Monday, June 29, 2009

What A Difference 100 Years Make

This week I'm celebrating a birthday.  Well actually, I celebrate birthdays in small ways with treats all month long. Already my Mom sent me a lovely card, a thoughtful gift and a fascinating clip from a neighborhood newspaper about what it was like living many years ago. The caption is, “What a difference a century makes.”  I have to admit it's a fun read, but what exactly is my Mother trying to say by sending it to me on my birthday, hmm You can read it for yourself below.

Here are some statistics for the Year 1909:

The average life expectancy was 47 years.
Only 14 percent of the homes had a bathtub.
Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.
There were only 8,000 cars and
only 144 miles of paved roads.
The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.
The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower.
The average wage in 1909 was 22 cents per hour.
The average worker made between $200 and $400 per year.
A competent accountant could expect to earn $2,000 per year.
A dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year and
a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.
More than 95 percent of all births took place at HOME.
Ninety percent of all doctors had NO COLLEGE EDUCATION!
Instead, they attended so-called medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press and the government as 'substandard. '
Sugar cost four cents a pound.
Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen.
Coffee was fifteen cents a pound.
Most women only washed their hair once a month and used Borax or egg yolks for shampoo.
{People also used lye soap to wash their hair and skin. Homemade lye soap killed poison ivy, poison oak and took tough stains out of laundry!}
Canada passed a law that prohibited poor people from entering into their country for any reason.
Five leading causes of death were:
1. Pneumonia and influenza
2. Tuberculosis
3. Diarrhea
4. Heart disease
5. Stroke
The American flag had 46 stars. {New Mexico, Arizona, Alaska and Hawaii had yet to come into the union.}
The population of Las Vegas, Nevada was only 30!
Crossword puzzles, canned beer and ice tea hadn't been invented yet.
There was no Mother's Day or Father's Day.
Two out of every 10 adults couldn't read or write.
Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.
Marijuana, heroin and morphine were all available over the counter at the corner drugstore. Back then pharmacists said, "Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and bowels and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health."
Eighteen percent of households had at least one full-time servant or domestic help.
There were about 230 reported murders in the Entire U.S.A. {I wonder how many murders were unreported! Or undetected!}

After considering the world 100 years ago, aren't you happy to be celebrating birthdays in the 21st century? So much has improved. People are living to be ripe old ages, and with the touch of a button information, music and video can be sent around the globe in seconds.

The article suggests we, "try to imagine what it will be like living 100 years from now."

Just think: What new technologies and inventions will there be? Which diseases will be cured? How will life be better? What will homes look like? How will people work and play? What will transportation be like? And how will the map of the world change?

And while we're at it, why not imagine how we'd like for the world to be in 100 years and contribute to making it happen for all humanity.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Moving Towards The Sun

Summer is here. It officially arrived on June 21, the summer solstice, a turning point in the earth's journey towards the sun. So unless you live Down Under {Hello Australia!!} let the longest days and warmest time of the year begin! I love the easy, breezy days of summer when the great outdoors can be enjoyed like no other time of the year. And isn't a summer wardrobe cheaper, easier … skimpier and more fun to put together? Even at swanky affairs you can get away with showing up in a no fuss dress, or light cotton slacks – looking comfortable, casual and smart. Leave your multi-layers and neutral beige at home. Whip out a spectrum of lively colors to go with the sunshine and adventures of the season. Now is the time to relax, kick back your heels and play.

This year the summer sales started early. Already retailers – with good price points all year around – are offering 20%-70% off on everything you need for the summer. They include:

Lands' End – Expect to find quality fabrics and well-made clothes, shoes and beachwear for men and women. Choose from a large inventory of 40% off. Prices range from $10-$35.
Newport News – They are known for their ultra low prices and cute styles. Sun-kissed tops, flirty skirts, pants and capris are listed from $8-$25.
Gap – They are offering 20%-50% reductions on summer clothes for men and women. For a limited time you can get jeans [in stores only] for $19.99. [Regularly: 49.50-69.50] Prices for most tanks and tees are $9.99.
Old Navy – They have weekly specials for men and women. You can get up to 50% off on tops, pants, shorts, dresses, swimwear and accessories. Prices range from a hard-to-beat $5-$30.
Victoria's Secret Catalogue – Their semi-annual sale is on. You'll find a big variety of tops, skirts, dresses, jeans, swimwear, shoes and accessories discounted 20%-60%. Prices start at $10 and go up.

All of the merchants offer weekly deals, so check their websites before you buy for up-to-the-minute savings, plus free shipping. Now go out and make the most of your summer.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Celebrating Father's Day

Photo by Natalie Kimball
My Father … perhaps like yours … had many attributes. He was smart, funny, creative, patient, a gentleman; the list goes on and on. But the quality I remember most was his reliability. He was there for you. You could count on him ... and his good judgment. Even during spats as a teenager, I was secure in the knowledge that he was totally on my side.

I was lucky to have a caretaker dad. The summer I turned seven my two front teeth were missing. All summer my Dad cut watermelon into cubes so I could eat it. When I was 25, my Dad came to visit me in New York. Before leaving to return home he told me that of all the things he accomplished in his life, being a dad was the role he enjoyed the most.* And perhaps that's why he was so good at it and explains why I always knew he approved of me and would go to any lengths for me. Whatever the circumstances, good, bad or ugly, he was there for you.

My Father died a few years ago, so I'll spend this Father's Day Sunday remembering him and all the years we had together. And I'll feel lucky to have had him as my Dad.

Happy Father's Day to all fathers. May you receive the gift of having your children nearby and knowing how much they love and cherish you.

Ideas for Father's Day:
1. Spend the day with Dad. Engage in activities he likes. [a meal, theater, music, a movie, sports]
2. Call him and have a leisurely conversation. Be open and accepting. Take your cues from him and listen twice as much as you talk.
3. Make or buy him his favorite music. [records, CDs, or program an ipod]
4. Give him a favorite book.
5. Order him a magazine subscription he'll enjoy.
6. Put together a basket of favorite treats.
7. Fill a need, or bring him something that will make his life easier.
8. Spring for season tickets [for two] to an activity of his choice. Go with him if possible. [If you can afford it, make it for 3 or 4 and include your mother and/or spouse.]

*At the time of Dad's remark we were out sampling New York pizza, and I wondered what made him say such a thing. I was surprised, but pleasantly surprised.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Ever Cooked With A Culinary Treasure?

"Nestled" in the Appalachian Mountains of Tennessee sits a company that's been making cast iron cookware since William McKinley was president. Established in 1896, Lodge Cast Iron has been owned and operated by four generations of the Lodge family. Amazingly, some of those first skillets, griddles and Dutch ovens are still in use today. That's 113 years of use!

There are many reasons why cast iron pans get handed down from one generation to the next. They are exceptional heat conductors. Cast iron heats evenly, consistently and retains heat. To say they are durable and a good value is an understatement. With the proper care, a skillet will last several lifetimes.

Cast iron skillets are the original – and natural – non-stick pans. After "seasoning,” they get better with age. With chemically treated pans, the Teflon wears off after a few years. Cast iron pans never stop working, and there's no perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a carcinogen, to worry about.

Seasoning a cast iron pan is easy. You coat it {inside and out} lightly with vegetable oil and bake it upside down in an oven heated to 300 degrees for 60 minutes. The oil fills in microscopic pores to create a smooth non-stick surface and keeps your pan rust-free. You're supposed to clean your cast iron cookware with hot water and no soap, because using soap will remove the seasoning. But I've never had a problem using a drop of soap and hand-washing it with a sponge, or scrubbing it with a piece of aluminum foil. I simply brush the skillet with a little olive oil the next time I cook.

A cast iron pan is so versatile. It can be used on top of the stove, in the oven, on a grill, or even over a camp fire. You can make the best tasting pancakes on the griddle and month-watering stews in the Dutch oven. I love cornbread "fried" in a skillet that has been brushed lightly with oil.

Professional chefs swear by cast iron. And imagine never having to replace your cookware. Even after 100 years, you simply clean, season and use it. A 10¼ inch skillet sells for $22.95, but you can find it for less. Grandma really did know best.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

High Fashion Runway Meets Mass Market Retail

Like many woman, I try to buy beautifully designed dresses, skirts and pants that are well made and last many seasons – unless that is, I'm looking to add a trendy piece to my wardrobe. In that case, I don't mind if the dress or top only lasts a season or two, and I don't usually pay a lot of money for it. Sorry Tommy Hilfiger – but in general you can get away with spending less than $30 for fun (and summer articles) like tanks, shorts, tees and even dresses. Last summer I found a cute 100% cotton dress at H & M for $10, and honestly, I never fail to get compliments on it. Today, I wore it to a doctor's appointment, and my MD wanted to know where I got it! As it turns out, my doctor shops at H & M too. Obviously, our bad economy has hit everyone.

The exciting news is many leading designers, known for their high fashion couture and celebrity clients, are teaming up with mass retailers like H & M, Target, JC Penny and others to bring out a collection of affordable clothing for men and women. Now more than ever you can be cheap and chic at the same time. And why not?

Here are a few retailers who have hired famous designers and are offering trendy clothing at lower prices.
Target signed:
Alexander McQueen – He is known for his bright, vibrant patterns. Prices range from $23 - $80.
Carlos Falchi – He designs leather classic, yet modern handbags and accessories. Prices will be announced.
JC Penny hired:
Charlotte Ronson – Her line is called “I Heart Ronson.” She is known for her floral skirts and frilly dresses. Prices range from $15 - $65.
Uniqlo signed:
Steve Allen – He is known for his button down shirts and unisex, urban appeal. Expect to pay $39-$59.
Jil Sanders – She is known for her minimal aesthetic style and clean lines. Prices will be announced.
Max Azria – has joined Maley Cyrus to design a rock music inspired line of clothing and accessories for teens. Everything sells for under $20.
H & M signed:
Mathew Williamson – He is known for his fun, bold colors and prints. Prices start at $25.

And finally, remember the summer sales began at the end of June. You're sure to see generous markdowns and reap big savings.

You may also enjoy:
Welcome To The USA Joe Fresh  
What Is A Snood?  
Stow And Go Travel Hats  
Save On Summer Fashion Essentials