Saturday, November 26, 2016

An Elegant Autumn Tea

This autumn has been a very busy time for me, hence no blog posts for almost six weeks. I am always amazed how much I do miss blogging, when I don't get around to do it, I almost become a little cranky. So I am happy that this Thanksgiving my husband and I have taken four days off, which gives me the chance to finally write a new post, again.



Hardly anything is more calming and enjoyable for me than having a cozy tea together with my husband at our house and recently on a Sunday afternoon I felt that is just what I needed. I was in the mood for a little elegant autumn themed tea time. So I baked some fresh pumpkin-date scones and set the tea table really pretty with my best china, fine cutlery and other beautiful things that are dear and meaningful to me. Today I would like to share some photos with you of this special occasion.



This is my little tea table set up in front of our fireplace. I think it looks really inviting with the candles lit and the warm California autumn sun shining on it and illuminating the scene.

Just in case you wonder: Originally there were two tea place settings, one for my husband and one for me, but they didn't photograph well. So for the photo shooting we took one away, but put it back later after the photos were taken and when we enjoyed our tea together.



The recipe for the gluten-free pumpkin-date scones came from the September/October issue of the Tea Time magazine, one of my favorite tea publications. I am always looking forward to the next issue.



When I was searching for a tea to serve with the scones, I found this pretty tea caddy in our pantry and thought it would bring some lovely autumn colors to the otherwise set in neutral tones tea table. This tea caddy was a gift from my husband to me, that he brought back from one of his many business travels to Japan and it contained a lovely green tea. 



The base color of the tea caddy fit very nicely with the white pumpkins that I put out as decoration as well.



But I decided that a green tea was not the right choice to serve with the pumpkin and date flavors of the scone, so I opted for an organic Rooibos Chai that I had on hand from Numi Organic Tea. I prefer to drink it plain, but it is great with milk as well. 



The scones were ultra delicious with great flavors fitting for the season, but for some reason they didn't rise much. I wonder if I forgot an ingredient from the recipe? I will try to make them again and see if they turn out differently. By chance I found my scone cutters that I bought on one of our travels to the UK after I baked the scones for this tea. I will use them the next time, which could also help with the shape of the scones. 



The scones were so good they could be eaten plain, but to make our tea even a little more special I indulged us with clotted cream. Usually I serve the clotted cream in a bowl that I place on the table together with a bowl of jam or lemon curd. This time I didn't need any of the other two classic condiments that scones are usually served with. So I thought about a nice, stylish way to present the clotted cream on the table. 

Then suddenly I had an idea. How about using my recently acquired antique crystal salt cellars, the maker is Hawkes for you who are interested, as a vessel for the clotted cream and present them on the tea plate itself? I think it looks great and brings a very elegant touch to the table. You can never go wrong with some bling! 



The china that I am using is Rosenthal 'Maria Weiss', which I brought with me from Germany when we moved to the US. After so many years I am still in love with it, but I have to admit that I haven't used it much. I hope to change that in the future. What are pretty things for, if you don't use and enjoy them?

There is a practical reason though that doesn't help to get this china out more frequently: I insist to wash it by hand. As many of you know the dish washing detergent for the dish washer is quite destructive to the glaze of china and this porcelain set is way too precious to me to be exposed to that harsh treatment.



Rosenthal 'Maria Weiss' creamer and sugar bowl.



Another very dear to me item on this tea table are the Victorian knifes. They are also from England, we bought them in an antique shop over there. And no, they were not a steal, but they are so beautiful that I just had to have them. When I look at them I always think of Victorian ladies, elegantly dressed in lacy, white clothes.



Details on the blade of the knife. It feels very touching to me that someone put the love and detailed work and great craftsmanship into these (butter-)knives to make them as pretty as they are. Nowadays it is very rare that efforts like this are made to simply create something beautiful that generations to come can enjoy.



You can clearly see the stamps on the sterling silver blade of the knife, that tell you exactly when the knife was made and where. I somewhere have a book about silver hallmarks, but it might still be in one of our moving boxes. Uppps...



Showing you these photos and writing the text almost feels like I am having tea with you, my dear readers, it just brings me a little closer to you and I hope my post invokes mutual feelings in you as well. I truly wish it would be possible to share tea with you in reality, but at least we can do it over the internet and who knows maybe we meet one day in person and I can invite you for tea for real!

I hope that everyone who celebrated Thanksgiving had a wonderful, peace- and joyful Holiday surrounded by friends and family. Maybe you find some time this weekend to slow down and enjoy some tea time yourself. Elegant or simple, it doesn't matter, it is always such a lovely treat to brighten up the day.

Thanks for stopping by! Your visits and comments are making blogging always worthwhile and so much fun for me.

Warm regards,

Christina



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Sunday, October 16, 2016

September Roses

September was partly very hot this year here in San Diego inland and the roses struggled with the high temperatures and the low humidity and weren't really in a blooming mood. Add to that, that I was out of town for two weeks last month and it comes as a surprise that I was still able to take enough pictures worthy to be posted in my September Roses post, but here it is!



This is 'Koko Loko', one of my new ownroot Floribunda roses of this year. I think the brown blooms (yes, they are really of that brown color!) are absolutely stunning and very unusual. It would be lovely to use them in autumn bouquets, but my bush is still very little and I think I have to be patient and wait with that until next year.



I love this picture of the still tight rose bud.



Here is a fully opened flower of 'Koko Loko', where you can truly see the milk coffee like color of this rose. I am really looking forward to seeing this bush maturing and (hopefully) producing tons of these awesome blooms. So far the rose is healthy and growing well. It is not overly vigorous, but it is also not a puny plant either, which you can easily get with these odd ball colors.



'Auckland Metro' is a stalwart in my rose collection, on which I can really count on. 



I never get tired of this "inner glow" that this rose has. 



Over the years rosa 'Pierre de Ronsard' has become really humongous. The dimensions of this rose are really hard to see in this image, but just have in mind that the fence is six feet tall. Maybe that gives you a more clear idea of the size of this bush. For September the rose has been able to produce yet another decent flush. This is even more astounding, since I didn't get to fertilize it again after the summer flush.



Close-up of the blooms of 'Pierre de Ronsard'.



Rosa 'Pope John Paul II', another very reliable and much loved rose in my garden.



A rose which had a fantastic year so far is 'Pretty Jessica'. I find her globular blooms so endearing.



With rosa 'The Prince' I have a love/hate relationship: I love the color and outstanding fragrance of the blooms, but I hate the mildewed leaves, that this rose often gets in my garden.



Unfortunately, rosa 'Captain Christy' is still just a very puny bush in my garden and simply doesn't want to get stronger. I tried to pamper it in a big terracotta container, but nothing seems to help. Still the elusive, shell pink blooms make me want to try somewhat longer with this rose.



The unusually colored globular blooms, the health of the bush, the amount of flowers that this rose is able to produce with each flush and the strong pleasant fragrance make 'Charles Darwin' one of the best roses that I grow in my garden.



The blooms also last a long time in the vase...



... and the constant color changes that come with different temperatures make this rose always interesting to look at.



Rosa 'Rhodologue Jules Gravereaux', a very nice Tea Rose in my garden. Don't you just want to grow it for its beautiful and romantic name alone?



A rose which is characterized by its particularly beautiful and large flowers: Rosa 'Chandos Beauty'. This rose has one bad habit for me. In autumn it produces many very long canes that don't bloom, so called "blind shoots". I have no idea why, since I treat it the same way like all my other Hybrid Tea roses that don't show this phenomenon. It must have something to do with my climate.



Rosa 'Heritage' has also started to bloom again and is churning out her delicate soft pink blooms. The beauty of this rose is undeniable, but it is very fleeting. The flowers can drop their petals when it is hot within one day. And this is not an exaggeration!



Last but not least a perfect bloom of 'Moonstone'. Whereas previously on my blog I passionately defended roses from the title of being difficult primadonnas, this rose fully deserves it. You get incredible beautiful and perfect blooms when the rose is in the mood, but also a mildewy, sickly mess when it is not. 

Hope you are able to slow down a little bit, enjoy the autumn and still sniff some roses here and there. In case the roses are still flowering in your garden, which varieties are good autumn bloomers for you? Would you care to share? Please leave a comment, so that we rose lovers can all learn from each other. Many thanks!

See you in the garden!

Christina



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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Rescue Doberman Puppies Are Growing Fast

I wanted to report about our Doberman rescue puppies much more frequently, but alas my life has been too demanding to do so. But here I am today with another post about our little Doberman girls. In the following photos they have been eight to nine weeks old.


Here they are outside in our garden contained in a big X-Pen playing with Skylar, our adult red Doberman Pinscher, who is also a rescue Doberman. Playing for the Doberman puppies meant at this age nipping Skylar everywhere and all the time. From the left to the right right you see Elsa, Princess and Lilly.



For a male Doberman Pinscher Skylar was amazingly patient with them, but often even he had enough and needed some alone time to prevent things from getting out of hand. It is still amazing to me how much energy these little puppies had.



My husband bought stadium seats for us to have a more comfortable way to sit down and spent time with them in the X-Pen. Like everything else they made perfect chewing objects for them.



We got the puppies when they were about four weeks old and even though on these photos they are still very small in comparison to our mature Doberman boy, they had grown tremendously in the four to five weeks that we had them when these photos were taken.



Lilly and Skylar in one of the rare moments of quite when the puppies were awake.



The puppies at that age had still only three modes: Sleeping, playing and eating. Here Lilly crashed on the stadium seat.



They continued to love to huddle together for warmth and emotional comfort.



There was always something to sniff.



Elsa, on the right, sometimes could look pretty feisty already...



...and sometimes like the young, elegant, graceful Doberman lady that she was about to become.



They were so full of life and ready to explore the world. "What's next?" seemed to be a constant expression in their little faces.



Lilly, being curious and playful...



...and moments later giving you the typical, intense, fierce Doberman stare already



Love this profile photo of Lilly with her sister Princess in the background.



Lilly playing between the legs of my husband.



Gorgeous little girl!



The three siblings playing together. Elsa and Lilly are insight the X-Pen and Princess is outside, teasing them to get her.



It was always fun to see them interact, except when they were starting to get to rough with each other which happened sometimes, too.



Princess looking intensely...



...and seconds later is ready to go, which for a puppy means ready to play.



Profile shot of Princess. The two black Dobie girls looked remarkable similar.



In case you wonder, Princess is wearing a puppy harness, because we started to walk the puppies on a leash and a harness is gentler on their bodies than a collar, but also to be able to grab them more easily in case we had to, when they were getting to rough with each other or in trouble in the garden. 



Elsa, happily and proudly playing with a ball.



Isn't she cute?



"Come get me, if you can!"



Even at this age Elsa had still these unusual blue/olive colored eyes.



You got to stop and smell the roses - well, at least start with the leaves.



Always on the hunt.



Elsa aka Yoda: "I can walk myself"!

Hope you enjoyed seeing these photos from our rescue Doberman puppies. If you want to take a look at the two earlier posts that I did about them and read more about their story, please click here and here) They were a heck of a work, but boy, do I miss Elsa and Princess, that got adopted out soon after these photos were taken. As I mentioned previously, we kept Lilly for ourselves and she is growing rapidly into a beautiful Dobie female. It is almost hard to believe now that she was once so little.

Warm regards,

Christina



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