Monday, August 18, 2014

Secret Gardens

Saturday was a day just for me, with Nick off on an adventure of his own.  I took the chance to visit a local estate which is open to the public for tours of their gorgeous gardens.  As soon as I got out of the car and saw the entrance tucked into the trees I knew I was in for something special. A gazebo  lead the way through to a boardwalk that meandered through a thicket of trees.  Up ahead the grass began underfoot and I rounded the bend, coming upon the most amazing conservatory I've ever seen.  Half on land, and half jutting out onto a  lily pad pond, it stood in full glory. I was completely smitten...
From there on the walking paths lead me through.  It never really seemed to stop.  Gravel paths and dirt alike winding here and there.  The amount of effort that must go in to every area is evident.  From the greenhouses to the outdoor gardens, I was just amazed.  It really felt like a fairy tale. I could totally picture my five year old self being completely infatuated with this place, hiding out under weeping branches playing with fairies.

The best part was in was just so peaceful.  There were other people here and there - it was a gorgeous day - but everyone was quiet, observing, and I appreciated that.  The whole place felt well cared for and thoughtful, with a humble vibe.  Less manicured than say, the botanical gardens, but in a really great way.  


Just perfect.  I left feeling totally pleased that I had happened upon such a fabulous place all on my own. Very magical. I'm already looking forward to returning during the changing seasons.  Don't you love when things surprise you in such a wonderful way?

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

How to Press Flowers Using Books

As the summer season begins its final weeks, the gardens will start to peak and I can already feel the sadness that comes with saying goodbye to the blooms.  The most classic way to "preserve" the memory of summer flowers is to press them.  There are many beautiful flower presses available for purchase, but a very simple way to do this at home is to press them between old books.  You may use salvaged books and press them directly between the pages, or you can slip paper into the pages to protect the book.  I went the direct route as these are books I picked up for 50cents each last fall.
There are varieties of flowers that press better than others. Flowers that have thinner petals are great for pressing because they tend not to mold as easily. Flowers with flat faces, like daisy and violets press well as they tend to lie flat, face-down, to the page.  Narrow flowers like lavender also hold up well when dried.  Flat leaves like clover and ferns do very well also and add a nice bit of green.  The best way to start is to remove the stems and unwanted leaves of larger flowers (like the daisy) and to place them face down on the paper making sure all petals are straightened and lying flat...
Leaves may be placed flat as well.  Be sure not to overlap any of the specimens and to leave plenty of room between each one.
When things are placed and ready, gently close the book and lay flat.
Whether you've used one book or several it will be important to apply some steady pressure onto the book to keep the flowers and leaves tightly pressed.  Placing the book under a heavy stack of other books works well, as does a nice rock.  For a stack of books, an old leather belt is a great way to cinch them tightly together for safe-keeping.
After about 2-4 weeks your flowers will be dry.  What kind of crafts and things would you make with your pressed flowers?  I can't wait to see how my batch turns out.  I have a feeling the ferns will be my favorite.

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Cape

Just a few photos from our trip to Cape Cod.  Another wonderful week...we dream of this place all year long, and as soon as we get home, we start dreaming of next year.  It's that special. Lobster, low tide and a beach bag full of shells- it doesn't get much better. Just going through the photos only a few hours after unpacking makes me ache to go back...

Happy summer...soaking up what's left, I can already feel the excitement for fall starting to creep in!
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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Zucchini Carrot Bread

The vegetables in our garden are surprising us daily.  The Cucumbers have been growing steadily and we eat them almost everyday in salads or alone as a snack.  The other thing that does really well for us is zucchini! We've been having several meals a week with zucchini steamed, baked, grated into turkey burgers, etc. It's always extremely delicious, but nothing beats freshly baked zucchini bread.  I had some local carrots left over this week as well and decided to work them into a simple  bread.  It's delicious, this bread makes a perfect breakfast, snack or dessert- I think you'll love it.


Ingredients:

3 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1tsp nutmeg
3 eggs beaten
1 cup vegetable oil (or 1 cup applesauce)
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini
1 large grated carrot

Preheat oven to 350. Sift all dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  Mix sugar into dry mixture. In a separate bowl beat eggs and mix with oil (or applesauce).  Grate zucchini and carrot and mix with egg/oil mixture.  Combine wet and dry ingredients, and mix together well.  Pour into two loaf pans and bake for 45 Minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.


We are having a house guest this week and I thought this would be a great breakfast treat to leave out.  This bread has just the right amount of sweetness without being too much.  I love finding different ways to use the things that come out of our garden, things we've grown and are so thankful for.  Have a wonderful weekend!

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Wildflowers

Everyone's been a bit under the weather around here lately, including myself.  A round of summer colds. That didn't stop me from clipping a few perfect wildflowers to mix in with some red Echinacea blooms from our garden.  The white Queen Anne's Lace has always been one of my favorites with its intricate teeny tiny details.  The wild Burdock, with its velcro heads, is a strong sturdy addition to an arrangement.  It holds the more spindley wildflowers up in a nice, natural way...
I started with the Burdock, then added the Queen Anne's Lace at varying heights, ending with the three bright Echinacea flowers stuck in at random...
I just love the way the bright Echinacea pops against the delicate Queen Anne's Lace.  I didn't use any green filler leaves because I wanted the details of each flowers to be able to breathe.
I didn't get the irony of the Echinacea flowers and our colds here until I sat down to write this...perhaps its immune boosting powers can be absorbed through the appreciation of its beauty? Wink wink.
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Monday, July 21, 2014

Make a Shell Mobile

I think I've mentioned in the past that I have a habit of collecting shells everywhere we go. We have jars and bowls filled with them, and while they are lovely reminders of trips past, they tend to add up.  I thought it might be fun to try a new way to display the group I collected this month on my little trip to East Hampton.  Unfortunately I was at a loss for a thin piece of drift wood, so this small branch had to suffice. Here's how simple it was:
You will need:
-A handful of flat shells
-Medium sized stick or piece of driftwood
-Fishing line (mono-filament)
-Scissors
A lot of times, these types of shells will already have small holes it them. For those that don't:  Use a small drill bit or dremel to carefully put holes near the top of each shell.
Lay your wood and your shells out in a basic pattern. I chose to make three unevenly spaced rows.
Beginning with the first row, fasten the fishing line onto the wooden and then work down, tying double knots through each shell hole until you reach the bottom.  Repeat on all rows and trim excess fishing line.  
When done, tie an extra piece of fishing line to either end of your stick for hanging.
 I love that these sun bleached clam shells are hanging on the wall now to remind me of roaming the sandy beach.  What are some of your favorite ways to display trip mementos?

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