Thank you for finding That Old House amidst the chaos of the Internet. We are delighted that you are here.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Raindrops Keep Hanging On My Twigs . . . .

I use a simple point-and-shoot digital camera to take pictures for That Old House blog. My bar for picture taking is not set very high; once I learned about the Macro setting and my closeups weren't so blurry, my picture taking abilities soared from poor to mediocre.

But my husband, who took photography courses in college back when taking pictures involved chiseling crude drawings on the cave walls with a pointed stick, wanted a more challenging camera to play with.

For the last few days, nothing's been safe.


Welcome to Outdoor Wednesday at That Old House!

Thanks to Susan of A Southern Daydreamer for hosting.
Go visit, here, or click the logo at the end of the post.


A week ago, a new Nikon Something-Something Model SLR Digital camera arrived at That Old House, and Howard has been playing with his new toy ever since.

On a stroll around the house the other day, just as some of the endless rain was actually ending for a few hours, he snapped some shots.

Daffodils in bud, just waiting to make a break for it:

A stem of the world's fiercest weed; check out those thorns.
This is one wicked, wicked plant and is destined to go.

A small lilac branch, with a suspended rain drop.

If you look really closely, you can see two neighboring houses reflected in the drop -- one next to us, one across the street.
I love that -- two houses, captured in that tiny drop. Look below!

And then, That Old House herself, looking mighty sad and damp and, well, pretty awful.
In urgent need of a spring cleanup and sprucing-up. Where are the Christmas decorations when you need them?

Even Dion is not safe from the resident paparazzo.

But I am. My husband is no fool.

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Life Well Lived

Last week, I lost a friend unexpectedly, and far too soon. I had blogged about her home last August, here, and I also wrote about visiting her, and coming home with a couple of gifts for That Old House. I'm sharing that post, today, from June '09, about a minor metamorphosis, courtesy of my friend Barbara. Links to blog parties are below.


(June 29, 2009) -- Have you ever visited a house that just seemed
perfect? I don't mean that it was grand or spectacular, but that it was perfect for what it was -- someone's very special home -- and a true reflection of its owner.

I was lucky enough to visit such a home on Saturday.

Today I'm double-dipping in Blog Party Land ...
Metamorphosis Monday
(click here!) and Today's Thrifty Treasures (click here!).

Thanks to Susan of Between Naps on the Porch and Rhoda of Southern Hospitality for hosting.


I have a new friend -- Barbara -- whom I met last month at the home of an old friend.

Barbara invited our family (including Dion) for a barbecue on Saturday. If I had been bolder, I would have begged to take pictures of her house (and her pups, too!), to share with you.

Barbara's house is a 1930's era Sears kit house, and it is perfection. It nestles cozily into a beautiful established garden, crazy with bloom, with a tall hedge that I've already forgotten the name of, but that I need here at That Old House to screen out a new house next door. I would love to hire Barbara to give me garden design advice!

Inside, the house has been beautifully and carefully updated, and a wonderful room added across the rear, with built ins and big chunky rows of windows. . . but what makes this house so special is that it could only belong to Barbara; it is that personal.

I just loved it. Maybe I'll be invited back, and this time,
work up the courage to say, "May I invade your privacy, please?"

As we were leaving, Barbara told us she had something
she thought That Old House could use; she was right.
She gave us two of these:

I asked my daughter Anne if they could qualify as Thrifty Treasures,
and she said, "What is more thrifty than free?" She has a point.

So . . . on to the Metamorphosis, using our Thrifty Treasures. . . .

Here, $8 worth of supermarket flowers, beginning to lose their oomph!

Time to bring in a shorter vessel:

A pair of clippers, a steely resolve to toss the past-their-pull-date blooms,
and voila! A new look.

The dining room, meanwhile, looks a bit austere -- a big dark leafy philodendron
on the table, and two side windows looking rather bare, square and plain:

So. . . let's put a little color on the table:

And take the philodendron and put it in one of the plant stands from Barbara:

Take a pothos, swiped from the parlor, and pop into the other
plant stand, and in front of the other window:

And we have our metamorphosis --- a softened look,
with colorful flowers, healthy plants, and two lovely old iron stands!

From another perspective:

So it's a simple change today, or, as Anne put it, "Not much of a Metamorphosis, Mom."

But it's a change for the better -- albeit a small one -- and that's what counts. Right?

I am looking for a place for these plant stands in the sunroom, too, for the colder weather. Stay tuned; I have a feeling they will turn up again, and again.

A week ago, I took pictures of problem spots in our yard, to email to Barbara for her advice. I never got the chance to do so. Life is so unpredictable. I am grateful to have known this funny, smart, quirky, generous, talented woman even for so short a time.

Tell your friends and family how you feel. -- Cass

Friday, March 26, 2010

Matzoh Crack(er) Candy -- And Finding Beauty in Fertilizer!

It is Foodie Friday, my friends, and I am sharing a recipe I posted just about a year ago, right around Passover. It's a candy made with Matzoh, and it is so good that my sister-in-law refers to it as Matzoh Crack. I think the official name is Matzoh Toffee Crunch, or something equally high-falutin'.

So get your munchies on by visiting here for some fantastic recipe sharing with Gollum's Foodie Friday, at Designs by Gollum.

I'm also hopping like the Easter Bunny (we are very ecumenical at That Old House) onto the fluffy tails of two other blog parties: Fertilizer Friday at Tootsie Time, and Finding Beauty at Dipity Road. Links to all blogs are at the end of this post, or just click on the highlighted words!

So . . . we mentioned candy?

Long time readers have seen this before, but it's too good not to share with new readers, and it is soooooo easy. I'm filching the text and pictures from last year's post, because I am not making it this year; if I did, I would eat it, and that would not be a good thing.

What you need:

* About 1/2 of a box of regular, unsalted Passover Matzoh (not "Egg Matzoh." Feh.)
* 1 cup butter -- 2 sticks (Hey, it's candy. Not health food.)
* 1 cup packed brown sugar -- light but dark works in a pinch
* 1 to 2 cups real chocolate chips (depending on how thick you want the chocolate)

* (Optional: sprinkle the top with chopped nuts. Or you can use more creative toppings, like chopped candied ginger, drizzles of melted white chocolate, melted butterscotch or peanut butter chips, ice cream "sprinkles," crushed toffee chips, whatever you like. Not anchovy-stuffed olives.)

What you do:
1) Line a big cookie sheet (jelly roll pan) with aluminum foil, and spray the foil with cooking spray.
2) Lay out the matzoh on top of the foil, single layer. Break as needed to fit, like a jigsaw puzzle.

3) Bring brown sugar and butter to a boil in a heavy saucepan.

Let it boil till it doesn't look "oily" on top, about 3 minutes.

4) Pour the butter/sugar mixture over the pan of matzoh, spread it out.

Pop the pan into a preheated 350-degree oven, for about 10 - 12 minutes, or until it bubbles on top. This may take as long as 15 minutes -- the caramel will bubble and get slightly darker, but watch so it doesn't burn, which can happen quickly.

5) Remove pan from oven and spread the chocolate chips on the hot matzoh.

Allow the chips to get glossy (melted), and then spread them over the matzoh with a knife or spatula.

6) Optional ... sprinkle finely chopped nuts or other topping, into still-soft chocolate. I melted some butterscotch chips -- I didn't have anything more exotic in the pantry -- and drizzled it with a fork over the chocolate. Not very pretty, but it will look better broken up.

And ... now let the candy cool down; you can pop it into the fridge if you are impatient. When it's COOL, you break it into smaller pieces. Taste. Enjoy. It is good, no?

Now you know why the Israelites made sure they grabbed
that matzoh they were baking before they high-tailed it out of Egypt.

This candy will keep for at least a week in an airtight container, but good luck with that. It might be easier to double the recipe, and just make two pans at once.

And a final note -- most recipes you find for this specify unsalted butter. I've used both, and I actually like the touch of salt from salted butter, as it's a welcome foil to the intense sweetness of the caramel and chocolate.

When it's not Passover,you can make this with unsalted Saltine crackers ( funny is that? "Unsalted Saltines."). Saltine candy is OK ... but made with matzoh the candy has a flakier, lighter base, and I think is better. Plus, it has wackier shapes when broken up -- no scoring on matzoh.


And as for finding beauty on this gray Friday, my husband went out with his
brand-spanking-new digital SLR and took some shots of spring . . . .

And my favorite shot -- this tiny daffodil. It can't be bigger than a quarter.
How adorable is that?

Now, click on the logos below, and have some fun.
Howard and I are off to bring a pizza lunch to my Dad in rehab, where he's slowly regaining his balance and able to walk once again. Have a lovely Friday! -- Cass

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Meet The Guildhall Guys

I meant to have a sparkling tablescape today, using my new Imari-style dishes that I picked up for a song in Pennsylvania on Saturday.

But -- some things interfered and there was, again, no time. In fact I am cooking dinner as I write this post; it's nearly 6:30.

I'm joining in two Thursday blog parties -- Vintage Thingies Thursday and Thrifty Thursday.
There are links to these at the end of the post; you and I should both visit!

So . . . let me introduce you to The Guildhall Guys:

There are 6 of them; all brothers.

They arrived at our house as homeless paupers, but they'll be leaving as princes!

A couple of weeks ago, as I was cruising Ebay, I found a listing for 6 silverplate knives with stainless blades, in the Guildhall pattern by Reed & Barton. Now, I am pretty familiar with silverplate patterns, and this was a new one for me. So, I Googled it and discovered that . . .

. . .Guildhall was indeed a Reed & Barton pattern, but was only made in . . .

. . . Sterling!

So, what to do? The auction began at $15.00 for all 6 knives. I bid.
And I won, as I was the only bidder.
Six vintage sterling Reed & Barton knives for $15.00. And $5.00 shipping.

There's a lesson here. If you sell on Ebay, research what you are selling. Take that extra minute and Google or otherwise find out what you are putting up for auction, or someone else will do it for you! I know that as I begin to sell on Ebay now and again, I'm going to check carefully for any teeny-tiny marks!

Aren't they pretty, the Guildhall guys? They play well together, these old dudes.
They need a careful polishing, so as to leave the patina intact.

I don't think you will see them in a tablescape. I'm listing them on Ebay.
They are lovely knives, it's a lovely pattern, but I can't afford the forks and spoons that match!

And visit Leigh at her Tales from Bloggeritaville Blog for Thrifty Thursday, and Suzanne at Coloradolady blog for her Vintage Thingies Thursday. Just click on the logos, left!

See you tomorrow; it's Friday! -- Cass

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Am I Early, or Late? A Tuesday-Wednesday Post!

Here it is, nearly 8:00 . . . and that is P.M.
And I am just getting around to a post. Sometimes, life interferes.

On Monday I promised to reveal the dishes that Anne and I traveled down to Philadelphia to get; one of my Craigslist finds. I love these dishes. Anne loathes them.

You are free to voice your opinion: love 'em or leave 'em?

12 dinner plates, 12 saucers and 11 cups filled a big plastic bin:

One set.

And the whole clan, together, on my dining room table.

Now even Anne would have to admit that the colors (that red!) are great in our dining room.

No time today for a tablescape or a posed picture; maybe Thursday!

They are stylized Imari style china, from Mikasa.
The Shogun pattern, made between 1978 and 1987.

I paid $25.00 for all 35 pieces, plus the cost of gas to Philly!

Some more teases. See this?

There's a great Ebay story behind that knife, and 5 of its fellows.

And just when I thought there weren't any more good bargains
in old linens on Ebay, what did I find?

You'll have to come back on Thursday to find out!

I'm tagging along on two blog parties, grabbing the coattails just in time
for one from Tuesday, and hopping on early for a Wednesday one!

And Sue at It's A Very Cherry World hosts ... what else? ... Wednesday is REDnesday! Visit!

S0 what do you think? The china? Keepers? Or do I list them on Ebay?
Or ... give them to Anne for her birthday! -- Cass