Thursday, June 30, 2016

a beautiful runner

There's a sort-of consignment shop nearby with tag sale prices, at least on some things. The other day I found this

it's long, and beautiful. I think it was a dollar fifty.

I'm not too into this sort of thing, but it was way too pretty and too cheap to leave there.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

if only you know how to look at it

"Jane Austen's life may have seemed uneventful.... Her genius began with the recognition that such lives as hers were very eventful indeed - that every life is eventful, if only you know how to look at it. She did not think that her existence was quiet or trivial or boring; she thought it was delightful and enthralling, and she wanted us to see that our own are, too. She understood that what fills our days should fill our hearts, and what fills our hearts should fill our novels."

                                    -   from  A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter

Friday, June 24, 2016

no locks on the door

I shall have to do a deal of travelling before I come in sight of your Celestial City. If I arrive late, you'll say a good word for me, won't you, Beth?

Something in the boy's face troubled his little friend; but she said cheerfully, with her quiet eyes on the changing clouds, if people really want to go, and really try all their lives, I think they will get in; for I don't believe there are any locks on that door, or any guards at the gate. I always imagine it is as it is in the picture, where the shining ones stretch out their hands to welcome poor Christian as he comes up from the river.

                                                          Little Women,  Louisa May Alcott

Thursday, June 23, 2016

too much to read, but knitting anyway

It's not very often I join in with yarnalong.  I finally got going on my little scarf, and I am at a point where I've internalized it and don't need to look at the directions anymore.

I bought the pattern through ravelry - it's called Veron. By a woman named Poirot!  I wonder if she's related to Hercule?  Anyway, it's got a nice wide cabled border, and when your yarn weighs twenty percent of what it weighed when you started, you start the border on the other side. I hope.   I like this light blue yarn with the primary red, blue and yellow specks, plus some olive ones.  The knitting bag was a gift from Cheryl - it has a drawstring and is a good size for smaller projects.

I'm reading too many books, but sometimes that just happens. Because of my recent interest in Fruitlands and the "American Bloomsbury" group from Concord, MA , I've been reading "Little Women" again after so many years. I'm so surprised at how I'm enjoying it! I also found a used copy of one of Tif Fussell's books - she's the lady behind Dottie Angel - because I was curious about her.  Those two books are the light reading, and when my brain is working properly I am trying to learn more about our electoral system. This book by Tara Ross is very thorough - Very Thorough - and she's in favor of it. Which I am too, by the way, even though I find it hard to understand. So, that's why I bought this. Finally, I've been following along with Leila's book club with Josef Ratzinger's "The Spirit of the Liturgy" on Fridays.

I also want to congratulate Ginny and her family on the birth of little Mae. Many blessings to them all!

Monday, June 20, 2016

"better than money or fashion"

"I thought, as a little lesson, I would show you what happens when every one thinks only of herself. Don't you feel that it is pleasanter to help one another, to have daily duties which make leisure sweet when it comes, and to bear or forbear, that home may be comfortable and lovely to us all?

Then let me advise you to take up your little burdens again, for though they seem heavy sometimes, they are good for us, and lighten as we learn to carry them. Work is wholesome, and there is plenty for every one; it keeps us from ennui and mischief, is good for health and spirits, and gives us a sense of power and independence better than money or fashion."

                                            -   Little Women,   Louisa May Alcott

Sunday, June 19, 2016

small garden, happy kitty and pantry stew

My garden is very tiny -

what's in it are two strawberry plants, a short row of garlic, one (or possibly two) dill plants and several tomato plants - San Marzano, which were begun very late and won't be ready before mid-August. I have a very hard time getting enthused about it until it becomes hot - which is not the best attitude for a New Englander.

Dolly longs for the outdoors at this time of year, and if she doesn't get out at least every couple of days, she pines like the Beast longing for Beauty. But then when she does, she's a new person!  She's re-invigorated for a while, and then sleeps happily.

I couldn't believe last night that even after carefully planning a menu and writing down all the ingredients I'd need at the store, I'd forgotten to buy almost everything required for today's dinner!  Happily, I was able to make do with what was here, so I guess that means I saved money!

A chard and white bean stew from Smitten Kitchen.  I chose it in order to chip away at an opened bottle of white wine; I forgot to buy the chard and the beans. ahem.  But I had some beans and I had some baby kale. I used crushed tomatoes instead of pureed. It was very good. We had it with kielbasa on the side, and green salad. Milk chocolate pudding for dessert.

Joining Leila this week, who has a REAL garden.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

"the source of life-long peace, happiness, and strength"

"My child, the troubles and temptations of your life are beginning, and may be many; but you can overcome and outlive them all, if you learn to feel the strength and tenderness of your Heavenly Father as you do that of your earthly one. The more you love and trust Him, the nearer you will feel to Him, and the less you will depend on human power and wisdom. His love and care never tire or change, can never be taken from you, but may become the source of life-long peace, happiness, and strength. Believe this heartily and go to God will all your little cares, and hopes, and sins, and sorrows, as freely and confidingly as you come to your mother."

                                                     -  (Marmee to Jo) Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

walnut rice salad

In my recipe box, there are a good few which I've never even tried. This wasn't anything before the advent of Pinterest, but now that it's so easy to collect recipes online, too - the box kind of falls by the wayside.

But I still want to keep it. So I've got to apply myself to trying out whichever ones still have appeal, and letting go of the rest.

This week I made something from a California walnuts ad, torn out of a magazine many years ago.

I forget that you can make a salad with rice. This is very nice, and worth sharing.

Take a cup of raw rice and cook it. Drain, and set aside for ten mins.  Meanwhile, combine 3 T. walnut oil, 2 T. rice vinegar, half a T. sugar and half a tsp. of salt. Mix into rice after ten mins. Stir in a shredded carrot, and a half English cuke, thinly sliced, 1/4 cup walnuts and 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese. Serve with cherry tomatoes.

I doubled the whole thing, used brown rice, olive oil and an herbed, soft goat cheese and less of it. I served the tomatoes on the side.  It was a little strange tonight having to heat up the leftovers - warm cukes, hmm - but a nice change.

Monday, June 13, 2016

from Fruitlands to Little Women

It all began back in April, when Anna ended up in Massachusetts and went to Fruitlands.  I'd never heard of the place, or really known very much about Louisa May Alcott. So, like anyone who has discovered a new interest, I forgot all about it, almost immediately. (ahem)

For only a couple of days, because what should cross my path the next time I was working in the children's department at the library, but a book about Fruitlands?  A semi-fictional children's book which includes what remains of Louisa May's diary about her stay there, in addition to which the author wrote a made-up diary to "supplement" the real one, with the idea that since Louisa's parents were going to read her diary, she would also write a secret one, with a bit more honesty to it. It seemed plausible to me, and was the only book at the library about the subject. I made a request for a book from another library and passed the time in between by reading American Bloomsbury by Susan Cheever. So good - fascinating!  I really knew nothing about Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Alcott, Melville, or that they were connected.

Now I have to read Little Women, of course, even though I did read it many years ago. This edition has appealing sketches and informational tidbits on the period, hopefully of interest to young readers.

They always looked back before turning the corner, for their mother was always at the window, to nod and smile, and wave her hand to them. Somehow it seemed as if they couldn't have got through the day without that, for whatever their mood might be, the last glimpse of that motherly face was sure to affect them like sunshine.

I suppose I'll have to watch all the film versions after this, in order to compare them. Such drudgery!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

"O lovely cat"

"As when light on the ocean turns to haze
And violent gales make waters froth and vie,
Up to the flaming stars that light the sky
The weary night-time pilot turns his gaze.

So do I turn, O lovely cat, in my
Dire fortune to thy holy orbs of sight
And fancy that before me are alight
Two stars as welcome as the northwind dry.

I see another kitten and you seem
The Greater and the Lesser Bear: O cats,
The lanterns of my room, beloved cats:

As God may keep you safe from blows malign,
As Heaven may furnish you with meat and cream,
O give me light to write these songs of mine!"

                           -  Cats, by Torquato Tasso, trans. by Lowry Nelson, Jr.

Friday, June 10, 2016

"better to have than the honeycomb"

Come to me, all you that yearn for me, and be filled with my fruits;
You will remember me as sweeter than honey, better to have than the honeycomb,
He that eats of me shall hunger still,
he who drinks of me will thirst for more;
He who obeys me will not be put to shame,
he who serves me will never fail.

                                                                                   - Sirach: 24:18-21

Thursday, June 9, 2016

tomato ready

I seem to start my indoor seeds later than I should. These tomato plants won't be ready till mid August. But I am always afraid they'll get too big before I can put them in the ground, and I'll have to keep moving them to bigger pots in the greenhouse.  These San Marzanos will soon be too large for their yogurt containers, but today was so cool and windy - I couldn't plant them.


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

garlic scapes

Suddenly scapes have appeared in the garlic bed. If I hadn't seen pictures online, I would not have know anything. Will have to look up a recipe.

Monday, June 6, 2016

peanut butter and plum tomatoes

Not together, no.

One day Katie brought some peanut butter balls to work for a snack. I loved them; they contained peanut butter, honey, oats and protein powder. You mix it up, refrigerate it and then roll into balls. I then discovered they are called energy bites and there are a few recipes for them online.

I've been making my own version, because you can't beat them for the ease of making, and something quick and filling to eat.  Mine has no protein powder; I use equal parts of p.b. and rolled oats, plus some quick oats. I often add cocoa powder and a small amount of honey - two or three teaspoons. Maybe some sesame seeds. I wouldn't say they're delicious like the original, but they're good enough for me.

The other day I had a recipe which called for semi-dried tomatoes. Never heard of 'em! So, I looked for a recipe. The BBC is actually where I found this, and I've made it twice since. This will take a bunch of unremarkable supermarket plum tomatoes (I mean the out-of-season ones) and turn them into something worthwhile.  You just slice them lengthwise, lay them cut sides up on a baking sheet, brush cut edges with olive oil and sprinkle with oregano, basil, Italian seasoning...whatever.  Cook in the oven at 275 for 2 - 3 hours. Don't make them on a hot day!

Smoosh them into a jar, and top with olive oil. They'll wait for you in the fridge until you need them to jazz up a salad or whatever. Yesterday I had some cod and they came in very handy for that.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

strawberry rhubarb crisp

I bought strawberries last week, but there was too much fruit in the house - I hadn't touched them. Then someone gave me rhubarb yesterday. So I made a crisp.

To be enjoyed with Haagen Dazs Vanilla Bean.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

to New York

We went to New York City to see our cousins; it had been three years since we visited with them.  The weather Sunday was nothing like last time - so warm and humid - it was rough. (for me, at least)

We met up at Grand Central and hurried over to St Patrick's for Mass; Cardinal Dolan was the celebrant.

There is a vibrancy in the atmosphere there. They have an excellent choir, and many people on hand to keep everything orderly; a massive operation.  The last time we went, as we were going into the church I asked there whereabouts of the restrooms. "Down the street and around the corner", so Yoko and I took off, which resulted in having to sit in folding chairs near some scaffolding when we got back to the cathedral, separated from the others. This time I was determined to avoid that, so I used the ladies' room at the train station, even though my brother assured me all the work had been completed in time for Pope Francis' visit last fall. Well, wouldn't you know, someone in our party asked for the bathrooms on our way out of church. Where were they?  "Down the street and around the corner".  Can it be St. Patrick's has no bathrooms at all?  Anyway, there were actually three places we could go to nearby, so we chose Saks.

After initially hopping on an elevator which zipped us right up to the eighth floor (shoes! only shoes!), we came back down and got to the second floor via the escalators.  We passed some mannequins dressed in sundresses - they were lovely!

The salesgirls were watching, but they didn't seem to mind if we touched. This one had a sleeping cat

(photo swiped from Saks Fifth Avenue website)

These dresses were charming!  Dolce and Gabbana - I confess I've never paid any attention to their designs, but I loved these. Only two or three thousand apiece!

There was also this -

a Marie-Antoinette-ish, modern day ballgown or whatever. I did like the colors: lime green and a warmish pink. There's a velvet belt on there - take my word for it - and a cloth doll attached to the right hip. It won an award. of course. 

We walked all over the place: Times Square, Chelsea Market, and all along the High Line. That was a disappointment - there was almost nothing blooming up there, and it was so hot. 

We passed by the police department - I absolutely love this sign!  But I'd never suspect the mighty NYPD to have a sign of this sort, would you?  Doesn't seem to fit in with the tough image you get from the TV shows .

We ate at the Spice Market, a place with delicious food, imaginative casbah-like decor and a unique array of dishware; also loud, thumping music, the lights down so low I was unable to read the menu (also partly because I need stronger magnifiers, ahem); but a wait staff who were so attentive, that I was able to down eight glasses of water in a very short time. Yeah, I guess I was dehydrated, but that was the place to be - they were right there every time I downed my glass!

Anyway, we had a good time and decided we should do this every two years. I'm already looking at guide books from the library for some indoor things to see, as well as outdoor.

On the train home, the fellow who took our tickets looked just like Cardinal Dolan - hmm. He gets around.