February 26, 2014

Chinese candles........A Public Service Announcement

The setting is my friend Marsha Reinecke's historic home in Geneva, Illinois

It is Valentine's evening
Marsha and Mark were celebrating the occasion at their home with another couple.
 Dinner had concluded, the men retired to the parlor and the women cleared the plates to the kitchen. Within moments, actually a mere minute or two, the men smelled smoke and looked back into the dining room to see flames on the center of the table, nearly lapping the base of the chandelier
The fortunate result is the water goblets had not been removed and were fairly full. Marsha believes that if they had gone back into the kitchen to gather water, the fire would have been out of control.
Below was a wooden floor
Adjacent was this grand wooden staircase. Actually, this old house is all wood
         The dining room table had a pad, topped by a tablecloth and here is the damage in minutes, notice how wide it spread.
What was the culprit?
An inexpensive taper and it's spark. You see, what has since been discovered is that the cost friendly tapers were made in China. The wick contained metal shavings, they all do.
Right,  metal + fire = sparks.
I know, I am still reeling with this new found knowledge. The demand for dripless candles and lax codes from China are a threat
My go to candle company is Creative Candles manufactured in the US, Kansas City, Mo.
Battery candles; the tapers are ever improving. Come Fall, the new introductions will surprise you

My go to is the battery pillar candle. Have you seen these, with the "dancing" flame? 
We constantly re-order this staple for the shop. 
Relaying this story to my family, they did not realize the candles scattered everywhere, for Christmas, were faux.
When hostessing, I cannot be bothered worrying about candles, but if they are contained,
made in the USA or faux, I too can enjoy my guests, attractively.

I truly consider this my most important post and I urge you to pass this message on. That is what friends do, we look out for each other. Thank you for this warning Marsha

As an aside, Mark Reineke, Phd, wrote this book, available here .  In concise, laymen terms, he guides us, brilliantly. Leave a comment, would love to send a copy to one lucky reader

PS; Thank you for all the wishes for a speedy recovery, I am half way in, only 3 more weeks. Won't be dancing, but shuffling sounds really good about now!

February 12, 2014

The Dangers of Blogging.....and AGA stoves

No, this is not an amputation, there is a foot and ankle under this massive wad.  Additionally it could be a symbol for the massively clumsy. Nearly three years ago I ran outside, camera at the ready. The hunt was riding through our property, unusual. It was the perfect autumn day and the sight and sounds sealed the romantic visions prancing through my head of a perfectly seasonal blog post

Anticipating the ideal photo, I told myself, "wait, hold still, back up..............", my head was not engaged. My heel went down off a step, toes went straight up...... S N A P.

Well, I did, until I no longer could. Torn tendons repaired, resultant dead bone removed, I am good to go, in another 5 weeks. But life is good, computer work, reading, Netflix and accomplishing two of many goals, to learn photoshop and blog more often, stay tuned.....
What on earth does this have to do with stoves? If you look closely, you can see mine in the above image, an AGA, and my resultant love affair with a stove/oven. If Bunny Williams can have 'A Love Affair with a House', I can do so with an appliance

A British import, this is the heart of our kitchen. Can you detect the lack of controls? What?! Yes, it is always on. That is correct, the entire appliance is entirely ON or OFF, no in between. However, it is well insulated cast iron and extremely efficient to operate.
The four doors on the front are; baking, roasting, slow cooking and warming. It is easy and speedy
Want to cook on top of the stove, lift the lid. One is for boiling and the other for medium heat cooking. Set the pot slightly off the hot pad and you can lower the heat

It's a toaster!
It is a sweater dryer!
A foot warmer!
A pooch warmer!
I can get lost in these London shops for hours with all the accessories and cook books available. The British call these appliances a "cooker"

AGA's have their own blog, "Lady AGA", with riveting stories  :-)

And of course a magazine. This is a manic obsession of ridiculous proportions. I can hear my friend Mary now, "Oh AGA schmaga"
You will always need a pipe that draws the smells outdoors. Odors from fish or say cabbage will never linger. Conversely, I need to set a timer or I can forget something is in the oven.
One of the better attributes is that mine gets turned off for summer necessitating grilling or reservations
I can see them in a contemporary or old world kitchen
Back to ours. Teddy the cat, lives here all winter.
My husband made the wood surround from old barn wood to replicate a mantle I was fond of
This piece in the center is a wooden ram key stone from a demolished pub in England dated 16thc
The shops uber talented Stephanie Fania painted this scene as a back drop. An image of a painting scheduled for auction was found in an antiques magazine. Stephanie duplicated with some requested tweaks. Painted on Melamine board, it can be removed if needed, and easily cleaned.

Firmly believe she had a touch of fun with this........can you spot the sheep with intentions other than grazing?

It's a long winter, stay warm


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