Red, Purple, and Chicken Pot Pie

Posted by mrssmythe on September 20, 2017 in Baking, CPT's Lens, Critters, Garden, Seasons, Week in Review |

Lots of red in the landscape these days – from the crabapples in the grocery store parking lot…

to the zinnias in the front yard…

and the yarrow in the herb garden.

The trees have yet to do much changing, but the maple in our side yard – always one of the first trees to change each year- is already littering the driveway with leaves.

After red, purple is the color of choice. I love this morning glory that sprung up of its own accord and overran the backyard bird feeder.

I haven’t planted morning glories for years, but they continue to surprise me each year – descendants of plants I introduced to that spot several summers ago.

Also purple:

The last round of spiderwort flowers – something the bees always appreciate.

And, speaking of bees, I was surprised to see the bumblebees so enamored with my basil plants.

I’d been feeling guilty about neglecting the basil this year – for not doing more with it. But, the bees seem to approve, so I feel better.

No sign of the monarch from the front yard chrysalis. In the meantime, these caterpillars popped up in the yard last week:

We think they will eventually become Fall Webworm Moths.

As to Fall, itself, we continue to swing between warm, muggy days, and cooler, misty days.

Days like the latter inspire baking. I find myself wanting to make things like chicken pot pie:

and carrot cake:

Really, I ought to make carrot cake more often. It’s such a delicious way to get your vegetables. And, if your recipe includes pineapple, walnuts, and coconut (as mine does), so much the better.

From the dining room table, confessing that I had a slice of the above cake with my breakfast this morning (I classed it as a breakfast pastry),

Mrs Smythe





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Caterpillar Happenings and a Return to Knitting

Posted by mrssmythe on September 10, 2017 in Chickens, CPT's Lens, Crafting, Critters, Garden, Week in Review |

This week, I’ve been thinking a lot about caterpillars. We found a monarch caterpillar in the hydrangeas getting ready to spin its chrysalis about ten days ago.

By the time we’d finished dinner, it had finished the job.

Since then, it has weathered several rainstorms, and, despite it’s delicate appearance, seems to be incredibly strong. We are expecting a butterfly to emerge any day now. I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed watching this all play out in my own garden. It makes me wonder what else is going on beneath the leaves.

Elsewhere in the garden, the sedum is in bloom.

The bees love it.

And, though we didn’t have a very successful vegetable year, Ginger did get one pumpkin.

Moving on to the topic of critters, here are some recent photos of the dogs. (Thank you, CPT A).




And the pleasant weather has meant lots of outside time for Ginger’s rabbit, Opal. Here she is on her leash:

She’s a good sport and doesn’t seem to mind the leash, but I think she prefers being allowed to roam free in her “corral”. We put Shadow in with her this afternoon.

Opal tolerated Shadow for about ten minutes, and then finally chased her out. It was funny to see. Opal is definitely a strong-minded little thing.

And, finally, with the weather cooling off, I’ve returned to my knitting. The first project on my list was a hat to replace the camel-colored one I lost last winter.

I had Ginger model it as she and I have the same sized heads.

As you can see, it’s a slouchy sort of hat.

If you wear it without the brim doubled over, it’s really slouchy.

(Doesn’t Ginger look like a little gnome?)

I’ve become very fond of this style hat – it’s lightweight, yet warm, and pretty quick to knit up. If you’re interested, it’s the Sockhead Hat pattern, available for free on Ravelry.

So, that brings you up to date for this week. I hope to get pictures of the butterfly emerging from its chrysalis. If I do, I’ll share those with you soon. Until then, from the dining room table, getting ready to make the evening’s cup of tea,

Mrs. Smythe





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Labor Day in Old Wethersfield

Posted by mrssmythe on September 5, 2017 in Books, Garden, Out & About, Travel |

The girls are studying American history this year, and one of the books Ginger will be reading is The Witch of Blackbird PondHave you ever read that book? I’ve read it three times. I think it’s one of my favorites.

The book is set in Wethersfield, Connecticut – a town less than an hour from where we currently live. So, on Labor Day, I suggested we make the drive to see the the place first hand.

The town provides a map for a walking tour (you can find a copy of it HERE). We started at Cove Park.

The cove – which connects to the Connecticut River and was, at one time, a bend in the river – was lovely, especially on such a pleasant, sunny day. If you look closely, you can see bits of the Hartford skyline at the center of the photo, just beyond the trees.

From the Cove, we headed south along Main street, where most of the town’s oldest homes are located. Many date to the 1700’s and are named for sea captains. This lovely blue home – the Simeon Belden House – is currently for sale (see HERE) and dates to 1767.

In many case, the trees look to be as old as the homes. We were stunned by this maple:

(That’s Ginger, by the way). Neither CPT A nor I have ever seen a maple tree that large!

Here’s another tree we admired:

Amazing, really, to think of all this tree has seen.

We stopped, of course, at the Buttolph-Williams House, which is the home where the main character lives in The Witch of Blackbird Pond.

Built in 1711, it’s one of the town’s oldest houses. Most days, May through October, it’s open to visitors.

And then there’s the Webb House – now a museum – which served as George Washington’s headquarters in 1781.

So much history!

We weren’t able to go into any of these wonderful buildings. Things were closed, I think, for Labor Day. But, I was more than content to stroll around looking at facades and the lovely gardens.

This homeowner had attached strings to the porch and was training morning glories up them.

What a great idea! I’ve filed it away for next year.

And these gardens…well, where to begin?

This is actually the Silas Robbins house. Built in 1873, it’s relatively new by Old Wethersfield standards. It’s now a bed and breakfast…and currently for sale! If you’re interested, you can find more information and plenty of photos HERE.

From the dining room table, already planning a return visit to Old Wethersfield (I’d like to see the town when the leaves are changing),

Mrs. Smythe




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A Day at Southwick’s Zoo

Posted by mrssmythe on September 2, 2017 in CPT's Lens, Critters, Ginger's Snaps, Out & About with Comments closed |

This past Monday, as a sort of end-of-summer hurrah, we drove to Southwick’s Zoo in Mendon, Massachusetts. We hadn’t been to a zoo in years and probably wouldn’t have thought of going except Ginger mentioned one morning that she couldn’t remember ever visiting a zoo. (Which is not to say she’s never been to one. She’s been to quite a few, but she was so young when she did visit those zoos that she couldn’t recall a single exotic animal).

Of course, I found this unacceptable. So, when the cooler weather forced us to cancel plans to visit a water park, we decided to shoot for a zoo instead. Now, I’m happy to say Ginger has plenty of zoo memories, and we also have some really great animal photos, thanks to Ginger (that top bird photo is hers) and CPT A.

Here are some of my favorites:

Southwick’s really had a lot of different monkeys – so fun to watch!

Loved seeing this porcupine hanging out in the tree…

And, if you can believe it, CPT A used to have one of these lizards as a pet! The kids were amazed. I told them not to get any ideas.

These monkeys always make me think of Beethoven.

And, we were able to get closer to tigers this visit than we’ve ever gotten before…at any zoo.

I’d never seen a white tiger before…so beautiful.

Southwick’s Zoo also offers live animal shows. We went to “Bird Brains” which focused on the techniques zoo personnel use to train their animals. It was a great presentation.

And, finally – a shot of the kids…who seem unwilling to make anything resembling a “normal” face for photos these days.

Oh, well.

From the dining room table, with Ginger getting ready to slide a pumpkin chocolate chip Bundt cake into the oven (Mercy!),

Mrs. Smythe





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Last Week of Summer…First Week of School

Posted by mrssmythe on September 1, 2017 in Baking, Chickens, Critters, Garden, Out & About, Seasons, Week in Review |

I went for a walk by myself yesterday. “By myself” meaning without the dogs. It felt strange…even a bit lonely. And I had to ask myself, “when did that happen? When did I become a ‘dog person’?” It was certainly easier to take pictures without a dog in tow, but even the neighbors asked where the dogs were. Next time I go out, I’m taking a dog.

The chickens are doing well. One of their favorite treats right now is dried worms. They love dried worms so much, they’ll run from anywhere in the yard as soon as they hear someone shake the dried worm bag. The girls can even get the chickens to jump for dried worms.

Our weather continues to be cool and pleasant. At least cool by August standards. Ginger and I spent time at Forest Park on Sunday, biking in loops around the lotus ponds. Strange things, those lotus ponds; filled with frogs, and all the spent lotus blossoms reaching up toward the sky like so many shower heads. One of these years, I need to remember to get to Forest Park while the lotuses are blooming. I’m sure they’re lovely.

The onset of Fall brings on baking urges, and this week, having a large sack of ripe peaches on hand that no one seemed to be eating, I threw together a pie. CPT A (who favors peach pie above all others) was especially appreciative.

And, in an effort to squeeze in one last hurrah before school began, we took the girls to Southwick’s Zoo – 90 minutes east of us. I plan to include more photos from that visit in another post, but for now, I’ll leave you with this shot of Pepper outside the Polish Chickens pen. With all of the exotic animals on hand in that enormous zoo, it was funny to see how captivated we were by a flock of chickens.

The zoo visit was a sort of condolence prize, really, for a visit to a waterpark that had to be cancelled because our weather has simply not been warm enough. My impatiens aren’t minding the drop in temperature, though. For the first time this summer, they’ve been able to remain perky all day long – rather than droop, as was their habit, each sunny afternoon.

The hydrangeas are shifting from blush pink to a richer Fall hue.

And my zinnias have finally begun to bloom.

I was late plating these this year – they were an impulse buy off the sales table in July – and now I wish I’d planted more. There’s nothing like zinnias for bright, cheerful, lasting color.

Some of the plants – like the salvia – are on round two of their bloom cycle.

And, the black-eyed susans just keep coming…They have definitely taken over this year.

From the dining room table, with the radiators on for the first time since last spring,

Mrs. Smythe

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