my dear friend Anita tore her rotator cuff a few weeks back.
she loves doing pottery, yet due to her injury she has not been able to go to the studio and throw.
therefore, she picked her camera back up and is taking pictures.
this inspired me to go out with and play with my camera also.
here are a few pics from yesterdays walk:
looks like spring is finally well on its way!

adventures in aquaponics: take three:

we got 50 little gold fishys the other day!!
these are to jump start the water and to get the bacteria level right
so we can introduce tilapia into the big tank.
the pumps are all working,
and the weather is looking like its holding up in hopes of being able to plant
 some lettuce, herbs, etc, in the gutters.
this little gut was a little adventuresome and got stuck in the overflow.
a screen has been installed since, so they should be safe now.

yes please!

i love a good brisket.
there is something magical about meet thats is cooked slow and low
and even though i had the pastrami and not the brisket, i am sure it is equally as amazing:
tender, moist, flavorful, delicious!
thank you John for taking us.
i cannot stop thinking about my "sandwich" 

jasper silas:

after helping out Jason with cooking at the James Beard House, 
i got to stay in NYC and head over to Brooklyn where i got to meet the best thing about my trip up north:
my new nephew
he is one amazing, beautiful, and chill dude
i enjoyed holding him, hanging out with him, his parents, and his one set of grandparents for a few days and got to see John and Corinna being wonderful, new, uncomplicated, super in love parents.
i love you little bear.
you are wonderful.
you guys did good.
very good in fact!

Beard House:

the end of March found me driving to NYC in my co-woker sleek silver Hyundai. 
on board with me was said co-worker, Willow Grove's sues chef Jacob and line cook Dayna, uniforms and kitchen stuff.
after some hiccups and bold driving moves, we finally arrived at our destination
we met up with Chef Jason and Christo who had driven up an escalade filled to the max
with supplies consisting of food, tools, utensils, decorations, etc.
we had some killer sushi that night, and the next day had the pleasure of helping him make dinner for about 50 people at the 
Good times were had by all, before, during, and after the event.
it really was a privilege to participate in this special occasion and to help out a friend 
who had a dream realized.

chicago bench:

earlier this year i was invited to participate at the "Art and the Urban Garden" show at
 the Lillstreet Gallery in Chicago.
after some thinking and sketching i decided to make a bench for this exhibition.
i started construction on it late last week/early this week.
here are some process shots:

i was moving right along when my router bit started tearing my slats up. i kept trying, as i wanted to make progress, but after it destroyed about 1/3 of the slats i was working on - more than i had made extras, i decided to stop as i came to realize the bit was nothing but dull.
while in Richmond for a few different reasons yesterday i stopped at Woodcraft on my way home and picked up a new flush trim bit so i can commence the routing tomorrow.
we are supposed to have another round of 5-9" of snow tonight/tomorrow, so i am hoping to get lots done while the world is, once again, all white around me.
 hopefully my niece will come and hang out and help me again.

hydroponic harvest:

in lieu of needing more space in the grow room for the wee pepper plants and new tomato seedlings, Robert harvested what was left of the hydroponics system; Kale, Lettuce, Arugula, and Basil:
it passed Brain's inspection (she did nibble on the arugula)
after giving the to-flower/seed going arugula and lettuce to the chickens, i just made these kale chips with sesame seeds, and 3 containers of pesto with pine nuts and asiago to freeze.
both are yum.
so looking forward to summer and all the bounty it will bring!

adventures in aquaponics: take one: the beginnings

my dearly beloved has a new project he is working on:
an aquaponics system for the back yard
he started on it this past month, weather permitting, he's coming along little by little...
 building the tank and structur and lining the tank with pond-liner
 extending our gutter/downspout to direct the rain to flow in to the tank to start filling the beast up with the 300-350 gallons of water it will need
it is filling... 
we could use a really good rain.
he got the pump this week and has been working on installing that, 
some of the fittings were not right, so he is making magic and trying to make it all work together.
as soon as we get enough water in and the pump up and running we can get some gold fish to acclimate the water to get the right bacteria growing so we can start farming tilapia.
salad and herbs will be planted in the gutters above 
which will get watered and fertilized by the fishy-water that will get pumped through the gutters and run back into the tank
its an exciting project he has going on here, and i cannot wait to see how it all comes together.

thanks for looking.
will post more pics as the project progresses.

snow day sanding:

totally enjoyed having my niece tiara as my little shop helper today:
T is hoping to go to Young Life Camp this summer. she is raising money to head up to NY,
so i am happy to help her out by having her help me in the shop from time to time.
isn't she cute? she totally rocked it on her first day!

chicken pizza:

for breakfast this morning i made yummy gluten free waffles. 
there was one left over, so i topped it with peanut butter, bird seed, and homegrown sprouts to give the chickens a special treat today:
 i think it looks absolutely delicious:
they loved it and tore that thing up!

sunshine after rain:

it poured down yesterday morning. 
poured! and it was really yucky.
when running errands in the afternoon i could not help but take these pics:
the skies were wonderfully dramatic and full of color

the mountains so clear in the distance, where hey were hidden just hours before

and my favorite barns still sitting facing each other, thankfully unharmed by the tree raping that happened right next to them earlier in the year.

from scraps to ....... :

every time i am working on a project i save my cut-offs and scraps and put them in different piles around the shop. 
 knowing full well that i will still be able to use them for something, they keep piling up.
this week i had enough of all the random piles everywhere - they were getting too big to ignore and some i had to move to use my tools. so i started processing them into something useful.
long skinny strips and other parts became cutting boards. what i could no longer use for those were turned into tons of spreaders. smaller cut offs became salad hands, and hearts for mother's day 
and a few were big enough to make little trays like the ones i made earlier this week for a lady in Richmond
i have not processed everything, 
and all these things are going to need a good long shaping and sanding. 
but i thought it was an excellent start in cleaning up. 
its a lot of good product i can sell that got made with things others would have just thrown out. 
whatever was not possible to save or make anything out of has gone into the kindling bin to get the fire started every morning.
even the sawdust gets put into the barn to be used for bedding for the calf my father in laws took in and cares for after its mother passed away at birth. 
so in the end, nothing goes to waste

tree raping:

earlier this year they did some logging -yet again- on this road and left the harvested spot in shambles. 
it looks like a war just happened here. it sickens me and makes me sad every time i drive by what used to be a beautiful tree filled hill as you enter Turner Drive. 

can they not even just clean up their mess?

painted handles:

thanks to my booth at viva-la-local, a lady bought two of my 33stools.
after seeing an ash version of this tray, 
she wanted me to make her these little trays out of the heart of pine 
with matching colored handles to go with them:

i wasn't so convinced how i would like them with painted handles, 
but i think they are pretty cute.


there is always plenty to be thankful for. 
so many times this harsh winter i was thankful for my husband and father in law for providing me with wheelbarrows full firewood:
lots and lots of scraps for kindling to get that fire started:
 and last but not least the fire and stove that eventually warm the shop so its tolerable to work in
what are you thankful for?

chewy fruit-nut-bars:

when robert and i decided to cut sugar out of our diet the beginning of the year, 
we were missing some sweet things to snack on here and there. so i have made a few batches of bars like this, that are packed chock full of healthy yumminess and so easy to make:
 this batch consists of raw almonds and cashews, organic raisins, dates, chia seeds and oats
i dont really follow any recipes. as for amounts - there is more fruit than nuts to make it sticky
 put it all in a blender together
 get it to the right consistency - i had to add more raisins.
in the past i have also used apricots and added some orange zest. 
one really great things about these bars or bites is that one can really customize these to whatever flavors and tastes one prefers
form a square or something to easily cut into cubes or bars on some wax or freezer paper.
for easier cutting, store in fridge for a while to harden just a wee bit.
play with your own combinations and let me know what you like.


not being one that "observes" valentines day, 
as in my heart and mind its my sister Judy's birthday, 
yesterday i got to make and plate all kinds of treats for those that do while working a long shift
at the Inn at Willow Grove:
-chocolate mereigne with white chocolate mousse and vanilla essence-
-pop rock crusted truffles-
-passion fruit panna cotta-
-pecan and dried cherry backlava with dark chocolate sorbet and blackberry coulis-