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Memories and Musings

By Cheri Sims
Hubby and I have always been fascinated with time travel and while I just thought about it Hubby read many books on the subject and occasionally I would ask for an update on his findings. I can’t really conceptualize alternate universes or multi-verses so you can guess that I am not a big fan of superhero comic books or the “Marvel Universe’’ movies but I did love the movie “Somewhere in Time’’ and I thought the first “Iron Man’’ movie was pretty good.

Last week I did experience a small version of time travel or stepping back in time when I had the chance to visit one of our former homes which I called “Mauve House”. We bought the beautiful and in much need of repair Victorian house in the early 1990’sand spent the next twelve or so years restoring it to a single family dwelling from a four apartment student rental. Hubby did most of the construction work and I was responsible for all the interior redecorating and the gardens. I stripped woodwork, wallpapered and painted to the best of my  ability and we were very proud of what we accomplished but as all old homes are, there was still a lot of work to be done. We have restored, to a certain degree, four houses in Charleston but Mauve House was my favorite and we really thought this was our forever home but Hubby became tired of repair and we sold the house in 2005 and built a new home which was his choice.

Last week when I walked into Mauve House it was like we had never left. Hubby had spent three summers scraping and repainting the house in four beautiful shades of mauve and burgundy but the new owner repainted it blue. With the exception of the color change and a masculine completely updated kitchen and the buyer’s furniture, everything was just like it was the day we turned the keys over to our buyer. All of my curtains were still where I had hung them, all the wallpaper I had so carefully hung was still on the walls, and antique flue cover still hung on the exposed brick chimney and even my old Dustbuster was still hanging on the south porch wall. The owner had also left the door transom painting Hubby had executed on his office door and this was such a joy to see again. I felt completely at home and could have moved back in and been happy. If you can imagine me flitting from room to room and uttering my pleasure at what I was seeing and enjoying then you have the picture. Sadly some of the improvements we had made were beginning to show wear, because the house had not been lived in for the last six years, but I could see the renovated bones and revel in our past life with the house.

The back yard and gardens are a mess but Hubby’s tea house and fish pond were still in place and the first boxwood hedge I ever planted is healthy but just needs to be cut back. The brick paths I laid are still in place and I venture It would only take me about two weeks to restore the gardens or at least clear out all the overgrowth and give it new life. I toyed with the idea of buying the house again, the price was right but as I climbed the front stairs I remembered the other reason we had sold the house. I had taken quite a tumble down those stairs and ended up with two sprained ankles and since the bedroom was upstairs I had experienced a few weeks of trying to live on the first floor;  which was hard because Hubby had to bring clothing down to me every day and that in itself was quite a giggle.

I wish more Americans were interested in historic preservation, we are such a throw- away society and we have so much beauty from our past that should be preserved. I realize we are not as old as most of the rest of the world but North Ireland has Killyleagh Castle which is still a working castle and the buildings around it date back to 1180, Rochester Castle in England was built in 1080, Villa Capra the oldest house in Italy was built in1580 and most of the buildings in the towns around it date back to the 1700s. We have a few hundred houses and buildings in the USA which are designated as historic buildings but I wish the smaller cities and towns held their historic architecture in higher esteem. Hubby and I have spent many vacations just driving around the towns we have visited just looking at the beautiful, or used to be beautiful, houses and buildings. This was a wonderful memory.

I am so thrilled my basil survived on the north side of the house but just barely. I have enough starts to transfer to some place on the south side if I can find a place. The back door neighbor’s house has a nice privacy fence and there is about four inches of dirt all along the fence, on my side, in an area which gets a lot of sun so I have decided to plant the basil along the fence. The owners have garden space o the other side so if the basil decides to creep under the fence it might not be too much of a bother. I can always volunteer to weed their garden. I use basil, thyme and sage regularly in my cooking so I like to have ample supply in the garden. My first planting of English thyme did not fare so well and this year I will plant the heartier German thyme. I actually like the flavor of German thyme better so I will try to get a good start of it.

One of my favorite things to make out of the fresh herbs is Canadian maple-cranberry salad dressing. I was treated to this delicious salad dressing many years ago while in Canada but sadly it can not be purchased in the USA so I researched many Canadian dressing recipes and chose the one I will share with my changes.

I have also created a nice low fat dressing which pares well with veggies. This one is really simple to msake and only has a couple ingredients. All you need is one boiled egg, a half cup light sour cream and a handful of your favorite herbs. Blend them all together in a food processor and pour over anything to give it a zing. It is good for a sandwich spread too.

Happy gardening!

Canadian maple Salad Dressing
* 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

* 2 Tbsp wine vinegar or 

lemon juice

* Salt and freshly ground 

pepper, to taste

* 4 Tbsp olive oil ( I omit 

the olive oil and use 

sugar free cranberry 


* 1 Tbsp pure maple 

syrup from Canada

* 2 Tbsp minced chives 

or fresh herbs, optional (I use fresh chopped chives, fresh chopped or dried basil and oregano)

1.     In a bowl, combine Dijon mustard and wine vinegar or lemon juice. Season to taste.

2.     Using a fork or whisk, whip the dressing while adding olive oil and pure maple syrup.

3.     Adjust seasoning and add chives or fresh herbs, such as basil or tarragon, if desired.


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