More Than a Party

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A few months ago, while nestled in my bed reading an issue of my favorite magazine, Taproot, I happened upon a lovely little piece written by Amanda Riley about a gathering called a “Swap Party.”  The concept and spirit behind this type of affair really intrigued me and I knew that I someday wanted to host such an event.  I mentioned the idea to my neighbor, Sarah, who was not only on-board to co-host this swap, but she seemed to be just as passionate as I was about how amazing such a function could be.

This past weekend, we held this get-together celebrating all things handmade and homegrown, while also honoring community.  Most women at our gathering had never met prior to this evening, but there was so much magic around the table as this community of makers each showcased her unique strengths and talents.

It seems the news and social media are just exploding lately with all the ways we are different.  Separate.  But what about all those entities that bind us?  Crafting and cooking, yes.  But, those heart felt discussions sharing our experiences of love and loss as well.  Today, let us focus on those things that unify.  It is so much more liberating to search for ways to build the bridges of community than to find ways of destroying them.

Obsessed

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Obsessed.  There is no other way to describe what is happening in this house right now after discovering this new craft.  The possibilities are endless.

A Vessel

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Friends, I’m telling you, there are times when it is just awesome to have a dad who owns a hardware store.  For those times you want to paint a room, or unclog a drain, or make a basket.  Wait, what? Yup.  I think I did indeed just find a new obsession:  rope basket making.

For months now, I have been eying Amanda Blake Soule’s baskets made with clothesline on her blog.  I yearned to make one myself, but was not confident in my sewing ability.  Then Taproot’s “Folk” issue arrived on my doorstep, and within its pages were step-by-step instructions for these rope baskets.  So, this week I decided to give it a try.  I went to my dad’s hardware store, bought some clothesline, and got to work.

Now let me be clear…I am by no means a seamstress.  I can barely handle sewing pajama pants and nightgowns for my girls.  So believe me when I tell you, these baskets are a cinch to make, and so much fun!  And there is something so meditative about working in a circular pattern, which made this particular project that much more wonderful.  Once I got started, I couldn’t stop.  Have I said making this basket was a blast?  🙂

Dinner ended up being super late to the table and my family was starving, but I made a fabulous basket!  I think I will find myself in the rope aisle of my dad’s hardware store again very soon.  Man, this is fun!

(P.S.  If you are in my family, plan to get a basket for your birthday this year.  And Christmas.  And on a random Tuesday.)

Let There Be Light

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A few months back, my girls and I were thrilled to read “Hand-Dipped Beeswax Candles” by Amber Ek in Taproot Issue 7 :: Gather.  The notion of making our very own candles seemed like such fun!  The article drummed up memories from my past when I use to make my own hand-dipped candles in middle school while working as a volunteer at Midway Village, an amazing museum with a Victorian village.  I remember the experience with such fondness and I wanted my girls to indulge in the experience as well.

So, last Tuesday we ventured to the stove, and with a whole lot of adult supervision, we crafted four pillar candles that later lit our Thanksgiving table.  We had such fun that I’m sure candle-making will become an annual crafting experience in our home.

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“Oh, Jam? I Love Jam!”

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I think I love jam just as much as I love Friends…and what could be better than an entire Friends episode dedicated to jam?  Love it!  That’s why all afternoon, as my four year old and I worked in our strawberry-coated kitchen, I couldn’t help but hear Joey’s voice in my head repeating, “Oh, jam?  I love jam?”

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Yesterday, while my oldest was away at camp, my tiny sous chef and I worked with Pomona’s Universal Pectin, a wonderful low-sugar pectin (as we did in this post as well), and ended up with some absolutely fabulous results.  When making jam last year, we used the low-sugar recipe options included with the Pomona’s Pectin.  This year, we tried out two no-sugar options, taste tested them this morning, and yummy…delicious!

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The first recipe we tried was simply the cooked strawberry jam recipe included inside the Pomona’s box.  We used the honey sweetening option and it is delicious.  The second recipe we tried is from the latest issue of Taproot.  And oh boy, let me tell you, this recipe is amazing!  It is a strawberry-maple with vanilla jam recipe, specifically designed for Pomona’s Pectin.  And the best part about this fabulous recipe is the only sweetener is maple syrup.

Happy jam-making season all!

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Garden Party

This Mother’s Day was one for the memory books. I rose early for some quiet time with my hubby.  I sipped coffee while he made homemade cinnamon rolls that he and the girls were planning to serve to me later. When the girls awoke, the wild rumpus started (Oh Maurice Sendak, you will forever be remembered.) There were cards, there was frosting, and there were the most precious video cards that the girls and Tyler had worked on the day before, complete with costumed princesses, fairies and singing. It was a wonderful start to a fabulous day!

When the noon hour arrived, so did our entire family for our first annual Mother’s Day Garden Party. The kids played the day away in the playhouse, entertained us with their musical instruments, and then rounded out the day in the kiddie pool. The adults enjoyed rhubarb bellinis (yet another favorite Jamie Oliver recipe of mine taken from this cookbook), some tasty food, and of course, great company.

On the food docket for the day was pulled pork that I slow roasted for fifteen hours the day before, served with two different barbeque sauces my hubby made that morning. We also enjoyed rhubarb squares (the recipe can be found in this post), a mojito cake made from a Pampered Chef recipe I love to bust out when the weather gets nice, and coconut macaroons that I found a recipe for in Taproot magazine. All of our guests also brought dishes to pass including salad made with home-grown lettuce, and mushroom crustini’s made with locally grown mushrooms and bread baked by nuns in an area convent.

I know I mentioned it yesterday, but again, I hope that all of the mothers out there had a wonderful day on Sunday. We are all so lucky to be able to tend to our children each and every day. Even though some days can be rough, and we may want to just take a momma’s time out, it is comforting to know there are a plethora of other moms out there giving it their all.  Thank you for reading this blog, for your comments, and your thoughts.  It is a true blessing.