Beauticians Always Know Best

Hi there, guys and dolls! Don’t we all love a little primping and pampering? Let’s be honest, we all need a little help now and then. As the edges of our years get a little warped and wrinkled (I swear I didn’t have that sag yesterday), the more important those beauticians become. Studies also show that too much sodium in our diet is unhealthy, so it only makes sense that when a gal has more salt than pepper on our heads, it’s time to get those pesky tails of aging covered up immediately.

Bubbly always helps

Besides, I love going to my local salon. It’s one of the best places for the truly important news of the neighborhood. You’d think under those dryers you’d hear nothing, but that’s not true. In fact, my vast experience under the domes has honed my hearing to nothing short of miraculous. Of course, having the right fount of knowledge sitting beside you helps, along with the bubbly they ply us with as the beauty experts overbook appointments while they work their magical transformations, which thankfully gives us time to catch up with each other and keep us coming back for more. Again, I’m sure the champers helps….

Anyhoo, the big tale this week was about Carol. Word had it that she hadn’t been around much lately. Then the truth reared its ugly head. In a hideous shade that could no longer be hidden. You see, Carol did the dreaded thing. A few weeks ago Carol made the mistake of telling her hairdresser what she wanted done and aghast, went against the expert’s suggestion, insisting on what she wanted. Poor Stella, beautician extraordinaire. She had to let Carol the customer be right. Oh, that was so wrong.

Jayne’s lovely blonde

See, Carol brought in this picture of Jayne Mansfield, you know that sultry, shimmery blonde with some big, um, assets for lack of a better world. Stern Stella took one look at our mousy, flat Carol and issued an outright no. But Carol was determined. Even after severely warning and making Carol sign on permanent wave end papers with an eyeliner (all she could find at her station at the moment) that Carol would not hold Stella responsible, the beautician let the customer be right.

Kinda what they had to do with Carol

Apparently, during the process they had to move Carol outside, the aroma from the industrial strength bleach needed for Carol’s particular hair was so strong it was leaving a noxious cloud, peeling paint in its wake. They moved Carol outside, who was happily content, thinking all would be exactly as she dreamed.

Ah, what price beauty. It came out this awkward shade of, well, pickle. As in dill, from the deli. Self-righteous Stella waved the barely legal disclaimer under Carol’s nose, saying her best thing to do was either shave it all off, or wait it out. Another dye job at this point would be fatal to her follicles and to just leave it well enough alone for a while.

“Could be worse,” Millie, my dryer companion said. “I’m pretty sure the carpet doesn’t match the drapes on that one anymore.”

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more posts. And don’t forget to give my Poppy Cove Mysteries a try if you haven’t already.

Toodles, Barbara Jean

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Well, I ain’t no Ma Kettle…

Hi there guys and dolls! Hope you all had a fine weekend. I had an educational experience, you might say. I have discovered that I am not just urbane, I’m very urban, as well. Let me fill you in.

Thursday afternoon I met this wonderful man at the market. As we were both squeezing the tomatoes, we struck up a conversation (well, actually, I kept asking him questions about their freshness, firmness, etc until it was just rude for him not to reply). Rugged, good looking sort of fellow; tall, dark, robust with this fine, slow drawl. A real fine hunk of male pulchritude, to be honest. As it turns out, it was more ‘poultritude.’ You see, he was a chicken wrangler on his parent’s farm.

Gallant Derek!

Well, how do! Wouldn’t you know I was just dying for a day out in the country? Okay, not really, but a day out with him would be the fresh air I was craving. After we had fondled our way through the fruits and vegetables and he was helping me out to my car after gallantly paying for my groceries (natch), I had secured plans for a Saturday down home on the farm!

I got up with the dawn (fine, it was eight o’clock, but who’s counting) and drove out to the valley, away from the smog and traffic. Immediately, I felt my lungs hurt. What was this stuff? It smelled so green, not a bit ashy or comforting, but cold and fresh. That didn’t feel right. I quickly lit a cigarette and that made it all better. Now I could conquer the great outdoors.

Derek (that’s the wrangler) told me to wear sturdy shoes and good farm clothes. I wasn’t sure what exactly that meant. I certainly wasn’t going to show up in dungarees or work shirts. Who’s kidding who? I’m on a date! White ballerina flats and a cotton gingham dress would have to do.

By the time I had arrived, the farm was in full swing. There were farm hands running around, chasing hogs and carrying milk pails, buckets of some rather foul stuff, and other things I don’t even understand all over the place. And noisy? Tractors and roosters blaring, the occasional snort and braying all over the place. And where was my man? Nowhere to be seen.

Now, I’m an independent woman, I don’t mind opening my own car door, if you know what I mean. That’s okay, I’ll find him myself. I stepped out of the car, my new white shoe sliding into a fresh cow pie. I was steaming as much as it was, but realizing where I was, I jauntily laughed it off, being the good sport I am. Wiping off my shoe with a rag I handily had in my car I continued on to the barn, this time watching my step instead of watching to see who was watching my walk, no mean feat given that there were so many strapping males running around the place ;-).

Derek with his catch

The barn was pure pandemonium. Squawking and feathers flying everywhere, yelling and flapping, grown men, crouched low, waiting to pounce. In a weird way, it was quite an enjoyable scene, all that animal behavior all around. Then I saw Derek, literally birds in hand, grinning wildly. I was love-struck by his shear dazzlement!

Then literally struck. One of those annoying flappy things made a beeline right for my head, claws getting stuck in my hair, trying to dismantle my careful updo! I ran around in a panicked circle, trying to get it off me. Then I felt a right tackle and down I went, heels over head in some not so clean hay.

This is enough wild life for me!

You know, farm life is not for me. No matter how wonderful Nature Boy Derek may be, he’s not for me. After I got the bird out of my brain and the hayseeds out of my dress, I rapidly said my good-byes and had a charming evening at home, content with my rather domestic form of animal life.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more posts. And don’t forget to give my Poppy Cove Mysteries a try if you haven’t already.

Toodles, Barbara Jean

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Friendly Advice

Hi there, guys and dolls! Another week, more so-so advice 😉

Dear Barbara Jean,

This is what Olive is afraid of.

My children are at the age where they want to help out in the kitchen, but I am so concerned about it. You see, I like things just as they are, everything in its place and a place for everything. Plus, the children bring in all kinds of germs from the outside, including the ones that Lysol just can’t kill. What am I to do?

Organized Olive in Orange County

Dear Olive,

First recipe the children should manage for Olive

For heaven’s sake, get those kids earning their keep! My goodness, I’m sure you are the perfect mother, always picking up after them, could eat off your floor, all those good things. But part of your job is to teach your children how to move out and run their own homes one day. I would let them at it, but first, introduce them to the martini shaker and get them to mix you some great “afternoon tea,” for your inverted triangle glass. That way, you’ll be pleasantly relaxed (okay, buzzed) while your charming children turn your kitchen upside down making some truly awful food. Then you can also teach them how to clean. Be sure to have the take out menus ready for the first few attempts.

Bon appetit, Barbara Jean

Dear Barbara Jean,

I am a recent divorcee just getting out in the dating scene. I’ve been shopping for some new dresses and found some darling ones. But what to choose? There’s so many fetching frocks out there, how do I choose just one? What would you do? Please help me with my dilemma.

Nervous Nellie in Newark

Dear Nellie,

Nellie should go for at least three

Good for you for getting back on that horse again! Maybe this time it’ll be a “Carousel of Love” rather than a pokey old “Marry go Round” ;-). Quite frankly, I don’t see your dilemma. I’d get two, maybe three, or more. If a budget is an issue, don’t let it be. Just remind your ex-husband that the sooner you get re-hitched, the less he has to pay in alimony over time. Let him cough up the investment for your future, just as you had to most likely choke down the excuse that his secretary’s lipstick on his collar that time was because she tripped and fell against him. Just guessing, but I’m kinda right, right?

Go out there and have a ball, Barbara Jean

Keep your letters coming! I love to help or hinder any way I can.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more posts. And don’t forget to give my Poppy Cove Mysteries a try if you haven’t already.

Toodles, Barbara Jean

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Is it Happy Hour Yet?

Hi there, guys and dolls! Weekend’s right around the corner, so let’s get the happy hours started. This week’s Raves n’ Faves are some of my favorite drinks. Remember, pace yourself. We want to recall all the fun we had the next day, not try to figure out whose lampshade we wore home ;-).

Now that’s using your head!
Death in the Afternoon
A fave of Hemingway’s

Death in the Afternoon — Now what kind of writer would I be if I did not have a literary reference here?  Especially being that it was inspired by Hemingway, who also had a great fondness for Daiquiris.  Besides, it starts off the party early — a quiet spot, a great book, a sip or two before joining the ‘in’ crowd.

DEATH IN THE AFTERNOON

1 1/2 oz. Absinthe

4 1/2 oz. chilled Champagne

Pour Absinthe into a Champagne flute or coupe.  Top with Champagne.  Let the games begin!

Sidecar — It’s always fun to be along for the ride!  All snuggled in beside a handsome man daring man commanding a motorcycle, sunglasses on, a gay scarf wrapped around your helmet, arriving to the shindig in style.  Oh, yes, and the drink too!

Sidecar Cocktail
Such an autumnal color

SIDECAR

1 1/2 oz. Cognac

1 oz. Cointreau

1/2 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Orange wedge or lemon twist for garnish

If desired, rim a chilled cocktail glass with sugar (I personally find it sticks to my lipstick, so I don’t, it also cuts calories :-)).  Pour Cognac, Cointreau and lemon juice into an ice filled cocktail shaker and do a little shimmy.  Strain contents into your glass, garnish with the citrus to make it pretty and enjoy!

Cuba Libre — Well, who doesn’t want to liberate Cuba?  Now I’m not going to go into politics (I may be that sort of girl, but I am not that sort of girl — take your time, I know you’ll figure it out) but what I will say is Cuba is charming — the people, the food, the music, and of course, rum and cigars!  Why it’s just a party happening waiting for us to join.

CUBA LIBRE

cuba libre
Party like it’s 1959

2 oz. rum (pick your pleasure, personally I like the kick of spiced or dark, but tradition has it as a light)

1/2 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice

Handful of ice

Lime wedge

2 – 3 oz. Cola

Combine rum and lime juice into a highball glass.  Add ice, lime wedge and pour in the Cola.  Sip away!

Mint Julep — I thought I would add a little post derby, southern sophistication.  Mint is such a refresher any time of year.  If  a Julep cup is not around, an old fashioned glass will do just nicely.  Who knows?  It might even be the secret to California Chrome’s success!

mint julep
All I need now is a fancy hat

MINT JULEP

8 mint leaves (spearmint’s my favorite, but peppermint is nice, too)

1/2 oz. simple syrup (that’s half water, half sugar dissolved)

2 1/2 oz. Bourbon

Crushed ice

Mint Sprig

In a Julep cup or old fashioned glass, place mint leaves and syrup.  Muddled together to release the mint essence.  Add the Bourbon and a scoop of crushed ice.  Stir to mix, then top up with more ice and the mint sprig.  Mix and mingle till the cup or glass is frosted and your hand is cold.  There you go!

Pink Lady — Now you didn’t seriously think I could not mention the color pink or being a lady in this post, did you?  Why it’s laced with gin, fun, frothy and pink.  What is there not to like?  Throw in a tall, dark and handsome bartender and I know my plans on how to end the evening ;-)….

pink lady
When in doubt, think pink

PINK LADY

1 1/2 oz. Gin

1 tsp.  Grenadine

1 tsp. light cream

1 egg white

Crushed ice

Combine everything into a chilled cocktail shaker.  Flirt with the bartender long enough to bring a little color to his cheeks.  Then have him strain and pour the contents into a chilled cocktail glass.  Tilt your head, smile coquettishly, wink and drink!

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more posts. And don’t forget to give my Poppy Cove Mysteries a try if you haven’t already.

Toodles, Barbara Jean

Posted in 1950's fun, 1950's, 1950s fun, 1950s glamour, 50's Slang, Adult Contemporary, advice, Alter Ego, Authors, blogaday, Blogs, cocktail culture, cocktails, creative writing, Creativity, daily blog, Domestic life, Drinks, entertainment, Etiquette, Happy Hour, Historical, Holiday Parties, Humor, Inspiration, journal, Ladies Night, Nostalgia, Parties, Pop Culture, postaday, Raves and Faves, Recipes, Social Mores, Socializing, suburbia, Uncategorized, Vintage, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Oh Millie, We Hardly Knew Ye…

Hi there, guys and dolls! It’s Workday Wednesday and time for another almost completely true tale from my fictional workplace. Today’s adventure is all about Millie. At least I think that’s what her name is, to be honest, she came and went so fast, we hardly knew her. It’s a hard world in that concrete jungle and a girl’s got to know how to handle herself (and her liquor) as poor, sweet whatever her name is.

Millie in the morning.

The day started out swell for our new girl. She showed up early, before the rest of us, all bright and eager. We wanted to dislike her for that alone, but she was truly nice, annoyingly so that we couldn’t stay envious for that long. Even when we heaped all kinds of ridiculous requests and old incomplete forms on her, she just took it on with a sturdy smile and plowed her way through the paperwork. What a trooper!

Red and Millie. Notice how martinis can be made in paper cups?

I think the moment it all went wrong was when Steve (or Rascally Red as we affectionately call him) asked her into his office for some ‘dictation.’ Well, you should have heard the chatter that floated through the secretarial pool! What a bunch of magpies. We knew what was coming, having all been there and survived to tell the tale! See, Red loves his martinis and also loves to socialize, especially with the new girls. It’s sort of like our office’s welcome wagon, actually more like off the wagon, but it’s a good way to see how well the newbie will fit with the social climate she has chosen to venture into. Now don’t get me wrong, Red’s only part lecherous, there’s still some gentlemanly manners left in the boy, I’ve never heard any girl complain, in fact, they’re usually lined up around the corner by noon, needing to ‘discuss some urgent matter’ with him. Eh, makes the day go faster.

Millie, taking a break between her showstopping show tune performance

Anyhoo, Millie unfortunately appeared to be a good girl. I don’t know, maybe raised in a good, God fearing home or the temperance league, but she was obviously not used to the mid-morning martini meetings that Red conducts. After an hour or two, with all of us taking turns listening at the door and reporting music, clinking glasses, giggles and some too quiet silences, out poured Millie, hair disheveled, not a trace of lipstick left on her face and grinning languorously. Red however was raring to go, in top form. Actually dictated three letters, attended a productive meeting and got things done. He worked better half-corked, as opposed to dear Millie, who then found the nearest desk, lied down on the floor, singing show tunes at the top of her lungs. By the time she got to the chorus of ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ for the umpteenth time, we got her on her feet, popped her into her coat and hat, took her downstairs and loaded her into a cab, using the address we found in her purse. Hope that was correct, haven’t seen her since.

As I’ve said, the corporate world’s a tough place. A girl’s got to know how to conduct herself with the proper etiquette for the times. That’s why a regular program of the three martini lunch is as much an asset as keeping up your dictation speed. Trust me, even though I’m not really sure what my company does, I’ve learned the ropes and have been there a long time.

So long, Millie. You seemed nice. Why not try again when you’ve developed that hollow leg ;-)?

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more posts. And don’t forget to give my Poppy Cove Mysteries a try if you haven’t already.

Toodles, Barbara Jean

Posted in 1950's fun, 1950's, 1950s fun, 1950s glamour, Alter Ego, blogaday, Blogs, book series, books, Characters, cocktail culture, cocktails, Communication, creative writing, Creativity, daily blog, day job, diary, Drinks, entertainment, Etiquette, Fiction, Fictional Characters, flash fiction, Happy Hour, Historical, historical fiction, Humor, journal, long read, Nostalgia, Office life, Office work, Perspective, Pop Culture, postaday, Social Mores, Socializing, stories, Uncategorized, Vintage, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bake Sale Debacle

Hi there, guys and dolls! High drama yet again in the neighborhood! Who’d have thought that a child’s fundraising event could bring out such hostility and downright bad manners in our civilized social set? Okay, I did, but then again I know these viperous women in kitten heels and aprons.

It all started last week when Mrs. Marshall announced that her 5th grade class would hold a bake sale. All the mothers were encouraged to make something nice and the children handmade flyers that were posted decorously all over the place – telephone poles, picket fences, even old man geezer’s (he’s so old, he doesn’t remember his name, we’re okay with that; every now and then we take turns checking on him, he’s fine) lazy old dog had something pasted on his side, he moves so slow (and don’t worry, he was okay with it; wagged his tail and slowly paraded himself through the streets, looks like he liked it :-)).

Sal and her daughter Sally Jr. getting ready for the bake sale

The streets were quiet as everyone was indoors baking away. Such family togetherness was never seen before. And the secrecy! My, no one told anyone what they were making. You’d think we were in the midst of the cold war, right there in our coffee clatch.

Now, I don’t have children. I haven’t even been able to get my clutches on a man to get up to the altar yet, and don’t get me started on the bridesmaid thing. I now flat out refuse. I will admit, I do enjoy the chase maybe more than is healthy, but who cares? That’s another post. So back to not having my own brood. I’ll go out and support the little nippers, buy a batch of cookies or a cake or two. It’s the least I can do, and what else are girdles made for?

Now doesn’t that look impressive?

The big day arrives. The table’s laid out to bowing and bursting with such delectable and decadent treats. And it doesn’t look like any bakery store cheaters, so I am suitably impressed, especially with Martha’s frosting on her chocolate cake. (Tasted delish; I ran my finger along the back of it and scooped up a tasty dip. She had it coming. Last week she snatched the last bag of Mallomars out of my shopping cart when she didn’t think I saw her. I did. Payback.)

All was well at first. Then from behind the table a roar erupted. Turns out Sal had made the exact same coconut layer cake with fluffy frosting that Val had made! Tables were turned, cakes, cookies, pies and even something in aspic went flying. I grabbed the plate of lemon squares that I had just bought from Maryann and sat under a nearby tree and watched. It was quite entertaining. Mrs. Marshall attempted to step in, but backed out when one of them (not sure who) cuffed her on the ear inadvertently and called the cops. They split them apart and didn’t issue charges, providing it wouldn’t happen again. I snort indelicately at that one, remember Bridge Night?

An accurate depiction of May and June, Val and Sal’s grandmothers in the early years

Anyhoo, after the table was righted and Val and Sal were escorted off the school grounds. The pathetically damaged sweets were put back on sale (they went anyway). Lily Sue then informed us of a little known fact of our little clique. Turns out Val and Sal were the granddaughters of a notorious pair of bruising women, May and June, known to box for money in their rebellious heyday.

Ain’t it fun getting to know your neighbors ;-)?

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more posts. And don’t forget to give my Poppy Cove Mysteries a try if you haven’t already.

Toodles, Barbara Jean

Posted in 1950's fun, 1950's, 1950s fun, 50's housewife, Alter Ego, bake sale, blogaday, Blogs, Bridge night, Cat Fight, Characters, Communication, Conversation, creative writing, Creativity, daily blog, diary, Domestic life, entertainment, Etiquette, family life, Fiction, Fictional Characters, flash fiction, Historical, historical fiction, Humor, journal, neighbors, Nostalgia, Pop Culture, postaday, Social Mores, Socializing, stories, suburbia, Uncategorized, Vintage, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

…But I Discovered Christopher!

Hi there, guys and dolls! Hope you’re all having a lovely holiday weekend. My girls (Andrea Taylor and Heather Shkuratoff are Canadian, so they have had a lovely weekend full of fun, family and tradition, with a little Met Opera and old movies to round it out). I, on the other hand, am enjoying Columbus Day. And that’s an understatement. You see, Columbus might have discovered America, but I discovered Christopher.

Christopher kind of looked like Marcello….nice, huh?

Saturday morning, I was out running errands and minding my own business (that’s what I say, if anyone asks me, but really, I’m just out and around, seeing what’s going on). Then I just happened to run into this handsome man, a stranger in town, gasp! And such a handsome one.

Immediately before someone else like Peggy or Nancy snatched him up, I conveniently happened to bump into him at the busy downtown market. Well, to be honest, it was a bit of a maneuver. Every time I would try to cross his path, he would turn a corner, or reach for something else. Finally we both happened to grab the same orange at the same time (well, for me it was the fifth fruit grasp, but who’s counting) and our eyes locked.

A fair likeness of us strolling around town, with me being a little coy, just a little.

Turns out he was an Italian named Christopher, just passing through town. My, was he a wonderful specimen of man, sigh. I boldly took his strong arm, offering to show him around town. He took me up on my offer and we had a grand time, seeing the local sites, making sure to parade him in front of all my friends. I’m pretty sure Penny’s jaw is still somewhere on the sidewalk when it dropped when she saw him and me being on his arm and Anna May might still be that unattractive shade of envious green, but that’s their problem.

As pretty as he was, he knew very little English, and my extent of Italian is just shy of getting through a menu. Somehow through a series of gestures that bordered on unwholesome suggestions, I managed to convince him to come to my house for dinner, around eight o’clock. Bliss!

Not sure what possessed me to attempt this…

Then I realized that I had offered to cook him dinner. Um, I don’t really cook. I burn. I underwhelm with my culinary skills and I think somewhere in the heat of the discussion I ended up saying I could make a meal just like his mother. Where that came from, I don’t know. That way to a man’s heart, stomach thing. Barbara Jean, what had you got yourself into?

We parted, I picked up a cook book and got cracking. After getting all the tomato sauce and spaghetti of the kitchen ceiling and making an emergency run to Chelli’s, my favorite Santa Lucia Italian Restaurant for a full meal take out, including a couple of bottles of Chianti, I was set.

But you know, it didn’t matter. After just a couple of bread sticks and a glass or two of the divine wine, we had settled ourselves on the sofa, conducting a little indoor exploration. Nothing like discovering new territory, I say ;-).

A little later, Christopher and I ate the pasta and cacciatore with unbridled abandon and gusto. Then I sent him on his way to discover more of America. That’s my idea of celebrating the appropriate holiday in the correct manner. Ciao!

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more posts. And don’t forget to give my Poppy Cove Mysteries a try if you haven’t already.

Toodles, Barbara Jean

Posted in 1950's fun, 1950's, 1950's California, 1950s fun, 1950s glamour, Alter Ego, Authors, blogaday, Blogs, California, Canadian Thanksgiving, Characters, Columbus Day, Conversation, creative writing, Creativity, daily blog, Dating, diary, Domestic life, entertainment, flash fiction, Historical, historical fiction, Holidays, Humor, Italian, journal, long read, Love, Nostalgia, Pop Culture, postaday, Romance, Social Mores, Socializing, Uncategorized, Vintage, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t You Just Love Advice?

Hi there, guys and dolls! And just like that, it’s Friday! Time for one of my favorite pastimes, doling out advice. The best part is that it’s wanted. Now, to be honest, I don’t care. I’ll share my vast and not always proper knowledge of life, love and the whole darn thing. Let’s get to our first letter, shall we?

Now that’s vivacious!

Dear Barbara Jean,

Is it okay to wear a bullet bra when seeking out new male companionship? Would that be considered false advertising?

Vivacious Vera from Vermont

Dear Vera,

Of course not! Nor would it be considered falsie advertising ;-). A gal needs to work her assets. I say if you’ve got it (real or purchased), flaunt it. As for the moment of truth down the road if you get a good catch (and that could be hours or days later, depending on your attraction, age and experience in such matters), make sure he’s suitably mesmerized by all of your charms before the big reveal. A important tip – be sure to understand how to carry yourself. No one wants to have an eye poked out (trust me, I’ve had the oddest things happen…another time). Happy Hunting!

Let him figure it out.

Dear Barbara Jean,

My husband is always complaining about what I make for dinner. He says he’s tired of the same old meatloaf and mashed potatoes routine and when I try to make something new, he says he doesn’t like it. Quite frankly I’m fed up. What do I do?

Grumpy Gus’ Gertie in Georgetown

Doesn’t he look happy doing this chore?

Dear Gertie,

For goodness sake, get him studying the books! Cook books, that is. Show Mr. Grumpy Gus what it’s like to try to keep him fed, watered and happy. Every time he grumbles, get him to make a list, get the grub and make the meal. A day or two of that and you should be back to marital bliss. Toodles!

Keep your letters coming! I love to help or hinder any way I can.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more posts. And don’t forget to give my Poppy Cove Mysteries a try if you haven’t already.

Toodles, Barbara Jean

Posted in 1950's fun, 1950's, 1950s fun, 1950s glamour, 50's Fashions, 50's housewife, 50's Husband, advice, advice column, Alter Ego, Authors, Beauty, blogaday, Blogs, creative writing, daily blog, Dating, Domestic life, entertainment, Etiquette, family life, fashion, Fiction, Fictional Characters, flash fiction, Historical, historical fiction, Humor, journal, long read, Men in the Kitchen, Nostalgia, opinion, Perspective, postaday, Readers, reading, Romance, Shopping, Social Mores, Socializing, suburbia, Uncategorized, Vintage, Writers, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Weekends are Made for Intrigue

Hi there, guys and dolls! Already Thursday’s here. My goodness, I just got over Monday. With the next weekend almost upon us, it’s time for my Raves and Faves, and this week I’m so excited to talk about the Lane Winslow Mysteries by the clever, witty and all around talented Iona Whishaw.

You’ve got to feel for the main character, Lane Winslow. Poor thing, just wants to settle and relax in the boonies of beautiful backwoods British Columbia, but a gal can never escape her past (don’t I know it). Always catches up with you. Lane, however, has more of an intriguing than tawdry past (as opposed to mine, but that’s another story). Little known as common knowledge, Lane was a former British Intelligence Officer. The books start in 1946 as she gets reluctantly involved in international matters once again. And let’s not forget, there’s also the Inspector Darling (whom I personally think of as the Darling Inspector ;-)).

I love Lane. Who wouldn’t? Her instincts and training kick in again as she takes on the spy game with great cunning gusto. Plus, Iona’s a terrific storyteller and great writer to boot.

Here’s a list of her books in order. Just click on the titles to be taken to their Amazon links. Not only great weekend, but all the time reads. PS – Don’t you just love the covers?

Book 1

A KILLER IN KING’S COVE (#1)

It is 1946, and war-weary young ex-intelligence officer Lane Winslow leaves London to look for a fresh start. When she finds herself happily settled into a sleepy hamlet in the interior of British Columbia surrounded by a suitably eclectic cast of small-town characters she feels like she may finally be able to put her past to rest.

But then a body is discovered, the victim of murder, and although she works alongside the town’s inspectors Darling and Ames to discover who might have possibly have motivation to kill, she unknowingly casts doubt on herself. As the investigation reveals facts that she has desperately tried to keep a secret, it threatens to pull her into a vortex of even greater losses than the ones she has already endured.

DEATH IN A DARKENING MIST (#2)

After the turbulence of her first several weeks in King’s Cove, former British intelligence officer Lane Winslow wants nothing more than to finally settle into a nice, quiet life in her new community. But when the body of a Russian man is found at the local hot springs, Lane’s expertise—and remarkable linguistic abilities—prove to be invaluable to the case. 

The investigation, led by Inspector Darling, points to the Soviet Union, where Stalin’s purges are eliminating enemies. Further evidence reveals that the reach of Stalin’s agents snakes all the way into a harmless Doukhobor community not far from King’s Cove. Lane’s complicated relationship with Darling is intensified by the perils of the case—and by the discovery of her father’s death during the war. 

AN OLD, COLD GRAVE (#3)

Even the smallest, most idyllic communities have dangerous secrets. When the Hughes ladies—King Cove’s favourite mere et filles–discover the skeletal remains of a child in their root cellar, everyone is shocked and gripped by difficult and painful questions. Who could the child be? Why were they not buried in the local cemetery? Has a murderer been living amongst them for decades?

Despite Lane’s desire to distance herself from her wartime career as British Intelligence, and the dashing Inspector Darling, she is recruited to aid in the decades-old cold case, tasked to discover all she can about the community around the time of the incident. But Lane’s instincts may be too good. When a sudden realization spurs her to act quickly—and without backup—she discovers more than she bargained for and finds herself in grave danger. 

IT BEGINS IN BETRAYAL (#4)

It’s been four years since Flight Lieutenant Darling and his crew were shot out of the sky, crash landing their Lancaster in a field behind enemy lines in occupied France. He lost two good men in that battle—two of millions of the war’s casualties—and spent the intervening years building a new life. But now a British government official has come to King’s Cove with questions about what happened that chaotic day, and to summon Darling to London for further investigation.

In a matter of days, Darling is arrested and charged with murder. Without hesitation, Lane makes her way to London, where she is told there is little hope of  saving the man she loves. But she refuses to give up without a fight. Prepared to  do anything for his release, Lane considers a dangerous proposal that could save Darling’s life—and endanger her own.

A SORROWFUL SANCTUARY (#5)

Lane Winslow is enjoying a perfect, sunny day at the lake when she spots a gravely injured young man drifting in a sinking rowboat. Hypothermic, bleeding, and soaked in icy water, he is unable to speak, leaving Lane at a loss. What series of events brought him to this grisly fate?

Darling and Ames are quick to pick up the case, but leads are few until Angela’s young son finds an unsettling clue on the beach—a bright red swastika lapel pin—that points to the National Unity Party of Canada. When the anonymous man succumbs to his injuries, Darling and Lane are thrown headlong into a murder investigation with ties to the old country.

A DECEPTIVE DEVOTION (#6)

A wedding is on the horizon for Lane Winslow and Inspector Darling. As one of the few Russian speakers in her community, Lane is obliged to act as translator and hostess for Countess Orlova, an elderly Russian woman who has tracked her missing brother to the Nelson area. Nelson PD investigates, but then the murder of a lone hunter in the hills above King’s Cove takes top priority.

Darling works the case with a Constable Oxley—a newcomer to the area, assigned in Constable Ames’ temporary absence—and a British agent contacts Lane to warn her to be on the lookout for a fleeing Russian defector. Bound by the Wartime Secrets Act, Lane is conflicted about keeping the information from Darling, especially when it begins to put a strain on their relationship.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more posts. And don’t forget to give my Poppy Cove Mysteries a try if you haven’t already.

Toodles, Barbara Jean

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Midge’s Big Catch

Hi there, guys and dolls! Big excitement at the office today! Madge came in a day late, but not a dollar short. I’ll tell you all about it.

Monday rolled around, most of us dragged our sorry souls into the steel and glass day prison for another week’s round of torture. Okay, it’s not that bad, I don’t do much and there’s plenty of hanky panky and gossip, so I think I’m exaggerating a tad. Anyway, most of us showed up except for Madge, who called in “sick” with a “cough.” Poor thing! According to Bertha, the current manager of the typing pool (they turn over like flies, always complaining about how stressful it is to listen to all of the whining…), Madge either sounded like she could have the plague, so we all knew she was fine, just having another dirty weekend somewhere out of town. That happened about once a month with her.

Madge showing what she caught on the weekend

As usual, she showed up Tuesday, all bright eyed and bushy tailed, not a phlegmy wheeze or hack coming out of her. Instead, she was sporting a rock on her finger! And giving notice, saying she was going to be far too busy planning the wedding of the century in June.

Well, of course, weren’t we all so happy for her (to her face of course; behind her back, the daggers were flying and so were the comments in the lunchroom. even I blush when I think of the sailor talk).

So yes, she spent a wonderfully wistful long weekend with the rugged Tad up in his mountain cabin. Among the roughing it of fishing and roaring fireplaces, she managed to swindle his grandmother’s heirloom engagement ring onto her finger.

Midge with Tad a month earlier. She thought she had him hooked.

I say bully for her. Midge however was not too happy. Seems that Tad had blown off the Saturday date with her, saying he was going up for a men’s weekend up in the hills. Looks like Madge is more man than Midge will ever be. 😉

Yep, we’re thrilled for her, leaving her drudge and getting the man of her dreams. I’m just glad Tad’s off the scene. To be honest, I got tired of fending him off. Sloppy kisser….

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more posts. And don’t forget to give my Poppy Cove Mysteries a try if you haven’t already.

Toodles, Barbara Jean

Posted in 1950's fun, 1950's, 1950's California, 1950s fun, Alter Ego, blogaday, Blogs, creative writing, Creativity, daily blog, Dating, diary, Engagement, entertainment, Fiction, Fictional Characters, Fishing, flash fiction, Historical, historical fiction, Humor, journal, long read, Love, Marriage, Nostalgia, Office life, Office work, Pop Culture, postaday, Romance, Social Mores, Socializing, stories, Uncategorized, Vacation, Vintage, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments