What I Learned in 2017

Winter wonderland in my back yard, February 2015

Winter wonderland in my back yard, February 2015

It's the end of 2017 and I've been sitting here reflecting on this year's high points. My daughter Caroline, the youngest, graduated with honors from NC State. In June we sold my husband's business, which might not sound like much, but in fact it was a big deal because, for me, it brought a profound sense of freedom, a weight was lifted. In November, when I could have been planting bulbs and digging and splitting dahlias at the farm, I traveled to Bellingham, WA, instead, gratefully tagging along with my sister and niece. I left a piece of my heart in Bellingham and came home with a renewed appreciation for travel. In addition to the highs, there were some low points. I experienced a home invasion and the theft of personal property including my husband's cremains which were never located. That was hard! But I am grateful because it could have been much worse.

Above all, I've learned some simple life lessons - among them:

Less is very much more. Getting rid of unnecessary possessions has been such a positive thing. It is incredible the amount of junk that accumulates, if you let it. 

Little things matter. My husband understood this better than anyone. I have learned to appreciate small gestures and random acts of kindness.

Slow down. I don't mean working less but more to the point, taking time to focus and make every encounter count with ears and eyes wide open.

Recently my Mom handed me a written note that included the following message which I believe fits in perfectly with a New Year:

"One day at a time, this is enough. Do not look back and grieve over the past, for it is gone. And do not be troubled about the future, for it has not yet come. Live in the present, and make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering!" ~ Ida Scott Taylor

Are you or someone you know planning a Spring wedding? The farm's peonies bloom April through May. If you are local and need flowers, please get in touch (336-706-3235). It's not too early to reserve them. I wish you the very best in 2018.

 

 

  

Peonies at the farm, photo from May 2016

Peonies at the farm, photo from May 2016

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 Bellingham, WA

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October: Here's to Fall at Hauser Creek Farm

Field flowers at Hauser Creek Farm

Field flowers at Hauser Creek Farm

Hello, October. Fall is definitely in the air around here and the farm is blooming! If you have a minute, take a look back at my post from May which included a photo similar to the scene above. These flowers were sown in early spring and they peaked around the middle of May. By late July this whole area was invaded with weeds and the flowers spent. I haven't kept good notes this year but I think it was the last week in July when I bush hogged it down, thinking at the time that maybe I might get a second bloom. Sure enough! Only this time around there's sulfur (aka orange) cosmos in the mix which is perfect for autumn. Many of the perky blooms have gone into mason jar centerpieces that I've put together for various functions off-farm. I enjoy simply resting my eyes on this scene when I'm working, and it's been a haven for busy bees and butterflies.

Bucket of fresh-picked flowers at Hauser Creek Farm

Bucket of fresh-picked flowers at Hauser Creek Farm

In keeping with the spirit of autumn, I recently bought a bushel of wine sap apples and have been plowing through them baking all sorts of pies, and this French-themed apple lavender frangipane, which I love! Frangipane is a type of rich pastry cream typically containing ground almonds except in this case I used almond flour. Check out the recipe, below, which I adapted from relishmag.com. If you do not have lavender sugar, no worries. Simply use regular granulated sugar, and vanilla extract can be used in place of lavender extract.

Lavender-infused apple frangipane with fresh borage flowers for garnish

Lavender-infused apple frangipane with fresh borage flowers for garnish

Prepare the crust: Combine 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium-size bowl; cut in 6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter (cut into pieces) with a pastry blender. Add 2 tablespoons ice cold water or just enough to make mixture come together to form a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour. 

Roll out the dough placing the plastic wrap underneath the dough as you roll. Roll dough to fit a 9-inch tart pan. Lift dough using the edges of the plastic wrap as a guide and flip it into the pan. Remove and discard the plastic wrap. Press the pastry into the pan, folding edges over if necessary to fit even with the rim. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

While pastry is baking prepare the frangipane: Combine 6 tablespoons butter and 2/3 cup lavender sugar in the bowl of a food processor; top with cover and process until combined. Add 3/4 cup almond flour, 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon cornstarch, 1 egg, 1 egg white, 1 teaspoon lavender extract, and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract; process for 30 seconds or until smooth. Spread mixture in the pastry shell. Peel, core, and thinly slice 2 large apples; arrange apple slices in a pretty pattern on top of the frangipane. Place the tart on a baking sheet and bake about 40 minutes or until puffy and golden. Let cool completely before serving. Serves 8.  

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July: Stars 'n Stripes and Sunflowers at Hauser Creek Farm

Red White and Blue Lavender Shortbread

Red White and Blue Lavender Shortbread

Happy Fourth of July! There's nothing prettier - and more all-American - than sunflowers. It's been a few years since we planted them en masse, and I missed them. So this year I enlisted a local farmer-friend who showed up on May 11 to do the planting. Since then, growing conditions have been perfect and the first blooms are now on the verge of breaking through. This coming Friday evening, July 7, the farm will be open 5 to 7 o'clock-ish. I expect to be picking lots and lots of sunflowers by then so come and get 'em! If you are interested and want to stick around for munchies, please bring a simple dish or beverage to share. 

While the farm's lavender is basically done for the year, I like to extend the season by making lavender sugar using some of the leftover dried bundles. Makes a great hostess gift in addition to being a versatile staple in my pantry. Lavender sugar smells amazing and adds a soft floral note to breads, pound cake, and cookies like the shortbread I made for the 4th.  To make lavender sugar, simply place 2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Add 4 teaspoons dried culinary lavender buds, cover, and process for about 30 seconds. Of course, you can make a larger batch but generally speaking two teaspoons lavender buds per 1 cup sugar is a gracious plenty. Store the sugar in a covered container.

Lavender Sugar at Hauser Creek Farm

Lavender Sugar at Hauser Creek Farm

Sunflower in process at Hauser Creek Farm

Sunflower in process at Hauser Creek Farm

Sunflower in full bloom at Hauser Creek Farm. Do you see the bees? 

Sunflower in full bloom at Hauser Creek Farm. Do you see the bees?