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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Summer Blooms on Sunday Favorites

Here it is, the last day of January, and I already have Spring Fever.

What to do? Well, since I can't hurry the seasons,
I can at least look back 6 months and remember what it was like at That Old House in late July. . . .

Here's a post from July 29, 2009 -- I hope you enjoy it.
You can click to see other re-issued posts at the end of this post,
where you will find links to other Sunday Favorites posts. (Thanks, Chari!)


What is in bloom, in late July, at That Old House?

Last week, I discovered that what I thought were old iris leaves just hanging out, waiting for the axe to fall, were, in fact, fresh green gladiolus leaves, just hanging out waiting for their flowers to pop.

And pop they did!

I really like this color, with the dark border; so pretty in pink.
(Calling the real gardeners: is that called a picotee edge?)

Sadly, some heavy wind and rain felled a couple of the spikes, so they will be nipped and moved into That Old House;
she loves getting gussied up with fresh flowers.

Nearby, the trusty cosmos:

and amazingly prolific hibiscus are still pumping out the blooms.

Up along the driveway, it's rioting daisies:

On the stone wall side, the daisies are collapsing under their own weight:

Ack! Weeds! Cover your eyes.

I love over-the-top, devil-may-care Rudbeckia; we've got them all over the place:

They are doing their best to choke out this blue hydrangea;

Perhaps this poor guy needs a new home come fall:

The purple and lavender hydrangea are blooming, also, up above the stone wall:

And a tomato is happily ripening.
We don't have too many tomato plants but they are all Fertile Myrtles.

Also along the stone border -- some old-fashioned phlox:

That's a funny name.
Who came up with that name for such a pretty flower?
Phlox. Phlox.
Nope, doesn't get any better.

"Honey, get the paper towels! The dog is phloxing on the good rug!"

Is there another name for these guys? Are they also called Sweet William?

Up on top of the border, on the driveway level, the "Autumn Joy" sedum is looking like anemic broccoli.
With sedum, that's a good thing; it will reward us in the fall.

I never much liked wax begonias, till I realized how amazingly easy these scrappy little things are, and how they can suffer brutal gardening abuse and neglect and still look like this:

Oops. I think I just confessed to brutal gardening abuse and neglect. Guilty.

One more outdoor shot, this one from Sunday:

We went to a family baptism on Long Island.
That's baby Andrew, at the party afterward, hanging onto Uncle Howard.

And I guess it is Great-Uncle Howard, actually. Yikes.
My great uncles smoked stinky cigars and wore their pants hiked up under their nipples.

I think Dion is telling me it is time to leave the computer, and give him a treat.
He may be right. We could both use a good walk! -- Cass


Now don't forget to visit Chari at her Happy To Design blog,
for other Sunday Favorites!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Back Home, With Loot

The Thrifting Bug does not lie dormant, even when it is on vacation.

Even when it is soaking up the mild temperatures and balmy breezes of a Florida January.

Even when it has to brazenly and shamelessly say to its mother-in-law, "Oh, I love that plate!"


Well now, what would you have done, if your mother-in-law
put out some of her delicious cinnamon sticks on such a beautiful old plate as this:

I'm joining Show And Tell Friday, so you can visit
Cindy's My Romantic Home blog for more showing-and-telling!


Howard's mom spoils me.

All I did was say that I loved the old plate,
and she started asking if we could find a way to bring it home on the plane.

Well, heck, if I'd had to tie it on my head and wear it as a sombrero I'd have found a way!

It is Mason's Ironstone, and it has a little bit of crazing because after all, it is a little bit old.

We all get a little bit of crazing with time.

It's stamped, and it's got incised markings also. Any Mason's experts out there?
I suspect this is early 20th century.

I love the colors, still so brilliant. Roses:

... and morning glories!

It's such a happy little plate, and it's got an interesting bit of family history behind it.

Turns out, the Thrifting Bug has long infected the womenfolk on both sides of our family. This plate was found by Howard's grandmother at the Morgan Memorial, or Goodwill store, in Boston many years ago.

Nana loved to find bits and pieces of old, pretty china and bring them home. My mother in law, Irene, does the same thing. So did my mother, and so do I. And so does my daughter Anne.

Is there genetic screening for this?

As for those wonderful cinnamon sticks, we left the recipe behind in Florida so I'll have to wait till next week to share that with you. Right now, I will leave you with a raisin peeking coyly out from the sugary spicy depths:

Have a lovely Friday. We traded 72 degrees for 27 degrees in 2-1/2 hours last evening, coming back from Palm Beach. Yikes.

But, still, it is always good to get back to That Old House. And Dion! -- Cass

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Going Native

So here I am at a hotel in Boca Raton in Florida, stealing a few moments on Howard's laptop.

Only a few moments -- the last time I used his laptop, last summer, he had to go thru all sorts of new security clearances afterward. I'm not sure how that could have been my fault, but. . . .

We left New Jersey on Monday morning amidst a terrible wind and rain storm, on just about the last on-time flight out before the 5-hour delays and cancellations began at Newark Airport.

Yesterday, we visited my friend Mardi -- who sometimes visits my blog (Hello Mardi!) -- at the house she shares with her husband Joe in Parkland. And now I understand why Mardi and Joe happily ditch New Jersey for Florida for half the year. The half with the snow and the ice and the 17 degree high temperatures. Their house, and its setting, are just beautiful.

We had lunch by their pool. Gorgeous view; they overlook a little lake and Joe has done fabulous landscaping. I will have to put a big paper bag over the yard at That Old House when they visit in the summer, after seeing their beautiful plantings.

Howard took a phone picture from where we sat for lunch:

And another pic of one of the many cactii Joe has nurtured in the screened pool area.
Although he says his nurturing consisted of planting them, and then standing back.

This one is so big, you can stand in its shade.
I have some cactii at home. They can fit in a tea cup.

We'll be back on a plane for New Jersey at 3 tomorrow afternoon. Today, Howard is replacing his Dad's computer printer, and then we're taking the folks out to lunch along the beach.

And I am going native: It's January, and I am not wearing socks!

Have a lovely Wednesday. I know we will! -- Cass

Monday, January 25, 2010

Uncle Marty's Inca Treasure

You are part of an experiment. Howard and I have abandoned New Jersey for a few days in Florida, but I wrote this post on Sunday, and scheduled it to be published late Monday night. Hmm... I guess if you are reading this, the experiment worked! -- Cass


So . . . as my brothers and their wives prepare to fold their tents and decamp from Long Island in favor of warmer climes, I get occasional phone calls from Lindy, the first born and the undisputed pack rat of our family.

The phone calls usually begin like this: "Hey, Cassy, would you like to have . . . ."
And almost always -- yes, I would indeed.

Last March, Lindy gave me these two darling little wire chairs:

The girls and I painted them red, in the process turning our front yard into
what looked like a bloody crime scene. All that was missing -- yellow tape and chalk outlines of bodies.

The wire chairs now live, with two red ice cream parlor chairs, in Annie's apartment kitchen.
I have made it clear to her that they are on loan.


This past Saturday, Lindy gave me an old rocking chair that belonged to our Grandmother.

It's going to need a little work, unless I want to change it into a rocking potty chair.
No? I didn't think so. Just a thought.


Next time we get together, Lindy is giving me Uncle Marty's Inca Treasure.

Uncle Marty was my mother's only brother; he and his wife had no children, and when they moved out West years ago, Lindy happily adopted some of their household goods.

Among them, something Lindy nick-named: Uncle Marty's Inca Treasure.
Here are some pictures, courtesy of my brother:

It is clearly not an Inca treasure., but actual facts matter little to Lindy.
He once tried to prove a theory that sleep is a habit, and you don't really need those Zzzzzsss.

Anywho, the Inca Treasure is a very cute tile-topped iron table, and for years it has held sweaty martini glasses during summers on my brother's screened-in back porch.

I think it is adorable, and it's going to become our new drinks table on the front porch at That Old House.
We had a larger table last summer, but now it, too, is in Annie's apartment kitchen. On loan.

Of course, this means that the rockers and chairs we painted red last summer are going to have to be re-painted to make the Inca Treasure feel at home. Lindy took one picture next to a can of spray paint, to give me an idea of the size of the table, and is including the can of paint in the deal.

He says if I bring the table to The Antiques Roadshow and it turns out to be outrageously valuable,
that he wants his can of spray paint back.

What do you think? What color should we paint the chairs
and rockers this summer?
And don't say white!

Well, that's my Three Or More things that I got from my brother Lindy!
Thanks to Tam at The Gypsy's Corner for her blog party. Go visit!

And check in with Diane at A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words for Second Time Around Tuesday.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sunday Favorites -- Grandma's Cake

On Saturday, my brother Kirby -- who is moving with his wife Doris to Virginia any minute -- gave us their snowblower. This will ensure mild and snow-free winters for the state of New Jersey, in perpetuity.

Also on Saturday, my other brother Lindy -- who is moving with his wife Carol to North Carolina one of these years -- gave me a rocking chair that had belonged to my grandmother. It needs a little TLC, and I'll get pictures of it soon.

Lindy says it was the nursery rocker for my Dad and his many siblings.
I think a rocker I already have in our front pink bedroom --

-- is Grandma's old nursery rocker. Who is right? Well, I am of course.

But I still like the other rocker, and it deserves a makeover.


Since I'm hopping on Chari's Sunday Favorites blog party bandwagon, I thought I'd share a post from almost a year ago, about my Grandma's cake. I'd make it myself today, except we are getting ready to scarper off to Florida on Monday.

Play nice while I am gone!


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. (Now nearly 90!)

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 fell 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. (Note: If you are using a high speed mixer, like a Kitchen Aid, cut back on the mixing a bit.)

Bake at 350 for approx. 1 hour.

(It's not written down, because 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! -- Cass

Update... I made the Grandma Cake ... Yum.
Pics and story here!