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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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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

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