Sunday, October 30, 2011

vintage industrial lighting

I have a new fetish. Though I've always loved vintage industrial light fixtures, now that I actually have one in my home my admiration has reached a whole new level.

We recently purchased a pendant from Junkyard Lighting made from a vintage collapsable wire egg basket with an Edison-inspired bulb. I am in love....and how appropriate for us that it was made from an old wire egg basket!

I've been browsing the web and found a few flush mount fixtures with wire cages and Edison light bulbs to replace our ceiling fans in the kitchens. Pinterest is another great site for inspiration.

Here are some images from Pinterest to wet your appetite:

If you didn't notice in the above photos, I painted the backs of the hutch a gray-blue. I think it makes the dishes in it really pop!

It am really liking the effect!  What do you think?  Anyone else adore vintage industrial lighting and do you think it works in interiors besides industrial lofts or contemporary homes?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Eating from your Garden during the Winter

In trying to prepare our little homestead to be as healthy as possible this winter, I've been pondering how we can continue eating from our garden or at least eating locally grown foods as the months grow colder.

My goal for the fall and winter seasons was to have a well-stocked pantry full of canned and preserved vegetables, dry foodstuffs, and frozen items from which to eat. HA! Well it wasn't too far into autumn when I realized that dream had already burst. With only a few things canned, my pantry shelves looked sad and instead I had to stock up on store-bought items. Such big plans with so little time to accomplish them! However, we did manage to plant some additional veggies to grow during fall including squash and garlic and we still have a few beans and southern peas ripening up every now and then even though it's October already!! In our cold frame we started collards and lettuce plants, and we hope to grow simple greens there throughout the winter.

garlic sprouts shooting up

Our cold filled with collard sprouts and lettuce

So in short, if you are behind on your winter gardening or think that all hope is lost for eating locally, do not despair! Here are some steps you can take to make this goal a reality:

1. If you live in the South like me, you probably still have time to plant and harvest fast-growing vegetables such as greens, lettuces, radishes, and herbs that can be moved indoors.

2. Additionally, cold-hardy crops such as kale, brussel sprouts, beets, carrots and parsnips, leeks, chard, cabbage and others can tolerate winter-weather temperatures. Some of the plants will be more successful if you offer them some protection or a layer of mulch overtop.

3. Shop at local farmer's makets until they close for the season. You'll still be eating locally and be able to sample fall squashes and root vegetables, onions, and potatoes, all of which you may be able to buy in bulk, cure and store in a cool place on your own during the winter.

4. Process farmer's market produce to add to your stock of preserves. Not only will you become more experienced in the art of canning, but you will also save money over the winter season by planning your meals around what's already in your pantry!

5. Get a head start on planning for early spring gardening. Go ahead and plan your seed orders, layout, and which vegetables you will plant where and when according to your temperature zones. Some early spring greens and spring onions can be planted as early as February, especially if you have a cold frame where you can start the seeds and later transfer them to the ground.

It's always best to eat locally and seasonally if you can. A wonderful book on this topic that I've enjoyed reading recently is Barbara Kingsolver's, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. So to encourage you in the journey to eating seasonal, local foods, I'll leave you with a hearty, delicious fall recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart Living:

Roasted Parsnip and Leek Bread Pudding

1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
Olive oil, for drizzling
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp unsalted butter, plus 3 tbsp melted, plus more for dish
2 large leeks, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced and rinsed
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
2 cups heavy cream
5 large eggs
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 loaf brioche, crust removed and bread cut into 1 inch cubes

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Drizzle parsnips with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Arrange on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast, until caramelized and tender 20-25 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees. Heat 2 tbsp butter over medium heat in saute pan until melted. Add leeks, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5-10 minutes. Add wine, let simmer until reduced, a few minutes. Add thyme, and remove from heat. Stir in roasted parsnips. Whisk together melted butter, heavy cream, eggs, and 3/4 cup Parmesan in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add leek-parsnip mixture, then fold in bread. Butter 2 quart a baking dish, and pour parsnip mixture into dish. Cover loosely with foil and bake until golden brown and puffed, 50 minutes. Remove foil and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan, return to oven. Bake for 10 minutes more. 

We made this a few weeks ago and it was a tasty reminder that Autumn is here and winter is just around the corner. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Going solar in your historic home?

Are you curious about the use of solar panels on historic homes or historic properties in general? For some time this has been a contested issue between preservationists and members of the green community. Most preservationists certainly are not against the use of solar panels for producing energy to power a historic building, but do have valid concerns with how it might affect the a historic property's character. Additionally, solar panels may not be permissible according to a local district's design guidelines.

There are many ways to effectively place and install solar panels in a manner that does not adversely impact a building's integrity or historic character while at the same time remaining viable and efficient for conducting energy. For example, a historic property with a flat roof or parapet roof may be an ideal candidate for solar panels due to the low visibility from most vantage points. If a historic property happens to have a gabled or hipped roof, as is the case with many historic homes, a compromise can be achieved by sighting the panels on the least visually obtrusive elevation; many times this occurs at the rear of a building.

However, other times low or no visibility of solar panels just isn't an option for high energy rewards from solar power. In some cases, we preservationists must cringe and let this one go if we want our historic building stock to be recycled and meet current consumer's demands. This was the case for the owners of a historic home in one of Michigan's historic districts who embarked on a total green renovation of their home, resulting in the first net zero green home rehabilitation in a historic district. Read about and view photos of their story here. The couple's use of solar panels on their gabled roof sheltering a century-old home is quite bold and unusual for a historic district (even more unusual that the commission allowed this type of placement), but their decision to restore and weatherstrip the original windows, making them more energy efficient with compatible storm windows, makes my little preservation heart smile.

Image via Natural Home and Garden

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory recently released a report on "Implementing Solar PV Projects on Historic Buildings and in Historic Districts." The report offers a wealth of information on solar energy and historic properties, and I encourage you to study it if you are a historic homeowner and also interested in solar power.

Additionally, the National Trust for Historic Preservation published a great article on utilizing solar energy for historic properties. If you are interested in reading, click here.

Monday, October 10, 2011

News from the Chicken Pen

The chickens are growing up like weeds.  Well, all of them except Rosemary, I guess.  She has actually lost weight and her legs have turned pale. I've been told that the pale legs are nothing to worry about, that it means she's a good layer.  It must be true because last week she laid a MONSTER egg that looked like this:

Pictured below is Rosemary's whopper egg next to her regular sized eggs. Poor thing must have needed an ice pack after laying that one!  Or better yet, she probably needed a c-section!

the monster egg turned out to be a double-yoker

Below are some fun pics that give you a sense of how much they are growing up. Tansy (the one and only pullet we kept) is nearly full grown and her brothers are in that awkward-but-getting-handsomer adolescent stage.  Believe it or not, the boys will actually grow quite a bit larger.  Standard Dominique roosters seem HUGE compared to the Dom hens.

This is Tansy, one of our pullets we kept out of Rosemary's hatch from April. She is now bigger than her mama!

The BFF's: Coriander and Clove. They are always together- such beautiful boys. Clove
especially loves to cuddle with his mommy-ha!

Rosemary is always up in our face- the first one to be in line for treats. The others dare not cross her. 

foraging for bugs

the chickens curiously creep up the steps to the back door in search of goodies to eat

"Reggie" is growing more handsome every day and is exhibiting behavior much like his father, "Mr. Rue."  Reggie finds food for the ladies, calls them over and proudly shows them his skills in foraging by presenting the girls with a tasty bug or worm.  Reggie is also a good protector and he has been doing his little "dominance dance" to the other
roosters, lest they forget who the alpha roo is. 

I hope to introduce some new hens to our flock very soon- preferably some lovely Dominique ladies and perhaps a few Partridge Rocks for Clove (he needs some friends).  Stay tuned!

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fall Roasted Vegetable Pizza

For the past three or four years now every time autumn rolls around I get a craving for this Martha Stewart recipe. It combines wonderful fall veggies in the convenience and deliciousness of a pizza. Feel free to add your favorite winter squashes such as butternut or acorn squash and substitute veggies as you like. New potatoes are also an option for this pizza, something I normally don't include on mine.

First, you will need to roast the vegetables. You will need:

- 3 or 4 large carrots, sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, quartered or chopped
- medium red onion, sliced or chopped
- peeled and cubed butternut squash or other winter squash
- sliced new potatoes (optional)
- olive oil
- fresh or dried rosemary
- fresh thyme
- salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Combine all chopped vegetables together on large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and mix vegetables so all are coated with oil. Roast vegetables for 25-30 minutes or until tender.

Fall Roasted Vegetable Pizza Ingredients:

- olive oil
- 1 pound homemade or store bought pizza dough
- about 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 6 cups of fall roasted vegetables (see above)
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
- salt and fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Grease large baking sheet or brush with oil. On a lightly floured surface, roll and stretch dough and transfer to baking sheet. Sprinkle dough with half the mozzarella. Scatter vegetables on top, and dollop with ricotta; sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and rosemary. Drizzle with olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Bake until bubbling and golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve hot.

This recipe is great as a meal on its own, but can also make a tasty appetizer for a dinner party or group gathering in the fall. Enjoy!