Friday, December 30, 2011

A hairy situation

On the eve of New Year's eve I'm considering what champagne to bring along for the festivities, what nail polish will carry  me through to the new year, and of course what coiffure I will sport on my soon to be 2012 head.  Looking back at some nostalgic hair choices, I came across some rather "hairy" trends, and of course some that have stood the test of time, fashion, and style trends.  So before we ring in the new year, here are a few of them, along with my champagne choice, my nail polish, and a great shop on Etsy that I have bought two wigs from for when I don't feel like dealing with my own hair.
  1. "Crown Me Already" Nail Polish by OPI $9
  2. Dreamstone Pink Moscato from Fresh and Easy $8 (or less if it is on sale)
  3. Airship Captain Customized Long Wig by MissVioletLace $73.60 (on sale for Christmas)
TIME Magazine Cover August 19, 1935 from LIFE Photo Archive
1930's hair trends:  finger wave curls, rolled pinned curls fastened to the head with pins, hair kept close to the head, use of hats worn on top or diagonally, hair parted in the middle or to the side, and waves, waves, and more waves (Pictured: Jean Harlow, other leading ladies with 1930's do's: Bette Davis, Claudette Colbert, Myrna Loy, Diana Dors, Greta Garbo )

Photo by Peter Stackpole from LIFE Photo Archive
1940's hair trends: shoulder-length or shorter hair, thickening agents applied after shampooing, a larger roll in place of bangs, using rollers and even aluminum cans to roll the hair, small hats worn with bangs/roll in front, "peek-a-boo" hair style à la Veronica Lake (Pictured: Gene Tierney, other leading ladies with 1940's do's: Veronica Lake, Betty Grable, Rita Hayworth, Lauren Bacall, Ava Gardner)

Photo by Loomis Dean from LIFE Photo Archive
1950's hair trends: shorter hair styles, chignons or french pleats, ponytails, sculpted curls, the poodle cut (à la Lucille Ball), the soft bob or a page boy hair cut, permanents (Pictured: Debbie Reynolds, other leading ladies with 1950's do's: Connie Francis, Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren, Grace Kelly)

So out of these hairstyles, which have you seen lately?  I know the bob is still a classic cut, as are hair styles like the understated pony tail or french twist, but thank goodness we don't roll our hair in tin cans or pin each curl up with a bobby pin any more.  I'm also glad to see the hat and fascinator making a come back too.  Happy New Year everyone!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Movie Review: The Philadelphia Story, 1940

Katharine Hepburn on the set of the Broadway Play The Philadelphia Story, 1938
Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt from LIFE Photo Archive
If there is one thing that I love about classic movies it's the witty dialogue, and The Philadelphia Story is no exception.  Katharine Hepburn is young, vibrant and utterly charming as Tracy Lord, a wealthy divorced socialite about to be married once more.  But the handsome and also charming Cary Grant, as C.K. Dexter Haven, has other plans for the egotistic and proud Ms. Lord.  In come Jimmy Stewart, as writer and reluctant reporter Mike Connor, and Ruth Hussey, as photographer and girlfriend to Mike, Liz Imbrie.  The pair have been assigned to cover the Lord wedding, but Tracy Lord is adamant that the press does not belong behind closed doors.  However, Lord's father is embroiled in a bit of a scandal with a young dancer, so with a little black mail the set up is complete.  Tracy's mother and younger sister wholeheartedly believe that her divorce from Haven was a mistake, so when he shows up, they are not so secretly pleased to have him back in Tracy's life.  At the core of the story is Tracy's "goddess" personality.  In a matter of minutes her ex-husband, her fiancé and her father all tell her that she comes off as a big snob and isn't the most understanding of souls.  This pivotal moment shifts the story and pretty soon Tracy is in the middle of a four sided love triangle between herself, Haven, Connor and her fiancé.  I really enjoyed the scenes between Hepburn and Stewart, especially when the two have too much champagne and end up dancing and swimming the night away under the stars.  Grant and Stewart's performances are also fun to watch as they play off of each other perfectly.  I did not know before watching this film that George Cukor had directed, and since he directed The Women which is one of my favorite films, I am not surprised how much I enjoyed The Philadelphia Story.  Add to that the pleasure of the costumes, sets, and all the supporting cast, and I am a very happy girl.

Here's the trailer:

Friday, December 16, 2011

My Look Back: 1930

Mother photographing her son in the snow in Switzerland, 1930
Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt from LIFE Photo Archive
Now I know I'm talking about the Great Depression here with 1930 and all, but I don't want to focus on the negative and instead I'd like to take a look back at positive things that happened in 1930, because amongst tragedy, you can usually find some beauty.
  • In Los Angeles the Blakely Bros. (an interior decorating and painting contractor) took discarded toys and furniture items, restored them and then distributed them to needy families for Christmas. 
  • The first heat sealed tea bag (resembling more of a pouch) was invented by William Hermanson of the Technical Papers Corporation of Boston, he sold the patent to the Salada Tea Company in 1930. 
  • The planet Pluto was discovered. 
  • Cellophane or "sticky tape" was invented by Dick Drew, a 3M researcher.
  • Did you know you could buy a parade?  Well apparently you can. In the early 1930's D. Earl Comb bought a Christmas parade, including all of the props, animals and costumes for a hefty $1,800 dollars.  He then exhibited the parade throughout the Midwest and Southeast of the United States.  
  • The first analog computer, called a differential analyzer, was invented by Harold Locke Hazen and Vannevar Bush at MIT.
  • By a very fortunate accident, Ruth Wakefield invented the chocolate chip cookie. She was the proprietor of the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts (where Toll House Cookies come from).  And guess what? She sold her recipe to Nestlé for a lifetime supply of chocolate (well, in exchange for Nestlé printing her recipe on their semi-sweet chocolate bars, she received a lifetime of chocolate).  Pretty sweet deal I must say, pun intended. And she worked as a dietician at one point.
  • Sinclair Lewis won the Nobel Prize in Literature for his novel Babbitt (1922). He was the first American to win this prize.  
  • The first jet engine patent was submitted for approval by Air Commodore, Sir Frank Whittle
  • The first ever World Cup was held in Uruguay in July of 1930 and Uruguay won.
So thank you Mrs. Wakefield for giving us the Toll House Cookie, a sweet treat that has withstood the test of time and two great depressions. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Book Review: The Red Necklace by Sally Gardner

Dial, 2008; 372 pages; ISBN 0803731000
My Goodreads Rating: 4 stars
I've found that historical fiction written for teens is actually pretty great for adults too, and The Red Necklace is a great example of that.  At first I didn't know what was going on in the story, but once I delved into it, I was hooked. There are actually two heroes in the story - a gypsy boy with supernatural powers named Yann and a young heiress named Sido who is despised by her greedy & narcissistic father, the Marquise.  Yann travels with Tetu and Topolain entertaining crowds with their magical act, but Yann's magic is real.  Sido was until recently living in a nunnery because her father has no interest in her, especially because an accident caused her to have a permanent limp.  When Yann arrives at the Marquise's châteaux for a special performance, he is met not only with Sido, but also with the story's heartless villain, Count Kalliovski.  In the Count you get a true villain, which made the story much more intriguing and foreboding.  Some say he is the devil incarnate, and he uses people's secrets to bind them to him with debt, blackmail them, and in turn gain power. When he spots Topolain and his magical act, he challenges him to an almost impossible feat: to survive a bullet.  From there the story progresses to Count Kalliovski setting his eyes on the young Sido, who is, to say the least, utterly repulsed by him.  Her father promises her hand in marriage nonetheless.  The French Revolution setting brings the whole story to life. I don't know much about this period of time, but I will certainly be reading more about it now.  Although Yann comes across Sido and her situation early on, and his story separates and alternates between some of his formative years and the drama that is building up in Paris, the story never feels discombobulated or boring. You get to experience both the story of Sido and the story of Yann and then their stories come together in a way that completely makes sense.  The ending was tied up nicely without being too neat.  There is a follow up to the book entitled The Silver Blade (Dial, 2009) and it is on my to-read list for next year. If you like historical fiction, I think you will enjoy The Red Necklace.

Photo: From website

Friday, December 2, 2011

Read a Book, Sip a Cocktail No. 12

Photo from
Woo-Hoo, a whole year of book and cocktail pairings!  I'm halfway to my goal (see my first post here).  For this, the last installment of 2011 I'm going with a Devil in the Mud in honor of The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger.  Now, I read this book way before Anne Hathaway made Meryl Streep cringe wearing clunky loafers and blah sweaters in the movie version of the book.  I will admit that the movie is entertaining, but the book is SO much better.  The book captures all of the nuances of the characters in a way that the movie just didn't.  I also felt like all of the satirical qualities of the book were lost in the movie, and that was a big part of why I enjoyed the book.  Alas, I still recommend both the novel and the movie, but definitely read the book first (and drink this cocktail while you're at it).

This is a mud I wouldn't mind being stuck in
 Devil in the Mud
1 1/2 oz. Raspberry vodka
3/4 oz. Chocolate syrup
2 oz. Milk
1/2 oz. Chambord*
1/2 oz. White crème de cacao
How to:  Prep your martini glass with a drizzle of the chocolate syrup.  In a cocktail shaker mix ice, vodka, chocolate syrup, milk, Chambord, and the crème de cacao.  Shake for at least 20 seconds.  Serve in the prepared martini glass.  *Chambord Liqueur is a black raspberry liqueur from France that is made with raspberries, blackberries, Madagascar vanilla, Moroccan citrus peel, honey and cognac.

This gives the drink some of its tart and sweet raspberry flavor
Getting my swirl on before I poured the martini
Very fashionista, don't you think?