Un tres Joyeux Temps des Fete a Tous!

A thank you to all who have been dropping by the Dusty Victorian, it's been a real pleasure exchanging a few words with you. I'm not sad to leave 2011 behind, it's been a difficult year for the planet, economically and environmentally.
Let's all wish ourselves a better New Year.
À bientôt!

Almost Ready for the Holidays

Okay, all names have been checked off from my gift list, almost all gifts have been wrapped, and our Christmas cards have been mailed off. Of course, there will be the usual, "Oh my gosh! We forgot so and so!" and, "Did we send a card to so and so?"

The indoors Christmas tree has been placed outside again this year
because of our male dog, Chaz.

This year, our big pot is host to a spiral evergreen.

Our front entrance does not need much decorations, it's already in the spirit...

...just needed a "corsage".

And we are ready for Santa.

Make your holidays really meaningful this year, don't forget your local animal shelter. Most animal shelters have a wish list you can view on their website. You would be surprised how many unnecessary things we accumulate in our attics, basements, garages or closets that could be useful to an animal shelter.

Timeless Gift Giving Suggestions from a Century Ago

A few weeks ago, Brian came across an old magazine from 1911. A Christmas issue, it has advertisements for anything and everything a household during George V's reign could ever need - along with numerous holiday gift suggestions. The magazine is exactly 100 years old and is in pitiful condition, but has to be quite rare since these publications were not meant to last. It has no monetary value, but to me it's priceless since it offers a fascinating and accurate glimps at the lifestyle of the time.

Surprisingly, several of the Christmas gift suggestions still
apply today, as you will see below. Perhaps it will help you with your Christmas shopping.

In 1911, books were very, very popular, this magazine used eight pages to advertise books from different publishers. One hundred years later, books are increasingly replaced by electronic devices offering instant gratification. Books are now similar to luxury items, bought by a minority - the weird thing is that book buyers are not necessarily rich.

Holeproof Hosiery? I don't know about the "holeproof", but socks and Christmas go together whether you like it or not.

Gloves are also very popular today. I personally must have lost hundreds in my lifetime, so a new pair is always welcome.

Ahhh, Birks... the Canadian Tiffany & Co.

Lovely toiletries... an excellent, reliable choice when in a quandry.

Men's grooming kit... classic.

Glassware... crystal or tableware are still very popular.

The phonograph is, of course, long gone, but today's electronic equivalent is probably the most popular gift under the Christmas tree for the 12 to 35 age group.

Here is the exception. When I turned the page and saw this ad, it seemed weird to advertise a bookcase for Christmas. To my surprise, there were two more ads for bookcases. In 1911, our tiny town of St Marys had two thriving bookstores on our main commercial street. Imagine how many more there were in big cities across the country. If books were very popular a hundred years ago, it's only natural that bookcase would be as well. Sadly, although beautiful, I think only this suggestion would truly be a thing of the past.

Adieu ma tante Jesus

In the popular conscience, death is so often accompanied by pain, drama and horror. To me, it was a dreadful mystery until I saw it happen before my eyes.
My aunt Angeline, also known as tante Angie and ma tante Jesus when we were kids, passed away softly, simply and peacefully, the same way she lived her life.

I always dreaded the coming of autumn, but being a witness to her passing was very much like seeing my garden slowly die - very naturally. I think I will see autumn, winter and death very differently from now on. Thank you tante Angie.

Steampunk - If the Victorians had Computers

On Halloween night, our trusted iMac computer expired. For six years, it kept us connected with family, friends and the rest of the world, helped me with freelance work and was an important artistic tool for both my daughter and I. Thank you iMac 10.4 for your reliability, you are now with your maker(s) and your parts will be recycled.

Like a major home appliance, we can't imagine functioning well without a home computer so here we are with a new iMac.

Hello iMac 10.7, welcome to the Dusty Victorian.

Before the 10.4 white iMac, we had the green iMac...

...and before that, we had the LC575. The difference in design shows distinctively the return of Steve Jobs to Apple, giving the products a fresh new look.

As much as I love the sleek design of contemporary Macs and modern technology, I also love history. Steampunk designers have combined both in those amazing creations - welcoming new technology without closing the door on the past. Here are just a few examples that would fit in nicely in my Victorian home.

Steampunk Workshop

Steampunk Workshop

To see more amazing steampunk creations, go to Steampunk Workshop

The Wood Guy

The Wood Guy

For more beautiful steampunk desk accessories, go to The Wood Guy.

In the Spirit of Halloween - The Guillotined Contessa

As mentioned in my previous post on the Contessa Papera Ephemera, here she is regally stepping out at dusk.

Her head resting on the shopping block.

Standing and patiently waiting for the kids to show up on Halloween night.

Perhaps seeing a familiar face in the meantime.

Wishing you all a ghostly Halloween.

From Paper Dress to Rustic Trellis - Last DIY Project of the Season

All summer I said to myself "I need a trellis for my honeysuckle vine". Other more pressing things that can only be done during the warm season had to have priority. Now that it is too cold to work comfortably outside, I decided to do my trellis in my studio.

Our property is surrounded by old trees that shed their branches on a regular bases. They are usually kept for kindling in a pile at the back of the yard. But this time, some of the them would be used for my trellis.

We also have a nasty vine weed that grows on the chain link fence belonging to the neighboring school. We found out recently that it kills Pine trees and one of our trees has already suffered from it. So Brian pulled out as much as he could. They are good for wreaths though.

I selected my branches and positioned them in a pleasing manner.

So they wouldn't move around, I secured them with some twine at each intersection - this only until they were screwed in place.

I sawed off the ends that were sticking out.

Here is the finished trellis before I added the flower wreaths.

I used the vine weeds to do three flowers of different sizes. I don't think the petals will last, but that's okay.

I secured the flowers on the tips of the branches and Brian secured the trellis to the wall. Here I am placing the vines on it.

The honeysuckle vines will now grow upwards instead of falling into the window well.

Voila, my rustic folksy trellis. Not Victorian at all, but I think it still works because of our country setting.

The Contessa Papera Ephemera - Halloween Decoration

Gather around children, for I will tell you the tragic story of a dear friend of mine, the Contessa Papera Ephemera, known to me as Poppy. I first met Poppy in a previous life, when I was a Parisian and owned my fashion shop. She would travel long distances every year to visit my shop and order dresses, mantels, wigs, purses, fans, shoes and everything else a beautiful aristocrat’s heart desired. She was a happy and carefree person - lots of fun to be around, but France was, in contrast, a very angry place at the time. The year she died, I had warned her not to come, but vanity and the lure of fashion proved to be too strong. She died in 1789 - guillotined. She still visits me every year (in two separate parts). We have been friends for the last 230 years. She much prefers the Dusty Victorian to my Vancouver condo. For Halloween, she thought it would be fun to show off her latest dress and welcome ‘trick or treaters’ at the Dusty Victorian’s door.

The Contessa will make her appearance on the front porch of the DV a week before Halloween. All materials used to make the Contessa's dress and wig were recycled. Different types of sticky tapes and glue were used to put it together. Of course, the Contessa believes that all is made of silk and wool. To meet a real expert and artist in paper dress making visit Isabelle de Borchgrave.