Saturday, May 31, 2008

Famous Last Words

"She's just a puppy. She'll cry for maybe ten, fifteen minutes and then she'll go to sleep."

Har de har har har.

Friday, May 30, 2008


Quote of the Day

"Parents, however old they and we may grow to be, serve among other things to shield us from a sense of our own doom. As long as they are around, we can avoid the fact of our mortality; we can still be innocent children."

Jane Howard

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Frame of Reference

As my youngest sister was heading for the hospital on Friday night through a rough part of town, she happened to pass a building with a big sign out in front emblazoned with the name STILETTO’S.

You know what it was and I know what it was; but my sweet, pious, devoutly-Catholic sister asked, in all innocence, “Who was Saint Iletto?”

(stripper shoe photo courtesy of

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The woman in Iowa changed her mind

So we will not be getting her. The breeder had described her to us as "sweet and gentle," and I (and Reserve Cat) were really looking forward to a non-Type A personality joining the household. That's the bad news.

The worse news is that another potential owner rejected this puppy for being "too lively." In the breeder's words, she is not only two pounds bigger that the first pup but she is "the most out going and determined, maybe even a tad excitedable (sic)..."

Sweet land of Goshen, I am going to have another fuzzy little roughneck on my hands. She looks like an Irish prize-fighter.

Sewing - Sunbonnets and a Clothespin Bag from 1916

"In Fig. 40 is shown a neat clothes-pin bag. Although the making of such a receptacle may seem to be out of place in a discussion on aprons, it was deemed advisable to consider the bag in connection with the clothes-pin apron, for in many instances women prefer to have a bag instead of an apron for holding clothes pins. This sack, or bag, is provided with a handy opening and with a hanger--an ordinary coat hanger--which makes it possible not only to hang the bag on a clothes line while hanging up clothes, but also to slide the bag along, and in this way always have the clothes pins handy. Besides being a time saver in hanging up clothes, such a bag protects the clothes pins and keeps them always fit for use."

In addition to instructions for drafting the pattern and making the clothes-pin bag (and what a treat if you can get your hands on a vintage wooden clothes-hanger to use for this), the final twenty pages of The Woman's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences 1916 booklet, Fancy Aprons and Sunbonnets contains patterns for one plain sunbonnet, one fancy sunbonnet, and a fetching but completely impractical eyelet sun-hat. They can be downloaded from my Flickr account.

I am still not able to get the hang of loading pictures into Flickr in proper numerical order, so be warned; you will have to download these to your computer and then put them straight.

Monday, May 26, 2008


My thanks to everyone who contacted me; my father has been in poor health for some time and he gave us a bit of a scare on Friday. I drove up to Detroit with another sibling who lives in Missouri and just got back home this evening.

Friday, May 23, 2008


Due to an emergency I won't be able to blog for several days. The last part of the apron/sunbonnet book will not be going up on Tuesday; please check back later in the week.

Thank you.

Quote of the Day

"The girls resorted to all sorts of devices to keep themselves alive
during this dreary season. They had little epidemics of occupation.
At one time it was "spattering," when all faces and fingers had a
tendency to smudges of India ink; and there was hardly a fine comb
or tooth-brush fit for use in the establishment. Then a rage for
tatting set in, followed by a fever of fancy-work, every one falling
in love with the same pattern at the same time, and copying and
recopying, till nobody could bear the sight of it. At one time Clover
counted eighteen girls all at work on the same bead and canvas pin-

(What Katy Did At School, by Susan Coolidge).

Cross-stitch pattern from The Priscilla Colored Cross-stitch Book, #2. This book (and many others) may be found online at the Antique Pattern Library.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

There's a woman in Iowa who holds my husband's heart in her hands

But as long as she doesn't change her mind, here is his little girl.

The suspense is killing him.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sewing - More Aprons from 1916

"In Fig. 25 is shown another convenient apron, known as the square sewing apron, that requires very little material. In fact, only 3/4 yd. of 40-in. lawn or dimity is needed for the apron, and 3 yd. of Maltese or Valenciennes lace edging for the trimming. This apron has a big, roomy pocket that is substantially sewed in with the seams, thus making the apron a very convenient one for sewing."

These aprons and six more have been added to the previous batch on my Flickr account. I have tried to arrange them in numerical order by page but won't guarantee that one or two are not out of order. Enjoy!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Vintage Advertising - Hair Pins

(from Modern Priscilla, April 1917)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Conversations I Would Prefer Not to Have Had

Neighbor: Boy, your husband sure has a head for heights!

Me: What?

Neighbor: Thirty feet up a tree with a chainsaw? Man, you’d never catch me doing that.

Me: What?

Neighbor: Good thing he was wearing his hard hat when that last branch came down, wasn’t it?


(This is an only slightly modified version of two separate exchanges with two separate people this afternoon and, of course, was the first I heard about a tree, a hard hat, a chainsaw, or anything thereunto pertaining. I will wait until after supper to conduct the cross-examination).

Penny Puffs

This recipe for small, sweet rolls -- perfect for a tea party -- comes from an undated book called the "Home-Tried Cook Book." I am thinking pre-WWI but it's hard to tell. It's printed on flimsy paper and held together with twine, and the tone throughout is, well...stern.

"Soak 1 cake of yeast in warm water 1 hour. Dissolve 2 rounded tablespoons of lard, 2/3 cups sugar, 1 tablespoon salt in 2 cups boiling water. Let this cool and add 2 well-beaten eggs and yeast. Stiffen almost as stiff as bread, allow to raise a day before using (24 hours). If kept in a cool place the dough will keep for a week. Bake in gem pans.

"Make the puffs out in the middle of the morning when wanted for supper. Do not keep too warm while raising. In summer keep in the ice box exccept the puffs you intend to bake. The weather has much to do with success. Practice makes perfect."

And with all that lecturing, no time or temperature is given.

(image from Dover Publications Kate Greenaway clipart book)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Post hoc, ergo propter hoc

The facts are these:

1). There was an enormous black stranger cat sitting on our windowsill at four o'clock this morning.

2). Reserve Cat has two narrow parallel grooves running across his nose where the fur is gone.

You be the judges.


(photo courtesy

Friday, May 16, 2008

Quote of the Day

My face in the mirror isn't wrinkled or drawn.
My house isn't dirty, the cobwebs are gone.
My garden looks lovely and so does my lawn.
I think I will not put my glasses back on.

Mirror, by Carey Feldman

Thursday, May 15, 2008

One Sick Pup

There was a reason for the unusual docility exhibited here. Turns out Funnyface picked up a virus somewhere and the spousal unit had to haul him to the vet for various medications.

(He was weighed at her office and we learned that he'd lost 13 lbs. This is not good even in a very big dog).

But we're sure he's almost completely recovered; he started hustling the cats again yesterday.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Online Books-Little Folks' Handy Book, 1910

Another treat from Project Gutenberg! This book, written by Lina and Adelia Beard and published in 1910, is full of projects that would appeal to a child of any age. Check out the paper jewelry on page 19.

The chapter on spool toys has forts and doll furniture as well as the instructions and pattern for this little cart.

I haven't read the entire book yet; I'm saving it for my next rainy Saturday afternoon.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sewing - Four Aprons from 1916

"Besides having aprons that cover the dress well in doing housework, the woman in the home always finds it convenient to have on hand small fancy aprons that she may wear while sewing or while serving guests, or that she may lend to her guests. Such aprons in many instances add greatly to a woman's neatness and are generally a great source of satisfaction to them. Of course, small aprons can hardly be considered so necessary as the house aprons already considered, yet no woman really feels that her wardrobe is complete unless she is the possessor of a few dainty aprons."

This particular copy of Fancy Aprons and Sunbonnets was published by the Woman's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences of Scranton, PA, in 1916. The first twenty pages, containing complete instructions for drafting the patterns for the four aprons pictured above, may be downloaded from my Flickr account.

The remainder of the booklet, containing instructions for eight more aprons, a clothespin bag, two sunbonnets and a sunhat, will be published over the next two Tuesdays.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Model Kitchen

"A GENERAL ELECTRIC KITCHEN OF MAGIC. Incomparable efficiency, luxurious convenience and new economy. Where human hands "direct" and magic G-E servants "do." A complete General Electric Kitchen is an economical investment that adds a much greater actual cash value to your house than the price you pay." (The New Art of Modern Cookery, 1936).

Who wouldn't want to cook in a kitchen like this?

This is another little cookbook with mouth-watering illustrations, but the recipes are pretty standard 1930's domestic-science, woman's-magazine fare. These cookies look pretty good, though.


1 c. brown sugar
1 c. molasses
1 c. shortening
1 T. ginger
1/2 t. salt
1 t. soda
2 t. baking powder
1/4 c. water
2 eggs
4 to 5 cups flower (do not make too stiff)

1. Mix the first three ingredients and bring to the boiling point. Add the soda and ginger. Stir until dissolved. Cool. 2. When cool add the eggs. Beat well. Then add the sifted dry ingredients alternately with water. 3. Chill or store in refrigerator. 4. Roll 1/3 inch thick. Cut and arrange on cookie sheet.

Temperature 400 degrees Time 10-12 minutes Yield 3 dozen

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Big Basket + Warm Laundry = Kitty Heaven

And it serves me right for being the kind of lazy, shiftless housekeeper who does not immediately fold the clothes and put them away.

Online Sewing Books-Modern Pattern Design, 1942

This book is absolutely invaluable to anyone who is attempting to copy early 1940's fashions. Ms. Pepin walks the reader through every step of the way, starting with basic sloper construction. The chapters cover blouses, jackets, skirts, trousers and dresses, evening gowns and lingerie.

The rest of the site is well worth exploring; it is categorized by decade and includes sewing and millinery books from the turn of the last century through the 1950's. The What's New page lists the most recent offerings as well as works in progress. It's a favorite site of mine.

Best of all, it's free (although donations are accepted).


(photo courtesy of

Friday, May 9, 2008

Another Cardiovascular Workout

You know, if I just did this a couple of times a day...maybe as a work break?

Quote of the Day

“She could spin both on the little and on the great wheel; and there were numberless towels, napkins, sheets and pillowcases in the household store that could attest the skill of her pretty fingers. She had worked several samplers of such rare merit that they hung framed in different rooms of the house, exhibiting every variety and style of possible letter in the best marking-stitch. She was skillful in all sewing and emboridery, in all shaping and cutting, with a quiet and deft handiness that constantly surprised her energetic mother, who could not conceive that so much could be done with so little noise.” (The Minister’s Wooing, Harriet Beecher Stowe)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Vintage Comics -- Ella Cinders

"Why, I wouldn't have any more fun than an orphan with the mumps at a pickle-eating contest" is just a sample of the snappy dialogue in these 1925 strips. Take a look at Ella and her adventures here.

And when she finally wins fame and fortune, her clothes are pretty nifty!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Knitting - A 1954 Coat in Novelty Wool

"Our tricky Little Minx Coat -- a cleverly conceived fashion to wear with pride. Wear it casually flared -- or as a wrap-up with a big jewel to hold it snugly to you. Any which way you prefer, it will enhance that very special occasion."

It's from Smart Knitting, 14th Edition, 1954, and while it wouldn't be authentic, I could see this in a Colinette yarn. Two pages of instructions start here.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Strange Bedfellows

The Drama Queen will of course have nothing to do with this shameless display of inter-species affection.

Sewing - A Tweed Handbag from 1955

"Make a handsome handbag in either wool or cotton tweed. This roomy bag may be the answer to your fall handbag problem. Simply-shaped pieces which set together like a song will result in a handsome bag of which you can be proud."

It is from Smart Sewing, 9th Edition, 1955. Three pages of instructions start here. When you print off the pattern make sure it comes out as 8.5 x 11 inches or the pieces may not fit together.

Edited to add: My apologies! The magazine is actually dated 1954, not 1955.

Edited again (9/7/09): Check here for a coat pattern to match.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

He'd make a good gun dog

Reserve Cat is amazingly soft-mouthed. At least that's the only explanation I have for his ability to bring home large birds, unwounded.

Fortunately, this one was a grackle, a "trash" bird that I particularly detest.

Unfortunately, he turned it loose in the house. Again. There may be a better cardiovascular work-out than chasing a grackle around the kitchen with a dishtowel for five minutes, but I can't think of one.

"Arabian Peach Mold"

This little booklet was published in 1939 by a consortium of food companies (Log Cabin, Post, Maxwell House) and was aimed at commercial rather than home cooks.

"Good menu making is one sign of a progressive food operator. Successful meals are as dependent on intelligent planning as they are on wise buying of materials and careful supervision of workers."

Note there is no mention of actual good cooking.

These food operators were being instructed that a meal consisting of a cheese souffle made with Minute Tapioca, a baking powder biscuit, and a molded Jello "salad" would really wow the hungry business lunch crowd or the occupants of a residential hotel and bring them back for more.

Recipe proportions were designed to feed three or four dozen at a whack. Why this particular gelatin dish is called "Arabian" escapes me, except that to the Western mind, spices like cinnamon and cloves have always been associated with "the rich and glowing East," as Norman Douglas once wrote.

This is actually one of the better offerings.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

A modest announcement

I quit my job.


Friday, May 2, 2008

Is there anyone out there from Manchester?

I need a translation of panel one!

Fingers crossed

The breeder informed us this week that she lost another pup (two had died already). We are tail-end Charlie on the owner list so we may not get our little girl.

The Drama Queen is pleased.

Quote of the Day

"Necessity is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves." (William Pitt)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Spring has Sprung

Giving me an excuse to post a bunch of irrelevant photographs. You will see that our view to the back is of the lumber yard across the alley. When we first moved here we planted Bradford pears along the fence line but the power company made us cut them down.

The Drama Queen loves to tear flowers to shreds but only if they are in vases. She pretty much leaves the garden alone.

Funnyface is right where they like him (behind the fence). You will note that Reserve Cat is missing his collar. It is a quick-release collar with a bell and a shiny ID tag and he hates it. Funnyface obliges by chewing it off of him. We can usually find it somewhere in the backyard. Goodness, that patio needs weeding.

Tatting - A Centerpiece from 1924

This centerpiece was published in the September 1924 issue of Needlecraft, and the instructions are here and here. I like the hens and chicks pattern used for the edging.