Saturday, September 24, 2016

Autumn is Here!

Hopefully by the time you read this post our weather will reflect the Autumn weather that I yearn.  Today the air conditioner is off and the windows are open letting in the cooler air.  It's coming and I can feel it approaching!

As fall approaches we enjoy watching our youngest grand play soccer.  He truly loves the game.  He's grown from the little child that didn't know which direction to run down the field, to a young man that excels in his sport.

We've enjoyed a short visit from our daughter.  We were so thankful for her safe arrival even though it was full of anxiety.  The train that bought her home, was in NYC when the train was delayed because of the pressure cooker bombings nearby.  I pray for our world and the fear that surrounds our safety.

What would happen if all the populations on the planet simply refused to fight human beings they did not even know?

Gladys Taber

 We enjoyed a trip to Colonial Williamsburg and had lunch at the Old Chickahominy House.  Whenever our daughter visits we return to old favorites that we have been going to for years.

Even with the rain we enjoyed a lovely walk down the Duke of Gloucester Street.

Slowly but surely I'm bringing out the Autumn decor.  The farmer's market had the cutest little pumpkins that I couldn't resist.

In the meantime there are plenty of zinnias to fill little vases with sunshine.

Sending wishes for beautiful Autumn days ahead. ♥

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Gardening in September

We are having some cooler temperatures again.  We like to take advantage of these pretty days to work in the garden before the real work of fall begins...Leaf removal.  Can you tell it's not my favorite fall chore?  Before that begins we can do a lot to get our garden ready for winter while the weather cooperates.

I like a clean edge to our mulch beds of shrubbery.  There are all kinds of ways to keep a tidy edge that we have used over the years.  On a few of my flower beds we have used brick edging.  These were left over bricks from the building of our home and its additions.  I love the look of brick in the garden as it has an organic way of blending in with the environment.  The mulch beds of shrubbery is different though.  As the shrubs grow the mulched beds need to increase in width.

I've used a half moon edger for years now to get this task done.  It's not too difficult and gives a pleasing edge to our beds.  If you are lucky enough to have had recent rains, the job goes with ease.  If not more muscle needs to be applied to the process.  Grayden and I share the work duty as we edge along the beds.  Ideally this bed should have been edged and mulched this past spring.  That didn't happen so we are doing the work now.

 Gardens are not made by singing 'Oh, how beautiful,' and sitting in the shade.

— Rudyard Kipling

We are a little behind because of the heat and humidity that we have even into September.  Also while cleaning a neighbor's fence of vines and such, I must have gotten into some poison ivy or poison sumac or poison oak.  I'm very familiar with these vines and did not see any evidence of them growing along the fence.  I've had to go on three medications to clear this mess up.  If you love gardening this will probably happen to you.  85% of us are allergic to these vines.  And the other 15% can become allergic at any time.  So be careful, my friends.  I read recently to get the urushiol  oil off of your skin is to scrub your body with Dawn dish washing liquid.  It seems kind of harsh, but the rash is harsher!  The urushiol is a laquer like substance that exudes from the vines that is quite difficult to remove.  If you don't remove it you will have this oil spread over places you never thought you touched.  You should also make sure you launder your clothing and clean your tools.  This is all to do if you know you've been exposed.  Since my experience, I have been at least washing up to my elbows in Dawn.

My doctor looked at me as he was accessing my problem and said, "Don't you know that is a job husbands should be doing and not you"?  I told him I love working in the garden and I can't imagine sending him out to do this chore alone.  If you love gardening you know what I'm talking about.

Our next job will be transplanting some acuba and some hydrangea that would like to live somewhere else.  Plants will teach us where they like to be if we pay attention.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Blackberry Roll

Do you love or dislike blackberries?  Grayden is not a fan of these sweet juicy berries because of the seed that seems to catch one by surprise.  Even with the seed, I love these little jewels from nature.  In late July and August and into September, blackberries grow wild alongside the rural roads of VA.  Many folks are now concerned that we shouldn't consume these berries for fear of toxins and other exhaust fumes that comes from the vehicles that travel the roads.  There are many berry farms where you can go and pick cultivated blackberries.

I was reminded of blackberry season when I visited Deb's blog Country Days and Cottage Ways where she was showing her blackberries.  Deb lives in Wales and has a delightful blog and I'm sure she would welcome your visit.

 Every summer that I can remember always included a trip to a road on the way to my Daddy's work that was full of blackberries.  Mama would have us put on old long sleeve shirts and long pants to go pick blackberries even though it was hot.  As most of you know, blackberries grow among brambles and brush that is usually home to ticks and mosquitoes and the dreaded poison ivy and poison oak.  I remember coming home with pails of juicy blackberries.  Of course we always ate a bunch while picking and our clothes were stained with purple juice.  We knew that when we returned home Mama would make a Blackberry Roll!  Mama said she remembered her Mama and her Mama's mother making this dessert.  My great grandmother and Nanny lived in rural Clifton Forge before moving to Richmond where her children could work in the tobacco factories.  My Nanny said there were blackberries everywhere and they made jams and jellies and of course Blackberry Roll.  During really rough times, blackberries that were put up were about the only food they had to eat.

Thinking about the humble blackberry and Deb's reference made me want to make a Blackberry Roll.  My Nanny and my Mama hardly ever used a recipe.  So I don't have their recipe exactly.  They cooked and baked by feel.  A blackberry roll is basically a rich biscuit rolled with juicy blackberries in the center.  Here is my Blackberry Roll made with grocery store blackberries.

Blackberry Roll

  1. about a quarter cup of sugar or more if blackberries are tart
  2. 2-3 cups of blackberries
  3. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  4. 1 teaspoon salt
  5. 3 teaspoons of baking powder
  6. 1/4 cup of cold butter  (I'm sure my Mama used shortening and my Nanny and great-grandmother used lard
  7. around 2/3 cup of whole milk or more if needed to make soft dough
  8. 2 or 3 tablespoons of melted butter
  9. 1 tablespoon of sugar
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  
Mix together your blackberries and sugar in a bowl and set aside.
In another bowl mix together, flour, salt and baking powder.  Cut the butter into the flour mixture until soft pea sized butter is showing.  Add as much milk you need to form a soft dough. Don't over mix as your dough will become tough.

I like to use a muslin cloth and sleeve that goes over my rolling pin to roll out dough for biscuits or pie crust.  You can find these in any good baking department.  I've had these pieces over 30 years and I keep them in the fridge to make sure they are cold.  You can wash them in your washer when needed.

Roll your dough in an rough 12 by 15 or so rectangle.  Brush the melted butter on the rolled dough.  Then place your berry mixture on the rectangle.

Roll in jelly roll fashion, from the long side and seal the edges of the dough.  With seam side down, place your roll onto a baking dish.

Work quickly as the juice will want to escape.  Make slits on the top of the roll and sprinkle the whole roll with sugar.

I baked mine for 25 minutes until it was lightly browned on top.  You can top with whipped cream or ice cream, but my Mama never did.

It was a lot of fun remembering this very special dessert from my childhood.  Of course, I don't think my Blackberry Roll was as good as my Mama and my Nanny's was, but it sure was nice remembering these times from my past.  Have you ever been blackberry picking or made a Blackberry Roll?


Friday, September 2, 2016

Hello September!

I read today that September first is the  meteorological beginning of Autumn.  I've always thought Autumn began September 21 or there about.  I understand it's the difference between meteorological Autumn and astrological Autumn.  Well I'd like to go with astrological Autumn and not jump in too early.

Some cool evenings we go down to the river to enjoy a sandwich or cheese and crackers and enjoy the beautiful river.

Summer will still be with us for a while.  Even with a storm the other evening, the temperature  has dropped.  Hooray!  I need to get busy and decide how to decorate for the season.  I store a lot of my fall items in a large closet in our basement.  It will be fun to get it all out and see what I want to use this year.  Every year I try to refresh some of the old pieces and decide what needs to be tossed.

As I was writing this post, I asked Grayden what photo should I put here.  He said "You can go downstairs and take a photo of the closet you store the Autumn things in."  Instead I'll show you this hibiscus we recently transplanted.  Crazy man thinks I'm going to show you that closet!


The local stores are full of tempting goodies for fall.  When I start to change our seasonal decor, I try to update a few things.  Shopping in our home is always the preferred way to go for me.  Updating a wreath or adding a few natural pieces will take our decor all the way through Thanksgiving. 

Orange is a color that I don't use in my home very much.  In our Florida room I can use a little, but the rest of our home is decorated in reds.  Orange and red doesn't appeal to my sensibilities.  Of course rich browns and gold do blend well with our red.  

It's nice to bring out the Friendly Village dishes this time of year.  Our everyday Bennington Pottery Blue Agate takes a rest in the server.  

I need to decide what centerpiece to go with on the dining table.  The dough bowl full of naturals looks nice and a candle adds a nice touch.  A colorful tablecloth to compliment Friendly Village should be easy to find in the linen closet.  I'm obsessed with table cloths.  Are you familiar with the April Cornell table linens?  I love them!

It's exciting to think about a favorite season of mine.  I'm so glad I live where the seasons change.  Just like changing furniture in a room can lift my spirits, so can the change of seasons.

After looking at a few of our Autumn things,  I discovered the wreath I had bought in Colonial Williamsburg in February of this year.  It was on sale.  I try to buy things I love out of season so I can get a good price.

Do you wait to decorate for Fall or do you decorate in early September?

 Try to remember the kind of September
When life was slow and oh so mellow
Try to remember the kind of September
When grass was green and grain was yellow
Try to remember the kind of September
When you were a young and a callow fellow
Try to remember and if you remember
Then follow
Lyrics- Tom Jones