TRAVEL: NEW ENGLAND

Let’s visit central Massachusetts.

I recently flew up to Hartford and then drove on up to the beautiful Connecticut River Valley in Massachusetts. Gorgeous, picture perfect weather helped to enhance the entire trip…but oh, what beautiful countryside. I was staying at my brother’s house in Leverett but we drove all over, exploring. Among the highlights of the short (two day) trip was lunch at

The Alvah Stone Restaurant in Montague.

Lunch in Mass._wmSet along the Sawmill River and with eating available outside, it was a lovely spot on a summer day.  I had a light lunch but that pea soup was unusual and delicious. After lunch we wandered over to the adjoining Montague Bookmill, a used book store in part of this old grist mill. I even found a small, wonderfully informative book all about tulips (my favorite flower…) which has already been very useful as I begin to look at the fall bulb catalogs.

We walked along the Connecticut River, high up on the man made bluff:

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To end the afternoons we swam at Puffer’s Pond in Amherst. We figured the water temperature was about 70°; quite a change from the 88° here in North Carolina at the pool!

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Kind of idyllic, no?

 

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Time to plant these sunflower babies!

 

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With my newest young friend! Don’t you love those legs hanging down?

 

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Time to leave….

I want to WELCOME any readers who have landed here from
Heather Allen Online!
Heather and I met a few months ago and I agreed to contribute a bit of my experience and knowledge about blogging to her website. Timing can be everything, don’t  you think? At about the same time that Heather and I started working together, I had been thinking of exploring my experiences in the blog world and sharing them with readers. So, I am now working on ways to offer you some tips, ideas and business thoughts about blogging and social media.
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FRIDAY FLOWERS: HOT…HOT…HOT

This IS the South, so what can I expect?

I should know and be prepared for such hot, humid weather. Well, I am …. sort of.
In fact, I rather like the really hot weather.
But not so my garden. It’s tough on everyone out there. But I water faithfully and thoroughly, sometimes twice a day.

And for that, here is what I get in my mid-summer garden:

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Hibiscus. I have it planted by the front porch, climbing up the white railing. And what a statement it makes!

 

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Love these petite Echinicea, “Sombrero Hot Coral.” I bought them last summer and they survived the winter just fine.

 

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Canna “Tropicana”

 

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My flowering Sempervivum (Hens & Chicks). Yes, they can flower!

 

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Daisies, of course!

 

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I have lots of Helianthus. They do so well in this climate and look so cheerful in my front garden that I’ve added a few more plants this year.

 We’ve had some rain and slightly cooler days, but still, the garden  is in it’s summer blah stage.
I have come to realize that an English cottage garden is simply not in my future in this climate. And that means that I will just have to go across the pond to visit one…right?

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IN THE KITCHEN: COLANDERS

A colander is defined as:

“a perforated bowl used to strain off liquid from food, especially after cooking.”
or, more specifically:

“a perforated bowl, made of stainless steel, aluminum, or plastic, that is used to drain the liquid from pasta, vegetables, salad greens, and other foods.”

I had been vaguely looking for a new colander. My old one, down below, seemed well…dated. The feet were scratching my white corian sink and it just seemed what?…clunky I guess is the best word.

Enter this gem from Cuisinart found at HomeGoods last week.
I love it. Lots of holes so the liquid really DOES drain. No scratching from the feet on my sink. It sits low. Nice, sturdy handles. Did I mention how it really drains well?

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These gorgeous gems I had found at a tag sale and, while they look beautiful, they DO NOT drain well as there are simply not enough holes either on the sides or the bottom.

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Here’s my old colander that I’ve had for at least twenty five years!

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To help you in your search for a new colander (you know you need one!) here are some suggestions:

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Links to sources are below, beginning with top left and going clockwise:

1.  2.  3.  4.  5.  6.

I would caution anyone to beware of bright, fun, colorful colanders. As in so many things, it can often be the simpler, less complicated and glitzy models that work the best. So take your time and look around. As you probably know, you can spend a lot of money ($85.00 for the copper) or a little money ($15.00 for the simple, colorful #6.) You can find some more ideas on my
Pinterest board: In The Kitchen. If you do go over there you can also see a sneak preview of some ideas I’m gathering for my kitchen! Yes, time to do some minor updates. Well, let’s hope they remain minor. But as you all know it is SO easy to do more than originally planned ….. We shall see.

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TRAVEL: LETS GO TO WASHINGTON, D.C.: PART 2

This post is an update to the one you read just a few days ago. I had several other places I had wanted to show you but needed to gather the images.

#1. Meridian Hill Park

This is a National Park Service property up in the Columbia Heights section of the District.The park construction was started in 1914 and finished in 1936. Take a look at their site: it has the entire history and lots of wonderful historic photographs. I had never heard of it! But my daughter lives nearby so we took a walk up there on what was, for Washington in July, an unusually pleasant, clear and low humidity day. I only took a few photos but here they are:

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This is the largest “cascading” water flow in a park in this country. And it was just beautiful.

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Next on my update list for you:

#2. Union Market

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Union Market, located in the NE section of the city, opened in 1931 selling all kinds of produce, meat, vegetables etc. to both the public and wholesalers. As times changed, so did the market which came upon hard times by the 60′s. It has now been totally modernized (gentrified?) and there are plans to expand it greatly.
But oh the food! There is everything you could possibly want from fish and chips with an Australian twist to gourmet wines to a huge selection of cheese to the really fun home accessories store, Salt & Sundry.

I recommend a visit to this market!

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#3. Point Chaud Crêpes

This small bistro/restaurant started up near U Street and just recently moved down 14th to L Street. So it was just two blocks from The Washington Plaza at Thomas Circle…very convenient for your next stay there.

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I didn’t have a chance to take many pictures as it was so crowded on a Saturday morning.

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Sweet or savory: they have them all!

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I had a banana and raspberry (fresh!) with ricotta.

 

And now, back to the original post:

I showed you a glimpse of our nation’s capitol last December in this post.
One of the several highlights of that visit had been our stay at

The Washington Plaza Hotel

This is a classy hotel!
It’s not a huge tourist hotel and it’s not a small ultra chic trendy hotel. No, it’s a mid-century (built in 1962) classic destination. While the rooms are not huge, they are more than adequate. Three of the nine floors have balcony rooms facing the front. The restaurant is surprisingly good both the food and the service. If and when you go, be sure to have one of their made-on-the-premises Danish pastries for breakfast. To die for!
The shower was fabulous. And the pool….we had been there in the winter so this was the first time to sit out by the pool, and it did not disappoint.
Moreover, the entire hotel from hallways to bathroom to balcony is kept immaculately clean. I really appreciate this touch.

As I mentioned in a previous post on Charleston, you know some of the things I value in a hotel. Fresh air and good lighting in the bathroom are just two of the “amenities” that can make or break a property for me. This time we reserved a room with a balcony and were upgraded to a deluxe king room by the Director of Sales and Marketing, Chris Finney. Chris and I spoke a few days before we arrived and she was more than helpful in getting all the details just right. Thank you Chris!

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Clockwise from top left: the lobby, pool in the morning, our bed, tea in the afternoon, our balcony, plants in the lobby, and a view of the hotel front from our balcony.

 

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I would be remiss to not show you the Mango Cheesecake! We devoured this two nights running upon our late return each evening. Fabulous indeed.

 

We went to see the glorious fireworks on the National Mall. I’m not one for huge crowds and was hesitant to do this….but, I have to tell you, it is one remarkable and unique and truly wonderful experience. If you ever have the chance to go, DO IT!

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And last, but certainly not least, is a “family portrait” taken on our last evening. What could be nicer than a roof top cookout with clear skies and good food.

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I’m back in town and will be posting on a more regular schedule now!

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IT’S LOCAL: LoMoMarket

LoMoMarket
What in the world is it?

It’s many things.

It’s a truck that arrives at scheduled stops around the Triangle (that’s Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill) and sells locally grown and produced goods to hungry, and savvy, customers.

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It’s a unique concept whose mission is
“to expand the market for local foods by making it easier for farmers and local food producers to connect with local food lovers. This mission plays a big role in our business,” said Guenevere Abernathy, founder and CEO of LoMoMarket.

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From the LoMo site

 

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It’s a fun, new way to shop local and to find the very best in locally produced goods.

Look at the LoMo Market site and see all the stops in the Triangle area. The truck used to stop in my village but there just was not enough business as we also have a weekly Farmer’s Market that has expanded every year and is very successful. The nearest stop to us is Briar Chapel where you will find the truck on  Saturday  afternoons.

One thing in particular I love about their website is this little row of icons:

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You can see just what is available on any given day in any “department”.
Again, very clever: the concept and the graphics.

All their graphics are great. The staff is very helpful. They accept credit cards (!!)  They DO tend to sell out of some items if you wait until the last half hour of a stop. They very cleverly restock for each stop in a day, so there is always a fresh supply at each stop.

I bought pink snapper last Saturday and it was delicious and fresh.
Try it….you will like it!

If you’re wondering what Lo and Mo stand for, it’s “local” and “mobile”. Clever!

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