Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Heartsong and a Giveaway

If you're a gardener, you can only imagine what it would be like to run a five-acre nursery specializing in plants for butterflies and hummingbirds. Despite  the trials and tribulations of weather, disease and insects the Sweet Shepherd Nursery in rural Oregon is in the confident hands of Charly Shepherd manager, and her father Barry.
Weather does spoil the crops one year though and the Sisterhood of Shepherds; Faith, Hope and Charly do what they all know best. And that is, save the family business.
Heartsong by Nicola Furlong evoked a heartwarming feeling as I came to know the members of the Shepherd family. I could identify with the same problems of misunderstanding or impatience that took place between them and as the story evolved, I desperately wanted to see them succeed in saving their nursery. The butterfly on the cover has a special meaning toward the solution.
However, Barry suffers a serious health setback and to make matters worse while out one evening during recovery he collapses. When questioned, his granddaughter replies 'it was like he had seen a ghost." Now the book becomes intriguing as Charly and her sisters try to solve the mystery behind the secret that their father is hiding.
Furlong has included some wonderful quotes throughout the book such as "There is no gardening without humility. Nature is constantly sending even its oldest scholars to the bottom of the class for some egregious blunder" ~Alfred Austin~ and "The man who has planted a garden feels that he has done something for the good of the world." ~Charles Dudley Warner~
I've always said gardening and drinking tea go hand in hand and when the Sisterhood of Shepherds sit down to tea and fresh scones to discuss the family affairs, you feel like you are right at the table with them.
Furlong sent me the book as a PDF to download and read on a computer (or iPad as I did) and has graciously given permission to give away a copy to one of my readers. If you would like your name entered in the draw for the giveaway of a PDF copy, let me know in your comment and the giveaway of course is open to everyone as there are no mailing costs involved this time. The draw will be on Sunday, August 31.
This is Nicola Furlong who supplied me with the photos for my book review. She is an avid gardener and  gardens in a small seaside town on southern Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Thank you for the opportunity to review your book, I love the cover!  Many of my blogger friends are passionate gardeners too and I know they will enjoy reading Heartsong.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Mosaic Monday #3 Butterfly Happy Dance

My happy dance starts here in the butterfly garden and buddleia is the star attraction. It's commonly known as butterfly bush and has a heavenly honey-like scent.
Finally in mid-August on a sunny day with no wind or rain they came! Monarchs, a male seen in the centre and a female. They lingered for quite a while drinking the sweet nectar from the butterfly bush flowers.
Other butterflies that have visited this plant too are the cabbage white and a viceroy, copycat in colour to the monarch.
I was beginning to think the butterflies had forgotten about our garden but I'm sure the cool, rainy and windy summer weather has something to do with it.
Have the butterflies been gracing your garden?

Come join Mosaic Monday
❀Link the Url from a post containing a mosaic about any subject.
❀Link back to Mosaic Monday.
❀Leave me a comment.
❀Try to visit the 3 participants before and after your link. More if you can!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Second Time Around Tea

The first time I went to pick blueberries this month they were small and it took me a long time to fill my baskets. The second time, they were huge and I was finished picking in no time.
Barrie Hill Farm is about a half hour drive and they also have pick your own strawberries, raspberries and lots of vegetables when in season.
Previously I baked a blueberry coffee cake and now some muffins that contain ground flaxseed.
My new lavender mug with a pretty handle, a replacement gift from the Etsy Shop of Antiques and Teacups. When Ruth featured these mugs I ordered one right away but sadly it arrived broken as well as my other purchase. Good customer service and the fact that there are so many treasures in her Etsy store will entice me to shop with Ruth again.
A few fresh springs of lavender tied with a bow sit atop a lavender coloured napkin with cutouts along the bottom.
I brewed some chocolate orange puerh tea and there are a couple of other lavender mugs for sharing. And of course, more muffins!
The lavender hedge is full and fragrant in early July and after cutting back all those spent stems (deadheading the plants) a second flush of blooms has already started.
The bees are happy!
The second time around for the lavender won't produce as many flowers but enough to enjoy the scent again and cut a few stems to bring indoors.
I'm linking with:
Tea Time Tuesday
Tuesday Cuppa Tea
Tea in the Garden

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Mosaic Monday #2 I ♥ Hydrangeas

Thank you to all who participated in Mosaic Monday last week and shared their creative collages. I recognized names from when Mary hosted and was excited to see some of my blogging sisters trying their hand at a mosaic and participating for the first time.
One never knows what to expect when hosting a blog party and I feel a disclaimer is in order:
If your link does not contain a mosaic and/or your sole purpose for linking is for personal recognition, I feel obligated to remove your link out of fairness to the other participants.
The link will be up around 2pm EST on each Sunday and not Monday as I had announced. I was a little nervous and had Monday on the brain but I've got that all sorted out in my mind now. And, Sunday afternoon is convenient for most of us.
I have a favour to ask. Many participants link up on Sunday and do their visiting and commenting that day. However, some bloggers for whatever reason do not link until Monday and are forgotten as people have moved on to other parties or their work week. Will you kindly take some time later on Monday and see if there are some wonderful contributions you've missed please?
And now, let's party! I decided to use Pizap this week, another software that is free to download and has lots of unusual templates to play with. 
Hydrangea paniculata is the variety that I like best and it survives robustly through our cold and snowy winters. A few featured from our gardens.
My absolute favourite is 'Limelight' that transforms in colour through the seasons as you can see above.
An older mosaic I made of 'Limelight.' Does anyone recognize this software? I'm wondering if it was the one that PicMonkey replaced? I like this layering format and would use it again if I can locate it.
Thank you for participating in Mosaic Monday, without you there would be no party.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Blueberry Tea

Welcome friends for tea this week. I picked blueberries, baked a scrumptious coffee cake with them and we ate it all before I realized I didn't save a piece to set up my tea table for this week. Not to worry, into the archives as I've baked this cake many times and shared it previously too. I found a few other blueberry treats so we'll imagine all these yummy things set out for you with the bonus of no calories. :-)
The cake smells heavenly as it bakes with brown sugar and pecans on top. (the recipe is in the recipe section at the top of my page if you want it)
I know many people like whipped cream or ice cream on the side but we like our dessert plain.
A slice of blueberry cornbread spread with lemon curd is delicious with a cup of tea.
Blueberry muffins are perfect for breakfast, or any time.
Fresh picked blueberries make a great snack.
Since we have to imagine the goodies, why not imagine this blue willow teapot and teacup are mine. Sadly they're not, they are from a high tea enjoyed at the Blue Willow Tea Room a couple of years ago.
I'm linking with these ladies for tea:
Thank you for hosting and I hope you'll visit them and their guests for tea.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Mosaic Monday #1 Gardens of Ireland: Mount Stewart, Mount Usher and the National Garden Exhibition

The last few gardens I visited in Ireland and they're as fabulous as the others I've already shared.
 A beautiful sunny day as we wandered around Mount Stewart Gardens, part of the National Trust and a World Heritage Site.

Mount Usher Gardens follow the banks of the River Vartry and I am proud to say I stood out on some rocks in the middle to get the shots on the L and R.
Whimsy and mythology can be found in the stone works and carvings.
 The National Garden Exhibition, County Wicklow.
An elegant garden green house and gothic stone structure.
Illusions created with mirrors. The big round circle is a mirror reflecting plant material in front of it and you can see the square mirror on a stone wall making one wonder where the stream is actually flowing.
Welcome to old and new friends that like to create mosaics and share them through the meme Mosaic Monday.

Friday, August 8, 2014

August Photo Challenge - Animals

Topaz, our cockapoo and hunter of chipmunks. Notice the alert look and stubby tail straight up. Don't worry, he never catches one!
A bit of cropping and a slide of the detail button in iPhoto. I like this option, it makes my photos that much clearer.
Henry, our daughter's cockapoo and fondly known as 'The Muppet.' I remember this shot well - "no Henry, you can't go in the house until Grandma gets a nice picture of your snowy face."
Topaz and Henry play well together, unless it's the same toy they want and then it's a tug of war.
Not the clearest photo with the toy dragged one way, and then the other. Cropped to get the background distraction out of the way and that lovely detail tool used again.
I'm linking with Donna from Cottage Days and Journeys for our monthly photo challenge of animals and Saturday's Critters. Who better to share than a couple of furbabies.


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