Wednesday, May 30, 2012

gw vol 7

I didn't realize it was already time to make my garden post. Having a day off sure screws up your week and sense of time! But I'm definitely not complaining that it's already the midpoint of a work week. We really didn't do too much on the gardens this past week because it was insanely hot. Yesterday it even showed it was over 110 degrees in the sun in my back yard! But early evening we got a crazy thunderstorm that cooled it off down to a manageable 70 degrees and continued to rain all night, which made it impossible to take updated pictures in flooding rains! So next week I'll post the craziness going on out there.

This week I will bring you some garden inspiration from around the web.

This article is really interesting and could maybe make decisions for you when deciding what to plant in your own garden.

I am so in love with this little garden and its layout. I would love to sit in one of those Adirondack chairs and waste the day away.

A great idea for someone itching to have a garden but may not have the space or yard for one. This could be put out on any deck, porch or small yard.

I am in love with this garden layout. I love how lush and full it is with all the different heights and layers. This is similar to what we are going for in our design, to create an atmosphere and a complete room. 

Until next week, hopefully the weather will cool off and we can actually get some work done to our garden layouts. We already have half the town wondering and asking what we are doing!

Monday, May 28, 2012

a new pendant..

I've been so busy with everything else, that I haven't been out in my shop lately. But this morning I braved the crazy thunderstorm and played with some fire.

I really like how this one turned out. Just stinks that I don't have a kiln so everything I make has a very high chance of cracking and breaking. Oh well. It's fun practice... some day I'll get a kiln!

Bag It

2010 - Documentary - 79 minutes


An average guy makes a resolution to stop using plastic bags at the grocery store. Little does he know that this simple decision will change his life completely. He comes to the conclusion that our consumptive use of plastic has finally caught up to us, and looks at what we can do about it. Today. Right now.

I watched this documentary a few months ago now and have been thinking about making up some sort of online petition. I'm going to think more about how to do what I want to do with this project, but wanted to get this post up and don't want to wait any longer.

This is one of my favorite documentaries about the environment and the impact plastic has had on our environment. When I started watching the movie, I thought it was just going to be about plastic bags but they really expand on all plastics. Plastic bags are evil and useless. I never take a plastic bag when a shop offers them. I have my own heavy duty canvas bags that I take with me everywhere. But there have been times where we may have to stop and pick something up, I will leave the store, receipt in hand, trying to balance my goods without dropping anything while the cashier and other shoppers give me dirty looks. Why? Why should I be getting a surprised look why I refuse plastic? I would LOVE if they charged people to have to use a plastic bag. Some states and cities have implemented this and it just makes me sick to think that there have been places that have tried and failed due to lack of support or the plastics industry winning. How?! Why?! Are people really that lazy that they can not invest a very little investment into reusable bags? 
I'm not trying to be on a high horse here, but it really does make me angry and I would tell this to anyone in person as well. Get off your ass, buy or make a canvas or reusable bag and REFUSE to take a plastic bag. It's simply that SIMPLE. I don't want to hear the lame excuses of " Well I have them but always forget them when I go shopping". Then keep them in your car if you are that forgetful! Keep one folded up in your purse. My mom even got me a small one that folds inside itself and is this teeny tiny pocket that can fit anywhere, but opens to be a decent sized bag. 
I don't want to hear any excuses. None. So just zip it now! The planet can't handle to have any more lame excuses. Yes, I may sound a little harsh. But I am passionate about this and get fired up really easily about this topic. Try to cut down on all your plastic usage, or at lease be knowledgeable about what the product is doing to our plant and animal life the next time you are looking to buy a plastic item, encased in more packaging plastic.
While I feel very passionate about many documentaries I watch, I think I feel the strongest about this one. So, if you do one thing for me ... watch this move this week. It's on streaming Netflix and is less than an hour and a half of your day. My hopes is that if you don't already realize what plastics do, that you will come away open minded and really think before accepting that plastic bag for that one (or ten) items the next time you go to a shop. If you don't have a usable bag with you, tough luck USE YOUR HANDS. (and yes! I'm yelling at you until you all get on board and get these shops to start small and boycott those damn things!!) 
Okay, sorry. I'm calm now and won't lecture anymore. But seriously, please think before you accept the plastic! Now go. Sew a canvas bag or buy one. You can get them anywhere for very cheap.

Downton Abbey

Dowton Abbey

Season 1:  2010  - British TV Series - 48min-65min each - 7 episodes


Lord Crawley sees his family heritage, especially the grand country home Downton Abbey, as his mission in life. The death of his heir aboard the Titanic means distant cousin Matthew Crawley, a Manchester lawyer, suddenly is next in line and accepts moving onto the vast estate with his even more modernist, socially engaged mother, who clashes with his lordship's domineering, conservative ma the dowager. Marrying off the daughters is another concern. Meanwile the butler presides over a staff which serves the family but also lead most of their entire lives in the servants quarters, intriguing amongst themselves.

I kept seeing this on Netflix but didn't know anything about it. I have always loved period pieces so I figured I would check it out. Now all I can say is, how did I not check this out sooner?! I was also very surprised when the mister was just as into it as I was. He loves Victorian kitchens and gardens, so I think he really liked seeing how the kitchen was run and was getting ideas for our home the entire time. We very quickly made it through all seven episodes and were heartbroken when the last episode of Season 1 ended. (I wish I didn't know what a weekend was! What a great moment in the show, she always has these little quips that make me laugh out loud)

Season 2 is on disc through Netflix, so now we have to wait to get it in, it shows "very long wait". Must be everyone else is as in love with the show as we are.

Here is the trailer for Season 2, I cannot wait for that first disc to get here!!

Market Mondays: Gramma's Zucchini Bread

Due to my brother being home from DC this weekend, my parents had a cookout with all our family at three. So the mister and I decided to make an extended day out of the market by going to the town over from where the market is to go antiquing as well. So we packed up our super fun, vintage cooler and hit the road.

It was such a beautiful day, the market was chum full of people that feel they are the only ones on earth. You know the type. They walk obliviously in front of you while you are about to purchase something, they talk or stand dead center in the middle of walkways forcing you off the beaten path to get out of their way, you know, because they are far superior to you and have claimed ownership of public space. That was how our entire day went. But that's okay. We had a fabulous time, even with all the rudeness surrounding us.

Our spoils:

This week we bought: 
Semolina bread, cinnamon bread, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, swiss chard, fresh eggs, pork chops and a small chicken. 

We really didn't need to buy too much because we still had some veggies left over from last week that never made it into our dinner menus. 

We then headed off antiquing and were so happy to see our favorite shop was back open for the summer. The owner's name is Fury and she is so awesome. She is who I bought my windows and door from for my studio. Whenever we go she talks to me about the studio and how fun it must be. Her shop is a gigantic red barn FULL to the brim.

One of my other favorite shops to go to is partitioned into small little areas of "rooms". So it makes you feel like you have just walked into someone's old farmhouse.

My spoils:

I found this radio at Fury's place. It works, but I can't get a station to come in. It's going to go out in my shop.

Then...another addition to my lunchbox collection! Speed Buggy, made by Thermos in 1973.

Next weekend the town is having their mini early summer show, all the shops will be open as well as over 100 vendors lining the streets. So, guess where we will be next weekend?!

This week's recipe:

Gramma's Zucchini Bread 
(I didn't have a picture of one I've made so I  found one and sourced it. But believe me, her bread is super delicious!)

Preheat oven: 325 degrees


3 eggs
1 Cup oil
2 Cups sugar
2 Cups zucchini (raw, peeled and shredded)
3 Cups flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 tsp vanilla
3 tsp cinnamon
1/2 Cup nuts (optional)

What to do..

Beat eggs and oil together until fluffy. Add remaining ingredients, mixing well. Optional: sprinkle with cinnamon & sugar mixture before placing in oven. Bake at 325 for one hour, until tooth pick comes out clean.

That's it, very simple recipe for some super yummy bread! 

Hope everyone that had the extra day off today from work is enjoying their long weekends. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Buy Handmade vol 7

This week Behind the scenes takes you to Italy.

Name: Mafalda

Tell us a little about yourself:

Hello to all! My name's Mafalda, I'm 29 and I'm italian. Six years ago I created my label of craft products "Pinkrain" and since then I never stopped creating! Actually I dedicate all my time on my Etsy shop, but in the future I'd really like to open a real "concrete" handmade and illustrations' shop.

When did you start creating and how long have you been on Etsy?

I always liked to draw and I have to thank my mother who gave me the passion and the interest for art and always encouraged my creativity. I approached the handmade world during adolescence and I discovered Etsy in 2007!

Apart from creating things, what do you like to do?

I love nature and keep in touch with other different cultures. I love to travel a lot and when I can, I run away from the city and go to the mountains, woods or by the sea. Another big passion of mine are flea markets. I pass hours among the stalls, searching in the old things. I love to think that those items belonged to someone else and that they has a story to tell. My other passions are Peanuts comics and Lomography.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

It's hard to say where my ideas come from, I distinguish the ones which take me to create craft items from the ones which lead me to make illustrations. In the first case I try to observe nature and the world around me, seeing it with "childish" or "innocent" eyes, almost always cheerful. I try to recreate an imaginary world, often populated by surreal and whimsical creatures, carriers of positive messages. My illustrations instead don't have marketing decisions at their bases, but they are just more impulsive and intimate. My illustrations are my sensations, the need to express a precise state of mind. So they can be joyful or a little melancholic, according to what I feel in that moment. I draw impulsively on everything I can reach with my hands and often is a method for fight my fears and my insecurity, so I rarely care about techniques.

How would you describe your creative process?

My creative process doesn't follow a precise, linear path, but rather on improvisation and instinct. My creativity isn't a thing I can control or manage and scheme. Often the best ideas come when I'm doing something totally different, when I am shopping for example or when I'm about to go to sleep. When I can, I write down all these best ideas on a moleskine, but then, usually, other ones come in my mind making me forget the ideas I wrote, or it happens to remember them after months! I know, it isn't professional...but for now I follow my instinct and I'm happy with it!

What is your favorite piece in your shop currently?

I love my mini-paintings and the whole line (badges, illustrations) that represents Charlie Chaplin, because I love silent movies and he's one of my favorite characters. 

What is your most cherished handmade item?

The item I care the most is a wooden brooch hand-painted with "hard times for dreamers" written on it. It's a quote that I often say to myself because I think of myself as a "dreamer". Moreover, the brooch reminds me of the time I lived in Berlin, where I created it, when I was thinking that my dreams would become true. But life choose otherwise. 

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I really would like to move to my boyfriend's place and live together. It seems a little vision of the future, but here in Italy it's a really dark period and for youth having a stable job that could ensure a future is a chimera, day after day. I hope to open an indie craft shop, it' s my biggest dream!

Do you have any advice for anyone thinking about starting their own shop?

Don't be afraid! Go for it! Don't be scared by competition and try to find a style that's unique and recognizable, a style that's yours only! Originality is the key! Another advice: if you really care about your products and you don't consider them as a simple hobby, try to be professional as possible...take really good pictures and create detailed descriptions. Don't be scared if you're not be able to sell the first months, it's have to wait for people to know about you, so do a lot of promoting!

Friday, May 25, 2012

fff vol 16

Holy mother, this felt like the longest week on earth. On wednesday I was completely and totally convinced it was thursday and was excited for the week to be almost over. Literally just before I was getting done with work that day a co-worker made a comment that made me realize it was, in fact, NOT thursday but only wednesday. I was devastated. I even asked her if she was "sure it was wednesday" hahah she must think I'm a wacko. Oh well. This weekend should be a fun one though and I'm looking forward to having 3 days off (even if I will pay for it dearly at work next tuesday) 

My brother just finished another year at Corcoran in DC, normally he comes home for the summer -  but not this year. This year he got an off campus apartment and will be staying down there. I know he is super excited (I love the DC area, and used to live down there, so I understand why he wouldn't want to come back up here!) But he will be here for the weekend. Which means - cook out at my parents house on Saturday. So Saturday will be jammed packed with fun. Farmer's market, antiquing and then cook out with some sort of cake! i love cake, now i need to decide what to make. I usually always make whoopie pies- it's my staple and what everyone loves. I think people actually get upset with me if I show up and don't have a pocketful, seriously. But while I LOVE my whoopie pies - I think I want to make something different - maybe something with fruit, cause..yum..who doesn't love fruit with cake?!! haha

Moving on, because I could probably talk about my love for cake for hours and that would just bore everyone's time for...fabulous or fantastic or whatever f word you want to insert here, finds friday!

I have been keeping a project/new business under wraps and will be ready reveal things pretty soon, but here is a small little hint. I will be supporting fair trade and organic farming while doing so. A very heavy large package is scheduled to be delivered today and I can not even begin to explain how completely and totally excited I am!!

I am in love with this basket. It doesn't look too difficult to make either, because you know, I need yet another project to work on.

Oh my goodness  - can I please move here? It is such a fantastic and simple house in Japan.

I am in LOVE with this tee shirt. I have been saving my credit at ModCloth for a while now, I could definitely get this and still have plenty left to get some pretty dress at another point in time. But I really think this shirt is calling my name.

Because I started talking about cake..I have cake on my mind. I'm thinking maybe making this for Saturday? I just always get nervous trying to make a recipe I've never made before the day of an "event". Hmmm, we'll see. If I do make it, I will definitely take pictures and post more about it.

Okie doke. I hope everyone have fabulous (long) weekends and gets to accomplish as much stuff (or as little) as you'd like!

Happy weekend! ... finally...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

gw vol 6

Our garden is starting to get in its "out of control" stage. I have banned weeding this year because everything is just being dug up and transplanted to different beds and different paths will be made. We are also turning the grass strip between the sidewalk and the road into a flower bed. So this year we are just mulching it really well and by next year it should have amazing soil for all kinds of fun plants and flowers.

Here are a few things popping up around the yard..

I started putting down the mulch on Sunday when K wasn't home (apparently I did it all wrong and now we have to do it again.) But here are some pictures of my hard work, prior to us raking it all up and then putting down cardboard over the entire spaces.

Here is my dad playing on his tractor in their back woods getting me a truck full of mulch:

Work in progress and dirty hands..

My work, until K got home and told me it wasn't done right and had to be done again!

And lastly.. I thought it was only fitting to wear this shirt while working:

Does anyone else have fun garden adventures? Or completely finish a project only to be told you sucked and did it wrong and it needs to done over?! Please share!! Until next week - happy gardening. And advice from the mister, "Do it right the first time"

Monday, May 21, 2012

Market Mondays: Mashed potato stuffed bell peppers

The market was a lot of fun this weekend going with my parents. My mom wanted to stop and look at so many different vendors than K and I normally stop and look at.  My mom loved all the pottery and the soaps and candle vendors and my dad was a good sport hanging out with not one, but two extremely indecisive ladies. I picked up all my goodies and am looking forward to yummy week of market foods.

We made this recipe last week but changed it just a little bit. I think this week we are going to use our peppers from this week in a pasta dish. But this dish was really simple and delicious. 

  • 2 bell peppers
  • 2 1/2 pounds of your choice of potatoes (we used small yellow potatoes)
  • 1/2 cup of buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced  (we used 1 teaspoon granulated garlic instead of raw garlic)
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Gouda cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Oven preheated to 350 degrees.

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the potatoes. Cook until tender, just barely falling apart.
2. Strain the potatoes and add them to a large mixing bowl along with the buttermilk, garlic, thyme, parmesan cheese,  salt and pepper. 
3. Mash the potatoes, use some of the reserved water if needed. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste.
4. Cut your bell peppers and half and seed them. 
5. Stuff your bell peppers with the mashed potatoes. You want to over stuff them but you don't want the filling to be too compact.
6. Once a bell pepper half is stuffed, place it in a baking dish and top it with some of the shredded Gouda cheese. Be generous with the cheese, it's Gouda after all. You can never have too much.
7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and place the baking dish full of stuffed peppers on the bottom rack. Cook until the Gouda cheese is melted and just begins to brown. The peppers should be slightly blistered

In our version, we never use water in our mashed potatoes, just lots of butter, buttermilk and salt and pepper to taste.
We also didn't have any gouda cheese to top them. I'm not a big fan of cheese, so it wasn't a huge disappointment. Plus I love mashed potatoes - so it was a win, win with me. But if you are a cheese lover- definitely add it!
Only cooking the peppers after they have been stuffed left them a tad on the crunchy side. I think if we make them again we may cook them a bit prior to stuffing them, then stuff them and cook them the rest of the way so that they will be softer.
They were super yummy, and it was actually my first time eating a pepper. (I am a super, super fussy eater - but I'm trying new things!)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

bad Ella...bad!

You may wonder, "What would my dog look like if he/she got into my paints while I'm not paying attention?"

Wonder no more...

She even tried it as lip stick. While I don't know why anyone would ever really wonder what their dog would look like after playing in paint, here is what it looks like, so I'll save you the trouble. Believe me my blanket on my bed is not too happy either, good thing it wasn't a nice blanket. 

So a bath later, she is back running around like nothing ever happened trying to figure out what other mischief she can get herself into while her father is away.

Happy Sunday!