Simple Goodness

heaven is a rhubarb crisp

If you had climbed the high fence that surrounded our back yard, and peeked over, you’d have noticed a garden. Tomato plants stood, tall and staked, ruby orbs shadowing the sunniest wall. Lazy bees slept in lavender bushes. A clump of chives grew in one corner of the plot. As children, we snipped the verdant tips to bring to the kitchen, a garnish for new potatoes. There was rhubarb, its crimson stalks ranging from rich, deep red to shy, speckled pink.

It is satisfying to pull something from the ground. We’d snip, our tiny fingers fumbling with scissors. We’d pick the fattest tomatoes from the vine and pluck the firmest stalks of rhubarb. A quick rinse and a slow dip into the sugar bowl, when our mother’s back was turned. Rhubarb was our garden candy: tart and sweet.

Rhubarb is an old fashioned slice of heaven- any time. Imagine my ‘Oh Joy’ moment when I opened the front door and saw the unexpected paper bag, a gift from a friend. Inside, was half a banana cake (vanilla iced), delicious chilled with a cup of dark roast coffee. She could spin this cake to gold. Tucked alongside the cake, three stalks of rhubarb, perfect for my second favourite dessert: crisp.

There are many reasons to bake: to nourish, create, perfect, and comfort. We bake to love: ourselves and others. When we bake something and offer a slice, we shrug, knowing to bake is a form of love. Crisp is simple. There is absolutely nothing fanciful about oats. I chop, bag and freeze the rhubarb for the perfect moment.

Today, this morning, is the moment I’ve waited for. Cloudy mornings and another day of COVID19 isolation, feel ‘lighter’ with a plate of warm crisp. There is comfort, knowing the clouds will disappear and the oven holds promise.

Open the freezer. Rhubarb compliments dark berries and strawberries. Use whatever is on hand. Modify. There are better recipes than mine, on line. I ‘wing’ it, reducing the sugar content, eliminating cornstarch. If the finished product appears too runny, drain the excess juice. You won’t be disappointed. Add slightly more oats (for the heart), cut back the butter.

There isn’t a crisp I haven’t devoured, best served with a scoop of ice cream or a ring of fresh cream. Heaven! Acknowledge these times. Be still. Be grateful. Savour each bite.

BEWARE: Recently I read: Fresh rhubarb damaged by severe cold should not be eaten, as it may be high in oxalic acid which migrates from the leaves and can cause illness. Who knew?

~ bake barefoot, little thoughts, COVID19, keepitsimple, simplegoodness

aliceandmolly home

For the French girl or boy in you. Make a simple room diffuser. Choose a bottle or jar. Cut a few rose canes- it’s the perfect time to prune. Add condensed rose water to the bottle and several drops of rose essential oil. Wine and Baudelaire.


― “It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.” 
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

Rose water and essential oil are available at most grocery stores that sell natural products.

Starter Plants

At last. Spring has arrived to the west coast.  Over at the alice and molly castle, I plant. Some mornings call for mindless pursuits, such as placing a succulent into a tiny planter, in between sips of black coffee, all the while, catching sun beams.

Succulents, or, “starter plants,” are the perfect choice for a mindless morning planting in a potted garden.

The truth is, succulents are for lazy gardeners who prefer simple yet artful plantings. Foolproof, these laid back little lovelies, are easy to grow. I call them, Keepers, as they have been known to live for decades. These babies thrive and can be passed throughout the generations. (My grandmother’s Christmas cacti, is edging upwards of thirty-one years. It’s a timeless reminder of her gentle touch.) Imagine your next family gathering. Send the clan out the door with a cutting from dear old gran’s plant.

Forgiving little beauties, succulents are low maintenance. Allow the plants to dry out between watering. Choose from different shapes and a variety of colours, ranging from dark green, blues, to pinks.

Place your chosen succulent near a sunny window or outside in a bright spot of garden. Sculptural, succulents show off in a variety of containers or rockery edgings. For a swish look, plant a succulent in a silver sugar bowl. If farmhouse style is more to your liking, place a grouping of terra-cotta potted succulents into a low wooden crate. Plant in chippy tea cups. A vintage tobacco tin redeems itself with a succulent’s touch. The big idea is to mix it up. High, low, vintage, modern.

These little, affordable pretties are sure to delight. So go on~ plant a few.

 

~ fool proof gardening
x

 

 

A View

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from my window. I haven’t returned to England although my family roots are planted deep beneath the English countryside. This invisible tie to the old world always stirs within my soul. Ancestors beckon my return and point me in a purposeful direction.

This gorgeous English shrub rose is an heirloom variety named after the famous influential English garden designer, artist and writer, Gertrude Jeckyll.

That’s how I found Gertrude Jeckyll. It was on a rainy day whim. While browsing a local garden shop, “she” caught my eye. There was an old world look about her. Informal, shabby chic, with a slightly disheveled arrangement that I am drawn to.

That chance meeting was five years ago. I would discover her story.

This lovely rose never fails to delight. Crushable blooms capture one’s sense of smell and the fluffy heads are packed with pink petals. Truly, Gertrude Jeckyll is the prettiest rose in bloom.  When snipped and placed into old silver sugar bowls or pitchers, “she” elevates any surface or occasion.

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An interesting note- Gertrude Jeckyll’s brother was rumored to be friends with author, Robert Louis Stevenson. The surname, Jeckyll, may have been borrowed for the title of the famous novella, Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gertrude_Jekyll

This weekend, find some bliss filled moments to “stop and smell the roses.”

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Peonies

Gorgeous Good Morning
Gorgeous Good Morning

“Roses as big as cabbages.” ~ Marco Polo

Behold.

Of the family~ Paeoniaceae

The floral symbol of China

Holds tradition

The 12th. wedding anniversary flower

Can live for 100 years

The first peonies to bloom in my garden.

 

Through Her Eyes 2

 

Late in the afternoon a door opens and a small woman steps out.  She tucks a lock of auburn hair behind an ear, pauses to inhale the salt air that blows off the ocean. Waning sunlight announces the end of day. Her blue eyes rove the landscape in search of beauty. Today she’ll walk a familiar route home, a route she knows by heart. There is time and light.

The fence comes into view. A solid structure of  connected mid century modern blocks. She stops and recalls a moment from her past. A craftsman sets the blocks into place, trowels a row and begins again. This memory elicits a smile. The open squares fenced a perfect hideaway, a spot to peek and play between the tangled ivy. For a moment she pictures two children; their laughter rings through air. Her fingers graze over the blocks, trace the roughness.

The woman covets beauty. Not perfection. Rather, she prefers the imperfect, the missing and broken. She finds beauty in the everyday objects left among fauna and man. Slowly, she lifts the camera from her bag and aims it at her subject. One last shot. A story  in the making.

 

It’s time for some good byes. Winter’s sighed one last cool breath and left a namesake, Winter rose, a gift for tender Spring. As the visual softens and blurs, she notes the rows of Helleborus beneath her feet. These evergreen perennials are neatly placed within shaded borders. Petals open bluish purple to blotched, maroon pinks. Pale green, bell-shaped flowers reach from underneath variegated leaves.The shutter clicks. She imagines the ire  of roused, rosy-cheeked woodland sprites, iridescent wings whir beneath sunbeams.

Suddenly, the woman senses a presence behind her. The spirits of her ancestors stand united. Souls whose calloused hands dug soil and transported the woodland plants by wheelbarrow to this very bed. Their whispered voices sound as peaceful notes; their words carried back and forth on the back of a cool breeze. She imagines them kneeling as they arrange the plants before her. The woman sighs, it was so long ago and she is weary.

It is time for Spring, she thinks, a time of new beginnings.

Along the walk back home, her beautiful mind deconstructs the objects. Drawn in by their elements of shape, form and colour, she pauses to scroll the photographs before her. The lens of a camera is the conduit through which she takes simple to majestic. A finger points to push the button, a frame clicks and a moment is captured in time. She imagines these images altered by subtle shifts of light and placement.

It’s a shame, she thinks. Blindly, we rush past the everyday. One day we realize. That which we forget, is forever lost.