Friday, February 28, 2014

Champion Bag Co. Clothes Pin holder

My favorite "antiques" are the functional kind: an interesting old serving spoon, an end table, a storage jar from years long passed, a rocking chair, bookcase, my Grandmother's typewriter, or
a 1950's clothes pin holder.  

Because I use clothes pins frequently, I was excited to find the perfect clothes pin bag in an antique shop in Branson, Missouri last May.  Well, it was almost perfect.  The metal frame and hook were in fine shape, but the cotton bag with its vintage graphics hanging on the frame had seen better days.  It was ugly...dirty and very stained.  I bought it thinking it might wash up o.k., and thought, if it didn't, I'd sew a new bag for it.

And, oh dear, it looked as if a cat had clawed its way out of it, after I had washed it.
So it was time go to plan B.

My intention was to buy some cute fabric and use the shredded bag as a pattern to make a new one.
I never made it to the fabric store though.
During a purging session a couple old quilt squares, which I had been saving for years to use to make a toss pillow with, surfaced.  My coconut suddenly swirled with inspiration.  I would use Mrs. Hill's quilt squares to make a new bag for my clothes pin holder.  It seemed to be a union made in a time machine: 1950's quilt pieces upcycled into a pouch for a 1950's clothes pin bag.

Mrs. Hill was a friend of my grandmother's.  Mrs. Hill was old, much older than my grandmother. Being that I was a pre-schooler at the time, who knows how old Mrs. Hill really was though. Mrs. Hill spent hours each day hand stitching quilts.  I can still see her sitting in an overstuffed chair with fabric draped around her, needle in hand, and a peaceful, not-in-a-hurry countenance dropping into each stitch.
Those 2 Dresden Plate squares were all that remained of Mrs. Hill's many quilts.  I cherish my memory of her and them.

I kept the labels from the original Champion Bag, and sewed them into the new bag I made.
I am pleased with my vintage clothes pin holder.  The design of the metal frame is what makes it so efficient.  It holds the bag open, so it is easy to reach in and grab the clothes pins. The metal hook is sturdy and glides easily along my clothesline. The long hook brings the opening down low enough for short me to reach the  clothespins, even the ones at the bottom of the bag.  Important stuff for a repeated action.

 I see that there is a Champion Bag Co. clothes pin holder for sale on etsy for $48.00.  I paid about ten for mine.  But it has gone beyond a good buy with its repurposed quilt bag.  I think about Mrs. Hill and my grandmother each laundry day now.  I like to be reminded of positive, happy people and the place they hold in my life.

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol

Thursday, February 27, 2014

throwback thursday, and a limerick too

posted by jennifer:

there once were three girls from socal,
who had adventure written across each their brows,
potentially the strongest storm in over 30 years,
more rain drops will fall than all the scraped knee tears?
unhindered, disneyland still in our sights, i've got to go now, so ciao!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Solar Monday. No iron Tuesday.

Back before "the pill" and the liberation of women, housekeeping was often done to a set rhythm.

Monday - laundry
Tuesday - ironing
Wednesday - sewing/mending
Thursday - marketing/churning
Friday - cleaning
Saturday - baking
Sunday - rest
This schedule was so common place that dishtowels were embroidered with the chores and corresponding day of the week, children learned the days of the week from nursery rhymes from the agenda, and the routine was passed from mother to daughter.  Then things got all shook up....

At one time laundry was the heaviest task of the week and was done when womenfolk were well rested from their Sunday "off".  And for centuries after the clothes were washed (be it by rock, wash board and tub, using a "Home Comfort Hand Washing Machine", or an electric washing machine), the wet laundry was hung in the open air to dry.
Home Comfort Washing Machine
at the Sauer Bechmann Living History Farm
Johnson City, Texas

Hand turned drum washer

Clothes dryers evolved from the late 18th century, with the first electric dryer being sold in 1938. However, the high cost of these new electric clothes dryers prohibited most people from owning one. In 1955 only 10% of households had a clothes dryer.  

After I was married, the money I earned (having gone back to work at a temporary position), was used to buy our first clothes dryer.  I was washing and line drying the cloth diapers of our first child at the time and it was the appliance I most wanted. Then after 43 years, the pendulum swung back in time for me.  There is more to think about than the financial cost these days.  There is the carbon footprint issue and the life style choices. 

 A year and a half ago I made the decision to get rid of our clothes dryer.  It wasn't broken, but my desire to use it had eroded into complete collapse. (Laying it on thick here! But really, I was finished with it.)

For many, many years I have line dried our sheets simply because I love the fresh, clean scent.  But I gradually began line drying other wet laundry.  I found that in the summer, I could line dry as quickly as I could dryer-dry clothes. Before I knew it, I had been exclusively line drying clothes for four seasons.  And I felt good about doing it.

I felt I was being true to my ecological leanings.
I liked the way the clothes smelled and looked. (Cleaner!)
I found that smoothing the wet clothes, when I put them on the line, resulted in an ironed-like look when they were dry.
I used less bleach, as the sun is a natural whitener.
I loved being outdoors.
I liked listening to bird song, instead of dryer din.
And I started looking intently at the space that dryer was occupying in our small house.

The decision to go dryer-less became easier and easier.
The only concern was "What if it rains for a week?"
Living in Southern California, that was unlikely! Plus I am only doing laundry for 2 adults now, so I thought I could get creative or go to the laundromat, if absolutely necessary. 
So away went the Hotpoint, and I have not regretted it once. Nor have I had to go to the laundromat.

Did you know that 19 U.S. states have laws protecting your right to dry clothes by hanging them outside on clotheslines?  If you live in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, Vermont, Virginia or Wisconsin a homeowner's association cannot prohibit the use of a clothesline.  

Exercise your rights!  Get some fresh air!  Save some greenhouse gases!  And feel great about doing it!
Line dry your sheets and fall asleep in good-smell-bliss.
Who knows? Someday you too may decide life is better without a clothes dryer. 

Coming up later in the week: My Champion Bag Co. clothes pin holder.  

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol

Sunday, February 23, 2014

i've never gotten a tattoo, but i think i must have sucker written across my forehead (Me too!)

posted by jennifer and April

so i did a quick trip to albertson's friday morning.  i had to get one item... ricotta cheese.  
it is not one of my normal shopping stops, but since it is close, it is good for those random forgotten items.  

when i first went in the door, i noticed an advertisement for a game they started.  monopoly. you know those grocery store gimmicks (which by the way, i just looked up in my dictionary circa 1972... and the first definition of gimmick is:  a secret means of controlling a prize wheel, ect.  anything that tricks or mystifies; deceptive or secret device)   telling... very telling.  
now, i had two reactions to this... almost simultaneously.   one being oooh a monopoly game. fun!   and the second being, ugh!  not another scam game.  
(When I walked into my Albertsons, there was this poor guy dressed up like the Monopoly man passing out the game boards.) 

i remember the great albertson game fiasco of 2011... (or 2012... or whenever) when i was so into it.  i would spend so much time obsessing about what stickers i needed to win a hawaiian vacation.  i didn't win anything.  i had 16 duplicate stickers for multiple items, and was one sticker away from winning 10 million dollars... but not even a $5.00 shopping spree was to be had.  I too, was instantly brought back to the last time they did this Collect- these- tiny- coupons- lick- and- stick- ‘em- on- a- game- board- game- waste- hours- hoping- to-win- an- elusive- prize game of 2012… and so when I saw the poor 19 year old kid dressed as a Monopoly man I,  like my sister,  had two very opposite feelings at the exact same time. YeS!!! FUN!!! I’m may win a prize!!! And at the same time… No!!! UrGH!!! Puhlease…I’m no sucker!!!

nevertheless, within 10 feet of walking in the door, i had 3 packages of red vines in my hand. 
you get a bonus ticket for each package.  i excused this for myself by thinking that they would be great for a movie night over the weekend.
I kept right on task- Next to the can of olives I was going to buy was another can...that came with a bonus ticket! I was not swayed. In my head kept running the puhlease!!! I’m no sucker! I picked up the can I would normally buy and congratulated myself for not getting caught up in the sham, racket, flimflam.    

then, when i got to the checkout line, i was thinking, if the checker asks if i am playing the monopoly game, should i tell her no?  it is like the classic angel on one shoulder, devil on the other.   but in this case, one one shoulder is a calm and sensible gentleman shaking his head. 
with the supreme knowledge that nothing will come out of this "game" other than a littering of spare game pieces at the bottom of my purse, and possibly adhesive on the tickets that might make me sick when i lick them.   on the other shoulder is a fun 17 year old.  jumping up and down.   her side ponytail flipping around.   squealing in delight at the prospect of $10,000,000.  or maybe just a hawaiian vacation.

I made it to the check out all proud of myself.  The checker said to the old woman in front of me, “ You earned 5 game tickets” And my pulse quickened! See, I AM a sucker… I just try to keep that in check. But being a sucker can be so much FUN! So, when the old woman said “No, I don’t need those”. I wanted to scream “Give ‘em here!” or at least say politely, “I’ll take them.” But I didn’t. Instead I thought…wow-what a responsible, sane old woman.  I thought that for a moment but I did collect my (1) ticket and on my way out I thought… I like playing games. It’s fun. Darn it. I should have asked that old lady who doesn't play shell games for her tickets. 

so when the checker handed me my 4 tickets i calmly accepted them.  however, i didn't take the game board....not from my checkers line at least.   i was still in the middle of the battle between mr. sensible, and miss fun.  but as i walked towards the exit, i stopped at the last check line before the door.  to grab a game board.

i did however use a wet paper towel to moisten the game pieces. Not me… That toxic glue is delish! Do you remember when we’d go to the post office with mom if she had a bunch of mail like a pile of Christmas cards? and how fun it was to lick the stamps?!

cheers! -Jennifer   XO, April

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Loyalty rewards

....funny how a trip down memory lane can be triggered by an unlikely source.
I had a spreading knife in my hand yesterday that I've had and have used for many, many years. Stainless steel, Made in Japan.
And I thought, "Where did I get this useful tool from?"

I am not sure of the answer, but I think I might have got it through Betty Crocker coupon points.
These coupon points were on General Mills products much the same as Box Tops for Education are today.
The more expensive the product, the more points the coupon would be worth.  
I was a Betty Crocker point saver and redeemer for many years.  This was back in the 1970's before home computers, online shopping, Amazon, ebay, and Etsy opened the world of products for consumers to buy with a quick click.  The points I saved could get me discounts on bakeware, flatware, cookware, kitchen tools, dishes, or cookbooks.  But what I liked most was finding unusual, useful items through the Betty Crocker catalog that wouldn't be on the shelves at Gemco, JCPenney's or Service Merchandise.  I stopped saving those little pieces of cardboard points back in the 1980's, although The Betty Crocker Catalog didn't close until December 2006.

Before Betty Crocker points I saved Blue Chip stamps and before that S & H Green Stamps.
Both of these rewards were given as a bonus to shoppers based on the dollar amount of the purchase, i.e., one stamp per 10 cents (wow, my keyboard doesn't even have a cent sign!) or a larger stamp given for dollar amounts.  1 large equaled 10 smalls. You would receive the stamps at the check out counter of supermarkets, department stores, and gas stations that offered the stamp incentive to shop at their store.  The stamps were perforated and gummed.  You would lick, or otherwise moisten them, and stick them into empty books, given out free.   Filled books were exchanged for merchandise at redemption stores.

These reward programs were most popular during the mid-1960's.  This was perfect timing for me, as I used my filled books to "buy" wedding gifts for my many friends, who were getting married at the time.  There was Corning Ware, t.v. trays, glassware, blankets, pot and pans and such to be had, for just a little of my time and spittle. I received a bridal shower gift, myself, of enough stamp books to "purchase" two pieces of luggage for our honeymoon.

The recessions of the 1970's decreased sales of these stamps.  Blue Chip Stamps wisely diversified in 1972 buying the controlling interest in See's Candy Shops and later acquiring 100% interest in See's.  People are still buying chocolate, but Blue Chips Stamps are a thing of the past.  I wonder how many books of stamps Mary got for her candy shops?

S & H Green Stamps was one the the first retail loyalty programs.  Their rewards catalog was the largest publication in the U.S. during the 1960's. Now green points replace green stamps for online purchases.
S & H Green Stamp books can be traded in for greenpoints to this day.  I mention this in case you are at an estate sale and there is a huge stack of filled S & H Green Stamp MIGHT be worth the hassle of converting them, but I doubt it.

Loyalty programs now aim at requiring less customer time and  lower operational costs.  I have a nice collection of "reward" cards.  I punched a hole in the corner of each of them, so I could put them all on a binder ring for organizational purposes. They are more trouble than they are worth. Other than my Armstrong Garden Center bonus, I never see any worthwhile rewards.  I'm close to lightening the weight of my purse by pitching them all...except my Armstrong card, of course.

Nowadays the reward I want to see is a product worth what I pay for it, that doesn't have to be returned for some reason, and that is Made in the USA.  Oh, the free sample at See's is a good reward.  Thank you Blue Chip Stamps for that sweet deal.  I like it much better than licking stamps.

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol

Sunday, February 16, 2014

pennies, brussels sprouts, wine with food, and moles

posted by jennifer:

last weekend i went on a getaway to santa barbara with my husband.  we try go on weekend trips a couple of times a year.... and i am extremely fortunate to have family willing and able to watch our brood.   not to mention what a fun time our kids have during our vacation.  it is as much of a break for them, from us, as it is for my husband and i.  sometimes we are not quite as fun as grandma and auntie.  

for us, a weekend away is always worth the money spent.  years ago i made a comparison regarding trips away while talking with a friend.  i look at these trips as marriage/relationship maintenance.   just as it is better to get regular oil changes on your car to avoid having to replace your engine..... it is better to get time alone every now and then... not only is it more economical than marriage counselling or divorce, but it is fun.  marriage maintenance is much more enjoyable than car maintenance methinks.

this past weekend i also learned some new things.  educational as well?!?  do these trips away ever cease to be amazing?

here is what i learned:

*pennies make an awesome building material.  

we went to a restaurant, called the lucky penny,   the building was covered in pennies.  of course it was dark when we were there, and so a picture didn't happen, or i would show you.  however, it is on our to do list now.  we are going to cover the siding on one exterior wall of our house with pennies.  when we do so, i will share it here.    so, so cool.  we can't wait to get started.

*brussels sprouts can be delicious. 

 at another meal out, at the lark. (both lucky penny and the lark are in an area of santa barbara called the funk zone.  i highly recommend both restaurants) the lark had these crispy roasted brussels sprouts that were topped with an asian sauce.  i have never enjoyed brussels sprouts until these.

*while i love wine, i like it more paired with food.   

we went wine tasting, which was a great experience.  we went on a tour which took us into the santa inez valley.  we went to four different wineries/tasting rooms.  my favorite of which was carhartt wines.  the tasting area was on a patio, with a water feature, pepper trees, great furniture all made from oak wine barrels, and good wine.  that was our second stop, and i realized what was missing was food.  and not those little cracker wafer things.... a roasted chicken and vegetables.  or a filet mignon with garlic mashed potatoes.   or a thai chicken pizza.  i really think wine goes better with food.  next time we will do a tasting meal... where wine and food are paired.

*i am a lucky girl.

while i already know this, it becomes clearer when i can actually think for a moment... (did you know that when you are away from your day to day life you can have complete thought after complete thought?)  i feel so happy to live my life.  even when all the blah things try to drag me down, i am going to remind myself how good i have it.  how lucky to live in the time we do (really it is good... even if it doesn't seem like it sometimes) and  how lucky to have people that i love who love me back.

*i shouldn't try to pose all cute like other people.

while on our wine tour, which we were on with one other couple, they asked us to take a picture of them.  she was sitting on a picnic table, legs crossed, all model-ly like and he was standing next to her.  i decided i wanted to steal their pose.  and did.  i think it was a bit forced.  i decided to go with our original picture we had taken... even though i look a bit like a mole who is being blinded by the sun.

here is to pennies, brussels sprouts, wine with food, realizing all the good in your life, and moles.   


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Make ahead recipe #3

This final recipe for a great "do ahead" came to me from a long time friend.  Jen and I have been friends for more than 50 years.  Some of my best recipes are written in her handwriting on vintage recipe cards.
Having food prepared, or at least started, is helpful when overnight company is staying in your home.
I don't know about you, but I don't do my most accurate cooking when talking non-stop to visiting friends or relatives.  Anything I can have prepared, and waiting in the wings, is appreciated so that I can spend more time with my guests.  I don't want to be in the kitchen measuring out ingredients when the conversation and laughter is in the living room.  This muffin batter stores in the refrigerator for up to 6 weeks.  Really, 6 weeks! The muffins in the photo were the last of a batch of batter I had made up before Christmas company arrived. They were as good as the first dozen I baked from this same batch when my brother in law arrived mid December.  Fresh baked, homemade muffins are a snap with this "do ahead".

Bran Muffins

Mix together:
1 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. salt
5 tsp. soda

Add 4 eggs, one at a time.

Stir in:
5 cups flour
3 cups All Bran cereal 
2 cups Bran Flakes with raisins (Raisin bran cereal)
1 quart buttermilk

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 - 20 minutes.

I add additional raisins.

I like that I can bake as few or as many of these muffins as I need at any time, when this batter is prepared.  Fill greased muffin tins or muffin cup papers 3/4 full and pop into the oven and get back to the talkfest.  Don't forget to set the timer!  Time flies when you're having fun.

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol

Friday, February 7, 2014

lost angel. an unstaged still life

posted by jennifer:

oh, rapunzel barbie, with the post production mullet....
we all know how you feel...
most of us do at least.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Make ahead recipe #2

The second do ahead recipe is for Cheese Spread Rolls or as we have renamed it, Pizza Bread.
My earliest memory of this versatile dish is of my mom serving it for lunch in her and my dad's cabin in Crestline.  This memory is vivid, even though it is well over 40 years old.
I was making this unique tasting "pizza" on Sunday to take to a Super Bowl party.
I had made the cheese spread the day before and was assembling the individual rounds to be cooked later in the day.  A double do ahead!

Here's the recipe:

1 lb. grated sharp cheese
3 green onions (I use the white part and some of the green part of an entire bunch of green onions.)
3 or 4 chopped Italian peppers (I use at least 4, probably 6)
1/4 c. oil (I use only 1 Tablespoon olive oil, thinking the cheese has more than enough oil already.)
1 8 oz. can of tomato sauce
sliced olives

Mix together and spread on half French rolls or English muffins.  Place under broiler until cheese melts.

My mom used French rolls for hers, we like English muffin bottoms.
My mom used green olives, we like black.
The cheese spread can be made a week or more in advance and will wait in the refrigerator until you need it.   It can be spread onto the bread, with olives in place, a day or two ahead without compromise. Just cover and refrigerate on the baking sheets.
The English muffins pizzas can be served whole, as an entree, or sliced (using a pizza cutter) into halves or quarters, as appetizers.

These are always well received.  Give them a try, they might become one of your favorites too.

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

get's almost valentine's day!

posted by jennifer:

for the past 2 years i have participated in a valentine swap put on by blogger aunt peaches.  have you ever read her blog?  it is one of my favorites.
she organizes it all so that you send out three valentines and receive three valentines... from all over the country... well the world really.  last year one of my valentines came from china.  i love being part of it.

this year i decided to make valentine cascarones.... confetti eggs.  but instead of filling the egg with confetti, i slipped in a petite valentine.

how to make an eggcellent and unique valentine: 

first you need to gather some eggshells.  when you are cracking the egg,  use a knife... think more spreading knife and less machete...and gently break the egg towards the pointy end of the egg.  the idea is to have the cavity as large as possible, but you also need the opening to be large enough to fit your valentine in.  i am thinking i did the break about 3/4 of an inch from the top of the egg.

wash and dry the eggshells.   make french toast or scrambled eggs or cookies with the eggs.

now you are going to make your valentine.   i decided to make little paper birds that i just decorated with ink doodles.  you could write a love note, or add some sweets, or if you want it to be more of a traditional casarone heart confetti.  the sky is the limit.
"james dean, french fries, the skies the limit.  that's what they say."  name that movie.

to the bird, which measures 2 inches beak to tail feather and 1.5 inches top to bottom, i added a silver thread.  this serves as both a hanging loop, and as a beading string.   i also cut a thin piece of cotton fabric, 3/4 of an inch wide, and wrote my valentine sentiments on it. i then glued this to the back of the bird along with the silver thread.  make sure all the glue on your valentine is dry before moving on.

to put the bird in the egg, i rolled the strip of fabric around a pencil to form a roll so that the fabric wouldn't get as kinked up in the egg.   then gently slide it into the shell.

next you will add either a piece of tissue paper, or fabric, as i used,  to cover the hole in the egg.  glue along the edge of your fabric.  i used a 3 inch by 3 inch square.  then wrap the fabric around the egg.  embellish it as you please. 

when the recipient cracks open their valentine, they will not have egg on their hands, just a sweet bit of love.


Make ahead recipe #1

As I was working in the kitchen this past Sunday morning, I became aware that the home cooking I was doing was all linked to a do ahead effort.  All 3 recipes were favorites.  One coming from my mom, one from my husband's father, and one from a friend of 50+ years.  So all are etched into my heart and riding on my waist from years of cooking and eating them.  I will post each separately over the next week.

The first recipe is for 
Grandpa Taylor's Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup shortening
1  cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda
3 cups quick-cooking oatmeal  (I use regular "slow" 5 minute oatmeal.)
1/2 c chopped walnuts (I use a cup, because we love nuts.)

Thoroughly cream shortening and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla.  Beat well.  Sift together flour, salt, and soda; add to creamed mixture.  (I just dump the flour, salt and soda in, unsifted.)  Stir in the oats and nuts.  Mix.
Form dough in rolls 1" to 1 1/2" in diameter.  Wrap in foil or plastic wrap OR follow method below.
Chill thoroughly.  ( Several hours or over night  or 2 hours in freezer.)
With sharp knife, slice cookies 1/4" thick.  Bake on ungreased cookie sheet in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes of until lightly browned.  Makes about 5 dozen.

Now Grandpa Taylor came up with this method of shaping and slicing the dough.
Fill clean, empty juice concentrate cans with the dough, instead of shaping it into rolls.
Tap the dough down by hitting the sealed side on a hard surface. (I take the cans outside and hit them on the concrete porch, which compacts the dough nicely and is kind of fun.)
This recipe fills 3 - 12 oz. juice cans.  Cover the open side and refrigerate or freeze.
When the dough is thoroughly chilled, remove the lid from the second side of the cylinder.
Using a 12 oz. Coors can (or other beverage that has the correct 2 1/4" width), as a plunger
on the cardboard edge side of the can, push the dough out of the juice can. 
Let the dough warm slightly, if it is difficult to get it going.
Push up 1/4" of dough and slice.  Push up another 1/4" of dough and slice and continue until all the dough has been pushed out.

The nice things about this method are the cookies are uniform in shape, the dough doesn't flatten out when it is sliced and  the dough stores easily in refrigerator or freezer until you want to bake it.

After they are baked and cool,
I use some jumbo baking cups as separators when I store cookies.  This helps in keeping the cookies from sticking together, and it looks fancy in the jar.

Later in the week, pizza bread and bran muffin recipes that are great for do ahead occasions.

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol