June 26, 2011

The 5 senses of Summer

  Every season is evocative in it's own right, I love to celebrate them all. Each has seasonal traditions,     memories and always the potential for new ideas, enticing all five senses.


The color turquoise conveys, to me.........summer

A stunning chandelier in our Chicago shop



the pitched clank on the metal mast......whipping of the sails

the lapping of waves and distant sea gulls

My dear friend Marsha Engle, has been on a life changing journey, she is losing her hearing. What a devastating diagnosis in adulthood. Marsha, a local Geneva, Il. woman, whose hearing loss is nearly complete, remembers her favorite sounds. One can gauge this loss and appreciate our "gifts" with her newly published book. Stunning photography by Bill Huber.

For a client in a farm-like setting I installed a big square of lavender, a bit larger than a king sized sheet. In the summer sun she could and did dry her sheets on the lavender, sun baking the essential oils into the weave of fabric
Suntan lotion and the scent of salt
  freshly laundered clothes

Heirloom plant; Nicotiana 'sylsvestris'. This old fashioned plant is pollinated by moths, not bees. By evening the evocative scent of jasmine fills the garden. Plant under a window
The Lily 'casa blanca', it too releases the scent of jasmine in the daylight hours.
freshly mown lawn......how about a patch of freshly mown chamomile lawn?

Antique or heirloom roses are the scent queens of the garden. Some varieties can be detected a half block away. (damask)
I am crazy for this line of candles we represent; NEST.......and the best is Bamboo


Summer on a bun........fresh garden sliced tomatoes, just picked basil, real mozzarella........on a great bread, drizzled with virgin olive oil and sea salt
The grill, usually a man loves to take over, just fine with me!
here are two corn on the cob suggestions, keep husks intact
- sprinkle with chili powder (best you can find), sea salt and drizzle with lime when served
-spread the cob thickly with peanut butter, seal with husks, that is it, no butter, no salt.......great flavor (really!) and better for you, really! No surprise that children also love this!

A drink I have to come to love, compliments of my friend Eddie Ross.
Fresca soda, vodka and lime.....delish!
Just picked juicy cantaloupe with prosciutto...yum!

the winner of the peony giveaway is Mary Casey.........need your address Mary!

Have a splendid week!

June 19, 2011

My Fathers

My first father impacted my early years and left a deep mark on who I am today. He left us when I was twelve and sister eight, in a skiing accident. He was 36.  Lucky me! I had this amazing man in my formative years and I wanted to be just like him. I believe he is looking down with approval.

He brought to my life and being;

a deep love for animals

the importance of being kind

my adventurous side; when he took me to an air show at 10, I pronounced that I would be a skydiver when I grew up. He assured me I would like that, and I did. When he took me to a water park and told me to jump from the diving tower, I did. Going all the way to the top, (of course that is not what he meant) where only the older boys were, I jumped, no, I belly flopped but Dad was there, to grab me. Scold me? NO, i think that smile he was trying to hide meant something else

a love of sports

a fondness for grits and a love of the south, you see Dad was born in Kentucky, his family hailed from Mississippi. Legend has it they were plantation owners... not confirmed. His aunt, my great aunt Fairybelle, real name, epitomized "southern bell" and adored my father, I was mesmerized by her elegant style.

a deep love of traveling and wandering

creativity. He was always building things and I was the helper. Of course my favorite was our playhouse

a 'can do' spirit, despite the odds. And as a girl of the 60's, he said you can be anything you want when you grow up, a most unusual concept then. "If you want something badly enough, it's yours!"

my love of gardening. When he built two raised beds, gave one to each of us, and took us to the store to buy whatever seeds we wanted. Oh the element of surprise that summer brought to me!

embrace risk, take a chance

Dad was wise beyond his years and I loved him deeply

My second father came in my teen years and I was too cool for this man; he was too earnest in receiving our trust and love, too intellectual (nerd) for this Catholic school party girl. My friends and I made fun of his ways. 
Then I grew up and this dear man, Bob, became my father, in the truest sense. He left us this past February, I believe he is looking down saying "Now, now my girls (he had sons) I love you with all my heart, all will be fine.......please take care of your Mom for me."

He brought to my life and being;

another intense love and respect for animals

a deep understanding of history. Bob was a WWII vet. His beloved family farm in Pennsylvania is still in the family and the deed was signed by William Penn.

never talk behind anyones back that cannot be there to defend themselves 

   choose kindness, always

never be timid in telling those around you how much you love them, appreciate them, thank them.....

commitments made are unbreakable, a person's honor is his being 

what constitutes a true gentleman, a loving husband, father, and the pure measure of a good man

Bob was very wise in his years and I loved him deeply.  

Today I choose to celebrate gratitude, lucky me, for I had TWO great Fathers in my life

Love to all on this special day,

June 16, 2011

PEONIES... A story and a giveaway

Here in northern Illinois our peonies are on their last gasp and I am always sad to see them go. Others, will in succession, fill the gap. To me, nothing rivals that luscious heavily petaled globe of early summer.

Their loveliness adds life and energy to a room while taking center stage

Two thousand years of lore and legends from the Chinese to the Greek and the Romans abound.
 My favorite is this;
"peonies were considered to be filled with demons, you see as the plant was pulled it was said to scream. however the root was a natural teething ring and quite necessary. so dogs were tied to the plant with food just out of reach, ultimately to success" 

A favorite in my garden the 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Hung in my barns upper level which is stifling hot. Drying quickly in a hot dark spot preserves the blooms

A, tip that escaped me this year as they dried so fast;
When the peony or a rose is half dry take a blow dryer and pop it under the bloom giving it a blast. Immediately it "blows up" to it's full cabbage appearance. A great way to preserve peonies from your wedding bouquet 

Dried peony petals are beautiful to throw at a wedding

Now for the giveaway.......A generous and historically significant local family, the Klehm's are the founders of  'KLEHM'S SONG SPARROW, a nationally recognized mail order nursery. Part of the history of this family is that they are great hybridizers of peonies. By that it means that they take the best attribute of two different peonies and create  a new variety. A very labor intensive and trial by error endeavor with no guarantee of success. For this giveaway I wanted to only include varieties that they created.

For your chance to win, take a look at their catalogue and be amazed at the varieties of all species. So the nursery has generously offered one of the two peonies below as a gift to a reader. And all you need to do is comment and tell me your favorite plant  found in their on-line catalogue
-a bomb (full and multi petaled)
-late bloomer; would be starting about now
-zones 2-8
-short in stature; 18" equals strong upright stems

-Semi-double with a gorgeous 'eye of pollen' reminiscent of a tree peony
-very hard to find
-ruffled soft salmon and pink
-mid-season bloomer
-zones 2-8

                                                  Look forward to hearing from you!

NOTE:  your bare root plant will ship this fall.


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