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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Rancho Santa Fe

Our friends J and B invited us to come for a visit. 
No wonder so many people love California.  It is beautiful.  It has everything;  The ocean, the warming sun, flowers blooming everywhere,  mild climate and fruit and blossoms on trees at the same time.

Picking oranges, lemons and limes with the sun shining on my face. 
Taking in the intoxicating perfume.  What a treat, especially for us snowbirds coming from minus degree temperatures and several feet of snow.

 Welcoming us, the portal to the garden, hand carved doors from Mexico.  Palm trees planted by B forty years ago... the trees now almost a hundred feet tall.

Beauty everywhere and flowers in our apartment

We brought our treasures home.

We will make lemon juice and freeze it to be used for Summer Margaritas, afternoon teas and most importantly, during canning season when our fruit is ripe.

 We are so lucky to have such special friends!

Thank you J and B for a lovely vacation


Friday, February 25, 2011

On the way to Rancho Santa Fe

About 350 miles (560 km) from our house, 
through mostly desert, a few small towns and a couple of Indian Reservations....

There is Las Vegas

It's out in nowhere.  In the middle of the Desert. It shouldn't even be there.  But it has everything.  The Statue of Liberty,

The Eiffel Tower

La Belle Epoque Architecture

The Sphinx and the Great Pyramid
and so much more

 And the Bellagio, the ultimate Las Vegas Hotel experience with its famous dancing fountains. A fabulous, ever changing spectacle of  fountains dancing to Opera, Classical and Broadway tunes.

click on button in lower right corner for full view

Watching it from the balustrades, street side, the show is free, every 15 minutes in the evening and every 1/2 hour during the day.

Or you can splurge and watch the show from one of the award winning dining rooms at the grand Bellagio.

Now on to California where our friends are waiting for us.



Friday, February 18, 2011

I'm leaving

Because it snowed again last night

Karin of LaPouyette has Hellebore blooming in her garden.
Sharon of my french country home has Snowdrops blooming in her garden.
and Georgianna of Georgianna Lane has Daffodils blooming in her garden.

 I do have Nasturtiums blooming in my greenhouse

 More snow yesterday, but our pond is beginning to unfreeze

I can wait for Spring a little longer because I also have Geraniums blooming in my greenhouse

And Martha Washingtons

Look what's growing on my Frilly Echeveria Cactus stalk.

Do you remember when I so ruthlessly decapitated my Echeveria last November?

Now I will have a dozen or more new cacti.  Would you like one?  It's yours for the asking.

I have Hellebore growing in my garden, still asleep under 2 feet of snow
The above picture was taken last May

And I have orchids blooming in my house

Between visits to my friends, and flowers blooming in my greenhouse and an occasional champagne picnic, while cross country skiing, I think that I will manage to wait for Spring to come.

Have a lovely weekend, my dear blogging Friends


Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Eureka was once a bustling Utah Mining Town

Old Mining Headstock just outside of Eureka

From our house there are two ways to get to Eureka.
We can head for Tooele (Too-i-la) by the Great Salt Lake
or we can head west and take the back roads.

Where you will not see another car for hours and hours

Where you will see sage brush and tumble weeds caught along the fence line

And after three hours you will reach Eureka, a Modern Day Ghost Town where a sign painted on a brick wall proclaims  "A NEW PAIR FREE if they RIP"

Where you will find the preserved cabin once belonging to Porter Rockwell who became the bodyguard of Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church
Joseph Smith advised  Porter Rockwell  'cut not thy hair and no bullet or blade will harm you'.

Eureka was one of the quietest mining towns in the West.
In 1910 it was the 9th largest city in Utah, population 3,500.
Today, about 250 people live in Eureka

Of course, it has a saloon, I mean bar, and possibly, even dancing girls.

You will find several churches.

And a company store.  (Would love to see the old sign underneath)

Unnoticed, old and new, live side by side, harmoniously

A glass facade but not a roof to protect the interior.

Why the glass wall? 

Is someone living behind those curtains? 

Who walked up these stairs?

We call these "Fixer Uppers."  Love the Balcony.  Are you up for the challenge?

Going home, not even a contrail to keep us company.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

A heart to wear all year round

I saw it in a shop window, more than 20 years ago.
In a little town just outside of Munich, Bavaria, Germany

I just had to have it
It looks like it's been worn a lot...and so it has

This is how I would go about making this brooch

Cut a piece of cardboard into heart shape
Glue heart-shaped image onto card board
Glue heart-shaped piece of leather to back
Punch holes all around the 3 layers of the heart
Thread needle with colored suede and sew layers together
Glue clasp onto back

Add a few trinkets to the front

When I purchased this heart, the image was printed in black and white.  I hand colored it with watercolor pencils.  I noticed that all of exatmo hearts are now colored.  Did they see mine?

Happy Valentine's Day my dear blogging Friends
I wish you love this Sunday, this Monday and always.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What to give your Valentine

"Stories from a time when food, love and music were the essential parts of life ..." (
Foreword Keith Floyd)

A rich collection of scandalous stories of love and passion
Carol Payne

"Doreen dreamt she lay in the Brassicas with her Gypsy Lover..."

"But today she was excited for she was meeting Bertie Floyd and they were going for a walk down by the Tidefork river.  He was going to show her how to tickle a trout..."

"Shortly after this event Betty was packed off to London to stay with her aunt..."

"Queenie grew up to be a smashing looking girl, a bit wild like her mother, a lover of life and men..."

"She came from a poor Cornish family, so poor that Amy was made to wear underwear made out of flour sacks, which were printed with red, bold letters 'THE FINEST FLOUR'..."

"She was a proud plump woman, well respected in the village..."

I leave this charming little book in our guest cottage but each time our guests leave I have to check...it fits so easily into their luggage

Book available at Amazon


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I daren't tell you ...

The cost of this Valentine Heart

Price of Gritti cooking school for two, a splendid room at the five-star Gritti...you get the idea

Here is my Valentine gift to you

White Chocolate Heart with Passion Fruit Jelly
Executive Chef  Celestino Giacomello of the Hotel Gritti Palace, Venice, Italy 

White chocolate Bavarian Cream

250 g milk
100 g egg yolks
50 g sugar
10 g fish gelatine
250 g white chocolate
600 g whipping cream

Passion Fruit Jelly

200 g passion fruit pulp
60 g sugar
2 leaves fish gelatine


100 g egg yolks
50 g sugar
100 g plain flour
100 g potato starch
meringue (150 g egg whites and 75 g sugar)

Preparation time:  50 minutes

Difficulty:  Medium

1.  Prepare the Bavarian cream.  Bring milk to the boil.  Beat egg yolks with sugar until smooth then add the milk gradually, the gelatine previously soaked in cold water and squeezed, and lastly, the white chocolate cut up into small pieces.
Once the mixture has cooled down, fold in the whipping cream.

2.  Meanwhile prepare the jelly.  Soak the gelatine in cold water and squeeze it, dissolve it in a double-boiler, add sugar and the pulp of the passion fruits.

3.  Then prepare the biscuit.  Beat egg yolks with sugar (50 g), add the sieved flour and potato starch.  Lighten the mixture by adding meringue (made with the egg whites and 75 g of sugar).  Spread this mixture in a 1/2 cm thick layer on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.  Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes.

4.  Line the bottom of a heart-shaped mould with the biscuit base.  Fill the mould to mid-height with the Bavarian cream and add a layer of passion fruit jelly.  Place the mould in the freezer for 15 minutes and then top with the remaining Bavarian cream.  Smooth the surface and leave the rest in the refrigerator for a few hours. 

Unmould to serve and decorate.

It was divine


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Custom Decorated Hardware - DESIGNED BY YOU

Personalized Drawer Pulls from ghost nest

The oh so very talented decorative painter and designer, Theresa Cheek of Art's The Answer! recently wrote a very interesting post about a San Francisco based company called ghost nest.

Theresa's Drawer Pulls show classic designs embedded within. 

I wanted to try something different and chose images from my hand painted ceramics.

You provide the image and ghost nest will do the rest.  Each personalized drawer knob costs $8.  You can expect to receive them in 2 weeks.

Theresa thought that it might be interesting if I walked you through the process of designing and ordering them.

By the way, these knobs are very difficult to photograph.  The Lucite plays havoc with the design.  In real life the images are much sharper.

How to:

Create an account with ghost nest
Log in with password
Next to ghost nest's logo click on Dreamerator.
Select square or round.
Go to top right of screen and click on Image
Go to left side of screen and click on Select Image
Then select Choose File or Flickr or Facebook or Google
(My images are filed in my computer, so I select Choose File)
Double click on your chosen image
Select Upload and wait for image to appear
Make slight adjustment by placing your image within the dotted red outline
Go to right of screen and click on Buy this Item.

You have now created your one-of-a-kind , your very first decorative, custom designed drawer knob. 

Repeat as often as needed.  But always remember, have fun while you're creating.


Today, I'm joining (show us your cottage monday)
Today, I'm linking to http://www.theshabbychiccottage.net/