Simple, Spiritual, Outdated Living in a Vintage New England Home on the Southern Coast of Maine

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Like messages in a bottle, only slips of spirits past tucked away in books

One of the many treats of collecting old books is that they sometimes contain pleasant surprises in between the pages. The above 1930s advertising card is was likely a bookmark used by the original owner.

I can't read German, but seeking and keeping a four leaf clover for good luck seems to be universal. Usually I find pressed antique flowers so this was a first.

My oldest books, in particular those of a spiritual nature from Victorian Era, offer me comfort during difficult times. Some years ago I was devastated after one of my guinea pigs passed away due to complications from his bladder stone surgery. My tears kept escaping despite me trying to keep a "stiff upper lip." Then I saw an old hankie between the pages with the initial "A" on it. I got a chill and a thrill all at once. Supernatural comfort from beyond!

The above post-it is was inside a 1977 copy of "The Big Book" by Alcoholics Anonymous I had picked up at a yard sale.  As I shared on Instagram today, I was very moved when I first saw it and still am. There are so many warriors out there gracefully waging an invisible war against alcoholism. Too many don't make it. Sobriety is a beautiful silent victory yet its positive effects touch so many. 

Last evening I celebrated the sobriety anniversary of a close friend which got me thinking about this post-it and the other little pieces of sentimentality that still have the power to heal today. (But when I got home I returned to RECIPEGATE?! Scroll to the comments if interested. Skip if you hate drama like I do.)

Have you ever found anything unexpected inside an old book?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Tiny Tim's little raised bed vegetable garden

Tiny Tim, aka Timmy, loves floor time with my housemate, Wayne. In this photo you may notice that Timmy's eye looks dull; this is the side where he was blinded when abused by his original owners. He's a grateful little guinea pig who appreciates the good things. He is always squeaking and doing tricks for fresh veggies, so we promised him he would have his own little garden this summer provided he shares some of it with with us.

There's no better way to "eat retro" than to grow your own food!

Wayne first needed to construct the framework for the raised bed that we decided to situate behind the deck where there is plenty of sunlight (and bare spots of grass to hide!) My office/third bedroom window overlooks it so it'll be fun to peek at it during the day.

Here's another view of the backyard in relation to the garden. Those two gigantic pine trees along with the deciduous trees, when their foliage is fully open, create a lot of shade which isn't great for grass growth as you may notice.

After the frame was constructed he removed the grass and tilled the soil before he added the Miracle-Gro all purpose garden soil.

We went to a plant nursery and bought non-GMO tomato, cucumber, snap pea and sweet yellow pepper seedlings that received a gentle watering once planted.

Because we have two acres of woods there are sometimes deer and plenty of small woodland creatures looking for snacks. There's also a neighborhood cat on the prowl for a lush litter box. Creating a barrier is necessary.

In fact, one evening when Wayne pulled in from work he saw a Buck standing near our vintage cement deer statue! Also, see all that shade in the front yard? We just had that tree removed because it was hazardous, so now there is plenty of sunlight in the front, too.

When we bought the vegetable seedlings we also bought a barrel planter and Senetti flowers for the stump.

Look at all of those new leaves just one day later!

Wayne built it so that he could easily "open" the mesh in one section for weeding and harvesting.

This is the first vegetable garden I've had at my house so we don't know what to expect. I'll report back as the season progresses!

Do you have a vegetable garden? I'd love to hear your experiences!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Mini-Makeover: Moving my mid-century bedroom from the glam early 60s to the groovy, organic early 70s

The above is the "before" of my bedroom with the shag rug, turquoise Princess rotary phone (yes it works), "Hollywood Regency" style gold bedspread and sheer turquoise and brown drapes.

I had a stack of vintage suitcase that was also used for storage. There were a few girly things on my faux vanity (it's really a sewing table!) and a 1960s Paris oil painting.

The sheer curtains are pretty but not very practical during the cold Maine winters. I have heavy shades I can pull down behind them (and a working furnace!), but curtains without insulation means heat loss (and more money). I do need to be more budget-conscious these days.

I wanted to give my bedroom an "updated" look. (But not like this. I'm sure you've noticed the all-white decorating trend. I like color. And the past.) Updated in this case for me means the earthy organic style of the early 70s. I also wanted less clutter. To accomplish this I made a number of changes, but my 60s blonde furniture, pale yellow walls and carpet that came with the house when I bought it stayed intact (for now). 

The Makeover

I replaced the gold satiny bedspread with a vintage yellow wool blanket.

I alternate between two different sets of vintage sheets.

One set is flower-power yellow and orange daisies. The other set is of a desert sunset!

This is from the insert in the original packaging held up to my curtains.

I replaced the curtains with a complete set of orange tweed insulated drapes. 1960s orange drapes with barrel shade lamps hold a special place in my psyche. During my early grade school years my mother and I moved to New York City. I dearly missed living in Fort Lee, NJ, so I was plotting (in a little kid kind of way) to run away back to Fort Lee and stay at the Holiday Inn:

I never made it there and I was so bummed when they renovated! I hadn't thought too much about it since then until I was at an estate sale and saw a complete set of six thermal lined orange curtains! I took them home, washed and pressed them. Other than a few tiny tears they are perfect!

When the drapes are closed but the shades open, the sunlight creates a soothing orange glow that flows out into my hallway. All day. Yes! Except for cloudy days I now have the warm colors of a long-lasting fiery sunrise or desert sunset streaming live.

Next I replaced the turquoise Princess phone with a yellow desk rotary.

I wanted less clutter, so I moved the stack of vintage luggage to my basement.

I also no longer have the vintage cologne bottle or kitschy lipstick holder. I moved the Paris oil painting into my outside hallway and replaced it with  Syroco dogwood flowers because I like the way it looks in that space.

I bought a handmade jute runner at Target that seems to have all of the colors in my bedroom. I like the natural touch it adds to a carpeted room. 

As a final touch I added one of my mid-century "Mechanical Mirror Works" mirrors that had previously been in my hallway. It reflects bars of light back into the rest of the room.

I'm really happy with my "new" room, and can say that color therapy is real. I'm also OK with going orange in a white-washed world!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

How I let go of the things that I thought offered me comfort

Many of you reading my blog right now are here because you want to lose weight. And I mean you really want to do it! You know the positives that go along with a healthier lifestyle and diet. Maybe you have another habit or addiction that you are wondering if it's too much to give up. These are things I had to do when I put down my last drink, had my last smoke and my last compulsive bite that led to junk-fueled binges:

I admitted defeat.

I gave up the struggle. I lost all interest in trying to manage my drinking, smoking and self-destructive eating. Because even if I was somehow managing to regulate my intake, I was obsessing over it, counting down to my next drink, smoke or whoopie pie (it's a Maine thing). I acknowledged that alcohol/cigarettes/junk food wasn't just kicking my ass, but owned me and that there was no hope of having a healthy relationship with those substances ever. It was a pleasure to let go. I freed my thoughts, energy, and attention to focus on the things that sustain me.

I raised my self-esteem.

I had to raise my bottom of how low I'd go! I learned that my emotional life matters, so that "rock bottom" isn't only defined by material losses. Living with constant regret, feeling a loss of control, obsessing over garbage--those were things that I began to recognize as part of a solid rock bottom, and not a trap door to sinking further into an abyss. A stellar resume, nice wardrobe or other pretty surface wasn't evidence of a successful inner life, nor would I continue to allow those outside things to define me. The more I cared about myself, the less attractive self-destruction became. Feeling good about being alive and being kind to myself was a start.

I recognized that my body is on loan.

In my young life while I was actively drinking to excess I went through periods of time where I just didn't care about what happened to me anymore. Then I had the realization that my body was a gift from the divine. If God gave me the keys to drive his/her Mercedes, I wouldn't drive it like it was stolen! I would treat it with the utmost respect because it was an entrusted gift for as long as I lived.

I realized that this is not a game. This is serious!

I no longer take comfort in self-abuse. It doesn't matter if now as a society we think train wreckery is OMG LOLZ so funny, worthy of endless reality TV shows and posting online to became viral sensations. I've learned to hold onto my outdated, steadfast "square" approach to living. I do not lower my standards of conduct with myself because society is loosening their own.

You see, this is the best I've ever felt. There is no happiness or joy in being enslaved to something "fun" that is tied to self-abuse. I'm not falling for it. Instead I pick up on all of the beautiful, live-giving food, activities, thoughts and actions that lead me to true fulfillment.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

One Person, Many Dimensions

A photo I took some years ago while walking on Mackworth Island
Some people talk about not taking personal freedoms for granted, in particular, freedom of speech. It's possible to appreciate something in spirit but still neglect it in practice. 

My ex-husband is a former United States Marine, and I spent three years living in the south while he was stationed at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, NC and in Louisville, Kentucky while he was on recruiting duty. It was then that I deeply considered the true meaning of the First Amendment and how many sacrificed and gave their lives to defend it. I came to recognize that living in a "free country" didn't liberate my mind and personal decisions. That was my war to wage against the inner saboteurs known as shame, self-doubt and low self-esteem. It was very powerful once I really got it, because to this day that lesson has become integrated into my entire being. Yet, that doesn't mean it's not a struggle or ongoing practice, because it truly is.

Had I not had that experience, I may have never written American Women Didn't Get Fat in the 1950s. I knew that the subject was controversial and that it would anger some people despite the fact that it was a labor of love. What I had to say went against most everything we are told today about our bodies and relationship to food. It was my deepest hope that it would help people the way it had helped me. Writing it accomplished both--I received lovely personal messages from people whose eating had changed because of it, and others had less than favorable things to say. They, too, have a right to express their thoughts.

In the end I was true to myself. I had something to share with the world, and I did. I lifted all self-enforced gag orders.

Since I started this blog (originally based around my first book), my desire to write about other topics grew which led to my integrating it all into one blog with a new address (here) and name change to Outdated By Design. When I made that initial change a few years ago I received more than a few messages from people asking me if I would return to writing about the 1950s diet. It was no longer my prime focus. I wondered if I would lose readers, and was I making a mistake?

I lost some readers and gained some new ones.

Once a place for me to mostly share my experience with my retro diet and recipes, I no longer want to limit myself in that way. I want to make this more of a personal space to include even more topics. The beauty of having a non-monetized, independent blog is that I don't have to cater to any commercial interests. You, my readers, yes, I hope you will find my new directions interesting. I will still write about my retro diet and share recipes, but it's no longer my main focus.

So what kinds of things do I want to explore here?

Food sobriety! Sobriety in general! My almost twenty-two years of abstaining from alcohol one day at a time, quitting smoking in 1999, kicking junk food to the curb in 2010 combined with my clinical training in counseling at the University of Vermont has armed me with many practical applications and insights to achieving personal freedom from debilitating practices.


Fashion! I love vintage and retro clothing.

Ageism and feeling good about the body I'm in! I've touched upon gray-shaming, but I'm going to take it further because it's still open season on hating our bodies because they age.

The Divine! It means different things to different people. I'll share my own meanings.

My memoirs! I've witnessed a lot over the years and love to write about it.

I don't know what else I'll feel inspired to share here, but it's all coming from one unified place: me, my love of the outdated and classic whether in thought or form and passion for healthy, sober living.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Thrifty Vintage Gluten-Free Recipes Is Now Published!

After months of laboring in my kitchen, tweaking, testing and tasting recipes until they became triumphs, my Kindle book Thrifty Vintage Gluten-Free Recipes is now ready for purchase on Amazon Kindle! You don't need a Kindle to read it! Amazon Kindle books can be read on your phone or iPad (so you can bring it into your kitchen) or your desktop.

I just peeked at my book and I was so excited to see THIS (updated at 12:42 p.m.):

I put a lot into this delicious project so I hope you will enjoy new-to-you dishes! 

And now, to announce the randomly selected winner of a free copy! Congratulations  Stephanie K! Please contact me using the contact form on my blog by May 5th to claim your gift copy.

Thank you to everyone else who entered the contest or commented on my posts along the way. It feels great to see people excited about the recipes. If you purchase my book it helps support my blog. Thank you.