Category Archives: Uncategorized

Lovely Lilacs {sweet morning fragrances

        In the dooryard fronting an old farm-house near the white-wash’d palings,
Stands the lilac-bush tall-growing with heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
with many a pointed blossom rising delicate, with the perfume strong I love,
With every leaf a miracle – and from this bush in the dooryard,
With delicate-color’d blossoms and heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
A sprig with its flower I break.

                                                                           ~Walt Whitman, 1865

fragrance everywhere

Each spring, I am eager as a child in anticipation of opening a Christmas gift or peering into the stocking hanging on the mantle…the spring lilacs are in bloom! I love the heady lilac fragrance and the billowing gorgeous blooms next to vibrant green heart-shaped leaves.

Lilacs- white and purple

Lilacs are all abloom around Rose Cottage, and their fragrance perfumes the crisp early morning air. The golden sun is barely up over the river…the call of the exquisite lavender, purple, white and pink lilac blossoms bekons me to join them in celebrating this beautiful May morning!

 

a bit of forgotten memory

Fragrances are intimately associated with memories. This morning, the lilac fragrance reminds me of our first few years at Rose Cottage–it was so overgrown with lilacs, un-descript shrubs and scrub trees– the 100-year-old farm house was barely visible. The ancient lilac bushes nearly surrounded the entire house–especially on the east and north side.  The lilacs were right next to the windows and went out about 75 feet from the house. They reached to the bedrooms on the second story. When we opened the second story windows–it was as if we were floating on top of billowing, gorgeous purple clouds when the lilacs were in bloom. I think we may have picked bouquets from the windows!

In early summer, the sweet alluring fragrance of lilacs filled each room, and lulled us to a deep slumber in the cool evenings. I cried the day we had to take out the lilacs–I loved their fragrance so. We saved several clumps for re-planting along the west property–just on the other side of the meadow.

Lilac white 2

Memories aside, who can resist the fragrance of these ladies? With my pruners in hand to collect several lilac sprigs for a bouquet, I am off on the morning walk. I go down the hill, across the meadow and through the little woods. There they are–the sweet spring fragrance!  An armful of white, lavender and purple blossoms are quickly gathered. The cone-like blossoms smell so sweet. I can’t stop inhaling the amazing fragrance!

Lilac white

more fragrance  

More fragrant flowers are blooming this morning at Rose Cottage. I follow the sweet aroma of honey undertones in the air.

Honeysuckle White

The white honeysuckle are blooming all along the east side of Rose Cottage. Across the garden path, the rose honeysuckle are blooming, too. The pink honeysuckle fragrance is reminiscent of old roses, honey and raspberries. How dreamy!

Honeysuckle PInk

The unmistakable scent of bridal wreath fills the morning air. The bridal wreath is just starting to put on it’s snow-white gown!

Bridal wreath

Nearing the end of the morning walk, I stop by the fern garden. Here, ferns and hosta surround the boy and a bird with a broken-wing fountain. A soft southerly breeze parts some fern for a special surprise…lovely lily of the valley tucked underneath the fern fronds and hosta leaves.  It looks like a minature secret garden, doesn’t it? Ahhh…the fragrance of these sweet little lilies…isn’t it delightful?!

lily of the valley with fern and hosta 

morning memories

I am back at Rose Cottage, and bring in the armful of lilacs for casual arrangements in four vases around the house. Each stem is recut and then crushed to absorb as much water as possible. While lovely and over-the-top fragrant, lilacs do not last very long after picking. I plan to change the water tomorrow morning to extend their vase life.

The white lilac bouquet graces the 1880’s marble top dressing table in the powder room. Isn’t the lilac reflection amazing in the mirror? Other rooms have the lavender and purple bouquets. I would love to give you a bouquet, too!

Heavenly fragrance again fills the rooms, and brings back sweet memories. What fragrances bring back sweet memories for you?

 

Lilacs - White Powder Room 2

 

Lilacs living room 2

A bouquet of lily of the valley finds it’s way to the kitchen. The fragrance to be enjoyed throughout the day.

Lily of the Valley Close

Oh, I hear my sweetie coming down the stairs, and I switch on the espresso machine for his two cups of a quick “jump-start” to the morning. The sweet fragrances of an early May morning have already started my day out beautifully.

Good morning! Waffles and strawberries this morning? It is such a lovely morning…would you like breakfast on the porch? There is a fresh-picked lilac bouquet on the table on the south porch…isn’t it gorgeous?

Won’t you join us on the porch for waffles and strawberries, too?

Lilacs. False blue. White. Purple.

Colors of lilac.

Your great puffs of flowers

Are everywhere…[in this my Rose Cottage]

Lilacs in dooryards

Holding quiet conversations with the early morn.

Lilacs, watching…[our sweet cottage]…

Lilacs, wind-beaten, staggering under a lopsided shock of bloom,

You are everywhere.

                                                                                                                     ~Amy Lowell

You may want to talk a morning walk over at The Southern Daydreamer for more Outdoor Wednesday posts.

For more ideas about creating a beautiful life, visit Melissa at The Inspired Room.

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Night Magic

When bright flowers bloom
Parchment crumbles, my words fade
The pen has dropped …

                                                                         ~Unknown

Spring brings the amazing flowering trees at Rose Cottage. First, the ancient apricot tree blooms early in April–the sweet fragrances just make us swoon!  How we love when the soft southernly breezes carry the intoxicating fragrances up through the windows in the early evening…

Flowering Crab Pink Close

The fragrant pink flowering crab steals the limelight for a week or two in May with the spectacular display of pink flowers. Planted as a mere 18-inch high “stick” in celebration of our Very Sweet Girl’s birth and baptism, it has grown into an amazing beauty–just like our little miracle daughter! What a marvel.

Flowering Crab Pink Close2

The flowering crab is covered in so many soft pink blossoms we can’t even see the bright spring green leaves–it is like a giant, super-sized stick of pink cotton candy from the county fair! Don’t you agree?

Flowering Crab Pink Close 3

We use little white garden lights on several arbors, in bushes around the porches and on a few trees at Rose Cottage. The little lights twinkle like stars when breezes blow the leaves–it is so romantic to sit in the gardens or on the porch at night amongst the “stars!”  Ahhh….

Flowering Crab Night

The pink flowering crab creates such night magic with over 1200 little stars nestled in the soft pink clouds.

Flowering Crab Night Close

The Snowdrift crab next to the porch will be amazing covered in little garden lights–maybe, next year when the branches are a bit stronger.

Snowdrift Crab close

Will you join us in the garden for a cup of coffee after dinner…under the stars with pink clouds floating overhead?

It will be a magical evening!

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Savoring Violets {la partie une

The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily

do not rob the little violet of it’s scent nor the daisy of its simple charm.

 If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose,

spring would lose its loveliness.

                         ~Therese of Lisieux

 

violets underfoot

It is a spectacular morning at Rose Cottage…hundreds and hundreds of sweet little violets have burst into bloom in the northeast corner near the emerging lady fern. It is as if the violets have put on their very finest for the spring dance!

 

Field of Freckles1

 

Especially breathtaking are the lovely “Freckles” violet. Just look at the soft lavender freckles over their little faces. I want to gather them all and arrange them in tiny vases throughout Rose Cottage. Alas, they are too delicate to last very long once picked–I simply enjoy them growing with wild abandon under the spruce trees, amongst the fern,  beneath the bridal wreath and tucked between the flagstone. Some call them weeds–I prefer sweet violets. Often, the simplier things in life–like enjoying a small, obscure woodland flower–can refresh our soul and change how the world looks. Sometimes, it is all a matter of perspective, isn’t it? 

 

Field of Freckles and Heidi

 

There are so many violets it is impossible to not crush them underfoot–but they are forgiving. I bend down for a closer look and inhale their delicate fragrance.

 Freckles close 4

 

Even the common violet is so beautiful in the early morning sunlight, and the soft fragrance fills the cool morning air.

 

Violet Common

 

gathering violets  

Each year, I plan on making violet jelly, but have never carried out the age-old idea of preserving the little delicate blossoms. Today is different–it is a perfect morning in May for gathering violets for the jelly. The dew is evaporated and the petals are fully opened. Time to use the sweet, simple gift offered so generously this spring. But first, I catch a glimpse of the red violets–not wanting to be outdone by Freckles.

 

Red Violet

 

I find the old, shallow wooden trug in the garden house next to the cottage garden. The shallowness of the basket makes it perfect for gathering the tender purple blossoms. In less than an hour, a generous amount of the sweet violets are gathered in the English trug. A few Freckles have slipped in the basket, too.

 

violets and garden trug

 

Next, the stems are removed from the blossoms. Stems may cause the infusion to be bitter.

 

Violets in frog close2

 

The wind blowing from the southwest is challenging, and a few blue violets are lost to the occasional surprise wind gust. Unexpected “wind gusts” can make our lives difficult, too-especially when we least expect it. But, I persist and keep on with the project. This year, I am going to make jelly!

 

glass basket and violets

 

making a tisane {steeping the blossoms

Though, not technically a tisane, the next step is to steep the blossoms to make an infusion. Four cups of loosely packed violet blossoms fill a quart canning jar.

 

violets and quart jar

 

Then, boiling water from the tea kettle is poured over the violets–about three cups of water. Look how quickly the infusion changes into a lovely “Monet-esque” piece of art–“priceless!” Within a few magical seconds, the tisane turns into a dark turquoise. Who would have thought the simple violet could hold such beauty and create such surprising “magic?” Beauty shows up when I least expect it.

 

Monet in a Jar

 

The quart jar is covered with a lid and stashed away in the refrigerator for 24 hours to draw out all the lovely sweetness and color of the violets.

 

Tomorrow, the jelly making will continue…

 

Would you like an espresso or a little cup of tea while we chat about your morning? The tea or coffee is waiting for you. We can sit next to the violets if you would like…

 

demitasse and violet

 

savoring violets (part II) –more about using these delicate culinary flowers in jelly tomorrow…

 If you are thinking more about creating beauty in your life, be sure to stop by  The Inspired Room .

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Blissful Lavender Pomanders

Lavender, sweet-briar, 0rris, here
shall beauty make her pomander,
her sweet-balls to lay in clothes
that wrap her as the leaves the rose.
 

                                           ~Katherine Tynan

a creative moment

Sometimes, all it takes is a brief moment…an inspiration…to use a few vintage finds and treasures in new ways. My Sweet Girl and I decide we need a simple and fun project to top off the fabulous weekend together. We spend a few hours combing through recent vintage finds tucked away in all sorts of nooks and crannies at Rose Cottage–some treasures find their way into My Sweet Girl’s (and her hubby’s) suitcases bound for Seattle!

Then, we have a great thought! We decide to make pomanders using deliciously fragrant French lavender..the kind of fragrance that just makes a girl swoon. There just happens to be a very ample supply in the old pie safe…

lavendar-in-a-bowl

Now, a pomander is most often thought of as a sachet-type ball that is placed in a drawer or closet to sweeten linens or clothes. We decide to broadly interpret the definition of pomander to include any type of container that is filled with a mixture of dried flowers or herbs to provide fragrance. So what shall we use for the containers?

Going through the cupboards again, we find a pair of vintage seven-inch shakers and a single four-inch crystal shaker–all past their prime. Soon, these shakers are about to be given new life as embellished pomanders!

lavendar-shakers-flowers-on-plate

We find some fantastic vintage metallic French thread in bronze, silver and gold that we will use for attaching the embellishments.

lavendar-metal-thread-spools

Just a few more things that serve as inspiration for the pomanders…tiny jewel box keys, heart lockets, hand-painted rose buttons and sensational silk ribbons.

lavendar-keys-and-flowers1

 

magnificant millinery

We gather up some lovely vintage linen, cotton, silk and velvet millinery from our favorite shop, Rose Mille, just up the river from Rose Cottage. I just adore the soft-blue velvet forget-me-knot millinery, don’t you?

The millinery is so lovely! What shall we pick out to use? Lately, neutral tones are quite appealing…cream, latte,  soft ivory, subtle taupe, antique apricot, olive and soft blue…all show off the texture and design of each piece of millinery so well!  

lavendar-millinery

Some of the millinery needs a bit of freshing. We decide to  create “magic” by using steam from the whistling teapot using a trick my friend, Mi, told me about. More about this on the Romantic Millinery Magic post.

lavendar-steaming-flowers

The petals unfurl, and the millinery is refreshed after just a few seconds held over the steam from a tea kettle.

lavendar-steamed-and-empty-shakers 

making happy memories

Next, we fill the crystal and glass pomander containers with the fragrant French lavender. It just makes us swoon and feel so relaxed–just like being at the spa!

My Sweet Girl and I talk about how wonderful it is to create memories together with our last few hours before she and her hubby jet back to Seattle. It’s simple mother-daughter times like these that make me happy. I tuck this happy memory into my heart! (Visit The Inspired Room for more about what creates happiness.) What are simple pleasures that bring happiness to you?

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lavendar-filling-shaker1

lavendar-filled-shakers-and-steamed-millinery2

 

viola!

With just some pieces of silk ribbon, metalic thread, millinery and embellishments we are finished! The blissful lavender pomanders are dressed up and ready to provide their fragrance in the powder room and boudoirs. 

lavendar-lge-shaker-best1

 lavendar-lge-shaker-closeup1

lavendar-two-shakers-on-mirror-4

My Sweet Girl is head-over-heals with the turquoise and cream striped millinery ribbon she adds on her pomander, and just has to show how gorgeous it is! Did you see that she added a swap of antique chandelier  crystals?

lavendar-rebekahs-shaker-3

lavendar-rebekahs-shaker-1

 

lovely Spanish lavender

There are several variety of lavenders–some fragrant, some culinary and others just breath-taking in the garden. Spanish lavender is not very frgrant, but is stunning in the garden border. Bees and butterflies find it amazing and are in blissdom, too! These lovely lavender photos are from My Sweet Girl’s home.

lavendar-1

lavendar-2 lavendar-3

lavendar-close-4

Lavender, sweet lavender; come and buy my lavender,
hide it in your trousseau, lady fair.
Let its flovely fragrance flow over you from head to toe,
lightening on your eyes, your cheek, your hair.

~Cumberkand Clark, Flower Song Book (c.1929)

Thank you, my dear friend, for visiting Rose Cottage.

May your day be filled with the lovely fragrances of spring flowers and herbs, and much happiness!

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Happy Pansy Faces

The Earth laughs in flowers.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

grandmother’s pansies

pansy-diascia-2

She walks with slow, deliberateness down the curved flagstone steps toward the sweeping gardens in the back of the house. Pausing with nearly every step, she stoops over, laughs and admires the face of each pansy planted around the emerging fern or at the base of the white paper birch. “Did you see this one? It’s face is so sweet with the purple and white colors!”

pansy-purple-and-white

pansy-purple-single1

 

grandmother’s pensée

Joy radiates from her face. She moves down the next step. Excitedly she points to the each pansy with her delicately carved walnut cane. She then turns, smiles and gently asks, “there is a saying that pansies mean thoughts–pensée. See how their faces bend forward like they are really thinking about something? What are you thinking about this morning, my dear one?” 

My little girl voice says, “Nothing really…I guess.”

Grandmother replies, “you know, my dear, it is important to always remember to be thoughtful in all that you say and do.”

She is quiet for a moment, and then softly continues, “my sweet child…come bend down here a little bit closer…look carefully. Do you notice the soft ruffled edges? Now, look at the all the different colors on just one flower. Isn’t it amazing?”

I nod while giving the flower a closer look.

“Look at the shape of the petals. The petals are almost like hearts. Do you know what this little flower is a reminder of?”

I look up at Grandmother’s face.

“With their happy faces and heart-shaped petals, pansies remind you that you are loved, and that I am so happy that you are here!” She gives me a gentle tickle.

I take Grandmother’s hand and laugh, “me, too!”

pansy-dark-purple-striated

 

pansy-dark-pink-striated

“Oh, my Sweet Pea…look how this one looks like it has been hand-painted with watercolors! Can you image anything more beautifully created?” Grandmother lingers a bit longer at these amazing pansies. Then, she sighs deeply, and we look at another and another…still walking hand-in-hand…and laughing as we go down each garden step.

Nearly reaching the last step, Grandmother pauses and smiles, “now…my little darling, I have a special surprise for you! I have saved the best for last. Tucked away over here by corner of the patio are the most beautiful pansies! These are for you to plant anywhere in the garden that you would like! Come! Let me show them to you…”

pansy-coral-ruffled-antique-shades

 

pansy-pink-antique3

 

pansy-pink-yellow

 

grandmother’s legacy

Such a sweet memory of my beloved grandmother. I am thinking of her with deep fondness as the window boxes and planters are potted at Rose Cottage. The window boxes begin overflowing with these happy, cool-weather flowers in antique shades of pinks, mauves, yellows and lavenders. Oh, how cheery! Maybe, our visitors to Rose Cottage will know that we are happy they are here, too!

pansy-pink-yellow-and-viola2

 

pansy-pink-ruffled-antique-shades

The overlapping petals of the sweet pansies are nearly heart-shaped. They remind me of the deep love of my grandmother, and how she so beautifully conveyed her fondness of gardening and flowers to me. Now, I hope that I am passing on this gift of happiness and love to My Most Awesome Boy and My Darling Girl (and her sweet hubby) as they start to plant and cultivate their own gardens.

pansy-daff-viola

 

 Do you think “the earth laughs in flowers?”

 

emerging-daff

 

We are so glad you are here with us at Rose Cottage to laugh and admire the sweet, happy pansy faces! Will you stay for a cup of tea and refresh yourself on the porch? We have your favorite tea cup in the cupboard. . . I will get it for you! Then, you can tell us all about your day…

Oh, weren’t the antique shades of the pansies just gorgeous? The breath-taking pansies are from the fabulous growers and owners of Little Foot Farm and Greenhouse just down the road from Rose Cottage. Karen and Sally are superb growers of garden plants! Wait until you see their tomato plants!

 

pansy-daffs-urn-wicker-21

On this beautiful Earth day, we hope you have time to travel around to other gardens or outside photos at the Southern Daydreamer, too. Maybe, you will even think about planting some sweet pansies or give someone else some sweet pansies to let them know you are thinking of them!

Outdoor Wednesday logo

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Blowing in the Wind

 Live each day with joy in the journey…

no matter what road the journey takes you down.

                                                                          ~anonymous

 

joy in the journey

clothes-german-fresh-wash1

No matter how much we enjoy homekeeping and creating a warm, comforting home, sometimes the repetition of everyday tasks can seem mundane. Some days, it can be difficult finding joy or satisfaction in any task! Have you ever felt this way? 

clothesline-2

However, one of my most satisfying early morning chores at Rose Cottage is hanging up clothes on the line to dry–especially linens! Oh, the sweet fragrance and the crispness of bed linens that have dried by blowing in the spring breezes! I can’t think of too many things more luxurious than drifting off to sleep nestled beneath fresh, line-dried linens! Not only do I have the satisfaction of conserving resources by using the sun and wind to dry clothes, I have a deep sense of joy connected to generations before me who have done the same household chore.

The very simplicity of line drying clothes seems to make my life simplier in one sense. This simplicity helps to create a beautiful life at Rose Cottage.

dual-purpose tools

There have been a few simple and resourceful tools that women and men have used in years past for drying clothes on the line. Oh, of course, you say…a laundry basket is basic. But, did you know that many families during the mid-twentith century were already “repurposing” before the word was in vogue?

Bushel baskets–the same type for gathering and storing the apple harvest–were often used for toting laundry to the clothesline! Sometimes, cloth or plastic liners were made to fit snuggly inside the bushel baskets to keep the clothes clean or to prevent a snag from the wooden lathes of the rustic apple basket. Of course, any basket or box works just as well, too!

clothes-bushel-basket-2

fresh wash “tool” cloths

Recently, I learned that women in Germany once used (maybe, some still do?) gorgeous redwork linen cloths expertly hand-embroidered with the words “fresh wash” to cover their laundry basket when carrying their baskets to the community clothes lines. Similiar to linen “show towels,” the lovely laundry cloths provide an opportunity for ladies to display their exquisite needlearts skills, and to demostrate they were women of some means and leisure if the laundry cloth was elaborate. I found this fabulous fresh wash redwork cloth at Rose Mille. Isn’t it amazing the needleart skills of women who came before us?

clothes-german-fresh-wash-and-basket4full

 

clothes-german-wash

apron bag or other “tool” for wooden pegs

Grandmother always wore a small, sturdy cotton apron to hold the wooden pegs or clothes pins. This made hanging out the clothes so much easier to have the clothes pins right at hand while working along the clothes line. The small German redwork apron has seen a lot of laundry duty, but conveys the hope of every individual when doing laundry–“gut wetter”– good weather to hang out the wash!

clothes-pin-apron-bag

 

tools for hanging: clothes pegs or pins

 An ample supply of clothes pins is critical. While I like round wood clothes pins, my favorite type of clothes pins are made from wood and have a spring clip. The spring clip clothes pin is practical as it adjusts to different thicknesses and fabric weights of clothes to be hung to dry. Just a tip: while easier to leave clothes pins on the line after removing the dry laundry, the clothes pins will eventially darken and leave marks on your clean, fresh laundry if left on the line for long periods of time.

clothespeg1

clothespeg2

 

joy in the journey in Italy

On a recent trip to Italy, I marveled at how laundry was dried hanging from the windows in historic Portofino, and in breathtaking Cinque Terre villages along the Italian Riveria. Indeed, even along the picturesque towns and villages on the Mediterrian there is joy in the journey!

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clothesline-italy4

 

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clothesline-italy1

We should all do what, in the long run, gives us joy,

even if it is only picking grapes or sorting [hanging out] the laundry.

                                                                                                                                           ~E.B. White

A package of wooden clothes pins was a recent vintage find. My clothes pin supply was getting a little low, so I was glad to have found them. As I was hanging out the linens, I found “Mr. and Mrs. Peg” in the bag! We just laughed and laughed. Mr. and Mrs. Peg were so happy to have their picture taken with a pansy from the garden. Where do you find joy in your every day journey? How does optimism and positive thinking influence your day?

Finding joy in the journey is part of creating a beautiful life. Melissa at The Inspired Room is on a 12-month journey of creating a beautiful life. Stop by for a visit with her and others for more ideas about creating a beautiful life.

clothespeg-couple

Thank you for stopping by Rose Cottage for a little visit today. We are so glad you came! Won’t you tell us you were here by leaving a comment below? Hope you are finding joy in your journey today!
 

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Friday’s Fresh Flowers

Flowers are Love’s truest language.

                                                ~Park Benjamin

love is in the air {flowers!

The sweet, dear violas are giving us so much cheer that we just had to share them with you.

violas-birdbath-and-love-birds

They greet us early each morning, and…

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…welcome us home to Rose Cottage each night.

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The softly fragrant flowers welcome you to Rose Cottage, too! We hope the violas help to get your weekend off to a lovely start. May it be filled with many flowers!

What are your favorite fresh spring flowers?

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