Friday, July 31, 2009

Quote of the Day

When I walk into my kitchen today, I am not alone. Whether we know it or not, none of us is. We bring fathers and mothers and kitchen tables, and every meal we have ever eaten. Food is never just food. ~ Molly Wizenberg, A Homemade Life

Thursday, July 30, 2009

An Amazing Array of Free Patterns

I have added two new links to my list on the right-hand side of the page. Kokka.Com and Otsukaya are Japanese sites that offer dozens of free sewing patterns for women's and children's clothes (and a few men's as well). All are clearly diagrammed and a knowledge of Japanese is not necessary (good thing, since my Japanese is limited to phrases like Neisan, biru o kudasai!).

On the Kokka site, just click on any of the photographs. The page that appears will have images of different sewing projects. Click on the images for the patterns.

The Otsukaya link will take you to a page with three columns in Japanese. Clicking on any of the boxes will take you to a pattern illustration and a .pdf to download.

Warning for my fellow Americans; you'll need to convert from metric. A tip of the topper and a big merci to the ladies at Japan Couture Adddicts for the links.

The Online Bookshelf-Pierre Lapin

From Project Gutenberg, the story of Pierre and his sisters Flopsaut, Trotsaut, and Queue-de-Coton, and his epic struggle against Monsieur Mac Grégor.

(Not to mention Madame Mac Grégor, who wishes to put Pierre into a pâté !)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Perhaps She's a Strict Deconstructionist

Trying to determine the political implications (if any) of Babyface eating our copy of the Constitution this morning.

Patterns of the Past-A "Buster Brown" Suit

From Needlecraft magazine, September 1914, a Buster Brown suit. Those strap-type shoes were evidently commonly worn by boys as well as girls.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Maybe He Should Take Lessons From The President

The latest in the Simon's Cat series on YouTube.

A Basket Applique by Ruby Short McKim

From the eBay grab-bag, a newspaper clipping most likely from the mid 1920's-1930's. This basket applique is by Ruby Short McKim, and the pattern was given in the exact size for the corner of a luncheon cloth (the original clippi9ng is only about seven x four inches, so this is a very small pattern). Left-click to enlarge or visit my Flickr account for a bigger image.

And if you go to the McKim Studios webpage, there is a link to a free copy of her classic 101 Patchwork Patterns to download.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Saving Me From Myself

Up to Michigan and back for a short visit with my father (and assorted siblings). The weather cooperated and a good time was had by most.

And the difference between Illinois and Michigan gun purchase laws prevented me from dropping $300 on a M1895 Mauser at the Gander Mountain store in Portage.

Vintage Sheet Music-Oh You Beautiful Doll

Copyright-free image from Dover Publications.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Cruel and Unusual

In 1953 our old friends the Culinary Institute of Chicago published a little pamphlet intended to free the housewife from the arduous task of menu-planning. It was modestly titled Menus for Every Day of the Year and each dish was indexed against a recipe in one of the Institute’s other cookbooks. One had only to turn to, say, the first dinner menu for March to find therein a recommendation of Consommé Madrilene (Book #6) followed by Roast Chicken with Mushroom Stuffing and Hominy Grits (both in Book #4), and Buttered Peas (Book #11). For dessert, Book #12 provided instructions on how to serve Vanilla Ice Cream with Butterscotch Sauce.

All the dinner menus are on the stodgy side. Even those specifically assigned to summer months, when any intelligent cook starts looking for ways to lighten things up, are traditional, starchy, heavy and hot. Editor Ruth Berolzeimer and the merry crew of sadists who thought up the menus for the month of July ought to have been made to prepare and eat them in the average early 1950’s un-air-conditioned home. Here is the first week:

July 1st: Pineapple Juice Cocktail, Baked Pickerel with Shoestring Potatoes, Pea Soufflé, Lettuce Salad with Thousand Island Dressing, Honeydew Melon Rings with Melon Balls, Iced Tea

July 2nd - Stuffed Lamb Shoulder with Franconia Potatoes, Summer Squash Tomato Casserole, Carrot Raisin Salad, Maple Nut Pudding

July 3rd - Filled Beets, Planked Ham Loaf with Duchess Potatoes, Baked Onions and Tomatoes, Royal Salad, Brazil-nut Marshmallow Cream

Fourth of July Dinner – Jellied Sherry Consommé, Broiled Half Chicken Rolled in Bread Crumbs and Parsley, Corn on the Cob, Asparagus Tips in Tomato Cups, Mashed Potatoes, Small Hot Rolls, Summer Salad Bowl (Cucumbers, Radishes, Spring Onions with Watercress and French Dressing), Strawberry Ice Cream Tarts

July 5th - Apricot Juice, Rump Roast of Beef, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, Kohlrabi, Lettuce with French Dressing, Red Raspberry Sundae

July 6th – Pineapple Appetizer Salad, Baked Chicken with Sage Stuffing, Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Buttered Broccoli, Peppermint Stick Parfait with Chocolate Sauce, Coffee, Milk

July 7th – Sweetbreads with Mushrooms, Broiled Tomato Slices, Buttered Beet Greens, Cottage Cheese Salad with Thousand Island Dressing, Gooseberry Date Pie

I’m going to have to look for Book #5 which contains the recipe for this last-named dessert. That any cook would combine gooseberries and dates in a pie is enough to shake one’s faith in humanity.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Friday, July 24, 2009

Quote of the Day

Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding. ~ Proverbs 17:28.

(Photo from ABCNews).

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Exposed Flanks

He came home last night with a big bloody patch on his back where some fur was missing. We're keeping an eye on it in case it develops into one of these.

The Online Bookshelf-Social Life, Or The Manners And Customs Of Polite Society

Note merely an etiquette book, but containing The Rules Of Etiquette for All Occasions and Forming a Complete Guide to Self-culture in Conversation, Dress, Deportment, Correspondence, The Care of Children and the Home , profusely illustrated in the style of the Police Gazette.

From the chapter on Introductions and Salutations: "As a rule, introductions, to be agreeable, should be desired before being given; and since we are, or should be, in a measure, the endorsers of those whom we present to our friends, a due degree of care should be exercised in so doing, lest inadvertently we force upon another what may prove an undesirable acquaintance."

From The Art of Conversation: "Beware of evil speaking. In the eyes of all right-minded persons much that you have said recoils upon your own head, for no one has quite the same opinion of an individual after having listened to a series of scandalous stories from his lips. Hence, for your own sake, as well as for that of others, eschew the vice of evil speaking as a very pestilence."

From Courtship and Marriage: "The passion of love generally appearing to everyone save the man who feels it, so entirely disproportionate to the value of the object, so impossible to be entered into by any outside individual, that any strong expressions of it appear ridiculous to a third person. For this reason it is that all extravagance of feeling should be carefully repressed as an offense against good breeding."

And should you be unsure of the appropriate form of invitation to an afternoon tea or (how daring of you!) a masquerade, Miss Cooke explains it all for you.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Patterns of the Past -- A Trio of Skirts from 1914

From Needlecraft, June 1914. Skirt on the left, thumbs down. Skirt on the right, thumbs up. Skirt in the middle, looks as though the designer's mother was frightened by a pair of jodhpurs.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Crochet - An Embroidered Rug

Another project from the eBay grab-bag, this one a little rug to crochet of "very heavy Germantown yarn" and then embroider using the chart provided here. The date has been cut off and the magazine is not identified, but the rest of the clippings in the envelope were from the 20's and 30's, and from magazines such as the Woman's Home Companion.

The finished length is about thirty-one inches and the recommended colors for the embroidery are dark green, turquoise, light green, gold, peach, salmon rose, maroon, scarlet, and two shades of blue. If I had a dollhouse, I'd be awfully tempted to make this as a miniature in needlepoint.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Bungalow for Sale

For a cool half-million, that is.

More Midsummer Bounty

Although I admit it's not as lush as the one we had in North Carolina, I love our garden at this time of year.

Vintage Postcards-California

A selection of vintage postcard images from Dover Publications.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Unconventional Weapons

During a discussion about this article I was asked if our cats have the distinctive purr the writer mentions. Yes and no; Reserve Cat is a pretty quiet boy, with a raspy little “Yow!” he seldom uses.

The Drama Queen has two purrs. Purr #1 is a gentle, soothing tremblato that she switches on when she is being petted or cuddled or her ears are being scratched. The other is her Über-purr, deployed only when she is in a secure location, one where either a) the dog can’t get at her or b) he will get thwacked if he tries, ie on top of the china cupboard or in a human lap. Then she ratchets up the rpm’s, vibrating like a badly battened-down table-saw and adding a little trilling top note. It’s surprisingly loud.

Her eyes close in well-simulated bliss and Funnyface stands there baffled, shifting from paw to paw and plotting his revenge.


I am quite possibly the only person in the Midwest who can’t grow zucchini; every year for the last decade my plants have sprung to life, produced half a dozen fruits, and then withered and died like the heroine of a Wilkie Collins novel.

This summer I am cautiously optimistic. I’ve harvested about three dozen (including one Louisville Slugger of a zucchini that hid from me until it got big enough to resist capture) and the plants still look like they’re ok. The yellow squash is also going gangbusters and I actually have enough to bag for the freezer.

In the meantime, I’m eating a lot of this casserole.

Scalloped Summer Squash

Thinly slice three small or two medium yellow squash and/or zucchini (the operative word here is thinly, if they are too thick they’ll still be crunchy when you take the casserole out of the oven. Pickle-chip thin is perfect). Toss with a half teaspoon of salt and leave in a colander. While the squash is draining put two big handfuls of basil leaves in the food processor with about a cup of shredded Parmesan, two smashed cloves of garlic, and one slice of bread torn into pieces. If you have it, a sliver of onion can be added. Pulse until everything is finely chopped but not a puree. Taste and add salt and pepper.

Oil a shallow baking dish; an 8x8 inch glass cake pan is the perfect size. Pat the squash dry and layer half of it evenly in the dish. Cover with half of the breadcrumb/basil mixture and dribble with about a tablespoonful of olive or other cooking oil. Repeat the layers, dribble with oil and a little extra Parmesan, and cover with foil. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes until the top is chewy and golden brown. UPDATED 7/21: I made this again today and realized I forgot to mention an important point.

After you pat the zucchini dry, taste for salt. Depending on your zucchini to salt ratio, you may find them too salty, in which case just rinse them off and pat them dry or wring in a clean dishtowel.

The Louisville Slugger was peeled, seeded, cut into chunks and shredded in the food processor, and two cups of it were put into this zucchini bread.

Brown Sugar Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
3/4 c. vegetable oil
1 ½ c. packed brown sugar
2 c. grated zucchini
1 T. brandy vanilla or vanilla extract
3 c. flour
1 ½ t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
2 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. ground cloves
½ t. ground nutmeg
1 c. golden raisins
1 c. chopped walnuts

Beat the eggs with the oil and brown sugar. Stir in the zucchini and vanilla and mix well. Sift together the dry ingredients and blend into the egg-zucchini mixture. Stir in the raisins and walnuts. Pour into a buttered and floured tube pan and bake at 325° for 55-65 minutes.

This could also be baked in muffin tins for 18-22 minutes, allowing one to enjoy the illusion that it is healthy.

(vintage 40's magazine ad from Patricia).

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Those Who Can


(those who can't, pickle).

Updated to give you all an idea of how the spousal unit spends his weekends.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Quote of the Day

The holy passion of Friendship is of so sweet and steady and loyal and enduring a nature that it will last through a whole lifetime, if not asked to lend money. ~ Mark Twain

Thursday, July 16, 2009


The Online Bookshelf-Tiverton Tales, by Alice Brown

Read A March Wind -- old-fashioned but touching. And don't we all have a cousin Josiah Pease in our lives?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Patterns of the Past-For Ladies and Juniors

From Needlecraft magazine, June 1914. The blouse in the lower left corner looks cool and attractive for summer wear. Left-click to enlarge or go here.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Conversations He'll Wish Had Not Happened

Me (looking at bill from insurance company): The real problem is, I'm a woman.

He (far too quickly): Yup.

Silk Handkerchiefs and Painted Tiles

I don't think anyone makes these kind of silk handkerchiefs today, unfortunately. Another selection from the eBay grab-bag purchase, from Woman's Home Companion and probably late 20's or (very) early 30's. The tiles and baskets could be ordered through the magazine. I like the pillow ideas. Left-click to enlarge, or go here to download.

Monday, July 13, 2009

It Was Bound To Happen Sooner or Later

Someone who shall remain nameless (but he's red-haired and his initials are R.C.) came home at ten minutes after five this morning. He's darn lucky Mr Fox wasn't out on the tiles, too.

So What Else Is New?

A biologist at the University of Sussex has published a study proving that cats manipulate their owners.

Vintage Magazine Covers-Astounding Stories, March 1932

And if your tastes run to vintage sci-fi, Vampires of Space is available on Project Gutenberg.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Three (Hundred) Faces of Eve

I've seen this before but the skill involved in blending the pictures still amazes me.

Double Duty

From those patriotic folks at Knox, dessert and main-dish recipes that not only save ration points but time.

One days cooking for two days eating (their punctuation). Save yourself time! Save yourself trouble! Save fuel! Save pennies! On this and the next two pages are ‘double duty’ recipes that actually give you two days of good eating for one day’s easy cooking. The basic recipe makes a double amount, so you use half of it for a delicious treat one day – and next day turn the other half into a completely different recipe.

As hokey as it seems today, this would have been very appealing to a 1940’s housewife, who—in addition to all of the usual chores of childcare, cooking, cleaning, laundry, mending, chauffering, shopping, etc—was either volunteering several days a week at the Red Cross or USO, or working full time in a defense industry or to replace a male worker who was now in uniform.

And if she was under thirty-five she was probably doing this without Dad, who was away at camp or overseas, and trying to do it on military pay which meant a lot less money than many middle-class women were accustomed to having. Dishes that saved ration points and cash, and could be prepped the morning or even the night before, were a boon and a blessing.

The pages below were scanned from Salads, Desserts, Pies and Candies, published by the Knox Gelatine company in 1943. Left-click to enlarge or go here for full-sized images.

And just for Jitterbug, who inspired today’s post, here are some nummy, nummy recipes for desserts including one for jellied Prune Whip (her favorite).

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Best Laid Plans

When the village animal control officer (who is the spousal unit's younger brother, btw) reported no further cases of distemper among the local feral cat population, I had a brilliant idea, prompted by the daily sight and sound of our two throwing themselves at the window screens and engaging in laments of epic proportion (Mara crying in the wilderness for her children has nothing on them).

It was simple, logical, foolproof and based on the following observations. Mr. Fox does not come out during the day, during which time our cat-hating neighbor is also absent at work. And both cats usually get very sleepy around lunchtime when it starts getting hot out, and start looking for a dark cool spot in the basement to nap.

Why not…wait for it….why not let them outside first thing in the morning and shut the door on them when they follow their natural rhythms to come back in and sleep? 6am-noon outside, noon-6am inside. Perfect, right?

They seemed enthusiastic when we briefed them but it soon became obvious they stopped listening after the “Okay, we’re going to let you out—” part. As soon as the door opened that morning, the Drama Queen streaked across the street and dove into the ornamental grasses in Father Carl’s garden and we didn’t see her again all day.

She really isn’t the problem, though. If you go out to the street and call her name, her natural sense of self-importance asserts itself and she comes rushing over to see what is going on so that she can supervise. She’s fairly easy to catch, since she is not only arrogant but also aerodynamically incapable of running very fast.

The real flight risk here is my sweet, gentlemanly, mild-mannered Reserve Cat who has been known to disappear on eighteen-hour toots, showing up at the bedroom window at 2am, with dirt on his fur, a gleam in his eye, and what is probably—if only our ears were tuned the right frequency—Show Me The Way To Go Home on his lips. After he is admitted we hear him in the kitchen, packing away about eight dollars’ worth of Iams’ cat food before vanishing into the basement where he sacks out out on top of a pile of (of course) navy-blue polar fleece in a most orthopaedically unwise position.

Right now my plan is working, but he kind of worries me. Perhaps we should find out if the people who manufacture those tracking ankle bracelets make them in size extra extra extra-small?


It was at that moment when Frank had second thoughts
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Friday, July 10, 2009

Quote of the Day

She is one of those women you are always glad to learn is the wife of some man you don't like.~Clarence Drown

(Vintage ad cut from Dover Publications).

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Where is Paul Harvey Now That We Need Him?

From the Flathead, Montana Beacon police blotter:

"9:17 a.m. A trailer home and vehicle on Farm to Market Road were at the receiving end of leftover artillery shells, used in this case as destructive weapons."

The Online Bookshelf-Noble Deeds of the World's Heroines

Published by the Religious Tract Society of London in 1903, this book undoubtedly became a Christmas or graduation gift for a generation of Anglo-Saxon schoolgirls. I'm just surprised Kate Barlass and Grace Darling were not included. Full text can be downloaded from Project Gutenberg, here.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Patterns of the Past-McCall's "Folk" Embroidery, 1945

From McCall's Needlework and Crafts, Winter 1945-46. A bright, folkloric cross-stitch pattern that will "add charm to your home; to your curtains, scarves and tablecloths."

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Painting-A 20's Design for Furniture

From Woman's Home Companion, and probably dating from the mid to late 1920's. This is a page from that big envelope of household and needlework-related magazine clippings I bought on eBay last year. The credited artist is Herman van Cott. Left-click to enlarge for the floral motif.

(blogger's note: I will be downstate at a training seminar until Friday, but have this week's offerings set up to post automatically. I hope).

Monday, July 6, 2009

Vintage Magazines-Better Homes & Gardens

Better Homes & Gardens, August 1929. Tips on propagating shrubs, Oriental poppies, and what the good hostess must have on hand in the guest room. This was evidently a subscription copy; there's a 2-cent stamp with Valley Forge on the back.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Consummation Devoutly To Be Wished

It occurred to me that there is one potentially very positive outcome to Mr. Jackson's death that has been overlooked. The allegedly-Reverend Fred Phelps and his batshit-crazy crotch fruit are going to picket the funeral.

Can you imagine what is going to happen without the Patriot Guard to separate these whackaloons from several hundred thousand screaming Michael Jackson fans?

(I live in hope).

Online Cookbooks-The Southern Gardener and Receipt-Book

The Southern Gardener and Receipt-Book: Containing Valuable Information, Original and Otherwise, on All Subjects Connected With Domestic and Rural Affairs, Gardening, Cookery, Beverages, Dairy, Medical, Veterinary, and Miscellaneous (third edition; Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott and co., 1860), by Mary L. Edgeworth, contrib. by P. Thornton. Available online at the University of Michigan's Making of America digital library.

Mrs Edgeworth’s book is straight-forward, clearly written and provides some interesting insights on how food gathering, preparation and storage had to be handled in hot Southern climates (although her apparent dislike of starting new paragraphs may seem a little disconcerting to a modern reader). She devotes several pages to the proper smoking and curing of pork and beef, and I doubt these methods changed much, particularly in rural areas, until after the Second World War when electricity and modern refrigeration became common.

Here is her advice to settlers in need of honey to augment their supply of sweeteners.


The manner of hunting bees, as practiced in the new settlements, may be familiar to many but perhaps not to all. As advantage is taken of a peculiar instinct, it would, probably, be interesting to those unacquainted with it, to be informed of the process. A tin box is provided, capable of containing about a pint. Into this is put a piece of dry honey-comb; a bottle of honey and water mixed, about half and half, is also provided. The honey is diluted, in order that it may be more readily poured into the dry comb, that the bees may not be so liable to get it upon their wings, and will be able to fill themselves more expeditiously. Apparatus for making a fire may also be necessary. With these the hunter proceeds to a newly-cleared field, at a distance from any hive of domestic bees; and having poured a little of the composition into the comb, he proceeds to search among the wild flowers for a bee. If one can be found, he is caught in the box by shutting the lid over him. As soon as he becomes still, the lid is carefully removed, when he will be found busily filling himself with honey. When he rises he must be watched in order to ascertain his course. After making one or two circuits about the box, he will fly off in a straight course to his home. After an absence of a few minutes, say five or ten, he will return, bringing with him two or three of his companions. These will soon fill themselves, go home, and return again with a number more. Thus they will continue to increase in number till, in the course of half an hour, there will be one hundred or more in the box. By that time the line will be ascertained with precision. The lid is now shut over as many as possible, and the box is removed on the line to the edge of the woods, where it is again opened. The line will soon be found at the new station, as before, and thus the box is removed from station to station, until the whole tree is either discovered or passed. If the tree be passed, the line, of course, will be retrograde. A small pocket spyglass is a convenient thing for searching the tops of trees, as it requires a good eye to see a bee at that distance. If a bee cannot be found to commence operations with, a little honey is burned on a stone; and if a wandering bee happens to be near, he will be attracted by the smell. The proper time for hunting bees is on a fair warm day in the month of September or October. During the summer months, when food for bees is to be found everywhere, they will not traverse. If a bee tree is in the neighborhood of a sugar camp, bees will be found about the tree in the time of making sugar."

(fruit and vegetable illustrations from Dover Publications).