Brocanting Treasures…..Furs and Butlers

Diamonds might be a girl’s best friend, but this is one ‘girl’ who certainly loves fur.  And butlers.

“Huh?” Jabber was startled by this revelation. “You don’t have any furs.  And you certainly wouldn’t know what to do with a butler if you got one!”

Ah, Jabber, dear girl!  You have not looked around the abode have you?

My, my yes.  This weekend I acquired BOTH!  Indeed!  Here is my NEW FUR COAT!

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“Good grief!” Jabber said.  “You saved money by drying herbs and then you go buy a new fur coat?”

Well, yes.  But it was from a yard sale, my friends.  And so you can guess what I paid for it.  Can’t you?  Well, I’ll let you guess, then……..I’m not telling.  Just to say it was a real bargain, even if it is rabbit fur. 

“So, what’s this about some butler?” Jabber continued, intrigued at the idea there was an actual employed man in the house…….

Why, yes, indeed.  We now have a butler.  He was languishing away, wanting for new employment, just when I happened along.  He has a story……….

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His name is Mr. Poirot.  Mr. Henri Poirot.  He is the brother of the famous detective, Mr. Hercule Poirot of whom I’m sure you have heard.  Haven’t you?  No?  Well, read here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hercule_Poirot

As I understand it from Mr. Henri (pronounced “Awn rhee”) Poirot, who is (as his brother) Belgium, he assisted Hercule in many exciting investigations—behind the scenes.  He was, as he is now, a butler.

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In such a role he was able to provide Mr. Hercule Poirot with many clues with which to solve complicated crimes and bring criminals to justice.  He never asked for any credit, preferring to work behind the scenes as he and his brother thought best.

Sadly, after Hercule’s death, Mr. Henri Poirot was unemployed and unable to find suitable work.  Many years passed.  He became somewhat shabby in appearance and despondent as he’d lost his passion in life.  This is how I found him, in such condition.  Recognizing him immediately, I felt compelled to assist as I might.

With a little persuasion and a bit of suitable green passing between me and his prior employer ($5 to be exact), Mr. Poirot has agreed to come to work for us.  In our home! 

We are hoping, of course, that there won’t be any murder mysteries for him to solve here, but we are trusting him to keep watch over the chateau and Security as she is beginning to show her age a bit.  (One can not have too much Security, regardless of in which manner it arrives, now can one?)

So, in one day, I’ve acquired a fur coat AND a butler!  Can life be better than this?!!  Non!

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We need to locate a proper mustache for Mr. Poirot—he specifically requested one.  Of course, Mr. Poirot is a gentleman of small stature, as was his famous brother Hercule, but he is a butler extraordinaire, Monsieur and Madame!  We shall search for said mustache.  Henri wishes to maintain his and his brother’s reputation of exquisite taste, but of course.  A mustache is paramount.

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Herb Harvest and Philosophy

“Oh boy, here we go…” Jabberwocky mumbled under her breath, “You’re about to say something YOU think is profundatory, aren’t you? An’ nobody is gonna’ get it.  You really ARE 112.”

Not quite.   Soon.  I feel qualified to have opinions.

“You always have had opinions.” Jabber muttered.

Of course.

So here is the herb harvest and what to do with it:

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Parsley, basil, rosemary, tarragon, dill and thyme grew in pots this summer surrounded by mint which comes back every year, and spreads, whether I want it to or not.  So I gave up trying to control the mint and just cut it in the spring and set herb pots in the midst.  That is my herb garden, nicely contained in that only herbs grow there.

Now it is time to harvest some of these herbs for use during the coming seasons.  One easy method is to cut, wash, and trim the herbs and place in ice cube trays, fill with water and freeze.  Once frozen, you can remove the cubes and place in a plastic bag.  Use these herbs for soups, sauces, casseroles as you wish—right from the freezer.  I do this with some of the herbs.

Others I like to dry.  This morning I picked some of each:

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The mint I’ll use for iced tea (it’s washed and I placed in glasses of water.) 

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Heat water, place the herbs in the hot water with the tea bags, cover and steep for about 5 minutes.  Discard bags and herbs.  Wonderful mint-infused iced tea!

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To dry herbs, simply group in bunches and lightly tie together with kitchen twine.  Hang to dry for several days.

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It’s handy to dry my herbs on the wine rack in the kitchen—they have a lovely aroma which is a nice scent by the kitchen table.

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Once dry, one can grind with a small herb pestle and mortar like this:

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Or simply use one’s fingers to crush the herbs.  I like to keep mine in these:

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But if you don’t have these, then an empty spice jar will do just fine.  Be sure to label.  These are so nice to have on hand for cooking—and to think you grew and dried them yourself is a plus.

“Ok, where is the ‘losophy in all this?” Jabber inquired, impatient to get to the point.

Waste not, want not. 

Aside from that, how do you think people acquire wealth anyway?  By spending their money on things which could be obtained in a less expensive manner and/or for less money?

Of course not. 

(Please do not give me a cynical retort here.  I know all the cynical retorts.  In fact, I likely invented some of them.  I’m 112, remember?   I’m talking about people like you and me—people who were not born with silver spoons.  And not born yesterday, either.)

Spices, like many items, are quite expensive today.  Go to the store and price them!  For minimum cost, I had “decorative” plants all summer—acquired them at a good price early in the spring, simply planted in pots (obtained at yard sales, of course!) with dirt which I did purchase—a little fills many pots—and watered.  If one is going to have ‘greenery’ in one’s yard or on one’s deck, it makes sense to plant something one can eat! 

It took about 30 minutes to cut, wash and hang all these herbs to dry—and I will have additional cuttings this season.  That likely is the equivalent of spending close to $20 or more in herbs. 

As it has always been, so it is now:  Waste not.  Want not.  Plan ahead.  Be organized.  Take time to take care (of yourself, your family, your friends, your things, your life, your money). 

Save the pennies and the dollars will grow.  Even in your 100’s………years, that is.

At the very least, you will have excellent spices on hand to flavor your foods!  Happy Harvesting!


Goodwill Hunting

Here is a riddle for you:  If orange is the new black, then what is the new department store?

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If you guessed Goodwill, you are absolutely correct!

On our adventure Friday to East Nashville, we spotted a Goodwill store.  We are nothing if not Brocanters, of course—always in search of bargains—and this was a new-to-us Goodwill Store.  So we had to stop and shop.  (There are many Goodwill stores throughout Nashville.)

As always, we found many things which intrigued us, with Thumper locating three (count ‘em! THREE!) pairs of 3/4 length pants to take on her up-coming vacation.  (At a fraction of what one would pay at an old-fashioned department store, of course.)   I found some things too! and want to show you.

The photo of the orange oval platter above is one of three I purchased for 99 cents each, with a 10% discount applied because I am a ‘woman of a certain age.’  (If you are a man ‘of a certain age’ you can get a discount as well—at least on Fridays.) 

The other two platters:

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image  Homer Laughlin is the brand!  Collectibles, perhaps?  I wanted some oval plates to carry in this basket found at a sale ($10) the previous week (round platters don’t work well):

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The platters fit nicely into the basket which will make carrying prepared food to gatherings (and other items) do-able.  (Everyone needs some organized method to carry food like this.)

Another Goodwill bargain were these (six new, in the box):

image  99 cents less my 10% discount

I love to use Ramequins for appetizers, when I am baking and measuring out various ingredients before tackling a cooking project, for leftovers, that sort of thing.  Very handy and I have several of them—microwaveable and oven proof, too.

Could not pass up this plastic lined (waterproof! and cleanable) wonderful tote/purse that looks to be brand new for $4.99 less 10%:

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And finally, this beautiful tray (it’s heavy!) for $6.99 less discount:

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Discussing the prices at Goodwill, we decided that they are a bit more than one might pay at yard sales—but it’s one-stop shopping (sometimes) and will provide you with some shopping fun for very little money.  The merchandise changes daily, so if you are looking for something in particular, go often to your favorite Goodwill store.  We have located brand name clothing, some of it new, antiques and collectibles, specialty items for our homes and wearable accessories, not to mention oddities which are often fun to gift to others—especially those who have ‘everything.’

You will find people from all walks of life shopping at Goodwill—from those who could not afford to pay more to those who certainly could, but are savvy shoppers!

Have Lots of Fun!  Remember, Orange is the new Black, and Goodwill is the new Department Store!

 

 

Movin’ On Up!

“….we’re movin on up,
To the east side.
To a deluxe apartment in the sky.
Movin on up,
To the east side.                                                                                                                           
We finally got a piece of the pie.” 

http://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/nextfridayoldschool/movinonup%5Bthemefromthejeffersons%5D.htm

Jabber was a singin’ fool yesterday, with this song resounding in her minimal brain.

Why, you might ask.  Even if you don’t ask, I’m going to tell you why:  ka-buzz she had a trip to the East Side to tour a beautiful home in the up-and-coming neighborhood known as Inglewood in Nashville. 

With Vanna and Girlfriend and Thumper to boot!

“Why would you boot them?” Jabber inquired.

I wouldn’t.  What I meant was ‘also’—‘to boot’ means also in the lingo of my native country—Chicago.

“Oh.  Why din’ you say so?” Jabber grumbled, being a Southren’ gal’ thru and thru.

Eager for adventure as always, but no sales much around, the four Brocanters ventured to the OTHER SIDE of town to tour Vanna’s daughter’s home.  I know you want to see some pictures, so………

The front porch is so inviting!  Of course Vanna and her husband and daughter have put endless hours into updating this home—and the yard!  Love the results!

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image  To the side of the house

and a charming lantern on the front porch.  Mason jars with sand and votives light the walkway when guests are expected.image  image

 

Don’t you LOVE this glider?  And the color of the rug and pillows just make one want to sit out on the porch and visit a while.

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The living room, right inside the classic old front door:

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Opposite the beautiful fireplace is an antique ‘mustache’ couch—I’ve never seen one like it.

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Extensive remodeling and refinishing have been completed in the kitchen—in fact, all through the home.  Here you view the family room area from the kitchen. 

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An extremely functional and welcoming kitchen!

Oh!  I forgot to mention that the princess in charge of the home whilst the owner is absent greeted us.  And played with us.  And had us play with her.  And pet her.  She’s a Golden Doodle, two years old. 

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Some clever ideas below of how various items have been repurposed—in a very tasteful manner.

In the dining room—an old dresser painted and used as a buffet.  (A party has recently taken place here.)

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image  A metal ceiling tile as a wall plaque.

The bathroom had a unique corner shower.  A curtain rod was custom  designed and installed by Vanna’s husband to hold a fun shower curtain.  When needed, the curtain will wrap all around the sides of the shower, closing it from view.

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Also in the bathroom, a piece of artwork and towel rack.

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image  Basket to hold towels!

Below, an original-to-the-house Art-Deco looking cabinet and a cute sign.

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The bathroom floors are new, but in keeping with the style and era of the home—did you notice in the picture of the towel basket?  Here is the other bathroom floor:

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The hardwood floors were all refinished in a dark stain.  Much of the furnishings were acquired at sales (I got to help sometimes!), but the owner has excellent taste and her style is reflected in the ambiance of the home.

Beautiful!  Thank you for letting us take the tour.

 

Sunday Morning before the rain

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Entitled, “Sunflowers and Roosters”

Brightening the kitchen counter—sunflowers from Vanna’s husband’s garden.  Thank you!

Outside, on the deck, plants are brightening the morning:

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“Audrey III” still making her rounds!

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She is still trying to reach either the deck or the house—and coming closer each passing day!  See here:       http://harpethview.com/2014/07/22/audrey-iii/

Security is out and about, chipmunk check in progress.  Glad to see her so inquisitive once again.  (Her front right leg was shaved to insert the IV last week.)

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And now……………….the rain!

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Have a pleasant Sunday.  Keep the sunny-side of life in view!

 

Watermelon for Dessert?

“But you don’t really care for watermelon!” Jabber insisted, correctly.  “But you like ice cream?  Why don’t you have ice cream.”

I think I will have both!

“YUK!” Jabber made a disgusted look.  “That sounds awful!”

Well, it’s not.  It’s ice cream/sherbet and cake made to look like a watermelon.  And it’s a pretty and unique dessert to serve when it’s 95 degrees outside (but serve it quickly before it melts).

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Here is what you will need:

1/2 gallon lime sherbet (or if you are exotic and you can find it and/or you can AFFORD IT!, get pistachio ice cream.  Oh, what the heck, get anything green in the ice cream/sherbet variety that you like and use it.  I don’t care what you use!  I just happen to find lime sherbet both available and affordable.  And I already had it.)

1 quart of vanilla ice cream  (you MIGHT need more.  Since we like ice cream, I always get more than I need.  Just in case.  And if I don’t need it, then I can eat the rest.  See how clever I am with my planning ahead?)

“Everybody can see.  You are wearing what you have eaten!” Jabber interjected.  I don’t think she meant that in a kind way, but I don’t have time to argue with her.

1/2 gallon raspberry sherbet  (here again, I’m sure you won’t need the entire 1/2 gallon, but I doubt just a pint will do it.  Use your own judgment.  If you prefer strawberry ice cream, you can use that.)

slivered almonds OR chocolate wafer cookies broken into small pieces.  (Hint:  these are going to be watermelon seeds.  If you don’t like seeds, you can skip these and have seedless watermelon.  Or you can use chocolate chips.  Entirely up to you.)

1 round white layer cake slightly smaller than the size of the top of the larger bowl 

two Pyrex bowls which fit into one another (if your bowls are very large, you will need more ice cream!  I used a medium and small Pyrex bowl)

Also note:  These bowls need to be freezer-safe!

Directions:  

Bake your cake and after it is cool, wrap half in foil and freeze.

image  Eat the other half.  Or freeze it.  Or feed it to the dog.  (Note:  no, Security did not have any.)  Or your husband.  Or your kids.  Whatever you wish to do with it.

Line the inside of the larger bowl with wax paper—at least I used wax paper, but you might try plastic wrap.  (Okay—let me advise you to use plastic wrap.  Be sure you have plenty wrapped on the outside of the bowl, too.)  Be sure you leave edges so you can remove the bowl when you are done making the watermelon!

Wrap the outside of the BOWL (the small bowl) in plastic wrap.  Whatever you want to do.  I think, in the past, I’ve done that too.

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Carefully smooth lime sherbet all around the inside of the larger bowl—it will need to be somewhat softened so you can work with it, but not completely melted.  I used the back of a large spoon and a small metal spatula.

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Don’t worry if it isn’t perfectly done—we will make adjustments at the end so that no one will know.  Except if you take photos and put them up on a blog.  Which, of course, I’m doing.  So YOU know.  I am not a perfectionist.

“No kidding!” said Jabber, laughing hysterically.

Take another piece of wax paper and place it over the top of the larger bowl lined with sherbet.  Then,  carefully place the smaller bowl inside and lightly press down so that it fits over the sherbet and bowl.  (This is where you could have just covered the smaller bowl with plastic wrap as I suggested above.  But if you’re like me, you’ve forgotten to do that and have that wax paper cut and over the bowl already, so never mind.) 

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Wrap it all in a large piece of foil and place it upright in the freezer.  I left mine to freeze overnight.

“Yeah, but that’s ka-buzz you din’ have the other ice creams to make it sooner.”  Jabber had been watching.

This is correct and only the past hour or so have I had them.  This thanks to TMWLH who went to TWO stores and carefully searched himself asked all the customers in the aisle and the freezer managers where he could find what I needed.  I don’t blame him!  Seems that Nashville residents were on an ice cream binge this weekend!  (It is hot, so no wonder.)

The next day (or a few hours later or whenever it is convenient to you), remove the frozen bowls from the freezer.

Make sure you’ve left the vanilla ice cream out a bit first (for a while) so it is softened.  Alternatively, if your MWLWY (Man Who Lives With You) or other unlucky ‘step and fetch it’ person, or even You, your very own self, has obtained said ice cream in 95 degree heat from the store, it WILL be soft!  So immediately do this!

Heat up a couple of cups of water and pour into the inside bowl after you have removed the tin foil.  (Save the foil.)  Take a dishcloth and place it in the water in the bowl to heat and then carefully ‘run’ that around the upper part inside of the bowl.  The bowl should release easily.  Remove the bowl and the wax paper will peel right off the top of the lime sherbet. 

There THAT was easy!

Spoon some of the vanilla ice cream on top of the lime sherbet.  You are going to cover the lime sherbet with the vanilla ice cream.  Use the back of a spoon and/or a metal spatula again to do this.

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This time, I covered the smaller bowl outside with plastic wrap before setting it inside the larger bowl.  (I am a slow learner, but I do learn.  Eventually.)

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Now, carefully push down lightly!  Cover both bowls and the edge of the sherbet/ice cream in the saved foil and place back into the freezer, upright. 

You’ll have to wait a while to finish this, so go have a snack.  Eat the remainder of the other half of the cake you made. 

What?  You already ate it?!  Well, go DO something.  Make yourself useful!  Don’t forget to put that raspberry sherbet in the freezer before it melts and makes a mess!

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Take a nap.  Iron.  Write a blog post.  Wait a minute……..

I’ve got to stop here.  I’ll write the rest later.  This because, you have forgotten already?  I just put the bowls BACK IN THE FREZER but I forgot to put the vanilla ice cream away!

Geesh! 

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Okay, it’s later.  Time to think about garnish for the watermelon—how about some pretty strawberries scattered around it on the plate?  Okay!  Wash them and dry them carefully and then put them back in the fridge until right before you are serving dessert.

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Get the raspberry sherbet out of the freezer and let it get a little soft.  Run get the frozen bowls from the other freezer—what, you don’t have two freezers?  I used to have three, but one died.  We decided we didn’t really need three.  Sometimes I do, though. 

But that’s not important (to you, but it is to me). 

Toasted slivered almonds is what I’m using as watermelon seeds.  Get them at the ready.  If you are using chocolate wafers, be sure you have chopped them roughly into watermelon seed size.  Or thereabouts. 

No, I don’t know how many.  How seedy do you like your watermelon?

Now, heat some water again and pour it into the unwrapped upper bowl again and carefully dislodge the bowls.  Mine came out nicely (it was wrapped with plastic wrap this time).

You can put the smaller bowl in the sink—you’re done with it.  Scoop out the raspberry sherbet, mix in some slivered almonds, and then carefully fill up the cavity in the center. 

image  Mix in some slivered almonds  (or chocolate wafer chippy things that look approximately the size of watermelon seeds).

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Beginning to look like a watermelon half, isn’t it?

Wrap the entire thing, bowl, ice creams and all with plastic wrap.  Say “nitey-night’ to it and run it back to the other freezer. 

Hold on, we’re almost done!

Go to bed!

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This part is entirely optional to the recipe.  It’s just what I did.  It had no bearing on how the cake came out, either.  Only on how Security came out.

Wait!  Get up!  Security is pawing, backing, YELLING to go outside.  Get up and let her out.  It’s dark outside, so since she is 91 (human years), turn on the outside lights.  Wait.  For a long time.  Go see what she is up to.  She is sick.  VERY sick.  Get TMWLH up.  Call the emergency veterinarian hospital.  Drive 45 minutes across town at 11:30 (the midnight run) to get her to emergency.  Wait until the vet does x-rays and comes to tell you they will have to pump her stomach.  She will call if Security gets worse.  Go home.  Go to bed at 1:30 a.m.  Get up at 6 when the vet calls to tell you Security is fine.  Have TMWLH drive 45 minutes across town to get her and another 45 minutes home.  Get ready for house guests and 16 people for supper.  Watch Security like a hawk and make her plain white chicken and rice, which she won’t eat for a while.  Luckily, take a 15 minute nap.

Continue on with the ‘show’………….

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(Now, the cake part is optional—but I like a bit of cake with my ice cream.  If you don’t care to do the cake, you can simply remove the ice cream/sherbet on a plate.)

Remove the frozen watermelon  and the cake half from the freezer, placing the cake half on top and turn upside down on a plate. 

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Now, spend about 45 minutes carefully trying to coax it out of the bowl.  You can do this with a dishrag you continually heat and run around the outside of the bowl.  You might try dipping almost all the bowl (sans the cake) into heated water for a few seconds.  I didn’t, afraid I couldn’t turn it upside down again.  Any way you can, but CAREFULLY, remove the watermelon cake from the bowl—or rather take the bowl off the top of the watermelon cake!  Somewhere in the middle of this process, get the raspberry sherbet out of the freezer to soften a bit.

Okay?  Remove any wax paper or plastic wrap from the ice cream/sherbet.  Now, then, use a bit of the raspberry on the bottom portion of the watermelon around the cake to fill in……

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Quick!  Cover with plastic wrap and run it back into the freezer to harden.  Put any remaining raspberry sherbet back in the freezer, too.

Wait a while.  About 15 minutes before you plan to cover the raspberry with lime sherbet, remove the lime sherbet from the freezer.

Now, frost the raspberry with lime sherbet.  To smooth out the lines and make it more uniform, place your hands over the plastic wrap and smooth it out.  (If you wish to go all “arty” you can get out some green food coloring and carefully paint the watermelon with some stripes.  I did not care to get all ‘arty’ this time.)  Cover the entire plate and cake with plastic wrap and freeze until serving time.

Remove from freezer, remove plastic wrap, place strawberries around the base of the cake and serve.

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Security’s Midnight Run

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“Security looks a bit down in the mouth—or down on the floor, or somethin’” Jabber sadly stated.

Yep.  Is. 

Just after TMWLH went to bed last night and yours truly was turning off the lights to head in the same direction, Security began to urgently bark at me.  She needed to go outside IMMEDIATELY.

I let her out in the backyard where she roamed for a good 15 minutes, quite unusual for her to do that since no one was outside with her.

Thinking it was a squirrel or chipmunk or something along those lines, I put the leash on her and walked her outside in the front yard. 

She was gobbling grass.  She was gagging.  She was swelling up.  Something was terribly wrong. 

This was not her first ‘rodeo’ with such symptoms.  In 2010, Security experienced bloat—a life threatening illness in which her stomach twisted, blocking anything in her abdomen from passing forward or backward.  A run to the vet confirmed the seriousness of her condition and we rushed her to an emergency hospital for surgery.

We worried and worried all night long.  Of course, Security being Security thankfully recovered and despite her stitches from surgery, bounded into the van when we went to get her.  She paid no heed to warnings from yelling nurses or us about slowing down.  She just isn’t a ‘slow down’ sort of Security.  Within a day, she was completely ‘back to normal.’

Two years later, she experienced the same trauma, but with the prior surgery, she’d had her stomach stitched to her side so it couldn’t literally twist.  Another run to an emergency vet hospital (across town, of course!), pumping her stomach and some rest (and a few bucks) did the trick.

So, last night once again—about midnight—we found ourselves driving across town with a very sick dog.   Same diagnosis.  We stayed until the Doctor said we could leave and bid Security good night  and left her in good hands.  By then she was the center of attention, having made friends with everyone in the hospital—she’s like that—so I imagine she had a good deal of attention throughout the night.  (The had her lie down in the center of the room where all of the staff could come by and pet her.  Not in a cage, not tied up—no!  Hooked up to an IV, lying on a lovely rug, right in the center of the room.)

The doc just called about 6 a.m.; Security is fine.  The stomach was pumped, she is on some pain medication, she had an IV and was resting.  When did we wish to come and get her?

(We, of course, are NOT fine.  We did sleep, but only a few hours.)

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Security is one tough old bird canine! 

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At almost 91 in human years, she can still leap with the best of them.  And she does consider it her duty to meet and greet any and all who approach her home—so this afternoon, as we welcome about 15 family members, from age 4 up, for a visit here, no doubt she will be in the thick of it all, despite our very best efforts to keep her quiet.

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She, of course, will feel fine by then (she will tell us so!)  We, of course, will be exhausted.  But, never mind.  It’s what anyone would do for one’s best four-footed friend, now, isn’t it?

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