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Stylish Living on a Shoestring
Since 2006

M-J's Miscellany

M-J's Default Blog for Elegant Survival: Stylish Living on a Shoestring

M-J de Mesterton

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Rarest Grenfell Ventile

Posted on February 22, 2017 at 7:45 PM

Grenfell Ventile Jacket

Posted on February 22, 2017 at 7:10 PM

Superb Ventile Jacket by Grenfell, Made in England, Highest Quality Vintage Garment in EXCELLENT Condition


Elegant Winter Dressing

Posted on January 4, 2017 at 10:10 AM


Above: M-J de Mesterton in a Tibbett Duffel Coat of Elysian Wool, Insulated Aigle Boots from France; a Mongolian Cashmere Scarf by Johnstons of Elgin, Scotland; a White Fox Hat Made in Helsinki; a Plaid Tweed Skirt, Black Leather Cashmere-Lined Gloves from Italy, and a Walking Stick Made of Scotch Broom

Published at Elegant Survival in 2011: Wear warm clothes when it's cold outside and inside. The days of women showing their bare arms year-round just because an occupant of the White House does it to show off her biceps are coming to a close in about three weeks.  The current president has, since 2009, kept the oval office at a balmy 85° year-round, as though he were in Hawai'i, while instructing the citizenry to "tighten your belts". The rest of us, if we have heat at all, keep our places at 68° or even cooler, thanks to the punitive cost of fuel.


Above: on Christmas Day 2016, I'm wearing a turtleneck under a round-necked dress, nylon stockings, a silk & cashmere pashmina, and faux-fur-lined tall leather boots. Most winter days, I'd be wearing tweed and sweaters.

Elegant Dressing for Autumn: Classic Tweed Travelling Suit

M-J de Mesterton in Aquascutum Tweed Suit, Her Perennial Favourite

Rugged, traditional, and elegant tweed made from Scottish wool is the best material for fall and winter dressing. Easily covered with a trench-coat or embellished with a pashmina or long wool scarves, tweed will keep you warm and dry.Tweed suits, skirts, trousers and jackets are always fashionable.

My husband and I found it odd, if not historically-incorrect, to see the inhabitants of Downton Abbey wearing sleeveless flapper dresses all over the huge, inevitably cold and difficult-to-heat house, at all hours, without wraps or sweaters. Those dresses were made to be worn at nightclubs while dancing the Charleston, where  hyper-activity and body-heat of the crowd made it possible to stay warm while baring arms.


Dining at Downton: thanks to cocktails, aperitifs and wines, scantily-clad ladies there could abide the evening without shivering. Or maybe not; Ralph Lauren designed wardrobes for the series, and may have just assumed that women dressed like flappers in most situations because it was the Roaring Twenties. I doubt that 1920s women were so silly, but there have always been nonsensical followers of fashion, like the ones who are now wearing peep-toed shoes without stockings all winter long in cold climates. My grandmother, who was born in the Victorian Age, told me that to be beautiful, one must suffer--I know that freezing's not what she meant. Even body-heat from large groups at table does not take the chill off England's grand country houses for most months of the year; shoulders are usually covered with something at dinner, such as a little fur garment or shawl that could be removed later in the evening for dancing. And no self-respecting woman would be standing about the house during winter in just a sleeveless gown.

Speaking of winter dressing and silly followers of fashion, here is a post that I made at Elegant Survival News in December, 2011:

Talking Heads Clad Badly and Barely-Shod 

~~Summer Dress and Peep-Toe Shoes in December?!~~Why is the anchorwoman wearing a sleeveless summer dress in cold NYC on December 6th? Are biceps something that female talking heads suddenly find a crying need to bare, even in freezing temperatures? Are they using too much energy, in an effort to keep tropically warm indoors? Is it seasonally appropriate to wear bare-toed shoes on wintry days, as the woman in red is doing, or sandals (the first lady wore sandals at a Kennedy Center gala last weekend) in December? I don’t think so. These women are on a national television show, displaying their irresponsible, energy-inefficient lifestyles before the public, as if to say that a size XXX carbon-footprint is desirable. The rest of us are wearing wool and tweed, living in homes with little-or-no  heat most of the time.
In an Alpine Climate, January: M-J is Dressing in Furry Boots, a Scottish Hand-Made Fair Isle Sweater, and an Austrian Wool Skirt


©M-J de Mesterton 2011-2017

Real vs Fake

Posted on December 23, 2016 at 1:35 PM

Above: Fake sour cream by Lucerne, a brand offered at Safeway that lists ten ingredients including corn starch, is topped by real sour cream from Wal-Mart's Great Value, which has but two components: cultured cream and enzyme. The product from the bottom container ruined my beef stroganoff, until I added some from the top one (a traditional, rich sour cream), which swiftly rectified the situation and saved the dish. Sort of like a bit of real news forwarded by Julian Assange seems to have saved the USA from doom. ©M-Jeanne


When it comes to food, "Real vs Fake" is not subjective. Unfortunately, the same can no longer be said about "news". Real news versus "fake news" now ostensibly constitutes propaganda that the ruling elite want you to believe, in order to counteract truths that have been disclosed about themselves and their dastardly deeds. The irony is that those same parties have been lying to us in earnest for, it turns out, decades--especially the last ten years. The real fake news is that which the major media outlets spew, all of whom have been propping up a globalist fraud for eight years and trying hard to replace him with an evil female clone who would continue the criminality and preserve his destructive legacy. They remind me of a man from Morocco who opened a "French" restaurant near a major university in New Jersey circa 1990. He presented me with a dessert menu and I ordered mousse au chocolat--chocolate mousse. Acting as waiter, the same fellow brought me a piece of white-frosted carrot cake decorated with a charming little orange carrot. I told him it was beautiful, but that I had ordered mousse au chocolat. The faux Frenchman insisted that what he had given me WAS mousse au chocolat. I pointed out the evidence and even showed the fellow that the thing had carrot bits in it. Eventually, I gave up on the endeavor and thereafter referred to the place and others like it as "Poubelle (garbage can) Cuisine". In the same way, I have for more than a decade rejected as trash the news "reported" by outlets such as the New York Times, The Daily News, USA Today, CBS News, CNN and anything with the letters NBC in its name. You must admit that my "fake news" analogy is a lot more palatable than that ignominiously uttered by the current Pope last week.


@M-Jeanne de Mesterton de St. A; December 11th, 2016

Sour Cream: Real vs Fake

Posted on December 11, 2016 at 2:50 PM

M-J's Simple Pain de Mie Recipe

Posted on July 3, 2016 at 10:35 AM
Making two 13" pain de mie loaves takes the same amount of effort and oven-energy as one 13" loaf--and, given the versatility of this delicious bread, you will be glad to have an extra one at hand in the freezer.I have simplified the ingredients and method for making this French bread, which was Julia Child's stand-by loaf making for canapés, breakfast toast, and sandwiches. My version of the classic bread recipe appears below. ~~M-J
  • Two Pain de Mie Loaves
  • 1 1/2 cups of lukewarm milk or buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon of granulated yeast
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup of lukewarm water
  • 7 cups of white flour (unbleached "white" flour is ideal), plus another, separate cup for possible use during kneading process--different conditions may require more flour--so you need to have a total of 8 cups of flour
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 1.5 standard sticks of butter, sliced into about ten or twelve pieces to more easily incorporate it into dough-mixture 

  • YOU WILL NEED TWO 13"-long Pullman pans, also known as a pain de mie pans. These specially-constructed pans with lids are non-stick; they will not need to be greased (click here for my source). 
  • M-J's Notes
  • Pain de Mie simply means, directly translated from the French, "Bread of the Center", because it is not supposed to have a deeply browned exterior or a pronounced crust. In fact, if you see a recipe for pain de mie that instructs you to pull the lid off during baking to 'brown the top", ignore that suggestion. If you prefer a crust, just leave the lid off during baking and you will have what is simply called a sandwich loaf. One of the beauties of an authentic pain de mie is that, when using this bread for canapés or tea sandwiches, there is no dark crust that needs to be removed, which is a tedious and sometimes problematic process. This doesn't mean that the edges cannot be trimmed if you wish. Pain de mie also makes perfect grilled cheese sandwiches, croques monsieurs, and panini.

M-J's Pain de Mie Method

  1. Combine all of the ingredients, beginning with the lukewarm  milk, yeast and sugar, gradually adding flour, salt and butter;  knead this mixture to form a smooth, soft dough. I always use a standing mixer with a dough-hook attached, but it's not necessary. Kneading is good exercise.
  2. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured or greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for at least one hour or until doubled in bulk. In cooler kitchens, this may take an hour and a half.
  3. Punch-down the dough, divide in half, transfer it to a flour-dusted counter, shape it into two 13" rolls, and fit them into the Pullman pans--each of these dough-rolls should leave room in the pan to rise until triple in bulk. Cover the pans with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise to within an inch of the tops of the pans, 45 minutes to 1 hour. (The dough will likely rise a further inch in the oven. Do not worry that it will touch the lid of your Pullman pans, because the heat of baking and the nonstick quality of these vessels will prevent the top crust from sticking, as you will discover when sliding the lids off after baking.) Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  4. Remove the plastic, and place the Pullman pan covers on the pans. Bake the bread for 50 minutes. Remove your pans from the oven, let cool for ten minutes, then slide-off the lids. Turn the two loaves out of their pans onto a rack and allow them to cool completely before slicing or storing. These pain de mie loaves freeze well.
  5. ©M-J de Mesterton

Elegant Dressing for Travel

Posted on June 20, 2016 at 10:50 PM


How to Be the Best-Dressed Woman Anywhere was a Pamphlet Offered by the News, Now Known as the New York Daily News.

The emphasis is on simplicity and modesty of dress with an eye to packing lightly, as well as on respecting local traditions in foreign countries. Bare arms, shorts and short skirts are not welcome in primarily Muslim locations; shoes must not be worn in mosques; large silk scarves can enhance a plain and versatile frock, while allowing one to cover her head in a church or other religious environment. In this pamphlet, there is advice on what to pack that is still timely; wearing gloves and hats is not outdated by rather extremely practical and healthy while on a trip or going out in one's hometown. Click on my images to attain maximum size for ease of reading these fine old pages. ~~M-J

See M-J's Anecdote at the Bottom of these Instructive Images


A personal note on dressing appropriately for particular locales: many years ago as I was driving coast-to-coast, I stopped at an ostrich ranch in Wyoming that offered horseback riding. Because I had packed my English riding clothes and helmet, I wore them. As I walked into their tack shack/watering hole, a little old man looked up at me quizzically and asked, rather shakily, "What ARE you, MA-AM?" Which reminded me of the following scene from Roger Moore's James Bond flick, "Live and Let Die"--watch it till the end, when Sheriff J. W. Pepper looks at Englishman James Bond and asks a similar question in his inimitable style.  Sheriff J.W. Pepper and James Bond

Of course, I explained that I was wearing English riding tack. Mr Little Old Man still looked a bit puzzled, having had no exposure to that sort of thing in the Wild West, but he did stop trembling. Important to wear what is appropriate for the area that you are visiting. I know there will always be boorish, insensitive louts who never consider others, like the time I visited a centuries-old monastery in Cyprus and actually witnessed a shirtless tourist wearing nothing but "Speedo" swim-trunks below his bulging midsection. Come to think of it, that's a situation that also calls to mind "Live and Let Die"! ©M-J de Mesterton, 2016

Bandanas for Summer

Posted on June 19, 2016 at 2:10 AM
Bandanas are very useful items to carry in your purse, folded square and pressed. They can be good for many sorts of emergencies, and even used as napkins at table. In the heat of summer, it is helpful to have a bandana or two in one's glove compartment or pocket for facial blotting. Cotton ones become softer with each washing, and unlike paper products do not leave dust on the skin.
©M-J de Mesterton
Below: My Collection of Cotton Bandanas

Laura Shaffer, Las Vegas' Most Elegant Singer

Posted on May 18, 2016 at 12:55 PM

                  Please Visit the Laura Shaffer Page, Midnight Refrain

Easter Scene by M-J de Mesterton

Posted on March 27, 2016 at 11:50 PM

Wishing You a Blessed Easter, Elegant Survival Readers

Photo Copyright M-J de Mesterton 2012

Elegant Image by M-J de Mesterton

Posted on March 13, 2016 at 11:25 AM

Elegant Still Life Photography by Fine Artist M-J de Mesterton

Elegant Pineapple Cake

Posted on December 28, 2015 at 11:35 AM
White or vanilla cake mix is prepared then poured over butter, brown sugar and pineapple rings in an oval Le Creuset baking-dish, and baked at 350° for forty-five minutes.  After fifteen minutes of cooling, an oval platter is placed on top of the pineapple upside-down cake, then turned over and the cake is elegantly inverted to reveal the delicious topping. The pineapple creates steam that makes the cake rise a little higher than usual, and imparts a lovely texture to this classic American dessert. ©M-J de Mesterton Click Here to Read M-J's Main Website, Elegant Survival

Laundry Symbology

Posted on December 28, 2015 at 11:10 AM


I received a beautiful dressing gown for Christmas. I looked at the laundering label and was a bit puzzled about what some of the symbols there represented. Then I found a good page on laundry, ironing and dry-cleaning symbols:


Be Round or Be Square!

Posted on November 10, 2015 at 7:10 PM
Gone are the sad days when a flat, shrunken,
teardrop behind was de rigueur

Easy, Economical Spuds

Posted on November 8, 2015 at 6:15 PM

Boiling a Whole 10-Pound Bag of Potatoes, Economizing on Energy ©M-J de Mesterton 2015 Boiling a Whole 10-Pound Bag of Potatoes Uses Less Energy than Many Little Batches
©M-J de Mesterton 2015

To boil a whole sack of spuds at once, I added a tablespoon of salt and a quarter-cup of vinegar to the water in this huge stock-pot. The potatoes came out of the sack clean enough to dump directly into the pot. I turned on the gas and waited for them to start boiling, then let them simmer for thirty minutes.  Reserve the Potato-Water to Use as Fertilizer for Your Garden ©M-J de Mesterton Reserve the Potato-Water to Use as Fertilizer for Your Garden
©M-J de Mesterton

When the boiled potatoes were soft enough to eat but still firm enough to slice, I turned off the gas. I then transferred the potato-water to a more manageable pot. Because the large stock-pot filled with potatoes and water was too heavy for me to handle, I used a heat-proof pitcher to ladle it out, and poured the remaining hot water into a bowl in the sink. Later, when this nutrient-rich water is cool, I shall take these vessels of liquid to the garden and water plants  with them.

The potatoes, after having been drained of hot water, sat covered in the stock-pot to cool for a few minutes. To peel them, I simply throw some ice and cold water over the potatoes, let sit for ten minutes, then the jackets will slide off easily, leaving a very attractive spud indeed, ready to be frozen for later use. I developed this method of preparing potatoes for the future when an economy-sized bag of them threatened to sprout. To prevent the spuds from going bad, I boiled and peeled and froze them. They are perfect when turned into gratin Dauphinois, hash-browns and mashed potatoes.

©M-J de Mesterton 2015

Austerity Cookery

These boiled potatoes are ready to be doused with ice-water for easy peeling. When the spud-jackets are removed this way, there is no waste like there is when a peeler is used on raw potatoes. These particular potatoes have such delicate skins that, testing them for softness, I smashed one in a bowl, seasoned it with Himalayan salt and pepper: the little spud, jacket included, was delicious!

Elegant Blanched Potatoes


Pre-Boiled and Peeled Potatoes in the Freezer

Eat Spicy Food, Live Longer

Posted on August 13, 2015 at 4:50 PM

Divinity in the Details

Posted on July 2, 2015 at 5:40 PM

"To be really great in little things, to be truly noble and heroic in the insipid details of everyday life, is a virtue so rare as to be worthy of canonization."

Harriet Beecher Stowe


Caring for Clothing

Posted on June 12, 2015 at 11:55 AM

Elegant Clothing Can Last for Decades If You Care for It Properly