Country Garden

Have I mentioned how much I like my new back yard patio?  Its like being in an oasis – and I am so thankful for this gift in my life.  Morning coffee has never tasted better than when sitting listening to the water bubbling over the rocks and hearing the birds chirping and waking up.

I have to say I love walking around and pulling out the weeds – making sure that they don’t take over the garden beds.  Watching the buds come in  on the hydrangea and coming to full bloom gives great joy.  I love the garden!

The next step is to invest in some outdoor furniture – and more than likely that can wait until next year.  I like to sit in a room and see what it needs before making any decisions – to feel what would be best there – to sense how the room will function and what kinds of pieces will not only function well – but give it a special aura of “home” – and of course a personal touch of style.

And so I will wait probably until next year – just continuing to use my two plastic adirondack chairs for now.  As I sit and drink my coffee or read  or just enjoy the sunshine I will dream about what it might need.  Should I get 4 chairs to put in a circle – an umbrella – long lounge chairs so that I can stretch out  – should I have a table with chairs surrounding so that I can host dinner parties – should I have some of the above or all of the above?  Questions I don’t have the answers to yet – I need time to “feel” it.  That is part of the fun of the whole experience as well!

This garden patio from the blog ” A Country Farmhouse” is just beautiful.  The country table was built and stained a light grey blue colour.  It is  lovely.  I love the idea of an unconventional outdoor table.  I would like to have something similar however, I’m not sure I could easily move and store it in the winter.  These are the functional issues I would have to consider when making a decision regarding a table.

The wicker chairs are wonderful, inexpensive and stackable  Very functional!

Please visit the blog “A Country Farmhouse”. (link on the sidebar)  You will just love the beautiful farm house in this blog!

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My Love Affair With Hydrangea

I love hydrangea!  Every Easter and Mother’s Day I would buy a hydrangea plant for my mother and the response from her brought so much joy.  Even though this was something I did on an annual basis you would have thought it was a new idea – a gift of a lifetime – she loved hydrangea and loved to receive them.  Oh what joy it brought to her – and oh what joy it brought to me to gift her with this very simple gift!

She especially loved the deep pink coloured hydrangea and would plant them in her garden where they would bloom and blossom for years to come.

With Easter coming – and with Spring here – it is time to start dreaming and planning for the garden – and hydrangea is part of the dream!

 

Things I Love …

These rooms inspire me!

You can tell what your style is by the rooms that you are drawn to – rooms that inspire you.

The following rooms I love !

House Beautiful

House Beautiful

House Beautiful

I love the creamy white with the blue – so fresh and beach like.  And I love the look of comfort and country –

not too formal –

but still really beautiful to look at.

House Beautiful

House Beautiful

House Beautiful

Pink and brown – I love it!

House Beautiful

House Beautiful

Things I Love III – Irish Comfort Food

There is nothing like Irish soda bread – hot out of the oven with melted butter, sharp cheddar cheese and and strawberry jam – ach (the way the Irish say it – ach…can you hear it?) – comfort food. I was introduced to this bread by my good friend Anne  – who bakes this bread on a regular basis.  She has the recipe from her mom Maise – and she serves it with a cup of tea or coffee – and cheese and jam.  Umm umm good!

The soda bread is a heavy bread – chewy in a way -not airy – dense I would say – and very tasty!  The crust is crunchy – so good!

You need to eat it with cheese – I like to have a nice sharp cheddar – or aged cheddar. Slather on some great strawberry jam – add a piece of cheese and a cup of tea or coffee and you have a great afternoon snack break, or an evening treat when friends drop by.  And the best jam – homemade strawberry freezer jam – and I have a great recipe.

I used to make this jam in June – during strawberry season – I would go pick the strawberries and then make several batches and put it in the freezer.  I have not done this in years – I need to get back to this – find the balance in my life – I know – tired of hearing it – me too!  My sister and I talk about doing this every spring – this is our year!  I will give you the recipe below – so easy and so tasty – and you can just put it in the freezer – or give it away as a gift!

My friend Anne – such a beautiful Irish lasse!

Irish Soda Bread

    4 cups (1 L) all purpose flour, (can substitute 1/2 the all purpose flour with whole wheat)
    1 tbsp (15 mL) granulated sugar
    1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
    1 tsp (5 mL) salt
    2 cups (500 mL) buttermilk
In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, baking soda and salt and flour. Make a well in middle of the flour, and add buttermilk all at once.Use your hands to mix buttermilk into flour to form a soft dough.Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Lightly knead the dough a few times to make a smooth ball. 

Place loaf onto parchment-lined or greased baking sheet or put in greased loaf pan. With sharp knife, score a large ‘X’ on the top of the dough. Bake in the centre of a 425 F (220 C) oven for about 35 minutes. The loaf is done when browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Serve warmed with butter and honey or cheese and jam.

  • Spotted Dog Variation:
    Add 1 cup (250 mL) raisins or currants and 1 tsp (5 mL) caraway seeds (optional) to the flour

Strawberry Freezer Jam

  • 2 cups crushed fresh strawberries
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 (1.75 ounce) package dry pectin
  • 3/4 cup water
  1. Mix crushed strawberries with sugar, and let stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, stir the pectin into the water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 1 minute. Stir the boiling water into the strawberries. Allow to stand for 3 minutes before pouring into jars or other storage containers.
  2. Place tops on the containers, and leave for 24 hours. Place into freezer, and store frozen until ready to use.

Enjoy everyone!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!

Things I Love II

Just a quick follow up to my post yesterday – well maybe not so quick – I can get longwinded!

I took a much needed trip to the grocery store yesterday and just could not resist picking up a weekend treat – more flowers.

And this week’s choice is roses – deep pink – beautiful!

And here I sit in front of my fire on a cozy Sunday afternoon …..

Yesterday I was convinced Spring was on the way – the rain had melted the snow and although a grey and wet day somehow the promise of  a change of season came with the rain – but this morning I woke up to this ……

And so I am quite pleased that I brought a little colour and life into the house yesterday with the purchase of my $20 beautiful deep pink roses.

The colour is rich and deep – it reminds me of the colour of a chair that my mother had for years in our home growing up – it was a deep rose velvet side chair with a tufted back and beautiful wooden arms and legs.  My sister Carol has that chair and the fabric is faded and needs to be replaced – but still beautiful.  I found a piece of the original velvet and have it now – I took a picture below -I want to make cushions – it will be a special reminder of our growing up days.

I have to tell you that on those rare days when I can stay home and enjoy being “in” I love to light a fragrant candle and I do have my favourites – today it is “Cinnamon and Clove Buds” – love the smell of cinnamon!  And yes I will burn these candles just for me – why not?  I recommend this particular brand – buy it at Bath and Body Works – it burns so well – and an amazing fragrance!

And so I curl up and put the fire on and light a candle and read a good book – reading is one of my favourite things to do – you can get lost in another world when you read a good book – not to mention what you might be able to learn.  In all truth – lately I have found it difficult to concentrate on reading – I have a hard time focusing my mind as there is so much going on in life right now – but my hope and belief is that my attempts to balance life will bring back my focus – and then I will be able to reread two wonderful books that I highly recommend – “Blink” and “Outliers” both by Malcolm Gladwell. “Blink” is about the power of thinking without thinking – it is about trusting instincts and intuition.  It is a fascinating read.  And “Outliers” by the same author is a study on success – and what successful people have in common – also very fascinating.

And so I enjoy my day in …….and by the way, the hand painted fine china dish was a find at a garage sale many years ago – and I love it!

And guess what – my driveway and walk are not shovelled yet – I keep thinking it will warm up and melt – enough of the shovelling!  I’m going to stay in this afternoon and enjoy the sun and the day – just as I should – after all – it is Sunday!

Happy Sunday everyone!

Things I Love

I realize that you all are going to think this post is about flowers – yes I do love flowers – I am sure that is obvious by now….but there is so much more that I love as well!

I love to travel, I love the ocean, I love the mountains, I love a good fire in the fireplace, I love candles, I love beautiful china and dishes of all sorts, I love soft feather fluffy pillows, I love live jazz music and eating gourmet thin crust pizza, especially if I am with good friends.    I love eating on the patio of a restaurant in the summer (I especially love eating pizza on an outside patio in picnic style).   I love …well so many things ….it is hard to list them.

I love a good cup of coffee every morning, but I especially love it on a Saturday morning  – just something about getting up and making coffee and sitting and savouring it while thinking about what the day holds – very different from a work day!

I love to sit with my cup of coffee and have a great phone conversation with my sister about what the weekend will hold, what has happened the past week and what the next week will hold.  I love to sit in my wingback chair and look out at the tree in my backyard and watch the leaves bud, or blow in the wind or turn colour or drop – depending on what season of the year it is.  Yes, there is just something about a cup of coffee and a leisurely Saturday morning that is blessed!

And speaking of loving coffee – I LOVE my new Tassimo Coffee Maker – a gift for my birthday this year.  It is so easy to use, simple to clean and fast!  Doesn’t take the place of a full coffee maker, but works for me on a Saturday morning.  But don’t worry if you come and visit me, I will put on  a full pot of coffee – maybe even two pots!

Today has been good so far  – drinking my coffee  and chatting on the phone and on line with old friends to catch up.  I just wish that I had cream for my coffee – I was out and that is just devastating!  But….if that is as bad as it gets today – my life is good!

Rainy Saturday morning – coffee – fire place on – these are all things I love!  It is a beautiful day!