Friday, August 28, 2009

Feeling Blue

There's nothing like a little redecorating to lift my spirits as summer comes to an end. So I decided to do some spray painting. I've had this wicker chest below for quite some time and have always wanted to paint it but couldn't decide on the color. When I found Mediterranean Blue spray paint from Valspar at Lowe's I knew it was just what it needed.

Here's the finished project.

A closer look at the seashells I've placed atop it. I had these on the chest when it was natural wicker and I'm amazed at how they really stand out now against the aqua blue color. Pretty soon I'll be taking these down when I start my Fall decorating, but for a few more weeks more I'm enjoying them.

The blue glass vases I've had in the fireplace nook have been there all summer. They match the chest perfectly. I change out the mantel with the seasons and will be looking for some orange vases. I like the color combination of orange and blue so I think the blue chest will work fine for the Fall.

Here's a closer look at the fireplace nook. Andy designed the fireplace. He also crafted the mantel, installed the stone, and did all the electrical. The corner in which this fireplace sits used to just be a bare wall. Our house didn't have a fireplace when we bought it and we always wanted one so Andy added it himself last winter. He did an amazing job! He hand crafted the molding and corbels - nothing was pre-made. I love it and we always joke that it is so well made that if the house were to get hit by some natural disaster that the fireplace would remain standing.

I love cut sunflowers in the house this time of year.

I've been wanting to do something with this sofa table.

I've never liked it because the Queen Style is not my taste and the color doesn't match anything I have. I decorate it for the seasons too so right now it has some sea birds on it along with a jar of seashells. Since we can't afford a new table I'll probably end up painting it and changing out the handles but I'm not sure what color yet. Most of the wood furniture in the room is painted white (with the exception of the blue chest). I don't think I want to paint it white because it sits against a white sofa and blue would be too much. Maybe black would work. If you have any ideas I'd love to hear them.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

At Summer's End...

This poem by Elizabeth Maua Taylor so eloquently sums up my feelings right now as summer draws to a close.

"August rushes by like desert rainfall,
A flood of frenzied upheaval,
But still catching me unprepared.
Like a match flame
Bursting on the scene,
Heat and haze of crimson sunsets.
Like a dream
Of moon and dark barely recalled,
A moment,
Shadows caught in a blink.
Like a quick kiss;
One wishes for more
But it suddenly turns to leave,
Dragging summer away."

Some end of summer pictures of our recent trip back home to the Hudson Valley area in New York state.

Hudson River Overlook taken at Vanderbilt estate, National Historic Site, Hyde Park, NY

Fountain at formal gardens, Vanderbilt estate, National Historic Site, Hyde Park, NY

Pergola at formal gardens, Vanderbilt estate, National Historic Site, Hyde Park, NY

Cottage garden, Vanderbilt estate, National Historic Site, Hyde Park, NY

Cottage garden, Vanderbilt estate, National Historic Site, Hyde Park, NY

Formal garden, Vanderbilt estate, National Historic Site, Hyde Park, NY

Cottage Garden, Vanderbilt estate, National Historic Site, Hyde Park, NY

Formal gardens, Vanderbilt estate, National Historic Sight, Hyde Park, NY

Zinnia's in the cottage garden, FDR Presidential Estate, National Historic Site, Hyde Park, NY

Rose Garden, FDR Presidential Estate, National Historic Site, Hyde Park, NY

Rose garden, FDR Presidential Estate, National Historic Site, Hyde Park, NY

Butterfly garden, FDR Presidential Estate, National Historic Site, Hyde Park, NY

Butterfly garden, FDR Presidential Estate, National Historic Site, Hyde Park, NY

Butterfly garden, FDR Presidential estate, National Historic Site, Hyde Park, NY

Hudson River inlet, Hyde Park, NY

Hudson River, Hyde Park, NY

Thursday, August 20, 2009

They Are Finally Here!

Red tomatoes!!!! I seriously thought it wasn't going to happen this year. With all the damp, cool, rainy weather I had all but given up on my tomatoes. Indeed this will go down as the coolest, wettest, and shortest summer on record in New England - resulting in later than normal and smaller than average harvests. But then a few days ago on August 17 I noticed a lovely deep shade of crimson poking out through the lush tomato foliage. Yes--it was my first large, ripe tomato of the season! A nice juicy Big Beef!

I've been harvesting very small amounts of cherry and grape tomatoes since July 30th - very, very small amounts, but we've had no large varieties ripen until this week (a full month later than usual). Sad thing is that the vines have had green tomatoes on the vine since June but they all seemed too stubborn to ripen.

Week after week they would just hang there hard and green - at one point I felt they were mocking me. Maybe they were in protest of the bad weather - kinda like I've felt all summer. Then it seemed a miracle happened - summer finally arrived on August 10th in New England. Yup..... for those of you not living in the NE you read that right..... it wasn't until August 10th that we actually got some real summer weather. The kind of weather that makes you want to go to the beach or lazily sit under a shade tree and do nothing but nap and sip ice cold lemonade. And it wasn't until summer actually arrived that the tomatoes started to ripen.

I was so in awe of my first red beauty that I must have taken 20 different pictures from all angles (I'll spare all of you those pictures in this posting.) I then placed it on a cake pedestal in my kitchen and just stared at it for a good hour it seemed - well at least until Andy had to ask me what I was doing. "Are you just gonna stare at it or slice it and eat it?" He said in a somewhat annoyed voice. "Cause if you are not going to cut it and eat it - I will!" "I'm dying for a garden tomato!" "Oh no you don't!" I said as I guarded the tomato with my life. "You come near that thing with a knife and there will be hell to pay!" I said sternly. Ok... at that point I realized that maybe the cool weather had killed off a few of my brain cells. I sighed and got out the slicing knife. But, I just couldn't bring myself to do it. So there sits the tomato a full 3 days later and still not eaten. Maybe tonight I'll finally bring myself to do it. But it has to be done right.... it has to be dressed properly with a bit of balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and sprig of basil. Something I've waited this long has to be savored. I know I have to get moving on it .... I'd be crushed if the darn thing started to rot before I got a chance to eat it.

In the meantime.... the other warm weather veggies are ripening fast as well. The yellow peppers are taking on a gorgeous lemon color.

And, another of my favorites - deep purple eggplants.....

The butternut squash has started to grow.... and grow, and grow, and grow..... Definitely will be bumper crop this year for these. I've got only 3 plants and but probably over 30 squash fruits growing.

So as I relish in the delights of summer's late arrival I feel a little melancholy. For although summer is finally here, Labor Day is only 2 weeks away. The other day I heard the sounds of football (American Football) on TV. Andy was watching the New England Patriots play in a pre-season game. I almost threw my shoe at the TV. I have nothing against football really, but I'm not ready for Fall yet no matter how beautiful the foliage is in New England - after all summer is just getting started.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Rose for Rose

Last Thursday a very dear relative passed away. She was my aunt and God Mother and someone with whom I was very close to and I loved very much. Her name was Rose and I can't imagine a more fitting name for such a beautiful person.

I spent the past few days back home in upstate NY attending services and visiting with relatives. My heart is very heavy right now and I've been crying for days. I will be taking a brief break from blogging as I don't have much energy to write.

In the meantime, please know that my blogging friends are always in my thoughts.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

An Empty Nest

After 4 weeks of watching mama robin incubate her beautiful blue eggs and then care for her adorable fluffy babies the nest is finally empty.

(Fledged - August 1, 2009)

I watched the babies fly out the day they fledged. At first the brave one tested one wing outside of the nest.

Then it hopped onto a branch and just wobbled a bit.

Finally it took flight for a very short distance as mama bird waited for it to land on the ground. Then it's sibling made the leap. Finally the 2 of them (one egg sadly never hatched) hopped under the protective shelter of a conifer where mama was waiting. They seemed far too young to my inexperienced eyes for them to leave the nest, but it was getting crowded in there as they grew. Of course mama will continue to watch them, guide them, feed them, and care for them until they are much older but all of that will take place away from the nest.

I must admit I'm sad to see them go, but happy they are starting a life of their own. I used to talk to them every day when I went out the back door to water the flowers and they always stared at me with those big beautiful innocent eyes.

(Eggs laid July 6, 2009)

(2 days after hatching - July 22, 2009)

(7 days after hatching - July 27, 2009)

(10 days after hatching - July 30, 2009 - not quite ready to leave the nest, but almost)

And so life goes on.... another miracle has unfolded before me.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Boys of Summer and Red Sox Nation

I have a confession to make.... I'm a New Yorker who loves the Red Sox. Well I guess that's OK since I grew up as a die hard Mets fan - not a Yankee fan - so at least my father won't be turning over in his grave. Of course if the Mets ever meet the Red Sox again in a World Series my loyalty will always be with NY (Andy and I will never agree on the 1986 World Series - but that's another story to tell.).

Every time I go to Fenway I'm always amazed at the history of the stadium and ferocity of the fans. Boston is a place with lots of history and Fenway is the oldest stadium. Although Fenway has all the amenities of a modern stadium, the bones of the place hasn't changed much since Babe Ruth walked the field. It's a small stadium by modern comparison and has all the quirks of a place built in the early 1900's, including the support beams that block views of the field and the hard wooden seats. But everyone agrees - we wouldn't want to see any other way - it's perfect as it is. If you're a baseball fan you should see Fenway at least once in your life whether you're a Red Sox fan or not - it's quite an experience that you'll never forget.

Last week Andy and I went to see the Sox play Oakland. Although the outcome of the game is not what we had hoped for we still had a great time.

Here's a look at Yawkey Way with lots of fans gathering before the game.

And by luck we ran into Hall of Famer Jim Rice! How cool! Ok... Jim looks mad in this picture but that's only because I got so nervous I could barely operate the camera and the shot of him smiling with Andy came out crappy so I had to post this one - but trust me Jim was not mad he was very gracious and stopped to chat with fans.

Here's a view from our seats.

And one of us.

The famous Green Monster was directly in front of us.

And if you go to Fenway you must eat a Fenway Frank!

My favorite player - Kevin Youkilis...... Yoooooouuuuukkkkk!!!!

2 of the Red Sox owners - Larry Lucchino on the right and John Henry seated (sorry for the blurry shot - this was taken at quite a distance).

During the game we took a walk up to the Right Field Roof. What a cool place to watch the game.

The view from the Right Field Roof.

Another picture of the roof. There is a restaurant with wait service on the roof. And there's lot of room to walk around up there too as you can see below.

A look out at the giant screen from the roof view.

Of course you have to drink a cold bud while standing under the Budweiser sign while visiting the Right Field Roof.

In the Players Lounge we got to see the 2004 and 2007 championship trophies.

The Wall of Fame.

And an amazing model of Fenway Park made entirely out of Legos.

The retired numbers.

A thank you to the faithful fans.

I love this sign.... we saw it after the game. Nothing like stating the obvious.

I'm always amazed at how quickly the grounds keeping crew goes into action right after the game ends. Maybe they can stop on over to our house and do our lawn?!

The Citgo sign. This is the new one.... it's beautiful, but I still love the old one the best.

After the game we stopped by a pub called the Bleacher Bar.

It's a new pub opened by the Red Sox owners this spring. The main attraction at the bar is the huge opening that lies beneath the bleachers on center field. During a game, they close up the opening with gates and a non-breakable glass window pane. The window is one sided so the bar goers can see the game but the players can't see them and won't get distracted.

Andy in front of the gate that goes right onto center field.

Another view of the opening.