August 4, 2015

the new england butt'ry shelf almanac

And the old timey nostalgia train continues around here these days....that's cool with you right? A huge, mountain's worth heap o' thanks to my darling pal Heather from Audrey Eclectic for bringing this nugget of awesome to my attention. That title's a mouthful is it not? Heather and I share a deep and abiding love for the illustrator, a certain little miss TASHA TUDOR. Anyway, at some point, Heather mentioned this book on her blog, and I went and found myself an edition at the library. And I've held onto it all summer. Maybe I'll keep it forever? Or until my library renewals run out?

What's funny about my old fashioned nostalgia streak is that if I could wave a magic wand and import myself into a house in the pages of a West Elm catalog or something from Domino, I'd be there in a hot minute. I've grown to appreciate modern decor in my older years. Cough. But.....if I could have a little cottage just for me - it would be floral, and pretty, and there would be quilts on all the beds.

(Have I told you one of my greatest afternoons that I ever had? It's the little things, people. One time about 10 years ago, I had a day off from work and I ate a slice of gingerbread IN BED while reading a book. It was the greatest afternoon.) Anyway, what would have made the day even better would have been to have eaten that gingerbread in a fluffy bed with a (non-musty) quilt on top.

Alright so 'The New England Butt'ry Shelf Almanac' by Mary Mason Campbell. Another funny thing about my penchant for all things old timey is that aside from cooking, I don't possess a single skill that would have been useful in Old Fashioned Times. I don't sew, knit, or can preserves. My gardening skills are non-existent. Maybe that's why I'm so fascinated by it all. I've also always been very enchanted with All Things New England-y. I went to college, my first two years of it, in Massachusetts and I walked around in a perpetual state of delighted astonishment. My first New England fall put me into a high from which I've never recovered.

SO THIS BOOK, is my long winded way of getting around to saying - THIS BOOK is for those of you out there who want a big hit of old timey nostalgia. Here's the entire title: "Being a Collation of Observations on New England People, Birds, Flowers, Herbs, Weather, Customs and Cookery of Yesterday and Today." WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT, EH?

 Blueberry Topsy Turvy Cake! Julia and I are going to make this next week.

The book is divided into chapters covering all the months of the year, and subdivided into the categories of Birthstone, Flower, Bird, New England Life, Seasonal Recipes and a Portrait (of a famous New England personage). Did you know that the lady who wrote 'Mary Had a Little Lamb', Sarah Josepha Hale, was the first female editor of a national magazine? Do you know who Wilson Alwyn Bentley was? (My smartypants husband, who knows almost nearly everything, did.) He photographed and studied and wrote about snowflakes and snow crystals HIS ENTIRE LIFE and was the first to realize that no two snowflakes were alike.

Now, you might think this is all terribly boring. No, you're wrong! It's charming and sweet. If I have time, I try and read a little each morning when I eat breakfast. And of course, Tasha's pictures are the sweetest and the best. Mary Campbell's writing is funny and detailed and makes you feel like the best New England neighbor has arrived to tell you stories about All The Happenings that used to occur in a New England year.

"In the gentle mood of nostalgia, 'The New England Butt'ry Shelf Almanac' has been written in the hope that it, too, will furnish interesting and useful information to all those who love New England, its customs and people, its old houses and ghosts, its hills and valleys and rivers and coves, and its ways of keeping house and garden."

I won't be able to rest until I've unearthed 'The New England Butt'ry Shelf Cookbook'. Also, my husband laughed at the word 'Butt'ry' because he also sometimes has the humor of a toddler.

ANYHOO - go seek this hidden gem out if you can find it. I'll be here making Mary's recipe for pumpkin fritters and pumpkin custard in October....