Monday, March 31, 2014

1950s Glidden Interior Paint

Remember the exterior paint catalogs I shared? Here are two interior paint swatch color catalogs for ranch homes.

1950s Glidden Decorating Pastels inspired by the South Seas makes me think of Tiki Bars across the country! The 22 colors came in satin, luster, flat and latex finishes in colors like Paradise Green, Pebble Beach, Jungle Moss, Teak and Tropic Sun. Changing the color of the walls doesn’t mean the décor had  to change with the color planning guide on the back. I’m sure this made it easier for the 1950s housewife to talk a modest husband into giving a few rooms a face lift.
Ready to use Spred Satin in latex, luster and flat finishes also provided beautiful pastels with great beachy names. It was guaranteed washable from crayons, grease and other household dirt and to last until you wanted to change the color.

I love the pastel colors for the interior walls just as much as their tropical names reminiscent of WWII travels to the Pacific. I'm pretty sure if I look close enough my bedroom walls sure look a lot like Shoal Green.

Growing up I only knew white walls and wood paneling so it is refreshing to now have colored walls in almost every room. What colors do you live in?

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty, 2012

1922 is a time of change. Hairstyles along with hemlines are getting shorter, and women are leaving their corsets for the simplicity of brassieres, slips and underwear. All this change is knocking at the door of Wichita’s housewives, who out of expectation and maybe even habit are adverse to these changes. Speak of prohibition and they can tell you how drink causes families to fall apart. When birth control makes the shelves of the local drug store in the mid 1930's it is still immoral even though families are struggling to survive the dust-bowl.

Cora is one of the housewives that behave by the rules of Kansas society. Though, less can be said of her 15 year old charge Louise Brooks. Traveling by train, they accompany each other to New York City, where Louise is to attend Denishawn School of Dance and Cora plans to confront her past. The trip isn't easy for either, as they push each other’s boundaries, which causes Cora to doubt her provincial attitude as she comes closer to discovering her identity.
As an orphan, Cora rode the Orphan Train from NYC to Kansas, where orphans like her were paraded for potential families to adopt. Although she was adopted by a kind family, married a lawyer who provided her with a family and name, Cora struggled with her sense of abandonment. She needed to find who her parents were.

I wish I could say that Cora’s journey ends with her finding closure and happiness, but that is only partly true. The story of Cora’s identity is driven by over the top, shocking plot twists. With each layer of the story, there is an element of surprise that causes controversy and shock value. I found it ridiculous that all these experiences happened to Cora, while everyone else in the novel seems to be unaffected by the changing world (I can’t say more without giving away major plot spoilers).

I can say that the tolerance shown in the novel is a redeeming quality. As Cora’s character grows, she demonstrates a great amount of tolerance even for things she doesn't always understand. Leaving behind her small town convictions is part of how Cora is able to finally break away from Kansas society values and create some of her own.

Monday, March 24, 2014

1950s Glidden Exterior Paint

The house my mother grew up in was a Ranch style home. It was also the house I spent a lot of my childhood in. The Ranch was built in 1954 and my grandparents bought it in the early 1970s. The exterior was avocado green with matching kitchen appliances. Since then I've seen the house painted bright Weber Bread blue, burgundy and more recently, a subtle peach.
I found a great interview with Atomic Ranch magazine editor Michelle Gringeri-Brown from Stir Magazine. Gringeri-Brown explains that there are three color categories depending on region. Eichler homes were painted in neutral colors, while Ranch homes in Southern California and Florida were brightly painted in vibrant colors, and traditional homes in off white colors with brick or natural accents. From this account it sounds like my grandparents Ranch has seen paint jobs from all three categories. 

For those wanting to be era accurate for their 1950s home, I came across 3 Glidden exterior paint catalogs from 1958 and 1959. I picked them up at an estate sale in a ranch house last summer. The catalogs were from Don's Paint in Garden Grove. 
Endurance Velvet 1958 offered a flat exterior finish for shingles, shakes and siding with 24 colors to choose from. Ready-To-Use colors were deeper hues in the brown, green and red family, while the Dramatone Colors were bright turquoise, lime green and pinks. Selling points included a quick drying time, flat finish and that the paint allowed the walls to breathe.
In 1959 Endurance House Paint offered 16 Ready-To-Use colors and 20 Dramatone colors with a handy guide on choosing the best house colors based on the roof color. With the rise of suburban tract homes, Glidden marketed their different paint colors as a way to set a home apart from the rest.
Spred Glide-On exterior (1959) vinyl latex paint was available for stucco, brick, concrete and asbestos shingle siding. The ready to use colors also came with 1 to 2 lighter complimentary colors as well. The weather-resistant colors are described as “California and Caribbean hues” which, if I had to guess, were for the many Southern California Ranch homes with exterior stucco walls.

What color will you choose for your ranch home?

Friday, March 21, 2014

City of Women by David R. Gillham, 2012

City of Women is such a dark story. I couldn’t keep my hands off it. Those that haven’t been displaced by the war don’t have much to look forward to besides their cabbage soup, bomb raids and queue lines for rations. What remains of World War II Berlin is secrets and lust.

Sigrid Schroder appears to be a model German citizen with her job at the patent office and making it home for dinner with her mother-in-law. Sometimes she stops off at the cinema to devoid herself from what Berlin and her life have become. It is in the darkness of the cinema that she encounters both secrets and lust.

Her lover, Egon, is a Jew. He fulfils her needs unlike her husband Kaspar who is off fighting at the Eastern front. Her secrets with Egon do not end in the bedroom. She helps him as a bagman, making exchanges that are a violation of German law. As the hunt for Jews escalates in Berlin, Egon must disappear, leaving Sigrid once again in the shadows of the cinema.

Secrets find her once again through her neighbor Ericha, a young girl who is involved in something dangerous that leads to lying and stealing. Wanting to protect the young girl, Sigrid becomes involved in the lying and secrets that lead her to once again violate German law. Dodging the Gestapo, she makes a choice to choose humanity over being the good German wife.

City of Women is a complex novel. I surprised myself at how quickly I read it since it is not a light read. There are many flashbacks between the storyline, and the author does a great job at distinguishing between them. Sex is used as a vehicle in the story; many times carnal over loving. This didn’t surprise me, but seemed a way to process the strict rules and violence the characters were living with. Just be forewarned to expect unconventional sex scenes and descriptions.

Usually I feel conflicted when a male author writes from the perspective of women. In this case, Gillham is writing from the perspective of multiple women, hence the title City of Women. It is named so because of the overwhelmingly female population in Berlin while the men are off fighting for Germany. Although this novel takes place in 1943 Berlin, Gillham is asking all his readers to think, if placed in a situation to help a stranger, would you chose to?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Natural Products Expo West: The Beverage Review

As I promised myself last year I attended more than just a single day at Natural Products Expo West. I was excited to learn about new products that I could incorporate into my gluten free and low chemical life style. If there is anything I remembered from last year’s Expo West, it was to stay hydrated. The Expo is huge, so walking around for 8 hours is a sure way to get dehydrated. Aside from my AM coffee or tea, I usually drink water, but recently I’ve been adding kombucha, kafir and vinegar to my daily drinking habit. Kombucha and Kefir are both fermented drinks filled with probiotics that increase the beneficial bacteria in your gut. Those bacteria do all sorts of good things for us like warding off sickness, decreasing anxiety and of course helping with better digestion. Vinegar, specifically apple cider vinegar (ACV), is known as an old natural healing remedy or tonic. Some swear that a shot of ACV a day will keep a cold away.

If you are unfamiliar with fermented drinks or drinking vinegar you are probably thinking it sounds gross. A few years ago, I would have agreed with you, but I’m usually willing to give something a try at least once. The first time I tried kombucha I didn’t like it, and I still make a face when I take a shot of ACV. The best part about Expo West is discovering new products that are great tasting, with the healthy benefits.

Not all Kombuchas are fermented equally, and some are much tastier than others. That can be said of Health Ade Kombucha. I was drawn to their booth because they have awesome packaging/branding. Their kombucha comes in brown glass bottles with a vintage-y label featuring a simple anchor. Think mid-1800’s “Magic Elixir” being sold out of a stagecoach. One of the first facts I learned was that Health Ade is a lot like the homemade stuff. I totally agree. I find that store bought kombucha can be very tart and sweet which I don’t care for, though I prefer store bought kefir. Health Ade kombucha on the other hand is a lot like drinking cider. Justin, co-founder of the Health Ade, also pointed out that they use local farmer’s market fruit to create the flavors and brew small batches in glass. I tried California Grape and Pink Lady Apple. I could probably drink Pink Lady Apple all day long. They were both great tasting with minimal carbonation and just the right balance of sweet and tart. If someone in Anaheim is listening, please stock this kombucha ASAP!

Speaking of good for you, have you ever tried something that tastes good and then you find out that it is healthy too? That’s what I experienced with Urban Remedy. I sampled their gluten free almond brownie snack which was so good. They also had three juices which were all delicious. I first tried Boost Lemonade which is a mix of turmeric root and lemon. I choose that one first because I’m not a huge fan of turmeric or lemon and I wanted to challenge them. The taste was mild and actually very good, even for someone that doesn’t care for those ingredients. Flush is a blend of cucumber, apple, ginger, mint and lemon. The ginger isn’t too powerful which I liked. My favorite was After Party. It has beet, carrot, ginger, apple and lemon. It is sweeter tasting than the others and although these are supposed to be detox juices, I really think it would taste great as an adult beverage mixer. Good thing After Party helps with liver detox and lowering inflammation.

I’ll be honest, I had never heard of “drinking vinegars” before coming across two different types at the Expo. Side by side were companies offering very different, yet delicious, drinking vinegars and I have to admit I went back the next day for more samples. Both Genki-Su and Pok Pok Som are based on ancient Asian drinking vinegars that were used for health purposes. Genki-Su is sparkling coconut vinegar that comes in 5 different flavors. I sampled the Nashi (Pear) and Shiso (Basil) which were both very good. Pok Pok Som comes in a 16 ounce glass bottle to be mixed at home with water, soda or in a cocktail. Of their 8 flavors, the Thai Basil was my favorite. It was served cold over ice with soda water. As I sampled both drinking vinegars I heard many attendees walk up to sample them because they had heard of the “vinegar soda” buzzing around the Expo. I have to add to that buzz because these drinking vinegars take the face-making out of drinking vinegar.
By the end of the expo I had sampled quite a few varieties of fermented drinks and drinking vinegar. Not only did I keep hydrated, but I’m pretty sure I have lots of new friendly gut bacteria to help my health.

Note: Alkaline water seems to be the biggest trend at the Expo. Since I’m still learning about it, I’m taking some time to research the high pH water. Expect an upcoming post.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Eating Against The Grain

I used to be convinced that I couldn't do all of my groceries at a natural food store. I needed things they didn't carry. I would travel to one health food store for my favorite protein powder, another for body products and another for yogurt and cheese. The bulk of my groceries would come from your run of the mill neighborhood grocery store where most of what I would buy was processed and packaged foods. Would it surprise you that since the beginning of this year I've only been shopping at a natural food store?

After years of convincing myself that I needed “food” from the middle aisles of my local grocery store, I broke away and started eating more whole (unprocessed) food. How was I able to pull it off? It is actually pretty simple. I broke up with wheat. That’s right, no bread, cake, cookies, donuts or even licking envelopes. Envelopes? Yes, envelopes, because when you break up with wheat you are really breaking up with gluten, which happens to be in almost everything. Don’t believe me? Check your condiments. Your BBQ sauce doesn't resemble a loaf of bread but when gluten is used as an emulsifier to thicken sauces, you start to notice that gluten is truly in a lot of what we eat.

The first month without gluten was an experiment. The first thing I noticed within a week of being gluten free is that I felt (and continue to feel) amazing. I used to have achy knees after running and that’s almost completely gone away. Sometimes I would wake up around 3 AM with heartburn. It has happened just once this year when I accidentally had gluten in (you guessed it) BBQ sauce. I've lost inches and 8 pounds without much rigorous exercise. After 2 months of my “experiment”, it has become a lifestyle.

Homemade gluten free blueberry scones
When I started my wheat free journey I also started reading Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis. He describes many health issues associated with gluten and cites plenty of research to back it up. For example, when gluten breaks down it can cross the blood/brain barrier and can act as an opiate. That’s why many people experience withdrawals when they stop eating wheat products. The fact our body reacts to it like a drug is pretty scary! Gluten is the ingredient that causes things like bread and pizza dough to rise, but it also causes some of the highest spikes in glycemic index. As a cardiologist, Dr. Davis has prescribed a gluten free diet to many patients with diet related health problems. As a result they have experienced decreased symptoms of IBS, acid reflux, rashes and a variety of other and more severe diseases including diabetes and heart disease.

So why did I decide to cut out gluten and all of the delicious things made of wheat? I knew I wasn't treating my body well. I would eat dinner at 6 PM and wake up around 3 AM with terrible heart burn that would lead to tossing and turning for hours before falling back asleep. I wasn't hydrating like I used to and needed to add more water to my daily diet. I would look at my plate and see bland colors because I was not eating enough vegetables.

I knew breaking up with wheat would take planning and mean that I would have to cook more – something I don’t always like to do. The light bulb moment came around Christmas when I baked a couple of desserts from scratch. It wasn't difficult or time consuming to make desserts with wholesome ingredients, and they happened to turn out delicious. I cooked using real food and real food tastes great.

Toast and jelly at Snooze 
The good news is that eating gluten free is becoming more common which means more restaurants are including gluten free options on their menus. I spent a few days in San Diego recently and was excited about the gluten free menu options. I am especially fond of breakfast so was just over the moon for the blueberry French toast at The Mission Café. It totally made my day when I got to have toast and jelly with my eggs at Snooze in Hillcrest.

May I point out that eating gluten free isn't just for those with celiac disease? I am eating gluten free by choice, and in that process recognized that my body is sensitive to it. If I can’t convince you to give gluten free a try, and you are worried about the possible backlash (you know, the weird looks or roll of the eyes) check out this article that defends all gluten free eaters.


Beware the middle chapters of Wheat Belly. Dr. Davis advises on some extreme dieting choices such as cutting out all carbs with the intent to stabilize the glycemic index. This portion of the book made me realize that with health options, everyone draws the line somewhere. It can be the difference between a diet and dieting. For me, I've drawn the line at removing gluten from my diet. Without eating rice, quinoa or potatoes I may not have made it this far. Finding substitutes that are healthier choices but similar to what resembles food I like, and am used to, has made this journey much easier.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Victory Book Club: Next to Love by Ellen Feldman, 2011

I once read that people’s perception of how World War II transition to the 1950s is romanticized. People see the photo of the sailor kissing a nurse on VJ Day and then think of bright colored ads showing housewives pulling meatloaf out of the oven as her husband drives up to their new suburban home in his sparkling automobile. The recovery time between World War II and the consumer friendly 1950s is often forgotten along with the time it took towns, marriages and hearts to recover.

Next to Love is a novel about that recovery, about wounds that heal and scars that don’t. In South Downs, 91 miles East of Boston, Babe, Grace and Millie share a friendship since kindergarten. They are in their early 20s in 1941, in love and looking forward to the rest of their lives. None of them imagine how the war will affect their lives just three years later. The lives they thought they would live with their husbands exist in their memories as they come back with missing fingers and post traumatic stress, or not at all.

Babe is the most headstrong and aware of the three girls. She grew up on the wrong side of Sixth Street, but married on the right side. During the war she ran the Western Union telegraph office until the men, including her husband Claude, came home to take back their jobs. She was the only one of her friends who applied for men’s jobs, and knew people wondered “who does she think she is” for it. Being a housewife bores Babe, but she is lucky that Claude supports her work with African American civil rights and then women’s rights in the early sixties.

Grace is the friend who loses the most from the war. Losing Charlie hits her hard. Having to still live up to being his wife for her banker father-in-law is even harder. She has their daughter Amy, a house and enough money to not have to worry about working. Her therapist even recommends a cure to help deal with Charlie’s death - a new husband.

Millie doesn’t want to mourn Pete’s death like Grace, out in the open. Packing all of Pete’s belongings in a box, she gets herself a job at Diamond’s department store and gets herself a new husband. The marriage doesn’t start out as love, but eventually gets there, though her new husband Al is always contemplating their mixed marriage.

In 1964, after the war, after their scars have begun to fade, Babe, Grace and Millie know that next to love is their friendship.

I enjoyed reading Next to Love. The perspective of marriage and friendship after the war is different and refreshing. I like that Feldman emphasizes the healing and recovery time people experienced post war. The discussion of civil rights, mixed marriages and discrimination with the GI Bill are situational and not overdone. I’m looking forward to reading Feldman’s novel Lucy next.