Saturday, September 24, 2016

Autumn is Here!



Hopefully by the time you read this post our weather will reflect the Autumn weather that I yearn.  Today the air conditioner is off and the windows are open letting in the cooler air.  It's coming and I can feel it approaching!




As fall approaches we enjoy watching our youngest grand play soccer.  He truly loves the game.  He's grown from the little child that didn't know which direction to run down the field, to a young man that excels in his sport.




We've enjoyed a short visit from our daughter.  We were so thankful for her safe arrival even though it was full of anxiety.  The train that bought her home, was in NYC when the train was delayed because of the pressure cooker bombings nearby.  I pray for our world and the fear that surrounds our safety.


What would happen if all the populations on the planet simply refused to fight human beings they did not even know?

Gladys Taber



 We enjoyed a trip to Colonial Williamsburg and had lunch at the Old Chickahominy House.  Whenever our daughter visits we return to old favorites that we have been going to for years.




Even with the rain we enjoyed a lovely walk down the Duke of Gloucester Street.










Slowly but surely I'm bringing out the Autumn decor.  The farmer's market had the cutest little pumpkins that I couldn't resist.






In the meantime there are plenty of zinnias to fill little vases with sunshine.



Sending wishes for beautiful Autumn days ahead. ♥









Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Gardening in September




We are having some cooler temperatures again.  We like to take advantage of these pretty days to work in the garden before the real work of fall begins...Leaf removal.  Can you tell it's not my favorite fall chore?  Before that begins we can do a lot to get our garden ready for winter while the weather cooperates.




I like a clean edge to our mulch beds of shrubbery.  There are all kinds of ways to keep a tidy edge that we have used over the years.  On a few of my flower beds we have used brick edging.  These were left over bricks from the building of our home and its additions.  I love the look of brick in the garden as it has an organic way of blending in with the environment.  The mulch beds of shrubbery is different though.  As the shrubs grow the mulched beds need to increase in width.




I've used a half moon edger for years now to get this task done.  It's not too difficult and gives a pleasing edge to our beds.  If you are lucky enough to have had recent rains, the job goes with ease.  If not more muscle needs to be applied to the process.  Grayden and I share the work duty as we edge along the beds.  Ideally this bed should have been edged and mulched this past spring.  That didn't happen so we are doing the work now.




 Gardens are not made by singing 'Oh, how beautiful,' and sitting in the shade.


— Rudyard Kipling


We are a little behind because of the heat and humidity that we have even into September.  Also while cleaning a neighbor's fence of vines and such, I must have gotten into some poison ivy or poison sumac or poison oak.  I'm very familiar with these vines and did not see any evidence of them growing along the fence.  I've had to go on three medications to clear this mess up.  If you love gardening this will probably happen to you.  85% of us are allergic to these vines.  And the other 15% can become allergic at any time.  So be careful, my friends.  I read recently to get the urushiol  oil off of your skin is to scrub your body with Dawn dish washing liquid.  It seems kind of harsh, but the rash is harsher!  The urushiol is a laquer like substance that exudes from the vines that is quite difficult to remove.  If you don't remove it you will have this oil spread over places you never thought you touched.  You should also make sure you launder your clothing and clean your tools.  This is all to do if you know you've been exposed.  Since my experience, I have been at least washing up to my elbows in Dawn.

My doctor looked at me as he was accessing my problem and said, "Don't you know that is a job husbands should be doing and not you"?  I told him I love working in the garden and I can't imagine sending him out to do this chore alone.  If you love gardening you know what I'm talking about.






Our next job will be transplanting some acuba and some hydrangea that would like to live somewhere else.  Plants will teach us where they like to be if we pay attention.











Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Blackberry Roll




Do you love or dislike blackberries?  Grayden is not a fan of these sweet juicy berries because of the seed that seems to catch one by surprise.  Even with the seed, I love these little jewels from nature.  In late July and August and into September, blackberries grow wild alongside the rural roads of VA.  Many folks are now concerned that we shouldn't consume these berries for fear of toxins and other exhaust fumes that comes from the vehicles that travel the roads.  There are many berry farms where you can go and pick cultivated blackberries.




I was reminded of blackberry season when I visited Deb's blog Country Days and Cottage Ways where she was showing her blackberries.  Deb lives in Wales and has a delightful blog and I'm sure she would welcome your visit.

 Every summer that I can remember always included a trip to a road on the way to my Daddy's work that was full of blackberries.  Mama would have us put on old long sleeve shirts and long pants to go pick blackberries even though it was hot.  As most of you know, blackberries grow among brambles and brush that is usually home to ticks and mosquitoes and the dreaded poison ivy and poison oak.  I remember coming home with pails of juicy blackberries.  Of course we always ate a bunch while picking and our clothes were stained with purple juice.  We knew that when we returned home Mama would make a Blackberry Roll!  Mama said she remembered her Mama and her Mama's mother making this dessert.  My great grandmother and Nanny lived in rural Clifton Forge before moving to Richmond where her children could work in the tobacco factories.  My Nanny said there were blackberries everywhere and they made jams and jellies and of course Blackberry Roll.  During really rough times, blackberries that were put up were about the only food they had to eat.

Thinking about the humble blackberry and Deb's reference made me want to make a Blackberry Roll.  My Nanny and my Mama hardly ever used a recipe.  So I don't have their recipe exactly.  They cooked and baked by feel.  A blackberry roll is basically a rich biscuit rolled with juicy blackberries in the center.  Here is my Blackberry Roll made with grocery store blackberries.




Blackberry Roll

  1. about a quarter cup of sugar or more if blackberries are tart
  2. 2-3 cups of blackberries
  3. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  4. 1 teaspoon salt
  5. 3 teaspoons of baking powder
  6. 1/4 cup of cold butter  (I'm sure my Mama used shortening and my Nanny and great-grandmother used lard
  7. around 2/3 cup of whole milk or more if needed to make soft dough
  8. 2 or 3 tablespoons of melted butter
  9. 1 tablespoon of sugar
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  
Mix together your blackberries and sugar in a bowl and set aside.
In another bowl mix together, flour, salt and baking powder.  Cut the butter into the flour mixture until soft pea sized butter is showing.  Add as much milk you need to form a soft dough. Don't over mix as your dough will become tough.

I like to use a muslin cloth and sleeve that goes over my rolling pin to roll out dough for biscuits or pie crust.  You can find these in any good baking department.  I've had these pieces over 30 years and I keep them in the fridge to make sure they are cold.  You can wash them in your washer when needed.




Roll your dough in an rough 12 by 15 or so rectangle.  Brush the melted butter on the rolled dough.  Then place your berry mixture on the rectangle.




Roll in jelly roll fashion, from the long side and seal the edges of the dough.  With seam side down, place your roll onto a baking dish.




Work quickly as the juice will want to escape.  Make slits on the top of the roll and sprinkle the whole roll with sugar.




I baked mine for 25 minutes until it was lightly browned on top.  You can top with whipped cream or ice cream, but my Mama never did.




It was a lot of fun remembering this very special dessert from my childhood.  Of course, I don't think my Blackberry Roll was as good as my Mama and my Nanny's was, but it sure was nice remembering these times from my past.  Have you ever been blackberry picking or made a Blackberry Roll?


  








Friday, September 2, 2016

Hello September!




I read today that September first is the  meteorological beginning of Autumn.  I've always thought Autumn began September 21 or there about.  I understand it's the difference between meteorological Autumn and astrological Autumn.  Well I'd like to go with astrological Autumn and not jump in too early.




Some cool evenings we go down to the river to enjoy a sandwich or cheese and crackers and enjoy the beautiful river.

Summer will still be with us for a while.  Even with a storm the other evening, the temperature  has dropped.  Hooray!  I need to get busy and decide how to decorate for the season.  I store a lot of my fall items in a large closet in our basement.  It will be fun to get it all out and see what I want to use this year.  Every year I try to refresh some of the old pieces and decide what needs to be tossed.




As I was writing this post, I asked Grayden what photo should I put here.  He said "You can go downstairs and take a photo of the closet you store the Autumn things in."  Instead I'll show you this hibiscus we recently transplanted.  Crazy man thinks I'm going to show you that closet!


  

The local stores are full of tempting goodies for fall.  When I start to change our seasonal decor, I try to update a few things.  Shopping in our home is always the preferred way to go for me.  Updating a wreath or adding a few natural pieces will take our decor all the way through Thanksgiving. 

Orange is a color that I don't use in my home very much.  In our Florida room I can use a little, but the rest of our home is decorated in reds.  Orange and red doesn't appeal to my sensibilities.  Of course rich browns and gold do blend well with our red.  

It's nice to bring out the Friendly Village dishes this time of year.  Our everyday Bennington Pottery Blue Agate takes a rest in the server.  

I need to decide what centerpiece to go with on the dining table.  The dough bowl full of naturals looks nice and a candle adds a nice touch.  A colorful tablecloth to compliment Friendly Village should be easy to find in the linen closet.  I'm obsessed with table cloths.  Are you familiar with the April Cornell table linens?  I love them!

It's exciting to think about a favorite season of mine.  I'm so glad I live where the seasons change.  Just like changing furniture in a room can lift my spirits, so can the change of seasons.

After looking at a few of our Autumn things,  I discovered the wreath I had bought in Colonial Williamsburg in February of this year.  It was on sale.  I try to buy things I love out of season so I can get a good price.




Do you wait to decorate for Fall or do you decorate in early September?



 Try to remember the kind of September
When life was slow and oh so mellow
Try to remember the kind of September
When grass was green and grain was yellow
Try to remember the kind of September
When you were a young and a callow fellow
Try to remember and if you remember
Then follow
Follow
Lyrics- Tom Jones





Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Magic of Nature






Cooler temperatures and lower humidity has graced our area for the last couple of days.  Shouting for joy about the beautiful weather, we can now take our walks through the neighborhood and enjoy it!  As most of us have endured one of the hottest summers on record, it changes my days.  I adore the outdoors, but not the sweltering days we've had.  It's much easier to check on the garden and just relax on the patio when the weather is tolerable.  While relaxing outside we enjoy reading or solving a sudoku or just seeing who will come to the feeder next.




Black-capped Chickadee


The cicadas are really tuning up their song these days.  As I was hanging sheets on the line yesterday it was quite loud.  They are also dropping from the trees as their brief cycle begins.  We were supposed to miss this years Magicicada invasion, but you can't tell it around here.  As creepy as they look and sound, they do not bite or sting.  As I swept off the patio this morning a large dead one came into view.  Here is the sound they make if you are not familiar. HERE

Cicadas have a 17 year life cycle.  The bugs are under the ground for almost all of this time.  When they come up  they find mates and then lay eggs and die.  If you dislike bugs you may not want to look at this photo.



Let's take a look at "cuter" creatures.

The Sphinx Moth (Sphingidae) or Hummingbird Moth is so interesting to watch as he gathers nectar.  He's quite magical.  Some folks think they are watching a hummingbird, but he is a moth.  I find him so fascinating!  I do hope you have witnessed his antics.





The birds are beginning their migrations south, so you may have seen many hummingbirds and other birds fly through your area.

Another magical moment came for us as we were visited by a Monarch Butterfly!  We have many swallowtails, but hardly ever see the Monarch.  If you want to learn more about the king of butterflies go HERE .  Depleting milkweed plants are really affecting the population of this beautiful butterfly.  If you have a wild area on your property, consider letting milkweed grow.




"Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you."  Nathaniel Hawthorne 


A rather large frog found a cool spot in a pot of begonias.





These are just a few of the magical creatures that may come to your garden.  I hope there is time in your day to look at the wonder of nature.  Have you seen anything interesting in your garden recently?  I'd love to hear about it.



“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” ― W.B. Yeats









Sunday, August 21, 2016

Puzzled?





Our two youngest grandsons always like to come to Boo and Bear's for a few days without their Dad.  I remember how special it was to visit my grandparent's home without my Mama and Daddy.  The boys visited for a few days during one of our very hot and humid stretches.  There have been many of those days this summer.  

We love games in our family.  Lately when the boys visit we play German Checkers.  This is a game that Grayden made way before I had even met him.




Another game that was loved by our two children as they were growing up was Master Mind.  Grayden taught the boys to play and they enjoyed playing.  When our son was little he was quite good at this game.  Grayden told the boys about how their Dad played Master Mind in the hospital while waiting to have a broken arm set.  He and Grayden played this mind game to take away some of the stress of the situation.  Our grandchildren love to hear stories about their parents as children and we love telling them!

While we were at the beach we had a rainy afternoon so we pulled out a few puzzles that were in a drawer.  It was enjoyed by all, so while the grandsons were here we got out a puzzle from our stash that had never been worked.  It was completely sealed.  

The puzzles at the beach had all been opened and we began to put together the pieces of the first one as chosen by our eldest grandson.  Much to our chagrin a piece in the middle was missing.  How disappointing to put together a puzzle without all of the pieces!  Grayden and our eldest grandson took all of the pieces out of the drawer and began looking for the missing piece.  Would you believe they found the missing piece?


Photo by Peter


Another puzzle was begun and low and behold another piece was missing!  No, we couldn't find the missing piece.


Photo by Peter


Working on the puzzle with the boys was so much fun.  Both boys enjoyed solving the puzzle as we worked on it between other activities.  Despite the fact it was so hot, they had requested we make chocolate chip cookies.  Of course we made wonderful cookies and enjoyed our baking session, peppered with interesting conversation.  I think they enjoyed cookie dough as much as the cooked cookies!  

Back to our puzzle from the sealed box.  We worked together to get it all together.




As we were in the home stretch of putting all the pieces in we discovered that two pieces were missing!  Oh No!




We did a major search on the floor, under the rugs, in the cushions to no avail!  How can we open a sealed new box with a puzzle in it and not have all the pieces?  We don't know, but we still have not found these two pieces!

Do you and your family enjoy games and puzzle making?  What do you do with a puzzle that has missing pieces?








Friday, August 12, 2016

Garden Notes of 2016




My garden has had a few disappointments this season.  I can't think of another year that has been so discouraging.  Blaming it on the weather would be dishonest.  We actually have had more rain this season than in many years I can recall.  My garden is full of perennials that have bought us joy for many years.  I am not new to gardening, but my mistakes of this year one would think otherwise.  Usually I add annuals for some color on our patio.  Maybe impatiens or begonias or coleus.  Our brick planter that surrounds this area is usually lush and full of lovely blooms.  Not this year.  Even though I've gardened for many years, I committed a sin that any gardener would gasp at.  I planted sun loving petunias to our shady brick planter. You know when you see these gorgeous flats of bloomers and they call your name?  I realized this error pretty early on in the season as I watched the petunias just sit in their spots and not thrive.  So I committed sin number two.  I planted some lovely impatiens between the petunias that I bought from a reputable garden center.  Impatiens have had problems with powdery mildew in the years past, but I KNEW I wouldn't have this problem as I had lovely impatiens last year.





  Well, friends, pride goes before fall.  These plants looked great and then within a month they all died.  They suffered with the dreaded powdery mildew disease.  Yes, with the rainy humid weather this could have been the worst year for impatiens, but I will not be planting them for a while.  If you wish to learn more about powdery mildew you can read this publication Here

We've also had some interesting critter issues this year.  We have moles and voles galore.  I don't put poisons in our gardens, but believe me I'm tempted.  Not really.  Voles eat vegetation and moles eat meat such as grubs.  Armed with this information we began to try and trap the moles with a mole trap and the voles with mouse traps.  It's been a comedy of errors around here.  We have not caught any critters.  The peanut butter and bird seed we place on the mouse traps is gone in the morning!  We are being outsmarted badly!  I was in the garden one day and saw a leaf from a hosta disappear into the ground before my eyes!  I keep telling myself it's a great way to have the yard aerated for free! 

In spite of all of these issues, the garden has given me clues what to plant and has even given me gifts to fill the gap.  I've had oodles of begonias spring up in the brick planter.  They are quite small, but we still have a couple more months before our first frost.  I've also dug up three coleus and put them in the pots that had dead impatiens.  I'm giving thanks to my garden for teaching me new lessons each year. 

A garden is a grand teacher.  It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.  Gertrude Jekyll


Lest you think all of this post is bad I'll share some of the beauty that has come to my little garden this year.

















Caladium Blossom


It is August and the summer is wearing on.  I've learned many lessons in my garden this year.  How has your garden faired?  

The most noteworthy thing about gardeners is that they are always optimistic, 
always enterprising, and never satisfied.  They always look forward to doing 
something better than they have ever done before.
- Vita Sackville-West