Friday, July 19, 2013

Favorite Things: Rutgers Wooden Spoons

Coming from a family of artists and craftsmen, many of whom do not think they fall into either category, I have a soft spot for those types of people and the items they produce. If they are local it is even better. So naturally, a local man making stunning wooden kitchen implements won me over immediately.

I met Paul Rutgers at a farmer's market in southern Michigan last summer, when I was working down their for my Master's internship. I decided to forgo all the fresh produce and baked goods I usually bought at the market every week and buy a single, Hickory, long handled spoon. I brought it back to the office after lunch and sat it on my desk where I forced all my co-workers to appreciate it. There was a lot of conversations like this:

Me: Here touch this!
Co-Worker Whyyyy?     (skeptic look)
Me: It's amazing! The wood is actually soft!!
Co-Worker: "Riiiight"    (crazy look)
Me: Just TOUCH it!      (thrusts into co-workers hands)
Co-Worker: Wow! Where did you get this? It IS amazing.

I think that conversation sums it up pretty well. These are among my favorite kitchen tools ever. Properly cared for they will last forever. Nothing, in my mind, is more beautiful than something created by human hands, intended for daily use.

Another was added to my collection by my future in-laws for Christmas last year, a walnut ladle type spoon. The next on my list are a few serving spoons for table use in a variety of wood types.

These spoons remind me daily of quality over quantity and encourage me to keep old traditions alive. From cooking and baking to knitting and quilting to wood working, these spoons encourage me to keep-on-keeping-on, even when these pastimes seem like a lot of work for the payoff. Learn a skill set that will serve you well and lean on others to fill in the gaps. For wooden spoons, I have found someone to go to.

Note: I am not promoting Paul Rutgers products, nor was I asked to. Rather, I am writing to encourage you to look for local craftsmen in your area and buy from them, because they have mastered skills that are fading in a modern world and because it helps reduce the support of the commercial industrial complex. Plus if you compare my spoons to the nicest thing the national big box home store can offer you would be crazy not to pick the ones I bought from this local man. If you don't have a local person pumping out wicked wooden kitchen tools, you can find Paul Rutgers here, and he does mail order.

Thursday, July 18, 2013


In the wedding planning process lots of people are there to keep you accountable.... most of those people want money.  Then, there are family members asking you if you have made phone calls and taken care of minor details that you are trying to pretend that if you ignore them long enough they will go away (the details, not the family members). In my case there is one more person, unexpectedly, that is keeping me on the ball on this project. Every Sunday Father Tom asks "How's your wedding dress going?" Yes, my priest is keeping me accountable for progressing on my wedding dress. Which is a good thing, because lately I've been pretty low motivation on just about everything in life, not just this dress.

Things with this dress have fallen into place and the muslin is done!

The next step is to pull out the $300 worth of lace and silk chiffon in my closet and start the REAL thing (stay tuned for more photo updates).

Thanks Father Tom, the dress is going better than I expected.

Thanks for keeping me accountable.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Patio Heaven

First things first. A big THANK YOU is in order to all of you. Over the weekend the blog hit 1,000 visitors and I am so grateful for each and every one of you who take the time to stop by our homestead while you drink your morning coffee or avoid productivity after your lunch break. Thank you! There is much in store for our urban homestead, so keep dropping in, we love having you!!

Other big news around here is that I finally got around to replacing my laptop! My poor old HP was no longer portable. The hinges had completely broken down and it sat open on the table all of the time, and it also no longer held any battery charge. For as often as I have to pack up my office and head down state to a meeting, that doesn't really cut it for me. I switched over to a MacBook Pro and while I'm in absolute LUURVE… it's been quite a learning curve and I'm still struggling to make it do basic things. So if pictures are missing or it looks like I've turned off my spell check, I'm sorry. It will get better. I promise!

Now, for one of my other loves: my patio garden. At our townhouse we have been provided an 8x8 foot patio. All personal belongings are supposed to be directly on the concrete and plants can be planted on the two side edges.  Once again, we see the theme of limited space. Future Hubby and I set off to the Habitat ReStore a month ago and bought some old oak dresser drawers (there was no dresser, just drawers…. don't fret). Future Hubby reinforced the bottoms, drilled drainage holes and covered them (on the inside) with steel mesh and put some feet on them to lift them off the ground. I covered them in a few coats of 2nd hand exterior paint from the ReStore ($8 for a nearly full gallon of Sherwin Williams exterior paint!).

I filled them with soil…. yes, I had to buy dirt. To a country girl that seems like the dumbest thing I've had to do in years, and also possibly the most surprisingly expensive as well. 

I planted my starters that have been growing on our kitchen table since March and some seeds as well. I put popcorn in the ground to the right and sectioned it off with some spare yarn and bamboo kabob skewers, to spare it from the lawn service's weed-sackers, and we have a garden!! 

This is, hands down, my favorite place in our home right now. Late afternoon often finds me in a lawn chair, with a cold drink sitting on the grill shelf, my bare feet propped up on the planter next to the pumpkins and a book in my lap. As close to heaven as you can get on an 8x8 ft patio in the city. Although, if someone wanted to send a super cushy outdoor chair, I wouldn't turn it down….

Yes, I do see the irony in posting about my love of my patio and garden when we are in the middle of a heatwave in Michigan that prevents me from being able to enjoy sitting out on the patio. By next week I'll be back out there with my iced tea and a good book.... just you wait and see!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

June Reading Rundown

Photo Credit: Book Covers from
Click Image to Enlarge

My Favorite:

As you have probably caught on by now, I love a good memoir and this month was thick with them. 52 Loaves was the fault of much inspired bread baking in our kitchen and Knitting the Threads of Time was a great knitting companion, however American by Choice was my favorite… by a long slide.

When I was commuting 5 hours round trip to grad school three days a week, I fell hard for audiobooks. They really helped pull me through my commute, especially the evening one, usually after dark. I find myself still checking out audiobooks from our local library, which has an amazing selection. American by Choice was one of my audiobooks for June, and is actually read by Craig Ferguson. One thing I dislike about the memoirs of funny people is that they are either terribly depressing and not funny at all or they come across as trying WAY TOO HARD to be funny. This book is neither. Ferguson is honest about struggles but carries his familiar tongue-in-cheek humor all the way through (for another comedian’s funny memoir check out Dawn French’s book). 

Laurie Notaro is also an excellent book if you need a good laugh. Future Hubby hates me reading her books in bed, because I end up laughing so hard I keep him awake.

This month I encourage you to read something funny! It’s summer after all, have some fun with it!

Totals: 41 (10)