Life is Bloomin’ Good….

We are in the midst of enjoying a lovely holiday back in the U.K.  A much needed holiday but I haven’t done much cooking.  Instead we’ve been enjoying the diesel gala and walking our pins off.  The weather has been absolutely wonderful and I’ve taken the opportunity to indulge in a bit of photography with my SLR.  

With the gala there were some pretty sweet setups with cameras, my husband teased me saying I had lens envy.  😊.  True enough!  Though this post is a quick one to share some photos I took of flowers, I will be doing a post on the gala.  


The cat is a neighbourhood cat that is just desperate for belly rubs.  Soft thing.  Tomorrow we’re popping over to France by ferry. We’re in need of wine.

Villandry and Gardens to be Jealous of…

Hard to believe but the Chateau of Villandry was once up for demolition.  Fortunately Joachim Carvallo and his wife Ann Coleman, a Spaniard and an American, bought it in 1906.  Pretty remarkable that they took this on but take it on they did.  They refurbished the buildings and uncovered and brought back to life the gardens.  And what an amazing place it is.

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So of course it was a must on our list.  It was well worth the trip.  They have acres of formal gardens, both vegetable and flowers.  I can’t lie, I’m envious of how well their veg patch is doing given theirs seems to be surviving without rabbit damage.  Unlike ours!

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The formal part of the garden “spells” out tender love, passionate love, fickle love, and tragic love.

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I do wonder how the family, who still lives there, find ways to enjoy the gardens.  I would find it difficult to have to stay out of sight until the masses have left.  But it would be a wonderful place to stroll with a glass of wine.  There are lovely spots to find whether it be the stone watchdog or the graceful swan swimming by.

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But my favourite spot was the sun garden.  I much prefer the gardens that follow the English cottage garden, rather than formal, straight, and narrow gardens.  Letting the flowers and plants do what they are meant to do naturally.

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One thing I really enjoyed while in France was the wonderful food you can get at the tourist stops.  At Villandry they had a restaurant that used the veg from the kitchen gardens.  I had a smoked duck fillet salad with roasted pine nuts and a violet vinaigrette for a dressing.

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It was delicious.  It was such a great day with the kids.  We created so many good memories on this trip that will last a lifetime.

Time to Start Enjoying the Bounty of the Garden…

We were lucky to have a good friend take care of our gardens with her kids. She even sent pictures to us! I got a kick out of that. 😄

Despite seeing the photos it was surprising how well some of the plants were doing. The tomato plants and pepper plants struggled a bit when we planted them. The pepper plants didn’t seem to like the Epsom salts at first. What difference a few weeks make! The peppers are thriving and the tomato plants shot up big and strong and we will have a bigger harvest this year than last.

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I love how tomatillos look like lanterns whilst they are growing.

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I never appreciated how beautiful the flowers of vegetables can be until we seriously started growing them. Green beans have one of my favourites.

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Our son helped make a delicious black currant, gooseberry, and apple crumble. So good! Our little bushes are bursting this year much to my husband’s delight, he loves the tartness of these berries.

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Our flower garden survived the huge hacking we did to reclaim the garden. It seems counterintuitive to do that but the proof is in the pudding. The garden is happy and thriving sharing a beautiful bouquet of blooms.

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It’s turning into a great year. 😊

I Blame my Daughter – Why I’m Hooked on Instagram

It started innocently enough.  My daughter and I were in the car chit chatting about various things and I asked her what her friends were picking for social media.  My daughter is in middle school and at that age where it starts to get crazy with all the things her friends are doing.  I’d read articles how Facebook might not be “cool” so I was curious.  She mentioned Instagram was big in her group.  Instagram?  That photo thing?  I knew about it of course but not in a social media context.  Clearly I had to do some research.

The cool thing about my kids is they never do the “but everyone else is doing it!” whine so we do try to do things for them when it is age appropriate.  And they know the rules.  If they are on the internet guess who they get to be friends with?  Me!  Or at least one of the parents.  🙂  So I thought hey, I’ll check it out, join, then have my husband set up the laptop in the den for her to use.  She doesn’t have a smartphone or an iPod Touch.  I mean those things are $200!  Which boggles my mind when I see how many kids out there have them.

First roadblock.  You need a smartphone.  Nuts.  There had to be a way.  I thought well maybe I could put her pics on my iPhone and she could use that.  Oh no, pics only go one way.  So after much digging and looking about I figured out we could use my android tablet.  Woot!

Second roadblock.  Apparently contrary to the belief you can load pics from your computer directly to the tablet via the usb, you can’t.  You have to use the mini SD card.  And a SD card adapter because my computer doesn’t take the mini size.

Third roadblock.  I have no idea how old her phone is as her mother gave it to her used.  (I’m the bonus mum, lucky me!) But like all cameras I’ve hooked up to my computer we could get the pics off of it.  Except hers.  Facepalm.  The computer didn’t have the drivers for it.  So it got passed to my husband who works with computers for a living. (thank goodness)  He figured out she had a mini SD card in her phone.  So to make this work she has to remove the SD card and put it in the tablet.  Then for the tablet to read it you have turn off the tablet and turn it back on.

And we were finally in business!  And through all this I really got hooked onto Instagram.  I love taking photos and am having a blast with the filters.  It is a really quick way for me to get a creative fix during the day.  I thought I’d share some of what I’ve taken so far.

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I love taking pictures of flowers but this one of the bleeding heart is my favourite.

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This weekend they had a festival at the Wyman Tavern to showcase the 1700’s and there some really interesting things to take pictures of.  Including the fruit and veg they used as dyes.

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I did find an interesting bit about Instagram.  When you use filters it saves a copy for you as a square.  But if you just upload without filters it doesn’t save a square copy so this one I uploaded didn’t change parameters.

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I am curious if any of you do Instagram and what you’ve found.  A big question I have is does it drain your phone battery?  My battery life is terrible all of a sudden and wonder if it is because of the app.  I did keep my username as ourgrowingpaynes if any of you would like to see what else I’ve posted.  And let me know yours as I’d prefer to follow those that I’m familiar with and we have similar interests!  🙂

My 100th Post and a Big Thank You!

Can’t believe it, my 100th post!  It has been so much fun so far getting to know new people and sharing our blogs with each other.  It has proven to be a great creative outlet for me.  So I want to thank everyone for their support and kind comments.  I look forward to the next 100 and meeting more fellow bloggers.

But as a thank you I like to give flowers so here are a few pictures from my garden that I took last year.  A bit of a break from the winter if you will.  🙂

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Thanks again everyone.  🙂