"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 30, 2013


Here is one of the first posts I ever wrote.  I can't believe it has been this long since I started blogging (this post is from December 2008).  My lemons, blood oranges, limes, oranges, grapefruits and on and on are ready once again and the kinds of citrus I grow has grown exponentially. I haven't made this in years as we rarely drink. Nevertheless, here it goes again...

Well, it's that time again. My Meyer lemons are ripening and it's time to make hooch.  I have had this on a beach in Italy and my own concoction, but to tell the truth, I think limoncello tastes like lemon gasoline.  Whew!  The Italians say they drink it after meals as a digestive. This will grow hair on your chest, clear up allergies, coughs; a real magic potion for whatever ails you or maybe you just won't care and get a little limon-mellow. I think I made 4 gallons of the stuff last year. It really tastes best on hot summer days but what the heck, have it drizzled over a mango sorbet or whatever your preference might be. It is also good mixed with tonic or my personal fave, mixed with champagne. So, enough said. Here is the recipe.

17 large lemons
2 750 milliliter bottles grain alcohol
51/2 cups water
6 cups sugar
Wash and dry the lemons. With a good vegetable peeler, remove only the yellow rind of the lemon. Do not get any of the white pith as this will make your limoncello bitter. Place the lemon peels in a 4 quart Mason jar with a rubber-seal lid. Add the grain alcohol. Store in a cool dark place swirling the mixture daily for approximately 2 weeks. When you can hear the peels making a funny noise, check the peels and if they break just like a potato chip, it is ready for the next step. All of the essential oil will have been extracted into the alcohol. Place a colander over a large bowl and line with a paper towel or coffee filters. Pour the alcohol and peels into the colander and let drain. Discard the peels. Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a large saucepan, stirring until it is dissolved. Cover and let cool to room temperature. Transfer the alcohol mixture back to the mason jar and add the cooled sugar water stirring to combine. Store for a month in a cool dark place. After a month, transfer the limoncello to smaller bottles that can be sealed with rubber stoppers or corks. Store the bottles in the freezer. Serve directly from the freezer.
The longer the limoncello sits, the mellower it becomes. It will last in the freezer for at least a year and I've read indefinitely. The internet has many many recipes for limoncello and sites where you can even buy supplies. Make sure that all your equipment is clean ( I know you wouldn't use dirty equipment) but there are airborne yeasts and other little thingys that you need to be aware of so clean is the watchword. I read that the best limoncello is made with the lemons that have green rinds so I experimented last winter and the only thing I could tell is that the limoncello was green instead of yellow. I certainly am not a connoisseur of limoncello so you can read up and let me know. Just in case someone out there might not know, grain alcohol is like 100 proof and this limoncello is very potent so remember, just a little drinky winky.
I thought since I was at it, I would share one more recipe for Crema di limoncello. To a liter of limoncello, stir in 1 tablespoon of vanilla and 21/2 cups of heavy cream. Store in refrigerator for a few days. You can certainly experiment if you please -add more sugar or less cream; this is just a basic recipe for the Crema. Chin chin, y'all.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Found A New Home

I recently did a kitchen remodel in my little house in Tulsa.  It hadn't been remodeled in at least 50 years.  My hats off to all the designers and decorators out there.  What a hard job you have.  Though I have been subscribing to all the design and decorating magazines for about 40 years, (I was only 2 when I started), choosing colors, tiles, appliances, lighting and even hinges and floor registers is stressful to me.  And, doing it from long distance at the farm  made it even harder. And, on a budget, I might add.  My head was swimming to put it nicely.  

I do love it now.  I bought this box of Parisian dishware two years ago; it has Saint Germain des Pres printed on the side (which is where we stayed last time in Paris), but I really didn't have anywhere to put them. They remained closeted.  After the remodel, the dishes finally found a new home on a little white cafe table under a window.
I have told my husband he can't use them.  In fact, I wasn't happy when I went up this past weekend and saw his coffee machine out on top of the counter. Oh well...

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Happy Holidays

I have always loved silver dragees.  Nowadays, you can find them in all sizes and colors, but for some reason, I have a hard time finding the silver ones.  The last bottle I bought said something about them not being edible.  What?  What are you supposed to do with them?  Spit them out?  Ridiculous. 
This year my middle daughter is selling decorated sugar cookies on her facebook page.  I'm glad this tradition of iced sugar cookies will go on.  

Happiest holidays!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Saving Grace

Well, I guess you can see where I am going with this.  No decorations, nor wreaths. No tableaux of holiday refinements. 

Bah Humbug!

Why would anyone in their right mind want to live where it does this in the winter?  I must not be in my right mind because it has been freezing for days on end now, yet here I am. Jack Nicholson in The Shining?  Cabin fever?  I know of what they speak.  Roads impassable.  Feeding the animals is horrible.  Part of the greenhouse caved in.  Winter is my hell.  Guess the damn persimmon was right.

Chekhov writes about "grief" to describe cold weather.  Don't  like the Russian writers, but he got that right. 

The only saving graces are birdwatching -

and this pic of my little snagglepuss snow angel, Bella.

Here is a line from Hans Christian Anderson's THE SNOW QUEEN  -  "The flake of snow grew larger and larger; and at last it was like a young lady dressed in the finest white gauze, made of a million little flakes like stars."

Doesn't take very long to make me feel better.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

After Thanksgiving

This is what I feel like after the Thanksgiving production - an old, weathered and dried up piece of driftwood.  Yes, we were all together again for another year.  For that, I am thankful. 

Guess who, for the first time in her life, braved the crowds that evening to save $650.00?  Let me just tell you, it was World War Z. News accounts do not do it justice. I had my son-in-law in front of me and my son behind me.  Both tall, strapping guys, I don't know if I'd have made it by myself.  I've never seen anything like it, but hey, I did save $650.00 on a laptop and two 60" televisions.  I was a blithering idiot afterward.  Parker and Katie, Erin and Terry better like their gifts.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


My friend ( Ms. Mary Kay) pointed out that I hadn't posted lately.  So, here's a twofer.  
When I want my kids to come home, I have to bribe them.  "It's too far," or "I have to work/study", and the grand kids are a handful and have stuff to do", though they love coming to the farm.  Valid reasons all, nevertheless, bribery sometimes does the trick.  In my middle child's case, a Granny Smith apple pie works some of the time.  When my sister comes, she pre orders a tart cherry pie.

My father always had to have an extra sharp cheddar cheese melted on top of his slice.  I don't know where this started, buy I did see David Letterman one night talking about his favorite apple pie with cheddar on top, so I guess we are not the only ones.  It really is good.


Faceless love.  One of my tiny treasures.  This little wooden guy separates at the waist and it must be a match holder.  Supposedly made by a Quaker; they don't put faces on their dolls.  Why, do you think, would it be sinful to paint on a face?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Best of the Best

As Curator of Books for the Schlesinger Library at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Barbara Haber developed one of the country's most important collections of cookbooks and books on food history - over 16,000 volumes - to accompany the papers of such food luminaries as M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child and Elizabeth David.  When the Boston Globe asked her favorite book in the collection, she named Cleora's Kitchens.

Cleora's Kitchens is a rare treat.  Not just recipes, but a history, told by Cleora, of her life growing up and learning to cook.  

Born in 1901, Cleora, an ancestor of slaves, traveled by wagon train with her family, from Texas to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) for a promise of free land.  Cleora learned to cook on a wood stove at the age of ten and ended up being somewhat of a celebrity cook herself.  She worked in Tulsa for oil barons and wealthy businessmen; she catered and cooked sometimes for 300 people and served them on a sixty foot table.  

She had a joyful life and spirit, and on the last day of her life, she flew to Dallas with her publisher, to an affair at Neiman Marcus.  They were going to do a fete to launch Cleora's book.  That night, Cleora died, the same day her first book came from the printer.

The recipes are all so original.  Besides Burnt Sugar Ice Cream (Cleora's favorite), the following recipe was one of her most requested and loved.


4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup broken pecans
4 heaping tablespoons cocoa
4 rounded tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons vanilla

Beat eggs well; add sugar and butter and beat well again. Sift cocoa and flour together. Add broken pecans. Fold into sugar mixture.  Add vanilla.  Pour into 9x12 by 3inch pan. Set pan in a pan of hot water.  Bake in a 325 degree oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Fudge will have the consistency of firm custard and will be crusty on top. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

The following recipe is for an appetizer.


Wrap giant stuffed olives with strips of bacon.  Secure with a toothpick and fry in fat.  Powder (while still hot) with pulverized roasted peanuts.

Whether making home brew or Possum Grape Wine (Possum grapes are a type of wild grape), or baking Popovers or Orange Biscuits, Cleora's recipes sound divine.  I could go on and on, but then you'd get tired of reading this post. You'll just have to get a copy of this wonderful cookbook.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Winter Weather Folklore

Back in the days before weather forecasters tried to predict what the weather was going to do, farmers used lore that was passed down from generation to generation.  I don't know if all the predictions are factual or not.  Has that groundhog ever been right?  One prediction, that birds roosting together on telephone lines predict rain, is indeed true.  I see it time and again.  Another truism is that the moon will have a ring around it when rain is eminent.  
The persimmon seed is said to predict winter weather.  Wild persimmons grow in abundance around here; the deer love them.  Late in fall, the fruit ripens and the seeds are easy to extrude.  What does the persimmon seed say about this winter?

For a spoon, there will be lots of heavy, wet snow.
If the seed has a fork, the winter will be mild with light-powdery snow.
If you see a knife, there will be icy, cutting winds.
Looks like a spoon to me.

Here are a few other folklore forecasts:

When leaves fall early,  autumn and winter will be mild; when leaves fall late, winter will be severe.

A warm November is the sign of a bad winter.

If September is hot (and it was here), look for a mild winter at first, but a very cold end to winter.

Warm falls are followed by cold winters.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Paradise

Sumptuous interiors lit by gas lamps and candlelight, exquisite clothing and wonderful acting...  what more could you want.  I've been waiting for Emile Zola's The Paradise to arrive stateside and the first installment did not fail in meeting my expectations.  British period pieces and foreign films with subtitles, PBS, well I am one happy camper. This will hold me over until Downton Abbey returns next year.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Finally Fall

Just had a rain and first cold front come through and look what popped up.  Maybe now, I too, can get in the fall spirit.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Pride & Prejudice - Thug Notes

Oh, the places you'll go on YouTube.  Thug Notes is kind of like Cliff Notes, but more Crip Notes.  Some salty language here, but it's bleeped.
 Uh, on second thought, after watching the Catcher In The Rye review and Hamlet, not all the off color language is bleeped, in fact, I believe the only word they bleep is the f word, goshdarnit.
Um, after another long pause to reflect, don't watch this if you are easily offended. It is a tad raunchy. Okay, maybe even R rated (or as my son just told me, NSFW).  It's funny (to me), which isn't saying much. What's humorous to me is a little skewed, but when he calls Hamlet a player, a sensitive bitch and cra cra, it made me laugh.

FYI - Spam

For those of you whom still have the number/letters verification, I too was getting a lot of comments from spammers.  I just changed my timetable of how far back they could comment, and I haven't had a spam since February.  And, you don't have to do all that rigamarole just to leave me a sweet message. Just sayin'.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Twerking The Louvre

Oh how our values have changed.  Everybody just thought Miley was being too lewd.  Guess that's just a 21st century thing.  If I looked like Miley Cyrus, I'd walk around naked all the time.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Statuary Redux

Some of the statuary at the Louvre.  I loved the sculpture wing and would also love these scattered about my Peaceable Hill Farm.  I took many pictures there and will show more later.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


I love statuary.  When is too much too much?  I have many pieces.  I just love it. Martha doesn't like it in the garden.  I love it everywhere; tucked into crooks/holes in trees, under plants, in the field and gardens, porches...  I wish I could wax poetic about them like Keats.

Though not statuary, I once placed a child's china tea set in the hollow of a giant oak tree, in hopes that a child in the future finds it.

This little satyr holding a bunny is my most recent purchase.  It was just too cute to pass up.

'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,' - that is all Ye know
on earth, and all Ye need to know.
Ode On A Grecian Urn by Keats

Monday, September 16, 2013


I guess it's time for me to bend over and show my backside and a few of the many things I've been keeping tucked away.  I'm not proud of it and I'm really not a hoarder.  Really.  These are all leftovers from my days of selling antiques; stuff too nice to donate to Goodwill or sell in a garage sale (the cheapest people I have ever met in my life). So, it sits in my garages and barns.  My houses are full too, though I really don't do any primitives in my houses.  I just like them, though my collections run the gamut from sterling silver to folk art and fine art. This beautiful bowl is about 14" across the top.  Someone said they made them in graduated sizes that fit inside each other.  

And who needs an old egg crate?

I keep old canning jars and milk bottles in this cabinet.

I have two of these - tall and shorter.  I don't know what people do with these, but I like old windows.  It also has a large carved thingy with a finial that goes above doors (pediment).

This was on the counter of an old general store.  Mud daubers and spiders live in it now.

This hanging kitchen cabinet is photographed upside down, but you get the gist.

The top half of an old stepback hutch; the first primitive I ever bought.  It weighs a ton.

Well, there you have it.  I'd love to have an estate sale, but since I live so far from everyone, I don't think I'd get many takers.  It is overwhelming.  My kids don't want any of it - they either don't have room or it's not their taste.  They have told me to please don't leave all this for them to have to do something with.  I think I need to catalog everything.  I don't want them selling my Native American collection of totem poles for $10. when one of them is worth over a thousand (and I bought it for $10.00). I wish I'd never bought all this stuff, but it sure was fun looking for it - kind of like hunting for Easter eggs.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Waning Days of Summer

I have an abundance of cayenne peppers in the garden this summer.  So what am I doing with all of these?  Making hot sauce.  I don't know why I never have before.  I am trying many different recipes.  I think I like the fermented ones the best.  In Louisiana, where they make their famous hot sauce, they ferment their peppers for three years in oak barrels. 

My problem has been finding bottles.  I found some online, but shipping was horrendous.  I'd have to be a hardcore fan or starting a business.

Though I love pepper sauce on many things, here is my new favorite.  I have to make this when my husband isn't here as he wouldn't eat it.  Garlic cheese grits, an egg and bacon.  Now I know you think the grits would be a pain to make, but I found these instant ones in the oatmeal section of the store.  They cook in a minute.  Lately, I have been dropping the egg into the grits and it bakes inside the grits.  All done in the microwave I might add.  

I am also making jalapeno pepper sauce (which is hotter than cayenne) and pepper jelly, to be added atop cream cheese for appetizers.  Mmmmm....

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Why We Must Not Look Away

Lest we forget...

I took this photo in France;  it was carved on the side of Chartres Cathedral or Chateau de Chambord.  

Whatever side you are on about Syria (and believe me, I am all over the place), nations must stand together to let the evil despots and murderous dictators know this - atrocities using chemical weapons will not be allowed to happen without consequences.  In the 21st century, you can not slaughter the innocents with poison gas and chemical weapons and get away with it.

Never again.

More Parisian Brocantes

I found this sign lying on the street behind a tent at a neighborhood brocante in Paris.  It was fairly big, heavy, but I thought it would fit into the large hard-sided luggage I brought.  I asked the lady of the tent if it was for sale and she told me, 75euros.  I didn't blink and it now hangs in my kitchen, and, it didn't fit, so I had to bend the trefoil edges to get it in my luggage which security went through at the airport to see what the heck was in there.

I loved this mirrored bird sconce - there were two.

Bought some of these cute wooden animals.

Loved this big ape and would have brought him home on my lap, but it was not to be.

This would have come home with me if it were 200 euros instead of 2000 euros.

I had planned to look at old wall coverings and papers, but didn't know what to do with them and didn't want to try and bring them home.