Tom & Jerry ??

Who are Tom and Jerry and why are their names on holiday punch bowls?

I have to admit that the first time I saw these names paired up was on a Saturday morning cartoon show. However, the Tom & Jerry I'm talking about today are not the adorable cat and mouse duo.

Tom & Jerry was a popular Christmas cocktail created by writer Pierce Egan in the 1820s. In order to publicize his book, Life in London, or The Day and Night Scenes of Jerry Hawthorn Esq. and his Elegant Friend Corinthian Tom (1821), and the subsequent stage play Tom and Jerry, or Life in London (also 1821), Egan introduced a variation of eggnog by adding ½ fl oz of brandy, calling it a "Tom and Jerry". The addition of liquor helped popularize the drink.

There are many recipes on the internet - here's one example.

Tom & Jerry Eggnog

For the batter:12 eggs, separated
1 pound sugar (add more if you prefer it sweeter)
2 ounces aged rum (Appleton Extra, Bacardi 8, and Cockspur are all good choices)
1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
For serving:Brandy
Aged rum
Hot milk
Boiling water

For the batter: Beat the egg yolks well, then gradually whisk in the sugar. Add the rum and spices. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff and fold into the yolk mixture until well mixed. Keep batter refrigerated until serving.
For serving: For each drink, put 2 ounces of batter into a toddy mug. Add 1 ounce each of brandy and aged rum (bourbon or rye whiskey also work well), and fill with equal parts hot milk and boiling water. Top with grated nutmeg. If using a small coffee cup or classic Tom & Jerry mug, you may wish to cut the serving size in half.

There are also commercial Tom & Jerry mixes available to simplify making this traditional hot yuletime cocktail.

Please visit my stores, or simply click on the photos for vintage Tom & Jerry serving sets!


Flea Market Finds - Fabulous Carnival Glass

I have real life get in the way of my blogging again, lol, but I did want to share the beautiful glass I found on the way home from Miami. We only stopped at one flea market but it was a goodie! I found this gorgeous Imperial 474 water set, circa 1915 and this fabulous Dugan Floral and Grape pitcher, circa 1910. My very first old carnival glass finds, how exciting is that?

For more information on these pieces, please visit my Ruby Lane store


More Thrifting and Some Actual Work ;-)

When I visit my mom, I try to do a couple of things for her while I’m there. This trip we decide to revamp the “garden” aka weed patch by her patio. This pic is post weeding. She has had some medical issues over the last year and the yard has gotten away from her. We pull the weeds; add a fountain and some new plants that are supposed to like full sun and voila! a beautiful patio garden with the soothing sound of trickling water. I also tried my hand at a faux finish on her bathroom walls and I think it came out pretty well.On my numerous trips to the Home Depot, I drive right by a Salvation Army Thrift store and for some reason my car always automatically pulls into the parking lot. I have found some little treasure each time – a pink Dogwood dinner plate, an amber Diana dinner plate and this last time, a Candlewick saucer and two green Depression glass cups.
My only other score in Miami is this way cool lamp made from 2 metal boxes in the 1940's judging from the non-polarized plug. We plan on traveling back to Ohio on the weekend so I'm hoping for better luck at the flea markets than we had on the way to Miami.
Next: Finally! A good flea market!!


Miami Nightlife - Clubs, Gangs and Hitler??

One thing I have to say about traveling with my 20-something daughter is that it sure makes me expand my comfort zone! Meg has heard about some places she is interested in checking out so instead of sitting at home and going to bed at a reasonable hour we venture out into the Miami night.

There is a club just outside the oh-so-trendy Fashion District downtown called Churchill’s A Sort of English Pub. It has a reputation for supporting local indie bands and you never know what type of music they will have coming up. There are 4 or 5 bands playing the first night we’re there and all I can say about them is that they were LOUD! Megan and I sit at the bar where we have a good view of the stage. While we’re waiting for the bands to begin I spend some time watching a hustler at the pool table. I think he’s having an off night because he doesn’t seem that good but maybe that’s the whole idea? He takes off when the place starts to fill up with a young hip crowd and I am feeling more and more out of place. I move over to the darker side of the bar where I can hide. Of course, as soon as I move two guys swoop in on Meg and I have fun watching them all chat from across the bar.

One of the guys she was talking with has made quite an impression on Meg – smart, funny, well read and a law student at the University of Miami. Oh, and really cute too, and in a band. She must have made an impression on him as well because he starts calling her the next day and they decide to have coffee that evening. Thank goodness! I don’t think I could do two late nights in a row ;-) The next night they plan to listen to some music and hang out at his apartment. He’s originally from Germany and has a lot of WWII books and memorabilia in the living room. Meg has always been interested in history so she is enjoying looking at everything. He offers to show her more of his collection but tells her it may “creep her out”… When she follows him into the bedroom there is a collection of German medals and armbands including ones with Nazi insignia and …get this… a portrait of Hitler! Not just a cheap print either but an embossed metal 3-D profile on a wood plaque. Her response? “Ummm… do you think you could take me home now?” I mean seriously, who has a portrait of Hitler in their bedroom??!

Needless to say, the budding romance came to a screeching halt. The next night we decide to do something All American so we go bowling. Mom comes to watch and giggle at my lack of bowling skills. Megan is a natural athlete and beats me easily even though she has no form and basically just hurls the ball toward the pins and knocks them down. Being raised by a league bowler, I have excellent form and a wicked curve but unfortunately no control over what path the ball might choose to take down the alley. I had one good game, which for me is anything over 100. My other games were just pathetic, I don’t know what the record is for gutter balls but I must have been getting close, lol!

Later Meg and I go to a billiard hall in Hialeah to play some pool, a game where I am not totally inept. When we walk in the very first thing she notices is that there is a large group of gang members playing at one of the tables wearing leather jackets emblazened with skulls and the name of the gang. Guess what table we’re given? That’s right, the one right next to the gang members. Here are my keen observations of gang life. 1. Always wear your colors. One of the members was chastised for not having his jacket on. 2. Show respect to the head of the gang. The leader had just gotten out of the hospital, had a big cast on his leg and was reigning over the table from a chair on the side - obviously an important guy. 3. The new guy has to pay his dues. One guy was apparently new as he was running around getting things for the rest of the group and they were teaching him how to play pool. It was pretty tame. I guess that as long as there’s not an opposing gang present it’s perfectly safe. The weird thing was that they were a motorcycle gang but there weren’t any bikes parked outside.

We visit Churchill’s again before we leave Miami and on this night, they have an open jam where all of the local bands come and play together. It was a very bazaar group of pseudo hippie, punk, and or hipster musicians and their loyal followers weaving a musical tapestry of a sort. A very friendly (and very high) bunch of people and entertaining as well.


Sunburns, Aloe and Miami's Other Beaches

One of my mom's home remedies for sunburn is fresh aloe from the garden. She slices off a leaf and peels the skin off one side and then you just rub the jelly-like inside on your bod. I don't know if the aloe does anything to prevent additional peeling but it sure does feel nice, especially if it's been kept in the fridge, ahhh cool and refreshing. It does have a weird odor at first but that completely disappears when it dries leaving you silky soft! Meg and I are both peeling just a little bit. How could this happen? We’re Italian for goodness sake! Well, I’m half Italian and Meg’s one quarter, but she looks more Italian than I do and we NEVER peel… until now.

We can’t stay away from the beach forever so we head out to explore some of Miami’s other beaches. We load up sunscreen and cover-ups and leave later in the day when the sun isn’t so damaging.

Megan is very interested in marine life so we decide to visit Matheson Hammock. The main beach there is an atoll, kind of a big salt-water pool. My family spent many Sunday afternoons there in the late 1950’s and one of the very cool features was the coral rock building that housed a snack bar where, as a special treat, I could get an ice-cream cone or some other frozen delight. I’m sure there were changing rooms and such also but my memory stops at the snack bar!

Meg is not at all impressed with the beach, the snack bar is closed and the rest of the coral rock building has been converted into a fancy restaurant. The mile long sandbar that used to be on the ocean side of the pool seawall is gone too. My last chance to salvage the day is a side beach that has tidal pools and a lot of interesting sea life. The sign for the beach access road is missing but I’m sure that I remember where to turn so we venture down a familiar if unmarked path. The road hasn’t been maintained and I comment on how deserted the area is which is odd as it used to be quite popular and now appears to be abandoned. We park the car and as I am about to get out and walk down to the beach Meg says, “Wait, let’s see what that sign says.” Eeek! No wonder no one is on the beach! We drive around for a bit peering into the mangroves but we don’t spot any Crocs and neither one of us want to be bait to entice them to come out so we leave.

Most of the beaches in Miami don’t allow dogs. The only one I know of is along the causeway to Crandon Park. It’s very rocky with little sand but it’s a beach and we want to see if Iggy will like the ocean.

Although he’s an excellent swimmer one quick paddle to shore is enough for him and he is not at all interested in splashing along the shoreline. Get me outta here! Poor baby! We wrap him up in a towel and soon he is sleeping peacefully.

I have to say that even though I have fond memories of Crandon and Matheson, as those are the beaches my family usually went to when I was little; Miami Beach is by far the nicest beach we visited. It’s very clean, the waves are nice and there are no crocodiles running around ;-)


Thrifting in Miami

It rains the next day so I head off to the local thrift and antique stores that I always visit when I’m in town.
The crabby old guy who owns Dietel's Antiques just had open-heart surgery a few weeks ago but there he is back in the saddle with his shirt unbuttoned low enough to show off his stitches. Unfortunately, his disposition is now worse than ever. After one too many nasty comments from him about how much I am willing to pay for some mid-century glassware – which he refers to as “cheap crap” - I walk out vowing never to return. I leave my pending purchase of glassware (all of which has been languishing in his store for at least a year) sitting on the counter. I’m sad about leaving these treasurers with someone who doesn’t appreciate them, especially three beautiful antique cut glass saltshakers with sterling tops and some Ritz Blue glass by Hazel Atlas including three Sailboat items, but they will have to wait for someone else to rescue them from this horrid little man. Every time I drive by his store for the rest of the trip I stick out my tongue *pffft!!* Silly, but it makes me feel better and it amuses my passengers :-)

I visit a vintage clothing store across the street and OMG what a blast from the past! When I was young, I loved to go dancing at the local clubs – this was during the Disco era and my favorite outfit consisted of an aurora borealis iridescent white sequin tube top with wide leg pink bell-bottom pants and shiny white patent leather platform sandals with 4-inch heels. I could have purchased an identical ensemble right then and there, but I restrained myself, lol!


On the Road Again - Destination Miami

We have an uneventful drive to Florida stopping at a couple of very disappointing “flea markets” full of cheap imported new junk in semi-permanent locations. Not my idea of a flea market!

It has been raining off and on all the way to Florida but that makes for pretty rainbows and beautiful sunsets. In Florida it can rain while the sun is shining – I always thought that was soo cool! Finally, when we hit Miami it’s nice and sunny and Iggy loves it. Nothing like a nice nap in the sun, ahhh… this is how a little dogs life should be!

When we arrive at my mom’s house in South Miami I discover that there is *gasp* no internet! Sometimes I can pick up an open signal but not this time. No flea markets, no internet… this is turning out to be more of a vacation that I had planned, lol! It’s wicked hot in Miami and Meg and I camp out in the Florida room next to the AC instead of in my old bedroom.

First thing in the morning we head over to Miami Beach, specifically South Beach, one of the nicest beaches in the country. In addition to miles of shoreline with beautiful soft white sand, South Beach is known for the Art Deco architecture and it’s everywhere – even the McDonalds is in a deco building! We spend 5 hours in the sun and surf and despite the liberal use of sunscreen – ouch! We are a couple of typical sun burnt tourists – how embarrassing for a native Floridian.


NYC - High Rents Killing the Antique Business??

Jessica’s apartment is only 5 stops from Manhattan, about 12 minutes on the subway and within walking distance from the very hip Williamsburg. Spacious and cheap by New York standards, her railroad style apartment has an open hallway from the kitchen through the living room and bedroom to the front room. There’s also a roof you can use as a “deck” if you climb out the kitchen window. Her friends from Manhattan are always amazed at how large her place is but it seems tiny to me. The bathroom has tiles falling off, there are water stains on the kitchen ceiling and the wood floors slope quite severely. All this for only $1300 a month! One could pay the mortgage on a very nice house in Columbus for less but as Jess says - it would be in Columbus.

She shares her place with her babies Nancy and Fuzzy. The kitties didn't appreciate Iggy coming to visit them and didn't want to play. Iggy loves cats. He used to live with two cats and they played together all the time so he was a little disappointed that these kitties didn't want anything to do with him.
I go to sleep but my girls stay out late and sleep in the living room
I have to admit that the front room where she has her studio is perfect with two big windows and plenty of room to work on a large canvas.
The next morning I take the L train to Union Square remembering an antique section close to the park. However, when I find the right street there are only a few stores left the others having closed or moved due to the economy and high rents. The remaining stores carry mainly European antiques – somewhat disappointing for a collector of American glass. I stop in a couple of vintage clothing stores and OMG – a purse like the one I just (happily) sold for $37 was priced at a whopping $125 – I guess the rent has to be paid somehow.

Giving up on the antiques, I decide to visit some wholesale bead stores and on the way, I notice this odd little sign so of course I head down the stairs to the basement of the church. At first, nothing catches my eye but then I see this darling doll and I have to take her home with me. There is a wind-up key on the back and she still plays “Thank Heaven for Little Girls”. When I find out who she is I’ll be listing her in one of my stores.

Next - we leave NY and head for Miami


Before the Crack of Dawn - Our Road Trip Begins

It’s still dark as my daughter Megan, her little Chihauhau, Iggy Pup, and I begin our road trip traveling first to NYC and then down to Miami Fla. My trusty car is packed with two 1950’s chairs and a large box of frames for my daughter Jess along with our sleeping bags, a tent, the dog’s food, bed and blanket, our pillows and blankets, clothes and 2 duffle bags of shoes. And yes, we do need that many shoes! The Ohio countryside is beautiful in the dewy morning light and soon we’re in Pennsylvania. A few hours later and we’re still in Pennsylvania, a few more hours and yep, you guessed it. It’s the most boring part of the 9-hour drive and the temptation to speed (or as I like to call it “make good time”) is irresistible. Finally, there’s Jersey City, which I am always happy to see – if not smell - and we’re very close to NY (not to mention no longer in Pennsylvania).

After an unplanned detour due to a missed turn, there is one final obstacle...

the dreaded Holland Tunnel. I hate driving through tunnels especially this one. It goes under a river and I spend the whole time looking for wet spots. What if there’s a leak? A small leak could cause structural damage and the whole thing could collapse and we could drown or be eaten by sharks! I know, I know, too many disaster movies.

We emerge from the deep and head for the Williamsburg Bridge to Brooklyn and Jessica’s apartment weaving our way through the streets of Manhattan. I love driving in New York City! How weird is that? I think that’s because only good, or at least confident, drivers dare to drive there. Meg says I always drive like a maniac so I fit right in. Hmmm...should I be insulted or flattered?