Thursday, April 30, 2009

Why Grandma

What big teeth you have!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I Really Am Ashamed of Myself

...but I'm posting this link anyway.

Patterns of the Past-Embroidered Pillowcases

From McCall's Needlework and Crafts, Summer 1950. Love the pink roses.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Vintage Paper Crafts-Weaving Projects

Two pages of weaving projects from Paper Arts and Crafts for Teachers and Group Leaders, published sometime in the 1950's by the Dennison crepe paper company. The materials for these projects were crepe paper and cardboard. Left-click to enlarge or go to my Flickr account to download.

Four pages of general instructions for working with Dennison's products are here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Three Cheers and a Tiger

I chatted today with a volunteer who has just returned from North Dakota, where she spent four weeks making sandwiches for the high school and college students who showed up by the thousands to help the National Guard fill and stack sandbags.

(NYTimes photo by Dan Koeck).

She sincerely believes those kids saved their state.

Vintage Fruit Crate Labels

Some copyright-free crate labels from Dover Publications. That tomcat certainly has an evil expression on his face. I wonder what he did to the lemons?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Autres Temps, Autres Moeurs

These books were found during a recent stop at the local Habitat for Humanity resale store and are chock-full of advice on that most ticklish of mid-century social problems--entertaining.

James Beard's approach is the most laid-back; he offers his guests plenty of good things to eat and drink and assumes everything else will fall into place. The Good Housekeeping book is exhaustingly thorough and I'm going to have to include their Party Pointers for Juniors in another post.

The Betty Crocker book was published in 1959 and is subtitled How to Have Guests - And Enjoy Them. Here is Betty's opening lament:

"The lives of all of us have changed vastly since we watched our parents preparing for the first big party we can remember. This is true of brides as well as of the grandmothers among my readers. Almost without exception, our houses are smaller than those of our parents. Our clothes and manners are far more casual. And our entertaining is less formal, because most of us now care for our homes with little or no help."

Less formal being a relative term. How many middle-class American women give lunches like these, and with written invitations, no less?

"An invitation to lunch means that guests are expected to arrive promptly at the time mentioned, and leave about an hour after the meal is finished unless the hostess adds a specific invitation to stay longer, such as "Lunch at one, and bridge later," or "Lunch at twelve-thirty, and the rest of the afternoon sewing for the Red Cross."

"Table settings and decorations for lunch have their own special attractions and opportunities. No matter how formal a lunch may be, the table is set somewhat less formally than for a dinner party.

"Mats, runners, or the smaller tablecloths are preferred to great sweeping damask cloths. These may be of colored cotton, rough peasant linen, intricate cut-work, or delicately embroidered organdy, just so long as they are in keeping with the rest of the table setting.

"It looks a little strange to see heavy pottery plates, colorful and charming as they are, on exquisite lace-edged mats. Water glasses are chosen to match china in mood--fragile chrystal with fine thin china, simpler glassware with a pottery service."

(Modern mother had to count every penny, but since as a university professor's wife she was obliged to a certain degree to keep up appearances, she had three sets of china; Wedgewood for everyday, Noritake for entertaining, and Haviland for really special entertaining!)

"Flat silver is the exception to this rule. Knives and forks with novelty bone or wooden handles are suitable for a meal served on heavy chinaware or pottery, but it is entirely proper to use sterling flatware at any meal, from a backyard barbecue served on paper plates to the most formal of dinners."

Betty's suggested menu for a hostess with no maid is two courses only, something hot like a risotto or Shrimp de Jonghe, and a dessert.

"Lunch desserts usually are lighter and somewhat less fancy than those chosen for dinner. Fruit compote, small fruit tarts, chiffon pies, light puddings, fluffy gelatins, sherbet served with cookies are good choices. The rich, elaborate Charlotte Russes and the more complicated iced cakes usually are reserved for later in the day, but local custom and the appetites of your guests are the best guide. A delightful cake combined with fresh strawberries or any other berries in season is one I like to serve at lunch; it is one of the most striking as well as one of the most delicate and tempting final courses for lunch or dinner."

And it is made, of course, with a Betty Crocker boxed cake mix.

Berry Basket Cake. Bake Betty Crocker Yellow or White Cake Mix in two 9" layer pans as directed on package. Put one baked layer on a baking sheet; save second layer for another meal. Make meringues by beating 2 egg whites with 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar until foamy then gradually beating in 1/2 cup sugar. Pile mounds of meringue around the top of the cake for a basket effect. Bake in a 400 degree (mod. hot) oven 8 to 10 minutes. Serve warm or cold with sweetened fresh strawberries heaped in the center.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Sign of the Times

"ISO: Rabbit-proof fencing. Have had no luck with homemade sprays, and don't own a dog. Will pick up in B-N. Or if anyone has any suggestions about other ways to keep the little stinkers from savaging my garden, I'd appreciate it."

(the above appeared on our local Freecycle group this afternoon).


cool! cup-holders!
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Friday, April 24, 2009

No Good Can Possibly Come Of This

This is somewhat disturbing; I wonder what they're up to.

Nothing to see here. Move along.

Perhaps she's trying out some new mind-control technique?

Quote of the Day

If you’re too free, you’re like the way Hong Kong is now. It’s very chaotic. Taiwan is also chaotic. I’m gradually beginning to feel that we Chinese need to be controlled. If we’re not being controlled, we’ll just do what we want. Jackie Chan

(Photo by Jeff Widener, Associated Press)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Patterns of the Past-Doll Dresses and a Rag Doll

In 1952, twenty-five cents got you any of these patterns, for doll dresses in different sizes, and for a 35-inch rag-doll. From Modern Needlecraft, 17th ed. Left-click to enlarge, or go to my Flickr account to download a larger copy.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Just when you thought it was safe to admit you were from Illinois

Vintage Paper Crafts - Gumbos, Spoolies and Starchies

Animal crafts from the Dennison Crepe Paper Company's Paper Arts and Crafts for Teachers and Group Leaders. Left-click to enlarge, or go to my Flickr account to download.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Vintage Sheet Music Covers-Beau Geste

(copyright-free image from Dover Publications).

Sunday, April 19, 2009

"Catering For Two"

We tend to think of Victorian families as large and multi-generational, and as late as the 1920s recipes routinely provided amounts to serve six or more. This little book, by Mary Frances Harman, came out in 1898 and instead offers menus for newlyweds and empty nesters. This is a dinner that a middle-class housewife would serve her husband when they were tête-à-tête at suppertime. I think just two of any of the main dishes would probably suffice today.

Consomme with Rice
Oyster Pie
Pickled Cabbage. Grape Jelly
Egg Salad with Greens
Crackers. Cheese
Roly-Poly Peach Pudding
Egg Sauce
Tea or Coffee. Caramel Jelly.

Consomme with Rice. Get a shank of mutton weighing about two pounds, or two shanks weighing a pound each. Wipe with a damp cloth and cut off any dried outer skin, dredge with two tablespoonfuls of flour, pour on a quart of cold water, and, after soaking a few hours, simmer for several hours, covered closely.

Strain off this liquor, pour over the bones and meat enough cold water to cover, and cook again for another hour. Strain and add to the first quantity of liquor and throw away the bones and meat. Salt to taste, add an onion, carrot, and turnip, and cook until the vegetables are tender; these may be put away for a salad, and when the broth is cold, take off the cake of fat. There should be nearly a quart of solid jelly. Take a pint of this, add a tablespoonful of washed rice, and cook gently until the rice is tender.

A little minced parsley may be added at the last moment.

Oyster Pie. Twenty-five medium-sized freshened oysters. Slice very thin a cupful of raw potatoes, pour on them one cup of rich, sweet milk, cover the dish (of earthenware) closely, and cook on top of the stove until done. Do not stir them, but watch carefully that they do not burn.

When the potatoes are cool, place the oysters on top of them, pepper and salt lightly, add the oyster liquor and a tablespoonful of butter in small pieces. Place over all a cover of piecrust, made as follows, and bake in a very hot oven for fifteen minutes.

Sift toether a cup of flour and half a teaspoonful of salt and cut into it with a knife two heaping tablespoonfuls of lard as cold and hard as ice can make it.

When the lard is the size of peas, stir in with a fork four tablespoonfuls of ice-water, and mould quickly into a ball; flour the moulding-board, roll out once, cut a few little slits or fancy figures in the center, and lay upon the oysters. Trim off the overlapping edges and bake at one. Make any paste that is left into a little tart.

Pickled Cabbage. One cabbage, solid and crisp. Two ounces mustard seed. One heaping tablespoon of black pepper. Two tablespoonfuls of salt. One quart cider vinegar, three onions, one red pepper-pod, one tablespoonful sugar, one heaping tablespoonful mixed spices, whole cloves, cinnamon, allspice and a speck of mace. Tie the spices in a piece of cheesecloth, leaving plenty of room.

Chop the cabbage, or if preferred, shave into ribbons, put it with the onions and the pepper-pod chopped fine into an earthen crock, in alternate layers with the salt, pepper and mustard-seed.

Stamp with a potato masher, to press all together closely but not hard enough to bruise the cabbage. Put the bag of spices on top, and over the whole lay a heavy plate, pouring the vinegar on at the last. Put on the cover of the jar and set in a cool place. It will be ready for the table in a few days, and will keep for months in cool weather if made before the frost sets in.

Roly-Poly Pudding (Baked). Sift together one cup of flour, one teaspoonful of baking powder, and half a teaspoonful of salt. Chop this with a scant half-cup of suet (ice-cold) and mix quickly with two thirds of a cup of ice-cold water.

Mould into a long roll and roll out on a floured moulding-board as thin as it will hold together.

Have ready three or four peeled and sliced fine juicy peaches (canned will do), cover the paste with them, dredge lightly with flour, and roll up like a jelly roll.

Place in an earthen dish and bake in a moderately hot oven for three quarters of an hour.

Serve hot with the following sauce; cream with a fork a half-cup of sweet butter, add a cupful of granulated sugar, and stir well; then add the yolk of a small egg and stir, then the frothed white, whipping the whole until very light. Now add a quarter-cupful of boiling water, set over the teakettle, and cook and stir for several minutes. It should be a little thick, and quite foamy.

Flavor with a tablespoonful of wine or brandy, or vanilla to taste.

A copy of this book -- should you wish to try any of the other menus -- can be downloaded (free) from Google Books.

(copyright-free Edwardian flower image from Dover Publications).

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Mind Boggles

Yes, it's knitted. And it's on display at the Georgia Museum of Art.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Quote of the Day

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Cats seem to go on the principle that it never does any harm to ask for what you want. Joseph Wood Krutch

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I'd like to thank the Academy...

Last week I entered a haiku contest at Erin's wonderful site, A Dress A Day. The subject was pockets. Perhaps not surprisingly, I wrote about cats.

Pocket—something there?
Feel doe-soft ears and paw pads;
Kitten stowaway!

And I won. A copy of Singer Perfect Plus from Erin and a coupon from Jen at MOMSPatterns.

(I wonder if I have to share it with them).

Patterns of the Past - For a 50's Baby

From McCall's Needlework and Crafts, Summer 1950, two layette patterns and one for a lavishly ruffled bassinet. Left-click to enlarge, or go to my Flickr account.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Vintage Paper Crafts - Dennison's Crepe Paper Puppets

From Dennison Paper Arts and Crafts for Teachers and Group Leaders, some puppets to make of crepe paper and paper bags. Undated, but sometime in the 1950's. Left-click to enlarge or go to my Flickr account to download.

Four pages of general instructions for using Dennison crepe paper start here.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Vintage Book Illustrations-The Ridin' Kid From Powder River

A Project Gutenberg western - frontispiece from The Ridin' Kid From Powder River, circa 1919.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

I guess I should stop complaining about the Drama Queen

Spring Suppers

From the Woman's World Book of Tested Sunday Dinners, a menu redolent of springtime, from the shad (April is the month that the shad traditionally start running), to the new potatoes and fresh asparagus, the dandelion salad, and the rhubarb pie.

In this part of the country, at least, it's too early for the potatoes, the asparagus, or the rhubarb from the home garden, but enterprising Southern nurserymen would have been shipping their produce north. It's also a little too early for dandelion salad but personally I would prefer to skip any foodstuff that comes with the warning "Be sure to get out all the blades of grass which cook to most unpleasant strings."

The menu for next Sunday looks even more delicious, with chicken, hot biscuits, angel cake and strawberries. As it so happened, we had angel cake and strawberries last night (but not Chicken en Casserole. I spent most of the day at a Red Cross seminar on international humanitarian law, so the spousal unit cooked and that meant manly food. We had grilled hamburgers).

Left click to enlarge, or go to my Flickr account to download. The rhubarb filling, which is on one of the supplementary recipes page at the back of the book, is below.

"Filling for Rhubarb Pie. Cut off green tops and the root ends of rhubarb and put in cold water for an hour before using to stiffen up the stalks. If it is strawberry rhubarb or the tender early green kind, do not skin, but be sure to skin the tough thick sort. Cut in inch pieces, sufficient to make 3 cups. Cover with boiling water and let stand for 10 minutes, if old, but only 5 minutes for the tender sort. Drain well, mix with 1 ½ cups sugar, 1 tablespoons cornstarch and a few grains salt, put in the paste-lined pie plate and add lattice strips."

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Birthday Girl

...who is pooped from supervising the spousal unit's yard work all day. Look at the size of those feet; she's still growing into them.


O, brudder.  I gotz to kwit teh katnip.<br />Srsiosly.
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Friday, April 10, 2009

Tatting - 25 Motif Challenge

An edging from one of my old McCall's Needlework & Crafts from the 1940's. Pattern is still (probably) under copyright. Needle-tatted with an extra fine needle in DMC #12 Coton Perle from Village Stitches, and reverse-imaged to create a bookmark with a length of grosgrain ribbon.

Left-click for a larger image.

Quote of the Day

I never had any other desire so strong, and so like to covetousness, as that one which I have had always, that I might be master at last of a small house and a large Garden. Abraham Cowley

(vintage garden image from Patricia at Agence Eureka).

Thursday, April 9, 2009

I Couldn't Possibly Make This Up

The spousal unit is now on the shady side of fifty, and today on the recommendation of his doctor, he went in for a colonoscopy. The name of the specialist who performed the procedure? Dr. Quazi.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

He's just big-boned

Everybuddy nos fur ways moor den fat.  I iz just vary, vary fluffy.  Das all.
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Coincidentally, Reserve Cat went to the vet's yesterday for his shots and weighed in at 14.3 lbs. The Drama Queen also picked up a few pounds this winter, so it's Iams Adult Lite as soon as the present bag is finished.

He wailed all the way there (he wants to ride in the seat next to me, not the cat-carrier) but switched it off and turned on the purr as soon as I let him out in the examination room, charming the socks off the staff. Dr. Tinyvet cooed over him and called him "perfect," and she gave him a teaspoon of gushy-food for being so brave about his shots.

Then we came home and he went outside and slew a white-throated sparrow.

Patterns of the Past-"Russian" Embroidery, 1943

Pattern from McCall's Needlework and Crafts, Summer 1943. After the war was over and we were back to hating the Russians, I'm sure it was advertised as Mexican or even Swedish.

Ok, so I'm cynical; but I remember once walking through a local fabric store and seeing a rack of boldly patterned "ethnic" prints touted as Navajo and then later that same day, finding the same fabric at another store being advertised as African.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Vintage Paper Crafts - Dennison Crepe Paper Flowers and a "Starchy"

Paper flowers and an Easter centerpiece from Dennison's Here's an Idea, Spring issue, 1956. Two pages of instructions for the flowers as well as instructions for the "starchy" centerpiece may be downloaded from my Flickr account.

Monday, April 6, 2009

No Translation Necessary

I mean, c'mon, people. It's the 6th of April.

Vintage Clipart - Easter Cards

copyright-free images from Dover.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Thirty-Minute Meals

A recent thrifting find was this little book, produced by our old friends the Culinary Arts Institute of Chicago, and first published in 1954 (reprinted in 1959 and 1964) to help “…the working woman, busy with career and apartment; the homemaker whose day is filled with community, club, home and family activities; the hostess whose guests sometimes arrive without notice.”

This spread is luscious but I don’t think even Rachel Ray could produce it in thirty minutes unless she’d done a lot of prep the night before.

The recipes are a pretty standard selection, typically for the time a little heavy on the monosodium glutamate (Accent™ was introduced in the U.S. in 1947), but there is at least one that thoroughly baffles me:

Tomatoes with Banana Topper. Wash, remove stem ends and cut into halves crosswise 2 large tomatoes. Brush with melted butter or margarine. Sprinkle salt over tomato halves. Peel and slice 1 banana. Overlap banana slices on buttered tomato halves. Sprinkle ¼ cup grated cheddar cheese over bananas. Broil until cheese melts (20 minutes).”


Oddly, the book does not offer any suggested menus; it’s set up in the usual fashion with sections for breads, main dishes, salads, desserts, etc. The only way this differs from a conventional cookbook is that it provides cooking times for each recipe, so how useful is this for who is looking for help in getting a decent meal on the table in half an hour?

Still, it’s a keeper, if only for this illustration from the salads chapter, which just cracks me up.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


(image courtesy of the LOLCats).

Friday, April 3, 2009

Quote of the Day

"Now she entered the church depressed and humiliated, not even able to remember whether it was built by the Franciscans or the Dominicans. Of course, it must be a wonderful building. But how like a barn! And how very cold! Of course, it contained frescoes by Giotto, in the presence of whose tactile values she was capable of feeling what was proper. But who was to tell her which they were? She walked about disdainfully, unwilling to be enthusiastic over monuments of uncertain authorship or date. There was no one even to tell her which, of all the sepulchral slabs that paved the nave and transepts, was the one that was really beautiful, the one that had been most praised by Mr. Ruskin.

Then the pernicious charm of Italy worked on her, and, instead of acquiring information, she began to be happy."

(E.M. Forster, A Room With A View)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

It's Hard To Dodge When You're On Your Stomach

The Drama Queen could not resist the lure of the cardboard box in which our new tiller was shipped.

Funnyface could not resist the lure of the Drama Queen in the cardboard box.

I could not resist the lure of filming them fight over the box...but I should have.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

International Tatting Day?

I didn't know that today was International Tatting Day (in fact, I didn't know that there even was an International Tatting Day).

The Antique Pattern Library recently added two pre-1923 tatting books to their (free, download-able) online collection. The Farnes book is almost all filet crochet with one page of tatted monograms is at the very end.

There are almost four dozen tatting patterns in Emmy Liebert's book, SchiffchenArbeit. However, not only are they in German but the book was printed in Fraktur which is going to make it a real challenge to read. Two or three of the motifs look like they're well worth the effort it will take to translate them.

Paws de Deux

The Drama Queen has introduced Funnyface to a new game. It starts after we are in bed and the lights are out and involves him chasing her from the front room, down the hall, into the bedroom, where she races up the side of the bed and briefly perches on my hip (I'm a side-sleeper), pivots, runs back down the side of the bed and shoots out into the hall again. They then repeat this four or five times.

Four years of college, a post-graduate degree, and twenty-one years in the Marines have come down to this; I am a skateboard ramp for a cat.

Patterns of the Past - Togs for Schooldays

Children's patterns from Needlecraft, June 1914. Can you imagine wearing the outfit on the right and not getting beaten up on the playground?

Left-click to enlarge, or download from my Flickr account.