Pearls of Wisdom, Spots of Confusion

Meet Hil the Thrill!

It’s time for another interview with one of the Women That I Admire!  I’m so pleased to introduce you to Hil (of Hil the Thrill), aka the Lucy to my Ethel.  Hil and I have been friends for …gosh…10 years now?!  We initially connected over shared experiences and realized that we were in kindred spirits in so many ways.  If I could build a tiny village for all of the people I love to live near me, Hil would certainly be across the street.

What I admire about Hil is her strength, her humor, and her dedication to her family.  She has overcame so many hardships to raise her two beautiful daughters into fun, beautiful, free spirits. Hil herself is a free spirit, an artist and a writer with a HUGE heart.  Did I mention that she is an artist?  She paints whimsical nature inspired paintings that perfectly capture her spirit.  Okay, okay, on to the interview:

NAME  Hil Eldridge “Hil The Thrill”

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AGE, HOMETOWN, OCCUPATION

35, Rednecktopia, Pa., Artist/Farmer’s Wife

ONE WEIRD FACT ABOUT YOU

I paint with both hands at the same time. The paint is in my left hand and a wet brush is in my right.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE VINTAGE STYLE

Edwardian. I’m dying for turbans with feathers to come back. I’m not kidding.

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WHO WAS YOUR FIST STYLE ICON?

Punky Brewster *

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WHO IS YOUR CURRENT INSPIRATION?

So many! Probably the biggest inspiration to me currently is the environment around me in rural Pennsylvania. I use my iPhone to take pictures every day, and this trains me to constantly be in the lookout for the beauty around me.

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HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONAL STYLE?

Post industrial utilitarian
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WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU LOVE ABOUT YOURSELF?

I love my hands because they can do so many things!

DO YOU HAVE A SELF-LOVE MOMENT TO SHARE WITH US?

I used to entirely live my life based on “what needed to be done,” regardless of how I felt, or what I liked, or needed. In this manner, I built for myself a “suitable” life, but not a juicy, joyful, passionate one. I became extremely ill with an autoimmune disease that took years to diagnose. I was depressed, in pain, and could not work. I had my affairs in order and I was ready to die.

At age 35, I began taking myself to the lake, and putting my ill, plus-sized body into a bikini for the first time in my life. I wasn’t there for an outing with the kids, or to accomplish anything for any one. I was really just there for my own enjoyment, my own oneness, my own quiet. I found myself coming back day after day, alone, while my daughters were at school. So decadent! And also, so free! This became a pivotal moment in changing my worldview.

I learned that “juiciness” is necessary for my health. You can eat right, exercise, have a full career, a balanced family life, and an organized sock drawer, but that electricity, that beauty, that connection to nature and the universe is BASIC. Without it, I was literally dying. The autoimmune disease was only the modality of my near death. The lack of “juiciness” was the reason for my near death.
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WHAT IS THE ONE THING THAT YOU REALLY SPLURGE ON FOR YOURSELF?

Time. I give myself and others time. When my kids were small, I went through a horrific marriage and divorce. I decided that I would be rich in time, for my kids and for myself. I work hard to make more time.

i just LOVE this answer and this is part of why I admire Hil so much! For me, when I think of splurging, I immediately list the items I purchase for myself, but she just doesn’t think in those terms.

WHAT IS ONE WAY THAT YOU WORK TO IMPROVE YOURSELF?

I discovered, through meditation at the age of fifteen, that the three pillars of life for me would be Art, Nature, and Spirituality. When I want to improve myself, I go towards one of those three things. I also love a good “Infinite Waters” YouTube video, where he says,”Breathe in that good ass PRANA!!!!”

HOW DO YOU PRACTICE DAILY SELF-CARE?

Coconut oil, Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar, Tumeric Tea, Kombacha, and throwing the ball for my dogs.
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Paintings By Hil Eldridge
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Find out more about Hil at:
Hilthethrill.wordpress.com
Or Instagram Hilthethrill
Or Facebook Hil Eldridge
Ask about custom painted canvas shoes!

Baby, It’s COLD Outside!

We didn’t get hit with the snow as bad as the east coast did – as a matter of fact, we’ve had very little cold and snow this winter.  It’s been more like early spring all season for us. So weird!!  We finally got a few inches of snow and ice this week and it’s cold enough for me to pull out some of my favorite cold weather gear.  I have a small collection of vintage hats that I keep adding to every year that I will be offering in the shop soon.  These fur hats are SO stinking cute!

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I NEVER think the weather is too cold for a dress or a skirt.  I’m the queen of layering.  It’s actually far warmer than jeans once I get my fleece lined tights, thigh high wool stockings, dress, and cardigans all piled on!  However, from time to time I still like to throw on some slacks on a cold day for coziness sake.  I wanted to share this outfit to show how you can incorporate pieces from the 40’s and 50’s for a cute, casual look!

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These are slacks from the 1940’s that, frankly, looked unappealing on a hanger.  I’ve been on the lookout for some vintage slacks to style Katharine Hepburn style.  I absolutely adore Katharine’s style but I don’t have the right body type to really emulate her.  She was tall and lanky and looked amazing in slacks.  I’m…not tall and lanky haha.  I’m the complete opposite.  I do still like the style though, it’s just a matter of finding items that work with my body type as well.

She was a fierce style maven!

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A Katharine Hepburn inspired outfit can be a great choice if you have to wear business or business casual clothing to work.  It can also be a cute date night outfit!  Pair a button down blouse with a pair of high waisted slacks.  You can wear loafers or slip on shoes, you don’t have to wear with heels as I did.  Don’t have a tie neck or pussy bow blouse?  Tie a ribbon around your neck!  Super chic, easy to wear, and a great way to wear vintage on a daily basis!

I paired the slack and tie neck blouse with a dress coat that is from the early ’50’s and it was a pretty functional, lovely winter ensemble in my opinion.

 

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All of these lovelies will be added to the shop soon!

On Self-Improvement

Every year or so I get on a kick of some sort and I get all gung ho about it and I post about it all over social media and buy a ton of books or supplies to assist with the kick and ….. I would get sort of embarrassed when my ardor for that particular pursuit cooled. I would feel like I failed somewhat because I didn’t achieve whatever absurd goal I had set for myself. I would hesitate to share my next BIG IDEA with the world because I didn’t want people to think “here goes Betty, again with the self-improvement that she’ll never follow through with”.

Here’s the thing about self-improvement: IT IS HARD. I mean, anyone could tell you that. And that’s why many people don’t even really try it. That’s why a few weeks ago when I embarked on my newish self-improvement campaign, I didn’t really want to talk about it to people, I felt silly, I felt thwarted by my own attention span before I had even begun!

However, recently I realized something extremely important about my little crusades of self-bettering: I succeed even when I think I’m failing.

Let me elucidate so you don’t roll your eyes at my cheesiness and move on (as I would, before I decided to try to stop being such a negative nancy). If you take a look at Betty at 20 versus Betty at cusp-of-35, you’ll see an entirely different person. I think most people would say they’ve changed quite a bit in fifteen years. Many of the changes I’ve undergone took a ton of hard work. I was an angry teenager. I just was. There’s a laundry list of reasons that contributed to that anger; when you really break it down to the core root of the problem, it was because I was unhappy. Wildly, horribly, destructively unhappy. I’ve changed most of that thinking in the past 15 years. I didn’t merely wake one morning and decide that I was a better person. The changes were gradual and each victory hard won, even when I didn’t recognize that I had won at all. I’m not talking about only my mental state of being either – physically I’ve made many improvements.

For example, at 27 I would have told you that water tasted “weird”. I refused to ever drink it. I drank soda or, when I thought I was being healthier, juice all day long. Around 28, I decided I would start drinking 3 liters of water a day. For about two months, I did just that. I carried a giant water bottle with me everywhere and I was in the bathroom peeing every twenty minutes. Gradually, the water consumption tapered off and I forgot that I ever made the decision to drink that much of it. Did I fail? I thought I had. But wait! I drink water every day now. I drink water rather than soda or juice. I have a glass of water at my elbow at all times. Do I drink 3 liters? Nahhhhh. I don’t track how much I drink any longer. Yet, I’ve established a healthier habit and I do it without thinking about it! I call that a win, right?

Or how about when I decided I was going to EAT HEALTHY about five years ago? I ate fruits and veggies constantly. I purged all junk food from my house. I stopped eating out entirely. This lasted until my first McDonald’s fries craving and I gave up. Failure? Nope. Before that particular self-improvement stint, I had a twice a day fast food habit. I carried chocolate with me everywhere I went. I binge ate packages of chips. I didn’t know what a vegetable even was. Now, fast food is a rare treat. I eat veggies at every single meal. I LIKE them even. I’m not the healthiest eater that I know but I’m also not the unhealthiest. Another small victory over my own bad decision making!

Exercise? Remember that kick last year? Shh, stop laughing at me. I AM the couch potato. I flunked PE every year. I never wanted to exercise and I hated the thought of sweating. I spent about 4 months exercising religiously, didn’t think I felt or saw an improvement and quit. Fail? Nah. I do yoga nearly every day (even if it is just a super lazy stretching session) and the beagle and I walk at least a mile on cold or hot days and two to three miles on nice days. I’m no Olympic athlete, I’m also not the total and utter couch potato I once was.

Mental health wise? I saw a therapist for years upon years in my 20’s. Talk about an embarrassing thing to admit. I never wanted people to know about it, even when I was studying psychology myself and preaching the value of therapy in bettering your outlook on life. It felt like I was admitting that I was broken to say that I saw a therapist, that people would judge me for it. Hell, they DID judge me. I WAS sorta broken. I didn’t have the tools to glue myself together and become a whole person. I had not learned useful coping mechanisms for dealing with the world, people, failure, death, relationships, etc etc etc. All of the tools that you learn in childhood that help you to interact with and handle the world, I had not been taught. I had been taught that chaos is normal, acceptable, and all that there is in the world. I had been taught that I couldn’t trust anyone but myself. These are all unhealthy ways to interact with the world. So, when I was 20 and again at 24 and again at 28 and yes, again at 34, I saw a therapist. I talked about my fears. I learned coping mechanisms that are healthier. Sometimes, no matter how much you resist, you can’t fix everything by yourself and you have to rely on help from others.

Ya picking up what I’m putting down? My point is that I’ve never truly failed at any of these things. I’ve taken good healthy habits and incorporated them into my daily life, even when I didn’t realize I was doing so! One out of every five trick or habit that I’ve tried to teach myself actually sticks with me. I’ll never be that health food advocate who works out for hours every day and is an extrovert that loves and embraces socializing. Nope, not me. Maybe though, just maybe, I’ll be 1/5th of the way toward a healthier, happier me at the end of my current self-improvement kick. That’s not half bad.

I'm never giving up coffee, though.

Fresh baked bread is the best potpourri

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I have a confession to make: sometimes I like to bake bread merely for the way it makes the house smell.  Shameful, I know.  Sure, we all eat the bread and it’s delicious and worth it.  I don’t tell anyone I’m making it for the smell alone.  It’s our secret, don’t tell, okay?

I thought I’d share a few pictures of the mega adorable Jen in the Lemon Sorbet Dress that is available in the shop now, plus a bread recipe!  It’s a double whammy post.

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How ADORABLE is she in that dress?  Jen was sweet enough to come over and teach me how to bake bread a few weeks ago.  She ran the kitchen for many years at one of the most popular baked goods and coffee stops in our area, and you better believe I pounced on the opportunity to learn to bake from her!

She taught me a pretty easy No Knead Beer Bread Recipe that was delicious!!  This is not that recipe because I misplaced it.  This one isn’t bad either, though.  I like how easy it was to make.

No Knead Beer Bread Recipe

Ingredients
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup warm water (100 degrees F or 38 degrees C)
1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle beer

1 1/2 teaspoons fine salt
all-purpose flour for dusting
1 tablespoon cornmeal

Directions
1.  Stir together yeast, 1/2 cup flour and warm water in a large bowl. Cover and let sit in a warm spot for about 30 minutes.
2.  Stir beer, remaining flour and salt into the bowl. Mix until all the flour is incorporated and forms a thick sticky dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm spot for 2 hours, until doubled in size.
3.  Scrape all the dough from the bowl with a rubber spatula, and place on a well-floured surface. Generously flour the top of the dough and form into a loaf shape.
4.  Sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal. Transfer loaf to the baking sheet and sprinkle the top with flour. Cover loosely with a towel and let rise for 30-40 minutes.
5.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
6.  Place a small loaf pan of warm water on a lower rack to humidify the oven.
7.  Slash a long slit in the top of the loaf with a sharp knife or razor. Place the baking sheet on the rack above the pan of warm water in the oven. Bake for 35 minutes, until the loaf is golden brown.
8.  Transfer to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before slicing and serving.

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Enjoy!!

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Feminist Princesses

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I’ve been working on a blog post about great female superheroes to get your daughters started reading comic books.  I think comic books have evolved SO much in the past 25 years when I started reading them.  They are actually making a point of putting women in them that are strong and capable and intelligent – not just as love interests for the male superheroes.  It’s pretty great.  While googling “Gloria Steinem as a superhero” (because what feminist hasn’t googled that at least once, amiright?! (p.s. why hasn’t that been drawn yet? someone draw that please)) I discovered a great set of drawings of feminist women through the years AS DISNEY PRINCESSES.  This mashup makes me happy like whoa you would not believe.  I am printing them all and making them into paper dolls for my boyfriend’s three young daughters to play with.  I’m for real stoked about this!

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Found via the Atlantic.

Flower Child Power

The ’70’s are back in style and we couldn’t be happier about it!

The 1970’s have such good, down-to-earth vibe that pretty much anyone can pull it off. There’s no need to go full blown hippie either – a dress in a floaty material, a wide brimmed hat, or an accessory with some fringe can add a little boho touch without going overboard.

 

This fantastic semi-sheer floral full length Flower Child dress is available in the shop right now and it’s giving us all the feels!!

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Some suggestions for adding 70’s to your wardrobe:

  • Crochet pieces – a cute crochet tank top or sweater is a nice touch.
  • Plunging neckline
  • Suede suede suede – boots, coat, or dresses
  • Mini-skirts – show off them legs, baby
  • Layers and layers of patterns
  • Chunky, funky accessories

The 70’s were all about freedom of movement, owning your sexuality, and having fun!

Teddy Girl Style

I have long been obsessed with Teddy Girl style.   Teddy Girls emerged in the 1950’s as girl “gangs” in England.  For the first time, teenagers were developing their own sense of style instead of dressing like miniature adults.  Teddy boys and girls were a mix of punk, prep, and victorian with a twist.  The best part about their style was how effortless it was – the women took menswear pieces and added them to feminine items in their wardrobe to produce a completely unique aesthetic.

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Teddy Girl style is a great way to adopt a retro look without having to shop for a whole new wardrobe!

How to get the Teddy Girl look

  • Blouses.  You can get this style with any kind of blouse really – button down or plain.  BUT you don’t want too much pattern going on.  You’ll notice that most of their tops are very simple and sans pattern.
  • Men’s or boy’s crewneck sweater.  You don’t want it to be too baggy, so a boy’s size sweater is usually a good fit.
  • Blazers.  Teddy girl style is ALL ABOUT the blazers and jackets.  A blazer in any cut or style will work, but look for men’s, boy’s, or menswear inspired if you want to stay authentic.  You want the blazer to be a little longer.
  • Jeans, cuffed up several times.  “Boyfriend” cut jeans are perfect for this.
  • Plain flats or loafers.  Again, menswear inspired is great for this.
  • Teddy Girl style is ALL about the accessories.  A ribbon tied under your collar with a broach at your throat is a great touch.  Even better, knot a scarf at your throat!
  • Add other menswear accessories such as suspenders or a newsboy cap.

So, I put together my own version of a Teddy Girl look to show you how easy it can be.  The best and easiest day-to-day wear version is just a pair of high waisted jeans, a vintage blouse, suspenders, a scarf, and a blazer over it.

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As you can see, I kept it pretty simple: loafers, blazer, cuffed pants, vintage blouse.  I don’t think this is a look that would be hard to wear for people new to wearing vintage.

An alternative to cuffed jeans would be 1930’s newsboy style pants, shown below.  You definitely want to wear suspenders with this style of pants.  Not everyone feels comfortable wearing suspenders and that’s okay.  Just stick to jeans if that’s that case.

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You really can have a lot of fun with this look.  Try ties, bowties, cardigans, different types of trousers, loafers, slippers.  It really is a versatile look to copy and so much more forgiving than a pinup style.

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Teddy Girl Style Hair and Makeup

  • Keep it simple with your makeup.  A little eyeliner and mascara and red lipstick.  I will say that red lipstick was the look du jour in the 1950’s.  I opted for a color called “True Red” by Loreal.  You can wear a darker red or one with purple undertones.  Pick a color that works with your skin tone but stick with a red in one shade or another.  I wouldn’t wear red lipstick for YEARS because I didn’t think it looked good on me.  It’s all about finding the right shade.
  • Teddy Girl hair was messy and fucking gorgeous.  I love the curls and messy buns worn by the women in that era.  I did a sort of reverse pompadour with my hair.  I’ve mentioned before that I’m lazy lazy lazy about my hair, so for me to do a style it has to be easy and quick. AND NO teasing.  I just won’t tease my hair.  I skip that part of any hair instructions.  I started by checking out a few hair tutorials and this was the easiest and best one that I found:  a great tutorial on how to get teddy girl hair.  I didn’t follow instructions completely because, well I never do.  I simply flipped my hair upside down, gathered it, and twisted it up so that the ends were on the top of my head.  I stuck some bobby pins in randomly.  When it was sorta secure (I wanted it messy so I left it pretty loose), I curled just the ends of the hair that was at the top of my head and my bangs.  Most tutorials don’t even touch on what to do with bangs, so I’m assuming they weren’t common for that style.  I just threw a few hot curlers in my bangs while I was doing my makeup and then brushed them to the side.  A little bit of hairspray and I was done.  Seriously, super easy.  Anyone can achieve this look.

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As you can see, loose and messy are what I went for.  It was pretty lopsided and falling out everywhere. Perfect.  See, you too can do Teddy girl hair!teddy hair back

Ready to try Teddy girl style?  Check out the shop for great vintage items for emulating this look!

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Bad Housewife Chronicles #3

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Betty, the bad ’50’s housewife never minds hosting dinner for her mother-in-law.  

She always cooks a delicious meal and spends all day  making her mother-in-law’s favorite pie for dessert.  Betty never minds her criticism and knows that her mother-in-law has her husband’s happiness in her heart.

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The Boston Dream Pie Dress is available in the shop!