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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This Above All…

Farmgirl posing before school on picture day Circa 1977     “I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.” ~Brené Brown   “Never betray your values. Never betray yourself.” ~Walter Rieley (My dad)   “This above all: to thine own self be true…” ~William Shakespeare   […]

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Rosebud’s Lesson

 Butterbean, Sweet Pea, and Truffle stoically watching their fallen friend.   This post was originally published November 1st, 2018 It’s hard to believe it’s been a year. However, the lesson is still there.   I squatted uncomfortably in the pasture. My left shin gently pressing on Rosebud’s back with the remainder of weight shifted to my right leg. My left hand disappeared into the coarse wool on her chest, above her heart. As I carefully caressed Rosebud’s face, the feathery sensation of her long eyelashes brushed against my hand as she opened and closed her eyes.  Her heartbeat was faint. Although Rosebud was still grazing and eating grain regularly, we recently noticed she had lost weight and seemed to be lying around more. She was nearly 12-years-old now–elderly for a sheep. However, even though a bit slower, she was always grazing with the flock and never missed an opportunity for a grain treat…until Wednesday morning. After feeding the sheep, I walked back to the house, feeling my chest tighten and heaviness gather in my shoulders. Once inside, I picked up the phone and dialed our local vet’s office. A young girl answered, “Bedford Animal Hospital.” I was struck by the contrast of the cheerful, sunny voice at the other end of the line to the worried, grayness of my inner landscape.  The receptionist informed me that the doctors’ schedules were full, and that no one would be available for a […]

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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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Pan-Roasted Pear Salad with Parmesan and Pecans

I enjoy salads all year long–mainly, because they’re healthy and don’t take too long to prepare. Salads with roasted vegetables and/or fruit are a favorite.  Roasting adds so much flavor and helps create a more satisfying meal. For this pear salad recipe, carmelizing the pears on top of the stove prevents them from becoming overcooked–as they do when oven-roasted.  The balsamic vinegar is used to make a fruity vinaigrette that accentuates the pears’ flavor.  In addition, a couple of extra tablespoons of the vinegar is stirred into the hot pan while cooking the pears, creating a glazy coating.  For the greens, a mix of crunchy, mild green leaf lettuce works well.  Add salty Parmesan to offset the pears’ natural sweetness and pecans for buttery richness.  And, you have a lovely autumn salad with lots of appeal! Finding a suitable wine pairing for salad can sometimes be challenging, especially when balsamic vinegar is involved.  However, this salad pairs well with sparkling wine or Champagne. Enjoy!   Pan-Roasted Pear Salad with Parmesan and Pecans: Serves 6 *Use organic ingredients when possible Ingredients: 1 1/2 pounds pears, quartered lengthwise and cored Salt and pepper 2 tablespoons olive oil 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar 1 small shallot, minced 1/2 teaspoon sugar 1/2 small head green leaf lettuce (4 ounces), torn into 1-inch pieces or loose mixed greens 1 cup shaved Parmesan cheese 3 tablespoons chopped pecans, toasted Method: –Toss pears with 1/4 teaspoon […]

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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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In the Garden

  As she sat looking out the window, her gaze settled on the sunflowers blooming in the garden below her room.  She watched as a light wind caused them to sway back and forth in the afternoon sunshine. Becoming entranced with the movement of the flowers, her mind drifted, but only for a moment.  When she looked up, she saw a figure in the distance walking up the path towards the house.  It was Graham. They had only known one another for a short while, but her heart jumped at the sight of him.  He was well-mannered, possessing a gentle nature that had impressed her from the beginning of their acquaintance. And, he had the most delightful smile. She always looked forward to their walks together.  They often took the same walk:  up the hill, past the folly, and through the meadows of blooming wild flowers.  As they walked along, chatting, he smiled affectionately at her, and she couldn’t remember feeling happier.  Being in his company felt so natural. Walking past the tulip populars, they finally arrived at the boxwood-enclosed rose garden.  Boxwoods, only about two feet high, formed a perimeter around a spacious area filled with pink and red roses as well as French lavender. Upon entering the garden, she felt a faint, heady sensation.  A feeling she wasn’t sure she should attribute to the fragrance of the flowers, or to the fact that she was falling in love. […]

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