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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

a go-to fall recipe

It is a beautiful chilly (56 degrees), overcast fall day here at the farmhouse!  As you can see from the photo I took this morning from the front porch everything is still very green and the leave are juuuust starting to turn color.  

There are so many amazing foodie blogs and sites with great recipes that I only rarely post my go-to recipes for you.  When I do, please know that these are my ride or die/delicious/can't live without/simple recipes that I've been making forever!  In fact, I've been making this pot roast recipe for 13 years!  I found it on a cooking site years ago and it has never disappointed!  I am a make-it-from-scratch kind of cook, but this recipe (with it's processed soups... oh the horrors :O) still has me coming back over and over each season! :)

This was a casual Sunday night dinner with a friend joining us, so we were eating in the kitchen with the fireplace lit.  White mini-pumpkins grown and sold at a local farm stand line the kitchen mantel. 
Table set with
antique hotel silver forks/ antique sterling and mother-of-pearl knives/ napkins are actually dishtowels from Ikea in my favorite split-pea green/ wicker chargers from Walmart years ago/ green dinner plates from Crate and Barrel years ago/ antique wood column base as candle holder/ dried mung beans, again in my favorite split-pea green, hold the candle,  large unscented candle from Pier 1/ dirty martini from Stoli and my favorite, and only brand I like of jalapeno stuffed olives, Pearls ;)

I served the pot roast with mashed red potatoes (actually I whip the potatoes using my Kitchen Aid hand mixer) with gravy, and roasted carrots with fresh lemon-thyme from the cutting garden.

This simple recipe can be made either in a slow cooker or the oven- your choice.  I will list cooking times for both.   I generally make it in the oven.  "Fair Warning":) .... either way you decide to cook it the smell is intoxicating and will have you salivating the whole time.  It will seriously make you crazy and hungry all day!! :)  When done, the meat just falls apart and the gravy that the meat makes is fabulous!
Here's the recipe: 

for the love of a house fabulous POT ROAST:

Place a 3 - 4 pound Beef Round Eye Roast or boneless Chuck Roast or Beef Bottom Round Roast (I use the Beef Round Eye Roast which I find at Costco) in a slow cooker or dutch oven.

Add a can of undiluted Campbells Cream of Chicken with Herbs (yes, chicken ;) over the top of the roast and spread it over the top and sides.  

Empty one package of Lipton Onion Soup Mix over the cream soup but do not mix.  
Drizzle 3/4 cup of white wine (you can use red) down the sides of the slow cooker pot or 
That's it!  You don't add any additional water.  

In slow cooker-  cook on LOW for 9 -10 hours
In oven-  cook at 275 degrees for 5 hours or
325 for 4 hours

-You can also add 2 quartered red onions at the start and 5 large-sliced carrots 1-1/2 hour into cooking.  
-If you can't find the Cream of Chicken with Herbs, you can substitute the regular Cream of Chicken.
-You can substitute red wine for the white, or chicken/beef broth.  I have always used red/white wine.

Bon Appetit !

Thursday, September 22, 2016

farewell sweet summer! my favs from summer 2016

It was a busy "house-project" summer around the house!  We got lots done and are still working on a few things which I will share with you next.
I was asked a while back to do a summer favorite post by a reader who liked my winter favorites list.  I love reading "favorite lists" and hope you do too!  Please share your favorites from this summer in the comments :)
Also.... Please note that I have changed my "featured adoptable dog of the week" that I posted this past Monday since one of my readers has sent in an application for little sweet Luther!!!!!  I'm over the moon!!!

This is my late summer mantel and I am going to be sad to change it to fall later today as I have enjoyed it so much.  Vintage coral fans lean against a painting, which leans against the antique French mirror.  Orchid in antique marble urn.  Circa 17th century Italian gilt and gesso candlesticks with a English hallmarked sterling and crystal match strike.

I am loving this chemical free Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby SPF 60 (sample from my dermatologist.)  For my very young readers...  do not listen to the articles that tell you you only need to wear a 30 SPF... you need a 50/plus SPF on a daily basis.  AND... you will want a chemical-free sunscreen for your face.  You can thank me in 20+ years ;)  I say this with first-hand knowledge as I grew up in Texas wearing baby oil (NO SPF) and laying in the sun as early as January.   I am paying for it now.  Do as I say, not as I did ;) !   I've have had 2 V-Beam lasers this summer (I am extremely pleased with the results, btw)  to erase redness from sun damage on my cheeks (telangiectasias.)  With all the media out there on the subject we now know better!  Wear your sun screen every single day!!  And don't neglect your NECK!!!:)  Just sayin'
You really shouldn't put anything on your face that has a fragrance since what you put on your skin is absorbed into your skin.  Why cosmetics companies insist on putting fragrances in beauty products and makeup is beyond me.  Most baby sunscreen products come fragrance-free and have the same ingredients of adult products, so I find them a really good alternative.

While not chemical-free I am still very happy with the Banana Boats KIDS spray-on sunscreen for the body.  Neither Dan nor I like perfumes, and even though a product might say it is "unscented" it often can have a smell.  I find this product to be truly unscented.  I keep it in the basket at the front door, so we can apply it outside as we are going to work in the yard or go for a walk with the girls.
And don't forget SPF for your lips, we us this HERE

I've loved this clam shell orb that I got at HomeGoods at the beginning of summer.

I have been loving Dr. Teal's Body Wash in Lavender and the Dr. Teal's Body Oil.  I use the Body Wash instead of soap in the shower then lightly dry off and apply the oil before going to bed.

 My go-to pedicure color for most of the summer was Essie's Turquoise and Caicos!  My manicure color was O.P.I. Cajun Shrimp, which unfortunately looks to be discontinued.

This summer I have found the magical oil that is Castor oil!   HERE  When I first saw it around the beauty blogosphere I thought... "The stuff that that industries use on machines???"  Well, turns out castor is a natural ingredient from the castor bean and has many natural beauty benefits.  Google it for yourself, but I have had really good results for eyebrow hair growth (eyebrows diminishes with age.)  It is very thick and the smell is similar to peanut/sesame seed oil (both which I personally like) but if you don't (or are allergic to nuts)  it might not be a good product for you.  I also use it on my cuticles every night right before going to bed.

Straw-Ella!  After rolling in our dry grass from months of hot temperatures with little rain!

This is my summer go-to bracelet (actually all-year bracelet)  from Love, Nina Jane -  freshwater pearls and antique medals strung on leather.   I've had my bracelet for three years, or longer, and loved it so much I "wore it to pieces" as Jane of Love, Nina Jane said when I wrote asking if they could restring it!  It is so easy to wear in the summer as it is light and not bulky, but so feminine and pretty.  Mine is the triple wrap bracelet HERE (which you can also wear as a necklace) in the brown leather.   I'll wear the bracelet alone or group with other bracelets.
photo Love, Nina Jane

It also comes in tan leather.

Photo Love, Nina Jane

 I am seriously coveting this 5 wrap bracelet in the tan leather
 photo Love, Nina Jane

I have loved this florist hydrangea that was a gift from Amy and her family who adopted Nanny from the Lytle Animal Control HERE!  It has bloomed ALL summer while changing varying gorgeous colors and has been wonderful on the front porch.  I would never have thought that a florist hydrangea would last all summer, let alone outside!  Next year I am buying one early spring!  I have enjoyed it so much- thank you Amy!   kisses to Nanny!

Amy just sent me this adorable photo of adopted Nanny and her son!  Nanny won the puppy-lottery for sure!!

I love the Ikea battery operated tea lights! HERE  Be sure to buy extra batteries HERE !  Even after a rainstorm and soaking, for hours, in water they still work!  Unlike other battery operated tea lights I have seen these have a very realistic glow.  They also come in candlesticks which I use in the three cow stanchion windows in the barn mud room at Christmas.

I love the Pocket hose HERE!!   I also have several in black with brass connections HERE.  They expand when you turn on the water and then deflate when the water is turned off.  I like how you can tuck them out of view and don't have a huge hose reel to look at.  One key to a longer life for the hose is to always turn the water off when you are not using it.  I have 5 of these at different spigots round the house.

Kimberly Queen ferns take full sun!  I have used them for the last several years and absolutely love them!  They are annuals for me, but grow in really quickly during our spring and summer months.

I love the Royale Peachy Keen verbena  HERE   (This is for you Allison! xxo)   I have used it for several years now and besides LOVING the color (coral is my "happy" color :) I love how it blooms literally all season long!

I love using herbs as container plants.  We will sit in the chairs in the evening and casually run a hand over the rosemary and the scent fills the air!  It is so wonderful and simple!

We are still loving the Balsam Hills lighted boxwood that I first showed you HERE.  What I especially love is that it has a 6-hour timer.  You turn it on one night and then every night after that it comes on automatically for 6 hours at that same time, and then turns itself off.  It is so delightful to walk outside and have it lit without having to turn it on.

Love this battery powered leaf blower to blow off debris on the porches and the terrace.  It has just enough power to get rid of leaves and debris without moving the pea gravel or crushed stone. Word to the wise... be sure to save the box and receipt as these blowers have a tendency to not be long lived and you might need to replace it within one season.

The cutting garden.  As you can see there is still not a white picket fence around the garden.  Since we don't really need one for protection from animals eating the produce we have decided to simply set the garden gate as a "folly gate" using granite posts for support (you can see one laying in front of the gate.)  Hopefully that will get done this fall, but since this has been a 3-year in-the-works project I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you!!!:)
Note the tall cherry tomato plant in the back left corner.  I did not plant that this year!  It came back on it's own which totally shocked and surprised me in our 5a USDA garden zone!

The antique iron urn at the front door is planted with 4 small white on white plants that all work together!  I didn't plan to have 4 containers in the urn, but it just sort of turned out that way and it has worked well and I enjoyed the different foliage textures and tones of green and white.

Southern Luzianne ice tea with mint from the garden!
If I can find Luzianne in New Hampshire I'm thinking you can find it too!  I buy the decaf so I can drink it throughout the day.
I'm sure you all know this, but just in case a novice gardener is reading... ALWAYS plant mint in a pot... not in the ground as it will take over and become a BIG nuisance in your garden/lawn.

And since we are on the subject of drinks;)....  If you like margaritas or tequila straight, you must try Anejo tequila!!!  Anejo tequila is "aged" tequila and is mild and sublime and out-of-this-world wonderful!  Our favorite, for flavor and value, is the Costco Kirkland Tequila which we buy by the case ;) in Massachusetts as New Hampshire's Costco can not sell hard liquor!  Lucky for me there just happens to be a Costco right next door to the Ikea in Massachusetts!!!  Win/Win!
To make our margaritas I use Costco's Margarita Classic Lime Margarita mix which uses cane sugar.  I mix 3 parts lime mix to one part Anejo tequila and one-half part either Cointreau (me) or Grand Marnier (Dan.)  I often will use 1 part Dole Orange Peach Mango Juice and 2 parts lime mix, Dan prefers the straight lime mix.  If I rim the margaritas (I don't always)  I dip my favorite Marta glasses (these are perfect for so many things!) from CB2 HERE in the lime mix then in a mixture of kosher salt and sugar.  If I really want to kick it up a notch I will add a pinch of cayenne pepper into that mix!  Cheers!

I adore the morning glory"flying saucers" on the iron arbor in the courtyard (funny story of the arbor HERE).  My little vines starts that I purchased from a favorite nursery, Walker Farm in Vermont are planted like they are made with pure gold.  The reason is.....

 ... this nasty little hugely destructive varmint called a "vole," (not to be confused with other nasty varmints called "moles.)
I am ready to go all Caddy Shack on them HERE.
Last summer I had two white sweet autumn Clematis planted at the base of each pillar that were growing beautifully only to one day go outside and see every stem coming up out of the ground snipped- it literally looked like someone took clippers to them. I was sooooo mad :(   It took a while to figure out what had happened and what had done the damage.  After reading about the varmits I placed a cone shaped screen (it was actually a wire container that I cut the bottom out of) around the base.  The vine was growing back nicely and then it shriveled up and died.  The damn voles had dug underground and ate the entire root.  UGHHHHHHH.

So this year I bought small scale wire and Dan made two enclosed (sides and bottom) wire planters (planter on the far right) to plant the vines.  Wire planter in the middle of the photo is what it looks like buried, and the wire screen on the far left (open on top and bottom) is the one I place above ground to keep the voles out.  I didn't want to spend another $40 on the clematis, so I tested the wire planters with the morning glories as they were much cheaper since they are annuals and not perennials.  I've liked them so much I will probably do the morning glories again next year!

The morning glories encased in their wire planters.

The system has kept the varmints out, thankfully.  But they have done extensive damage to other beds and to the grass lawn all around the house.  After more research here is what happened and why we have a vole problem.  A couple of years ago Dan decided (after doing many test holes looking for grub worms) to not continue putting grub control out with his fertilizer thinking we didn't have any grub worms.  Wrong.  The next year is when our vole problem started in the winter.  The voles ate the bark off of newly planted trees and made a virtual road map of tunnels under beds and lawn eating and destroying countless plants.
Come to find out... voles love grub worms.  Grub worms turn into a pupa and emerge from the soil as adult Japanese Beetles.  If you fight Japanese beetles (which I did for the first time this summer)  then you have grubs, and if you have grubs you could get voles (or moles) which you do NOT want.  Let's just say we are back to using grub control;)
But, since that will take a while to kill the grub population we have been trying EVERYTHING to eliminate the voles, and nothing works.  I recently bought Organic PlantSkydd  repellant HERE, but havne't put it down yet.  The reviews are very promising however, so fingers crossed.  It also works for deer, rabbit and elk, so if you have any of those issues you might want to try it too.
If you've used PlantSkydd or have any "proven" vole eradication methods please, please leave me a comment before I go all Caddy Shack!!!;)


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