Friday, February 26, 2010

trouvée: violet

Meet "Violet Deane." She came from England via airmail. I think she looks like the heroine of a Dickens novel.

Speaking of literature, some new and notable:

* Remarkable Creatures (just finished!)
* Alice I Have Been
* Girl in a Blue Dress

Also, I really enjoyed this sneak peek. Have a good weekend...!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

making friends

In the months since Gourmet published its last issue, I have been making do by perusing old issues and flipping through my favorite Jamie Oliver cookbook. But, one can only go so long without fresh culinary inspiration. Yesterday, when the March issue of Bon Appétit landed in my mailbox (the publisher's substitution for my Gourmet subscription), I sighed heavily and threw it on the mail pile. Later, with cup of tea in hand and Olympics in the background, I absently picked it up and started flipping through. While the photography is not nearly as luscious, a lovely little article on Irish soda bread caught my attention. So simple, and somehow exactly what I have been craving. I think perhaps Bon Appétit and I are making friends.

Mrs. O'Callaghan's Soda Bread

nonstick vegetable oil spray
3 cups all purpose flour
3 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup (packed) brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled margarine or butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes 2 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425°F. Spray heavy baking sheet with nonstick spray. Whisk both flours, sugar, and baking soda in medium bowl to blend. Add margarine and cut in until margarine is reduced to pea-size pieces. Add buttermilk; stir until shaggy dough forms. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead until dough comes together, about 10 turns. Shape dough into 7-inch round. Place dough on prepared baking sheet. Cut large X, 1/2 inch deep, in top of dough. Bake bread until deep brown and bottom sounds hollow when firmly tapped, about 40 minutes. Transfer bread to rack and cool completely.

(recipe from Bon Appétit, March 2010)

Monday, February 22, 2010

a few signs

Yesterday I ventured out to the farmers' market for the first time since the holidays. It shocks me to think it had been that long. That is winter, I suppose. The pickings were slim ~ some greens, sweet potatoes, and Brussels sprouts for my dinners this week. But there were a few hopeful signs of spring ~ pussy willows and forsythia peeking out at the flower stand. Funny how little things like that go mostly unnoticed at any other time of the year.

Some interesting things in the paper:

* an interview with Ute Mahler
* a review of Princess Noire

Happy monday...

Friday, February 19, 2010

trouvée: the buttons

My uncle gave me this photograph for Christmas, tucked in an old cigar box along with several other little gentlemen ~ a "box of boys" as I like to think of it! I really can't tell you much about it, except that it dates to around 1910. I know it is hard to tell from the scan, but he has the chunkiest cable-knit sweater on, which is just a tad too big. {click to view larger}

Some good things:

* what remains inside
* Sunburn
* and a great series of winter exhibitions at ICP

Happy, happy weekend! cheers.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

a case for benign neglect

Several days ago Courtney wrote a wonderful post on Style Court about the magnificent 18th-century state bed at Calke Abbey in Derbyshire, with its original Chinese embroidered silk hangings ~ an extraordinary bed from an extraordinary house. Her post brought back a flood of memories from my visit there two summers ago.

The National Trust, which has owned and administered the house since 1984, bills Calke Abbey as an example of "the country house in decline." Indeed, it has all the trappings of 18th-century opulence, Victorian innovation and obsession, and 20th-century eccentricity. All of which, when finally met with impoverished circumstances has produced a property that is, quite literally, a time capsule. Over the years, nothing was thrown away ~ the rooms filled floor to ceiling with vitrines of stuffed birds, egg collections, hunting trophies, old prints, books, textiles, furniture, and other curiosities.

When the Trust took over the derelict house, they had no idea of the bed's existence. Curators were shocked to find it stored in its original boxes, and speculate that the bed was never installed in the house because the ceilings were not high enough to accommodate it. Through simple neglect, the colors and integrity of the fabric have been beautifully preserved. In terms of the house itself, the Trust decided not to attempt to "restore" it to any particular time period, but to keep it as they found it. While the house may seem chaotic, each object has been meticulously catalogued, each peel of wallpaper and plaster crack thoroughly documented to maintain "authenticity."

Some find the house disturbing, its shabbiness depressing. I was fascinated by its moody stillness, dark passages and curious rooms. And of course the theatrical nature of it all appealed to my camera.

Photographs taken July 2008 at Calke Abbey (more here!).

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

winter garden

I flew the coop for a few days ~ leaving behind the dirty snow piles of Washington for the pristine white fields of western Michigan. Do you remember this summer garden, full of hydrangea, climbing roses, and fresh herbs? Well, it is just as beautiful in the winter (more here)!

A few things:

* making absinthe
* Becoming Jane Eyre (with surprisingly good reviews)
* and some yum!

Happy Mardi Gras!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

keeping warm

It is wishful thinking, but I thought the top image looked a little like cherry blossoms.

I am keeping warm and staying inspired with thoughts of milder climates:

* hearblack
* Pia's post on Vaucluse House in Sydney
* and Deborah Tubreville's Casa No Name

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 12, 2010

the view from here

The blizzard, 6 February 2010.

A lot of snow (more here).

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

my snowy valentine

The gentleman sent this to me yesterday. He has a sense of humor.

Right now, I can barely see the trees in my neighbor's back garden for the swirls of snow. A blizzard warning has been posted and we are all hunkered down. Sipping tea. Baking quiche. Stitching, reading. And nursing some big bad bruises. I spent hours outside yesterday, clearing my car, and trying to clean snow off the remaining trees around the building. I salvaged some downed red bud and dogwood branches, and brought them inside to force. My forcing, etc. book says I should have red bud blooms by mid March. Nothing about the dogwood. Has anyone ever tried it? Regardless, the branches are beautifully sculptural.

Take care, wherever you are. xo!

Monday, February 8, 2010

snowed in

The official measurement in Washington: 17.8 inches. Really? I would round that up to 2 feet. It was amazingly beautiful, but oh so treacherous. Trees down everywhere, including a beautiful magnolia in front of my building, and a dogwood around the corner. But hot tea, warm oatmeal muffins, and an occasional snowball fight help to sustain (ummm...I have bruises on parts of my body I had forgotten existed).

Bear with me as we dig out, and brace for another storm tomorrow into wednesday (6-12 more inches expected). I hope to have some photographs for you later this week.

Be safe and warm.

Friday, February 5, 2010

trouvée: a winter wonderland

Do you sense a theme? This was part of a group of four photographs I found, dating to the 1910s. They must have come from the same album (I promise to show you the other three in time). Whoever the photographer was, he or she had an eye for the picturesque ~ I love the tunnel of trees, and three little figures in the center. {click to view larger}

A few things today:

* Lightning Fields
* 100 abandoned houses (via Abby)
* and Jane Waggoner Deschner

One to two feet of snow is on its way to Washington. Time to hunker down. Stay warm and safe, wherever you are. Cheers!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

the snow chronicles

This morning I woke up very early and peeked out the window. The sun was not yet up, but I could already tell that it was a fairyland outside. I could hardly contain myself, waiting for the sky to brighten so I could run out before work with my camera.

Truth be told, I love snow. And this was one of the prettiest I have ever seen. A fluffy, wet snow that stuck to everything, and turned the city into something magical. It lasted no more than a hour before the branches gave up their loads and the sun turned the sidewalks into a slushy mess.

(a little more here)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

evening snow: a symphony in greys and blue

Over the weekend:

* there was snow
* and a nasty bug (with a fever)
* so, I became obsessed with New Scandinavian Cooking on PBS (how have I missed this until now!?)
* and watched parts 2 & 3 of Emma (verdict: I loved it)

Today, the groundhog saw his shadow. And in the forecast for tonight: more snow.