Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Gumnut Babies ~

A few days ago I found a small branch from an oak tree lying in my driveway. The leaves were still bright green and it had tiny little acorns on it, with their caps still firmly attached. Coincidentally, a friend of mine wrote to me the next day about the same thing, and asked if I'd ever heard of Gumnut Babies. I hadn't. These delightful characters are the creation of Australian children's author, illustrator, and cartoonist May Gibbs (1877 - 1969). Born in the United Kingdom, Gibbs moved to Australia with her family when she was a young child. She fell in love with the Australian bush, where she would ride her pony and let her imagination soar. Her imaginative interpretation of the bush greatly influenced her later work. Gibbs first book featuring the Gumnut Babies was published in 1916, followed by several other works featuring the characters. Her most famous was published in 1918, and titled "Snugglepot and Cuddlepie." May Gibbs also created two comic strips, Bib and Bub and Twiggy Touchwood. They were published in Australia and New Zealand. Enjoy!

One of my favorites! A Gumnut Babies' party!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Antique Tea Accoutrements

I love these silver antique tea strainers. Although I usually use tea bags, I think they're beautiful. Tea strainers are made of sterling silver, stainless steele or fine china. Tea is one of the world's oldest beverages, and today is the second most popular beverage, next to water. I love that the whole process of "tea time" is so ceremonial that it requires special accoutrements. Even if one doesn't own fancy tea strainers or teapots, most people who are confirmed tea drinkers have their own special cups or mugs and a favorite "routine" of preparing and savoring tea.
It's believed that tea dates to 2737 BC in China, when it was first used for medicinal purposes. Around 780 AD, a Chinese scholar named Lu Yu documented his twenty-year research on tea, which helped elevate it, and the "art" of drinking tea was born.

Antique Chinese copper teapot

18th Century Porcelain Chinese Teapot

Tea was not introduced in England until the mid-17th century. It was actually first offered in London's coffee houses, but by 1750 it had become the favored drink of many. The custom of "afternoon tea" is said to have started with Anna, 7th Duchess of Bedford. She enjoyed having tea in late afternoon between lunch and dinner, as dinner was often not served until 8:00pm or later. The custom caught on, and through the years "high tea" in the late afternoon became the main meal of the day for the working classes of England.  Today, "tea" is still the evening meal in England, which most Americans refer to as "dinner."
Vintage English teapots

Georgian Sterling Silver English Teapot

1786 George III antique silver English teapot

The British brought their love of tea with them to America and by the mid-1700s, loose-leaf tea was the most popular drink consumed in the Colonies. The tea bag was introduced at the beginning of the 20th century, and with it, an increase in the popularity of tea, most likely due to the convenience. Prior to that, a tea infuser, sometimes called a tea ball or tea egg, was another method of steeping the tea leaves in the pot or cup.

Until next time ~ take time out from your busy week to remember: "Tea is a cup of life!"

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Country Farm Stand/ Fried Green Tomatoes Recipe

My sister and I stopped at a country roadside farm stand today. I love the sight and smell of all those colorful fruits and vegetables - all natural, organic, straight off the vine! Here's a sampling of what we saw:

Baskets and baskets of ripe, juicy tomatoes
 ...and more tomatoes
Heirloom "Cherokee Purple" tomatoes
and more peppers!
Green tomatoes

Fried green tomatoes are a traditional southern dish. Although I was raised in northern Ohio, my parents were from the south, so I grew up eating them. They weren't one of my favorites as a child, but later in life, I started to appreciate their tart crispiness. There's definitely a "trick" to getting them just right and my Mom's were the best! I confess - I've never made them myself, but I bought some green tomatoes at the market today and I'm going to try it. I'll let you know how they turn out! For now...here's a picture of how they're suppose to look and my Mom's original recipe. Fried Green Tomatoes aren't exactly diet fare, but served as a side dish with other southern favorites like green beans and ham and cornbread ~ ah, a little peice of Heaven!

If you can, use fine white cornmeal, which is the primary cornmeal used in the South. Buttermilk adds flavor and tang, but is optional, as regular milk works just as well. 

  • 3 medium, firm green tomatoes
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup milk or buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
 Cut unpeeled tomatoes into 1/2 inch slices. Sprinkle the slices with a little salt.  Place the flour a in separate shallow bowl. Then combine the bread crumbs and cornmeal in a separate bowl and the egg and buttermilk (or milk) in another bowl.

Heat the oil in a skillet on medium high heat (you want the oil pretty hot.) Beat the egg and the buttermilk together. Dip tomato slices in the flour, then buttermilk-egg mixture, then the cornmeal-bread crumb mix (some people use cornmeal only and skip the bread crumbs.) In the skillet, fry half of the coated tomato slices at a time, for 3-5 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Set the cooked tomatoes on paper towels to drain. Enjoy!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Walking the Golden Gate Bridge

Today I've been thinking about the time my friend Jeannette and I took a day trip to San Francisco and walked across the 1.7-mile long Golden Gate Bridge. Here's a shot of the bridge from the Marin County/Sausalito side.

A close-up look at the walkway on the bridge.

Designed by Irving Morrow, he is also credited with choosing the bridge's trademark bright orange, a color now known as International Orange. I love the bridge's Art Deco style. At 746 feet above the ocean, it's difficult to imagine just how large this bridge is without actually seeing it.  Walking across it is an exhilarating experience!

After our walk across the bridge, Jeannette and I headed to Stinson Beach, which is reached via the winding, steep, narrow Highway 1 (Pacific Coast Highway.)  In some areas, the mountains hug one side of the roadway, as cliffs drop off on the other side into the Pacific Ocean.

The road to Stinson Beach

Stinson Beach is a tiny village approximately 20 miles north of San Francisco. It's fairly secluded and has 3.5 miles of beach for walking, kite flying, sunning, and beachcombing. I found a huge piece of gnarled, weathered-grey driftwood that I fell in love with - so, of course, we dragged it back to her truck, laughing and giggling all the way!  I displayed the driftwood in my home for years - until I moved to Ohio and couldn't figure out a way to ship it!  Fun memories!

  The village of Stinson Beach

Happy 75th Anniversary Golden Gate Bridge, on May 27, 2012! Thanks for the memories!

Until next time,

All photos courtesy Google Images

Friday, August 12, 2011

~ Afternoon Tea ~

"There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea." ~Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady

Afternoon Tea,1880, Marie Bracquemond, French (1840-1916)

Five 'O Clock Tea, 1880, Mary Cassatt, American (1844-1926)
Cassatt lived most of her adult life in France

The Cup of Tea, 1879, Mary Cassatt, American (1844-1826)

Tea, Frederick Carl Frieske, American (1874-1939)
Frieseke resided in Giverny, France for fourteen years

Tea Table in the Garden, 1925, Esther Borough Johnson, British

 Private Thoughts, Joe Bowler, American (1928- )

Afternoon Tea, Everett Lloyd Bryant, American (1864 – 1945)

In the Spring, Harold Knight, British (1874-1961)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Antique Tea Tins ~

Hello everyone! I thought I'd share these antique/vintage tea tins with you today. Not only were they practical, but also lovely works of art! As someone who loves tea, they're fun to collect and display on a shelf, but I'm sure there's lots of other uses for them also. Of course, they can still be used to stash your tea, too! Another treasure to look for in the antique shops and thrift stores!

English tea tins, circa 1870

 Floral tea tin with embossed roses

Lipton's Tea Merchants, circa 1920s

Uneeda Tea, circa 1920s

 Tetley's India & Ceylon Tea, circa 1920s

Stag's Head Tea, circa 1920s

Chinese tea tin, circa early 1900s

Here someone used tea tins for a flower display! I love it! Until next time ~ enjoy!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Hydrangeas...Beautiful Hydrangeas

One of my favorite flowers, hydrangeas come in shades of deep blue, purple, red, pink and white. Some start out as one color and gradually fade to another. The deep blue ones are my absolute favorite! They're one of the best ever flowers for drying, as their large, round shape holds up well and makes them perfect for flower arranging, or just gathered in a pretty basket or vase. When dried, their bright, fresh colors naturally soften to muted pastels and a lovely, "old ivory" color.  Hydrangeas come in two varieties; mophead, where the flowerheads are very large and round, and lacecap, which has a more flat flowerhead, resembling lace (as the name implies.) For instructions on how to dry hydrangeas naturally, click HERE  I warn you, however, growing them can become addictive!

Painting by American Artist Cindy Procious
There is something so romantic and old-fashioned about hydrangeas, they make incredibly lovely wedding bouquets. Alone, or added with white roses, white callas or white stock - stunning!

Dried hydrangeas also look especially good with shabby chic-style decorating.

Thanks for visiting! Until next time, have a wonderful day!

All photos courtesy: Google Images


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