I thought I made a pretty good Joan.
Well lovelies, the Mad Men party was a success! I highly advise you to have one of your own. This post will go through everything from snacks & drinks to activities that can make your party a blast.

As you now know, I went as Joan Holloway. My costume included a can of spray-in temporary hair dye, gold pen necklace, black/pearl brooch, a black 60s rocket bra, a genuine 1960s black velvet gown, red nail polish and light gray 60s slingbacks.

Prices: $4 for the hair dye, $18 for the necklace, $2 for the brooch, $1 for the nail polish, $4 for the black rocket bra, $6 for the hair dye, the dress was free from my great aunt and $3 for the shoes.
Total costume cost= $38

I'm thinking of possibly going as Betty for Halloween, but I think I made a pretty good Joan! What I love about her character is her curves---she is by no means a pencil, but that is what makes her sexy! So I embraced my curves and went for it--so glad I did!

Our Mad Men cast-- including Kinsey, Joan, Roger, Harry, and Ken
I set up a small card table for snacks. I used bright daisies to add some color (a few dollars at the local dollar store). Beforehand I went to thrift stores and picked up some silver platters/bowls. We served chex mix, chocolate shortbread cookies, chips with two different dips (spicy cajun & chives/garlic), dinner mints and little smokies in barbeque sauce.
I'll admit, this was my first time creating globe string lanterns---and it was a ridiculous mess! But I did get two made, and they did add a nice pop of color to the room. Next time, I'll make sure to wear a smock (I was covered from head to toe in elmers glue when I did these).
I was probably most proud of my photo booth. It was an entirely DIY project that turned out quite well. I used 8 3/4" pvc pipes ($1.40 a piece), 8 3/4" 90 degree elbows and 8 3/4" pv tees. Then I bought two premade striped curtains from the thrift store for $2 a piece and a queen-size gray flat sheet for $3. I cut the sheet in half and used neon paints to paint a cityscape. The other half I cut a square into and used my computer and the free chrome app Pixect to create the "photobooth". The Pixect app lets you send your photos to facebook/email or download. I used a bench I already had, two work lights for adequate lighting and a box full of "props" (I printed Betty & Joan's heads out on cardstock and used popcicle sticks to create masks). Total cost for this project came to around $35 and took only about 20 min. to set up PLUS it is easy to take down and store for another party!
I went to the dollar tree and purchased an assortment of frames for under $10. Then I printed off a bunch of 1960s advertisements and framed them up. They made great decorations and also could be used as party favors for the guests!
I used small circular frames from the dollar tree to frame drink recipes. The recipes included a classic martini, old-fashioned and the manhattan.
My friend Derek (who dressed up as Harry Crane---and very well at it by the way) volunteered to play bartender for a little while. I used an old desk from the 40's as our "bar". The desk cost $10 at a local garage sale and has wheels on the bottom for ease of transporting.
Derek using the photo booth.
Our well-stocked bar was complete with a 60s ice box, cigarette dispenser, garnishes such as cherries and lemons and a large assortment of booze. I purchased 16 vintage 60s glasses and a 60s ice crusher. We had each guest bring a little something-something to add to the selection such as bitters, vermouth, gin, bourbon, brandy and schnapps. The bar was a definite hit.
We ended up going down to the bars for part of the night, and BOY did we get noticed!! I would overhear people say, "That's Joan!" or "It must be a wedding..." Haha, we got a lot of attention and it was so much fun! We also played a Mad Men drinking game which is described below and listened to some great big band & jazz 60s music on Pandora (what a cheap and virus-free way to get swingin' party music).

Mad Men Drinking Game
This is a fairly basic game and all you need are some episodes of Mad Men (available on Netflix or DVD/Blu-ray), some drinks and these rules:
  • For every sexist comment made, guys take 1 drink.
  • If Pete Campbell gets shot down, take 1 drink.
  • For every cigarette lit, take 1 drink.
  • If Betty gets angry at someone, take 1 drink.
  • For every time Roger cracks a joke, take 1 drink.
  • If Bert Cooper takes his shoes off, take 1 drink.
  • If someone cries, take 1 drink.
  • For every time Peggy seems frustrated with her job, take 1 drink.

A word of caution---we all went through about 4-5 drinks doing this game...so be prepared!

The party was such a success, I think I'll have another one next year after season six :) I hope you enjoy and feel free to comment or leave suggestions for more Mad Men party ideas!

It's DIY Friday and had to share this awesome tutorial by TK Rainy on Cut Out & Keep. This tutorial will tell you how to take an x-large tshirt and turn them into one-of-a-kind yoga shorts/pants. Click the image below to see all the steps for making your own yoga shorts.

  • Use a really, really long shirt or dress for longer pants.
  • If you can find a spandex/fitness shirt, use that for a more form fitting shape.
  • This could be a great project to do with friends---tye dye your shirts for extra customization!
Kiwi slice pillow by BfiberandCraft $40
My new job as a web editor for the university is awesome. However, going from standing on my feet for 8-10 hours a day in a retail job to sitting in a desk chair, I've noticed some changes. I'm tired more often, eat more and the stairs to my apartment have got me winded. I used to work out regularly and think about what I ate. But now I've fallen into bad habits and I need to break out of them.

So in honor of my plight this seller showcase will focus on some awesome Etsy sellers who are dedicated to the idea of handmade love with a healthy twist. From fruit shaped pillows to custom fitness journals, it's never too late to get bikini-ready.

"Keep Calm" fitness shirt in pink by redbrickwall $22.50
Custom fitness journal by ArtfulRising $12
5 Document Health/Fitness Log by TidyMighty $12
Gourmet granola gift set by TheHealthyNut $35
Peppermint Vaporizer weight loss & stop smoking aid by FemLogic $38.95
Custom hula hoop by HoopMama $24
Black organic cotton yoga shorts by eleven44 $38
"A Body in Motion stays in Motion" stamped bracelet by riskybeads $15.95
"Eat Your Veggies" Print by TheLemonPeel $22
Handpainted Weight Loss Motivator Kit by SunnyBelleDesigns $16

Okay, so my Mad Men party is officially scheduled for this Saturday July 21st. It looks like around 12-15 people are showing up which is just about what I was hoping for! I had written a previous post on hosting a Mad Men (or 1960s theme) party, but I'd like to give a few more details since some of you lovelies might want to host one of your own! My main goal: create an atmosphere that is both modern but obviously influenced by the 1960s.


There are many things that contribute to a party's atmosphere. The hardest part is deciphering what makes a 1960s Mad Men party different from a retro hippie party. A good way to look at it is to think of the 1950s. Mad men and women were still very clean-cut hardworking pavement-loving characters-- not so much the love van grass-smoking type (although one may argue that Peggy and Kinsey are the exception). I'll start with some key components:

Since this is a 1960s party, I wanted 1960s music! You can actually buy the Mad Men soundtrack from Amazon for around $12. You can also find plenty of 60s compilation CDs for a low cost such as 60's Gold.
One item that can really bring that 1960s atmosphere is a record player. You can find them new for around $150 at the store or you can buy an original one online. Just make sure the needle is in good condition! I recommend picking up some 60s records to go along with it: *The Grass Roots *The Cowsills *The Beatles *The Tempations *The Mamas and the Papas *Frank Sinatra. 
Popular colors in the 1960s were turquoise, jade, mint green, light pink, sunshine yellow, cherry red, pumpkin orange, light blue and black/white. Think bright and modern. See the image gallery I put together for ideas on 1960s Mad Men party decor. 
For a really cool and personalized Mad Men decoration put the "Sterling Cooper" name label on the front door. Simply cut out letters from black card stock and tape them to the wall. (Or, just use stick-on letters from the craft store)
1960s record player from cellardepot
The '60s were really about modernizing the home. The use of curves and clean lines in furniture and light fixtures was commonly used. If you have any period or reproduction 60s lighting, go ahead and use it! Other whise, there is a tutorial on how to make your own low-cost string globe lanterns.
Since this is a party, you will want to keep things dim. For the room where people will gather the most, keep the lights at around 50%. For the kitchen or area where food/drinks are served, keep the lighting at around 70%. If you can, have an outdoor area set up with candlit lanterns, string globe lights or 1960s candle holders.
1960s globe floor lamp GallivantingGirls
Use plastic homco decorations on your walls! They are actually pretty easy to find at your local garage sale or thrift store. They will instantly add that hollywood regency style that the Mad Men series is so good at portraying.
TV dinner trays make excellent serving trays for appetizers and snacks. Tuck napkins and utensils below the tray to save space.
Period magazines are generally a low cost decor that may also serve as entertainment for your guests. Find them at antique stores or etsy. Some magazine titles to look for: Esquire, Look, Life, The New Yorker & Playboy.
Find low cost 1960s end and coffee tables at thrift stores and garage sales. They will generally have clean lines with formica tops.
Look for 1960s bar glasses. They will often have a stream-lined or geometric look to them. Look for smaller glasses with silver rims or small splashes of color. You can find these easily at thrift stores and you can give them away as party favors to your guests!
Decanters will really add that "Mad Men" touch. Find 3-4 decanters you can fill with liquor such as vodka, rye, scotch, bourbon and gin.
1960s ash trays don't have to be used for cigarettes, but if you do have smokers, place one or two outside on a patio or porch. Other whise they make great candy dishes!
1950s & 1960s tablecloths are fairly easy to find in the linen section of thrift stores. Look for mod and bright prints to add to the festive atmosphere.
Op art is perfect to recreate Roger Sterling's office look.

 And don't forget . . . 

Lucky strike cigarettes-- use them as a prop even if you don't smoke!
Your camera! Don't forget to take pictures during the party-- buy a 1960s camera for even more of a die-hard Mad Men look.
1960s Fedora Hats for the Men
If you have a hard time finding period decor, you can always try your local Target, Walmart or handmade upcycler on Etsy! Vintage & retro decor is in, so it isn't too hard to find 1960s period look-alikes.
Today's "Get the Look" feature is focused on the understated secretary look. Sensual yet modest. Comfortable yet chic. These two styles shown below reflect the hip-hugging fashion of the 60s--(When bullet bras worked wonders and women weren't afraid of showing off their curves). Both reach just below the knee, feature short sleeves and a nipped in waist. The dress you wear to work, cocktail party or heavy date.

She types in charcoal gray and looks fabulous doing so.
roland mouret wool gray dress
Eliza pleated wool dress

1960s charcoal gray dress
Gray cotton 1960s boucle dress

Grey goose vodka pendant light by uniqueglassware $50
Ever wondered how you could cut a glass bottle with a clean edge without power tools? Here is a simple and fairly quick way to do so! Make luminaries, candle holders, drinking glasses, vases, you name it!
  • put on some safety goggles and gloves.
  • wrap a string around a wine bottle four or five times and then tie it.
  • fill a pot or kitchen sink with very cold water.
  • soak the string in acetone (or nail polish remover) and put it around the bottle.
  • light the string and rotate is as shown in the video.
  • quickly put the bottle in the water when the acetone is about to go out.
  • you may need to try again if it doesn't work the first time.
  • use sandpaper or better yet, a dremel tool, to file the edges smooth. this is most important if you are making drinking glasses!

Acorn sorting game by IndieBambinos $32
What is Waldorf? Waldorf education (also known as Steiner education) focuses on imagination and collaboration in learning. There is a large emphasis on "free play" where children are allowed to learn in their own time and ways. The classroom is often like a home.

Within the Waldorf education program, students generally fall under four temperaments: choleric, melancholic, phlegmatic, and sanguine. The temperament classifications help teachers relate to and understand their students and the way they interact with others.

Concepts are generally introduced through stories and images. Many concepts are taught through hands-on learning as well. Students will also usually learn 1-2 secondary languages while attending Waldorf schools. "The goal of Waldorf education is to enable students as fully as possibly to choose and, in freedom, to realize their individual path through life as adults." - waldorfanswers.com In essence, Waldorf education lets kids be kids while giving them a love for learning.

Waldorf toys are iconic in their simple design: usually of natural materials such as wood or natural dyes. IndieBambinos is one such Etsy seller who specializes in the creation of unique Waldorf toys that encourage hands-on and imaginative learning.

Extra Wide Wooden swing by SkySaddleDesigns $98
SkySaddleSwings creates handmade wood and rope swings that can be hung from a backyard tree for years of use. They use natural Manila fiber within their rope and are able to be custom built to a variety of sizes and specifications. 
Same sex family custom dolls by TheEnchantedCupboard

TheEnchantedCupboard is another Etsy seller specializing in Waldorf toys. She is specifically unique in that she sells a variety of handmade and handpainted wooden dolls. Customs are available as well. Another awesome thing about The Enchanted Cupboard is that she offers same sex family dolls and dolls of all different ethnicities. I find this to be an excellent way for teaching children respect, tolerance and love in a happy and hands-on way.

My mother grew up in the South and always talked about how everything food-related involved butter and gravy. I was curious about where some of these "comfort foods" came from. Here is a selection of yummy recipes for a southern-inspired meal with a vintage twist of delicious history. 

 ( 1 )  Old - Fashioned  Mint  Julep

The exact origins of mint juleps are unknown but are thought to have first been described in 1803 as a drink that Virginians regularly drank. Many contemporary mint julep recipes call for whiskey, however a recipe that dates from approximately 1862 specifies the use of brandy or cognac. 
Did you know? Mint juleps have been dubbed the official drink of the Kentucky Derby!

  • 1 Cup brandy or cognac
  • 1 Ounce Jamaican rum
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoon water
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • Several fresh mint leaves
Step 1:Dissolve one tablespoon of white pulverized sugar in two and one-half tablespoons of water.

Step 2:Take two sprigs of fresh mint and press them well in the sugar and water, until the flavor of mint is extracted.

Step 3:Add one wine glass of Cognac brandy, and fill the glass with fine shaved ice, then draw out the sprigs of mint and insert them in the ice with the stems downward, so that the leaves will be above, in the shape of a bouquet.

Step 4:Arrange berries, and small pieces of sliced orange on top in a tasty manner, dash with Jamaican rum, and sprinkle white sugar on top.

Step 5:Place a straw (across the top of the glass), and you will have a julep that is fit for an emperor.

Source: http://www.foxnews.com/recipe/old-fashioned-mint-julep#ixzz20L839C85 

( 2) Hushpuppies

Hushpuppies are basically a deep-fried dumpling made of cornmeal. There are many stories surrounding the creation of hushpuppies. One story goes that when hunters and trappers were out on the trail for days at a time, they'd cook up these dumplings and feed the leftovers to the dogs to keep them quiet or "hushed". There is another story that confederate soldiers would cook up these cornmeal cakes around a campfire. If they detected Yankee soldiers approaching, they could quickly throw their dogs some cakes to keep them quiet.

  • 4 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • egg, beaten
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup water


Step 1: In a large mixing bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, egg, salt, baking soda, milk, and water. Mix until batter is smooth and free of any lumps. Batter should be stiff (if batter is too dry, add milk; if batter is too thin, add cornmeal).

Step 2: In a cast iron skillet or a large heavy fry pan over medium-high heat, heat vegetable oil to 350° F or until a small amount of batter dropped into the hot oil sizzles and floats. Do not let the oil get too hot or the center of the hushpuppies will not cook thoroughly.

Step 3:Using two spoons, push a small amount of batter into hot oil (370° to 380° F). After about 10 seconds, hushpuppies will float to the top and begin to brown. Fry for approximately 5 minutes or until golden brown, turning to brown all sides.

Step 4: Remove from oil and place hushpuppies on paper towels; continue cooking the remaining batter (fry in small batches, adding 4 to 6 hushpuppies to the oil at a time). NOTE: They can be held in a 200° F oven until serving time (approximately 30 minutes). Serve hot.

Makes 2 dozen hushpuppies.

Source: http://whatscookingamerica.net/Bread/Hushpuppies.htm 

 ( 3 ) Creole Jambalaya

Here's the main dish: Jambalaya! Jambalaya originated in the Caribbean islands. A mix of Spanish, Native and African cultures all had a part in the creation of this dish as we know it. It is said that the creation of Jambalaya was based on a Spanish dish called Paella. Since Paella calls for Saffron, and early settlers lacked such a commodity, they replaced saffron with tomatoes. The first Jambalaya recipe was printed in 1837 in New Orleans. The name is supposed to have derived from the The Atakapa tribe of the region with an original word sound of "Sham, pal ha! Ya!" which means "Be full, not skinny! Eat up!" 
I found this lovely scanned image of an original creole jambalaya recipe below...


 (4)  Sweet   Potato  Pie

This southern dessert recipe owes its origins to African culture. Yams were a popular produce (and still are!) in Africa. It is said Africans brought over in the slave trade introduced white settlers to the sweet potato and eventually it transformed into a pie, similar to a pumpkin pie. Many recipes were handed down from generation to generation, so there are plenty of variations. Add whipped cream for an even sweeter and festive look. The recipe below includes orange peel, but you can do without the orange if you wish.

  • 3 small to medium sweet potatoes
  • 3 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 stick of butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 cup of evaporated milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons of finely grated orange peel (don't leave out)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar 
  • 2 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust

Step 1:Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Clean and rinse sweet potatoes. Place into deep cooking pot and boil until tender. Drain and remove skin. OR you could bake potatoes in oven until fork tender. 

Step 2:Place mashed potatoes in large mixing bowl. Add eggs and butter. Blend for 2 minutes with electric mixer. Add granulated sugar, brown sugar, and milk. Continue beating then add cinnamon, nutmeg, orange peel, and vanilla. Blend well.

Step 3:Prick bottom and sides of thawed crust with fork; sprinkle lightly with 1 teaspoon sugar. Place pie crust in over for 5 minutes or until crust rises or is lightly browned, let cool. 

Step4:Pour pie mixture into pie crust and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until done. Cool for 30 minutes, then refrigerate.

Yield: 12 to 14 servings for 2 pies.

Source: http://www.soul-food-advisor.com/soul-food-recipes.html 


Tan Whiskey Flask by LiquidCourage
My family and I have been planning to go camping together this coming weekend. Six kids (myself included) and my mother are going to drive a little over 6 hours in two cars to Grand Marais, MN which is about 40 minutes from the Canadian border. We've gone to this same location every year for as long as I can remember. The staples of a north shore vacation include: waking up and getting donuts & coffee, sitting on the beach for at least three hours a day, hunting for agates and having lots of campfires. Sitting next to Lake Superior is like visiting any ocean. It's cold (I've heard somewhere around a constant 40 degree water temperature) and I've seen waves that surfers would be psyched to see. I've had good memories camping-- even when it was 32 degrees one year!
In honor of this illustrious adventure, I have decided to create a little showcase of handmade and vintage camping items.

Enjoy lovelies!

Today's "Get the Look" post is focused on the little black dress. This particular style of little black dress has the elements of a classic silhouette, late 50's to early 60's elegance, short sleeves for summer and the belted natural waistline. A flattering look on just about any figure. Perfect for the career-oriented, romance-seeking and independent woman.

Like   This?

Flared cotton and wool-blend twill dress.

Try   This!

Polyester blend dress with pleated skirt and button-up front.

© 2011-2012 Bonfire Vintage Co.