Sorry for the lack of posts this month, but I've been VERY busy writing and gardening.
Warning: This is a long post. You may want to read it in installments, as it may be a week or so before I post again.While I’ve been busy working on The Mystery Project, my garden has slowly progressed from early- spring flowers to mid-spring blooms.
That's a Peony 'Gay Paree' (below)
Next to daffodils, I love iris best. Nola's garden is a great source for them. Here are a few of my favorites. Iris 'Patty's Plum' (below) reblooms several times each summer.
White and purple 'Temple Song' and dark 'Sambuca' (below)
'Gypsy Romance' (below)
Two Toned 'Chartres' (below)...
and apricot 'Beverly Sills'...
and a mystery yellow one.
Looking back at my last few posts, I realized that I forgot to mention…
That I finished the last 4 chapters of the Second Section of The Mystery Project at the end of April. Hip, hip, hooray!
There was little time to celebrate, however, just enough time to stop and smell the tree peonies (above) and wisteria (below.) I immediately started work on the Third Section of the book.
My first task was to establish a “voice” for this final section of the book. And, that’s what I’ve been up to day and night for three solid weeks. It's been slow going...
It took more back and forth (quotes or no quotes, first person or third, etc.) e-mails and calls with all parties involved than you would ever imagine. Over 250, but who’s counting?
Anyhow, judging by this e-mail from the publisher, I’ve nailed it.
“The text for these sample rooms is perfect. Truly. I have nothing to add. The voice is personal and warm. The information is the right blend of fashion reference with solid decorating information. There is no need to tell more than this in terms of the person living in the room. I like the way you sometimes give the person’s full name, sometimes just give the first name, and sometimes no name is given and instead you describe who lives in the space. This has the right touch. I am so excited for how this is turning out!”
Time to celebrate? No way! Even though six chapters are now done, there are another 17 to go!
Unlike the past two weekends, this weekend I wasn’t glued to my computer. Instead, I was the featured guest at Heather Hill Garden’s annual Herb Festival.
Heather Hill is a small family owned nursery not far from where I live. I did a story about Heather Hill for an issue of Flower Gardens magazine not long after I moved to Virginia.
The owner, Bonnie, and I both had young boys and we became good friends. Bonnie's older son, Ben, took all of the photos in the "Herbs" section.A talented graphic designer and computer art student, Ben is off to college in this Fall. Time flies.
This year’s theme is a British tea party. Guests sampled herbed mustards (honey mint, tarragon Dijon, rosemary and basil whole grain), Victorian lavender scones, Cheesy herb puffs, and Herbed spinach tea bread (recipe below).
Beverages included chocolate mint teas and lavender/tarragon lemonade.
I shared my favorite herbal recipes and horticultural expertise. Visitors are always amazed how easy it is to improve any recipe by adding appropriate herbs.Lisa, who works at Heather Hill, demonstrated planting a strawberry pot with herbs.The weather was perfect, and a good time was had by all.
SPINACH SWEET BREAD
This tea bread was served at a luncheon at Caprilands Herb Farms in Connecticut. It’s based on a medieval recipe from 13th century Rome. I’ve been baking it for over 20 years and it always gets rave reviews. Just don't anyone it's made with spinach before they taste it!
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons finely crumbled mixed herbs (such as parsley, thyme, rosemary, mint, lemon verbena)
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 cups chopped fresh spinach (if frozen, drain well)
Butter for greasing pans
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Using a wooden spoon or hand-held mix all dry ingredients, then add oil, eggs and spinach. Beat until well blended. Lightly grease one loaf pan or two half-size loaf pans with butter and pour in batter. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 30 minutes or until edges are just starting to brown and a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from pan and let cool. Freezes well.
Makes one regular size loaf or two small ones.
*** BLOG DU JOUR***
A Fanciful Twist is a treasure trove of interesting treasures. Here's how the author Vanessa describes herself: "I feel like a strange and curiously artistic woman from the 1800's trapped in the body of a thirty year old girl living in a bizarre Arizona." Visiting her is a real treat.