This is a wonderfully easy and yummy meal to make for dinner inspired by a soup recipe that I have altered somewhat to turn into a casserole. It uses up left-over cooked chicken and requires few ingredients. Reduce wet ingredients for a "dryer" pasta meal or increase for a "soupy" casserole. Adjust cooking time accordingly. It's all up to you!
When I made this meal ... I realized I didn't have any carrots. Then I remembered that I still had some out on the front brick patio (mid-January!) in a suspended iron planter. I had grown some in pots, elevated, away from the slugs which had ravaged our garden this year. Anyway - they were just enough to complete this meal. These winter carrots were lovely, fragrant, crisp and sweet.
You can always scrape a meal together somehow!
Bibliography: Fix It Fast Cookbook, Better Homes and Gardens, 1979
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2021
Though we are into Fall now; the roses are still blooming here in the Grove, so I thought I would try my hand at some cheap and cheerful, homemade skin care. Here is my recipe for "Quick and Easy Rose Petal & Witch Hazel Toner":
You will need:
2 handfuls of fresh rose petals
1 covered dish
metal tea strainer and funnel
2 same size containers
1 dark glass bottle
Step 3. Measure out an equal amount of pure witch hazel to your rosewater. Pour both the witch hazel and rosewater together into a dark glass bottle, cap tightly and shake gently or rotate bottle to mix. Store in a dark, cool cupboard. Apply to skin with a cotton ball.
Rosewater is anti-inflammatory and has anti-bacterial qualities and so soothes irritated or acne-prone skin. As a natural astringent; it tones skins and tightens pores as well as reducing the appearance of wrinkles. It is also used to hydrate, revitalize and moisture all skin types as it balances the serum of the skin. Witch hazel has similar benefits as it pertains to toning, tightening and cleansing the skin.
And since the beautiful Queen Cleopatra is said to have washed her face in rosewater and indulged in milk baths heavily laced with rose petals; as part of her beauty regime ... I think that is good enough for me to incorporate some rosewater into my daily skin care routine!
Bibliography: Magical Powers of Rosewater for Glowing Skin, Read & Digest, 2020
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2020
Summer is flying by and we can already feel Fall in the air!
But last month was hot and dry and my husband decided to take advantage of the weather and finally apply varnish to an old vintage plant stand ... that he had been diligently sanding and preparing for the better part of the year!
By far the largest part of the job was painstakingly removing the white paint from all the little crevices -- and all without damaging the detailed woodwork. Lots of delicate sanding was involved but the Grumpy Old Gnome in the Grove stuck with the task.
Here's the backstory ...
While I liked the "shabby chic" look of the planter before (and being able to use it outside without guilt) - I think it looks just beautiful as a restored piece and will make a wonderful addition to our front living room!
The next task is to build, or have built, a glass atrium for the top ... so that maybe we can transplant many of our little succulents into it. I know it would be perfect for growing some kitchen herbs too ... but we have far too many of those in the Grove already!!
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2019
Summer is almost over. Did I just say that? No worries - capture the essence and feeling of summer by making rose petal jam!
This jam is really easy to make. I am continually astounded by how much our small city garden gives in the Grove. Our roses have been really abundant this year and I discovered that there are many recipes with which you can use or include rose petals such as: rose petal jam or jelly, garnishments for salads, rose vinegar dressing and more!
Collect rose petals and make some jam now with this simple recipe!
You will need:
- equal parts rose petals and berry sugar
- juice of one lemon
- canning jars
... and a little pectin (if required)
Step 1: Collect the rose petals
Pick petals from your loveliest roses and choose only those free from blemish. For this recipe, I used approximately 250g / 8 ounces of petals.
Step 2: Wash rose petals, dust with sugar and chill
Rinse the rose petals with cool water, discarding any with blemish. Drain well and crush lightly in your hands with a bit of berry sugar, making sure to bruise each petal slightly. Place in bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight.
Step 3: Making the jam
Pour 1/2 litre of water into a saucepan, together with 250 g berry sugar and the juice of one lemon. Bring to a boil, stirring all the time. Add the crushed rose petals, reduce heat, and continue at medium heat, stirring constantly until jam consistency and setting point is reached. Add 1/2 package of powdered pectin if necessary.
Step 4: Preparing the jam for storage
Properly sterilize your canning equipment. I usually achieve this by boiling jars, rims, seals and any utensils I will be using. Spoon the jam into jars and seal tightly. Store as appropriate for the canning method you use. Enjoy with toast, croissants or scones on a rainy day when you are dreaming of summer ...
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2018
May is such a magical month that the appearance of fairies in your garden should come as no surprise! Even the staunchest disbeliever must do a double take when ... apple, pear or cherry blossoms float and swirl though the air, fresh new leaves rustle in the wind or the sun shimmers and gleams in nooks and crannies in the garden. All these subtle happenings can be evidence of fairy activity ...
Here are 3 simple ways to attract fairies to your garden:
This is a biggie because fairies are like songbirds. They love trees as this gives them little branches to cling to, or big branches for swinging and leaves to hide behind. Not to mention that their older cousins, the Dryads, will often tell them stories at night about ancient times and places. Plant lots of perennial flowers that will magically sprout up in the Spring, year after year, without any extra work on your part - bluebells, tulips, daffodils, forget-me-nots, Jack Frost, Lily-of-the-Valley, foxgloves - your garden will be alive with colour and sweet scents that attract the birds, bees, butterflies ... and fairies!
And for some fun, blow some bubbles from a bubble wand! There is something magical about bubbles floating gently on the breeze ... and the fairies will be sure to notice.
Accept the magical world around you and welcome it into your garden. It doesn't matter how big or small it is. Whether you are charmed with a "back 40", a fantastically witch-y cottage garden, a "postage stamp" city plot or even an apartment balcony; you can always add in a little bit of nature - usually more than you think once you get started! Prepare to be amazed at how special life becomes when your home becomes a safe haven for fairies to congregate and play.
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2018 / edited 2020
The beginning of May marks the beginning of Summer in old English tradition. The year was divided into two halves -- with Summer beginning on May 1st and Winter beginning on October 31st. Of course, the weather doesn't always conform to these dates!
This year, however, the Grove has seen a lovely hot week of sunshine - after the usual amount of copious April showers of rain and hail. Hopefully, it will continue for a wonderful and warm May Day on May 1st.
The garden is certainly responding to the heat and all sorts of plants are bursting forth with leaves and blossoms. Here are just a few that my camera caught today!
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2018
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2018 / edited 2019 & 2020
The fairies at Meadow Sweet Grove just love fruitcake ...
If you research fruit cake recipes, you will find literally dozens and dozens of versions.
Here's one that I used for the single-layer cake featured here, inspired by a recipe in
"The Victorian Kitchen Book of Cakes and Cookies", but altered to suit our taste.
Absolutely essential extras:
Brandy, cheesecloth, tinfoil and a sealed container.
Pour brandy into a small mixing bowl. Soak cheesecloth until saturated. Lift cheesecloth and gently wrap around cake, stretching to fit and turning to cover well. When completely covered, wrap in tin foil and seal in container. Repeat process, once a week, for up to 6 weeks.
We are fortunate enough to have a holly tree living with us in the Grove and he kindly provided a sprig for the Christmas Fruit Cake. The sprig of holly is non-essential but incredibly traditional and gives a wonderfully earthy feel; so nice if you can get your hands on a piece to top your cake!
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2017/edited 2019 & 2020
The Grove is certainly having its share of blustery days and lots of rain. So much wind that everything - hummingbird feeders, bead curtains, candle holders and even wind chimes have had to be taken down - or be blown down! So much rain that you can hear it literally pounding on the roof!
But we did have warning - a couple of beautiful sunny days absolutely full of the sounds and sight of crows, hummingbirds, chickadees, juncos, bushtits, flickers, blue jays and robins, robins, robins ... all looking for food. Now that the wind and rain is here, only the crows have remained steady visitors - hunched on the telephone wires, awaiting a hand-out and then back off to relative dry in the cedar trees.
The combination of bright sun and swaying branches create dancing shadows everywhere. The rustling of leaves in the wind produces a magical song. Clouds move quickly and cause dramatic changes of sudden dark and then sudden light. And the rain pounds relentlessly on the poor plants. And amazingly, the ethereal and fleeting appearance of a gorgeous rainbow! Well, with all this funky weather going on, coupled with cold mornings, there can be no doubt that Fall has a firm foothold and winter is definitely on the way.
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2017 Pounding rain! Make sure to turn your sound up!
This week we took a break from restoring our vintage dollie because the apples were in desperate need of rescuing. It's been a hard year for our apple trees. Too much heat and too many bugs! Many of the apples fell off during the summer, others were cored through by bugs, and still others rotted right on the branches! But, all said and done, we were amazed to get quite a few pecks of perfect "eaters", at least a bushel full of "bakers", a number left behind on the tree for hopeful ripening and still many more left over for cider! Ah, the cider....
There's going to be cider?? Well, our trees kinda look like this so .... No, don't cry! We'll try!
Meadow Sweet Groves claims no rights or ownership to the above YouTube videos.
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2017
separate realm, don't worry about these little things and intuitively know with whom they are sharing their garden space - so we have let the folk names prevail in the Grove.
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2017 (gif courtesy of animatedimages.org)
Meadow Sweet Grove has experienced a record downfall of rain this Spring. Most of the fairies are probably sitting by their little stoves and looking out longingly at their gardens. When they do go out, I imagine they dart for cover, hiding under handy toadstools along the way. Still, May is the perfect month to search for fairies that might be starting to play in the garden after those long winter months.
An absolute abundance of froggies! Well, it has been raining an awful lot ...
And even Robin Goodfellow, or Puck - as some know him - was found amongst the leaves ...
Finally, a gnome atop his new wishing well home (dry as a bone) and a fairy, trapped under ice all winter, returned to the Grove.
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2017
April showers did indeed bring May flowers to the Grove. Not quite as stunning as last year's spring but as promised by Margaret Elizabeth Sangster, "Never yet was a springtime, when the buds forgot to bloom."
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2017 / edited 2021
(Oct 31/Nov 1)
the old Celtic end of
summertime and harvest
~ SHOP ~
Meadow Sweet Grove