"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

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Winter's Day

I am making a New Year's resolution.  Yes, I aim to cut out sweets in my diet, nothing profound, but at my age, this is a near impossibility; this brain is hardwired for sweets.  I am going to try anyway as I never learn.  Not a great feat to start out a new year, but it is something to strive for, however trivial.

On this snowy day, I am become philosophic; remembering a piece of literature I always return to.  Alexander Pope's ESSAY ON MAN was a seminal work in his time and much acclaimed, and, it is profound. The theme being, "what is, is right."  My main go to line though is (not verbatim), we are all part of the chain, whereby one part is broken, the whole will fall.  It is so timely today.  As an aside, another favorite writer/philosopher of mine, Voltaire, wrote CANDIDE (another fav) as a satirical response to Pope's ESSAY ON MAN (and his "what is, is right" theme.)

In the recently read JUST KIDS, Patti Smith writes about her mother's oft quoted maxim, (not verbatim), that what is happening on New Year's Day, so goes the rest of the year.  Well hey, I am going to be busy, painting and reading on New Year's Day (and eschewing sweets just in case that old saw is true.)  Here is more from Alexander Pope's ESSAY ON MAN.  It is worth a study/read again.

"Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never is, but always to be blessed:
The soul, uneasy and confined from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

Hoping 2016 is filled with goodness and light for all of you.

Sunday, December 27, 2015


I have overindulged during the holidays.  It is the sweets that I cannot turn down.  No willpower whatsoever.  If the kids don't take this all home, it's going in the trash tomorrow.  It is the only way to keep it out of my mouth.  This piggy has a New Year's resolution.  No sugar/sweets.  Wish me luck.

Christmas Day was in the 70's and today, it is like a hurricane out and near freezing.  I don't ever think I've seen rains like this.  10 inches last I heard.  Winds gusting to 44 mph. Just wretched weather.  My weenies won't go outside it is so bad.

Besides overindulging, I have to tell you how the Christmas holidays started.  Not with all the presents that still needed wrapping and all the food to prepare, but with a fire truck outside the city house and a fireman banging on my door.  Me, standing naked as a jaybird, dripping wet from the shower, ADT on the line and the police calling too.  Damn smoke detectors with battery problems.  And, that was just the start.  I won't bore you with the rest, but I do hope the New Year brings us all better days.

FYI - we did have a good Christmas, were all together.  That was enough for me.  Didn't need any gifts; my family was gift enough.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Happy Holidays

Well, it wouldn't be the holidays without the dragees.  These hard, shiny balls just make desserts special.  They will top a red velvet cake.  With white buttercream icing, the silver dragees make the cake sparkle.  Supposedly not edible for the silver, they are really unpleasantly hard to eat anyway.  

The square jar from the 40's or 50's was probably a quarter (notice the tiny holes on the top.)  The bottle on the right, which I had to search for high and low as they aren't available at most stores now, and they still say not edible, cost a whopping $17.00 today.  Wonder what they will cost in another couple of decades or so?  

Nevertheless, hope all my friends in the blogging world have the happiest holidays.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Food Prep Has Begun

This candy, peanut brittle, is a family favorite at Christmas.  It is good, and easy.  I use a microwave recipe.  No thermometer hanging in it and hard ball stage mess.  I even have a recipe now for pudding in the microwave.  I love it because I don't have to stand over the pot, stirring constantly, for what seems like an hour.

One batch down and two more to go.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Citron Redux

Puttered around in the greenhouse today.  My citrus collection has been neglected; the trees don't look well.  After Christmas I will have to harvest and baby them with a good dose of fertilizer.  They got too cold.  Hmmmm.  

But, I did get three large Buddha's Hand citrons.  They smell of heaven.  Citrusy, but with a sweet perfume.  Nothing I have ever smelled compares.  

These beauty challenged whoppers are used for candied fruit.  The rind is stripped and candied.  It is also eaten boiled in a sugar syrup as sucket, I believe an old English treat.  They even had silver sucket forks to eat this delicacy.  It is also used in Israel in a ceremony called Sukot.  Whatever, I'm not eating it.  I'd rather eat a Snickers.

If you want to read a really interesting post about foods of yesteryear, please go to the right side of my blog and click on Food History Jottings.  Ivan Day's blog is absolutely the most incredible blog I have ever come across.  If he hasn't been already, he should be knighted by The Queen. His latest post is about the Grand Tours during the 1800's and the reactions of the English travelers to foreign foods.  Sparrow soup Madame?  Macaroni and cheese stuffed suckling pig?  It is so interesting.  He doesn't post often so have a look.  

Monday, December 14, 2015

Happy Day To Me

Well, today I turned somewhere north of thirty.  If you remember, I tried using my first crop of limes to make a limoncello.  I have tried it with lemons, but never limes.

Only the skin of the fruit is used in the making.

Add the rinds to the strongest grain alcohol on the planet and place in a dark cupboard for weeks or months.

It turned out beautiful.  Limoncello, when the syrup is added, turns cloudy, opaque.  Not so with the lime one.

This stuff will literally kill you if you drink too much of it, though that would be impossible I think. Surely the liver would fail and the imbiber become comatose before they could drink very much of it. I took one tiny sip and that is it.  It almost brought me to my knees.  I felt the heat go down my throat and all the way down my esophagus.  So much for a little drinky winky on my birthday.  Oh my heaven and stars.  I am saving this for cough medicine or the flu.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


That was my head exploding.

You know how I've been whining about books lately.  I have said I was tired of reading books I wouldn't finish or thought 'eh.' Then I found JUST KIDS, a National Book Award winner.

I said I wanted to read books that quicken the pulse; make my head explode.  Books that, well, don't take my advice as this is merely my own reaction to this tome.  I am certain it isn't for everyone.  What I'm not certain about is, whether or not you had to have lived it... the times, I guess.

I have heard of Patti Smith.  Rock goddess, poet, actor, songwriter, performance artist - but she's so much more.  My personal favorite song of hers is Because The Night. They don't make them like Patti Smith anymore: she has it all, the idiosyncratic talent of our age.

This is her story of her early years in NYC with her longtime love and muse, Robert Mapplethorpe.  I don't want it to end.

But it isn't going to yet.  I got M TRAIN at Barnes and Noble recently.  It is her newly released book.  I hope it's as good as JUST KIDS.  Hurry out to get a signed copy if you are so inclined, before they are all gone.  Patti performed in Paris as recently as October and you can watch it on Youtube.  I'm a big fan of hers now.

Monday, December 7, 2015

It Doesn't Fit

Here is an example of something that isn't a fit in the new house.  I've had this for many a moon.  The upper part is from an old store display - a large drawer diorama with a glass front.  

Underneath is an old cabinet made of cheese and fruit crates with little cubbies, sitting on an old library table.  I have always loved primitives; things made by hand and not mass produced.  

But, it is going to have to find a new home.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Out With The Old

Or perhaps that should be in with the new old. As I mentioned in the aforementioned comments, much of what I had doesn't go with the new house.  I did buy this old French desk and cane back chair to go in my new bedroom.  I had to paint the chair and will have to recover the seat.  My iPhone is old and I could not get the pics nor the lighting right.  

I did have the lamps already with, of course, birds on the lampshades.

This is a close up of the desk, though how in the world the pic ended up here I can't say.  Could not get it to center.  It is a pretty desk though with raised relief and paintings and curved drawers and sides.

And I did find this old tray at the farm, tucked away in a cabinet.  It has cardinals (like on the lampshade) painted on silk.  Very old and nice to be able to finally use it.  As I clean out closets and cabinets for Goodwill, who knows what all I'll find?

Friday, December 4, 2015

My Favorite Things

These are a few of my favorite things.  I just love this plate.  It is very old and the bird nut I am, well it flew into my arms and into the city house.  A robin, I believe.

Then again, as you can see, I have many favorite things.  I am simply unpacking and placing things wherever.  I'll keep tweaking, then it will stay that way.  Mostly, putting things on these shelves in ivory and creams.

The old pair of snow skis are the only Christmas decorating I have done at the city house.  Simply haven't had time.  I'm back at the farm until next week while my husband hunts.  Gives me time to pack up more of my favorite things to take to the home in the city.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

An Anglophile At Heart

I am an Anglophile in my heart.  Don't know of any near kin from Great Britain, but I feel a bond.  I love so many things about it; too many to list here.

I buy different magazines from GB.  The latest edition of COUNTRY LIVING British Edition is about the holidays and how they are celebrated.  Very interesting article about past winters and holidays from the 1800's to the forties.  Hadn't known about the wartime traditions.  The people back then were made of stern stuff  (unlike the younger generations of today.)  

An article about mistletoe caught my eye.  Had no clue about the traditions with mistletoe.  Early druids used it in rituals and much Celtic lore surrounds it.  It was an interesting article.  Oklahoma's state flower is the mistletoe, selected in the late 1800's before statehood.  I am going out this beautiful day and harvest a large ball of it to hang in the alcove above my doorway at the city house.  Tied up with a ribbon, it will be the only outside decoration this Christmas.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Only Twenty Six More Days Till Christmas

Oh thank goodness our half of the state had only rain.  My sister's half had ice and are without power.     Going to mingle with the throngs of Christmas shoppers today.  Wish me luck!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Twas The Day Before Thanksgiving


when all through the house not a creature was stirring except for a [SNAKE?]

Let me just cut to the chase.  The universe was conspiring to kill me.  

Went about the business of readying the city house for the family holiday and our first Thanksgiving here.  My new baby blue modern love seat arrived at the store and I went to get it in my pick up truck (free shipping that way.)  My son went with me, we loaded it up and took it home.  Just a huge box and the love seat.  No padding or protection of any kind: a thin cardboard box and love seat???  Unbelievable. This love seat is a piece of crap and made in China.  It looks good, but the quality is poor.  It has a  raw, ragged 1/4 inch edge of fabric that they then stapled to the couch.  No, they couldn't roll the hem over a couple of times before they stapled it, and I fear it will shred or pull out before too long. We had to pull back the underside to find the legs and the woodwork looks like pieces of particle board, not long pieces of hardwood. And, this wasn't a cheap love seat.  I'd have paid $250. for it but not the amount I did pay.  So, I'll have to box it up and return it myself.  Only problem is, there is a howling wind and deluge outside and will be for the next several days.  Who gets 9 inches of rain this time of year without a tropical storm?  High is near freezing today and possible icing warnings.

Okay, this is getting too long already.  Let me just say, while waiting for the trucking company to deliver my bed, I started to prepare the pies.  I looked at the oven, and what in the world did I spy?  An oven like I'd never seen before.  A convection oven.  I've heard of them but haven't a clue how they work or how to use one.  So, I have to get out booklets left by the owner and start reading the schematics.... (my least favorite thing to do in the world).  I'd rather have a root canal.  That, and I told you I've never cooked on an electric cooktop and the dials were Greek to me.

In a nutshell (I can't seem to keep this brief), they delivered the wrong bed: the deliverers said [Senora, we can't do nothing about this.  We just deliver and set up and you have to call company.] The calling began...  They'll call back within 72 business hours.  And, I saw on their website today there is a 25% black Friday sale on everything today. I am thinking (no I am unless they give it to me half off) of sending it back instead of exchanging it for the ivory one I ordered, not the gray one they sent.

After that, a snake was in the dining area of my kitchen. Deep breaths.  Haven't a clue how it got in.  Didn't know if it was a viper or not so wasn't going to chance it and had to kill it.

I unwrapped the new bedding for my wrong bed(that I agonized over) and no shams included.   What?  This wasn't a custom made set.  So, I had to return to the store.  Oh, no, those weren't included.  Have to buy the shams one piece at a time.  Nearly as much as the bed covering I might add.  Okay. Deep breathe. Get them home and one will not unzip no matter what I tried.  I will have to fight the crowds to return it.  Grrrr.  I couldn't even find an alcoholic beverage in the house.  I rarely drink, but would have if I could have found some.

There is more but this is getting too lengthy and I'm sure you don't want to hear about all of the dark comedic happenings. Needless to say, I'm not even going to break this wishbone as I am certain I will come up with the short end.  What ever!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

610 Stompers vs. New York - "Bitter Sweet Symphony"

Just in case you missed them in today's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, here is their last foray at the parade.

"Ordinary men doing extraordinary moves," the 610 Stompers have been stomping their way into hearts for several years.  Everyday men, doctors, lawyers, garbage collectors all dancing at events across the nation.  Hailing from New Orleans, in their 70's polyester outfits, headbands and gold lame sneakers, they are hilarious.  Watch some of their different dances on youtube.  Their facial expressions alone are worth it.

And, their team supports many charities.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Paint On A Canvas

I finished the palette knife impasto oil painting.  I really enjoyed doing it.  It was a completely different style for me.  I always know when I'm finished with a piece.  It isn't something I can explain.  Just know.  But then again, I can go back another time and change something if I want (and I can see some things 'I want'.)

The name of the painting is Lipstick On Her Reefer.  Don't be shocked.  I was a hippie once.  The title comes from a Laura Nyro song (one of two of my all time favorite singer/songwriters.)  One of the lyrics "lipstick on her reefer," is from the song Blackpatch.  

Haven't had time to work on anything since the sale/purchase of houses and my husband's illnesses et al.  Hopefully, soon, I can move all my art supplies to the new house.  An empty room is waiting.  I have many things I want to work on, including some very large canvasses. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

She's In The House

The last few flowers and roses are in bloom.  For a couple of days that is, before a hard freeze arrives. I've put most of the plants and the outside of the house to bed for the winter.  

I finished unpacking yesterday.  Got a few things hung on the walls, but mostly still have it to do.  I had to return to the farm, but will pack some more things to take to the city house.  

We will celebrate our first Thanksgiving next week at the city house.  Though I will have to make most of the food at the farm and transport it to the city, we will have a wonderful time.  The kids and grandkids love the new house, as do I.  I still haven't figured out how to do many of the switches, knobs etc. I keep having to call the former owner to ask how to do things.  The shower in the master bath looks like something out of Star Trek.  Who needs seven shower heads? We don't have things like that at the farm.

And, I have never cooked on an electric cooktop.  I'm thinking burned! Thanksgiving, here we come.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Bed In A Teapot

Well, this is the last time you'll hear me whining about that bed.  I remembered my stash I keep in this chintz teapot.  Though I must have been dipping into it a lot, (told you I can't remember anything) it is going for my bed.  That, and I had two ladies that just left who took me to the cleaners on some of the antiques I have been wanting to get rid of.  They have a store and wanted to pay pennies on the dollar, but it was a chance to get rid of stuff and get my bed.  A twofer and a new bed to boot.  So done deal.  Yippee! 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Just A Folly

I am decorating my new city bedroom in country French.  I have looked high and low for a French caned bed.  I have found very few and the ones I have discovered are all very expensive.  Some are antiques and even more expensive than the reproductions.

I finally found this one at Anthropologie.  It is ivory with a fully carved swag of cabbage roses though this photo doesn't show the detail well.   It is the one I want - it is also expensive in my book. 

I don't buy jewelry or baubles that would cost as much.  Other than sunglasses and the occasional handbag, I don't spend much on clothes.  I guess I am trying to justify purchasing it.
My husband would just die and it would even be stressful for me buying it as I guess I am just plain cheap.  I don't like to pay retail without a discount.  I guess buyer's remorse would be the more appropriate phrase.  Oh, and I  forgot to mention I need a new dining room table and chairs and wood floors.  Those alone will wipe me out.  Since I haven't moved in such a long time, I hadn't thought about how my old furniture wouldn't go with the new house.  The former owner had a very formal style of decorating.  Me, not.  The first thing to come down were the curtains and swags she left behind.  Deep blues and green and burgundy.  I'm more whites and creams and pastels.

I'll let you know if I get up the nerve to buy it.  Perhaps if I wait long enough I'll forget about it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015


A few posts back I said I wasn't sure how to tell when my pomegranates were ripe.  Well, I got back to the farm this week and I think I found out how to tell.  Make a note, harvest pomegranates in mid October from now on.  They were whoppers, very heavy with juice and the nectar is sweeter than I remembered.  The juice in stores doesn't compare to the taste of these.
Logee's Tropical Plants out of CT (can't seem to get the spelling right) is where I purchased my plant.  Though I overwinter it in the greenhouse, all the leaves fall off and then starts leafing out in early spring.  You too can grow them.  I tore into the one in front. It's a great thing.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Halloween Treat

This is one of my all time favorite movies.  Not sure why, but the era, cinematography, story line and suspense all play into it.  And, it's supposedly a true story.  The author/director appears in the first scene.  If you know how to do Netflix or streaming (I don't even know what it is) you can probably find it or you can go to Amazon to buy it.  Great  movie for Halloween.

Monday, October 26, 2015

It's Not Funny

How did I get so old so fast?  I am crestfallen.  Today I forgot the four digit code number for my debit card.  Twice.  I was shocked (and somewhat embarrassed.) It is gone; erased from my memory.  I cannot recall it and will have to go to the bank to get a new card and number.  The bank can't even tell me what it is.  

It's been nice knowing you and isn't this little girl the cutest?

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Product Review

You ready for this?  

I'm pretty picky about my feet.  I have every implement imaginable in triplicate.  I don't go to the nail salons: I prefer to do them myself (and fear infections etc. from the salons.)  I simply can't stand for my heels to get callouses and cracking.  After a summer of flip flops, they get pretty dry even with constant attention and said accoutrement and lotions.

Here is a new item I have found.  It can be purchased in the Soft Surroundings catalog and/or spas.  Using 17 different "natural extracts" including lemon, apples, clematis, chamomile and more.  It even listed ivy.  

Well it must have been poison ivy. 

Don't look at the next picture if you are squeamish or phobic about feet.  I'll skip down.

It's not my foot, I swear, it's my friend Mary Kay's.  Okay, just kidding.  Not only did my feet peel, the skin literally sloughed off, some in sheets.  They felt like a Shaggy Bark Elm tree trunk.  It has been a week and a half already.  Even the skin on top of my feet are peeling.  

Anyway, this stuff works.  I accused my sister of doing it on purpose (getting it for me and not telling me what to expect.)  But, all in all, after all is said and done, my feet are like baby feet.  Just make sure and pick a time when you can wear socks for a couple of weeks.  Wouldn't it have been funny to go to a salon with these feet?

And, you thought you were going to see a delicious treat or fall beautifulness.

Monday, October 19, 2015


I think I just read a guy book.  Another blog listed this as one of the best books of the year.  What?  Argh!

Horrid is my review with the most obnoxious style of writing I've read.  I hurried out to Barnes and Noble for this?  So please, tell me the three best books you've ever read.  I want my head to explode.  I am batting near zero of late and need some good books to read for the coming winter.  MFK Fisher is next up.  I'm trying to read Michael Chabon's THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND CLAY and I'm not sure I'll make it through the entire book.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Puttering Around

Or a fine fall morning; just enough cool and lots of sunshine.  Found a few last tomatoes that the deer haven't eaten.  Love them.

The acorns are in abundance this year and the deer are coming right up to the house eating them.  They are also crunching underfoot on all the patios and walkways.  Slightly annoying.

The pomegranates are just about ripe for the picking.  In fact, I don't even know how to tell if they are ripe or not.

After nearly losing my entire greenhouse full of citrus last winter due to the propane tank running out, a few are fruiting.  Here is a Buddha's Hand citron, the oldest known citrus going back thousands of years.

Here are the turmeric and ginger plants I started in early summer.  The turmeric is nearly three feet tall.  I don't like the taste of turmeric, though I take it in capsule form daily.  My daughter will get those.  I am interested to see how many tubers have formed in both.

There are so many frogs and toads this year.  From the size of your pinkie fingernail to bull frog size, these little guys have taken over my goldfish pond.  They hide under the lily pads or sun themselves on top.

They are actually very stealthy - cat like in the way they stalk their prey.  Horseflies and insects buzz around for a sip of water.  The frogs sit and wait, but sometimes they move like a cat then leap.  A wasp landed on me and I slapped it and it landed in the water.  It began to swim when a toad ate it.  No reaction from the toad.  Didn't blink an eye nor move its mouth.  I guess the wasp didn't sting it or else the toad is immune to its sting.  

I think these tree frogs are my favorite.  Not quite two inches in length, they camouflage themselves to what they rest upon.  
Well, there you have it.  Not even a cute toad limerick.  Just a beautiful morning.

Monday, October 12, 2015

New Back Porch

 Here are a few pics I took this weekend at the new city house.  Remember I had a list of things I could not abide, but all those wants and not went right out the window and mainly for these reasons.  The back of the house is all windows looking out onto this large covered porch and...

my view from there.  I called it a jewel box, planted with flowers everywhere and backing right up to a pond.  It took my breath away.

There are all different areas of gardens.  I love this little bricked in seating area.

In one location, we have our own little deck dock.  I'll have to put a couple of chairs out on it.  I am told the pond is stocked with fish.  There are eight houses that surround the pond.

Lots of wildlife too.

This is looking down from the porch.  I've never seen anything like it as there is about a 6 foot drop off from the porch to a small lawn down the stairs, but mostly flower beds and plantings.

Of course there has to be something for Miss Worrywort to worry about.  Can you imagine going over to meet the new neighbors and telling them, please don't try to pet the red weenie because she will bite you...
I really am nervous about doing that.  With this kind of fence, Sister can't get through it, but she can sure get her head through it and she will bite strangers that try to pet her.  Hmmm....