BIRTHDAY GRATITUDE ♪

Today is my day for B I R T H D A Y   G R A T I T U D E  and we’ll start with my favorite song ever in the history of the world . . .  MUSICA Good Morning Crocus,  Good Morning Daffodils, Hello Tulips,  Hi there Miss Hyacinth! Hello fresh spring air,  you smell so good!  Hello Sunshine ~ Hello GIRLFRIENDS!  

happy april!

Spring!

T O M O R R O W   I S   M Y

birthday

wishes

So many things  to be grateful for and I thought today would be a really good day to talk about them.

my favoriteLet me first say that if I put every one of my blessings in this post, reading it would become a full time job because they pretty much go to the moon.  But I have to start somewhere!  My favorite magazines have arrived and for my own birthday present to me, I’m taking them to lunch this week.  Me and them, alone, at a corner table, with a knife to hold them open so I can eat Sesame Noodles and read at the same time.  One of my most favorite luxuries, reading all alone in restaurants (a sidewalk cafe on the Champs Elysees?  Oui!)

JackAnd him, my shadow, he’s more than a luxury, he is my must-have.  And the very best present I could ask for, he and Girl have been playing this last week, chasing each other up and down the stairs, you can hear their feet running back and forth upstairs, ambushing each other, jumping off the beds.  It’s wonderful!  So good for Girl and just what I was hoping for her when I brought Jack home.  I hope it lasts. Jack is 2 1/2 years old and this is a first!

sunrisesSpring has come to Martha’s Vineyard!  The early morning light is exquisite.  Pristine, fresh, clean, and a miracle if ever I saw one. Especially after this winter!

forsythiaI have huge amounts of gratitude for Mrs Bowditch who lived in our house from 1949 until 1980 and was so good about planting for spring bloom. I got to meet her once.  She’s been my inspiration.I hope she knows I’m taking good care of her house for her.

come and get your happinessOur daffodils are in bloom.  Thank you!

Nature!

the walk

We have nature’s address, it’s out through the woods along a dirt path that takes us here . . . no leaves on the trees yet, but the sun is lovely and the breeze smells wonderful, and you can hear the waves.

crocus

Crocus! Pure miracles.  First there is snow and then there are crocus!

gifts

I’m grateful for talented Kellee who made me this kitty last year. xoxo

kids say the darndest things

And for little children who write me beautiful letters with borders.  Thank you Little Children! xoxo

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diaries

I’m grateful for these, my own research department, my diaries . . . Yes, I know I’ve been MIA from our dear blog, and I’ve missed you!  But every time I’ve tried to do an update (and I have tried!), I think “Oh, just let me add this one more little thing to my new book and THEN I’ll go do a new post” . . . that’s when I fall into “the zone” and have to say help I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.  But no one comes, so what can I do?

research!

I can’t save myself, and honestly, I really don’t want to.  I like it in there.  I’m driven in the best possible way.  I wake up and RUN to my paper and pen before all my morning fresh-from-dreamland thoughts disappear.  I have 418 pages of our new book written, Girlfriends.  Of course, probably 50% of it is what English people would call “a crapjob” ~ but that’s OK, first I have to get the whole entire thing down on paper, and we’ll worry about crap removal later on.  I promise, it will be distilled, only the juicy bits will be left when I get done.  It’s almost my birthday and  I feel so grateful to have this passion.

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Daddio and Joey-0

And then this . . . digging through my photos, I found this one.   I am SO grateful for these two cutie-pot-pie Leos in my life, the Blog Daddy, John Patrick Stewart Jr. (hi Dad!) and my partner in crime, Joseph Buckminster Hall.  

little family

And I’m so grateful I was ever a part of this group of little people. ♥    

pansies

Gladys Taber

I love sharing my birthday with Gladys Taber.  I love being born on the same day as someone who was a light to the world. 

Stillmeadow

I’m excited that Joe and I will be at the Friends of Gladys Taber meeting in Connecticut in June — I’ll be speaking and signing A Fine Romance and we get to tour her house Stillmeadow for the very first time!

birdandsign

High school

And right after that, I come home to this . . . these are my high school girlfriends (last fall in California) . . . and they are ALL coming to stay in my house for four days in June! I’m grateful I have this to look forward to!  We have stories, we laugh, we have fun!  They are like sisters to me.  I have some house fluffing to do!  (And with my “passion” in full bloom plus old man winter to sweep out the door, this house needs it! :-)

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Blog

I’m thankful for this, because this means YOU. 

girlfriendsCounting the blessings of my last year, one of the best of all was going out to meet so many of our Girlfriends.  Look how cute Lucy and Ethel are!  I’m telling you, this was a ball!

flowers

in CAA Fine Romance was such a blessing ~ it took me here  (both of those horse pictures are still on the door of my studio, one from Jessie and one from Sydney) . . . and it took us all here   To Beatrix Potter’s house in the Lake District.  M A G I C A L , I almost can’t believe we were there.

lambs-art

A fine romance at Castle CottageAnd tomorrow, on my actual birthday, I get to go to lunch with my best girlfriends here on Martha’s Vineyard ~ flowermaking me grateful for a Spring Birthday ~ the perfect excuse for a girlfriend lunch.   And then we’re all going to the nursery together!  Our nurseries close in the winter, so this will be a treat, our first visit this year!  Sometimes my California girlfriends wonder why I would want to live in a place that has such a cold winter, and this is part of the reason.  It’s  thrilling to go to the nursery for the first time, seeing the first flowers, smelling the warm sun on grass.  It’s a miracle every year.  The more miracles, the better. 

To remember on your Birthday

And this weekend, I’m going to write us a new Willard!  Oh yeah, I think you deserve a birthday present too . . .  make sure your addresses are all up to date.  It won’t go out for about a week and a half, I’ll be sure to let you know.

magicOne more wish, my birthday wish for you is that you go through your days gracefully growing more beautiful and wise, never missing a sunset or the opportunity to count your blessings, I hope that’s how we stay forever young. xoxo Love you . . . Wham, *❊ BAM,✱ whoosh,✶* sparkles *♫*✱•*¨*•.☆.♪•*¨❋**••*¨ ✱*•★.* ♪* ✱ •*¨✸*•.★.♫•*¨☆✱*•*♥. . .  feel that?

aint life grand

D O N ‘ T    F O R G E T    T O 

The little things in life SB

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QUINOA SALAD

I thought I’d give you the recipe for the Quinoa Salad I took to TGIF  the other night.  It was so good ~ my girlfriends LOVE Asian food and there’s always lots of yummy Asian appetizers so I thought I’d make a salad to go with them. ♥MUSICA♥

Quinoa

Have you used quinoa? (It’s pronounced keen-wa.)  If not, you are in for a treat and a world of wonderful new healthy salads!

helpful tips . . . and some interesting things you might like to know. First off, quinoa is not a grain, it’s a seed, and considered gluten-free (for those with celiac disease you might like to read this).

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quinoa And it’s so good for you!  Those little seeds (related to spinach) are an excellent source of protein, it’s a great source of fiber, and it has 700% more iron than white rice.  Quinoa has an interesting texture which means it goes with almost any savory thing you serve; and there are many ways to flavor it.  If you can’t find it at your market, try the health food store, or try Bob’s Red Mill.

quinoa salad

This is the Quinoa Salad that’s on page 84 of Girlfriends Forever ~ it has roasted peanuts, ginger and lime.  With the use of different herbs, the salad could be Asian style, Mexican style, you could make it with fruit and cinnamon, with shrimp or fish, or almost anything you would like.

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quinoa salad

For my recipe, you cook 2 c. of quinoa in 3 c. water for about 10 min. and pour it into a strainer.  In a large bowl you mix together all the rest of the ingredients: rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, fresh ginger . . .

quinoa

. . . the zest and juice of two limes (don’t worry, I’ll put the recipe at the end) and soy sauce . . .

making quinoa salad

. . . minced green onions and chopped celery . . .

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A little salt and pepper

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quinoa salad

 Stir it all together with sliced water chestnuts and coarsely-chopped, dry roasted peanuts . . .

quinoa salad

. . . crunchy fresh snow peas and sweet currants . . .

quinoa salad

. . . and voila!  I put it in my candlewick bowl, because it’ll reflect light . . . and took it to Jaime’s house.  We ate ourselves silly, caught up, had a group hug and promised to love each other forever; it couldn’t have been nicer.

friends

QUINOA SALAD WITH PEANUTS, GINGER & LIME

  • 2 c. quinoa, rinsed
  • 4 1/2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • zest & juice of 2 juicy limes
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. salt.
  • 1 c. snow peas, trimmed and halved
  • 3/4 c. celery, chopped
  • 3/4 c. water chestnuts, halved
  • 5 green onions (w/ green part too) thinly sliced
  • 1/2 c. currants
  • 1/3 dry-roasted unsalted peanuts, coarsely chopped
  • a few good grinds of black pepper to taste
  • If you’d like chopped herbs ~ mint, cilantro, and basil, together or separately work great with this salad.

Rinse 2c. quinoa under running water in a fine mesh sieve.  Bring 3c. water to boil in saucepan.  Add quinoa, bring it back to boil, reduce to simmer, cover and cook 10 min.  Strain and set aside.  Meanwhile, in large bowl, mix together all other ingredients.  Add drained quinoa, herbs too if you like, stir well and serve. Good cold, hot, or room temp.  Enjoy, you arteests!

cooking-is-an-art

Here’s our new thing . . . these birds just came into the studio.  Are they cute or what?

cute!

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They’re finely detailed metal, very thin, and all have bases you can put screws into so you can secure them to fence posts, window sills, ledges,  porch rails, where ever you’d like.  Kellee will be putting them up today (I think) . . .

new birds

Over the years, here and there, I’ve found a few narrow-based things for the tiny ledge over my fireplace, and I just found three more!

bird ornament

. . . and, in case you don’t have a ledge or a fence post, we have an ornament you can hang from your window lock, a cupboard knob, from a nail that something else is on (remove the something else, hang the bird, replace the something else, allowing the bird to hang below). Hope you like them!

And now, for Pat in particular, a promise to be kept:  Lowely’s delicious recipe for

I R I S H    S O D A     B R E A D

Serve this crusty bread hot from the oven, smothered in butter and jam.

  • 3 2/3 c. (450g) all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2/3 c. dried cranberries (or raisins, or currants)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 2/3 c. (400ml) buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425º (220ºC/gas mark 7). Lightly dust a baking sheet with flour. Sift the flour, baking soda and salt into a large bowl.  Mix in sugar and dried cranberries.  In small bowl, beat egg with buttermilk.  Make a well in the flour and pour in all but 1/4 c. (50ml) of liquid.  Wash your hands and dry them. Grab the flour and liquid with outstretched fingers and keep doing that, moving your hand around the bowl in circles; add more buttermilk mixture if necessary, until it comes together.  Don’t knead; the dough should be soft, but not too wet or sticky.

Keeping the bread warm

Turn onto floured work surface and pat the dough into a round, about 2 1/2 inches (6cm) in height, and cut a deep cross in it, from one side of the loaf to the other.  Transfer to the baking sheet.  Bake for 10 min. at 425º, then reduce temp to 400ºF (200ºC/Gas mark 6) and bake for another 30 to 35 min, until the bread is golden, crusty, and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.  Cool on wire rack while you get the butter! Cut thick slices with a bread knife; wrap the bread in a dishtowel and serve it in a basket. 

It’s not very far from bread and water to tea and toast…

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tea

Have a wonderful day Girlfriends! XOXO

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