Sunday, July 25, 2010

Mid-Century Mom Bakes a Cake!

Good evening, all. I hope every single one of you has had a chance to watch the premiere of Mad Men tonight. :) Not me, alas. Once again, living in a Mid-Century Modern home on the edge of a forest has led to us being without power...for the tenth time since we moved there in 2007. Sigh. At least my dad lives near us and has power for me to get this post done. No Mad Men here, though, as my kids really REALLY want to watch PBS Sprout. I feel like such a good mid-century mom, putting their happiness before my own desire to see people in beautiful outfits drinking. LOL.

Thank you, Getty Images. This image suited my needs just perfectly today! :)

You know what feels REALLY very mid-century mom to me? Baking a cake! I mean to me (and probably many others) this seems to be the activity I see most when watching old television programs or talking with ladies of that generation. Baking was an art form!

The lady in this image is 100% mid-century mom with her frilly, colorful apron, conservative dress, and bright, beautiful smile. The cake she is holding out may not be the stuff of current TLC programming, but it has a subtle, gentle beauty, small and well-formed with the yummiest looking buttercream frosting.

Before we get to what I actually look like baking the cake, I have to show you my festive, fun outfit. I didn't just bake a cake because I enjoy it (more on that later)...but because it was February and my husband and my son share birthdays (almost--one is the 11th and the other the 12th). I needed to show them some love and at the same time fulfill one of my blog needs. (Anything for you lovely 36 followers!)

Like the lady in the photo, I have a full face of makeup, nice hair, pearls, and a very lady-like dress. I also have my baby girl in tow, but she is often there. ;)

But what shouts mid-century mom in the kitchen more than an a graphic apron? Exactly. Anthropologie has a TON of great aprons, and I just adore this one with its green/ivory floral print and snazzy blue buttons.

I had baked the cake for the prescribed time (from a box--baking is NOT my thing--miracle this one turned out so well) and once cooled, I brought out the very fabulous, in a can, whipped buttercream frosting (yum, yum, YUM!). I could eat it straight from the can but I do have to maintain my figure, so I will leave it for the cake.

Yes, that is a spatula, and yes, I am smiling nice and big. This is FUN! (I think the scents of the frosting and cake had put me in a sort of sugar wonder so many mid-century moms enjoyed baking...)

Trying to spread the icing perfectly is an art form...I really desired that it stay even and smooth. I think the little bend to my leg helps. (Either that or I really wanted you all to see the cuteness of my Boden kitten heels...aren't they just TDF?)

What would a birthday cake be without the candles? Since this was for both my husband and son, there were balloon candles AND number candles. If I was a better baker and artist, I would have piped balloons and written their names and ages in blue and purple. (Maybe in another post!)

Yes, that smile means I know I am nearly done. :)

And there it is...all spruced up and ready to go. Yes, Mr. Mid-Century Mom and Rex were very pleased. The cake lasted all of two days. (And there are four of us in the of whom is a baby and one who doesn't really eat cake--me! So for it to be gone so quickly is saying something!)

Final Thoughts: I am not a very good baker, have never been. The cakes, muffins, breads, etc. I make are fine, just not luscious. But you know what? Like the mid-century moms of the 40s, 50s, and 60s, my family was just fine with what I make, actually more than fine...based on the family's reaction, you would think I was one of the DC Cupcake girls. And that is perfect enough for me.

Ease of being a mid-century mom: 3 out of 5 (5 is the easiest to be a mid-century mom). I find that baking in heels and pearls is just okay. I find cooking in general a lot easier in flip-flops and shorts, but it wasn't terrible. The heels made me taller, so I had to bend over more and that got a bit tiring. And I was a bit concerned for my pearls, as they are real and very special to me. (Nothing happened...maybe if I had been working with hot oil it would be a different story, but baking doesn't really affect your The apron helped with the dress, and I felt like I could get into it more knowing my clothes would be fine.

I am so glad I was able to do two of these today. (See this post on making a snowman if you missed the one from this morning!) I do look forward to doing more, and hopefully it won't be another 6 months before I do the next one! ;)

Mid-Century Mom Makes a Snowman!

Hello, dear sweet readers of mine! It sure has been a long time. In fact it has been such a long time that this post is woefully out of date! But let's turn lemons into lemonade (ooh, another great idea for a mid-century mom post) and pretend that I did this on purpose--it is SO HOT outside I am sure many of you will enjoy this journey to a much cooler environment, in other words, Virginia in mid-February of 2010.

I was very excited to do this particular "chore" for you all. I truly believe that when you have snow, you need to enjoy it while it lasts. I might HATE snow (yes, it's true), but I can see why it is special. Plus, kids love snow, and what kind of mid-century mom would I be if I didn't get out there and enjoy it with my children?

So when enough snow had melted...remember, there was almost 36 inches of it where we lived...we took the kids outside to make a snowman. It was still too high for darling CW (see pics below), and she barely had a good time, but at least she can say that we gave it our best shot. I also had to do this task wearing my best approximation of what women in the mid-century would wear to do the same basic task (p.s. not a whole lot of images of retro housewives outside in the

Above is one of maybe three images I could find of a retro woman in the snow. Thank you, darling for providing me with the image I so desperately needed. :)

I hope you notice that although she is wearing pants, she is still the very epitome of lady-like, gloves, kerchief, pants and coat that nicely hug her figure (yet not too much), and sturdy, yet in no way manly boots. Doesn't she make you want to find a nice cold place and play in the snow with your husband and dog (even though we all know that it is 12 degrees outside and that snow is probably over four feet tall)?

In my beret, tailored coat, borrowed from the boys jeans, gloves, and boots, I feel very put-together, yet no so much that I can't get "dirty."

I don't know if you can see this, but CW is sitting on a part of the snow that was sturdy enough to hold her...much of the snow just swallowed her up and there she was, her torso peeking out of the snow while her legs and feet were covered. Poor baby. :)

At this point, with the world's teeniest snowman (who knew that even with a lot of snow, if you have the wrong snow, it is hard to make a snowman--huh!), we are adding the finishing touches. Nothing fancy here, just some rocks and sticks.

Please do note that I am doing just fine in my ensemble. Thank goodness ladies from the '50s didn't wear dresses and heels to do winter "outside" work.

Oh, isn't that snowman cute? It is a baby snowman! :)

It is hard to tell from my snow pics what I actually am wearing, so here is a closer look.

The sweater is covering a blouse. Even though I am going outside, I chose to find a very lady-like look as I still want to be 100% housewife. (If I showed you what I would wear if I wasn't doing a mid-century mom post, you would see a much more casual get-up.)

And the coat? Pure femininity.

Final Thoughts: I really loved this "chore". I just wish my kids had been able to get more into it, as well. I think I will try this post again when they are a bit older and there isn't *quite* as much snow on the ground. (Which shouldn't be hard--our last winter was one for the record books and unlikely to be seen again for another hundred years or so.)

Ease of being a mid-century mom: 5 out of 5 (5 is the easiest to be a mid-century mom). I again truly appreciate that even in the 40s, 50s, and 60s, women were reasonable about their outdoor wear. This task would have EASILY been a 1 out of 5 had I had to do it in heels, dress, and stockings.

I would like to let you know that I am ready and able to keep up with this blog again. It wasn't that this blog was a "chore" to me, it was that I was uninspired, and unlike my other blogs, I don't want to litter this blog with bad writing and posts that are not well thought out. If it is a while between posts, it is simply my way of keeping this blog as wonderful as possible. :)

On that note, there will be one more post today (yay, two in one day!) as I HAVE to celebrate the return of Mad Men tonight. I know many of you will watch and I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Mid-Century Mom Unpacks the Groceries!!!

Hello, my dear readers. I apologize profusely for my long absence. Winter has come in like a lion here in the Northern Virginia region, as has a minor kerfuffle at the house, so dinagideon's alter-ego, Mid-Century Mom had to take a whole month off.

Finally, though, dinagideon got her act together last Friday and said "enough is enough...time to don the pencil skirts and pearls again and get to some household tasks." Mid-Century Mom is back, and with a smile, of course. ;)

My task was three-fold. In my most lady-like grey fitted sheath dress and heels, I needed to attend a parent/teacher conference, go to the grocery store, and unpack the groceries. I am happy to report all three went off without one bit of issue. Since I didn't think bringing a camera into the parent/teacher conference (even for the sake of this little blog of mine that could) would be appropriate, and since I have already done a post on grocery shopping, I knew that the third task would be my "Mid-Century Mom" post this week (let's forget that it has been a month)--so let's go unpack some groceries.

Image of housewife unpacking groceries courtesy of Getty Images. Yet again, a fantastic image from a very well known stock image company.

I do appreciate the care with which this lovely lady is approaching her task of grocery unpacking. Not only is she placing the cans of yummy soup and other goods on the counter just so (ready to be put away when the time is right--but out of the way so her children can't get to them), she is checking her receipt to make sure that everything she has purchased was placed in her bag. I suspect if there was an error, she would be able to get the item they missed without any issue.

I don't know if I, as Mid-Century Mom, have risen to the level that the beautiful housewife in the Getty Images has in this chore, but I think the little leg kick and Mona Lisa smile at least has me on my way there. I would say that the beginning of this task was fairly pleasant. After all, Mr. Mid-Century Mom *did* bring the groceries upstairs for me...which allowed me to focus all my attention on getting the foodstuffs where they belong!

Would you look at that? Cheese grated for you? Carrots washed AND cut down already? These little conveniences will make my life as a Mid-Century Mom much easier...prepping to cook will be virtually non-existent with these lovelies in my life.

Ooh, this bag is a bit heavy. Had I had to bring up these myself, I could have done it (after all I carry a forty-pound toddler on a regular basis), but it was sure nice to have someone else do it for me. In fact, I would say that Mr. Mid-Century Mom was more willing to help me because he didn't want my pretty outfit to get ruined. So sweet...

The one thing that Mid-Century Mom wants more than anything? A full-sized pantry. For a kitchen the size of ours, we have very inadequate space for our food. It is actually sort of shocking! Our old house, which was much smaller than our current house had far more room. But I do best with what I have, and of course, I always do so with a smile!

Last but not least, the refrigerated stuff must be placed in the proper position to ensure proper temperature control. Do not put the meats and fish in the door, it is far too warm for them there, and they will spoil. And no Mid-Century Mom wants to have that hanging over her perfectly coiffed head. Gastrointestinal illness is no fun, no matter what decade!

Final Thoughts: I enjoyed this chore. Even when I am not Mid-Century Mom, I find the process of unpacking groceries and putting them in their perfect place a lot of fun. Doing so in heels and a sheath dress just took the chore to the next level. And hey, Mr. Mid-Century Mom happily brought the groceries upstairs!

Ease of being a mid-century mom: 3 out of 5 (5 is the easiest to be a mid-century mom). Not the easiest, especially when I needed to get down on my knees and put the groceries in the lower cabinets and the fridge. It may have been uncomfortable, but it wasn't difficult. Try it sometime, ladies, you may find you like it! (And if you have a large pantry, you may enjoy it even more so than I did!)

Hopefully, I will speak with you all sooner rather than later!!! Have a very lovely and a pleasant time the rest of this week!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Mid-Century Mom Shops for Christmas Dinner!!!

Howdy, All!!!

Sorry for the two week absence, but things were busy in the Mid-Century Mom's life. Between crazy snow (which I did not shovel in a dress or heels, I am not crazy), last-minute Christmas shopping, and cleaning the house, something had to give...

But I am back, and I am proud to say, I took Mid-Century Mom on a field trip to the grocery store to do some Christmas dinner shopping.

The store was just about to close on December 24, 2009, but Mid-Century Mom found a way to make what could have been a stressful, time-crunched outing into something delightful. It even included un-ruffling the feathers of a certain Mid-Century Dad who was sure that as soon as the clock in the grocery store struck 7:00 p.m., the whole of the mid-century family would be incinerated by the evil forces of the grocery management. (Definitely did not happen, as Mid-Century Mom predicted while gently feeling the winter squash for any imperfections. Mid-Century Mom loves her husband, but is a voice of reason in unsettling times. Just like a good housewife should be...)

We took thirty minutes in the store to purchase the makings for dinner including ham, sweet potatoes, squash, pearl onions, butter, green beans (in a can), brown sugar, and pecans. There was also a little tipple in the basket, some very nice white wine.

I found this image over at a BRITISH newspaper, the Daily Mail, and thought it was perfection. This experience we had was very similar in feel to this photo. I even made sure to wear gloves, heels, and a hat. This may be one of my favorite mid-century images, ever. :)

We had started in produce, but as I said earlier, Mid-Century Dad was having a melt-down about the closing time and flatly refused to take a photo. After my little "speech," he acquiesced and decided the images would be fun...especially since Mid-Century Mom made such an effort (look at the gloves, I know it was cold out, but I wore leather gloves with a RUFFLE at the hem...points???).

Here I am with my son checking out the green beans in the can. We were on our way to my dad's for Christmas Eve dinner and he mentioned he needed more green beans (for the yumminess known as Green Bean Casserole) I picked a couple up for him. (The rest of the things I mentioned getting earlier in this post were for CHRISTMAS dinner at our place, with my dad and brother as guests.)

Even when I am not Mid-Century Mom, I always check for dents on my cans. Why? I really don't know. I think I heard once that dented cans can leach metal into the ingredients, but that probably isn't true. Still I check every single can...probably a bit of OCD kicking in...

Found!!! Two cans that are perfect. Apparently Mid-Century Son (Rex) has spotted something ominous in the racks...

And there they go, into the buggy. Doesn't Mid-Century Daughter (CW) look thrilled?

Yes, Mid-Century Mom, her buggy, and her heels took extra care at this wet floor (I suspect it was dry by that point, but you can never be too careful).

And in good Mid-Century Modern Family fashion, one MUST take a waltz down the chilled aisles of the frozen food section. Food that stays good AND yummy for months? Lovely!

Final Thoughts: This was such a nice outing. I truly felt special walking down the aisles of the local Safeway in this outfit. (Can you imagine a time when all people dressed like this to go out?) It wasn't even that difficult. I am already tall enough at 5'8", but those extra 2" that the heels gave was helpful with grabbing some things from the very top shelf. I had an extra spring in my step because there appeared to be something magical about wearing a well-made silk taffeta shirtdress to the store. I felt like the skirt lifted to life in motion with the wheels of the buggy. I suggest all ladies give this type of an outing a whirl.

Ease of being a mid-century mom: 5 out of 5 (5 is the easiest to be a mid-century mom).

Talk with you all later...must update my other blog with this outfit's information (in case any of you are interested in those details).

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mid-Century Mom Folds Some Clothes!!!

Sorry that I didn't get this post up this weekend. I was a bit busy with my other blogs, and since most of you read those, I knew you wouldn't be that desperate!!! ;)

This has to be sort of a quick post, I am rushing off to a party with some of my husband's office mates, so I can't go on and on like I like to!!!

Last week's task was for me to get very nicely dressed up and fold the laundry. Nothing terribly exciting, but definitely a need in our house...Mr. Dina gets very irritated if I use the laundry racks too long (we do very little dryer drying in this household, so in some weird way we were mid-century modern even before we started this little project of mine).

The image above is from Getty Images. It was sort of a pain to find this one...who would have thunk it???

You all saw me in this outfit already...I wore it here in this post over at My Superfluities. I had alluded to this post then, but am only now getting around to it. Bad me!

Don't I just look so happy folding these pants? My goal was to not look at this chore as a chore, but more as a way of keeping everything in my household just so and right. I am (normally, not just as mid-century mom) very particular about my clothing (shocker, right?), so this task is something I do on a regular basis and NO ONE is allowed to do it for me. But I wanted to elevate this chore to something else...a sort of gemutlichkeit (in German it means a coziness within the house) task. I wanted to do this job because this task enlivens me...and it almost worked.

Here I am folding a top. I am always folding my tops just like they do in the stores. J. Crew should hire me, if only to fold, fold, fold. I look at the sales assistants on the floor using that board thing and think, "amateurs." ;)

There's the smile (just like the lady in the photo from Getty Images).

Final Thoughts: I didn't quite reach zen-like highs doing the folding, but I was amazed at how quickly the job went once I sat down and just "folded." I had no distractions (outside of Mr. Dina and the camera for the first ten minutes). For twenty-five minutes, I folded clothing.

The only thing that made this task difficult was the couch I was sitting is kind of cushy, and I felt like I was sinking into the cushions. Also, the dress and fishnet stockings combo was a little itchy, so I felt uncomfortable.

Ease of being a mid-century mom: 4 out of 5 (5 is the easiest to be a mid-century mom).

Okay, I am off to party (I should get that outfit up tonight over at My Superfluities). :)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Mid-Century Mom Sets the Table!!!

Mid-Century Mom now has thirteen followers. I consider thirteen a good number, so yay!

I really REALLY wanted to do a Mid-Century Mom Packs for a Vacation post, but time, reality, and my darling children set in to make that impossible. Sigh. Next time (probably around February or March).

One thing I was able to do in my retro experiment over Thanksgiving break? I was able to dress up to the nines and set the Thanksgiving table. I also recreated the butternut squash soup for Thanksgiving feast, but since you all had seen that already, I decided that particular part of the day need not be photographed. :)

The Thanksgiving table is very important in today's modern America. Once upon a time, the dinner table EVERY night was very important in America. While Mr. Mid-Century Mom, Rex, and CW and I sit at a table every evening (or most, anyhow) to have dinner, there is nothing special that happens to prepare the table. It is a minor miracle if I get my laptop off the table...

This image below is the very essence of mid-century America's fascination with the perfectly set table (and for what appears to be BREAKFAST, too). And the woman setting the table? As resplendent as the table itself. This image was my goal in setting the Thanksgiving table.

This image comes courtesy of Corbis. Lots of neat, retro images available there for purchase, etc.

This outfit is a beautiful pencil skirt, a ruffly, feminine swiss dot top, a skinny patent belt, and a cashmere cardigan in a matching hue. My hair is pulled back neatly by a headband. I am wearing sparkly earrings to showcase my face. The shoes are hidden, but they are nude kitten heels (see next photo). Also head on over to My Superfluities at some point to see the outfit itself showcased in its individual parts.

The table I am setting is for a total of six individuals. At this point of the photo essay, I was placing the cutlery just know, fork on the left side, knife and spoon on the right side with a napkin placed underneath.

Table setting isn't rocket science, but keeping things symmetric and pretty can be a challenge if you are using mismatched napkins, cutlery, and plates. :) But in the end, that is my goal...make everything in the house delightful, regardless of circumstance. My '50s housewife muse would be oh so proud.

A full shot of the table and the beginning of the process. Mr. Mid-Century Mom stopped taking photos after the cutlery and napkins were set, so there is not much more excitement here...but the table did look full and especially yummy once done...I promise.

Final Thoughts: I thought cooking dinner was easy as a Mid-Century Mom? Nope! This was by far easier than even I anticipated. The outfit was especially comfortable. And the skirt is a size 6! I guess it goes to show...if you put your mind to something and WANT to enjoy yourself, you will, no matter that there is no sweatpants or hoodies in sight for miles!

Ease of being a mid-century mom: 5 out of 5 (5 is the easiest to be a mid-century mom).

Have a lovely weekend, all. I plan on (in the next week) creating a Mid-Century Mom Does the Laundry post. :)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mid-Century Mom Makes Dinner!!!

I love my sweet 9 followers! Your great suggestions last week made my day, and I had a lot of fun this week scouring the internet for really cool vintage shots of housewives doing housework of all sorts. Expect to see (in the near future) me attempting packing, doing the dishes (in dishwater), ironing, raking leaves, etc. Next spring I will definitely attempt to do gardening, too.

My next question for you is this: What do you all think of when you think of mid-century mom and casual wear? I doubt that back when that women gardened wearing their Sunday best. What would you all suggest I wear when doing more of the menial and dirty work? I still want to be accurate in my depiction of a mid-century housewife, but I cannot imagine Susie Homemaker in 1959 would have worn a wool pencil skirt, heels, and a silk blouse to go weed. :)

I found this image at They have a plethora of images from this time period. Very cool. I chose this image because it most correctly shows what happened here at Mid-Century Mom's house last week when I wore a beautiful shirtdress, an apron, hosiery, and a pair of pointy-toed flats, plus a headband. My kids were even parading around me (although we have no shots of that happening). The only difference? Mr. Dina wasn't in a suit. :) He didn't sign up to me a mid-century man...maybe one day I can convince him to give it a shot...maybe when I serve him a (non-alcoholic) drink, HeidiG. ;)

Now, unlike most chores around the house, I LOVE to cook. So I knew straight away I would have no problem with this challenge. That said, I do normally cook in outfits that I have no need to worry about staining. I love to cook in frying pans and stew pots, and over the years I have received quite a few stains on my outfits from my cooking style (I am very free-form).

I cook well, just maybe not as organized and pretty as some might.

Well, would you look at that??? No stains, no messes, etc., and I am halfway through the meal-making process. WOW! At this point I am smelling the butternut squash soup I am making (from scratch, thank you, Miss Giada, AWESOME recipe). Look at the french bread rounds sitting to the left waiting to be oiled and placed in the oven...they are all lined up perfectly on the cutting board.

And look at my posture. Stick-straight. Lovely. If it weren't for the microwave and the stainless steel EVERYWHERE, Mr. Dina said I could actually fool people into believing I am in the 1950s. So sweet. BTW, the dress is from IDEOLOGY. It is from 2005, I believe. Sadly, Macy's doesn't carry this brand at all...and since I bought this dress at Hecht's (used to be THE department store of the Mid-Atlantic region), I probably will never be able to buy IDEOLOGY ever again. Sigh.

Here is a back view of the preparation process. Look at my very full skirt. So mid-century mom.

Final Thoughts: I found this challenge way too easy. I only took the dress off because it isn't really conducive to nursing a baby. I probably could have worn it all night...and the apron was GREAT at keeping stains away. Huh...I think my apron will get more use from now on. I plan on doing the whole dress up and cook thing more often. I don't know if it was the novelty or the dress, but I really liked cooking even more than usual. Plus the soup, YUMMY!

Ease of being a mid-century mom: 5 out of 5 (5 is the easiest to be a mid-century mom).

Next post will most likely be on me attempting to pack in full-on pencil skirt and pearls. That should be fun. (Maybe???)

(Oh, if you happen across an image of a housewife packing from the 50s or 60s, could you leave the link in the comments? I have a feeling that could be a difficult image to find.)