Steamer Trunks

The name steamer trunk is frequently misused. Many people tend to generalize and call all old trunks steamer trunks; but a true steamer trunk is about half the height of most regular flat top trunks because they were used by passengers in their quarters during steamship voyages. Everything they would need during the voyage would be packed in that trunk and it was allowed in their room. Their other trunks, if they had them, were stored in the cargo hold and were not accessible during the journey. So, the term is associated with steam ships but not all trunks that traveled on steamships were steamers.

The classic flat top trunks we generally think of as steamer trunks were made from about the 1870s to around 1920. These trunks were the workhorses of that period, although flat trunks have been around since the very earliest Egyptian trunks. Another popular design during the flat top’s heyday had a rounded top. There are many stories to explain why the popularity of trunk design went from flat top stagecoach design to the round tops and humpbacks. Some say these rounded trunks came about because people were fed up with baggage handlers stacking their trunks and damaging them, so the round top evolved. It probably took porters about half-a-minute to tip the trunks over on their side and continue stacking them. Maybe that’s why flat top trunks came back into fashion.

Flat top trunks make beautiful coffee tables, and can be used to store blankets or toys. Adding a classic trunk to a room adds charm and a little history to the space. It even brings a touch of glamor, as we imagine the ocean liners the trunks traveled on and the items they carried.

Regular Saturday Fix

If you’re looking for a real, made from scratch breakfast to start your day, saunter on in to Mainstreet Restaurant. Let me tell you why. The other day I wanted pancakes. You know the kind – they fill up an entire plate and don’t come from a mix. And I didn’t want Aunt Jemima to pour on top – I wanted real butter and authentic maple syrup. Mainstreet has a wonderful variety of pancakes – fruit, sourdough, buttermilk and rye. I chose the sourdough, with it’s delicious tanginess which goes beautifully with the sweet from the syrup. In addition to the griddle favorites, they offer the usual breakfast meat choices along with applewood smoked pork loin. Since they smoke their meats in-house, I felt the pork loin would be the best choice and I was not disappointed. Delicious! Affordable! It’s my regular Saturday fix. Maybe it should become yours.

Meet Me in Idaho Springs: Good Answer

Ericka Van Dreyton was never one to take the bait, as it were.  This guy, who looked a little like Ryan Reynolds, by the way, obviously thought that his card left on the table was her cue to call him.  She’d been carrying the card around in her coat pocket for a week, and had decided she definitely would not call him … today.  Halloween was soon on the menu and in Idaho Springs that meant shop windows strewn with cobwebs and cat-sized spiders hanging from ceilings.  There was a festive spirit of goblins lurking around corners and ghosts dancing in the street.  Idaho Springs was a town built into the mountainside, houses tucked into the nooks and crannies, with hidden mines at the end of every other street.  Ricky looked across the way at the waterwheel that was still turning despite the cooler temperatures, the sun streaking its timbers with promise of a warm day.  She made a stop at the Wild Grape in search of a Birthday gift for her sister, then wandered through Canyon Outfitters to see if they still had the tooled, silver studded handbag that she had decided she couldn’t live without.  Purchases made, she stopped in for a hello to Asta at Java Mountain Roasters and one of her famous Pumpkin Spice Lattes.  The roasting was done and the whole shop was scented with coffee magic as one of the girls ground beans for a customer.  Ricky sat down at a table to wait for a break in the counter action and that’s when she spotted him, the Ryan Reynolds knock off.  He was going to think she was following him.  She walked over to his table and waited for him to look up.  “I just wanted you to know,” Ricky explained, “that I just happened in here.  I’m not following you.”  He smiled – disarming – annoying. “I didn’t think you were following me,” Ryan said.  “But it would be fine if you were.”  “Good answer,” Ricky said, then went and sat down at another table.

Henry Plummer

Henry Plummer left his native Maine as a young man and came to the West, poor and alone, journeying from one place to another, seeking his fortune. He came to Idaho Springs during the Colorado gold rush of 1859 and and made a claim on Chicago Creek. With hard work, panning in the creek, Plummer extracted gold amounting to about $30,000, which became the foundation of his independent fortune. He served as the town’s first banker as well as one of the first City Council members. In the early 1880s, Plummer purchased and developed commercial properties along Miner Street such as his own business at 1518 Miner St., Henry Plummer & Co., Flour, Hay, Grain & Coal. This building is now occupied by Mainstreet Restaurant. Next time you come in for breakfast, take just a moment to read the historic marker on the Plummer Building. Rich history is all around in Idaho Springs.

Caffè Macchiato

An espresso (or caffè) macchiato is espresso with the smallest addition of milk. The classic is a shot of espresso with a dollop of foam on top. 

Macchiato simply means ‘marked’ or ‘stained’, and in the case of an espresso macchiato, it’s espresso marked or stained with milk – only about a teaspoon. In fact, a caffè macchiato in Portuguese is named café pingado which means coffee with a drop.

For the coffee snob (which is not a bad thing, please keep in mind ~ it’s simply an elite group) one only drinks milk-based espresso drinks before noon.  The cappuccino (with more milk than the macchiato) is the first cup to linger over with your morning pastry. The macchiato is the second cup with a little less milk around mid-morning. That’s the drink to have at around 10 A.M. and  after that it should be espresso with no milk for the rest of the day. This is for the true espresso connoisseur, mind you.

For the rest of us who drink what we like when we like it, any time of day is the perfect time for a macchiato. Drink what suits your tastes, and then drink it often.

A Touch of Glamour

Sometimes the smallest changes make for the best results. For instance, creating a place in your bedroom where you can shut out the noise and hustle of the world and quietly prepare for what’s on your calendar can set the proper tone for your whole day. You don’t have to change your entire house or even your whole room, just that one corner that you claim as your space, and yours alone. An antique dressing table can help you make that space come alive with glamour and charm. Today this table is called a vanity table; in the 19th century, it was known as a dressing table; but in the 18th century, it was a toilet table.  A mirror that could be tipped for a better view was attached to the top of the table by the 1750s. Thomas Chippendale designed a “toylet” table in 1762 that had not only a mirror but also a fancy, ruffled fabric skirt. Whatever style suits you, giving new life to an old vanity/dressing table can lend new life to your personal space. Go ahead – create that charming, glamorous corner. You deserve it.