Sunday, February 23, 2014

Happy Birthday to Pooh

A.A. Milne (rhymes with "kiln," one syllable), Christopher Robin Milne, and Winnie-the-Pooh

NPR has reminded me that this month is the 90th anniversary of Winnie-the-Pooh.  They posted a story about it, along with an audio clip of A.A. Milne reading from one of the stories in 1929:

So it seemed only appropriate, and timely, that I found these old friends at an estate sale this weekend:

One is The Pooh Story Book and the other is The World of Pooh, both by A.A. Milne and featuring "decorations and new illustrations in full color" by E. H. Shepard.

Inside one of the books was tucked a May 1970 McCall's magazine article on E. H. Shepard, shortly after he had created those new color illustrations.

That made me think:  E.H. Shepard did the first illustrations for the "Pooh" books in the 1920s.  He created new, color illustrations for reprint editions of the stories in the 1960s. 
E.H. Shepard, from

The website says of Shepard:

In his eighty-ninth year, he visited old friends and relations in Cape Town, Durban, Perth, Sydney and Tasmania, returning through Tahiti so that he could look at Gauguin relics.

In the same year, he completed some new Pooh drawings for a revised edition published by Dutton [publisher of the two books I found at the estate sale] in the United States; these remained lost and forgotten until discovered some years later by the now President of Dutton Children's books, Christopher Franceschelli, in the bottom drawer of a filing cabinet wrapped in brown paper and tied up with string.

89 years old.

I love stories about people who keep doing what their Creator gifted them to do, for decades on end.  E.H. Shepard did, and so did Christopher Robin and his faithful Bear:

And they still remember, to this day, 90 years later.  I give them a very good chance of reaching that hundred-year mark.

I have a young friend who will receive these old books about Pooh and the other creatures who live in the Hundred Acre Wood.  He's just discovering the joy of a good tale simply told and well-illustrated.

The story, indeed, goes on.  

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Think Spring: Pink Pyrex in the Pantry

(Yes, I love alliteration.)

A neighbor kindly brought us a bag of lemons from her backyard tree a few days ago.  (The fact that lemons bear fruit and flowers simultaneously, is a blessing with many benefits.)

I wondered for awhile how best to use so many lemons, and then I remembered the pink Pyrex dishes I'd found at a couple of recent estate sales.  Pyrex pink and lemon yellow are excellent Springtime colors -- and in some parts of this country we really need Spring to come again soon -- so I decided to combine them in my kitchen by making Lemon Bars.

Pyrex bowls and serving dishes are, as I've discussed elsewhere in this blog, extremely durable and useful. 

The blue snowflake Pyrex mixing bowls, featured in a previous blog post.

They came in a variety of colors, including at least two shades of pink.  I now have a carnation pink mixing bowl and a coral pink baking dish. 

 I also have a very good recipe for Lemon Bars, that came many years ago from my friend in Vermont.  I copied the recipe into the ring binder that serves as a homemade cookbook:

(You can tell that the recipe is a good one by the amount of food stains that have collected on the page over the years.)

Here's the recipe:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine in a mixing bowl (using an electric mixer if you have one):

1/2 cup (one stick) real butter
1 c. flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Mix these together in the bowl until the mixture looks like large crumbs about the size of split peas.  It may take awhile, depending on how cold the butter was when you started.  

Press this shortbread mixture into an ungreased 8x8" or 9x9" baking pan so that it covers the bottom of the pan evenly.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

While the shortbread mixture is baking, beat together thoroughly:

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice, strained

When the shortbread base is golden brown, remove it from the oven.  Pour the lemon/sugar mixture over the top evenly and return the pan to the oven for an additional 20-25 minutes or until the top is set and brown.

Cool before slicing into bars.  (I used a sharp knife dipped in very hot water to cut the slices.)  

Since my pink Pyrex baking dish is larger than 9x9", I doubled the recipe and it worked fine.  No sense running the risk of running out of Lemon Bars!  And I can take half of them to church for dessert after lunch tomorrow.

Here's a link to my previous blog post on Pyrex bowls:

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day Traditions

One of my favorite things to find at estate sales, is an old greeting card.  It's even more fun to find a box of old greeting cards someone has saved, because the images evoke a certain time in our history.

Anyone who went to a public elementary school in the mid- 20th century will probably remember the traditions surrounding Valentine's Day.  

In some schools, a few days before February 14th, you brought an empty cardboard box from home (such as a shoe box or an oatmeal tub) and decorated it in class with red, pink and/or white construction paper.  The teacher showed you how to fold a piece of construction paper in half and use your blunt-nosed school scissors to carefully cut half a heart out of the paper.  When you opened the half-heart, it had transformed into a whole heart!  

Then you pasted the hearts you'd cut out (probably using your fingers or a small flat round-edged wooden tongue depressor to apply the school paste) onto your box and wrote your name on it.  

There were no glue sticks back then, and there was no standardized test based on your classroom activity.  You were learning to follow instructions, to work quietly at your own desk, to develop hand/eye coordination, and to problem-solve when you forgot about cutting the heart out along the folded side of the paper and ended up with two half-hearts instead.   

You persevered, and your box was complete.  Then you cleaned up the little paper shards around your desk as best you could, and washed the school paste off your fingers at the classroom sink.  That is, unless you were the proverbial kid who ate school paste, but we won't go into that here -- we need to move on.  We need to get some Valentine's Day cards.

Sometime before the 14th, you also had to make or buy Valentine's Day cards for each of your classmates.  Perhaps you were stuck at home one evening with your scissors and your red construction paper, cutting out dozens of hearts and writing "BE MINE" on the middle of each (writing "BE MY VALENTINE" a couple of dozen times was too labor-intensive).

Or your mom took you to the drug store to buy a package of the appropriate number of school valentines.  These usually came either pre-cut in small flat boxes, or in book form that you could punch out.  

Some of the cards were interactive (although we didn't use that word to describe them).

You usually signed your name on the back of each card, although you also had the option of writing "FROM ???" ("ANONYMOUS" was too labor-intensive) if you didn't want the recipient to know that a) you liked them; or b) your mother told you that you had to give them a card even if you didn't like them -- it was The Right Thing To Do.

Note the cut-and-paste stickers on this page.  You'll need to get out your school paste again, or if you don't have school paste at home, the can of rubber cement or the golden-brown bottle of LePage's mucilage with the weird rubber nozzle.
There was usually a special card you could give to your teacher, who certainly deserved some extra love for all her hard work and especially for her patience.

Then on Valentine's Day at school, you set your decorated box out and your classmates (you hoped) filled it with their own valentines.  (I'm certain that the teachers kept extra anonymous valentines handy, so that everyone would get at least a few.)  Some kids gave a valentine to everyone in the class (probably at their parents' insistence); others would only give cards to the people they really liked.   

Either way, you always gave the cards you liked best to the people you liked best.  And sometimes you saved back a card for yourself because you just couldn't stand to give it away. To You, From You.

I'm keeping this one.

I found these old Valentines at some estate sales over the last couple of years.   Enjoy, and share them with your own Valentine.

I'm keeping this one, too.  

Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

One Good Pan Deserves Another

In my quest for More Things Vintage, I sometimes find more than one of the same kind of old thing in a short period of time. 

Such was the case at this morning's estate sale, which was within walking distance of the house.

At Christmas I'd received the gift of a large old Wagner Magnalite roasting pan.  So guess what I found at this morning's sale?

A smaller old Wagner Magnalite roasting pan.  For two dollars, I couldn't leave it there.  And just in time for more cool-weather cooking.

Junior still needs a little more cleaning before being put into service.  But they do look nice together.

If you missed my previous blog post on the larger Magnalite roasting pan, it's here: