May 15, 2011

It Was Under My Nose the Entire Time

I've had a hard time finding the right things to go in the china cabinet in our dining room and I had been meaning to dig out the boxes of china and silver I got from my Grandparents on my mom's side and my mom's Depression glass. I figured maybe there was a unique or pretty piece or two that I could use. I've used the Depression glass a lot over the years but the china kept moving from house to house and never left its boxes. I finally got around to it today and dug out some treasures I didn't have much appreciation for a decade ago.

Turns out Grandma and Grandpa Bell had a very popular set of Haviland & Co. china from Limoges France. Just my luck to be sitting on this little gem for the last 10 years. I did try to use it once but there weren't enough pieces to go around so back in the box it went and there it stayed. Of course after my rediscovery of the china this afternoon I went straight to Google and this appears to be the Ranson pattern with scalloped edge and gold trim. Schleiger No. 1, Blank #24. Circa 1894-1931. Turns out Haviland made some 60,000 patterns, and this was the most popular, crazy. I don't know if you consider it "French" because the Haviland's were Americans that began producing their china in Limoges in American style which the French didn't much appreciate.

1 serving platter, 5 monogrammed Luncheon plates, 11 Salad plates, 
5 Bread and Butter plates, 8 cups & saucers

I wonder if my grandparents got this china from someone else. It is a very incomplete set, doesn't even have dinner plates (or was that the norm?) I don't know that the monogram looks like a "B" (for Bell) and it was produced before they even got out of high school. I will probably never know the story here unless my Uncle Chuck remembers because I never knew anyone on my mom's side of the family except my grandparents, my mom and my uncle. I don't know if I didn't ask any questions growing up because I was a self centered brat or because it didn't occur to me there was anyone else outside of our little circle or because we weren't really the sit down and talk it out kind of family. 

I don't remember my grandparents talking about their families. There were no pictures. I know there was a falling out on my grandpa's side and I remember towards the end of his life he mentioned to me in passing that he ran into his sister at the bank one day like it was nothing and I remember saying, you have a sister and she's alive and lives in Algonac??? His father was a baker. My grandpa worked for Chris-Craft for over 40 years and when he retired, he told me later, all they gave me was a damn watch! (a Rolex that he never wore). My grandma died my first year in college so I didn't spend nearly the time with her that I did with my grandpa. I don't remember ever hearing a single thing about her family or her growing up. I think she went to college, I know she drove a school bus once, and she made the most perfect sandwiches cut into triangles, always with butter on the bread.

What letter does this look like to you? 
It is barely legible on 2 of the plates and completely gone on the rest.
Update: the monogrammed plates are slightly different than the rest of the set
The gold does not go all the way around the rim and they only have Mark I in green
The backmarks (Mark I and Mark c)
"For H. Watson & Company" is on just one of the plates
 11" oval serving platter
tea cup and saucer
 2 other Haviland Luncheon plates, not sure the pattern yet

Will this mystery ever be solved? Doubt it. Such is life. I feel like I don't have a lot of history having had no contact with many people outside of my immediate family and having lost almost everyone at a young age. There are so many things I wish I had asked my grandparents, my mom, my dad...don't make the same mistake if it is not too late. My mom's Depression glass sat in the same cupboard in our house, above the fridge, my entire life. I don't remember her ever using it. Where did she get it from? Did she love it? Why didn't she use it? The history of her glass isn't that important, just another question that will go unanswered. It's beautiful. I love it. I use it, but I think I will start using it more.

May 13, 2011

Sew Baby Sew!

Alternate post titles:

The Sewing Project 
The DIY Chevron Rug Project 
The Most Expensive DIY Project Ever

This rug was just the excuse my crafty little friends needed to talk me into getting a sewing machine. After many "you can do it!" posts on facebook and a strong recommendation from Pickel, I bought this bad boy from Costco for $150 and set up shop on my yet to be refinished vanity. The Craigslist wingback came in handy as a chair, well, more of a throne really. Total overkill. 
Last weekend I took a beginning sewing class with my friend Chelsea at this perfect new fabric shop near my house. It was fun but sewing is a little stressful. There are so many things to learn and remember. I think I'm going to paste a sign on my machine that says DON'T FORGET TO BACKSTITCH!!! We made super cute little tote bags, impractical, but cute. The machines in class were 99% like the one I bought so I knew exactly how to set it up which was a major bonus. I came armed with green juice and a notepad. And Marc Jacobs. duh 

class at Fabric Bliss in Denver
we started with the handles
top stitch, I loved this part
then there was a bunch of cutting and pinning and sewing of which I did not take photos
until the gussets, because I figured I wouldn't remember how to do this part
looking back at the photos I still can't quite remember
double pins to mark the hole so I didn't sew the bag shut
I'm still not fully sure how the heck things were all inside out and something about right sides and wrong sides and then straps were stuffed in and sewed and then everything was pulled right side out through a little hole and then VOILA! I had a bag. I can't for the life of me figure out how that happened. Every part about it was counter intuitive. How did that happen? It's like a frickin magic trick. And I still haven't figured out how it works.

Chelsea's bag was so cute, I should have taken a pic of the inside
the outside was a home dec fabric by Ty Pennington
 3 hours and $250 later...I had a bag
Amy Butler on the outside
chevron rug, here I come...
Assuming you know how to sew you could whip up a 5'x8' chevron rug for about $50
My rug is going to cost just a weeee bit more

Risotto Style Pasta with Goat Cheese

OMG! I've made this pasta a couple of times but it has been awhile since we've had it. I have a bunch of the Food & Wine magazine cookbooks because of some stupid Amex deal and they kept coming in the mail year after year before I finally cancelled. I made their Creamy Pasta with Tomato Confit and Fresh Goat Cheese a few years ago, it's so rich that it is more of a once a year dinner, not something you make on a regular basis. It is so good. So good! I love cooking pasta risotto style. Well, I love eating it, cooking it is a total pain in the ass. Seriously, you want me to stir constantly for like 30 minutes??? How do you expect me to chop herbs and shred cheese if I'm stirring the entire time? Here is another absorption style pasta, perfect for spring/summer. Not quite as heavy.

I love that fresh herbs are back in season. I probably put triple the basil on the pasta tonight just because I could. I picked up two giant basil plants at Whole Foods today for $5 each. That's cheaper than buying a little pack of cut basil. I bought the same plants last year and they grew into 4 foot tall bushes. Endless basil, swoon!

The online recipe recommends pairing this meal with a Cabernet Franc but my cookbook recommends a Barbera D'Asti. I bought a few bottles the first time I made this and forgot I had one bottle left so it really mellowed out, it was the perfect match - 2006 Italian Barbera D'Asti by producer Michele Chiarlo. I don't remember it being too expensive and it wasn't super hard to find.

Recipe from Food & Wine
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, for poaching
3 plum tomatoes—peeled, quartered and seeded
2 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
Kosher salt
1/2 pound ditalini or other small-cut pasta (1 1/2 cups)
3 1/2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1/2 cup soft fresh goat cheese (4 ounces)
1/2 cup tightly packed freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (2 1/2 ounces), plus more for serving
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons snipped chives
2 tablespoons finely shredded basil leaves

1. In a medium saucepan, combine the olive oil with the tomatoes, thyme, bay leaf and half of the garlic and bring to a simmer. Cook over low heat until the tomatoes are very tender, about 15 minutes. Discard the thyme and bay leaf. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes to a work surface and coarsely chop them; reserve the olive oil for another use.

2. In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, 5 minutes. Add the pasta and cook, stirring, until golden in spots, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining garlic; cook for 1 minute.

3. Add 1/2 cup of the chicken stock to the pasta and cook over moderately high heat, stirring constantly, until nearly absorbed. Continue adding the chicken stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring and cooking until it is nearly absorbed between additions. The pasta is done when it is al dente and suspended in a lightly thickened sauce, about 17 minutes total. (mine went about 25+, altitude probably)
4. Stir the tomatoes into the pasta. Off the heat, add the goat cheese and Parmigiano-Reggiano and stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper, stir in the chives and basil and serve right away, passing additional Parmigiano-Reggiano at the table.

May 4, 2011


One of the perks of working from home, I get to hear Cooper snore as I work
And watch Spring making its way to our park
more Windows here

May 2, 2011

Post Travel Detox

Most of you know that I've been traveling for work most of the last 8 weeks (because I've been complaining about it non stop on facebook, sorry). I've been going coast to coast between rural Virginia and San Francisco with a last minute trip to Hawaii thrown in for good measure and it has done a real number on my healthy habits.

Workouts have been few and far between and eating has not been great. I'm not getting enough sleep and I've been working until all hours of the night. It has gotten me way off my routine. When I do get a good workout in I'm super sore for 3 days afterwards. I haven't done yoga in well over two months and I'm pretty sure as a result my Achilles tendons might just snap and roll up in the back of my calf muscles. The good news is I walk a lot at work, throw 20lb cases of Pepsi around, duck under conveyors 50 times a day, etc. And I was pretty faithful on doing 20 push-ups every day (military style, not girl push-ups) but I've slacked off on that lately.

I've been preaching for years that you can eat well no matter what if you make the commitment, and if you think you can't you are just making up excuses. You can always make good choices if you want to. That was until I spent 4 weeks in a small town in Virginia. I won't make excuses but it certainly wasn't easy and I didn't make good choices. The choices here are limited and it shows, the obesity epidemic in these parts is startling. To top it off I've been working 15+ hours a day every day...ok, I'm starting to make some excuses, you get the picture. Just saw a blog post today with a few tips on staying healthy when you are busy busy busy.

I've posted  on this topic a lot so I won't bore you with the details. Did you read CrazySexyDiet yet? I think this woman (and others like her) are totally onto something. Food is your medicine. It's your pharmacy. I've been reading a lot about how a healthy vegetarian/vegan lifestyle can reverse heart disease and type 2 diabetes and stop some cancer progressions. With all this talk of health care, I've never understood why we are spending all this time and money on treating disease yet so little effort on PREVENTION!!! Most doctors won't give people the cold hard truth because they think if their advice is too hard to follow or too different from the norm then people won't listen. Does that sound okay to you? Just like at work, a good preventative maintenance plan is key. So for the next two weeks I will eat real food, mostly raw, vegan, no processed foods, no coffee or booze, logs of green juice, etc. I'll finally have time to myself and time to workout. I need to get all this Bob Evans and Applebee's out of my system ASAP.

Want to join me?

And yes, I know I write about being vegan and juicing as well as eating croissants and braised beef...I'm as conflicted as the next person, trying to find a balance and make good choices more times than not.

RECIPES (I've posted these before):

GREEN LEMONADE (The Raw Food Detox Diet) - love it!

1 head romaine or celery (I never use celery, red/green leaf lettuce good too)
5-6 stalks of kale
(any greens in place of kale - chard, collards, spinach, cucumber, etc as long as some dark leafy greens, mix it up, don't do the same greens day after day for too long)
1-2 apples
1 lemon (peel it)
1" fresh ginger (optional)
Juice everything together


5 servings
5 romaine leaves
5T raw almond butter
5t raw honey
Put 1T almond butter and 1t honey on each piece of romaine. Wrap up and enjoy!

CUCUMBER, BASIL and LIME JUICE (GOOP) - this is my favorite!
SERVES: 1 (I double it)
Starting with the basil, juice everything into a glass, give it a stir and enjoy.

1/2 cup fresh basil
1 English cucumber (I use regular cukes, organic)
1/2 lime, zest and pith removed
1 apple

*apples, cukes, etc should be organic or you may want to peel them

previous cleanse posts here

May 1, 2011

Bourbon Steak

I had a great dinner in San Francisco on one of my recent trips. Actually got the chance to break away from work and head into the city. Parking was Ba-nanas!!! I hate when parking and traffic become a deterrent for doing something fun.

another Michael Mina restaurant
 a trio of fries to start off the meal - seriously?
much better than a bread basket
 the perfect little salad with quail eggs and pancetta
I'm sure you can guess what my entree was...beef short rib
 I don't normally eat dessert...
 but the pineapple upside down cake had me at "hello"
 located in the beautiful St. Francis hotel
the ceilings and chandeliers were incredible
a quick walk around Union Square afterwards
I ♥ San Francisco


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