Monday, December 05, 2016

Woo, hoo! It's your lucky week, retro loving guys and gals! I've got another giveaway for all of you Go Retro readers, and this one's a delight. Up for grabs: one gorgeous copper, made in the USA cocktail shaker by Jacob Bromwell!

Full disclosure: I'm actually the marketing manager for Jacob Bromwell on a freelance, contract basis. As such, I've accumulated many of their products through the years and none of them have let me down. This company has been making their products in the USA since 1819 -- a defining factor that drew me to them in the first place five years ago. Jacob Bromwell was an entrepreneur who started a wire-weaving and housewares company in Cincinnati that made shoe brushes, dusters, window brushes, rat traps (shiver), mops, popcorn poppers, flour sifters, and more -- you know, all of the essentials that any frontiersman or woman needed to keep an early American home spic and span.

Today, Jacob Bromwell makes several kitchen utensils, flasks, cups, beer steins, money clips, camping utensils, and more -- and they still make their popcorn poppers just as they did in the early 19th century!

However, the product you can win is the Legacy Cocktail Shaker. Imagine shaking up your or your guests' favorite cocktails in this classy copper and stainless steel beauty this holiday season.

To enter, use the Rafflecopter app below. You must be a U.S. resident to win, and you can gain additional entries per the app's options. It will collect entries until Dec. 12th and I'll contact the winner on the 13th.

ONE MORE THING! Jacob Bromwell is offering HALF OFF all orders until December 20th! Just use the discount code SAVE50 when placing your order. This special discount is site wide and has no restrictions. So definitely check their site out! Also, we are running a special giveaway series now through December 12 on our Facebook page, so you may want to give JB's page a like and enter the giveaways we're posting on a daily basis.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, December 01, 2016

You wouldn't know it from my blog postings but I swear -- sometimes a lot. I recently reviewed a blog post I wrote on here five years ago about how the f word has lost its shock value in today's modern world, only to realize that I haven't really been practicing what I was previously preaching. Ever since that post I jumped on the f-this, f-that, and f-ing bandwagon pretty quickly and haven't stopped. Somewhat ironically, I mostly drop the f-bomb in conversation with my mother, of all people (hey, she does it, too!) especially when it's a topic I'm especially aggravated by or I need to put emphasis on the point I'm making.

Well, I'm making a New Year's resolution a month early, which I've already started today: it's time to start cutting it out. If I'm going to portray myself as the classy retro chick that I want to be, then there's no need for me to be dropping the f bomb at least a dozen times a day in normal conversation. I've gotten pretty exhausted from seeing it thrown out so casually on social media sites and usually by people younger than me.

I think a bulb went off in my head about how awful excessive swearing can sound when I watched a video that an acquaintance posted on Facebook a couple of weeks ago. It was supposed to be a comedic video of a woman making a vegan version of a "turducken" (that's when a deboned chicken is somehow stuffed into a deboned duck, which is then stuffed into a deboned turkey. Don't ask me who invented this culinary creation or why.) The woman in the video swore worse than a drunken sailor, throwing around not only the f word multiple times in one sentence, but the s word and the a word as well, in a calm voice. The person that posted it apparently thought it was hilarious; I thought it was stupid and I was so turned off by the profanity that I didn't make it to the end of the video. Needless to say, it was an odd way to promote veganism!

Then there was the video campaign put out by a feminist group a couple of years ago that featured little girls in princess costumes swearing and using the f-word. I get the group's intentions, which was to bring attention to equal pay for women, but felt there could have been a better way of delivering the message. "What’s more offensive?" the videos asked. "A little girl saying f*ck or the sexist way society treats girls and women?"

Um. Well...

What it did reveal to me is just how much further the word has lost its shock value. As I said in my original post on the topic, it seems that it's become such common language in videos and in blog posts that not many people bat an eye any longer at its excessive usage. I also get tired when I read it being used in a book, like if one of the characters uses it way too much.

There's also been studies published in recent years claiming that swearing "expands your vocabulary" and "makes you smarter." I've seen this one get shared a lot on social media, I suppose so that people can promote swearing and justify their own use of the f-bomb and perhaps feel slightly less guilty about their regular word choices (I'm not judging; just making a guess based on what I've seen.)

Don't get me wrong; I'm no goody two-shoes and it's not like I've never going to say a swear word ever again in my life. There's a time and a place for everything. I have also never said it at a job, or during events with a Meetup group and especially not when meeting people for the first time. Once I get to know someone, make friends with them, and hang out with them socially is when they start to see my f-bomb flag flap a little. But even then, I think I say it a little too much.

It's time to dial it down a bit. Time to stay classy, as Ron Burgundy would say. Who knows, it may just reach a point in our society when it's the people that can control their swearing become the ones that stand out. From this day forth, the f*** stops here.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Well guys, I finally did it...Go Retro now has a YouTube channel. After nearly a decade of writing this blog I've finally been motivated to jump on the video bandwagon after seeing some fun, professional videos from a couple of other vintage bloggers that I've been following lately and also, the blog had a very good year this year, with readership and page views increasing.

For my male readership, rest assured that this does not mean Go Retro is going to turn into a girly vintage fashion blog. As I explain in my first video, I still plan on writing plenty of content here that appeals to men, women, and both. Having said that, I HAVE been thinking lately that it might be fun to have a YouTube channel to cover vintage makeup and hair tutorials, recipes, stuff I've purchased, or anything else I feel like jabbering about. Truth is, I'm winging it a bit. As you can see from my first video below, I'm not using a fancy video recording camera like those really professional bloggers are using. But I'm sure these will get more polished, especially after I learn some video editing skills. (Looks like my posture needs some polishing in spots, too!)

My first video is below (please be kind!) I do have an idea for another video in the coming weeks, so you'll be "seeing" me again soon! I look forward to having some fun with this in 2017!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Now that Thanksgiving is done and dusted, and most of us are recovering from our turkey comas, it's time to start thinking about Christmas, Hanukkah, and any other gift-giving holidays. This year I've finally made the commitment to posting something I've been wanting to do for the past few years during the holiday shopping season: a retro gift guide! Throughout the past few years I've come across so many nifty new products with a retro slant that I thought I'd list them here in case you have a retro-loving loved one on your list to buy for this year. Now, I'm not going to tell you that "there's something here to please everybody" but I've tried my best to create a list that has items that appeal to men, and products that appeal to ladies. Anyways, here's ten gift ideas for the person that would like to bring a little bit of the retro into their modern life. Please note that prices stated were the prices available at the time I wrote this post; pricing and availability is, of course, subject to change. (And in case it's not obvious, the name of each product is also linked to where you can buy it online.)

1. Moon Beam Alarm Clock by L.L. Bean, $49.95

L.L. Bean has been selling this charming 1950s' style clock manufactured by Big Ben/Westclox for quite a few years now, and I own one and love it! You have the option of being awakened by the loud alarm ring, or the soft LED light (this second option, however, has failed to wake me up and if your head is turned away from the clock it's even less effective. Results may vary by sleeper.) It can be set so that just the light or alarm wakes you up, or both -- and the face has a soft backlight that can be switched on in case you need to check the time in the middle of the night. Of course, it is also has a snooze function, and runs on both electricity or two AA batteries so if you should lose power the little clock keeps on ticking. L.L. Bean currently has it available in an aqua blue or pale green; the model I have is a pastel yellow.

No radio, but need one with a USB port to charge your mobile device? L.L. Bean sells a version with that option.

2. Corelle's Vintage Charm Collection, Various Prices

I saw these dishes and bowls when I visited the Corningware (Corelle's parent company) outlet in Kittery, Maine a couple of months ago and if I didn't already have enough home goods previously purchased and in storage for my own house someday, I would have snatched some of these up, too. These were inspired by previous designs by Pyrex and Corelle during the 1970s, so if you want to bring a bit of that sunshiny '70s goodness into your home, check them out. My favorites are the Golden Days and Tickled Pink mixing bowls. Right now they're on sale on Corelle's website -- so as Bob Barker would say, the price is right!

3. Crosley Rochester 5-In-1 Entertainment Center, $88.00

Despite the changes in the music industry in the past few decades, the enthusiasm for vinyl remains high. I looked at several turntables this week on Target but this one caught my attention because of the fact that it can play cassettes as well as CDs, and the reviews said the sound was remarkably nice for the price. Plus I love its old timey, 1920s radio-style look. Target sells a ton of turntables by Crosley and Victrola in similar styles with various options, so if this one doesn't do it for you check out the others while the sale prices are in effect.

4. Qwerkywriter -- The Retro Bluetooth Mechanical Keyboard, $339.99

Missing the clackity clack typing sensation of your high school or college typewriter? Well, the Qwerkywriter turns any mobile device or desktop computer into a vintage typewriter, without the need for whiteout or an ink ribbon. It pairs with any Bluetooth-enabled device. A little pricey, but such is the price we pay for nostalgia.

5. Ladies' '70s-Inspired Flower Power Long-Sleeved Crewneck Tee and Blouse From Talbots, $34.99 and $59.99

I have the machine washable woven cotton top on the left; the colors are fabulous, the fit is close to the body, and will add some pop to your winter doldrums. The blouse on the right is made of rayon and probably not as cozy for this time of year, but brings back that 1970s fun nonetheless and both look great with jeans. Talbots has been having online sales on various items nearly every day, and these as tops have been on sale quite a bit, I'd suggest snatching them up before they eventually sell out.

6. AMC Retro 3.5mm Telephone Handset Receiver for iPhone, $14.99

If you've gotten rid of your land line and you miss the familiar feeling of a handset, then just plug the AMC retro telephone handset receiver into your iPhone, and you'll soon be untangling the spiral cord just like the old school days. A benefit to this product according to the company is that it eliminates radiation absorption by up to 99% and reduces noise, resulting in a clearer call. I've shown the model in classic black, but it also comes in a few fun colors just like the princess phones of the '50s and '60s.

7. Libbey Tiki Glasses, Assorted Styles and Prices

Libbey, perhaps the world's largest manufacturer of glasses, introduced several tiki designs this year of various sizes and colors. You'll have to search for them on the Libbey site, but they're also being sold through Wayfair and several other online retailers. The sets are reasonably priced and sure to turn any gathering or BBQ into an early '60s tropical lounge!

8. Peanuts 65th Anniversary Edition Colorforms, $19.95

The Vermont Country Store has oodles of retro goodies and a selection of Peanuts merchandise including PJs and flannel sheets, but it was the classic Colorforms set that caught my eye; pure nostalgia from my childhood. For some reason I just loved these place on/peel off character sets as a kid. If you want to introduce your own children to something simple to play with that just requires imagination or you want to play around with them yourself, check the Vermont Country Store out; otherwise, you'll have to find a used Colorforms on eBay.

9. Fuijifilm Instax Mini 8 Instant Photo Camera, $56.20

There was something about those Polaroid pictures, right? Yeah, the color was usually horrendous and often took on a softly focused, sepia-like quality, but when the company folded some of us missed them just the same. Fujifilm introduced its line of instant photo cameras a few years ago, and I actually own an Instax Mini 8. The picture size is much smaller than Polaroids; 2.5" high by 2" wide -- but that's what makes them fun. And the color? It's improved slightly from the 1970s Polaroid version and the pictures don't fade over time. The built-in flash always fires and you can play around with a brightness adjustment dial. This is also a great little camera for kids as well, as it gives them instant gratification without having to wait for mom or dad to print out digital snaps. (Yes, you do have to pay for the instant film but it's reasonably priced and found easily on Amazon.)

10. Nostalgia Electronics '50s Style 3-In-1 Breakfast Station, $68.59

I recently discovered Nostalgia Electronics and fell so much in love with everything they make that I was hard pressed to pick just one item for this gift guide, but I think this 3-in-1 breakfast station is a knock out. Make toast, brew up to 4 cups of coffee, and grill up some pancakes or eggs at the same time for the fam with this nifty looking gadget. The grill plate and oven rack remove for easy cleaning, and the whole thing is just so plain cool to look at.

Here's the part of the post where I wish I could be like Ellen or Oprah and say I'm doing a giveaway of all ten items to one lucky reader but alas, I'm not that big of a blogger (yet.) Next year, kids. In the meantime, maybe this has helped with some ideas on Santa's list.

Monday, November 21, 2016

I have a confession to make. If I meet the right man within the next few years, get married, and he's in a position where I can stay at home and earn income on my blogs and freelance writing either full-time or in conjunction with a part-time job outside of the home, I'd be thrilled. I'm also perfectly happy cleaning the house and making dinner for him while he works full-time.

In other words, there's a part of me that fantasizes about being a housewife, albeit a modern (and hopefully not desperate) one.

Is that shocking? A sexist view? Do I sound lazy? Way too old school? (Well, this is a retro blog, after all.) Am I setting my sisterhood of my fellow gender back about a century with that revelation?

I don't think so. In recent years I've come across blog posts...and entire blogs...written by modern housewives. Young ones, too; younger than me in most cases. And they're happy, and they love it. Some of these women don't even have children and they love the arrangement. And they assure their readers that it isn't a case of being controlled by their husband; this was a choice (albeit one they made after confirming that it was financially feasible for their household.)

I think that's the key word: choice. A lot of feminists may not be thrilled by the idea of women devoting most of their time to minding the children and keeping the kitchen floor shiny (without any yellow waxy build-up, the very thing that plagued Mary Hartman.) But if there's one thing feminism accomplished in the 20th century, it's that it gave women choices. That includes a choice of going to work outside of the household, or staying at home.

I realize that not everyone can do it. The cost of living in America has skyrocketed--especially in particular states--compared to when my parents were married and raising my siblings and me. I consider myself very lucky that I always had my mother waiting at home to greet me when I came home from school. By the 1980s, many of the kids in my school were living with a divorced parent and often coming home to an empty house while their mom or dad was still at the office.

And it isn't that my mother didn't want to work. Before I was born, she once got a job at a florist and the store manager was going to train her in floral arranging, and my father made her quit. What the reason was, we don't know exactly, but I believe he was self-conscious and didn't like relinquishing part of the financial power to her. To this day, she still resents it, and says she would have had a nice nest egg saved up as a result. (Later, when I was a teenager and in my 20s, she did do sewing work at home for a woman that ran her own children's clothing business.)

My dad was a control freak, and that makes me a bit resentful, too. The WWII generation was a different animal compared to the guys of today. Great in some ways, but behind the times compared to today in others. My dad never changed a single diaper in his life; today, I don't think I've met a single father that's never helped out in that department.

But back to the joys of housewifery...I have a friend that I met through my Meetup group that is married and stays at home, by choice. She has a degree in hydraulic engineering and did have a full-time job a few years ago, but says she was so bored she was falling asleep at her desk. She and her husband have no children; when they met in college, she told him she didn't want them and he was OK with that. They own a big, beautiful home and travel about 3-4 times a year, and that includes at least one international excursion. She cooks. They entertain. And...they're happy. Really, really happy for a couple that's been married over 20 years. They're huge on fostering dogs and she's very active with a local dog rescue group. If she's not fostering a new dog in her home, she's transporting it to another foster or their forever home.

She probably wouldn't think of herself as a housewife or homemaker; after all, her passion that takes up most of her free time is helping the dogs. But I think she is, just a modern one that again, was lucky enough to have that choice.

I would imagine that for couples where one spouse/partner stays at home, that things have to be relatively less stressful then households where both partners work full-time. Maybe not so if you have babies and/or toddlers or a special needs child, but when the kids are in school I would imagine, in general, that there's more time for a stay-at-home mom to be able to exercise, take a nap, or meet a friend for lunch. I don't have children and yet there were many work weeks where I felt frazzled and like there were too many responsibilities at home that needed to be tended to before the weekend came. I would think to myself how easy I had it compared to a mother that needs to take care of her children's needs on top of working 40 hours a week or more.

And let's not forget that there are a lot of househusbands out there today as well. I saw an article earlier this year about the unfair judgement these men often receive from their female counterparts at the playground and bus stop. These guys have said that they are frowned upon, and often viewed with less respect than stay-at-home moms. Many have lost their jobs and are taking care of the kids while their wife works and supports the household. In my opinion, there's absolutely nothing wrong with this arrangement; they should be commended for stepping up to the plate and raising the kids. It's not like their masculinity has taken a hit because they're home with their children full-time.

There was a time when I thought I'd be bored out of my mind if I didn't have a full-time job. But now, after more than 20 years of bouncing from company to company and trying to prove myself, sometimes to really overly egotistical people, only to find myself downsized...well, the archaic housewife dream doesn't seem all that bad. Maybe it sounds like I'm setting women back, but I don't think there's anything so bad about wanting to keep a house decent looking and providing a hot meal for a husband when he gets home (provided he chips in on the weekends with cooking and household/yard chores.)

And if I do get bored and want to return to a full-time job? I would still want to have that choice.

Well, this is just my opinion, anyway. I have a lot of respect for housewives, both past and present. And if there are any happy housewives (or husbands) that read my blog and feel like chipping in with their two cents and how it's working for them, I'd love to hear it!
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