Thursday, December 19, 2013

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from New York and a very Happy Christmas to you all.

Perhaps some of you all remember my photograph of a little  cyclamen plant that I bought in hopes that it would inspire my Christmas tea cup cards this year.

Each of these watercolor cards is painted individually, so that although somewhat alike, each one is different.  Just like flowers, themselves!  I do the paintings on Arches watercolor paper and manage to fit four on each sheet of a block of this paper.

The weeks since I returned from my U.K. holiday have been filled with multi-task juggling.  I am still so happy to have gotten my FoakleyArts shop up and running at Etsy, but also very glad to have been able to fit in visits with New York friends, Christmas gift shopping and shipping and painting the tea cups.

Today I commenced cookie baking, an intriguing project given the minuscule dimensions of my kitchen.  New York City kitchens are small.  Mine is very small.  I have a sturdy butcher block table in my little living room.  Surrounding this table is a wooden shelving system made many years ago for me by my late father.  This duo serves me well in general food preparations, but  baking requires me to rearrange many items that the butcher block table normally holds.

It's an adventure!  An adventure that is best begun when I've got plenty of time and patience.

I thought you might be amused to see some of the cookie baking process.  (I mixed up the basic brown sugar, butter, vanilla, egg, cream and flour dough early this morning.  It's been chilling in the fridge for hours.) 

I like using star-shaped cutters for these cookies, and add green or red sanding sugar to the cut out starts before they are baked ... for about 9 minutes.  You may have spotted the Glenmorangie, but do not think that any sipping of the malt accompanied the baking.  No indeed.  This project requires a clear head.

This tin of cookies is  now ready for the oven.

Here's the first batch of red stars cooling on a paper towel.  This occurs on a sliver of kitchen counter next to my sink.

I assure you that I did nibble a couple of the stars just to make sure that they did taste all right.  They did.

As I write this post I am also alternating my laptop activity with additional tins of cookie baking.  Multi-tasking.  The sun is beginning to set.

The following photo shows you all a bit of the complex storage maneuvers that take place on the shelves above the butcher block.

On the lower shelf, you will see a pretty blue enameled multi-purpose jug.  In one of the first pictures you'll perhaps see a pale rose enamel vessel.  These two very welcome additions to my kitchen equipment arrived yesterday...from Amsterdam.  They are part of a collection of Riess enamel ware that I was very fortunate to win an a giveaway from Yvonne Eijkenduijn, who writes the delightful yvestown blog.  Yvonne is also the creator of the 2014 Mollie Makes calendar, which will soon be pinned to my kitchen wall, replacing the 2013 MM calendar.

I promise you all that I will find a place to keep these lovely prizes and look forward to making great use of them.  The porridge pan will be perfect for my morning oatmeal!  I am very grateful to Yvonne and feel as if Santa has already arrived in my home.

Many thanks also to all of you who've been visiting my posts.  I love getting comments from our world wide community.  My hope is to create another post before Christmas.  Meanwhile, best wishes to all for a wonderful Christmas time...even if you are also practicing multi-tasking!


  1. What a nice still life those kitchen items make!
    The cookies look wonderful too.

  2. Your kitchen sounds very cosy and full of lovely things. We had some very similar star shape Christmas biscuits during the interval at a wonderful concert at Trinity College last weekend. They had been specially baked by the delightful academic who had organised the event.
    A very Cambridge evening! xx

  3. What a lovely glimpse at your kitchen shelves and lovely cookies too! Have a wonderful Christmas Frances... the cards you have painted are perfect.

  4. The enamelware was meant for you - it looks to have always been in your kitchen. for the Glenmorangie, another thing we have in common, Frances. I'd never have suspected :) I think it would help the baking process - a sip and a DVD of beautiful music and I could bake all day.

  5. The enamelware was meant for you - it looks to have always been in your kitchen. for the Glenmorangie, another thing we have in common, Frances. I'd never have suspected :) I think it would help the baking process - a sip and a DVD of beautiful music and I could bake all day.

  6. Hi Frances,
    Those are lovely Christmas cards you have made - beautiful and personal. Your baking venture looks successful and your little kitchen counter and shelves are charming - filled with treasures.
    xoxo Ingrid

  7. Your cyclamen cups are so delicate and pretty – tea would taste delicious in them. Your cookies would go well with a sip of tea. Enjoy your time in your tiny kitchen.

  8. Christmas have arrived with the appearance of the hand painted tea cups! You are way more organised than me, never been so far behind with Christmas.
    I hope you save a star cookie for Santa. have a wonderful Christmas Frances. xxx

  9. Dear Frances,

    I enjoyed the glimpse into your kitchen :-) I like your storage area! You have some beautiful vintage items on display.

    The cookies look delicious!

    Wishing you a Happy Christmas! Have fun!

    Madelief x

  10. Frances... The hand painted cards are divine. What a treat for those on your Christmas card list! The enamelware looks perfectly at home. What a treat for you to receive! The cookies look yummy. Have been doing a bit of baking here, too. Chocolate Chess Squares and a batch of lemon ones, too, for our local Art's Council current show and Christmas festivities. Sending you lots of good wishes for a lovely Christmas from down South! Susan

  11. Heavens it's been busy at your workshop!
    I feel very idle but will tackle cookies today.
    Buster's 5th birthday today so must off to the dog run.

    Your card has been much admired and has pride of place on the wall!

    Much love

  12. It seems that everything you do is a work of art. Again, you have demonstrated this to us — from cards to cookies. And I am guessing that the Glenmorangie is for the cookie dough. But Bears don't know much about Glenmorangie, so I could be completely wrong.

    I hope you have a wonderful Christmas. Blessings and Bear hugs!

  13. Your kitchen may be small but it is delightful, just like its owner.

    I bet those cookies are delicious.

  14. Merry Christmas Frances. I have a little yellow reiss saucepan that I use for porridge and a pot of white cyclamen newly given to me as a present, so two reasons to be reminded of my New York correspondent.

  15. Your teac cup cards are lovely, and the cookies look very enticing. I haven't done much baking yet - it's kind of a last minute thing around here. If I start too early, it's all eaten up by the day, and I have to start over! Have a wonderful Christmas. xoxo

  16. Beautiful tea cups card designs, and I enjoyed seeing your cosy kitchen and your delicious cookies! Wishing you a very Happy Christmas, Frances.
    Helen x

  17. The teacups are beautiful, as is the new enamel ware. And the cookies made my mouth water!

    Merry and Happy Holidays, Frances!I love all the things you are creating.

  18. Happy xmas! I heard that its a warm xmas in NY? I love NY in this time, i hope i can vist NY in this time of year once....lovely greetings

  19. Merry Christmas Frances! Lovely paintings - that is a lot of work for Christmas cards and a heartfelt gift for the fortunate recipients.
    A small kitchen forces one to be a bit organized and choosy too. I see the egg cups on the dresser from your painting - very pretty.
    Wishing you all good things for Christmas and the New Year,xo

  20. Those will be very lucky recipients of your cards AND your cookies. I enjoyed the fantastic "window dressing" in the post beneath this one. Have a wonderful Christmas, Frances!

  21. I did enjoy that glimpse of your very busy and productive life. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas dear Frances. Xx

  22. After all your busy days make sure you have a relaxing break. Frances sending you my very best wishes for a Happy Christmas. Millyx

  23. Your kitchen seems full of lovely things. Such a poignant post and beautiful photos to accompany it. Nice :)

  24. I do hope you had the most wonderful Christmas Frances, and am sending you many good wishes for the new year ahead.

    And thank you for all the sweet comments you leave for me at knitsofacto, your constant encouragement in my bloggy endeavours is very much appreciated x