Browsing Tag

vintage

Retro Stories, The Ladies of Bridge Grove

Vicky’s Hawaiian Shin Dig!

Vicky’s Hawaiian Shindig!

It’s 7:00 a.m. How in the heck did this happen? Vicky jumps from her bed and races into the bathroom. She slaps her Pond’s cream on her face and brushes her teeth with lightning speed, rinses, spits, and dives for the curlers from her vanity cabinet, racing to get each and every strand into a curler. She’s working so fast, she manages to poke her scalp with the curler pins more than usual. Now, her eyes are watering and creating little teary rivers in her thick Pond’s mask. Oh, what a mess.

As she not-so-deftly wraps each curler, she admires her pink floral wallpaper before noticing a wrinkle. Darn, why hadn’t she seen that before? Well, it is in the corner near the ceiling; surely it’s difficult to notice. If she hadn’t seen it ’til now, no one else will notice it. And after all, who would be looking up at that corner when there are pinky fluffy plush mats and toilet seat covers to admire?

Vicky1

“There”, she says to herself. Curlers are set, it’s time to get up and get moving. How did she ever sleep so late? She opens the door to her son’s room, shouting: “Up and at ‘em, little man! Time to start the day.” After many groans and moans, Billy finally sits up and stares at his mother’s face in bewilderment.

“Mommy, why do you have that stuff all over your face? Haha! You look like a marshmallow ghost.” Vicky touches her face and realizes she left her cold cream on. Goodness, this is most certainly not a good start to the day.

An hour later, John finds his wife in the kitchen, bent over the frying pan, mumbling. He laughs to himself and walks over to plant a kiss on her cheek.

“Good morning, dear!” He says. “How are you today?”

“Oh, sweetheart, please don’t forget to get the charcoal from the A&P and wipe down the grill top. Oh, and remember that we need extra ice today,” she breathlessly fires off.

“Dearest, now I wish you wouldn’t get so in a tizzy when we host parties,” John says. “You are a darn good hostess and everything always goes off without a hitch.” He grabs his wife’s hand to kiss it.

“John, sweetheart, everything just must go perfect, that’s all! I just want everything to be nice. Now, sit down and eat your breakfast. I have so much to do!”

A few minutes later, a car honks outside. Vicky grabs Billy’s case and shuffles him outside. Luckily, Billy is best friends with the boy scout troop leader’s son and they are going to Detroit for the weekend to visit the Henry Ford Museum.

Vicky2

Vicky waves goodbye to Billy as the car backs out of the driveway and turns on her pink slippered heels to run back inside the house. Just as she grabs the door handle to close the door, she realizes that she forgot to ask John to hang the special wreathe she made for the party. It’s just so perfect for her Hawaiian theme, an entire wreathe made out of leis that she had specially ordered.

“John…..”

Vicky stands frozen in her hallway looking at her curlers in the hallway mirror, trying to decide if she should dress before or after she makes the iced teas. She quickly decides the iced teas are most important. She is so excited to reveal her new favorite: a pineapple-flavored iced tea.
As Vicky files her pitchers of iced teas in the Frigidaire she decides to do a check of John’s work on the back patio. Oh, and she almost forgets to feed Tweetie. A quick check of Tweetie’s cage as she walks to the back door reveals that the food and water dishes are full. Vicky spends a minute whistling back and forth with Tweetie and then she’s off to the backyard.

Vicky claps her hands and squeals. Everything looks splendid! The tables are all lined with raffia; John did a magnificent job of attaching it perfectly. They look like one big grass skirt.

The bamboo plants she managed to find at the nursery look perfect next to the buffet table. All of the multi-colored garland has been hung and there are plenty of candles. Everything looks so festive! Vicky is truly pleased. She lets out a little sigh of relief and walks over to compliment her husband.

“John, you did a wonderful job! If I didn’t know any better, I would think we are in Hawaii!”

John chuckles and picks up a large brown box. “Dear, I found this in the garage yesterday.”

“Oh, yes, goodness, I almost forgot,” Vicky says. “Those are the leis for all of our guests! I had them special ordered. There are enough for everyone. We must give them to each guest as they arrive. Please don’t forget, darling. You see, this is what they do in Hawaii when guests arrive; I want our guests to feel just like they are in Hawaii.”

Vicky notices the time and realizes that she must continue getting ready. She glances at her sofa as she walks through the living room and pulls off all of the plastic covers. Her pink velveteen sofa just lights up the room. She just adores it. What a wonderful compliment to her pink silk drapes that hang both in her living and dining rooms.

She chooses her brand new Martin Denny Exotica album to put on the record player while she gets herself ready. “The soundtrack is perfect,” she thinks to herself, looking around and admiring her living room. The rose colors just make her feel at ease. She looks at her watch again and rushes to the bedroom to get dressed.

Vicky removes her curlers and brushes her curls out to a nice smooth wave, the larger curls at the bottom, resting right at the lobes of her ears. She pulls out her vanity case and reviews her Avon guideline to makeup one more time: Eye shadow, rouge, brows, and last but not least, lashes and lips. Vicky decides on “A Pretty Pop Of Pink” for her lip color, a new pink that has just come out this year. Mabel swears it is the perfect shade of pink for any daytime or evening occasion. As Vicky mixes her lips together and looks at herself in the mirror, she quite agrees.

And there is her darling floral dress jumper with an accompanying light, dusty pink blouse to wear underneath. Vicky chooses pearls as her accessories and her favorite pair of nude wedge sandals.

She takes one last look around, smooths out the pink silk bedspread and heads for the kitchen; it’s time to lay out the food. Oh, and she must make sure that John is wearing his Hawaiian print shirt that she bought for him.

Vicky3

As she carries out the last of the food, she sees John’s shirt and smiles. It’s time to survey the buffet table: Chips? Check. Pretzels? Check. Ambrosia salad? Check. Pineapple Jell-O mold?Check. Mini franks and pineapple slices in peking sauce? Check. Chicken chop suey? Check. Barbecue Jell-O salad? Check. And John has the beef skewered and ready for the grill.

“There are plenty of refreshments,” Vicky admires. There’s lemonade, iced tea, cola, and orange juice. The ice buckets are full. Just as she thinks to check how much back-up ice is in the freezer, she remembers to turn on the radio for the party.

Then the doorbell rings. Vicky claps her hands with delight; her first guests have arrived! Carla and Bill Benson are the first ones here. She gives each of them a lei, and Carla comments that it’s so festive, she cannot wait to see the spread. Carla has brought an apple pie; her pies are always magnificent. Vicky’s mouth begins to water as she ushers her first guests to the back patio and places the pie on the dessert table.

The doorbell rings again and Vicky whisks back inside. This time it’s Susan & Bob Schaeffer, along with Margaret & John Prescott. She hands out more leis, gets more compliments and more desserts. Susan has brought a fruit salad in a darling bowl that looks just like an orange, and Margaret has brought the ice cream, as promised. Vicky sends everyone to the back patio as she places the ice cream in the freezer.

Next at the door is Mary & Barry Peterson with Stan Mitchell. Mary seems to be giving Vicky an odd look, when Vicky realizes that there is someone walking from Stan’s car with him; it seems he brought a date. Oh, my. As she ponders how this will play out, Gladys and Jack walk up. Gladys has a thermos and a large bowl with her. “I wonder what that is,” Vicky thinks to herself and purses her lips.

The last to arrive are, of course, Nancy & Chip Gold. Nancy, as usual, looks stunning. She is wearing a very expensive-looking gold wiggle dress with gold sandals and an orchid behind her ear. Her blue eye shadow makes her gray eyes just pop. Vicky wonders how old Nancy really is. Her figure would suggest she’s quite young, but Vicky knows she’s older than all the other ladies.

As Vicky returns to the back patio with more ice, she sees all of the ladies standing around, sipping their iced tea. She is pleased, knowing that her new recipe would be a hit. She asks the ladies how they like the iced tea and they all express their delight.

Mary walks over to Nancy to compliment her on that smashing dress she is wearing. Susan dashes over to them and whispers: “Girls, have you actually tasted the tea? It’s absolutely horrible.” Gladys and Nancy laugh. “Goodness, I thought I was the only one. Yuck!”

Vicky4

Just as Susan was thinking how badly she needs a drink, she hears Gladys call out to the ladies.

“Jack and I came across this darling little place last month when we were in Chicago for our anniversary dinner,” she says. “They make this amazing little drink called a Mai Tai,” she tells the crowd.

“We just loved it so much, we asked the bartender for the recipe,” Jack pipes in. “And we have been perfecting it ever since then.”

Everyone laughs.

“So, Vicky and John, we thought it would just perfect for your party since it’s a Hawaiian drink, or so the bartender said,” Jack says.

Vicky smiles and politely thanks Gladys and tells her and Jack how thoughtful that is. John walks over to Gladys and proclaims that he will be the first to try it out. He whispers to Jack: “Thank goodness! Vicky isn’t very good at cocktails; one drink and she’s smashed.” Jack laughs and they both clink their glasses.

“Anyone else?” Gladys asks. And at that everyone rushes over to grab a glass. “The food is impressive,” Gladys thinks to herself as she admires the spread. She will just skip the Ambrosia salad this time.

As everyone is loading their plates, Nancy comes over to Gladys who is standing with Mary Peterson.

“So, who is the young lady whom Stan brought this time?” Nancy asks Mary.

“Her name is Kitty, and Stan actually introduced her to us as ‘My Kitty’ when we were in the driveway, so that’s new.”

“Perhaps she will last more than one date,” Gladys comments, and the ladies chuckle.

Gladys elbows Mary. “Well, the boys sure seem to be impressed with her; just look at our men over there. They have her surrounded!”

A few minutes later, Jack walks towards the group. “Gladys, my darling, may I have this dance?”

“Why of course, sir, I would be delighted,” Gladys responds as she places her cocktail on the table.

Vicky7

With the sounds of Arthur Lyman wafting through the air, it is hard not to feel festive. Gladys wonders as Jack twirls her if this is in fact what Hawaii is like.

Gladys is very happy with her choice of dress for the occasion, a Walk Away Dress with a full skirt and fitted bodice in the most beautiful shade of peacock blue with green lining. She chose to wear her hair down curled under and brushed to the side with a large yellow flower pinned next to her left ear. Her green Shake Charmer wedges just go perfectly with her outfit.

“So, I think I know where I would like to go for our next vacation,” Gladys smiles at Jack.

“Hahah, let me guess,” he laughs. “Could it be Omaha, Nebraska? I hear they have wonderful steaks and very nice Motor Inn’s. In fact, there might be…” Gladys playful slaps him on the arm, “Yes, darling, I think it would be a wonderful vacation and any chance to see you in a swimsuit is alright with me.” The two sway on the patio as the other couples join in to dance.

Vicky stands next to John and breathes a sigh of relief. “Well, my dear, I think you’ve done it,” he says. “I think you have put together the best party of the year,” he exclaims, putting his arm around his wife.

It does seem to go rather well. Everyone fills their plates several times and is laughing and now dancing, although the iced tea pitchers still seem to be rather full. “It does look like things have gone very well,” Vicky thinks.

Vicky7

All of a sudden, Vicky hears someone shouting. The music is turned down and it looks as though Stan Mitchell is standing on a chair. “Oh, dear,” Vicky thinks, “I hope he’s not drunk again.”

“Ladies and Gentlemen, may I have your attention please?” Stan says. “Quiet down now, friends. I have a very important announcement.”

The dancing comes to a halt, and the crowd hushes and faces Stan standing rather unbalanced on the pool chair.

“You’ve all met my Kitty, and well, now you will all have to come to our wedding! I’ve asked her to marry me, and for some reason that I can’t fathom, she’s said yes!”

With that, Stan reaches down and pulls Kitty’s hand up and helps her onto the chair next to his. “Folks, four weeks from now, this lovely lady will be Mrs. Stanley Mitchell!”

Everyone begins to clap and the tiny waif of a gal seems to be ready to burst with happiness. The men walk over and help the two down as everyone else approaches to congratulate the pair.

Vicky admires Kitty’s pink lace Fit & Flare strapless dress with its short round skirt. Her tiny frame seems to swim in it, but her bodice is quite filled in. Her little pink sling backs are the exact shade of her dress and those pink pearl earrings are just gorgeous against her frosty blonde short curls. Gosh, Vicky just loves pink so much.

Margaret leans in and startles Vicky out of her pink daydream. “Did you know about this? Did you know about her? How long have they been dating?”

“Well, I have no idea,” Vicky says. “I thought that was your department. This is the first time I am hearing of any of it.”

The ladies whisper in hushed voices. Carla says that she and Bill bumped into them at the Golden Ranch Steakhouse a few weeks ago and had a brief drink with them, but they thought nothing of it, just another one of Stan’s girls.

“Well, we will have to get down to the bottom of this. Someone will have to do some recon on the matter. Margaret, this is your territory! See what you can come up with.” Nancy firmly states.

“Why is it always me who has to find out…” Margaret stops in mid sentence, noticing all the ladies giving her a certain look.

“Yes, yes, ok, I will find out what I can,” she says, and with that, Margaret walks away from the group to approach Kitty.

Mary Peterson seems to be ready to burst. “Ladies, a wedding! This means we get to shop for a wedding.”

A round of sighs, oohs, and ahs circle the group of ladies. The atmosphere of delight is palpable as visions of dresses and hats dance through their minds.

Vicky6

Finally, the punch bowls are empty, the grill has cooled, and little cocktail umbrellas are strewn about the patio tables.

Carla stays to help Vicky clear up even though Vicky states it isn’t necessary. Carla knows that Vicky doesn’t have a house cleaner like most of the other ladies, though. Vicky can hear John and Bill laughing on the patio through the kitchen window and cigar smoke comes wafting in. Vicky hurriedly shuts the kitchen window so the smoke won’t get into the house. The men are instantly silenced and the sounds of chairs being pushed into tables begin.

Vicky glances over at Carla and they both begin to laugh hysterically as they dry the last of the dishes in their stocking feet.

“Well, seems like we’ve still got it! ‘The moment your husband doesn’t fear you, the marriage is over,’ my mother would always say,” Carla says in between giggles.

Just then John and Bill come in from the back patio. “Ready to go, dearest?” Bill asks his wife.

“Oh yes, just finishing the last dish here,” Carla replies while wiping the tears from laughing off her cheek.

Vicky8

“What is so funny?” John asks.

At that both ladies begin to crack up again. The men look at each other and just shrug their shoulders.

John and Vicky wave to the last of their guests as the car pulls out of the driveway.

“Job well done, dear! It was a smashing party,” he says to his wife.

“Couldn’t have done it without you,” she replies.

“But, oh my, this business about Stan getting married, what do you think? How long has he known her? Has he said anything to you?” Vicky breathlessly fires off.

John puts his arm around his wife and ushers her down the hallway towards their bedroom.

“I will leave all of those details to you ladies. We men, we never know anything,” he says, chuckling. “Time for bed now, dear.”

Vicky lays her head on her husband’s shoulder as they walk down the hallway. Whatever will she wear to the wedding…


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.

plane car

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.

Wallpaper

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.

Unknown

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.

martini cig

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?

s43835g.tif

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.

83516c5ada869639214f19eefc2c3df7

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.

1956

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.

Unknown-1

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


Vintage Collecting

Let’s Do Tea.

I am a tea lover. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I am a tea totaler, because I love booze like Brick Tamland* loves lamp. But I do prefer tea over coffee, and I do drink it every morning like a ritual. And I do love to find an occasion to have tea in the afternoon.

I’m not talking about iced tea here. I am talking about a good, hot cup of English tea, complete with sugar and milk. To me, that’s REAL tea.

We have been cleaning out the basement at our house and finally unpacked a few boxes of items donated by Mark’s grandparents. One of the boxes that we unpacked contained some treasures that Maddy and I had fallen in love with and packed away for ourselves. One of these treasures is a floral tea pot, circa the late 1950’s. It inspired me to rebuild my collection of vintage tea cups that I lost in a house fire many years ago.

IMG_4966

Then it occurred to me: I have never hosted an afternoon tea party! That will be coming up next.

The actual taking of tea in the afternoon developed into a social event sometime in the late 1830’s and early 1840’s. It was Anne, Duchess of Bedford, one of Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting, who is credited for first “inventing” Afternoon Tea, but actually it had been a gradual evolution. The gap between lunch and supper was widening, so Anne started asking for tea and small cakes to be brought to her private quarters. I am sure she quickly realized that a lot of gossip could be shared if she invited other ladies to her quarters to share her cakes.

Queen Victoria herself was encouraged to start hosting her own parties as a way of re-entering society after the passing of her beloved husband, Albert. Legend has it that this was when a cake was named Victoria Sponge and served at her tea parties, which became large affairs. Other women picked up on the idea and it spread like wildfire. Thus, the ritual of afternoon tea began. Women do know how to get things done.

women-together-enjoy-tea

When I moved to London, aside from loving pints and crisps** every day, I was having an amazing cup of tea pretty much anywhere I went. Not only that, but I was offered tea everywhere, all the time, all over the place. It was awesome! I celebrated the British loo*** heavily while peeing my brains out constantly.

Finally, after being there for several weeks, I decided I was going to do Afternoon Tea. And I mean do it right. And I did, a lot! The plan was to drink an entire pot of tea and eat every weird little sandwich and sweet treat offered.

I heard that the Ritz did Afternoon Tea really well and very traditionally. They host tea in the Palm Court, which is just stunning. And, they still have a dress code! Yesssss! My dream had come true! (Think Downton Abbey)

teaoutside

Since I didn’t really know anyone in London yet, I went by myself, which was fine, since I wouldn’t have to share any of my treats with anyone. I decided to go with the Traditional Afternoon Tea. And let me tell you, it’s not cheap. So, this was a rare treat; but it was so worth it!

Traditionally, women wore opera length gloves, long gowns, and hats. Afternoon Tea is a snazzy affair. I skipped the gloves, chose a nice, fancy summer dress and an appropriate hat. This was one occasion where I was not overdressed; perhaps I was even slightly underdressed, which almost never happens to me.
Before my time in England, I had done Afternoon Tea in the States with my grandmother. We would go to the Russian Tea Room in NYC yearly, as a treat. And while I was living in San Francisco, I had Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont. Both were lovely, but none could stand up to my experience in London. It’s possible that just being in London made the difference.

StateLibQld_1_102032_Afternoon_tea_in_the_garden,_Gympie,_ca._1907

Some say that London’s delicious, vintage water makes British Tea very British, sort of like the lovely scent of the Thames wafting through the air like a soft summer breeze. Whatever it was, (not the Thames) the experience was amazing.

In the end, I didn’t eat all of my treats; it was impossible. But I did take a bite out of everything, save the coronation chicken, which I couldn’t eat, because I am a vegetarian and it would have been very improper to barf all over the lovely Palm Court. Go America!

I felt that the traditional tea menu was brilliant, designed to hold you over in between lunch at noon and dinner at eight. The light, tiny sandwiches and sugary treats, along with the caffeine in the tea, definitely perk you up and prepare you for being fabulous for the rest of the day.

So, now to prepare my own Afternoon Tea Party, dreams of clotted cream are dancing in my head. Expect your invitation soon!

xoxo- Sailor

*Brick Tamland is a very intelligent and important Weatherman in San Diego. He is so impressive that he was invited to be part of the cast of the movie Anchorman.
**In England, crisps are potato chips, and chips are french fries; who are you people? Don’t you watch any British TV?
***The loo is the bathroom, silly.


Retro Beauty

What To Wear, Pencil Skirts

Pencil Me In For One Of Those Nifty Skirts

Love ’em or hate ’em, the Pencil Skirt holds a very special place in history. In my opinion, the Pencil Skirt is one of the most flattering skirts for any shape and figure, other than the circle skirt.

As I always talk about in the Retrocentric Pinup Workshops, WWI and WWII had major influences in fashion, including the creation of modern looks and adaptability. Much of that came out of necessity and modernization, due to new areas women were going to before and after the wars, such as the workplace.

In 1940, Christian Dior presented the Pencil Skirt, taken from the original and impractical Hobble Skirt, popular before WWI. The Pencil Skirt was utility based, more practical, and used less fabric due to the shorter hem line and tighter fit, which was important due to rations and shortages.

0114-Anne Francis2

The first Pencil Skirts in the 1940’s were not wiggle skirts, which often get confused with each other. It wasn’t until the late 1950’s that you saw skirts hugging the frame tightly and the hem line rise again. Think of Marilyn Monroe or Jane Mansfield; the types of skirts they wore are more of the wiggle skirt version of a Pencil Skirt.

The popularity of Pencil Skirts lasted into the 1970’s. They would vary from less fitted to wiggle style, depending on what look you were going for. A less fitted Pencil Skirt with a short jacket or blouse was a good office look. A fitted, tight Pencil Skirt with maybe a tight sweater was a little more provocative and may have been worn more in the evening or by the girls who liked fast cars. Woohoo!

Unknown

Either way, Pencil Skirts are a must have for a retro wardrobe. They should always be below the knee and high waisted. This elongates the figure and creates a very attractive, curvy silhouette.

One of my favorite places to grab a nifty Pencil Skirt in a range of styles and sizes from XS to XXXL is Mode Merr. Angela sure does know how to craft that beautiful shape! Check her selection out here: www.modemerr.com

Now, what to wear with your Pencil Skirt? Well, there are just so many options! The first choice for me is a button down sweater, either long or short sleeve, fitted and tucked in.

perfect-black-views

Another option is a blouse, button down or tied, tucked in, or worn over the top of the skirt and belted with a wide belt in a corresponding color.

Now, pair that Pencil Skirt with your favorite pair of back seamed stockings and your favorite pumps, and you are ready for a night on the town!

Wear it well!

xoxo,
Sailor


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

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


Vintage Collecting

My Vintage Wedding

Here are some of my favorite accessories and elements from my vintage inspired beach wedding.
It was so much fun collecting all of these pieces, in the end it was tough to narrow down which items would go with us for this small simple occasion.

We went for a rustic, easy vintage vibe, with small elements of the beach and our combined passions, old cameras and classic books. After much searching, I decided to craft my own bouquet from silk flowers, a collection of antique buttons, broaches and pearls.

Due to recent surgeries I was unable to wear the original wedding dress that I chose. I needed something light, flowing and comfortable as a substitution. A quick search on Modcloth.com revealed the perfect dress, all it needed was my addition of a wide silk ribbon and antique pearl broach for a belt. What a happy find!

Making much of the decor elements provided not only amazing cost saving, but also fantastic memories of the great teamwork between my sweetheart and myself.

(Big Thank You to Noah & Christine of Wavelight Photography for the lovely photos and the great friendship!)

Adina&MarkWEB-006

Adina&MarkWEB-009

Adina&MarkWEB-028

Adina&MarkWEB-047

Adina&MarkWEB-052

Adina&MarkWEB-076

Adina&MarkWEB-083

Adina&MarkWEB-113

Adina&MarkWEB-446

Adina&MarkWEB-500

Adina&MarkWEB-516

Adina&MarkWEB-526

xox Sailor


Cooking Stories

The Sunny Side of the Street

EggsBelong

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, or so we are told. What food items come to your mind when you think of breakfast? Eggs, sunny side up? Bacon? Crepes? Cereal? Bagels? Spam?

We know that lunch and dinner dishes have changed throughout the decades in America, but how much has breakfast changed?

For much of the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s, for city folks in less than comfortable financial circumstances, sweet rolls or a slice of bread with milk or coffee were pretty much breakfast staples.

The middle and upper classes were eating pretty much the same staples as the middle and upper class Edwardians, such as eggs, fish, meats, breads, and hot cereals. Their breakfast was much like what we do for brunch today. Cold breakfast cereals were established in the 1920’s, such as the popular Rice Krispies, which came along in 1929.

In the 1930’s & 40’s, much was the same. Larger breakfasts were more common for farmers and country folk, as they would oftentimes not stop working for lunch and just have a small snack, instead.

A very important invention occurred in the late 1930’s. No, it wasn’t the kitchen microwave or the breakfast fairy. It was the donut machine. Oh, yes! And then by the 1940’s and 50’s, Krispy Kreme and Dunkin’ Donuts had been introduced, so coffee and donuts had officially secured itself as a popular pairing in American history.

original

“Drop” donuts had become very popular in the 1950’s, thanks to Betty Crocker. Since no rolling or cutting were required, this quick and yummy food caught on quickly.

In the 1950’s, the farm industries really started heavy marketing and lobbying. A well balanced wholesome breakfast was now a requirement for every American Housewife to prepare for her families. The model was basically the works: eggs, a breakfast meat, cereal, toast, pancakes, baked apples, or a fruit item.

However, in the 1950’s, the age of experimentation on behalf of food brands did not leave out breakfast meals.

Here are a few, well… interesting, suggestions:

Banana Coconut Rolls, Bacon Strip Pancakes, Breakfast In A Glass:

BreakfastRetro

For the most part, not much has changed in typical American breakfasts since the 1950’s.

I think what we can say has changed are the regional differences, or, the introduction of regional, ethnic food items. For example, in New York City, you may grab a bagel & cream cheese on your way to the subway. In San Diego, perhaps you will have a plate of Huevos Rancheros or a breakfast burrito. In Boston, you will definitely have Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, and you may choose whatever breakfast food you like. But, don’t even think about Starbucks.

In the southern states, you may have a big plate of biscuits and gravy. New Orleans, well, come on, everyone know this one. Of course you will have 1 or 10 beignets. In San Francisco, you might order a breakfast crepe, and if you happen to wake up in Seattle, well, you will have some very, very strong, dark coffee.

Now, in looking through many of my cookbooks and researching commercials and ads, another question has popped up. Do we even have the time to offer big, complete, homemade breakfast meals today? My grandmother said that in the 1950’s and 60’s, she would get up at 5am, get herself dressed, do her hair and makeup, etc, then prepare breakfast and even lunches for everyone. The family sat at the table and ate together. I don’t know how many American families still do this on work/school days. These days, everyone works, schools are much further from home, and time just seems short.

tumblr_lyhsdbeKNw1qhalefo1_500

I know that I don’t have time in the morning to lay out a huge spread, but I do have fantasies of sitting in a sunny breakfast room with a spread laid out in front of Mark and myself, pouring coffee or tea from a fancy pot, reading the paper, and discussing the Opera or something.

Unless I win the lottery (that I don’t play) tomorrow, this vision of breakfast will not be coming to my house anytime soon. I suppose I will just have to stick with: open eyes (check weather channel, check news), brush teeth and hair, put on makeup (check email), get dressed (check email, send some tweets), feed dogs (check Facebook), pack lunch, make tea (check email, check Instagram), cook egg whites, put gluten-free bread in the toaster, pet dogs and promise to come back (check email), feel guilty about sad dog faces, grab coat, grab gloves, turn on NPR for the dogs so they won’t be lonesome, drive away.

Are these big family breakfasts something that Americans still desire? I suppose I see it as a choice: get an extra hour of sleep, or make time for a sit-down breakfast. I think I will take the sleep and let Mark fend for himself.

xox
Sailor


Vintage Collecting

My Vintage Radios

I have fond memories of sitting on the shag carpet next to my grandmother’s Hi Fi stereo cabinet in upstate NY, listening to the Bee Gees’ “How Deep Is Your Love” with the wonderful crackles and hisses of the vinyl spinning ’round and ’round.

There was a painting of an autumn tree-lined road above the Hi Fi that I just thought was a masterpiece, one of the most beautiful scenes ever painted. I was 5, after all.

This scene repeated itself every time I went up there for a visit. The records may have changed through the years, but the stereo was a beacon of excitement among the sea of shag and sometimes childhood boredom on rainy days.

It wasn’t just the music; it was the stereo itself. I just thought it was so amazingly clever that this piece of furniture held the stereo and records; and to close it, you just had to slide the handy dandy cabinet door. Amazing! What a feat!

This fascination with radios and stereos would continue throughout my life. As a matter of fact, I now own a very similar Hi Fi stereo cabinet, thanks to Mark’s grandparents.

In the 80’s, my obsession turned into taking radios apart and putting them back together. My mother had given me an old stereo at some point she thought one of the speakers may had been broken and probably didn’t work anymore. Well, I was so desperate to have more than just my little tape player for my own source of music that I was going to figure out how to fix it, and by golly, I did! I have no idea how, so don’t ask or assume I am some technical wizard.

So, when I was all grown up, perusing through antique shops or garage sales, my eye was always drawn to old radios, especially ones from the 20’s and 30’s. No, wait, especially radios from the 40’s and 50’s. Okay, well, all of them.

I think I am drawn to these old radios because there was so much thought put into the design. They weren’t just additions to other entertainment in the home or portable pieces of equipment that could be easily replaced in a few years. They were the centerpieces of family entertainment until televisions were prevalent in every household, which really wasn’t until the late 50’s/early 60’s. These marvels had to look beautiful, like something that you wanted to be the centerpiece of or at least a stylish addition to the living room.

So, I give you my vintage radios, each one a different and unique personality with a unique back story (that I made up in my head)…

Esther – Circa 1930’s Philco Radio with bakelite knobs

philco

She is from Chicago. She belonged to a very wealthy and fancy family. She sat in the corner of the room with a beautiful Tiffany lamp on top, next to the fireplace. She often played the big hits of the 1930’s during the family’s very fancy cocktail parties. Sadly, the patriarch of the family was arrested for tax evasion and a possible connection to the mob. She ran like hell (Esther has also now survived a fire at my Pinup Studio; we are so glad she is safe)!

Chet – Circa 1958 Orthophonic Hi Fi RCA Victor

recordplayerPhilco

He is from Manhattan. He lived in a swanky, cool pad on the Upper West Side. He belonged to a couple of newlyweds, the husband a writer and the wife an artist. They had many swanky, hip parties in their very Mid Century Modern apartment. Chet’s legs can be removed to be a tabletop stereo for those warmer months when the party can move outdoors onto the balcony. Chet’s owners got divorced in the early 70’s over an argument about the new kitchen color scheme: avocado green or mustard yellow. The ex-wife got Chet in the divorce, and just for spite, she sold him at a garage sale when she got remarried to Bob.

Betty – Circa 1965 Motorola FM Tube Radio

BlueMotorola

She is from Indiana. She sat on the dresser of a suburban housewife’s bedroom just outside of Indianapolis. She would play tunes such as “Downtown” by Petula Clark and “Help Me, Rhonda” by The Beach Boys while styling her hair and applying her makeup at her nearby vanity table. Betty’s owner stayed loyal to her until the early 1980’s when her daughter forced her to move into a condo in a senior community and modernize her decor. Betty was then donated to a church sale.

Peggy – Circa 1957 Princess Pink Airline Clock Radio

airlinepink

She is from Georgia. She lived in the kitchen of a family of four who loved the beach and boating. Peggy wished she could join the family on their regular water skiing outings in their 1955 Chris Craft. Peggy would play upbeat happy tunes for the family during breakfast, soap operas for the lady of the house while cleaning, and songs like “The Twist” by Chubby Checker when the parents were away and the teens were hosting after-school get- togethers. Peggy was replaced by a portable radio and tape player when the parents retired and purchased a houseboat to live on. Peggy hitchhiked north to find new digs.

These are just a few of my precious radios. More can been seen in Retrocentric photos in the vintage kitchen and retro living room!

xox

Sailor


Cocktail Recipes

It’s Tax Season, Hand Me A Drink!

You are either someone who is usually prepared in life or you are a procrastinator. Perhaps you have already filed your taxes and spent your return on an amazing pair of shoes or a snappy new tie.

However, if you own a business or property, had a move or maybe a divorce, or bought or sold a house, you may wait until the very last minute to file your taxes. In either case, my friend, you need a drink to celebrate or cope with the pain.

Well, I have the perfect cocktail for you called The Income Tax Cocktail. True story.

The Income Tax Cocktail is actually the Bronx Cocktail (not to be confused with the Brooklyn Cocktail; we take our burroughs very seriously), with a couple dashes of bitters added.

As we have discussed previously, I like to alter every recipe I come across. So, here is my version of this quick and easy little ditty that is sure to please a crowd, or keep one from jumping out a window when the tax bill arrives.

  • 1 1/2 jiggers of Organic Prairie Gin
  • 1 teaspoon Dry Vermouth
  • 1 teaspoon Sweet Vermouth (I know, crazy right? Trust me…)
  • 1 jigger of Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
  • 1 jigger of Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 2 dashes Orange Bitters
  • Shake with ice in a cocktail shaker and strain into a vintage cocktail glass
  • Many recipes suggest to garnish with an orange wheel. When using my vintage goblets, I prefer rind corkscrews or no garnish at all as they over- take the delicate glass, so I would suggest to garnish based on your glass of choice.

taxcocktail

And voila, there you have it, a refreshing simple-to-make but complex-to-taste vintage cocktail! So, please drink one per day until April 15th. Doctor’s orders!

Enjoy.

xox

Sailor