Hi girls, here’s a bit o’ Musica for you. We are here waiting for our next rainstorm, the sky has been getting darker all day. It’s been raining something like every four days and it’s so green here that when the sun comes through the trees it reflects light from the moving leaves and dapples the living room walls with bright greenish splotches that ripple and sparkle like a swimming pool. June in all its glory. I’ve been in my studio, happy as a clam, painting and making new art . . . putting pen and brush to paper.
Painting a few new little things. It’s been so long since I sent out a WILLARD I wanted to paint bits of new art to decorate my next one. That’s my project very soon, to write us a new newsletter! (If by any chance you are not signed up to get my newsletter, which is free from me to you, or would like to know why we call it WILLARD, or would like to sign up a friend ~ you can click on that link and all questions will be answered on our sign-up page.)
I’m keeping busy, waiting for the first copies of A Fine Romance to arrive from the printer so we can make our final arrangements for book signings. Back in February we had a drawing for one of the pre-publication copies — remember? Gail Matheson out in California was our winner? Well, her book should be here any day now! She could not possibly be more excited about it than me! In only a few more months they’ll all come in. In the meantime, I wait patiently, I work and garden, hang clothes out to dry on the sunny days, try to eat healthy, read, cuddle under a blanket in the rain, paint, and take long walks with Joe.
It’s summer and for the most part the sun is shining, the bees are buzzing, flutter-bys are skimming the tops of everything . . .
. . . hydrangeas are beginning to bloom under the bird feeders outside our kitchen window.
In fact there are lots of things in bloom — all my little vases are filled . . .
. . . and spotted here and there around the house. That’s my first “Just Joey” rose this year mixed with purple catmint (nepeta). I had to give Jack and Girl a tray full of nepeta so they would leave this alone. It’s working. They’re getting enough of it and aren’t going after my vases. (Yet.) We’re doing all the summer things as if they were firsts . . . it seems so long and it really is — at this time last year we weren’t even here — we were in England. We missed our Martha’s Vineyard May and June completely. I put a big glass pitcher of water in the sun yesterday — for sun tea, which I’m drinking now, mixed with a little lemonade for sweetness . . .
Because cold weather takes up a good portion of our year ~ from late September to late May, hot chocolate and cups of tea rule the day. The very idea of doing this again is exciting — a gift! Our refrigerator is kind of a dream-come-true right now. Not only does it have sun tea in it, but . . .
It’s got ice cold Gazpacho! In fact I made an extra batch for a girlfriend who broke the wrist of her dominant hand and now has one of the biggest old-fashioned, heavy, plaster casts in the history of broken wrists on her arm (above her elbow, covering most of her fingers). She can’t cut food, can’t open wine (just when she needs it most), or twist off jar lids, can’t do dishes, can’t drive, can’t write, can only peck on the key board. Poor Baby. So we took her a pitcher full of Gazpacho and had a nice visit sitting on the big ole square screened-in porch of her farmhouse, with the sky-blue painted ceiling, on the wrought iron furniture with the curlicues and the comfy cushions that had belonged to her parents, drinking wine, listening to insects skimming the grass and glinting in the sun, watching red-winged blackbirds and cardinals at her feeders while smelling the salt air and the corn growing in the sun-dappled field at the back of her property. We did this until the stars came out. She thinks we did her a favor, we think she did us one.
In case I didn’t convince everyone the other day of how amazingly delicious this soup is, I thought I’d show you how easy it is to make. You start by putting a cup and a quarter of chilled tomato juice into a blender.
To that you add one tomato and half of a peeled cucumber, both roughly chopped . . .
Then add vinegar, oil, a little sugar (unless you have tomatoes from your garden, then you really don’t need sugar) and cayenne . . . (I’ll put the recipe at the end). This soup makes you feel like you’ve been zinged with good healthy things . . .
Blend well until smooth . . . pour blended ingredients into a large container or pitcher…
. . . then add another 2 1/2 c. tomato juice to the mixture . . .
Chop fresh vegetables into bite-sized pieces, cucumber, celery, red onion, zucchini, tomato and green pepper . . . pieces small enough so that when you’re eating it, several can fit on a spoon at the same time.
And add them to the tomato mixture . . .
Put in some green onion tops (scallions) — or chives from your garden if you have them. Stir it all up good . . . then, a bit more of your own special brand of spice . . .
Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, and chill it all well . . .
I added chunks of cooked shrimp … and garnished it with a little sour cream and a fresh chive flower . . . but it’s good just plain. More than good.
The 1/4 tsp. of cayenne I mentioned earlier is my new addition to this recipe. It’s optional, but it gives the nicest little kick, just a little, not too much. Stir it in at any time, or when you’re about to start the blender. I also mix the red wine vinegar, half and half, with good balsamic vinegar. But it’s good no matter what.
It’s that wonderful time of year when it’s easy to fill our fridges with the best produce — crisp and crunchy vegetables fresh from the farmer’s market and brimming with vitamins. And it’s almost time for my favorite of all . . .
Watermelon! Can’t wait! I love it cut up on top of plain yogurt with a little bit of our homemade granola. Right now, besides the tea and the Gazpacho, our fridge is heaven — chock full of pop-in-your-mouth seasonal goodness — we have organic red grapes, a big bowlful of ice-cold pink grapefruit and orange segments drowning in their own citrusy juice, and a bowl of crunchy homemade coleslaw. YUM! And these . . .
Is this not a pure miracle? That compost and water and sun produces these in our very own garden? And they are nothing like the ones we get in our local markets, which are expensive, sadly juiceless, and yet, every year, we are lured by the rosy redness of them believing them to be the food of the gods. No more, we cannot be lured, it is no longer necessary. We have our own strawberry patch.
Which is a miracle because we didn’t plant one . . .
See the rim of the terra cotta pot there? That’s a strawberry pot. Two years ago I planted a few plants in it. And remember how I suggested that you grow things that like living in your area? Well, apparently strawberries love this island! Who knew? They jumped the rim of the pot last year, and this year they’ve spread over half my picket fence garden! Don’t you just love nature? Isn’t she amazing? It’s so nice to be able to give away organic juicy fresh-picked strawberries to our friends! Strawberry Fields Forever!
A couple more things before I go . . . first off, on the SUMMER Banners: We did sell out of them, but for you that have been asking, I made a special request and a few more will be coming to our web store in the next couple of weeks.
If you wanted one and weren’t able to get it in time, this will be your chance.
Also, remember the Cupcake Banner Janie sent me for my birthday? In that ↑ photo? The perfect little birthday present is what I thought when I opened it — just adorable. I asked her to make some more for us. They come with their own little envelope just like the Summer Banners did — and with a card that you can sign to your sister, mom, daughter, best friend or grammie. You will see the Cupcake Birthday Banners in our web store today. I also asked Kellee if she could make us some Do-it-Yourself Patriotic Banners . . . and she said, “SURE, I can!” (She is a big believer in that fantastic word “Yes” — another reason I love her so much!)
She sent me one of the kits so I could put the banners together myself . . . it was easy and fast ~ my two favorite things in kit production. Each kit comes with enough red and white string to make two sizes of banner (both included) . . . the smaller one, the one on the calendar with the Cupcakes above (which you could also string between two-chopsticks as a cake-topper if you wanted) . . . and this larger one on my stove . . . ↓
It’s the little things in life! Thank you Kellee and Janie! Bye girls, I have to bring the clothes in before the rain starts ~ have a wonderful day! XOXO