Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Decorating and Maintaining: A Seasonal Wreath of Repurposed Materials and Wood Butter (with a label download)

Playing a little catch up here! We've been busy - not so much so that it is a huge stress but enough so that it is a distraction. Our little one is in school most mornings now, which leaves the dog ever more excited about the possibility of a long, solitary walk when I arrive home to work. We've been quite social as well, a nice change of pace and a comfortable one as well since everything has been within walking distance.

 Slathered in Wood Butter - keep reading!

One of our recent forays was a "Bacon Party", which really was just an excuse to give our "Book Club" that never has a book nor discusses it, some meaning again. There were bacon-wrapped jalapeños, bacon chocolate chip-peanut butter cookies, piles of candied bacon, bacon vodkas, and a whole other slew of things I can't remember. Honestly, I couldn't even eat that much and I am still way overloaded by the thought of bacon - a perfect cure for cravings.

With the help of a few great websites (thanks Barb!) and a local game/hunting store (where I found my curing salts, go figure) I was able to cure my own bacon painlessly and quickly. I tried three types and brought them to the party with a vegetarian accompaniment on the side: a plain maple-brown sugar (candied and served with fresh, hot Beignets*), a Maple Bourbon (served with a cranberry, pie spiced sour cream dip), and a Jalapeño Tequila (served with a fresh guacamole). It was a smash and the Jalapeño Tequila was the first to go - the guys loved the subtle but building heat. Thankfully, we have plenty more dried jalapeño left from last year's garden. Christmas presents, anyone?

*Note: I make these beignets with butter instead of shortening with great success. They are divine!

 Before - an older spoon and a newer rolling pin (from Herriott Grace - a favorite Christmas gift!)

While we were at the Bacon Party I passed along a gift to a dear friend who I so respect and have been continually inspired by, Erica. Erica is smart, grounded, and graciously humble - someday, maybe soon, she'll be a hands-in-the dirt farmer on her own property but for now she teaches others how to love and steward the beautiful world around us. I knew Erica's birthday was coming and I wanted to give her something that wasn't wasteful, that respected resources and encouraged her to love what she already has...I choose Wood Butter. Thankfully, it was the right choice, and Erica used it to condition her husband's homemade cutting boards (he's crazy talented).

 After Wood Butter application

Wood butter is a super simple, easy to make, cream-like concoction you can put on your wooden cooking utensils to treat, protect, and polish them. Since I make mine with food-grade oils and beeswax you can feel safe using it on spoons, cutting boards and the like. You may have also heard Wood Butter referred to as Spoon Oil and it has been kicking around the internet for a while - I think Wood Butter fits better and I have to admit to some revisions in my recipe. You see, I am very allergic to mineral oil, and most recipes call for mineral oil, so I substitute with olive or grapeseed oils. That said, if you choose to do this you must be diligent to dispose of anything that might smell off or rancid, as a rancid rubbed spoon is difficult to salvage. I also like my Wood Butter a bit more soft and smooth so I use a 5:1 ratio of oil to beeswax instead of a 4:1 ration recommended most places. It is easy enough to make and play around with so have a go at it!

Click the image or the link below to download and print these labels

For your gift giving ease I'm making a download of the labels I made for Erica's gift available here. Just print, clip, and in my case I punched a hole and tied on with twine. I prefer the wide-mouth, more shallow jars for this job - like these, not the ones pictures, but almost anything will work and old jam jars would be lovely and repurposed!

Fun for outside

Finally, this past week I popped together a quick seasonal wreath. I saw a big bag of old plastic Easter eggs at a resale shop and passed them by. That night I realized how I could reuse them and I couldn't get back there fast enough. While I'm not normally one for pastel, plastic wreaths, the opportunity was right there and I knew it would be a festive reuse.

Almost done - a last layer of smaller eggs covers up the hoop nicely!

To make the wreath inexpensive, as well as give it a backbone I choose an embroidery hoop. Not only do you get two wreath bases out of one hoop, it is also a compostable and more earth-friendly option. About 15 minutes and some hot glue later here I was left nearly done - just one final layer of smaller eggs to cover up the showing backbone.

A run to the store and a few more eggs to finish the piece and here is the finished product. Total cost? $3.95.

Fun for inside!

Don't want an egg wreath? That's ok - I have another super fun idea coming your way with a download in the not too distant future! So hold on to those Easter eggs , there will be a any-ol-holiday you want reuse coming down the pipeline.

Hope you are enjoying some of the same glorious weather we've been having. It's hard to get any work done but so lovely! Perhaps you are making some useful re-purposed crafts as well?


Anonymous said...

I like the idea for wood butter! I might use it for a food swap in the future. I'm going to pin it:)

Tara said...

No glorious weather in my neck of the woods. Although a burst of sunshine, fog and baby rainbows waiting to be born arrived in my mailbox recently. So, you know, that was pretty wonderful. :o)

Love both of these ideas. I have a love hate relationship with my wooden spoons because when my skin is dry even the though of touching dry wood or paper makes my skin crawl. A nicely conditioned wooden spoon sounds divine!

Barbara | Creative Culinary said...

A bacon party...oh yum! Really your post has two of my favorite things; bacon and wood butter (can I tell you how many people think I've really made butter with a wood product in it? don't want to know).

So glad you tried the bacon. I just made 20#; one sweet and one savory. I can not tell a lie...I like the sweeter version. I sold shares and it seems from feedback the guys like the spicier take and the woman love that maple bourbon business!