In love with: Gardening

I have had two hopes/dreams for my life.  One being to own land.  To have property.  To be able to look outside my window, to walk out the door and know that the grass under my feet, the flowers, the rolling hills are mine.  We moved to Tennessee when I was in fifth grade.  It was the first time that we had a decent bit of land, not just a yard.  I loved it.  There is a sense of hope with land.  Hope for the future, for the possibilities of what can be.  There is also a peace, a contentment.  I don’t know if I can put it into words, but I think you will know what I am referring to.  As Theodore Roosevelt said, “There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charm.”   Sitting here now, looking out my window, it makes me wonder why I am not outside enjoying the soft, yet warm rays of the sun.  Allowing the humid air to wrap me in its blanket.  To enjoy the gentle songs of the birds, the not so gentle talking of the hens, the wet grass between my toes. For years I would ask my parents for a bit of their land.  I always remembered to include it on my birthday and Christmas list.  I don’t know if my parents ever really realized how much I wanted it.  Just a bit of their land.  5′ x 5′ would have suited me just fine.  I still know the exact spot I dreamt of owning.  I don’t know why I picked that spot.  There was nothing there.  It was just in the middle of the yard.  Now there is a tree planted.  Not by me, but a tree growing all the same.  As I grew older, I stopped asking for land, but I never stopped dreaming.  Always of 100 acres of land to call my own.  How that land looked changed through the years.  In high school, after a trip to Italy, I wanted a vineyard.  In college, a ranch.  After college, a farm.  Now, I want to live a life that is as self-sufficient as possible.  I want to live off of my land, grow my own food, make what I need.  To live a quiet and simple life.  For now, I am trying to learn how to do so on the land where I am.

First phase:  learn to grow a garden and produce as much food as I can for myself and source the rest as locally as possible.

The first couple of years were a failure…totally.  Thank goodness for our CSA share.  I traveled so much with my family that it was impossible to maintain a garden.  Plus, I never built a fence around my raised beds and lost the majority of my produce to rabbits and our dogs who loved to dig in the dirt.  The only bed that survived was the asparagus, plus a couple of lone eggplant, radish, and beet plants.

This year was different.  I was determined to have a garden and make it work.  We built new beds to expand the garden and had a fence put around the majority of the space.  I had a dump truck full of dirt delivered to fill all the raised beds.  My sisters came home for my birthday and that is how we spent the day.  Digging out spaces for the beds, filling wheel barrows with dirt, and dumping them in the beds.  What a blessing to have extra hands.  And then the planting began.  My poor father.  As soon as I have one bed planted, I am ready for him to build me a new one.

Garden Fence
Garden Fence
Tomato seedling
Tomato seedling
Experimenting with building a trellis
Experimenting with building a trellis

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First beets of the season

Over the past couple of months, I have fallen in love.  I love starting and ending my day in the garden.  Spending hours watering, weeding, and working on projects.  I have been surprised by how relaxing and delightful it has been.  I am absolutely in love with it all.  The philosophy of Addiah is to promote a life of quality, beauty, simplicity, authenticity.  That is why I sell and am in love with Baker Creek Heirloom seeds.  With every purchase made online, I include a packet of seeds as a thank you and to encourage heirloom seeds and a natural farming method; good food, grown by yourself or those near you.  I know that not everyone wants to grow their own garden, but my hope is that they will spread the seeds to someone who will.  We can get food from anywhere in the world.  We are so blessed.  But sometimes, it is not having anything we want that matters.  It is having something good, something real, something by our own hands, grown by hard work, sweat and pain (and even sometimes tears).  It is incredible to witness the growth of a seed into a plant, to see it bloom and produce as God designed it to.

May you enjoy the open, however, wherever that is….Virginia

“There is delight in the hardy life of the open.”…Theodore Roosevelt

Raw treats

Okay…so I mentioned own of my favorite raw treats – Sacred Chocolate – but I thought I would list some of the others I enjoy for when I don’t want to cook.  They are all delicious! I know I can make my own treats, but it is so nice to have a flavorful, healthy snack that I can pick up whenever I am too tired to cook or when I am on the go.  Plus, right after I started experimenting with eating raw I realized that our dehydrator does not have a temperature gauge.  So that means I cannot use it to make any homemade treats (like kale chips) until I invest in a new one.

Dessert:

  • Medjool Dates – They are the best dessert as they are quite sweet and completely natural.
  • Sacred Chocolate – Their white with lemon & coconut, as well as the coconut & nibs – both are delicious but my favorite is definitely the coconut & nibs.  They are really creamy and smooth and the best raw chocolate I have found.  I have not tried all their flavors as the only store I have found them in is Mom’s Organic Market in Maryland (which by the way is my favorite grocery store hands down right now – I just have to drive 9 hours to shop or give my sisters a grocery list when they come to visit).  However, you can order them online!
  • go raw – Super Lemon Cookie.  Go Raw is a common brand in most grocery stores that carry organic/health food.  I love these cookies.  They feel rich and delicious.  I was surprised at how good they tasted.

Snacks:

  • Two Moms in the Raw – Their Granola bars are wonderful.  They are 100% organic, wheat free, dairy free, soy free, and vegan.  The thing I love most is that every ingredient is something I have in my kitchen right now.  These bars are great for when I know I will be out all day and need something to bring with me.  I have never been the type of person just to bring a handful of nuts.  They feel hearty and filling and give me the energy boost I need, especially while hiking!  I have not been able to try any of their other products yet, but trust that if they are anything like the granola bars, they will be delicious.
  • Kale chips – I love homemade kale chips and actually have been disappointed by the selection I have found in stores.  However, I have come across a couple of brands that I really enjoy.  My favorite brand right now is Alive & Radiant.  I have had the Southwest Ranch, the Quite Cheezy, and the Cheezy Chipotle.  All of which fit that desire to have something salty, crunchy, and comforting.
  • go raw – Their Pizza Flax Snax is pretty good.

In love with…orange blossom!

The first time I was introduced to orange blossom I fell instantly in love.  Love at first sight is not quite an accurate statement…maybe more like love at first taste. It all started when my sister went to Indian Wells to watch a tennis tournament.  She came home in love with the latest California trend… orange blossom yogurt.  For breakfast each morning while at her hotel, she would have fresh berries with orange blossom honey yogurt.  She replicated the delightful breakfast by adding orange blossom water and honey to yogurt. Immediately my other two sisters and I fell in love.  Now anything orange blossom reminds me of this amazing love of ours and is just oh so tempting.

I was so excited to see when Noon Design introduced their Orange Blossom Scent, and even more excited when they expanded their line to the Lil’ Lotion Tin.  The delightful scent truly is reminiscent of orange blossom, with a little honeysuckle, and pure California living.

We are in LOVE and hope you will be too!

Lavender and Lemon Cream Mini Cupcakes! UMMM…

Spring almost has a tantalizing pull to be outside.  The few months nestled in between the winter and summer months are soft and comforting.  The mild weather is soothing and inviting, calling one to enjoy the beauty of nature and its many delights.

I love food that truly highlights the ingredients used, that evokes the excitement of Spring and calls you to pick fresh from your garden.  As I sit and look out at the garden, the lavender buds are beginning to bloom beautifully and fill the air with their fragrance.  Recently, I have had the pleasure of discovering a wonderful combination for baking cakes…lavender and lemon.

I am always on the hunt for a delightful cake.  It is seemingly hard to find a good cake or cupcake on a menu, but when I do, it makes my day!  On a recent road trip, I stopped at Wild Flour Bakery Cafe in Abingdon, VA (a WONDERFUL stop while traveling on I-81).  To my delight, the dessert menu had a lavender and lemon cake.  I simply could not resist the wonderful sounding combination and was not disappointed!  They layered white cake with lemon cream and a whipped icing and then finished with lavender buds on top.  The flavor profile had such depth and was simply delightful.  I was convinced that I was going to go home and create my own interpretation of this cake.

However, before I could make my own cake back home in Tennessee, I went to try a new cupcake store that had just opened in Bethesda, MD called Fraiche Cupcakery.  (I have to try all the new ones to find the best in town.)  How excited I was to see that one of their specials for the day was a lavender and lemon cupcake.  Although the same in flavor profile, theirs differed by having a lemon cupcake with a buttercream icing and lavender buds on top.

I dreamt of making my own all the way home and came up with my own interpretation.  I ended up making mini cupcakes…

To make your own lavender and lemon cream mini cupcakes…

Start with a basic vanilla cake recipe.  (I used the Primo Birthday Cake recipe from Dad’s Own Cookbook substituting regular flour for the cake flour.  The recipe ended up making  6 dozen mini cupcakes.)  While they are baking, whip up a buttercream frosting and set aside.  I like this recipe from Epicurious because it is light and creamy and much less sweet than the classic buttercream.  The icing flavor combines well with all the other components without being too overpowering.  Allow the cupcakes to cool completely.  Next, whip 8 oz of heavy whipping cream and then fold in 1/2 c of Bella Cucina’s Preserved Lemon Cream until combined.  Using a Wilton #230 tip, fill a piping bag with the lemon whipped cream and pipe into the mini cupcakes.  When piping the cream into the cupcakes, insert the tip into the center of the cupcake and squeeze gently until you begin to see the cupcake rise ever so slightly.  You do not want to over fill the cupcakes or they will crack on top.  Some of the whipped cream will come up from the whole, but it will be sealed in by the buttercream icing.  You should have a little of the whipped cream left over even with 6 dozen cupcakes.  To finish them off, use a Wilton #1M tip and fill a second piping bag with the buttercream icing and pipe a small star on top.  Sprinkle with lavender buds and enjoy!…Virginia

Can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a couple of days at least.

Happy Easter!

On behalf of Addiah.com, I wanted to wish you all a Happy Easter!

I know that my family has been busy planning our feast, or menu rather.  Luckily this year I personally am in charge of doing mostly dessert, including an Orange Blossom cupcake, inspired by one of the latest items….Orange Blossom by Noon.

Orange Blossom by Noon
Orange Blossom by Noon

 

The delightful new fragrance was just launched…and I am ever so glad they did.  The scent truly is reminiscent of orange blossom, a little honeysuckle, and California living.

May you all have a very happy Easter….Virginia