A Christmas E-Card for You!

So I am a slacker newlywed and I decided to forego the actually-printed Christmas cards to mail out this year.  Quite honestly, I don't particularly like life logistics (those detaily things like paying bills, renewing license plates, you know, all those things you have to remember to keep adult life going), and I didn't feel like adding another task in.  Slacker, I know.  

However, I am not without a little bit of Christmas card redemption!  Here is a Christmas card for all of you!  Seriously, if I was going to send out a card to my friends and family, it would look exactly like this.  (Yep, didn't even schedule a real photo shoot.  I'll do better next year.)

Flashback Summer: A Christmas E-Card for You!
I'm going to make this blog post short so you can go make memories in "real life" off the blogosphere right now! :)  Merry Christmas everyone!  I'll see you in January!

Snippets of My Christmas Party

snowball cups | chalkboard tray tutorial

Jacob and I have decided that we want to be the annual Christmas party type of people, so I started small this year and held a Christmas crafting party for a few friends.  We all worked on our Christmas gift projects we had yet to finish while eating delicious food and enjoying each other's company!

And in case you would like some more Christmas inspiration for future use, I've included information on where I got some of the ideas for food and decor and such.

Do you have any tried and true Christmas ideas?  Anything that has been a big hit this holiday season that others should know about?

Christmas tree decorations | fireplace DVD

mini potatoes (these were a HUGE hit!)

candied orange peels, in Vintage Notions book

Sand tart cookies, in Vintage Notions book | dessert stand

Grinch fruit kabobs

23rd Birthday Dinner

Flashback Summer: 23rd Birthday Dinner - vintage 1950s couture dress, navy blue

December 17 was my 23rd birthday, and it was fantastic!  My husband planned a dinner at a nice restaurant, and my family is in town from Egypt for meetings and a visit!  It was a lot of fun to spend time with all of them, all in the same place.

We went to a fancy restaurant in Springfield called Touch.  The food is delicious, and it's nice to be in the midwest because even fancy restaurant owners realize we won't put up with those silly tiny portions often found in high-end eateries.  The food was, therefore, delicious and plentiful!  

The ambience was lovely, too, but the dim lighting made it a bit tricky to get good pictures.  The ones in this post are a compilation of ones taken at the restaurant and in front of our Christmas tree at home.  I really just wanted an opportunity to wear this 1950s possibly couture dress I recently acquired in a trade.  I've had to repair it several times, but I just can't get over the gorgeous lines!  The neckline, the way the skirt is draped, it's just gorgeous!  I've determined I will recreate it one day so I don't have to worry about tearing it or anything.  Someday.

My 22nd year was all about giant life transitions, and my guess is that year 23 will be similar.  I'm excited about it.  Jacob and I have a lot of plans and aspirations, and we're looking forward to accomplishing them!  Bring it on, year 23!

Flashback Summer: 23rd Birthday Dinner - vintage 1950s couture dress, navy blue

Outfit details
dress: swapped
1950s shoes: estate sale
earrings and necklace: gifted
stockings: swap/sell Facebook page
corselette: WKD
makeup: Estee Lauder and Almay

Flashback Summer: 23rd Birthday Dinner - vintage 1950s couture dress, navy blue

Flashback Summer: 23rd Birthday Dinner - vintage 1950s couture dress, navy blue

Flashback Summer: 23rd Birthday Dinner - vintage 1950s couture dress, navy blue

Flashback Summer: 23rd Birthday Dinner - vintage 1950s couture dress, navy blue
Flashback Summer: 23rd Birthday Dinner - vintage 1950s couture dress, navy blue
My sister and I

Flashback Summer: 23rd Birthday Dinner - vintage 1950s couture dress, navy blue
This random guy did a great job at photo bombing

Most Popular Posts of 2014

Flashback Summer: Most Popular Posts of 2014

This year has been a wonderful one, not just in life but also for my blog!  It has grown, and I feel I've really improved as a blogger in developing good content and getting strategic and consistent about things.  

Apparently you guys are happy with it too, because many of you have stuck around and more of you have come along for the ride!  Here are the top 10 most popular posts of 2014, as decided by you guys and your views!

10. International Vintage: Sudanese Tobe

9. Is Your Wardrobe Architectural, Printy, Tactile, or Utilitarian?

8. 10 Tips for Sewing Vintage

7. 9 Reasons Why Tap Pants Will Change Your Life

6. 8 Ways to Make Your Waist Look Smaller

5. International Vintage: Princess Kouka of Sudan

4. DIY Sweater Makeover

3. 1940s Working Woman Style Series: How to Make a Rosie Scarf

2. Teddy Girl Inspiration

1. Sassy Straw Saucer Hat DIY

It's kind of surprising, isn't it?  Then, personally, here were my top five favorite posts of 2014.  I either really enjoyed doing them, had a great response, or liked the conversation the post elicited!

5. The 1940s Working Woman Style Series

4. Controversial Post: Cultural Appropriation

3. My Vintage-Maldives Fusion Dress, McCalls 5517

2. Controversial Post: Vintage Prints and Jewelry--Racist?

1. 9 Vintage Fit Tips for Petite Ladies

Now's your chance to share your thoughts!  I'll be pondering posts for next year and getting my strategy going, so now is a great time to give input!

What are one or two of your favorite posts, or types of posts?  What would you like to see more of?  Any other questions, comments, or concerns?

11 Questions and Answers About My Life as a Blogger

Today is my birthday, so... a post about me! Ha, so humble, huh?

I still hesitate to call myself a "blogger" like the title suggests; I usually identify myself as a "person who has a blog," as if the official title of "blogger" was too big, too successful for me.  However, I'm coming to realize that I AM a blogger, dangit!  I've put in a lot of work over the past couple years, and I'm going to call myself a blogger!

That being said, I've also hesitated to share blogging tips or talk about the act of blogging because I figured, who am I to write about this?  I'm working a day job.  I'm not a "pro" blogger making a bunch of money off my blog.  But, revelation two, I HAVE learned a lot along the way, things that others can find useful in their own journeys.  I have knowledge to share!

When Jessica posted her 11 questions and answers about her life as a blogger that she found from Bonita of Lavender & Twill, I knew I'd take up her invitation to answer these questions for myself.  Because I. Am. A. Blogger. 

1. When did you first start blogging and why? 
I first started blogging via Flashback Summer in 2012.  I didn't know any other vintage wearers in "real life," and from what I saw, it looked like a blog would be a really great way to make friends. I also realized that vintage was expensive and I was a poor college student, so I hoped to eventually make a bit of money to fund my vintage habit. My dad always told me to find what I love and make money off of it, so that's what I've done! (As for the actual effectiveness of making a blog profitable... Let me just say a blog is probably one of the worst ways to make money! It requires MUCH more non-paid effort and time for longer than most other money-making ventures!)

2. Have you had any past online presence? 

I had previously attempted to start a vintage blog in late 2010, and it was an epic fail. I was pretty much trying to copy more famous vintage blogs... with a beginner vintage wearer's closet.  Obviously, impossible. What I learned from that epic fail: Be yourself when you blog. It works better.

3. When did you become serious about your blog? 

As I mentioned earlier, I was very serious about my blog from day one. I knew I wanted friends and some pocket change to buy more vintage, so I was very intentional from the start in meeting those ends.  I commented on others' posts and got involved in the community. Soon I knew who people were talking about when they dropped names of other bloggers, and I found kindred spirits to be inspired by!

4. What was your first blog post? 

My first post was "And So It Begins..." on 14 October 2014. Oh first posts. I've learned so much since then! At that point I wasn't wearing vintage every day and still very new to it, so I hadn't found my "niche," and I was honest about the cluelessness!

5. What have been your biggest challenges blogging?
I've found the temptation to compare and looking for my blog's "niche" to be the most difficult challenges. Especially before I really knew what my blog was, what it's "niche" would be, it was really easy to compare to bloggers who seemed to have it all together, who had a cohesive look and fancy outfits I couldn't afford. I kept reminding myself that I was new to vintage and blogging, and I was on a journey. I couldn't expect to jump ahead to a five-year bloggers expertise level right off; I was just starting! 
Social media strategy and organization still boggles me a bit. I work in a marketing department though, so I think my expectations for myself are just ridiculously high. (So much conflicting advice out there on how to use social media! Gah!)

This is where I blog.  The ironing board is my chair, and that desk is actually adjustable shelving.  And I'm obviously still figuring out how to organize my yarn.  It's "make do" at its best, and I love it!

6. What is the most rewarding thing about blogging? 

Friends and progress.  Needless to say, I get my vintage fix from the blogosphere, not real life. The online vintage community allows me to interact about vintage things that make the eyes of most people in "real life" glaze over. I hugely appreciate that about my online peeps!  Progress is also hugely rewarding for me. I enjoy learning, and seeing my blog hit milestones and grow little by little is great. It's wonderful to see the fruits of all that labor!

7. What is the most discouraging thing about blogging? 
On the flip side of progress is the lack of progress, and that can be demotivating, too. When numbers aren't as high, or a post didn't get as much interaction as I swore it was going to. Working to come up with good, valuable content is a lot of work, too.  I really love it though, so it's worth it! I've relished the ability to post more often and do higher quality posts now that I've graduated from uni. It's so much fun!

8. What is your lasting inspiration or motivation (of blogging)? 

Making money is nice, but I'm finding more and more that I'm motivated by my affection for the vintage community.  I want to give you guys good content, because you so often give me good content!  You guys have helped me learn about vintage through your posts, comments, pictures, etc., and I'd like to return the favor.  Maybe there's another vintage newb out there than can benefit from what I've learned.

9. What is your blogging dirty secret? 

I'm RIDICULOUSLY strategic.  Now that I have more time to blog, I'm hugely intentional about the content here and such.  I'm talking editorial calendars, sticky notes, binge writing, the works.
On a deeper note, though, I do sometimes have a rough time with comparison, as I mentioned before.  I think it's a little easier to see someone else's progress and success than it is our own, though, at times. Our own progress comes with a price of work and effort that we don't see when we observe other people's success, so it looks more effortless with them when it's really probably not.

10. What is your current goal as a blogger? 

I'm actually working on more vintage- and sewing-related freelance writing in addition to my blog.  I never thought I'd be a writer, but there are opportunities coming up, so I figure, what the heck. Might as well try! This can help grow my blog, too.

11. Have you learned or become passionate about anything through blogging that caught you by surprise?

It sounds weird, but I'm actually passionate about blogging itself now, and I didn't think I would be.  At the beginning, I figured blogging was just a means to an end, but over the years I've begun liking blogging itself. I like researching and sharing information, and I like interacting about it with you guys! 

There's a bit of insight about myself and my blogging journey.  Feel free to reuse these questions and post about them yourself!

Tea at Two Dress Pattern Details

Flashback Summer: Tea at Two Wearing History Dress Pattern Details - sewing 1930s

Oh, this dress.  It's my first 1930s garment and my first Wearing History pattern, so I've got lots of learning and details to share with you!  (There's a short summary at the bottom if you'd like to skip ahead.)

For more photos of the garment, you can go to this post.

I also want to make this a more thorough post than normal because I searched for reviews of this pattern before I bought it and only stumbled on a couple by the same person (here and here), so I know there's a need for info on it!  Not to mention, this isn't a vintage pattern, it's a new vintage pattern, so I know you guys can actually go buy it and sew it up if you wanted to right now!  Therefore, I'll try to make the info helpful in deciding if the pattern is for you or not.  (If you would like to see more photos of the outfit, I have more here.)

First off, let me say that I think this is a great intro to 1930s sewing.  It has techniques I had never done before, but I felt there was enough explanation to do them properly.  (I didn't even have to look anything up!)  That being said, there are some tricky parts.  Here are my thoughts on the project:

Skills You Need to Know Before You Start
  • Bound buttonholes - There are six of these on this dress, so get familiar with them! (There's a great tutorial at Wearing History.)
  • Darts - There is a sleeve dart done in an interesting way on the cuffs
  • Bias binding - Know how to make bias binding if you want it to match your garment and how to attach bias binding, including mitering corners
  • Link Buttons - It calls for three pairs of link buttons; I have a quick solution on these for you below in the "Things I Added" section!

Fit and Ease of the Pattern
The fit on this pattern is strange.  I sized down on the top (using a 30 bust pattern piece even though I'm 32"), and as you can see, I still have plenty of room.  It's meant to be bloused, but I would still recommend sizing down.  I imagine the top in my size would have been far too baggy, and I'm not sure if this is just the pattern or a normal 30s fit style.
The bottom, however, was more narrow.  I chose a 35" hip size pattern pieces (the middle of size pack A) due to how my muslin sewed up, but I think I could size down as well for a more snug fit.  The fabric is not cut on the bias, so the skirt goes more or less straight down from the hips.  If your fabric doesn't have any stretch though, like a cotton, I'd stay true to your hip measurement.

Things I Changed
  • Sleeve length - I shortened the sleeves to 26.25" from the top of the pattern piece to the bottom.  I could probably take off another inch or two next time.  My arms are " from shoulder to wrist.
  • Skirt length - It was just too long!  I shortened it to " this time, but I think I'd make the hem longer for a more 30s length next time.
  • Waist - With the larger hip size pattern, I brought in the waist about 1.5", and it's perfect.  I have a 24" waist.
  • Peplum - I cut out the pieces, and it was a bit too long for my height and wide for the newly decreased waist, so I added a 1" hem on all sides, instead of the more narrow one called for.  I eased it in on the waist.
  • Hip apex - I'm short, and the hip apex on the skirt was about 2" too low for me, so I raised it, and the skirt piece fit perfectly after that!

Unclear Things/Things I Added
Maybe this stuff is assumed in the pattern, or maybe I did it a janky way, I don't know.  Either way, you are now privy to it!

  • The dress opens via hidden closures in the center, not at the side or back.  I didn't realize that when I bought the pattern.
  • I added snaps at the top and bottom of the vestee corners on the side the dress opens on.  I figured it would be better to over-snap the closures than under-snap!
  • I attempted to link the buttons on the bodice using thread and a blanket stitch as old methods would instruct, but it would have taken FAR too long and had too large a margin of error for me to continue on all the buttons.  Instead, I inserted a jump ring through each button and connected the pairs with plain black necklace chain.  The top pair is slightly closer together than the other two pairs to make it look right.  It works just as well as the thread version, in my opinion!
  • I also interfaced the top layer of the collar with thin interfacing to help it stay crisp.

Moments of Pride in This Project
I'm very proud of the belt.  While the belt buckle is not quite wide enough for the belting I used, it works fairly well.  It's a vintage buckle, and I really had to make do with it.  Is anyone else frustrated at the lack of belt notions available these days?!  I sure am!
I also put holes in this one, unlike the other belt I've made before, which just slipped through.  I ended up using a scrapbooking grommet setter to poke holes in the fabric and belting, then I finished the holes with a hand-done blanket stitch.  I've seen this on vintage belts, so I decided to try it out!  It works out well, although a little labor intensive!

Flashback Summer: Tea at Two Wearing History Dress Pattern Details - sewing 1930s

Moments of... Eh, I'll Do Better Next Time...
  • I didn't adjust the waist size for the skirt when I cut it out, and I just brought it in at the sewing stage.  I didn't bring it in the same way on the peplum, so it doesn't lay perfectly flat.  In the future I'll adjust all bottom pieces to be smaller in the waist before cutting them out.
  • I initially had the hem longer and shortened it to where it is now.  However, looking at it in the pictures, I think I will want it about 2" longer on the next round for a really good 1930s length, like my other 30s dress has.  That length does a better job of elongating.
  • My bound buttonholes need some help.  'Nuff said.  I have the general idea right, but I found a Wearing History tutorial that will help me make them look more polished next time.  Live and learn!

Pattern Conclusions
This. Is. A. Fantastic. Pattern.
The pieces fit together perfectly, and the instructions are thorough enough to understand (for an experienced sewer).  The pattern comes in a large resealable bag to keep the pieces in, and it is printed on a heavy, durable paper that can easily be altered for fit while lasting for years to come.  I also like the long and short sleeve options, and I'll be trying the short sleeve one come warmer weather!
I've been pondering getting a few of the other Wearing History patterns, but many still have a lack of reviews and finished photos, so I was a bit nervous about it.  However, this pattern came together so nicely I'm confident the others will be good quality, too!

Here is a summary of the pattern details and things I changed:
Pattern: Wearing History "Tea at Two Dress"
Year: mid-1930s
Notions: lots of snaps, buttons, necklace chain, interfacing
How historically accurate is it? Extremely!  New-vintage pattern and fabric, vintage notions. Everything except the buttons, which are new.
Any tricky parts to the pattern?  I talk about this more above, but the 30s-style construction techniques and closures are just different than the other decades I've sewn.
Did you change anything?  Yep, sleeve length, hip apex, skirt length, waist size
Time to complete: a week solid.  Lots of little details to work on!
First worn: 10 December 2014
Total cost: Fabric was free to review, buckle $1, belting $2, buttons $2, necklace chain $2, pattern $30.60 with shipping, so about $38 total.
Notes: I've gone into great detail above!  This is a fantastic pattern!

Have any of you tried out this pattern or know someone who has?  Please add the link and lets help future sewers have a database of good info and pictures of this pattern!

Tea at Two Dress Fashion Photos

This is the dress I made from my Time Capsule Fabrics rayons and the Wearing History "Tea at Two Dress" pattern.  (Lauren of Wearing History informed me that she's temporarily not offering the paper patterns in her shop, but she will again soon!  This pattern will be available in a bit, so never fear!)

I'll be posting thorough details on the dress pattern in my next post, but for now, enjoy the pics taken in the dirt road/alley next to my house!

Outfit Details
fur purse: gifted
dress and belt: made by me, "Tea at Two Dress" Wearing History pattern
shoes and stockings: bought via Facebook friend

Flashback Summer: Tea at Two Wearing History Dress Fashion Photos - 1930s vintage
Flashback Summer: Tea at Two Wearing History Dress Fashion Photos - 1930s vintage
Flashback Summer: Tea at Two Wearing History Dress Fashion Photos - 1930s vintage
Flashback Summer: Tea at Two Wearing History Dress Fashion Photos - 1930s vintage

Flashback Summer: Tea at Two Wearing History Dress Fashion Photos - 1930s vintage
Flashback Summer: Tea at Two Wearing History Dress Fashion Photos - 1930s vintage

Flashback Summer: Tea at Two Wearing History Dress Fashion Photos - 1930s vintage

Time Capsule Fabrics Review

When I found out Time Capsule Fabrics was a sponsor this month, I was excited.  And when I found out I could review some of the fabric for you guys, I was elated!  I'll be honest, I had heard of TCF via another blog post, but I was put off the by the prices of the fabrics.  While $10-$19 a yard is actually quite reasonable, especially considering the raving review I'm about to give about it, that amount was too much for me to spend as a risk.  I had never heard of anyone actually sewing a garment with these fabrics, and I was afraid they wouldn't live up to my expectations of reproducing vintage fabric authentically.

Well, fear no longer!  I am positively delighted at the quality of the fabric!  First off, I chose four fabrics to try out via fabric swatches.  I am very tactile when it comes to fabrics, and I don't like buying online for this reason.  Getting the swatches really helped me with peace of mind.  It enabled me to feel and touch the fabric and ensure it worked for the look I wanted, the color, and the pattern I was going to use.  (Four swatches are only $6 with postage in the U.S., so this is a really good option if you, like me, would prefer to do a mini-test before buying a lot of fabric.)

Cotton lawns and two kinds of rayon swatches are what I chose.  While I thoroughly loved the cotton lawns, the rayons seemed best for my project.  I also wanted to try the rayons because:
1. Rayons are hard to find in modern stores.
2. If they are found, they feel different than modern rayons. (Because they usually sneak some POLYESTER in there, dang them!)
3. If they happen to feel similar, the print is all wrong for vintage looks.

Good, vintage-appropriate rayon is hard to find.  

I also want to note that after I measured all my pattern pieces and determined the yardage it would require,  I realized I would need more fabric than had been offered to me to review.  I was more than willing to use my own money to buy more of the fabric I needed, although Snowma, the owner, told me that would be unnecessary.  I wanted to include this so you guys know I legitimately like this fabric, and not just because it's free.

I ordered the fabric I needed, and I promptly wrapped myself in it as soon as it arrived.  It has a gorgeous drape and lovely feel, and I just couldn't help it!  (Fabric nerds, you understand.)

Drape and feel is nice, but how does it compare to vintage rayon?  I compared the rayon crepe with a 1940s dress and 1930s dress I have that are both made of rayon crepe, and they are remarkably similar, especially to the 1930s fabric.  The drape, texture, and feel is spot on, along with the slight amount of stretch and perfect weight.  The fabric really feels vintage.

I've never sewn with a rayon challis before this project, so I didn't know what to expect. While I can't compare it to a vintage garment with the same fabric, I do know that I LOVE this rayon challis.  It has the gorgeous fluid drape of a rayon, but it isn't "slickery" or difficult to sew like some of the smoother rayons.  I REALLY like it!  It's thin and airy and fantastic!

While I will be posting outfit and pattern details in future posts, I wanted to focus on the fabric itself today.  Overall, I am extremely pleased with the Time Capsule Fabrics I have used, and I will be going back to the shop for more.  I appreciate the variety of vintage reproduction prints they offer, and the fabrics are far superior in vintage authenticity to the modern varieties available. I highly, highly recommend the company for their great customer service, prompt shipping, and quality products!

Let me know if you have any other questions or details you would like to know about the fabric, and I'll be glad to answer them!

For more exclusive vintage content only available to subscribers, sign up for Flashback Summer emails!

I received the fabric to make this dress c/o Time Capsule Fabrics in exchange for this review, but all the opinions expressed in this post are my own.  To learn more about my collaboration policies, click here.

Controversial Post: Has Pin Up Taken Over Vintage?

Flashback Summer - Controversial Post: Has Pin Up Taken Over Vintage?

There is a myriad of ways people wear vintage clothing, but in my experience in the vintage community, people's wardrobes tend to fall into one of three very broad categories: authentic vintage, eclectic vintage, and pin up.

Authentic vintage would be the people that recreate period-accurate looks. The next one is eclectic vintage, or the people that mix lots of decades with modern styles for a look that is unique.  The last one is pin up, or the ladies that dress with a style like, well... a pin up.  Pretty self explanatory.

Personally, I'd probably put myself in the authentic category.  I like doing head to toe 30s and 40s looks, and I tend to get inspiration from more normal, everyday looks like the ones found in vintage photos.  Also, one of the reasons I started wearing vintage was to get access to clothing that was more modest than what is offered in mall stores.  I was tired of the stretchy-tight, short pieces I found at stores, tired of having to be vigilantly aware of the wind patterns while wearing a short dress.  The longer hemlines and more coverage of vintage clothing helps me feel more comfortable, because I'm not afraid I will flash people and I don't have to wear layer upon layer to get the coverage I want. 

However, when a lot of people hear "vintage," they think "pin up." Tight wiggle dresses, giant hair, spike heels, va-voom curves.  Of course, I like those things too and I definitely go for more "pin-uppy" looks from time to time, but I generally don't wear them on a daily basis.

A lot of vintage wearers that are famous could be in the more "pin uppy" category, too.  Dita, for example.  Quite a lot of vintage-style clothing, at least in my experience, seems to cater more toward a pin up look as well.  (Tatyana, Stop Staring, etc.)  This saddens me a little bit, not because I dislike the pin up look, but because it has changed the way people picture past eras' styles.  It has watered down all the various styles found through the 20s, 30s, 40s, and so on to be represented in tight, pin up style clothing.  Look at the "1940s" dresses I found in some prominent shops:

Of course there are authentic reproduction shops, and I don't want to minimize their products or influence.  But it seems pin up style has taken over vintage in some ways, especially as representing the first half of the 20th century to non-vintage wearers.

What do you think, does it seem like the pin up look has begun to represent "vintage" in the non-vintage world? What are your thoughts on that? Where would your style fit, or do you fit in more than one category?

18 Ideas for a Home Dinner for Two

Flashback Summer: 18 Ideas for a Home Dinner for Two

These days of being newly married have been lovely, I will say.  However, sometimes it's nice to get out of the routine and make a really nice dinner, especially during this holiday season when you might need a chance to give that special someone a gift or to spend quality time together before the onslaught of relatives. (I say "onslaught" nicely.) However, many times there isn't room in the schedule or the budget, especially at this time of year, to go out to a nice restaurant, and this is where creativity comes in!  Here are some of the ways you can make a dinner for two extra special:

Low Effort
These tips are simple to do in only a few minutes!

- Eat by candlelight or Christmas lights.
- Sit at the table with each other. No phones, no TV. 
- Play instrumental music in the background.
- Make a beverage for a "cocktail hour" or dessert to have after dinner.
- Take time to have coffee or tea after your meal.
- Eat with chopsticks (or forks, or your hands, whichever isn't your norm!).

Medium Effort
These ideas will take a little more effort and planning, but they are worth it!

- Prepare a meal made entirely of pins from your significant other's Pinterest board.
- Add a nice tablecloth and centerpiece to your dinner table.
- Get out the fine china and use it for dinner.
- Spread a blanket on the floor and have an inside picnic.
- Try another culture's food together.
- Make a meal incorporating different milestones or memories in your relationship.  Food from a special restaurant, or an umbrella in the drink to remember that fabulous trip, etc.

High Effort
These tips can take a lot of time and effort, but the results are memorable!

- Do a holiday meal, even if it isn't the right time of year!  Decorate the table and have a mini Thanksgiving in March or Christmas in July meal.
- Make a tent in a room of your home and light it with candles and Christmas lights.  Throw in some pillows for comfort, and eat dinner in the fort!
- Dress up and have a fancy dinner at home.  Then move furniture around as necessary to make a dance floor.  
- Plan a new kind of meal you've never tried before and cook it together.
- Make an entire dinner of things on skewers.  Fruit, vegetables, meat kabobs, desserts, lots of options!  To get extra fancy, make sauces to go with them.
- Have a themed dinner.  Whether it's based on a movie, story, or character that your significant other enjoys, go all out!  Perhaps some Elvis PB and banana sandwiches, a hobbit second breakfast, a 1920s dinner in Cairo, or a Regency era-appropriate meal would be up your alley.  For extra flair, dress up according to the theme.

Life Advice for Young Southern Women

Flashback Summer: Life Advice for Young Southern Women

Last week I had a great time celebrating the engagement of a couple of my friends while eating Indian food, and it turned out to be a quadruple date of married, engaged, and dating couples all in our early 20s.  After dinner we went to my house and drank hot beverages, and the conversation inevitably led to romantic relationships, marriage, and adult life.

My engaged friend and I talked about the expectations that Southern culture (meaning the American South) puts on young women, especially married ones.  We're expected to take care of the home, keep it clean, make it spotless if visitors should come over, bake bread, have a tidy and pretty appearance, make pies, be hospitable, cook gourmet and homemade every night, eat dinner at the table as a family, take care of children, be genteel at all times, and make ridiculously amazing fried chicken and biscuits from memory.  (I'm noticing a pattern of food expectations... ha.)

Quite honestly, I'm not exactly sure where all those expectations come from.  Much of it, for me, came from my family and watching the kind of home my mother created for us.  It came from the stories my grandmother told about making biscuits and chocolate gravy from a young age.  I heard it in the tales of my great-grandmother Julie preparing a giant spread every morning, complete with eggs, pancakes, ham, sausage, hash browns, biscuits, etc. for all the farm hands, then cleaning it all up and immediately starting on lunch.  I saw the southern hospitality my mother and grandmother showed, and our house was never wanting for visitors.

I know that a lot of the vintage community also has these expectations as we look to women in the past for our inspiration, so many of you may have felt these things, too, whether you are married and American or not.

Flashback Summer: Life Advice for Young Southern Women - Godey's Lady's Book 1860s

Before you begin to draw the conclusion that I'm now going to hammer old gender stereotypes to pieces with my modern fist of feminism, I'm going to clarify:

I love these expectations, and I want to meet them.

I have always wanted to be able to make a good pie.  Who doesn't like pie?  I take pride in a clean home and a tidy appearance.  I want to be genteel and ladylike, respected by those around me.  I want to be hospitable and to open my arms to those who need help.  While my life's goals and ambitions are not limited to these things like women may have been limited in the past, I take pride in and value this part of my heritage as a Southern woman and strive to meet these ideals.

However, in these first few months of being married and graduated from university, I've found these expectations to be a huge burden.  I simply couldn't keep the house as clean and the dinners as exquisite as I liked while figuring out a full time job and this guy living in my house, and it frustrated me to no end.  As I failed to meet many of these expectations every week, I felt more and more like a failure as an adult and wife.  It had nothing to do with my husband, who remained encouraging and supportive all the while; it had everything to do with my own expectations of myself. 

I finally came to the conclusion and revelation that I need to let go of the idea that I can be the perfect Southern woman magically by slipping on a wedding ring or receiving a diploma.  I reminded myself of truth and came to these conclusions:

My mother didn't have it all together when she was my age either.
Even though I aspire to a home like the amazing one my mom created for my family, I've reminded myself that her skills were honed over many years of wifely and motherly experience.  I can't expect to do everything she did because I'm only 6 months into getting a handle on this stage of life!

I'm not living the same kind of life as the women before me.
I live in the modern day, and there are all kinds of different pressures, responsibilities, and expectations that the women who have lived before me did not face.  It's not the same world, and I'm not the same kind of person.  I also haven't grown up with the same tools the women before me had, and I've grown up with resources they never could have dreamed of.  I can't perfectly replicate lifestyles of the past because our environments are very different.

I need to proportion my Southern expectations to my life commitments.
Right now I'm working to help put my husband through school, and I am very glad to do it because I believe in what he's doing.  However, that means I'm not a stay at home wife like I'd like to be someday.  I simply don't have time for a pristine home and all the gourmet dinners because I'm working full time, and that's okay.  I'm not forfeiting my Southern woman aspirations; I'm simply exchanging them for other ones that are more important right now.  Perhaps someday I'll be in a position to do more of these old Southern things, but for now I need to prioritize.

Flashback Summer: Life Advice for Young Southern Women - Godey's Lady's Book 1875

I need to give myself more time to learn.
For some reason I've expected myself to adjust to adult married life in a snap. Our world is moving so fast, and we assume that we can move just as fast.  Ridiculous!  Humans are complex and deep, and life transitions are complex, too.  I need to be more patient with myself as a learn a completely new set of skills and learn to handle the load of details involved in adult life and marriage.  I'm not going to get things right every time, and I need to be patient with myself as I adjust.

I can make my life Southern-beautiful in small ways.
I don't have time for all the things I want to do, but I do have time for many of them.  Whether it's making a pie for my husband or sprucing up the living room, doing what I can to beautify my life and doing it well brings me a sense of achievement.  I know I'm building a home and marriage to last, and that happens one small brick at a time. 

I will grow my skills and efficiency over time.
While not expecting myself to do everything, I do know that I can become more intentional and efficient over time.  By working on one skill or life area at a time and getting a handle on it, I slowly build up my repertoire and increase my capability to handle more.  Of course, my ability to handle more activities won't go up forever (it WILL hit a ceiling), but I will be able to better cope emotionally, mentally, and spiritually with life as I get older.  That being said, it's okay to have fewer things going on in life right now.  I'm adjusting, and simple is good in times of adjustment.

Even if you aren't Southern (or even American!), what are some lessons you learned about yourself early on in your marriage?  If you're single, what curve balls did adult life throw you that you learned to overcome?  What lessons would you share with young women about adult life?

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