Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Happy Birthday, Tasha Tudor

Dear Friends,

Today is Tasha Tudor's birthday; a day that always gives an excuse to slow down, look around, and see how blessed we are to have the simple life that we do. We celebrated Tasha's birthday by watching "Take Joy," the documentary on her beautiful life, and when it cools off we'll have a little tea party with our dolls.

We've been reading from "Tasha Tudor's Garden" lately, and sighing over the amazing array of pastel perfection her garden contained. Although we don't have a place yet where we can put down roots, and we may never achieve such a grand floral display as hers, books like this fire our imagination and give us hope for the future of our dreams.

 Thank you, Miss Tudor, for daring to live your dream, and for daring us to do the same!



 "Gardening and goats milk is what keeps me going." ~Tasha Tudor

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Days of Goldenrod and MorningGlory

 Dear Friends,

We've been busy lately, sprucing up Birdsong Cottage with a much-needed coat of paint (looks like we'll have to paint over some paw prints!), and putting in a fall garden. Our greens are just starting to sprout, and we're hoping to put in peas and carrots, as soon as the beds are ready.

The owner of the naughty paws~


This is the time of year when the goldenrod opens its beautiful yellow blossoms, which are soon covered by thousands of pollinators. The wild morning glory have decided to use the goldenrod as a living trellis, and the color combination is quite stunning in the golden light of morning. Magic, indeed!

We love watching the dragonflies hum lazily around the garden, in search of tasty mosquitoes to munch on.

This variety, with its blue body and blue and black spotted wings is our favorite. 

We have also just finished reading aloud the biography of George Washington Carver, which our blog friend Daniel was nice enough to send us (Thank you, Daniel!). We could encourage all to learn more about this great man; we know we'll never eat peanut butter without much gratitude again! Now when we face a problem, we ask ourselves, "What would Dr. Carver do," since he had a gift for making magic out of the ordinary.

May you have a wonderful week, dear friends. Thank you for being part of our lives.



"How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these." ~George Washington Carver

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Old-Fashioned England

Dear Friends,

We have found a few treasures on YouTube that we'd like to share with you today. We love learning from the old books and magazines, how people made gardens and lived self-sufficiently, but we admit that it's wonderful to have these wonderful resources on film!

We're studying England this month at home, and we learned much of domestic history, and much to apply in our own gardens and kitchen.



Thursday, August 9, 2012

After the Elusive Elderberry

 Dear Friends,

Thank the Lord for the friendly clouds that visited us last night and brought life-giving rain! Today was much cooler (only in the 80s), with a nice breeze, so we decided to go look for elderberries, in hopes that there would be a few berries in spite of the dry weather.

Along the way we made sure to enjoy the nature around us (and to avoid the poison ivy and chiggers!)~

 Since we were near a lake, the children decided to cool off in the water. .

. . .Where they found a perfect little fish to draw in their nature journals.

We discovered an autumn olive tree, with almost-ripe fruit that was quite tasty,

Plus a great blue heron that was hoping to find his own perfect little fish!

We ended up finding almost a bucketful of elderberries, and literally covered ourselves with burrs, which we are still trying to coax out of our hair and clothing! Now to remove them from their stems and make some syrup, which is wonderful to boost the immune system (and tastes lovely on pancakes, too).



p.s. I've been adding a few writings on my "By a Lady" blog, including a few autobiographical vignettes, if you'd like to catch up there.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Dog Days of Summer

Dear Friends,

Here is our dog, enjoying the dog days of summer! She seems to be enjoying the fragrance of our African marigolds, which are almost as tall as I am! They are among the few flowers that survived our being in Idaho, and the bees, wasps, and butterflies love them.

This volunteer squash is growing in our front garden bed (and so is a lot of grass). So far it has only put out male flowers, but we hope that some lady flowers make their appearance, too!

We think that these two plants are some type of vervain, but we're waiting until they bloom before we're positive about it. I just ordered a 981 page book called "Flora of Missouri," but apparently this plant is in the second (also huge) volume. :)

This plant I grew from seeds I ordered form Horizon Herbs, and can't for the life of me remember what it is! Do you do that, too? I know it's a member of the mint family, but it's a mighty big family!

The love-lies-bleeding is putting on its unusual display of red. It's a quite fascinating plant, and edible, too.

This volunteer tomatoes (we have a lot of volunteers this year, it seems!) has one teeny tomato on it, and either a deer or ground hog "topped" it, so hopefully it will fruit more~

And this little flower is growing so quickly! Thankfully she still has her baby curls.

We wish we had more sunflowers for the goldfinches, who come visit this one every day, hoping for some tasty seeds!

We actually found a chicken feed that the hens will eat during the summer; Purina Layer Pellets. We have been hanging a wet wool blanket in their coop every night to cool the air, and it does an admirable job. We also get them wet before bed, so they aren't panting and holding out their wings.

Our little currant tomato is finally fruiting,

And we've really been enjoying growing our own stevia this year. Of course, we won't have much to dry, since everyone takes a nibble from it when they walk by!

This family of deer makes a nightly appearance in the field next door to ours. The picture isn't very clear, but the fawns are triplets.  
I just finished reading the book "Mother," by Kathleen Norris. I've read it once before, but it was just as poignant this time. The book is about a girl who is embarrassed by the shabbiness of her home, and the noise and clutter from all the children in their big family. I won't give away the plot, but it has a very happy ending, which will make you want to phone or write your mother and tell her how much she means to you!

I will leave you with a few quotes from the book~

"You know," he went on musingly, "in these days, when women just serenely ignore the question of children, or at most, as a special concession, bring up one of two-just the one or two whose expenses can be comfortably met!-there's something magnificent in a woman like your mother, who begins either destinies instead of one! She doesn't strain and chafe to express herself through the medium of poetry or music of the stage, but she puts her whole splendid philosophy into her nursery-launches sound little bodies and minds that have their first growth cleanly and purely about her knees. Responsibility-that's what these other women say they are afraid of! But it seems to me there's no responsibility like that of decreeing that young lives simply shall not be. Why, what good is learning, or elegance of manner, or painfully acquired fineness of speech, and taste and point of view, if you are not going to distill it into the growing plants, the only real hope we have in the world! You know, Miss Paget, there's a higher tribunal than the social tribunal of this world, after all; and it seems to me that a woman who stands there, as your mother will, with a forest of new lives about her, and a record like hers, will find she has a Friend at court!"

"She had met brilliant women, rich women, courted women-but where among them was one whose face had ever shone as her mother's shone today? The over-dressed, idle dowagers; the matrons, with their too-gay frocks, their too-full days, their too-rich food; the girls, all crudeness, artifice, all scheming openly for their own advantage-where among them all was happiness? Where among them was one whom Margaret had heard say-as she had heard her mother say so many, many times- "Children, this is a happy day," - Thank God for another lovely Sunday together,"-"Isn't it lovely to get up and find the sun shining?"-"Isn't it good to come home hungry to such a nice dinner?" And what a share of happiness her mother had given the world!