Sunday, December 22, 2013

"Find what brings you joy

 
and go there.  ~ Jan Phillips
 
 
I hope your holiday season brings you joy...I am taking a break to relocate my mother from PA to NJ to assisted living down the road...and in the midst of all of this, I am taking a break from my research.  I will return soon!

  “What shall you do all your vacation?’, asked Amy. "I shall lie abed and do nothing", replied Meg.”
Louisa May Alcott, Little Women    

Sunday, December 15, 2013

"He stared

at his hot chocolate like it held the secret to the universe."  ~ Lilith Saintcrow

I have been writing about the past holidays and how in just a moment in time that we have lost some of the simple joys.  For those of us who live in colder climates, hot cocoa represents a simple yet decadent treat in winter.  A great little gift would be to mix up a batch of homemade instant cocoa  and package it in old mason jar or tucked into a pretty cup and saucer!
The terms Hot Cocoa and Hot Chocolate are often used interchangeably, but technically they are as different as milk chocolate and bittersweet chocolate. Hot cocoa is made from cocoa powder, which is chocolate pressed free of all its richness, meaning the fat of cocoa butter. Hot chocolate is made from chocolate bars melted into cream. It is a rich decadent drink.

Thank the Mayas for the cold chocolate drink.  They ground cocoa seeds into a paste and mixed it with water, cornmeal, wine, and chili peppers. (Cold "hot" chocolate!)  They then poured the drink back and forth from a cup to a pot until a thick foam developed.  (Are you paying attention, Starbucks?) Chocolate was available to Maya of all social classes although the wealthy drank chocolate from elaborately decorated vessels, but at least everyone could enjoy!

When the Spaniards returned with cocoa to Europe, the drink became fashionable with the Spanish upper class.  Cocoa was even given as a dowry when the Spanish Royal Family married European royalty.  Since the cocoa beans only grew in South America, it was a rare commodity.

 Sweet-tasting hot chocolate was then invented, leading hot chocolate to become a luxury item among the European nobility by the 17th century, and Paris lead the craze as the French court touted chocolate as an aphrodisiac.  In 1657, the first chocolate house opened in London.  (Again I ask...are you paying attention, Starbucks?)  In 1674, chocolate was combines with cakes and rolls for the first time.
 In the late 17th century, Hans Sloane, president of the Royal College of Physicians, visited Jamaica. There, he tried chocolate and considered it "nauseous", but found it became more palatable when mixed with milk. When he returned to England, he brought the recipe with him, introducing milk chocolate to Europe.

In 1828, Coenraad Johannes van Houten developed the first cocoa powder producing machine in the Netherlands.  The press separated the greasy cocoa butter from cacao seeds, leaving a purer chocolate powder behind. This powder, much like the instant cocoa powder used today, was easier to stir into milk and water. As a result, another very important discovery was made: solid chocolate. By using cocoa powder and low amounts of cocoa butter, it was then possible to manufacture bar chocolate. The term "chocolate" then came to mean solid chocolate, rather than hot chocolate.
The Baker Chocolate Company is the oldest producer of chocolate in the United States. The company was initially established when a physician named Dr. James Baker met John Hannon in Massachusetts.  Irishman John Hannon was penniless but was a skilled chocolatier, a craft which he had learned in England and which was, until now, exclusive to Europe. With the help of Baker, Hannon was able to set up a business where he produced “Hannon’s Best Chocolate” for 15 years. In 1779, Hannon went on a trip to the West Indies and never returned. His wife sold the company in 1780 to Dr. Baker who changed the name to Baker Chocolate Company.
 
 So, if you are interested, here is a good recipe for homemade hot chocolate...this has a touch of white chocolate...a little added richness.

Yield: Makes about 20 servings of hot chocolate
 
Ingredients
  • 3 cups nonfat dry milk powder
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1½ cups cocoa powder, dutch-process or natural
  • 1½ cups white chocolate chips or finely chopped white chocolate
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
Directions
  1. Whisk together all ingredients in a large bowl. Working in two (or more) batches, depending on the size of your food processor, pulse the ingredients in a food processor until the chocolate is finely ground. Store the dry mix in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
  2. To make hot cocoa, put 1/3 cup of the cocoa mix in a mug and stir in 1 cup of hot milk. Top with whipped cream or miniature marshmallows, if desired.
Now, if you want the "true" hot chocolate, here is a recipe that will truly warm your chocolate soul...

  • 1 quart (1l) half-and-half or whole milk
  • 8 ounces (230g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 4 ounces (115g) milk chocolate, finely chopped
  • tiny pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1. Warm about one-third of the half-and-half or milk, with the chopped chocolates and salt, stirring until the chocolate is melted.
2. Whisk in the remaining half-and-half or milk, heating until the mixture is warmed through. Add the cinnamon.
3. Use a hand-held blender, or a whisk, and mix the hot chocolate until it’s completely smooth. Serve very warm.
 "Chocolate is a divine, celestial drink, the sweat of the stars, the vital seed, divine nectar, the drink of the gods, panacea and universal medicine." - Geronimo Piperni, quoted by Antonio Laved├ín, Spanish army surgeon,1796 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

"Christmas is a bridge.

We need bridges as the river of time flows past. Today's Christmas should mean creating happy hours for tomorrow and reliving those of yesterday.” ~Gladys Taber
When I was younger, I remember this time of year fondly when it came to mail.  In the 1950s, Christmas cards were sent in such great numbers that the mailman would come 2 and 3 times a day.  I am just still attached to that event even though I never get cards out on time. Having spent my entire career in the classroom, I could never get those cards out until school was out for the holidays.

But, I do regret the demise of real mail.  Yes, it is nice to have instant communication, but somehow emails, Facebook, Instagram, etc etc etc do not have the same feel for me.

The first Christmas cards were commissioned by Sir Henry Cole and illustrated by John Callcott Horsley in London on the 1st of May 1843. The central picture showed three generations of a family raising a toast to the card's recipient: on either side were scenes of charity, with food and clothing being given to the poor. Allegedly the image of the family drinking wine together proved controversial, but the idea was shrewd: Cole had helped introduce the Penny Post three years earlier. Two batches totaling 2,050 cards were printed and sold that year for a shilling each.

Early English cards rarely showed winter or religious themes, instead favoring flowers, fairies and other fanciful designs that reminded the recipient of the approach of spring.  At Christmas 1873, the lithograph firm Prang and Mayer began creating greeting cards for the popular market in England. The firm began selling the Christmas card in America in 1874, thus becoming the first printer to offer cards in America. Its owner, Louis Prang, is sometimes called the "father of the American Christmas card." The popularity of his cards led to cheap imitations that eventually drove him from the market.

It never ceases to amaze me that time passes, but things really do not change all that much!

"Official" Christmas cards began with Queen Victoria in the 1840s. The British royal family's cards are generally portraits reflecting significant personal events of the year. Bet you know who will be on this year's card!   In 1953, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first official White House card.  Presidents did send cards, but now there is an official White House card.
Americans are projected to buy 1.6 billion holiday cards this Christmas season, but the card market in general has experienced a 9% decline since 2005 -- a slump projected to continue through 2015. Consumers are replacing holiday cards -- about 30% of the market -- with photo cards and digital communications.

I received my first card in today's mail even as I typed this, and, I just smiled. 
So, if you want some handcrafted cards for a change and you are in the area, stop in.  These are only $2.50...make someone smile!



What a wonderful thing is the mail, capable of conveying across continents a warm human hand-clasp.  ~Author Unknown

Sunday, December 1, 2013

"In a drear-nighted December...Too happy, happy tree...

thy branches ne'er remember...Their green felicity."  ~John Keats


But, we do revel in the green of pine trees this time of year...and out come red and green...the color uniform of Christmas. 
But, when did those colors become the standard?  Why not blue and silver? Or white and gold?  Sure, you can use those colors, but the traditionalists will raise eyebrows not drinks to your color choices.
In doing some research, I discovered the Italians were our closet Christmas color designers.  In AD 274, Roman Emperor Aurelian decreed December 25 as natalis solis invicti ("birth of the invincible sun"), a festival honoring the sun god Mithras known as Saturnalia. It had been celebrated by Pagans for centuries, but the emperor moved it to this date to correspond with the winter solstice.
Holly wreaths were given to celebrate this festival which actually featured much gift-giving as well as much celebrating with drink, food, and greenery. 
Mistletoe, also in green, which dates to the Druids as well as the Romans, was hung in homes to bring good fortune peace and love.  It is actually a parasitic plant that needs a host...I know there is a joke there at this time of the year, but I will not go there!
As Christianity took over in the 4th century, the church elders selected December 25 after Emperor Constantine had declared Christianity the empire's favored religion. Eastern churches, however, held on to January 6 as the date for Christ's birth and his baptism.

When Pope Gregory devised a new calendar, which was unevenly adopted, the Eastern Orthodox and some Protestants retained the Julian calendar, which meant they celebrated Christmas 13 days later than their Gregorian counterparts. Most—but not all—of the Christian world now agrees on the Gregorian calendar and the December 25 date.

The Christian connection to red in this green world relates to a story that only the holly tree consented to be cut down and its wood made into a cross to bear Jesus. Some Christians believe that Jesus wore a crown of holly thorns whose berries were originally white. As Jesus’ blood touched the berries, they turned red. The green leaves of the holly plant have come to represent everlasting life and the berries the blood of Jesus.
But, back to the pine tree...and some more red symbols...medieval Christians celebrated Adam and Eve’s feast day with a kind of mystery play referred to as the paradise play. This folk drama retold the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. It ended with the promise of the coming of a savior who would reconcile humanity with God.


Staged around a single prop called a paradise tree, actors adorned an evergreen tree with apples and sometimes also with communion wafers. Decked out in this way it served to represent the two mystical trees in the Garden of Eden: the tree of knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life. Although the church officially banned the performance of mystery plays in the fifteenth century, the people of France and Germany's Rhine river region kept on decorating paradise trees for Christmas, so perhaps another insight into that green Christmas tree and red accents.

So, red and green for Christmas have a myriad of historical references, but it all blends...for as John Geddes wrote in A Familiar Rain...

“...freshly cut Christmas trees smelling of stars and snow and pine resin - inhale deeply and fill your soul with wintry night...” 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

"The great advantage of a hotel

is that it is a refuge from home life. ~ George Bernard Shaw
 
As the holidays approach, hotels and motels are more in demand.  An auction lot took me on a mental trip to New York...city of amazing hotels...in the midst of silver plate was a neat water pitcher...and signed...

D.W. Haber & Son...from their web page..."D.W. Haber & Son started in 1902 as a silver repair company. With four generations of experience in repairing our competitor's hollowware, we have mastered the art of manufacturing hollowware that remains in service, not in the repair shop! Reconditioning silverware of other manufacturers has taught us the weak points of hollowware. Our hollowware is designed to withstand the rough abuse of burnishing machines, 5,000 seat banquets, and part-time employees. All of our equipment is backed by our 100 YEAR WARRANTY on structural integrity and on all plating against peeling and blistering."

And, in addition to the hotel silversmiths as they are penned, research on the Waldorf Astoria proved to be even more fascinating.  It seems that a family feud was responsible for the construction of the original Waldorf-Astoria on 5th Avenue.  It started as two hotels: one owned by William Waldorf Astor, whose 13-story Waldorf Hotel was opened in 1893 and the other owned by his cousin, John Jacob Astor IV, called the Astoria Hotel and opened four years later in 1897, four stories higher.
William Astor, motivated in part by a dispute with his aunt, Caroline Webster Schermerhorn Astor, built the original Waldorf Hotel next door to her house, on the site of his father's mansion and today's Empire State Building. The hotel was built to the specifications of founding proprietor George Boldt; he and his wife Louise had become known as the owners and operators of the Bellevue, an elite boutique hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Broad Street, subsequently expanded and renamed the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel. Boldt continued to own the Bellevue (and, later, the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel) even after his relationship with the Astors blossomed.
 
William Astor's construction of a hotel next to his aunt's house worsened his feud with her, but, with Boldt's help, John Astor persuaded his mother to move uptown. John Astor then built the Astoria Hotel and leased it to Boldt who introduced many innovations:  “room service” that enabled guests to have breakfast in bed; relaxed the rule that prohibited men from smoking in the presence of women, installed an orchestra in the hotel lobby, hired Turkish waiters to serve coffee, placed plenty of ash trays at strategic locations among the potted palms.

The new 13-story Waldorf Hotel opened on March 14, 1893, with 450 guestrooms and 350 bathrooms, each of these with an outer window- a feature which apparently made a tremendous impression upon the high-grade traveling public of the nineties.

The hotels were initially built as two separate structures, but Boldt planned the Astoria so it could be connected to the Waldorf by Peacock Alley. The combined Waldorf-Astoria became the largest hotel in the world at the time, while maintaining the original Waldorf's high standards.
The hotel was influential in women's rights by allowing women to come without escorts.  It is so amazing how much we take for granted in our time.  The name even has a story...the hotel was originally known as The Waldorf-Astoria with a single hyphen, as recalled by a popular expression and song, "Meet Me at the Hyphen." The sign was changed to a double hyphen, looking similar to an equals sign, by Conrad Hilton when he purchased the hotel in 1949.  The double hyphen visually represents "Peacock Alley," the hallway between the two hotels that once stood where the Empire State building now stands today. The use of the double hyphen was discontinued by parent company Hilton in 2009, shortly after the introduction of the Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts chain.  The hotel has since been known as the Waldorf Astoria New York.

So, as you plan your Thanksgiving dinner,  give thanks for all that you have even if you are not at the Waldorf Astoria!  And, from the past - a 1939 menu!
 

 "Hospitality is making your guests feel at home, even if you wish they were."
                                            ~Author Unknown

Sunday, November 17, 2013

"Sharing the holiday with other people,

and feeling that you're giving of yourself, gets you past all the commercialism.
   ~Caroline Kennedy

I would hope that quote would reverberate among all out there, but I fear the Black Friday madness has become epidemic.  You know, in America from 1659 to 1681 Christmas was illegal, and it was so inconsequential, according to my research, that, after the Revolutionary War, Congress held its opening session on Christmas Day.  Now, it is hard to get them to work on any day!  But, I digress...still the puritanical minds that banned Christmas gave us eggnog!  Here is a vintage eggnog set...you see these and the Tom & Jerry sets often this time of the year.   Made by Hazel Atlas in the early 50s, they are truly reminiscent of times gone by.
 
It seems the first round of the magical holiday concoction was blended in the Jamestown settlement with Captain John Smith's crowd.   A version of the drink is mentioned in British history. 

Medieval Britain drank “posset,” a hot, milky, ale-like drink. Before eggnog, it was fairly common to mix milk with wine and other alcohol to make various forms of milk punches.  By the 13th century, monks were known to drink a posset with eggs and figs. Milk, eggs, and sherry were foods of the wealthy, so eggnog was often used in toasts to prosperity and good health.  I am always amazed when researching history how much was designed only for the wealthy.  
Since most American colonists were farmers,  chickens and cows...not to mention cheap rum...made eggnog a celebratory drink.  The English name’s etymology, however, remains a mystery. Some say “nog” comes from “noggin,” meaning a wooden cup, or “grog,” a strong beer. By the late 18th century, the combined term “eggnog” stuck.

I found George Washington's recipe, but he forgot to put how many eggs...he did not forget the booze though!  It is estimated that a dozen eggs was probably the number...

One quart cream, one quart milk, one dozen tablespoons sugar, one pint brandy, 1/2 pint rye whiskey, 1/2 pint Jamaica rum, 1/4 pint sherry—mix liquor first, then separate yolks and whites of eggs, add sugar to beaten yolks, mix well. Add milk and cream, slowly beating. Beat whites of eggs until stiff and fold slowly into mixture. Let set in cool place for several days. Taste frequently.

Love that recipe...just let it sit in a cool place...no problem with bacteria!  Now the US is paranoid over raw egg products, and they are banned due to health concerns, so the FDA limits the egg yolk solids in eggnog to less than 1%.   I think sugar wins the ingredient medal!
 I did find a modern recipe...

  • 8 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar, to taste
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 pint cream
  • 8 ounces brandy
  • 8 ounces dark rum (something like Bacardi 8, Appleton V/X or Mount Gay Eclipse)
  • Fresh nutmeg
  •   Beat egg yolks until smooth, and gradually add sugar, beating steadily until well mixed. Add milk, cream and spirits and mix well. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites to firm peaks; fold into yolk mixture. Serve in cups or goblets, and grate fresh nutmeg over the top of each serving.
    Obviously though one of our illustrious Founding Fathers was into the better liquors of life...a thought from Ben Franklin~
     “In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is Freedom, in water there is bacteria.”  

    Sunday, November 10, 2013

    "If we're going to win the pennant,

    we've got to start thinking we're not as good as we think we are." ~ Casey Stangel   

     
    Casey Stangel was a former baseball player and New York Yankees manager who won 10 "pennants" in 12 years.  I bought a stash of souvenir pennants at auction the other week, and I wondered why  pennant is a term that relates to baseball more than any other sport...football has playoffs...but my research discovered that from 1903-68, there were no divisions within the leagues. There were roughly 10 teams each in the American League and National League, and they competed against every team in their league for the championship. There were no playoffs. Only ONE team - with the best record - won the championship, or "pennant", in both leagues, and these two teams went right to the World Series. The phrase "pennant race" was born to describe more than one team competing, but only one "winning" a trip to the World Series, and that team got to fly a winning "pennant" over their stadium.
     
    A "pennon", from the Latin penna meaning wing or feather, was carried during the Middle Ages.   It was sometimes pointed, but more generally forked or swallow-tailed at the end. In the 11th century, the pennon was generally square, one end being decorated with the addition of pointed tongues or streamers. During the reign of Henry III in the 13th century, the pennon acquired the distinctive swallow-tail, or the single-pointed shape.   Navy ships were pictured with pennants flying.
    Modern day ships with pennants flying are celebrating "Dressing the Ship" to honor patriotism and those who serve...rather appropriate since this is Veterans Day weekend (despite the idea that every holiday equals sales and not sails!)
    The pennants I found are all signed Wincraft and made in the USA.  I looked up the company and found they have been in business since 1961.  From their web site..."What was begun almost 50 years ago as a four-person company serving high schools has now grown to serve schools, colleges, corporations and retail professional sports, racing entertainment, outdoor, and home decorating industries."  Love to see USA companies still alive and doing well.
     
    

     
    So, to the Boston Red Sox fans, congratulations on winning the ultimate "pennant race" this year, and even Marilyn Monroe had a thought on the pennant..."If your man is a sports enthusiast, you may have to resign yourself to his spouting off in a monotone on a prize fight, football game or pennant race."

    Sunday, November 3, 2013

    "A cat determined not to be found

    can fold itself up like a pocket handkerchief if it wants to." ~ Louis Camuti 

    I am unpacking some purchases from last summer...I know, I know...but life gets busy once I don my "professor clothes"!
     
    I found a stash of handkerchiefs and a neat leather souvenir box.
     In today's "Kleenex" world, the cloth handkerchief truly is a vintage find.  Some who are trying to be environmentally conscious are turning to cloth for handkerchiefs and napkins, but I fear that is a serious minority although men still carry the cloth handkerchief.
     A man is thought to have been the first one to use cloth handkerchiefs...King Richard of England who ruled from 1377 to 1399 used square pieces of cloth to write his nose according to surviving documents of his time.  And, of course, Shakespeare was a fan of the handkerchief as evidenced in the plot of Othello.

    Some historians believe it originated in China and was first used to shield a person’s  head from the hot sun.  Statues dating as far back as the Chou dynasty (1000 BC) show figures holding decorative pieces of cloth.  Christian tradition links the handkerchief or sudarium to the Shroud of Turn offered by Veronica to Christ.  The Romans waved handkerchiefs in the air at public games, and the drop of a hankie would signal the beginning of the chariot races.  During the middle ages, a knight would tie a lady’s handkerchief to the back of his helmet as a good luck talisman.

    In the fifteenth century, European traders returned from China with great numbers of peasants’ headscarves, which Europeans appropriated as fashion accessories.  Renaissance portraits show both men and women holding handkerchiefs embroidered and edged in lace. 
     
    Marie Antoinette did not like all the odd sizes of handkerchiefs, and she had hubby Louis XVI declare that all handkerchiefs be square, and none could be larger than his.  Obviously this circle would have been banned in 18th century Paris!
    These little pieces of cloth were expensive, and it may be where the bride picked up something borrowed. 
     
    The Depression popularized the cloth since it was the only thing most women could afford, and during WWII, they became a fashion statement since the fabrics to make silk stockings, blouses, or hats went to parachutes and uniforms.   Hankies only cost a nickel or a quarter or two.  Manufacturers advertised them...
    An interesting research tidbit to the WWII hankies...silk was supposedly banned, but it seems "that many kerchiefs were imprinted with maps of the countryside where bombing missions were carried out.  Should these young men have the misfortune to be shot down, they literally held an escape map in their hands. Hundreds of hankies were printed during both WWI  & WWII for soldiers to carry and/or give as mementos."
     
    The birth of Kleenex in the 1920’s was to use as a face towel to remove cold cream, but by the 1930’s Kleenex was touted as the antidote to germs with their slogan “Don’t carry a cold in your pocket.”   Many opted for a disposable alternative. In the mid-1950s, a Little Golden Book featuring Little Lulu, had an astronomical first printing of 2.25 million copies!!! showcasing “Things to make and do with Kleenex tissues featuring Lulu and her magic tricks,”  showing children how to make bunny rabbits and more from tissues.

    Busy housewives eagerly embraced the disposable hankie.   It eliminated the school ritual of Show and Blow.  This practice began in the 1800s, when, in the interest of hygiene, children were required to bring a clean handkerchief to school daily.  To assure their offspring appeared spic and span every morning, clever moms devised the two hankie solution – one for show, and one for blow.  Children always had a clean white hankie ready for inspection, while a utilitarian one often made from dress calico was in the other pocket! 

    So, today mostly for show...and they are still reasonably priced...and the hankies that had a popular run in the 50s are still around...holidays, Mother's Day, souvenir, children's themes, and the traditional floral prints...




    Hopefully, you will not meet Desdemona's fate since Othello placed so much emphasis on the handkerchief he gave here...as she said...
    "Sure, there's some wonder in this handkerchief..."   

    Sunday, October 27, 2013

    "It is better to fail

    in originality than to succeed in imitation."  ~ Herman Melville

    There was quite a stir in the craft world this week when one of the larger wholesale companies was accused of stealing a crafter's ideas for their own use with no regard for her.   She had done paintings of animals wearing elaborate jackets...they took those paintings and designed Christmas ornaments.
    Her blog neatly details the piracy if you are interested...http://lisacongdon.com/blog/2013/10/my-art-was-stolen-for-profit-and-how-you-can-help/

    Her concern is not the money but is directed at the retailers who purchase these items.  It seems like this is the proverbial tip of the iceberg.  The small independent artist is often unaware of what is going on as these companies cruise sites...Pinterest becomes a candy store for them, I am sure.

    Interestingly, here is a direct quote from Anthro who obviously had ordered this line..."After a thorough investigation, Anthropologie has decided to sever its relationship with Cody Foster & Co, remove any current items from our site and stores and cancel plans to include the company’s products in our holiday assortment. Unfortunately it is too late for us to make changes to our catalog in which a few items appear. While visible in photographs, they will not be credited or offered for sale."

    Crafters are facing new forms of competition...Pinterest, Facebook, blogs...they all put everything out there for all to admire...but also to copy.  But, it has been going on for decades...even Steve Jobs quoted Picasso on copying..."Good artists copy, great artists steal."  Guess the Cody Foster Company thought they were great.  I think though there needs to be some integrity, Picasso or not...when I used to frequent Cash & Carry wholesale shows, one would see a vendor with some truly unique items, and then at the next show, 4 or 5 vendors would have similar items. 

    But, hand crafting existed first out of necessity, and then it evolved into an art form or handicraft.  Quilts were made to keep people warm; pillows were actually used on the beds; candles provided light not just aroma. Every object was made with hands, using physical human skills, creativity and patience, as there was no automation or technology available to make anything mechanically. 

    According to my research, it evolved into a decorative art when the industrial revolution in the nineteenth century fulfilled the functional and utilitarian needs of man. It gave people the opportunity to pursue crafting as a hobby and as a form of art to please their senses and as an expression of their creative faculties. In the early part of the nineteenth century, craft related ideas and suggestions began to appear in women's magazines and became highly popular.
    Near the turn of the twentieth century, several manuals and instruction guides on crafting had been published that took the crafting ideas and techniques.   Crafting skills began to be used for creating family scrapbooks and albums. This became a great family activity and people prepared specially crafted scrapbooks for momentous occasions in their life and as souvenirs and gifts for the loved ones...sound familiar?  But, will future generations have to depend on their I-phones for souvenirs?

    This time of year finds the 21st century artisans, these crafters, at shows in school gyms, church halls, and open houses.  Perhaps this year is a good time to consider the independent crafter as he or she creates.  I am lucky to have wonderful artists to create for the shop.  For example, here are some signs as we prep for the holidays.
    Not done with machines, but by hand...with glitter accents...and there are matching cards...also handcrafted...not done in a Chinese factory.

    The small business is able to work with these artists and not for mass production.  For example, my talented card maker was able to design cards and tags for me with my latest favorite saying...I cannot ask Hallmark to do that!
    She also created some spectacular specialty cards...how wonderful would this be with a tin of homemade cookies or brownies.
    I featured some scarves from India, and, when doing some investigation for this entry, I was surprised to find that India has been crafting for thousands of years.  The traditions involved their religious beliefs, local needs of the commoners as well as patrons and royalty, and now all with an eye for foreign and domestic trade.  I thought this was an interesting quote from one site:  These craft traditions have withstood numerous foreign invasions and continue to flourish, owing to the multi-cultural, assimilative nature of Indian society and its openness to new ideas.

    And, speaking of crafting, I have a new stash of repurposed sari silk, as well as silk that has been turned into embroidery thread (wound on little clothespins!), and some velvets also!


    Granted, original ideas are not rolled up like that velvet above, but maybe the Cody Foster uproar will help to put people on alert...and maybe you want to buy from that small indie crafter/artist at the local show or at a small brick and mortar shop instead of off a big box shelf from a company who may have acquired that item surreptitiously.  And, remember, made in the USA prices may be a little more than the Chinese labor minimum wage...how many of you want to work a 12 hour day for an average of $1.36?
     
    Perhaps imitation is not flattery as Charles Caleb Colton wrote in the early 1800s.  It this new age maybe Frank Lloyd Wright retooled it better...
    "Imitation is always insult--not flattery.”