Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Squirreling Away?

The storing of something when in abundance against
 a time when it will be scarce (after the manner of a squirrel).

I know, it's a love/hate thing when it comes to squirrels in your garden. Personally I love them because they are incredibly smart little guys who don't scare or attack me!  As long as they have food available, thanks to nut bearing trees, bird feeding people, and fruit, seed, and berry growing gardeners, they don't really cause a problem. They don't hurt the garden birds, just chase them around a bit, and they do a good clean up job under the feeders. If you really don't want squirrels near your house just discontinue feeding the birds - but to me that's sad because every garden also needs beautiful songbirds.

Our current visitor is back each morning - completely fearless of us 
when we politely request that he leave the seeds for the birds.

Sending Happy New Year greetings from our house to yours.

Monday, December 26, 2022

Boxing Day 2022 -

What are your favorite 'rites of winter'?  Are you curling up under a throw with a new great book? Are you out walking in your new Christmas boots, or perhaps planning a big New Year's Eve party?  Winter days at home, especially these few between Christmas and New Year, can be so enjoyable. 

I've always said Boxing Day is my favorite day of the year. It's a 'my day' of great proportions when I do only things I enjoy. (Even in England as a child I can recall I liked this day very much). Now, this could be just laziness after running myself ragged to prepare for Christmas, or it could be that it's always a day marked on the calendar when I have no plans to be elsewhere, and can do anything I choose. So today I'm making a quick visit here to say hello, hoping everyone enjoyed their Christmas and are perhaps relaxing today. It's very cold and dry here. The sun is brilliant and the winter sky lovely. We will bundle up in warm jackets, cashmere beanies, gloves and scarves and take a walk later when the high reaches 39F. We will eat leftovers as it's a no cooking day for me!  We'll light the fire, watch a movie, raise a glass. I will knit - whilst watching the movie - and make a list of things requiring attention during the remainder of this week. Our New Year's Eve is most likely to be warmer but raining - we might just spend it here at home for a change.

Simple Boxing Day breakfast

Mourning Dove on the Fig Tree - it's chilly!

Decorations soon will be taken down - back to simplicity and natural 

Hoping your Boxing Day is calm and enjoyable.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Counting down the days -

The Winter Solstice ~

For the northern half of Earth (the Northern Hemisphere), the winter solstice occurs today, December 21 (The Southern Hemisphere’s winter solstice occurs in June.) The winter solstice is the day with the fewest hours of sunlight in the whole year, thereby making it also the “shortest day” of the year. After we reach the winter solstice, the days begin to grow longer again until we reach the Summer solstice—the first day of summer and the longest day of the year.

Brrrrrrrr, a cold morning on this shortest day of this year. This sparrow was just one of many birds searching for water. After refilling the feeders last weekend the birds have been busy in our  garden. Several have been hanging out on the front porch. A plain little female finch is spending the nights in one of the hanging baskets. Despite the Boston ferns looking somewhat tatty and sad now, we like to keep them up to provide shelter. Usually the pair of Carolina wrens tuck in the baskets but this winter, so far, they must have discovered new accommodation!

Inside the cottage it's warm. Our winter maintenance was done yesterday to make certain the HVAC is ready to deal with the extremely cold weather expected here over Christmas. The firewood was delivered and stacked. There will be a fire on the hearth most evenings when we're at home.

For me 'decking the halls' is done but I admit I have more things to check off my 'To Do' list. Mostly kitchen/food related, I have an apron close by and am ready to cook.

Glittering windows in the mall

Stopped in at the mall yesterday - going really early as we dreaded being caught up in the traffic and shoppers. I needed a battery in my wrist watch - I still like a regular (now considered old fashioned I fear) timepiece despite having an iPhone in my bag.  I loved what the jewelry store did - instead of charging for the battery and labor to install, we were asked to make a donation, in whatever amount we preferred, and it would go to 'Toys For Tots' providing Christmas gifts to needy local children.

While there, hovering over the display case showing diamond jewelry, chatting with the sales lady, I tried on beautiful diamond studs. . . . . . . but my personal 'Santa' took off on his sleigh in double time when he saw the price tag!!! I've really never craved a pair, and have always been saddened by stories from the diamond mines and the entire diamond mining business. Now of course there are lab-grown stones, less expensive and just as beautiful. . . . . . and wow, did they ever sparkle with my now silver hair.

Thursday, December 15, 2022

A quick roundup for a busy day ----------


No snow here as had been forecast earlier, boohoo! Slow falling, soaking, 
dreary rain today, all day, then some cold, dry weather all next week and
 for Christmas.

A beautiful loaf and big surprise from a dear friend this week. 
Last evening with cheese it was delicious with a good bowl of
 homemade pumpkin soup (the last of the season as I've used all
 my cooking pumpkins). Note the jar of 'Pumpkin Spread'
from Trader Joe's - this was gifted with the bread and it is so
 good.....slightly spiced and good with both sweet or savory nibbles.

Fiona is glad for her snug scarf.

Above, the re-potted yet again amaryllis bulbs - now several years old - in 
Below - today - two at least have sprung a bud under the watchful eye
 of Diana the Huntress!  Perhaps some blooms will surprise after the holidays
during the bleak days of January.

The Christmas Cactus purchased last week is opening its sweet buds
 already and looks wonderful. I tucked it into my vintage ice bucket 
which makes it spectacular on the dining room table.

Off soon to do some needed grocery shopping.
Cashmere sweater and warm booties weather at last, with a rain jacket
 to throw over today, perhaps even a snug hat/beanie and a scarf.

Friday, December 9, 2022

Beginning to look . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . a lot like Christmas!

For some reason, I've not had much time for blogging or anything else regarding use of the laptop this past week. Since returning from the lovely days at the coast, I've been trying to 'put up Christmas' as we used to say. We're just about done, both in and out, other than putting the flood lights out on the front lawn today before more rain arrives. For some reason illuminating the cottage makes a huge difference. Our fairy lights get fewer annually now - such a painful job, literally, climbing and winding those devilish strings around structures. This year they are just along the front porch rail. I admit to buying new sets when I couldn't fiddle about with the hideous tangled mess I dragged from the storage box. Lights on the arbor remain year round so are one less winding job thankfully. A couple of large green wreaths, each sporting a red and black 'buffalo check' bows are hanging and they will be in the spotlight as dusk descends and we hit the switch!  

Photos here give you an idea as to what's displayed around the house. I did not take everything out this year, but enough to bring on the feeling of this special time of year. I have a ton of candles place around for light and woodland fragrance. The small vintage metal tree flickers with mini lights, and around the base is the gorgeous wool yarn I brought back from the Falkland Islands which I've never knitted up. The large faux fir tree (not shown yet) is out in the gazebo as always and I did treat it to new string lights. It's bright and beautiful in the dark night hours. As for the little ceramic tree, wow are they ever popular again, noticing knock-offs popping up everywhere! Ours is an original from the '80's when one of Bob's office colleagues made it for us. Such a wonderful gift. It still has all the little bird lights, the base is a music box which plays "Frosty the Snowman", even the light bulb in the bottom still works. . . .after almost 40 years of Christmas joy!

Lastly, I found a Christmas cactus to replace the one that never bloomed for years despite my TLC efforts. This was in a fresh plant delivery at LIDL this week, healthy looking, loaded with buds that hopefully will open for the holidays. Sold with an attached hanger which I removed, it's on the dining room table looking so pretty - a lot of loveliness for $8.99! 

Sunday, December 4, 2022

"Memory is an amazing gift" ~~~~~~

Those words were actually in a comment by a dear friend. She left it on the blog post of another very dear friend. I have had the great fortune to meet both of these amazing women in person, one in Canada the other in England. We have blogged and followed each other for years. We have a lot in common. Like me, these special women - you know who you are and I know you won't mind me saying this - are no longer youthful in numbers. Below is the United Nations statement regarding that long ago, to us, period of age.

YOUTH is best understood as a period of transition from the dependence of childhood to adulthood’s independence. That’s why, as a category, youth is more fluid than other fixed age-groups. Yet, age is the easiest way to define this group, particularly in relation to education and employment, because ‘youth’ is often referred to a person between the ages of leaving compulsory education, and finding their first job.

That age group according to the United Nations is 15-24. We three gals have plenty of memories of way back then and they, like me, remain youthful in so many other ways. Their exuberance for life shines through in their writing, worldly travels, hobbies and pastimes, their love for family, and everything they share about daily life or special occasions. 

So, the words "Memory is a special gift" immediately grabbed me, making me think initially of the obvious and how terrible it must be to lose one's memory, especially of the past. Although I'm now pushing 80 - there I've said it - I am grateful to still have a good memory. Oh yes, I may forget the actual name of the restaurant by the sea in Morocco three years ago, but I recall the decor details and the fragrant vegetable tagine so clearly! What was the name of that nice woman I met for the first time at the grocery store last week, or the movie we watched recently?  They will come to me later perhaps!

The 'kissing ball' is hanging in the hallway again for the Christmas season.
This weekend has been busy around the house now that December is here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Coast in Autumn -


Yes, I did dip my toes and the water was quite warm.
It was a fun time, peace and quiet before the Christmas rush!

Monday, November 28, 2022

Down to the sea. . . . . .

Arrival at the coast yesterday was somewhat rough. We eventually
 left the rain behind, dealt with very high winds, and had a wonderful
day and evening at our favorite places.
This morning, granddaughter Jasmin and I were up early taking
photos of the sunrise from our hotel balconies.
Now off to breakfast, a beach walk and a coastal drive in really
great late Autumn weather.

They never cease to grip me in their vast beauty. Oceans, this one the
 Atlantic . . . . . . and waking early to catch the perfect 
sunrise was so worthwhile.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Amaryllis time again!

I was checking new amaryllis bulbs at the store this week and shocked to see how much they've increased in price this season. These are the old amaryllis bulbs planted in the garden last Spring after perhaps the third or fourth year of indoor blooming. They didn't bloom again in the garden as they did last year, but grew tall, healthy leaves all Summer. I dug up the bulbs and trimmed the leaves and roots in September, then kept them in the potting shed until repotting again early in November. Today when I raised the dining room blinds to let the lovely sunshine in, I saw a change. Tinges of green again!  They won't bloom for Christmas, more likely in mid-January. I'm so excited and grateful. Sometimes I lack patience, waiting about bothers me and I just want to get on with things. Perhaps the couple of pandemic years changed much of that. Having more time I am more attune to waiting for things to happen. Or am I getting old and slowing down?  Have to be honest here!

Tomorrow we'll be off to the coast for a few days and I can hardly wait to see the ocean, walk the beach, and enjoy fresh seafood. Weather includes some rain but at least one day should be warmish and sunny. . . . . .perhaps we can dip our toes while waving across the vast Atlantic to family and friends on the other side of the pond!

Enjoy your after-Thanksgiving weekend. Before you know it, if you haven't already started, pulling out the storage boxes and decorating for Christmas will be underway. That's at the top of my list for when I return to town.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Good morning Jack!

Two very cold nights below freezing were obvious invitations to 'Jack' who furtively slunk through the trees, climbed the fence, swished his way through piles of crisp oak leaves, bent under bird feeders - perhaps stopping to peer through the somewhat dirty windows of the potting shed - before breathing on the rosy pink camellias.  He left them pale, their edges tinged in sepia brown giving them a vintage look as they bowed toward the bird bath. 

Stay warm dear friends. . . . . . . . and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.