I've often heard children say, "There's nothing to do today". I beg to differ. I'd like to inspire you to do something. Anything. Read. Bake. Hike. Fish. Plant. Sail. Climb. Play. Reach. Move. Laugh. Dream; and take time to sit with me on The Old Granite Step.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sturbridge Village and an Old Fashioned Sleigh Rally

Every year Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts hosts a sleigh rally.  Weather dependent, this wonderful event is a "must attend" if you live in the vicinity.  The horses seemed to thrive on the cold weather and the cheers from the crowd spurred them on. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Consignment Finds - Vintage Children's Books

I love books.  All kinds.  Poetry, Literature, Fiction, Non-Fiction; it doesn't matter.  There's something so peaceful about sitting in a bookstore and flipping through my next purchase.  A bookstore selling vintage books is absolutely wonderful!  I have a few favorites throughout New England; several are in city basement locations and while the hustle and bustle continues on the sidewalk outside the shop, inside is a warm, quiet mecca of books gone by.  I love it when I stumble upon a shop I've never been in before.  Of course, many people sell their books at tag sales.  For a dollar, I can often walk away with an armful of books; some bring back memories of my childhood and some contain wonderful artwork worthy of framing.  I encourage you to look for these; keep your find for yourself or give it as a gift!
Hide and Seek Fog is one of my most cherished finds.  The illustrations are beautiful; simple yet colorful and imaginative pictures.  The copyright is 1965 and the edition I have happens to be the Weekly Reader Book Club Edition.  Remember the book fairs that came to the school when we were kids?  Check with your local schools; book fairs still exist and in many cases, the public is encouraged to attend.
 The blues in this picture are captivating.  A child is sure to be drawn in to the story almost immediately.
 The illustrator has captured the tone of this seaside town perfectly in this picture.
A simple yet wonderful story.  Can't you just close your eyes and picture your bathing suit hanging outside to dry when you were a child?
I happen to love cats just as I love books so this illustration caught my eye immediate.  I did indeed "judge this book by it's cover" but it was well worth it.
 The copyright is 1939; towards the end of the Great Depression but before WWII.  
 Blacky's illustrations are simple, yet very telling for the small child.
The Blue Mittens is 153 pages long.  With a 1935 copyright, it shares the story of Kate with us and the journey that she takes during a one year period.  At the end of the book, the family moves to "Town". 
 The country house that Kate lived in.
 Simple and beautiful pen and ink drawings.

This is a truly wonderful story and I encourage you to try to find a copy of The Blue Mittens.
Celia Thaxter grew up in the Isles of Shoals, off the coast of New Hampshire and Maine.  Celia is probably best known for her book "An Island Garden", referring to the place she loved on Appledore Island.  Her father was the light keeper on White Island for a time.  This is the delightful story of life on the islands and tells of ghosts and storms!
Again, simple pen and ink illustrations are all that's needed to draw the reader in to the story.

Tim and Lucy Go to Sea has a copyright of 1958.  It doesn't have a flashy cover; one of the reasons you really need to explore a book that at first glance may not look very exciting. 
Containing both black and white, and colorful images, this book is a terrific story about an exciting and memorable boat ride.

Perhaps the little boys' outfit will give you a clue as to where this lovely story takes place.  A portion of Flanders borders the North Sea. 
 The copyright of this book is 1926.
The drawings in this book are a bit more precise.  Illustrator Frances Brundage may best be known for her colorful vintage Valentines. 
Snowflake, first published in 1952 tells the heartwarming story of the life of a snowflake.  A tiny, but wonderful adventure.
There aren't many illustrations in the book but the authors descriptive writing is all you need to "see" this story unfold.

These early primers just make me smile.  Comprised of delightful stories, these were often found on elementary school shelves.

 These books taught us compound words like "snowman".
Snow and steam shovels; most of these stories were written in the 40's but we've seen our fair share of snow and steam shovels this winter as well!
Did you know that the Kate Greenaway Medal is awarded every year and recognizes "distinguished illustration in a book for children?"  The illustrations in this book are lovely and depict simple and charming childhood stories.

 Remember when it felt so good to jump and twirl as a child?
 A Kate Greenaway book is a wonderful gift for a new parent!

Be sure to add a children's book or two to your collection.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

An Easy Quiche Recipe

I find that turning on the oven during these cold days is an added bonus.  This easy quiche recipe is perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  I chose to make mini quiche but you can make one quiche instead.  Use your favorite pie crust recipe (you'll need one crust) or go ahead and cheat; use a ready made pie crust.  For the quiche you'll need 4 eggs (slightly beaten), 1 cup of heavy cream, 1 cup of milk, 1 teaspoon of nutmeg and a dash of salt and pepper.  You'll also need 1 1/2 cups of Swiss cheese, although you'll see in the photos that I used a blend for some of them.  You can experiment with cheese.  Feel free to add mushrooms, bacon, ham, onions or whatever you'd like....about 1/8 cup to each mini quiche.  Makes 12 mini quiche.
Roll out your dough and cut into twelve rough circles.  Fit loosely into the muffin tray.  This doesn't have to be fancy so don't fuss.
Beat your cream and milk into the eggs.  Add the nutmeg, salt and pepper.
Evenly divide your cheese into the muffin cups.
Pour the egg mixture into each muffin cup.
Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes until golden brown.
You'll want to have more than one.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A greeting card that will grow on you!

In this age of modern technology we tend to rely on our computers and our cell phones for keeping in touch with our friends and our families.  It’s all too easy to send a text message or to hit SEND after writing a quick email.  Just think, we can compose one email and send it to everyone at once, with the click of a button.  We seem to have forgotten how nice it feels to be on the receiving end of an actual handwritten note or a handmade card.

We can trace the history of hand made greeting cards back to 15th century Europe.   Here in the US, mass production of greeting cards began in the 1860’s.  Although it’s a convenient option, it’s not always the most personal. 
Imagine…you open the mailbox, pull out the mail and there it is; actual ink, a pretty stamp, real handwriting….no type!  It doesn’t happen to me very often, but I savor that moment when it does.  I’d like to challenge all of you to not only send a handwritten piece of correspondence, but to send a simple handmade card as well!  By using a blank card and a pretty package of flower seeds, you can not only create a beautiful card, but a thoughtful gift as well.  You can find blank cards at your local craft store.  Seed packets can be found in many different locations but start at your local garden center.  The photos used on the package are close up and colorful.  Several seed companies offer artist renderings of the flowers.  They are truly tiny works of art themselves!  Perhaps you’ll choose the favorite flower of your recipient or a flower that’s their favorite color!  
Blank cards and envelopes
Various seed packets
Paint, crayons, colored pencils, etc.
Spray glue (or any craft glue)
Ribbon - optional

I opted to paint with watercolors around the edge of my card before gluing the seed packet onto the card.  You can use markers, crayons or whatever you’re comfortable drawing with.  I painted a matching flower on the envelope.  Glue the seed packet to the front of the card using spray glue or craft glue.  Seed packets with smaller seeds work best although you can ask the post office to hand stamp your card when sending it.  Using a hold punch, you can lace a ribbon through the card. 
I think at one time or another we’ve all picked up a greeting card in the store and thought “I can do better than that!”  Well, here’s your chance.  What will you write on the inside…a poem, a rhyme, a short story?  This is your chance to really shine and to put the extra special personal touch on your card.  If you’re at a loss for words, use a poem that you love, just remember to cite the author.
Try this just once and the satisfaction you get from making it and sending it will match that of the recipient receiving it!  Make something nice for someone special.  Perfect for Valentine's Day, Mother's Day or a birthday; it's sure to be appreciated.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Old Cars in the Snow

Since we seem to be breaking all kinds of snowfall records this year, I thought it was appropriate to post these photos.  I found them among some photos of my dads.  Both vehicles appear to be from the 30's.  I don't know who they belonged to or where the photos were taken.  Beautiful in any event.