Apron Love, a Tie to the Past and Future

In 2006, Andrews McMeel published The Apron Book, trailblazing a non-existent landscape with a worldwide movement of apron love.

Seen as a symbol of drudgery and an obstacle to women’s success, the apron is being rediscovered in a new and modern context.

In recognition of the apron’s continued relevance in our daily lives, The Apron Book is releasing as a gorgeous softbound with a new foreword crafted by a dear friend, Beth Livesay.

The Apron Book
The Apron Book releases Nov. 7 and is available for presale at www.apronmemories.com

As a founding editor of apronology magazine, Beth knows aprons. For three years, we emailed of our mutual love for the humble icon and the exhilaration of the apron’s recognition as a canvas of artistic expression, the premise of the magazine. In 2011, our paths crossed, a meeting captured on video, for revisiting and recalling our excitement.

Beth and EllynAnne
Of course, when Beth and EllynAnne first met, they’d wear their favorite aprons!

Six years later and Beth is the executive editor of Nails Magazine, a professional publication showcasing nails as canvases of artistic expression. Aprons to nails puts Beth in the forefront of recognizing the possibilities of blankness, no matter the canvas.

Seeking a new perspective and voice for newly crafted edition of The Apron Book, Beth was my first and only choice. Beth’s foreword is an acknowledgment of aprons taking us back and honoring the women of earlier generations, for it is because of them that young women can make their choices in a landscape of opportunities. Aprons, writes Beth, take us forward…the only place really worth going.

Beth's nails
Beth Livesay, executive editor of Nails Magazine, coordinating her nails to the cover of The Apron Book

Please join Beth and me throughout social media as we tie one on…our aprons, of course! It’s a lovely ride, and we want you to be a part of it.

Contribute your written apron story and pictures at apronmemories.com/stories
Share your apron story recordings and videos at facebook.com/apronmemories
#theapronbook on Instagram & twitter
Gratefully, EllynAnne

About The Apron Book:

The Apron Book

Warm and inviting, but (like an apron) quite practical, The Apron Book is a celebration of a great American icon. Apron enthusiast Ellynanne Geisel, who curated the traveling exhibit, Apron Chronicles, returns us to hearth and home in this updated edition of the award-winning book. In this paperback edition, EllynAnne reflects on the grassroots movement of apron love in a new introduction, and a new foreword by the former editor of Apronology magazine expounds on EllynAnne’s mantra that aprons don’t hold us back; they take us back because the connection to the past is a strong one.

The Apron Book showcases full-color photos of new and vintage aprons from Geisel’s vast collection, patterns for four basic apron styles and myriad variations, recipes, tips on collecting and preserving vintage aprons, and heart-tugging stories from the traveling apron exhibit. The book also explores the history and heyday of aprons and looks at the various roles aprons still play when worn in the kitchen, around the house, by the backyard grill, on the job, or for a special occasion.

Available To Order:

Order at Amazon.com

Order at Barnes & Noble

Order at Indiebound

Order at Booksamillion.com

Order at Andrews McMeel

Setting the Table

The Seder is a meal of ritual.  While there can be some playing around with the menu, sacrosanct are the serving of matzo ball soup and the absence of flour in any recipe.

Never a fan of the matzo ball, I handed off this part of the meal for many years to a friend’s mother, who was delighted to bring her specialty to the table. Sadly, Sibi died and with her went the BEST matzo ball soup in the world, this according to my family. Sibi’s replacement soup provider arrives with two pots still bubbling from her stove, as well as her own ladle. Such preparedness is my own little prayer answered.

Baking a flourless dessert is, thankfully, not the hassle of years ago.

This recipe from Country Living magazine is my go-to. It’s a cake so delicious as to deserve an appearance more than once a year.

Chocolate-Almond Torte

Special equipment – a spring form cake pan

2 sticks unsalted butter cut into small pieces

9 ounces good quality dark chocolate, chopped

6 large eggs, separated

2/3 cup superfine sugar

½ cup fined ground almonds

· Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10” spring form cake pan.

· In a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, melt butter and chocolate together. Stir until smooth. Set bowl aside to cool.

· In another bowl, whisk egg yolks with sugar until pale and fluffy. Gradually pour melted chocolate mixture into egg mixture, stirring constantly. Now, fold in the almonds. Set bowl aside.

· In a large bowl, using an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture until just combined.

· Pour this mixture into the spring form pan and bake for 35 minutes. (torte will be very moist in the middle).

· Cool in the pan about 1 hour. Then undo spring form. Now you have the torte on the pan bottom. Slide a spatula (or long piece of dental floss) to loosen the torte from the bottom. Then use the spatula to push/slide the torte onto a serving plate.

In a corner of the dining room is the dessert table. The torte offers a wonderful landscape for a plop of whipped cream with a sprinkle of blackberries and raspberries.


Passover co living www

For those who believe fruit is dessert – a peach compote with a side of macaroon. Fresh mint is a pretty topper for both desserts.

With the meal in hand, I can revel in setting the table with an heirloom embroidered cloth, not of my own inheritance, but of a purchase at a second hand store. Cast off by one family, it is a part of my family’s holiday table.

table cloth closeup www (Small)

Such beauty reminds me of the importance of remembering those who once graced our tables at holidays and how filling their seats with new families and friends is a testament to their memories…like a good matzo ball, gone but never forgotten.

Whether searching for the Passover matzo or a golden Easter egg, may this year’s holiday be beautifully blessed.

xx EllynAnne

A Musing New Year’s Eve

As a child, I remember visiting Daddy at his work place – a smallish, wooden building divided into an entrance space, where he measured his children’s growth and wrote out the date, name and height on the side of a door that led to his office space, a tight configuration of a drafting table, stool, telephone and thumbtacked to the wall at eye level, a pin up calendar of the naughty-but-nice genre so popular during the Forties and Fifties.

VINTAGE CALENDAR PIN UP 1955 www (Medium) 

Such illustrations are highly valued by collectors of pin up art, but my purchase of this Gil Elvgren calendar was purely for the nostalgia and the memories it evoked of my dad.

Memories are at the heart of what inspire my creative ventures. But not always are the recollections mine – which accounts for the floor to ceiling bins and cabinets overflowing with inspirational collections of vintage magazines, books, patterns, tins, barrettes, fabric, cake toppers, sewing baskets, lunch boxes, valises, hot pads, hair dryers, aprons… I revel in the cacophony, which is well and very good, except that it has moved outward from my writing room to an adjacent room, a space uninhabitable for the past seven years, and one my prince charming has requested be reinstated as a communal area.

At the time I agreed to clearing the room, I had the best intention to do so; however, the promised date of reclamation is tomorrow – the first day of the new year – and I am not much into the task.

Rather, I am into musing, and perfect to that mind-set has been going

Hopper portrait_woman staring out window

through a cache of cardboard boxes a-jumble with memorabilia, all catalogued by my parents, who saved everything, including several hundred rsvp cards to my wedding in 1975. Almost to a one, those who regretted provided a handwritten explanation, but it was a typewritten response that caught my attention

img027 (Medium)

Despite the gritty sentiment, Robert hadn’t made it, and thirty-seven years later, I wondered what my former fashion illustration instructor was up to. The internet yielded a single match to my google. Leaving a message on the phone service provided, I hoped at the least for a courtesy call back from a stranger also named Robert Carreon. 

Instead, “Google” Robert is my Robert!

Revealed in our catching up is Robert’s mission of producing theatrical properties by emerging voices, many of which include collective memories. When he said that, my heart leapt. I told him of my twelve-year apron journey, the discovery that the apron is a memory trigger and a connector to those of earlier generations, and the storytellers I’ve met along the way.

This story has a happy ending: Robert has invited me to join him on a journey to bring my aprons and the voices woven into their fabric to a platform where it will be heard.

But as with any journey, there’s a long road ahead with many twists and turns and no guarantees. However, the only way to get “there” is one step at a time. This task I am up to. The room clearing will have to wait.

Happy New Year towel www 

xx EllynAnne

A Christmas Apron Story

Mrs. Martha Marie Pugh wrote to me in 2006, sharing her story
in elegant cursive. When I mentioned her exquisite handwriting
to Drucilla, Mrs. Pugh’s daughter-in-law, she said such grace was extraordinary, given the tremendous starkness of her mother-in-law’s young life in Pawnee, Oklahoma. Even more exceptional is that
from such a hardscrabble world, Martha Marie Barnes would later travel the world, visit England and be presented to the Queen.

I was born in 1931, during the Great Depression. Santa did not show up at our house with a big bag of gifts. My parents, however, did see that my brother and I got at least one gift.

The Christmas when I was 4 years old, my gift was a little pink apron trimmed in white rickrack. I loved it and showed it to everyone. It meant so much to me, I wore it until it was falling apart.

Martha Marie Barnes Pugh and her mother 1934-35

Martha Maria and her mother, 1934-35


That little apron was such a sacrifice for my parents. I can’t imagine what they did without so I might not be disappointed on Christmas morning.

 It was my best Christmas present ever.





Learning to Balance

Sometimes bad things things just plain happen, and so it is with the tragic death of my younger brother’s wife. Paul and his children bore their loss so bravely at a memorial in Greensboro, North Carolina, and the next day, at the ancestral cemetery in Beaufort, South Carolina.

Following the service, the multi-generational gathering strolled as one through rows of family headstones dating to the 1800s. In the cool of the hanging moss trees, the eldest relatives repeated the colorful stories that perpetuate our memories of the deceased. Interrupting

one another, they debated whether it was a sweet potato or regular spud a cousin had worn under his hat to ward off illness. Their narratives concluded as the last of us passed through the cemetery’s double wrought iron gates. An entrance of such solemnity but a moment before, the gateway was now the exit through which walked a family and the promise of its future.

A trip to Beaufort is never complete without a drive by the home where my father and his siblings were born and raised. As with many humble clapboards in small southern towns, this one experienced several upgrades and renovations. Daddy loved going by the house. Parked across the street, he would point at one window or another and describe the interior as he remembered it. Despite our volunteering to ring the bell and ask the present owner for a walk through, he always shook his head at the offer. His memories of home were more than enough.

Driving further south with my sister and her family, I was the lookout for the roadside peach stand. Nearing the Florida state line and having given up on such a sighting, I saw the sign at a gas station set back on the highway. For genuine Georgia peaches, there is no such thing as too far off the road.
The Peach Boyz were adorable, which certainly worked in their favor, as a bucket was $7.00…not exactly a bargain.

But, lo! Peach Boyz were raising money to assist in their college education costs. And it was our pleasure to help with the effort. Two buckets of peaches and a bucket of tomatoes = a fool is born every second.

A Coke stop down the road required an accompanying snack, of which there is bin upon bin to choose from, especially if one is partial to curly fried thingees. Thank heavens for Lanz peanut butter and cheese crackers!
My sister’s home is on the beach, and from the back deck is this view, perfect for sitting and watching waves and thinking about our brother and his children. No longer as a table with four sturdy legs, it will take them a while to find balance.
I’m home now, and this is the view I’m facing:
Home. It’s where the laundry is and our memories reside.


Tie One On…an apron, of course!

Christmas Jewels

Two blocks down and one block over from my home is the Beauty Chalet, an old fashioned beauty parlor with two wash, cut and curl stations and four chairs with attached bonnet dryers. For years, my mother-in-law had a weekly appointment at the parlor, and I was her transportation.

As her escort, I’d usually just take her into the salon, leave and return an hour or so later. Except in December, when I would stay through her appointment and after, because that’s when Ellen Donaldson and Judy Krasovec, the owners, put up the jewelry tree, a wall hanging made entirely of costume jewelry donated by their customers.
The first time I saw the tree, I asked Judy about its history. Her eyes shimmered with tears as she recalled the women whose jewelry made up the tree and how all of them were no longer here to enjoy it.
To see the tree in person is mesmerizing. Tiny colored lights create prismatic reflections in Lucy Caffaro’s Austrian crystal earrings, dazzling the Eisenberg earrings donated by Mary and Dorothy Dunlap, and illuminating the jewelry of Leotus Seybold, Nona Miller, Erline Darris and Maurine Miller.

My mother-in-law died two years ago, but come December, I still walk down to the Beauty Chalet to experience this truly beautiful display and tribute.