Summer – FINALLY!

IMG_3843

Hi Dear Readers! I hope this finds you having beautiful, warm summer weather and that you are staying cool! Here in New England, it is summer – finally! Still, it has been sort of a “strange” summer so far. However, in true farmgirl spirit, when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade (or strawberry jam)! 

It was a funny start to the month, with the strange cloud of smoke that descended over our area from wildfires in Canada. I don’t remember ever seeing anything like it, but a cousin in California told me, sadly, it is a phenomenon that they deal with more often than they would like. My heart goes out to anyone who has to deal with fires and smoke like we did this month! 

For a few days, at first, I worried that something was wrong in the house. I kept smelling a strange “electrical” burning smell. Faint as it was, I would get a whiff, not knowing what it was. Outside, when opening the chickens or gardening, I would smell it again, only stronger. 

Our air quality was awfull - something I have never seen in the 30 years of living up North. Nearby New York City was encased in yellow air - and held the day’s world’s worst air quailty!

Our air quality was awfull – something I have never seen in the 30 years of living up North. Nearby New York City was encased in yellow air – and held the day’s world’s worst air quailty!

Then, one morning, the cloud of smoke was so bad that it blanketed us like a too-heavy, lofty quilt. The sun was a funny orange color, and the burned smell was inescapable.

This was the noon-day sun over my house on the worst day of the Canadian wildfire smoke.

This was the noon-day sun over my house on the worst day of the Canadian wildfire smoke.

The warmth we usually feel on a summer day was missing, and the happy sounds of birds was gone. Outside, it was eerily silent. As I met a friend for lunch and then ran errands, the smoke was all anyone could talk about, and it made everyone feel uneasy. It felt like we were in a scary Stephen King novel. 

With the bad air outside, it was a good time to spruce up things I had been wanting to get to for awhile. I love the little bottles of acrylic paint sold at Michael’s. Just over a dollar a piece, I use the paint for all sorts of things, and love that they also make an outdoor formula. 

I love my summer “welcome” sign, painted on a repurposed antique cabinet door. After a while, the paint faded, but now it looks as vibrant as ever.

I started freshening the paint from the bottom up.

I started freshening the paint from the bottom up.

“After”, it looks as vibrant as ever, and will last a few years more. I also gave my watering can a fresh coat of spray paint using the color “Tractor Red”.

“After”, it looks as vibrant as ever, and will last a few years more. I also gave my watering can a fresh coat of spray paint using the color “Tractor Red”.

I picked up this little tin sign for my “shabby chic” porch several years ago at Tractor Supply. Meant to be used inside, it had faded considerably. After repainting, it looks better than ever!

IMG_3638IMG_3639

Inside, I love to welcome summer from Memorial Day to Labor Day with classic summer red, white, and blue decor. I picked up this Basketville basket several years ago in an antique shop in upstate New York, but the paint had faded so much that it was looking more shabby than chic. I decided to retouch the paint. Mixing the color wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be; the red stripes match the non-faded stripes inside the cover.

IMG_3782

The stars were hard to do, and looked like whoever painted them originally had done so freehand. I am happy with the result. I think it looks much better now, don’t you?

I also fixed up a new doll. A fellow doll collector knows that my favorite dolls are the life-sized Playpal dolls, so she gifted me a “Patti Playpal clone companion” doll, made by Allied Eastern in the late fifties, early sixties. This poor doll came to me in pieces, with one leg off, oxidized eyes, missing face paint, and a wig in a terrible state that a previous “mommy” had glued on.

IMG_3687

I was able to reattach her leg, fix her eyes and wig, and using what I had on hand, dress her up. I think she turned out so cute, and decided to name her “Molly”.

Finally, the smoke lifted, but we still had many clouds and cooler than normal weather. I worried that my garden would fail. However, it has turned out to be a great gardening month. While the heat was not as intense, the UV rays still made it through, and the result was a month of beautiful blooms!

The tulip trees bloomed beautifully this year.

The tulip trees bloomed beautifully this year.

The roses are in full bloom.

The roses are in full bloom.

IMG_3651

This peony is so vibrant in fuschia. The cooler temps and dry beginning to the month produced beautiful peonies this season.

This peony is so vibrant in fuschia. The cooler temps and dry beginning to the month produced beautiful peonies this season.

This bouquet of peonies almost looks like silk! The white ones are from my garden, the pink a gift from another gardener.

This bouquet of peonies almost looks like silk! The white ones are from my garden, the pink a gift from another gardener.

My daughter surprised me with a big, beautiful pot of sunflowers!

My daughter surprised me with a big, beautiful pot of sunflowers!

IMG_3893

The veggie garden is so full and lush this year. We have had a bumper crop of snow peas, and the tomatoes made it through the cool nights, growing up nicely.

The veggie garden is so full and lush this year. We have had a bumper crop of snow peas, and the tomatoes made it through the cool nights, growing up nicely.

Morning’s pickins of radishes and peas for tonight’s salad

Morning’s pickins of radishes and peas for tonight’s salad

Summer also means new babies. At home, we have a new batch of bunnies. Cute, although I did feel a bit annoyed when this little Bunny Baby ate all my cilantro and parsley!

IMG_3878

Little Mama Deer and her sweet twin fawns visit everyday. Sometimes she stands in the cool of the shade on the hill in front of the house to nurse – such a sweet, good mama!

IMG_3887

IMG_3889

With warmer weather, comes insects. I was happy to see a native lady beetle while on a walk.

IMG_3729

However, this bald faced hornets nest did NOT make me happy! One dreary recent Saturday morning, I headed out to the camper to get something. When I was done, I went back to the camper, and as I was locking up, I heard a strange buzzing noise.

NOPE NOPE NOPE! Nasty little spawns of Satan

NOPE NOPE NOPE!

Right next to my face, several hornets were hovering – how I did not get stung is a miracle. I truly believe my Guardian Angel was watching out for me. The nest was right under the porch light on the camper. Not there the day before, it was already pretty large. These nasty little Spawns of Satan are in the yellow jacket family. They are extremely territorial and aggressively protect their nests. They also have the ability to squirt venom into a perceived predator’s eyes causing blindness! While waps are considered beneficial, they are not something I want around, especially on my camper!

I love that in summer, I get to spend more time with my girlfriends. In between gardening, household chores, and running my yearly week-long summer camp, I’ve enjoyed walks with my friend Valerie, lunch out with another doll collector, high tea at a local tea room with my doll club, and had my friend Alison over for brunch before she embarked on a new adventure in her Pink Majik truck and camper.

IMG_3608

Family is so important, but I also think it is important to connect with our friends, even if it is for a quick cup of coffee.

On a nice, hot afternoon, my longtime friend Susan and I decided to go pick strawberries, something neither one of us had done since we had gone with our kids, way back when they were in elementary school.

Everyone needs a friend who makes her laugh! Susan and I can have fun just running mundane errands together!

Everyone needs a friend who makes her laugh! Susan and I can have fun just running mundane errands together!

Since the high heat and humidity was not in full force yet, it was a great day to pick the last of the season’s strawberries at a favorite local farm. 

IMG_3844

IMG_3826

We had so much fun picking strawberries. We laughed at how it was so much easier to do almost a decade ago, when our children were small.

IMG_3835

IMG_3830

Despite popping knees and aching backs, we managed to pick a large basket of strawberries that we later split. 

IMG_8973

IMG_3842

While Jones Family Farm in Monroe, Connecticut is best known for their Christmas trees (that’s where we have picked ours up the last several years), they also have pick your own strawberries, apples in the fall, and a winery.

IMG_3848

I had never visited the winery before, but we decided to check it out (I don’t really drink alcohol, but I do love a good strawberry wine on a summer evening).  I picked up a bottle of their sparkling strawberry wine. We will open it in a few weeks to celebrate my daughter’s 21st birthday. (Can you believe it, dear readers, that my baby girl will be 21? She was only eight when I started blogging here)!

IMG_3854

In the Jones winery, they were also selling beautiful little flower bouquets. There is just something so sweet about flowers in casual glass jars, so I treated Susan and I each to a lovely summer bouquet. 

IMG_3849

We then stopped at another favorite local farm, Oronoque Farms, famous for their homemade pies. We had a delicious, homemade ice cream cone before buying pies for later.  I chose strawberry chiffon, so dreamy! Light and refreshing, it reminds me of the strawberry chiffon pie my mama made when I was a little girl. 

On the ride home, the car smelled so delicious – the sweet scent of fresh strawberries filling the cabin. 

The secret to great jam is fresh fruit and love!

The secret to great jam is fresh fruit and love!

After the fun day, at home I made a big batch of my strawberry jam. It is probably the best jam I have ever made – you just can’t beat the taste of fresh, yummy strawberries, freshly hand picked!

The soupy humidity makes Trooper and me frizzy!

The soupy humidity makes Trooper and me frizzy!

This week, we have had rain, and soupy humidity, but I’m glad it is summer. 

The birds have returned, the flowers are in bloom, and the lightning bugs have returned, reminding me of little fairies in sweet vintage story books. Glow, little fireflies, glow!

IMG_3920IMG_3898

I hope this finds you all having a nice summer, too. Trooper says, “remember to stop and smell the flowers!”

IMG_2794

And now, dear readers…I have a favor to ask. If you have read my blog for as long as I have had the privilege of writing for MaryJanesFarm as the Suburban Farmgirl, you have virtually watched my daughter grow up!

MaryJane, Me and Audrey, 2010

My daughter, Audrey and me with MaryJane, 2010

Would you mind leaving a comment this time for Audrey, since it is soon her 21st birthday? I’d love to surprise her with a flood of fun birthday wishes for her big day! Thank you all!

Happy 21st Birthday to my baby girl! You are the best daughter and my best friend! I love you!!!

Happy 21st Birthday to my baby girl! You are the best daughter ever and my best friend! I love you!!!

IMG_3933

Wishing you all a safe, Happy Fourth of July! 

Until Next Time… Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

 

  1. Margaret Hofknecht says:

    Twenty-One is such a special birthday! Hope you have a lovely day!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Dear Marge,thank you! It is a very special one. Have a happy fourth! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole (and Audrey)

  2. Margaret Hofknecht says:

    Have a lovely birthday, sweet lady!

  3. Patricia Maiolo (Patty) says:

    I enjoy your farm girl blog. So Sincere wishes for a Happy 21st Birthday Audrey!!!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Patty, thank you so much! I am so glad you enjoy the blog. Thank you for the birthday wishes for my daughter. I can’t wait to show her all the comments! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  4. Bonnie Iscrupe says:

    You have definitely grown into a beautiful young woman. It is so nice that your Moma shared your growing up with all of us. Happy 21st birthday, and many many more!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Dear Bonnie, thank you so much. It’s been fun having a “farmgirl” as a mom! Your wishes mean alot. Farmgirl Hugs, Audrey

  5. Denise says:

    A very happy 21st birthday to you Audrey! May your years ahead be happy, healthy and filled with adventures!

    Your strawberry excursion looks like so much fun Nicole! Have a wonderful summer. Can you believe it is the end of June already? This year is going by fast.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Dear Denise, that is so sweet. Thank you so much for your well wishes! Farmgirl Hugs, Audrey

      Hi Denise! I hear ya! It seems that we should just be in the start of June; I guess because the weather has been so different this year. Time sure does fly by. Have a Happy Fourth! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  6. Terry Steinmetz says:

    Happy 21st Birthday, sweet Audry. May God bless you today, tomorrow, and for the rest of your journey. ❤️

  7. Julie says:

    You have been BUSY…
    So interesting to hear your tips and tricks.
    Wish we had a Michael’s close, so I could check out those paints your using on your cute signs!
    Love the wildlife around your home. It’s so inviting like a park…
    The mother deer and her twins are adorable.
    It’s nice to have Summer here…

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Julie, thank you! I am glad that summer has found you all, now, too. The weather this year has been strange, but today the sun is shining and it is warm and perfect! I wonder if other craft stores have similar acrylic paint? Maybe Walmart, in the craft section. It is acrylic craft paint in little bottles. Works so well on a variety of things. The wildlife is such a big reason I love living in New England! The little twins are so cute, they make my day whenever I see them. Happy summer to you, sweet friend. My Prairie Pin Pouch is getting lots of use now that it summer! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  8. Lise says:

    Happy Birthday to an awesome daughter of an awesome mom. Enjoy 21!

  9. Susan Burbank says:

    Happiest of birthdays Audrey!!!

  10. Diane Ryan says:

    Thankful I was able to see you growing up from 13 to today, Audrey! Time flew from when I met you, your Mom and I and my friend all toured gardens together with fellow Master Gardeners! You are a beautiful talented and sweet young woman with a love for family, music, reptiles and fashion among other things. It’s wonderful to see your close friendship with your Mom. Hope you have fun celebrating your 21st Birthday and a blessed year ahead!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Dear Diane, thank you so much. That’s so sweet! Hope we see you at this year’s Christmas bash! Thanks again. Love, Audrey

  11. Marge Turner says:

    Happy Birthday Wishes to your sweet daughter Audrey! I haven’t been reading your blog that whole time but I feel a bit of a connection since you lovingly cared for my little Ginny doll for me. We’ve had the smoky days here in Wisconsin too and not enough rain but I’m loving summer anyway, strawberry and raspberry jam this week made life sweet. Our little farm is providing for us again. Farmgirl blessings to you.
    Marge

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Marge, it is always so wonderful to hear from you! I wish we could send you some of our rain! We have never had so much as we have the past two weeks. Audrey’s birthday was great, but it has been raining almost every day this entire month! Between that and the smoke, it has been a bit more effort than usual with the garden, but on the bright side, I am not outside watering as much! Much love your way (and to Ginny)! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  12. Tammy L Thomson says:

    Happy Birthday 21st Birthday Audrey!! Stay sweet–like your Mom 😉
    Thank you both for letting us into your lives and to Nicole for sharing your always inspiring and uplifting blogs
    My fav this time is the photo of Trooper smelling the daisy.
    Love to you all! Tammy

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Tammy! Thank you for the birthday wishes, and the nice words! We are both glad you enjoyed the blog. Hope you are enjoying your summer! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole and Audrey

  13. Pam says:

    Great pictures and beautiful jam, enjoyed your blog.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *