>tidbits

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  • Inspired by this post on one of my favorite blogs I have decided to attempt to go shampoo free. No, I had never even HEARD of this idea before reading that post, but really…. why not? So…. my first shampoo-free wash (yesterday) was delightful. My hair air-dried beautifully and I was nuts over it. Today, without washing again, it’s doing some little flippy things I don’t like – but let’s be honest, it did those things before. More updates to follow as I endeavor to be ‘poo free (I just like saying that).
  • On the same note, tonight I will try washing my face with oil. For an oily skinned gal this is a particularly daunting idea, but I’m intrigued. And again, why not?
  • This is one of my favorite new recipes. Easy, yummy, good at any temperature. I plan to use it to wow people at my next potluck, whenever that may be.
  • There’s a lovely yeasty smell about my home right now (accented by a burning rosemary scented candle) and I have to share why. My breadmaker is churning away pizza dough. Here’s the recipe: 1 1/2 cups very hot water, 2 tsp yeast, 2 tsp sugar, 1 tsp salt, 3 1/4 cups flour. Set it to the dough setting and go about your business. In an hour and a half (that’s about how long it’ll take to finish), spill it out onto flour and turn it till it’s not sticky anymore. Place on a greased cookie sheet, and pull to fill the whole sheet. Cover with toppings (I use a small can of tomato sauce, some spices, a pound of shredded mozzarella and some pepperoni most nights) and plunk in a 400 degree over for 16-20 minutes. It’s heavenly.
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>for sale

>As spring unfurls and gardens spring to life, the blossoming in neighbors’ yards is unmistakable – particularly when it takes the form of furniture and old clothes. Something about the first gusts of spring in Minnesota draws out the inner workings of people’s houses and, inexplicably, sets them for sale. It’s uncanny – the first nice day and suddenly everywhere you look there are yard sales in full glory, replete with Little Tykes playsets, records, suitcases, and dining sets. And I am not exaggerating… I counted five on a quick drive to the supermarket on Friday afternoon.

In the corner of Southern California I grew up in, garage sales are limited to Saturday mornings and are highly specialized. A certain type of person notes in the papers when garage sales are taking place and heads out with a route in mind. Around 6:30 am. They haggle over the jewelry and clothes and relentlessly swoop from one to the next. And the sales are over by noon, absolute latest. Honestly, I recall coming across very few in my lifetime – until I moved here. My theory on this is that after months stuck indoors with their things, Minnesotans are so sick of seeing them that they’re absolutely desperate for something – anything – new. Which is why they immediately head to another yard sale to buy someone else’s castoffs.

You can find anything at all at a Minnesota yard sale. At the Festival of Garage Sales this weekend – which I confess to attending – I saw bras hanging on trees, taxidermied animal heads, half-used boxes of assorted sundries. There were full bedroom, living and dining sets, dating from the 20s to the present. Velvet posters (including Elvis). Cars for sale. Plants. Broken bikes. Golf clubs. Dog clothes.

I write this post from an Ethan Allen rocking chair that I bought for 5 dollars, which has suprisingly turned out to be the perfect office chair we’ve been searching for (Jeffery can lean back and put his feet up on the desk with perfect ease). It needs a teensy bit of work, but for $5…? My other find was a brand-new Tupperware sheet for rolling out cookies and pie crusts. I had gotten one at the Tupperware party Jeff and I threw the first year we were married (boy, does that make us sound nerdy. Doesn’t it?) that somehow got placed on a recently-used stove burner… In any case, this new one was supposed to be part of a basket of Tupperware items that someone else had already purchased, but they left it behind… and I scooped it up for $4. Hooray for the upcoming strawberry rhubarb pies!

Which is to say, I think I’m embracing the yard sale mentality. I’ve always gotten the heebie-jeebies from used things – you’ll never catch me at a Goodwill store or buying clothes from Buffalo Exchange – there’s something of the oft-uttered parent phrase “you don’t know where that’s been” that niggles for me. But I’m liking that these cotton, wood and plastic flowers shoot up in neighbors’ yards alongside the daffodils, and I can happen upon them. And maybe – just maybe – I’ll find a bouquet to take home.

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>it must’ve been moonglow…

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That song is entirely why I bought the moonglow tomato plant (the version with Tony Bennett and k.d.lang is so phenomenal it makes me want to cry). Anyway, this here is my first tomato of the year – framed by some zucchini and a cucumber – and I’m chomping at the bit to eat it. I can’t start, though, till the hubby gets home because I know he’ll want to try it – and I also know that if I start to taste it on my own there won’t be any left for him. I have a problem with tomatoes. It’s an addiction, really. But I’m okay with it.
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>this could be the start of something big

>Here are my beautiful babies… on top of the kale, basil and Italian parsley we’ve been gobbling up. There are a few little green tomatoes hanging in a cluster and the zucchini and watermelons are ready to blossom, but these are my pride and joy at the moment:

Italian eggplant (still a chubby baby)
Chinese eggplant, almost fully ripe
A teensy, prickly cucumber
The first strawberry on my everbearing plant
(promised to Olive, of course)
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berry berry nice

I think I remember that line from a Strawberry Shortcake cartoon of my youth, but regardless of where it came from it ran through my head incessantly Saturday afternoon.

He was so warm, and so generous. “We actually don’t open until tomorrow, but let’s see if we can set you up, anyway.” Three buckets later we had our fill of lovely pesticide-free organic strawberries, for which Paul charged us only the fee for 1 1/2. Perhaps this is because many [most] of Olive’s berries were still green… but trust me, she had eaten plenty of ripe ones, too.

Olive, Violet and I had headed to Natura Farms in Forest lake to go strawberry picking – a now annual event that started last year. It’s the most marvelous place – on a lake (though what isn’t out here?), veggies, herbs and berries in glorious rows. I am in utter heaven when we’re there, and Olive simply couldn’t get enough. She would pick one and say to herself, “Oooh, good berry, Olive!”

But beyond the heaven of fresh food and warm earth was Paul Otten. He welcomed us heartily and spoiled us rotten with horrendous discounts – we came home with freshly picked lettuce, tomato plants, potted basil and oregano, a flat of zinnias and our two boxes of strawberries (which, unfortunately, I decided to wait until the next day to slice up and freeze – and since they haven’t been genetically engineered to keep well for cross-country travel, many of them grew mold. I still have enough for jamming, though, thank heavens, and we’d already eaten our fill). All this for a mere pittance.

AND he gave gardening and composting advice and hooked me up with someone who could help me get my garden plot soil in tip-top shape! I’m in love!

So, out of the vast generosity and spoil of the weekend, I continue the giving spirit by sharing with you the world-famous recipe we make each year with our freshly picked strawberries….

Ladyfinger Cheesecake
Recipe type: Dessert
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 1 8oz brick cream cheese
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 packages ladyfingers, from the bakery section
  • fresh fruit – strawberries, peaches, blueberries, whatever sounds good to you.
Instructions
  1. Whip heavy whipping cream till stiff peaks form.
  2. Beat together cream cheese and sugar.
  3. Beat together the whipped cream and cream cheese mixture.
  4. Crack out a springform pan and line the edges with ladyfingers.
  5. Put a small bit of the cream mixture down on the bottom of the pan, then use half the remaining ladyfingers to layer across the bottom of the pan.
  6. Spread half the cream mixture over the top, then layer the rest of the ladyfingers and the rest of the cream mixture.
  7. Top it off with fresh fruit.

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>pick up sticks

>Felting is scary, particularly when you have a commercial washer with no options for settings. It took three go-rounds through the washer agitation cycle before this beauty was churned out, and I’m not entirely certain that it doesn’t need one more. I knit this puppy up for a girlfriend as a housewarming gift for her swanky new apartment (out of the faboo book One Skein) – hope I didn’t ruin the surprise by posting about it, K!

But the other, more exciting thing is this – a pattern for a Swiffer cover. You just knit one (or a few) up and then you can use it, wash it, and reuse it – no more frittering money away on boxes upon boxes (which are altogether too expensive) of Swiffers. I found the pattern on this month’s email installment of Green Mom Finds – an incredibly cool thing. Did you know you can get paid for old yogurt containers, soda bottles and juice pouches? I kid you not. Go check it out here.

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