Happiness is good health and a bad memory ~ Ingrid Bergman


Time is my new ‘thing’… 

Having almost completed my Masters dissertation now which is rooted in the 1800s, it has been a long time since I ‘escaped’ to the 1940s. I’ve completely indulged my love of the physical book, and I fully intend for things to stay that way. So here are some tips for bookish happiness:

  • Try choosing your next read by the time or era that it is set in
  • Keep tabs on your choice list by using Goodreads or LibraryThing – you can plot your journey and review it – a bit of reflection is always good for the soul
  • Try reading a selection of books all set in the same place, for example Cambridge
  • To broaden your horizons retrieve all your reads from your local Library…peruse the Library, and see what it has on its shelves.  Even in the most provincial town, there are treasures to be had

‘There are whole years for which I hope I’ll never be cross-examined, for I could not give an alibi.’ ~ Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960

Published in: on February 22, 2015 at 8:03 am  Comments (1)  
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Keep Your Pecker Up!

The art of keeping your chin up when there’s no milk to put in your tea, of having some gumption in the face of office hot desking, and remaining soft yet stoical when you’ve just dropped your only red lipstick under the bus…

What would you do if it was wartime?

Think about it for a moment.

Tea in wartime was rationed. In fact it remained rationed right through to the 1950s. And rationing was a method the Government used to make sure that valuable commodities remained available to all during this desperate economic period. With Lyons tea at your local shop, there wasn’t variety like there is today, and I don’t just mean brand – we have innumerable varieties to choose from including black tea and caffeine free.

lyons tea rooms

Milk was powdered. Each person got one tin of milk powder (equivalent to 8 imperial pints or 4.5 litres) every eight weeks.


Women had various jobs but once married they usually all revolved around the home. Womens jobs were essentially retail, nursing or clerical. It was during the war that we had a spike in the influence of women in the workplace which although shot down post war in the 1950s, had planted a seed of rights and equality.


Red lipstick. I’ve lost a few of those, namely to my daughter but I know I can go and choose from a never ending selection of shades and brands. During the war lipstick supplies were lost to factories making war items. Women turned to natural colorants such as beetroot once their much loved and coveted red lipstick was gone.


So girls, when it’s hard to sleep because it’s too hot, think about trying to sleep in a air raid shelter with bombs crashing down around you. When the commute gets you down, think about how difficult it would be if we had no transport links. And when you’ve just laddered your tights, imagine having to draw on stocking lines every time you wanted to dress for the day.

liquid stockings

Keep your pecker up!

Five 1940s things to lift you up


1. Red lipstick A total must! If you are feeling the slightest bit under par, the amazing uplifting power of red lipstick will astound you. It will make you smile and in return, you will get lots of smiles back!

blog pic

2. Seamed stockings If you are in need of the lift that only heels can give, then seamed stockings are the way forward. For longing gazes, and the sense that you are the epitome of Old Hollywood glamour, these stockings in nude or black are for you!

WW2 cup of tea

3. Strong tea A good ‘nice’ cup of strong tea is the very fuel of bad or low days. As tea was rationed during the war, it was often stronger and armed with sugar. How do you like your tea? ‘Wartime issue’ of course!


4. Knitting/Crochet Nothing makes the soul feel more nourished than creating/making something of use. During the war, due to the shortage of new materials to make clothes, women were shown how to re-use old items to ‘make do and mend’. Grab your needles or crochet hook and get making!

eating for victory

5. Being creative with Rations Lastly, what better way to make you feel uplifted, comforted and creative, than cooking ‘austerity style.’ Think of your Sunday roast as part of your Rations and make sure it can make another 2 family meals during the week – you will soon get creative and inventive! What better way to make you smile than cooking for the family.

Just a few ideas to see you through those not so sunny days sweeties, and remember…

Keep your pecker up! xx

* Please donate to appletreenails@gmail.com to help me make this blog a 1940s Directory here. Thank you sweeties!

Jane Russell – sassy screen siren

Are you feeling a little small time? How about slipping into some sequins and singing a little number? Find some inspiration from this lounge-singing, long-legged, red-lipped brunette from ‘Little Rock’…er Minnesota.


Source – alifeofstyle.com

Publicity can be terrible, but only if you don’t have any.’

the outlaw poster

Source – bustnlace.com

Russells most famous and first role in The Outlaw 1943, won her pin up status with serviceman during WW2 – despite the movie not going on general release until 1946, the promotional media was enough to keep her busy and propel her to fame. Russell was now seen as one of Hollywood’s leading sex symbols in the 1940s, and this continued into the 1950s.

‘They held up “The Outlaw” for five years. And Howard Hughes had me doing publicity for it every day, five days a week for five years’.


Source – mygen.com

Jane performed a plethora of movie roles. She played Calamity Jane opposite Bob Hope in The Paleface (1948) on loan out to Paramount, and Mike “the Torch” Delroy opposite Hope in another western comedy, Son of Paleface (1952), again at Paramount. Russell played Dorothy Shaw in the hit film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) opposite Marilyn Monroe for 20th Century Fox. Vivacious, sassy, sultry and seductive, she continued to be a star of the Silver-screen throughout the 50s.   In the 60s her next movie appearance came in Fate Is the Hunter (1964), in which she was seen as herself performing for the USO in a flashback sequence. She made only four more movies after that, playing character parts in the final two.  In 1995, she co-starred with Charlton Heston, Peter Graves, Mickey Rooney and Deborah Winters in the Warren Chaney docudrama, America: A Call to Greatness.

Why did I quit movies? Because I was getting too old! You couldn’t go on acting in those years if you were an actress over 30.’

Jane Russell starred in more than 20 films throughout her career. When you start reading about this sultry tongued startlet, and reading things that she has written, you can tell what a forthright, moralistic, sassy, smart, pertinent woman she was. Glamorous to the end, a songstress, dancer and performer – an amazing inspiration for gumption and fortitude.

“Big Jane. Big Bad Jane,” she repeats with great relish..

She wrote an autobiography in 1985, Jane Russell: My Path and My Detours. In 1989, she received the Women’s International Center (WIC) Living Legacy Award, amongst other Hollywood accolades.

monroe russell handprints

Source – astrodreamer.squarespace.com

Russell’s hand and foot prints are immortalized at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, and she has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6850 Hollywood Boulevard.

jane-russell gentlemen prefer blondes fur

Source – blog.everlasting-star.net

Russell married three times, adopted three children, and in 1955 founded the World Adoption International Fund.

I really think the 1940s were the best generation for Hollywood. Everybody was patriotic then.’

Source – whoknewtheykneweachother.blogspot.com

Ernestine Jane Geraldine Russell (June 21, 1921 – February 28, 2011).

Star of the Silver-screen, siren extraordinaire.

Contact me or donate to the blog at appletreenails@gmail.com I would appreciate your help in developing into a 1940s directory resource…

Bring your 1940s to life click HERE!

Iconic vintage nail styles


source – Sultry Lady

Iconic nail shapes and manicures have an enduring quality and allure that new shapes such as squaoval and the claw tip, and new nail art such as 3D designs, cannot reach.  In the 1930s when Revlon introduced its classic red nail polish, the crescent tip manicure was in fashion. Pictures of the manicure in a variety of colours appeared in a 1936 edition of Vogue.


Vogue presents crescent tip nails

source – Refinery 29

By the 1940s Revlon were marketing their iconic Fire and Ice campaign – matching lipstick and nail polish, and the almond shaped nails were copied across other manufacturers such as Cutex.

cutextakeabow (1)

Cutex almond shape nails

source – Spring Teen

In the 1950s, Hollywood blockbusting movies with starlets such as Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe featured red half moon manicured nails, and this classic style of manicure has endured.


Dita Von Teese wears Half Moon Manicure

source – Purse Forum

 Iconic vintage nail styles incorporates nail shapes, nail polish colour and nail art or manicures, however, these are the significant trends that have persisted for decades and crossed into a new century. For an iconic, best of the classics, vintage manicure, be sure to wear your crescent tips, almond shapes or half moons!

Keep your pecker up! xx

Contact me or donate to the blog at appletreenails@gmail.com

Bring your 1940s to life click HERE!

Dress code 1940s

Do you wonder if the 1940s revival is one big fancy dress party? Do you wonder why people would want to remember the austerity and danger of wartime and glamourize it?

1940s enthusiasts are people who are essentially paying their respects to individuals who lived during wartime, to honour their life and lifestyle and to experience as much as possible the modus vivendi of the period.


At Home Front History, they explain a little more and give you good guidelines towards preparing your 1940s character.

It’s one thing to ‘dress the part’ and another to be able to ‘re-enact’ the person convincingly in front the public. So a good starting point for every portrayal is research and the internet is probably the quickest and easiest way forward….However more and more, groups are diversifying and have members portraying a mix of civilian and service personnel as well as a mix of Allied and Axis forces. Welcome additions to the re-enacting community in recent years include Postmen, Vicars, Farmers and shopkeepers, so there is always the opportunity to portray a character other than those portrayed in larger numbers.’

Re-enactors usually build a character using period photographs, ephemera and personal items such as a ration book, bus ticket and paper money to create a real authentic feel. These can be easily recreated and reproductions are widely available.

1940s family frome bazaar (1)

Of course not all enthusiasts are re-enactors. Some people like to glam it up a bit and stray from rigid historical fact. For example clothing and clothing styles and periods can be mixed (40s and 50s), and adding a touch of 21st century or cheesecake pin up can be fun too.

tootsie rollers

Tootsie Rollers, 1940s entertainment girl group

You can find opportunities to strut your dress code 1940s at events and nights out throughout the year.

You can find out how to wear red lipstick, and wear red nail polish for these special events here.

You can also find details of Reenactment groups from Home Front History or The 1940s Society. Don’t forget to stay chipper and…

Keep your pecker up! xx

Finding other ways to feel feminine in wartime

Ever wondered if women in the 1940s really did bother with rolling their hair and painting on stocking seams during wartime?


The reason that women bothered to do this was austerity, something some people may be all too familiar with. Obviously during wartime there was a sense of community or ‘Blitz’ spirit- a common enemy, we were all in it together, all ready to ‘do our bit for the war effort’. For women, this meant finding another way to be feminine when they were working the land or in munitions, when they’d replaced skirts for dungarees, when dresses became utility dresses with no trimmings or frills, when clothes were made from your Dads old trouser suits or curtains. Remember that with life, there had become a sense of immediacy, living for the moment. All ‘girly girls’ today will understand that having your femininity whipped away from you is upsetting, it creates an imbalance, that it leaves a deficit. And so the women of the 1940s found other ways to create glamour where there was none. A stroke of red lipstick, browned legs, rolled hair, some red nail polish if you’d made it last and a cup of tea at a Lyons tea shop with a girlfriend – who could ask for more. Of course a twirl on the dance floor at the local Palais with a man in uniform was just the ticket!

So here’s a few pictures of how the common people (as opposed to Hollywood icons) did it!






Keep your pecker up! xx

Time Travel Lifestyles

Typewriter pink

How do you do it?

Have you tried taking a glimpse into what it would have been like to be a woman in different decades? Click on the links below to read about some experiences in time travel lifestyles.


In the 1930s a womans role was very different to what it is now.


The role of women in the 1930’s was essentially homemaker and mother. The Great Depression caused a number of people to lose work, but women were still discouraged from being able to work to support their family during such a difficult time.  However, during this period many women started to step outside of the typical role of women and gained employment although they didn’t have very good jobs.  Most of the women who had jobs were working in factories or other low paying jobs. They also had to get a full education just to be equal with a man.  Women could do the same job as a man and work just as hard but would still only get about half as much pay.  Women and men were not treated equally in the workplace.

If women were working during this period, they also had to make sure that the house was clean. Women had many responsibilities at home, and they had to make sure they looked presentable for their husband even after a long day at work.


In the 1940s, women came into their own. Emerging from an era of being treated as delicate, and clever enough only to be housemakers and mothers, women rose to the challenge, and went into the factories and onto the land to pull the country through wartime whilst the men were at the Front.


Although they were still denied equality in pay or status, and even more poignant was their dismissal on the return of men from war, women showed their stoicism and formidable side, and as a result, have been attributed the victors on the Homefront.  Even more impressively, they did it with a lick of lipstick and a drawn on stocking seam!


Sadly, the 1950s saw a return to male dominance at home as well as in the workplace. Some women were glad to return to the role of homemaker and mother, and revelled in the end of rationing and a return to cooking good meals and preparing the house for when their husband returned from work.

1950s womens role

Of course now, we see it as rather patronising, but again, some women,  now empowered by our rights and freedom, see it as lifestyle choice, and prefer to live the simple 1950s lifestyle.

So sweeties, make your choice – are you ready to time travel?

Keep your pecker up! xx

What’s in the attic?


What’s in the attic?

Recently I have moved home, and apart from the serious amounts of stress involved in moving 100 miles north,  the actual house clearance (I didn’t need to take everything) has been extensively exhausting. However, it has raised an issue with me that I wanted to highlight to those people (myself included) who are ruthless when it comes to throwing out and recycling ‘rubbish’.  

My parents moved 4 times in my lifetime, and along with my twin sister, we are the youngest children in the family. Prior to that, my parents lived together in 2 other homes, and before that, my Mum had a family home, and her own ‘digs’ before meeting my Dad. They got married in 1953 and were both also wartime evacuees. How lovely it would be to have some memorabilia of my parents life together  ~ a wedding card, or dress, letters from my Mum to her twin sisters who emigrated to Australia, pretty much anything that would give a real indication of character. But along the way, my parents have been less than discerning about what they chose to keep, and what they threw away. My Mum left her wedding dress behind in the attic of one of her homes! I can’t complain because I now have a couple of items that evoke memories of my own childhood as well as something that turned out to be a wedding gift from  their work colleagues.

old letters

So, I have 2 whole boxes of letters written from my twin sister and other friends and family members to me since I was 13 years old. As a society we don’t necessarily write letters anymore, which for me, made it even more important to keep these ~ for my children! We are such a disposable nation now, that sometimes it is hard to distinguish what is important to keep and what we throw away, particularly in stressful times. However, I urge you to keep in mind, that your favourite heels now, will be something your daughter will delight in seeing when she is in her 30s.


As a person of books, and tea, remember that your marginalia, your favourite tea cup ~ they will all be of sentimental value to your family and friends. Don’t throw everything away!

Keep your pecker up! xx

When I went to the local recycle centre to dispose of my household rubbish, I almost came home with more! I spied an old Singer sewing machine but it had unfortunately already been claimed. My Mum had one of these that was housed in a table, but yet again, this was sadly disposed of.


Published in: on July 22, 2013 at 7:00 am  Comments (4)  
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Have you drawn your stocking lines on yet?

The History of  Stockings

Men adore them.  Women have cursed them, loved them, drawn them on, peeled them off, held them up with garters and,  at usually the most inconvenient moment, ruined them. Stockings!  However, did you know that the world’s first knitting machine was invented in 1589 by William Lee, and was designed for making stockings? Stockings have a long and complex history, entwined with wool, cotton, silk, rayon and nylon.


Gil Elvgren

In the 21st century, showing your stockings has now become as canonical a rite as what started out as a form of propriety, or social rule of etiquette.

 18th Century womens stockings

18th century fashion plate

Men were the first to wear stockings, although at that time they were called hose and held up by garters. In the 12th century,  hose were a staple garment  in every man’s wardrobe. In comparison, women generally wore socks. This continued throughout the medieval period, and it was only into the 18th century that women began to desire a sheer sock or stocking, that too, was held up by a garter although the entirety of these garments were covered by a dress.


1920s hosiery

So before the early 20th century, women’s stockings were mainly worn for warmth however,  in the 1920s, as hemlines  rose, women began to wear stockings to cover their exposed legs. The purpose was still to cover the naked legs as a form of etiquette and propriety.  These stockings were first made of silk or rayon, and in the 1930s, the development of a circular knitting machine made seamless stockings possible.


DuPont stockings

Now a foundation garment for each woman, every day hosiery took a steep leap with the introduction of DuPont’s  nylon at the World’s Fair in New York in 1939. American chemical company DuPont was founded in  1802 as a gunpowder mill by Eleuthère Irénée du Pont. Nylon was a revelation.  Sheer and glossy just like its silk and rayon counterparts, but much harder wearing and invulnerable to water. The first nylon stockings appeared in New York stores in May 1940, and over 72,000 pairs were sold in that first day.  During wartime,  DuPont manufacturing  helped produce the raw materials for parachutes, powder bags, and tyres, and increasingly from 1942 when the US entered the war,  the production of stockings declined and they became significantly rare.   At this time, women wore stockings all the time, and bare legs were considered a faux pas.


Drawing on a stocking seam

This scarcity of nylon stockings led many women to brown their legs and they tried several different liquids to get that stocking look such as cold tea, and gravy browning.


Liquid Stockings

In the 1940s, the main production of stockings was seamed. To recreate this seam, some women would draw it on with an eyebrow pencil and make-up companies including Helena Rubenstein even marketed “liquid stockings” for the purpose.


Hanes Hosiery

At this time, Hanes was marketing “no-seam stockings”.  At first reticent to try them as the lack of a seam line on a leg might lead observers to believe a woman was going bare-legged, and therefore inproper, inappropriate or disrespectful,  when other manufacturers joined in, very gradually women adopted the seam free stockings.


Pure silk seam free stockings

In the early 1950s, Ethel Gant suggested to her husband that a garment incorporating stockings with knickers would be rather convenient, and handed him a notion for a prototype.


Allen Gant of Glen Raven Knitting Mills

With the help of his work colleagues, they developed what they later called “Panti-Legs”.

Their new product was introduced in 1959, and became  more commonly known as Pantihose.


Hanes marketing

In the 21st century, we have a full range of stockings. Some women wear them for warmth, others to show them off. Fortunately now, it is no longer considered de rigeur to wear them at all.


Mess of a Dreamer


Keep your pecker up! xx