Monday, May 30, 2011

The bird-on-the-wing is back!

I know that last year I shared about this, but it's exciting enough to mention again -- the bird-on-the-wing is blooming again in the wildflower garden!

Last year I mentioned how that, many years ago, my daughter Carrie (a young teen at the time) planted a wildflower garden. She did so much work, clearing a spot at the edge of the woods, making brick paths, and transplanting wildflowers from our woods. Other people kept her in mind and brought her plants from their own wildflower gardens, or even from their regular flower gardens.

Her Grandpa T. was a true wildflower enthusiast who taught her much and brought her many plants. (He faithfully kept a list of the wildflowers he encountered each spring!) One such plant was the fringed polygala, otherwise known as bird-on-the-wing or gay wings. It is a beautiful fuchsia wildflower that to me looks exactly like a tiny fuchsia airplane, propeller and all!

To my knowledge the bird-on-the-wing he brought never bloomed again -- until 2010. I was so thrilled and surprised to find it blooming!

Last week I thought about it again and decided to check the garden. Sure enough -- it is not only there, but has spread.

I hope that soon, Carrie will be able to take a few plants to her own home for one of her gardens there.

Here's what my wildflower book says about the fringed polygala:

"Fringed Polygala is one of those reticent little woodlanders whose small size causes them to be missed by many people unaccustomed to looking for small plants. This is especially true in the subdued light which prevails in its accustomed haunts. A large part of this peculiar plant is hidden underground in ithe form of slender, rootlike stems which branch freely and slowly spread farther and farther. These often bear a few closed, subterranean flowers which never open yet are self-fertile and produce seeds. Thus the plant has two seed sources on which it can depend for starting new generations. Its range extends from Quebec to Georgia, especially in the Appalachian system, and out into Wisconsin."
~ Wildflowers of North America, by Robert S. Lemmon and Charles C. Johnson

Maybe you have this wildflower blooming in your area! Have you seen it?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sausage Asparagus Skillet

 (Photo from Home Joys)
We tried a wonderful main dish last night... absolutely delicious.  It came from Gina at Home Joys.  Here is the link to her recipe:  Sausage Asparagus Skillet.  This dish has marvelous flavor.

One-dish meals like this are so good.  We just served some of Gina's  Miracle Bread on the side,
 (Photo by Home Joys)
and what a yummy supper!  We love asparagus, and this is one more wonderful way to use it.  I would have never thought to combine asparagus with potatoes or sausage, but it is so good.

Friday, May 27, 2011


Oh, the issues with Blogger these days!  I have been trying and trying to sign into my own blog.  When I do, it just takes me back to the same login page. It all means I can't post in my own blog or even comment on other people's. Very, very frustrating!

It has been happening to tons of other people too. I subscribed to the topic in Blogger help via email, and have tried most of the other suggestions to no avail.

Finally I got a link to Blogger in draft ( and that worked.  Now we'll see if it will let me post.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Two tasty asparagus recipes

With asparagus available now in grocery stores and gardens, I thought I would share a couple of our favorites.

First, this recipe for Peas and Asparagus. I first made this for Easter dinner a few years back. It is delicious, and the peas help to make the more expensive asparagus go farther.
(Photo from Taste of Home)
And second, this recipe for Caesar Asparagus, which is also delicious, quick and easy. You will need French or Italian bread for the croutons.
(Photo from Home Joys)
Enjoy these flavors of springtime!

Monday, May 23, 2011

A few spring wildflowers

The weather continues to be dreary and drizzly here, but the wildflowers in the garden and all around our yard make some bright spots of spring color. Here are a few of them:

Wild cherry blossoms (now all off the branches due to rain)

Apple blossoms

Wood anenomes in the wildflower garden

Clintonia (clearing out some of our woods made way for several new large patches of these)

Violets ~ we have way more of these that I can possibly show you; this is just one little clump

Painted trilliums

Closeup of painted trillium
And violets and dandelions together (as they are on our back lawn) make a particularly bright contrast.

God is so good to give us these lovely wildflowers year after year!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pork Chops Monterey

(Photo from Taste of Home)
Here is another fabulous pork recipe: Pork Chops Monterey.

This can be prepared very quickly in the microwave and is absolutely delicious. I made this last Sunday after church -- had it all ready to cook and just put it in the microwave after we returned from church. There was just the right amount of time to fix some instant mashed potatoes and roast some asparagus --- lunch was on the table 20 minutes after coming in the door. I will usually do a crock pot meal on Sundays, but this was a nice change. I've made this recipe several times when I find a good deal on boneless pork chops, and we really enjoy it. It's good with rice (as specified in the recipe) but we also like it with mashed potatoes instead.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Colors of early spring

See how the various green crayons are so much the shades of the early spring trees?
Spring never seems to hurry in coming to northern New England. Right now the leaves are coming out on the trees, wildflowers and other spring bushes and bulbs are blooming, and the pollen is afflicting allergy sufferers. But just a week or two ago, we began to see what I think of as our "spring foliage". Its colors -- the emerging leaves of the hardwoods -- are pale and subdued when compared with the brilliant fall foliage. But it has a rare beauty all its own.

I must admit that I didn't notice this spring color for many years. But one year, in a cookbook, of all places, I read a description of it that made me look at spring quite differently. The cookbook was Country Flavor Cookbook, by Haydn S. Pearson. Mr. Pearson was an author and newspaper columnist who often wrote about New England and its food. This particular book contains some wonderful recipes as well as some evocative essays about New England life. While I don't agree with all that he wrote, I have enjoyed many of the essays -- including one called Beauty on the Ridges, where I first learned about this spring foliage.

Here is an excerpt from the essay:

"Each of us has his particular sign of spring that he cherishes. The countryman feels true spring has arrived when the hardwood trees on the ridges begin to start their leaves. Brooks are laughing down the slopes; there is color in the wings of warblers and vireos searching for nesting sites. Lady's-slippers blossom in the woods and creek banks are starred with marsh marigolds. Apple buds are plump to bursting and peonies' red-brown heads are lifting above moist brown soil. But the countryman waits -- waits for the beauty on the ridges.

"Then one day it happens. The birches and beeches, poplars and oaks, maples and hickories unfold their tiny leaves from tightly packed capsules. The hillside is painted with shades of purple and violet, soft reds and browns, tans, and yellow. Look closely in the dawn and sunset hours when the sun's rays are slanting, and you can see a dozen shades of loveliness that blend into one harmonious whole. There is a soft, glowing mistiness. For a few days only does the colorful beauty stay on the hillsides. Then the leaves lengthen and one knows a new season is underway. But for a brief period, he who wishes can lift his eyes to the hills and in the quiet beauty find reassurance in a troubled world."

~ from Beauty on the Ridges, by Haydn S. Pearson

I love that description, and to me the last sentence says more than the author may have meant it to. To me it speaks of the quiet assurance I find in Genesis 8:22: "While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease."

But it was Mr. Pearson's description of the spring beauty on the ridges that opened my eyes to this subdued, yet lovely spring foliage. Now I never fail to notice it. This year, the pastel greens of certain trees seemed even more beautiful than usual. I took a few photos just in our yard but really failed to capture the loveliness. To me, some of the trees look just the color of a yellow-green crayon. Even more of them look exactly like a spring green crayon.

Yellow green

Spring green

More spring green. Over toward the left, you can see a pinkish tree.

Spring green -- this is a maple tree with what I can only describe as flowers cascading from the opening leaves. I'm not sure what they are technically called.

Maple flowers close up:
And here is a little bouquet of the maple flowers.

I know the pictures are not of the best quality -- I would love to have taken some better ones showing a hillside as described in the essay -- but they give the idea, anyway. Maybe next year I can get some better photos of this early spring loveliness.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Cranberry Dijon Pork Roast

(Photo by Taste of Home)
I made this Cranberry Dijon Pork Roast in the slow cooker yesterday for lunch. It cooked while we were at church. Oh, what an amazingly delicious recipe. The only change I made was that I didn't brown the pork first -- it was just fine without doing so -- and I used my own homemade onion soup mix rather than the golden onion mix called for.

4 adults and 2 little girls ate every scrap of this roast. I will definitely be stocking up on pork loin for the freezer, next time it's on a good sale!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A superhero caper

The dynamic duo!

I have been wanting to share this post for awhile. I know there are a lot of pictures, but they are such fun pictures I don't want to leave any of them out!

This project got its start a few months ago when I needed an idea for Emily's birthday. When I asked her mom for ideas, she mentioned that Emily (about to turn 3) and big brother Darrin (4) loved to play super heroes. They had invented their own superheroes -- Emily is Super Emily-Cat, and Darrin is Super Gromit. So Joanna suggested I might make superhero capes. What a fun idea!

I decided to make one for Darrin even though his birthday is not until September. It just seemed to me it would make Emily's gift much more fun if she and Darrin could both have capes to play super heroes together.

I did a lot of research before settling on a pattern that suited me. Who knew there were so many superhero cape patterns floating around in blogland? This is the one I finally ended up using: Clever Little Cape . I liked the idea of a collar and also the fact that the cape is lined. It really helps it to swirl nicely. I did end up enlarging the pattern by quite a bit to ensure that it would fit my grandchildren for some time to come.

Here is Emily's cape:

And here is the emblem on the back. I designed these myself after looking at some ideas online. I drew the shield emblem in a drawing document and then added the lettering using a font in a very large size to fit inside the shield. The emblems are made from felt, so they won't be completely washable, but hopefully the capes won't need washing too often. I did find out that simply fusing the letters to the shield (and the shield to the cape) with Heat'n'Bond® wasn't good enough. They came loose very quickly. So I blanket-stitched them in place and they should hold up well.

I also put a hidden cat in the lining of Emily's cape. The lining of hers is made from an old pale green sheet.

And now, for the cape in action. Joanna took these wonderful pictures.

Revealing the hidden cat:

And here is Darrin's cape:

You probably can't tell, but the design on the fabric is colorful shooting stars.

Here is his Super Gromit emblem.

And a hidden Gromit in the lining.

His cape in action. I love the pics his mommy took!

Revealing the hidden Gromit:

And here are both super heroes together, ready for action and another adventure!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Pretty cookies for spring!

I made these pretty cookies back a couple weeks before Easter, to take to a church potluck. I found the idea here: white fudge-dipped springtime cookies and I must say, theirs came out a lot prettier than mine. They used plain white nonpareils on each color, and they are daintier and sort of dotted-Swiss looking.

I just used store-brand chocolate sandwich cookies, though no doubt real Oreos® would be much better. To dip mine, I just used white candy coating ("Almond Bark"), melted, rather than melting real white chocolate. I only made three colors of coating -- pink, yellow, and green -- and I used colorful sprinkles in spring-like colors rather than the white ones, which I could not find locally. I think another time, I would try and find the white nonpareils, as I really liked their delicate look!

I also had leftover coating in each color, so I swirled them together, stirred in some coconut, and made little macaroons out of them.

These pretty cookies went over well with friends and family alike!