Saturday, May 19, 2012

Inspiration Now

Sorry to be so scarce around the blogosphere lately.  You guessed, it I have been really, really busy!  My newest order of baskets arrived from Morocco a few days ago, and with some preparation, orders are ready to ship starting Monday.  I have also undertaken some rather ambitious projects around the house and garden and had a series of lovely houseguests, which have all kept me away from the blog as well as the computer.  Some publishing projects and styling of farmers markets and a lot of farmers’ booths have needed a lot of my attention as well.  Personally and professionally, I have been going in high gear, and though I have started a handful of blog posts, I don’t seem to be able to finish them lately.

As I look at the product of my efforts, I can’t help but feel that things are moving in the right direction.  Can I show you a little of what I have done?~


There has been a nice circle of energy lately with what I have created and what is inspiring me.  Here for the new Encinitas and established Rancho Santa Fe market, a few rustic French baskets from my personal collection showcase the best of the market each week, at least according to yours truly….I have improved on this concept since this pic was taken, promise to show you soon, but the signage has improved and customers are really responding~


I have a handful of farmers each week now coming to me to ask if I can restyle their booths.  This is a worth a longer post….  but I love it when farmers figure out that natural materials + enticing displays can replace plastic crates + astroturf and = in an increase in sales~ 


Even in Rancho Santa Fe last week, where I sold the garlic for Ben (and bought braids for all of you who asked!), everyone loved the garlic piled up in the vintage crates, with fresh garlic from Sage Mountain on top.  I brought a dozen roasted garlic heads to show and discussed garlic all day, super fun for me~


Among my inspirations, I have to say the tones of lavender and purple are key…see how the garlic in the photo above goes so well with this blooming artichoke from Berumen Farms here at Encinitas~


As well as with the fresh cut lavender from Keys Creek Farm in Valley Center.  Nothing beats the fragrance released by a simple candle surrounded by fresh cut lavender in a large hurricane shade or vase~


I use most of the stems and leaves at this point, until everything dries out.  I have also been selling a lot of custom pillow covers lately using my French dishtowels and custom fillers using 75% down and feather and 25%+ lavender.  I am almost out of lavender buds again…..time to go to France (July) for more….but if you can add any fresh or dried lavender to your pillows this summer, I love it for a little pillow fragrance and a sound sleep….not to mention for a dinner party~


One of the by-products of my booth styling has been a generous supply of free produce.  This 3 litre jar of apricot jam I made this week will last us the winter, I hope, though for now the warm color and fragrance in the kitchen was a warm welcome for guests (who left with smaller jars)~


Natural materials and especially vintage crates are a theme woven throughout all of my recent projects.  My latest love? These vintage 1949 crates, weathered to a lovely blue-grey.  And what a great name for a farm or project, right?~


Yesterday, with great regret, a very old Eucalyptus tree adjacent to our property was cut down as it had become compromised and died.  This tree was documented as being grown by seed and planted by the man who built our home in 1923.  Rather than cry over its demise, I recycled what I could of her into my own garden.  Sitting on top of the hill now I have five of these discs, each 3 feet in diameter and about 6” high.  They weigh a ton, and Monday my gardener Adan and I will figure out how to move them.  Inspiration….most definitely~!


Next to the discs are these pieces, also for me.  These two trunks are less then 3 feet in diameter, but they weigh too much to move as they are.  Another problem to solve~


Meanwhile, I have other projects that need attention.  This are 100 feet of washed burlap sitting on the drive, ready for one last wash and then a press then off to San Diego for an farmer’s order~


And this week, I went to R’s house to help prepare for a garage sale we had today.  In the pile, his very old leather Moroccan pouf which I have long admired, which now has a split in it.  Garage sale?  No way, it’s going to be deconstructed and repaired and may not ever return to his house…haha….


Poufs continue to be hot business.  If you don’t know the Privet House line Chez Target, be sure to check these out…not exactly a bargain at $79 – $159 new~

Privet pouf

I prefer the old tooled leather to the new stuff, what about you?~


With crates or poufs, it’s important to price shop and to know what you like and value, vintage versus new.  Each has a place, for me, but know your prices; $35 for this Privet House crate versus $10+ for the vintage ones, if you can find them~

privet crate

There are other Privet House things I’d snap up if I could find them…how about these double old fashioned glasses, aren’t they cool, and will go great with vintage, right?  Oh, but they are acrylic, so not me, tant pis~

privet hhouse OF

How about you, what is inspiring you now? 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Braided Garlic

One of my favorite photos from my trip to Rome last spring was this one from the Campo dei Fiori market.  I was really happy that upon arriving back in California from France shortly after, Raquel gifted me a beautiful braided garlic similar to these, which I used up in a few months for early summer pesto, roasted garlic and in other meals~


Hard to believe a whole year has gone by, but the annual visit by Ben and his big red school bus says that here, garlic season is officially on.  Ben lives in Idaho with his family, but they also farm a property in Baja. There, with the warmer weather, they are able to plant the garlic just a little earlier in the late fall than we can plant in California, and then return in the spring for two months to harvest and braid it themselves.  While we are still enjoying fresh “green” garlic here, Ben & family arrive with mature garlic braided by his family~


These beautiful tresses d’ail are made with the violet garlic that I love so much, and perfect in any Mediterranean dish, be it Provencal, Spanish or Italian.  I can’t believe here in California there is so much white garlic imported from China (please read the labels!), and of course Gilroy CA is also called the garlic capital of the world, though it seems much of that goes into commercial production for food products.  Here in Southern California my favorite garlic grower is Phil from Sage Mountain, but that won’t be available until later in the summer and Phil tells me that braiding it like this is pretty time consuming~ 


Ben and his family are making their way back to Idaho, selling garlic braids all along the way at various markets, and San Diego is a short two-day stop, yesterday and Encinitas and Sunday at Rancho Santa Fe~


The heads are all good sized, have peak flavor for the next four-six months, and with ten pieces a braid is $6~


Slightly longer 23” braids, fifteen head...$8-10 range~


And the showstopper, 25 heads for $13-15…Louie the Baker bought ten braids (for roasted garlic bread) and the rest went to a small deli owner who sells at the market and will use them for display in his shop~


These are going to be included in an early summer giveaway I am assembling for a blogger friend, so you will soon have the chance to win one of these braids along with a bunch of other really fantastic goodies….In the meantime I bought six braids yesterday and Sunday will be buying a lot more for cooking and gifts. 

I am getting a discount from Ben as I am buying quantity…if you are interested in having me ship a braid it to you, please email me andrea at….yes, I know, surely you can find great garlic braids also in your area, but I like these as they come with a good small farmer story and I can have it before the rest of the dried garlic is in.  Not to mention, the braid looks great in the kitchen!