Wednesday, November 30, 2011

An Ode to the Pen and the Mystery of the Stolen Knife

Remember when we used to write?

I don't mean blog. 

I mean WRITE, with a pen. 

My grandfather filled a journal each year with daily, handwritten entries. Do people do that anymore? I keep telling myself I will, but then life gets in the way.

What is so amazing about the handwritten word is that the ink and the handwriting physically connect you to the writer. You can feel the writing process in the visual experience.
It's a lost art we need to bring back.

What I've always found interesting in looking at little handwritten gems is that handwriting style appears to be genetic. Generations of my family on both sides seem to have writing styles and quirks that persist. Fascinating.
Also, my relatives appear to prefer blue ink. Or maybe blue ink used to be more common than black ink.
My mom let me scan this awesome combo of recipe and letter from her mom, and I hope it will change the way you give recipes to people. 


Bean Soup

I usually use the pinto beans - Ham bone or smoked butt or neck. Put meat or bone in large pan 3/4 full of water, cut up an onion, salt & pepper - bring to a boil & add beans & I usuall [sic] use a can of del monte stewed tomatoes, you can use just a regular can of tomatoes or a lot of ketsup [sic] - tomatoes are best. Boil until beans are done, takes about 4 or 5 hours. Gin [my mom's name] get yourself a box of bay leaves - put just about 2 leaves in the soup - gives good flavor. If you like dice 1 or 2 potatoes & add when beans are about done (optional)  - the smoked butt gives you good meat to eat along with it - Hope it all turns out. 

Glad to get your letter, now tell me something - did Telghman's or Stieff ever send your silver knife back to you? If not, I have to go on a tear looking for it - I took it at Thanksgiving time or there about - I don't have time to write any more this AM but anxious to know how all this turns out - I will send you recipes later for a good lemon cheese pie & french bread. Love, Mama.

This has it all, doesn't it? It's not just a recipe - it's a letter, a cooking lesson, a tradition, and last, but not least - intrigue about the missing silver knife! You probably had better check your drawers - who knows what some errant family member may have made off at Thanksgiving with while you were in a turkey stupor!

What a gem. You should write a recipe/letter with one of your favorite Thanksgiving dishes and send it to a loved one, don't you think? Who knows - fifty years later, some relative that hasn't even been born yet will treasure it in her holographic, spaceshippy world full of seamonkeys and flying cars.

I think about my own love for pens and my preferences. I'm one of those complete pen freaks - I have like 80 squillion pens and yet I can't resist buying more. I prefer blue ink unless I'm drawing. I remember my first fountain pen I bought in college. Oh how I loved that thing.
 Stamps: Established Elegance, Word Play Ink: Basic Black, Crumb Cake Paper: Very Vanilla, First Edition DSP

Amazing how a pen can be such a happy memory.

So next time you go to share a recipe with someone, step away from the email, and pick up a pen.

You never know where it might end up. :)


  1. I do!!! but I think I may be the last one, lol. I love writing and handwriting is an obsession of mine and has been since I was very young. I remember as a kids sitting around for HOURS working on making my letters look just so.

    Your card is wonderfully vintage and fantastic. :) I LOVE it!

  2. aindismu is my verification word but i have no idea how to use it in a sentence - i also had no idea how to use the Remember When sentiment, until now - i LOVE this card, everything about it - colors, textures, images - fabulous!

  3. Wow, my eyes filled up when I saw this post. I have a very similar letter from my mother and it is one of my most precious things. I love the little extra instructions in them and hints as to why hers were special. Thank you for sharing this and giving me good memories.
    PS this even looks like my Mom's writing!
    Irene L

  4. Love your card and the typewriter image.

    I am 73 and have hand written notes from my mother and a journal from my great aunt of her composed poems-precious!

  5. I do keep a daily journal - sometimes I wonder if people will be able to decipher it over time.
    I also have my mother's exercise book full of handwritten recipes and notes for her personal preferences in ingredients. My mother passed away 35 years ago.... I treasure it !

    Lynn G.

  6. I read on someone's blog that cursive writing is destined to become extinct. I can't accept that. I hope it's not true but as my writing has come to resemble chicken scratch in this mile a minute world, I'm not helping the situation, am I? Maybe we should all write "I will use cursive more often." 100 times on a chalkboard (if they haven't all been replaced by smart boards!) Your card is a lovely testament to time gone by.
    P.S. You didn't tell us what your grandma's note at the bottom said. 3 words? *smile*

  7. I could read the entire recipe! Looks like my mother's handwriting too. She was born in 1917. Me, I taught 1st grade, so my writing is still tidy. Ha ha. My grandson who is in 4th grade is learning to write in cursive. He says it is hard to read. I can read it, a task I guess you never forget.

  8. Phew - finally getting some catch-up time. I like a good old-fashioned pen myself, although I'm glad I've moved on from the turquoise ink I favoured in my teens. Not sure I've seen anything but blue and black recently.
    But...your bean soup recipe is pretty legible, however I have an old family recipe book and some of it is almost indecipherable, so for a precious recipe I think I'll still stick to printing them :-).
    I have some hilarious correspondence to my great-grandfather - one particular letter was a riot to read - I'm glad it was legible enough to be easy. My uncle doesn't consider a letter to be a letter unless it's hand-written, and it was a real loss to him when Parkinsons took away his ability to use a pen. Right up to the end of turning in music reviews to the national paper he was producing them in his beautiful italic script, when everybody else had moved on from typewriters to computers.
    I could keep typing nontsup or nonstop if I were paying attention but that would make this a desperately long comment :D. (wr)
    Wish I'd kept my old Remington, though I'd probably strain my fingers typing on it after a keyboard. It was almost as old as the one on your card!

  9. Great post and absolutely lovely card - who makes the Established Elegance stamp??? Would like to get it

  10. I tell the people who shop my craft booth that I am single-handedly trying to bring back the art of the hand-written note. :)

  11. I have always been fascinated with beautiful penmanship. I find now with arthritis in my hands it's slowly getting worse. I have a large box of recipes from my mother, grandmothers and aunts and each is somehow similar yet unique. Much like yours it's like a little conversation with them reading the ingredients and directions. What treasures.
    Please thank you mother for allowing us to enjoy this sweet note. :)


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