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DIY Boston Tea Stain Bunting

Hello Darlings!

As July marches forward, and I start itching for autumn, I have to remind myself to linger in summer just a while longer. July in particular puts me in a patriotic mood. To be  quite honest, I’m always in a patriotic mood, but July seems like a good time to share a little star spangled DIY with you.

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Not to sound contrary, but I’ve always had an affinity for the British style of patriotic decor. It seems for almost every national occasion, and even private ones, our cousins across the pond hang adorable Union Jack buntings. There is something wonderfully nostalgic in that! Being the red-blooded all American girl that I am, I wanted to create that same nostalgia when rooting for my home team. The problem was where to begin? The good old US of A is very much a modern nation with eyes drawn forward. And while that is wonderful for innovation, it hardly serves the quaint and homespun feel I longed for. So, as with most things in life, I look to the past, colonial New England to be exact. Here’s my little How To for your own Boston Teas Stain Patriotic Bunting.

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Supplies

Bunting (I purchased mine at Home Depot)

Black tea (I went with the giant box of the cheap stuff as I wasn’t drinking it)

Coffee grounds (optional, but gives a wonderful spotting effect)

A large pot

Tongs

Large baking sheet

Instructions

 

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Step 1: Gather up your bags of tea. I used 6 to 8 bags per bunting.

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Step 2: Fill a large pot 3/4 of the way full with water. Add teabags and bring to a boil. Add the bunting to the tea. Allow to boil for 2 to 3 minutes, then let it sit in the solution for a few hours. I let mine sit overnight.

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STEP 3: Remove the bunting from the tea solution with tongs and place it on a baking sheet. CAUTION! The bunting will be hot! If you want a more rustic look, spread used coffee grounds on the bunting and let it dry. Rinse the coffee grounds off the bunting in cold water. CAUTION! Coffee grounds are toxic  to pets, so keep the critters away from your workspace.

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Step 4: Lay out your bunting to dry on an old towel or something you don’t mind inadvertently staining. While it is still a little damp, iron out the wrinkles whilst pressing in the pleats.

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Step 6: Hang and enjoy. I keep my buntings up most of the year, only taking them down for autumn and winter decorating.

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A few helpful hints: To get a really rustic and aged look, add a dry bunting to the boiling tea solution, and allow some bits to peek out of the liquid. For an more uniform look, wet the bunting first, then keep it fully submerged in the tea. You can put a rock or brick on it if it tends to float up. If you’d like to wash your bunting before hanging it, do so on a cold gentle cycle, and lay flat to dry. You can also repeat the staining process until you get the look you want.

I’d love to see what you create! Comment with a photo or share with me via electronic telegraph (I think the kids are calling it Twitter, or some such nonsense).

XOXO

Dolly Marlowe

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Celebrating f-READ-om with Read Naked Day

**This post contains adult content, is NSFW, and only meant for those 18 and over. 

Hello darlings!

Happy Independence Day to my fellow Americans, and no hard feelings to my British pals (insert cheeky wink here). While we in The States turn a sentimental eye to July 4, 1776, I’d like to chat a bit about another celebration of independence taking place on July 5th… Read Naked DayI know, I know, there seems to be a random and obscure holiday for every little thing these days, but Read Naked Day is a little different. Though not a national holiday in the traditional sense, it is one which has international significance. I, for one, am delighted the lovely ladies of Naked Girls Reading dreamed it up. Let us settle in for some story time, shall we?

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Once upon a time,

Reading was a privilege reserved only for the wealthy and noble. Indeed, even owning a book could be a death sentence. Reading and education have always been dangerous to oppressive regimes, and there are still parts of the world where books are non existent, or where owning certain books means prison, torture, or even execution. History is full of heroes who risked life and limb to bring books to the masses. Reading is a radical act of liberation.

Today we are spoiled beyond comprehension. Books can be found in tiny corner stores, massive super centers, colossal book stores, used book shops, and public libraries. And yet, reading has fallen out of fashion. We make excuses about not having time to read, despite spending hours watching the boob-tube or playing video games. We complain about books not being interesting enough, despite there being a book on every topic under the sun and beyond the stars. And the book industry has tried its best to adapt. We live with our eyes constantly affixed to phone screens, so books became electronic. But in a world of click-bait stories and 280 character limits, is the age of the paper book over?

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A book I read frequently, and find terrifying each time I do, Dracula by Bram Stoker. I love the Barnes and Noble Classics books. Classic literature titles ranging from $5 to $25.

Not today! No, today darlings, I am here to convince you to pick up a book, a real paper book, and read… and get naked in the process. Why? Because by holding a book, you are making a sensual connection to the literary work. You feel the delicate paper pages in your grasp. You smell that wonderful telltale fragrance of library paste. You see the black lettering on the ivory pages. You hear the voices of the characters in your head so vividly that any movie production of your beloved book pales in comparison to the scenes of your imagination.

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Lounging in the buff and reading Zelda: A Biography by Nancy Milford

 

So why the nudity? Well, Again, Read Naked Day is about the sensual and tactile. Shedding your garments while you laze on the divan, book in hand, is decadent in thought and deed. It is a declaration that you have no place to go, and are content to spend your time curled up with a book, completely ignoring the demands of the outside world. As they say on the Read Naked Day website, “We should set aside time, set the stage, treat books like lovers…”

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One of my favorite reads, Good Reasoning Matters: A Constructive Approach to Critical Thinking, Third Edition by Leo A. Groarke and Christopher W. Tindale. A highly recommended book in the era of “fake news”. Possibly share this title with your aunt who loves to post articles on Facebook without ever reading them. No judgements.

So, pick up a book, drop your drawers, and celebrate Read Naked Day!

XOXO

Dolly Marlowe

Keeping Your Furbabies Safe this 4th of July

Hello Darlings!

Today I’m going to take a break from my usual vintage living ramblings to touch on a subject near and dear to my heart. Relax, nothing political. Today I am going to share how you can make this Independence Day, or any fireworks celebration, a little easier on your beloved furbabies. Have I mentioned I am a, now retired, Applied Animal Behaviorist? Throughout my near 20 year career one thing I always tried to impress upon my clients was to be prepared. If you live in areas prone to natural disasters, have a plan and a supply box for your pets. Firework celebrations are no different. With some simple preparations, you and your pet can have a relatively stress-free 4th of July. But first, some all important statistics.

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  • More dogs are lost on the 4th of July than any other day of the year.
  • Shelters report up to a 30% increase in stray animal intake on July 5th.
  • Because of the way sounds travel, and the amount of fireworks going off in different neighborhoods, dogs running from noise can easily become lost and disoriented, finding themselves miles and miles from home.
  • Many lost dogs don’t make it back home because they are picked up miles away and sent to shelters in different towns from where they live. Their families simply don’t think to check shelters in the entire surrounding area.
  • Veterinarians see dogs with a wide variety of injuries during this holiday: lacerations from jumping through windows, torn paw pads from running, dehydration, broken teeth, lacerated lips from frantic chewing to escape.

**This is not a sponsored post. The products I link to are products I have used and referred to my clients over the years, and Petco is just where I happen to shop (they also don’t breed discriminate like some places *cough*petsmart*cough*.

So how can you protect your precious pooch this Independence Day? Simple, preparation.

Stay Home

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Ugh! I know, I know. You want to got to a BBQ, or pool party, or stadium fireworks show. But if after all that frivolity, you come home to find your  home ripped up, your dog seriously injured or even missing, would you still think going out was worth it? Get creative and find ways to celebrate at home. Your dog will certainly appreciate it.

Boarding and Daycare 

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My neighbor’s dog, Pepper, is a frequent guest at Chez Marlowe. She’ll be with us over the 4th while her dad is watching the fireworks.

If you really must go out, have your dog board with a reputable boarding facility. Most facilities fill up around holidays, so book in advance. Also make sure your pet is current on their vaccinations. Inquire as to what vaccinations the facility requires their guest pooches to have, and plan accordingly.

A dog sitter is another option if you aren’t comfortable with sending your dog away or if the boarding facilities are full. Just be sure they are well versed in caring for frightened dogs. And with any animal care giver, ask for references and a tour of where your dog will be staying.

Update I.D.

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Dog Tags aren’t just for soldiers! Make sure your dog is wearing up-to-date identification.

 

Make sure your dog is wearing identification tags with your current contact information as well as an alternate contact. Many people won’t stop to help a dog without tags. They assume the dog may be feral or don’t want to take on the responsibility of a dog with no contact information or owner.

Having your dog microchipped is also a good idea, but again, be sure to register their chip and keep that information updated. Microchips are not only identification, but can also serve as proof of ownership if the need arises. Collars and tags can sometimes be lost or removed, but microchips are forever.

*having “needs medication” or “special needs” printed on your dog’s tags is a great way to discourage would-be dog thieves or over zealous good samaritans from keeping your lost dog. A dog that “needs medication” or is “special needs” certainly isn’t free, and has a family that loves and cares for them. A little incentive to return Fido rather than keeping him.

Chill Pills

There are a variety of prescriptions and over the counter supplements you can give your dog to take the edge off. It is imperative you follow the directions, and the advice of your veterinarian before giving your dog anything. For some animals, an exam and blood panel may be required before your veterinarian will prescribe any medications. I personally give my dogs a natural supplement called Quiet Moments. I find it works well for dogs with mild to moderate noise phobias.

*Remember to never leave a sedated animal alone for any length of time.

Safe Space

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Where are your parents?!

Give your dog a nice safe space to hide during the fireworks. Bathrooms and walk-in closets work nicely as they blot out a lot of noise and are generally dark and cool. Make sure your dog has a nice soft bed with blankets to fluff or hide under, plenty of water, and something to focus on like a great chew, treat dispenser, or stuffed Kong toy. Add a little classical music to help soothe their nerves. A study done by the Scottish SPCA showed that playing classical music had a short-term calming effect on kenneled dogs. I find Mozart to be particularly light and soothing.

Secure Yard and Home

Go around your yard and home to make sure doors are closed, gates are locked and there are no areas where your dog can escape. Do not let your dog outside unattended. Likewise, if you’re hosting guests, kindly remind them to not let the dog out. A frightened dog will take any opportunity to escape. It only takes a second for your dog to bolt out of an open door.

Buckle Up for Safety

The Umbilical Method is one of my favorite dog training stratagies. Simply attach a 6′ leash to your dog and to your belt with a carabiner which can be purchased just about anywhere. Wherever you go, so does your dog and vice versa.

Don’t Bring Your Dog

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American Bulldog, Blanche Devereaux, is the official mascot of The Pinup Patriettes. She goes to many fund raising events to show our veterans some love, but if fireworks are on the agenda, Blanche stays home. Photo by Margo Moriarty 

If you’re tempted to bring your dog with you to the festivities, reconsider. Dogs have heightened senses of sight, sound, and smell. Fireworks are a blinding deafening sensory overload that your best friend will not enjoy.

Act Natural

You may be tempted to coddle and fret over your frightened pooch, but do your best not to. Coddling is a reinforcing behavior that may make the problem worse. Think of it as telling your dog “Good boy/girl! Yes, be afraid. Good dog.” Not terribly effective. Instead, act natural. Show your fur baby there is nothing to fear. Talk to you dog in soft soothing tones without reinforcing their fears.

Don’t Overestimate Your Dog’s Cool

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Even the bravest dog can surprise you. 

I was giving a community lecture on this very topic a few years ago when an audience member came up to me to assure me that nothing I said applied to his dog who was “super chill and cool about everything”. I ran into him a few weeks later at a shelter I volunteered for. He was looking for his lost dog who ran away during the fireworks.

Don’t just assume that your dog won’t develop a phobia to fireworks. Dogs learn by association, and we cannot control the associations they make or when they make them. Your dog may just surprise you one year, with tragic results.

And with that, I wish you a very happy Independence Day! We will return with our regularly scheduled vintage shenanigans when next we meet.

XOXO

Dolly Marlowe

 

 

DIY Sisal Rope Coasters

IMG_1268Hello Darlings!

Summer is here in the Southern California desert. With the temperatures exceeding 100*, I’ve always got a cold beverage on hand. Where cold drinks go, a coaster must follow. The problem is, most coasters I’ve found can’t keep up with the exorbitant amount of sweat an iced beverage produces. What’s the point of going to the trouble of using a coaster if it doesn’t protect precious furniture from unsightly rings, stains, and warping? That is why I decided to make my own super absorbent, but not soggy, sisal rope coasters. I made about nine of these little beauties in the span of an hour. I’d love to show you how to make your own as well. But first, a few notes:

*I chose sisal because it had a nice rustic farm look that seemed to fit nicely with the vintage French farmhouse, craftsman, victorian estate, English cottage, colonial America, haunted mansion vibe of my home. You can use any kind of rope your heart desires!

*Get creative! Along with different types of rope, you can paint your coaters (use a fabric paint impervious to water), and add designs or monograms.

*Your backing can be any type of porous material, just be sure it is soft enough to keep from scratching surfaces. I used felt because it’s what I had on hand. I wanted to use cork, but alas, I didn’t have any. Make do and mend is my philosophy.

*Glue guns are hot. You will inevitably be burned by one. Maybe not today, maybe not with this project, but soon and for the rest of your relationship with hot glue crafting.

*To clean up extra glue, you can either smooth it down with your fingers while it is still soft (my method of choice, complete with screaming and cursing), or apply heat from a blowdryer or iron and let the glue settle into the rope.

*Also, pardon the poor picture quality. I decided to start this project at eight o’clock PM, and my parlor’s mood lighting isn’t exactly made for crafting.

INSTRUCTIONS

Step 1: Gather your supplies. You’ll need a spool of rope (I found mine at Home Depot for about $8). Natural fibers like sisal, manila, or cotton will all work nicely. You’ll also need a hot glue gun with plenty of glue, scissors, tape, felt or cork backing, a sharpie marker, and a round template.

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Step 2: Lay your backing fabric, henceforth known as “felt”, on top of your template, and trace the desired shape and size on to the felt. I made my coasters a little on the large side as my Mr. likes big oversized glasses, whilst I prefer more delicate vintage glasses.

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Step 3: Cut out your circles. They needn’t be perfect, but try to keep a uniform shape. I doubled my felt to be extra sure it would be sturdy and absorbent enough, so if you do the same, remember to double the amount of felt circles as coasters you’re making.

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Step 4: (optional) If you’re doubling the felt bottoms, run a line of glue along the very edge of one felt circle. Then, place the second circle on top of it, carefully pressing the edges together.

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Notice where my cat decided to rub his tail on my glue gun and left some fur behind. Do not fret, no kitties were harmed in the making of these coasters.

Step 5: Fold the circle into quarters (half, and then half again). Place a dab of glue, or use your Sharpie to mark the center point. This will keep your rope curl even.

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First coaster, and I’ve already got glue all over my hands!

Step 6: Carefully place a dab of glue on the end of the rope, and then curl it onto itself. Keep gluing and curling until you have a single row coil.

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Step 7: Add a healthy amount of glue to the center of your prepared felt circle. Press your coil onto that. Hold it in place until the glue dries.

Step 8: Apply a generous amount of glue along the rope coil and felt. Don’t be shy with the glue! The idea is to have it grab the felt, coil, and new lengths of rope. Repeat this step until you have completely covered the felt circles. Remember to press and hold the coil in place as the glue dries. The rope will want to snap back to it’s original shape, and you certainly don’t want that!

Step 9: Wrap a piece of tape at the point where you want the coil to end. Cut in the center of the taped portion at a diagonal with the long side against the coil tapering outward. Dab a bit of glue at the end of the cut pieces, keeping the rope from unraveling. Remove the tape.

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Step 10: Glue the last bit of rope to the coil. And you’re done! Enjoy your coasters and stain-free tables.

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I do hope you enjoy your lovely little coasters. As always, drop me a line via electronic post or telegram (twitter) with any questions or requests.

XOXO

Dolly Marlowe

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

My Favorite (not so) Scary Films

Hello Darlings!

If you’re like me and find modern hard-core horror films less than entertaining, have I got a treat for you! With Autumn upon us and Halloween just around the corner, I do enjoy slipping into a seasonal kind of mood. And though the last few days here in sunny Southern California have been more sultry than crisp, I revel in decorating, comfort foods, and the quintessential scary movie!

Photo courtesy of the lovely and talented Margo von Pigtails

While I love a good fright as much as the next gal, I am admittedly far too squeamish for the whole guts and gore scene. So, for a (mild) fun scare that won’t keep you up all night like a terrified little kid, please peruse My Favorite Vintage (not so) Scary Films for the Faint of Heart:

Caveat: These films are listed in no particular order… I love each and every one equally.

Bell, Book, and Candle

1958

Starring Jimmy Stewart, Kim Novak, Jack Lemmon, Elsa Lanchester

Alright, so this film isn’t remotely frightening. It is a light, quirky love story, and it’s completely adorable! Gillian Holroyd (Kim Novak)  is a modern gal living the NYC life… with one difference, she’s a witch! When she meets handsome publisher, Shep Henderson (Jimmy Stewart), she decides she wants him for her own and casts a love spell. Now, I’m not going to sing the praises of the cinematography or any other such highbrow hoodoo. I will just say that this film is fun and colorful. Novak and Stewart are enchanting. This is my go-to Fall movie when I’m feeling girlie and want to paint my nails or bake some sort of Halloween treat. I recently purchased a copy at my local Target for a measly $7 after my DVR mysteriously erased the TCM version I had recorded.

*On a side note: This was the last “leading man” role Stewart ever played. He and Novak had just wrapped Vertigo when they did Bell, Book, and Candle. He was 50 years old and Kim Novak was 25. Apparently the love scenes left the dignified Mr. Stewart feeling like a dirty old man, and he vowed to only play roles befitting his age with costars his age.

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Watch the trailer here

Freaks

1932

Starring Harry Earles, Daisy Earles, Olga Baclanova, and Wallace Ford

This film is quite possibly the ONLY thing Rob Zombie and I have in common! Technically speaking, this cinematic treasure can be regarded as an exploitation film, though I find it less exploitive and more empowering. Side-show little person, Hans (Harry Earles) becomes infatuated with the beautiful trapeze artist Cleopatra (Olga Baclanova). When she and her (full size) lover find out Hans has a huge inheritance, they hatch a plot of scandalous matrimony and murder. The thing that I love about this film is that the “freaks” aren’t so freaky. They are portrayed as real people with real lives, and the whole side show freak gig is only a job. “Freaks” is loaded with suspense and art deco film styling (I’m completely in love with Daisy Earl’s hair, make-up, and wardrobe)! Though not really frightening, the final scenes had me on the edge of my settee!

*On a side note: Freaks was originally shelved by MGM and the distribution rights were snagged by notorious exploitation road-show specialist, Dwain Esper who showed the film under such tawdry titles as “Forbidden Love” and “Nature’s Mistakes”.

Famed author (and one of my personal favorites) F. Scott Fitzgerald was writing for the studio at the time “Freaks” was filmed. The notorious loaner, never feeling comfortable around glamourous movie stars and powerful movie moguls, often dined at the commissary table with the side show actors… I knew I liked him for a reason!

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Watch the trailer here

Zombies of Mora Tau

1957

Starring Gregg Palmer, Allison Hayes, Autumn Russell, and Joel Ashley (and a bunch of other folks I’ve never heard of)

This film is B-movie gold! It has got it all: virginal heroin, dashing bad-boy who wants to be good, over sexed vamp in a bullet bra, and her greedy no-good husband. I’m not going to pretend that this little flick won any awards. The acting is bad, the set is laughable, and the script reads like a high school play, but if you love camp, then you will love “Zombies of Mora Tau”. I LOVE  Allison Hays; she is sex in a skirt!  Anyway, the “plot” goes like this: A greedy gent and his HOT wife commission a ship to hunt for a lost treasure guarded by the undead sailors who originally found it. The treasure is cursed and anyone who dares to go after it winds up dead… or worse! Watch this film and you may be left wondering if this is where the Disney folks got the idea for Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

*On a side note: I want to be Allison Hayes when I grow up!

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Watch the trailer here

Anything by Val Lewton

Film Producer

So, I couldn’t pick just one here. Val Lewton is, for me, the master of suspense! This man could do no wrong, but never seemed to really get anywhere. He is remembered as a genius buy those in the know and completely forgotten by those who are not. I love every film he has ever done (except for Curse of the Cat People, but we’ll just pretend it never happened. OK? OK.) , but here are my faves in order from best to “oh that one is sooo good too”!

Cat People

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Watch the trailer here

The Leopard Man

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Watch the trailer here

I Walked with a Zombie

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Watch the trailer here

The Body Snatcher

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Watch the trailer here

Isle of the Dead

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Watch the trailer here

The Seventh Victim

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Watch the trailer here

Bedlam

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Watch the trailer here

Ghost Ship

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Watch the TCM intro here

Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Simon Simon… need I say more?! Yes, I should. I’m not suggesting that had he a bigger budget, Val Lewton would have lost his touch. I just appreciate what the low budget leant to his films. Take “Cat People”. The swimming pool scene is truly frightening, and never once does the audience ever see the “cat”. Now compare that with the B production of “Zombies of Mora Tau” and you will see that great film making rests in talent, not cash. The Val Lewton box set is most certainly on my Christmas list this year! I cannot say enough about his films. They are some of my all-time favorite films… EVAH!

*On a side note: Val Lewton was one of the (lesser) producers of Gone With the Wind.

Psycho

1960

Starring Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, and John Gavin

Allow me to just say, if you’ve not see “Psycho” then you’ve not lived! This film is beyond classic. It is scary, suspenseful, well done, and just fantastic. Anthony Perkins is the epitome of freaky… he just looks like the kind of guy that has body parts in his freezer, or fruit cellar! The subject matter, the filming, the acting, all way ahead of their time. Even the most devoted horror film enthusiast must tip their hat to this piece of cinematic history. It is, in my humble opinion, the “Citizen Cane” of horror films!

*On a side note: the “blood” in the shower scene was really chocolate sauce. The fake blood normally used in filming was diluted by the shower water and didn’t show up as dramatically in the black and white film as Alfred Hitchcock wanted.

If you are not familiar with Hitchcock films, you may not know that he loved to make little cameos in his films. Keep a sharp eye for a pudgy pedestrian in the early scenes…

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Watch the trailer here

Nosferatu 

1922

Starring Max Schreck, Gustav von Wangenheim, Greta Schroder, and Alexander Granach

Don’t let the fact that this film is a silent one fool you. It scares the hell outta me every time I watch it! What can I say, it is beyond creepy. It being a silent film only adds to the unnerving effect. Not only are you watching, but by reading, one is also participating in said feature. The imagery is hypnotic to the point where plot becomes irrelevant, but here’s the deal anyway: a realtor travels to an isolated castle, despite warnings  of local villagers, to sell creepy Count Orlok a house nearby his own. The count becomes infatuated with the realtor’s wife… will she fall prey to the evil Nosferatu? I can’t believe this film was made in the 1920’s! It truly rivals any modern vampire flick… and it’s the only one on my list!

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Watch a movie clip here

The Wolfman

1941

Starring Lon Chaney Jr., Claude Rains, Evelyn Ankers, Bela Lugosi

I confess that one of the few modern horror films I love is Wolfman (2010). Mainly because it shadows the original so well! Both films stick closely to classic werewolf folklore, so one already has an idea of the plot when sitting down to a Wolfman movie. There is nothing to figure out, no twist ending, just good old fashioned jump outta your skin frights… accompanied by the whole moral conundrum of the wolfman condition. Lon Chaney Jr. plays the conflicted Larry Talbot perfectly, and Claude Rains, well, I just love me some Claude Rains! This film is a classic and should be required viewing at film school or just regular school too.

*On a side note: the wolf Larry Talbot wrestles with was Lon Chaney Jr.’s own pet German Shepherd. I need to get my dog an agent!

**On a side, side note: All of the Universal Monster movies are worth watching as they are the defining films of vintage horror. I just have a special place in my heart for The Wolfman. But, please do see Dracula, Frankenstein, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Invisible man, The Mummy, The Phantom of the Opera, and all of the subsequent sequels.

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Watch the trailer here

The Picture of Dorian Gray

1945

Starring George Sanders, Hurd Hatfield, Donna Reed, and Angela Lansbury

I love this 1945 film adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s  novel! Dorian Gray is a dandy… a Victorian playboy. He is dashing, fashionable, and morally corrupt. He sells his soul for eternal youth, and a curse is placed on his portrait. As time passes the real Dorian stays young and handsome while his portrait, which he keeps locked away, takes on the visage of Dorian’s behavior… and it ain’t pretty! Sex, murder, and all kinds of Victorian debauchery abound, but the thing that makes this film creepy is Hurd Hatfield’s performance. He reminds me of that charming, cold serial killer one learns about in those true crime TV shows. I would rather be trapped in an elevator with a gorilla than this cat! His voice, his face, his complete lack of emotion… sociopath! “The Picture of Dorian Gray” is a fantastic film and an even better book.

*On a side note: I have a mad crush on George Sanders, who always played a right cad! He sadly committed suicide in 1972.

**On a side, side note: Dame Angela Lansbury and Hurd Hatfield teamed up again in the 1980’s for three different Murder She Wrote episodes.

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Watch the trailer here

Vincent Price

1911-1993

Is it weird that I find Vincent Price incredibly sexy? There is something about his voice and his wicked smirk that I find irresistible! That being said, I love everything he has ever done. He was famous for his gothic horror films, but Price was also an Ivy League scholar, author, and gourmet… he was also quite tall and I dig that, just ask my Mr.! So for the sake of time, I shall abandon all further flattery and simply list my Favorite Vincent Price films and their clips. It just isn’t halloween without his creamy voice pouring over the phonograph!

Dragonwyck

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Watch the trailer here

House of Wax

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Watch the trailer here

House on Haunted Hill

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Watch the trailer here

The Fall of the House of Usher

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Watch the trailer here

Pit and the Pendulum

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Watch the trailer here

Diary of a Madman

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Watch the trailer here

*On a side note: Vincent Price had his own mail-order book club in the 70’s “Vincent Price Books”… I think I need to add to my vintage book collection!

 

Well, there you have it, pigeons, my favorite spooky films for a crisp autumn night. Pop some pop corn, curl up by a warm fire… or warm body, and enjoy! Oh, and Happy Halloween!

Photo courtesy of the lovely and talented Margo von Pigtails

xoxo

Dolly Marlowe

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