Baby Sunflower

Meet the baby sunflower!  This summer I'm working on beginning to landscape the large and empty front flower bed.  I have been purchasing 3-5 plants a month for it beginning in May and continuing on until September or October (depending on when the nurseries close for the season).  Thus far, we now have: a forsythia, a flowering quince, two hostas, two shasta daisies, a small deep red daisy, and two purple things with silvery foliage (whose name escapes me), AND this baby sunflower!  The plant only grows 2-ft. tall, and the blooms are barely 3" across.  It's cheerful little face is turned towards the house.  It makes me smile!

The Summer of the Ice Cream Sandwich

In the summertime, I enjoy having a bit of culinary fun.  One year we had “Lodge Food Night”, and once a week I made a complete meal from the recipes of the historic national park lodges.  That was a delicious summer!  This summer, we are enjoying a different homemade ice cream sandwich each week.
Here’s a glimpse at my first week’s attempt.  I chose Black Raspberry Chocolate ice cream (yum!).  You have to let the ice cream sit out and soften for at least 30 minutes.

For the outer part of the sandwich, I purchased a box of pizelles, or Italian wafers.

Pile one high with the softened ice cream.

Then comes the tricky part…putting them together.  It’s very easy to break one or both of the pizelles while doing this.  The trick is to apply an equal amount of pressure to both sides when using such a delicate cookie.  Then, place on a freezer paper lined baking sheet and freeze until firm.

Since then, we’ve had:
- mint chocolate chip with chocolate wafer cookies dipped in melted chocolate and rolled in chocolate sprinkles
- coconut-pineapple ice cream on pizelles
- chcolate moose tracks ice cream between brownies
And this week’s was coffee ice cream between chocolate chip cookies.

S'more Night

Last Saturday evening was Colette’s “S’more Night” with friends and family.  We finished the fire pit just in time!  It will truly look finished once the grass grows up between the stones.  But it was ready enough to toast s’mores.

This little girl was too cute for words!  Just look at those cheeks!

And Theo was eager to start toasting a marshmallow.  He’d just gone camping the week before with his dad, grand-dad, and uncles, so he was already a veteran of campfires and the tasty food from them.

Colette planned a very nice evening, with classic sodas…

…a giant Jenga game she made herself…

…all the fixings for some really deluxe s’mores: milk and dark chocolate, graham crackers, regular, jumbo, and homemade coconut marshmallows, chocolate-peanut butter brownies, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and York Peppermint Patties…

…and friends, family, adorable kids, and dogs!

Time to try out the fire pit.  Theo sat like this for the longest time, just patiently waiting  for his marshmallow to be ready, until someone (with a longer reach) finally helped him out a bit.

We had a fabulous time with everyone around the fire pit!  Just good conversation and joking, games, tasty treats, and the added bonus of my favorite aroma in the whole, wide world…wood smoke!  We’re just lacking a fiddler to make it complete.

Once the grass has grown up between the stones, I’ll do a final posting on the fire pit with some tips on building one and some cautions on what to avoid.  But for now, we’re going to enjoy it over and over again!

Sabbath Rest

Jesus shall reign where'er the sun
Does his successive journeys run;
His kingdom stretch from shore to shore,
Till moons shall wax and wane no more.
To Him shall endless prayer be made,
And praises throng to crown His head;
His Name like sweet perfume shall rise
With every morning sacrifice.
People and realms of every tongue
Dwell on His love with sweetest song;
And infant voices shall proclaim
Their early blessings on His Name.
Blessings abound wherever He reigns;
The prisoner leaps to lose his chains;
The weary find eternal rest,
And all the sons of want are blessed.
Let every creature rise and bring
Peculiar honors to our King;
Angels descend with songs again,
And earth repeat the loud amen!
--Isaac Watts (1719)

Fire Pit Project

Last summer, Max began work on a fire pit in the backyard.  Things were going along well, and then we discovered a problem.  We all sat back, looked at it and said, “Hmm…”, and there it sat until last week.  Now we have begun anew, with the pit re-leveled, the interior bricks reinstalled, and the purchase of some really fabulous tumbled bluestone.

We’ll be hard at work finishing it this week, because Colette is hosting a “s’more night” Saturday!  More pictures of the finished fire pit to come!

Sewing, Sewing, Sewing

I’ve had a very productive two weeks of sewing for my Etsy shops!  Here’s a glimpse at my latest creations:
Two similar, yet different beach bags, found here or here.

And two different shopping bags, found here or here.

Homekeeping Library

I am a passionate homekeeper!  I positively love all aspects of homekeeping!   Over the years, I have acquired quite a fine collection of books on the topic.  Some of them are still in boxes (from our move six years ago) in the basement.  The ones that aren’t in boxes recently moved from the surface of my kitchen desk to the shelf above it.  So, in case you are in need of a handy reference book, or your homekeeping needs a little dusting off and fresh inspiration, here are some titles I recommend from my collection.

Apples - Roget Yepsen
The American Frugal Housewife (a reproduction book) – Lydia Marie Child
Forgotten Household Crafts - John Seymour
Butt’ry Shelf Almanac - Mary Mason Campbell (illustrated by Tasha Tudor)
Housekeeping in Old Virginia (a reproduction book)
Honey Crafting - Leeann Coleman and Jayne Barnes
The Forgotten Arts: Growing, Gardening & Cooking with Herbs - Richard M. Bacon
Home Cheese Making - Ricki Carroll
Kitchen Gardens - Mary Mason Campbell (illustrated by Tasha Tudor)
Your Backyard Herb Garden - Miranda Smith
Gardening in New England - Jacqueline Heriteau and Holly Hunters Stonehill
Household Wisdom - Stephanie Donaldson
Home Comforts - Cheryl Mendelson (an indispensible reference!)
The New Hampshire Gardener’s Companion - Henry Homeyer
The Best Apples to Buy & Grow - Beth Hanson
Successful Berry Growing - Gene Logsdon
Milk Based Soaps - Casey Makela
The Joy of Keeping a Root Cellar - Jennifer Megyesi
The Soap Book - Sandy maine
The Herbalist (antique book)
Advice to a Wife and Mother (antique book)
Wmsbrg Art of Cookery (a reproduction book)
The Naturally Clean Home - Karyn Siegel-Maier
Fun for the Household (an antique gem of a book!)

Hopes for the Garden

Memorial Day is the traditional time to plant the garden here in New England.  That day came and went and I continued on with bronchitis.  One thing after another (weather, illness of others in the family, etc.), and still the garden remained unplanted.  Finally, last week, we planted.  I have no idea if we’ll get any crops this year.  Here’s hoping for a warm autumn of extended growing time.
From my plan sketched in the middle of winter, we staked off the garden into beds.  I like the idea of raised beds, but I really don’t want to invest in the wood for them or the soil to fill them, nor do I like the permanency of them.  So each year, I just reconfigure everything to meet that year’s garden needs, drive short stakes in the corners of the “beds”, and then rope each area off with twine.  So far, this method has worked great for us.  Perhaps when I find a design I really love, I’ll be ready to put up a permanent, picket fence.  Here’s what the garden looked like with the black plastic down and the stakes and twine done.  I love the symmetry of this year’s plan!

Plants went in next.  Many were my long-neglected, spindly seedlings.  And the others were purchased from a local, organic, no-GMO grower.

Then, Max spread a layer of straw over it all.

Finished.  Now all it has to do is grow…quickly!

Blueberry Pie Time

Last month I made a strawberry pie, because it was strawberry season.  This month, it was the blueberry’s turn.  I wanted it to be really heaping with blueberries, so I measured them directly into the empty pie pan until I felt it was full enough.

I used Tasha Tudor’s recipe, which has you sprinkle the flour and sugar into the bottom of the pan (before the blueberries go in) and then again after they’ve been added vs. mixing the flour and sugar with the berries and then adding them to the pan.  Either way seems to work.

The seasonal produce comes and goes SO quickly here in New Hampshire, you have to hop on it, if you’re going to enjoy it.  This month was also cherry month.  A local farmer knows I covet the tart cherries that grow on his farm, so this year he saved them for me!  So now, safely tucked into our freezer, is cherry pie filling (enough for a deep dish pie) for Washington’s Birthday.  In the dead of winter, that is going to taste so good!

Summer Dinners

Simple, fresh, and no-cook dinners are one of summer’s delights.  I have two such meals planned this week…taco salads and tonight’s dinner of sub sandwiches.  Ingredient list: grinder roll, mayo, Dijon mustard, Black Forest ham, dry salami, meunster cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, dill pickles, banana peppers, and black pepper.  Served with a custard cup full of fresh pineapple.  Yum!  What are some of your favorite no-cook meals?

Summertime Refreshment

My new favorite, refreshing, zero calorie, no guilt summertime beverage is herbal iced tea.  So simple to make!
I went to the pantry in search of a canning jar, but alas…they were all packed in the basement. However, an empty milk bottle caught my eye and seemed an even better choice.

After filling the bottle with water, I chose my favorite, fruity herbal tea.  Let me just say, if you’re still drinking teas from Lipton or Celestial Seasonings, or any other standard brand of tea, you have NO idea what you’re missing!  Such delectable flavors await from some fabulous, lesser known tea companies.  Paromi teas and Harney & Sons are some of my favorites!

Three tea bags were all that were needed for a quart of water.

Then I capped the bottle and set it outside for the rest of the day and overnight, bringing it in the next morning.  Look at that incredible color!

I find a hint of tea so refreshing, so I fill the glass with ice, then about 1/3 to 1/2 of the way with tea, then the rest of the way with water.  Delicious!  Naturally sweet with no added sugar.  Colette likes to add a few sliced strawberries to hers.  It’s the perfect drink for hot summer days!

Sabbath Rest

"Oh, thus be it ever when free men shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation!
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto, "In God is our trust"
And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!"

- Francis Scott Key

Happy Independence Day!

It’s been a wet, rainy week in New Hampshire.  But on sunnier days, I’ve been snapping pictures of the fabulous 4th of July decorations in a neighboring town.  That town’s parade is very popular with politicians running for office, due to its lovely backdrop of flag bedecked colonial homes providing  a great photo opp.  So I thought I’d share a few of my favorites with you!  Enjoy!

Due to approaching Hurricane Arthur, outdoor dining on the deck was not possible today.  But I did manage to scamper out and gather some flowers before the rain started this morning.  If we couldn’t eat outside, at least we could look festive inside!

 Although I usually keep the vintage Bakelite silverware for picnic use, it dawned on me that it is the perfect silverware for the 4th of July too!

Got to love a man who will cheerfully grill in the pouring rain!

- 4th of July Menu - 
grilled burgers with all the fixings
old-fashioned potato salad
stawberries and blueberries
fresh corn-on-the-cob
Cape Cod potato chips
Sprite with fresh fruit
Red, White, and Blue Ice Cream
(or Raspberry, Coconut, and Maine Blueberry ice creams)

A very happy Independence Day from our family to yours!
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