Monday, December 29, 2014

Squirrels

I am guilty of having a very busy Christmas season and I am so sorry for not posting regularly. Now that we are on the downswing, I 'll be plenty more consistent with my posts.

On that note, I found, in my email inbox this morning, a question from a friend posed like so, "Do you know?" Below is the question:


I first read it with a chuckle. Who would think to query this? And then I read it again with curiosity. And said, "Yeah! Why and how?" In my search for answers, I found that squirrels were not only a subject of note in British 18th Century paintings but also in American 18th Century paintings and French 16th Century paintings and in fact throughout several centuries and countries.

It seems the squirrel was a popular pet. And in fact, their keepers loved them so much that this pet consistently evoked poetry:

From The Virginia Gazette, December 15, 1768
A Young Lady's Complaint on the Death of her Squirrel.

A thing so pretty as my PHIL,
A thing so sprightly and so queer,
The pet I lov'd so very dear,
To rob me of the pretty elf,

For him I've lost each night's repose,
Nothing enjoying but my woes.
Oh could my squirrel but survive,

But he is gone ! ne'er to return!
And useless 'tie to sigh and mourn.
I'll therefore seek another pet ,

Amongst the fops or empty beaus,
Because he'd surely make me fret,
And prove a very worthless pet.


And the paintings:

1760 John Singleton Copley (American artist, 1738-1815). Boy (Henry Pelham) with a Squirrel.

1765 John Singleton Copley (American artist, 1738-1815). Frances Deering Wentworth (Mrs. Theodore Atkinson, Jr.)


1790 Denison Limner Probably Joseph Steward (American artist, 1753-1822). Miss Denison of Stonington, Connecticut possibly Matilda.

1526 Hans Holbein the Younger (1498–1543) Lady with a Squirrel on a chain.
1580's Portrait of a Lady, possibly the Poet Maddalena Salvetti (1557-1610), in a Green Dress and a pet Black Squirrel with a bell collar.


1600's Frederic Kerseboom (1632-1690) Lady with a Red Squirrel on a Chain and a Spaniel

1700's Joseph Highmore (English artist, 1692-1780) A Portrait of a Boy with a Pet Squirrel.

1730 Unknown French artist, Portrait of an Unknown French Lady Holding Flowers and a Red Squirrel with a bell collar.
I attained these renderings of these portraits from 18C American Women. For more explanations and interesting meanderings, please go visit Barbara. She has several other blogs as well, all worth a visit, including her biggest collection, "It's About Time."

Did I, however, get the answers to the how and why? No. I did not. If anyone knows, please enlighten me!



Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Domestic Sluttery

This holiday season has given me the busies. I have been overwhelmed with things I have (truth be told) done to myself. I have completed two rounds of baking, gotten all the shopping done, designed and sent the Christmas cards and sent all of the kids gifts too. I have made gingerbread (I am a connoisseur) and I have made baking boxes for the grandparents which included Alfajores, Hermits, Fig Thumbprints, Peppermint White Chocolate Fudge and the tried and true Chocolate Chip Cookies.

But I saved the best for last. My friend Clare sent me an extraordinary book irreverently titled Domestic Sluttery. And since I am indeed a domestic ho, I thought she chose a perfect tome to share with me. Not coincidentally there was a wicked cookie recipe in this book called "Sunny Honey Cookies." I immediately went to work slutting out in the kitchen to make a batch of these chewy, honey tinged delights.

Sunny Honey Cookies

Ingredients:


12 Tbs butter

2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey (If it is too stiff, warm it in the microwave for 5 seconds).
1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup almond meal flour 
Zest of 1 orange
1 cup currants

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
Beat in honey.
Sift in flour and baking soda.
Stir in Almond flour and Orange zest.
Roll dough into 1 inch balls them on a baking sheet lined with parchment roughly 2 inches apart.
Squash each ball gently with your fingers so they form rounds.
Bake for 12-15 minutes.
They should be brown at the edges when they are done.
Remove from oven and let cool completely.
Eat with some gentle Lady Grey tea.







Monday, December 8, 2014

Winter Whites

It's the season for Winter Whites. Here are some beautiful things for you!

Dreamy Whites
That basket and those pillows!
A French milk bucket makes a charming Christmas Tree display.
The styling here is magnificent and that tree sits in such a sweet crate.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

My friend Meaghan shared with me this extraordinary Thanksgiving feast.

It must've been a great party!

I wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving.

What are you thankful for?

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Pumpkin Coconut Quinoa

So it's that time of year when anything pumpkin sounds really tasty.
I mean, I love a pumpkin muffin or scone. I really like pumpkin risotto and Fettucine ai Zucca et Zenzero (Pasta with Pumpkin and Ginger - I'll post this recipe soon because it is unimaginably yummy). All those things however are super rich in carbs and in calories. This quinoa recipe is, on the other hand, rich in flavor but also rich in protein and taste without all the guilt. Plus, it's super easy to prepare and it can be served warm or cold. So if you like winter squash and you like coconut, then you'll love this hearty side dish. I'm dedicating this vegan recipe to Thug Kitchen!


Pumpkin Coconut Quinoa

Ingredients:
1 small, chopped, cooked sugar pumpkin
1 Cup Quinoa (rinse it first)
1 medium beet root
1/2 cup Edemame - shelled
1 Tbs. coconut oil
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 bunch chives, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Cut the little pumpkin in half, clean out the seeds (reserve them) and bake the snot out of the pumpkin until it's tender - about 1 hour at 400 degrees. Let it cool and chop it into bite sized pieces.
  2. Rinse the Quinoa and cook in 2 cups water or vegetable broth for about 20 minutes.
  3. Boil the beet root for about 45 minutes until tender, peel it and chop it into cubes.
  4. When the Quinoa is done cooking (it should have absorbed all or most of the liquid) take off the heat and transfer into a large bowl. 
  5. Add coconut oil and stir well.
  6. Add all the remaining ingredients and season well.
  7. It is great served with a pork roast or all by itself for lunch.





Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Bone Season

I'm and avid reader and always have been.
My friends and family are the same. In fact, some of my closest friends are my book club ladies. Some of the best books I have read (*future post about my faves) are because of these spectacular women. And my sister has often clued me in on the best novels (I never would've have read the Potter series if it wasn't for her).
But every once in a while I choose a book for myself that is "knock your socks off" magnificent.
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon is one such book. In fact, it is actually a series of books and the second one, The Mime Order, will debut on January 27th 2015 here in the States. (Sqeee)!
It has been compared to the Potter Series though this is not Young Adult. It has also been compared to The Hunger Games series. But it is neither; The Bone Season has it's own special darkness and it's own satisfying hope that the other two series simply do not possess. Read it. You won't be sorry.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Cozy Autumn Cocktails

Cardamom Hot Toddy
The smell of fallen leaves, a fire in the hearth, the scents of apples and pie crust, a slow cooked roast...These are the things that let us know that Autumn is edging ever closer to Winter. During these darkening months, comfort often comes in ways that are different than the ways we achieve comfort in, say, Spring or Summer.

One of the ways I feel soothed in the Autumn is by the occasional after work cocktail. My favorite drinks to get while I'm out at this time of year are The Whiskey Fig at the Pour House and The Drunken Butterfly at the Shady Lady Saloon. But in an effort to save money it's always fun and frugal to create our own adult beverages at home.

These are some goodies I have found!

The Jonathan Chapman Cocktail: I call it Spiked Cider. I really like Food Republic.
Nutella Melt with Frangelico from "Winter Cocktails": More a dessert than a beverage.
Boozy Pumpkin White Hot Chocolate
Pomegranate Vanilla Sangria
Pear and Ginger Sage Sipper

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Best of Mood Boards and Collage

Loretta at Creatively Driven: My inspiration for this post.
Regina says I should know some HTML (#17) to have a successful blog and be a serious blogger. I tend to agree with her; she is an uber expert. I think that because I have a lifestyle blog. In addition to knowing just a tiny bit of code, it would behoove me to also know Photoshop in order to create mood boards like the ones here. As in poetry, a mood board (or color board as some would call them) captures feelings, textures, ambiance and indeed feelings that cannot be expressed by words alone. Don't get me wrong; you know I fancy myself a poet and I love the written word, but I love a picture too; it is said, "A picture is worth a thousand words." Now if only I could muster the time and commitment to take a Photoshop class.

Here is a collection of some pretty boards I've recently found while scouring around this playground.

Brianna Rose: Her style is impeccable.


Colleen at Inspired to Share: Her spirit is captivating as you can see in her imagery here.


All of these items are sold on Etsy. This warm board was curated by Sofia Budman.. She is someone I follow on Pinterest and she hails from Tel Aviv, Isreal.


Sara at Salted Ink is amazing. Her style is fresh; her branding sensational.


This was arranged by Kayla Kits at HGTV's Blog: the concept of bubbles is refreshing. I love her addition of the illustrated Kitty.


And finally...
Something Calm at Swooned for the last selection. It was created by Lauren Kathryn. I like the diamond elements.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Fall: It's Decorative Gourd Season

By the way, it really is Decorative Gourd Season and we love McSweeney's!

On that note, ever made Roasted Pumpkin Seeds?

While it's not Halloween anymore, we are in the throws of the Autumn Season. That means pumpkin cookies, pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie. I still love to clean out the inerts of a pumpkin - not just for the puree that is needed for all the pumpkin goodies but for the roasted seeds especially.

The following recipe is very easy but you must keep an eye on these guys or they'll burn to crisp.


Ingredients:

The seeds of one large pumpkin (put under the faucet in a strainer to remove all the pumpkin pulp)
2 Tbs Butter, melted
1 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp. garlic salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste (I like to use Trader Joe's Flower Pepper for these).

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Pat dry the seeds between two clean dish cloths or paper towels.
In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients.
Stir well to coat all seeds with the seasonings and oils. (Fat is used in cooking because it carries flavor)!
Place the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet.
Put in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
Check the seeds about 5 minutes in and shake the pan around.
Lower the temperature of the oven to 300 and roast for another 15 minutes. You may hear some popping. When you do, go and shake the pan...
When the seeds are the color of brown you like, remove them from the oven and let them cool.
Transfer to a pretty bowl and serve.








Friday, October 31, 2014

The Human Marvels

Every year the husband and I throw a big Halloween Event. This year, in an effort to move away from my usual vampire theme, I decided to do "Freak Show" as a nod to Geek Love, A book I read this year and absolutely loved. You saw the invitations. In doing research for this party I became fascinated with the side show and with the glossary attached. The advent and history of the physically unusual accepting money for people to gawk upon their malformations has become somewhat of a little past time for me and a great addition to my abundant admiration of the macabre.

Happy Halloween! 
Enjoy "The Human Marvels" and this outstanding website called Montrous.

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ghoulish, Dreadful, Macabre and Gruesome


It seems we try so hard to come off with really creepy, intense Halloween costumes and while sometimes we, as modern folk,s pull out all the stops and succeed, it turns out nothing is scarier than the Halloween costumes from early in the last century. This imagery is from all around the web and was compiled last year by Faux Magazine.