Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Kale Pesto and a Sleeve of Crackers

Kale Kale Kale Kale---you  don't seem to read about any other super food these days.  When I am not reading antiques magazine, I am reading smart eating magazines.

You can make pesto out of anything--and I made Kale pesto.


Dear Friend K came for breakfast the other morning and in hand was a huge sheaf of kale and other veg fresh from her garden.

"I will make kale pesto," said I.  (Dear Friend K might have look a bit puzzled)

Oh yummers.  Totally yummers.

Recipe to follow-
" Kale Pesto That Will Make You an Addict and Cause your Colon to Say THANK YOU"

Thoroughly wash kale leaves--you have removed the ribs and stalks.  Really wash and spin it clean.  Three big handfulls.

Put in a food processor with two cloves of garlic, 1/4 cup parmesan (don't you dare use the green can rubbish.) 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil--I used a lemon infused oil.  Or use regular olive oil and put in a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice.  Several serious grind of black pepper and process on high for a minute till a thick paste forms.  Add a little more oil if you like it thinner.

I can recommend it on crackers.  On celery.  On grilled chicken.  On hard boiled eggs.
the color just screams "I AM GOOD FOR YOU!"

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Thrill of A Special Little Table

No denying I like unusual things.

I don't like Modern Much of Anything.  When I say that the only modern things we have in our house are the fridge, TV and washer dryer,  I really am not joking.

I just love old tables.  Ask Dear Husbola--he will tell you I make him nuts.  I am constantly changing and moving tables in our house.  Often.

Recently, we attended an auction that did not appear to have much.  Except two great tables.  I had to get them--one for "us" and one for the shop.

The first is an 19th century side table. French.  Beautiful inlay.  Marble top.  Great patina on the ormalu.  Totally overlooked by the auction attendees and bought for a great price.

The second was a 19th century side table.  Delicate tapered legs and a tiger maple single board top and cherry drawer and base.  Just lovely warm patina.

A little Murphy's oil soap and both are ready for action.  One for us.  One for the shop.  And a third--the one that the french table is replacing--that goes to the shop as well.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Why Not Visit Us at Odana Antique Mall??

Why do dealers over think selling in malls?

Talk to 100 dealers and you will get 100 different opinions on mall selling.  Yes it's great.  Selling in malls is passe.  Summer is the best time to sell in a shop.  Summer is the worst time to sell in a shop. Blah Blah Blah Blah.

To regular readers of this blog, you may know by now that Dear Husbola and I are selling in one shop only and that is the Odana Antiques and Art Mall on Odana Road on the west side of Madison Wisconsin.  And is is good.

We expanded our space at the first of the year--we have a large double booth, Number 33, and it has no neighbors to either side of us.
We are following the Dear Husbola Rules of Mall Selling--not so cluttered.  Malls by nature are cluttered.  We are not.  And guess what?  We are selling and selling WELL!! (pair of little cream chairs, one pictured above--SOLD.)
Yes--it's summer.  More people through the mall in the summer months.  But also Madison is a metropolitan area and a well managed mall. The owners are young and invested in the shop's success. Dealers for the most part take care with their displays.  You can find a $1.00 postcard or high quality paintings and furniture in the $1000s.
Madison used to have several good shops.  Now Odana is THE shop to visit and to sell in.  We can now look for good quality art and furniture and know it will sell.
Antique dealers cannot afford to be content for long.  But for right now, Odana is treating us right.  Consider a visit soon.  http://www.odanaantiques.com/

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Mozart, Martin Kos, Sparkling Wine and Bertramka

One of the best parts of being an antique dealer is having the love of history and the story behind things--for me, this is the love of the story behind old buildings.  Even more than my love of furniture or paintings is the story or "soul" behind a building.

Take as example Villa Bertramka located about a mile from the city center of Prague.

Dear Husbola and I spent a delightful evening there this spring.

Muzeum W. A. Mozarta a Manzelu Duskovych  is a villa that in the late 1700s was a salon for artists and musicians.  Purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Dusek in 1784, it was a meeting place for the arts and Mozart was a frequent visitor.

Our visit was in Bertramka's current incarnation as a special events venue and museum.  We were treated to cocktails in the courtyard and a fabulous unexpected concert.

Martin Kos and Stepan Kos are two brothers--Martin plays the violin and Stepan the piano.  They are both members of the Suk Chamber Orchestra and Martin is the concertmaster.  In European orchestra circles, this equals Big Time.
There we were--in an upstairs room of the villa, our little group of perhaps 20 people--Listening to a delightful concert with warm late spring breezes wafting through the windows.  Each selection was introduced by a vivacious woman, outfitted in sparkles and ruffles--who reminded me of Glenda the Good Witch.
A great selection of Dvorak, Mozart and a new composer Sorry I Did Not Get the Name.  Afterwards they stayed a few moments, but no typical Prima Donna nonsense of selling CDs or t-shirts or preening themselves in front of the crowd.

We adjourned to the courtyard for more wine and a buffet supper.
Now, can you see why we have such a Love Affair with the Czech Republic???

Thursday, July 11, 2013

My Friend Baroness White--Part 2

A recent blog post introduced you to a woman I had the privilege of meeting on a train in 1981--I last left you with this woman expressing regret that she had not met me sooner, and taken me to a reception in honor of Prince Charles.  The story continues.

During our four hour train ride from Edinburgh to London, Lady White insisted on exchanging contact details.  She promised to contact me about being her guest at the Queen's State Opening of Parliament that was due to take place later in the autumn.

Yeah right.  Dotty Old Lady who thinks she's a peeress in the House of Lords.
The next week, I received a letter at my London flat inviting me and my roommate to the Queen's State Opening of Parliament.  The fairy tale continues as Roommate and I arrived at the Peer's Entrance to the Houses of Parliament and we sat in Lady's White's office and watched the main proceedings on closed circuit television.  Previously we had been admitted to a gallery and watched the pomp as Black Rod strides through the hall and raps on the door requesting admittance of the House of Commons MPs to be admitted to the Lords to listen to the Queen's speech.  I was within three feet of Lady Thatcher.  (Impressions?  Very short and VERY red hair)

The friendship continued.  Lady White invited me and Said Roommate to her flat in Cardiff Wales for a weekend later in the autumn.  We toured ruined castles in Wales, attended a performance of the Ballet Rambert and slept on a pull out sofa in her living room.  We enjoyed poking through her photo albums, and hearing stories like "Lady Astor hosted my coming out party at Clivedon" and "We used to have Sunday tea with George Bernard Shaw."  THAT George Bernard Shaw.
 Lady White is in  blue.

A small souvenir of the House of Lords--given to me--I did not steal it!!

Our friendship continued through my single years in Oak Park, to my marriage and until her death in 1999.
She was a vigorous correspondent and played hostess again and again to Dear Husbola and me and my mother.

Here is a snippet from her obituary that was published in The Guardian--

Baroness White of Rhymney

Eirene White, Baroness White of Rhymney, who has died aged 90, was the first woman to hold the office of minister of state for foreign affairs in Harold Wilson's second Labour government of 1966. She was born into the lap of scholarship and politics: her mother came from an academic background and her father was Tom Jones, the deputy cabinet secretary to four prime ministers - Lloyd George, Bonar Law, Ramsay MacDonald and Stanley Baldwin - and had a traditional Welsh hunger for learning. Eirene was educated at St Paul's girls' school, London, and Somerville College, Oxford. She worked for a period in the ministry of labour. At the end of the second world war she spent time in the United States studying housing conditions and the provision of public libraries. While there she discovered that she and Paul Robeson could not go together to the same restaurant. This she never forgot and she fought all her life against racial discrimination.

On her return to England Eirene joined the Manchester Evening News and, in 1945, became the first accredited woman political correspondent. She unsuccessfully contested Flintshire for Labour in 1945 and entered parliament in 1950 after winning East Flint with a majority of 70. She held the seat for 20 years.

There is a Part 3--that includes a birthday visit to her brother's home and a stay at her London flat.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Ranier Cherries and an Arm and a Leg

Nothing says summer to us more than ranier cherries.
Bing cherries used to be the favorite--but these have replaced bing.  Some people call them Queen Anne cherries--but here in northern Illinois they are Ranier cherries and the biggest and most lush come from Washington state.

But these cherries come at a price--and some serious sticker shock.  SERIOUS cha-ching sticker shock.  The season is short.  We do not grown them in our yard. (honey and peaches take up our sunshine)  And I do not care what they cost.  When they show up at Caputo's--I buy them.
I am frugal at heart.  I shop carefully for food.  Our menus are based on weekly sales--not on what we are hungry for--whatever the cost.

Except when it comes to ranier cherries...

Monday, July 1, 2013

Meet My Friend, Baroness White

I sort of have my own version of a fairy tale story.

I was pleasantly reminded of it while cleaning out several boxes of old correspondence that had gotten lost in a "Way Too Crowded Now It Isn't Anymore Guest Bedroom Closet".....

In 1981, I was blessed to find myself based in London for a half year of graduate classes at the University of London.  Without question, those months solidified my  love of All Things English and opened my eyes to a very wide world that has entranced me ever since.   One event in particular fell into my lap and has enriched my life to this day.

After a week of mid-term break travel throughout Scotland with a friend, I stayed on a couple of extra nights alone in Edinburgh.  I must admit--as my months abroad stretched on--my emphasis on "experiences" surpassed my emphasis on "studying."  Needing to return to London--I took a 5pm-ish train from Waverly station to King's Cross.  I had not booked a seat and did not even think of doing so.  How was I to know it was a 4 hour express--and very very VERY full.

I walked through at least eight carriages before I found one empty seat in a facing each other foursome of seats.  I plopped down across from a very British looking lady in a tweed skirt, serious shoes and gray hair.  I remember smiling in relief and pulling out two books for the journey-- Pride and Prejudice and a biography on Louis Mountbatten.

I have had a lifelong habit of reading two books at a time--and switching back and forth.  When I took a break from my two books--the British Lady initiated conversation and asked me if I was a student.  She continued to ask me questions and then we got talking about what I was reading and what did my parents think about me being so far from home.

The conversation was easy and we talked for a couple of hours.  When we were about an hour out of London, she asked me what was one thing I would like to do before I returned to the States.  Being 22 years old and not that many months removed from the wedding of Charles and Diana, I pipe dreamed that it would be wonderful to shake Princess Diana's hand.  (How profound!)

My seat companion said, "Such a pity I did not know you a few weeks ago.  You could have been my guest at the Prince of Wales'  Red Dragon Ball.  But instead, would you like to see The Queen's State Opening of Parliament in a couple of weeks?"

WHAT?????????????????  Who WAS this lady???  (Part 1)

No More Concrete or Cast Iron Please

Dear One  and I spend many good hours wandering around looking for quirky things to sell.  There is nothing that makes a dealer smile more t...