Strawberries and a Spring Garden

One of our children must spend every penny given to him.  So when he walked with a friend to the Grower’s Market, I was curious to know how he would spend every one of those pennies in his pocket.  He did so successfully on strawberries.  Pounds of strawberries, in fact.

I met Deb of Smitten Kitchen at my high school reunion a couple of years ago (was a bit starstruck!) and as much as I loved her blog, I hadn’t tried many of her recipes.  Really I just enjoyed her beautiful pictures and clever commentary.  Lately though I have been dipping into more and more of her recipes and clearly she knows what she’s doing.  This Strawberry Summer Cake  will be your go-to for picnics, summer barbecues and neighbor gifts – trust me.  And, Wendy, had I made it to the Devon Horse Show this would have come along . . .

This cake provides the perfect segue into my next and latest find – Dishfunctional.  It’s a bit difficult to tell but the pie plate above is sitting on a silver (plate) platter that is one of many purchases from Alfred at Dishfunctional.  He runs an Ebay business out of a 17,000 sq ft warehouse space in my town and occasionally opens up to the public. It is a gold mine.

This is the only picture I took but trust me the place is enormous and filled to the brim with hidden treasures.  I decided to concentrate my efforts on silver plate.  I wanted serving pieces that weren’t too precious.  Here is a bit of my loot before the big soak.

I line my sink with tin foil and dump in a box of baking soda with boiling water to great effect.  This works far better with sterling silver but the silver plate did well, too.

Much better!

I also took home some Waterford crystal wine glasses and double old-fashioned glasses.  These were new in a very dusty box but in mint condition and for a fraction of what I would have paid new.

And, I leave you with some garden pictures. A short-lived but pretty burst of candytuft (Iberis) in my spring garden.  This is a quick spreader and doesn’t need much love but the flowers don’t last for long which is unfortunate as they are so pretty.

Some hibiscus for the pots – freshly planted.

The window boxes are filled with Hostas, Begonias and Caladium.

The Nepeta (Walkers Low) and Geum (Mango Lassi) has started to spill over the edging which is fine with me.

A pot just planted waiting to fill in with petunias, a blue passionflower vine and some helichrysum (licorice plant).

We finally had glass cut for our urn table.  Much better!

I would love to do something like the below but probably not enough air flow.


Bathroom and Kitchen Bling (or not)

One of the reasons I chose subway tile for our master bath project was so that I could spend the extra on the bath fittings.  Here are our Kallista fittings.  They are from Michael S. Smith’s Inigo collection.


Kallista is Kohler’s higher end line and worth every penny.

In our last house, we used Rohl’s Perrin and Rowe line for our faucets.  The faucets come packaged in their own jewelry-like pouches and have a weight to them very different from your standard big fox faucet.

This faucet held up beautifully at our hard-working kitchen sink.

Rohl’s Perrin and Rowe

And we currently have two of these in our master bath.

Perrin and Rowe Viaggio

I have used polished nickel, polished chrome and brushed chrome as finishes but haven’t ventured into brass finishes quite yet.  I have long loved brass, even before it was popular but I am on the fence about using brass fittings.

Here is my Viaggio faucet in brass.

A completely different feel.  Nothing understated about a brass faucet.  For some of us they even provide a time travel vehicle to 1980.

Catchpole and Rye has a gorgeous collection of brass faucets or ‘taps’ (it is a British company).  But as much as I love brass everywhere else, I prefer the polished chrome or polished nickel featured here.

Over the same faucet in brass.

Now why the stylists chose to surround the faucet with soap and flowers in the yellow/orange family is puzzling to me but regardless the brass faucet (even without its sunny props) reads sunshine yellow to me and screams, “I need attention!!!  Look at me!!!”

And this is coming from brass’s biggest fan.

Now there is an exception for me.  And, it’s the kitchen sink faucet.

Brook Giannetti, author, designer and blogger uses unlaquered brass faucets in her Ojai kitchen and really they are quite beautiful and not in the least bit ostentatious.

From Veranda Magazine
From Brooke’s website.
From Brooke’s website.
From Brooke’s website.

The faucet is from Barber Wilsons & Company and is likely a pretty penny.  It will age over time and get that beautiful patina that I personally love about brass so much.

Kitchens seem to date faster than bathrooms and really in 10 years most kitchens need a facelift, no matter how neutral or simple or trend averse.  And because of that, I would consider brass in the kitchen, the unlaquered kind that is.  Of course, my brass faucet would need a Lacanche Range which means I may be sticking with the polished nickel or chrome for a long long time.

from Lacanche


Kitchen Simplicity

Let’s jump across the pond and take a look at these stunningly beautiful kitchens from two UK kitchen companies.  The first, deVOL Kitchens, masters the modern shaker style.  Take note of the minimal upper cabinetry and the abundance of open shelving.  I think I would quickly tire of a dark kitchen in our sunlight-deprived space, but the moody gray-green below is especially appealing to me in pictures.


One of the first kitchen pictures I ran across in a magazine that made my heart go pitter patter was from the UK-based kitchen company Plain English.  If you notice the center islands are not for sitting, they are mostly for working and more often there is a dining table in the center of the kitchen.  The built-in plate racks and hutch pieces are at the top of my wish list for our next kitchen.  And, lest we forget that these kitchens are not just for admiring: the inside of a cupboard . . .

Plain English Design UK
Possibly my favorite kitchen of all time.

Tomorrow I will be back to chat about wood countertops.

RIP Sub-Zero

The year is 1969 and Richard Nixon is inaugurated as the 37th President of the United States, the Apollo 11 astronauts take their first walk on the moon . . . and our refrigerator is installed!!!

We took ownership of this house a year ago this past April and for most of that spring and summer did not notice that the refrigerator was not properly cooling. We weren’t living here and then when we did finally move in the refrigerator died.  Or so we thought.  Miraculously with the help of a Service Pro tech we were able to squeak out another 6 months.  Granted we had to get a college fridge to keep medicines, dairy and meats in, but it got us through a time of indecision.  We hadn’t finalized construction ideas until just recently and so it carried us through until we were ready to make some firm decisions.  And by firm decisions, I mean decisions to make a crazy mess of our kitchen.

In our future new kitchen, we wanted a separate fridge and freezer.  So, we did it and fortunately our future builder had time to install and piece together the parts in a much more sophisticated way than I expected.  The kitchen is still a bit out of sorts as you will see, but it functions and is comfortable.

The old sub-zero which easily weighed what two new ones weigh was hauled out and then the two new units brought in.  Our house is on a hill so they skipped one set of stairs and pulled up hillside.


Here is the old fridge.  Freezer on the bottom.IMG_0680And the new refrigerator – As you can see the units are bigger now than they were in 1969 so our contractor did some creative refitting of panels.



And, here is the new freezer just across the way in the old desk area –


The old cabinets are now in the basement and the granite was given away.  The freezer got temporary new panels and the countertop has since been replaced with a piece of black laminate.

Eventually these two units will live side-by-side but for now it gets the job done.