Fall for seasonal ideas provided by nature…

Savor the warmth of the season…add creative touches using treasures collected from nature walks. The color richness of topaz, gold, burnt orange and coffee…even common objects become things of beauty when gathered together in a still-life vignette.

CORNUCOPIA…carve/hollow out a pumpkin to use as a holder for leaves, branches, berries, tiny apples and such…GLASS ACT…fill a glass compote or hurricane with mini gourds and leaves for a simple buffet accent…CIRCULAR AWE…many years ago I made door wreaths from branches twisted round and covered in small pine cones and  nuts of the season…walnuts, acorns, almond and so on…BOXED SEASONAL SURPRISE…fill a window box or antique crate with colorful fall items, place by the front door as a warm welcome.

..A gathering of fall finds...

IMG_0506WINE SPECTATOR STUDY…Alcohol May Protect Against Dementia and Alzheimer’s!

     I knew it! All along I knew it…WHAT, that there was such a good reason to have a glass of wine every evening as I relax while watching the news or reading.The study shows that daily consumption of alcohol reduces the risk by nearly 30% compared to non-drinkers. AND, the risk is ANOTHER 30% lower for people who drink one to two “servings” per day! So, there you go!!

What to have for dinner????

Today I’m making Pasta with chicken, rosemary and Parmesan…just cook your pasta of choice, I use penne, and save a cup of the cooking water.  You’ll need cooked chicken breasts, 2-3 cups shredded. In a saucepan add the pasta water, rosemary, 1/2 cup Parmesan, some salt and pepper and a knob of butter. Stir over LOW heat until sauce has thickened slightly. serve over pasta and sprinkle with more Parm! This is a great dish to have with the wine pictured left!

photo(67)Something so simple…an apple. One of the many of God’s great creations…imagine, ‘just one a day’ with benefits so plentiful!

I enjoy apples almost everyday throughout the fall season. Crisp, juicy delicious apples…usually raw with peel, and please, always choose organic apples because they are not sprayed with potentially harmful chemicals and pesticides!  There are many ways to enjoy apples from juice to baking.

During our French Cooking lessons, we taught our students how to make an incredibly simple, but elegant and exquisite dessert…a classic Tarte Tartin, the famous FRENCH apple tart. I made a tiny one last night with walnuts and ate the whole thing for dinner!!

3 section compost pile
3 section compost pile

The sound of one leaf falling…

A REMINDER…this is a great time to start a compost pile or just gather up your leaves to breakdown for later use!! ‘Course, since I live in the woods my ‘simple’ pile of leaves is humungous and never-ending…I have several of the 3 section piles working all year round and keep adding more leaves as they breakdown. I usually spray the leaves with liquid molasses to help speed up the process. Do not bag leaves and put out for curbside pick-up! DRIVES me nuts!

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RAINBARRELS…while the weather is still nice and cool, set up more rainbarrels…Catch all the marvelous water that falls so well during the fall to winter seasons. Use it to water containers!

Every autumn I say the same thing…BEST TIME OF THE YEAR TO PLANT!! Get busy, there’s still time! Plant perennials, trees, bulbs, NOW!

Late afternoon sun is now behind the trees, dusk and the deer are strolling out of the woods towards their molasses corn for dinner, wind rustles in the tall canopy, leaves drift and twirl to the ground…

NOW, as I wrap a warm paisley shawl around my shoulders and walk through the garden at dusk…with my glass of wine…I still find several more projects that move to the top of my Do NOW list!

WARM HUGS TO ALL…

Bewildered, Bothered…Betwitched???

I wanted to share this very creative letter I received in 2004 from one of my Texas friends…just after I moved back home to Virginia. every fall I read the letter and smile, chuckle and enjoy thinking about the whole experience with Annie.

 

witchHope this gives you a smile…

Fall inspiration…colors, earthy smells, changing light…

porch & chair_A change in season…it has happened, finally! AND, this change offers the perfect opportunity to  rejuvenate your home, your garden and yourself!

In your home, celebrate with stylish accents, with fall themes and colors…on the porch, with warm colors in rusty reds and sable, and autumn textures of leaves, nuts and berries…a paisley shawl to wrap around your shoulders as the late afternoon shadows cool the air, chrysanthemums and pansies and snapdragons add rich color and scents to the porch and garden…

In your garden…introduce new elements with textures and colors for fall through winter interest. I add evergreen Autumn Ferns to areas that need the cover, texture, and rich mossy green color…

For yourself…the Splendor of the Season awaits…scarves still trend, leather, and yes, patchwork… really…patchwork of all kinds…eye-catching details and great accessories help build a new look to work with existing closet finds. Oh, wait…your health, not fashion! Try a new body cleanse, change shampoos to a better quality…I prefer organic brands without sulfates, parabens, petroleum, propylene glycol or any artificial colors!

FOR INSIDE…Start making healthy vegetable soup for dinner. With less “sweating activity”… soup is a much lighter choice while still providing great nourishment and fiber! That sweet potato bread I made last week…lots of great fiber and nutrition with very little sugar. Butternut squash, and pumpkin, along with all kinds of root vegetables…sweet potatoes, turnips, carrots of all colors, Yukon Gold potatoes, parsnips, whole cloves of garlic…all make a healthy and tasty  roasted root vegetable dish for holidays. Just pick your vegetables, wash them, place in shallow baking dish, sprinkle with olive oil, plenty of coarse salt, cracked pepper and a handful of chopped fresh herbs:thyme, rosemary, maybe some sage?? Roast in a 350 oven till browned and caramelized…

      4c213728-1902-4593-a01d-438c89d7c07a      GARDEN NOTES…4fab4fe3-d4b8-40c6-8f3e-fad1e38894ba

      *Saffron crocus and the saffron harvested from the blooms…you should be picking the tiny treasure now or soon, depending on weather…oh, wait…you did plant the bulbs last August, right??

       * Plant spring blooming bubs when days and nights are really consistently cool…if you do not have time now…don’t worry, buy now and plant when you can. I’ve actually planted daffodil bulbs in early January in past seasons…

70ae4e7e-e037-4a1a-88e1-28d818869d75*Harvest the scarlet blooms from pineapple sage, dry on paper towels and save for baking and flavoring fruits…photo(30)

*Pick late fruits and begin making pear preserves, apple and lavender jelly

71061bce-bccf-4416-abc3-c50e687ef8a3*Plant pansies and violas now. Combine compost and rock phosphate and mix into the soil as you plant, how could you not love that little face??

 

 

 

 

*Leaf raking for composting or making leaf mould…DO NOT BAG AND PUT IN TRASH! I find the time spent raking leaves is good…I can think, while getting some exercise…I can dream about changes I would like to make…I can evaluate the reasons for having trees…oh, joking!

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it…”

 

f666888a-b6e6-498a-99d3-c211ac78e860Hollie thinks her new rusty red mums look great on the porch and go well with her coat! 

#holliebcollie

 

 

                                            I’m ready for a glass of wine and some of the vegetable soup that’s been simmering on the stove this afternoon…

Au revoir jusqu’ a la prochaine fois…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall baking…scents, spices, a little sweet and no sensibility…

1aba3f6d-52a9-43c6-a00c-6f738d02489cShort post today…this goes along with my baking with fall flavors and fragrance from Sunday post!

I made Sweet Potato Bread, just for fun…if I were sensible I would give it away…but, after I tasted a piece, to make sure it was okay, NOPE! Going to slice and freeze some and then just enjoy a piece or two while fresh and warm from the oven…

Recipe: Pre-heat oven to 350…butter a 9x5x3 loaf pan

Put dry ingredients in sieve and shake into large bowl: 2cups unbleached, all-purpose flour…2tsp. baking powder…1/2 tsp. baking soda…

1/2 tsp. salt… 1tsp. cinnamon…1/4 tsp.ginger…fresh nutmeg grated

Mix together: 1 cup cooked organic sweet potatoes, cooled and mashed [peel before cooking]

                          1/2 cup GOOD maple syrup…2 large organic fresh eggs, at room temp…1/2 stick real butter, melted and cooled…1/4 to 1/2 cup milk or cream…2tsp. pure vanilla…3/4 cup brown sugar

Make a well in center of flour, add sweet potato mixture to the dry ingredients…mix  with wooden spoon and stir just to combine ingredients…GENTLY STIR in 1 cup chopped pecans OR walnuts. Scrape the batter into the loaf pan and spread top to smooth.

Bake for 50-55 minutes, depending on your oven!!     NOTE: I did not have maple syrup, so used molasses and walnuts I had in freezer.

NOW…go bake and enjoy the relaxation…’course I really like to cook the Graham Kerr way…while on television he consistently enjoyed a sip of white wine, sloshed things around and still managed to produce great French food in the Julia Style!!

Going out for a walk with Holly before dinner…and a glass of wine!

Fall delights and surprises…

photo(71)It’s always a nice surprise when Mother Nature decides to give us our first glimpse of fall…every year it happens and every year it still surprises and pleases! Leaves change their colors from green to shades of gold, rusty red, burnt orange, burgundy and yellow…all with shorter days [less sunlight stirs the change] and cooler weather.

It’s time to get cozy, find new order in the house, gather ’round the table…Even the coolest of fall days feels cozy with a fire blazing in the hearth. For the past month I’ve been making fire starter bundles from lavender and rosemary trimmings…something so easy yet elegant placed in a basket by the fireplace. To make, just gather a handful of material, wrap some raffia around the bundle and tie a knot. I usually make them about 10-12 inches long depending on the size of my trimmings. photo(2)

On those first few early mornings when the sun is slow to      show, I begin the process of cleaning out and organizing the closets… I always put lavender buds in boxes or bags filled with summer sandals and leather clogs, store straw handbags in pillowcases with herb sachets, cull any clothes I didn’t wear for the last six months and ready them for taking to DAV.

This is an easy way to keep clutter under control and make the best use of limited closet space. Working on the small closet in the bedroom… I removed the typical hanging rod, lined the walls in lavender scented paper, placed two spotlights on a piece of trim at the top of the closet, added double hanging bars to allow for shirts and pants on one side of the closet, and on the other side…added an old pine tallboy, with drawers to hold clothes and accessories. So stylish looking now…and much more functional.

It’s also time to pull out the creamy white flannel sheets, rinse them in lavender water and hang them on the clothesline to dry. AND, as days go by…get the house ready for the winter holidays. With no more daylight evening hours for a glass of Chardonny on the patio, I just can’t resist bringing in an armload of logs for the first fire of the season and then later in the day… position my leather wing chair by the hearth…and pour that glass of red wine before dinner.

It’s a crisp, mid-October morningwith sunshine finally over the tops of the trees through the golden leaves, I wake Holly from her post breakfast nap and head outside for a walk in the woods! The woods are radiant…yellow leaves swirl in the breeze and float to the ground making piles on the trail…Holly lopes ahead hoping to meet that squirrel scampering across the path and up the huge oak tree. So much beauty…

FALL for these simple ideas…for the harvest tablescape, I combine freshly cut branches of autumn leaves and sumac berries, gathered from my woods walk, with curly willow sticks from the garden in an ochre and brown colored antique pate’ jar…a basket filled with apples and pears, small gourds and pumpkins, popcorn in a wooden bowl, a short stack of old books, caramel candies in a glass compote, walnuts and pecans, chubby candles…objects placed with varying heights for interest. The cozy feel on the table and in the room is achieved through a sophisticated mix of pattern, texture, and rich colors so that even common objects become things of beauty when brought together in a still-life composition.

OCTOBER is the month for baking with apples, pears, pumpkins, figs, nuts and warm fall spices… and making turkey & black bean chili…the change of seasons is tangibly in the air and it’s time to pull out my fall book of recipes. Baking muffins, sweet potato biscuits, and pumpkin bread becomes therapeutic for me, filling the kitchen with the scent of autumn fruits, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg…

Tarte Tatin, whole pears oven-roasted until soft and golden, drizzled with local wildflower honey …how do I choose where to start?                                                                                  photo(10)

 

I need to find my recipes, add more mulch to the garden, get the weeds overseeded with annual rye, clear the old tomato vines, and plant some pansies!

Come back next week to see what I’m baking…’til then, enjoy the glory of autumn days!