Thanksgiving…remembering love


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This week nearing Thanksgiving, thoughts of passed people, pets, and unexplainable occurrences tiptoe into my consciousness.  Quiet trickles of images, sweetness, perfect scenarios, and moments of happiness drop in… people who showed appreciation for my talents, pets who loved unconditionally, and divine experiences that gave me a glimpse of spirit. They all circle around me now. I embrace them all.


Formosa lily blooming in early November

During what turned out to be the last weeks of my mother’s life, one afternoon I rested at the end of her bed and in silence, she simply reached down and stroked my head. No words necessary. What had often been an tumultuous relationship with years of distance and silence, we had finally reached a place silent acceptance, forgiveness, and love. Tomorrow would be her 102nd birthday.

Mother photo

Mother as a model in NYC. 

calm sky

Photo by Sindre Strøm on

Ragtime Rags, a doberman/lab filled my life with constant companionship for thirteen years. While young, she preferred to run ahead while I reigned a spirited horse behind her — over fields, ravines, and open space. During later life, she enjoyed our condo/air conditioned lifestyle and daily walks to the local park. In the city, strangers would cross the street when we approached. They did not notice her alert face, shiny coat, and wagging tail. Never did she pull on the leash, yet always alert kept one step ahead by my side. When she left this life, I buried her in the country, a place where I returned in 2000. Her resting place is only two miles away from Swallowtail Cottage. Her headstone resides with me.


When we were younger…Ragtime Rags and I


Resting in my garden

Cinnamon was a golden retriever who resided with clients of mine. I was asked to sit with her when the couple went out. For a few years, she and I enjoyed romps on the property, as her “parents” were too fragile to go for walks on uneven terrain. While I enjoyed their pool, Cinnamon, who had a scary encounter with water as a puppy, gazed at me from the solid edge. I walked to the steps, invited her in, and with the aid of a tennis ball, she joined me in the water. I cradled her under her belly as she paddled about, then I returned her to the steps. Soaking wet, she exited, shook, and from the look on her face, I could tell we had crossed a threshold. Later reports stated that she often confidently sat on the top step of the pool, cooling her belly.


Cinnamon enjoying a plush life and deep thinking

I blogged about Miss Kitty when she left this life in 2011. Although I hosted numerous felines throughout my adult life, Miss Kitty was my true love. She had been a barn cat for her first four years, and when we met, she wanted out. We were like Velcro for eleven years. Her presence is still very much here, as she has a tool box, and keeps the icemaker going. As a spirit Kitty, she is an easy keeper. Her ashes reside on the printer in my office, one of her favorite napping spots. When I become ash, we will be sprinkled together somewhere in a beautiful garden.

Pleased with her investigation 2009

Miss Kitty, the feline love of my life.

The Washington National Cathedral in Washington, DC is an ethereal place. I attended regular services there after my mother died in 1995. Arriving early, I sat in the front row, in order to take communion following the choir and before the masses who sat behind me. One bright, breezy Sunday, this position allowed me to notice an unusual light play. And by play I do not mean theatre. During this sermon, I noticed that the sunlight coming through one magnificent set of stained glass, ebbed and flowed according to the cadence of the sermon. Yes, that is what occurred. This was no artificial manipulation by theatre crew.

stained glasses

Photo by Magda Ehlers on

Another time while in deep mourning for my mother, I knelt in the Cathedral’s small chapel reserved for loss. Not in prayer, but simply present among the tiers of glowing red votives, suddenly I felt my chest open up as if fingers were painlessly revealing my heart. No other sensation felt until I flinched and returned to reality. Never has this happened again. I often wonder what would have happened if I had stayed in that moment. Would the divine have had a message for me?

white and red candles on black steel frame

Photo by David Dibert on

Whatever the meaning, Thanksgiving is a time of reflection and remembrance. I welcome the trickle of happy yet somewhat bittersweet thoughts that visit now.

Are you experiencing similar thoughts this time of year? If so, please add to the comments section of this post.

Happy and safe Thanksgiving to all and may you too remember love this holiday.

Copyright © 2019 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

At last


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Summer finally loosed her grip on central Virginia. Daytime temperatures now range between 47F-78F. Ahhh.

This year, heat and humidity seemed to last forever, forcing this gardener outdoors before dawn for chores. The manic mockingbird, and the mouthy rooster from two properties away were my only sunrise companions amongst the persistent weeds. Mowing occurred only after the sun was below the cypress hedge. Waaay below.

My gardens are now nineteen years old, requiring no watering even during the driest conditions. Live and learn. In my next life, I hope that I remember all this garden taught me.

Now with pleasant daytime temperatures  I shall report on the fun (read leasure) I shared yesterday. Within a short drive from Swallowtail Cottage, one of our local vineyards ( hosts thrilling polo matches that are free to the public. The only caveat is purchasing your adult beverage from the wine wheels that frequently putter by in the form of a golf cart.

Below are captured images of this blissful afternoon:

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Sadly the founder David King succumbed to cancer this year. Here is a link paying homage to his legacy…

Thanks to David’s vision and generosity, hundreds of area residents decompress with family and friends most Sundays during summer months. October is my month to venture outdoors.

What is your favorite month for outdoor activities?

Copyright © 2019 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved





Keto “potatoes”


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As I continue my quest for an improved way to eat, reading Keto recipe books inspired today’s recipe.

Cauliflower is an outstanding vegetable. It is in the cruciferous family that is naturally high in fiber and B-vitamins. It provides antioxidants and phytonutrients that can protect against cancer. It also contains fiber to enhance weight loss and digestion, choline that is essential for learning and memory, and many other important nutrients.

Yet the white, knobby blob can quickly become boring/bland/meh. So when I purchased a large organic head yesterday, I was determined to shake it up a bit.

While exploring the fridge this AM, I pulled out a stick of organic butter, a chunk of raw blue cheese, and the mighty cruciferous “head”. Since the oven was already hot from an earlier project, in went the soon-to-be-transformed florets.

Recipe        Serves 4

One large head of organic cauliflower – leaves and core removed, broken into large florets

4 OZ. organic butter- from pastured cows

1/2 C.  blue cheese (I use raw)

Himalayan pink salt to taste – adjust as you go along

Heavy cream 1/2 C or to taste

Juice of 1/2 fresh lemon

Preheat the oven to 400F. Rack center position.

Cover a sheet pan with parchment and place cauliflower florets in one layer, sprinkled with a few drops of olive oil. Place in oven and roast for 20 minutes.
When tender (poked with the point of a sharp knife), remove the florets from the oven and place on a rack to cool slightly.

When florets are still warm, add them to a food processor.

P1070128Add the blue cheese, butter, and salt to the floret filled bowl.

P1070129Process a few seconds until contents blend. Add in heavy cream until you like the consistency. Continue to blend a few seconds more, scraping the bowl occasionally with a rubber spatula. Add the fresh lemon juice before the last spin.


Voila! The perfect substitute for mashed potatoes. With the holidays nearing, Keto followers will be delighted with this dish. If you don’t care for blue cheese, substitute an extra sharp cheddar.

Easy peasy. Let me know in the comments section, how you like this quick dish.

And as my brain continues to work on this subject, I bet this dish could be quickly adapted into “potato” cakes by simply adding a beaten egg to a cup of mash and pan frying in butter.

Tune in to my next blog for my tiptoe into chicken liver. So difficult to get my head around this chicken part, until my stomach rebelled against ground meat and bacon two weeks ago. I must admit,  this dish created a delightfully tasty and equally easy recipe with many health benefits to boot.


Pssst! Here’s what I ate for lunch today. Organic romaine topped with dollops of  my chicken liver pate, egg and chopped fennel salad, sauteed mushrooms, and of course Keto “potatoes” all drizzled with a bit of organic olive oil. Prepared ahead, these tasty items last a few days in the fridge ready for quick, wholesome meals. Agree?

Cheers to healthy eating!

Copyright © 2019 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

When critters call


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Good morning all!

stairs from the garden

Garden challenges can sometimes be an uphill climb. Let me share what I learned this summer.

Back to garden topics: I am having issues with not ONE but THREE adult racoons who have been a nuisance in my Free Union gardens since May. They really appreciate my organic gardening efforts as they visit every night.

Once we figured out what was invading/defecating, I conferred with our local wildlife center and tried all of their repellant suggestions. When lights, noise, and ammonia were not not effective, I continued my quest. This morning, I want to share DOES work, so that my garden followers may add these to their battery of knowledge.

I love racoons, yet they have been a huge nuisance this year. Since early spring, I wracked my brain to outsmart/repel the digging/climbing critters.

animal whiskers raccoon

Photo by Olia Gozha on

What DOES work:

Spent (used) coffee grounds! I collect spent coffee grounds from our local Whole Foods Market barista (they are happy to give to me) and then toss the grounds wherever the racoons are digging. I enjoy the scent of coffee, yet never acquired a taste for the beverage, as I cannot make it taste like the professionals. So, spreading the often warm grounds is pleasurable. Just wear old clothes and rubber gloves, as this process is messy and grounds scent lingers on skin.

beans brew caffeine coffee

Photo by Pixabay on

Did you know that spent coffee grounds become a neutral PH and add a nice dose of nitrogen to plants? Additionally, if you keep an earthworm farm or want to treat worms in your raised beds, those wigglers crave coffee grounds!

Back at Swallowtail Cottage: The family of racoons obsessed over my mature daffodil bulb/grape hyacinth beds during August and I just discovered that if I applied pine bark mulch over the area, the racoons quit digging there! Voila! So off to Lowe’s I went with Auto for bags of the stuff. I can never apply too much mulch here…hence my nickname “Mulchqueen”. I should own a pine forest.

tall trees

Photo by Trygve Finkelsen on

With this newfound knowledge, yesterday I applied (very fragrant) pine mulch to an area where I just planted new echinacea plants and, yay! this AM, NO DIGGING! Hurrah!

Who knew?

Ah ha!  My plan for next April/May when my blueberries bloom/fruit, I plan to strew plenty of coffee grounds around that area to ward off predation. And hopefully the silly raccoons will not do a repeat performance and get tangled in the draped tulle! 😉

Let me know if this garden tidbit is helpful. Or perhaps this is common knowledge and I missed that memo. Either way, please share this post with other gardeners where racoons are a problem.

A green/sustainable solution, yes? Since coffee shops are a dime a dozen around the planet, most of them will gladly give gardeners the spent grounds to work wonders in their gardens. Just bring your own bucket.

Coffee filters are also biodegradable, so add them to your raised beds for a carbon hit.

Off to more garden chores. Look forward to the first frost and fewer biting insects. Alas, I will miss hosting summer hummingbirds.

Happy fall. Happy gardening!

falll in the foothills of the Blue Ridge

Let me know in the comments section if this information helps.

Copyright © 2019 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved



Keto bread revisited


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This morning I was in the mood to shake up breakfast. Too many green smoothies, too many bacon/eggs consumed this summer and I am a bit bored. As I poked around the Keto Reset FB page, I ran across a recipe for Keto Bread…90 second Keto Bread.
IF you enjoy pancakes, this is the Keto version for you.

The ingredients follows (my version):

3 T. almond flour (I had TJ’s brand in the freezer)
1 XL egg (I use organic, free range)
1/2t. baking powder (make sure your powder is aluminum free)
1/8t. salt (I use Himalayan salt)
1 T butter, melted (I use organic butter from grass fed cows)
1/2 c. frozen blueberries (optional, I use TJ’s tiny Boreal region wild berries)

Whisk all this together in a small bowl, then pour into a preheated 8″ saute pan (heat#4) where another T. of butter is melted. Since I do not use a microwave for cooking foods, I went the saute pan route. And to my surprise this lovely batter puffed up. If you add blueberries, add them to the top of the batter after it pours into the pan.
Peek under the edge until the “bread” is golden brown. This takes a bit of time, so don’t rush this step. Once turned, this pancake quickly turned to brown on the second side.  Gently peek under the first side’s edge using a rubber spatula. When golden and set, turn using a large, flat spatula.
Keep “bread” in a warming oven until sausage and egg are cooked.

Enjoy the photos below and give this a try.

Paired with pork sausage and a fried egg (cooked in the same pan), this becomes a one pan meal.
Of course if you want to celebrate your success, a wee bit of organic raw agave or honey and another pat of butter can be melted together and poured over the meal.

If I owned a waffle iron, I bet this batter would work well. Let me know if this works in your waffle iron.


I recently purchased this 8″ non-stick ceramic saute pan and love it. It is free of PTFE, PFOA, lead, and cadmium. The batter sets up quickly; just keep an eye on the batter’s bottom and turn when golden.


An 8″ saute pan is the perfect platform for this batter. Melt a pat of organic butter on #5 heat and pour batter into pan.  The original recipe called for zapping this batter in the microwave for 90 seconds and then browning; I never use a microwave when cooking food. This pan is the perfect alternative and saves a step. I am all for that.


Once browned on one side, simply turn and brown on second side. It is very tender. If you love pancakes, you will love this “bread”. It may be halved/shared or eaten as one portion, depending on your appetite.


Plate “bread” and top with a sunny side, organic egg. Concealed under the egg is a free-range pork patty.

Let me know if you enjoy this breakfast. Cheers!

Copyright © 2019 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

My report on Keto


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Three months ago, I began Keto… just stumbled on the information and liked what I read from the onset. Fortunately, I am a healthy, mature woman, and the traditional food pyramid no longer worked for me, so I decided why not?

The first three days of sugar detox was mildly unpleasant. Getting my personal eating routine fine tuned took another few weeks. I joined the Keto Reset FB group and receive instant feedback from folks online. Wise feedback. I located organic, grass-fed/finished meat/food products at the local farmer’s market, Whole Foods Market, and Trader Joe’s.

When I had my annual physical in June, I had lost five pounds. Moreover, since then my body, mind, and spirit have all improved. I feel grounded. Less tired. No cravings, while intermittent fasting is an amazing experience. Even gardening chores before breakfast astound me with increased stamina!

I rekindled my love of bacon. For most my life I avoided eating fat of any kind. Fat makes us fat, right? Wrong! This mentality caused me to eat too many carbs and sugar triggering weight gain, constant grazing, and general anxiety. Since beginning Keto, slowly rendered organic, sugar-free bacon is my morning ritual enjoyed with battered eggs (cooked in plenty of rendered bacon fat).


A long-forgotten iron pan is perfect for rendering organic bacon. I cut the slices in half to make them more manageable.


I revisit my love of bacon with all the fat. Yum!


Bacon rendered on #3 (low) heat creates the perfect seasoning for this old iron pan.


Even my splatter guard fits the pan perfectly!


For the battered eggs, I use an 8″ SS pan, generously greased with 1/4 c. of rendered fat.


Before I used bacon fat, eggs would stick horribly to this SS pan. Now, no problem.


In just minutes, a satisfying breakfast. The beverage can be hot with cream or a cold cocoa smoothie with supplements added.


Excess bacon fat is stored into a reused jam jar in the fridge. No need anymore for butter/ghee. No your eyes are not wonky, this photo is. 😉


Cooked bacon pieces are stored in a glass container in the fridge for other breakfasts.


SCORE!! Bought from my farmer neighbor at the farmer’s market yesterday…grass fed/finished marrow bones. These will be roasted at 450F for twenty minutes with a wee bit of salt & pepper. I will return the spent bones to the farmer and he will offer to his herd guard dogs.


Another SCORE!! Trader Joe’s finally restocked Belgian Haricot Vert beans…the only bean I eat and it is a perfect, low carb veggie. Found in the freezer case, these are super from freezer to steamer…two minutes and Voila! A dash of organic olive oil, Himalayan salt, and perhaps some sliced almonds make this humble vegetable elegant!

Want more info? Simply type Keto into the search bar of this blog’s home page, you can see more of my Keto recipes and revelations.

I am one happy camper right now.

Let me read your thoughts in the comments section. Do you Keto? If you are considering an eating change, give Keto a chance. Allow at least three months to work out the kinks and make this diet yours…so glad that I did.

And YES! I do eat a huge salad of organic, leafy greens in the afternoon (now around 2 PM), usually with a grass-fed burger, a small hunk of raw Gruyere (Swiss) or Comte (France), and a boiled egg sprinkled with organic olive oil and organic coconut aminos. Tasty and very satisfying. No need for dinner, just 625 mg of magnesium malate and another chunk of cheese and I am done eating for the day. My IF window is widening all on its own, so fat be gone! How wonderful not to have cravings anymore.

PS: As mentioned before, I do not receive any compensation for mentioning brands or businesses. This blog’s sole purpose is to educate and inspire.


Copyright © 2019 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved 


for the love of rock, II


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Those who follow this blog know how much I love rock, boulders, stones, and pebbles. For nearly twenty years, I have resided on a half-acre in the foothills of of the Blue Ridge, USA.
Back in 2001, I only had one option when shopping for a home. I knew where I wanted to buy, but had no options. The house I bought was a badly neglected, twenty-eight YO fixer-upper. The gardens were non-existent, yet I had to relinquish my farmhouse rental in thirty days. This blog has recorded my ongoing projects, mosty DIY, requiring all of my coping and problem-solving skills.

As mentioned afore, this property is sloped on one end creating many challenges and solutions for erosion control. Over and over. Two steps forward, one step back…for nearly two decades.

Lower patio area

Lower patio area prior to major storm erosion. Replaced mulch and rosemary with pea gravel, peonies and rock.

During summer when temps rise quickly, morning chores begin before the neighbor’s rooster calls. As heat and humidity rise, I default indoors for most of the day. YouTube provides hours of informative content regarding gardens, history, and fabulous inspiration. Standing stones are often discussed when visiting the UK, and I took them to heart when arranging found rock on my wee property.
For years, I gathered rock and stone and hauled it home. Concrete paths and stoops were jackhammered out, replaced with purchased boulders for both front and rear access.


Front boulder at door. All beds in this photo are changed entirely.


Today’s view of house front. See my hanging chad bay window? So glad to have calm in that bed. What do you think of a large planter under the bay filled with ferns?


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 to keep weeds at bay!


I even add pebbles to decorative planters around the property. Tending live container plants is too labor intensive, and I love the look of pebbles. “Rock is forever” is my mantra.


Even wee Carolina wrens love bathing in this shallow saucer, adorned with a stone I carried back from New Mexico.


This is a winter shot of the front bed where I divide the turf from the mulched bed with river pebbles. During the growing season, this divide requires some weeding, but is effective and slows down water during heavy rains.


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???


Anywhere there is mulch, I tend to stabilize with found rock. Up till now, I usually placed rock flat. NOW, thanks to standing stones inspiration, I am retracing my rock edging. By digging a small trench where the stones lay, I reset them standing. This gives more of an edge, slowing water and keeping mulch in place. Voila!


These beauties did not require much standing, yet do a great job.


Just trenched and upright as of this morning, water will slow down and mulch will remain where I placed it.


One upright stone in the peony bed does a splendid job combined with others along this sloped bed edge.


Along the back yard, a wider swath of pea gravel combines nicely with smaller “standing stones” to slow water. Turf one side, mulch the other.


With an occasional blower sweep along the rocks and a strim from the Grass Hog, mulch remains mulch and turf remains at bay…all being very tidy.


This garden plaque says it all.

As I now sit in my pleasant air conditioned cottage for the hot July afternoon, all aches vanish from the hand and knee weeding/toiling early this morning. Sharing my garden success with readers and fellow gardeners brings endless pleasure.

Gardens are for sharing and I hope you enjoyed being a vicarious visitor.

Keto followers: End of month three and my IF is going great and for longer time. In fact I now go out early AM without eating and do plenty of garden chores before retreating from summer heat. IF has raised the bar for energy levels. WaHooWa!

Have you learned anything today?

Copyright © 2019 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved





give a gardener a cool summer day…


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and she will take full advantage! Following weeks of high temperatures and dew points, Monday finally delivered a 60F morning high that will remain in place all week. On my garden schedule I had a large project looming and now was the ideal time to toil outdoors. Cooler temps allowed me the stamina to complete today’s chores by 9 AM.

Gardening, I have learned, will make a habitual weather watcher out of us all. Although my favorite time of year to garden is November-March, summer months demand attention. Weeds from all directions attempt to reside on my little half-acre, forcing me to  regularly go on patrol and snuff out (read yank/dig) any unwanted greenery.

In recent years, I became enamoured with the history of heirloom daffodils and bought many bulbs for Swallowtail Cottage. I chose dozens from catalogues and planted them into five unused raised beds. Long ago, I gave up fighting insects and fungal issues when growing veggies in the mid-atlantic region of the eastern US. (Zone 7a)


Just a sampling of my heirloom daffodils. Such a delight after a long winter. Varieties date from 1600-1800. 


This says it all on a summer day at Swallowtail Cottage.


This raised bed hosts both daffodil bulbs and my Wow-zer! Catnip


Thanks to the barista at the local Whole Foods Market, often I collect spent tea and coffee grounds and add to my raised bed soil for the worms…after bulbs were dug. Worms LOVE coffee grounds and I learned that once used, the acidic grounds become neutral.


Neatly turned soil with amendment underneath. What shall I plant next? Perhaps fall lettuce.


Beginning of the 2019 heirloom daffodil harvest. These bulbs quickly multiplied, requiring digging. They will become a cash crop at market this September, and I will continue the tradition of spreading heirloom varieties. If you desire heirlooms in your gardens, contact Old House Gardens and they will mail a catalogue and help in any way.


The drying table in the shed is filled to capacity with daff bulbs. They will reside here for up to a week, then dry soil will be removed, then they will be hung in net bags and held in the cool, dry basement until weighed and sold.


Harvested nepeta waiting for a basement transfer. As I dug the bulbs, the nepeta had to be removed, leaves were hand picked, rinsed, and spun dried. Since the shed is filled with bulbs, the patio table and sweater dryer will be temporary alternative spots for drying.


As I toiled, I could not overlook the stunning bloomers in my gardens. Award Winner Little Lime Hydrangea (Panicle Hydrangea)…planted in March 2018, is already a star. Oakleaf blooms so much earlier that this specimen is eye candy during steamy, hot summer days. As a dwarf variety, this beauty will be welcome for years to come.


Another newbie to my gardens is Tickseed (Coreopsis v. ‘Moonbeam’). Planted in June 2018, this cheerful perennial with its daisy-like lemon yellow flowers, blooms throughout the summer. Fern-like foliage is light and airy. In 1992 this garden gem won Perennial Plant of the Year. And best of all, it attracts pollenators.


Another showstopper this time of year is Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium purpureum). As soon as the buds begin to open butterflies spend all day nectaring. Talk about a WOW! factor! This herbaceous, late-blooming perennial is native to much of the USA. It is a wildflower and an herb that was used as an herbal remedy to lower fevers and other maladies. It does like wet feet so every morning I empty the dehumidifier water onto its roots.


If readers recall the front path redo a few years back…this photo reveals the challenges I continue to face with this property. I often say if I could get my hands on the guy who graded this place, I would hang him from the utility pole. Alas, the path work stopped the previously mulched path from eroding, yet the pea gravel allows massive weed infestation, requiring hand and knees weed removal. As often as I think on this challenge, (don’t want steps) I will continue to add pea gravel. At least it is a forever stone. Any ideas from readers?


The top of the path joins the wider entrance path, and my happy Morris Buxus, which I continue to adore. The dwarf Nandina were removed (failed to thrive), so remain the Buxus for now. The “hanging chad” bay window continues to dangle, yet I have my eye on a Houzz Corten planter…filled with perennial ferns…I think may be a simple, elegant, easy solution.

Adore my wee Morris boxwood!

Adore my wee Morris boxwood? The two tons of river rock installed in this bed requires even more, as ground settles. My nickname was formerly “Mulch Queen”… now it is “Rock Queen!”


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


Last year’s view of house front. See my “hanging chad” bay window? So glad to have calm in that bed now. What do you think of a large planter under the bay filled with ferns?


On another topic: The Eastern Bluebird box with three predator guards and Hardie Plank strips on roof helps protect the nest from four-leggers and heat. I rarely have summer nesting Bluebirds, yet this year this box is in high demand.

Tired of losing wee toads to the window well, I added screen.

Tired of losing wee toads to the window well, I added screen until I can imagine a better solution.

Summer Daze!

Summer Daze!

So goes the month of July 2019.

May August be kind.

Disclaimer: This blog is intended for both educational and inspirational purposes. Author receives no compensation for mentioning brands or businesses.

Copyright © 2019 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved


Oh July, July


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When temperatures/humidity rise in central Virginia, I spend time indoors…in air conditioning.
That is when I am not out weeding, mowing, and weeding some more. Surely, I mentioned before that I loathe Virginia summers. Although, Swallowtail Cottage is merely a half-acre, this small property demands regular attention during the growing season. This year so far, violent storms dump soaking rains which, in turn, nurture any weed seeds that blow in from my neighbors’ unkempt fields. Ah, life in the country. Hear the small violins playing?


This is the view many summer mornings through my casements in central Virginia. At least all that moisture is outside…thank angels for air conditioning.

Not only does my outdoor activity wane in July, my appetite follows suit. This past April, I began the Keto style of eating. Unwanted pounds had crept on my body and the food pyramid no longer works for me. Not only do I have more energy, I no longer graze, and cravings are a thing of the past. The best part, I no longer eat/miss sugar! AND I weigh five pounds less! 

The best part of this food shift is, I rediscovered my love of bacon and savor every bite at breakfast. I found a brand of organic, no sugar bacon and it is delicious! Mostly beef and eggs make up the rest of my protein.

This week, with temperatures in the 90’s and humidity in the 70’s, I remembered my recipe for Spiced Roasted Chicken Thighs, which appears in my recently published memoir. I will share it with followers here:


Begin with ten pieces of skinless, boneless, organic chicken thighs. This week I tried the Trader Joe’s brand, and they surpass Whole Foods offerings. I do not eat chicken skin (another story),  and I imagine this recipe could include skin if you indulge.

Spiced Roasted Chicken Thighs

Preheat oven to 450F. Shelf middle rack.

Open the packs of chicken, without rinsing, and place in a large bowl.

Place an assortment of your favorite bird herbs/spices over the thighs. I like a combination of salt, pepper, cumin, cardamom, paprika, curry, sage, thyme, NM red chile or any of these in any combination.

Using kitchen gloves, gently toss the spices with the thighs and place thighs top side down on a parchment lined sheet pan.

Melt 1/3 C. rendered bacon grease and distribute over all thighs.


Roast thighs for 15 minutes. Turn and roast another 15-20 minutes until internal temperature is 165F. Juices will render and when cooled, and make a delicious, savory jelly.


Is your mouth watering? Cool the thighs and enjoy as finger food, sliced over salads, or as a quick protein snack. This quantity lasts for days, held in the fridge, depending on the number of mouths fed.

Cold chicken on a hot/steamy day is just the ticket. Made in a large batch, this recipe saves time in the summer kitchen, and may be added to a schedule when the oven is already hot from other baking.

Bon Appetit!

PS: If you wonder why I write “do not rinse chicken” this trick prevents any contamination from sink splatter. Trust me, this works for any poultry. And using gloves makes easy the overall task of handling raw meat. Just dont touch anything outside the bowl until thighs are on the baking sheet. 😉

Let me know in the comments section how you like this recipe.

Copyright © 2019 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved



Kale, the ultimate chip


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BEFORE you scrunch up your nose and read elsewhere, I invite readers to indulge. This time of year, field grown kale is abundant at our farmer’s market. What you see here is ONE bunch, putting to shame the pale kale offered at area stores. Storage tip: when I return home from the market, I slice the kale stem ends off a bit, stand the bunch in a bowl of water, and store in the fridge until I get around to using the leaves. There the leaves perk up and are ready for any recipe. Today I chose kale chips.


When I cannot eat anymore steamed kale, I turn to kale chips. Easy peasy. Just rinse the kale, shake off any water, remove spines, tear leaves into pieces, place into a large bowl, sprinkle with organic olive oil and Himalayan pink salt, and bake on parchment covered sheet pans…350F for 10-12 minutes (I use convection).


Remove sheet pans from oven and slide toasted kale leaves into a large bowl (just lift the paper and form into a V). Immediately sprinkle kale chips with a healthy dose of nutritional yeast while they remain hot. Let cool. Continue batches. FYI: nutritional yeast packs a punch of B vitamins and adds a pleasant cheesy flavor.


Voila! A handsome batch of kale chips. Munch as they are; add to salads, or sprinkle over omelets. Keep chips covered (I store them in a cool oven). Eat within a few days…or minutes depending on who is home. 😉

As readers may remember from my last post, the end of April, I began the Keto diet. This is a keto friendly recipe and a healthy way to consume the powerhouse Kale.

Have I convinced readers to try this simple recipe?

Bon Appetit!

Copyright © 2019 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved