Saturday, December 7, 2019

Nieman Marcus Fantasy Gifts of the 1980's

Moving along with the fantasy gifts of NM. As in years earlier, they did not disappoint in their offerings.

They started the decade off in 1980 with "His and Her's Ostriches." Nothing quite says I love you.

1983 brought the opportunity for " His And Hers Shar-Pei puppies" at, $2,000 each. Before then, few people in the USA even knew what a Sha-Pei was. Suddenly folks were scrambling to find ones to fill a last minute addition to Christmas lists - albeit less that 2K each.

In 1984 it was  "His & Her's cow desks, $65,000". I found this to be one of their weirder gifts. But, hey, some people have more money than taste. This was marketed as a way for someone to imortalize "their favorite cow or horse, which would be turned into a drop-leaf desk." Seriously?

In 1989 they were back to the over-the-top offerings one would expect to be on the list. For a mere $150,000 one could purchase a Russian lynx fur coat. This is where the top 1% is separated from the rest of us. For most of America this would be the choice between a decent house and a coat.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Christmas Gifts of the 1980s

Hard to believe 1980 was almost 40 years ago. God, I feel old. 

Speaking of old, I could not remember the popular gifts for that decade, so I did some research. Survey ( MeTv) and says:

1980: Rubik's Cube - that is still around and I still cannot solve

1981: Masters of the Universe

1982: Glo Worm.

4. 1983: Cabbage Patch Kids. - those not so pretty stuffed dolls that could be adopted from a "Hospital" in Georgia.

1984: Transformers - that made a comeback in the past 10 years or so.

1985: Teddy Ruxpin - that obnoxious talking teddy bear.

Teddy Ruxpin

1986: Nintendo Entertainment System - the birth of the true video game generation.

1987: Popples - something I truly do not remember.

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1988 - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - still around. Unfortunately, kids with these toys had issues when they had to study famous artists of all time. 

1989 -  The Game Boy - now Nintendo was portable.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Norman Rockwell's Christmas

Norman Rockwell chronicled basic American life like no other. Like his Thanksgiving Table piece, his Christmas pictures show life as it really was.

"Merry Christmas, Grandma!’

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                                                  "Christmas Surprise" 1954

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                                        "Jolly Postman" 

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An exhausted Santa
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                                                  Too tired to stay up

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                                                     "The Discovery " (1956)
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"Oh Boy! Its Pop with a new Plymounth"

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He was known to use friends and neighbors from his little town of Arlington, Vermont,  as models for his pictures.  There are even copies of photos of the scenes he depicted in his archives.

He once said, 

"Without thinking too much about it in specific terms, I was showing the America I knew and observed to others who might not have noticed."

Monday, December 2, 2019

Gingerbread - Cakes, Cookies, and Cures

Run, run, fast as you can,
You can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread man!

~ The Gingerbread Man, a fairy tale
Even though The Gingerbread Man in this fairytale met an untimely and gruesome end, children for generations have grown up knowing this rhyme. Making and decorating Gingerbread Men has been a family tradition for many many years. Ginger is one of the flavors most associated with holidays. Baking gingerbread cookies and decorating gingerbread houses have long been holiday traditions in many American households. The earliest Christmas trees were decorated with pieces of gingerbread.

There were Medieval festivals known as ‘Gingerbread Fairs’ where Gingerbread cookies were sold in different shapes and sizes. The term ‘gingerbread’ in those times meant ‘Preserved Ginger’. The Gingerbread House dates back to Germany in the 1500s. In the 1600’s Nuremberg, Germany became known as the "gingerbread capital of the world". In the early 1700’s the brothers Grimm wrote Hansel and Gretal. It is thought that the house made of sweets the children found in the forest was based on a decorated Gingerbread House. Even Shakespeare referred to the treats in his play "Love's Labor's Lost"And I had but one penny in the world, thou should'st have it to buy gingerbread.

As early as the Middle Ages, Gingerbread cookies were being made in different shapes. 

This spice has a long and interesting history. Believe it or not, Elizabeth I is credited for the first, ‘Gingerbread Man’. She served some ginger cookies to court visitors designed in their likeness. Needless to say they were most impressed. Unlike the royal icing, red hots, and other candies used today to decorate gingerbread men, Queen Elizabeth decorated her cookies with gold gilt. 

The spice ginger originated in China. It was used to flavor foods, to bake in cakes and cookies, and to settle upset stomachs. Even today mothers will offer you ginger ale for any gastric distress you may be suffering. (Henry III took ginger hoping it would prevent the plaque.) The Crusaders brought it to Europe in the 11th century when trade started with the orient. 

Ginger was brought to America by the early colonists. There were recipes for the harder cookies ‘Ginger Snaps’ as well softer ginger bread cookies and gingerbread cakes. There are stories such as George Washington’s mother serving her famous gingerbread to the Marquis de Lafayette. 

Then there is the term ‘Gingerbread Architecture’. Research is not clear as to how gingerbread relates to this style architectural trim. Often Gingerbread and Victorian are interchangeable terms in construction and design. There is the story that it goes back to the tradition of nuns in Europe baking ginger biscuits (to aid in digestion) were decorated to be used as window decorations. Personally, I think this is a stretch.