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Women's Hats: Fun or Fundamental?

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American women have historically loved hats; but that love comes and goes between the issue of balancing common sense and fashion sense. Baseball caps, cowboy hats, and winter wool have become wardrobe staples, but except for special occasions we have lost sight of the hats that were, and what they were called. Their shapes actually each had a name.


A little history: Hats for more than any reason beside the absolute necessity of protecting one’s head, didn’t roll in until the Middle Ages when the Catholic church demanded that women cover their hair as part of their religion.


Women shopkeepers rose to the challenge, creating a new industry, making or providing the needed head covers. After a few centuries, those simple hat makers became milliners, named after Milan, Italy, where the very best straw hats were made. Hat makers graduated to the grander term milliner by understanding the opportunity to put more than a head scarf on their wealthy clientele. The milliners of the distant past w…

Vintage Inspiration in the Garden

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It’s that time of year! Buds are popping tulips and daffodils are blooming, the birds are singing and the gardens are waiting for us to get out there and grow things!

 For me, half the fun besides the growing part is the decorating part. I regard my garden spaces as outdoor rooms and I love finding fun objects to tuck into the plants and to dress up my living spaces.
I’m lucky to have a husband who builds whatever I can dream up, although he is not allowed near any plants. He’s a builder not a gardener as we have discovered. Thanks to care and work we have a mature yard that has taken several years of work on hardscaping and landscaping and planting and pulling and pruning. 


Wait a minute, that planting and pruning and weed pulling never quite goes away. My advice to those just starting on their garden odyssey? Don’t stint on the underpinnings of your garden. Take the time to put in walls, and beds and paths and ponds first. 


Your garden won’t look like much for a couple of seasons but th…

Easter in America

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Easter arrived on American shores with the first German immigrants in the 17th century. They brought the Easter hare to this country and from the Pennsylvania Dutch it has spread like, well, rabbits.

Every Bunny was Kung Fu fighting. Sorry, I couldn't help it.
 The word Easter comes from Eostre, an ancient German goddess of Spring. Legend says the rabbit was associated with her and it does appear in stories from ancient times. The rabbit somehow got itself associated with the Virgin Mary, a cross pollination of Christianity and pagan rites is very common throughout history, and often you will see paintings of the Virgin and Child with a rabbit tucked in somewhere.
But a rabbit and eggs?Eggs would have most likely the easiest food to consume in breaking a Lenten fast. They could be boiled ahead of time and ready to gobble up. They also represent spring and fertility and new beginnings. The Germans discovered that if you boiled them with flowers you could change their colors and s…

It's Literally a Love Fest, the Story Behind Valentine's Day

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Valentine’s Day is like so many other holidays we celebrate, really old and really pagan in its origins. The  Catholic saint for whom the holiday is named dates back to Roman Christians, and his legend is murky at best. He could have been one of three guys, so you can choose the martyr whose story you like best. They do all have in common that were strong, heroic, and definitely romantic and filled the bill for the church to eradicate one more pagan celebration.
Around 270 A.D. the Christian church decided to assign February 14th to the murky saint as his saint’s day because guess what? A pagan celebration took place the next day. Lupercalia was a seriously pagan festival dedicated to Faunus, the god of agriculture and Romulus and Remus, the twins who are the designated founders of Rome.



The Lupercia priests gathered at a sacred cave and sacrificed a goat to the god as a request for fertility for the people. They would cut the hide into strips and dip it in the goat’s blood and strol…

A Century of Wheeled Toys Aimed at Boys

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As the mom of four boys who were all obsessed with both cars and Legos, I wondered about toys with wheels? Research shows that wheeled toys have been around as long as the wheel has. Kid’s toys mimic the world around them, so if the family had wheels so did the kids.  Wheeled toys and pull toys have captured imaginations for a very, very long time. Still in marvelous existence, historians and archaeologists have found a cat pull toy from an ancient Egyptian household in Thebes, sans wheels nowadays;  a miniature Trojan style horse from Greece and on the other side of the world, a Mexican Remojada deer pull toy from Vera Cruz.



But before the 1850s toys with wheels were mostly carved wood. The industrial age changed all that and with factories came new processes and ways of working with metal. The age of the car began, and of course the toys followed in short order and were immensely popular with the short set.

In America, the first wheeled vehicles were made of cast iron, stage coache…

Cookie Cutter Collecting and Cookies Too

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Getting ready for my annual cookie baking frenzy I got my basket of cookie cutters out and added this year’s little Scottie dog to the group. I love old cookie cutters and I’m always looking for them when I thrift shop. 


Cookie cutters are still a collectible that most of us can afford to indulge in and I just discovered there are actually cookie cutter collector clubs, who knew?  Yes, there are a few that have sold for thousands of dollars, but those are really, really old and incredibly rare and I seriously doubt that I will be running across one in my local Goodwill.


That being said, what is the history behind these common and fun household items? Who thought of making a piece of tin into something you could mass produce cookies with? Can you imagine hand cutting all your cookies? Nope.  I started down the research rabbit hole because that is inevitably where my curiosity leads me.


I discovered the first ‘cookie shapers’ were ceramic molds you could press sweet dough into and then try…