Friday, December 25, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
I've been unpacking the (yikes. ten.) boxes of Christmas decorations since the week after Thanksgiving, but it's just not Christmas until I find this little sign. Every year, I'm tempted to keep it out, but I'm afraid that I'd get used to it, and not see it with fresh eyes the way you do when you bring something special out. And this is my special Christmas thing.
Of course, I have others. And I have new treasures. Like Santa Chef. You've seen him before, but here, again, ta dah...
Friday, December 11, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
I hope the fact that I'm standing firm that doesn't make me sound Scroogey. Far from it -- this year, I'm very excited about Christmas. And I can't wait to put up Mr. and Mrs. Saint Nicholas, not to mention Chef Santa. That's him below -- at $5.00, he was another Tresori Tuesday candidate -- and his red, white and black apparel fits in perfectly with my red and black kitchen.
~ W. T. Ellis
Sunday, November 22, 2009
in disobedience to the instruction he
would have received if he had asked,
the old man got up from his bed,
dressed, and went to the barn.
The bare branches of winter had emerged
through the last leaf-colors of fall,
the loveliest of all, browns and yellows
delicate and nameless in the gray light
and the sifting rain. He put feed
in the troughs for eighteen ewe lambs,
sent the dog for them, and she
brought them. They came eager
to their feed, and he who felt
their hunger was by their feeding
eased. From no place in the time
of present places, within no boundary
nameable in human thought,
they had gathered once again,
the shepherd, his sheep, and his dog
with all the known and the unknown
round about to the heavens' limit.
Was this his stubbornness or bravado?
No. Only an ordinary act
of profoundest intimacy in a day
that might have been better. Still
the world persisted in its beauty,
he in his gratitude, and for this
he had most earnestly prayed.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
So, my sister, Susan hates me. She says I find the best bargains.
Hee. I do. We all love the St. Vincent de Paul resale shop, where both our parents have volunteered for some years, where Mom gathers up wonderful finds for all of. And whenever someone comments on my Talbot's ensemble or a great jacket we found there, I tell them it came from "Santa Vincenzo de Paolo."
But I haunt St. Vinny's myself whenever possible, and, believe me, the bargains there are amazing (Talbots skirts -- with the tags still on!). I also check in at the St. Joan of Arc Catholic church's shop near where I work and an occasional "rogue" resale shops. And if I see a estate sale on my way to work on Friday mornings, oh, what a lovely start to the weekend.
So, I'm inaugurating Tresori Tuesday. At first, I thought I'd post on Sundays, after yard sales on Saturday, and call it "Show Off Sunday," but, geez, Susan's already mad enough (and I also missed Sunday and want to post this...). So, I'll start with my favorite finds from the last few months.
Ecco i miei tesori! (Here are my treasures!)
I found this 18-inch tall ceramic St. Nicholas at the St. Vincent's Christmas sale on Saturday. When I reached the cashier, she told me she thought he had a matching figure in the linen room. I rushed back, and sure enough, there was. And it was Mrs. Claus! Not many people know this, but I love Mrs. Claus; I want to be her someday! I have a special affinity to her, because Mrs. Claus is fun and loving, but she doesn't have children either, but she's still jolly and nice and motherly. I hope I have some of that in me, too...
So I was thrilled to find this loving couple!
(Okay, just to digress over the Mrs. Claus not having any little Clauses, that's my guess, because you never hear anyone talking about Santa Junior inheriting the business, or Susie Claus running off with one of the elves, right?)
Mr. Santa was $5.00, because his lantern lights up. See?
And here's Mrs. Claus. She was a bargain at only $4.00. Can you stand it?
Aren't they the sweetest couple? I love how she's a bit shorter, and how he's lighting the way to the mailbox.
And, just one more bargain. I know, this is really starting to sound show-offy, but please bear with me. Here's what I found in the St. Vincent's "boutique," the area behind the garage with the slightly pricier "junque" -- all well worth it, as you'll see.
I'm thinking they need a little throw pillow or maybe a miniature afghan to cozy them up. I love these guys -- but I can't believe someone would actually pay $39.00 for them.
Okay, by this point, Sue's probably steaming, so I'll save my other treasures for another time.
And, yes, of course I'm kidding -- Sue's a dear, and she cheers me on in finding my bargains (heck, she and the children even benefit from some of them)! But, here she is, my beautiful Appelonia of a baby sister, with her husband Mike and my godchild, Luciano (Mirabella was asleep in the stroller):
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
"My eye just goes to the tomato."
"Is the emphasis on the eggs or on the salad?"
"I did a lasagna once, and it just wasn't speaking to me."
The foodies also share some trade secrets that we bloggers can use, too. They use matchbooks to lift the plate up, move a fork back and forth for the best angle, and admit to adding a touch of olive oil for shine and for bread, crumbs to make it look realistic.
Fun to watch, so if you like to take pictures of your food, go watch "Eating with your eyes."
Sunday, November 8, 2009
I do feel I have contributed in a small way to something that I think is very important, though. I was in Buffalo to visit my cousins a few weeks ago, and I helped my cousin Beth set up her blog. It's called Around Beth's World.
Beth has physical challenges, and while it might be true that those challenges have shaped her perspective in many ways, Beth's way of looking at this world we all live in is uniquely her own. The status updates and comments she posts on our family Facebook pages have given me a great deal of pause and inspiration over the past year. She has touched me so deeply a number of times, and I couldn't help but develop a profound conviction that there were others who needed to be reached in the same way. It's good to have someone to remind us that hail stones are magic and that autumn leaves are dancers.
Here's something I copied from a sign in Beth's craftroom:
Please add Beth's blog to your reading list -- and Beth, thank you for your generosity in sharing your world, and reminding us of its power and joy!
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
My parents got off the plane from Rome on Wednesday, and went directly to Massachusetts General Hospital. The back pain Dad has been experiencing all summer got even worse during the trip, and he'd been in agony during the flight home.
My sister Susan and brother Paul met them at the hospital, and I drove to their house to get their sedan, then got to Boston around 7:00. Paul left at 9:00 p.m., thinking that everything was okay, and I'd be bringing them home to the Cape, but we were in the Emergency Room all night, as test by test, everything came back normal. Then, in the second pass of reading the CT scan, the radiologist discovered that a tumor from Dad's old thyroid cancer was pressing against a nerve. Thank God for the excellent hospital care at Mass General; Dad will have surgery this coming week, and we're praying it all turns out all right. Please pray for him.
Monday, October 5, 2009
I'm so grapeful, err, grateful to the generosity of my fellow bloggers; I've learned so much from everyone who shares know-how, information, inspiration, or just plain fun. More than anything, I'd like to contribute to the great e-pool of knowledge, so here's my very first tutorial, showing how I made a grapevine wreath from wild vines -- and how you can, too. I hope you like it; please comment, and let me know what you think.
Before we begin, let me just say that this is a natural grapevine wreath. I don't even try to make a perfectly uniform circle -- after all, you can get something like that quite inexpensively at A.C. Moore, Jo Ann's or even Walmart. This is a rustic look that reflects the fact that the vines came from here:
Those are thorns, my dears. Big, bad dangerous thorns. Nasty, huh?
Oh, yes, it might be easy in some cultivated vineyard where you can gracefully cut out a few old strands, but here on Cape Cod, I'm battling poison ivy, wild raspberry vines (they're like something from Aliens) and the famous Lyme disease-carrying deer ticks. I suit up in long sleeves and heavy duty gloves. My gloves are a sort of rubberized pink, and the ones I use came from the Cape Cod Master Gardeners Spring Sale. They were $5.00, and they only had child size left. Fortunately, I have little hands...you need tough gloves in the outer regions of my yard.
I'm sure that Maddie will tell you that it helps to have a kitty taking a nap while you gather your vines, as he's doing while I wade into the thicket behind my little house. With Maddie's loyal support, I pull long strands of vines down from the trees, and here and there clip at the bases to release them. After a half hour of pruning and pulling, a big pile of vines is ready. Thanks, Maddie. Couldn't have done it without you...
And, by the way, late summer to early fall is the best time for pulling/cutting the vines, before they've become dry and brittle. So here we go...
Pull out the longest, thickest strand of vine, and strip off any big leaves still on it. Hold the thick end in one hand, and loop the vine to form a circle, hooking the other hand over and under to pass the ends under each other and fasten.
Take another vine, and tuck it into the scrimpiest part of the circle -- probably the side opposite the thickest part where you started. Secure it under the first vine, hooking any twigs under the vines in place, and continue to form the circle, bringing the vine from front to back and weaving it through twigs and strands where you see the opportunity. (See my pink glove?)
Continue, always starting your wrap with the thicker end of the vine, then securing it with the smaller, more pliable ends. I've heard that you can reverse the direction of winding, going clockwise for one strand, then counter clockwise for the next, but I've never bothered, and it always seems to come out all right. You'll feel like you're wrestling a long snake through a hula hoop, but, trust me, it can be done (well, maybe not the snake, but the vines!).
Use any pliable green ends to pull the ring tight when you can, but again, don't worry about making a perfect shape. You'll find that the twining branches of the vines almost tell you the form the wreath is going to take, whether very circular, or more oblong, or even sometimes nice and tight.
If you have a big, ungainly vine, you may not be able to tuck in every branching twig. Who cares? That's what makes it look unique!
And, there you go, a wild grapevine wreath with real character!
The wreath will shrink a bit, so place it in a sunny place for a couple of weeks before you add other material to it or hang it.
With love from Cape Cod.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
...and a love song
Ah, me. This is so bittersweet.
My car is in the shop with one of those problems where the mechanic has to drive the car for a few days to discover what's wrong. My parents are in Italy with Dad's twin sisters for the next few weeks, so Dad very graciously agreed to let me use his truck.
A few days ago, I drove from work in Orleans, stopped in Cotuit to let out the cats, and drove on to Falmouth to get the truck. I opened the door of the cab, and there on the front seat was a white paper bag with the notation "last 2 tomatoes." Can you ask for a more wonderful present at the end of a long day and a long drive home?
Today, I am very reverently eating a panino with "the last two tomatoes."
Do you know the Guy Clark tomato song?
Here's his "love song" to tamaters:
Ain't nothin' in the world that I like better
Than bacon & lettuce & homegrown tomatoes
Up in the mornin' out in the garden
Get you a ripe one don't get a hard one
Plant `em in the spring eat `em in the summer
All winter with out `em's a culinary bummer
I forget all about the sweatin' & diggin'
Everytime I go out & pick me a big one
Homegrown tomatoes homegrown tomatoes
What'd life be without homegrown tomatoes
Only two things that money can't buy
That's true love & homegrown tomatoes
You can go out to eat & that's for sure
But it's nothin' a homegrown tomato won't cure
Put `em in a salad, put `em in a stew
You can make your very own tomato juice
Eat `em with eggs, eat `em with gravy
Eat `em with beans, pinto or navy
Put `em on the side put `em in the middle
Put a homegrown tomato on a hotcake griddle
If I's to change this life I lead
I'd be Johnny Tomato Seed
`Cause I know what this country needs
Homegrown tomatoes in every yard you see
When I die don't bury me
In a box in a cemetery
Out in the garden would be much better
I could be pushin' up homegrown tomatoes
Great, don't you think? If you believe in true love and home grown tomatoes, too, join me, and sing along with Mr. Clark's tender ballad here.
Jessica has shared a great idea for making a gift bow -- wait for it -- out of a page from a magazine. I'd bet it would also look fabulous made with coordinating wrapping paper, scrap book paper, or even with found objects like strips of plastic. And (heavily starched) fabric, of course; I never have a shortage of that, as we all know.
So, what do you think? Isn't it fun and pretty darn adorable? And it's green, even though, err, it's orange.
Anyway, visit How About Orange, and read Jessica's excellent and easy tutorial on how to make your own gift bow out of magazines. Now, as for me, I'm going to go find a copy of the last Cape Cod View, and make myself a bow...
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
I found some lovely, luscious Italian plums in the Phoenix Market in Orleans, and I brought them in to the Church office, washed them, and placed them in a basket on the counter to share with all my visitors. I was very surprised that so many folks had never tasted them.
Our sexton, Larry, had never seen even them before. I couldn't believe it. "You've really never seen Italian plums?" I asked him.
"No...we don't have Italian plums in Ireland," he said.
Well, oh-kay then.
The basket was empty by the end of the day, and I wanted to make a Clafouti with the, so I stopped and picked up another brown bagful on my way home. Traditionally, clafouti is baked with the pits in, supposedly to impart the flavor of almond, but I really don't like the idea of picking stones out of a baked good, so I fiddled with a couple of recipes, and added a touch of almond extract.
Oh, my. It looked so fabulous!
Oh, well, their loss. The plums (via the clafouti) went back to the Church on Tuesday, and I'm happy to say that everything there loved it!
What struck me most about this, was how sweet plums become in the baking -- and I've got a sheath of plum cake recipes I'd like to try. Don't you think it's a lovely fall dessert? I love the rich color of this fruit!
So here's the recipe; let me know what you think...
Turn oven to 375 degrees.
2 Tablespoons honey
15 small Italian-style plums
1 1/3 cup whole milk
2/3 cup flour
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Butter a fluted tart or quiche pan, and drizzle half the honey along the bottom. Cut plums in half, and arrange in a pretty circular pattern with the cut side down. Drizzle remainder of honey on top, and dust with cinnamon from a shaker.
In a blender, mix batter ingredients. Pour batter over plums.
Bake for 50-60 minutes, until firmly set and nicely brown.
Dust with sparkling (crystallized, non melting sugar).
Serve warm or at room temperature. Yummy with a dollop of whipped cream!
Monday, September 28, 2009
I've been decorating for fall since the first day of the month. It started with my rapture over the cooler weather (as you know, August on Cape Cod this year was horribly hot and oppressive), and then I think the decorating bug got hold of me and just wouldn't let go. I've decorated the front door, the back door, the dining room, the kitchen counter, the shelf on the opening between the dining room and the kitchen island...and this weekend, I even decorated the mail box. I want to post my new black doors soon -- both the shame and the glory -- but in the meantime, I'm posting (hee!) my fall mailbox decor.
From the bountiful brain of the fabulous Bakerella! Okay, let's say you don't want to fiddle with mini pies. Keep reading anyway -- I may steal the idea of drawing a pumpkin face (even on big pie)...or I may grab the tip of drizzling decorative stripes of chocolate..and I just might try out the new cream cheese pumpkin pie recipe. All in all, though, I'm thinking I'm definitely going to need a pumpkin pie cookie cutter!