My sister kindly let me photograph a couple special items that she brought with her to Houston:
That bracelet that belonged to our grandmother. ’Skip’ was her nickname. She wore it often, but I had never noticed the little flowers on the links. I really love hefty ID bracelets (like this one, this one, this one — what am I, a biker?) and Grandma’s bracelet has a nice balance of heft and femininity.
My sister wears this piece every day:
Formerly our grandmother’s wedding set, now my sister’s. Probably someday my sister’s grandchild’s wedding set!
I was away on business for a few days. Mark had to work the day I returned, but I arrived home to this:
I absolutely love the flowers. The instructions he gave to the florist were, “My wife has been away, and I missed her.” So kudos to Elaine’s Florist, because they could not have been more perfect. In fact, they remind me of a bouquet I had a couple years ago:
Most people know that ‘SoHo‘ refers to a shopping mecca in New York City. It’s a haven for fun accessories and clothing at reasonable price points (also available at unreasonable price points, if that’s your thing). One weekend during my last year in New Jersey, I took the train up to meet my sister and we shopped the heck out of SoHo’s accessory stores. We each went home loaded up with cute, inexpensive jewelry and street pashminas (the acrylic imitation pashminas sold in every color by street vendors on every corner).
Since I moved to Texas, I had heard tales of a similar shopping mecca right here in Houston, on Harwin St. With my sister in town, I finally had the accomplice I needed, and off we went. We spent an enormous amount of time at the very first shopping center we tried and emerged victorious.
Nothing you can buy here is amazing quality, but that’s not why you go. This is fashion fast food. You go because you need just the right jewelry and clutch to go with tonight’s outfit, and you don’t care if they’re painted with lead and made out of plastic.
We cleaned up for ourselves and picked up a few gifts. The following combined haul set us back about $75, no haggling:
As I told my sister, although I love Houston, I used to be a little sad that I could no longer hop a train and shop SoHo. But now I can drive there, it’s climate-controlled, and the prices are even better. Have I died and gone to heaven?
I fell in love with king cake on a trip to New Orleans when I was in college. It’s a giant cinnamon roll covered in pretty colored sugar, what’s not to like?
Last year I was excited to see that the grocery stores in Houston carry them near Mardi Gras time, but Mark thought they looked awful and said no. So this year I bought one from Whole Foods, because 1) he wasn’t there to say no, and 2) anything made at Whole Foods is probably good, right? And, in fact, it was delicious. Mark had just a little bit of crow with the two pieces he ate on the first night.
Got a lot happening this week — we have family visiting and then I have to run off on a business trip.
A small collection of pendants that belonged to my grandmother:
Lately I wear this one the most:
Jade with ruby and opal
I wear this one when my outfit just needs a little something:
1945 two-peso piece with rope chain, front and back
I think this one is quirky and it always makes me smile. I wore it when we went to a Valentine’s Day taping of the Martha Stewart Show:
Cupid pendant with rubies and emerald
This probably came from one of her many trips to Mexico:
This next one is interesting. It’s an Amita, or Komai, damascene piece. Damascene jewelry is made by embedding wire or metal shapes into a piece of non-precious metal (iron or steel), which is then blackened by oxidation. Amita is a Japanese company that dates back to 1947, but the process has been around for centuries and (from what I gather) was referred to as ‘Komai’ when it was used to decorate Samurai swords. A lot of damascene jewelry is now made in Spain. You can see a little step-by-step guide here. I would love to know the age and story behind this pendant:
Japanese damascene pendant, front and back with ‘Amita’ stamp
I’ve saved the best for last. My grandmother had a few pieces of jewelry that I think of as iconic to her legacy, and hopefully I will be able to share pictures of some of those pieces soon, but they are distributed throughout the family. I ended up with this one, which I seldom wear, but I remember my grandmother wearing it often and I keep it in a place where I see it every day:
Thanks for looking!
We call these ‘cornbread cookies.’ There are no corn products in them.
My mother used to make these every year at Christmas when I was little, and she’d glaze and top them with red and green decorator’s sugar. The recipe yield is 90-100 cookies, more than our family could eat over one holiday, so she would store some unfrosted cookies in the freezer. When I got older and lived on my own, she’d send me back to New Jersey after the holidays with a freezer bag or two of my own stash.
I had a bag that lingered long-forgotten in my freezer (I’m talking a year or more), and Mark found them one day when I was out. That evening he told me he had eaten some cornbread that was in the freezer. I was pretty certain I didn’t have any cornbread, and he was pretty certain he knew better since he’d eaten it. Thus, these will forever be known as ‘cornbread cookies,’ although I really don’t think they taste anything like cornbread.
What they do taste like is moist, dense deliciousness, thanks to the Ricotta cheese. They’re still amazing months (or years) after you’ve put them in the freezer and forgotten that they’re there.
-1/2 lb butter
-2 cups sugar
Add 3 eggs and beat well.
-1 lb Ricotta cheese
-2 tsp vanilla
-4 cups flour
-1 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp salt
Drop by small teaspoons onto greased cookies sheet. Bake 10-15 minutes at 350 F. When cool, can be iced and dipped in sprinkles.
Icing: confectioner’s sugar and milk to make a glue-like mixture. Almond or anise flavoring can be added to icing.
So that’s one of my childhood favorites. I substituted half vanilla, half Fiori di Sicilia to give them a little citrus kick. It probably should have been more like 3/4:1/4 because the Fiori di Sicilia is very strong, but there haven’t been any complaints around here. I also made them more like large tablespoons of batter and extended the baking time because I really didn’t want to make 100. I ended up with about three dozen, and obviously I was too lazy to make frosting of any sort. Two days later, I think we may be down to our last dozen.
This week we received an unexpected package from Mark’s family. Inside we found the mother lode of loose tea!
They sent Jasmine Dragon Pearl, Genmaicha, Wuyi Rock, Pingshui Gunpowder, and Dragon Well. We love tea and shared many pots of our favorites when they visited, so this is right up our alley. I’m looking forward to trying the Wuyi Rock and Dragon Well. I enjoyed many cups of genmaicha during a visit to their house in Seattle last winter. I already keep a stash of gunpowder green tea (and a really huge mug) at work to get me through the rough days. And Jasmine Dragon Pearl is one of our all-time favorites. It smells like flowers and heaven, and tastes amazing. We took the whole crew to our local tea shop while they were here so they could get some Jasmine Dragon Pearl to take back to WA, but the shop was waiting on a resupply. As you can see, our personal supply was getting low:
Now we’ll be back in business for quite a while!
2010 is already crazy-busy for me. Is it too soon to be dreaming of a vacation?
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
I hope you find a little piece of paradise wherever you can this week!
Santa brought this, too:
I absolutely love the iridescence. I wore it recently on a dark green cardigan and the colors really popped. It came from the same dealer as the amethyst earrings, and again there was no information about the age. It has a C clasp, which usually indicates an older piece — the safety clasp that you usually see on brooches today was invented in 1910 — but that’s not a hard and fast rule.
By the way, there are fun sales on tap at Editors’ Closet this week, including Rock & Bone jewelry on Wednesday. I’ll be checking it out. Email me if you want a referral!