Monday, October 16, 2017

Fifty five and counting!

No, not my age, although reverting to such a younger age would have its benefits!
Would I really like to be younger?  In all honestly yes. . . . . . .and no!
Definitely mixed feelings on this subject. To what age would I want to return?
A lot of thought will have to go into that question. . . . . .perhaps for another post.

Today it's 55 years since I arrived here in the United States of America as a

legal immigrant. An entire day spent at the American Embassy in London early
 in 1962, several months prior to getting my paperwork in order to enter this country,
included interviews, medical exams, swearing to uphold laws, signing papers
 and such. I was sponsored by an agency who would place me in a job.
 I was almost 19 and planned to come for a year to work as a secretary in 
Washington D.C., save some money, travel a bit, then return to England. 
What happened?
 His name is Bob, haha!!!!!
The United States Capitol building in Autumn - Washington D.C. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

My favorite month - October. . . . . . . . .

Recently at the pumpkin farm I also found a small bunch of the last of the
 golden sunflowers. This pumpkin above is a roasting pumpkin - to be used
 as a vegetable - I need to get chopping soon!

This weekend I'm hoping to start cooking autumn inspired foods in the kitchen.
With the cottage rehab finished, and the weather just starting to cool off,
 I'm ready to settle in for autumn. This will include enjoying the falling
 leaves - through my now sparkling clean windows - as the fragrance of 
comforting foods waft from the kitchen.

Have a great October weekend wherever you are.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Scribble Picnic - my 'art'. . . . . . . . . . .

Some of my 'artwork' from recent months.

I've enjoyed my weekly involvement with the small art co-op SCRIBBLE PICNIC
for many months now.
 Hosted by Michael in beautiful Colorado, our small but dedicated group creates 
the most amazing art for each new theme. Michael definitely stretches us and is 
generous enough to even allow those of us who aren't great at drawing, illustrating
and painting, such as yours truly, to use other creative ways to show our love of art.
 A love of photography has been my way to join these talented artists. Editing 
and adding watercolor and pencils to my photos has enabled me to join the group.

This week you may have noticed we're taking a little break. We'll all be back next 
week with quite a challenge - it will be interesting!  If you would like to join us, and
 we'd truly love to have you, check Michael's blog HERE for all details.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Early morning and dirty windows . . . . . . .

I'm up early this morning. 
Another watery, pale sun is rising over the housetops to the east down
 the street, and above the changing autumn trees.
The renovation work is done on the cottage but the windows are so dirty. 

The window cleaner is due here at breakfast time. 
Coffee is made. Perhaps a croissant will be warmed and the pot
 of homemade fig jam offered.

"Rain, rain go away, my window cleaner is coming today."

Monday, October 9, 2017

Watch out for garden fires!

Still decorating with pumpkins!

The weather over the weekend was dreary, hot, humid. . . . . . . thanks to the latest
 hurricane which, although far away from here, still sent signs in the clouds and a
 few rain showers. We do need rain, especially for the trees and gardens.
We are wondering if the brilliant autumn colors will come this year, all seems
 stagnant, almost lifeless after such a long dry spell.

Did you know that garden mulch can catch fire?
We had a scary incident on the last day of painting on Thursday - when the 
painter was working on the front porch posts. For an hour or so we could
smell burning in the air but couldn't pinpoint it. When the painter, kneeling on
 the flower bed noticed his drop cloth was scorched along one edge, he pulled
 it back and saw smoke coming from the ground close to the foundation of the house! 
He pulled back the mulch which was smoldering and very hot!  We immediately
 saturated the entire bed with the garden hose, also the second bed in front of our
 bedroom window, just in case.
Both these areas are where we had all the shrubs and ground cover, other
 than the hydrangeas, removed to do the work on the house. The soil/mulch
 is now exposed to the sun which has been constant and very hot every day.
With no rain for several weeks, the intense sunshine on the thick layer of 
built up mulch - ours is mainly shredded pine bark mulch and nuggets which
 break down into a rich soil - caused spontaneous combustion and underground
 burning as it turned into fertilizer.
I was online in no time flat looking up what was happening in my garden, as
 nobody seemed familiar with such a situation. What I read about houses/buildings
 actually catching fire from similar situations was really frightening.

I'm writing this as a brief heads up if you also have a build up of old
 mulch in your garden beds. If exposed to sun and there has been little rain,
you may want to get out there with your hose and do some watering.
We are planning on restoring our front beds - will have the old mulch 
dug out and removed, perhaps changing to decorative stones for 
ground cover. Any tips regarding the best way to mulch garden beds will
 be appreciated. 
~ Thanks ~

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Pumpkin Farm Visit. . . . . .

. . . . . . . always an autumn highlight for us.
This year was a special visit for many reasons.
  • We went last Sunday and the weather was perfect.
  • We took granddaughter Jasmin and our neighbor Raya.
  • Jasmin had been trying to get together with Raya for a photo shoot - this was a great location.
  • Bob and I were able to spend time with the farmer and his wife, whom we now consider our friends after so many visits to their North Carolina farm.
  • Once Jasmin got permission to take photos, she and Raya were able to 'play in the pumpkins' and also visit the livestock. Cows, horses, ponies, donkeys, cats. . . . . it was like a 'safari' with sweet and gentle animals - even the bull was friendly and could be petted!
  • I know Jasmin's photos are fabulous. Hopefully she'll let me share more here later.
  • Oh, almost forgot - always fantastic, the Sunni Sky's homemade ice cream stop on the way home!
My Sunday pumpkin photos. Several of these beauties came home with me - some already decorating the cottage. Now awaiting the exterior siding/painting project to have it's final check by the contractor today. . . . . . then I can work on autumn decor for the front porch.

I caught Raya enjoying her ice cream!
Cows and donkeys courtesy of Jasmin Sullivan Photography

Are you playing with pumpkins yet?

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Down on the farm. . . . . . .

Cows, beautiful cows.

Our visit to the farm this year actually included a lot more than pumpkins, 
gourds and squash. This is the handsome bull who services the 28 beautiful bovine girlies
 on the farm!!!!!!

Our farming friends have also given a lovely home to these young donkey
 half-sisters, they arrived earlier this year. I think Raya was taking 'donkey selfies'
 and sharing with them!

Above photos via Jasmin Sullivan Photography

Granddaughter Jasmin on the left with my neighbor Raya who's in middle school.
Jasmin did an 'Autumn photoshoot' with Raya at the farm. . . . . .the girls had so much fun
never expecting to be spending an hour of more with the animals. It was like a
 domestic 'safari'.
We all enjoyed our afternoon so much. . . . . . and more on pumpkins coming!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Scribble Picnic - Blanket

Good Morning!
If you, like me, have crawled out from under some type of warm covering,
still bleary-eyed and are now sipping on your coffee. . . . . . . you are perhaps 
remembering all the things you meant to do yesterday!
Yikes, I almost forgot today was Scribble Picnic time and the 
theme is BLANKET!  
With painters now continuing the cottage renovation I'm being kept busy.
We lost our Google Fiber service yesterday afternoon - along with 9,000 
other customers - and it wasn't repaired until later last night. Needless to say
 there was no computer/TV activity, however I did get to finish a good book.

Last week I looked at piles of blankets and throws online - a throw is of course
 just a scaled-down version of a blanket. I looked at authentic tartans, designer plaids,
 airy cotton, moulting mohair, pilling acrylic and such, but had a hard time 
finding real old-fashioned 100% wool blankets, other than perhaps Pendleton plaids.

Why real wool blankets? Because in England, as a child, I had a love/hate
relationship with Australian wool blankets!  With no central heating, our bedrooms
 were often freezing cold in winter and our only nighttime warmth came from
those 'oh-so-heavy' natural cream colored blankets. Yes they were lifesavers, 
but also impossible to move/turn over under their weight. I recall it feeling like an
entire herd of woolly Aussie sheep were piled on top of me!
But oh how warm they were, I've never forgotten them.

I did come across this neatly boxed Australian baby blanket.
Every little one should have a BAA BAA BLANKET.
 Have just now edited the photo to a sketch and took a bit of liberty
 with watercolor pencils and such. 

Here's the original below.
Looking forward to being enveloped in beautiful blankets over
at Michael's SCRIBBLE PICNIC today. 
Hope you go visit, and don't forget, we'd love to have you join
in each week or whenever you have time.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Coming Soon. . . . . . . . .Farm Girls!

Our Sunday visit to the Johnson's pumpkin farm was fabulous!
More coming  - someone cut Google Fiber's cable today and we were one 
of the 9,000 households who lost wifi and TV!  
Back now this evening thankfully.
Painters doing a great job - hopefully finishing up tomorrow.

Hurry Up Autumn!

House painting is underway. . . . . and yes, it will remain 
yellow with white trim and olive green shutters for those 
of you who asked.
We continue to be blessed with dry weather so it should be completed
 no later than Thursday morning. 
Still hot by noon but evenings and early morning are delightful,
 there is a definite freshness in the air.

October is such a lovely month and my favorite.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Seeing home in a new light. . . . . . . . .

I was gifted with this beautiful contemporary style poster featuring my English
 hometown when I was visiting for Christmas last year - thank you again for such a
thoughtful present Jean (we gals have been friends since our schooldays).
 I really like the soft colors, quite different from often garish versions of posters.
Because I've been unable to find a ready made frame to fit, I purchased an 
inexpensive black artist's stretched canvas and attached the poster with
 double-sided tape. An easy-peasy answer and all done in a couple of minutes. . . . . 
. . . . . and I think it looks perfect.

The poster is hanging next to the bed and I really enjoy looking at it
 each day and remembering my beautiful faraway home on the bay.


Awaking to another horrendous happening here in America,
 last night's Las Vegas concert attack, just breaks my heart. 
I pray for all, those gone forever in the blink of an eye, those critically
 injured fighting for their lives, those injured who will need care and will remain
 with both physical and emotional scars, and those who thankfully escaped injury
 but will forever live with the terrible memory of what should have been a happy night out. 


Sunday, October 1, 2017

October arrives at the house . . . . . . . . .

The exterior of our cottage was 'disrobed' - a huge job removing old siding - and has
 now been clad in a cloak of new siding.  Wood trim repair took place where
 required, some small roof issues were also fixed. All has been gently renovated.
 Yesterday the cottage was cleansed and showered. which has already made
 a big difference. Tomorrow the painters will arrive and hopefully by Thursday, at the
 latest, the entire project will be completed. . . . . . . and we can breathe again!

At this point we are happy we have a small house and it is just 1-1/2 stories - the
 cost for this work on a much larger property with several floors, a huge complicated
 roof line etc. would be so much more expensive when TLC is required.
We have always repaired and repainted every seven years but with new
 HardiPlank lap siding and top of the line Sherwin-Williams Duration paint, we 
should be good for 15 years!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Where. . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . I'd like to be! 
Any of these places would be grand, but instead I'm here at home 
still grappling with the house renovation project. Still handing out cold water
as today will hit 90F again, and then, thankfully, it will start to cool off 
tomorrow. Next week the painting will be done and hopefully the job
 will be completed.

Tomorrow will be fun. . . . . .I plan to shop for a new carriage light for the front 
entry, and new outdoor seating for the front porch. 
This weekend includes a visit to the pumpkin farm which will probably
mean lots of new photos.
So, signing off for a few days, enjoy your weekend. I'll be back in October!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Scribble Picnic. . . . . . . . . Radio

For this fun theme I wanted a special radio. I searched for a vintage looking radio, 
one that reminded me of my childhood as I LOVED listening to the radio from a very
 young age. I discovered many online but this was my favorite for several reasons - 

  • It's the cover of a vintage English annual, books published usually around Christmastime for gifting. I always loved receiving them when I was old enough to read
  • The date - 1946. Doubt I was reading quite yet as I would have been just three, but I would within a few years and I always asked for books at Christmas and Birthday - or cash to go into town to W.H.Smith Booksellers to buy them. I really loved to pick my own usually about ballet, ice skating, horses, and nature
  • The radio itself is similar to one we had, big, bold, Bakelite, and tinny sounding
  • The mention of the BBC - in the illustration. The British Broadcasting Corporation is the world's oldest national broadcasting organization, and the largest broadcaster in the world by number of employees (35,402). It was probably the only station I listened to as a young child - I recall the Listen With Mother program with the famous words from the daily storyteller. . . . . . . "Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin".
  • Later I recall the huge radio favorite, 'Journey Into Space' (1953) and would often listen to that crowded around the radio with friends and neighbors - always a big night each week.  But perhaps my real favorite was 'The Archers', a farming/countryside program which started in 1950 and is still active. It's the world's longest running radio soap opera with 18,400 episodes!
  • . . . . . . and once into music, from the pre-teens onward, RADIO LUXEMBOURG brought listening to American pop music/Rock 'n Roll late into the night, often under the blankets to muffle the sounds from the parents!

Photo of book cover changed to a sketch, colored with watercolor pencils.

~ Original vintage book selling in England on eBay for 15.00 pounds ~


Radio Memories

Radio Fun

. . . . . . . those were the more simple, but still exciting days before
 television, computers, mobile phones!

OK, you know the theme for this week, RADIO.
I'm excited to head over to Michael's SCRIBBLE PICNIC soon to 
see what our group has come up with. We'd love to have you join us - 
all info is on Michael's blog.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Through the window. . . . . . . . . . and feeding the workmen!

The past several days brought brilliant sunshine and heat from early morning until dusk.
Today the sun is hiding and it will stay a little cooler which is good for our work crew.
Hurricane Maria, while thankfully not a landfall threat, churns north, impacting
 Hatteras Island, NC today with high winds, bands of heavy rain and possible
 flooding along coastal areas. Tourists were told to leave and many residents have
 evacuated to safer inland areas.

 I've only served assorted cookies on paper plates, along with dozens of chilled
 water bottles, to the men who don't seem to even stop for a lunch break.
Today I offered to make lunch for the crew - now numbering six - before I even
 thought about what big, muscle-bound men working up a sweat as they
 knock my little house down around me, would eat!  Vichyssoise with dainty
 cucumber sandwiches, followed by cream puffs won't cut the mustard for
 these guys!

As I don't fancy a trip to the grocery store this morning, I must use what I have on
hand. So I'm planning a big steaming bowl of pasta with roasted veggies and
 marinara sauce, scattered with fresh-clipped garden basil and grated parmesan
 (already told them I don't do meat and they didn't seem to mind!), accompanied by
 chunky, crunchy cheese and tomato panini sandwiches.
 For dessert I've made a rustic yogurt cake studded with the last picking of figs
 from the garden, and scattered with toasted almonds, healthy right? 
They will eat outside on the deck. Perhaps I'll feel like one of those Italian 
farmers' wives feeding the vineyard workers, or the olive pickers!!!

Do you offer refreshments to people who work at your home?
I'll let you know how lunch works out later.

Edited:  They really enjoyed lunch - and cleaned their plates!

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