Friday, September 30, 2011

Come sip sweet nectar.............

The flowering sedum plant is flopping all over the walkway in front of the porch............but I daren't prune it back because this week it seems to be home and restaurant to butterflies and bees.

This is the Buckeye, easily recognizable by the prominent eye spots on the wings which probably protect them from predators.  Enjoying an afternoon snack on the blooming sedum..................... certainly displayed perfect Autumn colors.  When the wings close it's quite a plain brown creature, but what beauty when it opens them.

The bees are huge and plentiful, always a good sign in the garden as they are needed for pollination.

When I took these shots there were at least 20 of these large bees, and some smaller ones, all friendly as they buzzed back and forth on the open flowers

The joys of Autumn gardens.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Reality Shot Thursday.......

The delightful Claudia at Mockingbird Hill Cottage has started a meme which grabbed my attention.  

On Thursdays you can forget about cleaning house, straightening up, dusting and polishing, organizing 'stuff', pulling weeds, mowing lawns, fixing things............just to shoot a photo for your blog of something perfectly IMPERFECT around your house or garden.  

Claudia wants us to be brave and take a photo of something messy, broken, disorganized, even downright ugly. In other words, she wants us to show the REAL, the IMPERFECT in our homes, not just the pretty parts.

So here to help kick off this fun meme, is my current untidy, waiting to be fixed, new but very old chandelier.  It has been in the middle of the living room for well over a week now ~ and I will stick back the bits which broke off in the trunk of my car while bringing it home, just give me a little more time. To me this isn't too ugly, after all if one has a pile of junk antique beauty awaiting a little fix to make it operable and usable, enjoy looking at it no matter what.  

In coming weeks I may be a little braver when it comes to showing you reality around the cottage...........the really messy bits are waiting in the wings!

Do stop over to visit Claudia and join in on Thursdays - after all you don't even have to pick up or dust!!

Trumpeting angels.................

Whoa're spinning by far too fast for me!  

This month is bringing lots of beauty to the garden as we have at last had rain.  Heavy downpours lasting hours, even much of an entire day, and drizzly moments in between.

Although the yellow angel trumpets tooted happily in the early part of Summer, very unusual, they have now put on their more usual early Fall show and are magnificent.  Yesterday, when I took these photos, there were dozens of blooms open and a lot of buds coming along.  It may bloom well into October.

Sweet potato vine still spreading ~ Knockout rose blooming ~ sad looking patchy grass from our very hot Summer!

This is a tall shrub, now about 5 years old.  Tropical in some parts, here it requires heavy pruning down to the ground before Winter. I mulch with compost and fallen leaves and always hope to see it sprouting new growth come Spring.  So far it's done extremely well and even better since the huge oak tree next to it was removed last year.

More from the cottage garden soon.
What's growing in your garden right now?

Monday, September 26, 2011

A different shade of pumpkin!

I recently shared discovery of the Instagram App in this post.  If you have a smart phone this photo editing App is available and was fabulous I thought.  Yesterday I was invited to upgrade to the new version on my iPhone so happily clicked on Install without a second thought!  Do you do that on your phone or computer?  This is a big NO-NO.  Always go read reviews's only there will you see one of two things, fantastic positive comments OR really nasty negative ones!

In this case the nasty negatives seem to be winning!
At first I was with them, disappointed that there were changes I thought unnecessary also.  I agree that the photos appear somewhat darker - something one can always change once they are on your computer - but today using the App I'm becoming more positive.  They have added four new filters and several other features.  I found that powering the iPhone down and restarting, per their suggestion, helped, and going online and reading more about the changes and how to use them efficiently has give me a new perspective. 

Anyway, I was almost not going to buy any pumpkins this Fall because I'll be away so long, however I couldn't resist just a few to pop into containers, especially my favorite white ones.

At the pumpkin patch I also found this unusual one which to me looks very 'shabby chic'.  It's a pale shell the color of a butternut squash, covered with what resemble barnacles.......quite different and I like it.

All photos taken using the Instagram App, version 2....and quite honestly I like them too.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

My special Autumn visitor................

The Autumn crop of acorns seems to be arriving pre-baked!  Perhaps our unrelenting heat, with many, many days above 100 degrees, stoked the stove and took it's toll on Nature's fruits and seeds.  They look so different this year - hardly a touch of green, mostly golden to deep rusty brown, expanded in girth..........ready-to-eat. 

I have a zillion squirrels in the garden.  I've always wondered why I never see a tiny baby one, they are always fully grown.  Glancing out the kitchen window this past week I did catch this little guy though. It was definitely teeny, perhaps half the size of the usual ones sitting and munching on the deck rail. 

I fell in love immediately, grabbed the camera, and quietly raised the window blind to get better shots.  He saw me, but didn't jump on the oak tree and skitter up the trunk like the older squirrels do.  He sat chewing on a piece of bread...........

............maybe pre-baked, ready-to-eat acorns were unappealing to a youngster with baby teeth.  He made eye contact with me.

I loved the 'littleness' of him, the tiny ears and paws, long whiskers, the beautiful very bushy tail gently balancing and then curling around him.................but what made him perfect was that bright and wonderful sparkle in his eyes.  In fact, he was so adorable I know I'll easily forgive him if and when I spy him on the bird feeders gobbling up the seed!!!

Do you enjoy watching squirrels in your garden or a park?  They are smart animals and always fun to watch at play.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Mornings will be changing soon........................

Moonflowers blooming at night

Remember I mentioned the Moonflowers curtaining the front porch.  Just a packet of seeds sown in Spring turned into a brilliant show, despite heat and drought - altho' I did hand water as much as I was able.  Moonflowers love sunshine for growth and the moon's light for blooming. Draping their bright green heart-shaped leaves around the posts, lanterns, grapevine balls, and the hanging ferns, they are enjoying these last days of Summer.  Being nocturnal flowers, they perfume the night air when the blooms open fully like bright white hankies, then curl inward with the arrival of early sunshine the next morning. 

The past few early mornings have not been very sunny making it possible to throw on a robe, grab the camera, then flit around the porch catching the blooms still wide open........................ 

................and yesterday I noticed they were reaching out to twine around the chandelier.  Had to put a stop to that so gently unwound them and tucked them back where they came from!

Soon I'll be taking the vines down - hard to do when they are still so lovely. Annuals in this area, they will die quickly when the first frosts come, looking sad and forlorn on the front of the cottage.  I'll not be home when those chilly nights arrive in October, so I must get them down. Come next Spring I'll plant again, Moonflowers and Morning Glories - big garden treasures from little packets of seeds.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Another burlap beauty..................

It's amazing how something this case a coffee sack, can be restored to a new life as something stylish for the home.  With burlap and rustic textured fabrics popular in interior decor these days, items such as chairs, ottomans, pillows, even draperies, seem to be popping up made from all types of crusty country fabrics.  I have my share of European grain sacks made into pillows strewn about on sofas and beds............and even the chair here at the dining room table has been upholstered in a beautiful sack I brought back from France.

The gorgeous coffee sack table runner was a recent unexpected gift made by my generous friend Vanessa.  She knows I love this look, and especially anything with writing ~ it's perfect on the farm table.
It's also responsible - at least for these photos - for a much-needed clearing of the table which seems to have become my desk. 

So, good morning from my blogging spot. I'm looking out at greening grass and thick Moonflower vines twining rampantly around the porch in their last Summer hurrah...........following a night of thunder and pouring rain.  I feel Autumn in the air at last.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

New fun with pics..................

Hey, not often, but sometimes I forget to take a camera along with me.  I've not been too excited using my phone as a camera...........until now!

I recently added the Instagram App to my's a lot of fun being able to shoot, edit with one click to use one of several vintage filters, and then e-mail it directly to my MacBook ready to post here......all within just a couple of minutes.

This one is of my dear friend Vanessa's lovely calm and relaxing room when I visited last week - two versions using different Instagram filters.

BTW, this exciting App is FREE - don't you love that part - and you can also send your pics to friends and family faster than the speed of light, or close to it!

These shots from around my house this morning may give you a good idea as to what's available if you use a smart phone and like to play with your photos without using a complicated editing program.  There is a normal setting but of course if you are a vintage freak and like slightly grainy, off-color, ragged edges, and film effects, as I do, I think you may want to add this Instagram App. Go ahead, have fun seeing your pics in a new way, fast.

P.S.  Anyone noticing the new way of enlarging photos to view - if you click on one the entire list shows up at the bottom and you can click on each one in succession.  Looks like Blogger's at it again, changes, always changes!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pull up a pumpkin........................

.............or even better, a pumpkin colored chair while you enjoy some pumpkin gazing!

Garden treasures  - SuzAnna's Antiques

It's that very colorful time of year, especially if you love plenty of orange to add to your Fall decor.  Yesterday, when I arrived at the Vintage Village, Sam was unloading an enormous delivery of fresh from the North Carolina mountains pumpkins.  For the next several weeks these beautiful pumpkins and gourds, soon to be joined by a huge selection of potted chrysanthemums, will be waiting for you.

Seems the hot, dry Summer was perfect for growing pumpkins - this has to be a bumper crop.

Plenty of interesting gourds and squash too.

You can't miss that huge box of white pumpkins, my favorite.  Other years I've had to search high and low for them - love them for my neutral decor - and now Sam has plenty.
If you're into pie and quick bread baking, the just picked flavorful 'pie pumpkins' will beat anything out of a can!

Sam deals in tons of old farm stuff - vintage and antique - his items are perfect for displaying pumpkins.

Sadly I will not be doing much decorating for Fall and Halloween this year because I'll be away for several weeks.  Lucky for you can stop by Sam's and grab my share!  
Think of me please...............perhaps on Halloween I'll be the one in the orange parka in the middle of the thousands of black and white penguins!

So, if you're within driving distance of Raleigh's Vintage Village on Durant Road, come on over to visit the many shops now located there...........even if it requires a quick brake and a U-Turn over the railroad track, it will be well worth it.  Pumpkins, flowers, still some local veggies, and so many fabulous antiques and vintage items for your home and garden, you'll be pleasantly surprised I guarantee it.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Wellies, galoshes, rain boots...........whatever

That lovely old song "Singing in the rain" always comes to mind when I see this colorful fountain at one of my favorite shopping malls.  On Friday I was there with my dear friend Vanessa, window shopping. Well we even did a little trying on of cute clothes in Anthropologie and checked out Urban Outfitters - fortunately the real rain held off.

Then yesterday, waking to heavy rain which lasted most of the day, and needed for our still dried up gardens so no complaining, I decided to be diligent about getting organized for the big adventure ahead.......where, although Summer, it will be wet and possibly quite cold as we near Antarctica. Here's a sampling of the clothing list received from the ship.....

Suggested Clothing & Equipment To Pack For Your Expedition

Parka - a warm, weatherproof expedition hooded parka will be awaiting you onboard - and you can take it home - (hopefully it will fit in the already stuffed duffel!).

Waterproof Rain Pants - wear these over your thermal underwear AND middle layer pants to stay warm and dry.

Footwear - you will need waterproof, knee-high rubber boots, about 2 sizes too big to accommodate 2 pairs of thick socks/boot liners (you step from the Zodiac boat into very cold water to access the islands).

Waterproof Gloves - worn over thin polypropylene gloves to facilitate operating a camera without exposing your hands.

Thermal Underwear - enough said!

Middle Layer Clothing - including pants, polar fleece etc.

Warm hat, neck tube and balaclava - to protect neck, face and chin.

....and the list goes on!

Are you laughing?  Yes this is me trying on some of my layers yesterday and choosing one of the most important items required.

Me in my perfect rain boots - glossy black, comfy and warm, and don't cost an arm and a leg!

Note the large boxes strewn about - lots of boots have been arriving via UPS.  My delivery guy must think I'm nuts ordering so much footwear, however it's the only way to make sure I get the right fit with all those cushiony socks, tucked in wool leggings, mid-layer pants, and then rain pants over the top!

I must tell you that the somewhat trendy British Hunter wellies are lovely and of course have the double Royal Warrant. Both the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh wear them around Balmoral and Windsor they trudge through British mud to the stables etc., however they are not perfect, especially in 2 sizes bigger than what one would normally wear about town.  I already have big feet in my normal size!  After mighty and marvelous Zappos (don't you love 'em!) sent me several pairs, I have to 'fess up and tell you I'm sticking with these, good old American  Land's End (all rubber boots are now made in China anyway, yes even pricey Hunters).  Not just because they're half the price, but because they are a wee bit lighter and more comfy in the heel area, and don't have those flimsy non-functioning, decorative buckles on the side like the Hunters - and I was concerned my much too expensive rain pants might get caught up on them and rip!

After deciding on the Land's End boots - somehow that name seems perfect for where I'm heading - I spent time outside in the rain toddling around the garden just to be certain I'd made the right choice. After all, when your feet hurt it's always so miserable and can ruin hiking and sightseeing. 

Fortunately, this first cooler day, with a much awaited touch of Autumn in the air, was perfect for trying on all this crazy expedition clothing........... 

..........and the next step, trying to figure out sensible but stylish outfits to take for 14 days of casual daily shipboard life and evening dinners!  Also, with several days in Australia, where it will be hot, at the end of the trip, we'll be needing Summer weight I'm not putting my shorts away yet.........and will be hauling not one but two duffels to accommodate so much stuff!

What's the craziest trip you've ever packed for - would love to hear your travel stories, and any tips you can share to make the going easier.........little black dress, lots of scarves, and chunky costume jewelry come to mind.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

To shop or not to's not really a question!

I'm already missing wearing my 'shopkeeper hat' and being considered a bit of an 'antiques dealer'. For the past year, these tags, lovingly made (recall my primer here for dyeing the very plain tags in leftover morning coffee, baking slowly to set aged wrinkles in the warm oven, then stamping and threading with silky cord) are now lying dormant with nothing pretty or elegant to dangle from!

All around my cottage I have many treasures found at SuzAnna's Antiques over the past several years when I was a happy shopper.   Then I decided to become more involved and rented a booth.  I then discovered I was shopping mainly for items to sell.........not bring home.  As much as enjoyed hunting for treasures to share with others, my home decorating projects came to a standstill with no time to wield paint brushes or revamp a room.  

Does this mean I can shop for my cottage again?  Yippee!  Only problem now is one of the major reasons I've had to give up my booth...........I'm off on some amazing trips in the upcoming months, so there still won't be much time for any shopping or painting around here for some time!

As for the tags - they'll be perfect on gifts so will be used up eventually. 
Thanks so much to all who supported my booth, either by purchasing something special for your home, or a gift, or for just stopping by to look and say nice things which made my efforts so worthwhile.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Late Summer Garden.................

I stepped onto the front porch this morning and took a breath.  It was oh so cool and lovely, a morning not seen in these parts in so long, perfect for some early watering before the heat returned. I dashed upstairs and grabbed my shorts and tank top, stepped into my flip flops, and hurried back to the porch with my first mug of strong black coffee.........and my camera.  Sipping in the cool sunshine, I walked about the front garden, checking what was left of Summer blooms.  I saw this moth perched on one of the last sunflowers facing east as the sun crept steadily up the Carolina blue sky..............then, turning to another flowerbed, I saw the bright squash blossoms and tiny pale green squash.

I didn't plant a single squash seed this Spring/Summer knowing I was going to be traveling, and that the heat index was to hover over 100 degrees most days.  In fact this was the first time in many years that we gave up the idea of a vegetable garden........and how we've missed a sun-ripened, juicy tomato and a handful of fresh beans at supper time!

So here we are, in our second week of September, seeing the first acorns drop and welcoming a few healthy looking Summer squash which arrived out of the blue. I heaped compost from our bin around the Peace roses before heading to the West end of July and can only surmise that there were seeds from last year ready to germinate in that rich soil once exposed to sunshine and warmth.

As we're always saying, Nature is full of surprise.  Hey, looks like I may get a few homegrown veggies after all!