Circle of Appreciation

This was something new and different… My dear friend Strawberryindigo (aka Nancy, but I like her pseudonym so much!) at Serendipity13 has invited me to join the Ligo Circle of Appreciation.

I felt honoured, but also very curious! What is a circle of appreciation?! I needed to take a look at the origin of this…

It has originated from Esenga’s voice , a Latvian blogger. She writes:

The yearly Līgo celebration happens every summer solstice in Latvia.
At this time we adorn our heads with Līgos of flowers, oak leaves,
grasses and plants. We join circles around bonfires and celebrate life,
and our appreciation of each other.

Here’s our
Līgo Circle of Appreciation
among fellow bloggers.

For duration of 22 days, starting on 1st October 2012, we will be inviting
2 bloggers per day
to join the Līgo Circle of Appreciation.

PLEASE NOTE: This is an Appreciation, NOT an Award.

To fully participate in the Līgo Circle of Appreciation:

1. Complete this sentence about blogging: “A great blog is…

2. Refer back to the blogger who invited you

3. Invite 2 bloggers to join the Līgo Circle of Appreciation on a post

1. So, in my opinion a great blog is one that makes me smile, where I can learn and hear about things that are new to me, where I can see and hear about  people’s connection with nature, and it is also an honest, welcoming and friendly place.

2. Serendipity13 is such a blog – please take a look at Nancy’s beautiful site! She always makes me smile and brightens my day! And thank you for inviting me Strawberryindigo!

3. I would like to invite the two following blogs:

Tj’s Garden: Tj lives in the Arizona Sonora Desert and has a garden full of heat-tolerant flowers and plants which she presents on her blog. Tj also writes about the local wildlife – fascinating creatures visit her such as coyotes, or giant desert hairy scorpions… Her articles are always so interesting and I love to see what grows and lives in her part of the world.

Nuts for Treasure: Eunice is a fun-loving, hard-working blogger! I love her photos, her tales and stories, and her dedication; a lady with oodles of personality and a big heart. She has recently shown us some lovely photos of autumn colour in New Hampshire. Every post is a delight!

Have a great weekend everyone!


Spicy Apple Cake

Don’t you just love the smell of autumn? For me autumn smells of woodsmoke, damp leaves, ripe fruits… and cinnamon spice!

This sugar is called “Bratapfel” spice, which means roasted apple spice… and it is the perfect mixture for autumn apple dishes. A mix of golden sugar, cinnamon, cloves and vanilla. When I opened the jar the sweet aroma whispered to me…  “applecakeapplecakeapplecakeapple…”

I needed little persuasion…

Spicy Apple Cake

  • 250g (2 cups) plain flour
  • 100g (1/2 cup) brown sugar
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 55g (1/4 cup) butter, melted and cooled a little
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup (240ml) buttermilk
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • ½ tsp cardamom
  • 2 heaped cups chopped peeled apples (in my case three smallish apples)
  • 2 tbsps brown sugar mixed with a little cinnamon, OR 2 tbsps Bratapfel sugar

Preheat oven to 190°C/375°F.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, spices and baking soda in a bowl. In a separate bowl whisk together the egg, buttermilk and melted butter.  Then pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until just combined. Gently fold in the apples.

Pour batter into a greased 20 x 20cm (8×8 inch) pan. Sprinkle top with Bratapfel sugar or brown sugar. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Serve with whipped cream!

Asters and Butterflies

Most of my asters get far too tall, and flop over….

… does that happen to yours too?

Of course, if I staked them early enough, before the ground gets too hard and dry, I suppose I could avoid it!

Still, the butterflies don’t seem to mind…




By the way, despite some cold nights I spotted the (possibly) last hummingbird hawk-moth of the year on October 13th!

Smokey Potato Salad


One of the most important ingredients in the world… and yet so often overlooked or taken for granted . Centuries ago, long boats laden with salt from the mines on the border to Austria would travel up the Danube and past our nearest town… fighting against the strong currents in the narrow gorges of the river, struggling through floodwaters and bad weather. It was a tough business, but a lucrative one. After all, who can imagine life without salt? And hundreds of years ago, in order to preserve food it was mostly salted…

or smoked…

or both!

So smoked salt just seems right. Don’t you think?

(But without meat?)

When I ordered this jar of Danish smoked salt, I had NO idea what I would do with it. I was thinking – Tofu? Soba? Then I saw a picture of potato salad, and I immediately knew it! The creamy mayonnaise, with the garlic, really complements the smokey flavour.

Smokey Potato Salad

  • 500g (1 lb) new potatoes
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) vegan mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp smoked salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 red onion, chopped finely
  • 2 tbsps chopped fresh parsley

Cut up the potatoes into bite-sized chunks and boil in unsalted water until tender. Drain and leave to cool. Mix together all the other ingredients except the parsley, then add to the cooled potatoes. Stir well and finally add the chopped parsley. I prefer this at room temperature, but you could try it chilled too.

Delicious with grilled cheese and tomato salad!

(And I’m sure it would taste just as good with normal salt if you can’t get smoked!)

Any other ideas what I could do with my smoked salt?

Misty Morning Walk

Being in a valley has both advantages and disadvantages… we get more mist and fog in autumn; we can see our weather coming along the valley (and prepare for a storm!); we get strong west winds; in autumn and spring we are slightly protected from frosts; and in winter once the ground freezes we do not get enough hours of sunshine to thaw the ice or snow, which then hangs around for weeks!

The mist is often dreary, but can also be beautiful. I think that being outdoors in grey weather is always better than being “stuck” indoors. And when the sun breaks through it is so much more appreciated!

Miscanthus field along our footpath

Looking across the misty valley

Maiden Pinks (Dianthus) by the path

The sun breaking through and the mist dispersing

Have a lovely (sunny) Sunday!