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The Ladies of Bridge Grove

Kitty Hosts The Holidays

It’s 6 a.m. Kitty cannot remember the last time she was up this early, but today her nerves and excitement will not let her sleep. She reaches over and turns on the clock radio.

“Heaven,” Kitty says to herself. She squeals with excitement: “This day could not have a better start, Bing Crosby on the radio singing White Christmas!”

After a minute or two of snuggling Max the cat, Kitty jumps out of bed, grabs her silk chiffon peach-colored robe, and heads into the bathroom.

“Now, what to do first?” Kitty wrings her hands as she looks at herself in the mirror. “There is just so much to do!”

This is the first time that Kitty will be hosting Stan’s friends. At first she was terrified of the ladies. They all seemed too polished and were considerably older. They seemed to know how to do everything: cook, bake, host, decorate, dress. It was very intimidating. And when Stan said he would ask about hosting the annual Christmas party at their house, and he came home and said the group agreed, she was bowled over. The ladies had been so nice to her since she and Stan got engaged, yet still her nerves were already working on her. Luckily, at the last bridge game, the ladies suggested that each would bring a special holiday dish. They said that it is what they had done every year, so Kitty certainly didn’t want to mess with tradition. And boy was she ever grateful, since cooking was not exactly Kitty’s forte. She had been wildly studying the latest cook books, but nothing seemed to stick. But she had a plan, fingers crossed.

She chews her lip with nervousness as she takes inventory of her face. She could hear her mother’s voice in her head: “Kitty, stop chewing your lip!” She groans and heads downstairs.

So, first things first. Since she has a few hours until her appointment at the beauty parlor, Kitty decides to have a cup of coffee and survey the house. She could still detect a hint of fresh paint smell and hopes that no one will notice. She and Stan had only moved into the new house a few weeks ago after they returned from their elopement in Acapulco.

But the wallpaper did look splendid; it was so modern and chic. Thank goodness her mother offered up her interior designer as a wedding gift. He was somewhat famous in Chicago and she thought his work was just the bees knees. The ladies were sure to be impressed.

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The color choices, she was assured, were the absolute latest and most popular: the soft robin’s egg blues with chestnut browns and the gorgeous creams and silvers for the second floor hall and bedrooms. They were just perfect, Kitty thought. And on the first floor, the rich wood paneling, kelly greens, and red carpeting were just so luxurious.

“Okay now, I must remember how to use this new Coffeemate thing,” Kitty says to herself, coming out of her reverie. She was so excited when she received it as a wedding gift from her aunt. Kitty surveys the kitchen and dining area, happy that she had decided to go with copper and yellow as her colors of choice here. Mr. French assured her that copper was going to be the next big trend in color and that Kitty would be the very first in her neighborhood to have it. The copper handles and hinges on her ranch style cabinetry were just divine. Kitty had also decided on a country motif for her kitchen, which she thought was so romantic. After growing up in a penthouse apartment in Chicago her whole life, she thought the country look was just so darling.

The best decision she thought she made as she surveyed her new kitchen were her kitchen counter tops: canary yellow with silver boomerang shapes. “Just splendid,” she thinks. They were the most gorgeous countertops in all of Illinois, surely.

Kitty walks over to the nice bay window with banquet seat in the kitchen which Stan had chosen to add. As Kitty floats down to it and sips her coffee, she looks outside and watches the snowflakes begin to fall, thinking that this addition was just perfect for the house. Now she knows it will be the perfect night: fresh snowfall for her Christmas party, how wonderful.

Oh heavens, look at the time! Kitty rushes off down the hall to the living room to give it a quick survey. The Christmas tree is beautiful and the buffet table is already set up, thanks to Stan. She will have to add more garland to the fireplace mantle and some more candles, but everything looks perfect.

Kitty quickly dresses, feeds the cat, throws on her coat, hat, and gloves, and heads out the door. She mustn’t be late for the beauty parlor! She booked just enough time for her setting, makeup, and nails. Miss Beverly, who owns the premier beauty parlor in Bridge Grove, is very difficult to get an appointment with. Nancy Gold recommended her and said there was just no one else that she would trust her hair to. And by the looks of Nancy, Kitty would trust her with just about any advice on fashion; she was certain that Nancy must have been a model before she married Chip. Kitty was so impressed that she ended up choosing the date of the party only after she confirmed an appointment with Miss Beverly.

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As Kitty backs her cherry red Bel Air out of the driveway, she sees another lot on her street that is beginning construction. There were already six new ranch homes built on Meadow Lane. She is eager to meet new neighbors. So far, most of the neighbors that Kitty had met were mostly single men who were avid golfers and lived in the city during the week. It can be a bit lonely, so she hopes for a young couple or a family to move in and liven up the neighborhood.

Half and hour later, Kitty is sitting in the beauty parlor with her hands dipped in nail solution and Miss Beverly circling to size up her hair.

“So, it’s a Christmas party at your home, you zay?” Miss Beverly asks.

“Yes,” says Kitty.

“And you will be wearing ze emerald green satin cocktail dress, yes?”

Kitty nods, holding her breath.

“Zen ze only thing to do is ze bob and flip. Zis will make you look more mature.”

Kitty exhales, feeling like she just passed a test.

Within seconds, Miss Beverly’s assistants are buzzing around Kitty with curlers, powders, polishes, and creams. A few hours later, Kitty’s look is complete. Miss Beverly spins Kitty’s chair around to face the mirror. She takes one look and squeals with delight! Her hair is a perfect bouffant bob with the bottom edges flipped into a half curl. The height elongates her neck so elegantly. And her makeup is just gorgeous. Miss Beverly chose emerald eye shadow to match Kitty’s dress and a deep red for her lips and nails. “How very festive!” Kitty thinks happily.

The girls carefully wrap Kitty’s hairdo in a scarf, she pays the bill, and is off. After stops at the butcher and flower shop, Kitty arrives back home with a little less than two hours to get everything prepared. Within minutes, Stan arrives home with ice and a few extra bottles of scotch that he thinks might be good to have on hand. The butcher arrives to drop off the liverworst pate, tar-tar, vienna sausages in bbq sauce, and a pimento loaf, and the florist finishes setting up the poinsettias that Kitty had ordered.

Kitty catches Stan staring at the food items the butcher has delivered, looking perplexed.

“Why, Stan, is there something wrong?” she asks him.

“Ah, no, my darling, it’s just that this all looks so, er, so professional?” Stan says with hesitation.

“Goodness, they will know, won’t they? The ladies will take one look at this food and know that I didn’t make it. Oh no, this is going to be a disaster, isn’t it?” Kitty exclaims while wringing her hands.

“Now dear, calm down. The food looks beautiful and you are gorgeous! No one will notice. Everything will be just fine.” Stan kisses Kitty on her forehead and heads over to the bar.

Kitty nervously takes the food from the butcher out of the boxes and adds some finishing touches: Ritz crackers for the pate, melba toast for the tar-tar, and some fresh parsley for the pimento loaf, just like in the cookbooks.

Kitty catches a glimpse of the front yard as she walks into the living room to set out the new boomerang-shaped ashtrays and carton of cigarettes. It sure is snowing out there, looking so beautiful. She stands at the window for a while, smiling as she hears “Suzy Snowflake” by Rosemary Clooney cooing from the hi fi. She giggles a bit and then realizes that she does not have much time left to get dressed. She runs into the bedroom nearly knocking over the poinsettia in the hallway, hearing Stan yell to her from the kitchen: “Slow down dear, there is plenty of time!” She mumbles something back about men having no idea what it takes for a woman to get dressed.

Kitty unwraps her dress, such a beautiful shade of emerald, from the box. She takes out her girdle, stockings, dress, pumps, jewelry, shalamar, and poinsettia broach. “Perfect!” she exclaims as she views herself in the mirror, all put together. “Just perfect!”

As she arrives in the living room, she sees Stan sitting on the couch, reading the paper.

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“Now, let me have a look at my beautiful bride,” he says, ignoring her frantic pleas. “Wow, what a stunner! How did I get so darn lucky?”

He plants a kiss on her cheek, making her giggle.

“Hey, the gals just love ya,” he says. “Everything is going to be great! Look at this beautiful home I had built for ya. There’s nothin’ to worry about, dear, nothin at all.”

He sits back down with his paper and Kitty just laughs. “Men,” she says, shaking her head.

The door bell rings just as Kitty is lighting the last candle. She may have overdone it with the candles as she sees Stan’s reaction as he walks towards the door. Oh well, too late now.

She rushes to his side to greet their first guests, John and Vicky Pool. Stan chuckles when he sees that it’s them who has arrived first.

Vicky is wearing the most interesting pink coat with a pink sable hat, pink gloves, and pink pumps. She arrives with a casserole of franks and beans and a pitcher of her famous iced tea. Now that was one inside joke Kitty does know about. Oh my, her tea is just awful.

Stan gives John and Vicky the grand tour as Kitty lays out the casserole on the buffet table. She can hear John talking to Stan as they approach the living room. “We will have to get you a pool in that backyard this summer there, Stan. And who better to get you a great deal on a pool than the man named Pool?” John laughs and laughs, patting Stan on the back. Kitty chuckles to herself.

As the guests continue arriving, the buffet table fills up fast, the bed is piling high with coats and hats, and the smoke is wafting through the house. Kitty hopes that everyone is enjoying themselves so far.

Gladys, Kitty was told by Stan, is always the life of the party and it seems that she is in fine form tonight. The minute she arrived, everyone gathered around her and Jack as they told the latest story about their recent trip to Florida. She certainly knew how to work a room. Kitty so admired her.

Gladys is wearing a beautiful silver wiggle dress with a short cropped matching jacket. Her red hair is piled high in a beautiful coif, and the contrast of her hair against the silver shimmering material is stunning. Kitty thinks that Gladys looks like a movie star.

Last to arrive is Nancy and Chip. Vicky Pool had forewarned Kitty that Nancy is always fashionably late, so by no means should she pass out any hors d’oeuvres until Nancy and Chip make their entrance.

And what an entrance it is! Nancy has really outdone herself this time. She is a vision in powder blue chiffon with a floor length pleated gown gather at the bodice, with the most beautiful gold rhinestone star-shaped broach. The train elegantly dusts the floor, extending all the way up to the neckline. And her hair, what a piece of artistry, gorgeous curls swept up just like Lucille Ball’s.

Just then Kitty hears Gladys announce that her famous egg nog is ready and asks who wants a glass.

Kitty loves egg nog, and boy is Gladys’ delicious. Stan calls everyone to the bar and raises his glass for a toast. Kitty stands next to him and looks around the room. With the low lights and soft candle glow, the Christmas tree just looks magnificent with all of its colors and tinsel.

“Thank you, dear friends, for joining us tonight,” Stan says as he holds his glass high. “And to my new bride, Kitty, may this be just one of many happy Christmases together. And that means a lot, coming from a Jewish guy!” The crowd roars with laughter. “Cheers, everyone!”

All of the ladies rush over to Kitty to tell her how much they love her dress and hair, and oh that eyeshadow!

Soon after everyone heads to the buffet. What a beautiful feast it is! There’s liver pate, deviled ham, lobster newburg spread, sardine and bacon rolls, pimento pinwheels, mushroom loaf, chicken ala king, and a wonderful array of desserts.

Carla whispers to Gladys to meet her in the kitchen and they both stealthily slip away from the other ladies. Carla opens the napkin in her hand and gestures to Gladys to look at it.

“Is that a wrapper?” asks Gladys.

“Yes, it was under the entire liverworst” Carla says.

“Oh my, poor dear! Vicki found plastic wrap under the tar tar and quickly slipped it out before anyone else noticed, she told me,” says Gladys.

“We have to do something. We can’t let this poor lamb suffer and we certainly don’t need to be ingesting paper and plastic! She’s one of us now doll; we’ve got to help her out,” says Gladys. They nonchalantly head back to the group to mingle.

As the ladies eat and talk, Gladys realizes it is just the girls standing around, so she asks Kitty which dishes from the buffet table are hers. Kitty admits it’s the liverworst from the butcher. After a moment of silence, Gladys glances around the room and finally says: “Say, Kitty, you can’t cook a lick, can you?”

Kitty laughs with relief and says: “No, not a lick.”

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All the ladies laugh and take their turns hugging her. Susan says that she will teach Kitty to bake and the ladies nod in definite agreement. “Susan is the best baker among us, for sure,” says Carla Benson.

“And Carla should be the one to teach you casseroles. I swear every time there is a gathering you have whipped up some new delightful concoction,” says Gladys.

“Oh, and I would be happy to help you as well. Everyone always loves my roast,” claims Mary Peterson.

“My, yes, the best roast in Bridgegrove,” says Nancy. “I’m still trying to perfect the recipe.”

“I would be happy to give you my ambrosia and summer salad recipes, Kitty. Everyone always enjoys those dishes when I bring them to our gatherings,” says Vicky. “Oh, and my iced tea, naturally. I might be persuaded to share that recipe with you.”

The ladies all shoot each other a glance and try not to burst out laughing.

“No, Vicky, we wouldn’t want you to give away your trade secret,” says Nancy, as the ladies nod and sigh in relief.

“Well, there you go, doll,” Gladys remarks to Kitty. “And say, you realize you deprived us ladies of a wedding to dress for, right?”

Everyone chuckles and Kitty blushes. “I’m so sorry, girls. With the differences in Stan and my religions, we just thought it would be much easier for our families. I couldn’t bear either of us having to tell our families we had to convert,” Kitty responds.

“Oh my, I didn’t even think of that,” says Mary. “You are absolutely right, dear. Very smart.”

“Ladies, I have the best idea,” Nancy cries. “Kitty, you must let us throw you a proper wedding shower this spring!”

“Oh yes! What fun! How swell!” All the ladies exclaim to each other.

Kitty beams with joy. “I would love that! Thank you so much!”

“Leave it to us,” Nancy says. “Gladys, we have planning to do,” elbowing Gladys gently. The two exchange an excited look.

“Sorry to interrupt, girls, but may I steal my bride away for a spin across the room?” Stan asks as he reaches out his hand to Kitty.

Kitty smiles from ear to ear as she follows Stan across the room.

Within minutes, everyone is slow dancing to the sounds of Pat Boone. The snow is falling gently on the bushes outside the living room window. Gladys tiptoes around the room in stocking feet, handing out champagne. “Oh, my, I almost forgot the champagne,” Kitty thinks to herself.

Kitty is so happy, she lays her head on Stan’s shoulder and thinks about all of the compliments the ladies gave her on the party and her home decor. She feels such pride. Maybe entertaining isn’t so difficult after all.


Retro Stories, The Ladies of Bridge Grove

Nancy Does Bridge… But Prefers Canasta

It’s 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday and Nancy is enjoying her last cup of coffee while flipping through the latest copy of Redbook. “You Send Me” wafts softly through the kitchen from the turquoise blue Motorola clock radio that is perched atop her dreamy canary yellow Westinghouse refrigerator. Just a few more puffs of her Lucky and another sip of Maxwell House, and Nancy will have to get into action.

Today’s bridge game is sure to be full of excitement. Nancy and the other wives take turns hosting their Wednesday afternoon card games. Today, Susan Schaeffer is hosting. Nancy has not seen her since Gladys’ Cocktail Party last month.

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Margaret Prescott called Nancy Saturday to tell her that she drove by Susan’s house and saw her walking to the mailbox from the car with a bandage across her nose. Margaret could hardly breathe, she said, as she did her best not to run over the Miller’s cat and end up on the sidewalk. This sounds like it’s going to be a very interesting day of bridge. Nancy loves a mystery!

And thank goodness Susan serves cocktails at her house. If this were Vicky Pool’s turn, it would be much less fun, as she never serves alcohol. The ladies have not mustered the courage to find out why, though. The Pool’s don’t seem particularly into the Church. Poor Vicky always seems so excited about her new iced tea discoveries: Sun Tea, Instant Tea, Lemon Tea. How many iced teas can one drink in an afternoon? Nancy even saw Mary Peterson dump her glass into a plant once.

On Monday morning, Nancy awoke with a well thought out plan of attack in respect to the outfit she would wear to this week’s bridge game. After a quick phone call to Rogette’s, Nancy’s mind was at ease; the shop girl, Jacqueline, assured Nancy that she had a wide variety of the latest day dresses in stock.

The ladies typically look to Nancy for style advice since she worked at a fashion magazine as a receptionist before she got married, but little do they know, Nancy really doesn’t know as much about fashion as they think she does. None of them know that she is from a small farm town. But, it was a good way to get into the group when she and Chip first moved to the neighborhood.

One must keep the show going though, so it was a serious job. Nancy had every magazine known to the fashion world delivered to her house regularly. She spent hours combing through the pages, memorizing the names of designers and upcoming looks and trends that these magazines anticipated. Luckily, Chip was willing to give Nancy just about anything to be able to golf every Sunday or go to the club with the fellas. And, Nancy was happy to exchange a new frock or two out monthly.

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Tuesday was a very productive day. Nancy got her nails done, had her hair set at the beauty parlor, and at Rogette’s, Jacqueline was reliable as always, having several perfect dresses set aside. They were just peachy, so much so that Nancy had to have all three of them. She decided to grab an extra bottle of Chip’s favorite gin on the way home, and to prepare his favorite meal, a nice roast, just the way he liked it.

Shoot, it’s 9:00 a.m. already; she must be ready by 11:00. Nancy closes the magazine, puts her coffee cup in the sink, and begins to head down the hall towards the bedroom, carefully making sure to trip over the cat. Those ballet lessons she took in her late teens never really helped her grace as much as she would have hoped. Pat Boone’s “Love Letters in the Sand” is now on the radio; oh, how she adores that song. She must remember to ask Chip for the new Pat Boone record for her birthday next month.

Nancy enters her bedroom and lets out a bright sigh of happiness. She just adores her bedroom; it is by far her most favorite room in the house. The walls were done in a perfect shade of Chantilly Blue, her absolute favorite color.

Yellow and gray lace curtains hang over the large windows with little cream colored pompoms hanging from the hems. She spent months looking for the perfect carpeting for the room when she and Chip moved into the house. In fact, they had to live with the horrid old wood flooring for several months until she found the exact shade she was looking for. It was the most gorgeous color named Imperial Ivory; the name alone just made her squeal with delight. Chip was so handy that he was able to find the same color in paint and have Nancy’s dressing table painted to match.

And the bedding, well, that was also a treasure hunt. Nancy really wanted the bedding to match the walls, so finding the exact style in Chantilly lace was quite a feat. Finally, she had to visit local decorators, an older Italian couple, who were able to have a Chantilly Blue bedding set made as she described. Lots of lace she required and lots of pompoms. And oh, what a spectacular job they did! The bedspread and all of the dressing pillows were all finished in cream lace and pompoms, and the bedspread had a beautiful lace pattern, too.

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Nancy opens her closet doors and realizes that she is going to have to take another set of dresses to the guest room closet. How she is always running out of room, it’s so puzzling.

She takes the three dresses from Rogette’s and lays them on the bed. This is a very difficult choice indeed. All these dresses would be perfect and all of them will work nicely with her bouffant up do. After much internal debate, Nancy chooses a yellow polkadot shirt dress with cap sleeves and scalloped edging. Luckily, she has a pair of cream sling back heels that will match just swell, and the perfect yellow bow to attach to her rather large bouffant.

Just as she sits down at the dressing table to begin making up her face, she hears the clacking of rain on the window. Oh no, Nancy cannot risk having her hairdo ruined! She studies herself in the mirror. There is no way that a hat will fit on the work of art atop her head. She digs into her bottom drawer and chooses a pretty floral scarf with plenty of yellows and golds. This will do; this will do nicely.

Two hours later, Nancy is in the Ford on her way to Susan’s house, only a five minute drive, thankfully, and the rain has subsided. Chip doesn’t think Nancy is a very good driver so he makes sure to keep her in a new car with all the latest safety features. Nancy probably drives a lot better than she lets Chip believe. After all, she did grow up on a farm and had to drive the tractor quite often to help her father out. But, if it means a new car every few years, then Nancy will continue to keep up the ruse.

As she pulls in Susan’s driveway, Nancy sees that all the gals have arrived. She prides herself on being the last one to arrive at all gatherings so her entrance is uninterrupted. She knows she will be showered in comments about her outfit.

Nancy has chosen to bring a bunt cake. She has never been very good at baking. When she and Chip lived in Chicago when they were first married, Nancy would purchase cakes and pies and then warm them up in the oven or cool them in the fridge on her own plates to give the illusion that she baked them. She even took baking classes, but still, no success. Now she has Margarite, her housekeeper, who does all of her baking and no one is the wiser. Everyone particularly loves the lemon bunt cake with powdered cinnamon sugar.

Just as Nancy walks up to the door with her cake tin, she feels a rush of excitement. Will Susan open the door with her bandage still on? Will there be a new nose on her face? She can hardly make it to the door without tripping over the walkway. She takes a moment to breathe, adjust her dress, tighten her gloves, put a smile on, and rings the doorbell.

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And there is Susan, smiling and looking, well, exactly the same: no bandage, no new and improved nose. Come to think of it, Susan’s nose is just darling, actually. Is Nancy just not remembering what it looked like before?

A little puzzled, Nancy walks through the door, gives a quick kiss and hug to Susan, and accepts all of the squealing and admiration for her beautiful dress. Nancy can barely get into the foyer as the girls rush over to admire her hair and her scarf: “Is that Hermes?”

“Why no, of course not, ladies,” she says. “It was a gift from Chip when he traveled to New York.”

She turns to Susan to tell her how lovely she looks in her pink circle skirt and cream cardigan, then shoots a look at Gladys, already mixing up cocktails, who shrugs her shoulders. Could Margaret have been wrong? Is it possible? It seems so unlikely, as Margaret has been the trusted news source of the ladies’ group for the last six years, and she has yet to be wrong.

Nancy notices Gladys’ absolutely darling dress, a mint green gingham printed Sheath with matching green pumps. The way it sets off her hair color is very becoming. Nancy is going to have to keep her eye on Gladys; she has really been close to outdoing her in her wardrobe lately.

After a few minutes of chit chat, everyone follows Susan out to the Florida room. Nancy pulls Margaret back for a moment and asks her if she is absolutely sure that she saw Susan with a bandage on her nose. Margaret emphatically states that she is absolutely sure and that she can even remember the exact time that she drove by. Both ladies admit that they don’t see anything different about Susan’s nose; it looks exactly the same.

“Well, now this is a mystery!” Nancy says to herself. How are the ladies ever going to unravel this one?

Susan has a delightful spread laid out for the ladies: egg and tuna salad sandwiches, bread and butter pickles, and bridge mix. There are several delicious sweets that the ladies have contributed, a gorgeous lime and apple jello mold, Vicky’s rather runny Ambrosia salad, which Nancy makes a mental note to skip, Nancy’s bunt cake, and a chocolate mousse cake, which of course has to be donated by Gladys; she is a terrible chocolate addict.

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As the ladies nibble on their sandwiches and sweets, they talk about the big news that has been occupying everyone’s minds lately: the highway. The state is planning to build one right next to their development in Bridge Grove. Some of the ladies are up in arms about it. Surely driving fifty miles an hour can only attract hoods and criminals. Vicky seems to be beside herself when she hears that there will be a fifty mile an hour speed limit; she can’t imagine why anyone would want to drive that fast. Nancy is no speed racer, but she did ride with Vicky once to a picnic and was sure that Vicky never broke fifteen miles per hour the entire drive! Nancy thinks Vicky is one of those people who was just born a middle aged woman; she can’t imagine her as a young girl.

Nancy manages to lure Mary Peterson into the kitchen as she gathers up a few plates. There, they whisper quickly about Susan’s nose. Does Mary see a difference? Does Nancy think Margaret got it wrong? Could there have been a change that they just don’t seem to notice?

Susan interrupts them as she walks into the kitchen with a stack of lunch plates. Nancy thinks quickly and tells Susan how much they admire her kitchen decor, the tropical wallpaper, and florida oranges motif is just darling. And even her Corelle-ware has little oranges all over it.

“How ever do you find these things, Susan?” Nancy asks.

“Well, as you know,” Susan replies, “Bob travels to Florida regularly for business and we have been vacationing there for years now, even before the children were born. Every time we are there, I grab anything I can find with oranges or with a tropical print. I just adore everything about the tropics.”

“This is true,” Nancy thinks. The entire house looks like one of those themed restaurants that serves Hawaiian style food. And Susan always has a tan, no matter what time of year, she is perfectly brown or brownish orange.

As they walk back into the Florida room, all the ladies are whispering and stop the moment they see Susan. “Rats,” Nancy thinks to herself, “it looks like Susan knows something is going on.” And when Susan asks what everyone was just whispering about, the group looks like deer caught in a headlight. Finally, Gladys bursts out with: “We were all talking about how watery Vicky’s Ambrosia salad is,” and everyone shakes their heads. Vicky frowns and tries to say something, but Nancy catches Gladys kicking Vicky’s foot.

Susan, beginning to grow suspicious, suggests that everyone settle down for bridge. As everyone takes their seats, Gladys whispers to Vicky that she is sorry and of course it isn’t true but she had to say something to break the silence. Vicky grumbles but accepts the explanation.

Nancy lights a cigarette and begins to shuffle and realizes that Susan is at her table. Well, maybe this is a good thing, since all the ladies think she is the best one to figure out the mystery for some reason. So, Nancy decides she will put her detective cap on and try to suss it out.

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After an hour or so of bridge, Nancy catches Carla staring at Susan. Nancy gives Carla a light kick under the table to break her stare. Carla squeals and then laughs when Susan looks at her with confusion.

“Everything okay over there, dear?” Susan asks Carla.

“Why yes, I’m fine, just fine; I seemed to have kicked my own ankle by accident,” giggles Carla.

Nancy is sure Susan suspects something now, so she quickly changes the subject to the new Elvis Presley movie, Jailhouse Rock. Everyone immediately swoons. The two things this group can always agree on are Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra. Vicky Pool, of course, favors the latter. She and her husband, John, don’t care for rock music, but she sure does think Elvis is dreamy.

It’s been three games and Nancy has yet to win a hand or pick up very many tricks. Why can’t these ladies play Canasta like most civilized people? Nancy is going to have to put more time into her bridge learning.

She looks out onto Susan’s backyard, noticing that she does do an awfully good job with her garden. In fact, her roses are stunning. Nancy admires the way the sunlight comes into the Florida room and the way the swirls of cigarette smoke dance around the ladies heads, it’s such a calming sight.

Mary takes another trick. Nancy sips her gimlet and is just reaching into cigarette case when she hears Susan slam her cards onto the table and say to Carla: “What is it?” Why do you keep staring at my face?”

Nancy freezes. Oh no, she knew that Susan suspected something.

Carla is absolutely flustered, beginning to stammer nervously: “Oh, nothing dear. I was just um, just, I was looking, at, well, you see…”

Just then Gladys jumps up and shouts: “Who is up for another drink? Anyone care to join me in another cocktail?” The ladies all immediately jump up and starting chattering about their drinks when Susan stands up and silences the room.

“What is going on?” she asks. “Now someone had better fess up and tell me what in green gables is going on with all of you? Why has everyone been staring at me and whispering?” At this point, she seems to have gone from annoyed to very near to tears.

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Everyone is frozen. No one moves, and no one says anything. Nancy is praying that Gladys will break the silence, but she says nothing. So, finally Nancy decides that honesty, decorum, and grace will surely solve this problem.

Nancy walks over to Susan and grabs her hand. “Now dear, you know that we all just adore you, and it seems that one of us should have just asked you plainly when we arrived. But it seems that you were injured last week, and well, we were all just so concerned and now nothing seems to be amiss. That’s all it was dear, concern for you.”

Everyone lets out a silent sigh and looks to Susan for her reaction. You could power an entire city with the silence in the room.

Susan begins to laugh, hard, then uncontrollably. “Oh, my,” Nancy thinks. “She’s drunk. How many Gimlets has she had?” She looks to Gladys, who seems surprised and shrugs her shoulders. She only made one drink for Susan, she recalls.

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All the ladies are looking around the room at one another in shock.

Finally, Susan gathers herself and turns to the group. “My dear friends, I am so lucky to have your care and concern. You see, my Skip had tryouts for the junior varsity football team, and well, Bob was practicing with him in the yard while I was tending to my roses. Bob called out to me to watch Skip kick the ball and well, he did. He kicked that darn ball real well, right at my face! The doctor thought my nose was broken, but it was just a sprain. There was terrible bruising for several weeks, so I didn’t leave the house the entire time.”

The ladies all begin to look to Margaret.

Susan continues: “I had to leave the house finally last week to pick up Skip from school one afternoon because he was sick.”

Margaret looks over to Carla and shrugs her shoulders. “Well, I never said that she actually had a nose job! I said that I saw her with a bandage on her nose. I can’t help what you all take from that.” She crosses her arms and sits down.

Susan begins to laugh again and then everyone follows. She looks over at Nancy and nods her head. “Well, I see how fast news travels! You all thought I had a nose job? I can’t believe it. Actually, I can’t believe that you all managed to keep quiet for this long. I think I would have burst by now!”

Gladys, in between snorts of laughter, tells Susan that Vicky was on the verge of passing out. At that, everyone cracks up laughing again. Vicky frowns again and pours herself another glass of iced tea, which makes everyone laugh even harder. She looks around at the ladies, completely confused.

That evening, back at home, Nancy lounges on her yellow Danish modern sofa with Chip, relaying all of the events of the day. She stirs the little glass cocktail stick in her box car as she giggles, remembering the look on Carla’s face. Chip states that he just will never understand women. “Why didn’t someone just call Susan up after Margaret saw her and ask if she had a nose job?”

“Oh, Chip, you see this is why you men need us!” Nancy says. “You would completely foul up every social situation with thinking like that.”

Nancy lays her head back on the sofa and lets out a long sigh, turning her attention to the next big event: What will she wear to Vicky’s Barbecue?

xox- Sailor


Cooking Stories

Oh Devil!

The deviled egg, in my opinion, is another one of those bastard dishes that gets a bad rap. The poor guy used to be so attractive, sexy, even. Often he was exotic and ladies just couldn’t live without him. And now, he’s the pot-bellied, balding uncle who drives an old, rusty Corvette, listening to Bobby Darin a little too loud, mostly due to his hearing. Sadly, he is completely unaware that he’s just not cool anymore, yet there is a strange draw that is unexplained. Maybe he really is still cool and we just don’t know it?

Okay, I was about to say that I actually like deviled eggs, but after reading the paragraph above, I’m kind of grossed out by the idea that an old fat uncle is delicious. Ew!

Anyway, back to the egg.

Vintage 1950s Deviled Egg recipe[3]

Have you ever walked through a thrift store, an antique mall, a yard sale? The number of dishes specifically designed for deviled eggs suggests that this was one hell of a popular item.

In fact, so much so, that I recently heard an amazing tale of a church bazaar in the early 1960’s that illustrates the power of the deviled egg. The bazaar was to be well attended, so the church ladies agreed to pull double duty and make double of their dish of choice to bring.

On the day of the bazaar, all of the ladies arrived and rushed down to the basement to set out their dishes. The first couple ladies laughed when each of them uncovered plates of deviled eggs. “Oh my,” one said, “Well, you can’t ever have too many deviled eggs.” Then came a coffee cake, another coffee cake, then three more. The deviled egg ladies whispered to each other how silly it was that there were now five coffee cakes. Who needed five coffee cakes at one church bazaar? Good thing they had made deviled eggs!

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A few minutes later, the rest of the ladies came filing in with their dishes. “What have you brought, dear?” Deviled eggs!

“And how about you honey? Those are awfully large dishes!” Deviled eggs!

Soon enough, the food tables were filled end to end with plates of deviled eggs (and five coffee cakes). Quickly enough, the ladies began defending their eggs: “Well, mine are made with Spam;” “Mine are made with horseradish and dijon mustard;” “Ladies, clearly mine are different, they are made with crab.”

And so, the professing of one’s unique and clearly more exotic and delicious recipes continued until the reverend’s wife came by to referee and asked the ladies to quiet down. She claimed that there was a simple fix to this: they would announce that today the church bazaar would include a deviled egg contest. And in the future, they would constitute a sign-up sheet for baking/cooking for all church functions. Good idea, ladies!

And, well, to this day, the church has an end of summer bazaar and hosts a food contest. But deviled eggs are no longer the main focus. It seems that the damn egg held on until the mid 1990’s, which is a pretty long stretch. The “church ladies” of the deviled egg days had all retired from their cooking posts and it seems that the young folks today just don’t understand a good deviled egg. And I should mention here that these gals referred to the deviled eggs as stuffed eggs, as they didn’t feel it made sense to devour a food named after the devil while in church.

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So, I began to think about my own fascination with the deviled egg. I will eat them when I see them laid out at parties, knowing full well that this is a 50/50 gamble. There have been a few eggs that have put me off the deviled egg game for years, the ones usually containing Miracle Whip. (No, no, we won’t get into that battle right now; I will save that for another time)

A few times, there have been sweet deviled eggs. Nope, can’t do it. Then there have been the deviled eggs that were so spicy, I couldn’t taste anything for the entire night. And a few times I have gotten some fun surprises in the eggs, like cranberries or nuts. WHAT???!!!!

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But, I still walk right over to the damned things and shove one in my mouth. I don’t even smell them first. It’s like they have some strange power over me: “Just eat me! Don’t smell me, don’t inspect me, don’t worry about your food allergies. No, I can’t harm you. I’m a good egg!”

Bologna, I say! Oh, and I have gotten that too, once, inside an egg. Yuck!

The deviled egg has been around for a long time, actually. It first shows up in written text in the 1700’s and is not, obviously, an American born food. Nor is deviling specifically linked to eggs. It refers to a spiced or zesty food. Think of deviled ham. And yep, got that inside a deviled egg once, too!

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A deviled egg, for those who may not know, is a hard-boiled egg, sliced in half. The yolk is removed and put into a bowl, then various things will be added to “devil” it, usually mayonnaise, mustard, and paprika. But some also add sliced olives, ham, and horseradish. The combination is mixed and mushed well, and then either spooned or piped into the half hard-boiled egg-white. These are the basic deviled eggs, but everyone has their own version or family recipe.

The deviled egg, though, saw its absolute heyday in the 1950’s and 1960’s. It was the rock star of hors d’oeuvres! People just could’t get enough of them. Card games, picnics, BBQ’s, appetizers, potlucks, buffets, these guys were everywhere.

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My paternal grandparents had a small cabin on Lake Ontario when I was a child. They would stay for a month, and the entire family would come on the last weekend of our time there for a last hoorah. There were a lot of people, so many that the entire lawn was lined with tents.

On beach days, we would take the boat across the inlet to the beaches, and it took several trips to ferry everyone there. We would stay all day, which meant that my grandparents had already taken several trips to the beach before any of us were really awake to bring beach chairs, folding tables, the grill, and the food.

When we arrived, there would be a huge tent set up and my grandmother would be working away. Whatever you wanted, she had it! You wanted chips? OK, there were the choices. You wanted ice cream? OK, there were the choices. Hot dogs, hamburgers, salad, chicken, cake, pie, whatever you asked for, by God she had it. And always, there were the eggs, a huge plate of deviled eggs. I would sit and stare at them while she was getting whatever treat I had requested, and I would think to myself: “Who wants that weird egg at a beach?” I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. I loved eggs, but this was a weird egg. And sure enough, not even halfway through the afternoon, the plates would be empty or have just one egg left.

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I once asked her who ate the deviled eggs. She looked at me in surprise. “Everyone!” she said. “No one has a picnic without deviled eggs; it’s unheard of,” she told me.

And that was that. I had to accept my fate that the eggs would always be there, everyone ate them, it’s not a picnic without them, so that all equals I was the weird one. Well, dammit, I wasn’t ready to accept that just yet, so one summer, I ate a freaking egg. There was a lot of praying and sniffing before my first bite, but I ate it. And you know what, it wasn’t so bad. Maybe it was actually even good. Yep, I was hooked. The devil had me, and I would forever be weakened by the powers of the deviled egg.

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So, next time you are at a party or a picnic, grab that egg, enjoy and relish it. There is no point in fighting the deviled egg! Just go with it.

xox – Sailor


Retro Stories, The Ladies of Bridge Grove

Gladys Is Having a Cocktail Party and You’re Invited!

It’s 1957 in a suburb outside of Chicago. Gladys Richmond and her husband Jack, who works in aviation in sales, are very proud of their newly built ranch style home. They are a typical middle class American couple, enjoying their postwar modern conveniences and the comfort of being a two car family. Gladys adores her 1955 Chevy Bel Air almost as much as she enjoys juicy gossip.

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Tonight Gladys is throwing a cocktail party. Every detail has been carefully planned. She has been waiting to put on this party for almost five months; she just needed the new carpet to be installed, and then the brand new living room would be ready to show itself to the neighborhood.

It took a lot of convincing and many perfectly crafted gimlets to get Jack to agree to an entire living room redesign. After all, he did get that promotion he had been gunning for last year, and they were still using the furniture Gladys’ parents gave them when they got married in 1950. She squealed with delight when he agreed to the plan: brand new wall-to-wall carpet in the perfect shade of almond, and a delightful wallpaper pattern that is most popular among Hollywood stars. The wallpaper store clerk assured her that the print called “Tropical Paradise” with its gorgeous hues of teal, yellow, and pink, the name alone saying it all, is like having a piece of Maui right in your living room. And of course, she found the new Starlight sectional sofa in canary yellow and dual turquoise sitting chairs. It’s just a dream, this set. It perfectly compliments the new modern cherry wood Hi Fi cabinet and matching coffee table they purchased after the promotion came through. The purchase of a top of the line Hi Fi took a few less gimlets for convincing.

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All of the furnishings have now been placed perfectly, even the gorgeous, new pink ceramic lamps with whip-stitch shades, a gift from Mother that accents the room wonderfully. Gladys was even able to find matching pink ceramic ashtrays with tiny little gold boomerangs inlaid, what a hoot. The last item that she needed was the perfect size starburst gold clock that she had seen in an advert somewhere, which took some searching. But finally, a fellow that Jack works with had a cousin in furnishing and found the largest one she had ever seen. She put it in its place right over the couch. The room was finished with perfection.

It’s now 4:30 p.m. Gladys has just returned from the Beauty Parlor and the groomers. Her apricot locks have been expertly coiffed in a stunning foot high bouffant and her nails freshly polished in the perfect shade of blush. The poodles, Petra and Petey, have been groomed and donned with pink and blue bows, accordingly. Jack should be home within the hour to prepare the bar. She has another cup of coffee from the electric percolator and takes a brief moment to observe the arrangements that she’s been up since 5 a.m. preparing. She spent all weekend planning the buffet and cocktail menu. Last month, when the Benson’s had a cocktail party, Carol laid out a spread of very exotic Asian hors-devours, such as Peking wings, pineapple and ham rings, Spam and cherry tarts. It was very impressive, so Gladys had to be sure to raise the bar.

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She reviews her menu before putting on her face, carefully checking each dish and noting what time she should begin heating each item:

Strawberry Cheese Salad
Bacon Wrapped Mini Franks
Deviled Eggs
Liver Pate
Pickle & Pimento loaf Pinwheels
Bologna Cheese Wedges
Curried Tuna Toasties
Cheez Whiz on Crackers with Pearl Onions
Jello Cherry Cheese Charmer Mold

Finally, Jack walks in the door with several bottles of gin, as requested, along with two cartons of Chesterfields. Gladys tells him that there is a new Hawaiian print tie waiting for him in the bedroom and to please be sure to remember to change into it after he shaves. As always, she hears a “Yes, Dear” and a chuckle as she races down the hallway to put on her face and get dressed. She chooses a brand new Midriff interest dress made of a luxurious peacock blue crepe fabric. Its softly draped bodice is wrapped in a cummerbund-effect of fine pleating; the skirt is a whirl of tiny unpressed pleats. With its scoop neckline, this dress is sure to wow, or at the very least make Mary Patterson from across the street green with envy. At Mary’s last cocktail party, she had the nerve to show off her new red Asian print dress that her husband Barry brought back from a business trip that made her look like a model, or a mistress, even! This time, Gladys would be sure to outshine all her card playing gal pals with this amazing frock.

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This is Gladys’ favorite time, where she gets thirty minutes to herself, a perfect break for pampering and running through final plans in her head while preparing her look for the evening. Taking her seat at her vanity, she spreads out her makeup items. She just had a lengthy discussion with Eva, her Avon Lady, last week about tonight’s event. Gladys wanted to be sure she had the latest in eye shadows and lip shades; pinks and misty blue shades were chosen. Shalimar will be her signature scent for the evening. Jacks knows it’s her favorite and always gets her a bottle for her birthday, which she saves for special occasions. After a few puffs, she wriggles herself into her girdle, stockings, and her new dress. And what dress wouldn’t be complete without a gorgeous pair of strappy, pink, peep toe pumps?

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Gladys emerges from her bedroom forty-five minutes later with her face neatly “on,” her eyes powdered in risky blue with her darkest false lashes draped across her lids, her cheeks perfectly blushed, and her lips decked in Double Dare red. Her dress is tighter than she remembers when she tried it on. Sitting will be challenging, but no matter; she looks ravishing, and, after all, she is the hostess.

Gladys checks with Jack to see that the bar is fully stocked and ready to go. They jointly review the cocktail list:

Vodka Gimlet
Gin Rickie
Old Fashioned
Manhattan
Sidecar
Tom Collins
Gin Martinis

Gladys reminds Jack of the fun little umbrellas that she purchased for the party. She saw them in a McCalls feature and thought they would be a darling addition to tonight’s cocktails. She admires the ice bucket they chose last year when they purchased their bar. She loves the multi colored starbursts and the gold handle, which matches the room perfectly.

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Guests are due to arrive at 6:00 p.m. Surely, Vicky and her husband, John Pool, the car salesman, will be the first to arrive, promptly at 6:02 p.m. Vicky has never understood the practice of the term “fashionably late.” Gladys is fairly certain that the Pools fast all day before a party or card game and are first to arrive so as not to miss the spread.

The food dishes are now heated and the buffet table is stocked. Jack admires the bounty and tells Gladys that she has outdone herself. Just then, at the stroke of 6:03, the door bell rings. Jack and Gladys look at each other and laugh as they simultaneously mouth “The Pools.” As
Gladys goes to the door to greet her guests, Jack starts the music, choosing Martin Denny’s new album Exotic to begin the evening. Gladys thinks one last thought before she opens the door, imagining several types of murder scenes and the possibility of prison if anyone spills anything on her new furniture. She quickly ushers the poodles off the new couch and rounds the corner to the yellow double doors to greet her guests.

food spread

By 8:00 p.m. Gladys’ house is packed. She has clearly impressed the ladies from her bridge group, and she overhears Nancy Gold tell Susan Schaefer that Jack must have gotten a rather large promotion, because the new living room looks like it cost a fortune! And the dress, all of the ladies have been absolutely falling over for it, and even Margaret Prescott asks if Gladys has a new diet plan, and Margaret is rare to hand out the compliments as she was born a size zero!

Phyllis Spencer tells her husband Dick that she wants the exact same carpet when they re-do their family room. Gladys thinks that the shade will be odd with their country style decor, and wonders if perhaps she can talk her into another shade, perhaps a lovely orange, at their next bridge game.

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Stan Mitchell is drunk again and trying to dance with anyone who walks by. The smoke is thick in the air and the only items left on the buffet are a few slices of Jell-o mold and a couple of mini franks. Carol tells Gladys that she certainly succeeded in outdoing her own Asian inspired shin-dig and could she share the recipe for the wonderful strawberry cheese salad, Bill just adored it! She had been seen with several Martinis, but Gladys decides to take the compliment as true statements and not the booze talking.

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It’s a job well done. Gladys gladly accepts another Tom Collins (this might be her fourth, but who’s counting?), kicks off her shoes, and allows Jack to take her for spin around the living room to some Bossa Nova. Gosh, this carpet feels heavenly!

xox- Sailor


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!

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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.

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*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


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.

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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.

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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?

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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


Cooking Stories

I Was Dating The Food And We Were In Love.

Somewhere in my twenties while living in a broom closet in the not-so-nice part of San Francisco with two other girls and barely getting by, I was friends with a gal who had a thing for chefs. She was very attractive and very charming, but just didn’t seem to like a guy for longer than 2-3 weeks. Our group used to put imaginative expiration dates on the foreheads of her suitors. Lucky for me, she always wanted a wing man for the first few dates with these fellas. Usually it was a double date situation, and sometimes, even though I was the third wheel, I tell ya, I didn’t mind a bit, because we ate. And I mean, WE ATE!

Poor me was being dragged to some of the newest and hottest food spots in the city as a third wheel! So, if I didn’t have my own dates, well, that was okay; I was dating the food and we were in love.

One of her suitors, a really excellent guy, took us to what he called “his friend’s joint.” This joint was no joint, and his friend, well, if he isn’t a celebrity chef by now, I’d be surprised. This guy was incredible. He sent out chef plate after chef plate and each one was more impressive than the last. I was young and poor at the time so I ate everything that was put in front of me.

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The dish that stuck with me that night was his rendition of French toast. It was sort of like a cross between French toast and kind of a Tiramisu. Imagine a thick slice of brioche soaked in Amaretto and Cointreau, pan fried and then topped with marscapone, ricotta, lemon juice, and paper thin tangerine slices. It was a knock-your-socks-and-pants off type of dish. Just the socks was not enough; clothes from the whole bottom half of your body, knocked right off!

I did not get the whole recipe. He wouldn’t give away his secrets, but if I guessed an ingredient, he would confirm if I was correct. There were some other spices and elements in the dish that I could not place. It was very complex and my pallet wasn’t educated enough yet. But what I identified I loved and wanted to try to replicate.

Many failed attempts later, I finally got a result that was a great balance of flavors. It was not nearly as good as his, but good enough to call a yummy dish. And thus I opened the door to what would be my wide world of trying to soak everything in booze before I cooked it.

Sometimes this was successful, much by happy accident, and sometimes it went right in the garbage never to be spoken of again.

One day, I woke up craving a Bloody Mary. I didn’t have the money to go out to brunch and sadly did not have all of the ingredients needed to make one at home, so I decided I would settle on a brunch Martini and whip up a grilled cheese.

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As I began prepping my grilled cheese (throwing it in the oven on broil for a few minutes after having cooked it halfway in the pan), all of a sudden a huge splash of vodka soaked my bread, pissing me off. We all know you can’t start a grilled cheese with wet soggy bread. Then I thought: “Wait a minute….What if you can?”

So I decided to try it! Hell, I had an entire loaf of bread and was willing to sacrifice a few shots of vodka. The result was amazing, totally unexpected, and absolutely delicious!

Here is my happy accident:

2 slices of your favorite bread. Make sure it’s a thick bread that can stand up to being soaked
1 shot of a nice quality vodka
1 tbs of real whipped butter (hey, I never said it was a diet dish)
2 slices of a nice meaty ripe tomato
1/2 tsp of horseradish
1 pinch of celery salt
1 pinch of garlic salt
2 slices of your cheese of choice. My favorite cheese with this dish is a nice provolone or muenster
(If you are feeling really fancy, throw in a few sliced olives)

Toast your bread slices to a light to medium darkness.
Soak each slice in a shallow dish of vodka for a few seconds on each side.
Slather each slice with horseradish and butter.
Sprinkle celery & garlic salt on both slices.
Place slices in a hot pan side by side.
Add cheese slice to each piece of bread.
Cover pan with lid on med-high heat for 3-4 minutes until cheese begins to melt.
Remove pan from stove.
Add tomatoes on top of each bread slice.
Place pieces together into a sandwich and place in the oven on bottom rack to broil for 2-3 minutes until top of bread is golden brown. Flip over and repeat.
Remove, let cool so you don’t burn your tongue out of your mouth, and enjoy!

Note:
*You are not allowed to use Velveeta cheese! Somehow I will know, and I will find you and I will make you wear a stupid hat and sit in the corner and then I will take pictures of you and post it on the internet.
*I would stay away from the sharper cheeses due to the vodka; stick with a mild, buttery cheese.

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To get creative with this sandwich, basically think of anything and everything that you could put in a Bloody Mary and add that inside this delicious grilled cheese.

I hope you find it as dreamy as I do.

The moral of the story is: cook with booze. Cook everything with booze! It’s always better.

xox
Sailor


Cooking Stories

My Love Letter To Cheese

Oh cheese, how I adore thee, golden succulent wave of heaven.

Okay, enough of that; I am no poet.

But seriously, cheese is an addiction, I am convinced, at least for myself.  It is absolutely, unequivocally, my vice.

My love affair with cheese is very complex. I happen to be a non meat-eater, but I do eat fish. I will cook and prepare meat dishes for my family and friends as long as they meet certain ethical standards, such as being humanely raised on organic ingredients, and if they’re from local sources, even better. I’m telling you all of this for a reason, so don’t think me now some hippie-fied holier-than-thou, plant-based, pretentious, cuckoo bird. I promise, I’m not. I don’t think I am, am I? No, no, I’m not.

In my late teens and early twenties as I was coming into the sphere of my own set of morals and ethics, I tried to go Vegan. In theory, it seemed so easy: eggs, yeah I can handle that. Milk, never liked it, no problem; I did soy at the time anyway. Hmm, bread, okay that’s a tough one. Pizza crust! Oh, crap. Ice cream, oh my. Cheese… Wait, cheese?! No cheese?! I couldn’t, I just couldn’t!

So my Vegan phase lasted about a month. And what did me in? What was the ultimate temptation? The damn cheese! I remember it like it was yesterday.

Picture this. I am at a friend’s house where everyone is eating pizza, and I am angrily enjoying my salad. Someone brings out the effin’ mozzarella sticks. Oh yeah, that’s right, some jerk had the nerve to order mozzarella sticks! And then some other jerk had the nerve to bite into the gooey, warm, awesome, stringy heaven like it was a flippin’ commercial for mozzarella cheese.

That was it! I just couldn’t take it anymore. I believe I enjoyed about 6 or 7 of that jerk’s mozzarella sticks. Showed them, right?

From them on, I decided that I would do my best when possible to just eat responsibly and try to be conscious of where my food came from.

Cheese – All

Sailor – 0

So began my ultimate love affair with cheese, and I gave in without guilt to this mistress.

I have a very open mind about cheese. I would try just about any, even the stinky stuff. What I couldn’t seem to appreciate was cheese that came from a jar, box, or can. I just couldn’t.

I stumbled into my first foray with this type of cheese at the home of my friend’s grandmother. She was without a doubt stuck in the decade of her young twenties. Imagine Peg Bundy, just a lot older and with enough money to “Peg Bundy” up the entire house, but in early 60’s decor.

She was having a cocktail and cards party that night for her and her new beau’s friends, which was to be a very swanky, stylish affair. We were tasked with removing the plastic from all of the furniture, dusting the jeweled fruit and everything in the “white room” (you know, that room in the house where no one is ever allowed to go in, with powder blue carpet, all white furniture, and gold and white floral wallpaper. Oh yeah, baby!), and helping with the hors-d’oeuvres.

She pulled out a ton of trays for us to layer with doilies and then the food came out. Every single food item came from a jar, a box, or a can, I kid you not.

And then she asked me to take over the cheese and crackers. She handed me a can… A CAN! What? What the hell was this? Cheese in a can? I had never seen or heard of such a thing. I wasn’t sure if I should be excited or terrified (I was a little of both).

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So, there I was spraying this very orange cheese-like stuff onto an entire box of Ritz crackers. The entire time I was trying to decide if I should try one. The smell was very strange, but it was cheese, and I love cheese. It had to be good. It’s cheese, right?!

Nope, it wasn’t good. In fact, it was very, very bad. Very bad.

However, that did not end my cheese addiction. It just made me more careful, and spend more time smelling cheese before tasting it.

Many years later, I found myself in France. I was so excited to really “do” cheese. And I did, I really did. I don’t think I pooped for a month!

The best cheese experience I had was in the south of France. I was staying in a very tiny, remote village in the mountains. The villa we were in did not even have electricity or running water.

One afternoon, we were driving back from the little town and passed a very picturesque farm with a sign near the road that read “Cheese and Honey.” This was less than a year after the whole Foot and Mouth outbreak had ended, so many farms were devastated by the disease and worse, the media mania that had come with it. I was told that usually in these villages’ farms, no one really advertised like that, sticking mainly to the markets.

I begged my friend to drive up to the farmhouse and we did. A very elderly but robust Frenchman met us at the end of the drive with a huge, welcoming smile. My friend told him I was American and a huge cheese lover. The man’s smile really went from ear to ear. He was so excited to have us there.

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I asked him everything I could think of with my friend as translator. Before we followed him to the barn, I asked him to tell us about the treatment of his animals. I was overjoyed when he explained how he felt about his livestock. He told us they were like his children, and the happier and more comfortable they were, the better the cheese was. He explained that his survival was based solely on them, and that in fact, they were the bosses; he worked for them.

I just loved his approach and view, and I found him to be very genuine.

He took us through his cheese barn and explained what was on all of the shelves. There was cow cheese, sheep’s milk, and goat cheeses. He prepared a selection for us to try and brought out a few bottles of wine (of course). And it was probably the best cheese I have ever tasted in my entire life. So fresh, like a fresh I had never experience before. Pure bliss.

We left with an entire box of cheese blocks, and there was another month I didn’t poop.

This experience really solidified my love for cheese and opened up a whole new appreciation for many different types.

It’s amazing when one thinks of cheese as an environment. Do you want to prepare a meal that is grassy with lots of sunshine, warm breezes, and earthiness? Okay, then use this cheese. Do you want to prepare a meal that is very rustic, very rich, with lots of heavy rain, the smell of fresh soil and minerals? Okay, then use that cheese.

I often think back on my friend’s grandmother when I am hunkering down on some amazing cheese. What if I could replace all of her canned and boxed cheese that night with my selection of cheeses? Well, let’s pretend I can, and here is what I would have done:

  • Her Recipe – Pimento cheese spread on Ritz crackers.
  • My Recipe – Riccotta cheese and green olive tapenade on cracked pepper crackers.
  • Her Recipe – Velveeta and salsa on Triscuits.
  • My Recipe – Cotija cheese and mango salsa on baked tortilla triangles.
  • Her Recipe – Spray cheese and Spam on Ritz crackers.
  • My Recipe – Southwest chicken salad and jack cheese on crostini.
  • Her Recipe – Ambrosia salad with cottage cheese on graham crackers.
  • My Recipe – Marscapone, thin-sliced mandarin orange and pineapple, topped with a dollop of Greek yogurt and honey on a graham cracker.

It’s amazing what an experience like spray cheese does to you. I still remember what she served that night!

Now, when serving these yummy treats to your guests at your next soiree, please be sure to incorporate leopard print somewhere in your outfit and do not forget your red lipstick!

xox Sailor