Sunday, February 27, 2022

The Blogging Years -

I really have no idea as to what celebrating a 15th anniversary should be about. . . . especially when it comes to talking about blogging, bloggers, blog friends. All I know is that somehow I've hung around here for a long time, first with Across The Pond and then A Breath of Fresh Air, sharing so many posts (2,590 here on ABOFA plus 4 years of posts on ATP). I've covered a lot of ground - literally when I traveled the world before the pandemic - and here at home in the cottage and garden, tucked into a cul-de-sac on the edge of the city, weathering the ups and downs of life as I age, along with everything else around me!
Today I just want to thank every one of you, my friends who are my 'blog family', who visit here from around the world, leave lovely comments, share ideas and tips, support me when I'm feeling down, and have stuck with me for so long. All I can say is thank you so much, I hope I can continue to take photos, post them, and add some words and stories that make sense, most of the time!

  I'm posting some of my older photo collages today.
They remind me of lovely places and times gone by in the
 past 15 years, with hopefully many more to come.

I actually wrote this post early, before the tulip petals dropped and the third
 and fourth buds on my second Apple Blossom amaryllis opened.
This is my spot in the dining room where 99.9% of my posts are
 created, and where I read your blogs when at home - which is just about
 always these days!
Again, thank you for being such great blog friends, see you next time.
Warm hugs, I'm thinking of you as I celebrate.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Friday thoughts -

Guess what. Yesterday, after searching a few places for a readymade 'floating frame' for the 'Singer' bird cards mentioned in my previous post, I ended up at Hobby Lobby knowing I needed assistance. I love that store. I headed through aisles of craft supplies, shelves heaving with knick-knacks, candles, ready mounted art, fabrics, yarn, masses of faux flowers and greenery etc.  A book title by an author whom I knew personally long ago came to mind, "Everything That's All." The Hobby Lobby store could qualify!
Arriving at the custom framing department way at the rear, I saw pony-tailed Cody (a photographer in his other life) still there doing custom picture framing. Thrilled, as he did such a great job for me last year, we got down to business and made a decision on how to frame the six trade cards. We agreed on vertical framing, between glass rather than acrylic, arranged the cards and, when I asked for frame suggestions, he placed two on the counter. One was perfect. I really wanted something 'antique', not modern or metallic with a glitzy shine. As the cards are almost 100 years old and the paper is showing a little age by turning a bit yellow in spots, real wood with a little antiquing was perfect. I should have the finished project in a couple of weeks and will look forward to sharing it with you then.

Meanwhile, today started out dreary with fog and misty rain so I baked
 blueberry muffins to cheer things up a bit.  

The world news is frightening and what is happening is horrific for the
 people of Ukraine. Feelings of hopelessness pervade the mind and we
 feel useless. We question so much and are getting no good answers.
Does prayer help? It must because nothing else will right now.

The birds are busy on the porch and continue to bring joy.
 We purchased new cushions for the three porch chairs this week but
 will save them until spring. Current ones are faded and have been
 gnawed and clawed by the pesky squirrels so are looking a bit tacky. 

With another weekend upon us I'm thinking of friends up North where
 snow is falling yet again and a severe winter weather advisory is in effect.
Stay safe and warm everyone . . . and please take photos of your beautiful 
snow-covered landscapes to share with us later.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Singer Sewing Machine Birds -

Words on a Singer Sewing Machine Co. Inc. trade card ~ circa 1927.

Personally, I grew up around my dear dressmaker mother's treadle
Singer machine and she was my sewing teacher!

I took a few hours this past week to work on organizing and getting rid of stuff!
Now and then I find myself doing this, mostly on good days when my back
and right leg aren't hurting so much. I'm actually getting some relief at last.

We need to have some work done to refresh our upstairs - mainly replace
 10 year old carpet in two rooms, the landing, and the staircase itself. 
If this was an empty house it would be such an easy project, however it's
 thirty five years old and holds thirty five years of our life including some
 heavy furniture! 
Some items need to be sent away permanently to other places, such as
 Habitat for Humanity ReStore, and a thrift shop, the remainder packed into
 boxes and stored somewhere out of the way of the carpet installers, 
a big job for us.

While searching through several boxes of supplies from those long ago
 creative endeavors such as scrapbooking, card making, decoupaging
 terra cotta flower pots etc., I came across these really beautiful
 Singer Sewing Machine Co. Inc. 'trade cards' depicting American Song
Birds . . . . . . six out of an apparent total set of 16 and printed in 1926-27.

You already know garden birds are a big hobby of mine - I really love
birds, watching them, photographing them, feeding and caring for them.

The cards are in good condition for being almost 100 years old. Each bird is 
shown against a lovely background, and its egg is shown in a little twig frame. 
The reverse has small b/w illustrations, a little story, and details of
 Singer sewing machines. 
The artist was J.L. Ridgway.

John Livzey Ridgway (February 28, 1859 – December 27, 1947), 
was a nationally prominent bird illustrator who worked for
 many years at the United States Geological Survey, as well
 as the Smithsonian, the California Institute of Technology
and Art.  
via Wikipedia

Each card measures 6 X 4-1/2 inches and could easily be framed
 individually, however I'm on the hunt for a collage style frame, 
preferably with clear glass so that both front and back are visible
 between the two pieces which would be great. That way, anyone
 who may own it in the future will also be able to read the backs of
 the cards and learn their history.
If I can't locate a readymade frame, another option I will consider 
is having them framed by a professional.
 I will then have to decide whether to display them vertically or
 horizontally. . . . . any thoughts on which you think best will be
 appreciated of course.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Keeping the home fires burning -

My living room windows face north, one wall of three floor to ceiling windows.
 Early morning light is flat without a fire burning on the hearth, whereas
 in the evenings when we settle in for a few hours of television, some very
interesting, some just mindless escapism in these pandemic months/years,
a blazing hearth brings warmth and light and we can lower the heating system.
The wood pile is getting low but we will have enough to see us through
 another month. Some evenings this week have been too warm to light 
the fire, but over the weekend it will be cool again.
The dust from burning wood in an open fire - I won't even go there - but
Spring cleaning is on the to do list!

Note the really nice square Asian cachepot from AT HOME - in shades
 of blue and grey. It came home with me and will soon be holding a new
 plant of some description. 

Between those odds and ends I'm supposedly addressing at home this week, 
popped out to meet a dear friend for lunch and a news catch up. On the 
way home I decided to stop by AT HOME to replenish some candles I'm
 really enjoying. I like the larger 3-wick version and as there were only three
 left on the shelf in River Birch & Fern, I bought them all. This fragrance 
is very subtle, and is a favorite. The green smoked glass and wooden
 lids make them appear quite posh, however they are a bargain
 at just $12.99 each.

I've found that three wicks burn much better when it comes to even melting
 of a candle, less wax 'tunneling' and perhaps lasting longer overall. 
I always trim the wicks before lighting again, important for a
 clean-burning candle.

Yesterday I cut my first daffodils of this year for the kitchen window.
They started appearing in the back garden this week and filled
 my heart with hope and joy.

Hoping everyone reading this in the UK remained safe during the huge
storm Eunice. Apparently it did some serious damage in some areas.
Now on it's way across the north to The Netherlands, Belgium, 
Germany etc. so I hope my friends there are not endangered.

Stay safe and warm. Enjoy your weekend .

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Nothing lovelier on cold days . . . . . .

. . . . . than a beautiful bloom to admire in the house.

This is the second Apple Blossom amaryllis to bloom this year - and 
again it's really gorgeous .
I'll be taking a few days off from posting - have a mountain of odds 
and ends requiring attention this week. 

Have a good week - stay well - be happy.

Monday, February 14, 2022

St. Valentine's Day -

Wishing you a lovely St.Valentine's Day

Friday, February 11, 2022

Making plans for a change -


This week has been really good - warmer, sunny days with still cold nights. We were able to get into garden and look around at all the pruning that will require attention come spring. There are a few daffodils budding and the bluebell leaves are poking through. Camellias are blooming again despite some flowers being damaged by the recent snow/ice. Yesterday afternoon it reached 60F so we took down and packed away the faux Christmas tree in the gazebo, it had few decorations remaining other than white lights. Will miss the twinkling fairy lights at night but still have the year round string of larger lights around the interior. 
Yesterday the City arrived at long last to vacuum up the mounds of fallen leaves, mostly oaks, from along the streets and here in our cul-de-sac, it looks so much better now.
The summertime Boston ferns still hang in their baskets on the front porch. Though dried and frazzled, their rusty bronze fronds in the sunlight look quite beautiful, and of course we hope the wrens, as always, use them for sleeping on these chilly nights. That's why we never take them down until the new green ones arrive in late spring!

 Carolina wren - Front porch

Do you have big plans for the weekend? Being St. Valentine's Day on Monday perhaps you are going to eat out.  Despite so many restaurants in our vicinity we really don't enjoy eating out when celebrations are in full swing. Too busy, often noisy, slower service, and of course often hard to get reservations. We're all for supporting local businesses, especially restaurants who have gone through two very rough years, so instead we are eating out tonight at a local Greek taverna. 
This will follow an afternoon at the movies to see Kenneth Branagh's new version of Dame Agatha Christie's 'Death on the Nile' opening today. This will be only our second movie theatre visit during the pandemic and we had to reserve seats. Watching something on a big screen - our TV is small - will be a treat, and having someone else cook my meal, serve it to me, and do the all clean up will be more than enough of a Valentine gift for me. . . . with perhaps a tiny bunch of pretty rosebuds tossed in later. Shhhhh!!!!!!

Movie review next week perhaps. Enjoy your weekend wherever you are and whatever you do.

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Walking slowly with nature -

Natural art ~ rose petals on water.

We actually stepped out, away from hearth and home, and had a chilly
 yet sunny slow walk around part of the neighborhood Saturday afternoon.  
My return visit to the pain clinic on Friday - to chat with the doctor who gave
 me the spinal injection for my herniated disc a month ago - concluded
 with instructions to continue with gentle exercising at home, and to get 
out and walk slowly despite the nerve pain in my right leg!
The injection hasn't given me total relief by any means, however my
 pain seems to have lessened somewhat. Back surgery will be the last 
choice of treatment. Perhaps I'll try a second injection in a couple of
 months to see if that helps.

I took my camera with me to the pond hoping to get some photos of 
something interesting on such a cold winter day.
A couple had stopped by and thrown pretty rose petals into
the water - she told me they do that often as apparently Canada geese
eat them!  We are told not to feed them bread so perhaps recycling
 flower petals is a good idea.

I love the reflections of the bare trees in the pond water.

There were a few Canada geese on the pond and standing around on the banks.

Most surprising were this pair of the cutest diving birds ever. 
Not a great photo as they were quite a distance away. I've never seen them before, but with the help of my bird books I've identified them as Hooded Merganser ducks, a very interesting water bird.
Photos above via Carolina Birds

Not much color anywhere around the pond or woodland, did see
 plenty of Pyracantha though, their berries always a bright spark in winter.

This week started with a steady rain most of yesterday. The garden birds were sheltering in their favorite covered spots such as under the eaves of the potting shed, and of course here on the front porch. The Mockingbird has become quite a companion, often perching on the the outdoor furniture and looking in the dining room window for several minutes. . . . . . . 

. . . . . . and, surprise, yet another amaryllis (the second Apple Blossom), has opened two of four buds and will be another beauty brightening up my indoor garden for another week.
I hope your week is going well.

Saturday, February 5, 2022

Tulips for the table -


I found such a great buy on potted tulips for the table two days ago.  
They came six to a pot, just starting to unfurl their creamy petals, as only
 beautiful tulips can, displaying pinky-red edges that Diana the Huntress
 seems to find enlightening.
They came from LIDL, just $3.99 a pot, but providing more like a
 million dollar's worth of happy feelings on chilly winter days!

This morning the sun has come out illuminating the tulips.
They've started to open very quickly, so quickly in fact that if I look
 away for a few minutes they have already changed when I look back!

They look like this right now at 9:30 AM. . . . . . and I am ready for 
a day of enjoying my little indoor garden.
I've had a difficult time identifying this tulip online but think it might
be - 'World Expression' - which I found on a Canadian garden
website. If you beg to differ and can share another bloom which
resembles this one, please 'enlighten' me!
It really is a beauty.

Happy Saturday - enjoy your weekend.