When I got the call from The Nate Berkus Show several weeks ago about creating an art project using the contents of someone’s junk drawer, I was naturally excited. Having a big pile of ‘random junk’ in front of me and being told to just ‘make something’ is the kind of challenge I love to take on. They gave me a bit of direction by saying they wanted it to be two pieces of wall art in gray and white and from there I was off and running. I took one of my own junk drawers (I too, have many) and played around with a couple of sample boards just to explore what ALL I could do with typical junk drawer stuff. I knew I’d end up having to create the pieces when I got to New York out of completely different contents that were from the actual family’s junk drawers but it was a good exercise to play around with things first so I would be ready for anything.
Yes, I talk about this project idea every year about this time….it’s a personal favorite that I NEVER tire of, it’s that good, that much fun, and kids LOVE it.….perfect for spring and summer vacation….doesn’t get any better than leaf casseroles, mudcakes, rock tea and whatever else their little imaginations create!
…..Explore, Create, Imagine, Dig in the Dirt….Nature is a child’s never ending playground and one of my favorite things to do is create outdoor destinations for them in the yard….This is the year for YOU my friends, to add a MUD BAR to YOUR yards…convert an old potting bench, wooden table or build one from scratch out of reclaimed wood…naturally good fun all the way around. (and it’s just as much fun to put together for us grownups as it is for the kids to play with)
CHEERS to MANY playful messes at your house!
It was fun while it lasted.
The buds on the trees shot out in a hurry to greet these beautiful days we’ve been having and it was time to pull the taps.
The cooktop was quite busy this week and in all, we ended up with a little over two quarts of the tastiest syrup I’ve ever had…straight from our own backyard.
Why I find this all so exciting is beyond me…but I do.
………..Actually, now that I think about it, maybe I do know why.
- I was part of the process.
- I find awe in the things that come from nature.
- The sap seemed so pure and readily available.
- It was basically free (if I had only cooked it all over a wood fire..)
- It was my first time, and it actually turned out…is edible….tastes great…….wasn’t frustrating
- We did it ourselves, so there’s that whole independent, self-reliant factor.
- The food/nature connection in and of itself is exciting.
- It was a memorable learning experience for Madeline.
- It’s a really fun thing to share and chat about with others.
- I’ll be sporting a grin every time I pull a jar out of the fridge.
Not bad for the first year and a bit of a late start.
Next edible thing off those trees will be the young, green maple seeds……::)
Hmmmmm, what other ‘wild edibles’ can I can take advantage of from the backyard? I know I’ll have dandelions here shortly (and spring is prime time for harvesting them while they’re young.) I believe I’m going to have to get even more adventurous and actually see what all I can make out of those golden beauties this year. I think I have elderberries somewhere too….
What are you looking forward to enjoying from the ‘wild’?
The blackbirds at this time of year are gathered together in shockingly large numbers.
It’s incredible to see them literally FILL an entire tree or field.
They ALL gather on rooftops and as you exit the door, the sound they make as they all take off for flight at once is absolutely amazing.
On my drive into the studio the other morning, they lined the road..and I tried to capture what I saw as I proceeded to travel through their early morning celebration.
In simpleton terms…it was pretty. darn. cool.
As spring progresses, they tend to disperse and go their separate ways…we have to grab moments like these when we can.
Cheers to enjoying the sights and sounds around you at any given time.
I am what you would call an experiential learner…I learn best by DOING. Just jump right in and give it a whirl, right? Questions get answered first-hand by absorbing myself in the process. It leads to the confidence to do MORE and learn MORE.
My recent weekend whirl was our first batch of homemade maple syrup.
Our refrigerator was FILLED with the crystal clear sap we’d been collecting over the week and I needed to get some shelf space back, so it was time to get cooking. Read the rest of this entry →
With the rising cost of food, it only makes sense to try and take advantage of what each and every one of us can produce for ourselves.
The benefits to growing your own edibles are many:
- It’s healthier.
- It saves you money and gives you more independence.
- You know exactly what you’re getting – the seeds you used, the soil you grew it in and the fertilizers applied.
- It doesn’t get any more ‘local’ than your own backyard.
- Gardening is good for your health – physically and mentally.
- It gives you a meaningful connection to your food and nature.
- It’s convenient.
- It’s always FRESH.
- You get to enjoy more of the plant. (If I didn’t grow my own squash, I’d miss out on the added bonus of tasty squash blossoms throughout the season.)
Growing your own food isn’t hard. It’s actually a very natural thing for each and every one of us to do. You don’t need a lot of space. If all you have is a patio, containers work great. You can enjoy growing herbs, lettuce, leafy greens and other vegetables just as much as the guy with an acre of land. There are plenty of urban farmers in the hearts of larger cities that are quite prolific with their patios, balconies and rooftops.
If you do have a yard, consider how you are using the ground you occupy. Are you planting things that are entirely aesthetic? What about incorporating more edibles into your landscaping. Mix things in amongst your shrubs and perennials, given there’s the proper amount of light. I’ve seen homes that are planted up with squash and pumpkin plants right around the front of the house and they looked beautiful. Rethink how you make use of every ounce of ground you have available.
Practice healthy, organic growing methods and select non-hybrid, heirloom seeds where you can. When you use heirloom seeds, the seed quality is better, as is the nutritional integrity of the produce and the seeds can be saved and replanted for years to come making this a renewable self-sustaining food source.
Start with the things that you love to eat and use regularly and grow it from there.
Get growing my friends…you’ll be glad you did!
Been wanting to do it for quite some time now and yesterday, we finally got our bums in gear, headed to the maple trees and had a go at things. We have two silver maples in the yard and I’m interested in seeing what kind of syrup we can yield for ourselves.
Both trees are much larger than 20 inches in diameter, so we decided to put two taps in each tree.
(My little helpers were very excited about this little after school adventure!)
We drilled our holes..slightly angled for a good drip…
(felt a bit bad drilling into the tree….but I’m assured all is good and not harmful…I’m now wondering if I’m going to need to do anything to the hole after I pull the tap in a few weeks to prevent anything from getting in there or if it will just heal itself) I always have lots of questions whenever I do something for the first time…
Inserted our taps.
And watched the sap flow….
The side of the tree that was facing the sun at that time of day had a nice stream of sap…
the opposite side was a trickle.
I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I was surprised that the sap came out crystal clear like water. (I even double checked things to make sure that’s what it was supposed to look like). Brought in a little over a quart in a short amount of time…temperatures dropped below freezing today, so I’m not anticipating much more until tomorrow when it warms back up into the 40′s. I also need to get a better ‘bucket’ system – I just worked with what I had..but I think I can do a little better with some metal pails or tubing and a 5 gallon bucket on the ground, instead of the old flimsy ice cream buckets.
I’m storing what I collect in jars for a few days until I have enough to boil down and then we’ll get going on that step.
I love doing this kind of stuff. Hopefully I did everything as I’m supposed to and we’ll be tapping for years to come. We don’t know if we don’t try, right?!
Do you tap for maple syrup in your yard?
360 seeds planted thus far and we’re just getting started. My husband Jon helped me get some of our seeds started over the weekend..(his involvement in our gardening efforts grows every year and it’s fun to watch because let’s just say, it isn’t an area he ever had any experience with growing up and it’s all kind of ‘new’ to him. Little by little, season after season, he gets more and more excited…and I’m not not gonna lie, it’s also nice to share the whole experience with someone…even if he does ask a lot of questions and needs a lot of direction…:) ha.
Over the past few days he’s said at least a dozen times….’man, that smells good’.
…When we were planting
…When we’re misting the soil
….When he walks by the trays
He’s referring to the smell of the ‘dirt’…
And I have to admit, the smell of fresh ‘dirt’ does brighten the spirits & boosts moods…gardening has that effect, no doubt about it.
He was also fascinated with how those tiny, tiny seeds actually turn into something so productive. I too find it all pretty wondrous.
Looking forward to seeing it all grow and we’re in the process of finally mapping out some pretty exciting plans for turning the green space next to our studio into a teaching garden/edible schoolyard this year. Between home and work, we’re striving to make productive use out of every little bit of ground we own.
Cheers to gardening…and the endless ways it’s beneficial to our health and well-being.
(please excuse my ‘cocktail’ gardening stand…just noticed I got a little Jack Daniels in on things….that little flea market find has proven to be a pretty handy over the years!)