a gardener in winter

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Part of my winter reading selections.

One of my neighbors was laughing at me yesterday.  He drove down the street saw me outside with my hands on my hips staring at my giant pile of frozen woodchips. (Yes I know, like I was mentally willing them to thaw and lay themselves down.)

Sigh.

I was also staring with a scowl on my face because when you are piling woodchips, you can aim when they are being dumped, but they also just slide. This year they swallowed up my Kerria Japonica. Sadly, while a super tough shrub, I do not know if it will survive.  I think I have to source another.

129763a6c730afaeded0240129bc29abI have also been going over the Go Native Tree price list again.  I am a believer in reforesting the woods and I want to plant hickories and American Chestnut too.  I found out they won’t have American Chestnuts ready until at least the fall of 2019. But I am going to go ahead and buy 2 Shagbark Hickory seedlings and 2 Black Haw Viburnum.

RareFind Nursery will help with with my quest for Kerria Japonica. And I am also getting a Camellia japonica ‘Hokkaido Red’, Rhododendron ‘Mountain Marriage’ , (Witch hazel) Hamamelis  ‘Beholden’ and (Witch hazel) Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Rochester’.  All of these I think are for the back.  Edge of woods or thereabouts.  Jenny Rose Carey  got me interested again in witch hazel and Catherine Renzi of Yellow Springs Farm is the first person who introduced me to them years ago. And Catherine will laugh at me, but I had forgotten I had planted some other witch hazels until I rediscovered them this summer on the edge of the woods. (Yes that happens when you have a plant habit!)

Read about witch hazels on FineGardening’s website and Sir Monty Don has written about it  too.

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One of my witch hazels starting to bloom.   It is an orange one.     I believe I purchased this one from RareFind Nursery.

Now the Audrey Hepburn quote.  She was a gardener.  Years ago I had these VHS tapes called Gardens of the World With Audrey Hepburn. They got lost in a move.  I wish I could find online or in a new DVD set.   Only used sets are out there and they are outrageous in price for a used DVD set that may or may not work.

Anyway, I continue to wander around outside check on things.  It’s what gardeners do in the winter.  I also stop and listen to my birds.  Some days they are very chatty.  I noticed recently a mockingbird and today I saw the little bluebirds. And above, hawks circled calling to one and other.  The cycle of life in the woods.

Out front I am mentally rearranging some plants.  Like the shorter version of Joe Pye weed. Eupatorium dubium does not keep itself to 2-3 feet tall and in a front bed it is taking up too much real estate.  So come spring I will dig it up, move it, and plant a new bare root David Austin rose.

Some of my roses have struggled because the damp wet summer bought borers.  I lost one in the fall.  I have two bare root David Austins coming – Benjamin Britten and England’s Rose.

How else do I get through the winter as a gardener? Reading.  I subscribe to Gardeners World and Fine Gardening. I also have a gardening book problem. Like cookbooks, I love them.  A lot of what I love is kind of out of print.

I have written many times of my appreciation of the late Suzy Bales, whom I wrote about a few times and most recently in 2016.  There were a couple of her books I wanted but did not have.  One of which was titled Gifts from Your Garden published in 1992,  and before I get to that, there is a lovely archive of other articles she wrote on the Huffington Post website.

So Gifts from Your Garden arrived the other day.  In her acknowledgements for this particular book she thanks Ken Druse. I never knew that connection and he is an author, gardener, podcast master whom I like and follow.  As a matter of fact, his book The New Shade Garden is also on my winter reading list.  She introduced this book in the following manner:

“For a time, I was a closet gardener.  Friends would call to invite me to play tennis, swim, or come for lunch.  In the beginning, I tried to tell the truth. ” I’d love to, but I have some things I planned to do in my garden.” They felt gardening was a chore, and it was all but impossible to make them understand that I really loved gardening.”

I totally, completely, 100% understand that sentiment.  I know many people out there who think I am completely bonkers.

Now my husband thinks I am bonkers when it comes to my little bits of garden art. Or my concrete zoo as he likes to call it.  Oh the face when I purchased Chubby Checker from Brandywine View Antiques.  Ok first of all, the squirrel was quite reasonably priced, and second of all WE HAVE LOTS OF SQUIRRELS some of which are quite rotund so this made me giggle.

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Chubby Checker the chubby squirrel purchased from Brandywine View Antiques in Chadds Ford, PA

So yes, that is what I do. I wander around the garden mentally placing new plants where I think they will go and rearranging in my head where existing plants should be moved to. And I will twitch about it until spring arrives and my shovels can hit the dirt once again.  And I find garden accents…well let’s be honest, I do that all year round but I am picky.  I do not add just anything.

I am also mentally planning out my pots and I am thinking of switching more to of the resin variety which are not as unattractive as they used to be if you buy the ones that are supposed to look like stone.  I am getting tired of hauling pots in and out every year.

I also have to start my seeds.  I start them in a highly scientific manner. No not really, just on my dining room table.  Tomatoes and hatch chilies.  That’s it.  I am not a truck farmer and don’t have much veggie room so they grow in pots and grow bags and move around following the light.  Well I have to, we are half in the woods, after all.

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Photo taken October, 2018

Gardening books are so much fun especially in winter.  Locally, places like Baldwin’s Book Barn have a marvelous selection.  Balwin’s could use our support right now as they were recently burglarized which offends me on so many levels. How do you steal from people who are so nice? How do you steal from a place that is an institution locally?

Gardening I think is one of the best things you can do for yourself.  That connection to the earth, and the creative process of creating your garden. As in YOU create it, not a landscaping service.  Put the time and work into a garden, and it will reward you every day of the year.

I look at my garden and wonder if in the future if someone will appreciate my handiwork.  Will they love my garden as I do now? Will they care about what I planted? Will they keep up with what I have done? I hope so. My garden gives me so much joy.

The last word is my pussywillows are starting to bloom already.

Thanks for stopping by.

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bleak house

The photograph above is of Loyd Farm’s farmhouse. The photo was taken by my friend Robin Ashby, the editing is all mine. I wanted something to accurately reflect how I was feeling after hearing the little bits of snippets I have heard regarding the commissioners’ meeting in Caln last night.

Bleak and disgusted is how I am feeling.

Apparently the Valentine’s Day gift to residents was sharing the tidbit of joy that the developer of this parcel has submitted a demolition permit and it has been approved? Does anyone have a copy of the demolition permit and demolition permit application? They are things that can be obtained via a right to know form. And Caln can try to stall you on that but it is the right for the public to see that. Caln does have a right to know form and you can find it by CLICKING HERE.

It’s time to start peeling back the rotten layers of this moldy political onion isn’t it? Who really runs Caln Township? The commissioners seem like a bunch of sheeple don’t they? And yes I know some are going to take umbrage with that descriptive adjective of their beloved commissioners, but people who are really interested in land preservation, historic preservation, open space preservation, and more actually try to do more for their residents don’t they?

I have always been a realist. I know you can’t save every old house. But what I don’t understand is why no one is willing to try to save this old house? I believe the people who have told me that the building envelope is intact enough for restoration. After all, we have seen what has happened in other parts of Chester county when it comes to old houses and restoration haven’t we?

Three examples of this for me are the following: Loch Aerie Mansion, Linden Hall (even if I don’t like what’s going on there now, that is a true comparable to the Lloyd Farm’s farmhouse as far as condition and even age and I think the condition of Linden Hall was probably worse when they started restoring it), and The Covered Wagon Inn in Strafford. Loch Aerie and Linden Hall are in East Whiteland and The Covered Wagon Inn is in Tredyffrin.

And even Toll Brothers has saved historic farm houses and structures on several properties they have developed. That doesn’t mean I am suddenly condoning their cram plan density of their developments in Chester County, but even they have managed to save a few historic structures haven’t they? On Church Road in Malvern is there not an old farmhouse that was definitely open to the elements that they are in the process of restoring for that new development right there? There is another one in Chester Springs isn’t there? And that one in Chester Springs was in horrible shape – it was on a dirt road when I sought I think since then the dirt road has been paved to a regular road.

And don’t forget DuPortail House in Chesterbrook. Chesterbrook was a horribly contentious development back in it’s day and even there the historic farmhouse was preserved. Now every year multitudes of brides get married and have their receptions there. Other events occur there. People love it.

In Caln, what else does this developer own? Is Loyd Farm just part of a larger plan yet to unfold? Is it true that this developer is also the owner of County Propane in Downingtown?

I don’t have those answers but I have to tell you at this morning I am tremendously upset because I feel like a narrative is being crafted and molded to suit the ends of a future development if that makes sense? There seems to be almost this mynah bird repetitiveness that is emerging about how the farmhouse is not salvageable and is not restorable and how do we know this is actually true?

When did what communities wanted for themselves stop mattering? This whole thing about demolishing the Lloyd Farmhouse reminds me of when La Ronda was demolished in Bryn Mawr. When La Ronda was demolished around 2009 it was because in the end because the property owner could, not because he had to, remember? And that gentle readers, is the catch 22 of living in a private property rights state like the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It’s not necessarily right, but it is their right.

However what happened to elected and appointed officials who actually cared about where they called home? When did we the people literally stop mattering?

Whether it’s pipeline companies, developers, billboard companies and more why is it that it seems like everything they want matters more than what the people who live in the communities want?

Our history matters in Chester County. Our equine and agricultural history matters and farms are just disappearing day by day to developments. This developments come in and everything gets jacked including the taxes and how are farmers supposed to be able to afford to farm? The short answer is they often can’t and they just want to get out. At this current pace we are going to turn into a county that has to import all of its food.

The Chester county farmhouse is a classic and well-known architecture style. You know, like actual carriage houses? And in development after development they tell you they are mimicking farmhouse style and carriage house style so why not save some of the actual farm houses and carriage houses for Christ’s sake?

I was told by a resident and have not yet researched it on my own the following: Mary Louise Lloyd sold the property to nuns to build a hospital on in the 1970s – supposedly 1976. Then Mrs. Lloyd built her own house on Lloyd Avenue. Apparently then she opened something called Copeland Run Academy and lived and worked there. She donated the land that is Lloyd Park to Caln when she sold the farm. That of course is the recent history and again, the history of Lloyd Farm also known throughout history as Valley Brook Farm goes back to a Penn Land Grant.

We can’t just keep bulldozing our history. That’s as plain as I can state it.

#SaveLloydFarm

#ThisPlaceMatters

a good old flowing stream of female consciousness

schlitz-1952-dont-worry-darling-you-didnt-burn-the-beer-660x330There is this page on Facebook I follow called Her Voice Echoes.  In their own words:

Her Voice Echoes presents letters, editorials, articles and other documents written by and, sometimes, about women. A few voices will infuriate you. You may even find them abhorrent. Others will uplift and enlighten. Some will make you laugh, others cry. Hopefully, we’ll learn from all of them what it means to be human and the struggles that we share across centuries, social class, ethnicities and nationalities.

They post some great stuff and sometime things I roll my eyes at ever so slightly. Today, or last night probably, they posted something from Oprah.Com called The New Midlife Crisis. It’s about women, for women and Hallelujah we’re finally allowed by society to have a midlife crisis? Is that what it is?

I do have a problem with the article in the context that it seems directed at Gen X women.  So yo do only Gen X women feel these things? I am 54 and I can tell you this article resonates with me.  And not because my life is so terrible, it resonates because of what a decade ago almost my life could have been.

As the author of the piece Ada Calhoun starts to dig into her article she indroduces us to who the article is aimed at:

As I cooked dinner the other night, I thought about the women I had been talking to. They’re just entering, slogging through or just leaving their 40s. They belong to Generation X, born roughly during the baby bust, from 1965 to 1984, the Title IX babies who were the first women in their families to go to college. Or go away to college. Or to live on their own, launch a career, marry in their late 20s (or never) or choose to stay home with their children. They’re a Latina executive in California, a white stay-at-home mom in Virginia who grows her own organic vegetables, an African-American writer in Texas, an Indian-American corporate vice president who grew up in the suburbs of New York, and dozens more. They’re smart. They’re grateful for what they have. They’re also exhausted. Some of them are terrified. A few of them are wondering what the point is.

Read more: http://oprah.com/new-midlife-crisis.html#ixzz5fLptxLg0

Oh Ms. Calhoun? Umm Gen X women are not the only ones experiencing this.

Someone I know turned to me recently and said she felt like she had no purpose.  This almost broke my heart because this is a person whom I find to always have purpose, someone who has very quietly done some very amazing things.

I said to her that I think purpose as in our life’s purpose can shift and change and is always multi-faceted.  I also said I think purpose can change as we change and age and life situations change.  What might have been our intended purpose in our 20s isn’t the same as when  we hit our 30s. Our 40s. Our 50s. (and so on)

I also think if we stop to breathe, and open our minds and hearts, purpose can indeed find us.

The author of the Oprah.com piece Ada Calhoun continues:

The complaints of well-educated, middle- and upper-middle class women are easy to dismiss as temporary, or not really a crisis, or #FirstWorldProblems. America, in the grand scheme of things, is still a rich, relatively safe country. (Syrian refugees do not have the luxury of waking up in the middle of the night worried about credit card bills.) Although many women are trying to make it on minimum-wage, split-shift jobs (and arguably don’t have so much a midlife crisis as an ongoing crisis), women overall are closing the wage gap. Men do more at home. We deal with less sexism than our mothers and grandmothers, and have far more opportunities. Insert your Reason Why We Don’t Deserve to Feel Lousy here.

Fine. Let’s agree that this particular slice of Generation X women shouldn’t feel bad. And yet, many do: Nearly 60 percent of Gen Xers describe themselves as stressed out. A 2009 analysis of General Social Survey data showed that women’s happiness “declined both absolutely and relative to men” from the early ’70s to the mid-2000s. More than one in five women are on antidepressants. An awful lot of middle-aged women are furious and overwhelmed. What we don’t talk about enough is how the deck is stacked against them feeling any other way…..Part of the reason we don’t know much about women’s midlife experience is that the focus has often been on men. For them, the “midlife crisis” (a term coined by psychoanalyst Elliott Jaques in a 1965 journal article) usually involves busting stuff up—marriages, mostly—but also careers, norms, reputations….Other research suggests that women’s happiness bottoms out around 40; men’s, around 50. (Maybe that’s another reason the female experience isn’t much discussed: By the time men start thinking about these issues, women seem unaffected, but only because they’ve already been through it.)

Read more: http://oprah.com/new-midlife-crisis.html

More than one in five women in the US are on anti-depressants I personally think  in part is because doctors don’t want to doctor, it’s easier to satisfy big pharma and prescribe a pill.

Goddamnitall women don’t just want to be given a pill, sometimes they just want someone to talk to and to listen to them because trust me they do not always get it at home.  For the first part of my 40s I often felt a panic because at that time I was in a relationship with someone who preferred the sound of his own voice to anyone else’s. Fortunately for me, that is not what my life held for me and that person exited my life…in a blizzard (I loved snow that year.)

-1950s-usa-kissing-sexism-the-advertising-archivesBut if I think back on it and that relationship in particular, taking into consideration this Oprah.com article did I subconsciously stay in that relationship far longer than I should have because of some unexpressed and somewhat unknown fear at the time of being alone or not doing what was sort of expected of me? I am thinking that is true because it wasn’t until that relationship was over did I realize again that I did NOT have to panic, I could survive on my own, and I had value as a human being.  And at that point, I began to breathe again and rediscover who I was.

I am not a Gen Xer as I was born the year before they designate the appropriate time frame (1965 to 1984). I will tell you that my friends and I feel like we were of the last generations of women groomed to be more highly decorative than highly functional.  If we were highly functional it was either a happy accident or an act of rebellion.

85d6c911dea88d1fab9d4bea935b0f23--vintage-food-vintage-adsNice Main Line girls were groomed at home, at school, at dancing class.  When I was at Shipley there was still afternoon tea. It was served in part by alumnae.  My late mother-in-law would even put in an appearance. Only she is someone who had I been given the opportunity I would have paid more attention to because she was independent and a maverick of sorts. I can still tell you what it was like when I watched her come into Shipley for trustee meetings, but I never actually met her then or had a conversation with her.  She carried herself like a cross between a dancer and a queen.

After Shipley, we girls were invited (or not invited but in those days people could not just dictate and shove their way in) to dance in the Cotillion of the Charity Ball.  Or if your parents had the money and the pedigree you could be a full-fledged debutante. If you had a proper Mayflower or Early American pedigree you also/or did The Assemblies.  As I had neither in my family tree, I was never sure which it was, only that until recently if you weren’t part of a select family you couldn’t attend even as a guest.

My two standout memories from the 1981 Charity Ball? My enforced blind date my mother chose photographed on a bench in the Bellevue reading the program book appearing in the 1982 Charity Ball Program with some sarcastic comment underneath it….and boy was my mother furious. The second memory is being ready to go out with my cotillion partner and praying Bobby Scott wouldn’t murder my last name. Seriously.

So we as girls/young women went to college, some on to graduate school, medical school and so on and so forth.  But the message was always confusing: were we supposed to be independent and strong women or bits of fluff that looked good at dinner parties? Or both?

Ada Calhoun further noted in her Oprah.com article the following:

Women our age sometimes romanticize the freedom we used to have as kids in the ’70s or ’80s, but sociologist Linda Waite, PhD, director of NORC at the University of Chicago’s Center on Demography and Economics of Aging, has done extensive national surveys of middle-aged people, and she says Gen X was at a disadvantage from the start. Our parents’ choices often led to instability at home. Four in 10 Gen X children were likely to have divorced parents (the divorce rate, which peaked in 1980, recently hit a 36-year low). The effect was both financial (when your father leaves, it’s much less likely he’ll pay for college) and psychological.

“If your parents are divorced,” Waite says, “you see the world in a fundamentally different way. You see the world as unstable. That left people cautious.”

If our childhood in the late ’70s and early ’80s was a time of massive changes—the first generation of latchkey kids, high crime rates in the headlines, missing children’s pictures on milk cartons, the AIDS epidemic beginning—our transition to adulthood was equally rocky. Many of us started our job hunts in the early ’90s recession, which was followed by a “jobless recovery.” If you were born later into Generation X, you might have entered the workforce around the 1999-ish stock market peak, but the tech bubble started to burst, landing us in the 2001 recession.

I did not have divorced parents, but sometimes I question where emphasis was placed.  I often felt out-of-place and unheard.  I was supposed to do what I was told. Period.  I will note that this is something my husband has felt on occasion marred my abilities as a step-parent because of what I learned by living through.

offending_deodorant2-e13893829729241In my house growing up there was very heavy emphasis on how you looked and how you behaved.  Ok fine, no one wants to be godless and immoral but what does this do to self-body image and self-worth? In the junior high school and high school years I could prance with the best of them, but it was often just a survival charade so weakness wasn’t smelled in the air by the mean girls.  To be honest self-worth was an epiphany when I was going to turn 50 and self-body image? I still struggle with it thanks to breast cancer.

Ada Calhoun talks about women our age  (ok I will just say “our” since I was only born a year before her age range) possessing a bone-deep, almost hallucinatory panic about money (almost a direct quote from the article) and I can’t disagree. And she points out that experts say social security may or will run out in 2040. Or when I am into my 70s. Lovely.  I pay my taxes, have paid into social security for years and in the end will the U.S. government just rip millions of us off? I do not think I will ever relax about money.  It’s a love hate relationship.  If you have ever worried about falling down a financial rabbit hole, you understand the fear rational or irrational.

When my parents were in their 30s and 40s they had a nice house and so on.  When I was in my 30s and 40s I was still struggling on occasion and shock and horrors, I was single.  I swear that is what was hardest on my mother, that I was not married.  I remember when my sister and brother-in-law threw my parents a fancy 40th anniversary party. I was told by my mother I could not attend without a DATE. Yes seriously. In the end I did indeed attend without a date and much to mommy’s chagrin I did not in fact turn into a pillar of salt or something.

But that whole single thing was stressful and depressing at times.  Not because I was upset particularly but because everyone else was.  Because I was single so long it was always funny to see things I was left out of. It’s like I was viewed as a freak or unnatural. Sometimes married couples viewed me as suspect. One time someone told me once they couldn’t include me at a dinner party because she didn’t want an odd number and she was sure I would understand.  No not really, that was kind of rude.

The article goes on to say that a lot of us feel stress and depression because we feel stalled in our careers.   I don’t quite see that for myself personally because when I survived breast cancer my doctors literally sat me down and told me I had to change my life, job, and reduce stress. That was when I left my former industry. Truthfully, it was one of the best things I ever did for myself.  It was scary because the unknown was/is  scary but it was incredibly freeing.

You could say I joined the gig economy after a fashion. A gig economy is defined as a free market system in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements.  Otherwise known as freelance.  Sometimes it is frustrating, but it’s not so scary and it is doable. Sometimes you just have to hustle.

What was also freeing? Finding the relationship I had always wanted slightly later in life.  Knowing more of who I was and who my partner was made all of the difference.  We came together because we wanted to be together, not because it was expected to be so. My husband is an amazing man, and yes I feel blessed every day that he loves me and I love him.

That love and understanding for me has been all the difference.  I won’t say I still don’t have my occasional midlife panic moments but I am more grounded now I think and actually supported. When you feel supported as a human being, the panic of crisis points will subside.  You are not walking a tightrope without a net when you have someone you love and trust implicitly.

Slowly I am learning you are only as stuck as you allow yourself to be. I never truly knew that before.  When you run around in your head from thought to thought you do get stuck sometimes.

And from In Her Words a New York Times Column I subscribe to, I learned about this old column from 1931:

petty

Dean Douglass was certainly ahead of her time.  I also saw something else I took note of fly by on Facebook today also on Her Voice Echoes:

saw this

Also today and again from the New York Times In Her Own Words column? A snippet on early feminists from a larger article.

They refer to a letter written by one of my colonial favorites, Abigail Adams, to her husband John in March, 1776:

…I feel very differently at the approach of spring to what I did a month ago. We knew not then whether we could plant or sow with safety, whether when we had toild we could reap the fruits of our own industery, whether we could rest in our own Cottages, or whether we should not be driven from the sea coasts to seek shelter in the wilderness, but now we feel as if we might sit under our own vine and eat the good of the land.

I feel a gaieti de Coar to which before I was a stranger. I think the Sun looks brighter, the Birds sing more melodiously, and Nature puts on a more chearfull countanance. We feel a temporary peace, and the poor fugitives are returning to their deserted habitations.

Tho we felicitate ourselves, we sympathize with those who are trembling least the Lot of Boston should be theirs. But they cannot be in similar circumstances unless pusilanimity and cowardise should take possession of them. They have time and warning given them to see the Evil and shun it. — I long to hear that you have declared an independency — and by the way in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands.  Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If perticuliar care and attention is not paid to the Laidies we are determined to foment a Rebelion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.

That your Sex are Naturally Tyrannical is a Truth so thoroughly established as to admit of no dispute, but such of you as wish to be happy willingly give up the harsh title of Master for the more tender and endearing one of Friend….

Doesn’t.That.Just. Blow. You. Away???

Where am I going with this post? Not sure at this point. It started as one thing, has segued to other things like a good old flowing stream of female consciousness. Sorry, not sorry I have a busy brain.  Sometimes it takes a while to turn it off.

The article on Oprah.com is huge and I think really interesting.  I will finish with one last quote from the article:

And I think of what my friend who grew up in Mexico once told me: “The 30s are the adolescence of your adulthood,” she said, “and when you reach 50, it’s a restart—empieza de nuevo—a second chance.”

Well dayummm. Like Miss Jean Brodie I am in my prime now I guess?

Thanks for rambling. Stay dry and warm this evening and Happy Valentine’s Day a couple of days early.

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like a little pandora’s box: the old recipe box

I love to cook and everyone who knows me knows I collect vintage and old cookbooks, so today I added an old recipe box to my repertoire.

It was a funny little thing and probably no one else would have bought it because it’s like a piece of some other woman’s history but it has all her cherished recipes in it, which I find really cool. I also found it really sad that no one in her family wanted it.

Old Fashioned Walnut Loaf? Sounds pretty good!

These are just a few of the recipes. The owner of the recipe box seem to like pineapple because there are a lot of pineapple recipes. But there are also a couple of old-fashioned fudge recipes too!

Pot pies. Green bean casserole (which I will keep in the recipe box but will never cook because I think it’s gross.) And more!

Now that I have this recipe box and it’s a nice one I am also going to add my late mother-in-law’s recipes. She was a legendary home cook and it was because of her I learned how to make an amazing gazpacho.

I love old recipes. Especially the handwritten ones. They are history. Someone took the time to write these down, which is what makes them special.

These old handwritten recipes are a thing. There is actually a blog called Handwritten Recipes but the creator hasn’t posted since December.

Now most prefer the ease of simply going to the internet and letting your fingers do the walking but nothing beats an amazing old cookbook. Or a recipe someone thought enough of to write down.

Old cookbooks and old handwritten recipes are a little like going on a mystery history tour. And if you want to master a basic recipe in the kitchen, this is how to do it. New cookbooks are lovely but it’s the old ones that really teach you the art of cooking. Not just a new recipe.

Tips and tricks. That is also what you will find in between the pages of old cookbooks and recipe boxes. It’s kind of cool when you find one. You also learn about the food trends of the past. (HINT: check out a cooking show from Ireland you can find streaming on Netflix called Lords and Ladles.)

In 2018 Food and Wine wrote an article on cookbook collecting:

Before you throw your old cookbooks away, it might be worth getting them appraised. Antiques Roadshow’s latest season, which premiered this past Monday, will make a stop in one of America’s most beloved food cities: New Orleans. While shooting in the well-known southern travel destination and former Louisiana capital’s convention center last summer, Antiques Roadshow appraiser and Brattle Book Shop owner Ken Gloss revealed to Forbes that our old family cookbooks are worth more than we realize….According to Gloss, some of the earliest American cookbooks (dating back to the 1790s) are selling in the $1,000 range, while books from as far back as the 1400s and 1500s go for thousands of dollars. Some other pricey collectibles are glossy cookbooks about cake decorating from the 1920s, first editions signed by cooking legends like Julia Childs and Fannie Farmer, and even some hard to find recipe pamphlets once included with newly purchased appliances. Gloss states that although seemingly mundane, their high price tag is due to how these items serve as historical documents—about places, people, cultures, and, of course, the food of the time.

“[Cookbooks] offer a view into society at the time,” Gloss told Forbes. “What were the foods people were eating? What was available? How were they preparing them?”

Old cookbooks and discarded recipe boxes can be found everywhere. Thrift stores, garage and estate sales, eBay, Etsy, Thriftbooks, used book stores local to where you live, library book sales and more. Church rummage sales are one of my go to sources for old cookbooks.

Step away from your keyboard next time you need a recipe and dust off a cookbook or crack open an old recipe box. You never know what treasures you will unearth!

why i like hallmark movies

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Quite the post title, isn’t it? But it’s true, I like Hallmark movies. Yes, I watch Hallmark movies.  I especially love the Christmas movies, because well, I love Christmas. (But I digress.)

I know some who know me only by what I write here might find this all surprising.  Or even laughable. Those who know me off this blog might find it surprising. But it’s true.  And why is it?

The people in the movies are nice. Even the bad guys have redemption.

Yes, a completely unrealistic perception of the current world we live in, but it provides nice escapism.  It’s nice to see communities come together even in a fictional way.  They love local traditions like fairs, festivals, and carnivals and the Hallmark ones look like so much fun!  Even their fictional bake sales look good! And in Hallmark movies people fight to save small independent businesses like local bookstores, so for this bookworm, what’s not to love about that?

With regard to the world we live in today, definitely too much social media. And yes, I am as guilty of it as the next person.  I love when I get criticized for posting something that isn’t bubbly and sweet, because ummm I don’t always feel bubbly and sweet.  Plus I have to wonder if the seemingly perfect lives and families I see portrayed across social media very day are that? How can they be so perfect? Are they really not so perfect? I now make an effort to try to be OFF of social media at times.

Hallmark movies show us the little niceties in life that people like to forget.  Like take this for example: I received a newsletter recently from an organization I belong to and it showed their 2019 schedule including garden tours and visits.  They had asked me in the fall to tour my garden for potential inclusion and then never followed up after thanking me for taking the time to show them around.

I guess I now know why I never heard a peep again, and truthfully it is fine that they did not choose my garden (it’s an ungodly amount of work to prepare especially if you don’t have a minion squad), but how about a follow-up note or a call to say they went in a different direction but thanks for playing along?

And that is not the only group which toured my garden but never followed up.  My own high school alma mater sent employees from the alumni office to tour my garden in the fall but no one from the committee ever followed up.  It’s like they are too important for the actual details of planning  their garden tour event.

With regard to ths event  (like many others) , I know it depends geographically where they are going and I am in Chester County, but I also know realistically a cottage and woodland garden in Chester County would never hold much interest for most of today’s Main Line private school mommies, but still. Manners, ladies. Manners. Is it so bloody hard to be polite and say thank you?

Now sadly, this behavior seems somewhat pervasive because I have two friends with two lovely businesses who received similar treatment at the hands of their annual holiday shops event committee members.

Imagine being an alumni with a high end accessories and jewelry business that by rights should fit nicely into their holiday shops mix and submitting your information for consideration multiple years and one year someone was overtly rude to you who was a committee member and the other years you were just completely blown off without even an acknowledgement? Or imagine being an alumni with another business who was also declined as to  type to find out said business type appeared probably because they were somebody’s buddy?

(But hey a couple of years ago like a certain non-profit’s Fall Classic Shops they had LuLa Roe. Priorities, natch’. )

We are all grown-ups here, right? Many of our mothers served on committees which were predescessors to today’s events and they would not have dreamed of being rude to alumni or anyone for starters, and would have handled turn downs of businesses for things like the holiday shops well…differently.   How differently? A decline would have been so polite and handled with such finesse that the recipients would not have felt there was a rejection.

Whether by handwritten note or phone call thanking someone for their interest, a simple nicety goes a long way.  Everyone goes away happy.

And events like garden tours? You would have had committee members who were active in their garden clubs, and more.  And they never would have sent staff to preview anyone’s garden, they would have gone personally – after all it was supposed to be their event, their volunteerism for the school, right? And those who were interested in participating who for whatever reason weren’t chosen? It would be a nice little outreach again thanking them for being interested and hoping they would subscribe to the tour anyway, etc.

But the truth of the matter in my opinion is most of the parents on these committees today don’t care about the alumni, or their feelings.  Ironically of course, some day their children will be alumni, but hey whatever floats their boat.

Having attended these events to try to support my alma mater I also haven’t been able to help but notice how these parents volunteering at these events often appear as cliquey as their kids.

Now how does this fit into my whole I like watching Hallmark movies of it all? Simple.  When these events are portrayed on Hallmark movies even if there is event committee drama, everyone is nice to everyone else.  And they love when fictional alumni take the time to be interested. And manners.  Old fashioned manners.

Hallmark movies can teach us the life lesson of it is just as easy to be pleasant as it is to be a jerk. That it is as easy to be inclusive and takes far less negative energy to be rudely exclusive.

Hallmark movies are not the real world.  But they are a nice place to visit. Sadly they seem to be representative of times gone by.

Thanks for stopping by.