Monday, August 13, 2018


Since we bought a pick-up truck recently, we chose to take that vehicle on our annual trip to DE/MD. I wanted to make my pilgrimage to the Crumpton auction, and with a truck, we knew we'd be able to pick up more than we had in past years.

We had a pretty successful time there. I found an old coffee table, which is going to be repainted of course:

A ton of records, including these goodies:

Some vintage dishes:

an antique bottle from Boston:

I didn't know what sulpho napthol was, so I had to look it up. It was mainly advertised as a disinfectant cleaner for hospitals and homes. However, an 1890 booklet produced by the Cabot company also suggests using it as bath soap, shampoo, even a mouthwash.

this funny sailor is a lamp, but I plan to make him into a garden statue:

A vintage embroidered decoration, because I love vintage linens:

And last but not least, I found my very own Edward Cullen:

He didn't look very sparkly, but hey, neither did I.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

The Trouble with Tourism

We just got back home from our annual trip to Delaware and Maryland. This time, we made a brief stop in Ambler, PA.

The reason for the stop was so I could try and get a look at Lindenwold Castle. The building, which served as a filming location for one of my favorite films: The Trouble with Angels. I've been watching the movie since I was a kid, and earlier this year I read the book, too. Last Christmas, my husband gave me the soundtrack on record so I really wanted to keep adding to my knowledge on the film, and visit the place that served as the fictitious St. Francis school.

It was first a private residence, and has also been the St. Mary's Home for Children. The building is surrounded by expansive grounds, which at originally totaled 400 acres.

Unfortunately for me, the building is no longer in use and is fenced off from the public. There is a chain link fence around the estate, and "no trespassing" signs posted every few feet within the property.

I was tempted to jump the fence because I really wanted to see the building. My husband talked me out of it. He called the local police station, hoping they could advise us on how to get the best view of the landmark, but all we could do was look through a gap in the trees, and I saw part of the building.

This is the best photo I could get of it:

I was pretty disappointed that we made a special trip, and I only got to see a quarter of the building, a mile away, through a bunch of trees, but at least I tried.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Marx Tin Dollhouse

Usually, when I blog about dollhouses, it's because I am working on my own. But for my birthday last month, one of my friends gifted me a vintage tin dollhouse!

 I already knew how popular these were in the mid 20th century, and I've encountered a few at auctions and in antique shops, but it was really cool to receive one to keep!

The first things I did, of course, was to research it. I know that the Marx company was one of the main manufacturers of these toys, but with anything popular, there are always imitation products. It didn't take long before I tracked down an image from the dollhouse's original box, and I confirmed that this is a genuine Marx dollhouse:

Marx dollhouses were popular from the late 1940's (after WWII, tin did not have to be saved for airplane production) until the early 1960's. In fact, the rarest Marx tin dollhouse of all was released in 1962. This dollhouse was only produced that year, and in a very limited quantity.

 It's value is not only in its rarity, it's what the toy represents; the Cold War. In the midst of the conflict, many Americans were convinced that "the big one" could drop from the sky at a moment's notice. Construction of fallout shelters in urban areas, as well as in suburban backyards, reached its peak in the early 60's as the Cuban Missile Crisis loomed. And true to its era, this 1962 Marx dollhouse comes with its very own fallout shelter:

I love dollhouses for their craftsmanship and creative potential, but I think many people underestimate their usefulness as historic artifacts Not only do they present us with a view of how children in the past have played, they also provide insight into the climate of a culture at a given point in time.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Japanese Kit Kats: Houji

The last of my Japanese Kit Kats!

It's another very exotic flavor: houji tea. Like the amazake flavor, I did not know what houji was before I tried the  candy.

The first thing I noticed is that it smells like hazelnut chocolate. I wasn't sure it was going to taste like any type of tea.

However, it has an aftertaste like when you drink a cup of really strong black tea. This is the one flavor that tasted the least like a regular Kit Kat bar.

I already plan to order some more exotic flavor, probably in the fall when I have have more money in "exotic candy" budget.

The rum raisin, cranberry almond, and strawberry maple are calling to me.  .  .

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Memento Mori

Ever since I first learned about Victorian post-mortem photography, I've been fascinated. Earlier this year, I read a book which includes numerous examples of the practice.  I have wanted to start collecting it, but I didn't want to be seen as a weirdo who scours Ebay, looking for sad photos of long-dead people. However, I knew that if I ever happened to come across one in my travels or treks to antique stores, then it would be organic and I know I would appreciate it as a historical artifact that represents a story.

Last Sunday, I was at my local Goodwill and I noticed a dozen or so old photos and cabinet cards on display. I always enjoy antique photos because I like to imagine who the people may have been, or what they may have been like in their lifetime.

I came across one showing a young woman holding a baby, wrapped in white.

If I were not familiar with the Victorian era commonness of documenting loved ones after death, then I may not have imagined it, because the woman looks very serene, with almost a slight smile on her lips.

There is nothing written on the photo to confirm my assumption, but the prevalence of these types of photos makes it the most obvious scenario.

Due to the expense involved in getting a family to a photographer's studio, Victorian era parents rarely had portraits taken in 'good times'. If the children were well and healthy, then there was no need to have their picture taken. However, in an age where diseases such as whooping cough, scarlet fever, diphtheria and others constantly threatened the lives of children, death was sadly commonplace. Parents often had portraits taken of their lost children because the photo was the only picture they would have to remember them by.

I know that many people think this a macabre hobby, but as a historian I can glean so much insight into a by-gone society from this once-popular art. And as someone who has always been sentimental, and is now a mother to a young child, I feel compelled to appreciate this photo for what it represents. 

The baby may not have lived very long, but I doubt the mother loved him any less. My son is only three, but I have innumerable pictures of him: on my computer, in our home, on my Facebook and Instagram.  .  .we are able to take photos without even thinking about it. This is probably the only photos taken of that baby; it may even be the only picture taken of the mother, or at least the only picture that remains of her. She must have treasured it.

I think we all like to imagine that the things we treasure will continue to be treasured by others when we are gone; that is why we hand wedding gowns, ratty teddy bears, hand-knitted blankets and other things down in our families. We don't save them and hand them down hoping that someone will say "I don't need this" and toss it away.

I have other antique photos and even though I don't know the people in them, I don't mind being a surrogate guardian of these treasures.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Japanese Kit Kats: Amazake

This is the most exotic Kit Kat I have tried so far. The green tea was very Japanese also, but I drink green tea all the time. I have never had amazake before. I didn't even know what it was, and I purposely didn't look it up because I wanted to be surprised.
It smells like chai, with subtle sweetness. It tastes like white chocolate, with a slight banana flavor to it.

I didn't know what amazake was, so after I ate the candy bar, I consulted Google. It is a a creamy version of traditional sake (rice wine). It can be served either hot or cold, and is a popular drink served on New Year's in Japan.

And YES: this candy does contain  in it. Each serving has .8% alcohol in it.

I only have ONE MORE FLAVOR LEFT- which will be posted soon.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Beatrix Potter Day

Not many people know, but Beatrix Potter has a connection to New Hampshire. The Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion in Portsmouth became the home of the Coolidge family in the later half of the 19th century. Because J. Templemann Coolidge III was an amateur artist and a trustee of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the house became a summer artist colony, and the family became acquainted with a number of artists.

When Henry Coolidge visited England with his mother, he met Potter. She even dedicated her book The Fairy Caravan to him!

I spent a few hours on the grounds of the mansion, indulging my own artistic side:

I agreed to display my Peter Rabbit diorama for the event. It looked perfect, nestled into the landscape:

  I occupied my time by working on my Secret Garden scene:

Eric and John tagged along because the weather was perfect. John decided to try using chalk pastels for the first time:

The day before, I slapped together a few cards, in case anyone wanted to see more photos, or contact me. I know that business cards are more professional, but I feel like artist trading cards are more 'me', so I made them using index cards, washi tape and pages from an upcycled copy of Charlotte's Web.

My favorite one is the one depicting fat Templeton, with my name above.

It was a nice event: not crazy and crowded. I enjoyed having such a quiet day there, and it's fitting with the theme of Beatrix Potter's nature-inspired stories.