Country Sunshine

“And the joy that the bluebird brings…”



Wilderness Wednesday

“When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.”
_ Ernest Hemingway


Friday’s Feature

Gosh, it’s been a while since I’ve shared a Friday Feature. This rainy morning calls for the Avett Brothers. ❤️ Happy Friday!

Wilderness Wednesday

“Don’t be shy you learn to fly, And see the sun when day is done, If only you see, Just what you are beneath a star, That came to stay one rainy day, In autumn for free…. Yes, be what’ you’ll be –” _Nick Drake


Wilderness Wednesday

“Like a tree, sometimes I can accomplish a great deal by doing nothing at all. I shift my weight toward a new place and know it will swing around. In time.”


Celebrate Earth, Celebrate Friends

earth grain salad w/ honey ginger lemonade

I always love the time of year when Earth Day rolls around.  Whether it be the spring blooms that have me fluttering about or the fact that my birthday does indeed fall a few days later or that it’s an excuse to ‘hug a tree’, I love how April brings new growth and freshness to our lives.  It’s a time to enjoy the longer days, breathe in the fresh air, plant seeds in the garden, and sit in the grass while the birds chirp in your ear.

I always want to do something to celebrate this special season.  We used to have an Earth Day party every year, that I SO enjoyed planning….. what better way to celebrate the Earth and its loveliness than in the company of good friends.  (And a good excuse to hug trees, frolic barefoot, and partake in a keg of local beer.)  🙂  Recently though, life sometimes gets the best of you, and I’ve been a bit absent on Turquoise Autumn, much less am I planning an Earth Day party this year.  (My 3.5 year old son was just diagnosed with Crohn’s disease…. more on the subject to come in a later post, but the recipes below are definitely reflective of things I have learned along this journey so far.)

earth day lunchSo I was really craving sharing a special meal to celebrate the season with a good friend.  My lovely friend, Lindsey (from Coco Love), was just the one to share this earthy lunch.  Lucky for us, it was gorgeous earlier this week and we were able to play in the kitchen with the windows open, The Shins on repeat, and whip up these simple recipes for a tasty meal.

These recipes just really came about spur of the moment.  I knew I had wanted to make a salad with spelt because 1) I had never used it before and 2) my family recently went grain-free due to my son’s diagnosis, and although spelt is a grain and it does contain the gluten, it is a little easier on the digestive system.  All the ingredients just fell into place after that….. I found local ramps from Happy Cat Farms at the Philly Farm and Food Fest a few days before, then fava beans at Whole Foods, and voila…. this salad was created.  Lindsey and I wanted to keep it simple and fresh and highlight the spring ‘green’ flavors.  (And I think we accomplished what we were after!  🙂 )

earth day lunch

earth day lunch by the garden

Ginger Lemonade with Mint

3 lemons

quarter-size knob of ginger (peeled & grated)

2 tablespoons honey

handful of mint

Juice the lemons and put juice in a glass pitcher.  Add water to fill the pitcher.  We added around 3.5 cups of water.  Sweeten with honey.  Muddle with ginger and mint.

earth day lunch

earth day lunch

Earth Grain Salad

1 cup of spelt

1 bunch of ramps

1 cup fava beans, blanched & shelled

1 avocado

butterhead lettuce or greens of choice

freshly squeezed orange juice of 1/2 orange

1 tablespoon orange zest

1/4 cup olive oil

sea salt & pepper to taste

Soak the spelt berries for 1 hour.  In a large pot with salted water, bring spelt to a boil.  Lower heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 hour or until spelt is slightly puffed.  Spelt should be soft and chewy.

Shell the fava beans.  In a pot of boiling water, blanch the beans for 30 seconds.  Immediately put into an ice bath.  The waxy outer shell of the beans should now easily come off.  (For pictures and details, I found this.)

Saute the ramps in a tablespoon of butter or ghee until still bright green, but wilted.  (I’ve been cooking with ghee lately and I have to say, I am really liking it.)  Set aside.

Make the dressing.  In a mason jar with lid, mix orange juice, orange zest, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Shake vigorously.  (The orange zest really makes this dressing and brightens all the flavors of the spring goodness in the salad.)

In a large bowl, mix together spelt, ramps, and fava beans.  Cover with dressing.  Save a little bit of dressing to drizzle on top of salad once assembled.

Assemble the salad.  Start with a bed of greens.  Add spelt mixture and top with sliced avocado.  Drizzle with the saved salad dressing.

earth day lunch fixings


earth grain salad

Plum Tart

For the crust:

3/4 cup almond flour (increase if needed for overall texture)

1 egg

1 teaspoon coconut oil, melted

1 teaspoon sea salt

cinnamon for sprinkling

Grease mini tart pans with coconut oil.  In a large bowl, mix almond flour, egg, melted coconut oil, and salt.  Press mixture into tart pans and sprinkle with cinnamon.  Bake tart shells at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

For the filling:

4 plums

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

a pinch of xanthan gum

a pinch of cinnamon

Slice plums and mix with orange juice, xanthan gum, and cinnamon.

Arrange in baked tart shells.  Sprinkle with sanding sugar or cinnamon if desired.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

plum tarts

This lunch was so simple and fresh.  Lindsey and I had the best time chatting in the kitchen while preparing and I was thrilled that I got to be there when Lindsey tried her first ramps!  (I love, love, love ramps!)

We also purposely made the dessert grain-free.  I wanted to have a special treat from our day that the little man could partake in too.  (We’ve cut out all grains from his diet to improve his digestive health, very much along the lines of the GAPS diet.)  But I must say, this tart was so so simple, and the plums, oh the plums, they shine!  Lindsey found these amazing plums, that really ended our meal on such a sweet note!  Thank you to Lindsey for helping prepare and share this lovely little lunch!

I wish everyone sunshine and positive vibes this Earth Day!  I hope you get the chance to enjoy spring’s bounty of green, frolic in the garden, and hug a tree!  Xo!

earth day lunch

“It seems to me that we all look at Nature too much, and live with her too little.”  _ Oscar Wilde

(Plates, napkins, tart pans, and Weck jar:  Williams-Sonoma)

Friday’s Feature

About this song…. It’s Sam Bush.  It’s about Ozzie Smith.  I mean, what’s not to love?!?

I grew up loving baseball, but Ozzie Smith was my favorite baseball player.  I remember summers when my parents would load up all five of us and we would road trip it from Mississippi to St. Louis to see the Cardinals play.  I can remember how excited & proud I was to wear my Ozzie Smith button and the old camera I had to try to snap pictures of his back flip that he always did on the field on his way to short stop.  Can you tell I’m a little excited for baseball season?!?  Happy March!!

Let’s get ‘Fresh’…. hey, it’s Valentine’s!


A Valentine’s dinner all inspired by Tyler Florence‘s Fresh.


Roasted Cherry Tomato, Mozzarella, & Basil Tartine

Flat Iron Steak w/ Creamed Spinach, Roasted Garlic, & Parmesan

Strawberries w/ Honey Whipped Cream, Almond Crisps, & Lavender Sugar


Blood Orange – Satsuma Cocktail Mix and Spiced Rimming Sugar by Williams-Sonoma

(mixed w/ Basil Hayden’s)


a very special bottle of 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon by Deerfield Winery

** Fresh is a gorgeous book, so it’s bound to result in gorgeous food, right?!?  It did.  Although I didn’t follow a Tyler recipe ingredient by ingredient or step by step, I was most definitely lead down a path of culinary happiness.  Thanks for helping us get ‘Fresh’ on Valentine’s, Tyler!  😉 **

Daily Inspiration

Sorry I have been rather quiet in the new year…. I’ve been gathering ideas, making mental notes, and have many things I want to do on Turquoise Autumn this year, and I’ve been waiting to get organized to do it.  But will I ever get organized to my high standards I set for myself?!?  Probably not, so I just need to take the next step.  Take action.  Just do it.  Right?!?  Isn’t this something we struggle with everyday?!?  I find I make many excuses for myself… not enough time in the days, household chores to do, or not enough inspiration, but that’s not necessarily true.  There is inspiration everywhere, in many things…. So today I wanted to share some of the places, people, and organizations where I get my daily inspiration.  I hope you enjoy and maybe get inspired!  😉  Happy Tuesday!

image via Beth Doane

image via Beth Doane

Beth Doane is the founder of Rain Tees, an organization that “plants trees with tees”.  Check out how Beth started this amazing business here.  Be sure to follow her on Pinterest and Facebook for great inspirational images like the one above.

image via Nest

image via Nest

I am in awe of my friend, Rebecca van Bergen, who founded Nest and the good she has spread around the world.  I am always eager to learn more from Nest and spread their mission.  Exciting things to come!  Like them on Facebook or visit here to learn more.  Or check out this great article via PBS.

I love Pure Green Magazine!  They have a beautiful publication always full of lovely content.  I want to jump inside and vicariously live through their articles.  Would that be alright, Celine MacKay?!?  😉

image via Williams-Sonoma

image via Williams-Sonoma

And always culinary inspired by Williams-Sonoma.  I work there.  And love.

Pinterest is also a source of daily inspiration.  Follow my boards here.  I especially love it for my Food Files and Kitchen ideas!

More things to come, my dear friends.  But for now, I’m off for a quick afternoon jaunt to NYC!  I shall be back soon, I promise!  Xo


Happy 2013!

After being sick with the flu over Christmas, I wanted to make sure to get 2013 off to a good start.  It has been a lovely day of cooking, reading, mimosas and spending time with my boys.  I made a potato leek tart and drank plenty of mimosas…. ’twas a good day!

IMG_20130101_160412 IMG_20130101_194655I’ve also had on my mind my resolutions for the coming year.  Not that I really write down a “resolution”, but here’s a few things that I “want” (big or small, reasonable or unreasonable) for 2013.

*  I want to make a pie.  Or two.  Or more.  (Help from here.)

*  I want to eat here.  And  here.

*  I want to go here.  Or here.  Or back here.  Or maybe even a quick weekend getaway here.

*  I want to take a photography course, maybe here.

*  I want to read more books.

*  I want to drink one a day.

*  I want more “date” nights with the hubs.

*  I want to take the little man here every day the schedule allows.

*  I want to cook with new ingredients.

*  I want to do more good here.

*  I want (and look forward) to laughing and hugging my fabulous friends and family.

*  I want to be a better (and more organized) gardener.  With inspiration from here and here.

Just to name a few….  🙂

Here’s a quote to start you off for the year… “This bright new year is given to me, to live each day with zest, to daily grow and try to be my highest and my best!”  _ William Arthur Ward

I hope you all have a happy and healthy 2013!