Monday, March 30, 2009

One Dollar - All Tag Sale Shoe Box

Going to tag sales and thrift shops has been a passion for many years. Each time a box of "stuff" is offered the contents can be wondrous, especially if it is "1- all."This is a series of pictures of the contents of one such shoe box.This is group #1. As each batch was revealed, uses and purpose for each piece were considered. A small leather pouch, a stainless lid to a jar, yes, those could be saved. The purple cookie cutter and the red plastic soap box would be given away to a child.Group #2 contained international treasures. There were two sets of bamboo bookmarks from someone's trip to China, and a small terra cotta clay pot with a note inside that declared it to be an "Heirloom pot from the Garden of Windsor Castle!" This would be a gardener's delight especially if reading were a second most consumer of time.Gropup #3 contained a book mark, a mini clay pot that wound up in someone's fish tank, an antique porcelain bisque doll head that had been badly broken, and a small bar of soap probably from a casino, with a colorful poker hand printed on it. There were wooden stirring sticks with ends shaped like stars, covered carefully with paper.The next group, #4, had some practical uses for each item. There were two shoe horns, another bookmark, golf tees, a party gift from "Wendy & Steve's wedding, a shoe brush to "clean old books," a small package of gift tags with black and white cats playing ball.A charming pipe cleaner and bead doll made in some elementary school crafts class, more book marks, a gift bag, a cosmetic brush for applying blush, wooden skewers for a fruit hors-d'oeuvres, two wooden clip-type clothes pins, a pair of scissors,
and a magical acrylic paperweight with a puff of a dandelion inside, made up group #5.The last group pulled from the tag sale shoe box contained a very old package of photo corners, 25 cents! There was a red wax candle in the shape of a ladybug, a package with a wooden monogram type letter "D", an American flag which had "an army of one" printed on it, and a cardboard clock. The flag and the clock were keepers.
An amazing bargain, and $1 for all.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Stuffed Shells with Meat Sauce for Sunday Dinner

Stuffed Shells is a very simple pasta recipe for an elegant Sunday dinner. Your guests will think that it took more work than it actually did! Purchase two boxes of Jumbo pasta Shells, and cook them in a large pot of boiling water. You can choose to add salt or olive oil to the water before boiling.Use one and one half large containers of ricotta cheese,(40 ozs. in a large container), and half a package of shredded mozzarella cheese, (32 ozs. in a package), and a handful of grated Romano cheese for zip.Add some dried basil, parsley, and oregano. Sprinkle in sea salt and pepper. Mix well.Drain slightly under cooked shells in a colander.With a large spoon, scoop up some of the cheese mixture and fill each shell. Arrange shells in several quiche dishes or white glass serving dishes. Two boxes of pasta made this amount.Pour meat sauce over the shells and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.Meat sauce can be prepared prior to cooking the pasta shells. Cut up an onion and chop it into small pieces. Pour two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil into a large stainless steel pot, and brown the onion.Add two large cans of tomato puree (each 28 ozs.) and one small can of tomato paste (6 ozs.). Fill each can 2/3 of the way up with water and pour into the pot. Cook down on low heat.
Render ground beef and ground pork in a cast iron skillet to make a really great tasting sauce. Drain both beef and pork after cooking well. Add browned meat to sauce.Flavor with dried oregano, parsley, and basil, garlic, sea salt and pepper. Add fresh herbs if you grow them in the garden for a really wonderful sauce.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Two Mets

Spending a Saturday at one of the "Mets" in this case the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, is always lovely. Here in the great Foyer is one of the two urns that is loaded with blossoms from cherry tree branches.You can feel time stand still when you walk through the Great hall of Classical Sculptures.This is a Cycladic sculpture of a harp player. Marble seated harp player
Cycladic, late Early Cycladic I–Early Cycladic II, ca. 2800–2700 B.C.
H. with harp 11 1/2 in. (29.21 cm) click here for more info on this period from the MetMore Cycladic sculptures, obvious inspirations for modern artists.Dipylon Vase, 8th Century B.C. Height 42 1/2" (information from W.H. Janson's History of Art.Detail of the Vase above, notice the figure of the horse.A sculpture with a similar horse figure.An early altarpiece.The following Saturday this "Met", the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center featured a performance of Madama Butterfly. The huge banner hanging across the front of the opera house anounces another opera, La Sonnambula.No pictures are allowed in the opera house, but here is the poster outside on the plaza. Information from the Met's web site:
Madama Butterfly
– Giacomo Puccini
This was the Met's 830th performance of this opera.
Saturday, March 7, 2009 (1:00 pm ET)
Running time 3 hours 21 minutes /two intermissions
Patricia Racette returns to the title role of Anthony Minghella’s stunning production, a new classic of the Met repertory, opposite Marcello Giordani.Conductor: Patrick Summers; Production: Anthony Minghella; Patricia Racette, Marcello Giordani

This is an picture that shows the "Puppet" that was used in this production. It was manipulated by three puppeteers draped in black outfits. This was a very interesting element in a production that was not my mother's Madama Butterfly, but very beautiful in its updated scenery and lighting effects. Click here for more information about the Metropolitan Opera.

Monday, March 2, 2009

What to do Inside when there is a Nor'easter Outside

What do you do when there is a Nor'easter dumping snow outside? Re-pot your amaryllis bulbs of course! These amaryllis bulbs were stored in the basement over the winter months in the same pots that they were in all summer. The leaves which feed the bulbs wither and die during their "sleeping" phase.Look for the beginnings of growth as the bulb starts to turn greenRemove the bulb from its pot and shake out the dry soil. Loosen the pot bound roots.Wash clean outer pots which can be found all year at thrift shops and tag sales. White pots look very nice with the intense reds and pinks of the amaryllis flowers, and the extra weight of the ceramic pots helps to keep the plants upright since they will eventually grow very tall.The "orange" home store carries excellent potting soil in huge bags,but you have to go to the local roadside garden center to get a large 40 pound bag of triple phosphate. That sound like a large amount, but every hole that one digs, and pot that one plants should have a handfull of this root promoter.Drop some potting soil into a plastic pot so that it come up half full. Sprinkle a handful of phosphate over that.Place the bulb into the pot and backfill with new potting soil and gently press down around the base of the bulb. Make sure to leave the top half of the bulb showing out of the soil. Water and place in ceramic pots.Line up the pots on a window sill. This one fortunately, has a large florescent fixture over it. That acts like a grow light and increases the growth over time of the amaryllis bulbs. These bulbs require a lot of watering which makes the sink area ideal. The snow and winter is safely outside for now.