Thursday, May 05, 2016

Dinette Cookery

After the wedding Giles and Tia will take up residence in a tiny apartment Tia has charmingly dubbed "The Dollhouse". The kitchen is brand new and very nice--not very large, of course, and has a tiny table for dining.

What a mercy I ran across an entire chapter on "Dinettes" in a vintage cookbook this week. The author does her level 1934 best to cheer and exhort homemakers who suddenly find themselves downsized from a full kitchen and dining room. Here she is, looking on the bright side:


• Everyday diners have a way of tasting better when served in the dinette.

• Dinette cookery requires the intimate touch of individuality, even to the pots and pans used in the kitchenette.

• It is next to impossible to serve a formal type of dinner, with several courses, in dinette style.

• Much planning must be done ahead of time, if the dinette dinner is to be successful.

• Space is at a premium, and must be planned to create the idea of leisure, hospitality and intimacy.

• There is something chummy and friendly about dining in a dinette--something akin to dining out in a corner of a hotel dining room or tea room.

• An excellent cup of coffee compensates for many other deficiencies.

-- Jessie Marie Deboth, The Fashion Book of Recipes

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Almost a Library


We're creeping towards the finish line on the toy-room-to-library transformation up under the eaves. We'll have shiny white paint everywhere, two walls of shelves loaded with books, floral oil paintings on every blank wall, darling purple velvet couches facing each other under the skylights, and room to read and think and talk . . . when we get done.

Clara and I painted hard this afternoon (she painted harder because my neck gave out). Our goal is to paint the floors right before we leave for the wedding, and that will be it.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Felix with Coffee


It's been a treat having Felix spend a few weeks here (he's usually out of the country). He works most of the day in his room, but always comes down for the 11:00 pot of coffee Clara and I treat ourselves to. You can see he's claimed the brown mug for his own.


He leaves in a week and half to head up towards The Wedding (we will follow a bit later). He's in charge of planning the bachelor party--a three-day sail around Long Island Sound. He heads straight from the wedding for Kenya, but we will see him again after that, and have coffee together again.

Monday, May 02, 2016

It's Bouquet Season Again


Clara put this together yesterday: roses, peonies, pink sage, and various herbs.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Repose


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Dinner in the Bistro with Sister


Every night, while it's nice, we have dinner outside in the bistro. Sister always suns herself just out of reach, while we eat and, and secretly long to have her in our laps.


Then, after we've finished, Daisy makes the catch. She gets her fill of love and then passes Sister around the table and we each get our turn.

Also, although there's no photo for this, if we have an extra chair Fitzwilliam frequently takes a seat with us and looks around.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Painting Peonies



I took this bouquet of peonies with me to the art studio and set it up on black cloth,


then painted this.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Simple Yogurt

I've been making all of our yogurt for the last several months, with great success. I calculate that I'm saving at least  $700 a year, which is a little alarming. We were eating three single-serving cups of Fage yogurt a day. Lots of money, and lots of plastic trash (my grocery store only offers non-fat Fage in the bigger container. If I want fat, I have to buy the small).

So here's my super-simple method. I use an enameled cast-iron pot (it's an off-brand Le Creuset) and pour an entire gallon of organic whole milk in it. I put it over a medium heat and set the timer for 25 minutes. Meanwhile I get out my previous batch of yogurt and remove a heaping spoonful of it, and place it in a glass measuring cup with a spout, and leave it out on the counter.

When the milk has started to steam (be sure and jiggle the pot and get down at eye level to see if it makes a little steam), I turn off the flame and set the timer for another 25 minutes.  When the timer buzzes, I stick my clean finger in the milk. If it's too hot for comfort, I give it another ten minutes of cooling time. If, however, I can leave my finger in for three seconds, I move to the next step.

Which is to ladle out a cup of hot milk and put it in the glass measuring cup with my spoonful of yogurt. I stir this gently with a spoon, just breaking the yogurt up into small pieces, then pour all that back into the big pot and swirl it around a little.

Then the lid goes on the pot, the pot gets set in my Crock-Pot over an inch of water set to the "Keep Warm" setting, and an old bath towel goes over the whole thing. I leave it all day (or all night). Ten to twelve hours.

At the end of that time, I put my big colander in my stockpot, and line the colander with a large thin dishtowel. I dump all the yogurt in, and refrigerate it. In another ten to twelve hours, I have a large quantity of unbelievably delicious Greek yogurt. Very firm, tart, and thrifty. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Cheery New Napkins


I made new napkins. I had to. Bella's been giving our old ones the scornful eye for quite a while, and dropping hints about the exciting new birthday present I could expect.

One yard of 45-inch wide fabric cut into just-about-squares made nine napkins, hemmed with a narrow hem. These are all cotton, which is the only way to go, and very hard to find in out in a store.

Friday, April 22, 2016

The New Buff Orpingtons


 Daisy picked up her day-old chicks today--twenty soft and fluffy Buff Orpingtons. We have learned from last year's Chick Disaster and hope to bring all of these to maturity. For now, they're in the mud room.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Our Days in Boston


We stayed with the Composer's first cousin once-removed (fancy for his dad's cousin) in a little township west of Boston. I'd never been to New England before and was unprepared for the late-winter beauty of the still-bare hardwood forests, the pristine white buildings, and the stonework.


Cousin Robert is a historic preservationist so we kind of landed on our feet there in terms of old buildings! They put us up in the Shaker house they hauled over the highway and attached to their home. Beautiful.


 Tuesday we stopped by the *really* old house Robert has been restoring for seven years (that's his job). These are the set kettles in the basement--so handy for your cheese-making.



We were nearby, so we stopped at Fruitlands, the failed Transcendental utopia perched on a barren hillside, where Bronson Alcott dragged his long-suffering family. I've never been a fan of his.


Then we went into Concord and saw every inch of Orchard House, Louisa May Alcott's family home. 80% of the furnishings were used by the Alcott family. There were Flying Geese quilts on the beds that apparently Marmee had stitched.


No pictures were allowed in the house, but this is the charming exterior (I dressed to match the front door).


That evening we came back to our hosts' home and the Composer walked over to the common. The church was open and he was invited in to play the organ! Sadly I missed it as I was cooking dinner for us all.




I couldn't get over how much history is still standing around there. Here's the stone pen for any stray animals that wandered around--they were impounded and their owners had to spring them with a fee.


We completed our Boston adventures by shopping at two choice fabric stores--Mercer Fabrics in Beacon Hill (multiple stars for its friendly proprietor and fine selection--stop in if you're around and pick up one of their totally charming calling cards with a hedgehog on it). The other was Gather Here, in Cambridge--bigger, with a few more basics, but not half the cozy charm of Mercer!



Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Composer's Big Run


Whew! We all survived the Boston Marathon! It's such a large event that we actually got to see very little of it. We dropped the Composer off in Hopkinton near the start line, then drove to a village train station to ditch the car and take the train into the city's North Station. With the wonderful marathon app, we we got a notification every time the Composer passed a 5k mark. So fun!

Also, Giles had us tracking our fantasy family team--he found runners named Anna, Giles, Felix, Clara, Bella, Tia, etc. and we kept an eye on them also. Clara made very good time. 

We had time for a relaxed lunch and a walk all the way across town to the finish line. We had to go through Boston Commons, home of the ducks from Make Way for Ducklings, of course. I thought of Daisy.


By the time the Composer had sweated it out through 40k we had found our way to the finish line to watch. The crowd was five people deep, but folks were agreeable and allowed us right up to the rope to watch him come in.


Which he did with a smile on his face!! That's him below, waving in the white tee. He said he was *very* glad to stop running. It was a hot, sunny, windy day--beautiful for the spectators but hard on the racers. 


Some of us got worn out. In fact, we all fell asleep on the train home.


That Boston is hard work!!


Friday, April 15, 2016

I'm with Him



I'm up for the weekend to see this guy, ride up to Boston with him and Tia to watch the Composer run the Boston Marathon, then come back down to meet Tia's parents.

Also to eat Korean barbecue and Earl Grey fudge ice cream.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Clara Quilting Ravens


We've been making this quilt up as we go along. The black triangles are in the middle, and we just draw whatever lines we feel like to quilt around them. Air currents, weather maps--these are our inspirations.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Frederick Greets the Dawn


Frederick greeted the sun this morning


as I drank my tea.


Monday, April 11, 2016

Now They're Licensed


It's just a few weeks away! 

Friday, April 08, 2016

A Hundred Thousand Flowers


Lady Banks is blooming!

Thursday, April 07, 2016

A Mess of Scraps


I got in the scrap bin like a raccoon in a trash can--digging around and throwing out everything in a mess behind me.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Egg Cups for Tea


Daisy wanted a little tea party this afternoon. It was close to dinner, so food was kept on the small side. Clara filled egg cups with alternating layers of lemon curd and whipped cream, and Daisy decorated each top with a yellow jelly bean. Like a soft-boiled egg, but not.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Ashes and Roses Log Cabin Quilt



Not to be confused with this quilt, which is different. Here I grouped the pinks and grays separately.


My  mother quilted and bound this, taking it to the next level (actually she went two levels up) by inserting welting between the quilt and binding--on both sides! On the back (above) you see the gold and red silk plaid.


On the front, she added a strip of turquoise. The woman knows her way around the scrap bin.

I'll be posting this for sale later.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Roger's Afternoon


Roger had quite an afternoon. When I went out to garden I heard him calling from the barn, but he often calls to us when he hears us come outside. 

Half an hour later he still hadn't quieted down, so I walked down to find him trapped under a heavy metal bar he had somehow pulled down on himself. Fortunately he was resting on hay, and undamaged. 

A long cozy nap in my lap in the shade made everything well, and then a little extra attention from the ladies made things even better . . . .

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Sister at the Foot of the Bed


From October (kitten days): Sister crouching at the foot of Bella's bed, which is tucked up under the white eaves. Possibly the best.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Clara Embroiders a Waistband


Clara is making herself a summer dress from sage green dotted Swiss. She used the wrong side of the fabric for the waistband and is embroidering it in vines and flowers.


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