Thursday, December 25, 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Sweet starts

My new favorite winter breakfast is baked acorn squash. I cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, put a plop of brown sugar or maple syrup inside, cover it with tin foil, and bake in a 350° oven for 30 minutes. Not only is it a good source of Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Folate and Magnesium, and a very good source of Vitamin C, Thiamin, Potassium and Manganese, it's a delicious way to start my day!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Sasha + Serena

A pair of beautiful swans are on their nightly sunset cruise on Miles River at the end of my street in Hamilton. I have named then Sasha + Serena. How lucky am I to be able to drive past this view every night? 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Pomanders + pinecones

Simple, clove studded mandarin oranges make lovely fragrant pomanders that I tucked into a big bowl of pinecones. Such a simple thing but so festive for the holidays. And that citrusy aroma… mmm.

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
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)

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

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

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

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

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

On society
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 (study) 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.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Cherub with osage orange fruits

I harvest heaps of osage orange tree fruits each fall from a secret source. I am in love with the lime green color of course. I group them here and there outside for decoration. Here, they look great against my little cherub and my espaliered ivy.

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.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Better late than never

Looks like a monochromatic tangled mass of compost, but these are my dahlia tubers. I'm a little late digging them up this year but I did it. Into a bucket they will go, and they'll all rest on my cool porch for the winter.

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. 

You may also like:

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.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Color inspiration—pumpkins!

and pumpkin seeds ready to roast...

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

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Master and servant

This cherub bird bath stands proudly and loyally in my long, herbaceous flower border. In the fall when the ornamental grasses flower and blow softly in autumn breezes, they look as though they are servants, fanning the cherub.

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

+ + +

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Pumpkins in urns

I bought some huge pumpkins 
which look smashing in my iron urns.

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.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Rich, homemade beef stock

When the weather gets cold—but before we turn on the heat—I like to heat the house a bit up by simmering stocks on the stove for those warming winter soups. In a pinch, you can get away with canned chicken stock, but canned beef stock is not even close to how delicious your homemade stock is. It takes several hours, but the stovetop does all the work for you!

Homemade beef stock

To make this super rich beef stock roast, simply toss a combo of veal shanks, short ribs, and oxtails along with carrots, onions and celery onto an oiled sheet pan into a 450°oven for a 45 minutes. Then place everything into a large stock pot, including all those brown bits. Cover with water and add (additional) carrots, celery, onion, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, several peppercorns and a head of garlic. Then just let the stock simmer away on a very low flame for at least 4 hours. Skim off fat and scum as it arises. Cool, add salt to taste, then strain twice through cheesecloth. You can use your stock right away or put in freezer for a snowy soup day for your beef bourguignon, beef stew, Vietnamese pho, or French onion soup. It's a labor of love, but you'll be astounded at how good your soups will taste with your own homemade beef stock!

The goods...

… and after 45 minutes in a 450 oven 

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 19, 2014

Fall mums

Delicious lavender colored chrysanthemums 
flank statuary on my courtyard table. 
This tableau feels rich, abundant and scrumptious!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Borlotti bean harvest

What's pink and white and full of fiber?... these pretty shelling beans! I just harvested a bucket full of them. Some are destined for the pot, and some I'll bring to work to share with my coworkers.

You may enjoy:

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.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Contained madness

My very last container combo of the season always uses these funky chili peepers, that come in many colors, but of course the yellow speaks to me. I grew the golden gourds you see clustered next to the pot, and nestled inside foliage of English ivy, variegated jasmine (that's my best guess). The thick spiky plant in the center is a variegated snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’).

Here is the plant a month or so later, after the frost has nipped 
the leaves and the chili's have ripened to red and orange.