Tuesday, September 27, 2022

September touches of gold -

It's almost over! How did it pass so quickly?

If you aren't really into bright orange 'Halloween' pumpkins there
 now seem to be so many other colors to choose from.
I really love these yellow ones. . . . . . .

Soon the fig tree will drop all its leaves. . . . . .so far just a few
 golden ones have fallen. . . . . . . 

OK I admit I did bring home a couple of small orange pumpkins, for the
front porch. . . . . . . and to welcome the arrival of October later this week!

Note the Swedish Ivy. This was the second summer on the porch.  
it has grown so much whilst hanging outside, and now it's starting to
 bloom with those pretty white 'candle flowers.' 
Later, before the first frost, I will have to find a place to over-winter
 it again - no space in the house.  

If you grow these, any tips are appreciated. 
Can I cut it way back to make it more manageable during the winter?
Would it survive in an unheated space such as the potting shed?
Should I ask my neighbor with the glass enclosed sunroom to
 adopt it for the winter months again?

Friday, September 23, 2022

"Good Morning Autumn"


A brief introduction to Autumn in North Carolina on this lovely Friday morning.

This morning at 7 AM the light on the fig tree was so beautiful
following our first cool night.

This made me jump! Our resident Charlie gecko clinging onto the dining
 room window to wish me "good morning."

The last of the dahlia blooms still enticing the bumble bees.

Definitely a toast and marmalade morning!

Enjoy your weekend everyone.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Then.........and Now!

I'm not saying life has returned to normal. After all is there really a 'normal' when everything can change so suddenly?  Days come and go and every one is different. My virtual visit of the last 12 days to the UK is over. It was completely different from my real in-person visit back in June. Arriving home the week after the Platinum Jubilee was somewhat sad as we missed the celebration - but of course much quieter. I think now what if we had planned to visit during the recent two weeks, how would that have impacted our time. . . . . . I doubt it would have been a vacation.

Growing up in a family who loved and respected Queen Elizabeth II and the monarchy, losing her, no matter when, was always going to be a day of grief for me despite being so far away from home. You may think it audacious of me to still call England 'home' having been gone almost 60 years, but it is and always will be. I can't ever change that.

So now I'm moving on and planning Autumn days and some travel come October. Decorating the cottage is low key, no over the top pumpkin displays outside but perhaps a large pot of bright chrysanthemums to take the place of the fading canna lily. Indoors I've a vignette on the dining room table, small white pumpkins on the mantel. A few more wait in the wings to go on the front porch once the 90F days leave - please let that be soon!

Butternut squash, often said to be the 'favorite squash' of many, is always a pleasure to cook with. Sometimes though, when the local growing season is long over and the squash are not so good in the grocery stores, I think back to these, just harvested from the field, tender to cut, quick to cook, and so very flavorsome as a bowl of soup or a savory roast. I was thrilled when I found these at the pumpkin farm on Saturday. Yesterday I stocked up with fresh carrots, parsnips and ginger -
so I'm heading to the kitchen now where I'll get cracking on something tasty for supper. Also bought two roasting pumpkins. . . . . . more on preparing them another time as they will stay fresh for quite a while.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Coming up for air -

The past week has been one of reflection and I admit
 to many, many hours in front of the television, or staying
 in touch with the happenings in the UK on my phone or
laptop. I felt the need to gather with my people across
 the pond in some way to honor our late Queen.

Being British, I was raised in a family where Royal
pageantry was embraced. My maternal Grandfather was
an officer in the Coldstream Guards. My Mother and her
siblings grew up in Windsor where he was stationed and
they used the castle grounds as their playground.
Later, my Mother was a Royal dressmaker in London and
worked on clothes for Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.

I saw Her Majesty twice, first as a 9 year old child when she visited
near my home in July 1952 to attend the Royal Agricultural Show.
We had a day off school, were crowded onto local buses for the 
short ride, and then lined up along the street waving small
 Union Jack flags as she was driven by in an open car.
I can still recall the excitement of that special day.

via Devon Live

Elizabeth II's first visit to Devon as Queen was in July 1952 when she came 
to the Royal Agricultural Show at Stover near Newton Abbot. She arrived
 in the town by train and nearly 50,000 people packed the streets and Courtenay Park

My second sighting of the Queen was in Boston in 1976
when she visited for the Bicentennial celebration. She arrived via
 the Royal Yacht 'Britannia' on a beautiful July day. I lived in
Massachusetts then so again didn't have far to go to see her.

On Monday morning I will be up at 5:30 AM to prepare
to watch the funeral at Westminster Abbey. Later that day
 I will be watching as The Queen is taken back to Windsor 
Castle where she will be interred in the royal vault in
the gothic 15th century St. George's Chapel, alongside
 her Husband Prince Philip, Father, King George VI, Mother, 
Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, and sister Princess Margaret.

Today I needed to get away and get out into the beautiful fresh air.
We drove south of the city to our usual farm for pumpkins. 
Tucked into the countryside we were warmly welcomed by our
 farm friends. Timing was perfect as they opened today to sell the
 first harvest picking and I was able to get some great ones for
 decorating and cooking.  
Will show you more later.

Friday, September 9, 2022

A sad time in British history -

Rest in Peace
Queen Elizabeth II 

Long Live The King
King Charles III

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Autumn is waiting in the wings. . . . .


Knitting needles are out. 
A sign of what's to come. 
I will stay busy and creative while watching movies
 and such during those many long evenings ahead!

My favorite season is on the way. Gently moving closer through the slightly
 shorter days and cooler nights. The leaves on the massive oaks have yet
 to turn; the fig tree still bears remnants of its fruitful bounty; the
 hydrangea blooms are rusty, their leaves dropping haphazardly into the
 flower beds, having struggled through the hot, dry summer to make a
show and present their seasonal best.

September is bringing changes and I'm ready, are you?

I'm not planning much in the way of Autumn decor, just moving things about
on shelves, adding my papier-mâché versions of pumpkins and the
 lovely painting of the white pumpkin - a favorite always. I took them out of
 storage over this long weekend and couldn't resist displaying them.
A visit to the pumpkin farm will come later once the weather has cooled.
I will look for green/grey/white pumpkins for a dining room table display
and some potted chrysanthemums for the front steps.

Do you have plans to decorate for Autumn?

Sunday, September 4, 2022

The week that was!

This past week went well despite ongoing heat and no rain at all. Dragging out the garden hoses helped the shrubs a little . . . . . . . but obviously didn't help with my shoulder and back issues. Thankfully Bob took over when I'd done my bit!

We did take a side trip over to the North Carolina Museum of Art after picking up the laptop from the certified Apple dealer. Luckily we thought to throw hats in the car having planned to walk through the gardens and park area, but not go inside the buildings. Being so hot, 91F, we didn't stay too long but did enjoy a walk and a rest along the way. As Noel Coward wrote eons ago, only "Mad dogs and Englishmen (and in my case, women) go out in the midday sun", and yes we were almost alone which made it quiet and peaceful. It was hard to resist dipping toes into the pool in the Rodin Garden, and lovely to see waterlilies surviving the heat.

Should have taken a chilled drink with us!

The Mirror Maze
North Carolina Museum of Art

Auguste Rodin
French 1840-1917
The Three Shades

I did turn on the oven to bake one thing this week - another apple and
 plum galette - but kept meals to salads mostly.

This salad was quick and easy to make and is really good. 
My dear friend Ruth in Wiltshire, England shared it this week
 and I made it, along with grilled salmon on a bed of kale quinoa,
for supper in the gazebo last evening.
Haricots verts steamed for a few minutes until still a little crunchy.
Drain well and, while still warm, add small tomatoes cut in half, some
 chopped red onion and a garlic clove. Toss with a simple dressing of
 one part red wine vinegar, two parts good olive oil, and freshly ground
 pepper - we have cut back on salt so left that out and didn't miss it at all!

As for the flowers, the addition of two beautiful elephant ears (gifted to me by
 my hair stylist on Friday when getting my hair cut) really took them to another level. 
Note I added my sweet leather elephant to the table . . . . . seemed appropriate.

Hope you are enjoying the Labor Day weekend.
Here's to another good week ahead.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Life's Ups & Downs. . . . . . . .

Yes, I'm back on my newer laptop. Picked it up yesterday and everything
 appears to be OK. 

I've stayed busy this week cleaning out kitchen cabinets, sorting through
spices and dried herbs etc., throwing out some which were far too old, 
cleaning containers I will keep. Wiping shelves, bottles, dry food
 containers etc. 
What started all that? 
 A near kitchen disaster, one I'll tell you about just in case you ever
find yourself about to do what I did.

If you use them be careful . . . . . . . . don't make the same mistake
 I did last Sunday!!!
When I took out the glass container to add some seeds to my
 breakfast yogurt, I noticed some disgusting little worms crawling
 up the inside. 
I was so upset and grossed out that in my haste to dispose of the
 entire contents, about 6 ounces, I dumped the lot down the
 garbage disposal and turned it on.  About an hour later Bob
 asked me why the water in the other sink - we have a double
 sink - was not running down the drain!
Then I realized what I'd done. Chia seeds are so tiny and yet
 once wet expand into a huge gelatinous mass. . . . . . .which
 they had done in my drainpipe. If you add them to smoothies
 and don't drink them quickly you will have noticed this.
It took several hours with a container of drain de-clogger, hot
 water, and a neighbor's plastic 'snake' before the clog dissolved
 and water gurgled down the pipe again!
Thankfully no call to a plumber and a huge bill.

Are you planning something big for the Labor Day weekend?
We will be spending time watering that's for certain. With no rain
to speak of and continuing high temperatures the garden is sad, 
dry as a bone, drooping and dying.
Enjoy your time.