Thursday, January 26, 2017

Get Carded: I'll Drink To That!

Hello! My husband's birthday was yesterday, and as the day began, I had no idea what theme I would use to craft his birthday card. To get inspiration, I picked up Food Mania, a book chock-full of reproduced vintage images pertaining to food and drink. It had been a 50c garage sale purchase over the summer.

And I was inspired indeed, by a 19th C. image of a German brewer happily admiring a glassful of his beer. Since my husband's a craft beer enthusiast, there was my theme!

The card:

Materials used:
  • white card stock
  • image of German brewer holding up a glass of beer
  • "Right Brain Brewery" logo, cut from carton of same
  • beer definition from vintage dictionary (beer n. An alcoholic beverage made from malt and hops)
  • Schlitz beer swag lamp image, cut from vintage Sears catalog
  • wording under brewer's feet (not visible in photo) accompanied catalog image; it mentions the order number, product name and price ($14.99)
  • "IT'S your birthday! i'll drink TO THAT!": some words were cut from vintage books (A West Michigan tourism guide and a children's dictionary), while others were stamped 
A close-up:

I'd say that brewer looks pretty pleased with his product! And my husband was pretty pleased with his birthday card as well. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Thrifty Acres: 1971, Life Magazine Style

Hello! A few days ago, I was telling my husband about the Life and Look magazines I used to read as a kid, courtesy of my dad's job as director of a Catholic Social Services agency. At the time, these two publications came out more than once a month, so the back issues would have cluttered up the agency waiting room in no time. Thus, they were brought home for the family to read.

And as it just so happened, I encountered a small stack of early 1970's Life magazines at a thrift store the next day. I thought they'd be interesting to look over. What's changed and what's stayed the same since then? 

Here's the cover of the oldest of the four magazines I bought, the May 7th, 1971 issue:

"Saucy Feminist" Germaine Greer. Quotes from her then-current book, The Female Eunuch, were included in the article about her, and they sounded quite radical. Social media would have a field day with her, no doubt, had it been around in 1971!

Moving on, literally and figuratively, ads related to cars:

Free automatic transmissions on the Plymouth Fury (only on specially-equipped ones, though). I liked how they photographed that Fury Grand Coupe to look about as broad as a barn!

Not too exciting an ad, though, so how about this one?

Wonder what the average male found more exciting - the Ford Mustang with its "sports-car hood - NASA scoops and all", or the blonde  wearing hot pants? 

Unfortunately I don't have good memories of the car featured here:

In the above ad, the folks in the station wagon are supposedly mocking the folks in the VW van for having a vehicle that is "...short and high and really quite ugly." But fear not, those VW owners are the smart ones, since their car is more fuel efficient and has more than double the cubic feet of carrying space!

And that large amount of cubic feet is why I don't have good memories of VW vans. My parents had a string of them for several years, the better to cram my family of ten into. (Even then there was barely enough room for everyone. My three brothers sat in what passed for a trunk, while my little sister sat on my mom's lap. Yes, this was before seat belt laws were in effect).

This car didn't have much power, so once it was laden down with all of us, it didn't move very quickly. Don't think it got any faster than 50 mph on the hills in Pennsylvania the year we went to NYC. But even worse, the heating system was pretty meager. If you sat in the back end of the car, as I had to, you suffered with cold feet during wintertime excursions. Not fun. 

One last auto-related ad:

Above, a matron is merrily trying on a hat. I say "matron" because the copy seems so bad now, I wondered if the advertising agency deliberately wrote it that way as a tongue-in-cheek nod to the "woman of a certain age". I mean, the woman in the ad says: "A brand new idea for cars... and for girls. The Car Man's job is looking after my car...the way that nice man at the bank looks after my savings...The Car Man makes sure I do the right things to my car."  And then she's off, trying on hats, visiting her children or attending club meetings. 

I'm guessing "saucy feminist" Germaine Greer would have likely read this ad, seeing how it appeared in the magazine that featured her. I wonder what she thought of it? 

Due to the unpopularity of the Vietnam War by this time, I doubt that the US Army was high on the list of options for high school graduates. Perhaps that's why this ad was made:

Ah, let's just forget the Vietnam War ever happened, okay folks? Instead, enlist for European duty! You can have a great time in the Italian Riviera and other wonderful spots in Europe! And to prove their point, the other page of this two-page ad had 35 photos of the wonderful European sights awaiting the soldier. 

It'd be interesting to find out if this ad campaign was successful. The US Army might not have appreciated an article in this issue that featured an antiwar Republican congressman named Pete McCloskey, who said of the war: "Nixon is pursuing an immoral policy that the American voters won't back up...If the only way to change it is to run for President, I'll do it." (And he just that, the next year, but came nowhere near challenging Nixon). 

Sure, the reasons behind the US Army's need to promote fun times in Europe were serious, but there were ridiculous ads as well:

The Trim-Jeans, "guaranteed to reduce your waist, abdomen, hips and thighs a total of from 6 to 9 inches in just three days or your money refunded." The woman in the middle reportedly lost a total of 7 1/2" in one brief session. Really? Even as a kid (I was 11 when this issue came out), I wasn't fooled by such ads. A quick Internet search revealed that the firm responsible for the product was eventually indicted on mail fraud. (The same company was apparently responsible for a bunch of other figure-enhancing gimmick ads of the era, such as the infamous Mark Eden Bust Developer). 

I didn't take a photo of the "letters to the editors" page, but from reading it, I saw that people were concerned about the same things people are still concerned about: is the President doing what he said he'd do (Nixon's handling of the Vietnam War), who was at fault for the breakup of a very popular band (the Beatles), whether or not veterans have trouble finding jobs, and the environmental hazards created by the big power plants and cars of the day (I think we've made progress with both).

Funny, some things have changed a lot - automatic transmission is no longer something special, and "car men" likely service as many men's cars as women's, given that cars are more complex now. But there's still dubious figure-enhancing ads - and people still wonder if the President will do what he said he'd do.   

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Adventures In Natural Homemaking #4: A DIY Anti-Aging Face Serum

Hello! Awhile back I read a magazine article extolling the virtues of essential oils, with commercial products featuring some of these oils listed. 

One such product uses rose oil and rose hip oil in its formulation. "...a nourishing wrinkle-fighting blend" we are told. The cost: $90 for one ounce.

I wondered if this product was vastly superior to my concoction, which I'd come across here and had been using for a few months already. If you click on the link, you'll see that the "recipe" uses rosewater and rose hip seed oil, but not rose oil. (According to the magazine blurb, rose oil is costly to produce, hence that $90 price tag. That commercial item does also use rose hip seed oil as well.)

Well, I think I can get along okay with my much cheaper version. There's still a bit of an expense involved in buying the rosewater, rose hip seed oil and  base oil (I use almond). But the resulting mixture, which also makes about an ounce per batch, is nowhere 90 dollars! 

I get a 4 oz bottle of almond oil (Nature's Truth brand)on sale for $5.00 at Meijer, a regional hypermarket chain. At a small regional health food store chain, Apple Valley, I just priced the rosewater (Heritage Products brand) at $9.19 for an 8 oz bottle. This store was selling rose hip seed oil (Now brand) at $8.99 for 1 oz. (That may seem high for a small bottle, but with essential oils, a little goes a very long way!)

Now, does this DIY product do its job? It's wintertime, when dry skin is a fact of life. But not this winter. I apply my DIY face serum once or twice a day and it keeps the dryness at bay. 

I have to admit, I don't know if there's really any anti-aging effect with this product. I'm not a good test subject, as I'm consistently told I look younger than my age. I suspect it's mostly a matter of genetics, as the same was true of my dad for most of his adult life.

But on the other hand, I figure it doesn't hurt to boost any younger-looking advantage I may have by continuing to use this homemade serum. And I like knowing that I don't have to pay $90 an ounce to do so!

Note: if you'd like to learn more about the commercial product, read this.


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

More Travel Fun!

Hello! The mild winter weather in my region of the country continued the week after Christmas, so my family went on another short trip. This time we visited Indianapolis and metro Cincinnati, plus Nashville (Indiana,that is), in between.

We were so busy having fun that I didn't get around to taking any photos. As a blogger, that was bad of me, but I hope that by mentioning some highlights of our excursion, you might be tempted to check out the same places sometime. 

Everyone's heard of Nashville, Tennessee, but you may not have heard of Nashville, Indiana unless you've been to southern Indiana. My husband and I were first introduced to this Nashville courtesy of relatives who were attending Indiana University in nearby Bloomington. 15 years later, we became Indiana residents ourselves, and would occasionally visit Nashville. But we hadn't been there since the year before our move away from Indiana in 2002. 

So when my husband suggested visiting Nashville during this trip I jumped at the chance. We'd remembered it as a cute tourist town with a folksy, down-home vibe, and I was curious to see if it was cute still. 

And it was. Sure, some stores had disappeared since our last visit, but others had come in to take their places. We visited mid-week, which meant that some stores were closed since it wasn't the weekend. I think others had closed after Christmas, not to reopen until the spring. But there was still plenty of shops and restaurants open to choose from. 

We began by eating lunch at Big Woods Pizza. I had a salad, but my husband and daughter shared a pizza and said it was good. 

After lunch we split up to shop/browse to our heart's content. Even with the visitors' map, I had a hard time locating some of the stores. The main streets of the commercial district are easy enough to navigate, but then there's a number of alley-like streets. At least one of these, Old Schoolhouse Way, didn't have any signage, at least not for the block I was trying to find. But eventually I found the shop I was looking for, Wishful Thinking. If you're into various papercrafting hobbies, you'll likely find something that catches your eye here. I made a couple of purchases. 

I merely window shopped the rest of the stores, though I was tempted by Johanna Lee Bathology (all sorts of soaps and bath bombs) and various candy stores. 

It takes awhile to get to Nashville, because traveling on 2-lane roads in the area is a given. But that part of Indiana is very pretty and thus has attracted artists and outdoor enthusiasts for decades. It's worth the trip! 

Admittedly, it helped that it was sunny and in the low 50's - balmy for late December. But Nashville, IN is nice no matter what the weather.

After a too-short visit to Nashville, it was time to head back to Indianapolis, where our hotel was. We decided to go out to dinner in the Broad Ripple Village section of the city. Lots of dinner choices, so we walked around a bit. My husband had see good online reviews for Public Greens and Broad Ripple Brewpub. We ended up picking the latter place because of its cozy interior. It had turned chilly and overcast, a big change from earlier in the day, so the pub atmosphere was very welcoming.

While waiting for my fish-and-chips dinner (one of the several British pub-style menu offerings), I perused Nuvo, the local alt newspaper. The issue in my hands had a "cozy winter" theme, meaning a focus on getting through that season without too much angst. And among restaurants considered especially nice for removing oneself from winter's chill was the very place we were seated. I would readily agree - nice atmosphere and the food was very good too. 

After dinner we walked around a bit on the Monon Trail, a rail trail in the area. I would imagine it gets quite congested in the warm weather months, but there were just a few runners and walkers while we were there. 

The next day found us going down to the Cincinnati area. I know, that may seem backwards - it would have made more sense to head down to Cincy after visiting Nashville, rather than returning to Indy. But it was a matter of where and when the hotels were cheapest, according to my "travel agent" husband.

It was a day for going to huge stores - Ikea and Jungle Jim's. I rarely get to visit Ikeas since I don't live near any. Thus, it's a real treat when I do make it to one. Several hundred people had the same idea, so the shopping was a little congested. Still had a good time and bought some housewares. 

I've written about Jungle Jim's before - it's one of the largest grocery stores in the country, a very cool place. Unfortunately I didn't have much time to shop there since I'd already spent so much time at Ikea. You need several hours to really do Jungle Jim's properly!

Lunch was at Tacqueria Mercado in Fairfield, not far from Jungle Jim's. We've eaten here a few times already and it's never disappointed me. I've only gotten the steak tacos, which are great on their own, but man, their salsas! I should have asked them if they sell those salsas to go. Great stuff!

Dinner was at Sichuan Chili, in Evendale. They offer both Americanized and more authentic Chinese foods. I usually play it safe and order one of the noodle dishes. Not sure if they're the best bet. My husband and daughter both got tofu dishes, and both enjoyed them.

After a night in a nearby hotel, it was time to head back home. Since we had to drive back through Indiana, of course, I'd already put in a request for stopping at E&S Sales, an Amish grocery store in Shipshewana. (I love the interesting variety and prices at these businesses.) Unfortunately we didn't get there as early in the day as we would have liked, so I didn't have much time to shop there. Still was happy to have made the stop anyway.

A couple of hours later, we were back home. It had been a bit of a whirlwind trip, but we had fun! And I hope you had fun reading my write-up - even if I hadn't included any photos.