Friday, September 22, 2017

Happy Fall!

Happy Fall! Can you believe it is already here?
It is a bit disconcerting at the moment as the weather is decidedly un-fall like. Today is suppose to be the warmest day of the year! It is rather odd to step outside in flip flops, crunch through leaves and watch squirrels dart crazily about. Thankfully, next week the forecast says we will be back to our regularly programed fall weather.




 I looked out my bedroom window last week and was shocked to see it was indeed fall! There are already leaves on the ground! And look how yellow the top of the tree is getting!


And a sneak peak at how the living room plans are going! A bit of a shelf makeover. And plenty of painting!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Peach Crumble

This summer the fruit has been luscious and plentiful. And I must admit, I have been in heaven! Cherries everyday for a month straight. Blueberries in muffins and smoothies, atop oatmeal and cereal and by the handfuls. Raspberries, blackberries and peaches so juicy and perfect. And apricots that taste like apricots. It has been pure bliss!
I haven't had too much of a chance to make and bake with all the fruit (it gets eaten too fast!), but have managed to squirrel away a bit in the freezer. This week as I stared at a basketful of almost-overripe peaches I decided a simple crumble would be the perfect dessert. A quick chop and mix and it could bake while we ate dinner. A lovely ending to the meal!


This is just a basic crumble top found in just about every cookbook. This one I barrowed from "Family Meals" by Maria Helm Sinskey, with a couple of tweaks. And since Mandy (the non-dairy eater) was out of town, I used butter!

Crumble Top
1/2 cup soft butter
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3-4 cups chopped fruit
Mix together flour, sugar and cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture starts to stick together. Sprinkle on top of fruit in 9" pie plate or 9" x 9" pan or pretty tart pan. Bake at 400 for forty minutes.
If you think your fruit is too tart or too juicy, you can mix a bit of sugar and flour with the fruit too. My peaches were perfect and the crumble was quite sweet enough. There might have been a bit too much too. I think if I had a bit less, the top would have crisped up a bit more instead of being slightly gooey in the center.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A Blank Wall

We have been changing things up here at the cottage. It's exciting! Furniture has been moved, spaces cleaned and now ideas are flourishing!
I usually don't photograph this part of the living room. It has been the home of Dad's desk (not a desk really, an old dining room table for extra workspace) since we moved in four years ago. I don't think electronics are pretty and desks seem to always be messy with works-in-progress, so I have kept it out of my pictures. But the decision was finally made to move the desk to the basement where it will be quieter. We are a little nervous this might not be a good thing as the basement is unfinished, but so far everything has worked out. (We will see how it works as the weather get colder, but we have a couple of improvements planned to keep Dad cozy.)

I was thinking back to when we moved in, all the things that were going on; job changes, financial upheavals, the craziness of renting half of the old house and living in the apartment, plus trying to get the cottage done. So many major life changes all at the same time! No wonder we plunked our furniture down in an arrangement as close to our old house as possible!
I didn't even think of it at the time, just put everything where it was and moved on to the next thing that had to be done. I think it was comforting to all of us.

But now with life a lot calmer, we are ready to handle a few changes! The simple moving of a desk may not sounds like much. But the possibilities of new arrangements, another piece or two of furniture or something new to hang on the wall, are endlessly exciting! I think I have rearranged the room at lest five different ways and thought about ten different pieces of furniture we could use!
I can't wait to see how it turns out!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Zinnias

I love zinnias. When I picked this bunch last night, the smell immediately brought back memories of childhood summers. These are from my two plants in the cutting garden. It took them a bit to get started, but now they plenty of buds and look like they will bloom until frost.

 Ever since I bought the plants, I have been envisioning a zinnia bouquet here. Lovely!



 The sewing machine has been out all summer. For some reason I have been in a social sewing mood. I have made my way through plenty of projects in the last couple of months; some fun, some mundane.

 This vase was a vintage find a couple of years ago, complete with a matching glass flower frog. I haven't gotten too many chances to use it. I always envisioned peonies in it and was sad to have missed the opportunity this year to pick a few. Mandy suggested I use it for the zinnias as the stems were rather short (I hated to cut longer ones because of all the buds I would be cutting too!) and it works wonderfully.

Zinnias are even pretty in lamplight!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Summery-ness

Are you soaking up summer? Drinking in all of it's loveliness? Somehow, we think fall might come early this year. There are a couple of signs it is just around the corner and the air has a fall-ish quality to it.
Summer sure has whizzed by fast. I am just trying to enjoy it while it lasts!  Life is just going along as usual, some slow and some crazy days. Here is a couple of snapshots of what is happening around here......

 I had fun making up Color Therapy in Tunisian Crochet for a class sample.

 Fairylights for the porch! (Never enough time to sit out here...)

Reading lots of old favorites this summer. But this one is a new friend by a favorite author, Emilie Loring. So excited to be reading!
(I ordered it used from Amazon and thought I would sun it a bit before reading, completely forgetting rain was in the forecast! Yes, it is a super clean book now! It took three days to dry out.)

It has not been a good garden year, but the marigolds are gorgeous! 

 I have been getting quite a bit of sewing in lately. The newest Akita shirt. Love the fabric!

Raspberry muffins! In these fun paper holders.

Meadowsweet shawl, which was love-at-first-sight. A perfect small project summer knit.

That is what I have been up to. What about you?

Friday, July 21, 2017

Hydrangeas 2017


The hydrangeas are blooming! I always look forward to seeing their flowers and I am always hopeful that the recently planted bushes might flower. This year one did!
(I know I go a little crazy with pictures, but it is so fun watching them grow from year to year!)

Two weeks ago it started out like this, pale green centers that slowly turned pink. I think this is a "Peppermint Swirl" variety, but I will have to double check. The other small hydrangea I have is an unknown, it has never bloomed and was a gift. But I think this is the one that I bought, I will have to see if the label matches.


 And this is the flower this morning, all pink and twice as big!


It is lovely to have a bit of beauty to gaze at when going in and out of the house.


The hydrangea on the corner is going strong. It was covered with flowers two weeks ago. I am glad I took a moment to snap pictures when I did, as all the storms we have had have left it looking a bit bedraggled. It also isn't as heat tolerant as the others and fades quicker.
I hadn't realized how large the hydrangea is getting until I looked at last year's pictures!


I love all the shades of pink it goes through!

We have been busy doing a bit of damage control on one of the brother's houses. All things considered, my little cottage made it through the storms quite well. I only got a few small rivers in the basement, but they dried up quickly and there was no damage.
Goodness how the summer is flying by!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

A Summer Afternoon Tea

Back in March, Patti at the Emilie Loring blog invited all her readers to share an Emilie Loring inspired tea. The thought of warm days with dappled sunshine, dainty cakes and a lazy summer day sent my imagination swirling! Especially since it was a windy dreary not-quite-spring day!

If you have read any of Emilie's books you will know she loved tea. Elegant teas with silver, tea in the garden, tea on the terrace, tea in cabins and castles, formal high tea to cozy fireside tea and toast; she wrote about them all.

"Sure, Miss Di, with springs of mint as you told me. I put 'em in every day. Miss Merry's sure to have callers. Gee but she's popular." "That's because she makes people realize that she is interested in them. Get some lemons, quick. I'll mix a drink. When Merry rings, bring out the filled glasses and a plate of thin cookies on the silver tray. We won't serve tea." ~ Where Beauty Dwells

Since it was July and a lovely warm day, I choose strawberry lemonade instead of hot tea, with an assortment of sandwiches and cakes. (Besides I have a lovely glass pitcher collection that needed to be put to use!) I think Emilie would have approved!


I had great fun reading up on how to serve a proper tea. According to Ida Baily Allen's Modern Cookbook paper doilies on all serving dishes is a must!
For Strawberry Lemonade: Allow the juice of one lemon and a tablespoonful of sugar to each person. Pour enough boiling water on the sugar to melt it, combine with the lemon juice and a half glassful of crushed ice, fill with plain or charged water, shake in a cocktail shaker if possible. To each serving of lemonade add from two to four tablespoonfuls of crushed strawberries.
Ida Baily Allen's Modern Cookbook c.1935


Chicken or cucumber sandwiches?

 "Aunt Ellen, Phil and I are famished for our tea. I've just come from a day in Camp...." She ignored her Aunt's annoyed frown and smiled at Maury when he set tea and a plate of sandwiches on the white wicker stand she had drawn in front of her chair...." ~ Rainbow at Dusk

Chocolate Pinks, recipe is here, made dairy free for Mandy.



 The classic British tea cake, the Victoria Sandwich cake, has been on my to-make list for awhile. A tea party was the perfect time to whip one up! It is a sponge type cake with lightly sweetened whipped cream and fresh raspberries sandwiched between the layers. This is similar to the recipe I used.


 I think I had more fun planning this tea then actually sitting down and partaking. I must admit I was a bit tired out from making all the lovely things to eat. It was so fun to comb through my vintage cookbooks for inspiration and I loved getting out all the old glassware and dishes. Some of the pieces I had forgotten I had!


Thank you for joining me for tea, do drop in again!