Friday, 31 October 2014

Happy Halloween!

My friend, Peter Pumpkin-Head, wanted me to wish you a safe and happy Halloween!

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Dartington Hall One Year to the Day

Yesterday, we were strolling around the gardens at Dartington Hall, one of our local leaf peeping places, when Andy said, 'When were we here last autumn?'

'I dunno', I mumbled from behind my camera.  I was busy taking photos of the Virginia Creeper that covers the gatehouse wall. 

'It must have been about this time, give or take a day',  he said. 

'Wasn't it closer to November?' I muttered as I focused in on the tiny thatched cottage we call The Three Bears' House. 

'You'll have to look at the blog when you get home and find out',  said Andy as we stood and looked at the view tumbling down the hill and out into the Dart Valley.  

'OK, can you move your feel out of the shot, please', I instructed as the toes of Andy's shoes were just visible on the stone path.  

So when we got home I checked .... It was ONE YEAR to the day EXACTLY!  
Click HERE to get the details to plan your visit to DARTINGTON HALL .

Monday, 27 October 2014

Fall Foliage Gardening

I am not going to pretend to be a great gardener.  As a matter of fact, my style is plant it and pray, but years of gardening have taught me a trick or two.

For example, if you want fabulous fall colour go shopping for foliage plants NOW!  If the plants look stunning at the garden centre on a wet afternoon they are going to look even better in your garden on a crisp autumn morning!

There are a few basic bomb proof plants that always deliver luminous leaves.   Acers or Japanese Maples are my favourite but they can be painfully pricey! The Smoke Bush (Cotinus Coggygria) is a good second choice and will be a fraction of the price of an Acer.  I have two in my small garden, a purple variety and a Green Fountain.

When it comes to red you can't go wrong with the Winged Euonymus or Burning Bush.  

I've chosen alatus compactus, sounds like a spell from a Harry Potter movie. Red Cascade has lovely little berries.  They remind me of the wild bittersweet that used to line the country fence rows in Missouri.

The leaves are a knock-out red...not that this little plant has many leaves left.

Time is running out and the leaves are falling fast....

Better get to that garden centre before it's too late!

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Dunster Castle

I don't know how to begin this post.  I could tell you how Dunster Castle was first a moat and bailey castle in Anglo-Saxon times and how a timber castle was built on the site after the Norman Conquest.  In the 12th century, a stone keep was built and the gradual transition from fortress to grand country house began.

I could try to explain the impact Dunster Castle has had all through its long history but all the time my mind just keeps going 'WOW'.  Wow, we are walking through a 13th Century Gate.

Wow, no wonder they call this the 'Dream Garden'

Wow, look at that fabulous view across the Bristol Channel to Wales.

I know, I haven't mentioned the stunning interiors, the ancient watermill, or the charming village of Dunster.  I am still trying to take it all in myself. 

For more information, click on the links below.  If you ever have the opportunity you must visit Dunster Castle.  

CLICK HERE for Dunster Castle Visitor Information

CLICK HERE for a brief history of Dunster Castle

Monday, 20 October 2014

Wooden Ladle and Cotton Napkins

I am not a great one for shopping.  I don't go in for shoes or handbags or any of the things ladies are supposed to fancy.  I love buying things for the house. 

My real passion is furniture and soft furnishings but there comes a time when you can't squeeze in another cushion let alone another bow-backed Windsor chair.  

With the rooms fully furnished, I've resorted to collecting smaller household items.  Today I treated myself to this beautiful wooden ladle and some rustic cotton napkins. 

I know, they aren't a pair of Jimmy Choo's but who needs posh shoes when you've got a gorgeous wooden ladle! 

Both ladle and napkins were purchased at Sainsbury's.   I know... Sainsbury's!

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Oat and Apricot Cookies

I did something I try NOT to do this morning...go to the supermarket on a Saturday.  We only have one full size grocery store in our town so, needless to say, it's always busy.  Saturdays are crazy busy!  

I wouldn't have done it except things were getting desperate here; no milk, no eggs, no flour, no onions or carrots, and no oats.  So off I went at the crack of sparrow fart* to do the grocery shopping.  I suppose I was lucky.  Maybe it was just too early for most people to be out on a Saturday morning but it went pretty serious trolley rage and I even got everything on my list.  Well, OK, I forgot one thing but that's not bad for me.  

I don't know why, but have you noticed oats come in bags big enough to feed horses!  These bags are enormous.  Where are you supposed to store all that? Well, I couldn't find a space for all the oats so I put as much as I could in my giant oatmeal jar and used the rest to make these....oat and apricot cookies.

Yes, the one thing I forgot was raisins or these would have been oatmeal raisin cookies.  The dried apricots make a lovely change.  All you have to do is FOLLOW THE RECIPE FOR THESE TRADITIONAL OATMEAL COOKIES and substitute chopped dried apricots for the raisins. 

And now I've realised I've forgotten something else but I refuse to go back to the supermarket for it...not on a Saturday afternoon.  

I'm going to stay here and have tea and oat and apricot cookies.  

*Crack of sparrow fart = very early in the  morning

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Carrot Tea Loaf with Cream Cheese Frosting

At least once a week I bake something.  I love to bake and love sharing it with family and friends.  But as I was grating the carrots I got to one ever bakes for me.

I can't remember the last time I had a birthday cake that I didn't make myself.  Actually, I can't remember the last time I had a birthday cake.

Now, I don't want to sound like 'poor me' or anything but it was a sobering thought on which I ruminated while I licked the last of the cake batter out off the mixing bowl.

I mean, to me, baking for someone is a way of showing affection.

Making someone's favourite cookie is like saying 'I love you' only with butter and sugar...I thought as I polished off the cream cheese frosting bowl.

Then, as I lapped the last of the icing off the spatula, it occurred to me...if I didn't do the baking then I wouldn't get all the cook's perks of licking the beaters, having that first warm cookie, or tasting the first bit of cake.   

I LIKE being the one who bakes.  It's just how it's supposed to be.  Oh, I nearly forgot CLICK HERE to get the recipe for Martha Stewart's Carrot Tea Loaf with Cream Cheese Frosting.

*Did that sound like a line from Breaking Bad?  'I AM the one who bakes'!