Monday, May 30, 2011

Pretty Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas in a neighbor's garden ...




Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Week at the Beach, Part One

We just spent a week at the beach and it was heavenly. The weather was amazing: sunny, mid- to upper 70s and low 80s, good breezes. The house we rent is on the sound, which provides amazing sunsets in the evening, and the water is often calm enough for canoeing.



The wildlife sightings on this trip were amazing: from playful dolphins just feet from the water's edge at low tide, to a manta ray jumping out of the water. A five-lined skink (below) visited us on the porch, and we enjoyed watching a pair of young red-tailed hawks hover overhead and hunt in the brush for mice (and were lucky enough to see a catch). One day, I became aware of a bird singing its heart out, perched in a small cedar a short distance from the deck. We grabbed the binoculars and were thrilled to discover it was a painted bunting -- a first-time sighting for both my husband and me! 



Paddling back into the creek and marshes, we saw all kinds of birds: a great blue heron, a little green heron, beautiful white egrets, ospreys (my favorite bird of prey), pelicans, clapper rails, sandpipers and many others.



We take beach vacations as much for our dogs' sake as for ours. The girls love the beach! Phoebe is especially keen on swimming and fetching sticks from the water, followed by a good roll in the sand. She also enjoys short rides in the canoe and is always ready for an adventure.



Winnie will swim too, but she's more interested in keeping an eye on the comings and goings of people and their pups on the beach. She also tires more quickly than her sister. Life is good at the beach. Already I can't wait to go back.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Strawberries

One of our favorite spring activities is to go strawberry picking in May. Each year we pick five to eight gallons of gorgeous, sweet, red berries, most of which go in the freezer for use throughout the year in breakfast smoothies and frozen drinks (strawberry daiquiri, anyone?). Recently, one evening after work, we went to the farm and had one of the most delightful strawberry picking experiences that I can remember. The weather was perfect and the berries were especially lovely, plentiful and sweet. It was such a peaceful way to wind down after a busy day at work. We went home with five gallons -- Paul picked three and I picked two. He is faster, but I had to stop every now and then to take photos!


I love making desserts with fresh strawberries. Here are my favorite Everyday Food recipes using fresh strawberries: strawberry shortcake and strawberry icebox pie. 







Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Visit to the Dairy Farm

We love goat cheese, and our favorite comes from Goat Lady Dairy, a small regional dairy farm. Recently the farm had their spring open house. The goats and kids are so sweet and friendly with people because, as I learned, they are bottle-fed from the moment they are born, allowing them to imprint on humans. The farm also has a nice variety of chickens, an organic vegetable garden, ponds, meadows and 200-year-old log buildings. The farm's three important missions are:
   1. To supply fresh, seasonal, local food
   2. To provide education about local food, soil ecology, organic production and farm biology
   3. To provide community outreach through community-supported agriculture (CSA)


Here are some photos I took during our visit.

A sleepy baby goat

                    
Honeybees play an important role on the farm

A young helper in charge of the hen house
holds a beautiful Golden Polish 
What a face!
The largest of the male goats, who are kept separately from the females

A highlight of the open house was the goat cheese tasting! From a Camembert to an earthy smoked cheese to spreadable cheeses in flavors ranging from orange to roasted red pepper, all were amazingly delicious. We left with two rounds of a cheese called Sandy Creek which is marbled with grapevine ash, and two containers of spreadable goat cheeses, one jalapeno and one basil and garlic. When we arrived home, we enjoyed our cheeses with some crackers and Riesling wine on the front porch. It was a perfect end to a delightful day.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Irises

Our irises have bloomed, and a bee came to visit. 



See him under the petals on the left?
He crawled into each flower to get to all the good pollen.




Our lilies are also getting closer to blooming. So far the rabbits haven't devoured all the leaves like they usually do. Our next door neighbors have bunnies nesting in their backyard, so we'll have a few more of them frequenting our yard before long.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Antiques Festival


We recently attended one of our favorite antiques festivals known for its high-quality merchandise -- no flea market items here! We always manage to bring home at least one treasure. Before I show you what we found this year, here are some snapshots from the event. 







One of my favorite booths was Dad's Follies. They specialize in antique ice cream and chocolate molds. I learned so much about these fascinating collectibles during a chat with Cherie Baughman, one of the owners. I discovered that prices are  dependent on several factors, including the amount of detail in the mold, where and when it was made, its size and, perhaps most important, its subject matter. One of the rarest items in their inventory is a chocolate mold in the shape of a Zeppelin.

Dad's Follies is so well respected for their unique collection, they have been featured in Martha Stewart Living magazine. Cherie's mother even appeared as a guest on Martha's television show. Below are some photos of their amazing treasures. That's me next to the huge rabbit-shaped mold, priced at over $40,000!


Some are made of pewter. The smaller ones can be used as butter molds. I particularly liked a small, pineapple-shaped one.


Clown molds ... cute, or scary? Depends on how you feel about clowns, I suppose.


Santa in all shapes and sizes. These would be perfect Christmas chocolate molds!


Now, a look at what we brought home with us. At the lovely booth of Victoriana, I puchased two whicker-wrapped bottles.


I saw several Bakelite displays this year. I've you've been following my blog, you may have read a post about my Bakelite collection. I can't pass up a Bakelite display! Betsy Harris of Red Barn Antiques really knows her stuff. I've purchased from her before. She has a lovely selection of bangles, earrings and other pieces.




I chose this unique Bakelite bangle that looks like three stacked together. The color is actually more of an olive green that it looks like in this photo.

At another booth, I enjoyed a chat with Joanie Garbee and purchased a pair of butterscotch-colored Bakelite earrings and the wonderful, two-piece bar tool set with Bakelite handles shown below. They will come in handy for making cocktails this summer!


My husband found a selection of prints from a book on hummingbirds marked "J. Gould and H.C. Richter, del et lith." Englishman John Gould (1804-1881) was one of the most respected ornithologists and bird artists of all time. The illustrations of various hummingbirds were all so beautiful that it was hard to choose. At $10 each, we should have bought more than two. 

Paul also spotted a narrow, rectangular, green McCoy planter with a grass pattern on it. It's in perfect condition and I snagged it for only $15.

All in all, it was a wonderful show, an absolutely gorgeous day and we came home with some great finds. What a way to spend a Saturday!

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