Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Little More About the Retractable Awning

For those of you who requested a few more shots of the retractable awning, I've tried to give you an idea of what it is all about.  Here you see it fully extended.  It extends to the edge of our patio and shades the majority of the patio.  Ahhh ... relief at last :).

Here I am sitting on the patio (in the glorious shade:) watching my boys play the new yard game they bought their dad for Father's Day.  You can see that there is a slight overhang along the front edge.

This will give you an idea of how it is attached to the brick wall.
You can also see how it rolls up on the roller.
It was quite loud when they were drilling into the brick.
In this picture you can also see part of one of the "arms" that hold the awning out when it is extended.

In this picture the awning is about half way open.
You can see how the arms are moving in.
When the awning is fully extended the arms are straight out.

This is how it looks when the awning is in the up position.
The salesman brought a book of swatches that we could choose from.  There was just about every color you could think of and even some with patterns.  We opted for  a shade that would match our trim and grout colors on the house.
We had it installed before Easter and have been enjoying it  immensely since then.  Sometimes I even extend it when I'm in the house to keep the sun off the furniture.

As I was taking these pictures I was under the watchful eye of this little wren.

She was making sure I wasn't going to bring harm to her little nest.

A couple of weeks ago we watched as she and her mate were very busy preparing their nest.  We didn't have the heart to take it down after all of their hard work, so it has remained.  The movement of the awning hasn't seemed to bother it.  Once the babies have flown the coop we will remove it.  I guess by now you already know that we are bird lovers. 
I hope this has shed some light on the retractable awning for those who may be interested.  It is a bit of an investment, but we now believe it to be well worth it.  If you have any specific questions that I haven't answered for you, please feel free to ask.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Lemon Sugar Cookies

I needed a dessert to take to an outdoor concert last weekend.
Since it was quite warm that evening I wanted something that would be light, refreshing and wouldn't melt. 
I decided to try this recipe for Lemon Sugar Cookies.
It proved to be a good decision.
I served them with some cut-up fruit and they were a big hit.
They have that soft sugar cookie texture with a refreshing lemon flavor.
The day after the concert my son had several friends over. The remaining cookies were sitting on the counter, but not for long.  Once the boys tasted them, they couldn't stop eating them.  It seems they were a hit with all who tried them. 
If you like sugar cookies and lemon flavor, then I know you will love these.

Lemon Sugar Cookies

Yield: 3 dozen cookies
Cook Time: 8-10 minutes


2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Zest of 2 large lemons
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar for rolling cookies


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
3. Using a mixer, beat together butter and sugar until smooth and creamy.
4. Add lemon zest, egg, vanilla extract, and lemon juice. Mix until combined. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients.
5. Roll rounded tablespoons of dough into balls and roll in sugar. Place on prepared baking sheets, about 1 1/2 inches apart.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until cookies are slightly brown around the edges and set. Let cookies sit on the baking sheets for two minutes before transferring to a cooling rack
Note:  to keep cookies soft store them in an air tight container with a slice of bread.

Personally, I think they are the perfect cookie to enjoy with an icy cold glass of iced tea.

Note:  For those of you who requested more pictures of the retractable awning, stay tuned. . .

Monday, June 25, 2012

Hello from the Patio

Greetings from the patio.

I just wanted to share something fun I'm trying.
When I read this post at Mary's blog (A Breath of Fresh Air)  I knew I wanted to try growing moonflowers this way.  I liked the idea of being able to sit on my glider and watch the flowers open as the sun goes down.  I also look forward to smelling their delicate fragrance as I relax on the patio.

A couple weeks ago I planted the seeds in a pot.
Brett attached 3 pieces of fishing line to the pot and then nailed 3 small nails into the trim above the brick and attached the other end of the fishing line up there.
I've been watering daily and watching them grow like Jack's beanstalk ;-).  They haven't bloomed yet, but when they do I'll be sure to post a picture.

Your may recall when I was dreaming of retractable awnings here.
We did follow through with that dream and now enjoy our patio more than we ever have in the 13 years we've lived in this house.  Instant shade at the touch of a remote button.

Best of all a plain and simple remote.
Up, Down and My (which is basically Stop).
Why can't they make TV remotes this easy to use?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Note Card Party Time

It's time once again for the Note Card Party at Vee's haven.
Click here if you'd like more information.
In honor of the first day of summer I'm going with a 
Relax and Enjoy the Garden theme. 

Sometimes we get so busy planting, weeding, mowing and watering that we forget to stop and just enjoy the fruits of our labor.
Today you have my permission ;-) to take a break from the work and head out to the garden with a good book.

Sometimes it's nice to just sit and enjoy nature...
the bunnies hopping, the birds busily making homes for their babies, butterflies fluttering, flowers growing, wind chimes chiming ...

Perhaps you'd rather take a dip in the pool.

or sit and enjoy a good conversation with a friend.

Thanks for stopping by.
Wishing you a happy, fun-filled and relaxing summer :).

As always, thanks to Vee for hosting this fun party.

Note:  all photos taken at my husband's Aunt Barbara's house.  She was an avid gardener, loved antiques and had a real flair for decorating.  Having raised five boys, her home was always a lively place to be.  Sadly she passed away eight months after these photos were taken.  I'm sure she is tending the gardens in heaven now.

~ Kim

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Baby Blue

A few weeks ago we were delighted to see five little blue eggs in one of our bluebird houses.  For several years now we have enjoyed watching Eastern Bluebirds set up housekeeping in one or both of the nestboxes we have provided for them.
Once the eggs have been laid it is recommended that you monitor the nestbox regularly.  One day Brett peeked into the box and noticed the eggs had disappeared. 

He looked down and noticed the eggs laying on the ground.  Some were broken, others still intact.  Upon closer inspection he noticed three little babies laying in the mulch.
He quickly headed for the garage and I headed in for the camera.

Donning work gloves he gently picked up the sweet babies.

We were heartbroken to see their Happy Home destroyed in this manner.  I have since read up on it and suspect it was the work of House Sparrows.  House Sparrows are non-native birds that aggressively take over nesting sites while destroying the bluebird eggs and killing the young.

Brett gently returned the three babies to their nest.  Soon the mama bluebird returned to check on her children.
The next day when we monitored the box two of the babies were gone.  We were sad.  

However, there was still one baby snuggled up in the nest.
So we continued to monitor.
We watched as the mama flew in and out feeding and caring for her precious baby.

Soon the baby grew bigger and also grew feathers.
The things you see on the ends of the feathers are called "sheaths".  They will soon disintegrate and ...

the fluffy and blue feathers will appear.
Soon "our" baby will be ready to fledge.
Farewell Baby Blue ~ we will miss you.
May you live a safe and happy life.

I wish you bluebirds in the spring, To give your heart a song to sing …- I wish you love, written by A. A. Beach & C. Trenet, 1946

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sweet Strawberry Dreams

Over the weekend my laptop decided to stop working.
Not yet three years old it seems the "mother board" has died.
Of course it would cost nearly as much to replace that as to replace the entire laptop so... who am I to question why my 20 year old refrigerator is still humming and my 13 year old washer and dryer are hanging in there, but my fairly new laptop has bitten the dust. 
Moving on ....
When I re-installed Picasa today I noticed that this newer version has an editing option called "Edit in Creative Kit".  I made the simple collage above using that feature and found it to feel very similar to Picnik.  I'm not sure what that's all about, but I must say I like it.
I also spent some time today going through the links I have stored in "favorites" and came across a recipe for Strawberry Scones that I planned to try someday.

The local strawberries have been so sweet and I just happened to have some on hand.  Seemed like a good day to give that recipe a try.

So glad I did as they are yummy.
I know because I sampled one and I've reserved another one for breakfast.
It's now 11:15 and I'm headed for bed and anticipating sweet dreams of strawberry scones and piping hot coffee.

If you'd like the recipe it can be found here.
I would have typed it out for you, but in order to give the proper credit it seems like you should see her pretty pictures and post...  not to mention the sooner I get to bed, the sooner I wake up to another scone :-).

Pleasant Dreams!!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Morning Gardening

~ The Garden in June ~
For the past few weeks I've made it my routine to start the day with a cup of coffee, a bowl of cereal w/berries and a bit of computer time.  Once the coffee cup is empty I head out the door for time in the garden.  Today I snipped the last of the lettuce and picked the first cherry tomato.  I make my way around the yard with my snippers and weed bucket deadheading day lilies and anything else that needs it as I go.  If I see weeds I pull them.  I finish up by cleaning and filling the birdbath and watering all of the potted plants. 

I'm usually back in the house by 10:00 all ready for my 2nd cup of coffee.  It's my way of beating the heat and keeping tabs on how things are doing in the garden.  I find if I miss too many days the weeds have a field day.

Happy Gardening & Welcome June!!

~ Kim