A Little Change is Good, Methinks…

 

Hearts No. 1, mixed media metal art by Kate Richards of Farmhouse38.comIf you’ve been following me for awhile, you may have noticed I’ve slowed down a bit with my blogging. In fact, you may have noticed that there have been moments where it has come to a grinding, shrieking halt. Or maybe you haven’t noticed and I just think everyone’s been noticing. I’m a lot more important in my head. A LOT more important.

I know I’ve got some ‘splaining to do. So, it goes something like this: I’m an artist. Did you know that? I haven’t mentioned it much, aside from a little blip here and there in my profile, but so far, the art hasn’t surfaced much on my blog. There’s a reason for that…I’ve been on a prolonged, forced hiatus from the art. It’s the Farmhouse’s fault, you see. Sure, it’s been a real time-suck to renovate this house from top to bottom–I could easily blame it on that, right? But no–the real reason it has kept me from my art is that the garage renovation (err…studio renovation), was the very last on our kill list. It’s crazy how functioning kitchens and bathrooms and finished bedroom walls really take all the priority glory.

The Art Barn at Farmhouse38.com

The garage, pre-renovation.

The Art Barn at Farmhouse38.com

The studio, post-renovation.

The studio barn at Farmhouse38.com

The studio all lit up at night (with a couple of guard cats keeping the look-out for wandering bands of art thieves).

The studio barn at Farmhouse38.com

As you can see, it’s already quite well-used; those floors do not stay clean.

You may be thinking that this is a pretty weak excuse; this not-having-a-proper-studio baloney. I kind of agree (especially in retrospect). But my ‘artwork’ is a little off the wall (pun intended). It’s not as simple as setting up a temporary easel in the guest bedroom, because my medium of choice is actually metal (you didn’t see that coming, now did you??). So there is a lot of welding and grinding and metal shrapnel a-flying. I can’t do it in the house (obviously). I can’t even do it outside in the driveway because of the shrapnel (which becomes inherently dangerous to animal paws and crops when it’s lurking in the cracks and crevices and dirt). So I had to wait (rather impatiently), for my studio. And wait I did. For five years. But, in the meantime, I started a blog–so it wasn’t all for naught, right?

The mixed media metal art by Kate Richards of Farmhouse38.com

Me welding up a metal ‘canvas’.

Mixed media metal art by Kate Richards of Farmhouse38.com

Me being gravely serious at the easel.

Let me elaborate on the artwork. When I say ‘metal’ and ‘welding’ people tend to picture big, hulking sculptures–but no, that’s not what I do. My stuff is actually more along the lines of mixed media painting; my ‘canvas’ is metal, my ‘mixed media’ is a rather alchemic blend of patina, paint, and dye. Sometimes glitter. Sometimes a little dog hair. The latter two are kind of hard to avoid around here–they are in e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. Cheers! I digress. I grind a lot of pattern into that media, so the paintings all typically wind up with reflective ‘metal’ elements.

Ikat No. 1 mixed media metal painting by Kate Richards of Farmhouse38.com

Ikat No.1, mixed media metal painting on aluminum. (The whitish areas are actually reflective, raw metal).

So what’s my point here? For quite some time, I’ve been keeping the FH38 blog and the artwork completely separate…almost leading a double life, if you will. I was worried that, with so much stuff going on at Farmhouse38, the art would just further muddy it up–that the blog and the art would dilute each other, if that makes any sense. So I was gearing up to run two separate social media profiles…and you know what? I’m exhausted. I can’t do it, people, I just can’t do it. So after much deliberation and soul-searching (do I close up shop on one and focus on the other? How do I choose my favorite child?), I’ve decided to merge the two. From here on out, you guys are going to start seeing a lot of art on this site; all the rest of the stuff–the chickens, the garden, the crafting, the cocktails, the farmhouse projects–it will all still be here, just gently interspersed between the antics of my artistic ebb and flow. Eventually, my stuff will be available to buy on Etsy and other such sites, but for now, you can check out katerichards.com to see a straightforward gallery (I am going to leave that website up as a one-stop informational shop for just the artwork, but make no mistake, it will all eventually be found on Farmhouse38, too). Be sure to follow me on Instagram, because I’ve already been posting quite a bit of behind the scenes arting shots there.

Neon No. 1 mixed media metal painting by Kate Richards of Farmhouse38.com

Neon No. 1, acrylic on reclaimed steel. This is a good shot of what a ‘metal canvas’ looks like. Kind of like a metal box lid with 1 inch or so edges so that it can just hang on the wall like a normal painting.

In addition to all this art, you’re going to be seeing a lot more flowers. The flowers have always been a part of FH38, but now that my mini, wannabe flower farm is hitting its stride, slow flower arrangements and arrangement how-tos are gonna hop to the forefront along with the art. Metal art and flowers, people. And probably a whole lot of metal flower art. You’ve been warned.

As part of this Farmhouse38 redirection, I will also finally (FINALLY!!!) be switching the blog from its current state to a self-hosted situation. That means that the new blog will be found at Farmhouse38.com (which currently redirects to farmhouse38.wordpress.com–no more farmhouse38.wordpress.com already! Geez!!). I’m working on it now, and since I have never actually done this before, I expect that there will be some hiccups. In fact, I expect that I will make a complete and utter mess of the whole thing–so please, please, please bear with me as I muddle my way through it. As I always like to say: it has to get worse before it gets awesome. :-) Don’t worry, I will give you all plenty of notice when I make the switch so we can all have a good laugh at how I’ve gone and mucked it all up. Be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest…it’s harder to mess those up (believe me, I’ve made some valiant efforts).

Rooster No. 1 mixed media metal painting by Kate Richards of Farmhouse38.com

I can’t not have some metal chicken art. This is Farmhouse38, afterall.

Mixed media metal artist Kate Richards of Farmhouse38.com

There are almost always chickens in my studio. It’s just how I roll.

So there you have it: my blog midlife crisis in all its glory. Who’s coming with me?!!

 

 

All About the Flowers (of Garden to Table Feast)

Slow Flowers at Garden to Table Feast by Farmhouse38.com, photography by AmenPhotography.comI just wanted to take a moment and bask in the beautiful local flowers that we were so lucky to have for the Garden to Table Feast. So-prepare yourself- I’m gonna fill your feed with endless images (mostly captured by the lovely Amen Photography). I regret nothing!!! I had always planned to pull flowers and greens from my own garden for the event, but as it grew in size, I realized that I would need to source additional materials from elsewhere. And I wanted those ‘elsewhere’s to be as local as possible.

Slow Flowers at the Garden to Table Feast by Farmhouse38.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Garden roses, leucadendron, alstroemeria, draping amaranthus, and grapevine.

In the heart of Los Angeles, local flowers have been a really tall order for me in the past. Sure, it’s easy to find flowers; walk into any local supermarket, or even home improvement centers, and it is sometimes astounding what a selection they have. But are they local? Most likely not. And the very point of the Garden to Table Feast was to choose the slowest materials and ingredients possible–not what was commercially (and in most cases, the most easily) available. Fortunately for us, the amazing California Cut Flower Commission  stepped in and reached out to several local flower farms on our behalf. Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers, Mellano & Company, and The Sun Valley Floral Farms all generously provided us with a wealth of bafflingly beautiful flowers and greens. I was blown away, and completely humbled.

Slow Flowers at Garden to Table Feast by Farmhouse38.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Lovely yellow Alstroemeria from Mellano & Company, Craspedia (Billy Balls–love these!) and various mints from the Farmhouse38 garden.

Additionally, I decided to reach out to the one and only super-local grower I knew of: Silver Lake Farms. This is a remarkable little urban farm so snugged away inside Los Angeles that you would never know it was there (unless you knew it was there). I’d read about them so many times in the past (in the Urban Farm world, they’re kind of the stuff of legends), and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to see what they had up their sleeves. I wasn’t disappointed, in fact, I was beyond elated at the overflowing buckets I loaded into my car.

Slow Flowers at the Garden to Table Feast by Farmhouse38.com

My Silver Lake Farms haul: the best kind of cargo. Side note…my car needs to be washed. When you can see dog paw prints on the bumper…ya. Time for a wash.

Slow Flowers at the Garden to Table Feast by Farmhouse38.com

Silver Lake Farms is what my garden wants to be when it grows up.

Because I didn’t know what I was going to get from any of these places, my floral design strategy was pretty basic: mismatched, clear containers, and a riot of botanicals with no set color scheme. Perfect for a Garden to Table Feast, in my opinion.

Slow Flowers at the Garden to Table Feast by Farmhouse38.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

A wide assortment of botanical materials and colors are unified by their intentional unintentionalness, and by the repetition of clear glass containers. Keeping the linens and place settings neutral also helps tie everything together.

Slow Flowers at the Garden to Table Feast by Farmhouse38.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Gorgeous colors, with no rhyme or reason. Seasonal perfection.

Slow Flowers at the Garden to Table Feast by Farmhouse38.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

A whole batch of loveliness from Silver Lake Farms; Sweet Pea, Monarda, and a bunch of other pretties that are beyond my realm of identification!

Slow Flowers at the Garden to Table Feast by Farmhouse38.com

Lilies, Queen Anne’s Lace, and some sort of amazing green balls (perhaps a type of leucadendron?) from Resendiz Brothers Protea Farm that I have no idea the name of-but am completely enthralled with.

Slow Flowers at the Garden to Table Feast by Farmhouse38.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Slow Flowers at the Garden to Table Feast by Farmhouse38.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Lilies, Queen Anne’s Lace, Monarda, and broccoli.

Slow Flowers at the Garden to Table Feast by Farmhouse38.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Leucadendron, hydrangea, kale, and radishes.

Slow Flowers at the Garden to Table Feast by Farmhouse38.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Garden roses, snap dragons, a couple of pincushions, lavender, white thistle, and sweet peas.

Slow Flowers at the Garden to Table Feast by Farmhouse38.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Slow Flowers at the Garden to Table Feast by Farmhouse38.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Flowers always kind of make the event, if you ask me (I’m probably a bit biased). But I have to say that having gorgeous flowers and knowing exactly where they came from takes it to a new level. I highly encourage you guys to go do some digging, find your local flower farms (they’re out there, I promise!), and buy from them. Check SlowFlowers.com and the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers for lists of farms and retailers. And when you do go to the local market, look for labeling like the CaGROWN sticker, or the new AmericanGrown labels, or simply ask your grocer where they get their flowers. If they don’t buy locally already, they’re never gonna start unless their customers speak up. Challenge accepted, am I right?!!

A Garden to Table Feast

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, event styling by Farmhouse38, photography by AmenPhotography.comGarden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, event syling by Farmhouse38, photography by AmenPhotography.comLast weekend, the summer solstice provided the perfect evening to collaborate on a wonderful summer party with a bunch of talented Southern California (and Western Nevada–holla, Reno!) bloggers. The idea was simple: let’s get together for a lovely dinner comprised of as many local ingredients as we could muster, and when possible, use ingredients straight from our own gardens. Set it all up under the mason-jar-lit grapefruit tree at Farmhouse38, shoo away the chickens, and keep the cocktails and Instagram rolling!

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, tablescape and floral styling by Farmhouse38, photography by AmenPhotography.com

I just love a big ol’ farm table and mismatched chairs, don’t you? Flowers and candlelight never hurt, either! Not one bit.

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, event styling by Farmhouse38, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Just passing through! Carry on! (BTW, please take note of Eloise, in the background, and the way she walks. I don’t think her legs bend. Makes me laugh every time.)

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, floral styling and tablescape by Farmhouse38, photography by AmenPhotography.com

The flowers! I have a special place in my heart for the flowers (always). Much more on them later.

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, tablescape and floral styling by Farmhouse38, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Southern California really delivered on the most perfect, temperate evening. The weather and light could not possibly have been better–and we could not have asked for a more talented, wonderful photographer in Ari Nordhagen of AmenPhotography.com. Find her on Facebook, and Instagram.

In addition to her mind-boggling design and illustration talents, Sarah of VerySarie.com must also be a little bit psychic because she somehow captured the exact essence of the evening in her gorgeous invites and menus.

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, invitations by VerySarie.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

How perfect are these hand-lettered and gold-foiled invites from VerySarie.com?

Follow VerySarie.com on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Because many of us were meeting for the first time, we kept ourselves and our blogs straight with adorable handmade name tags courtesy of Amanda at LoveCreativeBlog.com.

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, nametags by LoveCreativeBlog.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

We all kept referring to each other by blogs, but it was nice to put names to blogs to faces.

Follow LoveCreativeBlog on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Oh, haaaaay, chickens.

Sustenance for the evening was in the ever capable and creative hands of Jennie and Corelyn of Garlic, My Soul. They came up with and executed the most delicious menu of comfort foods and gorgeous slow produce.

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, hand-lettered menus by VerySarie.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Darling menus designed by verysarie.com.

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, food by GarlicMySoul.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Oh, the picture perfection of heirloom tomatoes!

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, Prosciutto Pear Bites by Garlicmysoul.com, photography by amenphotography.com

Insanely yummy prosciutto-wrapped pear bites by Garlic, My Soul.

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, food by Garlicmysoul.com, photography by amenphotography.com

Zucchini Crudo: zucchini, onions, parsley, and feta in some sort of zesty dressing. Garlic, My Soul–you better be posting recipes!

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, food by Garlicmysoul.com, photography by amenphotography.com

So much gardeny goodness in this salad!

 

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, food by GarlicMySoul.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Our plates just had no hope of being big enough!

Find Garlic, My Soul on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, tablescape by Farmhouse38, photography by AmenPhotography.com

What’s up, chicken?!

Did I mention the flowers?

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, tablescape by Farmhouse38, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Slow flowers for days!!!

You all know that I take my cocktails very, very seriously. Fortunately, so do the two brains behind BourbonandGoose.com, Marissa and Sam. They were charged with creating a custom cocktail for the drink, and well, they brought us two. Huzzah!

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, cocktails by BourbonandGoose.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Fresh produce, even for the drinks!

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, cocktails by BourbonandGoose.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Master drinksmith, Sam, of BourbonandGoose.com, hard at work keeping cocktails in everyone’s hands.

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, cocktails by BourbonandGoose.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

On the left, we have the Violet Beauregard: homemade rosemary infused gin, blueberry puree, and sparkling water. On the right…well, I can’t remember what it’s called but it was darned good. Jalapeño jelly-infused tequila, and fresh watermelon and lime juices. Yum and yum. For awhile there, I had one in each hand.

Follow the adventures of BourbonandGoose.com on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Shiner beer is not exactly local, but it is exactly Texas. The Texan always insists there be Shiner. Gotta represent a local brewery with a little Golden Road, though!

Dessert came to us courtesy of the incredibly sweet tooth of Julianne at BeyondFrosting.com. Her individual Mimosa Cheesecakes (adorably presented in mason jars, no less) and fresh-baked berry pies were absolutely to die for. To. Die. For.

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, dessert by BeyondFrosting.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

I heart cheesecake in a jar. So much. I ate it so much, too.

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, fresh berry pies by BeyondFrosting.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Fresh berry pies are just too perfect for ringing in the summer. These were incredible.

Follow all the desserty fun at BeyondFrosting.com, and on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

While you’re at it, check out YummyHealthyEasy.com. Jen is freaking fantastic. So is her site. She shares so many fabulous, fun recipes of all shapes and sizes. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

And then there were the flowers…of course, that was my little wheelhouse. The California Cut Flower Commission generously stepped in to help source materials from local farms (thank you to Mellano & Co., The Sun Valley Group, and Resendiz Brothers Proteas for their gorgeous, gorgeous flowers!). I also went to the most local flower farm I could think of: Silver Lake Farms, in the heart of Los Angeles for several lush buckets of straight-from-the-garden yumminess. Combined with flowers and greens from my own garden, we were dripping in stunning, local blooms. Stay tuned for a separate, more in-depth post about just the flowers!

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, tablescape by Farmhouse38, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Flowers and candlelight. Am I right?!

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Such a fabulous time!

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

White dog had to get in on the party.

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

So did little brown dog.

So that everyone had a piece of the evening to bring home with them, Laura, of OliveandLove.com, sent us all away with yummy homemade brown sugar scrubs as favors. She’s kind of known for her scrubs.

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, Brown Sugar Scrub by OliveandLove.com, photography by AmenPhotography.com

Find the recipes for these and so much more at OliveandLove.com.

Follow OliveandLove.com on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

The evening was just beyond fun, and I can’t wait to do it again next year! Many thanks to all of these amazing bloggers!

Garden to Table Feast at Farmhouse38.com, event styling by Farmhouse38, photography by AmenPhotography.com

 

 

 

 

 

Slow Flower Bliss

 

Slow Flower Joy at Farmhouse38.com

I’m a big nerd when it comes to my love for locally-grown, organic flowers. I get overly excited. Like a terrier. ‘Slow Flowers’, a derivative of the Slow Food Movement, is a concept coined and tirelessly advocated by the remarkable Debra Prinzing (author of The 50 Mile Bouquet: Seasonal, Local and Sustainable Flowers, as well as, you guessed it, Slow Flowers: Four Seasons of Locally Grown Bouquets from the Garden, Meadow and Farm ) to describe the on-going shift towards a more conscious floral consumerism. Just as people have become more aware of where and how their food is produced, they are starting to realize that the same principles should be applied to the cut flowers they buy (the ones sitting in a vase on the table right next to their local, organic food). We should strive to farm flowers in the same ethical manner; free of chemicals, free of excessive packaging, and free of incredibly long-distance travel that requires fuel, preservatives, refrigeration, and even more packaging. Furthermore, the slow flowers concept champions the organic flower farmers; those who dedicate their lives to responsibly producing those gorgeous blooms.

Slow Flower Joy at Farmhouse38.com

An arrangement pulled straight from the Farmhouse garden, including all sorts of roses, echinacea, hydrangea, and grapevine. Doesn’t get more local than that!

Ten plus years ago, when I was running my floral event company, the slow flower concept was completely unheard of. I used to get so angry, too–showing up in the wee hours of the morning to the Los Angeles Flowermart and paying top dollar for materials that had literally been flown in from Holland or Columbia that very morning because a bride needed *this exact shade of pink* tulips and roses. How crazy is this? It made me irate, actually. This is not to say that there weren’t locally-grown materials available there–in fact, I tried to buy those whenever I could. But the wedding industry, at the time, kind of drove this ‘anything is available any time of year’ mentality that meant materials were often shipped from the other hemisphere. It was this insipid ‘Yes-ism’ that went something like: “Oh, you want scarlet peonies? Well, they aren’t in season, but let me just call Australia”. I was guilty of this mindset… though, at the very least, it bothered the living daylights out of me.

I used to fantasize about having a huge piece of property where I could just grow the flowers myself (at the time, I lived in a teeny-tiny house on a teeny-tiny urban lot–even teeny-tinier than the one I live on now) and then create events exclusively with those materials. But that just wasn’t how it was done. You don’t get *this exact shade of pink* tulips all year round when you grow them and sell them locally (if you even ever get it at all). You get what is in season…which is always gorgeous, but might not match that Home Depot color card you brought to me and insisted I find the exact floral manifestation of (true story). Ultimately, I was so disgruntled with ‘how things were’, that I left the business all together. I wish I had had the gumption to dig my heels in then, but life was sending me in another direction.

Slow Flower Bliss from Farmhouse38.com

I heart tiny arrangements, especially in an upcycled jam jar. So simple to grab a few bits from the garden; black-eyed Susan, zinnia, oregano blooms, and rosemary.

It sent me to the Farmhouse, where we moved right after I closed down the flower company. Naturally, I was reeling a bit at that time. What was I supposed to do with my life now? I missed the flowers, and I missed the actual art of arranging. It’s rather cliché, but I also missed the ‘giving’ of flowers. So while we threw ourselves into the renovation of this old house, I also threw myself into designing an organic garden that would give me enough flowers to get my fix.

Slow Flower Bliss from Farmhouse38.com

Look for a tutorial on this simple arrangement coming soon!

For a few years, I busied myself with house projects and ‘playing’ in the garden. Oh…and I started a blog. :-) My foray into the world of social media brought with it a trickling awareness of change within the floral industry. I began stumbling across blogs and Instagram accounts of florist farmers such as Floret Flower Farm in Washington, and Saipua in New York. And, of course, I followed. I began to see florists dedicating themselves to using only local, responsibly-farmed flowers, such as Farmgirl Flowers in San Francisco. And places like Lila B. Flowers in San Francisco and Silverlake Farms in Los Angeles defying the odds (and, in the case of Silverlake Farms, changing the laws) to grow sustainable flowers and produce for sale and for floral design, in the heart of the city (cheers to that). Go follow all these wonderful companies (full list of links at bottom)–you won’t be sorry!

I started hearing (*seeing, *reading) Debra’s name a lot. When The 50 Mile Bouquet came out, I ate it up–almost literally–the images (photographed by David E. Perry) are downright yummy. Here is a fascinating glimpse into the stories of the farmers, florists, and designers that make American slow flowers their life (but first, might I suggest reading Amy Stewart‘s Flower Confidential so that you can see exactly what these farmers are up against with mainstream floriculture). Close on the heels of The 50 Mile Bouquet came Prinzing’s aptly-titled Slow Flowersa veritable user-manual for building 52 weeks of breathtaking seasonal arrangements. For anyone dabbling in the art of DIY floral-arranging, this book is chock-full of ‘recipes’ and tricks of the trade. My favorite trick of hers? Instead of using that green goblin of the floral trade, florist foam, use chicken wire inside your container to stabilize your materials. Brilliant. I may or may not have an excessive amount of chicken wire laying around.

Slow Flower Bliss from Farmhouse38.com

A few tiny garden roses, fuzzy celosia, oregano blooms, and mint leaves make a tiny, but fragrant, arrangement in a vintage porcelain jewelry box.

But it gets better. You may be thinking this is all good in theory, but not so easy in practice. If you’re like me, trapped in the middle of a huge city, you may (ironically) be a little stranded when it comes to accessing locally-grown flowers. You may naively get really excited and buy peonies from Trader Joe’s thinking they are locally-sourced and then, after the fact, find out that they actually came from Canada. I’m not naming names. (To be fair, both Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods source local flowers when possible, but not exclusively.)

Ombre Peony Arrangement by Farmhouse38.com

They’re gorgeous…but they travelled too far to get here. Look away!!!

So what is one to do (especially if you aren’t able to have a cutting garden of your own)? There are more and more resources online for finding your local flower farmer. For starters, visit the brand new slowflowers.com. Prinzing‘s latest endeavor is an actual online directory of floral studios, flower shops, flower farms, and designers who use American-grown flowers, or as the case may be, grow the flowers themselves. This incredible list of vendors is growing every single day. FieldtoVase.com is a lovely spot on the interwebs created by the brains behind Farmgirl Flowers, Christina Stembel, as a hub for all things locally grown and floral. Here, you will not only find a list of incredible contributors and a growing list of resources, but you will find a delightful blog spotlighting industry creatives and the very latest news.

There are a number of organizations that you should check out, as well. The California Cut Flower Commission (ccfc.org) has some fabulous resources, information, and meet-your-farmer type highlight stories for California-grown flowers. The Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers (ASCFG.org) is full of a wealth of industry links and information, but most importantly, you can search their website for local growers and flower shops by state. When you are shopping for flowers, look for the new American Grown stickers that make American flowers easily identifiable at your local market, or for the CA GROWN stickers that mark the abundance of blooms that come from the Golden State.

I simply can’t urge you enough to seek out flower vendors at your local farmers’ markets. This really is the best way to ‘know your farmer’ and support them, whether it be for flowers, produce, etc, etc. And if you’ve got the space and the will, grow yourself some pretties of your own. One of my favorite things is to purchase a local bouquet, bring it home, and add to it from my own garden. There’s my bliss. Right there.

I love that consumers are embracing slow flowers and the simple notion that seasonal is better. I adore reading stories about weddings designed with locally-sourced materials; brides and event designers actually choosing sustainability from the get-go, and in some cases, absolutely highlighting it. It warms the very cockles of my heart to see how times have changed and are changing still. Yeah. I said ‘cockles’. That’s how I roll.

Resources:

AmericanGrownFlowers.org– A brilliant initiative to ‘brand’ American grown flowers so that they are easily distinguishable to consumers. Love it. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest,  for all the latest news.

ASCFG.org–The Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Find them also on Facebook.

CCFC.org–The California Cut Flower Commission, home of the CA GROWN movement. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

DebraPrinzing.com–A fantastic resource for slow flower enthusiasts; Debra highlights industry innovators in her podcasts and blog posts. Follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

FarmgirlFlowers.com–Follow along on Facebook ,Twitter, and Instagram. You won’t be sorry–this is one of my favorite feeds in each category–they post some gorgeous stuff!

FieldtoVase.com–Follow on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram for more local flower goodness!

FloretFlowers.com– Follow their wonderful blog, as well as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram feeds. Their work, as well as their images, are absolutely stunning.

LilaBDesign.com– So much loveliness packed into just one website! Another wonderful blog, as well as beautiful Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram feeds.

Saipua.com–You’ll find information on their flowers, their farm, and their flower school here. Oh, and soap. They make that, too. Follow their adventures via their blog and their wonderful Instagram feed.

SilverlakeFarms.com–this one’s near and dear to me because they are, quite literally, near to me. Follow the happenings at this beautiful little urban farm on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

SlowFlowers.com–one stop shop for finding American-grown flowers, farms, and florists; follow along on Facebook and Twitter to get the latest slow flowers news.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I have no words!

Okay, maybe I have a few words:

Carlin is a precious three-year-old chock full of three-year-old sparkle; she loves to play outside, ride her horses, chase chickens, and dress her dogs in costumes (and you know they love it right back!). A country kid, through and through! She adores preschool, and being with her big sister.

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photo copyShe is something of a tutu connoisseur, and rocks those things like no one I know. And man, does that kid have a smile that goes for days.

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In November of 2013, with no warning at all, she suffered a seizure that sent her to the ER, where the doctors discovered what they thought to be a low-grade brain tumor. Surgery proved otherwise.

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Carlin was diagnosed with an extremely rare and very aggressive type of brain tumor called ETANTR (Embryonal tumor with abundant neuropil and true rosettes). She is currently undergoing an intensive chemotherapy protocol, which will be followed up with radiation.

And yet, still rocking those tutus with a big ol’ smile!

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tutuTOUGH.com ETANTR Awareness

Carlin getting a special visit from our good friends Tina & Roo of Read to Roo.

tutuTOUGH.com ETANTR Awareness

Carlin, her big sis, Harper, and Roo (sporting a tutu of his own).

When Carlin was first diagnosed, there was so very little information out there on this diagnosis (there is somewhere around only 300 reported cases) that her parents were at a loss. It is their hope to bring more awareness to the ETANTR tumor, and to its research. Here is a more detailed article for anyone wishing to have a little more information on ETANTR.

For more about Carlin’s story, please visit tutuTOUGH.com and follow along on Twitter. You can help support Carlin’s treatment by donating directly or by stocking up on Team Carlin Gear.

Additionally, you can cheer Carlin on by using the hashtag #tutuTOUGH on your tweets, Instagram photos, and Facebook posts. We want to see you sporting your Team Carlin gear, so be sure to take a photo and tag it with #tutuTOUGH! Here’s some examples:

tutuTOUGH.com ETANTR Awareness

My Nephew rocking his Team Carlin shirt. He thinks Carlin is not just #tututough, but also superhero-tough! (His words!)

 

tutuTOUGH.com ETANTR Awareness

Abbie, Phoebe, and Milo show off their muscles (and muffin-tops) in their #tutuTOUGH doggy t-shirts.

tutuTOUGH.com ETANTR Awareness

Go Team Carlin! Photo courtesy of Michelle Agnew.

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Team Carlin in Ohio! Photo courtesy of Tina Anderson.

tutuTOUGH.com ETANTR Awareness

Two #tutuTOUGH pixies representing after their theater production of Peter Pan. Photo courtesy of Amy Loy.

tutuTOUGH.com ETANTR Awareness

#tutuTOUGH, Dallas-style! Photo courtesy of Jennifer Smallwood.

tutuTOUGH.com ETANTR Awareness

Tutus for #tutuTOUGH–thanks, Roo and E! Photo courtesy of Tina Anderson.

tutuTOUGH.com ETANTR Awareness

And, of course, the most #tutuTOUGH of them all: Miss Carlin!

Fight’s on, Brain Cancer!

 

 

 

Grilled Honey Peaches with Mascarpone and Pecans

Grilled Honey Peaches with Mascarpone and Pecans by Farmhouse38.comOh, this is just so damned yummy. I really wasn’t expecting it to be, to be totally honest. I look at this and it almost seems too…I don’t know…healthy? For a dessert? Maybe it’s just me. Probably just me. LOL.

So yeah, these really blew me away.

For two servings:

–2 ripe, but firm peaches, halved, pits removed

–4 oz mascarpone cheese

–1/4 cup candied pecans, processed into fine bits

–2 tablespoons warmed coconut oil

–Approx. 2 tablespoons or so of local, organic honey to drizzle

–1/4 cup candied pecans, slightly crumbled

Start by pulverizing your first quarter cup of candied pecans in the food processor, then mix them thoroughly with your mascarpone.

Next, heat your grill (or in my case, your grill skillet) to medium high. Brush or dip the flat side of your peach halves in warmed coconut oil, and drop them, face down, on the skillet or grill when it is heated up. Leave them to cook for about 4 minutes each. They’ll become really fragrant and soft when they are ready (and there will be some lovely grill marks).

Scoop your peach halves off the grill and place them face up on a plate (I recommend two halves as a serving, despite what my photos show). Scoop a generous tablespoon full of mascarpone/pecan mix onto the center of each peach, drizzle with honey, sprinkle with crushed candied pecans and serve immediately.

Grilled Honey Peaches with Mascarpone and Pecans by Farmhouse38.com

Joy.

Grilled Honey Peaches with Mascarpone and Pecans by Farmhouse38.com

Joy.

Grilled Honey Peaches with Mascarpone and Pecans by Farmhouse38.com

Joy.

By the way…this was the first time I’ve ever made a dessert for this blog and actually eaten the whole darned thing. I made four servings (in order to have enough in case I plated them wrong or some such blog nonsense) AND I ATE THEM ALL. Usually I will make something like this during the day and then save it for the Texan. But this one…you kind of have to eat it right away. I didn’t want it to go to waste. He was not impressed with this when I told him over the phone.

 

 

A Colorful New Book for Your Garden Library

Review of A Garden To Dye For by Farmhouse38.com

Gardens are just divine, aren’t they? They provide us with impossibly much: food, medicine, an eye-ball-ful of gorgeous, and a basic, peaceful connection to the Earth that is hard to put into words. Leave it to the fabulously funny Chris McLaughlin to give us just one more bit of lovely we can reap from our gardens: natural dyes.

This book is an absolute technicolor dream for the home fiber artist; all you crafty spinners with your adorable goats and sheep and bunnies and alpacas and all their glorious fluff–here is your guide for what to grow in your garden (besides fluffy animals) and how to process it into yummy, yummy homemade colors. I can only imagine the possibilities. But for those of you who aren’t quite to the point of harvesting your own fiber (uhh, that would be me), Chris shows us how and with what to dye yarns, threads, silks, cottons, linens, and other ready-to-go fabrics. But it all goes far beyond fabric; natural dyes can be used on wood, basket-making reeds, paper products, play dough, and since we’ve just come off of Easter–eggs…of course, you can dye eggs with them! Huzzah!

There are so many wonderful recipes and tricks of the trade in this book, but, as a painter, one in particular jumped out at me…making your own watercolor dye paints. I knew I had to try this. I also knew I wanted to use materials that I either had on hand, or had in the garden. Red cabbage, beets, turmeric, and black tea were all already in my kitchen and would give me blue, red/pink, yellow, and brown dyes, so I got to work. In retrospect, I also realized that I have swamp mallow, marigolds, hollyhock, rose, and coreopsis growing in the garden–all dye materials listed by Chris–but I had ants in my pants and overlooked these at the time. Dang it. DANG IT.

As with all natural dyes, a little experimentation was in order. Ultimately, I landed on a pretty decent recipe that was just a miniature version of what Chris outlines for dyeing a big batch of fabric.

To get blue dye paint, you’ll need:

-4 tablespoons of finely chopped red cabbage

-1 cup of boiling water

(I actually started out by putting the cabbage bits in a mason jar, boiling water in a tea kettle, and then pouring the boiling water over the bits and letting them sit for awhile). This color was pretty, but ultimately, I didn’t think it was strong enough, so I then transferred the contents of the jar to a small saucepan, and boiled the liquid down by half. This gave me a great blue color.

To get red/magenta/pink:

-4 tablespoons of finely chopped red beets

-1 cup of boiling water

The tea kettle method worked great for this and I did not need to boil the liquid down further. This yields a very saturated dark pink. Obviously, if you want it lighter, pull a small amount and mix with water to water it down to your desired color.

To get yellow:

–4 teaspoons of powdered turmeric

–2 cups boiling water

The tea kettle method actually yielded a nice, light yellow color, but ultimately, I wanted it more saturated so, again, I boiled the liquid down by half after the fact.

To get brown:

-6 standard black tea bags

-2 cups boiling water

The tea kettle method yielded a very light brown, which was great, but I wound up boiling this liquid down by half, as well, which gave me better saturation.

To get green:

Mix equal parts turmeric and cabbage dyes.

To get reddish-orange:

Mix equal parts turmeric and beet dyes.

To get reddish-brown:

I kind of mixed equal parts of all four base colors.

Obviously, one can mix any variation of these colors and get all different shades and colors. Experimentation is key! Chris also suggests using binders to help the color stick: these include whole milk, egg yolks, or egg whites (but each of these will change the colors slightly, so test first). I opted to not go with any binders, and so theoretically, my colors will fade slowly over time.

 

DIY All-natural Watercolor Dye Paints from A Garden to Dye For via Farmhouse38.com

My resulting colors.

And my subsequent watercolor painting:

DIY Natural Watercolor Dye Paints from A Garden to Dye For via Farmhouse38.com

Eloise and Gertie in all their all-natural colorful glory. All natural except for the Sharpie outline. I’m a cheater. I do what I want!!!

This book was just a pleasure to read–Chris’ trademark humor and gift for ‘telling it like it is’ get me every time. Be sure to visit A Garden to Dye For’s Facebook page and Chris’ blog Home Ag with a Suburban Farmer because to celebrate the launch Chris is giving away a Natural Dye Starter Kit with all sorts of goodies (including a copy of the book) to get you started on your home-dyeing and gardening adventures. To enter, you just need to follow her on Pinterest and leave a comment on the A Garden to Dye For Facebook page telling her what your favorite kind of garden is. On May 20, 2014, her Chiweenie helper will select a winner at random. You gotta love that. And if you don’t win the prize package, never fear, A Garden to Dye For is available at all major booksellers including Amazon.

Cheers to pretty colors!

Review of A Garden to Dye For via Farmhouse38.com

 

 

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