Thursday, April 21, 2016

A Delightful Day in the Garden





Last week, it was all about the strawberries.
While they are still growing and ripening, this week's story seems to be all about the "Double Delight" tea rose.
I was delighted to discover three blooms had opened just in time for my birthday.  I cut myself a little "happy birthday to me" bouquet and have been enjoying them on the kitchen counter all week. 


I think that the organic fertilizer I applied back here  worked like a charm.  I've never had such huge blooms and I've never had so many blooms.  Delightful!!

 When I went out to take pictures of the roses, I couldn't help but notice the first peony of the season.
This truly is a delightful time to be in the garden.
 
 


Friday, April 15, 2016

Table for One

~ Cheesy Mini Meat Turkey Loaf, Baked Sweet Potato & Roasted Asparagus ~
 
Every now and then I find myself dining solo, as was the case during Brett's recent two week business trip.
I don't think too much about it at the breakfast and lunch table.
Dinner, however, is another matter altogether.
It seems rather lonely to me and I find I don't often think it seems worth it to cook for one person.


~ Two egg omelette w/ red onion, broccoli & cheese, bagel half, fresh pineapple & strawberries ~
 
On the other hand, two weeks is a long time to live on junk food.
So, even though it seemed more tempting at times, I challenged myself to come up with a few decent meals to serve myself.
When I was raising my kids, it was very important to me to have the family together at the dinner table.  I did my best to set a nice table and serve a nourishing meal.  Now that it's just the two of us, I still honor the dinner table tradition to some extent. 
With all of this time to myself, I pondered the reasons why it didn't seem worthwhile to do the same thing for me, myself & I.
It gave me time to think about the people I have known that dine alone on a regular basis.  I know for some of them it was the result of losing a spouse and for them sitting alone at the dinner table was far too lonely.  In some cases they chose to take dinner on the couch in front of the tv as sitting alone at the table was too strong of a reminder of their great loss.  In another instance, dinner was at a restaurant each evening as being home was too quiet and too lonely.  Being in a place where there were other people and wait staff who knew your name was the way to go.
Then there was Paul.  An extremely creative, talented and energetic friend from my past.  He lived in a small apartment above the gift shop he ran.  He was one who was often up until the wee hours creating some beautiful work of art or fabulous recipe.
While his lifestyle was completely different from mine, I was impressed by the beauty he created in his small apartment and inspired by the fabulous food he would prepare for his own meals.


One day I looked out the window and noticed the oldest of my azaleas were in full bloom.  Taking a cue from Paul, I decided that even though I was the only one who would enjoy them, it was worthwhile to get out there and snip a few.


So, I did.
That prompted me to dig through the vintage linen vault for a cheery spring tablecloth.


~ Split Pea Soup with Multigrain Bread ~
 
It's hard to make split pea soup look appetizing.
A little cropping and an "aerial" shot to hopefully take the emphasis off the pea green soup.

 

Who ever said it isn't worth it to set a pretty table for one?
The flowers and tablecloth sent me on a mission to find a few candles to add to the mix.
No law against candlelight for one as far as I know. ;D.


Once the candles were lit it seemed a good idea to check out the dishes.
Apparently it wasn't a good idea to get out the iron.
In some instances it is good that I'll be the only one to see it.


~Lovella's Massaged Kale Salad, Butternut Squash Ravioli with Butternut Squash Sauce ~
 
With kale growing in the garden now, it was decided that it should be included on the menu.  I found Lovella's method for massaging the kale beforehand to be a great way to soften the leaves.  My kale crop isn't super bountiful, but it was enough to provide salad for three nights.


~ Dessert ~
 
As for the strawberries,
two were ripe last week.
An ideal dessert for one.
Maybe there are some perks to dining solo after all.
 
 

 

Monday, April 11, 2016

A Strawberry Story














Sometimes the pictures really do tell the story.
Care to guess how this one might end? 



Monday, April 4, 2016

Monday Morning Mini Bouquet


 I spent a few hours on Saturday weeding my garden.
Everything is growing like crazy now including the weeds.
Perhaps I should say especially the weeds!  They always seem to thrive.
While working out there I noticed the first buds on my roses.
These are the Knock Out variety.  In my garden they put on their best show in the spring and then again in the late fall.  I think they are getting too much shade in the summer.  Either way, I love them for the fact that they require so little care compared to tea roses.  I do have one tea rose which is also full of buds.  I can hardly wait for them to bloom.  They require a bit more care, but the fragrance is so nice that I am willing to pamper them a little more.

Being that it's Monday I thought we all could use a little bouquet to start the week off on the right foot.  So, I tiptoed out to the garden this morning and snipped a few to share with you.

Wishing you all a wonderful week ahead.

Happy Monday!





Saturday, April 2, 2016

What Happens in the Attic


 Our house has two walk in attics.
On one hand that's great for storing all of the things a family tends to collect through the years.  On the other hand it's not so great for the very same reason.
I've learned that after 34 years of marriage a family can collect an awful lot (especially one member).  Having these nice attic spaces provides a great place to store these collections until it soon becomes an "outta sight, outta mind" situation.    Uh-Oh!!  Sooner or later it hits you that you have way more stuff than you can possibly need or ever use.

Years ago Brett put two sets of wire shelves in there to try to make some sense of the clutter collections.  Recently I went into the attic and declared it a disaster.  I should have thought to take a picture, but this is embarrassing enough.  Instead, you are seeing the "after" pictures.  I've corralled like items together.  Now if I need a basket I know right where to find it.  Same goes for fake plants, candle holders and even fake lemons/limes.

 Turning the other way I can easily access all of those vintage treasures that circulate through the vignettes I enjoy creating throughout the year.

Most of these treasures have come from thrift shops or rummage sales.

If you've been reading my blog for awhile you will, no doubt, recognize many of these "treasures".

You would probably be amazed to know that I have just purged a great deal of my vintage treasures.  I'm finding that at this stage of life it is getting to be more work than pleasure to constantly be changing little vignettes throughout the house. My trips to the thrift stores now are mostly to make donations.  If I want to "shop" for a treasure, I'll head for the attic.  
This cleaning spree in my attic was a big job and gave me lots of time to think.  While I know I'll always love the sweet vintage pieces, I also know that we are heading for the downsizing years of life. 

Once order was restored to the attic, I felt a little reward was in order.  These vintage baby items I have found through the years became a new "vignette" right when you open the attic door.  My boys laugh at the stuff I find adorable and my one and only grandson is far more interested in Hot Wheels than ancient baby stuff.  So, this sentimental grandma will retreat to the attic occasionally to get her fill of precious treasures from days gone by.
Anybody want to come and join me?




Thursday, March 31, 2016

Farewell to March

Every time I stepped outside in the month of March there was something new to discover.  This is a small sampling of the beauty found in my own backyard.  I'm so glad it's so pretty out there as inside has been another matter entirely.  
The townhouse my in-laws owned has been on the market for a few months.  Shortly before Easter it was sold and it has been a moving marathon since then.  Furniture has been moved in, out, up and down.  As often happens, a trickle down effect has necessitated major clean outs of linen closets, bedroom closets, attics and drawers.  There is still a garage to be dealt with.  I guess that will happen in April.
When Easter arrived, my dining room was filled with bedroom furniture and the table was loaded with stuff, stuff and more stuff.
Needless to say I had no interest in bringing out more stuff to decorate the house for Easter.  Our Easter dinner was in a restaurant this year.  I did, however, manage to make my famous carrot cake which was enjoyed in the kitchen.
The moving, sorting and purging is nearing completion.
It has been a lot of work and has given me a lot of food for thought.
But, in the end, it feels so good to be lightened up and organized.
Now I can go outside and play.
Hooray!!




Monday, March 21, 2016

A Good Day in the Garden

 ~ Dogwood ~

On a beautiful spring day there's really nowhere else I'd rather be than in my garden. 

~ Eastern Redbud ~

For it is here that I find peace.
Everyday worries fade to the background as I breathe in the freshness of the air and take in the beauty of the colors quietly dotting the landscape.  
 

I think of my mother as I tend to the wee grape hyacinths.
She grew them in her Michigan garden where they multiplied like crazy.  She also fostered in me a lifelong love for gardening.


 Today was a day for picking up sticks.
Every time I walk around the yard I seem to end up with an armful of branches.  Windy days seem to shake them loose from the trees.


While the earth is still soft, the weeds usually slip out easily.
It's always satisfying to remove the entire root along with the weed.


While down on the ground pulling weeds, I noticed this little blue flower coming into bloom.  How pretty!  I'm not sure what it is.  I'm thinking some type of phlox.


It was a good day to trim back the ornamental grasses as the new green growth is coming out now.  
 

 All of that bending over made my back a bit stiff.  
Seemed like a good time to stretch out on the grass.
My gardening tends to be a mix of work and play.

~ Loropetalum ~

While sitting on the grass I looked to my left and saw this.
He has the right idea, don't you think?
He is surrounded by dwarf Loropetalum shrubs.  Are you familiar with them?  I wasn't until we moved to North Carolina.  They are blooming all throughout our neighborhood now and look so pretty.  We have some in the front yard that are huge.  I am hoping that this dwarf variety stays true to it's name.
 
 After deciding that I had lounged on the grass long enough, it was time for a nice stretch. 
Bend and stretch and reach for the sky.
Oh my, that is one gorgeous sky!


 Back to work.
This early spring day was the right time to apply fertilizer to the rose bushes.  I am in the process of changing over to only organic fertilizers. 

It often seems like we wait so long for spring's arrival and once it gets here we have to pay close attention or we might miss something.
For instance, most of my daffodils and hyacinths have come and gone.  Soon these, too, will be done until next year. 


 When the day's work was done it was time for a coffee break.
While sipping my coffee I watched a pair of butterflies "dancing" together as they flew higher and higher.  Once they were out of my sight I watched a pair of blackbirds flying back and forth across the yard most likely setting up housekeeping in one of the tall trees.
Spring has sprung and everywhere I look there are signs of life.  



 Happy Spring!
May you find joy in the beauty of this new season.