Monday, August 9, 2010

What’s New and Up and Coming too

Hey Gang! I’ve been a busy, busy bee this summer. Spring and summer shows, two farmers markets each weekend as well as creating and producing new items.

Here’s a peek at what’s new!

honey bees cloth napkins

garden gnomes napkins

Cloth Napkins! Oodles of fun fabrics with more being added all the time.

For all those going back to school, or if you are just in need of something to liven up your desk – Mouse pads! You’ll find the usual fun and playful fabrics as well as some newer florals and sophisticated designs.



oak leaves mouse pad

And last but definitely not least, my most favorite new item;

oilcloth place mats - aqua cherries

Oil cloth place mats! So retro and sweet I want to keep them all to myself! And do I spot some really swell cloth napkins in that photo? Gee, I wonder where I can get some of those too

There is so much more to show you! Chalk-cloth place mats, oil cloth table cloths, up-cycled paper envelopes and paper-wrapped pencils, more greeting cards, and sweet pin cushions.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! Also in the works – my new website and newsletter! Finally. For reals this time. Due this fall (fingers crossed).

Ta ta for now, I have more goodies to photograph!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Craft Show and Tulip Festival

It’s tulip time again and if you’ve never been, now’s the time! The weather may be grey but the tulips and daffodils are popping open like mad and the fields are aglow with color. This weekend is also our “Something Different” craft show at the Rexville Grocery pavilion.

rexville flyer

It’s Easter weekend so pack up the family and take a drive through the Skagit Valley and see the gorgeous tulips and daffs then swing by the grocery for a snack or a sandwich and come browse the crafts. See Bev’s blog, Blue Collar Dog Treats for the whole scoop and lots of pictures! She has done an excellent job and you can even find pictures and bios of the crafters.


Alert Tulip Visitors! Tulips are early this year! The next two weeks will be prime viewing. Daffodils are left to wither on the stem so there but tulips are topped just after full bloom. Then there is no color left at all (this is done so all the plant’s energy is sent to the bulb. While there are plenty of cut tulips to be found, the tulips in the valley are grown for the bulb). So don’t put off your visit, come soon!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I’ve Sprouted!


I’m so excited! My lovely little basil and tomato seeds are well on their way to deliciousness! Ever since I made my own mozzarella I’ve been dreaming about making insalata caprese. What could be tastier than fresher than fresh, home-grown ingredients?

Soon these little beauties will plump, sweet tomatoes…


And these will be fragrant, yummy basil…


Combine it with the nutty, delicate mozzarella, a dash of sea salt and fresh ground pepper and a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar. We put ours on a baguette slice to mop up the juices. Yummmm.

Hurry up summer!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Home-made Mozzarella

In Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle they talk about making mozzarella cheese in less than 30 minutes. I love fresh mozzarella and decided this was something I had to try. Yesterday, I did.

For the full directions go here.

This was so easy it’s criminal. The only possible hitch might be finding the proper ingredients.

You will need one gallon pasteurized milk. NOT ULTRA-PASTEURIZED. Sometimes this can be more of a challenge than you’d think. I used organic vat-pasteurized whole milk. ( I have no idea what vat-pasteurized means but it worked). One gallon of milk will yield 2 fist sized cheeses.

Also 1 1/2 tsp citric acid. I found it in my local health food store bulk aisle. I bought a few tablespoons worth for .49.

Rennet. No one in my town had this, which surprised me. My local super-healthy grocery store never even had a request for this before. I found it in a food co-op in the next town. It was in a refrigerated section but sometimes you will find it in the dessert aisle with the Jell-O. It looks like this:

The directions recommend a stainless-steel pot and glass or ceramic measuring cups but I believe you may use other materials as long as they are VERY CLEAN. You do not want any foreign bacteria on your utensils! And we used a candy thermometer instead of an instant-read.

For full instructions remember to go here!

First you slowly heat the milk on the stove. As it reaches room temp you add the diluted citric-acid. As it warms more it will begin to curdle. You then add the diluted rennet. It began to develop curds immediately. In just a few minutes the remaining whey should be a pretty clear yellow and the curds ready to remove.



Place curds in a large microwavable bowl (Large enough so you can knead it right in the dish) and press out as much liquid as possible. It feels and looks a bit like firm bread dough at this point.

Nuke it for one minute and press and knead out more moisture. It can get HOT so use caution. Heat for 30 more seconds and repeat. When hot you can pull and stretch it like taffy. Pretty neat. Add some salt and nuke-and-knead again. It now feels like silly putty. Very HOT silly putty.

I divided it into 2 palm-sized pieces and shaped them into balls.


Done! The flavor turned out deep and nutty, probably because I used whole milk. One issue I noticed and that was it was a little firmer than I expected and I suspect that’s from over-handling it. I was a little rough on it during the kneading process.

I can’t wait to try this again! It was so easy (and fairly mess-free too) you could do this before dinner and eat it fresh! The deep flavor will be absolutely delicious with fresh home-grown tomatoes and basil on a home-made baguette with a dash of balsamic vinegar. YUM! Can’t wait for summer!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Inspiration and galvanization

First off, I want to say I’m not one of “those” people. I’m not one of those uber-eco folks whose blood runs green and who lectures others when they eat meat or throw something away that could be recycled. I’m just a regular gal who wants to be a little more involved in my little town and to eat fresh, yummy food that’s safe and unmodified. I’m finally ready to get off my ass and do something.

Scare yourself in to action! (ie, educate yourself)

I like to make educated, informed decisions. I read a lot. I watch movies and documentaries. I love research and enjoy exploring certain subjects. The following books inspired me, and the film scared me into action. There are many, many more out there but I think these 3 are great primers and introductions to examining food, and how it is grown or manufactured (when I get a third column added to this blog I will create a list of many more).

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

I enjoy most of Pollan’s books. I was dubious about this one because the premise doesn’t really sound like a whole books worth of writing. It is. He is a very accessible writer and lovely to read. Here he addresses, among other things, the problem with adding nutrients to manufactured, processed food, and the ramifications of eating such. It all makes such perfect sense!

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

Kingsolver’s family moves to a farm and elects to feed themselves solely on what they grow or can trade from other farms. Written in monthly chapters it’s not only a beautiful read but quite helpful as a primer for doing it yourself. For example what will you do with surpluses of food in the summer? How will you get through the lean winter months?

Food, Inc

This film is a great, gentle introduction into how our food has been changed and manipulated. There are many others out there that go in to more detail or try to terrify you but this one is just an all around great eye-opener. Personally I think it should be shown in classrooms. Most people have no idea how little food is in our “food”. If this doesn’t make you think more about growing your own non-gmo food or shopping at your local farmers market, I don’t know what will.

There is a new small film out called Fresh that I have yet to see (limited release). This film focuses on action – what you can do about the very things Food, Inc brings up. I’d love to hear from anyone who’s seen it.

There you have it. My new direction and basis for what I feel should be the new Home Ec. Not just the care and feeding of your family but knowing what you are feeding them.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Lynden Craft and Antique Show

Another 6 months has passed and I’m gearing up for the spring show!

If you are in the north Puget Sound area, come visit me and many, many others this March 18-21.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Happy New Year!

Yes, I know it’s almost the end of the month already but in my usual procrastinator’s manner, I’m way behind.

I’ve been thinking long and hard about this blog and I think I will be making a few changes in direction. I’ve always wanted to write about what I think modern Home Economics is, but was unsure how to focus my efforts. Simply put, Home Economics is the care and management of your home and family.

I had originally wanted to share tips and information, from past and present, on the topic of running a household. More recently an interest of mine has turned into a compulsion. This year I am going to try to be a locavore. A slow-food eater. A sustainable gardener. An active member in my community. This could be a rather large undertaking but it is very important to me so I hope it will “stick”. By this I mean I hope it’s not another one of my big ideas that I’m passionate about for 6-12 months then move on. I want this to become part of our lives. Perhaps by sharing my goals with you it will add some accountability.

This means that running my household will now be a lot more hands-on. I will try growing more food (I am a procrastinator and a lazy gardener. Not a good combo for this) and eating what’s in season (that means no more imported winter tomatoes from Mexico! gulp). Exploring more regional foods (seafood!). It means paying more attention to what’s in packaged foods and educating myself on how foods are manufactured and processed.

I’m going to take baby steps. Not everything will be possible but we will make small changes where we can (buying Washington wines instead of our usual Yellow Tail). I plan on spending the whole year easing into this, not jumping in head first right away. Perhaps some of you will join me. I hope many of you already have and can share your experiences.

At the risk of boring you before I even get started, here are the basic tenets I’m going to try and follow (from the Locavores website):

If not LOCALLY PRODUCED, then Organic. This is one of the most readily available alternatives in the market and making this choice protects the environment and your body from harsh chemicals and hormones.

If not ORGANIC, then Family farm. When faced with Kraft or Cabot cheeses, Cabot, a dairy co-op in Vermont, is the better choice. Supporting family farms helps to keep food processing decisions out of the hands of corporate conglomeration.

If not FAMILY FARM, then Local business. Basics like coffee and bread make buying local difficult. Try a local coffee shop or bakery to keep your food dollar close to home.

If not a LOCAL BUSINESS, then Terroir, which means 'taste of the Earth'. Purchase foods famous for the region they are grown in and support the agriculture that produces your favorite non-local foods such as Brie cheese from Brie, France or parmesan cheese from Parma, Italy.

Hit the farmers' market before the supermarket. Plan your meal around local ingredients you find at the market.

Branch out. Maybe your usual food repertoire could use some fresh ideas. The farmers' market provides a perfect chance to try a new ingredient when it's in season, and lets you talk to its grower to find out the best way to prepare your new food. Flirt with your food producer!

Feed the freezer. Can't cook every night? Worried about your fresh produce going bad? It's easy. Make lasagna with local tomatoes or a soup packed with fresh veggies and freeze it! You can also make personal size meals for a brown bag lunch.

Go out! Many area restaurants emphasize local foods in their dishes. Ask around, you might be surprised how many options you find that serve up local flavor.