Monday, October 18, 2010

sounds disgusting, but...

Followers of this blog know that I'm currently dirt poor, and that the employer who hired me won't be requiring my services until the beginning of November, which leaves me half a month to figure out what I can do to earn a bit of cash in the meantime. The two avenues I've been pursuing are (1) finding a job that starts immediately (which might mean ditching the current employer), and (2) finding household items to sell on eBay.

I've transferred many of the items that were on my auction blog to my eBay shops, and am currently digging around the house for other items to sell. There's plenty of potential material, and two significant finds came from the attic this morning. The first was a perfectly preserved 1893 "Landing of Columbus" 2-cent commemorative stamp (1492-1892), still on piece (i.e., still on the envelope), and unmarred by a cancel mark. The envelope has postmarks on both sides; the letter inside it has gone missing, but was addressed to Ann ("Am."?) J. Simmons of 305 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn. A quick look online shows that the stamp itself probably won't sell for much: about 30 cents, and Brit sites seem to corroborate this (see the listing for "purple" here). The 1893 postmarks add some cachet.

[NB: The above information was changed to redress a severe misreading on my part.]

The second found item was a scrapbook, apparently compiled by a long-dead ancestor, that contains clippings from newspapers and magazines from the 1870s through the early 1890s. This relative is probably the same one who collected all those 1890s-era cabinet cards (teaser here). The scrapbook itself has not aged well, and is in fact falling apart, but it served its purpose: most of the clippings inside it are nearly perfectly preserved. Among the clippings are:

1. A November 19, 1891 article about the death of playwright and comedian William Florence.

2. A September 1, 1892 article (a long one!) about the life and death of public intellectual George William Curtis.

3. A page of clippings from August and September 1892 about the arrival of "Asiatic cholera" on American and English shores.

4. A September 8, 1892 article about the knockout of famous bare-knuckle boxer John L. Sullivan.

5. A March 22, 1891 article recounting a talk by a certain Colonel Hemstreet. The topic: Colonel Hemstreet's eye-witness account of, and ruminations about, General Sherman's (in)famous march. (Hemstreet was Union, so you can guess what he thought of Sherman's campaign. See a reference here.)

6. A February 19, 1891 article about General Sherman's funeral(!!!!).

7. Several articles about the life and death of Mrs. Henry Ward Beecher.

8. Other Beecher-related articles-- Edward Beecher, Herbert Beecher, et al.

9. Plenty of slice-of-life articles and political cartoons.

10. A March 27, 1889 article on the death of orator John Bright.

11. An (1889?) article titled "Babies of the White House," about the children of President Benjamin Harrison.

12. A November 22, 1886 article about the funeral of President Chester A. Arthur.

13. An 1893 article titled "Four Years More," about Grover Cleveland winning a second (and non-consecutive!) presidential term.

14. A November 2, 1887 article about the death of singer Jenny Lind.

15. Several 1887 articles about the dying and death of preacher Henry Ward Beecher.

16. An article dated October 28, 1886, with the misspelled title "Unvailed," about the unveiling of Bartholdi's Statue of Liberty.

...and more!

But that's not the reason why I'm writing this post. No: the real reason for this post is to announce that, in order to help celebrate my brother Sean's 31st birthday (October 15), I baked a cake. Not just any cake, mind you: as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I'm destitute, and am currently out of eggs. What to do in such a situation, if you're trying to bake a cake?

My first thought, which horrified me as it will doubtless horrify you, too: mayonnaise.

It's essentially eggs and oil, after all, and both ingredients go into cake. So I typed "mayonnaise cake" into Google to see whether my idea was crazy. As it turns out, chocolate mayonnaise cake is a classic Southern dish. Go figure. I used a straightforward recipe found at, and the results turned out far better than anticipated. The cake smelled a bit strange while baking, but its texture, when done, was moist and creamy, with no mayonnaise-y undertone. The eggs and oil blended right in with the rest of the ingredients, and Sean enjoyed his first-ever bite of chocolate mayonnaise cake.

If you're ever out of eggs, but have plenty of mayo, this is the way to go.


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