Friday, August 31, 2007

Creating a memory jar

I had to run over to IKEA this morning to pick up some mirrors for an idea I have for our bedroom at the cottage. While I was there, I saw this glass jar on sale and bought it also. I came back home and had fun putting together a 'memory jar'. I have placed sentimental items in the jar. Under the jar is a doily crocheted by my grandmother. This is much nicer than simply having the special items tucked away in a jewerly box where they are rarely looked at. Now I can see them each day.

I wanted to share this with you since I really enjoyed making this. Perhaps it would be a fun thing to put together this weekend for yourself? You use items you have that are special to you so you already possess what you need with maybe the exception of a pretty jar.

Next week, I will share more of the changes I have made in my bedroom. I gave it a makeover by borrowing items from other rooms in our home.

The contents of mine are:

  • Two pearl necklaces given to me by my parents.
  • My grandmother's silver wedding band.
  • A cameo given to me by my mother.
  • An amythest ring given to me by my mother which is my birthstone.
  • A watch with amythest to symbolize passing time also a gift from my mother.
  • An angel pin as my mother says we are my father's angels (we used to have really pretty ones but my mother and I placed them in my sister's coffin when she passed away) .
  • A little lace doily which my sister bought for me in our favorite restaurant's gift shop when she went there once without me.
  • A silver cross that my father had made specially for me while he was in Thailand.
  • Three items to remind me of the three most important women in my life ~ an old framed photo of my mother as a girl, a framed photo of my grandmother as a young lady and a bracelet which was my Aunt Janey's when she was young.

If you make a 'memory jar', please share it with us. I know I would love to see it!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

My autumn sphere in house

Last year, I used an idea from a Lynette Jensen book called "Autumn Accents" to create an autumn tree. Those who read my needlework blog may remember it as my first post when I started blogging. This is fun to make. I have a 3~foot Christmas tree and you simply add all kinds of flowers, berries, nuts, fruits and anything that says fall. I placed some fall leaves at the base along with a few of the apples.

I am sorry the photos don't do the tree justice. With the flash, it makes the trees look odd and I did take one without the flash which hopefully is not too dark. This gives a nice impression of the warm glow it gives in our living room.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Of berries and blossoms.....

We were up bright and early this past Saturday morning. We always first go do our weekly grocery shopping. We wanted to be sure to drive over to the berry farm early enough as last week we missed out on picking raspberries. They were all picked over by the time we got there in the early afternoon. There are always blackberries as they are obviously less popular. We picked a small container of the blackberries and a larger one of the raspberries.

After we had finished picking berries, we decided to drive past a farm that came up for sale which we wanted to check out. We thought we should drop by the garden center to see if they got in the supply of clematis that they had told us would arrive in August. I still needed to plant up the other side of our new rose arbour. I had to decide which clematis to get as they did have a nice selection. I decided on this one which is Clematis 'Piilu'. I really like the centers of this one which you can see well if you enlarge the photo.

We spent the afternoon pruning more of our holly which seems to be taking over parts of the garden. These large bushes were not cut back much before we bought the cottage and as a result there is a lot of dead wood on the inside. We regularly prune to encourage new and bushy growth and it is going very well. After an afternoon of working in the garden, a meal of tuna steaks with fresh green beans, carrots and onion was welcome refreshment.

And then, of course, how do you finish that meal off after having picked those berries? Our favorite chocolate mousse with raspberries!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

More bathroom renovation tales...

Well, after looking around for a while and returning one mirror, we finally found the perfect mirror for our newly renovated bathroom at the cottage. I started out thinking I wanted an antiqued silver mirror to accent the chrome. In the end, I decided that an 'old' white mirror would be better. I walked into a shop and saw this one marked down and knew immediately it was the one! I love the cut wood corners along the mirror itself.

Now I want to find something to hang over the space above the toilet. If you remember from seeing the room back on July 17th (see my archives), this is a very tiny shower room and there is little space for any decorating. I will now be searching for the one thing I can use there.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Hydrangea blooms mean autumn approaches

While we were in Brugge, I was really struck with how pretty this planting combination was in one of the museum gardens. The old brick wall had a beech hedge planted along it with a row of pink hydrangeas in the front. It really so impressive and the aging blooms of the hydrangea was taking on the color of the old bricks. The hydrangeas have done really well this year in Holland because of our wet summer weather. They have been riotous with flower. But we still had not had our own Pee Gee Hydrangea start to flower as of that time. Each weekend as we drove to the cottage, we expected to see them in full flower since most things seem to bloom earlier this year. All through the last weeks of July we anticipated these blooms to come early but nothing. This type of hydrangea blooms in August and September. It symbolizes to us that autumn is starting. As our blooms start to age, they become a pretty shade of pink that harolds in the start of fall.....

We arrived this past Friday evening to see that ours had finally exploded into flower while we were gone the past two weekends. The pretty bushes were arched heavily with the weight of the blossoms they must hold. This year, they are doing so well that it is difficult to walk the pathway around the side of the cottage to the back garden. Now I am looking forward to watching these creamy white blossoms go pink. If you enlarge the photos, you may even see the hints of color there.

Blue Hydrangea
Just like the last green in a colour pot
So are these leaves, withered and wrecked
Behind the flower umbels, which reflect
A hue of blue only, more they do not.

Reflections are tear-stained, inaccurate,
As if they were about to cease,
And like old blue notepaper sheets
They wear some yellow, grey and violet,

Washed-out like on a children's apron,
Outworn and now no more in use:
We contemplate a small life's short duration.

But suddenly some new blue seemingly is seen
In just one umbel, and we muse
Over a moving blue delighting in the green.

Rainer Maria Rilke, July 1906, Paris
Translation © by Guntram Deichsel

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The passing days of summer...

I have always enjoyed looking at fine details of things in life. This is where the spice of living comes from. This is what real pleasure is. So this week, I realized it is already approaching the end of August. The summer is preparing to pass on to the next season.

Many of you who know me, know that autumn is my favorite of the seasons. I started this blog hoping it would heighten my appreciation even further of fine details of life around me. I also wanted to make this a goal of learning to accept the seasons I don't like better. I don't know if it has been simply this blog or also the cool summer we have had or perhaps a bit of both but I have enjoyed my summer. I have taken it for what it is and appreciated the sights and smells of the season more than I normally do.

I will be sad to bid farewell to my summer garden as I joyously welcome my fall garden for its rich colors and smells which so touch my heart. This year, I will miss the pinks and blues, reds and yellows of my city garden and my cottage garden. I will again look forward to the next late spring and early summer when my favorite, the wisteria parades its fine color and scent for all to admire lining the edge of my tiny garden.

How has your summer been as you reflect on it over these last few weeks of August?

Fairest of the months!
Ripe summer's queen
The hey-day of the year
With robes that gleam with sunny sheen
Sweet August doth appear.
~~ R. Combe Miller ~~

Photo taken in the front of a house in Brugge. I was taken by the simple beauty of this home with its flower boxes and bicycle just outside the front door.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Some favorite places in Brugge!

When I go to Brugge, I have my favorite shops that I always go to. 'De Binnentuin' is on the top of my list.

This shop is amazing from the moment you approach the store and see all the beautiful windows. The two owners of this shop have impeccable taste in picking out things to sell in their shop. It has something for everyone's budget. You never know where to look first when you walk in as there are so many wonderful things to see.

The shop is set up with an atmosphere of various living rooms. They change all the displays regularly which makes going back a real treat. All the flower arrangments are made by the owners themselves.

Afterwards, what could be better than relaxing with a great drink? I can highly recommend 'De Proeverie' ( is located in the Katelijnstraat. It is a tearoom owned by Chocolaterie Sukerbuyc ( which is located just across the street from the tearoom. We love their warm chocolate milk. You are served a cup of hot and frothy milk into which you pour the most delicous pure melted chocolate. They add real whipping cream on a small dish which is so good it is hard to not take a few spoonfuls before adding it to your chocolate milk. This is topped with a chance to try a few pieces of chocolate and a bonbon. I am a chocoholic and to me this is pure heaven!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Images of Brugge ~ wrought iron

We have returned from our long weekend in Brugge and I wanted to share some images of the city with you this week. To me, this is the most beautiful city in Europe! I feel connected to this ancient city and love its history which pours from every street. I hope you will enjoy some of my images of the city.

Images of the Lace Days are found on my other blog.

This first set of photos shows the beauty of wrought iron that is apparent all over. From lampposts to city wells to garden gates. Enjoy the images along with the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.....

The Village Blacksmith

Under a spreading chestnut tree
The village smithy stands;
The Smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands.
His hair is crisp, and black, and long,
His face is like the tan;
His brow is wet with honest sweat,
He earns whate'er he can
And looks the whole world in the face
For he owes not any man.
Week in, week out, from morn till night,
You can hear his bellows blow;
You can hear him swing his heavy sledge,
With measured beat and slow,
Like a sexton ringing the village bell,
When the evening sun is low.
And children coming home from school
Look in at the open door;
They love to see the flaming furge,
And hear the bellows roar,
And catch the burning sparks that fly
Like chaff from a threshing floor.
He goes on Sunday to the church
and sits among his boys;
He hears the parson pray and preach.
He hears his daughter's voice
singing in the village choir,
And it makes his heart rejoice.
It sounds to him like her mother's voice,
Singing in Paradise!
He needs must think of her once more,
How in the grave she lies;
And with his hard, rough hand he wipes
A tear out of his eyes.
Toiling, rejoicing,-sorrowing,
Onward through life he goes;
Each morning sees some task begin,
Each evening sees it close;
Something attempted, something done,
Has earned a night's repose.
Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend
For the lesson thou hast taught!
Thus at the flaming forge of life
Our fortunes must be wrought;
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
Each burning deed and thought!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Nice really does matter!

Lynda, from Hedgerow Hollow, awarded me with the Nice Matters award. The award is for those that are nice people, good blog friends and inspire good feelings and inspiration. You honor me with this award Lynda as I have been blessed in being able to call you friend!

I must now pass this award on to 7 people and I find this very hard to do. I am inspired by many people online. Normally, I would pass this very award to Lynda but will now share others who are a source of inspiration to me.....

Janice ~ Janice is someone I met through my own blog. Since then, I visit her blog regularly and we are discovering we have much in common.

Joanne ~ Joanne is a kindred spirit! She and I have so much in common that I have joked with about us being twins seperated at birth. She sees life in a sweet and gentle way and shares so much of herself with others.

Lizzie ~ Lizzie is another online friend from a Yahoo list that has recently started blogging. She is in a new phase of life with being mother to two adorable twins and with another set of twins on the way. She has an 'old soul' which reminesces of times gone by and this is echoed in her beautiful home!

Kim ~ Kim is a new 'friend' I have met when looking through Lynda's links. Kim has a charming home, beautiful gardens and is a great mom. I enjoy reading about her and her life. She works on going just that little bit extra to make everything very special around her.

Kim ~ Kim has a gift for putting her house together to make it a real home. She has an eye for detail and sees possibilities in items from thrift shops which will inspire everyone. She has a dream house which invites you in.....

Nan ~ Nan is someone that used to be on one of my Yahoo lists and I am fortunate that we still have contact with each other through our blogs. I always remember Nan by her amazing 30s look kitchen she shared a long time ago. She has an incredible garden and shares her love of a good book in her blog.

Sophie ~ Sophie has an amazing sense of style. Her home is beautiful and gives inspiration for using vintage items to create a style that says you. I have only recently found this blog and will be reading it regularly.

I hope you will enjoy these links which all share the joys of life, family, home and gardening. Perhaps you will be inspired too.....

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Diaries and real summer romance

To me a good diary is just as good as a well written novel. Real life, even the ins and outs of a normal day to day life, can be very interesting. Seeing how people lived in other ages can give insights to our own lives and change our prospective.

Years ago, we went to the Lake District and visited Dove Cottage and Rydal Mount which were the homes of William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy. I had purchased this book in a bookshop in Grasmere. I decided to pick it back up again and finish reading it this summer. Dorothy records the daily activities of herself and her brother, the poet William Wordsworth. It talks about their frequent walks in the countryside, their friends and acquaintances, their home which at the time of this journal was Dove Cottage and their garden. It gives account of the marriage of William to Mary Hutchinson in 1802. Here is the romantic poem in which he portrayed her:

"She was a Phantom of delight
When first she gleam'd upon my sight;
A lovely Apparition, sent
To be a moment's ornament;
Her eyes as stars of Twilight fair;
Like Twilight's, too, her dusky hair;
But all things else about her drawn
From May~time and the chearful Dawn;
A dancing Shape, an Image gay,
To haunt, to startle, and way~lay.

I saw her upon nearer view,
A Spirit, yet a Woman too!
Her household motions light and free,
And steps of virgin liberty;
A countenance i which did meet
Sweet records, promises as sweet;
A Creature not too bright or good
For human nature's daily food;
For transient sorrows, simple wiles,
Praise, blame, love, kisses, tears, and smiles.....

And now I see with eye serene
The very pulse of the machine;
A Being breathing thoughful breath;
A Traveller betwixt life and death;
The reason firm, the temperate will,
Endurance, forsight, strenght and skill;
A perfect Woman; nobly plann'd,
To warn, to comfort, and command;
And yet a Spirit still, and bright
With something of an angel light....."

Monday, August 06, 2007

My stuffed zucchini recipe

Many have asked me to share the stuffed zucchini recipe which I showed in my previous entry. I hope you will enjoy this:

Stuffed Zucchini (for two people)

2 medium zucchini
1 onion or 2 spring onions
1 500ml package of fromage blanc (0% fat)
1 package sliced ham
1 handful of rice
grated cheese
rosemary, basil and thyme
salt and pepper

Cook the handful of rice. While this is cooking, cut off the ends of the zucchini and remover the seeds. Be careful not to hollow out the zucchini too much. This is a light meal and you want the 'meat' of the zucchini still to eat. Place the zucchini halves in a lightly oiled baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and a little grated cheese.

Slice the spring onions and saute them until they are softened and glassy looking. Add the chopped ham to the pan for the last two minutes. In a bowl, combine the fromage blanc and herbs. Salt and pepper to taste and add a little grated cheese. Stir in the cooked rice and ham/onion mixture.

Spoon the mixture into the zucchini and sprinkle with more grated cheese. Bake these for about 30 minutes in a 375F oven. The cooking time will very much depend on the zucchini so be sure they have cooked and softened. If not, simply allow more time.

***I searched online for what could be purchased in other countries for what we call 'kwark' here in Holland. 'Fromage blanc' was suggested on a couple of sites and should be found in the cheese departments of supermarkets. ***

I sincerely hope you enjoy this delicous healthy recipe. It is one of our favorites.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

A nice quiet weekend!

We have had a very quiet weekend here. We decided to stay at home instead of going to the cottage as it is school vacation now here. Up north, it is far too busy with all the families on their summer holiday which results in total quiet here in the city. We are enjoying sitting out in our garden in total peace. I was even able to read a book outside this afternoon. I never get the chance to do that. It is reminding us of our first couple of years in this house. This used to be the norm here on the weekends and we really liked living here. It would be so nice to get that time back again.

We had dinner outside last night and I was thinking of my friend Joanne, who shares my love of zucchini. I eat it every week. One of our favorite things is to have stuffed zucchini which you see here. I used fresh herbs from my garden. I grow them in terracotta pots. They are doing exceptionally well this year even with our cooler weather and rain we have had so much of. We had a bottle of Clairette with our dinner which is a favorite of ours.