Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Halloween 2017. . . . . .

~ Halloween night  ~

Wishing you a night full of scary moments, goblins, witches and ghosts
at your door, no smashed pumpkins. . . . . . . . . . and lots of sweet treats.
Trick or treat?

Monday, October 30, 2017

Thankful for no serious injuries . . . . . . .

It was not a great weekend for us.
Yesterday we were involved in an accident, a hit and run!
My car was not hit but granddaughter Jasmin was behind me in her car. 
We were both stopped for a traffic light when a crazy driver came up behind her 
at a high rate of speed, weaving, not braking, and crashed into her rear! 
Thankfully she is apparently not hurt, and somehow her car missed hitting mine
 by about 2 inches, so we are OK too! Her car is another matter and we are
 hoping it can be repaired.

BUT. . . . . .here's the amazing part, this insane driver threw his vehicle into reverse
after hitting Jasmin, screeched backward across the road, turned and took off,
 leaving part of his front grille, headlights and other debris in the road behind us!
Insurance - doubtful, and probably why he left the scene.
Inebriated or texting, possible.
It all happened in what seemed the blink of an eye.

We three stood for almost an hour in the rain awaiting the Police.
Later Bob and I drove around in hopes we'd find the damaged car parked
somewhere, but didn't.
Just thankful we have no visible injuries, especially Jasmin,
but our stress levels are definitely up.
Thinking how driving is no longer a pleasure within the city.

I'm thinking of staying home today where the most dangerous thing is a kitchen knife!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Pumpkin and pies. . . . . . . . . . .

This is what's sitting on my coffee table today. . . . . . . 

. . . . . . . one of my favorite birthday gifts, this amazing recipe book. 
Again, my granddaughter Jasmin picked something perfect for me.  
Looking through this beautifully styled book this morning I was
 completely in awe. 

If you're not familiar with Linda Lomelino's baking, and her amazing
 photography, be sure to visit her beautiful blog

Linda has taken self-taught culinary skills, and enhanced her basic,
 high school photography classes, to produce an amazing body of work
 ~ on her blog, and in her gorgeous books ~ from her Swedish kitchen.
I admire these young people who follow their passions and dreams. . . . . . 
and I can't wait to try some of the recipes.

Enjoy another lovely autumn weekend.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

HOME for my Birthday!

I've enjoyed doing a makeover of our living room over the past few months.
Replacing the 'shabby chic white' look with lots of color has been fun.
I'll share more of the changes later.

This year I'm enjoying celebrating my Birthday here at home today.
No big trip to a faraway place as in several past years.
Speaking of 'years' - they are flying by fast now that I'm in my seventies,
 but I'm very thankful for every single one.

A beautiful sunny day here, starting out cool and crisp, promising to 
be calm, warm, and as perfect as a late October Birthday can be.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Scribble Picnic . . . . . . . . BOO!

This week's theme for Scribble Picnic is BOO!

A little help from PicMonkey and my colored pencils enabled me
 to come up with a fun version of Halloween night when a favorite
 word will definitely be BOO!

I no longer do a lot of outdoor Halloween decor - remember I'm trying to
 scale back on stuff which requires storage.
So this year, mostly real pumpkins and candles tucked safely inside lanterns
 so the little Trick or Treaters can see their way up the front steps for their
 candy treats on Halloween night next week.
Stop by Michael's SCRIBBLE PICNIC today - I just know there will
 be some scary looking art from our talented group.

Monday, October 23, 2017

A new little one - - - - - -

 A big question for us has always been "why do we never see any baby squirrels in
 our garden?". 
We have dozens of these furry creatures who nest in our big oaks, then appear
 at the feeders, chase one another up, down and around tree trunks, sit on our
 deck rails gnawing through iron-hard hickory nuts, bury acorns hither and thither, 
drink from the birdbaths, clatter across the cottage roof etc. . . . . . but they're 
always fully grown, some very old with battle scars and sometimes even
 open wounds. . . . . . we've just never seen a cute little new one. . . . . 

It's hard to show a size comparison because this little guy always comes to eat
 alone - no parents, siblings or buddies apparently.  He/she is about half the
 size of the adults so I'm presuming perhaps several months old. I can walk up
 close while it nibbles on bird seed and crumbled suet cake (have not seen it try
 to tackle the feeders yet!), then it runs to this tree trunk and hangs out until I 
move away, then back to nibble the seeds. Talking to it doesn't scare it away
 either, it seems to listen intently to all I say!

This cutie is the perfect little bright-eyed grey squirrel - no cuts, scrapes, 
missing chunks of fur . . . . . . . and sports a beautiful bushy tail.

Of course I know it will grow larger and look just like all the other squirrels out
 there - but I do hope I can continue to recognize it and that it will stay in our garden.
I'm scattering a few tasty nuts under the feeder - perhaps it will then
know it's very welcome.

I'm thinking of a name for this new visitor - any suggestions?

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Pumpkin Squash Pasta. . . . . . . . .

Friday I made a great, quick and easy dish calling for pumpkin or squash.
I actually used what I'm calling a 'pumpkin squash', a bit of a rogue harvested
 from the fields of our farm friends, the Johnsons, where we visited a few weeks ago.

Apparently this year, one of their regular pumpkins also grows this curvaceous beauty
on the same vine!  Similar to a butternut squash but easier to cut through for me.
All seeds are in the bulbous end so with such a long neck you get a lot of
flesh from there. The flavor is mild so I roasted along with chopped garlic, 
red onion and a couple of slightly hot peppers from my neighbor's garden.
Tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper, 40mins. in the oven brought all the
flavors together nicely.

I cooked a short pasta, Garafolo brand from Naples which I really like, added just 
enough of the excellent pumpkin and butternut squash sauce - a real steal from
 Aldi - freshly chopped parsley still being snipped from the garden, toasted
 chopped walnuts, topped with creamy burrata cheese and course some
grated parmigiano reggiano.

We enjoyed this meal immensely - along with a robust red wine - in the gazebo on
 what was a perfect autumn evening. Nothing stirring but the numerous late diners
 at the bird feeders, a few squirrels enjoying the seeds on the ground, and the
 sunset glowing in the west beyond our huge oaks.

We have a new little friend in the garden - I'll share some photos soon. 
Last evening, while relaxing on the front porch at dusk, we had a huge rabbit
 sitting in the center of the lawn when a young fox passed by within yards of it,
 not even giving the rabbit a second glance, thankfully!

Hope you're enjoying your weekend and have good weather to
get outside and revel in autumn's beauty. We worked endlessly in the 
garden both Friday and Saturday in what currently is perfect weather, so 
evening relaxation has been extra special here at the cottage.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Scarves, wraps = elegant, inexpensive warmth. . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . a new season of dressing has arrived.

My neighbor and friend said she was busy
 "getting her scarves out" which made me realize
 those cozy necessities for autumn/winter days
 and evenings are longing to be pulled from drawers
 or storage boxes NOW!  
So I'm packing away my light silk and linen scarves 
of summertime, and organizing the pile of pashmina,
 woven wool, hand knit, and cashmere.
Makes me happy - nothing lovelier than a beautiful
warm scarf to wrap, wind, toss about the neck,
 around the shoulders, even over a jacket or coat.
Here are a few new favorites I would love to have.

Are you a scarf person?  
About how many do you have?
Own up now - I must have at least fifty - and always want more!
Thankfully, inexpensive beauties can be found, although every 
gal needs at least one in pure cashmere - add to your 
wish list now!

Do you knit scarves?  They are my go to cool weather
craft - always have one easy pattern (so I don't have to look
 too closely) on my knitting needles so I can do something
 worthwhile when watching TV, and keep my old fingers moving.
How about you?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Scribble Picnic. . . . . . . Fill in the Blank

. . . . . . . . I craved one for a while. 
Then I wanted grey. 
Now, I'm not up for a kitchen remodel/upheaval at all - so will stay with 
my original natural wood cabinets, enjoy them, save thousands. . . . . 
and guess what, brown wood is being loved again!

This week's theme for Michael's Scribble Picnic is
Fill in the Blank.  There's a choice of two shapes, as my screen shot
above shows (I'm using the version on the right), and you get to see our 
 handsome host Michael too!
Like me, he's a British ex-pat so we have a lot in common, despite
  the fact I'm old enough to be his grandma! We love, tea, toast, marmalade
Victoria sponge cake ~ and Bob and I are hoping next year to meet up with
 Michael and his lovely, talented illustrator wife Alexandra, to sip and nibble
 while we talk about England.

Come and join us on Scribble Picnic days - you don't have to be
 an artist per se. I'm definitely not, just give your creative side a little push,
 it's fun, and you meet other creative people from around the world,
 thanks to Michael!

A chill in the evening air. . . . . . . . .

Midtowne, Raleigh, NC 

Last evening the sunset was amazing.
Walking to a restaurant, then doing a 
little shopping in our neighborhood, we
at last felt a difference in the air.
Bring on autumn. . . . . . . sweaters, jackets, harvest moons,
pumpkins, goblins, falling leaves, warm and fuzzy friends, 

~ via Anthropologie ~

~ via Anthropologie ~

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 ~