Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A New Summer Dress for Charlotte

Children's Corner Mary De pattern, minus the smocked front, became a dress sewn up for Charlotte in a pink floral cotton.

Aqua gingham piping and yo yo added an unprecedented touch. At least twice my husband commented, "What a pretty dress". When your Daddy acknowledges feminine appeal one must take notice and smile.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Blueberry and Blackberry Fields

By the railroad tracks lies a blueberry and blackberry farm. While we picked this morning a passenger train, then a carrier train whizzed by the berry fields. How awful to be riding the train and see the plump ripe berries hanging on those vines and bushes and not be able to immediately plop one in the mouth.

The skies were blue, our teeth were blue, and our fingers were purple.

But nothing could be finer than to be in those fields this summer morning.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Farmers Markets, Delis and Good Food.

It actually materialized for my husband and me this morning, a trip to the next town to visit the local open-air Farmers Market. A bonanza of fresh produce and all manner of plants, flowers and herbs graced us everywhere we looked. I love visits to Farmers Markets. After making our purchases we stopped at our favorite deli for lunch.

Even though soft drinks do not normally tempt me ( I reason I would rather have my calories in other ways), still I always, always drink a Dr. Brown's Black Cherry Cola over ice when eating at this deli. It just wouldn't be the same without it.

If I was a queen, or merely had a better cutting garden, I would set fresh flowers in an assortment of vases all over my house. At the Market, wide-opened trucks are pulled up into the shady pavilion and flowers are arranged into the most beautiful bouquets by limber hands. My husband knows he will not get away from there without buying me flowers. They now sit in my dining room. But I would prefer to carry them around with me from room to room; I do not want to miss a single moment of their life.

What we ate for supper tonight is what makes Saturday evenings in the summer especially haunting. Sliced tomatoes with basil,

and cantaloupe with prosciutto, goat cheese, and mint. If you have not tried this combination, maybe you should. Visions of some Food Network celebrity describing such a dish play through my mind when I eat it. Honestly it is that good! I got the idea from a birthday party I attended two weeks ago. The brother, a owner of a fine restaurant in town, catered the event. And this was one of the dishes which I knew I was destined to come home and try.Something else you might want to try if you have not made it before, focaccia bread. Talk about easy and quick. You can start this bread and have it on the table within a couple of hours, from start to finish. That's reason enough for loving this bread alone, that it happens to be so utterly delicious lifts it completely off the charts.

To finish the course there was grilled baby squash and zucchini, a tossed green salad with arugula, and because a meal without meat is missing something to my husband, tender and juicy beef fillet grilled medium rare.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Breaking and Dipping Bread

Don't you love when you can make something that makes the gathering for family dinner slide up a notch?

Homemade french loaf broken and dipped in olive oil, fresh chopped herbs and spices is considered one of those things at my house. Presently, I have focaccia dough rising for tonight's dinner. The fresh rosemary is resting on the kitchen counter while the red onion is waiting to be thinly sliced, to top this bread in added savoriness.

My mouth waters.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Borage, one of the gems of my herb garden this summer.
An edible flower, I like to set them in ice cubes to swim around in my ice tea.

Something to enchant, unless you are six and think an insect has landed!

Monday, June 22, 2009

These Happy Sewing Days

"I declare," said Ma," I don't know how we ever got along without that sewing machine. It does the work so easily; tucking is no trouble at all. And such beautiful stitching. The best of seamstresses could not possibly equal it by hand."
These Happy Golden Years
Laura Ingalls Wilder

Yes, the sewing of lovely seams on my sewing machine, creating sundresses of bright floral cottons for Charlotte and cute skirts to wear on these hot summer days for me.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Ice Cream and Cobbler

It does not take a special occasion to indulge ourselves in the making of homemade ice cream at my house. It reminds me of my childhood and the too numerous to count times of churning with the old-fashioned, wooden-boxed, hand cranked ice cream makers in my grandmother's backyard. The cousins would all take turns, one sitting on the top to steady it and the other one to turn the crank. Since we were such a large family of aunts, uncles and oodles of cousins, everyone joined in and it would take two freezers to feed us all.

Our ice cream maker is an electric device, but it still turns out the most delicious of ice cream. We truly can not decide which flavor is our favorite, strawberry, peach or banana, but banana has been the favored choice lately.

Company is coming tonight so I plan to make a peach blueberry cobbler with homemade vanilla ice cream for dessert. The cobbler does not need the ice cream and the ice cream definitely does not need the cobbler, but what a mingling to cause the taste buds to explode with sweet ambrosial pleasure.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Energizing through still, mindful hand and brain exercise

Passing tiny passages of my day with a little knitting and a little reading. This arrived in my mailbox last week.

A whimsical, tug at the creative and childlike heartstrings of you premier publication.

The knitting is from a pattern found in Debbie Bliss's Spring/Summer Magazine. It has pleats around the neck and I was not going to be settled until I attempted to knit some of these pleats on a garment.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Time to stop, and taste the herbs

I could be forlorn about forgetting to take pictures of today's event, but because the day was wrapped in what makes for such good stuff, any disappointment dissipates like puffs of smoke.
Another luncheon, this time a meal shared with the mothers and daughters of the Bible Study I lead with three of Rose's peers.

Everything was prepared with herbs in mind carried with a vintage flair. I am partial to chilled soups for summer luncheons, therefore, gazpacho was served in soup cups, all in a different china pattern. Rosemary buttermilk biscuits with butter meshed with oregano, thyme and parsley; deviled eggs with chives; cantaloupe with prosciutto, mint and goat cheese, rounded off the menu. And for dessert, lavender pound cake with a touch of lemon cream cheese icing and sweet plump raspberries on the side.

The girls went upstairs while the mothers sat and talked. Time stopped in our world for a while as we sat around the dining room table, but upon glancing at the clock, we regretfully acknowledged it was time to go........

After it was all cleaned and washed, this is one of the few photographs I have to remember the day. My wedding crystal, all rather lined up as soldiers, don't you think.?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dilly Days

My days are filled with the irresistible things of summertime and it seems computer time has proven to be a back burner item. Life is flapping briskly around me just as freshly washed laundry on the clothesline, and I adore the sights, smells, sounds, tastes and celebrations that surround me.

But I certainly have not forgotten any of you and your lovely places to visit. I am looking forward to spending a little time catching up these next few days.

We have been on a party mode lately. Celebrations abound.....a graduation celebration with jumps and splashes in the pool and hungry bellies being filled with grilled hamburgers and hotdogs, a birthday celebration catered by twilight poolsides accompanied by a guitarist singing the songs of the 70's and 80's, and an anniversary celebration with a last minute switch from the outside stone patio to the house, the kind where everyone must grab something and come inside due to approaching thunderstorms and threatening downpours. This was cooperation putting its best foot forward. I carried the lighted floating candles dancing in a crystal bowl, it warmed my hands and face and made for such romance. A friend's twenty-fifth hosted by their five beautiful daughters.

Several years back I spent a day in June creating lavender wands. I thought I would share with you how to make them. Not exactly tutorial material, but nonetheless, here it is in a nutshell.

First, gather long stems of lavender in even numbers starting with at least 20 stems. Next tie a ribbon or band around the bottom of the flowers.

Then begin gently bending the stems back over the lavender flowers.

Now for the weaving, using a 1/4 to 1/2 inch ribbon, weave over two stems, under two stems to approximately an inch beyond the flowers.

Here you may tie a bow or leave a pretty knot with the dangling ribbon. These wands will last for years, only needing touchups of essential lavender oil from time to time. Now summertime can reside in your linen closet amongst your clean sheets all winter long!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Going "Green"

It is taking years, but even I am taking notice that mainstream America is gradually resorting to more eco-friendly habits. My son intrigued me with a conversation the other day regarding the future of grocery store bags with the possibility of a tax levied for their use. I found this pattern here and decided why not sew a bag I would enjoying stuffing with celery, yogurt and other sundry items.

I deviated from the pattern somewhat by adding a lining, liking the contrast of the two fabrics and the extra sturdiness it provided to the bag.

When I told Rose I was making a grocery store bag she replied,"Mama, are you going green?" Suddenly I felt so with it.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Little Pressings

I am not a list maker per se. Little scraps of paper are not usually safe laying around my house due to my tendency to clear away, to pick up, for visual neatness in my home. The fact that I so readily dispose of paper drives my husband crazy. Yet I remind him we would live in a home with 98% scrap paper and 2% people if I wasn't so ruthless with the vast array of paper accumulating daily.

But I have been known to throw away important things too, but we will not go into that this very moment. I truly believes it all equals out in the long run and it keeps my home more orderly.

However, I do write down things in my journal that I believe are" pressing". By this I mean things that I would like to get done sometime in the near future. They are pressing on my mind as things that would be nice to be accomplished if possible. I rather think of them as wildflowers gathered on a late summer afternoon and pressed between the pages of a huge dictionary for later use. You know "pressings."

This weeks pressings:
  • cut more lavender stems
  • bake a loaf of whole wheat bread using new Pampered Chef loaf pan
  • cut out one of Charlotte's summer dresses
  • make a trip to the local yarn shop and buy yarn for the sweater I am itching to knit
  • organize the stack of books laying around my bedroom, from here to there ( apparently I do not have the same problem with books as I do with scraps of paper)
  • make a fresh batch of hummingbird feed
Now that it is Friday I reviewed my list and I can say all were accomplished except the making of the loaf of bread, probably due to my husband bringing home some delicious bread from Whole Foods this week, and the cutting out a dress for Charlotte.

And knitting this sweater is proving to be as fulfilling as expected. Lovely yarn, Debbie Bliss Prima in rich hydrangea blue.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Thirty-one years ago today....

As I look through the wedding albums of brides today, I can only manage to sigh. The photographs I flip through are amazingly creative and outstandingly beautiful.

The year was 1978 and this photo from my wedding album was taken by the best photographer my town had to offer. It was considered to have special effects.Love that endures over a lifetime is not a result of a decision made once; but one that is made over and over again, the same choice..... the same person. I would make the same choice I made thirty-one years ago as I stood at the church's altar in the presence of God and many witnesses and said," I Do".

Happy Anniversary, Love!

Letters to a friend

The art of penning letters: sounds divinely grand; on pretty, fancy stationary: an item to be desired; but honestly speaking, writing a letter on plain white notebook paper works beautifully and as an added bonus penciled drawings throughout the letter, if time affords, give charm that can not be purchased with any amount of money.

There's a shoebox in my closet filled with handwritten letters from a dear friend.We have enjoyed years of writing letters to one another, so much sharing back and forth. I remind her that when she becomes "famous", her family must be informed to contact me because I have bits of her life in print that would help write her biography. Bits of life..... rather like some blogs I imagine. Family, husband and children(her six, my four), recipes, gardening, knitting, sewing, moving to different locations, animals and pets, vacations, books read, almost any subject is open to be expressed at any given time.

When I receive a letter from her I find a comfortable spot, sit myself down and immediately indulge myself with every single word written on those pages. I have smiled, laughed, sighed and cried upon reading her letters. She speaks to me through these words and unlike computers, it is in her own handwriting and that is what makes it have a poignancy of delight upon which there is no substitute.

There is a favorite biography of mine entitled, More Love To Thee, The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss by George Lewis Prentiss. A large part of this book includes letters written by her and to her from family members, friends and acquaintances. These letters make her real and you are able to relate to the diurnality of her life as you read. You see her strengths and weakness, her struggles and her victories.

It is all worth writing, with a pen in hand on paper.

Monday, June 1, 2009

June Sweetness

Happy June! The month with the longest days and the kindest weather. A month of anniversaries (mine), fresh herbs in abundance, the reading of books aplenty, eating al fresco, and catching fireflies.

Lighter schedules are certainly needed, made and adjusted but summer sweetness rolls along merrily filling us with hours of extra goodness.

The lavender is heavenly and the harvesting has begun. The friendly bees buzz around me as I snip the stems, my mouth waters with the thoughts of lavender honey.

I love the month of June....forever and always.

at the shore cum amica mea

So it was that on Thursday afternoon we headed out to the beach, two young girls (Charlotte and her friend), me and my friend, and Rancher, ...