Sunday, August 29, 2010

Breathe, Freak, Repeat

Good morning. I'm grasping for time here. I don't know if it's the busy week I just finished or the fact that summer is running ahead of me and I can't quite catch up. The garden is a tangle of weeds. The heat is returning after a beautiful week of open windows weather. GG goes back to school on Monday and with that goes all the lazy time spent grilling and eating and talking about what we would do if. I love "ifs". If we had the time, if we had the money.... never a question of if we have the dreams. They're always there.

But it's Sunday morning and I'm reading blogs and baking our weekly granola ration. The house smells of cinnamon and toasting nuts and grains. As busy as we were this week we each got a pedicure and the Lab hit the groomers and returned to us sporting a pink bandanna covered with red strawberries. Don't you know she felt pretty. If she could have shaken her hair around her face she would have.

And as I refill my glass of iced latte I wonder am I just over caffeinated? Is it possible all will get done in a timely fashion and the to do list in my head is just a figment of espresso?

P.S. GG just got up and said for one shining moment she smelled the cinnamon and thought I was baking a pie, then she remembered I don't. Bake pies that is. Sigh.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

An Unmarried Woman

Celebrate good times, come on. After 2 months of faxing and phone calls and emails and notaries I have just finished signing the papers to refinance my house. Whenever the many papers referred to me the sole owner my name was followed by: an unmarried woman.

I loved this. An unmarried, home owning, hard working woman who sings off key and cooks to spread the love. An unmarried woman in a happy 5 + year relationship with a partner, not a parent or a child as so many of my former relationships have been, but a true partner in my daily adventures.

As we speak, my credit cards have a zero balance, my front lawn is mowed, my house is clean and I have little bouquets of flowers sitting around the to welcome the notary.

She's gone, I'm stress free and only one question remains. What's for dinner?

And for those of you who ask to see the house, here's an unstyled, as is , picture of the heart of my home, my favorite room, the kitchen.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Another Summer Sunday

Sunday morning was quiet and rainy. While the house slept I read blogs, put out vases of flowers and made another batch of lemon syrup. This time I used both lemons and limes and blueberries. The skies began to clear and soon we had a hot sunny Sunday.

We raced through an afternoon storm to see a movie and exited many hours and countries ( Eat Pray And Read The Book Instead) later to more bright sunlight and a cool breeze.

We ate outside, only the 4 of us and 1 dog, 1 cat: no flies,no shooing, no mosquitos, no cursing.

The watermelon was sweet, the moon was almost full and our guest did the dishes. Once in a blue moon, in the state of Virginia, all the stars align.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

L'Heure Bleue

After a Saturday of doing flowers for everyone else's dinner parties there was just one I wanted to attend. On a terrace in Brooklyn with Marie and Vince and this steak.

But since we weren't invited to partake we dug around in the fridge and made grilled cheese and ham sandwiches. We rubbed the bread with olive oil instead of butter and liberally sprinkled them with fresh herbs. We used a thick slices of mozzarella cheese, honey baked ham and a few thinly sliced gherkins. We had a comforting salad of butter lettuce dressed with our go to viniaigrette. 3 to 1 baby, olive oil to basalmic vinegar, salt and pepper. It can get fancier, dijon mustard for instance or fresh herbs, but it doesn't have to.

We fed the cat, we fed the dog, we fed ourselves. Appetites appeased we relax and wait. We've got the calliparca berries, they're got the beef. I think we're ready to make a deal...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Times They Are A Changing

The garden is reeling from an endless stream of 90 degree days. And not to be a total bummer here but the August issue of Organic Gardening magazine reports that this is only the beginning of hell on earth. Allergies will worsen, due to plants blooming earlier and producing more pollen. Mosquitoes, and other garden bugs will flourish. The plant damaging storms we have had this summer will be the norm. Winters will be wetter, summers drier. Ay ya yay.

But there are still and hopefully always will be sweet garden moments. Platter sized red hibiscus blooms, moonflowers on the chain link fence, firecracker and thunbergia vines twisting around the porch railings are but a few I found today.

And there are more late summer/early fall flowers to come, fall blooming anemones, pineapple sage, the callicarpa bush is covered in lilac berries, soon to turn a deep purple.

To continue to experience such lovely moments I will follow the advice in OG magazine. I'll use a rain barrel to collect and store water, I'll continue to mulch, I'll drop to my knees and weed whenever possible and I'll remove some heavy drinkers from my beds and replace them with more abstinent plants. And now I have another reason for creating the potager in my backyard: to spare my plants from heavy storms water-logging the ground. Small silver lining?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

This One's For You

The plan was simple. I would pack up a box of graham crackers, a bag of marshmallows and a bar of Hershey's chocolate and send it to Miss Pickering, along with a recipe for smores. I knew she and the Hound would think they were awful (ly good).

Then the temperatures dropped in England and she started talking about rain and jumpers, (sweaters to us on this side of the pond) and I started to worry, was it too cold, did she or didn't she have a grill, or whatever they call it in England. I dropped the whole idea.

But tonight GG wandered off in search of dessert and created a brilliant new smore. She toasted the marshmallow per usual BUT then she sandwiched it between 2 chocolate McVities digestives ("Tasty wheat cookies, half coated in chocolate").

An American classic updated for the lady and the hound. A little black dress with a brooch from Chanel, a pair of jeans with an Hermes scarf, a ball gown and wellies. German girl, putting the chic back in camping.

Monday, August 16, 2010

It's Inspirational

Such a lazy weekend. It rained all Sunday morning, into the early afternoon. This effectively cut out lawn mowing and much necessary weeding. Do I sound disappointed?

After coffee drinking and Sunday Times reading, errands were run and lunch consumed, a movie was required. We watched It's Complicated. I expected it to be pretty. I didn't expect it to be so funny or to have the best getting high scene I have seen for years. Also I didn't expect to be so inspired by the beautiful potager. And want to recreate it on a much smaller scale. But I was and I do.

Now I'm pretty sure if I go back a post or two I can read the truth about gardening in Virginia. I believe I referred to it as the tropic of Virginia. But like love, gardening is a triumph of hope over experience. And even though I am off to pull up my tomato plants and the beetle riddled eggplant and my peach has leaf curl. Though I haven't sown a single seed for fall crops yet.....

I want to cut down the strangely growing maple tree planted 6 or 7 years ago that shades too much of the back including the fig. Maybe take out the ga-huge Japanese pussy willow we planted from a rooted stem. And bring back the light, put in some raised beds, leave some lawn to be the paths between them. And give the plants some room to breathe. And the freaking mosquitos more time to get at me.

As long as Alec Baldwin doesn't show up naked I think I'm on to something. Or has the heat and Hollywood made me delusional?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Seize The Day

I'm sitting at the computer listening to rain, gentle summer rain. Not the intense storm of this morning that turned 7:00am into midnight, but a light. steady rainfall. The windows and doors are open, the pup is sleeping in the kitchen cool and content, GG is in the shower after a hot day in a client's garden and I'm just chilling.

But the happiest of all is the garden. Parched, strangled in parts by the dreaded bindweed, batted about by our recent storms, tonight it is at peace. Hopefully it is as content as I am. Right here, right now.

I just went to the door to let the cat in and saw my first hummingbird of the summer.

Amen. The End.

Monday, August 9, 2010

che - che - Cherry Bomb!!

Steamy. sultry, sticky, this is Virginia today. And tomorrow and the next day and...

What's a girl to do? Drink plenty of liquids, dress minimally and eat lightly.

I updated my lemon syrup recipe substituting limes and at GG's suggestion a handful of blueberries. 25 to be exact, I'm a counter. Can't help it. Double-de-elicious. Tart with a hint of blueberry and a fabulous color.

What I really want to talk about though ... This summer I've been giving into my cherry cravings. It seems like I never get enough but this year I've indulged.

Some years ago my friend Larry was celebrating a significant birthday and decided to do so in Italy. He invited myself and my then partner to come along. I have mentioned my flying issue before, but claustrophobia be damned when 2 weeks in Italy is on the table.

We started in Capri. The first day lunch was served poolside. I don't remember what we ate for lunch but I remember dessert. It was a huge bowl of cherries swimming in ice. I mean to say it was a really big bowl, of ice cold cherries. It was enough for all 4 of us, no holding back. All you could eat cherries.

I thought I will do this at home for dinner parties but alas this has never happened. Not enough fruit at one go. Loathe to share. But, as I've mentioned, it's a hot day and I have close to 3 pounds of cherries.

Let the feast begin...

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Moving On Up

I have a guest post up at the beautiful blog gardenrooms.

And I am chuffed, as one of the British bloggers says ( I've been saying this is my head ever since I've read it, I think it's a good thing). Actually, I just looked it up and it means to be quite pleased with oneself.

So maybe not chuffed. Delighted and flattered to have been asked.

Robyn asked me to pick a favorite flower and write about it. But you know me, blah, blah, blah.
So I picked a favorite flower ( literally) and made an arrangement.

Gardenrooms is usually full of beautiful garden images from all over the world and little talk.

Today we're changing that up.

Thank you again, Robyn.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Tropic Of Virginia

The day started out in innocence as so many of them do. The plan was simple, GG would drop me off by Key Bridge in Rosslyn on her way to the flower shop. I would walk over the bridge, through Georgetown for a haircut ( and a blonding, right?) at my friend Blaise's shop.

Skies were overcast which meant I could truly enjoy my stroll. I stopped and stuck my camera through the bridge railings to snap a picture of the boat house and another of some piles of boats belonging to Georgetown University rowing teams.

A quick stop for coffees, a few minutes admiring Blaise's window boxes brimming with petunias, potato vine and coleus and an hour of chatter and product later I was out on the streets. I window shopped, ran into old friends, hung out at the book store and waited for GG to pick me up after 1:00.

Drove home in the merciless sun, had a fast lunch of tomatoes and peppers from the garden with toast and cheese and were off to see a matinee of The Kids Are All Right. No better way to spend a HOT afternoon. As we drove the rains came, then the winds, by the time we were in the parking lot the trees were bending to the left, touching the ground in a yoga like position I can't hope to achieve. And the car was moving, swaying, about to take off into the sky. We drove into the parking garage, I could not even see where it was, we were in a whiteout.

15 minutes later ,the winds had died down and we raced across the street to find the theater black,actually all store fronts were black, we had lost power.

Back in rain, back in car, back home to cowering dog and pissed off cat, and no power. The limelight hydrangeas standing so tall and proud on Tuesday were broken and battered. The vegetable garden looked just as bad as the day before but now I can blame it on storm.

By 8:30 gave up on power, went to local karaoke bar, ate bar food and listened to some really appalling singers. Returned home at midnight, took dog for long walk, the power had returned and we slept in air conditioned comfort.

Staycations can be fun!

If a bit alarming.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

... August ...

To my surprise I'm having a staycation. What happened to the beach you wonder, or the mountains I was idly thinking about.

Let's start with sick dog and BIG vet bills. But she's worth every dollar we think and is feeling so much better she's up for jogging (with GG, I'm no jogger) and chasing after squirrels. She's off to the vet now for her check up and yearly shots, so add another big bill. Plus the other beach we visit doesn't allow dogs and you can't ask anyone, even a sister, to take care of a sick puppy.

So, we're home doing as little as possible. I wonder why it feels fine to lay around the beach all day reading and napping but at home you keep feeling like you should be doing something? We need a screened-in porch (you're allowed to do nothing on a screened-in porch).

The heat and humidity have returned with a bang so working in the garden is out. I have a few new plants to put in and several I'd like to see go but after an hour outside this morning I gave up and fled inside to a cool house. I did get a few shots of what's blooming, too bad I didn't take any of our vegetable garden. It looks like a field hospital circa World War 1.

Still the crepe myrtle is glowing (how far north does this grow? does it grow in Europe?) the limelight hydrangea is full and green, and the agastache stands tall through it all. And the pesky allium are blooming away as if they are a welcome garden guest.

I guess any plant, minus the bindweed, is welcome in August.

Monday, August 2, 2010


Did Georgia O'Keeffe paint them? If not ,why not?

They begin to unfurl at dusk. In the dark they're large, luminescent and fragrant.

In the morning they're folded back up like a fan. You think you might have dreamed them.

They then do it again, and again, till the first frost.

We planted them up the chain link fence. When life gives you lemons,eh?