The Discrete Pleasures of a Well-Dressed Dame!
While New Englanders sharpened up their snow shovels, I landed in San Francisco! I always forget what February can look like on the far coast. This tasty little tart greeted me and countless others at the San Francisco airport. Reminded me, once again, of how lame our Logan airport truly is! I was in the City-By-The-Bay to attend the gift show and to rub elbows with old and dear friends. With luck I might get a lay-about on a sandy beach, I might drink some fine California wine, and for sure I will eat tomatoes that are real! I love this part of the country with its yoga girls, their lycra-clad bodies, the tight little yoga mats tucked under their firm little arms. They all have blond hair, these girls…they never shovel snow, but they can do a yoga pose while waiting to cross any intersection. I wonder, when I arrive, why I ever left. And then later, I can’t wait to get back to New England and my red snow shovel, which spent the better part of February grafted to my right hand.
Tail of the Yak
A visit to California must include, for me, a trip to Berkeley to pay homage to this shop. It has held court in the very same spot for over forty years! I am ashamed to admit that I have been a fan for each of those years. (I know, you all thought I was barely thirty!) What Tail of the Yak does for display is remarkable. I was given permission to take photos and nearly swooned while doing so. When I got home, I realized it is like taking a “good” shot of the Grand Canyon…you need to be there to experience the place. One or even a dozen photos do not do it justice! Thank you Alice and staff for holding a high standard that each of us dreams to achieve!
Yep! Its a bit touristy, I know, but the flavors and the worn old signs and the commerce that goes on in this rather large area of San Francisco is truly perfect! Not one yoga mat tucked under a tender slim arm but lots of noodles and some shoving and a bit of dried fish wearing glassy eyes and some Chinese herbs. Perfect!
Chinese Herbs...As Promised!
We dipped into this herb shop where folks waited for their bundles of wellness. I pondered the local CVS and decided I prefer the herbs!
Warm Kale Caesar
I should add…Warm Kale Caesar with candied pecans and pumpkin croutons in a bacon-anchovy dressing! My oh my! The photo, taken by my friend after two glasses of fine wine, does not do this dish justice. I am mad about good food and some would say a tad too critical. Last night I dined at Black Trumpet Bistro in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. I went, with my friend John, to write the great American novel! A feat we hoped to accomplish in two days! We maybe wrote ten pages of which I could own, with-out shame, three lines! We stayed at the Ale House Inn, and we dined one night at Moxy on small plates of wonderful food along the line of Spanish tapas. The next night, we were swept away by what the Black Trumpet Bistro had to offer.
Thats it Darlings…no more journeys to San Francisco or New Hampshire! I will join Weight Watchers and find a lovely gentle trainer at the Hyde Park Y who likes my sense of humor and is ever so kind when I groan and complain!
Temple of Diana at Sonnenberg Gardens
You all have heard me wax on and on and on about Canandaigua, New York. Well, in early September just as those New York State apples were being plucked from the trees, I took a road trip with Dino and Rita Rose to stay with friends in Canandaigua. I must say I do adore this part of the world and owe it to myself to see the place in the dead of winter with barren trees, no farm stands, and a thin sheet of ice covering the roads. Maybe then I could give up a love affair for a place I would give gobs to live in. That is usually all it takes for me to fall out of love…a good thin sheet of ice does it every time!
My Favorite Room in the Sonnenberg Mansion!
I believe this must harken back to my rusty Nevada roots, but I do love a good laundry room. Now, mind you, the mansion had many grand and elegant rooms filled with all sorts of impressive swag, but I would take this laundry room anytime. If you haven’t been to the mansion and its gardens, you must go. Photos are allowed both inside and out…tell me, when was the last time you were in a museum and they allowed photos? The place is divine though it was used only two weeks a year as a summer residence. It was fully staffed (just like my own house!), hence the laundry room where me lady’s whites got a good press! I must have lived in another era for all of this to just feel so familiar.
Buddha Hands in the Japanese Garden
The estate has a number of gardens. My personal favorite was the Japanese Garden with its teahouse and miniature landscape and a Buddha beyond Buddhas…a grand and massive Buddha whose hands held this wilted little collection of posies.
Okay, I did shop for antiques when I wasn’t wandering the grounds of Sonnenberg or moving through the house pretending that this could and just might be my LITTLE two-week summer retreat. I found some treasures (not too surprising) in the antique collective that I love. Come by to see the small grouping of brooches that could be Mad Men material. Some are silver; one has a moonstone; a few are bad/good taste plastic from the 50′s. I found a painting on tin signed and in a lovely old worn frame. Such fun to add these items to 6 Birch Street.
John's Garden Bench
One week after upstate New York, I went with three fellow writers to John’s house in Provincetown, MA. You have heard endless bits about this place so I will try not to go into tedious detail here. I will tell you we wrote for two full days, and we drank wine and a few cocktails, and we made a dinner out of the garden that sits just in front of the above bench. John had swiss chard that one rarely sees in the farmers markets. We sauteed garlic and anchovies and carmalized onions and added the sturdy leaves (minus the stalk and vein) of the chard, which we cut in rather wide slices, then black olives cured in oil (minus their pits)…all of this in lovely olive oil. What a feast! Tomatoes from the garden with basil for a garni. We were beyond happy. A good bottle of Malbec to top it all off…tell me you had a better last Monday meal than I did…I doubt that is possible!
Monday Night's Dinner
Now the photo does not do this meal justice. In fact, it looks a bit like a dog’s lunch, but trust me, we ate every last bite without a single bark!
LOVE...Need I Say More?
A nearly unbelievable thing happened last week! We, with the help of two talented people, finally launched the on-line store. Swear to God, it was like giving birth or marrying the third and (one might assume) final time. I believe this little caper will be a whole lot more fun than another marriage and maybe less work than a new infant. I hope each of you visit the store a time or two…let me know what you might be longing to see/buy or dream to buy. The products will shift and change like the weather and with luck, I will learn to navigate this baby myself!
Wegmans Has Arrived!
A week ago, on a cold, wet, and windy Wednesday evening, I drove to hell and gone for a hit of Wegmans splendor! Last August, I discovered Wegmans on one of those capers to upstate New York. I was gob-smacked by the place and nearly fainted when I found they were coming to our neck of the woods. Well, Darlings…make your market list, fire up the auto, and head out for shopping the likes of which you have never experienced.
First, may I start with the service…something, by the way, our local rather large chain market (that will remain nameless) could use a wee bit of help with! I stopped into said nameless market a few weeks back for something called “Pickling Lime” to make my green tomato pickles, which were rapidly turning red while I waited at the “Service” desk for the young man to return with same…instead he brought back a packet of French Onion soup. The response at the “Service” counter was “No one pickles anymore.” That would NEVER happen at Wegmans!
The prices are terrific and the veggies are still-life inspirations suitable for an Italian master’s brush. There was a table of white cauliflower so sharply white that it reminded me of one of my wedding dresses! Head out the Mass Pike to 495 West, go a short distance to Rt. 9 West, and bingo you’re almost there!
In My Next Life!
This could well be me! Give me an open field, assorted boxes of goods to sell, a warm afternoon, and I swear to you this could be it. Perhaps without the cigarette…and maybe the mix of “treasures” would be slightly different, but I admired this woman’s complete love of the moment. I swatted away no-see-ums that dove up my nose when I breathed in or down my throat or took passage in my ears or circled my head and shoulders…not so for Donna! We talked some and she seemed to not be bothered with the little critters. I think it was the cigarette smoke that kept her at peace with all the best that Todds Field had to offer last Sunday!
A Favorite Table at Rowley
Why did I not buy this dog? I loved it enough to take more than one photo. I pondered how this dog reminded me of my childhood boston terrier (known in our Locust Street house as the Boston Terror.) His name was Bows and he arrived tucked into my Dad’s work-coat pocket. I can’t remember ever seeing a more adorable living thing! He peed on the carpet, tore apart the cover for my mother’s treasured mangle iron and pooped in hidden places like closets and on the tops of black patent leather Mary-Janes. And he did other things that divided the house into war zones. We loved him even on his most out-of-control days. Back then, no one ever heard of dog trainers or dog training unless, of course, you had a big ole black lab who could fetch fallen ducks filled with buckshot from the pond while the brave hunter stayed cozy and tucked into his duck blind. So Bows ruled the roost at 1065 Locust Street. I can’t believe I didn’t buy this little chalk dog!
Sunday's Gift of Veggies
After Rowley, the open field and the dog I didn’t buy…I worked at the store. A lovely young man came in…we chatted about veggies and pigs (which he raises), and then he laid on my desk this divine little stash of fresh veggies from the gardens out in Dover! Thank you to the handsome young man whose name I don’t remember.
Well...It Is Time To Vote Again!
How can I even suggest you go online (to the city voter Boston A list) and once again vote for the store? We won last year, and I feel a tad ashamed to suggest you vote for me again. I guess I have no shame!
We had such a great time with Lisa Occhipinti last week at her book signing in the store for “The Repurposed Library.” She wrote this lovely sentiment on her blog:
“Two days prior I was in Boston, Roslindale Village to be exact, for the book signing at Joanne Rossman which was more like a cocktail party (and we didn’t even have any cocktails!). Side note: I think anywhere Ms Joanne is becomes a cocktail party, she is simply and divinely fabulous. We were so busy with people that we ran 90 minutes over the event’s time!”
We wish Lisa the best!
This Says It All!
April Fools Day brought snow…heavy wet stuff that I didn’t have the desire to remove given that two weeks ago I tucked away anything that smacked of winter and/or snow removal. These nasty snow accessories had become commonplace items resting the full winter on my front porch. There was no way I was going to the basement to seek out their company once again!
The end of March and into the first week of April brought house guests (hence the photo). Folks from Denmark that I have known for a hundred years…old friends who are now old acquaintances, which is such a quaint word but fits the week nicely!
My friend John loaned me his delicious house in Provincetown. It was early in the week and the weather was divine. Mid-week, we took in the most recent exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem…if you haven’t been to see the private collection of Flemish art do so immediately! The Museum supplies a hand-held magnifing glass for closer inspection of each painting. What a treat!
Bauhaus Pink Balcony of the Gropius House
The last day of the Danish invasion, we went to the Walter Gropius house in Lincoln, MA. This is one of the Historic New England’s properties, and one I was quite certain I would not entirely enjoy. Wrong again! It was terrific and the Danes loved it also. We then wandered along the small roads of Lincoln, which remind me of why I love New England. When I dropped off the guests at their Icelandic Air Terminal and we said our final good-byes, I noticed the week’s accumulation of pug hairs on their chic black clothes…there might have been just enough of those stray little hairs to create a whole new pug suitable for Denmark!
Now I must set about with the beading for Rita Rose’s frock for the royal wedding! She has decided on Italian silk taffeta with a little nipped-in waist and an off-the-shoulder bodice with plenty of pug cleavage. Her chiffon shawl will have tiny silk rose petals and small seed pearls around the edge. That dog insists on a pair of Manolos for her hind feet, which are, to my mind, a bit too strappy and way too tarty for such an elegant event.
Cheers Darlings all and happy spring!
Sure Sign of Spring!
Well, look at that! Sheets out on the line and today at Forest Hill Cemetery I spotted my first Snowdrops. Can the real honest-to-God season of Spring be far behind? In my fantasy life, every March, I would get out my hot pants and the little strappy tank tops, and the open-toed 6″ weggies so I could strut my stuff when the temperature even looks like it might get to forty degrees! My fantasy life says these are the days when I think of lounging at the beach. (I don’t swim but I do know the art of lying about on a sand-free towel.) I think about long bike rides down tree-lined country roads in the south of France. (I own a black bike that has seen fewer miles than I care to admit, but it does have a chic little Nantucket basket attached to its handlebars.) It is good to have a fantasy life during the month of March!
Ana Sortun's Magic!
Last night I sat at Sofra watching Ana Sortun, chef and owner of Oleana in Cambridge and Sofra Bakery and Cafe also in Cambridge, give a cooking class on “One Pot Meals.” If you haven’t taken a class from Ana, you haven’t lived! I adore Oleana and Sofra; I adore cooking and eating…these classes have it all. Good wine, great food, and I leave the place well fed, clutching copies of four new recipes. Who could ask for more!
Life More Abundant
Well Darlings…the pugs took me back to Forest Hills this past Wednesday. The place still has that damn snow on the ground, but those two pugs Dino and Rita Rose have a passion about the walkways. Can’t say I blame them! I came upon this Victorian marker and thought it said it all…”Life More Abundant.”
The morning’s New York Times had page upon page of reported struggles complete with photos. It is hard to ignore and also to read of the pain that exists both in the Middle East and in our own part of the world. The owner of my little local gas station keeps a ladder under his sign now so he can scamper up as the price jumps a notch or two. It is difficult to chatter on about the unnecessary and irresistible goods at 6 Birch Street when the dreary cold month of March has arrived…add to that the world with all its over-throws and you got yourself a fine case of depression!
Which brings me to Life More Abundant…may I suggest:
#1 Hot bath by candlelight with something deliciously scented in the water (not your mate); #2 Cups of hot cocoa with heaps of whipped cream on top (screw the diet); #3 An afternoon movie or better still a morning movie matinee (leaving the dishes in the sink, the bed unmade, and the ring around the tub); #4 Pot luck suppers with folks you keep wanting to have over (don’t forget to add candlelight); #5 Curling up with your dog/cat/partner for an afternoon nap (draw the drapes and turn the clock around). I could go on but you get the drift…LIFE MORE ABUNDANT!
A Beauty on a Winter Day
Wish I had paid better attention to the name of this beauty. It was stunning even without a name. When winter has you in a funk, as this one has had most of us, take yourself to Wellesley College, leave your coat in that car you have just parked over there next to a snow bank. Now, dash for the Margaret C. Ferguson Greenhouse door. You will not need a coat in there, I assure you. It is damp and misty where you’re headed and best of all…heated! I took endless photos of leaves and plants and a fern grotto, while outside the greenhouse, snow banked up the glass window walls of this Victorian gem. Really, I was so sorry I didn’t bring my pajamas and a toothbrush to stay for an overnight.