Reblogging from Killer Kitsch

Ever since I can recall, I’ve wanted to be a Flapper and even to the point, as a young child I would often ask my mother to dress me like one. In my early days of high school, I would mix styles of punk, Edwardian and Flapper. A look that made a fourteen-year-old stick out […]

via Silent Movies Are Good For the Soul — Killer Kitsch


Redheads Writing in Cafes #2

Guilt. Why do I feel so damn guilty walking away from that very large pile of laundry? Why is it taunting me, making me feel like a bad person for ignoring it? I swear it was staring me down as I walked away, it was yelling at me as I grabbed my laptop and exited the building. Why is there so much guilt?

Yesterday I had the honour of being photographed by the amazing and incredibly talented Lisa MacIntosh. Lisa is not only an intuitive photographer but a wonderful human being. She has photographed musicians from all over North America for her Great Hall Series and many inspirational women, including Amanda Palmer, for the ASK series. Being included in this group of women is the biggest compliment anyone has given me. She will be working on the ASK series for the rest of the summer, please keep checking her website to see who else she includes and for more information on the ongoing series.

Lisa and I are both full-time artists, who work for ourselves and mostly work from our homes. We chatted about this and how easy it is to become distracted by the many chores and tasks involved in our households. One of the greatest traps when working from home is this exact issue. When I ignore these tasks, I start to let my imagination go to dark, dark places that include German Expressionist Silent films ala Metropolis, where my laundry and dishes revolt. Remember the below scene. No one wants their laundry to animate and attack them. No. One.

Metropolis

When the weather is shite, being able to sit on your couch, or at a dining room table, desk or workstation of choice is comforting.  You don’t have to deal with the rain, sleet, snow, ice, wind or unbearable heat and humidity. Better yet, public transit in the rain, sleet, snow, ice, the wind or unbearable heat and humidity. If it’s your thing, you can stay in your yoga pants, pajamas all day or in my 1930s vision, stunning dressing gown. Your time and schedule are your own… until the laundry starts yelling at you or the dirty dishes start wailing or… or… or… Just walk away! Cover your ears, your eyes and just… walk.. AWAY. Trust me, this is so much easier said, than done, especially when you are running out of clean underwear.  This is why I’m in a neighbourhood coffee shop, writing.

vintage_dressing_gown_tla

Today I chose The Good Neighbour. A cafe that is a short walk from my home, that has cute, artsy baristas behind the counter. They also have delicious coffee. In a pinch or when I am too lazy to walk to the grocery store, I have picked up a bag of their dark roast beans. Bonus: free WiFi.  The one downfall (or is it), they don’t have any vegan sweet treats (not to worry, Bunners is a two-minute walk away). They do have sandwich items that can be made Vegan on request.

This week I am back to working on short stories. I have two new ones I am drafting and a couple older stories that I need to revisit and edit. I am hoping to get those out the door… erm… via cyberspace by next week. One of them may or may not include sharks.  I am hoping by next week that it warms up enough that I can sit on a patio to write or head to the park with a book to read and a notebook to write out character sketches. Generally, I do all my writing via my computer, character sketches, I prefer to write out by hand. A bench in the middle of the trees and greenery or by the water would be a perfect spot for that. I’m not sure if anyone else experiences this, but when I am sitting near the water, my creativity opens up.

Sitting in this cafe, I have momentarily escaped from the laundry… I have not escaped from the shark that is currently stalking me. It might be time to feed. It. SHARK!  I leave you with this Peter Benchley trivia.  After the success of his book and the release of the movie Jaws, Peter became filled with dread and guilt over the fear he created towards sharks. He spent the rest of his life and his widow continues on with assisting with advocating for oceanic conservation.

shark


Redheads Writing in Cafes #1

***I have added a new page to the blog. It is called Redheads Writing in Cafes. Here is the first entry. 

Redheads Writing in Cafes #1

I’m a full-time writer. I work for myself. I don’t go into a Corporate office space. I create my own content. I work from home. I am my own boss. This is my perfect job. This is my dream. There is, however, one problem.  When you are working at home, there are…. how shall we say, distractions. I don’t mean the television, Netflix, YouTube or other forms of entertainment. I mean laundry, cleaning, washing that sink full of dirty dishes, figuring out what to make for dinner, tidying up, re-organizing. As you look up from your laptop, you see all the things that need to be done. You still get writing done, but between the tasks that are staring you down and when you don’t complete them…. there is that pesky guilt. Now that the weather is nicer, I plan on finding my way outside my home to write.  In the backyard, parks, cafes.

vintagewomanofficetypewriter

As a full-time artist, writing in a cafe every day isn’t great for the change purse… I am considering a Kickstarter to help finance this endeavor. Feed my coffee addiction.  I’m sure others would be willing to give up a coffee a day to support my cup of coffee a day… right? No? Hmmmm….  All kidding aside, many well-known artists have written their novels, screenplays, plays and poems in cafes. There is a wonderful, addictive energy that fills the walls of cafes, not to mention the lovely wafts of fresh ground coffee beans and baked goods. Ok… now, I’m just making myself hungry. Focus. You need to focus.

The point of this new page is to write about what I’m writing about… while I’m in a cafe…. Maybe I could also convince other redheaded writers to guest write or join me in the cafe. I live in a neighbourhood that has cafes a plenty. I am going to try to choose a different one each time I write and let you know a bit about the cafe.

Today, I’m sitting in a cafe near High Park, looking out at the beautiful greenery, dreaming of the 1930s, listening to Edith Piaf’s beautiful voice, flow from the speakers. I am working on my novel as well as researching the 1930s. For some, being in a cafe would distract them. I drink in the energy that surrounds me, which is the complete opposite of when I am at home writing. At home, I need the sounds of televisions and stereos turned off, the windows open, so the sounds of the outside, find their way to my ears.

The cafe I’m in is Hannah’s Cafe and Bakery. They have a really nice dark roast and I’ve had their lattes. The staff is friendly and the cafe itself spacious. Recently we came here for a writing workshop. I’m Vegan and they have soy milk, they have some Vegetarian sandwiches and salads that can be made Vegan, however, the baked goods are not Vegan. Once you are done writing, you can hop across the street to High Park.

I’m lucky to live in such an amazing neighbourhood. I am a brief walk away from the best park in the city, shopping, bars, restaurants and groceries. The hood is also home to literary and art events. There are writers, painters, musicians, visual artists, burlesque dancers, and other artisans who call this area home. Most importantly, there are cafes a plenty and if you get lucky, you may walk into the one with the Redhead.  That might be an idea for a treasure hunt. Find the cafe with the Redhead who’s writing.

Redhead’s writing in cafes.

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The Good, The Bad and The Dead

“Hello.”

“Hi there. This is the ‘local’ town cemetery.”

“Oh geez.”

“Ya. Could you come pick up your daughter? Again.”

This sounds like some type of dialogue from your typical 1980’s, angsty teen flick, however and to the shock of no one, it isn’t. This was me. This was me as a teenager. Yes, I have spent many hours in cemeteries. No, I’m not a grave robber and you can’t prove it. Hold on, that’s an entirely different story — let’s continue this one.

As a teenager, I was often chased out my local cemetery. My reason(s) for being there were innocent enough, I was there to read. Just to read. I didn’t go there to cause issues, it wasn’t out of a reason of morbidity, though many would think my desire to sit in a cemetery to read, was morbid, weird — inappropriate. I didn’t feel what I was doing, was any of those reasons. I went because I felt comfortable, at ease and safe there. Being close to the dead brought me a sense of calm and peace, it still does. However, circumstances weren’t as simple as me wandering into a cemetery one day and discovering this, it was more complicated than that. The journey was much darker, grimmer and yes, this is where the morbid part really fits in. It all started at the age of ten when I was introduced to death. Confused? Intrigued? Stick around, I’ll explain.

The first time I experienced the death of someone I was close to, was when my Great Grandpa Bill ‘passed away’ — died. Before that, the only death I can remember was when my beloved German Shepherd Queenie, ‘went to the farm’. Yes, those are the words I was told. Until my Great Grandfather died, I actually thought she was running around, chasing squirrels in some farmer’s field. After my Great Grandfather’s death, this changed, my life changed.

victoria_princess_mourning

I was incredibly close to my Great Grandfather, he was someone who was my best friend and constant companion. He lived with us and I got to see him every day — until he got sick. A mild heart attack lead to a stroke. The stroke caused his death. He had been in the hospital for a few weeks before he died. I, in my ten-year-old head, figured he would eventually get better and come home. He didn’t. I don’t remember how I was told about him dying. I’m not sure why I don’t remember any of that, maybe I wasn’t told. Maybe, I just became part of the process, being swept along with everything that happened up until the part I do remember.

My first experience with a corpse was seeing him in his open casket. When I saw him, I was confused. He didn’t look like my Grandfather. He was wearing weird makeup, rouge, and lipstick. He didn’t look real. Everyone kept referring to him, to the man in the casket as Great Grandpa Bill. I couldn’t make the connection. It just didn’t look like him. It wasn’t registering in my adolescent mind. This is when the questions started. About my Great Grandfather, the man in the casket and about death.

girl-reading-ghost-story

I was a shy, introverted child. I spent my time hidden away in my room or corners, reading, doing art, daydreaming. My Great Grandfather took the time to talk to me, tell me stories, coax me out of my room. We went on adventures together. When he passed away, I became confused, then curious about what had happened to him, why it happened and what would happen to him afterward. At the funeral home, a lot of questions were asked by me. Why was he wearing weird makeup and lipstick? Why didn’t look real? I became upset when no one would answer me. No one would explain. I wasn’t allowed to go to his funeral because of this. My actions were considered inappropriate, I was distracting and likely causing an embarrassment. I was expected to be quiet, well-behaved and sedate. I may have been hushed that day, that however, wasn’t going to stop me from asking questions.

Avoiding a child’s questions and dismissing them will have consequences. They will either stop asking questions altogether or go to the other extreme. The latter happened to me. When my parents didn’t give me the answers I sought, I went elsewhere. I freaked out teachers and librarians. Especially the librarians. They would cringe when they saw me knowing I would ask them to help me find books on death. I’m sure that getting a call from the principal’s office about this, delighted my parents. I became relentless. I wasn’t going to stop until I had an answer, an understanding. I needed to know everything about death. Did it hurt, what happened after you died? Was death final? Was there an afterlife? What happened to your body after you died, after you were buried? What happened if you weren’t dead when they buried you? (thanks urban legends) The questions were endless and I needed to know all of the answers.

clipart-tombstone-graphics-victorian-graveyard-scene-headstone-Tf3Tor-clipart

Since that day, I have been death-obsessed. No, I’m not suicidal, I’m not looking for ways to end my life. I just trying to seek all the knowledge I can about death. My childhood death-obsession also lead me down my current path. I’m a writer and performer. I write in the horror genre and am working on a novel that is a semi-biographical ghost story. I have spent many hours researching death rituals of different cultures, past and present. How other societies celebrate it, what their customs are, how they view it. I have spent a lifetime thinking about it, writing about it, obsessing about it, talking about it.

Recently I have been inspired to start openly talking about death again and to more than just two people. I’m sure Sarrah and Zoltan will be relieved about this. After years of being shut down and told that I was being morbid or hearing the standard, ‘Ha ha. Guess that’s why you love horror.’, I’m finally motivated to talk openly about it again. Normally, my outlet has been writing, now I finally feel free enough to talk to many others. You see, a couple of weeks ago, I discovered a channel on YouTube that advocates The Good Death. The channel I am talking about is Caitlin Doughty’s Ask A Mortician. Finding this channel was like reconnecting with a long lost, beloved friend. I found Death again.

More now than ever, I think it’s important to start talking about death. To open up about it.; start the conversation. Recently a cousin of mine died. He was only one year older than me and I was shocked by his death. When someone this young dies, you start to question your own mortality. I’m not afraid of dying or death. Years of trying to learn everything about it, my education, has removed that romantic notion that I will live forever. We all die, there is no way around it. His recent death is just another push to ensure I do all things in life I want to do. Live my dreams. Make every moment count. Don’t let time run out. We all need to start the conversation about our own impending death. The one thing that Caitlin talks about often, is making sure you get the death you want, The Good Death. I’ve started thinking about what I want to be done with my body when I die. I don’t want a funeral, or a casket or an embalmed body that is preserved against what is supposed to happen naturally. I want to be wrapped in a shroud and buried in a shallow grave. A green burial. The perfect end and burial for a horror writer. It’s also an environmentally friendly way to dispose of… erm… bury a body.

Something else that has become an important source of support and information is Death Cafes. A Death Cafe is a safe place to talk about death and dying. They have speakers who cover a variety of different topics relating to death. Most cities have them and Toronto has a few every month. I think they are brilliant and I will be going to the next one that is closest to me. Another event that has started to happen around the planet are Death Salons. The idea of holding a Death Salon also intrigues me. I’m thinking about how to put one on. More details on this soon. To find out more on what has inspired me, please click on the following link. https://deathsalon.org/

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Will my obsession with death ever fade? No, if anything it will continue to grow. I will never stop reading about it, researching it, learning. I really wish that I had someone like Caitlin to talk to when I was ten. If I could go back and talk to that ten-year-old me, I’d assure her that it is ok to ask questions and that she should never stop. If your child or any other child asks about death, don’t dismiss them or avoid answering them. If you don’t know the answer, tell them you don’t and then find out the answer! Once you have that answer, go back to that child and have a conversation with them about their questions. Sheltering them from death and dying is not going to help them later in life.

I will always carry the ten-year-old around with me. She will always be there asking questions and expecting answers. I’m glad we live in a world that I can research from the comfort of my own living room. Living in Toronto has also made it easier for me to find the information and resources I need, without being pointed out as that weirdo wanting to talk about death. Let’s talk about it. Let’s start a conversation and keep it going. Don’t let the ten-year-olds, with questions about death, be swept away with the process.


Interview: Lizzie Violet

Check out this interview I recently did with Life With More Cowbell. 🙂

life with more cowbell

Lizzie Violet—photo by Anna Lozyk Romeo

Happy International Women’s Day! Today’s post is an interview with an incredibly talented, hard-working, gutsy and generous woman in the Toronto arts scene.

Lizzie Violet is a writer, spoken word artist and horror aficionado—that “dark little girl with the crooked grin” who took her finely tuned, quirky sense of observation and love of zombie lore, and wrote it down. Evocative, darkly funny and sharply drawn, her writing ranges from hilarious and poignant personal storytelling, to socio-political observation, to chilling tales of the supernatural and deadly creatures from beyond the grave.

LWMC: You first become attracted to horror when you were a kid, staying up late with your dad watching old horror movies on TV. What was it that hooked you?

LV: Apparently, I liked to scare myself. Even as a young introverted kid, I figured out how invigorating an adrenaline rush felt. Even more…

View original post 1,348 more words


Not Vegan Now Vegan

Recently we had a house party for my boyfriend’s birthday. I made an array of hot h’orrorduerves. The table was filled with many delicious vegan dishes such as loaded nachos, complete with nacho sauce, guacamole, salsa and sour cream. Cauliflower BBQ sauce wings, spring rolls, blue cheese dip, spicy sweet chili pepper sauce, cheese ball with chives, veggies, dips, hummus, cupcakes… all homemade. Did I mention… all vegan? 

The one thing that caught everyone’s attention was the Cauliflower BBQ sauce wings. Everyone thought they were actual non-vegan wings. Even after I let them know they were not, they still tried them. Loved them. You know that you were successful when everything was gobbled up. All of the homemade food was gone, platters cleaned off, with the exception of some dredges of sauce and a wee bit of the cheeseball.  

Quite often I am asked for the recipes for the dishes I make. Either by those who have eaten them or by those who have viewed pictures on my Instagram account. I do often use recipe books or recipes from the YouTube channels or blogs I am subscribed to. More often than naught, I do make things by just tossing ingredients together. This is a skill I learned from my Grandma Betty. A skill that can frustrate others, when you describe a recipe as a handful of that and a pinch of this. It’s definitely time to start writing these things down.

Similar to knitting, I learned to cook when I was ten. Partly out of necessity (to help out my working parents), partly because I loved to experiment with food and cooking was the ultimate experiment. I have always loved cooking and creating recipes. The end results may not always be what was expected and it’s true that our failures, even in the kitchen, teach us to be better at what we are attempting to learn or create.

I was blessed to have two Grandmothers who were amazing cooks. I learned different skills from both of them. Their passion for cooking and baking also became my passion. I learned how to bake bread, tarts, shortbread and pies. I got to watch them smile as they rolled out dough or kneaded bread. Every once in awhile I still get a waft of baking bread and nostalgia.  

A few years ago my Aunt Margie copied Grandma Betty’s cookbook and my mom gave me a copy of Grandma Carrie’s recipes. Over time I have been converting them to Vegan recipes. I think it is time to start sharing these recipes.

As I mentioned above, In the beginning, I didn’t have cookbooks to guide me along. I learned how to cook by watching how others cooked. This was pre-YouTube, pre-internet. I KNOW. A time BEFORE the internet! Once I learned the basics, I needed to know more,  I wanted to expand my knowledge. This is when cookbooks came into my life. Very often, I would borrow cookbooks from the library. Eventually, I started receiving cookbooks for gifts and then began my collection. A collection that continues to grow.

When I was a child, I grew up in an omnivore household. As a teen, I started to experiment with being a vegetarian and became a full vegetarian when I move out at the age of eighteen. Eventually, I became Vegan.  When I did, I purged my cookbooks. I didn’t give them all away and if you looked at my collection, you will still see non-Vegan cookbooks. I still use those cookbooks… and convert recipes to Vegan ones. I have the Betty Crocker Cookbook my mom gave to me when I was a teenager.  I also love to collect vintage cookbooks. These can often be vegan recipe conversion inspiration.

My personal style has usually been a horror-themed dinner party menus. The last few parties we’ve hosted have been less on the ghoulish side and I think I need to get back to being more of the horrific hostess. In my collection of cookbooks, I have horror themed or dark themed cookbooks. My next food related blog post will be of that theme. I have also started a food-related blog. You will find all of my future food-related posts at www.notvegannowvegan.wordpress.com.

Recent Dinner Party Recipes:

Bbq Cauliflower Wings and dip recipe – http://www.hotforfoodblog.com/recipes/2014/2/11/cauliflower-buffalo-wings

Bbq sauce — https://www.mynaturalfamily.com/recipes/paleo-recipes/paleo-bbq-sauce/

Cheeseball — https://www.bloglovin.com/blogs/it-doesnt-taste-like-chicken-10448229/cranberry-thyme-vegan-cheese-ball-4676771509

Sweet Chili Sauce recipe (one of those toss items together and see what happens)

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup  water
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 garlic (minced)
  • 2 -3 red chili pepper or tsp of chili flakes
  • 1.5 tbsp sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp cornstarch + 1.5 tsp water

In a saucepan add water and sugar. Heat and stir till sugar is dissolved.

Add garlic and chili pepper or flakes.

Add vinegar.

Add cornstarch mixture and stir till thick.

As it cools down it will get thicker.

YouTube Channels:

These are some of the YouTube Channels I watch. It is a beautiful mix of healthy and how to make Vegan junk food.  For those of my readers who are from Toronto, I will note which ones are from Toronto (easier for getting supplies).

Hot For Food (Toronto) 

It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken (Toronto) 

The Edgy Veg (Toronto)

Buddhist Chef (Montreal)

Those Annoying Vegans (the first half of the video is the recipe, second half is about Veganism) 

Cooking with Plants 

Deliciously Ella — (also she’s got a cute British accent) 

Raw Food Not Gross (she isn’t just raw food/she is super kooky and fun) 

and here as well, though her own channel is way more fun 

Vegetarian Baker 

The Vegan Zombie (because Zombies)

Vegan Black Metal Chef (because fun) 

Be Healthy Be Happy 

Sian Brown (A very talented musician)

Cheap Lazy Vegan (Canadian) 

Nikki Limo’s Tasty Tuesday’s  

High Carb Hannah 

Sweet Potato Soul

Websites and bloggers (most of these sites you can also subscribe to their newsletters):

Thug Kitchen — www.thugkitchen.com

Minimalist Baker — http://minimalistbaker.com/

It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken (her website has a tonne of recipes, she only does videos once in awhile —  http://itdoesnttastelikechicken.com/  

Chocolate Covered Katie — (her brownies are to die for) http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/

Mary’s Test Kitchen — http://www.marystestkitchen.com  

Pickles ‘n Honey — www.picklesnhoney.com

Avocados and Ales — https://avocadosandales.com/

Oh She Glows — http://ohsheglows.com/

Vegan Richa — www.veganricha.com

Fried Dandelions — http://www.frieddandelions.com/

I’m also on Pinterest and have many recipe boards. In case you needed the extra inspiration. https://www.pinterest.com/lizzieviolet/ 

 


Saturday Morning Horrors

As a kid, one of my fondest memories of Saturday mornings was sugar saturated cereal and cartoons. Spiderman, Hercules, Scooby Doo and many others.  Oh hold on… put on the brakes. No…. I actually wasn’t a fan of those cartoons. One of my brothers was obsessed with Spiderman, Rocket Robinhood and Hercules. Not I! Generally, I couldn’t stand those types of cartoons. Those cartoons were unfortunately on first Saturday mornings, then came what was more of the ‘ordinary’ delights in our household. The Hilarious House of Frightenstein and re-runs of The Addams Family, The Munsters and The Twilight Zone. Oh what a delight to hear Rod Serling’s voice first thing in the morning.

Growing up we had three… THREE channels. CKNX, CTV, CBC and eventually a fourth TVO was added. Fortunately, one of them showed more than just the typical Saturday morning fare. I may have lost my mind otherwise. I’m sure one of the programmers was a fan of the darker style of Saturday morning entertainment and somehow convinced the station manager that Morticia Addams and Grimilda were a must on a late Saturday mornings.

Occasionally on an exceptionally clear day, we would be able to get in a few New York stations and when we did… OH BOY!  We were in for a freaky treat! How I would pray for a cloudless Saturday morning.

Recently nostalgia started creeping in and I did a search for some of the shows I loved and to my delight was able to find some YouTube channels that are still showing reruns of the creature style shows such as Son of Svengoolie, Creature Features (which had a House of Frightenstein type host) and others that I was madly obsessed with.

Along with the creepy kids cartoons, there would usually be at least one show that would play vintage horror movies. I was always excited to see what shenanigans the creeptacular hosts would be up to. I loved that they would also rerun shows from the 1950s. One of my all time favourite openings is still Vampira.

We also can’t forget Elvira Mistress of the Dark. Typically a late night show, one of the channels we watched on Saturday mornings still ran her Midnight Madness.

Skip forward to today and we have spooktacular hosts such as Ivanna Cadavar from Macabre Theatre taking over the reign as the new TV Queen of the Underworld.

But…. back to Svengoolie. When we were able to get some of the upper state New York channels, I would literally have to fight my brother for control of the remote. Since we couldn’t get these stations every week, when we did, I had to take the opportuntity to see one of the best things about Saturday morning.

If we were extra lucky we would get reruns of Ghoul A Go Go (http://www.ghoulagogo.com/)

or the Count Orlaf Show.

Lucky for us today we have the internets and YouTube.  I am fortunate that I can still binge on channels and YouTube shows that encompass the need for schlocky themed, low budget, local broadcast style productions. Here are a few of my other favourites.

Mystery Science Theatre 3000

Chiller Night Theatre (this clip showing on of my favourite all time bad horror movies The Manster.

Full Horror (This channel doesn’t have a host, but has an archive of some vintages, b-horror movies.  Though the list isn’t a long one, the movies selected are some of the best, worst b-horror movies.)

Let’s not forget Shock Theatre.

Not to be confused with the original Shock Theatre from the 1970’s/80’s.

http://www.mediaprof.org/shock/

Often I think of starting my own channel. One of my partners in crime and one of my longest friendships (October Young) is also a huge fan of bad horror movies and schlock TV.  Together we have started our own production called Queens of Schlock. We are currently writing horror shorts but have often talked about  starting our own YouTube show. When I spend time watching some of my favourite YouTube channels or when we have bad horror movie nights, the inspiration to create our own show grows.  Stay tuned, you never know, that could be happening soon.

Growing up was a creepy, wondrous time of freaky Saturday morning cartoons. It might be time to restart the tradition.

What are some of your favourite bad movies, horror themed and hosted TV shows?  My next blog post will be about some of my favourite awesomely bad b-horror movies!

 


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