Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sunrise to Sunset

Charlotte sleeps tight and I just love her morning hair! She greets me at my quiet place every morning with a warm hug and a sweet kiss.
Five years ago I owned a small hobby sheep farm. I raised Romney which I am still convinced are the most beautiful long wool sheep in the world. Before acquiring our little flock, we would make trips to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival the first weekend in May. Here we dreamed big and hard of owning sheep....one day. For three years I would look forward to adding the fanciful artwork on a mug from this potter, Marilu, to my collection. You know I put these mugs up when I moved here and I really do not know the motivation or reasoning for doing so. But they are out again and I use them every morning to hold my coffee. Like I have said on an earlier post, I am revisiting many aspects of my life right now....sheep mugs, yes. But for now I leave the wool boxed up in the attic.
Rose had a sleepover at her friend's house last night. They live 30 minutes away so I made a delightful road trip over to pick her up this evening. The setting sun was our scenery on the way home. Little towns with RR tracks and water towers are part of the charm of small town America.



Wednesday, July 30, 2008

"Tis a gift to be simple

Getting gifts from these simple things today:

Rising with the beginning of light.

Cold orange juice with seltzer water in stemmed goblet.

Walking with Mr. Putter, little corgi legs with long human legs, uphill and down.

Observing the pears weighing down the tree branches, thoughts of

pear preserves on hot biscuits made from scratch.

Sitting in newly painted cranberry rocker on the porch.

Penning a letter to a friend on plain white notebook paper.

Eating a vine-ripened tomato sandwich with mayonaise for lunch.


Inspecting farm-fresh brown eggs, all matchless in shape and color.

I am truly thankful.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

some shine while others scratch

Errands to run this morning. Charlotte wore her smocked dress with the antique buttons I found in Grandma's button box, and on her feet she wore shiny silver shoes. Alan and Rose were appalled at such display of gaudiness. I just smiled.




They have already forgotten what it is like to be five.



This afternoon I made a quick stop to pick up a another prescription for Rose due to her development of another itchy rash (maybe medicine related?) When I need prescriptions I head to the Apothecary Shoppe. Unlike the chain pharmacies that are on every corner, this little shop, tucked amongst towering oak trees, is like stepping back in time. I like the word apothecary, it is so obliviously distinguished.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Sweetened Iced Tea at it's Best

"Ecstasy is a glass full of tea
and a piece of sugar in the mouth."
Alexander Puskin


Growing up we would only drink iced tea during the summer months. The iced tea would be served along with a gracefully long- handled iced tea spoon with which you would add sugar one teaspoonful at a time according to your taste. I never really appreciated iced tea because the sugar would all settle to the bottom of the glass and it was like having a piece of sugar in the mouth when you get to the bottom of the glass,but the trick was enduring the nonsugared portion of the tea you must imbibe before getting to that sweetness.



Then I moved to the state of my husband's birth, and these people are the connoisseur's of sweetened iced tea! Drinking tea all year round was the first shocker, but by far the most pleasant surprise was" sweetened iced tea", meaning tea that was sweetened while it was hot and poured over ice. Now the sweet level is a matter of taste and I find that most around here prefer it a little sweeter than I do, but nonetheless, tea is my beverage of choice and I will choose it over anything else anytime and anyplace. Yes, it is truly ecstasy.
Note: Be sure not to order sweetened iced tea in my home state because you will get a glass of unsweetened tea and a long-handled spoon served on the side....trust me I sometimes forget!

A Good and Easy Recipe for Sweetened Iced Tea(2 quarts)
Pour 6 cups boiling hot water over 8 individual or 5 family- sized tea bags.
Cover and steep 20-30 minutes.
Put 1 cup sugar in pitcher and pour hot tea directly over the sugar( more if your sweet tooth requires more).
Stir until all sugar is dissolved , then fill the remaining pitcher with cold water. (I have the water run over the used tea bags in order to use up every bit of the tea water....why waste it?).
Lemon and mint leaves are an added treat.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums,
a garden's gem. They heighten everything in my garden
and my salad.
Nasturtiums are truly one of my most favorite flowers to plant every spring. If flowers could display quality traits I believe nasturtiums would speak of meekness yet strength. Even the large round bumpy seeds give me pleasure as I can set them so perfectly in the prepared dirt. One does not have to wait long for the sprouting, the required patience only begins after the leaves are full. Then like magic there's the first flower and the stage is set for the parade of blooms throughout the hot days of summer. The colors seem a mystery as they coordinate such shades of bright orange, pale yellow and dazzling red. If you have never planted them, you should.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Knobby News

In an attempt to update our kitchen, my dear husband and I decided that new knobs on the cherry wood cabinets would most certainly give the desired affect. Replacing them was not as easy as it initially appeared though, but after about two weeks all 54 knobs were successfully replaced .....yes, count them, 54!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Dining with country style

Not wanting to miss an opportunitywe dined outside this summer evening. Charlotte "decorated" the table with coreopsis beside each plate. That's my girl! Fresh picked Silver Queen corn is dreamed of all winter. I mixed herbs of salad burnet, parsley and basil in with the butter.

The table's centerpiece of daisies, oregano blooms, coreopsis and sage were randomly placed in a mason jar. A bee later gathered nectar from the blooms while we watched nature in living color before our eyes.
All done.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

From one glory to another

A better morning could not have been ordered. Last night's storm brought a respite in the heat wave so sitting outside while Rose had her riding lesson gave me time to sew on Charlotte's dress, one that I had smocked with blueberry floss. I hemmed and sewed on buttons

while sweet Charlotte sat beside me and counted. Usborne's 1001 Things To Spot books are wonderful to keep in the car because they may be pulled out anytime and anyplace to fill empty waiting moments. I must confess even my easily bored mind enjoys the activity these books extend.


A 22 year old American soldier's body was laid to rest today. He was killed on Sunday, July 13 while on active duty in Afghanistan. I provided food for the family and attended the funeral this afternoon. He was honored as any deserving hero should be honored by the country he so proudly served.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Whistle while you work.....

What else can you do on a hot day in July when even swimming in the pool seems tortuous? Clean of course! Since college- age son has completed summer school algebra class and work schedule is scanty he is engaged to scrub the kitchen tile with Mrs. Meyers Lemon Verbena Cleaning Spray. I am hopelessly into fragrances so I believe I am making his chore more enjoyable. We shall see. More the merrier and it certainly makes the load lighter as the girls joined in with their own respective jobs. Charlotte cheerfully helped me change my bedroom sheets while Rose picked up her bedroom and supposedly cleaned her bathroom. Absolutely no one receives extra credit for complaining......but you just might receive an extra chore. Whistling, however, is permissible.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Poison Ivy Woes

Poor Rose! Her outbreak of poison ivy sent us to the doctor's office today. This is actually her first episode and it is a doozy. We kid her along these lines," No, I am not allergic to poison ivy. Here, I will prove it to you and go roll around in this patch." Because according to her she does not know from whence she contacted it. As for me I find myself wanting to scratch whenever I see her, sympathetic itch woes you know.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Eternal Remnant

"And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is at this day." Deuteronomy 6:24


Still thinking about remnants, but this time of a different manner. The Lord our God has for us to be preserved for Him and His glory, to be a remnant that lasts forever.....a remnant chosen by grace. (Romans 11:5)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Remnants of Fabric

My grandmother was an excellent seamstress who had a business of making draperies and slipcovers. I grew up spending time in her sewing room where I learned to appreciate a variety of multitudinous bolts of fabric. This morning found me waiting in line for the doors to open at a fabric sale. These designer fabrics are originally very pricey, but bargains were today's prize and I decided even if I never sewed these remnants into anything, it would be an uplifting experience just to get them out once and a while to ooh and aah over. (It doesn't take much to indulge any decadence on my part! )
Some of my plans are to make American Girl clothes for my daughters' dolls with these silk, brocade, and broche remnants.
Felicity and Samantha will be the most well-dressed dolls at the tea party.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Morning Delight

"Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, thou presence my light".
I have mentioned before I am an early riser. The Lord has always provided a special space for my daily quiet times with Him and now it just happens to be outside on a covered porch. Gratefully each and every morning I marvel at His mercy and grace to me by giving me such a simple thing; but one that bears great weight in my life. Here I pray, read His Word and journal. I am always in my nightgown and about halfway through I go inside to get a mug of coffee. Then with hot coffee in hand I return to just delight in Him. I once read a story about a missionary that told a story of a young convert in China. At the close of prayer time this young woman would profoundly close her prayer,"Lord, I am just delighted to talk with You!" My thoughts exactly......

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

peaches and plums

Farmer Markets make for a satisfying way to spend a morning. Every one of the senses are activated right up until the time you hop into your car to drive home. I do not want to hurry the process and I find myself lingering even after my arms are filled with my choices of the bountiful harvests. Peaches and plums fancied me on this trip.The plums are so juicy they squirt their juice all over your face and clothes when you bite into them. These particular kind of peaches, freestones, are my favorite and upon twisting out the pit their sweetness just exudes summer. After arriving home I tenderly wash each one to display them in this old turquoise dish given to me by my mother when she was moving. It is in fact a canape dish, but its whimsical appearance make it a good choice for holding small portions of fruit too.The dish is quickly emptying itself because when fresh fruit is so available who can resist such goodness! Not me.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Seasonable Books

Some books have seasons. Yes, it is true any book suitable for summer can be just as suitable for winter, but there are certain books I prefer to read in the summer and others I prefer to read in the winter. For example, I still have vivid memories of reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's book, The Longest Winter, to Alan during a particularly stormy winter. Even though the winter in her book was so much more severe, nevertheless, while we read we were cozily wrapped in afghans and staying inside while the harsh winds blew outside our windowpanes. Now reading this book on a sultry 92 degree summer day would not be half so credible. Those are the times I love to get absorbed in books such as Gone Away Lake or Return to Gone Away by Elizabeth Enright. The mosquitoes and long stretch of days without school conjure up reality as I sit reading to my girls on wicker chairs while drinking iced tea with lemon; in other words,"I'm living it". And is not this what a good book intends to do for us?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Place at His Table

"He has taken me to the banquet hall, and His banner over me is love."
Song Of Songs 2:4



As I was putting up my wedding china, silverware and crystal from the Sunday meal I could not but help think of the day I would sit at His table.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

I knew ......so I baked a cake

We have a favorite chocolate pan cake around here that I make quite often because it is so easy and good. The icing alone is worth it all because I always think I am eating fudge . Charlotte is my helper in the most special of ways. She adds the vanilla.
Then with the most coordinated and precise little hands, she turns on the mixer.

Since no one else assisted with this cake, the beater was all Charlotte's!

Chocolate Pan Cake
2 cups flour
1 3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks of butter
4 tablespoons of cocoa
1 cup water
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
Melt butter, cocoa and water together in saucepan. Blend eggs and sugar. Sift together dry ingredients. Add cocoa mixture to eggs and sugar; then add dry ingredients. Mix in buttermilk and vanilla. Pour into greased 9x12 pan and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
Icing
Melt 1 stick butter,4 Tablespoons cocoa, and 6 Tablespoons buttermilk in saucepan until melted.
Add 2 cups powdered sugar,1 teaspoon vanilla and a pinch of salt.
Pour onto cooled cake, this icing will harden as it cools.
Serve with a glass of cold milk and be sure to close your eyes as if you are in chocolate heaven! So simple.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Company's Coming!



Bathroom cleaned to a shine.....check
Floors mopped.....check
Fresh towels put out....check
Rosemary sprigs placed in milkglass vase.....check
Homemade soap placed in shell holder.....check

Some very dear friends are visiting for the weekend. Alan is agreeably giving up his room which is especially nice since he has his own bathroom. But boy did I have to clean this room today. And that is all I am going to say about that......! The soap is made by a friend and her daughter. They make a variety of natural soaps in their basement soap kitchen.It is heavenly and I am an addicted customer for life. You can find them at katherinelesliesoaps.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Perfect Evening

"Where trouble melts like lemon drops
High above the chimney tops
That's where you'll find me....."

My handsome husband dined with me tonight in our state's capital. We drove about an hour so our appetites were just where they needed to be upon arrival at this downtown restaurant.My entree of choice was rockfish and risotto. The mood was perfect as we enjoyed our time out together.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Simple Popsicles

Summer would not be summer without pulling out these Tupperware popsicle makers for a cold treat on a hot day. I relive the pleasure of my girlhood as I watch my daughter's excitement with this simple touch of summertime. First, Charlotte had to wash all the winter's dust away then with my assistance they were filled to the brim with Welch's grape juice. Almost any concoction of juices or yogurt will work. I have tried about every one, but for this particular summer afternoon these grape treats were simple and I am all about simple these days.
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Monday, July 7, 2008

Sensible Delights

Summer time is for swimming in chlorinated pools...... and swimming lessons. Last year Charlotte had her first swim lesson. She has looked forward to going again all winter. She respectively called her teacher "Mrs. Shark" until I finally convinced her the name was in fact Mrs. Sharpe, not Mrs. Shark.

It was a day for diving into the water and laying on one's back.

Her excitement and joy of the water just couldn't be disguised as she smiled through the entire 30 minute lesson.

Basil is definitely one of my most favorite herbs. Years ago my older son and I had a greenhouse where we so contently grew herbs for our own garden as well as to sell. One of the things I liked to do the best was pinch back the basil plants. I would pinch, gather the tops and stuff them in my pockets. Whatever pockets I possessed at the time....apron, sweater, or jean would be called upon to hold these fragrant leaves. This afternoon I realized a certain plant was in dire need of pinching. This was the conservative harvest from just one plant. Enough for a tomato tart or a small batch of pesto or better yet Green Goddess dressing . This dressing is plain good on anything. I eat it on my green salad and it is delicious on salmon. Just let you imagination run wild with you.
Green Goddess Dressing

1 cup fresh basil
1 cup green onions ( I have used regular onions in a pinch)
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons anchovy paste
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Process all ingredients in food processor and add 1 cup of sour cream.

Of course remember not to allow your basil to flower. Pinch back the leaves to where two leaves are growing and your plant will flourish and continue to put out new leaves. Do you see where I have pinched?


Sunday, July 6, 2008

Recapturing Moments of a Special Day

I figured the best way to do the cake and it was divine. I made the same moist white cake recipe and froze it so that when cut, the edges would be so much neater. They were and this fluffy new icing was heavenly too! As a special treat for the unmarried bridesmaids, there were four, I placed a little fake diamond ring in the center of one of the individual servings of cake. Traditionally, the one to find the ring in her cake would be the next bride. It just so happens the one to find it in her cake is anticipating a proposal soon!
Speaking of cakes, the bride's cake was beautiful in its simplicity. Note the hydrangeas from my bush.
Nervous Charlotte was the Flower girl. I will not go into how she finally managed to get down the aisle. I shall show her the video later, then maybe I can be brave and watch it too.
First time for everything. At my house we have certain rites of passages. One of them happens to involve coffee; you may drink coffee when you are of the age of sixteen. While at the wedding reception, Rose talked her father in allowing her to have 1/2 of a cup with sugar and lots of cream. She drank it daintly with a straw.
I know I do not have to clarify this statement, but a photographer I am not! But if I only knew how I would, because there are so many pictures in my brain that I can not capture on the camera's lens. But the lights on the table were so enchanting to my eyes.
Ah, the roses! These beauties adorned my luncheon table with their grace and romance.I wanted to give them to the mother- of- the bride to decorate her dining room table since she would have out of town guests for Sunday lunch, but Rose absolutely could not part with them and I shamefully relinquished any gracious sacrifice on my part.

living notebooks

  Nature Study Notebooks   were first introduced to me along with Charlotte Mason and her schoolin g style many moons back, I immediately as...