Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Scribble Picnic. . . . . . . .SPICY!

A spice is a seed, fruit, bark, or other plant substance primarily used for flavoring, 
coloring or preserving food. Spices are distinguished from herbs, which are leaves, 
flowers, or stems of plants used for flavoring or as a garnish. . . . . . 

. . . . . . .the Scoville scale is a measurement of the pungency (spicy heat) of 
chili peppers, or other spicy foods, as reported in Scoville heat units (SHU), 
a function of capsaicin concentration. Capsaicin is one of many related pungent
 compounds found in chili peppers, collectively called capsaicinoids.
via Wikipedia

Personally, I often love to add spicy heat to foods by grilling or roasting peppers, 
the milder versions though, no Carolina Reaper, Nagar Viper or Trinidad Scorpion 
from the top of the Scovill Scale will ever rest on my chopping block! 
So, although I didn't illustrate Peter Piper and his "peck of pickled peppers". . . . . . 
I have this one lovely mild, spicy Piquillo red pepper to share.

While chatting about spicy pepper art for this week's SCRIBBLE PICNIC
 theme, I also want to share these fabulous Del-Destino Grilled Vegetables
 I found at Costco recently.
These jarred red Piquillo peppers, artichokes, zucchini and eggplant are great
to keep on hand, especially as I don't do much outside grilling in Winter.
 I had my personal, live-in shopper - Mr.Bob - return for a couple more jars
 to stock my shelf. 
I've already used over half of my first jar (the Costco offering is a 
gigantic 2lbs.8oz) on a homemade pizza topped with creamy Burrata, 
oven-roasted with fresh vegs (red onions, sweet potatoes, tomatoes) as a side, 
the leftovers then pureed into a veggie soup, and also in panini sandwiches with
 cheese and avocado.  
As suggested by the maker, the marinating oil in the jar makes a great
salad dressing - I added a couple of spoonfuls to a chipotle Ranch dressing
and it was so good.
Del-Destino Grilled Vegetables - a delicious spicy 
 addition to the kitchen pantry!

Off to visit Michael's weekly SCRIBBLE PICNIC to see what my art
group has come up with that's 'hot and spicy' on a cold winter's morning - always
 wonderful surprises from them.
Do stop by - and come join in, we'd love to have you.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Tenacity. . . . . . . . . .

~ Jordan Lake at dusk - January 2018 ~

We've had two days of soaking rain and leaden skies. The chilling wind 
brought down the last of the clinging leaves, flinging them across the
 sleeping lawn in a tenacious last-ditch effort to bring winter to its knees.

Today - the deepest 'Carolina Blue' sky ever? Maybe.
A beautiful backdrop to the bare trees.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Amaryllis - patience pays off. . . . . . . . . . .

Last evening. . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . early this morning!

Yes, the three lovely flowers are now fully open.
Just a few more hours, and in the dark of night, made such a difference.
Loved all the comments and tips you shared HERE regarding 
growing/caring for these stately, beautiful flowers, again thank you.
Here's hoping I can keep mine for many years as some of 
you have!
This morning it continues to rain and is very dreary outside 
the windows - but inside we have this beauty to enjoy.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Grateful. . . . . .

I appreciate your useful comments on growing my amaryllis bulbs.
 I'm still awaiting the third bud to open and will share a picture
 when that happens. Today is wet and dreary and promises to stay
 this way. No bright sunlight peering in the windows this morning.

Enjoy your Sunday no matter the weather.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Reaching new heights. . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . the amaryllis chronicle!

In November I purchased two amaryllis bulbs. 
I saw a large display of bulbs in plastic pots lined up inside the the garden
 center at Walmart. I often stop there to get bags of birdseed and a stack of suet
 cakes to keep the garden birds happy - their prices being affordable, unlike the
 more fancy specialty 'wildlife shop' nearby.
Hoping these two bulbs would grow and bloom for Christmas, I was disappointed 
when they didn't do anything but sit quietly planted, definitely dreaming,
 in their muddy pots. I moved them out of the way into the potting shed over the
 holidays, bringing them back to the dining room later when the temperatures
 plummeted below freezing.
One decided to get moving in early January, the other one is struggling 
and doesn't have a stem, just leaves, so may not bloom this year.

Early January
I decided a plain bamboo stake was not going to look elegant holding up this stately 
stem so used the dried garden twigs from my Christmas decor - tied loosely with string
 they have done a great job.
Reaching for the light - turning the pot daily to keep the stem straight!

Getting so tall!

January 19

I've taken a lot of photos of this spectacular bulb over the past couple of weeks. 
By last weekend it had reached 32 inches, taller than the dried twigs, and was
  begnning to open. It seems to grow more at night - each morning I 
rush to the room and am astounded at how beautiful it looks.

January 21
January 23
Such a huge change in two days!
January 24
January 25
Today - January 26
34" tall from bulb to top of center bud!

Oh yes, didn't tell you, both bulbs were supposed to have white blooms according to the tag!
Instead, this one unfurled into this unusual pale coral/salmon shade - quite lovely and 
totally unexpected. One more bud to open - Nature at her loveliest yet again!

Do you have stories/tips about growing amaryllis bulbs?
Have you been able to get them to re-grow a second year? 
Reading the instructions they should do that if cut down after
 flowering and stored correctly. I'll certainly try that later.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Scribble Picnic. . . . . . . . .Tablecloth

Michael's really got me hooked with these new year themes for SCRIBBLE PICNIC.
Today's offering of TABLECLOTH has brought back special childhood memories 
yet again.
Hope you check all the stories our group posts today.

Antique, French, hand stitched, rustic linen tablecloth.
My dining room photo edited to a sketch ~ water color pencils ~ and 
several versions because I love them all! 

I created this post on a snow day last week - had extra time and was
 suffering from 'cabin fever' by the third day!

Growing up in England after WWII there was a shortage of money for
 decorative refinements around our home, however I do recall we always had
 a table covering for mealtimes. 

My mother - a very 'house-proud' lady - and wonderful
 dressmaker/tailor, also did exquisite embroidery and cutwork on linen, so I'm
 sure we had her handiwork under our bowls of porridge for breakfast, and 
fish 'n chips with mushy peas, or baked beans on toast for supper! 
 Don't forget, food rationing continued for several years after the war ended, and
many foods were unavailable.
For the 'working class' (and aren't we all familiar with the British class system
 of the past, think Downton Abbey, Mr. Selfridge etc.), housing and jobs for men and 
women (my parents were both in the Royal Air Force) returning from war were 
hard to find, paychecks were small. 

There was a huge housing shortage following the war. 
Fortunately we were put on the list for a 'prefab' home on a new estate
 consisting of modular houses for those returning military men and women, 
their families, and people who had lost their homes
 due to bombing. We moved there around 1946 staying until 1951.
 That new little house with it's garden was like a palace to us. I can still recall
 so many of the details. . . . . including the kitchen table always with a pretty cloth.
If only I had photos from that time - guess a camera wasn't in my parents' budget!

Tablecloths have always been household items I enjoy - even ironing
 them is a quiet pleasure!
I have this rustic French linen cloth purchased at an antique shop when visiting
 my brother in Carcassonne; a blue check Indian Khadi cloth from Kerala
 which I watched being woven in Cochin and use in Summer in the gazebo; 
an olive printed Italian cloth from my Tuscany visit; assorted formal damask
 cloths for big holiday meals; and of course my late mother's beautiful
 hand sewn versions.

Hope you'll check all the stories our art group posts
HERE at the Scribble Picnic today - come join in, we'd love 
to have you.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Front porch 'restaurant'. . . . . . . .

I love this photo because I rarely see two of these little devils together in a
 cute pose like this!
A very quick move to the window with the camera and I caught them
 eating the seeds and crumbs offered to the birds.
They had a short fight on the rail first to decide who would eat, then the one on
 the right waited patiently for his turn. . . . . . . though there was little remaining 
as squirrels suck up their food like powerful vacuum cleaners!

Note, last week's 7" of beautiful snow is history and we are back to bare, brown, 
dreary and warm temperatures again in the winter garden.

A new purchase for the porch 'restaurant' - a birdseed bell covered with a rather 
cheapo type of seed - but I bought it specifically to spread with peanut butter for 
the birds. No sooner was it hanging when the Carolina wren appeared to check it out! 
 They are the most curious little birds.

The Carolina wren, sweetest little garden bird around here - always my favorite.

How are the birds faring in your area? 
 Thanks for helping them with food and water at this time year.

Monday, January 22, 2018

. . . . . . and the winner is. . . . .

. . . . . . . . blog friend LOREE who lives on the Mediterranean island of MALTA, 
a place where they never see snow-covered landscapes such as I'll view
 on this upcoming trip!

Congratulations Lorree - you were one of several commenters who guessed
Argentina and Chile, the two countries we'll be visiting on this expedition
cruise in March. Tossed those names in Bob's hat and he drew your entry this
 morning as we drank our first coffee, bleary-eyed and still in our pjs, haha!

Loree, please e-mail me your mailing address later and I'll be on the lookout
 for a little memento to send along from one of those two countries.

 Loree, a long time blogger, has just started a beautiful new
 blog titled - Sincerely Loree - this year. 
I'm sure you will love it. She's an excellent writer, shares great photos as well as
 the amazing history of her small island country which I visited last year.

Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

MS Hebridean Sky

Once again, Noble Caledonia will be transporting us, along with friends Paula,
 Kim and Rob, on this expedition to South America. 
The cruise is titled Patagonia & the Chilean Fjords - an Exploration of the Land of
 Fire & Ice from Ushuaia to Valparaiso.
Our ship will be MS Hebridean Sky, sailing to another of the wilder places on our planet.
 This rugged, hauntingly beautiful land of windswept pampas, hanging glaciers,
and tall mountain peaks, where wildlife abounds, will definitely be fascinating.

Thanks to all who left a comment. . . . . . .sorry you couldn't all win!
Anyone out there who's already visited this area and wants to add their stories
here would be welcome. . . . . . meanwhile I'm starting to choose warm/waterproof
 clothing to layer for the cold Zodiac rides ashore, along with something lighter 
to kick up my heels when trying to tango during our stop-over in Buenos Aires
 on the way south!