Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Old school propagation

I have an elderly friend who still lives in the house that his parents built a few years after immigrating here from Italy. One day I admired the camellia bush he has growing outside his kitchen door. "My mother planted that bush," he said. "She could grow anything - fruit trees, bushes, anything. She would take cuttings, stick 'em in the ground, put a jar over 'em, and bodda-bing! - a new plant." He urged me to cut a couple branches off the bush. "I'm tellin' ya, when ya go home, stick 'em in the ground right away, cover 'em with a jar, and when ya see new growth on the branch, you'll know it worked. Ya gotta try a couple, 'cause some of 'em won't take, but at least one will. Try it."

He sent me home with a couple of blossoms, too, for encouragment.

I was skeptical. It seemed too easy. But I tried it. He was right. Two of the three I "stuck in the ground" died. But the third one...


Moral of the story: listen to your elders. They know stuff. Thanks, Carlo.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

For all things bright and good

holy experience

Counting blessings

129 - April nights that are still cool enough for a fire

130 - Homemade terrariums

131 - Green green grass after the snowiest winter ever

132 - tree bark

133 - Conquering my fear/hatred of the combustion engine, or the generosity of the man who let me drive his beloved tractor

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Stepping back

April is the month that I head back to work as a living historian. Cross the little bridge with me and we'll be transported to a farm in Chester County in the 1790's. Today's task will be candlemaking. In about an hour, a hundred and five second-graders will be joining us, so we best get to work. Here's a few pictures from my work day.

I'm spoiled to work in such a peaceful setting.

Time to cut the wick.

Important rule in candlemaking: don't let the fire go out...

I love my job!

Sunday, April 18, 2010


holy experience

Counting blessings

124 - the Eloise Wilkin model

125 - warm baguette and european butter (Danger, Will Robinson, unless you can stop with just one slice, or maybe two - or perhaps three...ahem!)

126 - antique Springerle molds to make my daughter's wedding cookies-not by me, but by Sprigerle House. Strausburg, PA - Edible Art!

127 - my husband's bedtime tea blend (a pot with one bag of Typhoo decaf, one bag of PG Tips decaf, and one Twining's Lady Grey decaf) - delicious!

128 - seeing a field full of red winged blackbirds taking off in flight as we whizzed by in the car

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Fairy Cakes

Fairy cake - best friend of the candied violet.

I use Nigella's recipe. Like the person who posted the recipe, I don't cut off the tops, and I prefer butter cream icing.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Candied violets - 'Twill keep

I held a jewel in my fingers -
And went to sleep -
The day was warm, and the winds were prosy -
I said, "'Twill keep".

I woke - and chid my honest fingers,
The Gem was gone -
And now, an Amethyst remembrance
Is all I own -

Emily Dickinson

In early spring, my daughter and I love to gather the wild violets that grow in our yard to make candied violets. We don't use any pesticides on our lawn or gardens, so no worries there.

If you'd like to make these, you'll need violets, egg white from one egg, and fine white sugar. I put a cup of white sugar in my food processor and pulsed it a few times to make the grains finer, but not enough to make dust.

Using a clean watercolor brush, gently paint the front and back of the petals with the egg white. You'll notice I don't remove the stems of the flowers. They're easier to handle that way.

Putting the sugar in an old salt shaker made it easy to apply. Hint: don't bury your violet in sugar. When it dries, you won't be able to see the flower. Two or three shakes is sufficient.

Put your finished violets on a piece of parchment paper to dry overnight. Some people like to put them in a warm oven. Having tried both ways, I believe that air drying retains the color better. Don't remove the stems until they are completely dry.

Voila! We use these to top fairy cakes, which I'll share in the next post.

I store them in a jar of fine sugar until I am ready to use them. They'll keep for months. But we usually don't wait that long :)

Monday, April 12, 2010


holy experience

Counting blessings

119 - mail from Miss Audrey

120 - ruby slippers
(for $5 - yeah, baby!)

121 - tea at Joan's house

122 - being married to a fella who knows how to spoil a girl

123 - soap that smells like fresh cut oranges

Friday, April 9, 2010

She stole my heart

Honestly, your Majesty Queen of Hearts, I didn't steal your tarts...really, I didn't...would these eyes lie? Perhaps you should question that sketchy knave standing behind me...I don't even LIKE raspberries...truly, I don't...

All jesting aside, this is our scrumptious grandbaby, Magnolia blossom.

I should note that this photo was taken by the "other" grandparents. But I'm not jealous. Not at all. Not even the littlest bit. *cough*

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

For the love of all things bee-ish

"What's this hovering over the dandelions?" asked my then three-year-old son. "I don't know," said his distracted and sun-drowsy mother. "Bring it here and let me see." Obedient child that he was, he brought me the honey bee that he was gently holding between his thumb and forefinger. It never stung him, the little bee charmer. That was nearly twenty-five years ago, but it sparked my interest in "how doth the little busy bee improve each shining hour".

Along with it came a secret desire to raise honeybees. My husband, who has a deep, abiding love for honey, is interested as well. For the past year and a half I've been doing research on it, and even met a local man who led us through the how-to of getting started. But as often happens in life, other things have thwarted us, so it will be a project we have to put aside for another year.

Bees are beautiful and necessary creatures, and it is of great concern to some that they are disappearing.

this is liquid gold at our house

So until my dreams of an apiary are realized, I will content myself with counting bees instead. Would you like to join me? I found The Great Sunflower Project at Sugar City Journal. It's fun and only takes 15 minutes.

This picture is from my garden from last year. Count me in!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Road trip for some accidental tourists

holy experience

Counting blessings

We had an unexpected getaway to Pittsburgh, PA this week. I thought it fitting to give thanks in a Multitude Monday post. While I'm not at liberty to disclose the details, I will say that our trip and its success was the culmination of many years of prayer for a loved one. In more than a few ways this time was a faith-testing parallel to the events of Easter week: pain, uncertainty, trust, and hope in God's power.

After taking care of the main purpose of our journey, we were able to enjoy a little side adventure before heading home.

103 - prayers of the saints

104 - serendipitous finding of a French cafe for breakfast

105 - cafe au lait; heavenly elixir, served in a bowl, no less (Woot!)

106 - good coffee (albeit bad posture)

107 - crepes

108 - massive museums

109 - art appreciation

110 - dreamers

111 - seeds

112 - Dads who pass down their love of rocks and gems

113 - having a son who can answer his little sister's questions (Zach, what IS that little thing sticking out of the breastplate on its right?)

114 - sun-filled courtyards

115 - sugar cookies and pink lemonade

116 - thoughtful daughters

117 - cherry blossoms

118 - home again, home again, jiggity jig


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