Merry Christmas!

I hope that you're all enjoying a wonderful, merry Christmas! We've taken to watching It's a Wonderful Life together each year. It's a truly great story, and Jimmy Stewart is the ultimate. Enjoy your holiday, and I will, too. I'll be back to regular posting next year!


Thursday Tunes: If On A Winter's Night

One of my early Christmas presents this year was Sting's new album If On A Winter's Night. Have you heard it? There are some classical numbers and some classical Sting numbers. He sounds great, and the instrumental moments are inspiring. It has a perfect Christmas feeling.


Brooks Brothers

Do you like Brooks Brothers? I love their classic preppy-ness. I especially love their golden fleece logo. Good thing for me there's an outlet not too far from here!


Gingerbread Cookies

Last week I made gingerbread cookies for the neighbors. I love to use the recipe from the Scovil Bakery in Nauvoo. You can find the recipe below.

1 cup sugar
1 cup molasses
3/4 cup oil or lard
1/2 cup hot water
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ginger
6-7 cups flour

Combine sugar, molasses, oil, and water. Add eggs. Mix dry ingredients together, and then add to wet ingredients. Refrigerate dough overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Roll out and cut with cookie cutters. Bake for 10 minutes. These cookies freeze well and are softer and more flavorful after freezing.


Dumfries House

The other day I saw an episode of Antiques Roadshow UK that was filmed at Dumfries House in Scotland. The host spoke with Prince Charles whose Prince's Charities purchased the home and its contents in 2007. A notable feature is the original Chippendale furniture that was created for the home. Go to the image gallery on the web site. It's an amazing place.


Friday Featured Etsy Seller: Custom Vintage Monograms

Custom Vintage Monograms is the latest Etsy shop of Cathe Holden of Just Something I Made. These are really incredible. I love anything monogrammed, and the swirls of these vintage images are especially lovely.


Thursday Text: Washington Irving Quote

Did you read the Jaimee Rose article about NieNie? It was very inspiring. I especially loved the Washington Irving quote that was included as a favorite of NieNie's:

There is in every woman's heart a spark of heavenly fire which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity, but which kindles up and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity.


Sense and Sensibility

Since I finished reading Sense and Sensibility, I decided that I should watch the movie. I really liked it. Emma Thompson's adaptation was charming. And I loved Alan Rickman (Snape) as Colonel Brandon. It was delightful - and I did really love the book.


Home Cookin'

We were in Chicago on Saturday night for another concert at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. It was a nice evening - there were tons of people out, and the lights and trees made it seem very festive. We didn't have a lot to spend on dinner, so we went to our favorite hole-in-the-wall place for some home cookin'. I had country fried steak, which is always confusing because it's usually called chicken fried steak but is made of beef or pork... Sometimes home cookin' just tastes good.


Jewelry Storage

Since I've been making so many earrings and such, I have been keeping quite a few pairs for myself. I was keeping them in a dish, but they started to get dusty, and it was difficult to see which ones belonged together. I found this little jewelry dresser at Target. It has hooks for bracelets and earrings, but I used them to hang all of my dangly earrings. The posts went into the ring slots and there are pendants in one drawer and more earrings in the other. I thought it was a great (and reasonably priced) solution. How do you store your gems?


Friday Featured Art: Miniature Rooms

When we were in Chicago last week, we picked up the Miniature Rooms book at the Art Institute. It's a guide to the the Thorne Miniature Rooms collection. It's really great, but it's kind of hard to judge the scale from the photos in the book. You just have to see the real things!


Thursday Text: Gift from the Sea

I recently read Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea. Have you read it? I "borrowed" it from my mom years ago and finally got around to it. I was very glad that I did. I loved the wisdom that it contains. And it went right along with the Relief Society lesson I was preparing on creativity and compassion (Pres. Uchtdorf's talk, Happiness, Your Heritage). Here's a quote:

I want first of all ... to be at peace with myself. I want a singleness of eye, a purity of intention, a central core to my life that will enable me to carry out these obligations and activities as well as I can. I want, in fact - to borrow from the language of the saints - to live "in grace" as much of the time as possible. ... By grace I mean an inner harmony, essentially spiritual, which can be translated into outward harmony. ... I would like to achieve a state of inner spiritual grace from which I could function and give as I was meant to in the eye of God.



Save me, Sabrina fair, you're the only one who can.

The other day, Sabrina was on TV. The 1995 version. I like the old version, too. It's just such a great story. And I love Harrison Ford as Linus. Which version do you like best?


Chicago Dogs

When we were in Chicago for the lecture at the Art Institute, we got Chicago dogs for dinner. They are delicious. The place that we went to is a little hole-in-the-wall place probably no more than 9 feet wide. But their dogs and their fries were so good. Here's what makes a Chicago dog:

an all-beef frankfurter
relish (I chop up fresh cucumbers)
chopped onions
a pickle spear or slice
tomato slices (I usually chop these up, too)
yellow mustard
celery salt
a poppyseed bun (hard to find, but they have them at Jewel around here)




Have you heard of FLO TV? A little portable TV - I think it's a great idea! The monthly fee isn't too bad for a handful of channels that you can take with you wherever you go.


Friday Featured Art: Fullerton Hall

Last night, we attended a lecture at the Art Institute. It was held in Fullerton Hall. The auditorium was beautiful. I wish they had a larger picture! There was really pretty carving along the walls and ceiling. The dome in the middle is Tiffany glass and looked rather like a turtle. The lecture was on the Arts and Crafts movement and the Cotswolds region of England to go along with the Apostles of Beauty exhibit. Very interesting.


Thursday Tunes: Saint-Saens

A week or so ago, we watched the movie, Babe. It is so cute. I loved when Farmer Hoggett sings and dances for Babe. The song that he sings is based on Saint-Saens' Organ Symphony No. 3. Lovely.


Anthropologie Knobs

The third thing that I loved at Anthropologie was their knobs - I always love their knobs. This one is a beautiful little saucer. There was a light green one that was really great, too.


Anthropologie Headbands

Another thing that I really loved at Anthropologie was their headbands. They were inspiring. I really loved the silver sparkly one. But, again, too expensive...


Anthropologie Measuring Spoons

Last week, we went to Anthropologie for the first time in a long time. I loved every minute of it. I especially loved their unique measuring spoons. This set is so glamorous. But expensive. I was really thinking about them on Thanksgiving, though...


Friday Featured Art: Roof Line

Today's featured art is another new piece by Joe. This one is called Roof Line, and I really love the color and the little bird and the clouds. Just lovely.


Thursday Text: Beauty Tips

Last week we had a Relief Society meeting, and I made handouts using this quote. It's often attributed to Audrey Hepburn because she liked it so much, but it's really by Sam Levenson.

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.

People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.

Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms. As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands; one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.

The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.

The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mode, but the true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives and the passion that she shows.


Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow! I am really loving Thanksgiving as a holiday - I love being home as a family and enjoying simple things like a good meal and a hilarious movie. We watch Planes, Trains, and Automobiles every year. Tony edits "the scene" out for me so that it ends up PG. So funny.


C.S. Lewis: The Great Divorce

I recently finished reading The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis. It was really interesting. It was an allegory that stemmed from this quote by Scottish author George MacDonald:

No, there is no escape. There is no heaven with a litde of hell in it - no plan to retain this or that of the devil in our hearts or our pockets. Out Satan must go, every hair and feather.


Terje Folding Chair

We went to IKEA this weekend and bought a couple of these folding chairs. They are cute and simple and versatile. One is for a nook in our bedroom, and one is for a reading nook. And then they can double as extra dining chairs when we have company!


Friday Featured Etsy Seller: Door County Woodworks

Today's featured Etsy seller is another purveyor of birdhouses: Door County Woodworks. These are lovely birdhouses from Wisconsin. I think I'll have to get this one with crystal knobs for perches to go with all of the crystal doorknobs around our house!


Thursday Tunes: The Firebird

The other day, Evan Lysacek was on the Today Show skating at Rockefeller Center. He skated to The Firebird by Stravinsky. I thought it sounded familiar. It was one of the pieces that the 5 Browns played when I saw them. The funny thing is that the song figured prominently in the episode of Inspector Lewis that I saw later that night!


Dried Apples

When we were at Macy's a few weeks ago, I found this great Martha Stewart apple corer. It is fantastic. I used it to core a bag of apples and then sliced them into rings and put them in my food dehydrator for a whole day. They turned out lovely.


More New in My Shop

I'm still working on posting new items in my Etsy shop. Here's another little pair:


Friday Featured Art: Apostles of Beauty

While we were in Chicago on Saturday, we attended the newly-opened exhibit, Apostles of Beauty, at the Art Institute of Chicago. It was fabulous. They William Morris textiles (like Cray, below) and books and sketches by Edward Burne-Jones and a piece by Dante Gabriel Rosetti. There was also some excellent Gustav Stickley furniture (chair below). I was interested in the way that they tied in photography - like the works of Alfred Stieglitz (who I really like). We also learned about Hull House here in Chicago, and the exhibit ended with Frank Lloyd Wright (window below) and the Prairie School. A really great exhibit.


Thursday Tunes: Ravel's Piano Concerto for Left Hand Only

We were in Chicago on Saturday for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert. Here's one of the most fascinating pieces of the evening. It's a piano concerto for the left hand only, written by Ravel for Paul Wittgenstein (brother of famous philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein), who lost an arm in World War I. The pianist who played on Saturday was incredible.


Macy's on State Tiffany Ceiling

We were in Chicago on Saturday, so we returned to the Macy's on State to track down the Tiffany ceiling. It's on the 5th floor (through the ladies intimate section). The iridescent favrile glass was beautiful. And I really love the pendant lights.


Crystal Doorknobs

The lady who owns the home that we're renting comes across as somewhat of an old southern belle. That can be a design challenge - like the elaborate wallpaper in the dining room - or it can be beneficial. One of the things that we really do like about the house is that almost all of the doors have crystal doorknobs. They are a very interesting assortment...


New in My Shop

I finally got around to posting a few new things in my Etsy shop! Take a look.


Friday Featured Art: Rene Lalique

Recently I've been watching Antiques Roadshow on BBC America. It's fascinating. Their locations are beautiful country estates, and people show up with items that are hundreds of years old. One was a Scottish lady with a vase by Rene Lalique that she had purchased at a yard sale for 1 pound. (They call them car boot sales (or boot sales) - which means something like a trunk sale.) The vase sold at auction for over 32,000 pounds, which is something like $53,000. It was a pretty vase.


Thursday Text: A Perfect Day

Also while we were in Chicago, I read A Perfect Day by Richard Paul Evans. I found it while I was unpacking book boxes. My mom gave it to me - Evans was the author of The Christmas Box. I never read The Christmas Box, but I thought that A Perfect Day was pretty good. I got kind of frustrated with the first part of the story - about a man who writes a novel and finds success, and his family life begins to unravel. But the end of the story and how he tries to put things back together was quite good.


Macy's on State Street

One of the best things about where we stayed in Chicago was our proximity to the Macy's on State Street. It was about a block away, so I visited three times. It is immense and incredible. I kept getting lost. But I did find some Martha stuff! I got a cute red cake stand on clearance and an apple corer and a chef's knife. I just found out about the Tiffany ceiling, so I will have to go check it out the next time we're in the big city!



One of the interesting places that we visited in Chicago was the Truefitt and Hill barbershop and store at the 900 Shops Mall on Michigan Avenue. Truefitt and Hill are the barbers to Prince Philip. In addition to their products, the store sells items from Caswell Massey and other brands. A new one that we discovered was Penhaligon's of London. We really liked the Blenheim Bouquet scent - especially since we visited Blenheim Palace in August. I also liked the Endymion scent - that was interesting if you remember that one of Keats' volumes of poetry was titled Endymion.


Wow Bao

We were in Chicago over the weekend for a conference that Tony was attending. It was very fun to stay downtown. We could walk anywhere. For lunch on one of the days, I went to an Asian place in the bottom of our hotel called Wow Bao. A bao is some kind of steamed bun with stuff inside. I didn't have one - but I did have the potstickers and a pad thai salad. It was delicious. They also have homemade ginger ale. I didn't get any, so I think that I need to go back now...


Friday Featured Art: Porch Swing

I really love Joe's new pieces (of course). Porch Swing makes me nostalgic for Missouri and our white farm house and old porch swing. There's something so relaxing about sitting on the porch in the evening - especially when there are fireflies floating about.


Thursday Tunes: Tenebrae

Last Friday it was our privilege to attend a concert at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. It is such a beautiful space. In this picture of the dome, all of the colored space that you see is a mosaic - no paint. The concert was by the choral group Tenebrae from London. They sing a cappella and by candlelight. It was incredible. One of my favorites was the encore number, called The Dying Soldier. Go here to sample it.