Sunday, February 22, 2015

Afternoon Tea

For most of the week, weather prognosticators have been scaring the pants off Colorado citizens with dreadful warnings about the impeding snow storm that was on its way. It would begin Friday afternoon with rain and freezing stuff, and white stuff. "Be prepared," they cautioned. After the weather guys were done with their gloom and doom, the news reporters took over with dire warnings and to-do lists to be safe and warm and wise. Look. Born and raised in Colorado; it snows here. While we do boast of over 300 days of sunshine, Colorado does have some bad weather.  The roads get icy. The wind blows. The snow flies.

Why I remember the blizzard of '75 late in March when I was about to deliver my first daughter. . . . . Anyway. This morning it is 10 F degrees with about 4 inches of snow on the ground, not the 10-22 that they were predicting. Yes, it is cold, but I am warm and toasty inside. And more snow is on the way, so the weather guys promise. Chile for supper.

My friend and former colleague at the university decided that we should have Afternoon Tea for our dear friends still manning the battle front teaching freshmen how to write decent essays, offering a bit of respite from the grading, conferencing, and the daily grind that we, both retired, really do miss. (But not that much. )

We divided up the duties. Sharron out did herself. She spent a greater part of her childhood growing up in England and Scotland in a military family, so for her the components of Tea were important.

She baked the scones, three times. I sampled. Tasted good to me. Are they too dry? Will they crumble? She would ask. I don't recall ever eating fresh baked scones, mamma's biscuits, yes, but not traditional English scones fresh from the oven. They were delicious, I assured her. While she made the creme anglaise for the fresh fruit and lemon curd for the scone  (other delicacies that I had never had), I sent hubby to Whole Foods, the organic super market, to get Devonshire cream.. I will just say the the creme anglaise was heaven. It tastes like really rich, homemade vanilla ice cream custard just before it goes into the ice cream maker.

I made my orange pound cake and heart and butterfly cookies.

Thursday I bought two very skimpy bouquets of tulips and daffodils to practice my floral design. We decided that between the two of us we had enough white pitchers for a variety of flowers arrangements.

 I returned to the store on Friday and went home with an armload of tulips, daffodils, small pink carnations, and baby's breath. Spring is still a ways a way, but the super market has the most wonderful display of gorgeous spring flowers. Who can resit, especially when one is planning a party? Good excuse to splurge on the flowers. Sharron bought a large bouquet of roses and baby's breath that I used to place small arrangements around the house. While I adore the daffodils and the tulips, I think I really like this little vase of baby carnations and baby's breath.

The foods became the center pieces of the Tea, but the dishes deserve a mention, too. They came from a variety of places. The little square sandwich plates to left were my grandmother's. She held garden club and entertained a number of other groups, as women did back in the late '40s and and '50s. I have had those little plates along with their punch cups forever, and I've used them a lot instead of paper plates for girls' graduations and birthday parties. Sharron proudly brought out her grandmother's delicate china and pieces from her husband's family, too. 

The tea pots were mine. One is Lenox that I found in an antique store. I then purchased the little serving set with the tray, sugar bowl, and creamer to complete the set online from a website called The other tea pot, barely visible, I found at at thrift store. Nothing special. Just a pretty little tea pot with a pink rose.

The table was set, the water heated, and the ladies arrived. I  wish I had taken more photos, but it wasn't my home, and some are not real keen to have their pictures plastered all over Blogland. 

We had fun planning, and baking, and decorating. With such busy lives, working women often don't have time to just sit and enjoy a quiet moment with friends. We didn't talk shop too much, but it was comforting to know that our friends are true and sweet and appreciated a bit of a time out. In America we don't have that gentile custom of afternoon tea, so it was a special time for us and we were so happy to serve our friends. 

And Then the Drive Home

We had a lovely time. Several ladies didn't make it, but we will have another afternoon tea just before finals, perhaps when it really has warmed up. The promised snow did arrive, those big, fat, heavy flakes that floated gently to earth, blanketing everything, including my car. Sharon's husband and granddaughter kindly swept the snow off. 

The storm had finally arrived, but not with the fierceness that weather guys had predicted. The roads iced up as wind swept the snow across them. 

I had bit of a drive home, but my all-wheel-drive SUV delivered me safely to the door. 

The Morning After

There always is the morning after the party. Hubby was in for treat for breakfast. 

We had beautiful flowers, fresh fruit, and French toast made from his favorite bakery fresh cinnamon twist bread. I skipped the maple syrup this morning, using instead the Devonshire cream. We won't be eating like this every Sunday, but I think we should at least have fresh flowers. 

Hurry up Spring.

We have a busy week ahead. I've not mentioned the kitchen remodel project looming in the near future. We have done some looking, but have not finalized anything yet, so this week I hope to have countertops picked out along with the tile for the back splash. I, of course, will share all of the details when the times. 

Friday the baby chicks arrive. The Head Gardener has ordered 8. You will get to meet them next week. 

And so a new week begins. Make sure to swing by Lavender Cottage to join Judith for Mosaic Monday. It'll be fun. 

I hope you stay warm and safe and wise as this awful winter weather covers a good part of the country. Colorado does know bad weather; however, our storm here is rather mild compared to what those in the East are enduring. We will keep up our Spring Vigil, knowing that the sun will come out and the the tulips and daffodils are not far behind. 

Have a fabulous week and thanks so much for taking to stop by the Garden Spot. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Vigil Begins

The vigil for spring has begun here at the Garden Spot. Let's head out to the garden.

There's the Head Gardener now, cleaning up last year's weeds.

He had quite a mess to manage.

Would you believe that this the asparagus patch along the fence? Just you wait. I can already taste the tender, sweet sprigs.

Even dried out, sunflowers have appeal.

The blackberry bush got a radical prune

so that it can be dug up and transferred to the Back 40, a part of the place that gets little attention.

A clean slate. Now the HG will rototill, shape the growing beds, and add compost. He had planned on doing that today, but snow is on the way.

March 15: Plant potatoes and garlic

The corral got a clean sweep, too. He removed the metal fence panels that made two stalls for the boys and brought in the tractor to grade away the mess.

In the center garden out front, while the Eastern Red Bud still sleeps, the grape hyacinths are greening and if you look really carefully just breaking through the soil by the sprinkler head you will see early daffodils poking through.

Newly planted last year, the mallow shows signs of life. A big thumbs up to you sweet mallow and your two other sisters. (Do you talk to your plants?)

And what do we have here in the courtyard? Aquila peeking through last year's growth and it is only Mid February. 

One can hard tour the garden this time of the year and not take note of the work to be done in a few short weeks. This clematis will get a deep pruning this time around; since I didn't prune it last year, went rather wild.

The roses still sound asleep will be awakened once I cut them back. I always cut them back in March before they start to show signs of life just to the point on the stem where green begins to show. 

And who do we have here just peeking through? Oh, sweet crocus. 

The garden chores are beginning. One day the weather is warm and suitable for working outside, but then the next day snow is on the way. No, we are not getting slammed as the East coast is, thankfully, but my old bones do feel every bit of the cold. Today the HG rests in his chair with heat on his neck and pain in his arm. 

And now to finish up Valentine's. The warm glow of love lingers. Our little town held its first Sweetheart Lantern Festival Friday night. Oh my. It was so much fun.

For $25.00 a couple, participants received a lantern, a lighter, two sugar cookies and hot chocolate. Two bonfires kept the crowd warm until it was time launch the lanterns. The gate opened at 6 PM, when we left home, just a couple of blocks away. We had no idea of the traffic jam that would be created. We would have been smart to have walked.

We received our lantern, read the instructions. They are heart shaped, pink, and very, very delicate tissue paper. Ours, sadly, did not inflate because it had a rip in the fold when we removed it from the package. Once unfolded and the burner was lit, we held onto the lantern waiting for the heat from the flame to fill the lantern for the release.

Instead, my sweetheart had to stomp out the flame.

The first hearts have been released. Silently they drift into the night sky, sailing toward the starts.

All aglow, bright pink hearts carry away love in the night.

For those lucky enough to get their heart launched, the feeling was exhilarating.

Hundreds of glowing hearts fill the dark night sky.

Some drifted quite high and quite a ways. The cold night air, clear and crisp, was perfect for the launch. Generally we have a bit of breeze, but the air was calm with just enough stir in it to lift the lanterns away.

The town purchased 200 lanterns, and according to the newspaper, a crowd of 600 gathered at the fire department to enjoy some love at night.

Coming up this week: My friend and I are hosting our first afternoon tea for our friends and colleagues at the university. I will be baking this week, washing table clothes and napkins, ironing and starching them too. We are excited. We have talked a long time about having a tea, but now that we are both retired, we are finally going go to do it.

This is the prototype of the invitation that I made, cutting the tea pot out on my Cricut machine. We met at Sharron's where we assembled the invitations. She addressed the envelopes and delivered them to the mailboxes in the faculty workroom.

The invitation is on the back. (I didn't want to show it because our phone numbers are on it -:)). Pictures next week. 

The HG reminded me, too, that the baby chicks will arrive in 10 days. So soon? Now that will be something to blog about.

I see that it is nearly time for lunch. I plan to start applying the shingles to the Ballet Studio this afternoon. 

I wish you a fine afternoon and a fabulous week. Thanks for taking time to visit. Love your comments and I read every single one. 

Make sure to swing by Lavender Cottage to see today's Monday Mosaics. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

A Walk-About

Last week's snow has melted, bringing promise of spring, yet we know that more winter is surely to come. None the less, yesterday was as beautiful a day as one could hope for in February. Today more of the same. We are anxious; we itch to get out in the sunshine and get our hands back into the cool soil. Not so fast. Here the ground is still frozen, but even in February things are starting to wake up.

The Head Gardener had an all day meeting in the Big City (Denver) yesterday, so I puttered in the craft room finishing up the valentines for the grandchildren and trying to get an invitation for an afternoon tea that my friend and I are planning for our friends at the University. They need a break and we need a project. I decided to get some fresh air.

If you follow two delightful bloggers in England, you will enjoy the long country walks in the English country side that they share on their blogs.

Both ladies write beautiful blogs about their life in England: Elaine @Rosebank Ramblings and Lyn @Everyday Life. As a nerd for England, desperately wanting to visit there again, I do enjoy both of these blogs among my others who life in the UK. While these ladies tromp through ancient woods where fairies not doubt hide, watch from behind fallen leaves or explore ancient ruins, I must daydream as I walk the city sidewalks of our tiny town on the plains of Northern Colorado. Join me.

This time of year the corn fields are still stubble, soon the farmers will be out in force in their giant monster tractors plowing and the fields will turn rich brown, fresh and clean for planting to begin.

I walk the long country road WCR 35, heading south. I use the sidewalk until I get to then end of the side walk way down there by the sump pond and across the road from the sewage plant. (Where trolls probably hang out). About where the last orange sign warns about utility construction just over the little hill in the road.

The sidewalk ends, signaling the end of city life. On the return walk, I walk into the neighborhood across the road from us, quiet little subdivision with new houses still being built. I know a few neighbors and wave to most.

Blue skies dotted with free floating clouds--the benign kind that don't threaten bad weather. The Rocky Mountain majestic in the west. 

In between the houses, another view of the cornfields with cattle grazing, making use of the corn stubble. I like to see the black cows dot the landscape. Don't these folks have the perfect view? 

On the corner in a little park dedicated to him, Doc Thompson waves as I leave the neighborhood. The doc was the town osteopath for as long as I can remember. Active in all community affairs, his loss left a major void in our little community. We'd see him riding his bike around town to get from his office home and to the post office. Now immortalized in sculpture, he keeps century over the little community. Across the street another foundation for a new home is in works. Behind, the high school gym.

Across the road, the Garden Spot waits for spring. The boys see me out on the street. I can read their minds as they station themselves by the gate to the pasture. I decide to let them out in the hayfield for the afternoon.

Some of your are sharing gorgeous spring flowers just beginning to emerge in your gardens. Here the chamomile and perennial weeds are showing their sorry faces.

So that was my walk-about yesterday. 

Today we will load up Boone and head to the gravel ponds over on the other side of the Interstate in Ft. Collins and get some more mile high sun and fresh air.

The valentines for the girls are done. I sent the boys theirs with grandpa yesterday. The girls will get a box of chocolates and a special heart that they can put on their wall, or crumple up, or whatever they will do with them. They will also get a crocheted flower that will attach to their hair bands. I have such fun crocheting these little flowers.

The cloth collages are finished to. They did turn out pretty good. If you have some not so good photographs, they can be rescued. I used iPhoto and Picasa to fade them, to make them look vintage. For the one the right of Lucy, I added a texture to it to make it look even more elusive. 

I printed the images straight on muslin, though there are probably better ways to transfer images to cloth that might not be so hard a printer. I used an old $40. HP printer that will do most of what I ask it to do with no complaints. Now my fancy HP officejet turns up it sprockets at vellum, cloth, card stock. 

Make sure to drop by Lavender Cottage where Judith hosts Mosaic Monday.

May your week be filled with hearts and love. Thanks so much visiting.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

I had a great plan for today, but we woke up to snow, one of those quick, easy storms that comes in on the breeze and sneaks out silently, leaving a thin layer of cold. We did go to town for a bit; luckily by the time we were on the road the slick had turned to slush, but not with out damage as we saw two cars that had slid off of the road, one just ahead a us, a brand GMC pickup. The driver was in her truck talking on the cell phone and another had stopped to help her, so we drove on. She had skimmed the side of her new truck on an electrical pole. Poor lady, but she looked uninjured.

The Boone Doggle keeps us entertained. He loves the snow, but he loves chasing the birds more. The sparrows hide safely in the deep branches of the blue spruce. Soon they will fly out and he will take chase, with the birds always out flying him.

I had to share these two beauties with you. They are counted cross stitch so immaculately  
stitched and framed. I found them at the ARC thrift store yesterday and wondered why they ended up donated.

While you really cannot see it them, the angel has gold stitches and beading added. 

As Annie sings "The Sun will Come Out Tomorrow," so it will  here tomorrow if the forecast for warmer days holds true.

I hope you are having a great week. I am finishing up the Valentine projects, and getting the craft area cleaned up so that I can shingle the ballet studio dollhouse. I'll be back for Mosaic Monday. See you then. 

Thanks for stopping by. I didn't have much to share, and some days are like that. -:). 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

We Have A Plan

After a long week end of company, the Head Gardener and I are relaxing today. When I finish this post we will have a bit lunch then take Boone for a walk trail along the Cache La Poudre River. One of my commenters last week commented on the name of the river.  If you have read the book Centennial or remember the mini series done in the late '70s or early '80s, you will remember that it tells the history of this part of Colorado, beginning with the dinosaurs, literally. James Michener taught for a short time at my Alma Mater, the University of Northern Colorado, a time when he must have become familiar with the local history and began writing the novel.

As the trappers and fur traders trapped and fished along the Poudre River and traded with Kiowa Indians, they would leave caches of supplies along their trail; thus, some say the river was so named. There is a rich history of mining, trapping, trading, along with Indian lore that are associated with the river. Now, known more for recreational uses, the river hosts fly fishermen and a lot of kayakers, and river raft tours. Today, we will stroll along the banks with heavy coats for it is a bit chilly.None the less, we need to get out.

I put my rendition of Olive Garden's zuppa tuscana in the crock pot: chicken broth, Italian sausage, diced red potatoes, and onions. When we get home I will add the kale, and we will be ready for Super Bowl.

Heather and the boys came for the weekend. With three birthdays that first week right after Christmas, we decided to celebrate the birthdays at the end of the January.

Jacob received a new compound bow from Grandpa, along with instructions to get his hunter's safety card now that he is twelve so that he hunt elk in the fall. Such big smiles from the little boy.  Grandpa took the boys to the archery shop then to get the bow tuned and to get in some target practice. Nathan will inherit  Jacob's compound that he outgrew, but both of the boys need to do pushups to get some arm strength to pull the bows back.

A Dr. Who Tardis

While they were gone, I set about to make Jacob's cake. I baked the cake the day before. He wanted a Dr. Who cake. Now, I don't watch Dr. Who, although I had seen a few episodes years ago. The Doctor is a time traveler. I searched Pinterest for Dr. Who cake inspiration, deciding that the Tardis, an English emergency call box would be the easiest. The cake, made from scratch, came out of an old Martha Stewart Living magazine that I saved because it had some great cake recipes. It was a dense and heavy cake that I baked in loaf pans. Uncertain as to how long it should bake, I didn't bake it quite long enough. It did, however, have good flavor, especially when it was iced with a rich butter cream and cream cheese frosting. The Tardis is supposed to be a deep, dark blue. I bought a navy blue gel but it did not get dark, so I added some black and the a full squeeze bottle of food coloring. Still not dark enough. Oh well. I placed a heavy layer of frosting on one cake then placed the second loaf on top and held them together with skewers cut to the depth of the cake. I covere it first with a crumb coat, then let it chill in the fridge for a bit. I was nervous, wondering if it stand up.

While the crumb coat set, I worke with the fondant to make the windows and the sign, having never used fondant before. I watched a short Youtube video and said, "I can do that." Fondant is very easy to work with. I am not an artist, so the cake is not the most professional looking cake, but Jacob loved it. I picked up the Weeping Angel at Barnes and Nobel, a dramatic addition to the cake.

I used sparkler candles that really didn't sparkle much. Still the kids loved them.

I like the results of the low light photography. We turned off all the lights, sang Happy Birthday, then ate cake.

Sweet Lucy was home sick Friday, so she made me this precious Valentine and card. She even sewed the Valentine on the machine.

And Now We Have A Plan

We now have a garden plan posted the refrigerator door.  By the end of the month we will have new baby chicks. I am pretty excited because we are adding an new breed, the Black Cooper Marans (2) that will lay chocolate colored eggs. They will be gorgeous black ladies that will add a lot of interest to the flock. 

Now that the snow is all melted, I am able to see what my plan will be for the early spring: dig out this 
vinca that has taken over the center circle. Looking lush and green now in the photos, it is dormant and brown, so I want to start digging as soon we get a warm day so that I plant more hostas. I am determined now not to let the unwanted plant material in the gardens to ahead of me this year, so I will be out early to get a head start this year. Now, I may have to amend that statement: Weather permitting because it is always the weather that holds us back.

I feel a bit like Froggy, for I am sure that he dreaming of warm, sunny days, tired of the snow and cold, wishing for daffodils and tulips. Soon Froggy. Soon

Drop by Lavender Cottage to see Mosaic Monday, hosted by Judith. There you will find my mosaics along with other pretty cool mosaics.

It'll be fun.

Have you picked your team for Super Bowl? With our Denver Broncos having lost to the Seahawks last year, I am not sure that I can cheer them on, nor am I a Patriots' fan. I may just get my Outlander book out and read. Or make more valentines. Or clean. Or do laundry. 

Have a wonderful week. 

The Last Hollyhock

(Note: if the font in Safari is too small: press option command + keys to zoom your Safari screen.)  Here in Northern Colorado, we are all f...