Sunday, January 30, 2011

My Sunday

Well the sun is out and I was quite surprised to see that my Spring counter on my Blog says only 49 days until Spring.  I must say I have been thinking of seed planting.  My friends husband is getting an early start on his peppers as he thought they were rather small compared with his other seedlings last year.  Jack is always coming up with unique ideas.  They have a little cottage style house, no garage or basement.  This is how they built a lot of the post-war homes over here for the home coming GIs.  Well Jack took advantage of some space in the stairwell were all the heat gets trapped and hung a shelf on chains, with a plastic liner and a grow light.  This is where he keeps his seedlings.  It's a brilliant set-up.

Last year I planted seeds and every day my dear hubby took them in and out of the garage, quite a tedious task.  So this year I'm going to get some breeze blocks, place them on the dirt with some of my old windows covering them, to make a cold frame.  Well you all know I have enough windows.  We will see how this works.

Along with my frugal campaign I will be planting almost entirely from seeds.  Actually it was a wonderful surprise, probably no surprise to anyone else, but the absolute diversity of my flower garden led to a wonderful diversity of bird life, especially the dear little humming birds visiting regularly, joy of joys.  You see frugality does have it's rewards.

I was also thinking on a different train of thought, how we picnic more.  A picnic takes a little more thought and preparation before you leave the house.  Instead of thinking "Oh! we'll just get something out."  And in many cases a picnic works out even better because you don't have to worry about looking for some place to buy food or eat at, and then can't find something you can afford or you are out in the boonies and there's nothing around.  So I'm a great advocate of 'Pack-a-Picnic.'  My mum always did when we were children, in fact I could count on one hand almost how many times we ate out, that is until I came to the States;  which was a wonderful novelty being single and going out with friends.  But life moves on and now were back full circle. 

Did you notice all the new fonts on Blogger.  Maybe I'm a little late in noticing this, but I always did think more fonts were needed to express oneself.  I love writing letters and my journal and diary so a handwriting style of font was warmly received by me.

Actually I have a friend Candyce, and we have regularly exchanged hand-written letters for well over twenty years.  Isn't that lovely to be able to say that in this world of technology.  Not that I don't love those new innovations to, as I'm on Blogger.  But there is truly something about the hand-written word.  They even say that in American schools cursive hand writing is becoming a thing of the past.  How sad because your hand-writing is you.

I guess that's why it was fun, actually down-loading my Lil Bit Brit Blog 2008 into a book.  Plus the access to digital format changes.  I have old mini VHS of Rob when little taken by a friend and cannot view it, it all needs converting.  So I guess my thought is, it's nice to have a tangible written letter or book.  Not something else that sits on a cloud server and could be here today and gone tomorrow.

I love to listen to Prairie Home Companion, it comes on American Public Radio and has done for over twenty-five years.  For those of you not familiar with it, it comes on Saturday evening and in our area is repeated on Sunday afternoon.  It's hosted/narrated by Garrison Keillor and is set in Minnesota.  A lot of fun about life there.  The stoic people who live there, plus music, readings, and stories.  More of an old time radio show.  Click on the link and take a look.

Well I must get back to my needlework, the felted mittens.  Plus I have the second DVD of Jane Eyre to watch, the 2006 version.  I have a notion to view my way through all the different versions from the thirties onwards.

Poor hubby is in bed with flu like symptoms.  So will take a hot water bottle up to him.  My mum always gave me hot milk, honey and a splash of whiskey, it works wonders.


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Felted Quasi Norwegian Mittens

I felted these mittens out of two old Austrian jackets. they were past their best.  One blue, one red.  I'm going to have a go at embroidering them, my own design, I guess quasi Norwegian style.  I will line them with a soft fabric. 

Will let you see what they turn out like.  It will be a work in progress.


Tinkerbell Snuggled In

Tinkerbell is pretty happy snuggled in here on the sofa.  She usually sits on the arm where I keep a little cover for her, but if she can she will decamp to the even cozier spot, right here.

I need to make more throw cushions for this sofa, I think what ever takes my fancy.


Friday, January 28, 2011

T.G.I. Tea On The Chinese Table

Tea on the Chinese table seems quite appropriate as in:

2737 B.C.
• The second emperor of China, Shen Nung, discovers tea when tea leaves blow into his cup of hot water or so the story goes.

I have a little gathering here of an American teapot and little matching tray Hartstone, USA  go on line and look at some of their lovely designs.  In fact you hardly need to use a tea-strainer because the pouring spout is so narrow.  It pours very well but slowly. 

If you're like me a pot has to pour well.  I bought a teapot, the design of which I liked a lot, but when I got it home it did not pour at all, it was worse than terrible, so I took it right back.  A bad pouring teapot is unacceptable. 

My teacup and saucer is from the Royal Horticultural Society Collection, Hookers Fruit, made in England.  The milk jug you've seen before, basket work tray and lace-work tray cloth both thrifted. 

Biscuits are called Spekulatius and are spiced cookies from Germany, I love them.

My Chinese table has seen a lot of where and is a BR before Rob acquisition, with six little stools which store underneath.  It is a great spot to serve tea and by the fire makes it very cozy.  As you see it also has some sewing going on, with my old sewing machine in the background, to the side.

I have the latest IKEA catalog open for a browse.  Have you noticed it's smaller and lighter in weight.   Less white and a lot more barn-wood type walls in the demo rooms.  I especially liked the room in the photo.

So where are you drinking your Tea?  Would love to see some settings from around the world.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Revamped Willow Pattern Cushion

I bought this cushion years ago.  Eventually the silk just wore out, so I unpicked the seams, kept the centre panel and the backing and bought some Chinese brocade to rework the sides.  It took a little longer than I thought it would.  Not measuring correctly and then having to add the squares in the corners, to not waste fabric.  Plus I am a stickler for inside edges all being finished off.  I don't know why. nobody sees them, although on the brocade which frays like crazy it was a good idea, but I just must have neatened seams.

The backer which is a soft fabric showed all the seam holes, so I embroidered a chain stitch all around on the back to cover that up.  Should have put the opening on the bottom, not the top, but c'est la vie!


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My Windows on the World Today

This is a wonderful cedar tree in the neighborhood, isn't it glorious?  Makes me think of the Cedars of Lebanon I Kings 4:33 "and he would speak about the trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon..."

This is my view of the world today.  Snow this morning and more snow tonight.

All snows are different, well they are aren't they.  Soft and powdery, heavy and wet, misty and crystalline,  I don't think any snow storm this winter has been the same.  All has it's unique splendor.  Have you ever thought if snow was black?  No it would never be, humans love white.  This earth was created for our joy.


Monday, January 24, 2011


Here are some Moonflower seed pods that my friend gave me.  She knows I love Moonflowers, their fragrance is heady and pungent, conjuring up far away romantic places.  I hope I do well growing them.

I thought of two places I would like to plant them.  One outside my Simla room windows, because I'm often sitting in there of a summer's evening, and the second place would be by my circular pond patio. I hope there is enough sun in both places.

Annual, Perennial, Ipomea
Moonflowers are nocturnal bloomers, perfect for night owls and late night strollers. After sunset, these huge white flowers bloom and glow all night in the moonlight. Then, as the sun rises, they close their fragrant blooms. 

Moonflowers are a vining plant, and can grow as much as 12-18 feet in a single year. They are perennial in their native tropical homes, and used as annuals in more northerly areas. 

Moonflower plants are prolific climbers with attractive leaves. Make sure to plant them where they can climb quickly towards the moon. Plant them along patios and sidewalks where people are likely to be in early evening hours. 


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Snow and Reason

Well yes we did have more snow and yes we will be having more snow next week or spelled backwards wons.  In any case you may wonder about the word reason in my title.  Well the reason our lovely 700 acre park exists in the middle of suburban sprawl, is because well over a hundred years ago it was the decided site for the Insane Asylum; which later became known as the State Hospital.

For at least a hundred years, it was thought that working on the Farm helped them improve and they learned things. There used to be arable farming, plus the dairy herd for milk, pigs and hens.  All this was used for food at the hospital.  Then in the late sixties it was decided that maybe it was not right to let them work with no compensation; which I guess I can see, but that led them right in to not working at all; and personally I think they were better off working because all, most of them do now, is smoke cigarettes and drink coffee.  That alone would drive me to a state of dementia.  There are several green houses and each year in spring they do have a plant sale, and some work there.  I do love to visit the green houses, unfortunately the guy who used to head it up retired and now there is not the diversity of plants to buy that there used to be.

So the farm or a least part of it was and still is leased out to a farmer, but a lot of the land was just left.  So in the nineties it was decided to turn it into a park area.  A good idea that actually came to fruition, and I can truly say it is used and very much enjoyed, by both humans and wild life.

I got a listing of all the sitings of birds, so I got my bird book out to identify them and will work on trying to spot them over the year.  I thought I might even gather my photos over the seasons and put them in a Blurb book.

So the snow photos are of the actual hospital area, with a lot of the old beautiful buildings no longer in use.  I also think there was a whole underground tunnel system which connects them, I learned that from my son, somehow I think old abandoned tunnels appeal to him.

So of course all that land belonged to the State of Pennsylvania and was just never built on, as all around was gradually bought and over the years houses were built. Just about two years ago someone wanted to take a big chunk and make it into a golf course, but that kicked up a huge stink.  In fact there was a golf course right across the road, but that land was just sold, and they are now building a brand new spanking hospital.

So that's the reason for my post title.


Carmine's New York City


Well Thursday was the big day a trip to Manhattan for a sales kick-off meeting.  I was up at 4:30 am to meet at 6:00 am for the drive up to New York.  We made good time even getting through the Holland Tunnel with not too long a wait.  We were in the New Yorker Hotel by 8:15 am, with enough time for coffee and a croissant before the meeting began at 8:30 am.

It was good to see different ones who I communicate with on the phone but hardly ever meet with from New York, Florida and Connecticut.  Met some new folks and was introduced to our new creative verbiage, "Smarter Solutions, Better Results."  Time really flew by, with round table sessions at the end.  By now it's 1;30 pm and we have a reservation at Carmine's for 2:00 pm.

Our little group from PA took a cab, so we were just about the first ones there.  I have never been to Carmine's before, so was quite excited to go.  We had a great time, a lot of talking, laughter and good food, served family Italian style, as you can see from the tables.  Bottles of Carmine's labelled wine, beer and all those lovely Italian courses.  I know I'm a Brit, but if they left me on a desert Island and said choose one ethnic food to eat, it would be Italian.  How can you not love focaccia bread, salad, olive oil, cheese, fried calamari, ziti in cheese sauce, cheese ravioli in marinara sauce, chicken parmigiana, veal Marsala, and ended with tiramisu, gelati bombs, Italian bread pudding and cannolis, with cappuccino. Yum! Yum! Yum!  

I seem to have no photos of the pasta and entree courses, because I must have been too busy eating them.

So yes I had a great day in Manhattan, even if we were delayed for one hour on the turnpike home, because of an accident.


P.S.  I love the photo of the waiter handing the bread over and the hands reaching out for it.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Morning Snow

If you live in the States and it's a Snow day, you will receive a phone call at 5:00 am when you are sound asleep and for an instance I always think, oh! that must be BB my sister phoning from England because, sometimes she forgets what the time is here.  And then I remember no, it must be the school phoning to say that they have no school or have a two hour delayed start.  High School starts here at the un-earthly hour of 7:25 am; which means that Rob must leave the house at 6:50 am.

So before he left for school he had to shovel all our sidewalks, that's the law, it must be cleared.   His dad gave him a break and drove him to school.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Guide To England Through A Cat's Eyes, by Pat Albeck

A Thrift find which I couldn't resist.  The collage is of the area where my family lives in England. mostly Suffolk.  I love Pat Albeck's idea of showing England through a cat's eyes.

Norfolk and Suffolk, where the North folk live and where the South folk live.  I love the area, the little thatch and timbered cottages, or the flint cottages with a tile or slate roof.  The pebbly North Sea swept beaches.  Fish and chips and little village newsagent shops, which smell of print and sell your favourite sweets.  Lemon drops, humbugs and bon bons.


Monday, January 17, 2011

What's Up?

Today is a holiday over here in the States, Martin Luther King Day.  Not all people have off, but a lot.  Our office is closed, but since I only work part-time I will have to make it up by working another day this week that I would usually be off.  My friend in the UK said that part-time workers get paid for days off, most places in the USA do not.

So today was the day to rack the wine; which we made last August. After the wine sits all the sediment drops to the bottom of the demijohn, so you siphon off the wine into a clean demijohn, leaving the dregs to throw away.  By this method you make the wine clear. Two lots of grape wines from the garden vines, a Concord and a Catawba, plus I had a go at tomato wine; honest to goodness I think it's as strong as vodka, I'll probably just use the tomato wine for cooking, it has a lovely golden colour.

The Concord grape wine I made very dry as not too much sugar was added.  There were two batches of Catawba wine and the last one I made sweeter, but I would classify all these wines as dry wines.  It took a couple of hours to do all this, because all the bottles must be washed and sterilized as you go along.  Well that's a good job done today.

Yesterday I actually sewed on four buttons, three belonging to coats and of the coats two had needed buttons since last year.  Why does one procrastinate on buttons.  One of the reasons is, I put the button in a safe place then when I want to sew it on I can't find it.  Yesterday everything came together.  Plus one skirt button sewn on.  And Rob's T-shirt needed hemming.

The one long blue wool coat I want to wear to New York on Thursday.  I'm meant to wear corporate dress, for a sales kick off meeting in Manhattan.  I will rake out my blue suit, seems appropriate.  Afterwards we're meant to eat at Carmine's, I've never been there before so I'm looking forward to that.  Hope to take my camera and take some photos, if possible.

Also made a pot of chicken and vegetable soup today from a left over chicken carcass.

I've been watching Jane Eyre over the weekend, a version I had never seen before from 1983 with Timothy Dalton who is famous and an unknown Zelah Clarke.  I can't say I especially liked her performance, his was OK but I've seen better.  I do like the 1997 version with Ciaran Hinds and Samantha Morton.  There are at least six other versions I found, besides these and I thought it would be fun to stream them or order them from Netflix

There are so many wonderful books why, as much as I love Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, can they not do some of the just as wonderful stories but not quite so well known.  I would even take a remake of North and South, my very favourite.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Setting Sun Over Snow

Have folk in the Northern Hemisphere seen enough of the "S" Stuff, Snow?  Sharing our Sunset over Snow photos.


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Victorian Farm

Edwardian Farm

Wednesday Walk

We've been forcing ourselves away from the fireside to take advantage of the winter wonderland.  It's not always easy to drag oneself from the coziness of the fire and put on all those winter togs to venture forth, but once you are out, it is well worth the effort, I guess that's with anything in life.

So here is our Wednesday walk in the park.

Today we saw White Geese as well as the usual Canadian Geese.  They can make quite a raucous, especially we've noticed when a group are about to take off, they just gaggle away, like they're saying to each other are you ready, rev your engines up and let's go.  We spoke to the park range and he mentioned that they could be on their migratory path, as we haven't seen them there all winter.  Although one might think this is a little early, but maybe not if you're travelling all the way up north.  We tend to forget that Pennsylvania is on the same latitude as the most northerly part of Africa.

When the Canadian Geese land they look like a Draconian Star Ship, or should I say the other way around since the Canadian Geese came first.  But truly they do, as they glide in with their wings and necks down, in a group, just a lovely sight to see.  In one of the photos I am gazing up at them.

The second picture shows them eating.  The building at the bottom of the valley is an old Spring House from the seventeen hundreds, that was part of the original farm buildings.  Water would run through and keep their food cool in the hot summers we have; which can hover in the 90 f for weeks and even go over a hundred.

From the open fields we walked down into the woods and to the creek; where we saw a deer.  Later on talking to the park ranger he said he was a runt, rejected by the herd.  I guess that's why he never ran away from us.  He had found some greenery on some shrubs to eat and he was not going to leave.

The benches around the park are donated by different ones mostly in memory of dead loved ones, so they all have a plaque, you may recognize the seat with the wreath on, as it's one of our favourite benches to sit on at the park, overlooking the creek.  It looks a little different under snow.  Someone must have hung the wreath there in memory.

I have always loved teasels, there is something so Wind in the Willowish about them.  They remind me of hedgehogs, or maybe it's because you can take a teasel and make it look like a little hedgehog, from a Beatrix Potter tale.

Just for Jean, yes here is the snow plow, plowing the park roads.

And cross country skiers in the distance.

While at the park office I picked up a paper on all the birds seen at the park, so I thought that I would look their pictures up in my bird book.  It's lovely to have this little park, 700 acres, surrounded by suburbia.

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