Friday, January 30, 2015

Coal House & Coal House at War

This Welsh series  is absolutely brilliant.  It sets up several families in a community of coal miners and their families.  Series 1 is set in 1927 and the second is set in 1944.  My favorite historical reality series of all time is 1940s House and these two series, especially the second, is all that and a whole bunch more!  Set up as a community, you get to explore more issues, like neighbors helping, taking in children who were evacuated from the cities during the Blitz, and working in the mines.  Like in the 1940s House, the rabbits survive, but a few chickens and a pig named after Adolph Hitler end up on the table.

Nevertheless, 1940s house is still my favorite, probably because with just one family a viewer gets a
really up close and personal account of World War II on the homefront.

As far as I know Series 1 is the only historical reality show set in the 1920s.

It blows my mind that the United States not done historical reality shows set in the 20th century at all!  Maybe it's the hard time of letting go of modern life that the earlier participants had that made the producers give up on the Americans.  Watch Colonial House, for example, and you'll see how some of participants, Americans all of them, whined and complained and refused to play along with the social rules of the time.  The British ones were not happy all the time, but they were dang good sports the whole time.  Okay, there was that one English dude who snuck into town, but he was suitably abashed upon his return and worked hard for the remainder. 

I remember one participant in Frontier House wondering how in the world could a person work so hard, wish and want so much to be a part of something so unique and rare, and then blow it off?  Just because you have to work hard and do without for a few weeks! 

Don't even get me started on Texas Ranch House!

In any case, the families in both Coal House series were troopers and I learned a lot and have been seriously inspired to work harder on my cooking skills.

I still wish like crazy the Americans would make at least one more, preferably life on the homefront during World War II.  All I could find was this informative, but boring documentary from the Hoover Library-

Vintage Purists

Good morning, Guys & Dolls!*

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

I would define a purist as someone who lives it at least 75% of the time.  I have a husband and children who, for reasons beyond my comprehension, prefer the 21st century.  Plus, I’m a writer and it’s just a whole lot easier and less painful to work on a computer than one of these old klunkers-

Believe me, I know.  I started out on one my mother bought for me at a yard sale.  I bandaged my fingers with toilet paper and masking tape to bang on those keys.  Not fun.

I know of several Purists now.  If you watch Time Warp Wives you’ll notice the 1930s gal has a day job and a microwave oven, the 1940s one is only a year into it and has mostly modern household items still, and the 1950s chick has a tiny laptop hidden away.  I’d say these ladies are 90 to 98%!  It took the two ladies about ten years each to get there though and the third had the attitude but had just gotten into it. 

Lesson Learned:   Lifestyles changes take time.

Those are British dolls.  On this side of the Atlantic, I know of  Doris Mayday  and Dollie DeVille, the Rockabilly Socialite.   I see they venture out into the modern world all the time, but I can’t see where they waiver from the purist lifestyle at home.  Oh, wait, Doris wears plastic bags over her high heels in the winter because she can’t find vintage boots that fit.  I don’t think they had plastic garbage bags in the 1950s, did they?  Did I mention what a fabulous imagination purists have?

Lesson Learned:   You can't really Time Travel (at least not yet) so you gotta adapt!

These ladies have all been so inspirational for me.

Hopefully, I’ll be sharing a picture of myself in my very first retro outfit soon.  ;) 
 * 'Guys & Dolls' is the title of a 1955 Frank Sinatra movie.   Guys & Dolls  

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


Greetings, Guys & Dolls,

Now that I've been at this new blog for a while I can see what I like and am thinking of new things to do.  So far, I know I want to blog on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays only.  This is to cut back on my computer time on the other days of the week.  Nevertheless, I'll probably have multiple posts on the days that I do blog. 

I've been watching Coal House at War  devotedly and it's inspired me to work harder at my cooking.  This evening, for example, I made Brown Sugar Doughnuts from Grandmas Wartime Kitchen    .  The nice thing about 1940s cooking is that the recipes are low or no sugar, which I've cut out or waaaaay back on.  This was due to World War II rationing.  If you're a typical cook from my generation or younger, you'll discover how incredibly difficult it was for the 1940s cook.  If you don't have good basic skills going in, your family would have starved.  Making those rations stretch and accommodate everyone was just a monumental undertaking, especially in Great Britain!  Here's a modern English lady who is using this way of cooking and eating to lose weight-

Anyway, see you all back here Friday.

P.S. The doughnuts turned out butt-ugly, but the children loved them! ;)

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Reminisce Magazine

There are several wonderful magazines for remembering the past, but Reminisce  is my favorite.  My mother bought me a subscription after I kept snitching her copies.  It's geared towards people who actually lived through the 'good ol' days,' but vintage hearts like mine love it too.  I like it the best because of the variety and personal stories, plus old ads and old cars and such.  Some of the stories are set in as late as the 1970s, a decade I can best describe as barely tolerable.  But, most seem to be 1930s to 1960s, which is very cool with me.  The price for a subscription is excellent, considering all that this magazine offers and I highly recommend it.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Men In Black III

I love all the Men In Black movies and pretty much everything Will Smith is in.  Heck, I still laugh at Prince of Bel-Air reruns.  Nothing sexier than a sense of humor.  Seriously. 

Anyway, MB3 is particularly awesome because it involves Time Travel back to the 1960s and the moon launch.  You get to meet someone very important in Agent J's life that he barely remembers.  And, by the end of the film, you learn why you should never, ever forget to tip your waiter or waitress!

Apollo 11

Monday, January 19, 2015

American Disinterest & Historical Reality Shows

This is 'My Sunday Best' post one day late.

As a history buff, I’ve noticed something.

The United States has three Historical Reality Shows,

The last one was made in 2006 and none of them were set in the 20th century.

The United Kingdom has at least seven, that I know of, and the last one was released in 2012.

1940s House

Coal House                 
-this one was set in two different time periods, two different series
Oh, sure, we have lots of movies in which facts can be twisted to suit the political climate of the day and viewers don’t really have to think about how people really lived.
Seriously, most Americans today think hardship is when they lose their iPhone.

‘Ignorance is Bliss,’ but an ignorant person is more easily manipulated.  And ignorance has a way of coming around and biting the ignorant person on the butt.

This is why I always urge everyone to go back to original sources.  Don’t accept what a teacher or preacher or politician or overpriced shampoo salesman tells you as fact.  Search out the truth for yourself.

Knowledge is power.

And your local public library is free.

Also, you can find a lot of old news footage on YouTube.

Try talking to senior citizens too.  There’s nothing like eye witness accounts!

I love when a senior notices my Rita Hayworth hair!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Fire King Jadeite

Jadeite on Etsy
There's a virtually indestructible plastic version of this and then there's the real thing.  I'd like to have both in a variety of colors, one for everyday and one for the display case and special occasions.  Here is a link to an Etsy video tour of a renovated home in which she has these kinds of dishes.
And here's Melmac   at Retro Chalet
I think I'm drawn to simple beauty.

Friday, January 16, 2015

OMGoodness! Kasidy Yates' Dress!

Actually, the flowers are a different kind, but otherwise this dress from Unique Vintage looks exactly like the one Captain Kasidy Yates wore in the Star Trek Deep Space Nine episode 'Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang!'

Only a Trekker would notice such things, you know.  ;)  But, turns out, there's a lot of 'em into Retro.

Now, I must watch the episode.  Again.

Yeah, I was supposed to post about a book.  My first order from Unique Vintage came in and I got a little distracted, okay?  It's my birthday dress, after all.  ;)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

'Bride of Chaotica!'

This hilarious episode illustrates how past writers have imagined the future.  Star Trek got it right a lot!  Cell phones, sliding doors, iPads, any of that a-ringin' a bell? 

It also illustrates how female characters in 1930s Science Fiction spent most of their time screaming and waiting to be rescued.

Can't imagine Captain Janeway of the Starship Voyager doing that!  Sometimes, I complain about everything we've lost over the past few decades, like general good manners, but one awesome thing we've gained is the Freedom to Choose.  That means more to me than an iPad any day of the week.  Bride of Chaotica!  and all the episodes of all seven seasons of Voyager are on Netflix, by the way.  ;)

The Doctor does a memorable job portraying the President of Earth, which, incidentally was going on during the Impeachment of President Clinton   and his line "My performance was unimpeachable" caused a bit of a stir!  That was kind of nostalgic to watch. 
If you're fascinated by the topic, check out this show-   Prophets of Science Fiction

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

1940s Housewife

The 1950s housewife has achieved mythical status in American culture, I think, but it's the 1940s Housewife that I am most in awe of,

especially the British one. 

She had to take what she could get and do what she could to feed her family while the main wage-earner was off fighting a world war.  She had no dishwasher, no, microwave, no freezer, and probably no refrigerator.  I've tried it out - I lasted two days.  I may try again, see if I'm any tougher.  Here's a lady who's taken it to an awesome level, cooking daily on British 1940s rations-    The 1940s Experiment

Monday, January 12, 2015

One of the Women Behind One of the Men Who Saved the World

I would say British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, one of the men who saved the world during
World War II, was produced and supported by three incredible women, his wife Clementine, his nanny Mrs. Everest, and his mother Jennie Jerome of Brooklyn, New York.  Wasn't she a knockout?

If you watch Downton Abbey you're probably aware of the Dollar Princesses, the American heiresses who crossed the Atlantic to marry into the British nobility.  Consuelo Vanderbilt was probably the most famous, because she snagged the biggest fish, the Duke of Marlborough. 

The English were broke, but had castles and cool aristocratic titles, and the Americans were filthy rich social climbers - it was a match made in elite heaven. 

Even the late Diana, Princess of Wales counts one in her gene pool.

In any case, Jennie Jerome snagged Lord Randolph Churchill.  Maybe we can thank her for familiarizing Winston with American ways, thus empowering him to forge a vital alliance between Great Britain and the United States. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Time Machines

*Picture from the 1960 movie based on the novel by H.G. Wells.*

The concept of time travel was first popularized by H.G. Wells' novel, The Time Machine   over a hundred years ago.  In it, he explores a dismal future of how humanity might evolve.  I rather prefer the optimistic future theorized in Star Trek, which is dotted with time travel stories through various means.

Goshdarnit, I still haven't gotten the Time Machine I asked Santa for, but I've learned there's other ways to time travel.  Reading great novels that take you away from it all in your own imagination is just one way.

Going Vintage is another way.

Okay, this is My Sunday Best - it's not just about the glamorous style.  It's the attitude.  I've now read and explored many YouTube channels, blogs, Facebook Pages, and such and all of them put forward an attitude of kindness and a return to good manners, doing your best and showing mutual respect, slowing down and enjoying the beauty of those you love. 

Visit any Facebook Page for a news outlet, read any post, and you see that most of the comments are full of insults and obscenities, not to mention no attempt at good grammar and spelling.  (I'm no Grammar Guru myself, but I do try.)  It's a sad commentary on our society and it's easy to feel alone in your desire for a simpler, kinder way of life. 

Right now, my mind is pondering Table Manners.  I grew up in a family in which there was a lot of yelling and throwing of food at the table.  I want good Table Manners and I want to teach them to my children.  But, the whole subject causes me anxiety - the table was not a happy place when I was growing up.  So...I'm starting from scratch on this one.

I've found instructional videos from the 1950s on YouTube for table manners and this seems to work better for me.  Here's one-   And there are many more modern ones too.   I think in pictures.  It goes back to that phrase I came up with while watching Time Warp Wives - 'Visually Proactive.'

Figure out what you want to change in your life and find your Time Machine.  That's My Sunday Best.  ;)

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Choosing My Birthday Dress!

I can see it in my very visual imagination already, full skirt of large blue and white floral, sky blue cardigan, pearls, dark pink lipstick, Rita Hayworth hair. 

Now, I must choose the pattern needed to sew this dress.  This one by Vintage Vogue

or this one by Retro Butterick 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Style Me Vintage, a series by various authors

If you want to go Vintage, Retro, and/or Rockabilly, there are plenty of resources.  I found several lovely YouTube geniuses, like Vintage Vanity, but, of course, I also went straight to the library. 
I used to have a huge European pram to haul my library books home in, but my 'baby' is waaaaay too big for that now.  I must have been a sight, struggling under my huge stack of books to the car.  But, I don't care.  Good books are more important than worrying how I look hauling them.  I need a utility cart I sometimes see ladies go shopping with.

Anyway, I found a wonderful series on how to do your hair, make-up, and clothes in the vintage style.  I like the one pictured and link the best, probably because it covers the most.  I particularly like the section in which they reference the style icon of that decade.  For general look, it turns out I'm more like Rita Hayworth, the 1940s icon, than Marilyn Monroe, the 1950s icon, but I am okay with that. 
I like long, red hair -- and so does my husband!  So, I figure that makes me a 1940s starlet on the verge of an upbeat new decade, just getting the new red lipstick and full skirts I couldn't have during the austere war years.  Uh, yeah, that's it! 

Anyway, these are good books to get into it with.  I checked them out from the library and if I could choose only one to buy it would the one on clothes, hair, and make-up combined.

FYI-  There are three different groups within this style, as far as I can tell as a newbie.  It seems to me the Vintage Purists are at one end of the spectrum, Retro somewhere in the middle, and Rockabilly's on the other end.  They're all a lot of fun, super kind, and wonderfully imaginative.  Although I've always had a vintage heart, I'm new to all this.  But, if you explore the link list on the left sidebar, you'll see several different examples of each. 

I think I would be a Vintage Purist, if I could, but my husband and children are too 21st century for that.  So, I'm probably somewhere in the middle of Retro.  I remember when I first watched the documentary Time Warp Wives   the phrase "visually proactive" came to me.  I think that means there is something in the mind and heart which these ladies have become visually proactive in pursuing along their path in life.  And I happen to find it truly inspirational.  ;)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

War of the Worlds

"Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us." -opening line to the novel by H. G. Wells upon which this movie is based.

This is one of the best examples of the power of awesome storytelling.  When this story was broadcast on radio, people thought it was real and panicked!   War of the Worlds radio drama

The opening line must be one of the best ever written.  Storytellers take note of that.

In my heart and mind, this 1950's sci-fi classic ties with The Day the Earth Stood Still  and is trailed closely by  THEM

The 1953 movie version of War of the Worlds won out simply because of the power of its telling on real people.  It leaves me asking myself why it's so powerful.  Is it just H.G. Wells telling of it?  Or, is it the Theme of the story?  War of the Worlds 1953

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

My First Vintage Compliment!

Okay, I had to share, even though I really don't have a category for this in the weekly schedule.  I started doing my hair like  Lauren Bacall  only red.  Today as I was leaving a store a senior lady and her caregiver were coming in and the lady looked startled at me.  She said, "Oh, such pretty hair!"  I imagine Lauren Bacall was a major star when this lady was a teen or thereabouts.  Anyway, it made my day.  I haven't felt pretty in a very long time.  It's nice to find my groove again.

In other news, I want to post on the sidebar each week a 'Cultivating Kindness' tip of the week.  For me, I've committed myself to sending real paper birthday cards because I've noticed my children get really excited when their grandmothers send them.  No one else does.  Well, think about how rare real paper greeting cards are these days!  It makes them feel special and I know I feel special when I receive one too.  So, that is my commitment to kindness this week. 

Vintage Housewife

The 1950’s housewife has been much maligned in her pearls, joyfully scrubbing the kitchen floor while looking after her husband and impeccable offspring. 

The distaste, of course, comes from the fact that all women were expected to fulfill that role back then.  A mother who worked outside the home was met with disdain.  But, are we any better nowadays?  By that I mean, are we happier, better women?  Sometimes I wonder.  The reason is nowadays women have choices, which is great!  But, that doesn’t stop them from criticizing, ridiculing, and even insulting the choices of other women.   How is it not sexist to insult the choice of a woman to stay home, wear pearls, scrub her kitchen floor, and look after her husband and children?  She’s a woman and that is her choice.  Should she not be applauded for making that choice?  I think so.
Of course, I've seen it go both ways.  Some stay-at-home mothers criticize work-outside-the-home mothers too.

Yes, I’m a housewife, a stay-at-home mother.  Although I aspire to  Leave It To Beaver  I’m not there yet.  My husband says I’m more like  I Love Lucy  – I often mess up with amusing results, but I never stop trying!  And I have red hair...most of the time.  Thankfully, he appreciates all that.

There are many resources to vintage homemaking now.  My two favorites are  Time Warp Wives   and   The Glamorous Housewife   and I'm constantly learning about more.

And here is a modern resource-   The Family Manager  

Here's a fun British documentary of some women who are what I believe is called 'Vintage Purists' and why they choose this lifestyle-   Time Warp Wives documentary    The first featured 'wife' is also an accomplished singer and here is her website under her stage name-   Lola Lamour  

Make your own choices in life!  There's plenty of inspiration for them.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Warrior King. Not.

Note:   There are many complete biographies of President Eisenhower.  Mine's just a fun nod to this great man.  I intend to post about each of the presidents between 1912 and 1963, but in a positive way.  This isn't meant to spark political rioting.  I'm a history buff and I appreciate the balance necessary to our form of government.  I'll also be posting about other people in that time period who have inspired me.


Before the birth of the United States, it was rare that a triumphant warrior would have the humility necessary to refuse being crowned king or dictator for life or some other such thing.  And successful warriors are typically too narcissist to be benevolent civilian leaders.
As vice president, Harry S. Truman became president of the United States when the beloved President Roosevelt died just weeks before victory was declared in Europe at the close of World War II.  He authorized the Bomb and just a few years later got us into the Korean War.

These two presidents were Democrats, by the way. 

I think it’s pretty much impossible for my generation and younger to comprehend how it felt to be an American back then. 

Millions of people around the world died in World War II, including brothers and fathers and sisters and mothers.  It was horrible.  The nation was shell-shocked.  This is why it would have been easy for Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander who led the D-Day Invasion which literally saved the world, to become president or king or whatever and pretty much get away with anything.  Like George Washington, he refused.

But, some people got together and eventually convinced him to run for president.  Draft Eisenhower Movement   Of course, he won and President Eisenhower led our nation for two terms, from 1953 to 1961. 

The 1950s are nowadays criticized for many things, but there’s a growing movement of folks who appreciate the good things that went on.  Sure, there were negatives, but it was also a time of optimism and appreciation for the family.  The economy was booming and so were the babies.  World War II was finally behind us and I don’t think parents talked about it enough with their children, probably too painful. 

The Korean War ended and the Armed Forces were desegregated (a process started by Truman.) When Arkansas balked at desegregation in their schools, Eisenhower called up the National Guard and nine African American students were escorted safely to class.  Eisenhower also signed two Civil Rights Acts into law.  I like to think it was the courageous service of African Americans, like the  Tuskegee Airmen  during World War II which made this domestic issue so important to Eisenhower. 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. thanked him for his efforts:   "The overwhelming majority of southerners, Negro and white, stand firmly behind your resolute action to restore law and order in Little Rock”
Oh, sure, there were nasty things going on around the world, but there was also Elvis Presley  

and    I Love Lucy  at home.

And my mother went to college.
After a two-term president, Americans almost always vote in a president of the opposite party.  Guess we just like change, but change is good and balance is essential to our form of government, I do believe.  Eisenhower was a Republican and his successor was a young Democrat named John F. Kennedy.
President Eisenhower at Biography.Com

Hey, did you notice Indy said, "I Like Ike," at one point in the last movie.  Watch it again, if you can't remember.  I think the scene with him running through the pretend 1950s neighborhood set up for the nuclear test was a stroke of imaginative genius.   Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Chrystal Skull

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Vintage Village and Star Trek Deep Space Nine

Yesterday, January 3, was the birthday of  J. R. R. Tolkien    He was a veteran of World War I and some say his stories were his therapy for that trauma.
Yeah, I know what you’re thinkin’.  How does all that go together?

I’m a storyteller myself, although I won’t be talking about that on this blog.  Storytellers are driven to constantly research and wonder how things work, how one event sparks another, and how humans adapt and cope with it all.  That’s how we figure out stories.  But, as Tom Clancy once said,
“The difference between Reality and Fiction?  Fiction must make sense.”

In any case, I look around and I notice that modern living is making a lot of people crazy.  The noise, the chaos, the violence, the general bad manners and obscenities are crowding around us almost all the time.
Did you know the population of the United States has doubled since World War II?

We all develop ways to cope.  I prefer the small town life in which the community - the village - is all around you and the big, bad city is so far away it doesn’t even seem real.  Everyone knows everyone and you can trade for just about anything you need.  If someone’s house burns down, neighbors step right up and help the family find or build a new one.  Awesome.

That’s an ideal which is very hard to find these days.

Instead, I’ve noticed since moving to a heavily populated area near a big city that people create  micro-villages for themselves, usually centered on a shared religious belief or favorite activity.  This is good, of course, and the Retro, Vintage, Rockabilly lifestyle seems to be a part of that.  So far, I’ve encountered a lot of really nice, super imaginative, unbeatably optimistic people in it.

As an example, here is Cherry Dollface’s New Year 2015 Message of Lady Love and Positivity

And sometimes people lose touch with reality completely online.  This brought an episode of Star Trek Deep Space Nine "It's Only a Paper Moon" to mind.  Nog loses a leg in the Dominion War.  He’s physically healed, but still suffering emotional trauma.  He decides to spend time in a holographic recreation of 1962 Las Vegas as part of his therapy, but then doesn’t want to leave.  It’s a heart-wrenching episode and one of my favorites.

So, modern living gets on our nerves and we want to protect ourselves and our families from it.  Good.  But, it brings to mind a truth brought out in the movie  The Village  by M. Night Shyamalan.  As the grieving father, August Nicholson, states, “You know, like a dog can smell you.  You may run from sorrow, as we have.  Sorrow will find you.  It can smell you.”  In this story, a group of people create a village to shut themselves away from the world’s monsters.  As good as these people are, they cannot completely shut out one monster – the human potential for evil.
This is why I say build your village; make it vintage if you like.  At the same time, remember the morals of all the great stories and stay aware that evil lurks in every heart. 

"Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay... small acts of kindness and love." -Gandalf, from The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey
By the way, the new Hobbit movie is the most popular movie in the world right now and in theaters, thank you Mr. Tolkien.   The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Shady Dell

How cool is this?  A trailer park with only vintage trailers!  I so want to go there and take my mom.  She was a teenager in the 1950s and I ask her all about the real life view on the things I'm learning.
The Shady Dell

There's a really cool video on YouTube of some ladies who spent some time there.

Just a short 'Blast from the Past' post to warm things up on my new blog!

Book Review Policy

At this point, I would like to review anything, Fiction or Non-Fiction, having to do with life between 1912 and 1963.  Why those dates?  The Titanic sank in 1912 and President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.  They're like anchor points, because most of the history I'm interested in took place between those dates. wouldn't be difficult to talk me into anything really cool along the lines of Steampunk, Sherlock Holmes, and Jules Verne, so long is it's 1900 or later.  Also, it should be noted that the first episode of the original Star Trek aired in 1966.  Just, you know, FYI.

I will only review one book per week.

I cannot participate in Blog Hops or any other book promotional activities, besides reviews.  Sorry.

I've learned the hard way that I must be absolutely strict with myself when I'm on the computer.  That means I will only be reviewing books I'm absolutely sure of - I just don't have time for anything else.

Other than that, any genre will do, except Horror or Erotica.  If there is nookie, make it Rated PG, 'kay?  Also, I tend to become nauseated by stories in which children are abused in any way.  So, none of that, please. 

Traditional or eBooks are fine, out of print, new release, old release, I really don't care.  But, please, don't spend money sending me anything unless I tell you I'm sure of it!  I don't want to live with the guilt that money was wasted on me.

I may end up changing this policy to adapt to new circumstances and interests.


Almost There

I'm betting on Sunday.