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Archive for March, 2013

garden notes

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daffodils

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It’s been a couple weeks now since I started jotting these notes down, and I have planted another round of seeds since, but I wanted to get this posted anyway. Almost all of the seeds mentioned below are now growing strong. The red romaine is slow to germinate (I remember this now from last year), but 2 tiny sprouts have finally appeared this week. It has been a great early spring for seed starting, with abundant sunshine for new plants to bathe in.

March 17: planted a dozen walla walla, dozen parris island (green romaine), dozen red romaine, dozen lacinato kale, 6 bush buttercup. Most all of the earlier sets of starts have germinated and are doing very well.

The last couple days we had what felt like record warmth for this time of year and every living thing seemed pretty excited about it. Yesterday there were a number of firsts – I saw the first honeybee, buzzing in the rosemary flowers; the first black ants, and when evening came I saw the first bat. We also heard the first osprey, and today saw them soaring overhead. It seems like we have more and more birds in our yard each year, which makes an organic gardener so happy! (so long as they are not eating your food, haha). Steven put some cotton balls left from an empty B-vitamins bottle out for the birds, and watched a crow carry it off today. There is a lot of nesting activity going on, and even a bit of squabbling over nesting materials between the crows and the blue jays. This green, lush, new season brings me so much joy.

What’s happening where you are this time of year? And if you have one, how is your garden coming along?

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flowers in your hair

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A song for you on this fine Sunday night.

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03.22.13

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It’s hard to believe it’s already Friday! These days have been so full, time seems to be just racing by. I have a lot to accomplish today, and then I am looking forward to a little time off this weekend to plant more seeds, do some digging in the dirt, and if the weather holds – maybe we will get out for a hike. It’s beautiful this morning. Have a great weekend. Happy spring xo

Photos above from my instagram @in_fusion. Come find me there if you like!

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weekend

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weeding

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lunch

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It was a working weekend, though I still made sure to include some time off. Saturday has become a day where we catch up on cleaning and organizing, watering plants, and starting little projects that got pushed aside during the week. I love this time, and it’s amazing how much we usually accomplish together.

A few snaps from the weekend…

1. an impromptu, clean-out-the-fridge fruit crisp was made (with crisp based loosely on my memory of Stephanie’s)

2. weeding in the warm sunshine

3. always something on the stairs, going up or going down

4. lunch in the making

5. homegrown rosemary – there is lots, being dried and stored

Not captured on camera was: the incredible mess that some critter made of the insulator panel in the hood of our car. OH MY WORD. I guess it is nesting season // The pollen clouds bursting forth from the alder trees. Have you ever seen a tree do that? It’s amazing (and a little frightful if you have allergies) // The sound of the birds these days, chattering away excitedly – yes, indeed, I think it is nesting season // The rooster that now lives up the road, and crows every morning at 4am // The bounty that Steven was paid, for revealing the name of said neighbor, to a different neighbor, who has been kept up in the wee hours of the morning (hee!)

How was your weekend? Did you drink beer and eat cabbage??

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add a strap

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Every now and then someone writes to ask if they can see a photo of the rucksack being worn with the optional shoulder strap. I know it’s hard to visualize sometimes, and it’s helpful to see an actual example. I have finally added a few images. Seen with the rucksack in stone waxed canvas above, as well as an updated listing for the strap option. It’s silly I didn’t have these available sooner! Thanks for your questions, always. xo

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early spring

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I think it’s safe to say that spring is really here. And still light out at 7:30 pm? Yes, thank you! The spring peepers in our little cove of the lake started peeping a week or so ago, and to me, that is the sound of spring and summer. It makes my whole body smile to hear them.

The spring-time garden season has officially begun here as well, and the first seeds have been planted. A few weeks ago, I was a little worried whether my excitement for planting this year’s garden was ever going to come. I became a little bit discouraged at an epic fail of my late summer planting. We have a wormy-looking, root-eating soil dweller, taking over the universe out there, and I need to somehow identify what it is so I can figure out what to do about it. But anyway, all it took was a single afternoon out there – working in the soil, weeding, harvesting a pot of soup’s worth of root vegetables – and I realized my worries were for nothing. I simply LOVE to be in the garden. Challenges and all, the garden is a place where I feel happy and at peace.

Notes: March 9: Planted tomato seeds (8 each – Riesentraube, Black Cherry, Purple Cherokee, Orange Banana), 8 ground cherry, a couple dozen sugar snaps, a couple dozen bush beans, a dozen red onion, and a whole lot of basil. I didn’t plan ahead very meticulously, and assumed I had certain seeds on hand that I don’t, so I have just ordered cucumber, summer squash, more peas and a few different herbs. Also, we are thinking about changing the layout of our garden beds this year, so hopefully we will get that worked out in the next couple weeks.

Will you grow a garden this year? Have you started planting? I love to hear what fellow gardeners are up to. In fact, a quick trip to the food co-op today turned into a 45 minute gardening chat. There are always things to learn from each other.

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03.11.13

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New Snap Clutch available in the shop. Made with undyed hemp and dark green canvas, with dark espresso vegetable tanned leather.

Little cousin to the Hemp and Olive Tote.

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thrift

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When thrifting, my favorite sections are glassware, textiles, wood and clothing. Baskets used to be high on that list, but the basket sections have been pretty lackluster for a while (and we have plenty of baskets!). This week we found some things that were really satisfying, and that I know will get used and enjoyed for years; a set of 8 (2 not shown) Weck jelly jars complete with clamps, seals and “keep fresh covers” (Steven found these, and brought them over, pretty happy with his find, knowing how I love Weck jars), a glass tea cup with strainer and lid (new in the box), an old wooden Weis box with beautiful dovetail joints, a big roll of paper tape, and TWO sheepskins! Who would thrift these?? I’ve already washed them with wool wash and they came out super soft and fluffy. I am thinking about gifting one to my sister for her new baby due soon.

Steven and I have some overlap of favorite sections, but we usually split up for most of our search, which between us, results in a pretty full sweep of the store.

What are your favorite sections at the thrift? Any exciting finds lately?

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love letters

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You can’t keep your hands off me, like we’re in silly new love ♥ We hold hands, and bring smiles to strangers when they see our happiness together.

 

tiny letters, to my love

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yogurt_7a

I love yogurt all ways – made up sweet in a smoothie with fruit, savory with seeds and herbs, as a topping on meals or a spread on sandwiches, as a supplement to swig down doses of flax oil and molasses… the list goes on. It has always been an important dietary staple in our home, and the benefits of eating cultured dairy are many. My only qualm, in past years, was with the countless plastic quart containers that accumulated with our yogurt consumption.

I don’t know how it took me as long as it did to discover how easy it was to make yogurt myself. It’s really, really easy!

There are many yogurt tutorials out there, I am sure, but we all do things a little differently so I thought I would share my method. Now that I’ve developed a rhythm, I find the process to be so easy I can do it almost without thinking. While it takes many hours from start to completion, the actual time required of you to be in the kitchen is maybe 10 minutes, as most of the time is simply letting your yogurt do it’s thing.

I make one gallon of yogurt at a time, but you can make any amount that works for your household. I like to make the most of my yogurt-making sessions, and typically we (mostly I!) consume about a gallon of yogurt every 2 weeks.

Ingredients and Materials:

Milk

Plain yogurt (for your starter)

Jars or other seal-able glass storage containers

A milk thermometer

A pot or pots large enough to hold your milk

Stainless measuring spoons

Stainless or glass stirrer

A few notes: You will need as much milk as the amount of yogurt you want to produce. For example, to make a gallon of yogurt you need a gallon of milk. I use Organic Valley Whole Milk. I wouldn’t recommend using skim, but a lower fat milk should work fine. You will need about 2 Tbs of yogurt per quart of milk. I use Nancy’s organic whole milk yogurt. You will need enough storage jars to accommodate the full quantity of milk, plus a small amount of extra (equal to the quantity of yogurt starter you use).

To Make:

The short… heat milk, cool milk, mix in yogurt starter, pour into containers, incubate, refrigerate.

The long….

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1. Clean all of your materials thoroughly (pots, jars, stirrers, etc). Since we are dealing with fermentation, and are attempting to cultivate healthy bacteria – not unhealthy bacteria – cleanliness is very important, and is the easiest way to insure success. You can use the sanitization method of your choice. I scrub everything thoroughly, rinse with very hot water, and then do a final rinse with purified water and drip dry (this isn’t “sanitization” per se, but it works well for me).

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2. Pour your milk into your cook pot/s and heat to 170-175 degrees, stirring occasionally. I set my stove to a medium low temperature and let it heat slowly, so that if I get distracted it’s unlikely I will burn the milk. I have accidentally allowed it to reach 190 or so without burning, due to the slowness of the temperature rise. You don’t want to burn your milk! It will taste yucky.

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3. Once your milk has reached temperature, take it off the heat, stirring for a minute or so to avoid scalding on the bottom. Now let it cool, down to about 110-115 degrees. This will take some time, so you can go on to do other things for a while. (Heating the milk is a precautionary measure, to kill any unwanted bacteria that may compete with the bacteria you are trying to grow to make your yogurt. Cooling the milk is important so you do not kill your starter).

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4. When the milk has cooled to 110-115,  pour a small amount of it into one of your jars, and mix with the appropriate amount of yogurt starter per the quantity of milk in the pot you drew from. Stir the small mixture until the yogurt is dissolved, and then pour it back into your pot of milk. Now mix it in so that it’s well dispersed throughout the pot of milk.

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5. Pour your yogurt milk into jars, lid them loosely, and now it’s time to ferment.

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For the incubation period, I set all of my jars on a heavy glass bake pan and place it in the oven.* I heat the oven to 100 degrees and then promptly turn it off.  Every few hours, I turn the oven heat back on (a minute or less, set at the lowest temperature possible) and then turn it back off. I usually leave my yogurt to ferment for 12-18 hours (this is relatively long, so you may like to experiment with different fermentation times).

*Note about using an oven: My oven doesn’t maintain a  temperature lower than 170 degrees. It has a digital readout though, that tells me what temperature it is inside so I can monitor the rise and turn it off at the appropriate time. I have a rule for myself that I CAN NOT multi task while waiting for it to heat.  It is too easy to get distracted. I have nearly cooked/killed my yogurt before. Take care not overheat and kill your yogurt. If your oven can maintain a heat of 100 degrees on it’s own, you have the perfect yogurt maker!! If you do not have a digital readout, a minute or less of heat is plenty. You are simply providing assistance in the fermentation process by creating a warm environment. I aim for around 100 degrees for yogurt fermentation, though lower temperatures will work as well. It will just take a little longer.

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When your yogurt is finished, seal your containers snugly and store them in the fridge.

I find it really satisfying to put away a gallon of fresh yogurt! Your yogurt will have firmed up quite a lot – something like creamy pudding – and will firm up a little more once it refrigerates. It should have that pleasant, slightly sour/sweet smell. Home made yogurt is not as thick as store bought (in my experience), but the thickness will depend quite a bit on how long you ferment for – firming up more (as well as becoming more tart), with longer fermentation time.

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Now that you have your own yogurt made, you can use it as your starter for the next batch. I have read that if you are using your own starter, it should be no more than 2 weeks old, and if it is older than that to start with a new starter again, though I haven’t verified how important this actually is. I usually use my own starter 2 or 3 times, and then start with a new one again.

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If you have never made yogurt before, I hope you try it! Feel free to ask any questions you might have.

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