My Bags Are Packed…

and ready for my trip to Ireland tomorrow!


But these aren’t the ones I’m taking with me! My travel bags are modern, relatively light  weight, expandable and roll along on four wheels. The suitcases in the photo represent travel luggage from various decades of the previous century. They were picked up at various antique shops, thrift stores and yard sales. I love their grunginess and that I can stack them. More than just dust collectors, they are handy  for storing art supplies and unfinished projects.

One case, however, is just for “decorative purposes”. It is a vanity case  that accompanied a young woman as she emigrated from Italy to New York, more than one hundred years ago. I bought it from her elderly great grandson.

The interior:

Some of the containers, the hairbrush, and comb are made with “French Ivory”:

Some of the containers are glass with sterling silver lids! I think the little box on the right is for jewellery.

There is a little mirror inserted in a pocket on the lid. It is encased in leather and has a tab for hanging, as seen on the back.


In addition to the hairbrush and comb, included are a pocket knife and these two implements:vanity-case-8

Any idea what these were used for?


A Teacup’s Tale


Many years ago, when I was a poor, struggling student, I bought my first bone china teacup and saucer at a sidewalk sale. I did feel some guilt about spending the $2 to purchase it, because I was living on a $10 a week budget. (I did say this was many years ago.)

A summer or two later I had a summer job as a clerk in a  “china shop”. Tourists flocked into the shop and  spent hundreds of dollars buying Lladro, Royal Doulton, and Hummel figurines. Those held little interest for me, but I loved the bone china teacups with their pretty florals, delicacy and translucence. Over the course of that summer, I added four sets to the first. Now I had  a cup and saucer “collection”, as defined by my friend who  told me that once you have three of something, it is a “collection”.

Over the decades that followed a few more cups and saucers were added, mostly as gifts. These lovely teacups spent most of the time hidden away in a cupboard so that I didn’t have to dust them. However, I always brought out a couple to serve tea whenever my MIL (mother-in-law) visited.

That all changed just a few years ago. I was browsing through a charity thrift shop and saw quite a number of bone china cups and saucers in their inventory. It saddened me that these beautiful cups and saucers had been basically discarded, not wanted. As soon as I returned home, I pulled my teacups  from the cupboard and set them out on the sideboard where their beauty could be appreciated. I have discovered that keeping them dusted is quite a joy, too: I use different one each day.

I still have that first cup and saucer, too, although it has been re-purposed.

To be continued…














Afternoon Tea, Part 2


Lemons are such a versatile fruit. They can be used for cleaning, personal care,  and savoury food. (Think lemon pie, and lemon chicken.) Because lemons are so useful, I stock up whenever they are advertised as a special. The secret to keeping them fresh for weeks is to refrigerate them in a zip-lock bag.

I wanted to make lemon curd to spread on the Irish soda bread that I had baked for “Afternoon Tea”, so was glad to have had some lemons on hand.


To prepare lemon curd, I pulled a few tools out of the gadget drawer:

a rasp






a citrus juicer


an egg separator


and a wire whisk



Lemon Curd:

With the rasp, grate the yellow part of the rind from 2 lemons into a small saucepan. The white part of the rind is bitter so avoid grating into it.

Next, cut the lemons in half. Using the citrus juicer squeeze out enough juice to measure 1/4 cup. Remove any pits before adding the juice to the saucepan.

Stir in 5 tablespoons sugar and a pinch of salt.

Next separate 3 egg yolks from their whites. The egg separator gadget makes this very easy. I prefer to do this one egg at time into a small bowl, because I want to remove those squiggly white things that are attached to the yolks. Add the yolks  to the juice mixture.

Finally, add 4 tablespoons of butter to the saucepan. Place the saucepan over a low heat and use the whisk to stir constantly until the mixture thickens, about 12 minutes. Pour the mixture into a glass container. Allow to cool to room temperature before storing in the fridge.

This recipe makes about one cup of tangy lemon curd and will keep nicely for two weeks in the fridge. That is, if there is any left!