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Friday Favorite: Barter is Better

May 16th, 2014

I love bartering, it’s so nice to be able to trade things you produce or no longer want for things you need or want. A few months ago I stumbled on Erin Flett’s Etsy store and fell in love with her hen print. Into my favorites it went and I went to Facebook to like her page.
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She’s a Maine artist that focuses on sourcing all of her raw materials from companies in the United States, now that’s the kind of art/products I like. Fast forward a month or two and she posted about a new light she got for her studio which just happened to be like a few lights that were in this house when we arrived.
erin flett
I messaged her to see if she was interested in a few more, which she was. A deal was made, I took four lovely vintage white globe lights of varying sizes down to her studio near Portland and she gave me a host of lovelies, including the hen print that I loved so much, which is being printed soon.
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I now have four lovely oversized kitchen towels with hens and roosters, perfect for my love of all things fowl.
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She also insisted that I take a small zippered pouch, which will come in handy for trips to the farmers market. I think it will become my new purse.
erin flett 2 (1)
I also have two small pillows that will be perfect in our guest room on the bed with that quilt that I just finished.
erin flett 1 (1)
Bartering is so great, I have a few other bartering relationships. One is for eggs, I give a local couple eggs in exchange for a credit for cedar lumber when I need it (they have a cedar mill).

Do you ever barter? What product or item do you produce that would be a good barter item for you?

Small Farm Food

May 3rd, 2014

If you’ve been reading here long you know I’m a big advocate of local and small farm food. Just because I try to eat locally doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy food from afar. Growing up in Colombia gave me a taste for all things tropical. Just like the rest of the food in my diet I source my tropical goodies from small farms as well. We live in a day and age that makes that very easy.
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Yesterday I received a beautiful box of avocados from Fairview Orchards in California. I received 18 beautiful avocados, wonderfully fresh. They were picked Monday and arrived at my place on Friday morning (they were supposed to arrive Wed, but the USPS 2-day Priority isn’t what it used to be).
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I’m super excited to be able to eat avocados till my heart’s content. They’ll be on the menu every morning with eggs (one of our favorite ways to enjoy them). No doubt some of them will be mashed, mixed with lemon juice and frozen for future enjoyment and I might even get crazy and make a batch of that avocado ice cream I’ve heard so much about. If you’re looking for sources of small farm favorites, check LocalHarvest.org, they are a great resource for all things local and small farm.

What’s your favorite fruit/vegetable from afar that’s not local to your area?  

Building Our Communities Through Food

February 23rd, 2014

We can feed our hunger for connection by eating seasonally and also by buying directly from small farmers at the farmer’s market. Forming relationships with the people who grow our food, and taking up opportunities to visit their farms, is a healing practice. It is important for the farmers as well. The majority of small farmers are not in it for the money – farming is no longer lucrative. They do it because they have a love of independence, because they love working with the land, and often because they believe in building a food system that is based on relationship. They get immense satisfaction when their customers take an interest in their farming practices and in how and why they grow their produce.

Jessica Prentice – Full Moon Feast: Food and the Hunger for Connection
farmers market
As I was at the farmers market on Friday morning I was thinking about why buying local is so important to me. It’s about a lot of different things, including health, but most importantly, it’s about directly supporting small farmers and producers in my community.
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The truth is that many things I buy at the market could be grown in my garden, now that I have more than enough space, but I want to invest in the local food web not just for myself, but for others who can’t grow their own. I want to get to know the person nurturing the chickens that produce the meat I purchase for our cats and dogs. I want to chat with the lady who makes the cheese.  It’s very important to me to encourage those that have taken on the burden of growing good healthy food for those in their community even before they had customers to purchase them.
Belfast Farmers Market 5
Waterville market 4
Belfast Farmers Market 3
Personally, I believe we’re heading down a dangerous path with our food in this country. Far too many people are expecting the government to draft legislation for the changes they want to see happen with the food system. What it really takes to spur change is for people to put their money where their convictions. We’ve chosen to invest in our community and it’s good to know that there are others out there like us. I know that should anything ever happen the folks at the local farm will continue providing milk for those of us who purchase from them. We won’t have to worry about not having cash to pay for it. They in turn know that if they ever need our help, we’re willing to step up as well. This is what community is all about and I’m certainly happy that we embarked on this road a few years ago, it certainly has been rewarding!

Are there any changes you’ve made in your life over the past couple years that you’re starting to see the rewards from?

Apple Picking

October 1st, 2013

Yesterday morning I went apple picking with my neighbor. It was a cute little local place, with a beautiful old barn and old apple trees of all varieties (Bailey’s Orchard in Whitestown). For me, apples signify fall. Mr Chiots LOVES apples and apple cider, he’s in seventh heaven during the fall!
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I didn’t pick any for myself, we have a few apple trees in the garden that are loaded with apples. A gallon of cider and a few small baskets of pears did make it home with me though. I’m hoping to pick a few baskets of apples today to get started on making some applesauce and apple butter for Mr Chiots.

Do you have a favorite variety of apple?

Admitting Defeat

September 14th, 2013

This is one of only a few peppers that I have on my plants in the garden.  I knew my pepper harvest would be low due to the location of the pepper plants.  Then the ducks decided that pepper plants were super tasty and my hopes of harvesting even a half bushel of peppers from my garden were dashed.  I have been harvesting a few green peppers and other hot peppers for the past month, but I do not have enough to make roasted red peppers for the pantry.  I don’t do a lot of canning of garden produce, but I do love to have a few jars of roasted red peppers in the cupboard.  They’re so much cheaper than buying them at the store, and you can customize them with white wine vinegar, homegrown garlic, and a really good olive oil.  I even use the brine to make salad dressing. (“>here’s my post about making them, including the recipe)
peppers 1
Yesterday, I purchased a load of peppers at the Belfast Farmers Market to preserve.  Next week I hope to buy more, along with some jalapeños (which I preserve in the same manner and dehydrate as well).
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I also purchased a box of tomatoes since mine are taking they’re time ripening up. Roasted tomato passatta is something I don’t want my pantry to be without as well. I must admit, I’m thankful to live in an area where there are loads of farmers growing all kinds of wonderful organic produce. It comes in handy when my crop doesn’t do well.

Have you had any crops that have done less than stellar this season?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.

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