Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Calling All Gift Givers!

According to the daily reminders on the news, times are tough right now. It's stressful juggling all those holiday gift giving expectations with emptier pocketbooks. Calling All Girls (December 1945) suggests making Christmas Gifts-for-Everybody, and there's just enough time to churn out these mini-masterpieces! From babies, siblings, friends, and older relatives, there are enough ideas for useful and glamourous tidbits to excite every taste! Try the Date-Bait cap for your best friend and a gift that would now be considered quite politically incorrect for a young girl to give her male relatives in the bottom corner. And, who couldn't use another pincushion?

You know what they say: it's never too early to get your holiday presents out of the way. But now it's Christmas eve and, if you haven't made your trip to the dollar store yet, you could take a cue from Jane Richard, Food Editor of Calling All Girls. Richard recommends the best way to impress your friends is through their collective sweet teeth. If you can't be bothered to actually try out the art of confectionery, you could at least pose for a picture in your apron. Everyone will appreciate your efforts!

Happy Holidays from Curly Wurly!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The return of So-good food!

There's nothing quite so good as so-good food, especially when you've been on your feet all day going from store to store. By the time you stagger home, arms filled with packages and blisters on your feet, you need some nourishment that is 'fast, filling, and just festive enough to be real aids when there is so much to do.' Nancy Lynn has a plan!

You can't have it all. Some might tell you differently, but they're just wrong. Sometimes you have to compromise; sometimes you have to prioritize. Inevitably, you're going to be set with the task of feeding a choir-sized herd of ravenous people at some point this season. So, when figuring out your menu, you can have it simple, you can have it speedy, or you can have it scrumptious. But you'll have to choose. It can't be two, and certainly not three!, of the aforementioned descriptions. I think that the author got the menus scrambled, though. Simple sounds scrumptious: Crab-cheese Chowder with crudites and dessert. Speedy, a set of Tuna Ramekins with Paprika Potatoes, doesn't seem speedy, simple, or scrumptious, but I'm neither a cook nor a tuna lover, so I could be mistaken. Finally, the apparently scrumptious Baked Puff Sandwiches with Tomato Bouillon seems like it would either be simple or speedy but not really that scrumptious. Either way, Family Circle has three menus to meet your busy holiday needs!

Are 'Holidays' Electric?

Why not make this an electric Christmas? (aka, My Amazon Wishlist) by Jessie Bakker is a two-page spread of the latest electronic gadgets. I know that few people think of electronics and appliances as suitable holiday presents, and that sales of such products actually decline at this time of year, but seriously, why not make this an electric holiday? Just think about it. And feel free to send me an aqua drum-shape vacuum cleaner for my utility room, okay?

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Noted Tables Of Evan Frances

Make your table a holiday table! It's easy with some odds and ends from around the house. Put the kids at the kids' table, complete with a fairground kioskesque centerpiece with ribbons attached to all the chairs. This might be some sort of elaborate way to ensure that the kids stay put; one kid need only push his chair back to destroy the entire display.

More varied holiday tables from Evan Frances. You can try to reenact the 'Snow' musical number from White Christmas with miniature pine trees and whatever else you have lying around (bottom right). When New Year's Eve rolls around, you can try out the glitzy table on the top. I love the wreath of silver and turquoise tinselly stuff that the punch bowl is set in! And, every mother knows, if it's baby's first Christmas, there's no sense getting the whole family together for anything special (center). Better just have a small dinner this year, and cram the whole family in the smallest nook you can find. Your holiday will be the better for it!

Christmas Candlelight Buffet

It's a Christmas Candlelight Buffet! Grace White's fun menu was published in the December 1955 issue of Family Circle. Photos are by Bernard Gray.

Party Tetrazzini! Buttered Peas and Celery! Crackle Thins! These are the foods you will be seeing at every single wintertime soiree this year! But, as Grace White demonstrates, your buffet table presentation is the most important aspect of your party. If you follow her style guide, yours will be the most beautiful table in town!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas magic at your fingertips

In this December 1955 article from Family Circle, Dorothy Waugh brings us some unusual decorations you can make with little effort from simple materials. Click the thumbnails for Dorothy Waugh's article.

Behold the Snowflake Tree, a paste-paper-and-scissors holiday mobile. Cost? Why, just pennies! Next, shock the eye with Family Circle's own Holiday Mantle, a three-part decoration: wall covering featuring family photos, sign-wielding paper doll cut-outs representing the whole family, and 'stockings' filled with tiny boxes of candy and cones of popcorn. Add the very upperclass Gold-Leaf Wreath to your front door (secret: it's spray painted crumpled newspaper!), and your house will be the most festive on the block!

Santa's Sweets - This St. Nick requires little more than a no. 2 1/2-size can! And a pile of candy!

Red and green Christmas decor has become a tired holiday cliche. Assert both your femininity and your love of Christmas with these girly decorations. They'll all be clamouring to stand 'neath the tree-shaped marabou feather hanging.. and they'll never guess it's actually tissue paper! Dorothy Waugh describes her side table set-up, a Rosy Goblet Tree, as Christmas-in-fairyland, and you can even get a head-start on Valentine's Day at the dinner table! Don't forget to break out the Wedgwood! It will be the loveliest Christmas ever!

Some decorative odds and ends: Bird-of-paradise Buffet decoration and Ice-and-snow Wreath, an ingenious ring mold made of paraffin, pecan meats, and popcorn! I'm not sure if the latter is edible and, if so, by whom, but it's certainly striking! And, yes, that is bird pudding on the wreath on the bottom left! It's typically made from a mixture of winter birds, but you can make it during the summer and freeze the 'rosettes' until you're ready to use them.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Croon Another, Crosby

Think that modern internet and texting slang is impenetrable? Well, LWQX*, as they say! The December 1945 issue of Calling All Girls has an equally indecipherable collection of slang and overheard exchanges from classrooms, lunch counters, and soda fountains. Nancy Pepper, with the help of her tireless Hi-Style Scouts, have culled the choicest hip lingo from movies (Pix Trix), the military, and everyday life for all trendsetting linguists out there. And hold on tight for more Van Johnson references than you can shake a stick at!

Think it's all a little silly? Nancy Pepper's column had enough clout to influence the manufacturing of raincoats and belts decorated with 1940s slanguage and, oddly, miniature 'drool cups' to wear on your lapel. Those were the days.

* I'm assuming this is meaningless. Curly Wurly apologizes if it is actually inappropriate.

Calling All Incomplete Girls!

Here is a fantastic exercise by Marguerite Barze from December 1945's Calling All Girls magazine. It's part personality test, part guilt-inducing connect-the-dots! All you have to do is answer a series of thirty questions testing the strength of your character. The accuracy of your end result depends on your honesty! Once you have your responses, shift your attention to the unknown figure on the left. Connect only those lines that correspond with your positive answers. Do not connect the lines that correspond with your nos! When you're done, you will be left with a scientifically proven measurement of your worth as a human being. If you didn't perform so well, you are obligated to have the figure blown up to poster size and attached to your wall as a constant reminder of your shortcomings. (Click image below for full-size)

I wonder why girls' and women's magazines stopped printing games along with their quizzes.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Cheese Happening

The title of this article, the last one from the October 1955 Family Circle that I'll be sharing with you, is Snappy snacks with Cheese. If that doesn't sound like a little bit of paradise, I don't know what does! Author Nancy Lynn's all-consuming passion for cheese is like a torch that lights the way from beginning to end. Photographs by Bernard Gray, one of the greatest mid-century food artists.

Deviled Deckers is the height of temptation: melted swiss cheese and deviled ham cubes. Escaping the hellfire for a little slice of bliss. Like most sins, these are great paired with shrimps!

Now, this is a fon-do! Meet the seductively smooth Paprika Rabbit, a heady concoction of process American cheese, bacon bits, and paprika! Spoon it over a double-toasted English muffin, and you've got yourself a dish of molten warmth for a chilly Autumn evening.

While a fine selection of fruit and cheeses is a classy end to any dinner party, it would probably be best not to indicate that this course is actually called Fruit 'n' Cheese. I suppose we should be happy it's not Froot 'n' Cheez, though.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Autumn Meat Harvest

Family Circle is the queen of all ladies' magazines for the wide range of topics from high fashion to fine cuisine and from design to hard-hitting pieces on the current events of the day. From October 1955, here is an exposé of the beef industry. All photography is by Bernard Gray (hey, it's not every day that I can actually give the artists credit!)

This set of pictures is like one of those brainteasers where you have to spot the difference between a set of scenes. Same utensils in same spot? Check. Same platter? Check. Same food? A ha! The bottom picture shows the Savory Pot Roast or, should I say, Chargrilled Heart/Liver Hybrid with Roasted Vegetables.

These are the bit parts, the lowly extras, to those strapping dishes of beef encircled by their loving public (the roasted vegetables). The Dutch Slaw, Fan-tans, and Orange Sponge may blend into the background, just an afterthought on your dinner plate, but they surely fill out the gaping plot holes with which a solely meat and vegetable dinner would fall prey.

Ground beef is the charming country cousin of the sleeker beef cutlet. Why, you wouldn't find Mm-m-m meat balls and these adorable Saucy-good twin meat loaves on an uptown table. But don't they seem less affected than the coasters of beef in the first picture?

What makes the Heavenly hamburgers so out-of-this-world? Well, it's a fork food, it's accompanied by cheese topped bread, and it's served on a trivet made from an old milk crate. I'll say that's heavenly!

Tired of beef? Shame on you! Well, I guess you could try pork, the other hearty Autumn meat. But, really, look how much less masculine this menu is! Pork must be what one serves a large party of mere acquaintances. Notice how the flamboyant and frivolous accompaniments are less classic and are all served in ridiculously shaped dishes!

There are a few things that a man can count on: dog is man's best friend, and potato is beef's best friend. Nothing is more tried-and-true than the beef-potato-carrot-tiny pearl onion combo. Here pork shocks with its perversity. Squash rings? Sparkling apple slices!?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Happy Birthday To You!

Join me in wishing a Happy Birthday to Lushie Peach, author of my favorite blog devoted to anthropomorphic edibles, Food With Eyes! I hope your day is extra special!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I Was A Highlights Kid

If my recent series of Halloween crafts from Highlights for Children brought back some fond memories of enjoying that iconic children's magazine, you might have been a Highlights kid! Now there's a website just for you: the official I Was A Highlights Kid, a collection of readers' reminiscences. There are two outstanding reasons to stop by the site: the 'Are you a Goofus or a Gallant?' quiz and, a dream come true for me, 'Write your own captions for Goofus and Gallant' (.pdfs)! You can also enter to win old back issues of Highlights (if you have a specific issue in mind).

As I was looking around the site, I was reminded of the Timbertoes, a family of wooden figures that tackle many of the same issues as you and me. I don't think I truly appreciated this simplistic yet endearing group when I was young, but, as I was reacquainting myself with Pa, Ma, Tommy, and Mabel (and Spot and Splinter!), I was impressed with John Gee's distinctive style. Get caught up in the juicy drama of the Timbertoes at Highlights' exclusive online archive. The complete back story of Timbertoes writers and illustrators can be found on Wikipedia.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Kitchens of Distinction

In the same October 1955 issue of Family Circle as the featured article, Show house on a tight budget, there was another piece about kitchens that would go splendidly in your mid-century model home! Here is Here is our newest model kitchen by Jessie Bakker.

Feast your eyes on some of these modern amenities that are making their way into many homes across the country! (Click pics for full-size, readable article)

Also, I would like to thank Lidian, of the fabulous Kitchen Retro blog, for awarding me with an I Love Your Blog award!!

Right back at you, Lidian! I'm a new devotee of Lidian's blog, and I can't get enough of it! If you haven't had the pleasure of discovering Kitchen Retro on your own, do yourself a favor and follow this link. I guarantee that you'll be there all night!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Show Home Showcase of 1955

Show house on a tight budget is an article by Joseph B. Mason published in the October 1955 issue of Family Circle. It showcases the thrifty but gorgeous mid-century modern home design of Tacoma, Washington-based architect, Robert B. Price. Joan Price, his wife, was responsible for the interior decoration. And it was thrifty, indeed. The full price (including furnishings) was $17,500! Don't you wish you lived there?

Let's take a tour! (Click thumbnails for full-size article)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Table-Top Circus of Blood

Our final Highlights for Children Halloween craft idea shows how to bring the Big Top to your Table Top: the Table-Top Circus. What exactly does a circus made of bottle caps and pipe cleaners have to do with Halloween? In the world of Highlights, apparently nothing. However, clown-based hysteria is one of the most common and completely understandable phobias that plague the human psyche. In that respect, this is perhaps the most unnerving of all the Highlights Halloween handicrafts. There's still time: click the picture for instructions to construct your own cannibalistic carnival of chills!

On that note, have a gruesome Halloween!

Tricky Treats

This Owlet is a cute craft idea for the kids. Its body isn't a Frosted Mini Wheat, as I had thought, but a cotton-wrapped glue bottle. (Click picture to see how!)

If you'd rather wrap up something larger than a glue bottle, try a broom, which would make a great Witch For Halloween. Lean this dentally-challenged broomlady by your door to frighten trick-or-treaters! Or you can 'surprise your friends by holding the broom up at a window where they will be sure to see it.' A Highlights for Children-approved way to lose friends! (Click picture to see how!)

Kiddie science experiments masquerade as Halloween Witchcraft. Perfect to awe the little goblins and ghouls at your Halloween bash!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Handicrafts From Hell

Oh, the humanity! This is not the sort of fate I would wish for anybody, man or pumpkin-man.

No, Corni's not a long-forgotten Pee-Wee's Playhouse prop! He's simply the best craft in the history of Highlights for Children (and, certainly nothing in Pac-O-Fun could ever compare)! How could you not love a corn cob with a gummed-star nose, anyway? Remember, 'the more colors, the better'!

The cute marshmallow-headed Halloween Hobgoblin rounds out today's Halloween crafty hints. As was stated in earlier posts, this book was published in 1963; the Hobgoblin predated the King Tut craze (note the pose) by almost a decade!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Making Faces

While the economy continues to go down the drain, it's getting harder in these cash-strapped times to execute the sort of elaborate Halloween celebration that such an important holiday demands. Highlights for Children has the hair-raising touches for your haunted house that won't break the bank. In fact, these three sets of faces fit for a fright are all made out of disposable packaging already lying around your house! Here Highlights demonstates the makings of an insta-macabre mug.

Take a good look at the Pie Faces. If they don't already bear an uncanny resemblance to existing horror flick serial killers, they soon will. Right now Hollywood is probably working on Pie Face (and its ten sequels), and the killer will look even creepier than that puppet in the Saw movies. It will involve a group of popular, good looking high school kids who mysteriously find pies on their doorsteps. Three days after the pies are eaten, the killer comes to reclaim the empty pie tins... oh, and to kill the teenagers one by one. The Pie Face in the middle is named Harpo.

Frankly, I was excited to find the Halloween Candy Man. This craft calls for a cylinder-shaped cereal box, and I have just too many to know what to do with them. As you can see, he's quite handsome with his single tooth and festive bowtie, and his pie tin head is far less terrifying than Highlights' first proposed pie tin craft.

Halloween Window Decorations are a more kid-friendly, calming, and cute option in the world of homemade holiday decorations. These Halloween icons require only the plastic spool from an adhesive tape refill and your imagination!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Crafty Costume Party

Here are a few more ideas from Highlights for Children's 1963 book Jumbo Holiday Handbook that are so terrifying that they may cause madness!

Cucurbitophobes rejoice! If your fear of pumpkins fills you with dread every autumn, Jumbo Holiday Handbook has a few clever substitutions that will get you in the decorating spirit! Why not draw faces on some left-over oranges with a permanent marker and use pipe cleaners for stems? Better yet, marshmallows make the best jack o' lanterns of all! Daub food coloring to create dainty features, and then poke a toothpick in its head. Maybe it will be too small next to all the real jack o' lanterns. And maybe it will attract ants, but maybe Halloween could use a little more variety. What other foods would make good jack o' lanterns?

Highlights also has a solution for adults who wish they had a child or helpless pet to dress up for Halloween. Clothespins! Here the author's beloved clothespin is dressed as (from left to right) a French pierrot, a piñata, a phoenix, and a donkey who is also a pimp (just its head). What will you dress your clothespin as this year? (Click on picture for instructions!)

Curly Wurly will have plenty more craft hints for the rest of this fun-filled holiday week!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pumpkins With Multiple Personalities

I get weary of same-faced pumpkins year in, year out. They all have those same triangular eye sockets and toothy gapes. Sometimes I can't tell them apart, and when I mistake Roger for Beverly, I can tell Roger gets pretty steamed. This year, you can avoid confusion by giving your pumpkins different expressions. The pumpkins who have been more forgiving of your bad memory could have welcoming grins or flirty eyelashes. But you can punish all those pumpkins (the Rogers of the pumpkin patch) that have held grudges with frightful grimaces of pain, sad eyes denoting an eternal melancholia, or a mocking leer that will encourage the local hoodlums to kick them or hurl them into the street. This guide to facial features is from the 1963 book Jumbo Holiday Handbook, a Highlights magazine publication.

Here's a crafty idea from a Miss Langenberg, the Happy Witch Decoration. It's worth a try, if only for the enlightening 'how to make a witch look happy' instruction (click picture for full article): 'draw the corners of her mouth pointing upward.' A ha! Those snaking laces making up her torso are supposed to be 'skeleton ribs.' It's baffling how she could be so happy whilst her innards are on display in such a macabre sort of way, but, after all, it is Halloween!