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!

Monday, September 25, 2017

HOME refresh - Part I -

This house - which I usually call "the cottage" due to it's compact size and my
 struggles to enclose it within an English-style garden (difficult here in this much too
 hot climate), is showing it's age, just like its occupants! Now thirty years old, the
exterior is looking somewhat dismal despite painting and fixing every 7 years or so.
Always something requiring attention with a house.

Moving to one-level condos, townhouses, smaller garden/no garden, even
 apartment living with no upkeep by us required, bring heated discussions.
For now we are staying here!

After spending the past several weeks getting estimates for wood repairs and
 repainting, we were somewhat shocked at the bottom line from
 individuals/companies who expected us to fork out money way 
beyond our budget, especially those who wanted a big percentage up
 front, yet would not provide proof of good work, insurance etc. 
Then along came a contractor acquaintance, Mr. B., actually a long time
 friend of our daughter and her partner.
After meeting with him and knowing we would be well taken care of - we
 decided to completely re-side the cottage in Hardiplank thus getting rid of all
 damaged/aging siding, then follow with a lovely new paint job.
Our contractor had just completed similar work on this house above - lower two
 pix - we were able to go take a look. Just happens the owners sold another home
 to our daughter last year so we knew they would not steer us wrong regarding
 the work done by Mr. B.  
We love the Hardiplank siding they used, it has a light woodgrain rather 
than smooth, and no dirt catching bead along the bottom edge of the board. 
Another plus when using this now very popular brand of siding, is that there
are no visible nails/holes as the boards are installed from the bottom up and
 nailed under the overlap. 
believe it has a 50 year warranty - repainting probably only every 15 years.
I think it will suit our style of house which is similar to the white house
 above with the same dentil molding and similar roof lines.
I hesitate in sharing these pix of the front beds - so sad looking!
The English garden, or whatever garden it was, has been cut down and dug out 
for the most part. Necessary to allow access to the house where wood repairs
are required, and of course making the painting much easier when the time comes.
I do think the hydrangeas will survive, and the climbing jasmines, but it will take a few
 years before they are lush and full again, and I will need to add some new shrubs later.

Well another week begins and I hear the workmen coming up the driveway.
More hammering, drilling and sawing ahead. Thankfully the weather is holding 
up but still very warm - so more chug-a-lugging bottled water by the guys -
my 'frig is well-stocked for the week ahead!
 We look forward to being back to normal by next week perhaps - and are
hoping Hurricane Maria stays away from here as she makes her way now
along North Carolina's coast and the Outer Banks.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Late Summer flowers, early Autumn days. . . . . . . .

No real signs of Autumn here in the southeast yet. . . . . still very hot and dry.
Autumn greetings to you my friends - my favorite season of the year, even though
 I'll be a year older in colorful October. . . . . . . and hopefully much wiser!

Things are crazy around the cottage as we finish up the first week of the 
the big exterior project.  Lovely to have a quieter day with no hammering, 
drilling, sawing. . . . . . and handsome, young, muscular men (sorry Bob!)
 playing country music and guzzling an unbelievable number of bottles of
 chilled water from my refrigerator.
 It has been 90F each day so can't say I blame them. 
It will all start all over again come Monday morning of course!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Hummingbird days. . . . . and the house project!

I cleaned out and refilled the feeder hanging on the front porch yesterday.
 It will be the last time for this year as these amazing tiny birds will be heading
 further south soon. . . . . also work has started on the exterior of the cottage
 so the feeder will have to be taken down. . . . . . . .more on that later.

We have a pair of ruby-throated hummingbirds flying back and forth - mostly when
 I pass the dining room window without a camera in my hand - of course! No other bird
 is as tiny, or flies backward like this one. It also hovers and flies up and down. I did
 manage to get these few half-way decent photos during the past couple of days.
Sometimes I sit outside on the porch but they aren't too happy when they see
 me and take off. They move so quickly, sometimes buzzing me with a soft
 chatter and whirl of those wings - they do not sing.
Weighing in at just 2-3 grams, it takes about five average-sized hummingbirds to
equal the weight of a single tiny chickadee! The heart beats an incredible 1,260 times
 a minute, it breathes 250 times a minute, and the wings flap 50-60 times a 
Above and below - Mrs. Hummingbird
Iridescent green back among the wet oak leaves.
Mr. Hummingbird - you can just make out his ruby colored throat which ends in a lovely scalloped design. 
I took this photo, one of my favorites, a couple of years ago. This female loved the
 morning glories clambering up the porch, and perched on them often.
  I often wonder if it's the same pair returning each summer, or perhaps their offspring.

Do you have hummingbirds in your garden?
I hope so as they so pretty to watch - if you're quick!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Scribble Picnic - Watch Out!

Watch where you're going!
Watch your step!
Watch your back!


So handsome, and always turning its head (270 degrees!),
watching with those amazing eyes!
When back in England a few years ago I visited the World Owl Centre
 (now called The Hawk and Owl Centre) at Muncaster Castle in Ravensglass, 
Cumbria, where I was able to take close up photos of the most beautiful birds.

For today's theme I immediately thought of the owl, always on the lookout, 
mostly for a meal of course!
I edited my photo back to a sketch in PicMonkey, then added color
 with watercolor pencils.
Be sure to visit Michael's SCRIBBLE PICNIC - I just know there will
be some interesting takes and great art for this thought-provoking theme.
Happy day!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Seeds forever. . . . . . . . .

Hmm! What's this I see?  Something new for breakfast.

Really amazing how one sunflower seed can grow into a strong, 6 foot tall sunflower with a
gigantic head full of another few hundred seeds - didn't stop to count but it certainly looks that many!

I've saved quite a few seeds which hopefully will germinate next summer - the
 remainder are feeding lots of garden birds and it seems the cardinals are really
 enjoying them the most.

Lovely sunflower season is over now. I've cut down all the tall stems and will
 look forward to planting again in that spot next year. 
They brought brilliant color and joy both to me, the neighbors, and even
 people just driving by.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Men of the World. . . . . . . . . . . .

You may recall, a couple of months back, I made a some collages
 of beautiful women I photographed around the world.
Today it's time to show some of the men I have also captured with
 my camera.

Remember travel can take you to wonderful places 
where you meet the most interesting people.
Bob and I had great conversations with many of these gentlemen
on our travels. Interaction with them in their homes across the globe
 certainly made each place even more memorable. 
 Kenya, Ireland, Sicily, Malta, California, Morocco.  

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The week is almost over. . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . and although still very warm here, autumn is in the air.

Early morning coffee in the gazebo yesterday.
 Time to put the summer decor away and bring out some autumn color.

This was one of those weeks. 
You know, THOSE weeks. 

The ones when you have a lot of crazy stuff going on, stuff you don't have much
 control over. For me, almost five hours (spread over three visits) in the dentist's chair 
was certainly exhausting. Meeting with four house painters for estimates
 was such a chore. Estimates are now in and the spread is so huge
it's going to take us all weekend to make a decision on whom we should hire 
for the job. 

At the end of the day you plop down in your favorite chair, with a glass of wine,
 hit the television ON button and just want to be taken away, somewhere, 
anywhere, to a place where things are calm and beautiful and you don't have to
 think about bad stuff. Best to stay away from any news channels, and instead look
 for cooking, decorating, history, and my favorites. . . . . . .nature/travel shows
 on PBS, all of which are comforting but interesting in times of stress and strife!

I bought some chrysanthemums to brighten the now bare front entry.

Around the cottage things are a mess as we had everything cut down
 in the front beds in readiness for the upcoming house painting.
  It looks desolate and sad but perhaps rejuvenation is required anyway.
Shrubs and vines were overgrown! Soil needs replenishing and new plants
 will go in later.    

Meanwhile another weekend is upon us. Whatever you have planned
I hope you have a great time.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Fall Fashions - adding color for cool days ahead . . . . . . .

I've never been a great lover of pink shades - for me and my clothes - but I really 
love this long magenta cardigan sweater in mohair.
It does dress up a pair of basic blue jeans (an article of clothing of which I've yet to
 find the perfect pair), and is perfect over this pretty print mimicking floral embroidery
 which is popular this season.

Fall dresses are pretty this season, and actually some look really comfortable to wear. 
This pink and gold print is beautiful on black.

You may have noticed how oversized sweaters continue to be popular. I have several
 from last Fall/Winter - being tall I can wear them. Many are being shown with light, 
sheer but lined, skirts rather than a trouser or skinny pant. This merlot shade is 
lovely in chenille.

Oh my, then there is this coat!
I would adore to have it in my wardrobe.
I can definitely picture myself wearing it to the theatre, perhaps over 
that dress above, and to Holiday parties on chilly December nights.
It looks rich and radiant in this beautiful shade of wine. . . . . . . . 
. . . . . . could it perhaps be an early Birthday present, hint, hint!
I did not see it in the ZARA shop I visited in Viriginia last week so
 think it must have just arrived.

ZARA - Autumn 2017 Collection