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Monday, May 31, 2010

On Being A Lucky Duck

I am a Lucky Duck.
I hope that I am also a grateful Duck, and remember to focus on the good all around me.

I've got both my daughters here for this beautiful holiday weekend,
and Annie repeated her decorating feat of last year --
she tarted up That Old House in patriotic bling:

Memorial Day 2009:

How lucky is that? Two years in a row with crazy Dollar Tree decor!
But that's not all.

On Saturday, Annie and I were supposed to go to the mill ends store for some fabric, but by the time we got there it was closed. Luckily, there's a big Goodwill Store nearby. We swam on over.

We got some really neat stuff, including this reproduction silverplated fan vase by Godinger:

I haven't polished it up yet.

I really like the piercings along the top border:

I think it cost $2. There's one on eBay right now for $25.

Lucky, lucky . . . but luckier still -- another item we found at Goodwill for $7.
It is worth about forty times that amount.
I'll blog about it tomorrow, once I am over the shock.

Also tomorrow, something from the estate sale we went to on Sunday.
More lucky-duckness.


At That Old House we are lucky that this year, the deer are staying away from our old roses, behind the house. So for this Memorial Day, we've got many shades of red a-bloom; that is lucky indeed!


Ready for another Lucky-Duck-Tale?
I am a Winner!
Nancy's Daily Dish sponsored a Giveaway for a $30 Gift Certificate to
Weaves Beads, which does some really lovely beaded serving pieces; you can click
on the highlighted words to visit Nancy's lovely blog, or visit the Etsy shop of Weaves Beads.
Thank you, Nancy! I am looking forward to "spending" my gift certificate.

And, finally . . .

This Memorial Day, I am conscious of how lucky I am to live in these United States.
I owe that to the dedication and sacrifice of other Americans, who gave their time,
their youth, sometimes their lives, so that I could be as lucky as I am.
It is that individual.
They served, so I did not have to.

To my Dad, Howard's Dad, my brothers, to our friends in the military,
and to the thousands of people who served and are serving still . . .
Thank You just doesn't seem a big enough phrase, but it's all I've got.

I'm showing off our cottage at Cielo's House in the Roses
Show Off Your Cottage Monday.

And Mary of Little Red House, whose Red House has been hopping with kids home, too,
has gorgeous spring flowers in her beautiful collage for Mosaic Monday.

Have a happy and safe holiday. . . . quack quack! -- Cass

Friday, May 28, 2010

Making Lunch Out Of Leftovers, and the Awful Truth About Beach Cottages

I'm showing off our family beach house just a little bit this Friday, and in a way you might not expect.

Also -- some nice lunch ideas, recipes (of a sort) included.
But first, a little bit of what you don't see when you look at those magazine or blog photos of beautiful beach houses . . . .


It takes some doing to keep a waterside house in good shape -- especially one near salt water.
It's not all white and aqua and shells and beach chic.

Without constant maintenance, these things happen:

Rust on the big white cleat on our bulkhead.

Our neighbor's bulkhead, slowly rotting away. She is a busy lawyer, and rarely visits.

On the edge of one of our deck planks, an odd colony of lichen or moss has taken hold.
It looks like odd teensy trees are growing there. Can you see those red-tipped trunks poking up?

Among the decor items at a beach house are some odd fellows.

Tiny crabs:

Transparent baby shrimp. You can see their insides from their outsides.

On the deck, a doomed Parson Spider is blissfully unaware that he is soon to meet his Maker.
I'll spare you the pictures the kids took of the aftermath.
It's bad enough I showed you ants in closeup yesterday!

That's my Show and Tell for Friday.
Visit My Romantic Home blog for more exhibitionism! :-)

For Foodie Friday, we're doing lunch. Twice. I hope you are hungry.

What do you do when there are people needing lunch, you haven't been to the market,
and there are just some random leftovers in the fridge?

You make something up!

That's sauteed broccoli rabe with garlic in the plastic bowl, some leftover pan-fried
Long Island flounder in the bag, a bit of grated Asiago cheese, some cream cheese . . . .

Let's make a cold soup.

Into the food processor goes the broccoli rabe; puree the heck out of it. Toss in a few chunks of cream cheese, a handful of grated Asiago, pulse and puree that, and then thin it all with whatever you've got; I had lowfat milk, but I wish I'd also had some good chicken broth.

We will have it cold, so after a final go-round in the Cuisinart,
it's ladled into bowls, and a little dribble of cream is swirled into it.

Only I don't have cream; milk substitutes.
Not as effective, but heck -- it's just us! Add salt and pepper to taste.

You can do this with almost any leftover veggie.

My Mom did this all the time with the zucchini her kids didn't eat. She called it "Vicchy-squash" and served it cold -- pureed the zucchini, added a bit of milk or broth, some salt -- that was it! No need for any cream cheese; I added that to the broccoli rabe to temper the bitterness.

Now what about that flounder?

Preheat your oven -- 500 degrees.

Put the fish into a bowl and mash it coarsely with a fork. Add in some grated cheese, a plop of mayonnaise, a few squeezes of fresh lemon juice, and a few grinds of pepper. Mix it all up with the fish, until you have a coarse, paste-like mixture.

Cut a baguette into slices, and brush a small amount of olive oil on top of each; pop them into a 500-degree oven and toast for a few minutes till they smell amazing, and look golden. Out of the oven, cover each bread slice, topside, with fish mixture.

Back into the oven, till warmed through and slightly browned on the tips.

Lunch! Cold soup, hot fish sandwiches.

If you don't have leftover flounder, there are other fish in the sea. Or supermarket.

Go buy a couple of cans of solid white tuna in water, and make these sandwiches:

Heat your oven to Broil. Gather your ingredients -- these things, plus an onion:

Slice up the onion -- I used a red one -- and saute it in a bit of olive oil till nicely squiggly and translucent.

Drain the canned tuna, and mix with:
mayonnaise, capers, dried oregano, the juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon depending on your taste, and a grind or two of pepper.

Taste to see if you've got enough oregano; it's surprising how much it can take!

Slice a crusty loaf -- ours is our favorite sourdough -- and cover each slice with tuna salad. Add some cooked onions to the top, and then some cheese.
I used sharp cheddar, but provolone or Swiss or just about any other cheese would work as well.

Into the broiler, top rack, for 3 to 4 minutes or until hot and slightly browned and bubbly.

These sandwiches are also great with thinly sliced ripe tomatoes in place of the onions.

With a bit of salad, or cole slaw, or just some red ripe grape tomatoes,
they make a terrific lunch. Just ask Alida:

She didn't want her face in the pictures;
probably doesn't want to be identified as the girl who ate two big tuna melt sandwiches!

But we were all members of the Clean Plate Club that day.

Michael Lee West hosts Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum.

At Cindy's Romantic Home, it's Show and Tell Friday.

Have a wonderful weekend -- the traditional kick-off to the summer season.
Fly the flag! It's Memorial Day. -- Cass

Thursday, May 27, 2010

It's Beauty and the Beasts at That Old House -- Invite the Ants for Lunch

So, you think I'm kidding about inviting the ants?
Sadly, no.

On Tuesday, after Alida and Howard and I finished our lunch, I noticed a couple
of tiny ants wandering aimlessly around on the old wood floor, at the corner of the oriental rug.

Oops. Did we leave crumbs from a past meal? The dining room gets used a lot,
especially on muggy days -- it's cooler in there -- and just maybe isn't vacuumed after every meal.

My bad.

But we know what to do about those little black creepy-crawlies,
and I'll tell you all about it at the end of this post. You have been warned.

Here's an ant's eye view of today's table setting:

And a stomach's eye view:

And a human's eye view:

It's a casual summertime luncheon, set for two.
Among the things I used:

***Mid 20th-century silverplate flatware, in the Exquisite pattern by Wm Rogers & Son.
It is grille or viande style, with the elongated handles and smaller-than-usual bowls and blades. Technically it belongs to daughter Anne, but she's not here, so ha-ha! 'Tis mine today.
***My friend Betsy gave me the amethyst glass and pewter hurricane.
***The small spaniel figurine is a gift from a dog breeder friend.
Yes, she breeds Cavaliers. What else?
***Salt and Pepper shakers -- apple and pear. HomeGoods.
***The crystal Pilsener glasses were Howard's treat to himself years ago,
at Bloomingdale's I think.
***The green checkered mugs were a gift to us from our daughters' friend Nick,
who came to our House Blessing party in March '09.
***The chubby little plum-colored vase is a recent yard sale find from this weekend; it's filled with Peruvian Lilies, or Alstroemeria -- one of the best bargains in cut flowers; they can last for 3 weeks, and a bunch at our supermarket costs less than $4 year-round.

***The placemats belonged to my Mom, and have matching napkins but I didn't use them. Instead, I used napkins I serged about 10 years ago. I considered several napkin choices before deciding on the printed ones.

***Lastly -- green Dollar Tree dinner plates. I love their concentric circles, and their nice big size.
We used them on Wednesday for lunch in the dining room:

We were all clean plate club!
I'll be sharing some summer lunch recipes tomorrow for Foodie Friday.

You are welcome to join us, if you can wait for me to set another place.

At least we have enough chairs in this dining room. Too many, in fact!
Have you met the latest members of our That Old House Chair Brigade?

This one is waiting for you . . .

Its sister is posing coyly by the window:

There are five of them, Thomasville brand Queen Anne chairs in cherry.
We bought them at an estate sale in Bergen County, and need you ask?
Yes, they were a good buy!

They need some scratch cover and polishing, and new seat fabric that will go with our red room.
You are invited to come with me to look in the $1.00 a yard decorator fabric room
at the mill ends store in Fairfield. . . . but you better get here fast, I want to go today!

Do you think I chose the right napkin for the setting?

A confession:
I could only find one of the napkins that match the placemats. The other 3 must be in the wash!

We -- Alida, Howard and I -- have been gathering at the window end of the dining room for meals this week.
It's cool, it's quiet, and we love looking out on the side lawn.

See you tomorrow, for summer lunch recipes fit for company,
when you have nothing in the house to eat!

Now you can visit Susan at Between Naps On The Porch for the many, many wonderful
tablesettings showcased in her Tablescape Thursday.

Leigh of Tales from Bloggeritaville is hosting Thrifty Thursday.
Join in the fun by participating or by visiting!


And now, as promised -- or threatened -- a primer on how to get rid of ants in your home.

Forget sprays and little plastic disc traps. What you need to do is go to a well-stocked hardware store,
or Home Depot or Lowe's, even Amazon, and find this: Terro Liquid Ant Bait.

Even more economical, is to buy the Terro Liquid in a little bottle,
apply it to bits of cardboard, and place it where the ants go marching one by one.

It will not hurt pets or people.
It is a sweet thick liquid, laced with Borax. It is Ant Crack; the little buggers love the stuff.
Be prepared. It gets a bit creepy -- literally -- when you put down Terro Ant Bait.

the ants go from marching one by one, to this:

They will swarm the Terro Bait. You must get past your ick-ick-ick-eeeeekkk! factor, and resist stomping on these swarming ants, because they are the tiny traitors who will tote the bait back to the nest and the queen, and -- patience, patience, patience -- with us it took only 15 hours -- no more ants!

Spraying ants only croaks the ones you spray. This liquid bait sticks to the ants, and they can't help but bring it back home with them. It's deadlier than when your husband brings home Dunkin' Donuts.

Speaking of husbands, Howard took that shot of our dining room floor with the Ants Gone Wild image.
I was 3 rooms away, and satisfied with his play-by-play descriptions.

Ant invasions are rare at That Old House, but we had them more frequently at our old house, and we got pretty savvy about getting rid of them. We found success every time when we switched to the Terro Bait.

The Terro company has not paid me to tell you this -- the Terro company doesn't know I exist!
I'm just a satisfied customer who hates ants. -- Cass