Monday, March 30, 2020

Tea towels and A GIVEAWAY!

Good Monday morning - hoping each one of you is healthy, happy, and
spent the weekend doing great things.

I have quite a pleasing collection of tea towels.
I like to set up my ironing board in the kitchen - I can watch the birds 
and squirrels, and the light is bright and cheery.
Ironing them is not a chore, for me it's more like quiet time alone to think
 and ponder, and these days we are all doing a lot of that!

I enjoy spending time smoothing, dampening down with fragrant linen water, 
ironing and folding.
 Over the years several tea towels have been delightful gifts, they have stories
 and memories behind them.
They are also an item often picked up whilst in a foreign country to bring back as
 a useful souvenir. I've discovered that Italy and France have the best ones.
They are beautifully made and never wear out. Several are pure linen - my
 favorites, others linen/cotton blend. All are lightweight and, when purchased on a
 trip, easy to tuck into that ever expanding suitcase being rolled along behind one!

Where do you iron?
What do you contemplate whilst ironing?
Do you have a special collection of tea towels?

I read about this recently published UK book by Marnie Fogg,
The Art of the Tea Towel - Over 100 of the Best Designs, and knew
 it would be interesting. It definitely is! 
It's the creative history of the humble kitchen must-have which we all use, 
from the 1950's to the present day.
I purchased two copies with thoughts of doing a Giveaway some day as
I know some of you enjoy collecting tea towels.
Well the time is now when we all perhaps need a little fun. . . . . and 
one of you can enjoy a package at your door!

So, just look at the tea towels displayed on the book cover, tell me which one 
catches your eye, and leave me a comment.
This Giveaway is open to all no matter on which continent you have your
 kitchen, or where you dry your dishes and wine glasses!!!

My personal dish washer/dish dryer, Mr. Bob, will pick a winner from his favorite 
Red Sox ball cap on April 13 (Easter Monday). Hope so much you join in.

Postscript:  FYI - we really go through a lot of tea towels as we prefer to wash/dry by hand!

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Let's hear a colorful cheer for Springtime. . . .

. . . . . . it can't be all doom and gloom!

We can't actually go shopping in the stores, however we can order online if it's 
our thing. . . . . . or we can perhaps shop our closets and storage boxes (my out of 
season things are in those under the bed), which I'm going to do today when once
 again the temperature will be in the high 80's! 
Phew, much too hot for March!
So, although the spring dresses are pretty, I don't have any! Instead I'm delving into
 my storage box today for a pair of lightweight grey linen trousers and a short sleeved 
white t-shirt.
 Today I'm not planning on wearing anything heavy, fuzzy, cozy or black!

I may wear pretty earrings though - I love these from ZARA.

Lifestyle changes are imminent here
We're beginning to feel uncomfortably pudgy as we head into
our third week at home.

Our usual mealtimes - around 10:30 AM for breakfast, no lunch, then the heavy
 main meal around 6:30 PM - are going to change. 
We'll now try an earlier breakfast and our main meal at 5 PM with no snacking at all! 
 More walking of course - more gardening - more cottage decluttering!

Are you finding good sleep hard and waking in the night? I've never had 
that problem before and it's awful.
Now I toss and turn, get up, walk around, read a few pages, even went to the
 kitchen and made warm milk one night (considered splashing in some 
brandy but didn't!).  Waiting for the grandfather clock to strike the hour is not
fun, especially when it's 3 or 4 in the morning!

Are you sleeping less? Eating more? Getting exercise in your garden
 or aimlessly walking mostly empty neighborhood streets?

Are there things you regret not having done before lockdown?
I wish now I'd had my sewing machine repaired - started growing out my 
grey hair a few months ago then I'd be halfway there - had my nail gal
cut my gel nails very short two weeks ago - bought garden plants and 
potting soil last week. 
I wish I was younger and could be of more help to others - but I'm 
glad I'm older in case the world changes so much that I would find it 
really hard to cope. Oops, I said no gloom and doom today. . . . . .so 
I think I'll stop here.

Sending good thoughts to you all. . . . . . . stay safe and keep blogging.

P.S. Visit here tomorrow - time for a fun Giveaway!

Friday, March 27, 2020

Time together -

We made the best of today.  
No big restaurant dinner - but Thai takeout in the gazebo
 for lunch was delicious in the sunshine.  
A bottle of Prosecco.  
Flowers cut from my own garden. 
A card to me and a card from me. 
A lot of memories to chat about.
Plenty of work inside and out to keep us busy.
For some reason I feel busier than ever!

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Eggs Up - Heads up!

Eggs of all descriptions are becoming a big part of my life whilst living
 through the pandemic!  Later I will share with you the eggs we are eating. 
Because I'm a non-meat eating, lover of cooking and baking person, I do 
use a lot of eggs each week.

But today it's back to the front porch where, despite sadness, concern and bad
news from every continent being strewn across television screens and 
newspapers, there are small beacons of hope for the future.

Did you see the New York healthcare workers, doctors and nurses, are now having
 to resort to wearing black plastic garbage bags as personal protective 
equipment - for lack of gowns? The Big Apple is now our major hotspot for 
the virus in the USA? 

It's news like this which touch a nerve regarding how, when, will we really be
able to tame this raging virus that seems to have the planet in its grip.
Be steadfast in your self-isolation, keep your personal space, only go out
to stores remaining open for true necessities. This is where we learn to 
cut back. . . . . perhaps even go without!

Yes, there are also some small wonderful happenings in the fight against COVID-19.
  Today I've learned one is happening right here in North Carolina, and I'll share at the end of this post.

As for the other eggs, Mrs. Finch laid her first yesterday around noon. 
Later I managed to get this photo when she flew to the fig tree for a break, 
which she does every time we open the front door. When she returns, 
Mr. Finch comes with her and hangs about until she's comfortable 
on the nest. He is in charge of 'carry out' and will be bringing her
 meals during incubation. . . . . . a busy boy for a couple of weeks.

 . . . . . . and now this morning there are two - things are looking good.
House finches lay 4-5 blueish eggs (and have two broods per year), 
so I'll be watching the nest for the next couple of days and updating!

Mrs. Finch seems to keep her eye on us!  

Mr. Finch bringing a teeny weeny green bug to his wife, one of the House finch's 
favorite morsels, along with seeds and fruit.
Good luck little family.

Meanwhile, some good news. . . . . . .

At Duke University Health in Durham, North Carolina, just a hop and a skip from
here, there is this great news today, partially reprinted from our local newspaper below.
I applaud Duke - which is also part of the new clinical trial underway in the 
USA to find medicines to fight this, the most vicious virus ever.

Duke Health says it will stretch its supply of specialized masks used by health care workers treating coronavirus patients by decontaminating and reusing them.
Duke will use aerosolized hydrogen peroxide to treat N95 masks at its three hospitals in Durham and Raleigh. The gas permeates the masks to kill germs, including viruses, without harming the material, Duke says.
N95 masks are one type of personal protective equipment that hospitals are trying desperately to stockpile as the COVID-19 outbreak intensifies. Also known as the N95 respirator, the mask offers more protection than a standard surgical mask. It gets its name because it prevents at least 95% of airborne particles from entering the wearer’s mouth and nose, if worn properly.
“The ability to reuse the crucial N95 masks will boost the hospitals’ ability to protect frontline health care workers during this time of critical shortages of N95 masks,” Dr. Cameron Wolfe, an associate professor of medicine and infectious disease specialist, said in a written statement.
Before it could reliably use hydrogen peroxide to treat the masks, Duke Health says it had to do something the earlier researchers hadn’t: make sure the masks would still fit properly when the process was finished. That has been done, Duke said in announcing the new process Thursday.

. . . . . . . The News & Observer, Raleigh, NC - March 26, 2020

 Cheers dear readers - please take care, and keep blogging.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Finches and Song ~

A damp morning here but sunny days on the way.

~ Music for NOW ~
Think of it as calming, not sad. Beautiful voices and lovely faces,
 We all need calm to get through this tough time.

Papa finch keeping watch. . . . . . 

. . . . . . whilst Mama finch builds her nest.

They take breaks together in the now budding fig tree.
Oblivious to what we humans are facing, they make a home for a
new family and the future.

The flowers still bloom. . . . . . . 

 . . . . . the buds still burst forth on the hickory tree outside the bedroom window. . . . . . 

. . . . . .even the wisteria is opening and that makes me happy.

Please keep blogging, it's such a great way to keep in touch at this difficult time.
  Each morning I'm sure you, like us, get up hoping
 things are better. . . . . . . they are not, YET!  They will be though if we 
really try to follow the rules and regulations, and by now unless living under
 a rock, we know what they are.
Meanwhile we carry on best we can, remembering all the brave people
on the front lines working in every country, saving lives and trying to find
a way to stop this virus.

I'm off now to work on new posts for the days to come.
I will try to make the content cheery and positive. 
I am planning a giveaway soon so watch for that.  
Also a fashion post perhaps, after all, once we're able to get outside, 
meet up with family and friends, go to our favorite restaurants, 
even just to go shopping again, we will be ready to wear something
 bright and 'springy'.  
Anyone tired of track pants and sweatshirts yet?

Monday, March 23, 2020

Stop the World. . . . . . . .

 . . . . . . .I Want to Get Off!

Yes, the 1963 Tony Award winning musical starring
the late, great Anthony Newley, English actor, singer and songwriter, 
comes to mind. 
Forget the world just 'tilting'  - it now seems to be spinning out of control! 
If we could get off though where would we go?

I'm in the garden a lot. 
This morning it was raining lightly, thankfully dampening down
the heavy pollen coating everything in sight.
The photos in the collage below were taken today.

"Maybe more than ever before in my life, I’m grateful today to have a garden. What a blessing it feels like. I can’t imagine the weeks and months ahead without the refuge it will provide. Perhaps you all feel the same way". . . . . . . . Margaret Roach

The above came from famous gardener Margaret Roach (A Way To
 I read these words she wrote yesterday on her current post and asked her if I might
 share them with you, my wonderful readers, many of whom are gardeners. 
Margaret kindly gave me permission.
If you need information or help regarding anything to do with your own garden, 
Margaret is the person to go to . . . . . .and be sure to read her latest book, 
A Way To Garden - a hands-on primer for every season -
 and listen to her awesome podcasts with other well known gardeners also
on her website.

Yes, having a garden is certainly a blessing at this time. You know I have one,
just a quarter acre on which my cottage home sits comfortably. It's nothing
spectacular by any means and, in all honesty, it's no longer in tip top 
shape as it was when outdoor work was much easier in our younger days.
The front is neat and tidy with some beautiful trees I've planted and nurtured,
flowering shrubs, seasonal bulbs and perennials . . . . . and Bob keeps the 
lawn mown so passersby still comment on what a lovely yard we have!

After a very warm weekend the bluebells are up and opening.  
The birds are still nest building - more about the finches coming - and bluebirds
 seem interested in the birdhouse again so I'm glad I cleaned it out a couple
 of weeks ago.  
My daughter told me to hang my hummingbird feeder - rather early I think - but she
 said they are already in flight around her neighborhood a couple of miles away.

I want to stay positive in thought regarding how life is/will be perhaps for some time. 
Already some are depressed, bored, chomping at the bit to get out and live as we
 are used to.  Meanwhile please be brave, follow the rules which will be so important
 to rid us of this virus. . . . . . . . do things, make use of this quieter time, garden if 
you can, and have hope that this will end very soon.
Bless you and your loved ones.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

The world has tilted . . . . . . .

 . . . . . and our homes have become the safest and most comfortable place to be.

Our little house finch couple continue to build their home in our porch hanging
 basket - a cozy nest for a clutch of eggs which hopefully produce a family of 
baby birds in the weeks to come.

The camellias have been amazing for several weeks but now, just as the azaleas
 are starting to bloom, Camellia japonica's lovely flowers are fading and falling
 to the ground.  
It's always a good idea to clear away fallen flowers as fungal disease is
common. Camellia petal blight causes flowers to turn brown rapidly, then
drop.  Sanitation is the best control: pick up and destroy all fallen blossoms
as well as infected ones on the plant. Remove and discard any existing mulch,
then replace with new mulch.

I'm somewhat concerned this shrub may have a fungal issue as many of the flowers
 did turn brown this year. I do try to pick up the fallen ones asap, however perhaps
 I should rake out all the old mulch and replenish. No excuses now for 'no time' to 
work in the garden!

They still look beautiful to me!