July 30, 2013

Tidbit Tuesday (keeping greens fresh)

Tis the season for farmers markets. I hope you have a local one that you can enjoy. I adore farmers markets, we go every week.  It's always a surprise to see what's newly sprouted and it's such a joy to interact with the farmers. I love supporting their hard work. This is really the first year we've bought so much at the farmers market. At least half of our food budget is spent there.

We can't seem to get enough of the heirloom cherry tomatoes, lettuce and basil. We've been eating a variety of big salads lately and constantly mmmmming over the goodness of the ingredients. If you've never put fresh basil on your salad you are really missing out. It adds such a depth of flavor.

I remember when I first bought lettuce at the farmers market, I was shocked that the roots were still on. How silly right!?!? I don't remember ever seeing roots on lettuce before... I decided that I would just put the lettuce in a jar of water like you would a bouquet of flowers.


It works! Not only is it beautiful but the lettuce lasts. There's only 2 people to feed in our house and usually that means buying fresh means buying frequent. I can't tell you how many times in the past we've bought a bag of lettuce only for it to go bad a few days later. This lettuce in a jar of water lasts for over a week! I've been doing it with other greens too. Like the basil. Even things with no roots seem to last much longer this way. I just make sure the steams only are in the water. I leave the jars right out on the counter although you could probably put them in the fridge if you feel like they are starting to go, to extend the life even longer.



How do you keep your produce fresh? By the way the winner of the poufs giveaway is Elizabeth! You are going to LOVE them. I'm sad that not very many people entered the giveaway. Everybody must be enjoying the last days of summer instead of reading blogs and I don't blame you one bit. Make sure you stop by Juniper Seed Mercantile sometime, they've got some amazing products.

July 29, 2013

Hoop Art

We live in an old farm house, it's actually over 100 years old. We have fallen in love with it. It's had several upgrades and additions over the years all of which add character and tell a story. We've been updating things and making them our own slowly but surely. We want to stay true to the character that is already here while not spending much money. One of the areas of our home that has needed an uplift is part of our staircase. I'm not really sure what to call this shelf like area and I'm not really sure what purpose it serves...


So what would you call that area? We've bounced around lots of ideas for it. It's a great place to display cards, especially during Christmas, as long as the ceiling fan is off. We've also considered just ripping it out and putting in a half railing. As you can imagine I wanted nothing breakable in that area because it would be too easy for things to get knocked off.  So I finally decided to do an art installation of sorts. My first thought, thick free standing canvasses with my photography transferred on to them. It didn't quite work like I envisioned. Then I got inspired to make hoop art. I actually made some hope art for a very special someone's 18th birthday.



I made 18 separate pieces. It was fun to watch her open each one. I love that hoop art can be arranged in so many different ways and is lightweight. What made it unique was printing my photography onto needlework fabric and stitching it on. That's what I finally decided would be perfect for our staircase area. It helped that I found a stash of burlap bags in the basement which provided some great inspiration.




First I gathered some vintage embroidery hoops, thread, fabric, burlap and ribbons. Then I printed off some images, laid everything out and came up with a plan.

Then I printed out the images I chose onto needlework fabric.


And here are the final results:


I'm really pleased with how it turned out. It's such a fun easy way to add art to a space. What do you think? I hope I've sparked an idea and you are inspired to try some hoop art yourself. Let me know if you do, I would love to hear about it.



July 25, 2013

Reusable Poufs and Giveaway

Yesterday I posted all about my recent journey for ridding my home of paper towels & napkins and using cloth only. I've felt very convicted recently about my personal waste. In case you missed it click HERE or keep scrolling down. A lot of this began when I ran out of cotton balls. I use a cotton ball every night to apply Grapeseed Oil to my face. Yes you read that correctly. Curious why? You can read all about it HERE. Anyway I was grumpy because I put cotton balls on the shopping list and my husband went shopping that week and forgot to pick them up, I was completely out.  It then hit me that I was willing to stop using paper towels and napkins but continued to throw away a cotton ball every night. Not to mention cotton balls come in a lovely plastic bag that also adds to the waste. I considered trying a wash cloth but it seemed too cumbersome for applying a little oil to my face and I was also concerned it would hold bacteria and get nasty fast. I started to do some research and thinking and that's when I found these.

They are perfect in every way! Made out of organic unbleached cotton flannel they are so soft. I feel like I'm having a spa experience every time I use them. They are hand crafted by the talented mother & daughter team over at Juniper Seed Mercantile. They clean really well and are durable. The poufs even come with a washbag so that when you launder them they stay together. 


I actually haven't even used the wash bag yet. I use one side of the pouf to apply oil to my face then I rinse it out and hang it to dry on my towel rack.  They come clean so easily I was shocked. Then I use the other side the following night. After I've used one pouf a few times I stick it in the wash bag, the wash bag still isn't full yet since I keep washing them in the sink and reusing them. This routine has worked really well for me.   

Did I mention that they send a sample with every purchase? I got the cutest little container of facial cleanser, it was such a surprise. This stuff is awesome! I'm sold and can't wait to try out more of their products.


That brings me to a BIG announcement! One of you lucky people will get to try these products for yourself. The wonderful ladies at Juniper Seed Mercantile have graciously offered to giveaway a set of poufs to one of you!!!! I thought this was perfect timing considering I'm getting ready to launch the Unpaper Swap August 1st. 

Here's how you can enter the giveaway:

#1 Head on over to the Juniper Seed Mercantile on Etsy and then comment below telling me which product you would love to try the most. 

#2 If you're a follower leave a comment letting me know and you'll be entered for another chance.

#3 Share the giveaway on Twitter, Facebook, on your own blog... comment letting me know how you shared. 

**********************Giveaway CLOSES at Midnight on July 30th**********************



Disclaimer: I ordered these products myself and fell in love so I couldn't wait to share them with you. The only thing that Juniperseed Mercantile gave for free is this giveaway to 1 lucky reader. Thanks to JM for being so awesome!

July 24, 2013

Unpaper Products

I've been convicted lately about my personal waste. I'm working towards having no paper towels or napkins in my home and no longer using plastic bags. It's a journey that takes one step at a time. I've learned a lot along the way and am still learning. One major thing I've learned is the importance of convenience. That's why I use so many paper towels and napkins, they are handy and easy. This means I need to make using cloth convenient. There are many ways I can do that. One way is by having them available everywhere I would need them and easy to get to, no reaching in drawers or under cabinets with messy hands. They need to be in my bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, basement and garage; anywhere and everywhere there is potential for a need.



I'm planning to replace the towel holder that's on the wall in the kitchen with a hanging basket where I can stack towels. So where I used to reach for paper I can reach for cloth, which means I'm not making things harder on myself.  I've also learned it's necessary to have a plan in place for what to do with the cloth towel once it's soiled. A plan can be walking the cloth to the laundry room and placing it in a bucket or laundry basket. To make it even easier you can hang a wet bag in the areas where you're most likely to use cloth towels, like the kitchen, or you could have a bucket under the sink.

Some families use paper napkins and paper towels. We've always been one of those families. Although a paper towel sometimes takes the place of a napkin. They can be helpful when covering something to warm up in the microwave or holding the hot dish when it comes out. Do you know what I mean? So to me paper towels and paper napkins are interchangeable.

Another thing I've learned along the way is it's so much fun using cloth! It really makes things feel special. There are such a variety of colors and patterns it's unbelievable. Right now the majority of cloth I've invested in is the practical white cloth towels. I thought they would be easier to keep clean looking and more durable. Getting some of the fun pretty stuff motivates me though; to keep using cloth and never look back. I mean wouldn't you much rather wipe your mouth or the mouth of your child with a soft cotton fabric then a toxic, rough, bleach filled paper product?



Each time we get paid I buy a few more unpaper products. That way we can have a stash built up and ready for our every need. This brings me to some exciting news. I want to share this unpaper product joy with you my faithful readers and the world! I've always thought it would be so much fun to host a swap. I participate in the calendar swap every year over at Design Crush. I love picking out the perfect calendar for my swapmate and then wait in giddy anticipation for what I will get in return. It's always a wonderful surprise! With that being said I'm going to be hosting an Unpaper Swap here on the blog. No I'm not telling everyone to rid their homes of paper towels and napkins. I'm just hoping to inspire, encourage and have some fun! Having a beautiful cloth towel to use could result in a little less waste. Hopefully we can all agree that a little less waste will make our beautiful planet enjoyable for future generations. There will be lots more details coming soon so stay posted! Don't hesitate to share the image below with your friends or on your own page. The more people who are involved in the swap the more fun it will be!



                                                         


July 18, 2013

Raised Garden Beds

I know it's the middle of summer and if you have a garden it was probably started a long time ago. I've been wanting to share this project with y'all for a while now. I always had a fear that when I started blogging I might run out of things to say. That's definitely not the case. I have too much to say and not enough time to actually share it all. Is it just me or is blogging a little more time consuming than you envisioned? We do it because we love it though, right! Now onto these awesome boxes.

Raised garden beds aren't just for people with small spaces to work with. They are very helpful for a variety of reasons. And when I say raised garden bed that's what I mean. Not something that just a few inches off the ground with a pretty boarder.



I could write a very long list as to why raised garden beds are awesome. For me the main reason was that we just moved to a new area and know nothing about it. We don't know what grows here, what the soil is like, what the seasons are like... This makes for some challenges when starting a garden. Of course I've done all sorts of reading and learned a lot about the area in a short period of time but just like anything in life the best way to learn is hands on. 

These type of garden beds allow for you to be in control of the soil. You could really do some fun experiments and plant all tomatoes but use local soil in one box and use store bought soil in the others. Raised Garden beds also are MUCH easier to maintain. There are very few weeds that grow and it's so easy on your back and knees because you can stand and work. Even better they can be handicap accessible as long as they are on an easy path to get to. We placed ours by the creek so they would be easy to water. The good thing is it's no problem to move them around. In case there are strong storms, frost or just because. 

We actually have plenty of property in which we could have a garden but this seemed like the best way for us to ease into gardening. It was something I wanted to figure out for a while and then when I saw these drawers just laying on the side of the road I knew exactly what I was gonna do with them. This project was much simpler than building raised beds myself. Of course if you don't have much space for a garden this would definitely be the perfect option for you. 


Here's how I made my raised garden beds:

I chose to paint mine the brightest colors I could find. Since I was doing this project right after what seemed like a long, dreary winter I was desperate for color. My husband was shocked at first thinking maybe they were a little too bright. What do you think? 


I've found lots of uses for the slate that came off the original roof of our farm house. I used them as plant markers and wrote with a paint pen, which looks like chalk, but is actually durable. You might remember Apple Brie I made and served on slate. It's so fun to be able to reuse the shingles in this way. 

You might be wondering what I actually planted in my boxes. I decided to choose whatever sounded good at the time and just go for it. Of course I wanted to keep it limited the first time around so I only chose 4 things: peppers, tomatoes, watermelon and okra. The tomatoes are doing fabulously. Although I can't say the same for the other plants, only time will tell. It's always a good sign when tomatoes start to flower!


Hope y'all will enjoy something from the garden this summer whether it's from yours, a friends or a local farmers. Nothing beats fresh!  As always don't hesitate to write :) 

July 2, 2013

Summertime

Summer has officially arrived. Can you believe it's July already? With great weather and longer days it's a challenge to force myself to get on the computer and do anything. I push myself to enjoy the light and being outside and then I plan to get on the computer at night. But it never fails, once the sun is down I'm ready for bed.

What have you been up to so far this summer? Back in May, not officially summer yet, we took a trip down to the south and experienced the most breathtaking sunset.


Trust me it gets better, I still haven't gone through those pictures yet and have taken hundreds more various pictures in between that trip and now that I still need to go through.

Since May we've celebrated 3 birthdays and an Anniversary. We went on a tour of a tile factory outside of Philly that makes tiles using historical methods. Swam with a view of the New York city skyline and experienced the Jersey Shore for the first time.

I've also been busy throwing pottery again. I took this video hoping to share it on Instagram. Have you seen that you can share 15 second videos now? I didn't realize until after the fact that you have to actually take the video through Instagram. It's a pretty fun feature. I thought it would be interesting to show the trimming of a pot, which is very hard to do with one hand by the way.

video

I've felt so blessed to be throwing pottery again, but at the same time heartbroken. I long for my own space so desperately. I can't even describe how complete I feel when I'm throwing pottery. The place I found is actually in someone's garage and it's about a 30 minute drive. So I'm really trying to determine if it's worth it. Is it worth the gas? Is it worth the fee I have to pay? If you know anything about pottery you know there are many steps involved with the process, not being able to check on my pieces everyday, trying to estimate how fast they will dry is difficult. It's also very lonely except for the resident curious cats, which I'm very allergic to by the way.


These cats are so sweet and really are a lot of fun to watch. I think they enjoy watching me too.



Throwing pottery in this space is actually lonely. I was really hoping to find a community to learn from like I had when I lived in Omaha, but there's really no one ever around when I'm there. Sometimes it's really nice and relaxing to be alone with your art. But I feel so lonely in all other areas of my life and so empty.

I long for friendships and connections, which we can't seem to make very easily here. I think it must be our age... We have visited so many churches in our area hoping to find a place to belong, a family. Very rarely is there anyone around our age to connect with and if there is they have children. Don't get me wrong I have nothing against children but I feel like it's harder to build friendships and connect with people who have kids. I also get the impression that people find it so strange I've been married for 6 years and don't have children yet. I find myself desperately searching everywhere I go for someone, anyone who I can relate to and connect with.

On a more positive note these orange flowers have been popping up all over the place around here.


There have been mounds of them lining the roads and I always want to stop and take a picture but there's never a good place to get out. They are Daylilies! It amazes me that such an ornate flower is growing up everywhere like a wildflower would. It reminds me of something you would buy at the store but they are sprouting up so organically around here.


I've been working on quite a few projects that I'm looking forward to sharing with y'all. Also I've been trying lots of new foods and recipes. I'm in love with celery these days, which is weird because I always hated celery. I recently did a lifestyle change to help with my energy and pain. I'm working really hard on eating no dairy or gluten. I really believe it's making a difference. I'm even running regularly now, I'm training for a half marathon in the fall. This is a huge undertaking for me, considering I've had 3 surgeries in the last 3 years.


Looking forward to catching up with you all. Let me know how your summer is going. Take care!