous over comparisons, and holding out for better things when we could be perfectly content if we only looked around instead of always, always forward and upward? The House of Mirth is a satire of course–that’s obvious by its title–but it’s also something of a tragedy because so many times we strive to build our own houses of mirth, hoping that by creating it, joy will come, instead of making our house where there already is happiness and laughter for the most impressive thing in the world is a woman who is completely content with whatever and wherever she is.

– <3 A. 

 Other Guest Pinners: 

beatrixpotterpinterest    annecollage4

       Beatrix Potter                  Anne of Green Gables