Wednesday, July 25, 2007

One Local Summer - Week Five

This is a bit of a redo of last week's meal. We had a lot of goodies left over. I bought a hot pepper from a farm stand operated by inner-city teens. They have an urban garden in Lancaster (7 miles from me) that they plant and maintain with guidance from the adults who started the program. They have a stand at Eastern Market, which is also where I was able to purchase from Promisedland Farms and the farm that raises the free-range chicken in this dish. The hot pepper led me to make a chicken/veggie saute with a more Southwestern flair. In additon to the hot pepper and chicken, I used green pepper, green onion and red tomatos from Harvest Lane Farms, 3 miles away. My cheats were olive oil and seasonings.

The exciting addition to the meal was CORN BREAD! Last night, while wandering the grocery (our grocery store is a family owned dairy/grocery that puts a big focus on local producers) I found locally milled corn meal. The company is Haldeman Mills in Manheim, PA, about 20 miles from us. So I decided to make corn bread from scratch. This had my husband chuckling and Thing One wide-eyed with amazement. I found some flour in the bulk foods section that is distributed locally, and I am waiting for a call back from the store letting me know whether or not it is also produced locally. The milk came from the dairy at the grocery store. And the butter from Guernsey's Gift Market in East Petersburg (7 miles.) The egg was also local. So the only cheats in the cornbread were the sugar and the baking powder.

We rounded out the meal with sweet corn grown by my Dad's cousin (2 miles) and plums again.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

hobbledehoy!! or The Kindness of Strangers

I do not know Liz, the seller behind the etsy shop, hobbledehoy, from Adam, but when she read my forum post asking where I should buy a Tecre Button Machine, she offered to LOAN ME HERS.

For those unfamiliar, a Tecre is the pinback button making machine recommended by all Etsy sellers who use button machines. And they cost $250!

I have been wanting one for the longest time, because I think it would be so fun to send out little stephaniegibson pins and magnets (the machine makes those too) as promos to my customers. I could also use the machine to make rings that I think would sell like crazy at Eastern Market. I have saved up all my sales money for the last three months to justify buying one, but I was still thinking maybe this was an impulse buy that was never going to pay for itself. Now, thanks to the generosity of Liz, I can try one out and see whether it is really something I need to invest in, or whether it is just another craft gadget for the closet where all non-jewelry-related craft gadgets go to live sad, lonely lives, unable to entertain even one another, because, of course, they are all still sealed in their original packaging.

So, help me celebrate by checking out Liz's shop. Not just as a favor to me, but because she is selling fiber batts called Riot in the Batcave!

One Local Summer - Week Four

I am late blogging about this meal, but life got in the way!

Free-range chicken from a farm in Paradise, PA (15 miles), sauteed with zucchini, yellow tomatoes and fresh basil from Promisedland Farm in Millersville, PA (15 miles). Also in the saute were onions left over from last week's meal. The roasted potatoes are from last week's farmstand visit. The gorgeous plums were purchased at our grocery store and the produce manager told me they were grown in York County (30 miles).

My cheats were olive oil, garlic and dried herbs.

The saute was really delicious. I sort of made it up as I was going along. I will definitely make it again.

The only thing the meal was missing was some crusty bread to dip in the broth that was left on the plate! Still searching for a local baker that uses local grains.

Monday, July 23, 2007

One Small Change - Week Nine

At this moment, in my garden, there are weeds taller than Thing Two.

Of course, I blame you and all your wonderful blogs.

My small change this week - one hour, first thing every morning, before I am awake enough to realize what I am doing, I will spend it working in the yard.

Do you notice how my computer time is dwindling? No more evenings on the computer. One less hour in the morning.

Hmm. When do the little people go back to school? Maybe you will see me more then.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Blog Break

Took a little break this week and still feeling uninspired to write or do much blog reading.

I'll be back next week.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Adventures of Ducky and Bunny

Ducky and Bunny (so named by Things One and Two in a temporary lapse of creativity) traveled to us all the way from Germany and the gentle, talented hands of Eva. They arrived in pretty paper wrapping, sewn closed with thread and identified with beautiful hand stamped tags. The design and workmanship of their embroidery is breathtaking.

Ducky was created just for Thing One. Thing One is a little too imaginative for her own good and often thinks up some scary things to torment her in the night. Her sweet, brave Ducky has the word "Courage" embroidered on the back, just to help her out a little when the dark is too frightening.

Bunny was created for a little cousin who has not joined us yet, but when Thing Two saw him, his eyes lit up. "Is that MY Bunny?" he asked with hopeful excitement. Well, how do you say no?

The two of them ran off with Ducky and Bunny and immediately began telling stories with them. Ducky's and Bunny's lives have been filled with peril and miraculous rescues since they arrived in our home. But I am sure they do not mind, because they end each day snuggled in the arms of children who loved them from the moment they saw them.

Thank you Eva. You are generous and thoughtful. The beauty of your spirit shines through in your lovely handiwork.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

One Small Change - Week Eight

The Brita Water Filter. It makes our perfectly good tap water taste better.
This is another ridiculously simple change that will make a big difference to us, and a small difference to the world. No more lugging gallons of water from the grocery. Four less giant water bottles going into the recycling bin each week. Much more cost effective.
When I think about it, I am embarassed that we did not make this change before. Why on earth were we BUYING water?!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

One Local Summer - Week Three

Life has finally resumed something of a normal pace, and I was able to make my first local meal this week.

I have learned a lot with this first meal. The most important lesson: ask questions. The Amish boy I mentioned in a previous post sold me some blueberries this week, and I wondered how they were growing blueberries. I was planning to ask for some tips. Well, of course, they are not blueberries his family grew; they are blueberries they bought at market! Silly me!

So, I was a much smarter shopper when I hit the nearby farm stand. I made the poor girl walk me through the whole stand and tell me the origin of everything she was selling.

Our first local meal consisted of red potatoes and green beans from Harvest Lane Farm, three miles from our house. A crustless egg pie (cheating! the recipe calls for ricotta, of which I could find no local substitute. I did however, choose the ricotta from New Jersey, rather than Oregon.) made with eggs from a local farm, and green peppers and green onions from Harvest Lane Farm. For dessert we had peaches that I purchased at Harvest Lane Farm, but were grown elsewhere in Lancaster County.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Boy Who Opened The Door

I am going to try to make a long story short. My aunt came to pick up the little girls we watch on Mondays (now to be known as Giggles and Smiley), and as she was walking in the door, Thing Two and I were rushing to the "potty." I usually help her get the girls into the car, so I gave Thing Two strict instructions to stay on the potty - "I will be right back. I am going outside to help Aunt Cathy. DO NOT get up until I come back." (Because he is still learning how to take care of the wiping, if you must know.)

Cathy followed me into the garage and as she closed the door, she said, "Uh Oh." The door was locked. Thing Two was inside on the potty alone, and I was locked out of the house. The neighbor with a key was at work. My mother was in Maryland.

So I freaked out.

I seriously was so panicked, I thought I was going to have a heart attack.

After spending an eternity (maybe 2 and a half minutes) walking in circles around the driveway muttering "What am I going to do?" over and over, I thought I should check all the windows on the first floor on the off chance that we had neglected to lock one.

The most likely window was our bathroom window. I was standing there trying to figure a way to get to the window without destroying the screen, when I heard Thing Two singing to himself. We then had this conversation:

"Thing Two, can you hear me?
"Mommy? Where are you?"
"What are you doing?"
"Well, I am locked out."
"Hmm, Mommy, how are you going to help me when you are locked out?"


"Thing Two, could you please get off the potty and go open the garage door?"
"Sure, Mommy."

Crisis averted.

When he opened the door, I said "You're my hero!"
He looked at me with frustration. "Mommy, superheroes save people from monsters. I am just the boy who opened the door."

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Summer Fun

When you are three years old, does anything scream "Summer Fun" louder than an inflatable pool?


In there all day, fueled by nothing more than popsicles and pure joy.

Friday, July 6, 2007

One Small Change - Week Seven

Yes, I know, for those of you keeping track, this is technically Week Eight, and I skipped Week Seven, but I am sure you will give me a pass.

I was debating about making this the week that I started composting the kitchen waste, but then:

Last night, instead of spending the evening reading blogs and stalking my Etsy shop, I sat on the sofa with a pile of glass beads and some memory wire (working on some inexpensive things for my market stand) and watched television with Geoff. He looked at me like I had given him a gift, "You are actually going to sit here with me?"

So, Week Seven's change - no more computer after 8PM. You may notice it takes me awhile to get to your latest posts, but I will read them eventually. From now on, after 8PM I can be found on the sofa, watching whatever it is my husband is watching. Even if it is some horrid reality show. I may have a pliers in my hand, but I will be there, on the sofa, keeping him company.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

A Garden Mystery

See the stems peeking out of the lily of the valley? Well at one time, they were much taller and I believe they are purple cone flowers (echinachea). What happened to them? Seem too tall to be nibbled by rabbits. I have never seen any sign of deer. There was a nearby plant (I think maybe it is a black-eyed susan) that was also eaten completely, leaving at least 8 to 12 inches of stem as well. Meanwhile the false sunflower and bee balm right next to these two plants were left untouched.


Sunday, July 1, 2007


My grandfather passed away last week. After seven years of illness that ebbed and flowed, our family thought we were ready for the end, but of course we were not.

He was a farmer. A quiet man who commanded respect effortlessly, even sitting in his armchair. He was stern, but fair. Committed to hard work and a tidy garden. He was hard on his children but loved to tease his grandchildren. He loved to play cards and fish. He was never sarcastic, but often chuckled about people's foolishness. He was humble and kind.

He was the bedrock of a family that was unusually close and committed to one another. Of course, I had no idea how unusual this kind of closeness was until I was an adult. I thought everyone had grandparents and aunts and uncles who lived within 5 miles of one another; who met regularly for picnics, and card games and vacations; who never had harsh or impatient words for one another. I thought everyone grew up with cousins who were more like siblings.

The photos are the meadow of Grandpa's farm. A meadow he worked and played in his whole life. The last photo shows the view of the meadow from the porch. When I think of my grandfather, I think of him in his last years: too tired to work, but sitting on his porch, enjoying the view of the meadow and his great-grandchildren playing at his feet.

At the end, he was exhausted and he was in pain. There is no way to see his death, at 85 years of age, as anything but a blessing. He passed peacefully, surrounded by his wife and four children. But I am filled with sadness about what feels like a loss of all he symbolized to me: an idyllic childhood, a large extended family, the deep roots of the family farm.