Monthly Archives

July 2015

Retro Beauty

What To Wear, Red Lipstick

What is the most important accessory for a retro gal?

It’s not her adorable basket purse or her fascinator, nor is it her cat-eye jeweled sunglasses.
It’s her red lipstick!

My grandmother never left the house without her lipstick on. Oftentimes, when we had talked her into going and getting ice cream late at night, she would finally relent and say: “OK, go get ready, and I’ll meet you at the door in five minutes.” We’d race down the hall, throw our clothes and shoes on with lightning speed, and be at the door in four minutes ten seconds flat. She’d arrive a moment later in her bathrobe, zipped up, with slippers on, purse around her shoulder, and lipstick on!!!

We would always laugh and beg her to put clothes on, and she would say: “I’m not getting out of the car! Why should I?” And we would ask, giggling uncontrollably: “Then why do you have lipstick on?” Her answer, well, it was a power answer, putting on a posh tone, was: “Because one never leaves the house without one’s lipstick!”

Hot damn!

It would take me many years to really understand that sentiment and the practice. And it would take me a few more years to experience a similar belief.

Several times during my recent surgeries, I was scheduled for various medical tests and doctor appointments. I felt like crap, I mostly looked like crap, and I probably was crap. However, I would force myself to put on something decent, something that wasn’t pajamas, and if I couldn’t muster a full face of makeup, I would at the very least throw on some mascara, my eyebrows, and, of course, my lipstick. Because then, if I had lipstick on, I was truly put together and I was okay.

1950 lipsticks

And after a little while, I would feel better. I was teaching myself to fight the feeling that there was nothing more that I could do about my physical situation. But, you see, there was.
My lipstick was healing me. Okay, no, I am kidding, but I’m sure that you can see how important lipstick as an accessory can be.

Now, what lipstick shade should you wear, and when?

The answer? Red, red, RED! Always red! You cannot go wrong with red. It literally goes with every skin tone, every eye color, every outfit, and every shade of eye shadow. Sure, the cosmetics industry wants you to believe that you need thirty lipstick shades in your purse for day or night, the office, the club, a day at the beach, lunch, a pap smear, you know? “You cannot wear the same lipstick for every occasion and at all times of the day,” they say. The hell I can’t!

Should you have other shades of lipstick around as an option, of course, sure, that’s fine. Ladies do love to have options. And, oftentimes, I will throw on a dusty pink shade just for the heck of it, or pull out my amazing 1930’s inspired Tango Red Lipstick when I’m feeling a little wild. Rawr!

c1c958e236a84f9b11ec99d7349ee8c0

Usually, though, I stick with my tried and true basic retro red. With its blue/purple undertones, it is a perfect middle-of-the-road deep red that goes great with everything.

So here is the lowdown on my personal favorites. Most important, I believe in cruelty free cosmetics. I think it is unjust and utterly disgusting to harm any living thing for vanity or luxury items. It is hard at times to keep up with the changes that cosmetics and personal care companies make to their formulas, meaning that a new ingredient might not be cruelty free, which in turn means that the product itself is no longer cruelty free. So, it is important to stay up-to-date on all ingredient changes.

besame-lipstick-110_300x750

*Besame – 1946 Red Velvet, my top choice! The packaging, the commitment to quality, the historical accuracy, Besame has it all!

*Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics – Lip Tar, Stalker Red (be sure to use a lip brush)

*Senna – Venetian Red

*Vapour Organic Beauty – Siren Lipstick, Ravish

*Zuzu Luxe – Starlet

*Urban Decay – Revolution Lipstick, Bang

*Gabriel- Sheer Rose

*Too Faced – La Creme, Stiletto Red

So the next time when you’re wondering what to wear? Start with your red lipstick!

Wear it well- xox Sailor


Cooking Stories

Let’s Talk Tuna

What comes to mind when you hear the word “tuna?” Personally, I think it probably depends on your age. If you are in your 20’s, you may think of sushi right away, perhaps a nice piece of Nigiri. If you are in your 30’s and 40’s, chances are you think of tuna salad, either as part of a sandwich or on a bed of lettuce. Most likely, if you are in your 40’s and above, you think of tuna noodle casserole. Oh yes, I said those dirty, dirty words, the sorry bastard of all baked multi ingredient dishes: TUNA CASSEROLE!

MaureenOHaravintagetunafishadsaladfood1940s1950sretrorecipes

My grandmother once said there were only two ways to eat tuna: Tuna salad for lunch or Bridge, and tuna noodle casserole for dinner. And, of course, both types were made from canned tuna. I can hear my grandfather interrupting my thoughts, saying: “No, no, no, tuna steak, you grill up a beautiful piece of tuna steak.” Well, he was a fancy pants — a sports fisherman and world traveler. He actually spent a lot of time in Japan for business, so he preferred a lightly seared tuna steak. At the time, this treatment of tuna was a rarity in America. Tuna, like my grandmother said, belonged in a salad or in a casserole, and canned was just fine. She played a lifetime of bridge; she should know.

The sorry bastard tuna noodle casserole gained its notoriety in the 1950’s, thanks to our BFF, Betty Crocker.

The-Betty-Crocker-Portraits_02

Casseroles in general became a very popular household dish in the 1950’s for a number of reasons. Mainly, the ingredients were cheap and easy to find at the store: a can of tuna, a can of vegetables, a can of soup, and a package of egg noodles. In a quick thirty five minutes, dinner for the entire family was ready. Tuna casserole could also be frozen or refrigerated, then reheated to be eaten as a leftover the next day. Tuna casserole was a very popular dish to take to pot lucks.

While every tuna casserole is different, historically, it is made with egg noodles, chopped onion, shredded cheddar cheese, frozen green peas, canned, drained tuna, condensed cream of mushroom soup, sliced mushrooms, and crushed potato chips. The cooked noodles, onion, cheese, peas, tuna, soup, and mushrooms are mixed in a baking dish with the potato chips and extra cheese sprinkled on top, and then cooked.

While researching the history of tuna noodle casserole, I came across a fantastic article from the LA Times titled “Poor Tuna Casserole Has a Rich History.” In part, it says: “No single dish has done so much to degrade the image of the casserole as the seemingly ubiquitous combination of canned tuna, canned mushroom soup, and smashed potato chips. It’s gotten so that the mere phrase ‘tuna casserole’ has become a kind of punch line.”

Casserole-type dishes show up in cookbooks from the late 1800’s, but it wasn’t until 1949 that marked the beginning of the “Baroque era,” as the Times refers to it, thanks to Good Housekeeping and that bitch, Betty Crocker.

The 1950’s also marked the beginning of ethnic foods entering mainstream America. GI’s returning from tours in Europe and the Pacific had developed new tastes, and food companies were quick to supply the ingredients. “Americanized” versions of sukiyaki, egg foo young, chow mein, enchiladas, pizza, lasagna, and barbecued meats with Polynesian sauces regularly appeared in 1950’s cookbooks.  Believe it or not, the popular casseroles of the 1950’s were considered exotic!

food-chung-king-a-swscan07556

It had been a long time since I made a casserole. I had to dust off my vintage Corelle ware and really ponder the ingredients in basic tuna casserole and tuna salad. How could I update these dishes and still keep them quick and easy?

In my house, we try really hard to keep to a low sodium and sugar-free diet. We also try to stay away from processed foods whenever we are able.

Originally, I crafted a recipe to turn the tuna casserole into a super chic modern dish, and then came back to this piece and decided to stay true to the recipe. I replaced frozen and canned with fresh ingredients, and instead of potato chips, I grilled pita bread and made bread crumbs. I used sodium-free mushroom soup.

SailorsCasserole_web

For the original Betty Crocker Recipe, see below

The flavors do work. It was delicious and took me back to memories of my mother’s attempts at tuna noodle casserole, one of her better trials indeed.

So, I am going to save this bastard from the fires and bring it back to the dining table. Be thoughtful about your ingredients and let’s give some love to good ol’ Tuna Noodle Casserole. Hooray!

xo – Sailor

Original Tuna Noodle Casserole from the 1950’s
1 can (10 1/2 ounces) Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup 
1/2 cup milk 
¼ cup pimento, chopped
1 cup frozen green peas 
1 small onion, chopped
1 can of sliced mushrooms with water

2 cans (about 5 ounces each ) tuna in water, drained 

4 ounces (about 2 cups) medium egg noodles, cooked and drained 

1/3 cup of crushed potato chips 

1 tablespoon butter, melted 

Heat oven to 425°F.
Combine all ingredients, using only 1/2 the cheese.
Pour into buttered 1-1/2 quart baking dish.
Sprinkle with remaining cheese and crushed potato chips.
Bake 20 minutes.
Enjoy!


Retro Beauty

What To Wear, Foundation Garments

A little piece I wrote for Retrocentric…

A few years ago when I was establishing Retrocentric here in Cincinnati, I started the What To Wear Wednesdays blog. It was so much fun to write about the different frocks of each era, to explain foundation garments, and to show off some of the pretty things in the Retrocentric wardrobe stash.

Then it seemed like overnight we were busting at the seams, changing locations with a major renovation, having a fire and moving once again. Somewhere along the way What To Wear Wednesdays took a backseat and sort of fell asleep, Rip Van Winkle style.

Happily WTW is back! Yay.

So let’s circle back to the beginning a bit and discuss foundation garments, crucial to any ensemble.

A foundation garment is what is worn underneath clothing. This typically refers to a girdle, corset, or slip.

Let’s talk girdles. Since the 20th century, the word “girdle” has been used to define an undergarment made of elasticized fabric that was worn by women. It is a form-fitting foundation garment that encircles the lower torso, perhaps extending below the hips, and worn often to shape or for support.

61GumyemyKL._UX385_

I am sure you have seen images from the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s and said to yourself: “How in the heck did she wriggle into that outfit?” That’s a girdle my dear, a wonderful invention!

A girdle is a nice way to smooth out your shape and to enhance your lovely curves, wherever they may be, or wherever you may want them to be.

I think the best girdle, really, is a full open bottom girdle. It replaces the need for a bra and you can clip your stockings right to it, so there’s no need for a garter belt. A full open bottom is perfect for a wiggle dress or one with very thin and sometimes unforgiving material.

rago-rago01-9357-fvz

Now, if you are choosing a pencil skirt with a blouse that is not form fitting, you may want to go with a half open bottom girdle. This way, you can choose your own bra, perhaps in a color better suited for your top while still having the blessing of a girdle for the form fitting skirt. And again, there’s no need for a garter belt as you can just clip your stockings directly to the girdle.

Now, for the gentlemen who enjoy ladies’ clothing, girdles are really an excellent way to create that desired shape. Some choose to wear padded gear to create more curvature in the hips and buttocks, but a girdle for some is just the right measure.

And that brings me to stockings and garter belts. Modern garter belts are really made more for show than for utility, so they are of course prettier. However, they often don’t work well under certain skirts and dresses.
When choosing a garter belt, be sure to think about what you will wear it under. Vintage garter belts are often larger. They are fairly plain and stretch from the natural waist down past the lower pelvis, which gives you a little extra support in the midriff. If your dress or skirt is tight, you don’t want to have bows and such accoutrements, as they will show through the material of your outer garment as bumps and creases. The same goes for very thin material if you choose not to wear a slip over your garter belt and bra, as usually in modern times women often do not.

81T1x5ywJ9L._UY500_

So for your arsenal, you should typically have three types of garter belts: a nude or white belt, a very utility-focused garter belt to provide some support, and one that is a little more decorative, perhaps for evenings out or for a little spice in the bedroom.

And last but certainly not least are stockings! Love them or hate them, every gal usually has very strong opinions about stockings. But if you are going for a true retro look, stockings must be part of the package. In days past, stockings were so important and it was such taboo not to wear them that, during the war when there were silk and nylon shortages, women would paint their legs, use eye liner to draw lines up the back, and use all sorts of other tactics to create the look of stockings.

Seamed stockings are really the best way to go if you are recreating a style in the eras of the 1920’s through the mid to late 50’s. Thankfully, these days, seamed stockings are not as exclusive as they were a few years ago and are much easier to find!

A pale nude stocking with either a nude or a black line is best for daytime or light-colored frocks. A black or darker nude with a black seam is best for evening and dark colored frocks. So, it’s best to have a light and a black option in your dresser drawer.

Always be very careful to prevent snags when putting on your stockings. The best way you can do this is to throw on a pair of gloves (not winter gloves of course, but a dainty vintage pair, like church gloves) when putting on your stockings. And be sure to pull down on the clip so you are sure your garter clip has a good bunch of the stocking to stay secure.

10376836_873975469285188_7572504017038790619_n

Well, that is all for this edition of What To Wear Wednesdays. Until next time, wear it well and be happy!

xox Sailor


Vintage Collecting

Bye Bye TV Life

Almost two years ago we decided to dump cable in our house. I felt that we were watching too much TV and frankly I was sick of paying for shows that I didn’t watch.

We decided we could certainly live with Netflix and our Roku.
A few months later I talked myself into getting an Amazon Prime account, with it came the Amazon Instant Channel.
And there we were, watching the same amount of TV as we had with Cable. What the hell?!

No more excuses, I was done with it and sick of seeing that damn couch every time I walked in the door, the cozy, comfy jerk that called out every time you walked by it; “I’m so squishy and cozy and soft, don’t you want to lay down with me with a blanket and watch a movie?” I was strong enough to resist fifty percent of the time.

Of course my recent surgeries were a terrible excuse as well.
It wasn’t the couches’ fault so much as it was the TV’s. Or maybe they are equally to blame.

So that was it, I stood in the middle of the living room and redesigned it in my mind, without a couch and without a TV.
After sometime searching for the perfect Vintage sitting chairs, Queen Ann style preferably, I stumbled upon two gorgeous green retro inspired chairs from the local giant box furniture store.
They would have to do, easier on my wallet and I was tired of waiting.
So the high back chairs replaced the couch and the mid century modern Hi Fi system replaced the TV.

Retro Inspired Chairs

Now if we want to watch a show or a movie, if we want to lay on the squishy comfy couch, we have to go down to the basement. And that’s where it will stay.

My living room is for conversation, reading, writing and board games.

And bonus, even the dogs agree.

Bye bye couch potato!

xox
Sailor


Vintage Collecting

For The Love of Corningware

Recently I was browsing through my favorite antique hot spot, and as I scanned the aisles looking for a few specific pieces, my eyes stopped on a Corningware dish that had the exact same pattern as one my mother had when I was a child.

Now I have no interest in 1970’s or 80’s nostalgia. Perhaps that will change when I am in my 60’s or 70’s and the timespan between now and then somehow makes those decades more appealing to me. However, I doubt it. I’ve never really been attracted to the aesthetics from back then.

And yet, I grabbed that Corningware dish with “Garden Harvest” print and it now lives in my kitchen cabinet amongst the much earlier 1950’s and 60’s dishes. I guess he is the newbie of the bunch. I imagined the other dishes saying “What are YOU doing here?” and “Tsk. You and your earth tones and veggie print.”

He definitely stands out; that’s for sure. But for some reason I have decided that I like him. I think that’s the first time I have picked up a piece of something from the 1970’s as a collector. I will admit, though, as much as I love him, that he is not my favorite Corningware child.

IMG_4838

I have a weakness for Corningware, as well as Pyrex and Correlle, which fall into the Corningware house. I have a mix of all three. Those of us who are collectors (the nice term for Corning-obsessed people) know which patterns are the most coveted and usually have our favorite color palate, typically associated with what era we prefer. You see, there are entire websites about Pyrex, Corelle, and Corningware, some with heated debates on message boards about the rarest and most worthy.
Obviously, I lean to the 1950’s and early 60’s in the patterns I adore.

IMG_4837

Pyroceram, a white glass-ceramic material that makes up these beauties, was discovered by accident, which just makes them all the more endearing. You almost want to take them, hold them in your arms, and say: “You were a happy accident and we love you.”

My favorite dish patterns are without a doubt the following: Blue & Gold Starburst (still looking), Blue Balloons (saving up for), and pretty much any pink pattern or color. I have collected several pink and am still looking to beef up my collection. As a matter of fact, any of these dishes can be found in the Retrocentric kitchen! So look closely at kitchen images on the website and see if you can pick out any of these dishes. I have included, two, can you spot the Corningware? (Click the photos to enlarge)

Retrocentric Kitchen

Now, it’s not a matter of finding these; it’s a matter of affording them. One cooking dish could go for $80-$100 dollars! If you are lucky, you can find them for around $30. And sometimes you are just lucky and find them in yard sales or thrift stores for a few dollars. One of my friends recently came upon such a discovery.

What exactly fuels the obsession with these creatures? Well, for me I think it’s a combination of them being almost indestructible and flawlessly pretty at the same time. And what could be better to house your delicious casserole dish right from range to table?

IMG_4836

I mean, sure, once you have filled your pretty dish with the 4,500 ingredients it takes to make your casserole, and along with the dish itself, it feels like you are carrying a small elephant. And yes, it’s not as snappy handy-dandy as Tupperware when saving your leftovers, but hey, tinfoil is still a marvel!

There is something about the milky white 500 pound dish with its impressive, dainty designs that just makes your food taste better. So, next time you happen to spot one of these dishes at an affordable price, grab it! Cook in it once and I promise you will adore it; and if you don’t, well, I will gladly take it off your hands.

xox
Sailor