Posts Tagged ‘summer’

Top on my list today? Jersey tomatoes!


Slice into one of these ruby red gems and it’s pure heaven. What’s for lunch? A Skellig sweet cheddar from Ireland, Vegenaise and organic sprouted grain toast – yum!

And I don’t care what anyone says – I’ve had tomatoes from other places and they just don’t measure up to real Jersey tomatoes. They don’t call us the Garden State for nothing!


And the best part? In my part of the state there are farmstands and farmers’ markets dotting the back roads and main roads, so you never have to go too far to be absolutely delighted with these sweet, juicy, delicious tomatoes. (Corn, too!) Gratitude for little things comes easy out this way in summer.

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Why, you may ask, are you looking at a pair of feet in (… well, a pretty cute set of) flip-flops?

Here’s why. For the same reason you’re about to look at a yummy summer salad sitting on an antique kitchen chair complete with original milk paint, (which by the way, doesn’t hold up all that well to everyday wear and tear.)


It’s an offering. A little tide-you-over. I’ve been somewhat absent from my blog, but I do think of you, and I do miss the delight of writing more frequent posts, as well as stopping by your blogs. (Just because I don’t follow you or comment doesn’t mean I don’t stop in for a quick peek.)

The last few weeks have included some exciting things – a visit to the Grounds for Sculpture to see the Seward Johnson retrospective before the borrowed pieces return to their permanent spots all over the world on July 1. So much to see, and such genius! I’ll be posting more on that soon. Meanwhile, here’s a little teaser of what’s to come.


Johnson is known for his sculptures of people in everyday life and his 3-dimensional interpretations of famous paintings. Throughout the grounds one finds groupings of people as well as individuals, such as this hot dog vendor along one of the walkways.

And then there was the NJ SCBWI June Conference where we all ate, drank and slept children’s books for nearly two days straight. It’s intense, exciting, rewarding, and based on everyone’s collapse on Monday, a major rush! The workshops, meeting and dining with agents and editors, connecting and re-connecting with fellow writers and illustrators is quite the whirlwind of an experience, and has us all coming home with a renewed sense of purpose, our dreams fired up, and ready to further our goals and experiences in children’s books.

Intermezzo: a French Bulldog illustration of mine, for summer.


And then of course, there’s work. LOTS of work. Not to complain; paying one’s bills is a good thing, but between it all, well, my blog bore the brunt of it. As have my poor LightBetweenOeans-MLStedman2porches which remain bereft of a single flower this year. (I’ll spare you the empty porch photos.) And then there are the everyday demands of just plain life. Busy!

And of course I’ve been reading. I am always reading, no matter what. Great book – just finished – I highly recommend it.

Soon I will share with you some truly amazing treats from the Seward Johnson exhibit.

So stay tuned … I do believe I’m back!

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I was determined this morning to get some time out on one of my porches before the onslaught of work began. There’s plenty on my desk plus a scheduled quick trip to the vet.  It’s easy to get up and take care of the necessary house stuff then dive into work with nary a moment of peace on these still-cool mornings.

So I put off making breakfast and brought my coffee to the shady back porch and sketched a bit. Then I closed my eyes and just listened. I heard the gentle gurgling of the neighbor’s pond which is partially behind my home; the GUNK! of one of the froggy residents; I distinctly recognized a cat bird and a sparrow singing, and at least 5 others that I was not able to identify. There was some machine humming in the distance, an occasional vehicle some blocks away, but these were barely noticeable. There was not one human to be heard. It was peaceful.

In looking about me I saw two goldfinches zipping back and forth in tandem and a few chimney swifts flitting about high in the sky. At the edge of the porch, bumblebees were pushing their way into the lavender hosta flowers. A medium size rust beetle was seemingly trying to bury himself – or perhaps burrow – in the corner by the back door, an impossibility, of course. I couldn’t imagine his purpose but he was way off course, so I took a piece of paper and transported him down into the hosta, where at least it was a more natural environment for him.

When I did get to breakfast, I made sure to include one of the fresh peaches from my local farm stand. This quiet morning was a great start. The only downside? I couldn’t stay for hours.

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Flowers have spoken to me more than I can tell in written words.
They are the hieroglyphics of angels, loved by all men
for the beauty of their character,
though few can decipher even fragments of their meaning.

~Lydia M. Child

Certainly one of the joys of summer is the endless array of flowers that come into bloom. I am most fortunate that my back porch is surrounded by a variety of flowers, and most plentiful now is the Hydrangea. Below you will see a beautiful blue in bud, beginning to bloom, and further along. I will be sure to capture some of these when they are in full bloom.

Now in full bloom are delicate white hydrangeas, looking much like big snowballs. They start out a pale apple green and become whiter as each blossoms fully.

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Most of you will probably finish that line with “… lemons, make lemonade.” It’s an old adage about making the best of things, to which I have added my own variation. “When life wakes you up at the crack `o dawn, get up!”

At first, I was really fighting this. For whatever reason, this year and last, I have been waking up with the sun, this year even more so with a bumper crop of birds singing about 40′ from my open bedroom windows.  I’m a morning person,  but 4:45 am? Come on! But awake I was. I tried going back to sleep, to no avail. I lay there and harrumphed – needless to say, that didn’t help. But I was becoming more and more tired as I was still going to bed at the same time. What to do?

Adjust! I started going to bed about 10, so when 4:45 rolls around, sometimes heralded by the sun, but always by the birds, (clearly I am now synching with their bio-rhythms), I can actually get up and start doing stuff. By the time I start my jobs, I’ve often accomplished quite a bit. Ergo, the photo of the carrot bread.

I got out all the dry ingredients and mixing bowls, loaf pan, etc. last night and grated the carrots. After feeding the small fry this morning, I opened up the windows to a nice cool 65˚, whipped it together and popped it in the oven. Voila! a cooling carrot bread at 7:50 a.m.! By the time you see the finished photo with a cream cheese icing, it will be a few hours later.

Sometimes reality is a pain in the butt. We don’t always want to hear about it, nor deal with it. But the fact remains – whatever the reality is, if it’s not something we can change, it’s not going away. So for now, one of my realities is waking up at 4:45 a.m. And although this was a carrot bread morning, I discovered that this new reality also affords me extra time to work on my children’s books with no interruptions.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll give the little choristers a standing ovation.

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Summer’s Last Breath

As the sun and the earth dance through the Equinox, summer exhales and shares her final gifts.

The last perfect rose of summer blooms, defying the empty, withering stalks of Hosta and drying grass.


The tall grasses in the backyard bloom in bursts of sunlit wheat.


The praying mantis I’ve been getting to know, mated, and the next day climbed high up on my office window. That evening she captured and devoured a large moth in the same spot, her last meal. Thereafter, she remained low, near the water spout. I watched, as each day, she became a paler brown and atrophied before my eyes. I thought to take one last picture of her, but could not be so disrespectful as to photograph her as her tiny life faded. In 3 days she was gone, her work on earth completed.


Despite the temperatures already dipping into the 40’s and 50’s at night, my potted petunias and torenia continue to glow in the afternoon sun, holding their beauty `til the end.

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