Thursday, May 28, 2015

News From the Garden

Life's been keeping me happily busy these days but I need to get back into the blogging mode.  Here's what's been happening in my life lately.

The flower beds.
The dark pink peonies have been blooming and what a treat! 
My pale pink ones are just starting to open.
The irises have been pretty, too.  This is an old fashioned kind my mom shared from her garden years ago.  I always smile when they bloom.  They are a wonderful reminder of her.  She had an incredible green thumb. 
Wish I had a bit more of that special trait!
She wouldn't have like these, though.  She did NOT like the color yellow but I do.  These have just finished blooming. 

I don't have very many tea roses but two are blooming. 
This is one Mom would have LOVED!  Pink was her color! 
This pale pink rose bush is one Wonderful Hubby bought me years ago. 
I just love the delicate color!

The clematis have been trying to outdo each other.  I've planted several different varieties together and the color combination is so pretty.
These little alliums are a new addition and are a bit smaller than I hoped for.  They are pretty, though.
The vegetable garden is planted and coming along nicely.  I'm trying a few new beans and some new gardening techniques I've learned about through my Master Gardener group.  I'll write a post about that garden soon. 
Favorite Son is doing a summer internship in Pennsylvania and my Dear MIL went with me last week to take out some of his things (golf clubs, guitar-you know, things he can't live without!)  It also gave us some peace of mind seeing his new surroundings.  He's in the heart of Amish country, Lancaster County!  He's staying with a wonderful family and has his own little 'suite' in the country.  I think he's going to like it.  Wonderful Hubby and I will go back just before he comes home to bring his things back and let Dad get a chance to see where he's been working. 
During this first visit, which was over Memorial Day, Fav Son wanted to visit Gettysburg.  I took some pictures that I'll share closer to the 4th of July but here is a flowering hawthorn, Missouri's state flower.
Our front porch was in full bloom when we returned!
One of our Border Collies, Sallie, said she watered all the flowers for me but I think it was Wonderful Hubby who actually kept them well hydrated!
Sallie and her dad, Champ.
The chicks have grown up!!  They won't stay in their pen anymore and have become fixtures in the yard and gardens.  I was hoping for all hens but I strongly suspect I have two roosters.
 This fellow is one of them.  I don't mind them being assertive but we may have to make some decisions if they develop too much attitude!
My tiny violet has finally bloomed!  One of our garden club members showed us how to propagate them about eight month ago and I think this little guy is going to make it!!
I just talked to Precious Daughter and she's planning to come home for a visit!!  It will be SO good to see her!
Thanks for stopping by!  I'm going to try to get back into a weekly blogging habit.  I really enjoy it and it's such an easy way to 'scrapbook'
our newly retired life! 
Hope you all have a great weekend!
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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Book Club Night and Moderntone Dishes

I hosted our monthly book club last week and we discussed Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline.  The novel was centered around two female characters, one an orphaned Irish girl who, with other children from New York, was sent West to hopefully find a new home, and a modern day orphan in today's foster care system.  Kline did an artful job of weaving these two women's lives together in an easy and interesting read.  As always we had a lively discussion and lots of laughter! 
Since part of the book was set in the 1930s and 40s, I decided to use the Moderntone Platonite dishes my dear mother-in-law gifted me several years ago.  I've never actually used them and thought this would be the perfect time to get them out.  As a very young child, I remembered my mother setting our table with pink plates, pink cups and saucers and even little pink salt and pepper shakers.  Many years later, I think the first time I visited my husband's parents' home, I saw those same pink dishes PLUS BLUE dishes, GREEN dishes and YELLOW dishes!!!  Besides the plates, cups and saucers, there were BOWLS, TUMBLERS AND SHERBET DISHES!  I couldn't believe there was actually a complete set!  My mother told me she had gotten her starter set from the local grocery store but had traded the other colors with family members so she could have her pretty pink dishes.  I was so taken with my mother-in-law's collection that she gave them to me when she moved.  They've been in storage until now.

Here are a few photos of our table.
We enjoyed popcorn during our discussion but I chose two recipes suggested from the book for dessert.  The first was Mrs. Murphy's Current Cake, which Dorothy enjoyed for her birthday while attending Miss Larson's class. 

The second was a rhubarb tart Dorothy remembered her grandmother baking.  (Well, she remembered her making a tart, not exactly sure it was rhubarb.)

I'm including the recipes for the current cake from this site, which gives great ideas for book club recipes!

Dorothy's Current Cake
“The bread, dense and moist, tastes like Ireland.”

(This recipe is adapted from Nick Malgieri's “The Modern Baker” [DK Publishing, 2008].)       Makes 1 loaf

2 cups whole-wheat flour (see note)
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/3 cup vegetable oil
¾ cup buttermilk or whole milk

2 cups dried currants (or chopped raisins)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8 ½-by-4 ½-inch loaf pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. 
In a large bowl, whisk eggs then beat in sugars. Separately whisk in oil and then buttermilk, whisking until smooth after each addition. Fold in flour mixture and then quickly fold in currants.

Scrape batter into pan and smooth the top.  Bake in preheated oven until well risen and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 to 50 minutes. Cool bread in pan 5 minutes, then unmold onto a rack and cool completely before slicing.
Note: A combination of whole-wheat and all-purpose flour also can be used.

I hope you enjoyed seeing my lovely Moderntone dishes as much as I've enjoyed using them this past week!  I'm having a little trouble putting them back in their boxes.  :)

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