Thursday, August 28, 2008

A birthday tribute of simple truths

A birthday is a special day to remember someone and this birthday seems more poignant than most. It is Tasha Tudor's birthday and the first since she passed away in June of this year. What a remarkable life she led! We should declare this day Tasha Tudor day and spend time reflecting on her inspirational lifestyle.

Take a little time today to pour yourself a cup of tea and perhaps enjoy a delicious homemade cookie. Think about slowing down and reflect on the life Tasha led. It was a life that was a mirror of the days of yesteryear. She enjoyed the simple pleasures of life in full. To me, I picture sitting by a fireside with my own quilting or stitching when I think of her. Not only her beautiful illustrations but also homespun crafts were a big part of her life.

There are a number of books written about this remarkable woman's life. Perhaps you could stop in at the library or bookshop to pick one up. I find reading about her very calming. You may find she has the same effect on you if you have not already read about her life.

Take time today to stop and relax. Reject the hustle and bustle of this modern world even just for an hour to enjoy moments of peace in your garden or home. Perhaps pick up your quilting, stitching, knitting, etc. and think about Tasha. Think about how she changed the thoughts and hearts of those who knew her work. I am sure it will effect your world at this moment.

If you have some of Tasha's children's books, perhaps sit today and read one of two of them. This will bring Tasha's spirit back to life today, her birthday. Just considering all the people who bind together thinking of her keeps her alive to us all.

This is my Tasha shawl that my mother knitted for me from Dutch sheep's wool. She created this with no pattern by simply looking in one of my books at the photo of Tasha wearing one similar. I just love it!

In an interview with Wm. John Hare she quotes Thoreau: "If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours." My dream is to find the peace and simple pleasures in life that her own life and work exuded.

Please be sure to leave a comment today so we can celebrate together...

Happy birthday Tasha Tudor!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Simple dishes full of flavor

I just finished dinner and thought I would dedicate my entry to an online friend. She is someone who I have known for a number of years now. While reading her blog, I found she created a dish that is the same as a Dutch farmer's dish that Jos and I really enjoy eating. Rhonda, I was thinking of you tonight as I stood in my kitchen!

This is my summer version of this dish...

Cut up potatoes and an onion and start frying in a pan while you pre-boil the fresh green beans. I added carrots to the dish this time since I have them already which are also cut up and boiled. The Dutch smoked sausage is placed in a pan of hot but not boiling water for 15 minutes and then cut into slices and halved. If your smoked sausage does not need to be prepared this way, you can cut up with sausage to add directly to the dish. Mix the vegetables and sausage to the potatoes when they have softened. The potatoes will need to cook for about 20 mintues. Add salt and pepper to taste before serving.

Once autumn arrives and Brussel sprouts are in season, I will change the green beans to sprouts. Enjoy!

I have received a couple of awards that I need to give away. Here is the first which is a new award from a new friend. Shari found my blog through another needlework blog and I am enjoying getting to know her now. Thank you Shari for passing this award on to me.

Here are the rules I received with the award:
1. The winner can put the logo on her blog.
2. Link the person you received your award from.
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4. Put links of those blogs on yours.
5. Leave a message on the blogs of those you’ve nominated

Now, in keeping with thinking of my online friend Rhonda, I have decided to pass this award on to a couple of ladies who are bloggers from the group where I met Rhonda. They are ladies who value hearth and home. I have enjoyed getting to glimpse even more into their lives through their blogs.

Rhonda from A Home with a Smile
Joanne from Joyful Blessings
Susan from My Peaceful Valley
Tammy from Play for a Moment
Melanie from Mel at Home

I know that is only 5 but I wanted to share this with these blogging buddies.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A water garden?

Ah, the challenges of having a home built right in the water...

We have no back garden. Our only 'garden' is a couple of window boxes hanging from the balcony of our French doors. I must admit with my desire to have autumn begin, I have been neglecting my flowers and they are in desperate need of dead heading. This photo is taken from our bedroom window early morning looking down so the Spanish daisies are still closed.

It is pleasant to look out and see a sea of flowers from the living room. This area is simple to clean as you can open the doors but it is not so simple to clean the windows of the dining area or the upstairs bedrooms. So how do we clean them? The answer is not often. It means Jos hanging out of the window to reach far enough. It is easier than our last home in this neighborhood. I used to clean those windows as it was before my illness was getting worse. It was a modern canal house ~ tall and narrow. I got a phone call one afternoon and found a friend on the other end of the line asking me to please go back inside. She could see my hanging on the window ledge cleaning the windows that do not open inwards on the 3rd floor (2nd floor for us in Holland). I could be seen all the way over at her house streets away. *grins*

I have wanted a fish aquarium for some time and when we moved here, Jos told me I finally got my fish. Yes, he meant the canal water behind our house. There are many fish there and he crumbles dry toast to feed them. We also have ducks and water hens. It is fun to hear them calling especially very early in the morning. I like waking to the sounds. As soon as we open a window, they come rushing to us.

It does also bring regular fights. There is more than enough to go around but try telling them that!

We have been forbidden by the city to plant anything along the water's edge or in the water. Our neighbor's did put a waterlily and some other plants regardless. It has taken years for this waterlily to start to produce any flowers but has been very pretty this year.

Our windows are going to be painted this week we hope. The painter has had to put it off as the weather is not good enough to start. He says he will start on Wednesday. My fingers are crossed. I will get a photo of the back wall in which our house was built after he has finished. This new house was modeled by the architect to be a modern version of our old walled houses in the city dating back to the Middle Ages.

I am sorry that I have not been able to make it around to visit all of you over the last few days. I will try to catch up with you soon. I have a received a couple of awards and need to acknowledge them also. I have been very busy with redoing our laundry room. We stayed home from Cranberry Cottage this weekend to finish it. I will share the results with you this week.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Blues, books, bears and bunnies...

It is not easy for me to softly transition from summer to autumn. I love to just rush in headfirst to my favorite time of year. I am however working on some new vingettes around my living room to annouce the arrival of early autumn. My mind went to the color blue. I decided to use my blue vintage books instead of the normal red or green ones. Then I thought it would be cute to add a small bear to my table. I stacked the books to sit him upon and placed a piece of vintage lace, which was a gift from a dear friend in England, as a scarf. To me a teddy bear says 'cozy'. It shows the cool evenings have come and time to cuddle up. I finally found an apothecary jar which I had wanted for some time and filled it with sugared lemon slices.

It is the time for hydrangeas as the bushes are full of pretty blossoms. These are not real as I don't have any blue ones in my garden. I hope to find a real bouquet of them to dry if they are affordable.

Then I looked around for something to add to the coffee table and thought my new book would look fun there as it colors well with the pail of flowers. It is entitled "Beatrix Potter ~ A journal" and I am so glad I ordered it.

I thought it would be a nice book but was in for a big surprise when it arrived. It is just amazing. It has Miss Potter's handwriting throughout and many pages have fun items you can open or even remove to look at and read. Here you can see an envelope. It contains the letter written to Noel with the story of Peter Rabbit. There are many photographs and drawings she created.

When you arrive at the end of the book... open the flap to discover a wonderful surprise!

A reproduction copy of the original black and white version of Peter Rabbit that Beatrix had printed herself.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Warm and cozy.....

Don't adjust your computer screens as these photos are taken at night without a flash to set the mood. An autumn mood to be exact. We are seeing signs of autumn in the woods. This past weekend, the temperatures were rather chilly towards evening so we made a pot of tea.....

Lit some candles.....

and made a fire all cozy and warm. It was our first fire at the cottage for the season and it was really nice to have it going again. There is nothing like hearing a fire crackle to create a special atmosphere.

Did you notice these trays sitting on the table in the first photo? I found them in a little shop on a day out with my friend Sonja. I decided I really loved them as a chocolate lover but there were oh so very white.

I antiqued them using furniture wax and am really happy with the results. I have two sweet pink floral mugs which my mother bought for our cottage and they are perfect on these trays with room for a treat. It makes it easy to take a cup of cafe au lait out to the garden to enjoy.

I went pumpkin and gourd mad this weekend also and have been making my front door look very autumn. I will share it with you very soon...

Are you having a good Monday?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Shadows of autumn...

There are shadows of autumn appearing in things around us. Each Saturday morning as I awake, I am greeted with this scene at the cottage. It looks as though a pastoral scene is going to greet me as I open our rolling blinds. Is there an elk in our garden this morning? It almost has a misty look of early morning in the countryside.

It is a shadow effect from a candle holder which stands in this window. It makes me stop and appreciate the beauty the sun coming into the window creates each morning. The sun turns my blind into a work of art. And is that a tree to the left?

No, it is the shadow of one of the Hydrangea paniculata (pluimhortensia) which stands just outside the window. You would swear it was a tree in this shadow.

We are seeing signs of autumn earlier this year. The pumpkins and gourds are for sale already at least two weeks ahead of the normal time. We arrived at Cranberry Cottage last Friday to find some beech tree leaves already laying like artwork sprinkled here and there in our garden. I even smelled autumn early this year. It is that lovely scent that rises from the woods along where the cottage lives. Cranberry Cottage is a place that to me does have a life very special to itself.

I long for the cooler days of autumn. Wrapping up in a quilt...wearing a warm sweater and scarf while we walk in the woods...searching for those magical toadstools...coming indoors afterwards to make a cup of real hot cacao to warm you inside. Ah! Autumn is the very best season!

"In August, the large masses of berries, which, when in flower, had attracted many wild bees,
gradually assumed their bright velvety crimson hue, and by their weight again bent down
and broke their tender limbs."

~~ Henry David Thoreau ~~

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Wildlife friends

Enlarge this photo and see if you can spot what this is? It is very dark outside so you will have to look closely to see it.

Yes, we have a nightly visitor...Mrs. Tiggy~Winkle, if you please'm. And I did not even loose my pocket~handkins. Do you know this delightful tale from Beatrix Potter?

She visited us at Cranberry Cottage the weekend before also but had a baby with her. We have now realized that she is coming into the garden each night and chewing away at the bark of the tree branches we use to line the planted areas of our garden. They are looking rather worse for the wear now but it is fun to see her come into the garden. I am not too sure she enjoyed us snapping the photos though.

On Saturday, we went to the campsite where my friend and her husband were staying. This is their third year to spend their summer vacation up north near our cottage. They asked if we would like to go out to eat for dinner and we said fine. While Sonja and I went for a quick run to a shop we love, the men stayed behind to talk.
She asked me if I would rather go have Dutch pancakes as we first talked about or perhaps go to a place where Jos and I had talked about going many times before. They have now eaten there a number of times and really like it. I said to let the men decide. They both picked the restaurant instead of pancakes. So off we went.

In the north of Holland, there are a number of storks who stay for the spring and summer to nest. One of the nests is on top of this restaurant. Can you see it? There were three birds in the nest as we left and one sitting on a lamppost just outside the restaurant. It is great to sit on the terrace eating dinner and hear them outside. Have you ever heard the clicking noise a stork makes when it communicates with another stork? I wonder if they are thinking why don't we share our dinner?

At one point, Sonja told me a feather fell to the ground as one stork returned to the nest and she went out to the field and got it for me. She returned with two feathers to add to my collection. I gather them as I find them in our garden at the cottage and place them in a little glass vase. Here they are sitting in my tray on our table.

At the end of a wonderful evening spent together with our friends, they were wispering among each other. They had planned all along to treat us to dinner that night. Had we known that, we would have choosen pancakes as this was too much. Thank you so very much Mike and Sonja. We enjoyed our evening for the wonderful meal but especially for the warm company you both are!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Saying goodbye to the roses soon...

Do you remember in a recent post that I talked about my nesting tendencies? Well, I have been cleaning and clearing away while changing things around on my tables and sidetables. I decided to post a farewell to my roses for the season. I am sincerely trying not to rush into autumn which is my very favorite time of year!

I have also moved the furniture around prompting a humorous comment from the husband of one of the ladies who is in my quilt group. He teases me about my nesting and always with a smile. He should talk having a house that looks like a museum with all its amazing antiques.

I have roses on my sidetable behind the couch. Of course, the couch and sidetable have now been moved to another angle and I now want to do a new arrangment in these black urns next week. Something that says the end of summer is near.

I found this beautiful Victorian looking planter many years ago and still love it like the day I brought it home. It is the perfect height for placing flowers on the coffeetable. At the moment, I have my Eduador roses in it with a little ivy. I am not sure if I will keep the planter here or totally use something else. So far, I have redone the things on one sidetable and the sea chest we use between our chairs.

Do you enjoy changing things and moving them around? Do you often get in the mood and move your living room furniture around? I know I inherited this from my mother who was a master at suddenly deciding to move the entire house around. I always thought it was great fun and still do. What about you? I hope I am not alone in this quirk. *grins*

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

And the winner is.....

I placed all the names in my summer straw hat...

Then I asked Jos if he would draw a name for me...

...and the winner is Melissa. Congratulations and can you send me an email with your address so I can send this butterfly on his way to you? I hope you will enjoy it!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Lazy days of summer.....

It is August and the lazy days of summer are here. Do you feel it too? It is too hot to motivate yourself to do too much. Housework is done in spurts in the cool of the morning or evening, cool drinks and ice cream are sheer heaven and a crisp salad is the equivilant to a gourmet meal.

Sometimes, I wonder onto a scene in nature that reflects the mood of the moment. Having our cottage up in the woods has brought us even closer to nature and her cycles. You really see, hear and smell the seasons unlike life here in the city. We even see signs of the coming autumn as this past Saturday we found the first pumpkins and ghords for sale. We talked to the man who had them at the market and he said all the crops are about 2 to 3 weeks ahead of normal this year. They are going to start harvesting the potatoes now which is also early.

What are you seeing around you now in the month of August? Are you enjoying some lazy days?

"A languid atmosphere, a lazy breeze,
With labored respiration, moves the wheat
From distant reaches, till the golden seas
Break in crisp whispers at my feet.

My book, neglected of an idle mind,
Hides for a moment from the eyes of men;
Or lightly opened by a critic wind,
Affrightedly reviews itself again.

Off through the haze that dances in the shine
The warm sun showers in the open glade,
The forest lies, a silhouette design
Dimmed through and through with shade.

A dreamy day; and tranquilly I lie
At anchor from all storms of mental strain;
With absent vision, gazing at the sky,
"Like one that hears it rain.""

~~ James Whitcomb Riley, A Summer Afternoon

I was given these two awards from Melissa of SunbonnetCottage. Melissa is a new blogger and just the nicest person. We have found we are kindred spirits as we have posted similar entries a couple of times not knowing it from each other. I have known one other blogger, Nan at Letters from a Hill Farm, who I have the same experience with. She and I post the same poem or quotes from time to time. So I am going to pass this Brillante Weblog award on to her. I know I am supposed to pass it on to more people but have decided to spotlight this one on dear Nan.

The rules: SHARE THE LOVE!!! Share this award with all those blogs out there that you love. All the people who make you smile. All those that make you laugh. All those that make your day. All those that leave uplifting comments on your blog. **All I ask, is that you include a link to this post with the award and ask your recipient to do the same** (Visit Memoirs of a Mommy for the awesome story behind this award.)

You all make me smile so each of my readers deserves this award. Each time you honor me with a comment on my blog, it is a thrill to me. I feel that blogging has enriched my life and given me wonderful new friends. Thank you all for sharing your love with me!

I am pulling the name for the giveaway tomorrow so I hope you will join me to see if your name was drawn.