Friday, November 28, 2014

Cha-ching cha-ching

It's officially Black Friday, and there are a ton of sales underway. Check out my #treatyoself post from Monday - I've included a huge update with even more sales, some of them really, really fantastic. Tara Starlet, 40% off and free shipping worldwide; Trashy Diva, 30% off with the code BLACKOUT30; The Vintage Mistress, 25% off, and so very many more.
I actually did my Black Friday shopping last night on my phone, because I have absolutely no patience. I got my gift for my Secret Santa buddy, and I got my own Christmas present, which I will totally be wrapping up and putting under the tree and not spending every waking minute stroking and telling it how beautiful it is.
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And don't forget, TheBestVintageClothing.com is offering an amazing 50% off for three hours only, 3-6pm EST. They've got a really fantastic array of clothes at all price points, and if you're looking at more expensive items, 50% off might make them much for attainable. Use the code BF14 to save big.
Just a few of their pretty pretties-
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This confetti lucite necklace
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This fantastic 40s nurses cape
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This amazing 70s does 20s dress from Finnish designer Vuokko Nurmesniemi (aka Marimekko)

So get on it, ladies! I don't know about you, but I seriously can't resist a sale.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Giving Thanks

Something that I find really beautiful about this time of year is that everything slows down a little bit. It's cold, and that drive to hibernate keeps us indoors and close to home. It always turns my thoughts inwards, and makes me reflect on what I have in my life.
Sometimes, that's a bit painful. I don't have a lot of family in my life; some of the people that I loved have passed, and others are estranged (for good reasons that I won't go into right now), and since I moved to Chicago, I've spent more than a few Thanksgivings alone, or working. Last year I went to Dublin over the holiday, partly to avoid the whole situation. I bought my ticket before I started dating my boyfriend, and while I had a wonderful time there, on Thanksgiving I found myself sitting on a bridge, looking out over the Liffey, eating a turkey sandwich and wishing I had someone to share the moment with.
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I mean, just look at that. I wanna go baaaaaaack.
I think a lot of people battle with loneliness this time of year. Ads and movies and tv shows and songs are all about the joy of gathering with your friends and family, talking and laughing and bickering and sharing meals. There's something very primal, very human about it. For most of human history, this was the time of year where we didn't just choose to come together, we were forced to do so to survive in the face of the harsh weather and scarce food. Feast days, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, were much needed breaks from fast days, which were necessary to preserve food stores. For most people, food scarcity isn't something that we worry about anymore, but the urges that come with the onset of winter remain.
This year, I feel like I'm in a really good place. It's almost startling how happy life is making me right now.
One of the things that I'm truly grateful for this year is my boyfriend, Brian.
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The filter I used here is called "Lucky." Seemed appropriate.
We've moved pretty fast with our relationship - we just started dating a little over a year ago, and already we've moved in and are talking about a long future together. I'm really happy to have someone in my life who supports and understands me; who can have a talk about issues (personal or social) and take my opinion seriously, but who is also really joyful, and will dance around the house with me; who loves me; who isn't perfect but is awesome.
Even though I complain about it all the time, I'm also really grateful for my job.
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The totally awesome view from my break room at work.
For the first time in my life, I have a pretty stable income. I may not have a lot of money, but I have enough money. I don't have panic attacks over bills anymore when something unexpected comes up. I even have decent benefits! A regular schedule, plenty of time off, a relatively low stress environment. Sometimes, when I really stop and think about it, I can't believe how lucky I am to have stumbled into it. I also just applied for a promotion, and I think I have a really good chance of getting it.
My friends are another bright point in my life. There are a couple of people in particular that I love, and am so happy to have in my life. I don't see them often enough, but I'm determined to fix that as soon as possible.
Is it silly that I'm thankful for my wardrobe? Probably, but I am.

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It will never stop evolving, but I feel like, for the first time in my life, it really reflects who I am, or the least who I want people to see. For a really long time, the only thing it showed was what was on sale at Kmart, so it feels good to have control over it.
I'm grateful for my city, for my safety, for my neighbor's dog, for my coworkers, for the books that I read, for my health, for my youth, for red lipstick, for good tv, for whiskey, for sales (sorry, had to shill a little bit), for this blog and all of the kind people who read it, and sometimes even comment.
That's kind of all encompassing, isn't it? But really, for all my little complaints and issues and annoyances, I have a good life, and it feels good sometimes to stop and remember that.
What are you thankful for? Even if you don't celebrate Thanksgiving, feel free to comment.

No post tomorrow (I will be far too busy stuffing my face, drinking too much, and napping), but keep an eye out Friday. I'm going to be trolling Etsy and posting about even more sales, so if, like me, you're participating in Chronically Vintage's Secret Santa, now might be a great time to find the perfect gift.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Baby I'm Howling For You

If you didn't already see it, yesterday I posted my list of Black Friday deals and coupons, including really fantastic coupons from TheBestVintageClothing.com, Chronically Vintage on Etsy, and ReVamp Vintage. Go check it out! Better yet, spread the word. I'll be posting the coupon codes throughout the week on my Instagram account (@cakesvintage), so repost at will.
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When I was in college I took a class on fairy tales and folklore, and Little Red Riding Hood was a really fascinating one to dissect. It's a generally accepted premise that fairy tales are told to children to help them understand how the world works, and they reflect our subconscious fears and desires. That's why there are so many similar ones across different cultures around the world. Little Red Riding Hood expresses the fears of growing up, of women reaching maturity and exploring their sexuality, and the dangers inherent in that. If you're interested in a modern, feminist interpretation of the story, Angela Carter's short story The Bloody Chamber is a really good.
This weekend was surprisingly warm, if damp, so I made a point to get a little dressed up and take some fun photos. I've been feeling very inspired by fairy tales and folk inspired details, and a cheeky take on Little Red Riding Hood just kind of spontaneously came together.
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Ok, so I'm not wearing red, I don't have a hood, and I'm not particularly little. I sort of liked the implication of Little Red wearing a nice *cough* fur cape, though, as if she'd handled the wolf problem and had a little something to show for it.
I've worn this dress before, most recently here, and I was happy to discover that it actually works pretty well as a layering piece. A prim, peter pan collar blouse with a brooch at the neck and another, shorter skirt in a coordinating color pretty easily took it from summertime sundress to something folkloric and fall appropriate, like a dirndl with an apron.
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I was actually pinning up the skirt to hem it, and when I tried it on, I realized that I liked the look of the slightly longer underskirt. I didn't leave it this way, but I thought for the photos it was a fun touch. I might replicate the look with a longer petticoat or cotton slip in the future.
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I've been trying to find different ways to use my backyard, just so that I'm not taking the same photos over and over again, and I think I like this higher vantage point. I don't have a remote trigger for my camera, though, so it's probably pretty amusing watching me run up and down a flight of stairs umpteen times to push the button.
Do you have a favorite fairy tale? I'll be honest, while I like reading them, it tends to frustrate me that, because of when and where they come from, the women are always helpless damsels, waiting for men to rescue them. I usually enjoy reading interpretations of them that give the women in the stories a little more agency and power. Neil Gaiman has some decent ones like that, and the aforementioned Angela Carter does as well.

Monday, November 24, 2014

#treatyoself (and maybe other people too): Black Friday Vintage Deals

Updated: I've added even more sales, some of which I discovered, some of which I was contacted about.
Everybody loves a deal, right? While it can be fun to relentlessly search for the best deals, sometimes, when you're just coming out of a turkey coma, it's nice when someone has already done a little bit of the legwork for you. Whether you're picking out your own holiday treat, finding the perfect gift for someone you love, or creating a little Secret Santa magic, I've got a whole bunch of awesome offers collected for you, right here, for your shopping pleasure.
If you're a vendor and don't see your name on the list, it's not too late. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email letting me know about your Black Friday/Cyber Monday/Please Buy My Stuff Saturday promotion.

The Best Vintage Clothing - Exclusive discount, 50% off 3PM-6PM est 11/28 only, code BF14
My jaw pretty much dropped when Miss Kitty from The Best Vintage Clothing responded to my "are you having a Black Friday sale?" email with "sure, how's 50% off for your readers sound?" Um, yes, please! Three hours only, so look sharp with this one, and start planning your purchases now. If you're a collector, they have some really amazing designer dresses, as well as some well preserved pieces from the 10s and 20s. 50% off something like that could be the steal of the year if you're looking for a special piece.

Wool and Silk Deco Dress, Larger Size $556 $278

This beautiful and beautifully preserved dress from the 1920s is a larger size (great if you're constantly annoyed by how teeny stuff from that era always seems to be), and the beautiful wool and silk design would be perfect for attending a fancy Christmas party or winter wedding.
Signed Schiaperelli Necklace and Earrings $476 $238
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Who doesn't love Schiaperelli? Her whimsical, intellectual designs made her one of the most popular designers among the artistic set in the 20s, 30s, and 40s. This signed necklace and earrings set make a stunning statement, and might make a great gift for a stylish woman in your life. If that woman's you, I wouldn't judge.
1940s Black Rayon Suit with Capelet $399.20 $199.60
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This 1940s, Victorian inspired suit would make a stunning statement on any suit lover. The fitted jacket emphasizes the waist, and the capelet detailing adds playful interest.
If, like me, you're on the prowl for more day to day items, it's a great time to snatch those up as well.
Baby Alligator Purse $159.20 $79.60
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I'm not crazy for thinking this is really cute, right?
Hand Painted Circle Skirt $239.20 $119.60
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I've seen these hand-painted circle skirts go for $200-250, so $120 is a steal for something this beautiful and detailed.
Crown and Scepter Embroidered Blouse $195 $97.50
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Good vintage blouses can be hard to find, and I love the embroidered details on this one.
Looking for a gift? There's a great Collectibles section with knick knacks, art, and paper ephemera, as well as vintage patterns and fabric for the crafty dame (or bloke) in your life.

Chronically Vintage - Exclusive discount, 25% off order 11/24-12/2 code BLACKFRIDAYSAVE25
There is always so much to love in Jessica's beautifully curated Etsy shop - it was hard to pick just a few favorites! But here are some pieces that I've been keeping an eye on.
1930s Pave Butterfly $48 $36
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1950s Faux Tortoise Shell Lucite Purse $88 $66
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Square Rose Gold Lucite Bangle $24 $18
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ReVamp Vintage - 20% off using THANKS2014 on Friday, the 28th only
This vintage reproduction company has offerings from the 1910s through the 1950s. What I love about this store is the variety of clothing they offer - it's hard to find authentic vintage from the 1910s and 20s, but you can get it here, in your size, lovingly recreated just for you. They even have made to measure options!
Beatrice Dress, 1935 $220 $176
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Swing Collectibles Slacks, 1940s $100 $80
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Bianca Blouse, 1955 $130 $104
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Custard Heart - 25-65% off the entire store, 11/28-12/1
This beautiful vintage boutique adds new items daily, and specializes in wearable items for the modern vintage lover.
Voyeur Vintage - 25% off 11/27-12/1
This is one of my very favorite Etsy shops out there. Pretty and really wearable pieces, always reasonably priced. My first stop whenever I'm looking for a "wear it all day, every day" item.
Vacation Vintage - 30% off 11/24-11/28
If there's any shop that I would happily buy everything they've got, it's this one. This tightly curated jewel box has gorgeous clothes from the 30s through the 60s.
VeryVintage - 10% off 11/23-26, 20% off 11/27-12/1
Oh, the dresses! Very Vintage always has unique, beautiful, and reasonably priced items for the discerning collector.
Capsule Vintage - 30% off from 11/27-12/1
I always find myself drooling over beautiful 50s/60s party and day dresses on offer from Capsule Vintage.
Carousel Vintage Boutique - 30% storewide 11/28-12/2
This pretty boutique has a wide range of apparel and accessories from the 40s through the 80s, and there's always a little something for everyone.
Sweet Bee Finds - 25% off from 11/27-12/2
The prettiness on display from Sweet Bee is hard to match - she's got beautiful party and day dresses, with shoes and accessories to match.
Victory Mills - 25% off from 11/27-11/30
Another beautifully curated shop, reasonably priced and specializing mostly in lovely day dresses.
Bloomers and Frocks - 20% off entire store 11/28-11/30
This fabulous store actually sorts their offerings by s/m/l, making their store one of the easiest to search.
Jumblelaya - 20% off 11/26-12/1
There are so many gorgeous pieces available here that it's hard to pick a favorite! Her carefully chosen pieces are beautiful and unique.
Hollie Point  - 20% off starting at midnight 11/27-12/2 at 9pm
This store has a beautiful selection of clothes, shoes, and accessories, mostly from the 50s and 60s, and I've been informed that there will be a lot of new items added to the store for the sale.
Crush Vintage  - Special discount for Instagram follwers (@crushvintage) 11/25-11/27; 25% off storewide 11/28-12/1
This store has a wide array of inventory, and every piece is a winner. Lately I've been stalking their shoes and coats - so many pieces to love!
Heart of Haute - 15% off sitewide, 2 chances to win a goodie bag, and 1 chance to get your order FREE 6pm 11/27-midnight 11/28; 25% off select items on 12/1
Steady Clothing - 50% off select items, 20% off entire store
Foxy Brit Vintage - 30% off the entire store
Pickled Vintage - 45-60% off (moving sale, don't know how long this one will last)
Stutterin Mama - 20% off
Cheshire Vintage Shop - 20% off with code HAPPYHOLIDAYS
Raleigh Vintage - 20% off 11/26-12/2
Trunk of Dresses - 20% off
Dear Golden - 25% off
Adored Vintage - 25% off through 12/1
When Decades Collide - 20% off through 11/30
Wildfell Hall - 20% off, TODAY ONLY
The Vintage Mistress - 25% off
Trashy Diva - 30% off everything (including sale) with code BLACKOUT30
Dethrose Vintage - 20% off
Tara Starlet - 40% off party dresses with code TGIF, + FREE SHIPPING WORLDWIDE
Lapoubelle Vintage  - 25% off
Simplicity is Bliss  - 25% off

Friday, November 21, 2014

Links to Love

I think you'll want to know this: 
On Monday, I'm going to post a list of post-Thanksgiving sales and deals from vintage or vintage appropriate stores. I sent out feelers to a lot of different places, and I've got some great intel on the best places to shop, including a couple of really exciting exclusive deals. Even if you're not American, it's still a great time to find some truly amazing deals.
I'm going to be updating the list through Friday, so if you'd like to be included, it's not too late! 

You know what I hate? The sun. Well, not the sun per se, but the fact that I don't actually see much of it after late October. No sun means no natural lighting, and no natural lighting means I can't take outfit photos. I suppose I could take them inside, but with our dingy carpet and crappy lighting, I just don't really want to.
So, uh, links! You should love them!
Actually, I do like putting together these posts. I spend a lot of time reading things on the internet - amusing things, odd things, sad things, things that really, really piss me off. Once in a while I'll share an article on Facebook or whatever, but it's nice to just run the gamut with you guys sometimes.
A Rapper Is Facing Life In Prison For His Album Cover
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Chuck D from Public Enemy once said that "rap is like CNN for black people." I honestly can't say if it still occupies the same place in African-American culture that it once did, but I think it's pretty obvious that describing the kind of world that you live in does not prompt people to act out what your describing. They way they're applying the law in this case is wrong-headed, stupid, and racially fraught. If a writer describes a murder, and then someone reads the book and commits a similar crime, is someone going to prosecute the writer for conspiracy? Or is it only black "gangsta" rappers who qualify for this skewed application of the law?
The Indian Sanitary Pad Revolutionary
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Life changing.
Somehow I missed this article when it came out a few months ago, but I stumbled across it on the BBC website recently. I think it's actually pretty amazing what one person can do, even with limited resources, when they really bend their mind to a problem.
It seems crazy to me that for all of human history, half the population has had to deal with menstruation, and yet in some areas of the world, it's still this crippling taboo. Some women use sand and ashes to absorb the blood, which, seriously, is so WTF that I can't even. If they use rags, they might be too embarrassed to actually wash them. All of this, obviously, is terrible for your lady parts, and can lead to infections. The man who invented this machine was shunned by his village and deserted by his mother and the wife that inspired him before he found success. Not only is he helping improve hygiene for Indian women, he's also providing employment for poor, rural women who buy his machines and then sell the pads that they make. I never thought I'd find a dude who makes maxi pads so inspirational.
French man quits ISIS because it was too hard to stop smoking
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American government formulates plan to drop cigarettes over occupied territory, wins war.

The new trailer for Pitch Perfect 2
Seeing this.
Pretty Hurts
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I really love this series on The Cut from New York Magazine. This group of articles explores the relationship women have with beauty, and what goes into fitting into society's ideas about what a woman should look like. My two favorites: Photographer Captures Fat Shaming; New York Women Draw Their Own Boobs
Marijuana, Coke, Nicotine: The Truth About "Natural" Drugs
My biggest takeaway from this - pot is a Schedule I drug, coke is Schedule II. That means coke is considered less dangerous and more legit that marijuana. It is a strange, strange world that we live in.
Belle de Jour
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Ok, maybe sometimes I do want to dress like a French girl.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Fuck Yeah Oatmeal

I freaking love oatmeal. I know that might sound a tad overenthusiastic for boiled wheat groats, but I could (and frequently do) have it for breakfast every day for weeks a time. Steel-cut oats are my weapon of choice, but old-fashioned rolled oats will do in a pinch.
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I think what I like best about oatmeal is the versatility. It doesn't matter if my pantry is all but bare - just about anything goes with it. Peanut butter and banana is what I usually add, but I've also done, among other things, cocoa powder, milk, and a dash of cayenne; sausage and peas; a fried egg, spinach, and Sriracha; and olive oil, salt and pepper, and garlic powder, when there wasn't anything else in the house. And all of them were actually pretty good!
If your idea of oatmeal is the thick, gluey, over-sweetened mixture you've poured out of instant oatmeal packets, give it another try. Like I said, steel-cut oats are what I like to buy (Bob's Red Mill brand, if you have them near you), but old-fashioned rolled oats are great as well.
A single serving of steel cut oats is 1/4 cup, but for measuring purposes I make 1/3 cup, which takes 1 cup of water to cook.
Important first step: toast that shit. It doesn't take very long, and it adds a warm, slightly nutty flavor to your oats that I find makes them ten times better. Just measure out your oats and pour them into a pan. Turn your burner on medium-high heat. Shake the pan regularly, maybe every 10 seconds, to keep them from burning. After 3 or 4 minutes, your oats should be turning a golden brown and start to smell deliciously toasty.
Pour your water over the top - it will immediately come to a rolling boil. Turn your heat way down, just to a simmer. Put a lid on and leave it at a very low boil for 10-20 minutes. I don't even bother to stir it, I just come back in about 15 minutes, when I'm done washing my face and brushing my teeth and all that, and it's done. If you're using rolled oats, it's the exact same process, except that you can turn the heat completely off after bringing the water to a boil. That's probably the route you want to go if you don't like leaving your stove unattended at all, or have a kid or pet that might knock something off of or onto the stove.
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Was looking for pictures of steel cut oats, stumbled across this. Ooooh, baby.

I can't be the only one that gets absurdly jazzed about something this random. I think I mostly just love my starches and carbohydrates. Mashed potatoes? Mouth watering. Mac and cheese? Would happily eat it for lunch every day in the winter. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Classic Movie Catchup: Mulan

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Mulan isn't the kind of movie that I usually talk about in these classic movie posts, but I watched it recently, it's pretty freaking classic, and I want to talk about it. So there.
I'm not the Disney fanatic that some people (particularly in the vintage community, it seems) are. I was much more in tune with Warner Brothers' snark than I was with Disney's earnestness, but Mulan is the kind of movie that's practically designed to break down my defenses. It's probably a good thing I watched it when I was home alone, otherwise I would have felt weird alternately cheering and crying.
You've seen it, right? I'm assuming everyone here has seen it. If not, there'll probably be some spoilers in this post. Maybe go watch it right now if you haven't seen it - it's streaming on Netflix anyway.
It's funny, but the movie seemed much longer when I was younger. There are only a few major events in the movie, but they pack a lot of emotion into not a lot of running time. The songs are maybe not as memorable as, say, The Lion King, but I don't think many movies can compare in that regard. I'll Make a Man Out of You is definitely the standout number - I was singing it in the shower the next day, and am thinking it might make a pretty sweet karaoke jam.
Now, I'll grant that I haven't seen either Brave or Frozen, so maybe Mulan isn't the most feminist Disney animated movie anymore, but it's the most feminist one that I've seen. For starters, Mulan is the driver of the story, not a passive character driven by the actions of others. While, like most Disney princesses, she's motivated by love, it's love of family that pushes her to take up her father's sword, not a romantic involvement.
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I've seen some criticism of the fact that Mulan has to dress up as a man to gain the power to save both her family and her country, but I think they're missing the point. For one thing, they're applying modern standards to a historical character. There are a lot of stories about women dressing as men to go into the military, or to be the son that their mother needs in order to survive in a patriarchal society, or to be able to live their lives on their own terms. I think it says a lot more about the society that they live in, which only respects them if they are male, than it does about the women who subvert the rules to accomplish their goals.
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They also kind of miss the fact that Mulan is actually dressed as a woman at the moment of her triumph. When she defeats Shan Yu, she does it wearing a dress and using only a fan and her innate intelligence.
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Though there is a love story, it's at the very background of the story, and it's really not until that end that it reads as anything other than close camaraderie between soldiers. Part of that may be that Disney wanted to avoid any gay subtext, but I like to think it's because Mulan was far more concerned with not getting found out, and with defeating the threat to her country, than with finding love with Commander Cutie.
I don't think it's just Disney's carefully engineered heartstring tugging machine that made me bawl when Mulan comes home either. Her father practically tossing aside the sword and seal to hug the daughter that he missed - holy fucking catharsis, Batman. I'm tearing up a little bit right now just thinking about it.
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I tried to watch Pocahontas the other night, and I just couldn't make it through. I remember loving that movie when I was young, and I heard someone sing Colors of the Wind not too long ago and realizing was a beautiful song it is, but all I could think about was small pox and genocide. And it weirdly bugged me that John Smith didn't have a British accent. There was no America yet, guys! Why does he sound like he's from Nebraska? Robin Hood (the one where he's a fox) was another favorite that was only ok through the lens of adulthood.
What childhood favorites have your revisited? How did you feel about the experience?

Also, just a little reminder: I will be posting some amazing deals in anticipation of Black Friday this Monday, the 24th. I have exclusive offers from Chronically Vintage and The Best Vintage Clothing, as well as a great list of the offers from some of my favorite vintage and vintage appropriate sellers. If you're a vendor and would like to be added to the list, just let me know.