Tag Archives: garden

Heavenly French Lavender

The air was fragrant with a thousand trodden aromatic herbs,

with fields of lavender,

and the brightest roses blushing in tufts all over the meadows…

                                                                        ~Willian Cullen Bryant, 1794-1878

(Note: There are many spectacular images capturing the amazing beauty of Chateau Dumas and surrounding villages. Allow time for your computer to load the images so that you don’t miss any. This is the fifth in the series on a millinery masterclass held in southwest France. Won’t you follow along?)

sweet dreams

 The air at Chateau Dumas is heavenly. The fragrance of blooming lavender from tens of hundreds of plants thriving behind carefully manicured hedges gently floats through the 18th-century windows up to the second floor. The magnificent aromatic sends me off to sweet dreams. 

carriage house studio facing east2

Lavender gives the illusion of feather stitches holding the Chateau garden sections together with their spectacular, billowing fronds. Indigenous to the Mediterranean region, lavender is a perennial and grows well in this perfect climate–fully enjoying the sun of the gardens and fields. The sandy, slightly alkaline soil of the Chateau’s gardens is just the environment for the lavender to thrive. I dream of having lovely gardens here in southern France…

I am mesmorized by the dreamy fragrance of the herb, and how the plant sways gently in the warm breezes. Even the bees and yellow butterflies can’t get enough of the sweet, soothing fragrance and seemingly grow dizzy from their over-indulgance in the warm, late afternoon sun. As the days progress, my muscles and bones feel soothed from the medicinal properties of the delicate, soft lavender fronds. I can not help but linger amongst the lavender each time I pass through the gardens from the Chateau to the atelier in the former carriage house. Ahh…it is simply impossible to resist rubbing the lavender between my fingers. Please,  just one more sniff of the soothing fragrance before I continue on to the studio in the carriage house. Please…

Lavender and front of Chateau  fav 1

Lavender, Bee and Chateau

lavender wands

Serendipitously, the gracious Chatelaine de Dumas arranges for her lovely friend to spend an hour or so teaching about French lavender, and the making of Victorian-era lavender wands as her mother taught her as a very young girl. Just after the morning dew dissipates, large bunches of lavender are gathered for the lavender session later in the day. The lavender is neither damp nor dry. Rub and sniff some more.

Some gathered lavender FAV 1

sweet lavender “cages”

A few of us join Chrissie Marshall in the dinning room after our lunch for a lavender intermezzo from our millinery masterclass. With her lovely Scottish brogue, Chrissie recounts how her mother and father taught her how to read at four and sew at five. Throughout her childhood, they taught her many ageless crafts and traditions–including making beautiful fragrant sachets and wands using the garden’s bountiful gifts. Her voice is as soothing as the lavender.

We are eager to learn how to make lavender wands from the newly-harvested herbs from the Chateau’s gardens. The lavender wands are only made once a year when the lavender stems are soft and pliable–it is now the perfect time of the year. The suppleness of the lavender stems and flowers is vital for ease in successful wand making.

Lavender bunches FAV 2

Lavender Bunches FAV

Chrissie tells us the lavender fragrance will last for several years in the wands. Even though the lavender will dry, the dried wands simply need to be squeezed to release their fragrant oils.

Christie - lavender master teacher FAV

The wands can be hung in a room, closet or placed in drawers to repel moths–much better than mothballs.  I think the fragrant memories of France should be everywhere after I return home! Chrissie shows three different methods of making lavender wands–all of which are lovely.

Lavender wand types FAV 2

Types of lavender wands FAV

An even number of lavender stems are collected, and the leaves are gently stripped off the stems. The stems are then gathered in a small bunch and the tops of the flowers are aligned. A small piece of thin wire–about 1-1/2 inches –is wrapped around the base of the flowers to secure the bouquet. Then a long piece (about three yards or so) of narrow 1/4 inch peach-colored satin ribbon is tied over the wire–leaving a very short end of ribbon and a long end of ribbon.

The bundle of lavender stems is turned over, and the stems are carefully bent down over the lavender blossoms–making a “cage” with the stems. A couple of the rebellious blossoms are gently encouraged back inside the cage. Each of the stems are lined up around the blossoms. The short end of the peach ribbon is tucked inside amongst the lavender.

Using a large-eyed tapestry needle, the long end of the ribbon is “threaded” and the weaving process starts going under and over–round and round–the lavender cage until it is beautifully covered. We each practice weaving, and feel so relaxed.

lavender wand and basket FAV2

Lavender weaving FAV1

keepers of memories

More lavender is selected from that harvested this morning, and additional simple lavender wands are easily assembled into small bunches and secured. Michelle generously shares some of her gorgeous, vintage robin’s egg blue ribbon discovered on a little excursion to a French hatmaker in another village. Some of the wands are embellished with this lovely little treasure. What a keepsake. This is an intermezzo that creates fragrant memories…

Lavender and Blue ribbon FAV 2

Lavender, sweet lavender; come and buy my lavender,
hide it in your trousseau, lady fair.
Let its flovely fragrance flow over you from head to toe,
lightening on your eyes, your cheek, your hair.

~Cumberkand Clark, Flower Song Book (c.1929)

More about other lovely sights of  a millinery dream trip to France in the days ahead as they unfold.

à bientôt mes amis!

Read more at French Dreams at Chateau Dumas.

Read more at Inspiring Beauty at Chateau Dumas.

Read more at Estivales du Chapeau {hat festival in France

Read more at Creativity at Chateau Dumas

Be sure to visit A Southern Daydreamer for more outdoor musings.

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Filed under crafts, France, Gardening, Home, Travel, Vintage

Creativity at Chateau Dumas

A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry,

and see a fine picture every day of his life,

in order that worldly cares may not obliterate

the sense of the beautiful

which God has implanted in the human soul.
                                                             ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 

(Note: There are many spectacular images capturing the amazing beauty of Chateau Dumas. Allow enough time for your computer to load the images so that you don’t miss any. This is the third in the series on a millinery masterclass held in southwest France. Won’t you follow along with me?)

looking upward

Discovering  Chateau Dumas in the tiny village of Auty, France is a study in creativity, beauty and inspiration. My travels to Chateau awakens my slumbering senses with panoramic views of the French countryside and villages. The colors, fragrances and rustic beauty of this Mediterarean region are mesmorizing. It is hard to take it all in.

chateau northeast side fav

Arrival at the 18th-century chateau feels as if I am tranformed into a French Impressionistic painting. My spirit is renewed with the expansive vistas, tranquil gardens and the country elegance of Chateau Dumas. How I wish I could linger long into the night in the gardens.

Everywhere there is a vignette, art or indoor and outdoor beauty that makes me pause and catch my breath. This journey to Chateau Dumas is what is needed for reflection and the rediscovery of creativity that has grown fallow.

Even the 300-year-old marble stairs to the second floor are amazing. I leave my sandals off at the bottom of the stairs and feel the cool, time-worn marble underneath my feet as I climb to the second floor. I wonder if horses raced up the stairs during the upheaval of the French Revolution or the Napoleonic Wars.

main with shoes3FAV

main with shoes fav

The elegant second floor hallway is stunning and is accentuated with several examples of neo-classical trompe l’oeil–a style of painting that gives an illusion of reality. I look several times above the doorway as the corbels appear nearly realistic and three-dimensional. Wait. Do the doors appear as if they are paneled? It is amazing how the contrasts of light and dark create an illusion of something that is not.

Contrasts in shape and texture abound on the second floor. The gorgeous striped French linen ticking frames the double French doors at one end of the hall and  luxurious, elegant red silk drapes the paned windows on the east side. Subtle nuances of pattern continuance mingle throughout the hall–the highly polished antique terra cotta floor tile laid on the diagonal, the illusionary diamond-shaped panel inserts on the doors and the antique flax linen heart with red embroidery set on a diagonally-placed terra cotta marble plant stand. Brilliant. The hall so creatively reflects balance and order that it feels quite tranquil.

second floor hallway FAV

tile floor second floor FAV

hallwayfav2

above door second floorFAV

linen heart on marble table FAV

There are four guest rooms on this section of the second floor–each unique and beautifully appointed. My breath is taken away by the beauty of these rooms. The guest room that I have is superb with a dramatic black chandelier, black marble fireplace, cameo-inspired border, gorgeous khaki green silk drapery–like a fine lady’s ball gown–that  frames the extravagant views of the French countryside in the valley below. A lovely antique French chair in the corner is tailored with finely-crafted handspun flax linen. There is a tasteful white French writing desk in the other corner. I think I shall become a permanent guest in this room–at least for the remainder of the summer…then into fall…or perhaps, until Christmas. Dream.

handle and key2

 bedroom view FAV

writing desk bedroom 1

writing desk bedroom 2

Bedroom Window FAV

bedroom window and view fav

An ensuite bath is the perfect ending to the day with the deep-soaking claw foot tub set on a golden marble floor. Windows to the east let in the early morning sun, and the customized chandelier designed to look like rain drops provides subtle lighting in the evening. What more could a woman want?

Bathtub FAV

Bathroom chandelier FAV

curtain finial FAV

Bathroom window FAV

Additional guest rooms are to the north on the second floor, too. The circular stairs to the third floor leading to more individually appointed guest rooms is exquisite. The wood banister amazing. I wonder what kind of wood was used on the banister.

Third floor stairs FAV

third floor stairs close FAV

millinery atelier

Across the manicured gardens is the Chateau’s expansive coach house–the second floor of the west wing is the dedicated millinery studio. The north lower level of the carriage house features a lovely little Chateau shop filled with vintage French linens, white-on-white embroidered sheets, pieces of machine and handmade lace, antique fine cotton night dresses/slips and rustic linen shirts, aged-silver and many other vintage French items. Local artisans’ jewelry, lavender sachets made with vintage ticking and linen, and fine French bath products are beautifully displayed throughout.

Carriage House FAV

carriage house climbing roses

carriage house shop FAV

Exterior wall hugging stairs provides one entrance to the millinery atelier. Under the portico is another example of neo-classical trompe l’oeil opposite the teak garden bench. Clever.

carriage house north wing FAV

carriage house window FAV

west entry to carriage house

carriage house through portico to east carriages FAV

portico with teak bench FAV

portico trompe l'oleil

potico trompe l'oleil FAV 2

southeast carriage house stairs FAV

I sneak a peak at the upstairs studio to catch a glimpse of what is to come in days ahead as we learn under the expert tutoring of Dillon Wallwork–a Royal Milliner– in a millinery masterclass (hatmaking). My anticipation for the masterclass grows–there are inspiring sample hats on display on four to five foot high antique carved wood hat stands, black and white striped hat boxes for our creations, sewing machines old and new, wood hat molds for crowns and brims and hatmaking supplies.

green hat

straw hat

studio hats

 cupboard with hat box FAV

Frister Sewing Machine FAV

Fister Sewing Machine Close FAV

Singer Treadle FAV

Hat molds FAV

Hat brims FAV

Hat molds and feathers FAV

straw hats materials FAV

Off to the right on a display table is a brochure about the International summer straw hat festival held in nearby Septfonds–Estivales du Chapeau. Tomorrow. Septfonds is the heart of French straw hat making.

Hat Festival Ad FAV

More about the millinery masterclass, one of the world’s great Estivales du Chapeau, a visit to a 1824 French hat factory and other sights of  a dream trip to France in the days ahead as they unfold.

à bientôt mes amis!

Read more at French Dreams at Chateau Dumas.

Read more at Inspiring Beauty at Chateau Dumas.

Today I am hooked on everything French. Find out what other people are hooked on.

Visit The Inspired Room for others’ inspirations about creating a beautiful life.

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Filed under France, Gardening, Sewing, Travel, Vintage

Inspiring Beauty at Chateau Dumas

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread,

places to play in and pray in,

where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. 

                                                                                                                   ~John Muir

(Note: There are many spectacular images capturing the amazing beauty of Chateau Dumas. Allow enough time for your computer to load the images so that you don’t miss any. This is the second in the series on a millinery masterclass held in southwest France. Won’t you follow along with me?)

outward beauty

The 18th-century Chateau Dumas is totally enchanting on scales grand and small. There is so much to see and take in on this breath-taking estate in the small village of Auty, France. The late summer afternoon interplay of color, light and texture of the Mediterranean region creates dreamy illusions of French Impressionism. I marvel at and feel priviledged to spend several summer days in such a superb setting whilst learning from a master English milliner and designer in the days ahead.

chateau dumas 3 under portico fav

I am a bit weary from the long travels. The magnificent gardens are beckoning me to sit with them awhile.

Would you like to select  a garden hat from the basket in the foyer and stroll in the gardens with me?

hats in foyer FAV

Monet-inspired weathered teak garden benches strategically placed throughout the Chateau Dumas gardens provide opportunity to reflect and soak in as much of the beauty as possible. The teak benches and French metal chairs provide numerous invitations for varied perspectives of the gardens and vistas. I am quite taken in by the setting, and am totally mesmorized by it’s beauty. I pause frequently along the garden paths, sit and try to absorb all that I see into my memory. The beauty is stunning. I am starting to feel refreshed in my soul.

Curved Teak Dumas FAV

French chairs and table

teak bench and lantern carriage house3fav 

french metal chair west side of carriage house2

Bench with lichen FAV

Blue stripe metal chair

Blue Stripe metal chair 2 FAV

The garden benches and chairs are bekoning me to sit awhile and reflect. I can’t resist–the tranquilityand depth of “old-soul” in the gardens are drawing me to linger under the French sky.

Won’t you sit awhile with me, too? There is room for both of us on the bench . . .

moss covered garden bench 2

My worldly concerns and weariness from the travels begin to dissipate with the warmth of the Mediterranean sun. I am feeling soothed from the intoxicating lavender oils perfuming and lingering in the garden air. Listen. The song birds serenade the garden repose with their afternoon revelry unlike those heard at Rose Cottage.

There is so much to see within the gardens…butterflies and bees dizzy from endless visits to the lavender blossoms, sweet soft pink and white roses reaching for the sun and rewarding the gardener for her caring efforts, and window boxes and clay pots with trailing pink geraniums–all with enough fortitude to withstand the warm, dry summers in southern France.

Lavender and Bee

climbing roses pink dumas

climbing roses white close dumas

climbing roses close dumas

The gardens at Chateau Dumas are a living and breathing tapestry of texture. The whisps of the lavender fronds provide the feather stitches between patterns of trimmed coniferous hedges, roses, speciman plants and the sweeping views of the patchworked valley just beyond the terra cotta brick walls and iron garden gate.

carriage house studio facing east2

Lavender and front of Chateau  fav 1

 chateau allee fav

gardens4

Formal Hedges Facing South

gardens southeast

inward beauty

Feeling refreshed from garden lavender, vistas and bird choirs, I explore the Chateau. Guests usually enter the foyer through the double French doors that are flanked by large blue wood shuters. So French. Gorgeous gold gilded mirrors, a large foyer table, a grandfather clock, antique settee and chairs, woven market baskets and assorted vignettes accentuate the welcoming, but massive foyer. My footsteps echo on the large square tiles.

Painting of Dumas in foyer FAV

market basket FAV

foyer books7FAV

Through the foyer and past the stunning centuries-old marble staircase, is a light and airy dining room with expansive southern views capturing the pictureque valley and countryside. The black, white and red antique tile floor creates energy and lightness, and brings the outdoors into the Chateau. Simple–but stunning–vignettes throughout the room carry nature’s elegance even further.

eggs and bowls FAV2

Dinning room3

Dinning room4

dinning room tile

dining room chandelair FAV 1

Through another large set of double French doors is the outdoor dining terrace.  Off in the distance is the unmistakeable hum of combines and other farm equipment as hay and straw is baled from sections of the golden patchwork near the misty Mediterranean horizon. Other than the distant sounds of French farmers at work and the merrymaking of songbirds, no other distractions are heard. It is heaven. . . Fellow adventurers linger for hours after sharing meals while marveling at the incredible country setting.

terrace

terrace2FAV

Terrace View FAV

Terrace lingering

Christopher  and Naomi's antique mold

The moderate-sized–but efficient kitchen–is off of the dinning room for easy access for refreshments throughout the day. A lovely view of the valley is framed by pots of fragrant herbs at the bottom of the kitchen window. I am convinced that dishwashing would never be a chore with spectacular views such as these, and with the cheery serenades of the bird choirs! Please, may I help with the dishes?

kitchen shelves FAV 1

kitchen shelves FAV2

kitchen windowFAV1

view from kitchen window FAV2

Totally charmed by the hospitality, kindness and care of the Chatelaine de Dumas, I dream of  lingering at Chateau Dumas indefinitly.  I really won’t be much bother. Really.

lizzie

My stay at Chateau Dumas is everything dreams are made of…the beautifully appointed Chateau, gorgeous gardens, rooms with spectacular views, lovely song bird symphanies throughout the day, and the millinery atelier in the fantastic carriage house–all is a invigorating, sensory feast in every way! I am delighted to have arrived.

We live in a wonderful world

that is full of beauty, charm and adventure.

There is no end to the adventures that we can have

if only we seek them with our eyes open.
                                                                           ~Jawaharlal Nehru

More about the Chateau’s amazing trompe l’oeil, upper floors, millinery atelier, one of the world’s great Estivales du Chapeau, a visit to a 1824 French hat factory and other sights of  a dream trip to France in the days ahead as they unfold.

I would love to know what you think of this amazing adventure using the comment link below.

à bientôt mes amis!

Read more at French Dreams at Chateau Dumas.

Visit The Inspired Room for others’ inspirations about creating a beautiful life.

You may want to take a morning walk over at The Southern Daydreamer for more Outdoor Wednesday posts.

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Filed under France, Gardening, Home, Travel

French Dreams at Chateau Dumas

 The future belongs to those who believe

in the beauty of their dreams.

                                                              ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

(Note: There are many spectacular images capturing the amazing beauty of Chateau Dumas. Allow enough time for your computer to load the images so that you don’t miss any. This is the first in the series on a millinery masterclass held in southwest France. Won’t you follow along with me?) 

bonjour!

The dream trip of learning a new skill and living the country life of a French woman has come true this summer! For a brief time, I am alongside eight other travelers from Germany, Spain, England and the U.S. as millinery apprentices in the atelier at the superb 18th-century Chateau Dumas in Auty, France. Our adventures will be amazing in the days ahead!

map

the dream begins

The technicolor images of the southwest French countryside are breathtaking as I make the hour-long journey from Toulouse — La Ville Rose (the Pink City) — to the tiny village of Auty with about 150 residents. Antoinne, my driver, talks about various points of interest along our journey–in French, of course! I nod frequently and comment with “oui’” and “très beau” — keenly and painfully realizing how dormat my French has grown. 

Vast rolling fields are filled with vibrant golden sunflowers turning their faces towards the warm rays of the sun, stately stalks of corn and trained ancient grape vines neatly trail along guided wires. Hundreds of acres of apple trees are covered with a white airy cloth to project the fruit from the Mediterranean summer sun. Irrigation in the fields is commonly seen in the fields.

Names of towns on small signs, such as “Montauban” and “Caussade” point the way northwest with the frequent turns on the round abouts–Chateau Dumas lies just past Caussade. The centurian houses in the small villages have gorgeous authentic terra cotta tiled roofs. Most of the centuries-old buildings are made of a soft rose or warm golden brick or stone, and are accented with rustic blue, green or brown wood shutters.

Fields of round golden hay bales, brillant sunflowers and manicured grapevines are now a common sight. The warm summer air smells of fresh mown hay, earth and lavender co-mingled together under the vibrant azure blue sky. All my senses have awakened from their slumber!

Then…around a corner and up a hill…down a long, country gravel driveway flanked by ancient groves of plum, fig, walnut and other trees…Chateau Dumas!  Be still my heart! The spectacular beauty of this setting makes me feel like it is a dream. Please don’t wake me! How can I be so blessed to have such a beautiful and dreamy trip?

chateau dumas 5

chateau dumas 2 under portico

chateau dumas 1

Front of Chateau - Early Evening

chateau 3rd floor roof window

Perched high on a hill admidst 22 wooded acres, Chateau Dumas has spectacular vistas overlooking patchwork fields, a lake, wooded grooves and rustic farmhouses that have stood the test of time.

gardens4

stairs to pool2

to south garden2

bedroom window and view fav

Won’t you follow along over the next several days as we embark on this amazing millinery masterclss at the lovely Chateau Dumas in southwest France?

dumas sign 5

à bientôt mes amis!

I will write more tomorrow! What are your dreams of beauty today?

You may want to take a morning walk over at The Southern Daydreamer for more Outdoor Wednesday posts.

 

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Forget-Me-Not

 Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of Heaven,

   Blossom the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.

                                                                         ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
 

 

goodbye blue sweetness

The mercury is climbing past the 90 degree mark, and the humidity proclaims it is summertime. My sweet, little blue mouse ears–myosotis–are feeling pale. Whilst firefly fairies dance in celebration of Midsummers, the forget-me-nots scatter their seeds into the rich, black humus beneath them following each cooling breeze. The seeds will lie fallow until the spring rains bring new starry blooms once again.  Yes, it is time to say “au revoir” to the last harbinger of spring at Rose Cottage.

Forget me knot and Heidi

Planted in little clumps by the kitchen entry along the south porch, the little blue flowerettes faithfully send out a cheery greeting as the sun comes up over the river valley each day. The large hosta leaves are protective umbrellas for the sweet spring flowers–allowing them to twirl one last time at the Midsummer’s Eve dance.

Forget me knots 1

We are thrilled the little blue stars have twinkled so long this year. The forget-me-nots have loved their moist, rich soil beneath the cool, shaded refuge of the nearby river birch and Deborah maple.

Forget me knot 3

Each day, the lovely myosotis remind me of  Grandmother. She so enjoyed the minature blue flowerettes growing along the spring-fed waters of Swan Lake.  I cherish all the time spent with her as a young girl at her lake home in the far north, and all the little bouquets picked for Grandmother. Every morning or evening, I pause by the unmistakeable blue starry plants and recall with fondness the gift my Grandmother was to me.

Forget me knots 2

Do certain flowers remind you of the gift of special people in your life?

Midsummer’s Eve is approaching–a time we enjoy for the long daylight hours that extend well into the evening in the north. I think it is time to celebrate the longest day of the season by freshening up several of the window boxes at Rose Cottage… and, giving the sweet blue forget-me-nots another dance!

The root of a forget-me-not caught the drop of water by the hair and sucked her in, that she might become a floweret, and twinkle as brightly as a blue star  on the green firmament of earth.

                                                                                           ~Frederick Wilhelm Carove

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Market-fresh Morels

The greatest gift of a garden is the restoration of the five senses.

                                                                                                                              ~Hanna Rion

farmer’s market {Seattle-style

Rise and Shine! It is early Saturday morning, and not difficult to jump out of bed. One of my favorite days of the week–the Saturday outdoor farmer’s market! All week, I anticipate how my senses come alive with the tantalizing aromas of fresh herbs and  flowers mingled with the melange of color, form and texture of fresh-from-the-grower vegetables and fruit. I enjoy getting a few things that we don’t grow in the Rose Cottage kitchen garden.

This particular Saturday market is different–we are visiting our Darling Girl and her sweet hubby in Seattle. The four of us load-up in the Jeep, our market baskets at-hand, and head off to the local market. We want to arrive at the market “before the crowd”–the sun is just barely up. In the back seat of the Jeep, Darling Girl and I are quite animated as we chat about the fresh produce that is likely available at the market, and share ideas of amazing menus for the upcoming week. The guys in the front seat are unusally quite and stare off into the distance. They need a little more java.

We arrive at the market. Some vendors are just finishing unloading their trucks–they were up at 2 a.m. to cross over the mountain passes to the Seattle market.

Soon, we are dazzled by the offerings at each vendor/grower’s stall that are not seen at the markets near Rose Cottage–freshly pulled ramps, just-off-the -boat salmon and oysters, wooley pig sausages and meats, tender fiddleheads, ground hazelnut flour, wooden crates of the rosy-golden Mt. Rainer cherries and the brillant red bing cherries… and more. 

Market Fiddleheads

Then, at the end of the far aisle is a vendor in a small stall with several wooden boxes of wild morels–just forged from a forest floor in an undisclosed location! In front of each box is a hand-written description about morels. Also gathered, are gorgeous spring-green fiddleheads and lovely sea beans that taste like the ocean.

Market Morels

Be still my heart! My mind starts whirling about a possible dish or two using the morels to celebrate our time spent with the newlyweds. The coral-like morels are a distinctly unique mushroom. The elusive spongy fungi are so earthy looking with their odd textured caps. The aroma is lovely and their flavor is quite delicate, inspite of the funny appearance of the fungi. The biggest benefit of morels are the nutritional value–reportedly high in fiber, minerals, vitamins and anti-oxidants, and are low calorie, too.

Market morels close

I sort through the cavernous morels and place them in a brown paper lunch bag–weighing the bag periodically to monitor how much the little gems are costing. Joining in the search of the perfectly-sized fungi is another morel fancier. We start chatting as we sort through the wooden boxes. I learn that Ty and his wife, Gail, are quite the connaisseurs of these earthly delights. Recipes are soon swapped as are email addresses with the promise to send additional mouth-watering favorites.

pike place market

Next stop–fresh, whole salmon from the legendary Pike Place Market. We are looking for the fabulous short-seasoned Copper River Salmon. In our quest, we frequently duck to avoid the flying fish tossed by the fishmongers wearing bright orange hip waders.

market salmon

The final stop  is for a lovely market bouquet. The fresh-cut flowers are absolutely gorgeous at Pike Place Market. Who can resist a bouquet or two for the dinner table?

Market Rebekah and Peony Bouquet

 

market sweet peas

a feast fit for queens and kings 

Once back at the 1920’s bungalow, we gather fresh garlic, shallots and herbs from my Darling Girl’s garden in preparation for the celebration dinner. Amazingly, the rosemary is cut (nearly chopped!) from a rosemary bush that is over eight feet tall and nearly as wide! We will be using the rosemary with the grilled Copper River salmon. The pungent rosemary fragrance fills the kitchen, and lingers on our fingers as we mince, chop and dice garlic, shallots, Italian parsley and rosemary.

Fresh Rosemary

 

Just before we start to make the stuffing for the salmon, we trim ends of morel stalks. Wash them carefully to remove any debris from the forest floor or any little critters hidding out in the morel caverns. Then, the morels are dried.

Market morels. garlic. bread

The morels are sauteed in extra virgin Italian olive oil. The amazing fragrance fills the kitchen. Then, we add minced shallots and saute a little longer. And finally, the minced fresh garlic and is sauteed for 30 seconds. Generous handfuls of Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely minced herbs, sea salt and freshly cracked pepper are tossed with the sauteed mixture. The salmon is stuffed with the mushroom, shallot, garlic, herb and cheese mixture. Sliced lemons and oranges are placed on top of the salmon. Then,  it is drizzled in unsalted butter and wrapped tightly in foil. It is ready to be grilled.

market fresh salmon ready to grill

The aromas from the grill tease us for45 minutes. We are so eager for our celebration dinner with the darling newlyweds. We soon feel like kings and queens, and are so thankful for the generous gifts from the earth and the sea!

Market salmon off the grill

What are your favorite outdoor farmer’s markets this year? How do you prepare your morels or other market finds?

You may want to stroll over to The Southern Daydreamer for more Outdoor Wednesday posts.

Enjoying the simple pleasures of the gifts of the garden and awakening all the senses is one of my favorite ways to help create a beautiful life. What are yours? For more about creating a beautiful life, visit Melissa at The Inspired Room.

 

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Dreaming in a Kitchen Garden

One of the most delightful things about a garden

is the anticipation it provides.

                                                                                                                                                                                                             ~W.E. Johns

the early bird gets the worm

Bob the Rooster starts his wake-up call about 4 a.m. at Rose Cottage.  Usually, it is fairly easy to think about an early start to the day when the morning is clear and fresh, the sky is starting to brighten with the first hints of sun and the song birds are warming up their voices for the “Sunrise Chorus.”

Miss Kim Lilac looking west toward the teak swing

This morning, it is different. It’s about 40 degrees with a high probability the mercury won’t budge much, and the needed rain is expected about 8 a.m. Knowing there is a lot to accomplish, I decide to get up when Bob the Rooster sounds the alarm… in hopes of staying ahead of the rainfall.

In spite of weather predictions, my walk up the hill to the kitchen garden is full of energy and enthusiasm. Jenny Wren twitters away that I am disrupting her sleep as I bring the hoe, rake, cultivator, spade and pruners into the garden.  It’s just not spring and summer without several families of wrens in the birdhouses. Jenny Wren intermittantly peeks out of the old gnarly gourd birdhouse hanging from one of the rustic cedar arbors between the 4 x 8 raised beds. She scolds me for nearly an hour, and finally gives up and goes back to her cozy little nest…leaving me to my early morning folly and dreams. Ah, the dreams…the hopes…the optimism…

I bring out a few packets of garden seeds–a source of inspiration, I suppose. Adding compost and other magical organic nutrients to the raised beds, I have visions of exuberant lushness in just another month or so. I frequent sideway glances at the basket filled with some of the magical seeds that will make my garden dreams come true. What are your garden dreams? What do you like to grow in your kitchen or vegetable garden?

Seed Packets 1

first fruits

The rhubarb plants (Canada Red and Victoria) are exceptionally lush this year–inspite of the the near-record drought conditions in May. The leaves are supersized–as if on steriods over the winter months. Most are over three feet long, and as much again as wide. I notice a lot of pollen from the white pines on the rhubarb leaves. The rains later this morning will wash all the pollen off. The rhubarb stalks are red and seem quite tender–perfect for a rhubarb dessert. The plants have not yet developed a seed head. Although, it can seem as if the seed head can shoot up well-past the plant in just one day. This time of year, I watch for seedheads and remove them until July 4th or a bit longer depending on the growing year.

Wouldn’t some fresh, warm rhubarb crisp be delicious? Or maybe, rhubarb cake or rhubarb sauce? I am reminded to look for the refreshing rhubarb punch recipe received from a dear neighbor almost 30 years ago. What is your favorite rhubarb recipe?

Rhubarb2 

The ever-hardy chives are already showing off their lavender-colored flowerheads. The garlic chives have a pungent fragrance as I brush past them while working around the garden beds. The chive bloosoms, along with minced Italian parsley and green onions wintered over, will make a nice addition to the spring greens salad for supper tonight.

Chives3

and the bells toll

It seems like I have only been in the kitchen garden an hour or so. The distant chimes of the carillon from the Lutheran church just down the hill from Rose Cottage tells a different story–it has been over five hours! Time for a  cup of tea.  Walking back towards our cottage, I notice that more flowers are blooming. One of the favorites–the white bleeding heart–is blooming near one of the bird baths and hostas. They are so beautiful with their nodding blossoms! I am reminded that there are probably 50 or more pink and white bleeding heart on the woodland path to le palais de poulet (Bob’s house) that should be moved. So many things to be thankful for this morning.

White Bleeding Heart and Bird Bath1

White Bleeding Heart 2

The sweetly fragrant white alyssums are quite romantic as a border flower, and are filling out beautifully near the bleeding heart and hostas. The alyssum will be so fragrant on warm summer evenings.

allysum

After a cup of tea and some dry clothes, it is time for more day dreaming in the kitchen garden while gently working the soil for planting. I decide to walk around the other side of Rose Cottage to see if the pink lilac is finally blooming. Though not as fragrant as the white and lavender lilacs, it has a soft, lovely fragrance all it’s own.

Pink Lilac

There is a welcome surprise in the next garden bed on the way up to the kitchen garden–blooms on the Frau Dagmar Harstropp! While simple and no bother at all–Frau Dagmar Harstropp produces the first roses of the season and signals the beginning of the best season of all–that of roses! The heady rose fragrance of this rugosa fills the June air, and will have almost continuous bloom throughout the summer. The rugosas are perfect landscape roses that can tolerate our severe climate changes. Now, time for more dreaming…

Fra Dagmar Hastrop

 What are your garden dreams this year?

You may want to talk a morning walk over at The Southern Daydreamer for more Outdoor Wednesday posts.

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