Sunday, September 30, 2012

Airstream Dreaming

Good Evening Glamour Dolls and Homemakers,

Today to my list of links I added Little Vintage Trailer. I think I came across this website ages ago but forgot the URL. Almost as long as we've been together, my husband and I have been talking about getting a Vintage Airstream. 

Despite my many tens of thousands of miles in the sky and hundreds upon hundreds of hours spent at airports throughout the world in my lifetime, I've developed an aversion to modern day air travel. I find airports and security a pain in the back side, modern aeroplanes increasingly uncomfortable, other travelers more inconsiderate and overall just do not enjoy the experience anymore. Also, considering I've almost exclusively upgraded to first/ business class (terribly not frugal but it was for the sake of my sanity) for the past 6 years, the cost of air travel has become almost prohibitive. 

My favorite methods of transportation are Ships and Trains. Obviously though, Ships are normally for cruising in nowadays so unless I want to go on a repositioning cruise, it's not really going to get me anywhere! Plus, I haven't been on a ship now since the end of 2007. Where does time go?

Trains I think are wonderful- and we are getting a High Speed Rail link between St. Louis and Chicago! Thank you AMTRAK! This will be amazing and just another reason to more frequently visit my 2nd favorite city, Chicago (St. Louis being 1st of course). 

Not to derail the point of this post though, (derail, get it? oh I'm hilarious!)- Jon and I want an Airstream. Part of it due to the Retro Romance factor, partly due to practicality.

We think that caravanning is probably an affordable way to see this beautiful country we live in, although obviously Gas Prices are getting a bit out of control. However, we'd certainly be saving on Hotel bills- and no need to pack and unpack or risk staying at some fleabag roadside flop house! 

Maybe we're old fashioned or just way too sentimental- but don't you think a vacation in the family Airstream sounds like fun? Or do you think it would turn out like Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz's disasterous experience in The Long, Long Trailer?

Another obstacle that we of course have to overcome (much like Lucy & Desi in the above film) is the fact that we don't currently have a vehicle capable of towing an Airstream! So of course there's kinks in our plan... but we can always dream, right?

Until next time, Stay Glamorous!

Saturday Night at the Movies

One of my favorite films, Anatomy of a Murder from 1959 starring my beloved James Stewart is currently available for viewing for free with Amazon Prime! 

Anatomy of a Murder tells the tale of a lawyer (James Stewart) defending a young military officer in a murder trial. Although the young man is undoubtedly guilty of the crime, was it justifiable homicide?

The film, directed by Otto Preminger features stellar performances from James Stewart, Lee Remick and George C. Scott. 

So what are you waiting for? Get the Popcorn out, put your feet up and let James Stewart take you on a bumpy ride! 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

House Document Organization

Just a quick post today!

As you know- I was previously mentioning the plethora of documents that are involved in owning a house! It's insane! When I was last at Target, I picked up a couple of Greenroom Recycled Hanging File Boxes normally priced at $13.99.

However, there were only about 3 left of the pretty patterned ones on the shelf at my Target and all were a bit scuffed up / damaged (it looked like they'd been dropped a few times or possibly mishandled in by shelf stockers or during shipping). I asked an associate if there would be any discount due to the condition and pointed out the flaws who in turn asked a manager. 

So, I ended up getting these boxes for $3.99 each! Eventually I'm going to need to buy a filing cabinet but these are perfect for right now, and a very pretty way to keep my most important house related documents! 

It just goes to show- it's always worth asking! From this angle, the boxes look perfectly fine!

Stay Glamorous!

Frugal Fridays: Saving Money At The Salon!

Good Evening!

Initially I started a ridiculously long post on frugal living. As you're aware, my husband and I are 100% debt free. To be honest, we've never really been in debt (after my first year of University I had a HECS debt which is a kind of student loan in Australia, but I promptly paid that off after the first year and paid all subsequent classes outright). Staying out of debt and staying frugal is a lot easier than getting back on track if your finances are a train wreck! Anyway, I thought it would be cute to share some frugal tips with you each Friday, starting with today!

Saving Money At The Salon

As you can probably gather, I am a girly girl. I love clothes, I love makeup, I love looking and feeling pretty. However, pretty often comes with a price tag! 

I worked in the hotel industry for 6 years and image was everything. I had to look put together and presentable at all times! This meant perfectly manicured nails, neat and styled hair, and professional looking makeup. 

I admit that I got Acrylic Nails for years. Also, I used to spend about $200 every month at the salon on my hair alone! Mind you, I used to have a good job. But looking back, I cringe at how much money I spent! 

My Frugal Friday Solution? Your Local Beauty School! 

Actually, they're called Cosmetology Schools nowadays, but we all know I'm stuck in a bit of a time warp! 

Now, don't cringe and back away- don't think "Oh my goodness I don't want some amateur kid touching my hair! What if they mess it up?". At most schools, they won't let the students run wild on your hair, but don't expect the salon experience to be as quick as you're used to either. Plan to be there at least a few hours.


Depending on the level of the student, he/she has to consult with their teacher before and after every major step to ensure they are getting it right and to ensure that you are happy with the progress! It seems tedious at first, but wouldn't you rather that process than for some poor stylist to send your hair candy pink like Frenchie in Grease?

Also, be aware that the teacher may take over your hair and use you as a demonstration for the rest of the class. This has happened to me a few times. I don't mind. Actually, I find it really interesting!

The best thing about all of this though is the money you can save. For a color and cut, I would spend anywhere between $20-$30 depending on whether I had any coupons and what exactly I had done! This is HUGE savings on your regular salon bill! A cut and blowout alone I believe was about $8-$10 at the particular school salon I went to! 

Another advantage beyond helping students achieve their dream of becoming stylists, is I found them to be a lot more welcoming of new ideas, styles and techniques. Usually, if I told a regular stylist to give me something retro or to give me victory rolls they would look at me like I was out of my mind! Students on the other hand want to learn and want to experiment- so tell them you want color, curls, a Veronica Lake Peek a boo Bang or anything in between, and they'll most likely happily strive to get it right!

I was fortunate enough to have a wonderful young lady at the school Salon do my hair every time for the past year and a half. She recently graduated however and is moving on- and unfortunately as I'm in the process of relocation too I won't get to see her! However, she always put in 100% effort and always did an amazing job with my hair! 

You better believe I'll be going back to Cosmetology School Salons to get my hair done after I have relocated to St. Louis for good! The savings are worth it! In one year alone, of opting for the Cosmetology School Salon over a regular Stylist- I saved over $2000!

Also, I started doing my own nails and toenails as opposed to getting them done at a nail spa (another $1200 in savings over the course of the year!). 

My nails are a bit shabbier since I don't have acrylics anymore, and my toenails aren't always as shiny and painted as they used to be, but my hair is just as good as it's ever been and the savings have made the small sacrifice worth it! 

So look up your local Beauty School today! Ask about their salon hours and pricing- you may just find your new favorite future hair stylist, and save a lot of money in the process!

Until next time,
Stay Glamorous!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mid Century Modest vs The McMansion PART 1


I think I need to rectify / justify a comment I made in my Target Haul post yesterday. I stated that the house DH & I purchased was over 3 times the size of my prior home. This is true, but only because our last house was tiny! Our new Mid Century Modest ranch is just over 1500sqft on the main floor or 2100sqft including the finished section of the basement (plus another 900sqft unfinished but the only things in there are the washer, dryer, furnace, etc). With that said, the house DH & I have lived in the past few years was just a tad over 700sqft (so a third of the finished area of our new house). 

Personal numbers aside though... compared to the average, new American home, our house is small. Neither Jon or I wanted a 'McMansion' though. We saw a fair few listings for them within our price range, but aside from not being our cute little Mid Century Modern dream, a McMansion just wouldn't fit our lifestyle or attitudes. 

Sure, I would ideally love a big walk in wardrobe and huge master bathroom. But do I really need a 'Master Suite', Media Room, Atrium Ceilings and everything in between? No, not for the life Jon and I have planned out for ourselves.

So, without offense to anybody here, let's talk about house size over the past decades:

The 1940s:
In 1940, according to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics the average newly built house size was 1200sqft. Following World War II however, the baby boom also meant a housing boom for the suburbs. Largely recognized as the first planned 'Suburb', Levittown on New York's Long Island (incidentally where my mother-in-law grew up) started in 1947 with modest 2 bedroom house plans of 750sqft. 

Why the sudden dip in house size from 1940? Part of it was due to the 'mass production' idea of suburbia. These were modest houses for families of modest means- often leaving city apartment living for the greenery of suburbia. For the developer, they wanted to fit as many of these houses as possible on their land and get them up as swiftly and affordably as possible. It's not much of a stretch to say that many of the first owners of Levittown, NY properties were probably former GI's with young families who had not owned homes of their own before. They were, what we would now describe as starter homes.

In 1949, due to the burgeoning interest in California style homes, the Levitt Brothers revised their home plans to appear more like the Ranch House that later became so prevalent in the 1950s. The new Ranch floor plans were 800sqft. 

The Levitt's went on to build 3 more suburbs called Levittown throughout the U.S. in the 1950s (Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland) in addition to one in Puerto Rico in the early 1960s. The swaths of suburbia had begun. The Levitt Brothers may have started the craze but it was soon duplicated and modified all throughout the U.S. 

The ideology of the American Dream as we think of it today, had begun.

The 1950s:
By the 1950s, square footage had increased to 1000sqft. Up from the Levitt Brother's initial suburban plans, but still a decrease from the standard in 1940 (during the pre-suburban boom). Unlike the original Levitt plans however, the average home size built throughout the 1950s featured 3 bedrooms for the growing, post-war family. 

While it was common in the earlier part of the century for children to share a bed, the notion was becoming outmoded in the U.S. with the new found prosperity. It was now commonplace for children to all have their own beds, and where possible, their own bedrooms. 

In these houses, 1 bathroom was still 'the norm'. Considering that as recent as World War II, a third of homes in the U.S. still didn't have indoor plumbing compared to the majority by 1950, it was still somewhat of a luxury to have a complete indoor bathroom. With that said however, the  bathroom size had somewhat reduced since the earlier part of the century (although in the earlier part of the century it was often only the upper middle classes and wealthy who had indoor bathrooms, or else a former bedroom was converted to be one). The decrease in bathroom size throughout new builds in the 1940s and into the 1950s was to economize on space and costs. Despite the economical size however, color permeated bathrooms with more vigor and excess than it had done in previous decades- Peacock Blues, Greens, Yellows and of course my favorite, Mamie Pink.

Be sure to check out Save The Pink Bathrooms

Another important shift in 1950s house design in the U.S. was the trend toward integral garages. 

The United States was automotive- crazy. By the end of the decade, 80% of American homes had at least 1 vehicle. 15% of American homes had 2 or more. In 1956, the very first stretch of the Eisenhower Interstate System was laid in St. Charles, Missouri (in the Greater St. Louis region) and is now part of I-70 which stretches from Maryland on the East Coast to Utah. The interstate system was another blow to inner cities all throughout the U.S. as they allowed people to live further out into suburbia yet still commute to their downtown jobs with ease. 

To keep up with this new, autocentric world, attached garages became commonplace in suburban subdivisions throughout the United States in the middle to late 1950s. 

The Kitchen, too saw a shift throughout the decade. At the beginning of the 1950s, the average Kitchen size was 78 sqft and by the end of the decade, 95sqft (almost the 100sqft it is today). The notion of Post-War domesticity and the vision of the ideal 1950s homemaker no doubt attributed to the focus on larger kitchens. Additionally, the number of Kitchen Appliances (both luxury and the norm) available to the average consumer was greater than it ever had been. Refrigerators, Dishwashers, Stand Mixers, Toaster Ovens and many more gadgets were making their way into American kitchens.

British cousins across the pond however, didn't have it so good yet (yes, that's a pun on PM Harold MacMillan's quote). American Homes vs British Homes throughout the century though will have to wait until another post, or you'll be here all day reading! 

My house was built in 1959 and almost fits the archetypal notion of a suburban fifties home. This particular subdivision, although modest by modern standards was better than average when the plot lines were drawn and these houses went up. In fact, Florissant's long-serving mayor (the second longest serving mayor in the U.S.), James J. Eagan lived in the subdivision for decades from the time it was built. Henceforth, the houses were a tiny bit larger than your average 1950s home. An extra bathroom here, a bit of extra square footage there. Not luxurious or extravagant by any means, but no doubt a welcome change from the cramped city conditions, and a step up from the first wind of suburban homes in metro area's 'inner rings'. 

By the end of the decade, the sprawl that began in the 1940s was reaching dizzying heights with tracts of farmland and wilderness throughout the country being razed to make way for the new suburbia.

The 1960s: 
The 1960s began with even larger houses- 1200sqft. The average layout of the 60s home wasn't too different from the 1950s but often incorporated more living space and a tiny bit of extra bedroom space, often in the form of built in closets. 

If you have lived in or toured a modest 1950s suburban home (especially from the earlier part of the decade) you will know that closet space is a luxury! Many 1950s houses I've seen only had a single door closet in the bedrooms- can you imagine? It's not because builders were being stingy- but because people genuinely had less than we do today. However, as the 1950s saw a dramatic rise in consumerism during the prosperous Post-War years, houses toward the end of the decade and particularly beginning in the 1960s featured larger closets. 

The extra living space, as before touched upon, was due to the increased importance in home entertaining. For those of you familiar with Mad Men, you will also be familiar with the parties thrown by Don & Betty and the prominently placed Betty Crocker Hostess Cookbook in Betty's Ossining home kitchen (faux pas though on the prop departments behalf! The book was published in 1967, a few years after that particular season of the show was set!).

As I personally own a copy of the book, I can guarantee that as fun as it is, it's more of an insight into 1960s living and expectations than anything else. It assumes that you are married, or planning to get married. It assumes that your husband will want his boss over for dinner. It assumes that you will want to get ahead in society. 

The solution, to make your husband, friends, husband's boss and your society acquaintances happy? Dinner Parties, Cocktail Parties, Buffets, Ladies Luncheons, Smorgasbords, and a plethora of other entertaining ideas, sure to run the hostess ragged. (As ragged as you may feel however, you still must look a treat!). 

More Americans now had the means to entertain. America was a wealthy, prosperous country in the early 1960s with a strong, comfortable middle class which could afford to entertain on a regular basis. Separate family rooms started to make their way into home designs- saving a formal Living Room strictly for company or entertaining, not unlike the concept of the Parlor or Front Room in Victorian and Edwardian times. 

I grew up in a 1960s home in Australia. It was reasonably spacious with 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. Of course, it also had a Mamie Pink bathroom (which my mother is in the process of ripping out, ugh!). 

Unrelated to size, color in the 1960s (a continuing trend from the 1950s) also reflected the country's prosperity and positive attitude. Homes were lavished in bright oranges, greens and yellows and of course, a lot of Formica. 

By the end of the decade, houses had bulked out even more, with the end of the 60s seeing an average square footage of 1450sqft- almost double the Levitt's original suburban plan in the 1940s! 

The era of super sizing was approaching.

STAY TUNED FOR PART 2! 1970s-1990s!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Which Jane Austen Heroine Are You?

I've been catching up on a lot of blog reading today- searching blogs similar to mine and trying to reconnect with the 'blog' community that I've been neglecting for so long! I came across this fun little trinket, Which Jane Austen Heroine Are You? on Retro Homemaking. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

OrganizHer Haul + Mini House Update

Hey There!

Gosh I really don't blog often enough. Things have just been super hectic with the house and trying to get everything straightened out! Today though, I went to Target to buy cat food and a ledger (to track the household expenses) and another file box to keep receipts and ended up coming across these super nifty little organization books called OrganizeHer. I ended up buying four of them and have spent the afternoon getting my receipts, contractors phone numbers and account numbers in order in them! 

The paper trail in owning your own house is ridiculous. At the house my husband and I have been renting we only have four main household bills (Rent, Electric, City Water, Internet). Now at the house we bought we have:

-Waste Collection
-Home Owners Insurance
-Home Warranty Plan
-Security System
-Furnace Service Plan

In addition to the fact that I've had bills for the Furnace Repair, Electrical Upgrade, Plumbing Upgrade, etc etc. 

Obviously, my husband and I do not have a mortgage (thank goodness) but we will have to pay Property Taxes at the end of the year as well. Also, we don't have a TV or any satellite/ cable set up of any kind- and haven't done so in three years. Personal preference. 

Anyway- I organized all of my receipts and paid bills into file boxes (I'll picture those another time) and am hoping that these little organizers will help keep everything else in check:

And now a closer look at each! 

First of all- this one is pretty much your run-of-the-mill daily organizer for the most part. It's divided into months/ days but each section is separated into Mine, Theirs, Meals which is pretty neat! In other words, if I had something going on I'd write it in the Mine section or anything my husband had to do in the Theirs section. 

I really like the fact that there is a section for Meals though. I've been trying to get more organized as far as menu planning goes. I'll be fine for about a month and then I'll go totally off track! Menu planning is so important though when you're trying to stick to a budget! I'm usually pretty good about making grocery lists and sticking to them- but I feel this will help me stick to our planned meals more! 

Next up, is a mini Calorie Tracker. This is so basic but it was cheap and I thought it was cute. I need to start counting my calories again because after losing a tonne of weight a couple of years ago, I've piled a lot of it back on! I want to get healthy again because Jon and I want to start trying for a baby. Yes it's official- we're trying for children! That's why I want to shift some pounds in a healthy way first to ensure I have the best chances possible of getting pregnant! 

Next we have an Expense Tracker. The pen in the side wasn't included- I just shoved one in there after I filled out a few things pertaining to the house repairs and bills! I'll probably try and find a pretty pink or grey pen to match the book eventually. Again, it's very basic but very useful- it reminds me of the little books that used to come when you ordered a cheque book to track your expenses! Very cute! 

And yes- I have spent a LOT of money this month- this is not a normal month by any means! Getting the house taken care of is VERY expensive!

The column on the far left is whether expenses are planned or unplanned- which I think is a neat feature! So far I've only had one unplanned expense this month and that would be the sewer overflow. Our home warranty covered most of it but I still had to pay a deductible out of pocket :(

Last but not least- an address/ contact book! The first section is pretty normal and straight forward- but it also has a section for Services where I've filled out all of our utilities with the contact details and my account number for each (I didn't take a photo of that because you don't need to know my account numbers! Unless you wanted to pay the bills for me!). 

Overall though it's very cute. I hate relying on my smartphone to store all of my relevant billing information. In the last 3 years I've been through 3 phones- they've all either died on me or spazzed out in some way or another. Keeping a paper backup therefore is vital! You never know when your much loved technology will fail!

Overall- these are very, very cute products. They feel decent quality (not superb but not cheap) and I really like the colors/ designs of the front of the books. 

I've made a pledge to myself to keep organized in my new house- these are part of the first baby steps! 

I'm not saying that my old house was disorganized- it was always neat and I always knew where everything was at least but part of the problem was that due to lack of space and lack of storage areas became multi use (for instance, my husband's Marine Corps Documents, College Documents, Health Records and Car Magazines were all in the same section at the bottom of the bookshelf... which made sense to me in my strange mind, but not to him!). Now that we are moving to a house over 3 times bigger- I'm hoping we'll be able to get a lot more organized!

Moving on... next up- I wanted a hammer, a tape measure, some picture hanging stuff and pliers- and instead came across this for $29.99 which had everything I needed and more in it!

I've seen similar before- but for the price I figured I couldn't beat it! And with Pink Tools there is no way they can get mixed up with my husband's stuff. Again, for organization's sake it's important that I have my own in the house. He can keep his in the garage and do as he will with them! I'm pretty sure the quality on this isn't great- but it will be useful nonetheless. After I've used it for a while I'll let you know how it goes!

Finally- I thought I'd give you a quick bathroom update! I finished painting in both of the main floor bathrooms and they look so adorably retro!

First of all- the Master Ensuite in Gentle Dreamland Pink (to match the vintage commode although due to the lighting you can't really tell)

And then the Guest Bathroom in Swimming Sea Turtle Green (although it looks more blue against the green of the tiles!)

Bathrooms aside- I came across a fabulous Danish Modern sectional sofa- it is huge but perfect for my formal living room! I took a photo of it after delivery- but it's not where/ how it's going to be placed and arranged permanently. It's just there for now until the other furniture gets moved in! 

Kitty Von Dee has already given it her seal of approval, too!

That's all I've got for now!

I am LOVING being back in St. Louis though- so much that I don't want to return to North Carolina at all! I know I have to- to pack and get my furniture... but ugh... St. Louis is so much better! 

Until next time, Stay Glamorous!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Mini Barnes & Noble Haul!

Hey There!

In between everything I had going on today (getting the internet arranged at my new house, getting the gas lines repaired, etc etc) I couldn't help but stop off at Barnes & Noble since I literally have one 3 minutes (0.5 mile) from my new house!

Excuse the dodgy motel room carpet underneath the books! (I'll be shifting over to my house tomorrow since I'll have hot water there!). 

Anyway- I purchased:

Atomic Ranch Magazine
Modernism Magazine
Fire in the Ashes- Jonathan Kozol
Ordinary Resurrections- Jonathan Kozol
Marilyn Monroe, The Final Years- Keith Badman

I usually don't buy modern magazines, but Atomic Ranch (and sometimes Modernism) are the exceptions. I started purchasing Atomic Ranch when I could only dream of having my 1950s ranch house. Well, now I have one! *pinches self*. I can't wait to turn it from old- lady back to it's atomic self! 

I purchased the Marilyn book because I'd heard rave reviews about it. I love Marilyn. I think she's a beautiful, talented, tragic figure in Hollywood history. Do I think she killed herself? Do I think she was murdered? I'm undecided. Either way, I know I'll easily sink my teeth into yet another biography of her. 

As for the Jonathan Kozol books- I'm a huge fan of his stuff so was thrilled to see two of his books that I didn't yet have. I first became familiar with his work when I moved to St. Louis and read Savage Inequalities which detailed the heartbreaking, shocking conditions experienced by the residents of East St. Louis in the 1980s (and honestly, not a whole lot has changed). I found his writing to be impeccable and his content regarding poverty in the United States to be thought provoking and extraordinary. I already own a number of his books- so two more will definitely be great additions to my collection. 

Before moving to the U.S., I never even thought about poverty over here. I knew it existed-I just didn't know to what extent. Since breathing in the slums of St. Louis, Detroit and Rural Kentucky and Tennessee amongst other places, I've come to appreciate how truly lucky and totally spoiled I really am. The concept of poverty both scares and intrigues me. 

Right now, the U.S. is experiencing the highest levels of poverty in half a century. 

I can bitch and complain about the shoddy little house my husband and I have rented for the past few years with the leaky ceiling, mold and threadbare carpet. But we chose to stay there. We could have afforded better. We chose not to because we wanted to save up for a house. The sacrifice was made by choice, not by necessity. 

Too many people in the U.S. don't have a choice, and live in far worse conditions than what my husband and I endured the past few years. Some of it has to do with the individual, surely, but a lot has to do with the system which no longer supports the American Dream and the ability to break through the social ranks. 

Minimum wage is too low in a lot of states- far below a living wage by any means. Also, with the complex, technology driven world we're living in, people are taught that they need excess and instead of living within their means, they're driven to take out loans that they often can't pay back. Another huge issue is the fact that your zip code dictates your school district. The poorer the zip code, the poorer the school district, the poorer it performs. It's therefore a vicious cycle- poor kids get a poorer education which doesn't afford them the opportunities to excel to their full potential and therefore, more often than not, it will keep them poor. 

This isn't meant to be a political tirade or political website though so I'll shut up now. Just venting!

I have a big day tomorrow- numerous contractors are coming over for various quotes! 

Stay Glamorous!