Archive for February, 2012

dyylhjWell, I finally did it.  I bought an iPad. I have wanted one for a long time and waited mostly because I didn’t really “need” one.  I have loved using my iPod touch, with all the apps and it has been an indispensable tool in my life for the past few years – so I knew I the iPad would be great, and it is.

I love it and have been playing with it nonstop since I go it.  What I have not done yet is find the right cover to protect it when I am carrying it around.  There are many choices out there, from very nice high end leather cover from folks like Coach, to the perfectly fine and functional cover you can pick up at any department store.  But I am holding out for something really cool.

The other day I was flipping through a past issue of Ladies Home Journal (while visiting my mother – I swear) and came across a great piece on Do-It-Yourself gifts that included instructions for a Vintage Book E-Reader Cover.

The idea is that you convert an old book with a cool cover design into a fun and function cover for your iPad, Nook, or Kindle.  Although part of me resists the idea of destroying an old book, I love the thought of repurposing one for this positively cool use.

I have bookmarked the LHJ page that describes how to convert a book into an iPad cover and the search is on for the perfect book.

Check out the instructions for the DYI Vintage Book E-Reader Cover
from LHJ here.

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With Valentine’s Day tomorrow, I have been thinking about love.  Although Valentine’s Day is for lovers, I like to think about sharing with everyone in my life whom I love.

Alas, some of our greatest loves may have passed away.  I was touched last November while visiting a cemetery in Assisi when I came across a crude heart made of stones on a tomb.

On the eve of Valentine’s Day when we celebrate the special someone in our lives, let’s also remember past loves, old loves and loveones gone.

Cemetary.Heat.11.2011

a.lincolnThere was a time in this great nation when the birthdays of Presidents Washington and Lincoln were civic holidays.  It may be one of the strange twists of fate that both birthdays were in February, and subsequently the holidays were combined into “Presidents’ Day” – meant to honor Washington, Lincoln and all our chief executives.

But I contend that not all presidents are created equal, and some still deserve special attention.  Mostly certainly, Abraham Lincoln is one such person.

So today, on the 203 anniversary of the birth of President Lincoln, we pause to reflect on his life and contributions to preserving the Union and the freedoms we enjoy today.

As a tribute to President Lincoln, we present the text of the Gettysburg Address, still powerful and stirring after all these years.

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

lcvI am pretty sure most of the Valentines I receive this year (if I receive any) will be tiny little pieces of thin paper with images from Disney’s Cars 2 on them.  Someday even these little gems will have a nostalgic look to them.  In the meantime, I enjoying looking at vintage Valentines like the kind that at well curated at the online Vintage Valentines Museum.

The Vintage Valentines Museum has hundreds of old Valentines sorted by category and easy to scroll through to enjoy.  I love looking at the artwork and cheeky sayings and wondering what it was like to receive such a card back in the day.

The Vintage Valentines Museum’s collection includes: “tokens of Love or classroom exchanges, valentine cards vary from sincere to silly to some real oddities. Our constantly updated selection includes postcards, flats, mechanicals, pop-ups, dimensional, cartoon characters, honey combs, flats, folded, french-fold, stand-up, shelf-edge sitters, table-top displays and more.”

I encourage you to check out the museum and enjoy the great images and feel like a giddy schoolchild all over again.

Tour the Vintage Valentines Museum here.

HotelCWhat is Valentine’s Day without the hear-shaped box of chocolates?

My go to place for chocolates on special occasions for the past few years has been Hotel Chocolat, the fine British purveyor of sweets.

Hotel Chocolat has a full line of Valentine’s gifts that will surely show your loved one that you truly care.  You still have time to order and have them delivered in time for next week’s holiday.

From the folks at Hotel Chocolat:  “Chocolate is the unspoken language of love. From the heady blend of classic romance, passion and intrigue of the ‘Sealed with a Kiss selection’, to the irresistible gift bag of goodies that is the ‘Be Mine Concierge Bag!’ You will find the perfect Valentine gift to tell your “someone special” exactly how you feel.”

By the way, a plug for my favorite line of Hotel Chocolat products – their Liquid Chocolat hot chocolate mixes.  Seriously this stuff will make you realized that you have never had hot chocolate before.  It even rivals the hot chocolate at the Wellfleet Market.

Find Hotel Chocolat’s Valentine’s Day line here.

See more about Hotel Chocolat’s Liquid Chocolat here.

Meanwhile, I love the trend of sea salts on candy like the chocolate covered sea salt caramels of Indulge.

From the folks at Indulge Caramels:  “The chocolate covered sea salt caramels are finally back! It took us a while to get back in the swing of things after the holidays, but we finally finished a big batch, and they’re ready to go out to your Valentine (or just to you)! Enjoy.”

Find the chocolate covered sea salt caramels of indulge here.

HSCJust in time for Valentine’s Day I came across this great Le Creuset Heart Casserole available exclusively from Broadway Panhandler.  I love enameled cast iron ovens, as reader of Lost Cowboy know, and no one makes better enameled cast iron cookware than the French and the folks at Le Creuset.

About the Le Creuset Heart Casserole“The Heart Casserole combines the performance and quality of cooking in Le Creuset enameled cast iron with a little romance. The appealing shape with scalloped side handles makes it ideal for gift-giving as well as decoration.  Whether it’s a Valentine’s Day gift or a surprise anniversary dinner, the Heart Casserole is a special way to celebrate any romantic occasion. Its functional 2-quart capacity allows for preparing a variety of recipes and the heart-shaped lid seals in heat and moisture like all Le Creuset enameled cast iron ovens.”

This great Le Creuset Heart Casserole is the perfect vessel in which to cook a lovely Valentines Day dinner for that special person in your life.  To sum up my life this Valentine’s Day week: got pot, need special someone.

Find the Le Creuset Heart Casserole available exclusively from Broadway Panhandler here.

Find all the great kitchen products of Broadway Panhandler here.

AMCbookEvery now and then I need to take a break from the heavy reading of big novels and historical nonfiction.  When that happens I like to pick up a reference book or thumb through a cook book and learn more about things of which I had little or no previous knowledge.  This time around I dove into The American Cocktail – 50 Recipes that Celebrate the Craft of Mixing Drinks from Coast to Coast, by Karen Foley and the Editors of Imbibe magazine and great photographs by Sheri Giblin.

I have never been much of drinker, until recent years when I discovered bourbon, so I had little knowledge about cocktails, although I love the whole idea of the mid-century cocktail culture.  I also  love all the vintage barware and things that went along with it.

Anyway, I wanted to learn more about classic mixed drinks after a recent conversation with friends about bourbon, and what cocktails have it in it.  The American Cocktail did the trick and now I have a much better working knowledge of various drinks, what it takes to make them.

About The American Cocktail – 50 Recipes that Celebrate the Craft of Mixing Drinks from Coast to Coast : “France has wine, Germany’s got beer, but America is the land of the cocktail. And cocktail culture is flourishing with bartenders across America combining local, artisanal, and homemade ingredients to create drinks with complex layers of flavor. From the editors of Imbibe Magazine comes this unique book filled with 50 favorites from some of the best bartenders coast to coast offering modern twists on classic drinks, plus all-new creations, complete with a look into each recipe’s inception and unique ingredients.”

I like the idea of hosting a party – a cocktail party if you will – where you serve a signature drink, one specialty drink that has been picked for the night.  I famously did this one time at an engagement party for a dear friend.  I made pitcher after pitcher of mojitos – and was told by those who know their stuff that I had a heavy hand with the alcohol.  With the help of The American Cocktail I now have some other great drinks to try at future events and may have a better handle on exactly how much of each ingredient to mix in – so we don’t have a repeat of the bride-to-be’s future sister-in-law dancing on the dining room table.

The American Cocktail – 50 Recipes that Celebrate the Craft of Mixing Drinks from Coast to Coast is available from Amazon and other fine retailers.
BOOK

Another dramatic picture of Mount Chocorua in Tamworth, NH in midwinter.  Once again I am awed by the ever-changing beauty of this sight.

Today there was a cold wind blowing across the lake as one brave ice fisher can be seen setting up his shack in the middle of the frozen water.

I love the shadows and snow on the mountain that highlight its great contours.  There is no wonder why so many artists have camped in this very spot over the centuries to capture Chocorua’s beauty.

chocorua.02.07.2012

russian.dollsHere is one of the most perfect pairings of medium and subject I have seen in a long time – a set of Russian Nesting Dolls featuring past and present leaders of the USSR and Russia.

I received this set as a birthday gift this past Christmas (a long story) from my lifelong friend Deb.  The second I opened it and saw the outer Mikhail Gorbachev doll I knew what was in store.  As I opened each one, I was praying the would be a Brezhnev, and sure enough he was there along with Yeltsin, Putin and yes, even Stalin.  Just so great!

I try to resist the urge of looking up presents like these online, as I want to appreciate the gift for what it is.  But I did do a quick search and found similar sets for sale, but I did not see this exact set – but again I did limited research and I am sure with a little more legwork you could find a set easily.

I was just so thrilled to receive this wonderful gift and these dolls have quickly become a fixture on my kitchen shelves.

russian.dolls