FRAGRANCE…Arriving home after being away for several days, you open the door. What scent do you detect…pleasant and at once welcoming? Or, is it stale, musty, old food in the trash bin…and maybe “pet- like” ? Is there deep in your heart a special smell that reassures you are home once again? For me, it is typically the fragrance of lavender…oh, big surprise. Lavender is a scent that impregnates furniture, fabrics and clothes with such strength that the fragrance could sometimes takes years to fade. Aside from my personal fragrance, shown below left, I use lavender linen spray on my bed sheets and covers every morning and also on the sofa pillows, cotton throws draped on chairs and silk lampshades. I always burn lavender incense sticks after cooking certain foods…bacon, garlic, onions, etc., even popcorn…to immediately neutralize the offending odors. And, every evening while enjoying a glass of wine, I burn a soy-based lavender candle…sometimes I change to rose, jasmine or spice depending on the season. My essential oil infuser also runs daily, permeating the air with a fresh clean lavender scent. Dried and fresh lavender bundles hang in the kitchen and bathrooms along with hand-made lavender soaps. Trimmings from my lavender bushes sit in the summer fireplace, along with a basket of fresh lavender stems on the hearth. Lovely, Luscious Lavender never fails to evoke summer days in the sun…
…it is a fragrance tradition that spans millennia.
Hospitality and Friendship...Seldom pretentious, it is always about simplicity and artistry with a touch of elegance. It is a way of doing things that seem just about perfect. It is a special gift in the heart and mind of the French people and especially my French sister, Jeanine. Many of you already know her…personally or from reading my posts. I lived near her for many years, and now… I often recall the joy of her wonderful cooking always with vegetables and herbs fresh from the garden, and her thoughtfully presented plates of food…and time spent enjoying a glass of Rose’ while sitting by the pool. Now, when I am able to visit her in Texas, my Blue & White Toile bedroom filled with the fragrance of lavender, is welcoming and relaxing. She personifies the art of graceful living…for everyone who comes to visit is the beneficiary of fine food and delightful wine. Pearls at her neck she strolls through her garden, infused with the fragrance of lemon trees, roses, lavender and rosemary…snipping herbs and blossoms for little bouquets she places throughout her home.
She is CHIC without ever trying! She has that passion for all that makes up the glories of life…tradition, hospitality and an elegance that seems effortless and everywhere! An invitation to her home is to be treasured…a true mark of friendship. Her individual style is a love and respect for the past and a nod to the modern…a home that reveals her heart.
CUISINE…summertime and food should be simple, refreshing and as fresh as a step into the potager! Eating outside is one of summer’s great pleasures…meals just seem to taste better. From an alfresco dinner on the patio to a picnic at the beach…food should be served informally to suit the setting. Seasonal cooking is at its most colorful in summer. Think tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, greens, beans, squash and so on. Oh, how I do succumb to the fragrance of ripe fruit…plums, berries, peaches, melons, grapes and…watermelon!! The summer market is alive with fruits in every color of the rainbow and their sweet aromas…
Cooking should be reflective of the summer season…simple and quick, fresh garden cooking. Many of summer’s foods are at their most delectable in their natural state. Platters of sliced, vine-ripened tomatoes layered with basil and cucumbers with a nice vinaigrette, a tray of mixed melons, bowls of grapes…fresh farm cheeses and some imported. Summer desserts are fruits, fruits and more fruits…either alone or with a cheese platter.
The ultimate summer cooking is on a grill…chicken in a marinade of lemon juice and herbs grilled to juicy perfection along with roasted corn on the cob, perfectly ripe grilled peaches for dessert spooned on top of homemade ice cream…I could go on, but now I’m getting hungry and need to go get my chicken ready to grill for dinner!! Oh, but first…an aperitif would be nice.
GARDENS…Dragonflies and Tomatoes…
At this time of year, collecting and recycling rain water should be uppermost on every gardener’s mind… This helps both your garden and the environment by reducing water demand through public water systems or well-water in rural areas.
1. Be sure your house is fitted with gutters and downspouts to direct rainfall; rain splattering against a foundation is not a good situation. While consulting with clients who decline to install gutters for aesthetic reasons, I suggest using a gravel or large river stone strip, at least 2 feet wide around the house foundation as an alternative. 2.Fit a rain barrel on every downspout. 3. Underground storage tanks to collect runoff are an investment that does pay off in the long run.
Dragonflies…The darting movements of that jewel-colored sure sign of summer are amazing to watch. Their spectacular speeds have been key to this beautiful insects’ survival over the past 325 million years. Provide a fresh water source and they will reward with dynamic feats of flight all the while dining on “bad bugs”…
Tie stems loosely onto supports with cotton twine
Pinch out side shoots regularly
Take off large lower leaves to let in more light
Water and feed from underneath, not overhead…except when doing a foliar spray with seaweed
DO NOT OVERFEED, or you will have great foliage but few tomatoes…use organic materials to fertilize, NOT Miracle-Gro!
Keep an eye out for hornworms, aphids, blight, blossom end rot and botrytis
HOME…just imagine such a lovely spot to enjoy a meal, a good book, a cup of tea or an aperitif…
I could spend all summer outside, even in the heat!
So Holly and I raise a glass and wish you well and remind you once again…