September 17, 2019

Hints at Autumn's Impending Arrival

With the landscape changing so quick--ly as the temperatures drop even further overnigh,t, I felt the need to keep pace with Mother Nature and swap out the blog's header...yet again. This time I opted for a "watercolorized" verison of a shot I took in October 2014. It's of a favorite location and stand of maple trees near where I once lived, and , and the colder temperatures overnight lately have been just the thing to trigger the start of the leaves changing color, along with the usual hints of autumn around the corner, now only 5 days away.

It's upon us now, so I've started breaking out a few more autumn decorating accents for the season. I have a lot of deep, rich blues in my decor, which, fortunately is the perfect contrast to the stark brightness of orange pumpkins.

August 31, 2019

Labor Day Arrives But Summer Isn't Over Yet!

It's the end of August and Labor Day is upon us, but contrary to popular opinion (and the demanding world of retail promotion), summer is NOT, I repeat, NOT over yet! Yes, summer is starting to fade a little, but only a little, and the calendar and Mother Nature tell us that autumn doesn't begin officially until later in September, a little less than a month away.

Sure, the temperatures in this region of eastern New York, have started to fall a bit - and thank heaven for that because this summer was a hot and humid one for far to many days for my taste. It's bad enough to be confined indoors for a good chunk of our very cold winters, so no one wants to be forced indoors during what are usually the very nicest months of the year, the months that beckon us to come outside and play.

Personally, I am a BIG fan of autumn, and I'll be happy to enjoy its return, but not before it's time. I actually am particularly partial to this time of year as well - late August and September - where one can enjoy warm days and cool nights - perfect for gardening and sound sleeping.

The photos above are of the latest iteration of my summer faux floral arrangement. They began the season with some tall stems of bright yellow faux forsythia that helped make the seasonal transition from spring, with pastel florals in pale pinks, creams and lavenders set against the bright sunshine yellow floral branches, to the brilliant bold colors of summer. I exchanged the pastels for the orange and yellow gladiolas, deep purple delphinum and a few cheerful golden yellow poppies. I just removed the forsythia the other day to leave only this arrangement, and moved it from a corner of the living room to the center of the raised hearth of my nearby fireplace. It is meant to ease the transition from summer smoothly into autumn. (It also helps to have flowers, even if they are faux silk ones, that are easy on the purse as their use can be extended into each season by simply swapping out one season-specific palette with the new one by removing a few stems and adding a few others, extending their impact over a longer period. I like the flexibility of that approach.

They are displayed in a tall, antique stoneware crock that I've had for about 30 years, purchased at a country auction when I first moved from the city to the country back in 1989. I was particularly keen to buy it since it is stamped with the name of my home town (Albany, N.Y.) and the numeral "3", which presumably refers to its capacity as a 3-gallon crock. Fortunately, it wasn't terribly expensive - maybe $20 or $25 - I can't recall exactly - as I wanted it specifically to hold large stems, whether faux or real, as the seasons dictated, and I've had it in my each of my living rooms since (there have been three) and I still love it. I always love coming across functional vintage pieces that have some inherent link to a special place in my life -it makes the item even more special to me.

So, don't be in a rush to be rid of summer yet, and don't let the retail industrial complex that drives so much of store design and merchandising these days have you believe that you should be preparing for Halloween (2 months away) - or, heaven help us, those December holidays -  way before their time. There's NO rush, so don't let retailers tell you they're around the corner so you must buy, buy, but - they're NOT! They'll all be here when they're supposed to be, whether we like it or not, so take some time during this late summer season of lovely weather that so many of us experience in September to smell and enjoy the summer flowers that still remain. And if you're in a place where the leaves put on a show in autumn, let their changing colors tell us in due course that autumn is upon us -  and not a month before it's due to arrive merely because Labor Day has. 

August 13, 2019

Hot August Days and Nights

Despite the series of hot summer days with temperatures in the high 80s and low-to-mid-90s that descended here in upstate New York over the past month (I think I heard from one of the local meteorologists on television that we'd had at least 12 or 13 days of high heat and humidity), my side-yard garden on the patio and beyond seem to have weathered the worst of the heat. We've had quite a bit of rain over the past few weeks - several of the usual late July to early-ot-mid-August weather fronts came roaring in from the west and exploded over the region with the requisite pouring rain, occasional hail, strong winds, thunder, lightning - the usual gamut of severe summer storm ingredients.

A number of communities in the region suffered some serious damage, with power outages from downed tree limbs and a few massive trees that were literally upended right out the ground, roots and all. That's always stunning to see - sad, too, because they're usually big, old and majestic trees that just weren't a match for Mother Nature any longer.

I was always terrified of thunder and lightning as a child, but I eventually grew out of that and now I'm just appropriately cautious and far more wary of the damage that they can cause to property.  Fortunately, I've generally  managed to avoid all of the associated perils brought by the storms, though one roared through in the late 1990s that did some damage in the region and I lost a lovely old cherry tree at my former farm. It it took out a section of paddock fencing, but it wasn't anything more significant than that. (The horses were in the barn at the time, and they were safe and sound, but fairly awed the next day by the tree in their paddock that wasn't there before!) Thanks to help from friends (and a homeowners insurance claim), it was cut up, the fence was repaired, and the remnants of that tree made for some very nice firewood a year later, though, too.

It's always a relief when these sudden, torrential storms pass and things calm down and the sun comes out. Usually, the late afternoon or early evening light is gorgeous, and typically provides a lovely rainbow. We're not located in as "scary" an area as some parts of the country that are in "Tornado Alley" in the Midwest, nor are we subjected to the challenges of hurricane season in coastal areas, but our summer storms can be doozies, regardless, and the occasional tornado has been sighted. A few have touched down, and some have carved a visible path, so they're not totally unheard of, but they are fairly rare compared to other regions of the country. It's a good thing. We have enough to deal with in winter with snow and occasional blizzards, we certainly don't need repeated battering by severe summer storms and damaging weather.

The recent scorching heat and humidity always makes me want to avoid cooking over a hot stove - no cook top or oven activity to compound the already super-high temperatures outside. It's just too much and keeping the house cooler rather than warmer is always my goal during these hot sieges. I look for things that are cold or at least cooling in nature - salads and chilled soups. I've done some really super versions of gazpacho lately, and a chilled cucumber soup with plain Greek yogurt, a dollop of sour cream and dill from the late Irma Rombauer's classic "Joy of Cooking" - no serious kitchen should be without that book in its library. I've had mine for decades.

Tonight, it wasn't hot for a change, so I made another somewhat old-school favorite for dinner: shrimp with a fresh tomato sauce with crumbled feta cheese and another dollop of basil pesto (pictured below). The shrimp can be sauteed quickly (as I did this time) in a bit of extra virgin olive oil, with some minced roasted garlic (my own home-made version), but the fresh tomato sauce is always a bit more flavorful if made a day in advance, so the flavors have some time to "mature" in the refrigerator before re-heating for the sauce. I don't really have a recipe for this dish, since it's pretty basic and easy to prepare, like most the cooking I do these days (after the same aforementioned decades). Cooking is fairly instinctive for me at this point, rather than informed by formal recipes, though I might consult one of my cookbooks or options found online, if needed, to be sure I have a good idea of the ingredients and method involved if I'm not certain. I'm not one who adheres religiously to recipes, but I will be a bit more disciplined if it's a baked item that I haven't prepared before or tackled very often.      

Hope you're staying cool this summer and finding great recipes to embrace again or to try for the first time.

PS: For those following, you'll notice that I've changed the blog's header image and the font colors again. It might be contrary to the tenets of good blog design, but, as a creative person, I like to have the header reflect the season, much as I like to have my home and environment reflect that, as well. Since we're in mid-summer at the moment, I thought a garden shot, based on the one shown in the text but cropped and enhanced with a watercolor effect app on my phone gives it a more impressionistic feel. Stay tuned as the header images evolve through the year in concert with the changing seasons. Cheers!

July 4, 2019

Happy Fourth!

Happy Fourth of July! How did it get to be July already? This year is flying by!

I'm sure I've shared Mr. and Ms. Patriotic Bunny in the past, but this time I decided to have them flank my blue and white Chinese porcelain pitcher at the center of my mantel. I filled the pitcher with red roses and white carnations, so I didn't have to look for blue flowers. I think this is much nicer as it's hard to find really lovely blue flowers that are attractive and hold up well.

I "adopted" Mr. and Ms. Bunny about 20 years ago when I attended a July 4th celebration along the Erie Canal, due east of Syracuse in central New York. There was a craft fair that accompanied the celebration in Chittenango, New York (where renowned author L. Frank Baum lived and wrote that amazing tale of Dorothy from Kansas and the Wizard of Oz), which is where I found this delightful pair and I still enjoy them every year when July rolls around.

Chittenango Landing is home to a wonderful canal boat museum at the site of a historic boat yard and dry docks to service the travelers on the canal. Among the special features I recall was a historic canal boat that was being carefully preserved underwater and was visible from the surface. Any effort to lift it from the waters threatened to damage the boat and potentially hasten its deterioration if exposed to air, so it was decided to leave the boat where it rested to protect it where it remained submerged.

It was a time when I didn't mind "working" on July 4th as it was a lovely day and I experienced a wonderful local canal attraction that I hadn't previously visited. If you haven't seen this region of upstate New York, it's well worth a visit to drive on local routes along the Erie Canal between Waterford, just north of Albany, and Tonawanda, just west of Buffalo where the Erie still flows. It's not the original Erie, as it has been enlarged twice since its original 1825 route, the last time 100+ years ago in 1917, and the eastern segment now incorporates river sections that have been "canalized" with locks and dams to make them navigable for boats and paddle craft up to a maximum of about 40 feet wide by 300 feet long. Yes, you can still navigate the entire length of the Erie Canal "from Albany to Buffalo", as the old folk song describes, and many do. You can even rent a real "narrow boat" that you can captain yourself for a multi-day excursion of your own design along the canal.
To be honest, it's as fascinating and rewarding as any European cruise and it's right here in the USA - if you live here, you don't need a passport to get there and enjoy it!

Here are some photos I took a few weeks ago at Erie Canal Lock 2 Park, at the eastern terminus of the Erie Canal in Waterford. The lock is on the right with the view east to the Hudson River where it meets the Erie and just north of the Hudson's intersection with the Mohawk River. 

Enjoy your Fourth of July holiday and celebrate the many freedoms we are privileged to have living in these great United States of America, thanks to the founding fathers of our country and the many men and women who have continued to protect and defend the rights that were so hard won back in 1776. 

June 20, 2019

Bon Voyage, Spring - Hello, Summer!

It continues to amaze me how fast the time passes lately, but here we are, on the final day of what was a fairly wet spring. It seems, lately, like every week the forecast is for five days of rain and two days of sun...if we're lucky. Fortunately, for the past two weeks, that sunshine has managed to appear for most of the weekends, so that's a good thing for those who don't have to report to work somewhere and be stuck indoors during this glorious late spring weather.

Still, it feels like we really haven't gotten the best that spring usually has to offer...warming temperatures, but not too hot, and cool breezes. It's been a mixed bag of cold, warm, warmer and a little bit of hot and humid. I don't recall humidity like that here in the "Great Northeast" until mid-summer, usually late July and August, but it has been visiting lately with the warmer temperatures and the rainy weather. I'd say it's strange, but with what has been happening with weather generally around the globe, I won't speculate as to the cause. Draw your own conclusions, but please don't dismiss the scientists and meteorologists.

All of that said, the excess of rain this spring has been very helpful in my efforts to remedy what previously was a long neglected lawn at my home. Previous occupants were transient over the 30 years of my home's existence. (I've been here for 5 1/2 years.) This was the year that I have made a commitment to addressing what was threatening to become a patch of sandy soil rather than a nice, lush patch of grass. It's not a huge lawn area, and easily maintained, but prior owners didn't seem to care. This spring, I fertilized the lawn, and have been tossing seed down systematically since April in the areas in most desperate need of attention. It's getting a bit late now to expect quick germination, so I'll scale back until mid-autumn, but I've been very pleased with the areas where I concentrated and the new grass has emerged well and seems to be thriving. I've also watered where needed, even though we've had so much rain. Those first few days of seeding are so crucial to keep them moist so they'll germinate and grow well. It's a slow process, but so gratifying when the bright green shoots pop up and fill in the spotty areas. I have more work to do later this year, but am keeping at it to keep things going in the right direction.

I've also got some flowers and herbs growing from small nursery plants and from seed, along with my usual flower box of leaf lettuces and a pot of radishes...all appear to be doing well. I've had other indoor projects to tackle this year, so am not spending too much time on gardening, but have relied on the easiest plant choices that have worked well in the past.

I also retrieved from storage my wood outdoor chairs and settee (in photo above). They've seen a bit of wear over the years, but with a bit of tapping with my mallet and wood glue to put them back into place, they are tightening up well again and make a nice area in the shady corner of my yard - a relaxing place to sit and enjoy a cooling glass of iced tea!

Here's to a pleasant (and hopefully a little bit drier) summer here and wherever you are (if you don't need the rain). Do make an effort get out and enjoy the balmy, beautiful outdoors as much as you can, as the chill of fall and winter will return soon enough to remind us that Mother Earth always needs a rest from her spring and summer labors in providing us the beautiful trees, fields and meadows, flowers, plants and bountiful produce.  

May 22, 2019

When you need a good, all-around handyman, but... one is around (or affordable), you just draw on all your home-ownership experience, life skills and ingenuity to tackle and master the tasks at hand. It has been a long while since I posted anything about home maintenance/improvement projects, but I have four (!) fun ones to share - the first one from a while ago, another one a few months ago, a third more recently, and the last I tackled just today - and I'm pretty pleased with all four of them.

The oldest project is one that I mentioned about a year or so ago. It was a lighting project - a nice iron chandelier that I'd found by accident at my local Habitat ReStore. I wasn't really looking, because I've had some hanging fixtures in storage that I thought would be appropriate for my kitchen dining area, but I wasn't sure the scale would work for this house. Then, I came across this small chandelier that had just the right features. It was a bit grungy and dark, pewter-like grey - not my preference for this space - so I re-painted the chandelier a nice, dark brown (oil-rubbed bronze) with spray paint in a smooth satin finish.

It was just the thing to install in place of a massive, horribly rococo, crystal and brass chandelier that was already installed when I moved into my home 5 1/2 years ago. It was, however, woefully both seriously oversized and wildly out of place for my fairly simple and comfortable decorating style. All I could think was "Why?"...or, more accurately, "What in the [heck] were they thinking???" Honestly. Why would someone think this was an appropriate lighting choice for a dining area in a kitchen that was a very far cry from a grand ballroom?! It does boggle the mind sometimes, but I knew instantly that the grotesque crystal-and-bronze monstrosity had to go and it would just be a matter of time before I found a fixture with the right style (simple with clean, classic lines), the right scale - not too large, but large enough to have some presence - and, most importantly, had the right (read: seriously low) price.

The one I found to replace it - a modestly sized, five-armed, iron chandelier - had all the right features and, best of all, had a ridiculous $16 price tag - win, win, win! I knew it just needed a good cleaning and a tiny bit of love in the form of some spray paint and some nice, natural linen shades (and a newly installed dimmer switch on the wall nearby) to give it new life in my kitchen dining area below, which I really use as more of a prep area as I do have a more formal dining space nearby.

The second project was another lighting coup for my kitchen ceiling. Another oddly inappropriate hanging fixture also had been installed there by previous occupants of my home - it was a very grimy, and I do mean grimy, leaded slag glass "faux Tiffany" fixture. It always looked like the glass panels were a sort of dark yellow/tan ochre color with bronze trim, in a sort of drop-tulip shape. It had a plain, bare light bulb and it was so ugly that I literally never used it. It was situated in the middle of the ceiling between my range and sink - a key location in my work area, but I had lighting over both the sink and the range, respectively, so I didn't really need this ceiling fixture, and I certainly didn't want a pendant light hanging directly over the floor area.

My feeling about functional kitchen ceiling fixtures is that they really need to be flush-mounted to the ceiling and be enclosed, so no bugs or other flying critters like flies, etc. can accumulate inside them. The good news was that I'd occasionally come across brand new and attractive, but fairly basic, fixtures in their original boxes at clearance prices - essentially for peanuts, so I'd buy them not necessarily having an immediate use for them, but I knew that I probably would at some point.

Now, this grimy slag glass hanging light was taking up space and continually collecting more grime, between the steam from the hot water in the sink and the steam and grease from cooking on the range. There was no escape from the environment for this hanging pendant fixture and it really needed to go and be replaced by something flush with the ceiling with a covered bulb. I'm not sure why I didn't remove it instantly when I first moved in, it was that bad.

To see just how awful and grimy this fixture was, here are two views of the shade of its slag glass shade (bulb and socket removed) - the photos show the areas of the shade that I cleaned after I took it down (the areas that are at the bottom and right) and the not-yet-cleaned sections on the left that were the original, frighteningly grimy color. Quite the contrast! I'm sure it had been hanging accumulating this grime for years, and maybe decades. After I spent some time carefully cleaning each section it certianly was transformed, but I still didn't like it very much - it's just not my taste at all. And remember I noted that it had appeared to be a darker golden brown/ochre color - well, actually, there was so much grime on it that cleaning it eventually revealed its lighter, more creamy marbled color. Who knew? Certainly not me. I don't plan to use it, but I will pass it on to someone who will enjoy it much more than I ever would.


Fortunately, I already had in storage a nice, new enclosed ceiling fixture that I'd bought a few years ago - also with an oil-rubbed bronze color finish (though it certainly wasn't bronze) that had a nice, simple ribbed, frosted glass cover to keep out any flies and other flying insects that dared to invade my kitchen work area. I don't remember what I paid for it, but I'm sure it was less than $20 and it might even have been less than $10, but it was just what I needed for the ceiling in my kitchen work area. It's obviously builder grade, but not screaming bright, shiny brass, and not a very grungy old hanging glass pendant, for sure, and it's attractive enough (which is important to me) and, most of all, very functional.

So the challenge for me, which really wasn't much of a challenge, was to remove and replace the existing ceiling fixtures. While I undertook their replacement about a year or so apart, the task was essentially the same and not complicated - turn off the power to the fixture at the circuit breaker, remove the old fixture and install the new one, hooking up the wiring and securing the fixture to the outlet box already installed in the ceiling. I've done this numerous times before in my previous homes, and since these were both fairly straightforward installations, I didn't hesitate to undertake replacing either of the old fixtures myself.

Here's the newly installed kitchen ceiling fixture...turned off (with the light from the left emanating from the flourescent fixture above my sink, shaded by a pretty yellow and red toile valance hung across the adjacent cabinets), and the lower view showing it turned on. It has just one 60-watt bulb, which is plenty bright enough, and the fixture is just the right size and style for this location. I'm so pleased with it - simple, basic, yet attractive and very functional.


The third project, which I tackled about a month ago, was an even easier one and didn't involve re-wiring a light fixture. I replaced all of the drawer and door pulls on my kitchen cabinets. What originally was there were fairly basic polished brass know, the ones that enjoyed their heyday back in the 1980s, but, thankfully, have evolved out of favor in recent years. 

Like the previous lighting fixture, these pulls were showing their age along with the grease/grime that tends to accumulate on smooth surfaces in a kitchen. When I first moved in, I removed them all and soaked them in warm water and literally scrubbed them clean as best I could with dish soap. Some cleaned up better than others, but I knew I didn't want to keep them long-term on the cabinets, so I didn't go crazy. 

I've had good luck finding very reasonably priced, but stylish pulls from time to time, and about a month ago, I decided to see if I could find some simple, but well designed replacement knobs to install in place of the brass ones. I was an art major in college, so I do care about aesthetics, but I also care about the feel of a piece, and I knew the brass ones really were the low-end grade of door/drawer pulls. I knew this because, when you go to grasp the knob to open a door or drawer, you can feel that the backside of the knob wasn't finished and didn't give one a nice feeling in your hand when grasped, where the better knobs had a smooth feel and are finished front and back, not just on the front. To me, that matters. I wanted something that felt solid, well made and smooth like the latter and not the former. Understandably, the more effort and material that it takes to make a better project, the more you're likely to have to pay for that, so I was looking for the most reasonably priced, but attractive and well made pulls that I could find.

I looked at the cabinet hardware selection at my local big box home centers and other retailers like Wal-Mart and Target, but I had a goal not only of finding pulls that were aesthetically pleasing, but also ones that were affordable. I needed 18 pulls and I didn't want to spend more than $1 per pull if I could help it, but that's easier said than done these days. Still, I found a very nice pull on eBay available in an array of finishes. I settled on brushed, oil rubbed bronze round ones (like my chandelier and my new ceiling fixture) that showed a hint of copper under the brown finish, and  were just $1 each for 25 pulls -- with free shipping to boot! My kind of deal, so I was happy to buy them and now I also have some extras if I decide to add cabinets on a nearby wall in the future. 

I'm not a huge fan of the golden oak cabinets in my kitchen, but at least the hinges on these are more of a brushed bronze and not screaming shiny brass, so I thought the oil-rubbed bronze pulls would both tone down the brass predecessors and would work fine with the existing door hinges. If I ever get around to replacing the cabinets (they're in dire need of an update, but they're deteriorating and not at all good quality, so not worth keeping or painting or refinishing, though I might repurpose a few of the decent ones in my garage), at least I'll have these pulls to put on any new ones cabinets and can get more pulls if needed.

Finally, my piece de resistance, I've now added simple plumbing to my skill set! My kitchen faucet, yet another item that was already installed in the house when I moved here and probably is the original faucet when the house was built 30+ years ago, began to corrode to the point that the surface of the faucet arm (the part that extends over the sink) literally sprang a tiny hole and was leaking water every time I turned it on. I couldn't fix the leak, so, as a stop-gap, I covered the corroded area with duct tape so water wouldn't spurt out in a fine spray until I could get the faucet replaced. 

I can fix a running or clogged toilet, and I've replaced the aerators on faucets, as needed, with no trouble, but that was the extent of my plumbing repertoire. Well, not any more...I now have added faucet replacement to my skill set! I decided the other day to go ahead purchase the faucet I wanted to replace the leaky one in my kitchen sink that clearly had reached the end of its useful life
Since moving to this home, I now have a dishwasher (that I don't use much), but there was no sprayer on my kitchen faucet. Having always had a sprayer at my previous kitchen sinks, I really wanted one again. While my stainless sink had a hole for a sprayer, it had a cover over that hole since the original faucet - a two-handled model, also not my preference - didn't have a sprayer. Well, now that I had mp choice to replace the faucet, I decided to get exactly what I wanted - a brushed stainless, single lever, low rise faucet with some style -- and a separate sprayer.

I'd previously had a nice Kohler faucet installed at my farm with an integrated sprayer, but I decided to go with a separate sprayer this time. I also decided I didn't want hiny chrome and I didn't think oil-rubbed bronze would work with my stainless sink, even though I'd chosen that finish for my other items. The sink is brushed stainless, so  I thought a brushed stainless faucet would be a better choice there, so that's what I got. I chose the Moen "Muirfield" model which has nice lines with the finish and sprayer that I prefer, and for less than $90. Perfect!

Originally, I'd thought I'd ask a friend to install it for me, but the more I read through the directions and reviewed the diagrams, the more I thought it really wasn't brain surgery to remove and replace the old faucet myself if I had the right tools. I have a good complement of various tools that I've acquired over my years of home ownerhip, so checking through the installation instructions yesterday, I was fairly sure I already had everything I'd need to do this installation myself.  

I started the project and it took me all of about 90 minutes to complete it. I shut off the water supply lines to the old facuet, and carefully removed the old fixture and installed the new faucet in its place. It was fairly straightforward and I'm very pleased with the new faucet -- and I saved some serious money in the process by doing it myself! Win-win!

I have more home maintenance projects to tackle this year, including installing a ceiling fan in my bedroom, where there currently is a simple ceiling light, but no fan. That will happen fairly soon, as I don't have central air conditioning in this house. It's finally feeling like spring, with summer just around the corner, so I'd like to get that project done before the temperatures rise to an uncomfortable level. I even went to a free education session on installing ceiling fans at one of the local home centers a month ago, so I might just tackle that one myself, too! Stay tuned!

April 19, 2019

Spring Has Sprung...Finally!

It's Good Friday of Easter week and Spring has finally arrived in the Northeast, at least in this corner of upstate New York...and none too soon! It was a fairly snowy and protracted winter, but, despite the official arrival of Spring in late March, in a matter of a few days (including a balmy warm one in the mid-70s two weeks earlier), the snow that had literally lightly covered the landscape in a last gasp snowstorm quickly melted away, and the large piles of accumulated snow that had persisted all winter gradually diminished and disappeared over the following few days.

Now that we are well into April, the likelihood of any further snows are remote, although we all know that it's not safe to put out tender plants before Memorial Day, when any chance of a freeze also is well past. We're looking ahead to a typical spate of nonstop "April showers" days (week-plus, actually), but the daytime temperatures finally are expected in the 60s and overnights are likely remaining above 40. It's all good, despite the rains, which I can use as some rough spots in my lawn need some serious re-seeding. I'm glad to have Mother Nature's help with that this weekend and next week.

The grass, at least, is finally starting to green up a bit, but it's still early for us to see leaves on the trees's just that much colder than most of the region south of New York, so it's fairly normal for our landscape to lag behind until early May, but then every thing suddenly explodes, from the forsythia to the magnolias to the apple blossoms and honeysuckle.

I have plenty of plants waiting to go outside (pretty geraniums in a pale pink and a bright fuchsia that I've wintered over for two years now - amazing!), so I'm trying to limit bringing any more plants into the house for lack of room in a bright, light area for them, but I couldn't resist a small pot of pansies (above) a week or so ago. I just needed that sweet reminder that life does begin again each spring and to embrace this season of renewal.

In late February, came across this decorative bunny and speckled egg "Happy Spring" wall plaque with other phrases in French (which I'd studied since 3rd Grade and all through school) at a local thrift store. I don't usually go for mass-produced art (having been an art major in college), but something about this piece spoke to me and decided I needed to bring it home and I'm glad to have it as a reminder to celebrate the beauty and renewal that is Spring, the Easter season and the mild sunny days that finally have started to arrive.

If you celebrate Easter or Passover, have a lovely holiday, and, if those aren't your focus, enjoy the season's flowers and welcome the arrival of Spring wherever you are!