Hi girls, here’s a bit o’ Musica for you. We are here waiting for our next rainstorm, the sky has been getting darker all day. It’s been raining something like every four days and it’s so green here that when the sun comes through the trees it reflects light from the moving leaves and dapples the living room walls with bright greenish splotches that ripple and sparkle like a swimming pool. June in all its glory. I’ve been in my studio, happy as a clam, painting and making new art . . . putting pen and brush to paper.
Painting a few new little things. It’s been so long since I sent out a WILLARD I wanted to paint bits of new art to decorate my next one. That’s my project very soon, to write us a new newsletter! (If by any chance you are not signed up to get my newsletter, which is free from me to you, or would like to know why we call it WILLARD, or would like to sign up a friend ~ you can click on that link and all questions will be answered on our sign-up page.)
I’m keeping busy, waiting for the first copies of A Fine Romance to arrive from the printer so we can make our final arrangements for book signings. Back in February we had a drawing for one of the pre-publication copies — remember? Gail Matheson out in California was our winner? Well, her book should be here any day now! She could not possibly be more excited about it than me! In only a few more months they’ll all come in. In the meantime, I wait patiently, I work and garden, hang clothes out to dry on the sunny days, try to eat healthy, read, cuddle under a blanket in the rain, paint, and take long walks with Joe.
It’s summer and for the most part the sun is shining, the bees are buzzing, flutter-bys are skimming the tops of everything . . .
. . . hydrangeas are beginning to bloom under the bird feeders outside our kitchen window.
In fact there are lots of things in bloom — all my little vases are filled . . .
. . . and spotted here and there around the house. That’s my first “Just Joey” rose this year mixed with purple catmint (nepeta). I had to give Jack and Girl a tray full of nepeta so they would leave this alone. It’s working. They’re getting enough of it and aren’t going after my vases. (Yet.) We’re doing all the summer things as if they were firsts . . . it seems so long and it really is — at this time last year we weren’t even here — we were in England. We missed our Martha’s Vineyard May and June completely. I put a big glass pitcher of water in the sun yesterday — for sun tea, which I’m drinking now, mixed with a little lemonade for sweetness . . .
Because cold weather takes up a good portion of our year ~ from late September to late May, hot chocolate and cups of tea rule the day. The very idea of doing this again is exciting — a gift! Our refrigerator is kind of a dream-come-true right now. Not only does it have sun tea in it, but . . .
It’s got ice cold Gazpacho! In fact I made an extra batch for a girlfriend who broke the wrist of her dominant hand and now has one of the biggest old-fashioned, heavy, plaster casts in the history of broken wrists on her arm (above her elbow, covering most of her fingers). She can’t cut food, can’t open wine (just when she needs it most), or twist off jar lids, can’t do dishes, can’t drive, can’t write, can only peck on the key board. Poor Baby. So we took her a pitcher full of Gazpacho and had a nice visit sitting on the big ole square screened-in porch of her farmhouse, with the sky-blue painted ceiling, on the wrought iron furniture with the curlicues and the comfy cushions that had belonged to her parents, drinking wine, listening to insects skimming the grass and glinting in the sun, watching red-winged blackbirds and cardinals at her feeders while smelling the salt air and the corn growing in the sun-dappled field at the back of her property. We did this until the stars came out. She thinks we did her a favor, we think she did us one.
In case I didn’t convince everyone the other day of how amazingly delicious this soup is, I thought I’d show you how easy it is to make. You start by putting a cup and a quarter of chilled tomato juice into a blender.
To that you add one tomato and half of a peeled cucumber, both roughly chopped . . .
Then add vinegar, oil, a little sugar (unless you have tomatoes from your garden, then you really don’t need sugar) and cayenne . . . (I’ll put the recipe at the end). This soup makes you feel like you’ve been zinged with good healthy things . . .
Blend well until smooth . . . pour blended ingredients into a large container or pitcher…
. . . then add another 2 1/2 c. tomato juice to the mixture . . .
Chop fresh vegetables into bite-sized pieces, cucumber, celery, red onion, zucchini, tomato and green pepper . . . pieces small enough so that when you’re eating it, several can fit on a spoon at the same time.
And add them to the tomato mixture . . .
Put in some green onion tops (scallions) — or chives from your garden if you have them. Stir it all up good . . . then, a bit more of your own special brand of spice . . .
Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, and chill it all well . . .
I added chunks of cooked shrimp … and garnished it with a little sour cream and a fresh chive flower . . . but it’s good just plain. More than good.
The 1/4 tsp. of cayenne I mentioned earlier is my new addition to this recipe. It’s optional, but it gives the nicest little kick, just a little, not too much. Stir it in at any time, or when you’re about to start the blender. I also mix the red wine vinegar, half and half, with good balsamic vinegar. But it’s good no matter what.
It’s that wonderful time of year when it’s easy to fill our fridges with the best produce — crisp and crunchy vegetables fresh from the farmer’s market and brimming with vitamins. And it’s almost time for my favorite of all . . .
Watermelon! Can’t wait! I love it cut up on top of plain yogurt with a little bit of our homemade granola. Right now, besides the tea and the Gazpacho, our fridge is heaven — chock full of pop-in-your-mouth seasonal goodness — we have organic red grapes, a big bowlful of ice-cold pink grapefruit and orange segments drowning in their own citrusy juice, and a bowl of crunchy homemade coleslaw. YUM! And these . . .
Is this not a pure miracle? That compost and water and sun produces these in our very own garden? And they are nothing like the ones we get in our local markets, which are expensive, sadly juiceless, and yet, every year, we are lured by the rosy redness of them believing them to be the food of the gods. No more, we cannot be lured, it is no longer necessary. We have our own strawberry patch.
Which is a miracle because we didn’t plant one . . .
See the rim of the terra cotta pot there? That’s a strawberry pot. Two years ago I planted a few plants in it. And remember how I suggested that you grow things that like living in your area? Well, apparently strawberries love this island! Who knew? They jumped the rim of the pot last year, and this year they’ve spread over half my picket fence garden! Don’t you just love nature? Isn’t she amazing? It’s so nice to be able to give away organic juicy fresh-picked strawberries to our friends! Strawberry Fields Forever!
A couple more things before I go . . . first off, on the SUMMER Banners: We did sell out of them, but for you that have been asking, I made a special request and a few more will be coming to our web store in the next couple of weeks.
If you wanted one and weren’t able to get it in time, this will be your chance.
Also, remember the Cupcake Banner Janie sent me for my birthday? In that ↑ photo? The perfect little birthday present is what I thought when I opened it — just adorable. I asked her to make some more for us. They come with their own little envelope just like the Summer Banners did — and with a card that you can sign to your sister, mom, daughter, best friend or grammie. You will see the Cupcake Birthday Banners in our web store today. I also asked Kellee if she could make us some Do-it-Yourself Patriotic Banners . . . and she said, “SURE, I can!” (She is a big believer in that fantastic word “Yes” — another reason I love her so much!)
She sent me one of the kits so I could put the banners together myself . . . it was easy and fast ~ my two favorite things in kit production. Each kit comes with enough red and white string to make two sizes of banner (both included) . . . the smaller one, the one on the calendar with the Cupcakes above (which you could also string between two-chopsticks as a cake-topper if you wanted) . . . and this larger one on my stove . . . ↓
It’s the little things in life! Thank you Kellee and Janie! Bye girls, I have to bring the clothes in before the rain starts ~ have a wonderful day! XOXO
I always forget what I was going to write because I get carried away reading the comments, lol, but I learned to make sun tea from your book, I had never heard of it before, I think plants that volunteer themselves always grow best, your flowers are lovely! Sorry about your friends broken bone, thats so sad,
I get carried away reading the comments too — feels like tea time at my kitchen table!
Seeing all your delicious food has made me hungry 🙂 The flowers from your garden are gorgeous, love the rose and the hydrangeas. I wish summer would hurry up and come here. We have heavy rain, strong winds and they’ve forecast hail. It’s so cold we put the heating on the other day. It’s supposed to be June for heavens sake! We are going to an open air theatre production tomorrow night and I think I shall be wearing my winter coat and taking a blanket!!
I have to agree with you — cool and rainy here. Only redeeming feature is how green it is!
Today’s blog made me go back to your summer recipe page. Copied the Lemon-Limeade tea recipe and a few more. But on the bottom of the page is a picture of your green convertible “bug” wearing it’s flag and ready to go to the parade. Do you still have that adorable thing and is it still running? I am a die-hard beetle fan. That was my first car and I still think of it often. It’s name was “Wolfgang”….it ran forever. Miss it, I do.
I don’t have it anymore, the floor did what car floors do here on salty Martha’s Vineyard and finally gave way to rust. Fun while it lasted!
Salt erosion —someone needs to make an automatic clean water spray that drenches the under side of your car as you enter the drive way to park
Wouldn’t that be smart? I suppose you should wash your car, but considering the weather, hardly anyone on the east coast ever does.
Hey Susan. I am a big-time keeper of things I love. I have a folder where I kept all the Willards that came in the mail. I would quick make a cup of tea and just sit there reading it over, studying your art work, I can only imagine what that use to cost you to send those newsletters out to us. So easy online, but I still love my old copies. There is nothing like your art work, the beautiful water colors, whether it’s in your books, old newsletters or online. Thank you!
You are so nice to tell me! Thank you back Mary!
Sue, LOVE your idea of naming the “Sensible Party” after Jane Austen. That is absolute perfection. :>)
Our strawberries have been giving us sweet little berries too, but I have hydrangea envy. All greenery but no flower heads…I think I need to get mine out of its pot and into the ground. Do you add iron to your soil to keep them blue? I remember my aunt and grandma used to put an old nail in the soil by theirs’ for that reason – though I don’t know if that bit of folk wisdom really holds true…
That gazpacho looks and sounds so good, I think I’m going to have to go make some today. Thanks for the recipe! I think I have most of the makings on hand right now, but sadly no shrimp – though I do have avocados I could dice up, which I think would go well in that.
Speaking of well – hope your friend’s wrist is healed up well again, soon!
Hi Terri, I do not have any hydrangeas although my Mother raised them and I wanted to try and answer your questions. I do know this much they require acid to make the colors and Mother use to mulch them with pine needles and also fertilized them with one specifically for plants that needed acidic soil. They also suggest planting them on the Northside of your home otherwise you will get leaves and no flowers?? I hope this helped and I would suggest you “google” how to grow hydrangeas which should help you greatly. I’m not sure if different regions require different rules. Good Luck
Thanks for the info, Deborah! I do know I need to repot or plant them in the ground as they’ve been in the pots they came in for far too long, anyway. Think I might have some azalea potting soil around. Good suggestion to look them up. Will do that first. Thanks, again!
Hi Susan! I’m not too tech savvy and just today have discovered
you can listen to entire soundtrack and not just one song. My friend is on her way from michigan tonight so as I fix appetizers and chill wine, I am quite excited that we can sit on my deck this evening and listen to this. thanks for the tunes. Glad rainstorm has passed so we can enjoy the outdoors this evening.
You are doing very tech-good as far as I can see! 🙂
Salt erosion —someone needs to make an automatic clean water spray that drenches the under side of your car as you enter the drive way to …during those winter months when
Salt is on the roads– I know I would have a P V C grid across the drive if I lived there –even if I had to turn it on by hand–to rinse the car bottom
I know you would because you can do anything. I did have my Volvo dipped in something called Rusty Jones when I bought it in 1982. It still runs like a top, but they say the floor is going. Wah.
When I was a little girl and wore holes in the bottoms of my shoes (I tried really hard to outgrow them faster), my Dad used cardboard inserts. Perhaps an old refrigerator box would work for your Volvo? xo
LOL! If only.
Can’t figure why a three day old post is posting as a new post. Today is June 13 and the post is from June 10.
I have no idea, the wizard behind the curtain tells me nothing!
And the rain has arrived!
Non-Stop here in New York. I’m looking forward to the sun on Saturday. 🙂
Hi Everyone! I just caught up with the blogs that I missed during my move. Don’t know how I lived without internet for soooooooo long! I’m still unpacking boxes and now I truly believe there may be no end to them!!! And what about the missing things? It seems as though some little (or BIG) creature has taken some of MY THINGS! I know I packed them! My son says “just keep going and eventually you’ll run across them.” Sure, that’s what they all say.
Well, I really need to try to get some sleep…….plenty to do tomorrow. I’m having an out of state visitor in 2 weeks, eek! Thanks for being a bright spot in my day! You are such an inspiration to keep going!
LOL “sure, that’s what they all say!” ~ welcome “Home” Kirsten, in more ways than one! You were so smart to get company coming right away, when they leave, your house will be perfect! Sweet Dreams.
I keep coming back each day to check your blog and read the comments. I think the “girlfriends” must be the largest kindred spirit of its kind!
Still raining in NH. Looks like it may stop and I can get out there and shake the water off my peonies! Have a great weekend.
If the rain is coming up from the south, watch out — we are drenched, and it’s cold. I had to close the windows! Cozy sleeping weather though, and no humidity (of the hot and icky kind) so I am not complaining!
Jackie, I think you’re right — There are girlfriends in Japan, China, Indonesia, England, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Wales, France, Guam, Germany, Norway, India, Brazil, Spain, Italy, Argentina, Austria, Sweden, Canada, Ireland, Mexico, and Iceland ~ from Maine to Alaska, Hawaii to Baha California in the good ole’ US of A ~ (Did I forget anybody?) ~ that I have seen on this Heart of the Home Girlfriend’s Blog! A powerful Lobby if you ever decided to unite for a good cause!
Maybe in a couple more years! 🙂
we could untie to work for better mental health care here in this country, or children’s hunger here in this country.
oops meant unite not untie…cats are no help when they decide to block the screen.
We’ve got mental health care lobbies all over the Country. What we need is a powerful lobby for good government in Washington, dedicated to the welfare of the people, not the party or the person.
It would be a huge help if we could just take the money out of politics. That way they would quit listening to lobbyists (that pay for their campaigns and keep them in their jobs only if they do the wrong thing and vote for poison food and give away all our tax money to the banks) and start listening to us. Money = root of all problems.
This strawberry comment is late but: we rely on Driskoll’s from Watsonville, CA. They arrive in Nashville (pretty far away) in fresh, ripened, unspoiled, juicy, deep red condition and taste homegrown. Judy
I’m also in CA and love Driskoll’s. They even have organic products now…including blackberries and red raspberries. So sweet, always!
Happy Friday Everyone, I just want to send out a very Happy Father’s Day to all the men out there and hope you have a Wonderful Day!!! I for one was quite the “Daddy’s Girl” growing up and saw him as Superman and he never let me down. I must say that made it very tough when I was dating and hunting for a man to fill that “cape” so to speak!!! Well, when Jim came into my life I knew from the start he was so close to what Dad told me to always expect from any man that came into my life the rest is history. I love my Dad and thank him for all the guidance he gave to me and he still brings so much joy into my life when we have our little chats several times a week. So girls let’s do our very best to show the men in our lives how very much they mean to us and spoil them only the way the “girlfriends” can do!!! Enjoy the weekend.
I join Deborah in wishing a very Happy Father’s Day to all dads out there raising their kids to be happy, healthy, productive, generous, caring and Interested. Our country is going to need able and involved citizens more than ever in the coming years. And a special shout-out on Sunday for our Blog Dad. If this wonderful blog was a movie, one of the “credits” would undoubtedly be [as Sue often expresses] “Based in part from a story by Jack Stewart.” Thanks and have a great day, Jack! :>)
Well said Janet!
I have to agree with Deborah Heater! We need to show the guys how much we love and appreciate them. We take them for granted so far as we just expect they can do anything we ask of them and they usually come through 🙂 HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!!!!
Hi Susan. We are loving spring, early summer too! But our strawberry patch only has green berries so far! Usually in MN. they come towards the end of the mo., but they are kinda late this year, as we had a “snow day” in early May! [It’s been rainy alot here too. Now we have finally had sunshine the past 2 days!] Have you ever made Strawberry Bread? It is so fine! Last night while watering the gardens, I saw a hole with baby bunnies in it! No wonder the green bean leaves have been nibbled! Don’t think I can keep Peter Rabbit out this year….can’t wait to see those little critters hopping around! But next year watch out…..we’re gonna put in a more durable fence with smaller squares!!!!!!! Say, was wondering if you have any cute “beach party” ideas, or decoration ideas. Maybe I could find some little umbrellas for our lemonade drinks… Well ta ta for now! My clothes are dry. This is wonderful clothesline weather!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Love to you and yours!!!!!!!!!!!
For late-afternoon-into-evening beach parties, be sure to take along a bunch of small votives and some short plastic drink cups to put them in . . . they’re very romantic in the sand. We’re allowed to have bonfires on our beach here, so with the candles, it’s quite cozy.
Joe put a foot and a half roll of chicken wire all the way around the inside of our picket fence garden. No bunnies in there!
So very cool, the jars of light on the beach! I’ve got lots of recycled glass jars to use! Saw on another website to hot glue white doilies on the front of jars for a lighting affect!
Yes, the chicken wire is coming dear!!!!!!!!!!! xoxo
Lets see, where to being. First, sun tea. I LOVE Red Zinger. I have Peach herbal steeping in the sun on the deck right now! Strawberries–this year was amazing for our strawberry patch. I made two batches of strawberry jam and made strawberry bread (Oh my, sooo good.) What I have read is that after a couple years these strawberries will not produce as well, so I took some of the runners that had rooted and made myself a new bed. After this year, I don’t want to ever be without my own strawberries. Since they love the island, you may want to do that yourself. 🙂 Hope you have a great weekend.
I will have to, otherwise the way things are going they will be invading the neighbor’s yard next!
Happy Summer to you and all my new girlfriends. I am “camping” in our RV at the lake right now. I’m going grocery shopping so I copied the recipe for Gazpacho to take with me. Luckily I brought the blender so I plan to make this ultra healthy soup and end the Summer lighter than when I started it. This is the second time I rewrote the recipe. Maybe I ought to pack my SB cookbooks with me.
Also, cuddos to Janie for making the banners for different occasions. She knows this will catch on and some of the craftier readers will take the idea and run with it. Susan, of course, I saw it first with your creative hands before this was shown. I can’t wait to try to make some myself.
Bye for now and enjoy everything Summer is bringing to you.
Happy Camping — take a deep breath of that air for me Sheryl.
Made the Gazpacho. It was great, and my husband even liked it! Plus, I now have a new blender.
Congratulations Jan, new things to try!
To Cathy Guljas: Thank you Girlfriend for alerting me to the fact that you can listen to the entire soundtrack and not just one song! Was not aware you could do it! Thank you Susan for the wonderful music you send along with your blogs! BIG shout out to Susan’s Dad, Jack! You are a hoot and remind me so much of my Dad who lived to be 101 and is now in Heaven with my Mom. Happy weekend to everyone! oxoxox
Thank you Asha!
Though I’ve paged by this recipe in Heart of the Home I never made it – until I saw it on your blog and thought that doesn’t look too difficult to do I think I’ll try it! I made it today and had it for lunch – and it’s so good! Thank you for the pictures of making Gazpacho! I changed it just a little – didn’t add the oil, used apple cider vinegar instead of red wine vinegar, and added some basil. Tonight I’m simmering a little of it on the stove – and I added some Chesapeake Bay seasoning – and we’re going to have it over tilapia. I thought that sounded good. Happy Flag Day everyone!
Sounds wonderful Marianne!
p.s. Also looking forward to making the lemon and kiwi ices recipes this summer.
Dear Susan, decided to make your Gazpacho. Our weather has been in the high 90’s. Yesterday it was on our menu for dinner. The day was very cold and windy. At the last minute I decided to heat up the Gazpacho. Added a little Ricotta cheese. Yum. It tastes really great hot. Best Strawberry Shortcake recipe is Gladys Taber’s. An old fashioned biscuit dough, etc. Yes, the Strawberries must be field ripe and just picked. Love the comments, too. I am always intrigued and feel like I have been on a trip. You have so many friends that visit with you. Isn’t the World beautiful!
When I read your comment I grabbed Gladys’s Stillmeadow Cookbook, the only one of hers I have, but no Strawberry Shortcake ~ which one is it in?
Happy Father’s Day to Joe! (after all is said and done, he IS kind of Jack’s father because you are Jack’s mother! Makes sense, right? That is what Fanny and Betti think, anyway…) Girlfriends: Have any of you tried making “Kale Chips”? We tried making them tonight and they are pretty good! Feels slightly more virtuous than potato chips and gives you the crunch! 🙂
YES! Pat, that’s perfect. I’ll explain that to him! I’ve used baked Kale as a crispy garnish … tell us your recipe when you have a moment.
I have made kale chips and they are so good!Although they don’t store well, so you have to eat them right away (which isn’t a problem with me)!Another plus is that there easy to make!
Spent the day with the mother of my Great-grandson-to-be, her mother AND her grandmother – were we ever a group!! A little warm in Paso but that was OK. Laughter prevailed! Poor little Nawal is blossoming out and got really tired. But we kept her awake with our little “jabs” about motherhood and childhood. Such a marvelous time indeed. We shopped at the new Smart & Final in Paso and they have a terrific produce department – got the strawberries, apricots, etc. This time of year is special when it comes to food. My patio is set up wonderfully – can sit and have coffee in the morning, read anytime, or just relax and watch the grass grow. Like I said – a special time of year. Added a new chair swing to the patio and simply love it! Wishing all of you “Girlfriends” a wonderful beginning of summer! Go barefoot & have coffee in your bathrobe first thing in the morning!!! Divine!!! XXXXOOOO
I love your spirit Pat! Always a joy to hear from you! xoxo
Hello Out There Chicks…….
This is Gail from Southern California……I am the grand prize winner and so excited to receive my copy of “A Fine Romance”! I will be waiting patiently by my black mailbox!!!!! Susan, did you say that you would be at Remnants of the Past in November on the 9th???? ( I do believe that I read that in your blog) I hope so, because I will be there and would love to meet you!!! November 9th is my birthday and I am dragging my family (I really don’t have to drag them!) and we will all be in San Luis Obispo for the show!! Hope to meet you there!!!!
Yes, you are Gail! I don’t know who’s more excited, you or me! I’ll send your book the moment it comes in, your address is on my calendar! I will be at the Remnants of the Past Event for sure — I’m not sure whether I’m supposed to arrive the 9th or the 10th, I’m waiting for Judy to tell me, but I know it’s one of those two days. How perfect, your birthday!
My mouth is watering after seeing all those beautiful fruits and veggies! And the best part is that there good for you!I love watermelon too and I’m so lucky to have one in my fridge,well now I know what I’m having for breakfast! Now I think it’s time to go and make that banner you were talking about.Thank you Susan for that summery post!
Well this is my fourth attempt. Not your fault, connection problems, or user error. LOL
I love the switch to Summer. Thank you for sharing your garden and recipes. I love the paper print with the patriotic hearts. Could you have material made with that pattern? I love the bakery string too. Any more thoughts on designing charms???
They are coming, will be here in a few weeks! SO excited, I just ordered them yesterday.
Your own design or the MV designs???
Three different beads, I did a Martha’s Vineyard bead and two others . . . Girlfriends, had to do that, and then I just needed A Fine Romance!
Any chance of publishing the last several years, together, of Willard? Just found the first one which goes till 2003, I believe (I’d been looking for it!) Now almost 10 years; ready to publish again? (Nice to have them all in one place.)
Happy Summer? Can’t wait for the book this fall.
After 2003 they were sent in emails via the internet. I would have to figure out how to publish them in the form they’re in.