Monday, August 29, 2016

Over the Weekend


Sometimes it's the simple things that make a weekend pleasant.

Things like sitting on the patio with a front row seat to the hummingbird activity.



Which, in turn, prompted a little activity on my part.
Cleaning & filling the feeder to insure future visits from these sweet little garden friends.

I continue to water the flower pots daily.  Sometimes twice a day.
They are looking a bit like I feel... ready for a breath of cooler air.
Going out to water them at times feels like drudgery.


While performing this drudgery on Saturday morning I was delighted to be joined by this butterfly fluttering around me.  It kept landing on the table and the chairs as if to say "go get the camera lady".  So, I did.

I chased it around the patio for awhile trying to get it to pose for me.  Once it did I went inside to consult my butterfly identification book as I'm not familiar with this one.  The book didn't provide the answer I was looking for. 
I know I'm not alone in the butterfly chasing.  I'm seeing a lot of butterfly posts popping up in blogland.  Maybe one of my fellow butterfly chasers can identify this one for me.

It seems as though Brett has now joined the ranks of the butterfly chasers.
He was out de-cobwebbing the house and came in to fetch the camera.  I was pleased to see that he was photographing butterflies and not cobweb makers.
He asked me to check out his first time efforts.  I gave him bonus points for capturing a bee along with his butterfly.

This weekend one of my favorite shops in the area had a "tailgating tasting event."  While I haven't tailgated in years, I am often making meals for my football loving family to eat during the game.  So, it was fun to get some new ideas.  I like the idea of having this chili starter on hand and the football shaped cheeseball made with this Roasted Garlic Onion Jam was very tasty.  Nice that they provided the recipe too.


After the tailgating tasting event we stopped into Kohl's.
While in the store there was a huge thunderstorm.  The rain pounded on the roof as we did our shopping.  Looking out the doors it seemed to have changed from summer to fall.  It was dark and a bit eerie looking.  Once the rain stopped we headed for the car.  As we were pulling out I was amazed to see this tree in all it's fall finery.  I thought maybe the scents of chili cooking and dark, eerie thunderstorms had confused me into thinking fall was already here.  So, I told Brett to stop the car so I could photograph the tree.
It is, in fact, sporting it's fall colors.  Not quite sure why, but I must admit it looked beautiful to me.


All of this got me thinking that no matter what story the thermometer or the trees are telling, the truth is the summer is winding down. 
On Sunday we decided that it was time to get out on the boat and enjoy the water .  It's been so hot this summer that we've only been out once. 
After baking my weekly bread, we packed a small picnic and headed out.  The only photo I took was of this passing sailboat.  They are always such a pretty sight gliding through the water.

Although it was early (even for me),
I did a wee bit of fall decorating before the weekend was over.
The shop that hosts the tailgating event has the most beautiful inspiration for the seasons.  After sampling the food, I wandered through there gathering ideas for fall.  I liked the way that they adorned the tops of their cabinets and hutches with greenery mixed with fall leaves and berries.  One, in particular, caught my eye.  Realizing that I already had the garland of ferns, I learned from one of the sale's associates that they had stuck some fall picks into it.  She led me to the picks, which were on sale that day.
Once home I felt it pertinent that I copy the display before I forgot how they had done it.  As the season progresses, I plan to change out the white platter with pumpkins or turkeys.  The greenery will be a base to highlight the display.
In the meantime, I don't think it's too obvious that I'm rushing the season a bit.


Each season has it's own unique beauty.
Although it's no secret that I'm looking forward to cooler weather, I will miss many things about the summer.  Things like:
Bare Feet
Corn on the Cob
Watermelon
Cherries
Peaches
Nectarines
Crunchy Cucumbers
Garden Grown Tomatoes
Butterflies, Hummingbirds, Flowers
Fresh from the Garden Herbs
BBQs
Fireflies
Iced Tea on the Patio


I hope you all had a good weekend.
As empty nesters moving close to retirement age, we seem to be finding ourselves with more free time on the weekends.  There was a time when we would have been thrilled to have this much free time on our hands.  Now, we are working toward a balance.  Some work, some relaxing and getting out and about at least one of the days. 
What is your idea of an ideal weekend?






Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Parsley Aplenty


When I first see these guys munching away on the parsley plants, there's always that moment of wondering whether to let them remain where they are or... well, that's just the question. Or, what?
I know if I let them stay they will happily have a feast until my parsley plants are soon nothing but bare stalks.  Most likely they will even invite their friends and family and make a party of it.
Squishing them is out of the question and I think if I carried them to a new home they would soon find their way back. 
What to do, what to do?
What would you do?


As much as I dislike losing much of my parsley crop, I dislike the thoughts of disrupting the life cycle of these guys even more.



Can't even imagine a garden without butterflies.

Unthinkable!


It seems the best solution is to plant plenty.
Some for them and some for us.
We like parsley, but we have our limits.
So, each summer we are happy to share with any caterpillars that happen by.

Today's caterpillars ~ Tomorrow's butterflies.




Saturday, August 20, 2016

In the Kitchen on a Summer Saturday


I'm toying with the idea of making all of our bread.
While I do make bread on occasion, we mostly buy it at the supermarket.
The pros to this idea:
~ knowing exactly what ingredients are going into each loaf
~ using up the yeast before it expires
~ the scent of bread baking
~ saving money on the grocery bill

The cons:
~ hmmm
~ ummm
~ gee, I can't think of any except that I might lose interest in the whole idea and go back to the convenience of buying it at the store.
But, for today, I am motivated and inspired to give it a try so I began my day in the kitchen baking bread.  A basic whole wheat loaf.  I let the bread machine whip up the dough and then baked it in the oven.


The kitchen was my happy place today.
Once the bread was baked, it was time to replenish the granola supply.


While the oats were out I decided it was also time to replenish the frozen fruit crisp crumbs.  Seems I first did this around this time last year after reading the recipe in the Mennonite Girls Can Cook Celebrations cookbook.  I believe the recipe can also be found here.
I love fruit crisps and I especially like the idea to keep the crumbs in the freezer.  It makes it so easy & convenient to take out just the amount needed to put a delicious fruit crisp on the table any time the craving strikes.


The inspiration for today's kitchen time.


My Double Delight roses are having a bit of a comeback.
When I noticed a bunch of buds forming earlier this week, I braved the oppressive humidity and treated them to a dose of Rose Tone.  I then gave them a long, slow drink from the garden hose.  They are now thanking me with beautiful flowers.  I feel a tad guilty for accepting them as most of the summer I have been neglecting them terribly.



At day's end there is a sense of satisfaction in surveying the fruits of one's labor. 
Looking forward to breakfast tomorrow.





Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Fluttering In


It seems like now would be the time for a what's new in the garden post.  The truth of the matter is it's been like a sauna out there and my interest in gardening has waned until the air cools off or the humidity hits the road.  Ha! Like that will happen anytime soon.
I am noticing that the newest arrivals to my garden are the same as many of your gardens.
Beautiful butterflies have been floating past the windows.
One day I braved the heat and chased one around for awhile.


In other garden news, the rudbeckia are the star of the show.
I spent a little time last evening pulling weeds and filling the hummingbird feeder.  My final task before retreating back into the A/C was to clip a few stems.


A bit of cheer on the kitchen counter.
I liked the way they paired up with this recent thrift shop find.

I nearly passed up this platter as it had definitely seen better days.
On closer inspection, the blues and yellows were calling my name and that bit of orange thrown in was what sealed the deal. 

While I don't make many purchases at the thrift shops anymore, it's still fun to find a little treasure from time to time.
My treasures lately seem to have a theme.
This tiny covered pumpkin dish was too cute to pass up and there's that orange again.


I should have done a before and after on this find.
I found it buried in a pile of pictures sporting a bright gold metal frame with a broken piece of plexiglass covering the needle work.  Dust was also covering it pretty heavily.  I nearly passed it by too until I took a closer look at the pretty colors in the leaves (even a touch of blue :).  Someone had spent a lot of time on this and it seemed a shame to see it in the pile.  Not long after that I was in another shop and found this frame.  I took a chance on it being a match.  With a bit of trimming I was pleased to find it was a perfect fit.  I think the whitewashed wood is much nicer than bright gold and it works well with my décor.

********
I suppose by now you have figured out the theme here.
I know it is still summer and I really don't want to rush the seasons, but I must admit that about now I'm happy to let a bit of fall  come fluttering in.





Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Main Event and An Added Bonus


 With the Pacific Ocean as a backdrop, the decor can be somewhat understated.


Pretty flowers in Mason jars looked just right for this beach wedding.

 While waiting for the ceremony to begin, we enjoyed the ocean breeze.  Have you ever attended a beach wedding?  This was a first for us and one that we had been looking forward to for months.

 
The bridesmaids and maid-of-honor waiting for the bride to make her arrival.  I thought their choice in dresses was just right for the occasion.
 

 The flower girl was not quite three.
She did a wonderful job tossing the petals while carefully maneuvering the sand.

 Then, in the distance, we could see the bride and her father.

 The beautiful bride, Megan and her dad (my brother).
I smiled when I saw his feet.


 Also just right for the occasion.




 ;D



 After graduating from college in Michigan, my brother went to UCLA to obtain his PhD.  Along with the PhD he obtained a love for California and only came back to Michigan to visit.  His high school sweetheart followed him there and soon they were married.  Their 33rd anniversary fell on Megan's wedding day.

After the ceremony we made our way down the beach to the wedding venue where I managed to take a picture of my brother giving his speech.  He had us laughing and tearing up a time or two. 

One last picture of the bride and groom with the maid-of-honor and the best man.
After that the camera was all but forgotten as we enjoyed the food, dance floor and socializing.
There was lots of socializing to be done.  Not only with my brother and his family, but my three "west coast cousins" and their families.

It had been almost 25 years since we had seen them last.
We had a lot of catching up to do.  So much so that we met again the next morning for brunch before we had to head our separate ways.
My mom was the youngest of six children.  At one time we cousins would get together often.  I especially remember the yearly Thanksgiving celebration.  We would all gather around a ping pong table to enjoy our turkey dinner.  There were cousins by the dozens, it seemed. Through the years we have become scattered all over the country.
Having the opportunity to re-connect with them was a true bonus to an already wonderful wedding.


~ Kim






 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Continuing Through California

** Capitola**
Ten days wasn't nearly long enough to see the sights in California.
It is a BIG state.  A big and beautiful state.  We moved from place to place for the first seven nights and did our best to see the highlights of the area.
 After our time visiting the national parks (previous post), we headed for the Santa Cruz area and spent the night in the nearby town of Capitola.




These colorful cottages were across from the patio restaurant where we had dinner that night.


A quick walk along the beach the next morning before it was time to move on.  The homes and gardens were so pretty and the view they had of the ocean was gorgeous. 

I thought this house was particularly attractive.
I often feel a bit timid when it comes to photographing other people's homes, but Brett stood atop of a rock front & center and snapped away.  I'm glad now that he is bolder than I in that department.

The next day it was off to Carmel-By-The-Sea.
We spent time looking in the shops and had lunch in a French cafe.


Carmel is a charming little town with fun shops and interesting architecture.
Dogs are treated well here thanks to the efforts of Doris Day, a longtime resident.


Flowers are plentiful.
I couldn't pass up this window box without a picture.. or two.. maybe even three.



Clint Eastwood is a resident of Carmel and plays an important part in it's history with his Mission Ranch.  You can learn more about that here.  We were told that the restaurant was very good, but it was only open for dinner and by then we were on to our next destination.


The next destinations were found by way of a drive along the amazingly scenic Pacific Coast Highway.
We marveled about the fact that the last time we had been on this road was 1974 for him and 1977 for me.  Long before we knew one another.
Once again I was glad Brett was the driver.
I know for certain this part of the trip wouldn't have happened if it were up to me to get us there.  
When one is hanging off the side of a cliff hanging over the Pacific Ocean, it is cause for concern when the traffic comes to an abrupt halt.  The many curves in the road made it impossible to see what the delay was.  Eventually he turned the car off and we enjoyed the scenery.  I was secretly hoping we would be moving again before dark, but if we had to be stopped, what an absolutely gorgeous place to be.


In time we were moving again and soon found out the reason for the delay.
Yikes!  Not sure how that happened, but there didn't appear to be any serious injuries.


One more look from the Pacific Coast Highway drive.


We moved on to the next charming town, Cambria.
A visit to the Hearst Castle yielded many more photos.
That could make another post in itself.  Heck the ceilings alone could be post worthy, but I am reigning myself in here and showing one picture of my favorite ceiling which was found on one of the castle balconies.
We spent one night in Cambria and had dinner here.  
It has an interesting history and we were introduced to Olallieberries which we liked well enough to bring home a jar of Olallieberry jam.  Sadly we had to get on the road too early the next morning to check out the town.  I will say it did look like a fun place to explore.

Now it was time to head to the town of Summerland and the real reason for our trip to California.
There we stayed for three nights in a cute little cottage that overlooked the ocean.
Well, I should say there was a major freeway, a railroad track and the main road through town in front of us, but from where we sat, the ocean view was lovely.


Summerland is right near Santa Barbara.
We visited the wharf and had lunch one day.





 This was our first visit to Santa Barbara.
Standing on the wharf, I was struck by the way the view rose from ocean to a line of palm trees to the city rising up with the mountains in the background.  So pretty!





Another view of the city.
Lots of palm trees and Spanish style architecture.
This way you see the mountain backdrop.




And this way an ocean backdrop.
Swoon!!

 At this point the sightseeing was over and the big day arrived.
Because I have already gone on for far too long, I shall save that for my next post.
If you have stuck with me this long you may deserve a medal.
We don't get to California very often so we aimed to make the most of it while we could.  I think we were successful with our mission, however I would have loved more time in some of those small towns :D.