Farmers' Market Tote Bags

The farmers' market season is in full-swing now! We've enjoyed visiting a couple of ones near our home, bringing home: cookies, artisanal cheeses, veggies, and more! If you are in need of a new farmers' market tote for trips to your local market (or a gift for a friend), here are six favorites from my Etsy shop, Jiggety Pig.

Love this one made from a soft, linen, vintage tablecloth! Click here.

Beautifully illustrated citrus on this one! Click here.

One of my all-time favorites! Click here.

Love the modern vibe and yummy gelato of this tote! Click here.

For the person who likes to can jams, jellies, and the fruits of the season! Click here.

And this one, which features beautiful china and lemons! Click here.

All totes are roomy, made to last, and strong enough to carry heavy loads! They make great book bags, beach bags, and all around totes too!

Hollyhocks Forever

In a recent afternoon spent exploring Marblehead, Massachusetts, we were delighted to stumble upon a home with a border of flowering hollyhocks which seemed to stretch on forever!

Don't you just love it when someone does something so beautiful with their home and/or landscaping that it just makes you smile? We were not the only ones who braked to photograph the hollyhocks.

"Flowers have an expression of countenance as much as men or animals.
Some seem to smile; some have a sad expression;
some are pensive and diffident;
others again are plain, honest, and upright,
like, the broad-faced sunflower and the hollyhock."

--Henry Ward Beecher

Chasing the Northern Lights in New England

Photo credits to Colette.
Sunday night we went out at 11 p.m. in search of the Northern Lights, which were supposed to be visible to most of New England. We drove about a mile to a lofty lookout point in our town and parked by an historic home, with about half a dozen or so other cars filled with other townspeople who had the same idea, and turned off all the lights and let our eyes adjust to the country darkness and the night sky. And we sat. And we waited. And we peered. Periodically, another car would drive past, or stop, and then lose patience and drive away. Finally, about 12:15, Hubby lost patience and started the car up, weirdly resulting in our car burglar alarm blaring out into the quiet night. Since we live in a town where you would hardly even have to lock your car, setting an alarm would be ridiculous, and waking everyone up with it is just flat out rude. But at 12:15, it struck us as funny, and we drove off with Colette and I tittering. In one last ditch effort, Hubby drove to an old farm whose hay fields are bisected by a dirt road. He stopped at the crest of the hill, and we turned off all the lights again. Lots of stars above us, but no Northern Lights. In the hay field to the right were a couple of people waiting too. One had a flashlight, and the other had a flickering flame of some kind (lantern with candle? kerosene lantern?). The sight of a candle bobbing in the darkness of midnight in the middle of a hay field is a beautiful thing, I must say! Also a bit eerie to know you're not out there alone. I wondered what wild animal might wander past. Colette got out of the car and set up the tripod to take some time exposure shots of the night sky. Safely protected inside the car from the tens of millions of insects outside the car, Hubby and I watched the lightning bugs dance in the hay fields until one came straight up the road toward us and dived at Colette, sending her lurching as she let out a shriek. Then just to freak her out more, through the closed car windows we hollered, "Children of the Corn!" She hollered back that there were lots of bats out there. Ugh. *shudder* The clouds rolled in. And at 1 a.m., we gave up on the idea and went back home. The elusive Northern Lights...

Sabbath Rest

Glorious things of thee are spoken,
Zion, city of our God.
God, whose Word cannot be broken,
formed thee for His own abode.
On the Rock of Ages founded,
What can shake thy sure repose?
With salvation's walls surrounded,
Thou mayst smile at all thy foes...

Savior, since of Zion's city
I, through grace, a member am,
Let the world deride or pity,
I will glory in your name.
Fading are the world's best pleasures,
All its boasted pomp and show;
Solid joys and lasting treasures
none but Zion's children know.

- John Newton (1779)

Sweet Sundresses

I made half a dozen summer sundresses for my sweet granddaughters...three for each of them. It was like a walk down memory lane, as I used some of the same patterns that I used for my own daughters so many years ago. And I had to get really creative with some of the designs, because for one dress, I only had 2/3 of a yard of fabric. Yikes. But now they are cute, flitting sweethearts in a profusion of pink and lavender!

4th of July Celebration

I hope you had a grateful and fun Independence Day celebration! Ours was full of family, food, and great New England charm!

We began the day by watching our small town's 4th of July parade. The grandkiddos came to watch for the first time and thoroughly enjoyed it! Theo declared it "...almost as much fun as the fair!" And little Nora said her favorite part was "the horses". Asked what else she liked, she replied, "The horses". There might have been other things to see, but not in the eyes of a 3-year old! Melts my heart! 

Then it was home for a leisurely afternoon and some food prep. When Colette got home from work, it was time to decorate. I love having an assortment of patriotic fabrics and a whole fistful of flags, because you can instantly make any national holiday look patriotic.

I love these memory-making times around our fire pit surrounded by family and friends...enjoying food and conversation for hours, as the sun sets in the sky and the fireflies start their sparkly dance among the shrubbery. I hope the grandkids cherish these memories all their lives.

- MENU -

hot dogs grilled over the open fire
traditional condiments
Ina Garten's Red Dill Potato Salad (recipe here)
watermelon/blueberry/blackberry salad
vegetable tray with tatziki
potato chips with onion dip
lime tortilla chips with Cowboy Caviar

assorted artisan sodas
artisan beer
hard cider

s'mores with milk and dark chocolate

Whenever I'm in Home Goods (and let's face it...that's more often than I ought to be), I cruise through the food section and check out the selection of artisan sodas. If anything sounds intriguing, I grab a 4-pack, bring it home, and store it in the basement for the next cookout. People love digging through the ice to discover something new. This time I had IBC Cream Soda, something from Maine Root, Marionberry Cream Soda, and two interesting types from a company called Sipp (pear/green tea/honey AND blood orange/lime/jalapeno.

The sun set and out came the glow necklaces, s'mores, and sparklers!

Photo credits for that last photo go to our friend, who has FAR greater photography skills than I!

I hope you had a wonderful celebration too!

July Greetings

July greetings from New England! I thought I'd share a few photos from a couple of weeks ago, when Colette and I toured the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle. It was moored in Boston Harbor and open for touring as part of Sail Boston 2017.

We have friends in the Coast Guard who have sailed aboard the Eagle. And Max just finished up a couple weeks duty out of Coast Guard Base Boston, just across the way.

It was a great precursor to 4th of July weekend! What are your plans for the holiday?

Travel Experiences in the UK

We have found that often, what you remember most from vacation are the experiences you have enjoyed together. We purposely planned some into our recent trip to the UK, and they proved to be a welcome change of pace from touring houses and museums and cities.

The first of these was a chartered Land Rover safari with Highland Safari in the Scottish Highlands (click here for more information).

Truly, this was one of the highlights of the trip for all three of us! Our marvelous, kilted guide, Sandy, entertained us with his dry wit, tutored us in Scottish customs and lore, and offered expert driving advice as we each took a turn at the wheel off-roading in the Scottish Highlands.

Look at that happy face! A Land old one with the tire on the hood and the winch on the her dream car! She buckled down and learn to drive a stick-shift just so she could drive on this safari.

Here she comes to ford the creek!

We admired the beautifully green views of the green pastures in the valleys. Sheep!

And we followed our guide out to see a grouse butt. Those circular areas are where grouse hunters would stand and wait for the grouse to fly and then take aim. (Think Downton Abbey...especially the episode in Scotland where they go out in groups to grouse hunt.) He said these grouse butts are about 100 years old.

On our safari, we stopped for a time in a crude shelter called a bothy (rhymes with frothy) to warm up with cups of steaming hot tea and some shortbread. It was spitting snow at us on our trip with the wind blowing about 30 mph, so we were very grateful for some warmth.

Quite possibly my favorite photo of the three of us from the whole vacation!

Hubby had a birthday while we were on vacation, so we devoted that day to some activities we knew he would enjoy. We enjoyed a tour of Hawkshead Brewery in Staveley (click here for more information) and clay pigeon shooting at Crabtree Clay Shoot in Lupton (click here for more information).

What a beautiful location! The green, green hills just took our breath away!

Dress code here includes a hat!

While Hubby is an experienced shooter, Colette was new to clay shooting. She did great! She even got "the rabbit", a clay that skitters along the ground, which her dad missed. I do believe she was a bit exultant about that!

When my brother was in elementary school, he had a British pen pal. This pen pal came and stayed with our family for about a week one summer. Then my brother went to England and stayed with his family the next year. And the pen pal did the same one more time. Through the marvels of Facebook, we are now cyber friends. And we met him and his family for a bit of hiking in the town of Malvern and for dinner. It was the season that the bluebells bloom and they were just gorgeous!

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