Sunday, June 21, 2009

a SLicE oF MulBeRrY pIE

Every day is an opportunity to try something new. Today's new fangled 'thang' involved mulberries. I've been surrounded by Mulberry trees my entire life. They surrounded the silos at my Grandma and Grandpa's campground. They're all around our cabin in Illinois, and there are several trees in our wooded areas around the house I live in now. I've picked MANY of them over the years; shook the tree branches over sheets; ate them straight off the tree; served them over ice cream; and squished the heck out of them to use the juice as a stain in an art project. I have never, however, made a mulberry pie.......until today. I saw thousands of them spread about the path, where they'd fallen, been tread upon and were just basically getting transported around on everyone's shoes...and, it prompted me to think of what a shame it was that we weren't making better use of all these berries that are readily available to us year after I began thinking of what all I could start doing with them and what they'd be good for. Would they make good jam? Should I freeze them? How 'bout a PIE?! My dad said he hadn't had one of those since he was little, so the perfect little treat for Father's Day! While Maddie and the guys were fishing, I gathered up a bed sheet and headed to the trees.....I picked and shook, picked and shook, wondering if I was even making any progress...seemed like I should have had a lot more in my bucket for the amount of time I had spent! Hopefully, I had enough to throw together a pie because my hands were a new shade of purple, my shoulders and arms were speckled with berry stains from shaking the branches and frankly, I was ready to move on to the next step. I rinsed them all off, debated on whether or not to remove the tiny little stems (which would have taken forever) and ultimately decided they would probably just cook up, so I left them on. It's also worth mentioning that I'm in the single digits with the number of pies I've made over the years. Love 'em, just never seem to make very many of them. My daughter suggested I mix in some other berries like strawberries or raspberries, but then we wouldn't really know what a true Mulberry pie tasted like, so we went mulberries straight up! I'm not someone to fuss over crimped edges and perfect lattice tops, I just do it up free and easy and I'm happy to say, it turned out to be the most beautiful pie I've ever made. The only thing I would've done differently is to not double the fruit. (I'm kind of a more is better type of gal, and I wasn't sure how much the fruit would cook down....but it was one FAT slice of pie!) The stems did pretty much disappear, so I don't know whether I would ever bother with removing the stems. Everyone thought it was surprisingly quite tasty, but the addition of other berries next time might make things even more interesting! Who knew we'd have so much fun with baking a pie!?! I just need to figure out how to harvest MORE berries in LESS time!

Cheers to the Mulberry Tree and my DAD! Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

b. OrgaNic @ HeaRd GaRDeNs

Last weekend, we hung out with our friends down the road at Wright Outdoor Solutions/Heard Gardens for one of their many summertime festivities. They asked us to share some recyclable garden art projects and we delivered! It was great fun, we even recycled some of our garden art projects from some of our older courage to create and b. original shows, and did them up a little differently, which was great fun to play around with again. Ideas never die and when you dust them off for a revisit, they can take a fresh new turn for the better. It was a beautiful day filled with fun demonstrations; we met a lot of new people; shared ideas; gave away wine bottles and saucers so people could whip up their own colorful toadstools when they got home; and got everyone all excited for the launch of b. organic in August.

Cheers to Gardens EVERYWHERE!

Friday, June 19, 2009

SaNDwiCh oF tHe sEAsoN

There is nothing more exciting (OK..maybe some things, but not many) than heading out to the garden and freshly picking what you're going to be eating for the day! Living in the midwest, I savor these summer months and get as much growing as I can possibly take care of in this short window of time. You'd be pretty tough pressed to find anything that tastes better than 'fresh from the garden'. The radishes have been bustin' out of the beds for a couple of weeks now and my steady midday staple has pretty much been the all time favorite - 'radish sandwich'. My grandpa used to make these when I was younger and they've been a favorite of mine ever since. Everyone but my dad and Madeline pretty much wrinkle their nose up at my signature offering I'm usually flying solo and only having to prepare one. How anyone can resist is beyond me....they are SIMPLY DElicious!
Throw some fresh, grainy oatmeal bread in the breadmaker, slice up some newly pulled radishes, stir up a thin spread of dill or parsely butter, Shake out a little salt with some red and black pepper....AND ENJOY!!!!! Pack 'em up in YOUR lunch, my friends!

Cheers to VEGGIE Sandwiches....little edible slices of heaven!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

a CoLoRfuL rEmiNdEr

To surround yourself with fresh flowers every day that you can!!!!!! Puts a bright spot in your day......GUARANTEED! Once the garden starts bloomin’ my flower jars are never sittin’ empty! They’re in every room of the house, at the office, in my studio…….I’ve even had to re-stock my supply of leftover jars! (which those closest to me find very hard to believe!) Converting their lids and filling them with flowers from the garden is one of my favorite summertime treats for myself and everyone around me. I LOVE it! I get to enjoy the blooms of my labor indoors while at the same time, the regular cuttings are keeping my plants outside, busy producing new flowering's one glorious cycle of enjoyment! I am constantly planting new things that I love to fill up my jars with each year and it saves me from ever having to go out and purchase cut flowers. Even if you're not burstin' with blooms in your yard..branches, hosta leaves and herbs are also wonderful things to arrange indoors. And, it's NEVER too late to start planting.
Click here to find out how to do up some of your own: Fill them with beautiful things from your garden and share with family and friends! Makes a very quick, easy, no cost, spur of the moment gift for anyone, anytime!
Mine have been full for several weeks now and will continue to be until the snow flies! I love making them, I love filling them, and I love sharing them!
I wish you the same!

Cheers to fresh cut flowers and all the joy they bring!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

lEaVeS Of ThREe, LeT It bE!!!!!!

Seriously. How can such a beautiful vine cause such nastiness? Swollen, itchy, less than attractive, pretty much sums up my last couple of latest run in with poison ivy got the best of me and has definitely worn out its' welcome!!!! And, it WASN'T because I DON'T know what it looks like, it's simply because of arrogance and an undeserved confidence that led me to think I was resilient to the stuff any more. I used to be horribly allergic to it when I was younger, but I've been around it several times over the past few years and haven't had any reactions, so of course, I've had it in my head that I am now one of the lucky souls that isn't bothered by it anymore. Obviously, not the case! In an effort to start creating a beachy, picnic area around the pond a couple of weekends ago, we needed to clear out a LOT of scrub brush that was blocking the view and stifling the growth of the good stuff. I wasn't totally careless, I had on gloves and boots. The tank top probably wasn't the best idea and wiping the sweat off my face with the gloves was another bad choice. The poison ivy was everywhere, and I ripped and pulled, and yanked it out of there as mindlessly as I ripped out the skin friendly grapevines. Even with an aggressive scrub-down, the after effects of my efforts were fully evident the next day, with colorful additions popping up several days beyond! That portion of the pond was starting to look better, I however, not so much!
Went the natural route to start with... baking soda pastes, oatmeal baths, vitamin c, jewelweed soaps, homeopathic tablets....then discovered Zanfel.....a pricey little tube of heaven (went through two of them, so far!) available at any discount store or pharmacy, but still ended up having to break down and head to the clinic...when it gets in your system, you can fight it out for 4-6 weeks, or let a little prednisone help put the brakes on it. It's impossible to cover it up for shooting, and long sleeves on warm days...not very comfortable. The team was adamant about me wearing a sweatshirt, a scarf and a face framing hairdo at our event last weekend, so I didn't gross everyone out...NICE, huh?!! Basically, it is what it is...I've still had to go about my business and get out and about, so for those of you who I've run into over the past couple of weeks, who walked away thinking, "man what's wrong with her?!".......that's the story!
Ivy Block and long sleeves are in order next time!

CHEERS TO NATURE....the good, the bad and the ugly!

Friday, June 12, 2009

RaCoOn RivEr dAYs

Hello creative minds, Zach here, checkin' in for Michele this week. I just thought I'd give her a writing break because she's always so crazy busy! Last weekend we were invited to participate in a great kids event, Van Meter's Raccoon River Days Parade and Activities. I was personally lucky enough to drive our Courage to Create Van in the parade with two awesome candy throwers, Michele's daughter, Madeline, and nephew, Tyler.

After the parade, Michele and the rest of us had a blast talking to kids and parents alike, all wandering close to our booth to figure out exactly what "b organic" was all about. At first, I was a little skeptical about having an educational booth at an event that featured blow up obstacle courses, potato sack races, and a whole plethora of games and activities for the kids. But to my surprise, everyone wanted to check out all the creative goodness that was spread about our booth. Oh and as you can see, we all got to sport our new b organic t-shirts, want one? Too bad, you're going to have to wait it out, just keep checking the store, they will be up in not so distant future.

We lured the kids in with some sweet b organic tattoos and a drawing for one of our ever-popular Mud Bars. When the parents followed the young ones, we gave out some creative project sheets that had tons of great ideas to get the kids outside and in touch with nature during the warm summer months. We even handed out a few of our Rustic Residents, everyone seemed to love them! All in all, it was an amazing creative success. Spreading our knowledge and creativity is all we ever aim to do, and as for this weekend, I'd say it was a major success! Oh, and not to forget about the Mud Bar, our lucky winner was Kierra Jimmerson, make sure to have a muddy blast with the Mud Bar, little lady!

Cheers to Potato Sack Races, I LOVE 'EM!

Zacharoo Out