Wednesday, March 30, 2011

1001 And One Nights

It's Mothering Day in England this Sunday and the florists are busy.  The lovely Miss P., needs some distraction from the many men who visit her shop and the orders she's busy filling in vintage trophies and bowls. So, like Scheherazade, I shall tell a tale.

Miss Pickering wants to hear more about the olden days, and especially  more about the goat.  Luna was the goat's name. Surely her very name gives you a clue to the life I was leading.  Unless you were floating around a ghost town with a tiny gold star in your nose and flowing skirts, eating masses of brown rice and vegetables you probably wouldn't name your goat Luna.  You might not even have a goat or a dog named Chutney.  You probably wouldn't indulge in smoking various herbs or drinking teas made from cacti.

You probably wouldn't travel to Indian reservations with a long haired dentist who traded his services for rugs, blankets and said cacti.  Or fall off a horse in front of an entire tribe, who never cracked a smile. At least not in front of you.

And I don't think you would have run off  to Seattle with 3 friends who were on a carrot juice fast and turned a little more orange every day. Well, you may have, but you would have left a note.

When you got bored with their diet you might not have left them and hitchhiked through the abandoned mountain towns of Nevada, to arrive at the Renaissance Festival in California.  And, you possibly may not have gotten homesick and left the musicians and goldsmiths and wine drinking denizens behind to flee back to Jerome. 

But if you were me you might have done all this and more. 

Reading this in the cold light of day I'm left to wonder: am I the only formerly wild child now living happily in blogland with her collection of vintage Hermes scarves  and her compost pile?  

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Love Letters

Back to Sunday's brunch.  The food was delicious, half of it was cooked by our friends and neighbors.  Who brings a fruit salad and a big bowl of garlicky hash browns and a platter of crispy bacon to some one else's party?  Who brings a plate of cheeses and 5 different kinds of bread, a tomato and mozzarella salad and does clean up?  Who bakes her famous birthday cake and does clean up?  Who brings 1/2 of our dirty dishes across the street to her house so we don't have to run the dishwasher twice?

 Apparently our friends do. No wonder we can't keep the numbers down, we know too many fabulous people.

But we did cook too.  And for you who asked, here's the granola link.  And the spinach and cheese strata though I changed the cheese to a mixture of gouda and feta, plus the parmesan.  I winged the sausage and onion strata by using the same amount of milk and eggs as in the spinach, but added a pound of mild Italian sausage, switched the cheese out to a jalapeno jack and added 2 bunches of thinly sliced scallions.

And I might have gone over the top with the oven baked french toast, but we ate it all didn't we.  I used vanilla as a seasoning instead of the booze.  I don't drink and I don't think you all missed those 2 tablespoons of alcohol.  I think you were happy with your mimosas and bloody marys. And adding those blueberries to the maple syrup as I was warming it up?  A moment of genius. I probably saw on somebody's blog.  But it was genius, I admit.

So thank you all for coming and cooking and cleaning and making us laugh.  It was a big old love fest.  And I love you all for making it happen.

And I love all of you who participated in Flowers In The House.  It's always such a treat to go to your homes and see what you do to make them beautiful.

xo Jane 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Power To The Flowers, Power To The Flowers Today.

Welcome.  Pardon my raspy voice, I've got that cold thing going on.

Funnily enough, right after I posted yesterday morning, it stopped snowing, the sun came out and it turned into a beautiful day.  Unfortunately my cold didn't magically disappear also. I meant to do the snow and cold be- gone spell.  Damn.

But I could still taste the food  and smell the flowers.  I had enough voice left to laugh at peoples stories and tell a few of my own.  And I had enough sense to happily remain seated while all the "guests" did the clean up.

We had our own cherry blossom festival happening on the buffet table, locally grown, thank you very much.

There was one perfect stem of clematis on the sideboard.  Thank you California.

But the best of all were the pink perfection camellia blossoms from our garden mentors farm.  Thank you Geoff and Chuck. 

Now I'm going to make myself another pot of tea, curl up with the computer and come and visit each and every one of you for a dash of healing spring or autumn flowers.

What's blooming in your house?

We'll keep this going through Tuesday in case any of you delinquents, I mean busy people didn't have time today to snap a picture of some flowers. GG's suggestion.  Not her words:)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Snow Falling On Pansies

Ah, the rites of spring.

Today is out of my control.  GG's brunch went from a manageable size to 18 adults and 2 children.  It will now be standing room only.
I have just come down with a cold.  And it's snowing.

When I come to your houses tomorrow perhaps you'll offer a little tea and sympathy?  Or at the very least a kleenex?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Begins And Ends With Jar

Bloggers on this side of the pond  and beyond use their Bonne Maman jars to great effect. They store kitchen staples and craft items in the jars with the picnic tablecloth lid on top.  

Me? I fill mine with yogurt and the fruit of the day and schlep it to work along with a bag of my granola.  Then with phones ringing and drivers hanging over my shoulder looking at today's orders, I happily break my fast.  

Why does food taste so good eaten out of a jar at work?  One of life's little mysteries.

Totally fortified, I then start to fill an assortment of bowls and jars with  flowers.  Hopefully assuaging others' appetites as well. Both for the scent and the colors of spring.  

Unfortunately I have no control over the weather.  Can't help you there.

See you Monday.  Let's let the sunshine in.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

We're Gonna Have A Block Party

Neither rain nor snow nor sleet nor sun keeps me from  having fresh flowers in the house. So forget weather permitting.  Come Monday let's do another  round of "In The House- Flowers".

I seem to suggest this the last Monday of every month so let's make it an official proclamation:

The Last Monday Of The Month Is Flowers In The House.

Let me hear you say yeah. Yeah?

I wanna hear you say yeah.  Yeah?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Weeds And Seeds And Leaves

Endless hours in the garden on Monday.  Today I am bent over like a creature from a fairy tale, but the garden is ready for Sunday's visitors, two of whom will be our garden mentors.  They asked if they could bring anything.  Do you think a new peach tree is too much to ask? 

We planted seeds in little peat pots; vegetables, herbs and annuals.  I have never had much confidence in my ability to grow from seed, but how can you be a blogger and not try?  We'll see ladies and gentlemen.

One of our favorite boys from the hood left us two weeks ago and moved into the city. We miss him terribly and had him over for dinner tonight to remind him what he left behind.  He may have bars and  bookstores, restaurants and insane carry out at his fingertips but who'll cook him chicken browned and braised over a bed of vegetables, with delicious green salad and crusty bread.  Nobody but us.  Oh and maybe his mom....

Who's sorry now Jeff?

Monday, March 21, 2011

March 21, 2011.......Spring!

After a long run of sunny spring days it was a shock to be awakened at 6:30 this morning by thunder and lightening.  In my mind thunderstorms are more appropriate in the late afternoon or evening, preferably after work and when the dog has been walked.  Then, let it rain.

But today is the second day of my weekend and I won't have to stand at the bus stop wearing my navy wellies and carrying my orange umbrella.  And in honor of the first day of spring it will be 68 degrees here.  Wet but warm, I'll take it.  We can leave the door and windows open and smell the earth.  

 Sunday we woke up exhausted.  GG's birthday was celebrated to the fullest.  Only some serious espresso got us out the door and walking the dog.  But while we had been eating and laughing and singing, spring had been working it.  All over town trees are blooming, magnolias both star and tulip, the early cherry, and all the others are heavily budded and good to go. 

And back at the ranch the first of our tulips were open, lettuce seeds were starting to sprout and strawberry plants are showing green.   

As I've been writing the rain has stopped, the sun came out, birds are chirping and the cat is meowing to get outside.  As am I.  Ballet flats off, wellies on, I'm outta here.

xo Jane

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Blue Skies Shining On Me

Since you've been gone.....

A small patch of tete a tetes have begun to bloom, the pussy willow is at its peak and the front beds are mulched.  The peonies are showing their red tips, the ornamental plum is budding and the Carolina jasmine is almost ready for blast off.

I've eaten 2 loaves of Irish soda bread and pounds of cabbage and rutabagas and carrots and corned beef  (thank you Anne), gotten the hair cut in preparation of a weekend of partying, and spend every moment I could outside in the sunshine.

I've begun reading Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton ,ordered 2 gardening books by Alys Fowler and stayed up too late every night, getting up too early every morning.  Daylight Savings Time is not my friend.
Today is GG's birthday, her 30th.   

The Lab and I have planned a dinner out with friends and family, then some dancing and karaoke with more friends at our local  gin joint.  Sunday, maybe a little time in the garden then off to a matinee of  The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas performed by the Gay Mens Chorus.

The party will continue all week and culminate on Sunday with a brunch at home and fireworks in the rose garden at the White House. 

Enjoy your weekend, I'll be back with pictures and a funny story or two.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

For Japan With Love

 I'll be participating in The Bloggers Day Of Silence on March 18th for Japan With Love.

Please donate what you can.

I'll be back on Saturday.

xo Jane

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Me And My Dwarf Forsythia

Oh I feel such the dilettante gardener.  From the top of my needs to be cut soon head (tomorrow) to the toes of my scuffed gold ballet flats ( not gold heels as suggested by some of you) I stand in awe to the other 100's of gardeners who posted both inspiring pictures and the Latin names of their blooms yesterday on May Dreams Gardens Bloom Day yesterday.

There I was happily prattling on about my pansies and a single snowdrop that survived  a massive burial in my garden years ago . And I'm still sporting my December header. Shame,shame,shame. I did not show well. So next month, on the 15th of April, I promise to show up in a pair of wellies with dictionary in hand.  Maybe I'll wear glasses.  Maybe I'll steal one of  Webb's camellia pictures and use it as a new header:)

But let me tell you who did shine.  Travelers, my insurance company, came through.  Roof leaked on Thursday, roofing company came in the  rain and replaced shingles. On Monday afternoon, a lovely adjuster arrived, took some photos, admired the house and garden.  By Monday night a check was cut and in the mail.  When does this happen?  I've always heard horror stories from people attempting to get reimbursed from their insurance companies.Thank you Travelers, faith affirmed.

I'm hoping once the attic drywall and insulation is replaced,the kitchen ceiling repainted and we have a visit from an electrician, maybe, just maybe, we can begin to rebuild the Send Jane and GG to England Fund.

If not, we can always pour a cup of tea, tilt our heads back and while admiring our freshly painted ceiling think of England.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Thumbelina Dance. Thumbelina Sing.

Two, count 'em, two sunny springlike days here in the state of Virginia.  Sunday we worked an unknown amount of hours in the garden.  The front beds are ready for their spring mulch and I'm ready for 2 more Advil.  Today, I planted the pansies, violas and some seeds of lettuce, arugula and radishes.

 I should have been clearing  out attic space for the insurance adjuster to walk around, but it's hard to stay inside when the sun is shining. Luckily she was our kind of woman.  She kept exclaiming over the forsythia, the pussy willow, how clean the front beds were.  And how cute the house was.

Apparently there will be no problem with my claim.  With all the devastation in Japan, I felt somewhat silly complaining about wind and water damage. But I'm trying to keep calm and carry on. And it was the next right thing to do.

There are only a few flowers carrying on in the garden.  One hellebore is finally in flower, a lonely snowdrop has pushed up in a bed after being buried alive for 5 years after we took a tree down and of course the violas were ready for their closeup 5 minutes after being planted.

 I was not ready for any kind of photo op.  Today's  work ensemble consisted of the thermal shirt I slept in, an old pair of  GG's rugby sweats and gold ballet flats???  And yet in the garden I am more of myself  then when I am groomed and perfumed  and off for a night on the town.

Peace.  Find it when and where you can.

I understand there is a Bloom Day party somewhere in the world on the 15th.  If I can find it I'm taking my  pansies and going to visit.  Will you be there?  I promise to clean up a little.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Further Perils Of Pauline

The good:
They returned.  And along with dinner they brought a bag full of chocolate.  They knew who they were and they understood from all of your comments what they had to do.  I thank each and every one of you, (and them) my cupboards are momentarily, comfortingly full.  So is my refrigerator but that's a whole different rant, er, story.

The bad:
Saturday was a warm, sunny day.  Late afternoon at work I walked outside to find the Lab sprawled out on the sidewalk , eyes closed, utterly content.  I sat down on a  concrete bumper in front on her and was petting her and crooning one of my silly songs  when suddenly there was a big bang.  It could have been our Big Bang because the car to our left, not 2 feet from us, was the cause.  The tire exploded, the quarter panel blew out , there was smoke from under the hood and bits and pieces of the car were raining all around us.

I had no idea what had happened.  Until GG and the rest of the shop came running out, we continued to sit.  I think we were totally stunned.  I thought someone was blowing up a balloon and they had overfilled it.  They thought it was a gun or an engine exploding.  We were all wrong.

But we are all right.  Neither of us were hurt, no one lost their hearing, I was just a little dirtier than usual when leaving work. I wondered if I would feel a big rush of gratitude down the line but that hasn't happened yet,  just a small steady stream of happiness.

Today looks like it will hold more good.  The birds are singing, the sun is shining, I am pecking away at the keyboard with  all 10 fingers and we will be off shortly to buy some pansies.

It wasn't our time yet and for that I am also very very happy.

xo Jane

P.S. My hair was blown straight up over my head and I looked like a cartoon character.  Wish we had a pic of that:)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Favorite Read Of The Week

" Black is a brilliant, unexpected choice in a child's room.  It looks cosy and prevents pattern from feeling twee."

Living Etc.  March 2011


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head

So many possible titles for this post.  Into every life a little rain must fall?  Just look for the silver lining?  A house divided?

Remember GG's daring do?  Well that took care of that until the next storm with 80 mph winds.  We arrived home to find the tree branches full of.....guess. Blossoms? No? Shingles? Yes.  Monday the roofer arrived, bid accepted we settled down to wait for the workmen. But first, today, came the rain.  A steady rainfall that brought us 3 inches outdoors and some indoors .So while Mr. Johns made the loo sparkle, the kitchen ceiling was weeping.

A few early morning polite phone calls brought the roofers out in the rain to cover up the holes.  Another call has landed me an appointment with an insurance adjuster on Monday.  Manners seem to be an effective method of achieving desired results, manners and a sense of humor. Never discount the value of a few laughs.

Kitchen and bathroom have been cleaned and a few pictures taken.  We have kept the original tile installed in 1938.  Though my first wallpaper choice was a black and white butterfly print, when the book fell open to Retro Starburst, we were sold.  Just a tiny bit of metallic glimmer and some strokes of black to tie it into the tiles.

And a vase of frittilaria to remind us all the April showers are on the way, eek.

What's that Irish blessing about a roof over your head? Could you say it for us?


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

2Girls 1 Lab & A Sports Car

My good friend Rina picked me up from work today.  She has a two seater sports car.  I had the Lab at work with me today.  She weighs 70 lbs.  It was a rather uncomfortable ride home with a car full of nervous dog.  She had no place to go, no place to hang her hat so to speak.  I was also a wee bit nervous because she kept resting her weight on one paw delicately placed near my pelvis.  We proceeded at a decorous pace.  I tried to keep my mind off what would happen when we arrived home and I opened the car door.....Finally after a very long ten minute drive we were home, I opened the door, picked her up and placed her on the ground.  I heaved a huge sigh of relief and came in to make us an espresso, caffeine being so calming to the nerves.

I was excited to be home though, for after several months wait, my bathroom was going to be wallpapered.  Mr. Johns had hoped to finish it today, but when I came home I found a wall full of buckets and ladders in the dining room. The prep work on my teetiny bathroom was more extensive than expected.  But the plaster is drying, the walls are stripped clean of 2001's paper and he looks good to go tomorrow.

So I guess I'll be taking the Lab back to work with me.  I hope for a roomier ride there and back.  And some pictures to show you of my Retro Starburst  walls. 

The post title was a lot sexier than the contents,yes?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Etiquette 101

When having the ex and his new to the house for brunch, remember to ask a few questions in advance.

For instance, how tall is she? This is a key question, especially if you stand  5' 2 "( and a 1/2 inch)  in ballet flats. You will find yourself  being dwarfed  by a 6 ft man, your own 5'10' girlfriend  and the new who is 5'8" but wearing boots, which added inches. You might develop a crick in your neck if the goodbyes go on too long.

And please remember to ask for any food likes, dislikes or allergies.  Then you won't be sauteing up a pan of delicious sausages from The German Store in front of a 3 month pregnant vegetarian.  It was touch and go there for a minute folks.  But if you open windows and doors to the great outdoors, the scent dissipates quickly and stomachs settle.

You can move the plate of thinly sliced Swiss ham to the other end of the table and focus on granola and berries and cheeses and rustic farm breads, soft boiled eggs and a quickly prepared plate of tomatoes and avocados.

Though the most important questions are asked face to face.  When is the baby due? September.
And will you come back to visit soon?

Our family is getting bigger.  We are thrilled. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Back By Popular Demand

Hey guys, it's me, Nika!  I heard Miss P. was asking for me ( preen) or was it the hound? I wish but there is chatter in the canine community that he doesn't swing my way, if you catch my drift.  There is also talk of pictures that prove this theory, but I haven't been allowed to see them.  Yet.

Now back to me.  What's for dinner is a BIG question in our house.  I ask it first thing in the morning, after breakfast, as soon as one of them gets home and while walking them.  I walk them in the morning, before and after dinner.  Sometimes it's late,10:00pm, and I would rather be sleeping.  But they get all bundled up with hats and gloves and scarves on, Jane even bought a long sleeping bag to wear when it's cold ( she calls it a down coat, whatever), so how can I refuse?  They look adorable. Plus there are hardly any people about that late at night so I don't have to keep one of them at the end of a leash.  We call it AWOL, a walk off leash.  I worry they might run out in the street while a car is driving by, but so far they look and listen for traffic very well.   

Speaking of, I think I'd better take Jane for a walk now.  She's been working all day and by the time she gets home, all wired up from drinking a double shot latte at 3:00PM, she can be a little jittery.  And I have seen no signs of cooking.  This is all very worrisome.

So enough of this "what flowers do you have in your house stuff". I ask you.....what's for dinner at your house?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Further Signs Of Spring

We arrive at work red eyed and sneezing, the maples are budding.  Cool sunny days full of wind  are blowing the maple pollen about.  We unlock the door and enter the garden of Eden, pre apple.

  We walk into a shop full of cherry blossoms and pussy willows. There are saucers of oaxalis plants and buckets filled with ranunculus in every color imaginable. Vases of pastel sweet peas, cut hyacinths, and locally grown calla lilies almost make your teeth ache.

If it wasn't called work, I would think I had arrived in Candy Land.

P.S. Are you tired of looking at flowers yet?

P.P.S. I was totally knocked out by all the  people who linked up for Flowers In The House.  And I especially loved how everyone went around and visited one another and left comments and compliments, became followers and friends, welcomed new bloggers  and new to me bloggers to the community.  It's a big world out there.  It's nice we can make it a  closer one by sharing just a little beauty  and wit with one another. 

xo Jane