May 13, 2011

Cliff Hangers and Nathaniel Hawthorne

I flooded you with a lot of pictures, I know...asking you what seemed 'off' in the images.  This picture is the best example of what is bothering me (QUICK! Look again one more time).  My intent, I assure you, was not to create a cliff-hangar of a post (though what a great idea!) that would cause my fellow gardeners to lose sleep and neglect loved ones.  Oh, no.

Mostly, and more importantly, it was to see if some of you, ANY of you, share my sometimes warped, overly obsessed way of looking at things.

Well, my friend, Bubba, who seems to see things through the same lens that I do, ( thanks, Bubba) put it this way:  

"Love the dark color of the wood, but my eye kept going to the unpainted fence – got any more paint?  Larkspur would pop against the dark brown (black-eye susans as well) OR do you think it would be too much brown?"

In other words, my darlings, the area looks unfinished. Truncated. Not completely thought out or carried out.

Actually, truth be told, this whole unpainted fence when the rest of the adjoining wood structures are painted - er, stained - thing has bothered me from the very beginning.  I even hesitated about the whole idea because I knew that once I got started...I wouldn't know when and where to stop.  (Staining that is, not obsessing.  Well, that too...)  And that so much darker wood would look too oppressive      and would be too expensive        and be too much work.

And I think I was right about my reservations.  It looks, I told Bubba, discordant. Not in harmony.  Decidedly, un-feng shui.


But you will be VERY relieved to know (having lost sleep and all) that I think I have a solution, arrived at after some brainstorming with Bubba.

The fence portion in the 'room' of the potager will be stained a lighter shade of the same color, so it doesn't seem too oppressive, or unfinished,  or un-harmonious, god forbid.

That just leaves the issue of how to bridge the stained/unstained section of the fence.  I think camouflage via evergreen, to hide the juncture between the two areas, will be just the solution to this vexing problem.  (You thought it was vexing too,  didn't you?  Please say you did...)

So there you have it.  Issue resolved.  Oh, this house, that I first saw a few years back, was the inspiration for that dark bronzey brown.  Do you know what and where it is?  Not another cliff-hanger, I promise. Answer below.  :)

House of the Seven Gables, Salem, Mass.  Made famous by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

May 11, 2011

What Is Wrong With These Pictures?

Sometimes what is wrong with a picture is obvious.  Like the rather large dollop of white bird doo-doo on my front lamppost, detracting from this picture of beautiful purple clematis.  Or the distant port-o-potty taking a bit of the patriotic luster off this image of Old Glory.

At other times, it is a little trickier to identify what isn't working in your ever-so-carefully composed garden vignette.  Just what doesn't look quite right when you look through that viewfinder as you take yet ANOTHER picture of your garden and its inhabitants.

So, despite my satisfaction with the new color on the fence and arbor in the potager, something still isn't quite right.

Think about it.  Look at these images and those of yesterday's post.

When I tell you what is bothering me tomorrow, you will say

"Of course!  It is so obvious!"

Still, it might need to be pointed out.  Unlike the bird poop, which was kinda hard to miss.  :)

May 10, 2011

Changes in the POTAGER

I'm not saying I didn't love it the way it was. Weathered and a little rustic...the arbors and picket fence that is...neatly framing the potager.  A nice support for the climbing roses.  Informal, but not too much so.

But after the hailstorm of a year ago, the old arbor and fence began to show its age, and its weather wounds needed fixing.

I had delusions of a beautiful, rounded brick and stone arbor.  More substantial,  more formal...less maintenance.

But then a little voice began to talk to me.  You have two sons in college next have two sons in college next year...EGADS!  you have two sons in college next year!   and the last thing you need to spend big bucks on is a beautiful, rounded brick and stone arbor.  No matter how much more substantial and formal.

Soooooo, another solution was warranted.  One that would meet my basic requirements.....and hide the obviously new wood used in the repair.  

Since the roses had to be cut WAY back to replace the roof, AND since they weren't too happy this year anyway because of the drought...

it was an opportune time to

stain the fence a dark, rich, bronzy-brown

that matches the darker shade of Tudor-y bronzy brown of my freshly painted house trim. 

I hope you like the result as much as I do. Rich, deep, more elegant.  Won't that dark color look scrumptious with the pink roses next year?  Do tell.

May 9, 2011

Control Freaks and the TODAY Show

Okay, my dears, look me straight in the eye (errr, sunglasses) and tell me you are not as much of a control freak as I am.  Because I am willing to bet that maaaaaaannnnny of you out there are similarly afflicted.  

So you can imagine how upset I was this morning, when not only did I send my baby off to his last day of high school...

but, without any consultation with me on the matter, the TODAY show announced that Meredith Vieira would be leaving her co-anchor position on the morning show, leaving Matt Lauer on the coach with Ann Curry. (That didn't come out quite the way I meant it...)

Anyhoo, it should be quite obvious that I felt completely and very disturbingly out of control.  Unable to influence events in any way.

Still, there have been a few things of late that left me with a similarly powerless feeling, yet I was able to pull it together at the end and control the outcome. Check here tomorrow and I'll let you in on the dramatic change (well, dramatic to me) to my beloved      p o t a g e r    after last spring's horrendous hail storm.

May 6, 2011

Lemon Coconut Macaroons

If I remember correctly, my dears, I owe you another lemony confection recipe.  I stepped out of the kitchen and away from this blog to visit my son and bask in the beauty of Virginia for a bit.

Since I'm still channeling the South, I thought I'd try this Paula Dean recipe for Lemon Coconut Macaroons.  I rarely use any of her recipes, because they're usually a little too buttery/fatty/sugary/calorie-laden for me, but she was baking these little goodies on TV while I was sweating it out on the treadmill, and I just thought what the heck? and there you have it.

Just one, or you'll be back on that treadmill before you can say Y'all.

  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract (I used lemon juice instead)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (14 oz.) bag shredded sweetened coconut, finely chopped

 Preheat the oven to 300 degree F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg white and salt until frothy, about 2 minutes.  Stir in the condensed milk, zest, and extracts.  Using a rubber spatula, fold in the coconut until well combined.  Using a small spring-loaded scoop and your hands, shape the mixture into 1 1/2-inch mounds.  Place the macaroons about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.  Bake until lightly brown, and 20 minutes.  Transfer the pans to wire racks and let cool completely.

(These Japanese food take-out containers work great for transporting baked goodies.  You can use them over and over...)  Enjoy!