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Happy New Year! A Guide to Making Resolutions and Keeping Them.

Happy New Year Darlings!

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Happy New Year!

 

If you’ve been following me long enough you’re already aware of my fondness for the new year holiday. If not, let me tell you it is one of my favorites! I love starting fresh, setting new goals, revisiting past ones, and looking forward to the year to come. I know there are a lot of you out there who dread the idea of resolution making. Maybe you’re afraid of failure, perhaps you dislike the idea of ritual goal setting, or maybe the winter blues has got you in a funk? But truly, new year resolutions are a healthy and fun way to set your year up for success and help snap you out of a dreary mindset. I myself suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is maddening for someone of a generally cheerful disposition. One of the things that has shown itself to be most therapeutic for me is resolution making. So, please allow me to share with you my 2018 resolutions along with my tips for making them stick.

#1 Set Actual Goals

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Art by Bill Randall

Goals, I mean real attainable goals, are definable, quantifiable, and timely. Think about the things you want to achieve in the next year, but be specific and realistic. 

Define your goal. If you can’t explain what it is that you want, how in the world do you expect to achieve it?

Is it quantifiable? Can you measure it? “Finding happiness” is not measurable. Abstract goals are not goals at all, they’re moods. Following the abstract is a recipe for failure. Instead, think of things that would make you happy: spending more time with your family, gardening, starting a new hobby, quit smoking, and so on. These are things that can be defined and broken down into achievable steps.

Is it attainable? We are told since childhood to “dream big!”, “shoot for the stars!”, and while there is some merit to that, there is also folly. When I was a wee lass in my first tap (dance) class, I dreamed of being a Radio City Rockette, but that dream would never come to pass no matter how hard I trained because at 5’2″, I am just too short. There is absolutely nothing I can do to change that. Some goals just can’t be reached, and setting them only to fail time and again is detrimental to the psyche. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t set similar attainable goals. Maybe I can’t be a Rockette, but I can (and did) become a professional dancer. Maybe professional dancer is out of your reach for whatever reason, but taking a dance class is not, or maybe it is too much right now, but buying a dance lesson on DVD or following FREE YouTube tutorials is absolutely doable!

Is it timely: Ugh, I know! Everyone hates a deadline, probably because we approach them all wrong. Deadlines are necessary in actually achieving our goals. If we don’t set timelines, our goals fade away into that abstract abyss, forever out of reach. How depressing is that?! Very. So, learn to love a deadline. We do that by making them realistic. “Loose 20 lbs in a week” isn’t very realistic, in fact it’s downright dangerous! But, “loose 20 lbs in 3 to 6 months” is realistic. *Disclaimer: always check with your doctor before starting any weight loss or exercise program (wink)* The point is, deadlines only work if they are realistic, and goals are only reached if we implement deadlines.

 

#2 Get Organized

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This is but a small sampling of my journal collection.

Lists! I love lists! I have piles and piles of notebooks, planners, binders, and files for everything. Staples is one of my favorite places on Earth! I just love to sit down with a cup of tea, and write out all my plans for whatever it is I’m doing. Some of my lists are straight forward bullet points, some are artistic collages, some are scattered brainstorming, but they all make it out of my head and onto the page so I can see what needs doing.

Get yourself an notebook or planner or cork board and set out your goals. Remember to define them, write out the necessary steps to achieve said goal, and give yourself a timeline. I like to also leave some space for a bit of journaling. Sometimes a goal becomes unrealistic and I need to try again later. If I write down why, I’m better equipped the next time I try. I also like to give myself praise for steps I’ve made and mini-goals I’ve reached. Positive reinforcement will motivate you unlike anything else will.

#3 Get Going!

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Ann Miller

I’m a firm believer in the “fake it til you make it” philosophy. Little factoid about yours truly, I suffer from a chronic illness called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. There is no treatment, there is no cure, it’s just a thing I must deal with on a day to day basis. I don’t always feel like being productive (or even getting out of bed). I don’t always have the energy to exercise or cook or garden or to do any of the things that I love, and one of the nasty little side effects to that is depression. If I let it, all of those things will snowball into an awful existence. So, I get up and push through. Some days more than others, but every day I make an earnest effort, even when I don’t feel like it. Even when some days I feel like a fraud. Even when I’m too tired. Just making the effort to start, to take those next steps, makes each effort easier and easier. I’m not one for motivational sayings, but it really is true “Procrastination is the thief of time”. (I’ve no idea who said that. I likely saw it on a coffee mug somewhere).

My 2018 New Year’s Resolutions!

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Marilyn Monroe was an avid reader and had an impressive library.

Read more – I love to read, but didn’t make much time for it last year (though I did finish one book *pats self on back). This year I’d like to make bedtime reading a nightly ritual, eventually working it in to some daytime indulgences.

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Art by Gil Elvgren

Get in shape! – Ugh! This one. 2017 was not kind to me in terms of physical and mental health. So this coming year, I endeavor to bring my health back to acceptable levels. I’m still working out the details, so I’m short on specifics, but I know the steps I need to take. The end result is up to my body, and I’m willing to let the chips fall where they may. I know I don’t like feeling sluggish and weak, so that’s my goal, not so much the numbers on a scale. Maybe I’ll share this journey… or maybe I won’t. Are there too many health and fitness blogs out there already?

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Art by Pearl Frush

The January Cure – A new year ritual for me, spring cleaning in the winter. Every year I join Apartment Therapy’s January Cure. It’s a weekly deep cleaning and home organization challenge for the month of, you guessed it, January! Each task is doable and not too time consuming. Some tasks take the weekend, some take 10 minutes. If you find yourself drowning in clutter, or you just want to spruce up the olde domicile, I HIGHLY recommend joining.

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This lady’s kitchen is everything!

Write more letters – I love snail mail. I love sending hand written letters and receiving them. For some reason, when we moved house, I just dropped off the face of the earth. I never mailed our change of address cards, and as such lost touch with a lot of my friends and family. So, this year, I’m going to make the effort to send at least one note or letter a month (see what I did there? A quantifiable, timely goal!)

And there you have it. Some of my New Year’s resolutions (I do have more. Some are too personal to share, and some are holdovers from last year that need revisiting), and a few tips on making your resolutions successful. I do hope you’ve found this post helpful and at least a little inspirational. Let me know what your resolutions are. I’d love to hear your plans for the new year!

XOXO

Dolly Marlowe

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Apple Cider Vinegar Toner

Hello Darlings!

 

I’ve been asked time and time again to share my skincare ritual, and seeing how I celebrated my 40th birthday last month, I think that’s a splendid idea! But before I get into all that, I thought I’d first share a recipe for my go-to, all natural, organic, apple cider vinegar toner.

Apple cider vinegar has a long list of beneficial uses: from weight loss, to skin care, medicinal purposes, cleaning and disinfecting, teeth whitening, I could go on forever. Thanks to my grandmother’s expert tutelage, I’ve been using ACV for ages. My favorite use, as I’ll share with you today is as a skin toner.

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Rich in alpha hydroxyl acids, ACV does a swell job in reducing the look of pores, fine lines, and wrinkles. It’s antiseptic properties help prevent and treat acne (including blackheads). It lightens discoloration caused by acne scars, sunspots, and age spots. But best of all, ACV actually improves skin tone and texture, all for around $5 every few months. Just think of all the money you’ll save ditching the expensive store bought toners! You’ve got better plans for that cash anyway… like shoes!

The Recipe:

1 part Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar

2 parts water

a clean glass jar

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Simply divide your jar, whatever size, into thirds. Fill 1/3 up with the Braggs ACV (yes, use the Braggs, it’s raw, unfiltered, organic ACV, and only about $5 for a bottle that will last you MONTHS). Then, fill the rest with filtered water. That’s it!

Directions for use:

**If you have sensitive skin, go slow. ACV can be drying at first. Use once to twice a week for a couple of weeks, working your way up to everyday or even twice daily.

  1. Wash your face with a gentle facial cleanser and pat dry with a soft, clean towel.
  2. Shake your jar of ACV toner, then dip a cotton ball or pad in the solution.
  3. Swipe it all over your face, neck, and décolletage. Be sure to swipe under your eyes where we tend to collect wrinkles, but DO NOT GET IT IN YOUR EYES! (It burns, Precious, it burns!)

As the solution evaporates, the fumes tend to irritate the eyes. I like to take this time to close my eyes and relax a bit. Skincare time is me time, so I do like to soak it up.

Fair warning, ACV stinks like, well, vinegar. The odor will go away, usually by the time I’ve finished with my entire skincare ritual (more on that at a later date).

I can honestly say of all the products I’ve tried, nothing comes close to my ACV toner. Try it for a few weeks and tell me what you think!

 

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

 

Every Day is like Sundae…Shoes

Hello Darlings!

Pardon the bad pun in the title, but I just couldn’t resist. I’m so very excited to share with you a fun make-do-and-mend project. If you’re not familiar with “make-do-and-mend”, it’s just an old fashioned term for DIY, and I love me some DIY especially when it combines sweets and shoes!

This project comes from fellow vintage living blogger, Miss Amy May. If you’re not currently subscribed to her blog or following her on social media, I highly recommend you do so. I had never heard of Shoe Bakery until I read Amy’s post. While their shoes are adorable works of art, they’re a little over the top for my taste. I’m a “less is more” kind of gal. The shoes that I really fell in love with were the ones Amy made herself, and so I decided to take a crack at making a pair.

I don’t wan’t to reinvent the wheel, so I’m just going to link back to the original post here, plus add a few things I did differently, and share my supply list for the American crowd. So, without further adieu, I give you my version of Miss Amy May’s version of Shoe Bakery’s   Ice Cream Sundae shoes.

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I love the added texture and color from the jimmies. Maybe the next pair will have rainbow sprinkles?

 

Supplies

  • Shoes you’d like to decorate (For an ice cream cone look, you’ll want nude or tan shoes with an exposed platform)
  • Calking gun
  • White silicone calk (I used HDX brand from Home Depot)
  • Wax paper
  • Butter knife or cheese spreader (one you will not be using again)
  • “Chocolate Jimmies” clay sprinkles (I purchased mine on Etsy)
  • Cherries (you can find these at Walmart, Michael’s, or Hobby Lobby)
  • Masking or electrical tape
  • Piping tips (I used the medium star shape. Again, these will not be used for food…ever)
  • Toothpick or bamboo skewer
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Q-tip
  • Modge Podge (Gloss and Outdoor respectively)
  • Fine red glitter
  • Paint brushes with synthetic bristles

Directions Part 1:

I basically followed Amy’s tutorial with a few exceptions:

  • I used wax paper instead of news paper for my work surface.
  • Because I don’t have the most steady of hands (translation: I’m a colossal klutz), I taped off the edges of my shoes where I didn’t want the calking to get to. This made clean up much easier…and I still made a mess.
  • The Q-tips and rubbing alcohol are for clean up. If you smudge, spill, or otherwise get calking where you don’t want it, clean it up before it dries.
  • I also taped my piping tip directly to my calking tube as I was fresh out of pastry bags.
  • When the calk was still wet, I sprinkled on my jimmies and then used a bamboo skewer to gently push them into the calk for a better hold.
  • Finally, I painted over the calked bits with outdoor Mod Podge. I wanted to be sure I could wipe my shoes clean if needed and the Mod Podge helps keep my jimmies in place.

Directions Part 2:

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I love the added sparkle and pop of color the glitter adds, but a week later, and I’m still cleaning it up! Though it has stayed on my shoes remarkably well.

For this bit I followed a tutorial for glitter soles I found on Pinterest. There were a lot of them, and they all used the same method. You want to be sure your calking and Mod Podge are completely dry before doing this bit. Once glitter gets onto a wet surface, there’s no going back! I also taped off the “whipped cream” bit to keep it as clean as possible. Or, even better still, do the glitter soles first, then do the frosting part.

One thing I notice was that the glitter and Mod Podge did tend to get a bit clumpy.While I don’t mind how it turned out, next time I think I’ll just do the single coat of glitter without going over it again.

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I’m going to be designing a lot more outfits around these shoes.

And there you have it! Adorable custom shoes that will have everyone begging to know where you bought them. How gratifying will it be to say, “I didn’t buy them, I made them”?!

I’d love to see what you come up with. Tag me in your Sundae Shoes images on instagram!

XOXO

Dolly Marlowe

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Lover’s Sugar Scrub

Hello Darlings!

If you recall last week I shared my base sugar scrub recipe. Well, today I’d like to share a yummy variation…chocolate! This is essentially a fudge recipe made into a scrub. Not only does it smell delicious, but it’s also edible. Do with that what you will.

*(insert winky smily face here)

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Add a bow and a tag to make this scrub sweet gift.

Chocolate Lover’s Sugar Scrub

Supplies

  • 1/2 heaping cup of raw sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder (don’t over do it or you’ll end up orange)
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • *optional gift tag (you can find the heart I used here)
DollyMarloweChocolateLoversSugarScrubIngredients

Simple and natural ingredients

Directions

  1. Combine sugars
  2. add in vanilla extract and cocoa powder
  3. fold in coconut oil
  4. mix until ingredients are evenly combined
  5. scoop into a jar for storage

All the decadence of chocolate with out the calories…unless you eat it.

XOXO

Dolly Marlowe

(Not So Basic) Basic Sugar Scrub

Hello Darlings!

I work with my hands…a lot! Between gardening, sewing, working with animals, cooking, then washing my hands after all of that, my skin starts to feel like sandpaper. No matter how much lotion I apply, it never really softens my hands. I love the scrubs from stores like Bath and Bodyworks and Basin, but I don’t like added chemicals or the hefty price tags. My mother, genius that she is, suggested we make our own, and so we did.

This recipe is exceedingly simple, one can add any number of essential oils or botanicals to create a customized scrub. All of the components for the base recipe can be found at the local grocer. Here are a few tips before we start:

  • Use the best ingredients you can afford. This scrub will be absorbed into your skin, so organic is best. Also, you’ll feel the difference in the quality of sugars you use.
  • While you can use other oils like olive or almond, I find that coconut oil not only leaves my hands the softest, but also no greasy film.
  • Coconut oil will go from solid to liquid depending on ambient temperatures. If your oil is in a solid form, just place the jar in hot water until it softens up.
  • If you’re reusing a jar from your pantry, wash it really well and then boil the jar and lid before filling it with your new scrub, and dry them well. Water and food particles (ewe) can cause your scrub to mold (again, ewe).

Alright then. Ready? Let’s get started!

DollyMarloweBasicSugarScrub

Three ingredient recipe. That’s it! Unless you want to add extra bits.

Supplies

  • 1/2 HEAPING cup of raw cane sugar
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • a jar with a tight fitting lid
  • mixing bowl, rubber spatula, metal spoon

Directions

  1. Add sugars to the mixing bowl.
  2. Fold in coconut oil.
  3. Add in essential oils and botanicals if you’d like, or just keep it fragrance free.
  4. Continue mixing until the scrub has a sort of wet sand consistency.
  5. Use a metal spoon to scoop the scrub into a clean jar.

And there you have it, a basic recipe you can use for all your scrub needs. These make lovely little gifts for friends, family, or yourself!

I hope you enjoy!

XOXO

Dolly Marlowe