The strange competition for recipe cards

Since I started my other blog, Gram’s Recipe Box, back in March, I haven’t had to worry too much about source material, because I was working my way through the old recipe box. Now that I’m reaching the end of the cards, I’m seeking new source material. My friend loaned me some cards from her family and my sister is working on some others that she has. In the meantime I figured I’d look on eBay, the great garage sale of the internet.

It’s amazing what people will put on eBay, and it’s even more amazing that there are lots of people out there bidding on that stuff. I did a quick search on vintage recipe cards and there were numerous auctions for old boxes of recipe cards. Many were handwritten notecards, much like Gram’s. Many were big collections of clippings, handwritten cards, and those funny Betty Crocker cards from the 70s.

What is more amazing is that there is a strange competition for these cards, with a few buyers paying up to $75 for a collection of old recipe cards. I find that very weird! I bid on six auctions and on three of them, I was outbid in the last few seconds of the sale! Now, that’s not unusual, but the fact that it’s on something that I think of as somewhat low on the “hot item” list is what throws me.

But, this tells me something much more important. All of these auctions said “great estate sale find!” noted in them. Meaning they were left as junk by the relatives of some deceased lady who collected recipes her entire life. It seems there are enough people who either don’t have their own family recipe books, or they just love old recipes, that these old recipes, almost lost to the ages, are now a “hot item” for collectors.

The moral of the story is to pass on the recipes from your family. Even if you don’t cook, please pass them on to someone who will appreciate them. As I’ve learned through my recipe project, recipe cards hold a lot more than ingredients and instructions on them.


We’re back and we’re baking again

I had to take some time off because honestly keeping up with one blog is time consuming, but three is really taking up a lot of my time! So, I’m ahead on Gram’s Recipe Box, Past Periods Press is good until July, it’s my chance to focus here for a minute.

We are going to be meeting my friend Kate and her family at the Aquarium of the Pacific tomorrow. Kate and I have never really met in 3D, just online through our mom’s group. Her daughter Jordan is Melody’s age and they have a younger son, Ben. All of us are excited for the day! Pictures to follow I’m sure.

Somehow I missed a round or even two of Baking Gals. It’s okay though, because I think I really needed a break. I signed up this month, and we baked for Matt Mobley, currently stationed at Ft. Hood, which we all know is A. the scene of the terrible massacre last year, and B. a bivouac center where units are deployed overseas. Hopefully these treats will reach Matt and let him and his buddies know we wish him the best.

We went old school again and dug up a recipe from “All My Best” which is the cookbook my mom put together of her favorite recipes from a lifetime of cooking. When I realized how simple Grammie Hennie’s brownies were, that’s what we went with. Keeping with my vow of quality over quantity, I figured I’d make a batch of brownies, include gum/mints/candy and ship. Well, hm, the brownies turned out so good that there were only about half a batch left. So, I though well, I’ve got a brownie mix here, I’ll make those. Yes, we made them, but they are seriously substandard compared with Grammie’s. 

Here we melted the butter and unsweetened chocolate. Ghiradelli, because my store was out of Bakers, but still delicious. Next, I have been itching to use this pan, which is one reason we went with brownies this month. It’s really a scone pan, but Joyce the Tea Lady told me it’s great for brownies. My batch of mix could have made a dozen very plump brownies, but it stretched to 15 okay.

The brownies were insane yummy while still warm from the oven. So yummy that I made a second batch of Grammie’s recipe the next day so my family could enjoy a few. The remainder were boxed up to go to Matt.

As you can see, I also stuffed a box with regular treats. Finally I made a batch of Munchie Dudes crackers. Melody is delighted because she usually only gets these at Gramma & Papa’s house. I will be shipping these on Monday since our local post office isn’t open on Saturdays anymore. Ah, government cost cutting.


I have been doing a lot of baking recently, not just for the Baking Gals organization, but for my new website Gram’s Recipe Box. Here’s a rundown on what we have been baking.

Operation Baking Gals (Give A Little Support)

4 doz cinnamon sugar cookies

1 pound cake

1 doz cranberry orange scones

These were all shipped to Bruce MacRitchie in Afghanistan, along with a bag of Jolly Ranchers, jelly beans, gum and mints. This round I think I learned that I need to bake less. It need to be less about the quantity and more about the quality. Next round I think I’m going to make cookies OR brownies, but not both.

Gram’s Recipe Box

Coffee Cake

Applesauce Cake

Chocolate Syrup

Coffee Cake (again)

The fun of these recipes is sometiimes figuring out exactly what she was thinking or how things were supposed to go together. I made one coffee cake that didn’t bake right because I put it in the wrong kind of pan. You might never think that the type of pan is just as important as what goes into it! The cake tasted very good, but I wish I had thought about that a little bit more.

Round 18 is open on Baking Gals, and I encourage you to join up if you can. This is the time of year they need us most, because the holiday season is past us and people are not in the “spread the love” sort of feeling. With Independence Day coming up in a few months, this is a great time to heat up your patriotic cookie recipes. :-)

Gram’s Recipe Box

This past weekend, my mom gave me a tremendous gift, although at the time I didn’t know it. I thought she was asking if I wanted a little box. It was white, showed years of use, and was clearly a recipe box. I didn’t know what to think at first, then I looked inside. Where I assumed it would be empty, it was in fact full of recipe cards. They were my grandmother’s recipe cards.

Since Grandma Pat – or Gram as we called her in later years – passed away in 1982, I have fallen out of practice at recalling her memory quickly. She used to do this funny little story called The Crooked Mouth Family and I would laugh every time she told it. She also would softly say “purr, purr” when something was particularly tasty or special, something I have said myself from time to time. How I could have forgotten these special memories is really a testament to time wearing away at our minds. I was a tender 14 years old when she passed and she had been very ill for quite some time. It wasn’t an exact shock, but it’s never easy. It was the first death I was really cognizant of, being as my grandfather had passed away a few years earlier and didn’t make as much of an impression on me.

As I looked at those recipe cards in that old wooden box, so many of those wonderful memories came flooding back over me. I remembered the funny little rhymes and ditties she taught me, and I was especially good at remembering them. I remembered the red mittens she had made me which I treasured for years after they no longer fit, and hardly wore in the first place because it doesn’t really get all that cold here in California. I could remember her smell and her smile, her funny sense of humor and her playing Blockhead with me at the kitchen counter. Grandmothers are truly one of the most wonderful things in the world.

So, later that night after my mom gave me the box, I was thinking about it and what to do with it. I didn’t want to put it in a drawer or cabinet to be forgotten. It seemed like something I wanted to share somehow. Being the digital age – and having access to decent equipment and a husband who can help when pressed into service – I realized I could start a blog about the recipe cards. My first idea was simple: post a scan of the recipe cards with minimal commentary, as often as possible, daily preferred. As I sat in the chair at the hair salon waiting for my color to set and my friend to finish with her other customer, I set up a new blog via my iPhone. (My goodness I am getting pretty geeky, aren’t i?) 

Almost the most difficult part of this process has been settling on a color scheme and design! I wanted something that reflected Gram’s love of home, crafts, and family, while keeping it within the 21st century. Plus,, the host I use, has very few themes available that are not techie. I finally settled on one, posted the first few recipe cards, told a few friends, and hoped for the best!

I hope you will make some time to visit Gram’s Recipe Box. Since the site launched yesterday, I’ve gotten some great feedback from friends and family. Yes, I will be making as many of the recipes as possible and posting pictures and a blog post about my experience. My mother may be consulted often. My sister may be called into service. It’s a family treasure, after all. Hopefully, you will share the treasure with me!

Week in review

Last week was eventful and the upcoming week is shaping up to be busy as well. It’s the way life speeds by that gets me every time!

In the last week, we celebrated Auntie’s birthday, she and I went to a Victorian tea (as the Victorians), we found out our dog is fat, John and Melody finished watching all the back episodes of Kimba, we finalized the details for Melody’s birthday party, I cooked a delicious Cheddar Chicken Soup, Nano had 3 teeth pulled, Melody is increasingly stubborn about potty training, John worked about a million hours, we cleaned the spare room enough that it will soon be a guest room, and I baked for our latest soldier through Baking Gals.  Whew!


My company has announced a “get fit” program and a bunch of us at work have been walking during our lunch breaks. It’s great and I really felt it the days we didn’t walk due to rain. It’s also fortuitous for Nano because he needs to lose 2 pounds. He’s only 11 pounds but he should be 9. My little doggy is fat, lol. However, it’s more serious than that. He has heart disease and something called a collapsing trachea, which causes him to cough a lot. The doctor thinks that the extra fat around his neck is pressing on his trachea and causing breathing troubles. Nothing to joke about, the dog gets less food and more walks. On top of that, poor guy had to have three molars pulled. Ouchie!

Melody’s birthday is coming up next weekend, and pretty much every day, she asks “is it my birthday today!?” with such a look of excitement and eager joy that I almost want to tell her that it is her birthday, lol. I really can’t wait until Saturday to be able to tell her “yes, Melody, today is your birthday!” We are planning a bouce house (weather forecast is sunny), friends, food, and a Tinkerbell cake. Thursday I will be taking her and some of her daycare buddies to the Santa Ana Zoo, along with Rhonda our babysitter. I’m really looking forward to it!

This morning, she was tired and did not want to get out of bed. She lay there watching as I was gathering clothes for her. She then told me “Mommy, I have a headache. When someone has a headache they have to rest and stay in bed.” I am so not looking forward to her trying to get out of going to school! I can only conclude she got this idea of staying in bed from me, since a couple weekends ago I had a terrible migraine and stayed in bed half the day..

During some of our cleaning of our spare room, I was forced to deal with my old records. You remember those things…vinyl, big pictures on the jackets, lyrics on the inside sleeve? Yeah, so back in the late 80s and early 90s, I collected Depeche Mode records. Specifically I was addicted to British and West German imports. I’d play them once (maybe) to record the music onto a tape and then never play them again. The West German ones were all colored vinyl, beautiful royal blue, neon orange, lemon yellow. I carefully stored them in plastic sleeves to protect the jackets, and never stored them in a garage or attic. Well, this paid off – figuratively and hopefully literally! I was about to send them to Goodwill when I decided to Google “who buys Depeche Mode records” and found a dealer in England. They have made me an offer for some of these records, and that should help out a bit toward my trip to Tennessee in April.

Yowza, how could I have forgotten to mention that I booked our trip to Knoxville?? Melody and I will be visiting the Hall family at the end of April! It will be Melody’s first trip on an airplane; in fact, her first trip anywhere. John of course offered to pay to have Tara come here, but I really want to go there, ha ha. I will even get the chance to see a real Civil War battlefield, AND go to Dollywood! Melody tells me “Mommy, we are going to Hollywood with Cassidy!”

This past weekend we baked for our latest soldier, CPT Steven Wisniewski. CPT Wisniewski is an Army pilot flying Apache helicopters in northern Iraq. He’s young, having graduated from high school in 2001, where he participated in football, wrestling and track. He also loved the arts, participating in the school choir and drama group, National Honor Society, Latin and Spanish clubs. To balance that, he earned his Eagle Scout in Troop 101 in Ohio. CPT Wisniewski went on to Ohio State University where he earned his degree in Engineering with an emphasis on Industrial Design & Systems Engineering. Wow. For this very worthy soldier, we made Cinnabon cookies, merengues, and heart shaped oreos. I hope to get in one more batch of white chocolate chip cranberry cookies and ship this all before the weekend. It won’t reach him by Valentine’s Day, but I hope he will know we are thinking of him and wishing him and his buddies a safe and happy Valentine’s Day.

CPL Wisniewski reminds me a little bit of my cousin George. He has the same zest for life, a few of the same interests – choir, flying, sports – and was also from Ohio. Every part of my being asks that George watch out over this young soldier and keep him safe.

We have been doing a lot of cleaning, getting rid of, donating. One group that has gotten all of our gently used baby gear is a support group for the families of deployed Marines out of Camp Pendleton. I recently received a sweet thank you note from a young lady who took a bus from Corona to Irvine in order to collect my old Pack N Play and high chair. The families of our deployed military suffer so much, it makes my heart break. Having seen some of my friends go through the struggles of being wives of deployed military, I am happy to give up the things we don’t need to someone who needs them so much. The support group is like a Goodwill, but the family pays nothing. If you find it in your heart to make a donation to any organization that helps out like this, please consider it. It makes a big difference!

November wrap up

November passed quickly and there were a number of events I had intended to post about but never found the time. Here’s a brief wrap up of our month.

November 9th, John and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary. Our tradition is to return to PJ’s Abbey where we were married, and enjoy dinner. We did so again this year and I had nearly the same thing for dinner as we had on our wedding day. The atmosphere is gorgeous at PJ’s. The high ceilings, arching stained glass window, and the history of over 100 years all fill me with a deep sense of love and comfort. For many years, the building was the Antioch Baptist Church. You can imagine the many people who worshipped there, wedded there, and held their funerals there. To have joined our lives in a building filled with emotions only strengthens my convictions that we are truly blessed to be together. And that we had The. Best. Wedding. Ever.

We baked in honor of a departed soldier, Rob Sanchez. That was such an emotional experience that I don’t think I’ll bake in memorium again. This round we signed up to bake for Ray Acosta, stationed in Okinawa. Ray and his wife just had a baby and they miss the States very very much. We will bake some Christmas treats and include other fun things like candy canes and M&Ms. I would love to send some frosted chewies, and since he’s not in the desert, I might just do so!

Papa endured hip replacement surgery and Melody and I visited him in the hospital and in the rehab center. We actually went to see him on Halloween, and Melody was dressed as Tinkerbell. Tinkerbell is Melody’s new favorite movie. Her other new favorite movie is Up. And of course her old favorite movie is Cars. And Bolt. And Finding Nemo. Anyhow, Papa is doing a lot better now and we have visited him at home too.

I took Melody on my day off to a pizza party at my office. All I can say is that Melody demanded a piece of crust from my friend Laurie, and then looked like The Joker after she ate a cupcake with hot pink icing. My girl actually told me she wanted applesauce and not pizza. Somehow I think I might have done something right.

I’m in an ornament exchange with my girls from my pregnancy support group, and I found the most gorgeous glass butterfly and dragonfly to send. I liked them so much I got a set for myself. Just this past weekend, however, I found a much better gift. I wanted to send something that could only be gotten here, and while at Calico this past weekend, I found an ornament that looks like their school house, and it says Calico, of course. Perfect! Jackie I sure hope I didn’t just ruin the surprise, lol.

We had Thanksgiving at our place again this year. I worried very much about the turkey defrosting completely, as in some years in the past, that dang turkey has been icy on the inside right up until the moment I put it in the oven. This year it was completely defrosted. I premade so much food and it all turned out great! My favorite side dish was the stuffing because I put sage sausage in it. Yummmmm! I also made a brand new dessert this year called Pavlova. My boss made this dish for us at the office a while back, and John and I fell in love with it! It’s a meringue base, topped with whipped cream and fruit. I made meringues for the first time. I whipped cream for the first time, and I ate passion fruit for the first time. It was delicious and I can’t wait to make it again.

We also got Melody’s pictures for our Christmas cards. They turned out so cute, if I do say so myself. She was a little bit of a ham (surprise, right?) and played with everything she came in contact with, including props for Halloween, summer, sports, boys, etc. I decided that she would wear her great-grandmother’s gold ring (on a chain) and a little silver bracelet I can remember wearing as a child to Sunday School. I don’t know where it came from before that.

Finally, Calico this past weekend. Please check my other site Past Periods Press for the instructions on how to make a poppet. Between me, Pauline and Pauline’s friend Laurel, we made and gave away nearly 80 poppets to little girls who came into the Lane House Museum. It was very cold that day, down into the 40s due to rain, and Melody was such a trooper. She didn’t want to wear a shawl or even a hat, but I finally just tied a scarf over her head and she looked like a tiny babushka. Traffic was horrible coming home but in Dad’s nice car, it was manageable.

Tonight we hung our first Christmas decorations – little ornaments that Melody made at day care. They are super cute! December looks to be shaping up just as busy as November. I’ll try to post often, but if I miss a week it’s because I’m focusing on my family. Today I learned of two people I have worked with for 12 years who passed away over the weekend, both to tragic and unexpected accidents. It puts the fragility of human life into perspective.

Why am I writing a blog when I could be snuggling up to my honey? See ya!