Monday, January 30, 2012

Spring's First Flowers

I wanted to share a few pictures of some flowers that I took last year about this time.  I had just recently started my blog, and I took our trusty point-and-shoot digital camera out to take some photos about which I could write a post.  I went to a local estate called Reynolda House and Gardens.  It was a sunny, cool day, and I didn't have the time or the money to spend touring the house; but I did take some pictures of the gardens.

These gardens have lots and lots of daffodils in early spring, and I really went there to see if the daffodils were in bloom.  There were a few blooming here and there, but definitely not at their showy peak.

But I did stumble on an unexpected and pleasant surprise at the edge of a wooded area near the formal gardens...


Aren't they sweet?  I was so excited to discover them.  For some reason, I never knew these flowers grew in the South.  I've never seen any around here, and I've lived in North Carolina all my life.  I thought they only grew in colder climates.  According to the two online websites I checked, they can show up weeks before crocuses, making them the earliest blooming bulbs.  They can even bloom all winter long in the South.  At any rate, I'm glad I saw these; they were fun to photograph.

This was my first lesson in the challenges of photographing flowers outdoors.  There was a pretty strong breeze that day, and it was so hard to capture the flowers without them being a blur.  Every time I got in position with my camera and ready to take a picture, the wind would ruffle the flowers.  The same thing happened with the few daffodils that were blooming.  But I think I managed to get some decent pictures just the same.

If you're interested, you can read more about Snowdrops HERE and HERE.

It seems that across most of the nation, we're all experiencing warmer than usual winter temperatures.  While this is really pleasant on a day like today, the downside is that it's causing our spring flowers to bloom out of season.  I actually saw Japanese Cherry trees in full bloom in Greensboro last week...and this is January.  Come Spring and Easter, we'll be missing some of these pretty flowers.

Debbie at Words On Wheels posted about her Japanese Magnolia tree being in full bloom over the weekend, only to be followed up by nighttime temps in the 20's.  Our flowers and trees need a certain amount of cold in winter so as not to bloom too early and be ruined by a late freeze.  My point in all of this is that I was reminded of a poem I recently read by Robert Frost, one of my favorite poets.  It's called "Good-bye, and Keep Cold".

This saying good-bye on the edge of the dark,
And cold to an orchard so young in the bark
Reminds me of all that can happen to harm
An orchard away at the end of the farm
All winter, cut off by a hill from the house.
I don't want it girdled by rabbit and mouse,
I don't want it dreamily nibbled for browse
By deer, and I don't want it budded by grouse.
(If certain it wouldn't be idle to call
I'd summon grouse, deer and rabbit to the wall
And warn them away with a stick for a gun.)
I don't want it stirred by the heat of the sun.
(We made it secure against being I hope,
By setting it out on a northerly slope.)
No orchard's the worse for the wintriest storm;
But one thing about it, it mustn't get warm.
"How often already you've had to be told
Keep cold young orchard.  Good-bye and keep cold.
Dread fifty above more than fifty below."
I have to be gone for a season or so.
My business awhile is with different trees,
Less carefully nourished, less fruitful than these,
And such as is done to their wood with an axe--
Maples and birches and tamaracks.
I wish I could promise to lie in the night
And think of an orchard's arboreal plight
When slowly (and nobody comes with a light)
Its heart sinks lower under the sod
But something has to be left to God.

Robert Frost 

Thank you for stopping by House at Forest Manor.  I enjoy your visits!  I'm joining Laura at Happy Homemaker UK for the Post of the Month Club.  Please stop by her blog to meet some new people at home and abroad.  Thank you for hosting, Laura!  :)


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Replacements, Ltd., Part II

Back in December, before Christmas, Mr. Forest Manor and I took a little trip to Replacements, Ltd., which is about an hour from our house.  It was decorated beautifully for Christmas; we saw some spectacular Christmas tablescapes.  If you'd like to see those, you can read the post HERE.

We took a lot of pictures that day; the showroom at Replacements, Ltd. is fairly large, and it is positively loaded with all kinds of china, crystal, sterling and silverplate, as well as Christmas ornaments, Toby Jugs, and other collectibles.  In my December post, I just focused on the Christmas dishes and decor to go along with the season, but I wanted to show you some of the other things there are to see at this amazing store.

This first section I'm showing is their museum exhibit.  All these items are for display only; nothing for sale.  These items had no price tags -- maybe because they're priceless?  Anyway, here we go.

This is a collection of the "Rothschild Bird" dishes by Herend.  Again, these particular pieces are not for sale, but I believe you can buy some of the dishes in the "Rothschild Bird" pattern through Replacements, e-bay, etc.  They are quite expensive.  Susan at Between Naps on the Porch did a post about this pattern last year.  She has some of the salad plates, and they really are lovely.

I love the way they've created this display of the bird in a tree with a necklace to go along with the china.

Here are a few cases containing sterling coffee and tea sets.

And below, you see sterling flatware, candlesticks, and other miscellaneous pieces.

This is a case of Haviland china, including Haviland "Limoges".

The set below is called "Summer Glory" by Shelley-England.  I love the soft pink background. Those flowers look like lilacs to me -- so delicate looking.

I loved this George Washington Portrait Plate.  I'm assuming that must be Martha on the plate to the left of him.

These Royal Worcester plates depict famous cathedrals in England.

The writing on the inner rim of this plate reads "Queen Elizabeth at Old Moreton 1589".

The placard on the right of this shelf is hard to read; I had to use the zoom feature on Picasa to be able to read it.  I thought it was interesting; it explained about the provenance of these dishes. They're called Royal Doulton Series Ware, and the card reads:  "Starting with a line of tableware featuring images of the Eglinton Tournament(?), Royal Doulton began producing their popular series ware with scenes from literary, historical and everyday British life.  The Dickens series ware was probably the most popular of these.  Featured here are a variety of "Coaching Days", "Queen Elizabeth at Old Moreton Hall", "Under The Greenwood Tree", and Historic England series ware pieces."

Anybody recognize the scene depicted on the plates below?  It's Robin Hood and his Band of Merry Men -- the pattern is "Under The Greenwood Tree", c.1909.

This is the fun part where you get to look at the cases and see if your china, crystal, or flatware patterns are on display.

Does anyone recognize their crystal or flatware in here?  It's hard to tell anything about the flatware because we didn't get a really close-up picture.

Here's my crystal pattern below on the left, "French Cathedral" by Gorham.  I bet yours is somewhere in here too. ;-)

Here are some pretty Spode patterns.  I like the "Herring Hunt".

On the top row in this picture below, I see two of my Johnson Brothers patterns; "His Majesty" and "Old Britain Castles-Pink".  To the right of the "His Majesty" pattern, is my Mom's blue and white pattern, "Indies-Blue"  I also spotted my Mother-in-Law's "Runnymede-Blue" Wedgwood pattern.

Third from the right, top row, is my Royal Doulton "Juliet".

My husband's grandmother had a huge set of the "Blue Danube" with lots of pretty serving pieces.  It's a beautiful pattern.  The pattern beside it called "Grenadiers" by Bernardaud is one of my favorite Christmas patterns, but definitely out of my price range.

So, did you spot your dishes in there anywhere?  It's fun to look, huh?  Next are some beautiful Belleek pieces.

Purely whimsical...we love Charlie Brown and friends at our house.

Miniature teaset atop a bright pink hat box...

I really LOVE this Cameo pitcher and bowl set made by Minton China. I think the cameo and the garland with bows is so elegant.

Well, that's it for our tour.  I hope you saw some things that caught your fancy.  It's fun to look, but we don't buy here often because most of the things are too pricey for us.  I have, however, found some pieces for my patterns that I wasn't able to find elsewhere.  If you're ever in the area and you get a chance to stop at Replacements, Ltd., it's definitely worth a visit.

Thank you for your visit and have a great day!  I'm joining the following people this week:

                                Pink Saturday, hosted by Beverly at How Sweet The Sound


Monday, January 16, 2012

For The Birds

Over the Christmas holidays, Mr. Forest Manor and I put out some new bird feeders.  (I published an updated post) on these feeders in February, with some good candid photos that Mr. Forest Manor took of the various birds visiting our feeders.  We haven't put any out in several years because it was hard to find a good place for them where we could watch the birds and the squirrels wouldn't bother them.  The squirrels pretty much ruined our last bird feeder.  Our solution (and it seems to be working well at the moment) was to hang the feeders from a long chain under the eaves of our screened porch.  We can watch them from our kitchen window and from the door in our den.  The chain is too long for the squirrels to hang over the roof and eat from the feeders, and so far, they haven't tried to climb down the chain...yet.  I'm just waiting for them to climb the screen on the porch to get to the feeders.  I sure hope they don't.

This is the feeder we bought several months ago, and just recently got around to hanging.

These are some of the different varieties of birds we've seen at the feeder so far.  NOTE* These pictures were all downloaded from the Internet because we keep scaring the birds away when we try to snap a picture.

The beloved Black Capped Chickadee...

Carolina Wren...

The feisty little Tufted Titmouse...

Purple Finch...

White Breasted Nuthatch...

Male Northern Cardinal...

and female Northern Cardinal...

and the Song Sparrow.

How many times have you innocently Googled a particular subject with a picture in your mind of one thing, and then something completely different comes up?  This is a "Sparrow", too -- "Cap'n Jack" 

Anyhoo ... back to the subject at hand. :)  Each level has its own separate feed container.  Of course, it took the birds a few days to discover the feeder, and then it took them awhile longer to feel comfortable and safe using it.  Now, it's really fun to watch, because more than one bird gets on there at a time.  The other day, there were three -- a male cardinal and a purple finch on the lower level and a chickadee on the upper level.

When we were shopping for a Christmas gift at our local Wild Birds Unlimited store, we discovered these...

This section of a tree limb (cedar), which is about three inches in diameter, has a metal eye hook screwed into the top so that you can hang it from a chain.  The limb has three holes; two holes on one side and one hole on the other.  My husband said it looks like they used a one-inch drill bit and drilled these three holes.  Then you fill the holes with a product called "Birdacious Bark Butter" :-), which they carry at the Wild Birds Unlimited stores.  The Bark Butter contains rendered beef, suet, roasted peanuts, peanut oil, corn and calcium carbonate.  You can find out more about the Birdacious Bark Butter HERE.  This fellow really likes the bark butter...

the Downy Woodpecker

But we've also seen the Chickadees, the Wren, and the Tufted Titmouse feeding on the Bark Butter, as well.

I find feeding the birds to be a little addictive.  They have a really neat add-on feeder at the Wild Birds Unlimited called The Pole System.  The central pole has two curved arms that you can hang feeders on, and it has an auger at the base which allows you to screw the pole into the ground.  You then attach a stabilizer to hold the pole in place, and after that, there are all kinds of features you can add to the basic system, allowing you to feed lots and lots of birds.  I'd really like to put one of those in our back yard.  Maybe in the summer -- we'll just have to see.

Do you like to feed the birds?  What kind of wild birds do you get in your area?  Which ones are your favorites?

Our Nandina bush, loaded with bright, red berries.  The Cardinals like these.

Thanks for stopping by the House at Forest Manor.  As always, I welcome your visits and your comments.


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