Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Mommy, What's a Catalog?

There is nothing I love more than looking at the latest dresses in a 1950s Lana Lobell catalog. I turn from page to page looking at the latest trends and styles, and think, "Oh, now this would be a lovely dress to wear for that garden party the Johnstons are having.  And look, it's only going to set me back $6.98!"  I quickly get lost in a dream world where my friends and I all wear pearls and gloves, and where my hair and makeup are never out of place.  As I turn the final page I am quickly brought back to reality.  It's 2014, I don't know anyone with the last name Johnston, and if I want to order a dress like this I'll have to track it down on Etsy, pay over $100 + shipping, and loose a few inches to get it zipped.  So why even bother looking?  Because when the catalog is open, I am no longer in my world...I'm lost in retail land.

Catalogs started off as a simple way to let people know what products your company had available.  Montgomery Ward was the first to do this in 1872 with a price sheet that was mailed out.  Then in 1894 Sears changed everything with a 322 page catalog.  The catalog started out as a practical way to show off available products.  Simple drawings were done for some items, and most were just listed.  However, it didn't take long before marketing kicked in and retailers learned that photos could transform their products.  Look at the photo of these lovely ladies.  They all seem to have a story.  They are going to a party, perhaps to dinner with their husband.  Whatever the case, they all look happy and to the viewer it's most likely due to the dress they are wearing. Buy the dress, get the life. 

As a child, and even as a teenager I used to get so excited when a new catalog would arrive in the mail.  I'm pretty sure that there is not one lady my age (pushing 30) who doesn't remember getting excited over the dELiA*s catalog.  I used to dream about being "that girl" and I of course would beg and plead until I could order something to make me feel like the girl in the picture.  And what child did not wait for the JC Penny Christmas catalog.  I know I spent hours circling and marking what toys and dresses were going to be on my list.  And then to be able to look at the bedding and room was a big deal for this kid.  

As I mentioned before I am nearing 30, and as the big day gets closer I find that more and more of what made my childhood special is gone.  Catalogs (along with having to rewind tapes) will be something that my daughter will never quite fully understand.  I can already picture the moment when I start blubbering about how in my day.....and then she'll look at me and say, "Mommy, what's a catalog?"  And I will undoubtedly answer...."Darling, they were a way to whisk you into another world where everyone looked like they were going to a party, and no one had any troubles.  Catalogs allowed you to buy into a lifestyle....not just a dress."  

Monday, July 22, 2013

Bringing Back the Family Dinner

Photo: Vixen Pin Up Photography
Hair: Nikki Moreno-Whipple
MUA: Candy Cunningham
Earlier this year I inherited my grandmother's collection of cookbooks.  This did not include just a couple of standards, but an entire bookcase full of treasures that she had collected since the 1940s. I immediately decided that I had to start at the beginning and cook my way through. One of my favorite cook book series that she had were the Your Neighbor Lady books published by WNAX radio out of Yankton, SD and Sioux City, IA.  It is a personal dream of mine to be the new "Neighbor Lady", and it is the back of my mind to try and revive this symbol of Mid Century life in the Midwest.

The first recipe I'll share with you is taken from Your Neighbor Lady 1947.  It's way too hot for goulash right now, but I am eagerly awaiting fall so that I can put this on the table.  This gem was submitted by Mrs. Rudolph Porath (notice only a man's name...classic mid century format) from Valentine, Nebraska.

1 pound hamburger                                 1 quart water
1 large onion, chopped fine                     2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup diced celery                               1 teaspoon chili powder
2 cups tomatoes                                     1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup spaghetti

Cook spaghetti in salted water quart of water twenty minutes.  Drain off water and add all other ingredients and mix well.  Place in baking dish and bake in moderate oven about forty minutes.  Serves eight to ten.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

2014 Pinup Calendar

Almost 2 years ago I had an idea, and now it is a finished product that is amazing!!  The Sioux Empire Rock-a-Bettys are taking pre-orders for our 2014 Pinup Calendar and when you pre-order by 4/30 you will also get FREE SHIPPING!!!  This calendar is packed full of friends of mine, and all the proceeds will be used to fund scholarships for underrepresented women in South Dakota.  Just follow the link below and order one today!!!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

How to be Proud of Your Pink Kitchen

Photo: Imani Photography
To say that my house is unique is an understatement.  When I get an idea I tend to do it without too much thought or approval.  I've painted my living room turquoise, put a Mondrian mural in my basement, and put black wall paper in a bathroom.  But maybe the boldest move I have made in my home was to paint my kitchen cabinets pink.

I will forever remember the look on the paint desk clerk's face when I presented him with my selection of yellow, turquoise, pink, and black color chips.  His shock was more apparent when I told him I needed a gallon of each.  He asked what type of finish I would like and I replied that whatever he thought was best for a kitchen, oh.... and the pink was for my cabinets.  Now, I'm pretty sure at that moment he saw my wedding ring and immediately felt sorry for my husband.

Photo: Imani Photography
I could not wait to get started and as I painted over the white and replaced the contemporary neutral pulls with retro diner style ones I never once thought, "what will others think?"  I finished just in time to debut my new kitchen at my daughter's 1st Birthday.  Most of my friends are nuts like me, but I suddenly realized that I was going to have to justify my color palette.  W.W.O.T....What will others think?  The question that now seemed to follow me.

Soon after I finished my dream kitchen my dishwasher broke and a repair man had to come, then the sink was clogged and the plumber came, then the cable guy, and so on.  Each time a new handy man entered my home it was the same look at me, and then the same look of empathy for my husband.  I quickly realized that what others thought consisted of me being nuts and my husband being suppressed.

Now, I am fully aware that my tastes are not exactly the norm, and I am not at all surprised by the general shock about some of my decor and fashion choices.  The thing that really does surprise me is how afraid people are of standing out.  We live in a world where housing developments are told to choose earth tones, and there are 50 shades of beige to choose from when you want to redecorate.  Color is simply an accent, and standing out is almost always thought of as scary.  Our society has placed so much value on blending in that we are now offended when someone decides to take a risk with color and/or design.  What would others think?!

As I continue to decorate my house, and now try my hand at retro landscaping I am completely aware that my home is a realtor's nightmare.  But it is my dream.  And for me, it is much more fun to live my dream and be proud of my pink kitchen than to just blend in.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Did You Know....

I am the proud owner of numerous Helpful Hint books from many different time periods.  They always make me smile, and some of them are actually very helpful!!

Here are some helpful hints and facts on how to be a happy homemaker!!

Did You Know....

....a peeled raw potato kept in the refrigerator will absorb all odors.

....when ironing a dress with several rows of ric rac close together if you turn the dress inside out and iron on a bath towel it will look very neat on the right side when finished.

....a small pad dipped in nail polish remover will quickly remove crayon marks on windows or woodwork. make homemade modeling clay use 1 cup flour, 3/4 cup salt, a teaspoon of alum, and about 1/2 cup of water.  Mix this until it is workable.  Different colors may be made by the use of cake coloring, or crepe paper dropped into the water before it is added.

....a nice gift for a music teacher is a white apron embroidered with music symbols.  For mothers a pink crisp apron, beruffled on each pocket, and embroidered with the word Mother and the names of her children.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Bottles, Babies, and Garter Belts

Let's face it.  There is nothing glamorous about being a mother.  I suppose if you have a nanny and scheduled cocktail hour maybe it's possible, but for the rest of us it's a life of runny noses, potty training, and play dates.  When you have a child, suddenly you are no longer labeled as a lady, you are now a mom.  This is something that I have struggled with since giving birth to my daughter 19 months ago.  As a mom you carry a diaper bag instead of a purse, you refrain from any jewelry that can be pulled on, and your morning routine becomes a 5 minute shower and tinted moisturizer.

After I realized that the above was my new normal, I decided to make it my mission to find new ways to stay true to myself and still be a mom.  I may not fit in with the PTA or Mommy and Me groups, but I'm happy!

First things first.  When it comes to your home, remember that you do not have to paint everything pastel and put teddy bears in every room.  Babies are stimulated by bright colors and bold patterns so there is no reason to force butter yellow on them.  My daughter successfully survived a 1950s crib with cowboys and girls on it, and her walls are covered with fine art that is stimulating and fun to look at.  In my opinion you don't create a tranquil environment with paint colors, you do so with your actions and temperament.  Your surroundings are constantly affecting your mood and how you feel about yourself.  If you are in an environment that you are proud of and like, than it's seems only reasonable that you will be more comfortable.  My home decor is not exactly child friendly by definition.  I have glass top tables from the 60s and lamps with the original cords from the 50s.  But I never once changed a thing in my home.  Instead, I have made it child friendly by teaching my daughter how to act around these items.  My home is part of who I am as a person, and I was just not ready to trade in my "danger" items for padded foot stools and puffy couches.

Enough about my home.  One of the hardest things I had to do was trade in my purse collection for a diaper bag.  If I had $250 - $500 to spend on one this would have been much easier.  But I had $100 and found that I was going to have to accept my new accessory and deal with it.  I settled on a somewhat generic bag that was decorated with lime green circles, and it wasn't too bad.  But then I found a bag that made much more sense.  I found the Lux de Ville Atomic Collection.  Not only was this bag my style, but it was under $100 and had plenty of room for everything I needed to carry.  This purchase also made me look at motherhood differently.  I didn't have to buy maternity clothes, diaper bags, and mom jeans.  I could wear wiggle dresses, push up bras, and even garter belts if I wanted.  I was suddenly a mom, but nothing else had changed.

Photo: Roy Varga
Since becoming a mother I have embraced pinup photography, burlesque, and having a glass of wine before bed.  I always knew that I wanted to try pinup modeling, but it wasn't until I had a child that I got the guts to do it.  Suddenly I was living a life where makeup and heels were not part of my daily routine, and pinup gave me a reason to need them again.  It also gave me proof that I still had it.  I may have gained some weight, some stretch marks, and some wrinkles, but I could still get dolled up and feel sexy.  And on the plus side I happily moved up to a DD cup after having a baby!

Whether you are a mother or not, the lesson here is to embrace yourself and do things your own way.  My house is the way I like it, I am raising my daughter according to my own rules, and I'm embracing my interests and my curves.  I may not look like Elizabeth Taylor every day, but I do make time for dancing in my living room and practicing pinup poses in the bathroom mirror.  I take my daughter to swimming lessons in my bombshell swimming suit, and I am proud to wear my red lipstick in family photos.  Now if I could just find a 1959 Chevy wagon!!