A Sparkling Vintage Life


12 Little-Known Facts About Me

Maxfield Parrish, "Morning"

Maxfield Parrish, “Morning”

Because the Sparkling Vintage Life blog has seen an uptick in new subscribers this summer (welcome, and thank you!), I thought it would be a good idea to get to know each other a little better. I’ll start. Here are 12 things about me you might not know, selected at random from the fringes of my mind:

  1. I used to play the violin. I took private lessons and played in orchestras all through school. However, I never really cottoned to it, thus practiced as little as I could get away with, thus never got to be very good, and frustrated my teachers. Studying the violin did help me acquire a taste for the symphony, though, which I still enjoy, so it wasn’t a total waste. I haven’t touched a violin in years. If I ever did pick it up again, I’d set the classical stuff aside and learn to play mountain-style fiddle A fitting thing, since I live on a mountain.scandinavian folk dancing
  2. I used to play the piano–and still do. Unlike the violin, I enjoy playing piano. I keep a keyboard in my writing room and noodle around on it when I need inspiration or just a break.
  3. In high school I did Scandinavian folk dancing with the Nordic Folk Dancers.
  4. My all-time favorite food is peanut butter. I could practically live on the stuff.
  5. I’m terrible at sports. Really, truly horrible. Not one athletic cell in my body.
  6. But I love to dance.
  7. My favorite dead artist is Maxfield Parrish. My favorite living artist is my brother Greg.

    Lamont tartan

    Lamont tartan

  8. I dream of one day traveling to the U. K., especially the Lake District in England and the Loch Lomond area of Scotland.
  9. “Lomond” is a form of “Lamont,” a Highland clan. I love our tartan and own a fabulous tartan kilt that, sadly, I don’t fit into. I also love our motto: Ne parcus nec spernus, “Neither spare nor despise,” which is replete with practical applications.
  10. In college I had a double major in English and French. I spent my junior year of college in Strasbourg, France. That experience is good for a few future novels right there.
  11. I am a fan of the Oxford comma. Look it up.
  12. I miss my mom every single day. That’s not a little-known fact. What is little-known is that we shared a love of storybook mice and, thanks to her, I have an impressive collection of mice figurines, Christmas ornaments, and Beatrix Potter books.

    mice collection

    Just a few of my many mice.

So that’s me. What about you? What’s something that few people know about you. Feel free to share a fact or two (or twelve!) about yourself in the comments.







Sparkling Vintage Life: What to Bring Back from Yesteryear

One more Lilly Jarlsson video… (Yes, I’m letting her do my speaking for me today, lol. She does it so well.)

I’ve often said that I don’t wish to simply turn back the clock and live in the past. There is much to love about modern life, and much to loathe about days gone by. Still, there are ASPECTS of the past, particularly in regards to public life, that we would do well to bring back.

In this video Lilly reflects on things from the past that she wishes we could bring back from the past, including:

Quality over quantity
Local shopping
Artists with talent
Good grooming

What would you bring back from the past, if you could?

Sparkling Vintage Style: Lounging Around

Here’s another great video from vintage-wear icon Lilly Jarlsson. Love her! This time she talks about what to wear when lounging around at home.

I, too, hate jeans, plus my body shape is not the least bit flattered by jeans. So why do I keep wearing them?? *sigh* Old habits die hard. Bring on the soft cotton and rayon!

Sparkling Vintage Health: Steps on the Journey

tennis2Last week I wrote about wanting to improve my health and what the pre-World War II ladies magazines call “vitality.” I looked up “vitality” in the dictionary. The first definition is, “the peculiarity of distinguishing the living from the nonliving.” That’s telling it like it is!

So far my old-fashioned approach has been two-pronged: walking a lot and choosing fresh, unprocessed food as much as possible. In the May sunshine, walking is pleasant and I actually look forward to it, but making time for it can feel like a hurdle. Twice in recent days I’ve been stuck “in town” between appointments (“town” being about 15 miles away from our rural home) and have used that time to walk in a park. I told myself I didn’t need workout clothes or athletic shoes (although, note to self: keep a pair in the car). I was already wearing comfortable flats, so off I went.

Walking in the park is fun for two reasons: (1) the terrain is flat–a nice break from the steep hills around my home. (My husband figured out that walking from the bottom of our property to the top is like climbing eight stories!) and (2) there are people around! Baseball and lacrosse teams, kids and moms on the playground, tennis players, other walkers . . . such fun to people-watch. I love to nature-watch, too, and soak up the peace and solitude of the woods surrounding my home, but for a literal change of pace, it’s enjoyable to switch to the park. Bonus: I felt like that interval between appointments wasn’t wasted.

Feeding myself well is harder. It’s so easy to grab whatever’s at hand and call it a meal. I’ve made a deliberate effort to concentrate on protein and vegetables and limited carbs. A typical breakfast is coffee, an egg, and a quarter of an avocado on toast. Lunch is soup or salad and a sandwich (trying to limit to half a sandwich). Dinner is meat or fish and vegetables for me, plus bread or potatoes for my husband. And water, water, water.

So where does the “vintage” part come in? Eating fresh, minimally processed food and walking have been human activities since forever. I don’t need a gym or any special gadgetry (although I got a nifty fitness band for my birthday that tracks my steps and heart rate–definitely not vintage, but kind of useful). The foods I’m eating are not much different from what a woman would have eaten 100 years ago.  My fitness is centered around typical human activities: walking, bending, stretching, putting some muscle into housework and yardwork. Drop me into 1916 and my food and activity wouldn’t look that different. Except, of course, from jumping on the Internet to talk about it!

First week’s results: two pounds down, high energy, and rosy cheeks from being out in the sun.

The rightness of white for summer

white suit

Christian Dior, 1952

Inspired by this post by Jessica Cangiano over at Chronically Vintage about wearing white, I’ve got white on my mind as we swoop toward summer and, in particular, Memorial Day–the traditional kickoff to the season of wearing white, at least here in the U.S. Although this “rule” is no longer strictly adhered to, there is something fresh and clean about white that belongs to summer.

White calls to mind fluffy clouds blown about by warm breezes, damp cotton flapping in the sunshine, June brides, sails on boats skimming over blue lakes, thick cream poured over fresh berries, and great bowls of vanilla ice cream (my favorite!). White was the favored choice for Edwardian tea gowns and nightgowns. And who can forget the “girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes” immortalized in the song, “My Favorite Things” from The

"Young woman in a white dress" by Harry Watson

“Young woman in a white dress” by Harry Watson

Sound of Music?

That said, I admit that there’s not a lot of white hanging in my closet at the moment. Just the stray shirt or tank-top. Why is that? I tend to steer clear of white on the bottom because of my size (white enlarges, visually). And white worn on top can seem impractical, an invitation to spills and stains.But the more I think about it, the more I want to incorporate more white in my wardrobe this summer, even if it does require a little extra care and vigilance.

Source: modcloth.com

Source: modcloth.com


What do you think about white?


A Sparkling Vintage Event: The Forties Frolic! Recap

forties frolic posterThis past weekend was the “Forties Frolic” fund-raiser for the Bonner County History Museum. It’s the main reason I’ve been so quiet on this blog recently, as it took up a lot of my writerly time and energy–but it was totally worth it!

The whole evening was a delight: live Big Band music, delicious food inspired by recipes from the era, vintage-wearing revelers, and World War II-era decorations in a historic building that actually was our local USO during the 1940s, serving the sailors stationed at nearby Farragut Naval Training Station, as well as servicemen and -women passing through Sandpoint on their way hither and yon.

history mystery radio show

Photo: Jill Murray

My contribution to the evening was to write, direct, and act in the “History Mystery” drama portion. Set up as a radio station “broadcasting live from the USO on radio station K. L. U. K., the fifty-watt blowtorch of North Idaho,” the drama featured a radio cast of eight, plus five “USO hostesses,” a Civil Defense director, a visiting movie star, and her long-suffering assistant. The evening alternated between music and dancing and the History Mystery. In the end, guests voted on which character they thought committed the crime (a stolen necklace) and one lucky winner won three cans of Spam and a bottle of wine. (There were much more appealing raffle prizes, too, donated by generous sponsors.)

north bound band

North Bound,, featuring Kelly Dragoo (photo by Jill Murray)

Why am I telling you all this? Because I’m so proud of the actors, the cooks, the servers, the musicians, the sponsors, and everyone who put in 110% to make the event a success, including all the people who came out to support the museum. Because it’s always fun to think up fresh and creative ways to share the history of our region. And because it was the “perfect storm” of fabulousness for this history- and theater- and vintage-loving writer to combine all her favorite things into one tidy bundle. I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity.

And now back to our regularly-scheduled Sparkling Vintage Life!

Go Mad for Plaid (31 Days to a Sparkling Vintage Fall, Day 30)

plaid adPlaid fabric has long been associated with fall for a very good reason: it’s warm and cozy as the temperature drops! Weather in Scotland, where plaid originated, can notoriously blustery and harsh. During the 1500s, a “plaid” simply meant a kilt or blanket meant to keep the wearer warm. “Tartan” refers to a specific, unique pattern in the weave of a plaid that signified a particular clan, group, or home territory . . . “team colors,” you might say. Highlanders wore, and still wear, their tartan-bearing plaids with great pride. In fact, the wearing of tartan was banned by the English government for a time in the 18th century, as it was considered sign of rebellion against British rule.

Clan Lamont tartan--my family's plaid. Source: tartanregister.gov.uk

Clan Lamont tartan–my family’s plaid. Source: tartanregister.gov.uk

Buffalo plaid shirt, favored shirt of lumberjacks and grunge rockers. Source: bustle.com

Buffalo plaid shirt, favored shirt of lumberjacks and grunge rockers. Source: bustle.com

During the 19th century, American importers and manufacturers applied the term “plaid” to any tartan-patterned fabric. “Buffalo plaid,” the red-and-black fabric long associated with lumberjacks and other hardy outdoorsmen, is distinctly American, first produced by the Woolrich company in the mid-1800s. Oregon’s Pendleton Woolen Mills began mass-producing their iconic buffalo-plaid shirt for men in 1924 and for women in 1949.

Plaid enjoyed another flirtation with rebellion in the 1990s, when it was favored by grunge rockers.

The fashion world has once again proclaimed plaid “new” again. But this classic never really goes out of style.