Holy guacamole! How is my garden still producing so many peppers and cherry tomatoes! There has been so much rain this summer that I’ve hardly watered and fully expected my garden to shrivel up by now. What’s a girl to do with such an embarrassment of riches? Well, it’s Tuesday, so I know one of our community food banks is open so I picked what I could, washed my bounty, bagged it, and dropped it off with volunteers at the Elgin Community Cupboard.
Did you know that most local food pantries can accept home-grown produce? Contact them first, but many of your local organizations will gladly accept washed, home-grown produce to offer their clients. Ample Harvest has a Find a Pantry link in the Gardeners Donate Food header in the main menu to help you find a local food bank or soup kitchen that would love to accept your produce and backyard eggs.
Serve this spread with the usual crackers, spread on a sandwich in place of a slice of regular cheddar. I promise it will not disappoint.
Makes 4 Cups (recipe easily halved)
2 cups jalapeño jack, shredded 2 cups sharp cheddar, shredded 1/3 cup chopped pimentos 1/8 cup chopped pickled jalapeños 1/2 cup mayonnaise (Duke’s is my favorite) 1/4 sour cream Juice of 1/2 lemon or lime 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic 1/2 teaspoon granulated onion 1/4 teaspoon cumin 1/2 teaspoon chili powder Pinch of cayenne Pinch of sugar
Combine all ingredients in a standing mixer bowl. Mix thoroughly with the paddle attachment until creamy and the pimentos are well distributed. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving.
Pimento cheese will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about a week.
Pro Tip: While you can certainly use pre-shredded cheese (and I have in a pinch) your spread will be creamier and the shreds less separated if you grate your cheese with a box grater.
Last year I finally got around to filling up this galvanized stock tank pool, and it may have been one of the best things I did all summer.
The water is always cool and the tank is deep enough for the water to reach our shoulders and long enough that we can both sit in it, or I can just float if I want to. I always want to. I love nothing better than jumping in after yard work and then drying off in the warm hammock. We originally set it in the sun and the tank itslelf was too hot to touch after a day in the sun and the water felt like bath water. Not the refreshing dip I’d envisioned. We moved it to the courtyard and found the perfect palce between the pines against our neighbor’s garage.
We decided to keep it simple and not add a pump or chlorine, but we hooked up a hose to the spout to drain the water for the Oak Leaf Hydrangea and trees in our courtyard.
Read this article for tips on setting up a hillbilly soaking tub of your own.
I can’t beleive it’s been a whole year! This weekend She Creates Union participated as a group in the Elgin Art Studio Tour. This time last year Emma and I were hatching an idea for a group for women makers and artists whose sole function was to fully support each member creatively while helping each other navigate branding, social media, marketing, and general business best practices.
While there are groups like BossBabesATX that organize events and meet-ups in Austin, we were interested in forming a more intimate community in our small town just 19 miles east of Austin and the neighboring towns like Paige, Bastrop, amd Lexington. We particpate here in local events and will be expanding our efforts later this year to markets in Austin and Pflugerville.
Since we formed SCU we have participated in one large festival, an art studio tour, and a couple pop-up shops. We meet once a month and talk about things we’ve been thinking about doing, things we’ve done, and generally cheer eachother on.
Whether at our monthly meeting or via our Slack channel, there is always some nudging, sometimes gently, sometimes not, eachother to raise our prices. We generally suck at pricing our work, but we’re getting better.
I recently saw this quote, “You’re priceless, your work is not.” I cannot find where I saw this yet, but wil link when I do.
To say we’ve all learned a lot in the past year would be an understatement. We are constantly investigating and learning as individuals and bringing our acquired knowledge to the group. Sometimes these fact finding misssions look like sitting in a sales tax class, taking an online course, or visiting a craft market or festival. It’s all learning.
Slowly but surely the living room studio is taking shape. I need to think a little on how to best sort and store the million little bits that I use, but I have already been able to jump in and get to work without having to haul everything out of a closet or make room for dinner prep. I love it. I highly recommend carving out your own space to make things if you can. Also, it still is cozy, if not cozier. It is now my favorite room to read, drink coffee, and write my blog posts in the morning before I scoot off to work.
The natural light in this room is perfect all day, bright and golden in the morning and softer as the day rolls on. It’s the perfect place for Olive and I to watch the parade of dogs on walks, neighbors driving their riding mowers to the gas station, and the man on the yellow bike who argues with himself all the time.
No, I’m not running for city council again, but this photo pops up in my feed each May like a bad penny. It reminds me that I once did this super scary thing which was so out of my comfort zone and the rewards are still being counted. Steve and I had been living here less than 2 years (this timeline may be edited later), so this felt crazy.
I was a write-in candidate for my first election… so obviously unplanned and late. As soon as I sent off my application I was struck with fear and called the city secretary to ask about withdrawing my application. She said it was not possible, but that I could run a really bad election if I really didn’t want to win. Excellent advice.
Later that month I was chatting with some people at an art show or potluck and mentioned I wasn’t sure if I was the best person for the job. A local attorney asked me, “Well, are you the worst?”
My reply, “I hope not.”
So I won my first election as a write-in candidate, ran unopposed for my second election, had my drunk neighbor run against me for my third, and had my ass handed to me my fourth run by a candidate who had more cousins than I had votes.
If I can do this, so can you. All I had to do was show up to serve and listen. A lot. In return I realized I was more brave than I’d thought and gained a host of new friends and a whole new community.
I am often reminded of how great it is to live in a small town. Recently I was able to use my neighbors’ oven when my oven would not light and I had 2 dump cakes* to bake for 2 potlucks. This weekend a local shop offered to wrap my print job and place outside their door for me to pick up after hours, with instructions to just push a check through the mail slot or call Monday with a credit card number. Just would not happen in a large city.
I enjoy working in downtown Austin and coming home to the Sausage Capital of Texas every day. It blows my mind that I can spend a lunch hour at an art museum, shopping at a gourmet shop, or eating ramen, and return home where my friends and neighbors are dancing to a band playing at the gazebo in the center of town. The best of both worlds, I feel very lucky. Still.
Down Home Ranch is a nonprofit working farm community for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities located in Elgin, Texas. The ranchers and their extended community are ever present at Elgin’s many annual festivals, monthly Sip, Shop & Stroll events. Locals look forward to their tomatoes, lettuce, jellies, potted plants, eggs, and cards (like the one above), at the Bastrop 1832 Farmers Market.
In addition to their greenhouse operations and plant sales, Down Home Ranch supports an Etsy shop which sells cards featuring original art by ranchers, embroidered tea towels, and engraved travel tumblers. All proceeds support their mission: Empowering the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities through social, educational, residential and vocational opportunities. I visited DHR a few years ago, you can read my post about the experience here.
This week I’ve been knitting and watching Sir Edmond Hilary, Everest and Beyondand making comments about every hand knit sweater that appeared. Steve asked me if this was a thing with knitters, and did we all talk about it online. There usually is quite a bit. I remember we all went crazy when Bletchley Circle aired. I’m surprised to not find a lot of discussion about these knits online, as they are all spectacular.
Food for thought
I’m embarrassed to admit this but we waste a lot of food in my household. And by we, I mean me, because my husband is far less particular about eating deli meat and leftovers that have been in the fridge for 3 days. I was made very aware of this when I was volunteering at our community food pantry and humbled by how happy the clients were to receive a clamshell pack of almost gone strawberries that I would have tossed or thrown in the compost heap. Ahem, the compost heap is one way I rationalize waste.
I’ve recently started utilizing curbside pick-up at my local grocery during the work week. Not only do I believe this is saving us money, but it’s virtually impossible to get distracted by all the lovely berries and fresh greens when I’m adding things to my online shopping cart.
This Real Simple article has great tips for reducing food waste at home. Keeping a “waste audit” is a great idea.
Knitting together community for 11 years
Tomorrow our favorite LYS Yarnorama (that’s local yarn store for the non-knitters) is celebrating 11 years of (insert fiber metaphor here) community in the tiny town of Paige, Texas. Weavers, knitters, spinners, and fiber obsessed have been making the weekly trek from Houston to be part of a community of fiber enthusiasts and friends.
The other night at our She Creates Union meet up, Susan talked about what the community she started has come to mean to her. It’s not my story to tell, so that’s all I say. Perhaps she’ll elaborate herself on her own website. It was lovely, and made us all bit misty.
Everyone who knows Susan and John, knows they have created something very special, and so obviously needed. Susan is a brilliant, patient, talented, and funny woman who nurtures us all in our endeavors to make beautiful things with our hands.
I like to brag that I was her first customer. Susan reached out to me on this blog before she even opened her doors, inviting me to her opening.
Let’s go back in time to read this blog post about my first visit to Yarnorama. I obviously felt that something special was going to happen there. Read the post here