Ronda's work seen in cooking DVD!


This pie safe, painted by Ronda in 2005, can be seen on the kitchen set in the 2007 cooking DVD Fudge Glorious Fudge by Squirrel House Productions!

The Madison Press, Madison County, Ohio


October 2, 2006
by Linda Eriksson

(Ronda gets a mention in this article!! And there's a yummy recipe, too!)

Last week, I mentioned a cold snap that "gave us a peek through a window at winter waiting for us on the other side". That thought, plus the fact that my husband and I are in the throes of replacing 90-year-old windows in our house, has reminded me of some windows I've looked at and through over the years.

A window in the second floor bedroom where I slept when I visited Grandmother and Granddaddy's house was one of the ritual first stops I had to make as soon as I arrived. The window faced their big grassy back yard with its canopy of tall, old oak and maple trees. It was bisected like a crazy quilt marked off by white clothesline crisscrossing the yard in no particular pattern - it depended on where there were trees between which a length of line could be stretched. The ground sloped slightly to the left, where eventually it ended at the edge of a gravel parking area.

From my window I could see, beyond the border of boxwood bushes that marked the rear edge of the yard, a perennial garden - a little island of grace and formality (tended seasonally by my aunt) the sole purpose of which was to perpetuate its own beauty.

If I looked to the left beside the garden there stood three white wood buildings: a small smoke house, not much bigger than a privy; a one-story chicken house full of free-range chickens; and a barn big enough for three stalls and a hay mow. Off to the right, well hidden in a stand of mature oak trees, was the pig pen, source of the south's best sugar-cured country hams. I can close my eyes decades later and see it plainly through the window.

When we built an addition onto our home here in Columbus, a bonus was the view from the second story windows in the family room. We looked out directly into the full crown of a giant silver maple just beyond the sill. It was like being in a very cozy, very private tree house.

Certain stained glass windows in the sanctuaries of churches I've attended have needed to be looked at, rather than through. Stories illustrated from the Bible in rich jewel colors of stained glass four stories high bring back the original meaning of the somewhat overused word "awesome". I've worshipped at many different churches, and always have to pay close attention to the windows; more often than not, they're breathtaking.

I well remember hospital windows: I happily looked through nursery windows at my babies, during the brief times they weren't in my room with me; as a child, standing in a hospital parking lot, I shed tears one summer as I looked up into a third story window that framed my grandmother (she recovered and lived 25 more years).

What about the beautiful old windows, with lots of panes, fanciful shapes, and sometimes handmade glass, when they've outlived their original uses? The lucky ones go to someone like Ronda Juniper Ray, a central Ohio artist whose medium is oil paint on glass. Her work, sometimes flowers reverse painted on the old panes, is shown and sells from her web site, By way of their new identities as works of art, many old windows from this area have found their way across the U.S. and into several other countries as well.

I have a recipe for you this week for Stained Glass Candy that looks just like the pieces in a bright leaded stained glass window. It's delicious, fun, economical, and lasts a long time. We had friends who used to host a party for 20 or so family and friends every November. Everyone would pitch in to help with the process, and several batches of this wonderful candy were the result. There was enough for each household to take home a big self-sealing bagful to share with guests over the holidays. Enjoy when the windows get frosty a little later this year!

Stained Glass Candy

1 cup water 2 cups granulated sugar 3 /4 cup light corn syrup 1 tablespoon butter Few drops liquid food coloring *Liquid flavoring

In a large, heavy pan with a lid, bring water to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in sugar, corn syrup, and butter until dissolved. Return to heat; bring to a boil again. While boiling, cover pan for about 3 minutes to allow the steam to wash down any crystals on the sides of the pan.

Uncover and cook at high heat without stirring until a candy thermometer reaches 310 degrees. Prepare a slab of marble or similar surface that will take high heat by brushing them well with butter or oil.

Remove to low heat and stir in food coloring. Stir in flavoring (buy flavoring made from essential oils in very small bottles from a druggist to get best results - alcohol based flavorings, such as vanilla extract, will evaporate).

While candy mixture is still very hot, carefully pour onto prepared surface. Spread quickly to assure that candy will be about 1 /4 inch thick. Allow to cool until candy is brittle and can be handled. Break into small pieces (if it's too thick to break in your hands, cover with a clean linen dishtowel and tap surface in several places with a hammer. Remove towel and continue to break until pieces are the size you want.

Store completely cooled candy in self-sealing bags at room temperature.

Makes about 1-1 /2 pounds

*There are dozens of these flavorings. Among my favorites are cinnamon (red coloring) and spearmint (green coloring), butter pecan, rum, and butterscotch.

Pair of Artists to Visit Our Cottage Garden!


Press Release
July 30, 2006

Artists Connie Parkinson and Lesley of Lesley's Loft will visit Our Cottage Garden this week for three fun-filled days of nonstop painting! Connie and Lesley will be staying at the home of Our Cottage Garden artist Ronda Juniper Ray, who has been busy cleaning out her Columbus, Ohio studio to make room for these two fabulous women.

Connie, who will fly in from California on the third of August, is a much-loved teacher who has traveled the world teaching her beautiful painting style. Lesley, who will drive in from Pittsburgh on the fourth of August, is highly regarded for her oil paintings of roses, her miniature paintings, and her masterful paintings of children which she incorporates into gorgeous vintage-style signs that are sweetly evocative of a gentler era.

You can see Connie's work and purchase her instructional packets by clicking You can see more of Lesleys work on ebay by clicking here, where she has links to more of her beautiful work.

Pictured are a just a small selection of the books and instructional packets available on Connie's website.

A Cat's Fancy - Part III


Chapter Three: Franny, for Pete's Sake

***SIGH*** I've had numerous requests for a photograph of my brother, Franny. Fine. Here he is. But enough about him.

Do not be fooled by my sweet, cuddly appearance in this photograph. It was a paid photo-op, for which I received handsome remuneration in the form of a new catnip ball. I did not share it with Franny. I batted it under the sofa. I can get under the sofa. He cannot.

Until our next chat, at which time we shall revisit my most favorite subject - me, of course - I remain,

Meowly yours,


P.S. The above photo is untitled, as I do not feel the need to spend even a moment's time on having anything to do with HIM. If I did so, I would quickly be wearing my Grumpy Pants.

A Cat's Fancy - Part II


Chapter Two: My Adoring Public

As I fully expected, it seems I have an adoring public. I have been asked by several lovely ladies to clarify The Embroidery Needle Incident.

It's quite an indelicate matter, really, but I shall endeavor to explain most precisely without being crassly direct.

Suffice to say that for several days after ingesting that pretty, shiny needle, I was treated to my own private suite, with my own private salle de bain, and dined exclusively on tuna marinated in vegetable oil. I was not required to share any of these luxurious treats with my brother, Franny. But enough about him.

The experience also involved the purchase by my humans of numerous pairs of rubber gloves, the more hygienically to search for that missing needle, should it choose to, ah, reappear. Which, fortuitously, it did, thus sparing me the surgeon's knife.

In the intervening three days, I was x-rayed thrice daily whilst deeply concerned humans pondered the travels of the offending needle.

As you probably ascertained from my earlier entry, I do not care for trips to the veterinarian. They force me to wear, as my humans like to say, my Grumpy Pants. But as I was amply rewarded with much juicy tuna, I tolerated the experience relatively well. And truly, all that tuna would make it worth finding another needle, if only my humans hadn't removed every last one of them from the premises.

Until our next visit, I remain,

Meowly yours,


P.S. The above portrait is titled "Cassie, Queen of the Animal Kingdom." No further explanation is necessary.

A Cat's Fancy


Chapter One: Tabby Chic

My name is Cassie. Firstmost, allow me to clarify: I am NOT a tabby. I am a ginger cat. I merely thought "Tabby Chic" a cute title, given my female human's propensity for painting all things decrepit. But enough about her.

My humans named me Cassie because they believe cats respond more readily to the sound of "ssss". Pfffft. Cats do not respond unless they WISH to respond, to anything. It matters not one whit whether our name is Thuddclumpett or Sissymississifuss. We respond WHEN and ONLY when we choose to. If ever.

I am a member of that finest of English feline breeds, the Devon Rex. My humans are fond of saying that I was the runt of the litter and was thus affordable. HISSSS. Affordable shmordable. I am priceless. And while my neck and ears may be a bit shorter than the average, every-day, run-of-the-mill D. Rex you see in the mall (where you will NEVER see me; I don't mall, but that shall remain another story for another day.), those differences are what render me exquisitely, uniquely the Priceless Precious Princess that I am. I am NOT a runt.

Furthermore, I have spent much of my life proving just how unaffordable I can be, such as the time I swallowed an embroidery needle and was, in a most undignified manner, rushed to the veterinarian's office. Enough said about THAT unpleasant episode. Well, unpleasant more for the humans than for me. I was subsequently treated like the queen I am for several days as a result. I despair of ever finding another needle - I often think the reason my female human took up painting was so she could destroy all the needles in the house before they destroyed her wallet.

I decided to begin this missive because my humans are often wont to tell me to do something useful with myself, and to quit prowling around the house at night. This is because I take particular pleasure in stepping on the squeakiest boards and the thunketiest tables and chairs, leaping off the top of the refrigerator, and otherwise finding ways to make nighttime noises that cause my female human to sit bolt upright in bed and hiss to my male human, "THERE'S SOMEONE IN THE HOUSE!" This is highly and unendingly amusing, but being as I am feeling generous tonight, I am writing this instead of causing my humans heart failure.

I shall periodically pen (paw?) my adventures, and there are many. I know you will find them profoundly fascinating. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. If I am so inclined, I shall deign to reply.

Oh, I suppose familial duty compels me to note that I have a younger brother. He is NOT a Devon Rex. He is a mere foundling. My humans think he is a very sweet cat (thankfully, they never say that about me), but I think he's just a pest. As do all big sisters think of their baby brothers. His name is Franny, and I suppose he must by necessity enter these Tales From the Cat from time to time. But mostly I shall speak of that which is nearest and dearest to me -- Me.

Until another day, I remain,

Meowly yours,


P.S. The above portrait is titled "You May Kiss My Ring." I believe no further explanation is needed.

NOTE: The above Chapter One: Tabby Chic was originally posted on July 1. Due to incompetence on the part of my human editor, it was briefly lost, but thanks to the wonders of Google and its happy habit of caching such goodies, it was recaptured and reposted on July 11.