Photo: Great grandparents at their farm in Blandinsville, IL, with five of their six children .. my grandpa was yet a twinkle in grandma's eye. Stable boy and governess also pictured. Hodges farm, circa 1903-4

Friday, December 31, 2010

Year End .. It's a Wrap

Then end of another year and decade brings the occupants of The Thrifty Garden Home pondering all that took place .. and wondering what the new year ahead will bring.  2010 was a good year all in all.  Here are the goals I listed a year ago for 2010 with results in gold:

drinking in the view from the front porch rocker .. with a blanket, of course!
  1. never take my hungry children grocery shopping ... a given on a tight budget!
  2. take my own reusable grocery bags WITH me instead of leaving them at home or in the car trunk ... about 1/3 successful ;(
  3. grow, can, preserve, freeze enough food to last from summer to summer ... not quite there yet .. but 50% of what we eat is from our garden and a local farm
  4. purchase no out of season ... grown out of country produce ... this was easier than I thought
  5. buy local and organic when possible ... this was easier during the growing season .. I canned from our garden and the local farm
  6. buy only local farm meats (Thanks to watching the movie Food, Inc.;) ... 90 % of our meat comes from a local North Idaho organic ranch
  7. use my crock pot more often ... not sure why this was a goal since I'm a homebody and don't know how many people will be eating with us until it's time to start dinner
  8. plant only open pollinated, organic, heirloom veggie seeds ... this was mostly accomplished
  9. use no toxic products in the garden or for cleaning purposes ... I personally did not buy any ready made cleaners or toxic yard/garden 'tonics' .. can't say the same for hubby ... he buys a small bottle of spray cleaner... needs a little bit more education (nagging) to get him on board
Mrs. Mac on a little trek 12/30/2010
I  hope to have some new goals written up for 2011 this next week .. a fresh new month and year and decade on the calendar page.  What about you?  Got any big thrifty/green goals for the new year? 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Greetings

... from our home to yours. 

vintage image used with permission from here

Mrs. Mac and Family

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Fruitcake ?

Yes or no?  Do you like fruitcake? Give me a fruit laden cake made with naturally dried fruits and nuts .. not the candied sugary fruit from a plastic tub at the store, brushed with brandy.  My grandma used to make such a cake.  I think my mom and I are the only ones in the immediate family that even like fruitcake.  The history surrounding fruitcake is centuries old and a bit muddled.  Today I am going to try my hand at baking such a treat.  I have purchased: dates, prunes, raisins and nuts.  I have some dried citrus zest to add as well.  Do you make fruit cake?  Anyone wanting to 're-gift' such a cake .. let me know and I'll (ahem) take it off your hands :)

vintage fruit image from Vintage Holiday Crafts

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Doing What You Can .. In a Toxic World

Some days I get antsy reading the headlines on the sidebar of this blog.  GMO foods and crops .. to soak or not to soak grains .. raw -vs- pasteurized milk .. toxic money .. etc.  Yes, it is good to be informed.  Taking in the news and trying to eke out a common sense approach to life is important to having a quality life.  There is just too much living to do that one needs not to be in fear of living.  Just breathing is dangerous it seems some days.  I get the most enjoyment trying to figure out how to make products at home.  Be it soap or green cleaners.  Trying to save money and not always needing the latest gadget.  Being content with thrift store shopping.  Growing as much food as possible for summer use and winter storage.  Can I do it all? NO!  .. and I have learned that being a good homemaker means not only keeping busy at home with the garden, etc. .. but also seeking the best local produce, eggs, meat, etc. in the community and not worrying that I can't do everything.  Big sigh :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Danish Heritage Cooking

I've recently started making a few heritage recipes given to me by my Danish cousin, Egon.  I remember having ableskivers on my honeymoon with Mr. Mac thirty years ago in Solvang, California.  On a recent thrift store outing, I was able to purchase a new ableskiver pan.  Here is the family recipe:

(Danish “doughnuts”)
This is possibly one of the most famous Danish desserts. To make æbleskiver requires a special
skillet called an “æbleskivepande”. Usually, you are able to find an “æbleskive-pande” at the
Scandinavian gift stores in the area.
2 cups flour
2 cups buttermilk
3 eggs, separated
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼1/4 teaspoon salt
Melted butter or margarine for frying.
Separate the eggs and set aside the egg whites. Mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl. Beat
until it forms into a thickened, smooth batter. Let the batter rest for half an hour in the
refrigerator. Beat the egg whites until very stiff. Fold the egg whites into the cool batter. Pour the
batter into a pitcher. Melt the butter for frying.
Pre-heat the æbleskive skillet. Pour a little melted butter in each hole. Then fill the holes 3/4 with
batter. Fry the æbleskiver at medium heat. When a shell has started to form turn the æbleskiver
around with a (wooden) knitting needle or a meat skewer. Keep on turning the æbleskiver until evenly

When done remove the æbleskiver from the skillet and keep them warm. Decorate the æbleskiver
with powdered sugar. Served with jelly and sugar.
- Enjoy

Friday, December 17, 2010

Grandma's Remedy

To break up the winter doldrums, today I'm going to try a periodic piece about how I think 'grandma' would have found/fixed/made a solution to a basic need during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Today's problem .. oldest son is sick with a sore throat AND an empty pantry.  Calling me .. he asked if I had anything to eat that would not hurt his throat when swallowing.  He is used to buying canned soups .. which I don't buy.  Not having a tremendous amount of time I threw together something nutritious and comforting that my grandma would have made.

Gr-gr-grandma Minnie
Turkey Spatzen Soup: (small German dumplings)

1 quart turkey stock (I keep homemade on hand in the refrigerator and freezer .. grandma would have canned it for shelf storage)
1/4 cup each chopped - onion, carrot, celery
salt & pepper to taste

dumpling dough as follows - 

one egg, 1/4 cup water, 3/4 cup cake flour, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp double acting baking powder (organic),
a small pinch of nutmeg, 1/4 tsp dried parsley

To make soup base:

Heat the broth and veggies, salt and pepper to a low simmer.

To make spatzen:

Beat egg in a small mixing bowl with a fork; stir in the water.  In a medium size bowl, add the dry ingredients .. then blend with the liquid.  Mix well with fork.  Dough will be more like a thick batter.
spatzen dough

With stock simmering on low, drop 1/2 teaspoon size amounts of dough a few at a time.  They will sink .. then start to float.  Keep adding a few more small spoons of the batter .. not so much as to cool the soup .. it needs to be at a constant simmer.

Makes about 2-4 servings
turkey with spatzen soup

This soup took less than twenty minutes .. start to finish and can be easily doubled.
Our great grandparents made most of their meals from scratch.  Simple wholesome ingredients were used .. because that's all they had ... hum .. just imagine only having basic whole foods to choose from .. what a concept .. how far we've strayed away from that idea.  Let's get back to basics for the sake of our family's health! 

Brief History of Home Canning
Health Benefits of Homemade Broth (turkey, chicken, beef, etc.)

If you are interested in starting a 'Grandma's Remedy' page each week and want to link up, leave a comment.

Wagons Ho! Nebraska We Go .. (or bust!)

Henry and Minnie Melcher's home, Osmond, Nebraska

 Yesterday I recalled a elusive photo for our family tree.  Today I'll share a bit about my great-great grandparents.  Originally both from Germany, Minnie and Henry Melcher somehow arrived in Wisconsin.  From there they traveled by covered wagon to Norfolk, Nebraska to farm the land for a number of years; they lived in a sod or log house.  In 1887, the couple moved about 40 miles away to Osmond, Nebraska where they bought land and farmed west of town.  In later years, they bought a home in town; their home and property is where St. Mary's Church stands today.

Minnie Melcher's Parlor Lamp
This beautiful parlor lamp once graced a table of Minnie and Henry's (and later their daughter Laura's) home.  It somehow escaped breakage through the years.  My father had it for many years and promised to somehow get it to me.  This past autumn, a friend and neighbor of mine was driving through his area in Missouri and agreed to pick up the lamp and transport it home to me.  I pray that my family can one day pass it on to another generation.  It currently sits on a dresser in my bedroom .. waiting for a good dusting!

Minnie and Henry's son, Oscar, recalled (in the newspaper article), "The blizzard of 1888, Charlie Dunham and his 6 pair of oxen which broke sod for many farmers, the brick yard in 1898 run by Grinshaw, Mame Jones Millinery Shop .. and the years from approximately 1899 to 1904 that he worked for R. J. Crystal and Wylie drug store until the fire of 1904 razed the whole west side of main street."

Oscar Melcher
Boy ... I wish I had the inkling to ask more questions when my grandparents were alive.  Trying to piece together information is challenging to say the least .. a treasure hunt of sorts.

More hunting tomorrow.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ancestry Pay Dirt

great grandparents, Charles and Laura Calundan
gr-great grandparents, Minnie & Henry Melcher
I've been researching my family tree for several years now.  A photo of one member has eluded me for the longest time.  That of my great grandfather Charles Calundan.  He emigrated from Lading, Denmark in the 1880's and ended up in Osmond, Nebraska.  Hubby was organizing some memorabilia boxes down in the basement .. when what should he bring to me ..  not only a photo BUT also a newspaper article recalling some of my great grandparents and great-great grandparents history as told by my grandmother for a centennial newspaper article.  Elated is too small of a word! Tomorrow I'll relate some of their covered wagon adventures:)

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Caffeine ... Giving It Up!

Tired of not getting good sleep at night, I'm giving up COFFEE, TEA, & CHOCOLATE!  Yesterday was 'ground zero' .. and I felt like a zombie or couch potato.  Today is a bit better.  Going cold turkey is hard .. especially when the rest of my family perks up a pot in the morning.  What do I drink in it's place?  For now warm water mixed with a little piece of lemon and a sprinkle of ginger.  Sometimes .. just plain very warm water.  When I get to the store, I'll buy some herbal tea.  But .. for now ... the water is sufficing.  Doing a little research yesterday, I found out that white and oolong teas have less caffeine than black tea.  And if you use whole leaves instead of the minced stuff in bags .. then infuse the tea for a few seconds .. throwing away the first 'brew' .. and make a second go of the same infusion .. most of any caffeine will be gone.  Will let you know if this works.  I'm very sensitive to caffeine .. and apparently it can cause allergies .. which I have in the form of hives on occasion.  I've heard that it can take up to eight weeks to detox from caffeine .. so far .. no headache!

Friday, December 03, 2010

Making Every Dollar Count

Yesterday was budget day a The Mangy Moose Lodge.  I have been working with a household budget for the past eight months; it's getting easier.  Allocating our spending categories at the beginning of the month ..  makes for good spending habits.  Its' easier to say "NO" to impulse buys.  Christmas shopping is easier with cash set aside in an envelope.  When the $ is gone .. no more shopping :).  Our youngest daughter is just starting out in life .. albeit .. still at home .. but learning good foundations that will carry her through life.  Being able to live on a fixed income AND budget will be vital for her future success.  Today I helped her type up an easy to read budget form that she can print out each month and fill in with pencil.  Learning to live within your means at an early age is a very good thing.  Our economy and government could use a good dose of living within a budget .. my wouldn't that be a saving grace!

Speaking of making every dollar count, look at the good turkey stock and meat that was made from cooking the turkey carcass after Thanksgiving.  We had a small 13 pound bird that gave us enough for an additional three meals ...

Friday, November 26, 2010

Week In Review

Thanksgiving meal 2010

Challah bread for Thanksgiving

backyard winter wonderland

turkey hot out of the oven

Jacob ready for a sled ride

Grandson Jacob  studying the Christmas ads
This past week brought crazy cold weather to the North Woods of Idaho.  We had a few days with sub-zero temps.  A few days where the nights were warmer than the days.  Snow and blizzard conditions as well.  I have not ventured outside much .. other than to drop off or pick up someone in town.  No Black Friday shopping for me; sleep is better medicine than rushing around in the middle of the night en mass looking for a bargain.  A meal of scrumptious turkey, ham, taters 'n gravy with cranberries and green beans will be on the menu tonight.  Turkey stock is simmering on the stove to freeze for soups. 

During the quiet moments of the week, I've been sewing a night gown similar to the one in the photo; just have to do the arms and buttons.  It's been a while since I've sewn clothing .. and with my near sighted vision not being what it used to be .. it was rather tedious.  Sewing skills are on the decline .. but I think it's a skill worth practicing.  The knitting needles have seen little rest as dish clothes are flying off at the speed of light ;) 

nightgown pattern I'm working on
What's going on in your neck of the woods?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Quick and Easy Huckleberry Syrup

At least once a week I make French toast or waffles for breakfast.  Trying to find better alternatives to store bought 'syrup' .. and not being able to always afford real maple syrup, through a little trial period the past two weeks, I've come up with a winner topping.  Many homemade syrup recipes call for a 1:2 ratio of water to sugar.  By adding just a bit of organic corn starch, you can significantly reduce the added sugar.

Easy Huckleberry Syrup

scant 1/3 cup organic raw sugar
1 tablespoon sucanat (unprocessed sugar .. dark brown from retained molassas)
1 cup cold water
1-1/2 teaspoon organic corn starch
pinch of sea salt
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon good vanilla
1-2 tablespoons huckleberries (raspberries, or blueberries)

huckleberry syrup

homemade French (challah) bread toast with huckleberry syrup
In a small saucepan add the sugars, water, salt and cornstarch; stir well until the cornstarch is completely dissolved.  Bring to a slow boil over medium heat for about a minute or so until the syrup thickens.  Add the butter, vanilla and huckleberries and cook for another minute.  Makes 4-6 servings .. store any leftover syrup in the fridge and use within a few days.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Call It A Wrap

A nice drape of snow will look lovely over the barren garden #1
Garden #2 mulched and tucked away for winter
With our unseasonably warm autumn weather, I have been able to tuck away the gardens for their winter nap of rejuvenation at a slower pace.  The Spanish roja garlic has been planted and mulched, Swiss chard and spinach are growing under cover, and a few broccoli plants with side shoots were left in place.

garden sink back splash .. nearly completed
Our garden sink project is nearly done .. just waiting for some grout around the tiles .. hopefully to be finished in the next day or so.

Compost from the bottom of the bin has been removed to make more room for winter use at the top opening.

Strawberry beds have been thinned and heavily mulched.  I hope these June bearing plants do better next year .. in the spring they will get transplanted outside the fenced garden space and draped with deer netting .. they are prolific and take up so much room.  The wild strawberries seem to be undisturbed by the deer .. let's hope these will do the same.  A patch of ever-bearing berries will be added in the spring.

Now it's off to the library to check out some gardening books for my winter reading, and hit the knitting needles, and soap making supplies, and, and, and ... endless possibilities with the garden under wraps.  What will you do with your free time this winter?
compost bin emptied a bit ... black gold
straw over the berry plants

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Grandma Elizabeth (Libby)

Grandparents George & Elizabeth Burge with George Jr.
... is one of my greatest sources of fond memories ... relating to ... all things homemade.  She was raised on a farm and from what I can recall, cooked fresh .. grew a garden .. canned food .. baked fresh bread .. bottled hot sauce .. even cooked up squirrel for my pop when we'd visit.  She was a living relic .. a holdover from a by-gone era that I had the privilege of knowing.  As I swelter over a hot stove little images of grandma pop into my mind; she was always standing over a hot stove .. even in her old age.  Hard work .. laundry done on a wringer machine down in the cellar .. hiking up and down those stairs with baskets of laundry .. hanging them outside to dry .. a big old cast iron cooking kettle on a tripod stood sentry over the backyard .. this I'm sure is where she would have cooked up her lye soap.  She didn't have to worry about artificial ingredients poisoning her family ... very few ready made products ever made it home in her basket.  She got up at the crack of dawn to make homemade yeast raised cinnamon rolls .. fry chicken .. bake biscuits.  Her home is where I got my hankering for all things homemade.  Do you have a grandma that inspired you?

Monday, November 08, 2010

Celebrating Thirty Years

... of marriage today.

On This Our Wedding Day, 11//8/1980 - Mr. & Mrs. Mac

Thirty years later ...
Little did we know back then  ... how thirty years would pass by so quickly  .. but here we are still in love .. with, Lord willing, a few more years to squeeze out of life.  I'll  never regret the path our lives have taken .. the hardships and good times all rolled into the same package of love.  Never will regret the time I've had at home nurturing our children, home schooling years, becoming a grandmother, growing older with my best friend.   Through thick and thin .. richer and poorer ... sickness and in health .. I still say 'I DO' ...

Old Irish Blessing

May the raindrops fall lightly on your brow
May the soft winds freshen your spirit
May the sunshine brighten your heart
May the burdens of the day rest lightly upon you
And may God enfold you in the mantle of His love.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday ... (a day late;)

Indian Summer & the clothesline

second crop of berries

bialy (roll) dough

autumn colors still lingering

some of today's garden pick

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

An Unintended 'Sweet' Treat

under developed walla-walla onions
Our walla-walla onions were planted directly in the soil from seeds this year and never developed bulbs.  Not wanting to just waste the large green onions that grew, I sliced and diced the tops and dried them in my dehydrator (oven).  They came out crispy, bright green, and have the characteristic sweetness familiar to their famed  name-sake bulb onions.  This treat will make a good topper on baked potatoes this winter; I'm thankful the frost didn't take them :)

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Small Steps

Big gains. 

It's hard to remember shopping with store coupons for ready made food products.  Our food bill was about double what it is now.  The change to eating whole foods started off slowly and has snowballed.  A little step here and there has added up to a total makeover with more changes to follow.  Having a set amount of cash to shop with each month, slowly stocking up on single item pantry/freezer goods (flour, eggs, veggies, meat .. etc) .. makes for quick meal preparation and planning.  Purchasing went from several times a week to once or twice a month.  Honestly .. yesterday was big shopping day for the month of November.  Our budget is $400 cash (family of four); this does not include much meat as that is separately budgeted and purchased from a local ranch each summer and kept in a chest freezer.  Having a well stocked pantry, I came home with only four bags of grocery staples.  Milk, cheese, spices, potatoes, tea, chips, etc. leaving me $220 until the end of the month.  Over the summer, the garden and local u-pick farm supplied fresh produce, much of which has been frozen, canned or dried for winter's use.  Buying and growing locally usually ensures better quality.  Getting to know the farmer and their farming practices helps when making choices outside of your own garden.  Separate freezer space allows for extra gallons of milk to be stored until needed, eliminating that dash to the market (that turns into a $20 shopping spree).  Milk and hard cheese both freeze beautifully.  Just remember to pour a little out of the carton to allow for expansion; the extra can be put in a wide-mouth labeled mason jar and frozen.  When we are out of milk it's nice to have a few cups in the freezer to tide us over until shopping day.  Learning to budget food has taken about six months.  Eliminating convenience foods has freed up dollars to buy good quality staples such as flour, oil, milk, produce, etc.  With the exception to canning and bread making, cooking from scratch takes no more time than ready made convenience food with practice.  Adapting our favorite family recipes to be more nutritiously prepared has won over my family to eat better. 

photo by Mrs. Mac
Yesterday's lesson:  Everyday I try to learn something new in the kitchen.    My husband and daughter still prefer those yummy-foo-foo sweetened (FAKE) creamers.  Thinking outside of the BIG BOX store mentality, (and not having the money in the budget for their 'desires') I purchased half-and-half and doctored it up, making it a little less sweet and without all the FAKE chemicals.  We call it Autumn Carmel Spice Coffee Creamer, they're hooked :)  .. I'll drink mine black or with a splash of milk.  You can make flavored creamers using a similar method and your flavor of choice.

Autumn Carmel Spice Coffee Creamer:

1/2 pint good quality half and half (the only ingredients should be cream and milk)
1 Tablespoons organic sucanant (unrefined sugar)
2-3 Tablespoons organic raw sugar
dash of cinnamon
small pinch of sea salt
1 Teaspoon good quality pure vanilla flavoring (watch the ingredients .. they should all be pronounceable and familiar ones:)

Put a few tablespoons of half and half in a small sauce pan.  Add the sugar, cinnamon and pinch of salt.  Stir over medium heat for just a moment until the sugars dissolve.  Do not let it come to a boil or the butterfat will separate and float on top of your coffee (bleck).  Slowly add the additional half and half and the vanilla.  Stir until well mixed.  Cool and pour back in the carton .. marking it as flavored coffee creamer.

The road to better nutrition is as individual as each family.  Do you have a favorite shopping strategy?

Monday, November 01, 2010

An Awakening

Nearing the end of gardening season.

Storing (drying) food for winter's use.
... is slowly taking place in the western world.  Perhaps from shoddy goods, a desire for better health, knowledge of big ag's poisonous onslaught, enlightenment of how our food is produced, a desire for REAL FOOD, these and many more reasons (economic) people are sharpening their gardening 'tools' and rethinking how to live a better life.  A life apart from the entanglement of BIG BOX companies that produce FAKE FOOD.  Food that robs the very life from a person's health at the cost of the all mighty buck.  Well .. the buck stops here with my family.  We need to educate and nurture our loved ones back into the 'fold' with good food .. not just served up at the table on a Sunday afternoon .. but how to make better choices when eating and living each day .. even in this fast paced, out of control work system many of us are in.  Standing together, we CAN knit our families a better future; are you game?

Friday, October 29, 2010

You Can't Always 'Trust' Thrift Tags

vintage white 'hobnail' bedspread

It pays to be patient when 'thrifting' :)
Today was 'date' day with Mr. Mac.  We were supposed to go to the hardware store (hey, it's raining;) but decided to stop at a few thrift stores on the way.  My favorite hangout was having half off the entire store .. so that was the first stop.  A few more USA made vintage diner pieces were picked up (plates and bowls @ 2 for 25 cents and 2 for 50 cents :) .. afterward we ventured to the Goodwill and I spied a hobnail (double) white bedspread.  Impressed, I checked the tag .. it read 'Dog Blanket' .. $1.99.  What?  I had stumbled on a rack of older bedspreads that the store thought would make good pet bedding.  Well, I checked the bedspread over pretty well (no fleas;) .. just a few small surface stains near the top edge.  After treating the spots and adding a smidgen of bleach with the blanket in the washing machine .. viola .. a perfectly good spot free bedspread .. with just a few minor snags.  A similar spread was priced at $58 when this bed was added to our guest room.  What do you think?  Is it a keeper?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

If Ever ...

Photo by Mrs. Mac
my stove stops working completely, I'd search high and low for something like this .. then do a little remodel in the kitchen area to make a free standing wood cook stove fit in.  Of course, then I'd need a summer kitchen on a closed in porch for cooking when it's warm outside ... canning day would not require an apology for such a mess in the kitchen should company drop by :) ... you've read the story, "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie" .. or .. " ...a Duck a Doughnut .. or ... Moose a Muffin" ... one thing leads to another.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Homemakers Movement

I have been so pleased in recent months to see the number of women making their way .. or deciding from the get-go to be keepers at home.  With that said, there are still areas in my own home that need work. 

Organic Fruit Snack (barely touched while I was away)!
Earlier this month I was gone for nearly four days.  While I was pleased to have the family step up and take care of our youngest (disabled) child, it came at a cost meal wise.  Without my influence let's just say that highly processed foods were consumed.  It would have been best to have had some home made freezer meals available (that was not the case) .. and my family saw this as an 'opportunity' to eat junk.  I must continually teach my family about the importance of good quality food.  When 'mom' is gone, no one seems to care or make the effort to prepare nutritious meals.  More work and training needs to take place about the benefits of good nutrition, and ... yes, while junk food may not harm you if eaten every so often, I need to bridge the 'GAP' (or gape) in my family's food choices when I'm away. 

Tonight there is a sporting event on TV (don't ask ... because I don't remember;) ... pizza seems to be the food of choice.  With plenty of fresh tomatoes available, it will be homemade and healthier than from a pizzeria or the frozen food isle.  

A homemakers job is vital to the well being and health of her/his family. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Replacing Dinner Plates

Beware of Cabella's dinnerware
I'm on a roll with rants about junk products.  You have to walk through a mine field when purchasing anything these days.  Three years ago my folks gave us a nice service of stoneware dishes, purchased no less at the high end outfitter store Cabellas. While the dishes themselves seem to perform well enough in the oven/microwave/dishwasher, the moose images have just about been scraped off from occasional use.  These were never used every day.  As you can see, the picture is from a salad plate.  Needless to say, I have stopped using them for fear we have been ingesting lead paint.  The plates were made in China.  Several wildlife themed coffee mugs purchased from Cabellas should have been marked 'for decoration purposes only' ... and who would buy them knowing that?  Seems the mugs were coated with a shellac type finish so the image wouldn't rub off.  These were marked 'not dishwasher safe' ... now I know why .. tell that to kids that don't read the fine print.


Of late I've been picking up vintage odds and end pieces of Homer Laughlin, Shenango, Syracuse and various other dish brands made in the USA that once graced diners and private homes.
Homer Laughlin & Shenango

I rather like the look of mix and match .. and at 25 & 50 cents to $1 a plate on days the thrift stores give a 50% discount, you can't beat the price.
Homer Laughlin

My favorite plates are the oval diner plates made of vitreous china (the same durable product sinks and toilets are made from;).  

Jackson China, hotel supply, Portland, Oregon

They are great to heat up before use to keep the food nice and warm.

I think it's time to pay Cabella's a visit to see about getting a refund.  Buyer beware!