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Archive for June, 2008

crafting

Very busy around here the last week or so.  I’ll touch on one thing that I find myself drifting to constantly.  Crafting of any kind: sewing, paper arts, making soaps or other household goods, etc.  Right now a clothesline is in the works as are new curtains for the bedroom and kitchen.   If I can make it myself, I like to give it a try 🙂

 

Recently I was a test-sewer for Craft Apple.  Craft Apple has some great patterns and this car organizer was just what we needed for a long car trip (two days in the car each way!)  The girls ended up using it and stored their paper, stickers, crayons, tissues, and a trash-bag in here as well as other odds and end they didn’t want rolling under the seats.  I used fabric that was in my stash and can’t wait to make another one a bit more to my taste in fabric for the front seat of our mini van.  I need someplace for maps, cell phone, note pad, tissues, wet-wipes, emergency diaper, and a pencil or two.   I would rate myself as a beginner sewer for this type of project, though I have sewed off and on for many years so my actual sewing level I would figure at an intermediate.  It was first time sewing with this amount of bulk.  My machine handled it well and if I had the time I would take it apart and re-sew the lining to the exterior as I know see how I could have made that much smoother.

As always, my photography skills need help, so here’s the best I’ve got on my project:

Craft Apple Car Organizer

 

Next couple posts, I will detail a road trip I recently took with a friend.  We visited two specific places.  A small town with lots of craft/antique stores and then a big box IKEA store.  Some comparisons to be made (some obvious, some not) and a couple photos as well (sorry, I promise to get better at photos as soon as the twins are out of diapers!)  I also will post a little about some of the wild-crafting and herbs that we are doing in our house (including a wonderful recipe for Lavender Lemonade!)

 

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Better late than never, right?

 CSA June 20th

CSA: New potatoes, 7 tomatoes, 2 bunches of green onions, cherries, 2 zucchini,  some picklers (is that even a word), and a bag of greens

 Mmm, peas

Market: I went expecting to not get much but ended up with 2 pounds of peas to shell and two bags of cherries.   I tried to photo the cherries as they are so beautiful, but to be honest after trying a few shots I just had to give up and eat the one’s I had taken out.  They aren’t your typical bing, but a creamy yellow cherry with a red blush on one side.   

So far my favorite thing I’ve made with my cherries is a recipe posted on Posie Get’s Cozy for Cherry Clafoutis.  It’s not quite a traditional food, though I did switch it up with a bit it was oh so yummy and good.  I am getting ready to have a girls day out with my best friend and this is on my list of things to pack in our picnic.  I’m trying to find a good chicken salad recipe as well to put on some greens.  Between those two things and maybe some rustic homemade crackers we’ll be set for lunch. 

Which brings me to my dilemma when I was cooking the clafoutis.  To pit or not to pit (true French chefs will not pit the cherries because of the almond flavor the pits bring to the mix) and if you do pit, how.  I live in Small Town, USA so there are no cherry pitters for at least 60 miles.  Martha Stewart suggests using a paper clip but I felt like I was pitting my fingers, perhaps I should have had a thimble?  There is the “X” method where you make an x on the bottom of the berry and squeeze the pit (and some of the precious juice) out.  Well, here we try to keep it traditional so I just used my thumbnail.  I have sturdy ones, I know this isn’t a possibility for everyone, but it worked well for me.  Just dig in from the top right to the side of the pit and give a little scoop/twist and it’ll pop right out.  

 

My favorite meal this week was chicken parmesean.  I used my green onions and tomatoes along with a can of tomato sauce, garlic, olive oil, oregano and thyme from the garden, some salt and pepper, and a touch of rapadura to help with the tomato tang.  The chicken pieces were lightly breaded with bread crumbs and then pan fried with a little butter before having sauce and fresh cheese piled onto them with some brown rice spaghetti on the side and the fresh peas from the market. 

I have to mention, my oldest two girls love to shell peas!  What a blessing, right?  They’ll sit with a bucket between them and see who’s pod has the biggest peas and so on.  Most kids their age would thing you were nuts if you wanted them to shell peas. Shelling Peas

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laundry detergent

I thought I would be posting once more to warn of my absence, but alas I didn’t meet the deadline.  I am, however, back and ready to go now. Sorry about that readers!

Do you make any household cleaners yourself?  We make our own laundry detergent and are quite happy with it.  Here’s the recipe I follow:

1 bar of finely grated Fels-Naptha

2 cups Washing Soda (not baking soda)

2 cups Borax

Mix well and use about 2 Tbsp per large load.

My favorite way to grate the soap is to use the grater in my food processor and then to process them with the standard blade as well.  To get the finest consistency you could use a micro-plane but it takes quite awhile to do! 

Another idea is to put vinagar in your fabric softener ball.  Your clothes do not come out smelling like vinegar, but it does help to soften and reduce static.  I’ve heard tell that you can scent your vinegar and might try that with some of my lavender growing abundantly in the garden.

 

Please share any home-made household products you currently use as I’m always up to saving some money and having fewer chemicals sitting around the house.

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CSA Report June 13th

This week was hectic.  I was out of town four of the seven days.  Thankfully one of the days I was home was Friday Farm Day.  Every Friday the girls and I head out of town to “our farm” for milk and CSA.  I love “our farmers” to pieces.  They are down to earth and really just want to help families make healthy choices.  As much as I want to move to the country and grow some of my own produce, I will miss our farmer’s if that happens to take us far enough away that we have to find a new milk source.

Back to my Friday.  We head out to the farm, visit whatever new baby animals we can, chew the fat with the farmers, and collect our goods (3 gallons of milk, 2-3 dozen eggs, and the two CSA boxes) and go delivering.  I have a cousin in one little town we deliver produce to and then another cousin down the street that we pick up milk for.  It’s a great deal as they both are on the way home and I get to keep in touch with them on a weekly basis.  Also, we can listen to many books on tape on our weekly excursion.  With all the traveling last week we finished our second time through the entire Chronicle’s of Narnia.  My kids love those books so much.  Right now we are focusing on some music.  The current disk playing is a compilation of John Williams.  He’s a modern composer of many songs everyone knows.  His movie themes include: Harry Potter, E.T., Indiana Jones, and Jaws to name a few.  Next will dig back in history a bit for a composer to delve into. 

Seeing as Saturday was an out-of-town day, I have no market report for this week (though I hear that a tuesday evening market is in the works!)  Here is the CSA report: two baskets of strawberries, two bundles of radishes, two bundles of onions, two bags of greens, scapes, three tomatoes, and asparagus. 

Mmm, asparagus is on the menu tonight as well as the remaining few strawberries and a salad…can’t wait!  Never heard of scapes?  I’ll touch on that soon.

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local foods

I wrote a rather lengthy post about our food choices and planned on expanding on that some.  I’ll start with local foods seeing as this is the beginning of the growing season in our area. 

My eventual goal is to be able to grow and store much of the food we consume.  This is a lofty goal for a family of six.  Until then, when I can I try to buy local.  There are different reasons and a whole movement behind it.  This is just my take on it, for what it is worth.

When I buy my food local, I know where it was grown and in most cases know who grew it.  I know what methods they use to grow/raise their product.  I know that it hasn’t traveled across America’s highways to get to my table.  It hasn’t be treated in some manner to keep it “fresher” longer, it really is fresh.  The taste can not be compared.  Buying local also supports the people and businesses in our area.  I also can’t help but think that blooming where you are planted includes making use of what’s within reach.   I live in this lovely mid-western climate and feel like I should mainly eat foods that grow in this mid-western climate. 

On the other hand, I am not strict about it.  We do not ask farms how far away they are so they don’t go over our 20 mile limit…we have no limit.  I can not imagine raising kids without bananas, brown rice pasta, and avocados .  The day they start growing in back yards here I really will believe Al Gore and all his global warming hype.  Salt is not something harvested near me and it’s not going to disappear from our diet either.  If I go into an Asian market I’m not going to skip out on the rice and if they have dragon fruit I am way to sentimental to refuse just one. 

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fun

So while we don’t have cable or satellite feeds we do have a T. V. , DVD player, and lots of DVDs.  My husband also has a Game Cube.  While in my fantasy world none of these would exist that is okay…it’s not just my world!  For fun we work it a little different around here.  First up for fun, and most important, is having fun together.  Rarely do we go our separate ways in the evenings, we have fun together playing games, coloring, even working.  Did you know that sorting laundry can be fun?  It can if you look at it the right way!  My girls are all pretty good about helping out with a smile on their face.  They aren’t perfect, nor am I, some chores get the best of all of us. 

Here is a list of some fun we like to have together:

  • card games
  • puzzles
  • coloring
  • reading
  • a movie
  • cooking
  • sewing
  • baking
  • gardening
  • riding bikes
  • playing at the park
  • ball (inside or out)
  • dress-up
  • drawing
  • painting toenails
  • building
  • cleaning
  • exploring
  • shopping
  • dancing
  • singing
  • visiting family and friends
  • swimming

It’s just a handful of ways to spend time together and show each other you care.  Two can be so much more fun than one.  Swinging on your own is fun, but with someone to push you higher and higher it’s a blast.

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 Our CSA contents this week were still on the slim side.  The growing season here is off to a slow start.  I know it won’t be long, though, until I start drowning in beans, peas, broccoli, and such!  My three gallons of milk looked extra welcoming today.  I see strawberries and cream in our future as well as hopefully some cheese.  I’ve always wanted to give it a try and figure now is a good time to learn.  I’ll post my progress as I  go.

Today’s box: two BIG containers of strawberries, radishes, green onions, tomatoes, salad greens, and geraniums.

Tomorrow is market day.  I have made up my mind I’m going to try to get some heirloom tomatoes and abandon my poor struggling seedlings.  Hopefully by next February I’ll have figured out where I went wrong and be able to start my own heirlooms from seed.

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