Sunday, March 6, 2016

I Heart Martha!

I am an unabashed admirer of Martha Stewart.

I have noticed in recent years that cooking shows have evolved from shows that used to actually teach you to cook into shows that are competitions. I have nothing against a cooking contest--some of them, like Master Chef Junior, are very entertaining. But I want to learn something! And Martha is my favorite teacher. 

I love her delivery. I usually try to imitate her speech as I'm listening to her. Those crazy dark vowels! 

But all that aside, this woman knows her shit. If I am looking online for a basic crepe or demiglace or bread or pie crust or you-name-it recipe, she is my go to person. I know that Martha's instructions will be tested and reliable.

The fact that she's been to prison just elevates her to a total BADASS status in my book. She is smart, successful and resilient.

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Land of Unfinished Crafts!

I am not content unless I am obsessed with making things. My most current obsession is quilting. It was only a matter of time until that happened, as I come from a family who quilts. I have a quilt started by my grandmother, finished by my mother (well, she paid some body else to finish it) and given to me for the next step (embroidery?) which is never going to happen. 

I have made several quilts by now, and I am getting better and braver with it, but I have amassed a stash of fabric now that is reminiscent of the yarn stash that I had when I was doing felted handbags. I am posting some pictures of projects I've actually finished in the last couple of years:

Vintage hankie quilt! So girly:

Men's shirting quilt for my hubs: He wanted it "extra puffy" so for once I obeyed him:

flying geese quilt--this is more my style:

Quilt with no theme, just pretty. Gave this to my neighbor:

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Steak Tacos and Mole Verde, Y'all!

We have been getting Blue Apron for about 2 months now, and we love it. Cooking dinner together is the most enjoyable part of our day, but we dread the daily discussion about what's for dinner, and if the groceries get dropped on our doorstep, well, bonus! I like that each recipe is on a card that can be kept, so you can recreate any dishes that you really want again. We have not had a duplicate yet, and we have ended up trying lots of ideas for dishes that we would not have bothered with on our own. 

I wish I could say that I am that cook who plans menus out a week at a time and does all the shopping, all the while maximizing in-season vegetables and saving money, but I am not that cook. Andy isn't either--he is the type that goes to the grocery every day and will not eat anything that is more than a couple of days old. So Blue Apron is especially good for this purpose--they send you exactly the ingredients you need, no more, no less. You don't have a whole bottle of some weird ingredient that you won't use again for another decade.

Tonight's tacos were pretty tasty. The salsa was made of tomatillos and flavored with pan roasted pepitas, which I quite liked. The dish lacked a couple of notes in my opinion. If I made it again I would add orange zest and smoked paprika to the salsa to add a smoky note and a sweet note.

The whole thing came together very quickly, about 25 minutes! And it costs the same every week. It's 60 bucks, 3 complete meals that generously feed 2 people, delivered to your door. If you need to skip a week because you won't be home or you're too skint to spend the $60, you just go online and cross out that delivery. We have also never had any food arrive that was stale or damaged. We give it high marks overall!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Back in the Saddle

I have really missed writing. I have been having a long-term affair with Facebook, which has led to many fruitless hours spent on posts no longer than 3 or 4 sentences, with no arc but too much snark. I am resolved to throttle back on my Facebook activity and spend some quality time writing and getting reacquainted with the blogosphere and, more importantly, my own voice.

A catalyst in all this was being faced with the task of writing my father's eulogy. He died on January 2, and his funeral is next weekend. I was crazy about my dad, and though this task caused all my waterworks to burst open anew, I typed and edited through tears and in the end it was really cleansing for me.

So here it is, along with a picture of my dad, handsome and debonair as he was:

I want to begin by thanking all of you so much for being here. Our family is so touched by the outpouring of support and comfort we’ve received. And thanks to modern technology, there have been many people who have been able to reach out from all over to let us know how special Dad was to them. Your kind words have meant the world to us.

Today we say goodbye and sweet dreams to my beloved dad. It was such an honor to know him. Where do I begin to sum up Frank Serresseque? He was so many things—Father, husband, teacher, singer, actor, director, bon vivante. raconteur, son of French immigrants.

I’m sure most of you will remember that Dad was an amazing host. A dear friend mentioned recently that being at 306 West Midland Street was like being at the Round Table at the Algonquin. Our household was rich with a steady stream of lively, intelligent, creative people. Dad loved a good party. If you were a guest in his home he would never let your beverage reach the empty level. He would say “Let me freshen your drink my dear” and if you said "oh no just a half a drink!" He would level his gaze at you and say, “I don't make half drinks. If you want to drink half that's your business.” On warm summer nights he’d hold court on the front porch. Friends and neighbors would pass by, popping in for a quick hello, and slinking home hours later.

And no gathering was complete without music. It poured out of the piano and the giant speakers in the living room. Dad’s taste in music was extremely eclectic—and his record collection was—and still is-- massive!

   He had a passion for travel and culture. He created the Humanities program at Central High School. He was brave enough to take groups of teenagers on trips to places like Washington DC and Colonial Williamsburg. He would have been so delighted to read all the online comments last month from scores of people whom he’d taught. He would have loved knowing that he instilled a sense of curiosity and a love of travel in so many of his students. He and my mom went on many wonderful trips to Europe with friends and family.  One memorable summer, he lugged the four of us, plus his parents and his sister all over France, taking on the roles of tour guide, interpreter, chauffeur and activities coordinator. All this in a VW bus that had to be pushed down a hill to start. It's a wonder he didn't need another month’s vacation after all that. But he loved travelling and especially loved France with all his heart! He was so proud of his French heritage.

Never was there a man with more exemplary manners. One could almost say that he was obsessed with good manners. Even at 88 years old, He would stand at an open door and wait until hell froze over rather than walk through that door before a lady. He would even insist on walking on the outside of the sidewalk, towards the street, and if you didn’t oblige he would stop and move you over to the correct side of the sidewalk. Dinner time was a nightly test of our p’s and q’s. While it was sometimes challenging to grow up under the watchful eye of “Politeness Man”, we kids have gone on to be forever grateful for such good training.

For a man who made an honest but fairly modest living as a teacher and a church musician, Dad had a love of beautiful and expensive objects. Where he got his taste for Waterford crystal and Rolex watches, I will never know. But he had a love for fine and beautiful things. He lavished wonderful presents upon my mom. In his later years he ended up giving away a lot of those wonderful and shiny things, because his taste for fine objects was only surpassed by his generosity. Being generous gave Dad a great deal of joy.

   I would be completely remiss in this eulogy if I did not speak to what a spectacular singer my father was.  He didn't just sing a song. He would build a song in layers like a painting with color and direction and emotion. He had so much soul when he sang. He had the sort of gift that could not be taught. It was hard wired in him and he shared it widely, filling theatres and concert halls with his rich bass baritone. We will never forget his Emile deBecque, his Tevye, his Don Quixote, his Gianni Schicchi. He brought the world to us with his voice.

   We will miss Frank Serresseque immensely, but we carry him in our hearts. All the very best of him lives on in all of us who knew him. Dad, you put on a great show! This is your final curtain call. Thank you for gracing us with your presence. Now take a much deserved bow!

Sunday, May 19, 2013


I managed to finish painting yesterday at about 10 p.m. I love the color! It is going to look beautiful with the new fabric.

But there is a fly in the ointment, and that is the very damaged wall that was previously so cleverly hidden by all the purple sponged texture. 

My plan is to get a piece of plexiglass, paint one side of it with the matching paint, and affix it to the wall as a splash guard. If this works, I will be well chuffed. 

If it doesn't, I'll have to patch, sand, prime and paint, which will require some back pedaling and patience. I do not have an ample supply of patience.

Later, I popped over to my Sunday place of worship, which some people like call Lowe's. The nice man--who was the size of a Sherman tank--found a piece of plexy and cut it to size for me!

It worked great! It now looks nice and sleek and like I meant to do that.

Next, I will make my shower curtain. 

I don't mind splurging a bit on fabric that I really love. A custom made curtain and window shade can really elevate the look of your modest little bathroom. Not that this was an enormous splurge--the fabric was discounted 75%. It would have cost me $280.00 plus the labor to sew, but I invested $70.00. Curtains are very easy to make. It's all in the measuring! The sewing is all just straight lines.

The shower curtain came together very easily because the fabric has a square pattern. I just used the squares as my guidelines for the curtain. I rigged it with these tidy little loops and some inexpensive lucite rings. 

Tomorrow, I will tackle the window shade. Now for a nice hot shower, a glass of wine and PBS.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Purple Bathroom Makeover

My little house has just one bathroom, and, while it seemed like a fine idea 15 years ago, I am very tired of the purple. What was I thinking? 

I am changing the palette to a much calmer and neutral collection of soft tans, grays and greens, inspired by this beautiful Waverly "Quadrants" fabric from a great discount site

I will post my progress!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Meet Madeline!

One of the million things that has happened since I last paid attention to this blog is that Andy's son And daughter-in-law have had a baby. This makes me a step-nannah. Andy has called us Grandy and Grannine, but look at this kid! She is so cute, I don't care what she calls me! She can call me Old Gray Mare and totally get away with it. She's cuter than humans should be allowed to be and I look forward to many years of spoiling!