Monday, March 30, 2009

Three of More Tuesday - Chimneys

Tam at The Gypsy's Corner is hosting Three or More Tuesday again and I'm sharing chimneys. Be sure to check out the other participants.
This is the faux chimney that contains our exhaust fan for the kitchen range. The chimney is really big because the fan is about 24" across. It's like the kind restaurants have because I hate cooking smells drifting through the house. The pot on top is faux too. The Lord of the Manor built it out of aluminum and we faux painted it to look like terra cotta. We are all about faux here, aren't we?

Here is the main chimney and the only real chimney. It connects to the woodburning fireplace in the living room.

And lastly, here is the third chimney on our house. It is faux too because the fireplace underneath it is a gas insert and vents out the wall. But, darn, it is cute, isn't it?

Field Trip

click on photo to enlarge I know you are probably getting bored with this wisteria thing, but we just had to go visit the giant vine again over the weekend. Teen2 went with us this time and I had her stand next to the tree to give the photo some scale. Awesome, eh?

This little branchlet was covered in lichens, yet held several blooms. So old, yet so vibrant.

We also stopped and looked at the cherry trees. The trees are in full bloom right now and look like they are covered with popcorn. So pretty.

And the bees were busy helping the farmers.

Cherries are a large an profitable crop here. Just look at the amount of flowers on each branch. Now wonder we often get three and four cherries in a bunch. I can hardly wait.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Spring has Sprung

It's a sure sign that Spring has Sprung when primroses are blooming in the dining room. If I was really classy I'd have Cornishware mugs to put them in, but all I've got is these cheap pink mugs. Maybe I can get Teen1 to peruse charity shops whilst she's in the UK this summer and get me some Cornishware mugs!

I'm getting tired of the dark somber colors in my dining room, so I tried to lighten it up a bit for Spring. I hung this mirror with a white frame, laid out a green table cloth, and put out only fresh pastel items: bunnies from my sister TravelBug, lilacs from the garden, pink dishes, and white primroses.

Don't you agree that everything needs to be lightened up for Spring? Swept clean, uncluttered, freshened up, lightened up; that's what I'm thinking. Anyway, that's it for now from Springy, Fresh, Lightened Up, Amongst The Oaks.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Thanks to Heidi

Isn't the blogging world an amazing place? Just when I think maybe I've said all I need to say and shown all I need to show, someone asks a question or tells me about something cool or suggests an excursion that I must share. Like yesterday when Heidi commented on my wisteria and mentioned a huge old plant near her town. I would never have known about it without the blogging world. So you know what I did? I jumped in the car with the Lord of the Manor and drove right up there to see it. And it was spectacular!

We could see the purple haze way up in the oak tree before we even turned the corner. And after we parked and got out the scent assaulted us. Then walking closer we could hear the drone of bees and the chatter of birds. For several minutes we stood open-mouthed, not speaking or taking photos, simply awed by its size. This ancient plant has climbed at least 40' up the tree and its vines romp through the tree and the flowers cascade through the branches.

click on photos to enlarge

I didn't measure around the trunk, but like Heidi said, I couldn't get my arms around it, so it had to be 24" across at the base. The oak tree was about 30" across for comparison. I wonder how old it is? And I wonder what sort of life the woman who planted had. Because I just know a woman planted it. A man on a small farm would be more concerned with planting crops, and tending animals, and making a profit, but a woman would want a little beauty out there on the farm. And I don't think she intended for it to climb up the oak tree because it's quite a ways from the tree, but somewhere along the line, it found the tree and really took off.

I deperately wanted a chaise lounge so I could lie there for a while absorbing the sights and sounds and smells of that special little world Amongst The Oaks. Thank you Heidi for sharing this treasure.

PS: Next to the oak tree and behind the little fence we found lots of these plants. I think they are black calla lilies (Arum palaestinum) and related to this plant I showed you last June.

Friday, March 27, 2009


Wisteria season Amongst The Oaks.

Perfume hangs in the air

sunlight plays on purple blooms

tender leaves unfurl.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Outdoor Wednesday - Flower Baskets

It's Outdoor Wednesday again. Please visit Susan at A Southern Daydreamer to see all the other participants. And Thank you Susan for hosting Outdoor Wednesday.

I changed my flower baskets to springy flowers over the weekend. I left the white but removed the red and added pink and blue. I just love Impatiens (busy Lizzie for my UK readers) and plant lots of them here Amongst The Oaks because they tolerate the shade nicely.

So this is how the baskets look now; pink, white, and blue.

Then I noticed that some of the fibers looked messy and sort of frazzled. Compare the left side above with the right side below. Hmmm.....

I think the Black Phoebes have been plucking the fibers out to use in their nest. Below is their nest about half way built. Those fibers do seem to match the ones from my flower baskets. But you know what? I don't really mind because I like having them on our porch. Soon Mrs. Phoebe will lay her eggs, and before we know it little faces will be peering over the edge at us. I'll try to ge more photos as this little miracle happens Amongst The Oaks.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Three or More Tuesday - Teapots

It's Three or More Tuesday again. This fun show-and-tell day is sponsored by Tam at The Gypsy's Corner. Give her a visit and check out all the fun collections.

My collection for today is teapots. Here are five, but I have others scattered around too.

This one came from my Mom's house. I like the old mottled brown glaze and the octagonal shape.

This is the first teapot I ever got when the Lord of the Manor and I were first married. I bought it at a nice gift shop that used to be on the "Miracle Mile". I think it was called Gumps. Funny name, but they had really nice crystal, silver, pewter, and china treasures. Alas, there are no more gift shops like that here anymore.

This cute little teapot is shaped like an English cottage. It even has two dogs on the doorstep.

I got this teapot recently. I love the old fashioned shape and the red transferware pattern. I would love to have a Spode Tower Pink one to match my dishes, but they are rare. And expensive.

This teapot always makes me smile. It just begs for orange spice tea, don't you agree?
I hope you enjoyed looking at some of my teapots. I've got to run now as I have a sudden yearning for a cup of tea! Wishing you Happy Tuesday from Amongst The Oaks.

Lilac Season

Lilac season Amongst The Oaks

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Spring Dinner - Rack of Lamb

The weather here has been delightfully springy, so yesterday I decided to have my favorite spring dinner: asparagus and lamb. The kids were both gone, so I splurged on rack of lamb, and after nearly having heart failure at the cost of it, I felt it needed to be displayed on a pedestal for a while. So here is the star of the show in all its glory:

I used a new recipe from Cucina Italiana and basically it is a bread crumbs, butter, mint, garlic, and parsley coating on the lamb. Then the lamb is roasted for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees.

I also found this California asparagus (not our local Delta brand) and it was steamed and served with mayonnaise and lemon.

Here is how the lamb looked after roasting. The coating was a little too green for my taste. Maybe I put in too much mint or whirled it too long in the Cuisinart. It was good, but I think I prefer Julia Child's recipe from her Julia Child & More Company cookbook that I've had since 1981. Her topping is bread crumbs, garlic, thyme, Dijon mustard and olive oil, which gives it a zestier flavor.

Oh, and you'll be happy to know that we had salad from my tiny little patch. Here it is dressed in EVOO, salt, pepper, and a little balsamic vinegar. Sublime.

It was a great dinner. What a shame the kids missed it. Snort, chuckle.

And p.s. to Blondie:

Wisteria plants are not male or female; all plants should bloom. A young plant may take a few years to bloom, and a fertilized plant will sometimes fail to bloom, but any plant should bloom eventually. Check out this page for more information.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Cruet Set

My friend JB is in the business of liquidating estates, and she has sales all the time. I try to go to all of them because they are always interesting. Yesterday she had one in a condominium neighborhood, but I went anyway because you never know what you'll find. And sure enough, I found this charming little cruet set.

It was all tarnished so I brought it home and polished it up a bit. And I cleaned all the containers and put salt, pepper, vinegar, and mustard in them. The stoppers don't match so I'll have to search out replacements, but I'm thinking it still looks better on the table than this:

I like the fun shapes...

and the glow of the not-quite-perfectly-polished silver...

and the colorful condiments through the glass....

but most of all I love the little mustard pot.

Would anyone care for a little Grey Poupon?