baby shower prep

I'm having a baby shower tea for 30 guests next Saturday and today I begin in earnest to plan the event.  This baby will be a boy, born in San Francisco in July and we all know that summer in San Francisco is perfect sweater weather.  Remember Mark Twain's funny quote, " The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco."   I have a little collection of sweaters ready for this happily anticipated little fella, including this new red garter stitch jacket using Elizabeth Zimmerman's classic February Baby Sweater as a guide.

This is fast going and will be finished in a wink.

The nursery is decorated in Pottery Barn navy with touches of red and has a view of the Golden Gate Bridge.  Yes, really, I'm not kidding, a nursery view of the Golden Gate Bridge, and luckily that red bridge will match the nursery!

This morning I started to pull out some things that might work for the tea table.  
I hope to use the white and navy striped cloth, 
plus I have a collection of mismatched white vintage tea and luncheon napkins. 
 The fabrics and felt might make a banner for the buffet.
I'll just mess around and see what works.

I purchased some 100% wool felt from Purl to make these adorable felt baby shoes.   
Cutest baby shoes ever!

I have a smallish collection of Staffordshire blue and white china that I hope will work.  

Maybe masses of red roses in blue and white pots.

Roses that I have growing right outside my door!

I'll also be scouting around the house to find other touches of navy and red that I can use for the event.

I made this redwork quilt about 25 years ago.

The mother-to-be will remember sitting on this needlepoint chair!

Wish me luck.
I have a ton of decorating ideas and haven't even started thinking about the food yet!

Happy Monday!


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busy in the garden

Hello!  I haven't had time to do much of anything lately, unless it has involved digging dirt and planting seeds.  We have been working full time in the garden this past week and it's shaping up beautifully.  Love being surrounded by electric green and the smell of dirt!  (I once owned a candle whose fragrance was "dirt",  no one liked it but me.)  Speaking of dirt, we, along with the help of our two gardeners, spent two days double digging our veg beds and importing 8 cubic yards of wonder soil.  Even with years of nurturing the soil with compost, it was tired, time for a major soil re-haul.  Also, last year we uncovered a well in the middle of our lawn and had it filled in, but still over the years it had caused our vegetable garden to sink at one end.  We moved the soil around to level it, added new soil, removed some old beds, replaced some, what a enormous job.  We have another weeks worth of work ahead of us, then it will be maintenance for the rest of the season.

 We've had a few days of rain, just enough to wet things down pretty good.  
I took these pictures during the rain break.

I dug new water wells at the base of each rose.

Along our perennial walk I planted violet petunias and 2 foot tall cosmos behind them.

We planted 24 tomato plants this year.
Do you think that's enough for a family of two?

This would be a good time to take a wee break and admire the beautiful soil.

Almost nothing escaped my passion:

I refreshed-trimmed our herb plants and replaced the old icky woody ones.
Re-potted most pots, trimmed their roots and tidied them up.
Replaced all the soil and plants in my two 6 foot long window boxes.

I swoon when I walk by the orange blossoms.

The longest wisteria flower clusters are up to 3 feet long!
In the breeze they dance like lazy ballerinas.

The picture below shows that I have some major brick path cleaning ahead of me.

Oh my gosh, the roses....what can I say?

My husband spent a few days sprucing up the watering system.

Here's the list of plants we set out:

24 hybrid and heirloom tomatoes
6 Ichiban Eggplant
8 Marketmore Cucumbers
8 bell pepper plants

From seeds:
Cut and Come Again Mesclun mix
Parris Island Cos romaine
Crimson Crunch radish
French Breakfast radish
Yellow and Green Pattypan summer squash
American Flag leek
spring onions
Italian Silver Rib chard
Pot of Gold chard
Jewel Tone mixed beets
Long Island Mammoth dill
green basil

We still need to plant our pole beans, Blue Lake Stringless
and bush beans, Classic Slenderette, a French filet type.

Our granddog Dexter, on the right, is here for a sleepover.  
His best friend Toby lives across the street and came for a play date.  
Here you see them in a rare moment of calm.

As a side note to this blog, but certainly not a side note to our lives, our son had his 2 year sober birthday this week.  We are so very proud of him.  To celebrate, we met him and his adorable girlfriend in the city (that would be San Francisco) and spent the day touring the WWII submarine and WWII transporter docked at Fisherman's Wharf.  I share this because I know many of my readers have taken an interest in his struggle and success.  He is so flattered that so many of my blog readers are cheering for him.  Thank you from my heart.

Linking up to Planty Party.

splendid dinner party

Last night we had a splendid dinner party because the
company was great, the food was delicious and the table was pretty.

 I hope you enjoy seeing the pictures of my table and the food I served.
I love having friends over and I like to share what I've done!

First thing I do when I plan a table is make my flower arrangement.
This time it was easy as I had these giant exquisite peonies in my garden.

 They remind me of the Degas ballerina's fluffy tutus.

They are so girlie and ruffly, I love them!

 Next, I pick the table cloth.  This one is a retired Le Jacquard pattern called Cherub.
Every year the French table linen company introduces a new Christmas pattern
done in two colorways, one traditional red and green,
and one in a non traditional color, such as this one in pink and purple.

I don't save it just for Christmas,
 it's versatile enough to use at any time of the year.

I also put out the matching napkins.

Choosing the plates and glasses was next.
This table is a mix of cherished pieces from my family.
The dinner plates are from my aunt, her every day Mikasa French Countryside stoneware
that I also use every day.  I also love to use them for casual dinner parties
because the white is so bright and crisp looking.

First course was Asparagus Tart served on my mother's 
Imperial Candlewick salad plates.

 The Asparagus Tart could not have been easier, prettier or tastier,
here from Martha Stewart.  I will definitely make it again!
The recipe says it serves 4, but for me it easily served 6 as a first course.

The stemware is also from my dear aunt. I think they are Lenox,
but I have never been able to track them down.

It's easy and beautiful and everyone loves it.

I was able to pick a bouquet of roses, our first this year!
They were pretty on the bar.

The main course was stuffed artichokes.
Here's what they look like before you pop them in the oven.
This was a big treat as large globe artichokes have been so expensive,
this is the first time we've had them this year.
I found these beauties on sale at Safeway and that's why I
decided to have a dinner party.  Who can resist these?

I also served this cheesy bread.
No recipe to speak of, just softened butter mixed with mayonnaise,
 grated cheese and herbs, spread on a toasted halved French loaf,
broiled and then sliced.

I love serving cookies for dessert,
and I knew the men at my table were cookie lovers.
What man is not a cookie lover?
These giant cookies have two names,
Cowboy Cookies or Dunkin' Platters.
Served with some pretty muscat grapes and a sharp English white cheddar.

I have the cookie recipe to share but no source unfortunately.
I got this off the internet before I realized how important it was
to credit the source.  I am more careful now, I really am!
Anyway, these were a GIANT hit, sweet and chewy and scrumptious.

There are many recipes out there for these cookies, 
this is the one I used, slightly modified.  Enjoy!

Makes about 4 dozen.

Cream together:
1 16 oz. box brown sugar
2 cups granulated sugar
1 lb. (4 sticks) butter

Add in order:
4 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups oats
3 cups cornflakes
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups flour

Refrigerate for a few hours until firm enough to roll into 3 or 4 logs, then wrap in wax paper.  Refrigerate again until firm, slice into 1/4" slices.  Bake at 350 on greased cookie sheets for 10-14 minutes.  Let cool for one minute then transfer to wire rack to cool.  Uncooked logs can store easily in freezer.

The last few days have been beautiful here, the rain has brought a fresh sparkle to the garden.  We've begun our gardening in earnest and plan this week to work on our vegetable garden.  Unfortunately, the last 3 days I have been knocked out by a terrible allergy attack and hope that a day of rest and knitting and a soak in the tub will help to clear me up.  So...I am off to do just that!  Hope your day is lovely.  xoxo

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