bleak house

The photograph above is of Loyd Farm’s farmhouse. The photo was taken by my friend Robin Ashby, the editing is all mine. I wanted something to accurately reflect how I was feeling after hearing the little bits of snippets I have heard regarding the commissioners’ meeting in Caln last night.

Bleak and disgusted is how I am feeling.

Apparently the Valentine’s Day gift to residents was sharing the tidbit of joy that the developer of this parcel has submitted a demolition permit and it has been approved? Does anyone have a copy of the demolition permit and demolition permit application? They are things that can be obtained via a right to know form. And Caln can try to stall you on that but it is the right for the public to see that. Caln does have a right to know form and you can find it by CLICKING HERE.

It’s time to start peeling back the rotten layers of this moldy political onion isn’t it? Who really runs Caln Township? The commissioners seem like a bunch of sheeple don’t they? And yes I know some are going to take umbrage with that descriptive adjective of their beloved commissioners, but people who are really interested in land preservation, historic preservation, open space preservation, and more actually try to do more for their residents don’t they?

I have always been a realist. I know you can’t save every old house. But what I don’t understand is why no one is willing to try to save this old house? I believe the people who have told me that the building envelope is intact enough for restoration. After all, we have seen what has happened in other parts of Chester county when it comes to old houses and restoration haven’t we?

Three examples of this for me are the following: Loch Aerie Mansion, Linden Hall (even if I don’t like what’s going on there now, that is a true comparable to the Lloyd Farm’s farmhouse as far as condition and even age and I think the condition of Linden Hall was probably worse when they started restoring it), and The Covered Wagon Inn in Strafford. Loch Aerie and Linden Hall are in East Whiteland and The Covered Wagon Inn is in Tredyffrin.

And even Toll Brothers has saved historic farm houses and structures on several properties they have developed. That doesn’t mean I am suddenly condoning their cram plan density of their developments in Chester County, but even they have managed to save a few historic structures haven’t they? On Church Road in Malvern is there not an old farmhouse that was definitely open to the elements that they are in the process of restoring for that new development right there? There is another one in Chester Springs isn’t there? And that one in Chester Springs was in horrible shape – it was on a dirt road when I sought I think since then the dirt road has been paved to a regular road.

And don’t forget DuPortail House in Chesterbrook. Chesterbrook was a horribly contentious development back in it’s day and even there the historic farmhouse was preserved. Now every year multitudes of brides get married and have their receptions there. Other events occur there. People love it.

In Caln, what else does this developer own? Is Loyd Farm just part of a larger plan yet to unfold? Is it true that this developer is also the owner of County Propane in Downingtown?

I don’t have those answers but I have to tell you at this morning I am tremendously upset because I feel like a narrative is being crafted and molded to suit the ends of a future development if that makes sense? There seems to be almost this mynah bird repetitiveness that is emerging about how the farmhouse is not salvageable and is not restorable and how do we know this is actually true?

When did what communities wanted for themselves stop mattering? This whole thing about demolishing the Lloyd Farmhouse reminds me of when La Ronda was demolished in Bryn Mawr. When La Ronda was demolished around 2009 it was because in the end because the property owner could, not because he had to, remember? And that gentle readers, is the catch 22 of living in a private property rights state like the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It’s not necessarily right, but it is their right.

However what happened to elected and appointed officials who actually cared about where they called home? When did we the people literally stop mattering?

Whether it’s pipeline companies, developers, billboard companies and more why is it that it seems like everything they want matters more than what the people who live in the communities want?

Our history matters in Chester County. Our equine and agricultural history matters and farms are just disappearing day by day to developments. This developments come in and everything gets jacked including the taxes and how are farmers supposed to be able to afford to farm? The short answer is they often can’t and they just want to get out. At this current pace we are going to turn into a county that has to import all of its food.

The Chester county farmhouse is a classic and well-known architecture style. You know, like actual carriage houses? And in development after development they tell you they are mimicking farmhouse style and carriage house style so why not save some of the actual farm houses and carriage houses for Christ’s sake?

I was told by a resident and have not yet researched it on my own the following: Mary Louise Lloyd sold the property to nuns to build a hospital on in the 1970s – supposedly 1976. Then Mrs. Lloyd built her own house on Lloyd Avenue. Apparently then she opened something called Copeland Run Academy and lived and worked there. She donated the land that is Lloyd Park to Caln when she sold the farm. That of course is the recent history and again, the history of Lloyd Farm also known throughout history as Valley Brook Farm goes back to a Penn Land Grant.

We can’t just keep bulldozing our history. That’s as plain as I can state it.

#SaveLloydFarm

#ThisPlaceMatters

a good old flowing stream of female consciousness

schlitz-1952-dont-worry-darling-you-didnt-burn-the-beer-660x330There is this page on Facebook I follow called Her Voice Echoes.  In their own words:

Her Voice Echoes presents letters, editorials, articles and other documents written by and, sometimes, about women. A few voices will infuriate you. You may even find them abhorrent. Others will uplift and enlighten. Some will make you laugh, others cry. Hopefully, we’ll learn from all of them what it means to be human and the struggles that we share across centuries, social class, ethnicities and nationalities.

They post some great stuff and sometime things I roll my eyes at ever so slightly. Today, or last night probably, they posted something from Oprah.Com called The New Midlife Crisis. It’s about women, for women and Hallelujah we’re finally allowed by society to have a midlife crisis? Is that what it is?

I do have a problem with the article in the context that it seems directed at Gen X women.  So yo do only Gen X women feel these things? I am 54 and I can tell you this article resonates with me.  And not because my life is so terrible, it resonates because of what a decade ago almost my life could have been.

As the author of the piece Ada Calhoun starts to dig into her article she indroduces us to who the article is aimed at:

As I cooked dinner the other night, I thought about the women I had been talking to. They’re just entering, slogging through or just leaving their 40s. They belong to Generation X, born roughly during the baby bust, from 1965 to 1984, the Title IX babies who were the first women in their families to go to college. Or go away to college. Or to live on their own, launch a career, marry in their late 20s (or never) or choose to stay home with their children. They’re a Latina executive in California, a white stay-at-home mom in Virginia who grows her own organic vegetables, an African-American writer in Texas, an Indian-American corporate vice president who grew up in the suburbs of New York, and dozens more. They’re smart. They’re grateful for what they have. They’re also exhausted. Some of them are terrified. A few of them are wondering what the point is.

Read more: http://oprah.com/new-midlife-crisis.html#ixzz5fLptxLg0

Oh Ms. Calhoun? Umm Gen X women are not the only ones experiencing this.

Someone I know turned to me recently and said she felt like she had no purpose.  This almost broke my heart because this is a person whom I find to always have purpose, someone who has very quietly done some very amazing things.

I said to her that I think purpose as in our life’s purpose can shift and change and is always multi-faceted.  I also said I think purpose can change as we change and age and life situations change.  What might have been our intended purpose in our 20s isn’t the same as when  we hit our 30s. Our 40s. Our 50s. (and so on)

I also think if we stop to breathe, and open our minds and hearts, purpose can indeed find us.

The author of the Oprah.com piece Ada Calhoun continues:

The complaints of well-educated, middle- and upper-middle class women are easy to dismiss as temporary, or not really a crisis, or #FirstWorldProblems. America, in the grand scheme of things, is still a rich, relatively safe country. (Syrian refugees do not have the luxury of waking up in the middle of the night worried about credit card bills.) Although many women are trying to make it on minimum-wage, split-shift jobs (and arguably don’t have so much a midlife crisis as an ongoing crisis), women overall are closing the wage gap. Men do more at home. We deal with less sexism than our mothers and grandmothers, and have far more opportunities. Insert your Reason Why We Don’t Deserve to Feel Lousy here.

Fine. Let’s agree that this particular slice of Generation X women shouldn’t feel bad. And yet, many do: Nearly 60 percent of Gen Xers describe themselves as stressed out. A 2009 analysis of General Social Survey data showed that women’s happiness “declined both absolutely and relative to men” from the early ’70s to the mid-2000s. More than one in five women are on antidepressants. An awful lot of middle-aged women are furious and overwhelmed. What we don’t talk about enough is how the deck is stacked against them feeling any other way…..Part of the reason we don’t know much about women’s midlife experience is that the focus has often been on men. For them, the “midlife crisis” (a term coined by psychoanalyst Elliott Jaques in a 1965 journal article) usually involves busting stuff up—marriages, mostly—but also careers, norms, reputations….Other research suggests that women’s happiness bottoms out around 40; men’s, around 50. (Maybe that’s another reason the female experience isn’t much discussed: By the time men start thinking about these issues, women seem unaffected, but only because they’ve already been through it.)

Read more: http://oprah.com/new-midlife-crisis.html

More than one in five women in the US are on anti-depressants I personally think  in part is because doctors don’t want to doctor, it’s easier to satisfy big pharma and prescribe a pill.

Goddamnitall women don’t just want to be given a pill, sometimes they just want someone to talk to and to listen to them because trust me they do not always get it at home.  For the first part of my 40s I often felt a panic because at that time I was in a relationship with someone who preferred the sound of his own voice to anyone else’s. Fortunately for me, that is not what my life held for me and that person exited my life…in a blizzard (I loved snow that year.)

-1950s-usa-kissing-sexism-the-advertising-archivesBut if I think back on it and that relationship in particular, taking into consideration this Oprah.com article did I subconsciously stay in that relationship far longer than I should have because of some unexpressed and somewhat unknown fear at the time of being alone or not doing what was sort of expected of me? I am thinking that is true because it wasn’t until that relationship was over did I realize again that I did NOT have to panic, I could survive on my own, and I had value as a human being.  And at that point, I began to breathe again and rediscover who I was.

I am not a Gen Xer as I was born the year before they designate the appropriate time frame (1965 to 1984). I will tell you that my friends and I feel like we were of the last generations of women groomed to be more highly decorative than highly functional.  If we were highly functional it was either a happy accident or an act of rebellion.

85d6c911dea88d1fab9d4bea935b0f23--vintage-food-vintage-adsNice Main Line girls were groomed at home, at school, at dancing class.  When I was at Shipley there was still afternoon tea. It was served in part by alumnae.  My late mother-in-law would even put in an appearance. Only she is someone who had I been given the opportunity I would have paid more attention to because she was independent and a maverick of sorts. I can still tell you what it was like when I watched her come into Shipley for trustee meetings, but I never actually met her then or had a conversation with her.  She carried herself like a cross between a dancer and a queen.

After Shipley, we girls were invited (or not invited but in those days people could not just dictate and shove their way in) to dance in the Cotillion of the Charity Ball.  Or if your parents had the money and the pedigree you could be a full-fledged debutante. If you had a proper Mayflower or Early American pedigree you also/or did The Assemblies.  As I had neither in my family tree, I was never sure which it was, only that until recently if you weren’t part of a select family you couldn’t attend even as a guest.

My two standout memories from the 1981 Charity Ball? My enforced blind date my mother chose photographed on a bench in the Bellevue reading the program book appearing in the 1982 Charity Ball Program with some sarcastic comment underneath it….and boy was my mother furious. The second memory is being ready to go out with my cotillion partner and praying Bobby Scott wouldn’t murder my last name. Seriously.

So we as girls/young women went to college, some on to graduate school, medical school and so on and so forth.  But the message was always confusing: were we supposed to be independent and strong women or bits of fluff that looked good at dinner parties? Or both?

Ada Calhoun further noted in her Oprah.com article the following:

Women our age sometimes romanticize the freedom we used to have as kids in the ’70s or ’80s, but sociologist Linda Waite, PhD, director of NORC at the University of Chicago’s Center on Demography and Economics of Aging, has done extensive national surveys of middle-aged people, and she says Gen X was at a disadvantage from the start. Our parents’ choices often led to instability at home. Four in 10 Gen X children were likely to have divorced parents (the divorce rate, which peaked in 1980, recently hit a 36-year low). The effect was both financial (when your father leaves, it’s much less likely he’ll pay for college) and psychological.

“If your parents are divorced,” Waite says, “you see the world in a fundamentally different way. You see the world as unstable. That left people cautious.”

If our childhood in the late ’70s and early ’80s was a time of massive changes—the first generation of latchkey kids, high crime rates in the headlines, missing children’s pictures on milk cartons, the AIDS epidemic beginning—our transition to adulthood was equally rocky. Many of us started our job hunts in the early ’90s recession, which was followed by a “jobless recovery.” If you were born later into Generation X, you might have entered the workforce around the 1999-ish stock market peak, but the tech bubble started to burst, landing us in the 2001 recession.

I did not have divorced parents, but sometimes I question where emphasis was placed.  I often felt out-of-place and unheard.  I was supposed to do what I was told. Period.  I will note that this is something my husband has felt on occasion marred my abilities as a step-parent because of what I learned by living through.

offending_deodorant2-e13893829729241In my house growing up there was very heavy emphasis on how you looked and how you behaved.  Ok fine, no one wants to be godless and immoral but what does this do to self-body image and self-worth? In the junior high school and high school years I could prance with the best of them, but it was often just a survival charade so weakness wasn’t smelled in the air by the mean girls.  To be honest self-worth was an epiphany when I was going to turn 50 and self-body image? I still struggle with it thanks to breast cancer.

Ada Calhoun talks about women our age  (ok I will just say “our” since I was only born a year before her age range) possessing a bone-deep, almost hallucinatory panic about money (almost a direct quote from the article) and I can’t disagree. And she points out that experts say social security may or will run out in 2040. Or when I am into my 70s. Lovely.  I pay my taxes, have paid into social security for years and in the end will the U.S. government just rip millions of us off? I do not think I will ever relax about money.  It’s a love hate relationship.  If you have ever worried about falling down a financial rabbit hole, you understand the fear rational or irrational.

When my parents were in their 30s and 40s they had a nice house and so on.  When I was in my 30s and 40s I was still struggling on occasion and shock and horrors, I was single.  I swear that is what was hardest on my mother, that I was not married.  I remember when my sister and brother-in-law threw my parents a fancy 40th anniversary party. I was told by my mother I could not attend without a DATE. Yes seriously. In the end I did indeed attend without a date and much to mommy’s chagrin I did not in fact turn into a pillar of salt or something.

But that whole single thing was stressful and depressing at times.  Not because I was upset particularly but because everyone else was.  Because I was single so long it was always funny to see things I was left out of. It’s like I was viewed as a freak or unnatural. Sometimes married couples viewed me as suspect. One time someone told me once they couldn’t include me at a dinner party because she didn’t want an odd number and she was sure I would understand.  No not really, that was kind of rude.

The article goes on to say that a lot of us feel stress and depression because we feel stalled in our careers.   I don’t quite see that for myself personally because when I survived breast cancer my doctors literally sat me down and told me I had to change my life, job, and reduce stress. That was when I left my former industry. Truthfully, it was one of the best things I ever did for myself.  It was scary because the unknown was/is  scary but it was incredibly freeing.

You could say I joined the gig economy after a fashion. A gig economy is defined as a free market system in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements.  Otherwise known as freelance.  Sometimes it is frustrating, but it’s not so scary and it is doable. Sometimes you just have to hustle.

What was also freeing? Finding the relationship I had always wanted slightly later in life.  Knowing more of who I was and who my partner was made all of the difference.  We came together because we wanted to be together, not because it was expected to be so. My husband is an amazing man, and yes I feel blessed every day that he loves me and I love him.

That love and understanding for me has been all the difference.  I won’t say I still don’t have my occasional midlife panic moments but I am more grounded now I think and actually supported. When you feel supported as a human being, the panic of crisis points will subside.  You are not walking a tightrope without a net when you have someone you love and trust implicitly.

Slowly I am learning you are only as stuck as you allow yourself to be. I never truly knew that before.  When you run around in your head from thought to thought you do get stuck sometimes.

And from In Her Words a New York Times Column I subscribe to, I learned about this old column from 1931:

petty

Dean Douglass was certainly ahead of her time.  I also saw something else I took note of fly by on Facebook today also on Her Voice Echoes:

saw this

Also today and again from the New York Times In Her Own Words column? A snippet on early feminists from a larger article.

They refer to a letter written by one of my colonial favorites, Abigail Adams, to her husband John in March, 1776:

…I feel very differently at the approach of spring to what I did a month ago. We knew not then whether we could plant or sow with safety, whether when we had toild we could reap the fruits of our own industery, whether we could rest in our own Cottages, or whether we should not be driven from the sea coasts to seek shelter in the wilderness, but now we feel as if we might sit under our own vine and eat the good of the land.

I feel a gaieti de Coar to which before I was a stranger. I think the Sun looks brighter, the Birds sing more melodiously, and Nature puts on a more chearfull countanance. We feel a temporary peace, and the poor fugitives are returning to their deserted habitations.

Tho we felicitate ourselves, we sympathize with those who are trembling least the Lot of Boston should be theirs. But they cannot be in similar circumstances unless pusilanimity and cowardise should take possession of them. They have time and warning given them to see the Evil and shun it. — I long to hear that you have declared an independency — and by the way in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands.  Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If perticuliar care and attention is not paid to the Laidies we are determined to foment a Rebelion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.

That your Sex are Naturally Tyrannical is a Truth so thoroughly established as to admit of no dispute, but such of you as wish to be happy willingly give up the harsh title of Master for the more tender and endearing one of Friend….

Doesn’t.That.Just. Blow. You. Away???

Where am I going with this post? Not sure at this point. It started as one thing, has segued to other things like a good old flowing stream of female consciousness. Sorry, not sorry I have a busy brain.  Sometimes it takes a while to turn it off.

The article on Oprah.com is huge and I think really interesting.  I will finish with one last quote from the article:

And I think of what my friend who grew up in Mexico once told me: “The 30s are the adolescence of your adulthood,” she said, “and when you reach 50, it’s a restart—empieza de nuevo—a second chance.”

Well dayummm. Like Miss Jean Brodie I am in my prime now I guess?

Thanks for rambling. Stay dry and warm this evening and Happy Valentine’s Day a couple of days early.

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snow day baking: applesauce cake

Over the weekend I wrote about a little vintage recipe box with recipes in it that I bought. Another thing I bought was a vintage aluminum 9″ Mirro clampless side pin release spring form pan. (Model 1359 M if you are interested.)

The pan looks like this:

The little side pin just slides on and locks into place. The pin is an easy piece to lose, so the spring form pans I usually see around have a latch. I hadn’t seen one with a pin intact for years. Needless to say that made me psyched to find this pan, which was completely in round and in perfect working order.

Yesterday in a fit of pre-snow domesticity that included a batch of chili for later this week, I decided to bake.

In my little recipe box there is indeed a recipe for applesauce cake, but the one I am sharing is my own recipe that I use. My mother and grandmother used to make applesauce cake all of the time, so this was basically the recipe they used but I tweaked it to my liking.

My mother and grandmother used to bake their applesauce cake and a 13″ x 9″ rectangular pan. I like the tube pan better for simple cakes like this. Besides, it looks prettier for the presentation of it all. (Yes, sometimes I have to let my inner Martha Stewart shine absurdly.)

The vintage Fiestaware round platter in the photo I already owned. A few years ago I swapped out all of my “every day china” for vintage Fiestaware. I don’t know what it is about the dishes but they make me happy. Probably the colors.

However like any other vintage plate, I never ever put it in the microwave. In the case of the Fiestaware it also has to do with the old glazes. (Check out this article from Smithsonian and The Spruce.) Old plates were designed pre-microwave and pre-dishwasher.

My Fiestaware is fine in the dishwasher, although sometimes I just hand wash it. Other old plates I have like Limoge never, ever go in the microwave or dishwasher because of the glazes and the metallic gold leaf touches. But having to do a few dishes by hand never hurt anybody.

However this post is not a primer on vintage dishes is it? It’s about the applesauce cake. (Yum)

I will note that yesterday this cake took 50 to 55 minutes to bake. So once you hit the 45 minute mark you have to keep an eye on it depending on your oven.

(And yesterday, shhhh don’t tell I didn’t have applesauce but I did have homemade apple butter I had made. And what is apple butter except more cooked down applesauce, right?)

And here is your hack for flouring and greasing a pan. Depending on what kind of a cake it is sometimes instead of dusting with flour if it’s a chocolate cake for example, I will grease the pan and dust with unsweetened Cocoa. Or I will dust with almond meal otherwise known as ground almonds. But for a cake like this, I am just going to dust with flour but I prefer the flour you use when making a roux: Wondra.

Wondra is super fine. That’s what makes it quick mixing for a roux or a gravy. That’s what makes it ideal in my opinion when you have to grease and flour a baking pan. I sometimes use it for dredging meat to brown for a stew.

But again, sorry, I got off track. Here is the recipe:

Applesauce Cake

3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted but slightly cooled

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

2 1/4 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

2 cups applesauce

1/2 cup white raisins

1 cup chopped walnuts

Powdered sugar to dust cake when cool

• Preheat oven to 350°F degrees

• In a big bowl whisk white sugar, brown sugar and mix well.

• Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and vanilla, then mix until well blended and fluffy.

• Add to the creamed mixture salt, spices, baking powder, baking soda, then the applesauce. Add the flour.

• Finally fold in the raisins and walnuts.

• Pour batter into a greased and floured tube pan and bake until firm to the touch, about 50 minutes. Let cool in the pan, then pop it out of the pan and dust with powdered sugar.

lloyd farmhouse STILL not secured! caln township are you listening?

My friend Robin Ashby sent me some entirely too heartbreaking photos from Lloyd Farm. This is what he had to say to people about a visit there this weekend:

Historic Stewardship involves documenting a site before it becomes the next High Density housing project, raising awareness and speaking out – Nestled in Downingtown is a parcel dating back to Penn’s Land Grant Charter of the late 1600s. The ruins of the barn and outbuildings are stunning examples of stonework using Downingtown Blue Limestone from 1800 -1940, overgrown formal gardens in which one finds one of the largest (and oldest) Japanese Maples in Pennsylvania sit waiting to be brought back to life. The farmhouse is circa 1795 and is rapidly disintegrating, but has 8+ bedrooms and beautiful architectural elements.

This will shortly become high rise, high density commercial/residential housing for 1000+ new residents. The fields will be gone, the fox, deer and birds will find other habitat.

Of course, we have the ability to speak up and say that this doesn’t have to happen quite like this. Caln Township will discuss this project on February 12 at their meeting, DAHS (Downingtown Area Historical Society) suggests that you attend and listen.

What in the hell is wrong with Caln Township and whomever the developer is? Literally a week ago I wrote about this as then people were also inside the historic farmhouse on thr property because it was wide open and not properly secured.

It’s like someone doesn’t want this farmhouse to survive do they?

Japanese Maples are among my favorite trees! And who knew this property had the oldest one? Or had at one time such fabulous gardens? Who has old garden photos to share???

Here is the info on the upcoming meeting:

And again, many thanks to Robin Ashby for the photos. Here are some more:

like a little pandora’s box: the old recipe box

I love to cook and everyone who knows me knows I collect vintage and old cookbooks, so today I added an old recipe box to my repertoire.

It was a funny little thing and probably no one else would have bought it because it’s like a piece of some other woman’s history but it has all her cherished recipes in it, which I find really cool. I also found it really sad that no one in her family wanted it.

Old Fashioned Walnut Loaf? Sounds pretty good!

These are just a few of the recipes. The owner of the recipe box seem to like pineapple because there are a lot of pineapple recipes. But there are also a couple of old-fashioned fudge recipes too!

Pot pies. Green bean casserole (which I will keep in the recipe box but will never cook because I think it’s gross.) And more!

Now that I have this recipe box and it’s a nice one I am also going to add my late mother-in-law’s recipes. She was a legendary home cook and it was because of her I learned how to make an amazing gazpacho.

I love old recipes. Especially the handwritten ones. They are history. Someone took the time to write these down, which is what makes them special.

These old handwritten recipes are a thing. There is actually a blog called Handwritten Recipes but the creator hasn’t posted since December.

Now most prefer the ease of simply going to the internet and letting your fingers do the walking but nothing beats an amazing old cookbook. Or a recipe someone thought enough of to write down.

Old cookbooks and old handwritten recipes are a little like going on a mystery history tour. And if you want to master a basic recipe in the kitchen, this is how to do it. New cookbooks are lovely but it’s the old ones that really teach you the art of cooking. Not just a new recipe.

Tips and tricks. That is also what you will find in between the pages of old cookbooks and recipe boxes. It’s kind of cool when you find one. You also learn about the food trends of the past. (HINT: check out a cooking show from Ireland you can find streaming on Netflix called Lords and Ladles.)

In 2018 Food and Wine wrote an article on cookbook collecting:

Before you throw your old cookbooks away, it might be worth getting them appraised. Antiques Roadshow’s latest season, which premiered this past Monday, will make a stop in one of America’s most beloved food cities: New Orleans. While shooting in the well-known southern travel destination and former Louisiana capital’s convention center last summer, Antiques Roadshow appraiser and Brattle Book Shop owner Ken Gloss revealed to Forbes that our old family cookbooks are worth more than we realize….According to Gloss, some of the earliest American cookbooks (dating back to the 1790s) are selling in the $1,000 range, while books from as far back as the 1400s and 1500s go for thousands of dollars. Some other pricey collectibles are glossy cookbooks about cake decorating from the 1920s, first editions signed by cooking legends like Julia Childs and Fannie Farmer, and even some hard to find recipe pamphlets once included with newly purchased appliances. Gloss states that although seemingly mundane, their high price tag is due to how these items serve as historical documents—about places, people, cultures, and, of course, the food of the time.

“[Cookbooks] offer a view into society at the time,” Gloss told Forbes. “What were the foods people were eating? What was available? How were they preparing them?”

Old cookbooks and discarded recipe boxes can be found everywhere. Thrift stores, garage and estate sales, eBay, Etsy, Thriftbooks, used book stores local to where you live, library book sales and more. Church rummage sales are one of my go to sources for old cookbooks.

Step away from your keyboard next time you need a recipe and dust off a cookbook or crack open an old recipe box. You never know what treasures you will unearth!

old linens.

I have a definite weakness for old, vintage, and antique linens. Today I stumbled across a bunch of beautiful heavy cotton pillow cases with the hand done crochet tatting at the edges of each pillow case.

This is what the hand tatting/crocheting looks like:

The pillowcases are in perfect condition with no holes or split seams. They have yellowed with age and that is why I have them soaking and what I use for almost all of my old linens- Restoration.

I have spoken about this product before. Restoration is by Engleside Products. I used to use Biz and other things, but this is far superior and gets out more stains than I’ve ever seen with any other product.

I will soak these pillowcases in Restoration overnight and then rinse well and possibly wash again in Woolite and then dry on a drying rack.

These pillowcases will need to be ironed but they’re lovely. And a good tip for when you are ironing old linens is to do it on the reverse with a colorfast towel in between you and your vintage/old/antique linens. And I know how awesome these are going to be once the yellowing lifts off them.

I really like the feel of old crisp pillowcases. Old linens are just the best. People think that they are off-limits because they either shouldn’t be used because they’re old, or or too difficult to use because they’re old.

It’s like your old china and silver and glassware – who are you saving it for ? Use these vintage things. Use these antique things. They were meant to live not live like they are in a museum in your blanket chest or china cabinet or linen closet.

I like my old stuff, and I use it. I have also written before about vintage quilts.

When I pick these pillowcases up they are never too dear in price and don’t be afraid to ask for a better price from a dealer. I use them and when they wear out I often give them to people that work with textiles to give them a second life in something else.

The picture at the bottom of this post is one I found on the Internet of pillowcases someone else had that they were selling on eBay. I just want you to have an idea of what I bought looks like since all you see is them soaking in the sink. The pillow cases I have soaking have triangular edged tatting.

Thanks for stopping by.

in search of the art we love.

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Once upon a time in a lifetime of mine long, long ago I worked in New York City.  Ok yes, decades ago at this point but there were things outside of work that are still these pleasant snippets of enjoyable experiences and memories.  Among them was there was (and still is) art everywhere.

Music, art, theater.  Subways with poetry on posters like my favorite poem by William Butler Yeats:

Image may contain: textWhen You Are Old

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

Hearing fabulous jazz bands at the Blue Note.   Rediscovering Caffè Reggio on MacDougal.

All of the various street fairs, and flea markets, and art markets. Dusty old bookstore, antique stores, thrift shops.

A lot of what I liked at the time was down around Greenwich Village. There were so many cool stores and places to check out.

And then there were all of the artists you would see hawking their wares outside of various museums all over the city like the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  A lot of this still goes on, incidentally…in between the knock off designer handbag stands and so on.

I was young and well when you are young your salary doen’t go far and funky shoes from a boutique on the Upper West Side was likely to win out over art because well…you couldn’t wear a painting to happy hour, right?   But here and there there were artists I would see and just liked for whatever reason.  Not necesarily them personally, but their work.

There was this one artist named Anna Tefft Siok whose work I had seen somewhere one time that I liked, but had then forgotten even her name.  It had been a bird watercolor.  An owl. Sort of abstract but I liked it. And that was saying something because abstract is not really me.

I had not seen work from this artist again in the intervening years until a piece popped up on eBay a year or so ago.  Dishfunctional in West Chester had this woodpecker for sale in their eBay storeIt was that artist from long ago. I remembered the owl. Her name was Anna Tefft Siok. Only I did not want to pay what Disfuntional was asking for something I would have to definitely re-frame.

So I watched the woodpecker print and waited…and over a year later I pulled up the Disfunctional listing just to see.  The print had not dropped in price but when I put in the artist’s name another copy of the print showed up with an antique dealer in Maine.  At less than half of what the other exact same print was listed at. That seemed more reasonable to me. (I have found the Disfuntional prices to be a little high at times, sadly.)

Today I took my newly found woodpecker to be framed.  Framers Market Gallery in Malvern is who I use for all of my framing. As a related aside, they also represent quite a few Chester County artists.  I will have to take something off of my walls when the woodpecker comes home.

I love the process of finding the perfect mat and frame.  Framers Market Gallery is very patient with me when it comes to that.  And the owner Jayne has impeccable taste.

We ended up with a double mat and a frame which will pick up the texture of the woodpecker’s tree:

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The frame my print arrived in was older and while in o.k. condition, the print had never been properly framed and you could see some yellowing on the edges – nothing which was properly acid proof was in the frame with the print and when we took the old mat and paper away from the print we could see the damage from inexpensive framing, sadly.  When it is finished, the woodpecker print will be framed properly and last a long, long time.

Curious about the artist, I went a Googling.  I discovered she had gone to RISD in Rhode Island and had taught for years at Greenwich House Pottery and  the 92nd Street Y.

I found her obituary, which told me more about her:

anna obit

Courtesy of Greenwich House and the pottery staff the following  sentiment from them was shared with me about my rediscovered artist:

Esteemed faculty member Anna Siok taught children’s classes at Greenwich House Pottery from 1958 to 2009. Throughout this period, Anna’s generosity of spirit enriched many lives. We established the Anna Siok Award in her honor in 1995, which honors her life of creativity, nurturing support and enduring presence. We continue to give out this award annually to an artist at Greenwich House Pottery who displays excellence in handbuilding.

I will note I also contacted the 92nd Street Y.  Sadly, they had absolutely nothing to share.  What I got was “Unfortunately we don’t have her bio on file. Good luck in your ongoing search!”   Anna Tefft Siok taught at both places for over 50 years.  I know she died in 2010, but seriously? They had nothing on file? It’s like she never existed.

I am glad Greenwich House too the time for me.  I urge people to check out Greenwich House Pottery.  It seems really cool.

In the obituary online, I found photos of my artist:

I know people probably think this is strange, but it’s part of the provenance of the piece: who created it.  Now do I think her work is going to be worth tons of money? No, but I like it. Or I like this piece.

And once again that is the thing about art: buy what you like.  It does not have to be expensive.  It does not have to be a famous artist, although Anna Tefft Siok was respected and was well known throughout her life in New York.

Art brings me joy.  I have core things I will never part with (my Margery Niblock wood cuts for example), but I will replace art pieces I discovered with other pieces I discovered.  Tastes change, we evolve in what strikes a chord with us at different stages of our lives.

Art brokers and gallery owners alike probably wouldn’t like me saying art doesn’t have to be rare or priceless to hold huge amounts of monetary value. But art should make us happy, evoke a memory, provoke a memory, cause a new memory to happen. Or when all else fails, you just like something. And no one else has to like it. Only you.

So many people love art yet live with blank walls. Sometimes I think it’s because they do not know what to buy. Or are afraid. To them I say: what do you like? What would make you happy?

For me it makes me happy that I stumbled upon an artist once again I had seen long ago.  And living in the woods, having a woodpecker print is kind of appropriate, I think.

I will close with one last photo of this artist from her 2010 obituary.  Painting in the summer.  I now have a cool provenance to go with a print I just liked.

Explore art.  Support local artists wherever you live. Life is too short for bare walls.

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