12 December 2014

Maddie Goes Home

 She is officially Madeline Bunnymellon Collins.

After a long ride, Maddie was united with her new family. 

First, I stopped at the Post Office to drop off an envelope. She got into the trash and ate coffee grounds!  (I don't have dogs so I never thought she would get into the trash.)

She was a bit wired the first few miles as you would have been if you ate coffee grounds.

We stopped for gas and had drive thru burgers.  Her first burger.  She was so excited, I had to stand outside the car in the rain to finish my burger.

Chris was early as he was excited to meet her.

He had already gone to the doggie boutique to get her peanut butter treats.

As we passed each other, Maddie was now sitting in his lap, staring out the window.  She was spoiled from the start.

When I got home, the first night I looked out at her box to check on her and realized she was gone. 

Merry Christmas, Maddie!

05 December 2014

Holiday Gift Giving Guide

We are not Oprah!  Nor Julie Andrews.  But these are a few of OUR favorite things.  Any one of them will make you an expert gift giver this holiday season.

 Carolina Wild

I grew up in Alabama with a big ol' muscadine arbor in the back yard.  A Southern grape, muscadines have a really thick peel, a gelatinous center, and big seeds.  Once you break that skin, the taste is unforgettable.  The first sip of Carolina Wild sent me right back to that hillside in Alabama. 

When Dennis and Elizabeth Tracz returned to North Carolina to care for Elderly family, they stumbled across an excellent family business -- Muscadine juice.  And why not.  Muscadines are full of antioxidants, they make a great replacement crop for tobacco, and they remind me of Alabama!  As an added bonus, the company philosophy is ingrained with giving back to the community.

So instead of grabbing up a bottle of wine that someone will simply re-gift the next week, be wild and grab up some Carolina Wild.

The Unseen Bean

Sure buy everyone a Starbucks gift card.  Feel free to be as unimaginative as possible!

Gerry Leary loves food -- he loves the way it tasted, smells, feels on the palate, but he has never seen the food he eats. Leary was born blind. 

One day, Leary found himself in a restaurant with a rock tumble.  At least he thought it was a rock tumbler.  When he inquired, the owner said it was a coffee roaster and would he like to "see" it.  Leary became fascinated with the roaster and set out to get a job roasting coffee. His enthusiasm was not met with the same from employers who simply didn't get it.  Since no one would give him a job, Leary bought his own roaster and taught himself.  He may not see the beans but hears them, smells them and roasts some of the best coffee around.

 You know that old saying, "When life gives you lemons, make coffee!"

Want to be the salt of the Earth this Christmas?  You know we not big on sweets -- our palate goes to the salty and we have a pair of salts for you holiday pleasure.

Omnivore Salt

Angelo Garro is Italian by birth and a blacksmith by trade.  His blacksmith shop is well known in the San Francisco area, but not always for the forge.  In the back, Garro has an industrial stove that rivals many restaurants.  The shop has hosted many a dinner filled with food, and chefs, and wine, and salt.

A hunter and gatherer on the side, Garro often seasons his game and vegetables with a salt and spice blend he learned to make at his grandmother's knee.  Needless to say, everyone who ventured into the forge kitchen wanted their own bag of salt.  Finally, some suggested he sell the stuff...and the rest is history.

We love it rubbed on a chicken for roasting.  Try it sprinkled over olive oil with some crusty bread.  Toss it on vegetables. 

J.Q. Dickinson

For a beautiful finishing salt, look no farther than the green and rolling hills of West Virginia.  While snobs rave about Maldon salt from England, true food lovers rave about the salt from Malden, West Virginia.  Under the mountains of Appalachia lies an ancient, briny sea.  For seven generations, the Dickinson family has produced salt from that sea -- well for a brief period, the salt production came to a halt, but recently,siblings Nancy Bruns and Lewis Payne came back to the family farm and began producing the most beautiful of finishing salts.  A tiny sprinkle on brownies elevated the humble dessert to a show stopper. 

Bloomery SweetShine

While we are in West Virginia...you need a drink.  Nothing is easier on the digestion than a nice glass of limoncello.  Finding a good limoncello outside of Italy wasn't always an easy task.  When Linda Losey and Tom Keifer returned from a trip to Italy, they wanted a nice bottle of limoncello to remind them of their trip.  When they couldn't find one...you guessed it...they started making their own.  They bought a property on Craig's List and set up shop.  Who knew one would find lemons in West Virginia. 

They didn't stop with just lemons -- they have added raspberry, pumpkin, black walnut, and peach to name a few.  Frankly, they have way too much fun for people who are running a business!  Buy, you know that old saying, "When life gives you lemons, make limoncello!"

Cookbook Of The Day

What do we want for Christmas?  Cookbooks, of course.  Head over to Cookbook Of The Day for some great ideas to add to your cookbook shopping list.  Old and new, there is something for everybody. 

 Omnivore Books On Food

Need a really special cookbook.  Something out of print?  Something signed by a favorite chef? Something unusual?   Pop off an e-mail the Celia Sack at Omnivore and your search will come to an end.

Heifer International

Last but not least -- in fact -- last but should be first...

This is a season of giving.  What do you give the person who has everything?  A gift for someone else.  Instead of doing that last minute shopping at the drug store -- log onto Heifer International and make a donation of chickens, or bees, or goats, or stoves and tuck that into a stocking. 

We have always been big supporters of Heifer International, but you live in a community and there are folks who need help.  Drop off a toy, buy a coat, donate to a food bank.  the wold will be a better place and you will be a better person.

Happy Holidays!

02 December 2014

November 30th

This is my November 30th post.  Yes, it is a bit late.  I could tell you about the inclement weather and power outages, but my guess is a bit of old-fashioned laziness!  My bad.  But the power did go out!  Anyway...

November 30 has two odd, but cool anniversaries.  Both events should have been windfalls for the people involved, but as fate often has it, both individuals died broke. 

On November 30, 1858, John Landis Mason invented the Mason jar.  Well, technically, he invented a jar with external screw threads that allowed for a metal lid with a hermetic seal to be screwed onto the jar.  This make canning much more safe and accessible.  If it had not been for Mason, no one in Brooklyn would have anything to drink out of, not to mention all those canning blogs that would have to fold! 

I am sure you get at least one link a day on Facebook telling you all the nifty ways one might use a Mason jar. ( FUN FACT:  All Ball jars are Mason jars, but not all Mason jars are Ball jars. ) Still, John Landis Mason died broke.  His patent expired in 1879 and and he expired in 1902.  Sad but true.

On November 30, 1954, Ann Hodges became the first and only person ever hit by a meteorite. ( Well, maybe there was a kid in Africa, but we like "first and only" better and we have never seen his bruise.) I am rather fond of this story because it occurred in Sylacauga, Alabama, my sort of hometown.  I often drove past the actual house where the meteorite crashed through the roof. 

So this particular day in 1954, Ann Hodges was napping on the sofa when she heard a crashing noise, the meteorite came through the roof, destroyed the radio and hit Hodges, leaving the enormous bruise; after all the space chunk was a good 8 pounds!  After much Cold War paranoia,  the rock was returned to Hodges, who could have sold it for big bucks...but there was a glitch. She rented the house and the owner claimed the rock was hers.  So they fought over it until no one wanted it.  Hodges ended up giving it to a museum and then having a nervous breakdown, leading to and early death.

Needless to say, this was about the biggest thing that ever happened to Sylacauga... until Jim Neighbors became Gomer Pyle!

The moral of this story is:  if you get hit be a meteorite and you are a renter, share the wealth!

29 November 2014

Guest Blogger

Our guest blogger is the puppy formerly known as Bunnymellon.  This is her Thanksgiving story.

I got tossed out by some mean humans.  They hit me and dumped me out and I had no where to go.  I found this little house that was kinda warm and I slept there.  That next morning, Lucinda came out to get the chickens, whose house I was sharing.  The chickens were scary and made me cry.  Everyone had been so mean to me...

Lucinda was nice but really didn't want me.  She has stupid cats and they were not nearly as nice as the chickens. They wanted me gone.  But Lucinda never hit me or yelled at me.  She just wanted me to go, but I didn't have a home.

Lucinda called everyone, but no one would claim me.  The cats shared some of their food and then Lucinda bought me a bag of food just for me.  I was so hungry I would have eaten the whole bag, but I would have gotten really sick.  So now I eat healthy portions a couple of times a day.

So there is this thing called the Internet, that I am not real familiar with, but it lets things fly through the air.  Lucinda made a picture of me and sent it on the Internet to her friend Ann.  Ann sent the picture to Barbara in Vermont, she sent my picture to Neville back in Virginia, and she sent it to Chris and Maria whose recently lost their dog.  Unlike the cats...they loved me and want me to be their dog!

I am very thankful this Thanksgiving that I am getting a home.  I will have plenty of food, a warm house, and no one will every hit me again.
Monday, Lucinda is taking me to the vet to get some medicine so I will a tip top dog and this weekend, she is driving me to meet my new puppy parents.  They are making a list of great dog names for me.  While I am getting a new name and a new home, I will forever be an Alabama fan, thanks to Lucinda.

So I hope everyone had as good a Thanksgiving as I did.  Please don't be mean to animals...if you don't want them, take them to a shelter.

One last thing....
Rooooooll Tide!

18 November 2014

Our First Snow

A tad undramatic, but still snow!

12 November 2014


I love Sissinghurst.  If had all the money in the world, I would find a way wrench it away from the national trust and I would live there with an army of gardeners.  Well, that's not going to happen, so the next best thing is reading about it. 

Vita Sackville-West's grandson is married to gardening expert and cook, Sarah Raven.  They live in the family apartments at Sissinghurst and with her love of gardens, Raver spend a great deal of time in the gardens.  As one might expect, she has also spent a great deal of time with Vita's writings about Sissinghurst.  In a hybrid work of garden writing, Raven has taken Vita's writing and combined it with her own story of the garden.  

As Raven points out, "Gardens do not normally survive their creators...."  Sissinghurst is a rare example, perpetuated by surviving family, gardeners and vast, detailed writings. The gardens have retained the influence of vita Sackeville-West, while moving forward to become one of the premier gardens of the world. 

This book offers up a historical look at the garden combined with the modern work being done today.  The book combines old photos along side current photo, displaying the ever changing nature in the life of a garden.

Vita wrote about gardening:
The more one gardens, the more one learns; and the more one learns, the more one realizes how little one knows.
Little did she realize that her vision for the garden would be taken up by her children and grand-children. The beauty of Sissinghurst, what make this garden eternal is remembering the past while learning more each day.  If Vita Sackville-West were to visit Sissinghurst today, she would find it very much as she left it...and magically transformed.  That is the nature of a garden.

04 November 2014

Curator of the Refrigerator

You know how you read something and it strikes you as true and very funny.  I have always coveted a refrigerator with a glass door.  I just love the way they look.  I was reading an article a while back (and I regret I have no idea who wrote it, and I am sorry) and the author made the point that having a glass front refrigerator was a stupid idea as one would not want to spend time curating their refrigerator.

Of course, this made perfect sense.  On any given day, my refrigerator resembles Fibber McGee's closet, one of those sitcom closets where everything in the house is stuffed into it only to fall out when it is opened. So recently, after unloading a grocery run, I looked up to notice that I had a rather nicely "curated" refrigerator that was worthy of a glass door. 

But only for that afternoon...still...I could get used to a $15,000 Sub Zero. 

02 November 2014

Edith Sitwell?

I know Halloween is over, but doesn't this pumpkin bear a striking resemblance to Edith Sitwell?  It is actually named Agatha and is from an outfit called the Invisible Underground.  They are a professional fruit and vegetable carving business.  Who knew?

31 October 2014

Greetings From the Great Pumpkins

Happy Halloween!

Today is the third anniversary of the Halloweener cats coming into our home.  Trick (far left) and Treat (in the middle) joined Teddy and Kitty Carlisle in our little family.  Kitty Carlisle is far too dignified to dress up!  Even thought they were supposed to go to the kitty jail and be put up for adoption, they somehow prevailed in joining the family.   They have been fun!

30 October 2014

Halloween Eve Supper

Twas the night before Halloween...

We made a nice chicken stew with blackened cornbread...

It was bootiful!

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