Still Looking Up….

       UNDERSTANDING                   GOODWILL   PEACEFULNESS            COMPASSION                           UNITY   FORGIVENESS                  FAIRNESS                       HUMANITY  FAITH          EMPATHY                                GOODNESS                 PATIENCE            FRIENDSHIP                  BROTHERHOOD PERSEVERANCE                 EQUALITY    COMMON SENSE                   HISTORY                DIALOGUE JUSTICE                         HARMONY              CITIZENSHIP               DILIGENCE COMMUNICATION                    GRACE  RESPECT                          LOVE     TRUST  COURAGE         KINDNESS          DECENCY    TOLERANCE  

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You’ve Got This

  For those of you who follow this blog, you may remember a post titled, Above and Beyond:  An Everyday Hero.  A couple of years ago, a major water pipe in our home broke, and a very kind and determined person rescued us. We thought he was just our plumber, but he turned out to be much more.  He was our hero…answering an emergency call late on a snowy, Saturday night, problem-solving a difficult situation, and working undeterred until, once again, we had water. During this dire situation, our plumber, Mike Walker dug five gallons of dirt out of a tiny access hole, and then, climbed into this small, dirty space. He ignored his own safety, well-being, and comfort to repair our out-of-reach pipe, but also to preserve the hardwood floors in our 200-year-old family home. He did all of this, unselfishly, to save us from a significant amount of stress, inconvenience, and heartbreak–a true hero. Since that night, I’ve been thinking a lot about this concept of  “everyday heroes.”  And, here’s the thing:  Heroism lies within all of us.  Each of us has the power to make our lives and the lives of others better.  Sometimes we may feel that life is always trying to “start something” by throwing a challenge or a truly dark situation at us.  However, it doesn’t matter if the problem is “too high to get over, too low to get under, and we’re stuck […]

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Got Merlot?

  Farmgirl in Saint Émilion (right bank of Bordeaux) November 2016   “You had me at hello.” A line made famous by Dorothy Boyd, the love interest in the film “Jerry Maguire.” However, if Dorothy had been a sommelier, she may have said, “You had me at Merlot.” And, with good reason. Merlot, French for little blackbird because of its very dark fruit, is naturally versatile, acclimating to different climate zones and soil compositions, which, over time, have made it the second most planted red grape on the planet, behind its brother from Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot can be big and rich, but also fruity and soft, without being overly high in acids or tannins. These characteristics make Merlot an elegant and easy choice to drink as well as pair with food. If that doesn’t spark your interest in Merlot, maybe this will.  You know all those famous red wines from Bordeaux? Wines that are considered some of the best in the world?  Well, they’re all blended with Merlot.  And, many are mostly Merlot—especially, on the right bank of the Gironde estuary in the Bordeaux appellation, where it’s the law that Merlot has to be the predominant grape.  Of course, the most famous Merlot wine is undoubtedly Pétrus (100% Merlot) from the Pomerol region of Bordeaux.  This highly collectable wine can fetch several thousand dollars, depending on its vintage. You may not be as familiar with Merlot’s positive attributes, especially post “Sideways”—a 2004 film […]

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Got Tenacity?

  This sunflower inspires me.  I’ve planted these cheerful blooms in my garden a number of times, and they haven’t come up—maybe, because the birds ate the seeds.  I really don’t know. But, two summers ago, this little sunflower sprung up in the backyard of its own volition.  It didn’t just grow….it thrived.  To my surprise and joy, it bloomed and bloomed and bloomed…all summer.  This eager little flower, in its simplicity and loveliness, grew into a flourishing plant.  And, it accomplished this feat despite a lack of proper planting, no fertilizer, and without consistent watering.  I admire this sunflower for what it symbolizes to me:  determination, perseverance, and tenacity.   “Tenacity”   by Tonya R. Hengerer   Tireless Effort to resist Negative thinking And overcome difficulties, while summoning Courage In spite of Tough times—never Yielding.     “Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries.” ~James A. Michener   “If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.” ~H.G. Wells

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Tuesday Tunes: Feeling Festive

I LOVE wandering around vintage/antiques stores.  You know the kind—where there’s everything from beautiful, old quilts to those tacky Smurf drinking glasses you just had to collect when you were a child. The fun thing is you never know what you may find….treasure or trinkets.  But, it’s all good stuff! Well, recently, while enjoying a lazy afternoon in one of these delightful shops, I discovered an item that grabbed my attention…a pillow with small, red bells on the corners and the phrase, “Get Your Jingle On.”  I laughed out loud! Anyway, the more I thought about this whimsical pillow, the more I decided that I really needed it.  I thought, “What a good reminder of this season of love and goodwill.” So, if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, tired, or stressed-out, put on some festive music, remember your blessings, and think about all the wonderful things you can do to reflect light into our world by offering a kind word, a bright smile, or a helpful hand. Go ahead, “GET YOUR JINGLE ON.”     As you can see, Clementine, Dash, and Bizou love the pillow, especially the bells. 🙂 Wishing you a week full of joy and lots of jingles! 

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More Treat Than Trick: Sauternes and Sage Jelly

Growing up in the country and on a farm, it was commonplace to preserve as much of the summer’s harvest as possible. My parents and grandparents worked all spring, summer, and fall planting gardens, picking vegetables, tending fruit trees, picking berries, and then canning, freezing, and storing much of it for future use.  I can still see kitchen counters covered with Mason jars of green beans, tomatoes, and black raspberry jam, and the beauty of the jewel-tone colors as the sun shone through the glass and its hard-earned contents. It’s because of this seasonal tradition that I observed and participated in as a child that I appreciate the work that goes into preserving as well as the delight in enjoying something homemade. That’s why I love using a familiar recipe or even finding a new one each year to preserve something special to share. So, when I was leafing through epicurious cooking magazine recently and discovered a recipe for wine jelly–specifically, Sauternes and sage jelly, I knew I had to try it.  I’ve made fruit jams and jellies, pickles, and even chutney in the past, but I’ve never tried making wine jelly–until now.  The cooking magazine raved about this jelly, describing it as “sophisticated and subtle.”  It also stated that it was a delicious substitute to the green mint jelly that traditionally accompanies lamb. Actually, this sublime jelly is wonderful with any roasted or grilled meat and is a fantastic […]

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Tuesday Tunes: The Grapevine

Meadows of Dan, Virginia  Blue Ridge Parkway   Recently, Farmguy and I participated in the grape harvest at a local winery just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Southwestern Virginia.  Located in the Rocky Knob American Viticultural Area (AVA), Chateau Morrisette Winery sits at an elevation of nearly 3500 feet.  Boasting spectacular views, it’s amid one of the most rugged and mountainous parts of the state.  Although the winery is at 3500 feet, most of its vineyards are down the mountain at 1600 feet. Chateau Morrisette Winery was founded by David Morrisette in 1978, making it among the oldest wineries in Virginia.  It has 13 acres of land and produces approximately 70,000 cases of wine each year. Chardonnay, Viognier, Chambourcin, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Petit Manseng, and Vidal blanc are among the varietals used in making Chateau Morrisette’s wines.  Besides growing many of its own grapes, the winery also buys grapes from other vineyards in Virginia.  Due to the state’s climate and growing season, Viognier and Cabernet Franc are some the winery’s most successful varieties. In the photos, Farmguy and I are harvesting Niagara grapes—a variety of the North American grape species Vitis labrusca.  Niagara grapes are one of the few grape varieties that can grow at such a high elevation. These green grapes are table grapes and are also used in making jams, juices, and wines.  They are mainly used in Chateau Morrisette’s sweet/dessert wines—Sweet Mountain Laurel and Red […]

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