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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

 

 

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

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

Atomic Pasta Salad

Hello Darlings!

Well, summer is finally upon us. It’s time for BBQs, picnics, and all sorts pot-luck of frivolity. Being a vegetarian, the ubiquitous summer gathering always poses a bit of a challenge. I love food, and I do not eat like a bird. There is nothing worse than smelling bbq and watching everyone stuff themselves while I gnaw on carrot sticks and mellon balls. Mama wants to EAT! Well, I’m sure there are some things worse than that (war, cancer, reality TV), but starving at a bbq is up there. I also feel it is bad form to expect the hosts to arrange their party around my dietary needs. Yes, that is part of good party planning, but when I am a guest, I need to be prepared.

So, I came up with this little dish to fill any veggie voids left by my carnivorous hosts… Atomic Pasta Salad. Tasty, filling, and always a welcome addition to any summer soirée. Don’t worry it isn’t spicy. The name “Atomic” doesn’t come from the flavor, but from the atomic age. In the 1950’s convenience foods were all the rage, bottled, canned, frozen… plastic was in! This salad is a reflection of that. It is not organic or “from scratch” by any means, although the recipe can be tweaked to make it so. It’s easy to make last minute with what you’ve got hanging around the kitchen already. I last brought this salad to an Easter bbq and egg hunt, and it was one of the most popular dishes of the party. It’s quite the complement when you go home with an empty dish!

The delish sandwich in the background is a BLT lovingly hand crafted by my Mr. with soy bacon!

Atomic Pasta Salad

Prep time: 10 minutes

Total cook/chill time: 1 hour

Servings: 6 – 8

Ingredients:

12oz Rainbow Rotini Pasta

1/2c diced red onion

1/2c chopped red bell pepper

1/2c finely chopped carrots

1/4c green onion

1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary

1 tbsp minced garlic

1/4c Olive Oil (light)

2 tbsp Strawberry Basil Balsamic Vinegar

2 tbsp Brianna’s Homestyle Blush Wine Vinaigrette Dressing

Shredded Parmesan Cheese to taste

Salt and Pepper to taste

1/2c Ken’s Steak House Creamy Balsamic Salad Dressing

*optional add ins: I like to add sliced grape tomato and black olives. My Mr. hates both of those things, so I put them on the side and add them to my individual plate.

Directions:

1) Bring 4 to 6 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Add pasta. Boil pasta for about 9 min. stirring occasionally.

2) Drain pasta and set it aside in a large glass mixing bowl.

3) Mix in olive oil. Be sure to coat all of the pasta to prevent sticking.

4) Add in red onion, green onion, carrots, rosemary, and garlic. Mix well, but be careful not to disturb the shape of the pasta. The spirals will be somewhat fragile until they cool.

5) Fold in the Ken’s Steakhouse Creamy Balsamic Salad Dressing. Be sure to coat every last bit of pasta and veg!

6) Add in the Strawberry Basil Balsamic Vinegar and Brianna’s Homestyle Blush Wine Vinaigrette Dressing. Again, stir well, but carefully.

7) Add parmesan, slat, and pepper to taste.

8) Cover and refrigerate for about an hour or until cold.

Fresh rosemary from my garden. 

I do hope you enjoy!

xoxo

Dolly Marlowe

We’re Moving!

Hello Darlings!

I want to apologize most fervently for my lack of diary entries as of late. My little family will be picking up and moving to a tiny little desert town most folks have never even heard of (more on that later). I had the best intentions to keep writing in that time, but the process is turning out to be less smooth than originally imagined. So, I am officially announcing an unofficial and (hopefully) brief hiatus. I may, if my schedule allows, post things that don’t require lots of photos or construction or time in the kitchen (as everything is either packed away or a complete mess). I should be back at it some time in April. Until then, please be a love and subscribe to my Diary (you’ll find the sign-up apparatus to the right of this page). This way you won’t miss anything should I decide to throw caution to the wind and share something earth shattering . See you soon!

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XOXO

Dolly Marlowe