"The Past Is Never Dead. It Isn't Even Past"

(This William Faulkner quote has run around in my mind constantly since I first read it sometime last year.) A few days ago Sarah and I scurried down to the Miner's Foundry (home of the Nevada City Bizarre and the place I saw the secret Red Hot Chili Peppers show) to bust out a quick photo shoot in front of a gorgeous stone & ivy wall.

The Foundry is less than half a block away from us, but we drove my van anyway so that we'd have a semi-private place to change ;-)

All of these items are already listed in the shop.

I realized that our booth at the most recent Bizarre was on the other side of that window on the right. Heather's was behind the window on the left!

This car is somewhat infamous around town, and I cracked up when I looked to my right while snapping shots of Sarah and saw this little scene. Curious cat!

Crazy story about this dress- I found a similar one in black last month, and Kerry bought it at the Bizarre as a secret xmas gift for Nicole before I ever had a chance to list it in the shop...

(Here's the other side of that window!) I can't believe I found a slightly different sequined Egyptian dress by the same maker only a few weeks later.

I oughtta make a folder just for shots of behind-the-scenes laughter at photo shoots. Flared nostrils and all.

I almost hope this dress doesn't sell, it would be sort of perfect for my upcoming trip to Big Sur(!!!)...

AMAZING red suede corset boots. Size 7.5.

Forgive me for being such a tease all the time, but I am, as usual, having a Keep Or Sell crisis with the following two pieces:

Royal blue is kind of my color, and I've been looking for vintage overalls like these for years. But I am much more likely to wear the dress than the overalls. Hmm...

Later that day Mycelia and I decided to go on a walk. Someone had told me about a trail down behind the Miner's Foundry, so I set off down that-a-ways for the second time that day.

The trail wasn't really there, but there was an abandoned house with Deer Creek running behind it. We decided to go for it, the sound of the creek was so sweet and inviting...

Green moss, green cedars, green sprouts, green irises...

I'm always trying to capture the beautiful colors in her eyes when we are out in the sunshine.

Sitting there, eating seaweed snacks, I noticed this very rusted horseshoe hanging on the little tree in front of us.

I swear, everywhere you turn in this town you are surrounded by what once was.

We had to climb up a treacherous, dry-leaves-and-pine-needles-covered hillside to make our way back up to the street. When we got there we were greeted by this beautiful hawthorne tree. I wish I could make a career out of photographing hawthornes at different times of the year.

The little white flowers that blossom in May are delightful in a fresh and hopeful way, but there is something so compelling about these overripe, bordering-on-decay winter berries.

We walked back by the Foundry...

And Mycie decided she wanted to play (and SING) around the 19th century equipment before heading home. This is an old wine press at the Nevada City Winery, mere feet away from the Foundry.

You may have noticed I've been adding a lot of videos to my posts lately. That's because my new camera has that option on it, while my previous one didn't. It's so fun being able to capture little moments like this on the fly, moments that I will treasure forever even though they'll break my heart. I recently watched this adorable video of Mycie when she was 3, and I cried my eyes out with sweet sadness over the fact that that little girl is gone, that that moment in history, when she had her little curls and she called her dad "papa" and she pronounced her words that way, is irretrievable.

I have always been lucky enough to live within walking distance of some sort of historical landmark, from Empire Mine to the Foundry to St. Joseph's Hall (which, like the Foundry, is a building from the Gold Rush days that now bills itself as a "Cultural Center" and always has cool events going on).

I really do appreciate living in a place where there is such a palpable sense of the past. There was no such feeling where I grew up in South Lake Tahoe, CA (despite its entanglements with such historical giants as Kit Carson, Mark Twain, and John Steinbeck). And I have been to places (like where my cousin lives in Prescott Valley, AZ) that literally didn't exist 20 years ago and that are made up of nothing but strip malls and housing developments. I suppose one can always find a sense of history out in nature, but I have a feeling that people who live in such places prefer to spend their time at Kohl's and Cost Plus instead.

Geez, I was just saying that I feel like I've been gushing lately on this blog about how cool my town is, and I want to try to tone that down a bit. And here I am doing it again! But I just can't extricate my life and my daily experience from this place, it's all around me. And the feeling and personality of Nevada City/Grass Valley really do infuse each moment in a way unlike any other place I've ever lived. Every house I've lived in here in the foothills has been over 100 years old and has felt very much like it. Aside from the odd layouts and scrappy single pane windows and antique keyholes and doors that hardly fit in their frames anymore, they were/are all on a slight tilt. This is due both to settling over the century and to the fact that there's hardly a lick of level ground in these parts. Most every step you take is either up or down an incline. When I cook eggs in the morning in bacon grease or butter, all of the liquid fat pools to one side of the pan, and I have to nudge it over before I crack the eggs in. When you sit on our toilet, your whole body slides slightly to the left and you can't help but just rest your head against the wall right there and be grateful for a moment of rest. Having lived in the level bowl carved out by an alpine lake in the High Sierras (Tahoe) and in the great central valley of California where there isn't an incline for hundreds of miles around (Sacramento), I must say I prefer the charming quirks that askew foothill living (right in between the other two) has to offer. And I have come to believe that it has something to do with the profuse creativity that has poured out of here and given this area such a distinct personality. (In fact it was just listed in Lonely Planet's list of top ten travel destinations for 2012).

It's sort of like how everyone says they "have the best friends ever!", and how we all (if we're lucky enough, or are good friends ourselves) feel that way. We all have the best friends ever, and that's such a good thing! People are awesome. And I hope that everyone loves where they live as much as I do just like they love their friends as much as I do. Only I'm more self-indulgently and long-windedly vocal about it all.

Okay and seriously, if you haven't read Faulkner, you haven't lived...

“Memory believes before knowing remembers. Believes longer than recollects, longer than knowing even wonders.”

“Wonder. Go on and wonder.”

In Town, In Brief

Last week. About town. Breakfast at Ike's with an adorable baby. Wearing this dress again (and at least 3 times since...)

Mixing florals. Lace and leather. The tights I've worn every day this winter.

Downtown Nevada City. Solstice buy/sell/trade new/vintage/costumes. If you come here, you gotta go there.

Next door- Toad Hall Book Shop.

One of my five favorite used book stores in GV/NC, definitely the one with the sweetest kid's corner (actually the only one with a kid's corner).

We got the Little House on the Prairie series, which they had been holding for me. I gave up on trying to thrift all the books, and decided that it was well worth supporting this awesome shop and making an investment into hours and years of future reading delight.

Always with the flower picking.

And the new outfit creations.

Here's the spot mentioned a few posts ago. Tiny hillside and path covered in spring flowers running between the Salvo and the library in downtown Grass Valley. Always with the flower picking.


"I never wear beautiful clothes just for the function; there always has to be an element of fantasy, or a story"

-Joanna Newsom in the 10th issue of Lula.

Lose yourself in the fantastical clothing of summers past and...

Get your Witch Priestess on:

Size 7.5/8

Embroider your tall tales:

Betsey Johnson

reserved for Alela

Be a summertime elfin baby doll:

Dazzle the dragon in white lace and crochet:

And snag your prince by framing your lovely face with intricately woven neckline designs:

I Magnin

It's been many photo shoots since I've posted a "preview" here, but I felt that the time was ripe to do it again for three reasons: 1) I really enjoy letting my friends and readers have first dibs 2) I have a strong feeling that at least one person will find their new favorite garment if I post this rather than just start listing on Etsy and 3) I am going out of town on Friday and probably won't have time to list all of these, so through your comments I can ascertain which pieces are most fabulous and list them first!

Summer Thrift Scores

Ah, the thrifting life is certainly a rewarding one. Surprising, at times tedious, but always worth the effort. I recently scored both of these white lace dresses (thus adding to my ever growing collection of all things white lace) and this perfect stretchy belt and these wicked, witchy purple shoes (which will be for sale in the shop soon, but I can't say the same about the dresses! Or the belt).

I am so completely smitten with this doll. It's the clothes, of course. Such gorgeous embroidery! And the red skirt with lace! The apron, the bonnet! So Eastern European peasant. The stockings are fabulous too. And her face is so intricate and lovely. After considering a slew of other, really quite prettier, names I decided that I had to go with my heart and name her Maja Lisa, after a character in the novel Hanna's Daughters, which I just finished and is about about three generations of Scandinavian women.

The grandmotherly lady at the thrift store had a soft spot for little girls and gave this doll to us for only $3.

Here we have two of the most practical scores of the summer. This darling plaid apron for the hours and hours and hours (and hours and hours and hours...) of kitchen work (which I am not complaining about, I am finding that I am becoming more domestic by the day, and that having a couple of lovely aprons around adds an extra dimension of comfort and joy to the repetitive tasks). And this killer playhouse/tent that has sure gone a long way toward keeping my girl occupied in the last couple weeks! It was marked at $20 but, as I've mentioned before, the Salvation Army's in this area have the whackiest sales and on this day it was "anything with white in it half off", so we paid $10 (plus the price of me having to fend off another mama who was trying to move in on my score!).

And finally, a little preview of the beautiful new vintage that will be making its way into the shop later this week. I have been more selective in my shopping and trading lately and am really stoked on these pieces- each so unique and distinctive- and am very much looking forward to photographing them and sharing them with you all soon :-)

Paper Dolls of the American Revolution

Friends, I have a new obsession.

I have posted before (though you probably already knew, at least if you grew up an American girl) about the awesomeness of Dover paper doll and sticker books.

The other day I was in downtown Grass Valley at my favorite place- Booktown Books. Where I found a fan-freaking-tastic vintage paper doll book from the late 60s (blog coming soon) as well as this one...

I'd like to think that if it weren't for the fact that I have an almost-four-year-old daughter I wouldn't be buying, playing with, meticulously making folders for, and generally getting myself lost in the world of paper dolls. But such things are not for me to know.

Meet ( from left to right) Ruth, Thomas, Sarah, Benjamin, their parents Prudence and John, and their grandparents Hannah and Samuel.

Lest you think this is all just silly girly frippery and a way for me to avoid housework, I assure you, it's educational!

In this book the family's clothing is divided into four categories based on time period and economic status, with each outfit thoroughly described and placed in the context of what the typical American's life was like at this time. It is obvious that a lot of research went into its making. I have chosen one page from each category to show you just how much Mycelia and I are learning about the sartorial experiences of our pioneering ancestors (and to indulge your love of very vintage fashion):

In traditional working class garb we see that "Prudence is dressed as a farmer's wife in an outfit showing German influence. Her bodice is attached to the corset and decorate with ribbon; elbow-length sleeves have shaped cuffs. Her gauze apron is for "dress up" and is held on by a cloth belt. Her red turned up shoes are highly prized by rural folk. John work clothes are of homespun cloth in dark colors; the shirt has a dropped shoulder, popular well into the 19th century; there is probably a ruffle at the cuff which is won folded inside for everyday wear. He wears a flat felt hat and carries a powder horn and a shoulder patch containing shells."

For a middle class family during the revolution (description is for the outfits on the left page)... "During the Revolution, Samuel calls upon his experiences as a young sailor to become a privateer for the new Continental Navy. Although there are no official Navy uniforms, privateer officers dress in the formal uniforms of military officers. Hannah is wearing a linen dress with a divided skirt; the front opening is bordered along each side with crewel-embroidered panels. The bodice is laced over the chemise in a zig-zag pattern. The sleeves of the bodice are quite short, revealing fitted chemise sleeves. The petticoat is quilted and decorated with crewel embroidery; quilted petticoats are popular because of the lack of central heating in homes."

For an upper middle class family toward the end of the revolution (description is for the outfits on the left page)... "Prudence wears a dress of imported silk. The bodice is worn over a matching corset and and joins at the center front with concealed hooks; the elbow-length sleeves have a ruffle that is worn turned back. Her hair is "creped" and powdered (to crepe, the hair was tightly curled with an iron, then teased out until it stood quite high); the back of her hair is worn in large spiral curls. She wears a small cap, or fontage, of ecru and white lace. John's formal suit is of blue satin with silver trim buttons; the waistcoat is of pale blue silk taffeta with elaborate ribbon and silver embroidered trim. His shoes have a modified tongue treatment, but he wears the ubiquitous silver buckles that are a status symbol."

And finally, this is after the war when John and Prudence and the kids decided to move West (again, description is just for the left page) ..."Sarah wears a simple dress with fitted sleeves, and a pinafore with a lrage pocket for carrying herbs and berries she might pick as she walks. Her stole is a keepsake quilt she made from scraps of material given to her by her friends and relations from home. Benjamin wears his farmer outfit with the addition of full length Indian leggings and moccasins. The younger children are dressed in simple homespun attire. Ruth carries a precious scarf given to her by her grandmother. Thomas carries a small bow and arrow."

You can check out other great Dover paper doll books here and more in their American Family line here.

But whatever you do, don't do what I just did and start searching for paper doll books (vintage and/or handmade) on Etsy, or you'll get your blog posted much later than you'd planned!