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Gracie’s story

This is our little Gracie. She was Olie’s little sister and what a handful she was. Today her face is getting as white as can be. She came to us as a puppy- a large puppy who was too much for her elderly owner. Here on the farm she could use up some of that supernatural puppy superpower. Oliver was patient and kind and taught her the boundaries. She was always over the top- joyful. I frequently thought that she was joy-puppified.

This is Gracie helping in the garden.

This is gracie looking for her keys in the snow.

This is gracie playing in the mud.

This is gracie in her happiest of places- the middle of the pond next door. Oh, how this dog loves to swim.

I have never had a dog that likes vegetables as she does. She picks cherries off of the tree….

she picks peas off the vine…

and she pulls carrots out of the garden before I get to them!

She was kind when Olie got older and finally respected his space. Much to her chagrin after Oliver passed away Theo came along and he was all the puppy that she was- stealing toys, herding, nipping and basically being a pesky younger sibling.

Now she’s the grandma to Lil Roux- a Weimaraner/German Shepherd mix.

She is patient when Roux wants to chew on her ears and steals her bone. She is sweet and loving but still a bull in a china shop. She doesn’t bound across the yard like the joyful gazelle she once was when we drive up the driveway. Now she just walks slowly out of the garage with her tail wagging and stalls in front of the car. Her happiest days are filled with riding up or down the driveway in the UPS truck or waiting for a treat from the mailman. She was my model for the Yellow Lab design. She is truly a love and ever so joyful.

Many of you know that I am an animal person. Since this blog started we have lost and gained a share of lifetimes. Each with a special place for us. What joy I have known to host and love these souls for this short time. Thank you to everyone who has shared their loves and their losses with me over the years. I consider it a great honor.

Update: This was written in January but not posted. Since then we have had to say good-bye to this sweet girl. Her presence in our family is greatly missed…

it’s an understatement but I don’t have the words…




Fall Abundance




Ahhh SPRING!

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Do you hear that faint peeping sound? It’s coming from my garage!!!

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This is what is coming from the garden. : )

It’s been a busy Spring here at the farm. More to come from Countess Cluck (shown above) and her little chickie friends.




Everyday Vegetarian Omelette

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Everyday. Seriously everyday. Okay, maybe 5 days a week. When I haven’t had one… I crave it. It jump starts my morning and I know that I’m getting a healthy portion of those vitamin loaded leafy greens. Often I will have vegetables in the refrigerator that are chopped and ready to go for the week but I do love to run out to the garden in my cowboy boots and robe to pick the chard for that morning’s omelette.

Now, I’m sure this recipe is floating around out there somewhere, but I swear I came up with it myself due to what I had on hand. As I mentioned in a previous post, my garden and I have been out of step most of the season… except for the Swiss Chard.

Holy Swiss moly. It is still going strong out there!

IMGP5718Pull together your ingredients…

IMGP5724Saute your raw vegetables in a small amount of oil.

IMGP5730Once they have softened, add your greens and seasonings; salt, nutmeg and thyme.

IMGP5734Pour in your scrambled egg and wait for it to set. Then sprinkle on your cheese.

IMGP5736Once the egg has set, gently fold your omelette in half to melt the cheese.

IMGP5743Plate that little darling up and ENJOY!

Ingredients:

  • couple drops of olive oil
  • 1/4 sliced small onion
  • 1/4 red pepper chopped ~and/or~ whatever is in the frig… green peas, sauteed leeks, cooked asparagus, mushrooms
  • 5 or 6 or 10 Chard leaves… washed, stems removed and leaves chopped
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • Pinch of dried or fresh thyme
  • 3 or 4 swipes on the grater of fresh nutmeg- or a dash of dried
  • 1 or 2 eggs…  1 whole egg scrambled with a splash of milk or water
  • sprinkle of crumbled goat cheese, feta or whatever you like
  • Red Hot sauce, Sriracha or salsa garnish

Instructions:

Drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil into 8 in. nonstick skillet and heat to medium. Add onions and any other raw vegetables to the pan. Saute lightly until vegetables are soft. Add washed and chopped Swiss Chard (stems removed) to pan and let it wilt while stirring. Add salt, pepper, nutmeg and thyme folding all of the vegetables together. Cook over medium heat for approx. 3 to 4 minutes.

Once your Chard has soften and cooked, add your beaten egg(s) and gently swirl it around picking up the edges of the omelette to let the liquid meet the pan. After the egg has set up, sprinkle on your cheese of choice and fold the omelette in half. Allow to sit a couple of minutes for flavors to meld.

Garnish with Sriracha Sauce and fresh herbs. The creamy goat cheese compliments the spice nicely.

** If you find that there is too much liquid in the center of your omelette you can put it under the broiler in your oven on high for 2 or 3 minutes to set. Be sure to use an oven safe skillet and DON’T forget the handle will be/stay hot. I speak from experience!

 Tiny-Daisy

 




Happy Fall… Happy Dance…

I’m updating my website today. Oh my, what an undertaking. I completely forget all of the ends and outs of the software… but I am planning a sale soon (woo hoo!) and I want to make sure all of my designs are available on the guest towels (hint, hint).

The Clothesline Festival was fabulous in spite of the fact that my sister and I had to hold the tent down in the wind/rain storm that blew through. No fun. Nothing was damaged, thankfully, and it seemed that most of the people that were put off by the forecast on Saturday did come to shop on Sunday. It was wonderful to make new friends and see familiar faces… I have the some of the NICEST customers!

Recently framed paintings and drawings for the show.

There was an exhibit at the gallery titled “In Company with Angels- Seven Rediscovered Tiffany Windows” – it was exquisite. After having read “Clara and Mr. Tiffany” this past summer- it was such a thrill to see some of the exhibition lamps that Susan Vreeland wrote about. If the exhibit comes to town near you… you must go see it! You’ll be glad that you did.



The kids are back in school. Whew. Sigh. Yippee. Can’t quite ever decide. I supposed its a bit of everything. The first week in September is always a challenge- prepping for the show, Labor Day weekend and back into the school routine. After two full weeks LaLa was home sick today with a cold and fever. My how quickly THAT begins. : (

We used to call the school bus “the big yellow dog” when I was growing up…

Our “little yellow dog” passed out in the yard after a walk and a swim at the pond.

I am embracing the peace and solitude of Fall. The dogs are happy to go on their daily walks and my body, mind and spirit are thumping their collective tails with gratitude too. I occasionally hear the Canadian geese flying over and am reminded that it will soon be time to dig out the coats, scarves and gloves.

My favorite sugar maple is starting to turn. It is one of the first and I feel the immediacy of soaking the color in before it’s gone.

The fact is- Summer wears me out. Does it you? Is there more gazpacho and salsa that really needs to be made? My food processor has gotten a better work out this summer than my body has and I’m ready to put that thing and the garden to bed.

The Black Krim, and Brandywine tomatoes were delicious this year!

… except there are those tulips, crocuses and lilies that I promise myself every year that I will plant more of when Fall rolls around.

It’s time for planting and painting. I’m excited… and doing a Happy Fall dance. : )




Resources for Vegetable Gardening

My reference library gets bigger every year. I’m a sucker for a good book… especially of the gardening kind. As much as I love trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals, I am a nuts over growing vegetables and eating meals fresh from the garden. Here is my list of vegetable gardening books that I would highly recommend:

The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible  by Edward C. Smith- All in one general reference book

Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew- Valuable for gardeners with small plots

Lasagna Gardening by Patricia Lanza- No dig gardening. Love it.

Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte- How to make the most of companion planting.

1001 Garden Questions Answered by Alfred C. Mottes- An old reference book (published in 1939) that I love.

Grocery Gardening- Great growing tips as well as recipes from friends that I met on twitter.

Serving Up the Harvest- A “go to” book for seasonal cooking.

Storing the Harvest-Great info on how to save, put up and freeze your seasonal produce.

I’m sure I’ve missed a couple but I will update it as they come to me. Do you have a favorite book that you would like to recommend? Please do!

 

 




The Potager in July


The view from the studio.

My how fast the summer is going… I can’t keep up. The potager is growing nicely this season although I have been rather inconsistent regarding watering. I can’t believe how parched the ground is. Let’s hear it for the sprinkler! I live on the gardening edge and water from ABOVE… gasp! Please don’t notify the gardening police, thank you.

I made a few planting changes this year. The entire back row of the design has been planted to asparagus and I’m looking forward to having a perennial section that will not need replanting next year. Thankfully this family loves fresh asparagus and I must admit that growing up I had never seen fresh asparagus. My only memories of the vegetable were once a year on Christmas Eve- a mushy, smelly substance out of a Campbell’s soup can.  Eegads. Imagine my delight at lightly seasoned blanched stems with lemon and butter. Ahhh.

Two sour cherry trees were planted this spring on either side of the bistro set. Farmboy loves a sour cherry pie and I FINALLY found two Dark Star cherries locally. They produced the most wonderful fruits this year. Maybe enough for a couple of pies but they never made it inside the house. Let’s just say between Farmboy, me and Gracie the dog (yes, Gracie) the pies didn’t stand a chance. Maybe next year…

Today I had our first tomato of the season in a tomato and basil sandwich. I should have photographed it… but I ate it instead. I believe the variety is Crimson Cushion. Delicious. Nice color, low acid and velvet-y flesh.

Hey, I did photograph it with today’s harvest! Broccoli anyone?

I think this post will get me over the blogging block that I have been experiencing. So much to see, do, paint, plant, cook and draw its hard to stay focused. Needless to say- lots to blog about- so come back, pour a glass of wine or iced tea and stay awhile with me and Toonces. Tell us what has been keeping you busy this summer!

Toonces doing his best to look sophisticated.




Summer is ramping up… and I’m already worn out.

Whew.

May was a whirlwind of activity.

Will one of you sweethearts remind me of this next year?

All of those snow-filled days last winter amounted to one very pent up gardener who was ready to dig up the entire yard this Spring just to enjoy being warm, outside and being active.

I now understand why Farmboy loves the winter so much. It represents rest. As soon as the soil wakes in the Spring the rush for planting begins. The crops getting in are the biggest priority for the month of May. Farmboy comes in from his IT job, changes clothes, grabs and bite to eat and then heads out. Numerous nights during the month we would meet in bed at midnight- exhausted from deadlines, orders and planting.

Just as we breathe a big sigh of relief and a prayer of thanks that the crops are finally in… albeit late, it’s time to cut hay, cultivate, mow as well as pack the trailer for my next show (Allentown Art Festival this weekend) and do three nights a week of lacrosse practices.


The potager layout… before.

This year I decided to splurge and purchased one of those handy Mantis garden tillers for the vegetable garden. It is very light-weight and its narrow width works well in the small beds of my potager. Speaking of which, the potager is almost completely planted… I’m thrilled! I think this year it will be a delight for the eyes and the tastebuds.

Getting started with planting.

I always “plan” to put a “plan” on paper before I start planting… but I never do. It feels like painting when I am out there planting on the fly- thinking about lines, shape, color and repetition. At least this year I do have rows marked and I plan to do an “after” drawing of what is there for next year’s reference. I have threatened everyone that they will “rue the day” if they touch my plant markers as this is the first year that I am actually using them to keep track of which varieties grow/taste better than others.

The Mr and Mrs.

I’m thrilled this year to have an Eastern Bluebird family in a nesting box right under the studio windows on our rose arbor!  It has been such a joy watching the coming and going of those busy parents. The male will come right out to the potager when I am there and perch on the pea trellises or tomato stakes. After years of never even seeing a glimpse of the elusive New York State Bird… its wonderful to have a family of them living here next to the garden.

Outside the studio window.

So friends, thanks for stopping by. I will soon be posting some recent paintings that I’ve been working on, a great list of vegetable gardening references, potager progress, and a fun French-themed dinner menu you will not want to miss. Now let’s all get to work on enjoying the upcoming LAZY days of summer as demonstrated by Pongo the cat.

Pongo taking his afternoon nap.

 

 




German Harvest Basket

For my gardening friends out there… you must have one of these baskets! I found mine at the Philadelphia Flower Show last spring and enjoyed using it all throughout the summer. I love it because you can rinse your veggies off out in the garden before bringing them in the house/kitchen. I was using a picnic basket before and all of the dirt came in with the veggies. Now, my veggies are dirt free, Baby. I also like the industrial look of this basket. Today it is in a chair in my kitchen in front of the french doors with green tomatoes ripening in the sunshine.

I cannot remember who I purchased this basket from at the show but they are available here. Enjoy and have a fabulous friday!




Fresh Spicy Salsa

Yesterday I made the most fantastic salsa with fresh tomatoes and peppers from the garden. It will light your fire. I LOVE spicy food and this recipe is a keeper. I was running low on jalapenos so I chopped up and threw in a few green cayenne peppers with the seeds. Yowza! Sha-Zam! The seeds are where the heat comes in so adjust accordingly for your taste. And don’t rub your eyes while you are chopping your peppers if you don’t wear gloves like me! See important note below.

  • 8 Beefsteak type vine ripened tomatoes
  • 1 Jalapeno peppers chopped fine- add seeds for heat
  • 1 green cayenne pepper chopped fine
  • 1 large onion chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • splash of red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste.

Peel, seed and chop tomatoes. Add the rest of the ingredients and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Grab some corn chips and hang on to your hat!

If you accidently get oil from the peppers in your eyes or heaven forbid your nose…give yourself a yogurt facial. Seriously! I have rubbed it in my eyes before and it was the ONLY thing that worked. Farmboy had to do an emergency search online because I couldn’t open my eyes to see the computer. Moral of the story… don’t chop peppers and inadvertenly get distracted on the phone. You COULD just do what you are supposed to and wear gloves. But tell me, do YOU have latex gloves in your kitchen?




ABOUT

Hi, I'm Michelle. I am an artist/designer specializing in unique topiary themed illustrations for the Home & Gardener. I live on a farm in Upstate New York with my husband, aka Farmboy, my two children affectionately known as "La La" and "the Bean" and a small petting zoo of other family members.

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