Another Grandmother Project con’t

April 30, 2010

This is the second in a series of posts about the items I inherited from my paternal grandmother. She didn’t leave much behind, so I cherish the items I received, but at the same time I am trying to figure out just what to do with them.


This is a beautiful beaded handbag, but unfortunately, it’s falling apart. The other side is in even worse condition. I would love to get it repaired but have no idea where to do that. Any ideas? I love the style of this. My mom has a close friend who had an old heirloom handbag preserved in a display box and I would love to do something like that if it could be repaired.

pin cushion

Next up is the pin cushion. My aunt says this used to be on Gram’s dresser, but I am not sure I really remember seeing it there.  My aunt says that the hat pins belonged to Gram’s mother Rose, my great-grandmother. Rose was quite a woman, from the stories I’ve heard. She took in foster children before there was a real foster child system, and despite her family’s lack of wealth. Because of this, there is an “aunt” who was raised by her who is not a biological relative, but was always considered a sister to my Gram and her two biological sisters. I love the pin in the center with the rhinestones, even though many are missing. I would love to get that repaired as well. Stick pins were in fashion in the late 70s – maybe they’ll make a comeback and I could wear it as one!

There were some costume jewelry pins my mom chose for me to have.  The two that are identical are actually a belt buckle I think. I like the little one at the bottom the most. It’s pretty and delicate and would be something you could just pin on a collar for a little extra fun. I know it’s not exactly in style at the moment, but it appeals to me.

My mom also gave me an assortment of rings. Some I passed along to my daughter. I kept three for myself which you can see on my finger (which looks incredibly old and wrinkly in this photo for some reason!). The top one is missing some stones (rhinestones I presume) and I would love to get it repaired and sized to fit me. It’s a cute little ring.

The second one is missing the stone (I assume the stones were sold or reset at some point). I LOVE this setting. What is really, really strange is that it is very similar to the ring I received from my other grandmother. You can read that post here. My other grandmother’s ring was her engagement ring. The stone was reset for an anniversary. My mom gave me that ring and had an aquamarine stone set in it for me. This ring from

Comparison of two rings

Gram is very similar. It might have been the style of the times – however they weren’t the same age. Gai married in the 30s and Gram married in the 40s (she was a WWII bride), so I’m not sure what to think.

I’ve included a photo of the two similar rings together. In this photo, you can see that the ring from Gram has a blue stone on the side (it’s missing on the other side).

The third ring is also missing a stone, but again I am in love with the ring. The setting is quite high – it sticks out quite far and I love the delicate detailing on the ring itself. I really want to get all three of these rings repaired and reset so I could wear them.

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Another Grandmother Project

April 29, 2010

If you’ve been following along with me, you probably remember the Grandmother Project. After my maternal grandmother passed away almost a year ago, I inherited boxes and boxes of things (my entire dining room was filled) and spent a lot of time trying to make sense of them and put them to good use. I posted many times with photos of some of the more interesting finds and uses.

My paternal grandmother passed away several years ago, but there was recently a family pow-wow to divide up what remained of her belongings. Gram was not a woman of material wealth and didn’t leave much behind. I had nothing of hers though, so I was happy when my mom brought home some things for me. Today and tomorrow I’m going to share some of them with you.

My aunts say that this piece of lace was my grandmother’s parochial school collar from her uniform. It’s actually quite beautiful and is 23 inches long. I’m not sure what to do with it though! Any suggestions are welcome. I could frame it I suppose.

Lace collar

Next up is another collar, but this one is for a baby or child. And since it is blue, we think it must have been my father’s, or possibly the other son my grandmother had who died as a baby. I’m not sure what to do with this either! It’s an interesting piece of family history to have though.

These gloves are very tiny – I can’t get my hands into them at all and neither can Teen Martha ( I think we inherited a scaled down version of my mother’s giant paws), but Gram had very small hands. It’s possible these are from her wedding, although her hands are not visible in the wedding photo I


have. They have tiny little pearls at the edge and are quite pretty, if  a bit yellowed. Again, I’m at a loss as to what to do with them and the only thing I can come up with is framing them. I also am not sure how to get the yellowing out without damaging them. Any thoughts or suggestions for any of this is welcome!

Tune in tomorrow for another installment of this project.

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Gingerbread Cake with Lemon Sauce

April 28, 2010

Yesterday was Mr. MarthaAndMe’s birthday. Every year, he asks for gingerbread with lemon sauce for his cake. He always had this as a child too, except I think his mother used a mix. The lemon sauce recipe was printed on the box.

Over the years, I’ve developed my own gingerbread and lemon sauce recipe that I make once a year for him (I did once make it for a family Christmas party and it is a nice holiday dessert). The cake is dense, moist, and very deeply flavored – it’s based on my grandmother’s recipe, but has been altered to suit my sensibilities. The lemon sauce is sweet and bright. It’s a hit every year and the kids enjoy it. I’m pretty much the lone hold-out since I don’t care for raisins and hate trying to pick them all out.

Gingerbread Cake

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 cup molasses (I use blackstrap)

1 cup boiling water

2 1/4 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp cloves

1/2 cup golden raisins

Preheat oven to 325. Mix butter, sugar and eggs. Add molasses and hot water then add dry ingredients. Stir in raisins. Bake in a 9 inch greased square pan for 50 minutes.

Lemon Sauce

1 cup sugar

4 tbsp cornstarch

dash of salt

2 cups water

juice of one lemon

4 tbsp butter

zest of one lemon

Combine sugar, cornstarch and salt. Stir in water. Cook until it boils and is slightly thickened and clear. Use a whisk to prevent lumps. Remove from heat and stir in butter, lemon juice and zest. Serve hot.

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Must-Have Herbs

April 27, 2010

My May issue of Living arrived and there is section in it about an herb garden Martha designed for the NY Botanical Garden. It includes a list of what her must-have herbs are in an herb garden: Genovese basil, Red Rubin basil, Pesto Perpetuo basil, chervil, dill, Fernlead dill, flat leaf parsley, sage, sorrel and spearmint.

I grew up with a large herb garden. My dad has one in a raised bed on the side of the garage. I was often sent back there to pick herbs for my mom as she cooked dinner. He had everything you can think of.

We have a sad little herb garden here. Basically we scratched up the dirt next to the house, next to the deck and planted some chives, which come up every year, as well as some oregano that comes back also. I usually plant some basil and it almost always dies.

This year, we are going to make the herb garden bigger and surround it with some landscaping bricks to hold the dirt in. My must-have herbs will include:

– chives

– basil

– oregano

– rosemary

– dill

– sage

– thyme

– parsley (curly leaf)

– cilantro

What are your must-have herbs for an herb garden, or what would you grow if you had one?

Martha Mondays: 5/3

April 26, 2010

The Martha Mondays project for 5/3 is Sirloin Salad with Cilantro, chosen by Sarah at Mum in Bloom.  Thanks Sarah! I’m looking forward to it.

Short Break

April 23, 2010

MarthaAndMe is taking a short break and will be back Apr 27.

Green Rice

April 22, 2010

I was excited about this recipe – Green Rice – from May Everyday Food. I love rice and I love green things. This was quite simple to make. You take 1 cup cilantro, 1/2 cup parsley, 1 clove garlic and 1/4 white onion, with salt and pepper and 1 3/4 cup water and blend it (I used the Cuisinart). Stir 1 cup rice with 1 tsp oil in a pot over high heat, then add the liquid. Bring to a boil, reduce to low, cover and let it simmer for about 15 minutes, then allow it to sit for another five. When serving, squeeze lime juice on it.

I have to admit the rice did cook perfectly. It looked very pretty and very appetizing. However, it just wasn’t good at all! It was bland – something I was quite surprised by! I didn’t really taste the cilantro or garlic. It was so bland in fact that I started doctoring it up at the table with butter, cheese, and leftover hollandaise sauce to make it palatable. No luck. Maybe this would be good if you served something over it that had a sauce, but as a side dish by itself, it was a big disappointment.

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Martha’s Easy Hollandaise

April 21, 2010

I love hollandaise. I love it on asparagus, salmon, and broccoli. Sometimes I make hollandaise and then I add some cream and orange juice instead of lemon and use it on other fish. Hollandaise takes patience. I usually make mine in a pan and I start by melting butter and adding egg yolks and lemon juice, cooking over super low heat and constantly stirring, and then adding more butter at the end. I like it to be very thick.

I was intrigued when I saw Martha make easy hollandaise in the blender on her show the other day. She put in the egg yolks, lemon juice and warm water with salt and made it frothy in the blender. Then she poured in melted butter, which she suggested you cool first, slightly. She whizzed that up and supposedly it was ready.

I was leery of this – if you do it in the blender and cool the butter, how will the egg cook? I was willing to try it though.

The first problem was that once I had the egg, lemon juice and water in the blender, it did not come up to the bottom of the blades in mixer! I couldn’t froth it! Mr. MarthaAndMe wisely whipped out the little latte frother Dude Martha got in his Christmas stocking and stuck it in there and got it to froth. Whew. Then I added the butter in a slow stream (and I did use HOT butter and did not cool it as Martha suggested on TV).  The recipe says to blend until it thickens. Mine did not thicken and it was not hot or even very warm to the touch. Finally I gave up, dumped it in a sauce pan and cooked it on the stove quickly.  This got it to thicken up and I was certain the eggs were properly cooked.

I guess I wouldn’t recommend this method. It is faster than the traditional method, but it seemed to lack something in its consistency and did not have the same velvety texture. I also would not serve this straight from the blender without heating it up, so you would end up using a blender and a pan. Too much fuss for me.

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The Front Door

April 20, 2010

I made this decoration for the front door myself. I bought the basket, filled it with moss and then just stuck in some artificial little daffodils and some ivy to green it up.  I’m actually pretty proud of it!

Martha Mondays: One Bowl Chocolate Cake

April 19, 2010

Those of you who know my baking style know I ALWAYS make cakes in just one bowl. I never sift. So this cake fit into my philosophy. It’s from April Living. The cake is easy to make and you just dump it in and mix it.

3/4 c cocoa

1 1/2 c flour

1 1/2 c sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

2 eggs

3/4 c buttermilk

3/4 cup warm water

3 tbsp oil

1 tsp vanilla.

Easy. Mix, bake in two cake pans at 350. Mine took 25 min. The frosting is not as easy and involves melting chocolate:

2 1/4 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cocoa

6 oz cream cheese

1 1/2 sticks butter

9 oz melted bittersweet chocolate

3/4 cup sour cream.

I had just enough frosting with this, so don’t go overboard in filling the layer. It made a lovely looking cake and the frosting is really dense and provides nice coverage. I liked the cake (but it’s still not as good as my Gram’s mayo cake). The frosting was a bit sour almost, so I think I might not use all bittersweet chocolate. I did like the texture of it though.

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