The Back Yard

This weekend my brother, my sister, her husband, and my niece all journeyed down to my parents’ house for my Mom’s birthday. (It’s nice that we’re all within driving distance.) We celebrate with food – we had grilled shrimp (three types of marinades), burgers with onions and mushrooms, grilled zucchini, oven fries, and my sister made carrot cake with amazing cream cheese icing. Decadent! Happy birthday Mom! But before dinner…before I was too stuffed to wander… I was walking through my parents’ yard and taking pictures of all of the pretty things…the decadent everyday. The visually decadent – tiny orchids, tangelos, thyme, flowering aloe, and a particularly jungly and overgrown pot. Mmmm....lovely!


Slinkster Inks!

I love working with ink – I work of my own accord, probably not properly…I mix drawing with pens and painting with brushes. If I press too hard and bend the nib and scratch the paper…I bend the metal back and …blot my paper. And keep going.

I love that I can draw a line with a pen and then take a brush full of water and pull pigment out of this line into a wash. My favorite ink of all time – Parker Quink – is a black ink that, as it slowly dries, let’s me pull different pigments out of it…yellows, blues, violets…more on this ink later. I could go on and on! I’ll have to photograph this phenomenon to show you!


I was so drawn to the pretty colors at the Farmer's Market that I snagged this lovely bunch of radishes. It wasn't until I got home that I realized...I don't know what to do with radishes except slice them into a salad! Any suggestions?


The Immaculate Tea Set

Not a drop of tea poured from April 1956 - January 2010!

My Nonna loved her original china tea service – when she and my Dziadziu moved from Italy to Argentina (1948) she had it shipped to follow them. Then, when it was broken in transit when they moved from Argentina to Miami she was quite upset – she has a great appreciation for the beautiful.

A Lebanese man who worked with Romuald (my Dziadziu) in Miami told him about a store which was going out of business, so all their china was on sale. Rom didn’t have a car, so the Lebanese man drove him there; Rom also didn’t have the cash on him, so the man wrote the check for the china and then Rom paid him back when they got home. They brought the china to Rita (my Nonna) as a surprise, and presented it to her with a big smile. She loved it. (This part of the story just totally warms my heart!)

When she gave it to my sister Helena, Nonna told her (through our father, who picked it up in Miami and brought it to her) that the tea set had never been used. She wanted to be sure that my sister knew this so she didn't think she was giving her something used/worn out/cast off, so to speak. My Nonna is very particular about these things.

She told my sister that one of the cups was chipped and so that this should always be the "hostess cup." This has been somewhat of a running joke in their household ever since. Proudly displayed in the china cabinet is…THE TEA SET THAT HAS NEVER BEEN USED. Jokes were made about waiting for the Queen’s arrival…et cetera et cetera…

Then…on the fateful day of January 16, 2010 my sister Helena, her husband Matthew, their daughter Katrina, and I USED THE IMMACULATE CHINA TEA SERVICE! Gasp! It was a momentous occasion and forever changed one of my brother-in-law’s favorite stories about “the tea set that has never been used.”

The menu included buttermilk scones with clotted cream and homemade (by my sister) strawberry jam; cucumber tea sandwiches (with the crusts cut off….toast and make into bread crumbs so as not to waste!) and chicken salad tea sandwiches (same); meat pies; mini-Yorkshire puddings (popovers, technically, I think…); pumpkin bread; and a special Tasha Tudor blend of tea. We don’t overdo it or anything…:)

Simply Delightful!!


Valentine’s Day is coming!

I’m a little early, I know, but I’ve been making Valentines for my Etsy shop so I am in the spirit of the holiday… Though the roots of Saint Valentine’s Day are a bit fuzzy (the name is one of several martyrs of ancient Rome, and none were associated with the lovey-dovey we are familiar with today) I still think it’s a great opportunity to express love to those in your life. Romans celebrated the festival of Lupercalia, during which men would draw the names of women out an urn to select a companion for the year…precursor to online dating? Hmm… Then there are stories that February 14 is the day on which birds began to mate – LOVE BIRDS! Send a Valentine to someone you love – a family member, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, old friend, husband, wife…you get the picture. Love is beautiful in all its forms.


Chilly Day at the Beach!

Why I decided to go to the beach yesterday when it was 32 degrees and dropping, I don’t know. I think I am just reveling in the fact that we have a WINTER for once (when just a month ago I was hanging Christmas lights in shorts and a tank top)! But I do not envy all of you Northerners – I hope you are all staying warm!

I did have a lovely walk (all bundled up of course!). And the beach was covered in Atlantic Giant Cockles and so many other shells, plus some stray pieces of coral. It was a very pretty, quiet afternoon; few other souls ventured to the beach, but I was not the only crazy one out there!


January is National Letter Writing Month

January is National Letter Writing Month! Find some pretty stationery and write to someone you haven't talked to in a while. Or write Thank You notes for lovely Christmas gifts (currently top on my To Do list!). Or start up a pen pal relationship. My sister and I both love to get FUN snail mail, so we write back and forth...though the holidays imposed a slight hiatus on this from both ends. One more New Year's Resolution: resume pen-pal-ery!

Sunny Days of 2010

Hello! To commence my blogging adventure I would like to share with you (whoever “you” are out there – thanks for reading!) my Sunny Days of 2010 calendar that I made for this New Year. My friend and lovely neighbor gave two of these as Christmas gifts, and I’ve sold another one in my Etsy shop, the namesake of this blog, Pen and Paperie (www.penandpaperie.etsy.com)!

2010 promises to be a bright year – 2009 had many bumps in the road for many of my friends and family members. I’ve got a good feeling about this year! Here’s to 2010!