Thursday, July 30, 2009

Un-wilted Blooms

It being the end of July, we are having our first 95 degree, hot, humid day. Pretty nice since it is coming at the end of what usually is an unbearably hot one.

So to celebrate the end of the July, and the end of my two month-long seminars, I present to you unwilted flowers in our garden... which won't be so perky at the end of today.


our butterfly bush

tiger lily


Mr. Lincoln rose

Golden Celebration roses

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Let the Cooking Begin

This weekend I have about 70 people coming to my house for a bbq. Yeah, you read that correctly: seventy. 7-0. One more than 69. There will be much cooking at my house this weekend. Thank goodness I have Hurst Street staying with me for the month. Not to mention my wringer: The Italian.

We have a great menu all ready to go: beef bbq, Aunt Carol's oatmeal cookies, Mammy's Pound Cake... and anything with salt, cuz I have to have some excuse as to why I bought my salt bowl (in Canterbury, UK , nonetheless!). You reach in and grab as much salt as you want and what you don't use, you can throw back in!

The bowl is made in Canterbury, England by the sweetest man named Richard. His shop, called Canterbury Pottery, is right off the city center, very near that famous church some of you might have heard of...When we were in the store, he was commenting that he hoped no one would be in the store at 3:00 pm so he could listen to his favorite radio program! Richard has been a potter since, well, all of his life. He learned it from his mom-- kinda like how I learned to cook from watching my mom. If you get to Canterbury, go to the shop. But if you are in DC this weekend, don't come here. I already have too many people coming over...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Lethal Mixture

(crazy t.v. announcer voice)

"Hi, Boys and Girls! Welcome to Will and Miriam's Backyard Darwinian Nature Show! Today on the show, we show how this:

and this:

do not mix. And by mixing I mean, an *alive* mouse does not survive when a *hungry* hawk is around...."

Um, yeah. Will came home and apparently our sharp-shinned hawk had been back visiting our yard and scooped up the mouse for his lunch. However, it was interrupted, and Will found a half-eaten mouse draped over the fence. And, apparently, it was too gruesome to photograph. And apparently, if you have lost something in our trash, right now is *not* the time to go rooting through the various trash bags in our bins...

On the plus side, free extermination!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Gardens in Photos

The Herb Garden, with basil and tomatoes

The Victory Garden, with peas, beans, nasturtiums, squash,
peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, and carrots

The Fig Tree in the Upper Garden.

Carrots, grape vines, rosemary, and squashes in the Upper Garden.

Mini green beans in the Upper Garden

Ripening tomatoes in the Upper Garden

Jalapeno peppers in the Upper Garden

Dill and marigolds in the Upper Garden

New Garden Friend

We have a new garden friend...We discovered him yesterday in the wood pile underneath the feeders. We moved the wood pile, but we didn't find his home. He is coming to munch on the seeds, just like the squirrels and the doves, which cannot sit on the feeders.

For a mouse, he is rather big. Almost rat-size, but still definitely a mouse (his tail has fur on it, that is how we know). Jackie Kitty is stalking him. But he is a bit too fast for my geriatric kitty.

He is rather cute, so long as he stays outside. He comes into the house, then we might have a problem.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Will has had a big few weeks: Two milestones reached within 3 weeks. He is only acknowledging one of them (I hope that it is the marriage and not the birthday...). To celebrate, I made him lamb chops, leeks, sauteed veg, garlic bread, and asparagus-- served on our new china. Fiona and Charles helped celebrate. And then the crowning achievement: A Steamed Pudding, complete with golden syrup and Happy Birthday candles.

And NO birthday is complete without Kelly Cupcakes, made to order (chocolate cake with chocolate icing, vanilla cake with vanilla icing, chocolate cake with vanilla icing, and vanilla cake with chocolate icing.) (Yes, she made Will all four types because that is how lovely she is.) Her cupcakes are delicious and nutritious...sorta.

I love you and wish you all the happiness in
the world.

Evolution of a Steamed Pudding

House Guests

We have house guests for the month of July. They seem to be enjoying themselves. They are checking out our new cooking utensils, pots and pans, and Pryex tops. I seem to have passed approval on my organizational skills, as soon the pots and pans were replaced by ...
...the hammock. Because after a while, inspections are boring, but swinging is always fun.

Back to the Garden

It is about time I let you know how the garden is doing. It was such a rainy June, not to mention that we were in England for most of it, that the garden is only now really growing now that we are in July.

We do have scarlet runner beans! Well, it is more like bean, but still it is very exciting.
We have spent the past few weekends mulching-- 39 bags and counting-- and weeding. The figs are ripening and the few tomatoes we have are still pretty green. We are about to tent the upper garden as the birds are just as impatient as we and keep pecking at the figs and tomatoes. Rotten birds. We have started a second round of sugar snap peas and our great potato experiment *may* have failed. The plants themselves are super tall- like 5 feet-- only our mounds are about 6 inches... ahem. Not being here in June meant not keeping up the mounding. Next year, we will actually dig a pretty deep trench for the potatoes and not disappear to get married. Still the potato flowers are quite pretty!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Ashes

The Ashes

So once again England and Australia are competing for the Ashes (a three inch high wooden urn that contains burnt ashes, surely the smallest trophy in sports) Five, 5-day test matches of generally high drama.
The first test in Cardiff ended in one of the most exciting draws possible. England hottie Collingwood (according to Miriam) batting for 6 hours against hostile bowling to save the match from certain defeat.

Regardless - I know few of you are interested but for a bit of a taste listen in to the TMS (Test Match Special) commentary for while. They are an entertaining bunch and its well - free - so you have no excuse.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Hauss Invasion

We came, we saw, we conquered, and England survived....

Water Maze

At Hever Castle, there was a fantastic water maze with a "mountain" in the middle that one is trying to reach. Annabelle and Will both think that they know the way...

Chloe and Brando are already there waiting for you to reach them.

And Mom, Matie, and Diane (and a rescued Brando) are waiting for the rest of us to make it out alive!!

Hever Castle

Hever Castle, near where we were staying, was the seat of the Boleyn, originally 'Bullen' family. It began as a country house, built in the 13th century and converted into a manor in 1462 by Geoffrey Boleyn, who served as Lord Mayor of the City of London.

The original country house timber remains can still be seen within the stone walls of the fortification. Some time after 1505, the Boleyn family moved in, and Anne Boleyn,
her sister, Mary, and their brother, George, although probably not born here, did grow up here for a time. Anne was eventually sent to the Netherlands and then to the French court for her education from 1513 to 1521. In 1521, she was brought to the court of King Henry VIII and Queen Catherine of Aragon, where she caught Henry's eye and caused a a whole lot of mess. Anne married Henry in 1533, and after several still births and one little girl (Elizabeth I), Henry grew tired of her and having no heir. Charges were trumped up, and Anne and her brother George were executed in 1536. When her her father Thomas Boleyn died in 1539, the property came into the possession of Henry VIII. He bestowed it on Anne of Cleves (wife number 4, if you wanna know) upon the annulment of their marriage (1540), but she probably spent little time there (although she did die there).

In the 1920s, the house was bought and restored to glory by the Astors (it is amazing what a bit of American money can do for an English house). They completely changed most things and so the house you see is really more 1920s than 1520s. But there are some amazing portraits and the gardens are beautiful (and the coy fish in the moat are ginormous).

Will and Kelly, fresh from America

Kelly, Diane, and Will in the yew maze

Triumphant Me in the center of the maze

Dad and Juliette in the water maze--if you stepped on a stone going the wrong path, water shot up. But if you follow spritely Juliette, who is too light to trip the water traps, you still get wet.
The Italian Garden boat dock... and us with lollies

The rose gardens

more of Italian Gardens