Beautiful Maine Made Cotton & Wool Blankets

Many of my long-time readers know how much I love vintage linens and changing up our bedding to create different looks. I broke from tradition last fall and bought a new (as in not new old stock but NEW new) wool blanket online that was made in France. Other than being a drab color like most every wool blanket on the market it seemed nice enough until I realized that the French on the label said it had been mothproofed! I do NOT want to have a chemical-treated blanket against my skin! I sent it back.

Wayne and I took a ride up to Freeport last weekend to buy him a few things at Brooks Brothers. Afterward we stopped in the Maine Woolens outlet. I had never been in it before and assumed they were selling ubiquitous made in China blankets perhaps with added kitschy lighthouses or starfish on them. I was not anticipating the wonderful surprise inside!

Continue reading “Beautiful Maine Made Cotton & Wool Blankets”

Be a Rebel. Eat a Potato!

I’m naughty, according to many “experts”. I eat a lot of potatoes! Potatoes have an unscientific and undeserved bad reputation among many who recoil at consuming carbohydrates. When I wrote my first vintage diet book I received some feedback from people stating that the wholesome foods I mentioned in the book, like potatoes, make people fat! They will give you diabetes! (Fact: the American Diabetes Association states you CAN have potatoes even when you have diabetes!)

The humble potato, instead of being branded as bad for you or any weight loss program, should have rock star food status. It’s subversive yet secretly healthy! Potatoes in raw form are inexpensive, simple to prepare, delicious and readily available at most grocery stores. They are also a Maine diet staple. Let’s take a look at the numbers:

Continue reading “Be a Rebel. Eat a Potato!”

My Outdated Vintage Eat-In Kitchen

We live in a culture of RENOVATE! UPDATE! BE ON TREND! with the specific dictates changing frequently. We’re confronted with TV shows where a perfectly serviceable kitchen is perceived as some sort of ugly moral failing followed by gleeful smashing it to pieces (instead of salvaging and donating it) to make room for whatever their sponsor/producer/unchecked budget is providing them. Online “influencers” show off their HGTV-worthy homes that are often renovated with a high frequency.  It can be easy to feel like there’s something wrong with good enough if it’s not fashionable.

Continue reading “My Outdated Vintage Eat-In Kitchen”

Vintage Recipe: Fish Friday New England Chowder

Thanks to the Maine Rebekahs, whom I consider to be some of the greatest New England home cooks who have also provided almost 100 years of recipes, you can make a winning, traditional New England fish chowder. I’ve adapted this simple, frugal 1920s recipe to make it meat-free since New England fish chowders almost always contain pork in addition to seafood. Wayne said that he wouldn’t have noticed its absence based upon how flavorful this is. Truly it’s so easy to make yet it will produce a chowder that will make you feel like a seasoned New England cook.

Continue reading “Vintage Recipe: Fish Friday New England Chowder”

A Simple February Passage

“What other men have thought is valuable, but its chief value is, not to save us from the labor of thinking, but to enable us to think the better for ourselves.”

From “The Golden Way to the Highest Attainments” by Rev J.H Potts D.D, 1889

Some Mainers (aka “snowbirds”) go to Florida to escape February (and the couple of months prior and after) during their down time. I keep it local and go to the couch! February is a time when I do more reading. The cozy simplicity of snuggling under a wool throw with a cup of tea and good book takes the edge off of one of my least favorite months. I’m actually starting to grow fond of this time of year. The more I accept February as it is instead of feeling righteous indignation in response to things like the short daylight, icy public walkways, the lonely glossy white landscape outside my window that’s devoid of friendly furry or feathered visitors, the more agreeable it is/I am! In fact I often think a good test of true inner joy is not needing summery days to have a sunny disposition.

Continue reading “A Simple February Passage”

A Simple, Frugal Recipe: Navy Bean Soup

It was in the 1980s during my undergrad years at University of Maine in Orono when I had a memorable lunch at a “non-traditional” classmate’s house. We had been assigned to a small group to work on a project, the specifics of which I don’t recall. What I do remember is that the classmate who was hosting us was in her forties and had just finished hiking the entire Appalachian Trail with her partner which I really admired. She served us a very simple brothy bean soup that was completely vegan. It was one of the most flavorful yet basic soups I had ever had. I learned that good, filling food doesn’t have to be complex and can be affordable, even for starving students. (Admittedly that may have added to the flavor!) In any case, I still love a simple bean soup, and here is a personal recipe:

Continue reading “A Simple, Frugal Recipe: Navy Bean Soup”

Time Travel: Reading an Old Book by Candlelight

Here’s a simple evening exercise to help you gently step away from overly complicated living. One of the greatest conveniences of brief mental time travel (or going off the cultural grid) is that it doesn’t cost anything. No fancy machinery, expensive tickets, long lines, or invasive security searches need be involved. In fact it’s the opposite!

Continue reading “Time Travel: Reading an Old Book by Candlelight”

Vintage Inspired Recipe: Old-Fashioned Maine Needhams Potato Candy

If you’re not from Maine, you might think the above photo is of a homemade Mounds candy bar. You’re close! But you’d probably be shocked to learn that they contain mashed potatoes in the coconut centers! They are a delicious traditional Maine candy called “Needhams” which have also historically been called “potato candy” or “potato fudge”. However, if you are from Maine and familiar with Needhams you may be surprised to discover that the modern version has gone far astray from yesterday’s healthier and more wholesome homemade versions dating as far back as 1924.

Continue reading “Vintage Inspired Recipe: Old-Fashioned Maine Needhams Potato Candy”

November’s Fading Light

One of our wedding gifts was a pair of brass candlesticks that we decided to place in Wayne’s office. When I saw how nice they looked I wanted to keep an eye out for others knowing they add a romantic touch to winter. It’s always a difficult mental and emotional transition in November when the sun sets before 4:30 p.m. so natural light is a gift. Then, a few weeks ago at an estate sale I saw vintage brass and hand blown glass candlesticks on the floor and mantle of the home’s fireplace! I made a beeline and bought all of them for only $40.  (It was also Wayne’s first ever estate sale with me since he used to work Saturdays until recently which makes them extra special.) As a wedding gift to ourselves we completed them by ordering a beautiful selection of beeswax candles made in the U.S.A. to replace the cheap and toxic paraffin tapers in use.

Continue reading “November’s Fading Light”

Another Vintage Bedroom Mini Makeover

Not long ago I posted pics of my semi-complete bedroom mini-makeover featuring a vintage estate sale pink chenille pom pom bedspread and coordinating bed sheets. I had experimented with leaving my 1960s estate sale orange curtains up but decided to buy (gasp) new yellow curtains. I shopped online until I found thermal lined light yellow panels that I thought would look GREAT! But like so many new things these days they were outgassing a caustic chemical odor (GASP) so here’s what I did next.

Continue reading “Another Vintage Bedroom Mini Makeover”