Thursday, June 28, 2007

Lily ~ the symbol of purity

After sharing a photo of my day lily from our garden yesterday, I was inspired to look up the lily in my book "The Language of Flowers". It states that lily means 'purity'. it is one of the oldest flowers in the world. It was the personal flower of Hera, the moon goddess. It is also dedicated to the Virgin Mary in honor of her purity and is used in many religious festivals. Legend says the first lily sprang up from Eve's tears as she left the Garden of Eden. It is also a favorite flower for many brides to include in their bouquets since it is a symbol for purity.

The painting is by John Singer Sargent called "Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose". He is said to have worked on this painting from August to November of 1885 in the garden of Farnham House in the village of Broadway (The Cotswolds). He painted only a few minutes each day so the lighting was exactly right. Isnt' it just beautiful and the perfect depection of a summer's night?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Summer quote and garden photos

Here are a few of our blooms in the garden. Daylilies are so pretty and this one we have both here in the city garden and at our weekend cottage. It is called "Gentle Shephard". Then a photo of what is one of my favorite flowers in the garden ~ Scabiosa or the common name "pincushion flower". Perhaps because I am a quilter/stitcher, I just love the name of this flower and, if you look closely, you really can see the pins sticking into the pincushion. Perhaps these pins are used by the fairies to sew their pretty little dresses?

"What is one to say about June, the time of perfect young summer, the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade."
~~ Gertrude Jekyll ~~

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Preparing a Christmas tea party

"Christmas is come, hang on the pot,
Let spits turn round, and ovens be hot;
Beef, pork, and poultry, now provide
To feast thy neighbors at this tide;
Then wash all down with good wine and beer,
And so with mirth conclude the Year."

Virginia Almanac (Royle) 1765

Each month on the 25th as we move now through the second half of the year, I will place a recipe on this blog to collect for the coming holidays. When you are finished, you will have a complete menu for a Christmas tea. Perhaps, this is the year you can invite friends around to celebrate an afternoon of holiday cheer accompanied with a pot of your favorite tea and a table full of wonderful treats.

This month's recipe is one of the easiest of all the Christmas cookies to make and yet they are very festive. They have a wonderful taste and I have had people who are not even big cookie fans tell me how delicious they find them. As you can see, I made some this morning for a photo. We will be able to enjoy them after our dinner tonight.

Russian Teacakes

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/4 teaspoon salt
powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 400F. Mix butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and vanilla. Stir in the flour, walnuts and salt until dough holds together. Roll into 1 inch balls. Place about an inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 12 mintues until set (do not brown). Roll the cookies in powdered sugar while still warm. Let cool and roll once more in powdered sugar. This recipe makes 4 dozen cookies.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Midsummer Day

The Song of the Daisy Fairy

Come with me and play with me,
I’m the babies’ flower;
Make a necklace gay with me,
Spend the whole long day with me,
Till the sunset hour.

I must say Good-night, you know,
Till tomorrow’s playtime;
Close my petals tight, you know,
Shut the red and white, you know,
Sleeping till the daytime.

Flower Fairies of the Spring
~~ Cicely Mary Barker ~~

Today is midsummer day and a day of not only the magic of fairies but also a day for me to celebrate. I love the autumn and winter season best and today marks the shortening of the days. May today brings you joys of summer's bounty.....

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Foxgloves and a little Emily

Our foxgloves at the cottage are giving a beautiful show of nature's fashions this year. They are shining in their spotted cloaks suductively attracting any bumblebee that comes by. As you can see, it works very well. Perhaps this is best described by the words of Emily as she exclaims her feelings of the intoxication of nature's beauty in the following poem:

I taste a liquor never brewed,
From tankards scooped in pearl;
Not all the vats upon the Rhine
Yield such an alcohol!

Inebriate of air am I,
And debauchee of dew,
Reeling, through endless summer days,
From inns of molten blue.

When landlords turn the drunken bee
Out of the foxglove's door,
When butterflies renounce their drams,
I shall but drink the more!

Till seraphs swing their snowy hats,
And saints to windows run,
To see the little tippler
Leaning against the sun!

~~ Emily Dickinson ~~

Monday, June 18, 2007

Acorns and mighty oaks!

I mentioned how many of the acorns have rooted this year. Look at this photo (click to enlarge) of the end of our driveway at the cottage. It has become a carpet of tiny oak trees. We had the acorns the other years but this is the first year so many have actually become budding mighty oaks. We are having to clear so many things right now on the edge of the woods. It seems everything is growing in over abundance and our path along the shed was no longer visible. My husband worked this weekend to clear it so we could find the stepping stones once again.

Our ordinary mind always tries to persuade us that we are nothing but acorns and that our greatest happiness will be to become bigger, fatter, shinier acorns; but that is of interest only to pigs. Our faith gives us knowledge of something better: that we can become oak trees.
~~ E.F. Schumacher ~~

Friday, June 15, 2007

Sauerkraut crocks in the garden

Since Nancy asked what a sauerkraut clay pot or crock was, I went out to take a photo of the second one I have. I only just planted this one up last weekend so you are able to see the pot really well. These crocks were found in farms in olden days and are (still) used to ferment cabbage to make sauerkraut. These two I have used to be used by my husband's grandmother on her farm. That farm still stands here in this neighborhood. Our new neighborhood used to be polderland where cows grazed.

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Of wine and roses.....

Another photo of our dinner outside last night which I took for my mother. She asked me if we were eating outside again. She also asked if I was setting the table again. Well mother, here it is! We ate a tossed salad and fresh pasta with spinach and ricotta filling. I simply used some grated cheese and fresh ground pepper on it as the pasta did not need any sauce.

Last year, I bought a miniature rose on sale for only 99 cents. It was such a pretty color and bloomed very well. Normally, these plants don't last past one season. I decided to try to keep it and planted it up in my vintage sauerkraut clay pot I use in the garden. I started growing very robustly this spring.

This rose is no longer a miniature rose. It came back and increased more than tenfold in size. It is now a normal sized rose and look at the pretty color. Last year, it was much more of a lighter salmon color than this year.

I took photos of the rose in all its stages of bloom. I hope I can keep it growing and blooming well from now on.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Of gardens and food.....

Isn't one of the great advantages of a summer's evening, eating a meal outdoors and enjoying the most simple of meals. Summer 'comfort foods' to me are very different than those of the fall and winter months. We eat a lot of salads in the summer but for this meal, I made up a vegetable, cheese and fruit plate. I set the table with a lace tablecloth I bought about 19 years ago in Spain while we were there for a business trip for my husband. Lace is just timeless!

A plate like this in front of you for the evening meal is a feest for the eyes as well as the stomach. I cut up some lettuce and placed it in the middle of the plate topped with a sliced radish, mushroom and green onion, some green olives and roasted pine nuts. I drizzled a little honey mustard dressing over that. Around the lettuce is sliced kiwi, a sliced dill pickle, Gouda cheese, tomato, cucumber, grapes and a few slices of Brie. We ate this with some warm French bread.

Desserts was also very simple. A cup of mokka coffee with a magdalena (Spanish cake).

My pinks are doing well again for the fourth year. I love old~fashioned flowers and bought these for a pot on the terrace. I decided even though they are sold as annuals, I would plant them up in the garden and see if they came back. They are doing wonderfully!

The sparrows come and join us when we are having dinner. Our pergola seperates our two terraces so they have to come right up where we are but this year have decided it is okay to come so close.

Monday, June 11, 2007

A fun and productive weekend

We had a busy weekend at our cottage. Originally, we had planned to finish the last of our ideas for the side garden. We got up and had breakfast out on the terrace. It was nice to sit outside and have breakfast with the birdsong. I brouwsed through a couple of magazines as we lingered over a cup of cafe au lait.

As we were getting ready to go to the garden center, I looked at the area we were planning to add a pergola. We had missed the last two weekends at the cottage since we were on vacation. It was very evident as I looked at the side garden that it needed nothing more added to it! It has grown so much more this year and looks fine as it now is. We will simply add a little spot to sit among the flowers and this part is finished.

Instead, we turned out attention to two other areas. There will be a fencing to replace the row of conifers along the back edge of the garden. This borders onto the drive of the next cottage and not only do we need to order the items needed to create this natural fencing we would like to build but we also want to let our neighbors know what we are doing. We told them last year that we planned to change it but want to let them know it will be happening now.

The area in the photo is the side of our garden which backs right out into the woods. I love this view and can sit on the terrace and stare out at the trees for hours. We find all the grass we have in the garden very boring. When we first bought the cottage it was all grass, even the driveway. We dug up all the grass on the side of the house to create that winding walk you see (photo two) with flower borders on both sides. We have also extended our terrace which was very tiny and planted little areas around the corners to soften it. Now we decided to plant up an area looking out into the woods.

I marked out the area and Jos started with the hard work of removing all the grass sod and then turning the ground. It was quite a job as we had very high humidity and tempertures on Saturday. We were not able to finish it all this weekend but here are the results so far:
There will be the same tree branches lining the border as we used in the other borders and we also have to lay out the bark on the soil. I need another plant as I have a hole left near the feeder and we will pick up something at the garden center this coming weekend. So far I am really pleased with how it has turned out. Here is a list of the plants we have used for this border:
  • Hydrangea paniculata 'Grandiflora' (PeeGee)
  • Monarda 'Cambridge Scarlet' (bergamot or bee balm)
  • Hosta 'Gold Standard'
  • Rodgersia aesculifolia (fingerleaf Rodgersia)
  • Astilbe 'Deutschland'
  • Heuchera micrantha 'Palace Purple' (Coral bells)
  • Summer heather 'Calluna'
  • Houttuynia cordata 'Chameleon'
  • Indigo blue 'Forget~me~nots'

I will share a photo of the finished border next week.

I let this wilt a bit before I got the photo taken but this is for my friend Diane. What better thing to remind us the beauties of fall will return than seeing this acorn sprouting into an oak? I thought of you Diane when Jos brought me this to see. He had to pull it as it came up in the front of a flower border. There are so many acorns that sprouted this year! We had tons of acorns fall from the oak trees right as you go into the woods and now that entrance has a carpet of tiny oak trees.

Friday, June 08, 2007

The new "old" headboard

Last Saturday, we drove to a salvage yard to have a look around for an old iron gate we could use to make into a headboard. We found some really amazing gates and fences but many were very large and so heavy my husband could not even budge them. We found this one back in a corner tucked away. When we asked how large it was, they measured it and it was almost perfect. I knew once we added two hardwood posts it would be the exact size. It was not actually for sale they then told us as it was a sample of how they use the vintage spindles to make a gate. He did however go ahead and say we could purchase it. We were really pleased as we knew it was perfect for this.

This gives you a view of the entire bed. We are not finished as need two finials to finish off the posts and then I have to decide if I want to leave them as they are with the wood or paint them black. I will first have the job of hunting for the finials but what do you think? Once I have the patchwork quilt on the bed, I will also decide if I am leaving that wall in the oatmeal color of painting the single wall an accent color.

Here is a sneak peek at the quilt. With 12 meters length of bias binding, it is taking time to sit and sew it on by hand. I hope to have it on my bed by the middle of next week. My afghan came in the mail yesterday so I want it finished now more than ever! My mother crocheted it for me to go with the quilt. It makes me long for a chilly fall afternoon so I can sit on the bed with a good book to rest. By the way Mom, did I mention the colors work perfectly??? I keep repeating that to her as I think she worried they were too bright. You should see it laying on the quilt. It is really wonderful. For now, I am enjoying it draped over my rocking chair in the living room as I sew the binding.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Pierrette's Jardin

Welcome to Pierrette's garden! This is a very magical place and there is nothing like being there but I hope my photos will give you an idea of what a beautiful piece of earth she has created with a lot of love and work.

This is a place that is filled with many magical things as well as the plants and flowers. If there is a place that fairies and angels live, it is here in this garden. Enjoy the photos along with some peoms and quotes which I hope you will enjoy!

I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck. ~Emma Goldman

When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other. ~Chinese Proverb

Pluck not the wayside flower;It is the traveler's dower. ~William Allingham

How can one help shivering with delight when one's hot fingers close around the stem of a live flower, cool from the shade and stiff with newborn vigor! ~Colette

Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers where I can walk undisturbed. ~ Walt Whitman

Flowers seem intended for the solace of ordinary humanity. ~John Ruskin

I will be the gladdest thing
Under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
And not pick one.
~Edna St. Vincent Millay

Earth laughs in flowers. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, June 04, 2007

Landing in a fairy tale.....

Welcome to Diebolsheim! This small village in the Alsace, France is located very near the German border. We regularly have gone to the Alsace over the years as one of our favorite vacation spots. We normally stay in a B&B along the wine route. But after buying a German magazine with an article about a B&B in this village, we decided to try this one out. We worried it was a bit out of the way from the villages we love to visit. From the moment we arrived, we were not disappointed and realized we had landed in a very special place! This photo is of the roundabout as you drive into the village. This little Alsacian boy and girl on a see~saw was only a glimpse of what was yet to come...

We drove into the rue de l'Abbé Wendling and there before us was the most charming typical Alsacian house. This is the house of Pierrette and Jean-Luc who welcome you to their home and gardens. This is the old family farm and Jean-Luc's parents still reside in a small house beside this one as you come into the gates. The former barn has been transformed into a warm and inviting retreat for vacationers. I felt the magic of this place the moment Pierrette opened her door and greeted us!

She has created a very special interior with a collection of antique and vintage items to which she added her own touch. There is an open kitchen with tables to sit at for breakfast as well as a welcoming sitting area with a wood stove. On this chair is the magazine where this all started for us, the German "Wohnen & Garten".

Everywhere you look, there is something wonderful to see!

We were welcomed with a delicious cup of espresso and Pierrette sat with us to chat for a while. She goes from French to German to English in a moment's time and makes all feel at home.

You will notice in many of the pictures that there are various watering cans. She collects them in all forms and uses them throughout the B&B. Even the key chain to your room is a watering can. Notice the adorable watering cans hanging from the lace curtains? All the photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

This is a view from the gardens up to our room which is located behind the French balcony upstairs. I will be sharing photos of the garden later as well as sharing another of Pierrette's collections with you.

When you stay at Ambiance Jardin (, you cannot help but make friends not only with the proprieters but also with their beautiful dogs. Shown is Nikki who would roll onto her back for a nice backrub when she saw us open the gates if we had been away. She has a sister roaming around the garden who's name is Nina.

Pierrette has four rooms in her B&B that are all decorated in their own special way. We had the Wild Flowers room or yellow room. It has a French balcony which looks out over the garden. You wake up looking through the climbing roses as morning greets you! Pierrette treats you to a wonderful breakfast with baguette and her homemade jams, cheese or sausage along with a speically homebaked treat each morning all enjoyed with a hot cup of cafe au lait. What better way to start the day?

Everything about this room says come stay a while and relax! Vintage items spread around the room are so fun to see.

I simply could not take enough photos to share with you so I will be splitting this up in three sections. Please come back later to see the photos of the gardens. I have stayed in a number of B&Bs over the years and many are so very charming but this one was magical. See my other blog to view Pierrette's other collection ~ vintage and new needlework.