Tuesday, June 30, 2015


It is just days away from our nation's July 4th celebration. I thought taking you on a tour of the Betsy Ross house with John and I would be a fun patriotic thing to share. Betsy Ross is my all time favorite woman in American history. Learning about Betsy's tenacity and resolve to overcome challenging personal struggles that were downright tragic at times truly has been inspirational. Betsy's persistence to overcome against all odds as far as I am concerned is nothing short of remarkable.

Betsy Ross designed our American flag in 1776 during the Revolutionary War. The original Stars and Stripes displayed 13 five pointed stars for the 13 original colonies. On June 14th, 1777 (Flag Day) congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as our official national flag.

Betsy Ross lived and worked here from 1776-1779. Betsy boarded with the elderly widow Lithgrow.

The banner marks Betsy Griscom Ross Ashbourn Claypoole's grave. She originally was buried at a Quaker cemetery at 5th and South Locust Street in Philadelphia. Then moved to her second gravesite at Mount Moriah. It was decided when the house was restored to move her body 10 miles to be buried with her third husband John Claypoole.

Just saying that's a lot of moving when you are supposed to be resting in peace!

The house is open daily from 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM. It is a self guided tour and photos may be taken but without using your flash. I tried my best taking photos.

Inside the courtyard stands this statue/fountain with cats. It was commissioned after the houses restoration. 

That evening after we toured the house, I researched (googled) Betsy Ross and found no historical record that she was especially fond of cats. But for us feline lovers this is a gorgeous statue/fountain and yes I petted the statue cats. During visiting hours the fountain is shut off for safety reasons with small children.

Along the exterior brick wall entering the house are 3 mounted brass plaques to read on your self guided tour. Please enlarge these photos and read about this remarkable woman. Certainly heart tugging but indeed inspirational.

Can you imagine being 1 of 17 kids. I am the middle child of 3.

Like I said against all odds she triumphed.

Betsy Ross's chambers.

You have to wonder how supportive and comfortable a stretched canvas tied with ropes to a wood frame could of been.

Closet corner of Betsy's chambers.

Her fireplace and bed warmer. 

Another boarders bedroom. When John and I were walking around a young Mother was touring with her son, I'd guess around 7 years old. Spotting the chamber pot on the floor he quickly said "Look Mommy that bowl is for a dog". .. Mom said "no sweetie that's their chamber pot, there's no bathroom inside." To which we heard "eww" followed by a yuck!

Other side of room

A sitting room, with tile fireplace surround.

Next we go downstairs to the basement

Kitchen fireplace

A kitchen hutch

The table set.

Want to meet Betsy? I said to the Betsy actor, Betsy turn around so I can take your picture to put on my blog, smile pretty!

She turned around looked at me, looked at my iPhone with the Rabbit ear case and I said to her my usual reply for fun - I get better reception with the Rabbit ears! That's when I snapped the photo and the half smile she gave me. Then she spoke these words to me "I do not understand this thing you speak of - this blog". Of course I laughed, Betsy the actor plays her role very well.

Photo to show the hundreds of years of wear to the step, not to show you John's sneakers!

As we go to exit our tour John checks his phone. Wonder what Betsy would say!
Thanks for taking the tour with us and we wish you a very enjoyable July 4th celebration. I leave you with my poem I wrote for this post over last weekend. It is an emotional share. 

My Dad sailed through New York's harbor from Poland in 1926 with my Grandmother when he was only Three.
He was processed through Ellis Island like all immigrants, although Dad stood not much higher than the inspector's knee.

Immigrants coming to America saw the Statue de Liberté as an universal symbol of hope and democracy and felt pride.
Immigrants hoping for an opportunity from 1892-1954 Lady Liberty served as their welcome and gold torch freedom guide.

Dad would tell us stories about carrying his "piss pot" (chamber pot) with him in long lines at Ellis Island, funny but true...
Telling us of a long ships journey sailing across the bubbling whitecaps deep water of the Atlantic Oceans Blue.

For over 60 years Ellis Island served as a gateway to citizenship for 12 million people passing through its open door.
As a young man my Dad served our country in the Armies military heavy artillery division in the Second World War.

Dad returning home from WW II married my Mom, his childhood love after many long years had gone by.
Raised 2 sons and I to be patriotic and even now when the Star-Spangled Banner is sung a tear forms in my eye.

So on July 4th proudly wave and display our American flag and remember our history in adoption of the Declaration of Independence.
I know as I watch a fireworks display I will recall our nations legacy and honor all those who were part of our country's transcendence.

© Vera

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A Tuscan meal and the first part of my Kitchen reveal

Today I invite you into my kitchen to not only reveal our updates but also to share in a meal.
They say visual presentation is the first taste sensation to the palate and hopefully how you feel.

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well."
~Virginia Woolf~

But of course no meal invite planned and made with love should ever meet without a pretty arranged floral bouquet...
I hope you find amusement in my photo essay and take away some fondness of my attempt to engage you in culinary play.

"Happiness held is the seed; happiness shared is the flower."
~William Feather~

"If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change."

(Crepe filled with asparagus rolled in a garlic herb cheese sauce and served with Ruffino Posecco)

My dreams imagine life in a hill town in Tuscany as the region is shaped on the map like an abstract heart,
A crepe appetizer of late Spring called "Crespelle agli Asparagi" is first course and where our meal will start.

"People who love to eat are always the best people."
~Julia Child~

For me it's not the kitchen that ever takes center stage, it's all about the theatre in preparing a meal.
Ingredients enhanced by herbs and spices layering favors in taste and how eating it makes you feel.

It becomes a symphony of rhythmic sounds while the hand gracefully flies during chopping and slicing...
Or during the sheer bliss of a spatula in hand forming soft peaks in a homemade cake that you are icing.

A quote from Elizabeth Edwards I proudly display which has become my motto in life.

I took a photo of a photo from a Italian Regional cookbook, I have always loved this picture of Tuscany.

(mixed baby greens with roasted golden beets, chopped plum tomatoes and shaved Reggiano Parmigano ... tossed lightly in a lemon, pepper and extra virgin olive oil dressing)

Tuscan recipes are classic simplicity ... evoking a world defined by poets and artisans, no elaborate sauces or gravies to enhance or disguise the food.
Just a rustic clarity of a simple harvest with very few ingredients to transform a meal in appearance and ultimately set an enjoyable culinary mood.

I find irresistible charm in setting a table to welcome my guests and highlight a special meal to express my culinary intention.
I carefully plan the menu, fresh seasonal ingredients are foremost but cutlery, dishes and glasses never meet with in attention.

The planning and preparation is truly when the kitchen for me enchantingly transforms into the heart of our home.
I delight in dining out to experience ethnic tastes- but even then my mind races back home where my creativity loves to roam.

I enjoy reflections that catch you by surprise during your hurried day,
they bring unexpected beauty into your mind's eye as you pass by the way.

I try to prepare food daily that not only nurtures but also feeds our soul...
steeped in ethnic traditions of family pride, oftentimes simply served in a bowl.

(Tuscan Shrimp with White cannelloni beans, sun dried tomatoes in a garlicky cream sauce with herbs over Lemon Pepper Parradelle pasta. Rosé Domaine La Rabiotte wine from Provence)

"Age and glasses of wine should never be counted."

Be it decaffeinated or regular please enjoy a cup of Cappuccino and a Biscotti cookie before we say goodbye and I wish you a good day.
I truly appreciate your visit and invite you back again soon, so we can once again have fun and play, please say that will be perfectly okay.

I thank you for joining me today in part 1 of our kitchen update reveal, as our beams are lime waxed and finished in our garage and await scheduling with Nic for their installation. To say we are excited is an understatement as we hope it will be soon. Part 2 will complete my Kitchen post reveal with many more photos.

Appreciation of food has been such an important part of my life and although I don't like the word "foodie" in some ways I just may be. All the recipes featured have been adapted by me and if you want any of my Tuscan recipes please ask in your comments and I will provide them. I do not consider myself a food or wine snob/expert just an apprentice in appreciation of taste and a student in living a good life.


"So how was the cruise Dad?" "OMG ... the deserts were the best!"
~ my brother Kevin and my Dad Mike ~

"You don't have to finish dinner... save room for dessert, it's really good!"
~ My Dad's advice to EVERYONE ~

"So remember be it Savory or Sweet, food is a blessing in life and should be enjoyed as an appreciated treat."

~ me - Vera ~