Spill Vases

Many people nowadays do not remember life before matches (including myself).  How did one transfer a flame from a fireplace to a candle? you might ask.

The answer is that most people kept a supply of twisted long paper tapers or thin long strips of wood above the fireplace in a holder of some type.   A popular place to store these papers, which were called “spills” was in a vase on the mantle.

Today, while browsing the Goodwill store, I found a pewter spill vase (or bud vase, perhaps).  I will clean it after looking up instructions on pewter care and put it on my fireplace mantle (when it is finished- work commences in the next few months)!


Too Much Life

In Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, the ghost of Christmas Present scolded Scrooge for complaining about “the surplus population,” and compares his attitude to insects complaining that there was too much life to share with  their hungry brethren.

Overnight, it seems, that life goes from blossom to boom in my garden.  I complained when I felt that Spring would not arise from the cold- bitten tundra and now I complain that there is “too much life in the garden”!!  I am referring to the grasses that grow, weeds that vie with  the plantings, and  trees whose branches, leaves, seeds and fruits are sometimes inconvenient.

When I start to complain about the abundance of greeny life in my patch of the world, I need to remember those cold days.  My weeds and grass clippings, branches and dead heads will be gathered and returned to the Earth and more life will be in the making!!

A Seaside Holiday

Many English vacations are spent at the seaside.  I picture Pride and Prejudice’s scene whereupon the young ladies wish to go to Brighton.

My family and I recently spent a week at the beach- not Brighton, but Bethany Beach in Delaware, USA.   It is our favorite vacationing spot and we enjoyed it immensely again this year.

There is something special about sea air.  I love it- I even love the smell of the seafood shops (my son gags).  I spent many an evening sitting at the shoreline with my father who we also included in our trip.

The walks on the beach, wading in cold sea water, collecting shells (and a mysterious crustacean), watching the ships both on the horizon and the closer ones- it was so different from my green Ohio’s hot and sticky season.

                                                 Brighton, UK

Tis the Season

No, I am not referring to the Christmas season- among the young ladies in my family, it is Baby season!   Baby announcements, baby showers, baby births and announcements- this season has been a “bumper crop!”

Miss Marple is known for her knitting and frequently she is knitting tiny outfits for godchildren and nieces and nephew’s offspring.   I am interested in learning- it is a very portable hobby.  At the shops, I am frequently drawn to the pretty and soft yarns on display, but I only know how to braid and make pompoms!

So my poor nieces and cousins will perhaps receive a little sketch, a flower, or a jar of my latest jam.   Perhaps I will be able to make a small blanket in time for the next round of younglings!


St. Joseph’s Day

I love celebrating special days.   A recent festival day I had the pleasure of celebrating along with my daughter and husband was St. Joseph’s Day, March 19.   A local  friend and his family host what is called St. Joseph’s table and we were graciously invited for the past two years.

Since it is held during Lent, no meat is served, but there is plenty of fish!  Typical festival foods include fish, meatless entrees topped with breadcrumbs (remembering that St. Joseph was a carpenter), fava beans, artichokes, lemons, breads topped with sesame seeds,  and filled pastries.

Wearing red is traditional, and an alter to honour St. Joseph is displayed.  As we left the home, we received St. Joseph holy cards, and a dried fava bean that has been blessed.  What a fun and special day- and right after St. Patrick’s day!

Summers in England

The average high temperature in the summer in England is 72 degrees (F).  I would love that temperature in July and August!  I wondered about the climate there when I see so many British television shows with the characters wearing jackets, etc in the summer.  It is also rainy there year round.

Every year I hurry to get the heaviest of lawn chores done early in the season due to the heat that comes in the summer.   In the autumn, I also enjoy the garden with the cooler temperatures returning.

I am not a “hardy” person who works the yard and garden in wet, cold, or hot weather.  I am still searching (online) for the perfect short gardening boot.  I am using old sneakers currently, but the laces must be tied and that is hard for me (arthritis, etc).  I remember my mother having a pair of gardening clogs by the back door- that is also a good option.  Anything that makes it easy will encourage me to get out more!

Sloggers Floral Women's Waterproof Garden Shoes: Sloggers Floral Women's Waterproof Garden Shoes

Happy Sunday

Happy Sunday to you!

This morning I fried salmon croquettes and scrambled eggs for our Sunday breakfast.  In the past few months, my husband and I have discovered how tasty fish and eggs are together.  This is not a common breakfast combination in midwest America and I wish more people would give it a try.

Spring is rather late this year, but it is assuredly coming- my neighbor’s magnolia has pink buds ready to bloom and my father’s white magnolia is also ready.   There are tulips, daffodils, and crocus fully fledged and my pansies have held their own through the cold spells.

I am planning to install a garden swing in the shady back lawn for my father to enjoy when he visits in the next week or so.  That will encourage me to get started on flower bed cleanup and mulching under my hackberry trees.  In the autumn, my hostas were transplanted from another bed and appear to have survived the winter.

A Lovely Lawn

I have made a resolution to better care for my lawn this year.  A good place to start that most people can do is to pick up rubbish that has been blown into the yard and perhaps hidden by snow for a season.  For the sake of my back, I use a reaching tool to pick up stray bits and a light trash bin.

After trash is removed, then I see to the sticks and broken tree limbs from the Winter’s wrath, as well as walnuts the squirrels have missed (no one needs a turned ankle while mowing).

The lawn is ready for mowing in a few weeks- we have been using electric mowers for years and two advantages are that they are quiet and do not pollute the air (I personally hate the smell of gasoline engines).

Our choice for lawn fertilizer is Scott’s, and we have completed the first application already.  The second stage is due in early May, I believe.  We have had plenty of rain recently and things are greening up nicely.

Finding Humor in Hamlet


My daughter and I are reading Shakespeare’s Hamlet together.  I did not read this play in school (why, I do not know- but I did read other Shakespeare).  It is at times hard to follow, and at times easy.  It is considered a tragedy, yet I found several humorous takeaways.

B: “Have you had quiet guard?”

F: “Not a mouse stirring.”

This exchange reminds me of A Visit from St. Nicholas‘ : “not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.”


A little later in Hamlet, M and R allude to the long held belief that Christmastime is so blessed that the natural orders including animal behaviors are altered on Christmas Eve.

I then recalled Beatrix Potter’s The Tailor of Gloucester wherein the animals can speak on Christmas Eve.

Finally Flowers!

It has been such a long winter- I am so happy to see Spring flowers in my garden and in other’s gardens!  In my own flower beds I have crocuses, forget me nots, and vinca.  Very soon daffodils and tulips will be blooming.  Also the first dandelions are up!

Magnolia trees are beautiful this time of year, as are lilacs and forsythia.  Cherry, apple and pear blossoms are a bit later.   Leaflets are budding out on many trees in the area.

The lawns are greening up with our copious Spring rain  and soon the sounds of lawn mowers will be heard.  We have applied our first Spring fertilizer and I would like to visit a plant nursery to buy some pansies for pots near my front door and on back patio.

Here is some Vinca for you!