Wednesday, July 29, 2015

craft exchange

my bff janine and i used to be craft buddies in college, but now that we live in different states, we don't get to DIY together as much as we used to. we both love getting snail mail, so we decided to do a craft exchange once a month. we both pick one project to make and create two versions, one to keep and one to send off. then, we mail them to each other with some cute stationery. it's a really fun way to stay inspired and actually holds you accountable to work your way through all those pinterest projects you've been saving. so far, we haven't both picked the same craft, but it's something we joke about every month...and probably inevitable. to us, a great craft is easy (no tears or stress) and beautiful. here's a round up of some of the our favorite projects we've made so far:

Friday, July 24, 2015

heirloom tomatoes 101

heirloom tomatoes are everywhere right now: all over pinterest, in all the foodie magazines, and of course, at your local farmer’s market. but what is it about these particular tomatoes that sets them apart from all the others besides their quirky instagramable goodness? i asked swamp rabbit cafe, and they happily gave me a crash course in heirloom tomatoes 101:

whats in a name and where do these guys typically come from?
‘heirloom' refers to old varieties of tomatoes — the ones that were around before hybridization starting blending varieties together. some have been around since late 1800's, and the kind you see at your grocery stores & farmer's markets vary regionally. they're often grown from seeds passed down through families for decades, just like the name implies. 

so, whos growing them around greenville?
lots of people! iszy's heirlooms, mini miracles, greenbrier, limestone farms, and blue moon, just to name a few. plenty of home gardeners, too.

when is heirloom season? 
all summer! they've truly taken it over. some say the season starts as early as the last frost, and some varieties, 'indeterminate' ones, produce all the way to the first frost of winter. ‘determinate' varieties produce a single crop all at once, which gives you the perfect excuse to have a salsa party! 

what makes them so ‘ugly’? that’s a face only a mother (or seasoned eater) could love. 
there's a reason heirlooms are called 'ugly' so affectionately — they lack a mutation quality present in commercial tomatoes which makes them uniform in color (and taste.) because of this, we get to enjoy a full spectrum of tomatoey flavor — sweet, smoky, peppery, tangy — inside all those funky gnarls. 

which leads right into the next question — how do you recommend slicing heirlooms? 
always use a serrated knife, so as not to smush it. trim off the stem and any woody tissue, and remove any insect damage that may be present (and perfectly harmless) on organic varieties. coring it before slicing helps, too. 

does red mean ripe? it seems like there are a million colors and kinds. 
with heirlooms, the feel is a better indicator of ripeness than the color. very green and hard is standard for the unripe, of course, but as heirlooms ripen, they can take on hues of white, purple, red, orange, and yellow. ever seen a white wonder? their flesh streaks with light green, white, and yellow as they ripen. 

heirlooms can be pretty large, how long do they usually keep for?
if you purchase them firm, you've got a couple days to spare. soft ones should be eaten right away, and never refrigerated. it destroys their flavor and makes the texture mealy. once they begin to soften, you've got about 3 days to make it happen. if you end up with too many ripe ones too quickly, make gazpacho! 

what are your favorite ways to serve heirlooms to show off their flavors?
sliced with salt is hard to beat, but varieties of cherry heirlooms can be halved and tossed with watermelon, feta cheese, and fresh mint for a zingy, seriously refreshing salad. bigger guys are at their very best when sliced thinly and layered into a stained glass window of color inside a buttery pie crust, topped with fresh basil, mayonnaise and cheese betwixt the layers...all hail the tomato pie!

a big thank you to the swamp rabbit team for sharing their expertise! and if you don’t make it out to the td saturday market or the tr farmers market tomorrow, swamp rabbit cafe and grocery is having a sale with local heirlooms only $1.99 per pound.

images via swamp rabbit cafe

Monday, July 20, 2015

diy tic tac toe board

now that we’ve had the terminix treatment for a few months, i can tell you that it really has made a huge difference for us this summer. the treatment has opened up a whole new part of our home that we weren’t able to enjoy last year, and it’s even held up to all of the summer thunderstorms we’ve been having lately. despite the downpours, no bugs have reappeared! i usually spend the cooler part of saturday mornings on the front porch with a cup of coffee and a book, and at night when it cools down, justin has been firing up the grill and cooking everything from chicken thighs (our current favorite) to peaches. 

a few years ago, i saw a checkers game at a winery in virginia and thought that was such a cute addition to their patio. and, since you have to wait a little while to get the charcoal on the grill hot, i thought making a board game to pass the time would be fun. the measurements for a checkerboard didn’t quite work with the birch round pieces i was using, so i decided on tic tac toe instead. and it’s funny how something so simple can really bring out your competitive streak. one game usually turns into the best out of three…or five. read on to make your own rustic board game below:

here’s what you’ll need:
wood slab
birch rounds
paint brushes
3 paints of your choice
paint pen

i found everything at michael’s, but if you need additional rounds or boards or maybe a different type of wood, i would check etsy. first, paint your grid onto the wood slab. i didn’t worry about my lines being perfectly straight and drew mine freehand to make it more playful. if you’re a perfectionist, you might want to dig up a ruler.

next, paint your birch rounds. you'll only need 10 pieces, five for each color, but i went ahead and painted them all for two sets.

once your rounds are dry, use the paint pen to mark an ‘x’ and an ‘o’ on every piece, that way players can choose their colors (i tried doing this with the white paint and a brush at first, but preferred the fine tip of the paint pen.)

wait for everything to dry, then find an opponent!

this board is so easy to put together. i feel like it would make a great hostess gift with a bottle of wine if someone you know is throwing a summer dinner party, or it would be a cute craft to make with kids. do you have a favorite game for the summer – cornhole, cards? i’d love to hear! and for more summer entertaining tips courtesy of terminix, click here

all thoughts and opinions are my own. thank you for supporting the sponsors who make this blog possible!