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).

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

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

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

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Even my splatter guard fits the pan perfectly!

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

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

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

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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. 😉

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

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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.

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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.

Cheers!

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.

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

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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?

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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!

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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.

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

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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.

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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???

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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!

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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)

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

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

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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!”

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

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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?

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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?

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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

gone Keto

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The end of April, I discovered the Keto diet and learned from many YouTube posts on the topic. I decided to try it. After all, I knew I was addicted to sugar, chocolate and always felt like I needed to eat something…for most of the last eighteen years.

Of course, during that time I hit menopause and got older, much older. Twenty pounds crept onto my body, despite my demanding physical chores here at Swallowtail Cottage,  and finally I said, “STOP!!”

Reboot.

What appealed to me about Keto was the meat factor. And bacon. I was brought up on the notion that fat is bad for us. Some are. Yet with my new market neighbor, who raises only grass fed/finished chicken, beef, and pork I am in Keto heaven.

For the past twenty years I stuck to organic/sustainably raised produce and other foods, mostly from Whole Foods Market. Now I seek even more, locally raised food and enjoy supporting this effort. In the last post I mentioned Harmony Hill Farm. If you have not visited their web site, do. Quickly you will learn how hard it is to be a real farmer. Yes, I whine about weather conditions here on my half-acre, but when one speaks of hundreds of acres, dozens of animals of variety…now that takes pride, dedication, patience of a saint, and stamina.

Revelation:

Since I live alone, smoothies are the quickest way to ingest veggies, supplements and not so perfect produce. I rarely prepare a sit down meal during warmer months. Upon more food research, I learned that some veggies are not absorbed properly if consumed raw…like spinach and broccoli. Yet one can miss essential enzymes if veggies are steamed…so, this morning as I prepared my AM smoothie, I steamed a large handful of organic spinach for two minutes, then for good measure, added a handful of raw spinach to the pitcher. Then,

Back up to the beginning of this smoothie. Two weeks ago, I discovered a brand of organic bacon that is also sugar free at Whole Foods Market. And, wow, is it delicious! Since I am always looking to have fast food at home, I render 4 oz. at a time, save the drippings in a glass jar, store the uneaten portion in the fridge, and this way I always have cooked bacon at the ready.

Now my go to breakfast is bacon and egg(s), and a green smoothie. This morning was my one-step-closer to a wholesome, fast food breakfast.

Warm two strips of cooked bacon in the microwave, 5 seconds.

Pour 8 OZ unsweetened almond/walnut milk into Vitamix pitcher. (I make my own)
Add any not-perfect raw lettuce.
Add one large handful of raw organic spinach.
Add steamed spinach (two handfuls raw, steamed two minutes)
Add any prescribed supplements (I open the capsules)
Add 1/4 t. each of ground cinnamon and ginger (for inflammation)
Add 1 T. nutritional yeast (B vitamins)
Add 1/4 t. Matcha powder (organic)
Add 1 or 2 organic hard boiled eggs (depending on my morning activity)
Add 1 t. Raw Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (with the Mother)
Add one dipper of organic wheat grass juice powder (MAJU Superfoods, Amazon)
Pinch of Himalayan pink salt

When I reached the egg portion of breakfast, I thought, since I have boiled eggs in the fridge (great go-to snack), I would just toss a peeled egg into the Vitamix…and will not need to fire up the stove-top. Yes!

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Adding the boiled egg to the pitcher created a lovely texture to the overly veggie mix.

I am not a Vitamix saleswoman, but after trying every smoothie maker at Bed, Bath, & Beyond, I bit the bullet and ordered the highly rated, yet pricey Vitamix 5200. To soften the cost, I rummaged down in the basement, and posted many items no longer used on FB marketplace and voila! in just hours, I raised enough cash to offset the cost of the mighty Vitamix! And no yard sales necessary! Good creates good.

So to end this tale of breakfast, I am moving along in Keto. No longer do I crave sweet chocolate or carbs. I have suffered with leg cramps recently, and from the Keto Reset FB Group (of hardcore Keto folks who follow their macros), I learned that this is one side effect of Keto. Onto the new learning curve of balancing electrolytes and moi as I transition away from a life of carbs and sugar. Solo water, made at home using Himalayan pink salt, appears to be fixing the leg cramp issue.

Let me know if Keto is a way of life for you. If not, this smoothie, I promise is one for the menu.

Disclaimer: I do not receive any compensation for mentioning brands in this post.

In the meantime, it is a sunny 80F, the blueberries are ripening under the tulle,

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and eager market customers await my organic berries come Saturday.

Oh those blueberries!

At any rate, I always love hearing from you.

Copyright © 2019 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

she’s baaaack!

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I rallied. I overcame February and March influenza and pneumonia. OK! Enough!

As I convalesced and resigned myself to bed, my Smart Sony TV and YouTube became my go-to sanity. Thank heavens for channels which transported my weary body to the great gardens of Italy, England, and France, all hosted by Monty Don. Amazing Places on our Planet is another channel that convinced me I had become an angel, riding the back of a drone across continents. Brilliant videos! One can fulfill their bucket list on YouTube. Why spend one’s life in airports, lines, and crowed aircraft when in just a few clicks, one can visit the most beautiful places on our planet from the privacy of one’s bedroom? One day there will be smell-a-vision and I will be complete.

This month Swallowtail Cottage emerged with lush blooms, smothered weeds, departed needy plants, and as of yesterday eight tons of brown gravel that refreshed a tired driveway and paths. All events lifted my spirits to a new level of optimism regarding home ownership. Mother Nature missed my gardens with late frosts which ruin buds and spoil the essence of spring. I am awash with spring’s glory!

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These tulips are new to my gardens. They are a rare heirloom which multiply! I lost most, but these seem to be happy.

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The snowflake viburnum are awash in blooms. These three shrubs are sixteen years old! Peonies (on right) are chest high and loaded with buds!

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The bridal wreath spirea is now lush with subtle fragrance. Brides order my Key Lime Pies, not my spirea!

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This lone Lily-flowering Ballerina tulip is simply magnificent. I moved others and they vanished. I celebrate this single specimen the entire week it blooms. Planted in 2003… one of 16 bulbs from a cheap-o bag from Sam’s. Go figure!

Now, I admit from January-March I hauled/applied one hundred bags of pine bark mulch to all the deep shrub borders. The pine needle mulch experiment was a total bust allowing every rogue weed to propagate here. In January, one helper and I spent three hours on hands and knees ridding one peony bed of invasive Angelina Stonecrop (Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’). It became very unhappy with all the rain 2018 delivered and soon turned a lovely, moldy, black patch!

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If one gardens in Arizona or CA, perhaps Angelina Stonecrop would thrive. Not so in central VA.

Live and learn.


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The heirloom peonies are now chest high and loaded with buds. During May I will deliver many bouquets to market to my ever loving customers!

The Fire Power nandinas, installed in the front bed behind the Morris buxus, were also a total bust.

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Just lovely, eh? $250 worth of plant material lost. Fire Power Nandina, a total waste of time in Zone 7a.

They came from the nursery infested with an “insect they had never seen.” Nor had I. The first season I was forced to apply an systemic insecticide. Then the second year, the leaves were riddled with what the nursery identified as “fungal issues” and advised me to treat them again this season. OUT I SAY! I have no tolerance for needy plant material!  The owner of the nursery sent out a plantsman who removed all the nandinas (at no charge) and will give me a 25% discount when I decide what to plant in that space. Right now, I enjoy the minimal front bed. The bay window still appears to be a hanging chad, but for now new plant material will wait. Perhaps a 7′ wide planter under the bay filled with fern will be splendid. Wild ferns are popping up in the pebbles, so perhaps they can be convinced to live in a more civilized planter. What do you think?

Now that I hopefully wowed you, I will go to the nuts and bolts.

Fresh gravel. Future projects…

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Tabula Rasa or Latin for “blank slate.” Nothing like a fresh coat of gravel to perk up spring! Carport project still great and serving Auto and moi well.

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Long shot of drive. Leylands on the left are becoming a royal pain…too large and too expensive to maintain. Some Leylands are dying out on this row, with will require many dollars to remove and replace with additional privacy fence…LATER!! Notice the “Green Giant” arborvitae on the right, planted in 12/16. I have high hopes for this plant. Fast growing, heavenly scent, and great for privacy.

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Now doesn’t the front path look nice and tidy! The wee Morris buxus (dwarf boxwood) are like pets that I pat every time I stroll by. And by the way, I do not fertilize my turf. The perfect conditions during spring create a lushness beyond words.

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Today’s view of house front. Notice 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?

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I should name this photo “naked gardening!” Need more river pebbles and that planter, gushing with ferns…yes?

Any hew, I am up and making things happen around here. I still relax with YouTube daily. And I failed to mention…I gave up sugar and refined carbs…going Keto this month and one week in, I feel good and body fat appears to be melting away. No longer guilty about eating bacon, butter, and meat. My market neighbor this season is a sustainable farmer who raises heritage beef, pigs, and chickens. Check out his web site…www.harmonyhillfarm.net  to learn more about sustainable farming.

Living well and upright. 😉

Now back to my Spring 2019 Honey Do List:

Replace RO system, pump septic tank, level boulder at back door, replace 8 casement windows! Time for the sale sign?

Love to hear from you. Drop me a line in the comments section. Happy Spring!

 

Copyright © 2019 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

Perhaps missed

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Home, Garden, Life was born back in 2011. Precious hours spent writing, editing, photographing posts with the hope of sharing/inspiring those who follow. 2019 arrived, and I ponder whether my efforts are now relevant.

The world is rapidly changing and not for the better in many instances. Most people have short attention spans, are overworked, are underpaid, are constantly stressed, all while being over medicated, addicted to caffeine and most devices.  When I think back, and not that long ago, immediate access to people, places, and things were not necessary…so why the urgency now?

The subject of Home continues to be all the rage with online programs and FB pages like Fixer Upper and Houzz, yet my personal projects fail to evoke comments from readers. If this blog fails to inspire, what’s the point?

Garden topics continue to amuse and frustrate those who attempt this hobby. I admit, these days I enjoy seeing Monty Don on his YouTube channel. He takes me to all the grand gardens of the world; places I will never see first hand. Monty raises gardening to a high art jammed with history. I surmise England does not have the ravenous insects/fungal issues of my garden experience here in central Virginia. These dormant days, my visits to the garden include only bushels of pine bark mulch, river rock, and pea gravel — my endless attempts to slow down water on a site wrongly graded back in 1972.

Life is a gift, yet with current events, I limit my exposure. I enjoyed travels/experiments of youth, and am grateful for those years. Photography remains a love, yet my camera now sits idle with a dust cover. As I rapidly approach a significant birthday, I question my validity as a blogger, homeowner, gardener, and productive human being. 

Everyone deserves a roof over their head, a healthy meal or two, access to quality medical care, and inspiration to follow a passion. When I learn about the homelessness of Silicon Valley employees and the grotesque wealth of tech giants, I feel saddened.

When I learn about the vast and growing plastic pollution in our planet’s oceans, I feel sick.

https://www.theoceancleanup.com

Paramount is the fact that the USA is currently saddled with an American president who clearly demonstrates signs of mental illness. Just click the link below to watch/listen.

And I am powerless to change any of this.

Although, not completely ambivalent, I lobby for US legislation that supports reduction of wild bird “death by glass” by changing building codes that require non-reflective glass walls. Also, I regularly correspond with local government officials regarding affordable housing. My small town of Charlottesville, VA (recently in world news for the wrong reasons) is exploding with housing projects, few which are affordable and most prices are in excess of 400K. Finally, I remain passionate about recycling and converse often with local officials regarding the efficiency of our center. Where does all that stuff go? How much of it is actually recycled? 

Decisions of the majority are skewed. Greed is prevalent. Perhaps evolution will take care if it. Perhaps we will implode. Perhaps a grand shift will snap the majority to attention. For now I will focus on what I can improve/accept/ignore and attempt to stay on an even keel.

Nature remains my sanctuary.

Perhaps missed, perhaps not.

PS: Reader comments are invited…”likes” are not. I sincerely appreciate comments already posted. Keep them coming. I need proof that I am not blogging into the abyss. I want to see if there is a pulse out there. 😉

 

Copyright © 2019 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

for the love of rock

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Garden containers are available in all sizes, shapes, and colors. Over the years, I selected a few for my half-acre gardens in Central Virginia. This is one of a pair, color changed with deck stain. Many plants were tried, yet last year I decided to forgo needy plant material and go with pebbles of various sizes, shapes, and colors.

I confess…I love rock and have shoved handsome specimens into suitcases while traveling in Canada, Wyoming (that one first went into my saddlebag), New Mexico, and Massachusetts. I also enjoy garden containers, and now marry the two for a handsome result.

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I am bewitched by rock, pebbles, and stones. They are everlasting, visually appealing, and oh so sensuous.

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Moss finds its way around stones.

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And moss finds its way between ground stones and one metal mat outside the garden shed. If I stood outside long enough, moss would grow between my toes,  I digress.

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An especially old container from Mexico now appears to be holding eggs.

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The sister container from Mexico, decades old, survives with only one small repair. Mostly filled with pine bark mulch, topped with pebbles, I adore the ease and quiet beauty during all seasons. Notice how the granite salvage nearly vanishes into the mulched ground. While there is plenty of plant material in the surrounding herbaceous borders, containers become sculpture.

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Perhaps a bit busy, this terrace garden just outside my kitchen door provides tasty herbs for pestos, remains stable, while the quiet containers add interest. The vintage wire basket from a Charleston, SC garden, was just the right size to add a bit of whimsy to the larger shapely container.

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This contemporary planter was a gift from Crescent Gardens. Surprisingly lightweight, it found a home on my lower patio, where I enjoy its shape and uncluttered appearance.

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Although merely a clay saucer, this container provides one Carolina Wren with endless bathing opportunities throughout these steamy August days, and this ritual brings continual visual delight to moi.

I  hope that your summer delivers moments of visual delight.
Too often, these moments are small and fleeting, yet are forever memorable.

Copyright © 2018 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

 

the anatomy of a popover

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Sunday is my favorite day of the week. A day when I can lounge around the cottage. Breakfast can be special and this rainy Sunday called for popovers.

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The batter is so easy to prepare. Just have all ingredients at room temperature.

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Today’s result was especially beautiful, and I decided to capture these images for your pleasure.

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With so few ingredients, the amazing chemistry delivers a tall, tender, tasty popover.

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And just think, these were made with only five ingredients. I substituted whole milk with unsweetened vanilla Almond Milk by Blue Diamond.

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Last year I had fresh blueberry conserve on hand and embellished this popover with both the conserve and freshly whipped cream.

The Recipe

1 cup whole milk OR unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 cup unbleached, unbromated all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 large organic eggs

Preheat oven to 450F, with rack in the middle position. Lightly spray the popover pan (yes one needs a popover pan) with Baker’s Joy™ cooking spray.
Place all room temperature ingredients in a medium stainless mixing bowl and quickly whisk until fully incorporated. Do not over mix.
Divide the batter between the four compartments and transfer immediately to the oven. 
Without opening the oven (one may peek through the oven’s glass window) bake for 15-20 minutes until popovers have risen and are golden brown. 
Remove from oven and serve immediately with melted butter and local honey or freshly made conserve and whipped cream. 

OK, here is where I unashamedly advertise my newly minted cookbook. For the past three years, I have culled, written, and edited 120 of my favorite recipes. Final edits came in late March, following a long winter.
This collection is now available for purchase for $20. Mail order is available for an additional $5 within the USA.
The recipes emphasize the importance of sustainable food choices. Most recipes are easy, many are vegetarian, and all are delicious. Products sought after at the local farmer’s market are revealed here too. It is also a memoir, where humorous aspects of my early life are revealed. If you would like a personalized copy, please leave a comment in this post.

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Thanks so much for your continued interest in home, garden, life.

Copyright © 2018 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved