Sunday, August 29, 2010

Tomatoes!



We enjoyed our first cherry tomato harvest over the weekend! It was a notable moment as the tomatoes got off to a rather slow start due our cool, rainy June.

Most of the heirloom varieties are still quite green. We're hoping that before the fall temperatures settle in, we'll get some more late hot summer days to help them ripen.


As you can see, I'm ripening as well. I'm a little over 23 weeks pregnant now and the babies are growing fast. I'm so excited to say that we've begun working on the nursery. Hubby finished all of the painting in the dining room (photos to soon follow) and has officially begun the painting projects for the nursery.

Once the painting is finished, everything should come together quite quickly as all the furniture and design plans are pretty much complete! Can't wait to share it with you!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Morning Dahlias



I woke up this morning and decided to cut some dahlias at the flower farm. It was a bittersweet feeling to see the dahlias in full bloom. On the one hand, I was excited to see their fresh blossoms, but also a little sad as their blossoms are a sure sign that summer is coming to an end.


I smiled as I approached the flower fields and saw all of the different varieties of dahlias blooming so happily under the soft August sun.


I decided to limit my cuttings to the pink variety. The dahlias will be growing strong until our first frost, so there are many weeks left for me to return and clip other varieties.


Happy dahlia season to you!

xoTrina

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Pickles, continued...



Our garden is producing a bumper crop of pickling cucumbers! I now have two full crocks of refrigerator pickles, but not even a pickle craving pregnant woman nor a Midwestern pickle-consuming husband can keep up.

So Hubby decided to dust off his old recipe to can some pickles. A delicious fact about my Hubby is that he loves to cook - french toast, big dinner meals, yummy cakes (he makes me a birthday cake from scratch), and pickles.

The recipe he's used (which comes from an old friend's grandma, modified by Hubby's Mom) is pretty open to variation but the basics are as follows (for six quarts):

Fresh cucumbers, washed

Seasonings:
Pickling dill in each jar
Pickling spices (we found ours in the bulk section of our grocery store)
Garlic cloves, two in each jar


Brine:
Organic vinegar (1 quart)
Water (3 quarts)
Pickling salt (3/4 cup)

Sterilize jars in rolling boil in large pot.
Pack cucumbers tight in sterilized jars with seasonings.
Bring brine to rolling boil.
Pour brine in jars. Let sit for 10-15 minutes, until cucumbers begin to turn olive.


Pour brine back into pot and bring to second boil.
Fill jars with brine again, to 1/4-1/2 inch from top.
Secure sterilized lids on full jars, and allow to cool.
After jars have cooled, check that lids have sealed.
Let cure for three months.

Our canned pickles won't be ready to sample until on towards the holidays. The Refrigerator Pickle recipe I blogged about a few weeks ago results in a much more mild flavor than these will have as there is no salt in the recipe. For some, the Refrigerator Pickles may be too mild (especially if you're used to really salty or sweet pickles), but I continue to use the recipe because as a swollen pregnant pickle consuming woman, the no salt and low sugar is a good idea for me. ; )

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Blooming Limelight


The Limelight hydrangea that we planted on the dining patio this past spring are in full bloom.


After having worked all last summer on building the dining patio (go here and here), it was truly wonderful to begin this summer with the sole task of setting up the table and chairs.



The vigorous growth of the Limelight over the past few months has really added a nice texture to the dining patio.


Aren't the Limelight blossoms sweet?


We are still working on finishing the dining room. Between enjoying our recent company, Hubby's work obligations, and the sheer lack of hours in the day, there's still some painting to do and a few odds and ends to pull together.

As a result, we've been enjoying the dining patio more than ever. We never tire of eating outdoors on these beautiful warm summer days.

Mmmm...don't you just love summer.


UPDATE: new table and chairs here.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sweet Blackberries



I love blackberries. They're my favorite berry to eat in the languid days of late summer. When I lived in Maine, my house had a long hedge of them, and I used to pick them like mad. Waiting for those berries to ripen was one of my annual pursuits. Enjoying their sun-warmed sweetness was one of the highlights of my summers there.


We also bought a loaf of crusty wheat bread...


...to enjoy one of our favorite weekend breakfast treats - French Toast.

Hubby makes these. He uses a recipe from Joy of Cooking, but then adds a few extra spices that make them extra special.

Joy of Cooking recipe:

4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Hubby's extra spices:

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Combine all of the above ingredients in a square shallow dish. Dip bread slices in and grill until done.

Top with fresh fruit and maple syrup.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Living With What You Love



The talented photographer, designer and author Monica Rich Kosann recently shared her newly published book with me. As with any house design book, I was ever so delighted to sit down for a thorough read.

Living With What You Love is beautiful and completely captures all that make a house a home. Whether it is a special collection of seashells, fine art or a menagerie of family photos, Monica expresses how these endearing items offer our homes warmth, character and most of all, soul.

The book's celebration of photographs especially inspired me. I was moved to dust off those antique photo frames I've been collecting through the years, and finally fill them with the people and family I love.


I needed a large space so I decided to display them on our bedroom dresser. Joan of Arc is surrounded by the generations of family that have known her (my Great Great Grandmother originally purchased her).


Older generations are mixed in with the new. Pictures of Hubby, as both a little boy and a man, stand next to a picture of my Grandmother on the patio of her California hills home.


The photographs span four generations...my brother and I, my parents, my Grandmother and Great Grandmother.


I've picked up these frames as bargains over the past several years, ranging from $5 to $40. The sweet old pearl frame is one I came across for $5.


This is one of my favorite photos of my mom holding me as a baby.


I love this sweet little miniature Rococo frame holding a picture of my Grandmother as a child.


Here are my brother and I as children in Sequoia National Park, California.


In order to fit the photographs in non-standard size frames, I scanned them onto my computer and then re-sized them to fit each frame.

I want to thank Monica for sharing her beautiful book with me. My framing project would not have come about if it weren't for the inspiration I found through her examples that celebrate those items which lend soul to home...in collections, in heirlooms, and in photographs. It's truly nurturing to see the faces of my life, past and present, standing close to each other in heart and home.

Go here to read Acanthus and Acorn's review. Also, visit Monica's website to learn more about her, her passionate work and her new book, Living With What You Love.
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