Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Fabric Design Decisions

This morning I worked on finishing up some designs for an upcoming Spoonflower design competition.  They hold them weekly, each week a different subject/parameter.  I always want to enter, but until now, have only ever been able to finish one design for entry.  I have worked on three different competitions, but time and power outtages have thwarted my other BRILLIANT ;) entries.

The parameters of the one I am working on has a color restricted palette (RGB #a7bb7d and #724b64) and must use geometric shapes.  I started a very basic design and then sort of built it from there, unable to stop myself, since the design is for myself.  Therefore, I have decided to post all of them here and have you all let me know your thoughts on which one I should use for the entry, as you can only enter one design in each weeks competition.

First, a close up of what the dots look like:

Now the different designs, I could have done more on the white background, but I don't seem to like those as much, so I didn't.  Obviously, all these patterns will repeat over and over on the fabric.

Polka Green

Polka Purple

Polka Green with Purple Detail
Polka Purple with Green Detail
Polka Green with White & Purple Detail

Polka Purple with White & Green Detail

Polka White with Green Dots

Polka White with Purple Dots 

Thanks for looking!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Stupid Cute Baby Chicks

Baby chicks in the corner (day after rain)
So our new baby rare chickens are stupid.  Yesterday we had a huge thunderstorm all morning.  These chicks (2 white sultans, 3 blue laced red wyandottes, 3 white cochins, 2 german spitzhaubens) just got moved outside last week as they are just finally around six weeks old.  Because all of the Rainbow Rangers (or Fat Fats as we call them) we are raising for meat haven't been slaughtered yet, the area for them isn't empty yet.  But because they were getting so big we decided to put them with the fat fats rather than keep them inside, all the fat fats left are females and they are pretty slow, so we figured they wouldn't give them too much trouble.

White Sultan - six weeks oldish
So back to the chicks, rather than stay inside their hut during the storm of torrential downpours, they choose to stay outside huddled in a front corner of the run, right at the edge (a dangerous place as predators could try to reach in and get them).  SOAKING wet chicks.  Try as I might to move them into the hut, they just came running back out to the corner in the rain.  I moved a large trashcan in the area near the corner to give them protection near where they apparently wanted to be, but no.  They ran right out of that again to the corner.  Finally, I just gave up and decided if they wanted to be wet, they were going to be.

Apparently, the shower was worth it, cause today, I went down to check on them early in the morning and they are CUTER than ever because of the wash.  Especially the white sultans.  ADORABLE. .. even if they are stupid.
Left to right: German Spitzhauben, Blue Laced Red Wyandotte, White Sultan - all six weeks oldish

The baby chicks crowding each other for no reason.

Pesto Tomato Frittata

Today I awoke to a wondrous thunderstorm and it stayed super rainy and stormy all morning.  So dark in fact, that if felt like night and a most productive night indeed.  Because of the extreme lightning we had all the computers unplugged and tvs off and had to do things in the house!  Oh My!

Frittata before cooked
Started with laundry and actually read some of my magazines, which was thrilling, as that rarely happens.  In doing so, found my recipe for breakfast:  Pesto Tomato Frittata.  Wasn't too sure on it, because I am not known for being the biggest fan of pesto, I want to love it, and try again and again to love it, but I just never do, just too strong or something, can't really describe it.  However, I was tempted by the thought of green eggs and the beautiful tomatoes from the market.  Plus, we still had the mozzarella leftover from last weeks market and pesto in the freezer from last summer.  So I showed Thomas, asked his opinion, saw his look of doubt and plowed forward.

Used hamburg and sicilian buttercup eggs for this, meaning they were small white ones that are fairly rich in flavor, because those chickens don't lay everyday.  Followed the recipe, except instead of mozz on top, I used cheddar cheese curds cause I didn't have any extra mozz and I cooked bacon first and used some of that leftover fat for the pan, rather than all just olive oil as the recipe says.  It was so good I didn't know pesto could be so good.  Definitely a "keeper" recipe.  Truly delicious, highly recommend.

Frittata after cooked
Recipe as I followed:

6 small eggs
1/4 cup basil pesto
coarse salt & pepper
1/2 cup mozzarella
1 tsp olive oil
1 large tomato, thinly sliced
bacon fat
handful of cheese curds

Preheat oven to 425. In a large bowl beat eggs with pesto, 3/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp fresh ground white pepper, 3/4 mozzarella.  In a large nonstick skillet (we have a massive one), heat oil and bacon fat over medium-high.  Add egg mixture and cook, stirring slightly, 1-2 minutes.  Arrange tomatoes in a single layer on top and sprinkle with cheese curds.

Bake until puffed and center is just set, 10-12 minutes (our oven took like 9 minutes).  Let sit 5 minutes, cut into wedges and serve!  (with bacon, yum yum)

On my plate with bacon, yum.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Springtime Farmers Markets

Arya and Thomas at the Sara Hardy Market - May 26, 2012

Sara Hardy Farmer's Market
Sara Hardy Farmer's Market
One of my very very favorite things to do is go to farmer's markets.  I do not say this lightly.  ONE of my VERY FAVORITE things.  

Here in my area, we have a TON.  We have the indoor Mercato market throughout the winter in Traverse City on Saturdays.  We have the spring/summer/fall Sara Hardy Market in Traverse City on Saturdays (the big one).  We have the Suttons Bay Market on Saturdays in SB.  We have the Northport Market on Fridays in Northport, we have the TC market on Wednesday.  And if you were so inclined, even more throughout the area, but I just don't even have the time to make it to them and put up the food I would buy (whimper whimper).

But I am not just obsessed locally, on vacation too.  If we are traveling somewhere, I always research where the farmers markets are there and when, so we can plan our days around them. Cause, there is nothing more fun than exploring new produce and foods that you didn't know existed and there is no faster way to learn about a place and its culture than going to a market and meeting all the people and seeing what they eat.  Plus you can bring home some real treasures of tastiness and memories hold tight better when you use more senses to remember them.  Mmmmmm.

Isadore Farms at the Sara Hardy Market (one of our many friends)
Thomas and Arya at Sara Hardy Farmer's Market - May 26, 2012
Now I am positive doing all this is not because I am weird....it is because markets are amazing.  Every week, you get the rush and excitement of not knowing what new and exciting things you will find.  Every week you anticipate the coming of each vegetables seasons: ramps, radishes, then asparagus, strawberries, peas, cherries, corn, tomatoes, peaches, pumpkins, on and on and on.  The anticipation never ends.  

Super asparagus season at the markets
In addition, you only need a little to get a lot.  Save $50 of your weekly grocery budget to take to market and you will be able to buy bags and bags of produce and goodies.  Save a $100 and you're going to end up with more than you can use in a week, so you can can, freeze or dry some!  It's just awesome.  It's a shopping spree buzz, that you can't feel guilty about, because its food for your goodness.  PLUS, PLUS you're getting to give money to your farmer directly, this is one, why it's cheaper, but two, even selling cheaper they're making way more money selling it directly to you, than if they sold it to a store and you bought it, so DOUBLE WIN!  AND EVEN MORE, many farmer's at the markets are completely organic, but no organic prices, super triple quadrupedal awesomeness!  Oh, and the final bit of awesomeness, okay, maybe not the final bit, but yet another, you get to make new friends and meet the people passionate about the things you're buying from them.  Want to know how it was grown, they know; want to know how to cook it, they know; want to know when it was picked, they know; want to know long it will be in season, they know; want to know what else you could try like it, they know.  I think you get the idea and because they are so passionate and so knowledgeable, they are pretty much  the coolest people you've ever talked to and you just can't wait till next week to talk to them again.

Second Spring Farm - super awesome organics, great lettuce - interesting sidenote, Reid & Allie run this here place and Allie also was one of the midwife assistants who helped bring Arya into the world!

Pretty fogging view driving in to TC to markets this morning
Grand Traverse Bay on the way to markets this morning
So now that I have sucked you into my delicious excitement over markets, I figured I'd share my awesome scores from this morning.  I always wake up super early to get to the markets right when they open, so no one's sold out yet.  You may think this is funny and unlikely, but its not.  This is not a store, if they run out, there is no back room, they're out.  And you would probably be surprised how busy it is, even if you get there right when it starts.  Hopefully, my awesome market bragging will get you out of bed next market and share in some excitement of your own, maybe not at the crack of dawn like me, but at least checking it out! 

This week I spent $80 bucks at the markets: Sara Hardy in TC and Suttons Bay Market.  As you may see from the large amount of fresh local organic food I picked up, I think this is a steal of a deal.  Plus, as far as I'm concerned, this money goes towards my entertainment as well.  This is no grocery store errand, this is fun!

Arya admiring her momma's amazing market selections this week
I bought 15 pounds of asparagus total from two different farms that we like.  You may think this is absurb, but its not.  We love asparagus.  We are now at a point in our organic lifestyles that we really only buy food if it is in season, for multiple reasons, which I can go into some other time, but money is a definite factor.  This means we have an extremely short window to buy asparagus in.  During this time, I flash boil and freeze massive quantities so that we can have it the rest of the year.  Last year, I bought probably at least 70 pounds over the asparagus season, we ran out 2 months before asparagus was back in season.  To me, that's just totally unacceptable : )  So this year I need to buy more and store more, plus, this year, we have Arya who LOVES pureed asparagus, so a whole lot of it is already been used, by making her food and freezing that!

Goodies from the Market
Bought three tomatoes, in season already, because the farm it was from has a hoop house and was a farm that was further south that came UP to our market.  

Bought a large bunch of catnip, it was only a dollar and I figured the cats would love me.  I was right, hadn't even finished unloading all the bags and Simone (my smallest older cat) was already mauling the bag it was sticking out of.

Bought a bunch of awesome looking red beets with greens.  Double punch of goodness, greens and beets.

Bought a bunch of fennel bulbs.  Excited to make some macaroni salad or something this week to utilize that tasty treat.

Two bunches of regular radishes with greens & one bunch of french breakfast, which basically means they are mild and look like fingers.  Double punch again, greens and radish.

My take this week
Thomas was very pleased when he arrived to market and saw that finally his favorite Omish bakers have started coming again.  (the last two weeks they have not been at the market yet)  So he purchased his ritual brownies.  You ask why does he buy brownies, when I make him brownies all the time?  Apparently you have not had these brownies.

Two celariac roots.  These are basically the root of a celery plant, for those left wondering.

Arya enjoying a fresh sprig of asparagus
A loaf of what I call, popcorn elephant ear bread from Pattiserie Amie.  I don't know what it is really called, but my name is descriptive.  It tastes like, an elephant ear, but at the same time fresh buttered popcorn, so in other words, delicious.

A fresh salad mix, of various baby greens and nastursiums.

And finally, numerous seedlings.  This week I got more thyme for the rock garden, parsley, cilantro, dill, an eggplant to go with my others, okra and some weird fancy sumerian pepper plant or some such thing.  It's leaves were purple and it has a fun name, I was intrigued, we will see where it leads us this summer.

So there we have it, I think.  What will I do with it?  Whatever I want, bwhwhahaha.  No really, some I will store, namely the asparagus, much else we will eat this week.  Radishes may get roasted, greens braised, celeriac root will likely become soup, catnip is for the cats, but perhaps I will also explore a catnip tea for the first time as the farmer recommended we try it that way, fennel is probably going to be a macaroni or potato salad as I am craving it, tomatoes, unsure, in a salad or fried with eggs for breakfast probably.  As I progress through using all these goodies, I will try to keep you updated!

I hope I have inspired you a little bit, to head to your nearest market this coming week!  YUM.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Long Time No Blog

Hello All,

I can't even believe it, but apparently I haven't written anything in this here blog for a whopping three years.  How the time flies.  Due to this significant lapse in time and some recent thought about what this blog is for, I have decided a reintroduction and re-purpose of this blog idea is needed.

So here goes.  My name is Laura Cavendish, self-proclaimed Lady Cavendish.  I am the wife of Thomas Cavendish, legal alien from Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, England, born in Great Yarmouth, England.  Last year on September 13th, I became the mother of our first daughter, Arya Althea Cavendish with a planned home birth.  

With my husband, I am the owner, marketing director, designer, customer service representative, scheduler, organizer, accountant and construction assistant for Lord & Lady Construction LLC.  Trying to help others with building projects by giving them quality we stand behind with materials and ideas that can help the planet and ourselves as much as possible.

I also am an adjunct professor at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City, Michigan.  I teach a multitude of classes, varying by semester, but consist of Digital Graphics Design 1 (learning Illustrator and InDesign), Interactive Animation 1 & 2 (learning the beginnings of Flash, Fireworks & Soundtrack) & Time Base Media 1 & 2 (learning the beginnings of Final Cut Pro & filming basics).  I teach these classes in the fall and spring semesters, finally halting my summer semester teachings for the first time this summer, deciding to give myself the extra time necessary to be with Arya, the kitchen and the gardens and animals that I so enjoy. 
I am also the marketing director and designer for All Eyes PC, a private optometry practice in St. Joseph, Michigan, run by my father, Dr. Robert Reed Jr, OD and my mother Mae Thomas Reed.  I help them with brainstorming and developing design ideas and create and complete all of their design work, from start to finish with the printers.

Finally, I operate an online shop at etsy.com, selling my sewing, painting and tasty treat creations with my younger sister, Paula, at www.LadyCavendish.Etsy.com.  Right now it is in desperate need of some new products to sell, but I'm still piled underneath work from all my other jobs to get anything caught up there.

In conjunction with all of those jobs, I am an explorer of the organic lifestyle.  With my family working every day to become closer with our ancestors way of life, knowing where our food comes from, sustaining ourselves and protecting our world for ourselves to live in.  Growing food, making choices, raising animals, doing what I can now, planning for more in the future.

I would not describe myself as some crazy hippie or organic purist.  I am just a normal person, who grew up in the city eating frozen food and Burger King, who moved up north and has slowly become this unknown organic farmer from within.  None of this happened overnight and every day I learn something new that I want to try doing.  My philosophy has always been that our goal should always be to change a little every day for the better.  If you try to do it all at once it becomes too overwhelming and expensive.  I always say, pick one thing, do it till its normal and then pick something else.  Before you know it, its been six years and you have no trash, drink no coffee, eat no fast food, eat all organic and local foods, only when they're in season and you're raising hundreds of animals for meat!  Okay, so maybe not before you know it, but before I knew it, it happened.

So there is me, in very short summary.  I am the writer of this blog for Lord & Lady Construction.  Originally I set this up, intending to have it as a source where we could post new exciting eco-building news and information, as well as some general green and eco-news and information.  Recently, people have been asking if I am keeping a journal or blog of all the goings on here and all the fun, exciting, green developments and projects that we work on and are a part of.  Other than posting short blips on facebook and taking hundreds upon thousands of photos, the answer is essentially no.  I don't particularly feel that my case is very unusual or unique - city girl gone country.  But then I drive by Sams Club, a store I have only set foot in once (because I was forced to go with family, then proceeded to have a reverse claustrophobia attack, which is another story/rant entirely) I see the drones plodding in and out with carts overflowing with toxic goos reminiscent of the movie, Idiocracy, and I wonder, maybe I am very different in my lifestyle choices and opinions.  

I don't know that I can help anyone and I don't know if I can open anyone's eyes and I am by no means an expert on any of the aspects I deal with, but I try and I strive to learn & improve everyday.  And after some encouragement from friends, I have decided that perhaps with this blog, I can start to share some of our experiences across the entire spectrum of our lives, not just with building green, but with everything we do.  If it will help just one person, realize one change in their lives for the better, that would make me very happy.  If this sounds like something you'd be interested in following along with, I look forward to sharing with you.