Hair tutorial: the basics of pin curls

Pin curls have been around since the 1920s and form the foundation of many vintage women’s hairstyles from the 1920s through to the 1950s.

In an era that is obsessed with hair-damaging curling irons, straighteners and hot rollers – pin curls are a wonderful way to create volume in your hair without damaging it.

Not only are pin curls better for your hair, but they also create a much more authentic curl. In fact, I would go so far as to say that they’re essential to any vintage hairstyling.

The 1920s tended to go for flat pin curls (such as in the video below), while the 1940s went for a stand up pin curl – as seen in these photos of Christine Aguilera.

The stand up pin curl gives much more volume than the flat version, and is generally a better choice if you’re looking for the big waves and curls of the 1950s hairdos. (Think Jessica Rabbit)









There are plenty of videos out there on pin curling, but I found this one to be the best example of precisely how to pin curl – despite the finished product (I like a much tighter curl and normally leave it overnight)



Movie Review: Hugo – set in 1930s Paris

I accidentally stumbled upon the 2011 movie ‘Hugo’ without even realising that it was directed by Martin Scorsese.

It caught my eye solely because Sir Ben Kingsley was acting in it – and I know that whatever he puts his name to is going to be a solid performance.

‘Hugo’ is billed as a children’s movie and yet I was initially concerned that the subject matter of an orphaned boy living in a Parisian trian station might be a little too dark. (I did cry a little tear I must admit)

So it was with great surprise that I discovered this fantastical tale set in 1930s Paris was simply a feast for the eyes and the imagination.

Even if the performances hadn’t impressed so much, I would still recommend this film solely for it’s outstanding cinematography and art direction (it won Oscars for both).

The cheesy voiceover on the trailer doesn’t do it justice, but you’ll still get a good sense of the look of this film.

Do yourself a favour and give this film a whirl.


PS The Worlds Tastiest Snack Bars freeze well!

Food I’m loving: Worlds tastiest snack bars

As someone who snacks three or four times a day I’m always on the hunt for healthy snack bars.

I made my first batch on the weekend and they have proven to have just the right balance of tastiness and density.

The recipe is adapted from a vegan energy bar that is made by Rebar in Victoria, BC (

(I’ve * the vegan substitutes and provided details in brackets)


Worlds Tastiest Snack Bars

Makes approximately 15 bars



Dry Ingredients:

2 cups 7-grain cereal  (I made my own version with a combination of spelt flakes, oats, and some miscellaneous grainy cereal)

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup chopped prunes

1/2 cup almonds, coarsely chopped (I left these out)

1/2 cup sunflower seeds (I used pumpkin seeds instead)

1/2 cup chocolate chips* (carob for vegans)

1 1/4 cups unbleached white flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt


Wet Ingredients:

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2/3 cup brown sugar

2 eggs* (1/3 cup of flax eggs for vegans: recipe below photos)

1 cup applesauce

1 tsp vanilla



1. Preheat oven to 350°F. (175°C)

2. Prepare a 9″ x 13″ pan by lining it with parchment paper and spraying it with vegetable oil. (This seemed like overkill but the mixture is very wet)

3. Combine the dry ingredients and wet ingredients in separate bowls.








4. Mix the dry and wet mixtures together until thoroughly combined.

5. Spread the mixture evenly into the pan.












6. Bake 18 minutes. (It will be a little bit ‘springy’ on top)












7. Allow the mixture to cool before cutting into snack bars.







8. Will keep in the fridge for at least a week. (They also freeze well).


Vegan Flax Eggs

Can be used in most recipes as a vegan substitute for eggs when baking

Makes 1 cup and can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.



1/4 cup flax seeds

3/4 cup + 2 Tbs water



1. Place the flax seeds in the bowl of a food processor and grind thoroughly.

2. With the motor running, slowly add the water.

3. Once all of the water has been added, let the processor run for 5 minutes.


Winged eyeliner: inspiration and a video tutorial

Today’s blog post is one for the vintage ladies with a straightforward tutorial on how to do winged eyeliner.

Winged eyeliner gained cult status in the 1960s when film stars started ‘flicking’ their eyeliner as a signature look.

From Brigitte Bardot to Elizabeth Taylor to Barbra Streisand – each of these ladies had their own unique way of painting their eyeliner.

It brought this look to such mass popularity that liquid eyeliner became a staple in the makeup world.











Although Blackbettyrama uses a MAC brush and liquid gel to do her eyeliner – I prefer a hard liquid eyeliner (kind of like a pen). So my suggestion as always is to experiment until you find the right product and look.

Like all things vintage – it takes practice.


How to be friends with another woman

Today’s blog post is by Roxane Gay who recently posted this article on the popular website  (

It speaks on how to be friends with another woman and more importantly, it challenges some of those undermining myths that keep women apart.

It’s a little bit of a longer article but well worth the read. Would love to know your thoughts on it.


“How to Be Friends With Another Woman

Herewith, a helpful guide.

1. Abandon the cultural myth that all female friendships must be toxic, bitchy or competitive. This myth is like heels and purses — pretty but designed to SLOW women down.
1A. This is not to say women aren’t bitches or toxic or competitive sometimes but rather to say that these are not defining characteristics of female friendship, especially as you get older.

2. A lot of ink is given over to mythologizing female friendships as curious, fragile relationships that are always intensely fraught. Stop reading writing that encourages this mythology.
2A. The female friendship in Sheila Heti’s How Should a Person Be? is actually awesome and powerful. If you read it as otherwise, ask yourself why.

3. If you find that you are feeling competitive, toxic, or bitchy toward the women who are supposed to be your closest friends, look at why and figure out how to fix it and/or find someone who can help you fix it.

4. If you are the kind of woman who says, “I’m mostly friends with guys,” and act like you’re proud of that, like that makes you closer to being a man or something, and less of a woman as if a woman is a bad thing, see Item 3. It’s okay if most of your friends are guys but if you champion this as a commentary on the nature of female friendships, well, soul search a little.
4A. If you feel like it’s hard to be friends with women consider that maybe women aren’t the problem. Maybe it’s just you.
4B. I used to be this kind of woman. I’m sorry.

5. Sometimes, your friends will date people you cannot stand. You can either be honest about your feelings or you can lie. There are good reasons for both. Sometimes you will be the person dating someone your friends cannot stand. If your man or woman is a scrub, just own it so you and your friends can talk about more interesting things. My go to explanation is, “I am dating an asshole because I’m lazy.” You are welcome to borrow it.

6. Want nothing but the best for your friends because when your friends are happy and successful, it’s probably going to be easier for you to be happy.
6A. If you’re having a rough go of it and a friend is having the best year ever and you need to think some dark thoughts about that, do it alone, with your therapist, or in your diary so that when you actually see your friend, you can avoid the myth discussed in Item 1.
6B. If you and your friend(s) are in the same field and you can collaborate or help each other, do this, without shame. It’s not your fault your friends are awesome. Men invented nepotism and practically live by it. It’s okay for women to do it too.
6C. Don’t tear other women down because even if they’re not your friends, they are other women and well, this is just important. This is not to say you cannot criticize other women but understand the difference between criticizing constructively and tearing down cruelly.
6D. Everybody gossips so if you are going to gossip about your friends, at least make it fun and interesting. As a corollary, never say, I never lie or I never gossip because you are lying.
6E. Love your friends’ kids even if you don’t want or like children. Just do it.

7. Tell your friends the hard truths they need to hear. They might get pissed about it but it’s probably for their own good. The other day my best friend told me to get it together about my love life and demanded an action plan and well, it was irritating but also useful.
7A. Don’t be totally rude about truth telling and consider how much truth is actually needed to get the job done. Finesse goes a long way.
7B. These conversations are more fun when preceded by an emphatic, “GIRL.”

8. Surround yourself with women you can get sloppy drunk with who won’t draw stupid things on your face if you pass out, and who will help you puke, if you over celebrate and who will also tell you if you get sloppy drunk too much or behave badly when you are sloppy drunk.

9. Don’t flirt (too much), have sex, or engage in an emotional affair with your friends’ significant others. This shouldn’t need to be said but it needs to be said. That significant other is an asshole and you don’t want to be involved with an asshole that’s used goods. If you want to be with an asshole, get a fresh asshole of your very own. They are abundant.

10. Don’t let your friends buy ugly outfits or accessories you don’t want to look at when you hang out. This is just common sense.

11. When something is wrong and you need to talk to your friends and they ask you how you are, don’t say, “Fine.” They know you’re lying and it irritates them and a lot of time is wasted with the back and forth of “Are you sure?” and “Yes?” and “Really?” and “I AM FINE.” Tell your lady friends the truth so you can talk it out and either sulk companionably or move on to other topics.

12. If four people are dining, split the check evenly four ways. We are adults now. We don’t need to add up what each person had anymore. If you’re high rolling, just treat everyone and rotate who treats. If you’re still in the broke stage, do what you have to do.

13. If a friend sends a crazy e-mail needing reassurance about love, life, family, or work, respond accordingly and in a timely manner even if it is just to say, GIRL, I hear you. If a friend sends you like thirty crazy e-mails needing reassurance about the same damn shit, be patient because one day that’s going to be you tearing up GMAIL with your drama.

14. My mother’s favorite saying is “qui se ressemble s’assemble.” Whenever she didn’t approve of who I was spending time with she’d say this ominously. It means, essentially, you are who you surround yourself with. ”


Latest Alberta adventure: Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump

Alberta is a province with a rich and varied history and I recently had the great fortune to visit the UNESCO world heritage site: Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump.

This is a buffalo jump that was used by the Plains native people for nearly 6,000 years (before horses arrived) to herd buffalo and then drive them to their deaths off a 10 metre high cliff.

There are both indoor and outdoor exhibits, including marked walking trails that take you to the jumping point up above and then the kill site down below where the carcasses were butchered and prepared.

The Buffalo was treated with great respect by the Blackfoot and every part of the carcass was used to survive the harsh winters including the meat, the hide, the organs, the marrow, the dung and the bones.

I particularly loved the heavy emphasis at The Interpretive Centre on Blackfoot traditions including an impressive short film that showed a reenactment of a buffalo hunt and the spiritual traditions and knowledge that were handed down from generation to generation.












There are a variety of nutritious grasses here that attracted the buffalo. It is also a particularly windy part of Alberta – according to the local statistics there is only calm weather here 14% of the year.












These guys are big. Really big. Their typical weight can range from 318 to 1,000 kg (700 to 2,200 lb).























One of the local schools had a wonderful exhibition of artworks depicting various Blackfoot legends. This one is about the Blackfoot concept of Creation.




















The Interpretive Centre has just the right blend of display and information. Plenty of information for the geeks like me, and pictures for everybody else.












Native dogs were used to transport heavy loads and everything else was carried on the tribe’s backs.













Chokecherries were one of the fruits that were mixed in with pulverised buffalo meat and fat to form a nutritious jerky called pemmican that could be eaten throughout the winter. The area is still rich with chokecherry trees.












The buffalo herd was usually led by one or two female leaders – when they stampeded the whole herd would blindly follow these leaders off the edge of the cliff.













Smashed-Head-In Buffalo Jump is open seven days a week and you’ll need to allow a minimum of 3 hours to see everything.

(Website: )

The Savoy Ballroom

This is a lovely 5 minute video with Norma Miller talking about the famous Savoy Ballroom and her first dance there.

A must watch for any swing dancers!

Etsy: a must for vintage gals and guys!

Today’s blog post is on the wonderful e-commerce site; Etsy. (

Although Etsy has been up and running since 2005, I only discovered it last year after a couple of ladies in the swing dance scene showed up with some hard-to-get vintage accessories (handmade snoods to be exact).

The site is focused on vintage or handmade items – but you can also find arts and crafts supplies. All vintage items have to be at least 20 years old to qualify.

Given the mixed criteria there is a diverse range of items on here but the real challenge is not to find what you’re looking for – rather it’s to have some discipline about it.

After perusing for a year or so, I’ve just received my first Etsy purchase and I am extremely pleased with the item.

It was a great price, was exactly as it had been listed and arrived earlier than expected from the States.

Behold!  60s daffodil plastic hair clips –  I look forward to showing them off.


The world’s smartest dog?

Eleanor Powell was the Queen of tap dancing in her day and was said to be the only dancer who intimidated Fred Astaire because she could actually out dance him.

Today’s blog post is another outstanding tap routine from Eleanor Powell – yet this time with a twist, as it involves a small pooch ‘Buttons’ (who I would like to suggest might just be the world’s smartest dog).

The clip comes from the movie ‘Lady Be Good’ which was an MGM musical that was shot in 1941.

Story goes that despite doggie auditions MGM was unable to find a suitably trained dog, so Eleanor Powell trained the dog herself!

Although popular belief is that the scene was shot in Eleanor’s living room at home (because the dog had been trained there), with the lighting and camera angles I believe this was actually shot on a reconstruction of her living room at the studios.