Tuesday, September 1, 2015

DIY Seed Packets

We're nearing the end of summer, today is the very first day of September! Can you believe it? As the garden begins to fade, we're already dreaming of planting next year.  One of the best ways to prepare for next year's gardening season is by saving the seeds of your best plants and flowers this year!  I spent some time this weekend doing just that. 

I gathered dried seeds and pods from things in our gardens and then packaged them neatly in these fun little DIY seed packets.  I found a great pattern for the body of the packet and then added my own custom labels.  Here's how you can make them too:

The instructions on the packet pattern printable are super simple, I printed the pattern onto decorative paper for a colorful touch.  After gluing my labels on, I filled each one with seeds and wrote their names on the lines provided.  
Store seed packets in a cool dry place until you're ready to use them next year! 
Psst...These also make great gifts or favors! 
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Friday, August 21, 2015

Tomato, Fig, & Gorgonzola Tart

It's tomato season!  We've got some beautiful tomatoes growing in the garden, we grew some gorgeous heirlooms this year that have a dark purple almost black flush to them.  I needed a dish to bring to my Aunt's annual "Tomato Fest" so I thought up this quick Tomato, Fig, & Gorgonzola Tart.  The best part is, I used a ready made pie crust so this literally came together in about 10 minutes.
Tomato, Fig, & Gorgonzola Tart

- 3 large (or 1 large and 3 small ) fresh tomatoes
- 6 fresh figs
- 1 ready-made pie crust
- 1 cup crumbled gorgonzola (feta or goat cheese would work nicely as well)

Preheat Oven to 375.  Slice tomatoes about 1/4 inch think and spread on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 5-10mins or until bubbly (juice running out onto pan) and slightly browned.  Meanwhile, slice figs in 1/4 inch slices. 
Prepare pie crust by laying flat on an oven-safe pan or dish.  Arrange cooked tomato slices and raw fig slices in a spiral pattern (tomato, fig, tomato, fig etc.) on top of  the pie crust leaving about an inch in from the edge free all around.  Sprinkle with the gorgonzola and fold the edges of the crust up all around.  Bake for 10 minutes at 375 and then reduce the temp to 350 degrees for additional 20 mins or so, or until the crust is nicely browned.  Allow to cool and serve.  Works great cool the next day as well.

Since this was the only pie crust I had, and there was no way to taste test, I did the unthinkable.  I brought a dish to a party that I'd made up, and hadn't pretested! Much to my relief there was not a slice left in the dish by the end of the night so I guess it's safe to say it was a hit.  Someone made the suggestion that some caramelized onions would have been an awesome addition as well! Yum!

Did you grow any tomatoes this year?  What delicious things are you making with your home grown goodies?

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Best Things in Life Are Free

Last weekend was a momentous one...My grandma, Ithaca based artist Ethel Vrana , had a beautiful show and my family from the west coast came for a visit.  We all gathered at the house in upstate New York for a beautiful weekend together. The gallery opening Friday night was a huge success and Saturday brought swims in the creek, flower wreaths, good food and a wonderful concert from my Uncle Dan ( Daniel Boone's Fault ).
There are few things better than art, family, delicious food, and great music.  The combination of these things is what makes the world turn round...

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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Plant Printed Clay Coasters

I wrote the date on a document today and realized it's already August... August!!  This summer has just flown by.  I'm already anticipating the sadness that comes with saying goodbye to my summer garden. Every year I try and find ways to immortalize a tiny bit of what was grown that year, to remind me of that joy during cold winter months.  Last year I shared how to press flowers using books , which was a lot of fun. This year I decided to press some of the leaves and little flower heads into clay to make these simple coasters.

You will need :

- 8 oz. white polymer clay
- Several sturdy leaves and flowers, with interesting patterns (washed and dried)
- Wax paper
- Rolling pin
- Indigo blue paint and paint brush
- Felt for backing the coasters 

(Tip:  Thicker leaves and sturdy flowers without petals work best!)

Working in sections, mold a ball of clay and roll flat to about 1/4 inch thickness.  Using a round dough punch, or a thin rimmed glass like I did.  Keep the punched clay circles on wax paper and place leaves/flowers on the faces of each. 
(Tip: Think through the placement of the flower/leaf before placing because any indentation will show.  Also avoid too much touching as fingerprints will show as well.)
After placing the leaves/flowers, place a fresh sheet of wax paper over the whole group and gently roll over them with the rolling pin.  Use a gentle pressure, just enough to imprint the plant but not so much as to distort the round coaster shape.

Carefully peel off the plants and bake at 275 degrees for 15mins per 1/4 inch (20mins should do it for about 4 coasters).

Lightly brush a single coat of paint.  Let dry.  Apply a second coat of paint and while still wet, use a tissue or napkin to smudge away the paint where the shape of the leaf or flower is. If desired apply a clear coat (modpodge or clear lacquer).

When everything is fully dry you may add a circle of felt to the back of each coaster.

I love these because they remind me of the "sun prints" that my Mom helped us make as kids - the deep, deep blue and ghostly white shadows of little trinkets and bits of nature...


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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Week of Wonder

To say we had a wonderful week out on the Cape this year is an understatement...it's not often that you get a week straight of perfect weather.  We also ventured to Nantucket Island by ferry, which is a place I've dreamt of for a very long time...

Our little Airbnb cabin in Eastham was simply perfect, the kind of place that smells like warm pine every time you open the door.  We had a small covered porch off the back which made meals outdoors extra perfect.
Have you ever been in love with a place that you've never been, and then you finally arrive and it's everything you'd imagined?  This was my feeling about sweet Nantucket...
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