Friday, March 22, 2013

Fabulous Book Finds

I just had to share what I found at my favorite used book store, Wonder Book!

I already have a copy of this reprint of the Sears & Robuck 1900s catalog, but I had cut it up as a teenager to use for crafts... What was I thinking?! I've always felt guilty about it ever since. This book is totally out of print, so when I saw it on the shelf (and we had a coupon for everything buy one get one free!), I felt I needed to get it to ease my guilt over the years. Now I'll actually have a complete copy to study. Whew!

I've been wanting a copy of the Boston Cooking School Cookbook, and I was thrilled to find a 1922 edition. There is even a little goody tucked inside as a bookmark of an envelope with a stamp and the postal mark from 1943! Score!

The last book is on a topic I have been wondering about - how did the government get Americans to "do their bit" for the war effort and to reliquish so much control to the government? I guess it's understandable for the British, but the Americans? (I've always contemplated if the same measures during the World Wars would go down so well today. Something tells me NO. haha!) This book "Uncle Sam Wants YOU" addresses this topic and I am so excited to read about it. Yippee!

P.S. Take a look at the button on the side for the Sew For Victory! Sew Along. The deadline is April 1st, but what a super fun thing! It's totally up my alley. I think it's the perfect opportunity to make that 1940s apron I've been putting off...

Tasting History

Last night I went out with my friend Amber to Hagerstown, MD. We were on a trip to Wonder Book, an amazing used bookstore with used and antique books alike for awesome prices. It's so nice to have a kindred spirit of old and used books! I found some pretty sweet stuff!

Our second destination in Hagerstown was what my friend said is an old establishment all the locals go to: Krumpe's Do-Nuts. She had been raving about how absolutely amazing these donuts were - she claimed that Krispy Kreme and Dunkin' Donuts has nothing on these guys - so of course I had to check it out. This donut shop has a pretty interesting history- going back to the World Wars and a German sailor whose ship sank in the Chesapeake just outside Baltimore and was one of a few survivors. Lucky for him... and lucky us!

The shop was on a dark back street near downtown Hagerstown, appropriately named "DoNut Alley" - spelled with the capital N. The unique thing about this shop is that it's open all night making the donuts for its delivery routes in the morning, but they have a few narrow hours that it sells to the public - and it's only open at night. Amber said that if you get there right when it opens at 7 pm (9 pm in the summer), there's always a line out the door. Luckily, we got there an hour after opening, so it wasn't nearly as busy and we made it in the door before more people came and were lining up outside.

The great thing about these donuts is that they are small and the selection is simple: cream filled, fruit filled, bavarian, chocolate cake, and glazed. No superfluously monster-sized dunkers here. And I think that's how it should be. Delectable things should come small and easy to savor. And these donuts fit the bill nicely. I couldn't decide what to get, so I got a dozen for my family and I to sample their array.

Well, Amber and I got back to the car and I pulled out a warm, insanely fresh glazed donut and sunk my teeth in. It was still stretchy, it was so fresh. It was absolutely heavenly! Warm, chewy, smooth dough, sweet, flaky glaze - but it wasn't too sweet. The whole thing wasn't just eating a donut. It was an experience.

And then I sat in debate. We hadn't left yet and I only had one other glazed donut in the box. The rest were filled donuts and not quite the same as a plain-Jane glazed. It was for my husband. I reasoned aloud that I could eat it and he would never know, but he loves glazed, so I couldn't do that to him. And then I said the unthinkable. "I'm going back in there and getting more donuts." Amber just laughed knowingly.

Who goes back in to a donut shop after buying a dozen donuts mere minutes beforehand to get more donuts?!?!

I mean, really! Who does that? Seriously, people, they were that good. It was mind-boggling.

I knew I would regret it if I didn't go back, and I'm not going to later justify driving an hour to just get donuts because I didn't get the glazed when I had the chance!!! So, since we were already there I went back in and got a few more glazed and it was totally worth it.

Amber asked me if I was a convert and I mumbled around delicious chewy dough and crunchy glaze that I was. I told her they needed a t-shirt that stated : "Krumpe's Konvert" haha!

So, if you're ever in the Pennsylvania/West Virginia/D.C./Maryland area - stop by for a taste of history. I promise it will be one amazing donut experience. You won't regret it!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Mystery Garment

Oooh, don't you just love a good mystery? Right now I'm reading Rhys Bowen's latest Molly Murphy mystery and I'm loving it! It's set in the early 1900s and she writes the series very well. In fact, all of her books helped keep my sanity when I was nursing my slow-drinking baby girl 3 years ago. :-)

Speaking of mysteries... I've had this interesting "vintage" garment for a long time. I don't even remember where I got it. The thing is, is that I don't know from what era this garment comes and while it was sold as "vintage" I strongly suspect that it's actually an antique. I finally decided to try and solve this little mystery. You know, there's something about the length and the construction that doesn't strike me as any later than the 1940s.

Let's check it out:
I am guessing this is an undergarment/slip of some kind. It has a very simple construction with little detail. Not to mention it's a basic cream color.
The shape is rather narrow and doesn't flare out very much toward the bottom.

A detail of the permanent pleating with stitching detail.
I am amazed with how well it's held up!

The crisp, permanent pleating along with the feel of the fabric leads me to believe this is made from an acetate or acetate blend fabric. From some basic research, I found that acetates as fabrics were beginning to appear in the late 1920s.
I'm wishing I had taken that textiles class in college when I had the chance!

The pictures below capture more of the true color of the garment. The ones above are a tad too yellow!
Isn't the garment a gorgeous-colored cream?

There is this interesting set-in triangle of fabric off the side seam in the front right above the pleating.
Perhaps it's replacing a piece of fabric that was damaged? It's hard to see how it would be part of the fashion cut. It doesn't really affect the garment's look that much.

There are two small gussets in the bust area - they are rather high, and the straps are longer, so I think the garment would sit lower on the chest.
This reminds me a lot of something from the teens or 1920s.
I'd try it on, but it is built for a petite person with narrow ribs, unlike myself!

Pretty stitching detail (not sure of the name of the technique) along the top and shoulder straps of the garment.

The back of the garment.
The inside seams are pinked to prevent fraying.

So after all that... I'm guessing early to mid-1930s? I could be totally off, but I'm not sure what else to think! Any opinions out there?

The Chemise is Finished!

I finally finished hand-sewing my Regency chemise last week. Yippee! What a relief! It really wasn't that difficult. It was just time consuming, and I feel pretty darn proud of myself for entirely hand-sewing it!

Chemise - Ungathered neckline

Chemise - gathered neckline

A close up of some of my "lovely" stitching.
I can definitely say my hand stitching has improved during this project!

I don't think I technically can stick it with this Historical Sew Fortnightly challenge, but I will anyway. :-)

The Challenge: Peasants & Pioneers
Fabric: white 50/50 linen-cotton blend
Pattern: Sensibility Patterns
Year: early 19th century - Regency
Notions: cotton thread, twisted cotton cording
How historically accurate is it? Not sure. I think it's pretty close. 95% maybe? 
Hours to complete: 12-14 hours? I'm not exactly sure, but it definitely took a long time!
First worn: Not yet.
Total cost: Maybe about $20 for fabric, thread, and cording

My next chemise or two will be out of 100% cotton. But I liked the feel of the linen and was happy with how it turned out. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

From the Archives: Victory Cookbook: Nostalgic Food and Facts from 1940-1954

I am absolutely in love with this book by Marguerite Patten! I was getting a few books from my wishlist a few weeks back and this was one of them. It sat on my shelf awhile until I finally picked it up over the weekend. It is totally awesome! I love Margurite Patten and wish I could sit down with her for tea sometime and chat about food rationing in Britain during WWII. Since that's probably not going to happen, this book is the next best thing! It's actually three of her books in one: The Victory Cookbook, We'll Eat Again, and  Post-War Kitchen and it has her commentary sprinkled throughout.

What I love the most is that she explains how there was different terminology back then and the recipes have been updated to show the most recent lingo on measurements and oven temps. This makes it much easier for even Americans to use today - she puts in the Fahrenheit degrees! Yippee! Most of the ingredients are measured by weight, so if you have a kitchen scale, that shouldn't be too big a deal.

I also really like that in the Post-War Kitchen section she talks about how rationing in Britain went on well into the 1950s - a fact that I knew very little about. Fascinating stuff!

There are dozens of recipes that I want to try, especially because they are low on sugar and use pantry friendly things like egg powder and powdered milk which I actually have! I was wondering how I would get ahold of particularly British things like golden syrup and caster sugar, but I was shopping today and the store I like to go to has a small British section with... golden syrup and caster sugar!! I couldn't believe it. They weren't particularly cheap, but for the sake of experimentation I got them both. And just so you know - caster sugar is granulated, but a lot finer than our regular sugar, so that would make a difference in your baking. Huh! The golden syrup is just sugar cane syrup. I wonder if I melted down some turbinado sugar with water (or other sugar that still has some of its natural molasses) if it would make a passable golden syrup... I guess I'll just have to try some out and see.
Lovely golden syrup and caster sugar

I'll have to let you know when I try any of the recipes.

And here's a page from the book:
"Home-guards of health"!
I thought these vegetables with guns and helmets were funny and disturbing at the same time...