Saturday, May 31, 2008


Some days, you just have to drop everything and turn your face up to the sun. Happy Saturday, dear bloggers!


My old Toshiba laptop has given up the ghost, so I may be absent from the blogging world for several days until I get it replaced.  I prepared this post a few days ago, but since I can't always upload pictures on my daughter's Mac (do I need Firefox or is it just Blogger problems?), I'll be doing some research and comparison shopping today.  If you all have any recommendations, could you please drop me a line?  Thanks!

Friday, May 30, 2008

A Spanish Garden

No, I have not been traveling in Spain, or even in California or Florida. Believe it or not, this garden is about two or three miles down the road from my house in New Jersey. It was originally designed for the family of mining industrialist Evander Schley, by the famed landscape architect Ellen Biddle Shipman in 1926. It has been restored by the firm of Statile & Todd, Inc. as a part of the designer showhouse and gardens, Mansion In May, to benefit Morristown Memorial Hospital. Here are some more views:

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Big Blooms

I am, without a doubt, the laziest gardener on earth. I plant and then pretty much abandon. If it returns the following year, Hurrah! Here are some pink clematis, about as big as a softball, which were planted in a pot on our deck last year. They are doing quite well this spring, with absolutely no help from me.

Just thought I'd practice some truth in advertising.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Flowers, Inside and Out

Late spring is the time when outside and inside meet for me, right here where I sit and read. We have this giant rhododendron growing right outside the library window, and I love to take a few minutes in the morning to sit and bask in the morning sun, and enjoy the blooms --

through the window,

and on the needlepoint and fabric pillows.

Don't you just love spring?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Reporting Back

After all my stressing, my cleaning frenzy and my Triple Red Alert, I'm happy to report that my son's girlfriend is an absolute sweetheart. She even brought me flowers! Next time I get this crazy, I hope someone will remind me of this.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend. As fun as the weekend has been, I'm looking forward to getting back to my normal routine, and being able to visit you all again. I have some great garden pictures to share with you, and I feel the need to set a pretty table soon, too. :)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Still Fluffing

Yes, I know I'm nuts, but I'm still cleaning and fluffing. My son and The Girlfriend arrive at 3pm. They plan to stay till Tuesday. I'll let you all know how it all went if I'm still coherent by then. Have a wonderful weekend, dear bloggers!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Morning Has Broken

Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for the springing fresh from the word

Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall, on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God's recreation of the new day

Christian hymn, Lyrics by Eleanor Farjeon, 1922


I loved reading everyone's flower-inspired memories on Wednesday. Thank you so much for sharing them! Here's one more from my childhood:

The lawn at our Little Red House is hardly a beautiful green swath of Kentucky Bluegrass; it's more of a field that has been mowed continuously. As such, it has quite a few patches of wildflowers in it -- bugle and buttercups and violets. One of my first memories of spring is walking along behind my father as he used the old push-mower, and trying to save the flowers he mowed. He always stopped so I could rescue a few violets, or put a buttercup under my fat little chin. I always think of him when I see these simple flowers.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Happy Birthday, Baby

My son turns 21 today, but I can remember him as a one-year-old as if it were yesterday. I suspect it is like this for most mothers, especially with their firstborn. We enjoyed a very warm summer that year, and we spent many days sitting on a blanket in the garden.

For My Baby

I will forever remember this day --
sitting in the grass,
the sun on my back
and you in my lap,
a daisy clutched in your fist.

And all my memories will spin --
as petals circle the center,
as planets circle the sun --
and radiate from this day,
from you, my bright morning star.

I will forever remember this day.

I can't believe it's been 21 years -- where has the time gone? Happy birthday, Liam!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Lighting a Memory

Just a few more photos of our Lilies of the Valley. I only wish I could post their scent as well. :) I'm sorry for all the flower posts, but I can't help it. I love spring flowers! I already told you how my mother planted the original pips at our Little Red House years ago. Lilies of the Valley also remind me of May Crowning at our grammar school.

I went to a Catholic grammar school, and each May we always brought in fresh flowers to put in front of the statue of Mary, Mother of God. We also held a May Crowning, where one child (always a girl) was chosen to place a crown of flowers on the statue. I was chosen to do that when I was about nine or ten. All the girls got dressed up in our Sunday best, including white gloves, and the boys wore dark jackets and little ties. We processed into church side by side, singing hymns to Mary. We recited prayers and received holy communion. Then it was time for the crowning.

The statue was a tall one, placed on a plinth. The whole thing was about ten feet off the floor.

I am afraid of heights.

I had never been so frightened in my young life. My legs shook as I climbed the ladder to place that crown on the statue. Luckily, the crown slid right on and I was able to climb back down quickly with no mishaps. But I can never smell Lilies of the Valley without thinking of that day.

I really can't name just one favorite flower, but there are not too many that evoke such strong memories.

Do you have a favorite flower that triggers a memory from your childhood?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow

Do you know that Carole King song, "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" It's going through my head as I write this post.

I decided to show you my family room -- the room that I lovingly refer to as "lived-in."

This is the room with all the books and newspapers and magazines strewn about, with homework on the desk and cat hair on the sofa.

This is the room that I cringe to think of the girlfriend seeing.

Anyway, here it is in all it's tattered glory. I've tidied it up a little (OK, a LOT) for these pictures.

But it still has that "lived-in" look. But hey, I guess everybody has one of those rooms, right? So I'm not going to stress over it.


Oh hell, I may have to stress just a little.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Azalea Time

When you have a little red house, it's hard to grow all those bright magenta azaleas without searing someone's retinas. Thus, we stick to white ones. They grow amazingly well here -- I think it's the acidic soil. Anyway, we have plants that have grown to six or seven feet. It's fun to look at the sky from underneath. The plants almost become like a secret place from childhood. And we all could use a secret place once in awhile, couldn't we?


Just in case you were wondering, when we ripped up the carpet on the stairs, (see Triple Red Alert, below) we found some pretty gnarly looking wood. Luckily, Robin's husband, Ken, called a friend who happens to have a carpet business, and he installed a new carpet THE SAME DAY!!! Don't I have wonderful friends?!
Edited to add: I haven't met the girlfriend yet. She is coming this Saturday. I'm still cleaning...

Friday, May 16, 2008

Triple Red Alert

OK, I'm still on Triple Red Alert here. Yesterday I tried to straighten up the family room and dust the book shelves. And I sort of got sidetracked into rearranging the books so that I could fit more on the shelves. We always have piles of books around the house, sitting on the floors or spread across a footstool, so this was my attempt to create some organization out of a very messy room. (There's a reason why you never see photos of the family room on my blog -- it's got that real "lived-in" look!)

Today my friend, Robin, is going to help me tear up the ratty carpeting on the stairs. I'm not sure what is underneath, but it can't be any worse than that threadbare rug. LOL

Well, gotta go. After all, I'm on Triple Red Alert here!!! Have a wonderful weekend. :)

(Yes, I realize that the photo of strawberries has nothing whatsoever to do with the post. Except they are red. Sorry, that's all I got.)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Heaven Scent

The Lilies of the Valley are blooming at our Little Red House. My mother planted just a few of them years ago, and now they have spread all along the front walkway, where they perfume the path to our front door. They truly are "heaven scent." :)
We are on "Triple Red Alert" here at the Little Red House. Well, at least I am. My son went back to school yesterday, but he's returning a week from Saturday with his girlfriend. I need to go on a cleaning frenzy, but all I seem to be able to do at the moment is run around like a chicken with it's head cut off, and eat everything in sight. (I'm eating; not the chicken. That simile is over. Kiss it goodbye.) Anyway, if I don't visit you all for awhile, please understand. I'm on Triple Red Alert!!!
Edited to add: Not ten minutes after I posted this, I dropped an almost-full plastic bottle of pancake syrup on the wood floor in the kitchen. It broke open and spread into a foot-wide pool that took fifteen minutes and half a roll of paper towels to clean up. Aaaarrrgh!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Secret Garden

It looks like the gate to a secret garden, doesn't it? It actually leads to the Cross Estate Gardens, a beautiful historical site hidden in the rolling hills of New Jersey's horse country. The gardens date back to the early years of the twentieth century, when the surrounding area was a summer retreat for wealthy New Yorkers.

One of the main features is a wonderful wisteria-covered pergola, which spans the length of the garden. At this time of year, it is alive with the buzz of bees who feast on the long purple racemes.

Tucked amid the tall trees is a lovely natural shade garden, whose meandering paths offer a place to stop and appreciate the wonderfully fragrant air. I wish that you could smell the air, heavy with the scent of wisteria and lilac.

The house, originally built in 1905, was purchased in 1929 by Redmond Cross. His wife, Julia Newbold Cross, belonged to the Royal Horticultural Society and was also a president of the New York Horticultural Society. Along with noted landscape architect, Clarence Fowler, she made extensive improvements to the gardens. The house was remodeled in 1940, after the death of Mr. Cross.

The formal garden is surrounded by a stone wall, and divided into four quadrants paved with old bricks. Large terracotta jars adorn this English garden, surrounded by lavender and veronica. The air is heavy with the drone of bees.

The Cross Estate gardens are a project of the New Jersey Historical Garden Foundation in cooperation with the National Park Service. For more information, visit