Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A Perfect Day?


Should you ever ask my mother, the problem-solving and solution-obsessed Aries (Aries rules the head, therefore dilemmas swirl like hurricanes in their heads until they are conquered), for guidance with a problem, she would eventually challenge you to one of her favorite exercises.  To describe—in vivid and obscene detail—your perfect day.  My mother is painfully and excruciatingly detailed.  That energetic gold-green punctuated by chalky white speckling Granny Smith (named for Maria Ann Smith, hybridized in Australia in 1868) didn’t fall far from the tree with me.  So perhaps that is why it’s so effective.  But basically, you map out a day—when you’ll wake up, how long you’ll stay in bed before rising, etc—no detail is too small. 

Do you suppose this buck knows his crown puts him at risk? Uneasy lies the head...
What this never fails to do is remind you that there is no greater luxury than time.  As you go through your dream day, you don’t say I wake up and check my Rolex for the time and hop into my Range Rover for some bourgeois coffee.  It’s all about time.  And as you say things about what you might do in this dreamy, perfect day, you more or less realize they’re easy things.  Universal things.  Some of us love to spend time in the garden first thing in the morning, or commune a bit with nature and our dog.  These things are about having and making time more than they are about anything else.  My perfect day often includes an early rise, my normal coffee and f-e-t-c-h routine with Barbie, and then shopping for ingredients.  A day that is free needs structure for me.  Cooking is obviously how I prefer to create this. 
At this magical time of year, when everything is so abundant and fresh and you can taste summer in thousands of ways, nothing is more inspiring than the farmers market.  What could be the repulsive piecemeal perfume of sticky peaches--and torn corn silk--and pungent onions too fragile to have the dirt brushed off them--all somehow blends beautifully with the overnotes of fresh tomato.  On my dream days, it’s this time of year. 
Much to my delight, my friend Elizabeth of Frontier Farm needed some help at last week's farmers market. I helped her in
the first busy hour of the market.  I think working an hour at a farmers market now qualifies me as a gentleman farmer, right?



It’s been a very busy, wonderful summer.  I just haven’t had the time for a Saturday like this yet.  So with last Saturday completely untouched, I decided to officially close my schedule for the day and take it off.  This is hard to do when self-employed, but important from time to time.  It was kind of the light at the end of the tunnel for what I expected to be a rough week as my little relationship burned out. And it kind of was.  Not bad, but you know there’s always lots of feelings to sort through.  Especially for me because I am so fucking sensitive.  So as I spent the week luxuriating in the melodramatic decadence of heartache, I delighted in thinking of Saturday. I am full-bore on my real estate classes and almost finished here in Ohio.  I have a very promising prospect in Hilton Head that would involve three properties for one family.  So I’ll be deep in classes and testing over the next two or three months and am very excited.  Well by Friday, I was seeing my own absurdity.  That’s always a good mile marker to reach, in my opinion.  When you can look in the mirror and tell yourself you’re full of shit.  Things are more or less back to normal. 

Then I went out to get the mail.  I was expecting one package but there were two.  Shiiiiiit.  This usually means two nights ago I was typing in my Amazon password with one eye closed and wine mouth.  What could it be?! Except I knew that wasn’t it cause I didn’t have time to drink the week before (I know, tragedy).  It is rare to get a truly unexpected present.  About this time last year, I ordered a gravy boat on eBay.  The next day the seller sent me a refund and said actually it had chipped so she didn’t want to send it.  She relisted it discounted, but I just moved on in my search.  So I come in and kind of nervously open the box to find that gravy boat and a note.  What a pleasant surprise.  This set the tone for the rest of my weekend.  I had a fabulous time.  


So, tell me, what's your perfect day? 

70 comments:

  1. Hi, Stephen! I had a rather wonderful day a couple of days ago when my neighbors gifted me with a book, The Wonder of Birds by Jim Robbins. Great book! They see me feeding and watering the birds every days and know how much I love them. (see my IG post for 8/7 @aportmanteau) Only recently discovered you on IG and will definitely be an avid follower!

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    1. Oh what a nice surprise gift! Thank you so much! I'll look into that book!

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  2. waking up is a good start. having slept well is even better. 23 degrees celsius on a very warm late autumn day. walk with millie and my yet to be 100 rescued dogs with on one pissing me off in the park with some uncivic minded behaviour while chatting to friends and family overseas on my phone. coming home to get ready for lunch with friends. auction preview or museum art exhibit. coffee. lunch. coffee. walk and bumping into people in compromising situations and then doing a post game analysis on what just happened. drinks. dinner with family and friends. bath. netflix and chill. book flights and hotels for next trip. millie and husband come to bed.

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    1. Haha waking up is indeed always a great start! Love your day!! Never enough rescue dogs!

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  3. Perfect indeed! Blue and white always a plus!
    May you have more perfect days my friend!
    K

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  4. Thank you for making me think about this....sometimes we need to see what registers on our perfection scale to clarify what we want. My perfect day would be an autumn one in the Pacific Northwest, where we'd be living (not now, but someday). I'd start with breakfast out with my son, proceed to meet up with the rest of the family for autumn activities like picking pumpkins, drinking coffee and enjoying cider donuts. Later on, friends come over and I make a big dinner for everyone with lots of great food and equally great wine and conversation. As night falls, it begins to rain. I could also construct a spring fantasy, but in no way would summer ever be in my perfect day scenario! But I'm glad it's in yours, there's something out there for everyone. Love the gravy boat, BTW. What's a little chip on something that darling? Glad it's found a good home.

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    1. Oh yes! Fall days qualify for their own status of perfection! Like you, I have seasonal versions l! Your day sounds so fabulous! Was telling friends about your winery the other day. I hope they can find the time to visit! It's funny I'm feeling a much stronger travel urge than usual so am kind of thinking about coming out to visit!

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    2. Oh, I do hope you come out to visit! It would be so much fun to get together! And if your friends come out, let me know when and maybe I can be at the winery that day if I'm free. Exciting plans!!

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  5. Love this
    First time commentor long time lurker
    Love your work

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    1. Thank you so much! I really appreciate it!

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  6. dear gentleman farmer,

    it's so nice to hear about honest, good ebay sellers. they are few and far between these days. my wallpaper lady was sooooo kind. so this kinda lifts my spirits.

    i'm so sorry to hear that your new flame has fizzled. that's a bummer. but that whole door closes another opens pops into mind. ugh tho.

    love your photos as per usual they are perfection as is barbie.

    my perfect day would begin by getting up early and a walk and coffee and toast then i'd close the gate to the outside world and just say f-it to the world. i'd watch what i want on tv and eat what i want and nap and do it all over again. i'd worry that i wouldn't be able to sleep that night but in this dream day i would sleep like really deep.

    in that last ig photo is that taken in your house? bc if it is we need to see more of it. xoxo

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    1. Thank you so much! Yeah it's a shame but it was my strong feeling it wasn't right. Even though I was realllllly tempted to just pretend it was. Your perfect day sounds perfect!

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  7. Ahhh...to end with an unexpected gift is really great. My perfect day is a mid-summer's day. I open my eyes to the light wind off the bay blowing the curtains open a bit. I get up and open them and the sun is sparkling and reflecting off the waters of the bay. The house is quiet. I am the only one up. I pour myself a cup of fresh coffee, turn the news on, catch the highlights while sipping that first cup of java. Then, I pour a 2nd cup and go sit outside and listen to the world waking up around me--birds rising in flight off the water--bees starting to hum around my plants---and then the flipping phone rings and I hear, "Mom, could you please pick up (this one or that one) and get them (pick one- volleyball, dance, camp,dentist, friend's house) for me?" That, too, is perfect because I get to spend time with young people that I love! xo Diana

    ps. Chip is noticeable in the photo. Quite a pretty piece, actually.

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    1. Oh your day sounds wonderful! Your view is just so gorgeous! Yes it really inspires me to send some surprise gifts because it is fabulous! Totally get what you mean about the kids! Those casual "non-moment" times with your grandparents are just precious

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  8. I never know what my perfect day is going to be until it happens, as for me perfection requires a bit of surprise! But yours sounds pretty awesome:).

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    1. Haha I totally understand! That's always my point with holidays, there is absolutely no perfection until you look back.

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  9. Sending hugs and kisses to E. What a class act.
    You write beautifully. Though not frequently enough (cough, cough, hint, hint).
    My perfect day would involve reading many newspapers with good (home-brewed because I don't want to get dressed to go out) coffee, preferably with the sun streaming in but it's not too hot. At some point, I would eat a wonderful chopped salad whose ingredients I did not have to chop myself. Or Mexican food. Scratch the salad; now that I've thought of Mexican, that's all I want.
    A little leche-vitrine (window licking, which is the wonderful French way to say window shopping) in the afternoon and then a really good movie. That would be perfect.

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    1. Thank you so much! I'm trying to get back in the routine. I so enjoy writing but it's funny for me how it's either feast or famine. Often I'll sit and start and it's just such garbage I need to close the laptop and try again tomorrow. This can go on several days or weeks or months at a time! Haha. Your day sounds divine!

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  10. Delightful story; delightful gravy boat! I call it "Patina"! Love it!

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  11. Oh wow, that gravy boat screams Ellie to me! I think she's saying I'm still here. Especially since you first originally tried to buy it about this time a year ago. I think about this time a year ago she was making her way back to the states. How lovely and what a really nice surprise!

    My perfect day would be in Europe, at a seaside village. Not too small, not too big, not too touristy but a little bit. I would awake and take a stroll to a quaint cafe to have a simple breakfast and a ton of coffee in an outdoors dining area. Then slowly stroll the streets and wander in and out of the shops and churches, sit and people watch and end the day sitting near the ocean enjoying a wonderful dinner of seafood and wine and a full moon over the ocean.

    Happy to hear your classes are going so well. Uranus is getting ready to enter Taurus next year, I think you getting a jump on it. Really impressive. x Valorie

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    1. Thank you so much! I can't believe I didn't think of that! Especially since the initial is E! Love that!! Your perfect day sounds like perfection to me, too!

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  12. Well, a random act of kindness certainly would set the tone for a perfect day. What a precious blue and white gravy boat, even with the chip. Even more so with the chip, since you can now tell the story of the cool ebay seller who could have dumped it at Goodwill but instead sent it to you for free. =)

    xx,
    natjoon

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    1. Couldn't agree more! Thank you so much!

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  13. wow!
    when the laughter settled as it always has to with your writing and your self evaluations ...
    I can't help but feel that the nice lady has renewed my faith in human kind! how nice of her. and even more so since it was so totally unexpected.
    and after finally SEEING you on Instagram... it won't be long before your gorgeous hunky heart has a chance to be broken again. good lord. yup. you're beautiful alright. xo♥
    and you come with an even gorgeous-er dog and you're a master chef! pray tell WHAT is not to love??? !!!

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    1. haha thank you so much, Tammy! I am nothing if not painfully self aware! That's really how I felt too! Such a wonderful surprise!

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  14. Wake up around 10ish at Prestonfield House. Golf at The Olde Course Saint Andrews. Pick up date (Juliette Binoche) at The Balmoral for a night at the theatre for a play by Tenn' Williams/Chekhov/GBS starring a Ralph Fiennes/Gary Oldman/DD Lewis opposite a Cate Blanchett/Kelly Macdonald/KST with Micheal Gambon, Judi Dench, and Simon Callow in supporting roles. Sup at Hadrian's back at The Balmoral.
    Drinks: strong and plentiful. Food: tasty but irrelevant. Convo: deep, intimate, and effortless.
    Nightcap upstairs in JB's room.

    Sounds like things moving in right direction for SAJ. Your armada of gravy boats will survive a few broadsides.

    Cheers to 'E'. I'm sure she's a lovely lady.

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    1. Ah so you favor a later evening and morning! Haha thank you so much! An evening of drinks and theatre sounds fabulous!

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  15. Ahh, The kindness of strangers can be so touching - I imagine you will treasure that gravy boat now - chips and all.

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  16. What a nice EBay vendor. If you don't use this for it's intended purpose, I can see a pretty flower arrangement in it. Love this time of the year with all the wonderful Farmer's markets. You are adorable and I am so glad you are on Instagram as well as in the blog world. I'm a big fan.
    Nina in Michigan

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    1. Hello, Nina! Thank you so much! I think cranberry sauce will look so beautiful with that blue and white! Haha always dreaming of Thanksgiving...

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  17. Well, dear SAJ, part of my perfect day would be sitting down with a fork and that luscious-looking chocolate cake you just made. To be REALLY perfect, said cake would contain no calories.

    The gravy boat is pretty - a little chip gives it character; to receive it as a gift is the best. I imagine it filled with chicken-fried-steak gravy: in our imagination we don't need to worry about healthy eating. However, a big ole plate of Elizaberh's beautiful heritage tomatoes on the side would be a nice addition.

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    1. If I may brag, the cake was TRUE perfection! Haha thank you so much! Love the way you think!

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  18. Dear Gentleman Gardener,

    I can see no chip. What chip? They're not delphinium blossoms on the cake are they? Those would be deadly poisonous. (even the sap is poisonous if you get it on a scratch on your skin).

    I love detail but I tend to be a spontaneous person which is why little gets done these days. Writing is almost a lost art; the entitled generation wants everything brief. ��Still, I love when a friend emerges from some unknown world and suddenly appears (as suddenly as the swarm of flying ants I just walked among) and says let's go for a drive...

    What is my perfect day? Well, today comes close. My perfect day is sitting in a beautiful garden watching flashy male hummingbirds zip into a feeder, while I realize that summer is drawing to a perfect close. Alas, there were no hummingbirds today. (how are your hummingbirds??? by the way, you didn't report back).

    So not quite perfect. But there were butterflies. Painted Ladies (I love that name –– some entomologist had a sense of humour). I have been taking photos every day of the flowers in my garden against, or for, the time when I may no longer live here. On a whim, I asked a store if they would sell just a few of my photos and to my surprise they liked the photos and said yes. Now I just have to figure out if it is possible to do so without going into bankruptcy for framing. Then a neighbour (he's only lived down the street for 40 years and I just met him) said yes, he'll come to the community dinner. And then, the cyclamen that usually blooms later in fall decided that it was now or never and decided to bloom early. It is an early fall here. It's been hot and the plants are tired. The sour cherries were picked and the hornets did not harass the picker. My gardener stopped by on her bicycle to give me zucchinis (beware of friends bearing zucchinis!). I discovered the utilities company had left off my water from the bill and as I've been watering heavily because of the drought, I decided to phone and ask them. They had left it off because they couldn't believe I spent that much. So when I told them I'd cut back on my showers, on dishwashing and laundry to save the trees, they said I could have till October to pay the water. And so the end of a perfect day (except why didn't I learn something useful like picture framing?). By the way I really enjoyed this blog post! God is in the details, Stephen!




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    1. Hello! I'm so sorry I swore I reported back re hummingbirds but I must not have. Much to the ache of my heart, yes, there are far fewer this year for me. The chip is on the back! No worries, the flowers are edible borage!! And a few bachelors buttons. Your day sounds wonderful and congratulations on the photos! Framing is indeed miserably expensive! But so important, brings a photograph to life. Thank you!!

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  19. I adore farmer's market, since I first discovered them "mumble mumble" years ago. I love buying from the people that grow the food and talking to them. The produce looks gorgeous, as your photos show.I also love blue and white porcelain, perfect with all food, I think. I can't believe that seller sent you the gravy boat. Good to hear you are recovering from your affliction of the heart.

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    1. I do, too! Thank you! Could one ever have too many gravy boats?!

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  20. The greatest luxury is TIME!
    Oh to ponder the perfect day....dead head my abundant David Austin roses...pick a bouquet...sip tea...pat the cats and perhaps have a pedicure....NO WAIT! Go out on our boat or to the cottage and just sit and relax...maybe declutter the bungalow...wash the slipcovers...polish the silver...rearrange stuff in the bungalow and then make a tasty fresh dinner...and read a few chapters in my latest book...
    What about you?

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    1. Sounds wonderful! Have to admit I'm dreaming a bit of a boat lately!

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  21. See this as a thank you from the Universe. I even felt warm and fuzzy on your behalf when I saw that gorgeous gravy boat. I hope E from eBay is equally rewarded for being so nice. x

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    1. Well thank you for thinking I need a thank you! Haha I probably don't but I'll take it :) yes, E is!

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  22. Oh that glorious symphony of a cake - my perfect day would include a cake like that! A very sweet gravy boat from a lovely lady; so good to know there are nice people out there in the world. Thank you for posting, it brightens up my day.

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    1. Thank you! Baking a cake really is such an enjoyable pursuit. Haha I could bake one every day!

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  23. That is a perfect day! I love farmers markets too so that would be the start. And then probably reading magazines somewhere with a view of the ocean. We'd planned to have a lot of days like that on the coast but then our water system quit on us and I ended up spending all of our time driving to Walmart for chlorine and jugs of purified water, and dealing with a bunch of tradespeople. I never did get my perfect day, so perhaps that's why I hold it up as the standard now. I suppose there is always next year... Lovely gravy boat. What a nice surprise.

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    1. Thank you! Oh I'm so sorry to hear that!! Yesssss...always next year!

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  24. MY PERFECT DAY..............coffee, feed animals.....actually thats FIRST as THE PIG will not like to wait than read emails catch up on blogs...............have dinner already FIGURED out and NOT have to go shopping for it!I seem to always be running............
    The perfect Day would be to stay Home and PUDDER in the GARDEN,read and perhaps speak with an INSTAGRAM FRIEND via the TELEPHONE!Than have THE ITALIAN COOK DINNER which only happens if we have guests on the weekend............SO guess my weekly days are not THAT PERFECT but no complaints here.I live a FULL LIFE.................MY SONS could call me MORE OFTEN!XX

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    1. That does sound fabulous! An inhouse Italian to cook is perfect indeed! Now I want to know what the Italian would think of my pastas! Can't believe he doesn't like too many fresh herbs. Practically any sauce I make is almost a pesto with all my herbs!

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  25. I agree with Hostess: It's all about time.

    Right now, the more time I have in the garden, the happier I am. By the way, I planted "Black and Blue" salvia (also "Amistad" salvia, which is similar, though a dark purple), and the hummingbirds are going nuts.

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    1. So glad to hear that! Will look into this other salvia! Thank you!

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  26. Wow! Just saw you on Instagram! You know, Stephen, with your talent, your biting humour, your intelligence and now damn, your looks....those eyes for days....if you can't find the man of your dreams in Ohio then he ain't there; time to move!! You are the total package. And you cook! And you love Barbie!!
    Barbie :) (the straight female human kind)

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    1. Haha thank you so much! You are much, much too kind! Oh I have met my dream men in Ohio and now South Carolina too. I think I might need to just let someone else choose for me because my dream choices...uh don't pan out!

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  27. Fabulous gravy boat! What a wonderful surprise. Your photos are beautiful and now I am craving chocolate cake.
    I like the way you think! Thanks for a sweet post.

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  28. Lovely story about your gravy boat. There is so much kindness in the world despite all the other stuff.

    My perfect day would be a repeat of a day we spend every time we visit Antibes, only this time with our family and grandchildren there to enjoy it with us. A perfect sunny day in early May, warm but not hot, with a very light breeze. A little breakfast on our hotel terrace overlooking the Mediterranean, a warm cheery greeting from our friend the concierge then a walk along the seafront towards Cap d'Antibes. Sitting on a bench for a while to take in the most beautiful view across the sandy beach and the sparkling blue water to the old town of Antibes - the mellow towers, old stone ramparts and terracotta rooftops to the still snowcapped peaks of the Southern Alps. In the distance, but looking so close. Watch the sailing boats in the light breeze moving across the bay and our grandchildren playing on the beach. Then drive to the Hotel Belles Rives where F Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda and other luminaries stayed in their day. Lunch right on the water at their plage restaurant, looking out across their bay in the vague direction of Cannes and close by of Juan les Pins. Rose and seafood and salad. Later our girls will swim in the water near our table. My husband will do a watercolour of the view. A walk into Juan les Pins. A little browse of the boutiques with my DIL while the men and grandchildren watch the boules players in the park. Lingering, leisurely, relaxed, beautiful and so peaceful. Best wishes, Pammie

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    1. Thank you so much!! Oh your day sounds like absolute heaven!! I didn't know your husband was a painter!

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    2. Only as a hobby. He does really beautiful small watercolours - especially when we're on holidays. It's his version of a travel diary. Px

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  29. An cool October Indian summer morning, just before dawn-when the world is a perfect blue. Sitting on the deck having coffee, while the hubs and kiddos sleep - our deck looks out onto 2 acres of greenery, plants, shrubs and trees...with accompanying wildlife. Not leaving the house and grounds; just spending the day painting (furniture), sewing, redecorating &/or purging (closets!). Lunch and dinner on the deck with the family, and desert (I'm eyeing that chocolate cake...) by the fire pit. Watching the stars and with any luck, shooting stars. Thank you Stephen for making me think of this...I'll be putting this plan into action (shooting stars may be optional, though...8~)

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  30. I lull myself to sleep picturing my perfect day. You are so right; the freedom of having time is a big component. I also factor in having just finished a big project that I don't have to think about any more, and something good that is coming soon. I like to mull over menus. The location varies but it's a beautiful, cozy place with no tidying required and all the chores are finished. Lots of good food and friends around the table. And I'm always thinner.
    Mary

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    1. Haha! Me too!! Planning menus is such a delight. Love that part of entertaining. Before any stress!

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  31. I can't even repeat what my perfect day would be. I desperately need your horseradish crouton recipe.

    In_the_capital (on Instagram)

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    1. Haha! Thank you! I'll find the link on Ellie's blog I remember about when it was but not which post

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  32. I had the perfect birthday weekend- great food, my fave peeps, lots of champagne, good hair, beautiful clothes, lots of laughing and awesome jewels. luff you x

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  33. I just had my perfect day this past Friday- set sail from the charming coastal town of Southport, NC for an afternoon of ocean sailing. The weather was perfect and so was the company (family), my handsome son was at the wheel for a few hours, fabulous photo ops, laughter, history lessons on pirates and WW2 German activities in the waters off the coast. Back to the beach house for dinner with everyone participating in the prep- finished off the evening completing a jigsaw puzzle started the night before. The wine was divine and so was the company. Simple pleasures. Your blog is so enjoyable- you are a gifted writer. Best, Kay

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    1. Thank you so much!! Oh my, your day sounds absolutely divine!

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  34. I really enjoyed this post, and am just mad I didn't know you'd written one, as i haven't been on blogs for ages. So: those tomatoes look so, so good. Especially as we're at the tail end of winter here, and it's just been miserably grey, with a bare garden and freezing temperatures. I'm over all the cosy stuff (candles, fire), and just want warm evenings and summer food. But I guess that's the magic of having seasons, that there is always something to look forward to, and constant change to keep us satisfied.
    I like your idea of planning the day. Unfortunately I don't ever get a completely free day to plan, due to my children and their needs coming first at this stage in life (sport, sport and more sport. Kill me now. Then for a change, some birthday party at a horrible indoor centre with trampolines or rock climbing equipment or something that involves me having to stay and chat to parents while trying to block out high pitch excited screaming). But if I did have a clear day it would involve a long walk with my husband through our neighbourhood, something we used to love doing was talking and walking, and maybe an afternoon browsing through antique shops, not with my husband as he has no patience. Alternatively I do like an entire day lying on the sofa reading a book. Essentially my perfect day is fairly dull and old aged centred! Have a lovely weekend S xx

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  35. Nana Diana sent me over and I'm so glad that she did. Perfect for me involves my family, a large body of salt water and no cooking. That gravy boat is outstanding. What a sweet gesture.

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