Friday, April 30, 2010


Last fall I planted our first tulip bulbs in the yard. The variety is called 'Triumph' and came from Van Bloem Gardens.

It was pure joy to watch her rise up from the spring ground and say hello. I think even dear Hubby said hello back.

This fall, I'm going to make a point of getting many more bulbs to plant around the yard because there's nothing quite sweeter than to see that little sleeping bulb come up in the spring and blossom into a beautiful flower.

Happy weekend dear friends. xo

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Joan of Arc

Meet Joan. I've known her since I was a little girl. This Italian bust of marble and alabaster used to sit on a table in my Grandmother's foyer in California. Before that, she came from my Great Great Grandmother's house in Chicago.

Growing up, I didn't know her as the tragic and heroic figure Joan of Arc. She was just the pretty lady that greeted us in my Grandmother's entry.

For now, she's on our bedroom dresser. Eventually, I would like to relocate her to the living room downstairs, but will need to find a table strong enough to support her.

Hubby wasn't all that crazy about Joan when she first came to live with us. She reminds him of his parochial school days.

But I think she's growing on him.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Blossoming Valley

The valley is in full blossom as the fruit trees stretch their arms after a long sleepy winter, smiling at the warming days of spring. It is one of the most special times of the year.

This orchard is very special to me as these trees are our friendly neighbors.

If one were to walk down this row, up the hill and through the trees...they would arrive at our house!

The rolling hills draped with these beautiful blossoming fruit trees provide us with a delicious landscape... from blossom to fruit.

Here's another orchard across the way, hugging this narrow country road.

This is one of my favorite barns in the valley, especially when it's surrounded by twinkling pear blossoms and the green grass of spring. I'll return here when the fruit is growing, and their scent is strong and sweet.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

An Old Fruit Tree

Out there in the sleepy spring yard, smiled one very old fruit tree. How I never noticed her before amazes me.

I can't tell what kind of fruit tree she is...pear, apple or peach. This property once had a small peach orchard, perhaps she's a runaway peach tree. Good for her. xo

Bringing in her soft white petals offer us a small sliver of what the whole valley looks like right now. She stands alone up here on the hill, away from the others. But not to worry, now that I know she's here, I'll be sure to visit with her often.

I can't wait to see what fruit she will be.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Spring Yard Work

This is one of those times where spending a whole weekend outside doing yard work is a luxury. With the sun shining, warm days, toes defrosting and the green, green, green of all things growing, hours spent outside are so invigorating.

The spring kick-off for for our yard work comes when the irrigation water has been turned back on. The irrigation district does this in early April every year.

The water splits off and flows by gravity to our house from a water box just up the hill from us. Amazingly, it's the same water that irrigates the pear and cherry tree orchards down the road from us.

This is the pear orchard down the hill from us, which is in full blossom right now.

Thankfully our irrigation needs are much smaller than that of a working orchard, but still leads to the arduous task of checking that all the sprinkler lines are intact and functioning properly. Hubby uses orange flags to mark which sprinkler heads need maintenance.

All the sunshine, warmth and running water has also lead us to start in on our very new vegetable garden. Hubby carved out a plot by the grape vines. This will be our first vegetable garden at the house. In previous summers, we relied on the Farmer's Market while we busied ourselves with other projects.

Lucy supervised the entire project.

As sprinkler lines were being checked and rearranged, I considered dusting off the old rocking chairs for the porch. But as you can see, we didn't quite get around to that.

But rumor has it that we'll have seventy degree temperatures this week, so I'm sure we'll get them out soon.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


This Matisse nude hangs in my office. It's a perfect example of how sometimes, due to my antique frame addiction, a piece of art comes together backwards. In other words, I found a print to go with the frame...instead of vice versa.

I believe this frame was the very first in my collection, which began while I was a college student in Maine. My love for both art and antiques found the perfect marriage in a passion for antique frames.

I've always admired the design detail and profile of this particular frame. It's also a good size at 16-1/2 x 22 inches.

For years, the frame was paired with a landscape print. But over time, I found that the soft, ambient colors of the print somehow took away from the drama of the frame itself. A few months ago, I decided to replace the landscape with a simple drawing of a female nude. I really adore this one by Matisse, a piece whose traditional lines and monochrome palette are unique compared to his more famous work.

I also recently framed a still life by Matisse for the kitchen. It is likewise paired with an antique gold frame, though the frame is much simpler in detail. Both pieces share the same aesthetic, which combines a finely made frame with a simple but delicately beautiful drawing.

I purchased both prints here.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Indoor Garden

As I've continued to trim the stems of the hydrangeas to make them last longer, they've required smaller and smaller vases. I placed the collection around the sink and realized that they made for a lovely little indoor spring garden.

It will sustain me for now as the garden outside is still very quiet.

The only sign of blossoms so far are the sweet baby buds from the old lilac bush. They're the first to bloom in spring and are a wonderful reminder of the fragrances and flowers we'll enjoy in the months to come.

That first lilac bouquet will be heavenly.

I can't wait. xo

Monday, April 12, 2010

Community Supported Agriculture

Hubby and I signed up for a spring membership with a local organic Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. We got our first box the other day and it was filled with all sorts of wonderful surprises.

Our box included D'Anjou pears and Pink Lady apples... kale, arugula, mizuna, turnips, and micro mix, ...

...and a lovely assortment of portobello and crimini mushrooms (which the farm is known for)...

...Red Chieftan potatoes...

...and a lovely loaf of fresh baked bread!

Our first CSA meal was a penne dish with arugula pesto, portobello mushrooms, organic fennel sausage and Greek olives.

Hubby made this meal and it was delicious. It tasted just like summer.

Note: To find a CSA in your area, go here.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Sweet Scent of Basil

I was so excited to find basil plants at the grocery store the other day. The scent of basil always makes me think of the warm days of summer.

One of my favorite basil recipes is for pesto pizza. It's something we typically only enjoy during the summer months, so it was a very special treat.

Pesto Recipe:

2 cups packed basil leaves (the plant only produced 1 cup, so I supplemented with arugula)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup walnuts
1 large clove of garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Dough recipe:

1 package of yeast
1 tablespoon of honey
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
1 cup wrist-temperature water
3 cups (approximately) of flour (I use half spelt and half unbleached white)
olive oil to drizzle on top of dough

After it rises, you'll have enough dough to make two pizzas.


Basil and Arugula Pesto
Hearts of Palm artichokes
Greek Olives
Mozzarella Cheese

Bon Appetite!

Monday, April 5, 2010


Hydrangea are one of my favorite flowers. Last summer I planted twenty hydrangea bushes. The varieties are Endless Summer, Limelight, All Summer Beauty, Little Lamb, Nikko Blue, Greenspire and one climbing variety.

I love their country elegance and their larger than life blossoms.

I'm not sure what variety these are, but like the Limelight variety, they have beautiful pale green blossoms. I have to trim the stems almost daily to keep them smiling. Perhaps because the blossom heads are so large.

This variety has smaller blossoms and doesn't need as much trimming. I've had these for about two weeks now and they're still very bright and fresh looking.

I can't wait until my hydrangeas are blossoming. Many have started to leaf out but I'm afraid blossoms are still many, many weeks away.

But they're so worth the wait.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

All Things Spring

You know it's truly spring when the orchards are on the verge of blossoming. Very soon the valley and hills will be twinkling with little pink and white flowers so deliciously beautiful that you'll want to walk down orchard row upon orchard row trying to take them all in.

Meet my new friend. She lives on a sheep farm down the road and she's fulfilling my desire to make new furry friends. My sweet adorable alpacas (here) have been moved to another field so the sheep are my new adorables to stop and say hello to. And she's the perfect kind of furry friend...completely squeezable!

Indoors, spring is shining brightly through the white ranunculus on our bedroom dresser.

And of course the heavenly pink ranunculus on my nightstand. Can you kiss a flower? What would Hubby think if I leaned over and kissed my ranunculus before we went to sleep at night? I'm afraid he'd think it was fairly normal behavior.

My new spring bonnet is the latest addition to my spring 'wardrobe'. I found it at an antique store and it simply made me smile. Do you think I should wear it on Easter? Do you think it will 'go' with jeans and a warm sweater?

Happy Easter dear friends.

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