mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
The (sadly) typical historical food blog runs something like "Here's a picture and transcription of an authentic recipe.  Now here's my version, which substitutes baking powder for hartshorn, cinnamon for grains of paradise, and halves the sugar to suit modern tastes!"

Ivan Day is not that blogger.  He uses period techniques, ingredients, and tools to reproduce the historical recipes as accurately is possible.  One of his specialties is perfect reproductions of the elaborate set pieces of sugar, dough, and jelly that were part of upper-class European cuisine from the medieval period forward.
Enjoy!  I have ordered his Cooking in Europe:1650-1850 and am eagerly anticipating it.

Edit: DO take the time to watch the video of a flummery in motion.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
A young couple with a baby on the way are victimized at every turn by their habit of credulously taking the lowest bid from unknowns. Shock horror!

No, really.

We Bought a Crack House
It was a crumbling Parkdale rooming house, populated by drug users and squatters and available on the cheap. We were cash-strapped, desperate to move and hemmed in by a hot market. Five years, three contractors and $1.1 million later, our home reno nightmare is finally over.

This was November 2010, and Julian and I were living in a handsome but cramped two-bedroom detached with our two-year-old son, Oliver, on Elm Grove Avenue. That house had been a flip job, hastily renovated by the previous owner, and we had bought impulsively, anxious to upsize from our 900-square-foot condo. We soon discovered that it had a slew of issues, the main one being the rats that congregated in our crawl space, scratching and scurrying at all hours and providing fresh fodder for our nightmares. We wanted out.

You'd think these people would have learned a valuable lesson. Ha, ha, you fools!

Our budget was $560,000, but nothing came on the market at that price, so our enterprising young agent, eager to kick-start her business, began knocking on doors in the neighbourhood. Eventually, she met an elderly couple who explained that they owned several properties, including the grande dame, which they’d consider selling. They suggested $480,000, based on their most recent Municipal Property Assessment Corporation report, seemingly unaware of Toronto’s scorching market and the fact that MPAC generally assesses below market value. We needed to move fast, Julian said, before they put it on the market.

That night, six hours after Julian had called me at work, we submitted a bid of $480,000 without conditions. To our surprise, the owners refused it outright, evidently realizing they’d under-quoted us. We pushed our offer to our limit of $560,000, and they accepted. I was thrilled. Then the adrenalin wore off, and the gravity of what we’d done sank in. We had just spent more than a half a million dollars on a house I had never seen.

I'll let you pick your own favorite quotes.   I'm pretty sure mine is

We considered cutting the electricity, changing the locks or just starting the demolition with the tenants inside, but it didn’t feel right.

The kindly [personal profile] movingfinger  has linked me another article about the couple's hapless victimization by their habit of impulse-buying real estate, as if each successive house were an adorable kitten that had showed up on their doorstep.  And you'll be happy to know that \totally sincere\ liberals have started a gofundme to help with their cruel, cruel situation.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
 My thirty-years-agone Spanish fluency has returned to my lips well enough to talk to the Spanish-only-speaking gardener.  And I don't mean point and grunt, I mean "Could you dig this up?" and "They told me it would die", as well as understanding the gardener's questions about what to do, and remembering past tense and conditional.

This makes me ridiculously happy.  I'm sure my accent is still terrible, but at least I can converse on basic subjects.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
Charles Willson Peale referred to one of his son's allusive, cryptic letters as "hiraglefecks", which I immediately looked up.  Google suggested "hieroglyphics", which I'm sure is right.   I adore "hiraglefecks" as a standalone word; very satisfying to say and type. 
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
It turns out it wasn't just his child's body that interested him. He tried to buy the well-preserved body of a German Lutheran child for exhibition in his museum; he also said he'd like to stuff Benjamin Franklin's corpse -- Franklin was then living -- as a tribute.

I would adore to chase down these citations (screenshot from Wendy Bellion's Citizen Spectator:
Art, Illusion, and Visual Perception in Early National America
, c/o Google Books) someday.
A set of citations for Charles Willson Peale's interest in corpses

An article you can read with a free MyJSTOR login is "A Death in the Family", Phoebe Lloyd, Philadelphia Museum of Art Bulletin, Vol. 78, No. 335 (Spring, 1982), pp. 2-13 . This sets the painting in the context of other portraits of death, gives the full poem that was used as both advertisement and trigger warning, and has interesting details on the whys of Rachel Peale's pose.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
(from Demorest's Family Magazine, Volume 15, c/o Google Books)

A ROMANTIC LIFE.—The romantic vicissitudes of the early life of the Countess Solange De Kramer have once more become the talk of the Paris salons, and they are, indeed, so extraordinary that, used as materials for a novel, they would spoil the book by their lack of verisimilitude. One night in 1801, a little girl about one year old, was deposited in the drawer of the foundling hospital at Brest. She was dressed with much finery, and a note attached to her skirt told that her name was Solange, and that she would be reclaimed by her father. The claim was never made, however, and in due time the child was transferred to the orphan asylum to be educated there.

As she grew up she developed a most extraordinary beauty; but her intellect appeared to be very weak, and she suffered from frequent nervous fits. When she was twelve years old she was sent out into the streets to sell flowers, and her beauty and modesty attracted many people's good will; but she grew weaker and weaker and at last she died. According to French custom she was buried in an open casket, and, as it was Winter and the soil was frozen, she was laid into the grave, only covered with a thin layer of sand. During the night she awoke, and, pushing the sand away, she crept out from this grave. Not exactly understanding what had taken place, she was not so very much frightened; but in crossing the glens between the cemetery and the fortifications, she was suddenly stopped by the outcry “Qui vive,” and as she did not answer the sentinel fired, and she fell to the ground. Brought into the guard house her wound was found to be very slight, and she soon recovered ; but her singular history and also her great beauty had made so deep an impression on a young lieutenant of the garrison (Kramer) that he determined to be her protector, and sent her to one of the most fashionable educational establishments in Paris.

During the next ten years Kramer was much tossed about by the war; but when, in 1818, he returned to Paris, he found Solange a full-grown woman, not only beautiful, but accomplished and spirited, with no more trace of intellectual He married her, and for several years the couple lived happily in Paris. Meanwhile, investigations were made concerning the girl left in 1801 in the Foundling Hospital at Brest, and as these investigations were made by the Swedish ambassador, and in a somewhat official manner, they attracted some attention. Captain Kramer heard about the affair, wrote to the ambassador, and a month later the ambassador himself came in state to bring Mme. Kramer a formal acknowledgment from her father, the former General Bernadotte, afterwards King Charles XIV of Sweden. Captain Kramer and his wife went immediately to Stockholm, they were ennobled, etc., and their son has just now been appointed attaché to the Swedish legation in Paris.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
 In 1772, Charles Willson Peale's daughter Margaret died of smallpox.  He painted a memorial portrait of her corpse lying on a pillow, prepared for burial.   In 1776 Peale expanded the portrait, adding his wife, Rachel, weeping over the baby.   The revised portrait was called "Mrs. Peale lamenting the death of her child", or alternatively "Rachel Weeping", an allusion to Matthew 2:18: "In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not."   

From the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which now owns the work:

 In 1782 Peale advertised Mrs. Peale Lamenting the Death of Her Child as a feature of his new painting room but sequestered it behind a curtain with the warning: "Before you draw this curtain Consider whether you will afflict a Mother or Father who has lost a Child."

mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
 Any time I put on gardening gloves -- other than for rose pruning -- I discover after a few minutes that I have discarded them.  I need to feel the soil -- how wet it is, how it responds to pressure, whether a plant is securely seated.

This means that any time I'm working in the garden, my nails become lined with dirt.  Sinking my nails into a bar of Ivory before gardening helps a lot, but only if I remember to do it.  (I never remember to do it.)  I'm trying to clean my nails with an orange stick before going to an Apple Genius Bar appointment, but the results are patchy at best.   Ah, well.  If I have to choose between having my hands in the soil and having dainty ladylike hands, I pick gardening every time.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
 I am telling my anxiety that if I do *one* thing a day it is not allowed to complain.  Some days, taking a shower counts.

Today I planted out three peppers, two thymes, two tarragons, a Thai basil, and Zaluzianskya capensis .   I also hand-watered transplants that aren't ready as well as front-garden plants that aren't helped by the sprinkler.

That was definitely two things.  Maybe three.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
 My old gardener was extremely simpático but his workers did a terrible job (heading trees, killing flowers, and so on.)  I let him go this winter.  At the end of rainy season, I started looking to hire a new gardener, together with everybody else in Northern California.

In the last two weeks I had three gardeners ghost on me.  Came, surveyed the garden, promised to give me a quote, then were never heard from again.  I also interviewed three arborists.  One of them, a fruit-tree specialist, did the fruit trees.  The other two, thank Heavens, did show up and give binding estimates.   I'm planning on going with the second one, after double-checking scope with husband.  I may leave one inconvenient leaning oak tree until fall.  

I now have a gardener who's going to do the wildly overdue cleanup as well as monthly maintenance.  If he's a plant-killer too, I'll start all over on the monthly maintenance.

Still to do: find somebody to inspect and fix the sprinkler system.   However, today is a day of rest, dammit.   

My old gardener did all the above: spring cleanup, hedge trimming, tree pruning, and sprinkler maintenance.  I have to keep reminding myself that I wasn't happy with the way he did most of these, and that having to have multiple specialists may be more expensive, but gets the job done.  Sigh.

mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
 The nice thing about posting on DW is that I don't have to look up an image to post.   This weekend, instead of farmer's market, we did the ritual spring plant buy.   I now have three different varieties of tomato, five (I think) of hot pepper, cumin plants (!), a European elderberry, a Bearss lime, a dramatic purple plant whose name I misremember, and two tarragon plants.  Also I watered the front yard when I got home.    The new gardener who was supposed to show up yesterday didn't, and hasn't answered a text.  I fear I shall have to find a new new gardener.  In any case, I'm having an arborist in to look at the condition of some trees I'm worried about, prune the front-yard lemon, evaluate the apples I raised from grafts, and take out the dead peach tree and a volunteer acacia.

I wrote the (quite large) grower of the lime tree and asked about its size; the label says it's a semi-dwarf but not how big it is.  Here's the reply I got:

Citrus can be pruned to your desired height and width. If left unpruned it should reach a larger size planted in the ground. If grown in a pot that will limit to some extent the size.
Well, that's helpful.

mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
 I'm very excited about this pattern as a way to stretch an expensive ball of hand-dyed sock yarn into a complete shawl.   Zabbers on Tumblr points out that it's also a great way to reduce pooling and make the knitted object look more like the skein.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
I don't have the equipment or the rose syrup (yet) but I am very excited about making the Folger Library's 1610 Rose Cakes.  The adaptation is very close; it  adds precise measurements to the original and substitutes a cookie press for rolling the dough very thin.   The original sounds more like Moravian cookies than a cookie-press cookie, but I'm good with the change.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
bart victim-blaming poster

BART issues a helpful poster explaining to women how to conduct themselves so they won't be harassed. Apart from the ubiquitous victim-blaming, note "Don't get distracted, phones, music, and sleeping can make you a target."

Many, many women use earbuds to deter creepers. It doesn't always work, but it cuts back on people assuming you're available for conversation.

I'd love to live in the universe where BART and others put up posters telling passengers how to defend other passengers against creepers.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
Last week another United passenger, already in his seat‐First Class, full-fare, for what that's worth ‐was threatened with violence‐"being removed in handcuffs" is violence‐unless he gave up his seat for a higher-priority passenger.

The Chicago incident wasn't one rogue ground crew. Of course not. It never is. This is United company policy. United allows you to stay in your seat only if nobody more important wants it. Somebody thought that was a good idea, and passed the policy down the chain.

In our new authoritarian state and mindset, people are defending United's and the Chicago Police's actions, because nobody would have gotten hurt if they just did what they were told to do. According to a family statement late in the afternoon (I'm really sorry, all I have is this tweet containing a screenshot), the Chicago passenger, Dr. David Dao, is currently in hospital being treated for his injuries.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
This is the first time in months, maybe years, that I felt good enough Sunday morning to go to the market. What a joy.

Big fat leeks, green garlic -- these two make an amazing puréed soup -- cilantro, Thai basil, Italian basil, scallions, water cress (the real one), three boxes of raspberries (!) free-range eggs including one green one, purple and crimson anemones, mixed freesias, mixed sweet peas.

It's good to be back.
mme_hardy: White rose (rose)
To my LJ-only friends: I'm really going to miss you. I cannot abide the new TOS; see for reasons why. If you join Dreamwidth, let me know, and I'll friend you. (Or allow your OpenID to post, if you'd rather go that route.)

I'll be re-importing all my entries and comments to the Dreamwidth,, before I delete.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
Crossposting and importing are now broken unless you've signed the new LJ agreement.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
I'm really, really sorry for my LJ-only friends, but I'm going to be deleting my account. I will not sign the new User Agreement, which contains the following:

ATTENTION: this translation of the User Agreement is not a legally binding document. The original User Agreement, which is valid, is located at the following address:

No. I'm not signing something that is only legally binding in a language I can't read or write.

Please note that, User shall be subject to Article 10.2 of the Federal Act of the Russian Federation No. 149-ФЗ if more than three thousand Internet users access the Blog (the Blog’s page) within 24 hours. has done the heavy lifting on the act cited. Here's one important part:

1. The owner of a website and/or a website page on the Internet on which generally accessible information is placed and to which access exceeds 3,000 users of the Internet per day (hereinafter referred to as “blogger”) when said information is placed and used, for instance when said information is placed on the given website or website page by other users of the Internet shall ensure the observance of the legislation of the Russian Federation, for instance:

1) shall not allow the website or website page on the Internet to be used for the purpose of committing the acts punishable under a criminal law, disclosing the information classified as state or another specifically law-protected secret, disseminating the materials containing public appeals for carrying out terrorist activities or publicly justifying terrorism, other extremist materials and also the materials propagating pornography, the cult of violence and cruelty and the materials containing obscene language;

So, no. This is the end of my Livejournal. I will not sign that contract. If you set up a Dreamwidth account, I'll friend you; just let me know who you are.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
(A) The author of the book was male
(B) I would not be buying it

The viewpoint character is discussing a robot she's excavating.

FILE NO. 037


Location: Underground Complex, Denver, CO
—Definitely a girl! I couldn’t stop grinning when they brought the chest in. Her breasts aren’t that large, given her size, but they’re still bigger than my car. Perky…She must have been the envy of all the giant girl robots back in her day.
—I have not seen it yet.

Seen when skimming the pages of Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel, on the recommendations shelf  of my local bookstore.


mme_hardy: White rose (Default)

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