Friday, October 29, 2021

Goodbye sweet October days -

Autumn. October. Birthdays.

Always a busy month around here, October arrived and was full of 
occasions. Many family members and friends have birthdays. . . . and 
of course my own was tucked in there on the the 26th. I thank you all 
who sent such kind greetings. No matter how old we get it's always a
pleasure to be remembered, don't you agree?

This weekend we will say goodbye to what for me is probably the best 
month of the year. I'm staying close to home - including time in this chair
which is comfortable for my current back and leg issue. Still going to PT 
and doing exercises at home. Still waiting for the leaves to change color 
and soon begin falling. . . . . yes autumn is a season of slowing down
 and just waiting.

My birthday brought some enjoyable and unexpected gifts.
A new beautiful cookbook, SOUPOLOGY, from granddaughter Jasmin
 who knows exactly what excites my taste buds and gets me into the kitchen!
We do love soup around here and there are some tasty sounding ones
in this book.

The beautiful Voluspa candle from Anthropologie accompanied it, along with
 other special gifts. We love these candles in the the patterned glass jars -
this fragrance is a new one to me, Santiago Huckleberry (Ripe Huckleberry, 
Vanilla & Crushed Sugar Cane) in a Coconut Wax Blend. It smells just 
right for fall and the color is so beautiful.

I have lot of cookbooks (even after sharing some with others to make more
 space on my kitchen bookshelves!), but there's always a new one popping
up which I feel will be interesting to read, and perhaps glean a few new can't
 pass up recipes. THE FIRST MESS I'd seen online, even tried a couple of 
Laura's great plant-based recipes. This one I bought myself for my birthday
gift - I am going to enjoy it!

Everywhere looks clean after more heavy rain last night, and beautiful sunny
cooler weekend days are promised - nice for the children to celebrate
 Halloween if they venture out for Trick or Treats as the sun goes does
on Sunday evening!
This morning the bluebirds are back in the the now bare fig tree, always
a thrill. Other birds are returning too - probably as we're feeding again. 
Expect bird photos, along with the usual suspects, squirrels, soon!

Enjoy your late October weekend - I'll catch up with you all in the coming
November days.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Another red-letter day on my calendar!

Why is aging on my mind today?  
Perhaps because it's my birthday!

Above, my birthday breakfast.  Nothing really special, 
except perhaps to me. Being English, toast and marmalade
 has always been a favorite . . . . . so today I'll celebrate
 the arrival of another wonderful year with something I enjoy!

No time to post much, things to do, places to go . . . . . . .
 . . . . . . and later an awful lot of candles to blow out!

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Thankful for -


Always colorful fun at the pumpkin farm!

This really is my most favorite little cook book for the autumn months and I'll
be making good use of it these coming weeks.
Fabulous recipes, both savory and sweet, from one of Britain's great food
 writers Brian Glover.
Today I'm baking pumpkin breads, and yes, I'm cheating by using Krusteaz 
brand pumpkin bread mix which is really good and quick! 
Usually I use Libby's seasonal pumpkin bread mix, also excellent, but this
 one caught my eye and I love it.
So today, one loaf for us, the other to welcome my new next door neighbors
 who just moved in over the weekend.

To use the bread for a dessert I'm adding a simple toffee sauce, and
 perhaps a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Here's the sauce recipe if interested. I usually make half the recipe.

300g light muscovado sugar
284ml heavy cream
50g unsalted butter

Put the sugar, cream and butter in a small heavy-based saucepan
and heat gently to dissolve the sugar. Simmer for 3 mins, stirring to
 thicken slightly and make a smooth sauce. 
It's sweet but a small portion drizzled over is really enjoyable and turns
bread into cake!!!!

Yesterday I baked yet another galette - I'm hooked on these easy, 
one crust, rustic style 'tarts.'  
This one is a plum and apple combo, mostly plums, really good.
Addition of a dash of Chambord Black Raspberry liqueur rather than
 lemon juice, and a little grated butter over the top prior to baking, made
 it rich and tasty.

Do you enjoy baking on these lovely autumn days? 

Thanks so much for all the very kind good wishes in
regard to my 'down time' lately.  I'm OK but just want to 
be able to get about on foot and do things without pain!
I'm peering out the window right now and watching Bob in the
 glorious sunshine fiddling about in the garden.
Soon the leaves will be falling and he'll need help raking - I really
 want to be able to do that!

Happy Sunday. . . . . . and a great week ahead to you all.

Friday, October 22, 2021

The tangled threads of life -

transitive verb. 1a : to disengage or separate the threads of : disentangle.
 b : to cause to come apart by or as if by separating the threads of. 2 : to resolve
the intricacy, complexity, or obscurity of : clear up unravel a mystery.

Life has had many moments lately where I've felt tangled in a web of 
unhappiness, loss and pain. I don't like to use my spot here in the blog
 world to 'air my dirty linen', moan and groan about aging and health
issues, disparage family or friends, or write reams about negative
 pandemic issues etc. 

I strive to make this my 'happy place' where I can share good things.
Nature, travel, the garden, decorating, photography, fashion, cooking and
 baking. During the past few weeks the deaths of two much-loved
 travel friends, one in the UK, the other in Arizona, and then last
 Friday a dear family member - a second cousin in the UK - have brought
 me great sadness.
My thoughts have been for the families of those three special people.
 All will be so missed by so many.

My own current personal mobility issue, due to what seems to be a
 major right leg hamstring strain, is making walking, bending, any
 type of movement, so painful. It's definitely knocking me for a loop! 
I started PT two weeks back and have to admit I've yet to receive
 any relief. I'm good about doing the exercises at home on days when
 I don't go to the facility, but I still have excruciating pain.
Anyway, I'll keep going and hope this condition will eventually be resolved
 and I can get out of bed and stand up in the morning without screaming!


Leaving you with some pretty Autumn peeks for the weekend. . . . which
hope will be enjoyable for you and your loved ones. 

Autumn Collage - 2020

My house - Autumn 2021

Monday, October 18, 2021

Autumn winners -

First and foremost, as promised, today Bob drew the name of the winner of 
the knitted cowl!  There were 22 comments however a few of you passed 
on wanting your name included for one reason or another, which was fine. 

I'm happy to announce the winner is VEE a long time blogging 
friend at A Haven For VeeShe is located up north in one of
 my most favorite states, Maine!
Congratulations Vee - I will get started on your choice of cowl (brown)
 asap. I know it will get cold up your way very soon! So listen for the
 click clack of my knitting needles down here in still balmy North Carolina!
I'll get your address later and then let you know when your little gift is
 on the way. . . .arriving before it snows perhaps.

I purchased beautiful freshly harvested butternut squash on the recent 
pumpkin farm visit. Hoping they will be as tasty as the ones from there
 last year - much more flavorful than any bought at the grocery store!

Speaking of cold days and nights ahead, one of our favorite homemade
 soups is roasted butternut squash. . . . . . I'll be in the kitchen later this
 week preparing a batch for supper and the freezer.

Thanks to all of who participated in the drawing for the knitted cowl.

Just so you know, Bob and I decided to draw a second name which we are
 going to keep secret for the time being! Once I finish Vee's cowl I'm sure 
I'll have plenty more long, cold winter evenings for knitting . . . . . so
you may be a winner also!

Enjoy your week - we are having perfect October weather here, 
and especially colorful sunrises . . . . . worth waking early to view.


Sunday, October 17, 2021

Celebrating emigration and friendship. . .

Yesterday marked the 59th anniversary of my
arriving in America!  It was to be just one year of working
and seeing the wonders of this vast land . . . however, because
 I met and married Bob, it turned into almost a lifetime visit.
Yes, I'm a legal immigrant and have dual citizenship with
the United Kingdom!

I gathered an armload of flowers from Trader Joe's on Thursday in
 preparation for friends visiting.........and because I like fresh flowers
 for the dining room at the weekend.

Now here it is Sunday and I'm taking a rest!
It's been a busy last few days around the house as I prepared for 
yesterday's visit from our Oregon friends, Marilyn and Jim.
We last visited with them in Portland in 2016.
Where have all those years gone?
They were passing through Raleigh on an East Coast visit and it was
enjoyable to have them stop here for lunch with us at a nearby
 restaurant, followed by a quick visit to the the cottage for dessert prior
 to heading west to the North Carolina mountains.

 On the front porch with my longtime blog friend Marilyn ~ visit her at
where you'll enjoy beautiful words, nature, the Oregon coast, flowers,
 and learn a lot about tea, her specialty!

P.S.  Last chance to enter my knitted cowl giveaway - drawing will be tomorrow.
Leave comment on that recent post to be included.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Travel memories and the fabric of life -

This time two years ago we were on what was to become our last overseas trip prior to the arrival of the pandemic.  Looking back through my blog posts from that trip to Morocco, Western Sahara and the Cape Verde Islands, I am noticing that many of my photos on that exciting and enjoyable journey included colorful fabrics.

Our colorful friend Kim preparing for a camel ride.

Today I'm starting to change over my wardrobe ready for cooler weather - although that won't be this week as we're due a heatwave!
I'm amazed that much of my personal wardrobe has nothing quite as vibrant and eye-catching when it comes to colors!  First things out of the storage boxes today are an unbelievable number of black jogger pants and basic black long sleeve tee shirts . . . . . . . which will now be my going to physical therapy uniform!

Perhaps COVID had me over-buying comfy, boring clothes these past almost two years.  After all I didn't travel anywhere to throw caution and neutral color dressing to the wind. I didn't pull out the portable clothes rack to assist in organizing a travel wardrobe for an expedition or cruise ship to a colorful location far from home.
Other than a small suitcase and a brief flight to New England this year, I didn't pack everything but the kitchen sink for a real adventure! Crossing oceans, and visiting colorful venues where one can buy bright swirling caftans, soft pashmina wraps, and silk scarves never happened.
Will dressing change back to how it was prior to COVID?
Will masks be my only splash of color for much longer?


Regarding the knitting giveaway - love that so many of you have
 already left a comment on my previous post for the drawing next week.
Several of you are overseas but that's OK, posting something light 
is not that expensive.  
Also, some of you want the pattern to knit your own cowl. 

It's so easy that I really don't have a pattern, and you only need to know the 'knit' and 'pearl' stitches. . . . . . . 

On a pair of size 8 (US) knitting needles, cast on an odd number of stitches, I usually do 49.  
Knit first two rows into the back of the stitches for a neat edge.
 Next row, knit two stitches also into the back for a neat edge, then pearl one
knit one across the entire row to the last two stitches and knit those two into the back also. 
Turn and repeat the same on each row until knitting is about 25 inches long.  
Knit into back of one last row all the way across, then cast off - again knitting
 into the back of stitches for a neater edge.
Twist the knitting one turn and line up the two short edges, pin together, and 
hand-stitch them together (I use a crewel needle) with a length of your
 remaining yarn.

Voila - you have a warm cowl for your cool neck - and perhaps,
 like me, you feel you actually didn't completely waste all those hours
sitting in front of the TV!!!!!

I'm off to decorate with my pumpkins and potted mums!
Also to bake an apple and blackberry galette.
The sun is shining ~ the grass is growing - granddaughter is 
coming for supper and hopefully will share those Alaska 
wedding photos she took!

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

A bit more about knitting, and a "gift" for you!

An autumn and winter color palette of mossy green, Merlot wine, and warm brown is part of my own cold season wardrobe. These colors, along with basic black, charcoal, grey, navy, cobalt blue, are what I now enjoy wearing. Since growing out my grey hair - my one positive pandemic happening - I find I can wear even more colors comfortably since saying au revoir to red hair!  I believe even my red 'holiday' coat will look better with silver hair which I can honestly say I'm enjoying.

I also love to have something warm around my neck once the weather turns
chilly . . . . . . but it can't be itchy!  

I see so many beautiful yarns for knitting but have to steer clear of many I know will cause discomfort and annoyance rather than warmth.  I found this particular yarn a couple of years ago at JoAnn Fabrics and have used it for scarves and cowls ever since. It's 100% acrylic, smooth, washable, knits up really well and is inexpensive. I mostly knit these neck warmers in moss stitch which looks almost like a textured tweed when completed. They are simple, straightforward, with one twist prior to hand-stitching the ends together, so sit neatly around the neck.
I knit mostly while watching TV in the evenings - but you may find me picking up my needles when I want to sit, relax, and think about life during the daytime. I've been known to knit on a car ride, in an airport, in the lounge of an expedition or cruise ship, and sitting on the front porch. When caught knitting in public there is always someone who asks, "what are you knitting." Little girls often question you and tell their moms they want to learn how to do that. Hopefully the moms, or grandmas, can knit!  Now and then a little boy will also ask. . . . . I have always loved boys who not only can knit but embroider, needlepoint, quilt etc. and then grow up to design and sew amazing clothing - think Kaffe Fassett!!!

Well, enough rambling, I could be knitting lol!

I still have some of this particular yarn and would like to knit a cowl for you.
If you would like one as a gift some time this winter, and don't mind waiting a while, I'll draw the winner next Monday. Leave me a comment on this post and tell me which of the three colors shown above you would prefer - mossy green, warm brown or Merlot wine. They are one size, fit all gals or guys, and you just pull it over your head. I wear mine with crewneck sweaters, jackets and coats outside, and have been known to keep one on around the house when the cold weather arrives . . . . . . and which I'm anxiously awaiting.

We actually made it to our favorite pumpkin farm over the weekend - more on that always delightful annual trip coming soon.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Wet Saturday -

I wasn't going to post today as I had a lot to catch up with.
  I was so busy yesterday, starting PT for my right leg pain with a nice
 therapist named Kenny. . . . . . . .then a trip to the airport to pick up 
granddaughter Jasmin, and her boyfriend, who returned from a
 five day trip to Alaska for a friend's wedding! 
Jasmin was the photographer and I can't wait to see her photos.
From info gleaned from two very tired overnight travelers - with flights
 delayed several times, today's norm - the wedding took place
 outdoors, on a mountainside, in snow, rain and very cold temperatures!  
According to them it was a marvelous adventure . . . . . thoughts of
 'roughing it' like that made me feel really old!!!

Today long awaited rain here. Fortunately not too heavy which we hoped 
would be the case so it wouldn't wash away the newly sewn grass seed
 now germinating.
Our resident all grown up rabbit - no longer a baby bunny - was busy this
 morning. Luckily he chose a breakfast of tender new grass which was
 accidentally sewn beyond the lawn perimeter. . . . . . .which works out fine
 for him and us!
Chomp on bunny, it's yours for the nibbling, just stop this side of the bricks please!

Robert Louis Stevenson ~ 1850-1894
A Child's Garden of Verses