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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Bittersweet Perfection at the Lake

The last visit to the lake -- the one where we close it up for another season -- is always a bit bittersweet. This year was more so than usual. Our summer was cool and things kept me from being there in July, which is my favorite time (along with September).


And Rick couldn't be with me -- I had to take a couple days during the middle of the week. It was a little lonely without him, but when she wasn't a lump under the covers (which was most of the time) or gazing out the window, Lizzie was rather good company.



But what a week it was! Early color had hit and some of the trees felt as though they were on fire.


The weather was relatively warm -- low 70s. And in the mornings the lake was as still as glass. It never really got windy, anytime in the day. And the night sky was filled with stars.

 

Fungi popped up everywhere, like little fairy houses!



It seemed rather lonely -- empty lawn chairs, lone footprints.

 

But the reflections, the lazy ducks on the water all added up to sheer, meditative bliss.

 

I enjoyed a last visit to the farmer's market. All the fall produce was coming in and it was delicious!



I especially loved the honey crisp apples -- and I ended up with a pumpkin, too!



Fortunately, my cousin David came up to close his place, too. It was great to have one-on-one time with someone who has been a big part of my life for all its years. We went to a couple of great restaurants for dinner -- I liked the yard on this one!


On the last morning I took my 'last walk.' Down the road from me, the Hydrangea Queen lives. Her bushes are spectacular -- and the side of her house is nothing to sneeze at, either.



The light was perfect, whether it was in the woods or a field.



At Oak Grove, one of the rental lodges that has been there for decades, the white rockers sat still on the porch. Are they waiting for next summer, too?


I couldn't resist a selfie!


Wah Wah Soo is where my family had the original cottage, the one David and his sisters have now. In a few weeks, these trees will form golden arches over the road.

 

Red berries, reddish-yellow trees all mixed in with those just starting to change and others for whom it will be awhile.



I enjoyed a couple of visits with my favorite Lady of the Lake, Fran. Fran grew up at the lake with my mom and her stories enchant me and fill me with that family lore.


And then, it was back to the cottage. Pack up the car, bring in the furniture from outside, grab the extra clothes and art supplies, toss Lizzie in her carrier.


(And for those who asked -- here's how the copper boiler is looking at the lake!)


OK, it wasn't all perfect. There was the rather lengthy visit of the septic tank people when the toilet had issues. (Helpful hint -- when desperate, a dollar store bucket and a generous amount of kitty litter will take care of most basic needs in a pinch. The shee-wee would have worked, too.)


But that was small potatoes -- and the bill was a pleasant surprise. And as I left, I thought "What wonderful memories I'll have to carry me through the winter and into next year."


And really, who could ask for more?


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

On Martha, Homekeeping, Copper and Memories

I've always had a soft spot for the rich, warm tones of copper. I suspect I inherited the gene -- it was a favorite of my mom and when she died I also inherited her copper. Teakettles, mostly, a lovely candelabra, some plates, a leaky vase that holds umbrellas rather nicely. And with copper comes copper polishing!

 

My mom had it figured out. When a crowd surrounds, employ critical mass to help. Who else but my mom would have put all of us kids to work one day up at the lake polishing her copper? You might call it child labor. She would call it taking advantage of a good opportunity!

OK, maybe it was a rainy day, hence the lack of rebellion. Nonetheless, everyone seemed to get into it. (Well, my aunt observed and I got into taking the photos!


Of all the things I didn't have in copper that I really wanted, a copper boiler was one of them. I wanted it for the cottage to either set by the fire filled with wood or -- if it was too big for the spot -- to sit in the utility room next to the cat box filled with wood. We had made too many wet trips to the garage to bring in more wood on cold and rainy days. At least this way we could stock up.

So, when antique hunting with my friend Richard recently we came across one. It was $40 and Richard pointed out that the bottom seam wasn't good. He suggested asking if they had another and sure enough, another showed up at $23 -- with 20 percent off on top of that!


Not that it looked like copper. It looked more like zinc. And the handle was off (but easily replaced -- I don't plan to be moving it anyway). It was time to employ my copper polishing genes and see if I could shape it up a little.


I didn't have any copper polish but I did have Martha going for me. Long ago I remember her polishing copper using lemons and kosher salt. I'd tried this before on small pieces and it worked quite well. And, I had saved the lemons from yesterday's pesto just in case! (I put lemon juice in pesto. It rocks.)


So, there I was in my little sink with my big boiler and not enough lemons. I scrubbed and washed -- even used the Mr. Clean sponge now and then (not helpful, for once! and the scrubby end of a regular sponge. It took about two hours -- and it still needs more work but I had places to go, people to see, things to do. Here's the finished result! That one spot on one side is still pretty yucky but lots better than before!


Not bad! Here are my hints.
  • First, buy more lemons than you think you'll need -- you'll always use the leftovers and it takes more than you might imagine. The same for the kosher salt. I must have ended up using at least a cup.
  • Have plenty of paper towel on hand and a scrubby sponge will help, too.
  • You might want to wear gloves. I didn't. The yuck will come out of my nails someday. An apron is good, too.
  • If you have a spot bigger than the kitchen sink, use it. This isn't a tidy project.

The technique is simple -- wet the surface with the lemon, sprinkle over the salt and rub till the cows come home. Lather, rinse and repeat.


Have you tried other methods? I'm all ears! Any favorite polishes that bring out the glow but don't turn it into something gaudy? Share the tips!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Flying the Prayer Flag!

There's something about doing an art swap that motivates me. It gets me to work on schedule, I meet other bloggers and sometimes I even work outside my comfort zone!


 

Joanne's Prayer Flag swap fit into that last category in particular. Why? Because I don't sew and these had to be 4x6 vertical flags made from cloth with a space for "stringing" onto a cord or ribbon.


So, I went the easy way. Is anything easier than burlap? It instantly fringes, it's very easy to hand stitch a straight line for the ribbon space and has some heft to it, so it doesn't need to be sized.


 I have a ton of angst about my flags. I know I'm working with a lot of artists (including Joanne) who are miraculous seamstresses and who gracefully combine fabric and threads with mixed media for an incredible ethereal look.


As you can see, mine are all pretty simple and follow my joyful life principles. For color and texture I used washi tape on the burlap, Scrabble letters, paper clay embellishments and a few naturals. I'm very into nesting these days so I made two of those!


Guess I'd better "trust" they'll be OK!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Cork Poppers: The Taste of Bordeaux

Sure, I love the malbecs and the pinot grigios. A nice Chianti is always good. But if I had to choose one "group" of wines to have those and only those for the rest of my life, it would be those from Bordeaux.

 

This region in France is noted for its fine wines, both reds and whites -- and they were the featured wine at our September Cork Poppers gathering.


First, the whites, and the first of those was Montieur Touton 2013 Sauvignon, using 100 percent Sauvignon Blanc grapes from Bordeaux and offered by Dick and Cheryl. When tasted the words heard were "Yum!" and "Oooh!" It was very cold and crisp. Rick noticed a strong grapefruit flavor. I found it very "clean" tasting and smelling and Cheryl said "This is the best wine so far. (Generally, that's Barb's line!)


Roger said he was going to get this while Dick added he served it first because he felt the second wine, another white from Roger, would be better. That question was up for debate. And at $11, the price was clearly right!


So, it was time to see if Dick was correct in his assessment of Roger's offering -- Chauteau de Fontenille 2012, a blend of sauvignon blanc, sauvigon gris, muscadet and semillon grapes.


I think we all found it a little sweeter than the first. I found it as heavier and not as light -- I preferred the first. Rick, on the other hand, preferred this one. "You could use this as a pillow," he said. "It's feathery." Other comments included "It's stronger but softer" and suggestions that it would be good with cut-up fruit or fish. It's possible I liked this less because it was served a bit warmer than the 53-57 degrees recommended. At $14.99, it's still a good buy. If you prefer a lighter taste, I'd recommend the first, a richer taste, this one.

For the first time since we started individually bringing wine to Cork Poppers, we had a duplicate from both Barb and from Anne and Clayton. It was Chateau La Lauzette 2010, a combination of Cabernet and Merlot. This is a Haut Medoc wine from the Medoc region of Bordeaux. and a Cru Bourgeois wine. They aren't in the top group of Bordeaux heavy hitters like Margaux or Mouton-Rothschild, but nonetheless delicious.


Clayton called it "One of my favorites," while Barb noted it was sharper on the tongue and suggested "You have to have something with this -- cheese or bread." To which Clayton replied, "Or another bottle!" At $25 (Clayton paid $20 on sale), it was a very good buy.

I was up next with Chateau de Trousse, Blaye Cotes de Bordeaux AOC 2010. This red blend combined merlot and Cabernet sauvignon grapes and was from the Blaye Cotes de Bordeaux region. This was dry, very mellow and with good legs (the drips down the side of the glass when you swirl it). Rick noticed that it had a lot of tannins, which he liked and said "This is the best I've had today by far." At $12.99 it is an excellent buy and would be wonderful for sipping, dining or used in a recipe.


(Barb said the highlight of my presentation was, after handing out my two-sided description of the wine and region and introducing the wine, said "You folks know how to read, whatever!" Well, I wasn't going to read the whole thing to them!)


Pat wrapped up the tasting with Beau Mayne Bordeaux 2011, a combination of Merlot and Cabernet sauvignon grapes -- the same as in the wine I brought -- but with a different balance. This affected the flavor. This wine came from old vines (vinable) and I felt was in the same league as the others, definitely dryer than Barb and Anne/Clayton's wines. Barb said it was very good and Clayton offered he would be "happy to drink the whole bottle by myself." Rick replied, "Not the whole bottle -- after the third glass I'd be really sorry." Pat acknowledged that "In my opinion, it's not very good." This one cost $14.99.

We must have gone through four pounds of cheese during this tasting! The cheeses were outstanding, including a triple cream Carabanzola, Loyn Wide Cheddar, Abbeydale yellow with rye and Comte were delicious!


While Meredith was getting the stew started the rest of us set out on the Grand River for a boat ride with Captain Roger.


The river rides never disappoint. A heron was on view and it was a gorgeous day. Perfect for a cruise!


We saw the earliest bits of autumn and celebrated the beginning of fall -- even if it isn't official!


And of course everyone was having a glorious time!



Then it was time for dinner. Frogmore stew and a dazzling salad!



Fortunately, there were a few of Rick's baguettes left from the tasting!


It was beautiful sitting at Meredith's fall table. Our takeaway was a jar of homemade salsa!


And of course, dessert was delish -- summer berries over sponge cake with apricot sauce and whipped cream.


We wrapped up the day with a birthday celebration and a grand toast to hostess Meredith who that week learned that she was officially in remission from her cancer!


What's not to love -- time with the Girls of the Grape (below) and Men of the Vine, a wonderful afternoon with Rick and a boat ride and dinner to die for!



That I'd enjoy any day of the week!

I'll be linking this post with Paulita's Dreaming of France project this week. Come back here once she gets the link up for this week's posts to find fun posts from other bloggers about France.

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