Monday, January 31, 2011

Flower Power

As promised, cue drum roll, the birth of Venus, a spring awakening, a reminder of gentler seasons for our friends in hotter climates or just some pictures of flowers around our house.  And yours I hope.

 Sunday was a sunny day here.  Perfect for leisurely placing flowers in vases and taking pictures in a contemplative state.  But oh no, we slept in late, had plans for brunch and shopping to do after.  So I offer you day and night.  In the morning I placed a branch of blooming quince in the living room and filled a stoneware vase with  some parrot tulips.  Vase courtesy of Goodwill.

 Later last night, I popped a few more flowers in bottles and scattered them around.  A couple of Juliette garden roses in an old bottle dug up by GG on a dog walk on Roosevelt Island and a shot size bottle of Patron tequila rescued from a New Years party.

Oh and two more bottles, one a former Balsamic vinegar holder, the other an airplane empty, both holding ranunculus and chillin' with Buddha..

And finally, one last stem of ranunculus in the hallway.

Now I ask you, what's in your wallet?  I mean house?  Bet you own more vases than I do.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World

It's 6:25 on a Saturday night and I am still at work.  Mad busy here today, one might even say plain old mad.  Waiting for the driver to return so I can go home.  I have just grabbed a few stems of what's left out of the cooler and they lay wrapped and wilting also ready to go home.

Because, come Monday. we're all going to be showing what's in our houses.  Flower wise that is.  And if you think I might have an unfair advantage because I work at a shop, you would be wrong.  I don't choose, I humbly take the leftovers.  And I don't "design", trust me, I put them in any available vase, sometimes snatching out the old and plopping in the new without even changing the water.  Don't  try this at home!

Home again, home again.  Flowers plopped unceremoniously in pitcher.  Tomorrow is another day.  I'm off to drown myself in the bath.  Talk soon.

xo Jane

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Messing Around With Flowers

We are having Weather.  That's right, with a capital W.  The morning was snowy, then rainy, thus slushy, then cold and windy.  The afternoon was quiet, then it hailed, then the snow started and continues. 

We had some quiet time at work so we played around making samples of more Valentines specials.  This one will be called Vintage Charm.  2 different designers, 2 different takes on the name.  But both charming I believe.

 The brandy snifter is filled to the brim with mimosa and roses, lilac, ranunculus and a few sweet peas.  It smells like the Garden of Eden must have,pre apple.

The milk glass compote is fragrant also with jasmine, rosemary, eucalyptus berries, roses, campanula, french heather, an oncidium orchid,  and a few dutch mini carns.  Couldn't resist their feathery edges.

Pictures finished, we fled the shop, calling dinner suggestions to one another as we slid to the cars.

Now I'm home, tucked up warm and dry, stew simmering on the stove.  Off to lounge around and read the new Garden Design.  Hope your evening is a cosy one whatever your weather.

xo Jane 

Monday, January 24, 2011

I Have An Idea.....

Not to make this all about Rachel again, but, we were chatting via email and she asked me if I would do a tutorial on how to make supermarket flowers look good.  She had several vases full at home and I asked her to send me some photos of them.  Totally charming was my response, no instruction needed.

Then she asked me what  flowers I had around my house today and  inspiration struck.  I thought how much fun if would be if one day, say next Monday, we all posted pictures of flowers we have around the house.

I know you all pretty well by now, you've all got something going on  indoors.   Flowers, dried seed heads, plants, branches, bulbs, all are fair game for a shoot and post. 

In answer to Rachel's question, I zipped around the house  shooting a little vase of sweet peas and a mini orchid in the bedroom, a branch of barely budding cherry in the dining room and am throwing in, at no extra cost to you, a picture of the Lab asleep in her brand new bed that was just delivered today.  I'm thinking she's loving it?

So what do you think?  Shall we do it?  I'll show you mine if you show me yours!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

An Egg A Day

I was going to do a post, a rather poignant one, about the fact we were on the last two of our hand delivered, straight from the farm eggs.  Are you reading this Geoff and Chuck?  We're out of your eggs.  The last two, a very lovely shade of pale blue, were eaten this morning.

I took a few pictures, we ate the eggs and then were off on a day of shopping, clothes and groceries (in the opposite order).

But before I had a chance to write my poignant post, I read one from my friend Rachel about her eggs this morning.  And I laughed out loud and decided to write this as an intro to hers.

Not a tear will be shed , except of laughter and perhaps recognition , in the reading of it.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Day Of Wine And Roses

24 days till Valentines.  Shake, shudder, flex my fingers, roll my shoulders back, roll them forward, take 5 deep breaths.  Take a xanax.

How it rolls: I come up with ideas for maybe 5 specials, give em a catchy name, add some color and flower ideas and make up some samples.

If you don't mind, I'll run them by you.  Let me know what you think,ok?

#1  Wine and Roses.  An assortment of flowers in hot pinks, burgundies and reds, to include some roses naturally.

Oh and orchids and callas and a protea, tulips and a sweet pea or three.
Next  round:   I'll be offering  a Champagne Toast.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Power Of The Written Word

I'm wondering, was I the last food addicted blogger to read Molly Wizenberg's book The Homemade Life?
I love her blog Orangette, so when I got a gift certificate for Barnes and Noble for Christmas, she was on my must read list.

The book was as satisfying and as filling as her recipes.  My only gripe is that she eats a lot of salads and makes them sound so delicious that we had salad for 3 nights, in January.  And, I was forced to go out and buy a much more expensive bottle of Balsamic vinegar than I usually use.

I just want you to picture the two of us huddled around the table, an ice storm outside, winds blowing, schools canceled, scores of workmen heavily salting the streets... and we're eating salad.  Of course, the salad was accompanied by warm, grain filled bread and our favorite Icelandic cheese, Hoefdingi.  But still...  Where's the soup? Where's the beef stew, the Coq au Vin, the meat pies... ?

Thank God she isn't a cannibal, for she's very persuasive ...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Going To The Chapel

Friday the 14th.  I worked a 1/2 day and then rushed home to get changed for the wedding. Juggling bouquet and boutonnieres, I walked into a house filled with  Hai's photographer's apparatus,( rather humbling to this blogger with her point and shoot) a bride in her black Chucks and a general air of happiness and hysteria

One hour later we piled into the car, GG driving , Tini applying makeup and myself stuffed in the back with The Hai and his cameras and microphone.  A quick stop at a CVS for pantyhose and we arrived at the courthouse.  You will be pleased to hear that we were kicked out of the licensing office and told to go wait in the hall because we were too rowdy and taking too many pictures. ?????
 ( I believe the gentleman in the photo with Tini, lodged the complaint)

The Hai suggests "You should never kiss the bride.  She's like a flagship for virus and bacteria."  ?????

High spirits, scientific thinking and viruses aside, the wedding went off with out a hitch. Vows were made, rings exchanged, a few tears shed ( always tears from me) and more pictures taken.  

Then off to Jaleo"s for tapas and paella.  10 people, enough food ordered for 20.  A successful recipe for happy guests. 

Mr. Exuberance has just caught the train back to Connecticut, the newlyweds have gone home and we are ready to curl up with newspapers, computers and books.  

And how was your weekend?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Love Actually

Big excitement here in Virginia.  More exciting than kale if you can imagine that.

Tomorrow night The Hai, as the German Girls father refers to himself arrives.  He's a handful of  exuberance ( his word).  Never seen without a glass of red wine in his hand or a camera around his neck.  He's that perfect combo: scientist/artist.

And to what do we owe the honor?  Tini, GG's sister will wed her true love Nirmal on Friday afternoon at a courthouse  in Maryland.  Then we'll all adjourn to a tapas restaurant and toast the bride and groom and fight to make toasts and take pictures.  At some point there will probably be dancing. 

This will somewhat ease the pain of not being able to go to India next month for the big wedding.

We'll need to refresh the house, scrub a few floors, fill the rooms with flowers, stock up on wine and bread and cheeses.  Much food will be consumed, many languages spoken and I hope we'll all bask in a weekend of love and happiness.

January continues to be very very good to us.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Mysteries Of Kale

Its colors, its textures, its earthy taste.  I love it cut into thin ribbons and added to soup close to the end of cooking.  I love it sauteed in olive oil with a bit of crushed red pepper and lots of garlic with a serious grind of black pepper and a shake of salt.

I made a pot of beef and barley soup for dinner.  It was snowing/sleeting outside and inside the house smelt safe and  welcoming.

GG came home from the gym and was digging around the refrigerator for a chunk of Parmesan cheese when she spied the kale.  She cleaned it, sliced and threw it in the pot.  

I warmed a baguette, poured her a glass of wine and we ate our comfort food.

We've just returned from a dog walk.  We were the only people outside in the beautiful snowy night.  Well us and a guy who was writing "Jesus" in the snow with his foot, then running down the hill away from us, stopping only to write "Jesus" again.

 The mysteries of kale run deep here in Virginia.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Gift A Month Club

I am loving the month of January.  The gift of January to me is time. 

I stay up later and on my days off, sleep longer.

GG's classes don't start until the 24th of the month and we have time for home projects.  Cleaning out the attic and making a BIG run to Goodwill.  Decorating the newly painted bedroom and hallway.

Time to spend with friends, usually around  the table eating.

Time to see movies, read more books, post more blog entries, daydream, nap and just breathe.

Last night one of our dinner guests told me I looked relaxed.  NOBODY ever says this , usually they tell me I look tired.

So the days are short ( but they're getting longer daily) and the weather's cold (  remember spring will hit here in two months people) the fact that I look, and feel rested is worth it all to me.

Last night's dinner with good friends was another gift in itself, we got good company and a dozen eggs from their farm and they got salmon smoked by GG's father and the roast.

 From the sounds of our meals these days and the comments you all have been leaving perhaps a little gym time this month would also be in order? 


Sunday, January 9, 2011


While I was living my life as usual, working 9 hours on Saturday,a  fast stop at the grocery then home for dinner and an evening spent watching old shows on the BBC, sad things were happening in our country.

This morning  as I was up and about drinking my lattes, caramelizing sugar for a dinner party tonight, giving the house a fast spiff up and loving life in general, people were mourning, others pointing fingers, others living in fear.

I picked up the newspaper at 2:00pm and read about the shooting in Arizona yesterday.  A federal judge killed, a Congresswoman hospitalized after being shot in the head, a 6 year old girl killed, the only girl on her little league baseball team. She had an interest in politics and wanted to meet Congresswoman Gifford.

The congresswoman was listed on Sarah Palin's Crosshairs map last year.  Targeted for her vote on health care.

This is not a political blog, but I can't not comment on this horrific event.  My prayers go out to all the families of the 6 victims of these insane  times we are living in.   

My dinner party will carry on and I'm sure there will be much discussion concerning the shootings and the hatred that lies behind them.

My friend Webb is correct, let's pray for the peace keepers.  They need all the help we can give them.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Long Time Gone

The ham is done, gone, eaten by us, the lab and as many friends as we could feed it too.

The last bite I had of it was in a pasta dish sharing the spotlight with cauliflower.

First I steamed a head of snowy white cauliflower broken into florets.   As the water boiled I sauteed a small chopped onion in a little olive oil along with equally small cubes of  the ham.  Then I added a few cloves of finely minced garlic, a scattering of crushed red pepper  and the steamed cauliflower.  I cooked  orecchiette pasta in the same water I used for steaming and when done combined all together in  the saute pan.  A few grinds of black pepper and salt, okay and a splash of heavy cream just because I had some in the fridge, a generous handful of fresh Parmesan cheese and a coating of toasted bread crumbs.

Did it need the ham?  No, it would be just as fulfilling without it, but it didn't need the cream either....

You all noticed I didn't make any New Year's resolutions didn't you?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Three French Hens

On the 11th day of Christmas my true love gave to me a wall hung with old photos of mine and older drawings from Germany of hers, three mirrors, two brass knobs and a butterfly.

On the 12 day of Christmas my true love gave to me a clean espresso maker, run through not once but twice with a vinegar/water solution and a clean oven.  All traces of that damn ham are erased away and I won't have to wait 30 minutes for a cup of espresso to drip through tomorrow morning.  Look out world I'm coming at you early.

On the 12 day of Christmas one of my favorite friends read the last blog entry and thought," Huh, answering phones at work because she's not busy?". So she gave me a ring and we had a much needed  hour long catch up call.

Now if a little elf or two would sneak in while we're sleeping and take the tree down, all would be perfect in my world.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

More Adventures In Wonderland

Sitting at work in the aftermath of Christmas.  Work has slowed down to a whisper and I'm forced to answer the phones to keep busy.

Conversation #2 with a customer :

May I help you?

I'd like to send flowers to my 9 year daughter at  her elementary school on Friday.
She's about to become a big sister and I want her to think it's still all about her.  She's been an "only" for 9 years now. So I want a flower arrangement, something bright and a balloon that reads" Congratulations on becoming a big sister".

We don't have a balloon like that, how about a You're Special balloon?

Yes, ok and maybe some candy and a stuffed animal and can you get it there first thing Friday morning?  Now I have to take this other call, it's my anesthesiologist calling back and I'm having contractions right now.  I need to get the C section scheduled and flowers for my daughter ordered today.

Um. sure.

Phone rings again, I'm waiting for some screams but we continue calmly with the order.

I should have taken another weeks holiday.  I'm not ready for this yet.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The House Of Mirth

Thank you all for the lovely New Years wishes.  We had a dinner and a little house party so removed the computer out of temptations way and I only got to read them late last night ( except for a little peek now and then).  And they made my heart happy.  I'm waiting for Nirmal to download the many pics he took so for now I give you words. Oh,and a few pre party pictures of GG and Pokey dancing up a storm and then the Pokester staring in horror at the people descending on us.

If we are to carry on as we begin, I will be several pounds heavier by this time next year.  New Year's Eve was delicious.  I did take liberties with Marie's meatball recipe, adding 3/4 of a pound of ground pork, upped the seasonings accordingly but leaving the other ingredients as is.  I also roasted them in the oven for 30 minutes being careful to add the juices to the sauce.  Then I swapped beef broth for chicken stock, beef being what was at hand.  They were light and tender  and very savory. Need I say more?  I finally  roasted the ham hoping to retain some meatballs for leftovers: success.  Tini and Nirmal arrived with bags of food: cheeses, olives, a salad of spinach and beets and mozzarella and garbanzo beans, a French apple tart for dessert and bottles of champagne and wine.  Kate and Jeff brought wine and games to play. The party continued on till the next afternoon with 6 hours only allotted for sleeping.

Now it's Sunday morning and I'm back on the blog, feeling a little full but very lucky.  Lucky in love, lucky in friendship and lucky to have met you all this past year.  Looking forward to more  shared inspiration, laughter  and undoubtedly a few more tears in 2011.  And skyping, Miss. P., definitely some skyping!  What ever that is.....

xo Jane