Mrs. K At Home This and that, and all the things I love!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Happy December!

So... it's December! Happy December and this month is filled with the joy of holiday celebrations. Mr. K and I will open the first window of our advent calendar. Like last year's, this one is filled with little chocolates and little pictures. I get so much pleasure from this little ritual.

Our Advent calendar from Heidel.

And the back.

Major cleaning and rearranging today followed by decorating which I have down to a science and doesn't take that long anymore. A pleasurable way to spend the first day of December!

Oh, and a few little goodies recently acquired from eBay, one of which is a covered casserole to add to my Currier & Ives collection. I must have place settings for at least 25 or thirty, various platters, serving dishes, pie plates, and even glasses, but I did not have this. Why you may ask? I saw one in a little shop in Georgia, but the woman wanted $110.00 for it. That particular casserole wasn't even in very nice condition. I passed on it as it was out of my budget. However, this one is beautiful, clean, and was WAY lower in price. I am very pleased!

Currier & Ives covered casserole in mint condition.


And for my button collection, sweet little strawberries and flowers, all on their original cards. I like
collecting the buttons on the cards if I can, but won't pass up one that delights me.

So those are the goodies. Now... cleaning, decorating, and deciding which cookies will make the gift list for this year. I'm limiting it to three or four kinds, one of which will be my shortbread, and another will be Ricotta cookies. Decisions, decision. 

Also on the agenda, a nice flank steak for tonight's dinner and a pot of Pasta Fagioli (Pasta Fazool, as I knew it growing up) for tomorrow and the next night, and perhaps the next. No hardship, eating that!

Deliciously yours,
Mrs. K 


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!


I hope that your holiday has been as lovely as mine. Mr. K and I went to a friend's home and spent the day with her family laughing, eating, and just enjoying the company. I brought the squash carrot casserole. I made it with cream of chicken and cream of mushroom soups, adding a generous pile of mushrooms to the standard mix. I topped it with a goodly amount of cornbread dressing and it was really yummy, enjoyed by everyone.

My friend, Mrs. S, had help in the kitchen from her mom who made a luscious stuffing for the turkey and wonderful gravy. The meal was just so good, you could tell because it was so quiet! Dessert was wild blueberry pie, the blueberries from her brother's bushes, pumpkin pie, apple pie, and a gluten free cake that, unfortunately wasn't a hit. All of the desserts were topped with piles of whipped cream. There was, of course, coffee on the side.

The important thing was how lovely the company was, we felt right at home and just like we were part of the family. We finished off the evening by stopping in to see another friend who is just home from the hospital and rehab. I am grateful that she is on the mend. We brought her a plate of food that is going to be three meals for her and she enjoyed the first meal while we were there. Another really pleasant visit and now we rolled home and are happily exhausted.

That's what this holiday is about, being with good friends and family. We are grateful for their love and friendship, the laughter, the fun, the food. Life is a blessing, forget the unimportant stuff, because what is important is the love.

Yours stuffed with blessings,
Mrs. k

Thursday, November 20, 2014

These Look Yummy!

With the holiday season about to begin I have been browsing about looking at recipes. Pinterest, blogs, various companies, are a wealth of items to check out, everything from food to decor. I thought I'd share some that look good to me.


I do love cornbread and even have a recipe book with only cornbread recipes. Mr. K LOVES cornbread, and he also loves real maple syrup so these Maple Corn Muffins are definitely on my list of recipes to make.



I tend to entertain a great deal at the holidays so snacks, dips, appetizers, etc. are a must. I also love anything Ranch dressing! This Cheesy Bacon Ranch dip is also on the list.


Corn pudding... yum. Here's a very easy recipe from Jiffy, which I found at Plenty Place blog, but the directions are more clear at Jiffy.


Not specifically Thanksgiving, but it is a very good way to eat green beans! Southern Style Green Beans.



Well, this isn't a recipe, but it brings back nice memories!




BTW - you can find me at Pinterest, just getting started there, as well as Facebook. Please like my pages. Thanks!

Deliciously yours,
Mrs. K

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Thanksgiving & What It Means To Me


I have noticed, in the communities I frequent, that there seems to be this backlash against Thanksgiving, similar to that of Columbus Day. Many people have become overly sensitive and beyond politically correct. I can't agree with them and I will enjoy my Thanksgiving. So... what does Thanksgiving mean to me? Well, many things, as i found when I really thought about it. From now until Thanksgiving I will share some of those things - memories, nostalgia, just good stuff.

I celebrate Thanksgiving with gratitude for all the year has given me... and that's the name of that tune! Others may feel differently and get angry and negative about things that happened hundreds of years ago, well, that's their right I suppose, but I'm not interested in hearing about it. As I said, I am all about giving thanks and being with people I love.

This year we will be doing something a little different than in years past. Instead of joining Mr. K's cousin, we are going to my very good friend, Diana's. We met over a year go and found we have SO much in common we couldn't help but become close friends. We are both the same age, we love all  things Victorian, we love the same books, we love needlework, antiques, and drinking tea! So... naturally when she invited us to join her family for Thanksgiving, we said yes, indeed! One can never go to Thanksgiving empty-handed, so I suggested I bring my squash carrot casserole and the suggestion was enthusiastically accepted.

Ah, squash carrot casserole, I just love this! I first found it in a book I mail-ordered in the early 1980s from Better Homes & Gardens - Better Homes and Gardens  American Christmas, Crafts and Foods. What a treasure of a book! So may wonderful country-style craft projects and recipes. It is a great pleasure to just browse through, which I do often at this time of year... and others when I need a little nostalgic boost.

The book is just brimming with projects, some which look a little dated, but so what! 

Some sections of pages have separated, but I keep it all together. 

You can see how well used this page used, not just the casserole, but
the creamed onions recipe was the first I used.

So this book is worn to bits, but I love it. There is a lovely Christmas sampler I would love to stitch, as well as one that says, East West, Home is Best! The book has many photos showing the crafts and craftspeople who made lovely things that were included, lots of projects and good instructions as well as wonderful art quilts.

Here is the recipe as I make it, a bit tweaked from the original, but not much.

Squash Carrot Casserole

7 cups yellow crookneck squash
A large sweet onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
 1 1/2 cups sliced carrots
1 can Campbell's Cream of Chicken soup (10.5 oz)
1 cup of regular sour cream
½ to ¾ quarters bag of herb-seasoned stuffing mix
(I use Pepperidge Farm and like plenty of crumbs on top)
½ cup real butter, melted
(or as much as you need for your crumbs)

Cook the carrots in a pot of salted, gently boiling water for 5 minutes then add the crookneck squash for another 5 minutes. Drain very well and set aside in a bowl lined with a cotton cloth. Sauté the onion in a little butter until translucent and just starting to brown. Toss in the chopped garlic for just a couple of minutes and remove from heat. You want that garlic barely cooked so it doesn't taste bitter.

Stir the cream of chicken soup and sour cream together, add all veggies and gently stir so the veggies are coated well with the soup/sour cream mix. Butter a baking dish - 12 x 7 x 2, then add the veggie mix and spread evenly in the dish. You can prepare the casserole to this point the day before and set it in the fridge to keep until ready. 

Preheat the oven to 350.  Place the casserole in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or so, just as it gets bubbly around the edges. While it bakes, melt the half cup of butter over medium low heat in a pot that will hold the crumbs and you will be able to mix easily. When the butter is completely melted, add crumbs, mix with a fork until those crumbs are well coated and softening up. Remove the casserole from the oven and sprinkle evenly with the crumbs, return to the oven for another 10 - 15 minutes, but keep an eye on it so the crumbs don't over-toast. The casserole should be boiling up a bit here and there when heated through.

Let the dish sit for 10 minutes, then serve and enjoy!

A very forgiving recipe, double or triple, it is very easy and really yummy.

(adapted from Better Homes and Gardens American Christmas, 1984) 

Deliciously yours,
Mrs. K




Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry, Merry!



A very Merry Christmas!

May you have plenty of love, happiness,
good health, and prosperity...
and anything else your sweet hearts desire!

Now off to make the lasagna!

Tangled in  lasagna noodles and the joy of the holiday,

Mrs. K.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Stitch For Christmas


Majestic Bird
Design by Sandra Sullivan, Homespun Elegance
Just CrossStitch 2013 Christmas Ornament issue

Working on a little stitch from Homespun Elegance. Will I keep it or give it away as a gift? Such is my dilemma. 

While Sandra's suggested linen is 30 count espresso from R & R Reproductions, I decided to use what I have on hand; it is either 28 or 32 count linen in sand, not sure about the count, but I love this linen, the color is very vintage-looking. I also decided to use DMC floss instead of over-dyed: DMC 500 for the green, and DMC 355 for the old red. Sandra suggested DMC 356, but it looked washed out on my linen and I love 355 for an old red. I am leaving off the word "Noel" under the linen in case the recipient, whomever that may be, wants to keep it out all year.


I found a very nice advent calendar this year at the local Fresh Market. Utterly Victorian and each little window opens to reveal a delicious little chocolate coin which Mr. K. and I share. Beneath the coin is a tiny image. I took this photo on December 1st. I have to have an advent calendar every year, but this is the first year in many that I obtained one with the chocolates. I take a bite and Mr. K. gets the other half. Yes, chocolate before breakfast!

The decorating is almost done, but the gift-making is in full swing. Time to put down my needle and head off into the arms of Morpheus! There is so much to do tomorrow.

Oh, by the way, the stone sitting pretty on my linen is called spiderweb jasper. Isn't it beautiful? And so appropriate for a stitcher.

Tangled in threads and stitching madly,
Mrs. K.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving & Happy Chanukah!

Chanukah 2011

Back to back holidays!!! Latkes last night and today the usual turkey, ham, prime rib, and trimmings. We'll be rolling around for days to come. Sunday is another latke night too.




To you and yours, the very best of holidays!
Happy Chanukah!
and 
Happy Thanksgiving!

Blessings for all the best,

Mr. & Mrs. K.




Monday, November 18, 2013

A Neat Off the Grid Tip and A New Mystery

So... happy November. I am busy making gifts for the holidays and just enjoying life - well, except for a major cold virus. It has hit our area and a lot of people have it. It seems to stick around 2 -4 weeks! I have been dealing with it for about 10 days. I am starting to feel better, but the cough is hanging around and the aches, hacks, sneezes, and mother of all headaches come and go. Lots of tea and soup, as well as naps are the cure.

In any event, I found this video and thought I would share. You just never know... off the grid or a zombie apocalypse, you may need to open a can without a can opener! I don't know what's up with this "thing" for zombies, not my cup of tea! I prefer vampires, witches, ghosts, and haunted, old houses.





Pretty darn neat! And easier than the hand cranking can openers! My poor hands don't like those anymore, I am considering an electric model and will keep the hand opener for power outages or zombie apocalypses! ; )

And speaking of vampires and ghosts, I just finished a cute, cozy mystery, Vampire Bones and Treacle Scones by Kaitlyn Dunnett. A cute small town, Moosetookalook, Halloween, a old abandoned house, and lots of strange goings on including murder and mayhem. I enjoyed it. Thanks Mom for passing it on to me.


Tangled in threads, murder, and tissues,
Mrs. K 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Happy October!



Autumn

The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry's cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.
The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I'll put a trinket on.

Emily Dickinson
(1830 - 1886)

Finally... October is here and all the wonderful feelings and things that go along with it. Apple cake and a crackling fire; making pomanders and Halloween crafts; and lots more lovely autumn goodies. I do love this time of year!

I am beginning a Halloween project, stitching what reminds me of an advent calendar, but for Halloween, by The Primitive Hare. I have a little design to stitch each day - 31 in total. They are small designs so I think I can do this and have each one completed at day's end. Of course there is the border, but I'll do what I can and enjoy it. The Primitive Hare has a blog here and an Etsy shop, where designs can be purchased (in PDF format - instant gratification!) here . I love this designer's work, it is a real favorite. She offers a few little freebie charts at her blog as well. Isn't this wonderful?!?!?! I shall post a few photos as I go.


Time for breakfast, a little cleaning, then an afternoon of stitching!

Deliciously yours and tangles in threads,
Mrs. K.

Monday, September 23, 2013

My Cannoli Cream Spread & How To Serve It!

I was browsing through Facebook and came across a recipe for Cannoli Dip posted by my cousin's wife. It is almost identical to mine except I use marscapone cheese instead of cream cheese. In addition, I add a couple of tablespoons of Marsala wine, or now and then, Strega Liqueur. YUM! So... I thought I would share, but no photos, don't think it has ever lasted long enough to photograph!

Mrs. K's Cannoli Cream Spread

2 cups ricotta cheese
8 oz marscapone cheese, softened
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp sweet Marsala wine or Strega Liqueur
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips or coarsely chopped semi-sweet chocolate
1 tsp each of cinnamon and instant espresso coffee

Blend the cheeses, vanilla, and wine until smooth, but don't overdo it. Gently and slowly blend in the confectioner's sugar - so as not to shoot it all over the kitchen, ; ). Fold in the chocolate. Allow to chill overnight to meld the flavors.

When ready to serve, bring to room temperature. Mix the cinnamon and espresso powder together and sprinkle over the cheese.

This spread can be served a number of ways. First, break up large cannoli shells into chip size pieces, or serve with a mildly sweet cookie, such as shortbread, Amaretti cookies, or vanilla wafers along with coffee, espresso, tea, or a nice liqueur. I've even served this on my ricotta cookies instead of glazing them. Spread on toast with jam or fruit butter; I love it with my apricot or plum butters!

To make a simple but special dessert, slice fresh peaches in half after rubbing off the fuzz. Place in a buttered glass baking dish and roast at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, until soft. Add a small scoop of the cannoli cream, dress with crushed amaretti cookies and the cinnamon/espresso powder - just a bit to taste. If peaches aren't in season, canned peach halves, drained, will do just fine. Roast for 15 minutes or so, until the edges get a bit brown. Or... simply use the peaches right from the can at room temperature. Canned pear halves are very good too.

I've also used pannetone, which I've sliced crosswise like cake layers, and spread this between. I pour a little honey mixed with the liqueur over the whole thing. Another yummy!

This is a versatile spread and the sky is pretty much the limit. Enjoy!

Deliciously yours,
Mrs. K.




Wednesday, September 11, 2013

It's Raining All The Best Heroes!

Found this fun video with clips of all the best heroes set to It's Raining Men. Enjoy!




Swooningly yours,
Mrs. K.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Loving September!

It's that time again, September! I love autumn even though I live in a place without much seasonal change; it is in my home that I make sure everything shouts autumn. I decorate with that theme in mind and I am cooking up our favorite fall recipes, like Fresh Apple Cake from my old Fanny Farmer Baking book, and Apple Cider Beef Stew.

Once again, it is time to make apple butter, so that's what I will be up to in the upcoming two weeks. My home will smell luscious. I also need to make more pomanders, another item on my agenda that will scent my home. I am heaping my fall pot pourri into my large pottery bowl, as well as some smaller bowls to scatter about the house. Fun, fun!!!



I found what looks like a luscious cookie recipe at this blog, Fill The Cookie Jar. Frosted Apple Oatmeal Cookies sounds yummy and very autumn; I'll be whipping up a batch later today. I also found a recipe for a quick pumpkin cake on Facebook. I don't generally use boxed cake mixes, but this sounds so quick and easy, and yummy too, I think I'll try it. Sounds like it could be whipped up while dinner is in the oven and baked while eating. You can find the recipe here, at Big Red Kitchen. There are plenty of comments with suggestions for variations on this recipe. I guess this goes on my agenda too.

Of course I'm stitching away on some Halloween designs, as well as a Goode Huswife design. I have a few more small Halloween designs I hope to get done in time for the holiday; if not, well there's next year!



I hope you're enjoying September where ever you are.

Deliciously tangled in threads and apple parings,
Mrs. K.



Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels Passes Away


So very, very sad to hear that Barbara Mertz, AKA Elizabeth Peters, AKA Barbara Michaels, passed away on August 8th. I cannot tell you the hours of pleasure she gave me as I lost myself in her books. I originally discovered her in my local library. Of course, my favorite character was Amelia Peabody. Crocodile On The Sandbank remains my favorite novel.

From CBS news:


Barbara Mertz, a best-selling mystery writer who wrote dozens of novels under two pen names, has died. She was 85.
Mertz died Thursday morning at her home, in Frederick, Md., her daughter Elizabeth told her publisher HarperCollins.
Mertz wrote more than 35 mysteries under the name Elizabeth Peters, including her most popular series about a daring Victorian archaeologist named Amelia Peabody. She also wrote 29 suspense novels under the pen name Barbara Michaels, and under her own name, she wrote nonfiction books about ancient Egypt.
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-207_162-57597647/mystery-writer-barbara-mertz-dies-at-85/
Farewell, Barbara, and good journey!
Mrs. K.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Pimento Cheese Spread and Kitchen Towel Swap

I was over at the Facebook page for Sweet Tea & Cindy, reading her recipe for Pimento Cheese. Well, I do love Pimento Cheese, it's one of my favorite things to eat on celery sticks, cucumber slices, or crackers. In the south, according to Cindy, they eat it on a sandwich! Yes, I will have to try that. She calls it the caviar of the south, LOL. I was born and raised in New York state, but have lived in South Florida for more years than I lived in NY. And while you can't take the New York out of this girl, I have picked up a love for all things southern. Naturally, pimento cheese is on that list.

Cindy has a great recipe -http://cindyeckhart.com/pimento-cheese-caviar-of-the-south-mamas-secret-ingredient/ - and a couple a gals commented, one adds cream cheese, another, sweet pickle relish. I had to do a bit of grocery shopping today, running through the raindrops, so I picked up what was needed and decided to make a batch last night - we should have enough to get through the weekend, but I'm not sure! Here's my tweaked version:

YUM!

Pimento Cheese


8 oz block of cream cheese, softened

3 cups of mild cheddar cheese, shredded (I used a package of Sargento pre-shredded)
1 cup mayonaise (I like Duke's)
1  7oz jar of pimentos, drained
3 spoonfuls of sweet pickle relish (I didn't use a measuring spoon, just a dessert spoon)
2 - 3 teaspoons of sugar (or to taste) - trust me, this is the secret ingredient.

I just used a whisk and blended the cream cheese and mayo together, then added all the other ingredients - except the sugar, I didn't think I would need it with the relish. I blended it all up and tasted. Hmmm... something was missing, must be the sugar, so I added that. Wow, that sugar, just as Cindy says, makes the flavor pop. 


This was so easy to to whip up, and tastes so, so good, I will never buy the pre-made again. Give it a try and let me know what you think.



*********

On another Facebook page, SB Canning, I participated in a kitchen towel swap. The idea was to send... yes, a nice kitchen towel. It was suggested that you might add a kitchen magnate and/or a recipe. I found a really cute 100% cotton towel with an image of a bunch of carrots on it, green tops and all, added a pretty, ceramic kitchen magnate that said, "Housework won't kill you, but why take a chance?", and threw in a recipe for my very favorite Fresh Apple Cake, which I make all the time. It is really very good: buttery, spicy, and packed with unpeeled apples. I have tweaked that recipe a bit too because Mr. K. doesn't like nuts or raisins, which the original recipe calls for. 


Years ago, 1984 to be exact, I belonged to one of those book clubs that were so popular; you know, you get ten books for a dollar and agree to buy half a dozen more over the next year. One of the first books I bought was "The Fanny Farmer Baking Book" by Marion Cunningham. I was only married a few years and was delving into baking. I cannot tell you how much I use this cookbook! Well, the Fresh Apple Cake recipe is in that book and I have been making it ever since. I figured it would be a nice recipe to include with my swap, so off it went.


The same day I sent it off, my package arrived, and what a delight it is. It included a pretty towel, small wind chimes with a wooden cardinal (my favorite bird) on top, a little spatula/scrapper, the cutest scrubby, two recipes - one for Texas Hash, the other for Pumpkin Bars, a little notebook in the shape of a handbag, I just love little notebook, two containers of tea, and... a really nice sized tea strainer with stars, moons, and suns on the rim. Marla G. was very generous and I am very grateful for all the goodies. 




*********

Before I hit the grocery store, I made a stop at my local needlework shop, Cross Stitch Cupboard, in Fort Lauderdale. The Halloween Ornament issue of Just Cross Stitch had arrived and I had reserved a copy. It is the best issue they have done so far, filled with 51 wonderful Halloween designs. There are ten, yes, TEN, designs I want to stitch. Luckily, most are smalls. By the way, the fabric that I laid my swap stash on is from the Cupboard too, Blackbird Designs - just had to have that. Oh well, I will make a pot of one of Marla's special tea blends, put on some lovely music, and take up my needle! Perhaps a few celery sticks packed with Pimento cheese on the side would not be amiss?


Just in case you would like to check out the Facebook pages I mentioned above, here are the links:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/SB-Canning/130750240327122 - everything about canning and preserving.
SB Canning's website:  http://www.sbcanning.com/
My needlework shop: crossstitchcupboard.com

Deliciously yours and tangled in threads,
Mrs. K.  








Monday, May 6, 2013

One Smart Kid

This little gal has made a video in response to an article written by Dr. Oz that conventionally grown food is just as healthy as local and organic food. He went so far as to say canned foods are a bargain food and just as nutritious.

I never watch Oz because he has always come off as an advocate for big agra and his health information is outdated. He states that eating real, organic, local food is "snobby" and "elitist! What??? Is he kidding? He supports the large food companies, with their CEOs who make more money in a year  than most of us will see in a lifetime, and calls budget-conscious people who support small farms part of the 1%?

Here's my note to Dr. Oz - stop drinking the Kool-Aid! You have, in my opinion, a serious conflict of interest in most of what you present. Studies funded by the Canned Food Association are going to tell people that those BPA lined lids are not good for you? That the pesticide-laden food one finds in those cans is safe? As Coral says.... puh-leeze!

Take a look for yourself and share, share, share. Let's see if we can get Dr. Oz to see this and respond!



Deliciously yours,
Mrs. K.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Food Companies to Avoid

Here is a list of food companies that donated considerable funds to prevent labeling of genetically modified food. You might want to show them how you feel about that by not buying their products. The list also shows companies we thought were OK, but it turns out they are just subsidiaries of larger companies:

Many of the products that seem so good are actually just subsidiaries of the companies that were most complicit in blocking GMO labeling, aided and abetted by everyone’s favorite purveyor of death, Monsanto. (Monsanto, incidentally, donated $7,100,500.00 to the fight against the labeling of GMO-containing products.) Don’t forget that Monsanto is now above the law due to the Monsanto Protection Act, a traitorous rider that Senator Roy Blunt managed to attach to a bill that was subsequently signed into law by President Obama. (you know, that guy in the White House, who made the labeling of GMOs one of his 2007 campaign promises?)

In addition, there is a list of the good guys. Here is the link for the complete article:

http://www.thedailysheeple.com/the-grocery-store-blacklist-12-food-companies-to-avoid-and-95-sneaky-aliases_042013


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring!


A Prayer in Spring 

OH, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
To which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends he will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.

Robert Frost

 

Happy Spring! I am trying to get into the season, another words - spring cleaning. I have decided to clear away things I've been saving - just in case; give away some books I have been holding on to, but will never read again; sort through the pantry, that sort of thing. I am also tending some new plants and creative endeavors, making lists, planning, organizing, and dreaming it will all get done. Well... we shall see!

Tangled in threads and flowers and dreams...
Mrs. K.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Sherlock, The Ripper, and Potato Peel Pie


Earlier today I finished "Dust and Shadows" by Lyndsay Faye, an excellent Sherlock Holmes pastiche. It is a story of Holmes and Watson chasing down Jack the Ripper. This is a very credible tale about the Ripper and who he could have been, as well as being an excellent story about Holmes, true to Conan Doyle's characters. I enjoyed it very much and recommend it to you if, like me, you are a bit of a Sherlockian, as well as have a morbid interest in old Jack.

We were having a very lazy Sunday, my dear husband watching television, lying in bed, and occasionally dozing, me in my chair reading my Nook (for a change from my Kindle) finishing Dust and Shadows. When I did finish, I browsed through some non-fiction that has my attention at this time, stitched a bit, and drank too much coffee for my belly's comfort. I went off and took a nap, contemplating what novel next to read.

Upon arising from my nap, feeling a bit worse for it, I browsed through my Nook and stumbled upon "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, a story about a writer who receives a letter from a member of said society just after World War II, about a book he has, formerly hers, and its author. During the war, Guernsey was occupied by the Nazis, which I never knew. It is told, so far, as I haven't finished it, in a series of letters. I know this novel was published in 2009, but I just never got around to reading it. I vaguely recall my mother recommending it to me. I must have thought about it because it has been there, in my Nook, for some time, but I did not look at it until today. And I must say, I am enchanted by it!!!


I am ambling through it, savoring all the stories the various characters have to tell, and becoming rather attached to them, well most. The letters are wonderful to read, the stories interesting, delightful, and sad. I am trying to go slowly, but of course I want to know what happens.

There are a few dishes in the sink, my empty and aromatic coffee cup sitting beside me tempting me despite my tummy, and my needlework hanging off the sofa, while I continue to read. As a side note, I am rather cold and will have to wrap myself up in an afghan while I sit here. The temperature has dropped in South Florida - tonight heading to the 40s!!! For those in the more northern climes, I am sure you are snickering, but my blood is thin from the constant heat. Even at this time of my life, perpetual hormonal summer, this is too cold. I did not venture out into the cold today and will remain, with my needlework and books, hidden in my lair, tomorrow as well!

Tangled in threads and words,
Mrs. K.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Roses


...I am distracted by beauty. Parked right in front of me is a teal vase containing a garden bouquet of twenty roses, a bright spectrum of colors: fuchsia, blue-red, talcy pink, peach, yellow-white (the Swan), purple-and-white stripe (Purple Tiger), orangey-cream tinged with pink (Abraham Darby), and a hot pink that verges on red (Leonardo da Vinci). They all have names, of course, such as Intrigue, Autumn Sunset, Lasting Peace, and Fame. Some open simply, others are densely ruffled. Some roses seem to be tumbling from the squat round vase, tumbling yet stopped in midair. Others are braced by the lip of the vase, chins resting. Most are fanned out at different angles. But for the green foliage giving them a context and weave, they would seem to be floating on clouds or a rose iceberg of different hues. The whole effect is beautiful enough to make one cry out, not in pain but in beauty. Wow!

         -  from "Cultivating Delight, A Natural History of My Garden" by Diane Ackerman 

The language of roses: 
love, grace, purity, charm, simplicity.


Rose Petal Tea

2 teaspoonfuls of fine black tea
1 teaspoonful dried, organic rose petals
2 cups boiling water

Pour the water over the tea and flowers, steep 5 minutes.
Strain and enjoy with honey and cream.


Wandering through gardens in books,
Mrs. K


           

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Books, Books, and More Books!

Well, I just blew through that Regency Romance challenge in a bit more than a week; read 6 books and enjoyed every minute! Didn't get much else done around the house and drank pots of tea! It's all good.

I have one of those big chairs, called a chair and a half. We call it the Queen's chair - the queen being me, of course. On one side is my Ott floor lamp and an antique contraption that holds my stitching. I would post a photo of it, but it is a real mess with fabric and threads piled high and spilling over the sides. It is quite an interesting piece which I stole purchased with a mess of old sewing items. I'll just have to wait until I sort it out and share it with you. On the other side of the chair is one of our bookshelves - well, my bookshelf. There is one shelf of ancient history and the rest are gardening, flower lore, herbs, field guides, etc. I love to reach over and grab a book to browse through, it is truly a pleasure. Here are a few favorites.

Probably my most favorite little garden book with the sweetest illustrations.

So interesting, I love this one too. It has so much history and wonderful illustrations and photos.

Plenty of Victorian ephemera in this one.

I love the Brother Cadfael mysteries and have a very large collection, just about all of them, so when this was published, I grabbed it. A beautiful book.

If a garden or plant was painted or used in poetry, novels, etc. it is likely here.

This is from 1936, a little collectable scrapbook issued by W. D. and H. O. Wills cigarettes, a branch of the Imperial Tobacco Company of Great Britain and Ireland. I guess when you bought a pack of their cigarettes, it came with a little card with a botanical illustration. The cards were glued in where appropriate, the name of the plant and information about said plant below the little box where the card was to be placed. Here are a couple of photos of the inside. My copy has all the cards.


Diane Ackerman is a favorite writer, her prose is just beautiful. This book was one I just took my time with, I didn't want to finish it. It is such a delicious journey through a year in her garden. If you've never read it and love a garden, nature, the outdoors, I highly recommend it. I've probably read it several times.

One portion of a shelf with some old flower and garden books, as well as a couple of pieces of Fulgurite. Do you know what Fulgurite is? Just in case you don't, it is sand that has been struck by lightening. That traumatic event fuses the sand into these wonderfully interesting looking tubes, smooth as glass on the inside and rough on the outside.

So there we are, some books I love. I hope you enjoyed this mini tour of my bookshelf.

 From Sarah Midda's In and Out of the Garden.

Dreaming of gardens and flowers, tea and radishes with bread and butter,
Mrs. K.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Regency Romance Reading Challenge 2013


Good grief, here it is, the 24th of January, and I haven't checked in since the New Year. I have been very busy with various projects, including searching for the Adventure of the Christmas Pudding. This adventure was written by me many years ago, before personal computers, and is typed on a couple of sheets of paper, in a file somewhere. It is a humorous, if I do say so myself, account of my first attempt at making a traditional Christmas pudding. I wanted to share it here over the holidays, but alas, it will have to wait for next year.

Alas? Yes, alas! As you can see I am jumping right back to the Regency as I am prone to do when immersing myself in that period or rereading Jane Austen. One of the JA blogs, Austenprose is sponsoring a reading challenge featuring the work of Candice Hern. Although I have not read Candice's work, according to reviews she writes in the style of Georgette Heyer. I adore Georgette Heyer's novels and so I've decided to jump right in. 

The challenge is to read a number of Candice's novels between now and September 30, 2013. One to two novels and short stories bestows upon one the title of Neophyte, three to five - Disciple, and six to nine novels and short stories, Aficionado. There are prizes to be awarded and the sharing of reviews which each participant will be posting to their respective blogs.

So... I begin my quest with "Miss Lacey's Last Fling." It looks to be an amusing read. Review to come. If you are a lover of the Regency romance genre, why not join in? Click on "Austenprose" above which will take you to the page with all the information. 

Wading through scattered pages, books, and threads,
Mrs. K.