Tuesday, April 27, 2010

By the book

I have about fifty cookbooks of all kinds, but my all-time favorites remain the charity cookbooks. These interesting compendia of recipes are typically put together by women's organizations, such as the Junior League, various hospital committees, and other women's service groups.

Main Line Classics is now in its umpteenth printing and is, I must say, still my go-to choice for easy and yummy cooking. It is still produced by the Saturday Club in Wayne, PA here on Philadelphia's Main Line. I love the fact that each recipe is attributed in the old style. Its newer, spiffier version is lovely to look at and very glam, but for me lacks the charm of the precursor. I also love the sweet salute to the train stations that gave the Main Line its name.

Another cookbook I adore-but for entirely different reasons--is Charleston Receipts. First published in 1950 by the Junior League of Charleston, it is a monument not only to old-time Southern cooking, but to a lost way of life and graciousness as well. (Many recipes actually begin with a first step that includes instructing one's help to set up the ingredients.)

And the use of "receipts" instead of "recipes" is also an anachronistic reference that is just delightful.

So popular, it was re-edited and updated

I find this foreword extraordinary. Within the first few paragraphs, the "dilemma" of the post-war homemaker is revealed: where is all the kitchen help I grew up with, who didn't need written "receipts?" The solution? A handy cookbook designed for the new realities of cooking for one's husband and family.

My cousin had a hand in putting CR together. Anne Montague--from whom our dear dog's name is derived--apparently tied on a starched linen apron and got down to it, contributing many recipes herself. (Never under her maiden name, of course--but as Mrs. Arthur J. Stoney.)

Flashback to the Bicentennial: Trinity Presbyterian in Berwyn cooks

For Memorial Sloan Kettering...a gorgeous book with lovely recipes...

The swankier, 21st-century Main Line

Benefitting Episcopal Academy

Just used two of these books this past weekend for our son's Eagle Court of Honor party for 50...

Whisking away,

Monday, April 26, 2010

Eagle Scout Court of Honor

Our son celebrated his Eagle Scout Court of Honor on Saturday. This is Scouting's highest rank achievement, and only 2% of those in Scouts will achieve it. It was not easy, what with wrestling, tennis and rugby, along with Student Council and staying an honor student.

The Court of Honor ceremony is very formal, attended by various representatives and dignitaries. He received commendations and citations from everyone from the President and Vice President, Senators and Congressmen, the Governor, State Legislature, and the various branches of the U.S. Military.

With State Representative Tim Hennessey

He is bound for Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in Lexington, VA, where he will study Biology. He wants to be a doctor.

We are so very proud of him!

Can't believe it's gone so fast,

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Inspired by Templeton

Montague, 7 months old, Summer 2009

Thoughts are with friend Summer is Verb this day and night...prompting reflections on our own four-footed family.

I was a cat and dog Mommy long before being a Mommy to my children. I do think it was important to have done it that way.

Friends who had children after pets often said, "Wait till you have kids. Your pets will become just...pets." Boy were they wrong.

Lilly, 8 weeks old, Summer 2009

Jack, 14 years old, Summer 2009

Jessie, 9 years old, April 2010

George, 1995-2009, 14 years old, Summer 2009

Our dear Jack, our remaining whippet, is hanging on for dear life...with many frailties that break the heart at the same time they inspire admiration in his owners. We see through him and Jessie the ageing process, as we see the jubliance of lives just beginning with Lilly and Montague.

They are all precious. A cruel joke that their life spans are not equal to ours.

Actor and author Rupert Everett, in his witty and warm memoir Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins, relates the passing of his beloved black lab Mo. In eloquent words he describes the arc of the dog owner's relationship with his charge, lamenting the fact that when the pet is but a puppy, the owner is the "father" with his silly child. As the dog matures, the relationship transitions to one of brother and contemporary. Lastly, and all too soon, the dog is an old man, looking askance at his owner's goofy entreaties to "come on, now...you can do it!" In the end, the owner is the child, with the dog as the wizened and wiser oldster. With Jack, we are there now. And sometime soon...

To Templeton, God Bless.

To Alice...what a loving mommy.

On paws,

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Chippendale chairs

Philadelphia-made side chair, one of six, circa 1779

I have always been fond of Chippendale...chairs and sofas. This is likely the result of my mother, grandmother and so on back in my family, all of whom have also been Chippendale-inclined.

Thomas Chippendale was a furniture maker of the mid to late 18th century. He was probably born in 1718 but there is no record of his birth, only his baptism in that year. He was the son of an Otley, Yorkshire, England carpenter and most likely an apprentice to his father. He published a manual about the style of chairs he was creating, thus spreading the word of his designs.

Chippendale chairs were made in England and the colonies. Many were made right here in Philadelphia in the late 1700's.

There are six different basic Chippendale style legs. These are the lion’s paw, the ball and claw, the late Chippendale, the Marlborough, the club and the spade. Three of the styles are based on the cabriole shape, which is an elegant, serpentine style ending in a distinctive foot. These include the lion’s paw, which ends with a lion paw shaped foot, the club, which is a simple round foot and the ball and claw, which looks like a claw holding a ball. The remaining leg styles are straight with the Marlborough being a plain, square leg; the spade a tapered round leg often with a square or trapezoid foot and the late Chippendale having a square leg with a square foot.

There are many variations on the basic leg styles, but close observation will reveal the basic pattern. If carving is present, and it most likely will be to some degree, it will be detailed and deeply cut. Leg joints will be precisely done with evidence of handwork. Check for repairs where the leg and seat frame meet. Sometimes, chair legs will have been cut down at the bottom to a shorter stature and this lessens the value of the chair.

Stretchers are the horizontal rungs between chair legs. They are sometimes present in Chippendale style chairs. These, too, will be well joined, show evidence of handwork and will often be carved.

The chair backs will vary by the intended purpose of the chair. There are upholstered backs, rail backs, ladder backs, rung backs, splat backs, carved backs and in the case of stools and window seats, no backs. Often there will be piercing, where the solid wood has been pierced through as part of the back detail. One popular splat (back support) type is the lyre shape. Joinery will be well done and show evidence of handwork.

We use our chairs all the time--at our dining room table, in the drawing room and library, and we even drag them onto the porch if we don't have the outdoor furniture out yet. They're meant to be used, not just preserved.

Sitting pretty,

Monday, April 19, 2010

Wall of Honor

Yesterday my family attended a special dedication of the Veterans Wall of Honor at Washington Memorial Chapel in Valley Forge. This exquisite mini-cathedral is a national monument in Valley Forge National Park, overlooking the site of General Washington's winter encampment during the Revolutionary War. The Chapel also is a functioning and vital Anglican parish. Spousey and I were married there.

A bronze plaque was dedicated in my father's name. We honored him for his five years of service as an officer in World War II.
A service in the chapel at which 170 people were in attendance was followed by a lovely reception.

A beautiful day.

Missing you Daddy,
Your Annie

Friday, April 16, 2010

Penn Club of New York

One of my great pleasures is my membership in the Penn Club of New York. This stately and fun private establishment within walking distance of everything is our home-away-from-home on our frequent trips to the city.

The parties, All-Ivy cocktail hours, breakfasts-lunches-dinners, stimulating symposia, gorgeous dining and social areas and gracious guest rooms are all top-notch. Best of all, it's still a place where white-gloved and uniformed service exists as in yesteryear.

Their annual member holiday bash is a must, as are numerous other calendar events.

If you are a Penn alum, I would advise you give it serious consideration, especially if you live either in town or in the northeast in general. Just look for the lovely blue awning!

Moving and Quakering,

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Coral arts

The arrival today by post via Palm Beach of the J McLaughlin "Catherine" pant was a convenient sartorial detour from more practical matters. This pant--I got the very last pair in the U.S., according to the Wayne store's Carolyn--features sequins nested dazzlingly amongst the reefs and nets.

I was reminded as I gazed that the jewel box featured some ideal complements.

Kenny Lane's hinged coral bangle...

Meg Carter's beautiful coral-and-pearl studs...

This pretty coral-and-pearl bracelet from some jeweler in Annapolis...

And lastly, my fave necklace--a major coral-and-pearl extravaganza that works so well with so many of the J Mac pieces...

Can't wait to strut my sea-worthy stuff very soon!

Coral one, pearl two,

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Vintage Variety

Seems many of us bloggers share a mild obsession with Van Cleef & Arpels, specifically, the Vintage Alhambra collection. It seems to have been all the rage for a few years, but was originally introduced in the 1960s, which is where most of my pieces hail from. No, we have not had to go the poorhouse over Alhambra, thank God!

I must admit I enjoy the long turquoise piece the best. Wore it out to see a bad movie Saturday night (Clash of the Titans, in 3-D, no less) with a black pants suit, turquoise Jack Rogers, and a turquoise Lilly teeny purse. Much fun.

The mother-of-pearl necklace has become the most sought-after. I had to have mine retooled by the jeweler to shorten it a bit. Typically it has 10 "stations" as the "clovers" are called. I have the extra length and "clovers" and can have additional things made from them.

Interesting fact: they're not actually supposed to be clovers! Each one is evocative of the quatrefoil in Moorish architecture.

The earrings are sort of a bonus--I hardly ever pair them with the necklaces...way too matchy-matchy.

Vintage vixen,

Monday, April 12, 2010

A cookie, a dog and a face cream

Everone who knows me knows that I am a PF fanatic. Every pantry is always well-stocked with a full supply, in case of blizzards and other PF supply-preventing natural disasters. There is no other cookie, truly.

I am also similarly obsessed with Creme de la Mer, the famous skin care cream invented by a NASA scientist to treat and heal jet-oil burns suffered by astronauts. This incredible treatment cream lives up to its lauded name, and I use it for much the same purposes: wounds, scars and the like.

That's why, when my beloved Montague Myles Lake had to have a small "procedure" (the removal of a suspicious looking mole on his otherwise perfect chest...yes, it was nothing), I naturally turned to my old standby to minimize his tiny little scar.

He has developed quite a liking to the treatment, looking at it as an opportunity for a little bed-hockey with Mommy.

Am I being too...silly? Is it over-indulgence to tend to his wound with one of the most luxurious skin creams on the market?

I don't think so.

Time for a cookie, Montague.

With cookies and cream,

About Me

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Living well is the best revenge...and a choice we make every day. Join me as I celebrate the bounty of beauty in all its forms: fashion, homestyle, accessories and everyday richness...as I juggle the roles of Mommy, wife, daughter, dog mommy, creative director, Zumba instructor, volunteer...all with more than a passing glance backward to an old-school, classic time when style was a way of life