Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Merry Christmas - and a Holiday Blog Break!

Dear friends,

I will be taking a break until January 4th, but look forward to catching up with you then.

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and happy holiday season!

Love and happiness,

Trish (and Abby, too!)

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Did You Know Tuesday: Aluminum Christmas Trees

Did you grow up with aluminum Christmas trees?  I didn't;  we had live trees when I was a little girl, and artificial (green) trees later due to allergies. I always thought the aluminum trees were pretty, though, and am glad they have become popular again during the last few years.

The Aluminum Specialty Company in Manitowoc, Wisconsin began manufacturing these trees in 1959.  The owner of the company had seen a store display aluminum tree the previous year, and decided to manufacture these beauties for the home market.  The company became Evergleam, and these trees originally sold for $25.00.   This is an ad for an Evergleam Frosty aluminum Christmas tree:

In the 1960's, these trees became very popular, available in various sizes, and prices went down because they were readily available.  They were available in silver, pink, teal, and flocked.  Do you remember the scene in A Charlie Brown Christmas when Lucy sends Charlie Brown out to buy a tree?  She tells him she wants a "big, shiny aluminum tree . . . maybe painted pink."

This silver tree sold for just $18.50 in a 1960's catalog:

There were also color wheels available to spin and illuminate the tree in changing colors.  The trees were often decorated with Shiny Brite ornaments, which were light enough not to crush or weigh down the branches.  Some trees rotated on a mechanical base, and others even had an element to play music.

This 1962 Spiegel catalog page features a color wheel, a silver tree, a flocked tree, and other tree accessories:

Aluminum trees were everywhere!  This ad is from Rexall drug store:

The trees became less popular by the late 1960's, and Evergleam stopped producing them in 1969.  Smaller companies followed suit by the early 1970's.

Aluminum Christmas trees have become popular again in recent years as the interest in atomic ranch homes and MCM (Mid-Century Modern) design has grown.  If I find one at a local estate sale or yard sale at some point, I may have to bring it home.

Do you remember aluminum Christmas trees?  Did you ever have one?   Do you like them, or do you prefer a traditional green Christmas tree?   I'd love to hear from you in the comments, below.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Music Monday - "Silver Bells" by Bing Crosby and Carol Richards (1950)

"Silver Bells" is one of my favorite Christmas songs.  I love old fashioned holiday music;  it always evokes so many memories.  When I was growing up, my parents had lots of Christmas albums, and getting them out each year to listen always put me in the mood for the holidays.   This is one of those songs that I always loved.  I've always thought of it as such a quintessential Mid-Century Christmas song. 

I love the way the lyrics capture the feeling of Christmas in a city:

"City sidewalks, busy sidewalks.
Dressed in holiday style
In the air there's a feeling of Christmas"


"Strings of streetlights
Even stop lights
Blink a bright red and green
As the shoppers rush
Home with their treasures."

"Silver Bells" was written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans.  It was originally called "Tinkle Bells" until Ray Evans played the song for his wife, who reminded him of the childhood use of the word "tinkle."  The title was quickly changed to "silver."

The most famous version of the song was recorded by Bing Crosby and Carol Richards on Decca Records in 1950.  Carol Richards was a singer who also dubbed songs for actresses in several movies, including Vera Ellen (Call Me Madam) and Cyd Charisse (Brigadoon, Silk Stockings).   Bing Crosby's voice always just reminds me of Christmas -- he is so associated with the holiday because of his wonderful Christmas songs.

Do you have any special memories of this song?  What are some of your favorite Christmas songs?  I'd love to hear from you in the comments, below.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Weekend Window Shopping at Birdhouse Books - Old Cards, New Books

Hi all!

Happy weekend!   This will be my last Weekend Window Shopping post of 2015.   I'll pick back up in the New Year.

In the meantime, I wanted to give you a head's up -- watch my online stores the next two weeks.  I have great listings scheduled to start over the weeks of Christmas and New Year's, and some wonderful markdown sales as well.

You can find my vintage children's books, whimsical cards, and much more online:

Birdhouse Books on eBay
Birdhouse Books on Etsy
Birdhouse Books on Bonanza

I have some nice vintage cards and new books (novels and children's books) on eBay this week.  You will find a few glimpses below.

This is a beautiful 1939 Sunday School Junior Certificate of Promotion.

This little baby announcement is adorable, with charming illustrations on the front and inside of card.

These Mid-Century old store stock cards are perfect for announcing a new address.

A little kitten plays on the piano keys on this card.

Anna's Crossing is an Amish novel by Suzanne Woods Fisher.

A Reluctant Bride is an Amish novel by Kathleen Fuller.

If You Were Me and Lived in China is a wonderful picture book for preschool age children -- great for a study unit.

The Tears of Dark Water is a mystery by Corban Addison.

M is for Manger is a lovely picture book for young children.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Dear Abby: My Christmas Wish List

Dear Friends,

I hope you are having a wonderful holiday season!  We will be busy with the holidays the next couple of Fridays, so I wanted to pop in and share my Christmas list with you.

I wish for more afternoon naps, ideally with Momma joining me.  Afternoon naps are just about as good as treats.

I wish for neighborhood fireworks to become suddenly illegal and never be used in the area near my home again.  Ever.

Ditto thunder. No more thunder.

I wish for peanut butter spread in Kongs.

I wish for lots of sunny days and very few rainy days.

I wish for the joy of burrowing in warm blankets.

I wish for everyone who wants to add a puppy or dog to their family to adopt instead of shopping.  There are so many wonderful dogs in shelters and foster homes and animal rescues ... and they are looking for forever homes.

I also wish that people adopting dogs would remember that dogs who are seniors and dogs with special needs also need loving homes ... and they have a lot of love to give.

Oh!  And mixed breed dogs like me.  A dog does not need to be a purebred to be pure of heart.  I wish for them all to find great forever homes.

Other than that I wish for yummy treats, soft toys to cuddle, and extra long walks in the New Year.

And I wish the happiest of holidays to you and yours!

With lots of love,

Abby xoxoxo

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Throwback Thursday - Vintage Christmas Baking Ads

If you read my blog often, you will know that I spend way too much time at Pinterest!  I love that site.  I am forever seeking - and finding! - great vintage images there.

I wanted to share a few fun vintage Christmas ads with you today.  They all feature retro baking.   Since I love all things vintage, retro food photos, and baking, these are terrific fun.

This ad features a Durkee's Candy Cane Cake (1956).  It's coconut, so I am predisposed to love it.

This 1941 Pillsbury ad features Frosted Christmas cookies:

Okay, I am now ready to go look for Durkee's Coconut (does this product still exist?!).   This 1950's ad features a Snowman Cake:

This Crisco ad features Christmas Cookies (and they look delicious!).

More Christmas cookies, from Gold Medal Flour -- bell and Christmas tree shape cookies.

Do you enjoy vintage food ads?  Have you ever tried a recipe from an old ad like one of these?   I'd love to hear from you in the comments, below.

Book Review and Giveaway - I Love My Pet Elephant by Lauren Micchelli

Book Description for I Love My Elephant:
A colorful tale of friendship and fun between a little girl and her best friend - her pet elephant!

I Love My Pet Elephant is a delightful medley of reality and fantasy, with shenanigans and adventures brought to life through vibrant illustration and simple rhyming text.

Buy I Love My Pet Elephant here:
Barnes & Noble 

Other Books by Lauren Micchelli:
A Day of What Ifs:
A unique book filled with quirky scenarios and colorful pictures. A twist on the ordinary, this story touches the imagination with an entertaining assortment of "what if" possibilities! (ages 3-6)

The Snootzytime Adventures of Maddie & Murphy: A Christmas Journey to the North Pole
The first book of the Maddie and Murphy series. Maddie's dreams take her on different nighttime adventures. Accompanied by her dog, Murphy, Maddie finds herself where no child has gone before - the North Pole! (ages 4-8)

The Snootzytime Adventures of Maddie & Murphy:
To the Moon and Back Maddie gazes out her window at the night sky. As bedtime nears, Mom tells Maddie a secret - that a wish on a star could really come true! An excited Maddie makes her wish - to go to the moon! What unfolds is so much more! (ages 4-8)

Buy Lauren Micchelli's books on Amazon 

Book Review:
I Love My Pet Elephant is such a sweet picture book for young children. It tells the story of a little girl who has a special best friend -- an elephant.

The story is told in rhyme, and it is lively with a gentle humor. Children are sure to enjoy lines like:

"He has giant ears
That are floppy and grey
When he flaps them too quickly
He flies up and away!"

The book is formatted perfectly for a read aloud, with a picture and then a short rhyme on the facing page. The big, bold illustrations by Thomas Barnett add a lot to the story. The elephant has so many cute facial expressions!

I recommend this book for a home collection or preschool library. It is a story that young children will want to read again and again.

Author's Bio:
Lauren Micchelli is a newly published author, having penned her first book in 2014. She has since continued the Snootzytime Adventures of Maddie and Murphy series, and went on to publish A Day Of What Ifs and I Love My Pet Elephant.

Impressively, she was the recipient of New Book Award 2015 for I Love My Pet Elephant.

​Lauren Micchelli grew up in West Caldwell, New Jersey and currently resides in northern New Jersey.

Connect with the author:

Prizes: Win 1 of 5 print copies or 3 ebook copies (Apple) of I Love My Pet Elephant & 2 X $15 Amazon gift cards (10 prizes total) (USA & Canada)

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I received this book from iRead Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Did You Know Tuesday - Shiny-Brite Ornaments

Shiny-Brite ornaments are a perfect example of Mid-Century Christmas decorations.  The great ad, above, is from 1966.  

These ornaments date back a little earlier, though.  The first Shiny-Brite ornaments were made in 1937 by Max Eckhardt.  He worked with the Corning Glass Company to produce them.  These ornaments were originally sold at Woolworth dime stores.

Shiny-Brites were popular during the 1940's - World War II vintage - because they were American made.  The 1940's box top featured Santa Claus shaking hands with Uncle Sam.

The ornaments were originally manufactured in New Jersey.  They were sprayed inside with silver nitrate and then they were lacquered so they truly had a shiny and bright appearance!

Not all vintage glass ornaments are Shiny-Brites.  You will recognize them by the Shiny Brite name on the metal ornament capper.  During World War II this capper was made of cardboard because of war time manufacturing restrictions.

Here is a glimpse of a 1950's box of Shiny-Brites:

This 1956 Sears catalog page features Shiny-Brites galore.  The variety of designs was fabulous -- balls, tear drop shapes, bell shapes, indents, birds, and more!

The company stopped production in the 1970's.  However, in recent years Christopher Radko has started producing Shiny-Brite ornaments, and his selection is always lovely.

Do you remember Shiny-Brite ornaments?  Were there any of these beauties on your childhood Christmas tree?  I would love to hear from you in the comments, below.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Music Monday - Someday at Christmas by Stevie Wonder (1967)

Regular readers here will know that I am a huge Motown fan, and especially love Stevie Wonder's voice.   I'm sure it will be no surprise that "Someday at Christmas" by Stevie Wonder is one of my favorite Christmas songs.  It is just so beautiful - his voice gives me chills.  It is also a moving wish for peace at Christmas time.  This song was originally released in 1967 on the Someday at Christmas album.

You have probably seen the recent commercial, as well, for Apple products.  It features Stevie Wonder singing this song with Andra Day, and it is a lovely rendition.

Do you remember this song? Or do you have other Christmas favorites from Motown? I'd love to hear from you in the comments, below.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Weekend Window Shopping at Birdhouse Books - Vintage Christmas Cards

Hi all!

I added many vintage Christmas cards to my store this week.  You will find them at Birdhouse Books.

Just a few photos to give you a peek!

This Mid-Century vintage Christmas card features a fabulous chandelier.

 This Mid-Century vintage Christmas card features a gold embossed Christmas tree against a red background.

 This 1960's vintage Christmas Card - "To My Husband" - has a felt tree with sequin trim.

This cute 1950's vintage Christmas card features two honeycomb design red bells.

What a cute 1940's to 1950's vintage Christmas card!  It says "Mr. and Mrs." in bright holiday designs.

 I love this vintage Christmas card!  It has pictures of an old fashioned couple outside of a theater.  Look who is going into the theater - it's Santa Claus!

I hope you enjoyed seeing these fun vintage Christmas cards.  Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Dear Abby - Vintage Christmas Dachshunds

Dear Friends,

I have enjoyed looking at vintage Christmas images on Pinterest lately.  I especially love vintage dog pictures.  I've found some wonderful Christmas pictures that I thought you would enjoy as well.

The dachshund on this vintage Christmas card  has a candy cane and presents!

This little dachshund is helping her person play records.  Fun!

The dachshund on this Christmas card is going for a walk with her person -- they even have matching red coats. 

This looks like Christmas morning, with a mother, daughter, and red dachshund.  The tinsel on that tree looks like fun to play with!

The dachshund on this 1960 Calling All Girls magazine cover is helping her person dress up as Santa.

This dachshund looks very excited about his present!   This is another Calling All Girls cover (1961).

This Calling All Girls magazine cover features a dachshund who is about to wake up to a tiny tree and presents.

This Calling All Girls magazine features another Santa dress up picture.  The dachshund is helping again!

I hope you enjoyed these images.  Which is your favorite?  I like them all, but have a special fondness for the Calling All Girls picture with the tiny tree and presents.

I hope you have a wonderful day -- and wishing you a very happy holiday season!


Abby xoxoxo

Book Review: The Knights Before Christmas by Joan Holub

Book Description:
'Twas December 24th, and three brave knights were just settling in for the night when out on the drawbridge, there arose such a clatter! The knights try everything to get rid of this unknown invader (Santa Claus!), a red and white knight with a fleet of dragons . . .
But nothing would stop
 their white-whiskered foe.
 No matter their efforts,
 he just would not go!
This parody of Clement Clarke Moore's well-known poem 'Twas the Night Before Christmas is kid-friendly, clever, and just plain silly.  Sure to become a holiday classic of a different kind!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million

Goodreads | Indiebound | iBook | Kobo

My Review:
I am a fan of Joan Holub's books for children.  They are told with such good humor and such clever word play.  I knew The Knights Before Christmas would be another fun book for children, and it is!

This book is a parody of The Night Before Christmas, set in a medieval castle with knights.  It is bright and colorful, with great illustrations by Scott Magoon.

The humor is fresh and breezy.  What a fun book for a home or classroom read aloud! 

To give an example of the humor:

"Silent Knight, in his nightie and iron-armored cap, was just settling in for a long winter's nap."  There is an illustration of the knight dreaming:  "I'm dreaming of a white javelin, just like the one I used to throw."

I enthusiastically recommend this cute and clever children's book for your Christmas collection.    

About the Author:
Joan Holub is the author of 140+ books for children including the acclaimed picture books Little Red Writing, The Knights Before Christmas, and Mighty Dads, a New York Times bestseller. Joan co-authors (with Suzanne Williams) three series: Goddess Girls (ages 8-12, Greek mythology with a middle school twist), Grimmtastic Girls (for ages 8-12, fairy tale adventure with a middle school twist), and Heroes in Training (ages 6-11, Greek mythology adventure chapter books). Watch for her upcoming chapter book, What Was Woodstock?, and her board book, This Little President, both available in early 2016!

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I received a copy of this book from Mother Daughter Book Reviews in exchange for an honest review.