Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tea with Susan Branch

This afternoon, I watched the movie, Julie and Julia. Am I the last blogger to see this movie? I think so. The Netflix DVD had been sitting on the table unopened for about 3 weeks so it was time.

The weather was snowy and windy. It was a perfect day to stay indoors and watch this movie with my mom at her nursing home.

As most of you know, in the movie Julie Powell loves to cook and Julia Child is her inspiration. So, Julie decides she will make every recipe in Julia's cookbook in 1 year. Julie also has hopes of meeting Julia in person.

I thought about a similar situation in my own life. Well, it's not all that similar but I'll tell you anyway. I collect Susan Branch cookbooks and I've made some of the recipes in them. They're more than just cookbooks to me. I love to look at Susan's artwork and read the quotes and read about the seasons in New England (even though I live here I still like to read about it). I had always hoped to meet Susan. After all, she lives part of the year in Martha's Vineyard and I live in the same state! So Susan inspires me like Julia inspired Julie.

I mentioned before that I am a member of an afternoon tea group. In November of 2007, two of our members, Pauline and Heather, arranged for the group to go to tea in Plymouth, Massachusetts. First, we were going to a bookstore in Plymouth where Susan Branch was doing a book signing then we would have tea at a tearoom in town. I was so excited, I was going to meet Susan Branch!

Susan gave a little talk before the booksigning and she was exactly as I hoped she'd be. She was funny and sincere and so unaffected by her success. She was upbeat and approachable. I loved hearing some of her life stories.

She spoke to each person who had a book to sign as if they were the only ones in the room. She didn't rush anyone, she listened to people tell her their stories.

Here's my friend Deborah getting my Christmas memories book signed by Susan. Susan did a little drawing of a holly leaf and signed her name. See she's looking at me saying oh this is your book? I had been standing at the side of the table furiously snapping photos of everyone in our group who posed with Susan. I was probably quite the pest but if Susan was annoyed she didn't let it show.

Susan had some of her friends with her that day. This is Margot. I love her sense of style. Margot was also very friendly and down to earth.

Susan posed for photos with everyone. The signing took over 2 hours. Lisa and Erica were happy to take a photo with Susan.

Roberta had her sign a few books.

After the booksigning, we went for tea. I wish I could remember the name of the tearoom. Anyway, it was lovely. Great food and the owners were so accomodating. Pauline told us she had asked Susan and her friends to join us for tea and they said they would! We were all so excited to have tea with Susan and her friends.

Here's Deborah, me and Kim.

I always take a picture of the tea tray. My friend Karen and I are the photographers of the group so we have a rule: when going to a tea, you must always take a picture of the tearoom or home, the teatray and a group shot. So there's the teatray with all the yummy treats.

It was Heather's birthday so we had to have cake too. It was a fattening day what can I say?

Here's Susan having tea with Amanda, Lisa, and Erica.

Back to the movie Julia and Julie, obviously Julie did very well after her year of cooking and blogging. They made a movie out of her story. I don't plan on anyone making a movie about me and my experiences but at least I got to meet someone who inspires me. That's a highlight in my life. (Now don't expect me to make all of Susan's recipes in the next year).
I do, however, plan to make Susan's baked apple crisp soon.

Now scroll back to the beginning to see the group shot! It was an afternoon to remember for our tea group.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Design Dilemma

I just did my taxes and yippee, I'm getting a refund! So I thought it might be time to address the issue of my living room windows, specifically the fact that I need drapes or some type of covering. As you can see, there are three windows and they are fairly close together.

Right now, there are just blinds on the windows. I don't like blinds but they
serve their purpose. I'm not sure what to do to make the room look more cozy
and stylish.

I really like the mouldings so I don't want to cover them up completely. So what would you do? Any ideas from my blogging friends would be greatly appreciated.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Olympic Memories

The first time I watched the Olympics was in 1972. My dad called me into the living room. "Lainey, come look." He was watching the figure skating competition and Janet Lynn was performing. "Isn't she beautiful?", he said.

She was radiant, gliding over the ice effortlessy, big smile on her face, I was mesmerized and I became totally hooked on figure skating.

Fast forward sixteen years to 1988. The Winter Olympics were to be held in Calgary. Canada is not that far from New England! I signed a reservation form for 2 sets of tickets and my sister and I made our plans. We picked 11 events. We were going to see several figure skating events, ski jumping, hockey, and a bobsled event. Would you believe the whole ticket package was only $325? This was before the days of exhorbitant ticket prices.

We got paired with a Canadian family for a Homestay program for $25 a night, bed and board. It turned out the family was originally from England. What a lovely couple,they took us touring on days we didn't have events and gave us meals for no charge. We even had the bottom floor of their house as our own little apartment. They were like family to us.

Although they lived in Calgary, they were not able to get tickets to any events. There was a lottery for local residents and they didn't win. The wife had sewn some of the costumes for the Opening Ceremonies and still no tickets. The husband was an avid hockey fan so we gave him our hockey tickets for one of the games.

Here's the program. Yes, that is my chair from the original Boston Garden but that's for another post.

I kept a copy of the final standings. These were printed for each competition.

We bought some photos from the Calgary newspaper. This is Liz Manley, a surprise medal winner in ladies figure skating. She was from Canada so the country was ecstatic that she won.

Brian Boitano took the gold for the men. We were overjoyed to see his spectacular performance. His warmup was scary and we were worried he would not do well.

Here's my sister at the Saddledome, a very cool arena. You can see the Calgary skyline in the background. Look at her 1980's big hair!

My sister took this photo of the leading Russian ice dancing Team.

Another photo by my sister of Liz Manley at the exhibition of champions.

This is Peggy Fleming and Dick Button. We had phenomenal seats for the men's event.
We had a clear shot of the ABC booth. I swear we got our tickets upgraded because of an incident with the reservation form. It seems the Canadian ticketing manager was doing something fraudulent with the American requests for tickets. I don't remember the whole story but they impounded my personal check and I never got it back. I received a letter saying it was evidence in a court case. I didn't care, we were in something like the second row for the men's long program. In fact, if you watch a video of that event you'll see my sister and me on camera!

Remember the Jamaican Bobsledders? They were the talk of the Olympics in Calgary. My sister was able to get this shot of them as they whizzed by. They sure go fast!The chinook winds had blown in during the Olympics and the temperature hit 50 degrees. That makes it a little slushy for the bobsleds.

After our Olympic experience in Calgary, we were obsessed with the Winter Games. We wanted to go to Albertville, France in 1992 but it was expensive and we didn't get to go. However, my sister made a couple of Olympic connections. Paul Wylie was on the men's tean in 1988 and 1992. He was living in Massachusetts at the time, in Somerville. The post office wanted to do a commemorative stamp for both Paul Wylie and Nancy Kerrigan since both had medaled in Albertville. My sister was called upon to do the design for the postmark. Here's the poster of the postmark.

This is the envelope from my collection of Paul Wylie's stamp.

I had this one autographed by Nancy Kerrigan. She was living in Stoneham, Massachusetts with her family and my sister and I also were living in Stoneham.
We went to Nancy's parade and reception. My sister also did a painting of Nancy
which is now hanging in the Stoneham Public Library. When I find the picture
I'll post it.

So there you have it. I am off to watch the ice dancing original program tonight.
I'll be wishing I was there in Canada watching in person. Well at least we'll always have Calgary!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Tea

I took Friday off from work to prepare for Saturday's Valentine's Tea. I wanted the table to look elegant so I spent a lot of time on the selection of dishes. I knew which cups I would use, my new ones from Anthropologie. I actually had some of the Anthro teacups and I used them at Christmas. I wanted to buy more of them since I only had a few. I had the staff at my local store calling every store all the way down the East Coast looking for the Gellert Salon teacups. Anyway, two stores still had them in stock and so I was able to pick up five more.

I took a photo of the table before the guests arrived. It was a mish mash of new and old, some Home Goods, Anthropologie and a little vintage. The flowers were sent to me from customers, a lovely couple from Beijing now living in Massachusetts.

Most of the remaining photos were taken by my friend Don.

A fruit flan on a pedestal. I had been eyeing this stand for a while. Friday it was on sale at Home Goods and I had a gift card in my purse and so I bought it and a taller one too. Thank you Clara!

Vintage look valentines with just a bit of sparkle. The napkins were from Pier One.

Mary made her fabulous scones and I supplied the lemon curd and strawberry jam. My sister made the mock devonshire cream. It was sooo good!

There's one of the infamous Anthro cups and a vintage creamer in the background. I love the colors and pattern on it.

Yum! A chocoholics delight! Dainty petit fours and heart shaped Ghiardelli brownies.

Here's Sheila's mock devonshire cream. I put it in a candy dish which was on my desk just days earlier.

We had loose tea and tea in sachets. I like to use Harney tea and of course Harrod's No. 42 otherwise known as the best Earl Grey on earth.

When I have a scone I put lemon curd on one side and strawberry jam on the other. These scones were perfect!

Chocolate dipped strawberries, macarons, and pink shortbread hearts rounded out the dessert tray.

I couldn't believe that Molly slept on my bed the whole afternoon. Actually, she and I had a difference of opinion earlier in the day. She tried to jump on the table and eat the tulips. I screamed and stomped my feet to scare her. She retreated to the bedroom. Well, she shouldn't be eating tulips and she shouldn't be on the table!

Everyone went home with a favor of 2 sugar cookie hearts and hopefully a warm feeling of friendship and love for Valentine's Day. Hope you all have a wonderful
day too!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Romeo, Romeo, where art thou Romeo?

It's almost Valentine's Day and I want all those would be secret admirers to know what really makes my heart go pitter patter. If you want to win my heart, here's
some suggestions.This 1940's style Champs Elysees dress is from J Peterman. I think this style dress is figure flattering and I do love polka dots.

I need some curtains for my bedroom and these from Anthropologie would look great. And the style is called Adorations, perfect for Valentine's Day.

How did you know I've been wanting a fireplace? This one is from Old House Parts in Kennebunk, Maine and it would look fabulous with the white mouldings throughout my condo.

And doesn't a fireplace look fabulous with a cool mirror over it? Again, this is from Anthropologie and made from recycled mirrors.

I don't know where I would put one of these doctors cabinets but I sure do like the look. They're from Mothology.

My old sofa has seen better days. The cats use it as a scratching post and it's an embarassment. This fainting sofa from Urban Outfitters would add a touch of style to my living room.

I realize some of those gifts are a bit extravagant for Valentine's Day so perhaps they can be a combination of Valentine's and early birthday gifts.

I've always wanted to go to the Daffodil weekend on Nantucket Island. The island is at it's prettiest during Daffodil season and there are so many fun activities to attend. I think I'm ready to make my reservations.

This is probably the best bargain of all. A chocolate trolley tour of Boston. This three hour event showcases Boston's landmarks and satisfies the sweet tooth.

If you read my prior perfect Valentine post, you'd know that Oscar is my Valentine. He's a little short on cash this year so looks like I'll be waiting a while longer for the couch, curtains, etc. Oh well, it's the thought that counts, right?

Wishing you all a perfect Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Crazy Love

Today I'm posting about crazy love. You know, the crazy things we do or did in pursuit of love. It may have been years ago or maybe just yesterday, but, most likely you did something crazy to attract the opposite sex.

In conversation with my sister about the matter, I realize that anything I did pales in comparison to some of her stories. She has granted me permission to share a few.

Once upon a time, my sister was working at a bookstore. The assistant manager of the store was an extremely handsome, tall, blond, blue-eyed man. My sister found him very attractive and interesting. I shall call him "blond guy". They enjoyed a friendship, but, my sister liked him liked him and so she set out to be more than friends.

She knew two things about this man. He hated working in a mall. No windows and no way to see outside, he loved open spaces. She also knew he loved all things French. So she prepared a picnic lunch complete with french baguettes and cheeses and she invited him to join her outside in the mall parking lot. They ate their lunch on the median strip on the blacktop.

My sister told me a second story, actually I remembered most of this one. That same summer, my sister was interested in Errol Flynn movies. She had conversations with "blond guy" about old swashbuckling movies. She knew "blond guy" had a favorite movie theatre near where he lived and an Errol Flynn movie just happened to be playing at the theatre. So she had one of our guy friends call him up and say that he had won two movie passes to the Errol Flynn movie. He surely would ask my sister to go to the movie with him right? Wrong, he never mentioned it to my sister so finally she had to come clean and ask him about the phone call. He said he knew it was just Sheila being crazy! They never did have a romantic relationship but they were good friends amd he made work fun for her.

I tried to come up with some of my own crazy stories but I couldn't think of anything that interesting or creative. Once when I was working as a bank teller, I met a guy who was a welder. He came to the bank every Friday to cash his paycheck. If I didn't wait on him, I wouldn't get to talk to him and then he would never ask me out. So whenever I spied him crossing the bank parking lot, I would ask all the tellers to either close their windows or walk away from the teller area. Poor guy must have thought I did everything at that branch since I was the only one he ever saw. It took about three months but he did eventually ask me out. We went out for a while but I think the pursuit was more fun than the end result.

So how about you? Any crazy confessions? And do check out my playlist. I added some "crazy" songs including one by one of my sister's favorites, Paul Simon.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Blog Love Giveaway

I was going to post about Crazy Love today but I decided to post about a blog giveaway instead. There's going to be a quick timeframe on this since I want the recipient to get it in time for Valentine's Day. Both items are handmade in Massachusetts.

I will post about Crazy love in my next post.

First of all, the winner will receive this cute paper heart. My friend Beth had a trunk show today and she was selling her handcrafted paper hearts along with her vintage paper jewelry. I picked one up for myself and one for you (if you win).

The second item in the giveaway is a bag of Harbor Sweets candy. An ex-boyfriend turned me on to Harbor Sweets. These handmade chocolates do have nuts in them. Fair warning.

Here's what you need to do if these items are your heart's desire. Leave a comment on either one of my prior Valentine's posts. So comment on either the Sweet Romance post or the Romance: The good, the bad, and the ugly post. If you already left a comment, good for you
because you are already entered.

I will draw the name at midnight eastern time on Sunday night. Good luck and thanks for the blog love.

Update: The random number generator picked Kayellen as the winner of the giveaway. Congratulations to Kayellen and thanks to all who entered. I loved reading your comments.


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