A Kingfisher in the Kitchen…

Vintage 1950’s Kingfisher bird illustration by Athos Menaboni

Some time ago, in a dusty section of an old antique shop, I found a broken down book full of beautiful portrait prints. The book was getting ready to be heaved into a rolling bin headed for the recycling center, along with many other books that had been damaged by a recent leak in the shop. Still on the shelf, but tagged for recycling, the fate of the bird book didn’t look good.  On the outside, it didn’t have much going for it. The spine was shredded, the cover splotchy with water stains, the dust jacket missing. But on closer inspection, with a flip through its interior pages, a little miracle had occurred. The bird bookplates inside had somehow escaped the water leaks. The images were bright and colorful and perfectly preserved. The birds fluttering among the pages, each depicted in their own natural setting with their mates and their foliage, were too beautiful to be tossed away.

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Illustrated by Southern botanical artist Athos Menaboni in the 1950’s, these bookplate prints featured a whole aviary of birds. Many were familiar… geese, hawks, doves…but some were new like this handsome duo…

I liked their spiky head feathers immediately and thought they might be part of the woodpecker family. But I was wrong. Do you know what kind of birds they are? Here are a few hints…

  1. They LOVE to fish.
  2. They come from one of the few bird species where females are more colorful than males
  3.  A grouping of them is called is called a crown.
  4. They have big heads and even bigger hairdos, not for vanity, but to accentuate their superior skills when diving for dinner.

Could you guess? Do You know it?! If you said the Eastern Belted Kingfisher then you are correct (and a wonderful birder).  The kingfishers capabilities at mealtime know no equal. They are one of the best fishermen on the planet and can gather up enough aquatic life to get a fish fry started in a jiffy. Industrious, talented and always ready to get to work on planning the possibilities of their next meal, kingfishers are wonderful kitchen role models, happiest when engaged in the food options around them. See their expressive personality in this fun two-minute video…

Ever since  I learned about these remarkable little birds I have been on the lookout for more of their images and information. Serendipity came calling the other day when I found a vintage 1970’s paper bird model of a kingfisher that had never been assembled.

How exciting! A new craft project – our very own paper kingfisher for the kitchen. Last Sunday, Bradley, the Vintage Kitchen’s resident builder of all things fun and functional, got to work assembling the new paper bird. The whole thing took 4 hours to come to life, but we shortened all that time down to just a 27-second video so that you could see how it all came together too…

Now the Vintage Kitchen has its own little symbol of industry, talent and enthusiasm flying around the kitchen and watching over all our cooking endeavors.

Usually, the birds most symbolic of the kitchen are chickens, roosters, turkeys and pheasants but I recommend the kingfisher any day. Aesop once said it is not only fine feathers that make fine birds. The effervescent kingfisher proves just that. Even though they are beautiful their abilities are even more so.

Look for more kingfisher magic coming to the shop this fall and winter. In the meantime, find their botanical print here along with others from the rescued bird book here. 

May your next cooking endeavor be as joyful and as enthusiastic as any kingfisher’s catch. Cheers to the birds who make our culinary spirits fly!


Men’s Vintage Sporting Fashions – A Nostalgic Look Back

Ms. Jeannie is perplexed. As of late, there seems to be a lot of hillbilly happening in the contemporary sporting culture. TV is packed with shows about guns, shows about catfish noodling, shows about 800 ways to camouflage your hunt.

Cut-off jean shorts and dirty t-shirts, duck-tapped boots and grungy attitudes are running rampant. All which got Ms. Jeannie wondering…whatever happened to the days of the elegant sportsman?

The Brad Pitt’s In A River Runs Through It

Scene from A River Runs Through It starring Brad Pitt

or the Henry Fonda’s of On Golden Pond?

On Golden Pond – Starring Henry Fonda

Or the Robert Redford’s in Out of Africa?

Out of Africa – Starring Robert Redford

The classic styles, the hats, the wool and the tweed, the velvet and the linen? Has refinement gotten lost somewhere down the long and dusty road of men’s sporting clothes?

Let’s take a peek at some examples…

Ms. Jeannie was reminded about an invitation she received recently to a fox hunt in the Pennsylvania countryside.  Never having been before, she was impressed that everyone participating looked like they had just stepped out of a 19th century painting like this one from Henry Thomas Alken’s…

Fox Hunting by Henry Thomas Alken

Bright red coats, top hats, tan riding britches. Hound dogs underfoot, horses brushed, braided and polished to a shine. Now this was a spectacle of elegance. There was even a ceremonial pre-hunt cocktail served in silver cups… while on horseback, we might add. It was decandant.  It was old-fashioned. It was magical. Grand animals in a grand setting.  Well done fox hunters for keeping the spirit of the sport alive…

Sport their same look with these items, available on Etsy…

60’s Wool Mens Fox Hunting Pants from GreatGuyGifts
Antique Beaver Top Hat from Threadsandpins
Vintage English Riding Jacket from eldonhill

Likewise, the fisherman of yesteryear, seemed to do it right. Wool sweaters, corduroy pants, tweed hats…  check out this 1924 advertisement for fishing tackle. He’s wearing an Oxford style shirt and a belt!

1924 Winchester Fishing Tackle Poster

Get this same look with the following items:

Antique Fly Fishing Creel from Nuvegriz
Khaki Work Shirt from lookinglasshouse
Mens German Made Olive Wool Pants from FireflyVintage

Boating never looked more picturesque than in this 1917 ad of a captain and his dog, proving that boating can still be fun even if you are wearing a bow tie!

1917 National Sportsmans’s Magazine from LastChanceAntiques

Next time you are on the water, trying wearing this…

Greek Fisherman’s Cap from PoisonPuddingFaire
Dark Blue Denimn Bowtie from Bowtie Company
Woolrich Grey Long Sleeved Shirt from CairoVintage
1960s Vintage Mens Sweater Vest from VimVigorVintage

You’ll notice in these examples that all the men pictured are wearing hats. Hats stopped being worn by men around the 1950’s. Some attribute it to JFK and his own vanity.  Apparently he liked his hair and wanted to show it off! Hence no need for a hat. As a trendsetter, others took note and the hat slowly started to fade out of popularity.

This is an interesting article on the history of the fedora…


Ms. Jeannie wants to launch a campaign to help bring the Fedora back!!! How could you resist such handsome ones as these:

Vintage Houndstooth Fedora from Basyaberkman
Men’s Vintage Brown Fedora from tangerinestyle
The Don Draper from ReroManVintage
Green Fedora Hat from kalaidascopes
Vintage Straw Men’s Fedora Hat from Marvita13

Help the cause! If you wear Fedora’s send a picture to Ms. Jeannie and she’ll post it on the blog.