Tag Archives: Summer

White Chocolate Hot Chocolate- Angelinas

Jillian here.  Before I went to Paris, someone recommended Angelina’s, a pastry shop that has been in business since, I think, 1903. It’s a lovely place and I was told to try the white chocolate hot chocolate. They also have a signature pastry called Le Mont Blanc- it’s meringue, light whipped cream and chestnut cream vermicelli. It

seems they had a summer version with strawberry center and cream as well. I had that and it was so good. The vermicelli was a bit too sweet for me so I didn’t finish the treat but what I did eat, I enjoyed.

Now, about that white chocolate hot chocolate? It was divine and so yummy. I loved, loved it. They brought it out with a neat presentation as well. I got a cup and saucer placed before me then to either side of the cup, they added a small pot of whipped cream and a larger pot of the hot chocolate. I poured some of the chocolate into the cup, then added some cream. It was like heaven.

If you get to Paris, make your way to the Rue De Rivoli and enjoy!!

Summer Puppy Fun

I thought it was about time for a puppy update. It’s been like a conveyor belt of guide dog puppies here in the Jones’ household this summer, and as one has left another bundle of fun has arrived, sometimes within a matter of hours.

Whispa playing with toys at four months

Whispa at 4 months playing with her favourite duck toy

First came four month old Whispa, a Golden Retriever. What a little whirlwind! She came with the remnants of an ear infection, but would she let me put her drops in? Not on your life. It took two of us to coax her to sit long enough and that was only with AJ holding tight to a biscuit so she could nibble it and get her mind off what was happening.

Beauty and Zoe

Beauty and Zoe waiting for dinner

Then came sisters Beauty, a 10 month old Lab/Retriever, and Zoe, a 10 week old black Lab. They were probably the most laid back puppies we’ve ever had. We hardly knew we had Beauty and little Zoe wasn’t fazed by anything. They gave us a lot of laughs though, especially when Zoe tried to steal Beauty’s food.

Whispa

Whispa 5 months old

Whispa returned for a weekend. She was okay at first but then we noticed she kept going outside every few minutes to try and relieve herself. After she was very sick in the garden we shot off to the vet. They wanted to keep her in overnight for a scan and x-ray. We drove home through probably the worst thunderstorm for years and spent a relatively sleepless night worrying about our little charge. We were able to collect her the next day having been told she had a nasty bout of cystitis. Poor little mite. But in the way of puppies, after a few shots of antibiotics she was racing around as if all was well in her world again. Phew.

Emily with stick aug 14

Emily with stick Aug 14

Then along came Emily. Eleven months old and the sweetest little girl. As you can see, her favourite thing is collecting sticks – the bigger the better! She bonded with AJ almost instantly and followed him around all week. Every time he left the room she would look at me as if I were personally responsible for his absence. Then came the crying, pitiful weeping that might have had the neighbours wondering if we were beating her or something. As soon as her hero returned, she would be all sweetness and light again.

Whispa came back again, this time with conjunctivitis! Remembering the trouble we had with her ear drops, we braced ourselves for eye drop time. She sat there as good as gold and let me do the necessary without any fuss whatsoever. Go figure!

Tia Aug 14

Tina in full ‘lady’ pose

As I type we’re looking after our friend’s golden Labrador. Tia is such a gorgeous girl…I’ve just realised, all our canine lodgers this summer have been girls! Tia is now five years old and quite a lady. We’ve had her several times before and when we’ve had puppies at the same time, she helps with any discipline required. She tells the pups in no uncertain terms when they’re overstepping the mark and really puts them in their place. She really is a golden girl!

We have a break now for a few weeks, that is unless the phone rings and our supervisor dangles another little cutie in our path. AJ is hoping for a boy next time 🙂 Although secretly I think he loves his adoring little girls following him around. Big softie that he is!

Porch-Sittin’ Weather by Valerie J. Patterson

The county courthouse I work in is practically older than dirt.  It has a large front porch–for lack of a better term.  It has massive, aged columns and a huge bell tower upon which stands a statue of the man the county is named after–Revolutionary War Major General Nathanael Greene.  The original courtroom is big with high archways and walls lined with portraits of the judges who’ve administered justice through the courthouse’s existence.  It’s a pretty impressive courthouse.  But it’s the front porch I want to talk about.

Greene County Courthouse

The courthouse is at the heart of town.  Anyone going anywhere has to pass the front of the courthouse in order to get where they’re going.  There are park benches on the front porch inviting folks to sit a while.  This is where I’ve come to spend my lunch breaks the past two months or so.

It’s not always easy to get out of the office and go to a restaurant for lunch, but it does occur.  Usually, when that happens, my hubby picks me up and whisks me away for an hour of quiet conversation and a sandwich or a salad.  I love those hours.  I covet those hours because it’s a small bit of time we get together in an otherwise busy day.

If I can’t get away, I head for the front porch.  I take a bottle of water, some protein biscuits, a pen and a tablet.  I head for the park bench farthest from the main doors and–after stealing a glance at the clock on the bank across the street–I settle in and start working on my manuscript.  I usually get half a bottle of water and two biscuits down before my mind pulls away from my work and my eyes begin to take in the sights and sounds.

One afternoon I watched a man stopped at a traffic light watch a woman cross the street.  So intent was he on watching her that he turned down a one-way street and the man in the car he cut off yelled loud enough that he stopped and backed out of the one-way street and scurried on his way.

I watched a bride and groom come rushing out the front doors after one of the judges married them and instantly pose for photos,  I’ve seen families pose for photos with the child they just adopted.  And I’ve seen divorcing couples argue all the way down the front steps, stopping on the sidewalk to continue the heated exchange.  Mostly, I watch folks hurry from one end of town to the next and back again.  After all, that hour tends to fly when you fill it with errands.

It seems that no matter the heat of the day, there’s always a lovely breeze coming across the front porch.  I enjoy that breeze.  It relaxes me and refreshes me and energizes me to finish my day.  My Dad was an accomplished porch-sitter.  In the evenings after dinner and whatever chores he had to complete, he’d grab a tall glass of my Mom’s homemade iced tea and head for the front porch.  He’d chat with whomever passed in front of the house, but mostly he sat quietly just soaking up the evening.

There are days when I’m sitting on the park bench and I think of him.  I just know he’d enjoy sitting on that front porch with me.  I hope it remains porch-sittin’ weather for a long while!

Until next time, I hope there’s a porch in your life where you can sit and recharge.  May it always be perfect porch-sittin’ weather for you, too!

Summer Recipe

It’s close on to summer now and we’re already having those super hot days here. Afternoon thunderstorms are almost a daily occurrence here too. A lot of sun, a little rain, lightning and thunder make up the days of summer here in Florida. We also have entered, as of June 1, hurricane season.

For those hot days, here’s a summer cooler:

ingredients:

6 lemons
2 quarts of water
sugar to taste- I start with 1/2 cup and test it for tartness- (or you can use Splenda or other substitute)
1 pint of strawberries (de-headed and cut into chunks)

directions:Lemon

Squeeze the juice from the lemons and add to the 2 quarts of water. Add the sugar and after cutting up the strawberries, add the chunks to the mix. You’ll have a lovely strawberry lemonade and the flavors will mix nicely and when you finish your drink, you’ll have some sweet strawberries to munch on. images

variation:

Add the juice of 4 limes for a twist
OR add your favorite liquor for a bit of a kick.

Enjoy your June!

It’s August! Can You Believe It?

I spent the day recently in Havana, Florida a quaint little town near Tallahassee (and it’s pronounced Hay-vana- Weird, I know). It has a lot of antique malls and little shops. One of my favorite ones is a ribbon, button, jewelry and all kinds of goodies, shop. It’s called Cindy’s Chapeaux and is very like French boutiques where you can get ribbon cut by the inch and lace among other things. I scored some great things there, including a 1940s brooch.

I also got some great books at one of the shops. An illustrated middle grade Pride and Prejudice, a 365 things to do in Britain book (great for research for my novels), a dictionary of Ireland and a book of World Proverbs- I like to put quotes as headers on my chapters in my novels so this book will be added to my research library. I’m a quote hound and have a treasure trove of those kind of publications.

I also got a couple of scarves. One for my neck, a lace one for an end table in my office and an embroidered one for my table between my chairs in the den at home. Got a pretty barrette, too.

The best deal of the day was a new sink for my office bathroom. It’s so pretty, I fell in love with it instantly.

I’m attaching pictures of some of my haul. Come on over/down to Florida and we’ll go to Havana. I guarantee you’ll love it.

Happy August!!

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Happy Monday!

Go me for remembering that it’s my day here at the blog. Sometimes the old noggin thinks I have the third Wednesday (sorry Nancy) instead of the third Monday, so I’m quite proud that I remembered.

I hope you all had a nice weekend and that the month of July is treating you well. I know some of the UK friends and Pacific Northwest friends here have had an abnormally cool season. You could sure come on over here to sunny Florida and I’d be glad to share some of out 90-100 degree days with you! We’d have a popsicle and stick our toes in the sand. Maybe even take a dip in the Gulf of Mexico that’s usually as warm as bath water.

Here’s a cool drink recipe to keep you from knowing (or caring) what the weather may be:

Sangria
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
1 lemon cut into ¼ inch thick slices
1 orange cut into ¼ inch thick slices
1 lime cut into ¼ inch thick slices
For syrup, in a small saucepan combine sugar, water and the 4 end slices from the lemon, orange and limes. Bring to boiling, stirring till sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and cool.
Squeeze juice from cooked fruit slices into the syrup, then discard.
1 750 ml bottle dry red wine, chilled
2 cups of carbonated water (I use lemon or lime flavored, but you can use plain)
2 TBS brandy (cheapest you can find!)
In a large pitcher combine syrup, wine, carbonated water, brandy and remaining fruit slices. Pour over ice and enjoy!
Make approximately 6 (8 ounce) servings

Seasons of Creativity By Valerie J. Patterson

Being a creative being, I consider myself to be in tune with nature.  The beginning of each season inspires me, recharges me, and ignites my creativity.  I love fall.  Nature settles down for a long winter nap.  Everything becomes dormant and … well gray once Autumn’s dance is over and the colors have faded from view.  Outside my mother’s kitchen window is a massive evergreen whose strong limbs reach heavenward in praise of God.  It turns a fiery yellow every autumn and then gracefully loses its needles.  It’s the only evergreen I’ve ever seen do this.  It’s an incredibly gorgeous tree.  My pastor’s wife loves winter trees, the pose they strike as they wait for new life to spring anew is beautiful to her.  Because of her, I’m looking at trees in a new light these days.  I have found that she is right.

Winter intrigues me.  It covers everything with a frosty white that is the epitome of purity, and being clean, and pristine beauty.  I have to have the winter of my year every year.  It’s in my creative blood to see beauty in starkness, I think.  Besides, I love that moment where I breathe out and the winter wind blows my breath back onto my glasses and causes them to fog over.  That’s the moment I know winter has gracefully arrived and said hello to me.

Summer fascinates me.  The sun chases away the moon for a few extra hours each day.  There are lovely aromas in the air from flowers to bar-b-ques to sunscreen.  My favorite scent of summer is the ocean.  That cool spray that washes over hot skin and leaves behind a trace of salt water and the aroma of the beach.

But spring enchants me.  When the first bursts of life spring forth in shades of green, brilliant hues of flower blooms, and babies of many species, I want to sit very still and capture it all with my eyes, my nose, my ears, and my mind.  I don’t just want to admire it, I want to be part of it if only as a bystander.  The dormancy of winter virtually explodes vital life in springtime where I live.  I can sit beneath a tree and experience the faintest caress of a breeze on my face and arms and it always carries with it fresh, new scents that I would miss if I didn’t stand still and wait for it.

I see God’s creative hand in every season, and I know that He gave me just a teeny bit of that creativity when He made me, when He crafted the designer original that I am … that we all are.

I don’t think I could live where there weren’t four very distinct seasons.  Perhaps it would stifle my creativity?

What inspires you?

Until next time, I hope you all are well and enjoying the fresh vitalization that spring delivers.

~Valerie