"Every house where love abides
And friendship is a guest,
Is surely home, and home sweet home
For there the heart can rest."
~ Henry Van Dyke

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Berry pickin'

The weekend is just about here and we are off to Cranberry Cottage. I am hoping it will not be busy in our little dirt road so I can enjoy time in the garden stitching and reading. This is a pinkeep that I stitched about two years ago while we were at the cottage. It is the height of the tourist season but we hope our little hideaway is still peaceful. We will not be lazy in the garden the entire weekend. It is blueberry season and we hope to go pick some berries to enjoy in the coming week while having some to freeze for over the winter months. We like to go to the berry farm a couple of times each summer to get our fill of pickin'.

“You ought to have seen what I saw on my way
To the village, through Mortenson's pasture to-day:
Blueberries as big as the end of your thumb,
Real sky-blue, and heavy, and ready to drum
In the cavernous pail of the first one to come!
And all ripe together, not some of them green
And some of them ripe! You ought to have seen!"

~~ Robert Frost

Friday, July 24, 2009

Summer reading and cleaning up

This year, I am reading more than ever. I just love to start my day with a good book while I relax in a hot bath. The bath is necessary for my muscles to warm up and start to unstiffen but the book is necessary for my soul.

My mother and I share books and both love reading cozy mysteries. One of our favorite authors is Nancy Atherton who writes the Aunt Dimity series. I have so enjoyed this series but this one "Aunt Dimity and The Next of Kin" was different than the others. It was so uplifting and restores the idea of a kind and caring world. I won't go into the plot too much in case you would want to read it for yourself. I will only say, please do. I would recommend you start with this series from the beginning in order to really get to know the characters in this little Cotwolds village. But the books are able to be read individually if you would rather not do the entire series. Do read book one no matter what as you are introduced to Lori, Aunt Dimity and Bill.

I am also decluttering and cleaning my bookshelves literally a shelf at a time. I have been doing about two shelves a week and going through books. We are trying to get rid of things as our home becomes too full. We have a very large stack of books to hopefully be sold to a secondhand bookshop. I also have a couple of books and magazines to pass along to a friend who loves reading books written in English as does her daughter. Then there is a bag of handwork related mysteries to pass along to the ladies of the Sip 'N Stitch group when I see them next week. At first, I hated parting with books but have learned the only way I have space to buy more books is to pass along ones I probably won't read again. Sharing things I am not using is a good feeling.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The world of gardening...

...is a funny world. At least it is when you live in Holland and it is a typical Dutch summer. *grins* We stayed up at Cranberry Cottage this weekend. It was wonderful to sleep in the cool little house in the woods. By cool, I don't mean slang for neat or hip but literally cool. The woods keep it much cooler there than here in the virtually treeless suburbs of the city. But we are having a typical Dutch July with rain on and off. So those off moments were spent weeding our drive at the cottage, trimming a few things and cutting the grass. You just run out after a rain shower and work until the next one. Can't you just see us running in and out? But we don't mind as the garden needs the rain after a hot and dry May and June. I find it very comforting to know that normal weather has returned to the country.

We don't have much success growing roses in our city garden. I do have my Edith Holden rose but we have a climbing rose that has not given us a single bloom this year. So we were very pleased to arrive at Cranberry Cottage only to find our rose bushes doing so well. The reason we were thrilled is that we purchased these very cheap bushes from the grocery store Aldi and had half expected them, along with the rhododendrons we bought at the same time, not to really grow. They have all surprised us by doing extremely well!

Another gardening miracle are these lilies. They were brought from our city garden for a last ditch effort before throwing them away. They refused to bloom the last year in the city garden and the first 3 summers at the cottage. This year, I was looking at some plants I am going to replace and was astonished to see these lilies were in bloom. Sorry about the lighting as these photos were taken in the evening so I had to use a flash.

But wait...if you enlarge the first photo, you will see something slimy crawling on the flowers! Yuk! The lilies were covered in big, fat, ugly slugs. How did they even get up there??? They look so heavy compared to the slender stem holding the flowers. Now I am an experimental garden. I just try things out and if they don't work, I try something else. But I have no idea why these are being invaded by slugs? Any of you experienced gardeners out there know about slugs loving lilies? Not the leaves but the flowers? We do not use any kind of poisons and up to now, Jos simply puts on garden gloves and takes the slugs back to the woods. Not very efficient considering we are not at the cottage every day.

It all leaves me with just one burning question on my mind today...

Where is Alan Titchmarsh when you need him?????

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Paddle little ducks...

Since we live in a house built right in the water, it is fun to open my window and feed the ducks. It feels like they are our pets. This mother had 9 little ducklings but there is only one with her now. I hope the others did exactly what is said in this little child's rhyme and nothing else bad became of them...

Paddle little ducks,
Paddle, paddle all day;
Paddle little ducks,
Paddle, paddle away.

Five little ducks paddling to shore,
One paddled away, then there were four;
Four little ducks paddling toward me,
One paddled away, then there were three;
Three little ducks paddling toward you,
One paddled away, then there were two;
Two little ducks paddling in the sun,
One paddled away, then there was none!

Paddle little ducks,
Paddle, paddle all day;
Paddle little ducks,
Paddle, paddle away.

Monday, July 13, 2009

You love the roses - so do I...

Flowers can be portrayed by Mother Nature but also in words as with this poem by George Eliot. I find words sometimes smell even sweeter than sight. I have found this year that I am very addicted to reading. Seeing a film is bland compared to the words written on the page. Are you doing any summer reading?

"You love the roses - so do I. I wish
The sky would rain down roses, as they rain
From off the shaken bush. Why will it not?
Then all the valley would be pink and white
And soft to tread on. They would fall as light
As feathers, smelling sweet; and it would be
Like sleeping and like waking, all at once!"

~ George Eliot

We recently found out that my mother has stage two breast cancer. She will be going for surgery on July 22nd. Many of you visit her blog as well as mine and I thank you for your support and prayers.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Lemonade in the garden anyone?

Can you stop by today for a glass of lemonade in the garden?

Lemonade is an American drink that is really refreshing in the summer sun. It is easy to make, so for those of you who have never tried it, here is how I make mine. Squeeze the juice of one lemon and pour into a half liter carafe.

Sweeten as desired. I use only one spoonful of sugar as we like ours to be sour. For us, it is a great taste when you feel hot in summer.

Just swirl the juice and sugar together to mix.

Now fill the carafe with ice cold water.

It is ready to serve. Try serving it in a wine glass to give yourself a spoiled feeling this summer.

Here is an empty chair waiting for you. I enjoy sitting here looking at 'our ladies' as we call our newly planted Annabelle's (hydrangea) which line the two sides of the pergola. I wanted to create an illusion of more depth to the garden using these and the mirror at the end of the garden. Even though the mirror is hidden in the shadow of the plants in this photo, it has really worked well. It is fun seeing it from the living room while we sit indoors also.

Aren't Annabelle's beautiful! And we have more butterflies this year. I caught this one as I just stepped out into the garden to take some photos. He stopped by to say hello like a garden fairy.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Too hot for housework?

Well, yes it actually is but I persevere. I really wanted to get my hutch reorganized after having posted about it here. And now with my dishes put nicely on the shelves again, it feels much better to me. I can now see the things I love again like my dishes with scenes from The Alsace.

The Wedgwood dishes are set out per place setting so I can take one out as I want to use it. The tea service is also all together making it easy to use. I had let it get cluttered and now things are back in order. If you remember my kitchen redo, I love having my cupboards looking nice even if you can not see in without opening a door.

The temperatures in Holland are so much warmer than we are used to and none of the promised rain has fallen here to relieve us. On top of that, we have had to keep the downstairs closed as we have this monster of a industrial dehumidifier in our room to dry out the walls after the leak. They all seem dry now and I have turned it out today as the sound and heat is getting to me. Tomorrow the man comes back to measure the walls again and hopefully take the machine with him. Another man from the insurance came by today and hopefully they will approve covering the total costs. We still have our fingers crossed the wood floor will be okay. It is laid in a herringbone pattern and if it does start to crack open at the seams, it will be really bad. Time will tell if it will be okay...

In the meantime, I decided I needed to come up with a no cost solution to tables and lamps to create light with my mirrors. I am ordering two wallpapers and cardboard to make reversible backs inside my hutch and did not want to spend money on a new table. The wallpaper is quite expensive here.

A half hour of moving things around in my living room and I have a lamp at each mirror. I am using my tallest candlestick lamps. The tables were not the same height but a few of my vintage books helped solve that problem.

Some poppies in a vase really added a summer touch to a few of my collection of opera glasses. Excuse the items on the floor. I have my beading supplies there as I am hoping to start on making a charm bracelet very soon.

The other table has only a limited space but a little green plant and Jos' grandfather's old pocket watch fit just right.