It’s still dark outside my windows as I begin to write this, but bean soup is bubbling on the stove, onions, ham hocks, navy beans, peppercorns, bay leaves, carrots and celery, blip-blip-bubble-bubble — MUSICA
It will do this comforting thing for the next four hours, making the house smell like heaven, and warming things up to boot, which we could use. It’s 5° in New York City this morning, a new low, but for us, out here floating in the “warm” ocean, it’s a balmy 12º.
So it will be thick bean soup for breakfast, with hot crusty bread and butter.
And the wonderful news, for the first time since returning, I can say, I’ve got my house back!
I’ve been catching up with my housekeeping, cleaning out the dishtowel drawer, sending some to Good Will and refolding the rest; I cleaned the fridge, empied, wiped down and straightened the cupboard with all the baking things in it, sorted out my winter clothes and, best of all, I got all my paperwork done — my house clean, and sort of empty looking, smooth, like buttah.
Now I have a little housekeeping to do for the blog which involves you. (I’m sorry to say.)
I been waiting until you all had your calendars, to break this as gently as possible to as many of you at the same time as possible. Some of you may have already heard because it hasn’t been a secret, but this is my first formal announcement. Are you ready? Do you want the good news or the bad news?
OK, first the bad news. There is something wrong with this picture. This calendar did not receive its normal fine-tooth combing, it seems that we all thought someone else was editing it, but as it turns out, no one was. And, in real life, July has 31 days. Thirty-one, not thirty. Fine, I suppose, unless your birthday is on the 31st. And whether or not it’s your birthday, it’s still unacceptable to be missing a day on a calendar. Other places maybe, but not on a calendar. These calendars had already been in stores for weeks before we found out about it. It was gone. So what to do, what to do! First I did this:
And then we faced reality . . .
Here’s what your calendar should have looked like. And, now, through the magic of the Internet, it can. Because Kellee has reformatted that corner of the calendar and made a pdf for us that we can print out and glue on to our own calendars and it fits perfectly! Above is a photo of my calendar and that’s the “fix” already glued on. At a glance, you really can’t tell — and it’s so easy to do. Go HERE to read more about it. And please accept my sincere apology … you have every right to expect more from me. Now for the good news:
I’ve done the cover for our next year’s calendar, and now that the house is clean and organized, I’m about to seal myself inside my studio and paint and write us a bunch of new pages for it . . . the good news is that you can be sure I will check this calendar over a thousand times before it ever goes to print! Living and learning.
And on to something a bit more fun . . . Remember that interview I did a couple of weeks ago for the January/February issue of a new (ish) magazine called CELEBRATING EVERYDAY LIFE?
Well, it was just published . . . it’s a delightful magazine filled with wonderful photos put together by hardworking mom of two-year-old (how does she do it?), Jennifer Carroll (and friends) — you can read more about her on her blog. You can get her magazine in all kinds of formats, digital, for iPad or even a print edition . . . and you’ll see, it’s filled with inspiration for easy projects, arm chair travels (in this issue they go to Chatsworth House ~ remember Chatsworth, girls?), cooking and so much more.
I thought you’d like a little preview . . . to see if it’s something that would interest you. I also wanted to thank her, she did a lovely job with my article . . .
Next bit of housekeeping, look at new thing that just came in yesterday . . .
It’s an I Love You Tea Towel for Valentine’s Day, or any day where there’s LOVE involved. It has a story: The art on the tea towel is one of the crayon drawings I did as a child that my mom tucked into my Baby Book and saved. I was in the fourth grade when I did this. It’s the first picture I ever did where there were birds. And hearts. And I was learning how many different ways I could write I Love You. We thought it would make the perfect dishtowel. So here it is ~ and the same lovely fabric and quality as our Come Sit Stay Tea Towels and Santa dishtowels. They’re made in the good old USA; we weren’t able to get many, so please don’t wait if you think you will want one.
We also have two kinds of Valentines . . . not only for Valentines, but for all year long, every picture tells a story.
Plus, we still have a few of our Girlfriends Dream Charms left, just in case you want one for Valentine’s, we’re probably not going to make more … We’re thinking Kitty Love might be next.
And most wonderfully, Janie is making us two new garlandy, festooning, bunting-like banners, HEARTS and LOVE . . .
She sent along some photos, they both come with her darling handmade envelopes, and a little card so you can send them to someone you love. Perfect little gift.
So, that’s it for your Valentine’s preview for today.
But I had something else I wanted to show you. Part of my housekeeping was putting Christmas away, packing it all up and sending it to the attic. While I was doing it I found this little box that I see every year ~ it’s mixed in with all the ornaments, so we unpack it, then pack it back up, and between Christmases, we forget about it. I love finding it, like new again every time, and I thought you’d enjoy seeing it.
Just a plain little box I’ve been saving. With a message on it. It’s already eighteen years old but it seems just like yesterday. (Have I mentioned that this house is wafting fragrance of bean soup now … ? It is!)
Inside the box is this little angel ornament . . . along with a few photos. There’s all kinds of “scrapbooking” in this world, but we creative-types aren’t limited to books, we can branch out to boxes too. Scrapboxing.
This is Heidi. She’s my niece, my brother Brad’s daughter. She is wearing the wings we gave her for her birthday. They fit her to a ‘T’ because she was born to flit. The moment she got her wings, she turned into Tinkerbelle and took off around the house scattering fairy dust behind her, spreading merriment throughout. That’s why we got the little angel ornament for her the year she came to our house for Christmas. It reminded us of her.
This is another one of the photos in the box. She was on a roll that year. She made up outfits like this, wearing my hat, her own kitty sweater and furry boots, and she loved to pose. She was the only child that year amongst a lot of adults, and she kept us all laughing the whole time. When my brother and his wife were dancing, Heidi wrapped herself, arms and legs around the ankle of my sister-in-law, sitting on her shoe, holding tight and going for a ride during the dance, making us cry from laughter. She never complained, never cried, was just truly nice the whole time. Luckily every bit of it is on tape. She will get that someday too. She needs to know what a delight she was to have around.
Not a great photo, but I wrote on the bottom of the Angel. It will go on her tree someday. I’m just waiting for her to be settled down before I give it to her. She’s 23 and living in Lake Tahoe, and something tells me she will see this, so Hi Heidi! She doesn’t know about this Christmas box. I guess she will now.
This is the recipe scrapbox I made for Heidi last Christmas. See that photo? That’s from the same year — she’s pulled down a normal Santa hat that had split open at the seam — which is where her face is sticking through The bottom furry part of the hat is around her neck. This is what she was wearing when she was clinging to my sister-in-law’s leg, and one of the reasons we were crying.
So anyway, I still have a few years before I give it to her, but it’s fun to find the box every year when we take out our decorations and remember that wonderful Christmas. One of these years when I bring it out, I’ll wrap it up and send it to her.
I’ve also been wanting to write about my “Unforgettable Faces of 2013” and I will soon, but I want to start today with a furry face that I love. Many of you know her,
. . . it’s Iris, ♥ I’ve had photos of Iris on my blog since the beginning. She was a wonderful dog ~ I’m so sorry to say, “was,” but Iris went to heaven this year while Joe and I were driving across country. She wasn’t our dog, she belonged to my girlfriend across the street, Martha, who wrote to tell us that Iris hadn’t been able to wait for us to return. I was afraid of that.
This was one of the first times I wrote about Iris on the blog. Whenever she could make her escape from Martha’s she loved to come over to our house. We would hear just one bark. That’s it, one bark, and we knew she was waiting at the door.
Martha and her husband Gerry (and their daughter Anna) once lived in our house for a year while we were in California and they were remodeling their own house. Iris adopted the house first, and then, when we came back, she was forced to take us too. Lucky us.
She was dear, she even put up with our kitties, she had a beautiful smile, and she never wanted to cause any trouble.
“Meow” means “woof,” in cat. ♥ George Carlin
She tried to pretend she was invisible so I wouldn’t notice her on the white sofa, but what the hay is what I always thought. Little old girl can get on the sofa if she wants.
This is Iris’s cookie face. Cookie? Yes, please, can I have eight? (Notice cat food on floor? She never touched it.)
The snore room.
This is Iris last Christmas 2012. As beautiful as always.
We will miss her very much. We were honored to be her friends, she made life better. ♥
I knew you would want to know.
P.S. This is an add-on to this post: Yesterday I got a note from Iris’s dad Gerry telling me about something very sweet that happened recently. He wrote:
Out of the mouths of babes. ♥
If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went. ♥ Will Rogers
OK, sniff-sniff, I’m hungry now . . .
Soup is done, or at least close enough for snacking. Soup and my favorite shawl, two perfect items on a day like today. Here’s how to make the soup:
COLD DAY BEAN SOUP, Serves six
- 1 ½ lbs. smoked ham hocks
- 1 lb. package small white beans
- 3 sliced carrots
- 3 stalks celery, sliced
- 2 med. onions, chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- whole peppercorns (about 14)
- water to cover
- salt and pepper to taste
Put everything (except salt and pepper to taste) into a soup pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer partially covered for 3-4 hours, stirring every so often. It will get very thick, add water if necessary. After two hours or so, remove the ham hocks from the soup, cool them. Cut the meat off the bone, discard the fat, return meat and bones to the pot to finish cooking time. When you’re ready to serve, remove the bones and bay leaves, stir in salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Adios dear Girlfriends . . . I hope you’re keeping warm!