Friday Dance Party – Solveig and Dragonette Come To Say Hello

This is another edition of Friday Dance Party on Acorns On Glen.  It’s the time where we give thanks for another week of living.  We give thanks for making it through and for being able to celebrate this fact.  How do we celebrate another week of living?  We dance.  So take a moment and be proud of the fact that you’re here and you’ve made it to another Friday.  Not only you, but your family and friends as well.  So, to that end, are you alive this Friday?  Have you given thanks for this?

Good, now let’s dance.

When I first started this blog, I never imagined how many other people do the same thing and have been doing it for years.  Yes, I had absolutely seen the bigger blogs that offer advice, communicate information or shape lifestyles, but hadn’t spent that much time understanding the number of normal folks that frequently communicate on what is going on in their lives.  The more time I have spent on WordPress.com reading these blogs from ordinary people, the more I have been impressed and inspired.  I have often wondered why everyone does their blogs on a regular basis.  What is their motivation?  It is a lot of work, there is no money in it and getting famous by writing a blog is like getting rich by winning the lottery–the odds are not good.  For me, I have enjoyed blogging for the creative aspect it provides and for it making me appreciate what’s real and great in my life.  I also like it for the chance to say ‘hello’ to so many people I would never have had the opportunity to meet and share a little about my life.  So to all the people who visit us here at Acorns On Glen each week, we would just like to say ‘hello’.  To that end, our little ‘Hello’ song this week is just perfect.  So take a listen, celebrate life and shake it in celebration.  You deserve it.  When did you start to blog and why do you like to do it (or not)? 

Apples Of My Eye

This is a very good sign.  There has been a lot of work getting the espalier apple trees in order this season.  We’ve spoiled the trees in every manner imaginable.  We started with two trees, noticed one was not doing well, removed it and replaced it with a new tree, built a support system to secure the branches and gave them a haircut.  With all this work, we have kept saying one thing.  “We better get some apples this year.”  The good news is that it appears we may be in luck this season.  The trees are producing apples for the very first time.  There aren’t a lot of apples on the trees.  Probably 20 at the most.  However, it is just nice to see your hard work pay off, especially in the garden where sometimes the harder you work results in some of your worst harvests ever.

The trouble we are facing now is how to take care of the fruit over the remainder of the Summer.  The last thing we want to do is have disease or insects take away our apples.  We try to garden in an organic fashion as much as possible.  Many of the established gardeners here in Connecticut are telling us that organic is not going to cut it as these apples continue to mature.  We will have to use some limited amounts of chemicals on them to keep them safe.  Do you have any recommendations on how to care for the apples over the Summer using the least amount of chemicals possible?

A Crisp Coconut and Chocolate Pie

This is the most uncomplicated pie we know.  We received a copy of Martha Stewart’s “Pies and Tarts” cookbook and knew that we would need to make this pie.  We love coconut and chocolate, so what could be bad in putting these two ingredients together.  However, we didn’t have a lot of time and this recipe obliged.  In keeping with our quick and tasty theme, this pie requires only four ingredients-butter, chocolate, cream and shredded coconut.  The press-in crust comes together in seconds in a food processor.  After you bake the shell, you fill it with velvety chocolate ganache, which sets to a smooth sheen.  If you decide you want something sweet and it’s a little late in the day for a big production, give this crisp coconut and chocolate pie recipe a try.  Here we go:

Ingredients:

For the crust:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 11 ounces (about 6 cups) sweetened shredded coconut

For the filling:

  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably 61% cacao), finely chopped

Directions:

Make the crust:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  In a food processor, process butter and one-third of the coconut until mixture forms a ball, 1 to 2 minutes.  Transfer to a medium bowl.  Sprinkle remaining two-thirds coconut over mixture and combine with your fingers.

Place a 9-inch pie plate on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet.  Press coconut mixture into bottom and up sides of pan to form crust, leaving top edges loose and fluffy.

Place a foil ring over edge to prevent burning.  Bake until center begins to brown, 10 to 15 minutes.  Remove foil and back until edges are browned, 4 to 6 minutes more.  Transfer crust to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the filling:  Bring cream just to a boil in a small saucepan.

Pour over chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl.

Let sit 10 minutes, then stir until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is combined.  Pour into coconut crust.  Refrigerate until filling is set, 1 hour or up to 1 day.

There you have it:  ready, set, eat.  It sort of reminded us of a deconstructed chocolate macaroon.  It was the perfect match to our simple supper of salad, breaded chicken cutlets and whole wheat linguine aglio e olio.  Nothing fancy and time consuming–just a quick mix of chocolate and coconut.  Life is good.  What do you use when you need dessert in a jiffy?

Estate Sale Stewartia To Honor ‘Now, Voyager’

This tree is to pay homage to our favorite movie, ‘Now, Voyager’.  Have you ever seen ‘Now, Voyager’?

The 1942 movie stars Bette Davis and Paul Henreid.  Charlotte Vale (Davis) suffers under the domination of her Boston matron mother until Dr. Jaquith gets her to visit his sanitarium where she is transformed from frump to elegant, independent lady.  When she goes off on a South American cruise, she falls in love with Jerry (Henreid), already married.  Back home she confronts her mother who dies of a heart attack.  Charlotte, guilt-ridden, returns to the sanitarium where she finds Jerry’s depressed daughter Tina.  Tina achieves happiness through her attachment to Charlotte and the two move back to Boston.  When Jerry sees how happy his daughter is, he leaves her with Charlotte.  What about marriage for Charlotte and Jerry? Davis utters one of her most famous lines, “Don’t ask for the moon when we have the stars.”

One of our favorite parts is when Jerry says that Charlotte looks like a camellia in a white dress she is wearing while on their cruise.  When she returns to Boston, Charlotte receives a corsage of camellia flowers from Jerry and then she continues to wear camellias on her dresses as a reminder of her love for him.

Two weeks ago, I was contacted that there was an estate sale in the area that included garden plants from the estate.  I have never heard of that in my life.  The estate actually dug up mature trees, bushes and shrubs and sold them.  In looking at the plant list, I saw that there was a Stewartia Pseudocamellia that was over 10 feet tall.  While not a true camellia, the flowers are so close, I knew I had to have it in our yard to pay homage to ‘Now, Voyager’.  I won the auction for the Stewartia and had it planted in our backyard.  Here’s a little background on our Stewartia:

Stewartia Pseudocamellia is a plant species in the genus Stewartia in the family Theaceae, native to Japan and Korea.  It is a small to medium-sized deciduous tree, often with multiple stems and/or low branching trunks.  The bark is smooth textured, exfoliating as the plants age and has a camouflaged or mottled appearance with patterns of dull orange and green with grey mixed in.  Because of this, it has great Winter appeal as it displays its bark against the snowy landscape.

The trees are pyramidal to rounded in shape with deep green colored foliage.  Young stems have a zig-zag shape with flattened, divergent buds.  The leaves are arranged alternately on the stems with an elliptical shape and finely serrated edges.  In the fall the foliage turns yellow, red or purple. 

The flowers have five white petals with orange anthers and are shaped like Camellia flowers, round and flat to somewhat cupped.  They are produced in Summer, generally in June until the end of August.  Each flower is short-lived, but many are produced that open over many weeks.  The fruit is a brown capsule, triangular in shape with four or five angles, persistent on the trees but not showy.

We’ve often said that we like plants in our garden on Glen Road that are unique in nature or have a story behind them.  So the Stewartia fits right into what we like in the garden.  So now you know that on a clear night when the moon and the stars are shining bright, we will be outside standing by the Stewartia talking about ‘Now, Voyager’.  The two of us and the Yorkie….let’s consider her our Tina.  What are your favorite old-time movies?

Lots Of Bling – Christie’s Important Jewels

This is some major bling.  We were invited to a private viewing event for Christie’s Important Jewels auction before the auction takes place on Tuesday, June 14 at 10:00 AM.  We have always like jewelry.  Both of our mothers love to wear jewelry and they both own a lot.  We like the beauty, but also like how fine jewelry is made.  You need to have quite an intricate construction if you hope to hold onto your massive stones.  We also like the history of jewelry.  Pieces like we saw at Christie’s auction house have a story.  Whether it is suppressed emotions that come out in Victorian jewelry or Hollywood-style sex and glamour that come out from more recent pieces, finding out who wore it, how it was made and why it is being sold is always a great story.  The auction contained 125 pieces….some more understated than others.  The pictures were all taken from our i-Phone.  They aren’t too bad considering they were taken with a phone through glass viewing cases and bright lights.  Here are a few photos of our favorite pieces we wanted to share with you.  Enjoy!!

This is an emerald and diamond ribbon bow, designed as a cluster of marquise and pear-shaped diamonds and emeralds.  The bow is enhanced by calibre-cut emerald detail and is mounted in gold and platinum.  The bow is signed by Sabbadini.

$7,000 – $10,000 (or as high as the bidding goes)

This ring is set with a pear-shaped diamond, weighing approximately 10.01 carats, flanked on either side by a pear-shaped diamond, each weighing approximately 1.02 carats mounted in platinum.

$1,100,000  – $1,500,000

This is a diamond, ruby, onyx and gold cuff by Verdura.  The wide onyx cuff centering on a sculpted gold plaque, set with cabochon rubies and circular-cut diamonds, mounted in gold.  Christie’s research has found that this cuff is the widest onyx Verdura cuff to be offered at auction.

$20,000 – $30,000

This diamond bracelet is designed as an openwork circular and single-cut diamond wide band, set at the center with a graduated series of baguette-cut diamonds, mounted in white gold.

$10,000 – $15,000

Stunner alert!  The necklace is set with a graduated series of five cabochon emeralds, each within a circular-cut diamond surround, spaced by circular-cut diamond swags, to the circular-cut diamond scalloped backchain and cabochon emerald clasp (which you can’t see from this photo), mounted in platinum and 18k gold.  The ear pendants (not earrings I guess if you are loaded) each suspend a pear-shaped cabochon emerald, within a graduated circular-cut diamond surround, from a circular-cut diamond link, the surmount set with a cabochon emerald, with a circular-cut diamond surround, mounted in platinum and gold.

Necklace $60,000 – $80,000

Ear Pendants $10,000 – $15,000

The star of the show!  A diamond ring set with an oval-cut diamond, weighing approximately 46.51 carats, flanked on either side by a pear-shaped diamond, weighing approximately 1.01 carats, mounted in platinum.  The catalog from Christie’s says it is the property of a distinguished lady.  We’re thinking Elizabeth Taylor’s estate, but who knows??

$2,500,000 – $3,500,000 (wrap it up….we’ll take two)

We hope you liked our little virtual jewelry show.  If you can afford a majority of these pieces, please let us know so we can adopt you as soon as possible.  It’s fun to do something different and we wanted to share this night with you.  Let us know if you would like us to place a bid for you.  You can trust us with your cash.  Have you ever seen bling like this before in your life?

Fried Baby Artichokes

This is a pan full of baby artichokes.  Did you know that they sell regular artichokes and baby artichokes?  When the Brooklyn Italian Grandmother is in the house, she likes a dish that can start as an appetizer and then be carried to the table and continue as a side dish.  That’s why she likes fried baby artichokes.  The trick with this recipe is to get the smallest baby artichokes you can find.  The smallest usually are about the size of a golf ball or a little bigger.  If the baby artichokes are any larger than that, they will require a par boil to make them tender before frying.  Our baby artichokes looked big so we actually par boiled them in water for about 20 minutes before starting the recipe.  Once they had cooled, we took a very sharp knife and cut off the top and cut the stem off the bottom so that it could sit on its bottom without tipping over.  After that, we cut them right down the middle into two pieces.  For the breading, we used a mixture similar to what we made for the stuffing in our cubanelle stuffed pepper recipe.  So sit back and let’s start frying some baby artichokes with the Brooklyn Italian Grandmother.

Ingredients:

  • 15 baby artichokes, cut in half (remember, smaller is better for this recipe)
  • 5 cloves of garlic, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 1/4 cup of seasoned bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • 4 thin slices of Italian sopressata, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Directions:

Mix garlic, bread crumbs, cheese, sopressata, salt and pepper in a bowl and combine well.  Break eggs into a separate bowl and mix with a fork.

Heat olive oil over medium heat until hot.  Coat artichoke halves in egg mixture and then in bread crumb mixture.

Place into heated olive oil and fry until breading is brown and artichoke is tender.  Continue to add more olive oil as needed.

When all of the artichokes are fried, sprinkle with more salt, pepper and cheese and serve warm.

The good thing about these artichokes is that, because they are small, there are less leaves to eat through until you get to the heart of the artichoke.  There is very little waste because the leaves are so small you can eat the entire thing.  Start with these as your appetizer and then move them in to munch along with your main course.  Just like the famous brand of chip…..you can’t eat just one of these fried baby artichokes.  Give them a try.  What are you cooking today in your kitchen?

Friday Dance Party – Tonight Tonight With Hot Chelle Rae

This is another edition of Friday Dance Party on Acorns On Glen.  It’s the time where we give thanks for making it through another week and for being alive and present here on Earth.  How do we celebrate another week of living?  We dance.  So, are you alive this Friday?  Are you and your family safe and sound?  Take a few seconds now to be in the moment and realize what a great life you truly have.  Did you give thanks for that?

Good, now let’s dance.

My company has summer hours.  This means that people who work at my company are able to leave every Friday from now until Labor Day at 1:45 in order to enjoy a little more time at home with family and friends.  I’ll be honest, most Fridays I don’t get out of the office until much later, but even leaving early by an hour or two seems like such a big deal.  It gives me the extra time to run a few errands, get home and take a little disco nap with the Yorkie and then wake up and get ready for some Friday night fun.  Summer hours are such a great way to start a Summer weekend.  So given that I’m able to catch up on a little sleep each Friday before I go out, I seem to be in much more of a party mood these last couple of Fridays…..meaning I don’t want to go home and be in bed before 10:00 PM!  So this week, I’ve decided to celebrate the start of Summer and summer hours by partying on top of the world.  So be happy for living and shake your money maker to this new song by Hot Chelle Rae (again, sorry for the pop up ad – just hit the ‘x’ to suppress it.  Anyone know how to get rid of these annoying things?).  This is a tune where dancing hard and wild is just the ticket.  Go ahead and let loose….you deserve it.  Do you get summer hours where you work?

Another Post About Legal Pot

This is another legal pot here on Glen Road that needs to have plants placed inside of it.  It is one of a set of planters that are new to our collection.  I had to have this set because I am in love with faux bois finishes, which is French for “false wood”.  A fitting name for items that appear plucked from the forest, but are actually made of cast stone, cast iron or cement.  Faux bois items can also be painted to have the same woodsy look and feel.  We were struggling to come up with the perfect mix of plants to put inside the pots, but once again, our friends at White Flower Farm, www.whiteflowerfarm.com, were there to help us with our decision.    On their website, White Flower Farm has a large assortment of annual collections for sale.  All you need to do is find the assortment of annual plants that you like and they will send them to you along with relevant planting instructions.  Their instructions even tell you where to position each plant in the pot that you will be using.  There is little room for a mistake when you purchase one of White Flower Farm’s annual collections.  Since our faux bois pots are going along the swimming pool, we decided to select a collection that is a little more on the exotic side.  Something that contained some large, tropical looking plants mixed along with more traditional plants like begonias or coleus.

Our first selection is named the ‘Sunny Summer Annual Collection’.  In this collection, the plants include an Ornamental Grass (Pennisetum purpureum ‘Princess’), a fancy-leaf Geranium (Pelargonium ‘Indian Dunes’), some unusually colored Coleus, Henna and Lancelot Velvet Mocha, a dark-leaved Ipomoea ‘Blackie ‘, a long-blooming Calibrachoa superbells saffron and a trailing Sweet Potato (Ipomoea sweet heart light green).  Here is a copy of the detailed planting instructions, what the collection should look like at maturity and what the collection looked like after we finished our planting.

Our second selection was the ‘King Tut Annual Collection’.  Ancient Egyptians used the leaves of Cyperus Papyrus to make paper, but here that sedge’s foliage creates a sensational display, rising 4-6 feet tall above the trailing blooms of Begonia Dragon Wing Pink and Calibrachoa Cabaret Deep Blue.  Again, here is a copy of the detailed planting instructions, what the collection should look like at maturity and what the collection looked like after we finished our planting.

So, as you can see, there is a lot of growing that needs to get done in a rather short amount of time.  With some regular watering and fertilizing, we should be able to grow these pots into some eye-catching arrangements just like the pictures above that show the collections at maturity.  Nothing is guaranteed, but gardening in planters and pots is pretty risk free….and legal.  What are you planting in pots, planters and containers on your patio, yard or garden?