Izza Pizza!

Sometimes only pizza will do, right? 
I have very few memories of my father in the kitchen.  I recall his making pancakes once or twice, but the main cooking memory I have of him is the occasional Sunday night when he would make pizza.  From the Chef Boyardee box mix.  Still, when my brother and I were kids, it seemed like a big deal—Dad cooking, making pizza!  Growing up in the South in the 1960s, pizza was still kind of exotic.  The only pizza restaurants were “on the Strip” near the university campus.  Today, the franchised pizza kings offer deals on every corner–carry-out, delivery, or eat-in.  The pizza dons will throw in breadsticks, soft drinks, and even cookies as part of the bargain.  And if the franchise pizza makers leave you cold (and greasy), then perhaps you have a local pizzeria that creates more authentic (and tastier) pies.  We have a couple of terrific pizza options in our neighborhood, but when we’re feeding Big, Middle, and Little, a few pies add up to a lot of dough!    The thrifty solution, of course, is the T&C Mom’s Kitchen Sink Pizza.IMG_3901
Crust is key.  If you have the time, a true homemade crust is easy enough to make.  Ready-made crusts are also available at the grocery store, and these are not bad if you are really in a time crunch.  To my mind, though, convenience and taste combine to make a great crust when you purchase dough from your local grocery’s bakery.   
Once the dough is rolled out and lightly coated with olive oil and cornmeal, it’s time to add the toppings.  Emptying the cheese drawer yielded this delicious four cheese pizza, topped with mozzarella, cheddar, feta, and parmesan.  We then sprinkled the pizza with salt and pepper and a very light drizzling of olive oil.  Other herbs, either dried or fresh, would make a wonderful addition, too.
IMG_3900 The true Kitchen Sink pizza was rubbed with chopped garlic and then topped with fresh spinach, leftover grilled chicken, sundried tomatoes, sliced artichoke hearts, feta cheese, parmesan cheese, and onion.  (Olives and peppers, bacon, really almost anything can be added to this pizza.)  Again a light drizzle of olive oil and a shake of salt and pepper finished the pie.IMG_3904
Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned and the cheese is melted.  Serve with a salad of spring greens and toss those pizza coupons in the recycle bin.
What’s your favorite pizza?

Grand Old Flag

Well, I’m back.  First, of all, please know how grateful I am for your kind comments, notes, and calls about our sweet Marian.  I do believe she will live in my heart forever.  And I have to smile as I think that she is probably not that disappointed about missing such a hot summer.  It’s hard to say which she disliked most the heat or the indignity of her annual short haircut!
Summer is upon us with record high temperatures in the Carolinas as well as much of the rest of the country.  It’s not all bad, though.  I stopped at my first lemonade stand this week, and we have been feasting on watermelon and blueberries, too.
Tomorrow, of course, is Flag Day, here in the United States, and I hope you’ll display the colors in your neighborhood.  Patriotism and symbolism notwithstanding, the American flag is a terrific example of graphic design, so  I thought it might be fun to take a look at how some folks decorate with the flag in their interiors year round.times-union-pott-barnHere a flag painting on board serves as the inspiration for a Pottery Barn layout.bright-idea-flag-decor-paul-costelloI really like the tartan chair juxtaposed with all the red, white, and blue.  I’m curious, though, as to what the homemade arrow sign is all about.  Thoughts?from tartanscotHere Old Glory seems to be showing her age a bit in tea-washed pillows.  I really like this room, but that wrinkled dhurrie rug would drive me nuts.flag 3 The 36-star flag was only in use from 1865-1867, so if this flag is authentic it is quite old, rare, and valuable.  It looks to be in terrific shape.flag image
The thirteen-star flag was in use from 1777 until 1795.  Almost certainly the flag in this photograph is a reproduction.  What a great cabin room!tropical chic flag decorflag_bedroom_l And, of course, the American flag is oft associated with crisp nautical design.  Here the striped quilt and large gingham valance echo the flag’s graphic elements perfectly.
Middle has a 48-star flag hanging over his headboard.  I would have loved to have posted a picture of it, but my photo stylist (that would be me) simply lacked the energy to make his room photo ready.  I also have some needlepoint flag pillows that I scatter around the family room this time of year. stars and stripes
And I always pull out Deborah Harding’s book and put it on the blanket chest, which serves as our coffee table.  The book adds both color and inspiration.  It’s also a wonderful resource if you’re antiquing or looking for a piece of patriotic folk art for your house.  
Do you decorate with the Stars and Stripes?

Good Dog

A little more than five years ago, the Mister came home beaming.   “We found a dog today!” 
I’m ashamed to admit that I was reluctant to be a dog owner again.  Dogs break my heart.  But four sets of eyes looked at me pleadingly, and the next thing I knew I was standing in the careworn lobby of Animal Control.  We walked through the rows of kennels, and with each step I willed myself not to fall in love, to be kind but firm.  This was a dog for the children.  Finally, we stopped at the kennel of a staggeringly thin collie, and the attendant opened the door. The dog slowly walked out to the tiny yard, so that we could get acquainted.  She seemed reserved.  And kind of old.  And, of course, she had all the usual problems of a dog that’s been living on the street.    Again four sets of pleading eyes bore into me, and I agreed.  We put our name on the list and went home to wait the required 10 days.  She appeared to be a purebred collie, and I thought perhaps she might be claimed.christmas morning Joe and Louisa 038Ten days later, we got the call.  In a couple of days we could pick her up after the required vet visit.  She was in sad shape and clearly would need a lot of attention and love.  I--of the steely resolve to merely care for the dog but not fully love her--met briefly with the doctor who told me he wasn’t able to spay her as she was still producing milk.  “Poor thing’s lost a litter of pups somewhere.”  And, then, of course, all bets were off.
She was fed good food and gained 20 pounds in about a month.  I brushed her daily.  She was walked regularly.  She learned to play Frisbee, and what a sight to see her bounding across the green lawn.   Her manners were impeccable.  And wherever we went, which was a lot of places, people said, “Oh, what a beautiful dog.”   IMG_1084
I don’t know why, but she loved me best right from the start.  One of her most endearing traits to me was that no matter where she was sitting or who was petting her, when I came into the room, she would watch to see where I sat, then come to be at my feet. 
She began to decline last summer.  Increasingly, she struggled to get up and down.  Collies are a stoic breed, but the medicine no longer seemed to be enough.  She lost her appetite.  Several weeks ago, we noticed that her tail wasn’t wagging, and she barely took notice of our comings and goings, although she still made her way to my side each night.
She was terrified of thunderstorms, and in years past the Mister and I spent many summer nights calming her.  Only a few days ago, thunder shook the house, and she didn’t even wake.   A day or two later, the Mister made the call.
The Mister and Middle took Marian to the park this morning while it was still cool.  She was able to walk a little way before flopping down beneath a tree.  Our kind vet met them there and administered the injection.  The Mister said she didn’t even flinch.   IMG_3793
We buried her body on her favorite dog bed near the creek behind our house, which is where she loved to explore when she was still spry.  I loved looking down from the deck and seeing her white ruff amid all the green of the leaves and brush.  This fall, we’ll plant a dogwood tree there to remember her.IMG_1902
[She] possessed Beauty without Vanity,
Strength without Insolence,
Courage without Ferocity,
and all the virtues of Man without his Vices.  
                      --John Cam Hobhouse
My dear old dog, most constant of all friends.
                    --William Croswell Doane
  For the soul of every living thing is in the hand of God.
                     --Job 12:10

Good dog, Marian.  Stay.

Mental Health Day

The month of May seems to have overtaken December as the busiest month of the year!  School projects, recitals, awards ceremonies, field days, and more filled the calendar.  The Mister and I felt a bit like we were playing that old Whack-a-Mole game—we’d attend, say, a Boy Scout Court of Honor and by the time we were home and pulling off our shoes another event had popped up.  This T&C Mom needed some time to herself before school was out for the summer, so I took a day off to do a little exploring.

IMG_3923First stop was Roots, a garden store that opened just around the corner from us.

IMG_3924 I strolled through their new courtyard, sipping coffee and admiring their bedding plants.IMG_3925 I was really inspired by their welcoming container plantings for sun.IMG_3926And, I thought this was pretty for shade, although I wouldn’t do quite as many different kinds of plants.  Some friends and I are planning to attend one of Roots “Wine & Design” workshops.  If we can ever get together on a date, I will definitely post about it.

IMG_3928Next on my list of places to explore was an interesting-looking shop called Shinola.  IMG_3932If you are imaginative—as I am, then you are sure that there are great antiques hidden in this sprawling, dark, and chaotic storehouse. IMG_3934If you are optimistic—as I am, then you are sure that the Queen Anne armchair you saw precariously perched atop two desks and a folded Persian carpet is probably 19th century.


And, if you are practical—as I am, then you will return wearing closed-toed shoes and old jeans—not sandals and capris—because this place is really, seriously dirty, and you’ve got to be dressed for the hunt.

I can’t wait.

Do you like to “dig through,” or are you a showroom shopper?  Perhaps a little of both?

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