Monday, April 30, 2018

Night-scented stock . . . . . . .

Can you smell the fragrance?  
The night-scented stock Matthiola longipetala  has such a memorable perfume.
I haven't grown them for many years but when I find them at the store - these are from
 Trader Joe's - I grab a couple of bunches to bring home. That lovely fragrance
 immediately reminds me of my mother's garden long ago in England, a place
 I reveled in during childhood.

The dining room table is looking quite 'green' with the remaining stems of the
 amaryllis still growing. . . . . later they will be cut back and the bulbs dried for a replant,
and hopefully a rebloom come winter. 
Then there's the pot of fresh basil picked up at Lidl last week - I've been snipping
 leaves to add to recipes. . . . . . . a taste of Summer already! 
The lovely purple stocks, greenery added from the garden.

Ahead are several days of major Spring Cleaning - once the pollen is done.
This year brought an exceptionally heavy pollen season - especially oak.

Washing all the china takes time - some days I think about disposing of 
many of the dishes but haven't quite reached that point and so they remain!
Actually I enjoy spending a couple of hours washing and drying them, by hand
 of course as many are antique and fragile, and replacing them all clean and
gleaming. Many of you also collect dishware, antique, vintage, even new - I've
 seen your stunning tablescapes and china cabinets.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Hair and Summer travel. . . . . . . . .


I'm in the mood - on a search - for a new Summer hat.

I'm growing my hair longer and it's a painful process! It's seems to be
 taking forever to get to a manageable length, plus, for the first time in
 my life, after years of stick straight hair, it's going wavy. 
I've been having the tiniest trim bi-monthly to keep the ends blunt
and healthy. I just don't want to look like an old woman who's not 
caring for her hair.

Why on earth would someone of my advanced age even want
longer hair you ask. It's usually the time when we women are 
expected to have a short, easy wash 'n go style.  Well you
may recall I tried that a few years back, not me at all, and 
in fact I had to fiddle with that style even more than my 
ear-length classic bob which I've had forever!

This time it's more a question of holding onto the hair I have remaining - removal
of my thyroid 2 years ago, now being on permanent thyroid medication, and a 
scalp condition, have all brought about hair loss. . . . . . . and this makes me sad
as I always had a thick head of hair.
Currently I no longer wash and blow dry daily to hopefully keep hair loss at a
minimum. Last year I decided to grow my hair to a length where hopefully
 I can at least tie it back on hot summer days and not have to worry about styling
it with products and more heat.
I don't think I'm anywhere near a ponytail yet, however I've come this far 
so will keep going a while longer. . . . . . . . unless I have a hissy fit one morning,
jump in the car and go get it cut off again!


Fortunately I do LOVE hats and have many.
But I'm looking for another after seeing these two - I really love
them - and am heading out to H&M and Anthro later today to see if 
by chance they're in stock in my local stores. 

Love this outfit but it would be even better, and safer, with a
beautiful hat to ward off the rays!

We'll be off on the road this Summer doing what we 
promised ourselves, more USA travel to places in this
beautiful country.  We've visited all 50 states however 
there are plenty of places in those states we would love 
to see again, and some new areas where we've yet 
to leave a gentle footprint.

The way we used to fly off into the wild blue yonder!

So dear readers, any hair length stories to share - long, short, in between?
How about turning grey or coloring - or shall we leave that part for 
another post?

Are you traveling, flying this Summer?
Do you plan ahead diligently like my hubby - who should find a second career
 as a travel agent - or just 'fly by the seat of your pants' (read the history of this phrase)!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Scribble Picnic - Quilts

Photo of quilt edited to a sketch - watercolor pencils
 for a little color.

I think the only item I've never made which required needle skills,
has to be a quilt!
I do love quilts and admire the beautiful ones designed and sewn by
quilters from around the world. . . . . . .but somehow I never had the 
time to take up quilting along with all the other dressmaking, sewing, 
knitting, embroidering, cross stitching etc. which I've done since a young
girl. I no longer do much sewing due to changes in my eye sight limiting 
 close up work. . . . . .plus my old Singer needs maintenance. 
I do knit, mostly evenings whilst watching a TV series or a movie. I feel
 better knowing I'm still creating something rather than just being glued to a
 screen for hours. I knit just simple items which don't require fancy patterns.

My favorite small quilt, the size of a throw, is one I bought several years ago
when I was doing a makeover in this guest bedroom and going for
a French country look. It's just two shades of cream and beige - nice with
the linens and vintage heavy linen bolster and pillow covers I brought back
from Provençe.

The toile fabric, even though machine quilted, is a nice addition on a cool night.

Glad Michael is back again and we can get together for 
Scribble Picnic this week.

Head over to see what the group has come up with - we 
may even have some talented Scribble Picnic quilters sharing their 
personal handiwork! 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Not a cheerful Monday outside . . . . . . . . .

Heavy rain for the entire day along with boisterous, gusting high winds this morning.
Twigs, catkins, even small branches showering down on the roof. . . . . . . . . and
 with our big old trees I get nervous in storms such as this!
I'm sure many of the now full blooming azaleas and 'snowballs' will take a beating.

 I've started a small vegetable plot. On Sunday, my neighbor was kind enough to
 till up this old bed where we grew tomatoes for several years - but haven't used
 for the past few summers. The soil seems great and looks healthy - a few
 tomato plants, perhaps a couple of peppers and an eggplant should do well.

The potting shed is so useful and often hides surprises!

On our recent trip to see friends in the Charlotte, NC area, we found this 
birdhouse to replace the very old one now falling apart on the post in the 
front garden. We've had a new post put in but won't exchange the houses
until the current nesting 'homeowners' have moved out with their 
offspring. Love this one because the whole roof can be lifted off and the 
six compartments are attached so can be cleaned out easily at the end
 of each nesting season. The bright copper roof - covered for transport
 to prevent fingerprints - will eventually weather to a lovely patinaed green.

. . . . . and last, but by no means least, let me introduce Gruff.

This cutie pie came over with my neighbor, and whilst tiling the garden bed we
 became good friends. Gruff was here for the weekend whilst his very lucky owners
 were away, and I just have to say he is the friendliest, best behaved, obedient little
 dog I've ever met. I fell for him big time, did a little photo shoot, and am trying to
find out what breed - or perhaps mix - this lovely boy is. 
Anyone have an idea? He's 8 years old, never barked, did as he was told 
with just a few words, and loved to cuddle.

Hopefully my neighbor will mind Gruff more often so I can spend
more time with him!

So what to do on such a bad weather day?
I have plans. . . . . . . so must away.

Have a good week dear readers. . . . . . and tomorrow I think Scribble Picnic
 will be back so please stop by here again - the theme is Quilt(s).

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Now there are four. . . . . garden looking good!

Mama finch was busy again yesterday afternoon. In fact, get this, I 
think I saw her actually laying her egg!  She didn't fly out when I looked
out the window like she usually does, and she had her beak open
 as if straining! There were still just three eggs in the late
 morning but when I looked after watching her, there were four!
The little nest is certainly getting crowded.
How she will manage to sit on so many eggs is a mystery, plus she's
extremely skittish, flying off each time we open the front door and
even when we just walk past the dining room window.

The finch nest is in the hanging fern closest to the porch steps.

We had quite a busy garden morning yesterday, chatting with passing neighbors
enjoying the lovely day, checking on the new shrubs planted Friday, adding more
 mulch, watering plants. . . . . .

. . . . . . . and washing off our pollen-covered cars - sitting in the road here while Bob 
was cleaning off the driveway.
Note the vining plants were removed from the arbor when the cottage 
was re-sided/painted late last summer, hopefully they'll show some 
new growth soon.

I cleaned out the gazebo (it will need a heavier clean once the pollen
 has ended come early May) and washed all the cushions so we can sit 
out there during these lovely mild, sunny weekend days. We plan to
spread new, fresh-looking cypress chips around the flagstones as we 
skipped that chore last year with so many other outdoor repair jobs being 
done to cottage and gazebo.

Rain expected in the coming week so may not be doing much in the garden -
so then I'll get back to work on posts from our Patagonian expedition!

Hope your weather is allowing outdoor activities this weekend.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Saturday, a foodie day and post -

Good fresh food, a necessity of life, is something we all enjoy, right?
Sadly, sometimes it's not healthy, and now and then it's downright dangerous!
The latest scares here in the USA are about eggs and Romaine lettuce.

Below you will see why I'm not at all concerned about my eggs. . . . . but
Romaine, probably my favorite leaf lettuce because I'm addicted to Cesar 
salads, will be missing from my refrigerator for some time. Salmonella (the 
egg scare) and E. coli (now covering all Romaine including whole heads as
 well as pre-chopped in bags) are both illnesses nobody wants to have - the
 latter of course being life-threatening in severe cases.

So, here's to ways of solving food contamination - we need to be sure what we
 eat is safe. Probably the only way to be 100% regarding veggies and fruits is to
 go back to growing our own - possible for some people, not so for others.
Today I'm looking for Romaine lettuce seeds and may give growing some
a try - I do have garden space so no excuses for me.

 Meanwhile, imagine my joy at finding these yesterday - freshly picked 
local North Carolina strawberries from just south of Raleigh. . . . . . .
. . . . . . and how delicious compared to the long distance ones transported 
and chilled for days before arriving at the grocery store.
The farmer selling these shows up each Spring at his 'patch' next to a 
nearby gas station. . . . . . and he told us this year's crop, despite a chilly
March, is going to be great and he will have fruits until early June.
Note he uses recyclable paper punnets, not those awful plastic clamshells.

Bob and I are back on a Muesli kick. I prepare it the night before with 2% milk
and a dash of orange juice and refrigerate.
We always enjoy this type of cereal on board ships - they seem to make the
 best (perhaps as the chefs are usually European where people love Muesli) - and
 we feel we are getting our daily does of goodness in this morning bowl. 
I usually add other things to my boxed mix (currently an excellent German one
with almonds, hazelnuts and raisins - purchased from Aldi), such as chopped
 dried apricots or prunes, oat bran, turmeric, chia seeds. . . . . and of course today 
the strawberries that taste like strawberries should, and Bob will always add fresh blueberries. 
A small dash of heavy cream just prior to eating makes it rich,
 but I never add sugar!

The beautiful eggs - oh how I absolutely love these.
Joan, a member of my Tai Chi class (and yes, I've just graduated from 
Beginners class and am now in Continuing) has chickens and sells 
these perfectly healthy eggs.  She brings them to class 'unwashed' but they
 are this clean so she must keep a fastidious chicken coop, and says 
this way allows you to use them for up to 2 months even if kept unrefrigerated.
One should always rinse eggs just prior to using, but of course you know the 
store-bought ones are washed as most people don't want dirty looking eggs,
something we've been brain-washed about in modern life.
Joan also told me the names of which chicken laid which color egg - and I
have to say they are the best tasting eggs I've had in a long time. 

Last but by no means least - pots of fresh basil are now coming into stores,
  I found this pot at Lidl on Thursday.  I've already cut several pieces and put into
 water to root on the kitchen window sill, later I will transfer them to a pot.
Soon I'll be planting basil seeds in large pots for my own harvest later in
 Summer. . . . .tomatoes, pasta, pizza, soups and salads all need to be
 enhanced by this wonderful Mediterranean herb. . . . . . and who can live
 without homemade pesto!!!

Here's to a wonderful weekend.
Anything special to share from your Spring kitchen today?

Friday, April 20, 2018

. . . . . now there are three!

 This morning, such a chilly but bright and sunny one, I peeked in from my
 little step stool, camera at the ready, and found mama finch, despite the cold,
 has laid another egg. IF she decides to lay the maximum of 6 it's going to be 
very crowded in there and, because she is so tiny, I've no idea how she can
possibly sit on all those eggs for two weeks!
Will keep you updated.

Potting Shed and lovely George Taber azaleas.

Today's bright sunshine beckons us into the garden especially as next week
 will not be as pretty with clouds and rain expected.  Bob will be firing up the mower
 later as the grass is long, and we'll be digging holes to plant two new azaleas and
 a hosta purchased yesterday at a roadside stand - all plants grown here in
 North Carolina out in the country south of the city. I love buying local.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Nesting. . . . . .

One of our new hanging Boston ferns has already become a home.
I didn't even have time to put the FOR RENT sign up!
Sweet mama-to-be!

Don't even ask how long I had to sit without moving/breathing at the dining room
 window to get this shot. The slightest move near the window and she flies out 
of the fern and takes a while to come back.
This rather plain little bird has moved onto the front porch. . . . . . . . and is 
laying her eggs.

Tuesday - April 17, 2018
Wednesday - April 18, 2018
The guests - Mr. & Mrs. House Finch - on our front feeder.

Finches lay 2-6 eggs - I'll keep you updated if more appear!