How to Keep Your Towels Smelling Fresh

Summer in Vermont seems to consist of heat and humidity and that does a job on me personally, but it also doesn’t help dryWhite Vinegar our bathroom towels! It seemed like they never dried on the drying rack and had that permanent wet towel smell. Resorting to swapping out our towels and washing a load every other day was getting old and felt like a waste of water.

We took a mini-vacation to Maryland to see family and stayed with my Aunt and Uncle for a few days. Her towels always smell like lavender and fresh rain, even after four days of use. Exactly what I wish my towels would smell like. I asked her what her secret was. Her answer: vinegar.

She said she does all her towels in their own load once a week. They get washed twice, once with the vinegar to kill bacteria, and then a second time with her regular detergent and softener. This was something her mom taught her to do and she has been doing it for the past thirty years. Seems to work well!

I took her advice and washed our towels first in a HOT water with one cup of white vinegar. After the load had completed its cycle, I put the towels through the wash again with warm water and my Read More…

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Making Basil Pesto

One thing that sure has taken over in the garden this year is basil. I’ve never had such huge basil plants! We’ve been using it on homemade pizzas,making pesto in our pasta sauces, on our grilled chicken, in any salads or pasta salads, and basically anything else we think will work. The time has come though, that there is more than we can eat on a daily basis. That means only one thing….time to make Read More…

Fast Gift Idea – Homemade Soap

I knew I had a casual birthday party on my calendar but it didn’t really hit me until the evening before the party. There I was homemade shea butter soaptrying to rack my brain on what kind of sweet and sentimental, but inexpensive gift I could bring. Nothing too fancy was the understanding to all, and it was a little too short time-wise to be ordering or picking up anything local.

Homemade gifts are always appreciated, especially with this particular person, so I stood in front of our craft cupboard trying to figure out what to make. A package of ArtMinds Shea butter soap melts has been sitting on one shelf for a few months now, a past project that never happened, and I thought…perfect!

While I agree that completely homemade soap would have been amazing, it is a delicate and long process, and quite frankly, I’ve used this product before and I love how it crosses that line between a product that works AND how you can make it quickly but it can be customized. I enjoy the fact that you can be simple or super creative with this product. In the past, I’ve added in dried flowers from my garden, colored the soaps with natural products from the farm, and even added in fun things like sea Read More…

Tomatoes and Potatoes, and Squash, Oh My!

This sure has been an odd year, though now that I say that, I feel like maybe I’ve said that every year! We had a very wet spring and are now in the Sunflowers in the gardenmiddle of a very dry summer. Though, luckily as I write this, we had a rainy day not too long ago and are supposed to get some more rain this week. It sure has been a hot month with temperatures ranging in the high 80s and even a few days in the high 90s. The humidity has been strangely high for a month without a lot of rain.

Some things are doing beyond amazing in the garden while other things that I’ve always had good luck with seem to be struggling. While keeping an eye on our well levels, we’ve been trying to water the vegetable garden every other day and only watered some of the newly spring planted perennials that look like they could use some support.

The yellow summer squash, something that has never really done well for us with spotty growth and dissatisfying taste, has been out of control. In a great way! We’ve never had so much consistency and sweet flavor in our squash let alone the fact that we’ve been picking at least one every other day. Grilled summer squash is one of our favorite summertime side dishes and we have been enjoying this abundance! So easy to do – just slice 1/2 inch thick length-wise and brush on olive oil with Read More…

Easy Orange Marmalade

Even though it is officially summer and the strawberries are in season, I had oranges on my counter thatorange marmalade we weren’t eating and it was a rainy Saturday. Thus, orange marmalade seemed like a good idea. I’m not sure why orange marmalade seems to have such a bad rap. You say marmalade and people always seem to wrinkle up their noses. Personally, I love the tangy, chewy and sweet sticky goodness that makes up a marmalade. Orange isn’t everyone’s favorite flavor, but I find it to be the perfect thing on toast and even to pair with peanut butter on a sandwich.

A friend of mine that also makes her own jellies and jams said she never tried making marmalades because they seem like too much work and they seem fussy. I feel the same way about jellies – all that cooking, stirring and straining! Marmalades may take time in slicing the fruit, but they are quicker to me than Read More…

May News From the Farm

Once again, life has been so busy that I’ve neglected to write to you all. Spring has officially sprung here in Vermont, lilacs arelilacs in full bloom and the irises have started to open. I love all of the spring flowers and have enjoyed bringing a few to work each week. Looking at flowers on my desk always makes me smile!

I felt at first like I had jumped the gun on planting some things in the garden two weeks ago. May has always been a tricky month here in Vermont as you could easily have a frost. Not this year! I could have planted several things in late April as our days and nights have been rather warm. Not complaining though as we have enjoyed keeping our windows open both night and day. Last weekend we planted bean, swiss chard, lettuce, and cucumber seeds. We also put in some healthy looking, locally grown, tomato, summer squash, pepper and herb plants. We are lucky enough to be in an area that hosts quite a few spring plant sales and have picked up some great perennials as well as the veggie plants. They are all doing quite well and I’m looking forward to some early summer veggies.

Pollen is everywhere, thus the frequent use of tissues and allergy meds in our house! My eyes have been so itchy I’ve wanted to scratch them out. Don’t even get me started on the sneezing! A great friend produces local honey so we’ve been diligent in having a spoonful a day to help build up a tolerance in local pollen….something we’ve read about and feel like it does help. Read More…

Chocolate Mug Cake

I’ve never been one for fads or crazes. There is something about everyone going gaga over something that puts me off. I don’t know if it’s because I tend to not follow the crowd or I get sick of hearing  about it or having people tell me I’ll love it and I just “have to” try it. Take Harry Potter for example.  It took me ages to finally pick up the book and read the first one. It was everywhere and I think I just got turned off because of the intense hype. I’m pretty sure it took a few years before I read it, as in the third or even fourth book was out. Of course then I was completely hooked and couldn’t get enough of that series, and joined the pinning fans as we waited for the rest of the books, and then movies,  to be released.

And so it seems I had the same reaction to mug cakes. They have been a big deal for a while now. I’ve just seen that Betty Read More…

Maple Week in Vermont

I don’t know about you, but I have multiple signs of spring. We wait to hear the sound of geese flying back north. I love Mapleland Farmswatching the different song birds at our feeder. Recently we saw an Evening Grosbeak! Mud season is of course a dead ringer for spring. And, a big one, maple week. Maple week means the trees are sensing something deep in their roots all the way to the tips of their branches. Spring is coming and the days are warmer. The nights might still be dipping down into the freezing temperatures, but at least the days are making us feel like we are on our way to spring.

This unfortunately doesn’t mean we are in the clear. We’ve recently had proof of that with a big storm that blew through New England and from what the weather folks are saying, we have another potential Nor’easter on the way. BUT, maple week is officially here in Vermont and that means we are all doing a small victory dance that we made it this far through winter!

Driving around the area, one finds sap buckets nailed to trees, bigger totes or collection tanks along the roads with blue, white and black tubing snaking it’s way through the trees, and steam billowing out from the tops of sugar houses. Sometimes, driving along the back roads, you can just about smell Read More…

Rosemary for Remembrance

I have always struggled to keep my rosemary plants alive over the winter months. Basically it seems a Rosemary plantlost cause to continue to try to winter over that particular plant in the house. I can’t tell if I over-water or they just don’t get the sunlight they need. In the past I’m pretty sure they died due to over-watering. All my other plants seem to enjoy moist soil. Most herbs don’t like to keep their feet wet, but they survive with some even thriving. Rosemary, however, is a very unhappy winter visitor to my home. This year, I kept the water to the minimum. Maybe keeping them a bit too dry?

The plant dried up looking like I left it in the desert. I had been doing so well with it too! This year was “the year” I thought. I usually don’t get this far, with my rosemary plants dying before Christmas. This time, we made it to February. Everything looked okay. Then, the other day I glanced at the plant Read More…

Valentine’s Day Treats

I know, I know, Valentine’s Day is just another “Hallmark” holiday, one that is just there for commercial purposes instead of having any real

Heart-hand pies

Heart-hand pies

significance. In fact, it seems the legend behind the whole Valentine’s Day is murky and filled with speculation of it originating from Catholic saints to pagan fertility festivals. Interestingly, the idea of a “Valentine’s card” goes all the way back to the middle ages.  Even with all this shadowed past and profitable present, I still love Valentine’s Day simply because that means making so many cute crafts and yummy food creations!

We are a household that doesn’t save saying “I love you” for just the one day a year. We do however get a little cute and creative for this holiday because, why not? Why not make a funny card or bake a fabulous cake to celebrate?

One of my all-time favorite Valentine’s Day recipes is our cute-as-a-button heart-hand pies! These are so fun to make as a family and are a delicious way to celebrate!

Another over-the-top Valentine’s Day recipe that we have baked for the past three years is our cranberry pound cake – a great treat with it’s sweet yet sour component. The tart cranberries in the super moist, super buttery pound cake is a huge hit and I am always asked for the Read More…

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