RV There Yet?


In September, Eric and I bought an RV. I never thought I’d be the RV type, but with all the bugs here, I now am. Besides, there’s something so cozy about a small space. We bought it two days after my birthday and Eric says it’s a gift for all the upcoming occasions (for the next two years).

As much as we love the farm, we thought it would be nice to get away once in awhile and explore. We are close to so many beautiful states. And, as I’m finding out, Tennessee and Alabama have some of the most gorgeous campgrounds.

I love how modern RVs have now become. They actually have interiors I like. The interior of this RV is beautiful and well-laid out with a separate bedroom, good-sized bath, a living area and a decent kitchen and dining area. It has a black/gray/tan neutral interior. One of my favorite features is the in-house vacuum. They call this a 26 ft. travel trailer, but in reality, it’s about 29.7 ft. The one we bought is a Keystone Hideout.

I went crazy stocking this camper. Everyone has their own personal bin (including the dog). I added a cozy little bed for Daisy. Since I have two of everything in my kitchen, it made sense to make use of all those extra utensils and appliances. I tried to make it feel like a home by adding comfortable bedding, pillows, throws and a basket for magazines and books.

On our first trip in October, which was only a few miles down the road at David Crockett State Park, we had our friends out for a barbecue. One of our friends gave us cute dog themed tea towels. Our other friends gave us a seasonal tea towel and pumpkin to decorate for the holidays.

In early November, we also visited Meriwether Lewis (in Natchez Trace) State Park which is an amazing free site with pull-throughs.

We are really enjoying  being RV owners. I like the fact that we never need a suitcase and we will always feel comfortable in our home away from home.

This table has quite a story. Eric handcrafted this trestle table for my brother’s family made from one red oak tree harvested from our farm. Both of us worked together to design it. We are very proud of it.

About the Wood:

  • The entire table was made from one tree from our land
  • We dragged the tree back from our pasture using a tractor and a chain around April of 2013
  • The wood was rough cut using our lumber mill consisting of a long steel frame and a chain saw
  • Rough cut lumber was stacked onto wood spacers to dry out for about a year before they could be used
  • We got about ten 9-foot pieces of lumber from this one tree

Before it became a Table, the Rough Cut Planks were used for a Party:

  • On July 26, 2014 the rough cut lumber was used for a farm to table dinner for our sister-in-law’s 40th Birthday party.
  • The party was set in our herb garden.
  • The temporary table consisted of 3 planks of lumber placed on 2 saw horses.

Preparing the Wood to be Used:

  • A local lumber mill planed our lumber in September of 2014
  • In October 2014, we designed the plans for the table. However, it was a work-in-progress as we continually challenged the design and continuity of the piece
  • Our goal was to create a casual family table to be used on my brother’s family’s screened-in porch
  • We looked at various ideas for table tops and trestle legs
  • We kept in mind that we would have to work within the constraints of Eric’s skills and tools
  • Because of the weight of the table, it had to be designed in pieces so it could easily be moved and reassembled
  • The overall dimension of the table ended up being 8’ x 3’6” 2’6″ high

The Table Top:

  • To create the desired width, we added 2.5″ strips between each plank
  • This created a nice custom look
  • 3 planks and 2 strips make up the top of this table
  • The planks and strips were doweled and glued together
  • The top had beautiful imperfections. They were carefully chiseled out so they would still look natural
  • We used a test piece to add resin to the imperfections but in the end, we decided it looked best natural

The Trestle Legs:

  • The trestle legs are made from three 2-inch thick planks
  • The legs are 10-inches wide
  • We wanted to put a decorative element on the legs and feet
  • A temporary template was made on paper and taped to the leg
  • A template was cut out of wood
  • Eric did not have a band saw, so he used a jig saw to cut around the template, then sanded around it

Table Construction:

  • The table is mortise and tennon construction
  • The only bolts used hold the table top and legs together
  • The table can be broken down into 8 pieces
    • 2 legs
    • 1 stretcher
    • 1 table top
    • 4 leg pegs

Finishing the Table:

  • The table was sanded down
  • The wood was oiled with linseed and sealed with wax
  • Eric carved on the bottom of the table our names with our collaborative design, that it was made for my brother’s family and the date it was completed
  • The table was finished October 23. 2014

Presenting the Table to my Brother’s Family:

  • On Thanksgiving, we presented the table to the delight of my brother and his wife.
  • They love it so much, they’re going to put this into their dining room instead of their porch.

I really enjoy the clubs I’m in. I’ve met some really great people here. One of the clubs I really enjoy is the Master Gardeners.

This week I’ve had the privilege of organizing our Middle Tennessee District Fair Booth with a team of 7 people. Our theme this year is, “Celebrating the Garden Harvest”; kind of a Farm to Table theme. However, our theme focuses on a smaller scale audience; the gardener who enjoys harvesting and likes to enjoy feasting on it in the same environment he grows it in.

Here are some of the photos my friend, Sandi Pettus took for the Advocate (our local paper) which will be featured in Sunday’s edition about the fair. The article will be written by my friend, Emily Kennedy.


I am always reading about pet owners being reunited with their pets, but this time the happy ending is ours. Our beloved 8-year old dog Daisy, a Spaniel mix lost since July 8, was returned to us today.

After returning home from Nashville airport to drop off my son, we came home and Daisy was nowhere to be found. She had escaped from our back yard. It was a very scary night for any animal with lots of thunder and lightning. Had we known the kind of weather we’d have that night, we would have secured all the dogs in our kennel.

We sent messages to friends, neighbors, acquaintances, put up flyers around and basically got the word out. On Tuesday (day 7) with still no word on Daisy, I ran an ad in our local paper, The Advocate. On Wednesday, we came home and there was a message from a very nice man who described Daisy to a T and said he’d had her since Saturday, which meant she had been lost for 4 days before she found him. Unfortunately, by the time I got the message, it was 10 at night and all I could do was leave him a message and hope he’d return my call the following day. We were both hopeful and it was hard to sleep. The following morning, when I was looking at my phone trying to figure out the best time to call him back, he called me.

I asked the man how he found me. He said he been scanning the paper daily and finally saw our ad. He went on to say that when he found Daisy, she was injured. She had a large gash above her left leg. He had taken her to the pound, but they would not take an injured dog. So, he kept her and knew in his heart that someone would be looking for her.

Daisy had traveled 3.9 miles to this man’s farm which is far if you know Daisy. She never strays too far from home ever.

As we approached the farm, we could see Daisy in the yard. There was no fenced-in yard, so she was on a long rope tied to a tree. She looked good, but had lost some weight. She was extremely excited to see us as we were excited to see her.

The very nice man did not want a reward and said Daisy was pleasure to have.

When we got Daisy home, she was excited to see the other two dogs and they were happy to see her.

She went to the vet today and got 6 stitches, but checked out well otherwise and got sent home with antibiotics.

We are so happy to get her home. We’re so glad to get back the best dog any owner could ask for.

The Mother Load


Look at all these vegetables! Our 34 tomatoes plants are producing like crazy. This won’t be the last of our harvest!

My favorite is the Black Krim heirloom tomato plant a friend gave us. They taste like a tomato should. We also have yellow cherry tomatoes that are very sweet.

Three large pails of tomatoes were what we harvested last night! You just have to do something when you’ve got that much. It has to be canned.


Yellow Marinara

We started by roasting yellow cherry tomatoes and some garlic and food processed them. I added the mixture to a pot and added white wine, balsamic vinegar and fresh herbs. It made the most prettiest yellow marinara sauce. It didn’t make quite a quart after I used the food mill to remove the seeds, but it is a nice sweet sauce.

Roasted Root Veggies

Roasted Root Veggies

After I got the marinara started, we decided to roast our root veggies (carrots, beets, garlic, onions, red and purple potatoes) for dinner later. I love tossing them with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and sticking them in the oven at 425 for about 30 minutes. It’s pure heaven! It really brings out the sweetness in all the veggies.


Our Roma tomatoes are great for sun drying, so I always reserve them for that. Half of our harvest of Romas filled my 5 tier dehydrator. This will take about 2 days to dehydrate.

Roasted Salsa with Corn

Roasted Salsa with Corn

We decided afterwards that we still had too many tomatoes, so we decided to make salsa. It’s quite an undertaking and takes a good deal of kitchen space (and cleaning), but it’s well-worth the effort! We roasted about 5-7 pounds of tomatoes, food processed half the batch and cut up the rest. Chunky salsa is where it’s at for us. Since we grew corn and jalapenos, we added them, with onions, cilantro, lemon, lime, lime zest, salt, pepper and my favorite ingredient, Salsa Lizano (a Costa Rican product). This made about 10 quarts of salsa.

After all the recipes were done and ready, we started canning it all. Since they were all high-acid foods, we are used our new water-bath canner.

When we lowered the last jars into the canner, we were surprised by one of the Ball jars breaking when it hit the boiling water. Needless to say, it was a mess in there and we just had to let the rest of them boil in it and clean the outside of them afterwards.

It’s kind of funny, when I woke up, I thought we were going to be weeding the flower bed, but we ended up canning. I’m glad we did. We had to do something with all our produce. It won’t be the last of our canning for the year. I plan to have a little canning party with my friends next. I am looking forward to the company and the help.


What a difference 2 weeks makes. After coming back from California, I came home to a garden full of produce…and weeds, but not too bad. Eric’s been keeping up with it the best he can. We had 9 days of rain while I was gone and he couldn’t do much.

I spent most of the morning weeding. It’s already really hot here and even though I got up at 5 this morning and was done around 9, I was really sweating! There’s my workout for the day.

The Japanese beetles are here! Not pleased about that. I saw one on my beloved hollyhocks. The zinnias are multiplying, so I picked a bouquet for our table.

I picked the last of my carrots and tidied up the raised beds in the greenhouse. There’s still a lot of bunching onions, eggplant and peppers still growing. The tomato plants are all full of green tomatoes. It’s going to be a great growing season for them.

We picked zucchini and patty pan squash. Some of the plants had some root rot from all the rain and didn’t make it. There’s still going to be a lot. I guess you have to plan for some losses during the season.

My herb garden is doing good. I picked all our garlic and we’re drying them now in the sun. It looked like more than I planted. They’re going to taste great. I’m using one I picked and dried before I left in my fritatta this morning. It’s making the house smell great.

It feels good to be home. I didn’t miss the heat though. Looks like I’ll have to spend my mornings in the garden and my afternoons in the pool!


So good to have our good friend, Deb here from Buellton, California. Here’s a post from Deb’s perspective:

It’s Friday May 23rd, the day after my birthday, and the plane is landing in Nashville, Tennessee. I am so excited to be visiting my good friends, Eric and Michelle. It’s been a year since my last visit and I am looking forward to treasuring each day, experiencing new adventures, new tastes, and creating new memories in Loretto, Tennessee.

After I landed in Nashville, we kicked off my trip with a birthday dinner at Sperry’s in Franklin. We enjoyed pre dinner cocktails, an amazing scallop potato appetizer, then sat down to a delicious dinner. We had a celebratory toast to friendship.

Upon arriving Eric and Michelle’s farm, known as Summit’s Leap, my upstairs suite awaited me, with birthday gift goodies and fresh knowck-out roses from their backyard. Michelle left me cards she made especially for me.

The Memorial Day weekend is a time to be with family and friends. Michelle and Eric hosted a BBQ with 28 people. It was great to see Michelle’s family again (parents Mary and Don; brother Eric with Helen and the twins, Kira and Nola). So glad to meet Sandi and Freddie, and her good friend Laura from North Carolina, and Suzy from Cali, Joan, Milton and Jenny; Dianne, Emily and Kerry; Kay and Steve. Eric did a great job with the BBQ of chicken and ribs, accompanied by salads and lots of desserts!

On Memorial Day Monday, I was able to attend a salad workshop for Michelle’s little home business, Adventures of Alternative Cooking. I loved the three salads we made: portobella mushroom salad, Asian cabbage salad and Thai chicken salad.  Michelle was able to incorporate carrots, green onions and some herbs from their garden.

I got to take part in feeding the horses and riding Patriot in the arena.

I enjoyed a girl’s slumber party with Michelle, Sandi and Laura at Dianne’s Lake House in Florence, Alabama (on Lake Wilson). There is nothing better than being silly with your friends and laughing until you have tears streaming down your eyes. First time I got to taste Michelle’s home made banana ice cream. What a great time we had!


Being on vacation still means getting some exercise. Michelle invited me to her energized exercise class in Lawrenceburg on Wednesday. Their instructor, Marilyn, makes it fun and incorporates music into the exercise routine. After exercising, we counteracted our efforts by dining at Loretto’s new local pizzeria called Nana’s, for some delicious brick-oven pizza.

I also attended the local Lioness Club meeting with Michelle and met the mayor of Loretto and other city officials. The town pride was evident. It’s a great feeling to see the community pull together to attract visitors and foster growth.

I love playing card games and it’s been fun playing cribbage with Eric and learning 5 Crowns and Canasta. Another highlight was going to Bunco at Dianne’s house.  So much fun playing outside and listening to the girls talk about how much they loved to take their families to the beach (Gulf Shores and Desda). Being raised in Santa Barbara, California, and being able to go to the beach anytime really puts it in perspective. It makes me realize how fortunate I am to live in a wonderful city with mountains on one side and the ocean on the other. Thank goodness we don’t have the humidity like Tennessee!

My second weekend Eric and Michelle took me to Ethridge to visit the Amish country. Our first stop was at an Amish Gallery where Eric bought Michelle a beautiful rosewood ring box and I purchased homemade cashew brittle. Then they took me through the Amish neighborhood stopping off at individual homes offering canned good, fresh veggies, soap and decorative handmade baskets. We then headed to downtown Lawrenceburg and walked the Heritage Festival.

Our evening focused on the celebration of Eric’s upcoming birthday (June 6th) with a fabulous steak dinner and seeing his surprise and happiness at the great plane tool Michelle got him to accompany his saw tool. Of course, I shipped some California wine for my special friend Eric. Michelle made a great crisp apple dish and homemade banana ice cream for dessert. Just a wonderful day having dinner outside overlooking the meadows. Happy Birthday wishes to Eric!

To end my wonderful vacation here, we were invited over to Dianne’s for a shrimp boil! What a treat for me; they served ten  pounds of fresh shrimp, corn, potatoes and sausage in a huge serving bowl accompanied by fresh salads and fruit.

I am honored to have met Michelle and Eric’s friends. I feel like family here; experiencing farm life, seeing how they grow their veggies; planting new flowers, enjoying the animals (dogs, horses and cats) and even doing some of the maintenance like pulling weeds from the herb garden. I got to see many beautiful birds and even enjoyed some summer rain and thunder.

I will treasure this year’s trip and look forward to future visits to Loretto, Tennessee, especially, being spoiled by Eric and Michelle with their home cooked meals, from our morning coffee together, to breakfast fritattas, crustless spinach quiche, tequila chicken, black beans and black rice, and delicious steaks on the BBQ.


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