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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Wedgwood Writes To That Old House! And: A Giveaway Winner!

Wedgwood wrote to me! Well, to my blog, anyway. . . .

Just to prove that you never, ever know who is going to read your blog.... on Friday afternoon, the 20th comment on my 2/24 blog post, Rescuing Waterford and Wedgwood, turned out to be from ... Wedgwood itself! You can click here and read it at the bottom of the comments.

Wedgwood commented on my blog post. Wedgwood! I am impressed at their customer relations; that is very responsive! Smart brides can still put Wedgwood in their registries, the company isn't rolling over yet.

Plus, they liked my pictures. Aw, gee, shucks! :-)

And the winner is . . . (drum roll, please!)

Now... in a smooth segueway into my next announcement. . . did you know that Wedgwood owns Johnson Brothers? Who knew? And it is a Johnson Brothers "Old Bradbury" ironstone gravy boat that Shelia of "Note Songs" blog won in my "Tablescape Thursday and a Giveaway" post.

Congratulations, Shelia! I know you will give this nice ironstone piece a good home.

By the way, those of you who have done giveaways... do you find it nerve-wracking to find that "random number?" Or am I the only whackadoodle who does? My gosh, I was as nervous as, well, something that is nervous.

Have a grand weekend! My husband and daughter have season tickets and are off to the Metropolitan Opera Saturday, for Il Trovatore, and as for me? I will be painting a bathroom vanity. What is wrong with that picture?

But I will take time out to look again at this slide show, about a
278-year old cottage-style house in Newport, Rhode Island. Take a look here!

I like that the homeowner, John Peixinho, is a professional decorator who is self-taught. I could move right into that house, and not change a thing. Well, not much. Maybe a few things, here and there. . . .

Friday, February 27, 2009

Foodie Friday, Hooked On Houses Party, and Last Chance for my Giveaway!

Click here for more Foodie Fun, thanks to Gollum!
************************And click here to link to Hooked On Houses Friday Blog Party,
hosted by the amazing Julia.

That Old House is a mixed bag today: Foodie Friday -- Hooked On Houses Blog Party -- Odds & Ends -- and a last chance for anyone to enter my Giveaway for a
Johnson Bros.
gravy boat:

Click here!

Catching up on some Odds & Ends, down below, but first... for Foodie Friday, the recipe for Grandma Cake. You will thank me, yes you will, as this cake elevates the simple to the sublime. It is just pure goodness. And it's even better a teensy bit stale.

Grandma Cake... recipe and a little background!

My grandmother was born in Norway in 1875, and grew up in a house that dated back to Viking days. She lived until I was in college, and she was nearly 100. She'd wanted to make that century mark, but she didn't get her way on that one, although she did on nearly everything else in her life.

She raised 7 children in New York City, in a big house on the rich farmland where JFK Airport now stands. My father is her youngest, and he is nearly 89.

She was a remarkable woman,
Margrethe Olave Eskeland Lindtveit.

She could draw sewing patterns freehand, sewed all the clothes for her big family, including coats and men's shirts, knitted like a machine, crocheted, tatted, and, until they rotted apart from age and sunlight, a set of Hardanger curtains she made as a young bride hung in my family's dining room.

She had the greenest thumb this side of Eden, skipped lunch to afford fresh flowers, was barely 5-feet tall, opinionated, smart, determined, and she scared her family witless. Not one of your pushover grandmothers, my Grandma.

She walked barefoot in the morning dew 3 seasons of the year, had long glossy brilliant white hair that she washed in an enamel dishpan with a bar of coal tar soap and then dried outside, in the sunshine, the hair streaming down her back; to my sister and me she looked like an aging enchanted princess.

She loved boats and fishing and her husband Gunvald devotedly (and probably equally), could gut a fish and pan fry it to perfection, baked the flakiest piecrust, and made a bundt-style cake that is the best food, ever, anywhere on the planet.

She gave that recipe to my mother, least loathed of her daughters-in-law, and my mother promised to pass it on to me. She never did. When Mom sank into Alzheimer's, I figured the recipe for Grandma Cake was lost forever.

But recently my sister Peggy handed my mother's recipe box to me:

Lo and behold, there it was, right in front . . . the Holy Grail:

I love how my Mom wrote "Serves 12 - 15."
What family was she thinking of?

If you click on the picture, the recipe will greatly enlarge and you can easily read it. I love that it's in my Mom's distinctive handwriting. But, in case you have trouble deciphering it, here is the recipe:

3 cups flour (unbleached)
1 cup sugar

1-1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. mace
a pinch of salt

1 cup butter (no margarine; Grandma will rise up and sm
ite you!)
3 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1 tsp. pure vanilla

Mix all the above thoroughly and beat at high speed for 3 to 4 minutes. Bake at 350 for approx. 1 hour.

(It's not written down, as you are clearly just supposed to know that the cake batter goes into a greased bundt or tube pan before y
ou put it in the oven!)

This is not a fine-grained pound cake; it has a rather coar
se crumb, and the outside gets quite dark and caramelized looking and as the cake ages a day or two the "crust" gets a bit of a crunch to it. Oh my. I may have to bake this. I don't bake anymore because Howard and I aren't eating sugary things. I may have to make an exception. Please let me know if you try it!
Update... I made the Grandma Cake ... Yum
Pics and story here!
And now for those Odds & Ends...

You know that I am hooked on That Old House, and a bit obsessive about getting it "just right." If you remember my powder room metamorphosis, I asked for opinions on curtain fabric, and most of you thought "toile" and some even said, "black and white toile." Methinks you were right!

I just happened to have a sample of a cream and black toile, so up it went on the window frame with a piece of trusty blue tape. I liked it:

Then I remembered a toile I bought 2 years ago at WalMart for $1.00 a yard.
Yes, ladies and maybe a gent or two, that's $1.00 a yard.

(Pardon the wrinkles! It was stuffed in a drawer.)

This isn't your quality toile, no fancy name on the selvedge, but it is already mine, and there is enough for a nice full swag on the powder room window. Free is good.

And there it is, taped up, and dragging down the wall.
(When I find something nice for a buck a yard, I splurge. I bought a lot.)

So what do you think?

It's thin, but I'll line it. I think it will do just fine.
Stay tuned for the "after" pictures!

And speaking of befores & afters. . . I used a red and white tureen in yesterday's Tablescape Thursday post, and before I put it back on top of
Grandma's china cabinet . . .

...(yes, that very same Grandma)...

I thought it might look good on my nearly-nekkid sideboard:

Hey, it's a start.

Have a lovely weekend, everyone! I will announce the
winner of the gravy boat tomorrow morning (Saturday).
Not too early. . . .

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tablescape Thursday, A Giveaway, and the Sisterhood Award!


(... plus a giveaway and an award.)
It is Tablescape Thursday, hosted by Susan at Between Naps On The Porch. Visit to see some really creative table settings!

Whew... lots going on -- china and a giveaway and an award -- so let's get going!
I am not sure when table settings morphed into Tablescapes, but I'm late to the game. Here goes nothing! (All comments will be entered to win a blue and white Johnson Bros gravy boat, see below. Giveaway "entries" will close on 2/27 at midnight.)

Let's set the stage:
Imagine. . . It's a cold February night in a creaky old house; a fire is lit in the parlor, and in the dining room . . . it's time for a bowl of bubbling hot stew, ladled out of a big tureen onto china that echoes the Chinese Export ware of centuries ago:

A bit of wine adds to the glow. The stemware is a crystal reproduction of an old form; the same shape wineglass might have been on the table when this house was new.

Nearby, a small cake plate and cup and saucer await dessert; maybe a slice of hot apple pie, and cup of good strong coffee.

The china is Mikasa Far East, and I bought it nearly 30 years ago at Kaufmann's Department Store in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I was very into simple "colonial" then, and this was the closest I could get to an antique look pattern, at least that I could afford. Luckily, I still like it, because by now I have service for more than 20.

Lenox made the crystal wine glass, the tureen is Fitz & Floyd,
and the silver ware is my old Ebay flatware.

Don't look too closely at the folded napkin. It needs ironing and a good soak in Oxi-Clean, but it's such a sweet old linen piece, with lovely hand crocheted edging. I can't remember where I got the small lace topper cloth, but I thought its angles nicely reflected the angles of the dinnerware. Upon reflection, I think I should have used something less busy.

Ta-da! The giveaway! Kaufmann's had a "no one else wants this stuff" department back in the day, and I found a Johnson Brothers gravy boat there, blue & white, in a pattern I had never seen: Old Bradbury. I still haven't seen much of this pattern, even on Ebay.

It's a lovely piece. There is some underglaze crazing (like much Johnson Bros.) and a small chip on the underside of the boat itself. The liner plate would make a gorgeous soap dish in a blue and white kitchen, with a big chunk of fragrant hand-made soap in it.

I love the pattern, and will miss this pretty piece, but I have enjoyed it for years. And that's the whole point --
you should like the things you give as gifts!

If you leave a comment on this post, you might win it. (You can always decline it if you think it's the fugliest bit of china you've ever seen!) I was going to list this little bit of ironstone on Ebay, but this is much more fun.

And. . . I have gotten my first blog award (another mystery land to me, but I'm learning!).

Thank you to Nanna K of
Blessings from Nanna's Cottage for The Sisterhood Award!

anna K posted these lovely words:

"Sometimes, I just cannot believe what an awesome world our blogging world really is. We need to go out and teach the world how to get along happily, don't you think?

Everybody here in our new world cares about one another and shows it. We pray for each other and help each other through hard times and happy times. When there's a problem here, everyone comes.

Sometimes you wonder, how did they know so fast? I just love my new world ladies.
I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart. We all are carrying some kind of burden, whether it's our own or a loved ones. it is so grand to always know we all are there to catch each other when we fall."
If you accept this award, the rules are...
1. Put the logo on your blog or post.
2. Nominate at least 10 blogs which show great Attitude and/or Gratitude!

3. Be sure to link to your nominees within your post

4. Let them know they have
received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Share the love and link to this post and to the person from whom you
received the award.

And my nominees are (the envelope, please!). . .

Molly at Molly's Mellow Moments
Blondie at Blondie's Journal
Becky at Holiday In The Sun
Deanie at Deanie's Space
Susie Q at Rabbit Run Cottage
Bobbi Jo at It's Good To Be Queen
Elizabeth Ann at My Place In Cyberspace
Barb at Grits and Glamour
Paula B at In The Shade Of The Oak
Heidi at Bargain Hunting In The Corn

Many thanks to so many wonderful bloggers and readers; I had no idea there was such an extensive network of talented and caring and creative women "out there," until I started exploring the blogging world.

You are all truly remarkable.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Rescuing Waterford and Wedgwood

It is Three or More Tuesday, graciously hosted by Tam at The Gypsy's Corner. Click here to visit and read more Tuesday tales. Thanks, Tam.

What to share? I considered my big white ironstone pitchers
-- I have three -- but two of them are 'way up high on a breakfront, and I don't feel like clambering up to get them, so it's Wedgwood today.

I love dishes. One cannot have too many of them; who knows when 683 people will show up on your doorstep, and clamor for their chili to be slung out onto pretty plates?

I have, I think, 7 sets of dishes, not counting my Christmas china, and not counting this sweet but very incomplete set of Wedgwood, a gift from my in-laws some years back:

It's the Patrician mold, which is not too hard to find, but until today I haven't found it with just this exact floral design. Found it today on Ebay! (Wish me luck; I'd love dinner plates in this pattern.) I don't have much of this pattern so far:

I've got a small platter . . .

Six luncheon, or dessert-sized plates. . .

And six cups and saucers. . .

These pieces are not valuable, but they charm me, and that's what counts.

Wedgwood is an endangered species; its parent company, Waterford, is bankrupt and looking for a Sugar Daddy to rescue it. Waterford owns not only Wedgwood but Royal Doulton as well (oh dear, what would Hyacinth Bucket say?).

Thomas Wedgwood (yes, one of those Wedgwoods) fished the loose coins out of his sofa cushions, intending to make an offer to buy back the family biz, but a U.S. private equity fund nipped in ahead of Mr. Wedgwood and is closer to sealing the deal. Waterford, Wedgwood, and Royal Doulton, soon to
be owned by a company from the upstart colonies.

Royal Worcester and Spode are in the same boat, also having filed for bankruptcy protection. Why? It seems that today's young buyers just aren't interested in fine china and crystal, and don't buy much of it. At least, that's what the news reports say. Too bad. Waterford went belly-up in the 1850s but returned a hundred years later to dominate the cyrstal field, but Wedgwood has been around for 250 years.

I'd love to buy it myself, but we're cutting back on our purchasing this year. :-P

Let's keep our fingers crossed for these venerable companies, and their many employees. I don't want to turn over my next piece of Wedgwood and read "Made In China."

Monday, February 23, 2009

Hang It All -- A Craigslist Pairing

A little late in the day, but I'm chiming in with a Metamorphosis Monday post. Thanks to Susan at Between Naps On The Porch for hosting. Visit her here for more transformations.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about ordering mirror hangers to hang a large mirror in our dining room. Turns out, we didn't need the hangers, just strong and long brass screws and good wire.

This isn't much of a metamorphosis, but it made me happy.

Here is our Before... below, a sad and lonely sideboard, waiting for love and a humongous mirror:And the other half of our Before: a humongous mirror, waiting to hang over a lonesome sideboard. Clearly, a match made in Heaven.

It was time to unite these two Craigslist bargains. . . . and here's the After:

The sideboard is happy, the mirror is happy, my husband is happy because I'm not saying, "When are you going to hang that mirror?" and I am happy.
I am not sure what to put on that old marble top. Any suggestions for a "sideboard-scape?"

Friday, February 20, 2009


Happy Friday! Kelli at There Is No Place Like Home
is graciously hosting "Show and Tell Friday," so visit her here if you want to share more Show and Tell blog posts. Click here to be whisked away!

When I walk on these floors, when I gingerly move furniture so as not to cause damage, when I look at them in sunlight and see the evidence of the hand tools that formed them years ago . . . but especially when I get out the dust mop and go over their worn surfaces, I think of the thousands of times someone else has done just exactly that same thing. And I am floored.

A few people have commented (thank you!)
on the floors in That Old House.

Well, we can't take any credit for them; they have been here for a long time, and are a mixed bag of early and late 19th century wood, and some 20th century replacements.

To have some of the original flooring is a wonderful blessing. In our parlor, the floorboards are up to 16 inches wide:

There are also wide, original floorboards in the attic, the front upstairs hall and the pink bedroom.

I love the marks left by previous owners; they were so practical. The knots in this pine shrank faster than the wood around it, and so some of those knots fell out. Our predecessors cannily cut a square plug, and snugged it into the open hole:

Between the boards, where there was gapping from shrinkage, some talented hands inserted long thin slivers of wood.

Amazing and painstaking work. I don't know who did this, but I'd like to shake his hand! Here's a closeup (click, below, to see it really clearly):

Years ago I rented a circa-1800 house. It had original floors, but with wide shrinkage gaps, and I will never forget spending many hours on my knees, cleaning out those long, schmutz-filled channels. Yuck. I really really appreciate the guy who filled in these gaps!

It's comforting to see that people long ago had little mishaps, too. Evidence: the burn marks on the wood floor, just past the fireplace hearth!

I am glad that the families who lived here before us took such loving care of the house in their stewardship. I hope we can do the same.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Day for Walls, and the Great Outdoors!

It is Wednesday (although just barely!) and I am participating in What's On Your Walls? and Outdoor Wednesday. You can find the links to the lovely hostesses (thank you, Susan at A Southern Daydreamer, and Barb at Grits and Glamour) who have created these special blogging days, below, so you can visit and see what the other participants have been up to!

Outdoor Wednesday

What's On Your Walls Wednesday

On my walls? Right now, paint, mostly. I haven't hung much in the way of framed things. But the paint? Whoa, baby, that gave me fits.

If I added up all the paint Howard and I have slapped on walls, I'd have -- well, I'd have one heck of a lot of paint. So, when we bought That Old House nearly a year ago, we figured we'd paint it ourselves.

All ten rooms of it.

One room later (in a Sherwin Williams soft green I can't remember the name of) ...

. . . and realizing that there were still 9 rooms to go, my husband suggested to me that the sweetest words in the world are not "Your Ebay item has been shipped," but ... "Pay the man!"

For the first time, we hired painters. Bliss and terror, in one fell swoop.

Bliss, because Danny and his crew gave an amazingly affordable quote for stripping wallpaper, fixing old plaster, and painting. Terror, because Danny handed me the enormous and intimidating Benjamin Moore color fan deck, and said, "Choose your colors. By tomorrow morning."

Yikes! I love color. I am a color junkie. But to choose so many colors from weensy little cardboard rectangles . . . scary stuff!
(The painters used the empty kitchen as their home away from home.)

I begged and got 2 days to make my choices. While Danny and the crew tore off wallpaper, patched, spackled, sanded . . . I sat at a tiny table in our conservatory and pored over those Benjamin Moore colors.

Here's what I finally chose, and what is on my walls!

Our front hall, above. To the left, the parlor in progress. The hallway is Moore's HC-45 Shaker Beige, which we used for the stair well and upstairs hall, also. You can see our red dining room through the doorway, in 1300 Tucson Red. More of that room is here.

Below, the parlor, in its new coat of HC-44 Lenox Tan. Surprisingly, Lenox Tan, Shaker Beige and Tucson Red are among Moore's most popular colors. I had no idea. My daughter Anne says I must have common tastes. Aren't children delightful? Well, she was kidding. She was. Really.

Now... up the front stairs...

The upstairs hall -- you can see the progress. Wallpaper down, walls under repair, spackle and primer on ... and finally the finished hall with its fresh clean paint!

This is the back bedroom, our official "guest room." It started as an aggressive lavender -- two shades -- with a wide floral border. It is now a clear pale yellow -- 198 Cornsilk. I love yellow walls; they make antique wood glow.
The hall bath. It is wearing a fresh coat of HC-143 Wythe Blue. This is a slightly more intense shade of HC-144 Palladian Blue -- the color we put in our master bedroom.

The front bedroom, nominally our daughter Alida's room, although as she is living in California for 5 years of graduate school, it is actually another guest room. It is painted in 015 Soft Shell, a pink that flirts a bit with peach. Very pretty color!

Not shown: my daughter Anne's rooms; she has two connecting rooms across the hall from the pink bedroom, but they are not yet painted. Anne wanted to do them herself. Yeah, that's worked out well. We are negotiating. As for my kitchen, it was due for renovation this year, but we are postponing it; I will live with its gold-ish walls for awhile longer.

Because of all the colors, I used the same paint for all of the woodwork, I-79 Atrium White. I am happy with my color choices, but oh my! I much prefer the usual system -- pick your rugs or fabrics first; you can always have paint mixed to match!

Now... for Outdoor Wednesday ... you can read the explanation, or just skip down to the pictures and enjoy! They are of Corey Creek, an inlet off Peconic Bay, and taken from my parents' front lawn.

Long Island is shaped like a fish, sort of, with its far ends slanting north and east into the cold Atlantic. The two "fins" at Island's end are called the "Forks." The South Fork is home to the fabled and gorgeous Hamptons, with wonderful fishing and farming, a rollicking social scene, and of course -- Ina Garten.

The North Fork is a much smaller land mass, and quieter than its riotous cousin across Peconic Bay. Dozens of vineyards and wineries have rescued the farming business (the climate and soil are almost identical to that of France's Bordeaux region), and the pace of life is slower, and I think sweeter.

In the winter of 1969, my parents saw a classified ad in the Sunday New York Times for a waterfront summer house in Southold, on the North Fork; they drove out and bought it that day.

In the 40 years since, the little house was expanded once, then twice, then again, and then in 1991 it was torn down completely, and my parents built their dream retirement place, a three story house with plenty of bedrooms, multiple decks, and a water view from every window.

This is what you see from their front lawn:
Now, to me, that is the Great Outdoors!
Thanks for visiting!