The Stuff in My Office—5
Yep, I’ve got even more stuff to tell you about now that our short pause is over. The four pictures in this blog are of the wall length bookshelves opposite the corner where my desk sits (desk stuff in a later installment). There are six shelves (I couldn’t fit the top self into the camera frame, each roughly 10 feet in length and completely filled with paperback romance novels (and yes, those novels absolutely get included on the list of stuff I like that makes me happy). I won’t describe any of the books, but I will mention some of the other items.
In the foreground of the picture at the left you can see a couple of the items I discussed in the 4th installment of this series. You can also see part of the floor lamp that stands between the table (see installment 4) and my reading chair (also installment 4). I love that shade because it turns this lovely glowing gold color when the bulb is on, and it gives terrific light for reading.
Moving on to the next picture (below right) you see the rest of the lamp. The small needlework pillow peeking out from behind the lamp is another gift from my mother in law. That pillow was sitting on her royal blue sofa in her living room the first time my sweetheart brought me to their home for dinner and to meet his folks. I was scared spitless because I knew about her upper crust Boston background. Mom was everything that is gracious. Nonetheless it took me several years to get over being intimidated, mostly because of my personal fears. I like to think that we now have a very friendly relationship. She certainly remembered that first visit, because one of the few things I managed to say was how lovely the pillow was. Who wouldn’t like a pillow with irises (Mom used to grow award winning Iris blooms) in varying shades of blue, including cobalt. On the shelf above the pillow are four framed covers from my books. Below those is yet another gift from my mother in law. This gift is more recent (just this past Christmas), yet I treasure it almost as much as the pillow. The seascape set into the tray is one of my favorites, and since I love the sea (add that to the list too) I keep the tray where I can see it.
The third picture (at left) shows the entire tray, and above that the remaining four covers from my books. If you look closely you can see a small two-tone brown box at the end of one of the shelves. That is a recipe box that my own mother gave me. It holds my grandmother’s recipes for Swedish coffee bread, dream cookies, and depression era frosting (made with flour, milk, butter and granulated sugar). The confectioner’s type of sugar that is usually used in frostings was nearly impossible to get during the depression, so flour was substituted. Even granulated sugar was expensive, so frosting on cakes was a real treat. The Dream Cookies are another depression era recipe, requiring only flour, granulated sugar and butter. Preparing Dream Cookies requires careful attention because the butter must be melted and browned to a point just shy of burning. The caramelized bits in the melted butter create the delicate flavor of these cookies. Once baked they have a very crumbly texture. My grandmother called them dream cookies because they practically melt in your mouth and disappear so fast that you feel as if you imagined eating them. Dream Cookies (along with homemade pecan sandies) are my favorite cookies, so they go on the list too. I’ve made the Swedish coffee bread—which is an all day project. Grandma used to fill hers with citron (candied dry fruit). I prefer un-candied dry fruit and more nuts—especially pecans. The bread was a daily item in my life while I was in school during the years when my grandparents lived with us (they moved into a small apartment in our house once neither of them could drive). I would come home from school and Grandma and my mother would be sitting at Grandma’s kitchen table having coffee and buttered coffee bread. They always had at least one piece waiting for me. I’d savor the bread and listed to Grandma and Mother share memories of their early lives. That’s how I learned about depression frosting and the origin of Dream Cookies.
The last image (at right) shows the end of two more shelves, one of the two windows in my office and the stuff that sits below the window. I’ll write about the window stuff next time. Right now, I want to mention that the elephant bookends were a gift from me to my own mother and probably one of the first purchases I made with money I earned. I got elephants for her overflowing bookshelves so she would never forget where they came from and how much we both loved reading. The elephants came back to me when Mother passed away. Below those sits a small basket containing old checkbooks. I don’t know where the basket came from, but I like open containers. I tend to forget things when they are out of sight. I want the checkbooks in plain sight so I remember to throw them out when I no longer need them as tax records.
So those bookshelves contain a lot of stuff ranging from the treasured to the mundane, and as always a host of memories. Do you have memories of your parents and grandparents; stories and/or recipes that have been handed down and treasured for generations; little knick knacks that hold meaning only for you? Please share with a comment.