Thursday, January 26, 2012

Roseville Pottery

am a huge fan of American art pottery: Roseville, Teco, Van Briggle, McCoy. The piece above is a Roseville Pottery vase in the Clematis pattern. According to the website Just Art Pottery, the Roseville Pottery Company began in 1890 in Roseville, Ohio, and made utility pieces. The company moved to Zanesville, Ohio, in the early 1900s and began producing art pottery.

I found this vase at an antiques fair several years ago. The price seemed very good considering it's in excellent condition and it is a fairly large piece. 

I like Roseville very much, but my husband isn't a fan of most of it, which is why we have just one piece. When I spotted this vase at a booth where I also purchased a fair amount of Bakelite cutlery, I asked my husband if he liked it, feeling sure he would say no. But to my surprise, he said he did. I was thrilled! The colors and the pattern appealed to both of us and we knew it would go well with the colors in our dining room. It sits on the sideboard of the built-in cabinet.
The Clematis pattern was introduced by Roseville Pottery in 1944. Pieces were made in brown, green and blue; my color preferences are browns and greens, which look best in our house. Below is a photo showing the Roseville mark on the bottom of the vase. 111 identifies the style of the piece, and 10" is the height.

The other side of the vase, below, has one flower rather than two.
There is an antiques mall near our home that has a case full of beautiful Roseville Pottery. Some of the pieces, like a large vase in the Sunflower pattern, are priced at several hundred dollars. But there is a small piece in the Clematis pattern in the same brown color as this vase that I've been eyeing for a while. I might just have to bring it home with me one day. We'll see ...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Still Life

The space where the Christmas tree was seems a bit bare now, so I moved this sweet antique cane-seat chair to the living room, stacked some design books on it and topped it with a wooden bowl filled with little pine cones. I love bringing little touches of nature into the house. I've always wanted to try forcing branches, such as cherry or forsythia, and this is the right time of year to do so, I believe. Does anyone have any tips on forcing branches that you can share?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Lentil Soup and Birthday Gifts

When my husband and I visited France in May of 2008, one of the things we brought home was a package of small French lentils. I can't believe I haven't used them until now! I went ahead and made lentil soup with them, and they were great! So is this simple vegetarian soup recipe. The mushrooms make it extra hearty. I made a couple of modifications, such as increasing the amount of salt, adding dried thyme and doubling the garlic.

Lentil Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, cut into thin rings (I cut the onion in half first, then sliced it thinly)
1 clove garlic, minced (I used two cloves)
1 cup dry green (French) lentils, rinsed and drained
1 lb. whole white button mushrooms, quartered
4 medium carrots, thinly sliced (2 cups)
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 cups water
14 oz. vegetable broth
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. coarse salt (I used 3/4 tsp.)
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1) In a 4-quart Dutch oven or soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in lentils and cook for 1 minute.

2) Add mushrooms, carrots, celery, water, vegetable broth, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, about 30 minutes or until lentils are tender. Enjoy!

A side note: I received the cute apron below from a friend last week for my birthday. It reads, "Pour. Drink. Repeat." Good advice! I was indeed enjoying a glass of red wine (Dreaming Tree Cabernet Sauvignon, given to me by another friend) while preparing the lentil soup. With the soup, we had French rolls which we dipped in Tuscan herb olive oil, which was given to me by yet another friend along with some delicious aged balsamic vinegar. 

And to round out this year's birthday culinary theme, my husband gave me two lovely gifts: a serrated Wusthof knife to add to my collection, and a set of All-Clad measuring cups and spoons. I love everything kitchen-related, so I was one happy birthday girl.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Pecan-Cherry Muffins

There's nothing like making a batch of delicious muffins from scratch. When I made these yummy pecan-cherry muffins one Sunday morning, I added 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon. The recipe called for buttering and flouring a standard 12-cup muffin pan, but I used paper muffin liners instead, which is much easier! I also ended up with 14 muffins rather than 12. We thought they were very delicious. I hope you do too. Enjoy!

Pecan-Cherry Muffins 

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Set paper muffin liners in a standard 12-cup muffin pan. Set aside.

2) In a small bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, 2 large eggs, 1/2 cup whole milk, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Set aside. 

3) In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: 2 cups all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Make a well in center of dry ingredients; pour egg mixture into well. With a rubber spatula, gently stir ingredients just until batter is moistened (do not overmix; a few lumps are fine). Fold in 3/4 cup chopped pecans and 3/4 cup dried cherries.

4) Spoon batter into lined muffin cups, filling each about 2/3 full (I use a small ice cream scoop). Bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove muffins from pan and let cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. They are best the same day they're made. You can also freeze them in a resealable plastic bag for up to 3 months.

Adapted from an Everyday Food recipe.

Monday, January 9, 2012


I'm in love with beautiful things made of paper: letterpress cards, journals, note cubes, wrapping paper, silk-screened cards -- you name it. But I'm particularly fond of calendars. For 2012, I have three calendars. One was given to me by a friend who knows about my calendar addiction. It features photos of beautiful porches, from Victorian to contemporary. It's hanging in our mudroom. I use it to keep track of dog medications, birthdays, volunteer duties, etc.

The other two calendars are ones I purchased: a Snow & Graham calendar for my desk at home and a Little Brown Pen Paris calendar for at work. 

Snow & Graham, based in Chicago, designs and creates beautiful paper goods, including letterpress cards, wrapping paper and notepads. Their desk calendar comes in a jewel case that doubles as a stand. Each sheet is printed on both sides. The flip side features the same pattern as the front, but without dates so it can be used for crafts or framing (see the birds, below). How smart is that!

Little Brown Pen, a lovely blog I discovered last year, chronicles Nichole Robertson's Paris Color Project photographs. You can purchase her work here on Etsy. This spring, Chronicle Books will publish a collection of her photographs in a book called Paris in Color. I can't wait to buy a copy. Here are some of my favorite photos from the Paris calendar.

What kind of calendar do you use? How many different calendars do you have for 2012? If you're addicted to calendars, pretty cards, stationery or other paper goods, please share!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Winter Grapefruit

Our friend Joe went to see his family in Florida for Christmas, and he brought back some beautiful pink and Ruby Red grapefruit picked fresh from the tree in his parents' front yard. I love all citrus fruits, so receiving these organically grown grapefruits was a treat!

When I was growing up, my mother sometimes served grapefruit at the start of a meal, usually with a dollop of jam in the center. I guess she did this in place of a salad. As a kid, I thought it was normal. Have you heard of this being done, or was it something unique my mom came up with?

For breakfast, she would drizzle a little honey over the grapefruit, which is tasty. But my favorite way to eat it is plain so I can enjoy its natural flavor.

The bamboo-handled grapefruit spoon in these photos is part of a set that had belonged to my grandmother. Their serrated tips work so well I don't even need to segment the fruit first.

Doesn't the sight of this juicy grapefruit make your mouth water?

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