Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy Holidays from The Ranch

My posts have been slim through the holiday season but I have a whole file of crazy holiday stuff to show y'all after Christmas! - kind of the dredges from the yuletide cheer barrel, if you stay tuned.

We here at the ranch wish you lots of love and peace this holiday season. And joy...more joy than you can shake a stick at!

Until next time,
x's and o's (and ho ho ho!),

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Swell Life

Sweet Alexa over at The Swell Life invited me to do a guest spot this week. She does regular posts with some amazing crafting ideas. She's one of the most creative people that I know and I think that you'll love her if you don't already know and love her before today. I was honored to be invited to post in her world.

She even let me do a show-and-tell with some of my favorite Christmas Kitsch ornaments. Three words for you: Creepy. Pasta. Angel.

And more! Y'all come see: The Swell Life

Until next time,
x's and o's,

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Nancy Drew and Reindeer Games

Hey y'all! Someone please tell me where the month of November went? That sucker zoomed by and now it' guessed it, December! I am excited about doing lots of Christmas posts so I'd better get on it!

I wanted to share with you my pitiful clay Rudolph. I'm going to start at the end and work my way back. When I went home to visit my family in June, my Mom came into the kitchen with a little cardboard box full of paper towels and after reaching inside, handed me this guy:

I hadn't forgotten about him. Not at all. I'd just lost track of him and was amazed to see that he was still among us. I remembered it like it was yesterday - the day that I made this as a little kid. I was in grade school and wanted to make Santa an extra special gift to leave with the cookies and milk. I'm not sure if I was being extra nice because I was gunning for something special or if I was just a kid who loved Santa - probably both!

So, I got out my Play-Doh and made a tiny little version of Rudolph. See that pink nose? It used to be red. And those smooshy things on top of his head? You guessed it, antlers! On Christmas Eve, I left this little guy out for Santa and the next morning, just like I figured...he was gone! I remember imagining how tickled Santa must have been to get a bonus gift from my house. I figured he circled my name on his list for next year and made a note: "Kitten, Barbie Dream House AND speed skates". In like Flynn! Those other kids all over the world with their simple-minded cookies and milk - what fools!

Fast forward to many months later - or gosh, it could have been a couple of years - but I was still a kid. My parents had left the house on an errand and just like my brother and I would do, we played private investigators. Okay, that's just my way of saying that we rambled through my parents' dresser drawers. Yes, we were horrible. No wonder I thought I should bribe Santa with reindeer replicas! I probably should have slipped him a twenty as well. Anyway, when I was investigating in my Mom's bottom dresser drawer, I came across this box. Inside, there was a huge wad of paper towels wrapped around something. My mind raced: "It has to be something good! Bottom drawer! My Mom wasted paper towels! She hates it when we waste paper towels!" I looked around to make sure that my brother was rambling in his own territory and that I wouldn't have to share whatever this wondrous find would be. Why, it could be chocolate bars...or his adoption papers...who knew?

I slowly unwrapped the secret center as the paper towels unraveled to Rudolph! I sat back down on the floor and stared at it. Probably not even breathing with my Hubba Bubba hanging out of my mouth. It was like I'd just seen a ghost. What was Rudolph doing at MY HOUSE?! I immediately knew....yes, I knew. Oh no, not what you're thinking. You're thinking that being the bright kid that I was, I'd figured out the truth about Santa Claus, right? Oh no...I immediately knew that my Mom was a petty thief! She had coveted my reindeer so much that she stole it right out from under Santa's nose! Holy wow!

At first, I felt disappointment - that my Mom was a thief AND that Santa didn't get my amazing gift. Then after a moment, the wheels started turning (or maybe my mind went into self-preservation mode) and I felt the biggest sense of pride because I realized that my Mom only stole the Rudolph from Santa's cookie plate because it was SO FREAKING AWESOME! I was a real artist. Yes, sir. My brother may have been the one taking the fancy art classes but my Mom was defying the "Thou Shalt Not Steal" commandment just to own MY art....and we were Southern Baptists!

Making a mental note to pray for her salvation later, I quickly wrapped Rudolph back up in his paper towel shroud and tucked him back into the bottom drawer, sneaked out of my parents' bedroom and walked away with a big smile. I knew my Mom's secret AND I knew...just KNEW that with my amazing artistic skills, I was going to be somebody someday. I'd impressed my Mom and Moms...well, they've seen it all!

Now fast-forward back to my Mom's kitchen. In a way (and I am going to get syrupy), I was right because even over thirty years later, my Mom still had that little crumpled reindeer. I doubt we would be able to say that for Santa.

Until next time (did you know that thirty year old Play-Doh still smells the same as day old Play-Doh?)..
x's and o's,

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Contest!

Hey y'all! The lovely ladies over at No Pattern Required are having a really fun contest to win a grand prize package of 52 holiday cards from What's Buzzin'.

I won the contest last year and let me tell you, those gals know how to throw a contest. I absolutely loved my cards!

Why not go on over and submit an entry so that you can enter? I am pretty excited to see the submissions.

If you're not already a reader and follower, I'd also recommend checking them out. Their posts are fantastic and it's become a "must read" every day for me. Those ladies have heart and humor and really love and know a lot about the vintage loving lifestyle.

Until next time (It's a major award!!),
x's and o's,

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Kooky Spooks!

I think that it's a blast to learn about things that I never knew about. Especially things from my childhood. Even though I considered myself pretty up on all of the trends as a kid, some escaped my radar. Like Kooky Spooks.

One day, I was browsing my friend, Bryan's Flickr page and came across this photo:

SO many costumes to look at and talk about in this photo but my eyes were instantly drawn to the kid in the back row with the inflatable costume on his head.

Ha! That kid was Bryan! And he was wearing Kooky Spooks - not only a great tongue-twister but also a pretty great costume idea.

He gave me the scoop on Kooky Spooks and I became so intrigued. Off I went to do some research. I learned that Kooky Spooks costumes were in stores from 1979 through 1981 and that they reappeared in 1985-1991 in limited release. How I missed them, I'll never know! I know that I would have begged my parents to get one. They were made by the same company, Spearhead Industries that brought us the Dudley Easter egg kits (both designed by the late Bob Williams). I bet you'll remember those!:

Remember that crazy Dudley rabbit?

Now back to Kooky Spooks! Some of the characters were: Ishy Bat, Scardy Cat, Wonder Witch, Woblin Goblin, Wunkin Punkin, Spacey Casey, Bone Head, and Howly Owl. They came with the poncho, an inflatable head portion, makeup and reflective tape.

Here is a shot of some of the whole costume packages owned by Andrew Williams:

The graphics on the packages are so cool and I can see how they would have appealed to kids. I found some other folks online who also had their very own Kooky Spooks experiences as children and they were nice enough to let me share with you all.

First up, this shot from Grayfamilia:

Here is one from Belle Dee at Doo Wacka Doodles:

Here is one from Rotin:

Here is one from C. Biscuit:

Here is one from davef3138:

And here is one from nightowlghoul:

That's him as the little guy there, running from his cousin! I don't think that he was very appreciative of the Kooky Spooks yet.

Every single photo made me shriek with delight. I even watched an eBay auction for one but didn't pull the trigger to bid. Maybe next Halloween!

Do any of you guys and girls remember Kooky Spooks? I looked in vain to find a copy of the old commercial but didn't find it. I'd love to hear your memories - both Kooky Spooks and general Halloween related.

Thanks to everyone who let me share your pictures and memories. It was a lot of fun seeing them.

I wish all of you a great Halloween!

Until next time (don't forget your bicycle pumps if you're Kooky Spookin')
x's and o's,

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Trick or Treat!

Hello my little buckaroos! Well, we're rounding the corner to Halloween! One more day to go!

A while ago, I asked anyone who wanted to send in Halloween shots of yourself as kids to do so. Here is a reader round-up! Get along little boys and girls .. goblins and ghouls!

First up, we have this from Charm and Poise:

Is this outfit not intriguing? I remember when I first saw this photo on her Flickr page, people were comparing it to a Diane Arbus shot and I can totally see it. I asked her to tell us more about it:

The weirdest thing for me about this photo is that I don’t remember the costume at all. Of course, I was only 2 when I was snapped sitting on the coffee table before a big night out trick-or-treating but still! No memory of dressing up like, well, a Mystery Bride? Unbelievable! I’m extremely disappointed, then, by the way my brain works. I can say, though, this costume represents one of the rare times when my parents actually bought me a costume instead of insisting I wear one of my dance recital outfits. My childhood Halloweens are marked by a decided allegiance to vague entities like “Super Spangly Gypsy” or “Flapper in a Leotard,” thus this bride outfit was clearly special … or it might just represent a time before I was actually taking dance classes.

As I didn’t remember this costume, I asked my mom if she could tell me anything about it. Apparently I kicked up a real fuss about wearing pants under the bridal gown. Uh, yeah! What bride – already decked out in saddle shoes – wants to ruin her couture look with PANTS? Plus, there are two other slides of this bridal ensemble that proves I was also forced to put on a sweater over my fine gown, so really, resistance to pants seems like a simply sensible choice to retain some semblance of bride-like authenticity.

And the mask? Either my mother truly doesn’t remember or there has been some sort of family-wide decision not to reveal the reason behind it. My already shaky self-esteem might take a real hit, I suppose, if I discover that my family was embarrassed by the beveiled, besocked pint-sized bride traipsing around the neighborhood we’d just moved into. Or maybe I was simply a bride, stung by the pants, yellow socks, saddle shoes, and sweater I was bundled into, who insisted on a little anonymity while parading around the streets looking less bridal than I desired.

I suppose it’s fitting that the Mystery Bride remains cloaked in a veil of inscrutability. She is a Mystery Bride, right? If we all knew the secrets of the pants wearing, masked bride then her mysteriousness would be dimmed. And what fun would that be? Go, Mystery Bride! Go out into the streets with your little white sweater obscuring your finery! Let your sturdy shoes cover miles of suburban sidewalks! Your legs are protected from the crisp fall evening, and the candy is heavy in your plastic, orange Halloween sack (a new kind of bridal trousseau, perhaps?), Go forth into the streets, masked girl, and get yourself some treats!

Way to go, Charm and Poise! We would never want Mystery Bride's mysteriousness to be dimmed. She's right about that! However, I would really love to see the "Super Spangly Gypsy” and “Flapper in a Leotard" costumes. If you meet Sharon today, you'll see that she's a real fashion plate so thankfully, the Mystery Bride look didn't scar her too badly.

Next up, we have Karen!

Her description:

Look how I ROCKED the witch look, complete with the Lady Elaine cardigan sweater. And my mom drew a widow's peak on my forehead, which I think is a nice touch. Don't I look MEAN AND SCARY???

I love that my dad was so into Halloween he put out the skulls and the flashlights to make it SPOOKY. What you can't see or hear is the record player hidden behind the bushes playing Walt Disney's Chilling Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House. My dad would open the door and pretend he was Lurch saying, "You RAAAANG?" Utterly awesome.

She DID completely rock it - and I love that her Dad pretended to be Lurch! This shot is so cute to me because if you've ever met Karen, you can see her here but just a tinier version. With much cuter sweaters.

Next up, we have Mike!

Look at him rocking that little Bugs Bunny costume! Cute! Mike says that he has nothing to report on the costume since he was only two and can't recall anything about it - which I can completely understand. I can't remember things from when I was THIRTY two, so we'll let it slide this time, Mike! (And Charm and Poise, you might like seeing that little princess on the left there. She had to wear pants too! And a mask! You two could have been best buds!) And to bring this one full circle, he later on married a girl who LOVES rabbits.

Now it's Bryan's turn! Bryan is one of the most Halloween obsessed people that I know so I was glad to see that he has some photos of his own childhood Halloweens. Let's take a look and see what he says about these shots, shall we?

That's when we lived in Duluth, MN on a sprawling Military base with TONS of kids,back when the gang of kids took off for the night with no parents driving you from block to block or hiding behind bushes. That was my Little Rascal period where I had my whole gang of grade school pals and we were one unit, like a school of fish (I was 7 there).

You know what I first remember about that pic every time I see it? At that time in '75, Rhinestone Cowboy by Glenn Campbell was out and a HUGE hit and I can vividly remember us singing that song loudly as we cruised the hood trick or treating. The whole time.

The werewolf pic was my only departure from a vampire/Dracula (except for the dreadful year my Mom & sis made me and my nephew go as clown...ugh). That was 81, I was 12. Ive never found out what company made those kits,but they were foam pieces that stuck to your face with little doubles sided sticky foam pieces,and they came with face paint as well. I THINK it was the same people who are famous for the tubes of vampire blood, fake scars,etc. Anyone from the 70's/80's knows what I mean...

Bingo, here we go!

I actually won best costume for that in my 7th grade English class! My prize? Not a damn thing but the admiration of my classmates. I'd rather have the cash equivalent.

Wow, Bryan! I'm with you. What's the fun in winning a contest if there aren't any valuable prizes? I hope that this will make it up to you:

...or make you forgive me when I show this!

Oh my gosh..yep, it's that year that you talked about - the one that you describe as "The Halloween from Hell when my Mom made me go as a clown with my nephew Mike." For some reason, I just can't quit staring at that photo. I think it's partly the makeup. And that this photo is SO classic 70's Halloween. It's amazing that Bryan could be made to look so creepy as he was such a cute kid outside of the clown garb. Thanks for everything, Simplicity!

(Thanks to Charm and Poise for this scan!)

Next up is little Amber from 1979:

Amber adds: The Raggedy on the left is me (not quite five years old), in the middle is my only grandparent, my Dad's Mom, and the little cutie on the right is my cousin Katie.

Talk about cute! Look at those little pink cheeks! Gosh, you kids are SO taking me back to the 70's! Amber still looks just like this too - but with lots less blush.

Next up, we have one from Paper Dolls for Boys!

She reports that she is that cute hula girl in the back row. Look at her grass skirt and leopard print bikini top! And Amber, I think that I see another Raggedy Ann! I love looking at all of the other costumes in this shot too. And that floor model TV. Boy, kids wouldn't know what to think of that today, would they? Paper Dolls for Boys still does truly amazing Halloween costumes and decorations to this very day.

Now it's time to see fineskelington.

He's the little Woody Woodpecker there.

That's his Dad as the mummy reading the paper and his brother as the witch. SO classic! I don't think that I'd thought about Woody Woodpecker in years until I saw these photos. He says that he thought that the Woody costume was great and that he was a wee bit scared of that Mummy. I'd have to second both of those! And I absolutely love the ruffled details on his boots and around his neck. Woody grew up to be an amazing artist specializing in character and creature design. I wonder if he ever thinks back on these costumes?

Next and my bro!

The funny thing about this photo to me is how I look just like that bear on my costume!

Good grief!

My brother says:

I can only guess that with the clown costume, something happened that night that began my fear of clowns. Maybe I was running through the house and ran into a mirror, scaring myself. Or maybe I was out trick-or-treating, and ran into a group of clown-dressed children, who beat me down with their big shoes, and after they ransacked my sack, all I was left with was that awful candy corn.

Ha! He really is scared of clowns and not just saying that because clown fear is in vogue these days. We're both scared of clowns and I'm scared of monkeys. My Mom won't cop to anything horrible happening to us at a circus but sooner or later, we'll break down her defenses and get the true story. My parents better not have adopted us from a circus. Though, that would explain some things.

Hey..wait just a minute!


It's all starting to come together now. No wonder my brother loved makeup so much as a kid!

I'd better change the subject or he's going to drive to Tennessee and put me in a figure-four leg lock.

Ooh! That witch costume! I can still remember how great I thought that it was. I can guarantee you that at this age, my parents had to threaten us to get us to stand so close to each other.

My brother weighs in on Spider Man: I look awfully stiff, don't I? Why's my left hand clenched like that? It must be because I can't see out of that mask, and I'm afraid of walking into a wall. Either that, or I'm getting more and more panicked as I remember back on my clown beatdown from years before.

Ha! Can you tell that both myself and my brother always like to think that there is some back-story behind everything, filled with intrigue and drama? And is it just me or does he look like he's gone sleepy time back behind that mask?

Well kids, that's our walk down the lane of trick-or-treating past. Thanks to everyone who let me use your photos. I've sure enjoyed seeing you all as kids!

My buckaroos, I hope that each and every one of you have have a great Halloween! Here is a final flashback for y'all!

Hey, my brother's Spider Man costume was on there!

Until next time, (trick or treat...smell my feet...give me something good to eat..)
x's and o's,

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Spooky, Scary Story

Hello my little buckaroos! Well, two more days until Halloween! Eeeeeee! I'm so excited!

I received this great little story from a Ranch Dressing friend named Sara and I think that you'll find it pretty spoooky! This is from when she was in 2nd grade.

I bring to you "A Spooky, Scary Story". Enjoy!

In case you can't read the small print, here is a translation with her words unchanged because I can't even bear to change the cute little misspellings (and I know the adult Sara and her spelling is top-notch these days so not to worry! And besides...does anyone but me notice the badly placed comma in the original mimeograph sheet?):

When he walked in the house he saw spiders.
And then he walked a little more and saw a ghost.
And he walked up the stars and saw a brain
It was getting late and his mother told him to go to bed at 8:00
and when he went to bed something woke him up

IT was strang and horrible
It was.....goblins!
he was scared to dath
he ran so fast he got home in time

How cute is that?! It makes me sad even decades later that you can tell that she ran out of room on that page. I bet that little Sara would have just kept going with her story! Here is a note from her about the story:

I totally remember getting this paper too. It was one of those mimeograph copies, where the paper came to you kind of damp feeling and had this certain smell to it. Anyway, I remember trying to think REALLY hard about what would be insanely scary to me. My Mom and Step-Dad had just been watching some movie on TV (the name of which completely escapes me now, possibly The Beast with Five Fingers, because it would have been the late 1970s) where there was a hand crawling around on it's own killing people. I was completely freaked out by a hand living on it's own killing people. Hey, what's more freaky than body parts with a mind of their own? So, I guess I thought about all our body parts and the brain seemed like the most frightening of all - and into the story it went. I guess, ultimately though, I thought goblins were the most scary because that scared him to death! What 'goblins' meant to me as a 7 year old? Hmmm, huge monsters maybe??? Hard to say!

I'm not sure why I finished it 'He got home in time' because he was sleeping at the haunted house, but I guess that is a 7 year old for you. :D

The words are supposed to be - 'strange' --- 'horrible' ----'death'.
You can see I was not he best speller back then - but I did color the ghost within the lines!

Well, I love the whole thing and completely agree with the teacher's remarks of "Good!"...though I'd probably say "Great!" Thanks for sharing your story and your lovely ghost coloring with us, Sara! Thanks also for reminding us about those freshly printed mimeograph sheets. I can remember how all of the kids would put them up to their faces and huff the fumes when they were handed out!

And hey! I think that now would be a good time to see a bit about the film that inspired her story! (Sorry Sara....cover your eyes with your hand and just peek through the fingers now..)

My gosh, Sara is right! A hand living on it's own IS pretty darned freaky! Her story made me wonder what other kinds of body parts can terrorize folks. Here's what I found!

Okay, first off, another hand - but not just any's the hand of an astronaut destroyed in space!

Eek! And can we take a second to pay homage to quite possibly one of the best lines in a movie ever: "What does it mean I'm stacked?"

I think that I'll ask Mr. Kitsch that when he comes home from work today just to see the wheels turning in his head.

Next up...The Crawling Eye!

Oh my gosh! Those crazy, creepy disembodied eyes coming from the hills! (I might just fear them about as much as I do that show "The Hills".) Okay, buckaroos...I know what you must be thinking: "Please Miss Eartha! We'll never go to sleep tonight! And how will we ever look at our OWN body parts again??" ...but you must at least see this one:

Like those first few frames with that brain? That's just for you, Sara!
How about that last line dripping with sexism that is even scarier than disembodied parts creeping around terrorizing people?

Thanks to Miss Sara and to the film makers in the golden age of horror and sci-fi for making me love the "spooky" and "scary" even more than I did before.

Until next time (what's that behind you?!!)
x's and o's,

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I Wanna Rock And Roll All Night (And Party Every Day)

Hello my little buckaroos! How's tricks and treats? Today, I bring to you a tale fraught with 1970's little-kid adventure and candy. And it's a group effort - my entire family contributed to the story!

I don't think that a Halloween goes by that my brother and I don't mention "The Confederates Incident". I get the feeling that it's going to be one of the stories that is passed down for generations through my family. When my brother and I were kids in our small Southern town in the 70's, there was a motorcycle gang who called themselves "The Confederates" that lived down at the other end of our street. They were a pretty hard-scramble bunch and I can remember how folks in our area talked about them with anxiety in their voices. I remember seeing them flying down the street in packs with their long hair dusty and twisted in the wind and confederate flags on their ragged denim backs. We were growing up in the time of gritty biker movies filled with bloody brawls and scenes of psychedelic drug highs mocked up by wacky camera filters and bright, swirly lights. And in our minds, the Confederates must have just walked out of one of those movies.

Even though we were led to believe that the world was like Happy Days, this world was a lot more interesting. You wouldn't find a Potsie within a hundred miles of this bunch and I'm pretty sure that not even the Fonz would have looked like a rebel in their wake. In the car, whenever we'd pass their house on the way out of our neighborhood, my brother and I couldn't help but turn our heads all the way around to look at them gathered on the front porch of that rundown mill house (while hiding low behind the bench seat so that they wouldn't see us, hunt us down and make an example out of us). They were a mixture of scary and wow.

I've asked my brother to share "The Confederates Incident" with you here. There is even a KISS connection. This just can't get any more 70's if you ask me. Take it away, bro! :

"When I told my mom I wanted to be Ace Frehley for Halloween, I don't think she even blinked. I was a total KISS fanatic at the time, and my mom was probably happy that I didn't want to be Gene Simmons' demon character, Paul Stanley's loverman character, or Peter Criss's Ringo character. A space cadet probably seemed like a safe choice (this was before Ace's substance abuse problems came to light).


In retrospect, though, maybe I should have modeled myself after Gene, who was claiming to have slept with thousands of women. It might have kept my parents from secretly wondering if I was gay during all of those girlfriendless, D&D-playing years.


(Note from Sis: Um, no.)

NOTE: My parents get general rock 'n' roll props anyway for just letting me be as I dropped into the rabbit hole of rock 'n' roll obsession. When my sister tattled that my new Blondie record contained the phrase "pain in the ass," they let it go. And when I was a teenager, seemingly unaware that a closed bedroom door would not mask the constant f-bombs blaring from my Rage Against the Machine record, they apparently sighed and just told themselves that at least I wasn't getting high or arrested.

Note from Sis: My Mom just came up with this brilliant photo. Look at how obsessed he was! Not only the posters and records but he was also wearing a KISS t-shirt! Remember when I mentioned the Fonz earlier? I love that the Fonz and Barbarino were mixed in. I doubt that my brother even liked them. They were probably just a smokescreen so that my parents wouldn't fear that he had gone over to the dark side. Anyway...back to my brother's story! (I'm still interrupting him after all of these years.)

So anyway, my mom called my great aunt, who worked at JC Penney, and who had access to a lot of dumpster-bound fabrics and other material from the mannequin displays. A pair of tights, a roll of silver foil, some makeup, and who knows what other crafty materials later, and I was Ace Frehley.

And I've gotta say that mom did a stellar job. Even today, that costume holds up pretty well. My only regret is that this was around the time that KISS were toying with disco, so Ace's costume is a little more shimmery and dance-floor ready than in other years. And as any of my ex-flames will tell you, I'm not a dancer. In fact, I should be wrapped up in electrical cord the moment I walk into a place with a dance floor, just in case I get any wild ideas.

At any rate, I wore my costume to the school carnival and won a skateboard, which was pretty cool.

Note from sis: That's me as the gypsy looking like a lame fool next to Ace Frehley. We were about to go to said carnival with our best friends, Carla and Michael. Look at my brother's face! He looks like he's thinking,"I'm a can of interplanetary whoop-ass! Bring to me your Milky Way miniatures!" Now back to the story!

But the real treat came while we were trick or treating. Our street, way before it became an avenue of crack houses, had all sorts of people along its two- or three-mile length. There were the old folks running their appliance repair businesses out of their back yards, there was the old house full of colored glassware in every window, there was the white clapboard house with Bible verses written in red paint on all of the exterior walls, and there was the motorcycle gang's crash house.

The Confederates were about what you'd expect from a mid '70s motorcycle club: tattoos, denim jackets, long hair, long beards, bikes filling the front yard, "old ladies" lounging on the porch steps. My only experience with them had been once when some friends and I snuck under the fig tree at the edge of their back yard to watch them smoke and drink, and one of them yelled out, "I'm gonna get a rope and hang me some kids!" You should have seen us run. I'll bet that old fellow's still laughing about that one.

But on Halloween night, they were handing out candy just like everyone else, and to our young minds, any house handing out candy was worth the risk (well, except for that creepy house with the Bible verses on the walls -- we'd convinced ourselves that guy had a rattlesnake pit in his living room). One look at my Ace Frehley costume, and the bikers invited me into their house so they could show me off. I can't remember what my mom thought of this. The Confederates, for all their hell raisin', were part of the neighborhood, and never really caused any trouble. As far as she was concerned, she might have viewed it in the same way that she would have viewed my going into my grandmother's house. She might have made me go in because it would have been rude to refuse. But I like to think she was horrified, because that would make me a total mom-disobeyin' badass for going in there. Although, truth be told, I was terrified.

So while one of their "old ladies" came out on the front porch to smoke and keep my sister (who was dressed like an angel, no way she was getting in!) company, I went into the biker lair. I wish I could remember more than just general biker awesomeness. They were lounging around everywhere watching TV. There was lots of yelling and laughing and cursing. There was a dentist's chair right there in the middle of the living room! A dentist's chair! One day I'm going to get hypnotized and relive that memory, just so I can get the details back.

It also turns out that, unbeknownst to me until a week or so ago, a future girlfriend was probably in there as well. Older than me by a couple of years, she was apparently the Confederates' off-limits-to-advances mascot, and was probably there smoking and drinking and laughing at me as I geekily discussed who was my favorite member of KISS (obviously Ace) with the gang (they went with Gene; I'm pretty sure Paul and Peter got no votes). I'll bet if I saw her, I was scared to death of her.

After a few minutes, I went back out, much to my mother's relief, since I didn't appear to be drunk, high, tattooed, or sold into Satan's service. I'm pretty sure she didn't share that story very often. I'm not even sure if she told my dad."

So, kids...that is "The Confederates Story" as told by my brother. Thanks, bro!

I also remember that for some reason, I happened to switch out of the gypsy costume shown above and was now dressed like an angel for trick-or-treating. My costume was a little white choir robe and a wire coat hanger pinned on my head, twisted upwards and ending in a piece of cardboard spray-painted gold in the shape of a halo. No photos exist of that one. I am pretty sure it's because the entire universe knew that I was lame next to Ace there. Much like vampires, extreme lameness can not be photographed.

One of the things that makes this story amazing to my brother and me is that my parents were always very protective of us. We weren't allowed to run around the neighborhood and get into trouble (well, except for my brother who was apparently hiding under fig trees and risking his life while I was playing with Holly Hobbie paper dolls in my room). I remember that moment when our Mom told us that we could go up on the porch of the Confederates. I also remember my little kid heart both leaping and pausing all at once. We made our way up on the porch and before we knew it, the biker guys had grabbed my brother and pulled him inside where I heard the entire shack go into an uproar over his costume. One of the biker ladies came out and I remember like it was yesterday...She took a long puff on her cigarette, blew the smoke into my face (hey, it was the 70's) and said, "Look y'all! She's a little angel!" before erupting into a gigantic cackle and going back inside of the house for her brush with trick-or-treating rock and roll greatness.

Sooner or later, my brother emerged from the house. I SO wish that I could remember the look on his face. I imagine that he came out of the house looking smug with a face flush with adrenaline - and a full beard from being enveloped into such an adult world so abruptly.

Yesterday, I asked my Mom for her side of the story. Here is what she had to say:

"Aunt Ruth was definitely a big part of that outfit, we told her what we were doing and her mind went in to overdrive. And there was no way she could imagine who KISS was. Surely we had a picture of some type to show her and we sat down and started figuring what we needed to make an outfit. Thankfully she had access to odds and ends from Penney's. So I did the best I could to pull all those pieces together with glue, staples. It did take quite a while. Turned out pretty neat I think. It did sparkle. We spray painted the boots silver and dad and I painted his face.

I do remember the bikers' house, the people saw you guys and wanted everyone inside to see Andy so away they took him, I was outside on the porch with you.. I was definitely concerned. I remember us standing there and this guy was eating Oreos and asked did you want some for your treat or treat and we told him, 'No thanks'.

And you know I don't think we even talked about even being there or you guys going in and probably never told Dad. It happened, we left and went on our way. I never knew there was a dentist chair, or that Andy was scared. Yes, what did happen to my motherly instinct?

Thanks Mom! So, maybe it was a momentary lapse of mother-henning on her part or maybe she just felt edgy that night - either way, I love that she let us go. It has made for one of our favorite stories of childhood ever. However, I can't imagine how hard she must have had to pull on me to keep me from taking those Oreos. Scary biker guy or not - hello, Oreos!

Oh wait! This just in from my Mom!: "I remember a house with a screen porch, before we got to that one. We walked into the porch and you said an old person lived there. I asked how you knew and you said it smelled like it."

Gosh, I was such an insensitive child!

And this: "When Andy was talking about his liking KISS I was trying to remember the little boy that pretty much I think introduced him to KISS. He was small with blond hair. But after a while his mom decided KISS was apparently close to the devil and she made her son get rid of all his KISS stuff and told me I should too. I told her it would pass and left Andy alone with it . I still have Andy's KISS characters in the closet."

My Mom is being nice. They're "characters" are actually dolls but she won't say so as she wants my brother to look like a tough guy. Remember these?

"KISS: That's the name! KISS: They may look insane! KISS: If rock's your game!" - What a jingle! Look at Gene's tongue! And Ace's Farrah Fawcett hairdo!

My Barbie and Cher dolls used to date those rock and roll legends. Ken seriously took a back seat to these bad boys!

To make this a true family affair, I'll add this quote from my Dad:

"I never thought KISS was satanic but I remember telling Andy that I thought they were just making up for their lack of talent with costumes and showmanship. Pretty sure y'all never told me about the trick or treating thing."

Ooh! Family secrets! So, y'all...that is "The Confederates Incident". I can't wait to see how the story evolves through the decades. I'll close with another photo that I've unearthed of my brother. Here he is rocking his bad boy side at a family card party:

And this great quote that my brother and I still repeat four years after it was made on Flickr:

"The Gods of metal totally had your mom's back." - Elmer Presslee

They sure did, Elmer. They sure did.

Until next time (get up - everybody's gonna move their feet...get down - everybody's gonna leave your seat),
x's and o's,

Friday, October 1, 2010

Sweet, Sweet October

Hello my little buckaroos! Today there is a lot of excitement around the ranch. Why? Because it's October 1st! We love Halloween around here and today, I get to decorate to my heart's content with pumpkins and ghoulies and goblins! I can't wait. I also can't wait to get back into Ranch Dressing full swing. I've been away for a bit concentrating on other things but am now looking forward to spending more time here.

I thought that we might kick off the Halloween season with a photo that I found in Mr. Kitsch's family album. That's right - straight out of 1975!

Hot dog! Can't you just smell those old plastic costumes? Am I the only one old enough to remember.. or to still have scars on my tongue from gasping for air through the tiny but dangerously sharp mouths on those masks?

Throughout the month of October, I'd love to showcase some of my own little kid Halloween pictures and some of yours too! If you have one that you'd like to share, please send it to me through the "Contact Me" link on the side of my page. Make sure to send the largest, most high-resolution photo that you can and to tell me a little about it. And let me know what name you want me to use - i.e. your real name or a screen name.

And even if you don't have a photo that you want to send in, I'd love to hear about your favorite costumes or Halloween memories from childhood. Thanks y'all!

Until next time....Boo!
x's and o's,

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

We Have A Winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered the drawing! We have a winner and it is....

Phoebe of the Sea! Congratulations, you! Please send me your contact info and I'll get your prize package out in the mail to you.

Until next time,
x's and o's,

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Once Upon A Honeymoon

Here is a little film put out in 1956 (the same year that our ranch was built!) made by the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (yep...AT&T ) to promote color telephones as a decorator accessory in the home. If only the results of wishing were as instantaneous as they are in this film!

Yeah, that musical number/ dream sequence pretty much takes me to my happy place.

And speaking of happy places, make me as happy as can be and don't miss out on the chance to enter our drawing. Just visit my previous post to enter. And remember the contest ends on Wednesday...

Thanks y'all!

Until next time....modern colored phones in every room! what are we waiting for?...
x's and o's,

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Contest Time!

Hey y'all! Little ole Ranch Dressing has been up for two months now and I'm sure having lots of fun. I hope that you are too! I appreciate you all for stopping by from time to time and seeing what we're up to here on the ranch. In appreciation (and because I just freakin' love contests), I've put together a bunch of goodies for a drawing. And here they are!

(Please pardon the blurry photo. We haven't had sun in days and well, Uncle!)

The prizes include:

1. "Bicycling Bears Juggling Pie" - an art piece by our feature artist from my last post, Agnes Barton-Sabo. It's a really cool piece made up of one of Agnes' original ink drawings that was digitally colored and then added to a background made of handwritten recipe pages that are over eighty years old. It's a really beautiful mixture. I love how you can faintly see the recipe written there.

2. A pair of vintage glass, polka dotted salt and pepper shakers

3. Three handmade trivets. One looks like a little striped shirt!

4. A beautiful linen dishtowel with a really jazzy fruit print

5. A stack of vintage recipe cards

6. A large piece of cotton fabric in vibrant colors and a great, poppy design

7. Green gingham apron with sweet details and a nice big pocket

8. A pack of Vogart textile iron-ons in a great flower motif

9. A Miller Studio Chalkware smiling apple

10. A vintage Avon door hang tag

11. A surprise made by me! (because I love surprises as much as I love contests)

How do you enter? Just leave a comment on this post. And note: If your comment doesn't lead back to a way to contact you, please leave your e-mail address in the comment so that I can find you if you win! If your comment shows up as "anonymous" with no way to find you....sad city, kids!

The contest will go until noon (central time) on Wednesday, September 15th and is open to everyone be you local or international. All names will be put into a hat and the winner will be drawn. I love that part too!

Until next time...psst! pass the word! :)

x's and o's,

UPDATE: The drawing is now complete and the winner will be announced soon. Thanks to everyone who entered! :)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Meet and Greet

Hello my little buckaroos! I'm really excited about today's post. A huge part of life here at the ranch is about being inspired - by everyday things as well as by other folks. I want to share those inspirations with you and learn about yours as well. Recently, a truly fun and inspirational artist came onto my radar and well, I'd like to introduce you all to her. Meet Agnes Barton-Sabo!

(We'll all pretend that she's here and shout with glee, "Hi Agnes!")

Great job, buckaroos!

Okay first, the back story. My friend, Adrienne had a birthday party and when I saw a photo of her cake made by Agnes, I flipped. I take that back. I double back-handspring flipped. Her party was held on the same day as the premiere of this season's "Mad Men" and Agnes was given creative license to do a theme cake....and will you take a look ?

Hot dog! When is the last time that you saw such epic action on a birthday cake? If you're not a fan of the show, the cake is depicting a memorable scene where a wild party at the agency ends in disaster. Well, see for yourself here (warning: massive amounts of stage blood):

So, as you can see...the cake is perfection! After thinking, "Yum! Cake!" my next thought was, "who is the mad genius behind this freakin' awesome cake?" I soon learned that it was Agnes and I set off to learn more about her. First off, I was pleased to learn that not only is she a fantastic cake artist but she is also an amazing visual artist who does printmaking, drawing and mixed media.

I'll show you some samples of her work shortly but I think that this might be a great time for us to watch a little movie starring Agnes that was made to showcase her talents and her Etsy shop "Betty Turbo". Can someone pull down the blinds for Miss Eartha? Thank you! Now....there...very good. Eyes ahead! Buckaroos, meet Agnes!

Awesome and inspiring, right?

So I shot off a note to Agnes and requested an interview. That's right! Our first interview ever at Ranch Dressing! Thankfully, she obliged. Here's our conversation.

How did you get started baking and decorating cakes? Did your Mom make magical cakes when you were a kid?

Both my parents are artists, and they always made me really fun and creative birthday cakes. I have a favorite polaroid of myself sitting on the counter, covered in flour, licking the cake batter off the beaters while my mom was making a cake. Yep, plenty of inspiration in my youth. My dad also created a lot of food-oriented art, and art-oriented food, so there was that angle as well. I started actually making cakes as a hobby in high school, just for my friends.

If you could make any themed cake with no regard to cost or difficulty, what kind of cake would you make?

Hmmm! I would love to do something uber-geeky, like make a 7-tiered cake where each tier represents an entire season of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, or something like that. Anything slightly weird, especially if it's pop-culture oriented, really gets me going.

Have you ever had any crazy cake catastrophes?

There have been cakes that I considered a catastrophe, because of my obsessive perfectionist nature, but the good thing about really weird, specific cakes, is the thought counts for SO MUCH that people are usually willing to overlook some messiness. The "D*ck in a Box" cake I made for my friend's bachelorette party got way too warm and shiny and I was losing my mind with frustration, but the intended recipient could tell which shiny blob of smeared icing was supposed to be Justin Timberlake, so, mission accomplished. Haven't had any real hardcore cake drama.

What was the most interesting or strangest cake that you’ve ever made?

Well, anytime someone just lets me go crazy is my new best-cake-ever. I was really proud of the giant sushi rolls for the level of realism that was accomplished. Probably the highest on the interesting AND strange scale was the cake and accompanying cupcakes I made for Eric Powell for the anniversary party for his comic book, The Goon. I had made him a birthday cake before, so he just let me do whatever I wanted, and I created a big insane tentacled monster and covered it in marzipan eyeballs... It was so creepy that I insisted he documented the eating and destruction of it so I could be sure it was dead and wouldn't come back to haunt me.

If you're just hanging out at the house with some baking time, what do you bake for yourself?

I don't really like cake at all! I love making fruit pies and cobblers and my all-time favorite pie is RHUBARB! And I love, love, love making my own ice cream as well but that's not really baking :) I like making things from scratch that take a ridiculously long time and lots of elbow grease, like puff pastry or french macaroons. It's very satisfying to eat things that take so much work.

I think I was told that you do your cake making in a store? Or do you do cakes on the side as well? If someone in our area wanted you to make an amazing cake for them, how would they contact you?

At present time, the only way to legally obtain a cake made by myself in a licensed kitchen is through the Whole Foods Market in Green Hills. For flavors and creative wonders outside that range, be my friend and invite me to your party. Or be a really cool band that I want to impress.

Okay, kids...Grab a glass of milk and let's take a look at some more of her delicious creations:

See what I'm talking about? That girl can do up some baked goods! I'm kind of TOO obsessed with that big fish one. Okay, and the tacos one....and the skeleton in the coffin.... But wait a minute. Look at this one!

You KNOW that we here at the ranch are head over spurs about that one!

Now let's learn about a few of her other talents:

What printing methods do you use?

I do block printing from linoleum and wood cuts, a little bit of screenprinting, and since I hoard my vintage ephemera and sometimes can't bear to part with it, I do a lot of digital collaging that I make archival inkjet prints from.

Do You Speak Cupcake?

xander and betty turbo 4ever

What got you interested in printmaking?

My mother was a printmaker before I was born, so I'm sure some of that interest was inherited. I had a Japanese Gocco printer in high school that I loved making cards and wannabe Andy Warhol portraits of my friends with. I took one printmaking class in college and quit because my studio classmates were SLOBS. But the really whammy came when I moved to Nashville in 2004 on a totally random suggestion and got a job at Hatch Show Print. Agnes + Letterpress Printing = True Love 4 EVER.

Your classic wrestler prints are awesome. Tell me more! (totally vague question but I grew up watching these guys “wrassle” and it tickles me to no end to see them on your prints!)

The inspiration for this series came when one of my really good friends wanted a custom work of art to give her man for Christmas. The only suggestions she gave me were that he really likes giant squids and Ric Flair. I was clueless about wrestling but my husband is an EXPERT and schooled me properly. I was already kind of in the habit of adding cakes or cupcakes into scenes where they didn't belong, so this was just a new topic, with plenty of wacky visual inspiration, that I learned about and tried to put my own spin on. I have done four pieces in this series so far and I am trying to figure out who's next. I am REALLY into wrestling now, let me tell you. I read Mick Foley's autobiography on a recent trip and wanted to hug every crazy snaggletoothed gnarly dude in the airport. I appreciate wrestling for the unique action poses I get to draw, the work that they put into creating their character, and the bitchin footwear, but I am also always drawn to activities that are historically considered "manly" or "womanly" and the intersection or separation of the two...

Ric Flair battles a giant squid for the last piece of cake

Jake the Snake Roberts contemplates other gimmicks that rhyme with Jake

With the print making and cake decorating, you must stay pretty busy. If you had time for one other career path (mild or wild), what would it be?

There are many creative activities I have tried out that I mostly abandoned due to the endless hours of time they consumed. Ceramics, musical theatre, journalism... Really, I think if "art" can be it for me, then I just have to have become a giant personality to the point where I can make a sculpture, teach a workshop, publish a magazine, bake a cake, do a dance, and it all falls under the umbrella of My Artwork. I would be a sad and boring human being if I wasn't an artist.

What other things get your heart palpitating?

Snow, animals, food with faces, books, sushi, tattoos, old photographs of strangers, bicycles, toast, typewriters, popsicles, all-night diners... Is this starting to sound like a personal ad?

twinpop halloween card

you're the BOMB folding card

Who inspires you?

My ridiculously awesome family! My great-grandmother Agnes, who I was named after, was an illustrator and decorator in the 30s - I love to imagine what I've inherited from her. My grandmother Betty worked in a commercial kitchen, I like to think she keeps me company when I'm up to my elbows in giant mixing bowls of frosting. My 11-year old brother, who sees a totally different world than I do and yet still has a solid appreciation of a good scone or a rockin dance party. My husband is constant inspiration - he is an expert on so many things that I don't know about, he's always giving me great ideas. In the outside world, heartfelt rock & roll always does it for me. Andrew WK = Great motivational speaker. Bruce Springsteen as well.

I saw in the Etsy video that you said that you’ve always received a lot of encouragement from family and friends and that you’re happy to get to do what you love. Any advice for those who aren’t in that situation but would really like to find and do what they love?

The best advice I can give is BE YOURSELF. Figure out what feels satisfying and awesome to you, and tell the world. Express yourself, and when you show what you're passionate about, you will attract like-minded people and supporters. If you don't know what you love, try everything! I feel that people working in any type of creative field absolutely have to be prolific - so make things all the time! Make SOMETHING and even if it's total crap or just for practice, the activity of creating might inspire you to make something else.

What’s your stance on kitsch? (I know, buckaroos....but I HAD to ask!)

Oh, there's a place for everything. In the indie art & craft world you are sometimes hard-pressed to find something not swaddled in five layers of irony. Highbrow? Lowbrow? Kitschy? Postmodern? Serious? Sentimental? I'm interested in all artifacts of this world, from my time, or another. I will distribute equal admiration to the contents of an art museum and the contents of your grandma's kitchen. I ask only, is it awesome?

kitchen warrior

" I will distribute equal admiration to the contents of an art museum and the contents of your grandma's kitchen. I ask only, is it awesome?"

Can I tell y'all how much I wish that I had said that? Awesome quote and words to live by, I'll say. I also love Agnes' advice on being ourselves. You know, if we're true to ourselves and what we truly believe in and love, it's doubtful that we'll regret the path that we have taken. And THAT is inspirational.

So, kids....I hope that you've enjoyed your visit with Agnes. If you're in Nashville and want a fantastical cake, DO look her up. And if you want to purchase some of her killer cool prints and cards, here is the link to her Etsy shop. Please stop by and see her. You'll be glad that you did!

Betty Turbo

She's got a huge selection and I think that you'll love them all! And let me add that the titles and descriptions of her pieces are the best. She's got moxie, that kid.

And stay tuned because I have snagged one of her pieces for a special Ranch Dressing drawing coming up this week! Stand by for details on how to enter..

Until next time,
x's and o's,