The Violet Fern

A Colorful Tale of a Garden in the Making


Welcome to the Carnival Ride

Well, I realize it’s been over a month (!!!) since I have posted … some crazy ride. October, already, and whereas I usually looked to the Fall with dread for the dead, I now look forward to my next ride to Cedar Key, FL. Becoming one of the migrating instead of one of the observers of migration has completely changed my life. Speaking of which, the Grackles, the Red-wings, the Hummingbirds – all gone – hasta la vista baby! (or as us gardeners like to say hosta la vista!). The bitch is back, though – Wicked Wind of the West – oh yeah, she’s moving right in and the leaves are beginning to change, and the weeds are making seeds and more weeds and being spread around – such LOVE.

So, since it has been so long I thought I’d catch up with you. Let’s look at some of the highlights and what’s ahead on my crazy carnival ride.

The nights are getting cooler, Halloween and Thanksgiving are looming and and it’s just about freezer pesto time! I am still Vegan, and probably will be for life.

This is how I “Veganize” my freezer pesto:

I am not one for measuring and I have a small mini food processor but it makes a big enough batch for two small jars of pesto. I just keep making batches until I run out of basil. In spite of my neglect, I have a good patch of basil this year. The purple has such an intense and insanely delicious taste.


Recipe per batch.

I soak about a cup of raw cashews in water and then throw it all into the food processor.

I add about two to three cloves of garlic. (I had a successful garlic harvest, too. Here it is drying in my shed.)


Squeeze in the juice of about half a lemon.

Add about a 1/4 good quality EVOO (I pour and count to four)

Add about 2 Tbs nutritional yeast

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Mix to perfection (add a little water if too thick)

Place into small glass jars and freeze

Surprisingly tricky, a lot of candy is Vegan but I am not a candy girl and have taken to shutting off all the lights, making myself scarce instead of scary, and sitting out Halloween in some dark bar. Scrooge-like I know, but hey, it keeps me from eating and serving candy – a food (???) I do not feel good about. I would rather hand out seeds! I am hoping to catch the Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Clayton Opera House for a little bit of scare, though.

Thanksgiving I hope to adopt a turkey again, rather than eat one, through Farm Sanctuary. In fact I am conducting a fundraiser to raise farm animal awareness if you are at all interested you can donate – even the tiniest amount – HERE. I am passionate about this lifestyle change and feel Fantastic with a capital “F.” Feel free to ask me any questions about adopting a plant-based/Vegan lifestyle. I am way too happy to share.

We (my husband, I, and my furry compadre Mojo) have taken to traveling Thanksgiving day – the traffic is minimal and I now prefer to celebrate what I dub “Food Fest.” Looking forward to stopping, with a very empty stomach, in Asheville NC on my ride down to Cedar Key where there are more breweries per capita than any other U.S. city and LOTS of art galleries, and crazy good Vegan eateries. Two of my favorites are the Laughing Seed Cafe and Plant. You can bet I will be indulging (in lieu of Thanksgiving and traditional holiday gluttony) in both of these fine establishments.


View from the Blueridge Mountain Parkway in/near Asheville NC

Next stop Tiki Bar in Cedar Key! My favorite, Low Key Hideaway. Now that’s grateful celebrating folks!

I still have not found time to reconnect with my garden but this afternoon I plan to reintroduce myself.


Doesn’t Mojo look like a little ghost out there in the garden? Boo!

Thank you to all who gave me great advice on how to manage my garden. It is certainly appreciated and I cannot wait to get into action soon. I did manage to machete some of the vines growing into the Spruce tree and Maple. Tweaked my back a bit doing it – ladder yoga with pruners – but nothing I can’t recover from and there’s no stopping me. I have to redesign my garden for minimal maintenance and you can continue to follow along to see how I do it. I just don’t have the stamina to garden at Thousand Islands Park days and then come home and weed some more or tend to my own garden all weekend when I would rather be … drumroll, this is the BIGGEST attraction on this ride … at the LAKE!

My unbelievably lucky husband and I came across a 5 acre lakefront property on one of the Indian River Lakes here in Northern NY. It has been our dream to own a lakefront property and I thought we were quite a few years away from that, but our dream is happening now! We plan to build as we go, and as the cash flows, an off the grid cabin that is a role model of lakefront preservation. Since we do not have children, and dependent upon the interest of my nieces, we plan to donate the cabin for learning/education to the Indian River Lakes Conservancy when we have passed on. The conservancy already owns an island on the lake with hiking trails. Our goal is to not tax the lake in any way. For now we camp it. Our first night there we heard quite a few coyotes (!!!), owls, and there are two nesting pairs of loons on the lake.


Our campsite

The lake doesn’t allow jet skis or any motors over 10 horse even if you are a resident of the lake. We ourselves invested in two used kayaks – hello my new favorite pastime!

The Blue Bomber (hers) and the Red Rocket (his)

The Blue Bomber (hers) and the Red Rocket (his)

It is W-I-L-D and I absolutely love it there. There will not be a garden per say. I probably will plant some opportune natives (along with some native plants that I’ll be ripping out of the Violet Fern garden so they can roam large and in charge across all that space), but there will not be any mowing of grass or lawn, or weeding. Of course, I will have to plant a tree or two in spite of the forest only because I love trees. Here are a few photos of my new found paradise on Grass Lake.



This looks almost like a deliberate moss rock table garden doesn’t it? But I found it on the property just as is.


In spite of working like a dog through the dog days of Summer – I literally sweat buckets, I did manage to get some camping in a couple weeks ago with my sister (who also is adopting a Vegan lifestyle) before closing on our lakefront property. We had such a great time making Vegan camp food. Here is our camp breakfast of chickpea flour omlettes and hash browns before hiking up Bear Mountain (sorry, I ate half of it before remembering to take a photo!).


We camped at Cranberry Lake in the Adirondacks – a campground I highly recommend if you want to camp lakeside without property taxes. It is a well maintained, scenic campground with lakeside sites and the trailhead up to Bear Mountain right within the facility.


Our campsite #47 at Cranberry Lake

The hike is moderate (maybe even difficult to some), but the view is a great pay off.


I love to celebrate Autumn (Donna at Garden’s Eye View!) by camping out in the woods where one can feel, taste and breathe in the change of the seasons. It is my favorite season to camp.

I also managed to squeeze in an online workshop on building a freelance illustration business this summer. I would like to freelance illustrate more in the future. Less physical and also something I really enjoy. In an effort to become more adept I have embarked upon a self imposed 100 day challenge where I complete one illustration/drawing a day. Today is Day 33. Originally I wanted to draw plants or something from the garden but I am discovering that I really enjoy drawing food, too! I post my illustration on instagram daily. If you are not on instagram you can also receive an update now and then on my Facebook artist page. Here is a summary of my first 30 days of the challenge:


This winter I plan to work on a personal project and that is an adult coloring book with pictures themed around the beautiful St. Lawrence River. This fall and winter I will also be reorganizing. November I will be reorganizing, purging, moving my horrendous office into a larger room of the house.


Look for changes to the Violet Fern blog. Down in Cedar Key where I can actually stop and think, I will be reorganizing my blog and artist web site into one. One day I hope to open the Violet Fern Garden complete with art studio to the public. The new organization will begin to set the stage for that to happen.

So, the name of this carnival ride? Spinning wheel! Whoopie!