4 Jul 2012

An Excerpt From My Never-To-Be-Published Children's Book

"Good morning, Jen!" said The Old Friendly House.

"Good morning, House!" said Jen as she dressed to go to work.

"It sure was nice when your parents were here visiting," said The Old Friendly House.

"Yes, it sure was," said Jen.

"They replaced the filter in my air conditioning unit with a clean one!" said The Old Friendly House.

"They caulked up my windows and sealed my leaks!" said The Old Friendly House.

"They even cleaned up my yard!" said The Old Friendly House.

"Yes, wasn't that wonderful of them?" replied Jen.

"It sure was," said The Old Friendly House. "It was like an actual adult lived here."

"Heh," said Jen.

"But now they've left, haven't they?" asked The Old Friendly House.

"Yes," said Jen. "It's just you and me now."

"OH GOOD," said The Old and Suddenly Not-So-Friendly House.

And with that, The Old Friendly Asshole House let in a hoard of ants into the kitchen.

"Try to ignore these!" cackled The Old Asshole House.

"Ah, crap," said Jen.

But The Old Asshole House wasn't done yet.

"Come upstairs, Jen!" shrieked The Old Asshole House. "Come see what I'm doing now!"

So Jen walked up the stairs.

And opened the bathroom door.

And discovered her toilet was flooding all over the floor.


And Jen winced.

And the house laughed and laughed.

"Mommy and Daddy aren't here to take care of this for you, are they?" snarked The Old Asshole House. "Let's see you deal with this, big girl!"

So Jen stood there.

And stood there.

And then wandered off non-dealingly to blog about it.

"Oh for fuck's sake," sighed The Old Asshole House.


15 May 2012

Yeah, I've Still Got It

Source: TheStar.com
This morning when I was taking the crowded subway to work, I noticed in my peripheral that there was a man sitting across from where I was standing who was slowly checking me out.

From the corner of my eye I could see that he was starting at my face, was making his way slowly down my bod, down my legs, all the way to my ankles and then back up again. He didn't seem to care about how obvious he was.

It was a little boost of self-esteem, and I found myself casually trying to stand a little straighter as I oh-so-gently ran my fingers in my hair.

And then I decided to glance directly at him.

It turned out that he was asleep and was merely bobbing his head.

Yeaaaah, me.


11 May 2012

Thank You

You guys are beyond lovely. You're more awesome than all the cupcakes and zombies and bacon in the world (although I've been told that burritos are the new bacon. Rest assured, you're better than all of those too).

Thank you.

My gift to you is to not predictably include a Dido or Alanis Morissette song in this post, rather to include one that is just simply fantastic that I hope you enjoy:
Have an amazing weekend, everyone!


7 May 2012

Oh, Internet, The Things You Don't Know ...

I've decided to edit this down and remove most of the post; the bulk of it probably should have just gone in a sparkly diary with a little pink lock.

I'll just leave it as:

1) Patrick moved out yesterday.
2) I'm "not the same girl he married."
3) There's more to it than that.
4) I feel hurt, humiliated, and betrayed.
5) I'm certain he feels sad, too.

He's not a bad person, I'm just not the same girl he married; I'm so much better than that.


3 May 2012

This Will Make Your Day

Stop whatever you're doing and play this right now. Trust.:



25 Apr 2012

Happy Secretary's Day! How's Your Vag?

Care for a side of horrifying along with your morning coffee? Yes?! Your non-wish is my command.

When you were preparing for your career, what kind of advice did you get? Take some courses? Dress for the job you want, not the one you have? Learn Photoshop already and stop depending on MS Paint to relay all your visual thoughts?

Well, if it was 1959 and you were a secretary (that's old timey for "Administrative Professional") and were reading the career advice book, The Executive Secretary by Marilyn C. Burke, you'd learn that you could gain an important professional advantage by keeping the lady bits in check.

I shit you not:

"Now that we are smartly dressed, our hair and nails well-groomed, and our faces at their best, we can ruin the entire effect in ways that even our "best friend won't tell us about" ... perspiration odor, unpleasant breath, or the telltale scent of carelessness about our feminine hygiene. So many of us are careless about unpleasant odors about our persons. We have a tendency to feel that "if I can't smell it, it isn't there." Unfortunately, unpleasant body and breath odors are like an unfaithful mate - the possessor thereof is quite frequently the last to know!"
"Women must be even more careful about the unpleasant and very obvious odors that may accompany "that time of the month." A frequent changing of sanitary napkins and the use of any of the deodorant powders that are available for the express purpose will do away with any chance of offending during this period of the month."
Luckily for secretaries concerned about "feminine daintiness", help is around the corner - one need only ask the building's janitor for a helping hand.



19 Apr 2012


Here's a fun picture I found in the 1948 career book, How To Be A Successful Advertising Woman by Mary Margaret McBride:

"One agency technique of developing advertising-copy themes and merchandising and promotion programs is through idea-sessions, sometimes called "brain storms." The rule in brain-storming is absolutely no criticism. Anything goes. Nobody says "But that wouldn't work," or "How silly!" Try it yourself. Get a gang of your friends together - concentrate on a single problem. Watch how one good idea sparks another, how that sets off a third - and before you call it a day you may have some original and highly effective thinking on paper."
Anyone else out there believe that the people who are adamant that "there are no bad ideas in a brainstorm" are the kind of people who exclusively come up with horrible suggestions? (Based on their expressions in the photo, I think the plump brunette and the annoyed blonde on the right agree with me. That is the look of people who have just heard a stupid idea. Trust me, I am sadly VERY FAMILIAR with those glares.) Under normal conditions, the contributions of the unimaginative would be Darwin'ed out of contention, and so they use this weird brainstorm rule to swaddle their ideas in bubblewrap and trot them on stage as if we were all at a body-positive open-mic poetry slam and not at a business meeting.

Jen's Jerk-off Opinion of the Day: Crappy ideas shouldn't have a safe place.

I'm not saying we should attack ideas mercilessly (in business, be kind! Always!), I'm just saying we shouldn't pretend they're just as valid as a really creative / thoughtful / strategic suggestion. If there's an obvious problem with an idea, shouldn't that be pointed out before the team dedicates any more time to it?

What do you think?

Also ... don't you love it that in the picture above, "brain-storming" was still new enough to have quotation marks around it? Remember when they were so foreign to us that we had to use quoties around "web site" and "viral video" and "Spanx"? Aww ... those sweet, slimmer days of yesteryear.


5 Apr 2012

What The Hell, Dude?

Remington Rand ad
from the January 1953 Charm
That was the subject line of an e-mail I received from a blog reader who wanted to know what was up with the lack of food pictures and overly sentimental fawning for the oldy times on this amazing space on the Internet.

There are a few well-known bloggers who have taken steps away from their public spaces because of things like divorce, death and depression.

My absence is because I lost my goddamn mind:

I got a full-time job.

What the HELL, dude?

I know, right? It kind of came out of nowhere. I was minding my own business, freelancing without a care in the world, when BAM! Full-time employment.That's really how it happened, sound effect and all. I was freelancing for a Toronto ad agency for ten days, told the CEO that I should probably work there forever, she agreed and said that was her secret plan all along, and all of a sudden I'm wearing pants with a zipper and getting up before noon on a regular basis.

What the HELL, dude?

It did not hurt that I'm basically the most awesome employee ever who is oozing with talent. Well, that, and the CEO is a former boss of mine and someone that I'm good friends with. Heh. Welcome to Nepotism. Population: Me (And My Friends and Family).

What the HELL, dude?

Eh, that's getting tired. Enough of that. So, yeah. Not only have I been working full-time, I've been working, like, double full-time. The agency is so swamped with work that I clocked 270 hours at the office in March, which is basically the sort of thing that happens right before a person runs into the street naked and starts pounding their hands in the pavement. Or something.

But as I've gotten the hang of the role, started to make positive changes in the department, and knocking things off the clients' lists, things have been much more reasonable lately. While working at an ad agency is never going to be a 9 to 5 gig, I feel like things are normalizing.

And y'all know I don't "do" normal.

So, as long as I don't regularly end up staying in the office until 10 PM, I'll be embarking on a supremely flawed lifestyle experiment to compliment the 50s Housewife Experiment:

The 50s Career Girl Experiment!


I've been collecting oodles of books, magazines and articles that deal with working women in the 1950s, and it's time that I shared all this horrifying marvelousness. I'll attempt to follow career advice, business etiquette, marital advice, home keeping advice, and fashion and health suggestions that were given in the 1950s for "the girl with a job".

It will be all kinds of wrong as I'll still be living in the land of laptops and cell phones, but I'll do what I can to explore the decade's advice and put it into practice. And, naturally, because of the industry I happen to work in, there will be a somewhat annoying desire to label what I'm doing as "Mad Men'ing" ... but, eh, if the shoe fits ...

It'll be a little while before I put everything up here and set the experiment up officially, but I hope to share fun snippets and crazy tidbits here and there while I get this latest gong show rolling. And here's one to get us started, from the introduction to The Executive Secretary: Techniques for Success in a Secretarial Career by Marilyn Burke (1959):

What the HELL, dude?


9 Mar 2012

I'm Not Dead, But I've Been Busy

... so, Internet, please tell me what I missed this week. I literally have no idea what cat video is meme'ing right now and that troubles me deeply.

And that troubles me deeply.

What were the highlights of this week? Did we get a peek of Snooki's bum(p)? What's the baby animal de jour? (it was hedgehogs last time I checked. Are hedgehogs still hot?? I need to know!) Are women in the States still allowed to have sex?

I'm serious - I need a report!


2 Mar 2012

Awful Things I Think #8239

I wish the TTC had the means to gently electrocute passengers who disobeyed the courtesy rules of public transit.

I have it all worked out. Here's a small example of crimes and suggested punishments, based on what I've seen just this week while 'riding the rocket':
  • Wearing your backpack in a crowded subway: a wee reminder shock
  • Leaning on the poles when people are trying to hold onto them: a short buzz of electricity
  • Trying to get onto the subway while people are still filing out: a quick tazing
  • Pretending you don't notice the person with mobility issues who you should offer your seat to: a jaw-clenching jolt
  • Eating durian on a streetcar: LEVEL 10 DEATH RAY


28 Feb 2012

Vintage Dream Home Decor Inspiration x3

Hello! The good people at the UK-based Appliances Online have asked if I could link to their Smeg appliances in exchange for my weight in Marmite and warm beer. I've long loved the retrodorableness of Smeg, so it was a corporate whoring made in heaven.

Who's ready for some vapid consumerism?! I AM. I swear I didn't spend this much time looking at things I wanted to buy before Pinterest came along. Now, looking at lovely things has practically become my hobby (and thanks to today's sponsored post, it's also my job. How great is that?).

One of my reoccurring fantasies is that if I won the lottery (I'm talking about All-That-Is-Wrong-With-The-World money), I'd buy one of those old homes in the Annex that has been split into several apartments and renovate each unit to reflect a different decade. I'd then rent out the apartments temporarily to professionals looking to do period photo or film shoots, or to people who wanted to host a fun dinner party or bridal / baby shower with a retro-ish theme.

SAD FACT: As you can see, I've actually spent time coming up with a business model to support my fantasy - because even in my dreams there is no way in hell, regardless of how rich we ever were, that Patrick would let me buy a million dollar house just to decorate for "funzies". I don't entirely blame him; I doubt I'd be jazzed to purchase a home that would pay homage to his interests. The Manchester United House of Hot Dogs would have to wait until after my ashes were scattered.

But anyway, BACK TO ME AND MY IMPORTANT POST. If I had three apartments to decorate, I think I would do Art Deco 1930s, Wartime '40s, and Mid-Century 1950s (that last one's a total surprise, right?). I'd obviously want to track down original pieces from those periods to put into the apartments, but realistically (and possibly safer in a health and fire hazard kind of way) I'd also snag vintage-inspired pieces, especially when it came to appliances.

So - wanna see what I'm what I've been up to today while I was "working from home"?:

1930s Art Deco Home Decor Inspiration (I'm down with the pinks in this era):

1. 1930s K.E.M. Weber Lounge Chair - 1stDibs
2. Jacques Adnet Mirrored Coffee Table - 1stDibs
3. Pink French Boudoir Chair - 1stDibs
4. Walnut and Chrome Fold-Out Bar - L.A. Vintage Furnishings on Etsy
5. Silver-plated Champagne Bucket on Fluted Stand - Newel
6. San Francisco Fox Theater 1930s Rug - Art Deco Collection
7. October 1930 issue of Vogue Magazine - ParisVogueBazaar on eBay
8. Bagley Grantham Pink Glass Clock & Vase Garniture Set - Art of Glass on eBay
9. 1930s Pink Petal Chandelier - richardshorse on eBay

Wartime 1940s Decor (went with lots of yellowy-creams and deep greens):
1. Handmade Curtains, Early 1940s Fabric - Eva Wagenfish Emporium on Etsy
2. Edward Wormly Chanel Back Club Chair - 1stDibs
3. 1940s Walnut Desk Lamp - 3xJacks on eBay
4. Smeg FAB10LP Fridge Freestanding Cream - Appliances Online
5. Airline 1940s Tube Radio - iOffers
6. KitchenAid Mixer in Almond Cream - Sears
7. October 1942 issue of Ladies' Home Journal - Papergoy on eBay
8. Green Vinyl 1940s Wingback Chair - InValuable

Mid-Century 1950s Decor Inspiration (blues and reds called out to me!):

1. Smeg Right Hand Hinge FAB28QV1 Fridge Freestanding - Appliances Online (I'm torn on the colour! I like them all! Which could you choose?)
2. Betty Crocker Picture Cook Book - Iowa Book Farm on eBay
3. 1955 Hide-A-Bed (vintage ad from my collection)
4. Walnut Mid-Century Bedroom Dresser - GUFF
5. Federal Glass Amoeba Pitcher - Fab Five Friends on eBay
6. Marco Zanuso Wingback Chair - ICollectAntiques.com
7. 1950s Blue Burst Wall-Papered Drum Shade - Fondue on Etsy
8. Vintage Paint-by-Numbers Artwork - Nomar on eBay
9. Olivetti Underwood Lettera 22 Portable Typewriter - Jacklom3 on Etsy

And this doesn't fit into any era accurately (although it has a lovely 1950s vibe) but I'd want it in ALL of these apartments: the Smeg washing machine. HOW ADORABLE IS THAT? It is killing me with cuteness:
Ok - so, if money was no object, what would you put in your vintage-inspired dream home? Which era turns your design crank the most?


24 Feb 2012

And Then I Jizzed. In. My. Pants ....


Kitchenaid Deluxe Edition mixer in Almond Cream. In my kitchen. For me. Forever.

Can I get a "Fuck Yeah!"?

Also? It's a Pinplement. AWWWWWYEAH.


22 Feb 2012

The Rebuttal: 1950s Housewives Blast 1950s Business Girl

If you saw yesterday's post, I showed you bits of an article from the March 1950 Chatelaine in which "business girl" Beverly Gray tells housewives how much they suck. In June of that year, the housewives had their chance to bite back in the article, "Housewives Blast Business Girl".

According to the magazine, over 500 housewives wrote letters in response to "Housewives Are A Sorry Lot" and Beverly Gray's phone rang off the hook with calls from irritated readers. This was all pre-Google, so women actually had to put time and effort into tracking down and stalking this lady ("You say I'm silly and leading a wasted life? THIS'LL SHOW YOU!"). I wonder how many psychotic phone calls were received by people listed under "B. Gray" in phone books around Canada:

"I've learned a lot more things about housewives I didn't know before!"
I'm sure they're all super flattering observations, too.
Seems Bev, a newspaper woman, was kind of like an early version of Canada's favourite sweetheart: the ever attention-seeking, ever judgemental Christie Blatchford. I wonder who could out-grump the other. My money's on Blatch.

The commotion was so great that Chatelaine decided to post a few pages of snippets from many of these letters rather than provide one uniformed response:
Sure, sure. If comment sections on the Internet have taught us anything,
it's that people respond to criticism with "tolerance and good humor."
The quotes from 1950s housewives can basically be placed into five different categories ...

I'll Have You Know That I Am Very Busy And Important. CRAZY IMPORTANT:
The census man rolled his eyes. "Sure thing, lady," he said as he checked the box marked "housewife."
Yeah, you heard me. I said it. PIE. They don't bake themselves, you know.

Preach, sister, preach! (Well, except for that first part.)

Business Girls Suck More Than We Do:
I think it's a rule that no one looks good on public transit.

Just wait until the Internet shows up.
... a shoplifter's dream.

... They're Also Dumb Sluts:
BOOM. Suck it, skanks.

I Feel Sorry For You Because You Can't Get A Man, Haven't Had Babies, And Clearly Don't Know What True Happiness And Fulfillment Is:

Same old disposable income, same old independence ...

... well, that and Valium.
Beverly Gray Is A Fucking Bitch With No Friends (And Is Probably A Big Ol' Lesbian):
Haters gonna hate.
Ah, good stuff, ladies. Good stuff. I have a feeling you'd fit in just fine with women today.


21 Feb 2012

Women: Judging The Shit Out Of Each Other Since The Dawn Of Time

From the March 1950 issue of Chatelaine, "Housewives Are A Sorry Lot" by Beverly Gray:

Get mad all you like. But somewhere in this article there's a truth for every one of us.

Beverly Gray, a business girl, looks over her married friends, shudders, takes reef in her girdle and strikes out these observations:
  • Marriage brings about a full stop in mental development.
  • As soon as the wedding is over a woman drops phoney interests in such things as sports, politics, and world events.
  • Her life channels into a narrow domestic little tunnel.
  • A girl expects her husband to be a combination of Ronald Coleman, Gregory Peck, and Humphrey Bogart.
  • Chat with any housewife and she's sure to bring the conversation round to how terribly frustrated she is.
  • If the individual housewife is a saddening sight, housewives in the mass are appalling. 
I want to know what kind of day Beverly Gray had that made her plunk her ass down at the typewriter and write this all out.

I don't know why I love this so much - it's got to be the bluntness and the how-dare-she'ness of it all. It, of course, only gets better from there:

And it goes on and on ... basically labelling housewives as lazy bags who let their looks and minds melt to mush on account of their obsessions with crap like soap operas, romance magazines, and running a home. Throughout the article, Gray has no sympathy for the women who put themselves into this position, but rather, she feels bad for the husbands who have to come home to these griping "militant matrons":


She gives no advice on how women can become happier creatures - that's not the point of the article; the point is: Beverly Gray has an opinion and a rabid need for attention. Why else publish something like this?

But, oh, how I love it. Her opinions are so unapologetically out there; wild, swinging, untethered punches to the face and stomach, as if they were Lindsay Lohan's boobs on the way to a courtroom. I think I adore it (the article, not Lohan's rack. Well, maybe Lohan's rack, too) because it's so ridiculous.

We, of course, still judge each other all the time, but do we really care that much about how other people live? Do we really feel that strongly about it? It's so easy today to get online and barf an opinion out about anything, but does that really reflect how we feel about each other most of the time (presuming we really spend that much time thinking about others at all)? And do we really care what other, totally random people think of us? Do you?

According the June 1950 issue of Chatelaine, over 500 housewives wrote in to comment on the article. I'll pop some of those entertaining replies in the next post!


16 Feb 2012

Dinner With Grandma

Holmes & Edwards ad from the
March 1947 Ladies' Home Journal
Patrick had soccer on Valentine's Day so we instead had a mini celebration on Monday, and on the actual Day of Hallmark's Emotional Exploitation, my good friend Anissa came over for dinner, desserts, and a lot of booze. It was all also the perfect excuse to initiate a very special gift I received from my aunts and my parents.

A few weeks ago, I was delighted to accept the most wonderful package from my Aunt Teresa, my Aunt Janice, and my parents: It was a completed set of my Grandma Price's silver.

My Grandma and Grandpa Price
in 1947.
Four days after she turned 24, my grandmother married my grandfather in 1947. At some point after that (whether it was a gift or something she collected on piece at a time, we're not sure), my grandmother acquired the Youth silver pattern from Holmes & Edwards. It was a very popular pattern, one that some baby boomers might recognize, and retailed for just under $70 in 1947. It's sweet and special and features little flowers that almost anyone with a preference toward the traditionally feminine would be charmed by.

It's a set that has seen decades of anniversaries and parties, family dinners and tea with the girls. Eventually my grandmother acquired another set of silver, her own mother's (my Great Grandma Steffler's), and that set was later gifted with much love to her daughter, my Aunt Teresa, in celebration and in honour of Teresa's wedding. It was a big surprise to Teresa as my Great Grandmother Steffler's silver set was something my grandmother still quite cherished, but Grandma Price felt it was time to hand it off. She wanted to see Teresa enjoy this little inheritance while she was still alive  - and it was a gesture that was met with many tears and hugs.

And that fall, my grandmother unexpectedly and sadly passed away - something that made the early gift of an heirloom that much more emotional and sentimental.

After the funeral, my grandmother's original wedding silver eventually went to my aunt Janice, but she found that she didn't get as much use out of it as she would have liked. She offered it to Teresa, but she, too, didn't use it on account of already owning her Grandmother Steffler's set. And so they thought of who in the family might appreciate it and use it more, and a certain someone with a vintage obsession and disturbing love for dining came to mind. Yay for being a Fatty '50s Weirdo!

My Grandma Price's Holmes & Edwards pattern was typical of a woman who had raised a brood of children (eight kids!) - there were a lot of incompletes. Once, when asked where all the teaspoons went, my grandmother joked (but not) that they were probably in a sandbox. With my Aunt Teresa's work and my parents' help, they filled in the spaces, replacing the pieces that had been lost to sand castles of the 1950s and '60s, and then sent the completed set to me, tagging the forks, spoons, and knives that had been newly bought.

And so, I naturally did what anyone would do with such a thoughtful and sentimental gift:
Image Source.
HAH. You guys have no idea how incredibly and thoroughly dead I would be if I wasn't joking. I'd be murdered so hard by my aunts that my lifeless carcass would actually make Kristen Stewart look like she had an emotional range. I don't even think there would be dental records left to properly identify me.

In reality, to "break in" this beautiful silver, I did something much nicer and life-preserving: I made a special meal that my grandmother might have served, using recipes from the Steffler Family Cookbook (which I've mentioned once before when I went on a bender for prairie foods).

For dinner with Patrick, I adapted my grandmother's recipe for Shrimp Puffs and instead used tuna, so as to not kill my shellfish-allergic husband:

I then made Crispy Parmesan Chicken, whipped mashed potatoes, gravy, and buttered broccoli:

Happy Hubby:

For my ultra romantic dinner with Anissa, I cooked up a vegetable soup and we enjoyed two of my Grandma Price's desserts: Pecan Pie and Almond Cherry Cake.

I know the Almond Cherry Cake looks suspiciously like the dreaded fruitcake, but I promise, it is really frigging amazing. Because Patrick likes chocolate, I added chocolate chips to the mix. Next time I make this, I might replace the candied cherries with sour cherries or maybe even dried blueberries just to see how it compares.

For me, food is a simple everyday way to share and show my love and appreciation for my family and friends, and there's no better way to do that than with the help of someone who was so caring and special, my Grandma.

Thanks again for this beautiful gift, Teresa, Janice, Mom and Dad. I love it.


13 Feb 2012

Nothing Says 'I Love You' Like A Cow Organ On Your Plate

Looking for a special Valentine's Day Menu for you and your sweetheart? Want to give it a vintage touch? Want to watch him run, screaming in the other direction? Then I have the 1950s Valentine menu for you!:

That's a whole lot of red on one plate. This beauty of a suggestion is from the Searchlight Homemaking Guide and I'm not sorry to say that they didn't include a recipe for the Baked Heart, presumably because they knew no one sane was going to make it. 

"Happy Valentine's Day, darling. I hope you know how much I love you - but if you didn't, here's something you might remember from your high school dissection class. It represents my feelings. Eat up, lover!"

I have, however, included the recipe for the Cranberry Heart Salad which, if you know 1950s cookery, you have likely already guessed that it's yet another testament to the wonders of gelatine:
Yum, yum. Who doesn't love biting into whole cranberries? 

Patrick, if you're reading this and you are about to curl up into the fetal position, let me assure you: My Valentine's gift to you is that I'm not making any of this. That's how great of a wife I am.

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Need words? I'm a Toronto-based freelance writer who injects great ones into blogs, websites, magazines, ads and more. So many services, one lovely Jen (with one 'n').

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