Wednesday, July 1, 2020

July and Butterflies


Hmm...
 Be The Fireworks 
an interesting thought in light of our present situation.




In the early spring, when things were looking uncertain about whether we would be shopping at the garden centers, I ordered a butterfly bush online.  Having never done that before I wasn't sure what to expect.  It arrived looking healthy and has been thriving on the patio ever since.
While waiting for the butterflies to show up, I added this pretty plant stake to liven things up.




Just yesterday our first visitor arrived.


I was thrilled that it lingered long enough for me to snap a few photos.


After consulting my butterfly guidebook, I think it is a pipe vine swallowtail.  There are several swallowtails that look similar, so I could be wrong about that.
You may see another guest on the lower portion of the bloom in the photo above.  Are you familiar with that guy?  He is an unwelcome guest and I'm not ashamed to admit that when I encounter them, they are dropped to the ground and stepped on.  Squished... pulverized... take that Mr. Japanese Beetle!!


The butterflies have been showing up indoors too.
I felt a great sense of accomplishment upon putting the last piece in this beautiful puzzle.
My sister (Hi Norma) sent it to me as a gift quite awhile ago.  She is an expert at putting together 1000-2000 piece puzzles.  As for me, it had been years and years since I've done any.  After doing two with 500 pieces, I decided to challenge myself a bit more.  I won't set any speed records for finishing, but once things started coming together it was a wonderful way to pass the time at home.

I hope you are all staying well.
What's been keeping you busy lately?



Sunday, June 14, 2020

Appreciating The Gifts of Nature


The great outdoors has been providing gifts to make our stay-at-home days prettier, tastier and slightly more interesting.
Currently in bloom is the Annabelle hydrangea.  I love that it only takes a few to make an arrangement for the dining table.  I really love them in an aqua Ball jar and if it's a vintage jar, even better.


Speaking of vintage...
I couldn't resist finding a flower in the garden for this wee Ball jar.



I've been picking a few blueberries every day.
So good on our cereal or oats in the morning.


One afternoon I stepped out on the patio and was greeted with this.
I probably would have missed it altogether had I not gone out there for something.
After the rain, it was a beautiful sight.  One I didn't want to miss.  So, I dashed in to fetch a beverage.



A refreshing glass of iced tea.
I sat and sipped and enjoyed nature's beautiful gift.

🌈🌈🌈




The tea was made earlier with the mint that is currently flourishing in the garden.
I popped a sprig in with one of these green tea tea bags.
A tasty, healthy way to wet your whistle.
While I'm not advertising the Luzianne brand of tea, I do think it's my favorite.  I also love it in the regular (non-green) form.  
Are you an iced tea drinker and, if so, do you have a favorite?

A side note on the new Blogger format:

After reading about the changes I decided to bite the bullet and try this post using the new format.  I'm in the group who resists change, especially with regards to computer related topics.  I have to say it wasn't too different.  The one thing I couldn't figure out at first was how to enlarge photos.  Thankfully I was able to figure it out after exploring a bit further.
I guess the true test will be when the publish button is hit.
Ready... Set... Go!
(wish me luck :)




Saturday, June 6, 2020

On Venturing Out

Here in North Carolina we are in phase 2 of the governor's "Safer at Home" Covid restrictions.  Slowly things are easing and more businesses are opening.  I am glad that our governor is taking it slow and not rushing into things.
As of May 22 outdoor gatherings of 25 people maximum are allowed.  Indoors it is 10.


I have been cautious about going out.  So, even though the restrictions relaxed somewhat, I wasn't sure how I felt about a recent invitation to get together with my neighbors for a friendly gathering.  After careful consideration, we decided to accept the invitation.  We all brought our own beverages and stayed outside the whole time.  We did each bring an appetizer/dessert type of dish to share.  It was evident that everybody planned dishes that could be picked up individually rather than things like chips and dips.
Because I haven't gone out much in the past few months. it felt a bit strange at first.  (keep a distance, don't hug, etc.).  Things that used to come so natural now had to be thought through carefully.
In the end it was a lovely evening.  The weather was delightful and it was good to socialize and get to know my neighbors a bit better.


Not long after that we were invited to a 40th birthday party for our nephew.  This was for family only.  The food was brought in from a restaurant and most of the time we were outside talking and playing yard games.  It was very odd not to hug family members as we are a family who usually hugs one another.  In the way that this whole situation has us feeling like everybody has cooties, there was a somewhat awkward moment when the birthday cake came out covered in candles for the birthday "boy" to blow out.  As the birthday song was being sung I wondered if I was the only one who had hesitations about him blowing all over the cake.  Normally this is just an accepted part of the birthday celebration.  Now suddenly I wondered if we were risking illness by eating a piece of that cake.  As nobody else seemed phased by it, I wasn't about to say anything.
I ate the cake.
The photo above was taken with masks to capture the current situation on the day of this 40th birthday celebration.
Masks weren't worn during the party, but they were discussed and compared.


Phase 2 also permitted hair salons to re-open.
On Friday I ventured back to the salon for a haircut.
Besides the mask my hairdresser was wearing, the first thing I noticed upon entering was how bright everything looked in there.  She told me that while they were shut down, everything was painted and sanitized.  A good use of time, I think.
For years it has been my routine to meet my sister-in-law after a salon appointment for lunch and a bit of shopping (usually thrift shop treasure hunting :).  Because one of the thrift shops had re-opened we decided to check it out.  It did feel good (in a cautious sort of way) to be able to do something that had been forbidden for so long.  We wore masks and practiced social distancing.  There weren't many treasures to be found, although we did manage to find a few books.  Something we were both looking for as our book stashes have dwindled in the last few months.

After shopping we would normally have lunch out.
I wasn't sure I was ready for that, but we headed to the restaurant to see about dining outdoors.  The doors were locked.  The sign said orders could be called in and then delivered to the patio.  So there we stood talking on the phone to the girl inside the restaurant.  Although we were looking right at each other, all communication was through that locked door.  Credit cards were the only method of payment and had to be read off on the phone.  No contact with cards.  While I completely understand, it seemed so sad.
We waited on the patio until the waitress came out in her mask and delivered the order.  Across the parking lot was the local W*lmart with the windows boarded up.  Although we weren't in a big city, there had been talk about upcoming protests, so I guess precautions were put in place.  Again... so very sad.
The potted plants that normally add beauty to this particular restaurant patio were brimming with weeds.  As we ate and discussed this current situation, I gazed into the pot sitting next to me.  There grew one lone petunia surrounded by tall weeds and trailing weeds.  Feeling sad and rather helpless, I started pulling weeds.  Weed after weed after weed.  A few bites of sandwich followed by deadheading that poor petunia.  Once that pot was tended to I glanced at all the others and the window boxes hanging along the fence.  The weeds were winning.  This restaurant where we have enjoyed lunches for years now so neglected was sad to see.  One more small business struggling to stay afloat.  I pray that they are able to.



Monday, June 1, 2020

Weekend Views


Saturday dawned bright and sunny.
After all the rain we've had it was an especially welcome way to start the weekend.
Over breakfast, we discussed places we could go while still practicing social distancing.  The local farmer's market came to mind.


~farmer's market haul ~

Our farmer's market is small and located in a church parking lot.
Efforts had been made to keep the vendors well spaced from one another.  



I couldn't resist this beautiful bouquet of flowers.  The colors are so vibrant and now they are adding a cheerful dose of color to the dining table.
Our local strawberries are in season and so good.  Nice and sweet with that rosy red color throughout.
One of the vendors sells breads and other baked goods.  We brought home a loaf of her sourdough which is especially good toasted.
After coming home and putting the flowers in a vase, we lunched on sourdough toast and fresh strawberries.


It's been far too long since we've had homemade cookies in the house, so I remedied that.  Half went in the freezer.


The sunny weather continued through Sunday.
It was a delightful day to read on the patio.
This book was finished.
A real page turner!



Then, I started this one.
A lighthearted read with a gardeny theme.
A bit of gardening was done between books.  (gotta burn off those cookies calories somehow ;).


These two were purchased a few months ago.
I tucked them into my closet as they looked like good choices for summertime reading.  I have read a few books by this author and enjoyed them.  They take place on Nantucket.  These books are described as perfect beach reads.  I won't be going to the beach, but give me an icy drink and a lounge chair on the patio and I can pretend I'm there :)

🌞🏖🌞


I hope your weekend was a good one.

Have you read any good books lately?

Welcome June!







Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Shade Gardening While Wishing for Sun



A few weeks ago we donned our masks and headed to the local garden center.  Normally I would enjoy spending hours looking at everything and formulating new ideas for my garden.  This time it felt more like a time to keep my distance from people, find a few plants and get out of there.  So, I concentrated on picking up a few things to liven up the patio as this is where we often spend time when we are outside.  Because the patio is covered, I was on the hunt for shade loving plants that would also offer color.
Coleus and impatiens to the rescue!



The patio at our last house was in full sun so my containers were always filled with sun loving plants.
I haven't used coleus before, but as I looked at what came home with me, I had fun matching the impatiens to the coordinating coleus.  While potting them, I gained a new appreciation for the beauty of the coleus colors and patterns.  They almost look like they have been hand painted.

Since I know this isn't the year I will be making my normal weekly trips to the garden center, I pulled out the pots I had stashed in the garage and filled them up to tuck here and there. 



These will look nicer when they fill in.
For now they are providing that pop of color sorely lacking from our gloomy, rainy weather.  It rained all last week and is forecast to rain all this week.
Rain Rain Go Away!!

☔⛈⛆☔

How's the weather in your area?




Tuesday, May 12, 2020

From the Herb Garden ~ Dehydrating Rosemary

I've been growing rosemary in my garden for years.
Usually when I want to use some in cooking, I clip a few sprigs, mince it up and add it to the food. That works fine for the most part, but sometimes if the weather is stormy or I'm in my pj's and don't feel like trotting out to the garden, it loses it's appeal


This morning I decided to take measures to insure that there would be rosemary at the ready despite the circumstances.
Here the rosemary grows in the ground year round and, if I'm not careful, it will soon be a rather large shrub.  So it is a good idea to prune it a bit every now and then.  
After a light pruning I washed and lightly dried the trimmings.
Then I laid them out on the dehydrator rack that came with my counter top oven.


I've had this oven over a year now and just realized it had a dehydrate feature.  :)
I guess it's time to put it to the test.  
The door stays ajar while the dehydrating takes place inside.
The scent of drying rosemary is a bit like Christmas.

 Once dried, I removed the needles from the stems
and ran them through my coffee grinder.  Actually, I no longer grind coffee beans at home so it has been repurposed into an herb grinder.  


I chose to grind it up pretty fine as sometimes despite how finely I chop it, rosemary is a bit woody.  I think this will be just the texture I'm looking for when I use it on the potatoes I'll be roasting for dinner tonight.  

If you are a fan of rosemary, what are your favorite ways to use it?





Sunday, May 10, 2020

Mother's Day 2020


It's been a busy couple of weeks around here, but I did want to pop in and wish all the moms out there a Happy Mother's Day.
It seems like a Mother's Day greeting should include something floral so I'm sharing a shot from a recent walk in the neighborhood.  The knock out roses have put out their first flush of blooms and they were especially beautiful on this sunny day in May.



Part of the recent busyness has to do with a visit from this little guy.
On day one of his stay he announced that he wanted to make birthday cards for Daddy, Uncle Mike and a Mother's Day card for Mommy.  So, I rounded up the crafting supplies and we went to work.  They've been tucked into a drawer waiting for the big day.
Today is the day.
Happy Birthday Daddy!




Happy Birthday Uncle Mike!

🎂🎂





Every so often Mother's Day falls on the very day my two sons were born.  This just happens to be one of those years.
So, while the celebrations will look a lot different this year, I'm happy we can be together for the day.  Couldn't ask for a nicer Mother's Day gift.