Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thank you, Granny Sue!

I would like to send a sincere 'thank you" to Granny Sue, of Granny Sue's News and Reviews, http://grannysu.blogspot.com/ , who bestowed the Liebster Award upon my blog. This award is given to bloggers with less than 200 followers, so mine certainly fits the bill! "Liebster" translates to "dearest" in the English language, so I am honored to accept this award. Many thanks again, Granny Sue!

I hope you visit story-teller Granny Sue's blog above, and when you do, please visit her other blogs, as well.

The guidelines for the Liebster Award are:
A: Thank the giver and link back to their blog
B:Award other blogs the Liebster Award and leave a comment on their blog that you've chosen them.
C: Copy and paste the award on your blog
D: May each of them share the award as well!

One blog I'll select belongs to my friend Pammy of Thyme Square Gardens. Her blog is chock-full of so much great heirloom and organic gardening information, fantastic recipes and wonderful advice. (Plus, she is always plugging my blog and FaceBook page, and I can never think of a way to thank her enough!!!) Please visit her blog here...

My second selection is Cheyenne's sweet blog, Little Prairie Baby. Now anyone that knows me (or anyone who can read the last post date on my blog!) knows that I am not faithful about sitting in front of the computer on a regular basis, especially during growing season. There is just too darn much work to do outdoors, and once I come in to eat and shower, I'm ready to hit the hay. It is good that winter comes and makes me stay inside a bit more often! Oh, I drop in on folks' blogs unannounced, but never take the time to leave a comment very often. And one blog I love to visit is Cheyenne's. I love her stories, her photographs and her prairie life. Please visit her here...

Friday, October 28, 2011

Yesterday morning, we headed out into the woods. It was cold, damp and rainy... yet the fallen leaves combined with the still-unfallen foilage filled the woods with a muted, pumpkin-hued glow. We saw no sign of the many chipmunks and birds, deer and squirrels that we had seen a few days earlier... all was still and quiet.

The raindrops clung to the branches like so many strands of pearls, as if they were frozen in time. Yet the colder air hand had only begun to creep in, so each drop remained liquid...

Come this morning, everything was tucked under a comforter of downy snow. And though we knew it was too early in the season to last, we headed back outside to enjoy it before it all melted away...

Saturday, October 1, 2011


Me-oh-my, October 1st?! Where has this year flown to? Perhaps the arrow-trails of geese have gathered up the passing months and are yanking them away back to whence they came earlier this spring. Does time seem to take on a more urgent tone to you too this time of year, or does it only seem to me that each grain of sand is emptying at a more rapid pace?

Autumn is such a conundrum... there are so many things that need to be accomplished quickly in this short season, and the need is real, for we know what lurks just around the next turn! Yet for all the compelling compulsiveness to get it all done, there is also that desire to just appreciate autumn's sheer, albeit brief, beauty... to savor slowly each painted leaf, every frost etching, each red-cheeked apple, the last of the garden's offerings, before all is tucked under a blanket of snow.

To me, there is too much of this one season to relish in too-short a time; it's akin to stuffing a treasurebox to overflowing and trying to fasten the lid down without springing the hinges and spilling the carefully-gathered contents out onto the floor. I need to clean the barn out and snuggle it in with fresh shavings and straw before the snow flies, but I want to drive the backroads and photograph graying old barns and abandoned houses amidst the riot of gold and russet foilage before all the leaves are shaken from the trees. I need to dig up the rest of the carrots and pick the collards and kale to dry, but instead I gather more apples and make apple pizza, applesauce and apple pancakes just because it makes the house smell so heavenly. I really should pull up and weed out the gardens, but it would be such a shame to let a lovely afternoon slip by without a walk through the woods, or maybe I'll take the kayak out just one last time...

And so it goes, not just with this one season, but with every season... to find a good balance between doing what must be done, yet also making time to enjoy what is waiting to be appreciated. The more years that pass by me, the more I try to make time for those simple things that bring such unexpected gifts... things we adults don't pay much attention to now that we're all grown up; how early-morning fog across the valley makes you feel you are standing at the edge of the ocean, how lovely a field of dried grasses and wildflowers look sheathed in frost, how much fun it is to iron leaves between wax-paper, and how difficult it is to try and count the geese in that flock flying overhead.

So I will take that walk, and I will get the garden weeded and put to bed as well! And no-one but me, myself, and I will know in which order it happened!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Autumn blessings to all....

A Dream of Autumn: James Whitcomb Riley

Mellow hazes, lowly trailing
Over wood and meadow, veiling
Sombre skies, with wild-fowl sailing
Sailor-like to foreign lands;
And the north wind overleaping
Summer’s brink, and flood-like sweeping
Wrecks of roses where the weeping-
Willows wring their helpless hands.
Flared, like Titan torches flinging
Flakes of flame and embers, springing
From the vale, the trees stand swinging
In the moaning atmosphere;
While in dead’ning lands the lowing
Of the cattle, sadder growing,
Fills the sense to overflowing
With the sorrow of the year.
Sorrowfully, yet the sweeter
Sings the brook in rippled metre
Under boughs that lithely teeter
Lorn birds, answering from the shores
Through the viny, shady-shiny
Interspace, shot with tiny
Flying motes that fleck the winy
Wave-engraven sycamores.
Fields of ragged stubble, wrangled
With rank weeds, and shocks of tangled
Corn, with crests like rent plumes dangled
Over Harvest’s battle-plain;
And the sudden whir and whistle
Of the quail that, like a missle,
Whizzes over thorn and thistle,
And, a missle, drops again.
Muffled voices, hid in thickets
Where the redbird stops to stick its
Ruddy beak betwixt the pickets
Of the truant’s rustic trap;
And the sound of laughter ringing
Where, within the wild vine swinging,
Climb Bacchante’s schoolmates, flinging
Purple clusters in her lap.
Rich as wine, the sunset flashes
Round the tilted world, and dashes
Up the sloping west, and splashes
Red foam over sky and sea-
Till my dream of Autumn, paling
In the slendor all-prevailing,
Like a sallow leaf goes sailing
Down the silence solemnly.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Florediem Flower Farm in Alstead, NH

I apologize for waiting two weeks to write this... so much of my time has been taken by the gardens, as I know all of you gardeners can relate!

The week after mom and I visited Dhabi's Daylilies in Gilsum, NH, we headed back to Alstead, NH to visit Florediem Flowers Gardens. http://www.florediem.com/Florediem/Home.html

Yet another treat was in store for us... their beautiful homestead was enough to look at, but when we drove in to the field past the barn... heaven on earth awaited! I learned of Florediem's when I read about them on my blog friend Christine's blog, please visit her here, http://www.nhgarden.com/notes/?p=158 As you will see, she did a lovely write-up on Florediem Flower Gardens and included such lovely photographs! And she DID warn all readers that the (daylily) bug would bite!

I think we visited just past peak blooming time, as you will see in Christine's photographs that she visited at peak. But we would not have guessed it, because everywhere one looked, all you could see were blooms everywhere! It was really overwhelming, as not only were there daylilies for sale, but also a variety of perennials such as hosta, yarrow (had to have one!), beebalm. snowball hydrangea... oh my gosh, I just can't remember everything else. I wish I had taken notes... I have such a pea-sized brain.

The atmosphere was wonderful: everything was well-cared for and well-tended, clearly labeled,
easy to find with an easy-to-follow handout sheet, there were many comfortable chairs and tables to sit at so you could take everything in under shade, and our hostess was so helpful, knowledgeable and friendly! I was taken by some lovely poppies that were blooming, and I was gifted with some seedpodswhich I planted when I got back home! (Along with my daylilies, and yarrow, and another plant I purchased that I cannot remember the name of(pea-brain) but will ask when I return this next week!

The day was overcast and misting, so my pictures do not do justice to the beauty that surrounded us. So many daylilies, so many different colors and species... how do you even choose? I had just dug up two new perennial beds, so I was determined to limit my purchases to a select few. However, I spent all day yesterday and most all day today preparing a digging a few rows that I hope to one day soon fill with daylilies. And Christine of New Hampshire Gardens just reminded me earlier that their sale is next week, so..........

I leave you with a quick peek of my newest plot of broken ground above; sod removed as of yesterday and most of the rocks and larger stones picked out and the soil (hardpan!) dug deeply and turned over as of today. Now to get the barn cleaned out and the compost added to these four rows. Then... I hope to return to Florediem Flower Gardens and start filling these rows!

And note I made sure to leave plenty of room for expansion... HA!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Day trip to Dhabi's Daylilies, Gilsum, New Hampshire

Once again... it was past time to get away for a day, so I headed to Gilsum, New Hampshire to visit Dhabi's Daylilies on White Brook Road. My mom accompanied me, and we had such a lovely time! The weather was warm and sunny, and we made several stops as we headed east.

Our first stop was to Harlow's Organic Farmstand in Westminster, Vermont: http://harlowfarm.com/about.html We purchased their homegrown blueberries along with sweet corn (I had three ears for lunch this afternoon... it was scrumptious!) and for a quick bite to eat on our way, we chose homemade Raspberry Bars and a Squash Herb Muffin (both gluten free!) I washed mine down with an Iced Coffee, mom had Hot Tea. They carry not only their homegrown organic produce, but an assortment of cheese, milk, annuals and perennials and other ffruits and vegetables. The staff is very friendly... the place spotless... the food divine!

Then it was back on the road towards Keene, NH and on the way, we spotted a flea market in Walpole, so we whipped the jeep around and went back! I tried to be good, and only left with a few must-haves (or can't-live-withouts!

I am a sucker for old books, so I just had to bring these home. Most are from the late 1800's, although one is dated 1916. I cannot wait for winter to read them! And most were only $1.00 apiece... thank goodness there are no shopping carts at flea markets and that you have to carry all things back to your car! And the two little plates are just the thing for holding goodies at teatime... another find at 50 cents. The enamel bucket is perfect for picking raspberries, and then beautiful enamel cup will hang out by the faucet in the back garden to hold a cool drink from the well. One woman's trash becomes anothers's treasures! Well, on we headed to Keene, which was pretty downtown, but I'm not much of a shopper, so we turned back onto the Monadnock Highway and headed towards Gilsum via Surry Road, turning right at Shaw's Corners, which was recommended byCindy of Dhabi's Daylilies. The road meandered along the Ashuelot River... it made for a very pretty ride and would be quite a scenic trip come autumn! We arrived at Dhabi's about one o'clock, and it was quite warm out.

There are so many pretty varieties of daylilies here. My camera was being a bit naughty, so I apologize for the photographs, which do not serve justice to the pretty setting and all the lovely blooms!

Not only do they carry daylilies, but also a variety of perennials and herbs. I came home with some beautiful daylilies, a lovely Anise Hyssop and a Mint that was very intriguing, and a gift of a Clary Sage! (Thank you again, Cindy!)

You can see this massive planting of hosta, and her Echinacea is gorgeous!

A view of oen of the rows of daylilies~

Just beautiful... both white and purple varieties! Well, after several walks around the rows, I made my selections, and mom and I took a seat as our generous hostess went to work and dug up the chosen plants. (Yes, I DID feel guilty not helping!)

(Can you see my mom trying to hide!) We had such a great time here, and I can't wait to go back one day! If you'd like find out more about Dhabi's Daylilies, here are some links...

I discovered Dhabi's Daylilies from my friend Pammy's FaceBook Page; http://www.facebook.com/home_php#!/pages/Thyme-Square-Gardens/227057087309013

where I found NH Garden's FaceBook Page: http://www.facebook.com/NHGarden#!/NHGarden#!

where I found Dhabi's!! Hope you can find time to visit them all!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Simple Zucchini Lasagna

Here is a simple dish that helps use up some of those excess zucchini squash that seem to accumulate this time of year. It is even delicious served cold...
Preheat your oven to 350 degress, and spray a pan with oil. (I used a 10" by 10" pan and 3 small (6" to 8" zucchini for this recipe, as well as one onion)

Trim the ends off the zucchini. Dice the onion and set aside.

Using a wide vegetable peeler or cheese slicer, carefully begin at the tip of a zucchini and pull down to cut wide, thin slices of zucchini. These will serve as your lasagna noodles! (It sometimes makes it easier to slice if you quarter-turn the zucchini every so often). Continue slicing thin strips til all zucchini are used. (I do not peel strips once I have reached the center of the zucchini... I just toss the "core" to the chickens.)

Layer the zucchini strips across the bottom of the pan, first one way, then the other til you have about threee thin layers of zucchini on the bottom. Season as desired.... I sprinkle the top of the zucchini layer with salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried basil, and a pinch of cayenne pepper.

Next sprinkle with some of the diced onion, and top that off with a handful or two of shredded cheese; I used mozzerella and parmesan.

Carefully spoon on your favorite pasta sauce, spreading gently to cover. Repeat this process three times, and top the final layer of pasta sauce with more cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 10 minutes, then turn pan in oven and bake 10 more minutes. Then remove foil from top of pan, and bake an additional 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool a bit, then enjoy! As I said, this is very good cold too!

Also, you may decide to add a layer of crumbled, cooked sausage or hamburger to the recipe, either vegetarian or regular. I made this particular batch with Veggie Patch's Jalapeno Cheddar Veggie Sausages... scrumptious!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Raspberries are ripening, flowers are blooming...

... and weeds are strangling anything that doesn't move. Oh, July... too hot to accomplish much without feeling whipped after only a few hours in the gardens...ugh! I tell you, I cannot wait for autumn, glorious autumn! Even winter weather suits me better than heat and humidity. But I am grateful for this weather on account of the gardens; both the floral variety and the edible ones! (My apologies in advance for the dark photographs)

It has been a curious gardening season. I still have only a handful of spinach to show for my time and efforts at planting five different times in several different places. I just put in another sowing in the new kitchen garden I made... up next to the house. Time will tell if I will reap what I have sown! Come have a look at my gardens with me... I'll share what's been up.

The perennials are thriving in this hot weather... the rudbeckia and shast daisies are thick and tall this year. The beebalm (monarda) provides enough blooms for the many hummingbirds the flitter about, but they are not as spectacular as in previous years.

The vegetable garden is slow to provide this year... onions are doing well, as are the brussels sprouts, pumpkins and summer squash; but pole beans, peas, and greens are not, so I'm putting my faith in sowing most of these for fall crops. Cucumbers are slowly coming along, as are the potatoes, but I remember now that I planted late this year on account of all the rain we had.

Down around the barn, the shasta daisies are competing with the bee balm and rudbeckia, but they are getting out of hand and will need to be transplanted come fall. I still need to complete the bottom half of the stone wall that I started rebuilding last year.

This is the tiny kitchen garden I built a few weeks ago... I finally got a few things planted in it. I got the stones from a beautiful old stone wall out in the woods. I put this right off the porch near the kitchen out of sheer laziness! It will be so much handier to step out the door to grab that snippet of basil or chives, or a handful of mint, without having to run out to the main garden. (I ought to be ashamed of myself!)

Now here is the pride and joy of my berry garden this week, and will be for several more til I get tired of picking (and eating!) them. One whole length of the garden is full of these beautiful raspberry plants! This year they are stretching towards seven feet tall in places! They are just coming on...

This is the summer-bearing varirty... not as tall as the fall-bearing, but tasty just the same. They are just beginning to ripn well, and with the fall-bearing crop, I will continue to harvest berries daily right up til a hard frost kills them in late autumn. I believe this variety to be Heritage Red raspberries, and I recommend them to all Northern gardeners in Zone 4... they are fantastic producers!

They are good pickins', and my very favorite thing to throw on top of a spinach salad, along with a handful of walnuts and a healthy dollop of Caramelized Balsamic Dressing. if you were here for luch, I'd serve you this. But at least I'll share the dressing recipe with you! I devised this quite a few years back when I had a similar salad at a now-gone diner up north. I couldn't find anything that tasted like that thick, sweet and vinegary dressing, so I came up with this. It's perfect for a greens and fruit salad. I LOVE it with raspberries and blueberries together, but it goes well with any combination of fresh strawberries, peaches, blackberries, mangos, etc. And if you don't care for walnuts, try sliced almonds! For the recipe, you can check in my blog archives from February 25th, 2011, or click here... http://wildenbluefarmjournal.blogspot.com/2011/02/fire-up-those-stoves.html

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Banana Bon Bons

Thought I'd include a simple recipe for a cool summertime treat. I have been making simple banana ice cream for the grandchildren (freeze sliced, peeled ripe bananas til solid, place in food processor along with a teaspoon or two of vanilla extract and perhaps a tablespoon of maple syrup or agave nectar and puree til mixed), but the other day I wanted something with chocolate, so I made these instead!

Just peel and slice two or three ripe bananas, and dip into melted chocolate. I used about a cup of coarsely chopped Callabuet dark chocolate, and melted it for one minute in the microwave til it was soft enough to dip the slices into. I set the dipped slices on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, sprinkled the tops with either chopped walnuts or shredded coconut, and placed the tray in the freezer til they were all frozen, then moved them into to a covered freezer container. This proved to be a fast and delicious treat... good enough for the little ones and elegant enough for the grown-ups! Enjoy!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Minty Mint Tea

Once again the time is at hand to haul out my dear ol' dehydrator from the basement pantry and begin it's job for the harvest season! I have been gathering mint in the early mornings to dry for soothing cups of tea come winter time, and I still need to find time to put up a batch or two of Mint Jelly. Nothing soothes a sore throat or upset tummy around here, or offers simple comfort to a winter-weary soul, as does a cup (or two!) of Mint Tea and toast with Mint Jelly!

It is a good best to gather your mint early in the morning before the sun beats on the herb for too great a time... you want it as fresh- tasting and as full of it's essential components as possible. And as always, organically grown is preferable. This basketful of assorted mint produced almost a 1/2 gallon jar of dried Mint Tea leaves. So, gather your mint sprigs...

This is Apple Mint... my favorite for tea and jelly, and it grows in abundance (and spreads as heartily!) here on wildenblue Farm. It is sweet and has a subtle appley overtone to the mint flavor. I believe I purchased this years ago from Tinmouth Channel Herb Farm in Vermont, but alas, they are no longer in business.

This is common Peppermint, and it does not flourish as profusely as the Apple mint does here. Yet it provides me with enough to blend with the Apple Mint. It has a sharper, stronger flavor, as Peppermint does, when compared to the Apple Mint, and i wouldn't want it to overbear the flavor anyhow, so it all works well! I also throw in a bit of Spearmint when I can find it... some years are better than others! Remember, there is no rhyme or reason to exact measurements,,, use what you think tastes wonderfully to you! And you can also gather any number of other herbs that you prefer, such as Catnip, Rose Petals, Lemon Balm, Lemon Verbena, Bee Balm flower petals and leaves... you are limited only by your tastebuds! Just be certain that any of the herbs you use have not been sprayed or treated with any chemicals.

Once I've gathered what seems good, I thoroughly rinse the stems in fresh cool water to remove any dirt or bugs that may be attached to the plant material. Swish and spray well and often. I then pick up small sections of stems and take them out on the porch for a good shake to remove as much of the water as possible. Next, pluck the leaves from the stems, being alert to any unpalatable- looking foilage, which you can toss in the compost along with the stems (They tend to be bitter when brewed). When you are finished, you can place all the leaves in a layer on a clean dish towel and gently press off any remaining moisture, but this is not an absolutely necessary step.

Now place the leaves in a single layer on the dehydrator trays and dry til crisp. I turn my trays after about two hours and continue to dry til done. Once dry, I store the tea mixture in half-gallon canning jars with the metal lids; plastic containers will allow moisture and impart odd flavors to your tea, so do not use them. As I fill the jars with the dried mint, I compress and crumple the leaves GENTLY to compact it a bit.... but remember, you do not want powdered tea leaves!

To brew, simply fill both sides of a mesh tea ball or a stainless perforated tea-spoon with tea leaves and let sit in a cup of boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes. Sweeten with honey, sugar or stevia, and a bit of cream if desired. Enjoy!

Perhaps I should not mention this, but here goes (I can be a very frugal woman!) When I have brewed my cuppa, I set the tea spoon/ ball aside for my next cup and brew the same way, perhaps for a minute or two longer. Your second cup of tea will not be quite as strong as the first cup, but it will still be good.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Is anyone else having problems with Blogger?

For the life of me, I cannot get in to answer any of my dear readers comments. I have spent several days trying to reset passwords, change my settings, contact Blogger directly and anything else I can think of to resolve this problem, which has been going on for quite some time. Still nothing works.
I just want you all to know once again that I am not ignoring your comments... I have been trying to respond, but something is cursed. I don't know what else to do, but I'm determined to figure this out! Please bear with me! xox ~Laura

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What Road Do You Choose?

I hope you don't mind me sharing a few photographs I took on my morning walk yesterday. I love walking out in the meadow or the woods. I purposely mowed a path through the grass all around the perimeter of the field, not to make walking easier, but because I am afraid I may trod upon some hidden creature. I will tell you that when I took the picture of the damselfly, I turned around to step back on the trail and was startled by a tiny "peep, peep" and fluttering of wings. Right in the spot where my next footstep would have been, a baby turkey scurried to the woodline, along with two or three siblings. This time of year, I stay on the path!

baby fawn

a few found treasures

red eft

wild pinks

common blue damselfly

pines near stone wall

garter snake

wild strawberries

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveller long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear,

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black,

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I...

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

~Robert Frost