Secret to a Happy Marriage in the 50’s – The Mixmaster

All you needed in the fifties was The Mixmaster and all your marital problems go by the wayside. So it would seem. She lived happily ever after, because she had The Sunbeam Mixmaster. If only I’d known that!

I’ve been dwelling on Blog Stats this week. I’ve also looked at the “Freshly Pressed” blogs, which are picked by WordPress to appear on their home page. Once your blog is selected, it will receive greater amounts of traffic by virtue of it being there. To have this great honor bestowed upon my blog would be a gift from the BlogGod.

This week, one of the Freshly Pressed blogs was Life in the Boomer Lane, A Guide to Life After 50. It’s a very funny blog. Click here to view.

It listed the recommendations in the following categories from AARP and then added more:

  • What Not to Wear
  • Things Never to Do
  • Words to Ax
  • What to Do at Least Once

It is very funny, and very true. But it started me thinking about my Boomer life and, I think I might have been unloading the dishwasher when it occurred to me how very different kitchens are today, than they were in, say, 1956 when I was, well younger.

We had a typical kitchen back then, broken up by four doors and two windows.

The first wall had the two windows and there was a sink between them, one of those white things that hung on the wall with the plumbing showing underneath. The sink part always had one of those three-cornered garbage collector things sitting in the corner, and there was a drainboard next to it.

The second wall was without either doors or windows and along that wall were floor to ceiling cupboards.

The third wall was for the refrigerator. I guess back then, it was better than an “icebox” where you had to buy ice, but not much. Remember those tiny little freezers and how they got all coated up with that hard white ice stuff and you have to “defrost” it every week? And that always had to be scheduled before you went shopping for groceries.

And the fourth wall was for the stove, one of those monstrosities with the double ovens and that was all that fit on that wall.

Forget your stone countertops. As I remember it, there was only the Formica kitchen table to use as a work area.

And also forget small appliances. There was a toaster, a pancake griddle and The Sunbeam Mixmaster! Here it is, in all its high tech splendor.

And here it is again, but wait! How’d she get those cool green bowls? Our bowls were white. Everything was white in those days.

I loved the Mixmaster. Many cakes were beat up in that thing, and frosting, and cookie dough, with beaters to fight over to lick. That was the good part of food in the 1950’s. The desserts were great.

But the rest of the food wasn’t. An example of what wasn’t so great back then:

  • Pear salad – This was a summer substitute for a vegetable. It consisted of one half canned pear, sitting on one piece of iceberg lettuce, topped with a maraschino cherry. (Do you really want to think about maraschino cherries and how they get to be that color? I didn’t think so.)
  • Lime jello with shredded carrots – Whoever thought up this combination? Does anyone even eat jello anymore? Although you never really “ate” it, it was more like you sucked it into your esophagus. Sometimes it would have pineapple added. That was good. Sometimes it would have walnuts added. That was bad. Something about that crunch and slippery jello didn’t sit right with me. Sometimes it would have a dollop of mayonnaise on it. Blechh. And, we were one of those “Miracle Whip” families. That stuff is just gross.
  • Fruit cocktail – In a pinch, instead of the above two delicacies, this canned concoction was substituted. Do they still sell this? The stuff where every single fruit looks and tastes the same?
  • Sweet potatoes with marshmallows – This was a special treat, at Thanksgiving usually. Some sort of candied mushed up sweet potatoes, whipped up (in The Mixmaster) with butter and brown sugar and topped with those smaller sized marshmallows, the kind that got stale after twenty minutes. And sometimes, it would appear with those colored minis. What fun! Pink and blue and yellow things on top! But the color combination, the pastel with earthy orangey, was visually upsetting.
  • Chipped beef on toast – This is an abomination. A terrible thing to do to children. This is what you got when your parents were going out to dinner but still had to feed you.
  • Creamed chicken on biscuits – This was where a few cans of Campbell’s Cream of Chicken Soup mixed with milk are placed in the big yellow bowl (remember those nesting bowls, the largest was yellow, then green, then red, then blue but the last two might have been reversed). The biscuits were placed on top of the soup and baked in the oven. The biscuits were always soggy, because they sat in that soup too long.
  • Goulash – This was a combination of four things, hamburger, ½ teaspoon diced onions cut up until they liquefied, tomato sauce, elbow macaroni. There might have been a little salt and pepper in there too. Baked in the big yellow bowl.
  • Chef Boyardee Pizza – This was a pizza “kit”. It consisted of some flour stuff that was mixed with water and formed dough, which you pressed onto a cookie sheet. Pour the Chef’s pizza sauce on and top with the Chef’s parmesan cheese. Talk about a boring pizza. But back then it was delicious. We weren’t creative enough to imagine anything else on it.

There’s more, but these stand out in my memory. Got any cool fifties recipes to share?

Treadmill 101

I’ve started a cardio fitness program and have been using the treadmill nearly every day. I do this for 40 minutes, the first 5 is a warm up, 30 at top speed, and the last 5 a cool down. Treadmilling has never been my favorite activity but recently it has become a lot more enjoyable and I thought I’d share my thoughts. So today is one of those “and a little more” days, because this post has little to do with writing, except maybe practice in writing a hopefully educational post.

Never mind what I looked like before. This is what I look like now.

Isn’t that great? So short a time and what an improvement!

Don’t believe that? Well, okay.

The success one has at a treadmill cardio program is directly proportional to the quality of his or her diversion. Anyone who thinks they will keep up with it without benefit of 1) nice scenery, 2) television, or 3) music, is bound for failure. Two of these diversions are nice to have, although one will usually be enough and 2 and 3 are mutually exclusive. I do not have the benefit of nice scenery, and television doesn’t do it for me, so I am a #3 person.

As such, I’ve spent a lot of time perfecting my iPod Treadmill Playlist and I thought I’d share it. Keep in mind, this is a beginner regimen, so my MPH might not be as fast as a more experienced exerciser. I start my warm up at 2.0 MPH and increase it on the whole minute up to 3.2 MPH at the 5 minute mark. That’s 2.0, 2,2, 2.5, 2.8, 3.0 and 3.2 MPH. I have a playlist that is approximately 42 minutes in length and it will be good for 3.2 – 3.5 MPH at least. After that, I may need to make adjustments.

I have found the group ZZ Top to be the best, for general, medium stride beat-thomping music. Consistently excellent for walking in time. Every second song on my playlist is a ZZ Top song. Here is the playlist, in order, with comments.

1. Proud Mary (CCR) – This plays during the beginning of the warm up. It isn’t noteworthy for it’s ability to get the walker pumped up, but good to get going. A pleasant diversion to the start of what seems an insurmountable 40 minutes.

2. Gimme All Your Lovin’ (ZZ Top) – Now the warm up is about half way through, the MPH increased enough to walk exactly in time with this very upbeat piece. By the end of the song, I’m at maximum speed, and still I can walk in time with the beat.

3. Old Time Rock & Roll (Ron Dante) – Now we’re at about six minutes and this song is a medley of Old Time Rock & Roll and Mony, Mony. The first part is fast, I have to really speed up, take small steps, I’m almost at a half jog here. Mony slows it down just enough that I’m back to a fast walk. This one makes me want to almost march, it’s very uplifting.

4. Sharp Dressed Man (ZZ Top) – A great song. I wish I could more adequately describe music here, but the pulsating beat in this is enough to keep anyone going. And the funny lyrics, “every girl crazy ‘bout a sharp dressed man”. This song is over before I know it, and by now I realize I’m not keeping an eye on the timer every 20 seconds, I’m just enjoying ZZ Top and how my walking is exactly timed with the music. (“Yeah, Baby!”)

5. Crumblin’ Down (John Mellencamp) – Another #1 excellent treadmill song. Long stride, I’m walking along (going nowhere) arms swinging, having fun. And the walls come tumblin’ down! Great, great song.

6. Doubleback (ZZ Top) – This one is not my favorite ZZ Top song but the worst song in this list is still great. After #5, I’m ready to just stride out for awhile, take it easy before the next onslaught. This one allows me to do that.

7. King’s Highway (Tom Petty) – This speeds me up. I’m almost running again, because my steps have become so short in order to keep up with it. I can feel it in the back of my thighs and my butt.

8. Give It Up (ZZ Top) – This one has a great beginning. After #7, again, I’m glad to lengthen my stride and chill to this (yet again) excellent rock and roll song. The beat pulsates, I’m getting heated up, I’m loving it.

9. She’s Not There (The Zombies) – This is a really old sixties song. It doesn’t start out too well, so I stumble trying to find the rhythm for a bit, then on the chorus it speeds up and I find it and it’s great. Repeats three times. Slower, faster, fast. It’s a good addition to the playlist.

10. Gun Love (ZZ Top) – Starts out pretty well, same beat that allows me not to think too much about adjusting my steps. I love the lyrics of this one, “Playin’ Russian roulette but she’ll load all six”.

11. Makin’ Some Noise (Tom Petty) – This may be the weakest link in the playlist. It’s too fast for this portion of the workout, because now it’s cool down time. I usually just give up here and listen. This one might be replaced at a future date.

12. La Grange (ZZ Top) – This is good cool down tune. Funny lyrics, “They’ve got a lot of nice girlsa”. But usually the 40 minutes is up before this one finishes anyway.

The warm up and top speed songs are the most important to my workout. By the time 35 minutes have gone by, I could listen to anything.

So, if anyone actually gets much out of this post, please let me know. And also, if anyone has any good selections that I could try, I’d be interested to hear about them. Maybe there’s some even better than what I’ve listed here.