A Seashore Memorial Day

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Memorial Day became a Federal Holiday in 1971 and is observed on the last Monday of May.  It originated as Decoration Day after the American Civil War in 1868 to honor all the Americans who died in that conflict.  Since WW I, it now honors all Americans who died in all wars.  Many towns celebrate with parades and memorial ceremonies.  Many families visit graves to lay wreaths on their loved ones’ graves.  It is unofficially the start to summer and celebrated with BBQs and get togethers.  On a recent vacation to the New Jersey shore, towns  were proudly displaying their patriotism in red, white and blue.  From quaint Victorians in Cape May to grand hotels like Congress Hall, from hometown fire halls to front porches and private gardens everywhere, patriotism was on full glorious display.  Wherever you are celebrating the holiday, honor the brave men and women who have served and paid the ultimate price to fight for our country.

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Bucks County Designer House and Garden Tour

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Long before ‘Fixer Upper’ shows brought design ideas into our home, designer showhouses were providing inspiration and making us dream. The 41st Bucks County Designer House and Garden’s team of talented designers has transformed the Foxwood Manor house into a showhouse that dazzles and inspires at every turn.  Situated on an expansive property in Jamison, PA, in beautiful Bucks County,  the showhouse is open to visitors until May 29th.  Along with the spectacular home and outdoor spaces, there are six delightful boutiques in the charming carriage houses providing quality and unique shopping. Much of the house’s furniture and art is for sale too!  A café offers tasty lunches.  All proceeds benefit Dowylestown Health.  The showhouse is organized by The Village Improvement Association of Doylestown and the show is nothing short of spectacular this year.  I have been to my fair share of showhouses and this one delivers major inspiration inside and out!

Please join me for a tour through this year’s 41st Bucks County Designer House and Garden and be wowed.  This is a post bursting with eye candy photography that I hope will energize your own decor.

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Roasted Cauliflower-Pancetta Brunch Hash

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Move over traditional brunch.  This cauliflower-pancetta brunch casserole is make ahead, full of flavor and texture and lends itself to substitution and experimentation so it can be tweaked seasonally and to personal tastes.  Essentially, a whole head of cauliflower is oven roasted with red onion and diced pancetta for a half hour.   The cauliflower provides tons of fiber and stands in for more traditional potatoes in this hash-like dish. Totally gluten and carb free, it will appeal to many diets.  The fun starts when it comes out of the oven! Top it with fresh tomatoes, feta, herbs and an egg, cooked to measure for each person.  The pancetta adds a salty crunch to the mild cauliflower while the sweet red onion caramelizes nicely and infuses the dish with great flavor.  Adding fresh tomatoes brightens the dish and gives it some color and juicyness.  Want to keep it vegetarian?  Omit the pancetta. This was so tasty on a lazy We morning. I hope you enjoy it too!

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Mosquito-Proofing Your Garden

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My kids like to tease me about talking “to random people about random things”.  Guilty as charged! In my defense, I encounter interesting people and learn so much from these friendly encounters.  Such was the case at my local Home Depot store this week.  I overheard a customer asking about lemon balm and be told there was none.  Lemon balm grows like a weed in my garden, the prolific offspring of a single clipping gifted to me years ago.  I thought I should warn this person about the invasive nature of this herb, hence the random engaging of this young man in conversation!  He explained to me that with the zika virus epidemic, he was working on a mosquito repelling garden for his pregnant wife and lemon balm was one of the plants recommended for warding off mosquitos.  No better reason to create a mosquito repelling garden!  I offered some of the lemon balm from my garden and we  went off on another tangent on how it is also a great culinary herb (recipe here).  This random conversation led me to ask myself “How hard would it be for the average home gardener to create a mosquito-repelling garden?” I am an organic gardener who does not use chemicals so I focused on a natural approach.  I searched the web for many ideas and set off to create a mosquito proof garden myself in less than a day.

Mosquito-Proofing Your Garden:

1- The single most important consideration in mosquito-proofing your outdoor space is to prevent mosquitos from laying eggs in the first place or having their larvae mature into adults.  Eliminate all potential breeding grounds:  remove any containers that hold water or turn them upside down when not in use.  image Continue reading

Canyon Ranch Spa Orange-Pecan Cookies-GF with Citrus-Mint Salad

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Our beloved long time sitter, Lee Anne, brought a batch of these memorable cookies to us years ago.  They are completely gluten free and made with 5 simple ingredients:  chopped pecans, bold orange flavor coming from zest and orange extract, very little sugar and one egg white to bind the batter together. It is a healthy cookie that satisfies a sweet tooth without guilt.

Even though our children are long past the years of needing a sitter, Lee Anne has been on my mind as she has become a mother herself this year. On her first Mother’s Day, she paid me the biggest compliment:  that she had learned so much about raising children from my lessons and my kids.  She even made one of my cakes to celebrate with her mom.   Just in 6th grade when she came into our family, Lee Anne handled 3 rambunctious boys close in age like a pro with patience and love,  for 10 years.  She was my salvation from insanity more than once!  The very embodiment of “It takes a village”. My children’s second mother.    It has been so wonderful to see her become an accomplished professional woman and blossom as a mother herself. Which brings me back to these cookies.  I paired them with a bright citrus salad of sliced oranges with a dusting of mint sugar straight from the garden.   Such a fresh and easy dessert everyone loved.  This post is for you, Lee Anne, with much gratitude and love.   I can’t imagine motherhood will throw you any curveballs you can’t handle!

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Shredded Carrot Salad with Lemon and Spicy Mustard

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I have been experimenting with making spiralized salads with more or less success.  Zucchini ribbons are easy to make, carrot ribbons, not so much.  I bought one of those simple devices readily available and they don’t work so well with harder vegetables, hence this salad is called a “shredded carrot” salad. It had ambitions of becoming a spiralized salad, inspired from the popular Skinny Taste blog. I wanted to share my version of the salad as it punches a lot of flavor and will hold up well as make-ahead addition to your warm weather cook outs. I have never been a huge fan of shredded carrot salads as they often are too sweet.  Adding lemon juice and spicy mustard to carrots gives them attitute and transforms them in a most unexpected way. An added bonus is how simple this is to throw together.  Watch this salad vanish!

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