This post is all about Nesting, but first Girlfriends, I just have to vent! Omarosa!!! Are you dying? Every time we turn on the TV, there she is. I run to the wood-room to change the channel but there’s no place to hide, she is either on, or she is coming on, or she will be on soon, or they’re talking about the last/next time she was on. It’s like an alternate universe. My sister and I were shooting the breeze on the phone, started talking about her by accident, and suddenly felt like characters in her reality show! Everyone on TV is part of her soap opera. We all are. Why are they making this woman rich?🤑 Our tax money paid her $180,000 a year salary, AND she had an assistant! Now, I fear the White House will feel it necessary to fight back, and it will never end! What if they have a feud? What if they take her to court??? Can you imagine the “Breaking News?” 😜 Save us! There needs to be a new TV box that only has smart, kind, and normal in it. Where is Beatrix Potter when we need her? Has no one heard of the word gravitas? These are the questions! Please, please do not let Omarosa be in history books. That is my prayer.🙏 I think what happens with old people, when they die, they are GLAD to go, there are some things people just don’t want to see. Okay, I’m done. Don’t worry, TV is off! Sorry, it’s the heat. I love you. All will be well. Keep the faith. Back to real life . . .
I blame everything on the heat! How’s it going with you? Thank you so much for your sweet patience . . . I’m sorry I haven’t written, but I’ve been thinking of you … I just needed to settle in. Four months was a long time to be gone. But each day has been another step up the back walk, I’ve been working on the new book, but also reading my delicious books (just finishing Letters between the Mitford sisters), walking early mornings, cooking ~ and, really, more than anything, I’ve been NESTING. I feel fall coming! 🍂 We are HOME, and I am LOVING it. Such a homebody, I get up in the morning, scramble some eggs, cut up some watermelon, stir a little cream into my tea, look out the window, clean things, shine things, stare at them, sing at them, feel so much gratitude, which I do, and am, and now I’m ready to write and say HELLO and catch up! Happy, despite the ridiculous heat and humidity which I know so many of you are experiencing too. I took that photo above from the window in our kitchen door . . . and that’s not rain.
This would be the view if you could see out the window! SO, basically, I rarely go out. Certainly NOT to the garden ~ you would have to cut your way through the air with a machete to get there. I asked Joe on our walk (where we feel like laundry just out of the washer at 7 am), wouldn’t it be nice if we could just slit this air open, climb through and inside would be cool freshness? But every once in a while, we get a good storm, the air clears, the sea breezes blow, and then it’s like spring fever all over again. 🌸
Out I go, from flower to flower, like a bee. A bee with a camera. This is Rose of Sharon ~ it lives on a pretty bush that grows tall and lush in so many gardens on Martha’s Vineyard. We only planted it last fall, this is its first year to bloom … it will make such a nice late-season thing when it’s fully grown.
We also planted a white hydrangea Bobo H. paniculata in front of the three Rose of Sharon bushes.
They’re all still rather spindly . . . just a couple of flowers so far . . .
But someday they will make a romantic flowery partial hedge in the lawn, a cosy alcove of pink and white for the arbor where we have dinner parties. Next year will be better, and in three years, they will be heaven! And for the future of my darling house, it will be even heavener. 💞 I’m not the most patient person in the world, but some things are worth it.
As always, as I get back to the kitchen porch, I see I have somebody waiting for me . . .
He shows his pleasure through the window . . . I feel so popular! What a baby! Gimme that boy! Gimme that tummy!
So, yes, we’re up to all kinds of things, home-wise, stuff needs to be done! We’re going to put a fresh coat of white paint on the front of the house, but it’s been so hot, Joe decided to wait on that, and start on the dining room with the air conditioner in it! September will be luv-lee for house painting. The boy is a genius! It’s the genius’s birthday today. I’m up early to write this post, so I can go tend to the Leo King and let him know he is loved. Isn’t real life delightful?
More delightful real life: We had a leak upstairs, rather, a recurring leak, despite being fixed, it came again, and the last time was while we were away . . . Our wallpaper has been fighting a losing battle with mold for a couple of years, and now it looks like this in some places!
The ceiling is a mess too . . . and you can see here, there’s more staining on the wallpaper, pretty much everywhere in the room.
So, Joe’s fixing it. It all came down fairly easily, just took one day. We are going to give the walls a rest for a few years and let that mold problem go away permanently. Joe will fix the ceiling, paint the woodwork, paint the walls, and I’m choosing the fabric for ENGLISH CURTAINS, the heavy, lined kind! Which I will tell you about soon. Lots of Before and After on the horizon! It’ll be fun! I’ve wanted these curtains FOREVER, every time we go to England I experience unbearable curtain lust. I have bitten the bullet to do it, and the bullet tastes like cotton candy.💞 Ahh fabric, with hydrangeas on it, or sweet peas, or clusters of ribbons and flowers… eeek ….
If this wallpaper could talk. Almost twenty years of being romantic, giving loveliness, reflecting candlelight, witnessing turkey dinners and best-friend’s birthdays. Maybe in a few years, we’ll have wallpaper again, maybe a pattern just like this one. Until then, I’m happy, I do love to decorate! Fresh paint is the fastest way I know to make an exciting change and bring in a breath of fresh air! We are thinking either pink, or, hold on to something, navy blue! The trim and wainscoting will be glossy white! And heavy ENGLISH CURTAINS. Oooo.
And Jack likes it too… 😻
The luvlee thing about photos, wallpaper never has to go away. The memories go on forever.
So what else? I have, as of today, washed and dried, (tennis balls in the dryer helps to puff them), twelve feather pillows. I’m cleaning everything, making this entire house fresh as a daisy.🌿 So we can light candles and cook something wonderful and turn on the old music and open all the windows this fall. This may look like work, but this is what I love. I was born to clean! Not so much the cleaning, the part that comes after, the pride of it.💙
Washed the comforters too, the pillow covers . . .
The mattress covers, the sheets and throws . . .
The pillows come out fat and feathery and smell so clean!
Oh yes, cutting boards and wooden spoons have all been oiled for that warm and well-loved patina . . . you can read more about that HERE.
I’ll save the quilts for the clothesline, when the leaves start to fall and cool winds begin to blow. 🍂 Dreamy!
Shelf-by-shelf, whether dishwasher, or handwashed, all the dishes came out and shelves were hot-watered, soaped, and sparkled! I think while I clean. Probably the best time to plot a book is while I’m washing dishes and watching the birds at the feeders! I always have a pen and paper nearby in case I think of something wonderful! Even in the shower!
And cleaning the critters too. While Joe sands walls, I’m making the rest of it look nice for the new dining room!
But of course, into the studio I go every day. It’s heaven, in my imagination I still live in England, wandering the countryside, seeing the beauty. Writing, remembering quotes I hope will be perfect for the book, searching them out, pulling photos, painting borders, making a list of the recipes I’m going to include. I’m reminded how spoiled we were, going to a different pub every day, each with delicious food, I began to yearn for some good ole’ British cooking . . .Nowadays, I have to be my own grandma!
Was thinking about one particular dinner we had . . .
In this darling pub in Kingham . . .
Where the food was delicious, and we were so happy. So I found this pub online, discovered the name of the chef was Emily Watkins, and found one of her recipes. Look at her, she’s inspiring me and she doesn’t even know it.💞
It’s called “Baby Broad Bean, New Potato and Fresh Goat’s Cheese Salad” . . . we knew it had to be good because everything we tasted there was so wonderful. And it was so easy.
So off we went to find broad beans. But wait, what IS a broad bean? Google knew! So off we went for “Fava Beans,” because that’s what they’re called in America. And this is what a fresh fava bean looks like. Who knew? I think I like the name Broad Bean better than Fava Bean. Something a little too Hannibal Lector about Fava Beans.
Slit them open, and what do we have . . . big fat beans nestled in pockets surrounded with a protective foam-like substance … cuddled beans.
Pop them out . . . into the colander to give them a rinse.
Following the recipe we blanched the beans for 30 seconds, then plunged them in cold water. The recipe said, “Remove the skins and set aside.” “There are skins? Didn’t we just do that?” We’re talking to ourselves.
Yes, there are skins! Like one of those gifts where there’s a smaller box inside each box you unwrap! And there it is, the actual bean . . . no longer so very broad.
They have a little seam in them and can just automatically split in two . . . a wonder of nature.
Beautiful color, and they taste wonderful . . . these will not be our last broad beans!
We set the beans aside, and did potato prep. We don’t have the melt-in-your-mouth “Jersey” potatoes available in England (and called for in the recipe), so we got as close as we could with these small white new potatoes. We cooked 500 g of them (1/2 lb) until “just tender,” then removed from heat, added a “small handful of fresh mint,” and set the pan aside for another five minutes for the mint to infuse. Interesting, don’t you think? Joe’s making lamb chops, I think the mint and faaaava beans will be perfect with them. Drain the pan, remove the mint, and smash the potatoes roughly. Salt and pepper them.
While the potatoes were simmering, to the darkening garden I went, slashing air with machete to make breathing possible, to get some chives. Sorry to say, no chive flowers left!
Time out, short pause, must take photo, take quick sniff of rose!!!
Back in the house to mince the chives . . .
While I was in the garden, Joe started the dressing . . . whisking “rapeseed” oil, which is “canola oil” in America (I love foreign languages, especially when they’re in English) with juice of half a lemon, a tsp. of Dijon mustard, and a half tsp. of sugar. I made little chunks of the goat’s cheese and put them in a small bowl. (British recipes are MUCH easier to do if you have metric measurers like those above. Joe had no problem when the recipe called for 60 ml of canola oil ~ it’s a quarter of a cup!)
Then it was time to assemble the salad . . . “Put sorrel leaves or wild rocket in a large bowl,” ~ if you don’t see those at your supermarket, look for arugula because that’s rocket in America. I doubt it’s very wild though. Toss the greens together with the potatoes and beans, and the dressing, tossing gently, coating everything. Add the nuggets of goat’s cheese, and garnish with chives (and chive flowers for extra prettiness and flavor if you have them).
By this time Joe’s chops are sizzling …
Time out for a photo . . . we’re so proud of ourselves we have to take pictures!
And here we go! We loved it. It was the Pub Food we were dreaming about. Flavors combined like buttah, the potatoes, the cheese, the slight mintyness. We thought we might want to try a little bit of lemon zest in the dressing next time, but it was delicious just as it was. Joe woke up the next morning talking about it! A very good sign! We had such a good time doing this, I printed out two more Emily Watkins recipes to try. I’ll let you know how they come out! Pub House USA!
Happiness is . . .
Did you see this? It’s our little feature in Victoria Magazine! Pretty pictures, not lots of information, so if you’d like to read more about this heavenly day, go HERE. It was still lovely to have this as another memory of a truly remarkable day that went by waaaay too fast!
This is still my favorite photo, even if you can’t see the faces very well! The fact that Girlfriends came from so many different places, was just amazing. A convergence of kindred spirits. 💞 In the very garden belonging to Beatrix Potter, not all that long ago.
Yesterday, I received the first samples of the new cups in from England! They turned out beautifully, luv-lee deep colours of orange and red! All approved, and up now for presale! We’re trying to have them in by late October, but hopefully early in late October! (And yes for you that ask, that fairy tale banner is still in our webstore!)
I’ve been keeping the paper ones on my shelf . . . Gives Joe a little surprise when he grabs one for tea! Ha ha!
Yes, this mess belongs to me! There’s method to this madness, never fear. I’m getting very close to being finished with the “research” part of the new book . . . Tomorrow I do my first page layouts! Pen hand is ready! I’m so excited!
Look at this fat thing. All the bits of information I collected is now between the pages where it belongs . . . I think you are going to love it. 💞 There’s been lots of talk between us girls on Twitter: A Fine Romance resulted from a two-month trip. This time it was four months! Plus, I want to include our Scotland trip, so we will have England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland. I was thinking, what should I tell and what should I leave out. Because of the size … but now, with a little help from my friends, I think it might be two books. I’m just going to go and go and go until it’s done and leave nothing out. If it turns out as fat as the 1931 Oxford Dictionary, I will turn it into two books. Two books of gardens, cottages, tea rooms, castles, recipes, heroes, bunting, ancient churchyards, one-track lanes, hedgerows, pubs, ghosts, history, and legends, and so much more. Are you ready?
From me to you Girlfriends!
My grandest blessing! ❤️ Happy Birthday Joe Hall, boyfriend for life. 💞
Bye Girls, have a wonderful day! ❌ ⭕️ Here’s that recipe!
EMILY WATKIN’S BROAD BEANS, NEW POTATO, AND FRESH GOAT’S CHEESE SALAD Serves 4
- 1 lb. (1 kg) broad beans (fava beans)
- 1/2 lb. (500g) small creamiest white-skinned potatoes
- handful of fresh mint
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp. sugar
- 1/4 c. (60ml) rapeseed oil (canola)
- 2 big handfuls (100g) salad greens, sorrel, rocket, OR arugula
- about 1 c. (or to taste, or 120g) fresh goat’s cheese in nugget size pieces
- one bunch chives, finely chopped, chive flowers too, if you have them
- salt and pepper to taste
Remove beans from pods, blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds (you want them al dente). Pour off the water and plunge the beans into ice water. Remove the inside skins from the beans, put them in a little bowl and set aside. Put potatoes in salted water just to cover and bring to boil; simmer until just tender. Remove from heat, put mint in with the potatoes and set them aside for five minutes for the mint to infuse. Drain the pan, discard the mint, crush the potatoes roughly, salt and pepper, set aside to cool. In a small bowl, whisk the oil, lemon juice, mustard and sugar together. Put the greens in a large bowl, add the beans, the cooled potatoes, pour over the dressing and toss lightly to coat everything. Add nuggets of goats cheese, garnish with chives (and chive flowers if you can, nasturtiums are nice too!). Serve. Good the next day too. 😊