Monday, December 31, 2012

Here's to the New Year!

The holidays are almost behind us, and life will be getting back to a normal (boring?) routine soon. Hopefully this means I will get back to posting much more frequently. I've really neglected this little place I call my own during the month of December, but promise to do better by all y'all readers in 2013. I think that will be the only resolution I keep on my list. I'll go ahead and cross the others out now.

So cheers to the New Year. May it have all the good and none of the bad of 2012. There are a few things I'm excited about for 2013, especially the opening (at last) of Magpie Vintage (does that sound like a plug? Find them and like them on Facebook!), as well as, of course, getting back into the Garden. I'm really trying hard to turn the many, many tear sheets and files of inspirations and ideas into reality. Hopefully these things will come in 2013, as well. 

I still don't know what I'm doing to ring in the New Year, but I'm pretty sure it will involve some Bulleit, a new New Year's tradition. Whatever you may be doing, I want to wish you a very happy, healthy, and safe New Year!

See you in 2013!

I took this picture last week during the Boxing Day Blizzard of 2012. Tonight should be the last night Santa plays the pipe organ across the street.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Ugly Critter Proofing

The past two winters we have had a bit of a problem with rabbits (I'm guessing) chewing the kiwi vines that grow on the pergola. The dumbest thing is that they don't actually eat anything, they just chew an almost clean cut and move on to the next thing they want to ruin. They really are nasty little animals. 

On Sunday I took a stroll around the garden (I've yet to burlap anything, and today's snowfall might ruin my chances) and noticed that two of the vines were snapped. I went into the garage, dug around for a minute, and came out with a remnant roll of chicken wire that was just long enough to wrap all of the plants. Hopefully this will help.

Damn rabbits.

Seriously ugly. The base of the chicken wire is bent and hair pinned to the ground. There is a male and female vine on this side of the pergola. After they were eaten down to the ground a few years ago I've been really protective of them. They grow to the top of the pergola, and then get chewed off at the base. So frustrating! 

There is one female vine on the opposite side. A male vine can pollinate up to 8 females. Hopefully  this eyesore of a fence will protect the vines until Spring. Eventually the vines will be large and woody enough that I don't think a rabbit will be able to chew it, but that day seems to be pretty far down the road. Now to try and save the raspberries!

Friday, December 21, 2012

"Mom's Apple Cake"-Great For Christmas Morning

Here's another recipe I ran across on Alexis Stewart's blog for what was called "Mom's Apple Cake". It wasn't from her mom, and it's not from my mom, so who's mom is it? Hitting the link I saw that it was from Smitten Kitchen, another great place I used to visit quite often but have neglected as of late for some reason. Oh well, not anymore! There is a fun little story to go with the recipe

It really is an easy recipe, though mine took quite a bit over the 1.5 hour bake time. It is really tasty on its own, and really, really tasty warmed with coffee the next day. Maybe make this on Christmas Eve for Christmas morning. Or Christmas Eve Eve if you are short on time. Either way, just make it!

Chopping the apples is the most time consuming part. I even used a wooden spoon to mix it all in a bowl (as I thought some one's mom would do it that way rather than using the stand mixer).

Half of the batter.

Then half of the apples. I might try to make another one before Christmas, but with the addition of cranberries. I'll let you know how it goes.

Repeat with the rest of the batter and then the second half of apples.

All done!
Since I was slicing it to pack up I just left it on the tube. You can see the layers of apples, and the smell of cinnamon is wonderful! So, so good! What are you making for Christmas morning?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Recycled Decorations: Pumpkin Puree

Remember when I posted about fall decorations that can last into Thanksgiving? Well, they have done their job, and now is the time to either put them to use or freeze them for later. Any winter squash will keep all winter long in a cool, dark place, but since these sugar pumpkins take up a bit more room than I want to share I went ahead and roasted and pureed them. It's one of those great jobs to do while you are doing other things.

The Turk's cap and blue Hubbard squash I'll save for some January soup.

(I realized way after I took the pictures how bad they were...a new camera may be coming in 2012)

The hardest part about roasting the pumpkin is cutting them in half. Once you do, scrape out the seeds (and rinse them for toasting).

Into the 425 degree oven they go, cut side down. Make sure you use a rimmed sheet or roasting pan, or something that will keep the juices from running all over your oven. I used a pie pan for the fourth piece because my teeny apartment stove has a teenier oven (I pretend I live in Paris, it's fine) and won't fit a full sheet. Le sigh! Bake them for 45-55 minutes, or until they are soft.

After they are cool enough to handle grab a spoon and scoop out the flesh. It scoops out like butter. Seriously. I let this one get a little brown, but it doesn't matter.

Then puree it in the food processor, easy as pie!

I measured it out into 1 cup (or almost 1 cup) portions to freeze and then pop into freezer bags. They will be perfect to grab for baking, or for making some pumpkin pasta!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Coming Soon...Magpie Vintage

At long last my pal Abs is getting a shop to call her own to house (and more importantly, sell) her wide ranging collections of awesome vintage, antique, and just plain chic items. Final tweaks are being made to displays, and a few of the last boxes are being unpacked, but the shop should be up and running JUST in time for last minute Christmas shopping. She will be taking the Historic Wells Street Corridor by storm!

Oh, and the prices are superb!

Here's a sneak peak! 

A painting to brighten any corner. Honestly, this is hanging in the darkest corner of the shop and it really does brighten it up.

Inspired by the French Chef, all of the kitchen gadgets are hung a la Child!

Not only do these items look great displayed in your kitchen, they actually work! Disclaimer- hands not included with the sifters.

Bring a little of No.3 Beekman Place to your home with these great framed accents from the Orient. Auntie Mame would approve! 

A pair of blushing vintage bar stools. Perfect for the kitchen counter or craft table!

An original painting of a studious young man found among a ton of random papers and prints from an auction house. He should be in one's study. (easel not for sale)

At Magpie Vintage there is ALWAYS a lot of bar accoutrement. 

This Mid-Century sofa will have your neighbors green (or teal) with envy! (the picture is quite awful, the couch is quite awesome)
Gifts for the people who have everything! I would buy this globe if I had a kid, so you better grab it before I put in the order for that baby I've been wanting!

Old cameras, a great typewriter, wonderful desk lamp. Put them on your shelf and they are guaranteed  to make you seem more interesting to strangers.

And this awesome scenic view table lamp thingy.

If I had a kid I would totally buy this, too. 

Great outfit for running errands, Lee Radziwill style!

If I had a baby I would...never mind.
And after a long day of running around after the kids, working in the kitchen, decorating like Mame Dennis, dressing like Lee Radziwill, stopping at the bar cart, consulting your globe, and typing recipe cards at your typewriter, Abs still has everything you need to get ready to look you best for when that special someone gets home.

Or for when you stare at the wonderful painting you brought home that really brightens up that corner.

Stay tuned for the opening date and store hours!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas at the Penthouse 2012

 Decorations have been up for several weeks, and at long last I ran around and took some pictures. As you know, I try to change things up a little every year, and I think I've succeeded somewhat. The bathroom looks pretty much the same as it has in the past, as does the kitchen, but the dining room has a different take on the usual woodland theme.

Take a look!

We found this little guy in a box in the attic. My mom thinks it belonged to my Great-Aunt Mary.

I used a lot of the extra glass balls that usually fill the various cloches and apothecary jars to make some swags for the sconces in the living room, spreading the red around.
The polar bears have finally made their appearance after a year in storage. I think they are pretty funny, though Guy says they look like marmots (although I'm not sure Guy really knows what a marmot looks like).

I forgot about these little tinsel lights I had stashed away.

More swags for the winter berry garland.
Extra ornaments and brass candle sticks on a tray.

I found this awesome old ornament in the attic the other day, as well.

My Grandma Norma and her sisters used to make these plaster plaques. They would decoupage the image on, and then, in this case, add glitter.

The usual dining room woodland theme gets punched up a bit with the addition of red ornaments and this awesome vintage tablecloth from "the Archives" (which is what my friend Abby and I call the things I don't want her to sell).

The little feather tree (an oldie from the Martha Stewart Everyday collection at K-Mart) still has all of the woodland creatures on it, but the addition of red all over in the dining room (instead of just gold and silver) really brightens things up.

Filled a porcelain bread basket (from the Martha Stewart Collection, natch) with even more glass pine cones and nuts. I had to search a bit to find little red ornaments that were actually glass. "Shatter Proof" seems to be the wave of the future, and I think they are dumb. I don't want plastic Christmas ornaments! 

The design on the cloth is actually a red poppy, but I think it lends itself to Christmas quite nicely.

And up atop the china cabinet? More creatures from the defunct Martha Stewart deal with Grandin Road.
I love this family of deer. 

Although the fawn looks a wee bit like a llama. 
I found some great prints by Julia Meek at the FWMoA gift shop a few weeks ago. One is of the Wolf and Dessauer Santa and reindeer. This one is of the wreath that once adorned the department store.

A winter berry wreath on the bookshelves. 

No little bird tree this year. They've all been incorporated around the apartment.

More color in the silver tree.

And more birds.
Last year it was mostly all hot pink and red. This year I added more of my older ornaments in green and white and blue. I love it, although I still might try the "old" tree next year. Or perhaps a real one...