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No, no.  Not THAT kind of brownies.

Although, chocalotta-yum.

The Brownies I’m referring to are of the Lord Baden Powell ilk.  The step before “flying up” to Girl Guides.  The step after Sparks.  Little girls in tams and carefully-tied kerchief knots, brown knee socks and real leather pouches attached to their belts.

Me, wearing my brownie uniform

Check out that Coppertone fridge!

Do little girls even wear knee socks anymore or go to sleep chanting “left over right and under, right over left and over”?

Brownie troops used to be divided into sub-groups of fairy folk including gnomes, sprites, pixies, elves, fairies and leprechauns.  My mom recently gave me my Brownie Record, which she had saved since I was a Leprechaun, way back in the ’70s.   

The Brownie Record c. 1976

My career as a Brownie, recorded for posterity.

I remember chanting our little group’s song (sung at the beginning of each Brownie gathering), while secretly wishing to be a fairy.

We’re the Irish leprechaun, 
Guiding strangers when forlorn.

I didn’t particularly want to “guide strangers when forlorn”; I was much too shy for that.  And, my seven-year-old self never understood why the leprechaun badge depicted a red, leaping figure.  Shouldn’t “Irish” leprechauns have been green?

The Brownie Promise

Check out those frolicking sprites lending a hand and being cheerful and obedient!

It’s quite an amusing little time capsule, the Brownie Record.

Apparently I passed the test of reciting “the meaning of the Smile and Good Turn” and I was able to “brush and comb my own hair” (although you wouldn’t know it from some of my pictures).   Ditto for “Sew two types of buttons on actual garments” and “skip twenty times backwards without a break.”

Really?  I, the life-long klutz, could skip backwards?!

The Golden Bar

Such a lot of work to earn The Golden Bar

In November 1976, I accomplished the feat of “keep your room tidy for two weeks” (I apparently lost that skill during the ’80s) and in December, “clean a pair of shoes”.  By December 1977, I had progressed to “Wrap, tie firmly and address neatly a parcel for mailing.”

Such an important life skill.  I wonder who was the lucky recipient of my wrapped, tied and neatly-addressed parcel?

The Golden Bar continued

Along with the Brownie Record, there were also a couple of badges, presumably removed from my uniform after it was passed on.  Imagine my surprise when I found the Outdoors badge.  I don’t remember the details about earning this badge and I’m pretty sure it involved more than what was written in my brownie record.  That is, “Discover and observe three interesting things in the out-of-doors and tell your pack why they are interesting to you.

You may recall how I feel about The Nature.

Lovely to look at.  
Beautiful to behold.  
But I find it rather buggy 
And either sweaty or too cold.

Just a little poem I wrote, inspired by The Nature.  I am a regular Leprechaun Emily Dickinson, aren’t I?

A Leprechaun Emily Dickinson with an Outdoors badge.  Haha!

Brownie badge

This might be my proudest accomplishment: proof that I was in The Nature.

All this talk about brownies.  I need one now.  Not the Lord Baden Powell type.

The warm-from-the-oven type.


Copyright Christine Fader, 2014.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet         You might also like my latest book.

Our friends, Smiley and Steel, have bought a new place on the other side of their lake.

It’s still on the sunset side of the water, which is great.  Even more exciting?  It has two bathrooms.

Smiley is in bathroom heaven.

Practical Man and I have 2.5 bathrooms in our way-too-big-for-us house but, even though we are toilette superior, we still sigh a little when we think of Smiley and Steel.

We too aspire to be waterfront dwellers on a mission to buy extra toilet paper for a newfound plethora of commodes.  But, we (I) have a 1974 Boler travel trailer, 1970 Fiat 500 and assorted retro and practical things (him) to coddle and protect.  There’s not usually a lot of space for this kind of large-vintage-objects-and-entourage hoarding nonsense on your average waterfront property.

So, we went to live vicariously through/oogle Smiley and Steel’s new bathrooms on the water.  They have been busy trying to get the phone company to install on the sunset side of the lake, finding the coffee pot and grimacing at the wallpaper borders on the walls.  It was a perfect excuse for me to create a vintage care package.

I took my inspiration from that vintage, “bid on my sandwiches and I might be your girl” tradition:  a boxed lunch.

Vintage, plaid metal cooler

A tisket, a tasket, my vintage metal bask…oh wait. it’s a cooler, not a basket.. I think that means this classifies as vintage AND practical!.

While a boxed lunch auction is certainly a retro notion, in true 21st century fashion, I barely made any of this boxed lunch…er, dinner, myself.

First, Practical Man cooked up a batch of his moan-while-you-eat-it, slow-cooker Goulash.

You can’t be shy with this stuff.  It’s really good and when something is really good like this is, sounds of ecstasy sometimes erupt spontaneously.

But, we’re all in this together so it’s okay.


P-M uses smoked paprika, instead of regular, in his recipe. It’s why I married him.

Plus egg noodles.  Does anybody eat eggs anymore?  Or noodles?

They seem very vintage, somehow.

noodles in a vintage bowl

Glorious pile of carbs

Then, I made my kitchen sink salad, named thus because I basically put in whatever I feel like.  Heirloom tomatoes (no, they’re not going “off”, they’re supposed to look striated and interesting like that!), spring onions, peppers, cranberries, sunflower seeds, feta…and more.  The pumpkin seeds that I throw in happen to be my favourite.


Did you know that pumpkin seeds contain tryptophan, the same ingredient in cooked turkey that makes you nap?  If you’re suffering from insomnia, try 1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds one hour before bed.  I had some as a snack one day without realizing the whole tryptophan thing and whoa Nellie.  I had to go to bed at 3:00 in the afternoon!  I do NOT need that kind of help since I’m already part Rip van Winkle.


For dessert, I made some of my “world-famous” brownies.  Brownies are my one claim to domestic fame and when I arrive off the plane in Europe, the first thing friends say, with a tone of desperation in their voices is, “WHEN are you going to make brownies?!”.


This whole pile might add up to breakfast for Smiley. At least, I hope so.

I know friends don’t count and Europe isn’t the world.  Kindly don’t shatter my “world famous” delusions.

I packed things in assorted vintage Tupperware containers (Good things come in fun, retro packages, haven’t you heard?)

I cozied everything into a vintage, metal picnic basket/cooler.

Please ignore the leftover bottled salad dressing (not vintage unless you count balsamic as vintage because it’s aged).

tupperware containers in vintage metal cooler

Don’t they look like they’re all friends in there?

I was wishing for some sassafras.  That seems like something that belongs in a vintage boxed lunch.   Even though I don’t really know what it is.

So, sans sassafras (but with some plain old sass), care package was complete.  Delivery successful.

Congratulations, Smiley and Steel on your new home!

If I could have sourced it, I would have also loved to include the perfect house-warming gift:  rainbow-hued toilet paper.

There’s nothing like blue, pink or green vintage toilet paper that coordinates with your furry toilet seat cozy, wallpaper, kleenex-box cover, and rubber, stick-down non-slip flowers in the tub to say a truly vintage, “Welcome Home”.

It’s bathroom heaven.

Copyright Christine Fader, 2013.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet         You might also like my latest book.