Sunday, October 17, 2010


Growing up, I used to look forward to the arrival of the mail each afternoon.  It wasn't that I was looking forward to a flood of letters or postcards, as more often than not, there were no such items addressed to me.  But I loved looking through the avalanche of catalogues that used to come.  Spiegel was the height of sophistication, Victoria's Secret, which I used to have to fight my dad over, seemed like the key to relations with the opposite sex, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art Shop catalogue told of the bastion of culture that (to me) was the east coast.

There were less interesting ones that came as well...those that peddled knick knacks, personalized address labels adorned with flowers and cheesy tween clothing.  And then there were those that were just hilarious, and the funniest one of the bunch was the Vermont Country Store catalogue.

Printed on a material resembling newspaper, the catalogue looked like something out of the 19th century.  The items available included flannel nightgowns, girdles, multiple implements that would allow one to perform personal grooming tasks without having to bend over, orthopedic shoes, and Blackjack chewing gum.  How did my mother get on this mailing list?  Two reasons.  One, the Vermont Country Store carried the nightgowns that my grandma liked (no one else had manufactured them since 1959) and which my mom bought for her, and two, they carried Carmichael's Cuticle Cream.

Carmichael's is essentially a small pot of beeswax.  In theory it is meant to soften raggedy, hardened cuticles, which is does brilliantly, but I use it for just about everything.  Lip balm, eyebrow grooming, chapped hands, to soothe a dry nose during a cold, even as eye cream in a pinch.  Why this product isn't on every beauty essentials list I'll never know.

For nearly as long as I can remember, or perhaps just since I left home, my parents have put one of these little pots in my Christmas stocking.  One pot will last you far longer than a year, so I never ever ran out, and as a result took it for granted.  But for some reason there has been no Carmichael's in my last few Christmas stockings, and I have tragically just exhausted my last little pot.

I am at sea without it.  No reliable nighttime lip moisturizer, my cuticles are a mess, and my eyebrows are looking a bit too wild for polite company.  Hence this post.  As they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and in this case absence has made the heart grow desperate.  A trip uptown to Caswell Massey to purchase a multi-year supply is imminent!


shelby h.k. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
shelby h.k. said...

Ooo never heard of this stuff! I do love a good salve though. Sweet read, too.

I also love those little presents that parents sneak into your stocking every mom always give my brother and I a clementine. Yum!


(and sorry about deleting my first comment! i forgot what else i had wanted to add!)

wambalus said...

Is post just fishing for christmas presents?

Good to know I'm not the only one that has slathered this stuff all over my body - in the UK, when I had cold wind-induced eczema on my chin, this healed it like magic.

Terry B, Blue Kitchen said...

Another lovely post, Laura! Somehow I got on the mailing list for the Museum of Modern Art Shop catalog, which I thought was totally swell. We've since, through great effort, gotten ourselves removed from various catalog lists--save the trees and reduce the landfills and whatnot. But truth be told, I miss them.

Jackie K. said...

If you go, get me one too. I don't think Caswell Massey still has a store in SF.
I will find something else for your stocking.

My Farmhouse Kitchen said...

hi laura...loved this..and you won't beleive this but right now i am wearing my Vermont Country Store apron..Weston and Rockingham, Vermont it says on it.

I got it there years ago...

i always have it on...and i love the catalog too.

happy to visit today


Sneaky Magpie said...

Sounds like an old trusted beauty product! I love getting mail, I have been buying lots of stuff on ebay lately and every day is like xmas ;)

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