Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Great Dixter Cookbook

Tuesday evening, as a birthday celebration for Gretchen, she and I attended a dinner at one of our favorite little stores.  The evening meal was based on recipes from Aaron Bertelsen's new cookbook, The Great Dixter Cookbook.  Aaron is a gardener and a chef at Great Dixter, one of the the great homes and gardens in the English countryside.  

It was especially wonderful that Aaron was there to sign his cookbooks and partake in the meal.  The meal and evening was very special, though I wished Aaron had spoken more about his experiences gardening at such an iconic garden!  

I'm still reading my way through the cookbook but the recipes served from the book were delicious, yet simple and attainable.  I think the book might be worth getting just for the Kale Pesto recipe alone!  One of the things I love about the book is that along with recipes, he includes notes about planting different vegetables, aspects of working in the garden each season, and basic cornerstones of gardening (tools, watering, etc.).  It seems to be a very practical book in addition to serving up seasonal, and delicious, recipes! 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Trying New Sports

As many of you know, both children started at new schools this year.  Harris, surprisingly, began at Waldorf (where Grace went for 4 years) and Grace started high school!  While they both are happy with their schools, it has been a bit of a learning curve for both children and has taken a bit for them to settle in.

One of the things we love about both schools is that the sports programs are inclusive and open to all. While I realize that for many families a rigorous and competitive sports program is desirable, the more laid back approach has worked well for our family.  Harris ran cross country this fall and played basketball this winter.  I'm not at all sure that Harris would have chosen to try basketball if he hadn't been at Waldorf, so it's been a great learning and growing experience.

At Grace's school, the students are required to participate in a sport, something Grace doesn't have a lot of experience in as she'd been so heavily involved in ballet.  Grace chose to try field hockey. She was incredibly nervous coming in as a freshman and trying something she's never done before, but the girls on the team were very supportive and she had a lot of fun being a part of a team.  Plus, it was a great way to meet new people!

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Making of a Garden

This past fall, we spent time prepping for the new potager garden.  My vision is for vegetables and flowers to grow together in the garden and for it be to beautiful, not just functional.

We chose a spot for the garden that is sort of tucked away but also close enough to the house that we can jot out in the middle of cooking!  I"m calling it the secret garden because, eventually, I would like to grow a hedge along the front hiding the garden from view.

The spot where we've placed the garden was previously field that had been allowed to slowly get overgrown so we've got our work cut out for us getting rid of invasives and spindly, woody plants. Bryce spent a lot of time mowing and cutting to clear the space!

Once we had moved the old chicken coop to its new location (it will be our garden shed) we were able to plot out the garden beds.  We chose to make the beds 5x5, and while they aren't strictly raised beds, they will be slightly elevated as we are adding lots of materials to improve the soil.  Speaking of soil, I did a soil test, acquired from the county extension, and am happy to report that the soil is better than I could have dreamed!

We have 24 squares of garden beds and 4 beds of peonies!  In order to get the beds ready for plants this spring, we decided to do a version of lasagna gardening.  Using our plethora of moving boxes, we pinned cardboard down, then layered leaves, soil and cow manure on top of the compost.  The hope was that by spring the cardboard would have disintegrated while also taking care of any grass and weeds underneath.

I spent an entire day trying to figure out exactly how we were going to plant the garden.  You guys, it's so ambitious for our first year.  I'll be pretty happy if we get some tomatoes and beans!

We have a significant deer problem in our area so there was no question that we needed a deer fence. This was put in a couple of weeks ago and now I can rest a little easier knowing that hooves are not trampling my little buds as they awaken from their winter sleep!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Happy Spring

Just a quick note to say Happy Spring!  Our snow is receding, leaving massive puddles in its wake, and a few of the bulbs I planted in the fall our popping their heads up.  I can't wait to see the Narcissus and the bluebells I planted.  I'm just really hoping and praying the deer don't trample them!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Little Notes

Dear Snow,
Where were you all winter?  Your showing up right as we were all excited for spring sort of threw us for a loop.

Dear Bryce,
I like a guy with style and a good fashion sense, but I'd rather a rugged, outdoorsy type any day.  You fit both nicely.

Dear Grace,
We miss you.  Please come home, Florida can't be that much better than this frozen tundra, can it?

Dear Rosie,
Bryce is so surprised at how I've taken to you.  He says he never would have guessed I"d be a dog person.  I told him I'm a Rosie person.

Dear Harris,
Please don't ever stop being you, you make me laugh.  Hard.  Without you this family might take themselves way too seriously.

Dear Frog's Hollow,
Every time I get frustrated and overwhelmed with you, it makes me feel ever so much better to go for a walk through your woods.  Now, can you talk to the multiflora rose please?  Don't tell it I said so, but it's gotta go.

Dear London,
I can't wait to meet you in a couple of months.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

LIbrary Shelves

We might not have much furniture in the library but as soon as the walls and floors were done, I was ready to unpack my books and special pieces.  Unpacking them felt like meeting old friends again; there is just something about books that make a room feel like home.

The bookshelves were already in the library when we bought the house, but they seemed to me to be lacking a little something.  Fortunately, I have a father-in-law, who can do just about anything, who made an arch to put at the top of the bookshelf.  I think it made all the difference and I love them!


The previous owner had painted the sides of the bookshelves the wall color but we painted them white so that they stood alone as built in shelves.

My Mom came over and helped me put our things on the shelves.  You might notice that I left space on the shelves as I want to have room to add or change things as time goes on.  I'm not a big lover of buying items to style shelves and I can honestly say that every item on the shelves have some sort of meaning whether it is something the children have made, books or art that we've collected on our travels, or just something that is special to Bryce and I.  I did make room at the top for my old Martha Stewart magazines, dating as far back as 1996.  I don't keep my new magazines but the old ones are like gold!  

That little frog on a lily pad was the topper for Bryce's groom's cake!

We don't have a playroom at this house like we did at the other house as the children have outgrown that need.  Therefore, I put the children's chapter and picture books on these library shelves because I want the children (or any children who might be visiting) to feel free to grab a book and plop on a sofa to read!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Library Walls and Floors

The library's walls are painted and the floors are refinished!  I love the way the dark green walls look against the white woodwork!  This room has 7 windows so it gets tons of great light which means the dark green doesn't actually read as dark at all.  I really wish I could get my photos of this room to match how it feels with the new color and lighter floors.

We also had the floors refinished in this room and the foyer.  Most of our downstairs floors are not original to the house, they are old but not that old.  In fact, they actually drive Bryce a little crazy because they have a V groove which he is sure is harboring dust and such from the past 200 years. It was an actual sticking point for him while considering the house!  We ended up going with a lighter stain (Fruitwood) which our floor refinisher said he had never used in his 30 years of refinishing floors!  That made me so nervous but I love how they turned out.  They look like farmhouse floors to me now.  Even Bryce says he likes them better so I consider that a win.  The pictures below are the best examples of the before and after.  They are lighter and less red.

Now I can't wait to get the furniture in...

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Floret Farm's Cut Flower Garden

I cannot remember how I learned of Erin from Floret Flowers but she's been on my radar for a long, long time.  I love her beautiful flowers but more than that, I love how she so freely shares her knowledge of everything flower related on her blog.  And her knowledge is vast and deep.

She's an inspiration to me for sure and I looked forward to the release of her new book, Floret Farm's Cut Flower Garden: Grow, Harvest, and Arrange Stunning Seasonal Blooms, with much anticipation. You guys, it's so, so good.  The pictures are gorgeous and it tells you everything you need to know about flowers- whether it be for your home garden or a commercial endeavor.  If you love flowers, this is a must read.  I can only imagine that I will keep coming back to this book time and time again.

The runaway success of her book, it's in its fourth printing and sold out on many sites, speaks to the power of flowers.  It's so easy to dismiss flowers as frivolous or a luxury but I would argue that they bring much needed beauty and joy into today's world!  Thank you to Erin for reminding us all in such a beautiful, approachable and generous way.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Grace's Fort

Grace has made herself a fort at the base of one of the more spectacular trees on our property, by the creek.  She keeps adding bits and bobs each time she ventures down to it, her most recent addition being a small little fire ring!  I remember spending hours with neighborhood friends building forts on an empty lot and am thrilled that our children get that chance too!  Here are some shots...

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Blood Orange Thyme Birthday Cake

This year Grace did not have a big party but we did have family over for a birthday gathering where we ended the evening with a delicious birthday cake.

Grace loves the naked cake trend, and the idea of florals or herbs being in sweets so the Blood Orange Thyme Cake from the cookbook, Layered by Tessa Huff,  was a good fit for her.  The cake was a brown sugar buttermilk cake and I think it might be my new favorite!  It had so much more flavor to me than a white or yellow cake.  Plus, it was perfectly moist.   We also loved the thyme crown on top!

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