Thursday, December 31, 2009

How To Bring In The New Year With A Bang Dep't

And a happy, healthy 2010 to us all.


The Online Bookshelf - Monsters of Mars

They look more like monsters of Lake Okechobee to me. And what are those fellows in the fancy lace-up boots doing? The answer, possibly, at Project Gutenberg.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Patterns of the Past - "Color, Color Everywhere"

A cheerful pattern from McCall's, found in Needlework & Crafts, the summer edition, 1940. Left-click to enlarge.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tatting--Some Motifs for Household Linens

The two motifs shown come from a very-much-the-worse-for-wear, four-page remnant of what is probably a Coats & Clarks tatting booklet from the mid-to-late 1940's. I started No. 8917, made a hash of the middle, and am trying it again -- the Mission thrift shop had a basket of vintage #30 tatting cotton last week at two for a buck so I have several colors from which to choose (the shop also had a baggie filled with the World's Ugliest Orphan Earrings for a dollar ninety-nine but that's a post for another day).

Instructions on my Flickr account.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Curse You, Brett Favre

I want to go to bed, we have one tv, it's in the bedroom and the damn game just went into OT.

Vintage Greeting Cards - New Year's

Some French kitties wishing us all a Happy New Year from the amazing collection at Mazaika.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Vengeance is Mine, Sayeth the Kitteh

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

I was trying to get some work done on the computer and someone kept trying to crawl up onto my chest. After I had deposited her back on the floor for about the third time, she went away and left me....

....left me, that is, in order to go into the dining room, drag my new black microfiber raincoat down from the back of the chair where I'd left it, curl her grey-white-and-brown hairy little backside up in the middle of it, and go to sleep.

Recipe for Holiday Entertainment


one paper gift bag, large size


one sheet of tissue paper


one cat

Saturday, December 26, 2009


Friday, December 25, 2009

Quote of the Day

How silently, how silently the wondrous gift was giv'n...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Spirit

(hat-tip to TKWKIWDBI).


The Online Bookshelf - Vintage Treasures from Patricia

This and several other craft books on Patricia's site, Agence Eureka. And no, you don't have to parler to enjoy them. Be sure to scroll down and look at everything!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Because It Wouldn't Be Christmas Without Pogo

Patterns of the Past - Just for T-Mom

First issued by the McCall's company in 1952, some of man's best friends to cross-stitch. Left click to enlarge or go to my Flickr account.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sewing - Vintage Collars

As promised, I have scanned the chapter on using bias tape from a late 20's or possibly very early 30's sewing book from the Spool Cotton Company; it can be downloaded from my Flickr account. Three pages of illustrations on making collars from bias tape are included (left-click on the above for more detail). If I have time this weekend I'll scan the rest of the booklet.

Monday, December 21, 2009

More Christmas Clipart

(copyright-free images from Dover Publications).

Sunday, December 20, 2009

One Thousand Years Over A Hot Stove

I’m not rejecting this book out of hand; as the curate said of the egg, parts of it are excellent. Unfortunately the author is a journalist and not a scholar, and a pretty superficial writer to boot. Throughout the book she repeats all of the conventional wisdoms on traditional women’s roles without exploring the history on which said conventional wisdoms are based. Prepare to be annoyed by frequent sweeping generalizations and woolly thinking.

At the beginning of the book Schenone gets a bit too Earth-Mother-Corn-Goddess for me, although I recognize there are those who like that sort of thing (and if you don’t like that sort of thing, skip most of the Introduction). In fairness to the writer, the book is lively and wide-ranging, with interesting recipes and some intriguing bits of American food-folklore…but… this information is tainted (at least for me) by the many, many errors I found.

This is my chief problem with the book. Could her publishers not afford the services of a competent copy editor who might have (among other things), pointed out to Schenone that the word pilgrim is commonly used to refer to 15th century emigrants to New England rather than Virginia, and Martha Stewart is a media icon and not a scion?

When I see silly mistakes like these it makes me wonder what else she got wrong.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

This Is Now My Favorite Version

At about the 2 minute and 30 second mark when they really start to let rip, I defy you to stay in your seat.


(I am of course wondering what was involved in getting that red nose on the cat. I wish I'd had something similar at the last clinic we had; almost all of the children were there for the second shot and I was wearing a set of brown fuzzy plush antlers to lighten the mood. I was not alone; a very senior member of management from our local Big Corporation was present as a volunteer, and he was wearing a green velvet watchcap with a huge gold star sproinging up out of it. I'm so sorry I didn't get a picture).

Friday, December 18, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Online Bookshelf - Perez the Mouse

An epic tale of gallantry and derring-do, from Project Gutenberg.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Just A Hunch, Really

(Scene: a departmental holiday party. Co-workers chatting).

She: And then I went into the living room this morning and my tree had fallen over!

Me: Do you own a cat?

She: Why does everyone ask that?

Patterns of the Past - "French-Style" Gloves

What makes them French? Well, there's an Eiffel Tower in the advertisement...

(It has been ten degrees F below freezing since Monday night so I thought instead of the lovely embroidery pattern with the hollyhocks on it, I would post something a bit more seasonal).

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sewing - Some 1950's Belts to Make

From Sewing Made Easy by Mary Lynch and Dorothy Sara, first published in 1950. Two pages of ideas on my Flickr account -- Mary and Dorothy's instructions assume you already know how to sew.

(There is a used book store three blocks from my office; I did some serious damage to my wallet last Friday. One of my prizes is a late 20's sewing book with some amazing collars to be made with bias tape. That's for next week).

Monday, December 14, 2009

Vintage Greeting Cards - Christmas

(copyright-free images from Dover Publications).

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Good Cheer

At this time of year many of us are looking for tasty dishes to take along to holiday parties. I thought I would list some family favorites.

Cocktail Sausages in Hot Horseradish Cream

2 – 16 oz packages Li’l Smokies or other cocktail sausages
1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise (I use Hellman's)
2 T. prepared horseradish such as Inglehofer's

Cook the sausages per the package directions and place in a chafing dish or slow cooker to stay warm. Heat the sour cream and mayonnaise together over medium-low heat or on low power in the microwave until the mixture begins to bubble around the edges. Don’t let it boil or the sour cream may separate. Remove from the heat and stir in two tablespoons of horseradish. Pour over the sausages and serve with toothpicks for spearing.

My mother used to substitute little meatballs for half of the sausages. If you use raw grated horseradish, start with about two teaspoons and add to taste. It should make you aware of its presence but not be overpowering.

Cucumbers in Creamy Dressing

“Peel and slice thin 4-6 cukes. “ “ “ 1 large onion. In enamel or pottery bowl sprinkle with salt – leave 1-2 hours. Drain – rinse – drain. Creamy Dressing – 1 ½ c. Miracle Whip, 2-3 T vinegar, ½ c. sugar (I use ¼ ). Pour over cukes – chill 2-3 hours.”

(The above is transcribed from my mother’s handwriting. I haven't had this in years but it's very, very good, and an excellent way to dress those sorry bland excuses for cucumbers that are all you can find in the stores at this time of year).

Tea Eggs

8 – 10 eggs
2 T. soy sauce
2 t. star anise
1 stick cinnamon
2 t. black tea leaves (about 1 tea bag)
1 t. sugar
1 t. salt

Cover eggs with cold water to a depth of 1 inch. Bring to a boil, cover the pan and reduce the heat. Simmer for 10 minutes. Rinse them in cold water until they are cool enough to handle, and drain. Tap the eggshells gently all over with the back of a spoon until they are a network of fine cracks. Return the eggs to the saucepan and add the remaining ingredients and 2 cups of cold water. Bring to the boil again and reduce heat. Simmer, covered, about two hours, adding boiling water to keep eggs covered, if necessary. Drain and chill well. Peel the eggs before serving them.

Bleu Cheese Dip

From the spousal unit’s mother, and simplest of all. Mix a 2-cup carton of sour cream with half a package of crumbled bleu cheese (about 2 ounces). Allow to sit for about fifteen minutes to let the bleu cheese work. This is delicious with chips, pretzel and raw vegetables but the bleu cheese flavor gets more pronounced the longer it sits. Best eaten the same day, and if you thin this with a little mayo it’s a great dressing for a wedge of iceberg lettuce.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Friday, December 11, 2009

Quote of the Day

Lo! how the stars all vocal in his praise, Witness his Essence in celestial lays! ~ Phillis Wheatley

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cold Hands, Cold Heart

Someone came in from walking the dogs last night and put his hand down the back of my neck. In most parts of the Midwest that's grounds for homicide (let alone divorce).

The Online Bookshelf - Perrault's Fairy Tales

With some oddly Beardsley-like illustrations by Harry Clarke; can be downloaded from Project Gutenberg.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Patterns of the Past - A 1930's Classic

I love this dress, from an unknown mail-order pattern company. From the hairstyle and length of the hem, I'm guessing right at or just before 1935. Left-click to enlarge or go to my Flickr account.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Crochet and Knitting - Some Quickly-Made Gifts

From the American Thread Company, 260 West Broadway, New York, NY. Check out page 11 - because everybody needs a bottlecap hotpad for Christmas. May be downloaded from my Flickr account.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Vintage Trade Cards - Toiletries

(copyright-free images from Dover).

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Then and Now

Strawberry Bavarian Cream, 1915

1 envelope Knox Sparkling Gelatine
1 cup cold water
1 cup strawberry juice and pulp
1 tablespoonful lemon juice
½ cup sugar
1 ½ cups heavy cream, beaten until stiff

“Soak gelatine in cold water five minutes, and dissolve by standing cup containing mixture in hot water. Strain strawberry juice mixed with lemon juice. Add sugar, and when the sugar is dissolved set bowl containing mixture in pan of ice water and stir until mixture begins to thicken; then fold in cream. Turn into wet mold lined with strawberries cut in halves, and chill. Garnish with fruit, selected strawberries and leaves. A delicious cream may also be made with canned strawberries.”

Jello Cream Pie, 1993

“Mix 1 package Strawberry Jello with 2/3 cup boiling water. Mix until completely dissolved, about 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup cold water and enough ice cubes to make 1 1/4 cup. Stir until slightly thickened. Remove any remaining ice. Gently fold in 1 container of Cool-Whip. Refrigerate about 10 minutes, until filling will mound. Spoon into a graham cracker crust. Chill at least 2 hours.”

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Friday, December 4, 2009

Manners and Modes


(From Punch, January 1920).

Quote of the Day

If at first you don't succeed, try again. Then quit. No sense being a damn fool about it. ~ W.C. Fields.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Online Bookshelf - Chicken World

Giving Project Gutenberg a week off -- this book is from the Brooklyn Public Library online, and irresistible even for non-chicken lovers (and if you poke around a bit you'll find a nifty railroad book, too).

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Patterns of the Past - Kitchen Embroideries from 1941

Embroidery patterns and an apron from the Summer, 1941 issue of McCall's Needlework and Crafts.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Knitting - A Bedspread and Edging from 1915

A knitted bedspread and edging from Home Needlework magazine, August 1915. Instructions can be downloaded from my Flickr account.

For a list of vintage knitting terms, please go to Sarah Bradberry's site.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Vintage Travel - Chicago

(Copyright-free images from Dover).

Sunday, November 29, 2009

“Hey, Watch Me Do This…”

There is an urban myth to the effect that this phrase is the single most common prelude to a 911 call. I sometimes think that there is a culinary equivalent -- somebody reaches into a cupboard and pulls out something, usually some type of soup, and then tries to demonstrate that this really will work, honest. Many of these people are employed by major food companies but others (like the person who developed the pastrami egg roll recipe I recently ran across) have no such excuse.

There is a weird fascination to these recipes that compels an otherwise sane person to try them. And, oddly enough, most of them involve a slow cooker.

(warning: do not try these at home. Actually, do try them, and then let me know how they turn out, because I certainly can’t get away with serving any of them to the spousal unit. He firmly believes that life in this vale of tears would be much more bearable if I would limit myself to cooking only those dishes his mother used to make).

Tomato Soup Chicken

1 package frozen chicken pieces
1 can tomato soup

“Dump one package of frozen chicken pieces into a crockpot. Add one can of tomato soup. Cook on high for 6 ½ hours.”

Awesome Slow Cooker Pot Roast

2 (10.75 oz) cans of cream of mushroom soup
1 (1 ounce) package of dried onion soup mix
1 ¼ cups water
5 ½ lb pot roast

“In the slow cooker, mix cream of mushroom soup, dry onion soup mix and water. Place pot roast in slow cooker and coat with soup mixture. Cook on High setting for 3 to 4 hours, or on Low setting for 8 to 9 hours.”

Apricot Chicken

1 bottle Russian dressing (16 oz)
1 envelope onion soup mix
1 jar apricot preserves (10 oz)
4 –6 pieces chicken
seasoned salt and pepper to taste

“Combine Russian dressing, apricot preserves and onion soup mix in bowl and pour into the crockpot. Sprinkle the chicken with seasoned salt and pepper. Place chicken, skin side down, in slow cooker. Cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours (HIGH 3 to four hours).”

I believe the above recipe is also called Chicken Awful-Awful. If anyone has a personal favorite candidate for Recipe Least Likely To Succeed, send it to me, please. I promise to post the worst ones.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Friday, November 27, 2009

The Morning After

If I had not married a teetotaller, I would not have had to drink that entire bottle of Prosecco myself.

Quote of the Day

Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. Luke 12:15

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The First Thanksgiving

"One of our most important holidays is Thanksgiving Day, known in France as le Jour de Merci Donnant.

Le Jour de Merci Donnant was first started by a group of Pilgrims (Pèlerins) who fled from l'Angleterre before the McCarran Act to found a colony in the New World (le Nouveau Monde) where they could shoot Indians (les Peaux-Rouges) and eat turkey (dinde) to their heart's content.

They landed at a place called Plymouth (now a famous voiture Américaine) in a wooden sailing ship called the Mayflower (or Fleur de Mai) in 1620. But while the Pèlerins were killing the dindes, the Peaux-Rouges were killing the Pèlerins, and there were several hard winters ahead for both of them. The only way the Peaux- Rouges helped the Pèlerins was when they taught them to grow corn (maïs).The reason they did this was because they liked corn with their Pèlerins.

In 1623, after another harsh year, the Pèlerins' crops were so good that they decided to have a celebration and give thanks because more maïs was raised by the Pèlerins than Pèlerins were killed by Peaux-Rouges.

Every year on the Jour de Merci Donnant, parents tell their children an amusing story about the first celebration.

It concerns a brave capitaine named Miles Standish (known in France as Kilomètres Deboutish) and a young, shy lieutenant named Jean Alden. Both of them were in love with a flower of Plymouth called Priscilla Mullens (no translation). The vieux capitaine said to the jeune lieutenant:

"Go to the damsel Priscilla (allez très vite chez Priscilla), the loveliest maiden of Plymouth (la plus jolie demoiselle de Plymouth). Say that a blunt old captain, a man not of words but of action (un vieux Fanfan la Tulipe), offers his hand and his heart, the hand and heart of a soldier. Not in these words, you know, but this, in short, is my meaning.

"I am a maker of war (je suis un fabricant de la guerre) and not a maker of phrases. You, bred as a scholar (vous, qui êtes pain comme un étudiant), can say it in elegant language, such as you read in your books of the pleadings and wooings of lovers, such as you think best adapted to win the heart of the maiden."

Although Jean was fit to be tied (convenable à être emballé), friendship prevailed over love and he went to his duty. But instead of using elegant language, he blurted out his mission.Priscilla was muted with amazement and sorrow (rendue muette par l'étonnement et la tristesse).

At length she exclaimed, interrupting the ominous silence: "If the great captain of Plymouth is so very eager to wed me, why does he not come himself and take the trouble to woo me?" (Où est-il, le vieux Kilomètres? Pourquoi ne vient-il pas auprès de moi pour tenter sa chance?)

Jean said that Kilomètres Deboutish was very busy and didn't have time for those things. He staggered on, telling what a wonderful husband Kilomètres would make. Finally Priscilla arched her eyebrows and said in a tremulous voice, "Why don't you speak for yourself, Jean?" (Chacun à son goût.)

And so, on the fourth Thursday in November, American families sit down at a large table brimming with tasty dishes, and for the only time during the year eat better than the French do.

No one can deny that le Jour de Merci Donnant is a grande fête and no matter how well fed American families are, they never forget to give thanks to Kilomètres Deboutish, who made this great day possible."

(Art Buchwald, The International Herald Tribune, 1952).

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Nerds With Too Much Time On Their Hands Dep't

He does not realize that the cats called Mothra.

Patterns of the Past - Simplicity 7152

An embroidery pattern from 1946, intended for the neckline or pocket of a dress. Left-click to enlarge, or go to my Flickr account.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tatting - 6 Edgings and a Collar

Crochet & Tatted Edgings, published by the Lily Mills Company of Shelby, North Carolina ("Manufacturers of Famous Lily Sewing Threads"). Two pages of instructions can be found on my Flickr account.

I can't find a date but the collar in particular (a pattern for which is included) looks late '40's. Whenever it was published, it cost ten cents.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Seamstresses With Too Much Time On Their Hands Dep't

Seriously. She makes jackets for her cats. Scroll down to the third picture, there's one in camouflage.

Vintage Images - Thanksgiving

(Copyright-free images from Dover).

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Cat

The Drama Queen, photographed by me and transformed into a work of art by Martha Stewart.

(edited to add: if you're wondering why I chose to make a portrait of such a ferocious scowl, it's because she rarely manifests any other expression).

Staff of Life

Another fifty-cent treasure from the mission thrift shop, this one encouraging American housewives to explore the art of baking. It offered traditional recipes, such as this one for an oatmeal and molasses loaf;

...and up-to-date methods that allowed a busy homemaker to prepare the dough ahead of time.

And some that make me want to go straight into the kitchen and start baking.


(Better Homes and Gardens Homemade Bread Cook Book, published by Meredith Corporation, 1973. Left-click to enlarge, or go to my Flickr account).