Good Fire, Good Marriage, Free Download

I was going through some old design work recently, and came across a very simple piece I made with the intention of hanging it in my house. Despite the fact I have yet to print this off, or indeed hang any art of any kind in my house, I still love it. The work is a quote by Marnie Reed Crowell, discussing the merits of how a good marriage is like a good fire. Considering we only heat our house with wood, it seemed fitting. I thought you guys might appreciate this as well as a free download. As always, this is for personal use only and not for resale in anyway. I want to make a note that the fire emblem on this was an image that came from somewhere which I then turned into a vector file. I made this so long ago though I cannot for the life of me find where it was from. If you stumble across it, please let me know so I can give proper credit!

To download simply click on the image, and then right click and choose “save image as”. That’s it!

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Have a happy Tuesday! I’ll be back next week with some around the house updates.

xo,

Heather

 

Oatmeal Truffles {Vegan Friendly}

I used to be terrified of failure. Then it hit me that failure is the only way to learn, and that at least I tried and can say I gave it my all. I still struggle with it sometimes, but this acceptance of failure has led me to do some pretty ridiculous things that sometimes work out, and sometimes don’t. Like, starting my own handmade soap company because why not (worked out), and building a super classy potato box last year just to see if they were any good (sort of worked out, but decided against one for 2014 since we’re trying a new method).

One of the places I’ve learned to accept and love failure is in the kitchen. Love might be a strong word, but I love that it forces me to just go for it, experiment, try something new, and learn from it when it dies in a blaze of glory and curses. It’s a growing opportunity. Sometimes things succeed exceptionally well which of course makes me feel like I could win “Worst Cooks Ever” on the Food Network, and sometimes—just sometimes—the happy accident happens. Which is, of course, my very favorite thing to happen in the kitchen because it means you end up with something better than you intended. That’s a straight up win in my book.

Oatmeal Truffles (1)This weekend I had a happy accident which started with the following train of thought, all in about 2 minutes.

“I can make granola. I bet I can make granola bars.”

“Ohh, what if I made chewy granola bars?”

“How on earth do you make chewy granola bars?”

“Where’s my phone?”

“Oh, that’s how you make them? Wait, this ones different. So is this one.”

“I’ll wing it. What’s the worst that can happen? I’ll bake whatever happens into granola clusters or something.”

That, my friends, is how delicious Oatmeal Truffles were born. You are welcome.

The granola bars were on par to be pretty delicious, but I must have added too much agave or not enough coconut oil or something. They were just a little too sticky and drooped in bar form. I started squeezing the bar to see if it was just a compression thing. As I did that, I ended up with a ball. At that point I genuinely did not care that I didn’t have granola bars anymore.

Oatmeal Truffles (2)This is where, in happy accident land, a light bulb went off. I ran into the pantry and grabbed my raw cocoa powder and shredded coconut while I completely and blissfully forgot about any granola bars that might have been in another space and time.

Oatmeal Truffles (5)You get where this is going, right?

Oatmeal Truffles (6) Oatmeal Truffles (7) Oatmeal Truffles (8) Oatmeal Truffles (9)I even put my fancy pants on and did a single line of chocolate around while leaving the ends plain. Then I ate it immediately after taking a picture.

Oatmeal Truffles (10)I’ve got to tell you guys something. These are delicious and surprisingly filling. They taste like no-bake cookies but without the butter/dairy. I ended up deciding the best combination was a mix of chocolate and coconut together, which you can see below. One other happy accident I found, but isn’t pictured here, is that if after you coat the balls in chocolate you can keep rolling them in your hands and the chocolate absorbs into the peanut butter oils and makes a nice non-powdery coating.

Oatmeal Truffles (1)At the end of the day, I’m pretty excited I didn’t end up with granola bars. These are so darn good. I’m going to wing giving you guys a recipe just like I winged these. Pretty much once your mixture can easily hold together in ball form you’re good to go. Remember one tip though, it’s kind of a compressing into a ball motion versus a quick roll to make it all stick. These are vegan-friendly and even raw-vegan-friendly if you use raw nut butter! I think what I like most about these is that they are not overly sweet. I’m not huge on sugary sweet desserts and these fit the bill. It’s also pretty easy to be satisfied with one or two, since they’re very dense and filling.

I know these won’t save the world, but happy, not hangry, people make good decisions and express kindness to others. That’s got to count for something, right?

Oatmeal Truffles
A delicious happy accident that tastes somewhat like a no-bake cookie, and is vegan-friendly and raw-vegan friendly (if you use raw nut butter).
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Mixture
  1. 3 cups thick cut oats
  2. 1/4 cup agave nectar
  3. 1 cup peanut butter
  4. 1/4 cup coconut oil (I'm not sure this is definitely needed, experiment!)
  5. 1/8 - 1/4 cup dried blueberries
  6. Few tablespoons chia seeds
  7. Few tablespoons shredded coconut (I use dried shredded, not moist)
Exterior
  1. Shredded Coconut
  2. Raw Cocoa Powder
  3. Baking Chocolate
  4. Whatever else dried product you want to roll them in
Instructions
  1. If using coconut oil, melt before adding. It helps to add in the peanut butter to the coconut oil to melt everything down before mixing to coat the oats evenly. Add all "mixture" ingredients in a bowl and combine. Set mixture in the fridge to cool for an hour. Test to see if the mixture can hold ball shape by grabbing a small handful and compressing into a ball and then rolling around in your palms. They should hold up pretty solid. If they don't hold add more peanut butter (or play around to see what works best for you).
  2. Once they hold, roll into balls and roll in your mixtures to coat. Place in a single layer and put back in the fridge to fully set up.
  3. Now, eat!
Notes
  1. You want these to be cold when you're working with them. The heat of your hands will begin to melt the peanut butter/coconut oil. If they get too warm just put the mixture back in the fridge to chill again before continuing.
Like A Cup Of Tea http://www.likeacupoftea.com/
xo,

Heather

Don’t Pee In the Pool

Hey, friends. This is just a short post on a rainy Wednesday (which also happens to be my third wedding anniversary). Poignant, because what I’m about to briefly write has to do with my wedding invitations.

kermie invite

Hands down, my mason jar invitation template has been the most popular thing on my blog. For a few years now I’ve also offered this design as a custom edit for sale on Etsy, for those folks who didn’t want to try and alter the template themselves. It’s been cool. I’ve seen a few blogs here and there who have featured it, or a version of it, themselves and they’ve linked back to this blog. Linking back and a virtual high-five to the original designer is totally awesome. Just as cool was when Wedding Chicks told me they wanted to use a version of my design as a free download on their site to which I responded ALL THE YES TO EVERYTHING but in a more professional way. I had used some of their downloads before and it felt good to give back to others. That was indeed the whole point of offering them for free personal use.

Unfortunately, over the last few years, especially in the last year or so with the mason jar everything boom, I’ve seen knock-offs of my design for sale on Etsy. It’s totally disheartening. Artistic expression and inspiration is great. Taking the hardest part of a design and leaving it intact, and changing the easiest part of it, and then turning around and claiming it or implying it as your own hurts. I know I’m not the first, and I certainly won’t be the last.

I really like offering a fully editable design for people who might not be able to afford a really fun wedding invite. I really LOVE hearing how much people like it, and being told how appreciated it is. These thanks are the reason I’m keeping it up.

For those out there though who think it’s cool to take parts of someone else’s design and pass them off as your own, for profit (or not without acknowledgement), it’s just not. I don’t think you’re a bad person. You might be a really nice person who just made a not so great choice. We all don’t make the best choices sometimes and can be jerks. Am I going to take legal action against you? Nope. Am I mad? Eh, not mad per say. I’m just super, incredibly, disappointed.

There is one lesson here: Don’t pee in the pool. It ruins it for everyone.

xo,

Heather

FYI: I am shutting down my Etsy store Dorothy+Lucille, which offered the customization of these invites, on June 1, 2014 (this Sunday). The decision to do this had more to do with reclaiming my time than anything else. The free invites will still be offered for now at the link above. I’ll also still have my store Green Barn Soaps, which will be reopening in July.

Let The 2014 Garden Begin

Hey, friends! I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend and aren’t too hung over/tired/burnt this morning! We stayed home this Memorial Day weekend but have started and done so much. Renovations are back in the swing, and so of course is the garden. Speaking of the garden, I realized I’ve barely written about it this year!

This past growing season confirmed to me that I really wanted to get serious about growing some of my own seeds. In the past I’ve tried winter sowing, but I had decided it wasn’t for me. After lots of research on different methods I decided I wanted to go with soil blocking. It’s literally what it sounds like, creating blocks of soil and starting seeds in those blocks. There’s a lot of great soil blocking material online so I won’t write a ton about the method, but good places to start are to search “Eliot Coleman soil blocking” and to check out Johnny Seeds, which is where I got my soil blocker. Personally I don’t do mini soil blockers, I stuck with 2″ and then moved up to pots for the items (like tomatoes) that needed to be potted up eventually.

DSC_0380-01First was deciding what we wanted to start from seed, what seeds we wanted to direct sow once it got warm enough, and what started seeds we still wanted to buy from our local green house. I knew hands down we were going to start tomato seeds. I really felt I could grow stronger plants by transplant time, but I also wanted more control over the varieties I grew. Beyond tomatoes I wasn’t positive what I would do. In the end I went with tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, celery, celeriac and tomatillo’s. I’ve yet to see how the cabbage, cauliflower and tomatillo’s do and if they’ll be big enough to transplant anytime soon (pictured above). They also got a bit leggy since I forgot to turn my grow light on for two days. Oops. The celery, celeriac, and tomatoes all have done very well. The broccoli I’m not sure what to think of. It looks okay, but it suffered a little after potting it up. I’m not sure if it will do well once it get into the garden so I’m just crossing my fingers.

DSC_0341-01 DSC_0342-01Outside of soil blocking, we have a lot going on in the garden already. So far we have peas, cylindra beets, red ace beets, peas, garlic, onions, and as of yesterday, eighteen of the twenty-eight tomato plants!

DSC_0347-01 DSC_0350-01 DSC_0353-01 DSC_0355-01 DSC_0356-01We also expanded our asparagus patch with the asparagus I bought at the Fedco Tree Sale. Our patch was about 1 ft. by 2 ft. and it’s now about 4×4 which is a pretty good size. To plant  I first air dried the crowns for about twenty-four hours to get any storage mold dried, built the trenches, laid in the crows and covered with soil. We already have a few sprigs showing up from this year, but we won’t pick them. The second and third year asparagus has been delicious, while we’ve let the one year old asparagus go to seed.

DSC_9684 DSC_9697-01 DSC_9714-01 DSC_9731-01DSC_9694-01DSC_0345-01In the other areas of the yard I decided to transplant the strawberries to go in with the blueberries. I figured the acidic soil would be better, it would keep all of our fruit in one area, and it would allow me to build a 2×40 bed behind one of our stone walls to move our squash into as part of a crop rotation plan. At first I was worried the strawberries weren’t going to make it. Turns out though, weeks later, they are thriving in their new home. I really think the change in soil was perfect for them.

DSC_9701-01 DSC_9705-01DSC_0361-01Beyond strawberries the deer got at our blueberry and raspberries this winter since it was so harsh. I really wasn’t sure our new raspberry vine made it but sure enough, it did! Along with the raspberries, the blueberries and rhubarb are also in bloom. I’ve cropped the rhubarb pretty heavily already, but it’s still going.

DSC_0357-01 DSC_0363-01 DSC_0367-01 DSC_0370-01 DSC_0372-01We also expanded our orchard to include two peach trees and two more apple trees. Andy had the great idea of keeping one of the apple trees by the stone wall where the blueberries, raspberries and strawberries are. While all of them are doing good, the one by the stone wall seems to be doing best. There must be something about the soil around that wall, because everything seems to thrive over there.

DSC_0373-01If it seems like a lot has been going on around here, you’d be right! Thankfully I have my new handy broad fork to thank for a lot of the work in the garden. We originally tilled the entire lot, but as I’ve needed beds I’ve been aerating with the broad fork. Unlike tilling it helps keep the nutrients deep in the soil and also doesn’t expose weed seeds—a big issue we’ve been battling for a while now. This no-engine, no mechanics, simple piece of steel equipment is absolutely my favorite gardening tool I own.

DSC_9689-01In the end, that’s what’s been going on so far! Since spring is a bit behind I decided to wait until next weekend to buy the rest of the seedlings and direct sow most of the plants. I might put in the celery and broccoli this week, but I’ll be playing it by mother-natures ear. It’s a ton to do, but so far, so good.

One last thing, I’ve already been canning! This is our first year with rhubarb growing on our property and I realized it was a use it or lose it moment. Sunday I scoured my Ball Company canning recipe book and found one for Victorian Barbecue Sauce using rhubarb. Over all it’s a really unique sauce and pretty darn tasty. I ended up with four small jars and enough left over to use on the pork tenderloin we had last night for dinner.

10401791_310803725740660_785031501_nBesides all of this, the first week of graduate school is done! Only seven more weeks of this class to go and then an eight-week break until the next session! Thank goodness too, because that will be prime gardening time!

xo,
Heather

 

Growing Challenges

This year has been full of growing challenges, from starting most of our own seeds indoors in late winter, to learning a new technique for starting seeds called soil blocking (I’ll get into this in another post). There has been a growing challenge of another kind too in that I’m going to graduate school!

I’ll be starting in a week from today and I’m really excited to finally be starting this goal I knew I’d always go for. I’m nervous and excited and scared and excited. I know I’m not the best at handling stress but just reminding myself how blessed I am to even have the opportunity to get this degree keeps me humbled and driven. I’m going to be kept pretty busy between this class which is an eight-week intensive course, being in the peak of needing to get the garden going/weeding, etc., starting up summertime house renovations again, and planning my cousins baby shower. With all of that said, I’m still hoping to post here once a week. I’m going to stick to the Tuesday/Thursday schedule and hoping for 10am. Though lets face it, I’ve already blown that with this post. So let’s just say “Tuesday or Thursday, with a hope for Tuesdays.”

The other big thing is that Green Barn Soaps is going on hiatus for the next eight weeks. I will be open again after this class ends in July. I’m not sure I’ll be doing this with each class, but during this next eight week period I really need to take something off my plate and GBS seems like a good fit as it’s slow this time of year.

Finally, if I won’t be able to get a post up or if this schedule needs to change because of other challenges, I will be updating over on my Facebook page which you can get to by clicking here and will likely send out a tweet as well as mention it on an Instagram post (@likeacupoftea). As always I post on Instagram pretty regularly even when my posts here aren’t. Gardening and dog photos are pretty regular. Let’s be honest with each other though. I know you all come for the dogs and I’m guessing that’s why you follow me on Instagram too. I know you guys are suckers for the two yellow dogs. I am too, I can’t blame you.

Cheers to the next eight crazy weeks of my life! Notes of encouragement on here and Instagram will be so incredibly appreciated.

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xo,

Heather