Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Monument, the Cathedral, and the Shop. . . . . . . . .

This weekend. . . . . 

. . . we're in Washington D.C. - where it's very, very chilly 
and the cherry blossoms aren't blooming yet.

 We peeked in here where we were married fifty years ago!

We visited the most beautiful antiques shop . . . 
can't wait to show you more soon.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Tulips and a celebration. . . . . . . .

We had a few showers and they certainly gave the tulips a much needed boost.
With warmer days, some sunshine, and now a good watering, they are
opening and gaining height. Most of mine are in pots and it appears that
the pink ones are blooming first.

We're driving to Washington D.C. today to enjoy a weekend of celebration - it's 
a big anniversary for us. We met, and were married in D.C. and we love to return 
and spend time just wandering around to see what's changed.
I'm planning to meet one of my favorite bloggers on Saturday. He has the 
most beautiful shop. . . . .I'm hoping he'll allow me to take some photos to 
share with you later.

Enjoy your Spring weekend.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Scones in a pinch. . . . . . . .

If you like freshly baked scones with your afternoon tea (and that's the way 
they should always be served, they're not so good when a day old!) 
 or even earlier in the day, perhaps for 'elevenses', that truly British 
mid-morning break when a nice cup of tea or coffee fills the gap between 
breakfast and lunch . . . . . . here's a suggestion.

Give Sticky Fingers a try - that cute little bag of ready-to-bake scone mix which comes
 in several flavors. These made recently were cranberry, delicious right out of the oven 
and drizzled with a little lemon icing I made. (Just confectioner's sugar and pure lemon 
juice mixed until smooth and the right consistency for drizzling). Split and buttered
they're even better.

As you can see I have a couple more flavors on hand for future teatimes - do stop 
by if in the neighborhood - when a bite into something quick and sweet from the 
oven is needed.
After kneading lightly, I usually pat my scone dough into a circle on a cookie sheet,
scoring it into eight wedges so that they pull apart and have softer edges,
preferring these to round scones. When time permits I make my own from scratch 
with fresh fruit such as strawberries. I love a savory version made with whole 
wheat flour, adding grated Cheddar cheese and scallions or black olives - 
the perfect accompaniment to a bowl of good homemade soup.

Have you hopped aboard the scone bandwagon? 
Do you have a favorite recipe to share?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Long Awaited Spring Day. . . . . . . . .

It was a lovely day - started cool and sunny, warming up enough by 
mid-afternoon for Bob to cut the grass for the first time this year.
Trees not yet showing much green, but blossoms are blowing 
gently in the breeze. 
I checked the azaleas but they are sad looking with few buds. 
Perhaps the usual Easter waves of bushes in typical southern 
gardens, smothered in pink, purple, red and white, 
will not happen this year after the frigid weather last month.

My heartfelt condolences go out to all the families and friends 
of the people who died in the terrible plane crash today in the 
French Alps. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Springtime at SuzAnna's Antiques. . . . . . . . . . .

Yesterday, a cool and breezy but bright sunshiny day, I stopped by SuzAnna's Antiques 
when I was doing a late afternoon run for a few groceries from Trader Joe's. 
People were out - gals shopping diligently now the 'decorating gene' has been 
kick started with the better weather, a few husbands and boyfriends tagging along, 
such as mine - husband, not boyfriend of course! 
Kids were playing around the Vintage Village complex and all in all 
everyone seemed cheery now that Spring is here. 
Granddaughter Jasmin was working at SuzAnna's - her smile is always 
enough to make me happy - come rain or shine.

So I looked around, not for anything in particular as I have no pressing interior projects 
planned for Spring. The exterior such as porch, deck, gazebo and garden need mainly
manual labor and TLC rather than decoration this year - enough said on that daunting subject! 

Of course I took a few photos to share with you as many of you love antiquing, thrifting
and treasure hunting.

The Easter decor was arriving and there will be a lot more displayed this coming week.
I have my collection of white rabbits out of storage and will be playing with 
them soon.

These vintage extension rules I almost brought home!  Bob slapped my hand 
as I reached for them and told me I didn't need them. 
Of course I really don't, but they are so neat and reminded me of the one 
my parents used for measuring when I was growing up.

I do love the pair of lamps. I didn't read the tag so not sure of the style - classical, 
art deco? They are in great condition though and would be so attractive 
in the right room.

Lovely glass dessert bowls - makes one thinks of whipping up a fluffy mousse, 
or later churning some homemade ice cream - do you do that!

Hats? No, Easter bonnets!
Never thought of using a chandelier as a hat rack - how perfect. 
These were really pretty 'bonnets' and, as I love hats, I slapped my own hand 
before reaching for one. 
I really think the woven straw cloche is awesome - I can see Lady Mary
or Lady Edith wearing this one on a Spring day around the spectacular grounds 
of Downton Abbey. Do you agree? 
Do you wear hats?

That was a quick walk through SuzAnna's Antiques. Now the weather is warming 
I'll get back more often. The merchandise changes rapidly at this very popular 
venue - if you see something you like, don't wait because it will probably be 
at somebody's home later today.

If you're a 'treasure hunter' I hope you will enjoy some Spring days 
out and about at your favorite places soon.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Just thinking about nesting. . . . . . . . . .

With the official first day of Spring now here. . . . .I've been thinking.
Mostly about the garden which requires a lot of sprucing up and TLC, and 
about the bird population which seems to be ever increasing around here.
It's a good thing! 

I need to start dragging home large bags of mulch to replenish the sad looking beds.
The sun has just popped out so it may be a good afternoon for a garden center
visit - with the temperature due to hit mid-60's.

Will there soon be more tulips?  This is the first and probably an old bulb, 
the stem and leaves are very short. Last Fall's planting are all in large pots 
and just coming up. . . . . . I hope they will be tall and strong, able to wave 
to passersby in the March winds.

Does my year-round robin, sitting in the fig tree, and whom I now think is a 
female, have a gentleman caller at long last? Is she playing hard to get? 
Will there be a nest construction project in the near future?

Note the suet cage on the ground - each time we fill it some animal, probably 
a raccoon, takes it down, opens it up, and has a greasy midnight meal.
Our woodpeckers are getting really upset!

Talking of nesting - will our longtime porch-living wren family be building again this Spring? 
I've already seen one checking the window box but still too cold and a bit early perhaps 
to start on construction.
My lovely blog friend Deb at Just Cats in still really snowy/chilly Ontario, Canada, 
has a great idea which I must share, and will be doing too as I already 
have the suet cage. Hopefully raccoons will steer clear!
She fills her cage with leftover scraps of yarn cut into 2" pieces, and even cat hair from 
her beautiful kitties - all of which nest building birds will pull out and use. 
Other bloggers, in their comments to Deb, also share the bits and bobs they 
put out for their birds, including lace. 
How lovely is that, a tiny bird weaving delicate lace through a twiggy nest.
 I usually tuck chunks of dryer lint into places on the front porch, and will be starting 
this again after my next laundry load - I have seen the lint used in the nests in our garden.

Hyacinths are late blooming this year too.  These will be pink and pretty, but blue
are my favorite - perhaps I can find some at the garden center for the dining room table 
Easter vignette. I love their fragrance
The white rabbits are ready, out of storage, and waiting for their place in the sun, and 
with Easter coming early I must stop thinking and get to work.

So dear friends, a very happy beginning of springtime. 
May your days get warmer, your blossoms bloom, your birds find mates, 
build pretty nests, sing early in the morning to start your day joyfully,
(notice how much louder they are singing now),
 and the real bunnies stay away from your lettuce!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Mug shots . . . . . . . .

Do you start your day with a mug of coffee?
I don't think I can get going without mine - just strong black coffee from
the beans I usually grind every few days. I have the coffeemaker ready to go the 
night before and push the start button as soon as I hit the kitchen. I don't add a 
thing, guess it's my daily wake up call and I have no inclination to change it.

However, when it comes to coffee mugs, sometimes I do make a change.

This lovely mug was a birthday gift last October from my 
granddaughter Jasmin. Here I displayed it in the fabulous vintage display 
dome she also gave me on that same occasion.
This is the perfect mug for me - large, white, and has a memorable
word ~ CALM ~ inscribed on it. It's a comfy mug to hoist even when full of 
strong java, the handle just right, and the free form design is a little edgy which 
I really like.

Since acquiring CALM for my morning coffee I've grown a small collection!
Now and then I stop by a HomeGoods store just to "look around". Don't we all plan 
to do that, but then end up making a purchase as they have such neat stuff.

So I've now added RELAX, CREATE and DREAM to my mug collection.
I'll continue searching for at least one more word - I like odd numbers.

Do you have a favorite mug? 
Do you use it daily - and what do you take in your coffee?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A small but beautiful tree. . . . . . . . . . .

Yesterday the official temperature reached 82F here in Raleigh ~ quite a 
hot pre-Spring day.
Being St. Patrick's Day there were many short sleeved Kelly green t-shirts visible ~
both on the street and the outdoor patios of restaurants and watering holes.
'Erin go Bragh' was heard on tongues not necessarily Irish. Seems we are all 
suddenly Irish on March 17.

The subject of this post is really my precious Tulip magnolia (Magnolia liliiflora)
which suddenly showed color in yesterday's sunshine. 
Petals burst through, and the fuzzy buds took on a beauty all their own. 
No longer the tiny shrub I planted a few years back, this baby is now a small tree. 
Native to southwest China ~ Sichuan and Yunnan ~ but cultivated for 
centuries elsewhere in China and Japan.
A deciduous small tree to about 12 feet tall, smaller than other magnolias, 
it blooms profusely in early Spring with large pink to purple showy flowers, 
before the leaf buds open. . . . and I love it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Spring Magazine Swap . . . . . . . .

How's this for being spoiled!  
I took part in Lorrie's spring magazine swap recently and my partner 
was my long time blog friend Maggie who lives in Normandy, France. 
Maggie asked if I'd prefer a French or English magazine (we're both originally 
from the UK) and I immediately requested my favorite French publication
I used to have an annual subscription to this beautiful magazine and I may
just get one again - it has excellent photography, hardly any advertising,
 and although my French is pretty awful now, I can still read quite a lot 
of the articles.
Also in my parcel was the wonderful UK magazine HOMES & ANTIQUES.
I love this issue as there are interesting articles as well as pages of 
beautiful antiques and decor. I particularly enjoyed reading the history of 
antique pocket watches - the most expensive one ever auctioned sold for over 
twenty two million dollars - that is some timepiece.
Maggie's postcard of the French rooster painting is so pretty - and be assured the 
candies were yummy! Thanks for everything Maggie and for being a great 
blog friend all these years.

You can find the lovely Lorrie on Vancouver Island, Canada at her beautiful 
blog Fabric Paper Thread, always a joy to read. Thanks for organizing the 
swap Lorrie.

Maggie's fun blog is Normandy Life and she is currently visiting here 
in the US. We decided to mail our magazines to each other here rather 
than send them across the pond. I'm hoping Maggie will enjoy reading 
her magazines while enjoying the view from her beachfront condo.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

Monday, March 16, 2015

Learning to share in bird land . . . . . . .

The beautiful Northern Flickers are still around and I was thrilled to get this shot of 
one with an Eastern Bluebird perched close by.
Later there was a bit of a skirmish at the suet feeder on the fig tree when the 
European Starling returned after a long absence, pushing and shoving the Flicker off. . . . . 
. . . . . but he waited whilst the Starling nibbled for a couple of minutes.
Waiting patiently for his turn - displaying his lovely golden yellow tail and 
under wing feathers, and the speckled pattern on his breast.
Above - Mrs. Northern Flicker
Here the pair are hanging out together, male on the suet, female 
close by - the only time I've actually seen them both together around the feeders.
I didn't even know she was there until I loaded the pic on the laptop!

If you're wondering about the rust colored leaves in March - we have a small oak 
tree which hasn't shed its leaves yet, and a still-with-leaves maple behind the fig. Once 
the new buds are formed they will both drop their leaves and we'll be raking again, but 
hopefully under a spring green canopy.