Summer afternoon, summer afternoon…

“Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me those have
always been the two most beautiful words
in the English language.”

– Henry James

Henry definitely has a point.   This is especially true here in the Pacific Northwest, where summers are idyllic.  Sunny, no humidity, temperatures hovering in the 70s and 80s…

Okay, okay, I’ll stop rubbing it in.

These flowers are from my garden:  “Graham Thomas” roses (heavenly scent!) from rosebushes I planted over a dozen years ago (purchased from Heirloom Roses, my favorite rose nursery of all time and a spectacular day-trip destination); Lacecap hydrangea, whose blossoms remind me of butterflies; and fragrant Perovskia or Russian sage.  The perfect trio for a summery bouquet!

 

 

Summer in a cup

Homemade lemon ice cream with fresh blueberries.
Need I say more?

 

LEMON ICE CREAM

1-2 T. freshly grated lemon zest
½ c. fresh lemon juice
1 c. sugar
3 large eggs
2 c. half & half
1 tsp. vanilla

In a saucepan, whisk together the zest, lemon juice, sugar and eggs.  Whisk in 1 c. of half & half plus the vanilla.  Cook over moderately high heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture just comes to a simmer.

Strain mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and chill thoroughly (several hours to overnight).  Whisk in remaining 1 c. half & half and freeze in an ice cream freezer.

Perfect for eating while watching the Olympics!

 

Home again, home again

I have seen the inside of a LOT of airports in the past few weeks — St. Louis, Seattle, Minneapolis, Boston… still to come are trips to Ashland and San Francisco (not book stuff for those trips, though, just family & friends stuff).  I have to say, I love it that so many airports have comfy rocking chairs scattered around — I make a beeline for them every time I spot one!

I wish you all could have been with me in Minneapolis last week when I helped kick off the Betsy-Tacy Convention.  It was FABULOUS!  So many fellow Betsy-Tacy enthusiasts in one spot, so much laughter, so much fun.  The best part (besides meeting so many incredible people, that is)? Getting to take a tour of Betsy & ____’s first apartment!  (I left the name blank just in case you haven’t read BETSY’S WEDDING yet — no spoilers allowed!)

This is the apartment building — it’s in a really cool old neighborhood in Minneapolis.  Upstairs is the actual apartment where author Maud Hart Lovelace and her husband Delos (the real Betsy & ____) first lived, and it’s adorable.  Teeny tiny by modern standards, but the perfect little love nest for two honeymooners, in my opinion.  It was incredibly nice of the current tenant to let 200 rabid fans troop through and take pictures and sigh over how charming everything is, and how closely it matches the description in the book.  I was ready to move right in!

So where are your travels taking you this summer?

 

Take a trip with an Austen fan

I’ve always loved Susan Branch‘s homespun artwork and lovely books, and now I love her even more — it turns out she’s a Jane Austen fan!  Click here to check out her fabulous blog post about her recent trip to Chawton, and tour of Jane Austen’s house.  I was there a few years ago doing research for Pies & Prejudice, and reading her post was like being there again!

Wish I was there right now.  Sigh…

 

Jane Austen’s house in Chawton
Me standing by Jane’s writing table