Posts

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…

The Roots of Christmas Traditions

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Our families have so many holiday traditions, in each family we have developed things that we hold dear as making Christmas OUR Christmas. I was curious as to how these happened so...
When you send that holiday card to your list, know that the first holiday greeting cards were commissioned in 1843 by a very clever Henry Cole who had John Callicot Horsley illustrate them. Sheer marketing genius, as Cole was a government worker who had helped come up with the idea of the post office and the “Penny Post” two years previously as a way of giving ordinary people easy access to sending and receiving mail in England.  The age of steam made it all work because trains were replacing the horse and carriage conveying mail and packages quickly long distances. The price went down even further when you could mail a card for a half penny if the envelope wasn’t sealed, just tucked in. I remember sending cards cheaply a long time ago in the USA too, same thing, tuck in the flap and don't seal the …

Halloween History Mystery

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Halloween is one of our favorite holidays in America, for both kids and grownups. How did it get here and what is the significance of the things we associate with the holiday?
Halloween is actually a fairly modern take on an ancient celebration and ritual in the pagan/Celtic world that was called Samhain, pronounced Sah-win.  Samhain was celebrated halfway between the autumn equinox and winter solstice, generally October 30 to November 1st (dates were added after calendars came along). It was a time when the veils between the worlds were thinnest and the dead could cross over; it was a time for celebrating a successful harvest and making sacrifices to get through the winter and propitiate the gods for the next year. This was a dark and superstitious world where ritual and offerings to gods and goddesses were important to survival.

During these days giant bonfires were lit, in accordance with specific rituals.  Feasts were laid out and the souls of dead family members were invited to tak…

O Christmas Tree: Where Did You Come From?

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Our American tradition of Christmas trees probably had its roots in Germany in the 8th century. St Boniface, the German apostle,  brought a fir tree with him when he preached to the common people  because he said its triangular outline represented the holy trinity. This was at a time when very few people could read and visual aids like his little tree were a big part of spreading the gospel.  Devout Germans took this form as a real manifestation of the trinity and decorated their trees only with candles in the beginning.
By the 15th century glass ornaments crept into view and in Latvia trees were even decorated with roses, associated with the Virgin Mary. It has been documented that in Strasbourg in 1605, on the Rhine bordering with France, someone brought a tree indoors and decorated it with roses made of paper, nuts, candy and of course, candles. The Christmas tree was officially born.

Folks got very crafty after that and carved wood, painted eggshells, added shaped cookies and mo…