mower tune ~ up, from a woman’s perspective…

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Last week I decided it was high time to spend real time with my 2008 Toro lawn mower. It was a splurge back then, as I chose the Personal Pace with electric start. After all, I am a single gal who is not getting any younger…ahem…and mowing commences here in central Virginia by April Fool’s Day. Back in 2000, I reduced my turf size to 3,000SF, and although a small patch, it requires weekly cuts taking about 15 minutes. I-CAN-DO-THIS! It’s about time, Toro moaned!

This year’s mower tune-up began by rolling the machine out of the shed, hooking up the charger and cord to the battery…

My little powerhouse with wheels...

My little powerhouse with wheels…

While the mower charged, I decided that the filter and spark plug needed changing too. Simple task, yes? Way overdue grumbled Toro!
Now I am an intuitive gal, and the filter was straight forward; a screwdriver was required to loosen the fastener, which required a trip to the basement for that tool. Easy-peasy. With filter in hand, I drove to the home improvement store where dazzling mowers are proudly on display. I did not have the special tool required to remove the spark plug, yet I thought surely the guys at the store could walk me through this step and sell me the plug I need. Hah!

what is it about spark plugs???

what is it about spark plugs???

Without assistance, I found the filter, yet the spark plug was another story! Once I hunted down a salesperson, we both scoured the shelves of spark plugs. While scratching his head, Mr. Sales Guru headed to the computer for assistance, where hundreds of choices appeared on the screen! Hundreds! Still scratching, the man confessed he could not help me, and without the original plug, I was out of luck. Ahem…
This gal resides in the utopian countryside, and I was not willing to retrace my steps, and add twenty miles this venture in order to retrieve the plug! Instead, I drove down the by-pass to a great little spot named Charlottesville Power Equipment. Why did I not know about this place years ago??? I drive by it often on the way to the bank, yet what this store contained never enticed me to it’s entrance…until this day! WOW-ZER!

this place is alive with all kinds of mowers, cutting tools, phew, a man's mecca!

this place is alive with all kinds of mowers, cutting tools, phew, a man’s mecca!

I was the only gal in sight!

I was the only gal in sight!

The day I strolled into this hot spot, I was exasperated, I will admit. Why should a little-old spark plug be so difficult??? Within minutes of entering the store, I had both counter personnel laughing out loud — loudly — as almost falling on the floor laughing. Once composed, the two men decided which plug I should take home. $2.49 please.

Then the topic of fuel came up… “I always use Shell”, I proudly announced. Furrows quickly appeared on both men’s brows…”Ethanol is ruinous to mowers, ma’am” one man offered. “It eats up your engine…mowers are not designed for Ethanol…ma’am…” OMG! Here we go. My poor little, hardworking Toro! I am slowly killing it! It’s guts surely dissolving before my very eyes! My hard-earned dollars melting away with each electric start! OMG!

After the second set of laughter quieted, these gents handed me a list of five places where I could find NON-ETHANOL fuel within a fifty-mile radius! OK, now field trips are required for filling my little gas can…yippie! I was instructed to pour the old gas into my vehicle, and go find the nearest NON-tank of the good stuff. Another day, another errand added to my full spring schedule.

Once home with my filter and spark plug, my generous, super-human neighbor who-has-every-tool-imaginable, loaned me his super-duper spark plug extracting tool.
I CAN DO THIS! In a flash, filter and plug were installed.

By now the battery was charged and all that was left before the Toro’s 2014 maiden voyage across the turf, was the trip into the hinterland to find the NON-ETHANOL juice.

By now, you are yawning or laughing. I admit I learned a lot from this exercise — not that I needed to know all this trivia — yet days like this are only the tip of the iceberg where home ownership is concerned. Just like I know more than I ever wanted to know about septic tanks, surface water, and the size of gutters…

Happy Spring chores to you too. ;-)

Copyright © 2014 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

in love again…

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It is that time of year, when I am about at my end with winter.
Nearly ready to take a long walk off a short pier. My rescue?
My collection of heirloom daffodils emerge to save the day.
Below is a collection of recent cuttings — please enjoy.
I am in love again…

love is blooming all around me

love is blooming all around me

sweet faces fill my office with delightful scent

sweet faces fill my office with delightful scent

these beauties knock me out

these beauties knock me out

non-stop beauty this week

non-stop beauty this week

this precious wonder is named Minnow

this precious wonder is named Minnow

close up ~ notice the minute tip on the petal. The design department worked overtime on this detail!

close up ~ notice the minute tip on the petal. The design department worked overtime on this detail!

lovelies in my mother's old vase

lovelies in my mother’s old vase

this is the companion vase

this is the companion vase

I hope these images cheer your day.
Freshly inspired to head off into another growing season here in central Virginia,
I daresay, hurrah!

Copyright © 2014 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

ode to the American Robin…

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Today was a snow day — again.

embellished teuter

embellished teuter

My heart went out the hundreds of American Robins who are ambling here, eagerly awaiting spring in central Virginia. A few days ago when temps were in the 60′s, I marveled at the hundreds who hunted at dusk in the turf surrounding my home. They roost in the 135 Leyland cypress surrounding my property. 

Turdus migratorius ~ or the American Robin

Turdus migratorius ~ or the American Robin

Today, with five inches of fresh, wet snow covering any hope of turf morsels, numerous Robins scrambled for any scrap when many discovered my feeders. Normally Robins prefer fat, slithering, wet earthworms, yet during conditions such as today, they attempted to choke down Nandina berries and grains from the wild bird feeders. Forced to plan B, they quickly became disgruntled, aggressive, and downright ruffled…only the Red Bellied Woodpecker held his place at the feeders when Robins descended.

a very disgruntled American Robin

a very disgruntled American Robin

I could not resist, as dusk approached, to capture images. Forgive the handheld, through glass photos...

I could not resist, as dusk approached, to capture images. Forgive the handheld, through-glass photos…

 Robust robins await,
the snow, the thaw, the spring.
Today they all scold.

noble feathered display

noble feathered display

rear view of pondering robin

rear view of pondering robin

all plumped up in order to stay warm

all plumped up in order to stay warm

under the snow laden row of cypress
robins flick, flick, flick
their strong beaks,
rearranging the mulch
in search of the illusive earthworms,
who sleep just below the dormant surface.

Days at home with wild birds are very special.
The gift of observation is precious.
Time spent with them feed my creativity and poetic spirit.
I am glad to share my day with you.

Copyright © 2014 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

homage to Herbes de Provence

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Today is Friday. A. Cold. Friday. Old man winter refuses to head north, so I decided to create a quick, hot, healthy dish while tipping my chapeau to seven generations of French ancestors and to an underused herb — Herbes de Provence.

an underused herb in American cooking ~

an underused herb in American cooking ~

begin with organic ingredients ~ skinless, boneless chicken thighs ( 1.25 lbs.), 32 oz  Imagine veggie broth, 1/2 pound each ~ baby carrots and red garnet sweet potato, peeled and cubed.

begin with organic ingredients ~ skinless, boneless chicken thighs (1.25 lbs.), 32 oz. Imagine veggie broth, 1/2 pound each ~ baby carrots and red garnet sweet potato, peeled and cubed.

1/2 lb. of pearl onions add a nice touch

1/2 lb. of pearl onions add a nice touch

Empty the quart of veggie broth into a medium stock pot.
Add one heaping tablespoon of Herbes de Provence. Bring to a boil.
One piece at a time, add chicken thighs, directly from package.
Reduce heat to medium and gently poach chicken for six minutes.
Off heat, let the chicken continue to poach for another six minutes, covered.

poaching chicken thighs

poaching chicken thighs on stove for six minutes, then off heat, continue to poach another six minutes

Remove chicken from broth, and place on a nearby plate.

poached chicken thighs

poached chicken thighs ~ oh, so tender

Strain broth through a China cap or other straining device and return broth to pot. This step will remove most the herbes, yet some remain on chicken.
Return broth to a boil and add onions, sweet potatoes, carrots, and a chunk of fennel (I happened to have one in the fridge). Reduce to a simmer, partially covered, for six minutes.

Simmering veggies

simmering veggies

While the veggies simmer, pull any fat off chicken thighs (there won’t be much) and cut/tear meat into smaller bits. Why thighs, you might wonder? Thigh meat has considerable flavor and it is oh, so tender!

tender bits of thigh

tender bits of thigh

When veggies are tender, using a spider, remove them to a plate.

strained veggies

strained veggies

Return broth to the original pot and bring back to the boil.
Add 2 heaping tablespoons of Arrowroot using a whisk to quickly incorporate into hot broth. Arrowroot is another underused thickener in America, yet its silky texture cannot be matched, and it does not need to be “cooked in” as flour or corn starch do.
When broth is nicely thick, in about one minute, add 1 teaspoon of fine salt and return chicken and all veggies to the pot to just warm.
Serve up into warm bowls.

finished dish ~ silken goodness your entire family will enjoy.

finished dish ~ silken goodness your entire family will enjoy.

This mild recipe will feed four nicely and I suggest serving it with a crusty baguette or lightly toasted Tuscan Pane. I considered making dumplings for this dish, and if I had not been so hungry, I think dumplings would be delightful. Joy of Cooking has many nice, simple dumpling recipes if you feel froggy. Further more, if someone in your home needs TLC, this is the go-to soup, as it is delicately seasoned and subtly sweet.

Let me know how you like this quick-to-prepare, tasty, warming bowl of goodness.

Cooks Note to Readers: purchase herbes and spices in small quantities from your local health-minded grocery. Store all herbes and spices in the freezer, prolonging shelf life. The brands and varieties of veggies mentioned are personal recommendations based on years of tasting experience. Arrowroot may be purchased in the bulk department of any fine health-minded grocery and it has a long shelf life.

Bon Appetit!

Copyright © 2014 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved
“Respect the Earth; Create Memorable Food”

wild bird buffet recipe ~ LaSauce style

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Those of you who follow my blog realize how I adore hosting wild birds in my central Virginia gardens. With frequent coaching from a local naturalist and a bluebird guru, I confidently care for wild feathered visitors year round.

handsome red-bellied woodpecker at feeder

handsome red-bellied woodpecker at feeder

Being a long-time foodie, I could not resist reinventing a wild bird banquet recipe found in The Bluebird Monitor’s Guide.

I confess, I am suspicious of any food that is genetically modified (GMO) and seek organic foods for me and my food clients, so why not for the birds???
Also an avid label reader, I find most bird foods do not list country of origin, date of production, nor GMO ingredients. Therefore, I avoid all commercially produced mixes.

Suet
(the hard fat surrounding the kidneys and loins of beef and mutton) is another concern, as I strongly suspect that its source comes from beef feedlots in the mid-west US. Again, I do not condone industrial meat production. When I inspect suet block labels, nada. When asked, retailers do not know origins either. Call me fanatic, yet until there is definitive, credible proof that GMO grains and feedlot suet are safe, I will avoid them like the plague.

nestling bluebirds day nine ~ Swallowtail Cottage. Would you feed them GMO food?

nestling bluebirds day nine ~ Swallowtail Cottage. Would you feed them GMO food?

Diane’s Recipe for Winter Wild Bird Buffet ~ Swallowtail Cottage

In a medium saucepan set over medium-low heat, melt:

  •  1 cup freshly ground, unsalted peanut butter (I grind this fresh at my local market where they guarantee NO-GMO)
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening (Spectrum organic palm oil OR organic coconut oil) NO CRISCO! Recently, I used TJ’s sunflower oil and it works just fine too.
    When just melted remove from heat and add:
  • 4 cups stone ground corn meal (I use a local Indian corn heirloom variety)
  • 1 cup raw rolled oats, ground to a fine powder in a food processor
  • 2 cup raw, hulled sunflower seeds, roughly chopped in food processor
  • 2 cup chopped currants
  • 1 cup raw, unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped in processor
  • 1/2 cup organic egg shells, finely ground in a spice or coffee grinder (save shells from hard-cooked eggs, never raw shells.) Extra ground shells keep well in a glass jar in the pantry for one month. (I dry the peeled shells overnight on the kitchen counter at room temperature before grinding.)
  • Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold all ingredients together. Allow to cool before serving your feathered friends.This recipe yields a gracious plenty.
  • Store unused portions in the refrigerator in a sealed tub.
  • I source all ingredients from my local health-conscious store’s bulk department—where prices are competitive AND I know offerings are non-GMO, and often organic.
  • After a few days, I often add additional chopped currants or sunflower seeds to the mix, depending what the birds consider most popular that batch.
  • NOTE: this is a winter food  recipe for wild birds, as the oil will melt during summer months, and the birds can forage for live insects, which is their preferred food.

Why chop/grind ingredients, you may ask? Considering birds have only one tool (beak) to process edibles, I decided to make their dining experience in my gardens a wee bit less labor intensive.

Wild birds expend tremendous energy simply surviving single-digit temperatures and deep snow during winter months. One simple, human step added to the bird banquet becomes a precious energy-saving step for the birds. Furthermore, serving large, whole seed with husks leads to overall food waste, as many wild birds fly in, grab a morsel, and fly off to a twig where they pound/peck seeds into manageable sizes, often losing bits of goodness during the process. Make sense?

Other favorite bird foods:

The attached recipe is gobbled up by at least eleven over-wintering species of wild birds in my central Virginia gardens. Additionally, I put millet out in a separate platform feeder for those birds who enjoy that seed.

Mealworms are another treat for many birds, yet NEVER feed those freeze-dried worms! They are all from CHINA, and we have no idea what standards apply there. I order insects year-round from a reliable US company at http://www.grubco.com. Live mealworms are essential food for bluebird nestlings and they are simple to care for.

add a small water heater to your birdbath during frozen winter days
add a small water heater to your bird bath during frozen winter days

NOTE: Please keep a source of fresh water available during daylight hours. This is critical during winter months when creeks and streams are frozen solid. Thirsty birds could easily drink from a salt-laden or antifreeze puddle that would cause an agonizing death.  I place a small water heater (designed for this purpose) in the bird bath on days when temps do not rise above freezing.

Virginia bluebirds dine at LaSauce buffet

Virginia bluebirds dine at LaSauce buffet

So there you are fellow bird lovers…consider this winter recipe for your feathered friends. And if you want a refresher course on clean food, view the documentaries,
Food Inc. and King Korn. My case rests…

Disclaimer: thoughts published here and throughout this blog are mine and in no way do I benefit from businesses/publications mentioned within. 

Post Note: My Spring/Warm Weather Wild Bird Buffet Recipe is a combo of shelled sunflower seeds and currents and a dash of corn meal (NON-GMO). I buy all in bulk at my local health food-minded market. Just whirl seeds and berries in a food processor until slightly chopped (remember this saves the birds labor and morsel loss), add the corn meal, ground organic/cooked egg shells (2-3 T), then sprinkle with a bit of sunflower oil to moisten. The oil helps the egg shell powder stick to the seed. Portions are approximate and it will work. Birds are not picky! If I notice one ingredient being consumed faster, I add more of that next batch.

I also serve plain organic millet in a separate feeder, as plenty of wild birds enjoy this too. Happy birding!

Copyright © 2014 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

beagling ~ a fine community

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one of the joint masters calling beagles together in the field

one of the joint masters calling beagles together in the field

The sport of Beagling originates with a well-bred and trained pack of beagle hounds. They are managed and lead by a dedicated Hunt Staff rewarded only by titles corresponding to Master of Beagles, Huntsman, and Whipper-In for their 365 day contribution to the sport. Equally important is a supportive membership who follows the hounds regularly during the hunting season and contributes to their care. Supporting members include a chairman, tea chairman, corresponding secretaries, and a recording secretary—much decorum amongst such spontaneous company here in central Virginia.

young beagle hunt member ~ complete with walking stick

young hunt member ~ complete with walking stick

By chance I was introduced to this sport in 2011 and as a landscape photographer I revel in the outstanding vistas, gracious company, crisp air, and lively chases—all kept on foot. Images in Western Albemarle County never fail to deliver a diverse opus to my lens.

to be out amoungst  these vistas is awe inspiring

to be out amongst these vistas is awe-inspiring

This particular pack was established in 1985 and devotees delight in animated hunts from early October through April. Each week, amongst splendid company, calls of the hounds and horn provide boundless, pleasurable exercise.

even horses enjoy the views

even horses enjoy the views

On scheduled Sunday afternoons, a diverse field gathers round for friendly banter, as the hounds wail from their buggy anticipating the run ahead. These furry faces make for endless photo ops as joyful children and shutter happy adults stroke and photograph the easy-going heads. When the buggy doors open the pack emerges to stretch, gather, and may even visit a bystander. Following a brief welcome from the Master, the pursuit is on.

sweet faces ready to begin an afternoon of hunting!

sweet faces ready to begin an afternoon of hunting!

another beagle posing for photographs while awaiting the hunt

another beagle posing for photographs while awaiting the hunt

beagles released from their travel buggy

beagles released from their travel buggy

Over hill, dale, creek and meadow, hunting requires sturdy footwear, a robust constitution, and a wee knowledge of protocol. The rest is forgiven if a line is crossed—yet only once. A few members follow by car, where terrain permits. This is an all-encompassing sport!

Adrian's notable socks

notable socks

Many a fine conversation is had in passing; all the while one keeps an ear to the echoes of the pack. This day will be memorable as all in attendance are invited to join in a festive tea following the meet. As the sun sets, glasses clink, flavorful food is consumed, personality’s blossom, new friends are made, and frequently animated discussions of the day’s event prevail.

tea time inspires lively conversation

tea time inspires lively conversation

sunset over Foxfield

sunset over Foxfield

Members are encouraged to invite friends to hunt and become supporting members, if the sport seems to be a fit for that person.

surprised by wet snow made for an interesting hunt

surprised by a sudden wet snow made for an interesting hunt

Most individuals enjoy the fall days for chasing, although generally this is the poorest hunting of the season. Rabbits are more difficult to find, scent is weaker, the runs shorter with more checks, and are often with outright loss of a rabbit. Mid-winter toward early spring is when folks get cold, wet, fight wind and lower temperatures, yet the scent improves and pursuits tend to have long, exciting runs.

on the scent...

on the scent…

As spring approaches, rabbits are beginning to think about mating and the males (bucks) travel farther from home seeking company. When hunts jump up a buck, he will frequently head for home on a beeline—and at great speed—providing spectacular excitement and views in open country.

another fabulous vista in Albemarle county

another fabulous vista in Albemarle county

During March, the annual National Beagle Club Field Trials at Aldie, Virginia host packs coming from all over the East coast. Packs are judged over a four-day period while hound-talk, eating, sipping, and a generally good time is had by all. Masters and Huntsmen also watch other hounds work, trade hounds, and concentrate on their breeding programs for the following year.

springtime and bunnies think of love

springtime and bunnies think of love

Not all hounds make the grade in the pack and since beagles are such friendly dogs many are given to families for pets as house or yard dogs. As hounds age there is almost always a waiting list to give them a warm home for life.

happy four-leggers

happy four-leggers

If any reader is fretful about animal welfare, you are preaching to the choir where beagling is concerned. Claiming a rabbit’s life is not the object of the sport. Blood is shed only when a rabbit runs into a hound by accident. Personally, I rejoice when witnessing a rabbit fly, with lightning speed over its well know turf, escaping into a thicket or going to ground. What remains is my individual challenge to actually capture an image of any leaping cottontail, as rabbits are illusive indeed.

Copyright © 2014 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

lazy, Legacy, and lollygagging

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Happy New Year to you!

This rigid, frozen, January morning, it occurred to me that I have not posted for over a month.
Goes to show that lazy settles in after the holidays. The only hourly demands come from the dozen varieties of wild birds who feed here.
I whip up a batch of chopped currants, millet, hulled sunflower seeds, nuggets, peanuts, and ground organic eggs shell (left from hard cooking eggs) for the LaSauce Bird Buffet here at Swallowtail Cottage. And yes, I run a chef’s knife through the large bits, to enable small beaks easier dining.

Virginia bluebirds dine at LaSauce buffet

Virginia bluebirds dine at LaSauce Buffet

When I think about the life of a bird, and their daily challenges, I think nothing of helping them by chopping and shopping for ingredients at Whole Foods bulk department. I avoid suet, as undoubtedly that comes from mid-west feedlot beef, loaded with antibiotics and who knows what else.

Mary Mockingbird (AKA Miss Piggy) at her feeder

Mary Mockingbird (AKA Miss Piggy) at her feeder

Bluebirds are especially timid at the feeders and Mary Mockingbird is wicked this time of year! Since bluebirds are endangered here, I especially spoil and encourage them to dine on my terrace. Mary, on the other hand, delights in harassing them. She tolerates other birds at her feeder, yet not bluebirds! Go figure.

I did manage a half-day trip away from bird-ville not long ago.
I traveled to the next county and dropped in on the Legacy Mustang Preservation. This non-profit sanctuary is the passion of wife/husband team, Jamie and Craig Dodson.  Find out all the details of this wonderful wild Mustang rescue preserve at http://www.ilovemustangs.org/.

A few of the Wild Pryor 9 at Legacy

A few of the Wild Pryor 9 at Legacy

I learned about the American Wild Mustang herds from a Freshly Pressed blog named www.wildinthepryors.com based in Montana. There Sandy fastidiously documents the lives of the wild Mustang located in the Pryor Mountains of Montana. When the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) culls wild members from the herd, they are often auctioned off to dedicated folks who care for them for life, OR they are sold to slaughterhouses. Apparently Canada and France like the tasty meat from foals.

Native nurses mama. Native was conceived in Montana while roaming wild in the Pyror Moutains

Native nurses mama. Native was conceived in Montana while mama was roaming wild in the Pryor Mountains. Native was born here in Virginia

Through the unending dedication of Sandy in Montana and the Dodson team in Virginia, folks are educated and inspired to learn more about the Wild American Mustang. If you cannot adopt one, consider supporting the efforts though donations.

Native's wild little mane

Native’s wild little mane

If you love horses, I strongly urge you to visit both web, blog, and Facebook sites of both these organizations.

Alert, gentle and strong. Consider donating.

Alert, gentle and strong. Consider helping preserve this part of living American history. If you have room on your farm, consider adopting

sweet faces all

sweet faces all

Of course I could not resist adding a few more Legacy resident photos.

Sit back and enjoy.

Barn kitty enjoying the good life at Legacy

Barn kitty enjoying the good life at Legacy

A once ferrell cat enjoys the love from Legacy and visitors.

A once feral cat enjoys the love from Legacy and visitors.

One of the handsomest roosters I have ever seen.

One of the handsomest roosters I have ever seen.

oh so pretty guinea hen ~ Nature had a creative brush when this bird was created.

oh so pretty guinea hen ~ an especially creative day when this bird was designed.

Rescued bunny from meat production

Rescued bunny from a meat production operation. Now it lives with other rescued bunnies, and can burrow and romp whenever the mood hops.

Love is endless at Legacy.
Please consider making a donation to this worthy cause.
Legacy’s mission preserves the dignity of the American Mustang, while improving the lives of other critters along the way. They recently rescued thirty-five wild horses from the North Dakota Badlands culling process. These horses are descendants from the gold rush days and wagons west. This is real history folks…living and breathing—and it ain’t cheap feeding and caring for the needs of large herds—at least they are not on dinner plates.

Plan a visit with your family, sponsor a horse, follow their progress, and help support this effort.

Now back to my wild feathered friends and less lollygagging.
May your new year be filled with memorable good times.

Copyright © 2014 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

Albemarle County ~ steeped in history

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Heading in just about any direction from Swallowtail Cottage, history abounds.

Yesterday, with camera in hand, I headed out to an estate sale, east of town.
There a grand home awaited my lens. I must confess, I am a house hound, and take every opportunity to peruse private residences in and around Albemarle County, Virginia.

Long boxwood lined drive leading to the early 18th century house Glenmore

long boxwood lined drive leading to the early 18th century house ~ Glenmore

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this garden ornament is rarely seen in modern themes

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Glenmore ~ an elegant early 18th century home. Most of its former land is now an up-scale subdivision

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chores left undone at Glenmore

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rear of house

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a bit wobbly, yet effective winter grid

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Just down the road, the Keswick Hunt Club ~ where my sister held her wedding reception in 1967. A mecca for horsemen, many a wild party held here over the century and some marriages went astray. Elizabeth Taylor starred in Giant, filmed in part down the hill.

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low key facade at the Hunt Club, yet quite the local draw for huntsmen and their women

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Keswick Hall ~ formerly Keswick Country Club, where I swam as a child. This place has changed hands many times always with dicey drama, including Laura Ashley’s purchase during her hay day.

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another well cared for property in Albemarle County, Virginia. Originally built in the Greek Revival style and run as a tavern, following the Civil War, this house served travelers as La Fourche Tavern, a name which remains today.

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no marks on these headstones, yet I was drawn to them on this grey winter day

notice atop this barren tree at the golf course, a lone mockingbird marks her territory against the winter sky

notice atop this barren tree at the golf course, a lone mockingbird marks her territory against the winter sky

this silhouette reminds me of Mary Mockingbird, who resides at Swallowtail Cottage nearing eight years.

this silhouette reminds me of Mary Mockingbird, who resides at Swallowtail Cottage nearing eight years

Further down the road, Michie Tavern rests after being moved across the county

farther down the road, Michie Tavern rests after being moved across the county

 Michie Tavern was built as a residence between 1772 and 1773. It stands as an example of the historic preservation movement in the 1920s. It is also the only tavern in Albemarle County to have an exterior taproom and represents the vernacular form associated with taverns in early Albemarle County.

Michie Tavern was built as a residence between 1772 and 1773. It stands as an example of the historic preservation movement in the 1920s. It is also the only tavern in Albemarle County to have an exterior taproom and represents the vernacular form associated with taverns in early Albemarle County.

unique exterior taproom

unique exterior taproom

have a pint...

have a pint…

circa 1797, the Meadow Run Grist Mill rests nearby

circa 1797, the Meadow Run Grist Mill rests nearby following relocation and restoration

The water wheel still in operation

the water wheel is still in motion

Jen offered tales of personal encounters with entities in the tavern

Jen offered tales of personal encounters with entities in the tavern…hmmm

notice the chestnut boards in this reconstructed building on Michie Tavern grounds

notice the ancient chestnut boards in this reconstructed building on Michie Tavern grounds

the real deal for sale in the Metal Smith shop

the real deal for sale in the Metal Smith shop

interior shots from the Tavern

interior shot in the Tavern

many a meal was produced at this hearth

many a meal was produced at this hearth in the Keeping Hall

keeping room mantle dressed for Yuletide

Keeping Hall mantle dressed for Yuletide

detail of mantel decor in keeping room

detail of mantel decor in Keeping Hall

dough box ready for Yuletide

dough box ready for Yuletide

the upper ballroom at Michie Tavern

the upper ballroom at Michie Tavern

bed chamber

bed chamber

outside "The Necessary" offers various sizes, including one for small bottoms

outside “The Necessary” offers various sizes, including one for small bottoms

a hilarious note for 18th century guests...

a hilarious note for 18th century guests…

is that a cob up your butt? Ouch, ouch, ouch. Where is the Quilted Northern when you need it?

is that a cob up your butt? Ouch, ouch, ouch. Where is the Quilted Northern when you need it?

could not resist  posting this provenance

could not resist posting this provenance

perched on a high hillside, Michie Tavern has multiple rooflines

perched on a high hillside, Michie Tavern has multiple roof lines

and many steps traversing the hillside

and many steps traversing the hillside

illuminated stairs during Yultide

illuminated stairs during Yuletide

is this a ghost?

is this a ghost?

just next door, atop Carter's Mountain a two-hundred acre orchard draws miles of traffic each year. This day I was one of two visitors, amen.

just next door, atop Carter’s Mountain a two-hundred acre orchard draws miles of traffic each year. This day I was one of two visitors, amen.

end of this day with a glimpse of Charlottesville below

end of this day with a glimpse of Charlottesville below

Although I have resided in Albemarle County on-and-off for over thirty years,
playing tourist for an afternoon never fails to produce fine visual, architectural,
and flavorful memories.

http://www.michietavern.com

Copyright © 2013 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

~ this holiday it is all about the critters

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Ask anyone who knows me or who follows this blog and they will tell you that
I am all about the critters.
Since Miss Kitty’s passing in May of 2011, I turned my critter affection out-of-doors.

Miss Kitty ~ my muse for eleven years

Miss Kitty ~ my muse for eleven years

Over 1100 Monarch butterflies were raised in my Waystation since 2009.

female monarch ready for release

female monarch ready for release

I became an official Bluebird Monitor and host adults as they rear their young.

nestling bluebirds day nine ~ Swallowtail Cottage

nestling bluebirds day nine ~ Swallowtail Cottage

During winter months, I feed, admire, and attempt to photograph
wild birds up close and personal.

handsome woodpecker

handsome red bellied woodpecker

At the local shelter, I volunteer photo time so adoptees
have a better chance at a permanent home…

this pup is showing her holiday stuff at the CASPCA

this pup is showing her holiday stuff at the SPCA

happy holidays and take me home!

happy holidays and take me home!

This season is extra special, as P Allen Smith and Berry Family Nurseries
are offering to send assorted holiday greenery to the winning blogger’s charity.
This is Allen’s Holiday Cheer Challenge, and I need your vote to win!

Here’s the deal. Allen’s people will post this post (and many others) to his Pinterest Holiday page and the most number of likes or Pins will win the prize for the blogger’s charity. I am choosing Caring For Creatures, as this fabulous no-kill sanctuary could use the festive greenery for all visitors and staff to enjoy.
So if you have a Pinterest account, please click here to vote http://www.pinterest.com/pallen_smith/holiday-ideas/
Voting ends December 9.

chocolate spice wreath from P Allen Smith's Holiday Collection

chocolate spice wreath from P Allen Smith’s Holiday Collection

Styled with additional seed bells for the wild birds

styled by moi with additional seed bells for the wild birds

During December, I will be wrapping gifts at Barnes & Noble Bookstore, Barracks Road Shopping Center. Many volunteers will be there raising funds for both the CASPCA and Caring for Creatures. Stop by!

See, it is all about the critters this holiday season
here at Swallowtail Cottage! Thanks for your vote
and Happy Holidays!

Copyright © 2013 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

a very special place

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South of town, tucked back off the main road, resides a very special place.

The Monroe Institute® was founded by Robert A. Monroe in 1979 following years of research, experimental seminars, and exploration regarding the very nature of human consciousness.

The Nancy Penn Center at The Monroe Institute's permanent facility in the Blue Ridge Mountains

The Nancy Penn Center at The Monroe Institute’s permanent facility in the Blue Ridge Mountains

a guest spends time with a large rose quartz crystal at The Nancy Penn Center

a guest spends time with a large rose quartz crystal at The Nancy Penn Center

moi standing in front of a many-ton rose crystal quartz imported from England

moi standing in front of a many-ton rose crystal quartz imported from Brazil. This one is up at Robert’s Retreat.

the Institute's logo weathervane

the Institute’s logo weathervane at Robert’s Retreat

detail of Robert's Retreat

detail of Robert’s Retreat

 a rooftop crystal

a rooftop crystal at Robert’s Retreat

another crystal view

another crystal view

and another

and another

The mission of this Institute is dedicated to furthering the exploration of consciousness, expanded awareness, and discovery of self. Seminars are held at this place and at several locations around the world. Week-long, weekend, and one-day programs are offered by trained facilitators.

Fortunate to stumble upon a mini, one-day program, I attended two weeks ago. Visiting with an open mind I discovered new approaches to ways of thinking through the realization that we are more than our physical bodies.

IF this topic speaks to you, I suggest contacting the Institute at www.monroeinstitute.org or email at info@monroeinstitute.org

Robert Monroe’s work is also documented in three publications:
Journeys Out of the Body (Doubleday, 1971)
Far Journeys (Doubleday, 1985)
Ultimate Journey (Doubleday, 1994)

on the way down the mountain, I could not resist capturing another landscape

on the way down the mountain, I could not resist capturing another landscape

one handsome barn

one handsome barn

and its neighbor

and its neighbor

Copyright © 2013 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved