Saturday, February 27, 2010

nests in a dozen beautiful ways


With March approaching and the snow melting, birds have begun to once again fill the air with their sweet melodies. The black amsel serenades the melting-sorbet sunset again, and I know spring can't be far away.
I love the intricate weaving and secrecy of nests, and I love the shiny blue or speckled eggs inside.
I went in search of beautiful nests to share with you, and loved what I found.


:: printed card, handmade on peconic bay  ::




:: wedding favor, martha stewart weddings :: cupcake, dahlia bakery  ::




:: felted titmouse couple in handmade nest, gotcrowcreations  on etsy ::





:: nest with truffle-filled eggs, williams-sonoma  :: handblown nest bell jar, williams-sonoma  ::



:: tiny woodland terrarium robin's nest necklace, woodlandbelle  on etsy :: aqua nest tile coaster, robotcandy  on etsy ::


:: modern nest party favor project, country living  :: pussy willow nest project, martha stewart  ::




:: blue bird nest soap set, loveleesoaps  on etsy :: robin egg ornaments in nest, jenniferarndt  on etsy ::


The beauty of it all!
Though, the most lovely of all nests are those built by careful beaks of wild birds.
Those are free....and priceless.

Tonight the moon is so full and round, white and gray in a pastel evening sky.
The earth is sopping wet and so full of promise and potential.
It was so warm on my walk to the grocery store this afternoon that it seemed strange that the trees didn't have their leaves on yet.
All in due time.
So far, I've seen ten wild primulas, two earthworms, and the beginnings of snow drops in a neighbour's yard.
And I brought home the most tender head of bib lettuce....I was no less pleased than I would have been with a giant rose. It's leaves like petals, it's center a fist of delicate crisp folds.
I'm swooning over lettuce.....it must be spring!
Right now, in this moment as I sit here writing, there is a bird outside my window singing the most lovely melody as the sky grows dark. I have missed bird song this long winter!
Hubby is picking up chinese take-out.
We're cozying in for the german version of American Idol. It's very entertaining, and we have our contestant who we're hoping and calling for. This is him singing I'll Be There if you're interested!
He's had a hard life, comes from nothing, and is so talented...we hope his dreams come true.

xoxo country girl

Friday, February 26, 2010

11 Years of Blessed Love




Thank you, Universe, for these 11 years of love, dedication, and friendship!
The photograph above is from the first summer of love that Ramon and I shared.
We could have only guessed and hoped back then that we would be together for a long, long time.
I lived in America, he lived in Austria.
We were oceans apart.
But here we are, eleven years later, living in our home of comfort and laughter, with our playful cavalier Kiki, and parents to our dear angel baby Blueberry in heaven.
So many things have happened, we've learned and changed and grown.
I love who I am in the eyes of my husband.
And of course, I love him!
Happy 11th Anniversary, Sweet Husband!

Brittan Butterfly, you are the lucky winner of the four leaf clover!

xo country girl

Thursday, February 25, 2010

the most amazing morning!

We awoke to blue skies and birds singing. I snatched up my camera and Kiki and I were out the door. The most amazing morning followed, with exciting discoveries, the sound of water running in fingers of melting snow, and the sun warming our faces and souls. I hope, when you look at these photographs, you will be able to hear and feel what I did, in your own way.

 

  
 :: the first wild primulas! i couldn't believe my eyes. but there they were, yellow and delicate. ::

  
 :: a heart, thawing in the snow ::


:: rivers of melting snow and crows looking for food on the wet fields ::


:: patches of grass and sunshine, where we paused to soak up the warmth and birdsong ::

  
:: a slice of apple pegged to the branch of a birch tree for the birds; the colors were so pretty against the sky ::


 :: on the same birch tree, a piece of turqoise-painted wood, nailed to the trunk, with no apparant  purpose other than looking like a piece of art ::


:: tiny treasures to share with you in today's wonderful tiny nature table! ::


:: top row: bird's nest, four leaf clover, stick of birch with colorful fungi growing on it ::
:: bottom row: wild primulas, edible wild herb called yarrow, pheasant feather, mound of pretty moss ::

  
:: the precious first primulas are on my dining table now...I can't stop looking at them! ::


:: tell me about one of the luckiest aspects of your life...a reader will be picked at random to win this first four leaf clover of the year, which is currently pressed between the pages of a Gladys Taber book to dry ::

A kind reminder: Keep your eyes open for the tiny treasures along your path!

Wishing you a magical day,

xo country girl

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

spring in switzerland










Switzerland is beautiful in springtime.
I would love to take a roadtrip there.
Anyone want to come?
You drive, I'll pack the sandwiches, cookies, and thermos of cocoa.

Dreaming of spring,
xo country girl

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hug Me

Look at the handmade brooch I just purchased on etsy:


Isn't it SWEET? I can't wait to wear it...and see what happens. ;-)
Got it at a shop called Sophie Isobel Designs .
It cost a very reasonable $8.
free shipping in february, too!
She has so many adorable brooches with cute little statements on them.
YAY FOR HANDMADE!

xoxo country girl

Monday, February 22, 2010

your soul is alive


-eleanora duse






oh yes, my soul is definitely alive!
what a blessing blue skies seem after weeks upon weeks of gray.
add fluffy meringues of cloud, and the sound of the river rushing with melted snow...
and your heart overflows with gratitude and a love for life.
kiki is doing quite well...on the road to recovery.
love to you all...i hope the sky is blue wherever you are.

xoxo country girl 

Sunday, February 21, 2010

oh, you sweet little things!

 

  

  

  

  

My friend Morwenna knew just what to give me for my birthday to make me oh-so-happy! I've been an admirer of emersonmade for quite some time now, but never got around to ordering any of her handmade linen flowers. Mostly because I didn't know what to choose! And there, in little boxes labeled simply with an 'E.', were little linen blossoms, all different colors, all so adorable! 
You can do so many things with these adorable flower pins. I've been wearing them on my cardigans, in spring they will adorn my blouses, and in between they look just gorgeous around the house. 
I've featured emersonmade here here and here. She has an amazing blog where she shows all sorts of ideas for using her blossoms, and where you can see her enviable house and property. She is humorous, creative, and beautiful. 
I want to thank Morwenna for her generosity and frienship. Every time I see or wear these, I think of you sweetie! xoxo
Thank you all for your prayers and well-wishes for my little Kiki. She is sleeping alot (and trying with all her might to avoid her medicine). We enjoyed the blue sky this morning, but only shortly as Kiki shouldn't be out moving or in the cold too much. It's amazing weather today, and I took some gorgeous photos that I'll share with you soon. 
My husband had to work today, so I'm heading to the media room with a big fluffly blanket where I'll cuddle up with Kiki to watch Cranford.


Enjoy your Sunday, sweet friends!

xo country girl

Saturday, February 20, 2010

sheeps wool angels

 

  

I've been meaning to share these with you for a while. Aren't they beautiful? I have a good friend who owns a tiny store here in town where she sells Bunzlauer ceramics. A few years back, at Christmas time, she also had these little angels hanging all around her store. I was so smitten! She told me that she had discovered a woman in Poland who raised her own sheep, and used some of their wool to make these little angels. She harvested the wool, died it different colors, made some of it into felt for the clothing and wings, and then used wiry hair and miniscule dried flowers for the details. I collected them yearly, until this last year when my friend told me the woman had stopped making them. I hope she will start again. I think they are just beautiful, and I admire the love and details that went into each and every one. I wonder about the woman, what she looks like, what her farm and sheep look like...what made her decide one day to make little angels. 

I hope you are all enjoying your weekend. Kiki fell ill the day before yesterday, so she is taking medicine and sleeping alot. (Right now she is napping with my husband on the couch.) Please send little prayers that she will be healthy and happy again soon...

xo country girl

Thursday, February 18, 2010

seed dreams

Inspired by My Farmhouse Kitchen's recent garden endeavors, I decided it was time for me to peruse my favorite online seed store, Renees Garden Seeds, and order the seeds for this year's garden plot. Last year I rented a plot on the local organic community garden, and although we were flooded and the weeds were merciless, I am going to try it out again this year. To read all about last year's and see photos, click here. To make a long story short, the farmer plants rows of organic vegetables, and you are resposible for caring for your piece. You can add your own seeds to your plot if you like.
These are the seeds I am dreaming of. At Renee's Garden Seeds you will find many heirloom and vintage sorts. I LOVE the illustrations, and the photos.

clockwise: saltwater taffy swirls sweet peas, antique perfume delight sweet peas, watermelon sweet peas, easter egg radishes

 
(top to bottom)
left: apricot blush zinnias, heirloom tomatoes, doubleclick cosmos
middle: shirley poppies, cut-and-come-again zinnias
right: bluepoint zinnias, dancing petticoats cosmos

  
 1. samba sunflowers 2. cinderella heirloom pumpkins 3. bandolier sunflowers

Oh yes, I am dreaming of my garden. 
xo country girl


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Nesting

  

  
  
1. kiki waiting for me to stop taking photographs so we can keep walking 2. winter sun casting long shadows 3. a nest in blackberry canes, covered in snow 4. how blessed we are to have these wide open spaces to wander through and explore!


"Our forefathers had their troubles, and they were impatient about them, down in their hearts. But, partly because they lived so close to the land and understood the leisure of changing seasons, they put up with them and saw them through. Spring was not only a relief from Winter, it was also work, hard work and long hours, planting for the Summer's growth. No year, nor season, was without its pains and worries. But there was comfort, even security, in the knowledge of change. No troubles lasted forever, nor did any weather, good or bad. Winter ended, eventually, and Spring came. Thus it was and thus it always will be."

-Hal Borland; This Hill, This Valley

Yesterday there was a different feel in the air. There were streaks of blue sky splitting through the blanket of gray, and birds were hopping, singing, literally filling the air with a feeling of Spring! Snow still lies thick as you can see in the photographs, and it isn't any warmer. But there is this feeling....this feeling that it won't be long now. 

You really must read Hal Borland's books some day. Though he doesn't write with the feminine nostalgia of Gladys Taber (who he and his wife were friends with), his writing on nature and the countryside are something very precious to me. His descriptions of the changing seasons, of his simple life on a hill-country farm in Connecticut with his wife Barbara, are not only educational (this man knew so much about plants and animals, I have learned alot from him), but endearing. About living on the land we wrote: "We came here to live, to write, to see and feel and understand a hillside, a riverbank, a woodland, and a valley pasture." I especially love it when I read a passage from a month which I am currently living, and find my experience of that particular time mirrored in his account. Whether it be the first spears of daffodils, the wheat turning golden, or geese flying overhead in a V. 
So it was yesterday, when I read some passages on February. How black the river water is against the white snowy bank; how every bit of sunlight is savored; how birds are already beginning to sing the song of spring and fill us with new vigor and hope.

My husband and I have had our own 'nest' on our minds these past few days; it has occupied us thoroughly. Sometimes decisions can be pretty consuming. I shared these plans of one very wonderful apartment with you all a few days ago. But after crunching the numbers together, we decided we would have to save in too many other areas for it to really be worth it. We both don't like the idea of having to budget every cent of a grocery list, wonder if we can afford to buy flowers, dread a friend's birthday because we're more concerned about the price tag than finding something we know they will love. As the Universe often works, we were presented with an apartment which is smaller but still tends to every need and wish. It's actually directly under the 2-story apartment. It has three bedrooms, a large bathroom, a mudroom, a laundry room/pantry, open kitchen and living room, and a nice garden with a terrace. Deciding on this humbler but beautiful and practical alternative feels good. I like knowing I can fill it with flowers and choose the perfect kitchen, without having to look at every penny. I'll share the floor plan asap!
here's the floorplan! sorry it's smudgy...

Wishing you all a pleasant day....sending love and winter-patience on the wind in your direction.
(For sweetpeas and 80° weather, go visit Kary at My Farmhouse Kitchen.)

XOXO country girl

Monday, February 15, 2010

clementine curd

 

  


My dear friend Morwenna has been kind enough to send me Jamie Oliver's magazine once in a while, and when I saw the recipe for Clementine Curd in the December/January issue I knew I had to try it. Coincidentally, last week the most amazing clementines were included in my weekly organic produce delivery, so here I was, Monday morning, stirring fragrant sunny curd in a copper pot, excited to share the results and the recipe with you all. I love cooking curd...the way the runny juice, egg, and sugar mixture slowly transforms into rich, thick goodness and coats the wooden spoon. The strands of zest swirl prettily in glass jars when you fill them. The first sweet-zingy spoonful makes you smile.
When I finished making it I realized I had completely forgotten the butter. Strangely, the Clementine Curd tastes perfect, and has a lovely consistancy. Have I found a loop hole here? I suppose the butter would give it a creamier feel on the tongue, but as far as I can tell it does well without. I'll leave it up to you to decide whether or not to include it in yours. This really brings sunshine to a winter day.


Clementine Curd

zest and juice of 6 organic clementines
zest and juice of 2 organic lemons
350 grams castor sugar
4 eggs, beaten
2 egg yolks, beaten
100 grams unsalted butter, diced

Combine all but the butter in a medium sized sauce pan and mix to combine.
Add the butter and place over a very low heat. 
Cook, constantly stirring (you don't want the eggs to scramble), until the curd is thick and coats the back of the spoon. 
Pour into sterilized jars, seal and refrigerate.
Use within 2 weeks.

Makes about 850 grams.

recipe by Georgie Socratous in Jamie Magazine, December/January 20009/2010 issue

How are you all my dear friends? Was the weekend kind to you? Were you wrapped in love?
I am busy today, getting real about our finances in an excel spreadsheet, ironing darks, vaccuming Kiki hair, changing bedding. It's so nice to escape here to you, to take a little time out for things like clementine curd, pretty colors, positive thoughts. Yes...so good to remember love and friendship. Thank you!

xo country girl

Sunday, February 14, 2010

shower the people you love with love...











"I hope we always celebrate Valentine's Day. The making of valentines was a serious business when I was growing up. Gilt and silver paper, red hearts, lacy paper frill, blue ribbons, and little doves to paste on the finished product-we loved them all. I usually got my doves on upside down, but I thought they were elegant. 
Later on, when we were older, there was Valentine's Day when the only boy in the world produced a package from his pocket with a present in it. Oh, enchanted winter moon shining down on two bent heads, on mittened hands! The paper crackled, the ribbon was folded away, and there it was, the little locket set with chips of what might be diamonds, or the silver ring with the matrix stone. Who ever forgets first love, and the first real valentine?
After Valentine's Day we can really feel that winter is on the downgrade. A few more blizzards, perhaps, but definitely March will arrive. There will be a certain day when the air comes in over the hills with a different feeling. It's an untangible thing, known only to folks who have had hard winters, and it is exciting and wonderful."
-Gladys Taber, The Book of Stillmeadow

 
 The village is snuggled into thick drifts of snow. The farmer's acreage is like a sea of white foam, dotted with tiny mole-hill islands, powder blowing off the hilltop with a sifting sound. Kiki chases stray leaves that come tumbling down the slope, or rolls on grainy patches of ice, licking and gnawing, delighting in the cold. I stand, knee-deep in the snow, laughing, my hood over my head, hands gloved and thrust into my pockets, wind and the occasional caw of a crow the only sounds. We enjoy being the only ones out there in the snowy hills and fields...there is a feeling of luxury in that solitude. It's as if we have this tremendous white stretching playground just for us. Yesterday Ramon and I felt like little kids for an instant...he suddenly shouted and dove into a deep drift. I giggled and fell on my back, waving and arms and legs to make a snow angel. Kiki watched us, panting, and then went on leaping through the snow, nose to the ground, searching for who-knows-what. It was truly jofyul.

Is it true what Gladys says? Is spring really so near? Hard to believe. And yet I have witnessed it myself; how the world suddenly shivers and shakes and thaws, and everything is dripping and green and brown; first sopping wet and glistening in the weak sun...and then one day, there is new life bursting from buds, and the full creek is gushing and laughing, and birds fill the air with energetic singing. And then you spot it...the first brave yellow primrose, swelling between the rotten leaves of autumn past, and you smell that strong sweet scent of wild daphne, and follow the fragrance to where it blossoms, purple and delicate, on unassuming stalks. The raspberry canes are dotted with green, and the grass and clover are slowly lifting their matted blades and leaves after having been smothered in snow and ice for months on end. And quite suddenly it is here...the first inkling that spring is arriving.

So I remember this, on days where the only green or flowers are in a vase or on my windowsil. And I do my best to enjoy these snow days, to laugh at Kiki's childish enthusiasm as she rolls and digs, to savor hours indoors, kettle whistling and heater on high. Yes, in February we live in the limbo of trying to enjoy the moment while holding onto the hope that spring will come soon.

I am wishing you all a lovely, heart-warming Valentine's Day....we aren't celebrating in the classic sense of the holiday, but are endulging in the quiet moments that a couple who has been together for a very long time knows to savor...those hours side by side, reading, or typing, or dreaming, where you don't have to talk, but you are fully aware and taking comfort in the warmth of their body heat, the sound of them breathing, and the simple fact that they are there next to you.

The simple fact that their hot feet are there for you to press yours against when they are cold....true love.

xoxo country girl

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