Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Our Mushrooms

A few weeks ago, D bought us a mushroom growing kit at Whole Foods. There are lots of different versions of mushroom growing kits out there, this one is for oyster mushrooms, and is made by a company called Back to the Roots. These kits are made with used coffee grounds and their mission is focused on sustainability and according to their website were "inspired by the idea of turning waste into wages and fresh, local food."
The first step is to soak the brick of coffee grounds for 24 hours, and then you put it back in its cardboard box, with a panel removed for the mushrooms to grow from.
We kept ours on the kitchen counter, out of direct sunlight, for about a week and saw no action. Then, I put it in my dark closet and the next day mushrooms were sprouting. Once they were in the dark, they were happy. The only thing they need is some water spritzing each day.
Once they started growing they looked pretty alien, and grew significantly each day. Within about a week of them poking through, they were ready to harvest.

We actually should have harvested a little earlier. We were hoping for more, so left them on a little too long. When we finally cut them off, they seemed a little dry, and we were worried we had missed the window and they wouldn't be good eating.
Thankfully, D is skilled in the ways, and he let them dry, and then when he was ready to use them, he rehydrated them and put them in his mushroom risotto.
D uses a mixture of mushrooms in his risotto, and it often varies depending on what types of mushrooms he sees at the store. The mushrooms we grew were oyster mushrooms. We thought this was a perfect dish to try them in since it's one of our favorites, and if they didn't taste good we could easily just pick them out. We were also a little worried the texture might be too chewy since we had let them dry, and then rehydrated them. We had nothing to worry about, they were delicious. The texture was perfect, not chewy at all, and the flavor was unique. They tasted a bit brighter and fruity, not quite as earthy as we expected. They added a unique brightness to our risotto.
This definitely proved to be a fun project, that takes up very little space. The yield was a little smaller than we expected, and it would have been hard to do a meal for two (or even one) if you were depending on the mushrooms to be the star of the meal, but it worked out well for our risotto. Also, the kit supposedly will yield mushrooms around 4 times. We flipped the brick around and are currently growing batch two from the other side of it.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Tomorrow is Craftopia! Come on down from 10-4 to the Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket for some holiday shopping. There will be a ton of artists there selling some amazing stuff. Support your local community of artists, and get lunch at the Chez Pascal truck. What could be better? See you there!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Holiday Crafting Madness

What can I say, it's December, of course I'm not blogging! I should know by now that the holiday season will throw me into a whirlwind of setting up shows, folding paper and trying to get the glitter out of my eyes from Craftland. This year has proven no different. Just when I thought I'd be more sane because I signed up for fewer shows, I ended up with some freelance work that has filled up that time. Oh well, I'll be bored in February and March, right?

Twist was my first show of the season, and proved to be as fun as usual. D was able to come to this one, so I even got some time to walk around the town and take in some tasty food.

Next up on my list was Craftopia, part 1. What could be better than a craft show? Why, a craft show where the Chez Pascal truck is parked outside. Yum! Craftopia, part 2 will be this Sunday, December 11, from 10-4.

While all this is going on, Craftland has been supersized to its holiday show size. Last Friday's opening party was as fun as usual, and the work this year is simply amazing. It's the TENTH holiday show for Craftland, and we'll all super excited about it.

With all this going on, we decided to have a mellow Thanksgiving this year. Both our families live either a long car ride, or a plane ride away, and while we love visiting, it's also nice to enjoy a holiday a home for a change. So this year we did just that. D made a delicious dinner, with a mole poblano style turkey, and I lounged around on the couch for most of the day planning our 2012 trip. Where are we going? London and Barcelona! So excited!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Twist Fair this weekend!

Twist Craft Fair
This weekend I'll be at Twist in Northampton, Massachusetts. It runs from 5-9pm tonight, and then 10-6 tomorrow. There are a lot of great artists showing this year, it's a great show to kick off your holiday shopping.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

New Bookmark!

Yesterday was a Gocco day for me. I got a ton printed for the upcoming holiday season, but I'm most excited about my newest bookmark, Unplug & read. It was indirectly inspired by Hurricane Irene and the five days that followed that I spent living without power. (You can read about that here.) During those days, one of the things I was grateful for, was having time to read.

So, what are you reading? Currently I'm reading Model Home by Eric Puchner and also Islamic Pacifism by Arsalan Iftikar. If you're an NPR junkie like me, you'll know Arsalan from the Barbershop series on NPR's Tell Me More. I also have The Story of Stuff, audio version, that I sometimes play in the studio while endlessly folding paper.

The inspiration for the other bookmarks in the series was blogged about here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Moveable Type's visit to Craftland!

Last Friday Moveable Type came to Craftland. What a treat to finally meet Kyle and see her truck in person. Here are a few photos from the day. The sold out class was full of smiling students, and the printing party had a line to get into the truck, and that was in the pouring rain! Special thanks to everyone who came out, and especially to Kyle!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Today at Craftland!

Today will be a fun day at Craftland. Kyle Durrie, from Power and Light Press, will be coming to town in her truck outfitted with a letterpress studio. She'll be teaching a sold out class from 12 - 3 and then hosting a printing party from 5 - 7pm. She'll be parked right in front of Craftland and we're excited to help her spread the word about letterpress printing. You can read her blog to follow her journey across the country here.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Birthday present!

For my birthday this year, D surprised me with a set of prints by Honolulu based Etsy seller, Everything is Jake. The Explore Kauai prints are based on 3 gorgeous spots in Kauai.

We visited Kauai in January 2008, and it was our first visit to Hawaii together. D hung the prints yesterday and now we've got a little bit of aloha in our kitchen. Brings back good memories, and makes us happy.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Providence Art Festival

Tomorrow is the Providence Art Festival, which takes place on Westminster Street, and I'm usually set up right in front of Craftland. There are a lot of great vendors lined up for this one, so you definitely won't want to miss it. It runs from 10am - 6pm. See you there! If you need more info, check out their Web site, here.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Irene swept into town on Sunday, August 28, and knocked out our power at 8:45 that morning. We were prepared. We had a tiny little stove so we could heat up food, and we had stocked up a cooler with enough food to last us the day. We had plenty of batteries and candles, and put a big "Do Not Open" sign on our fridge so we wouldn't reach for it out of habit. We had fully charged all our wireless devices, forgetting that our router would be down and render them all useless. We spent the day alternating between looking out the window, and moving away from the windows when the wind would kick up and send shingles from nearby houses flying. We both read a lot, napped, talked, and ended the day saying "We should pretend we have no power every Sunday, this was so relaxing. We feel like we're on vacation."

While we were well prepared for one day of no power, our power wasn't restored until Thursday night! We spent the week charging up our phones at work, and buying lots of bags of ice to keep the immediate necessities (read: wine) cool in the cooler. The saving grace was that we still had hot, running water, so we could still wash dishes and shower. Also, the storm blew in perfect weather so we were fine without air conditioning.

Here was the crazy thing, without all our time saving devices, I found myself with so much time. It felt great. For example, it usually seems that I never have enough time before I head to work, because I'm trying to do a gazillion things. Without my computer, I couldn't do any of those things and I had time to read while drinking my coffee before going to work. I went to work relaxed and ready to face the day, as opposed to feeling rushed.

It made me acutely aware of just how much longer everything takes me, when I'm surrounded by these constant distractions. I'd have this feeling of "missing something" but when I'd log into my email the next day at work, or check my Etsy shop, I hadn't missed anything. When I did start to feel like every email had to be answered immediately? When did I start looking to see if I have a new email at every commercial, or snack break?

I was reminded of that scene in Before Sunrise, when Ethan Hawke's character says, "You know what drives me crazy? It's all these people talking about how great technology is, and how it saves all this time. But, what good is saved time, if nobody uses it? If it just turns into more busy work. You never hear somebody say, 'With the time I've saved using my word processor, I'm gonna go to a Zen monastery and hang out'. I mean, you never hear that."

Now, I'm not saying I'm ready to ditch it all and move off the grid. (Although the thought did cross my mind a few days into it. If it could be in Hawaii, of course.) I love my Mac, and my iPod, and I love all that this technology has made it possible to do, and the people I've gotten to meet through it. Technology is invaluable as a tool and a resource, and I love it. But it did reinforce in me the need to unplug more often, not just when I'm on vacation. It reminded me how restorative the quiet can be, and how important it is not to be constantly stimulated from all these external sources. It reminded me that some of my best ideas and creative bursts are born out of being bored.

I guess with everything, it's about finding the balance. Using these tools for what they do best (for which my list is long), but stepping away when their job is done. Below is a photo out our front window of downtown Providence (fully powered!) and our street totally dark.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Picnic in Portland!

Tomorrow I'll be heading to Portland, Maine to sell my handmade goodness at Picnic! It will be held in Lincoln Park from 11-6. I'm excited. Portland is one of my favorite little cities, and I'm excited to be selling there.
Hurricane Irene is cutting the trip a little short. Instead of spending Saturday night and most of Sunday hanging around Portland, we'll be packing up my gear and driving home that night. The goal is to be hunkered down in Providence when Miss Irene arrives into town.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Journals, in the wild!

Last summer I had gotten a request for a fun custom order. A customer contacted me who was going to celebrate her 30th birthday with 3 of her closest friends, on a road trip along the old Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica. I made 4 journals for her, each one unique and showing a different segment of that journey.

A week or so ago, I was surprised to hear back from her about her trip. Her sweet email read "It's been almost a year since my Route 66 birthday trip and my travel friends and I were recently talking about how much they loved looking back at the journals filled with quotes, stories and pictures. So I wanted to say thanks once again and share a few pix from the trip."

What a treat to hear back and get a glimpse into a great trip that my journals were a part of.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Summer in Rhode Island

Wow, I knew I was slacking on blogging, but didn't realize it had been a month! It's been busy here. Craft show season has kicked off, D & I went on our yearly visit to Portland, Maine and then the usual summer activities of Farmer's Markets, lake visits, and as much enjoying the weather as possible. Here are some photos from some of the highlights, and I'll try to get back on the blogging.
Our favorite lake.

Grilling! These were amazing.

Allagash White in Portland, Maine

Summer solstice picnic at India Point Park with rosé

Antipasto at Venda

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Providence Art Festival

This weekend outdoor craft show season kicks off in downtown Providence with the Providence Art Festival. Come on down and check it out! It happens from 10-6 and is happening right on Westminster Street, there's lots of other shopping to do while you're in town. Click here for directions, and here to see some of the other vendors who will be selling there. See you there!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Spring! (I think...)

You wouldn't really know it was spring in Rhode Island. After a bad winter, I was hoping we'd shake off the snow, and dive into a gorgeous spring. I'm still waiting. It's been dreary, gray, raining and cold. It feels like March, not May!

Since we can't feel the spring, we'll have to taste it. Fiddleheads are one of our favorite seasonal veggies, and usually let us know it's spring. I won't pretend to give instructions on how to prepare them. I just know they involve rinsing multiple times, and apparently are enough work that D claims to be happy they have a short season. If you haven't enjoyed any, go on out and get some, it's as close as you're going to get to feeling like spring.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Lucky Magazine Feature!

Check out the current issue, June 2011, of Lucky Magazine for a shot of one of my journals! On page 72 you'll see a page about what to pack for a trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and has a (tiny) photo of my Wyoming journal. The photo may be small, but my name is spelled correctly and lists my Etsy shop. Yay! Check it out!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sewing Machine Instructions

I had to take my sewing machine in to be repaired today. I dug out the manual in case I needed it for something, and found this instruction sheet inside. Handy illustration-only instructions for how to thread and operate the machine. I got such a kick out of the happy sewing machine, and the cute bobbin! I wish my sewing machine shook my hand at the end of some productive sewing.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Alvin Ailey in Providence!

I've been going to see Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater every year since (I'm pretty sure) 1992. Last night was the first time they've ever come to Providence though, and I was so excited to see them.

The highlight of the evening for me was seeing the piece, The Hunt, choreographed by soon to be Artistic Director, Robert Battle. It left me speechless. Here's a taste.

The Hunt from AlvinAileyAmericanDanceTheater on Vimeo.

Hopefully Providence will become a regular stop on their tour schedule.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bono turns 51!

In honor of Bono's 51st birthday, I'll be spending my afternoon with U2 turned up in the studio. Ahhh, one of the perks of working from home. Here's a video of one of my favorite songs, if you feel like doing the same. Be forewarned, this version just might inspire you to change the world and help make it a better place.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Twist VI: The Recap

Had a fun weekend in Northampton, Massachusetts selling at my third Twist show. This show is always fun to do, and this year was no different. Slower than past years, it was still an opportunity to catch up with other artists, and to discover some new ones.
Oddly, just like last spring, this year's drive home was full of gorgeous rainbows. So beautiful.