Pinup 101Photo Shoot Checklist

Hello Darlings!

Today I thought I might share with you my checklist for photo shoot preparations, including what to bring. Every model should have a model bag that holds the various odds and ends needed on any given photo shoot or runway show. The contents of your bag may change depending on the job, your experience, and so on. I’ll go over the basics, and you can add on from there. I’ll also share with you how I prepare for photo shoots with my pre-shoot schedule.

First, lets touch on the importance of being prepared. I have heard some pretty interesting stories from photographers about models who have shown up late (really late), with unshaven legs and/or underarms, unkempt finger and toenails, soiled or wrinkled wardrobe, and so on. No matter how much or how little actual experience a model may have, showing up prompt and prepared is the mark of a true professional. The opposite is, well, exactly that. In a sea of beautiful faces, a professional attitude and a winning personality will set you apart and keep the jobs rolling in.

The Model Bag 

The model bag is a model’s personal bag of tricks. It holds everything one could possibly need during a shoot or show. Even if hair, makeup, and wardrobe are being provided, there are things specific to you that you alone are responsible for bringing. Here’s my checklist, and while your bag will be specific to you, this is a good start.

Dolly _Marlowe's_Model Bag

My model bag is a vintage train case that has doubled as a prop.

*Water bottles (Lights get hot, stay hydrated)

*Straws (Stay hydrated AND keep your makeup in place)

*Energy snacks (Bite size things are best to keep from ruining your makeup)

*Safety panties (Thong or g-string panties as close to your skin tone as possible. These are for wearing under a photographer’s or designer’s wardrobe, especially swimwear and lingerie.)

*Full coverage panties in black, white, nude, and a fashion color like pink or red (These are for show, so make sure they are in nice condition)

*Heels in black, white, nude, and any fashionable style or color that suits your wardrobe (Beware of too ostentatious a shoe if you’re working for a designer, their clothes are the focus, not your shoes. Make sure you can walk in the shoes you pack if you’re walking the runway)

*Bras in black and nude, with AND without straps

 

*Stockings: black, nude, fishnets, nude pantyhose (Bring backups in the event of snags)

*Scarf (For wardrobe changes to prevent makeup transfer)

*Makeup, yes, even if its being provided (Foundation, lashes and adhesive, oil blotter, translucent powder with brush, lipstick, liner, chapstick, hair pins, hairspray, comb and brush, tissues, cotton swabs, cotton balls, anything you need for your specific look)

*Body lotion

*Nail polish remover

*Clear nail polish

*Colored nail polish to match your freshly manicured nails

*Nail clippers and file

*Small first-aid kit with clear bandages, NSAIDs, allergy medications, cough drops, feminine hygiene products

*Deodorant

*Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss

*Breath mints

*Baby wipes or makeup remover wipes

*Static Guard

*Small sewing kit with safety pins

*Fabric tape

*Portfolio, resume, and comp cards if you have them

*Your handbag with your usual things (Be sure to have cash, cell phone, and your ID)

*Music (I have several playlists depending on the mood of the shoot, and a compact bluetooth speaker)

*Something to do (There can be quite a bit of downtime, so have something to keep busy)

*Wardrobe and accessories (Even if the photographer is providing, it’s always a good idea to have options. The only time it’s not appropriate to bring your own wardrobe is if you’re shooting for a designer, then you’ll obviously be wearing their pieces)

*Travel clothes and robe (Loose fitting clothes that won’t leave impressions or red marks on your skin whilst you travel to your gig or sit for hair and makeup. Don’t wear socks!)

Pre-Shoot (or show) Preparation Schedule

Preparations for a photo shoot or runway show start long before you ever show up to your gig. Everything from eating right and getting a good nights sleep effect your performance in front of a camera. Here is how I prepare for shows and shoots.

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Calendar art by Alberto Vargas for Esquire Magazine

Always (as in, I’m always doing these things because they’re important in the long term):

*Exercise and eat right. This doesn’t mean you have to be a size two, but you should strive to look and feel your healthiest best.

*Practice. I’ve covered this before, but it’s so very important to know how to pose and feel comfortable in those poses. Have a wide variety of poses, facial expressions, and moods to show (at least 10).

*Take a dance class. This may sound silly, but nothing trains your body to move with poise and grace better than dance. It doesn’t matter what style of dance class you choose, just pick something and get moving!

*Don’t pick at your face! If you have a pimple that decides to make an uninvited appearance, use a spot treatment. Picking will only cause irritation and scarring which will take a lot longer than the original blemish to disappear.

One Month Prior (as you book more jobs, this will became a standing thing):

*Gather wardrobe pieces and items for your model bag if you don’t already have them. If you need to order things, give yourself enough time for delivery and exchanges if needed)

*Make any sewing alterations to wardrobe as needed

*If your shoot has a theme, collect some props. This is an especially good idea if you’re doing a package shoot where the photographer has a set theme and is offering it up to multiple models. Bringing a few small props will give your photos something a little different. Though, respect the photographer’s wishes if they’d rather not use them.

*Double check your schedule. Make sure you have time off work, babysitters, transportation, a chaperone, and the correct day and time of the shoot.

Two Weeks Prior:

*Double check measurements and wardrobe fit, especially if you’ve changed your diet or started working out. You’d be surprised how the loss or gain of a couple of inches can drastically change wardrobe fit. Make any alterations (or contact whomever booked you if you’ll be modeling for a designer) as needed

*Double check that schedule!

*Start whitening your teeth if you’ve never done it before.

One week Prior:

*Do any kind of facials or skin treatments now so your skin has time to adjust. I do not recommend trying any kind of new treatments this close to a shoot, should your skin positively freak out on you!

*Start sleeping 6 to 10 hours a night. Sleep experts say it can take a whole week to catch up on one bad night, so be sure you’re getting plenty of beauty rest.

*Drink water. Proper hydration not only keeps you healthy, but it also fills in fine lines, wrinkles, cellulite, and clears the skin. (*pro tip: “water” is in bold because I mean water, not juice, not soda, not energy drinks, but actual WATER).

*Have your hair done. If you color it, get that done. Have a trim done as well. When you book your appointment, ask for a deep conditioning treatment as well to add some luster to your locks. Again, now is not the time for anything new, just maintenance.

*Wax whatever needs waxing, if you are so inclined. Remember, your skin will need some recovery time.

*Whiten your teeth if it’s part of your maintenance beauty routine.

Two or Three Days Prior:

*Groom your eyebrows. It’s best to have this done by a professional if you’re not experienced in this area.

*Exfoliate your face and body.

*Keep drinking water and getting good sleep!

*Cut out high sodium foods and alcohol. Too much salt will make you look bloated, not hydrated. Cut out as much salt as you can. Take it easy on sugary foods too. They can lead to weight gain and skin issues. Alcohol will make you look tired and puffy, so skip the cocktails until your shoot is over

*Steam and press any wardrobe, then hang it in a garment bag being careful it won’t get crushed or creased. DO NOT FLAT FOLD YOUR WARDROBE!

*Contact the photographer. Confirm wardrobe, hair and makeup plans, etc.

*Arrange a safety contact if you don’t have a chaperone.

*Double check that schedule.

The Day Prior:

*Keep drinking water!

 

*Have a manicure and pedicure done. Buy a bottle of matching color nail polish if you don’t have one at home.

*Pack your model bag.

*Wash your hair in the morning or the night before, and don’t use any heavy styling products. Your hairstylist will want “day old hair” to work with. (*Pro Tip: Day old hair, not dirty, nasty, stinky hair).

*Shave your legs, under arms, and bikini line if you don’t wax. Be sure to moisturize after.

*Get good sleep!

*Charge your phone

The Day Of:

*Wake up early enough that you’re not in a mad rush.

*Shower and shave again. Don’t forget to moisturize after.

*Wash and moisturize your face. Don’t put on any cosmetics if you’re working with a makeup artist.

*Throw anything in your model bag you used that morning you may need later. Don’t forget your phone charger.

*Eat a good breakfast. Stay away for greasy heavy foods, and opt for quality proteins and carbohydrates that will give you energy without weighing you down.

*If you’re supposed to arrive photo ready, be photo ready.

*Let your safety contact know when you’ve arrived and where you are. Keep in contact throughout the day during breaks if it’s an all day shoot.

*Show up 15 minutes early. Use the restroom if needed. Put your phone on vibrate.

*Relax and have fun!

After You Shoot:

*Thank the photographer and HMUA (and anyone else who worked on your shoot) for their work.

*Give them copies of your comp cards or business cards and exchange contact and social media information. Never miss an opportunity to network.

*Clean up your mess. Photo shoots are fast and hectic, no doubt your stuff is everywhere. Pack up your things and throw away your trash.

*Go over any details with the photographer regarding publication, photo sharing, etc.

*Call your safety contact when you’re in your car and ready to leave.

*Stop and reward yourself with a greasy, sugary treat. You’ve earned it!

 

Every photo shoot and runway show will be different in some way. As you gain more experience, your bag and routine will change accordingly. What’s important is that you get in the habit of being prepared. As always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to drop me a line via electronic post or in the comments section below.

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Every time I pack for a shoot, I have to remind him that he can’t come with me.

XOXO

Dolly Marlowe

 

 

 

Decadent Chocolate Ganache Cake

Hello Darlings!

February is here and love is in the air. Shops are overflowing with flowers and big boxes of chocolates. It seems as if the whole world is swathed in pink and red hues. Don’t you just love l’amour?

One of my favorite things about the Valentine season is baking up something special for my one true love (who, by the way, has one serious sweet tooth). This year I made him the richest, most decadent, ooey-gooey, chocolate ganache cake. I’d love to share it with you for you to share with someone you love…or just eat it all yourself. It’s that good.

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Decadent Chocolate Ganache Cake

Prep time: 25 minutes

Start to finish time: 2 hours 15 minutes

Serves: 12

Ingredients:

(Cake)

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour or 2 1/2 cups cake flour

1 2/3 cups sugar

3/4 cup butter, softened

2/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa

1 1/4 cups water

1 1/4 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp baking powder

2 eggs

(Ganache)

2/3 cup whipping cream

6 oz semisweet baking chocolate (chopped, chips work as well)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350* F. Grease bottom and sides of two (9″) or 3 (8″) round cake pans; lightly flour.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat all the ingredients (except for those for the ganache) on low speed for 3 minutes, scraping to bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for an additional 3 minutes. Pour equal portions into pans.
  3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until each cake passes the toothpick test. Let cool 10 minutes. DO NOT ALLOW TO COOL COMPLETELY IN THE PANS!!! Remove from the pans and allow to cool for 1 hour.
  4. While the cakes are baking, heat the whipping cream in a 1 quart saucepan over low heat util hot, but not boiling.
  5. Add in chocolate and stir obsessively, do not let it burn (chocolate can burn quickly). Once the chocolate is melted, remove from heat. The ganache will thicken as it cools. It’s ready when it mounds slightly when dropped from a spoon.
  6. Spoon cooled ganache between the cake layers. Pour over the top layer and allow it to drip over the sides of the cake. Spoon as much as you like to cover the cake.

**Tip: for an extra gooey cake, pour the ganache between the cake layers whilst it is still relatively thin, allowing the cake layers to absorb the moisture. Top the rest of the cake once the ganache has thickened up a bit.

Serve warm with a scoop of homestyle vanilla ice cream and a glass of cold milk.

Enjoy!

XOXO

Dolly Marlowe

Pinup Pouf Hair Tutorial

Hello Darlings!

I’ve been making an effort to be nicer to my hair. I put it through quite a bit of abuse when it comes to styling: wet sets, backcombing, pin curls, more backcombing…So. Much. Backcombing. In order to minimize breakage, I try to only wash my hair every four to five days. By the end of that cycle, my hair is, well, nasty. Since going into hiding is a less than reasonable option, I need a quick and easy hairstyle to hide my dirty hair. The best part of this style, other than being quick and easy, is it works best on dirty hair!

Pinup Pouf

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Supplies: brush, rattail comb, hair elastic, bobby pins, hair net, hair rat, hair spray, decorative bits and pieces.

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Step 1: Brush out your nasty hair! 

*Apologies for the poor quality photos. We’re renovating and my lighting is seriously wanting.

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Step 2: Brush your hair forward into a ponytail, right where your bangs sit.

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Step 3: Divide your ponytail into two sections.

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Step 4: Backcomb like crazy!

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The goal here is to look like a Tim Burton character. I told you I do A LOT of backcombing.

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Step 5: Attach the hair rat to your hairline just above your forehead. Two bobby pins on each side should do the trick.

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Like so.

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Step 6: GENTLY brush your hair forward being careful not to brush out the nice little rat’s nest you’ve made. I use a soft bristle brush for this reason.

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Step 7: Roll the ends of your hair under and spread them out a bit.

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Step 8: pin the rolled ends of your hair under the hair rat, and secure the ends. Smooth out any lumpy bits and spray it in place. Your hair is already dirty, so go ahead and shellac that mess!

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Step 9: Stretch the hair net over your pouf. Fine mesh hair nets work best.

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Step 10: Secure the netting behind the hair elastic on top of your head.

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Step 11: Choose some decorative hair baubs to enhance your do.

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A simple bow works nicely.

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You can get as dramatic as you like. Use LOTS of flowers. The higher the pouf, the more hair baubs you can use!

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And just like that you are ready to face the world in glamorous (albeit dirty) hairstyle.

Let me know if you try this style and how it works for you.

XOXO

Dolly Marlowe

Pinup 101:Bookings

Hello Darlings!

In today’s Pinup 101 lesson, we’re going to cover bookings and building a portfolio. This topic will likely be a little dry, but I’m hoping you will find it informative. These are the things no one told me when I was starting out. I had to just stumble though it all as I went. I’d like to save you that hassle.

You’ve studied the masters, practiced your poses, perfected your hair and makeup techniques, now it’s time to take the next step. Before you can ever hope to become a published model, you must first book photo shoots and build a portfolio.

 

Types of Bookings

There are a few different types of bookings. It’s a good idea to get to know them before striking out on your own.

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“Barn Find” from Car Kulture Deluxe issue #37, Photography by Mike Harrington

Paid Bookings: A paid booking is when either a model or photographer is paid money for their services. This is, for obvious reasons, the most desirable booking. Starting out, don’t expect to be offered many of these. In fact, YOU will be the one paying photographers for a while, but we’ll discuss that piece in a bit.

TFP, TFCD: These are acronyms for “trade for prints/photos” and “trade for CD (or flash drive files)”. This sort of booking is when the photographer and model (and at times the hair and makeup artist) trade services for a project. This sort of arrangement is only mutually beneficial when all parties involved are either at the same experience levels or are working on a project that is of special interest. Trade is a kind of compensation. Many people forget this and inappropriately ask for trade work.

Trade for Merchandise: This sort of trade is fairly common when working with brands. Models are hired by a company or photographer with the payment being some sort of merchandise. This saves the company money, as goods are generally less expensive than the model’s time rate. The company is paying their production cost, and the model is receiving compensation at the retail value of the merchandise. Like all trade, this only works if the compensation matches the value of the work. For instance, if a model’s time rate is $100/hr, but the merchandise only has a retail value of $30, that compensation may not be enough. Likewise, a new model who has yet to receive compensated work may take the $30 merchandise because it also comes with exposure and published work for her portfolio.

Booking Photo Shoots

The most important piece in a model’s professional arsenal is her portfolio. Before you can put together an impressive portfolio, you need photos to put in it.

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Photography by Jillian Danielson, HMUA Dolly Marlowe, Model Dolly Marlowe

As I said earlier, at first you will need to hire photographers. Photo shoots don’t come cheap. You can expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $400 (and up) for a quality photo shoot. If you don’t have that kind of cash lying around, save up. Don’t be cheap. Be selective. You’ll need to work with talented people, experienced pin-up photographers who can help you hone your craft. Look for photographers who offer coaching and who are frequently published. Look at their portfolios. Do you like their work? If so, hire them. If not, find someone else.

You can save money by booking your photo shoots at the right time. Lots of photographers offer discounts and mini shoots around holidays and weekenders (like Viva Las Vegas). Mini shoots are usually themed and timed. A photographer may offer a Valentine’s Day themed shoot at 50% off their normal fee. These shoots often offer one set or backdrop, no wardrobe changes, and are shorter on time. You will also be expected to arrive camera ready. Be prompt. Your being late cuts into someone else’s time. Working with photography students and clubs is another way to save money. While these shoots rarely yield print worthy photos, they are great practice (and FREE!). Technically TFP, students and new models are equally matched in experience, so the trade is mutually beneficial.

Now please hear me out on this. I mean really listen. Once you’ve gotten a few shoots under your belt you’re going to feel pretty great. You’ll get some positive attention. Maybe you’ve even gotten published. This is the time to remind yourself you’re not as hot as you think you are. You are still a novice. It is considered bad form to approach photographers to ask for TFP shoots. The pin-up community is a small one. The last thing you want is to gain a reputation as someone who expects free stuff. Yes, your work has worth, but unless your work has the same value as the photographer you’re approaching, your request will likely be seen as insulting. Wait until you have a solid portfolio and published work before asking for trade bookings…and even then do so sparingly.

Building a Portfolio

A portfolio is either a print or digital sampling of one’s work, think of it as a pictorial resume. While most portfolios are digital, I recommend having a print copy as well.

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A “tear sheet” is a digital or print copy of published work. This one is from a shoot I did with Heart of Haute. Photography by Mitzi Valenzuela.

Digital portfolios can be a third party hosted site, like Model Mayhem or your own website. Avoid using social media as your portfolio. Remember, this represents you as a working model. As impressive as your Instagram may be, it isn’t the same as a professional portfolio. Make sure your digital portfolio is easy to access. Asking photographers to input passwords and other permissions is a great way to get passed up. The idea is to promote yourself. You can’t do that if your best promotional tool is hidden.

Print portfolios are the traditional way to share your work with potential clients. While you may not use a print portfolio as frequently as a digital format, they’re nice to have on hand for casting calls or even chance meetings. Print portfolios should be nicely bound in an art portfolio folder. Your photos should be professionally printed in (at least) 8×10 format and 300 dpi, DO NOT use grainy or pixelated images. Starting out you really only need 6 to 12 images in your portfolio, certainly no more than 20. Less is more. Quality is more important than quantity.

Because your portfolio is often your first impression, it is imperative the photos you use are your very best work. You will be judged by your worst photos, not your best. Separate your photos into four categories: bad, good, great, and outstanding. Toss the bad, you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. The good can be used in social media or sent to your grandmother. The great and outstanding make it to your portfolio (they can also be shared with grandmama and Instagram). For print portfolios, set the great photos on the right hand pages and the outstanding on the left where they are most visible.

Be sure to show a good sampling of your work. Anyone can look at you and see you’re beautiful. Your portfolio is to show your versatility as a model. If you’re focused on pin-up work, show lots of different styles: 1940’s noir, cheesecake, old Hollywood glamour, 1920’s flapper, 1930’s starlet, and so on. A mixture of color and black and white images will add interest. Its also a good idea to include both headshots and full body images. Variety is the spice of life, so give your portfolio that WOW factor.

 

Another tool to have on hand is an actual resume. Modeling is a job. Like any other job, you need to present your experience. Just starting out, you may think you don’t have anything to list on a resume. Be creative. Were you active in drama, band or choir in school? What about community theater? Have you done any public speaking? Those all count as experience. You will also want to list your particulars: height, dress size, shoe size, measurements, weight and body type, current hair and eye color, tattoos and piercings, and of course your contact information. A modeling resume is formatted much the same as any other resume, with the addition of a color photo of you in an upper corner.

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Any stage or performance work should be on your resume. I am first and foremost a singer and dancer. All of my performances are listed on my resume, not just the photo shoots.

And there you have it. I do hope you’ve found this week’s lesson informative. When next we meet, I’ll share with you my photo shoot preparation checklist and some very important safety tips. Be sure to subscribe to my diary so you don’t miss any of my Pinup 101 lessons. As always, you may leave questions and comments here, electronic telegram, or via social media (@DollyMarlowe on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook).

XOXO

Dolly Marlowe

How to be the “Perfect” Vintage Housewife

Hello Darlings!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been having a gloriously productive January. Spring fever is starting to set in, so I thought I would take advantage and participate in Apartment Therapy’s The January cure. I can’t begin to describe how much I love it… but I’m going to anyway.

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I very much loathe a household out of order. I can’t think straight surrounded by clutter. I’m not so much a clean freak as I am a person who feels put off by disarray. Spring cleaning, while therapeutic, can also be overwhelming! Where do I start? What needs doing? What am I missing? The January cure has been enormously helpful in guiding me through the process. Without it, I’d probably be scrubbing baseboards with a toothbrush while the rest of my house fell to pieces! But today’s post really isn’t about the January Cure. Today I’d like to share with you my daily tasks as a real life (modern) vintage housewife. But first we need to address the history of the “1950’s housewife” archetype.

The 1950’s Housewife: Symbol of Misogyny… or was she?

Anytime someone brings up “my look” as it relates to misogyny in the before times, my eyes roll (not really, that would be terribly rude). The fact is, popular culture, media, and entertainment have given us this idea that  women of the 1950’s were enslaved in their homes, forced to cater to their husband’s every whim, completely devoid of pleasure or enjoyment. She is a lovely and sad creature. She is The Stepford Wives, Mad Men, and Mona Lisa Smile. Or was she?

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This little image has made it’s rounds on the interwebs for ages. It serves as a reminder as to how awful men and the times were… except it’s a hoax.

The truth is, the 1950’s housewife wasn’t at all unlike women today. My grandmothers, for instance, had jobs. They were divorced and remarried. They lived lives, day to day, like  other women. Then, and now, women make choices. We choose the paths we want to walk. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. Some women marry honorable men, some marry real jerks, some don’t get married at all. Some go to school, some work outside the home, some choose to be homemakers. And while, yes, the role of most women in the before times was that of homemaker, not every woman followed this path. The point is, we should be wary of falling for stereotypes as they are rarely ever true.

How to be the “Perfect” Vintage Housewife

 

Alright, this title is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, poking fun at our vision of the Donna Reed homemaker. Truth is, pigeons, there is no such thing as “perfect”. It doesn’t exist. Striving for an unattainable goal will only make you feel like a failure, so STOP IT! Instead, I like to think of “perfect” more as improved. What am I doing daily to make my home better?

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I will be the first to tell you I am extremely privileged to be a full-time homemaker. While technically self-employed, I consider myself, first and foremost, a homemaker. I had a wonderful career in animal and behavioral sciences spanning 20 years, and when my Mr got his promotion and subsequent transfer, it was the perfect time for me to retire. I tell you this so when you see my daily task list, you don’t freak out. My job is to care for my home. If I worked outside of the home, I wouldn’t get half of these things done! My daily tasks, on paper, look never ending! It looks like I do nothing but scrub and clean, but that isn’t entirely true either. Because I keep up on these tasks every day, I have all kinds of time to indulge in a hobby, take a nap, binge watch a season of whatever on Netflix, and some days skip cleaning entirely. Because I don’t let my house fall apart, taking care of it isn’t too much work at all. I also enlist help. My son has chores. My Mr, even after working a twelve hour day, will pitch in. Nothing in our home is ever viewed as “mom’s job”. When something needs doing, someone does it. Simple as that.

I’ve compiled my daily task list on not only the things related to my home specifically, but also on the myriad of housekeeping and etiquette books I’ve amassed though the years. Keep in mind, my list is tailored to my home and my family. Feel free to use it as inspiration for your own task list. Remember, perfection doesn’t exist. The “perfect” housewife is merely one who cares for her home and the people (and pets) in it.

Dolly Marlowe’s Guide for the “Perfect” Vintage Housewife (pdf)

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XOXO

Dolly Marlowe

 

New Year, New You

Hello Darlings!

The new year is almost here and I am giddy with anticipation. Not because I have any exciting plans, mind you (well, other than the Sherlock season 4 premier). My romantic NYE celebration aboard the Queen Mary plans were waylaid by a very costly auto repair (insert sad face here). No, I am giddy because I love the New Year holiday! I love the hope that comes with the turn of the calendar page. I love the promise of a fresh start. I love new year resolutions!

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Jayne Mansfield counting down the New Year

I know some people do get a bit grumpy about such things: “January 1st is just another day”, “You don’t need a holiday to change your life”, “Things won’t magically get better when the clock strikes midnight”, etc. While those are all very true statements, they ignore the thing that makes the new year so special… community. For this one day in the year, it seems the whole world is looking out to the horizon with eagerness and hope. We can do better, be better, we can make small but meaningful changes in our lives and the lives of others if only we dare to try.

Silly and cliche as it may be, I make New Year’s resolutions every year, and every year I get better and better at keeping them (making them public also helps keep me accountable).

My 2017 New Year’s Resolutions!

  1. Concentrate on my health. Like most people, my past resolutions have been something to the effect of “get in shape”, “lose weight”, etc. Those are great goals, and if they are your goals, I say go for it! For me, however, things aren’t that simple. You see, I live with chronic illness, and as such, my weight can fluctuate quite dramatically throughout the year. I can’t always go to the gym. I can’t always get out of bed! BUT I can focus on making healthier choices both mentally and physically by eating better, exercising everyday (even if its only a few minutes of stretching), clearing out negative influences from my life, focus on personal growth.
  2. Be more productive. This one always manages to make it onto my resolutions list. Maybe because I’m a creative and a perfectionist (a dangerous combination, indeed). I’ve made significant progress in the past, but I’ve also seen a steep decline recently. We moved to a tiny town, in the middle of nowhere, where I don’t know a soul. It can be a little depressing (and boring). When the gloom sets in, I stall out. So I resolve to do something productive everyday, something creative, something active, something constructive, it doesn’t matter as long as I’m doing something.
  3. Explore more. Especially in my new home. Apparently my new little spot on the map is full of rich history: old western mining towns, Nazi spies, classic western filming locations, and even Star Wars was filmed out here. Who knew? Not me, and that’s why I resolve to get out to do some exploring. This will be a tall order for an introvert, but I plan on writing about my adventures, so maybe that will push me over the social hump.
  4. Get organized. This is another one that lands on my list every year, and I have made improvements years past, but again, this move has really thrown a monkey wrench in the works. Nevertheless, I remain undeterred. This will also help me with my other resolutions, so organization will likely forever be on my list.
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The lovely and talented Debbie Reynolds, who we sadly lost this year.

And there you have it. I really do look forward to this coming year, and I hope to share my progress with my readers. What are your resolutions? Any hopes for the new coming year? I’d love to hear about them.

Happy New Year!

XOXO

Dolly Marlowe

Holiday Greeting Etiquette

Hello Darlings!

Now that Hallowe’en is over, my thoughts wander to family feasts, snow, and sugar plums. As joyful as the holidays are for many people, there are also some humbugs out there. Between the over commercializing of Christmas, Black Friday extended into Thanksgiving, and some very recent political ugliness in the US (and abroad), I thought this would be an excellent time to talk about holiday greeting etiquette.

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For the last few years there have been a number of silly controversies popping up, from the color and style of coffee cups to exactly what greetings people are allowed to offer to wether or not there is a cultural war on Christmas. I honestly believe these controversies are given life because too many people are unaware there are actual standards of etiquette that go along with the holidays, well, that and some people could benefit from a hobby.

So, let’s discuss appropriate holiday greetings. Its important to remember there are many holidays reflecting many religions and cultures during the latter part of the year. Good manners dictates we be mindful of the person we are greeting. The greetings we offer are for them, not us.

 

What to Say to Whom

Verbal greetings are by far the trickiest of the holiday greetings. Unlike cards, we offer verbal greetings to everyone, friend and stranger alike. Because holidays are rooted in religious and cultural traditions, holiday greetings for strangers take a moderate amount of presumption. Some presumptions are safe, others not so much.

Before Thanksgiving, usually starting the week of, I say “Happy holidays” because I am including the pending holiday of Thanksgiving as well as the following holidays of Christmas and the New Year. A simple “Happy Thanksgiving” is also appropriate. Most Americans observe Thanksgiving in some fashion, and because it is the cultural norm, it is an appropriate greeting for friends and strangers.

Once Thanksgiving is over, we then greet with the coming holidays in mind. Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Al-Hijira, Ashura, and Yule are all observed at the end of the Gregorian calendar year, making greetings to a stranger a bit more difficult. Remember, your greeting is for the benefit of the person to whom you are speaking, so it should speak to their point of view.

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There are some things we can safely presume. If you live in the western world, Christmas is the predominant holiday. In modern times Christmas has taken on a more secular role in society. I come from a multi-faith family (Christian and Jewish). Many of my Jewish family members  send Christmas gifts, have a Christmas tree, and so on. To them, Christmas is more of an American cultural holiday than a Christian one. The majority of the American population observes the Christmas holiday in some way, whether it be religious, secular, or a mixture of both. It is ,therefor, perfectly fine to wish someone a “Merry Christmas” if there is no obvious indication the person you are greeting celebrates something else.

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The Kwanzaa Kinara

If you do see an obvious indication that Christmas is not the holiday they observe, feel free to greet them with something specific to their worldview. For instance, if you meet a man wearing a yarmulke, it’s ok to wish him a “Happy Chanukah”. It is worth noting the Jewish yarmulke and the Muslim taqiyah may look similar to those unfamiliar with those particular headpieces. When in doubt, a friendly “Happy holidays” is good option as well as the non-holiday related “Have a nice day”. Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Al-Hijira, Ashura, and Yule are their own holidays with their own religious and cultural significance. They are not stand-ins for Christmas and should not be treated as such.The thing you certainly do NOT want to do is assume a holiday preference based on a person’s color or ethnicity! Do not assume because a person is black they celebrate Kwanzaa. Likewise offering up a “Happy Chanukah” to someone because they “look Jewish” is deeply offensive. Again, the greeting isn’t for you, it’s for them.

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A Finnish Yule Card

Offenses

What if you are the person offended by a misguided greeting? Suck it up. No, really. Most people don’t mean any offense when they say the wrong thing and should not be punished or made to feel embarrassed for it. Etiquette is all about making those around us feel comfortable. You can either graciously accept the greeting and return it or offer something neutral like, “Happy holidays” instead. NEVER reprimand or admonish a greeting and NEVER use a greeting as a verbal weapon, EVER! If you do, YOU are the Grinch, no one else.

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How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

Last year I was doing some Christmas shopping when I overheard a cashier give out a cheerful greeting, the woman to whom she was speaking promptly snatched her receipt from the cashier and snapped, “It’s (insert holiday here)!”. **Im intentionally leaving out the exact exchange for two reasons. #1. It doesn’t matter, slide in any number of greetings and retorts, but the outcome is still the same. The person rebuking the greeting was in the wrong. She was rude. Period. #2. I don’t want your personal bias, and we are all of us biased, to taint the way you view the transaction. A friendly, but (unintentionally) incorrect greeting was offered. It was rebuked. While the greeting may have been incorrect, there was no malice. The rebuke, however was full of malice, and therefor the one that violates the laws good manners. 

What if you have inadvertently offended someone? Apologize as you would any other time, even if the other party is behaving in a particularly nasty way, still offer up a sincere apology. “I’m terribly sorry. I meant no offense. I hope you have a very (happy, merry, etc)…” is a nice way to defuse a potentially uncomfortable situation. Don’t flog yourself. Apologize, smile, and them move on.

The holidays are meant to be a time of generosity and goodwill to our fellow man. We can all do our bit by just being friendly. I hope your holidays are full of laughter, good food, and good cheer.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours.

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Lighting the menorah with my little boy.

XOXO

Dolly Marlowe