26 September 2010

Flying By the Wings of My Thread

Who wouldn't want to buy thread that was advertised as having wings...it some how makes it more magical, hinting at the sky being the limit to what you could accomplish,
although I am sure the intend of the Victorians that offered up this advertising gem was that your thread would fly through your fabric with the greatest of ease. None the less it is an endearing symbol and done in beautiful detail on a lowly box of thread, isn't that just like the Victorians.

The more serious box cover engraving featuring the Willimantic Linen Co in Willimantic, CT....then and now...In 1898 they became The American Thread Co.

There was large competition between thread companies as witnessed in these dueling advertisements from J & P Coats and American Thread Co. Prior to 1864 and the invention of the sewing machine thread was produced for hand stitching and made of three cords twisted together. Thread had a glazed finish and was too uneven to run smoothly through a sewing machine.

In 1884 George Clark developed a six-cord, soft finished thread. This thread, the first ever suitable for machine use, revolutionized the sewing industry, and therefore he called it "Our New Thread." This became known as O.N.T.
Apparently finding a thread spool with this logo is very rare according to Alex Askaroff of sewalot.com.
Alex has a wealth of information regarding antique sewing machines and related items that you will find interesting and amusing.

Let your wings take flight and

17 September 2010

Pin "Fasten"ation

What is this curiosity? Why... it is an antique pin cube!

Fueling my passion for all things antique and sewing related are these interesting little boxes that were at one time sold as "pin keeps". There was a time when these were a standard item in a woman's "toilet". In the 19th century the word toilet was used to describe the act of dressing or grooming ones-self and pins were often used as fasteners.

I love them for the novelty, the cute little cube shape and of course the lovely antique graphics. They are actually quite rare, made of cardboard not too many survived. I can imagine the appeal for young children with their building block quality... or a young restless and bored child mindlessly poking pins in holes to create infinite designs... not unlike my own son many years ago who loved making designs with the pins in my pincushion while I sat in front of the sewing machine. Later when I would reach for a pin I would see a smiley face looking back at me from my sawdust stuffed red tomato.

Pin keeps also were made from celluloid like this French variety featuring a courting couple. They were also commonly used as a means of advertising...here is a small "piece of the rock".I was also surprised to find this set of pins labeled as "office pins"...hmmmm...must have been used in lieu of paper clips....or to tack up the fallen hem of your petticoat that was stepped upon while hanging the gallery show!

11 September 2010

Liberty of London Fabric Bead Necklace Kits for Fall

Layer it on!
I have two new Liberty of London necklaces and fabric bead kits for sale at Whimrose Projects and also in Whimrose Etsy Shop.

This is the purple and blue range with purple grosgrain ribbon.
...and this is the plum and green range with Army green satin ribbonalso available in DIY kits!
...and I have relocated Whimrose Wedding Boutique invitations to both shops.
I am not sure if that makes sense to combine the two but because I am so busy right now it makes sense for me. I plan on opening a new Etsy shop for invitations, cards and stationary but in the meantime since changing my whimrose url I needed to put them somewhere quick.

06 September 2010

The Rewards of Labor: The Gospel According to Ann

When my best friend Ann came for her annual visit in June she declared that she "wanted to try some gin"...gin being my drink of choice on most Friday evenings otherwise I am a wine drinker.
What better place to introduce my friend to a Friday night cocktail but this great little bar in Chicago called Tiny Lounge.

Tiny Bar makes a fabulous drink called a Lakshmi named for the Hindu goddess that is the embodiment of beauty, grace and charm....perfect for Ann who encompasses these fine qualities.This wonderful elixir of the Goddesses is made with Hayman's Old Tom Gin (truly the best of the best gins)The recipe encompasses these unlikely pairings, St Germain, a French elderflower liquor, Berentzen Pear, and sparkling wine. Needless to say one is about all you can handle... and that is a good thing because of the LARGE price of a drink at TINY.

It seems I have opened the door to the world of gin for my friend, who by the way, happens to be in Campus Ministry at a Catholic school. Ann is a devout Catholic and a devout wine drinker, but it seems gin has "stirred her soul". Recently she confessed that she had been adding a bit of gin to her glass of wine on those stressful days in the ministry!

My first thought was...what??? that sounds sort of icky...I had forgotten that the elixir had in fact included (sparkling) wine and gin....hmmmm she may have something here.

....and then last Friday night I looked at the gin bottle and there was just a smidge left, maybe a shot... and I looked in the frig and I spotted a bottle of Woodchuck Pear Cider and a nice bottle of Boogle Sauvignan Blanc. I filled a wine glass with ice, then poured equal parts of pear cider and wine and thought...what the heck and threw in a shot of gin....

What can I say...I am a convert...converted by my dear "sister" Ann...hence the name of this new concoction:

Sister Ann's Confession

01 September 2010

Tomatoes, Eggplant & Mint...A Fairy Tale Love Story

Once upon a time there was a girl who loved eggplant. However, she shared her table with an eggplant ogre....until one day she discovered Fairy Tale Eggplant...and a special elixir that could persuade even the eggplant ogre to love this much maligned vegetable...

Diminutive, deep violet and magical....these sweet little babies hanging from Fairy like skirts caught my eye at the local farmers market recently. My husband is not a fan of eggplant so I am always looking for recipes that may persuade his taste buds. I think I may have found a recipe that even an eggplant hater will love.

The recipe came from my favorite vegetable cookbook,
Verdura: Vegetables Italian Style by Vivana La Place

This book could turn a devote meat eater into a vegetarian!

Chocked full of delicious and unusual preparations for vegetables like Carrots in Basil Cream, Cauliflower Salad with Lemon Dressing, Leeks in Pink Mascarpone Sauce, Zucchini and Beet Greens Soup and Lettuce and Sorrel Frittata with Herbs.

Tomatoes and eggplant, that's a given, but who ever heard of MINT with tomatoes?

The recipe calls for fresh tomatoes but I was anxious to try my latest batch of canned tomatoes (sublime btw, in fact I may just take on another day of canning this weekend because I am afraid that I won't even make it though October with the 15 quarts that I put up.)

This happens to be one of those dishes that is even better the second day, if you happen to have leftovers.This is an excellent brand of pasta.

Spaghettini With Eggplant-Flavored Tomato Sauce

8 Japanese eggplant(I substituted Fairy Eggplant) about 5" long
3 oz caciocavallo cheese cut into 24 pieces
4 garlic cloves, sliced and 2 chopped
1/2 bunch of mint leaves
olive oil for frying the eggplant
4 T extra virgin olive oil
1 onion finally chopped
2 1/2 pounds tomatoes, peeled seeded and coarsely pureed (I used canned tomatoes)
salt and pepper to taste
1 pound imported dried spaghettini
freshly grated imported Pecorino Romano cheese

Using a sharp knife, make incisions in the widest part of each of the eggplant. Gently insert a piece of cheese into 3 of the cuts and a slice of garlic and a mint leaf into the other 3.
Place enough olive oil to measure 1/4 inch in a medium saute pan. Brown eggplant a few at a time over medium heat until slightly soft, about 5 min.

In a large saucepan, combine the extra virgin olive oil, chopped onion and garlic. Cook over low heat until onion softens. Add tomato puree and season with salt and pepper. Raise heat to high and when sauce comes to a boil reduce to medium and add the eggplant along with the minced mint leaves reserving a few for garnish. Simmer partly covered until eggplant are tender and sauce has thickened. Using a slotted spoon transfer the eggplant to a serving dish and sprinkle with reserved mint.

Meanwhile cook pasta until al dente and toss with tomato sauce. Sprinkle with Pecorino Romano cheese.

La Place recommends serving the pasta as a first course and the eggplant as a main course but I tossed it all together. I found that the eggplant has a way of almost melting along with the cheese into the sauce (in a good way). The mint lends an interesting and fresh change from basil and gives this dish a unique flavor...semplicemente squisito!

Tomatoes, eggplant, mint

.....and they lived happily ever after.