Friday, August 29, 2008

Tomato Sandwiches

I can't help it. I live in a hotel and eat out of the supermarket so when I come home I am totally preoccupied with the lovely fresh veges growing in my garden. One of my favorite meals is a tomato sandwich made with a juicy beefsteak tomatoe and a thick slice of vidalia onion. My grandfather taught me about tomatoes. He and my grandmother moved frequently because he was congenitally unable to live anywhere for more than two years (they lived in at least 10 different towns in the Philadelphia area, some of them twice, not to mention Pawnee City, Nebraska, Bartlesville, Oklahoma, New York City, The Hague, Netherlands, Portugal, Chicago, Ithaca, New York, Kansas, Lambertville, New Jersey, Abiquiu, New Mexico and many others I am sure I don't know about), but whenever he could, he always had a lovely vegetable garden which featured Big Boy tomatoes. When we visited in the summer, there was always a platter of freshly sliced tomatoes on the table at dinnertime.

In any case, the best way to make a tomato sandwich is to toast two slices of white bread (this keeps the bread from getting soggy). Slather them with Hellman's mayonnaise (the real stuff - no low fat imitations) and add one thick slice of tomato and one thick slice of vidalia onion.
Cut the sandwich in half and enjoy! What you can't see in the picture below is that I couldn't control myself and I took a bit out of the corner of bottom half of the sandwich. mmmmmm.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


This is a picture of the harvest from my August garden. I try to plant only the vegetables and fruit that are beautiful, unusual and delicious. Seedless concord grapes, baby red and yellow tomatoes, Japanese eggplant, red raspberries, garlic chive flowers, Italian basil, roma plum tomatoes, golden tomatoes, varigated eggplant, and green and gold peppers. Of course, produce that is eaten within minutes of being picked tastes completely different from any of the sadly aging items in the supermarket. To me, they provide as much visual satisfaction as any of the flowers in my border.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Outlet Shopping

Saturday I treated myself to outlet shopping in Lancaster. My focus was on grays and purples. Like this Eggplant Sweater jacket that I found at Banana Republic for $39. And a classic pale gray cardigan at Ann Taylor for $35 and a matching gray sleeveless turtleneck for $29.

And these cute open toed taupe shoes with beige suede bows that aren't really gray or purple. Not quite a bargain at $60 but I couldn't resist them.

I did heroically resist a lovely eggplant unfitted knee length wool coat at J Crew that was marked down from $500 to $189. Missed my shopping companion. She would have probably talked me into buying it.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Liberty Prints

In my last blog, I mentioned my collection of Liberty prints. Tonight I laid them out on my sewing table to photograph them and the table wasn't big enough. It has been several years since I looked at them all together and I forgot how many I had and how beautiful they are. I am sure my daughter remembers many of these because we used to pick them out the remnant basket together. Every time we went into London, we always stopped at Liberty to see what goodies were hiding in the little baskets in the fabric department.
I made many lovely dresses for my daughter, and some of their remnants are among the ones in my picture. I particularly like to collect variations on a particular print and my favorite is the Strawberry Thief, though I have several others. Our guest bedroom has Strawberry Thief curtains that I made out of some of the material I bought when we moved back home from Surrey. As I put then back into the closet I counted 48 different prints. If Ashley ever has a daughter, I will make her lovely dresses out of these like I did for her mother.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I LOVE........FABRIC!!!!

Ok. I confess. I have been a fabric junkie since I was 12 and my mother took me to the Everfast Mill store where we could get amazing remnants for 10 cents a yard (this was 1960, when gas was 19 cents a gallon, but still a bargain). I used to make most of my clothes and don't sew as much as I used to but I still have hundreds of yards stored away in my craft room and occasionally open the doors of my cupboards and gloat over the goodies. The prize of my collection is a huge variety of Liberty remnants collected over a 20 year period. Most of them are 1/4 yard or less, but I also shipped over 200 metres of curtain fabric back to the US when we moved back in 1998. I probaby have 50 or more different Liberty patterns including some amazing patchwork that I bought in 1997. Sadly, Liberty hardly sells any rems any more and the last time I visited in May of 2008, I couldn't find the little baskets that used to contain the precious delicate floral prints.

Anyway, the Fall fashions have reawakened my lust for lovely luxurious wools, but the suburbs no longer have any fabric stores except for the highly plebian Jo Anne's which seems to specialize 50 varieties of fleece and shiny synthetics suitable only for a working class prom queen. Dredging through my ancient memories to the summer when I was 16 and had apprenticed myself to a talented local designer, I recalled that we used to haunt Fabric Row around 4th Street in Philly. Googled it and it still exists so I have to set myself up for an expedition.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Cherry Pie

Made a Cherry Pie late last night. Had some for breakfast this morning ............

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Harper's Bazaar Fall Fashions- Installment 1

The Fall Fashion Issue just arrive and I have selected some pictures to share with Ashley. This fall I particularly like the tailored tweeds - and the unstructured coats. Fedora's and rich plums and purples. The shoes are impossibly scary. After a lot of agressive manipulation for all this scanning, my Harper's now looks a bit lumpy like someone was reading it in a very steamy and humid bathroom.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Some of the other things I three Liberty Mugs

I got the first one in 1996. It has the William Morris pattern “Strawberry Thief” on it and commemorates his 100th birthday. I think it must have been the first one they made and I found it on one of the sale tables in the basement of one of my favorite places, the Liberty store in London.

I found the 2003 mug in the Liberty post-Christmas sale in January 2004. It certainly hadn’t been a hot commodity and was surrounded by a lot of other 2003 mugs that no one wanted.

Ashley’s friend Steven gave me the 2007. He had visited our house in the summer of 2006 and heard me talk about how much I loved my two mugs. Apparently the market for Liberty mugs had taken an upturn since 2003 because he searched all over the store for one to no avail when he got back to London . Steven is persistent and he finally asked one of the clerks if they had a 2007 mug, and she told him yes they had them, but they were hidden for customers who collected them. He persuaded her to sell him one and gave it to me the next time I was in London.

The lovely pale robin’s egg color on these mugs is one I love almost as much as cobalt blue. It is the blue-green that appears in many of Karl Larson’s paintings of the interior of his house. To my delight, Chloe Alberry just started making lovely stone knobs in this color. They look like little irregular eggs and have a warm smooth texture that I can imagine holding in my hand every time I open a drawer or cabinet. I bought eight of them in May and look at them often. One day I will decide where I want to put them, but for now I can’t bear to commit them to a permanent location.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

I love.......Blue

When I think of the things (as opposed to people) I love, one of the most enduring is the color blue. The items I tend to buy in blue are long lasting household items, some of which I have had for over 40 years. Maybe it is my Scandinavian blood but it all started with Dansk Blue Mist plates, which I found in the Dansk outlet in Ardmore when I was 18 and packed them away for my future home. They were discontinued a while ago but I continue to replenish my collection at Replacements Unlimited.

I picked up the two wooden handled enameled pots in the picture about 8 years later when I had my own apartment. I ordered the Kitchen Aid Mixer from a catalog before Ashley was born – so that’s over 24 years ago – for my cookie, bread and pasta making in the big kitchen in the Little Washington-Lyndell Road farmhouse. I paid full price because I fell in love with the lovely cobalt blue color. The Kitchen Aid toaster was added to my collection when we bought our current house 9 years ago. It’s not toasting evenly any more but I can’t bring myself to replace it.

I made the chair covers out of a remnant I bought at Laura Ashley before they closed all the stores here and covered two of the chairs from my mother’s old handmade wrought Iron garden set. The garden set itself is probably around the same age as I am since there are pictures of me as a baby crawling over the glass tabletop.

The flower pots are relatively new. One of the original ones was broken by the guy who powerwashed our deck and I spent two years looking for another one that matched. Just found it last Spring!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Food Glorious Food

Last night I arrived home from Central PA around 7 PM and ran out to the garden to grab fresh veges for dinner. Then I pulled a fresh ear of Amish Silver King corn out of the fridge and cooked up a feast. Living on the road I am so fresh vege deprived. My hotel-room diet is getting more and more depressing and I feel very deprived and stuck. Have to find a way out. In any case this is the lovely stuff growing in my garden. Tomatoes very late this year due to damp cool spring and torrid June and July, but the Japanes eggplant, peppers and fresh basil are lovely.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Rant on Viva La Vida

I just read yet another nasty review of Cold Play’s latest album in last week’s New Yorker. The reviewer whined about their free concert in New York, complained that the audience seemed less than enthusiastic and disparaged their incredibly bad taste in mentioning to the audience that it was free. He also compared the group unfavorably to U2 and, of course, Radiohead, and implied that Gwyneth was there only to give them some free publicity. That should teach Chris Martin not to waste his time on jaded ill-mannered New Yorkers.

Ashley sent me video clips that she took at the free London concert at Brixton and this definitely wasn’t the case with the British fans. I find it hard to believe that all these reviewers are listening to the same music as I am, but my own brother shares their opinion. Actually I think he might have been talking to the same New Yorker reviewer because three weeks ago he made exactly the same complaint that their music puts him to sleep. Perhaps he listened to too much hard rock in the 60’s and 70’s and is suffering from hearing loss. When I come to think of it, I don’t recall seeing many (actually, not even one) of my generation at the concert, so maybe I am Cold Play’s only 60 year old fan.

I googled the reviewer to see how old he is and found that he was born in 1967. Hmmm, that makes him an early Gen Xer – hardly the same group that my daughter belongs to – the Millennials. The Millennials are supposed to be much more idealistic, open-minded and socially conscious than the materialistic, career- focused Gen Xer. To quote Wikipedia “Gen-Xers complain the Millennials are another indulged generation like the Boomers—that they’re self-absorbed and Pollyanna-ish. Millennials charge that Gen-Xers are cynical and aloof—that they throw a wet blanket on fresh ideas and idealism” Maybe that explains it and maybe the reason I enjoy the music is that I have spent too much time with a Millennial . I am sure that M Ward and Jens Leckman would put them to sleep also. Maybe that’s what I relate to - and I am lucky enough not to have lost too much of my hearing at Woodstock.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Birthday Lunch With Mom

Today I had my birthday lunch with Mom. As we usually do, we went to Helen Kuo's Peking Restaurant - Helen is an old friend of my parents . Mom gave me her lovely Moonstone and Sapphire ring that I have been admiring since I was seven. She got it at Wanamakers in Philadelphia when she was working at the Philadelphia Navy Yard during WW2. I remember her wearing the ring with her navy blue lace dress with the square neck fitted bodice sprinkled with little rinestones and mid-calf flared skirt when she dressed up for evenings out. It was the only evening dress she had for years, so I saw it often. She always wore Chanel #5 and I can remember sitting on the stairs in my pajamas thinking she looked like the prettiest mother anyone could have. The dress is a true 50's classic. She still has it and I can fit into it. Couldn't have wished for a better day.

Sunday Mornings

This is where I like to have breakfast on Sunday mornings.

Saturday, August 2, 2008


Yesterday Ashley wrote about making Christmas Cookies on her blog. I started the tradition when I was a teenager and Ashley's brother Adam and his gang of friends became my enthusiastic partners when they were seven. Ashley joined in the annual cookie making when she was two. This is a picture of her making Swedish gingerbread pigs in our house on Little Washington-Lyndell Road.

While I started with the receipes in my Women's Encyclopedia of Cooking and my grandmother's fried rosettes, Ashley and I ventured into more challenging receipes, some of which I will never have the energy to repeat. One was an enormous batch of incredibly delicate Swedish cardomom flavored snowflake cookies decorated with blue piping, silver dragees and irridescent edible glitter that we spent a whole day decorating when she was a teenager. I also remember the two of us in the little kitchen at Windy Hill trying out our new pizelle maker which required tight coordination to get them out of the griddle before they burned.