Rearranging

Hmm…what is this stuff doing sitting out in the yard?
IMG_4626 - Version 2We were able to salvage a couple of the old cabinets from the kitchen demolition so I could put them in the workshop and add some much-needed storage out there.

So, last week, I moved a ton of stuff out of the way and Mike (my lovely builder) did just that.

It took me parts of two days afterwards to get everything stowed away to my satisfaction.

Here’s how it looks now (and please forgive the horrendous photos – the shop is lit with big old fluorescents).

IMG_4686 - Version 2There are the “new” cabinets on the wall.  That’s a wreath I’m working on currently on the big red table.IMG_4689 - Version 2

And, ooh whee, look at all the goodies I stowed inside.IMG_4683 - Version 2

Here is a peek at the old workbench with an army of Santas and other wonderful things on top.  It was fun to have to rearrange everything and it makes me happy to look at all these goodies when I am out there.

IMG_4679 - Version 2

These fellows are smiling away on the top of an old mantel that was salvaged from the basement.IMG_4680 - Version 2

Ho ho ho.

I fear I need an intervention.

Tomato Tart for Dinner…and Other News

IMG_4477 - Version 2

The other night, I decided to try out a recipe for the first time in the newly remodeled kitchen (we are still waiting for the tile to come or else I would show you more pictures).  Since I had a platter full of homegrown tomatoes on the counter that desperately needed to be made into something, I decided on the Tomato Tart out of the Beekman 1802 Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook.

Yes, it’s the rather distressed looking book on the top shelf.  Or should I say dog-eared?  That would be because Emma P. Buttercup decided it was good enough to eat one evening.  I know the cover looks scrumptious, but really, Emma?  IMG_4475 - Version 2

My copy is particularly precious to me because it was a gift from Brent and Josh, the so-called Fabulous Beekman Boys, founders of Beekman 1802.  In case you have forgotten, I met them in 2011 at the Country Living Fair in Atlanta when they admired my wreaths.  Last year, I was thrilled to be asked to make special wreaths for their holiday website and they have graciously asked me to do it again this year.

Anyway, Josh wrote me a lovely inscription and I almost died when Emma got ahold of my book. Mercifully, she did not eat that very important page.  Whew.IMG_4476 - Version 2But now, on to cooking!  The Tomato Tart is so incredibly yummy that I have to share it with you.

Here is the page with the recipe on it.IMG_4473 - Version 2

First up is making the pastry crust.  I am not a Cordon Bleu quality chef by any stretch of the imagination (that would be the husband) but even I was able to tackle this.IMG_4461 - Version 2All you do is roll out a thawed (but still cold) puff pastry sheet to about 10 x 15 inches.  Put it on a parchment covered baking sheet.

Then, you score it around the edge and prick the middle part all over with a fork. IMG_4462 - Version 2

After that, spread a tablespoon of olive oil over the pricked part.IMG_4463 - Version 2

Got it so far?

Next, get your ingredients together:

1 cup whole-milk ricotta, drained

4 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled

2 large eggsIMG_4464 - Version 2

1/3 cup of chopped fresh basil

IMG_4459 - Version 2

plus 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper.

Mix all this good stuff together in a large bowl. IMG_4467 - Version 2IMG_4468 - Version 2 IMG_4469 - Version 2

Spread your mixture over the center of the puff pastry sheet.

IMG_4470 - Version 2 Then take 3/4 pound of fresh tomatoes, cored, halved, and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices

IMG_4460 - Version 2

and top your pastry with them.  Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of olive oil over it and voila!IMG_4471 - Version 2Bake your tart in a preheated 425 degree oven for 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and the good stuff in the filling is set.IMG_4472 - Version 2

This is how mine looked when I took it out.  Gorgeous!IMG_4479 - Version 2And the taste?  Holy cow was it ever good. Here is what the husband thought, “It tasted like a beautiful cloud that floated around in my mouth, full of joy.”  I swear, that’s exactly what he said.  It really made me laugh. IMG_4481 - Version 2

Don’t worry, I have no intention of suddenly turning this into a cooking blog but since I had not surfaced in a while, I thought it might be nice to share this one yummy thing with all of you.

++++++++++

We are still plugging along, trying to keep husband on an even keel and out of the hospital.  It’s pretty much a full-time job between dialysis and doctor’s appointments.  We are getting very, very close, though, to officially being listed with the University of Virginia for his double transplant.  When I spoke with them yesterday, they felt that something would happen quite soon.  It is a pretty darn scary prospect, that surgery and the recovery, but to continue on as he feels now is simply not an option.  I’m trying to get all my ducks lined up in a row for when we get that phone call – we will have to be ready to go immediately.

I still have not been able to get back to work, the house is still under construction (but almost finished!), and I have had to withdraw from the Country Living Fair in Columbus this month.  I am holding onto the slim hope that I will be able to make it to Atlanta in late October but time will tell.  In the meantime, I expect to get back out to the workshop (hopefully) as early as next week – hurrah!

I have had such nice correspondence from some of you that I am very, very grateful for.  I am keeping a list of who wants me to make them something this year.  If you would like something, just send me a line.  I appreciate everyone’s understanding that what happens is pretty much out of my control right now and that I will do my best to make whatever I can as I am able.

My mom is not doing well.  At 93, she is starting to fail and because Patrick has been so ill this year, I have been unable to visit her since January.  Last week, I managed to make a quick, one-day run up to see her.  I surprised her and it was a lovely, if exhausting, day.  I’m hoping to pull another one off soon.  The clock is ticking; I can’t quite wrap my head around it.  It all seems just too overwhelming right now.

But I took Emma with me for company and we got out for a nice long walk down the lane while Mom had a nap.  It was an incredibly beautiful late summer day, with not an ounce of humidity in the air.  I felt lucky indeed to be able to call this beautiful place home though I have not lived there for 40 years.  And home, I think, is what it will always be.

IMG_4411 - Version 2

Tiny Conversation

IMG_1110 - Version 2Emma P. Buttercup: So, Mom, when are we getting back to work?

Me: Soon, baby girl, soon.  My fingers are itching to make something pretty.

Emma P.: Good.  I’ve missed keeping you company out here.  And I’m hungering for some stray styrofoam peanuts to gnosh on when you’re not looking.

Summer Interlude

It’s been awhile, I know, so I wanted to pop in and let you know that I’m still here.
IMG_4204 - Version 2Summer has come; the heat and humidity are a force to be reckoned with as is usual here in Richmond.  It cheers me to look out this tiny old window in the kitchen as the crape myrtle blossoms sway to the mysterious rhythms of Mother Nature.

Life is still topsy-turvy.

IMG_4022We now know that P needs both a liver and a kidney transplant.  The days and weeks are spent in an endless cycle of medical appointments, dialysis, unexpected hospital stays, and so on.  He has one more test to do before we meet with the transplant team at UVA, hopefully later this month, to see if they will accept him into their transplant program.  It all seems surreal.

The kitchen reno is almost done (4 months and counting – I promise to post pictures of the whole process down the road) and now we have embarked on a bathroom reno which was necessitated by the need for a walk-in shower.  I think I may not know what to do with myself when the house returns to normal.

All travel plans for me are on hold right now so the schedule is very much up in the air.  I am sorry particularly not to be able to make it to The Golden Glow of Christmas Past convention later on this month.  Maybe next year.

I have not been able to get back to work yet; other than P’s health, there is a laundry list of  “unfortunate events” that have plagued us recently: sewer line backups, car flooding, computer crashing, enormous tree having to be taken down ($$$$). Pile it on why don’t you.

I’m not actually complaining; just floating with the tide (even when it seems to be a flood).

I confess that I have indulged in a little bit of shopping in anticipation of actually getting back to work.  The day cannot come soon enough.  Keep your fingers crossed that it is soon!

IMG_3951

Emma P is apparently taking the summer easy.  Dog days.  As it should be.  IMG_0034I hope that all of you are enjoying the lazy, hazy days, too.

Happy summer!

Slowly

IMG_00152015 continues to be a roller coaster ride that I am strapped into whether I like it or not.  It’s been both scary and tedious, wrenching and uplifting, this ride off into the unknown.  But whatever else it has been and will continue to be, it’s chock full of life lessons that I’ve either got to ride out or run from.  I’ve decided to go with the first scenario.  And that’s not because I am particularly brave.  I’m not.  It’s because, at the risk of sounding ridiculously stuck in a cliché moment, it’s the path my feet are telling me is the one to take.

If you read my next-to-the-last post, you know that things have been pretty unsettling around here. After 2 very long hospital stays with a 3 1/2 week physical rehab sandwiched in between, my husband had been away from home for 3 long months.  Finally, about 2 weeks ago, he got sprung.

This sign was put on the back gate by our next-door neighbors.  When I saw the yellow ribbon, I started to cry.

This sign was put on the back gate by our next-door neighbors. When I saw the yellow ribbon, I started to cry.

This was his first view of home when we pulled into the driveway. Spring in all its glory.

This was his first view of home when we pulled into the driveway. Spring in all its glory.

It’s been very challenging but he is so very happy to be home that it’s worth it.  We have a long, difficult road ahead of us to bring him back to health but it will happen.  Slowly.

The kitchen is still undergoing its transformation.  We are into month 3 now. Slowly.IMG_3360 - Version 2

It actually it much further along than this!  Thank goodness.

In the meantime, I still have not been able to work.  Or do much else for that matter. I worry about whether or not I will be able to make the trip to the Country Living Fair in early June; or to Ireland later on in the month.  My gut is telling me that they are not going to happen.  It’s ok – it is what it is.

Gaby's face tells it all.

Gabby’s face says it all.

Nevertheless, I cannot deny that the itch is there to be scratched. I’m dying to get back to work. I’ve been able to carve out a few hours in the past few days to try to organize things in my workshop so that I have room to start on a project.  Since early December, I have just been shoving stuff in there higgledy-piggledy until I could barely get inside the door.

Some treasures have been arriving in the mail lately, too.IMG_3780

This cat has a boot fetish apparently.

This cat has a boot fetish apparently.

These beauties are what I put away yesterday.

Jumbo Polands!

Jumbo Polands!

I can now see light on the horizon!

And, last week, I got the chance (thanks to a good friend) to sneak away and hear one of my design icons, Richmond native Charlotte Moss, speak at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts about her new book, Garden Inspirations.  I had already purchased my copy of the book in advance and it is gorgeous.  If you are a lover of gardens, as am I, you will have to check it out for yourself.

Charlotte Moss autographing my copy of her book.

Charlotte Moss autographing my copy of her book.

After her talk, there was a book-signing; she was gracious and friendly.  Interestingly, my husband actually was in high school with Charlotte here in Richmond; he says she always wore the coolest knee socks (really, what an odd memory, don’t you think?).  To cap the event off, we were treated to a beautiful luncheon inside the Museum.  Jody and I had a wonderful time meeting the delightful ladies we shared a table with.  It was a much-needed respite and has me dying to get outside and get started on a new garden project.  Or maybe just pot up a few plants.

That photo at the top of this post is kind of how the present is looking to me right now.  It’s murky, unclear, and mysterious.  Perhaps even a bit unsettling.  But see that bright rectangle of light in the center?  That’s the sunny side.  And I’m heading straight for it. Slowly. But surely.

Spring

“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming.” 
― Pablo Neruda

Just a little post to let you know I’m still alive.

Spring is here!