Saturday, July 31, 2010

Hello Saturday!

Hurrah! The weekend!

A few things I am looking forward to, in no particular order:

WeekendSitting

+ a glass of wine and a husband to have long chats about nothing

Bed

Sleeping in, or naps, or just snuggling with a book.

Books

Definitely a book or two. Or five. I read more than one book at once - I'm a good way into 3 at the moment.

Garden1

And, if I feel like it, maybe some gardening. Or not. Or yes.

Oh the promise of a weekend!

What are your grand weekend plans?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Forgotten Friday

A Friday tradition. Something forgotten, made still life - usually toys that were loved but abandoned.

FingerPaint

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cheese m'petes!

So, I adore cheese - LOVE IT! I especially love local and American cheeses - 1) because the love and care in smaller batches is just better and 2) because it has a significantly lesser carbon footprint than others, distance-wise. Some of my favorites are below.

Cheese1

Our farmer's market has a great cheese monger (who, apparently, only exist at farmer's markets and as a delivery service in the off season. Who knew?). I somehow manage to miss the fresh made mozzarella nearly every week. Sigh. No matter, everything they offer is amazing.

Cheese3

This week we enjoyed the ever delicious Raspberry Bellavitano from the Wisconsin company Sartori - the cheese monger's site describes it like so: "To this eater it tastes like an Irish cheddar caught breakdancing with a young piece of asiago. Then they and the whole dance floor get soaked in a tart raspberry ale from the venerable New Glarus Brewery. Gently soaked though, cuz they were dancing really well." I would say that's about right - it's sharp and crumbly like an excellent parmesan but buttery and deep like a cheddar. It's so, so good.

Cheese2

Some favorites, in no particular order:

Rogue Creamery (especially: Smokey Blue, oh my goodness is this good - a more subtle flavor than most blue with smoky accents, yum!)

Black Star Farms (especially:Aged Raclette)

Cypress Grove Chevre (Try: Truffle Tremor, a Humbolt Fog made with truffles instead of ash!)

Cowgirl Creamery

Chapels Creamery

Beechers (especially: Flagship Reserve. They sell Mac & Cheese kits too!)

Estrella Family Creamery (especially: Caldwell Crik Chevrette, Dominoes, Darla)

Pholia Farms - who are OFF THE GRID! (especially: Elk Mountain)

Beehive Cheese Company (especially: Barely Buzzed Cheddar - hand rubber with lavender infused coffee from Colorado.

What's your favorite cheesy treat?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Can you do it?

Forgive me for the utterly cheesy title - it's been clanging about in my head for days.

I only learned to can last year. I've been wanting to do it for ages but just never did. Finally, aided with a few ancient books from my grandmother and a new hot water bath canning set I made my first jams. Peach, to be exact. It was runny. It was very runny - but oh so delicious! It was nicknamed "liquid gold". I couldn't leave well enough alone and had to add my own twist - nutmeg.

A handful of recipes and oodles of research under my belt this year is significantly more productive. So far we're pretty set in the jam department - raspberry, peach spice, red currant, peach, raspberry...and blueberry sauce. See, berry flavors we've got covered. There are oodles more strawberries in the freezer awaiting their fate, whatever that may be.

Canning1

The plain peach and blueberry sauce were only a few days ago. And this time...I added more peach juice to make it runny. On purpose. I like it that way.

RedCurrantJelly

I'm wary to make any edits to canning recipes - and not without justification - those canning books make you think that a few hours after you manage to pull your wagon into the mountains after decades in the plains that your whole family will die of botulism. So add enough lemon juice - make sure the acid is right!

Canning2

Truly, there is more room for variation. And there are oodles of books. Plenty of room for improvising, research, and ideas. A friend of mine is prolific in her canning - I can't wait to get a picture of her cabinet someday - loaded with goodness! She's given me a Raspberry Chocolate Sauce recipe I can't wait to try (among other things!)

Next up? A Balsamic Fig Confit. Pickles. Pickles of all varieties!

Have you canned before? Did the books terrify you a bit? What's your favorite recipe?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Love the local eggs

Em, the husband, went to pick up our CSA the other day and we got a little surprise with our share - eggs! I love fresh, local eggs.

Eggs3

I love the way they are all different sizes, sometimes different colors, a lovely ecclectic mix of shapes, colors, even patterns.

Eggs2

Of course I imagine some other farms offer a more consistent package (size-wise) but I like it this way. I like being able to open the package and say, mmm, "just a little egg", or "I'm starving, that one!"

Eggs1

What's even more wonderful is the way the humidity is playing with things lately. The moment I walk out the door my camera lens becomes a clouded over mess - but these eggs got a delightful sheen on them, little droplets of water arranged themselves just so.

Eggs4

Hurrah for eggs. I hope we get that surprise again sometime!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Marinara, bruschetta, oh my, tomato pie!

Fittingly, my friend Jenny submitted a lovely photo of some tomatoes - with an equally lovely story - on the day I harvested our first bunch of tomatoes from our garden. It's a very tomato-y day!

8

Jenny's {every}nothing tomatoes are from a farm she can nearly walk to (despite living in a relatively urban area). She took her two daughter's on a tour and let's just say - fun was had! Aside from the amazing purpose of the farm - "a not-for-profit, organic farm that provides inclusive employment opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities" there is even better news to report. Their CSA (community supported agriculture - see below if you need more info) is so popular there is a lottery system for shares. Now, I realize that that could be quite frustrating for those who want local, organic food...but...how amazing! How wonderful! How great a testament to the public at large that we can create demand for a small farm so great that they can flourish, and, in fact, have a waiting list! One of the farms in my community has the same sort of demand and issues. Such a shame. Such a glorious, glorious shame!

Our local farm has such amazing abundance that they actually glean the extras from the fields with help from volunteers and give the fresh, organic produce to local food pantries. Also, such a shame, no?

Tomatoes1

Our starter plants for tomatoes this year came from a combination project of the local school and the local farm working together to educate the children about all things ecological and to raise necessary funds for their education. Every year there is an organic plant sale and the kids, their parents, volunteers and teachers get together to sell off tons of starter plants - and we take advantage! This year we have some plum tomatoes, sungold and black cherry tomatoes.

Tomatoes2

ABOUT CSAs: A CSA is basically buying shares of a farm's produce and bounty in advance. You pay a fee for a certain number of shares of the harvest. Every week, every other week, or whatever pre-arranged agreement is set forth, you go and pick up your 'shares' - usually a box of goods. Our CSA runs weekly from May through October. Some CSAs are purchased by season, by variety or offering (vegetables, meat, cheeses, eggs, honey, flowers, fish, etc) - so, while the setup and final products vary the idea is still the same: you pay, in advance, so that the farmer can purchase seeds or what they need. Then, as their products are ready for market, you get first dibs on all the lovely offerings of produce and more. A CSA is a great way to support your farmers, get variety into your routine, help nurture a healthy local economy, and re-establish personal relationships that influence and readjust your relationship with food (you'll be shocked at how much less waste there is when you know exactly where things came from).

Personally, I suggest everyone try a CSA at least once. I'm pretty sure you won't go back though - it's amazing what attaching a personal relationship can do for your relationship to food.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

More joy, every day

I also contribute here, at Habit.

I love habit. It is, truly, a beautiful habit. A combination of poetry and words, celebrations of moments and days, a reminder to be still and to move, to love and to appreciate.

This month they have opened their Flickr pool up to their readers for a collaboration of days, moments, joys, successes, questions, comments, contemplation, community.

One from yesterday:

7/24/10

Presented itself, gossamer gift, when I wasn't looking.
Who knew it took so much to hold wings on and so little to fly.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Getting a little perspective

I've been participating in the Shrimp Salad Circus "Get Perspective Project". It really is a project more than a contest, but, of course, ever competitive in nature, I couldn't help but want to be one of the few featured as the "winners" last week. It's ridiculous, I realize, especially in light of the fact that I joined for the creative challenge. I had to, as ever, reframe my objectives and move forward with a new perspective...a happy accident of the project's purpose on a larger scale.

Each installment features a single word as the focus/purpose. Participants submit a photo to the Flickr pool and shortly after the deadline Lindsay features 5 (or so) contributors and links their blog or etsy site. The second installment of the challenge is the word "tangled".

Here's my submission:

Tangled

I'm not sure how I feel about this photo, to be honest. It's growing on me more and more. My first thoughts for "tangled" were; hair, spiderweb, grasses, cords, bedsheets...but I photographed them all and wasn't really thrilled. There was something too lackluster in the pictures. I'm not sure if it was my lack of emotion in relation to the subjects or what.

The ball you see was one of the decorations at our wedding. A smaller, more dense version of the same ball, glued to a similar napkin ring and cut through at the top served to hold our table markers/signs. It was a hardest problem to solve for our wedding creatively and the project that I was most proud of. Completely unnecessary? Probably. Totally unnoticeable? Probably that too. But for some reason I have an affinity for the solution and the structure.

Metaphorically speaking it makes sense that a tangled mess of a ball is a mainstay in a wedding. Truly that's what a wedding is in so many ways - both the entanglement of lives and families and the roundabout redundancy of life traditions. The entanglement of a marriage is truly a celebration of order in chaos, of all the wild and imperceptible life choices that somehow crash together in a union and grand decision of commitment (and I mean marriage in the larger sense here - both a legal union or a decided upon commitment).

So the wicker ball it is. Plus, it was a great subject to practice with. As many of you know I don't have a whole lot of fancy equipment. This was taken with a piece of scrap sintra my husband brought home from work, an open window, and a held breath (since every little thing made that ball roll away). The weather was overcast but bright so it was fun to experiment with light and angles.

A few other options I decided against:

Tangled_Grasses
Too um, grassy?

Tangled_Flag
Too, um, metaphorical for the American political, economic and social state?

Tangled_GPP
Too um, dense?

This installment of the Get Perspective Project ends August 1st - so hurry over and contribute if you'd like to join in the fun (here and here). Try to enjoy the process and not make it a competition though, ok?

One last one for you all - my first submission - for the word "gone":

Nest1

Friday, July 23, 2010

Forgotten Friday

A Friday tradition. Something forgotten, made still life - usually toys that were loved but abandoned.

RingsStack

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hello Yellow

Lovely day for a sunshine and flowers, isn't it?

HelloYellow

TallFlowers

Avocado Experiment

I'm not sure why but when I ate my avocado today I thought "I wonder what the skin of this is like when it's dried"...like a gourd perhaps? Like leather, it looks a big like it? So I scrubbed out the inside and popped it out in the sun to dry.

Avocado2

A few hours later it was fully dried out and hard, but brittle. The halves warped a little and shrunk. Overall, though, the effect was interesting...useable.

Avocado1

I would imagine if you placed the shell of the skin around a mold you could form some very pretty little bowls. For what, I have no idea. Stamps? Paperclips?

Avocado3

We don't eat enough avocados to do a lot of experimentation but give it a try if you do!

Here Comes The Sun

ClosedSunflower

Lesson of the year?

Nothing blooms where you plant it.

Sure, you might plant a tomato plant right there, in the middle of your garden, and it may grow there. You might harvest the tomatoes, put them in a sauce, pass them to a neighbor who just had a baby, or a bad day. You might put them in a tart for your husband or in a salad for yourself. The skins might go in the compost. But where did the little seed really bloom? Did it bloom when it made the flower that turned into the tomato? Did it bloom when it's victory fruit was lovingly passed along to make another's day brighter? Or did it achieve greatness in enriching the soil of the earth?

For some reason this year nearly nothing (other than vegetables) has grown, or bloomed, where the seed was planted. Things pop up in the dardest places. I have chamomile 20 feet from the box that was designated and sunflowers across a path from their place.

Nothing blooms where you plant it. Plant a seed of an idea and you never know when or where it will manifest. Plant a seed of hope and you never know who will take heart. Just plant your seeds lovingly and you never know where beauty may pop up.

Our lovely sunflower:

SunFront

SunflowerLeaf

SunBack2

Monday, July 19, 2010

gearing up for crafty time

Getting ready to get crafty. I've got my eco felt. I've got ideas. Time...well, a little short of that yet but I'm still excited.

Although, I have to say, as I was piling up my felt yesterday I was having a little bit of a hard time imagining it all cut apart. It's just so, so...pretty!

See what I mean?


Felt3

Sure, a little trippy, so what?

Felt2

It's just that I have a love affair with color is all.

Felt4

felt1

What are some of your favorite felt-y crafts?

Any ideas on what I'm thinking of making? No cheating for the two of you who already know!