Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Is there really just one Santa Claus?

There is still time left to be Santa! You have no idea how good it feels until you do it.

Each year kind hearted people bring Operation Santa Claus to life by answering "Dear Santa" letters from needy children who would otherwise have no Christmas at all. Operation Santa Claus is changing with the times and growing which means that this wonderful volunteer program may now be available at your local post office. Please note that "Dear Santa" letters will no longer sent out by mail from the New York Post Office, so if you would like to participate in this wonderful program, simply call your local post office to see if they offer "Operation Santa Claus". Please see our "USPS Operation Santa Claus" information page for more information on how to locate a post office in your area.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sweet little hostess gift

I brought this antique transferware mug to a sailing couple when we went over for an amazing dinner last weekend. Angel hair with uni was the first course and it just got better and better after that. But I digress.... filled the mug about 1/3 of the way with marble chips (you can get at craft store or garden center) then placed a paperwhite bulb in. Just add water. Should bloom in a few weeks when placed on a sunny windowsill. When the blossoms are spent you have a lovely mug to have your tea in! Wah la, all that for a couple bucks and a little effort!

Love these amazing lilies!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

you lookin' at me?

With the temperature dropping faster than the stock market it is time to fill your birdfeeders. I like Lyric Supreme or Cardinal mix and always try to buy at my local hardware store to support my neighbors. Here is a tufted titmouse wondering why I have the big lens on. Cute huh? Titmice (?) and chickadees are my faves. I recommend Droll Yankee feeders. US Made and last forever.

From Last Roll

I caught a woodpecker in flight, pretty cool.
From for the birds

Check out the squirrel behind him back right and the bronze dove birdbath that Jeff's parents gave us as a wedding present.
From Last Roll

Love the foggy quality of the photo from shooting through the screen.
From Last Roll

Here is that squirrel up close
From for the birds

and here is Cheddar with his pet 'squirrel' Spammy
From for the birds

last but certainly not least is the platform feeder Jeff made me for Christmas last year fashioned after our post and beam barn. HOW LUCKY AM I???!
From for the birds

Thursday, November 20, 2008

AHOY! Nellie could feasibly float!!! These are the photos submitted yesterday from Wayne. The 1903 Herreshoff Gaff Rig Schooner Nellie we are restoring up (down?) in Maine has been planked! Jeff is handing our cigars. Very exciting. Feels more like a boat now than just a project. Will be wonderful to get that beauty splashed next fall. Check out her website www.synellie.com

Off to work. Shooting some instructional/tip shots for Raley's Markets this week. Make it a great day!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thinking about comfort food recipes...here is one of my all time faves. Ideal for a chilly evening...and you could make ahead and freeze the leftovers.

Ina's Chicken Pot Pies makes 4 individual. I like to cut out initials or leaves to place on top with scraps of crust, to save time you can use the sheets of pre-made pastry by the cookie dough rolls in the market. As with all Ina recipes I find you can cut the fat tremendously substituting milk instead of cream and using less butter.

3 whole (6 split) chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
5 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
2 chicken bouillon cubes
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups yellow onions, chopped (2 onions)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 cups medium-diced carrots, blanched for 2 minutes
1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas (2 cups)
1 1/2 cups frozen small whole onions
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
For the pastry:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 to 2/3 cup ice water
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
Flaked sea salt and cracked black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts on a baking sheet and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cooked through. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin. Cut the chicken into large dice. You will have 4 to 6 cups of cubed chicken.

In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock and dissolve the bouillon cubes in the stock. In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the onions over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the hot chicken stock to the sauce. Simmer over low heat for 1 more minute, stirring, until thick. Add 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and heavy cream. Add the cubed chicken, carrots, peas, onions and parsley. Mix well.

For the pastry, mix the flour, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the shortening and butter and mix quickly with your fingers until each piece is coated with flour. Pulse 10 times, or until the fat is the size of peas. With the motor running, add the ice water; process only enough to moisten the dough and have it just come together. Dump the dough out onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Divide the filling equally among 4 ovenproof bowls. Divide the dough into quarters and roll each piece into an 8-inch circle. Brush the outside edges of each bowl with the egg wash, then place the dough on top. Trim the circle to 1/2-inch larger than the top of the bowl. Crimp the dough to fold over the side, pressing it to make it stick. Brush the dough with egg wash and make 3 slits in the top. Sprinkle with sea salt and cracked pepper. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling hot.

Monday, November 17, 2008

do you have any idea what it's worth?

Monday is one of our favorite nights of the week. Home cooked meal for my sweetie, fireplace roaring, candles lit on the dining room table, nice glass of wine and....ANTIQUE ROADSHOW! The only TV show, aside from the Office and 30 Rock, that we actually look forward to. Oh and all the shows I work on of course!

Here is a claret jug that I bought years ago for Simply Ming:

Even though it was my responsibility to set up the wine pairings & props for the final act of Simply Ming a few years back, I was hesitant about paying $75 bucks for this wine jug/pitcher/decanter. But housewares were half-price at the thrift shop that day and that made a big difference. I bought it. For weeks that thing sat in the back of my Volvo with wooden spoons in it as I drove back and forth from VT to Boston...never used it on show. I packed it away and didn't think about it again until I started selling antiques at Serge's Wine Shop in South Londonderry, VT. Perfect fit right? Polishing it up I noticed some cool makers marks I had not noticed before..well long story short I researched the marks and located one just like it that had sold at Sotheby's in 2003 for $10,800!!! I priced it at $110! Look for me in the future on Antique Road Show with my 1880s Christopher Dresser Claret Jug in tow. 'Till then it's in a bubble wrap cocoon just waiting for it's big debut.


Short Ribs and Long Tales

A bit early this year
 but the first batch of short ribs
 hit the plate last night. 

Jeff's Aunt Lyndal came over for dinner
and good fun was had by all.
 Loved listening to her and Jeff reminisce
 about the good old days at Guard Hill in Bedford.
 Sounded a bit like The Royal Tannenbaums to me...
jungle gym in the parlor?
 Tumbling mats on the second floor hallway?
 No wonder Peter Boal went on
 to be one of the best ballet dancers in the world.

You want to impress someone
 with a delicious heart warming meal? 

Takes some time, 
I started the short ribs Saturday afternoon..
served them Sunday night, 
but sooo worth the effort.

Here is the recipe from Balthazar:

the perfect accoutrement to this are the BLT Popovers.
 Spectacular and make the meal seem extra special.
 Again so worth the effort. http://recipe.aol.com/recipe/popovers/75660

This is not a meal to whip together.
 You need to plan ahead. 
Your butcher can cut the short ribs for you,
 even if it is Stop and Shop, 
and the cut is very inexpensive.
 $3-6 bucks a pound.

Bon Appetite!

Friday, November 14, 2008

thinking about crafts for Christmas.........

any ideas?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

drizzle my sizzle

Thrilled that there is a light drizzle so I don't feel so bad staying inside. This time of year all I want to do is plant bulbs but I still need to work. Invoicing, receipts, etc.. plus get my office in order. More on that to follow.

drizzle my narcissisle

I naturalized about sixty of these sunny 'fortune' daffodils by the norway pines. What a bright bundle of sunshine they are going to be when the April drizzle wakes up the earth next spring! What bulbs have you planted?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

check out Grandma on /

Oh Lidia dear Lidia!

Well as much as I want to plan, place and plant bulbs today I will be heading out to Long Island to Lidia's house to pack up all my props. Not a bad second choice.  Her show is molto bueno.  Jeff and I caught it last night while eating my WASPy version of lasagna.  I am going to start up a Grandma fan club if there isn't one out there yet. She is my new favorite person on the planet. 88 years young and still making the women laugh and the men blush! Cin Cin Grandma!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Bulbs, Bulbs, Bulbs....

Hello my name is Abby J and I have a problem. Purchased another 500 or so bulbs yesterday and have been going through my garden photos from the past few years to see where I can fill in with some of these little gems... any blank spots crying out for a Cheerfulness Daffodil? How about a dozen brilliant red early blooming Abba Tulip interplanted with the Tasha Tudor forget-me-nots?

Here is a lovely red tulip from last April. Click on it to enlarge to really appreciate the pattern on the leaves, the stamens, the petals! Nice how it sets off the silvery foliage of the juniper. I planted a couple dozen of these Red Riding Hood ... find them here http://www.kvbwholesale.com/store/tulips/kaufmanniana/12290 ... in the planters that Jeff made, maybe put some white pansies in there to keep them company. What are your favorite combos? and I'm talking plants not pretzels....

Saturday, November 8, 2008

rainy days and tulips always get me high

Phew, I am soaked to the bone, well not everywhere just the bottom of my hair and then ass down. Had my barbour jacket on that kept my midsection bone dry, I highly recommend these waxed cotton waterproof classic jackets if you, like me, enjoy spending a rainy day outside. They are available on www.ebay.com or www.flwoods.com  This tea tastes great. Newman's Own  Royal Tea ... try it, you'll like it.

What the heck was I doing out there for six hours you may ask?? I planted a ton of bulbs:
100 daffodil 'ice follies' naturalized at the wood's edge and in a random pattern by the new stone steps
42 daffodil ' barrett browning' in the established daff bed in the secret garden
100 crocus big flowering ones in the lawn by the herb garden

Thursday, November 6, 2008


I am feeling so optimistic about our world's future these days, especially when checking out this show on PBS... 'e2.' We need to eliminate our dependancy on oil, foreign or domestic. WHY are we not all tapping in to solar and wind powered energy? Simple. Easy. Clean. I would love to have some wind turbines around, heck with all the clogs and tulip bulbs around this house it seems odd that we don't have one or two already!


Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Well Jeff and I woke up at the crack to vote. Vote for Change! This is certainly the most important election of my lifetime. I was also very inspired to create a blog by Pauline Wall. Here goes.
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