Beautiful Blooms

Recently, Colette and I toured the conservatory at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.

We had hoped that there would be snow on the ground, and we would have the thrill of stepping out of the snowy landscape into the warm, moist conservatory filled with living, blooming plants...the stark contrast was what we yearned to experience. But even though we had plenty of snow on the ground at our house, there was no snow at all in Northampton, MA. But our disappointment at our timing disappeared instantly when we entered, for we learned that we had arrived just after their spring bulb show, and that all the bulbs were still blooming. Oh, riotous spring blooms! And the aroma!

We learned that conservatories were called "orangeries" in Europe, and were begun by the French who wanted some way to grow citrus in winter. (When we were in England last year, we had tea at the Orangerie at Kensington Palace, which was a former conservatory or "orangerie".) When we left the bulb rooms, we moved into a small room which grew citrus. The smell of orange blossoms! That is one thing I miss about California!

From there we passed through one room after another. Some were divided by continent with horticultural specimens from each. And others were divided by type of plant...ferns, cacti, water plants, etc.

Neither of us had ever been in a large, glass conservatory before, and we decided that they appeal to our inner Victorians...everything beautiful and orderly, showing a fascination with the natural world, and sort of a way to travel to the far reaches of the world without really going anywhere. Plus, we could sit surrounded by exotic plants without fear that a large millipede was going to crawl over our feet, or a monkey drop down on our heads! You're laughing...but that really was what I was thinking!

It's the best sort of bean...a cocoa bean! It was actually labeled "Cocoa Bean - Chocolate Tree".

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit there, and have decided that we need to seek out more of these conservatories. I'm particularly interested in finding one that grows giant lily pads. Have you ever been to one? Do you have any you recommend?

Mud Season

Mud Season is fully upon us. The car is never clean. The wellies are always at the ready. It's the season between winter and flowers here.

New Hampshire Maple Weekend

Every year, around the end of March, New Hampshire celebrates Maple Weekend. All throughout the state, sugar shacks open their doors to visitors who come to see the process of turning maple sap into maple syrup. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup! 

Hubby and I started out last Saturday by visiting a popular sugar shack and pancake house for breakfast! Steam puffed out of their sugar house's chimney pipe from their wood-fired evaporator.

The wait was long, but the blueberry waffles were worth it!

Then we traveled down a dirt, country road as we followed the signs that led to a family-owned sugar shack. A large number of neighbors and curious maple seekers, like ourselves, were gathered about chatting, watching the operation, and sampling the sweet, sticky syrup.

The sample was DE-licious! And this sweet, little glass bottle full of the liquid amber came home with us!

Sabbath Rest

" shall rejoice in all to which you have put your hand,
you and your households,
in which the Lord your God has blessed you."

- Deuteronomy 12:7

Patriot's Day Costumes

Here in New England, Patriot's Day (April 19th), is less than a month away! If your child has need of a costume, the shop is stocked with a limited number of costumes just right for the occasion!

The Revolutionary War Soldier Costume (click here)

The Redcoat Costume (click here)

The George Washington/Alexander Hamilton Costume (click here)

A Few of My Favorite Things

Once in a while, I see other bloggers do postings in which they highlight some products, companies, videos, etc. that are catching their eye or with which they are particularly smitten. I always appreciate those postings, and have found some excellent recommendations from them. 

I should note that I do not receive any compensation for my recommendations, but have included the links, where appropriate, so that you can easily find them, if you are so inclined. Here are 10 of my favorite things these days

1. Eucalan Fine Fabric Wash (found on Amazon - click here - although it comes in a variety of scents, and you may prefer a different one). I saw this recommended by another blogger, who said she used it on her faux fur throws instead of taking them to the dry cleaner and that they came out just fabulously. I'm not sure about you, but I spend WAY too much money at the dry cleaners! I was intrigued...slightly dubious...but intrigued enough to buy it. Then I was basically too scared to risk one of my fine silks or woolens to it, so it sat on the shelf for a year or so...until Christmas Eve. On Christmas Eve, one of my granddaughters threw up on her dupioni silk Christmas dress. Oh yikes! Christmas dry cleaners open until at least Dec. 26th. I'd be horrified to let it sit in it until then. I'd be horrified to take it to the dry cleaners like that. So, I tried out the Eucalan Fine Fabric Wash and the hand washables setting on my washing machine. The tricky thing about it is you DO NOT do the final rinse. You just take it out and hang it to dry. And guess what? It turned out perfect! I couldn't have been more pleased. I am a believer!

2. Appetizer plates. Last year, I slowly collected appetizer plates, so that I don't need to keep buying small paper plates for every holiday and small party. They also turn out to be just the thing for small a brownie. I have 20+ of them and LOVE them! (Mine came from Crate & Barrel - click here - I like their organic shape.)

3. Half Baked Harvest Cookbook! I know I've mentioned this before, but these recipes are THE best! (Available on Amazon - click here.)

4. All the fabulous snow pictures that have come out of England in the last month or so. Don't you just love seeing how beautiful all those famous sites and the British landscape looks dusted in snow? Just google "snow in England" or "Buckingham Palace snow" to see some real beauties!

5. Everything...absolutely everything(!) from Toad Hall & Co. in England. Rebecca Day, a British illustrator, creates charming artwork of her country life and the animals around her. She turns these into notecards, gift tags, and more. I've already bought our Christmas cards from her for this year! (To go to her site, click here.)

6. Le Pen. They are fine-tipped and come in a variety of colors. They create a nice, clear line and I don't have any issues with smudging. I'm particularly in love with the gray. (Available on Amazon - click here.)

7. MacArthur Bible Reading App. If you want to read through the Bible in a year, I have found this to be a great way to do that. I can read first thing upon awakening, no page turning that wakes Hubby, and a handy check box to mark off each day. Every day has approximately two chapters from the Old Testament, a passage from Psalms, a verse or two from Proverbs, and a chapter from the New Testament. There is also some commentary. (Search for it in your app store.)

8. Plain Leather Journal. I've been using this all year to keep a gratitude journal. Each day, I note all the things I can think of that I was grateful to the Lord for the day before. My prayer is that it will increase my thankfulness, increase my faith in God, and cause me to ponder more often my blessings. This journal is simple and feels oooh so nice to the touch. (Available from Barnes & Noble - click here.)

9. The products of Cambridge Imprint, who are British patternmakers. I have one of their portfolios (and have gifted one). At least once a week, I have need to carry some writing paper around with me in a tote bag or purse, and the portfolio will keep them from getting wrinkled and dog-earred. Some of their small boxes are next on my list. (Click here to visit their website.) 

10. The candles from Nora Murphy Country House! These are delightfully fragrant soy candles...lovely packaging...everything done with so much beauty and care. I have her limited edition Irish Tweed candle and her new Chocolate Bunny candle, which smells JUST like chocolate! (Click here.)

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