Thursday, September 29, 2011

East Coast to West Coast and Back


Over the past couple days I've been on a quick working trip out to Los Angeles, California for a special project. I'll be excited to share the details of what went down a little bit later as plans shape up.


While not my first trip to California, it was actually my first time in LA. I stayed in the heart of Beverly Boulevard, saw the Hollywood sign, walk of fame, and took a drive through the famous hills. I tried to snap a pic while at a viewpoint in the hills but it seems there is more of me to see than the view, ha!

More on this trip to come...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Gulpy Giveaway: Portable Dog Water Bottle

***Update: This giveaway has ended, find the lucky winner at the bottom of the post. Stay tuned for future giveaways right here at 17 Apart! ***

We love this crazy little contraption for dogs so much, we're giving one away to a lucky reader! Full details below the dotted line (if you want to skip ahead).

Basil drinking from the Gulpy during our orchard day trip.

We've pined over our love for the Gulpy here on the blog before. Once introduced to this clever little portable water dispenser for dogs at our local market, we couldn't get home quickly enough to purchase one for Basil. I like to refer to the Gulpy as a flask for dogs, but it's basically a water bottle with a flip open tray that catches a stream of water when squeezed from the bottle. The dog can drink from it like a bowl, the water stays contained, and you can simply toss the bottle in a tote bag.

Seeing that we bring our dog, Basil, with us pretty much anywhere dogs are permitted, a portable water option is a dream come true. We simply snap open the side bar, squeeze an allotted amount of water in and let Basil drink up as he pleases. Once he's finished, we usually still have water left in the bottle for later during the outing.

Today's giveaway is for the pink version of the Gulpy as pictured above. Sorry to those of you with little fellas — we weren't able to provide a more gender-nuetral color this go round. Being such a great portable gadget for pups though, it may not even matter!

+ - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - +

Now down to business:
To enter, simply leave a comment on this post and tell us the name of your favorite pooch. We just love creative names for the 4-legged variety.

Each of the following will earn you an additional entry:
  • Follow this blog by clicking the "join this site" button in the top right sidebar and leave a new comment on this post letting us know.
  • "Like" 17 Apart on Facebook and leave a new comment on this post letting us know you've done so.
  • Follow 17 Apart on Twitter and leave a new comment on this post letting us know you've done so.
  • Share this post by clicking the Facebook Like button at the top of the post and leave a new comment on this post letting us know you've done so.
  • Tweet about the giveaway including the following: "@17Apart is giving away a gulpy for one lucky pooch: http://tinyurl.com/3kuaw35" along with anything else you'd like to include - then leave a new comment on this post letting us know you've done so.
  • Sign up for our mailing list by clicking the button in our sidebar and leave a new comment on this post letting us know you've done so.
The giveaway will end Saturday, October 8, 2011 at 11:59 PM EST; the winner will be auto-generated using Random.org and updated in this post shortly thereafter. Be sure to come visit to find out the winner and good luck!

***Update: This giveaway has ended, the lucky winner is commenter #75, Rita Spratlen, who's favorite dogs are Ruffy, Tuffy. Ranger, Mona, Mona the 2nd, and Duke. Thanks to all that participated and stay tuned for future giveaways right here at 17 Apart! ***

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

NYC Through Our Lens

Now finally back home and settled into the swing of things here in Virginia, we wanted to share a glimpse of what our week in the city looked like. Amazing views, finds, food and company:


Views: It seems anywhere in NYC incredible and unique views are to be found. From the iconic bridges, skyscraper buildings, and underground rails, there's always something to look at.

One of my favorite street views is of "diamond row" where this section of 46th street is marked with huge diamond shaped sculptures on either side to denote this little diamond street of the city — pun intended. The street is crammed with diamond jewelry and supply shops one right after the other. If you get there early enough in the day, you'll catch the shopkeepers refilling out the large window displays with all of the diamonds they lock up for safe keeping each night.


Finds: It wouldn't be us if we didn't peek into a few (or every) antique shop and flea market we come across. This trip was no different. NYC takes the antique shop to a whole new level of cool. We went into a couple warehouses filled with row upon row of everything under the sun. There were buckets full of buttons, boxes filled with silver plated cutlery, stacks of wooden crates, and endless lines of large storage & furniture pieces waiting to be shown a new life.

If in the city, Brooklyn Flea markets are a great way to get introduced into the magic of city finds and treasures.


Food:
We get a little carried away with food while in the big city — we're basically like a couple of kids in huge candy store wanting to stop into all of our old favorites and try out new places on the list (Tim is in charge of said list). This often means we're dining out almost every single night of our stay which is amazingly fun, but we're definitely indulging. I always look forward to "detoxing" the week after being in the city — know what I mean?

Some of our favorite stops pictured included Bedford Cheese Shop, Brooklyn Roasting Company, Aurora, Five Leaves, and Maison Premiere. Each are places we'd recommend if you find yourself staying in or visiting through Brooklyn.


Company: As always, our trips let us chat with old friends, our favorite restaurant staff & bartenders, and spend time with my Etsy coworkers in person rather than virtually! The last set of photos below show a glimpse of our family style EATSY meals and preferred mode of transportation to the office.


Click any of the images above for a larger view taken with the our FX Camera phone apps and thanks for taking part in our version of taking on New York. We're always looking for new things to do and see, so would love to hear some of your favorite haunts or great memories from being in the city.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Weekend Basics

Much of this past weekend was spent unpacking from our week in New York, taking care of home tasks and taking a fun day trip to Virginia Beach on Sunday.

1 & 4: I made a Hungarian Lecsó with the Hungarian peppers I brought home from the Union Square Farmer's Market in New York last week. Lecsó is a brothy vegetable base for various types of dishes. My parents make a killer version incorporating rice and Hungarian sausage. We ended up freezing the Lecsó to use as a go-to recipe base for cooler nights coming up this autumn. Watch for the full recipe over on E.A.T. later in the week.

2, 3, & 6: Sunday we left the house early for a day trip to Virginia Beach. We headed that way to see Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat play live at the nTelos Wireless Pavillion in Portsmouth, Virginia (about 25 minutes from the beach). While the beach was a bit of a ghost town, we had fun walking the boardwalk, seeing the strip, eating seafood, and dipping our toes in the sand.

5: After using, eating, and giving away several of the apples we picked during our orchard trip, we still had a significant amount of fruit left over from our 2 bushels. I decided to go with a freezing method for preserving what was left so we can continue to use the apples throughout the fall and winter. I'd say I'm a pretty "pro-peeler" when it comes to the old fashioned pairing knife method, though I admit I was wishing I still had my amazing antique apple peeler that sold from the shop in the spring — nothing compares.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Subway transportation in New York City



We always wish there was better public transportation in Richmond. How nice would it be to walk to the end of our block and jump on a trolley like days gone past. After all, Richmond had the first successful electrically powered trolley system in the United States. That said, after a week of subways and taxis we are looking forward to being able to drive to the market and not have to carry everything we purchased the full way home.

We are lucky Mary has the flexibility to travel to NYC for business but we always look forward to heading home. Looking forward to sharing the things we loved from our week in the city and seeing our Basil a little later.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

How To: Homemade Natural Dog Treat Recipe, Fresh Apples


We've been wanting to try our hand at making homemade natural dog treats ever since we brought Basil home. We've even found a few treats we love including Whoofles and Sam's Yams — both very simple treat concepts we love giving Basil.

Our recent trip to the apple orchard lent the perfect excuse to finally take on a recipe of our own as a way to help use up a small portion of the abundance of apples we brought home.


We were thrilled to find a simple recipe for natural dog treats incorporating fresh apples on this pet health and care resource website. One of the best parts about this recipe, as with the homemade ice cream we made, is how the base ingredients could quite literally substitute any additional ingredients to come up with different variations on these natural treats. For example, instead of fresh apple, we could have swapped in fresh sweet potatoes, bananas, carrots or a mixture of them all.
Here's how it all went down in our kitchen (We tripled the following recipe in order to use more apples and stock up on treats in one shot):

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 finely chopped or grated apple
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup cold water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease cookie sheets.


Blend flour and cornmeal in large mixing bowl, then incorporate apple, egg, oil, brown sugar, and water until well blended. Flour your workspace and roll out dough to desired thickness. Mine was just under 1 inch thick and uneven in some spots (we'll call that homemade flair)...

Side note: the recipe called for finely chopped or grated apples. I chopped mine into large pieces, then slowly pulsed them in our food processor. This not only saved me time, but created semi-regular sized apple chunks to blend right into the rest of the base ingredients. I left the processed pieces fairly chunky instead of pureeing them, because I like the idea of being able to see the actual apple pieces throughout each treat.


Cut cookies to desired shape and size — I used a 4 inch dog bone shape from a cookie cutter I bought off Etsy. Find more variations and sizes here.


Place dog cookies on baking sheet and bake 35 minutes. After baking, turn oven off and leave cookies inside for another 30-45 minutes until crisp.


Once crisp, remove dog cookies from oven and let cool. Transfer to zipper bags or airtight containers and freeze to preserve freshness for your little one!

I made these late enough on Saturday, we had already dropped off Basil at his babysitter's house for the week while we are in NYC. So while we didn't get a chance to let him try them out yet, I did bring a small batch up with me to the Etsy offices where dogs are welcome. They were all happy pups so at least we know these treats weren't a failure. Gotta say I'm looking forward to testing them out on our little guy though.

We're definitely looking forward to making new batches of these — both with apples and other new natural ingredients. I'm thinking what a great holiday gift they'd make to those we know who have dogs and those that take care of dogs (all the fine folks who watch over Basil while we can't be around).

We'd love to know if you've tried making your own pet treats before and if so, what your favorite recipes are!


P.S. For those of you interested in recipes, check out this Halloween themed partner post we worked on at Etsy with the fine folks of Everyday with Rachael Ray. Plus, find a special $10 yearly subscription rate offer exclusive to Etsy readers right here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Showalter's Apple Orchard Trip


Today we wanted to recap the day trip we took to go apple picking in the mountains of Virginia. I'll warn you the post is a bit image-heavy as we wanted to share the breathtaking scenery and memories we made.


Tim planned the day trip to Showalter's Orchard and Greenhouse because it's located just about 20 minutes Northwest of James Madison University, where his daughter goes to school. Tim, Brandon, Basil and I packed into the car early and headed up to JMU to see Stephanie's new dorm room and head off to the orchard.


Once there, we picked out a wagon and decided on two bushel-sized apple baskets to get things going. We figured with both children taking apples back with them and the two of us using and eating them, this would more than be enough to get us through.

The orchard wasn't too busy and at times it seemed as if we had the endless rows of apple trees completely to ourselves. It made for amazing views, some foolishness, and incredible opportunities for taking photos.


Tim and Brandon showed off their juggling skills, to Basil's amazement. I think it might have been more of a competition — but there was no clear winner, haha. I just love the game face look of the "start" photo to the left and the guys with fierce concentration faces to the left — this was serious business I tell you. You may have already seen the stop motion film short I put together with the full set of photo stills from their apple juggling.

And a little more serious business between these two hams...


While picking, Stephanie spotted this delicate little bird's nest right among the apples. It was such a diamond in the rough and reminder of the nature surrounding us.


I will admit, while I was in charge of the wagon, this also happened:


Thank goodness I was in good company who just laughed it off. For those of you who don't know me, I'm extremely clumsy. My mom always says my "motor skills" weren't the best as a small child — this has seemed to follow me through life and continues to be a big joke between Tim and I. He likes to call me his mess. I concur.

Basil was in his element at the orchard. He quickly became the center of attention among the few other folks there and when we were off by ourselves, we took him off leash to run around and let loose. The orchard owners had a Brittany puppy of their own roaming the grounds who just fell in love with Basil and followed us everywhere. He even introduced us to the resident billy goat!


It's always important to me to try to photo-document some of these trips we take. Below are some of my favorite family photos we shot while there:


We ended the day with two full bushels of apples. We've got lofty goals of recipes and projects to take on in order to use them up (in addition to the good old simple apple a day) — some of which we've already tried and others we hope to tackle in the coming weeks. Thus far, you may recall Tim's hot apple cider toddy recipe and a sneak peek of the apple dog treats I made over the weekend. As always, we hope to share it all as it goes down.


If you've made it this far, thanks for taking the virtual trip with us! We highly recommend getting out in the crisp weather for an adventure in apple picking of your own. I cannot describe how fresh an apple tastes straight off the tree. Tim likes to claim, you haven't tasted a real apple until you've picked it from the tree.

To find a local orchard in your neck of the woods, check out this clever orchard directory filled with locations, resources, and info on apple varieties!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Weekend Basics

1. Inspired by Kimberley Hasselbrink's butternut squash gratin recipe posted this week on the Etsy blog, I just had to take it for a spin in our own kitchen — it didn't disappoint. Find my full variation of the recipe on E.A.T.

2. After venturing out to our neighborhood farmer's market, we made it over to the 43rd Street Festival of the Arts. We love getting the opportunity to meet local artists and especially wanted to get a first look at the new work of our talented friend and photographer, Gary Garbett (pictured).

3. & 6. Mary and I are in NYC this week. We made the trip up to the city yesterday in time for some midday oysters at Maison Premiere. I'm planning on once again eating my way through the city this week while placing a special emphasis on tasting oysters. Follow my journey over on E.A.T. and stay tuned here for recaps of our week in the big city.

4. Hot Toddy's on the porch, toasting the notable change in season that took place with a cold front down here in Virginia this past week. Find my full cocktail recipe for this classic fall drink in the final segment of my happy hours series on Hills & Heights.

5. Sneak peek of the homemade natural dog treats we made using apples from last weekend's day trip to the apple orchard. Look for the recipe here on the blog later this week.

Mary got a chance to sneak over to Field Day of the Past with the little ones. This event is like a culmination of all good things that are old — literally bringing them back to life for a long weekend of fun and history.

Virginia and Benjamin at Field Day of the Past, 2011

Evidently they had truck beds filled with corn kernels and plenty of carnival rides to keep them entertained for hours.

We hope your weekend was just as full and are looking forward our week ahead in the big city!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Things We Loved This Week


1. As you know, we're on a bit of a garlic kick. This recipe couldn't have come at a better time! French pickled garlic; recipe via food + words.

2. Nellystella, girls' clothing. Being an aunt, I've become way more in tune with product lines for the little ones. This is one brand I could just sit with for an hour, scrolling through the whimsical images of their current and past collections.

3. The Handy Dandy Hand Camera Strap at Photojojo; via SycamoreStreetPress' Pinterest.

4. A Little Relish Magazine; via Creature Comforts. An inspiring and beautiful online magazine independently produced by Chantelle Grady of Brisbane, Australia. Curl up with your glass of tea or wine — this is one lookbook you'll want to savor.

5. Our kind of camp breakfast; via Pinterest.

6. Vintage Le Creuset saucepans; via TheOldRedHen on Etsy.

7. For the weekend, we'll leave you with another inspiring video by Lost & Found Films profiling a man by the name of John Coffer. We find motivation in how well John has been able to weave old world practices with modern technology and convenience to create his own safe haven:



COFFER from thismustbetheplace on Vimeo; via Poppytalk.


P.S. For those of you running your own creative endeavors, find a specialized merchandising report full of tips and key dates to remember I put together to carry you through the approaching holiday season: here, on the Etsy blog.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

We Have Garlic!


I walked down to the garden this morning and to my amazement, we have garlic sprouts! 7 to be exact. If I remember correctly, we planted about 11 cloves, so over half survived the heavy rains of last week. We're still waiting to see signs of life from the other plants we seeded in the fall garden, but were most thrilled to find the garlic taking shape since it's something neither of us have planted before.

It's the little things in life...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Apple Jugglers





We told you we went apple picking in the mountains of Virginia over the weekend at Showalter's Orchard and Greenhouse in Timberville, Virginia. While we're putting a fuller orchard update together, today we wanted to share this stop motion film short Mary fashioned from the photo stills of me and Brandon showing off our juggling skills.

As you can see, Basil was pretty enthralled with our juggling abilities — and even more thrilled when I dropped one of my apples. Still feeling inspired by the Whoofles we found at Wholefoods Market, I'm already brainstorming some natural dog treat recipes we can whip up with some of the apples from our day trip.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Weekend Basics


1 & 2. Tim planned an all day orchard trip on Saturday for us to go pick apples in the mountains of Virginia at Showalter's Orchard & Greenhouse. Not only was the scenery breathtaking, we got to spend some old fashioned family time together with both Stephanie and Brandon (Tim's children). We left tuckered and filled with fresh inspiration for fall apple recipes.

3. Basil, Mr. Separation Anxiety himself, came right along for the trip to the orchard and met a new little friend — the orchard's Brittany farm puppy. They became fast buddies, running all over the farm & orchard together.

4. On the way back from the apple orchard, we stopped off at a few antique malls on the back roads. I made out with some new treasures and oddities to incorporate into my jewelry line.

5. Almost 7 days after planting our fall garden, we are seeing sprouts from the Swiss chard and arugula plant varieties. Still crossing our fingers to see signs of the onions and garlic in the coming week.

6. While cultivating the new fall plants, we're still enjoying the bounty from some of our summer varieties hanging in there. Tim fried up some of the fresh okra continuing to grow as a snack for the Steelers game yesterday. While they were delicious, they didn't seem to bring any luck Tim's way on the outcome of the game...(shhhhhh). Find his simple recipe and secret ingredient for giving fried okra that extra kick over on E.A.T.

This also happened:

I'd heard of Tastee Freez before but had never actually been to one. We broke bad and stopped in for a couple of chocolate dipped cones. Why didn't we know how messy these are!? In any case, it was a total time warp and good fun.

In other news, our Blanchard's coffee giveaway came to a close this Saturday. We've updated the post announcing the lucky winner, Debbie, who says she likes her coffee with "just a bit of cream."

While there could only be one randomly drawn winner, we absolutely loved reading through each of the entries and just had to share some of our favorites from those of you who answered our question with how you like to take your coffee:

Diane52: "i like mine strong...men too."

Beth Elderton: "This time of year we drink our coffee on ice with a homemade flavored creamer. When it gets cooler we like very bold, strong coffee with sugar and cream."

Beki: "I've really been surprised in that my husband is the one who got me drinking coffee and now I can make a better cup than he. Although, he may be faking it just so I'll take over the coffee-making duties. ;) I also prefer a much bolder flavor to my coffee. Who knew!?! "

susitravi: "I like my coffee with flavorings and sugar - my DH shakes his head as he drinks his strong plain black coffee."

ky2here: "Give it to me black."

kmartyflys: "I am also a former starbucks regular. However, you can't beat a cup of dark as dark with 1 sugar and half&half. tasty!"

Thanks to all who participated and stay tuned for future giveaways coming soon.