Monday, June 20, 2016

Summer Begins

Summer officially begins today.  Here in Virginia we  have felt the temperatures rise gradually and it has felt like summer for a while now.  Severe thunderstorms occurred  last week and many found themselves without electricity.  The  Richmond area was particularly hit hard.  Our son was in that unfortunate group.  This time of year we rely on our air conditioners to take away some of the discomfort of heat and humidity.  Our two youngest grandchildren's last day of school was last Friday.  Because of power outages the whole county had to cancel the last day of classes.  This was a memorable end of the year for them!

Our son had invited us for a cook-out for Father's Day.  As of Saturday he still had no power, but it was restored by the evening.  Do you experience frequent power outages?  We have been quite fortunate through the years.  We have underground power lines which I'm sure is a reason for that.  On our way to Richmond we saw many downed trees and many power trucks from out of state to aid in the recovery process.

Our son made a feast for his Daddy.  Grayden loves salmon, so he smoked the most delicious salmon in his smoker.  He also grilled chicken wings and bratwurst.  Corn on the cob and green beans rounded out the meal.  I made brownies that the boys devoured.  We took down our old croquet set that the children used to play with when they were little.

Before dinner we all played Blokus while Grady grilled the meal and after dinner we set up the croquet game.

It was a wonderful day honoring two great Dads!


Friday, June 17, 2016

Grandma's No Recipe Potato Salad

All great cooks that I know don't use a recipe to make most meals in their kitchen.  Of course, if one is baking that can be a different story.  Exact measurements are important there.  My Nanny and my Grandmother made homemade everything.  I never saw them use a recipe.  Even when making bread it was by feel.  My Mama would make the most wonderful meals and I never remember her using a recipe, except when baking cakes.  My son and daughter are the same.  Grayden's Mother was a wonderful baker.  She made the best pies I've ever eaten.  I think she had a sweet tooth as I never had a meal at her table without dessert.

Grayden's Mother that I called Grandma as our children did! 

I had a bag of potatoes that needed to be eaten and I immediately thought of her Potato Salad.  I haven't made this for years.  There is no recipe or proportions for her potato salad, but when I make it I am sitting at her table again.

It's a very simple potato salad.  It consists of very few items.  

Cooked Diced Potatoes
Hard Boiled Eggs Diced
Sweet Pickle Relish---she always used her homemade sweet pickles
Duke's Mayonnaise *
Salt and pepper

That's all it is and it's delicious.  I remember her having a big bowl of this salad with ham or fried chicken and her homegrown tomatoes.  Today we had it with pork chops that Grayden had grilled.  I know there are many different ways to make potato salad with  a lot of different additions, but this is so good nothing else is needed.

*Duke's Mayonnaise is a must for this recipe, in my opinion.  Of course you can make it with your favorite mayonnaise.  I know it's not available all over the country.  I need to ship some to my daughter in New England as it's not available there.

  Duke's is all about family, from its origins in Eugenia Duke's Greenville, South Carolina kitchen, to Richmond, Virginia's C.F. Sauer family in 1929. Duke's has been uniting families through the meals it enhances for nearly a century. Throughout the years, our recipe has remained the same, providing fans with the same outstanding quality and superior flavor that they expect in every jar.
CF Sauer Source

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

My Country 'Tis of Thee

Today is Flag Day in the United States.  One hundred years ago today President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed this day, June 14th Flag Day, the same date that The Continental Congress picked the original stars and stripes design for our flag during the American Revolution.  Wilson wanted to build a sense of national identity.

No symbol is more important to Americans than the United States Flag.  We usually fly the flag of our nation on the front porch.  This year we purchased another to fly in our back yard as well.  We fly our flag as a symbol of democracy and our freedom.

There are a number of emotional reasons that one may fly the symbol of our nation.  Many people who never flew the flag, bought one and have flown it since 9/11.  Many fly the flag simply out of  pride for our country.  Of course there are many that fly the flag for the servicemen and women that have fought for our country.  Many folks did not display the flag in their personal space in the early nineteenth century.  The flag was only flown on ships and federal buildings.

My country tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died!
Land of the Pilgrim's pride!
From every mountain side,
Let freedom ring!
My native country, thee,
Land of the noble free,
Thy name I love.
I love thy rocks and rills,
Thy woods and templed hills;
My heart with rapture fills
Like that above.
Let music swell the breeze,
And ring from all the trees
Sweet freedom's song.
Let mortal tongues awake;
Let all that breathe partake;
Let rocks their silence break,
The sound prolong.
Our father's God to, Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright
With freedom's holy light;
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God, our King!

Samuel Francis Smith

If you live in the United States, do you fly the flag?  If you do and want to share your reasons I would love to hear them. If you live in another country, do you fly the flag of your nation?

Monday, June 6, 2016

Beedie Bump

While working in my perennial flower bed I had the overwhelming feeling I was working in my children's playground.  I always check this bed to see what is coming up and what needs to be pulled up.  Rudbeckia is a wonderful flower to have when the hot summer goes on and on. It's joyful to watch as the yellow finch balance on the ends of the flowers to eat the seed.  Usually I leave the flowers for the birds to enjoy, but doing so, the seeds that the birds don't eat,  means I have hundreds if not thousands of new rudbeckia plants to pluck from the ground in the spring.

Last year's blooms

 This perennial bed has not been a flower bed for the 43 years we have lived in our home.  This area used to be an area that was overgrown with small trees and ivy that our children claimed as theirs!  Our neighborhood was blessed with a lot of children.  Children the same ages as our children.  It was great to look out the kitchen window and see the children enjoying themselves in their fantasies.  Girls and boys shared times in our back yard.  The girls would set up little areas they called their own.  They divided the area into rooms for each child.  This was their domain.  They would play for hours tidying their spaces.  Adding rock boundaries and  taking very few toys out to aid in their play.  Creative play was the order of the day.

The swing set that the children have had since they were toddlers was nearby.  We had not lived in this home very long so it was not exactly a landscaped yard.  I was just learning to love plants and how to pick the right plant for the right place.  In this overgrown area the swings were constantly in use and the small trees were taking a beating.  Noel was always a very imaginative child,  she is still a very smart and imaginative adult.  As the children would swing they would click their shoes against the small trees.  Beedie bump the sound resonated as they would swing back and forth, back and forth.  Noel declared their play area ---Beedie Bump Town.  All of the neighborhood children called it Beedie Bump.

Noel and Grady

I hadn't thought about Beedie Bump Town for a while.  But as I was working on the flower bed it came to mind.  A sweet memory of Noel and Grady and days gone by.

Beedie Bump has evolved over the years into my playground.

I spend many happy hours tending to the plants in our gardens.

Climbing Pinkie Rose

While gardening it is a wonderful time to recall happy memories.  Memories spring up about all the years spent living here and raising our two children.

Pinkie Rose Blossoms

Red Knockout Rose

Nellie Moser Clematis

I hope you take time to enjoy the joy of the past and the joy of now. 

Sarah Bernhardt Peony

This old swing set has seen it all.  All the joys of yesterday and those of today.

Beedie Bump we've come a long ways!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Little Afternoon Trip

We decided to take a little short trip to a little town that is not too far from us.  It's up near the mountains. We are lucky in that we can visit the ocean or the mountains without too much traveling.  It's been rather hot and muggy and we thought it might be nice to feel a little mountain air.  In less than an hour we reached the little town that reminds us of our own, but 40 years ago before all of the sprawl.

 The quicker we humans learn that saving open space and wildlife is critical to our welfare and quality of life, maybe we'll start thinking of doing something about it. Jim Fowler 

The town of Culpeper has an old town USA feel.  With little quaint antique shops and stores and great little restaurants.  Little is the key word for the day.  Do you sometime long for a place that doesn't have big box stores and traffic?  This was the perfect spot for us to enjoy a leisurely afternoon.  After driving through farm land and wide open spaces we parked the car and began to explore this sweet little place.

The "Reel LOVE" sign highlights the emerging arts in Culpeper and the Virginia is for Lovers brand throughout Virginia.


The planters filled with red geraniums and lobelia were so pretty.  Isn't this combination perfect?  There were many lovely flowers in front of most of the shops.

This lovely fuchsia in the black cast iron planter looked so graceful in front of this shop.

This little alley cafe reminds me of  our time in France. 

We stopped in a little coffee shop to have a sandwich.

After lunch we wandered in and out of a few of the antique shops.  There were so many lovely items to tempt.

I can't believe I didn't bring home this child's plate!

We really wanted to have tea at Miss Minerva's but she was closed for the day.  We've been here before and enjoyed her lovely tearoom.

We enjoyed our little getaway so much.  I hope you have the chance to seize a few moments to enjoy short little trips.  This little poster was in one of the shops and I think it says so much!