Tuesday, November 18, 2014

D.I.Y



I'm working on a holiday display for the store at home today. Instead of the cliche red and green,glitter and sparkle (which I still love in the right context), I'm using burlap and chalkboard paint with black and white color scheme and some green for accent. The tables will be covered in the burlap and all of our DIY kits and tools and things will be displayed in some festive way, some on this plant stand. I want it to have a seasonal feel, but in keeping with a garden store that sells hydroponics and homebrew. We have a certain customer that doesn't do glitter and gold, if you know what I mean. 

Sybil came in from the cold to help me. Do any of you bring your chickens in the house for a visit? I love that I can bring a dang live chicken in my house if I get in the mood for it!

 I also love that I found a job that lets me get my visual merchandising fix, something I have been missing for way too long. And I get to make prop things, another obsession and I get to work with nice young, smart people and beautiful plants. How did this happen!?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Fermenting continues



The fermentation project continues. I'm trying to come up with good probiotic items that Gerry will also like. I like the salty vinegar brine of fermentation but he isn't really into that so much. So today, I experimented with ways to get the fermented veggies into things that would mask the fermentation. I  made these kimchi spring rolls with rice paper wrappers, added the fermented kimchi with some spinach leaves and some of the tomatillo salsa. Really good.


I also made some spinach hummus. I fermented the chickpeas by soaking them overnight in apple cider vinegar that had the mother, the beans sprouted after a 12 hour soak and I mixed them with tahini, lemon juice, garlic and spinach for a really great fresh hummus. Big hit. Looks pretty on the pottery doesn't it? I like that there are ways to get the probiotic benefits from other foods than just sauerkraut and pickled beets. 


For lunch today, I made veggie wraps with the fermented vegetables. Just cut them into matchstick size, added some olive oil, cheese and lettuces from the garden and served with the tomatillo salsa, some chips and some chile sauce, also fermented. So far so good. Everything has been tasty and extremely healthy. I made a batch of vegan chocolate chip cookies, mostly out of curiousity to see how they would taste. They were fine, but you can't touch a buttery chocolate chip cookie with real chocolate and eggs and butter. 

Feeling pretty healthy with all of this eating of the veg.  I can just feel my gut flora having a party in there already, haha! Still blogging with my iPad, I find it incredibly annoying, but my computer with its blinky screen is more annoying, so whatever. Maybe one of these days I'll do something about it......

Friday, November 14, 2014

Fermentation



There is a lot of buzz right now about fermentation. I'm not usually one to jump on the same bus everyone else is hopping on, but this one makes sense to me. I read a good post that blogger Scott Garrett wrote on a fermenting workshop he did. I like workshops for learning, but I'm on my own around here, so I bought a book.  For the past year I have started having digestive problems, and so has Gerry. Apparently it comes with this over 50 business. Our stomachs stop producing enough acid to work with the gut to properly process the foods we eat. I cook healthy meals, but there seems to be something missing. The more I read about fermentation, the more it seems this could be the missing link. Back in the day, our parents and grandparents ate a lot of fermented foods. I did too as a kid, but have gotten away from it. 

The shop I work at has a great library of DIY books and we have a whole section on fermenting supplies. I bought this book and spent yesterday trying out some of the recipes.


Gerry doesn't like the vinegar taste that comes with traditional fermenting, but this book had a lot of recipes that were nothing like the fermenting kraut and pickles I remember. I made a really great chilie sauce that can be used for stirfry and momos, much like the one the monks made when they were here. I also made some kimchi, some tomatillo and mint salsa, a really good combo of green apple, ginger and radish, a layer of fermented veggies, and a pineapple cilantro chutney. I sprouted some chickpeas overnight and today I'm going to try the spinach hummus with fermented chickpea.  


The recipes were really simple and are full of healthy ingredients: garlic, ginger, onion, carrots, cabbage, radish, pineapple, pear, mint, green beans, apple, cauliflower, tomatillos......  It's not just about sauerkraut and dill pickles anymore! 


This is the salsa and the chilie sauce. Looks like perfect Christmas gifts to me..... I made small quantities since I had no idea where this was going and how any of it would be, less waste that way. Both of these were amazing, hot but really flavorful.


The chickens also benefit!





I continue to learn and to enjoy working at Fifth Season. I know what all of the soils are now, I am getting a grasp on the hydroponics systems, learning more about soil amendments, getting better at not screwing up on the computer. I still struggle with the homebrew, so many tiny details....  
I am re-learning house plants from way back when I had a lot of them. And now I'm tryng out the cheese making and fermentation kits we have. Everyone at the store has a specialty, something they are very knowledgeable about. I can see the cheese and fermenting being where I will lean. 

 I have proposed some workshops for the spring. Gift making with kids for Mothers Day and Fathers Day, painting terra cotta pots, making garden stakes, etc. one of the other guys is interested in doing a kids gardening workshop so we might team up. I would also like to do some fermenting taste testing and maybe a workshop when I get this dialed in. So many possibilities to increase sales and customer information. 

I love all of it, but the thing I like most, is that they just say, fix this area, and I get to do whatever I want. Three weeks now, and I have just about re merchandised the whole store, cleaned it, made little displays and made everything flow better for a shopper. It wasn't bad before, but I think like a shopper and now it's just a bit more idea inspiring....




A year ago, when I started thinking about getting a job, I worried about how it would change my life style. I would be tied to a job, not able to do what I wanted anytime, having to work around a schedule. But I think I was ready for a change. "Chasing money" as blogger Sandy Miller (Paine Falls blog)so aptly put it, has just plain wore me out. Shuffling funds to pay for shows and supplies and shipping and dues and all that comes with trying to sell art just tarnished my love for making. Now, I click on my bank app and money is deposited there, and all I had to do was show up and spend a few hours learning something new and talking with some really cool people. Not bad.....

Monday, November 10, 2014

Eating, purging, moving things around



We have had some of the most beautiful fall days recently. Today was one of the best. I love this golden time of year! We harvested the first of our winter greens yesterday. I really don't think I will want to ever buy another store bought bag of greens again. This was one of the tastiest salads I have ever had! Mesclun mix, chard, brussel flower leaves, basil, parsley, arugula, spinach, radish and yellow pepper, and carrots tossed with lemon juice and olive oil, sprinkled with toasted cashews and dried cranberries. Quite a concoction, but loaded with flavor! 


I roasted some buttery garlic potatoes and mushrooms, and while they were still hot from the oven, poured them over the salad, giving just a bit of wilt to the lettuces and then even more flavor. Simple eating, but I haven't ordered a salad in a fine dining restaurant that was this good. Served on a Jugtown Pottery pie plate with a glass of wine in a Joseph Sand cup, haven't had serving pieces this nice in a restaurant either! 
I had an odd episode the other night, woke up choking and sort of vomiting but not really. Lord have mercy, here comes those aging things! Is this my turn at acid reflux and will I now start paying attention to those Prilosec ads? Fuck.......   I am now watching what I eat to see if I can get this nasty business under control, because I just refuse to let these things get a hold of me! I got living to do, for crying out loud! Old age issues are not a part of my plan right now!!


My new job at The Fifth Season continues to be fun and interesting, I look forward to going to work, which has not happened in a long long time. Working with a bunch of guys in their twenties is amusing and delightful, I feel like a den mother or something, haha! 
The only little hiccup is that we have to wear the store t shirts. Nothing wrong with the way they look, except, I have a really weird thing about t shirts and they have to fit just so or they make my skin crawl. This shirt didn't fit me so well, so I cut it up and made myself an apron to wear. It is very handy and was a big hit. The pockets are perfect for holding my phone, a chap stick, a pen, knife, clippers, whatever I need to tuck away. Now my jean pockets aren't bulging in even more places than usual! Sorry for posting yet another photo of myself, but I wanted to show you this great apron!

I am spending most of my time in the store doing displays and rearranging things to make sense for a customer. Every time I do a display of something, the items featured sell. Imagine that! Take something that is pretty cool, get it down from the top shelf, dust it off, help the customers imagine a use for it, and out the door it goes. I seem to have a pretty intuitive sense for how people shop. I spent Saturday helping one customer put together a beautiful centerpiece for her Thanksgiving table, helped a man and his daughter design a plan for a wall mounted succulent garden, created a display for our new mushroom kits, and created a new window front with colorful paper lanterns that are solar powered. I forgot how clearly I understand retail merchandising. My first job was working as a visual designer for a department store, so I guess I have come full circle, just not dressing mannequins. 

I have realized that I have one particularly strong characteristic that continues to surface.When I was a little girl, I created environments in shoe boxes, terrariums in glass jars, Barbie penthouses on our bookcases or under our end tables. If there was a cubby, I was creating some sort of world in it. I also rearranged things in our house constantly. Every room. Constantly. I still do this. I know that we could go really deep here and find all sorts of psychological reasons for this, but I like this characteristic and don't need to work on getting a hold on this particular quirk! I enjoy making things look nice. I like symmetry and visual harmony and little vignettes that tell a story.

Sometimes my parents would go out to eat, which took hours. I hated going and stayed home on many of those occasions. As soon as they got out the door and the car was out of sight, I started moving furniture and knick knacks around. My poor mom never knew what she would come home and find. One time I actually switched our bedrooms, I mean everything, beds, clothes, lamps, all of it. They came home and just sort of went with it. I have to give them credit, I guess they realized there was nothing they could do about it, so they just went with the flow..... If I come home and a pillow is on the wrong chair, I have a problem.....  But again, Gerry and Wesley just sort of go with it. Once when our very old dog went blind, I had to stop moving things, because he would get so confused and run into the furniture. That might have been the longest I have gone without rearranging.

This past week, I attacked the attic. I took a car load of old toys and junk to the thrift store or out to the trash. It felt so good to have empty space in the attic. I went through boxes of holiday decorations, party things,Wesley's childhood books, her baby clothes, her most prized Pokemon items, her dragons, her dinosaurs, her hot wheels cars, Barbie world, stuffed animal world, so much I have kept! Just the things that were really tattered or not that special went out the door, her most treasured things are still here, waiting on my grand babies one day! 

And now I have a job where once again I get paid to move things around and make little worlds. How cool is that!? 


Today I got to do another fun thing. A friend of mine usually gives a presentation, along with other theatre artists, at Voyager Academy. He couldn't make it this year and suggested me. I said yes. This is a project based school and the sixth grade is working on a play presentation. All of their classes are included in the process. They write a play, vote on the best five, design the set, the props, the lighting, the marketing, all of it and it will be presented next month at The Durham Arts Council. The subject is environmental issues, off shore drilling, fracking, sustainable agriculture, and I forget the other two. Anyway, it was the most fun! Such smart smart kids, very polite, attentive, interested. The other artists invited were also interesting and it was just a fun day. Only one awkward moment when a director I had a past disagreement with walked in as one of the quest speakers. Ugh, don't burn those bridges, it's a small world! 

So, life is a happy place, except trying to find an affordable flight for Wesley to go to California for Christmas. What the hell is up with airfares?! 

Peace y'all
Xo

Monday, November 3, 2014

Winter gardening begins



There is one small problem with working at a garden shop. They give me a paycheck and I give it right back to them! Working continues to be fun and interesting and I look forward to the days I work. How could it get any better?!  Yesterday, I brought some pots home and repotted some plants. I potted Wesley's bamboo, it's been living in a jar of water far too long. 

This kitchen table! If it could talk! I have used it for sewing projects, school projects, soap making, when I was making pottery in my kitchen it held my ware boards, and then my finished work, I have used it for photographing work, and now potting plants. We even eat all of our meals here! I bought this table years ago, before Wes was born, at an English antiques store up near Boone. I paid a good bit for it, but knew it would serve us well, and it will probably be the only table we ever own. It has marks from where Wesley used to pound her fork,many scratches, and even a spot where I carved my name one night after too many beers. I later was able to sand it out thank goodness, haha! Many great meals and conversations at this table..... Good memories.

Back to gardening topics......

I am learning so much about soil and fertilizers, organic gardening, fermenting foods,beer making, hydroponics, indoor plants, outdoor plants, cheese making..... There's a whole world out there that I have just been skimming!  As I have said in previous posts, it's all about the learning for me.


I have begun the process of bringng in plants for winter. We had a freeze warning last night so everything got covered in our garden with agribon fabric and the rest came in. At work, we also started bringing in and editing. Orphan angel wing begonias that were going to get tossed in the trash came home with me for a second chance at life. I can propagate the ones that look like they might not make it, but I'm going to try to get them through the winter. For me there is nothing better than rooting plants and being successful. I see a greenhouse in my future.... My grandmother could stick any old leaf in some soil and make a beautiful plant. I seem to have her gift and most times I have success with it. I cloned her Christmas cactus and I now have several very nice plants. I have had the cactus for thirty years, God knows how long she had it before me. Now Wesley has one of the babies. So fantastic, the life of plants! I am thinking that I might like to get back to my pottery studio and make some pots for my new acquisitions.......


Gerry's winter garden is coming along nicely, even though we do suffer from lack of full sun, he has managed to get some lettuces and leafy greens up and looking strong. For his birthday, I got him this Japanese  Hori Hori knife. If you garden and you don't have one, I must insist that you go and get yourself one right away! It is the greatest garden tool I have ever seen! 


I have been learning about nutrients for organic gardening and I talked Gerry into trying one of General Organicss packages for growing. It's even a vegan program, so there's a nod to Wesley! Lots of good things for the plants. I think if you are going to go to the trouble to grow your own food, you should grow the best food you can, and plants need nutrition just like we do. They are living things and it's hard work producing those fruits.

Long long ago, when Gerry and I were just mere babes, we had a garden. I don't think we were even married yet. We chopped up some soil, made some rows and stuck some seeds in the ground. Things came up! We were so proud of ourselves. Then the beetles and bugs came and like good gardeners of the 1980's we went to the garden shop and bought a box of sevin dust, put masks and gloves on and poured that toxic white powder on every green thing in the garden. Thankfully we have evolved and we now have some sense! 

There has been no making, just reading and learning. I want to get some soaps made, but already my week is filling up with things that need to get done. So nice to have a full life. I'm grateful to have a curious mind. I don't envy those that have no hobbies other than making money.... I do sometimes envy the money, but it passes pretty quickly :-)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

A better one....



After I looked at the last photo of me with the chickens, I made an appointment to get my hair cut! Ahhhh,hair salons! God bless those people that wash and cut hair. It feels so great to sit back in that chair and let someone pamper you for an hour. I have been known to go for days without brushing, washing, looking at my hair only later to find chunks of clay or paint or fiber all in it. I know, yuck, right?! I will add that usually Gerry was traveling out of town when I let myself get so unkempt. Now that I'm working, in public, it seems like I need to wash my hair every now and then and maybe even give it a brush. But my hair is so thick, it can be very difficult to manage, so I got it all thinned and trimmed and it feels like I lost a couple of pounds. 

Gerry has been off this week and we took some time to get some house projects done. Stained the front porch, back deck, side porch, painted the white trim, tore the carpet out of the upstairs closet where our dog had dug a hole through to the plywood. Painted the wood glossy white, it looks great. We cleaned all the windows, inside and out, they sparkle! Today I drank a pot of french press coffee and zoomed around the house like blogger Sandy Miller! I dusted, vacuumed, washed baseboards, cleaned rugs, moved furniture around, and even managed to get a nice dinner prepared. We are hoping to get our house ready to go on the market by spring, 
but where will we go..... we have been looking for two years with no luck, just can't find an interesting house anywhere. Hopefully something will turn up.

Not really making anything, just tidying up life. I have ignored too many things for clay and weaving, so I'm catching up now. Feels good to get life in order!


Monday, October 27, 2014

October



October is one of those months you wish could last just a little while longer. The light is golden, the air is fresh and cool, the leaves are colorful and crunchy to walk on. The sunlight on the water sparkles like crystal, the skies are the bluest blue. There is a promise of rebirth to come after the drying and browning of August. October whispers,Spring will be back quick as a wink, just wait for it!

I almost didn't post this photo, I feel like I'm looking a bit like an old crazy chicken lady here, but maybe I am, so what the hell, here it is..... I'm looking at my grandmother Sybil in this photo, she would have been wearing a similar scarf, her hair was long, but she wore it up with lots of hairpins,
always navy blue or black clothing, always. She was a Quaker after all. Only she didn't have those dark circles... I suppose these come with insomnia....... sleeping three to four hours a night gives you that lovely shade under the eyes....



We have been taking advantage of this glorious weather as much as possible. This is Gerry's Instagram post from Hanging Rock State Park.. The paparazzi are our two college mates that we have been friends with since we were 19 and in school together, all of them except me were in the photography program. We had a great day hiking and enjoying the most amazing weather. It's so great to have these friends for so many years and still have a bunch of fun together. Also nice that Wesley can share this time with us. 

 I haven't taken time to blog in awhile, I only have my iPhone and iPad now, and they are not the greatest blogging tools. I am less than motivated to struggle through it most days. My laptop is dying a slow death, the screen blinks on and off, on and off, the battery literally is swollen and bursting open, not kidding, it got hot! And my camera died.



Gerry celebrated 55 years yesterday. Wesley was able to make it home for the day,we weren't sure she would be able to get home,but she is a trooper when it comes to being with us on special occasions. She brought pumpkins with her so she and Gerry could spend the afternoon with their traditional pumpkin carving. This is their thing,not mine. But I love watching!


We had a nice quiet afternoon and then they wanted to watch a scary movie. Again, their thing, not mine. They found Day of the Dead on Netflix and so we watched that. Not scary,just gross, gross, gross, how many people can be ripped apart and eaten by zombies in two hours anyway? I remember Gerry going to see it with Corky (one of the paparazzi in the previous photo) back in the 80's and coming home talking about how it was the scariest movie he had ever seen. Seriously,horror has come a long way since then! 

Work is fun, I actually look forward to going, can't wait for Friday to get here. The customers are all so happy, everyone brewing beer and growing gardens and buying things for their hydroponics and their yards. Best kind of job! Working around all the plants has me wanting to make some flower pots. We sell Guy Wolffe pottery, and I pick it up and think, well, I can make that.... Just stamp my dang name on there! So I might.....

I got Gerry a great japanese Hori Hori knife and a multi purpose hoe type garden tool, yep I got him a hoe and a hori for his birthday,haha! Just what he needs :-)

So, life is good, Child is happy and in love, work is great, Gerry is on vacation this week, so we have house projects to work on and I am in a really good place mentally....

Accepting of things I cannot change and changing the things I cannot accept. 
It's all good, y'all :-)