lemon treeThere are seasons for all things…whether living with one, two or four seasons…there is reason to enjoy and remember the reason for the seasons… 

For all to admire and acquire…Here, my French sister, Jeanine, shows her cherished lemon tree that resides around the pool, growing in a micro-climate created by a closed area, good sun, temp and humidity. NOW is typically the season for deliciously fragrant citrus blooms in warm climates such as Florida or California. Living in slightly North Texas, she fools the tree into blooming by keeping it warm on too coldish winter nights. Just cold enough to spur bloom…it rewards her with mid-winter blossoms and a bounty of lemons in late spring. I have two lemon trees that have survived over 10 years living here in Virginia most of the year outside…I do put them in the garage when temps fall below freezing and often bring them out on sunny winter days. This keeps pests from attacking the blooms! This year my lemons bloomed twice, in late winter and then late summer, forming lemons rather quickly, and now I have a new crop of huge ripening lemons just in time for the Christmas season! Of course, the best way to grow lemons in cold climates is a greenhouse or sun room…but having neither, I adapt to the changing seasons my way.

I have lived in all areas of the country… in Southern California, I enjoyed the relaxed one season and near perfect weather and little if no real humidity year round, clothes and gardens were easy, as was driving my little convertible from client to design center to home again in old downtown Pasadena. Living in Texas, I found that we had mainly two seasons…very hot and not so hot!! Gardening was great almost year round… until August, when most folks gave up and retreated to the pool or air conditioning. I found the “dry heat” quite bearable, although the pool did feel sublime when the afternoon temp roared to over 100 degrees…one adapts! And now, back to Virginia, I live with four seasons and love them all. I find the transition from one to the next a joy to anticipate and plan activities…for both indoors and out.

Late fall changes into winter in a few days…citrus fruit becomes a part of the seasonal decoration providing a spicy fragrance in the home. Making the pomanders [as shown here] is a very relaxing way to spend an evening. So easy, using whole cloves pushed into the citrus skin, cover the fruit or make just a few bands of cloves…your choice. Put a few in a bowl or wrap the finished fruit with ribbon and hang throughout your home. photo(94)Especially nice when you can enjoy the first fire of the season while working on projects.

Something to make…

*Natural fire starters…gather dry pine cones, melt some old wax candle pieces, stir in a few drops of essential oil…lemon, orange or lavender, place paper cups in muffin tin and pour a 1/2 inch wax in bottom of cup, set pine cones into slightly hot wax, allow to set overnight…wrap in burlap tied with ribbon, place in nice basket for a welcome gift.

A Home with a heart…some houses have such warmth and sense of character that they almost feel alive. The kind of houses where everyone uses the back door opening straight into the heart of the home kitchen! The whole room is brightened by pleasing patterns and colors, delightful melange of fragrance, comfortable and well-used furniture pieces… Warm & Cozy…Touches of texture, soft lighting, a well-worn quilt over the back of a wing chair by the crackling fireplace…along with warming soups, satisfying stews, homemade breads, hot herb tea…all perfect fireside fare to melt the frost. Surround yourself with things you love and all will come together…so alive in the moment that one could almost expect a smiling grandmother to enter the room carrying a freshly baked apple pie!


As daylight hours dwindle…unwind from a day well spent beside the fire with a plate of artisanal cheeses served with seasonal fruit and nuts. This offers a tasty pairing for cocktail time OR an after dinner Provencal-style dessert…

Savory beef and wild mushroom stew is especially satisfying on a cold December evening…Be sure to choose only beef that is pasture raised.

Pull on that big oversized sweater, wrap your winter scarf around your neck to chase away the chill…Let the stew simmer on the stove or in the oven for 2-3 hours while you enjoy a long winter walk before dark…


 Til then, hugs from Holly and Patricia

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