Friday, July 31, 2020

Five on Friday: Last Day of July and Poppies

" Through the dancing poppies stole
A breeze, most softly lulling to my soul.

We have arrived on the last day of July, and what a beautiful week it has been. Lots of sunshine and even some hot days—even reaching, for us, a heady +30℃ (86℉)! We'd go out in the garden early in the mornings to tend to weeding, tying up loose vines and stems, as well as transplanting struggling annuals that needed a patch with more sunlight to properly flourish.

Sometimes when a person plants in the early spring, you just don't know exactly how tall a neighbouring plant will bloom or spread out, suddenly crowding or shading what had seemed the perfect spot for some sweet annual. And for some reason, I think because we're close to home this summer, I've been more aware of the needs of my little flowers. Some of them require more elbow room—a little social distancing of their own. And some really must have their day in the sunshine, although I don't have complete control over that, but I can give them room where, when the sun does shine, they'll be able to turn their faces upward and take it all in.

In the afternoons, we'd sit in the garden, reading, watching the squirrels (we see two now), listening to the birds vying for spots at the feeders. The season is already changing, the birds always give the cue. Their songs change, their busy nesting and feeding young shifts to training and teaching them to find their own food. We watched one young crow begging on the fence : But, Mom, it's so much easier if you just put it in my mouth. And, she says : the food is here in this tray, eat it!  At least, that's what we imagined was said.

Last evening, the crows were gathering in flocks to roost for the night. That creates a slight shiver if I let myself think about what that means. In not too many weeks, they'll be heading southward. BUT, before we let ourselves go there, let's stay put right here in the deep of summer—it is still July for a few more hours and summer for a few more weeks.

Because the weather has been so lovely, yesterday I took a short trip to visit my mom and sister. We had a delightful social distance visit sitting in Sis's beautiful garden, which included seeing this amazing patch of poppies in the middle of her hubby's vegetable garden. I was smitten. She said, "All this gorgeous beauty for the cost of a couple of packets of seeds. The best $2.49 I ever spent." Should you be interested, the name of these poppy seeds are Falling in Love, and you can order them HERE.

" Summer set lip to earth's bosom bare,
And left the flushed print in a poppy there.
I will touch a hundred flowers
And not pick one. "

" As for marigolds, poppies, hollyhocks, and valorous
sunflowers, we shall never have a garden without them,
both for their own sake, and for the sake of
old-fashioned folks, who used to love them. "

" When in these fresh mornings I go into my garden before
any one is awake, I go for the time being into perfect happiness.

In this hour divinely fresh and still, the fair face of every
flowers salutes me with a silent joy that fills me
with infinite content ; each gives me its color, its grace, its perfume,
and enriches me with the consummation of its beauty. 

All the cares, perplexities, and griefs of existence, all the burdens of life
slip from my shoulders and leave me with the heart of a little child
that asks nothing beyond its present moment of innocent bliss. "

American writer Celia Thaxter often mentions poppies in her charming classic An Island Garden. You may remember me writing about her book earlier in the spring - you'll find the post HERE. I think she especially loved the Poppy, sometimes even calling the white ones the Bride in the garden. Ms Thaxter often waxed eloquently about the flower's delicate beauty, mentioning how they require a certain soil and how they lift their heavy furry heads towards the sun when they are ready to open, how much care is needed in transplanting or when picking blossoms to bring indoors. 

Here, listen to a couple of passages:  
Then, with what fresh wealth of color and perfume the garden will meet the resplendent sunrise! Every moment it grows more and more beautiful. I think for wondrous variety, for certain picturesque qualities, for color and form and a subtle mystery of character, Poppies seem, on the whole, the most satisfactory flowers among the annuals. There is absolutely no limit to their variety of color. ...
On one low bookcase are Shirley Poppies in a roseate cloud. And here let me say that the secret of keeping Poppies in the house two whole days without fading is this : they must be gathered early, before the dew has dried, in the morning. I go forth between five and six o'clock to cut them while yet their gray-green leaves are hoary with dew, taking a tall slender pitcher or bottle of water with me into the garden, and as I cut each stem dropping the flower at once into it, so that the stem is covered nearly its whole length with water ; and so on till the pitcher is full. Gathered in this way, they have no opportunity to lose their freshness, indeed, the exquisite creatures hardly know they have been gathered at all.

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(Contented sigh), what a lovely thing to read on this balmy last morning of July.

Now, I know it's odd to wrap up on a completely different note, but I had to share something else that is on my mind. We'll be attending my beautiful niece's wedding tomorrow, but rather than in person, due to Covid-19 protocols, we'll all be gathering via Zoom to witness the happy couple exchange their vows. We'll party together another time. Congratulations to you, Chiante and Dawson!💞🥂🎕We hope it will be a day filled with special moments for you both even though it's all upside down. We send our full heart of wishes for love and happiness today and always. The Lord bless you both. We love you so much! xoxox

Wishing you glimpses of heaven in unexpected places.
Happy weekend.

Heart Hugs,

Monday, July 27, 2020

Monday Medley

" In summer, the song sings itself. "

I sit here at my desk on this early Monday morning. All is quiet in the neighbourhood, even the birds are quiet. The sun has risen. No big fanfare this morning, only a hint of peach on the horizon. The sky, cloudless and clear, is a rare treat - for our summer so far has been mostly of unsettled weather and lots of rain. This week, however, we are promised clear skies and sunny days throughout. My struggling sun loving plants shall finally have their day in the sun. Bloom, roses, bloom!  

Today's post is a miscellany of this and that....

A stunning sunrise

Earlier this month, I had the delightful opportunity to write a guest post at InScribe, in which I share an extraordinary experience that happened early one morning some years ago.
"Some of the sweetest, most thrilling, poignant moments of my life have been when God has spoken directly to me..." CLICK TO READ MORE.

Treats in the mail

Beautiful cards arrived in the mail the other day from two lovely friends this week: Barbara in Cornwall, UK, and Judith in Ontario, Canada. Each contained a treat: Twinings Spiced Camomile & Vanilla 'Moment of Calm' tea from Barbara. I'm looking forward to that calming cuppa. And a fragrant handful of lavender seeds from Judith which made the package smell so good. I have the envelope of lavender sitting by my bedside, and in the night I catch a sweet drift of its scent - I'm sure it sweetens my dreams. A huge thank you and heart hugs to you both.

Reading on the deck

Between the rain, we've had some lovely moments to be outside. And when we're not pulling weeds or deadheading spent blossoms, we sit on the deck listening to the birds, breathing in the fragrance, and letting our eyes feast on what's colouring our world in the garden.

And we read.... I'm happily making my way through some of the Miss Marple mystery novels; Penelope Lively's reflections on gardening, art, literature and life in Life in the Garden; and I am now looking forward to a book from the library I had on hold, Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy. I brought it home and put it in isolation for a day.

Sweet peas at sunset

This sweet pea is just starting to bloom. What a jewel of a colour. I usually think of pastels for sweet peas. This is a deep ruby or grape, depending on the light. I couldn't get the camera to capture what I could see with my eye as it glimmered in the evening sunlight. The fragrance is strong and sweet.

" I could never in a hundred summers get tired of this. "

With a little of this and a little of that, I've cobbled together a wee post. I told my sister I should have been a shoemaker - haha. I hope you enjoyed your visit. I also hope you have a beautiful week ahead. Keep safe and well.

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Heart Hugs,

Friday, July 24, 2020

Grilled Summer Fruit With Piquant Drizzle

" Awaking wonder is a continual pursuit and engagement.
While life seems to be the same day after day, I am seeking
to create interest, memories, comfort, beauty, and as much
joy in the menial as I am able. "

These days we take the sun when we get it. We've had many rainy, unsettled days, so we can't really plan ahead - we don't know how any day will turn out, no matter what the weatherman advises. As I say, we take it as it comes, reveling in those 30 minutes here or half days of sunshine there, before clouds gather and overtake again.

There was one balmy afternoon earlier this week that was perfect - we planned to eat on the deck al fresco. Which always adds a certain something lovely that can't quite be put into words. I made teriyaki chicken breast, jasmine rice, asparagus, and grilled stone fruit. It's the stone fruit recipe that I want to share with you today. Such a simple dish, but its mix of tart and sweet, along with the unexpected bite of black pepper gives it its unique deliciousness. Certainly makes my tongue glad to be alive.

You can serve the grilled summer fruit as a side dish with chicken or pork, or as a refreshing dessert afterwards. Believe me, you'll want to double or triple the dressing recipe. And, you'll want to have enough fruit so that each serving has a sampling of whatever stone fruit you have on hand: peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots.

Grilled Summer Fruit

Serve as a side dish or dessert
Grilled on BBQ
(or broiled in oven, if the weather's inclement)

Stone Fruit
Halved and pitted
Note: firm fruit holds up best for grilling

Balsamic Lime Dressing
In small bowl, whisk together:
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon hot sauce (opt)

1. Spray grill rack or pan with cooking spray.
2. Place halved fruit on rack or pan.
3. Grill or broil for 3 minutes on each side.
4. Remove fruit from grill or oven, place on serving dish.
5. Drizzle dressing over fruit.
Serve as a side dish with chicken or pork.

Or, if you eat it as a dessert, place grilled fruit in individual bowls,
add scoops of ice cream, and generously drizzle the dressing over top

Original recipe idea found in
Cooking Light, Healthy Summer Grilling Magazine, 2009

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Hope your weekend is off to a good start.
I plan to be back on Monday with a Monday Medley post.

Wishing you a beautiful day. Keep safe and well.

Heart Hugs,

Photo Credit: Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life, 2020