Thursday, 30 January 2014

My Latest Weird Thing

When I bought my house back in 1996, only one of the bedrooms had a closet. I initially used that room (we call it the 'East Wing') but eventually switched over to the West Wing to avoid the morning sun. That room had no closets. Over time we acquired a couple of old wardrobes. My Victorian wardrobe I bought at an antique shop; Bill's was given to us when he helped a friend move and the friend didn't want it anymore. 

I love that my wardrobe has labels for 'gloves', 'hats' and 'underlinens', not that I necessarily use the shelves as labelled. The left side for hanging clothes has a rail that comes out if needed, but I tend to wear what is in the front and then put it at the back if it can be worn again.  I've been aware for a while that I never remember to wear pullover sweaters that are folded on a shelf, but hanger space was getting tight and it didn't seem feasible to add them.  Then I had an idea.

Some skirt hangers have little hooks that allow hanging another hanger or something off the rail. Most my hangers don't have this, but I thought that if I put my outfits together and suspended them off one hanger I could use more of the middle and lower space between garments and shoes. I suppose I could have gone out and bought something to address this but that goes against my nature. I think it's way more fun to figure out a free solution.

So instead I went into the sewing room and found some scraps of fabric, in this case t-shirt fabric, and tied them into small rings. Those served the purpose of a 'hook'. Then I put together six or seven outfits (top, bottom and a cover - a sweater or jacket). Now when I want to get dressed, I just pull out what is in front and it has all the pieces together ready to go.

And hanging those sweaters?  They go on over the 'shoulders' of a 'secondary' hanger like shown here. (Not like in my photo where the sweater is on the hanger and not even straight at that...what can I say? I don't do perfect.)

I have been 'scare crowing' of late; that is, wearing old clothes around the house rather than 'going out' clothes. Rhonda at Down to Earth called it this and I liked the term. I'm happy wearing the same thing most days until they are ready for the laundry. My main aim is to be warm and comfortable. So that, along with the fact that I don't go anywhere several days of the week, means that those have dozen outfits last me at least a couple of weeks. 

How is it that I can love clothes, but not want to be fussed about what to wear?

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Handmade Christmas

Can't believe January is nearly over.  Can't believe I've not said anything about my handmade Christmas gifts.  Can't believe I didn't take photographs of some of them.  Never mind, here goes.

This year I resolved to use the very wide velveteen ribbon that was in my Aunt Rita's stash.  I've had three enormous rolls for going on seven years now and I thought it high time to use them or lose them.  I bought rolls of brown paper from Wilkinson's (sort of like a five-and-dime, though these days it's more like 'dollar' or 'pound' shops, eh?) for £1.  I used this Youtube video on making 'pom pom' bows (I've never called them that, but there you are).  My mom used to do this all the time - she never bought pre-made bows and I remembered bits but not altogether how she did it. The huge advantage of this method is that you control the size of the bow.  If you're making 30-40 in a row (like I did), be careful you don't get tired and try to cut your finger off (like I did).

For the ladies on my list, I made Criss-Cross Coasters.  A half-dozen each.  Times five.  That's 480 squares to cut out.

For Helen; the backs were all the lighter solid purple.

For Sarah. The backs were some Australian fabric
brought over by her Aunt Jane, as in upper right;.

For Lucy.

 My eyes were a bit criss-crossed by the time I finished, but they were still great fun to make.  

For Jules; the backs were all floral as in the upper left corner.

I thought hard about what colours to make for each person and I think this was what made it fun. Instructions can be found here.  I used the tip of having a chop stick on hand to help turn the corners, which was fun in itself.  

For Vivien, who gave me the green striped curtains.  

I was annoyed not to have remembered this tip about sewing sharp corners until I was doing the very last set.

It seems counter-intuitive to me, but making a diagonal stitch across the corner makes it turn out into a sharper point. Go figure.

For several other people on my list, mostly people in the States, I bought hot water bottles and made covers for them.  I ended up drafting my own pattern by tracing around the bottle for one side and adding a seam allowance all the way around.  I extended the top a few more inches so it could fold down and be buttoned. Then I copied that pattern and extended the bottom so it could be folded up.  I wanted it to be possible to easily remove the hot water bottle, but also for this not to be necessary in order to fill it with water.  I typed up safety and other tips (don't use boiling water; don't fill it, but do squeeze out the air before screwing on the top; virtually every British household has one of these things. )

I chose velvets and brocades to make the covers.  I had great fun choosing interesting buttons.  I only used one button per cover and I crocheted loops in colour-coordinated yarns and stitched those to the top and bottom to hold it all closed.  I thought they looked quite elegant, but forgot to photograph them before sending them off to the US.  Oh well.

Did you make any of your gifts for Christmas?

Monday, 27 January 2014

Jack's Fish Paste a Success!

I was telling the ladies at the WI craft group the other night about my fish pate meal.  It was confusing because of them had brought a delicious pate made with crab and salmon to the Christmas party. What I meant to tell about was fish paste, which Brits seem to think is altogether a different kettle of fish (sorry, couldn't resist).  The thing is, I'm not sure what is the difference between pate and paste, other than the fact that the latter is incredibly cheap (£4.27/kg or $1.94 a lb.) and made up of a half dozen or so types of fish. Well mine was; you can buy species-specific pastes, too. In fact, Wikipedia defines pate as a 'spreadable paste', so I'm going to stick my neck out and say they are the same.

Except that when you call it 'pate' (even better with the accent mark if you can bother), it sounds posh. When I told Bill we were having 'fish paste' for dinner, his face fell.  It seems that 'back in the day' working class men found this stuff made into sandwiches on Thursdays, that being the day before payday and the cupboard being bare of all else.  When Bill protested, I explained he wasn't getting a sandwich, but pasta with a creamy sauce that tasted of fish, at least that's how I thought it would turn out.

And it did.

And we both liked it. 

Jack's recipe is here. I cheated and used a whole onion, a small sprinkle of chili powder and a squirt of oil.  Her 'elusive' search bar is at the bottom of each post. If you put your ingredients in there you might be amazed at what she comes up with.

Have you tried anything new in the kitchen lately?

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Gelatin Flowers

My Thursday night craft group is amazing.  The ideas that people have are seemingly endless.  I've only seen one outside speaker (and I wasn't impressed, myself); it is usually one person or another leading the group to show what they know how to make.  I did a session once on my Grandma's style of covered hangers and at least one person used it to make her Christmas gifts, which tickled me no end.  

An exciting thing we did in the craft group recently was to make gelatin flowers.  I wasn't that keen, they sounded a bit icky, but boy did I change my mind.  They were really fun to make and even my very flawed outcome was still quite striking - far better than I expected.

To start we were give little teardrop shaped pieces, that looked like tiny cookie cutters, in large, medium and small sizes; also several lengths of paper covered wire that comes from a cake decorator's shop.  Florist wire is too thick.  The wires were cut into thirds to make petals and leaves.

We made petals and leaves by wrapping the wires around each teardrop and twisting the wire shut underneath:  petals were formed using the rounded end at the top and then inserting a pen to elongate them slightly; leaves were formed using the pointed end at the top and then squeezing the point just slightly to make it more leaf-like.

Small flowers were made by wrapping one end of a full length wire around a pencil five times, squishing those loops together and securing them by running the other end of the wire through the ring a couple of times and pulling it tight.  Each loop was then separated (finger nails are helpful here) and twisted into a flower like shape.  The end of a pencil pressed into the middle of the petals caused a cupping effect that was just lovely.

Just the wire work was really great fun, so simple and yet the results were very delicate.  I started getting enthusiastic about this point.

Then we mixed food colouring in cold water (4 TBS), playing with colours, adding a pearlising powder if we wished or icing whitener to make the colour opaque (also from cake decorating).  Then we added gelatin, just sprinkling and pressing it in, careful not to stir and create bubbles.  The small tub of coloured gelatin was then placed into a bowl of very hot water to make it more liquid.

Each of the wire shapes was then dipped into various coloured tubs of gelatin, shaking off the extra liquid or touching it to wet paper towels to absorb the blob that formed at the end.  Terrible results were easily fixed by rinsing in hot water and starting over.  The wires were then stuck into 'oasis' - that weird florist foam that turns to dust if you're not careful.  They had to dry for 24 hours.

The next time we met, Maureen - who used to work in a cake shop as a decorator - showed us how to use narrow tape to wrap each of the wires, twiddling (a technical term she gave us) the wires to help the wrapping process.  The tape was magic:  dark green and non-sticky on the roll, lighter green and very sticky after been stretched.  It was also easily torn, like paper / surgical tape.

She gave us round beads and long beads to put on other pieces of wire and a supporting wire to help put it all together.  When every thing was taped to within a millimeter of its life, she showed us how to use slightly wider tape and to form the flowers, combine the leaves and then put the whole thing together with the beaded stems,  bending the petals slightly, or the whole stem to make them all fit into a nice shape.

Bill had watched me dip the white petals at home, as I had run out of time at the craft group.  He thought it all looked a bit silly, and it did, but he completely changed his mind when I brought home the finished article.

Far from perfect, but still quite pleasing.

I doubt I have the eye to create anything original or spectacular, but for someone who did I could see how a centre-piece that coordinated with a person's colour scheme could be quite welcome.  Maureen had two lovely poinsettia looking arrangements draped around a large candle on a plate.  She's made corsages and boutonnierres(had to look that up) for weddings, too.

If you get the opportunity to make gelatin flowers, I would recommend you leap at it!

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Use It Up Month

January in our house always seems to be a use-it-up month. After all the food buying around Thanksgiving and Christmas we usually still have a couple of very full freezers. I'm in extra frugal mode this month for several reasons:  just got an enormous repair bill (over a year of rent) on my rental house in Salt Lake City; we got planning permission to build a downstairs loo; we're in the process of purchasing another motor home, having sold our first one last summer.  This sort of out-go is well beyond anything I've ever experienced. We're probably OK, but I find that I'm feeling a bit of practically beside myself with stress at the moment.

Whilst some frugal habits are still ingrained - most clothes from thrift stores, eat at home, my house robe is 36 years old, I have drifted from tightwad thinking a bit.  So I'm stepping back into old ways:

Use it Up
If I go to the store hungry I risk coming back with unusual things like instant puddings or nuts we don't normally eat. These get pushed to the back of the cupboard, forgotten until the next frugal initiative. Actually, pudding and nuts are the happy surprises.  Others include pickled beetroot, some sort of white pepper gravy mix from Oklahoma (a gift when we visited, not hoarded for 23 years) and three kinds of flour I'm not sure how to use without some research.  

List vs Bulk
Instead of buying in bulk I've been shopping with a list. Only when we get low on a critical item like milk or toilet paper do I go shopping.  I buy singles of things like condiments but two or three of basic items to save a trip or two.  I still stock up on UHT milk and get the largest package of TP.  This lets me shop only once or twice a month. I'd like to get back to buying in bulk: a full pantry is my definition of personal food security. To do that I am working on updating my price book.

Price Book
I've listed all the supermarkets in our area and calculated the distance to each.  Our closest market, Morrisons, is less than a mile away, but their labels are misleading; no matter how careful I still get caught out with the wrong item now and then.  As much as is practical, I try to take my business elsewhere.  There is a cluster of bargain shops a mile away, but as always, not everything there is a bargain.  Therein lies the value of a price book.  I know the best fresh fruit and veg prices are 8 miles away in Seaton Delaval and the fish quay is less than half a mile from home.  By shopping at a different store each time I can learn again what constitutes a bargain or even just a reasonable price.  I don't go to every place each time I shop, unless they are directly en route. I wouldn't wish to waste the fuel or my time like that.  

Though I bought what was on the list the other day, I started thinking I could make different choices.  Instead of buying more yeast and strong white flour to make bread, we've been meaning for ages to try making soda bread. Since we have plenty of oatmeal on hand, we could have porridge (oatmeal) for breakfast.  That would also save buying more margarine and low-sugar marmalade.  I would try making marmalade, but I've never seen Seville oranges and doubt it would be economical anyhow.

Instead of buying more milk, we could break into those two containers of powdered milk.  No idea if they are still any good, but if they aren't we could trash them.  Makes no sense to keep them if they aren't still good and the longer we keep them more more likely this is.  Both really obvious ideas but because I readily dismiss use by dates on certain foods (OK, on most foods, but with more caution in some cases) they catch me up now and then.  I can handle using powdered milk as I did in Utah, but sadly here in the UK it is no cheaper.  

When tablet sweeteners were on sale for £1 a dispenser, I bought 5 or 6.  All but the one in my purse is not empty, but there is still a jar of loose Canderel that isn't as easy to use, just waiting to be consumed.  After that there is a container of odd packets of condiments collected from here and there, with at least a few servings of sweetener.  I would substitute sugar for sweetener except that my stomach doesn't tolerate more than a couple of teaspoons a day.  The consequences are sufficiently severe that I'd rather go without than eat sugar.  Fortunately, I have no strong preferences about my tea.

We have a lot of tea around, but we both prefer coffee.  We're down to two cups of instant coffee before switching to decaf; Bill loves strong coffee but his heart does not.  Tea is much cheaper and has less caffeine, but too much upsets my stomach (I must have a very tender tummy), even with milk added.  I have some herbal stuff and when that's gone I could experiment with other 'tisanes', starting with the rosemary and lavender I have in my garden. Becoming au fait with the difference between an infusion and a decoction sounds quite witchy, mysterious and altogether fun, even though I tend to joke that a lot of this stuff is just dirty water.  I have, when really cold and thirsty, appreciated just a cup of hot water. In fact I find that I prefer whatever it is I'm most familiar with drinking.  

The price of tinned salmon has doubled in the last few years. I don't think even tuna is cheap any more.  A Girl Called Jack has inspired me to see that it's like to cook with fish paste.  I also have a tin of pilchards waiting for me to work up the nerve to 'pattify' them, as suggested by The Tightwad Gazette.  Tinned mackerel and sardines are other options.

Jack also opened my eyes to tinned potatoes.  We can get four servings from a 14 pence tin from Sainburys.  We make our own soups and prefer fresh fruit and veg, so there are whole areas of supermarkets I've not explored for a while.  I plan to make a list of the generic items for the main supermarkets near us and reconsider some choices.  For example, a tin of tomato soup is 24p compared to a tin of tomatoes at 34p. Passatta brands come and go, but it might be worth comparing the three tomato products. Good fresh tomatoes are never cheap here; bad ones are worthless to me. I'd rather eat tinned tomatoes than tasteless ones.

Free Foods
I finished off the blackberries in the freezer, but still have a lot of sloes and elderberries.  The latter are poisonous uncooked and so I'll need to be careful.  I can buy jam I'm happy with for far less than the sugar to make preserves, so it looks like these free foods will be for recreational beverages, currently a low priority.  On the other hand, I still have a bag or two of the apples Vivien gave me this summer (Thanks again, Vivien!).  Apple pie and spice cake come to mind.  Also fruit smoothies for breakfast and possibly dessert, but I'll have to experiment with that.

Not Just Food
I have two packages of hair colour I'm not that thrilled about. One is a darker ash blonde than my current colour, the other a strawberry blonde my hairdresser recommended (She comes to my house and only charges me £15 for a cut; she understands my tightwaddery well).  I've used the darker ash blonde and put in the usual streaks.  I now have 'frosted' hair, if any one remembers back to when that was popular.  I can live with it.  I may save the strawberry for when we go away next, in case I don't want to be seen!

Is your January a use-it-up month?  Or does the first month of the year have other significance for you?

Friday, 17 January 2014

Glad It's Today

Yesterday was truly awful. You know it's a terrible day when your dentist appointment turns out to have been the high point.  At least I have healthy teeth and I finally seem to have found a dentist I like. He actually performed a check up, a scale and a polish.  And then he thanked me for taking good care of my teeth, saying it was nice to see that for a change.  

Just before going in, I'd got a receipt from a parking machine to display in the car window for an hour and a half.  I was perplexed by the date on the receipt and began to convince myself I'd gone in on the wrong day.  All the receipts along that road had the 14th instead of the 16th and I thought it very peculiar.  So I went into the library - it being run by the same people who do parking meters, the local authority - and reported this.  They didn't seem to feel it was their problem, but she lifted to phone to call upstairs to customer service so I could get on to my appointment.

When I was done at the dentist I went back to the library to make sure this was reported.  The man at the library front desk couldn't tell me anything.  I went upstairs and told the lady at the reception of customer service, but all she could tell me was to take a number and wait to be seen by the proper person.  It would be 15 minutes so I thought I could return some books and lighten my back pack.  

The lady at the upstairs library desk said there were only machines on that floor for checking out.  I would need to return to the ground floor for checking-in machines.  She could only help me if those machines were busy.  As I headed for the stairs I mumbled 'useless people!'  When I returned up the stairs I went to look for something to read to pass the waiting time.  The lady who'd sent me downstairs directed another person to the shelves I was perusing and she apologized that she hadn't taken my books for me. I thanked her.

I found a book, took a seat and waited to see a customer service rep.  I explained that the parking meter on the north side of the road had the wrong date:  every car along that side of the square had receipts for the 14th.  On the east side, the receipts had the correct date, the 16th.  My complaint was logged, she phoned the parking people as I sat there. She told me that if I did have a ticket to bring it straight back up and she'd take care of it.  By the time that was all done I didn't have enough time left on the meter to do anything else useful and so I drove up to Seaton Delaval to do grocery shopping.  

I went to three stores, first to one 8 miles away (where I managed to drop some eggs and break them) and then on to two other stores on the way home.  I had two near misses, one car seemed determined to side swipe me and some man stepped straight out in front of me in the car park, never even looking. Fortunately I was creeping along trying to decide where to put the car in this unfamiliar car park. I had little luck with the self-service check out machine.  Road works made the route home a maze to squiggle through.  I was trashed by the time I got home and unloaded the car.

When I went in, Bill was at the kitchen table eating his lunch. He apologized for not helping with the groceries but said he had a headache.  He had re-organised some things on the overhead shelves in his office.  The weight distribution was wrong apparently and the shelves came down on his head. Not directly I gather, but one shelf onto another and all the contents sliding off onto his head and shoulders and on to the floor around him.  He was just grateful his new computer hadn't been damaged.  I worried that he might have a concussion but he was sure he didn't and there was no blood anywhere.  He took the car keys off me and was going to a DIY shop to get supplies to fix his shelves.  

He came straight back in, grinning.  He said 'I know I shouldn't but I can't resist'.  He handed me the parking receipt and pointed out the time and date:  09:55 16 Jan 14. The right date after all.  I wasted all that time and effort to sort out a problem and all along it was me being dippy.  I did tell the clerk that 'when I saw the date was the 14th I thought I'd lost my mind'.  Well, it turns out that I actually had...

My only excuse is that stress makes me stupid. I'm sure I'm not the first idiot they've seen in that office.  I only wish I hadn't insisted on leaving my name and address so that they could make an official record of my foolishness.   

Did you ever have one of those experiences that makes you doubt your own mental faculties?

Friday, 10 January 2014

This Year's Stack - Part II

Right, this is the slightly more light-hearted end of the books I got for Christmas.

Affordable Spendour, by Diana Phipps.  I've already read this cover to cover - I read the fluff first, you'll note.  It wasn't on my wishlist, Bill just found it on Amazon when shopping for others I did request, and I'm so glad he did!  It practically qualifies as another Harry Potter book, it's so completely fun and unexpected.  It is a detailed 'how to' decorate your house in very grand fashion but on a shoe-string, Amy Dacyczyn style.  What Phipps didn't have photographs of, she drew charming sketches to illustrate, just like Dacyczyn, a graphic artist.  I don't know if anyone these days would cover their walls in fabric, though Phipps says it's more economic in the long run than paint, particularly in older houses. Other tips include how to paint surfaces to make them look like various types of wood, how to make concrete blocks look like ceramic tiles and so on.  This woman has had an interesting life, born Countess Sternberg, living her 'formative years' in a castle in Czechoslovakia (now in the Czech Republic) to which she has returned thanks to the post-communist government's restoration programme. Her marriage into a wealthy American family in 1957 was short-lived. I'm reminded that, after all, if a life has only 'ups' and no 'downs', it can hardly be called 'interesting', can it? Makes me think all her hard work is all the more admirable.  It sounds as though her mother (also a Countess) was equally as artistic.  Thanks to a link at the Frugal Scholar (who also likes Phipps' books), you can see what her London living room looked like.  

Cute and Easy Crochet by Nicki Trench and Maria Clayton.  My friend Lucy owns this book, but I didn't figure I wanted to borrow it long enough to do any of the projects.  I'll probably regret this selection - the projects in this sort of book get dated quite soon - but at least I didn't pay for it!  If I actually make anything out of here, I'll be sure to let you know!

Material World:  the Modern Craft Bible,  by Perri Lewis.  I think I got the idea for this book when browsing a book shop in Cockermouth last year. Given that there are a couple of craft groups I attend and contribute to, anything else I can learn and share will be brilliant, a way to give back to all those lovely women who enrich my life. Looking at the Table of Contents on (because I did an 81 minute run this morning and I can't face another trip up the stairs just now) I can tell you what crafts are in it.  I already know quite a bit about: Embroidery - Cross-stitch - Macrame. I know a tiny bit about Patchwork and even less about Tailoring or Jewellery making. I've never gone near Decoupage - Printing - Encrusting (gluing stuff on, I think) - Quilling - Millinery - Embellishments - Paper cutting - Leatherwork - Applique.  

HINT:  The 'Look Inside' feature on Amazon can satisfy a lot of curiosity and sometimes save you buying a book (or make you want it more).  If you can't 'Look Inside' on, try and vice versa.  It's just now occurred to me that (Canada) might also work for this.

One Summer, by Bill Bryson.  This was given to us by Vivien and Steve.  I've only read the first few pages.  It's a double score in that Bill and I both love Bryson's books and it happens to be about the summer of 1927 - splat in those inter-war years. Thanks so much, Vivien!

Couture Sewing Techniques, by Claire Schaeffer.  This is rather a laugh, given that I'm not that conversant with regular home sewing techniques.  One thing (one of many..don't get me started) that has been disappointing about the sewing class Lucy and I are taking at Newcastle is that the teacher is very much from the 'short cuts' school. Lucy and I are both a bit suspicious of some of her means and would rather learn the 'long way' first.  I don't think I'll try too many of these ideas right away, though I'm dead keen to practice thread-sewing the stitch lines of my patterns.

The Power of Style, by Annette Tapert and Diana Edkins. This book is almost embarrassing to admit to but it isn't quite as daft as the title might suggest and if women's magazines are going to dumb themselves down into adverts, pablum and more adverts, a person has to feed this hunger somewhere. OK, the internet should be sufficient, but I still love books, and this one is read and bookmarked!  The reason I don't think this is a foolish book as that it gives short biographies of 14 women, some of the names were very well known, others completely unfamiliar:  Daisy Fellowes, Rita Lydig, Millicent Rogers, Pauline de Rothschild, Mona Bismark, Slim Keith, Babe Paley, Gloria Guiness, C.Z. Guest, Elsie de Wolfe, Diana Vreeland, the Duchess of Windsor, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Coco Chanel.  These women led incredibly privileged and artful lives but there is much in their stories which is heart-breaking.  I was reminded that very rich men are often very not nice; several of these women weren't particularly nice either.  What else did they seem to have in common?  A decided preference for white flowers...

HINT:  If Amazon won't let you Look Inside, the reviewers' comments are often very revealing.  Also, if the book has been out a while, Google the title, and some nice blogger will tell you quite a bit (like the whole list of women included in this book).  Also, you may get more ideas for other books, ie The Power of Glamour about a whole host of screen stars from the 1930s...

The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter.  Or should that be 'Tails'?  I wrote about visiting Hill Top Farm, Potter's home in the Lake District, last  Gosh! Two years ago, I was sad to admit I'd never read any one of her stories.  Now I can read them all...

The Art of Manipulating Fabric, by Colette Wolff, Robbie Fanning and Rosalie Cooke.  I'm not sure if this counts as a sewing book, it might be more of a textile artist's book.  I've yet to try any of the techniques so I can't say as yet how well they are described.  I have already read large chunks concerning tucks, darts, quilting, smocking and cording...and that's not even the beginning of it.  An amazing book to grow into, hopefully.

So that's it, the book gifts.  I can't even remember all the books I've bought myself this year...

Thursday, 9 January 2014

This Year's Stack - Part I

As usual, I had loads of books on my Amazon wishlist and family and friends all know reading is almost as necessary to me as breathing or eating. So here is the 'brain food' for the first few months of 2014:

In Search of England, by H. V. Morton. Morton's name was on my inter-war reading list (from The House at Riverton) and the local libraries were no help.  As I recall, Kate Morton, the author - any relation, I wonder? - didn't specify a particular book. This one came highly recommended on, in fact they said he was such a good travel writer this book probably made Bill Bryson cry. It was first published, funny enough, in June 1927 - See Bryson's book below. Can't wait to start!

Castle, a History of Buildings that Shaped Medieval England, by Marc Morris.  I read this, back in 2008 and have always remembered it.  I wanted to read it again but the libraries here are shrinking and it's disappeared.  Now I can keep and enjoy referring to it.  

Abroad, by Paul Fussell.  I stumbled across Susan Partlan's old blog where she talks about many different things that interest me but somewhere in the posts about 'History of American Money Values' or perhaps in comments or links that derived from there, Paul Fussell's name came up and his books were recommended. I put a number of them on my wish list.  Abroad probably is about travel rather than class and finance, but I'll find out eventually and let you know.

Paris, 1919:  six months that changed the world, by Margaret MacMillan.  This is another from the inter-war reading list and though I gather MacMillan has written fun things about the shopping habits of Victorian ladies, this is probably not a fun book.  I think it is likely about the Treaty of Versailles, which I know had knock on effects resulting in WWII.  Her books have also disappeared from libraries, sadly.

So far the list sounds quite serious and intellectual, even. The order is actually from the least tall and increasingly tall, as the were stacked for the photograph...which I'll hopefully get to share when I remember what I did with that tiny little thing that links my camera chip with this computer .  {sigh}

Well, I did find it - almost where it should have been.  More about the Stack in another post.