Friday, July 31, 2015

Inspirations for the Weekend ...

"The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated." - Mahatma Gandhi

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Grandma's Doilies

Almost everyone has at least one or two doilies or dresser scarves tucked away. I have several. 

It started with both my maternal and paternal grandmothers each gave me a doily, and I was hooked. My maternal grandmother had several posed around the house, but the most memorable was the starched doily that was placed under a crystal clear candy bowl that held the old-fashioned lemon drop candy. 

Through the years I added doilies to my collection from estate sales and second-hand stores, with a few dresser scarves tossed in. Perhaps doilies have become outdated, but I am fascinated by this crocheted art, and appreciate the love and the hard work that goes into them. Other than their decoration of dainty loops and knots, there was a time when doilies actually served a purpose. They were fashionable in the 19th century, as well as handy, as they were used to protect the area of a sofa or chair where the head rested - like that of white tissue on airline and dental seats. 

My point? Doilies are affordable and pretty.  Make them practical, as well.  For a while, those of us who decorate on the "BoHo" or Shabby Chic style were being poked fun of by the youth for using doilies. Doilies have come and gone through the generations, but I do believe that the doily is slowly coming back, especially when adding creativity. 

Go find a few antique doilies, and enjoy them for their beauty and the love that went into them.  

Friday, July 24, 2015

Inspirations for the Weekend ...

Hello My Readers,
For some reason, time got away from me. I had great intentions to write about a few things such as doilies (really?)  and a recipe. How about a little self-help for the weekend, instead? I like this very much. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Inspirations for the Weekend ...

"I got nasty habits; I take tea at three." - Mick Jagger, The Rolling Stones. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Violet Hour

This is the violet hour, the hour of hush and wonder,
when the affections glow again and valor is reborn,
when the shadows deepen magically along the edge
of the forest and we believe that, if we watch carefully,
at any moment we might see a unicorn. - 
Bernard DeVoto "The Hour" (1948)

"The Hour: A Cocktail Manifesto" written by Pulitzer Prize author Bernard DeVoto, is a classic book celebrating one part history and two parts manifesto, lightly stirred, not shaken. DeVoto tells us how to treat a cocktail and why we drink "properly," such as relaxing in a opulent upholstered wing-back chair.   

American poet, T.S. Eliot also gives mention of the violet hour in his 1922 poem, "The Waste Land. "At the violet hour, when the eyes and back turn upward from the desk ... At the violet hour, the evening hour that strives ..." 

"The evening hour that strives ... " The hour that strives to bring us relaxation, and strives to celebrate any quiet time we can find for ourselves. 

It's important to know that whether or not you partake of the spirits, the Violet Hour is for all of us. It is an hour where we can quietly connect with a partner or friend, but especially an hour of quiet time for ourselves. It's a reminder to put away your cell phone and other media, turn on a little light background music, if you wish; and use your nicest crystal glassware - even if it is a non-alcoholic drink.  

The setting is important, from a wing-back chair in front of a cozy fire in the fireplace to a rocking chair on the porch feeling the breeze and capturing the smells of a rose garden. It's a time to sit back and enjoy the quiet - the hush and wonder - reclaiming yourself after a busy day.  Perhaps, if you are lucky, you may even see a unicorn. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Inspirations for the Weekend ...

I cannot take credit for this one, but it sure spoke to me. This comes from the blog, Morning, Computer. 

I Steal Time. 

Walking in London with a friend from America who works in film.  I stopped at a roundabout near Covent Garden, looked up.  He asked what I was looking at.  Everything, I said.  It’s my practice.  I take five minutes every day just for me, to look around and see where I am and be there.  Thirty-five minutes a week.  Over twenty years, that’s something over six hundred hours I’ve taken just for myself.

It’s easy to feel like you’re living on borrowed time, and that time is running out.  For five minutes a day, I like to turn the hourglass the other way.  I’ve stolen six hundred hours from the countdown clock that the world would have drained away from me had I let it. 

 My friend instantly decided that I was Not Normal and regarded me warily for the rest of the day. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Cooking is Cheapter than Therapy: Rosemary Shortbread

Cooking for others can be an act of love, as well as a little therapy. Cooking for yourself should also be an act of love, right? 

However, to get the best of these therapy benefits, you must plan ahead. Collect all of the ingredients and gadgets needed according to the recipe. Don't skimp. If the recipe calls for butter, then use butter not margarine. We trust cows before we trust synthetic and unnatural factory ingredients. 

Don't be in a hurry. Plan on relaxing and enjoying this adventure in the kitchen. Turn on some of your favorite music, grab a glass of wine (if you are so inclined), and even put on an apron. Now get to cooking. Therapy awaits! 

My style of recipes is fresh ingredients, classics, but now days the easier the prep work, the better. I want my finished product to look like I have been working in the kitchen all day. This recipe for Rosemary Shortbread is a classic and the amount of time it takes for you to look like a cooking diva is almost nothing.  Many thanks to LeaAnn Nelson Hughes, wine-drinking colleague and vineyard owner, for sharing her delicious recipe.

This recipe is almost fool-proof. Easy-peasy, and after your first trial, you can experiment and make it your own recipe by using different spices and herbs, nuts, seeds, and even minced dried fruits. Add more salt, depending on if you use unsalted or salted butter, or even scale it back. Add more sugar or scale it back. Use a tablespoons of honey if you want to make it a bit more sweet, and with an added flavor. Just remember it is important to always use one stick (1/2 cup) of butter for every cup of flour.

Photo Credit: New York Times
Rosemary Shortbread

1 cup of flour
1 stick of butter, chilled (1/2 cup) 
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. - 3/4 tsp. Kosher salt (depending if you used salted butter)
1 tsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped

Heat oven to 325 degrees. You may use the old flour/pastry cutter by hand, but even better if you have a food processor. In a food processor, pulse together flour, sugar, rosemary, and salt. Add butter and pulse to fine crumbs. Be careful not to over process or heat up the butter in the dough. 

Press the crumbled texture dough into an un-greased 8 - 9" square baking pan. The less you touch the dough, the better. Bake until golden brown for about 30 - 40 minutes. After baking, let the shortbread cool in the pan. Cut into squares. Serve with your favorite wine or beverage. 


Friday, July 3, 2015

Inspirations for the Weekend ...

Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.  - Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Rabbit, Rabbit ...

You may have seen this posted on social media pages, and wondered, "What does this mean?"

Old British folklore from the early 1900's claimed that if you say 'Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit' the first thing when you wake up in the morning, on the first day of each month, you will have good luck all month long.

The exact origin is unknown, but there have been variants about it through the years. There have been dignitaries uttering these hopeful fortuitous chants, from British military author Sir Herbert Russell (1925) simply saying, "White rabbits" first thing in the morning to United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1935) confessed that he said "Rabbits" on the first day of every month. In fact, President Roosevelt believed in this legend so much, that he even carried his lucky rabbit's foot in his pocket. 

There are some old English legends feel it shows respect to the animal kingdom, while others say you should only apply this chant to the months with an "R" in them. Now, if you happen to miss your morning monthly chant, legend says you can say, "Black Rabbit" before you hit the pillow for slumber, or say, "Tibbar, tibbar ..." - of course, rabbit spelled backwards. 

Does this practice really place good fortune in your hand? Well, it is fun, it enhances your morning with its whimsy, and what can it hurt? We could all use a little positive and fun affirmations in our lives. 

"And if you go chasing rabbits ... Go ask Alice, I think she'll know" - Jefferson Airplane
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