Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Blue Jays argue over the water bath....

First of all there was one....

enjoying a long drink on a very hot day.

And then.....

And then....

someone did not want to share the bath

but the other decided to make a move.

That's when the argument started.

Sitting on his haunches....

he finally decided to stand tall to see if that would work.

They actually paired off and flew up in the air at each other with claws outstretched, and that was a bit too much for the other to handle.  He decided it wasn't worth it.

He will just have to wait his turn.....

until this one has finished taking his bath.

A nice long one....

and just to prove a point.....

I think it may have taken a little longer than usual.

That was a wonderful bath.


Monday, July 30, 2012

A Monday Morning Poem

"How I go to the woods"

Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone, with not a single
friend, for they are smilers and talkers and therefore

I don't really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds
or hugging the old black oak tree.  I have my way of
praying as you no doubt have yours.

Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible.  I can sit
on top of the dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds,
until the foxes run by unconcerned.  I can hear the almost
unhearable sound of the roses singing.

If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love
you very much.

~Mary Oliver~

Friday, July 27, 2012

Camera Critters

Do you ever get that feeling when you know you are being stared at?  Blue Jays are one of my most frequent visitors.  You can read all about them here.

Thank you Misty for hosting Camera Critters.  I love this meme!
To see other fun critters please click here.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sharing a nature video

Great time-lapse photography accompanied by wonderfully relaxing music.  Don't forget to click inside the 'box' in the lower right hand corner to enlarge to your computer screen, where you will see the full worth of this awesome video. The 'box' is to the right of the HD letters which will appear agaom when you put your cursor on the small screen.

"In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer." 

~Albert Camus~

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Cobb Salad Recipe

For me when all this hot weather is around it is salad time. I have been looking for some main dish salads and I came across this one here at Whole Living which we had last evening, and it is a keeper!

Cobb Salad

Serves 6

1 boneless and skinless chicken breast half
2 large eggs
3 slices turkey bacon
1 head romaine lettuce, stalk and tough out leaves removed and sliced crosswise into 3/4-inch wide
strips (about 6 cups)
1 cup chopped fresh watercress
3 tomatoes, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1-1/2 cups)
1/2 small ripe Hass avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into 1/2 inch pieces (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1 ounce blue cheese, crumbled
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil.  Add chicken; cook at a bare simmer until it is cooked through, about 15 minutes.  Transfer to a plate and cut into 1/2-inch cubes; set aside.

Place eggs in a small saucepan; fill with enough cold water to cover by 1 inch.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; turn off heat.  Cover; let stand 11 to 12 minutes.  Transfer to a small bowl and cover with cold water; let cool and peel.  Slice eggs in half lengthwise.  Discard one yolk and pass the other through a fine sieve into a small bowl; set aside.  Slice each egg white into six wedges; set aside.

Cook bacon in a medium saute pan over medium-low heat until browned and fat is rendered, turning once, about 3 minutes per side.  Transfer to drain on paper towels.  Let cool; roughly chop.

Spread lettuce on a service platter.  Arrange chicken, eggs, bacon, watercress, tomatoes, avocado, parsley and chives in separate rows.

Make the vinaigrette: in a small bowl whisk together cheese, vinegar and mustard.  Slowly whisk in the oil, cheese, vinegar and mustard.  Slowly whisk in the oil.  Season with pepper.  Drizzle vinaigrette over salad and serve immediately.

(Chicken breast and turkey bacon was used for a leaner version of this salad.  If you prefer you can use roasted turkey breast instead of poached chicken.)

Added note: this is a great main dish salad.  Gregg and I thought it was excellent.  He especially enjoyed the dressing and asked me to use it on other salads.  Easy enough to do as it's one of the simplest I have made.  Instead of mixing the blue cheese in the dressing I sprinkled it over the salad instead.

I couldn't find watercress in our local supermarket and even asked the produce manager.  He said he never knew when it was going to come in.  In other words you have to pop in and hope it is there. I have looked before and don't ever remember it being available on other visits, but then I haven't made anything in a long while that calls for watercress, so it's possible that I have missed it. They had some really good baby butter lettuce which was a good substitute we thought.  The leaves were tiny and when all else fails, improvise right?

I did buy the flat leaf parsley but when I tasted it I found that I didn't like it, and just to be sure asked Gregg. He didn't care for it either.  I have never bought the flat-leaf parsley before and I don't think I will again.  I should have bought Cilantro instead.  Probably not traditional for a Cobb Salad but it would fit our taste buds better.

I didn't use the hard boiled eggs as one of us can't abide the smell of them cooking, texture or the taste.  It was easy enough to leave them off as there were plenty of other ingredients to enjoy.

I reduced the ingredients a little to serve two people but there were leftovers still and hopefully they will be fresh enough to use for lunch tomorrow.  I put it in a Ziploc bag and am keeping my fingers crossed.

Not strictly a Cobb Salad by the traditional sense but all in all delicious and one I will be making again.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

And for today......

a few more postcards.  I scanned some I bought the last time we went for a drive along Skyline Drive but first, here is a card that I bought even further back than that.  Whenever I am out and about and I see something that tickles me I will buy it and then throw it in a box, forget about it for a while and then discover it who knows how long later.  If you want to get a better view you can enlarge each one.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday Morning Quote

"Alone with myself
The trees bend to caress me
The shade hugs my heart."

~Candy Polgar~

Sunday, July 22, 2012


These roses were part of a beautiful bouquet from my dear husband.  He gave them to me for my birthday which was in the early part of the month.  


This is a message I will be repeating until TODAY'S FLOWERS resumes its posts.
Even though Today's Flowers is on hiatus and we will not be adding anything new until August 18th, whenever possible I will be posting flowers each Sunday in honor of my favorite meme.

Today's Flowers was created by our good friend Luiz Santilli.

Friday, July 20, 2012


I am sharing another dog photo today but it is not mine.  Son and daughter-in-law were in San Diego for a vacation last week and they came across this cute little dog being taken for a ride.  It was hard to see who was controlling that car.  For all intents and purposes, Leo was doing all the driving.

Thank you Misty for hosting Camera Critters.  I love this meme!
To see other fun critters please click here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

An old photo

This was taken on one of my weekend trips to see my sister and her husband in Worcestershire.  It was in 1973, a couple of years before I met Gregg. At the time my mom, dad and I were living in South Devon and I hadn't long become mobile. I had saved every penny I could to buy an old grey mini cooper. I loved that old car, it gave me wings and the freedom to visit my sister any time I wanted. The distance was 158 miles and for me back then it was like driving to the other side of the moon.

They also lived in a small village and they had farming friends down the road.  On my weekend visits we would often walk over to the farm for a chat and also to see the farm animals, which was an extra bonus. There were times when my sister and I would hop up on the back of the farmer friend's pick-up truck, drive over the fields and throw the hay out for the animals to feed.  That was always fun.

But I especially loved it when there was a new born lamb to be taken care of. The house they lived in had been in their family for about three hundred years. The kitchen had a huge walk in fireplace and a box would be placed near the fire filled with blankets, and in the box were the new lambs whose mothers, for one reason or another, were not able to take care of them.  I would often be given a bottle of milk to feed them and if I could have taken one home with me, I would have been a very happy girl. That never happened but I was content with the opportunity of taking care of these sweet little lambs as brief as they were, because before I knew it the weekend was over and I was heading south again.

Mac N Cheese - Southern Food

Many of us enjoy our comfort food and every now and again if I haven't cooked something in a while and there is a hankering for it, I get a request from Gregg.  This time it was for Macaroni and Cheese.  It was hot again today, 99 degrees F.  I didn't want to turn the oven on but as our air-conditioner is now fixed and this dish only had to go in for half an hour, I said I would have it ready by the time he got home.  I have borrowed the picture from the site I got it from because yet again I forgot to take a photo.  I know you've all probably got your own favorite recipe for this dish, but this was so easy and as I like to make a record of all the ones that we really enjoy I am sharing it. I got the recipe here.

Macaroni and Cheese

8 ozs. elbow macaroni
1-1/2 cups shredded Cheddar Cheese (our favorite is Dubliner)
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 cup buttered fresh breadcrumbs (the suggestion was to process 2 slices of bread in a food processor with 2 to 3 tablespoons of butter.  I used my blender and melted the butter before mixing it in).

Boil the macaroni in salted water according to the package directions.  Drain under running cold water.  Cover the bottom part of a 2-quart baking dish with a layer of macaroni, a layer of cheese, dabs of butter, salt and pepper.

Continue layers until all ingredients are used, ending with a cheese layer.

Whisk milk and egg together and pour over the top.  Cover with buttered breadcrumbs and bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until browned and cooked through.

Serves 4 to 6.


I loved the fact that this was such an easy dish to put together as I started late in the day after Gregg had called to say he was on his way home. The breadcrumb topping added a delicious crunchiness and everything was very yummy. I was also going to make a squash casserole but time was getting on and instead served it with a fruit salad consisting of diced mango, strawberries, watermelon and blueberries, everything that I already had on hand in the fridge for my smoothies. It made for a light and refreshing side.

Added note: there were leftovers which we had the next night.  Reheated it was just as delicious.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My Babes at Disneyland

Son and daughter-in-law are in California for a week's vacation.  They are having a great time but I knew they would. Technology is a wonderful thing. Two hours ago after looking at several photos they had been posting, I asked Gregg if he had seen any of them together. He had not and so he got on his phone and sent them a text with a request, "Get someone to take a photo of you two together." Ten minutes later they sent this photo. I love it, thanks guys!

"While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about."
~Angela Schwindt~

Me: and even though our children are all grown up, they are still teaching us how to enjoy life.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Squirrel and The Chipmunk

In my back garden you have to be fast....

because Mr. Squirrel is saying, "Ah nuts, he beat me again!"

But he needn't worry, there are plenty more where those came from.

Mr. Squirrel really should be more patient and nice, but his instincts always drive him into chasing away the other squirrels - and the chipmunks - from the peanuts I throw out every day. There is enough for everybody.  Mr. Chipmunk is thankfully faster than he, and always escapes with his cheeks stuffed full of peanuts and not with a nipped tail.

"Beware the fury of a patient squirrel man."
~John Dryden~

or he might better learn....

"Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson~

I have used the last one before but it's such a good quote.

He really does need that patience doesn't he?  When will he ever learn?

And the fun begins again tomorrow.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


This is a message I will be repeating until TODAY'S FLOWERS resumes its posts.

Even though my favorite meme is on hiatus and we will not be adding anything new until August 18th, whenever possible I will be sharing flowers each Sunday.



Today's Flowers was created by our good friend Luiz Santilli.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Camera Critters

I don't have a pet anymore but I do love dogs and every time I get the chance to take a photo I will happily take it.  I didn't get this beautiful fella's name this time, but he was making his way along the Limberlost Trail (Skyline Drive) several weeks ago.  It was a hot thirsty day and I think he was feeling the heat a bit, as we all were of course but at least we don't have to carry our own fur coat around.  

Thank you Misty for hosting Camera Critters.  I love this meme!
To see other fun critters please click here.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Something to make you smile, hopefully.....a recipe and a few birds

I bought this as a greeting card last year, stuck it in a box and have just found it again.  I laughed when I read it and yet found it ever so slightly uncomfortable.  What do you think?  You will have to enlarge it to view it more clearly and to see what the writing says.  It doesn't really show up very well here.

The weather has been a little cooler in northern Virginia, in that it has been in the low 80s and not 100 degrees plus.  On those incredibly hot days I felt as if I was stepping into a solid wall of heat, so I will take the 80s and not moan about it like I usually do.  Gregg said what is a perfect temperature for you.  I said 65 degrees, yes I'm joking - a little - I would rather have 65 degrees than a hundred.  I'd say between 72 and 78 would be a perfect temperature for me, without the ruddy humidity.  

I found another salad recipe but forgot to take a photo.  However, you can see it here at a blog called Fuss Free Cooking.  It certainly was fuss free, so simple, and yet delicious, that is if you like tomatoes.  Home-grown ones would be fantastic, or even the farmer's market but as my supermarket is only five minutes away from home and I need the convenience because I am running tight on time, I go there, if they're organic all the better.  If you like to look at food blogs for ideas as I do, there are other lovely dishes to find at Fuss Free Cooking.  

Now, here's the recipe content for the salad and apologies for no photos.

Hasselback Caprese Salad

10 small Roma tomatoes (quantity depends on the size of the tomatoes - I used two medium to large ones for Gregg and me)

A ball of mozzarella, around 8.8 ozs. (250g)

A handful of basil leaves

A good quality Olive oil (I drizzled a teaspoon over each finished tomato)

Thinly slice the top of the tomato then slice the base horizontally so that the tomato will not roll.  Make multiple slices vertically but not all the way through the tomato.  In each section put a thin slice of mozzarella and a basil leaf.  To serve drizzle the tomato with olive oil, and freshly ground pepper.


Neither of us felt like a cooked meal so we each had a ham sandwich also.  It made for a lovely light supper and it all looked so pretty on the plate.


I had a fruit smoothie for breakfast this morning.  Nothing fancy, strawberries, blueberries, a small banana and a cup of 2 percent milk, low fat and healthy.  I enjoy them blended as is and I don't add anything else.  I don't like things too sweet and the fruit makes it sweet enough for me.  

Yesterday Gregg worked at home.  He got up at 4.45 a.m. so that he could finish early and in the afternoon said how about going out for a cup of coffee.  I also needed to go to Bed, Bath and Beyond to replace some bed linens on the spare bed.  We are having a couple of house guests from England in September and I didn't want to leave it all until the last minute.  I wasn't in the Girl Guides six weeks for nothing!  Always be prepared!  Yes, you read that right, I was a Girl Guide dropout (Girl Scouts to those of us living in the States).  I was all for the creative side of making little round mats out of straw, but the first sign of a camping trip I was out of there.  Back then I was scared to death of bugs and snakes, now I like to photograph them and I wouldn't mind a camping trip in the wilderness either, though I think my bones would object.  Go figure!

Son and Daughter-in-law are enjoying themselves in San Diego.  They are at Comic-Con 2012 for the weekend.  They see a lot of interesting people there, movie stars and the like.  I told them how I would love to do that.  After the show they will be heading to the beach and seeing the city.  They told me I should come along with them next year as they are intending to go back.  Not only do they enjoy the show but they also love San Diego, as I do of course having lived there for many years back in the 80s.  

We need some help getting the garden sorted out so we spoke to a very nice gentleman who is going to be here every week to mow and tidy up generally, trim bushes that are a bit out of control and finally get rid of the poison ivy that mysteriously started appearing last year.  He really knows his stuff.  We have also asked him to do some landscaping for us.  He did an excellent job on our next door neighbors, that's how we found out about him as we were so impressed.  He advised us to wait until it gets a bit cooler to start putting new plants in.  I told him I would like to plant a butterfly garden and he gave me all sorts of ideas, and wanted to make sure that I knew with butterflies came bees.  I told him no problem.  I've been reading how bees are in trouble, that I would actually enjoy them, that without bees we would have no flowers.  He gave me a big smile and nodded, saying that bees weren't very popular with a lot of people and I can understand because Gregg's mom was allergic to them.  Both Gregg and I came out of the conversation with a very good feeling about this gentleman.  

I had a lovely bouquet of flowers from my in-law's which was for my birthday.  They are gorgeous!  I will be taking photos but want to wait for a bit of sunshine and it seems a bit grey out there at the moment.  Rain maybe?  I'll have to check the weather forecast.

Gregg also gave me a bouquet of red roses.  They are gorgeous too.  I feel I am surrounded by flowers at the moment and it gives me a lot of pleasure.  They are like aromatherapy to me, just to look at them makes me feel happy.

I have been having some bird friends visit this morning, Mr. and Mrs. Titmouse, a Crow and a Blue Jay.  I scatter peanuts in their shells every morning and toss them onto the deck.  Yes it gets a bit of a mess but that's what brooms are for.  I also fill up the water dish and it is fun to see who arrives first. 

Today it was Mr. and Mrs. Titmouse.

Come in he's saying....

the water's fine!

Then came Mr. Crow.  I like crows, they remind me of Canada Geese, feisty and a little bit cheeky.

He took his peanuts over to the water dish and dropped them in, swirled them around a bit as though he was softening the shell.

Mr. Blue Jay's turn.....

and now it's gone all quiet.  Time to get out there and sweep the deck, clean and fill up the water bowl and oh joy, do a bit of housework so that it's nice and tidy for the weekend.  Have a great one!