Friday, November 2, 2012

Just Checking In!

Hello All!

I'm sorry it's been a while since I posted- I've had a crazy week but it's all working out well! I've got some VERY VERY VERY exciting news but I can't jinx myself and can't share it with you for another few weeks yet! I'm sure you can probably guess what it is anyway! 

Anyhow, Jon is going to visit his parents this weekend and I'm not feeling 100% so don't think I could manage the drive so I'm staying home (and looking after Kitty). However, I am going to make a Pecan Slice for Jon to take with him to share with his folks. It's one I usually put Southern Comfort in, but not this time! I'll share the recipe with you later. 

Sorry this is so brief- I'll catch up on posting this weekend, I promise! I've just been a bit out of sorts the last few days (but in a good way!). If you're Religious, please pray that all will go well, or otherwise just hope for the best for me. I'm so excited but SO nervous! 

I'll post more soon!

Stay Glamorous!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Historic Aerial Photos + My House's History


I recently came across this website which offers aerial photos from various years throughout the 20th century. You just punch in your address and voila! 

In 1958, my subdivision was still under construction as is evidenced by the below photo. Ignore the 2011 Historic Aerials watermark all over it- I haven't wanted to pay for an aerial photo yet (although was thinking it may be kind of neat down the track to have one of the area under development).

I've put a star over where my house is going to be!

And no, I'm not too worried about stalkers because from the air, this subdivision looks like thousands of others popping up around America in 1958 (and dozens upon dozens in the St. Louis region alone). 

It's hard to imagine- but the entire area in the above photo is now filled with houses- all of which popped up within a year of this photo. 

The previous owner of my house, 'Birdie' as she was known to neighbors, bought the house off the plan with her husband Rich in 1958 and moved in upon completion in 1959. 

It must have been so exciting to move into a brand new home in the suburbs and particularly into this subdivision (which is still regarded amongst the best in the area, astonishingly). They left North City along with droves of other middle class Caucasians seeking the space, safety and fresh air that the suburbs then provided.

Considering Birdie & Rich's previous homes (thanks, Census records!) their new suburban ranch must have felt like a dream come true.

Here are (the late) Birdie & Rich's previous homes before moving to the suburbs, as they stand today:

Also in JeffVanderLou:

Obviously these houses didn't look like this when Birdie & Rich lived there over half a century ago. However, when you consider that the second house was a duplex occupied by 11 people (including Birdie) in 1940, it must have been such a boon to have her own, spacious 2100 sq ft suburban home less than 2 decades later. 

As Birdie passed away in Feb 2012 according to the STL Post Dispatch obituaries, and Rich in 2002 (as evidenced from information I found within the house) they surely saw the decline of their childhood homes. I wonder if they ever ventured back to North City to see what became of the houses they grew up in?

I wonder if the decay and neglect haunted them as much as it does me? Or were they just so thrilled to be away from the city that the decline of their former neighborhood didn't phase them. 

I'm of the impression however (no offense intended to anyone) that JeffVanderLou has always been on the shady side. In the early part of the 20th century it was occupied by immigrants and former slaves. I could be wrong- but from my general knowledge of St. Louis in the mid 20th century, this, even then, could have been considered the slums as seen in this video from the 1950s:

This video was evidently filmed sometime post 1956 as the fabulous Mid Century Mod Lambert St. Louis International Airport Terminal is shown at the 0:41 second mark. At the 4:56 mark, the ill fated Public Housing complex, Pruitt Igoe (also completed in 1956) can be seen in the distance. 

Pruitt Igoe was developed in an effort to ease the crowded slum conditions that plagued St. Louis in the Post-War years. The project, like a lot of 'Tower Block', 'Public Housing' and 'Council Housing' efforts throughout the world, ultimately failed and the complex was demolished after less than 20 years in existence.

I highly doubt that Birdie or Rich ever lived in Pruitt Igoe, considering they had the funds for a new suburban house by 1958. Also, from letterheads I found in the house (which was also confirmed by the neighbors), Rich referred to himself as a financial executive. In spite of having been raised in a less desirable area of St. Louis, Rich and Birdie had done quite well for themselves.

They both had Irish Immigrant backgrounds and their Catholic faith was important to them (from the number of Crucifixes left in the home). 

I wonder if they met here- at Saints Teresa and Bridget Church (est 1865) on North Grand Boulevard. They would have lived 0.5 of a mile and 0.1 of a mile away respectively, so it's highly likely that this would have been their church.

Another possibility is that Rich and Birdie met through Rich's cousin, James J. Eagan who lived just a few houses away from Birdie in JeffVanderLou, with his family here:

Seemingly modest beginnings for the longest serving mayor in Missouri, and the second longest serving mayor in the entire United States (he was in office 1963-2000). 

Family must have played an important role in their lives, as James lived just around the corner from Birdie & Rich in their new suburban subdivision. My neighbors told me that it was a long running joke that the reason our subdivision got such good snow plowing service, was because the Mayor lived there. 

Birdie & Rich frequently hosted Democratic Party events at their house (now my house) for James. According to my neighbors, the amount of entertaining used to be a great drain on Birdie, but the Retro Party Pad with the lux coral & mint wetbar in the basement makes a lot more sense knowing this. 

The streets where these people grew up is now subject to extreme blight as evidenced below.

If this is what had become of my childhood home, I would be all the more thrilled with my mid century modest ranch home in the suburbs.

I want to love and appreciate my house as much as they would have. They evidently looked after it- even if the garden needs some care and there are still some repairs to do. You probably think I'm psycho / stalkerish wanting to know so much about the late occupants of my home, but I think it's only fitting that I understand them, in order to appreciate my house all the more. 

(Yes, I know the Grass is dead and the bushes need some TLC- this was taken 7 months after Birdie's passing so the garden saw some neglect until my husband and I purchased it in September).

Houses need to be loved. They need to be respected and appreciated. The stories they tell are the ones of those who've lived there in decades past. You can feel when a house has been loved and respected in it's lifetime. 

I can't wait to move out of our shabby two bedroom home here in NC and into my St. Louis house. I only hope that I can give it the respect and appreciation that Birdie and Rich did.

Stay Glamorous, and love your house! 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sunday Supper: Asian Noodle Salad

Good Evening!

Okay- I realize it's cold outside and you are probably craving something hearty and toasty from the oven, but if you feel like changing it up a bit this recipe is divine. It's a delicious way to get your Vegetables in (you can really add whatever Veg you want, this recipe is super versatile) and it makes a lot- so you can pack it for lunches the next day as well as having leftovers for dinner! I usually like to serve it with some Vegan Chick'n but it's fine just on it's own, too!


Asian Noodle Salad:

1 lb box Thin Spaghetti (cooked according to package directions)
3/4 cup Rice Vinegar
1/3 cup Soy Sauce
1/2 cup Honey
2 Tbsp Ginger, minced
1 Tbsp Garlic, minced
4 Tbsp Sesame Oil + 1 Tbsp extra
2 Tbsp Sweet Chili Sauce
1 can Baby Corn, drained
1 can Bean Sprouts, drained
2 Green Peppers, sliced
1 Red Pepper, sliced
1 Yellow Pepper, sliced
4 Green Onions, chopped
Sesame Seeds
Honey Roasted Peanuts, to serve

1) Cook Spaghetti according to package directions. Drain into colander and rinse with cold water to cool down noodles completely. Toss in a dash of Sesame Oil to prevent noodles from sticking together.
2) In a large bowl or container, combine Vinegar, Soy Sauce, Honey, Ginger, Garlic, 4 Tbsp Sesame Oil, Sweet Chili Sauce. Taste test the mixture- add more Honey for sweetness or more Soy Sauce for saltiness.
3) Fold in cooled Spaghetti into dressing mixture (I find it easiest to do this a few scoops at a time to ensure that each bit of Spaghetti is covered) and combine well
4) Add all vegetables and some sesame seeds and fold in
5) To serve, garnish with Honey Roasted Peanuts 

Weekly Menu Plan: Oct 28, 2012- Nov 3, 2012

Another week, another menu! 

I realize it's too cold by usual standards to have cold noodle salad- but that stuff is so good I'm craving it! I'll be posting the Recipe for it later today!

Also, I'll be creating a category underneath Homemaking for my weekly menus so you can view my older ones easily.

Stay Glamorous!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Saturday Night At The Movies: The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

Hello Readers!

With Halloween almost upon us I was initially going to watch a typical Halloween-esque film tonight but then I decided to rewatch another of my favorite love stories, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir from 1947 starring Gene Tierney as Lucy Muir and Rex Harrison as The Ghost, Captain Gregg. I suppose it's kind of appropriate for Halloween since there is a ghost in it- but it's far from a ghoul fest and it's far from a horror film!

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir opens in turn of the century London. A young widow, Lucy Muir informs her inlaws that she wishes to move with her daughter and maid to the seaside and expects to live off her late husband's income from stocks in a Gold Mine. 

Upon arriving, she realizes that her budget restricts her to Gull Cottage- a home that's been abandoned for 4 years since the apparent suicide of it's owner, Captain Daniel Gregg. Although the real estate agent valiantly attempts to deter her from the property based on the rumor that it's haunted, the defiant Lucy decides the cottage is perfect for her and her daughter.

Almost immediately after she moves in, she's confronted with the specter of the Captain. An unlikely friendship evolves between the callous specter and Mrs. Muir- who soon earn each other's utmost respect. 

Things go awry for Lucy however, when her inlaws inform her that her husband's gold mine stocks have crashed and she will be left without an income. Lucy couldn't think of anything worse than having to leave her seaside cottage and move back to London- can the Ghost come to her rescue?

A supernatural love affair blossoms between the Widow and the Ghost, 43 years before Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore hit the big screen with their box office smash. 

Also featured in the film, is 9 year old Natalie Wood who plays Anna Muir, Lucy's daughter. 

Overall, this film is absolutely beautiful. The backing music alone is stunning- and seems more suited to an epic or Alfred Hitchcock masterpiece. The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is perfectly cast and perfectly directed. It's a love story that transcends life and the after life. 

Put your typical Halloween films on hold this year, and give The Ghost and Mrs. Muir a chance. I'm sure you'll love it as much as I do!

It is currently available for viewing on Netflix.

Until next week, Stay Glamorous!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Frugal Fridays: Affordable Cruelty Free Beauty

Hello Dolls,

First of all- I would sincerely like to thank those who left such kind words of support in my comments the other day. For the record, I'm feeling a lot better. Obviously the issue of the move hasn't gone away and all of the costs that we're going to face in coming weeks, but I'm just taking every day as it comes right now and I have faith that all will work out for us. 

Anyway, on to my frugal advice of the week! 

Buying products that are not tested on animals is a big deal to me. With that said though, I know that I have products throughout my home which sadly, are (detergent, laundry soap, clorox bleach, etc) but when I can afford it or when I have the option, I definitely prefer to opt for cruelty free items. 

When it comes to makeup however, I only shop cruelty free which in itself has some challenges. Most of the run of the mill drug store / big box store brands are tested on animals. It's a very infrequent occasion that I will splurge on cruelty free brands such as Too Faced, Urban Decay, etc at Ulta or Sephora (usually only when there's a major sale or I have coupons). 

So what's a girl to do!?

Here are my favorite drugstore / big box store brands that are cruelty free and affordable!

1) E.L.F. Cosmetics

E.L.F. Cosmetics (Eyes Lips Face) is so ridiculously cheap that makeup junkies will think they're in heaven! The majority of their products are $5.00 or under and they offer a huge range of beauty tools- everything from brushes, nail polishes, makeup sets to false eyelashes. 

I have a few of their items (lip gloss, eye palettes, nail polish, mascara, eyeliner) and one of the downsides is that some of their products are sub par, in my opinion. You really have to do your research and read the reviews before opting to buy E.L.F. products as even though you'll only be a few dollars out of pocket if you don't like something, it's better off not spending it in the first place!

I've found their Lipglosses and Nail Polish to be decent. Their eye palettes are okay- but for vivid color you really need a good primer (their primer isn't very good in my opinion) and they may not last as long as you are accustomed to with higher end brands. The Mascara is awful and to be stayed away from!

However their Cream Eyeliner is amazing! Their gift sets too, are fun and affordable. Overall, I do think E.L.F. is worth checking out for the price + cruelty free aspect but definitely read the item reviews first!

E.L.F. is available at Target in the U.S.

2) Hard Candy

I first started using Hard Candy years ago when it was still a premium product sold at Sephora. They disappeared for a while and then re-emerged as a discount brand. Their packaging is admittedly juvenile and obviously aimed at the teen market, but don't let that put you off!

Most items are around $6.00 (therefore a little more expensive than E.L.F.) but I swear by their Eye Shadows! Everything from their regular Duos to their special palettes. They offer vivid, vibrant and long lasting color (more so than E.L.F). I'm yet to try their Mascara as they always seem to be out of stock. I remember their Mascara being decent though when they were a premium brand in Sephora.

The Lipgloss I keep in my purse daily is Hard Candy's Sheer Lip Shine in Heartbreaker (light pink). It's lasted me ages and I continue to be happy with it. I'd buy it again! 

So, if you can look past the tacky packages, Hard Candy is all in all good value for money (and has always been Cruelty Free).

Hard Candy is available at Walmart in the U.S. and Canada.

3) Bonne Bell

I realize this is another brand geared towards teens (hey, I loved Bonne Bell in my teens!) and when you think Bonne Bell, you think Lipsmackers!

However, Bonne Bell is far more than just fruity flavored lipgloss. Bonne Bell actually offers a wide variety of beauty products ranging from $3.00-$10.00 and they often have online printable coupons and often have sales! 

I've always found the quality of Bonne Bell very passable- the makeup applies smoothly and the color is always rich. Plus, Bonne Bell makeup always smells good! I keep Bonne Bell Lip Lites in Strawberry Parfait in my glove compartment of my car and it's a treat. A few years back I actually had a similar color in a Chanel lipgloss and the quality is actually comparable, believe it or not! Don't discount it as a 'kids' product so quick!

Bonne Bell is available at various locations throughout the U.S. and world

4) Physicians Formula

This is by far the most expensive brand on this list- but it's such a well known drugstore / big box brand (that does not test on animals!) that I couldn't leave it out!

Physicians Formula cosmetics are great- but range between $7.00-$15.00 which is on the expensive side for non-beauty store brands. Their products are lovely though, and often multi tasking!

I have the Physicians Formula Shimmer Strips (technically a bronzer) but use it as Eye Shadow and it's on par with MAC Cosmetics in the result it produces! I honestly have never owned many Physicians Formula products (aside from foundations and the before mentioned bronzer) so I can't give an all encompassing review, but from the products I have used I can assure you that this is a very nice brand and if you feel like splurging, it's worth it! It's still half the price of a lot of Beauty Store brands!

Physicians Formula is available at various locations throughout the U.S. and world

Anyway, I hope that gives you a tiny bit of insight into some very affordable and easily obtainable brands that are not tested on animals! I would like to add a quick bit of advice though:

IMPORTANT: A lot of companies state on their website that they do not test on animals except when required by law. Unfortunately, nine times out of ten this means they do test on animals! 

A lot of major makeup brands that were formerly cruelty free (including MAC, Avon and Mary Kay) have shifted their production to China due to cost cutting. Chinese law currently requires animal testing on all cosmetic and pharmecutical products developed and produced there. Therefore, any beauty product made or sourced from China is tested on animals! Read more about it here.

Don't you feel just a little more glamorous when putting cruelty free items on your face? 

Until next time!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Random Rant of a Military Wife

Evening / Morning,

This is straying from my usual topics of conversation but I just feel the need to vent. Actually, I'm so stressed out about this that it's probably the reason I'm having trouble sleeping tonight! 

As I've mentioned, my husband is getting out of the Marine Corps on Nov 22 (therefore less than a month). This is posing two minor short term financial problems. 

We sunk every dime we had, literally, into buying our house in Missouri. I don't regret it, but it bust our bank account to pieces (we'd budgeted in the repair costs which have been taken care of for the most part). Right now, it's paycheck to paycheck and EVERY penny counts because first of all...

1) We had anticipated / budgeted for the military paying for our move- or most of it. The military will pay for the cost of moving to your home of record (even if you're moving in another direction). My husband's parents live in Florida, his cars are registered there, even his bank statements used to go there. He assumed that this was his home of record (in which case the cost to us for the Missouri move would be minimal). Not the case. Somehow, they have his home of record listed as being in North Carolina. Anyway, despite the screw up, the military isn't willing to fix it. So, we've got to fork out of pocket for moving costs. Bah Humbug! :(

2) Husband got told yesterday that they're having ALL dress uniform inspections (Alphas, Charlies and Bravos) this Friday. Oopsie daisy! Husband hasn't worn his Dress Blues or Alphas in about 2 years! And they were tight on him then! He's not fat, but he's filled out a lot since boot camp when they were originally fitted. Lo and behold they don't fit. So this evening after work I started calling around all of the pawn shops looking for a used 44 L in a Dress Blues Coat and Alphas Coat and Husband went out to hit the shops in person. Nowhere had a 44 L. Nowhere! Unless we wanted to fork over $329 for a new set of Dress Blues at a military store in the mall. Ugh! 

Finally, husband settled on 48 Ls which were far too big- but got the coats for $100 a piece second hand (still a lot of money) and then went to the repair shop to get them altered (because they need a lot of taking in) and they are charging him $90 per coat! That's $380 spent today!

And he didn't even find pants to fit- that's the expedition for tomorrow! 

UGH it hurts my head. I know it's not Jon's fault. He told his Sgt that he was getting out in 3 weeks, why in the world should he have to buy new dress uniforms for the sake of an inspection? He was threatened with an NJP though if he didn't turn up with all uniforms at the ready (NJP = Non Judicial Punishment. Sometimes it's nothing, other times they can put you on half pay and restriction depending on their mood).

It's absolutely stupid. Mind you, the cost of the uniforms is less than what half pay would be! 

He has turned in all of his weapons and SIF gear (flak jacket, kevlar, etc) already and had his final physical and dental so he's clearly in the process of getting out... yet he still has to buy new uniforms... tsk tsk tsk! 

Anyway, I listed his old, small ones on Craigslist and Lejeune Yardsales so I'm hoping I can get at least a tiny bit of money for them to help cover the costs.

OH and lastly, the transmission on my car has decided to die. That's going to be another $1500. 

It never rains, it pours, right? 

Transmission + The Move + Uniforms = $5000 :( 

We will work it all out. All is not lost. I just feel the need to vent my frustrations about everything going on. 

I know that we should have had a lot more of a buffer zone when we bought a house. We wanted much more of a buffer zone. In fact, we were looking at houses $10k-$20k less than what we ended up spending. However, the houses at a lesser price needed so much more work done, that it was unfeasible. The house we ended up getting, albeit more than we initially wanted to spend, was still significantly under appraised and market value so we did get a better deal in the long run.

I don't regret buying the house, but by gosh we're hurting because of it right now :( 

I hope your week is going better, Glamour Dolls!

Don't worry about me, I'll cheer up. I'm just having a bit of a pity party for myself here right now! I know everything will come good in the end, it always does :)