Monday, April 25, 2011

A Walk Down Other People's Memory Lane

As I’ve noticed several vintage bloggers point out, it can be really fun looking through old photographs of family members and ‘real life' people (as opposed to celebrities). It’s fascinating (and sometimes humorous) to see pieces of life from so long ago and useful to get an idea as to what regular folks looked and dressed like on a day-to-day basis. It’s just as frustrating to look at studio portraits of celebrities from the past and try (and fail) to achieve their look as it is unrealistic to expect similar looks to the styled and Photoshopped stars of today’s popular culture.

But mostly, I like leafing through abandoned photo bins at antique shops and the pages of my family albums to get chuckles out of awkward 60s hairdos and stoic Victorian era portraits, and to marvel at the fact that these people, some of them of my blood, lived through these eras and saw times I am forever trying to connect with and understand. And to them, it was just regular life, but many of them would live long enough to see so many milestones of history that would change their idea of regular – the internet, the Civil Rights movement, WWII, the Red Scare, the cell phone, food preservatives, gender-integrated gym classes (something my grandma was shocked to learn – that I did gym class with the boys. Well, to be honest, I wish I hadn’t, because they were awfully rude in Frisbee and made me lurk on the edges of the field for fear of getting Frisbee-d in the face and stuck with a permanent dent in my forehead). 

Anyways, the point to this: below I’ve posted some old pictures of my family and their friends. They were all scanned by my mom months ago, as she was assembling a family history project. Hopefully you enjoy them – they’re not that great, as most of my mom’s family settled in North Dakota and Minnesota and were farmers, so they weren’t exactly glamorous. But when Gracie uploads some of her family pictures soon, that’ll be a treat – her family was living in New York City during WWII!

My grandma Joyce when she was 14 in 1944. She had naturally curly hair, which of course I couldn't have had the good hair-fortune to inherit.

My mom as a wee tot.

I'm pretty sure this is Laverne, my great-grandma.

A picture I really like of Amy and her husband. She's some great-great relative of mine.

My great-great grandma Harrington and her brother Charles. He's rather dashing in his uniform, isn't he? I wonder what that uniform was for... I'm no good at identifying that kind of apparel.

Great-great grandma Harrington, great-grandma Laverne, and my grandma's sister Linda. I just feel so frustrated when I look at this picture because IF ONLY my family had been uber-economical and saved more of their clothing! That bag! The jabot! THOSE HATS!!

Not very good quality, but this is great-grandma Laverne, probably in the mid 1920s.

Probably my favorite. Luella, my great-grandma's sister. I think she and this picture (and her hair, if only I could do that!) are so pretty. 

My grandma Joyce in high school (she's the farthest to the left).
And last but not least.... the great beauty of the family!
Just kidding. Obviously. Although I'm not kidding about this fellow being family, he actually is. William Sowden is the name. I'm not sure how we're related, but we are, he just goes wayyy back, as evidenced by the quality of this picture and style of his beard.

Till next time!

- Emily

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Delicious Desires and Dastardly Disappointments

Okay, so I love food... Like in a Liz Lemon way. Except, I have to say, my palette is a weebit more refined than miss Lemon’s, as in I dont like hot dogs or donuts. Cheese, however.... yum. I miss cheese. I dont eat it here often, but when I go home... ahhhhhh so much happiness happens in my mouth. Because of cheese, I mean. And other fantastic foods, too. No one told me how much college food sucks. I guess I should have assumed, since they make it for the masses, but I didnt.
Anyhow, the reason I brought this topic up is because when I went to my Ma’s house a few weekends ago we stopped along the highway at this shop that sells ciders, pies, and various other homemade goodies. We were hesitant about the purchase of a $14.00 pie, but it was made by the maker of South Carolina’s best pie (and the 2nd best pie in the nation, according to Southern Living []) so we made an exception. I also happily purchased a jar of cinnamon apple jam. 

Almost immediately after the purchase of fancy-pants pie. (I apologize for the crappy computer camera quality....)

Once we finally got to the house we started in on the pie we had earlier decided to share with the rest of our family (who live not 15 minutes away). I hate to say it, but what a bust! The pie (apple, of course!) had almost non-existent flavor, was too dry for our liking, and had mediocre crust. I was so disappointed, you have no idea. I managed to eat two slices within it’s short time in our possession (two days, which is actually a really long time for our family...) but the whole while I was waiting for it to get better. When I have made pies in the past, though they were not award-winning, they were much, much better than this lady’s! Also, my sister makes even better pie than I! In fact, her pies are the reason I even started to like pie! That being said, I would like to confess I am an avid baker and have developed quite the sweet tooth since I discovered my wee, elfin hands could produce delicious treats. I was 13 when I first realized this and yet somehow my skills havent attracted as many friends as I would have hoped. Anyway, that’s not why I bake. I bake because I like being able to enjoy the product of easy work and a little bit of know-how. Baking and cooking is so much easier than a lot of people make it out to be! What’s my point? Oh yeah, I guess I’m just writing this because I have been wanting to bake a lot the past few days so it’s really all I can think about. Baking and ice cream making. I am going home in a week and Im hoping to make more cup pies (a la Pushing Daisies, only not as neat-looking) and ice cream. I'm thinking lemon ice cream... I have really been wanting to try it out and it’s been such perfect weather for a nice chilly, citrus-y treat! 

Apple Cinnamon cup pies.

I'm sorry to have bored you with my random post about food. But hey, who doesn’t like a long-winded series of complaints and plans related to chow?

.... Have a lovely evening, all! And if you have the opportunity, go bake something! 

- Gracie

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Feast for the Eyes

Recently I’ve become rather smitten with early 20th century illustration. For awhile I pretty much exclusively paid attention to photographs (film stills, studio portraits, personal photos, etc) in my quest to satiate my aesthetic appetite, but (to continue the metaphor) I feel as if I’ve discovered a new and exotic cuisine in illustration.
Below are some images I gathered the other day from Silverbluestar's Flickr stream. I just love the colors and whimsy and romance – in both senses of the word. I hope you enjoy them too!
by Barbier, 1919

by Brunelleschi, 1912

by Barbier, 1914

by Lepape... I forgot to mark the year.

by Martin, 1913

by Romme, 1919

Maybe my favorite of the bunch! I forgot to get the artist's name though.

by Brunelleschi, 1914

by Wegener, 1914
- Emily 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Let's Get Some Balls Rolling!

- or rather, let’s get this ball (blog...) rolling. I am more than anxious to get going on posts. I thought it would be nice to start with an outfit post because I know those are always my favorite part of reading other blogs! (unless there is cooking/baking mentioned... those might be my real favorite... it’s a really hard choice.) Anyway, so yesterday I wore one of my favorite tops which happens to be a sweater-blouse, and that was... well, really dumb actually. Why? Because I live in the south. Where it is hot and humid everyday. Okay, not really everyday, but most, including yesterday. Especially at this time of year. And it will only get worse as we get into summer. Thankfully the only time I go outside is to get to classes and that usually doesn’t take that much time. But alas, I managed to get all gross-sticky feeling anyway. Regardless, I wore it and after the too hot bus trip to class I was glad to have it on, for it kept me warm in my glacial-esque class, despite it being short sleeved. 

I got it on a Goodwill trip over my spring break with Emily. She is actually the one who found it but she said her boobs were too small for it to look good, so naturally I got to try it on. And I LOOOVE it. It’s got the cutest pattern on the top and the color is so lovely. and it’s soft, which is always a good thing, right? So here it is, in all of it’s purple glory along with an A-line skirt, also picked up at goodwill (different trip, though), my new (to me) sandals from Etsy, and my not at all vintage jewelry. The thimble necklace I made a few years ago and the button charm bracelet I got for my 18th birthday.  

So yes, this is a taste of how I look/dress daily. I, like many of you, am frequently asked if I am going to be in some sort of production or doing a project. And by those who have begun to recognize me as "that weird vintage girl" I am asked about why I do it. I don’t think I need to explain myself on here right now, but I might at a later point. The questions that astound me the most are the ones that are inaccurate. Like when people see me and ask "Why 1920s?" .... I mean I get not knowing the differences between the 1820s and the 1840s if you're not an expert, but the 1900s was so recent, how could someone not know the difference between any of the decades? Plus there is so much recorded from that time and so so so much reproduced and represented in films and TV and such. I guess I forget sometimes that just because knowing stuff like that is important to me doesn't mean it is to other people. I also forget how bad most schools are about teaching kids about recent history. It's pathetic really. Blerg, sorry for the rant! It just really gets my goat. 

On another note, please forgive my crap lipstick, I didn’t have time to fix it since I didn’t know how long my roommate would be sleeping. Yes, I took these sneakily whilst she snoozed the afternoon away, to avoid awkwardness. She already thinks I photograph my drying underwear (a long, unrelated story. maybe I'll tell it someday...) I don’t need anymore reason for her to think I’m into weird picture shenanigans. 

Well, That's all for now. I'm off to finish my sculpture project... or at least attempt such.

Until next time, farewell and have a pleasant tomorrow.

- Gracie

yep, my legs really are that lovely corpse color. 

detail of my necklace and top.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Greetings Earthlings,

It's been a long time in the making, but we have finally created our blog! This is the beginning of what we hope will become a very inspirational, informative, and beautiful blog. It's exciting and a little overwhelming to think of all of the things we hope to say, show, teach, and learn from becoming vintage-focused bloggers, but I think we are prepared for the challenges! We are Gracie and Emily, the authors of The Cats and the Berries! We love old fashioned music and aesthetics, and are especially enamored with the 1930s and 1940s - but we certainly do not mind the majority of things made/designed during the entire first half of the 20th century and even a teeny weeny bit beyond that.

We are undoubtedly history nerds, only without the vast accumulation of knowledge we would hope for at this point in our long lives (a whole 37 years between the two of us!) We have been friends since 6th grade and friend-soulmates since 8th. We have the highest amount of respect for each other and always have had a fantastic time growing into young adults together. Since college has separated us physically (even though we have both remained in our home state), and roommates limit our Skype/phone time, we intend to further develop and even strengthen our friendship by blogging together about the things we love, and maybe even the things we have different opinions on.

A little more to chew on: At the present Emily is planning to major in film at an undisclosed university and Gee is studying historic preservation at SCAD. We are both Atlanta born-and-raised, and have come to love the good ol’ South, despite the abundance of fried food, football fanatics, and torturously hot summers. We don’t know just what we want to do with our lives in terms of careers, but we know that whatever we do we would ideally like to inspire others to find and seek out the beauty in life - and maybe along the way bring to light the dichotomous mystery of and connection with the past that can engage and enrich us all.

In addition to our continuing friendship, we hope to make new friends with similar interests, because as blog-readers ourselves, we already know you're out there! We look forward to getting to know and learn from the blogoverse, and we hope you will enjoy our (cyber) company!

- Emily & Gee