Spring Forward!

At last!  More than one day of gorgeous skies, fabulous temperatures and all around perfect weather for working in the yard and feeding my spring fever!
We have been working all morning cleaning up weeds, transplanting a couple of roses and adding fresh mulch and color to everything.
Audley digging to transplant roses.

 

Blue Girl and English roses surround our patio …. the fragrance is heavenly!

 

Even the beagle wanted to help!
These are just a few shots I snapped with the phone while our working this morning.  I can’t wait to finally have it together and everything blooming!
Not only do I have spring fever, I finally seem to be inspired and have worked through this writer’s block or whatever it was I have been experiencing.
I can’t wait to finally catch up with everyone and share some of the awesome things we have going on around here!
Happy Saturday Y’all!

Autumn Blessings {& My Roses}

Oh, how I have adored these glorious autumn days; mostly blue skies, warm (but not too warm) days, crisp cool nights, and vivid color all around……

The view from our yard to the tennis courts

…. Leaves crunching underfoot, colorful assortment of pumpkins, apple cider from a local orchard, cuddling under a blanket sipping hot tea, pumpkin pies, family reunions, cheering for our local football team, that first pot of spicy chili, making apple butter, glorious sunsets ….. 

Why is an autumn sunset always the prettiest?

…. It always makes my heart sing with joy!

I’m amazed every autumn at the palate of color God paints for our enjoyment, especially this year, our first here in South Carolina!

Seasons are such a wonderful blessing in our lives!
Autumn is a season that makes me happy.

 

I love the color of my normally blue hydrangea shrubs; even they are changing for the fall.

I have loved working in our yard: weeding around rock borders, cleaning up spider webs, mowing, for what I hope is the last time, a preparing my plants for the winter.


AND THEN, Sandy and a major early season cold front paid a visit. 

We were spared any damage as we are just far enough from the coast Sandy let us be, but we have had the high winds of the cold front (and snow just miles north of us!) grab our attention and let us know Old Man Winter is not too far away!

It won’t be too long before the cayenne peppers (they go quite well with those winter pots of chili) completely quit producing……

 

And my roses that have put on quite a show this fall will have lost most all of their petals.

But they were beautiful!

Back in the spring, just after we moved here, my sweet hubby transplanted 34 roses bushes from our home in Alabama!  Of the thirty-four, we only lost three; the rest have been spoiled pampered and looked amazing!  They put on a spectacular show for us this fall.

My David Austin English roses are some of my favorites.  These are the ones that fill my back yard, surround my patio and front porch.  Their fragrance is heavenly and once they mature they grow more like a hedge shrub.

Mine will take a while though to reach that stage as we had to heavily prune them after transplanting.  But their blooms have been most enjoyable!

The surprise of the fall was the blooming of my Queen Elizabeth garden roses.  These were the last ones we moved; waiting almost too late in the season.  They didn’t bloom all summer and showed very little growth, but still survived.  Their blooms were stunning and some of my favorites.

{I checked…. not a petal left this morning!}

Our running roses also loved this fall

My Don Juan running rose bush is over 7 feet tall now!

 

Coral running roses next to our chimney

 

But my pride and joy is this coral beauty here….

This rose bush is over twenty years old!  I received it as a high school graduation gift and it stayed at my parents house until 12 years ago when I moved it to our home in Alabama.  I wanted to leave it behind because I was afraid it would not survive!  Audley decided to moved it anyway, and I am so glad that he did!

What a wonderful surprise to see it bloom so beautifully the last couple of weeks!

While this front has faded out the last of summer, most of autumn and ushered in a taste of winter, it seems the mums and asters are happy with these cooler temps.  Maybe we will have just a few more days of color.

 

And while I love the color on the trees……

 

I love the look of the fallen leaves.

 

And I am ever so thankful that my teenagers still get a kick out of playing in them.
{Don’t tell them that I told you!}

I am also blessed because they can rake them as well!

Tell me my friends, what are you loving this fall?

And, for my friends who are in the Northeast, please know you are in our prayers as Sandy passes your way.  I hope that you guys have been spared with the most minimal of damage.

Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Tomatoes

I don’t think there is anything better in the summer than fresh, homegrown tomatoes.  After planting mine a bit late, babying them through a serious heat wave, and then have a large tree branch fall on three of my six plants in a storm, I didn’t think we would ever have any tomatoes!  But as July is wrapping up, I do have some beautiful heirloom tomatoes that are gracing my table on a regular basis from my omelets at breakfast to a salad for supper!
Brandywine tomato growing beautifully.

 

Clusters of Roma’s ready for a delicious pasta sauce.
Tomatoes are so versatile.  Classified as a fruit, they also work well as a vegetable and can be prepared in so many delicious ways.
Our family favorite?
Fried Green Tomatoes.
 
Of course at this point in time, nothing fried is coming through my kitchen, so improvising to get a similar effect is necessary.
Dipping my sliced green tomatoes in buttermilk, I coated them in Panko (Japanese Bread Crumbs) seasoned with a little cayenne pepper and onion powder, then baked them at 400 degrees about 15 minutes or so.
 
 
 
The result was crispy and tasty “fried” green tomatoes that pleased my feisty family.

 

My twelve year old son likes his tomatoes best cold.  It is nothing for him to eat one like an apple, but his most favorite way to have them is on a good old-fashioned BLT sandwich on lightly toasted Sunbeam bread.
Add a little light Miracle Whip & smear of French’s mustard, and I think I could eat several of these right now.
 
 
But, I suppose my favorite way to prepare tomatoes in the summer is a lovely Caprese salad.  Using fresh tomatoes and basil right from the garden then pairing it with fresh (skim) mozzarella cheese, I think I could sit and eat an entire plate of this refreshing salad!
I think everyone prepares their Caprese salad a little differently.  For this one I layered my tomatoes and thinly sliced mozzarella cheese and then topped it with freshly ground black pepper, a very light pinch of Kosher salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, and a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar.  To finish it off, I shredded fresh basil on top for a fabulous accompaniment to grilled BBQ chicken for supper. 
At the end of the day we can’t possibly eat as many tomatoes as we have coming in the house, so canning them to carry on a little of this fresh flavor into the winter is a great solution.  Nothing brightens up a savory soup, stew or winter pot roast more than home canned tomatoes!
I like to cold pack my tomatoes which allows for me to do as few or as many at one time as possible.  Cold packing tomatoes is fairly easy, especially when you are using firm and fresh tomatoes.
First, I prepared my jars by washing them, then boiling them in a large pot about fifteen minutes.  I usually put my lids in a separate pot to boil so that they are easier to access.
While my jars are boiling I also prepare a pot of boiling water to drop my tomatoes in after I have rinsed them off and slit their skin a little.  I let them sit in the hot water about 1minute, then remove them to cool.  The skins should just slip right off!
I try to remove as many of the seeds as possible and then dice my tomatoes.
Removing each of the jars from their pot, I pack the tomatoes in firmly.  For each pint or 1/2 liter I add  1 Tablespoon of lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Finally I seal each jar and then process in boiling water for 20 minutes.  Since I am cold packing they need to process a little longer than necessary to heat through and seal.
See, I told you it was easy!
{Very messy though.}
 
Linking up with Foodie Friday this week.
What is your favorite fresh summer treat?

The World is a Rose…

“I feel as if I had opened a book and found roses of yesterday sweet and fragrant, between its leaves.” 
~Lucy Maude Montgomery ~ Anne of the Island
 
David Austin “Christopher Marlowe” English Rose
 
The pitiful rose bush above, left, was one of my English roses we moved from Alabama back in mid-March.  I was so worried that these were not going to survive.  But, look at it now!  
 
Filling out, covered in blooms, and making me smile as I look out my window while washing dishes each evening!
 
 
I am up to my elbows in strawberries today, but I wanted to share something besides cell-phone photos of my roses right now.
 

 

“Christopher Marlowe”
“Strawberry Hill” English Rose

 

“Strawberry Hill”
Sweet Yellow Roses
As soon as these strawberries are put away, I’ll share what’s going on in our kitchen & reveal the winner of the Lodge Cast iron give-away.