Saturday, July 19, 2014

Luscious Berries

The berries are starting to ripen!
One of the first and the most delicious
are the wild black raspberries.

Let's take a little walk in the garden
where these luscious berries grow. 

It is early morning and the haze
 from our devastating forest fires drift over the pass.

We have had record breaking high temperatures
and it has been very dry.

We stop to visit 'Angel Face,' a floribunda rose
 with a heavenly fragrance
and a lovely lavender hue.

We think of all those displaced by natural disasters,
war, famine, and poverty,
and we say a prayer of mercy and compassion.

'Nearly Wild' blooms nearby,
both along the rose arch in my commemorative garden.

This fragrant rose is also a floribunda and stays short and sweet.

The hydrangea are coming into full bloom now.
This one is very old and started out pink.

Now it has slowly been reverting to delicate shades of lavender and rose.

Both on the same plant which resides in an equally ancient half whiskey barrel.

All are growing in my commemorative garden,
along with my succulent Bird Bath Planter,
which is still growing beautifully after 3 hot summers
 and 2 very wet winters.

The plants sit on a thick bed of gravel, for good drainage,
and I fertilize with tomato fertilizer.

They seem to love it.
(I read that tip in a book on succulent growing)

I did promise you berries, so here they are!
These beautiful and wild black raspberries
decided they liked growing among my roses and herbs
at the base of my deck.

Who was I to argue?

Especially with such delicious offerings! 

Every year I wait with anticipation for these jewels of nature.

Delicate and sweet they are perfect to sprinkle
over Greek yogurt with a little cinnamon or nutmeg.

Whole grain crackers are a perfect accompaniment.

Have a bite!
Oh, such sweet delight!

A little cream for your tea?

This pretty little blown glass creamer was my Dear Mother's.

Every Sunday after church, when I was a child,
we went out for donuts, hot chocolate, and the Sunday paper.
We would eat the donuts overlooking a nearby lake in the center of town.

Then we would drive to my Mother's favorite shop
where my Father would buy her a little treasure.

This creamer was one such treasure.

When my Father wanted to 'move West' to follow his dreams,
my Mother left all that she knew to go with him.

She left her parents, 6 sisters,
1 brother, their families,
 and all their friends for the unknown.

This little creamer was always kept on her kitchen window sill
to capture the light and remind her of the life she left behind.

Now it is mine and the memories live on.

Now it is my little treasure. 

Another treasure that I found in a thrift store is this wonderfully illustrated book.

Filled with information about growing,
harvesting and cooking with all types of berries,
 cultivated and wild, and illustrated by the author,
 it is a lovely book.

Blue Stellar Jay feathers gathered in the garden, mark the pages.

I call this 'Still Life with Fuchsia' :)
The tiny blue bottle (which was also my Mother's)
 is embossed with 'Bromoseltzer -
 Emerson Drug Co. - Baltimore, MD'

My blue dishes are a combination of modern (Ballard Designs),
and vintage (Bauer, Franciscan Ware).

I have been collecting blue pottery for years.

But all good things must come to an end.....

Thank you for sharing the harvest with me!

Sweet, simple gatherings shared with Dear Friends.

I am sorry if I haven't been around to visit as often lately.

I am surrounded in clouds of chiffon and lace,

sewing for the wedding.

But whenever I need a little break,
a little inspiration,
a sweet friend,

I will stop over for a visit.


'If instead of a gem, or even a flower,
we should cast the gift of rich thought
into the heart of a friend,
that would be giving as the angels give.'
- George MacDonald -

'If a man could mount to Heaven
 and survey the mighty universe,
his admiration of its beauties
would be much diminished unless
he had someone to share in his pleasure.'
- Cicero -

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Sweet Journey

Hello, Dear Friends - Where does the time go? 
It is racing along and we are enjoying every moment
of these lovely summer days. 

Thank you for coming along with me 
as we take another country drive. 

Today we are going to visit with my two daughters. 
We have important pre-wedding plans
to discuss, (my youngest son is marrying his sweetheart this summer)
and it has been a while since we've been together, 
just 'the girls'. 

It is a beautiful morning for the long drive over
and the scent of fresh cut hay is in the air. 

We've had a long, dry spell,
with record breaking high temperatures.

It's been 'hotter than blue blazes', as my Grandmother Beatrice used to say.

Perfect for haying. 

Half of this newly cut field waits to be baled,
the other half is loaded and ready to go. 
The chain link fence runs along a dirt access road.

As we take a sharp turn,
we see the pumpkin patch neatly growing
at this beautiful farm

This farm hosts a harvest festival each fall,
complete with corn maze, U-pick pumpkins,
hay rides, and farm products and crafts.

A Mother and foal stand belly deep in lush pasture
 behind a sturdy barbed wire fence.
This is part of a large wetland pasture
frequented by elk in the spring and fall
on their annual migrations to and from the highlands. .

The rusty tin on the outbuildings reminds me of the stories
my Mother told of her summers spent
with her Scottish Immigrant Grandmother.

Her Grandmother lived on a farm in Vermont with a rusty tin roof.
Hearing the rain on the roof of her Grandmother's cottage
was my Mother's favorite childhood memory.

Well, maybe next to eating her Grandmother's home-made donuts!

We are alone on this newly blacktopped country road
 as we leave the foothills behind.

A gal could get a lead foot on a road like this....
Sweet hay scented breezes blowing our hair, long straightaway,

Deep blue horizon.......

But I know that 'Dead Man's Corner' is up ahead.
This innocent little farm road
takes a complete left bend.

Around a 10 mph turn, we see the last of the farmlands.

We stop for my youngest daughter, Jennie
 at her home near the lake
and then we continue on together another 15 miles
over busy roads and highways. 

Then back to the country again.
A Mother and her calf find a shady refuge from the summer heat.

We arrive at our destination - daughter Heather's -
to this welcoming oasis!

A beautiful table set for three.

A perfect summer meal of fresh fruit, quiche, and a refreshing citronella.

Served with smiles.
Heather on the left and sister Jennie.
Two sisters that shared a tiny cottage bedroom
growing up,
and still remain on speaking terms :)


The time flies by while we enjoy our delicious meal,
 catch up with each other's lives
and synchronize plans for happy events to come.

All too soon it's time to make the journey home,

although, there is never enough time spent together
 to satisfy a Mother's heart.

So with a wistful sigh I say goodbye
 and head towards home in the late afternoon sun,
carrying along lovely new memories,
and an armload of rustling bridesmaid dresses to alter :)

The setting sun paints lavender brushstrokes
across the face of Mt. Rainier,

leaving long shadows behind, as we travel closer to home.

We turn here, across from fields of gold.

Open the gate....

Safely home.

I hope you are enjoying these lovely summer days with family and friends.
Thank you for coming along on this sweet journey.

"The mountains are calling and I must go."
- John Muir -

Linking with The Run*A*Round Ranch Report - Good Fences

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Long Summer Days with Good Fences

I hope you are enjoying these long summer days, Dear Friends! 

Thank you for stopping by to visit me
in my little corner of the world
here in the foothills of Washington State. 

We are so far apart, yet so close at heart. 

Your sweet visits brighten my days, 

like the summer sun. 


The fields are full of golden grass, swaying in the breeze.
I love these long summer days.

This beautiful barn is on my way to the market.
I wish it were mine!
I would fill it with horses, not cows, and maybe a llama or two or three :)
I think I would add a couple of miniature donkeys, too.
Just for fun....

This beautiful entry is also on my way.
An elderly couple live here and the forested grounds are just full of flowers.
 They once operated a small Christmas tree farm.

Most of the trees are gone now...
but the last few look so lovely in the fields of daisies.

On my way home, I stopped for this pretty scene.
A vintage tractor and realistic scarecrow,
seemingly shielding his eyes while gazing at the view.

But I am in a hurry to get home, because....

My sweet Mr. has been hanging around here all week.
He has some precious time off.

We are having a 'Stay-cation'.
Getting some projects done
and enjoying these beautiful summer days.

We even managed to catch the sunrise one morning,
reflecting on Mt. Rainier.

Can you see the large glaciers?
These are thousands of feet high.

Mt. Rainier reminds me of a big ice cream sundae
 this time of year.

These hot summer days bring on rapid glacier melt.
The creek in the valley speaks in many voices
when the sun goes down
  in the silence of twilight.

We have been taking lots of walks together in between chores.
The dogs love to come along.
We like to see what is blooming...

Here we visit Sweet William.
These came from a packet of wildflower seeds.
Nearly 30 years ago!

I was a young Mother desperate for flowers
while we built our home.

I was so surprised to see these bright little pinwheels
in my very first garden.

They have re-seeded ever since
 and every year we look forward
to seeing their bright upturned faces.

The hydrangea are blooming, too!
 These are Nikko Blue and they love this shady, low spot
and have spread by themselves,
forming a hedge on each side of the picket fence.

Our bedroom window lies beyond with the unfinished loft above.
Can you see the saw horses and lumber in the window?

Every morning I take my own little walk with the dogs
 to fill the bird feeders and retrieve the newspaper.

Yesterday I spotted a coyote about 100 yds away,
 as I came around the bend.
We were equally alarmed -  both coyote and I,
and then it slipped silently away.
My dogs were oblivious until
we came upon the scent.

Off they ran, baying into the deep woods, but
they didn't run far, and came back panting,
sniffing the ground where this
beautiful wild cousin stood just moments before.

Miss Maggie has been on edge.
Here she thinks she 'hears something' and is on high alert.
So is Ling Ling.
Both stay close to the house,
 refusing to leave the deck.

The dogs have been on patrol.

The coyote is just doing her thing.

We respect all life. We adapt to them.
We are the interlopers, not they.

The Ocean Spray is blooming along the edge of the forest,
lighting up the recesses as we stroll on a late afternoon walk.

This native shrub has clusters of cascading white flowers,
giving the plant its name.

Here it is blooming with purple Fireweed.

The long, slender branches are extremely strong and were used by
our Native Americans to make spears, bows and arrows.

The birds are done nesting for the season,
except for this little fellow - a Spotted Towhee.
He has been singing in the trees by the deck
with his strange, reedy call.

He raids the porch lights in the morning for buggy treats.

He has found a juicy specimen.
He sat on this dead branch, calling away, bug in beak,
until his mate answered from her nest on the ground in a thicket.

Another late nester, the Western Tanager has chosen his territory.

I heard his chirping high in the tree canopy, defending his nest.
He came into view and I got this lucky shot
 as he scolded me loudly with short, piercing chirps.

These beautiful birds arrive only after their main food source,
 Red Elderberry, ripens in late June.

It is always a thrill when they finally arrive.

 In between walks and gardening,
while The Mr. has been playing Handyman,
 I have been playing house -
whipping up simple home-made meals
to enjoy together.

Broccoli Cheese Soup and Irish Soda Bread
is a favorite and easy to make.

I always make enough for two meals.

Salads are always wonderful with summer fresh fruit-
(this delicious recipe came from Kitty's Kozy Kitchen )
and includes watermelon and feta.

And Blackberry Crisp from our own wild berries,
harvested and frozen last fall.
It was a bountiful harvest.

This is such an easy desert and one that truly says 'Summer' to me!

Blackberry Crisp

Serves 6-8

Bake at 375 degrees - 35 -40 min.
 Buttered 8"x8" glass pan.

6 cups fresh or frozen blackberries
(no need to thaw - just cook 5-10 minutes longer)
1/4 cup sugar (or more if berries are tart)
1/4 cup flour
2 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 stick cold butter (8 tbsp), cut into chunks
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
(or 1//4 tsp cinn., nutmeg, and pinch of allspice)
1/2 cup oatmeal

 To prepare filling: Mix berries with 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup sugar until coated.
Spread into buttered 8x8 inch glass baking pan. Sprinkle with vanilla.

To prepare topping: Mix the 3/4 flour, brown sugar, and pumpkin pie spice together.
Cut in the butter, using a pastry blender, fork or fingers, until crumbly. Add the oatmeal and mix together. Spread topping evenly over berries in pan.

Bake uncovered in preheated 375 degree oven for 35-40 minutes
 or until berries are bubbly and topping is browned.

Let cool and serve it plain
or with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream
 for true decadence.

Will keep for 2-3 days covered and refrigerated.
Reheat each serving approx. 30 seconds in microwave.

So good!

After a long summer day of projects and chores,
we watch the moon rise
as we enjoy our simple home-made meal.

Watching as the sun once more reflects its rosy rays
on the snows of Mt. Rainier,
listening to the song of the river,
and grateful for this time to spend together.

Wishing you simple summer pleasures,
Dear Friends.

These summer days go quickly past,
we must enjoy them while they last.


Today I am linking with The Run*A*Round Ranch Report

Thank you, Theresa for hosting this fun Link Party!

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