Saturday, January 25, 2020

House Inspector Calling!

Ever see a house where you wish you could walk up to the door and say, "House Inspector calling; just have to look around and see if your house is pretty."

That would be the job for me. The city wouldn't even have to pay this minor bureaucrat. 

This English Country House of Native Stone and Stucco designed by A. Raymond Ellis, 1882-1950 of Hartford, CT, for the January 1925 issue of Woman's Home Companion would lure me up the sidewalk.

Imagine my surprise when I walked out on our kitchen porch one cold morning in late November and looked beyond the hedgerow that borders a long part of the street of our property and a house magically appeared that had been hidden by leafy tree limbs.

So this was where all the construction noise had come from! Let me zoom in on it...

Doesn't it remind you a little bit of the 1925 magazine's house?

We aren't likely to meet these new neighbors as their road entrance is not on our street but down on the state highway that our own street runs off of. 

Theirs is a gated community and frankly, the first houses built there, probably in early 2000s, are really ugly McMansions. But this new house built high on the hill at the rear of the development looks like it has grace and charm.

Here's how it looked the other night when I went outside with BreeBree and James Mason after supper.

They must have been having a party and every single light in the house and on the property seemed to be on. 

Our mail lady must have lost our invitation but I stood there and snapped pictures, enjoying the pretty sight of the lighted house on the hill.

Wouldn't that have been a perfect time to walk up to the front door and say, House Inspector calling?

Every morning now, when I let the dachshunds out to go potty, I look up towards our new neighbor's house. I'm very careful now to put my robe over my pajamas and brush my hair. Because you never know, do you?

Just last week I saw something new near my neighbor's house.

My neighbors will someday have a new neighbor!

I hope this house is finished before the trees put on their Spring leaves. Then it will be months before I can snoop on my neighbors again. 

Unless I get that House Inspector job.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Real Winter Comfort

Anything can contribute to a spring-in-winter mood--an understanding friend, great words in an enduring book, the sound of music or laughter, the inner silence when the emotionally cold world holds its breath, a job that must be done, or helping someone in greater difficulty than yourself.
Faith Baldwin in Harvest of Hope

Blog friend Nan of Letters from a Hill Farm motivated me to get out my 1920s women's magazines when she wrote about the real Roaring 20s.

I've kind of ignored my 1920s magazines, focusing more lately on the 1930s when our house was built and what the people who built it might have been experiencing. And I always naturally am led to the 1940s and 1950s, what I consider a more romantic time period. 

But the 1920s were fascinating too, that jazzy age before the October 24, 1929 Wall Street crash. I find that I'm curious about the homemakers of that decade, wondering about the similarities and the differences between them and myself.

But that's for another discussion. Today I'm interested in Real Winter Comfort and what we can do to bring it on!

This full color ad for insulation is from my January 1929 issue of The American Home. Isn't it gorgeous?

I could list all the things that speak of comfort to me in this picture, including the purple dress she's wearing (extra points with me for that and its cuddly feather trim), but why don't you tell me what's comfy and cozy in this picture?

And tell me what you are doing to bring yourself Winter Comfort!

While you're considering that, here's what Ella, Dimity, and Winnie think about January comfort in Miss Read's Battles At Thrush Green. 

'And now we've January to look forward to,' sighed Ella. 'Talk about the January blues! What with the bills, and the general damp and gloom, and so long to wait for spring--it does get one down!'
'I cheer myself up,' said Dimity, 'by tidying a cupboard. It makes me feel so virtuous and efficient.'
 'I buy a new pair of shoes,' said Winnie.
'A packet of bourbon biscuits pep me up,' said Ella. 'Or putting out a new tablet of soap. Very therapeutic, putting out a new tablet of soap, I find.'

The floor is all yours, friends and family--and I'd faint if any family did comment! Some of them do read it though so I always write as if they are.


Wednesday, January 1, 2020

A Dumb New Year's Day Question

Whoa! This ad from a 1928 magazine made me do a double take. I flipped back to the page several times.

How many years older will I be next New Year's Day?

Well, God willing and the creek don't rise, I'll be another year older, right? And you will be too?

Of course I get it--if I drink Postum instead of coffee then I'll be younger than otherwise, that's what the ad is trying to say. 

If I give up this and give up that, I'll age more slowly. If I do this and don't do that, ditto.

But, in January? The month that follows Christmas?

As Abbie Graham says in Time Off and On, "I am not wholly committed to January. I do not entirely trust it as a month." Can I at least wait until Easter's carrot cake is made, frosted with cream cheese, and nibbled, savoring each bite?

But I'm willing to approach this question from another tack. How many wonderful healthy things can I cook in January? 

Lots of things, beginning with the traditional New Year's Day dish of Collards!

Say you don't like collards? Maybe you'll like my recipe that is an old Gourmet magazine one:

I skip the bacon now and jump straight to cooking chopped onions, any color. Then I stir a tablespoon of brown sugar into the onions and caramelize them a little, stir in a good sprinkle of dried hot red pepper flakes--have you tried this brand?

 I get them from Amazon and they are amazing!

Then I add a little apple cider vinegar and a box of good chicken broth. You've already washed your collards, of course. Triple washed them because who wants to get any grit in their collards?

 Cut the toughest part of the stems out, bunch and slice them and add to the hot pot and toss and wilt and slow cook all afternoon, add salt and pepper and you have one fine mess of greens and pot liquor that will put strength and vigor in your body. 

 Don't believe me, just read here!

Just don't be like Fred Sanford and eat them when they're eight days old. They don't last that long in our house.

On New Year's Day we'll have a pork loin roast with sauerkraut (sharing an extra one with family), black-eyed peas, and Pioneer Woman's Stuffed Baked Potatoes, and some Cranberry Jalapeno Relish. And collards, naturally, with a spoonful of my hot pepper vinegar over them.

What are you having for New Year's Day?

Blessings in 2020, dear friends and family! And all kidding aside, I wish for all of us to be as young as healthily possible next New Year's Day.