January 28, 2009
I Love This Site: Retro Edition
For this week's edition of I Love This Product/Site, the Blog Princess wishes to discuss one of her mad addictions: online shopping. In the course of pursuing this guilty pleasure, she has developed a deep and mutually satisfying relationship with the local UPS guy. The Princess can't be the only woman on Planet Gaia who views malls with a feeling perhaps best described by the term "fear and loathing".
Nothing ruins a perfectly satisfactory Saturday morning faster than having all five senses raped by a non-stop barrage of fussy toddlers strapped to strollers, mothers obliviating on cell phones and rude twits running in the aisles or - worse! - skating out of control on those detestable shoes with the vile little pop-out wheels. Give her a nice, quiet catalog and an Internet connection anytime. She's not too proud to admit that when it comes to malls, she bears absolutely no love for her fellow man.
The subject of today's rant is a site called The Vermont Country Store: a place where one can buy all sorts of neat and practical items not easily found in regular stores. In addition to having amazing categories of things like Brands from the Past
(remember Lamb Chop, Gumby, and Monopoly with the original wooden houses?) They have incredibly practical things like these stainless steel hem clips that allow you to measure a hemline as you pin it up. I am short and always have to hem things up so I don't look like I'm wearing my grandmother's clothing, so this is of the coolest.
Remember Smith Bros. Cherry cough drops? Lemon Up shampoo? Love's Baby Soft cologne (oh Lord... don't get me started). Also they have these ice breaker mats for outdoor steps. I just bought 9.
Enfrente de Villa Cassandranita there is a large stone retaining wall interrupted by a steep series of flagstone steps. When it snows or there is freezing rain they ice up and it is nearly impossible to get them clear without risking chipping the highly attractive flagstone caps on the steps. Last night after shovelling twice, I put cotton bedsheets on the stairs so
The Unit wouldn't kill himself coming down them at zero dark thirty the freezing rain wouldn't ice up my steps while I was in the arms of Morpheus. This worked fairly well but the mats would be even better as a solution. I can stack them under my kitchen deck when not in use. I don't see the need to drag frozen sheets around every time we have sleet or freezing rain. There was an inch of ice on my driveway this morning and de-icer just doesn't cut it out here.
Also, I adore classic toys. Back to Basic Toys has really nice ones to spend the Unit's hard earned money on. Now that my grandson is getting old enough to play, I'm looking for quality toys to buy him. I've been remembering the toys we had for my boys when they were small.
One great toy my parents got them was called Omagles. Best. Toy. Ever. We built everything with this construction set - carts, forts, even (once) a makeshift stall to throw water balloons at The Unit for my youngest boy's birthday party. There is nothing funnier than watching a gaggle of kindergarten-age boys lining up to throw water balloons at a United States' Marine who is egging them on. They were so delighted (and scared) I thought they'd wet their pants.
Well, that's it for this week. Sorry. Kind of busy today with work.
Rats! I meant to ask: what were some of your favorite toys growing up? (or favorite toys you bought your kids?)
Posted by Cassandra at January 28, 2009 07:36 AM
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Gad, woman. You're *old*.
But I agree with you about malls.
So do any large gatherings of people that don't involve guns and uniforms.
Posted by: John of Argghhh! at January 28, 2009 03:29 PM
Why must they include uniforms? /pout
Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at January 28, 2009 04:13 PM
Gad, woman. You're *old*.
Posted by: Cass at January 28, 2009 04:53 PM
I get those catalogs on a regular basis...best gift ideas. I also detest malls as well as playing parking lot bingo with someone who would rather die or sacrifice her offspring for same.
However, the Precious and I do enjoy our trips to the Williams-Sonoma store right before the buses have to drop kids off at home. All the malls are suddenly vacant, as are the parking spots.
Posted by: Cricket at January 28, 2009 04:57 PM
Hearthsong. They used to be really really really good, and then they got stupid, and now they are starting to get better. It helped that they sold their Berkeley, CA stores...
Posted by: Cricket at January 28, 2009 04:59 PM
Agree with the mall sentiment and large concentrations of (sub and/or ex)urbanites doing parking lot kamikaze maneuvers and the mall crawl.
TAG, down heah*, camo bib overhauls and a Red Man ball cap are considered a uniform. Much as were the suit and tie in places that I can now only vaguely recall.
* South of Mason-Dixon, Zulu minus 5 hours or greater.
Posted by: bthun at January 28, 2009 05:04 PM
YAG rather than TAG.
Posted by: bthun at January 28, 2009 05:04 PM
When I was growing up -- ummmm, better make that "when I was just a lad" -- we didn't have to buy toys. There was this really neat stuff called "flint" that we used to find and make things with.
Now you can only find it in cigarette lighters, and it's *tough* to get a decent edge on it...
Posted by: BillT at January 28, 2009 05:09 PM
Is the young lady a little girl that grew up to be a well-respected blogger, perchance?
Posted by: MathMom at January 28, 2009 05:10 PM
As far as the fav toy of my kids? I'm told that they loved this one more than most others. I made it for them one summer while they were still iddy biddy.
Sorry for using excessive bandwith...
Posted by: bthun at January 28, 2009 05:32 PM
Snow... nthis is NOT to be used next to the house, but the "garden" bit could apply to snow-laden drives and wlks -
- - - - - - -
Being largely a shut-in (I can walk about a hundred feet, have no car) I do ALL my shopping online (even groceries - PeaPod delivers usual items in my area). If I know what I am looking for, I usually start with Froogle or Amazon...
Posted by: teqjack at January 28, 2009 06:05 PM
Heh, with that thing the Weiner Beast wouldn't have to *make* the trench himself when answering nature's call.
Posted by: DL Sly at January 28, 2009 06:30 PM
Tinker toys, I'd say were my favorite, followed by something called "Crazy Ikes". Both had something in common with your big construction set, in that we could design and build our own toys with them. I had serious fantasies, though, about a hypothetical life-sized Lego brick set with which I could build my own real house. One would need a utilities module and snap-on insulation sheets. Why wouldn't that be a good solution for the "homeless" problem, especially in the warmer climates?
Posted by: Mangas Colorados at January 28, 2009 08:30 PM
I'd have to think to remember a lot of the toys I played with as a kid. I remember I had a Bionic Woman action figure, and my brother had either GI Joe (before he shrank) or the Six Million Dollar Man action figure. I had a Baby Alive - one of those baby dolls that you can "feed" "real" food, and you get to change the diaper... I had Legos. I had a bunch of Smurfs (I had them in Germany before they became a Saturday morning cartoon...and the Germans didn't call them that - they were Schlumpfas or something like that). I had some Love's Baby Soft, probably when I was in Jr. High. My brother got a Tin Can Alley "rifle" for Christmas one year - I remember laying on my grandparents' floor "shooting" at the targets... Some of the toys I had were dolls my mom made me. I plan on digging out her old patterns and making indentical ones for my little niece for her first birthday and Christmas this year. And, I just remember playing with the neighbor kids - Lone Ranger, Batman & Robin. Oh, and how can I forget Star Wars figures? I still have the ones my brother & I had. I wonder how much those originals are worth these days...
Posted by: Miss Ladybug at January 29, 2009 12:32 AM
I could never wear Love's Baby Soft - it just didn't mix well with my body chemistry. And it was too girly for me. Go figure.
I loved my Tinker Toys, my bike (BMX style, thankyouverymuch) and my pogo stick. And my tennis-shoe roller skates.
Posted by: Sly's Wardrobe Mistress at January 29, 2009 03:33 AM
- they were Schlumpfas or something...
Very close -- die Schtroumpfen.
Posted by: BillT at January 29, 2009 04:20 AM
I loved my Tinker Toys...and my pogo stick.
Thus explaining your affinity for helicopters.
Posted by: BillT at January 29, 2009 04:22 AM
Colorforms, Chrissy and Barbie dolls, Legos..
I played outside alot. Kick the Can, Hide and Seek, Swinging Statues, Hopskotch, kickball and one summer, we had a neighborhood waterfight that was just so much fun.
BTW, Will is not going to be happy with you. I just visited the site...:)
Posted by: Carrie at January 29, 2009 09:48 AM
Roller skates, my jumprope, and the swingset out back. One of the old fashioned ones made of iron and the seats were wooden and yes, they were splintery...why do you ask?
We had a child-sized card table and matching chairs. Lotsa picnics on it as well as the best place to play board games, build things and draw.
I got one out of wood when we were in Kentucky; the youngest CLUs still fit it and use it.
The Engineer made several easels for Christmas. They were the ones that have a chalkboard on one side; you can paint or draw on the other side.
It is a folding design; the paper and supplies fit perfectly in the trays. My siblings who had children each got one from us; and the one easel is enjoying a second life in a classroom of children who absolutely love it.
Posted by: Cricket at January 29, 2009 11:52 AM
We also had a rocking horse almost exactly like the one at Back To Basics Toys. A greatly loved toy; lots of Cowboys and Indians; cattle herding and other fantasies were possible because of Pferd.
Posted by: Cricket at January 29, 2009 11:56 AM
Oh, I loved playing outside!! Kick the Can, kick ball, street hockey, baseball, hopscotch, Butt's Up, Capture the Flag...you name it. One summer night, we got pretty much the entire neighborhood involved in a giant game of kick the can at night.
The adults were cut-throat. It was great!
And cards. Anytime we couldn't be outside for whatever reason, we played cards. Canasta, hearts, spades, Euchre, pinochle, solitaire, dutch blitz...you name it. My Daddy always had a deck of cards with him.
Posted by: Sly's Wardrobe Mistress at January 29, 2009 12:42 PM
I was more of an outside person myself.
My favorite memories of being a kid didn't revolve so much around toys as they did games we played.
Hide and seek on summer nights in Newport, RI: that was the BEST. The game ranged over our whole neighborhood and home base was always the splitrail fence in my front yard. Playing after dark made it SO much more fun. There was a lot of running and screaming and tackling people :p
Posted by: Cass at January 29, 2009 03:23 PM
And stilts! My Dad made us stilts that were ENORMOUS and we practiced like mad with them.
And just doing dumb stunts with our bikes. We lived on a hill and I loved to do stupid bicycle tricks like standing on the seat with one foot while barrelling down hill and doing an arabesque (I must have thought I was some kind of gypsy or something). I always had a big scrape on my knees from wiping out - there was a gravel patch at the bottom of the street that just had my name on it. I'd get going way too fast and try to peel around the corner and every now and then the gravel would attack me :p
Posted by: Cass at January 29, 2009 03:26 PM
What about War?
We used to play war - we had forts all over the neighborhood and we ran around shooting each other. We had teams. If you died you had to lie there for a while but eventually you could come back to life. Being a spy was the best.
Posted by: Cass at January 29, 2009 03:28 PM
Yeah, we played war too.
How about forts? We used to build forts all the time. They wouldn't last very long but they were fun to work on.
Posted by: Carrie at January 29, 2009 03:32 PM
I really miss my Daisy BB gun. I was the bane of sparrows.
Posted by: Mark at January 29, 2009 05:54 PM
You had to mention bb guns... "You'll shoot your eye out!" and the memories exploded like the neighbors bathroom window!
I was trying real hard not to mention my Josh Randall's Mare's Leg toy (a chopped Winchester 92) I clung to and loved for years. Nor my home made sling shots that were eventually traded for wham-o sling shots and finally Wrist Rockets. Nor the bb guns, pellet guns, my first 20 ga. shotgun, the long bow nor any of the other certified Bitter-N-Clingy, Neanderthals-Я-Us, Raised In a Small Southern Flyover Town, guy stuff.
Tree houses, bag swings hung in tall oaks, zip lines strung from same.
Hunting, fishing, camping, boating, swimming, water skiing and canoeing were mandatory due living in close proximity to lots of lakes, streams, rivers and the Okefenokee not being very far away.
And of course the games requiring baseballs, footballs, round balls... A Christmas gift of a Mr. Wizard junior chemistry set (introduction to home made explosives! =8-O ) I do not think Santa anticipated that sort of educational experience would be the result.
And 1/24th scale slot cars that were raced at the commercial slot car track. Gas model airplanes with the control lines attached requiring you to spin around in a circle as you flew them. Go carts powered by 2 stroke chain saw motors (fast), mini bikes, and anything that burned fuel. etc., etc., etc.
Now a short list of web sites that I find some use for are:
Enough of that... Again, sorry for the excessive bandwidth, but reflecting upon my first childhood while I am sneaking up on my next iteration of childhood brings up these fond memories.
Yeah, looking back, I have to admit, life for a little boy in that small southern town was mighty good. As were the people.
Posted by: bthun at January 29, 2009 06:58 PM
There is a Cabela's just down the road from me, though I haven't gone in. I don't do a lot of outdoorsy stuff right now, so I've not been tempted...
And, how could I have forgotten the swing set we had in the backyard in San Antonio. It had regular swings, a slide and one of those swings with a bench set on each side.
When we were in Germany, living in base housing, I spent much time on the playgrounds. Those were much better than the ones you see today. There were those heavy-duty swing sets, and we used to either (a) tangle two swings together and then get dizzy as they untwisted or (b) get going high, and then let go, flying off into the grass ;-) Also, there were the merry-go-rounds. It was always best to have a friend handy, so one could spin it while the other went for a ride. And the monkey bars - you know, the kind of "cube" setup that went up maybe 5-6 feet - we would play Marco Polo on it, with the "it" person having their eyes closed. I also liked hooking my feet around the bars and hanging upside down. I never see anything but swings on playgrounds these days, and even those seem to be rare. I guess people are too concerned about liability...
Posted by: Miss Ladybug at January 29, 2009 10:32 PM
About 1980, our son had a great big rocking horse-style toy, except instead of a horse attached to the frame with springs, it had a huge ,version of "Big Bird". He was only about two, and he would ride that toy until he just had to get off, lie on the floor and ask for a bottle of juice.
Our younger son used it too. He also had a "big-wheeler" trike in the shape of a blue smurf. The Smurf-Mobile. Great pictures of him on that to show his new wife.
Posted by: barbie at January 31, 2009 11:03 PM
Games after dark. In Arizona, that was when it cooled down to 90 degrees after being 115 in July, so during the day a lot of our play was indoors. We did go outside but not for long. We used to have dirt clod fights with garbage can lids for shields. 'course, you had to make the clods, doncha know. We also hunted for horned toads, as at that time Scottsdale was nothing but desert between MacDowell Road and Phoenix. On the 4th of July, we climbed up on the roof and watched the fireworks over the desert. We'd play Red light, Green light, Hide and go seek, Three Flies up. It is kind of neat, reading this, the lore of the games of childhood. How all of us remember doing the same things or versions of the same things, no matter where we lived. How the rules varied from one place to the next if you moved out or someone moved in.
Memories are sweet things sometimes.
Posted by: Cricket at February 2, 2009 12:53 AM