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. ūüėČ

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!!”


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.


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!


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,


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!


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


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


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


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!


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

Live and learn.


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.


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…


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.


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.


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.


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?


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. ūüėČ

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


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 ‚ÄĒ 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.


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. ūüėČ


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.


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


Moss finds its way around stones.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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


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


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


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


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‚ĄĘ 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.


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

Copyright © 2018 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved



the garden visitor


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A few weeks ago I looked out to see a newly fledged Eastern bluebird hopping around my terrace. It was alone. Normally when bluebird chicks fledge, they fly to the highest branches of the nearest tree and remain there with other members of their brood for a couple of weeks, while the adults continue to feed them.

This fledgling did not.

As a bluebird monitor, I had immediate concerns. I grabbed my camera and captured these rare shots through my storm door. I hope that you enjoy them.


So tiny in such a huge environment…this female chick contemplates her next move…notice the size of her feet!


This chick raised a ruckus to attract its parents, who wondered why this babe was not high in a tree with its nestmates.


While waiting for the adults to feed it, this chick wanted a nap. After all, these birds go from hatching to flight in merely 18 days. Quite a feat. I love the feet.


After a short flight to the terrace wall from the bench, this wee one nearly fell into the birdbath. What a face. Some mornings I wake with this same expression.


Gathering gumption, a few minutes after this shot, she managed another flight across the turf to the deep shrub border, where it landed on the ground not in a tree. Both adults were at her side during flight, another spectacular sight. I surmise that this miracle fledged too early and was not strong enough to gain altitude. Fingers crossed.


Before vanishing into the wild, this chick preened itself. I do hope she survived. She appeared to have an attitude which I hope serves her well during her lifetime.

Life is precious, and I am reminded of this every day as I witness the creatures and beauty that surround me daily. The difficult part is simply observing, as I can do nothing to change a situation like this. I must permit nature to take its course and be content with not knowing.

How glad I am to have this brief moment with my tiny garden visitor, and now this observation with my trusty camera allows sharing with you, my followers.

Have you witnessed a miracle this summer? Do tell.

Copyright © 2017 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

what blooms this week


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Despite challenging August temperatures and humidity here in central Virginia, these beauties are awash with blooms and deliver a lovely scent. Enjoy!


This is the second year for these hostas. They were shared by a garden friend who has spectacular specimens in her town landscape.


Hosta close up. Pudgy bumblebees straddle these blooms while gathering nectar at the base of each flower, providing food for them and daily entertainment for moi.


Hostas and clematis create a WOW! factor in an otherwise quiet August landscape.


Second year for this clematis. It appears to like this thirty-foot long split rail fence. Although it was recently attacked by hordes of Blister Beetles, I managed to send these chewers to the “swim to eternity pool” (AKA bucket of soapy water) where they will reproduce no more.


Twice-blooming Huldine clematis will soon cover the cattle panel arbor above one raised bed. Pretty, yes?


Gifted hostas live well here at Swallowtail Cottage and stems sway at 48″ tall. WOWZA!

Formosa lily from Tufton

And I cannot omit the Formosa lily here at Swallowtail Cottage…the seed came from Tufton, a property once owned by Thomas Jefferson. The fall pods below make a splendid winter show…the seeds are stacked like plates within these shimmering jackets.


Formosa lily self sows, is easily established and becomes a perennial. Care for seeds?


Lastly, I must show off my Sakata (a Japanese seed company) Lilliput melons. This year proved to be a banner year, despite fungal issues on the leaves.  These personal-sized melons take their time, yet I eat half of one per day now and smile with every juicy bite. I will spare you the image of the silly looking chicken wire circled melon patch. Hopefully I will harvest melons up to frost. Thanks to P. Allen Smith for the trip and the seeds. www.pallensmith.com

As a steamy Virginia summer wanes, this was a decent growing season, despite my weekly grumbling whenever I headed out to mow turf, or pulled relentless weeds, or captured those Blister Beetles and Red Velvet Ants (AKA cow killer, ouch!).


Charlottesville, yes Charlottesville, Virginia, USA is my town, population 150 thousand (town and county), and both she and her residents are resilient, despite recent controversy, hostility, loss of life, and world-wide news coverage. Fortunately, I find sanctuary here at Swallowtail Cottage, merely eight miles from town.

Which reminds me:
The enduring wonders of nature assure me that peace is found when I take notice. Many years ago I coined a phrase:

there is a fine line between order and chaos.

May you all be safe in the world, walk that fine line, and take notice of beauty while feeling her embrace.

Copyright © 2017 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved


porch envy


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Summers are hot and sticky here in the south, yet these images help me dream of a caress from a slight breeze, the whirring sound of hummingbirds, distant calls of barking tree frogs, while tall drinks with chunks of ice quench the thirst. Scroll through these designs…which ones are your faves?



Posted from a hot and humid morning in central VA.


Summer in Virginia


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When did you last take time to lie back

to watch clouds

and hawks soar?


One blogger’s repose


brewing aloft


Nearby vista of central Virginia farmland. Notice the speck of gliding hawk in the distance.

Copyright © 2017 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved