A Sparkling Vintage Life

Monthly Archives: August 2014

31 Days of a Sparkling Vintage Summer, Day 21: Listen to Music Under the Stars

ravinia 1923

Program from Chicago’s Ravinia Park, 1923

Before we moved away from the Chicago area, I loved going to Ravinia Park each summer. Long the summer home of the world-class Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Ravinia hosts music of nearly all genres, from classical to jazz to pop. Even when seating was available on the covered pavilion, I preferred to stretch out on a blanket on the vast lawn, gazing up at the stars while the melodies and harmonies swirled around me. There was something almost magical about sitting outside on a summer night, listening to great music.

Band shell, Grant Park, circa 1940s

Band shell, Grant Park, circa 1940s

Imagine my delight, then, when we discovered that our new home in northern Idaho also boasts an acclaimed summer music event, the Festival at Sandpoint, where I can enjoy the Spokane Symphony every bit as much as the CSO, minus the huge crowds that Ravinia draws. And so I continue to spend several summer evenings–you guessed it–lying on a blanket under the stars, beautiful music carried on the breeze.

From large-scale music festivals to community bandshells to casual buskers in the park, keep an ear out for music in the open air Then spread out your blanket or set up your favorite lawn chair and prepare to be enchanted.


31 Days of a Sparkling Vintage Summer, Day 20: Pond’s Cold Cream

Image source: etsy.com

Image source: etsy.com

I love this stuff.

I’ve tried plenty of newer and more expensive cleansers and I keep coming back to my old favorite. Why? Because nothing else is as kind to my sensitive, rosacea-prone, breakout-prone, rash-prone, temper-tantrum-prone skin as good old Pond’s. I use it as a cleanser and makeup remover, but you can also use it as a mask or moisturizer. It’s relaxing to slather it on my face and leave it there a while while I slip into a refreshing bath.

Pond’s got its start with a pharmacist named T. T. Pond who, in 1846, invented a patent medicine from witch hazel for healing cuts and scrapes, called Pond’s Extract.By the early twentieth century the company had branched out into other products, including the cold cream. They also made a “vanishing cream.” I’d always thought it was called “vanishing cream” because it made wrinkles and blemishes vanish, but it turns out it only means that the the cream “vanishes” into the skin. At any rate, vanishing cream was an entirely different product from cold cream, and for some years the company advised women that they needed both.

I’m including Pond’s Cold Cream in my days-of-vintage-summer series because, first of all, it’s COLD. It feels very soothing on a face that’s spent too much time in the hot sun. And it qualifies as vintage, too, because it’s been around so long, although the formula has been modified somewhat over the years.

Cold cream’s main ingredient, mineral oil, has gotten a bad rap in recent years for clogging pores, but I have not found this to be a problem. Your mileage may vary, of course, so if you choose to try it, start out with a small jar and see how your skin reacts to it before committing to the giant jar that I buy.

One other caveat for the uninitiated: you have to wipe this stuff off with tissue or use a washcloth (I do the latter). You can’t just splash it off with water, like a lot of other cleansers, unless you don’t mind being stuck at your bathroom sink until kingdom come.

So if your skin has been feeling parched, scorched, burned, reddened, wind-burned, or any other unpleasant side effect of summery fun in the sun, give Pond’s Cold Cream a try.

(By the way, whenever I review products on this site, whether Pond’s or Sea Breeze or anything else, I do so because I’ve experienced them and have purchased them with my own hard-earned pennies. I’m not paid by the manufacturers and I don’t normally receive free products from them–and if I ever do, I’ll say so. Just so ya know!)

31 Days of a Sparkling Vintage Summer, Day 19: Going to the Fair!

County-Fair2 “If you ever start feeling like you have the goofiest, craziest, most dysfunctional family in the world, all you have to do is go to a state fair. Because five minutes at the fair, you’ll be going, ‘you know, we’re alright. We are dang near royalty.'” (Jeff Foxworthy)

The county fair opens today! I can’t wait to go and see all the exhibits, the 4-H project displays, the prizewinning quilts and zucchini and baked goods, the cows and pigs and sheep and rabbits and chickens, to eat my annual elephant-ear (known elsewhere by its much more elegant name, palmier) and listen to bluegrass under the trees.

Fairs are an ancient tradition dating back millenia, although the word “fair” (or its more archaic form, “fayre”) has only been used since the Middle Ages. Wikipedia defines a fair as “a gathering of people to display or trade produce or other goods, to parade or display animals,” temporary in nature. Some fairs have carnivals and concerts with them; others are more sedate. In the U.S. state and county fairs have their roots in an earlier agrarian economy,and agriculture remains the main focus in many places. The fair was–and remains–a place to gather with friend, neighbors, and family, admire one another’s work of the year, purchase farm animals, eat bad-for-your-body-but-good-for-your-soul food, and for kids to run around like a pack of hyenas before the start-of-school lockdown.

If you’re wondering about how fairs used to be–and, in some bucolic places, maybe still are–watch the 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical State Fair with Jeanne Crain and Dana Andrews (or the earlier 1933 version with Janet Gaynor and Will Rogers), or read E. B. White’s beloved classic Charlotte’s Web.

Fairs may be a lot different these days than they used to be. But some things never change. If you’re within weekending distance of a state or county fair, it’s worth the trip to take a step back in time.

Get ’em while they’re elegant! Rare 1911 pants from Abercrombie & Fitch

I interrupt this incredibly overdue blog (sorry about that–I have a whole slew of August posts in various stages of, um, shameful unreadiness) to pass along a notice from a reader.

Some of you might recall my earlier post/rant/heated display of righteous indignation about retailer Abercrombie & Fitch. A reader named Matthew has let me know that he has a pair of 1911 Abercrombie & Fitch pants for sale on eBay. He writes:

“I currently have an early pair of their pants from 1911 on ebay, back when they were more for outdoors and elegant, not cringe-worthy.  I don’t know if you’d be interested in checking them out, or if you would be willing to share the fact that they are available for sale.  Thank you for your time.”

Pricey, but worth it for an avid collector. Snap ’em up here: http://www.ebay.com/itm/131271821492

Thanks for the notice, Matthew!


31 Days of a Sparkling Vintage Summer, Day 18: Have a Bird Hunt Breakfast

birds Turning once again to my trusty Book of the Camp Fire Girls, circa 1913, I find instructions for a Bird Hunt Breakfast. This little jaunt will get you out in nature and help you learn something about our feathered friends:

The writer starts out on a note of sympathy. “We all feel sorry, and justly sorry, for children and dogs that have to live cooped up in a city apartment with no out-of-doors to play in. . . . There is no fun in the whole world like the fun to be had out-of-doors.” To that end, she suggested the Bird Hunt Breakfast.

“Did you ever had a Bird Hunt Breakfast?” she asks. “It sounds as if you went out early and found a robin or a hummingbird and fried him up for breakfast, doesn’t it? {ed.: facepalm!} Well, it does not mean quite that. {ed.: sigh of relief}

“You do go out for a walk early in the morning, when the trees and the grasses are still wearing their pearl earrings, and you do hunt, not with a gun, though, but with your eyes, plus perhaps some field glasses, and find an early robin and some warblers and many other kinds of birds. And instead of scrambling or frying them for breakfast, you write down their names in a book, and after each name you write down the characteristics of the bird, or if you don’t know the name of the bird, you just write down a description of it, so that you can identify it with your bird book later.

“Perhaps your group has divided into teams, and the team that sees the greatest number of different kinds of birds has the privilege of sitting down and resting while the other team cooks the breakfast over a fire. . . . Sometimes the girls have a Bird Hunt Tournament. They go for early morning bird hunt walks once or twice a week all summer and each girl keeps her list. When the final scoring comes, each girl must have identified from her notes each specie she has seen. The girl who has the longest list (with no repeats) wins the tournament.”

31 Days of a Sparkling Vintage Summer, Day 16: Learn to swim, Camp Fire style!

camp fire girls swimming Back on Day 9 I suggested that you all take a dip in a nearby lake, pond, or pool. But if it so happens that you don’t know how to swim, that could end rather badly! So today I’m offering up some advice about learning to swim, from The Book of the Camp Fire Girls, circa 1913.

“Now the first and most important step to take in learning to relax in the water is to discover how friendly it is to you, how readily it will support you, if you don’t stiffen up! You will be interested to see how beautiful the light is if you open your eyes under water and how long your breath will hold out if you don’t try to be too greedy about storing up a lot before going under.

“Keep your body relaxed and your mind full of the assurance that it is hard to sink. Make a game of learning to exhale under water. Watch the bubbles catch the light as they float to the surface. A number of jolly little games make it fun for a group to grow to fee as much at home under the water as on top. Once you feel that way and have mastered the art of breathing, the learning of the different strokes is merely a matter of patience and practice and perseverance.”

The Camp Fire Girl philosophy of being of service to others comes through loud and clear. “All this skill falls short of our highest goal if it gives gratification to ourselves alone. It is fine to reach the point where we know ourselves to be no longer a risk to others, but how much greater happiness comes when we are capable of helping others. It is a fact that a number of times girls who have learned a method of resuscitation at camp have been instrumental in restoring life at public swimming places.. Even actual rescues have been made by old campers.”

Camp Fire designated several levels of swimming skill. To be declared a Pollywog, the swimmer had to be able to duck three times and bring up stone or sand from the bottom of the lake; float motionless for fifteen seconds; swim two strokes; and jump off the dock three times into water over her heads. A Frog had to swim twenty-five feet, turn around, and swim back to the starting point, open her eyes underwater, float on her back or tread water for two minutes, and do a kneeling dive off the dock. A Fish had to swim one hundred yards; make a standing front dive; swim using only her feet or only her arms; tow a person fifteen feet; and assist the Pollywogs. And to reach the coveted Flying Fish level, the swimmer had to handle a boat in moderately windy weather; tie a slip knot; make three good landings at a dock and on the shore; demonstrate resuscitation techniques; swim five hundred years; swim one mile over three days; pass the Red Cross Life Saving requirements; and handle boat patrol during swimming periods.

They were no slouches, these Camp Fire Girls! But the writer clearly understood she was addressing young girls when she added, “Don’t shriek for the fun of it. It makes it very hard for the instructor’s voice to be heard but worse than that, it makes it impossible to distinguish a real call for assistance.”

31 Days of a Sparkling Vintage Summer, Day 15: Try “glamping”


Photo source: .glampingholiday.co.uk/

Photo source: .glampingholiday.co.uk/

I’ve never been much of a camper. I love the idea of camping, but in my (admittedly meager) experience, reality contains a lot more bugs, poison ivy, bugs, clammy weather, bugs, outhouses, and bugs than does my fantasy. However, a new trend in outdoor living might just change my mind.

I first learned about “glamping” (glamorous + camping) from Mary Jane Butters of Mary Jane’s Farm. She’s even written a book about it, of which the New York Times said, “Glamping, or glamour camping, one of the MaryJane’s pet concepts, is about the juxtaposition of rugged and really pretty, grit and glam, diesel and absolutely darling.”

I’m sure that diehard backwoods types look down their sunburned noses at  silver service, soft pillowy beds, jewelry fashioned out of fishing lures, and trailers painted the colors of jellybeans. That’s okay.

Glamping is a new idea, not a vintage one. But I’m sure using some vintage camping items would add to the allure.


31 Days of a Sparkling Vintage Summer, Day 14: Visit a Farmer’s Market

fruit market

In many parts of the country, including here in the Inland Northwest, fruits and vegetables are at their peak now. Juicy peaches, scrumptious nectarines, green beans and berries, cucumbers and zucchini, zucchini, zucchini. And often the best places to pick them up are the local farmer’s markets. When you buy produce directly from a farmer, he or she gets to keep more of his profits instead of selling to a wholesaler. And you get fresher, often organic, produce that hasn’t been trucked halfway across the continent. It lets you opt out of the whole industrial-food behemoth, support your local farmers, and stay healthier to boot.

The primal nutrition site Mark’s Daily Apple offers some informative tips on shopping at a farmer’s market. Check it out, then grab your basket and your shopping list and hit the stands. The USDA offers an online farmers’ market directory here.

Bon appetit!

Sparkling Vintage Fiction: In Perfect Time by Sarah Sundin

in perfect time cover Prolific author Sarah Sundin has earned a well-deserved reputation for writing compelling inspirational stories set during World War II. Her latest book, In Perfect Time, is no exception.

In Perfect Time , the third book in the Wings of the Nightingale series (With Every Letter, On Distant Shores), captures all the flavor and energy of World War II. Details of this compelling historical period are so vivid, you can almost hear Tommy Dorsey’s band warming up in the background.

Pretty, flirtatious flight nurse Kay Jobson has one goal in mind: to become an Army Air Force Chief Nurse, which would require additional training. The trouble is, Kay’s supervisors think she’s not serious about her career, due to the fact that she’s out on the town practically every night with a different fellow. Little do they know that her carefree, devil-may-care exterior masks a deeply wounded heart. But whatever you do, don’t talk to Kay about religion–she doesn’t want to hear it.

Only one man can see past Kay’s glamorous appearance to glimpse the hurting child inside. Lieutenant Roger Cooper experienced a rather colorful past of his own, and he recognizes Kay’s pain for what it is. Seemingly inoculated to the feminine charms that other men fall for, Roger understands that while “religion” in the wrong hands can cause great harm, “religion” has little to do with genuine faith. Will he be able to make Kay see it, too?

And, hey, flyboy…are you really so steel-hearted against Kay’s allure as you have led everyone to believe? Hmm. Read In Perfect Time and find out!

UPDATE: Visit Sarah’s Facebook page to enter to win a Kindle HDX (contest runs until 8/24)!

Also, Sarah’s giving away a free copy of In Perfect Time on the “Inspired by Life and Fiction” blog. Only those in the U.S. are eligible to win. To enter, visit the blog “Inspired by Life and Fiction” and leave a comment on Sarah’s post.  Check back on that post next Saturday (8/23) to see if you won!

Disclosure: I’ve been given a review copy of this book by the publisher. This generosity, while appreciated, has not biased my review. I also post some of my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.


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