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!

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!

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!

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!

Evening on the Town

We country mice went to the big city this week!  My Mother’s Day gift was tickets for the four of us to see “Phantom of the Opera” at the Boston Opera House!!!  And finally the day had arrived!  (All photos snapped with various cell phones.)
But the family was in for a surprise!  I had made pre-theatre dinner reservations for us at the Omni Parker House hotel in Boston. (And, yes, that is a revolving door!  Got to experience those every chance you get, because they are…well…just so fun!)

I chose the hotel because its history has a connection to the history of our town.  In the 1800′s there was a man, J.R. Whipple, who lived in and owned a creamery in our town AND owned five hotels in Boston, including the Parker House.  He was instrumental in getting the railroad (now defunct) to come to our town, so that products from his creamery: milk, cream, butter, eggs, and more, could be quickly transported to his hotels.  In my volunteer work with the town historical society, I have worked on cataloging his ledger that recorded shipments to his hotels.  His house and creamery still stand in our town.  And in the Parker House, there’s a large oil painting of the man himself.  The placard next to the painting said that at the time of his death, he was “the best known hotel man in America.”

The Parker House interior was warm and inviting with an 1800′s elegance.

The Parker House is also famous for some of its food.  If you’ve ever enjoyed a soft and buttery Parker House roll, this is where they were first served.  And it is also the place where Boston Cream Pie originated.  Conveniently, they have a pre-theatre dinner menu with entrees that are quick to prepare.  The guys had the steak.  We girls had the chicken.  And we all enjoyed the best Boston Cream Pie ever!

We then walked just a few blocks to the Boston Opera House.

We had never been here before, and from the outside it is deceptively small looking. But inside it is huge and spectacular!  It was built in the 1920′s.  But in the mid-90′s it was listed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 11 Most Endangered Buildings list.  It underwent an extensive renovation and reopened eight years ago.  A note on the restoration from the opera house’s website says, “While all the mechanical, fire protection and HVAC systems were installed to conform with modern standards, a rare assembly of old-world craftsmanship and highly-skilled trades went to work restoring sculptural plaster, gold leaf finishes, Carrara marble, paintings and tapestries, grand staircases, chandeliers, walnut and oak paneling. The restoration included replication of historic carpet, seating and silk wall panels. When the historic patterns for the silk wall panels proved too large for modern looms, a loom was custom-built to create the historic pattern.”  Here’s a glimpse at the restored grandeur:

Max’s new phone can take panoramic pictures, and he captured this view of the inside of the opera house before the performance.

Waiting for the show to start!

What a delightful evening!  The show was everything you would expect and more…fabulous singing, beautiful music from the orchestra, spectacular costumes, amazing sets, and the crashing chandelier!

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