Saturday, March 8, 2014

HomeFront Inspiration

Hello Friends of The Net Loft,

I greet you from the land of the showroom.  I have been in the gift showrooms purchasing for the next wave of Net Loft Treasures.  As I was thumbing through mountains of cookbooks making decisions, I had this realization.

I don't always always love to cook...
     but I always love cookbooks.

True confession...I like to cook, but sometimes I am tired of cooking.  It can become a responsibility needing to be fulfilled in the life and provision of our household, but sometimes I just feel uninspired.  I can look on the internet for recipes, but there is something about the cookbook itself that begins to rekindle my love for the kitchen.  

Cookbooks, like knitting books, provide for me an impetus, 
an inspiration in those doldrum kitchen days. 

I found myself asking myself this question. What is it that I love so much about cookbooks?   

Deep down, as much as I try to keep up with the times,  I am old fashioned.  I love taking the books off the shelf, thumbing through the pages, some very old from my grandmother's collection (often with recipes in her handwriting written into the back pages of the book), and some more recent purchases, fresh and clean and crisp. The settings and photography  display a visual aesthetic that teaches and guides me to something better, and to take the time to set the table in a special way, even if it is an ordinary day.  

SO... this is what I have concluded...
A cookbook is more than a recipe. 

As I comb through my books and come to the greasy spots  on certain pages,  I am reminded of certain memories that have surrounded many of those meals.  Often I date and put in notes, like a journal in time and life's basic ingredients.  Some go way way back, and  some books even  fall open immediately to a favored kitchen friend, a recipe used so many times that the binding has been permanently  set to open to that page. 

You know, I was thinking, it is sort of like a handwritten letter, the paper of it I mean.  The tangible touchable writeonable (if that is a word) personal interaction that takes place with the paper and book of it.   Like those notes in my grandmother's favorite Boston Cookbook, where I can touch her handwriting and think about that part of herself I still get to interact with.  

It encourages me to write in my books as well so those that come after will carry on my recipes and traditions to the next generation.  They will get a little glimpse of life in this current age by reading my little notes and comments.  This is totally a sideline from just needing a nudge to get dinner on the table, but something to think about nonetheless.

In this transition of the seasons, when perhaps we need an extra boost to keep at task, cookbooks and a fresh tablecloth, can be uplifting to those who we are responsible for, for family health via the food we serve.

I like to think that it is not just good physical health we are dishing out, it is about the parts we want to nurture in other ways, as well.  We are creating an environment for family fellowship, even if it is just like for me now, only my husband and I.  

Sometimes in looking at a cookbook, I say to myself, "I could do that". or at least give it a try.  
"I can try cooking THAT"...

Now, maybe it won't look exactly like the picture when I get finished, but it will be my version and interpretation, and EVEN if I don't end up actually making it for dinner, the thought of it was inspiring enough.   

Sometimes it is just...
 "I can put candles on the table tonight" 
"I can make the table pretty"

Even THIS can be difficult with so much life happening at our kitchen table and so much to clear off to even begin to think about a visual aesthetic, but I believe it is an unspoken  form of communication we can use, when inspired to do so, and it also inspires me to cook a nice dinner.  As I say so many times, it can be just a little something we do that can make a big difference in an underlying way for ALL of us. For my own sake sometimes, it uplifts my own mental state.

In all of this, for me,  looking at the books is my kickstart when my creative homelife energy is waning.

On a sidenote, I have also been looking at housewares while on my buying trip, and I was thinking the same thing about special kitchen implements. I happen to see this quite lovely little mixing bowl. 

Now, lovely little mixing bowls are treats for the chef.  Those that eat from the kitchen will not see this bowl, as it will be washed and in the dish drainer, but there is something that makes me smile very big when I think about cooking with  lovely little bowls and nice measuring cups, and colorful spatulas, and such.  They just make me happy, and help me over those times when I HAVE to be in the kitchen and I just don't feel like it.  (Pretty dishtowels and potholders, too)   SO, now you know why I have what I have in The Net Loft!   Inspiration and uplifting encouragement for all the weary chefs who, like me, like to eat, but don't always feel like cooking.  I need all the help I can get!  

Now serving dishes are a whole other story, but today, it is all about the cookbook, and just to give you an extra nudge, we are offering a special on cookbooks for the rest of the month.

ALL COOKBOOKS 25% OFF  through March.  I have never had a sale like this before, but just decided it would be a great way to help you pick up some inspiration to get you through before spring fever hits, and a great way to pick up  a little inspiration to keep you going.

Thanks for listening...
Here's to a touch of HomeFront Inspiration and 
Happy Times around the Kitchen Table
Net Loft Dotty

Friday, February 14, 2014

Heartfelt Friends

When I first discovered this photo in a box of photographs belonging to my mother in law, another Dorothy, all I could think of was that these ladies took their Valentine parties VERY seriously.  White gloves and party dresses, satin hearts and corsages.  These ladies were coming together for a Valentine gathering and they are just now preparing to walk in, sit down and gather round for a special time together amongst friends. I wish I could be there at that moment and hear their voices, hear the rustle of the crisp dresses, smell the fragrance of the flowers.   I can imagine they  might even have served those little stacked  sandwiches precut in small rectangles and triangles  with the crusts cut off as an appetizer.    They look so serious.  I am sure they wanted everything to be just so.  

Dorothy Widmann ( the second from the left with the brown hair and glasses)  had a dear smile, and lived a seemingly simple life.  And yet she was not idle. Her  fruit salad  consisted of hand peeled grapes and  grapefruit and orange sections with every bit of membrane carefully removed.  Her well attended violets, full of beautiful blossoms, filled the antique tables set alongside  the windows in her spare room. Boiled icings covered her cakes, and hand written cards and letters were regularly send to loved ones.  Her hand crocheted wool granny square afghan has grown to be my favorite . . . a LEGACY of the time and care she put into the components of her home.  I think about this concept sometimes as I am making things.  All those moments her hands actively worked towards bringing this blanket to life, are still generating warmth even though her hands have  been at rest for over 20 years.  

I think about friendships and the time and care and the get togethers.  It is the "stuff" that adds to the richness of life.  I think that once these women sat down, the smiles emerged.  Everything was just SO and at that point they could just BE TOGETHER with friends all dressed up TOGETHER.  They could love each other's dresses, appreciate the beauty of the flowers in their corsages, and probably most of all, enjoy that indescribable warmth of fellowship that close friendship brings.

There are times at the shop when friends are gathered around the table and in the room knitting, and the needles are humming along, and there is this  low chatter.   It is the music of friends sharing thoughts and ideas, stories of the inevitable ups and downs of life, conversations broken with laughter and sometimes moments of silence.  I treasure these times.  

For these ladies,  Valentines Day was just a good enough reason to take time to dress up and celebrate the friends they valued and cared for, and just have fun... And  this Valentines Day, though the days of gatherings with long white gloves are past,  I am smiling, thanks to this dear picture, with loving memories of the original Dot Widmann, and  thinking of her as I am warm and cozy beneath her hand stitched afghan.   
All in favor of hand made legacies, raise your right hand (and needles) and say "AYE!"

Happy Valentines Day, my friends.  Thinking of you wherever you may be.
love and red satin hearts and a big corsage
Net Loft Dotty