A Nice Cup of Tea

This week I paid a visit to my local British shop and made several interesting purchases. I bought three smoked kippers, a packet of Yorkshire Gold loose tea, some Battenberg cakes, orange marmalade, and chocolate digestive biscuits.

I find that Yorkshire Gold tea is one of my favorites- I prefer a strong tea that doesn’t taste weak after adding sugar and milk. My second and third favorite teas are Irish Breakfast and Scottish Breakfast.

Brewing tea in a proper tea pot is a little pleasure of mine. My grandmother-in-law gifted me a tea pot from Blarney Castle years ago that I like using. I have a few nice tea strainers I use as well as a whistling kettle!

Falling Leaves

Today I spent a little time outdoors on this sunny cold day raking a few crunchy leaves on my front lawn.

This past Autumn was unusual in that the leaves did not fall until quite late.  Most of the trees in my area have now dropped their leaves, but a stubborn Sycamore remains, clutching large dry papery brown leaves to the end.

I did not have many black walnuts this year- only a scattering- I left them for the squirrels to eat when they are done pillaging my suet feeders which are meant for my birds!

"A Murder is Announced"

Winter Work

A break in the wet windy weather persuaded me to rake leaves and trim back the roses by the front door.

Even though it is winter, there are jobs to be done outdoors.  Walnuts to be gathered so no ankles are turned, bulbs to plant, weeds to pull, some pruning to be done, and birdbaths and feeders to be tended.

Beautiful surprises are to be found every day.  Yesterday I had a chickadee at a feeder and I noticed a good quantity of red berries on a shrub just waiting to be plundered by my feathered friends.

Church End in Blewbury

Suet Is For The Birds

Earlier today I busied myself in my garden, as it was neither raining nor too cold.  I picked up sticks and litter blown in with the strong winds we have experienced for days.

Suet cakes were placed in the holders for the birds as I am hoping to lure a few colorful birds into my domain.  My usual winter birds are woodpeckers, blue jays, cardinals, and chickadees.

It is not necessary to purchase suet cakes at the market.  Collect pine cones, pack with  peanut butter, and roll in birdseed.  Attach a string and hang for the birds.

The Coal Scuttle

A coal scuttle or coal hod is a metal pail used to carry and hold pieces of coal intended to stoke a fire for heating.

My family used both wood and coal to heat our home, and I still remember splitting and stacking firewood and carrying in firewood to the home several times a day.  When we used coal for heating, it had to be carried from the coal shed in a pail each day- and it definitely heated better than wood.

Yesterday, I was given a coal scuttle filled with coal that my father had hand-picked at a sale to display near my fireplace (alas, electric).

 

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Wild Strawberry

This morning I found a tiny wild strawberry!  It was near the roots of my black walnut tree!  I noticed a few black walnuts that I wanted to pick up and there it was- so tiny and another little strawberry plant with a bloom!

It was like a small miracle- an unexpected present (my birthday is next week) from my own small patch of the world.  Perhaps I will treat myself to an ice cream dessert tonight, and top it with my own strawberry.

I did pick up about 10 black walnuts.  Last year I had a bumper crop and plenty to share with friends- I wrote an article about my black walnut cracking adventures ( see my archived articles).

Autumn Weather

I have lived through many an Autumn season, and its cooler days and colorful trees are something most inhabitants of my area look forward to.  While I have observed the earliest of trees changing hue, the temperatures are still hot.  Today was 90 degrees!

How can one enjoy a bonfire in the evenings, or pull out flannel shirts if one is still sweltering after 6 o’clock (when a hot dinner is the last thing on one’s mind)?  Tonight may well be eggs and toast (with homemade strawberry jam).  Maybe an iced tea would be refreshing.

I did get a little weeding done early and resisted trimming or deadheading the roses.  I did read somewhere that they must be left from September onward, to form rose hips.  I wrote an earlier article last year on rose hip tea.

Watermelon Pickles

Today I made watermelon rind pickles for the first time.  My husband has fond memories of his grandmother making these sweet, slightly spicy (in a good way) tidbits.  Until today, I had never tasted such a thing- I have eaten cucumber pickles and green tomato pickles- but never watermelon rind pickles.

I love how one can use up all of the watermelon- the pink center and the rind, and the outer green part can be composted.  Don’t forget about the fun of spitting the seeds!

 

Just think of what a treat this taste of summertime will be this winter when whining about the cold and dreaming about the warm summer to come next year!

Red Currant Jam

This morning I opened a jar of  red currant jam at breakfast – purchased on a trip to Lake Quinault in Washington State USA this past summer.  We were traveling on a loop road around the lake and out of nowhere we found a  roadside stand called Blue Jay Way (how could I resist not stopping?)

Red currant jam tastes  sweet/tart similar to cranberry or rhubarb jam.   I love buying small jars of jam and tins of specialty tea when I travel.  Savoring a holiday  long after it is over is such a treat.

Redcurrant jelly

Heavenly Hydrangeas

I do so love hydrangeas- especially the blue flowered ones.  I have recently returned from a visit to the State of Washington, USA where I encountered the best specimens I have ever beheld!

The blossoms on these magnificent specimens were similar in size to a dinner plate and wonderfully blue.   If the soil in the garden is an acid Ph, the pink blooms will be changed to blue.  Adding a product called Miracid to  lime-rich soil can help  achieve this coloration.

I returned with a renewed determination to get my hydrangea blooming (I believe it is poorly placed on an unprotected north exposure and the wood does not survive each winter).   Hydrangeas bloom on second year wood- hence, mine doesn’t bloom, or rarely has a poor show.   I have to research if moving my plant is an option, and if so, when.

IMG_1950                                        Lake Quinault Lodge, Quinault WA