I’m not sure what month the vintage photo was taken, but it likely wasn’t in November! We’ve had record-breaking snowfall this month. It’s ironic because it was only a week and a half ago that Wayne insisted we order that day the sparkly new two-stage snowblower to replace our existing single-stage. I wanted to wait until closer to December so that we could see how it performed in an actual storm and still be within the 30 day window to return it if he didn’t like it. I gave in but not without a bit of an eyeball roll and a comment about his being overly cautious. Well, it won’t be here until this weekend so to make up for it (and burn some calories in advance of tomorrow!) I hand shoveled our entire driveway three times yesterday as a surprise for Wayne for when he got home from work!
Within my collection of vintage Maine and New England community cook books dating back to the early 1900s are dozens and dozens of recipes for “Indian Pudding.” It’s a humble, mildly sweet and spicy baked cornmeal dessert served warm and paired with whipped or iced cream. Each recipe is as unique as the contributor. Even within one cook book there are sometimes multiple variations offered: Lottie adds tapioca, no eggs while Cora uses eggs and no tapioca. Mary bakes hers in a “slow oven” (lower temp) for four hours while Alice only bakes her for 1 1/2. After carefully reviewing my vintage sources I am offering you my own kitchen and taste tested (plus Wayne approved!) adaptation that’s made in a cast iron dutch oven. (This is an updated recipe from last year with new photos taken this morning!)
For the past five or so years I think of my special late friend “Mrs. T”, may she rest in peace, when I set up my vintage aluminum Christmas tree. For a year I visited with Mrs. T weekly at a local assisted living home for the elderly. She loved to hear about my yard sale adventures and what I had bought. “We used to call it junkin'” she informed me. Not that it matters, but Mrs. T was a very elegant lady. When I told her in the summer that I had purchased a beautiful vintage aluminum tree at a moving sale where the basement had been a private winter square dance hall she was thrilled! Not because of the square dancing but the tree: “I always wanted one but my husband wouldn’t allow it. He said it was tacky.”
By “it” I mean unofficial winter, but on the positive side the weather is cooperating with early Christmas decorating. We have blustery winds, was in the teens this morning, my car door and trunk were frozen shut and we’re getting
3-5 5-8(!!) inches of snow tomorrow night! Vintage Christmas decorating definitely takes some of the chill out of it for me. To begin, I added some modern lights to my Victorian Fairy Christmas store display soap box. I think the lights look rather retro, almost like an old time marquis.
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.
I purchased this beautiful 19th century leather-bound family bible at the flea market this summer. I love the vision of a Christian family sitting together around it, reading and praying together. It’s very heavy, weighing about fifteen pounds!
Every weekday morning Wayne reads an excerpt to me from one of my smaller-sized vintage bibles and then we reflect on it together. We started from Genesis and have made our way to the New Testament this past year. I truly cherish this time we spend together and the opportunity to speak from our hearts, free of judgement, about what we’ve read.
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.
This simple circa 1930s recipe for banana fritters was inspired by Ms. Ann Knight’s version in The Fellowship Cook Book by Members and Friends of The Second Congregational Church in Norway, Maine. These fritters are sweet with a smooth texture and best eaten piping hot from the skillet. They have no refined sugars other than the optional dusting of powdered sugar for presentation.
With my acceptance of the impermanence of things has come an increasing rejection of disposables, in particular paper napkins. For many years I’ve collected vintage kitchen linens that amassed in my cupboards. I’ve been using my vintage tea towels for nine years now to dry my dishes after I moved here (no dishwasher), but napkins, however, were off-limits because I was worried about them getting stained. I enjoyed keeping them “new” and simply admired them from time to time except for use on special occasions. However, when I broke open the still packaged mind-century cloth napkins to use on the honeymoon harvest table earlier this week it got me thinking: Why not enjoy what I have right now? Isn’t being alive and well enough to eat and having a full plate of food a special occasion?! Isn’t that a way to not just say grace at a meal but show it?!
Pretty things don’t need to stay sealed and safe because life can get dirty. It’s because life can get dirty that I want to stay clean, with style.
I have two cedar chests filled with vintage linens and drapes which has enabled me to have fun changing things up from time to time. All (including the chests) were acquired at estate sales over the past two decades.* For the last couple of years I’ve been using floral and striped bed linens in orange and yellow that coordinate with my 1960s orange curtains for a groovy feel. My pink chenille bedspread and pink bedding has been stored unused since I originally purchased them years ago, and this morning I knew I needed to put that disuse to bed! But with which curtains? Surely not my orange curtains….or could I?