This Week in the Garden

Posted by mrssmythe on July 13, 2017 in Garden |

A wild and wet week here in Western Massachusetts.

The weather is not doing much to further my gardening plans. I have mulch that I’d like to spread. I have weeds that I’d like to pluck. I have a lawn that I’d like to mow…and all we’ve been seeing is rain.

No, that’s no entirely true. We’ve had patches of fair weather, but the humidity has been such that the lawn hasn’t dried and the thought of working out in the sun has been unpalatable.

Today, I might try to jump out between rain showers. I’d really like to get that mulch off the driveway and onto the soil.

In the meantime, here are some photos of what’s currently in bloom. I’m especially pleased with the snapdragons, which somehow survived our last winter and are enormous in their second year of growth. I think they were sheltered enough under the fallen leaves I neglected to rake to escape freezing.

Which is, perhaps, a nudge to me that getting overly concerned about garden chores is silly. Some things seem to do best with a bit of neglect.

Maybe I won’t worry so much about that mulch after all.

From the dining room table, with a vase of fresh cut flowers from the garden at my elbow,

Mrs. Smythe


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What’s Up with Mr. Wa?

Posted by mrssmythe on July 12, 2017 in Critters |

I often get requests for photos/posts about the cats – specifically Mr. Wa.

And, while I’d like to oblige, this can be hard because Mr. Wa doesn’t do a lot. In fact, until recently, we rarely saw him. He had a tendency to lurk in the basement most of the day, or up in the comfortable chaos of Pepper’s room. I saw him at feeding time, but that was about it.

Lately, though, Mr. Wa has become much more social. I’m not sure why. Old age? (He is, after all, almost 11). The summer heat? I don’t know. All I know is Mr. Wa spends more time with us now and is very often underfoot or in the way.

And, he seems to have an affinity for the girls’ toys. We stumbled onto him the other morning playing with Ginger’s cars. (The cars were there first – Mr. Wa just decided to settle among them).

He does still spend time in the basement – it’s cooler down there, after all – but it’s been nice having him up with us in the main house on a more regular basis…even if he does shed like crazy.

From the dining room table, having just fed Mr. Wa his breakfast,

Mrs. Smythe

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A Visit to Old Sturbridge Village

Posted by mrssmythe on July 11, 2017 in Books, Crafting, Museums, Old Books, Out & About, Seasons |

The girls and I were back at Old Sturbridge Village last week. We planned our visit for the day after the Fourth of July because, if you’ve ever been to OSV on the Fourth, you know how congested it can be. Wanting to avoid that sort of thing (and preserve the illusion of having stepped back in time – something best done with as few tourists around as possible!), we delayed 24 hours. And, while we didn’t have the place entirely to ourselves, there was plenty of peace and quiet to be had and no crowds to be fought.

Here, you see the girls outside one of the farmhouses, chatting with the costumed interpreters who were doing the day’s laundry.

What a task! An all-day affair to be certain, and quite sweat-inducing, between the fires needed to boil the water and the scrubbing needed to loosen the dirt. One of the girls told me she’d worked ten minutes to get the black stains off of a single potholder. And, the soap they use is none too mild.

They do this once a week – on Wednesdays, I was told – so if you have a hankering to see wash-day first hand, that’s the day to go. (Thursdays, they iron).

Another warm job – gardening. I asked several of the interpreters if they found working in the costumes uncomfortable. Everyone I spoke with assured me the clothing kept them cooler than expected as it protected them from the sun and, in the case of the laundresses, the fire. Still, one gardener confessed that she wore white socks and shorts underneath her costume to give her some protection from ticks.

It really was a gorgeous day – summer is a lovely time to visit OSV.

But, it’s also nice to be able to duck into the various museums and escape the heat and glare, if only for a few moments. In the toy museum, I spotted this sampler.

I love samplers! This one was certainly a long-range project as its maker couldn’t count it complete until every family member had died. In fact, now that I think about it, more than one set of hands must have worked on it if the “Dorothy” who is listed as its maker was the same “Dorothy” whose name and vital statistics are listed in the family roster. Certainly, it’s a beautiful piece of work, and done with the tiniest of stitches on material that is so thin a to be almost transparent. Just gorgeous.

On our way home, the girls and I stopped off at the Palmer Library Loft where I found this on the FREE shelf:

It was published in 1962 and includes an entry for Old Sturbridge Village in the chapter on Massachusetts. The book calls OSV “A Time Machine!”, and the entry describes the village very much as it is today. One thing, though, has certainly changed. The entry fee for youths in 1962 was $1.00. These days, you pay $14.00 – thought currently, there’s a promotion on, and, for the entire month of July, kids are admitted FREE! (Please note, most weeks OSV is closed Mondays and Tuesdays).

From the dining room table, with the weather nothing like what you see in these photos (it’s a very soggy Tuesday morning, for sure!),

Mrs. Smythe

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A Lazy Fourth…plus Odds and Ends

Posted by mrssmythe on July 4, 2017 in Books, Cooking, Crafting, Garden, Seasons, Week in Review |

We’re enjoying a warm, lazy Fourth of July here in Western Massachusetts – nothing on the agenda besides hamburgers and the finishing touches on a room swap we started on Monday (vacuuming corners, putting books back on shelves, that sort of thing).

The past week has been equally (and pleasantly) low-key. I finished and framed a very small (2″x3″) seed bead cross stitch project from the book, Stitch a Beaded Garden.

Any of the designs in the book can be done in basic cross stitch, but the beaded versions are beautiful, and I thought I’d give one a try.

In other news, Ginger has decided to read through the entire Nancy Drew series this summer. Meanwhile, I’m steadily working my way through Georgette Heyer‘s works. If you like Jane Austen, you’d probably like Georgette Heyer.

Biking has been on the agenda, too. East Longmeadow has a wonderful, though short, trail, called the Redstone Rail Trail. No car traffic – lots of greenery – pleasant cycling.

And, the “beach” has finally opened! There’s a pond near our house that we like to frequent. Below, you can see Ginger walking out to take her swim test (necessary if you want to swim past the ropes out to the docks). Pepper, now nearly 16, didn’t have to test this year – a first for her.

In the kitchen, we’ve been making lots of pizza. Lucy of Attic 24 has inspired me to be more adventurous with my toppings.

I can attest that spinach, tomatoes, and feta are an excellent combination.

And, in the garden, it’s tiger lily time!

Also, the cosmos, which self-sow freely in my front beds, are finally beginning to bloom…

…as is the borage.

I have a lot of borage this year. The bees love it.

In fact, I’m watching the bees right now, from the front porch, where I can keep an eye on both the garden and the crossword puzzle I’ve been working (how’s that for summertime multi-tasking!)

Hoping you had a lovely Fourth,

Mrs. Smythe


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Summer Fun

Posted by mrssmythe on June 26, 2017 in Chickens, Crafting, Critters, Out & About, Seasons, Shopping, Week in Review |

Well, school is officially out for the year, and already the kids are bored.

No – I’m exaggerating. But it has been an abrupt shift from readings and lectures to long expanses of free time. In an attempt to keep the days from devolving into non-stop Minecraft-fests, I’ve shifted into cruise-director mode, trying to get the kids out of the house and doing something active on a regular basis.

First stop – mini golf to celebrate the end of the school year.

Doesn’t that look idyllic? I love the Fenway mini golf course. We visited on a very warm day, and every time we do that, the final hole’s “pool” beckons to us. I wish you could swim at the end of your round. Wouldn’t that be fun?

We did manage some actual swimming at the Reynolds Pool in Longmeadow, which was surprisingly uncrowded for a Saturday afternoon.

And, of course, we made a trip to Forest Park –

a great place for bike riding and bird watching.

We even spotted a heron.

We did have some rain, though…

so, we squeezed in some shopping, too. Pepper wanted to get faux glasses for her Comic Con costume. She found these at Claire’s.

And, of course, HomeGoods is always a fun store to visit. I have a birthday coming up. Maybe I’ll ask for this barbecue. 😉

Actually, by the time I saw the barbecue, it had already sold. But can you imagine? Talk about a conversation piece!

Something I could buy – pineapple-themed kitchen decor.

I love this cheery yellow, and I’m seeing pineapples everywhere right now. Should I redo the kitchen? I’m sure I’d love it in summer…but would I like it as well in November?

When we’re not out and about, you can usually find us in the backyard playing badminton or Speedminton with the chickens running around on the lawn.

While we play, the chickens like to go after the inch-long black beetles that have recently invaded the yard.

(Sorry, for the blur, but it’s very hard to photograph a moving beetle).

I’m not sure what’s going on – mating season? They’re so large, you can see the beetles moving through the lawn from the porch!

And finally, a tiny bit of crafting…

a crocheted juice jug for Ginger’s play food collection. Next on her wish list…a water bottle. I’ll get right on that, Ginger.

From the dining room table, confessing that I did buy a set of pineapple salt and pepper shakers. (I couldn’t resist),

Mrs. Smythe



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