Thursday, December 31, 2009

holiday letter

Greetings on the eve of 1964, which I hope will be a better year for all of us than the last one. (We had our annual photo card taken, of course, but I couldn't bring myself to send it in the wake of the national tragedy.) Our family is well and I hope yours is, too. Our new addition is little Gene, named for my father who sadly passed away this summer. Don keeps busy in the ad game and I've gotten involved with local politics. Sally is still talking about the solar eclipse she saw with her teacher and Bobby can't wait to see real rockets at the World's Fair. Sometimes I think we're raising children from Outer Space!

All the best in '64,

Thursday, December 24, 2009

christmas at home

This album has special meaning for me this year. I'm tickled that I'm able to spend Christmas in Ossining after all. Henry splurged for jet tickets to bring us home for the holidays. The best present he could have given me and little Gene.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Greetings from Reno

Dear Sally and Bobby,
The weather is hot here, not like Christmastime at all. Baby Gene and I are buying you lots of souvenirs! I miss you and hope you are behaving yourselves for Carla. On Christmas Day she is taking you to see The Sword and the Stone!

Friday, September 4, 2009


To my surprise, I discovered that not everyone knows what a bathinette is! I asked Don to go through his slides to find a picture of one to show you. Here's a photo he took a few years ago at a neighbor's christening. Bathinettes are bathtubs for babies. (I'll have to remind Don to bring ours down from the attic.) Modern mothers prefer them because they're soft and shallow and safer than tubs and also serve as changing tables.

And speaking of modern motherhood, have you heard that Doctor Spock recommends bathing babies with soap and water instead of the old fashioned method of rubbing them down with oil? Too many "oiled" babies slipped right out of their mothers' hands! Could explain why teenagers these days are taking leave of their senses!

Friday, August 14, 2009

sometimes housewives know better than art directors

Have you seen Don's company's lovely new billboard for Popsicles? It's designed to be seen after dark. But why? Those night owl art directors. Don't they realize most of us shop during the day?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

it's nice to have a husband with a glamorous job

I complain now and then about the hours Don puts in, but I like being married to someone with an exciting career. Because he's in advertising, he can bring home free samples like new Utz snacks and the latest lipstick colors from Belle Jolie. He also gets comp tickets for Broadway shows and new movies. We're seeing an exciting new film Sunday nite. "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World." Everyone is talking about how great it will be. The director is the best in the business, Don says. He brought home a few extra tickets, would you like one?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

how to fix a wobbly chair

Last night, I discovered a simple solution to the exasperating problem of wobbly dining room chairs. Wine bottle corks! Don brought Roger Sterling home for dinner and while I was in the kitchen, Roger out took his pen knife and sliced off a piece of the cork and slipped it under the troublesome leg. He says wine is the answer to most troubles in life. He's such a card, isn't he?

Monday, May 25, 2009

memories of memorial day

When I was a little girl, we called it Decoration Day. It was the day for decorating graves of people who had died in the Great War. Daddy used to get us up early to go visit soldiers' graves. He'd give us little American flags and we'd place a flag on each headstone. There was always a parade later. Everyone wore poppies in their buttonholes. One year, William got to be a marching drummer in it. He wore a gold satin shirt, blue trousers and a blue tam with a gold tassel. Oh, I was jealous!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

the importance of getting dressed in the morning

I think it's as important for a housewife to dress up in the morning as it is for someone going into the office, don't you? How you look can affect your morale. Even your productivity! I find I get a lot more done if I'm feeling good about myself. And looking my best gives my spirits a lift, especially important in the doldrums of winter. Taking pains with your appearance also sets an example for children to follow, and household help, too.

Dressing well doesn't have to mean dressing fancy. I like to wear pants. (They make them with maternity bands now.) A simple cashmere sweater with pearl earrings is always a good look. And can be easily brightened with a colorful silk scarf.

Are you at home today reading this in your slippers? Go put on your face! You'll be surprised how much better you'll feel. Besides. You never know who might be ringing your doorbell.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

time to think pink?

Drinks with the Darlings last night, who had a little party to welcome their visiting cousin, Lidian. We got to talking about kitchens and Lidian said she is doing over hers pink! She showed us a picture she is copying. Isn't it grand? Which makes me wonder if our powder blue and knotty pine are a little old hat. Perhaps pink and walnut might be more modern? Don likes things just the way they are. But who knows what changes the 1960s will bring?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

thoughts on economy

Thank heavens, I don't have to economize drastically like my mother did during the war. When I was a girl, you needed ration stamps to buy shoes and gas and even butter. (Remember the plastic bags of oleomargarine that came out then, bags with the color capsule embedded in it? It was my job to knead the bag to make the white oleo buttery yellow. I hated this chore which William never had to do.)

We're lucky to be living when men have well-paying jobs and young families can buy houses. But that doesn't mean I don't do my part to economize. A housewife may not earn money directly, but she can add to the family income by making things stretch. Like, adding Wheaties to ground meat which I did last night when I thought Don might be bringing a guest home unannounced for dinner. (False alarm.)

Here are a few other hints:

Care for black lace lingerie by washing it in a solution of one tablespoon of ammonia to one cup of coffee. (I learned this from Francine. Have no idea why it works, but it does!)

If soup is too salty, don't throw it away. A couple of pinches of brown sugar will get rid of salty taste but won't sweeten soup.

Large seashells make great candleholders. Sally and I search for pretty shells when we go visit Daddy at the Jersey shore. I put votive candles in them to light up the powder room for parties. Festive!

Freshen day-old rolls and biscuits by tying them up in a brown paper sack that you sprinkle with water and warm in the oven. The rolls will taste fresh as if they were just brought by the bread man!

Which reminds me...have to run take my (leftover from Sunday roast) beef Stroganoff out of the oven! Do you have other tips on economizing? Drop me a line.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

peggy olson's award!

Don and I had a lovely time at the Shorty Awards ceremony. Ad people certainly know how to throw a party. Live swing band. Fancy four course dinner. When Peggy went onstage to receive her award, she got a standing ovation. Don clapped so hard, I thought he'd pop his tux buttons. I was so happy for her! I know she deserves it. Yet a part of me can't help but wish someone gave out awards for being a housewife.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

amaze picky eaters with wiggling vegetables

Sure, Wonder Bread build strong bodies 12 ways, but kids also need strength only the Jolly Green Giant can give them. A mother's dilemma: how to get them to eat their vegetables? Bury veggies in jello! Behold the astonishment when you approach the table with a delectable platter of wiggling peas, corn and carrots! 

Similarly scrumptious recipes can be found in Knox On-Camera Recipes, a  new cookbook I received from my friend Linda Newman

Friday, January 30, 2009


I think one of the nicest things a mother can do for her kids is to serve something hot from the oven when they come home from school. One of Sally's favorite snacks is Snickerdoodles which, to make snacktime healthy, I serve with a nice, cold glass of homogenized milk. I use the recipe on pg. 189 of Betty Crocker:

Mix together thoroughly...
1 C soft shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs

Sift together and stir in...
2 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Chill dough. Roll into balls the size of small walnuts. Roll in mixture of 2 TB sugar and 2 tsp. cinnamon. Place about 2" apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake until lightly browned...but still soft. (These cookies puff up at first...then flatten out with crinkled tops.)

Bake 8 to 10 min. at 400. Makes about 5 dozen cookies.
Delicious with Kool-Aid and adult beverages, too!

the importance of business cards

Don had lunch at Cardin's yesterday which is a men's restaurant so all the coats in the checkroom must look the same! When he got home last night, he was wearing someone else's overcoat! The check girl had given him the wrong one! But what to do? In the pocket was only a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. Luckily Don always keeps a business card in his pocket. So today he got a call at the office and was able to switch the coat for his own. Which was a good thing. The other coat was from a store not nearly as nice as Menken's!

designed by one of Sal's talented juniors, Bernardo

Friday, January 23, 2009

butterscotch brownies

Is there any aroma so comforting as brownies in the oven? These are one of Sally's favorite "welcome home from school" treats. The recipe I use is Betty Crocker's. You probably have it. But just in case:

1/4 butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup Flour (I use Gold Medal)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 c coarsely chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 350. Melt butter over low heat. Remove from heat; stir in sugar until blended; cool. Stir in egg. Stir flour, baking powder, salt together. Blend into butter mixture. Mix in vanilla and walnuts. Spread in well-greased 8x8x2" sq. pan. Bake 25 min. Do not overbake! Cut in bars while warm. Makes 18 bars about 2 1/2 x 1". Just big enough so as not to spoil their suppers!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

now there's an award for voters, too

Don is a darling. He knows how important an award can be. Of course, Don has already won lots of awards for copywriting. Last year, he even won a Newkie! So he doesn't need an award called a Shorty. But he is proud that I was nominated for one. And that his best copywriter (who's a gal!) was nominated too. I'm up for an award in entertainment (because of my dinner parties.) Peggy is up for one in (what else) advertising. Our gloved fingers are crossed! 

And because Don is always on the lookout for good creatives, he's running a creative contest for people who vote! Cast your vote for Peggy and/or me and the wording he thinks is most creative for each will win a good-as-gold-plated Sterling Cooper Creative Award! He's even gotten a client to sponsor prizes (which is more than the Shorty founders have done!) Most Creative Voter for Peggy will win a night on the town with the Sterling Cooper Gang at the Tom Tom*. Most Creative Voter for Betty will win a shopping trip in NY with...yours truly!*

If you've already voted and want to make yours more creative, that's ok! Simply vote again! Your official Shorty vote is the last one you send in each category.

So sharpen your pencil and put on your thinking cap and put in a vote. Vote for Peggy here and Betty here. Just finish the sentence. But brainstorm quickly! The Shorty Award voting ends at midnight tomorrow! The Sterling Cooper Voter Award will be announced next week!

*all prizes and time travel simulated in twitterspace

Lucky Strike "It's Toasted" is the Official Sponsor of Sterling Cooper Award for Creative Voters--May Your Strike Be the Lucky One!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

caroline kennedy in the white house

Just found this old magazine at the bottom of a sewing basket. I think little Caroline is adorable, don't you? It's lovely to have children in the White House for a change. It makes our country seem youthful and vigorous again. I give Jackie credit for wanting to raise the kids normally even though their father works in the Oval Office. But the advantage is, he is always at home!

Friday, January 16, 2009

it's never too early to teach good table manners (but it can be too late)

The Singer store is having a Winter special on Charm Lessons for Young Ladies. Sally is a little too young to sign up, but of course I'm already teaching her how to behave at the table. I think good table manners are important, don't you? It's surprising how many people don't seem to have them these days. I was particularly struck by this while dining next to Jimmy Barrett one night. He may be a big star but he's a boor at the table.

Here are a few basics I'm teaching Bobby and Sally. Some parents (like my brother!) are lax about table manners at home. But I think it's confusing to have two sets of rules: one for home and one for dining out. If children are brought up so that table manners are automatic, they're less likely to suffer dinner-party anxiety later in life. If you have any rules to add, please let me know!

1. Put your napkin on your lap as soon as you sit down. Don't tuck it in your collar and never, ever blow your nose in it! Use your hankie!

2. When you are eating soup, tip the spoon slightly away from you, don't scoop it towards you, like mashed potatoes. When the plate is almost empty, tip it away from you, too, so if you spill, nothing will fall in your lap.

3. Never, ever hold your knife in your left hand.

4. Cut only one small piece of meat at a time; don't chop it all up like you are dissecting it for observation.

5. Don't straddle your knife across the edge of the plate, or even worse, place it half-off the plate as if it were the oar of a rowboat. The proper resting position for silverware is fork and knife crossed on the plate, with the fork turned down, the tines making a little bridge over your knife. This is why the tines are curved!

6. Signal that you are finished your meal by "marrying" your knife and fork on the plate. Place them together, resting in the center of the plate. Don't try to signal that you are finished by pushing your plate away from you. It's rude!

7. It's not rude to eat your asparagus with fingers.

8. Dessert plates are sometimes served with a finger bowl. Do not drink from this bowl! Remove it and set it on the table, slightly northwest of your plate.

9. After dessert, dip the tips of your fingers in the fingerbowl. Don't try to wash your hands! It is not a sink!

10. Don't try to look refined by sticking out your little finger when you pick up a cup. This is a mark of sophistication only on television!

11. Don't get up from a table until your hostess does.

12. Most important of all: Remember that you've been invited to a dinner party not because you're in need of nourishment, but because you're thought to be a valuable addition to the table. Keep up your end of the conversation! Don't just sit there, looking like a sad sack. Be gay! (A colleague of Don's is quite accomplished in this area--ask Sal for tips in guiding your sons!)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

trade secret

My husband Don is head of a creative department in an ad agency, so being creative is his job. His job depends on getting ideas. (And we depend on his job!) He writes down an idea as soon as it comes to him, so it won't get away. That's why you see him scribbling on napkins, backs of envelopes, even sometimes on his linen hankies! I just found a matchbook from California in his blue summer jacket. Sure enough, there's even scribbling in that. Can't make out most words, only "Joy" and "Palm". Which must mean he's pitching the dish detergent account. Shhhh. Don't tell friends at Grey!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

the beauty of using a fountain pen

Certainly I use modern ballpoint pens for "business" purposes like signing checks, but I still prefer the smooth, lovely look a fountain pen gives to friendly letters and thank you notes, don't you? Of course, Sally's teacher insists that the children use fountain pens in Palmer penmanship class but now the school is allowing them to use ballpoints, too. Which certainly makes for fewer laundry disasters. But I wonder if something is lost in the process of encouraging children to write cursive without a nib. (I prefer extra-fine.)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

another advantage of a husband in advertising

Free magazines. Don calls them "comps." We get advance copies of all the magazines his ads run in, courtesy of Sterling Cooper. Life came today. Don says the cover girl, Ann Margaret, looks like me. That is, when I'm not in maternity clothes! Hasn't Detroit been in the news an awful lot lately?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

haberdashery dilemma

Went into town to return a few Christmas gifts today. (A perfectly hideous vase from Don's boss and his new paramour; train pajamas for Bobby that are two sizes too small.) The Fifth Avenue store windows are still decorated for Christmas! Which made me sad that Bobby and Sally weren't with me. Of course, we saw the windows last month when I took them to Lord & Taylor's Breakfast with Santa. But no crowds today, you could stand at the rope and stare for as long as you wanted. Speaking of windows, I passed a haberdasher whose wares on display reminded me that Don needs a new hat. Couldn't decide, though. If you see one you think would look good on him, do let me know.

Monday, January 5, 2009

a german lullaby my grandmother taught me

No, my grandmother wasn't Marlene Dietrich! But in Blonde Venus, an old movie that Harry Crane got the reel for, she sings a lullaby that I loved from my childhood. It's what I sing to the kids when they can't get to sleep. Like tonight, when Don came home as I was putting them to bed and got them all riled up again!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

how to make mickey mouse pancakes

The kids woke up feeling morose now that the holidays are over. (Don, on the other hand, seems surprisingly chipper about it.) To perk up their spirits, I made Mickey Mouse pancakes and served them on TV trays while they watched Davey and Goliath.

Betty Draper's Mickey Mouse Pancakes

2 C Bisquik
1 C milk
2 eggs
2 T sugar
2 tsp baking power
1 tsp vanilla
chocolate chips
jet-puffed marshmallows

Whisk ingredients together in a pyrex bowl. (Except chips and marshmallows.) Pour 1/3 cup batter onto a greased griddle for Mickey's face, then 1/8 cup for each of Mickey's ears. When Mickey's face starts to bubble, use a long spatula under his head and as much of the right ear as possible. Flip. Once pancake is flipped, press 2 chocolate chips to make eyes, 5 chips for his smile and a marshmallow for his nose. When lightly browned, remove from skillet and repeat. I serve with Parkay and Mrs. Butterworth's.

Friday, January 2, 2009

what Don brought home from the office today

One of the illustrators who came to the party yesterday presented Don with a velox of things he overheard. Artistic, isn't it? I think Wordle has a big future ahead of him.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

sometimes being married is a lonely job

We had a marvelous New Year's Open House today. Of course, I couldn't have done it without Carla who helped me create elegant appetizers like Hot Clam-Cheese Dip and Crabmeat Puffs. (She insisted on bringing a batch of her black-eyed peas which I disguised by dressing in pastry shells.) Sally and Bobby looked darling in their starched outfits. Don, unfortunately, missed the whole shindig! Just before things started, I sent him out to buy party picks. (I realized we needed them for Lilliput meatballs.) He didn't come back until the party was over! He says he had to drive all the way to Manhattan to find them. His being MIA didn't surprise people he works with, for whom coming to Ossining was a big adventure. His girl copywriter trained all the way from Brooklyn! Even the Switchboard ladies made an appearance. And freelancers. (Some people called them "freeloaders" which I thought wasn't nice.) One of them, Frank Adman, left him this note on a napkin. People in advertising are so creative!

happy 1963

Wonderful time at a black-tie party in town with Don last night. But oh, how we're paying for it this morning. Luckily, I always keep Bromo on hand. They also make Fizzies, the fruit drink I sometimes give Bobby and Sally for their health. It comes in little fruit tablets you put into water. Sweet, but no sugar. The magic of cyclamates! Happy New Year!