Vintage Entertainment

View-Masters Provide a Look into the Past

Partial view of long View-Master reel storage contain, with Monticello reel package on top of lid and black View-Master viewer in the background.
View-Master reels, viewer, and vintage Bakelite storage box

It’s cold outside. It’s raining. Perhaps you don’t feel well. How do you amuse yourself on cold days, rainy days, and quiet days? Not too long ago, adults and children alike reached for the View-Master. View-Masters provide a look into the past, as well as laid-back entertainment.

Though morphed into a children’s toy, the original 1939 View-Master specialized in 3-D nature scenes for adults. In a day before the Internet and home television, View-Master reels allowed people to engage in armchair travel. At the same time they could marvel at the colors created by Kodachrome film. The beautiful beaches of Hawaii, the mountains of Germany, and the wonder of Hoover Dam all found a home on these reels. The viewer was small enough to easily pass from hand to hand so everyone could enjoy the scenes.

Vintage photo of the islands of Hawaii, showing palm trees, beaches, and water.
The beaches of Hawaii on a vintage View-Master reel.
Vintage View-Master reel scene of a California beach. White waves appear next to a cliff with trees bordering the water in the foreground.
The deep blues and greens of California come to life via Kodachrome in this View-Master reel.

Special orders, yes sir!

The first viewers were circular and just a little larger than the reel itself. You can see the shape of the original viewer in this copy of the U.S. Patent from 1939. In the 1940s the U.S. Army used those little round viewers to teach troops how to identify aircraft. Families at home got spotter card decks; servicemen got View-Master reels. Training consisted of several reels. The Study Reel provided photos of one plane from several angles, while the Test Reel asked the student to identify seven different planes.

Specialty View-Master reels have been available since WWII. This one advertised a 2000 video game, and was sent to reviewers in the press.

Bringing the past to life

Many reels brought new life to old stereoscope cards and presented them to a new audience. Whether you loved old trains, national monuments (from many nations), or black and white battle photography, you could find it all in the new View-Master reel. Even when new, View-Masters provided a look into the past. Some of the actual photography on the reels dated to 1900 or before.

Photo of three locomotive engines in a train shed.
Antique trains from a vintage View-Master reel.

Lots of adults treasured fond memories of pouring over a stereoscope at a grandparent’s home. One card showed a double picture that when inserted into the frame became 3-D. It was like magic! When View-Master reproduced some of those old cards on their reels they proved a hit. The View-Master was invented by Wilhelm Gruber, a man fascinated with the stereoscope of his youth in Germany. Not only was his invention more portable, but it held seven stereoscope cards on one reel. Seven!

One of the most compelling reasons for View-Masters among adults proved to be the culture and travel scenes. When we inherited a collection of 1950s reels from a grandmother, most of them included scenes like the ones you see below covering places like Colonial Williamsburg, Pennsylvania Dutch and Amish Country, and Holland. I loved pouring over them, seeing how View-Masters provide a look into the past.

Five Viewmaster reels arranged on a tablecloth. The top three overlap each other and read: Colonial Willimasburg, Pennsylvania Dutch and Amish Country, and Holland.
Travel View-Master reels like these entertained adults.

Of course, by 1951 View-Master began to release folktales and Disney art on the reels, which cemented their popularity with children. Now we know of them as a children’s toy but that’s not how they began.

Types of viewers

After the first viewers mentioned earlier, the Sawyer company (who actually manufactured the reels) came up with a boxy, metal-and-Bakelite viewer that you see below. Almost all the following View-Master viewers were based on this style.

Two black View-Master viewers stacked on top of one another. The top is a 1940s Sawyer viewer made of Bakelite, and the bottom is a Fisher Price viewer made of plastic.
Two viewers. The top is a Sawyer Bakelite viewer from the 1940s that has a light, and the bottom is a Fisher Price Star Wars viewer from the 1990s.

The top viewer in the photo above has a light attachment bolted to it. It looks like a box with a big red button on the top. This little add-on allowed enthusiasts to view the reels in low light. You could look at them anywhere, as long as you had an electric outlet for the plug that came out the bottom of the attachment. This was a great boon for night-time viewing in houses that didn’t always have adequate light available.

Now that you know all this, how can you explore vintage View-Masters on your own? If you want to see how View-Masters provide a look into the past, you can easily assemble a set via eBay. Other options include local flea markets and vintage stores,, and places that specialize in old toys.


Gluten Free Adaptations · The Vintage Kitchen

Many Layered Jam Cake

Multi-layered oval cake on a blue plate. The top is covered in powdered sugar.
A 1929 recipe for Many Layered Jam Cake. This will become your new favorite!

The Many Layered Jam Cake is one rich cake. After trying it once, this recipe goes into my permanent rotation for entertaining. A bit more involved than an everyday cake, Many Layered Jam Cake definitely tastes like more than a sum of its parts. This is a delicious, decadent cake for your next vintage gathering.

The original 1920s recipe called for two different types of marmalade. It didn’t mean sweet orange marmalade and another sweet orange marmalade. This recipe calls for orange marmalade and lemon marmalade. Or maybe orange and lime. Even a sweet orange and a tart orange would be good.

Cake on plate with two small pieces cut off the end. The small pieces sit on a smaller plate next to the cake.
Look at that rich deliciousness!

In search of marmalade…

I couldn’t find any of that locally. My area sells sweet orange marmalade. Period. While I don’t live in the middle of nowhere, I also don’t reside in a large metropolis. But the three groceries I checked all offered sweet orange marmalade and nothing else.

If you want to try this with other flavors, you may be reduced to making your own marmalade. Any citrus fruit can be turned into marmalade. Oranges, lemons, limes, even grapefruit marmalade can be successful. Here’s a recipe for Meyer Lemon Marmalade by the Ball Company. The Ball Company that makes canning jars. They know a thing or two about canning recipes, and their Blue Book is legendary. I own two copies. But I digress.

Two oval cake pans sit on a cake cooking rack. Each pan holds a very small amount of unbaked batter.
Cake pans ready to go into the oven. Each one held 1/2 cup of batter.

Without any other options, I made the cake with just sweet orange marmalade. And Oh. My. I won’t say that I saw taste testers fighting over the cake when we did the original tasting. But I can say that every time I looked in the refrigerator a little more of it was missing. Even the Resident Fruit Hater at my house loved it. 

Ingredient substitutions

I made the Many Layered Jam Cake with gluten free flour because that’s what I have to use. The original recipe was written for ordinary cake flour. (To substitute regular flour for cake flour you simply measure a cup and then remove 2 tablespoons of flour from the measuring cup. Then, if you like, stir in 2 Tablespoons cornstarch to make up your full cup of flour.)

This cake is baked in layers. I used a 1/2 cup measure and ended up with seven very thin layers that baked in 12 – 14 minutes apiece. Once baked, I flipped them out of the pan and let them cool. And you know what? Cake layers that are only 1/4-inch thick cool really quickly. In less than half an hour after baking all the layers I was ready to assemble the cake.

Loose and fluffy

I used wax paper in the bottom of the pans to make removal easy. Changing the paper lining with each layer works best. Or simply grease and flour your pans really well so the layers don’t stick.

One thin oval of white cake covered with orange marmalade. This is a Many Layered Jam Cake in process.
Bottom cake layer with a thin coating of marmalade. Ready for the next layer.

Confession: the recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of baking powder. I swear I don’t remember putting that in. If you use the baking powder, your layers will probably rise a bit more than mine did, and taste less dense. Either way, this Many Layered Jam Cake is amazing.

Using only one type of marmalade, it took most of a jar to assemble the seven layers. A thin spread of marmalade goes between each layer. Then top the assembled cake with a nice sprinkle of powdered sugar. It’s so rich that it doesn’t need more than that. Icing would not only be overkill, but it would dull the citrus flavors of the rest of the cake.

If the weather’s warm, enjoy your cake with a nice glass of iced coffee. I wrote about iced coffee in the 1920s in this blog post.

Many Layered Jam Cake

Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Cooling and assembly30 minutes
Total Time1 hour 50 minutes
Course: Dessert, Tea time
Servings: 6 people


  • Electric mixer
  • 8-inch cake pans
  • cooling rack


  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • cups cake flour works fine with Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 baking flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp lemon peel, grated
  • 1 jar marmalade or two kinds if you can find them
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar you won't use it all; this is to spinkle on the cake top. I used about a tablespoon in a tea strainer.


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Prepare two round or oval cake pans. (The small oval cake pans in the photo are made by Wilton and available to go with their Level 2 or Level 3 cake decorating class materials.) Either grease and flour the pans liberally, or cut a piece of wax paper to fit the bottom of the pan, grease the bottom of the pan lightly, stick the paper to the pan, and then grease the paper.
  • Stir the flour and the baking powder together in a small bowl.
  • In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and add the sugar, unbeaten eggs, flour/baking powder mixture, and the lemon peel. Mix together slowly for one minute, and then beat on medium speed for two minutes. The mixture should turn a light yellow.
  • Place 1/2 cup of the cake mixture into each pan, and smooth it down until it forms an even layer. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until done.
  • After you remove the cake layers from the oven, let them rest a minute and then loosen them with a metal spatula or something similar (don't use a rubber spatula that will melt from the heat). Turn each layer carefully onto a cooling surface like a cake cooling rack. Let them cool for 20 minutes or so.
  • Repeat the baking and cooling until you are out of batter. You should get 6 – 8 layers. I got seven, with the last layer a bit thicker than the others. I used it as the bottom layer to provide stability.
  • Once your layers are cool, assemble them. Between each layer, spread a thin layer of marmalade. If you have two types of marmalade, alternate flavors with each layer. Top your cake with a healthy sprinkle of powdered sugar. Refrigerate until needed, and then let it come back to room temperature before cutting.
The Vintage Kitchen

Fruited Cream 1920s Dessert or Salad

Bowl of whipped cream and fruit dessert alongside a small plate with five leaf-shaped dinner mints.
Fruited Cream served up.

Or maybe it’s a Fruited Cream Dessert Salad. If you’re looking for a light and cool dessert for warm weather, look no further. This Fruited Cream recipe from the 1920s fills the requirement. It’s smooth, fruity, sweet, and cold. And Fruited Cream gives us an example of some of the best from the Twenties kitchen.

An early forerunner of the famous ambrosia salad (or infamous, depending on your view), this cream goes together with very few ingredients and not much time. The largest time chunk of the entire recipe is the time that it needs to chill. To blend the flavors well, this recipe needs to cool in the refrigerator for at least four hours after you make it. Good thing it’s easy and quick!

The Twenties kitchen was known for simple ingredients. These were combined in innovative ways. Sometimes, as in this recipe, those combinations shine. Other times… well, let’s just say there’s a reason nobody makes Sardines and Boiled Egg on Toast anymore. 

A recipe like Fruited Cream was made when the cook wanted to throw a small party. It surfaced as a special salad for a special occasion. This recipe would not appear on the table for a festival like Thanksgiving, Christmas, or another major holiday. Repetition over time scripted those menus. It would, however, be a delightful addition to a birthday lunch.

You need fruit, and cream, and sugar

Four bowls showing ingredients for Fruited Cream. Bowls contain minced strawberries, crushed pineapple, sugar, and cream.
Ingredients for fruited cream dessert.

To make Fruited Cream you’ll need two cups of any fruit. I used 1 cup strawberries and 1 cup crushed pineapple, but you could also use canned apricots or peaches. Or you can even mix the fruit with pineapple, like I did. Peaches with pineapple sounds divine, actually. Especially if you like both fruits equally well.

You’ll also need a cup of heavy whipping cream, vanilla flavoring, and powdered sugar. You’ll mince your fruit (a very fine diced cut). Then whip the cream until very stiff, and stir in the vanilla flavoring and powdered sugar. After that you chill, chill, chill. This needs to chill in the refrigerator for four hours or more to blend the flavors so it tastes like a salad and not like fruit stirred into whipped cream.

Scale it up if you want, but mince it fine

As written, this recipe serves 5. It would taste great served with an iced coffee like the one I wrote about here. However, you can multiply it as many times as you need to feed a small crowd. Fruited Cream should scale well. If you need less than five servings, well… it makes fine leftovers for a couple days. After two days the cream starts to break down. Before then, it tastes great for breakfast with a cup of hot tea or coffee.

When you put this recipe together, you want to make sure that your fruit is minced very fine. A 1/8 inch mince isn’t too small. Most of my strawberries evened out at about 3/16” in size, halfway between 1/8” and 1/4”. I tried to make none of the pieces as large as 1/4”. 

Silver bowl containing mixture of diced strawberries and crushed pineapple.
Mince that fruit! It makes a difference!

The crushed pineapple you can smash with a fork when you drain it, and very little should need to be cut. I found a few pieces larger than 1/4” so I cut them down to the correct size.

All this mincing and measuring-by-eye may seem like a lot of effort for nothing, but it definitely tastes in the finished product. Instead of chunks of fruit in whipped cream, you taste a sweet creamy smoothness from the combination –– but only if your fruit is cut small enough. Remember, this isn’t your grandmother’s 1970s salad where the pineapple chunks compete with the mini marshmallows in a swirl of pistachio-flavored pudding. This is smooth, and creamy, and delightful –– a hallmark of the Twenties kitchen. This Fruited Cream will shine on your table as a dessert or a salad.

Fruited Cream Dessert or Salad

This recipe combines fruit and cream into a sweet concoction much larger than the sum of its parts.
Prep Time30 minutes
Chilling time4 hours
Total Time4 hours 30 minutes
Course: Dessert, Salad
Cuisine: American
Servings: 5 people


  • Stand mixer or hand egg beater for making whipped cream


  • 1 cup strawberries, minced
  • 1 cup pineapple, crushed
  • ½ tbsp sugar, optional
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar


  • Drain the crushed pineapple and measure 1 cup.
  • Mix the minced strawberries and crushed pineapple in a medium bowl. Add sugar if the mixture isn't sweet enough.
  • Using an electric mixer or a hand-operated egg beater, whip the cream until stiff. Stir in the vanilla and the powdered sugar.
  • Stir the flavored whipped cream into the fruit. Mix well, and chill for at least four hours.
  • Makes 5 3/4-cup servings.
The Creative Corner · Vintage Needlework

Five Great Vintage Crochet Edgings

Five different crocheted laces spread out in a fan shape on a wooden table. They are held down by a large magnifying glass.
You can use these five vintage crocheted edgings for lots of things.

If you are into vintage crafts or sewing, you need these five great vintage crochet edgings. Sooner or later you will need an edging for something. Whether it’s a curtain or clothing, trimming a hat or a basket, these crochet patterns will help you out.

The vintage needleworker decorated all kinds of things. In a world where most fabric came in solids, checks, or stripes, trims proved a welcome addition. Ribbons, laces, and flowers made all kinds of objects shiny and fancy. They dressed up last year’s clothing, updated last season’s toque, and brought springtime freshness to indoor rooms.

Vintage crafters didn’t have access to a lot of needlework patterns. They collected magazines when they could, and sometimes referred to patterns 10 or more years earlier if they needed something specific. Creators also found two or three patterns they liked and tended to use them over and over again. These five great vintage crochet edgings give you a starting point. You can begin your own favorite pattern collection.

Often a vintage pattern suggests that you finish edges with trims. You could be making an apron, a tablecloth, or a dress. Especially with the long lines of Twenties clothing, a strip of handmade lace makes that dress look right in fashion –– for 1925.

Not to mention, machine-made laces aren’t what they used to be. A garment that gets a lot of use like an apron or a nightgown needs sturdy lace. Tatting would be best, and I’ll cover that in another post. If you don’t know how to tat, though, or you tat lace beautifully but don’t want to spend two months doing it, crocheted lace is your answer.

Quick and easy

Crocheted lace is relatively quick to make, it offers lots of variations, and it’s pretty. If you know how to make a chain, a single crochet, and a treble crochet, you can make any of these laces. And if you don’t, the YouTube links in the previous sentence will show you how to do just that.

Although each of these patterns could be a post in itself, I’ve decided to combine them. I have so much to share with you that if I posted one edging pattern at a time we’d never get through even half of it.

I crocheted all these great vintage crochet edgings with size 10 thread (equivalent to size 5 pearl cotton), using a steel crochet hook size 7. You can make them with whatever size thread (or yarn) you like. Would these look good on the edge of that new afghan? Absolutely they would! In fact, if you are adding this to a crocheted or knitted item, you can omit the foundation chain. Start the instructions with 2: Work a single crochet in each chain. For a knitted item, single crochet in every stitch along a cast on/cast off edge, and every other stitch down the sides.

Make as long or short as you like

No amount of thread is given because the amount you need totally depends on what you are making and how long it needs to be.

All of these edgings are worked the same way. You start by making a chain as long as you want the lace to be when it’s finished. Then you crochet back to the beginning with a second row of one single crochet stitch in each stitch of the foundation. I suggest that you begin the solid row of single crochets (marked as row 2 in these instructions) with an extra chain, which helps to make that first single crochet stitch look finished. The original Twenties instructions didn’t call for that; if you find it looks better without it, feel free to leave it out.

Here they are… Five Great Vintage Crochet Edgings for anything and everything you can think to use them on.

Edging 1

Strip of thin crocheted lace on wooden table. Edging 1.
Edging 1

This edging measures 5/8-inch deep when made in size 10 thread.

  1. Make a foundation chain the length required. If you want to be perfect about it, make a chain in a multiple of seven stitches.
  2. Chain 1, and turn. Work a single crochet (sc) in each stitch of the foundation chain.
  3. *Skip 1st stitch, work a single crochet in next two stitches, skip next stitch. Then work sc in loop, chain 4, sc in loop, chain 4, sc in loop, chain 4, sc. Repeat from * across row.
  4. Finish off the ends.

Edging 2

Strip of crocheted lace on wooden table. Edging 2.
Edging 2

This edging measures 3/4-inch deep when made in size 10 thread.

  1. Make a foundation chain the length required. If you want to be perfect about it, make a chain in a multiple of fourteen stitches.
  2. Chain 1, and turn. Work a single crochet (sc) in each stitch of the foundation chain.
  3. *Work a sc in the first stitch, chain 2; skip 3 stitches; (treble stitch, chain 2) 5 times; skip 3 stitches, sc in next stitch; chain 7; skip 5 stitches and sc in next stitch. Repeat from * across the row.
  4. *2 sc under first 2-chain loop, 2 sc under second loop, 2 sc under third loop; in the middle loop make 1 sc, chain 4, and 1 sc; 2 sc under next 2-chain loop, 2 sc under last 2-chain loop; in the large loop make 3 sc, chain 4, and 3 sc. You will have covered all the previous row’s chains with single crochet stitches, and the chain-4s of this row make the picots at the points. Repeat across the row from *.
  5. Finish off the ends.

Edging 3

Strip of crocheted lace with points on wooden table. Edging 3.
Edging 3

This edging measures 1 inch deep when made in size 10 thread.

  1. Make a foundation chain the length required. If you want to be perfect about it, make a chain in a multiple of eleven stitches, plus 9 at the end.
  2. Chain 1, and turn. Work a single crochet (sc) in each stitch of the foundation chain.
  3. *Work 9 sc in 9 stitches of the previous row, chain 4, and skip 2 stitches. Repeat from * across the row. You should end the row with a final 9 sc in 9 stitches.
  4. *Skip the first stitch of the previous row’s 9 stitch set, and work 7 sc into the next 7 stitches. Chain 6. Repeat from * across the row. You will end with 7 sc over the final 9 stitches.
  5. *Skip the first stitch of the previous row’s 7 stitch set, and work 5 sc into the next 5 stitches. Chain 4, single crochet in the middle of the previous 2 rows’ loose chains, catching them both in the stitch, and then chain 4. Repeat from * across the row. You will end with 5 sc over the final 7 stitches.
  6. *Skip the first stitch of the previous row’s 5 stitch set, and work 3 sc into the next 3 stitches. Chain 3; sc into loop, chain 8, sc into next loop, chain 3. Repeat from * across the row. You will end with 3 sc over the last 5 stitches.
  7. *Skip the first stitch, sc in the next stitch, skip the third stitch; 4 sc into the 3-chain loop; 4 sc into the 8-chain loop, then chain 4 for the picot, and complete the loop with 4 sc; 4 sc into the final 3-chain loop. Repeat across the row.
  8. Finish off the ends.

Edging 4

Strip of airy crocheted lace on wooden table. Edging 4.
Edging 4

This edging measures 1 1/4 inches deep when made in size 10 thread.

  1. Make a foundation chain the length required. If you want to be perfect about it, make a chain in a multiple of thirteen stitches, plus one extra at the end.
  2. Chain 1, and turn. Work a single crochet (sc) in each stitch of the foundation chain.
  3. *Work a sc in the first stitch, chain 2; skip 3 stitches; 2 treble stitches in the next stitch, (chain 4, 2 treble stitches in the next stitch) twice; chain 2, skip 3 stitches, sc in next stitch. Repeat from * across the row.
  4. *2 sc in loop of 2 chains, chain 3, sc into next 2-chain loop, chain 4, sc under 4-chain, chain 4, sc under 4-chain, chain 4, sc in loop of 2 chains, chain 3. Repeat across the row from *.
  5. Work a sc in loop of 3-chain, *chain 3, sc in next loop, chain 4, treble stitch in next loop, chain 7. Make a slip stitch in the fifth stitch from your hook. This makes a picot. Chain 2, treble stitch in the same large loop as before, chain 4, sc in next loop, chain 3, sc in next loop, sc in next loop. Repeat from * across row.
  6. Finish off the ends.

Edging 5

Strip of
Edging 5

This edging measures 1 inch deep when made in size 10 thread.

  1. Make a foundation chain the length required. If you want to be perfect about it, make a chain in a multiple of three stitches, and then one more.
  2. Chain 1, and turn. Work a single crochet (sc) in each stitch of the foundation chain.
  3. Chain 4, and make a treble stitch in the first stitch, working off 2 stitches twice and leaving 2 stitches on your hook. Make another treble stitch in the same place, working off the stitches 3 at a time until you have three loops left. Pull through all three loops at once. You’ve just made a crochet cluster, which is the main part of this lace. *Chain 6, skip two stitches, and make a group of three treble stitches in the next stitch, working off as before. Repeat from * across the row. You should end with a cluster in the last stitch, or close to it.
  4. Chain 3; work a sc in loop of 6 chains. Repeat across the row.
  5. Chain 2, sc in loop of 3 chains; *Chain 6, sc in next loop. Repeat from * across row.
  6. Finish off the ends.

No matter how you decide to use these great vintage crochet edgings, they will make your creations vintage-authentic. And if you’re interested in more vintage crochet, check this blog post on 1950s Crocheted Glass Covers (Cozies).

Cooking Techniques · The Vintage Kitchen

Ten Uses for Your Kitchen Scissors

Vertical illustration of vegetables and meat. Top to bottom: celery, raw beef steak, cabbage, red bell pepper.

Almost everyone has a pair of kitchen scissors in the drawer. Some knife sets come with them. Maybe we always believed kitchen scissors were a must-have for any well-equipped kitchen. But do you use them? I’m guessing that you don’t. Or at least, that you don’t use those kitchen scissors to their fullest. These ten uses for your kitchen scissors take them out of the drawer and into your working arsenal.

And why don’t you use your kitchen scissors? I’ll tell you why I don’t use mine. I don’t think about it. I grab a knife, and a cutting board, and I set myself to a task. Even though, if I thought about it, said task would work better if I used the kitchen scissors. 

Using your kitchen scissors offers several advantages. First of all, they are easy to clean. Some pairs even come apart for even easier cleanup. Using the scissors saves washing both a knife and a cutting board. Also, you can snip the food right into wherever it needs to go. Scissors make working with small amounts of food less frustrating. And finally, you can determine the size and shape of the food more easily with scissors than you sometimes can with a knife.

With all that said, be careful! Anything with a point can cut, and some kitchen shears are sharper than others. I have one pair that barely has a point at all. This pair finds plastic bags difficult. I also have these, a pair of Henkels scissors that will cut through almost anything I need them to, kitchen-wise.

Ten Uses for Your Scissors

Horizontal illustration of vegetables. Left to right: celery leaves, a potato, turnip, beef steak, part of a cabbage.

Here are ten uses for your kitchen scissors. Although these ideas are from a vintage periodical, they still work for today’s cook. Whether you cook in a vintage kitchen or not.

  1. Shredding lettuce. If you are eating the lettuce right away, it’s not going to turn brown if you cut it with your scissors. You don’t have to tear it. Really. 
  2. Shredding parsley. You know all those recipes that call for 2 tablespoons of parsley? Using your kitchen scissors to snip it is the quickest way to get there.
  3. Dicing or cutting green peppers. Green peppers can be slippery. Especially when they are damp from rinsing. Use your kitchen scissors to cut those peppers into shape.
  4. Clipping the bad parts from greens or cabbage. It never fails that you get that one leaf that only has that one small spot. Right in the center. Your scissors make short work of it.
  5. Cutting raisins or nuts. You know when you need pecan pieces and you only have whole pecans? Try using the kitchen scissors to reduce them to the size you need. When the 1920s says “nuts” it means pecans or walnuts. Attempting to cut peanuts with kitchen shears will not only prove to be an exercise in frustration, it may also be dangerous. Stick to the flat nuts for safety.
  6. Dicing bacon slices. If you need crumbled or diced bacon for a dish, start out that way by cutting the slices with your kitchen scissors. Or use your scissors to cut the slices after they are cooked and cooled.
  7. Cutting candied orange peel, cherries, or citron for baking or decorating desserts.
  8. Cutting leftover meats. A nice pair of kitchen scissors makes short work of chicken salad prep.
  9. Snipping green onions. Often a recipe will call for only the white part –– or only the green part –– of a green onion. Scissors make this easy, and you can make those sections as long or as short as you like.
  10. Cutting potatoes and vegetables. Kitchen scissors can open a baked potato, trim green beans, and cut asparagus. I definitely wouldn’t try to cut one of our modern whopper-sized potatoes raw with a pair of kitchen scissors, but if the potatoes are boiled and you need to dice them, go for it. 

How do you use your kitchen shears? If you have a method not listed here, drop me a comment. I’d love to know more reasons for pulling the kitchen scissors from the drawer.

The Vintage Kitchen

Sweet and Savory Tea Sandwiches

Plate of sandwiches. Each sandwich is cut 1 inch by 4 inches, and they radiate out from the center of the plate.
Sweet sandwiches filled with flavored cream cheese or marmalade.

Sometimes you want to serve something unusual that doesn’t take three days to make. These Sweet and Savory Tea Sandwiches offer four options for quickly made, tasty sandwiches. Serve them at your next vintage-style small gathering or formal tea. And if you’ve never hosted a formal tea but always wanted to, these sandwiches will start you off.

Paging through a Twenties magazine one day, I came across the recipe for these sandwiches. It was only a paragraph, tucked into a longer article, but they intrigued me. I liked the idea of sandwiches that didn’t include watercress and cucumber! Plus, sweet sandwiches proved very popular in the Twenties. It was time I tried them myself.

Small chicken salad sandwiches arranged on a round plate.
Savory chicken salad sandwiches on home made dinner rolls. Yummy!

Warm Weather Sandwiches

Designed for warmer weather, these light tidbits are cool and easy to eat. You could certainly serve them in the dead of winter as well, but you might want to pair them with something heavy like chocolate brownies or a fluffy cake for dessert.

One of the things I liked best about these sandwiches was that they sounded easy. I don’t mind spending hours in the kitchen, but it’s nice to find those recipes that taste special but go together fast.

These Sweet and Savory Tea Sandwiches use cream cheese, a spicy pepper jelly, honey, and pecans –– not all together! Other sandwiches use marmalade as a filling. Then to balance out all that cream cheese you make simple chicken salad sandwiches served on dinner rolls as a savory option.

A stack of square sandwich bread slices nestled next to three small bowls of sandwich fillings. One bowl is white with brown specks, one is a light orange, and the third is a deep orange marmalade.
Three fillings ready to be made into tasty tea sandwiches.

Twenties Fast Food

Really, for as much time as the Twenties cook spent in the kitchen, these quick sandwiches are equivalent to fast food. I used a mix and made my own dinner rolls, since I need to eat gluten free. However, if I bought the rolls and the sandwich bread, I could throw these together for any party almost at a moment’s notice. 

My sandwich bread was pretty small, as gluten free bread tends to be, and I used about 1 ounce of cream cheese plus added flavors per sandwich. So from eight ounces of cream cheese and its mix-ins, plus 1/2 cup of marmalade, I could easily get a total of 9 sandwiches that I then cut into one-inch wide strips. Actually, since I was feeding only three of us, I made one of each type plus several chicken salad rolls. And I had plenty of the fillings left for another round.

If you use Parker-House size dinner rolls, you should be able to get six chicken sandwiches from the amounts I list in the recipe. If your dinner rolls are larger, you may want to double the recipe if you need half a dozen sandwiches.

A small bowl of chicken salad next to a plate of three dinner rolls.
Twenties chicken salad is very simple. Mixed and ready to fill those little rolls.

Assuming you plan to feed 3-6 people, I give you recipes that start with 1/2 cup of cream cheese or marmalade. After all, a party of two can be fun, but it’s a pretty small party. If you find that you have leftovers, they’re still tasty the next day. Store them in the refrigerator.

And if you want to add some 1952 munchies to your party, try the original Chex Mix Recipe. You can find it here.

Sweet and Savory Tea Sandwiches

Brighten your next gathering with these sweet and a little bit spicy tea sandwiches in three flavors.
Prep Time20 minutes
Total Time20 minutes
Course: Luncheon, Tea time
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 people
Author: VintageJenny


  • small bowl for mixing ingredients


  • 18 slices white bread
  • 6 small dinner rolls

Sweet and Spicy Pepper Filling

  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp hot pepper jelly or spread I used Meijer brand

Sweet Pecan and Honey Filling

  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 4 tbsp chopped pecans
  • 2 tbsp honey

Marmalade Filling

  • ½ cup orange marmalade

Savory Chicken Salad Filling

  • 1 chicken breast, cooked
  • 1 stalk celery
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise or more as you prefer
  • tsp salt
  • tsp pepper


  • Remove the crusts from the bread slices. It's easier to trim the crusts before you make the sandwiches. Then stack the slices in pairs so they match. (If you like, transfer the crusts to your favorite freezer container and freeze them. You can use them for croutons, bread pudding, or something else later.)
  • Slice the dinner rolls horizontally to make small sandwich buns. Set them aside.
  • To make the Sweet and Spicy Pepper Filling: Mix the cream cheese and the pepper spread/jelly in the bowl with a cooking spoon until completely combined. Spread the filling on three slices of bread, top with three slices, and set them aside. If you have any filling left, transfer it to a small container for the refrigerator. Wash your small mixing bowl.
  • To make the Sweet Pecan and Honey Filling: Mix the chopped pecans and honey with the cream cheese in the mixing bowl until completely combined. Spread the filling on three slices of bread, top with three slices, and set them aside. If you have any filling left, transfer it to a small container for the refrigerator. Wash your small mixing bowl.
  • To make the Marmalade Filling: Spread the marmalade on three slices of bread, top with three slices, and set them aside.
  • Refrigerate until you are ready to serve. Then cut each sandwich into 1-inch slices and arrange on a serving plate.

To Make the Chicken Salad Filling

  • Mince the cooked chicken breast. You should have about one to one and a half cups of minced chicken. Place the minced chicken in the mixing bowl.
  • Trim the celery and mince it. Add it to the chicken.
  • Stir in the mayonnaise.
  • Add the salt and pepper. You can add more or less than the amount listed, to taste.
  • Spread the chicken salad onto the lower half of the dinner roll, and top with its top half.
  • Refrigerate until you are ready to serve. These sandwiches are best assembled right before serving.
Poems from the Pages · The Magazine Rack

Poem: Hurdy-Gurdy Days

Spring days bring frolic after the quiet of winter.

In the Twenties and Thirties, almost every subscription magazine offered a monthly poem. Even periodicals devoted to only needlework printed editorials, letters from readers, and the obligatory poem of the month. I opened my May magazine from yesteryear and my eyes fell on the poem, Hurdy-Gurdy Days, by Martha Haskell Clark. And I realized I wanted to share it.

Then I wondered. Who was Martha Haskell Clark? Where did she live? What did she do? Here’s what I found out with a little poking around.

Martha Gay Haskell was born in 1885 in Minneapolis. Her father founded the Minneapolis Times, spent several years as publisher of the Boston Herald, and then six years as the vice president of the International Paper Company. Martha married a Dartmouth professor, Eugene Clark, in 1906. Her poetry appeared in Scribner’s, Good Housekeeping, and Ladies’ Home Journal. Sadly, she died in 1922 following an appendectomy. She was only about 36 years old. At her death she left a ten-year-old son.

But while she was alive, healthy, and full of life, she wrote poetry. Here is her poem Hurdy-Gurdy Days for your enjoyment.

Hurdy-Gurdy Days

by Martha H. Clark

April walks beside us still in budded cloak of brown,
   Primrose gold above the hill the lengthened sunsets burn; 
Every wind, a minstrel, goes singing through the town,
   For hurdy-gurdy days are here––and May is at the turn!

May is at the turning in a blur of hill-blue haze,
There's the hint of leaf-smoke drifting down the dingy city ways;
There's a flash of bluebird weather through a rift of rainy skies,
And the dawn of dreams remembered in a gray world's eyes.

A battered hurdy-gurdy at the corner of the street,
  Old tunes, forgotten tunes, and lilac breath and fern,
Where grimy venders' baskets spill their fragrance, haunting-sweet,
  And every day is yesterday––and Youth is at the turn!

May is at the turning like a Gipsy in the lane,
With leaf-mist at her girdle, and her brown hair pearled with rain;
There's the green of the new grass creeping up the roadways from the south,
And the curve of love and laughter on a gray world's mouth.

March ran whistling down the hill, the gamin of the year;
  April's but a child at school, with life and love to learn;
Sudden through the city-gray, riotous and dear,
  Hurdy-gurdies strum the dusk––and May is at the turn!

May is at the turning in a burst of tulip-flame,
With a spattering of cowslip gold to show the road she came;
There's a young moon's silver sickle-gleam through orchard-boughs astart,
And forgotten love-songs throbbing in a gray world's heart.

Not much of Clark’s poetry appears online to the general searcher. As far as I know, only one book of poetry, called The Home Road, exists. It was published two years after her death, and contains poems collected from the various publications they appeared in. It also contains a short biography that tells you more about Martha and reveals her personality and interests. You can find it at Google Books. If you download it to take a look, be sure to read To a Kitten, Red Geraniums, and Trains –– three very different types of poems from a gifted hearthside poet.

The Vintage Bookshelf · Vintage Entertainment

Among English Hedgerows Travelogue

A boy with a basket stands in the middle of the street in an English village. Next to him is a full cart of groceries and bags. Circa 1900, photo by Clifton Johnson.
A grocery boy stands with his cart, circa 1900.

This month I took a break from fiction and decided to dive into a book I’d heard about but never read. Among English Hedgerows, by Clifton Johnson, is a turn-of-the-century travelogue of the British byways. When I say turn of the century, I mean 1900. This book first saw publication in 1899, but it was republished through 1925 and perhaps beyond.

Clifton Johnson – Photographer, Writer, Artist

Cover of Among English Hedgerows, a travelogue by Clifton Johnson. Book is a faded green with red text and a simple red border.
Clifton Johnson wrote and provided the photography for Among English Hedgerows.

Its author, Clifton Johnson, was a photographer, writer, and illustrator. He wrote, edited, or illustrated more than 125 books in his lifetime, covering everything from children’s stories and folk tales to travel. Johnson was interested in people and their stories, and this is what shines through in the travelogue Among English Hedgerows. You meet the people he met along the way, and hear their stories.

To enhance the text, Johnson provides his own photography or illustrations. Among English Hedgerows includes only photographs scattered among his stories, but sometimes he included illustrations as well. Many of the chapters stand alone because they were first published in magazines like The New England Magazine, The Congregationalist, and The Outlook.

An old man sits reading the newspaper in an English cottage, next to a window with flowers growing in pots on the windowsill. Photo circa 1900 by Clifton Johnson.
A pensioner that Johnson met on his travels. This old guy was quite a character. Photo circa 1900.

Johnson takes us on a tour of England as it was, and he lets the people tell their own stories. How does a small town pensioner spend his days when he has nothing else to do? What does the daily schedule of a farmhand look like? What birds sing in the wood? He speaks of cricket and hotel visits, market days and mansions.

As both a photographer and a writer, Johnson brings to life the small village and the town inn (or pub). In describing traveling show caravans with their steam-powered merry-go-rounds and game booths, you want to see them yourself. He explores castles and manors, Stonehenge and churches.

Explore England with the Author

As we read his book from over 100 years on, a reader might find some of his observations intriguing. He writes of the change from oxen-drawn plows to horse-drawn plows. Then he mentions the noise created by the newfangled steam powered farm machinery. He also talks about the manpower necessary to make it go. “They are formidable affairs, and it takes five men to make a working crew.” (p.76).

Once in a while you may stumble across a passage or even a chapter that you find offensive or strange. For instance, Johnson spends an entire short chapter discussing his observations of “Gypsies.” For part of his description he relates what he has heard, but it seems that this colors his description of what he sees soon after. However, the chapter ends well. He follows a family for a bit and watches the children at play as they ride in the wagon or scamper along beside.

In a later chapter, however, Johnson provides an almost glowing description of a Traveler family who appear at a market day and sell rides to the local children. He even refers to their conveyance as a “travelling caravan.” Earlier he mentions that caravans often transport families who perform at fairs, which would make them Showman Travellers.

It’s worth noting, however, that Johnson repeats what he hears. His goal is to write down an oral history of a place, whether it is correct or not. At one point he talks to hand mowers –– men who cut hay with a scythe –– and they tell him that the day of machine grass cutters is over; more and more the hay will be cut by hand. A quick YouTube search will show you that such did not prove to be true.

Delights of the Village Fair

At one point Johnson finds himself at a festival. He says:

“But the great feature of the fair was the roundabouts or merry-go-rounds. About a dozen of them were in operation that day in Lincoln pleasure fair, and they were all as gaudy with red and gold as it was possible to make them. They ran by steam power, and the engine inside each roundabout had a steam organ attached, and every organ was piping away at a furious rate on a tune that was distressingly unlike the tunes of any of its rivals.”

Among English Hedgerows, Chapter XI.

By the time Johnson attended the fair in about 1900, steam-powered merry-go-rounds had been delighting English fair-goers for close to 40 years. However, reading it today, I was taken by this description. Imagine the noise! Between the sound of the steam engines, plus the various tunes played at once, and adding the crowd, this must have presented quite the scene.

Among English Hedgerows is a travelogue that leads you up and down the narrow lanes of English villages. It brings you into country kitchens and alongside farmers. Johnson reveals both the charm of their inhabitants as well as their sometimes narrow views.

Note: I did find mention of a suicide as I read the book. If this bothers you, skip the bottom of page 34 through page 38, and resume reading on page 39.

To read Among English Hedgerows for yourself, click here, which takes you to a Google Books version you can read or download.

If you prefer something quick and easy and fictional, take a look at this post I wrote about The Motor Maids School Days, one of my favorite vintage juvenile fiction reads ever.