Lakeside Picnic

Sunday, I had a surprise picnic planned! I was so excited to take hubby and Colette to this location, wasn't open to the public (unexpectedly) that day. So we scrambled to come up with an alternative location, and we chose the grassy beach area at Lake Sunapee. It was a very pleasing alternative!

- Picnic Menu -

cold, roasted chicken
garden picked grape tomatoes
country sourdough bread from The Forge Bakery (MA)
Jarslberg cheese
refrigerator pickles (recipe here)
Pimm's Cups (recipe here)
individual summer berries cobbler

The older I get, the less inclined I am to use paper plates, plastic or styrofoam. I want to drink from a real glass! I'm not sure why this has suddenly become important to me, but maybe it's an attitude of "life is short...use the good stuff." So, I packed dishes, and crystal glasses for the Pimm's Cups, and some of my growing collection of vintage picnic flatware. Worth every bit of time it took to pack and clean!

The mini cobblers proved to be a great little picnic dessert. Just wrap tightly in plastic wrap and transport flat to prevent spillage.

Garden Tour: Juniper Hill Farm

Last Saturday, I had a few spare moments to dash out and enjoy one garden on The Garden Conservancy's Open Garden Days in the Monadnock Region of New Hampshire. The Garden Conservancy, whose goal is to "save and share outstanding American gardens" hosts these Open Garden Days all over the country. Check out their website here to find a day near you!

Since I only had time to visit one of the day's gardens, I chose to go to Juniper Hill Farm in the neighboring town of Francestown. I visited here a year or two ago, but the gardens of Joseph Valentine are so incomparable that I just had to return and see them anew. I'm completely in awe of how he and his wife have created multiple "rooms" on their 2-acre garden plot. This time my attention was turned to how they created each one...the hedges, the fences, the "entries" or "thresholds" to the "rooms", the lines of the garden. All these captivated me this the pool and the ferns, which looked very cool and refreshing on a hot, summer day.

Here we are about to begin. Do you see the threshold? The doorposts? Don't you just yearn to cross it and see what is beyond? 

Crossing the threshold, you must choose to go left or right, and I chose to go left and a quick right, which brought me here. Look! Another "doorway" in the distance!

But I saved that discovery for later, and I turned into the potager on the left. Here we're looking back through the kitchen garden at those towering hedges.

I love how the fences of the potager are constructed from espaliered apple trees.

Exiting the kitchen garden, I walked through that hedge doorway (previously seen) and around to the pool. Here you can see we are on the other side of the hedge from where we began our tour. And look how the hedge echoes the lines of the garden bench sitting in front of it.

I wandered into the pool house and admired the view back from where I had come...of the stumpery.

Leaving the pool area and wandering closer towards the house...

The lines of boxwood...the gravel path...all calling one onward to new discoveries!

Always something here or there to catch your eye or lead it from one place to another...

I was so busy studying the design of it all, that at times I had to remember to admire the plants too. Just look at all the colors and textures!

One last pass by the pool...

A glimpse at the meadows beyond...

Do please check out The Garden Conservancy's website and consider supporting them by touring some gardens in your neck of the woods! It's a beautiful way to spend an afternoon!

Twins Come for a Visit

Look what came for a visit to our yard this summer! (Please ignore the dying grass due to the drought conditions in our state.) Aren't they cute?

Mama was nearby watching over her little ones.

This one was eyeing my garden. I was feeling mighty grateful for that deer fencing!


Last year, while staying on Nantucket, I bought a mirror for the formal dining room. (Colette was sweet enough to carry it!)

It was just the right size to hang between the two windows in that room. But most importantly, it did exactly what I wanted it to do! It reflects the view of the woods behind me, since I sit with my back to the view.

Nantucket for the win!

Wine and Flowers

New Hampshire's largest winery, Flag Hill Winery, makes a fabulous port. And since I will be in need of some port for a recipe soon, Colette and I took off across the countryside on our quest. Such a pretty winery!

Mission accomplished. And the best part is, I'll only need a small amount for the recipe! The rest of the bottle and some fine, dark chocolate...mmmm.

Then, having a bit of time before we had to be home, we just got lost. Our family loves getting lost down country roads in New England, all made possible by having a good GPS that will get us home. Thankful for that technology! Listening to some vintage Chuck Berry tunes on Colette's playlist, we enjoyed going up and down the winding roads. And suddenly, we crested a hill and found a field full of Queen Anne's lace in full bloom.

Raspberry Picking with the Little Ones

Last week, Hubby and I met Felicity and the little ones for a hot morning of raspberry picking. Despite the heat, the grandkids were focused and cheerful and great little pickers!

And later, after lunches and naps, they came over for dinner...with vanilla ice cream with raspberries for dessert!

How to Make a Pimm's Cup

One of my goals this year was to learn how to make half a dozen cocktails well. Eight months into this year, and I've finally begun...with a Pimm's Cup. It is the quintessential British summer cocktail, a staple at Wimbledon and at British and American polo matches, and it is refreshing and delicious!

As with anything, I'm always a bit curious about the history behind it all. With some online research, I discovered that the base for the drink, Pimm's No. 1 Cup, was created by James Pimm, a British fishmonger, who opened an oyster bar in London in the 1840's. It was marketed as an aperitif and sold in a small tankard called a No. 1 cup, hence the name. An aperitif, by definition, is an aid to digestion and was typically served before a meal. ("Drinks before dinner? What would Carson say?" - Lady Mary) The exact composition of this liqueur, a mixture of "herbal and floral nuances", is said to be known by only six people.

I'm sort of an alcohol wimp, preferring about 1/3 of a glass of wine to a full glass. So, the Pimm's Cup is a great cocktail for someone who likes just a taste

The ingredients are really very simple. All you need besides what you see here is: ice.

Pimm's Cup

1 1/2 oz. Pimm's No. 1
3 oz. lemonade (I made my own, using a recipe found here)
cocktail straw

Fill an 8 oz. glass full with ice. Add Pimm's and lemonade. Finish filling the glass with Sprite. Garnish with orange, cucumber, and mint. (You can add the garnishes to the glass if desired.) Insert a cocktail straw. Enjoy!

Super Easy Dill Refrigerator Pickles

Although I've made many jars of pickles in the past, I've never tried my hand at refrigerator pickles. SO easy! And SO delicious! I should've been making them for years. Gather the ingredients from your local farmers' market, and spend just a few minutes to make a jar for your family!

Super Easy Dill Refrigerator Pickles

-Makes 1 quart jar-

5 (3-4") pickling cucumbers
2 c. water
1 c. white vinegar
1 T. kosher salt
1/2 t. sugar
1 t. pickling spice
big bunch of fresh dill
3 large cloves garlic, peeled
10-20 peppercorn kernels
1 small onion, coarsely sliced
1/2 of a small green bell pepper, coarsely sliced

- Slice cucumbers into spears, OR cut them into bite-size circles. (I used a crinkle-cutter to give mine a wavy edge, which is kind of fun!) Set aside.

- In a heavy, stainless steel saucepan, combine: water, vinegar, salt, sugar, and pickling spice. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve salt and sugar. Remove and cool to room temperature.

- Layer cucumbers, sprigs of dill, garlic, peppercorns, onions slices, and bell pepper slices into a clean quart canning jar. Pour cooled liquid over all. Seal with a canning jar lid and place in refrigerator; allow to sit for 48 hours before tasting.

- Will last for at least a month!
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