Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Happy Jane Austen day!

Jane Austen fans rejoice! Today is the 239th anniversary of Ms. Austen's birth, and to mark the occasion today has been designated as the very first ever Jane Austen day. 'Bout time! There's a ten day celebration going on across the Pond in Bath, England. (I know… squeals of delight!) JA certainly had a way with words, and below are are some of my fave bon mots from her novels and characters. Enjoy!

On love
No man is offended by another man’s admiration of the woman he loves; it is the woman only who can make it a torment.” —Northanger Abbey (1817)

One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other.” —Emma(1815)

On marriage
Marriage is indeed a manoeuvring business.” Mansfield Park (1814)

Next to being married, a girl likes to be crossed in love a little now and then.” Pride and Prejudice (1813)

On women and men
I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.” —Persuasion (1817)

One cannot be always laughing at a man without now and then stumbling on something witty.” —Pride and Prejudice (1813)

On life
Surprises are foolish things. The pleasure is not enhanced, and the inconvenience is often considerable.” —Emma (1815)

Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings.” —Mansfield Park (1814)

On art
Every savage can dance.” —Pride and Prejudice (1813)

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.” —Northanger Abbey (1817)

Without music, life would be a blank to me.” —Emma (1815)

On fashion
Dress is at all times a frivolous distinction, and excessive solicitude about it often destroys its own aim.” —Northanger Abbey (1817)
On fashion

Dress is at all times a frivolous distinction, and excessive solicitude about it often destroys its own aim.” —Northanger Abbey (1817)

One man’s style must not be the rule of another’s.” —Emma (1815)
On leisure

On leisure
To sit in the shade on a fine day, and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment.” —Mansfield Park (1814)

One cannot have too large a party.” —Emma (1815)

Indulge your imagination in every possible flight.” —Pride and Prejudice (1813)

On society
It is very difficult for the prosperous to be humble.” —Emma (1815)

I do not want people to be very agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them a great deal.” —from JA's personal correspondence

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Concord art show

The gloaming  4 x 6 


I currently have two these paintings in the Concord Art Association small works art show. (click here to see photos) The CAA is housed in a beautiful, large historic home in downtown Concord, and always has wonderful shows. The show runs December 2—20th. Direction here.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Color inspiration—lavender

Lavender in the garden

"Best among the good plants for hot, sandy soils 
are the ever blessed lavender and rosemary, 
delicious old garden bushes that one can hardly dissociate."

Miss Jekyll, Home and Garden 1900

To see more colors, click on the red "color inspirationlabel below.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

French lentil salad

French lentil salad rolled up in kale leaves

I first tasted this gorgeous lentil salad combo at a lovely French cafe in Concord, MA called La Provence. It was love at first bite. It's bathed in a tangy classic French, dijon style vinaigrette, and speckled with colorful little dabs of diced tomatoes, parsley and crunchy purple onions. Oh, and there's cubed feta cheese. Trés, délicieux, oui? Since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I have attempted to recreate this lentil salad several times, and I think I finally have it. The key is in the chef's vinaigrette of course, which I could go and buy at the cafe, but to me that's cheating. So here is my version of La Provence's lentil salad...

French lentil salad

Place 1 ½ cups du Puy (or any kind of) French lentils in pot along with 1 bay leaf, 1 clove garlic and ¼ onion. Add in 3-4 cups water, and some salt and pepper. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Do not overcook—mushy lentils are yucky, and you want these lentils to have a little bite to them. Strain lentils and let cool. Meanwhile, make your vinaigrette.

½ clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
¼ cup olive oil
lemon juice
Salt and pepper

In a bowl, whisk together the garlic, vinegar, and mustard. Then whisk in the oil, adding it in slowly. The oils and vinegar should combine together (emulsify) and thicken. Taste, and add some lemon if the dressing isn’t zesty enough. Season with salt and pepper. Alternatively, you mix first ingredients in a small jar with a lid, add the olive oil, and shake like mad until it's emulsified. Et voila!

Now dice around ¼ cup each of purple onions, plum tomatoes (outside parts only), feta cheese, and flat leafed parsley. In a bowl mix your cool lentils, the diced veggies and feta cheese, and around 3 tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Taste. It's good, isn't it?

The lentil salad keeps for around 2 days in the fridge and is great for hot summer days or any time of year. The salad it délicieux on its own, or sometimes I place a tablespoon or so inside a kale leaf and roll it up for a little bundle of yum. 

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with Moroccan spices, pickled onions and cauliflower

Friday, November 14, 2014

Very late season raspberries

Just a happy tumble of raspberries, no big deal, right? Oh wait, these are my raspberries... that I picked in my own back yard… in mid-November… after an early snowfall. Now that's a sweet deal! We've only had one hard frost so far, so I guess these guys will just keep ripening until it gets too cold.

One of my favorite ways to enjoy these homegrown jewels is to toss them into these darling little single-serve grass fed organic Traderspoint yogurts (higher in omega-3s) that I can only find at Whole Foods markets. The glass containers are great to upcycyle too. The combo of my raspberries and their yogurt is serious perfection.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Crane Estate art show & sale—2014

On the scent   9 x 12 

This coming weekend is the Trustees of Reservations annual juried Crane Estate art show & sale! It's a nice chance to visit and view "... art highlighting the beauty of North Shore's landscapes and landmarks." I have 5 paintings in the show this year; three were inspired by the equestrian milieu of the town I live in—Hamilton, MA.

Airborne  9 x 12

Lightness of Being 4 x 12

The Crane Estate is beautiful to visit this time of year, magically perched on a hillside that overlooks the Atlantic ocean. The kids can run wild and the adults can pop inside to see the paintings, then you can stop into Russell Orchards on the way home for some apples or cider donuts. It's free, and show hours are Saturday and Sunday, November 8th and 9th from 10-4. There is a preview party Friday night (Nov 7th) from 7 to 10 PM with an open bar, catered hors d'oeuvres, and music. Tickets for the preview party are $50. each, which may seem steep, but it's a really good time and worth the price of admission to be in an enchanting grand estate filled with beautiful artwork. Hope you can make it to the party of at least some time over the weekend!

                      Boy with fountain                         Boy with flute

+ + +

You may also like these equestrian paintings.
(Click for more info.)

Double the Horn  9 x 14

On the Line   8 x 10

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The last hurrah

These are the very last of my tomatoes for this year. It's hard to believe they lasted this long, into late October! The poor plants looked pathetic, with withering brown leaves, but I was still able to pick these and make a few salads with them. I'm already missing them and looking forward to next year's tomato bounty.

From earlier in the summer… 
Baguette with a rainbow of tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Airborne  9 x 12

This new equestrian painting shows off delicious autumn foliage, and is one of several new works to be shown at the upcoming Castle Hill show and sale in Ipswich, MA in November.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bronze sculpture paintings

AIR: Boy with flute  8 x 8

These two new paintings are of bronze statues in a nearby garden in Hamilton. The life-size sculptures were done by sculptor Richard Recchia (1883-1985), who spent his later years in Rockport, MA. I don't know why the flute is bent, it just is.

WATER: Boy with fountain  8 x 8

Here they are side by side.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Five fine frogs

These are my five fine frogs— aren't they beautiful? I bought them around may from a nearby garden center when they were just cute little pollywogs. They like hanging out in our fish pond with the Five Freds (our goldfish, who, truth be told, are now only the Three Freds). It's very very rare that I see them all at once like this!  Read more about our fish and frogs by clicking here, here and here.

I mean, look at that face—he's smiling!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Color Inspiration—golden leaves

These are the colors of my living room—washed in sunshine.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Horse, hounds and fox

Lightness of Being  4 x 12

At just 4 x 12", this is a very small canvas for me, but it started out being just a little warm up sketch. Once it's popped into a thick gold frame it will beef it up. (See below!) Available for sale.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wicked awesome clam chowdaah


What a fabulous stretch of weather we've had! Summer has just been eclipsed by autumn, so we still have sunny and warm days, but the mercury dips at night making it perfect weather for soups. Dan made a batch of his wicked awesome clam chowdaah last week. I still had some borage blossoms in the garden to garnish it with, along with some snips of chives and crushed pink peppercorns. He uses a great clam chowder recipe that we found in Saveur Magazine years ago. The crispy salt pork cracklins that we sprinkle on top really add nice flavor.


Clam chowder (from Saveur Magazine)

5 dozen littleneck clams or 4 1⁄2 dozen steamer clams
1⁄4 lb. salt pork, diced
3 medium yellow onions, peeled and diced
3 tbsp. flour
3 lbs. red potatoes, peeled and cut into 3⁄4" cubes
3 cups milk
3⁄4 cup heavy cream
3 tbsp. butter
Salt and freshly ground white pepper

Scrub clams under cold running water to remove grit and sand. Discard any that don't close when tapped. Place clams in a large pot with 3 cups cold water. Cover, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and steam until shells open; check frequently and remove clams with tongs as they open, allowing up to 5 minutes for littlenecks and about 1 minute for steamers. Discard any that don't open. Pour cooking liquid through a fine sieve and set aside.

Cook salt pork in a large pot over medium-low heat until crisp, about 20 minutes. Remove meat, drain on paper towels, and set aside to use as garnish. Add onions to rendered fat and cook over low heat until translucent, about 20 minutes.

Remove clams from shells. If using steamers, cut off and discard necks (the black part). Coarsely chop clams, cover, and set aside.

Add flour to onions, stir for 1 minute, then add potatoes, reserved clam cooking liquid, and enough water to cover. Increase heat to medium, cover, and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

Add clams, milk, and cream to pot. Simmer (do not boil) until just heated through, about 5 minutes. (Clams will be rubbery if overcooked.) Stir in butter and season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and top with reserved salt pork. (I also add chopped chives and crushed pink peppercorns.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A rainbow of tomatoes

Ahhh, those tomatoes sandwiches of summer…let me count the ways. A BLT perhaps? A tomato, cheese and mayo sandwich on whole grain bread? Or how about this twist?… an open-faced sandwich that shows off the beautiful rainbow colors that tomatoes offer up. We enjoyed this beauty made with our home-grown tomatoes, combined with mozzarella cheese, basil, a dash of sea salt, a crank of freshly ground black pepper, and all anointed with olive oil. Wish you were here...

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Stamped + embossed

We really don't make books like we used to. Just look at this magnificent gold embossed book! Not just because of the fairy on the cover, this book is truly enchanting and magical. I confess, I am a bibliomaniac or bibliophile, and never, ever will own a Kindle to read my books in. I love the smell of old books (hardcover of course!), and my legs grow weak when I think of books with stamped and embossed cloth binding, gilt edges, bookplates, with head and tail pieces, colored plates,  folding plates, vellum and glassine separator pages, and exotic marbled end papers. Are these really from a bygone era? Is the hardcover book really dead? I love flipping the book pages, and even love how they look on a bookshelf. Swoon. I gravitate towards these old books like moths to a flame, and I'm in a mossy sort of mood today, so here are some more beautiful book covers from years ago.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Blackberry moscow mule

Blackberries! The berry season is still booming, but summer is winding down, so this week's Saturday Sipper celebrates some of these sweet gems. Big and juicy, blackberries are delicious when smashed with sugar and combined with a Moscow Mule.

1 cup or so of blackberries
1-2 tablespoons sugar 
3 shots Vodka  
1 can of ginger beer
6 blackberries and 2 mint sprigs for garnishing

In a large bowl muddle blackberries, sugar and vodka until berries are mashed and smooth. Set aside. Fill 2 tall glass with ice and fill each glass halfway with ginger beer. Tilt glass and gently pour in blackberry mixture until glass is full. Garnish with a skewer of the additional blackberries and a sprig of mint. Sip slowly, and saver these last few weeks of summer.

Makes two berry-licious cocktails!

Click to see more Saturday Sippers!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Nightshade madness

Behold—Nightshade Solanum lycopersicum, or what is more commonly known as the popular backyard tomato plant. This time of year I can pick a bucket of tomatoes like this about every two to three days. Too much all at once—it's utter madness! To me the smaller tomatoes are like precious jewels—rubies, emeralds, and  yellow diamonds.

These "plate paintings" were created after eating one of the juiciest BLT sandwiches ever, made with one of my Brandywine tomatoes. Enjoyed only a few times in summer, these BLTs are truly a seasonal experience. Oh how I'll pine for these home-grown tomatoes on snowy winter days.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Strawberry gin smash

This sweet and fizzy Saturday Sipper, just the right thing on these dwindling summer days. What is it about strawberries that conjure up memories of being barefoot in the grass?

3 ounces gin
2 teaspoons sugar
juice from half a lime
6 fresh strawberries (4 sliced, two left whole) 
club soda
2 lime wedges for garnish

Makes two smashing cocktails!

In a bowl or glass, muddle 4 strawberries with 2 tsp. of sugar and 1/2 cup of club soda to dissolve the sugar. (alternatively, you can make and chill a simple syrup beforehand). Strain the strawberry solids and discard, but distribute the luscious pink strawberry liquid between two glasses filled with ice. Add the  juice of a 1/4 lime into each glass, and add the gin. Top with a splash of club soda and garnish each glass with a strawberry and wedge of lime.

Click to see more Saturday Sippers!