Monday, May 26, 2008

Bird song.....

I value my garden more for being full of blackbirds than of cherries, and very frankly give them fruit for their songs.

~~ Joseph Addison, The Spectator, 1712 ~~

At this time of year, I can sit for hours listening to bird song or watching mother birds feed their young. It is so fun to watch them perch on our pergola waiting all a flutter for mother bird to pass them a tasty seed from the feeders. What better way to relax and enjoy the warmth of a spring day?

I still use some of my eggs for decorating although many have been stored away after the Easter/spring decorations have gone. A tray with a few choice items including a yellow bowl filled with eggs brings us in mind of the happy time of mothering for birds in the month of May.

A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.

~~ Chinese Proverb ~~

Friday, May 23, 2008

The joy of books.....

It has been time to change items used for vignettes around my living room this week. For me, using books in my decorating is so important. Both my husband and I feel a living room without books is not complete. We love even the look these books bring to our home.

I have removed the cloche on this end table to replace it with two of my vintage books who's themes are about the English countryside. This table represents so much of what I love ~ books, lace, antique eyeglasses and pretty glassware.

One of the weekends my mother was visiting, we drove to the villages of Odoorn and Exloo at the advice of a fellow blogger, Janneke. She gave me a list of some wonderful shops. I found these pretty black urns in a shop called Helen's Choice in Exloo and they were a real bargain at 50% off too. I saved the fun of doing a flower arrangement in them until all my company was gone. It was nice to have it to look forward to doing.

And what says summer better than some cabbage roses?

The other sidetable has also been changed. I placed my book rack between the lamps with my collection of blue bound vintage books.

My miniature portrait of Jane Austen rests near the book rack along with a Victorian dinner bell. Brass items are another thing I love. They add to the English library look.

Two of my latest finds. The first is 'Jan of the Windmill' by Juliana Horatia Gatty Ewing. It is one I wanted to add to my collection simply because of the title with being married to a Dutchman. The second book, 'The Fortunes of Phillipa' by Angela Brazil, I found after reading about this author on Elizabeth's blog. It was a favorite author of hers and I was intrigued and looked into these books. This is the first volume of her school stories.

Finally, a special gift given to me by my friend Angela who visited us. She gave me this beautiful vintage edition of 'Heidi Grows Up'. I teased her that I did not want to grow up. The illustrations are so sweet throughout the book. Thank you so much Angela as I will cherish this volume!

I wish you all a wonderful weekend full of the things you love in life!

Happy birthday to my baby brother today! No birthday songs for him, instead an 'oldie' that he likes so turn on your speakers for a laugh if they are not on and help me wish Eric a happy birthday.....

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Food, glorious food

There is nothing like the gardening season to get your taste buds going! I plant up pots with herbs and lettuce each year.

We planted this oak leaf lettuce up just over a month ago. It is already yielding a number of salads for us. Recently, I was reading on TheHomelyYear about doing up two containers of lettuce and decided to do more this year.

So Saturday, we headed out to find our herbs including sage, rosemary and parsley. This pot is not standing by the front door where I can easily pick the herbs I want to use for dinner. Not only is it practical but we think the herbs are pretty to see also.

In addition, I have planted a pot with red oak leaf lettuce and spring onions.

I have a real weakness for very decorative terracotta. They are expensive so I only have two. One I have shown you with the herbs planted in it and this one. Isn't the grape vine on it so pretty?

I am also trying my hand at growing 'Tiny Tom' tomatoes this year in a pot. There are many blossoms already on the plants so I have my fingers crossed for some yummy, ripe little tomatoes for salads.

Jos stopped in at an asparagus farm near his office yesterday before coming home. Today I peeled the asparagus and we had a very Dutch style meal for dinner. Asparagus in Holland is referred to as 'white gold' and extremely delicious.

I make it in the traditional way. We eat it simply drizzled with a little melted butter and sprinkled with nutmeg and black pepper. That is accompanied with boiled potatoes, a couple of thin slices of ham and a hard boiled egg. Served with a glass of chilled white wine, it makes such a nice meal. I also made tiramisu for dessert.

I hope you are enjoying some of what nature has to offer for your meals now that the growing season has begun.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Can you spot the difference?

Enlarge the photos to see them well but can you spot the difference between this first photo...

.....and this one?

The first photo is the little white rack I bought today. The second is after I antiqued it a little bit with some of my trusty furniture wax. It is not easy to see on the photos but turned out really nice. I may add a second rubbing tomorrow after the wax is dry.

Friday, Jos came home a bit earlier so we could get a start to Cranberry Cottage. He came in and took one look at me and said I looked too tired still so lets stay home. I agreed with him but by 9pm I was feeling rather depressed that we did not go. We even thought about jumping in the car to get us there by midnight. That would have been silly of us. This morning, we decided to take advantage of having a Saturday here in the city to go out and buy my herb and vegetables that I want to plant up in my terracotta pots. We found all we wanted and then I found the little rack which I thought would look nice in the guest room. I might sew some little fabric hearts for it as soon as I get a chance.

Look what is peeking out from behind a number of our plants in the garden! This azalea was almost dead when we bought the house but we left it in the garden thinking it might strive again one day. That was 12 years ago and I must admit it has been placed in a corner and forgotten about. It has decided to really start to shine in its secret hiding spot.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Resting among the wisteria..... about all I will be doing for a few days. My online friends have all departed for home after a packed week being together. We all take away memories of actually meeting for the first time after knowing each other for three years. Now I need to rest and regain my strength and what better place to do it than among the fragrance of our wisteria. Come along with me.....

As you approach our garden at this time of year, it is in its full glory. Opening the gate brings you into our wisteria filled garden. I only wish it lasted longer...

We have them not only draped around the front door, but also along the pergola lining our garden. It gives the illusion of a secret garden as you are unable to see into the garden from the street due to the beech hedge and wisteria. Once inside, you can sit among the blossoms with their sweet smell. I will put some of my garden decorations out soon in this corner. I have not been able to get to that yet.

The old fashioned lanterns hang almost hidden now that the garden is growing. These give us a warm lighting summer or winter. I liked the idea of using candles in hanging lanterns instead of any electrical lighting.

According to the Victorian Language of Flowers, the wisteria means "cordial welcome" and that is exactly how my garden feels to me right now. I am hoping that we will not get a hard rain or wind to quickly as they will chase my blossoms away...

Monday, May 05, 2008

What happened to spring?

We are back from a longer stay at Cranberry Cottage. There were two Dutch holidays last week giving Jos some days off. We left for the cottage on Tuesday evening and stayed through Sunday morning. Our rhododendron greeted us when we arrived and is in full bloom now. This bush was becoming unsightly and overgrown. I have been reading online about caring for them and when to prune as well as how. We noticed a marked improvement on it this season.

It has been a total surprise to see what Mother Nature has had in store. We had a glorious but chilly weekend the week before last. There was a good strong wind which made it feel cold. Then it went back to rain. We then were surprised with summer weather. Our forecast is to become warmer each day this week which could not have come at a better time. My online friends will be arriving tomorrow morning. I will attempt to post about our sightseeing as this week progresses.

The weekend before last, we took my mother for a drive in the Betuwe which is an area between two rivers in Holland. It is known for its fruit orchards and we had hoped to see many in bloom but were a little too early. To get to this area, we used one of the car ferry crossings and enjoyed seeing the dandelion covered fields while waiting for ferry to come across to our side of the river.

We drove to a village called Amerongen on the way home for lunch. This is a really pretty place which was very busy that day due to the sunny weather. I was sure to take photos without people in them so you would never know how busy it was from my photos.

The Andries Church in the middle of the village has the Wilhelmina Tree planted in the church yard.

This tree was planted here in 1898 when Wilhelmina became the queen.

There is an iron fence protecting the tree base with pretty iron plates of the image of the princess who ascended to the throne.

We walked the path around Castle Amerongen. This is a beautiful castle that I visited years ago after just moving to Holland. It has been closed for some years due to major restoration work being completed. You will notice on some of the photos that portions of the castle are still in scaffolding.

There is a blog about the restoration which is in Dutch. I thought I would share the link with you as even the photos would be interesting.

Thank you all for the many comments on my last post. I really do love reading all your comments. I have had many new people visit my blog lately and will go back and visit many of your own blogs when I am able to. It is always wonderful to meet new friends.