Saturday, September 8, 2012

Where can I get this breakfast set?

This from my January 1949 Better Homes and Gardens...
I can't figure out what to call this set, but I want one. Desperately. A couple of pieces of toast, a bit of jam, a little juice and my own little coffee pot, all tucked into their places on a plate. If anyone knows what to call this (I tried breakfast set, personal breakfast set, and all combinations of personal coffee pot, toast rack, juice...etc... Nothing like this turns up!), or where I can get one or more, please please please let me know!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Make Do, Mend, and Be Fashionable--April 1952

I have such an obsession with old magazines, I am quickly running out of room to store the ones I have adopted as my own. I've always had this "illness," one that runs in the family. I probably "caught" it when I was a kid and saw my great aunt's stash of 1930s/40s Life magazines. They were so tantalizing, but she wouldn't let me touch them. That's probably what set me off!

Then, when I was in high school, we moved in with my grandmother, who had an entire closet stacked high with 1960s Life magazines. I spent an entire summer reading every single page. Another early addiction came when our little local library was cleaning house and selling off stuff that no one seemed to care about anymore. I snagged, for 10 cents a bundle, an almost complete set of Horizons. I'll post on those some day...they deserve it.

I've discovered a "new" magazine that I'm in love with now. Thanks to Ebay, I now have a nice little pile of Britain's Home Notes. These are tiny little magazines, billed as being "For every woman in the family." Mine are all from the 1950s.

April 1952 brings us "50 Fashion Hints for the Easter Parade." Remember, Britain was still in rationing well into the 1950s, and they were hit much harder than us in the U.S, so the famous make-do-and-mend attitude was a way of life for so many for so long.

So, for spring 1952, here are the 50 fashion hints:

Oooh, and look at those shoes in the ad on the opposite page! Time machine, please!

If you can't make out the text, it reads: "Exclusive! We present six pages of new and exciting ideas from the leading fashion houses that will bring your wardrobe right up to date with very little expense or trouble. With odd lengths of gay material you can give a new lease of life to accessories. With imagination you can make one dress look like seven! And with these fifty clever ideas to guide you, you will look smarter than ever before--with top marks in the Easter Parade. Study them well."

Clockwise from top: "A scrap of bright suede gives a new umbrella; up-to-the-minute square cut for your jacket with boot button decorations. Elmoor 8 pounds (how to do a pound sign in Blogger??) 16 s. 8 d.; Casual but chic. A suit with new wide cuffs and big collar, worn up or down. Windsmoor 9 pounds 18 s.; It's high fashion to wear blouse, gloves and hat trimmings all in the same cherry and white polka dot; Striped ribbon for an umbrella case and matching choker scarf; The new shaped bag in calf grained plastic from  Selfridges 36 s. 6 d."

Left page, clockwise from top: "Seven-way sunbathing dress--it's fun, it's becoming. Here are just three of the ways it can be worn. With full skirt and huge pockets it is made in bright cotton prints. Brilkie model about 66s.; Spectacle case covered with wide end of a tie; The new Garbo way to wear a vagabond hat; Three-piece by Linzi, "Pasadena." Wear with kerchief like Mai Zetterling, or as sun dress, or with bolero for town, right. In genuine tartans, about 7 pounds 12 s."

Right page, clockwise from top: "1/2 a yard of gingham with knitted welts makes a sports blouse; knit your gloves in bright lemon with black forefingers and thumbs; Two-way sun dress in Paisley print. Slimuette, about 68 s.; Sunbathe in a top of candy striped cotton made in half an hour; Match your sweater and beret. Shroud the beret with a gay chiffon scarf; Glamorous waist petticoat in diamond check 13 s. Knickers to match 8 s. 6 d. Proper Pride; Frock in linen weave rayon by Blanes with lovely broderie anglaise trimming 2 pounds 17 s.; Shorten and narrow the legs of last year's slacks and bring them right up to date."

Left page, clockwise from top: "Checked suitlet with deep armholes, patch pockets and boot buttons. Dereta. Jacket about 62 s. Skirt about 50 s.; A blouse with a difference! Detach jabot and wear as in our sketch. In crepe from Peter French, about 28 s.; It's an old jigger coat cut away to give the new "Masher" look; Any little felt hat--it's the yard of gay chiffon, to match your blouse, that gives it life; Grey flannel suit with all-round pleated skirt. Grayson 9 pounds."

Right page, closewise from top: "Either suede or patent accessories can be worn with those smart Norvic shoes 63 s.; net scattered witih single orange blossoms; pique gloves and collar are a good looking pair; three for the price of one! A gaberdine coat with hat, separate cape. Alligator Rainwear 13 pounds 15 s.; A fur spring jacket at a price you can afford, in Tescan Leopard Lamb. 39 pounds 11 s.; Bolero and skirt in gay check. Dereta jacket 3 pounds 2 s.. Skirt 2 pounds 10 s."

Clockwise from top: "Fly-away coat in charming check. Donnybrook, 10 gns; A pretty dog collar worn under a shrit collar is new; Felt leaves sewn onto a ribbon belt; Make this blouse, perfect for square dancing, from our pattern, No. 12625, price 1 s. 9d.; Wear your posy right up under the chin; Make a gay skirt from two yards of striped or checked cotton gathered into a waistband; Wear a chiffon scarf instead of pearls with your evening dress; Sew flowers onto an elastic band for a new hair decoration; useful pinafore dress in check wool. Peter French, about 65 s."

So what can you do this spring to "update" or "back date" your wardrobe. Look to the past for some great--and inexpensive--ideas! I think my favorite one of these ideas is the dog collar. Punk in the 50s? There really is nothing new under the sun!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Make it at home--Frappuccino

I love it so much when I find an old way of doing something that most people think is modern. It always begs the question, Why did we stop doing that? Especially when it's so much cheaper than the "modern" version, and easy to do. What's not to love?

I recently picked up The Lily Wallace New American Cook Book (1945) at a local thrift store for a couple of bucks. It's a well-used book, missing its spine, with pages stained, and even a few recipes scribbled on cards and note paper and tucked inside. My very favorite kind of cook book!

I really enjoy this book, withs its huge number of every-day recipes, an extensive set of menus, of all...a whole pile of beverage recipes! Why do cookbooks rarely include such recipes? I love the surprise of a home-made punch or the like instead of just throwing out a bottle of soda. It's not difficult, and it's such a great touch. And a lot of drinks (alcoholic or not) can serve as a great dessert...for something completely different!

The recipe for "Iced Coffolate" (rhyme with "chocolate") looked intriguing. So I whipped some up (it will be dessert tonight, actually!). Well, I just had to have a taste (or two) to make sure it was OK to offer my family, and wow! It's a clone for a Starbucks Frappuccino "Bottled Coffee Drink"! But...unlike their expensive version (ranging from $1.25 to $2.75 a bottle, depending on where you buy it), you can control the sugar, and even the caffeine, if you use de-caf.

Without further ado, here's the recipe:

The little bit of flour and beaten egg really make this the nice thick and creamy consistency you want in a drink like this. While very rich and delicious, you really could probably cut the sugar back to 1/2 cup and still be great. I went ahead and poured the hot liquid over the egg, tiny bit by tiny bit, to cook it a little. Of course, I do use our own yard eggs, so if the idea of barely cooked egg bothers you, maybe add a bit of corn starch instead.

I have a glass quart milk bottle that this fit just right in (after I had my taste). In the fridge it went and ready to pour over ice tonight with a small dollop of whipped cream. If you're addicted to the store-bought version, imagine whipping up a bottle of this on the weekend and, after a quick shake, having lovely and rather healthier glass-fuls.

Lovely bits of chocolate floating throughout, just a hint of cinnamon and clove, and a creamy coffee-licious goodness. Oooo...with a scoop of vanilla? Now that's a killer idea! 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What to Wear (Spring 1947 Edition)

If you want inspiration, 1947 style, check out these suggestions for the "new spring suits" from March, 1947, Life Magazine:

Click on images to enlarge.

And a couple of ads from the same issue: Women's stocking color in "palamino," and, of course, well-dressed men. Sixty-five years ago really had it going on, didn't it?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Forward Thinking Gum?

This ad says it all. Check it out, and then I'll tell you when it's from:

Fleers Gum is long gone, although I have enjoyed years of chewing on another of their products, Dubble Bubble bubble gum. Apparently, this is the company that started baseball cards and other trading cards. I wish they were still around, because just for running this ad in... March 1946's Radio Mirror magazine, I would buy all of their gum I could chew.

If you can't make out the text, it says: "'Don't let them kid you!' says Ray Milland. You can't tell a good American by the color of his skin, the church he goes to, or the way he spells his name. People from every race and every country have helped to make America great. Let's all remember that, and show the world America means what it says about Democracy!"

The gum may be gone, but the message of the ad is timeless. I wish I knew what was behind this ad in 1946. Is there a story that goes with it? Is this a post-war message (that few heeded...)? Is it something more personal to the company? What does the lovely Mr. Milland have to do with it? Regardless, it's impressive.

Friday, February 17, 2012

February Outfit

Hello all! I'm starting a new feature today! Each month, I'm going to attempt to recreate a vintage outfit I find in a book, magazine, film, or...wherever! (Feel free to send me ideas!)

I'm starting with a picture I found in McCall's magazine, January 1964...because I'm excited for the return of Mad Men in just a matter of weeks! Here is the original:
From McCall's, January 1964, pg. 91. Photographs by William Helburn, pants by White Stag; belt by Elegant.
I love both of these looks, but there more to work with in that second shot! I've always loved browns (in fact, I asked my bridesmaids to wear brown). So, this outfit caught my eye. Also, it's that timeless look that could be from any decade, from the 1920s to now.

Here's what I put together:

Add caption
The photo doesn't show the bottom half of the lovely lady, so I used my imagination. Here we have a 1970s blouse by Koret of California (available here).  The sweater I've used is a really neat 1940s Red Cross pullover (available here ). Using my imagination, I pulled this skirt out of my closet. It's a 1970s pleated skirt by Bodin Knits (but here's a nice one in wool). Last, I've used some of my all-time favorite shoes, my brown suede Hush Puppies (argh... I can't find any just like them... any in your closet??). And the idea how long I've had that. Don't we all have some old standby brown belt that goes with everything?

Here's a closer look at everything:

I used to have these same shoes in black patent...I literally wore the sole plum off of one!
I love the mix of earth tones here, but any mix of colors would be great. And, as I said, there is just something always fashionable about all of these pieces, giving you a nice vintage look that might not even be noticed as vintage!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Celluloid Blossoms

This Valentine's Day, how about a basket of flowers? Celluloid flowers, that is. I picked up this brooch at an estate sale recently, and in researching it, I have been enjoying serious eye candy.

See at Wire 9 Vintage
 Celluloid, like Bakelite and Lucite, is a plastic that can be turned into incredible, jewel-like objets d'art. Unlike the other two well-known and collectible plastics, celluloid has been around for a very long time, first patented around 1870. Its creamy, slightly yellow appearance, its light weight, and its ability to be molded into intricate designs made it a perfect substitute for ivory. It would come to grace many boudoirs in the early 20th century in the form of vanity sets of brushes, mirrors, combs, hair catchers and manicure sets. I'm lucky enough to have my great aunts mirror with her initials (maiden name, of course!) on the back. I use this mirror daily, and this certainly is on my "what if there was a fire" lists of things to grab on the way out the door (after the kids!).

Probably from around 1915, and in use everyday!
 I suspect most of us into vintage *anything* has a similar mirror. If you don't, and you want one, these are quite common, and usually affordable. Of course, condition can be tricky, not only with celluloid, which can be treated shamefully through the decades, but with mirrors that can crack, completely break, or their silver can deteriorate.

Another celluloid treasure I have, also comes from Aunt Floy:

Isn't this a sweet little cameo, probably dirt cheap when it was made! But...check this out. I never thought to look around for information on this little beauty, since it's just been part of my life since I was about 16 or so. But in looking at it again for this post, I did a little search for "celluloid cameo pendant" and found some lovely ones, but none like mine...until this one, which I must say puts mine to shame (ooo...I thought I needed to clean it!), but does tell me, perhaps, that there used to be a fantastic chain with it!

Find this sweetie here: cameo. From about 1920.
Isn't that gorgeous?! But that little flower brooch up there also has another interesting aspect to it: It was made in Occupied Japan, which means it dates to a long time after celluloid actually had gone out of fashion. But a lot of sweet celluloid jewelry and toys was produced in those years, from 1945 to 1952.

This is what it looks like on a vintage-inspired jacket, pink, of course, for Valentine's Day:

Because celluloid is not the sturdiest of materials (but its delicacy is such a big part of its beauty...), extreme care must be taken in cleaning these pieces.While they are probably a lot tougher than they look for everyday handling (I can't tell you how many times I've dropped my precious mirror over the years!), chemically, they can be delicate. It's made of nitrated cellulose pulp (from cotton or even paper by-products) and camphor(from the Cinnomomum Camphora tree, hence that special odor it has, even when warmed up with a little rubbing). Both of these are soluble in a variety of liquids, including alcohol, acetone, naptha, turpentine, and mineral spirits (think nail polish remover and hairspray, among other things!). But it's so beautiful, it's worth a bit of care, I think. For more information about the care of celluloid, and for some serious eye candy, check out Celluloid Collectors Reference and Value Guide, available here. Obviously, the values might be outdated a bit, but there is a ton of great information.

P.S. I apologize for the wonkiness of the blog. I'm undergoing a slow and annoying redesign. I hope to "look right" again very soon!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Good Clean Fun--The Comedy Record

I'm not a prude. I can cuss like a sailor (and am guilty of doing just that at times), and I'm not against R-rated material. That said, I am totally against the inane use of "bad language," sex and nudity to score a cheap laugh or get people to look. Clever is good. And while some cleverness is certainly R-rated, and brilliant for it, so much cleverness just doesn't need that crutch.

This week I found a stack of old comedy albums, and this got me thinking about that genre that is all but dead. See this L.A. Times article on the basic differences between old-school comedy recordings and those that pass for such (mainly at the Grammy Awards) these days. Once upon a time, a comedy album (vinyl, doncha know) could be a remarkable thing that was purchased by the millions and much discussed around record players and water coolers alike.

Classics like The Smothers Brothers early albums, Nichols and May, Lily Tomlin, Monty Python (yep, on vinyl!), Jonathan Winters (really!), Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, Steve Martin, Bill Cosby, and true master comedy album: The Button Down Mind of Bob Newhart (remember that early Mad Men episode where the guys are sitting in the office listening intently to this?), are amazing pieces of comedy history that have mostly stood the test of time. I also found and listened to an Allan  Sherman (My Son, the Folk Singer) album, and laughed--right out loud. Phyllis Diller did albums, and, in fact, any comedian worth his or her salt did albums. And people bought them. Before You Tube and cable television, a good comedy album was something to sit up and pay attention to. Ask Bob Newhart (in fact, you can listen to him discuss it here)...he kicked Elvis right off the top of the charts and stayed there for weeks. Part of what made some of those early comedy albums so successful was the fact that they were both smart and cutting-edge--for all ages. No crutches needed.

If you only know some of these comedians as old guys who are far from cutting edge, check out some of their early stuff. It's truly remarkable stuff that's still funny. And it influenced everything that came after.

Now, this isn't to say there wasn't raunchier stuff (and just as funny...just not kid-friendly!). Red Foxx, anyone? Lenny Bruce? Yep, there's nothing new under the sun. The thing is, though, there's adult-level clever, and then there's juvenile-level stupid. You be the judge.

Oh, and don't think I don't like any modern comedians. But they have to be smart about it (like, say, Eddie Izzard). But I do enjoy being able to laugh with my kids at stuff. That seems to be a rarer and rarer comic commodity. (and don't get me started on all the fart jokes in kid's movies today... argh...)

So why'd we stop appreciating good comedy...comedy so good, we'd buy it on a record and play it over an over? What's your favorite comedy record? (Note: I am talking about records made by comedians, not recordings of old radio shows, or even comedy music, like Weird Al Yankovich, which are other genres...and just as funny!)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Pen Pals

Oh, what a bad blogger am I? What with the holidays and the back to school and the 150 baby chicks (4-H projects!) and numerous other bits of life, I have not been spending much time on the least in productive ways!

I'm all caught up on my blog reading and am ready to get back in the swing of things!

Lately I've been thinking about letter writing. Why'd we stop doing that? I have some letters between my grandmother and her sisters, from the 30s through the 50s or so. I also have a fantastic love letter a beau sent to my great aunt in the teens (I'd love to share it, but I fear I would be haunted!). I love old letters for their high and sometimes low thoughts, for the handwriting and occasional art work, for the record of lives lived. Perhaps the most poignant letter I could imagine, I own. In it, my great aunt tells my grandmother about another of their sisters sons, who had just died at the age of about 10. It is so beautifully sensitive and a priceless family record. I knew two of my grandmother's sisters quite well, and if I could time-travel, I would immediately go back to their young days and get to know them! The oldest was born 1890 (or so...she was vague on that!) and the youngest, my grandmother, was born 1907. In fact, her birthday would be next week, come to think of it! That age span meant they were scattered around for many years, either off at school or work or starting their own families. And letter writing was how they shared their news.

I was also given a gorgeous Parker 21 for Christmas by my sweet husband. That pen writes like a dream and is a pleasure to hold. Problem is, I can't find anything to write! I have done more playful scribbling than actual writing with it, and that makes me sad.

And third, I'm currently reading As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto. Talk about a wonderful document of a friendship, of a cookbook, and of a national personality. I feel like I have two new friends while I'm reading this book, and I'm just itching to join in their years-long conversation. If you come across this book, give it a look.

I want a pen pal like Julia and/or Avis. I have a few e-mail correspondances, but they don't really have the "feel" of becoming letter-writing relationships. There's something...different. But the thing is, there will be no wonderful letters like the ones I have from my relatives, left behind to record my generation. For goodness sake, my husband and I spent much more time on e-mail (in those early e-mail days!) than we did on paper in our courting days. There will be little to nothing for anyone to stumble over one day. I might have to resort to journal writing... ugh. Or maybe I'll have my pen next to the computer as I blog!

Ah well. What about you? Do you write letters?