Golden Days, Alliums, and Quilt Journal
Chocolate Box Cottage Diary, Volume 2
Week 46: November 19, 2022
Golden days are upon us with the burst of glory that is autumn. The snow scrubbed the air and landscape clean and left. Leaves in every golden hue drift from branches against a backdrop of cerulean blue. The contrast is startlingly beautiful, especially for one who professes only mild affection for the season.
It was on one of these glowing days that I planted my Allium giganteum bulbs. I found the bulbs offered for sale at Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company. They were not cheap, but my memories of them are priceless and I splurged and bought a half dozen in memory of my dad and to celebrate reaching 5,000 subscribers on my YouTube Channel: Chocolate Box Cottage. They were Dad’s favorite flower and I planted with high hopes!
In the greenhouse
A vintage A-frame greenhouse sits like a jewel in the center of the gardens at Chocolate Box Cottage after extensive repairs. Our first frost visited November 9. Tender annual vegetables, flowers, and herbs have succumbed to winter, yet the comfrey to the right of the planting bench hangs on.
Open the re-built door with antique hardware and step inside. Breathe in sun-warmed air scented with green plants, mostly citrus, geraniums, eucalyptus, and tender herbs. Outside, the planting bench stands as a sentinel, cleared and at rest.
Maple branches, relieved of their snow burden, bow over cozy pond-side seats. The chairs were picked up road-side for free and we enjoy them 3 seasons out of the year.
Meanwhile, the new batch of laying hens have begun laying – at last!
Country living is definitely not all strawberries and sunshine with cute chickens and “free” eggs. Not when everything under the sun likes to eat chicken. We lost 4 young laying hens last week, one at a time, during the day.
Samuel is fairly sure it is a raccoon who is treating our hen yard like a salad bar; it chooses a fresh “entree” daily.
He set up a live trap apprehend the perpetrator. So far we have caught a kitten, one of our own hens, and a skunk. Let me tell you, it is not fun to release a skunk from a live trap!
Funny, but not fun! (I watched from a safe distance and still picked up skunk odor in my hair and clothes.) Is there anything that smells worse than skunk? I can’t think of it!
The area you see was covered in blackberry bushes and willows until last weekend, when Sam painstakingly cleared it with a chainsaw and weedeater. Saturday morning he rose very early, drank his coffee, and was outside before the chickens were up to reconfigure the fencing for the henyard. In an effort to prevent or at least reduce losses to raccoons and other critters, we decided to reduce the size of the henyard.
As a heavy equipment operator (Sam runs a road grader for the road department), Sam has an eye for slope, grade, and terrain. The fence is now square and solid. The chickens will now be excluded from the family orchard.
My weekly trip to town includes a stunning drive over the river and through the woods – just like the song. A visit to my friend Whitney Hunter’s salon was just what I needed. She is not only a treasured friend, business owner, and hair stylist, Whitney is also a talented cheesemaker.
Whitney and I talk all things gardening / preserving / sourdough baking / fermentation / cheesemaking whenever we visit. Today she brought samples of two new mozzarella cheeses she experimented with: one flavored with home-grown chipotlé peppers, the other with garlic and basil. Both were out-of-this-world!
In the kitchen
Time for an annual batch of Goldenkraut. Golden hued veggies, along with the requisite cabbage of course, ferment together to create a brightly flavored side dish that we enjoy as a condiment year-round.
I know the photos don’t show it, but it was a tiring week. Among the items not captured on film are the flu, a trip to ER, a badly injured kitty and late-night trip to the emergency vet, getting chilled to the bone, aching backs, getting sprayed by a skunk (twice), and not a lot of sleep. I kept meals simple. Two variations of goulash this week, scrambled eggs and toast, roasted vegetables, and comforting soups.
Thankful that Jasper pulled through a serious injury, he has been nicknamed “St. Jasper Goodfellow” and now has a seat at the table.
A well-stocked four corners pantry as my friend Mary at Mary’s Nest talks about kept us fed and softened the harsh edges of injury, illness, disappointment, and inconvenience. It is a huge boon to be able to put healthy meals on the table easily.
I create forms to organize my creativity, my home, my days. I’ve even created my own day planner page. This 2-sided page is a worksheet I developed to plan and execute quilt-making. It includes size, type of batting, source of pattern, and many more details along with space for fabric swatches and a photo of the finished quilt.
The last two Peace roses bloom in water on my nightstand next to art by dear friend Rachel Parks. I carefully used a flour sack towel to dust the Christmas cactus, which is showing tiny buds in time for Christmas.
“The Holiday season is a mad dash that starts well before Thanksgiving and ends sometime after the New Year. While Christmas is a favorite season for so many, we often miss the special moments that should be cherished and then tucked away to remember for years to come.” (Taken from the back cover.)
This short devotional for moms is perfect for the month of December and would make a lovely early Christmas gift! Each day’s reading holds a Bible verse, a thought, a prayer, and a special special page to note “My moments to treasure and cherish.”
The author, who happens to be my friend, also included some wonderful “extras” at a the back: a list of ideas for creating special memories, several favorite recipes, movie suggestions, and more.
I am looking forward to reading It’s a Wrap and experiencing a renewed sense of reverence and wonder this Christmas. Won’t you join me?
Muscovy hen Sadie and her growing ducklings and I wish you farewell!
Happy Thanksgiving week!
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