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Posts Tagged ‘organic’

mason_bees_0

I have a fun, simple project for you this week, and it will most likely cost you nothing, take you just a few minutes to make and will create habitat for garden pollinators. It’s also an enjoyable way to observe nature at work. With a little pile of scrap wood we made a few mason bee houses for our garden and yard, and a couple to give as gifts as well.

mason_bees_3

Mason bees are small, cute, oblong, fuzzy little bees that make efficient pollinators in the garden. They can be blue-green, or dark-colored like the one pictured above. This little lady is not the first to make a nest in this hole in our unfinished door frame.

The female mason bee gathers nectar and pollen and stashes it in the back of the hole until there is a sufficient food store for her young. Once there is enough food to supply the larvae, she lays an egg on the food store and then seals the egg in with a bit of mud. She then brings in more pollen and nectar in front of the previous mud layer, lays another egg, covers it with more mud, and stacks like so until the cavity is full. Once the cavity is full, she seals the hole with a final layer of mud. Maybe you have seen these mud filled holes and wondered what was in there.

Here is a link to more information on mason bees, if you are interested in learning more – http://gardening.wsu.edu/library/inse006/inse006.htm. I think these little bees are pretty fascinating!

mason_bees_2

We have an endless supply of scrap wood from our various home projects and are always looking for functional ways to use it up. We cleaned up some sections of 4×4, cut an angle at the top to accommodate a little sloped roof, and then drilled 1/4 inch diameter holes in the outer rows and 3/16″ holes down the center. We used all the depth we had in this case, and drilled almost to the back of the 4×4. Typically, larger diameter holes are recommended (5/16″), but maybe our bees here on the coast are pretty small, or maybe they actually prefer smaller than the recommendation. The hole in the door frame is about 1/8″ in diamter, for example.

We used sections of old fence pickets for the roof (not totally necessary, but shelter from rain is nice, right?) and as a backing to make mounting it easy.

Apparently, it is best to hang the house facing east or southeast, for morning sun. The face of that door frame above is pretty much dead south, so a little variation from that recommendation probably won’t break the deal.

mason_bees_1

I’m looking forward to observing these bees more closely. We really enjoy creating habitat for beneficial species of all kinds at our place.

How do you invite beneficial insects to your garden?

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little winter garden

Treats for the bees and treats for us.

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I made some organic gluten free cookies this weekend that turned out well enough I thought they’d be worth sharing. I tend to steer away from cookie recipes because of the huge amounts of sugar called for, but lately I just want some cookies!

After finding a few different recipes on the web that I could relate to, I made my own variation with less sugar, some changes to the flour mixture and the addition of coffee grounds. They came out light, a little bit flaky, moist and soft, with a slight crisp around the edges – not to mention super tasty. Pretty close to perfect.

Recipe:

1 3/4 cups brown rice flour

1/4 cup tapioca flour

1/4 cup arrowroot powder

2 Tbs ground flaxseed

3 Tbs ground sesame seeds

1 tsp xanthan gum

1/4 cup raw sugar

1/2 cup maple syrup

2 eggs

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

3/4 Cups softened butter (1.5 sticks)

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 Tbs coffee grounds

1 1/2 Cups dark chocolate chips

Mix together your dry ingredients, including chocolate chips, and with the exception of the sugar.

Cream the softened butter with the sugar, maple syrup and vanilla extract.

Add the eggs to the butter mixture and stir well.

Now combine everything together and mix well.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Spread your cookie sheet with oil, or cover with parchment paper. Since we don’t cook on metal, I used oiled glass bake pans.

Spoon dough onto the pan, spaced about 1.5 – 2 inches apart.

Bake for 9-15 minutes, depending on how you like them, and what kind of pan you cook them on. On glass, I cooked mine for close to 15 minutes. Glass takes longer to heat than metal though, so set your timer for 9 minutes and then keep a watch on them. When they are done, make sure to eat some right out of the oven! When they fully cool, they are a soft cookie, and I am happy with how well they retained their moisture.

Next time I will try adding twice the coffee grounds and only about half the sweetener, and I’d probably add some seeds, nuts or oats for a more balanced snack. With all the chocolate chips, I think they would be sweet enough (for me) without any additional sweetener.

I have heard enthusiastic mentions of these cookies at least half a dozen times today. They were a big success… and I got my cookie fix.

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I’ve been enjoying combining vintage wool checks and plaids, beautiful salvaged leather, and linen. It just seems so perfect. Maybe even better than perfect.

The Amesbury Bag and Clutch are available in the shop.

amesbury bag

amesbury clutch

More Amesbury bags and clutches are on the way. They will all be limited in quantity. Some will be one of a kind.

camera bag in plum

A new color for the camera bag is available now too. This rich plum feels so autumnal, don’t you think?

 

I hope you all had a happy Halloween and a wonderful weekend! We enjoyed a beatiful afternoon walking on the riverfront, followed by a festive evening at a costume party.

Tomorrow is the full moon. If you get a chance, remember to step outside in the night air and enjoy it, even for just a moment.

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I have added a couple new pairs of organic shoes to the shop.

One is for ladies, in golden yellow.  These will be quite limited… maybe 2 pairs.

organic eco toes in golden yellow

The other is for babies – a more subtle version of my very popular ‘Pink and Green.’

organic baby boots in pink and green

More new styles are in the works, including a fun surprise that has been long-awaited by some of you : )

I won’t make any promises on when though, as I life is so very full right now!

I hope you all have had a wonderful week! See you soon.

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A new color in the shop.

Organic Essentia Satchel

I have had this fabric on hand for a while now, and it’s just been begging to be made into something in time for the season of sunshine.

Check out the new Organic Essentia Satchel in Golden Yellow.

I hope you all have a spectacular weekend!

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Hello! Help yourself to some savory herb corn cake. There is a lot to celebrate and it is due time we had a little party, don’t you think?

corncake

I will start by sharing a few things I am celebrating, for myself and for infusion

~ infusion (the shop) turned one year old back in March and within that little year has been successful in a way I would never have anticipated.

~ My beau and I will soon be first time home owners. Woo!!

~ Spring is really truly here (today in particular!), with the birds nesting, flowers in full bloom, bees happily wallowing in pollen, sun shining, and everything so very green to show it.

~ I am happy and healthy and look forward to each day.

~ and I have made so many supportive and wonderful friends here via the internets, in a way I did not know was possible.

~ This giveaway is for you, my friends, and this includes the friends out there I have yet to meet.

giveaway may 24

To make this twice the fun, there will be two gift recipients. The first will receive a pair of handmade slippers in their size, similar to the pair shown, and will have their choice of recycled leather or natural hemp for the sole. The second will receive a hand stamped hemp zipper pouch lined with mustard yellow organic cotton plus a little bitty unnamed surprise.

If you would please leave a comment sharing one thing (or many things!) you are grateful for or find worthy of celebrating at our little party, I will choose 2 of your names at random, to be the recipients of these handmade eco friendly gifts.

There are no restrictions. Anyone is invited to participate.

giveaway may 24

giveaway may 24

I will announce the results sometime Wednesday morning.

In the meantime, enjoy yourselves to the fullest *

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new shoes

I rarely ever, almost never, make anything for myself.

As we transition into warmer weather here, it’s often a little too warm for my winter slippers, a little too cool to be barefoot, and with so many wool rugs in the house my socks end up completely covered in fuzz… so with all the shoes I have been making, why on earth do I not have my own pair???

In the midst of this quandary, I found a bag full of beautiful leather scraps at the thrift store. While I appreciate leather as a functional and durable material, I do not go out of my way, for ethical reasons, to purchase it new; though I have been secretly hoping to find some scrap to use for soles. So, you can probably guess where this is going… I have some new shoes, and yep they have leather soles (and organic fleece linings, of course!) : )

new shoes

AND, perhaps even more exciting… tomorrow evening I am having a giveaway!

So do come visit tomorrow for a fun surprise!

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Gluten Free, Whole Grain, Organic Chocolate Chip Brownies

gluten free brownies

I have always been an improvisational baker, which allows for a freedom that I enjoy, and it is fun (most of the time) to have that little element of surprise at the end. The problem is, when I get a recipe REALLY RIGHT I usually can’t reproduce it, and then I always wish I had written it down. So today, I decided that what ever I did, I would keep track. I did pretty well, although there were at least 3 instances where I forgot to pour ingredients into the measuring cup and poured straight into the mixing bowl instead… so I had to estimate the amounts on paper (this is my disclaimer).

Today’s brownies turned out pretty awesome, so I thought I would share my recipe. We are not big sweet tooths, so if you are you will definitely want to up the sweetness. These are sweetened almost entirely by the chocolate chips. All ingredients used were organic.

gluten free brownies

Dry Ingredients:

2 Cups brown rice flour

1/4 Cup flax seed, ground (I do this with a coffee grinder)

1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds, ground (I also do this with a coffee grinder)

1/3 cup millet flour (I grind the whole grain in a coffee grinder)

1/2 Cup cocoa powder

1 Tbs arrowroot powder

1 tsp baking powder

pinch of xanthan gum

pinch of sea salt

1 Cup (approx) semi sweet chocolate chips (yes, this is quite a lot of chocolate)

1/3 cup raw, whole, unsalted cashews

gluten free brownies

Wet Ingredients:

1 fresh egg

1 Cup whole milk

4 Tbs melted butter (1/2 stick)

drizzle of maple syrup.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, mix all your dry ingredients well.

Melt butter.

Beat egg.

Mix all your wet ingredients together.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir. It will be very thick at first. I then add milk, stir, add milk, stir… until the consistency is that of cake batter. I probably used about 2 total cups of milk in the end. (I do it this way out of habit, since each recipe is different and different whole grain flours behave differently).

Pour batter into an oiled and floured cake pan. I baked for approximately 45 minutes, but you should check it periodically, since all ovens can be a little bit different.

To test whether they are done or not, poke a wooden toothpick in the center. When it comes out free of batter (you will find melted chocolate on it though), your brownies are ready to come out of the oven.

I liked these best after they had fully cooled, and set well, but we had our first serving as soon as they were cool enough to eat.

This is a hearty brownie, denser than you might be used to, very chocolaty and not so sweet.

gluten free browniesEnjoy!

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for the girls

A new pair of boots are in the shop, just for little girls. Made with vintage linen, cotton, hemp and organic cotton/hemp fleece. I am happy with the end result of the balance of pinks and earthy tones.

Organic Baby Boot for Girls

Organic Baby Boot for Girls

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