Friday, December 1, 2017


If you had an opportunity to buy a 1939 edition of the Nouveau Petit Larousse Illustre, of course you'd jump at it, right?

I know I did.  I don't know why, exactly, because my grasp of French is sketchy at best.  But dictionaries are always fun and illustrated dictionaries are even better.  This one sits quietly on my shelf of reference books until I need a little something to liven up a rainy evening.

And so, the word for today is Isba.

(And isn't the end paper design lovely?)

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Awfully cute for a space alien

This is Sempervivum arachnoideum subs. tomentosum, but it answers to "Wooly Cobweb Houseleek."  I saw these in a garden in Maine over twenty years ago and always wanted one.  This one came from Joy Creek Nursery, a place I've been meaning to visit for more years than I care to admit.

I had the loveliest visit.  I was the first customer of the day, and there was fresh coffee and a home-made chocolate chip cookie to see me through my perambulations through the plant tables and the twenty-five year garden, which was just wonderful and gave me all kinds of ideas.

Along with the the space alien, I came away with Daphne, Michaelmas daisies in four colors, a white
clematis, and three kinds of fuschias.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Raven Has an Idea

This little raven and this sand dollar have been together in my curio cabinet for years and years and years, but it wasn't until this morning that I saw that Raven has just now had the idea to steal the moon.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

When running away to join the circus isn't an option

At the beginning of the month I had a few days off, so I did what I almost always do when that happens - I sewed something.  I like to sew, and this year I've started an effort to draw down the stash of fabric I've accumulated over the years, so there is no excuse too small for me to start a sewing project.

Years ago I got a wonderful deal on twelve yards of lovely Three Cats fabric.  Well, "lovely" may be in the eye of the beholder.  While I love the indigo blue and the hand of this 36" wide fabric, I'm not sure that I'd ever wear big white polka dots outside the house.

So I made an apron, using an antique sewing pattern from my collection.  I finished it just a few days before the eclipse, and while I didn't wear it on the day, it will be my memento of the eclipse of August 2017.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

My dear, these are my gardening pearls

Used by permission of the National Portrait Gallery
I would like to introduce you to Nellie Samuels Levy Ionides.   An heiress to the Shell Oil fortune, she was an expert on Chinese porcelain and a hostess known for her excellent parties, gossip, and, I suspect, a rather sly sense of humor.

The story about her that I most cherish is found in Hilary Spurling's biography of Ivy Compton-Burnett. When someone visiting Nellie in her garden at Buxted Park admired her pearls, she is supposed to have said "My dear, these are my gardening pearls." (1)

And why not?  If my rose bushes are going to get all dressed up, it seems only polite to return the courtesy.  As my budget doesn't run to real pearls, I make my own pearl necklaces with Swarovski's very nice glass pearls. For today, I decided on a fairly chunky look to go with my polo shirt and Carhartt double-front jeans.

Kind of uncanny how much Mrs. Ionides and I look alike, don't you think?

(1)Hilary Spurling, Ivy - The Life of I. Compton-Burnett by Hilary Spurling (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1984),  310.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Twelve Egg Whites Later

My favorite recipe for ice-cream requires six egg yolks, and my housekeeper's sense of thriftiness requires that I save the whites.  Fortunately, egg whites freeze well.  I took advantage of a cool morning today to use up a dozen egg whites by making 12 little white cakes and one larger cake called a Princess Cake, which is essentially a white pound cake.

All tidily packed away in the deep freeze.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


When I was very young, lace was that decorative stuff one had on one's party clothes and sometimes on petticoats.  It was awfully pretty, even if it could be a little scratchy.

When I was very young, one of the very first flowers I was taught to name was Queen Anne's Lace.  Queen Anne was nobody I knew, so that part didn't matter, but I was enchanted that lace could be both a dress trimming and a flower.

I still am.  Opinions and enthusiasms formed early in life can be remarkably durable.  Which Queen Anne has the honor of the flower named after her is apparently open to debate.  It still doesn't matter to me.

Although considered a weed, I always allow a few plants of Queen Anne's Lace into my flower beds.  In this area we have a local mutation that has a distinct pink cast to the umbels, as the little "flowers" are more properly known.  Once fully open, the pink umbels fade to near white, but are still a slightly different white than the non-pink variety.