Sunday, February 24, 2013

"In wine there is wisdom,

in beer there is Freedom, in water there is bacteria.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
What got me thinking about drinking was Washington's Birthday which coincided with National Margarita Day!  I started to wonder about glasses...the margarita glass is a definite shape...
I do like different glasses...we have what we fondly call our "wine cabinet" in the store...
Glass making dates to 3000 BC, but it was a rare thing since the furnaces needed to create it were not common. For many centuries it was the commodity of kings.  The oldest drinking "glasses" were actually made of bone, and archaeologists date their findings to 10,000 BC found in China and Japan.
Between 6500 and 3000 BC, pottery was discovered, and the potter's wheel made cups with handles a new item.  Decorated clay mugs have been found in ancient Greece dating to 4000-5000 BC.   Metal mugs from bronze, silver, gold and even lead (no comment) came into existence around 2000 BC.
Although wooden mugs were probably common, they did not survive the test of time.   The Chinese invented porcelain around 600 AD, and they created mugs suitable for hot and cold liquids. 
Glasses as we know them today really did not become available to the average home until glass manufaturing became more efficient with the use of soda lime.  The Italians worked on that, and by the 1890s glass manufacturing was a mainstay in many parts of the world.   So, when you take a drink, remember there was a time when only the 1% could have that wine in a glass!
And, for those of us in the cold winter climates, I thought this picture was worthy to raise a glass...

My daffodils!  And, the heating/cooling system is finally going to be installed this week so I can truly present March madness in my shop!  So, I will drink to Bette Davis said,   
“There comes a time in every woman's life when the only thing that helps is a glass of champagne.” 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

"“Guard against the impostures

of pretended patriotism.” ~ George Washington

This holiday weekend used to be just Washington's Birthday.  The first federal holiday to honor an American citizen, it was implemented by an Act of Congress in 1879, and it used to be celebrated on Washington's birthday, February 22, but it shifted to the 3rd Monday in February via the Uniform Monday Holiday Act (no, I did not make that name up!). 

In 1951, a committee tried to create a generic Presidents Day to honor not one person but the office. They thought March 4 would work since that was the first Inauguration Day, but it stalled in Senate Judiciary Committee (again...nothing changes!) That committee felt that, because of its proximity to Lincoln's and Washington's Birthdays, three holidays so close together would be unduly burdensome. During this time, however, the Governors of a majority of the individual states issued proclamations declaring March 4 to be Presidents' Day in their respective jurisdictions, and so the "Uniform Holiday" comes in.  The name stayed Washington's Birthday despite a movement to call it "Presidents' Day", and it became law June 28, 1968.

Enter the 80s..."show me the money" decade...advertisers wanted the name changed to make it easier for sales promotions...and so welcome to a day to honor not Presidents nor the office but the 20% off or BOGO or whatever gimmick will work.
But, we could celebrate history with Liberty Blue china, made by Enoch Wedgwood, Staffordshire, England, in 1976 for our Bicentennial.  I bought a large stash of LB at auction, and, although it is packed away while we renovate and renew, it will be out for the summer.
And the platter does honor our first President...and not pictured here, but the stash includes more serving pieces as well as pieces that are not commonly seen.
So, enjoy your holiday...

“Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government.”~James Madison

Sunday, February 10, 2013

"Life's greatest happiness is

to be convinced we are loved." ~Victor Hugo

It is Valentine's Week...I think it should be a week of celebration...not just a day.  It might put everyone in a better mood...especially those of us dealing with winter...not Florida style winter either.

One billion cards are sent worldwide (Christmas still ranks first), and it is a day celebrated not just in Hallmarks USA style. 

Valentine's Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France and Australia. In Great Britain, Valentine's Day celebrations began around the 17th century. By the middle of the 18th, it was common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes, and by 1900 printed cards began to replace written letters due to improvements in printing technology.

The "Mother of the Valentine" is Esther Howland from Worcester, Massachusetts. 
Howland started making and selling Valentine’s Day cards when she was just 20 years old.  After graduating from Mount Holyoke College, she had a profitable hunch in 1848. Before then, Americans hoping to woo their lovers either made their own valentines or bought elaborate cards imported from overseas.

Howland received a fancy, British card and brought it to her father, who owned the largest stationary company in Worcester. He was intrigued by his daughter’s idea.  She made up some samples with scraps of paper, and her brother took them out on sales' calls.  She had hoped for $200 worth of orders, and she received $5000 worth!
To fill the orders Howland hired a small army of women who cranked out valentines in an assembly line on the third floor of her Worcester home. Two years later Howland incorporated and the New England Valentine Co. was born.  The cards do have that logo on the back.

Romantic love was swept into America as the staid Puritan views began to lose ground.  According to some research, it appears her company made $25,000-$75,000 a year (close to 2 million in today's money).  For a woman to make that kind of cash when she could not even vote was amazing.  She held the company for 40 years before selling it in 1888 to her main competitor in Worcester, George C. Whitney. 

Ironically, the woman who immortalized romantic love never married!

I will leave you with a line from one of her cards...
"My love unchanging Still will be, Though friends depart and fortune flee."

Sunday, February 3, 2013

"If winning isn't everything,

then why do they keep score?"  ~ Vince Lombardi

Today is "Super Bowl Sunday," and, in reality the event is "vintage" since it started in 1967.  It is actually named after a toy from that era...the Super Ball.  These balls were amazing in their day because they bounced wildly about.  Today kids would want them to be more creative than just bounce!  

A merger between the AFL(American Football League) and the NFL(National Football League) brought a "World" Championship game in 1966.  (I always love how our sports championships are "world" events!)  Kansas City Chief owner, Lamar Hunt, saw his daughter playing with that "super" ball and called this new game "Super Bowl."  He figured it would be temporary, and initially they called the game "The NFL-AFL World Championship Game."  No need to go into why the unofficial "Super Bowl" name stuck, is there?  And so, in 1969, it became the official name.  Hunt was also responsible for using Roman numerals (which can be good for a teaching moment) because he thought it made the game seem more important (guess he was thinking gladiators).

The Green Bay Packers won the first 2 games, and the NFL appeared to be stronger than the AFL.  The next year, the New York Jets beat the Baltimore Colts, and the AFL logged a win.  In 1970, a merger took place, and the NFL and AFL became the National Football League, and the teams became the AFC (American Football Conference) and the NFC (National Football  Conference).

The NFC still dominates, having won twice as many Super Bowls over the years. 
The winner of the Super Bowl receives the Vince Lombardi Trophy named after the coach of the Green Bay Packers who won the first 2 Super Bowls.  It was an honor bestowed after his death and prior to Super Bowl V.
Super Bowl collectibles include jersey patches, pennants, jackets, and pins, even tickets and ticket stubs. Every Super Bowl has its own unique insignia, so some collectors try to accumulate items from every Super Bowl. Others acquire collectibles only when their favorite teams are in the game.  Of course, organizers have created an industry of "stuff," but sadly all of that can be easily reproduced which can make authenticating them tricky. 
Most people will be in front of the TV, surrounded by snacks and beverages, as the Super Bowl ranks in the top viewed programs...of the 44 most watched television broadcasts in US history, 21 of them are Super Bowls.  So, go _______ ! (Personally I would fill in  Ravens!) 

We didn't lose the game; we just ran out of time. ~Vince Lombardi