Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ten Things I Can't Live Without - Pigtown Design

I have met so many interesting people thru blogging.  Some live around the globe, some are 45 minutes away by car or train.

Meg, of Pigtown Design, is almost a neighbor.  She is a design aficionado who reports on what's hot and what's not in Baltimore, New York, England and on line. The world is truly her oyster and she probably has the necessary plates to serve it on. And I am so familiar with the cadence of her writing: what she finds funny and what she finds desirable I feel I could pick her out in a line up.  Though I hope I never have to :-)
I have to to say, I agree with her "list of" and wonder why some of these aren't a must with me too... enjoy!

1) My dog, Connor. When I first realized I was back in the States to stay, the first thing I did was go to the city’s animal shelter and adopt a dog. Connor was about five then, and was a wild child. But he’s mellowed into a real sweetie pie. I probably should have put my family and friends first, but since I see more of Connor than any other living being, he’s tops on the list.

2) Champagne. One of the bad habits I picked up in the UK was drinking champagne. I rarely drink hard liquor, so I always order a glass (or three) of champagne while I am out. There is usually a bottle of decent champagne in the fridge, too.

3) Down. I’ve had a feather mattress for ages, and to me, winter or summer, there’s nothing better than sleeping on one. I also have down pillows, and an eiderdown duvet. I just use the duvet and the duvet cover, even in the winter when I keep the house cool cold at night, and I am cozy and snug.  Here’s Connor napping on one of my old eiderdowns.

4) China. I “inherited” a ton of Royal Copenhagen’s Blue Fluted Half Lace china a few years ago, and when I moved last year, I decided that I should use it as my everyday china. It makes everything I eat, from poptarts to pork loin feel like it is a little more special.

5) Cashmere. I can’t stand the feel of wool sweaters, so started buying one cashmere sweater here and one there… Then in my thrift shop travels, I really started finding them, and buying them for a few dollars each. Unfortunately, the moths ate their way through some of them this summer, so I’ve made patchwork scarves from the sweaters.

6) Copper pots & pans. Before I moved to the UK, I had a massive collection of copper pots, pans and moulds, but I sold most of them. I did keep one great set of French pots and pans that my parents had given me for a significant birthday. There are about a dozen pieces in the set, and they’re just great to cook with. And I don’t even mind polishing them!

7) A Volvo. I’ve driven a Volvo almost since I could drive and have loved every one of them. I even drove a Volvo wagon in the UK, since it was almost the only car I could find that was an automatic. I love that my wagon fits almost everything I can think to put in the back – including a six-foot long church pew! But the best thing is the heated seats, especially on a cold morning!

8) Books. I grew up in houses that had libraries with loads of books. My father used to review books, and there were always stacks of them around. I read all of the time, and am lucky to have a free bookstore close to my house. I have loads of books on myriad topics around the house for reference, but I am not averse to reading some trashy chick-lit books!

9) French Ivory Cutlery. I started collecting pieces of this cutlery years ago, and I’d occasionally find a knife, and once in a blue moon, a fork. When I moved to the UK, it was everywhere and dirt cheap! But I always wondered why there weren’t any spoons. A British friend said they never made them, and then had a set of eight made for me. They are one of my favourite things and I love them for so many reasons.

10) Friends and family. I am lucky to have both friends that I’ve known since childhood and friends I’ve just met. And even luckier to have a family which is close by!

 Meg thank you so much for such a well curated list.  I just love this last picture of you and all your boys. look forward to hanging out together in the near future.

xo Jane

Monday, January 30, 2012

Back In Black

Oops, I guess the one thing I forgot to put on my can't live without list was good health.

That little cold got a hold of me and whupped me good.  I even took time off from work and I usually reserve time outs for the 7 year itch or the every 5 year flu.

I'd like to write a paean  to the neti pot here but if you don't know what they are never mind, TMI, and if you  already use one you know what I'm talking about.

As I was lying about on my fainting couch, sipping hot water, honey and lemon, napping, reading, cursing in Olde English the fates were gathering to make my life just that little nicer.

I won a giveaway from Annie at Lovely Things and and before I could respond to her comment I was opening a smartly wrapped parcel that contained an assortment of black and white objects: beads, #2 Ticonderoga pencils,black and white straws, a beautiful wool black and white scarf and a note from Annie with her signature swipe of blackboard paint at the top and my initial written in chalk.

All this good taste cheered me up no end.

And today I took myself out for a usual Monday afternoon of eating and shopping with my BFF's and Blaise gave me a necklace he had made for me of black pearls strung on black leather. He made the other crazy, Ann, a necklace of black rooster feather trimmed in black velvet.

Needless to say we both felt v. glamorous and ready for the next awards show.

So a big thank you to Annie and Blaise ( named after a Catholic saint, not a stripper).
Wednesday, hump day for most everyone excepting florists and hairdressers, shall be the next 10 Things I Can't Live Without List.

I know you'll all love reading these as much as I have.

Till then, wash your hands, you don't want this cold!

xo Jane

Thursday, January 26, 2012

10 Things I Can't Live Without

Well I had a fabulous opener for the first day of the 10 things I Can't Live Without world series BUT I was shamed by my fellow bloggers into writing my own list first. Fair enough. 

  10 Things I Can't Live Without:

1.  GG of course and the Lab.  From our first dinner date at home when GG flung a dish towel over her shoulder and served the soup and then insisted on washing the dishes, I have been spoiled, encouraged in all my endeavors, pushed when I couldn't go one more step in the right direction, argued with, laughed with and occasionally at, praised, scolded and loved for just being me.  The real me, the goofy me, grumpy me, bitchy me, funny me. And the Lab?  I didn't know from unconditional love till I met her.

2.  The printed word: novels, magazines, blogs, newspapers, cookbooks,mysteries, bios.  I always have a section of the newspaper folded up in my purse in case I am caught somewhere without anything to read.  I didn't grow up in a TV household, we read.  It was nothing for me to stagger home from the library with a stack of 10 or 12 books, it still isn't.  I would hide a book anywhere.  I even tried to keep one behind my sheet music while I was "practicing" the piano or on the windowsill when doing the dishes.  I still have a book open when I grind the coffee beans.

3. Baths, long, hot, scented baths where I read of course.  But only books, it's too messy to take a magazine or the newspaper into the bath with you.  Trust me on this one. I go into the bath a tired, cranky overworked florist and come out flushed, smiling and ready to enjoy life again.  Hot H2O, it's a miracle.

4. Ice.  Except for a hot cup of tea on a cold winter evening I am addicted to tall glasses full of ice.  My lattes? Iced.  Lemonade, sparkling water both served on the rocks.  Abroad?  I'm just one crazy American in search of ice.  The one complete sentence I learned to speak in Germany?  Haben sie Eisw├╝rfel ? Do you have any ice cubes? Usually met with a resounding no.  They wanted to lock me up in Italy for ruining their delicious coffees with ice .  I don't even think they'll let me into England. 

5. Gardens.  My garden, your garden, any beautiful public garden.  I love the hope of the spring garden, the hot hell that is the garden in July and August and the overgrown beauty that comes in the fall.  I'm at peace when weeding and watering and just wandering from plant to plant admiring a blossom here, a berry there.
My ego is at rest when I am digging in the dirt.

 6..  Friends and Family.  You have loved me when I didn't love myself.  You make me laugh, cry, think, learn when to speak up and when to keep a secret. I've known some of you since high school and some of you I just met these last few years on line.  But my life is richer and fuller because of you all.

7. Food.  Cooking for others has always been a big expression of love for me.  When I'm been in relationships that are ending I lose my appetite for both cooking and eating.
But when all is going well, baby look out and better join a gym, 5 pounds are coming your way.

8. My abs and my triceps. It's amazing what an hour in the gym or at zumba or yoga will give me.  A high never found from drugs or alcohol, I just smile for hours after.  My mind is at rest, I sleep like an angel, I have an abundance of energy the next day.  Exercise, what have you got to lose from it except a couple of pounds?

9. Garden tomatoes.  And the smell of a tomato plant.  That is summer to me.

10. My little house on the prairie.  Though I just glanced up and saw a few new cracks in the kitchen ceiling and it seems I work solely to support my home owning habit I love having my own nest to feather.  I have been called a homebody and I wear that title proudly.  Don't we all need a sanctuary at the end of the day?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Something Wicked (Good) This Way Comes

I don't know about you but I am a sucker for a "10 Things I Can't Live Without" list.  Whether it's found in the NYT , Vogue, House Beautiful or WSJ, doesn't matter to me.  Frivolous, serious, tongue in cheek or drop dead serious I'm your audience.

I'm such a fan I decided to ask some of my favorite bloggers to write their own list and let me post it here, once a week, starting tomorrow.

If I haven't asked you yet, I will. So get your thinking caps on.

Not enough for me to ask you to let us into your houses and see your flowers, now I want to get in your heads and see what makes you tick.

I am a very nosy woman.  xo Jane

Monday, January 23, 2012

Follow The Yellow Brick Road

To the post below which is Flowers In The House.  Blogger did me wrong and I can't be found on your reading lists......

The hell with Blogger, come on over.

Publish or perish.

xo Jane

Flowers In The Wintery House

December with its reds and golds and temperatures in the 60's was so last month.  January has brought us grey skies, freezing winds and the first snow/ice of the year. Scarves and boots are being worn for warmth not fashion just as the stores fill with spring clothes and sandals.

At home the tree has long been turned into future mulch, the glitter and the glamor have been packed away in the attic till next year.  I have kept my jar of fireflies alight but swapped out richly colored roses for single stems of ranunculus and tulips and barely there pussy willow.  The bowl of clementines is not a prop but a constant.  And with this weekend's scratchy throat, a necessity.  Some pop pills, I pop clementines.

And I think we're all agreed that wax flower is the flower of 2012, much as ranunculus was the flower of 2011.

I say double your pleasure and use them together. 

And if you happen to be a florist and have a stem of black raspberry handy, add that to the mix.

A heady mix it is, those tiny wax flowers pack a powerful punch of scent.  But just in case my stuffy nose can't catch it,  I filled a jar with a few bulbs.  A tete a tete, some tulips and a hyacinth, a handful of green moss and a crystal found by GG on yesterday mornings dog walk.

I walk down the same streets.  All I see are early blooming forsythia and an occasional fox.  GG always finds a treasure.

Looking forward to coming to your house and seeing what treasures you have for us. I'm also hoping for a cup of tea and a few Advil.

Clementines can only do so much:)
xo Jane

Sunday, January 22, 2012

It's Only A Day Away

Oh my God, I have a cold and it's clouding my mind and fumbling my fingers.  Pay no mind to what pops up on your blog list from me.

Smoke and mirrors.  It's all smoke and mirrors and tissues and tea.

Flowers In The House is tomorrow.

It's all snow and ice here today.  Like living in Russia.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What's Going On?

Baby what's going on......

There's a lot happening around here.  I'm marinating pork shoulders for the Cuban Roast Pork dish for a coworkers birthday tomorrow.  And I thought it was difficult taking a pie on the bus....others will be bringing bowls of cumin scented rice and black beans.  Christine will make her famous salad and Celinda her hot sauce.

We'll be placing our prebook for Valentine's Day and playing around with some magic. Black magic that is.

And some red hot love.

It's fun to work with us.  Fun and filling.

On a personal note next Monday is our 1st year anniversary of Flowers In The House.  Shall we do it up? 

Now that winter has finally arrived both here and across the pond I think a glimpse of spring or a celebration of winter is in order. 

Join me? 

And if you like join me at Lotte and Bloom today though you already know the answers to the questions I bet:)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Yesterday: My Life In Pictures

 Cue music.

We had a lunch date.  Emil was coming with his parents and his befuddled dog, Balu. ( Befuddled because he still doesn't understand where this new creature sprang from or how long he's going to be around and why he's so noisy).

 We shined up the house and filled it with flowers.

Set the table.

Created a shepherds pie using beef bourguignon as the filling. Not a photogenic dish but very tasty.  The serving dish was scraped clean.

We had a hungry mother and father to feed while GG, myself and our neighbor Nelda wrestled for an armful of Emil.


I got him!  Briefly.

I also got a corner of the sofa briefly.  As soon as I got up to put more water on for tea the seat was filled... to overflowing actually.

Maybe not so befuddled actually......

Maybe very clever.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ms. American Pie

Maybe you remember me mentioning my amiga Betty?  Originally from Bolivia, Betty started working in the flower shop while still in high school.  She began by cleaning flowers after school and on weekends, becoming a designer after she graduated.  A very good designer might I add, endlessly creative and  constantly amusing.  She is also a soccer mother of two boys, one 14, one 9, a homeowner and  as of yesterday an American citizen.

Welcome Citizen Betty.

In the 90's we had a  CD we use to play with a 70's and 80's mix of music that included American Pie by Don Mclean.  I used to tell her she had to know all the words to become a citizen. Well I guess she learned them.  I also told her I'd bake her an apple pie to celebrate the day. Today we ate my words.

Maybe you also remember me saying I don't bake?

I guess I only bake out of love and a great deal of respect.  And of course with the peeling and slicing help of GG.

Betty said it was a privilege to sit in the seat at Immigration and listen to the speeches and the music and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. I say it's been a privilege to know her.

Nice antidote to the primary madness, no?

   Now do you believe in rock and roll?
Can music save your mortal soul?
And can you teach me how to dance real slow?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Hanging With His Homies

If there are points being awarded today for photos of the cutest little elf in blogland I'll be the winner.

I know this isn't a baby blog but can you blame me?

Why am I holding the camera and GG holding the baby?

She's 6 I mean 8'' taller than I am and about half my age.

Would you want to fight her?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Through The Looking Glass

If you have idly wondered what happened to me, you would be forgiven for assuming I was in the kitchen feverishly chopping vegetables for our new diet or spending endless hours oohing over the little elf.

You would be incorrect on both accounts.  Damn.

Life has been work-zumba-dinner-sleep-work-gym-dinner-sleep-work-well I think you get the picture.

Today has been taking our house back: back from December.  The tree has come down ( and you didn't think I was going to write a new post while attempting to ignore that elephant in the room did you?) Hours have been spent vacuuming up the fir needles and maybe we have indulged in some wild card weekend. Sorry Lions.  Next year!

And after this hello I'm off to the shower , then off in the car to Kensington, Maryland  to visit the newest member of the family. Tini has provided us with daily picture updates but we're very excited to have and to hold. 

Tomorrow I'll be able to resume my regular blog visiting schedule.  I saw a yummy recipe for red curry chicken here, a 10.00 challenge there....and I need to know how Shelly is recuperating from her surgery.

 I hope you're all enjoying your Sunday as much as we are.  Here's to a day off spent feeding your soul and your stomach.

xo jane

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Brand New World

 Hello?  Are you still there?  I've missed you.

Where is everybody?  This baby business is tiring.  Short on sleep, short on blogging time, eating too much carryout, taking fast showers, no long indulgent baths.....and we're only the Aunts!

What must it be like to be the parents and be responsible for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?

My (was it really 10 days off?) vacation is over.  I started back to work this morning and a day full of arranging flowers and bridal appointments and delivery times for  party work seems like a Caribbean breeze compared to my holidays.

Life and death is not a buffet piece for a party no matter how important the guests.  Attending a birth certainly  realigns one's priorities. 

The idea of a new year is never stimulating enough for me to form a resolution.  But a new life?  I'm thinking.

I'm thinking of changing up the diet a little bit.  Eating more plants and fewer animals.  Healthier for us, healthier for the planet and probably easier on the pocketbook.

I've just treated myself to a copy of Plenty the vegetarian cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi.  Do you own this, have you seen it?  It could inspire the most devoted meat eater to lighten up.

 I was just paging through the book waiting for my pics to download and am so inspired I have to rush off to the kitchen to see if I have the ingredients for garlic soup and harissa.

I have just moaned aloud.  This will not be too great a sacrifice me thinks.  Happy New Year!