eagles 🦅 going to the super bowl !

On February 4th, 2018 the Philadelphia Eagles will meet the New England Patriots in Minnesota for Super Bowl 52.

Here is an article from Sports Illustrated:

We’re Going to the Stinkin’ Super Bowl’: Eagles, Patriots Punch Ticket for Minnesota

Did I watch the game?

I might be committing football sacrilege, but no.

I grew up with a father and mother who really weren’t sports minded. Except for perhaps the Army-Navy Game. That was a tradition they kept with friends when I was little, and I even remember as a small child attending a brutally cold Army-Navy Game at Veterans Stadium. I remember the din of the crowd, a sea of midshipmen and how cold I was.

I also remember going with my father when I was little to see one Saint Joe’s Prep football game. The Prep was his alma mater and they won the game. But again, my overwhelming memory was being freezing cold.

I remember going to Super Bowl and other football kinds of parties growing up, but to me it wasn’t very exciting because I don’t know the first thing about football. I still don’t really know the first thing about football.

I remember I tried really hard in 1980 to like football and better understand it when the Eagles were going to the Super Bowl that time. I even went to a Super Bowl party.

The Eagles lost.

In 2004, I again tried really hard to like football better and understand the game better when the Eagles went to the Super Bowl to face whom they are facing this time again – the New England Patriots. I watched the game.

The Eagles lost.

So yesterday? I didn’t watch.

The Eagles won.

Perhaps I should repeat my ignoring pattern for the Super Bowl? After all just because I’m not much of a football gal, it doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the hometown team, right?

sunset, east bradford

One of my readers snapped these shots the other evening on the way home from work. I am delighted to share them with you.

The nice thing about looking at photos like these is it reminds about the simple things that are important in life.

Family, nature, friends. The act of living. Being present in your life.

A lot of ugliness exists in the world today, so sometimes we forget about the little things like looking at a beautiful sunset.

We all should stop and enjoy the beauty every now and again shouldn’t we?

It is truly humbling when you can admire the simple beauty of a Chester County sunset.

#Grateful

taming the interior jungle

Winter means I only have the inside a/k/a house plants to tend to. It won’t be spring soon enough, but for now it’s all about taming the interior jungle.

Fridays is plant tending day. I start with the big Boston Ferns. They love the dappled shade on the edge of the woods on hooks in the summer, but in the winter they hang from the family room ceiling on hooks the prior homeowner (who was a wonderful gardener in her day, I am told) put up.

The ferns go to the sink where they get watered and misted. I leave them to drain a couple of hours while I tend to the rest of the jungle.

I start with the orchids and small Clivia (offspring from the big Clivia pots.) They are on moisture trays which I periodically add hot tap water to. The orchids each get a couple of ice cubes and today they will get sprayed with foliar feed.

The Clivia along with their mother ship relatives which are in large pots on the floor just get some water. Occasionally I water everything with Irish Organic Fertilizer (you can buy it on Amazon and I use it in my garden and on my house plants and orchids.)

I have two ivy topiaries which I actually made, and they also get watered and misted in the kitchen sink once a week and left to drain before returning to their plant saucers and plant stands. (I have a few vintage plant stands from the Smithfield Barn that I use for indoor plants to save the furniture surfaces.)

I have two citrus trees. One is a grapefruit tree I grew from seed. It has never bloomed or grown fruit but as it has matured it has grown thorns. My other citrus is a small Meyer Lemon. That has born full-sized fruit once and then almost died. It’s now thriving in a new pot and I hope for blossoms soon. The citrus trees are planted with soil specifically for citrus trees and it drains well. I tend to let them dry out before watering again. It’s a balance, but when I overwater they drop leaves.

I did buy a moisture meter which does help keep my plants watered properly. But some plants just defy all logic. Like our giant Mandevilla. We inherited it from the prior homeowner so it is well established and now in a rather large pot. It has a trellis in the pot for the vines but the pot is so heavy it is on a saucer on wheels. At this point every winter it sheds leaves. Constantly. It makes a real mess. Then it looks like it is half dead, but then spring rolls around and new leave start to sprout. But right now it is in the middle of its ugly season where I look at it and swear I won’t go through this again….until summer when the marvelous hot pink flowers appear.

I also have Christmas Cactus. It thrives on benign neglect. It also prefers a more sandy kind of soil. I toss a handful of ice cubes in the pot on the soil once a week and that’s all. I learned from a co-worker years ago that they literally thrive on being ignored.

My addition to the interior jungle this year other than a rosemary plant I am overwintering is the pretty Amaryllis I received as a gift a while back. It bloomed for Christmas, and I thought it was finished blooming and was starting to grow leaves and much to my delight another flower bud is pushing from the base! So right now I am letting the stem die from the first flower and keeping the soil moist so the next flower can grow.

Like my regular outside garden I have learned through trial and error over the years that the best thing I can do for my houseplants is also keep them on a schedule. As long as I stick to a schedule as far as watering and feeding and general tending they seem to do OK.

As for what else a gardener does in winter, well that’s easy. I go through plant catalogs and gardening magazines as I wait for spring!

Thanks for stopping by.

quilt repairs and flu days

I have had the flu since December 28 when I felt that first tickle way in the back of my throat.

Seriously.

This was the year I forgot to get a flu shot. And I got full-on flu. Including the scary nights you are afraid to sleep in the middle of the night because you can’t breathe. Last year when I got the flu shot it made me as sick as a dog (but ironically not this sick), so this year I kept procrastinating…..so next year? Back to flu shots.

As someone who was treated for breast cancer, I do live with a slightly compromised immune system. My husband, however, attributes this lengthy flu to not resting properly. Or, I haven’t stayed in bed enough. Now I hate to admit it, but since I have been getting in bed and staying in bed I am starting to feel better.

But who has the time to stay in bed, I ask? (And by the way I am writing this on the WordPress app not my computer.) I for one have learned the hard way that one has to make the time.

Staying put is a hard thing for me to do. So what have I done besides read and watch TV? Sew. I have a bunch of quilts to repair and restore.

I have written before about my love of old handmade quilts and re-making them when repairing them.

I love hand made and vintage pieced at patchwork quilts. Although I can repair and reimagine them, I am not a quilter and would never presume to call myself one. Real quilting is such an amazing art form.

I have now repaired and reimagined several vintage quilts. And then I add my own touches. Ribbon, lace, quirky odd pieces or fabric, and even embroidery are my touches. Hand sewing as I don’t have my mother’s talent with a sewing machine.

Some people only display their quilts and afghans, but I use them. I love them and to me they are among the things that make a house a home. To me it is home to have these quilts.

I am almost finished reimagining this blue and white one. It’s fairly large and has some weight to it. My friend Sara who is a real quilter had given me some odd lots of fabrics, and the one I am using is just perfect – a fun dog pattern on a blue background.

I don’t make the patches that necessarily mimic what the original quilter did. I stick to basic shapes I can cut out and stitch evenly.

This is a fun way to make myself relax…and stay in bed. Seriously, those are two things which are very hard for me to do.

When I finish the blue and white quilt, I will move onto an old Maine-made patchwork quilt. Maine if anyone is interested is a place where I think some of the most amazing handmade quilts come from. And a lot of them are flannel backed. And this certainly is a winter where you can appreciate flannel- backed quilts.

Thanks for stopping by!

chester county 2018: ask not for whom the bell “tolls”

Yo so maybe the Chester County Commissioners and the Chester County Planning Commission should put all of us out of our misery now and just rename the county Toll Brothers County?

deconstructing christmas

“Oh goody! Let’s put away all of the Christmas decorations immediately!” SAID NO ONE EVER.

Sad but true. I love Christmas. I love decorating for Christmas. But taking it all down is a real chore. And usually it falls on one person and in my house that’s me.

So….since I pretty much got the flu a couple of days after Christmas, and have been sick since, getting Christmas squared away and back into all of the containers is not happening quickly.

I remember when I was a kid, my parents used to spend weeks pointing fingers as to who was putting what away when. As a result, one year the Christmas tree was still up at Valentine’s Day. And it was a fresh cut tree so by Valentine’s Day it was dry and brittle and a fire hazard waiting for Miss Havisham’s living room (that’s a literary reference to a Charles Dickens’ character in Great Expectations for those unfamiliar.)

I try to be systematic about putting things away and usually all my ornaments and decorations stay up through Epiphany.

Epiphany falls 12 days after Christmas, or January 6th this year. Also known as 12th night it is the end of the Christmas season. Now I could stretch it out to Eastern Orthodox or Russian Christmas but when New Year’s Day rolls around I am generally ready to deconstruct Christmas as all eyes from the Nutcrackers, elves, and Santas seem to stare off their various bookshelves and tables.

As far as storage goes, I have graduated to plastic tubs of various sizes at this point. My parents used to keep all the decorations in giant cardboard boxes, and I did that for years until I realized how much easier it was to be able to see things. Also, because a lot of my ornaments are vintage, I prefer sturdier containers for storage.

Every year I start with good intentions of making everything super organized so I will never forget where anything is. And every Christmas that follows I still can’t remember where everything is!

I have collected a lot of ornaments over the years, so this is the time of year where I also periodically evaluate things that I am not using to free up storage space. This year, the things that are going to go away are the vintage metal ornament trees. They are wonderful for displaying ornaments, but I have ultimately decided I prefer little tabletop feather trees if I am going to display ornaments on smaller trees.

I have found over the years that the easiest way to deconstruct and clean up from Christmas is to do it a little bit at a time. So day by day something else gets put away until it’s all put away.

Before I go I am going to share one last photo. It’s a little VW bug and a Christmas tree Christmas ornament. It is my new favorite ornament and it came from the Christmas open house for Life’s Patina at Willowbrook Farm. Meg buys the best ornaments!

Thanks for stopping by.

mmmm, that smells good!

I have never had the flu eight or nine days before… before now, that is. And I have had enough chicken soup to cluck. And yes, I make my own soup and bone broth (thanks Instant Pot!) so I know what is in it. Needless to say, I have made a serious dent in my freezer soup supply.

I need to eat something different for dinner, so since the Giant Peapod delivery got through yesterday’s snow and this morning’s roads (yes I do treat myself to this once in a while, no judging), my version of beef stew/ boeuf bourguignon is in the oven now doing the low and slow for a couple of hours.

This recipe will probably seem a little disjointed to some because it’s more like a guide to creating your own version versus a hard and fast recipe that is written down with precise measurements. Sorry, but it’s like when I am making fresh pasta – the measurements of flour I use depends on how the dough feels to me as I put it together.

It’s not hard to make this. It’s a 2 lb pack of stew meat, veggies, one can of crushed tomatoes, half a container of cooking broth, wine, herbs, spices, garlic salt and pepper. I used Herbes de Provence primarily. The fresh vegetables I used this time were mushrooms, two onions (one red and one sweet white), parsnips, small red potatoes, carrots, celery.

I tossed the beef cubes in a bowl with Wondra flour (yes the stuff that is the trick to a less lumpy gravy is also tremendous when you need to toss meat or chicken in flour for browning), Herbes de Provence, garlic, and a little kosher salt.

For this recipe I brown the meat in a combination of olive oil with a little added walnut oil. You go lightly on the walnut oil or the taste will overwhelm your dish. It’s just a couple small dashes and it adds a different flavor layer when you’re cooking.

I browned the beef for like 10 minutes in my big vintage Dansk stew pot or Dutch oven whatever you want to call it, and then added herbs and spices. The additional spices I added included cumin, sweet Hungarian or Spanish paprika (I keep both in my spice rack so it really just depends which I grab at the time), fresh black pepper, a little additional dried rosemary, and a nice pinch of the red chili pepper blend I get from Los Poblanos in New Mexico.

Then I add the onions, followed by the celery, parsnips, carrots, potatoes, mushrooms. I add a little more salt and pepper to the vegetables. Everything browns together for a little bit (like 10 more minutes) and then I add the tomatoes (1 28 ounce can of crushed) and a half of a bottle of wine. Only a couple of gifted and too upscale reds for stew were in the wine rack so today I used the Rioja Rose I keep in as a Sangria base. And a couple of dashes of Worcestershire Sauce. (I almost forgot!)

I let the alcohol cook off the wine slightly and then I added half a container of Swanson cooking broth. I also add a couple of pieces of orange peel (2″-3″ each- no white.)

I then turned off the stove and put into the pre-heated oven (covered and at 300°.)

It’s now in the oven for a couple of hours on a cook time timer which will shut the oven off completely when it hits two hours. This dish cooked covered in a slow oven, means flavors will meld together nicely.

I love stews and hearty soups in winter. Thanks for stopping by!