Blooming-hills

Over a week has passed since our 2nd Annual Road Party and while the bubbly and food have all but disappeared, the memories and flowers linger still. 

This year we opted for a brunch event where we served our newly famous Belgian waffles with fresh whipped cream and fruit along with home made biscotti and thirst quenching Mimosas.

 

Our very own chef: Irwin   

We decided to utilize the porch and front lawn, which are both shady and cool during the early part of the afternoon and had an immeasurable amount of help from our neighbor Jeanne, who co-hosted the gathering as well as our good friends Marty and Robyn, who came for the weekend.                                              

 

 Jeanne, our neighbor and resident bartender

Our neighbors brought an array of epicurean edibles including scrumptious spinach and mushroom strata, spinach and feta individual spanakopita, a homemade peach cobbler, herb biscuits, parmesan rolls, a fresh blueberry pie from the local blueberry festival and bottles and bottles of Prosecco.

                                 

Lots and lots of Prosecco

 

Unlike an evening event, which allows for more time to capture the set-up pictorially, a brunch with a warm main course does not permit such a luxury, so we hope you will use your imagination.

What I was able to capture were the simple,colorful floral arrangements Irwin made from an assortment of flowers Jeanne ordered from a local farm.  The total cost for the flowers was a mere thirty dollars and we are still enjoying the blooms more than a week later.  Irwin employed an assortment of vintage pieces including a silver plated pitcher, a pewter pitcher, assorted glass vases and our personal favorite, a ceramic swan that Irwin purchased in Virginia last year.

                                                   

  

a pewter pitcher filled with farm favorites

 

 

A silver plate pitcher filled with a breathtaking assortment

 

the same pitcher over a week later 

 

a simple table set with a petite bouquet

 

the petite bouquet the following week

 

 

a beautiful swan

 

beautiful still

 Needless to say, a good time was had by all.                                                                 
 

                                      enjoying the afternoon

        

In our last post we suggested using found objects to hold candles for a little Midsummer Lights Dream. Found objects can also make interesting containers for flower arrangements, making every day a special occasion.  And this time of year the burgeoning plethora of wildflowers are wonderful additions to seasonal blooms.                                                                                                                          

  

Wildflowers, including Goldenrod

So, this weekend, purchase or pick some of this season’s best and fill your favorite containers.  Whether you are enjoying your time indoors or out,   surround yourself with the sweet bouquet of flowers and enjoy your very own Blooming-hills.

 

 

 

 

 


A Midsummer Lights Dream

Ah, the beauty of summer, with its never ending warm, sunshine filled days that entice us to take the long way home and drink in the cocktail of colors.  Where annuals and perennials conspire with wildflowers to present us with a symphony of sights that are in a constant state of transformation is where I have chosen to reside. In fact, I have become so enraptured with this season, I have all but forgotten to share it with you.

Bijou Blanket brimming with color

 

Fuchsia Zinnia

 

 

 Rudbekia, a staple in our garden

 

Queen Anne's Lace

 

 Periwinkle Wildflowers

 

‘Tis the season to bring the indoors out, and enjoy every moment from dawn till dusk and beyond.  So, as the sun disappears and gives way to the cool breezes that usher in starry nights, Irwin and I like to add our own brand of illumination: candlelight.

 

 

Breathtaking Sunsets

  

What can be more enchanting on a tranquil summer evening than the warm glow of candlelight?

 

 

Simply Enchanting

 

 

We know only too well how instrumental candles are in setting the proper mood either indoors or out during any season, but candlelight outdoors during summer is absolutely sublime.                                                                                                                                                          

            

A real Connection  

                                                                                                    

A star is born

It is the season of infinite possibilities so use your imagination.  Many found objects in your home can be the perfect vessel for a candle or tea light.  An old lantern that we purchased our first summer in the house sits along side an inverted vintage capiz shell lampshade that houses a candle.

Our 1st lantern, previously owned by Betsey Johnson

 

While we employ a variety of candles, we particularly love using tea lights because they are small and can be placed in a wide array of vessels.  Additionally, these short burning beauties are readily available and extremely inexpensive.  

Shades of light

 

We have a collection of glasses that we taped and frosted ten years ago for a family event.  We continue to enjoy them especially during the summer.

 

Ten years....and still going strong

 

And a vintage silverplate bowl we picked up at a tag sale many years ago has served a multitude of uses, most recently as a candle holder.

Vintage Silverplate shedding new light 

 

And until a better solution comes along,  it is absolutely necessary to integrate citronella candles into the mix.

 

 

Citronella helps take the bite out of a summer evening

 

The possibilities are endless and only limited by your imagination.  So make the most of every evening,

 

 Divine illumination

 

 

All Aglow

 

   

Moonlight

 

and this weekend, as the fireflies make their special brand of magic in the moonlit sky, make a little magic of your own and create a Midsummer Lights Dream.

 

Pure Magic

 

 

A Labor of Love

The last hurrah of the summer season with its long lazy days, its bright blue skies and sumptuous outdoor meals has finally arrived.   For as long as I can remember (and on a good day that can be quite an extensive period), I have approached Labor Day with a mixture of excitement and dread.   The excitement of beginning of a new school year, with infinite promise and expectations, tempered by the impending dread of early darkness and frigid days.

Though it has been several many decades since I endured tropical temperatures in order to don my newest corduroys and long sleeve shirt for the first day of school, the emotions I felt all those years ago are still palpable and easily brought to the surface. 

It began Sunday night as I started to put the house in order.  I was achy, tired and cold.  At first I thought it was just exhaustion from helping our middle son move into his dorm the day before (a tale to be told on another day) and it was not until Monday morning that I realized that I was encountering that old Labor Day anxiety.

 There are just some things we never really outgrow. Like most emotions, they must be acknowledged and put into perspective before we can move forward.

On this particular Labor Day, it was easily done simply by taking a walk around our property.  Our garden, obviously taking slow home to heart, was still miraculously in full bloom.  This amazing vision easily quelled my ancient emotions and reminded me once again, to take the time to enjoy the subtleties of life and its changing seasons.

A virtual walking tour of our garden:(all photos taken 9/6/10)

 

While this seemingly endless bloom our garden is experiencing is probably the result of our early spring confusing nature’s clock, I prefer to think of it as nature’s Labor of Love, a very special anniversary gift for a very special anniversary: Our 30th.

Yes, today is our thirtieth anniversary and while I am back in the city, Irwin is in Brimfield; the first time we have ever been separated on this day.  And irony of all ironies, to celebrate our anniversary remotely, Irwin decided to surprise me by sending me photos throughout the day; photos he had taken yesterday at the house of things that really symbolize our love for our home, family and each other.

this is the image that I awoke to:"Happy Anniversary from Home"

 

Then, by mid-morning:"FTD Delivery" My favorite bouquet-No care required

 

 

At Dinnertime: Anniversary Dinner (taken by his hotel)

 

And Finally, this evening: "the sum of us"

The etching on the glass says:Authentic - like us!

 

 

The photos, along with captions were the sweetest gift and brought me to tears; truly a Labor of Love. The funny thing is, he had no idea what I was planning to write for this post, nor did he have any idea of the photos I had taken.  What can I say, after thirty years of marriage, you do think alike.

Happy Anniversary Honey! Here’s to a hundred thirty more years of love and laughter….

This past Saturday night we hosted our first “Road Party” in the country and it was  spectacular!  It was attended by nine families including ours and was so successful, we have decided to make it an annual event.            

Our House

 

Unlike suburban neighborhoods with streetlights and sidewalks, our road in the country is light-less and dirt. While our home is situated close to the road, most of the other homes that dot our road are nestled in the mountainside at the end of dirt driveways, many of which are a half mile long or more. 

Our Road 

 

That being the case, it should come as no surprise that after ten summers in the country, we knew little, if anything about our neighbors.  But all that changed last summer, when we met our new neighbor Jeanne and her dog Zippy.

Zippy and Charlie became fast friends and Charlie (as well as Irwin & myself) eagerly anticipated Zippy & Jeanne’s impromptu visits before or after their afternoon walk.  Jeanne, living here full time for half the year had managed to meet more local people in her first month here, than we had met in the ten years previous and it was through her that we finally met some of our neighbors last Labor Day.

Zippy & Charlie: Best Buddies

 

This year Jeanne had a brilliant idea.  She suggested we collaborate and host a “Road Party” to get to know more of our “hidden” neighbors. Because there is nothing we enjoy more than hosting a party, we immediately offered our home for the event.  Jeanne dropped mailers in every mailbox and under every front door she could find on our half of the road (the road is over three miles long) asking people to RSVP and bring an appetizer, side or dessert.  We had no idea who or what to expect and the result was more wonderful than we could have ever anticipated.

Our neighbors regardless of whether they were able to attend or not, called and emailed telling us how much they loved the idea of a road party. Despite never having any discussion about specifically what anyone was bringing, the collaboration was astounding and the resulting menu blended together seamlessly and needless to say, the buffet was plentiful.

In keeping with our slow home philosophy, we re-purposed cloth napkins and dishes that we had originally purchased and/or made for our children's B’nai-Mitzvah years ago and made a tablecloth from an upholstery fabric remnant.  Using our own silverware, the only disposable items used at the gathering were about thirty plastic cups, which were recyclable.

Tableware set up: Nothing Disposable Here

 

Irwin took two colors of napkins from the assortment and in lieu of napkin rings, he used a roll of twine we had and rolled and tied each napkin with a simple twine bow; an easy and inexpensive touch that made tremendous visual impact.

Re-purposed napkins tied with everyday twine

 

Irwin then strategically placed cut flowers from our garden in vintage silver plated champagne glasses as well as a collection of vintage vases we have accumulated over the years.  He supplemented our garden’s bounty with flowers Jeanne had purchased at a local farm to complete the arrangements.

Vintage silver plated champagne glass with farm flowers

 

More home grown flowers

 

Farm Flowers in our vintage vase

 

More local flowers in a vintage silver plated bowl

 

 

And...More local & farm flowers

 

our miniature roses

 

And the food, have I mentioned the food? Well, all of the food we prepared as well as the food that our guests brought was made with locally grown or purchased ingredients and was amazingly fresh and tasty.

Irwin's Fresh Mozzarella, tomato & basil salad-locally grown with toasted ciabatta bread & hummus

 

 

a new twist: hummus served in margarita glasses

 

 

Can't you just smell the fresh basil?

 

 

Jeanne's home made roasted chicken salad

 

My home made pasta w/arugula pesto sun dried tomatoes goat cheese and local grilled corn

 

Our neighbor Gloria's garden salad made form vegetables she grew in her garden (sorry for the leftovers photo)

 

Drinks including water, Iced tea and my special vodka cocktail

 

Jeanne's home made peach & plum pie made with locally grown fruit

 

 

my home made cupcakes

 

 

 Charlie: Ready for guests

 

 

 

Although I stopped taking pictures when the guests arrived, I must list the delicious additions they contributed to the event:

  • A home made Ceasar salad
  • A home made Goat Cheese & Pesto Torta
  • A home made grilled summer squash salad ( squash grown in neighbor's garden)
  • Home made crab filled finger sandwiches
  • A fruit salad that included sever types of locally grown plums as well as peaches
  • An assortment of local artisanal cheeses
  • A rustic peach pie made by a local farm as well as a mixed berry pie from our local Biodynamic farm

But more than the wonderful food, the time spent getting to know our neighbors was priceless.  We met new neighbors to the road as well as long standing residents; weekenders like ourselves as well as full-timers. We shared a meal as well as our love for this special place on our planet and as the evening came to a close and we cleaned up, we all agreed to do this again next year.

 

Glasses that we frosted for oldest son's bar mitzvah in 2001 now staples in the country

 

The other day our country neighbor and good friend Jeanne stopped by with her delightful dog Zippy for a collaborative dinner and we once again began the discussion of where to eat.  It is not that we have no place to eat, but rather the opposite.  The number of places in and around the house available for sitting and especially eating has become somewhat of a joke amongst our friends over the years.

Charlie's good friend & neighbor, Zippy

 

It is true, we have many places throughout the house, both indoors and out to sit and relax and…to eat.  What can we say? Maybe it’s because we both come from families where food is so important, or maybe it is because in our city apartment, we have no outdoor space, and our formal dining room was eliminated years ago and combined with our living room to make way for a much-needed den.  Whatever the reason, if you are looking for a place to relax or…eat, we have a place for you!

 

dining in the great room under ceiling fans is a great alternative on warm evenings

 

We love spending time in the country and when we are not working on the house, we are usually relaxing and/or entertaining at home.  Irwin loves to cook and set a table so we rarely eat out and because Irwin is a creative genius whose mind is constantly churning out new ideas, it is essential that different venues are available for him to work in.

My favorite way to begin an evening: a pitcher of cocktails

 

Alfresco dining under a tree

 

Our Dining Room: A thanksgiving favorite

  

Most breakfasts are served in the kitchen or on the porch, where the usual fare is either my famous blueberry or banana pancakes or Irwin’s world-renowned breakfast frittata made with whatever is available in the fridge.

 

Our kitchen: open 24/7

  

 

the porch: No  Reservation needed

 

irwin's famous frittata

 

Lunch and dinner can happen almost anywhere but always feel special.

 

dining on our deck is lovely in the afternoon

 

So, whether you are two for dinner or serving twelve, have one eating area or more, little changes can go a long way in making  “at home” dining special.

For example:

We always use an abundance of candles, votives and tea lights.  They add warmth and make everything sparkle and glow.

 

Authentic atmosphere

 

Tea light in vintage cup with fish tank gravel

 

 

light, light and more light

 

When possible, we use cut flowers from our garden; they are easy and inexpensive and always look and smell wonderful.

Fresh garden flowers-always a hit

  

We usually mix and match glassware, dishes and flatware to create interest.

This mix on our patio is fun

  

AND…we primarily use cloth napkins with napkin rings.  I know, nobody wants to spend time ironing napkins- and the truth is, I don’t.  We use lovely cotton and linen napkins that just need to be folded warm from the dryer.

 

Lovely napkin rings a gift from good friend Maybelline Te

 

 

Another feast cooked by non other than Irwin

 

I know these suggestions seem very basic and they are, but with a little imagination, you too will feel like you are dining out…at home.

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