Posts Tagged 'domesticity who knew'


I have postcards all around my office. Some of them are antique, framed ones, showing photos of places that were near a camp I used to be a counselor at. Others are of bookish things from the British Isles. Still others are art postcards, bought when a local artist’s work delighted me, or a museum had a postcard of a particularly meaningful painting. I’m in the process of making more room in my office, and find that I’ll need to have a postcard framing and hanging afternoon, hopefully when it’s icky outside.

Artists whose postcards I’ve collected:

Martha Dougherty is a contemporary artist who does lovely watercolors set in Baltimore, Maryland — both interior views and external street scenes. Truly lovely. Here’s another one [Madison at Charles Street]. In some of the saturated street scenes, she’s the artist whose work is the closest reflections of the way I see color in landscapes. Very interesting. Linda Hall is another contemporary artist who does watercolors in Chestertown, Maryland.

So, have you collected postcards? If so, are they just mementos of places you’ve been, scenery you love, mail you received from loved ones, or affordable art?



Giving thanks

It’s been a very long weekend (family visits, inflatable mattress in the office, lots of baking, to-and-fro-ing). Over the river and through the woods, only now my Aunt is the grandmother in the song.

Our house is still cleaner than it was 2 weeks ago, and we’ve swapped out the multicolored ears of corn on the doorway for a giant Christmas wreath. And before I get swept up in a search for the Christmas ornaments, and a good location for the tree … I’m going to spend the last few waking ours of this weekend being thankful.

The in laws came, so we terrorized the kitten with the inflatable mattress in the office, and it’s been a whirlwind of preparing dishes for one potluck dinner after another. The last dinner was with my family, accompanied by some pretty heavy discussions of the kinds that families have.

I’m thankful I live near enough to visit family and friends. I’m thankful the kitten didn’t manage to bite my father-in-law. Very grateful that I wasn’t responsible for either of the Thanksgiving feasts.

I’m thankful that I live in a mostly peaceful area, where things aren’t perfect, but people are trying to make things better.

Foods we baked this weekend:

  • Dates stuffed with manchego cheese and wrapped with bacon (on a friend’s bar-b-que)
  • Spoonbread (Fannie Farmer’s recipe –> and oldie, but a goodie)

If you’re in a region that celebrated Thanksgiving, hope it was wonderful. If you aren’t, I hope you were able to have a peaceful time.

The importance of pie crust

I’m not sure if it was Erma Bombeck or the 1965 version of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook or my mom* who taught me this, but:

If you make enough dough for a double crust pie, and you only use one of the crusts for your custard pie, flatten the rest into a disk and freeze it for later.

Tasty, quick quiche

Tasty, quick quiche

Today, the pie dough I froze in November was used to make a quiche. Our neighborhood has been hit by more drenching ice, sleet, and freezing rain, so there was no hope of catching a quick dinner at a local restaurant. Luckily we had enough eggs, milk, asparagus, mushrooms and cheddar. Along with a loaf of bread bought during the buy one, get one half off sale on Sunday after the last storm.

To everyone on the east coast: hang tight. I’ve heard a rumor that Spring is around the corner.

*It probably was Mom. She was a dietitian with a streak of practicality. Wrap the pastry well, in a double wrap of plastic wrap or wax paper, and put it in a plastic freezer bag.

States of Flux

Change is in the wind. Family members are downsizing, which means we are downsizing our expectations of where we go for holidays. Although it may also mean opening up our lives and our home to be the “place” where people come for the holidays.

I think it will take a while for me and The Gardener to process that. Not to mention organizing our lives and the rooms in the house so we can feel confident inviting people over for dinner.

Confuse a cat, January 2015

In a fit of New Year’s cleaning, we decided to donate a table and a few chairs to a charity. Today, the nice people in their truck came to take them all away. The cat cave disappeared while Leia was asleep. The Gardener and I wonder when she will wreak her vengeance. The other cats just think we’re moving again, and they’re lying low.

There has been a disturbance in The Force

There has been a disturbance in The Force

Quince rosehip jelly

Now that all recipients have received their gifts…

Peel and core 5 large quinces. Cover with water. Add 10 dried rosehips from the garden (after removing the stems and the dried sepals, and giving them a quick rinse).

Boil/simmer for an hour. Mash the pulp once it is soft.

Drain through a strainer into a bowl. Cover so no cat hair gets in the strainer (maybe that’s just my house). Use a nonreactive strainer like a jelly bag. The next morning, measure out how much juice you’ve gotten, and pour into a nonreactive pot. Add about half the same amount of sugar (i.e., 1/2 cup of sugar to 1 cup of juice) and the juice of one lemon. Watch carefully, and once it hits the jelly stage (I used a candy thermometer for this, as well as the cold spoon and dropping a little into cold water to see the pattern it makes) take it off the heat and put into prepared canning jars with sterilized lids.

It turned out lovely.

I have other fruit in the refrigerator, and I hope to make it into something useful later.

Counting down the hours

It’s the last day of 2014, and we’ve:

Sunset on the first day of January 2014.

Sunset on the first day of January 2014.

  • Sent out charitable donations
  • Sorted the clothing closet (found some shirts that magically fit again)
  • Made ham soup with beans and squash cubes
  • Made a new batch of granola

Unfortunately, I’ve caught a cold so I’m staying indoors away from crowds.

I am holed up with tea, and reading The Women by TC Boyle (a novel about Frank Lloyd Wright and the women who surrounded him, or got sucked into his strange world through obsession or plain luck (good or bad, you decide). So far, it’s interesting, although a I’m a bit put off by Wright’s character and the narrator’s introduction.

Normally I’d want to be at a museum today, but I’m staying in. I’ve been exploring museums online, looking at examples of needlework. For instance, The American Museum in Bath, England (difficult for me to get to, but someone else in the UK might have a wonderful time) is putting together an exhibit that looks lovely. When I worked in the museum industry, people loved exhibits that dealt with mourning clothes, or wedding garb, or christening dresses and gifts. This one explores all three with historic costumes and quilts.  Another resource for needlework is the Permanent Collection of the Embroiderer’s Guild of America. I’m inspired and daunted by the floral basket on black silk, which was stitched by Edith Martin, circa 1890, and eying details of the National Tapestry Project (the fox is great). I’m also intrigued by this online exhibit about the lacework of St. Gallen (I did not know about chemical lace before).

So, I’m entertaining myself with the last day of the year, and gearing up for a new one to come. I wish all of my blog visitors a happy and healthy 2015.

After driving back over the rivers and through the woods

treeornament2014The Jersey Pinelands are technically woods, and we did see a bit of the Poconos … Christmas Eve, we decorated M and D’s tree. Then we drove over to church to enjoy a lovely service and listen to M in the choir. Christmas Day, Julekake was eaten at breakfast, complete with geitost on top and strong coffee to drink. Christmas gifts were unwrapped, with the miracle of two pairs of identical gloves being given to M (everyone laughed). There was the “new to me” event of putting someone’s laptop on the table during Christmas dinner, so a family member could dial in an be present on video. Boxing day, after all the excitement, was so much more relaxed.

As usual, after a family get-together, I’m given either some needleworking tool that was used by someone in the 1950s, or a piece of needlework no one knows what to do with. This year, I scored one size 13 Boye crochet hook (not the USA size at all), as well as several others of unmarked size with needle covers. As a result, while happily searching around for information on the internet, I found this lovely site about crochet, filled with pictures of crochet as well as data on crochet hooks.

Yesterday was spent making Lucia bread in my own kitchen (very late for the season, but oh so good). And today, now that the rains have stopped, I think we will finally get a walk outdoors after all the time cooped up in houses or in a car to get to places. Although the Gardener did get to plant some rescued plants from the family garden (her version of crochet hooks of antiquity, perhaps).

I hope your holidays, whatever they might be, were filled with happiness and visits with family and friends. More about recent knitting once the project is done (although, why is the second sock always smaller, and should I just go up a size when I start the second one?).


6 jars of jelly


5 presents wrapped

4 last-minute robocalls (yes, I already gave…)

3 curious cats (they’ve seen the tree)

2 cookie batches (sugar cookies, Moravian Christmas Cookies… and Jul Konfekt, which is chocolate, but not a cookie)

And one heck of a Christmas tree.

I’m wishing you and yours a beautiful Christmas Eve, a happy Christmas day, and a happy and a healthy New Year! We’re going to celebrate, now that the work is over.

Getting ready – 22 December

… otherwise known as the importance of ground cloves.


Moravian Christmas Cookies, made with a recipe from Winston-Salem, NC. Thank heavens Mom already did the math and reduced the amount of flour, molasses, etc. used (although I think I flubbed on the amount of spicing –> it really should be 1 Tbs each of ground ginger, cloves, and cinnamon. Kids, don’t try to make Christmas cookies after 9 PM after a full day of work.). So they’re subtly flavored, and not rolled thin enough. Next year, I’ll use the northern recipe. It’s a bit easier for me to handle. Christmas prep continues. Yes, there are socks that will not be done in time. (Cookie countdown: 2 varieties. Possibly 1 more to go, and the fast and easy Danish chocolates.)