"Gather ye rose-buds while ye may." Robert Herrick

"Gather ye rose-buds while ye may." Robert Herrick

Hello Friends!

Friends, Romans, countrymen...y'all. Foodies, gardeners, artists and collectors - let's gather together to share and possibly learn a thing or two in the mix.

Donna Baker

Monday, December 31, 2012

Old Boxes

I like old boxes.  I do not know why.  This old document box is well, rustic, but it had my initials in nailheads on the curved top.  Dating from the early 1800's, these boxes were hauled around in wagons and carriages, holding legal documents, perhaps the family bible, etc. It is decorated with nailheads, deer skin and brass and iron locks and handles.  I don't know when the pretty blue paper was added, but it is heavy.  The bird of paradise does not show up well in this picture.  Would have been wonderful to find old photos and paperwork.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas Boots

Look what the cat dragged in or what I found in the top of my closet.  I can't believe I wore them.  I am blushing.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Here lies Teddy, playing in the asparagus patch, posing of course.  Named after a teddy bear, he is the most cuddly, lovable, friendly and best all-around cat on the planet.  Really, more dog-like than a cat, all he wants to do is play or cuddle up to us and our dogs.  As a teeny little baby, he would run out from the barn to greet us on our four wheelers.  After an abscess and subsequent neutering, he came to live up at the house with us.  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Wonder

We have all seen one - or thousands really.  Murmurations - when birds gather in flight - for some unknown reason.  One of the most beautiful and wondrous sights on this Earth. 

At my Peaceable Hill Farm, I think all the murmurations are done for the year.  The birds have flown south to warmer climes to overwinter.  Hope to see them  next year.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Gee Thanks!

I'm not high maintenance.  Yes, I dream of a Van Cleef and Arpels Alhambra necklace and Birkin bags, a Stella McCartney blouse.  Dream mind you.  I'm too cheap.  I am a little fussy (oc) about small things though.  My closet hangers are one of those small things. I like nice hangers, thin with suede covering in a certain color.  My housekeeper fished an armload of these ghastly old, dusty things out of a dumpster at a retirement home and brought them to me as she decided I needed them.  Mind you, she would be very insulted and hurt if I told her I didn't want them.  I grit my teeth every time I see them.  I am going to draw the line at crocheted kleenex box holders and toilet paper covers.  Wouldn't they make a perfect dirty Santa gift? The hangers are going to slowly disappear.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


In blogland, I can go to the most beautiful and wonderful places that I have never been to before - castles by the sea, coastal Wales, the south of France...  And then there is my home on Peaceable Hill Farm.

I rarely get to travel.  I have to stay home and care for all of the animals. I've done it to myself.  I cannot imagine living on the farm without them.  That is, except for the turkeys.  Filthy beasts!  My toms have gotten aggressive of late. Two of the boys are real meanies. One sneaked up behind me yesterday and gave me a hard, wrenching bite on the leg.  They are very lucky I don't eat my animals or they would be on the turkey platter for Thanksgiving.

As I lay on the ground, snapping pictures and trying to keep the gobblers at bay, my teenie weenie Emmy, came up and planted a big kiss on my mouth.  Guess what it reeked of?  You know.

My castle by the sea......

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


 What to do for individual saland pepper cellars for Thanksgiving?  Pink Himalayan salt and freshly ground peppercorns in walnut shells.  How is that for recycling? Maybe make up for the pepper flown in from Indonesia and the salt from Nepal.   Hope you and your loved ones have a wonderful day as you gather to give thanks.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


With the holidays fast approaching, (where did October go?) I am going to be re-running some recipes.  This recipe for caramels, made in the microwave, is to die for.  I have never had better, anywhere.  No candy thermometer testing, nor testing for hard-ball stage and no stirring for long periods of time. Compare this recipe to the one in the December issue of Martha Stewart's LIVING magazine. Also, I'll point out Smitten Kitchen's recent post on caramels. You will have to trust me on this one.  I have dipped the caramels halfway up with melted chocolate, added walnuts and sprinkled fleur de sel on them, but I prefer them plain.  Quick.  Easy. Delicious. What's not to love?

Microwave Caramels

Nonstick or buttered foil
1 cup butter (no substitutions)
2 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup light Karo syrup
1 14oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Line a 9x9 inch baking pan with nonstick foil or buttered foil, allowing edges to hang over sides of pan; set aside.
In a large microwave-safe bowl combine butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and condensed milk; cover loosely with parchment paper. Microwave on 100% power (high) for 4 or 5 minutes (4 min. will be softer). I couldn't find the wattage on my microwave, but I believe it to be fairly high since I usually don't heat things as long as instructions call for.  So this recipe would work on high wattage microwave ovens. Whisk to combine mixture. Microwave on high for 4 or 5 minutes more. Whisk well. Microwave an additional 4 or 5 minutes. Whisk gently. Add vanilla. Pour caramel mixture into the prepared pan. Chill or let cool for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until just firm. Using foil, lift block of caramel from the pan. Use a buttered knife to cut into 1 inch squares. Wrap individually with plastic wrap or waxed paper. Store at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. Makes 2 3/4 pounds. Voila!

Here are a couple of tips.  I butter the foil in the pan and for extra decadence, use Meyerberg's Goat Butter. Martha said that is all she now uses for baking. I wrap them in waxed paper. Once, I wrapped them in individual candy wrappers and it all stuck to the paper.  Had to throw it in the trash.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Run Gracie Run

Gracie has been coddled and spoiled and has grown into a very large mare.  At four years of age, she now has her monthly estrus and has become pushy, headstrong and domineering.  Who is she trying to dominate?  Me.  She bit me.  If you've never been bitten by a horse, it is akin to childbirth. I was told this by another who has had the badge.  I say a badge, because it was a terrible black bruise to my upper arm that after two months, I can still see the remnants of.  I immediately went to buy four books on horses and their training and quickly realized that I didn't have the experience nor ability to train her.  

A blog friend, Julie, from Equus Villa Farm, is a professional dressage teacher/competitor and she gave some sage advice to me.  Gracie is considered a semi-wild horse and without professional training, she could end up in a slaughter house some day.  To make a long story short, Gracie has been at the horse trainer's for two weeks with two more to go. She will be learning her manners; hopefully become respectful to humans.  I don't expect any more from her than that.  Since she will probably outlive me, I want her to be adoptable one day.  She is a good girl.  Just never had any lessons.  Can't wait till she comes home.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Birds Of A Feather

Blame it on Marie Antoinette.  When the vain queen wore feathers in her hat, one woman's whim became a trend that lasted more than a century and practically decimated avian populations.  According to a 1913 study by the director of the New York Zoological Park; in 1911, the feathers of 129,186 egrets, 13,598 herons, 20,698 birds of paradise, 41,090 hummingbirds, 9,464 eagles, condors and other birds of prey, and 9,472 other birds were sold at auction in London for the millinery trade.  And that's 11 years after the first American animal protection law -  the Lacey Act of 1900 - was passed.  And, those numbers were for one year.  Unimaginable.

For those of you that watch the wonderful Downton Abbey, you'll notice the feathered hats worn by the manor born.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Parisian Pooches

Parisians love their dogs.  You see them out and about with them everywhere.  Once, I traveled from Paris to London and there was not a dog  in sight.  Now I know Londoners love dogs.  I asked someone where the dogs were and was told it is too stressful in London for dogs.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Cat Days Of Summer

It's a hard job, but somebody has to do it.  Buzzy found a good spot to nap for these waning days of summer.

A small note here - this dinosaur is made from an old Ford truck.  Buzzy was that last surviving kitten from a litter at the barn.  A raccoon got the rest and I couldn't leave him to suffer the same fate.  

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Fall Baking

My daughter made this decadent cake some time ago and I just had to share it with you.  Rich, dense and delicious, put this one on your list.


1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 stick unsalted butter - room temperature
1 cup plus 2 TB. brown sugar
2 large eggs - room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease and flour 2 regular sized cake pans.  In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder and sea salt.  Set aside.  In a bowl with an electric mixer, cream butter and brown sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time and mix until well incorporated then add vanilla.  Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk, making sure that each is incorporated before adding the next.  Divide the mixture evenly into the cake pans.  After adding the filling mixture below, bake until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.


1/2 c. sugar
3 tbs. salted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream

In a large pot, melt sugar by itself over medium heat until it begins to melt.  Gently whisk.  Add the butter and mix until it begins to melt then incorporate heavy cream.  The mixture will begin to foam.  Continue to whisk until the sauce is thickened.  Remove from heat and cool. Drop the filling by teaspoonfuls over both cake layers pressing the mixture gently down into the batter.


1/4 cup sugar
2 tbs. water
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla
2 sticks butter, one unsalted and the other salted
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

In a saucepan, combine sugar and water and bring to a boil.  Cook without stirring until it starts turning a deep brown.  Remove from heat and very slowly add the cream and vanilla.  Lightly mix until the mixture is smooth.  Allow the caramel to cool for about 20 minutes, but make sure it doesn't harden.  In a mixer, beat the butter and salt until fluffy.  Slow the mixer speed and add the powdered sugar until combined.  Using a spatula, scrape the sides of bowl and add caramel.  Mix, then ice the cake.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Small Things

Why am I enamored with small things, like this teeny flatware?  Or, a stack of these old penny candy bags used in a general store from long ago. Perhaps I like miniaturized things because they are easier to find space for, you know,not bigger than a breadbasket. I have finally reached the stage in life that I never believed I'd reach.  I believe I need to purge my environs; take Mies Van der Rohes' (Bauhaus aesthetic) advice that  "less is more".   Sometimes I think I would like to build a modern house, get rid of everything and start anew with a few classic, good pieces. Young women take heed [this bit of advice] save your money!  You don't need most of the stuff you gather for the next few decades.  It will begin to suffocate you; worry you, weigh you down until you finally reach the age where you don't care about it at all anymore and by then you will have accumulated houses full, barns full, etc.  I don't know everything, but I do know this young ladies and gentlemen.  Save your hard earned money!  I would have been a multi-millionaire by now had someone told me this way back when...  

Friday, August 17, 2012

Actius Luna

This is a gouache of a Luna moth I did some time ago. I painted it from an actual deceased moth I found outside.  What is really interesting is that when we built our house 29 years ago, we cleared out a thicket wreathed in oak trees.  That summer, and every year since then, in the side yard,  Luna moths return to the same exact place, fat white bodies full of eggs.  How in the world these future offspring/eggs know where to return each summer is simply unimaginable to me.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Chicken Art

I love this modern art oil painting.  I got it years ago at a flea market.  Signed by North in 1957, I find it amazing though obviously not professionally done.  From the oval shape in the center to the diamond shaped ground and seeds; the composition intrigues me.  It was probably done as a class study.  I would love to take classes in modern art. My brain would rail against it, but oh, what fun.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Pie In A Jar

I made many of these little pies in a jar for the 4th of July.  Blueberry, blackberry and sour cherry, they were  delicious.  Problem was, I filled them too full and the filling overflowed the containers and made for a terrible mess in the oven.  So, if you decide to make these sometime, learn from me and don't overfill.

Oklahoma's On Fire

As I mentioned, this summer is hellishly hot and dry. Wildfires are starting  up. Oklahoma is the example for climate change.  The last two summers have been unbearable; hotter temperatures than ever and drier.  Our dubious Senator, Jim Inhofe, rails against scientists and anyone else who has studied climate change; likens the theories of global warming to the liberals and their ilk.  Of course we know Inhofe is no scientist, nor a statesman, he just likes to pad his pockets with monies from the energy companies and whomever else he can get money from.  Inhofe, a career politician, really is an embarrassment to our state.  Recently, for the energy companies benefit, he tried to get the House and Senate to relax the rules for acceptable levels of mercury being dumped into the environment.  Now, anyone who has grandchildren or is pregnant knows that their doctors advise them not to eat tuna etc. because of high mercury levels.  Duh... When will Inhoff get his comeuppance?  He needs to be voted out of office like years ago - at this point I don't care if it is a democrat or a republican - just anybody besides him, (okay, I take that back, tea bagger people need not apply).

And after 367 posts dear folks, this is my first political post.

This wildfire photo was taken from behind my house looking south a few years ago.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Gargoyle At Chartres Cathedral

Crying out for rain and cooler temperatures! What a hellish summer we are experiencing yet again.  All of the new three year old blueberry plants I recently planted are scorched.  My new baby apple trees are losing leaves.  The new growth on my recently purchased avocado tree is toast and our grass is like the kind you find in easter baskets.  I could go on and on.  Did I mention that I am constantly watering?

This gargoyle photo was taken at Chartres Cathedral on a day-long foray into the Loire Valley; a two hour drive from Paris.  Decorative, yet functional, the rain spouts would be a welcome sight functioning around here.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Long Island Then and Now

Found this old oil painting at a flea market years ago.  On the back is a stamp Salamagundi Club, 1956, the annual exhibition of oil paintings.  The painting is by Otto J. Kurth.  It was painted on Long Island at Mattituck.  He titled it Sundown On Tutthull's Farm.  I've heard the light on Long Island is the best for painting.  I wonder if the old farm is still standing or replaced by mansions.  The soil there is also supposedly wonderful for farming.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Williams Sonoma's New Pitch

Williams Sonoma is pushing the home garden and canning movement.  I think it is great.  They are selling seed packets, the Beekman Farm included, and twelve different kinds of canning jars.  I am not familiar with the Kilner brand from France, but have used the German Weck jars before. Having recently had to look for the regular Ball and Kerr jars, I assume many more people are canning now.  If you don't garden, go to your farmer's market and get started.  It's a very good thing.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Crab Apple Juice

What do you do when you've got gallons of crab apples and can't bear to let them go to waste?  If you remember, I have made liqueurs with them and jelly.  This time I decided to gather them and make crab apple juice.  It turned out good.  I froze the juice for later use.  I could have put more sugar in it, but it is sweet enough as it is. If truth be known, I don't think I added the sugar as it was just right, but the recipe did call for it. 


8 quarts crab apples
10 quarts water
4 cups sugar
4 tsp. cream of tartar

Wash crab apples and cut into quarters or chop up.  Bring water to a boil then add cream of tartar.  Pour over crab apples.  Let sit over night.  Next day, drain liquid through cheesecloth.  Add sugar.  Water bath, can or freeze juice.  This made a lot of juice.  Oh, and the cute kitty and birds glass came from Anthropologie.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Sparkle In My Eyes

My angels, Isobel and Oliver, came to stay with their Nonna last weekend and we had a ball.  They are usually in bed by 8:30 sharp, but we stayed up till midnight, if that tells you anything.  I love them so much.  Ollie, now don't squirt my camera...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Peach Time At The Farm

Peaches have ripened, been picked and frozen for later.  Just had to keep out enough for some homemade peach ice cream.  I have a Cuisinart ice cream maker from Williams Sonoma, but the old fashioned crank ones work just as well. Here is a surefire recipe for your basic vanilla base.  You can add whatever else you want. This recipe makes the best homemade vanilla ice cream ever.The only caveat, you, your family and friends need to eat  all of it. The reason is, after freezing any leftover ice cream, it will be hard as a rock to scoop out.

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

3 cans Eagle Brand Condensed Milk
3 cans water
1 tsp. vanilla 
pinch of salt
enough whole milk to fill up the gallon container to the fill line
Freeze according to your ice cream maker instructions.  By the way, this recipe is for one gallon.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Kind Man

He now helps me garden; knows I am unable to get down in the dirt with my Judas knees.  He has put up with me for 40 years now.  He is the rock of our family, a good father to our children.  Happy Father's Day my sweet T.

Kind hearts are the gardens.  Kind thoughts are the roots.  Kind words are the flowers.  Kind deeds are the fruits.  Take care of your garden and keep out the weeds.  Fill it with sunshine, kind words and kind deeds.  
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Friday, June 1, 2012


Time to plan another trip?  Sail with the junks?  No, it's too far.  Too far.  I'll just dream about the places people visit my blog from.  Moscow, Cairo? Very exotic to me.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Early each summer, the onions are ready to harvest.  These early onions are the sweetest ones, you won't have to make sure everybody is eating them, you know, like garlic. 

 Allium cepa, or onions, have been traced back to 5000BC, the remnants found alongside dates and figs.  The Egyptians cultivated them 2000 years later and fed them, along with radishes, to the workers building the pyramids.  They have been an important food source and potent medicinal plant since then.  Quercertin, found in onions, is being touted today as an anti-inflammatory and cancer fighter.  Christopher Columbus brought them aboard the Hispanola to the New World, but found they were already being eaten in wild form by the Native Americans.

 They are easy to grow and when the tops dry, pluck them from the earth and let them cure for a couple of days.  Bunch and hang them in a shady spot.  It would be perfect to store them in a root cellar but mine hang  by old baskets in my garage.  They will still be edible by Thanksgiving if I have any left.

Most importantly, if you cry while slicing an onion, if your eyes nearly burn out of their sockets, hold them under running water or submerged in a basin of water while slicing.  Also, chill beforehand.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Looking for wild edibles has never been more popular than it is now.  Even the hoity-toity TOWN AND COUNTRY magazine recently published a spread about it.  The bible for those whom like to find wild edibles is STALKING THE WILD ASPARAGUS.  Euell Gibbons was definitely before his time.  For instance, did you know that all parts of the day lily are edible?  More about this at the bottom, for it is very important for our children and grandchildren.

I found these beautiful mushrooms out by the woods yesterday.  They were various sizes, but these two beauties were at least 10 inches across.  I have never seen these around here before.  Upon further examination, I tore one apart.  Though there are gills, they are not seen from the underside of the fungi.

The underneath side was covered in pores.  

The entire mushroom looked like a giant hamburger bun.

I researched these fungi on Google and videos on youtube and have decided it is a King Bolete mushroom.  These are (besides truffles) the most desirable wild mushrooms out there.  They are hunted worldwide for their flavor and rarity.  So, did I cook it and eat it.  No!  You should never eat a mushroom that you are not 100% certain about.  As an aside, Euell Gibbons says that native Americans didn't eat wild mushrooms, probably because they knew of the possibility of poisonings.

Time to segue into why the whole wild edible thing is important for your children and grandchildren.  In just a generation, we have lost the ability to discern what is edible in nature.  If you read the MIT study a couple of weeks ago (Massachusetts Institute of Technology - and they don't come any smarter than they are), about the coming global economic collapse by 2030 and the depletion of the world's natural resources, i.e. energy, water etc. They even talk of millions dying, but I won't get into that. 2030 is 17 years away, that is unless there is the perfect storm; a trifecta of pandemic, natural disaster and/or war, which could make it happen sooner.  I don't even want to see what a super great depression would be like.  But, I am going to start making some changes; preparing as I am able.  Not like the nuts on National Geographic channel prepping for whatever. I do think it would be prudent to plant gardens, fruit and nut trees.  What do you think? Little Red Hen?   Look at Greece right now, the run on banks and if you have a 401K, it is going to be affected. Texas and the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations are suing the state of Oklahoma right now over water rights. The rumblings are there and it would be foolish to ignore them.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Spring Potatoes

Dug around in the potato bed today and voila!  I bet I planted 10 different varieties and have no idea what kind these specimens are.  I plan on canning the small ones when they are ready to be dug in June.  As large as some of these are, I'm afraid to wait until June.  My husband has requested new potatoes in cream sauce for these first ones.  

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Papillon in Paris

As I usually gravitate to nature and all things animal, butterfly specimens beautifully mounted and  framed, were in abundance at the Paris flea and antique markets.  This white beauty was at least 6 inches across. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

A Day In A Life

 Today I looked for mushrooms in the woods and planted daylilies, fed the animals, picked asparagus, found two quarter-sized baby turtles brought home by the cats and rescued from the dogs, shopped in town, and made iced sugar cookie eggs for the grandkids who are coming this Easter weekend.  A worthwhile day in the life?  Maybe, maybe not.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

April Fools

Anyone out there notice that blogger is getting ready to change "the look" of blogger in April? Perhaps fooling with us?  I wish.   I went through something akin to this last month and the" new look" totally changed everything. They said my browser would no longer work (Windows internet explorer) and I had to download a new one, Google Chrome, which wouldn't work. This went on and on; need I say more.  I finally found my way back to the old blogger format and now they are changing it.  Good luck to all of us that don't want to learn how to do new things to blog.  It takes me days to find out how to do things on the computer whereas it only takes seconds for the computer geeks. 

Hosannah, aka Gracie, is now mine; I bought her last week.  We are soon going to have new fencing and a stable installed for her and that is no foolin'!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Mike The Headless Chicken

Poor Mike!  Yes, it's true.  Mike the headless chicken, lived for a long time after having his head chopped off.  It was said that Mike even scratched around on the ground as though trying to uncover a bug. The owners took him to fairs and shows, but alas, after a feeding in a motel room, they left Mike alone and he choked to death.

Makes me never want to eat chicken again.