Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Window Seat -

Crossing the Rocky Mountains - August 2018

I still prefer the window seat in order get a view when the clouds allow. . . . . . and
 of course to take photos of the often wild and awesome scenery below.
These days, on long haul flights, especially over night, I often take an aisle seat 
which makes it easier to get out if seat mates are sleeping.

Our trip planned for this week was somewhat questionable when
Hurricane Florence paid us a visit, but thankfully it looks like we'll make it. 
Planning to meet up with two very special long time blogging friends - and
many of you already know these lovely ladies - in one of our favorite cities
 on a beautiful island.
Western Canada we'll soon be on our way!
More later!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Hurricane Florence update + simple comfort food -

No comfortable feelings when looking out the windows at the mess surrounding
 us, and more still falling from the remnants of Hurricane Florence on this grey, 
dreary, soaking wet Sunday morning. But we are grateful, so grateful, that we have
 been spared major damage and unbelievable flooding now coming to so many
 areas of this state. Florence has impacted the entire state of North Carolina
and part of South Carolina also.
We still have bands of gusty winds and drenching rain circling but, unless trees
 fall due to saturated ground (and the rain will continue through Tuesday), we
 should be OK other than the possibility of power outages. 

Funny how 'comfort food' can be so personal. My go to food in times
 of worry and upset, has always been my simple childhood breakfast of
 toast and marmalade.
Very English I guess, and something that continues as a staple in my kitchen,
 crusty wholemeal toasting bread, butter, and a pot of perfect marmalade.
 Add a mug of strong black coffee, or a cup of hot tea, and calm comes
 with each crunch and sip. 

To our dear friends in western North Carolina, stay safe as Florence
 pays you a visit today. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Hurricane Florence. . . . . . .and an excuse for a party!

We're doing OK so far and thank you so much for all the good wishes you sent, 
and continue to send, as we remain hunkered down watching the drenching rains fall.

Before turning in for the night Thursday, Bob and I took a walk down our street. It was quite eerie, silent, not a person visible, most lights out, most vehicles parked at the bottom of driveways away from towering backyard trees. We could make out heavy clouds skidding across the sky. The sound of the wind already rustling through the tree tops was somewhat spine-chilling - it was reminiscent of a Halloween night but without colorful goblins and fairies with their trick or treat bags. Later it was a noisy night with continuous things falling on the roof, thankfully so far just twigs and smaller branches - Nature pruning our oaks!  

Yesterday I got up early, headed into the kitchen to bake muffins and pizzas to share with our neighbors, just in case we lost power later. We watched live TV coverage from the coast as it was slammed by Florence's eye making landfall. In the afternoon we were in touch with several neighbors as the wind picked up and the heavy rain squalls started. We decided to have an impromptu Hurricane Party here early evening. It helped us all unwind a little while enjoying drinks, snacks, and good conversation about things other than the hurricane.

Today, the stronger winds subsided early morning, but now drenching bands of rain have come and will last for several days as Florence continues to move away from us very slowly - life threatening flooding, power outages and falling trees remain serious concerns. 

Our thoughts go out to friends in coastal areas of both North and South Carolina, inland areas and now also to those in western North Carolina where Florence will apparently turn and head north in the coming days. . . . . .the entire state will definitely be saturated. Stay safe. . . . . . 

. . . . . and keep your wellies handy!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Calm before the storm. . . . . . . .

Today we await the visit from Hurricane Florence. She continues a path
 toward the North Carolina coast to make her landfall tomorrow at a
 beach town we often enjoy, the one we always visit in Autumn which is our
 favorite season at our beautiful coast.

I know I've been overly stressed and short tempered for the past couple
 of days as the media bombards us with a mishmash of
  'end of the world', 'fire and brimstone' destruction stories, and yes perhaps 
that's what will happen. It's all in the hands of a greater power from hereon.

This morning when I read the words 'we are in peril' somewhere on my screen
 here, I realized only too well that a huge part of our area is in imminent danger 
from winds and rain, structural damage, and massive flooding, during the coming days.

Juvenile American robins on the front porch.

Even our birds have disappeared from the garden. Do they know 
something is amiss and have 'evacuated' further inland to a 
safer place?  
These young robins, and other fruit eaters, have decided the fig tree no
 longer looks like a place for breakfast.

Our cottage almost looks unlived in today - bare porch, no more hanging 
baskets and feeders, furniture stored away, pots moved. . . . . . just
the grill left out on the back deck in case we lose power and have to 
cook outside. Bob was able to get propane yesterday after three days
of trying, and we also managed to find gas for the cars. Tomorrow we'll 
 park in a deck at the nearby shopping center as we have so many huge
 trees around us - nowhere is safe for the cars even on our street - and as
we are on a cul-de-sac we only have one exit which could be blocked 
by fallen trees.
Memories of the damage we sustained in Hurricane Fran (1996) from trees
 falling on the house, one destroying my car in the driveway, no power for
 10 days, then months of clean up, remind us how we take modern day life
 for granted until those 'perils' arrive. . . . . . and of the mighty power of Nature!

Thanks so much for all the good wishes that we stay safe in the
days ahead. We too are hoping the best for our family, friends and
 neighbors both here locally and scattered across North Carolina.
 I'll be back here as long as we have power. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Is a house a home?

It definitely is, and when there's chance it could be damaged, or even
 destroyed, one realizes how comforting it is to have a place to call home. . . . . 
 . . . . . . and how upsetting and stressful it is knowing it could be lost.

Nail biting time is here for those of us in North Carolina, South Carolina and 
Virginia as the first tropical storm of the season, Hurricane Florence, churns
 her way across the Atlantic towards us.
She is a huge category 4 storm, and is being called extremely dangerous
perhaps the worst storm to hit the southeast in 60 years.
 Evacuations are already underway along our coast. Here, inland, we are also
 getting prepared as it's highly likely the damaging winds, possible major 
flooding and power outages could reach us.

More later. . . . . . . . .fingers crossed!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Fall Fashion & Hurricane Florence. . . . . . . . . . .

Good Monday morning friends.
Hopefully we here inland and along the southeastern coast will get
 through this week safely. Being in the path of Hurricane Florence is 
very unnerving to say the least!

On the way to drop off something at my nearby mall a few days ago, couldn't
 help but notice, the larger than life sized photo (above) in one of the H&M display
 windows. I love it - both the photo and the coat!

I looked at it again online and decided no way did I need a 'Polar bear' coat living
 down south! 
I already have a small collection of longer coats, love them all, however 
we don't get enough cold weather to wear them too often. 
When traveling to colder climes there's no way to stuff this one into a
 suitcase. . . . . . unless I take everything else out!

I did however check out the new sweaters in H&M. I've had good luck with their 
sweaters. Their styles, colors and affordable prices, this one is just $19.99,
mean I can keep my sweater wardrobe current without spending a fortune.
I like this relaxed style with the slightly longer back, dropped shoulders and ribbed
cuffs and hem. I needed this one in beige tones but it comes in several other
colors also.

One drawback is the possibility of the yarns pilling after some wear. 
This I can live with and, quite honestly, it happens to just about all sweater
 knits, even merino wool and expensive cashmere. . . . . . which is why investing
 in one of these battery operated lint shavers (mine is a Dritz) is worthwhile.
 I purchased mine at JoAnn Fabrics at a good savings by using a discount
 coupon. it really works well. . . . . . . . today I'm actually 'shaving' my sweaters
as I plan to head north again soon!

Today we will commence hurricane preparation all across North Carolina.
Last night's TV coverage showed grocery store shelves already cleaned
 out of necessities such as bottled water and non-perishable food items!
This is a very stressful time for us all and we'll be battening down
the hatches over the next few days.


Saturday, September 8, 2018

Saturday morning. . . . . . . . .

The light this morning is bright and lovely with sunshine and
 blue skies. . . . . . . but will it last?
Doubtful with the current weather forecast. Hurricane Florence has become the
 first major storm of the season and, as always, the east coast gets nervous.
The entire week ahead shows rain and thunderstorm activity. . . . . . even this
afternoon we will probably get hit by a storm.

I have veggies to grill so my 'grill master' has just received his marching orders
 to get out there early and fire up the Weber . . . . . . . . . . here's your apron Bob!

Meanwhile, I'm heading to the garden to pick the last tomatoes, the few green
 bell peppers which are small but will add flavor to the grill, and a last clipping 
of basil for pesto. Figs have been left for visiting birds, squirrels and deer, they
were disappointing this year - late coming in, sparse, and not flavorful as in
other years. 

Thanks to each of you who commented on my previous post. 
Knowing your kind wishes and prayers are heading across the pond
 to Denise as she faces yet another serious health issue, makes me
 realize yet again, how special and generous blog friends are. 

Hoping your weekend is bright and beautiful.

Friday, September 7, 2018


My dear cousin in England shared sad news last night.
Her sweet, brave, daughter has struggled with MS for many years.
Confined to a wheelchair, but always with a bright smile and a positive
 attitude, she has now been diagnosed with breast cancer and will soon
 be undergoing surgery followed by radiation treatment.

Please say a little prayer, or think a kind and positive
 thought for Denise, and our family, and send it across the pond.
Thank you so much.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Singing the blues and purples . . . . . .

Each day the clouds build and thunderheads appear late in the afternoons.
Huge drops of rain plop heavily on the back deck, and I run outside to toss the 
cushions into the gazebo. Lightning illuminates the darkening sky, thunder
 cracks sharply directly overhead making me jump and the neighbors' dogs
 bark, or booms in muffled rumbles off in the distance.

Thunderheads (cumulonimbus) are the most dramatic looking clouds with their
tall and imposing shape. They grow vertically instead of horizontally, forming
into dense towers that can reach 20,000 feet, sometimes even more.

Late Summer sky over Raleigh while driving home from the State Farmers' Market downtown on Sunday. 

Sunday, we took a drive to the market for fresh farm eggs and tomatoes, and
ended up also buying a few pretty purple eggplants - they come in all shades, 
shapes and sizes now.

Despite garden conditions being disappointing this Summer due to a
 crazy weather pattern, I was shocked when Bob pointed to "a purple thing in
 the back garden on the arbor." Looking closer I found not one but two
 'purple things' dangling from the arbor. . . . . . . very late blooming wisteria
racemes! None bloomed in Spring but it's lovely to see them now.

While singing the blues, I have to show you this beautiful piece of handmade glass
 from Colorado. It was a gift from my neighbor. His kitty is Ms. Nala whom I've
 shared with you often. . . . . and this Summer I did take care of her for several
 weeks. The blue vase is sitting on the lovely mosaic tray made some years ago
 by my dear friend Penny in the North Carolina mountains. 
You can find her here at Enjoying the Simple Things.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

September arrives and an early market visit. . . . . . . .

"Best I love September's yellow,
Morns of dew-strung gossamer,
Thoughtful days without a stir,
Rooky clamours, brazen leaves,
Stubble dotted o'er with sheaves -
More than Spring's bright uncontrol
Suit the Autumn of my soul."
                                ~ Alex. Smith ~

Thoughts of Autumnal days have filled my head this week.
The garden looks sad and will soon need attention - especially tree and
 shrub pruning. It's still too hot to work outside, highs in the 90's plus
 steamy humidity of 95% make the heat index around 102F.

Bob did mow yesterday and came in drenched and 2 lbs. lighter!
How come that happens to guys - we work hard too but losing weight
is always so difficult.
 The garden at least looks a bit neater for the holiday weekend.

 I've spent time in the cool of the kitchen with the rolling pin and fresh fruits.
Made this galette using fresh peaches from the farmers' market 
and blueberries from the store.

I made the pie crust last weekend for the deep dish spinach quiche (below)
and had enough remaining for this dessert.
Gina shared her dough recipe when we made a similar quiche during
 my recent visit to the farm in Utah. It was so good I couldn't wait to try my
 own. Really good, but I missed dining al fresco with such lovely friends,
 the sun setting over the pond, geese honking their 'goodnights', and mountains
 in the background!

Cooking outdoors over this holiday weekend may not be enjoyable in such heat. 
Salads sound perfect - juicy slicing tomatoes  - cheese with good bread or
 crackers - a chilled bowl of ice cream - a fresh peach dripping down the chin.
Life is what we make it - eating doesn't have to be complicated - especially 
in hot weather.

We just popped across to the neighborhood farmers' market for tomatoes and 
corn. Already steamy hot, quite busy with people and some lovely dogs - all
behaving well on a sunny Saturday morning.

Welcome to September.
Enjoy your Labor Day Holiday wherever you are, whatever you do.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Colorado and artist friends. . . . . . . . . .

Our recent trip westward didn't end with that amazing visit to Utah. . . . . . it 
continued into Colorado for yet another long awaited visit with a blog friend,
Michael MacVean, graphic designer/illustrator extraordinaire, 
SCRIBBLE PICNIC host and all around lovely, friendly, funny guy.
Visit Michael's blog HERE.
Today he's back posting about his move to Kentucky and 
plans for the future.

We flew from Salt Lake City to Denver, picked up a rental car and drove to 
Loveland where dinner with Michael was planned. We were running quite late
 due to the airport car rental place being a nightmare, but Michael, bless his polite
 English heart, waited for us. . . . . . . .thank goodness!

Michael and I have been blog friends for many, many years and he, like me
always seemed excited at the thought of meeting up someday. We decided this
 had to be the year - he's still young but we're getting long in the tooth!
 As Utah and Colorado are neighboring states we could do it quite easily.

There was just one hitch, lifestyle changes meant Michael and his wife,
 lovely artist, Alexandra were moving to Kentucky just before we were due 
to arrive in Fort Collins, Colorado!
Anyway all worked out as Michael returned to tie up lose ends on the dates
 we were visiting and we could get together. Sadly Alexandra was not able to
 come with him due to work commitments in Kentucky. . . . . but we look
 forward to meeting up with her another time.

The second day in Fort Collins we met Michael for a tour around the
 really great Old Town section of Fort Collins.  Starting with freshly baked 
biscuits, muffins, croissants (best almond one ever) and good coffee at
The Little Bird Bakery - which I know Michael and Alexandra will
definitely miss - we enjoyed walking and visiting so many interesting 
shops and viewing historic homes in the area.

I love signage and in Fort Collins Old Town area it was awesome.

Strolling around town on a beautiful day.

This was a great small batch chocolate shop - we each had a truffle and picked
 two bars to bring home. Gobbled up the truffles but the bars are here awaiting
 a special occasion for serving.

This collage shows some the pretty things for sale in the lovely shops Michael
 took time to show us. I did buy the French kitchen soap as I was out of it. 
The fox on the baby onesie in the center is one of Alexandra's illustrations. . . . .and
 I have to say the little dish with the sheep has a quote I totally agree with (Gina that
 one's for you!).

Michael thanks so much for making time to see us - we enjoyed it all so much.
Wishing you and Alexandra much happiness in your new home.
  Here's to the next time.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

So hard to say "goodbye". . . . . . . . .

. . . . . so how about arrivederci, or just a good old plain cheerio!

Four days in paradise - such a fabulous time that even the kidney stone
is almost forgotten! The positive things about that unexpected episode were
 having kind friends who cared, and a nearby country hospital where ER service
was excellent and, after a few hours, I felt fine again and could return to the farm!

Those lovely days at Villa Vista were even more exhilarating and
 wonderful than expected.
Occasions such as this continue to make me realize just how great
 meeting blog friends can be. But for blogging our paths would never have
 crossed, and all those great times with special friends would never have
 happened in my life.

Above, me loving every moment on the farm.

We picked vegetables, we cooked, we ate both inside and al fresco, 
we painted, we toasted with champagne, we shared stories of life and travel, 
we met neighbors, we did a little sightseeing around town, we sat comfortably
 taking in such incredible views, we watched huge families of winged wonders,
 skid across the pond. . . . . 
. . . . oh yes, I did say we talked didn't I? In fact we never stopped!

All photos above taken at different times of day at the beautiful farm in the alfalfa field. 
As you can see, my time there was so special and I felt so very happy and peaceful
in this lovely place, surrounded by nature and with the most delightful hosts.
Be sure to visit Gina here at ART and ALFALFA to enjoy more stories, and 
her beautiful photos, from the farm.

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