Treasure Box Wednesday: Good Books on Snowy Days

The days have turned colder, and many of us across the U.S. have seen our first signs of those little white flakes. (No, no, not dandruff-- those other little white flakes.) And in times when the wind blusters and howls, and the cold winds cut through the jackets, there's nothing more appealing than thoughts of a comfy chair, a nice hot beverage, and a good book.

So since I didn't go thrifting this last week (no thrifting?!- GASP!), today I peered into the Treasure Box and found these lovely Victorian books to share with you.

I'd written a post on Victorian pulp fiction a while back (you can read that here if you're interested), but there's such a wide range of beautiful covers to share, one post really couldn't contain them.

I mean, just look at The Fortunes of Fifi...

With a title like that, you just know there's peril and adventure ahead for the plucky heroine! And look at the art nouveau curves to the cover, and the soft pastels. They don't make 'em like that anymore.

Or this tiny little chapbook of "The House of Seven Gables" by Nathaniel Hawthorne...

The intricately done cover has a strikingly-detailed ingraving inset right into it. You can see that closer here...

And here-- call me "Ishmael!" Okay, so maybe literature has room for two Ishmael's...

I have yet to read this particular one, but I suspect it doesn't involve a white whale. If it did, it would probably be pictured behind the charming art of the lady with the letter on the cover. (And wouldn't she be startled!)

I've had this colorful copy of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage for a number of years...

The curving vined roses are always a real pleasure to see.

This copy of Maggie Miller picks up similar colors in its palette, with the red of her Gibson Girl tie, and the bright bonnet using all the vividness of the time...

Mary Holmes' Meadow Brook is another read ready to showcase the idealized girl of its time...

With her large hat, bouffant hairdo and trim suit, these girls were a standard around the turn-of-the-century in art and on household items.

This copy of Tales from Shakespeare involves an almost William Morris style pattern of pine cones, pine needles and spring daffodils....

It's a real shift of the seasons.

And lastly, we have this small children's booklet for Easter...

"The Secret to a Happy Day," it's called.

Here's hoping you uncover the secret to your own happy day, whatever it may be-- for this day, and throughout this week...

Perhaps it's a good book?

See you for the next post on Sunday!

International Tour de Force with Breast-O'-Chicken Recipes

Breast-O'-Chicken. The name says... well... tuna, with a serious identity problem, actually. But not just any tuna with a serious identity problem, oh no! This is tuna with a serious identity problem, circa 1949, AND which is brought to you by:

"...A venturesome expedition to waters where this aristocrat of game fish, the fighting tuna, tests the skill of brawny men, so that the tables of the nation may enjoy a sea food which has no equal in flavor, nourishment and versatility!"

Gosh, I can almost see the American flag waving, can you? Bless you, oh Brawny Fishermen for risking life and limb to bring tuna, which thinks it's barnyard fowl, to my family's table!

And when the Breast-O'-Chicken folks talk versatility, they mean it! In Breast-'O-Chicken Brand Tuna Recipes by Frank Decatur White, we will journey to the ends of the earth and see exciting ways to tame the fighting tuna into a delicious, nutritious, versatile and oh-so-international cuisine.

Let us start by stepping South of the Border, with "Breast-O'-Chicken Mexican Pie"...

Mmm-mmm! Put on your sombreros, mi amigos, and dig in to this muy delicioso combination of American Cheese, tomatoes, tuna, chili powder, red beans and corn meal.

What--? Didn't you know American cheese was an important ingredient in all things Mexican? Well, Mexico is after all in North America, isn't it? American cheese is clearly for everyone.

And you know how our compadres in Mexico love to use tuna in all their traditional dishes. Gosh, enter any true Mexican restaurant and you'll be treated to a wide array of dishes featuring none other than our friend, the aristocratic fighting tuna.

Tuna tacos... tuna burritos.... tunachangas... The beef and chicken and refried beans we instantly think of when we think of Mexican food is, in fact, just a myth. Tuna really is what makes our brothers and sisters to the south say, "Olé!"

And what about our friends across the waters in Asia? Have they not experienced the protein-filled goodness that is canned tuna? Why, yes, they have! With "Tuna Oriental"!...

What makes this so gosh-darned Oriental is the exotic, Far East flavor of... um.... peas... Er, and... panfried bacon... And.... tomato soup? And... mushrooms?...

Hm. Well, I can probably stick to sight-seeing when I go to China next, since apparently they eat everything we eat over here.

Oh, wait! Chow mein noodles! It's served over Chow Mein noodles. That's totally "oriental"! Now, that makes it all worthwhile.

Ah, but Breast-O'-Chicken has another Asian dish for us today. Just look at this appetizing "Tuna Chop Suey" which does not in any way appear to have fly larvae hatching in it...

Of course, this features a tin of our beloved Breast-O'-Chicken fancy tuna... But it also involves mushrooms, bamboo sprouts, celery, green peppers, soy sauce and... veal. I hadn't known veal was big over China, but apparently that's another tid-bit of information to broaden my cultural knowledge.

Gosh, these Breast-O'-Chicken folks sure are worldy, aren't they?

So now, we find ourselves heading to Europe, spirited off to one of the finest bistros of Paris. And what have we here? Why, ooh-la-la! Mouths will water over this "Souffle O'Tuna"...

Did you know the "o'" is used regularly in the French language? It is! We here in America typically misspell it as "au." But the real spelling, "o'" harkens back to a little-discussed Celtic invasion of the area now known as France. The Irish and French just don't like to talk about it.

Well, now, let's head back to the good ol' US of A, South of the Mason-Dixon line, and enjoy a nice heaping plate of "Cutlets of Tuna Southern-Style"...

These are cutlets hand-formed with love by you, from chunks and flakes of tuna-- isn't that clever? And the key ingredient in seasoning them is... Worchestershire Sauce! Perhaps they should have gotten together with the Lea & Perrins people for a nice cross-over cookbook.

I suppose when they said Southern, they were meaning Southern England-- what do you think?

Crimeny, these dears at Breast-O'-Tuna just keep making our world seem bigger and bigger, don't they?

Now, in honor of those Brawny Fisherman we were talking about earlier, Breast-O'-Tuna gives us this tribute recipe-- "Tuna Planked Steak."

This savory dish includes several tins of tuna, peas, tomatoes, breadcrumbs, milk and--- surprise-- spiced peaches! A veritable smorgasbord all in a single fish-shaped dish. I simply don't know how they come up with these mind-blowing ideas.

And just when I think we've done all that can be done with tuna, the Breast-O'-Chicken people outdo themselves once more. Like with these "Tuna City Chicken Legs..."

Why buy actual chicken which has chicken legs, when you can use your artisic talents to take a tin of fancy tuna and mold it into chicken leg shapes? It seems so obvious once they've said it, which is why we all need recipe books like this.

Arrange the molded legs into an appetizing wagon wheel shape, and then put hominy in the center, just to tie it all together. Pour onion gravy over everything!

Now, here, it might just look like the red tide's gone out in the Everglades.... But this is, in fact, "Tuna Eggplant Cutlets."

These little islands of edibles are a unique combination of eggplant, potato chips and tuna. The coloring is paprika-- apparently LOTS of paprika.

And don't forget to garnish with lemon slices! (The photographer here apparently did.)

Now what if you have to make some quick hors d'oeuvres for guests and you don't have much on hand? Well, a single tin of Breast-O'-Chicken tuna will allow you to make this eye-popping party platter....

Combine tuna with 7 hard-cooked eggs, salad dressing, bacon, olives and our nutritious friend PEANUT BUTTER and you won't have to worry about short-notice guests ever again.

No really.

You won't.


Lastly, it's Sunday, right? And you want to treat the family to a nice Sunday dinner. Why not try the "Tuna Sunday Supper"?...

Just arrange the following ingredients into "Kilroy Was Here" faces on bread: tuna, mushrooms "little pig sausages," parsley and a thick white sauce.

Yesindeedy, that's some serious stick-to-your-ribs (and possibly spackle your drywall) home cookin'.

Well, I hope you all learned as much as I did today about the versatility and adventure associated with fancy tuna. I think it's good for us to educate ourselves like this and truly expand our horizons.

Tonight, I think I'll try that Breast-O'-Chicken Mexican pie. I've got some American cheese and tomato sauce in there just waiting to become high International cuisine.

Hasta luego, mi amigos!

Treasure Box Wednesday: With Tuesday Morning

It was on Saturday, I discovered Tuesday Morning. The store, I mean. It had been added to a strip mall near our city's only Trader Joe's. Having heard the good ladies on the Holidays board of GardenWeb speak so highly of the place in terms of thrifty bargains, I was eager to see what it had to offer.

And what fun it was! I thought you all might enjoy seeing what I uncovered. As you can see, I really managed to find decor for about every holiday there is! Well, I think I'm missing St. Patrick's Day and Thanksgiving, but I didn't want to get too carried away.

These creepy-fun pumpkinheaded fellows reminded me of the art on vintage Halloween cards. This particular grinning guy brandishes a bat on a spring...

While our second Jack o' Lantern has a bobbling head and a big crepe paper "Boo."

And who is that beside him? Why, Santa, naturally-- who else did you expect to see? I mean, haven't you heard the story about how Santa goes door to door trick-or-treating to get free goodies to regift for stockings at Christmastime?...

Okay, you're probably not buying that, are you?... Well, I gave it a shot. I liked how Santa had an old world style, and was covered in sugary glitter. (Crafter Rosemary of Rose's Petite Maison knows all too well about this kind of old timey glitter-- eh, Rosemary? :) )

And who do we see there hopping before Santa? If it isn't Peter Cottontail. A 50% of 50% discount on this little bunny box made it $1!

Then back to the North Pole we go, with a papier mache castle, and a teeny plastic Santa...

We leave Tuesday Morning on this Saturday excursion, and pop by Mahla Antiques in the Strip District. This is where I got two English commemorative plates. The first commemorates the crowning of Elizabeth II, from 1958...

You can see the crest and the photo a bit better here...

And the second is from 1937, and commemorates the Coronation of King George and Queen Elizabeth. I like how subtle the royal symbol is on this dish-- just worked there into the center of the pattern...

And you can see the back here...

Lastly, here are just a few things I uncovered at the same rummage sale where I netted that box of 42 vintage hankies. This cookbook promises to be fun. Another Lea & Perrins cookbook, this one I believe is from the 40s...

For $0.10 was this TV Radio Mirror Magazine from the 50s. I thought it would be fun to see what was going on in Hollywood at the time.

And as our friend Porky Pig used to say, "That's all, folks!"

Otherwise, perhaps I'll see you this coming Sunday, or thereabouts. Take care!

Collecting Vintage Hankies? It's Nothing to Sneeze At

The history of the handkerchief goes back hundreds of years-- as the perfect way to dry tears, a gentle way to take care of a cold, and even as a way to catch the eye of that special fellow. More recently, with the introduction of facial tissues, it's also become a representation of a bygone era-- a symbol of comfort, of style, and of a less complex world. They've also become incredibly collectible.

Yesterday, a church rummage sale proved extremely lucky, hanky-wise. An entire box of hankies, of varying styles, colors and time periods. Forty-two in all, for ten bucks! And it was hitting this hanky motherlode that made me realize-- there was no better time than now to talk about those soft little cotton squares so many of us still love.

Simple white handkerchiefs... ones with tatting edges... some monogrammed... some delicately embroidered... Many in vivid color... Or showcasing the shades of the seasons... There's virtually no end to the options available.

The book Handkerchiefs: A Collector's Guide by Helene Guarnaccia and Barbara Guggenheim showcases a range of hankies like I've never seen before. Their collection shows handkerchiefs bearing everything from pets and popular cartoon characters, to souvenier handkerchiefs of the 50 states, hankies displaying airline first class menus, recipes, pop art, calendars, holidays, botanicals and so much more.

Why the variety? Well, according to the book, when facial tissues were invented in the 1920s, the hanky fell a bit out of favor as less sanitary. But after World War II, hankies had a big resurgence as a colorful yet inexpensive accessory. Priced at anywhere from fifteen cents to a dollar, hankies became a way to have a little fun shopping without breaking the bank. They were given as gifts to family and schoolteachers, and used as a way of expressing oneself.

Some women even collected specific handkerchief artists, and would wait for the next work in the artists' series. Popular artists over the years included Tammis Keefe, Carl Tait, Pat Prichard, Jeanne Miller and Tom Lamb.

Today, it's possible to find some lovely hankies at thrift stores for around the seventy-five cent to one dollar range. And at flea markets and antiques malls? They average $3 and up, depending on collectability.

Ones most commonly found are in the holiday and botanical lines. Here are two holiday hankies prepared to celebrate Christmas and St. Patrick's Day...

And one as a souvenir from sunny Florida....

It's interesting to see the different range of colors available on botanical hankies, too. These browns and aquas are actually appropriate for today's decorating trends...

Roses were popular in botanical handkerchiefs, though other flowers were done quite realistically, as well.

While some hankies have straight edges, many of them are scalloped, and some are actually round instead of square. Collectors may choose to purchase hankies based solely on their shape or type.

I love the depth and realism of these peonies. They appear to be almost hand-painted.

Embroidered flowers were popular decorations on hankies, as well. Note the different kinds of flowers included here: pansies, daisies and lily of the valley.

As gifts, hankies were sometimes tucked into what was called a hanky book. The book below was my mother's, given to her as a girl by a family friend...

The hanky-a-day included in this case, Mother Goose story characters where their clothing was made of a brand new hanky. Some were skirts, some overalls, some bibs...

Mom never had the heart to use them-- and I can certainly see why, when the book has such charm with the hankies intact.

For those interested in picking up a few hankies at your local thrift stores or flea markets, keep in mind, there are a lot of interesting things you can do with them, too. Consider ideas like:

  • Using hankies in a similar color palette as unique cloth dinner napkins
  • Frame them as wall art
  • Sew them into a handkerchief quilt, a unique halter top, or a broomstick skirt
  • Use them as a curtain pelmet
  • Use them as doilies under a lamp or on an armchair
Pretty, collectible and functional... Vintage hankies take us back to a kinder, gentler era. I hope your coming week is kind and gentle to you, as well.

Oh, and while I remember-- folks visiting here who also participate in Entrecard, you've probably noticed The Thrift Shop Romantic is now accepting Entrecard blog advertising. I'm mainly looking to include other home and garden blogs, thrift blogs, crafts, art, collectible and related hobby blogs. So I hope you'll check it out.