Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Scenes from NH

Fields and the sand pit in Henniker...
Fishermen in the Contoocook, lilies, and dinner on the deck, all in my back yard...
Goffstown Coffee Shop in the old rail station...
Uncanoonuc Mountain Perennials...
And just so you don't think it's all so perfectly perfect, after installing a special lightbulb that was supposed to NOT attract bugs, I found two of these outside my back door...
YIKES! That lightbulb came out and the bugs were gone the following morning. I did notice far fewer moths, but honestly, I'd take 100 moths over two of whatever those bugs were!!!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Weeding Irises

This was my reward for weeding a neglected bed of irises in the sun and 90+ degree heat on the Fourth of July...
Do you see him?  Right in the center of the photo is a tiny, one-inch long praying mantis!

Equally cute is Little Miss Anna this past weekend, beaming when she saw that Grandpop drove down to PA with me to surprise her at the Rock School.
It was a whirlwind weekend of moving Anna into a single (roommate issues, don't ask), taking her out to eat, painting pottery (one of her favorite ways to unwind - unfortunately I didn't get any photos of the creative process), and swimming!
She was rested and relaxed when we left late Sunday afternoon.  We won't see her again until the final Rock School performances at the end of July (sad face here) but I know she's happiest when she's dancing, so I'm happy too!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Another Weekend in Philly

Last weekend was the start of Little Miss Anna's summer ballet intensive at the Rock School. It was a long drive from NH to PA on Saturday, which was complicated by the fact that (1) Anna was taking a ballet intensive in Concord with Tatiana Tchernova from Canada's National Ballet School until 7:30 each evening (Anna loved her classes with Tatiana and Tatiana loved Anna!)
and (2) the elderflowers were in full bloom right before we left, and are only in flower for about a week, so the night before the big trip down, we were canning elderflower cordial until 10 pm!
We started packing after canning, got in bed after midnight and finished packing in the morning, resulting in quite a late start. The drive was especially long because we stopped in MA to see Michael, and stopped in NJ to see Grandmom and Grandpop. Anna checked into the dorm on Sunday. Here she is settling in...
and with her roommate, Sarah... They are two very sweet girls (they both got lucky!)

Which brings me to this weekend - back in Philly because Anna is sick and it's hard to be sick without your mom around. I was worried that my presence would be a distraction, but Anna insisted it would "help" her ballet! She did seem a little more rested and relaxed after a night at the hotel, a swim in the pool, a soak in the hot tub and some food that wasn't from the dining hall. Sarah came with us and stayed overnight at the hotel, too, which was nice company for Anna and a welcome break from the dorm for Sarah. I have taken no photos of the sick girl at her request (she still looks pale and tired), but I can definitely say she is on the mend. She went to ballet today (yes, they have class on Saturday, but it's a short day - they get out at 4:00!) and she chose to stay at the dorm tonight to watch a movie with friends. Maybe she will be in the photographic mood tomorrow, but for now, here are some cute shots from Grandpop's Father's Day party at Joelle's house 2 weeks ago...
I love this last one. She is all leg!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

New Kitchen

Because we have gotten so many emails and questions about the new house, and because the kitchen is the only room that is completely clean and put away, here are a few photos of the new kitchen...

Ok, so maybe I forgot to clean the windows.  At least this half of the dining room looks ship shape...

We'll post more photos of other rooms soon, although, especially at this time of the year, the river is the best feature of the house.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Happenings Since England

I finally got around to making a proper birthday cake for Anna:  three layers of sponge, with whipped cream, strawberries and blueberries.  Anna couldn't resist putting it together herself.

We got the rest of our plants in:  San Marzano tomatoes, 3 varieties of peppers (2 hot, 1 sweet), 2 more varieties of basil, more annual flowers and seeds, chard, cippollini onions, and maybe others that I am forgetting.  We bought haricot vert seeds, which will soon replace the broccoli rabe.  And we harvested our first batch of chamomile.

In other plant news, the orchids are multiplying, the catmint had aphids (unusual - generally you can't get rid of catmint and one of the plants was sucked dry before I realized it), and there has been no sign of powdery mildew this year, although I preemptively got rid of a lot of rudbeckia since that was the weak link last year.

Memorial Day dinner could not have been less traditional:  the squid tubes looked great at Whole Foods the day before, so I made fried salt and pepper squid and Anna made four delicious dipping sauces to go with.  We rounded out the anti-cookout with artichokes and elderflower cordial (opened the last jar from last year's canning effort) to drink.

Last weekend I moved from my apartment in Concord to a little house in Henniker. Right on the Contoocook River.  I don't know how I ever lived without the constant sound of rushing water and a view like this from my back door.  Can't wait to get my kayak up to NH.

Speaking of NH, I took this photo of Nick's Restaurant in Winchester...
Oh, the irony that just one short month ago I was taking photos of beautiful medieval buildings and a cathedral in Winchester England, and now I'm taking photos of an enormous blow-up crab on top of a building in Winchester New Hampshire!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Our Last Day - Day 10

***which was actually Friday May 11.  Wow, I'm really late going through photos for this last post on Anna's birthday trip to England...

Stourhead Garden - my favorite of all the English gardens I studied while in grad school.  We were so close, but didn't quite make it.  We could have stopped by on the way to the airport if we got up and out early-ish, but we wanted to savor our last morning in our beautiful surroundings.
Eileen brought us eggs from her chickens for breakfast (delicious - tasted just like our fresh Massachusetts eggs!) and we spent time walking around the cottage grounds, visiting with the animals (Anna took another round of photos of the sheep), petting the dogs and cats, and chatting with Eileen.  The hours went by so pleasantly and so fast!
I realized that I never took photos of the parish church in Norton sub Hamden, its dovecote and the spectacular trees in the churchyard, even though we had explored the church and grounds fairly thoroughly.  It was now or never (at least during this trip) for photographs.
One thing we noticed on the recent gravestones, and there were surprisingly many from the past 10 years, was that all the people who died were well into their 90's. Must be the good English country living.
I also now realize that I have never actually posted any photos of Norton sub Hamden, the village proper, which is, in my opinion, the most beautiful village I have ever seen.  I love the yellow Ham Stone, which is only found on Ham Hill and used everywhere throughout the immediate region.
I love the close feeling of the houses, the thatched roofs and the tight roads.
I love the water which winds it's way through the town and around the houses.
One day while admiring some of the houses, a woman stopped and asked if I was lost.  I said no, just looking around and thinking that this the most beautiful place in the world.  She simply said "Yes, it is."
We took one last drive to Crewkerne.  Stopped at Anna's favorite antique shop, where she had been eyeing a petite ruby ring since the first time we went into the shop.  Had a snack - Anna's last cup of hot chocolate with real English whipped cream.
On our ride out A303 to toward Heathrow, we stopped to see Stonehenge.  Eh. Interesting as a monument of human endeavor - heavy stones brought long distances and set in place without the aid of heavy equipment a long, long time ago.  But I'm used to cathedrals.  At least carve or decorate the stones in some way.  Sheesh.
Well, it was actually a little more impressive the closer we got.  The stones are very big!
In addition to prehistoric stone monuments, there were fresh English strawberries available along the road, so we pulled off and bought a quart. Delicious.  You know Anna feels comfortable somewhere if she can buy produce off a motorway from a stranger. Or maybe she was just desperate for the first fresh strawberries of the season!
The rest of the trip was uneventful - drive to the airport, drop off rental car, check in at British Airways, board, eat, sleep, not the smoothest landing, customs at Logan, 2 hour drive home.  And that was that.