Jonas ~ beauty or the beast

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At 10:30 AM last Friday, Jonas made his entry into central Virginia. First the flakes were fine and light. Then for thirty-six hours, snow fell continuously.

When Jonas finally departed, taking the 30 MPH winds with him, I measured 19″ in my backyard. Deeper drifts fill the front yard, so much so my tallest boots vanish in the stuff. Folks in the real snow belt may shrug at this, yet here in central Virginia, this storm broke all weather records.

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this is the view from my back door, over the herb garden.

Since my narrow driveway won’t allow a plow, snow must be moved by hand. With few behemoth snow storms over my fifteen year residency, I never felt it necessary to own a snow removal machine.

So with much optimism, every few hours on Friday, I dressed and shoveled my driveway down to the gravel. By nightfall, everything appeared manageable.

Saturday was another story. The snow continued all day.  I repeatedly shoveled a path around the terrace to the wild bird feeders and heated water bath. The temperatures were in the 20F, not counting the wind chill.

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by Sunday morning this is the view out my backdoor

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a view of the back yard, over the herb beds and terrace this morning

I was grateful that the power remained on throughout this blizzard, as my only alternative with this all-electric house, was to shove food into coolers and hike to a home down the road where there is a generator and wood stove. Once again, with few catastrophic storms, it is not cost effective to install either a generator or stove here.

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front yard cypress trees along the driveway

By Sunday I faced an overwhelming task of snow removal…

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view of the front walk and my new foundation planting completed in November

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following 1.5 hours of shoveling on Sunday, I made it to the deer fence near the mouth of my driveway. This view is looking from the road back up my drive.

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to give readers an idea of what I face at the mouth of my driveway, this is a road view of the snow wall left by VDOT

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this is the view of the highway connecting to my road; clear sailing for those who can get out of their driveways

Presently, VDOT has no idea when or if they will return with plows to make a second pass on my road. I hesitate to dig the wall, as one pass from that equipment will sock me in again with another wall. Quite the dilemma.

In the meantime this storm taught me a lot about my immediate neighbors. There are seven other houses on my road, and this morning all those driveways are open. As of this writing, nary a person offered to help me dig out. This speaks volumes.

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by adding an archival photo of more pleasant days, I end this post knowing that this too shall pass and perhaps there are new roads for me to travel, where I will find kinder, more thoughtful neighbors in a milder climate

How did Jonas affect your home? One thought frequently pops into mind: all things are temporary including this home, garden, life.

Copyright © 2016 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

~ strolling through history

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Surrounded by central Virginia’s unceasing beauty and history, yesterday’s outing is worth sharing.

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from Montpelier’s front porch, one feels as though she could take flight. This same view has inspired visitors since the early 18th century.

During unsettling times, strolling amongst history strengthens, grounds, and renews one’s spirit. The month of December, many historic homes in central Virginia open their doors to the public in celebration of the season.

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simple ornamentation prevails during the Christmas season at Montpelier

Yesterday I returned to Montpelier, the former home of James and Dolley Madison (James was our third US president, a leader in our first congress, who introduced the Bill of Rights, helping shape the new government.)

The home is sited perfectly with uplifting views from every window.  Merely thirty miles from my home, Montpelier transports every visitor to times when our forefathers worked the land, created our nation, and and left a profound legacy.

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the front of the historic home whose land was originally acquired by James’ grandfather in 1723

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the back lawn of Montpelier

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the south end of the main house; it’s elegant simplicity speaks volumes

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an exterior detail with copper gutters and handsome brick wall

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off in the distance, a glimpse of Mr. Madison’s temple…formerly used as an icehouse

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following recent, arduous archaeological digs in the South Yard, slaves quarters and other dependencies are being recreated near the main house.

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I could not resist capturing how the sun played with this timber frame structure; a “duplex” that shares a central chimney.

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the nearby walled garden invites the visitor to ponder and stroll, as perhaps President Madison once did

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the narrow gravel path is embraced by tightly shorn boxwood hedges

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Dawn cedar, Metasequoia sheds for the upcoming dormant season.

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one of a pair of magnificent marble lions added to the terraced gardens during William and Annie duPont’s ownership of Montpelier c. 1901

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inside the walled gardens, the season brings on a graceful dormancy where quiet prevails

Montpelier was also the home to generations of enslaved families who toiled to ensure that the house ran smoothly and the hundreds of acres remained profitable. As many as 110 slaves worked at Montpelier at any given time. We must not forget the profound sacrifices these families made during the shaping of the United States of America.

To learn much more please visit Montpelier’s web site at www.montpelier.org

As I prepare for my dormant season, I reflect on a productive year, and wish for a safe and warm holiday season to all my readers. As always, I look forward to your comments.

Copyright © 2015 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

 

 

~ share the love

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Fall arrived right on time, yet I did not want to let summer bounty slip by without sharing numerous market images, taken this month. Enjoy!

Attending a local farmer’s market as a vendor or as a customer, is a very special event. It is a community who follows the seasons with dedication and appreciation. It is a place for sharing and educating; coaxing the senses away from the routine — nudging compassion to full fruit.

outrageous mushrooms from our local schroom man

outrageous mushrooms from our local shroom man. Freshness like this is only found at your local farmer’s market!

First time I raised Lilliput melons this year...delicious, yet plant had mighty fungal issues

2015 was the first time I raised Sakata’s Lilliput melons…delicious beyond words, yet the plants had mighty fungal issues. The melons did not go to market, but I had to show them off here.

showstopping sunflowers

showstopper sunflowers

the first Crenshaw squash appears at market

the first Crenshaw squash appears at market in September

dazzling peppers!

dazzling peppers!

scallions anyone?

scallions anyone?

vibrant eggplant appears to glow in the morning light!

vibrant eggplant appear to glow in the morning light!

calories don't count on weekends!

calories don’t count on weekends!

this fabulous bread is baked in a outdoor wood oven!

this fabulous bread is baked in an outdoor wood oven!

coffee makes the world go round, and this vendor peddles his way to market

coffee makes the world go round, and this vendor peddles his way to market

I could not resist this image. An enviable braid.

I could not resist this image ~ an enviable braid

Toddlers make great subjects as they free flow through the market

toddlers make great subjects as they free-flow through the market

This young man may have a modeling career in his future

this young man may have a modeling career in his future

I could not resist capturing this tender moment between father and child

a tender moment between father and infant

of course I had to plug my famous key lime pie. The banner drove sales higher this season

lastly, I shamelessly plug my famous key lime pie. The banner drove sales higher this season, quoting what customers named my pie back in 2005. 

October’s end marks the culmination of my fifteenth season as a vendor at the largest farmer’s market in central Virginia. If I had an inkling of what I would become when I left a professional life in DC, and returned to my small hometown, I would have fallen over laughing. Life has a way of throwing curve balls, and one must dodge and roll to stay in the game. home, garden, life is my testament.

Happy fall, dear followers. I always enjoy hearing from you in the comments section.

Copyright © 2015 By Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

the morning said “stop!”

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After all, it is mid-September.

Most of the blistering heat and drenching humidity is over for another central Virginia season. Many of the annoying, biting insects departed last week when the temperature dropped to 49 degrees F overnight.

look what is ripening in the garden this week! Cayenne peppers. No fungus or insects hang around these prolific plants!

look what is ripening in the garden this week! Cayenne peppers. No fungus or insects hang around these prolific plants!

I am in bliss. Can you tell that I am a spring/fall gardener? I delight in the change of light, the tilt of the planet, always keeping pace with the universe. During spring, the slow awakening of plant life dazzles the eye and offers the observant eternal optimism. When fall approaches, the array of home/garden/life chores slows to a manageable pace.

This summer I accomplished more than I planned. My interpretation of a 90′ privacy fence was constructed on the rear property line in January. It would take until August for me to realize that I was once again the designated primer/painter/stainer. Check.

Before it was stained shot of the 90' privacy fence

Before it was stained shot of the 90′ privacy fence

photo of stained privacy fence. After a contractor's estimate of 12 hours and $400 labor, I knew it was up to me to complete this job. Six hours over two days delivered one handsome fence to Swallowtail Cottage.

photo of stained privacy fence. After a contractor’s estimate of 12 hours labor and $400 price tag (not including stain), I knew it was up to me to complete this job. Six hours over two days delivered one handsomely stained fence to Swallowtail Cottage. PS, pine needles work splendidly as mulch for both sides of this fence…needles collected from a nearby school who was happy to have me rake.

Next 2015 summer project: I refurbished the rear terrace wall that was seriously in need.

block wall on terrace demands attention this year. Dry Lock Extreme and new coat of paint will restore...I'm hoping...

block wall on terrace demands attention this year. Drylok Extreme and new coats of paint will restore…I’m hoping…

terrace wall refurbished with Muhly grass showing off on the other side...September is mighty showy here.

terrace wall refurbished with Muhly grass showing off on the other side…September is mighty showy here.

Then the front mulched path needed major intervention. For years the sloped property caused mulch to float during heavy rains. So the answer was river rock edges, pea gravel, and repurposed aggregate stepping-stones. All affordable DIY solutions. Of course my labor is free…sweat equity, ahem.

This is the before shot of the sloped path.

This is the before shot of the sloped path. The Siberian iris are gone! Very invasive gift from a friend…and it nearly killed the man who dug them…gardeners beware!

First the mulch was swept away. Then stepping stones were reused from the rear, and set into the dirt.

First the mulch was swept away. Additional river rock lined the mulched side of the path. Then stepping-stones were reused from the rear, and set into the dirt.

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Then 40 bags of pea gravel arrived in three separate car loads, as to not break Baby 5. Did I tell you this was another DIY project?

Baby 5 was my perfect companion during this gravel project. She held steadfast, despite my concerns that I would break her.

Baby 5 was my perfect companion during this gravel project. She held steadfast, despite my concerns that I would break her.

This was also a wash area every time it rained. So gravel was the answer. One heavy rain since placement confirms its success. Gravel will continue to replace mulch where ever it is appropriate. What took me so long???

This was also an aggravating wash area, near the rear garden shed, every time it rained. Mulch was removed. Gravel was the answer. One heavy rain later confirms its success. Gravel will continue to replace mulch where ever it is appropriate. What took me so long???

The front path today...rain runs through it smoothly, leaving the path in tact. My hands and knees are really getting a workout this summer!

The front sloped path today…rain runs through it smoothly, leaving the path in tact. My hands and knees are really getting a workout this summer! And that foundation bed needs attention…PJM’s are not happy.

OOo, I have not shared the latest project with you…this time not a DIY other than the design elements. I have never liked the dull, ordinary appearance of the front of this house. Built in the early ’70’s, nothing had changed inside or out until I bought the property in 2001. Following 6.5 years of interior work and exterior landscaping, I usually ignore the front facade and use the back door…until I spent the past week groveling around the front door…oops.

photo of front entrance looking towards new carport, completed last summer. Ugly

photo of front entrance looking towards new carport, completed last summer: https://dianelasauce.wordpress.com/2014/09/13/three-men-and-a-truck/. Ugly is the only word for the front entry of this home. I never liked the vinyl and shutters, nor the flat plane. The barberry shrubs (overgrown with chronic fungal issues) and rug juniper (invasive) are coming out as soon as the arborist arrives for the annual cypress shearing. I always add a few garden edits while he is here, as his chain saw, muscle, and chipper work wonders in short time. This is the link to the vestibule I found on the Internet. With a few edits, reusing my windows and front doors, and a clever builder, it will become mine..

Photo of former failed rosemary bed now containing 14 heirloom peony plants...soon to be mulched with pea gravel...

Photo of former failed rosemary bed (disease from nursery!) now contains 14 heirloom peony plants…soon to be mulched with pea gravel…after the mulch is removed and dosed with BioZome from Jen Neve. This is one steep bed, designed for mountain goats and maintained by one crazy woman!

Back to reality: As for the rock/gravel revelation, the second large peony bed (sloped) is about to get the treatment. If I knew the person who graded this lot back in 1971, I would haunt him till the day he dies…

Despite my huge failure to raise but one monarch this season, due to numerous predatory flies, I strive to learn better ways to outsmart these critters next season. If you need advice, check out my Facebook page for links to many helpful sites.

female monarch ready for release

female monarch ready for release

So my friends, summer quickly draws to an end, and how timely. Not sure if the bod can take much more garden abuse this year. Still, there is green, flat stuff to mow (weeds), and more garden clean up to tend, yet, this morning said, “STOP!” and I followed the call until the temperatures nudged me inside.

matcha is the perfect beverage for morning strolls

matcha is the perfect beverage for morning strolls

I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I did composing it. I would love to hear what your summer was like and if you have revelations to share. With this home, garden, life, I am continually reminded that all things are temporary (except rock/gravel), and lessons are endless if we remember to remain open and take time to stop and listen.

Be well and I hope to hear from you in the comments section of this blog.

Copyright © 2015 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

August begins a time of edits

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The month of August is bittersweet.

This year summer evolves especially fast. Spring was long and cool, delaying daffodil bloom long enough to sell cut stems at the April farmers market.

these beauties knock me out

these beauties knock me out every April.  I have a habit of rescuing or inheriting daffodils from abandoned properties or those departed, so I never know the names of each flower, yet every spring, I look forward to their many faces and scents, as my collection now numbers over 2,500.  

By mid-May temperatures were in the 90’s, heavy rains fell, then the high humidity set in. Despite this challenging conditions, the peony harvest was especially abundant in May; over 600 stems were sold at market, necessitating the purchase of an additional refrigerator for the basement. 2015 Peony city market May

I did enjoy four days of respite at P Allen Smith’s Moss Mountain Farm outside Little Rock, Arkansas. During the growing season, I tiptoe out of my gardens to catch a flight to this gardener’s dream land as a guest, only to return a few days later to a needy garden…”weed me, harvest me, plant me, mow me, feed me, dig me…”

Allen and I in the one-are garden; a special friend in a special place (pallensmith.com)

Allen and I in his one-acre veggie garden at Moss Mountain Farm in May; a special friend in a special place (pallensmith.com)

these Iris graced my gardens this year. Another rescued beauty who now enjoyes life here

back in Virginia, these Iris graced my gardens during May of this year. Another rescued beauty who now enjoys life here

and this rescued Iris blooms right along side. Both flowers have a heavenly scent

and this rescued Iris blooms right along side the deep purple variety. Both flowers have a heavenly scent and bloomed continuously for three weeks during May!

one proud stand of glory

one proud stand of glory

tiger lily

this is an old heirloom, scentless variety of tiger lily (tigrinum), native to China but long ago naturalized in America…these originals came from my mother’s gardens. Bulbs may be cooked and eaten, tasting something like an artichoke, although I have never found the need to imbibe. Prolific black bulbils produced in the axils of the leaves may be shared with friends, though they take years to mature. Blooms appear in July, are 3′-5′ tall and rarely need staking. Butterflies adore the flowers during a rainy month. 

oakleaf hydrangea

prolific Oakleaf hydrangea (paniculata) thrives here at Swallowtail Cottage, and produces abundant offspring from seed, which now fill an entire lower shrub border. There are approximately forty-five species and varieties grown in America. 

And now it is August. Both heirloom tiger lilies and Davidii phlox bloom cycles are finished and spent stems are removed. The lush Oakleaf hydrangea bloom is merely a memory. Why? It seems, we gardeners wait with such anticipation for bloom time, only to have it pass seemingly overnight…every season.

Naked ladies suddenly appear in my August garden and seduce the eye with every gaze...

Another native of South Africa, Amaryllis Belladonna Lilies (monotypic) or Naked Ladies suddenly appear in my August garden and seduce the eye with every gaze…they make a pretty cut flower, with elegant long stems and a pleasant scent…

Formosa lily

Another late summer bloomer is the Formosa Lily (formosanum). White, funnel-shaped and fragrant with 1-10 flowers produced per stalk that grows to 6′. Easily self sows here in zone 6. Native to Formosa. My first seed pod came from Tufton, a former property of Thomas Jefferson.

Generous rains produced stunning, abundant blooms this season on the spiraea, hellebore, and Lemon lilies.

Lemon lilies in the lower garden

Lemon lilies in the lower garden

Delayed are the two main 2015 outdoor projects: the oil stain project of the new 90′ privacy fence (both sides) and the necessary reconditioning of the terrace masonry wall.

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looming, yet very necessary, the 90′ long privacy fence needs a coat of oil based natural stain (both sides) in order to preserve the blond appearance. Frequent rain and high dew points continue to prevent moi from swinging the brush…

block wall on terrace demands attention this year. Dry Lock Extreme and new coat of paint will restore...I'm hoping...

the 30′ block/parged terrace wall demands attention this year. Dry Lok Extreme and new coats of paint will restore…I’m hoping…

Are any of you considering home ownership? This post will be a reality check for you. Since buying this place back in 2001, the projects both large and small, inside and out, are endless. Some days/years I think I am making progress, others, I think I am in a rapid backslide…

Wild birds bring much relief and beauty on a daily basis to my gardens. This year I am hosting hummingbirds, and they come in droves for their plain sugar-water fix and enjoy sips from the Crocosmia.

hummer enjoys a sip from the crocosmia in the kitchen herb garden

hummer enjoys a sip from the Crocosmia from the kitchen herb garden in 2014. Did you know that Crocosmia is an herb from South Africa belonging to the Iris family? I rescued these corms and enjoy seeing them thrive.

in 2014 the hummers enjoyed sips from the pineapple sage...

in 2013 the hummers enjoyed sips from the pineapple sage…

Hummers enjoy the convenience of a perch design on this sugar syrup feeder in 2015

hummingbirds enjoy the convenience of a perch on this sugar syrup feeder in 2015. Photo was taken through solar film and glass, so a wee bit soft…

I feed numerous other wild birds here at Swallowtail Cottage, yet the Bluebirds chose not to nest here again this year. They come in to feed, and I hear their song whilst gardening, yet only a pair of black cap chickadees occupied the BB boxes this season while either a titmouse or carolina wren raised young in the wren box.

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

nestling bluebirds day nine ~ Swallowtail Cottage 2013. Would you feed them GMO food?

So begins August here in central Virginia. I expect the arborist later this month for our annual chore of topping/shearing the Leyland cypress hedges; I will be glad to see the bagworms vanish into the chipper.

sheering tops of Leylands and icky pyracanta in foreground

annual shearing of tops and sides of Leyland cypress, as 135 surround my property’s perimeter

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One glorious yellow swallowtail graces my garden and poses cooperatively on the verbena. These flutterbyes inspired the name of my property…Swallowtail Cottage. Still awaiting the Monarchs…

Queen Ann’s Lace, hyssop, cleome, hostas, and roses continue to color the landscape as summer winds down for another season. Butterflies nectar on the verbena and Joe Pye Weed. Fat cucumbers dangle from the arched cattle panels, while sweet basil, tomatoes, hot peppers, kale and herbs fill the raised beds. Soon I will harvest my first crop of Lilliput melons, as they meander across the lower butterfly garden. 2015 has been an abundant growing season. Full of edibles, friends, happy memories, and hard work.

end of summer bouquet

end of summer bouquet

And soon, yes soon I will breathe a bit easier; I will sleep a wee bit longer as garden/market chores lighten. As biting insects depart, when there is a chill in the crisp air, I will once again enjoy my lower patio and reflect on another year as a homeowner/gardener.

Did you know that we will lose one hour of daylight in August? While I am still the busy bee today, the planet continues its orbit. Our gardens respond, and indeed so do we. Best now to consider the color of this year’s flannel sheets, while continuing to mow, weed those persistent invasives, and get a handle on those unfinished outdoor projects…

If you have a moment, would love to hear from you either by the click of the “like” button or speak in the comments section. Does my blog make a difference? Cheers!

Copyright © 2015 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

~ for the love of blueberries

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The month of June is blueberry harvest season here in my central Virginia garden. Planted four years ago, the O’Neil high bush variety thrives, sans disease or insect pressure. The ongoing 2015 harvest is a banner year!

This season I decided to use tulle instead of bird netting to keep the harvest bird-free.

This year I draped the blueberry plants in tulle and used clothespins to hold in place. Much improved method over bird netting. This idea was shared by a good garden friend. What do they remind you of? Ghosts or runaway brides?

I draped the blueberry plants in tulle and used clothespins to hold in place, a much improved method over bird netting. This idea was shared by a veteran garden friend. What do these blueberries remind you of? Ghosts or runaway brides?

O'Neil blueberry variety is my favorite here in my gardens. Large, juicy fruit greets me every day for nearly one month in June.

O’Neil blueberry high bush variety is my favorite here in my Virginia gardens. Large, juicy fruit greets me every day for nearly one month in June.

After harvesting in the early morning, I place the unwashed fruit on a sheet pan and let them rest at room temperature for twenty-four hours. Any unripened berries will continue to ripen, and of course, I can snitch a handfull as I go by during the day! As the fruit ripens, I place in glass jars in the freezer. I am not a fan of plastic...

After harvesting in the early morning, I place the unwashed fruit on a sheet pan and let them rest at room temperature for twenty-four hours. Any unripened berries will continue to ripen, and of course, I can snitch a handful as I go by during the day! As the fruit ripens, I place in glass jars in the freezer. I am not a fan of plastic…

 Sunday mornings I crave a wee breakfast that is special; a meal that celebrates the end of a very long week.

Sunday mornings I crave a wee breakfast that is special; a meal that celebrates the end of a very long week. Here I whipped up a quick batch of popovers and served them with fresh blueberry conserve and whipped cream! Yum!

today is a good day for blueberry jam, as the berries just keep coming

today is a good day for blueberry jam, as the berries just keep coming

I began by cleaning my French copper preserving pan with salt and lemon

I began by cleaning my French copper preserving pan with salt and lemon

following a great recipe from The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook, the ingredients came together quickly.

following a great recipe from The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook, the ingredients came together quickly

back to the kiss system...simple, pure, flavorful

back to the kiss system…simple, pure, flavorful

as the pan's contents bubbled, the color deepened

as the pan’s contents bubbled, the color deepened

using the Rachel Saunders' technique of sterilizing the jars in the oven, the final jam returns to the oven for 15 minutes longer to seal ~ a huge improvement over the boiling kettle process.

using Rachel Saunders’ technique of sterilizing the jars in the oven, the final jam returns to the oven for 15 minutes longer to seal ~ a huge improvement over the boiling kettle process

projects like this are very satisfying

projects like this are very satisfying

the little lemon that could

the little lemon that could

O'Neil blueberries beginning to ripen

O’Neil blueberries beginning to ripen and keep on giving the entire month of June

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with July 4th just around the corner, blueberries make a stunning dessert presence ~ simple, fresh, delicious

my collection of French copper serves me well for a lifetime

my collection of French copper serves me well for my lifetime

Blueberries are a very old fruit, and are native to the US. They are reputed to have both health and nutritional benefits, and are very easy to grow. Recipes are handed down for generations, lauding this well-loved fruit. If you don’t grow blueberries, find a local pick-your-own farm, load up the kids, and have a morning of flavorful fun.

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wishing you and yours a pleasant and safe summer, while the flutterbies keep me company here at Swallowtail Cottage. Bon Appetit!

Copyright © 2015 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

the kiss system

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a photo of me during my design days...

During the years I worked as a residential interior designer, most of the fabric houses had what they coined the kiss system…attached to the main sample were smaller flags of complimentary fabrics, often making the selection process simple. The acronym translated, “keep it simple, stupid.” These days, I would prefer to drop the last s, as stupid is not accurate, nor kind. Yet, I digress…

Since 2000, I wandered into the world of food, where keeping things simple continues to be paramount. Needless to say, I never offered wedding cakes as part of my repertoire. As owner of a one-woman operation, my mission is: “respect the earth, create memorable food.” Additionally my steadfast slogan is: “there is a fine line between order and chaos,” and the kiss system is still as effective today as it was during the last decade.

springtime has simple written all over it...

springtime has simple written all over it…

As temperatures rise, my appetite declines and I seem to crave cool, easy, no-brainer (stupid?) recipes. If you follow my posts regularly, the last was about chocolate gelato…today, my recipe is even more simple…

Remember the Dreamsicle? Recently, I began craving this flavor and created the following in a matter of minutes:

begin by adding one can of full fat organic coconut milk and one can of organic frozen orange juice, to a blender...

begin by adding one can of full fat organic coconut milk and one can of organic frozen orange juice to a blender…

add both cans to the blender with 1/4 up of sugar and whirl...

add the contents of both cans to the blender with 1/4 up of sugar and whirl…

pour this into a loaf pan or glass cold-proof container and freeze...

pour this into a loaf pan or glass cold-proof container and freeze (shown here with cream floated on top after orange is frozen)…this can be then scooped OR

OR slice the frozen orange gelato and serve with a pretty garnish...

slice the frozen orange gelato and serve with a pretty garnish…no sticks necessary!

When orange is first frozen, add a half-inch layer of heavy whipping cream to the top and freeze again. This is super right out of the freezer, as the coconut milk keeps the texture smooth and not too hard to scoop. Slices make for a nice presentation.

June in Louisa County

June in central Virginia

OK, is this wee recipe something you might try during these steamy, soon to be summer days?

Happy summer and be safe!

If you have a minute, leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2015 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

be cool ~ try some homemade gelato

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just a few quality ingredients and an Ice cream maker are all you need for this silky chocolate gelato

just a few quality ingredients and an ice cream maker are all you need for this silky chocolate gelato

good quality chocolate added to hot ingredients

good quality chocolate added to hot ingredients

a quick stir and a smoothe result

a quick stir and a smooth result

hot mixture moved to a bowl to cool

hot mixture moved to a bowl to cool

then into the ice cream maker

then into the ice cream maker

soon there will be silky goodness ready for the freezer container

soon there will be silky goodness ready for the freezer container

I prefer a cold-proof glass  container for the freezer.

I prefer a cold-proof glass container for the freezer.

the next day, voila! Silky, not too sweet, richly chocolate gelato!

the next day, voila! Silky, not too sweet, richly chocolate gelato!

For the egg-free recipe:

3 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/4 c sugar
3 T. organic corn starch (push through a fine sieve)
pinch of kosher salt
7 OZ. semi-sweet chocolate (use a 60% bittersweet)
In a 4-quart saucepan, bring 2 1/2 c. milk to a boil over moderate heat. In a separate bowl mix the remaining 1/2 c. milk, sugar, cornstarch, and salt together with a whisk, until no lumps are visible. Add this mixture the boiling milk and whisk 3 minutes continuously. Contents will thicken nicely. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until completely melted. Transfer to another bowl and cool, stirring occasionally. To speed the cooling process, the bowl may be placed into a larger bowl of shallow ice water. When mixture is cool to the touch, add to ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Finally, transfer mixture to a freezer-safe container and freeze overnight. Before serving, defrost gelato for twenty minutes or until soft enough to scoop. Makes about a quart.
Bon Appetit!

Copyright © 2015 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

bountiful blueberries

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The best part of June in central Virginia is blueberry harvest.

Botanists estimate that blueberries burst onto the scene more than 13,000 years ago! The little blue fruit that our country has grown to know and love is indigenous to North America and has deep roots in our country’s history. These blue jewels are reputed to have both nutritional and medicinal properties, therefore I consume blueberries daily as part of my kale smoothie.

O'Neil blueberries beginning to ripen

O’Neil highbush blueberries beginning to ripen

This year I draped the blueberry plants in tulle and used clothespins to hold in place. Much improved method over bird netting. This idea was shared by a good garden friend. What do they remind you of? Ghosts or runaway brides?

This year I draped the blueberry plants in tulle and used clothespins to hold in place, a  much improved method over bird netting. This idea was shared by a veteran garden friend, Jan Spires. What do they remind you of? Ghosts or runaway brides?

O'Neil blueberry variety is my favorite here in my gardens. Large, juicy fruit greets me every day for nearly one month in June.

O’Neil blueberry variety is my favorite here in my central Virginia gardens. Large, juicy berries greet me every day for nearly one month in June.

After harvesting in the early morning, I place the unwashed fruit on a sheet pan and let them rest at room temperature for twenty-four hours. Any unripened berries will continue to ripen, and of course, I can snitch a handfull as I go by during the day! As the fruit ripens, I place in glass jars in the freezer. I am not a fan of plastic...

After harvesting in the early morning, I place the unwashed fruit on a sheet pan and let them rest at room temperature for twenty-four hours. Any unripe berries will continue to ripen, and of course, I snitch a handful as I go by during the day! When the fruit fully ripens, I place them in glass jars and place in the freezer. I am not a fan of plastic…

Forget the pancakes, waffles and crepes...popovers are fast, fun and deelish!

Forget the pancakes, waffles, and crepes…popovers are fast, fun and deelish!

 Sunday mornings I crave a wee breakfast that is special; a meal that celebrates the end of a very long week.

Sunday mornings I crave a wee breakfast that is special; a meal that celebrates the end of a very long week and a plentiful harvest!

can you taste this? Popovers made with almond milk are the best and fresh blueberry conserve, made at home in minutes is splendid with a bit of whipped cream

can you taste this? Popovers made with almond milk are the best and fresh blueberry conserve, made at home in minutes, is splendid with a bit of whipped cream

Cookbooks bulge with blueberry recipes, as this fruit is a national favorite. If you do not grow your own blueberries, find a pick-your-own farm nearby, pack up the kids, and head out for a morning of fun.

Most blueberries do not require any spraying, making them most desirable. In fall, the leaves turn a handsome scarlet hue. They are also easy grow plants, so why not consider a few for a sunny spot in your garden? Your local extension office can offer suggestions for the best variety in your growing zone and once established, this powerhouse berry will reward you for years to come.

Copyright © 2015 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

Arkansas, an escape like no other

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A very special reunion occurred May 11-14.

A very special reunion occurred May 11-14.

There is a TV host and lifestyle guru named P Allen Smith. His vision led him to land on the Arkansas River, just outside Little Rock. There, five years ago, he began to invite garden bloggers from around the USA for a two-day intensive. I was lucky to go in 2013 and again last week for the five-year reunion.

P Allen Smith of TV fame sharing his vision with his favorite garden bloggers

P Allen Smith of TV and garden fame sharing his home and vision with his favorite garden bloggers outside Little Rock, Arkansas (pallensmith.com)

as a group we did a lot of hugging and chatting...

as a group we did a lot of hugging and chatting…

Allen greets us all

Allen greets us all

even the girls came strolling in to see what all the activity was about

even the girls (and Amos, jr.) came strolling in to see what all the activity was about

we toured Moss Mountain Farm's main residence and admired the flowers from sponsors American Grown (americangrownflowers.org)

we toured Moss Mountain Farm’s main residence and admired the flowers from sponsors American Grown (americangrownflowers.org)

what inspiration at Moss Mountain Farm!

what inspiration at Moss Mountain Farm!

everyone enjoys the vistas from the rear porches...

everyone enjoys the vistas from the rear porches…

Mr. Duncan, the resident Scottie, was front and center and a hoot in the garden

Mr. Duncan, the resident Scottie, was front and center and a hoot in the garden

The lower level was a treat to stroll showing Allen's innate ability to create a charming home

the lower level of Allen’s residence was a treat to stroll showing his innate ability to create a charming home

while strolling the gardens, Allen shared his latest successes

while strolling the gardens, Allen shared his latest successes ~ quite an education!

views like this are everywhere

views like this are everywhere

while around the farm, critters galore. Allen's conservation of heritage breeds is laudable.

while around the farm, critters galore. Allen’s heritage conservation program of endangered breeds is laudable

while one of the Anatolian shepherds cools off in a field trough while guarding the White Dorper sheep

one of the Anatolian shepherds cools off in a field trough while guarding the White Dorper sheep

Allen's one-acre veggie garden evolves with bounty and creativity

Allen’s one-acre veggie garden evolves with bounty and creativity

a pair of swans set the stage for a funny story Allen delivered later that evening during Tales from the South live broadcast

a pair of Mute Swans set the stage for a funny story Allen delivered later that evening during Tales from the South live broadcast

heritage roosters feeling their oats and making an empressive show

heritage roosters feeling their oats and making an impressive show

a flock of White Dorpers from Africa and their soft and cuddly babes enjoy the bounty at Moss Mountain Farm

a flock of White Dorpers from Africa and their soft and cuddly babes enjoy the bounty at Moss Mountain Farm

while back in Little Rock, John from the Department of Tourism gave us an impressive walking tour of Main Street

while back in Little Rock, John from Little Rock Convention & Visitors Center gave us an impressive walking tour of Main Street

facades of Little Rock's history on Main Street impress

facades of Little Rock’s history on Main Street

the Little Rock (little rock.com)architectural details are another story

the Little Rock (little rock.com) architectural details are another story

we even met the Mayor of Little Rock who explained the impressive downtown restoration projects

we even met the Mayor of Little Rock who explained the impressive downtown restoration projects

impressive permeable pavers and water collection along Main Street, Little Rock

impressive permeable pavers and water collection program along Main Street, Little Rock

the historic Little Rock trolley ride was fun for all

the historic Little Rock trolley ride was fun for all

more beautiful flowers from American Grown

more beautiful flowers from American Grown

I had to give one of the Big Sisters at Moss Mountain Farm a hug, as she is 350 years old

I had to give one of the Big Sisters at Moss Mountain Farm a hug, as this Post Oak is 350 years old. There are three on this property. 

this presentation by Corbin and Rachel  from Flexzilla (flexzilla.com) was informative and entertaining. Legacy Manufacturing Company invented this fantastic hose...every garden should have at least one.

this presentation by Corbin and Rachel from Flexzilla (flexzilla.com) was informative and entertaining. Legacy Manufacturing Company invented this fantastic hose…every garden should have at least one.

Allen worked with Legacy to offer a colorful line of the Flexzilla hoses

Allen worked with Legacy to offer a Watercolors Collection of colorful Flexzilla hoses

Crescent Garden (crescentgarden.com) wowed us with their products of functional containers loaded with style

Crescent Garden (crescentgarden.com) wowed us with their products of functional containers loaded with style

Crescent Garden's jazzy planter...one of many

Crescent Garden’s jazzy planter…one of many

Lois Chaplin and her wonderful, knowledgeable team always make for an interesting presentation (bonnieplants.com) Make sure and download Bonnie Plants new garden ap...

Lois Chaplin and her wonderful, knowledgeable team always make for an educational presentation (bonnieplants.com) Make sure and download Bonnie Plants new garden ap…

Bonnie Plants (bonnieplants.com) since 1918 provides plant material to over 15,000 plant retailers around the USA

Bonnie Plants since 1918 provides plant material to over 15,000 plant retailers around the USA

Meals were festive and American Grown and Stargazer Barn (stargazerbarn.com) were generous sponsors

Meals were festive while American Grown and Stargazer Barn (stargazerbarn.com) were generous sponsors

two bloggers show off the fanciful garland headdresses at the final dinner

two bloggers show off the fanciful garland headdresses at the final dinner

Jobes Organics blow me away every time they present their latest line of products...(easygardener.com)

Jobes Organics blow me away every time they present their latest line of products…(easygardener.com)

Sakata Home Grown (sakatavegetables.com) breed and produce seed found in many garden centers and online

Sakata Home Grown (sakatavegetables.com) breed and produce seed found in many garden centers and online ~ I am growing their Lilliput Melon and cayenne pepper this season. Notice the tall stand of asparagus just over Allen’s left shoulder…good eating in spring! Envy!

Allen and I in the one-are garden; a special friend in a special place (pallensmith.com)

Allen and I in the one-acre veggie garden; a special friend in a special place

Special thanks to the city of Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau, The Capital Hotel (capitalhotel.com), Kathleen Williford of American Grown; Steve, Carolyn, Will, and Netta of Aromatique (aromatique.com); Paula, Cesar and Mark of Crescent Garden; Joe from First Nature (firstnature.net); Corbin, Rachel and Andy of Flexzilla; Clemente, Jen, Martin, and Rebecca of Jobes Organics; Tracy and Alecia of Sakata Home Grown; and Bill from Stargazer Barn; and a huge shout out to P. Allen Smith Hortus Ltd, and Associates Staff for making this reunion one for the record books. You all inspire, educate and help provide for Allen’s magnificent Heritage Conservation Programs.  Anyone wishing to visit Moss Mountain Farm, simply go to the website for scheduling and special events at P. Allen Smith.com. Shop P.Allen Smith.com for Allen’s personal collection of online garden home gifts.

Copyright © 2015 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved