Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Winter Harvest--Roses & Basil, and Remodeling Update

Dear friends,

Although our average first frost date is around November 22, we had an early one last night, courtesy of our Canadian friends.  We have an excellent local weather website, so knew it was going to get colder.  By 9 a.m. yesterday, we had ferocious winds that I knew would knock all the gorgeous blooming antique roses off the bushes.  I had plans for all those roses--making potpourri for Christmas gifts.  The wind was a huge surprise.

So, out I go with an old laundry basket, and first I collected the basil--a very tender herb that we use quite a bit in cooking.  I always dry a lot of it and use it in my special Italian mix I use for pasta sauces.  I harvested enough to fill the laundry basket, grabbed some sage while I was at it (for Thanksgiving cooking) came inside, dumped it and went back out.  By then, the temperature had dropped drastically, with the wind howling.

After an hour, I decided enough was enough, and brought it all inside. I let it sit overnight, then tackled it this morning.  My dining room was filled with the scent of fresh basil and heirloom roses.

I scrounged around and found vases for some of the roses and scattered them around the kitchen and dining room.

A bouquet with six different heirloom roses

Roses on the kitchen window sill

I bundled one big bunch of the basil with a rubber band and hung it from a cupboard door.  It's from a new variety, a columnar basil, and it makes nice long branches full of leaves.  It has a very heavy sweet Italian basil scent and taste.

A new columnar variety of Italian basil

Roses are everywhere!  Unless you've done it,  you can't imagine the pleasure of sinking your hands into a huge crockery bowl full of fresh rose petals.  I gently pull the petals off the roses and put them into bowls or onto flat plates and "toss" them gently as they dry. I found that the metal colander works well since it has ventilation holes.  I'm going to look for a larger version of this one.

Meanwhile, on to the remodeling!

Original pine beadboard ceiling over front porch

Meanwhile, Husband continues work on the outside of our 1930s cottage/bungalow.  All of the metal siding has been ripped off the front by now. One wonderfully exciting discovery was that the original antique pine beadboard was intact over the front porch!  It will be a pain to sand, but will look wonderful when it's done.  I haven't decided whether to paint it "Haint Blue" or not. Supposedly, according to Southern folklore, blue paint the color of the sky will deter wasps AND keep the haints/boogey men/evil spirits away.  Worth a try, I say! :-)

One thing we've wanted to do since we bought the house was to remove one of the front doors. Yes, we have two front doors. One led into the front parlor, kept nice for visiting clergymen, and the other was for the homeowners--farmers.  Since one of those entries leads into our bedroom now, we decided to remove the door, patch the hole in the front and then continue our painting.

This is the door from the inside. Over the last two years, it's been covered with a temporary patch of a sheet of blue foam and some Masonite on the inside, with an armoire in front of it, and the door still showing on the outside.

The door and jambs were removed and the hole filled in with plywood.  Over that, on the inside, we added wallboard, taped and floated it, added baseboards made from plywood to match the original ones, and will texture it and paint it the color of the bedroom walls.

Luckily, when we tore down the rotten greenhouse in the backyard, we saved the original small ship-lap siding, also made from the antique pine. 

Alas, remember how I mentioned the horrible wind?  Guess what happened to the original door. The day before, the wind was non-existent.  Neither of us had a second thought about leaving it on the porch.  We figured it was safe enough until we could make a space in the garage to store it.  But with the wind that came up out of nowhere the next morning. . .

I heard a CRASH and wondered what the cat had done. Yep, smithereens.  I guess we're lucky we haven't broken more than this over the last two years.  Luckily, we don't really *need* the door, although I was thinking of using it in my backyard cottage studio. We can replace the glass, but it won't be the original wavy antique glass that I so love.

Will post more pics as progress is made.  I hope you're enjoying this blog and reading the story of our garden and 1930s home.

Happy trails from Texas,

bobbi c.

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