Sunday, December 2, 2018

A Beef Stew Recipe that was years to Perfect.

Hello Everyone!
I know that you are probably thinking that I fell off the face of the planet, but the truth is, I just have been very involved with the theatre this year and haven't really been home to craft and blog.  But I have one evening and a half a day before I have to be in dress rehearsals for A Christmas Carol, so I thought I would do a post very quickly.

I want to make this outfit happen in my life.  If I ever get it, I might even learn how to ski.

For those of you don't know, I have started to Instagram more frequently, so far, daily.  I have been assured, mostly by my younger friends in the theatre, that Instagram is a social medium that I needed to be on, and that I needed to be mindful of my personal branding.  To be honest, I have not thought much about branding when it comes to Instagram.  To this blog, absolutely, but I thought Instagram was just pictures.  I thought wrong.  So, for Instagram, I have started documenting my vintage inspired outfits.  My goal is to show that you can dress vintage on a budget and every day.  Therefore, you will not see many fancy, professional looking shots of me.  Nor will you only see me wearing the gorgeous vintage outfits that are so predominant in the vintage fashion world.  (And, I must admit, which I love to look at, but do not have the ambition or skill to emulate.)  What you will see, is what I wear on a regular basis and what I wear to do my day to day work in.  I want to do this to prove that vintage can be practical, comfortable, and affordable.  I know not as many people are as interested in that as they are in food, which is why I focusing that aspect on Instagram instead of in the blog.

These are pictures that my husband took on the freak cold days that we had just about a week ago.  I wish those cold days would come back!!!!  I want more sweater weather.  (These are the types of pictures you will see on Instagram.)

Of course, as I start more crafting and working on more recipes, I will put up hints and photos on Instagram as well.  It is a learning process, but is one that I am looking forward to undertaking.
If you wish to follow me on Instagram, I am at carole_moore_the_frugal_femme.

But enough about me!  At least for now.  I gave my people who are following me on Instagram several options for what the subject of this post would be, and it was pretty much unanimous that they wanted me to do another recipe.  So a recipe it is!!!

May Never Need Another Beef Stew Recipe

This is a recipe that I have been working on for years as I try to come up with, or find, a beef stew recipe that met all my expectations.  All of the recipes that I tried fell short.   I just wasn't getting what I wanted.  Try after try, I would, finally, get the flavor the way I wanted but the beef would be too chewy, when the beef was done right the vegetables were too smooshie (yes, that is a technical cooking term), or the flavors were just wrong.  Blandness seems to be endemic on the internet when it comes to beef stew recipes.  Then, one night I saw a recipe on America's Test Kitchen on Create TV.  They made a stew that was put in the oven and not on the stove top.  I was intrigued.  So I tried it.  For me, it didn't have the flavors that I wanted from a beef stew, but I loved the cooking method, so I set out to experiment.  After making and tweaking this five times, I finally came up with this recipe.  This is one of the few recipes that I am going to get specific about the brands and types of ingredients.  This is because that it is with these specific ingredients that I FINALLY was able to get the flavor I wanted.  You are welcome to substitute these ingredients if you do not have these items in your area.
The topping is inspired from a recipe that I saw on a cooking show with Sarah Moulton.  I honestly cannot tell you what she was making, and she used different ingredients, but I loved the idea of making a warm "relish" to put on top of the stew.  I keep playing with the idea of making the topping with a good balsamic vinegar in it as well, like a relish, but it is so good as is, I am a little afraid to mess with it.
Also, this is not a quick recipe.  This stew takes HOURS.  It is worth it. But don't try to make it on a weeknight after work.  It also makes ALOT, I just couldn't figure out how to portion it for two and get the consistency I wanted.  But it freezes amazingly well and I will tell you more about that at the end of the recipe.
Also, I know that I am not flouring the meat and browning it first.  I have tried several times to do the meat browning method and I always ended up with tough, chewy meat.  (Probably because the cooking time is usually reduced when this method is used.)  So just be aware that, no, I am not missing a step.

Stew Ingredients

2 1/2 lbs beef chuck roast, cut into 1 1/2 to 2 inch chunks  (I know this sounds huge, but trust me on this.)
2 onions diced (these should be medium sized onions, if you don't like onions as much, use small onions)
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. tomato paste  (I like the stuff that comes in the tube by Amore, I find it less wasteful as I can open it and then store it in the fridge.)
2 large cloves garlic, minced (How large you may be asking, enough to equal the amount of garlic in four or five small garlic cloves)
1 tbsp. fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp. dried thyme)
1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped (or 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary)
1-2 bay leaves  (I ALWAYS use two, but I like to give options)
1/2 tsp. - 1 tsp. Trader Joe's 21 Season Salut  (If you don't have a Trader Joe's, you can order this on Amazon.  Its one of my favorites, and I highly recommend it.)
1 tsp. dried dill
1/2 tsp. - 1 tsp.  Herb de Provence
1 cup red wine ( I highly advise you use Apothic Red Dark, it is delicious in this stew, is not too pricey and can be found at Target.  They also have the coolest website for a winery that I have ever seen.)
3 cups beef stock
1/4 cup flour
1-2 medium sized Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 carrots cut into 1/2 inch coins OR 8-12 baby carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces
Kosher salt (to taste)
Fresh Ground black pepper

"Relish" Topping Ingredients

1 cup pearl onions, peeled and halved - quartered if they are larger pearl onions (I don't use the jarred ones, so I am not sure if jarred pearl onions will work, I use fresh.)
2-3 carrots cut into 1/2 inch coins OR 8-12 baby carrots, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 slices of bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces

1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
2.  In a large heavy bottomed dutch oven or cooking pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add onions and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Cook, stirring often, until the onions are golden brown - this will take about twenty (20) minutes.
3.  Add tomato paste and garlic, cook, stirring constantly, for about two minutes until the onions are a gorgeous rust color.
4.  Add flour, sprinkle while stirring to help avoid clumps.  Stir constantly for about one minute.  (This helps to get rid of the raw flour taste.)
5.  Whisk in beef broth.  Do this slowly and in sections/portions - make certain that the flour is completely incorporated with one section before pouring more broth.  Continue in this manner until all three cups are completely mixed with the flour.  (This is the best and easiest way to avoid lumps of flour.) Add the wine.
6.  Add all the herbs and bay leaves and bring the liquid to a simmer for about three minutes.
7.  Add beef chunks.  Stir and return liquid to a simmer.
8.  Move the dutch oven/pot from the stove top to the oven and cook, uncovered, for about 1 hour and 45 minutes.
9.  Remove the dutch oven from the oven and, using a wooden or silicone spoon/spatula, scrape down the brown "stuff" that has formed on the sides of the pot.  You may need to use some of the liquid in the pot to help release it from the sides of the pot.
10.  Remove the meat from the pot and place on a plate or in a large bowl.
11.  Add the potatoes and carrots to the liquid part of the stew left in the pot.  Spread over the bottom of the pot.  Using tongs or a slotted spoon, place the meat on top of the vegetables so it is poking out of the broth.  (This will cause the meat to brown and is the main reason for cutting the meat into such large chunks.  I know this sounds weird you may worry that the meat will dry out but, trust me, this works.)
12.  Return the dutch oven/pot to the oven and cook, uncovered, until potatoes and carrots are tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour - depending on your oven.

These next steps should be done after you have put the stew into the oven to cook for its final round of cooking.
A.  In a medium saute pan, add just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan.
B.  Add the bacon pieces, place on the stove top and turn the meat to medium - high.  Cover the pot and bring to a boil.
C.  Once the water is boiling, add the pearl onions and carrots.  Stir continuously until the water has evaporated,
D.  Add kosher salt.  Don't use much salt, the bacon is already salted and you don't want to go overboard.
E.  Continue cooking, stirring frequently until vegetables are browned - about 20 to 30 minutes.  (I never have had to do this, but if your bacon is very lean, you may have to add melted butter or olive oil if bacon does not produce enough grease.  The grease should coat the vegetables.

13.  Remove the stew from the oven.  Stir, scraping the brown stuff from the sides of the pot one last time.
14.  Taste the stew.  Add more salt, pepper or dried herbs of your choice if you think it needs it.  You may also add more wine or beef broth if you like your stew to be thinner.  I like it thick, so I never add additional liquid.

To serve, put the stew in the bowl and top with the warm vegetable "relish" topping.
This stew is AMAZING with a nice crusty bread.

As I said in the explanation above, this stew makes quite a few servings.  If you want to freeze the stew, let it cool to room temperature and then put in a freezer safe container.  Then put it in the freezer.  I am not certain how long this lasts in the freezer, because, in my house, we usually only have it in there for about a month before we eat it.
To reheat, let it thaw enough to be able to remove from the container.  Then heat in a pot over medium heat until stew is completely defrosted and heated through.  This stew is very thick.  So you will, most likely, have to add beef broth as it starts to defrost.  (I always do.)

So there you have it, my favorite beef stew recipe.  The meat for this is so tender that you can cut it into smaller, more eatable portions with your spoon.  Yum.

Also, if you get the chance go the website for the Apothic wine used in this recipe.
This website is the closest I have ever seen to a video game.  Make sure to go to the wine cellar.  Its my favorite part.

That's it for the recipe, but I have read that, when doing a blog, you need to add pictures and stories from your personal life.  So I thought I would do a brief show and tell of what I have been doing that has kept me away from the blog for so long.  If you don't care to know about my life, I will not be offended if you stop reading right now.

My summer started off being cast as the customer and one of the incarnations of a man eating plant in the musical Little Shop of Horrors.  I have always wanted to operate the man-eating puppet Audrey II, so this really was a dream come true.

Here is a picture of me getting into the plant. (I had to be pinned into it.) My friend Neely took the picture and she was just trying to get an idea of the lighting on the set, but I asked her to send it to me because, except for the wig cap, I thought that it looked alot like I was getting into a fancy formal gown.
I'm sorry but I haven't figured out how videos work yet, but what I really wanted to show was me in the plant before all of the fancy stuff was added to the bottom.   This was a video we took at rehearsals so I could see what my manipulation of the plant looked like and I could make adjustments.  You can see my legs sticking out from the bottom.  This is before my Audrey II got a  repaint and foliage around the bottom.
The tech director let me design and paint the sign for the set door for the show.  I am very proud of it, I wanted a rose, but I wanted the rose to kind of look like Audrey II.  Can we say foreshadowing?

Our large version of Audrey II you can see behind the window.  She was huge.  And amazing to see in person.

While I was in the rehearsal process for that show, I got a chance to be a princess in a play that my husband wrote for the Bella Bowman Foundation luncheon.
This organization does some wonderful things and I have included the link if you want to check them out.

The organization provided the dress, but the tiara is mine and, of course, its vintage.)
While I was in Little Shop of Horrors, rehearsals were being held for The Rocky Horror Show.  Which I had auditioned for, and got the role of the Narrator.  (Score!!!)  So I was working on two shows at once.  As soon as Little Shopped closed, I was on to do Rocky Horror.  But, of course, I had to make my house Hallween-y so, at midnight over several nights, I decorated the house for Halloween.

I know its kind of hard to see, but can you see the baby Audrey II?  I saw it in Michael's and felt I had to get since I was doing the show.

I didn't decorate as much as normal, but this year I was going for a sort of mad, scientist, Dr. Jeckyll look for the house.

Then it was on to Rocky.
This is the selfie that I took of my costume.  I wore this right until the end of the show.  And for those of you who were wondering, yes, the costume came completely from my wardrobe.
This is my costume for the final scene.  The director thought, because I was a woman, it wouldn't be as funny if I just came out in fishnets.  So I came out as a Frank "N" Furter wanna be.  And, yes, all of this costume came from my closet as well.  I just don't normally wear them all together at the same time.
Then, for Halloween, I was asked to be a performer for one our local party supply stores, while a local, news, morning show filmed from their location.  It may have been the most costumes I have ever worn in a single Halloween day.

Here's me in the store.  When you have a chance to be the classic, animated, Harley Quinn from the best Batman series ever, you take it.  I actually wore four different costumes, but, for some reason, only remembered to start taking pictures on the last two that I wore.

Here I am a zombie mummy.  Apparently, fusion of two completely different things isn't only a thing in food.  I took this picture because I wanted to show the makeup effects I created using only eyes shadow and lipstick.

From the shoot for the party store, it was back home to get into my own costume to wear that day at the theatre for work.  I don't know if you can see it here, but the eyes are done like spider webs and I drew in a tear.

For those of you who are wondering, I am a merry black widow.  I came up with this idea because I wanted to keep my vintage look, but make it clear that I was dressed for Halloween and not in one of my regular outfits.

Here you can get a better look at my spider on its leash and the amazing amethyst bra I wore under the sheer shirt.  The spider is about as big as my hand, is made completely of rhinestones, and is vintage.  The bra is part of the Dita von Teese line and is one of my prized possessions.

I went straight from Rocky Horror into rehearsals for A Christmas Carol.  (Because, yes, I am insane.) At the same time, my husband was performing as Harding in To Kill a Mockingbird.  We got to see one another when we slept.  But, again late at night, I found the time to take down Halloween and put up Thanksgiving.  Because, yes, I decorate for Thanksgiving.

Remove the frog skeleton and the insects and replace with a cute pig.  This is the table in my entrance foyer.

Turkey and pine cones on the counter top between the living room and the kitchen.

The coffee table.

Yet another turkey and more dried vegetables on the mantle.
I did get a night off to attend a fundraising party for the theatre and I got to wear an amazing red dress.

The shoes are vintage and were given to me.  

And then it was time for Thanksgiving.  Time to find recipes and prepare menus and, for me, make a hair piece to go with your Thanksgiving day outfit.  All of this while rehearsing for A Christmas Carol.

Is it a little ridiculous?  Yes.  Do I love it?  Absolutely.
I'm  still in rehearsals for A Christmas Carol.  We started tech week this weekend.  Which means soon we will have all our costumes and props and the magic will begin.  I don't have any pictures yet, but I will soon.  And I will also share the Christmas decorations that I put up between bouts of trying to clean my house.  (I am still trying to clean my house and put up Christmas decorations.)  It takes time when you only have about 30 minutes of your day to do both things.
I don't know what my next post will be, but I am fairly certain that it will be Christmas-y and crafty.
Be back soon!

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Frugal Femme Mini-Vacation - Part II (The Performance) and Drink Recipes

Hello Everyone!
After driving to Houston we checked in to our hotel in the Museum District with about two hours to spare before when we thought the event started.  (I have since learned, double check the performance times compared to the times on the tickets. We got to the venue a half hour before the times on the tickets and that was when the doors opened, not when the event started.  LOTS of time to kill.)  Where you stay on a mini-break is, maybe, the most important part of the trip.  I like to stay at hotels with room service because I like to be pampered.  It is the splurge part of my vacation.  But I also like to stay at little bed and breakfasts.  It really all depends on the location I am in and what my plans are for most of my vacation.  Since I was planning on going to the Houston Art Museum and spend an entire day there, the following day, and that area is so beautiful and has the metro-rail, we decided that it would be better to have our hotel closer to the museum than to the performance.  It was still close-ish to the venue - being only a fifteen minute drive away.  Yet another reason for loving road trips.  With google maps and smart phones, you have total freedom to go wherever you want because you don't have to rely on public transport.
But I digress....

Back to Dita.
If you have heard anything about Dita von Teese and her events, then you know that her audience is almost as interesting and well dressed as she is - before she starts stripping.  So I broke my packing light rule and brought two possible outfits for the evening.  One was a vintage, Asian dress in royal blue, and the other one was a Bettie Page wiggle dress in teal.  For each I had brought seemed stockings in a color to match the dress.  And by color to match the dress, I mean that the seams matched the color of the dress, the stocking itself was a nude color. 
These are a picture of the blue ones from the What Katie Did website.  They come in all kinds of colors.  I plan on getting the wine red color soon.  I think that I will get a lot of use for them during the Christmas holiday.

And to keep them up, I broke out the retro style corselette - I had to, it was the only way to keep the stockings up. Plus, if there is ever a time to break out your top notch vintage style wear (or underwear) its at a Dita von Teese event.  I ended up deciding on the wiggle dress because I was worried that even though I could stand in the blue dress, I wasn't certain that I could sit in it for more than five minutes without cutting off vital circulation somewhere in my body.  (Side note, I have since lost enough weight that I can now, not only stand in the dress in comfort, but sit in comfort as well.  Yay!!!)
So clothed and ready to go, we set off for the performance.
Yes, I took a picture in front of the sign.  I was one of the first in and have no shame.  Plus, I didn't pay the extra to meet her - which I am so doing next time - so this was the best that I was going to get.
This tour was called the Dita Von Teese Copper Coupe tour.  Now there may be those of you out there, just like me, who had never heard of a coupe before.  Or, also like me, you had heard of it but thought that it was a type of car.
A classic coupe.   Wouldn't you just love to ride in this with a scarf tied around your head, sunglasses on, and windows down?  Talk about glamorous!

(Which it is....... but in regards to this tour, it means a type of cocktail glass that has a shallow bowl with a stem.  Sort of like if a wine glass and a martini glass had a baby.)  Just reference the picture of me with the sign up above and  notice the glass that Ms. Von Teese is in - that is a coupe.

What, you may ask, goes into a coupe?  Well, I am so glad you asked, because I felt the need to research that as well.  One of the most popular drinks to go into a coupe is a Corpse Reviver.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Just for the name alone I think it will now become my drink of choice to serve at Halloween parties.   A Corpse Reviver was a popular drink in the pre-prohibition 30's.  The name came into being because it was supposed to be a hangover cure.  (I am loving this!)  So, I have included  recipes for two types of Corpse Revivers.

Please keep in mind that I have yet to try either of these recipes, but they are on my list of things to try in the near future.

To give you a base line of what goes in a "classic" Corpse Reviver, wikipedia gives this definition:
The plain Corpse Reviver cocktail is a cognac-based cocktail, with two parts cognac, one part Calvados or equivalent apple brandy, and one part sweet vermouth.

Since I love apple brandy, that sounds delicious to me!  As a side note, has anyone seen the apple brandies with the "trapped" apple in the bottle?  Farmers grow apples in their orchards and when the tree starts to bud, they tie a bottle over the bud.  As the fruit grows, it grows inside the bottle.  It really is pretty cool and makes an awesome gift.
This is actually a pear brandy, and its kinda hard to see, but I swear that there is a pear inside that brandy bottle.

But, again I digress.....
Here are the recipes.

Corpse Reviver #1

Picture of a vintage coupe glass.

This first drink was created by Jackson Cannon.  In this version, he substitutes Armagnac for the apple brandy and Calvados instead of Apple Jack, to make this drink a more "top shelf" version of the classic drink.

1 ounce Armagnac
1 ounce Calvados
1 ounce Sweet Vermouth
1 maraschino cherry, for garnish

Fill a pint glass with ice.  Add the Armagnac, Calvados, and Vermouth and stir well.
Strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with the cherry.

Corpse Reviver #2

Another vintage coupe glass.

This particular recipe is a classic that was made popular in the 1930, Savoy Cocktail Book, by Harry Craddock.  If its been around that long, its gotta be good, right?  (My husband, the bartender, says that this an old-school, hard-core drink and not to be drunk lightly.  It would cure a hangover, but only because one glass of it would make you drunk again..... or kill you.  If he had to define it in one word, it would be brutal.  So just keep that in mind if you try this drink.)

1 ounce gin
1 ounce Cocchi Americano or Lillet Blanc
1 ounce Cointreau
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
1 dash absinthe
Orange peel, for garnish

Shake all ingredients, minus the garnish, in an ice-filled cocktail shaker; strain into a chilled coupe glass.  Garnish with orange peel.

The Copper Coupe show was Amazing!!!

It opened with Dita Von Teese coming out in a gold half shell like Venus coming out of the sea.
I did not take these pictures, and I hope the amazing Ms. Dita doesn't get angry if she finds out that I used these pictures.

The music that was playing was Harry James' Sleepy Lagoon, and she was encrusted in Swarovski crystals and pearls.
(If you want to hear the song, I have included a link below.)

It was so beautiful.  And I was entranced.... until the music started to play.  Sleepy Lagoon was one of my dad's favorite songs and he loved classic pin-up girls, so how much I missed him hit me during this first number as I thought about how much he would have loved to see this.  And then I started to copiously cry.  Still, I loved it, and watching it was like something out of a vintage dream.  It was how I always imagined a strip show would look like based on the cartoons that I watched as a child rather than what you get now in strip clubs.
Don't remember those cartoons?  Well here's a little reminder:
I think this is a Tex Avery cartoon where he spoofs nature documentaries.  This is a lizard shedding its skin.  He had to have filmed an actual burlesque dancer to get these moved down, and this type of elegant stripping is exactly what Dita Von Teese does.

She also did a routine with a giant bubble.   Which, I am fairly certain,  is an homage to Sally Strand, who also did a bubble dance.  Which was another cartoon I remembered as a child. 

Dita's version was actually much more elegant.  A fact that doesn't surprise me since she's had years of ballet training.  But the above picture gives you an idea of what it looked like.
Act 1 was sort of the warm up with acts filled with vintage outfits and big band music.  Act II was a little more hard core with more fetish type segments.  Dita riding an electronic bull that looks like a giant red lipstick is something to behold and was, hands down, my husbands favorite number.  The lipstick that she rode was a Mac lipstick and the details were perfect (in glitter of course).  Right down to the Viva Glam color label on the bottom of the lipstick.  (I have to admit that I was feeling kind of chuffed that I owned that color and wear it on a regular basis.)

Again, I didn't take these pictures.  

I don't care who you are, that is sexy.
I know that I have been gushing about Dita, but the rest of the acts were also fantastic.  I love Dirty Martini!!!  And the audience loved her just as much as they loved Dita.  She is amazing and should be the poster girl for body positivity. 

This lady is sexy as can be and has mad skills!  If you want to see her in action, I think some of her dances are on YouTube and they are absolutely worth checking out.  Unfortunately, I don't think you can find any of her tassel tricks.  Which is a shame.  But in this  tour, one of her routines was done on Dita's famous carousel horse and it was mad, crazy, good.

A Frugal Femme Tip

By the time the show was done, it was already about 11:30 at night. 
I hate trying to find a restaurant in a strange city late at night or, even worse, eating fast food.  So, if I know that I won't be able to catch dinner until late, I pack my own for the hotel.
In the case of this trip, I knew that I was going to be going straight from check-in, to quick change, to performance, so I knew that I wouldn't have time to eat before the show.  So before we left, I planned ahead and made a bed picnic to go.
I have the cutest little picnic basket that looks like a suitcase that I use for all kinds of things.

Usually, it stores my current embroidery project that I am working on - because I like my storage to serve two purposes, but I can also use it for carrying food on trips when I know dinner may be an issue the night we arrive.  This basket I packed separately from the snacks that my husband and I were going to eat in the truck, and it was packed where we couldn't reach it.  That way, there would be no way that we ate our dinner as road snacks.

For dinner I packed:
1 bottle of Cabernet wine (complete with wine cork) and I switched out the mugs that came with the  basket for plastic wine glasses that are part of another wine, picnic basket I own.  (I know, I have a problem, I own a lot of picnic baskets.  I think my total is four.)
Various cheeses
Cotto Salami
Sliced Apples
A couple of cheese knives

I also stashed a couple of yogurts and breakfast bars in the basket and stashed them in the mini fridge so that we would have breakfast on the morning we planned on returning.  (Always make sure to choose a hotel with a mini-fridge in each room.  That way you can store snacks and leftovers.  I don't know about you, but I always get snack hungry in hotel rooms.)

It was the perfect dinner to end an amazing evening!!!  And I enjoyed it so much more than I would have any fast food that we would have been able to find.

Well, that it for this post.  In part three of the mini-vacation post, I will take you to the Houston Museum of Art! 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Frugal Femme Mini Vacation - Part I (The Road Trip) and Spicy Bloody Mary Peanuts Recipe

Hello Everyone!
I don't know if you have realized from my blog, but I love vintage things.  I love vintage clothes, cars, housewares, furniture, I just love items that have a history and have a story.  I also think that many vintage items are more glamorous than their counterpoints today.  My favorite eras go from the 20s to the 60s with more of an obsession for the 30s and 40s. 
Thus my love of pin up girls.  They are the epitome of vintage.

I'm not a snob though, if I can't get real vintage, I don't mind getting a retro item that has the same ascetic.  Part of that is because vintage items can be delicate compared to retro items, (I mean they are old) but also they can be way more expensive than retro items as well.
One of the retro "loves" that I have besides clothes, jewelry, and furniture is Dita von Teese.

I don't know who took this picture, but it wasn't me.  Don't you just love this dress?!?!

For those of you who have never heard of Dita von Teese.  She is the current reigning queen of burlesque.  (Which is basically stripping with style and Swarovski crystals in stunningly, gorgeous costumes.) She is also a fashion icon for ladies, like myself, who love the vintage look.

I have been just a little obsessed with her ever since she did a magazine article where she showed off her vintage/retro pink kitchen.
If I were single I would probably do this kitchen.  Although, truthfully, my husband probably wouldn't care to much since the kitchen is sort of my domain.  I think this picture was taken for Lucky magazine.  Because that is the magazine I read religiously before it folded.

When I saw pictures of the kitchen and read the article I thought, this is a woman that I would LOVE to meet.  I also felt the need to get some lady head vases. (Which is something she collects and I thought were adorable and was something I didn't realize existed until this article.) And she gave instructions on how to put your modern red lipstick into a vintage, lipstick tube.

This is a lady head vase.  I keep my make up brushes in two larger ones in my bathroom and I have two mini vases that I keep my small paint brushes in.  I just love the details of the eyelashes and the earrings and bracelets.  The jewelry "real" in that it is a separate part of the vase, meaning the lady "wears" the jewelry the same as you or I would.
I actually have a lipstick tube that looks remarkably like this and, believe me it looks fabulous on a vanity and makes you feel so glamorous when you use it.  Since I can't find the article that Dita was in, I have included a link for Vavoom Vintage  with Brittany who is one of my favorite vintage fashion bloggers, who has a tutorial on how to put your modern lipstick into a vintage case.

And  thus, with just one article to start me off,  I became a Dita fan and became determined to see one of her burlesque shows.
For several years I would try to find one of her tours in a city near me.  And, somehow, I would miss them. 

Been trying to catch one of the variations of this show for years.

She would come to New Orleans, but I would find out the weekend after she came.  You know, that kind of frustrating situation.  Then, one day, I was reading one of the vintage fashion blogs that I love so much ( and she mentioned seeing her Sexcellency in a new tour called the Copper Coupe.  What?!?!?!?!?!  So I immediately went online to find out if I had missed this tour in my area.  I hadn't!!!!  She was going to be in Houston (which really isn't that far from Baton Rouge.)  After squealing and hyperventilating for an inordinate amount of time, I was finally able to talk like a human  and told my husband about the show and we decided that this would be the perfect opportunity (excuse) for us to have a mini-vacation and the tickets were purchased.  And thus the vacation planning began.....
I am the Frugal Femme so, in this series of posts, I am going to give you some ideas on how you can have a mini-break for under $500.  (This amount does not include cost of my tickets for the performance because booking fees are insane!  Who knew booking fees would cost more than the total cost of the tickets?  Yikes!)
Have a drink and think about your mini-vacation.  Don't think about the booking fees.

If you have never had a mini-vacation, I highly recommend them.  They can be far less stressful than a full week long vacation and they are definitely kinder on the pocket book.
I was going to put my whole trip in one blog post, but that started getting rather long, so I have decided that I am going to to break the trip up a little and separate it into two or or three blogs, so this will be part one of my trip.  Don't worry, I promise that I will post again sooner than I did last time.

DAY 1:  Road Trip to Houston or (How to Road Trip on a Budget in Style)

To save on money, and because Nicholas and I actually like them, we decided that we would drive the four hour drive to Houston and not fly.  One of the best things of a road trip, are the road trip snacks.  Now, you can go crazy and purchase anything and everything that your little heart desires in the nearest truck stop/gas station that you can find or you can pack your own snacks.  I can sometimes have a delicate tummy and I am trying to lose five to six inches in my waist, (the better to wear the vintage style clothes I love so much) so I decided to pack us some healthy snacks for the trip instead going down the gas station junk food rabbit hole.
I actually think long and hard about what I pack for snacks on road trips and try to plan them depending on the length of time on the road and where we are heading. But here are some of my favorite road trip snacks/meals:

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches (can't beat a classic - especially when its cut in half for easy eating)
Ham and Cheese Sandwiches (again, its a classic)
Homemade Beef Jerky (I have to time when I make this just right, otherwise my husband and I eat it all before we even start for the trip - we love it that much.)
Envy Apples pre-sliced and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar (Envy apples don't brown, thus they are great for traveling)
Envy Apples pre-sliced and sprinkled with lavender sugar
Bananas (If we leave in the morning.)
Trader Joe's Cereal Bars  (Again for the morning)
Deviled Eggs  (I know this sounds like a strange one, but they're very easy to eat in the car.)
Various pre-sliced cheeses
Pre-sliced salami (The hard cotto-salami)
Baby Carrots
Celery stuff with peanut butter
Celery stuffed with cream cheese and sprinkled with Creole Seasoning
Popcorn (already popped)
Mrs. T's Bloody Mary Mix (I like them in the mini cans and another morning item)
Tea (already brewed and in refillable bottles)
Bloody Mary Spicy Nuts  (These are so good!!!  So much so, that I am sharing a recipe.)

Carole's Bloody Mary Peanuts

I know we're not talking about the same kind of Peanuts, but I couldn't resist.  I love the old Peanuts cartoons where Snoopy is still a puppy and Linus is a toddler.  So I thought this was the perfect opportunity to show some old school Snoopy that I don't think alot of people know even exists.

I loved the Lord Nut Spicy Bloody Mary Peanuts when I first found them at the grocery store.  Then the store stopped carrying them and I couldn't find them anywhere in town.  You can get them on Amazon, but I don't always want to spend the money for that because, very often, you have to buy them in packs of three.  So I came up with this recipe instead based off of things that I like to put into bloody marys they don't taste exactly like the Lord Nut brand, but I promise they are still yummy. 

This is, honestly, a recipe that I never make the same way twice.  Depending on the mood I am in, sometimes I make them more spicy, other times less.  Sometimes more garlic-y and other times with less onion flavor.  What I am saying, is feel free to use this recipe as a template to mix and match your tastes and preferences.  (I know I do.)

2 1/2 - 3 cups peanuts
2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. Worcestershire
1 tsp. vodka (Totally optional and doesn't effect the taste all that much but makes them feel a little naughty and it is one of the ingredients in a real bloody mary.)
1 tsp. celery salt
1/2 tsp. lemon pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (Can also use hot paprika.)
1-2 tsp. Tobasco sauce or Sriracha hot sauce  (You can use another hot sauce if you prefer, and you can definitely modify the amount per your tastes)
1/2 - 1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
Salt or Zatarain's Creole seasoning, just a pinch (taste before you add this in, if you used salted butter you may not need to add more salt)

1.  Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
2.  In a small sauce pan melt the butter over medium low heat.  Add the tomato paste, Worcestershire, and vodka and whisk to combine.
3.  Add the rest of the ingredients to the butter mixture and whisk to combine. You may add a little butter if it seems a little thick after you have added the spices.  You want this to pour easily and spread over the nuts so you want to have a liquid consistency, not a paste.
4.  Taste the melted butter mixture.  Add more of anything that you want.  If you are worried about spiciness, you can even wait til after you have tasted to add the cayenne pepper.  You can also skip the lemon pepper and add about a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice.
5. Put the peanuts in a medium large bowl.  Toss the nuts with the butter mixture until they are evenly coated.
6.  Spread the coated nuts onto a parchment-lined baking sheet in an even layer.
7.  Bake for 60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.
8.  Remove from oven and let cool completely.
9.  Store in an air tight container.

Eat and enjoy!
Even puppy Snoopy did the Snoopy dance.

I know that going on road trips is not the most glamorous or luxurious way to travel.  (Personally when I want to luxurious travel, I like to get a room on a train.)  But with some of the tips that I give below, the trip can be much more enjoyable and relaxing.

Tips for Road Tripping

These are not going to include the obvious like making certain that you have a spare tire and checking your car before you head out on the road to make certain your oil has been changed and you have air in your tires.  I am going with the assumption you already do those things before you go on a road trip as they are just the safe things to do.  No, the items listed here are those tips that that I have found make road trips more comfortable and therefore more enjoyable.

1.  Wear comfortable clothes.  (But there's no need to look like a slob.)  
      I always like to wear something that doesn't really have a waist band since I am going to be sitting
      for hours.  I know that sounds strange, but I have cotton overalls - one in black and one in olive
      green that make excellent travelling outfits.  And with a couple of accessories: cute sandals, a
      coordinating hat for when I leave the car, a scarf or a brooch, I can travel in style without losing
      the comfort level you want for a road trip.

     I also like to bring shoes that I can remove easily.  So I can get comfortable if I am not the one

2.  Bring along topics to talk about in the car.
     Yes, I know this sounds weird and some people don't need any help.  Personally, I have my husband
     who is incredible funny and hardly every at a loss for a conversation topic.  But go ahead and bring
     some topics.  Go online or buy one of the table topics games.  You would be surprised what you can
     learn about people that you thought you knew as well as yourself.  Just, take my advice, avoid     
     politics, religion or anything that might start an ugly argument.
3.  Bring along a roll of toilet paper     Most public bathrooms don't have the lovely quilted toilet paper that you're used to.  Go ahead and
     bring that  little comfort from home with you.  It also can be used as a napkin, tissue to blow your
     nose and for cleaning up small spills.  Just trust me - its useful.
4.  If you're not driving, and the trip is more than four hours, bring along a travel pillow and     
     a light throw.
     I actually bring these two items whenever I travel.  I like to sleep on feather pillows, and not every
     place you stay has them, so I bring my own goose feather down travel pillow with its silk pillow
     cover.  I also bring a cashmere throw blanket.  Because I get cold almost anywhere, and this allows
     me to have a little extra warmth.
5.  As covered earlier in this post - bring snacks and beverages.
     Make sure when you load the vehicle, you make these easy to reach.
7.  Bring a couple bags to put trash in.  
     Plastic grocery bags were great.  You want to bring more than one so you can just toss the bag into
     the trash can when you stop at the gas station.  Also, these can be useful if things happen on the road
     or during your trip.
6.  Bring a book on tape.  Try to make it one that interests everyone in the car.
     You can listen it to a book on tape all on your lonesome while other people also listen to their head
     sets, but doesn't that sort of defeat one of the purposes of a road trip?
     Also, if you make a stop a day or two before the trip to your local library, the book won't even cost
     you anything.
     My husband and I love the Dresden file series of books read by James Marsters.  We both like the
     books, as they are very interesting, well written and appealing to both sexes.   Although, I admit
     there is an added bonus or me because I really like James Marsters voice.

Yeah, I know, Buffy was in the 90s.  But I still love it and haven't gotten over it yet, so sue me.
7.  Pack some emergency drugs, just in case.
     And no, I don't mean anything illegal.  But very few things are worse than not feeling well on
     vacation. Some you might consider bringing:
     Pain Medication - Tylenol or Advil
     Pepto Bismol - Pill form is easier to bring with you
     Heart burn medication
     Anti-nausea medication
     Allergy medication
     You don't need a lot of these things, just a little to tide you by while on the road.  Also, you know
     what ails you most so bring what would be most useful to you.
8.  Put your hair up 
     This will help you keep from looking like a street urchin after you have been in the car for hours. 
      But, whatever you do avoid tightly pulled back hair styles such as high pony tails.  These are just
      headache inducing and, almost always, hit the back of the seat just wrong enough so that you have
      to sit in your seat with your head tilted slightly forward and that is not comfortable.
      Instead, opt for a looser hair style that looks cute if a few strands all around your face, make the
      messy hair look work for you. I personally like a loose french twist.

Do these things on your next road trip and I promise it will be more enjoyable.
The next post, which I swear will be soon, will cover the Copper Coupe show and dinner!

I just couldn't resist another puppy Snoopy.  Plus, I feel this is me lately any time I try to watch television.