Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Crazy Monkey Bird... and Others

Over the weekend, we had a nice conversation with some of our guests about the many birds in the area.  During the discussion, we realized that we often hear different birds in the mornings, or in the evenings, or when we are out and about in the yard.  We typically hear them, but we don't actually see them. This lead to the realization that rather than attempting to identify the birds by their common names, we have simply created our own alternate naming system based on their calls... as in, "Oh, there's the Crazy Monkey Bird again!"  Our interest in finding the true names of the birds has been piqued though, and we found the Cornell Lab of Ornithology - All About Birds website to help.  It has some really nice recordings of bird calls, but so far we've only been able to search based on the common name of birds, then try to match up the recorded bird call with what we are used to hearing.  We are about halfway through our list and will report back later... in the meantime, here is our Alternate Bird Naming System (based on their calls)!

Crazy Monkey Bird - You got it! It sounds like a crazy monkey at the zoo!
Birdie - Says "birdie-birdie-birdie-birdie-birdie-birdie" really fast!
The Guilty Bird - Says "I did it" or sometimes it sounds like "He did it", with the emphasis on the "I" or "He"
Wheezy - Like the name... sounds wheezy
Asteroid Bird - Sounds sort of like the gun shooting in the old video game Asteroids (not exactly, but it is the best description I can come up with)

(I'm sure we've got a few more, but that is all I can think of right now.  As we come up with some of the others, we'll add them to the list!)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Pickity Place... A Hidden Gem!

 Although we have heard about it for years, we had never had the opportunity to enjoy the herbal luncheon at Pickity Place.  That is... until just recently when Paula went with a friend and her two young teen daughters.

(There's a really big tree right in front of the cottage... it is very interesting, but makes it a little difficult to get a good picture of the whole cottage.)
Pickity Place is a quaint 1786 cottage in Mason, NH that was the model for Elizabeth Orton Jones' illustrations for Little Red Riding Hood in 1948.  The cottage sits on top of a hill, down a wooded drive, and is surrounded by acres of herb and perennial gardens.  Open year-round, the main attraction is the 5-course gourmet luncheon with a menu changes that monthly and features herbs harvested daily from their own gardens.  Pickity Place also features a cute country gift shop, a garden shop and greenhouse, and ample opportunity to unwind by wandering in the gardens or feeding the sheep.

Inside the cottage, they've got one of the rooms set-up with the big, bad wolf in Grandmother's bed.
We arrived just shortly before our 12:45 PM seating and checked-in at the dining room, then waited outside in the garden with others for a few minutes.  A dinner bell beckoned us in and we were seated in a sunroom/solarium that made us feel like we were actually eating out in the garden.  The 5-course themed luncheon menu for June included a Tomato Herb Spread, Creamy Broccoli with Smoked Gouda Soup, Quinoa and Black Bean Salad, Parmesan Herb Bread, and Strata Bolognese or Spinach Flan with Caramelized Vidalia Onions, both options served with Sesame Green Beans, and a Strawberry and Chocolate Custard Tart for dessert.  The girls were definitely skeptics when they heard it was an herbal luncheon, and even my friend accused me of tricking her into going to a vegetarian restaurant, but all were happy when the server described the Strata Bolognese on the menu as "similar to lasagna, but with bread layers instead of noodles".  (There is a Kid's Menu with two options: Sandwich, Fruit, and Cookies, or a Half Portion of the Entree, Soup or Salad, and Cookies, but the girls were game for the strata so they didn't have to rely on the alternative.)  For a beverage, we all had the lavender lemonade, but mocha coffee and orange herbal tea (hot or cold) were among the other options.  The portions were not huge, but given the number or courses, the serving sizes were just right and everything was delicious!

After lunch, we explored the gardens and shopped in the gift shop and greenhouse (I bought a rosemary plant for my kitchen).  I also picked up their newsletter and discovered they host craft and painting workshops onsite (including their luncheon, of course).  Some of the upcoming classes include making lavender wands (in July) and oak leaf & herbal wreaths (in September).  Sounds like a great reason to go back soon! That, and the fact that their upcoming menus looks really good too!

The Greenhouse and Garden Shop