Saturday, July 28, 2012

A silver lining...

Hello there,
Well, life has been a little hectic around here. In between lots and lots of beach trips, we have had quite a bit of work done on this little old place... With new roofs, paths, doors, and the usual stripping and painting of junk-store finds, I have been one busy lady...
So, why am I posting here today? Well, the other day we had a whole new roof put on (the constant 'patching up' just wasn't cutting it anymore)... it all proved very messy and there were quite a few casualties in my beloved garden... Apparently, plants don't handle roof debris landing on them very well... Anyhoo, as I swept away the debris and cut back the plants (with a tear in my eye), the hubby reminded me that you can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs... Looking on the bright side, I trimmed the broken branches of my David Austin 'Grace' rose and popped their drooping stems in a jug of water in hope that they might open, and at least be enjoyed inside... and this is what I awoke to this morning...

Moral of the story: Every cloud as a silver lining.
Stay chipper.

Monday, May 14, 2012

What a lovely Mother's Day...

Hello dearies,
Hope all is fine and dandy with you all. I have spent my Monday catching up from my Mother's Day hurrah. Yes,  Mother's Day does afford a day of rest, but, unfortunately, the chores do pile up while you're being pampered. At one point, I ventured into the kitchen (to top up my glass of vino), only to be greeted by piles of wet clothes (left over from a water fight in the garden), dishes oozing out of the kitchen sink and dishwasher, and a path of toys (both children's and dogs') strewn like a breadcrumb trail through the house.

Not that I'm about to complain, as the hubby did do a spot of ironing for me on Sunday morning. He made a mere dent in the mountain of ironing which smirks at me on a daily basis... But any little bit helps (I think it also helped him appreciate what a god-awful task it is)...

Anyhoo, I figured I would share a little of my special day with you...

Catching up on the latest Country Living

It was spent in my little garden. I'm so proud of this space that my heart swells when I sit in it and appreciate it's beauty. It's ever-evolving and I'm never quite sure what I'm going to end up with... I just plant and leave it up to the gods, letting the blank canvas evolve in front of me...

This year, I am over-run with Evening Primrose. I'm not even sure where they came from. The pale pink doesn't sit naturally next to the orange of the Coreopsis, or the deep pink of the Dianthus (an annual that never died back during our mild winter), but, hey-ho, I just let them all grow with free abandonment... I'm sure there are a lot of more experienced gardeners out there that would 'tsk-tsk' this hodge podge of colours, but I've never been one to conform...

I've finally managed to get the hang of roses, with several David Austins planted around the patio... I'd always envisaged sitting out in the evening with a nice glass of wine and the air heavy with the scent of roses... Hopefully, this year, I'll be doing exactly that... although, I think the air will also have a strong citronella smell to it too (blooming mosquitos). I've also popped in some climbing roses... they're starting to wind themselves around a wrought iron arbor... I'm going to wait until a few more are open before I share that picture with you, though.

Anyhoo, whether it be the fragrant roses which are just beginning to display their beauty, the butterflies and bees flitting between the honeysuckle and foxgloves, or the birds splashing in the bird bath, all of it is a pleasure for the senses.

At one point, a neighbour popped over and congratulated me on the tranquil space I have created...

... and that, my dears, is exactly what I was aiming for. I so rarely end up with what I envisaged, but I think I've finally cracked it in the garden... mind you, there is always room for improvement... And that's the great thing about a garden: it's a piece of art that is forever evolving and, while you can control it to a certain degree, you can never be sure of what you'll end up with!

So, my Mother's Day was spent doing what I love the most... Watching my little girls play fairies in the garden all day long (with no major tantrums), enjoying the peaceful space I have created, and just being thankful... thankful for being alive...

... and being a Mum.

Thank you for popping by. I'll catch up with you next week.
Take care all.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Mother's Day wish for Kristen...

How do I find you today? Well, I hope! Here in the United States, we are celebrating Mother's Day. 
I have to say, I prefer celebrating this special day a little later in the season, as it gives me the chance to do some planting... and what better way to spend an afternoon? That and a nice cuppa :-)
Anyhoo, I wanted to share something with you, today... It's quite a tragic tale, but, hopefully, one that can have a happy ending. Last summer, I was introduced to my neighbour's (and good friend) sister-in-law, Kristen, a young mum and ER nurse. We pushed our daughters on the swings, chatted about motherhood, and she told me  how she was pregnant again. Happy days! However, at 8 months pregnant, Kristen was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Her baby daughter, Scarlett, was born healthy (thankfully). Kristen, however, was battling daily seizures. She is now on medication to control these. The brain tumor has been diagnosed as a grade II Astrocytoma, which is a type of tumor that is slow growing, but life-threatening. Due to the seizures, Kristen can no longer work as an ER nurse and has now lost her job and, subsequently, her health benefits. As a mother, I can't begin to imagine what Kristen deals with on a daily basis. When most new mothers are enjoying their newborns and battling with their hormones, Kristen carries this heavy load with her. The fear of the illness, coupled with the debt of any treatment that could help prolong her life.  So, I am asking anybody popping by here today to please visit her website. 

Offer words of encouragement or, even better, a donation. If you have a blog site, please help raise awareness for this site. This is a mother who deserves to celebrate many, many Mother's Days with her children.
Happy Mother's Day, all!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A recipe for strawberry & rhubarb crumble...

Hello, hello-
Me again. I didn't leave it as long between visits this time, did I? I'm trying my very hardest to get back into my blog stride. So, today, I squeezed in a little *us* time between the laundry folding and bed. Don't you just hate laundry (I can see you're nodding right now)?

Anyhoo, I'm not about to get into a rant about my never-ending laundry pile, but if anyone knows how to resolve this conundrum (other than the kids walking around in their birthday suits), please let me know, because, today, I did a whole butt-load of laundry and yet, when I went to the girls' hamper at the end of the night, it was already back at the top again... I think they're hiding another puppy in the bottom of it.

Speaking of puppies... my little Lucy is off to be *fixed* this coming Thursday... to say I'm nervous is an understatement, but never mind me... poor, poor Lucy. She has no idea! One minute, she'll be merrily chewing bones and the next minute... well, we all know what happens...

On a brighter note, it does mean that she'll be convalescing for a few days and so, hopefully, with the wind knocked out of her sails, she might give me a break and stop stealing laundry... It wouldn't be so bad if she took it, never to be seen again, but, instead, I'm forever finding knickers (and the like) dotted all around this little old house... I'm back on laundry again, aren't I? Well, this post is not titled, 'Laundry,' so I best get onto the subject in question... Rhubarb!

I lurve rhubarb, so when I popped into my local farmer's market the other day and spied it on the shelf, I decided to rustle up a Rhubarb and Strawberry crumble.

Now, as a child, my mum typically made an Apple and Rhubarb crumble and, while it was delicious, I just love the combination of rhubarb and strawberry, as  the sweetness of the strawberry really balances out the tart rhubarb. Add the delicious buttery, crunchy topping and you have on your hands one pretty fantastic dessert.

Why don't you give it a whirl? I promise you won't be disappointed!

Here's Lucy blissfully unaware...
Oh, and while I remember, here's a picture of my Lucy Boo... Aww, if only she knew what was in store for her...
Take care all.

Rhubarb & Strawberry Crumble

4 sticks of rhubarb sliced into approx. 3 cm chunks
2 cups strawberries, stalks removed and sliced
2 tbsp vanilla sugar (use regular sugar if you don't have it)
2 tbsp water
1 1/2 cups (approx. 200g) of plain flour 
1 stick (114g) unsalted butter cut into cubes
1/2 cup (approx. 100g) of brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F
Place the rhubarb chunks in a pan and add two tablespoons of water. Sprinkle with the vanilla sugar and place on the hob on a low heat, remove when the rhubarb starts to soften (don't allow it to stew, otherwise you'll end up with a rhubarb gloop). 
Transfer the rhubarb to a ovenproof dish, using a slotted spoon.
Sift the flour into a medium sized bowl, and add the butter. Rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips. When the flour and butter have been rubbed in, the mixture should look like bread crumbs. Stir the sugar into the flour mixture.
Add the sliced strawberries to your rhubarb and sprinkle with a little vanilla sugar. Spread the flour mixture over the top of the fruit, ensuring that all the fruit is covered.
Pop the crumble in the oven for 35-40 minutes. When finished the crumble top should have a lovely golden top.
Allow the crumble to cool for 10 minutes, as it comes out radioactive hot!! Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream... Mmmmmm!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

What a lovely Spring...

Hello, there...
I'm still here. I've just been a busy bee finishing off projects (and starting new ones) around this old place... I tell you what, your work is never done when you're living in an old rickety house like this one! I have to say, though, while the sun has been shining, I have been neglecting the old indoors and spending as much time as possible in the garden. Now that, my dears, is food for the soul!

I don't think I am ever happier than when there's dirt under my nails, the sun on my face, and a nice cuppa in my hand (the best reward after grafting all day in the garden).

So, "What have you been up to?" I hear you ask... well, let me tell you, we have shifted three tonne of gravel, laid umpteen stepping stones, cleared a zillion tree roots and finally have a path which leads us all the way from the front gate to the back door! This is a huge deal in this little old house, as it now means I can get from the front door to the back without the need for wellies... Thank you for small mercies.

I was hoping to pop a picture up on the old blog showing the spoils of our labour, but alas it was raining, so you will have to wait... I promise, I will get some up here (pinky promise)... I also owe you some bathroom shots... yep, I did eventually finish that, too... I'm just so behind on pictures... You know, I find that with this blogging malarkey, it's not the writing which takes up my time (writing's like talking for me; I always have plenty to say), it's the pictures I struggle with. I have a million and one things I want to share with you, but never have the pictures to back it up!

 Anyhoo, hopefully I'll get better, as the hubby bought a new DSLR camera (I dropped the old DSLR and smashed the screen)... he has (cautiously) said I can use his, so, with this new gadget, I might finally get around to getting those piccies (weather permitting).

Meanwhile, here are some Spring shots taken a couple of weeks ago, when everything was just starting to bud... the garden now looks like it's mid-May... Oh, and it has a lovely path leading to the front of the house... Did I mention that?

Right-o, I best be off... it's getting late and I'm sure a gal that needs her beauty sleep!
Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Puppies and clovers...

Hello there. It's been a while, hasn't it? But, I can confirm that I am still here in this crazy blogosphere...
I'm not going to get into the, 'I am a bad blogger' yada yada... you know it, I know it... let's just say I've been crazy busy and move swiftly on...
Anyhoo, what has little old me been up to these past months, I hear you ask (you didn't? Nevermind, I'll tell you anyway)... Well, what with decorating, gardening, teaching my eldest to read (proud mummy moment), we also added to our little brood... No, no... don't get your knickers in a twist. I haven't been busy making babies in my absence, but I have been nursing a little pup... (not literally of course because that would just be out and out gross)... I have been cuddling, wiping up lots of pee-pees (and poops), walking and fussing over our new pup, Lucy. Jeez she's cute...

So, while cooing over said puppy, my blogging time went on the back burner. But, today, I dusted off the old keyboard and thought to share a little moment of my life with you...
My eldest found this four-leaf clover today...

...she then swiftly lost it... I was a tad disappointed, but she simply replied, 'Don't worry, mummy. I'll find another'... I then proceeded to tell her that, when I was her age, I, too, found a four-leaf clover. My mum pressed it in a huge dictionary where it still resides today. I have looked for another four-leaf clover since and to this day (over 30 years later), and I have yet to find another... The moral of the story being that she probably won't find another (I know, I'm a mum that bursts the bubble).
She proved me wrong, as later that day, while playing in the garden, she only went and found another four-leaf clover!!! Moral of the story... if you believe it, it will happen!
Keep smiling!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thoughts for Thursday: Wisdom Teeth

Hello again -
This week started pretty yucky, with a much needed trip to the dentist for a wisdom tooth extraction. The dentist had informed me at the last visit that, 'this was going to be a difficult extraction'... these are words you never want to hear from your dentist... or anyone else for that matter...

A picture of a flower... far nicer than anything to do with dentistry...
Anyhoo, I went into the surgery room bravely (albeit after a minor panic attack in the waiting room)... After much pushing, cracking, and general nastiness, the offending tooth was out... Now, I have to say I actually don't know the point in wisdom teeth. For me, they have only ever been the cause of pain. As a teenager, I had perfectly healthy teeth removed to make room for them and now, as an adult, it appears it was all in vain, as the wisdom teeth themselves have gone! Am I any wiser? Only to the pain of tooth extraction. Perhaps tooth pain is needed along the path of enlightenment to attain ultimate wisdom. For now, though, I look like I've been popping testosterone pills, as evidenced by my new manly jaw.
Anyways, I best get off... I'm making soup...
Take care.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Thoughts for Thursday: Too many signs??

Hi there,
Well, we've made it past "hump day" and we're on our way to the weekend! Can I please hear a big sigh of relief...? Not that weekdays are bad, but there's still nothing like that "Friday feeling"... and yep, I still get that feeling, even though I am a stay-at-home mum and not bound by the conventional work week. Saturdays mean I have an extra pair of hands to break up squabbles, feed the kids, play Strawberry Shortcake and the likes... and let me tell you, those hands are as welcome as an oasis in a desert!

Anyhoo, that's by the by... what I wanted to chat about today was the amount of labels and signs appearing in homes... signs informing us what to do, whether it be relax, bathe, or simply breathe... or informative labels telling us where items are stored or which room we are about to enter.

Seriously, with the amount of signs in my house, you'd think someone had gone Health and Safety-mad in there! You could even be confused into thinking my little home was a factory employing a dozen or more people (all needing to be informed where everything was at a drop of a hat), and not a poky little house next to the beach.

I have to say, it had gone unnoticed by my eyes until the hubby pointed it out the other day. Then it was like one of those film moments, where the heroine realises that there are clues to the murder all around her and the camera darts around the room to them while a dramatic tune is played on a violin and piano combo! He was right. I had gone sign / label crazy. Almost everything in my kitchen bore some sort of lettering on it... Was that the design look I was going for or had I gone overboard??? Either way, this look will certainly come in useful when my memory starts to fail me!

Anyways, I was just wondering whether this sign / label craze is just something which exists in my house or whether you've jumped aboard too...

Take a look around your home and see how many signs and labels you have. Are these design choices just another indication that our lives have become so stressful that we need to run our homes with office-like precision and then tell ourselves to relax, breathe and drink tea?? Well, I guess we'll at least know where to find the tea!!

Good catching up today!
Take care.

Monday, January 9, 2012

A spring day in January...

Hello you!
Happy Monday! I can't quite believe that it's January. We are supposed to be in the depth of winter and yet, here in New Jersey, we are enjoying weather that would be more befitting to the first flourishes of Spring. I even have a bud on one of my roses. Yet, this time last year, we were up to our armpits in snow... not literally, but it sure felt like it.

Anyhoo, making the most of this clement weather, I packed the kids off outside and did a spot of tidying in the garden. Although the weather was Spring-like, the garden confirmed that we were, indeed, not even half-way through January.

My little garden was devoid of any colour  (except for my wee rose bud)... just an array of bare brown sticks poking out of the ground. I am always in amazement that, in a matter of months, these sticks will once again come to life and I'll be seeing the sprouts of green pushing up through the ground. Yay for perennials, the plants which just keeps on giving.

Anyways, while the girls and I petered around in the garden, the hubby donned his DIY cap and set about installing bead board in the bathroom... a project that has sat on the back burner for the past 6 months... but, as I said, this is a new year, a year where we are going to get things done about this little old place... starting with finishing our poky bathroom.

It will still be poky on completion, as we haven't the room to add on, but given it's size limitations, we decided to build on it's cozy cottage appeal... in fact, that's the ethos we're adopting for the whole house!

Hopefully, I'll finally be able to show you the finished project by the end of this month, but judging by the fact I just had to stop typing to deal with the hubby's (now missing) thumb nail, I won't hold my breath!

Anyhoo, I just thought I'd check in with you and share a bit of our Sunday with you.
See you later in the week!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Thoughts for Thursday: Nostalgic for Newspapers

Hello there, lovelies...
How's your start to the New Year been? Mine has been relaxing... thus far. In fact, since my return from Blighty, the house has been a lot calmer and I've been enjoying the art of sitting down. It's fantastic! You should give it a whirl sometime... but I warn you, it is an addictive past-time.

Anyhoo, while partaking in this new found hobby, I found that, although the old legs enjoy *resting,* the brain is demanding of a little more activity... So, I've taken to reading the news once again. Now, I'm a modern thinking gal (with most things), but I can't get my head around picking up something electronic to read the daily news. I need to hear the rustle of paper... I need to wrestle with the awkward dimensions of the broad sheets (here in the States, the NY Times still remains broad). I need to smell the paper and feel the print on my fingertips. But what I love most of all is the fact that I end up reading a news story that I would ordinarily pass on, simply because it is on the same page as a more intriguing passage.

I was chatting with the hubby the other day about the down-turn in readership of the good old-fashioned newspaper. I then commented on how I couldn't ever imagine reading all of my news on a laptop or the likes, to which he replied that our daughters' generation probably couldn't imagine not reading the news electronically... My heart sank at this... I have such fond memories of the newspapers littered on the floor of the living room on a Sunday morning... sections being passed between family members, until, eventually, they were all gathered up by my mum, stored in a neat pile next to the hearth and used at a later date to help start the fire. Passing electronic devices back and forth or emailing articles doesn't quite conjure up the same soul satisfying image...

Anways, with this fond memory planted firmly in my mind, I renewed our subscription to the NY Times. Our first paper was delivered on New Year's Eve and it has been well and truly thumbed... I feel a little more informed and hope that this action of reading the newspapers at the weekend will sow the seed for my little ones and they carry on the tradition of reading actual newspapers... Although, what excites me even more (if truth be told), is the fact that the *Newspaper basket* I procured while in Blighty now actually has newspapers in it!! Come on, I know I've told you about my basket obsession before and this was just too good to pass! Oh, and just in case you were wondering, we have already created a recycling tub for newspapers.

What's your take on the traditional newspaper? A relic that belongs in the past? The only way to read the news? Or, do you take your news both ways? Let me know, I'd be interested to hear whether it's just me that gets nostalgic for newspapers.

Righty-o, I best be off. Good to catch up!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Happy 2012!

Well, here we are again on the first day of the New Year! And boy, am I looking forward to the year ahead! 2011 was certainly a year for me. One in which I felt a little lost, but one that ended on a good note... not counting the fact that both of my little girls have terrible colds and the poor old dog had a trip to the vets yesterday! But, hey, I'm focusing on the positive here and I'm going to take this positive energy all the way through 2012!
Last night, the hubby, girls, and I rang in the New Year, laughing, dancing and full of good New Year spirit (unfortunately not of the alcoholic variety)... this was a marked contrast with last year's New Year's Eve, whereby we were all slumped on the couch suffering from a bout of food poisoning... strangely, ill health followed me throughout the year...  So, being a superstitious gal, I made sure this New Year's Eve that I was happy and confident (albeit wiping the girls noses and administering medication to the dog) and hopefully this up-beat attitude will continue throughout 2012!

2012 is going to be a good year for all of us in this little old place... this is the year for finishing some tasks around here. The year that I will *own* the garden (and win the battle with the mosquitoes), the year I will take a family vacation (and it won't be to the UK), the year I will keep my commitment to the gym, learn to live with my food allergies and finally make that blooming blind for the back door!!! I've committed here, so let's see if I can achieve at least some of the above ;-)

Anyhoo, I flipped the new calendar to January this morning (apparently, my mum says it's bad luck to turn it before... and to have wet laundry on New Year's Day... Did I mention I'm superstitious?)... Where was I? Ah yes, the calendar... not the usual Sainsbury's freebie!! It appears that the recession is biting old Mr J Sainsbury's and he has deemed that the giving of free calendars is a frivolity too far. Bah, humbug!

So, I picked up the January Period Living along with a free 2012 calendar. I know, I could have actually spent money on a calendar, but that would have been a  break in tradition too far!  The poor hubby was a tad disappointed that he's going to be greeted by piccies of old homes, instead of delicious food, but, hey, he'll have to take his complaints to Mr. Sainsbury... You never know, the hubby could end up being motivated by the gorgeous images of period homes and decide to start fixing this place up! Now there's a thought...

Anyways, I best be getting on, I have sick children and pets to tend...  Oh, and a New Year's Dinner to cook. Start the New Year as I mean to go on, and that includes good home cooking! Ooh, but before I leave, let me just say, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! Thank you so much for popping by this past year... you were definitely a highlight of 2011!
Related Posts with Thumbnails