Saturday, December 19, 2015

Time to get out the silver polish

 I still haven't finished polishing my vintage silver-plated flatware set I scooped up last year from an estate sale. Yes, last year. But I've been too busy to blog about it. Too busy to blog; too busy to polish silver. There has to be something amiss with my time management skills. But I really want to use it this Christmas, so I'll make one more attempt.



The whole glorious set (a 12-place setting). I can't tell you what I paid for it, because I'm embarrassed. Honestly I should have offered the guy more (he named the price, which is what keeps my conscience clear). And he has the internet too. It's not my fault if he doesn't care to google stuff.  (In fact, I did not know the set's value before I bought it, but only after I got home. So that helps keep me from feeling guilty too.)

The box geeks me out… so Midmod! 

Awesome Italian-made silver salad tongs (bottom) were not part of the Rogers Bros set, but they were included in my haul. Bonus! 

So were these adorable 1960s chrome Made in England jam/relish ladles.

Dyslexia, much?

Was Christmas shopping for a certain man (who doesn't read this blog, so it's ok), and when I saw this, I thought, "DENIAL? Really??" (I didn't buy it, BTW). Memo to self: wear your reading glasses when you shop.  

Friday, December 18, 2015

Architects who totally get it.

Or got it, as the case may be. Past tense, unfortunately.

 Mr. P hopes to retire within the decade, so he's studying up on the economics of it all: attending seminars, reading articles in newspapers, magazines and online. And I'm building my dream retirement home in the clouds…and googling antique home plans.  (Say what you will about First World Problems, you DO realize that it's a kind of Purgatory for someone who's been mildly obsessed with architecture since the age of 8 to end up living in home designed in the 1970s. With glittery doorknobs.)

Very interesting: most of these homes are small by today's McMansion standards, yet they have 4-6 bedrooms. This was because in the olden days, couples had "children" instead of stuff.  I get a kick out of the homes that have front stairs, back stairs and a servant's room.

How great is the inclusion of a sewing room? 

I could probably forego one of those six bedrooms in order to get a Master bath and walk-in closet

One of the funniest things about these vintage plans is the commentary: 

"To know the value of right environment is one of the first steps in the mastery of self. It is impossible for anyone to think his best thoughts or do his best work when his home life is not in keeping with his ideals. Those who firmly fix their hearts on The Carolina for a home may be assured of the refining influence which its possession will bring."

Which explains at last why I've been unable for the last 50 years to think my best thoughts: my home life has never been in keeping with my ideals.

Then this:

"The feeling of aloneness is almost entirely unknown in small, comfortable homes like The Dover. Mental depression comes, as a rule, from tired nerves and unsightly surroundings. In the small home which has been provided with an abundance of light, life is more cheerful and housekeeping is a pleasure, provided the husband daily expresses his appreciation."

Finally, confirmation of what I always suspected: men are responsible for women's depression because: a) He hasn't given her a cute character home to live in; b) he doesn't daily express his appreciation for her housekeeping.

Oh rats. It's not all up to the men after all…

"Men change only as their environment and associates change. A good home and a good wife will enable any man to become stronger and more efficient. Any man is worthy of the highest trust who saves from his earnings sufficent to build The Englewood, and whose life companion is in sympathy with him and his work."


"The woman who knows that the surest way to a man's heart is through his sense of taste, and that sympathy and appreciation will lead him over mountains while criticism causes him to balk stubbornly on a level, can make any home an influence for permanent good whether it is of The Fulton style of architecture or a more humble cottage."

And it doesn't stop there. Health benefits… of sun (and by extension, home plans that have well… windows):
"Sunshine is to the physical body what joy is to the heart. Those frail of body should seek the sun porches of homes of The Kendall plan, and those frail of heart can find inimitable balm in the building and making complete a new home and a new environment. Health and home joy come to those who prepare expectantly for them."

You said a mouthful, brother!!

Six fireplaces, yes! (That's a lot of wood chopping, and ash-scooping, Mr. P) But oh, the benefits to the little woman!

The hearth that glows with good fellowship warms chilly hearts and drives out the dampness of discord and disappointments. Such hearths are guarded constantly by women who worship sacred home ideals, and who turn a deaf ear to the voice of gossip. The Haverhill will make an ideal home for those who yearn for better conditions in which to demonstrate the power of right thought."

Ha ha! It's not just a home brochure: it's social engineering!

When a normal woman comes to herself at the age of twenty, twenty-two, or twenty-four, according to her physical and mental growth, she realizes that her highest ambition is for a home of her own, affection and children, but her happiness is never complete until the love and home she wins is hers by all equitable and legal rights."


A child seldom becomes a burden on society whose home life has been one of happiness and contentment. The home is the localized center from which initial impulses for good or evil go out. Those who select The Rochester as a home in which to purify the environment for their children may well pay the debt to humanity which all of us owe.

If only we still had 1920s prices, when you could build one of these homes for under $5,000.

Friday, December 11, 2015

And it's not even camping season

When it comes to clever kitchen gadgets, I think I have now "seen it all." Found these while browsing the Bed, Bath and Beyond website while making my Christmas wish list. Collapsible silicone kettles. Says they are compatible with gas stovetop, so supposedly I could use these in my trailer. Too cute!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

At least the colour is improved, and other things are too.

Smoothies, continued. This time, rosy red-crabapple butter and berries masked the swiss chard. 

And the taste was good too. But not as good as this: 

Yes, daughters! I must sheepishly admit that I consumed my Christmas 2014 mulled wine gift only this past month. But really, who drinks mulled wine in Lent, Easter, or summertime? I pretty much had to wait for another winter. And it was worth the wait. 

Diet-wise, the first week of December did not feel exactly great. There were too many treats and lapses, and the schedule was too crazy. And yet last week, I managed my first treadmill run in ages: did a modest 2.5 km (yes, Imperial friends, I know that's a mere 1.55342798 miles, but who's keeping track?). Most surprising of all, the bathroom scale was my friend this week. It was only 1.8 lb down (from Dec 1), and yeah, it was probably all water, but down is down. It's encouraging.

But another week of Advent is nearly gone, and I'm starting to feel a bit frazzled: a sure indication that I need to force myself to slow down and spend more time in prayer.

Blingy Knobs and other Glittery "Delights"

Mrs. Beazly just sent me some rather shocking news: my glam 1970s doorknobs are actually designer doorknobs. We always knew they were "special" (in a horrifying kind of way), but I'm amazed that this person is willing to go on record as having created them. (Blurns, I hope you realize how privileged you are for having been gifted with one of these, even if it was a small one.) Yikes, are people really willing to pay to put these in their homes? Call me; I'm willing to negotiate.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Killer headlines don't come along every day

So when they do, you have to post them. Not only are they funny, but they are also an efficient way to get the news, since they make actually reading the story entirely superfluous. Utah Paperboy Headbutted, Tackled and Trapped in Tree by Goat Named Voldemort.
Thanks to Miss P #5 who sent this to me.

Cooking Your Goose

Literally and figuratively. I am making my Christmas wish list for the kids (sorry I'm so late with this, gals!), and came across this baby. These pots are simply beautiful, but OUCH! At $650, that would blow my Christmas budget (like, for the whole family), perhaps for several years. And that's ON SALE: on, they're listed 'regularly' at $750 (red) and $860 (blue). On this site, $930. Oh dear.
Here is a link to a video of a chef cooking a goose in this product: photos of the pots alone really don't indicate much (unless you provide reference, as this person has done):

Some lucky cook's assortment of Le Creuset pots.
From left to right: 8 qt, 15.5 qt (goose), 5.5 qt.

Watching the video was totally not a waste of time for me, because (THANK YOU, MICHAEL RUHLMAN!!) I have now been liberated from the angst of presenting lovely cuts of poultry meat to my guests: he just chops up EVERYTHING except the breast. I also learned how to keep the poultry meat hot AND moist while hubby is carving (am I the only cook who stresses about the turkey meat not being hot enough when you serve it? And the only cook who's dumb enough not to have figured out Mr. Ruhlman's brilliant yet painfully simple method by this point in my life?) He keeps the cut up meat in a shallow covered pan of hot stock. So much more sensible than putting it on a cold platter. I am now actually looking forward to cooking the turkey this year! Though I do realize I will never, ever own cookware made by Le Creuset. (And no, daughters, that is not a self-pitying passive aggressive hint. The stuff is just. Too. Expensive.)

Sunday, December 6, 2015

A vastly underappreciated hymn

I have loved this Christmas song ever since I first heard it on The Bishop's Wife, but in vain did I struggle to know more about it. In those days, there was no internet, and I could not find out who wrote it, or what it was called, or anything. I even thought it might be an original piece that had been written for the film.

Thanks to Google and YouTube (and eventually iTunes), not only did I find out about it, but I purchased a version of it (but not, alas, the one below). The hymn/anthem is a 19th century piece: the English title is "O Sing to God" and the words were written by Rev. Benjamin Webb. The music (original Title: "Noël: Montez à Dieu") was composed by Charles François Gounod (yes, the Ave Maria guy). I found this information, and much more, at this site, The Hymns and Carols of Christmas.

The thing that makes me really really sad is that there are SO FEW recordings of this hymn! (You know you are truly desperate when you resort to listening to a scratchy 1916 recording on YouTube.) I cannot  fathom why some of those great choirs kicking around (King's College, Cambridge, I'm looking at you) have not recorded this piece on any of their Christmas albums. If I'm wrong, please let me know! I've searched high and low online but I can't find any professionally recorded choral renditions. The version I purchased was by French Canadian tenor Richard Verreau, which is simply lovely (indeed, the entire album, Un Grand Noel Classique is sublime).

I would love to find a CD or mp3 file of a good children's/boys (or any!) choir singing this piece--the few versions on YouTube are mostly amateur, and leave much to be desired for audio quality. As does the clip from the Cary Grant movie below, delightful though it certainly is.

This arrangement is original to the film, as they do a bit of juggling and omitting with the original lyrics, but it's still extremely beautiful, and gives me shivers every single time I hear it. Enjoy.

The Robert Mitchell Boys Choir appeared in other films as well.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Well there goes my Advent resolution… (diet update and such)

Not the author. (How I wish!)
One of my Advent resolutions (besides overcoming procrastination--which is why I'm making resolutions in Advent and not waiting till the New Year) was an intention to post on this blog every day. Contrary to what our overwhelming number of Followers might lead one to believe, I know for a fact that at least 3 or 4 people actually read this blog on a regular basis. (I'm trying to tell you how Very Special you are, because I'm willing to make the effort just for you!)

Yeah, I'm trying to post daily during the busiest Mom-season of the year (are there any seasons that aren't busy? I think not). Anyway, the last week was crazy and I'm sure it will only get more so as December ticks on. But for the first time in many years, I've already completed a good chunk of my Christmas shopping, which is kind of miraculous in itself. Maybe this year, I'll even get the gifts wrapped before 5:00 pm on Christmas Eve.

On the minus side, being away from home (and staying in the big city) for the better part of two days meant two things: special treats and restaurant meals, both of which have done no favours for my new diet. But I am not discouraged! That's the important part. (Catholics become practiced at that perseverance thing, because… sin…confession…firm purpose of amendment… sin…confession…lather, rinse and repeat). Despite falling off the healthy-eating wagon a few times in the last three days, I have been exercising every day since I started this (and YES, slogging through malls for hours on end counts! Especially if you're carrying heavy shopping bags).

Here is a fast fitness tip that I'll bet a lot of people, especially middle aged moms, don't know. If you sit on an exercise ball every day to put on your socks and shoes, in a year's time (probably less, like 6 months), you will have core muscles that you did not even know existed. I've been doing this for a long time (years), and I literally have 6-pack abs. Unfortunately, due to bad habits, genetics, and bad habits, they are currently hidden under an 8-pack of raw bun dough. (No, not gonna post pictures. There are enough of those online).

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Please clarify what you mean by "quite easy"

Image from
Perhaps I need one of these rolling pins. 

I made homemade lasagna noodles the other night. Why, you many ask? Because like a dunce, I prepped EVERYTHING for all the layers of lasagna (and, as Mr. Collins would say, 'There are several') before I realized that I had no noodles in the house. Driving 90 miles (round trip) to the nearest open grocery store (and postponing dinner till 10:00 pm) wasn't an option. Having made homemade pasta before, I thought, "How hard can this be?" and googled a recipe. The result was so un-pretty, I did not dare post pictures.

I followed this recipe (can I be blamed for being attracted to a site called "Italian Food Forever"?), which was advertised as "quite easy." However, my unhappy mixture was so dry that I had to add some of the egg white, just to get it to resemble dough. I was skeptical that it would roll out, but after letting it rest for half an hour, it did roll--but only with great difficulty (and a slight wrist injury). If I were on Twitter, which I am not, I would probably start a hashtag #HelloPastaMachinesWereInventedForAReason.
Anyhow, the noodles turned out nicely, and cooked up well in the lasagna. (I did not boil them beforehand: what a waste of time!) And they tasted very good. I am now brave enough to try making more homemade noodles and pastas. Next time, I'm going to try this recipe (billed as "Super Easy") because she uses whole eggs--and a stand mixer. (Don't bother watching the video; there are too many time-lapses, where stuff gets done behind the scenes. Thus, although she says she's going to "show" us how to make the noodles, she actually doesn't. But she is very pretty and has way more followers than I do, so who am I to criticize?) If those lasagna noodles turn out, I will post pictures.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

If you can get beyond that whole 'Drinking Baby Poop' thing...

Use the same approach as tighrope walking: don't look down. 

Make a change for better health and drink more green smoothies! Granted, I did put in too much spinach this time, but it was in danger of spoiling and I didn't want to waste it. I also put in some homemade Mongolian Cherry juice for colour (and antioxidants) but it just couldn't overtake the spinach. It did taste much better than it looked.

After falling off the Healthy Lifestyle wagon repeatedly over the last few weeks months decade, I'm Starting Over (again). So today it's "Day 1" (for the 20th time) of my John the Baptist Diet. Yeah, it's kind of insanely optimistic to start a new health-program in Advent, but if I don't, I literally won't have anything to wear to church at Christmas, except my bathrobe. 

I'm also trying to get more exercise (that shouldn't be too difficult, since when you're doing "zero" there's nowhere to go but up), and if I post about it here, it should keep me somewhat accountable. Today I did about 20 minutes of cardio on my rebounder. 

Stay posted for further elaboration. 


Mine is cheap and doesn't fold. I think I'd like to get a better one someday.