At least once a summer, I read a Nancy Drew mystery. The only reason I wanted to go to school was to learn to read so I could read Nancy Drew books all by myself and not have to depend on my sister to read them to me.
Nancy showed me how mysterious and exciting life could be and how great it was to help people in trouble (even if you often got chloroformed or kidnapped or knocked on the head). The books taught me about a time already intriguingly out of date when I was reading them in the 1950s and 1960s. Those 'roadsters'! Those 'frocks'! 'Tea rooms'! They weren't dumbed down, so there were words I had to look up, new words to learn.
For just a few hours, I can pretend I'm 12 again, sitting on the Virginia Creeper covered porch with a cold Coke and a bag of chips, whiling away a summer afternoon. I spent a great deal of time sussing out non-existent mysteries in my neighborhood. I eventually graduated to wanting to be Mrs. Emma Peel, from the TV series The Avengers. Again, I fell sadly short of my ideal.
I only read and enjoy the older books, not the 1960's rewrites or the later yellow back editions. I've been quietly collecting them over the years, but the values have been creeping up. Here are two editions of The Sign of the Twisted Candles, the book I just read. The contents are identical, but the editions are different.
If you really want to get into collecting Nancy Drew books, the reference book you need is Farah's Guide, a chunkster of a book by David Farah, who apparently has no life outside of Nancy Drew. Nancy Drew books were reprinted frequently, but the publisher didn't list the print dates, only the original copyright date. Other than physical differences, you can't tell when your book was printed. Farah has researched hundreds, maybe thousands, of editions and put together this guide to unraveling the ages of your Nancy Drew books. The section on The Sign of the Twisted Candles alone is eleven pages long! Things like this confuse me, so I've never been able to tell with any certainty when my books were printed.
I also have both editions of the Nancy Drew board games, one from 1957 and one from 1959. My sister and I had one while growing up, but it disappeared from the attic at some point. I bought one and found another for my sister, I think one of the best presents I ever gave her. Occasionally, I get mine out and my husband will trounce me - every time. I still love moving the little metal cars around Moon Lake, The Haunted Bridge, The Moss-Covered Mansion, and other places from the books.
While chatting with my friend Katrina (http://piningforthewest.co.uk), I mentioned that I'd just baked some Surprise Muffins. They're masquerading as Mystery Muffins in the title of this post. She asked for the recipe, so here it is Katrina. (It's from an old Betty Crocker cookbook.) Let me know if you can't read any of it. I use the Popular Muffins version because I don't have much of a sweet tooth and the Sweet Muffins are too sweet for me. I'm also a vegan, so I substitute soy milk for dairy milk and I use an egg substitute that I make myself. It's noted in my barely legible handwriting on the recipe. I just realized that I cut the 'surprise' part off the recipe. The surprise is that you fill the muffin papers half full, put a teaspoon of your favorite jam or jelly in the center, and then fill with the rest of the batter. Surprise!