Sunday, August 28, 2011

Taking things easy!! Yeah, right!!

Not everyone "relaxes" like my hubby, Nigel.  He works so hard when he's at work, then he gets almost two weeks off and what does he do?  He rebuilds our deck!!  The man is NUTS!!  But he's also wonderful and marvelous and I love him dearly in spite of everything I know about him! Ha Ha  So here's pictures of his latest project:
Old deck; new deck.  
This is a little area we may eventually put a cover over and put a concrete "floor" down to store bikes.  Don't you like the way I used the word "we"? You see, I'm the supervisor, water carrier and coffee maker! 
I talked Nigel into not replacing the railing that was up; now everyone can see the beautiful rock wall he built around the deck's circumference all those years ago. At the time, there wasn't any vegetation so the railing looked nice. However, with so much vegetation growing now, it was simply too much.
  The downside of any project - the inevitable mess! You can see the railings on the left that were removed.
More mess!!
 The man himself - almost finished!  He took longer than he'd initially planned, but I reminded him that with the way he builds things - to LAST - it's only natural it takes longer. 
Oh yes......I finished a project of my own!! My studio ladder - I finally got it painted!  I'm not sure if I'm completely finished with it yet.  I may paint green vines down the sides.
Then again......I just never know where my muse will lead me!

Hope everyone has had a lovely weekend! The weather here has been fabulous - plenty of breezes and not nearly as hot, only in the high 80's and low 90's which is so much better than our "usual". 
I'm so ready for autumn!! 

Take care and may God bless! Jan

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Faith Bradford's Dolls House

Hi Again Everyone! Here we are - more pictures from D.C.!!!  This time I'll bring you into the miniature world of a dollhouse.  Perhaps you'll take pity on my lousy photography when you realize I literally had to squeeze in through children (silly things! Ha Ha) and adults to get even these photos!

Before I begin though, I want you to know you can purchase a book which also has the photographs (much better ones naturally).  Here's what it looks like. It's called America's Doll House - The Miniature World of Faith Bradford, by Willam L. Bird, Jr..  I got mine at the bookstore inside the National Museum of American History; however, if you're interested, you might check through Amazon.Com or my favorite, Half.Com.  All the information I'm going to give you came from Mr. Bird's research.

Donated to the Smithsonian in 1951, Faith Bradford's Doll House consists of 23 rooms, 1,354 miniature pieces, and is the home of Mr. and Mrs. Petter Doll, their 10 children, two visiting grandparents, twenty pets, and household staff. 

This photograph was taken after Faith's first public display at Gadsby's Tavern, Alexandria,Virginia, in 1932.  She won a Blue Ribbon for "Best Collection" and a George Washington Bicentennal half-dollar; both prizes are attached at the roof peak.

Here Faith Bradrod is showing a young visitor all the pieces she'd collected over the years!  I was downstairs, looking at the Julia Child Kitchen Exhibit when Sherry and Isabel came up to me and insisted I had to go upstairs to see a special exhibit.  Sherry knew I'd be completed taken in by it, and she was right! It took me ages to finally leave the place.  I even managed to get all the children to stand back for a few minutes, while Sherry took a photo of me in front of the house.  Unfortunately, I can't find that photo right now. 

The Master Bedroom
This is Rose Washington Doll, checking on her youngest children, twins Jimmy and Timmy, asleep in their bassinette (to the right of Mrs. Doll).

This is Alice's bedroom

 The Parlor.  A game of chess is laid out on the gaming table (bottom right of photo). And the small white stand in the middle bottom of the photo is a small rectangle shaped acquarium, with three gold fish inside.  The fishes' names are:  Goldie, Wiggle and Dart (but no one can tell them apart).

No need to guess which room this is! The Laundry!
 When I was little, one of my babysitter's had a wringer washing machine just like the yellow one pictured. I thought at the time that it must be great fun as I watched the clothes coming through the ringer, just having the water squeezed out of them.  The clothes were all flat and squished together as they came out.
I hate to think now of the hard work required to operate one.

Mr. Peter Doll himself, in his special domain - The Study.  His personal books are kept here and this is where he read the daily newspaper.  He also has his personal typewriter ready to use (right corner).

The Kitchen!  I have a sink like the one on the left in my own doll house.  The stove is a coal and gas combination with a hot water tank beside it.  I love the set of mixing bowls on the botton left shelf.  Although hard for you to see in this photo, they are green, red and blue, with cream stripes running along the top rim. Loaves of freshly baked bread lie on the table; I think I have biscuits "in the making" on my kitchen table.

A beautiful room (in spite of my lousy photograph), this is the Library.  There are real books in the breakfront shelves! This is the right side of the room.

Another view of the Library.  Although you can't tell it, the lamp shade on the floor lamp on the far left is made from a paper cup, turned upside down, with lace glued to the bottom!  I loved these special touches that Faith Bradford came up with.  She truly loved this house and loved collecting and making lovely household items for it.  She would disassemble the plastic housing of an electrical plug, then hang it up as a ceiling light fixture!  She once commented "Everything looks like something else to me."  I remember well those exact thoughts when I was working on my own doll house. You really do see everything around you with new eyes, because you're looking for things that will work in a much smaller space, even though they usually have nothing to do with their actual purpose in these smaller spaces.  I've used a small enamel box (about 1/4 inch square) as a lady's elegant jewelry box; tiny twigs become logs for the fireplaces; a marble becomes a beautiful ball; and a small leather cuff link box (containing Nigel's grandfather's cuff links) makes a lovely leather trunk at the end of the master bed! 

The Parent's Bathroom!  I love the idea that they're separate from the children's bathroom!  The wooden structure in the back left is a shaving stand. The guest bathroom (which I now realize I did not get a picture of) looks identical to this room's furnishings except for the luxury of the shaving stand.  Also, instead of this shade of blue, it was done in the green color (the same as that of the children's bathroom).  Another room I failed to photograph is immediately to the right of this room.  It's the Sewing Room, in very "blah" colors, although it does hold an old black iron treadle sewing machine.  My Grandma Hoffman had one of them!  Because of the number of children, a lot of sewing was necessary.  Mrs. Doll has a sewing woman come in for a fortnight (2 weeks) every spring and fall. Between these times, Mrs. Doll did the sewing and mending. 

The Night Nursery where the children slept.  From the book it states, "Ann and David are admiring the cat, "Mrs. Peerie," while Nurse McNab waits to tuck David into his cradle.  Lucy and Carol sleep together in the big bed (partially shown on the back right) and Ann has her own little bed (not shown in this photo)."

Robin and Christopher's Room.  Robin is in the room now, with his dog and his pet rabbits (on the floor in front of him).  This family definitely had lots going on!!

This is Peter, the oldest of the children, "admiring his tame white rats."  Yuck!

This is Nurse's Room. The glass globe lamp on the bureau on the right is particularly rare!

The Trunk Room.  I wonder if these trunks would fit in today's airline baggage holds! Ha Ha 

The Children's Bathroom.
  "With so many children to bathe, Mrs. Doll installed an old-fashioned "towel horse," excellent for holding many towels.  Her work finished, chambermaid Christina Young is going downstairs."

The Butler's Pantry
"Filled with cupboards and cabinets containing the family china, silver and glass.  You can tell evening is approaching by the way Gadsby (the butler) is dressed."
Yes, in those days, you dressed for dinner!

The Attic - Right Side View
 "Filled with articles temporarily out of use, pieces in need of mending, inherited treasures, "white elephants", and household discards still too dear to be thrown away."

The Attic - Middle Right View
I love the little glass enclosed flowers and the aqua and brown trunk on the bottom right of this photo.
The light fixture hanging down in the background is a chain from a necklace and a tiny pearl for the bulb.

The Attic - Middle Left View
I love the old Victrola  - forerunners of our modern CD players! 
I have to admit - it was fun decorating my own doll house attic because I was able to use pieces I'd accidentally broken when working in other areas.  It is also a great place to add those odd pieces that just don't seem to fit anywhere.  And if they don't match the "age" of your house, just paint them!

The Attic - Left Side View
My favorite piece is the little sail boat in a bottle!  The two photographs are real (just resized). I believe they are photos of Faith Bradford's brother and sister. 

The Day Nursery - Right Side View
"Christopher rides the rocking horse while twins Lucy and Carol play with dolls. The children's toys and books, as well as implements for a tea party or a bedtime snack are kept here."

The Day Nursery - Left Side View
Here you can see the dolls and the girl twins Lucy and Carol.

The Guest Bedroom - Left Side View with Grandmother Doll
"Temporarily occupied by Grandfather and Grandmother Doll.  The room is furnihed with beautiful inherited furniture dating from the Colonial Period.  (Extremely rare, as you can imagine!)

The Guest Bedroom - Right Side View, with Grandfather Doll

The Drawing Room- Right Side View
When I was a young girl, I always wondered why people needed a room just for drawing pictures! 
Here you see Woodthrop, the Parlor Maid, finishing her dusting for the day.

The Drawing Room - Left Side View
I love the little "bear skin rug" on the far left, underneath the window.

The Dining Room - Right Side View
"The weathered oak furniure in the room was popular at the beginning of the twentieth century. Cut glass sparkles in the china cupboard and a spoon holder rests on the table.

Dining Room - Middle View

The Dining Room - Left Side View
Notice the picture of George Washington on the wall!

The Pantry
"This room contains shelves of stores and food. Martha, the cook, is examining food in the ice chest refrigerator. An ice cream freezer stands in the corner (left front). 
A new "Hoover" (vacuum cleaner) stands amid the clenaing supplies."

Overall View - Right Side

Overall View

Middle View
Kids insisted on getting in my way! I couldn't quite figure out why they kept staring at me,
as if I were old enough to know better! 

Unimpeded Middle Overview

Right Side View

Left Side Overall View

Faith Bradford was born in 1880 in Rochester, New York.  Her mother, Ellen Knight Bradford, was a social worker, teacher, poet, author, songwriter of hymns, and an amateur theatrical pageant producer. Her father, James Henry Bradford, had been a Civil War Chaplain with the Connecticut Volunteers.  After the war, he occupied various administrative posts at state reform schools in Massachusetts and Connecticut.  In 1881, the year after Faith was born, he moved the family to Whington, D.C., eventually becoming an auditor at the Bureal of Indian Affairs.  Faith had one sister, Mary Knight Bradford, and two older brothers, Harry Bonnell and Horatio Knight Bradford.

Faith graduated from Mount Vernon Seminary (now Mount Vernon College) in 1900, and began her career as a librarian with the Washington D.C. Public Library in 1903, but resigned after a few years for unspecified health reasons.  Regaining her health once again, she began employment with the Library of Congress Card Division in 1908.  In 1942, Faith Bradford became the head of the library's card catalog.  When that office became the Serial Records Division in 1944, Faith became the first woman to head a library division.  Faith passed away in 1970, at the age of 90.

Hope you enjoyed the tour!  Do try to visit it if you're in D.C.  The detail is quite stunning, especially considering this was gathered and created in the early 1900s!

With Love and Blessings to All, Jan

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Meanwhile, back in D.C., in Julia Child's Kitchen No Less!!!!!

Hi Everyone!

I realized this wasn't getting my info out to you about D.C. and I wanted to share Julia Child's actual kitchen and some other information about her with you.  So here come the pictures! Hope you enjoy them!

This is Julia in her tiny French kitchen.  No wonder when she had the opportunity, she insistged on having a kitchen that was suited to her.  Julia was a tall lady and Paul, her husband, was a genius in design, as well as helping with the business end of her cooking show on television.
Julia often said there would be no "Julia Child" without Paul.

First of all, I have to say I LOVE this kitchen.  For that matter, I love looking at ll well designed kitchens. They are - I believe - the very heart of the home.  But I also have to say - I HATE cooking!! I kid you not!  I've never liked it, although I can cook well if I have to.  This is in spite of the hilarious "fish gravy" story from my first year of marriage in Germany, but that's another story.

To be perfectly honest, I'd rather clean up after someone else has done the cooking.  I do enjoy baking every now and then; I find that peaceful somehow, but "cooking" to me is nothing more than a daily chore which I'd much rather do without.

Okay, enough about me.  Isn't the kitchen beautiful? I love the green color and how it's all laid out, everything within easy reach, neatly labeled, very organized.  I guess it appeals to my sense of organization.  It looks as if you could walk right in and start baking something marvelous!

A view of the right side of the itchen.  She must have had a pan for everything imaginable!

The entire kitchen was dismantled piece by piece and reconstructed inside the National Museum of American History!  You can view it through several Plexiglas panels at different angles.

Even though much larger, this kitchen immediately reminded me of one that belonged to a very dear family friend of ours, Virginia Douglas Lavender - Ginny to us!  I met her when I started dating Nigel.  Ginny and her husband, Thomas, had been friends with Nigel's family for years and years, ever since they lived next to each other when Nigel was a boy.  Ginny was known to all her friends, and she literally had hundreds of friends, as a marvelous cook.  But her genius lay in the fact she could create masterpieces by just throwing in "a pinch of this, a bit of that".  Yet it always came out tasting as if she'd been cooking all day!  She came from the "old school" of cooking, with a New England upbringing.  Ginny took me "under her wing" and taught me how to make my first loaf of bread - and it was EASY!!!  I still use several of her recipes, but my favorite and the one I use most whenever I'm feeling particularly nostalgic, is one for her Aunt Mary's "Old New England Chocolate Cake".  The only way I can describe it is that it comes out with a consistency similar to pound cake.  It's very moist, but it isn't overly sweet.  And the best frosting is simply to sprinkle Confectioner's Sugar over it when it's completely cooled.  My youngest, Liz, doesn't like chocolate overly much, but she LOVES this cake.  My oldest, Laura, who loves chocolate, LOVES this cake.  And everyone I've ever served it to LOVES this cake!  Maybe I need to give you the recipe! Ya think?  Ha Ha
But later.  For now - back to Julia's kitchen!!

The really neat thing about this wall of pans was that it was pulled away from the side of the kitchen completely so you could get a better view of both it and the inside of the kitchen.  As you an see, Julia was very meticulous and organized.  I suppose you'd have to be with all she managed to accomplish in a day! Also, Julia and Paul entertained quite a bit right in this kitchen! They would frequently have close friends over, but whenever someone was helping clean up after the meal, they'd have difficulty trying to figure out where everything went.  Let's face it, not many people have this many different pots and pans, especially back in the early 1960's!  No problem though.....Paul designed this wall with an outline drawing of each saucepan and skillet so you would know immediately what went where!

Julia loved trying out new gadgets and appliances, but she kept a "homey" type kitchen, well lived in and well loved.  I can just picture her and Paul, sitting in here in the morning, having a cup of coffee!

Sorry for the lousy photograph, but I wanted a picture of these beautiful blue canisters.  They reminded me of someone who was well traveled, who picked up pretty bits and pieces for the home here and there.

I can barely keep two pans of cooking going at the same time on a stove top.  I hate to thing what I'd do with six burners, other than burning down the house, that is!  I love the use of pegboard!  It's so efficient! I have it in my studio as well; it makes an entire wall a fantastic storage and display area!

I was particularly delighted with the sight of this fridge and all it's "normal" magnets and "things" we all put on our refrigerators - childrens' drawings, favorite photos of family and pets, and those fruit magnets! I remember my Gran had some just like it years and years ago!

It's true. I HAD to see the top of the fridge, so I held my camera up over my head and snapped this picture!
I LOVE all the cat pictures and items she had throughout the kitchen.  Made it just that much more personal!  Ginny loved cats too and was forever rescuing them.  She had one named "Purrrr-ple Lavender".

More pegboard and more CATS!!! Fabulous!!

Oh yes! And that would be even MORE pegboard and MORE cats!!  

All of Julia's cookbooks!  She had two well worn copies of "The Joy of Cooking" which she used more than any of the others except her own!

If I remember correctly, these are tapes from her cooking show, The French Chef, which was the forerunner of all the cooking shows we have today. Despite the fact I don't like cooking and never have, and despite the fact I don't particularly care for French food, I still thoroughly love to see reruns of her shows even now.  She was just a lovely and very interesting person to listen to, and completely out of the norm for what most Americans were used to.

As I mentioned earlier, Julia LOVED kitchen gadgets and was always trying out new ones.  This exhibit shows what it would look like if you tipped her "gadget drawer" on its end and let everything fall out! The Plexiglas doesn't photograph well, but it's fun thing to look at! I couldn't identify much of anything! 

Okay, now for the recipe.  And one thing Ginny taught me - always use fresh ingredients! So if you want to make this cake, make a run to the store to get fresh cream, fresh eggs, fresh shortening, and so on!  Really! It makes a BIG difference!!

Ginny Lavender's recipe for her Aunt Mary's Old New England Chocolate Cake
(written down just as Ginny wrote it down for me)

3/4 cup shortening, creamed with
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar.  Add
3 squares melted chocolate and
4 eggs beaten.

Add alternately 1 3/4 cup flour, sifted with
3/4 cup milk (with 3/4 teaspoon soda and a pinch
of salt stirred into the milk).  Bake 350 about 40 minutes.

Some helpful hints I learned over the years:

1.  For a pretty presentation, bake in a bundt pan.  This makes a lovely presentation when you sprinkle it with Confectioner's (3X) sugar when it's completely cooled on a rack.

2.  Do NOT rely on cooking spray.  Actually grease and flour the pan well.  Disaster otherwise, at least for me.

3  I use Swansdown Cake Flour; works better than all purpose flour.  I don't remember if Ginny used regular all purpose or cake flour, but I've used both and the texture is better using cake flour.

3.  I frequently use Half and Half instead of whole milk; sometimes I use half heavy cream and half whole 4ilk.  I figure that's about what milk was like back in the 1920's when this recipe was created, and it makes for a wonderful flavor and texture!

Did I tell you how I got this recipe?  Ginny hosted a bridal shower for me (back in 1980!) and everyone was sent a bank recipe card in the mail.  They were all asked to write down their favorite recipes and bring them to the shower!  So I got recipes of everyone's "very best"!  At the shower, Ginny presented me with a wooden recipe box that held all the recipe cards, and a package of blank cards inside for my own recipes.  This chocolate cake was Ginny's "favorite".

Hope you enjoyed the tour!  And if you get a chance, do try to see the movie "Julie Julia".  Meryl Streep does a FABULOUS job playing Julia Child, right down to the accent!!

And as Julia herself said at the end of her cooking shows,

"Bon Appetit!"

With Love and Blessings to All,     Jan