Friday, June 24, 2011

My Look Back: 1951

Muller Bros. Car Wash, 1951  
Photo by Allan Grant from the LIFE Photo Archive
Summer is in full swing and this time of year I actually don't mind washing my car if only to stave off the heat. I'm taking a look back at the year 1951 and I must admit that out of all of my favorite decades, the fifties is definitely top dog. So here is some trivia, happenings, and the like that all took place in 1951.

  • Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger is published.
  • The first NBA All-Star game is played.
  • Anjelica Huston, Kurt Russell, Kirstie Alley, and Phil Collins are born.
  • A loaf of bread costs 16 cents, the average cost of a new car is $1,500 dollars, and a gallon of gas is 19 cents.
  • The first oral contraceptive ("the pill") is invented at a small company called Syntex in Mexico.
  • Popular singers include Perry Como, Nat King Cole and Tony Bennett.
  • Elizabeth Taylor signs her first divorce from Conrad Hilton, Jr.
  • Frank Sinatra records "I'm a fool to want you".
  • I Love Lucy makes its debut.
  • All About Eve wins the Oscar for Best Picture at the Academy Awards (see my movie review here).
  • The average life expectancy is 68.4 years.
  • Shoe designer Charles Jourdan introduces the stiletto heel, which begins to replace the more prevalent chunky styles of the time.

    Nine years later the stiletto is the source of some painful sacrifices for fashion, as seen here in 1960
    Photo by James Whitmore from the LIFE Photo Archive

      Friday, June 17, 2011

      I Scream for Ice Cream!

      A soda fountain in Des Moines, Iowa, 1945
      Photo by Nina Leen from LIFE Photo Archive
      Ok, so here in Southern California we haven't hit the triple digits yet, but that is no reason not to hit the ice cream barrel.  I try to be "good" and mostly stick to the Skinny Cow variety of frozen treats, but once in a while it's nice to indulge in a heaping sundae with lots of toppings or an honest-to-goodness real ice cream shake.  So this got me thinking of ice cream parlors and how great they are.  What could be better than a cool (literally) hangout where you can indulge in a root beer float, have a few laughs with your friends, and avoid doing whatever it is you should be doing (like the piles of laundry I have waiting at home)?  So if you can't make it to your local ice cream parlor (I've listed a few Los Angeles area ones here), then head to the grocery store and whip these babies up for yourself and your loved ones - they will be glad you did. 

      1526 Mission St.

      1824 W. Main St.

      Soda Jerks in Santa Monica
      200 Santa Monica Pier

      Some classic ice cream and soda fountain recipes:
      A Root Beer Float (makes 2)
      2 scoops of vanilla ice cream
      12 oz. of root beer
      Whipped cream
      A maraschino cherry
      Scoop a ball of ice cream into a cold glass. Add half of the root beer (slowly, or tip the glass at an angle while pouring). Add the whipped topping and the cherry.

      A Banana Split
      (dates back to the early 1900's and gave way to the banana boat dish in which it is served)
      The ingredients are really up to your own imagination, but simply put you need a halved banana, three scoops of ice cream, chocolate sauce, marshmallow creme or mini marshmallows, nuts, whipped cream, and a maraschino cherry. Also, you can check out an actual banana split festival that takes place every year in Wilmington, Ohio.

      An Egg Cream
      (doesn't contain eggs or cream!)
      Seltzer water or club soda
      Chocolate syrup
      Cold milk
      Start layering your glass with the chocolate syrup.  Then add the seltzer water or club soda. Finally add the milk. Stir, stir, and stir some more.

      A Malted Milk Shake
      4 scoops of vanilla ice cream
      1 1/2 cups of milk
      4 tablespoons of a flavored syrup
      2 tablespoons of malted milk powder (unflavored)
      Add all the ingredients into a blender and blend away.

      Make your own soda
      Use seltzer water and a flavored syrup (you can usually find these in the spirits section or the coffee and tea section of the grocery store or at a store like BevMo!).  Add some ice cream and you got yourself an ice cream soda!

      Photo by Judepics from Flickr Creative Commons

      Friday, June 10, 2011

      Book Review: Clarity by Kim Harrington

      Scholastic Point, 2011; 242 pages; ISBN  0545230500
      My Goodreads Rating: 4 stars

      I was expecting the typical paranormal book, but actually I quite enjoyed Clarity. It's more about having psychic abilities and it read like a Law and Order episode, so I really enjoyed that aspect of it since I'm a fan of the SVU component of that franchise. Clarity Fern, her mom and her brother all have psychic abilities. Her mom can tune into people's thoughts, her brother can communicate with the dead, and Clarity can touch objects and sense things about the person that used them last. They live in a small seaside town and use their gifts to sustain themselves. Clare is getting over her first love and break up (who cheated on her), and dealing with a new competitor that just moved into town, a physic named Madame Maslov, when a girl turns up dead at a nearby motel. This is the first murder in town in many years and it happens to be an election year. Clare's ex-boyfriend is the current mayor's son and he asks her to help out with the murder investigation by using her psychic gift of touch. It just so happens that there is a new detective in town and Clare teams up with his good looking son. You can see the love triangle a mile away, but it's fun to watch it unfold. I figured out who the guilty parties were in so far as the murder mystery was concerned, but that's probably because I do watch a lot of crime shows like Law and Order SVU and CSI. Clare is the kind of female protagonist I can get behind because she is ballsy, but still vulnerable and charming. I look forward to more in this new series and recommend it to anyone who enjoys the YA paranormal genre. I also made a book trailer for Clarity, see it here:

      Photo: From website

      Friday, June 3, 2011

      Read a Book, Sip a Cocktail No. 6

      Photo from
      To evoke the South, as well as the honey that makes up such an important part of this novel, I came up with a twist on iced tea (perfect for the summer!).  In The Secret Life of Bees Lily Owens goes on a quest to find out the secret behind her mother's death after finding a jar label for Black Madonna Honey.  Once she meets the sisters who produce the honey, her life changes for good, but with some tragedies mixed in.  Since there are sweet moments, and there are sour moments in the book, I tried to keep that in mind when mixing up this cocktail.  I'm calling it "Oh, Honey".  The ingredients are pretty simple and the result is very refreshing.  You get the sweetness of the whiskey liqueur, the slight tang of the grapefruit, and the sweet bite of the honey. It's very drinkable and perfect for a cookout or to accompany you while you lounge by the pool (which I wish I had right about now).  Here is the recipe and cheers to a Happy Summer!

      "Oh, Honey"
      2 oz. Southern Comfort
      3 oz. Iced Tea (you can make your own, or buy it ready made)
      3 oz. Grapefruit Juice (fresh squeezed, or store bought)
      1 tablespoon of Honey
      How to:  In a mason jar with ice, layer each ingredient, then stir the heck out of it.  The amount of honey can be changed, depending on your taste.  You could also make this up in a large pitcher, just keep it 2 parts Southern Comfort to 3 parts iced tea and 3 parts grapefruit juice.