Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Round the Garden

Whenever I used to visit my parents at their country home during the growing seasons, I would be invited to "take a walk round the garden".  I'll admit there were many times I'd rather not (especially during blackfly season), but Mom loved to show me her plants and tell me how each of them were doing and how this one had revived etc etc.  Of course now I miss those walks, as Mom passed away two years ago.
Last spring my sisters and I had to sell the house in town that my parents lived in for such a brief time.  I really hated that house, but Mom had moved as many plants as she could into her new backyard and we decided to dig them all up and transplant them into our own gardens.  I'm so glad we did.  Now I'll ask you if you'd like to take a walk round the garden with me :) 

This little plant is a surprise.  It's some sort of bluebell flower that I was thrilled to see in Mom's garden, but when I transplanted it last spring it promptly died ... or so I thought!  Here it is back again, and I can see the little tiny blue buds tucked in the green folds at the bottom right.  I love blue flowers, so I was happy to have it back and looking good.

Mom's redbud bush is not looking so good, however, with only a few buds along bare branches.  I hope it comes back because she really loved it, and it looked so good all last summer.
This is a hardy red or black currant bush that Mom had shoved in the ground on a rather shady side of the house.  I found it by accident, and couldn't leave it there to die, so it came home with me too.  I really hope it's a currant bush and not a gooseberry bush.  Mom gave me a gooseberry bush a few years ago (but she thought it was black currant as she knew I loved black currant jam).  But when it finally produced some berries I was so disappointed that they were gooseberries (yuck).
Mom had beautiful huge iris gardens running alongside their very long driveway for many, many years.  She took into town what she could, and I took from her house what I could, and they all seem to have come back this spring.  Not one of them flowered last year, so I hope they do better this year.  I may not have them in the best location as they get too much shade here later in the summer, but I'll see what I can sort out for them as I really love them.
And this little plant is called a Lenten Rose (although I wonder if it's technically a heliotrope).  I gave it to Mom a long time ago and she had it planted in her woodland garden just at the edge of their woods.  She would always remark to me when it had flowered as it was one of the first flowers of spring.  Now I have it in my backyard and it seems to be happy where it is since it came back after such a long hard winter.

And of course there are the lilac bushes, which were a perennial favourite.  I'm not sure which colour this lilac is, but I brought two back from her place and I know they were originally from the country home, so they mean a lot to me.
Today we had such a warm day ... close to summertime weather!  I'm relieved that most of the plants I brought back from Mom's place have made it through the winter, and a few more days like today may just bring them right back into bloom which would make me so very, very happy!
Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Thrifting and Thank You

I was having rather a difficult day on Friday, nothing of which would be easy to write about here.  Suffice it to say, all I could think of was "here we go again!".  Life's challenges lately have been just that ... challenging :]

The day started off fairly well, however, as I decided to take a walk up to my local thrift store.  I haven't been there in ages, and although my family sighs a collective sigh of relief when I come home with no tell-tale bags from that store, I was missing my little wanders through the aisles.  I found a few nice things and was very selective about what I picked up ...

 A beautiful almond biscuit tin from Italy.  Last summer we took a family trip to Italy, and when I saw this tin, I couldn't resist it ... beautiful artwork, lovely shape, and the colours are so soft and pretty.  It's had some wear, but that makes it even more special because someone loved it before me too.  It'll be perfect for sewing notions.
Pretty mountain scene along one side ....
Beautiful woman looking very imperious on the other ...
I also picked up this little lidded brown pot (on the right).  I've always had a thing for brown and white stoneware.  It stems from the large pickle crocks my mom used.  Very solid, heavy pieces of crockery that were used for pickles in summer and mincemeat at Christmas.  My little "tea" pot is also reminiscent of the crocks.  For a long time, I wouldn't look twice at this style, but lately I've been drawn to it again, and the little pot is rather cute ... and perhaps a perfect spot to stash a couple of cookies before my kids eat them all ;)
Having said that, it made sense to pick up this two-cup tea pot ... again in brown.  I've had my eyes peeled for a nice-sized pot to make two cups of tea for me during the day.  Most of the pots I've come across are fairly cheap looking and ugly.  I do have a nice large insulated stainless steel mug with a lid which I use regularly, and I can make good tea right in the mug and it stays hot for over an hour.  But sometimes I want to use the nice pottery mugs I have, but don't like making tea in the pottery mugs.  So this small pot fits the bill perfectly, and I've used it numerous times already ... love it!
So all in all, some nice finds at the thrift store, and I was pleased that I didn't bring anything home that I didn't absolutely love ... don't you find that sometimes you just can't decide whether to pick something up or not?  Invariably I regret having brought too much home, and although it's inexpensive, it still takes up space, which is at a premium at my house. 
But the "icing" on the cupcake came when the mail was delivered later that afternoon, and I received my surprise prize from the lovely Hazel at Cupcakery!!!  Hazel, this little package couldn't have come on a better day :)  It really gave me something to smile at, and your little note was so funny.  I have never received anything from Ireland either, and it just made me feel very special to receive these lovely cookbooks from you ...
For those of you who follow Hazel's blog, you'll know that Hazel has a wicked sweet tooth and loves to bake ... especially cakes.  These two books do not disappoint!!   There are beautiful photos through both books of all the amazing (and rich!) cakes.  I mean just look at that cupcake on the cover!  The ingredients are surprisingly straightforward, and most ingredients you'd have in your cupboard already.  I can't wait to try out the recipes, and my family has chosen their favourites for me to try too. 
Not only did Hazel send the books, but she also added these adorable little cupcake boxes ...
I use this same idea to give cookies as gifts, so these little boxes will certainly come in useful ... and they're just so gosh darned cute!
So a HUGE thank you Hazel, for the lovely surprise from overseas, you really made my day better!

Thanks for stopping by!
PS ... and this makes up my 4 Happy Things from 52 Weeks of Happy

Monday, April 22, 2013

52 Weeks of Happy / Week 3

Well, I'm already, at week 3, starting to scramble for this post.  It's not so much that I'm not finding things to be happy about, it's more that I don't always have my camera handy to capture the moment.  My camera is not a pocket camera, and I don't have a camera on my phone (because I don't have a cell phone).  So this is what I came up with:

1.  A little cottontail rabbit who has been visiting my backyard throughout the winter.  I'll see how happy I am about this when I start to notice budding flowers nipped off.  For now he's only been eating the birdseed and the grass, but I'm watching you little rascally rabbit!

2.  A pair of wood thrushes that come through here every spring.  They don't stay, as they prefer the woods to my town yard, but I do enjoy seeing them if only briefly. 

(I must apologize for the bird photos in today's post ... I snapped them all on the same early morning last week and the lighting was not very good, so they all turned out slightly blurry)
3.  This robin who is building a nest in our white pine.  Such a sloppy nest with long strands of dried grass hanging down, but it's nice to know they are back again.  They built this nest last year in the same spot.
4.  And lastly, this little master of disguise ...
Can you see the little brown creeper?  He's a bit blurry in all the photos too.  Compounded with the fact that the light was poor, he would not sit still for more than a second.
I'm amazed at how well this tiny bird blends into the tree bark.  He's similar to a nuthatch in the way he walks up and down the tree trunks finding lots of little bugs.  I only noticed him when I saw a slight movement on the tree trunk and I knew exactly what it was.
And although the weather has been up and down to such extremes last week, I'm happy to say that I was able to sit outside on the patio for a brief moment yesterday (until a swarm of bugs drove me inside!).  My chair has frost on it this morning.  We had to drive through SNOW on Saturday to take my daughter back to university (it had even settled on the ground!!), today will hopefully be better and we're already sitting at 3'C ... practically a heat wave ;)
Thanks for stopping by!
Linking up with Jen and 52 Weeks of Happy

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Yarn Along

Still working on the cushion cover for my daughter.  I have 6 strips completed, but I'm not sure exactly how many strips will cover the cushion form.  Of course, I ran out of the pink and green, but came up with another couple of colours that hopefully will work (turquoise and orange).  It would probably go together a bit better if the pink and green weren't so vibrant, but we'll see what happens ...

Currently reading 'A Summer of Permanent Wants' by Jamieson Findlay.  Picked it up at the thrift store a couple of weeks ago, but haven't gotten far enough into it to decide whether I'm liking it or not.

Linking up with Ginny's Yarn Along over at Small Things.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

52 Weeks of Happy / Week 2

So.  Four things that made me happy this past week.
1.  Wooden spools of thread found at the thrift store ...

2.  Vintage buttons & snaps still on the cards ...


3.  Cody after a muddy walk and subsequent bath, all fluffed , dried and silky soft ...

4.  Snowdrops surviving the snow ... which is thankfully gone ... again!
Joining up with Jen and 52 Weeks of Happy
Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

April Snow Brings ?

This is the view outside my front door two minutes ago

More Snow!!  Can you believe this?! 

I tossed extra birdseed & stale bread out for the birds to help them cope with today.  It was supposed to be freezing rain (which isn't much better),  and "heavy at times" this afternoon ... but snow?! 
I was going to stop and trim some pussy willows from a tree I passed yesterday, I think I'll just stay indoors now and pull dog and knitting into my lap to stay cozy.
Hope it's green where you are!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Knitting & Reading

I've wanted to join up with something for some time now ... something like a swap or a link to share some of my similar interests.  So today I've decided to link up with Ginny of Small Things and her Yarn Along, posting what you're currently reading and what you're currently knitting.  Easy enough, although I don't always have something on the needles, nor do I always have a book that I'm reading.  But these links are nothing if not inspirational to get a person's mind clicking away.  Gives me a purpose and a reason to start (and finish!) some projects :)
Today on my needles is a new project I've started for my daughter.  Her grandmother (my MIL) made a quilt for her last year, and my daughter wanted a new pillow to go with it.  The quilt is quite colourful ...

I've been wanting to knit this cute pillow for some time now, but couldn't think what yarn to use for it. 

This is from a children's learn-to-knit book, "Knitting for Children" by Claire Montgomerie.  The suggested yarn is cashmere merino silk (pretty nice yarn for a children's book!).  I thought it would look nice in cotton, but I didn't have enough in my stash.  And since I'm trying to use my stash yarn to contribute to the Stash Buster Challenge at the same time, I decided to use up what's left of two balls of merino in bright pink & lime green.  The girl's room is lime green, so these colours will look great.
I've only finished one strip of the pillow so far, and I'm fast running out of yarn!  Of course, I had to buy a larger pillow form than the 12 x 12" form they suggest, so my strips have to be a bit longer.  I may have to dig a little deeper for some more yarn to finish this off.  I had hoped to use only these two colours, but we'll see.
I was at the thrift store last night, and although I didn't see any good canisters for tea etc. (husband breathes sigh of relief!), I did scoop up this book ...

It's a children's book (gosh, my whole post is related to children's crafts & books!).  A long (long) time ago, my school teacher read this book to our class, "Beautiful Joe" by Marshall Saunders.  I loved this book, but I never had it in my own library.  I still remember how I was struck by the fact that it was written in first person (or in this case "first dog"), which I thought was so interesting and more intimate (I still prefer books written in first person).  It's quite harsh in the beginning of the story, and it's a wonder my teacher thought to read it to us, but the whole class enjoyed it.  So when I saw it on the shelf last night, I just bought it without a thought.  So I'm reliving my childhood at the moment :)

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Tea Party Tuesday

My parents always kept their tea in a little tin, clearly marked 'Tea'.  And when that tin split apart after much use, they didn't miss a beat and used this one instead.

They were a practical sort of people, and you can see where they wrote 'Tea' with a marker under 'coffee' just in case there should be any question about it.   I have cookie cutters in it now.  It was part of a wedding gift set they received over 50 years ago ...

I always like to store my tea bags in a pretty container.  It just makes me happy to use a pretty pot to store my tea, just as it makes me happy to use a pretty tea pot or tea cup.   I started off using this small storage pot. 
It used to hold cookies (as big around as the jar).  It holds a nice number of tea bags, and I've used it for many years.  I could be happy with just this pot ... but ...
I also like this blue & white striped mug from my parents.  My dad had it shipped over from England with a few other pieces when his mother passed away.  It's cracked, so I can't use it for drinking tea, but I didn't want to part with it, and I wanted to use it for something ...
So I fill it with tea bags too ... but still ...
I then found this odd tiny tea pot(?) at the thrift store. 
Since it matches my little theme here of blue & white, I decided to toss a couple of tea bags in it too ... and then ...
On the weekend I picked up this good-sized pot specifically for tea!  I've seen this same pot on the shelf for a good number of weeks now, and I think it was waiting just for me.  It was terribly dirty with a messy sticky kind of dirt, but I cleaned it with boiling hot water and lots of suds and it came out sparkling.  But now what?

Do I keep adding to my tea storage containers, or do I restrict myself to just one.  hmm  I should just stop picking these cute little pieces up at the thrift store is what!

How about you, do you store your tea in one specific pretty pot?

Linking up with Sarah at Chantille Fleur and Tea Party Tuesday!

Thanks for stopping by!

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