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Back yard view, with dogwoods and Brian’s redbud in the distance.

May, always our busiest month, is next week you guys!  Which means we are fast approaching the days where Pat and I traditionally communicate by post-it note, only recently enhanced by technology and the ability to text each other.  But that is entirely dependent on my carrying a device in which to text and since I rarely do that, the post-it note is still generally the most reliable form of communication here. Thankfully, Edie is old enough we can leave her home alone, because we’ve already had one incident where both of us committed to something without looking to see if the other one was around.  Edie has started realizing when I ask her if she has her key, it means she stands a good chance of being locked out when she comes home if she doesn’t have it.  Ah, spring in the Calvert house. Continue reading

Well hello there!

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  True to form, May has kicked my ass on every level imaginable once again this year.  How is it Memorial Day weekend already?  I’m still not done getting the gardens in, the only batch of strawberry jam I made was at last night’s Happy Cook class and when people ask what our summer plans are, I have no answer.  None. Continue reading


IMG_4459Hello there.  It’s hot & muggy as all get out this week and thanks to those french doors that lead from the dining room to the sunroom still in need of serious love and therefore, not installed, I can’t close the house up and turn on the AC.   That task is on the to-do list for week after next.  In between now & then,  I have a few canning classes & demonstrations lined up, a few articles due to editors here & there, a kid to pack up and drop off at camp, some girls nights and date nights to attend to.  I’m also organizing a swap next Saturday, July 27.   Continue reading


My weekend:
Up early Saturday morning to hit market.  I bumped into neighbor Brian and wandered some with him, comparing notes on the chickens (they live in his back yard) and talking about what we need to do to winterize the chicken house.  I then ran into our friend Straz and wandered around with him.  Normally I make a quick run to the stands I like to patronize and then cut out of there.  Straz hadn’t been to market in a while and I found myself wandering and exploring the market like I haven’t made time for in at least a season, if not more with him.  Bonus, I got some impromptu quality time with Straz, which set my weekend off on a good note.  Thanks Straz.
Came home, packed up the fam for a quick little roadtrip.
Destination?  The Cowpasture River Preservation Association Annual picnic. The Cowpasture River are the headwaters of the James, along with the Jackson River and fall under the duties of my favorite Riverkeeper.

The Cowpasture is one of the cleanest rivers around.  It runs through the western most part of Virginia, in the Allegheny mountains.  It may be one of the most beautiful parts of the state.  As you can see in the above shot, the water is low.  We didn’t go out on the river, but we did enjoy mingling with the members of CPRA. They are a lovely group of folks.
This hollowed out tree was a popular topic of conversation.  Somehow it withstood the derecho while more solid trees around it were blown over.

The hostess of the picnic said there was an article published about it, but I haven’t been able to google it to link it.  It’s big and old and incredibly hollow.  It will no doubt outlive us all.
Another popular topic of conversation was the ensemble worn by the mini-me. The Picasso dress with zebra print rain boots.  Pretty sure only she could pull that off.  And don’t let this picture fool you – she was much friendlier to people who weren’t her mother and didn’t have cameras in their hands.
The ‘tween ‘tude is strong with her.
Johnny, one of Pat’s River Rats, so kindly put us up in his cabin farther down the river that evening.
Yet another quiet unplugged evening by the water….

I love the view from the front of the cabin.  Mountains and cow pastures with the river running behind it.  Quiet and soothing and a little bit of heaven. 
Sunday morning, we had to get up and book it back.

Cville Swaps  had our third swap this weekend.  We had planned it before I knew Pat had so much going on this weekend, so I didn’t have time to whip up any baked goods, but thanks to my pickling habit, I did have a good number of jars to bring.

Which Edie proceeded to swap to get herself some new earrings that Stephanie had brought.
I also brought home some BBQ sauce, peach honey, some of Vikki’s jams as well as her pickled blueberries.  (I am not the only pickling fool around.) My child is much more inclined to eat Vikki’s jams than she is mine.  I chalk it up to years of my bad jam.  I get it. It’s a big reason why we do the swap – so that I can get Vikki’s jams and jellies.  I got some cherry vanilla, peach butter and a peach jalepeno jam that I think is going to go well on a ham sandwich.

Robyn also brought some Paw Paws, so we covered all the bases of home made, home grown and foraged for foods this swap.
Swap over, we dropped Edie at a friend’s and headed south.
The James River Brewing Company was having a pre-opening celebration. Pat’s been working with them on a few things (including a possible pawpaw brew), so we were quite happy to pop in and try some of their new brews.  They officially open this weekend. Their tasting room is beautiful. In addition to the breaktaking white oak counter at the bar, they used reclaimed wood throughout. Warm space, good beer, worth the trek to Scottsville.


I sampled a few, the Green Eyed Lady being my favorite.  Pistachios were used in the brewing.  It has a higher alcohol content, which led me to calling it the One Eyed Lady.  A few of those and I’d definitely be one-eyed. 
We headed back into town and grabbed a quick bite at Beer Run.  It was packed and as we were finishing up our meal, we had the pleasure of being forced to listen to the rant of some returning UVa kid who had his parents and grandparents in tow, complaining how they had to wait 10 minutes for a table.  Oh the humanity of it all.  I was surprised they didn’t just pack up and leave he bitched so long and so loud.  Clearly he’s never worked a day in his life in the food service industry.  I was trying to have a pleasant conversation and date night with my husband, after spending a weekend running around going to work with him and here this guy stood right behind us yelling about how horrible it was he had to wait for a table.  It took quite a bit of willpower to not say anything to him, but I realized he’d just start yelling at me too.  It was bad enough I had to listen to him. It was bum ending to an otherwise busy, but good weekend.
And now I need a weekend to recover from my weekend.  The last three roadtrips I have just pulled dirty clothes out of the suitcase, made sure there were clean ones in there and headed back out.  I think it might be time to unpack it, maybe put it away and spend some time at home?  My house is starting to get that September old lady house smell that inspires fall cleaning and I really need to crack down on this regular bedtime thing.  That child must start getting to bed at a reasonable hour on a regular basis before I will allow her any wiggle room on weekend.  That didn’t go over well when I told her that but Pat did high five me on my mad parenting skills. So I’ve got that going for me. 


I finally finished getting the garden in this weekend, although I still have some raspberry bushes in a bucket (Pat & I are debating their placement) and the landscaping plan in the backyard has changed somewhat (Pat wants to add a pond or some sort of water feature.  I think he’s realized I need a new digging project.) and weeding is never-ending.  All this rain the last week or so has brought back weeds I thought I’d dug up already.  I just walk around with a shovel in my hand these days, attacking weeds and vines.  Which is how I got poison on my hands again.  I hate when I get it on the palms, really makes it hard to do stuff.  One of these days I’ll learn to wear gloves, but that won’t happen until I find gloves that fit just right.  I have been looking and tried some on the other day when I was picking up netting for the blueberry bushes, but the ones I really liked they didn’t have in my size.  All I ever seem to find these days are the type of gloves with the rubber on the fingers and palms – I don’t like these gloves at all, what happened to the good old fashioned canvas ones and why are they so hard to find?

The Planting Seeds Music Festival is tomorrow at Buford.  It’s a music festival celebrating all the Charlottesville elementary schools gardens.  I’m the food chair for the whole shebang, so today I’m wrapping up loose ends, dotting my i’s and crossing my t’s.  I got the rough draft for the flyer for the class picnic out today too.  I’ve put Edie’s class picnic together since kindergarten.  It’s really quite easy – I can pretty much tell you who’s going to bring what, who’s going to help and who’s going to call me the morning of in a panic. When you do the same thing 5 years in a row, you learn these things.  There’s also prep for the upcoming swap going on.  I’m really excited about some of the responses and what people are bringing. 

Last weekend’s bug seems to have faded into just another huge allergy flare-up.  I woke up feeling crummy yesterday, with that lovely racking allergy cough I get that just hurts.  I don’t like the stuff the doctor gives me for the cough – honestly, I can’t take anything stronger than a tylenol without some horrible reaction.  But, at least Pat was home so that I could lounge all I wanted to.  Also, it was Mother’s Day, so I had full cart blanche to lounge.  I got myself caught up on the NYTimes Book Review section. I had like 3 months worth of Sunday’s piled up.  It was heavenly.  We went to Mono Loco for dinner, where I realized the tequila in my margarita made the cough stop, at least for a while.  I think I’m going to need more medicinal tequila.

We officially have the fattest squirrel you have ever seen in our yard.  I’m going to see if I can’t get a picture to show you.  Seriously, it’s huge.  When Pat got a good look at it on the back porch today, he wondered if maybe it wasn’t a small groundhog with a bushy tail.  It is that fat.

We are hosting one of Pat’s coworkers this evening.  I had totally forgotten about it.  Honestly, since I came home from the gym this morning (which totally kicked my butt.  I definitely was aiming too high after taking most of the last week off with the ick), I have been lounging in my bathrobe coughing and answering emails about the festival.  I have exactly two hours to get the first floor of this house in presentable condition.   I want to make a better impression than I did the  last time we hosted his coworkers.  At least I have no where to go but up, right?  

New Swap Date Set!

Mark your calendars gang.   Cville Swaps is back and we are planning our next event on Sunday, June 3.
RSVP to cvilleswaps@gmail.com for details.  You can swap your homemade goodies like jams and pickles and granolas and soaps, as well as fresh homegrown items from your garden.  You can swap some of those plants you need to thin from your garden, you can swap eggs from your chickens.  Think homegrown, homemade.  Hope to see you there!


If you know me at all, you know I have a tendency to can or freeze everything in sight.  You know I’m pretty devoted to knowing where our food comes from. When I first heard about these food swaps going on around the country, I thought, oh cool.  Someone should organize one here, because I’d like to check one out.   And then my friend Vikki emailed me and said WE should it. 

That does make sense.  I mean, I do have a tendency do that sort of thing too.  Like start a knitting group, a girl scout troop for my daughter and her friends, the list could go on….. 

So, we got together and brainstormed where to have this thing.  I talked to a few folks and found a space for us to use, The Garage, and we came up with a name, Cville Swaps.  We have a Facebook Page and I’ve created a page on this blog for it.  (See it up there across the top?  I’m pretty impressed with myself for figuring that out.).  We plan on holding our first event on Sunday, November 13, from 2-4 pm.  Everyone is invited, so if you are in the area and interested, please let us know!

All manner of items that you make, grow and forage for are acceptable to swap.  The lists I’ve read around the web are pretty cool.  I might borrow Edie’s body scrub recipe and make some of that to swap.  I’m also thinking some of my watermelon rind pickles would be a good swap.  I’ve thought about bringing some Amish Friendship Bread starter too.  Ever since I found out I could freeze it and always have it on hand and seen all those recipes on their website, I’ve been a happy girl.  I’ve made the orange cranberry muffins, the triple chocolate muffins, the double chocolate muffins, and the pumpkin spice ones.  Mmm.  Oh, sorry.  I’ve wandered off topic….

So, Sunday, November 13.  See you there?

Update – I created a blog just for the swap.  I’ll have some things about it on here as well, but look on the Cville Swaps blog for more updates.