Michele and 2022 garlic harvest

Un-Smoky Skies and Spätzle

Un-Smoky Skies and Spätzle

Chocolate Box Cottage Diary, Volume 2

Week 29: July 23, 2022

We are marveling over the blueness of our un-smoky skies! Sam and I remind each other almost daily how nice it is to not have smoke from wildfires polluting our air! How nice it is to 😇 breathe clean mountain air in the summer! To see ✨stars at night and the moon a 🌕 pearl instead of a 🎃 pumpkin.

Un-smoky skies
Summer heat has bleached the blue out of the sky, but at least there is no smoke.

Sam’s projects

Sam traded in his plans to go fishing for a day spent replacing the radiator in his new-to-us (bought in December) truck. Very grateful he caught it before it overheated and blew a head gasket or ruined the motor. Later he was spotted (through a screen) surreptitiously washing my car.

Garden and food

The garden inspires our meals this time of year and I am conscious of a sharp thrill of sufficiency when I go with my basket to pick whatever is ripe. Zucchini daily, raspberries sometimes!

Harvests this week included zucchini, yellow crookneck squash, eggs, Meyer lemons, Zloty Lan chamomile, Persian basil, and garlic.

One special meal we ravenously enjoyed was a veggie-forward version of Spätzle (also spelled spaetzle), and Cream and Lettuce Salad. I find myself especially grateful for my heritage of thrift, received from my German-from-Russia (Ukraine) mom and Norwegian dad. Though they were not first generation immigrants, they held onto old ways of making do, nowadays known as sustainability. As an added bonus, I can make 49 different meals from flour, potatoes, cabbage, onions, and milk. 😌

☀️Hotter weather has arrived and we 🙏🏻 prayerfully hope no intentional fires will be set. The gardens are at least partially mulched, 🐥chicks and 🐰bunnies are shaded and equipped with cooling devices, the sheep’s water tank is on a drip.

Zucchini Moons are our quintessential start-of-zucchini-season dish. Egg battered and fried in butter, Zucchini Moons are delicately delicious and satisfying.

spraying Meyer lemon tree with All Purpose Cleaning Spray

The sight of scale insects on my cherished Meyer lemon tree galvanized me into action. With persistence and know-how it is possible to squelch these parasitic insects. I have already wiped each branch and leaf down with a cotton round soaked in witch hazel (rubbing alcohol works, too). Next: spray thoroughly with my homemade All-Purpose Disinfectant Cleaning Spray, wait an hour, then rinse with a hose. Tree must be positioned in the shade. Direct sunlight can damage vulnerable leaves.

Family goings on

We were blessed with a visit from ♥️Cameo this week. In 3 days we squeezed in a visit with grandparents, dinner out, a girls’ movie night, lake day with paddle boards, and grasshopper pie. So much fun spending time with adult kids.

Cameo's July visit

New video

Let’s solve those fruit leather problems so that your fruit leather turns out gorgeously leathery and delicious every time.

A favorite kitchen tip

Applying “meal prepping” principles and strategy to bread means mixing up an extra large batch of bread dough by hand or using my Ankarsrum Assistent mixer and freezing it in loaf-size disks. As needed, thaw one piece of dough and bake a loaf of bread.

In the summer I do my best to avoid using the oven, but we need bread in the house, so if I am going to bake I try to make my oven multi-task. Here I am baking a small pumpkin saved over from the 2021 harvest in a pie dish along with a loaf of whole wheat bread.

Thrifty swaps

homemade maple vanilla syrup

Four pints of homemade Maple Vanilla Syrup added to the pantry. It’s not “real” maple syrup, but is made of simple ingredients and saves us quite a bit of money with recent price increases.

In need of a new curling wand, I checked the stores and was shocked with the price! This particular wand is regularly priced $55. I paid $8.50 at Goodwill and it still felt like too much, for a used item. 

Lazy Days of Summer Cookbook

Long before the Pioneer Woman, there was Jane Watson Hopping, the Pioneer Lady. My all-time FAVORITE cookbook author, Jane retired to southern Oregon and I had the pleasure of meeting her in high school! The subtitle reads “A Celebration of Summer’s Bounty” and that is exactly what it is! Recipes use fresh produce from your garden or local farmstand; lots of simple meals perfect for hot weather, delicious fruit-centered desserts, and scrumptious baked goods. As with Jane’s other books, you will find quaint poetry and stories that will bring a smile to your lips.

Her books are out of print, but I would like to invite you to search for it at my favorite online seller of used books. I am sharing my ShareBookLove link with you. (If you make a qualifying purchase, we can each earn a free book!)

🙌🏻 Wishing you a wonderful week, but also knowing some of you dear ones are struggling with anxiety and fear, serious health diagnoses, family problems, and financial difficulty. Please know you can message me anytime for prayer.





  • Great post.. love the idea of the All-Purpose Disinfectant Cleaner for scale. I despise scale, it is so hard to get rid of. Have you had any ill effects on your lemon tree using the cleaner? I am curious if the borax and vinegar can harm the tree or soil in any way. So eager to have this on hand for the winter. Thank you for another round of great ideas and beautiful pictures.

    • Scale is the worst. It is one of the hardest pests to eliminate and takes vigilance long-term to make sure it’s really gone. I have used my AP Cleaner as an insect spray for scale, ants, and aphids for many years. Make sure the plant is not in direct sun. If it’s a pot this is easy enough to manage, just move it to a shady area. Otherwise, such as with aphids on kale, I tend to treat them toward evening so there is time for the spray to do its work. Then the next morning I rinse it off (speaking of kale). For the lemon tree, I sprayed it on and let it sit for an hour, then rinsed it off with a hose.


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