Monday, April 30, 2012

Weekend Basics

1. We ventured on over to Woofstock Saturday morning — a local festival put on by the Richmond Animal League that's both family and pet friendly.


Amidst all the excitement, we ran into two other weims and we were drawn to them like a magnet. Something about weims seems to make us stop in our tracks — must be like that with all breed owners that run into folks with the same type of dog. We always just start asking the other owners random questions about their weims, especially what works for separation anxiety in their experience. These three were pretty funny together — they all got those same "crazy eyes" as we call them when the tennis ball came out.


Oh, and there were puppies. Lots and lots of puppies...



2. Friday we ventured out to the much anticipated RVA Food Truck Rally we talked about last week. It was a quick walk from our house, we were able to bring Basil along with us and the place was packed! We'd just eaten dinner when we embarrassingly remembered the food truck court was happening and decided to check it out for dessert.

Almost all of Richmond's food trucks were there — about 11 or 12 in total and a couple, like Mr. Softee, specialized in dessert only. Mary was happy about this. Other food trucks we saw there included Boka Truck, Sustenence Truck, Dressed and Press Truck, Crossroads Truck, Flynn's Food Truck, Habenero's Truck, Thai Cabin Truck, and the Rooster Cart. We'll be back for dinner soon — oh yes, we will.

3. Speaking of eating out, we went out to Pasture for dinner Saturday night — loving the small plates and homage to southern eats here. A great place to try if visiting Richmond and staying in the city or if you're already here and haven't made it out quite yet. The pimento cheese remains one of our favorites here.


4. In an effort to continue to use greens and product from our new Farm Table produce deliveries, I whipped together this grilled cheese sandwich incorporating Swiss & Gruyere cheeses, Swiss chard and artichokes. Trust me on this one.


Find the recipe here, on E.A.T.

5. More planting — this time it was 2 varieties of peppers: Aurora & Texas Bird. We're looking forward to these guys, that's for sure.


6. Basil's evidently been doing some late night Etsy shopping. These crazy large antlers came in the mail that he hasn't put down since. More on these antler dog chews from WSPuppyeyes right here.


7. We broke out the canning jars! It's barely springtime, we know — but again, trust on this one. More details to follow.



Thursday, April 26, 2012

Behind the Scenes at Martha Stewart: The Etsy Show

I'm back in NYC this week with so many awesome projects going on at Etsy — one of which I've been looking forward to sharing here! Monday of this week I got the opportunity to attend the taping of the Martha Stewart Show entirely about Etsy and it airs TODAY! That's Thursday, April 26th, 2012 at 10am on the Hallmark Channel (check your local listing schedule here).

A lot of work has gone into this show and I am so proud to be a part of a company like Etsy that offers such an incredible avenue for independent creative businesses.


I flew into the city bright and early on Monday morning with just enough time to get a little coffee, grab a pair of pantyhose (tmi?) and scoot my way on over to the Martha studios. Upon arrival, the line for the show was already backed way up and the best part was the entire audience was made up of Etsy shop owners. I saw so many familiar and new-to-me faces — it was truly inspiring.


I stood in line just behind the famous Sue Eggen of Giant Dwarf (who's even more beautiful in person if that's even possible) and spent a good deal of time talking with Mary Cooper of Super Duper Mary Cooper and Linda Ellet of L'esperance Tile Works who both got into the line shortly after I did.
 
Sue Eggen, Giant Dwarf

Everyone invited to sit in the audience was asked to bring along something they make and sell in their Etsy shops. I wore this pair of earrings I'd made from vintage chandelier crystals and brought along the below necklace I'd made from a vintage Kay tap shoe tap (more necklace details available here).


As we entered the building from the outside line, we were issued official tickets that were color coded, had our bags checked, passed through security and were ushered into two holding rooms where we'd wait for further instructions.


There was much chatter and excitement as everyone got a chance to meet one another in person — telling the stories behind their items and what kind of journey they made that morning to make it into the show taping. This part of the process was one of my favorites since I got the chance to chat with so many people I've only interacted with online previously — it was almost like one giant reunion.


We were encouraged to wear bright solid colors to the show since they apparently pick up and read much better on camera. I had a black dress I was originally planning to wear, but once I read the note about bright colors in my reservation, I went with my go-to green dress (remember it from the HGTV & Etsy Design on a Dime episode we taped back in September?).

Backstage with Morgan, Kimm & Julie

Those with blue color coded cards were called upon first from the holding rooms — score! 

It turns out, the Martha show staff had grouped all of us on the Etsy staff together to sit down on the front row of the studio floor — so we were technically in front of the main audience and in front of the majority of filming. I thought for a moment, we'd escaped from being featured on camera — below is a view of the main audience seating area in the actual taping studio from where I sat.

The Martha staff were all so personable and very cool — they even made it clear that we could use our cameras and phones to take photos of everything so long as we stayed in our seats and turned them off on cue when cameras began rolling with Martha.


Can you feel the excitement?? This is a shot of Michelle and I once we realized we were literally sitting on the front seat of the front row for the taping:


After being seated, I snapped as many quick shots of the set as I could before we had to turn off our cameras during filming. This gives you an idea of all the different nooks and crannies that made up the full studio.

 

It was so fascinating to me to see how many vignettes and filming sets there were on this one large set — everything from a test kitchen, to crafting zones, home decor setups, laundry and mud rooms, even an entire faux greenhouse overlooking a faux city. I tried to capture shots of the ceiling in each photo to show just how many lights, cameras & microphones were hanging down — it was so surreal.

Here are my views of the main audience (sea of 100% Etsy shop owners) from where I was sitting down in the studio chairs once everyone had filed in and was seated:


Seated down low with me were several of my coworkers who also happen to have Etsy shops. From right to left you'll see Sarah, Danielle, Morgan, and Sarah.


You can see where the colorful attire came into play and how it really did brighten up the look & feel. Once seated, the Martha staff came around and asked us to try to hold up the pieces we'd made and brought with us at all times so the camera could pick them up. It was really cool to be able to scan the audience and put faces to all the familiar products I'm so used to seeing on Etsy everyday in my work.

Once Martha was ready for taping we were all instructed to turn our phones and cameras completely off for the duration of the filming until they said we could turn them back on. The taping itself was extremely well done and highly organized — almost every single segment was shot in one take. Martha was a pro and looked fantastic.

Here's the one shot I got of Martha while we were allowed to have our cameras back out after taping wrapped up. She's standing in the middle there in the brown pants looking up at and thanking the audience after the show.


When all was said and done, we were ushered out row by row and as we left, the Martha staff snapped individual photos of every single audience member holding up their handmade item to profile on their site. I was pretty impressed with that.

Here is the shot from Martha's site of me with my necklace:


Heading out from the show, I picked up my jacket and luggage from the checkpoint before they told us to pick up our Martha swag bags...


These are Martha's "swag guys." They thought it was hilarious I wanted to get a shot of them, even though the look on this guy in the foreground might make you think otherwise. I bet they have an eventful job, no?


I'll leave you with a final shot of once more, where we were seated —my beautiful and talented coworkers from right to left: Kim, Julie, Sarah, Danielle & Morgan


I mentioned thinking for a moment that we'd escaped being in the line of audience filming — though there is an Etsy fashion segment that took place literally right in front of our chairs, so you just might get a peek at each of us during that segment if you aren't blinded by the incredible handmade and vintage Etsy fashion being modeled by even more of my coworkers, their children & office pets.

What an opportunity! One for the memory books. Don't forget to tune in this morning at 10am on the Hallmark Channel to catch the full episode (check your local listings here).

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Farm Table Box: Our Produce Deliveries

Tim and I have been frequenting our local markets for years now, loving every moment and we look forward to continuing. Each season that goes by we reiterate to one another how much we really need to go ahead and join a CSA. This is where The Farm Table Box comes into play — while not a traditional CSA in that all produce comes from one farm, this produce delivery concept supports multiple local farms and delivers fresh, sustainably grown food weekly.

We love the flexibility of The Farm Table Box in that you can skip weeks you might be out of town or swap in different foods for others to suit your needs.


Our first delivery came bright and early last Thursday — and our box was filled with strawberries, eggs, bread, elephant garlic, spinach, purple kale, collards, Swiss chard, and spring onions. I have to admit, having a huge box of fresh produce delivered to our front door by a smiling face like this was pretty darn awesome:


Upon opening the box, it was filled to the brim with huge and hearty greens — then nervousness set in on how we were going to store and prepare everything over the next week — that is, until Tim got home and got down to business.


He first set aside all of the greens the trimmed down and washed the onions and garlic before placing them in zipper bags to store in our fridge. Once it came time for the greens, he gave each batch a heavy rinse and scrub, then neatly trimmed the stems and leaves again for storing in zipper bags that would stay fresh in the fridge. Taking the time to clean and prep everything like this was great since it's all ready for grab n' go style cooking or eating — no hassle later in the week.

 

So far we've both really enjoyed having so much fresh fruit and vegetables on hand to incorporate into whatever we're cooking — it's been a really great excuse to push ourselves to eat even more healthfully (elephant garlic, anyone?).

A couple recipes Tim's whipped together include variations on this kale salad, this vegetable frittata and this amazingly delicious strawberry bruschetta:


None of these lasted long in our house...

We'd love to hear what your experiences have been with CSA's or local produce delivery services in your area. If you're interested in learning more about The Farm Table box we're getting, learn more on the The Farm Table Facebook, Twitter, Blog, & Pinterest accounts.

P.S. On a related food note, we are SO excited to learn that Richmond's food truck court experiment is out of beta mode and ready for bigtime! Dubbed the RVA Monster Rood Truck Rally, over a dozen of Richmond's food trucks are coming together under the management of GrowRVA every Tuesday and Friday night from 6-9pm right around the corner from us in the parking lot of the Virginia Historical Society! Full scoop here.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sack o' Potatoes: Planting Sweet Potatoes in a Bag

Well folks, last time we left off with our sweet potato growing project, we'd just twisted off the slips from the mother potato and placed them in a shallow dish of water in hopes they'd soon sprout roots of their own — and that is exactly what they did:


The roots began growing from the potato slips almost within 24 hours and what surprised us most was how they shot out from all over the stems of the slips instead of down through the bottom where we'd twisted them off the mother sweet potato.


We let the new root growth get about 1 inch long and then took them on outside to plant.

As for how we planted them — we had to go with an above ground container system since we don't have enough ground space to contain the potatoes or vines. We decided to use one of our large burlap coffee sacks we'd gotten from Blanchard's Coffee, our local source for roasted beans here in RVA, and got to it.


Side Note: You may have seen the laptop case and dog bed for Basil we have also made from our supply of coffee sacks from Blanchard's — love these things.


We filled up the base of the bag with a mixture of loose dirt and organic potting soil — sweet potatoes prefer very loose soil or ground as opposed to packed in dirt. Once filled the bag about 1/3 full we rolled down the sides of the sack to just above the dirt and planted both root slips directly into the soil.


We placed the rooted stems into the dirt and loosely packed soil to the tops of the remaining leaves. As the slips grow into longer vines, we can easily roll up the sides of the sack and fill in more dirt if need be. Btw, that's our supervisor performing quality control up there.


We then gave them a generous watering, placed the bag in a low travel zone in our backyard and crossed our fingers.

From here on out, we'll simply leave them be other than some healthy waterings and possibly adding more dirt as the vines grow up. If all goes according to plan, we should see vines forming soon and continuing through the summer into early fall.


Sweet potatoes take a really long time to grow, but we're excited to see if we are able to do it. We hear the actual potatoes don't really start forming until their beautiful purple flowers begin to bud, which could be as long as August. We should be able to harvest these sweet potatoes in early September and also hear the longer you leave them in before the first frost, the larger they will grow. Oh, and by harvest, I mean turn this potato sack over and dump out multiple pounds worth of sweet potatoes!

Should be an interesting adventure from here on out! Keep up with the full sweet potato growing project here.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Weekend Basics

We were thrilled to find our little celery-growing project featured over at theKitchn and are honestly humbled by all the new traffic and followers who've graced us with their presence over the weekend. We were flat out stunned when we saw the post reach the #1 position in theKitchn's top posts list and to each of you that may have found your way here via theKitchn, we welcome you to our little corner of the world and hope you will make yourselves at home.



2 Mary and I were invited to brunch at Stella's for a Virginia Bloggers meetup — we'd been wanting to get over to the new Stella's location since they re-opened and had a great time chatting with familiar and new-to-us faces. Find the full brunch write-up, a photo of yours truly and links to several other awesome VA bloggers on the Virginia is for Bloggers site.


Can we just say the fried dough served for dessert at Stella's was amazing? The best way I can describe it is like a fancy version of funnel cake.

3 Both my parents and Mary's mom paid us visits and brought beautiful plants with them — do they know us or what? My parents brought us this incredibly beautiful hanging basket filled with big blooming red geraniums. We hung it up in our back patio area where (as you know) we spend lots of time and just love having something to brighten up the space (yes mom I watered it).


Mary's mom brought us a unique variety of Basil called "Pesto Perpetuo" which is actually a patented organic version that can only be regrafted and sold from Lavender Fields Farm here in Virginia. This farm is actually Central Virginia's largest grower of USDA organic herb and vegetable plants — Mary's mom raved about the place and we're thinking we'll soon need to pay a visit. For now, we transplanted the Basil right into the bed of our front yard since it's beautiful on it's own as a plant and are looking forward to also being able to use it in future recipes.


4 We stopped over by the other house to pick up a few things and check on the plants over there. Our mulberry tree was literally weighted down with mulberries beginning to ripen. We'll try to pay them a visit again before the birds get them so we can bring a basket-full home to cook with.


While at the house, we were able to check on the progress of the garlic we planted last fall and we even dug up a few herb varieties to bring back with us. More on this adventure later.

We had a full weekend, but a quiet one too — Mary's grandmother passed away late in the week last week. She was 100 years old and an extraordinary woman. Mary would like to put together a post honoring her memory once she has time to process it all, so this week we are keeping content light.