October.

img_2134October was a beautiful month at Green Gables, when the birches in the hollow turned as golden as sunshine and the maples behind the orchard were royal crimson and the wild cherry trees along the lane put on the loveliest shades of dark red and bronzy green, while the fields sunned themselves in aftermaths.
Anne reveled in the world of color about her.
“Oh, Marilla,” she exclaimed one Saturday morning, coming dancing in with her arms full of gorgeous boughs” ‘I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn’t it? Look at these maple branches. Don’t they give you a thrill–several thrills? I’m going to decorate my room with them.”
“Messy things,” said Marilla, whose aesthetic sense was not noticeably developed. “You clutter up your room entirely too much with out-of-doors stuff, Anne. Bedrooms were made to sleep in.”
“Oh, and dream in too, Marilla. And you know one can dream so much better in a room where there are pretty things. I’m going to put these boughs in the old blue jug and set them on my table.”

LM Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables  IMG_2190IMG_2341 Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 10.14.00 PMIMG_2348 IMG_2343

Mushroom Men

Today the nippers and I went in search for mushrooms in the forest. I told them that mushrooms turn into mushroom men at night and when the sun comes up they all hide and turn back.Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 4.20.09 PMIMG_1767.JPG

(Painting from Elsa Beskow’s Children of the Forest)

I didn’t actually know we would end up finding such perfect little hiding places! A big huge mossy hollow tree was a good place to look: there was a heart shaped hole as high as the boys could reach filled with what we were looking for!  Then there were what looked like frilly green skirts dancing along a log, Steps climing up a tree, and then I squealed when we found a tiny pine cone nursing baby mushrooms! IMG_1992-0.JPG
Next time I would really like to find some red ones and a mushroom circle. I told Oliver the red ones are warriors so they’re harder to find, and that the ones in a circle were caught dancing with fairies when the sun came up!

Of course Oliver is pretty smart, he can tell we’re pretending and sometimes correct me and make up his own version of things. When Finn was his age he would believe everything as if it was real. He still believes in fairies, even though he knows very well that other people don’t believe in them. I love having little catalysts for my own make believe! IMG_1978.JPGIMG_1986.JPGIMG_1987.JPG

Pumpkin soup

Screen Shot 2014-10-05 at 6.04.30 PMIt’s that time of year again. Every year when the air gets crisp and the spiderwebs get all dewy I start to get a craving. I head to the market for a spice pumpkin and a few giant ruby apples and anything else that will fit snugly into my creamy, savory, sweet fall soup!

Here’s what went in this year:
Bacon
Butter
Olive oil
Brown sugar
2 Parsnips (make sure you get the super skinny ones or they will taste bitter)
3 Carrots
1 spice Pumpkin
4 Apples
1 Onion
1 head of Garlic
Craisins
Marjoram
Savory
Rosemary
S&P
2 boxes of Chicken stock
Cider/apple juice
Apple brandy
Cinnamon
Cloves
Pumpkin pie spice

Roughly cut up the veg, sliced up the apples and discard the seeds, slice the top off of the garlic head, cut the pumpkin into eight or so pieces and throw out the seeds, then put it all in a couple baking dishes with a handful of cranberries and coat them with olive oil, herbs and salt and pepper. (You don’t have to be very exact about it, everything will be blended later)

Roast them for 45 minutes in a 400 oven. (Or until they’re soft and the pumpkin skin is able to peel off.) let them cool.

Put 4 slices of bacon in a big pot with a nob of butter and cook until crispy.

After the roasted items have cooled a bit, peel off the pumpkin skin and throw it away, and squeeze out the garlic cloves from the head. Discard any woody stems from the herbs.

Deglaze the pot with a little chicken stock or cider and pour in all the veg. Pour enough stock in to cover it then take it off the stove and blend it with an immersion blender until every last chunk is gone.

Put the soup back on the stove, add the rest of the stock and let it simmer.

This is where I never really measure. I just get out a tasting spoon and tweak until it’s just right. Add about a cup of the brown sugar, a cup of the cider or apple juice, a bit of the brandy, a couple table spoons of cinnamon, about 2 teaspoons of cloves, and about a tablespoon of the pumpkin pie spice. Then I finely chop more of the herbs and throw them in. I add more salt and pepper. When it tastes about right turn the heat down and add about a cup of cream.

You guys…it’s like pumpkin pie and the soup goddess had a baby. If it tastes all wrong…just add a little here and there until it tastes right. That’s how I ended up with the apple brandy this year…it just needed something twingy and sweet. Maybe you’ll add balsamic vinegar or a pear or sea salt or honey or meade. Ooooh that all sounds good!

Last year I pan fried chanterelles and caramelized pecans and put them on top. This year I put more craisins on top. A little touch on top is nice otherwise it looks a bit like vomit. :) Maybe caramelized ginger and some herbs?

I hope you love it as much as I do!

Artist Love: William Morris

I stumbled upon the gorgeously detailed work of William Morris (1834-1896) the other day. I recognized it as if from my childhood but I wasn’t quite sure where from.  Maybe the inside of an old book, a hotel wall paper, or my grandmas pillows, I have no idea.  But wherever the nostalgia is coming from, these colors and patterns give me a warm, enchanting feeling that I want to dive into.IMG_1657.JPGI love the names too.  “The Strawberry Thief” “Dragons and Peacocks” “Cabbage and Vine tapestry” “Tulip and Willow”IMG_1693.JPGSo I was going all smooshy over how much I loved his art, then I looked William Morris up on wikipedia.  He’s also a poet and writer and an Oxford grad.  And get this: CS Lewis and JR Tolkien name his work as one of their greatest influences!  Including the stone table, a King Peter, Shadowfax, and Gandalf. I love that!  I love that I was delighted by someone’s creations who was an influence for two of my greatest influences.  I feel as though I’ve tapped an essence of art.  Inspiration and beauty begets inspiration and beauty.IMG_1683.JPG

 

Flower Shop

My shop is back open!  I’ve put all of my recent gouache flower bouquets in there, and left a few of my old works. Please take a look! I’ve been having trouble posting photos on my blog unfortunately so here’s the link sans pretty photo to show you what’s available….

Etsy.com/shop/bridgetbeth

And I’d like to announce my next commission project…Bridal bouquets! I would love to paint the most important bunch of flowers a girl has in her life. (It’s kind of a brilliant idea for guys wanting to give an anniversary gift too).  And I could paint it from a photo so it could be a bouquet as old as your grandmas…you could have several paintings on your walls of your grandmas, mother’s and your own!  I think it’s brilliant.  And I would get to do a job that would be endlesssly fulfulling for me. Let me know if you’re interested by emailing me here:  bridget.collins@gmail.com.

A journal entry from Friday.

I’m standing on the bridge watching maple pinwheels fall. (Helicopters didn’t exist when Anne did.) The sun is lighting them up.  One…two…and then the wind blows and hundreds detach from the branches and fall in nature’s confetti.

I’ve been thinking about the concept of being needed lately.  I want Beau to need me.  I am needed by the children for snacks and shoe tying yes – and that is all apart of nurturing.  But I mean- my beauty. My soul.

I have been struggling a great deal, for months and months really, with the idea of success. Art, my book…can I “make” it. As if my beauty is a business and if it isn’t wanted I am a failure.

Today as I stand on the bridge I am thinking of the books deemed successful. And the opposite rings true. I need Harry.  I need Anne.  I need middle earth and tea with Mr. Tumnus.

LM Montgomery had depression.  She may have even committed suicide.  Anne was her escape. The people who created these characters are almost irrelevant. Their success is not a factor that really truly matters.  My therapist said something a while ago that sticking out to me today.

“Think of all the children who need your book.”

And even deeper I am thinking of how much I have needed Flora. Perhaps I need her in the way sweet Lucy Maude needed her Anne.

faerie lanterns

I am in such an equinox fairy land mood lately! I’ve been mooning over golden age fairy paintings of fall flights. Yesterday I set my heart on finding a way to make lanterns just like theirs.  I had Lucy come over so we could brainstorm together. I started with tissue paper but it ended up looking like flowers so we went on a forest walk to collect leaves. We found the perfect pinky purplish orange leaves!  Collages57  Paintings by Arthur Rackham and William Timlin, Margaret Tarrant

These lanterns were so easy to make it’s almost silly I’ve never tried it before.  It’s just jam jars, glue stick, and leaves.  That’s it!  I used rubber bands to hold them in place.  The leaves stayed their pretty colors all evening, and today they’re dried and a little browner, but still SO pretty.  Happiness! And in case you’re worried about the leaves burning my house down, I bought some little led lights to put in them when they aren’t being supervised :)

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Here’s what they look like all dried up the next morning:-23

I think this will be our new equinox tradition! The boys loved it!-24

Seattle Gardens

As summer takes its last sigh I want to reflect on the some of the gardens I got to go to this summer. First off, I went to The Northwest Flower and Garden show in the spring.  It was my first time and I have to say it’s the closest I’ve come to what I imagine the royal garden competitions to be like.  I could hardly believe the settings created from scratch in what is essentially a warehouse space. Suddenly I was in a secret garden, or an orchid jungle, or a new mexico retreat.  And they were created overnight! Think Willy Wonka meets Greenfingers. I went by myself, feeling very nervous, wearing my bright flower embroidered sweater and the woman taking tickets at the door exclaimed, “You’re prettier than the gardens in there!” I know that’s bragging, but I loved it so much.  It set the tone for how lovely gardeners and garden lovers are.  They see beauty in nature and simple color and delicate shapes, and aren’t afraid to delight in it and plant a seed and make more of it to share.  I decided I must see more of what others had to share.   And so public garden viewing commenced!

Gardens visited this spring/summer:

1. Purple Haze Lavender Farm and Jarin du Soleil lavender farm in Sequim.

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2. Orin and Althea’s garden at the UW center for urban Horticulture. (and the adjoining scented garden). This garden is only a couple of miles away from me and I went almost every week. It’s so serene and lovely and there’s a walk to the lake that takes you through gorgeous meadow and a landscaped orchard. I really cannot believe it’s free.  I always feel like I’m traversing on someones hallowed private property when I go.  It’s my favorite garden/countryside experience in the city.20140717-142829-52109505.jpgIMG_688120140717-143128-52288422.jpg

 

The following are from the Union Bay natural area connected to the urban horticultural center.

 

-5-11-123. The bee garden/ veggie patch/ courtyard in the arboretum. (And of course the arboretum in general)

IMG_6985-13  -194. The UW herb garden. This place is unreal.  It’s like going to a terraced garden in italy.  And as an educational garden it has every herb you can possibly think of.  I’ve been back three times and there’s always something new and exotic blooming. 20140802-135921-50361082.jpg20140802-135922-50362901.jpg-3-17-15

 

5. The UW rose garden. The entire uni is beautiful and makes you feel like you’re in england, but none so more as the castle ish buildings and meticulously planted roses around the big fountain. A new park is going in next to this, with a train to downtown so I basked in its current summer time seclusion!-1-1620140802-135920-50360477.jpg

 

This woman in on the front of the uw library, just up the steps from the rose garden.

-185. Ravenna Gardens…this is my happy place.  There’s a fountain right next to it (and anthropologie and eateries and UVillage all around it) and it makes me happy every time I go. Sometimes I even just go and park in front of it in the early morning to journal. The flowers are sectioned by color… and the shop is inside a conservatory.  LOVE!       20140802-135920-50360032.jpg

6. Meerkirk rhododendron Garden on Whidbey Island. I went specifically for the daffodils this time, before all of the rhodies bloomed. It’s beautiful no matter when you go!     20140328-192457.jpg

7. One of the many gardens at the garden show. 20140313-211305.jpg8. My mom’s garden. 70 roses, a view of the sea, an orchard next door, and a pool.  Need I say more??-7-149. The Japanese Garden at the Arboretum (I’ve featured this one several times on the blog. It’s a favorite!)-8

10. The blue bell wood! In Ravenna Park.DSC04797  DSC04808

11. I want to include Discovery Park for the wildflowers. There were so many different varieties on our last adventure there I just couldn’t believe I was still in the middle of an urban world. 20140622-092039-33639703.jpg

12. And of course…my own garden! Here’s me with my bounty of lilacs last spring!

 

Screen Shot 2014-05-03 at 10.17.44 PMHappy garden hunting! I promise there’s more secret gardens lurking around the corner than you can possibly imagine.  If you have one I don’t know about please dish!

Edit: how could I forget? The conservatory at Volunteer Park! It’s in renovations right now, but still fun to go to. The dahlias are blooming nearby in the park too! IMG_5181.JPGIMG_5178.JPGIMG_5166.JPG

Lakeshore flowers.

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Lake Isle of Innisfree
by William Butler Yeats

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,
And live alone in the bee loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
– W.B. Yeats