Thursday, April 23, 2009

My Better Half

Mr. BITH's score. Uh oh.

I took it again, mentally modernizing some of the questions like he did. Ha! At least I scored a little better:


As a 1930s wife, I am

Take the test!

Our new little neighbors

Sweet little robins have set up camp on top of my neighbors' arbor. Rockin' Robin momma is doing a good job keeping predators away and feeding those constantly open mouths.

Lamb Cake

Sounds disgusting, but it's not!

This sweet-faced thing was part of a celebration honoring my friend, Nancy, for her birthday. Her birthday falls around Easter and her mom used to make her lamb cakes covered with coconut -- I decided that I would surprise her and finally try the Rich's Coconut Cake recipe that I had clipped from the Atlanta Journal Constitution a few years ago.

I had heard a number of people mention how fond they were of this cake when Rich's still had a bakery and I guess it is a big deal that they finally got hold of the recipe. Never mind that it is 800 CALORIES A SERVING! Or that it has vegetable shortening in both the cake and the frosting. Mmm, mmm good.

I actually made this cake twice because
a) I had never made a coconut cake from scratch before, and b) I have never used a 3D cake pan before.

Good thing I did! The first one didn't rise like it should have and didn't fill out the entire mold. It flopped. On its side. Poor thing couldn't stand on its own. And you know what?! No wonder. I just found this edited version of the cake when looking for a good link for the recipe to put in this post - apparently they swapped the flour and sugar amounts by mistake in the version I had. I guess that is why the cake was more cakey than I thought it should be. Still good though! Guess third time will be a charm.

::Thanks to Mr. BITH for helping frost and coconut goo the cake. Oh, and skewering it back together again after the head fell off on the way up!!::

This is Nancy finally seeing the cake. It seemed like people enjoyed it, but they were even more enthralled with the edible Easter grass surrounding the cake. Go figure :)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009



As a 1930s wife, I am
Very Poor (Failure)

Take the test!

See the original scanned test here.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

::Happy Easter::

Hope that you had an abundance of love, chocolate and jelly beans! Ours was made complete with a creepy bunny that sings from Cracker Barrel.

A very blessed day, indeed.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Chicken and Dumplings

I grew up in Florida, so dumplings weren't the staple there that they seem to be here in 'Joeja'. When I saw this recipe in the latest BH&G, I decided that I would have to give it a try and make it from scratch -- especially since the chef is local {Scott Peacock from Watershed in Decatur}.

. . . even if I did have to YouTube how to quarter a chicken properly. No pictures of that mess after my attempt, thank goodness. That caption would have to read, "How to mangle a carcass," or "Which cut of meat do you think this is?"

Truly magically delicious!

Here's my picture:

Here's the fancy food stylist's version (her name is Jill LUST - what a great name for a stylist!):

Classic Chicken and Dumplings

Prep: 50 minutes
Chill: 2 hours
Cook: 65 minutes


  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tbsp. cold water
  • 2 Tbsp. peanut oil
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 4-to 4-1/2-lb. broiler-fryer chicken, quartered
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 5 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and sliced in half
  • 3 hard-cooked eggs, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. cold butter, cut in 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • Ground black pepper


1. For dumplings, in medium bowl whisk together egg, cold water, oil, and the 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir in flour. Mix until well-blended and elastic. Cover. Refrigerate 2 hours.

2. Season chicken, including back and neck, with the 1 teaspoon salt. Set aside. In 6-quart Dutch oven combine chicken stock, water, celery, onion, and pinch of kosher salt. Bring to a boil. Add chicken pieces, placing leg quarters and backbone first. Place breast, skin side down, on top. Reduce heat to just below simmer. Cover, leaving half-inch opening.

3. Cook 30 to 45 minutes or until breasts are just done; remove. Continue cooking leg quarters 30 to 40 minutes until tender; remove chicken and vegetables. Set broth in pot aside. Discard vegetables. Set chicken aside. Cool. Remove skin. Pull meat from bones, tearing into large pieces. Set aside. Discard bones.

4. For dumplings, turn dough onto well-floured surface. Roll very thin, about 1/16 inch; cut in 1 1/2- by 2 1/2-inch pieces. Return broth to boiling. Season well with additional kosher salt. Add dumplings to broth, shaking pot occasionally. Do not stir. Cook 3 to 5 minutes. Add reserved chicken. Reduce to simmer. Add butter, cream, and few grindings of black pepper. Gently lay hard-cooked eggs on top of other ingredients. Cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat; cover. Let stand 10 minutes. Serves 8.

Yesterday we had snow flurries

Today was shiny, breezy and a beautiful green.

Finally! Some fruits of my bulb planting frenzy!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

You're #1, can't be #2

We're wishing a great * big * ol' happy birthday to you!

♥ Lots of love ♥
The BITH's and petite monstre

P.S. The abominable snowman is looking for you . . . George

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Happy birthday, Katie and Petit Monstre!

Katie - Enjoy your birthday -- brunch was a great start :) Have a very safe and happy trip to China. Don't forget to Flip some videos onto your blog!

Petite Monstre - Happy 7th Birthday! Can't wait to see what your mid-life crisis phase is like . . . smooches little one.

Monday, March 23, 2009

'The New Furniture'

" . . . its joints neither come unglued or creak when a stout yokel sits upon it."
- House Beautiful, 1902

Early Saturday morning Mr. BITH and I headed over to Lilburn, GA for the Stickley lecture. We had about 20 minutes or so to mosey around and drool over furniture and meet the owner of Patterson as well as a Stickley rep and Stickley Corporate Historian, Mike Daniel, who would be giving the presentation.

While we nibbled on fruit, muffins and coffee we registered for the Stickley table giveaway and joked with another couple about stuffing the box (we didn't stuff or win, btw -- they did, win, not stuff, I mean. Drat.). Given that it was 10 a.m. on a Saturday morning, I was surprised to see as many people as there were there. One guy brought his little kid decked out in soccer gear. It was clear to me that going to a furniture store was the last place this kid wanted to be before his big game. He was a sport though and was pretty attentive throughout the hour or so long presentation.

It helped that Mike, the Corporate Historian, was fluid, funny and engaging - an overall wonderful presenter. He started with company history then moved on to try and define what makes arts and crafts, arts and crafts design. Then he talked about what goes into making the furniture, discoveries of old Stickley in good, bad and ugly conditions and how to care for furniture in general.

Mr. BITH and I walked away REALLY wanting a Stickley piece, which means of course that Mike was incredibly successful in building up consumer lust in his audience.
After hearing about the craftsmanship and understanding more of the history, we had to agree when he said, "Not everyone can afford a Stickley piece, but that doesn't mean that it is overpriced"

I thought that I would try and share key learnings and things that made us laugh for those of you that thought about going, but didn't/couldn't - or for those that don't live anywhere near Mike's roadshow locations.


Queen Victoria mourning card found on

Mike shared a photo of a woman sitting in a large, ornate Victorian reclining chair that had huge carved lions for armrests. One man in the audience asked, "does it roar when you push the (recliner) button?"

Mike's point in showing the photo was to illustrate that Queen Victoria's death was also the death of ostentatious Victorian design and the emerging simplicity of the arts and crafts lifestyle. Think how modern 'the new furniture', as Gustav Stickley called it, must have appeared to people then! It isn't surprising that the bungalow's construction and minimalistic attitude was the precursor of today's modern ranch.


Gustav strongly believed in the integrity of his products -- so much so, that he published
The Craftsman: an illustrated monthly magazine in the interest of better art, better work, and a better more reasonable way of living. Gustav educates the readers on various topics including the cost of his furniture construction. By actually putting his furniture plans in the magazine, he invites the reader to build the pieces themselves and see just how much care and labor goes into creating a Stickley piece.

Mike - remember, the guy delivering the presentation at Patterson Furniture? -- shared a link to an archive of all of The Craftsman issues. Such a treasure trove!

Check them out, but don't get so lost in them that you don't come back to me . . .

I'll wait . . .

. . .

For those of you still with me, maybe I better try to hurry up and finish this post, eh?

There were five Stickley brothers and each had their own furniture business. Sometimes they worked with each other, sometimes they didn't - but never all at once. Stickley merged after WW1 to survive. Leopold Stickley mainly carried the merged Stickley company after the war and did so by changing the furniture line to the Colonial Revival style

In 1956, Leopold received a silver award plate from a plethora of magazines honoring him for his contribution to the American lifestyle. He died in 1957 and his wife took over. E.J. Audi helps her design new pieces, but then dies in 1966

Alfred, E.J.'s son, buys the dying company from Mrs. Stickley in 1974. Strangely enough, he was at the award dinner for Leopold Stickley at the age of 18.
Mrs. Stickley warns Alfred not to "hire a bunch of long haired freaks because they are worthless". Mike Daniel (now Corporate Historian) is hired.

The long haired freaks must have figured things out with the help of old time employees and discover unfilled orders in a safe from 1968. They call places like Rich's in Atlanta to see if they still want their orders filled. Amazingly, they do . . . but now Little House on the Prairie/The Waltons are in and people want the craftsman style again . . .
This is where long-haired freak, Mike Daniel, saves the day with the story of Earl in the boiler room.

Apparently, Mike discovered Earl burning old stuff in the boiler room just to get rid of it. Turns out the boxes were full of old furniture designs and Mike doesn't know what to do with them, but starts playing the game of "keeping things from Earl" and stashes them in the attic. These designs start to come in handy when they try to fill old orders and new ones coming in for the trademark Stickley look. Mike also starts travelling looking for old Stickley pieces so that they can figure out how to recreate them. This is how Mike becomes the "Corporate Historian".

As he discovers old Stickley furniture, he starts to see how differently the Stickley brothers assembled their pieces and what worked and what didn't. This is why they don't call their furniture reproductions, but rather reissuing because the furniture is a blend of the best of Stickley brother's craftsmanship. For example, Leopold came up with these techniques:

Illustrations from the Stickley catalogue

Mike said that he takes care of the museum pieces by spraying them with a fine mist of water and immediately wiping with a soft cloth. He only uses polish once or twice a year and says that polishes can actually strip the finish off of wood - especially when you switch to different kinds of polishes. Crazy, huh? You can read more about care here.

Also, if you run across any dark/near black finished Stickley pieces, don't try and clean or refinish them. This effect was caused by fuming the piece with ammonia and you can't replicate the effect once the tannins are depleted. Just saying. In case you ever even THOUGHT about refinishing a Stickly, lol.


The coolest thing I learned about Stickley at the lecture you ask? They WANT and ENCOURAGE you to write your story on the bottom of Stickley drawers and tables. Gustav used to take notes and try different stains on the bottom of his furniture. Stickley recognizes that this furniture is owned by humans and humans have stories and pass their Stickley furniture down in their family.

Mike tells a great story about desperately wanting a Stickley rocking chair he spotted at a sale. The family decided not to sell it for the sole reason that on the bottom of the chair was an inscription from one family member to his wife on their anniversary. Mike also told a story of a Stickley table located at a bed and breakfast that has signatures from notable guests on the bottom of it. Wonder what that will go for at auction?!


Turns out that "long haired freak" Mike used to play bluegrass at the same clubs these two did.

Recognize them? Mike is behind the scenes at a lot of Antique Roadshows and says that the Keno brothers just laugh at how they have all cleaned up since first knowing one another. No more long hair, you see ;)


I will leave you with these beauties since they are lodged in my heart for a splurge some day. I seem most attracted to Harvey Ellis' work. Astonishingly enough, Harvey only worked at Stickley for 7 months before passing away.


We sat underneath a H.E. mirror at the lecture with little inlaid ships. Amazing, but can't find any closeup pictures of it anywhere. Oh, dear. Guess that means I will have to go visit it again. Maybe bring it home? What say you?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Local Stickley lecture and chance to win a piece!

This is a local opportunity for Georgians to learn more about Stickley's history and how to identify a real piece. Plus, who wouldn't want to win a free Stickley table!

Patterson Furniture Logo Stickley Logo

STICKLEY ROADSHOW with corporate historian Mike Danial
at both Roswell and Lilburn showrooms
DATE: Friday March 20th, 7:15 pm LOCATION: Roswell Store RSVP 770-640-6900
DATE: Saturday March 21st, 10:15 am LOCATION: Lilburn Store RSVP 770-972-6320
Refreshments will be served.

Stickley RoadShow

2009 limited edition Poppy Table to be given away at each event.

poppy table

Patterson Furniture Company
4750 Hwy 78
Lilburn, Georgia 30044

Monday, March 2, 2009

Dig it

Been into the sound and look of this video since my friend, Guille, showed it to us during the trip out to Tucson a few weeks ago (before the Chevy premier during the Grammy's).

Clever and lovely.

It has had almost 4 million hits on YouTube. Oren Lavie is an Israeli playwright who currently lives in Berlin.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Snow in the Hollow

It was 67 degrees yesterday.


Geese were swimming in the rain accumulation in the actual Hollow. Maybe a layover from flying in the snow?

So much fun seeing all of the kids in yards making snowmen and snow angels.

The ice tomorrow may not be as much fun.

For now, I will enjoy my hot cocoa and watching the flakes make their silent, swirling way down to the ground.

Stay warm everyone!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bungalow furniture explosion

We received the L.L. Bean Home catalog today and as I leafed through it, I started spotting mission style furniture on page 28. It got me thinking: doesn't it seem like bungalow furniture is everywhere right now?

Just like you other bungalow owners, I have way too many bookmarks to specialty craftsman websites and stores. They are pretty pricey, but I scheme and dream . . . just like you.

Realistically, although we love the craftsman look and may gift our home with a few craftsman pieces such as a nice arts and crafts chandelier or bookshelves, by no means are we looking to fill our home with it. We like variety. We like what we like and somehow we have to get our stuff to play nice with one another.

Still, I've added a few more bookmarks and thought I would share ;)
It is nice to know some big box stores are getting in on the style since we can't all afford Stickley!


L.L. Bean calls it their Mission Furniture American Hardwoods collection. Bonus: made in the USA with sustainably harvested American-grown Ash.

These are the pieces that caught my eye. A corner desk, because in bungalows we want to utilize all the space we can get:

The desk is $299 and the chair is $329. Nice lines. This fireside bench serves as both seating and an abbreviated coffee table. Simple and pleasing to the eye. It is only $169

Then, a stunning Morris style reclining chair and ottoman, $499 and $299. Just look at that beautiful wedge shape in the arm and echoed in the base of the seat:

This little beauty looks like you spent some cash on it, but you only part with $139:

Last, but not least, bungalow outdoor lighting. I especially like the ceiling lamp. Can't find it on the website though just in the catalog . . . am I missing it?

Crate and Barrel has Oak Park a la modern Prairie style. Also, the Bungalow line. What about the Windham line for those of us who haven't decided whether we have a bajillion hours of spare time to strip the white paint off of the trim?

Check out Room and Board's Mackintosh and Prairie style on their site.

Home Depot jumped on the bandwagon through their Home Decorators site. They have a plethora of Craftsman-style furniture. 318 hits, in fact.

We really want a bench under our living room window to store some shoes and things we quickly need to stow away so that we at least appear to be neat people.

They call it the Craftsman Gossip Bench.
With leather it ranges from $429-$529:

This one is $299

$319 with tilt out storage

I think there are ~5 more options . . . my brain might explode.

Even JC Penney has gotten in on the "mission".
Can't beat this for $199 on clearance!

So has Walmart. Go ahead. Put that Tot Mission set in the playroom. Go crazy.

Now, to find a hall tree. Ha!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Want some "cheeken"?

Which came first, the chickens or the coop?

The cheekens, natch!

My friend, Robert, was hurriedly building a coop this weekend since he became the proud owner of 4 rescued chickens.

I don't *think* I have ever scratched a chicken's ear lobe (did you know they have lobes?) or even petted a cheeken before. {Very soft}

Here are they are in all of their glory!

Guess what? I am on the egg list :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Gather 'round! It's story time

This is seriously one of the cutest kids I have ever seen.

Once upon a time... from Capucha on Vimeo.

A little Amelie who paints the world with her words and smiles :)

Mr. BITH sat through a few videos after hearing me laughing like crazy from the next room. His only comment was,

"My gosh. You'd kidnap her if you could"

I just smiled.

Apparently, this video has gotten the most attention, but I really like Capucine Meets Alex, Yuuuuuuuuum, Too much candy, My name's Ingalls, Carrie Ingalls and Elementary my dear Watson.

*hell* watch them all.

She's too, too adorable.

Make sure you check out her t-shirts and other items on various websites. All proceeds go to Edurelief.

Oh, and if you think my fascination makes me look like I am off my rocker, Google this child. Here's just one small sample . . .

My favorite line from Capucine's letter to Santa:
If I hug you, your beard will not sting, it will only tickle.

My favorite line from the author:
We take back everything bad we ever said about babies. As long as they look, talk, and think like this one

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Good luck, Mr. President

May you be wise enough, smart enough, humble enough and
tough enough to guide us safely through the rough seas ahead . . .

That is my hope.

What's behind wall number one?

Finally made it to go see Slumdog Millionaire and came home to find an object like this on our front porch:

accompanied by a note and business card. The gist of the letter was that some contractors were working on the house next door and heard water running next door (that would be our house). They came to investigate and saw water pouring out of the basement door.

After realizing no one was home, this very nice man used that thingamabob pictured above (also known as a water valve key) to turn off the water to our house to stop the river running out the door. The contractor and his twin brother then came over and helped us identify the pipe running to the area where the leak was very obviously occurring.

Discovery #1:

The previous owner decided putting in valves that would allow you to turn off water to only parts of the house wasn't necessary.
The contractors sadly told us we would have to tear out drywall to get to the problem area.

They helped us move extra drywall away from the wall, told us what we would have to do and then headed out. {{Thank you wonder twins! They didn't have to help us, but they did.}}

Note: Previous owner of house will henceforth be referred to as Dumbass. This isn't an arbitrary pejorative and grounds for using aforementioned "Dumbass" reference will become more clear and justified after Discovery #2 and Discovery #3.

Discovery #2:

I realize construction workers have this inclination to put empty beer cans, Styrofoam containers and various other sundry behind walls and below floors of buildings they, well, build. I don't get it, but they do.

But why would you do this in your own home? I repeat, why?

The following picture is what we found behind wall number 1.

In case the jumble is too much for your brain to process, those are umpteen empty buckets of mudding compound, pieces of drywall and old pieces of wood stacked neck high.

These were all - of course - soaking wet at this point.
Remember the pipe? We hauled this stuff out the door to get to the pipe.

{Did I mention I am snotty sick?}


Discovery #3:

After moving all of the junk aside, we found the crack in the pipe (a frozen chunk sluiced out when Mr. BITH disconnected it). This pipe was leading to a spigot on the outside. Guess what? No insulation on pipe. None. Nada. Zip. Zero. Zilch.


Mr. BITH headed to Lowe's, got some materials and came home to fix the pipe. My hero :)

Lesson learned? We are pretty much resigned to the fact that
DIY Dumbass = do over of drywall, electric and HVAC in the basement.

Can't wait to find what else DIY Dumbass decided to put behind the walls instead of renting a dumpster. Wait, DIY Dumbass is also a Cheapass?!

I guess that is Discovery #4.

P.S. Guess what Mr. BITH found in the basement the next day while cleaning up? Insulation for pvc piping. Not anywhere on the pipes of course. Dumbass.

Friday, January 9, 2009

It was such fun

{click on image to see in more detail}

to decorate our home for Christmas . . .


The little elf guy was a Christmas gift last year from our good friend, Robert. This year Lorraine painted little gourd spinners and gave them to us as a gift. They completely fit in!

Our sweetheart neighbors gifted us this musical Fitz and Floyd Santa's Toyland:

Friday, January 2, 2009

Green Goddess redux

Remember this post?

Well, now you can experience the goodness of Green Goddess and stay regular.

Who knew . . . ?

{click on the image to actually be able to read it}

And if that is just too much trouble to throw together, you can always depend on Phil Hartman's favorite cereal (although I think this appeared in Mad Magazine first).