Andrew's Blog


A City Boy Making His Way in the Country

Spring!

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It’s finally spring at Orchard House. One lamb has already arrived and there are more on the way. The chicks arrive next week. The gardens are being mulched and the planting season will soon be upon us. Boy, that makes it sound like we’re a real farm. Well, I ¬†guess we kinda are. I’ve dubbed this the year of “lavender” – plants everywhere! A mini-Tuscany! (They grow lavender there, right?)

I’ll admit, my favorite season is fall. Nothing beats the smell of October – and the envelopes with crisp bills inside them for my birthday. But spring comes in a close second. It’s finally time to toil in the garden, remove the trash piles that have developed over winter and expand on ideas that are as grand as Versailles. It also means we’ll try to rescue a few baby birds and fail. We’ll plant things that will invariably die, and mowing will commence at an alarming rate.

But not all the plants will die. There will be beautiful flowers. Many baby birds will grow up and lead productive lives. And we’ll be even closer to October.We’ll hire someone to mow the lawn and there will be air conditioning. Rumor at the local mill is that the weather will be worse than last year – more droughty then we’ve seen in years. And that means hot llamas, more watering of plants and extreme cuddling next to the air conditioning vent. We can also take bets to see if hay can possibly cost more than it does now – $9 a bale. P.S. Thanks for coming to Orchard House because you’re literally feeding the animals.

Oh, and there are a few more MAJOR things coming this summer. In the next few months in fact. But it’s too early to talk about them. I can report that our screened-in porch will be transitioning to a 3-season outdoor room. That’s gonna be amazing! We’ll be able to serve breakfast there – yes, on another gorgeous farm table. But this news pales in comparison to what’s to come…so stayed tuned and join us on some crazy adventures this coming year.

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Come take a walk with me…

…to the antique store.

I recently went on a trip to the Heritage Square Antique Mall, my local haunt, were I took photos of some stuff that I love, but would never buy. If you’re in the area, or staying at Orchard House, this space is one of the few antiquing locations in the area. There are some gems to be had, but you have to be able to put up with 60′s music and florescent lights.

(This blog post was originally written for Broadway+Thresher (www.broadwayandthresher.com). Visit the link below to read it in full.

http://broadwayandthresher.com/lifestyle/2013/3/11/antique-finds-a-trip-to-the-antique-mall-lifestyle

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Orchids.

Today I had the great pleasure of viewing orchids of every kind at the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus. Red, pink, orange, yellow, purple – it was a journey through the rainbow. And yes, that sounds cheesy. But there were colors everywhere, and staring at gray clouds and snow for the past few days has made me yearn for something bright. And these orchids hit the spot!

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All these orchids got me to thinking about growing this season. And I got a little excited. (I also bought a bulb for a plant, that when it reaches maturity, will smell like rotten meat. Hello!) I love orchids but have no clue how to grow them. They need some specific heat, their watering is an issue and they need special soil. That’s a trifecta of trouble for me. If it needs more work then just a simple plop in the ground with some compost and the occasional water, it’s asking for a lot. Just ask that poor skeleton of a staghorn fern on the floor of the screened-in porch.

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It’s a shame that these beautiful plants have become expendable. You can buy them at Lowes, and like the often trashed poinsettia, get enjoyed while its bloom is bright and meets the Hefty when those petals hit the floor. I feel bad for those orchids, and so I never buy them. But they’re pretty. I guess I’ll just have to appreciate them in the botanical gardens. And from these pictures, they certainly put on a show today!

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A “Flexible” Bread Pudding Recipe

I hate the idea of bread pudding but love the taste of it. Because of this, I usually don’t make it. But in a bind the other day for a breakfast recipe, I whipped up a batch of individual cinnamon roll bread puddings. And they turned out delicious!

Below is a recipe. It’s one part common sense, one part experimentation.

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“Flexible” Bread Pudding – 4 individual servings

  • 4 servings of a tasty, somewhat sturdy bread product. For example, one cinnamon roll per person. You could also try various other pastries, donuts, cakes or other yummy things. (This is where the experimentation comes in.) ((And if you’re super brave, you could make it instead of buying it!))
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • Some form of dried fruit to sprinkle on top – use what you love – dried cherries, apricots, cranberries – it’ll all work!
  • **If your bread product doesn’t have any cinnamon, nutmeg or other spice put a few dashes of something in.
  • **Optional: a little butter.

 

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Chop up your bread product and fill 4 individual ramekins. Be sure to stuff those little dishes! Don’t be afraid to smoosh stuff up, it’ll all be ok.
  3. Melt your butter.
  4. Combine eggs, milk, vanilla and butter in one container and whisk together. (Add your spices to this mixture if you’re using them.)
  5. Divide the mixture evenly between the 4 ramekins. You should see liquid all the way to the top. If you don’t, add a little milk until you get there.
  6. Sprinkle your dried fruit of choice on top, ensuring items are tastefully placed for maximum WOW factor.
  7. At this point, you could add a small pat of butter to the top of each dish. Or you could add it half what through, or right at the end. I usually go with half-way.
  8. Put your bread puddings on a baking sheet and pop them in the oven.
  9. Wait 30 minutes.
  10. The kitchen should smell delicious. Puddings are done when they look as though they’ve set-up – this means while there might be molten bubbling liquid, your original egg mixture is not runny. They should also rise a bit. This is another sign of doneness. I usually just leave the oven light on and at 10 minutes to go, check in on them every few minutes.
  11. If this is for a dessert, scoop some ice cream over top and serve. If it’s for breakfast, pour a little maple syrup on top.

 

Remember, I’m no chef. This recipe is meant to be played with – add or subtract as you see fit.

You could throw some chocolate chips in the mix, add some pre-cooked sausage or get rid of the dried fruit. It’s your bread pudding, not mine. Enjoy it!

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Jewelry.

I’ve been thinking a lot about jewelry these days. Beautiful bobbles. While I love the concept of an uber-large jaguar Cartier brooch, I wonder what I would actually do with it. Sure, you can wear it to bed. But the reason to have such fabulous jewelry is to show it off to all your friends and make your enemies jealous. But llamas really don’t care about emeralds. And goats would probably just eat sapphires.

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And then you have to insure it ’cause lord knows we loose things left and right in this house. I wouldn’t put it past those kittens to hit the Crimson Star of Siberia under the GE Clearance Refrigerator in our kitchen. We’d find it years later, I’d wear it to Ruby Tuesdays, everyone would think it was fake, and then it would be put away. And a kitten would find it again.

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To all you lovelies out there interested in buying me something beautiful, I’m in love with Cartier these days. Tiffany’s has become too mainstream. There are too many wedding cakes and fantasy tablescapes on Pinterest in Tiffany “blue.” There are too many sorority girls at second tier state schools wearing Tiffany bangle bracelets, clinking carefree against their Coach purses. I don’t mean to hate, but when your shop starts popping up in high-end luxury malls across this great nation, you’ve become a little mainstream for my tastes. Cartier, Harry Winston, take me away. No one on the red carpet says their wearing Tiffany earrings, Paloma Picasso collection.

But I digress. I just want beautiful things. Just like everyone else. I could care less about electronics. I hate Precious Moments. I do like art. And antiques. And jewelry. And wine. While these have nothing to do with the bed and breakfast, or anything with the farm, sometimes you need to think further afield then the pasture outside your door. Maybe even to the emerald fields of Madagascar. Or the asphalt of 5th Avenue.

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