"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.