Thursday, March 25, 2010

24 March 1956 “Academy Award Film, Keeping Plants, Ironing, and Cupcake Bread Pudding”

 martyposter The 1956 28th Academy Awards were held on 21 March of this year. An uncharacteristic Hollywood film, Marty, won the highest honor this year.The film received international success, winning the 1955 Academy Award for Best Picture and becoming the second American film to win the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Marty and The Lost Weekend (1945) are the only two films to win both organizations' grand prizes.

This is a great film. You can buy it HERE (around $11). I really enjoyed it and found it’s portrayal of ‘normal’ people a very modern approach to the usual 1950’s films.

My Fair Lady opens on Broadway this month in 1956 with a young Julie Andrews. This is an interesting ‘interview’ from that same year of the production. I like the bit where the American is teaching English Julie Andrews about a Cockney accent. And of course Julie Sings. There are some wonderful actual recorded numbers from the Broadway show, so give a watch.  This would have been so wonderful to see live on Broadway!

myfairladyalbum I have a vintage album of the songs from this musical on 33 with the original Broadway cast. It is fun sewing music! You can buy a modern copy HERE.

We were having a discussion of things the other day about what we like to do to give our homes a nice feel or that extra touch. It made me think about the importance of keeping Houseplants. I really feel Houseplants are that final layer of decorating. It is the icing on the cake of a home’s interior. Their is a permanence to it. A feeling that one has been around and will be around to care for and watch them grow.

From a design point of view, I just love how the texture and variation of the foliage in similar shades makes such a statement. myplants1 Here is a grouping I keep on the piano. By keeping the majority of the containers white it ties to the white of the Bust and is offset by the deep tones of the piano. The lush green of the plants give that feeling of warmth. Not all the containers in the grouping need to have a plant, as you can see here, yet it gives you that ‘opening’ for when you find the next one you must have. I am actually on the lookout for a nice Boston Fern for the empty urn in the background. you can see, as well, that the picture (one of two) is also of a botanical image and it’s frame is in white tones. If you pictured this same grouping without the lush greenery, it might not have the same feel.

myplants2 This grouping in the same room, fills out a corner space that might otherwise be overlooked. The Peace lily sits on a Victorian twig-built Adirondack table. All of the plants I have pictured are happy with medium light and actually prefer to not be in direct sunlight too long, as in their natural environment are on forest floors shaded by larger trees. Again, this same vignette of antique table, lamp, corner would seem rather bare without the shot of green. I collect old stoneware containers, as well, and you can see how the old green bottle on the floor ties into the color tone of the plants.

myplants3 A closer view of that same corner shows how the accent of the Baby’s tears in the front and the Grape-leaf ivy in the back add a softness to the table elements, including an antique brass kerosene lamp converted to electric and a picture of my Hubby as a boy with his mother on their boat. Somehow the plants, to me, add another personal element that always looks correct with family photos.

Now, for the novice to plant keeping, you don’t have to worry. Keeping plants alive is not as complicated as some think. I imagaine what often happens is someone new to plant keeping will see the pretty flowers on miniature roses or some other flowering plant that is a little tempermental and needs alot of light. But, there are many plants that are happy to be not watered for a week and don’t need direct sunlight, including the plants I have shown you today in my home.

Here is a quick list of some easy to care for house plants:

peacelily Peace lily– The plant handles lower light levels common to apartments and when the Spathiphyllum is thirsty it tells you with wilting leaves. It usually holds its pretty white flowers for some time and can be encouraged to rebloom with cutting the dying blooms. My Peace lily is not currently in bloom, but I don’t really care. I think for anyone just starting out with plants, focus on the foliage. Use the color, texture etc as your guide and if you get blooms, wonderful, but the texture and variety of the foliage is such a good tool to ‘brighten’ a room, I think they are often overlooked. These prefer indirect light and as stated, if they begin to droop you have waited too long to water, but fear not. Give them a drink and in a few minutes they will perk back up.You can find these very easily locally or you can buy them HERE from the Corner Store.

pottedsucculents Soft succulents– These toughies require some indirect light, do well in small pots, store water like a cactus and come in a variety of sizes and colors.Technically, a succulent is any plant with thick, fleshy (succulent) water storage organs. Succulents store water in their leaves, their stems or their roots. So, these little darlings are perfect for those who ‘forget to water’. You must still water, but they are used to being dried out so more forgiving. They do like light, but often do well with some indirect light. The Jade plant is a good example of a hardy version of this. I also like succulents in the garden and though New England is hardly a desert environment, the popular hens and chickshennchicks do rather well here and are so adorable peeking out between rock walls and pathways and winter over very well.

As a group, succulents include some of the most well-known plants, such as the aloe and agave, and many almost unknown plants. Cacti are a unique subset of the succulent group. Succulents make excellent display plants in dish gardens.Succulents should be watered generously in the summer. The potting mix should be allowed to dry between watering, but do not underwater. During the winter, when the plants go dormant, cut watering back to once every other month. Overwatering and ensuing plant rot is the single most common cause of plant failure.

philodendron Philodendron – Most of the varieties grown for indoor use grow downward like an ivy. Lots of colors, although with lower light the colors will not be as vibrant, few pest problems and require limited quantities of water. They come in many variety of leaf color and configuration. But also grow large and shrub like in the case of the lacy tree philadendren as I have in my house.Philodendron300

aspidistra Aspidistra - Also know as the cast-iron plant. This tough as nails houseplant was a favorite in Victorian times along with the Kentia palm. Back then houses were anything but bright and airy – much like apartments! In the Southern United States you can find Aspidistra growing completely carefree as a groundcover in dense, dark shade. They come in a variety of leaf colors from solid to speckled with yellow or stiped with white or yellow. aspidistra2 These plants were favored by the Victorians and as a Victorian house was often very low light, it attested to the plants hardiness. I love this old photo of this man with the Aspidistra next to him. This is also an easy plant to find, even at your grocery store. I also have it HERE in the Corner Store.

babystears Baby’s Tears-I am not sure what it is about this plant, but I just love it. It does not like direct light, and does prefer to be moist.  Here is a close up of the top of my Baby’s Tears plant.myplants4 Doesn’t it look like a lush jungle? It is the perfect plant to make terrariums which is a great way to enjoy a plant.babystearsterriuium

My seedlings are doing nicely as well. I have an entire tray of Basil I started last week (about 72 or so little plants) that I plan on planting around my veg garden squares to both define the space and look pretty as well as provide for alot of Pesto to store this fall.

The second leaves on my Cucumbers and Tomatoes have started. The second set of leaves are always telling as they have the distinct shape of the adult plant. cukeseedling here is a tomato tomatoeseedling Have any of you started seedlings yet for your garden?

We were also talking about ironing sheets on the Forum and I thought this video was a good demonstration on how to iron a fitted sheet.

How to clean an iron:

  • If the substance stuck on the bottom of the iron is waxy, you should turn the iron onto its highest setting and run it across newspaper until the residue disappears.
  • If the substance is oily, then just wet a rag with ammonia. Next, just rinse the iron off with some water and the gunk should be gone.
  • Vinegar works as a cleaning agent for many irons. Pour some on a clean cloth, and wipe the surface of an iron throughly. If that doesn't work, combine vinegar with baking soda. With a soft cloth, scrub the surface of the iron.
  • You can get rid of any build-up in the vents of the iron by taking a cotton swab or a pipe cleaner and gently sweeping the residue out of the area. If you attempt to use something of a harsher nature, like a tool or a knife, you could scratch the base of the iron, causing future problems.
  • To clean the reservoir of your iron, pour a solution that is one part vinegar to one part water in. Turn the iron on. Allow it to steam for about four minutes. Drain the iron for an hour, and be sure to repeat the process with clean water before you iron any clothing items.
  • The other day I had made some lovely white cupcakes. As I was out of cupcake papers, I merely greased the muffin tins to make them. Unfortunately, some of them came out ‘headless’ or not in cupcake form. So, rather than be upset, I realized I could use them later for a ‘cupcake bread pudding’.

    Last night, I needed a quick dessert and rememberd I had stored the cupcake mistakes in the ice box. Though they had hardened some, I did not care as it works perfectly for bread pudding.

    Now, I did not use a recipe but just sort of made up my own. I know that bread pudding has milk/cream and butter and eggs and usually sugar (though in this case I did not use any as the cupcakes were sweet enough). So, here is my recipe for

    Cupcake Mistake Bread Pudding

    So, I broke up the cupcake mistakes into a buttered baking dish.breadpudding1 This was about 5-6 cupcakes.

    breadpudding2 So, for the amount I had, I used two eggs about 1 cup of milk with some cream mixed in and 3 TBS butter. As I learn more about cooking/baking, I often find myself just ‘making it up’ as I begin to understand how various ingredients are meant to work together. As long as your mix of butter, milk and cream fills up the dish as you see here, you are right on the money. This gives it a very ‘custard’ sort of mixture.

    Now, you can add any thing at this point that sounds good, cinnamon (which I did) and of course, I love syrup, so I poured some of that in for good measure.breadpudding3

    Then you bake at 350 F for 45-50 minutes. You want to bake an egg/cream mixture like this longer and lower temp, so that it can rise properly.

    breadpudding4 It turned out beautiful and it tasted wonderful! breadpudding5 Here you can see all the lovely browned bits. I served it with warm cream to pour on top in little bowls. The rest went with hubby today for his dessert in his lunch.

    Desserts such as these and meals such as meat/veg pies and casseroles can be a homemakers best friend. They allow you to take all the leftovers and make them into a wonderful dish. There is no waste and you can get inventive.

    I have been lucky enough to get a few people to do guest blogs for the website. I will be trying to feature this more often (hopefully weekly) as time goes on. Today we have guest blogger Rue from Rue’s Peanut Butter and Jelly life, so go to the SITE and scroll down to read her ‘Guest Blog’.

    I am also putting up the very basic bones of the new INTERIORS page. It is very rough at this point, but you can see the layout and what is to come. Now I just need to ‘flush it out’ everyday.

    Until later, then, or I shall see you on the Forums page. Happy Homemaking!

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