Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Knitting and Crochet-Sunsuits from 1948

From Smart Knitting, 4th Edition, published 1948. Matching sunsuits for a pair of little girls, but one is knitted and one is crocheted. Two pages of instructions can be downloaded from my Flickr account.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Vintage Advertising-Bird's Custard

From Woman and Home, June 1953. Contents included directions for knitting a classic twinset, a recipe for "A Novelty Gateau for your Coronation Party" and ads for Peak Frean biscuits, Brooke Bond tea and Crosse & Blackwell's Salad Cream.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

How to write a thank you note

1. Open box that arrives in mail.

2. Remove cat from box. Close lid of box securely.

3. Place box on table and go find stationery.

4. Remove cat from table.

5. Place notepad and pen on table.

6. Chase cat down and remove ball of yarn that he swiped from box. Close lid of box securely.

7. Go back to table and sit down in front of notepad and pen.

8. Remove cat from chair. Find first aid kit and apply disinfectant to scratches on back of leg.

9. Go back to table, check chair for cat, and sit down in front of notepad and pen.

10. Remove cat from box and forcibly detach him from the package of bias tape he has in his mouth. Close lid of box securely.

11. Sit back down and pick up pen.

12. Take pen away from cat and push him off table.

13. Throw away first piece of paper with streaks and blobs of ink and get a new piece of paper.

14. Chase cat down and again remove ball of yarn. Rewind yarn.

15. Put cat in bathroom and close bathroom door securely. Return to table and start again at step 11.

Repeat as necessary.

Crop Report

It has been very hot here this past week. The broccoli shot its bolt as did the sugar snap peas, although I may get one more picking out of those. The mid-summer vegetables—tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers—are showing signs of what’s to come. I’ve picked the first zucchini, and we’ll have green beans later this week.

The potatoes are still holding strong but the cauliflower came on all at once and the spousal unit has already picked it, blanched it, bagged it, and tossed in the freezer. I intercepted two cupfuls for this pickle.

Hot Ginger Pickles

¼ c water
¼ c Japanese rice vinegar
¼ c sugar (or equivalent in your sweetener of choice)
Heaping teaspoon grated ginger (fresh or jarred, not the dried stuff)
1 small jalapeno, sliced
2 cups cauliflower florets, more or less

Blanch and shock the cauliflower and put it in a non-reactive covered container. Bring the water, sugar and vinegar to a boil. Stir in the ginger, a pinch of salt, and about three slices of jalapeno, more if you like it very hot (or leave it out entirely if you prefer). Pour the water/vinegar mixture over the cauliflower florets, cover, flip upside down and shake to distribute. Refrigerate until cold and remove the jalapeno before serving.

This is really more of a marinade than a pickle and is best eaten the same day. I was given the recipe years ago when I was stationed in California by a colleague’s wife. She called them Japanese pickles and they are kissin’ cousins to the fresh vegetable pickles my mother’s family used to serve on hot summer days down South (Texas and South Carolina), when ladies would pour boiling vinegar over sliced cucumbers and onions and then shave a hot pepper pod over the bowl.

(vintage crate label from Dover Publications).

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Friday, June 26, 2009

Quote of the Day

(AP photo).

It is impossible to wash blood with blood.~ Iranian proverb

Thursday, June 25, 2009


I admit, I'd like to see this myself (courtesy Popehat).

I Don't Play Chess

..but if I did this is the kind I'd like to play.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Hole-in-the-Screen Gang Rides Again

We got back from Seattle to find a domicile unexpectedly and completely cat-less.

Reserve Cat showed up immediately, almost quivering with joy at our return. The Drama Queen allowed the spousal unit to roam the neighborhood, calling her name, for about twenty minutes before she condescended to materialize on the front porch.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


I had to post this one though; Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Brief Holiday

Off to the West Coast for (another) family wedding. See you next week.

(Becassine image courtesy Patricia at Agence Eureka).

Thursday, June 18, 2009


In an uncharacteristic burst of amiability earlier this evening, Her Majesty jumped up into my arms and gave me a big kiss. Too bad I was getting ready to go outdoors and had just sprayed myself all over with mosquito repellent.

I'm really getting on her good side this week.

To a New Potato

(with profound apologies to Rabbie Burns)

Wee, sleekit, blushing, tender, beastie
Ready for the glutton’s feastie
Cook’d fifteen minutes, not too hasty
Well worth waiting for;
Golly Moses, you’re some tasty,
Think I’ll hae some more.

Diggèd a short half hour ago
Rushed to stove and steamed just so
Butter needed? Hoot mon, no!
Temptingly displayed
The other dishes are laid low
Puts them in the shade.

You can keep your store-bought big’uns
Mammoths fit for serfs to pig on
As for us, we’ll just keep diggin’
Till the season’s o’er.
Eat the little coral smidgens
Then go plant some more!

Vintage Needlework Books Online-A Treatise on Embroidery

From A Treatise on Embroidery, Crochet and Knitting, 1899, Anna Grayson Ford, editor. In addition to instructions and patterns for knitting, embroidery, crochet and Maltese work (hairpin crochet), there are a dozen beautiful color plates of different floral embroidery patterns. The four-part PDF is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike license and can be downloaded free from the Antique Pattern Library website (click on Catalog and scroll down. Books are in alphabetical order by author/editor).

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Patterns of the Past-1916 Wardrobe

These patterns were advertised in Needlecraft magazine, December 1916. From right to left, you have a dressing gown and rather natty nightgown, housedress, apron, and an afternoon dress for church, club meetings, informal social events such as teas, and making or receiving calls. Note the short, wide "war crinoline" silhouette, which appeared suddenly in the spring of 1915 as a radical departure from straight, floor-length Edwardian styles. It was denounced in press and pulpit as wasteful and shocking. Although hemlines briefly dropped again in the early 20's, this was the beginning of the end so far as wardrobe moralists were concerned.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

There's Always A Line For The Ladies' Room

I was doing something unnecessary on the computer when I heard an angry banging noise from the room where (among other things) the kitty litter box is kept. I peeked thru the door and saw the Drama Queen in front of the box (it’s one of the covered kind, for privacy dontchaknow), pounding on it with a furious look on her face. She looks mad at the world most of the time, but judging from her expression right then she was in a Category Five snit.

I went to check if she was perhaps displeased that the box did not meet her exacting standards of cleanliness and saw that Reserve Cat was sitting in there. Just sitting. Not…ahem!…using the facility. Just sitting and perhaps thinking deep thoughts. Deep, quiet, satisfying, male thoughts. All that was missing was the newspaper.

Anyway, Her Majesty noticed me laughing at her. My days are numbered.

Sewing-A Child's Sunsuit from 1953

This sunsuit in size 4 comes from Smart Sewing, Sixth Edition, 1953. Two pages of instructions are on my Flickr account.

And if you’re as handy with a hammer as you are with a sewing machine, check out Tipnut’s site for instructions for a 1950’s space-cadet clubhouse, ray gun or a flying saucer!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Great Fun!

Hoedown from Rodeo from Eleanor Stewart on Vimeo.

Eleanor Stewart is a Glasgow art student. Link courtesy of Drawn!

Vintage Fruit Crate Labels-"Dominator!"

Possibly from the war years? Copyright-free and from Dover Publications.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Buffet Bounty

Because I am basically lazy, buffet suppers are my preferred form of entertainment. I think the last time I gave a planned sit-down supper for guests—as opposed to people who showed up at mealtime and needed to be fed—was ten years ago. When you want to get lots of people together for good food and good talk, a buffet is logistically the best way to do it.

It also allows for a liberal mixing of guests, for example the parish priest from St. Joe's across the street and a sweet but dippy friend of mine who just announced her conversion to Buddhism. N.B. I like Father Carl and would not do this to him if I didn't think him more than capable of discussing theology with a woman who changes her religion almost as often as she does her underwear.

I found this cookbook at the Mission Mart last week for fifty-nine cents. The height of homemaking glory, circa 1963, it assures the hostess that all her guests will be begging for her recipes, and is an interesting mixture of new-fangled convenience and old-fashioned kitchen goodness. For example, all of the food on this buffet except the slaw and the frosting comes from a box or a can.

But the angel-food cake here is still made from scratch. As Sisiggy asked a few days ago, what on earth do you do with all those leftover egg yolks?

Even if at least half the recipes contradict some of my most deeply-held culinary beliefs (their instructions for Shrimp deJonghe tell you to bake pre-cooked shrimp for an additional twenty minutes at 350º and to me that means really chewy shrimp) it’s a fun read. And although I think I’ll leave the Duchess Franks and Avocado Fruit Squares alone, I have to try the Spiced Orange Mold. Plenty swank!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Getting Ready For London

…and our next contestants here at the World Synchronized Head Turning Finals, Housecat Division, have entered the arena.

Real smooth start, good form there. These two are never predictable, are they, Frank?

No they sure aren't, Jim. Look at that nice clean segue into the next position. You can tell they’ve been performing as a team for a long time and do a real good job anticipating each other’s next move.

Oh, no! That’ll cost them! But they’re still in contention if they finish clean--

And they stick the landing! What an exciting thirty-seven seconds that was, Jim!

Yes, Frank, it’s all up to the judges now.


Why  -- Are You Looking at Me?
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

And if you'd like to read more about how/when/why we started letting them into our homes and hearts, Scientific American has this article.

Friday, June 12, 2009

An Open Letter to Rep Tim Johnson, R-IL

Dear Tim:

This country is facing, among other challenges, an economy that's tanking, record unemployment, climate change, domestic and international terrorism, spiraling energy prices, nuclear saber-rattling in North Korea, a new pandemic, a substandard public education system, decaying infrastructure, military involvement in the Middle East that's put an alarming strain on the resources of our armed forces, and health care that is out of the reach of almost 20% of my fellow citizens.

When the only issue the fund-raising letter for your 2010 campaign mentions is teh ebbil, ebbil Democrats, you aren't going to get my vote.

Quote of the Day

Oh give me a skein
Made of buffalo mane
Be it DK or sock weight or worsted
Surely shearing's not hard
Just walk into the yard..
No wait...I will let YOU go firsted.

Wool, Buffalo wool!
How novel! thread coming from bison
Tho' to harvest this yarn
And still not come to harm
It would probably take a Mike Tyson.

(vintage fruit crate art from Dover; bad fiber poetry from me).

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Knitting Projects for People With Too Much Time On Their Hands

Do not click on this link if:

1) you are at work

2) there are children around


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Patterns of the Past-Lingerie "Novelties" from 1914

From Needlecraft magazine, September 1914, a pattern advertisement for a set of combinations and a nightgown. Why these were considered novelties, I couldn't tell you.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Knitting-A Child's Slip-On from 1947

From Smart Knitting and Needlecraft, 4th edition, 1947. This short-sleeved white sweater for a little girl or boy has a fagoted lace stripe and knitted-in stripes of pink and blue. Please go to my Flickr account to download the pattern.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Alice's Drive

On June 9th, 1909, Alice Ramsey and three friends set out to become the first women to drive an automobile across America, from New York to California—and succeeded. Emily Anderson is going to attempt to recreate her journey in a rebuilt 1909 Maxwell, the same model car Ramsey drove.

Tomorrow morning she’ll be cranking up the Maxwell on Broadway in New York City, the original jumping-off point for Ramsey’s trip. Follow Anderson’s progress here.

Vintage Cartoons-"Mr Punch A-Wheel"

From Project Gutenberg, over 100 vintage cycling and motoring cartoons from the pages of Punch.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Batching It

The spousal unit has signed up for a seminar on coal mining (continuing education credits since he teaches 6th-8th grade science) that will keep him away from home for an entire week later this month. This will allow me to watch La Belle et La Bête and Gigi over and over again and make myself some dinners that he would not touch with a Bangalore torpedo. I have never bought into the school of thought that says it’s too much trouble to cook just for yourself. Lucullus dines with Lucullus, is my motto.

The first dish is a sort of Couscous with 7 Vegetables crossed with Stephanie’s Crockpot Moroccan Chicken recipe. The missing vegetable is sweet potato. I know, it’s supposed to be served with couscous, but I like rice.

Riz avec Sept Legumes Minus One

One or two onions, chopped
About a cup of baby carrots, sliced on the diagonal
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and mashed
1 package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
1 can chickpeas, rinsed, drained, and as many of the nasty skins removed as possible
4 skinned chicken thigh quarters
½ c. golden raisins
1 can chopped tomatoes (do not drain)
¼ cup dry white wine
2 T. honey
1 t ground cumin
1/2 t cinnamon
½ t red pepper flakes (less if you prefer)
½ t salt

Warm some oil in your Dutch oven and cook the carrots and onions over medium heat until just before the onion is limp. Add the garlic and artichoke hearts and cook about two minutes longer. Season sparingly with salt, scrape it all into your crockpot and stir in the chickpeas. Arrange the chicken thigh quarters over the vegetables.

Heat the raisins and honey with the chopped tomatoes and their juice until the honey dissolves. Add the wine, spices and salt, mix well, and pour it over the chicken. Cover, turn the crockpot to low, and cook for 6 hours or until the chicken is done. Serve over hot cooked rice.

The woman I worked for when I lived in Paris in the mid-70’s used to make this a lot. It’s a very easy, one-pot meal.

Mme Dubois’ Sausage Rice

Slice up a package of sweet Italian sausages and brown them in a Dutch oven. Remove the sausages, pour off all but about two tablespoons of fat, and lower the heat. Sauté a sliced onion and a mashed clove of garlic with a generous pinch of salt. When the onion is quite limp, stir in a can of diced tomatoes with all the juice. Fill the tomato can with water, add to the pot with the browned sausages, and stir in a cup of raw rice (not converted). Bring to a boil, cover, and cook at the lowest possible temperature (I use a flame-tamer) for twenty minutes. Taste for salt and serve with a green salad and country bread.

And finally, my secret shame; chicken nachos. As much snark as I have lavished on the use of canned soups in 50’s and 60’s cooking, I must now hang my head and admit that I am a hypocrite and love this. It is unctuous, cheesy, and a good way to use up that leftover baked chicken breast that’s been hanging around in the fridge since Sunday dinner. N.B. the soup makes this pretty salty so if your tastebuds revolt at being treated like a Midwestern highway during a blizzard look for a lower-sodium alternative.

Chicken Nachos

One cup, more or less, of leftover cooked chicken, shredded
One can of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup, diluted with ½ cup milk
One cup shredded cheese, preferably Sargento’s Mexican Mix with Monterey jack in it (more meltable), divided
½ cup tomato salsa (use the canned stuff. There is absolutely no point in making this with fresh)
Tortilla chips

Stir together the soup, salsa and half of the cheese and heat until the cheese melts. Stir in the chicken. Spray a microwave-proof baking dish with cooking spray and cover the bottom with a thick layer of tortilla chips. Spoon the chicken/soup/salsa mixture over the tortilla chips. Cover with a thin layer of the rest of the shredded cheese and microwave for one and a half minutes or until the cheese has melted. Serve with even more tortilla chips, lots of beer and a guilty conscience. This will feed two people if one of them is not a greedy piglet.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

We Few

He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd;

He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours...

Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say 'These wounds I had … "

Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day...

This story shall the good man teach his son;

From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us…

Friday, June 5, 2009

Foiled, You Rotten Little Six-Fingered Houdini

That the house is beginning to look like the County Asylum circa 1907 is a small price to pay.

Quote of the Day

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Steve McQueen Kitteh is Back in the Stalag

I just went out for a walk. Guess who I ran into?

While we were congratulating ourselves on having rendered the front bedroom window "escape-proof," she pried open the one above the basement stairs.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Patterns of the Past-Summer Dresses for the Young Lady

From June 1914, these patterns were offered for sale in Needlecraft magazine for young women in their late teens/early twenties. The line of demarcation between "miss" and "matron" was pretty sharply drawn in those days.

I don't much care for the dress on the far right with the pleats at the hip, but the shirtwaist with the asymmetrical closing and the dark collar and cuffs would make a pretty modern-looking jacket.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Cats 4, Humans 0

The pawsse recuperates after an exhausting night of shredding window screens.

Crochet-A Little Girl's Dress from 1947

From Smart Knitting, 3rd Edition (1947), comes this crocheted party dress for a little girl. Instructions can be downloaded from my Flickr account.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Vintage Sheet Music-While The Billy Boils

The Australian National Library's Digital Collections on-line has a great selection of vintage Oz and non-Oz sheet music, and a hat-tip to Elizabeth of Oh By Jingo! Oh By Gee! for the link.

Thanks to all for your concern. My Sunday posts actually require me to sit down and think before putting fingers to the keyboard, and a combination of antihistimines and Robutussin left me way too woozy to do so coherently. I'm up and about today, although I sound like I'm channelling Woody Woodpecker.