August 31, 2012

Blue Moon

There’s a blue moon this evening. The moon is full tonight for the second time this month. That’s what a blue moon is.

It’s quite shocking to think that it’s September already. The summer has just flown by.

Have a great long weekend if you’re in the US, and a great weekend everywhere else!

These pictures were taken with my little Canon Elph 310HS, which is an amazing little camera.

I love that I can take excellent macro images of things an inch away and also pretty good images of the moon, 238,900 miles away.

August 30, 2012

Magic Mirror

Several months ago, The Peak of Chic had some images from and an interview with long-time designer and one-time Billy Baldwin collaborator, Edward Zajac.  In the piece, he described some of his favourite pieces, including an amazing mirror that was shortly to go up for auction at Bonhams. He describes the mirror as “trembling and twinkling” against the wall. I was charmed.

Peak of Chicvia

Fast forward to the auction when a friend bought two of the Zajac mirrors and brought them to my friend David at McLain-Wiesand to duplicate for sale though John Rosselli.

I immediately went over to David’s to check out the mirrors and loved them even more in person. We had many long conversations trying to suss out exactly how they were made – and they were all handmade by Mr. Zajac and his partner. Since David is way more clever than I, he was able to piece together each step in the process from figuring out how the little satellites were made and attached, to the way the mirrors were coloured, to the angles of the mirrored pieces around the edges, and so on.

David and his craftsmen/women finished the mirrors this week, and before they shipped them up to Rosselli, I went to the workrooms to take some pictures of the final product.The mirrors are delightful. They do tremble and twinkle in the light… especially when someone’s dancing with a statue in front of them.

Seriously, I had no question that David would be able to figure out how to make these mirrors and do an amazing job. I am pretty impressed that it only took him a few weeks work through all of the logistics and bring the project to completion.zajac mirror (24)That man’s gonna go places!

August 29, 2012

Paralympics 2012

To me, the Paralympics are even more inspiring than the “real” Olympics. I realize that you have to be talented to run, jump and balance like these athletes, but it takes even more will-power and skill and dedication to do this with a physical handicap. Who amongst us didn’t choke up a bit while watching Oscar Pistorius from South Africa run on his specially-designed blades, and then have the race’s winner ask to trade name tags?image

Even before the Paralympics started, the numbers were already record-breaking. Consider that in Beijing, 150,000 attended the Paralympic Games, while in London, more than 70,000 attended just the opening ceremonies, and more than 2.5 million tickets have been sold. Many of the events are sold out, including the wheelchair rugby I mentioned recently.image

The Opening Ceremonies took on a scientific tone with Prof. Stephen Hawking narrating them. There were also nods to the Newtonian laws of gravity with a giant apple, imageand the Higgs-Boson particle being interpreted in song and dance. image

I love fireworks and planes, imageso I would have loved to see this plane trailing fireworks flying across the evening sky. image

A flame was lit from flint and stone on each of the highest peaks in Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales by abled and disabled Scouts, military personnel and others, and then the flames were brought together to light the Torch. Here’s Lord Coe and a group on Mt. Snowdon, Wales’ highest peak (and one the most dangerous in the UK) on a beautiful Welsh summer afternoon (hahaha).imageAnd the final flame was brought in by a Royal Marine who flew in on a zipline!image

Most unfortunately, it’s not going to be easy to see the Paralympics in the US, as they’re not being shown on network television (shame on them!), but if you use my magical, you can switch your IP address to a UK one and watch the Paralympics via the BBC.

August 28, 2012

We Be Jammin’…

… To paraphrase the old Bob Marley song.

Indeed, I made the Drunken Fig Jam I wrote about. I knew I had a farewell dinner for my English cousins who’ve been visiting for the past few weeks, and thought the fig jam would be a perfect hors d’oeuvre for the dinner. I started the jam at night, mainly because the first step was to macerate the figs in sugar for an hour at room temperature. This brings out the juices, since aside from the juice, the only other liquid is the brandy bourbon.

I cut the figs into quarters, and then added them to the heavy-bottomed copper pot. The recipe called for four cups of sugar, but since the figs were very ripe, I cut that down by about half. I added the lemon peel and the bourbon, since I didn’t have any brandy, and let it sit overnight. When I looked at it in the morning, it was very juicy.Before I started cooking it, I gave it a couple of whizzes with the immersion blender to break up the figs. The recipe said to mash the mixture with a potato masher, which I do not own.

After cooking for about 15 of the 30 minutes, I could really see the texture of the figs begin to break downand the colour start to change as it boiled down.I must admit that I did add about a quarter of a teaspoon of pectin, because I was not certain that the jam would set. In thinking about it now, I probably didn’t need to do this. I also fished out the large strips of the lemon because many of the commenters on the Epicurious recipe said that it was bitter.

It was great to be able to use my Weck jars for their real purpose, instead of for left-overs. I use the 12.5 oz. mold size, which are perfect for something like jam.

I think that the jam was a success. I served it with a locally-made goat cheese, which was a perfect foil for the sweetness of the jam. I should have served it on nicer crackers, but all I had were Triscuits. (don’t you LOVE the plate?)

August 27, 2012


My Greek neighbour came over and presented me with a small box of fresh figs from his tree! figsHe said that these will be the only ones I get this year because of all of the rain we got over the weekend. Figs do not like rain (think Greece and Turkey).

I want these figs to last a little while, so I am going to make some fig jam. and use my Weck jars to can it. imageIf you click the image, you’ll find a recipe for fig and lavender jam. But I am not going to make that one. I think it will taste like hand-cream.

I am going to make Drunken Fig Jam from Epicurious.

  • 2 lemons
  • 4 pounds ripe fresh figs (preferably black), stemmed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 9 cups)
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup brandy or Cognac
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • Using vegetable peeler, remove peel from lemons (yellow part only) in long strips. Cut peel into matchstick-size strips (about 3 tablespoons).

    Combine lemon peel, figs, sugar, brandy, and 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt in heavy large deep saucepan; let stand at room temperature 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

    Bring fig mixture to boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium; continue to boil until jam thickens and is reduced to 6 cups, stirring frequently and occasionally mashing mixture with potato masher to crush large fig pieces, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from heat.

    Ladle mixture into 6 hot clean 1/2-pint glass canning jars, leaving 1/4-inch space at top of jars. Remove any air bubbles. Wipe jar threads and rims with clean damp cloth. Cover with hot lids; apply screw bands. Process jars in pot of boiling water 10 minutes. Cool jars completely.

    And I am going to use my way cool Weck jars to can the jam!imageThey are now available at your local Williams-Sonoma, and I bought some a few weeks ago when I had a surplus of limes, and made lime curd.

    What would you do with figs?

    PS… I have just added a new label for my posts: Someone’s in the Kitchen. Pretty amazing, since I basically didn’t cook for about six years.

    August 26, 2012

    Le Weekend

    How was your weekend? Lots going on here.

    I came across a photographic essay about relocating from a chateau in France to a significantly smaller Victorian terrace (row) house in London, and just loved what the owner had done in the translation.

    How amazing is that piece on the left? It looks like a cross between a display case and a huge finial for a building. And I love the rolling cart in the center with the pillows on it.


    I love the hidden aspect of this spiral staircase.image

    Even though the space is contemporary, the furnishings are vintage and antique. image

    I have a similar vintage light in my workroom, and similar French copper pots and pans in my kitchen.image

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    A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail from Carolina Con at Gracious Style, asking if I’d like to try a new range of laundry products – LeBlanc in the Blue Violet scent. Now, I am sure you’re not thinking that doing laundry’s very exciting, but after five years of not having on-site laundry facilities, I am thrilled to be able to do laundry at home. And if I can do laundry with something that smells fabulous and works wonderfully, I am all the happier.I had inadvertently left some clothes in the washer and they got that gawd-awful mildewy smell on them, which I became very familiar with after spending lots of time on boats. The smell actually gags me, but I am sure that’s more than you want to know. I wanted to make sure the re-do of the clothes got them clean and fresh-smelling, and I have to say, these LeBlanc washes and dryer sachets did the trick. Even though these products are made for fine linens, I was washing t-shirts, trousers and more, and the wash did an excellent job. Everything smelled so delicious, that I can’t wait to wash my bed linens with them. And I especially can’t wait to try the Linen Wash spray on my ironing. And I am a total dork and LOVE to iron.

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    On Friday night, 13 of us attended the Orioles-Toronto Blue Jays baseball game. It was a great game, with one of our players going three at-bats and three homers! baseball gamePlenty of peanuts, popcorn, beer and a margarita or two were consumed during the game, and then afterwards, we all loved the spectacular fireworks, shot off from the bullpen game2

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    We got a couple of inches of rain a series of three massive thunderstorms that began at six in the morning. I don’t know who needed the drugs more – me or Connor. I took this picture sitting in my car, waiting for the rain to lighten up, so I could run into the house. storm

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    Don’t forget to try and watch a bit of the Paralympics which begin later this week. imageIf you’ve never seen it, see if you can catch a bit of the wheelchair rugby. imageIt’s not called Murderball for nothing. Every one of the 12,000 seats in the arena has sold for each of the matches…in just three days. Overall, more than 2 million tickets to the Paralympic events have been sold.

    How was your weekend?

    August 23, 2012


    Have you seen the website, My friend Andrea sent the link to me. It’s HILARIOUS!image

    People send in pictures of their dogs with a note about what bad things the dog has done.image

    There are a lot of knickers-eating dogs, and thank god mine’s not one of them, and lots of funny dogs.image

    I decided with all of the things that Connor’s done, I should submit a picture.

    This one? Slurp!

    Or this one?

    Who could believe that this noble dog could inflict such damage?


    August 22, 2012

    Pumpkins: Update 4

    It’s just amazing what a few rainy evenings will do for plants! I think the “big” pumpkin has doubled in size in the past week.

    And all of a sudden, I am noticing a lot more smaller pumpkins on the vines.It’s a little hard to see, but there are three in this picture.

    Their stems are initially very slender, and then all of a sudden, they really thicken to hold the weight of the pumpkin.

    The pumpkins in the front are very different from the ones out back.

    They’re longer and much paler.This one almost looks like a watermelon, but I am pretty sure it’s not, because all of the seeds came from the same packet.

    The flowers are so fascinating, and when they’re blooming, they’re bright orange and about 6-8 inches across. But before they blossom, they’re strange looking.
    They are very dramatic.

    I have one of David’s pieces on my front steps and it looks like it’s about to chomp on one of the vines.

    I am still intrigued with the tendrils and how they’re just grasping for anything they can wind themselves around. And when they don’t find something to grasp, they just keep winding themselves into a tight spiral.