A Tribute to Bluegrass

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I want to take this time to toast a long-forgotten American pastime: bluegrass. As I was waiting for my next post inspiration, I realized I was listening to it (specifically, I was listening to the Tillers who are fantastic by the way). Listening to bluegrass just sort of makes you forget all your problems for the moment. The banjo and the fiddle transport you to a familiar yet unknown world. It’s a time that often gets overlooked but is rich in cultural history. I think about the old American West where times were simpler but drought, famine, and disaster was abundant. They needed songs to lift their spirits as we do today.

My taste in music has changed a lot over time, as is the case for most people. I remember as a young girl listening to the Spice Girls and N’Sync (don’t judge me, it was the 90s). Then it was R&B and hip hop during the junior high and early high school years (I realize I’m being very vulnerable with you right now). Later, I began listening to heavier stuff, you know the kind where they scream a lot? From there it mellowed out a lot and I began listening to indie / folk music like the Avett Brothers, Alexi Murdoch, and the Album Leaf to name a few. Now, it’s bluegrass.

I owe my love of bluegrass to Andrew and his talented musician friends who decided to get together and start something different. At first, I was skeptical. So was Andrew for a little while. Like I said, my taste in music has changed dramatically. I never dreamed bluegrass would be at the forefront. I will say I think bluegrass is an acquired taste – like coffee or beer. But after attending numerous practices and show upon show, it began to grow on me.

I know very little about bluegrass and its roots (only because I haven’t yet taken the time to do some research). With my limited knowledge I do know of some big names like Bill Monroe and John Hartford. But nestled here in the Hocking Hills of southeast Ohio, we enjoy local bands, local friends, and local venues.

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I would have to say besides the music, my favorite part to this has been the friendships. Bluegrass brings people together. There’s a certain amount of camaraderie in the crowd when we throw all our preconceived notions aside and dance (or maybe that’s the beer, could be ;))!

Most of all, I like bluegrass because it’s simple. And musically, it’s good listening. None of this vulgar bump and grind stuff and maybe my dog died so I’m going to sing a sad song about it. We’re singing about the good ol’ days, a train going down the tracks, or the hills of Tennessee. It’s simple and it’s wholesome. For a girl who would love nothing more than to be shut up in a cabin with her thoughts and a pen and paper (and maybe a hot tub for added luxury), it works. Bluegrass fits in just fine with the simple life.

If you want to know more about this band I started talking about earlier, they are called the Hocking River String Band. Originating out of the Hocking Hills area, they are excellent musicians who know how to put on a good show! I’ve never danced my hardest with any other band! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know these guys. It starts to feel like a family after a while. You can visit their Facebook page, or search for them on instagram (hockingriverstringband). You can also find their music on iTunes and Spotify!

The Hocking River String Band at the Duck Creek Fall Campout 2014!
The Hocking River String Band at the Duck Creek Fall Campout 2014!

If you live in Ohio and you’re in the Columbus, OH or Athens, OH areas, Hocking River String Band hosts a bluegrass festival in the Hocking Hills. The Duck Creek Log Jam festival is one of the most laid back festivals I’ve been to. Camp out for the weekend and you can expect good music, good food, a relaxing atmosphere, and beer that is always flowing. If you want to know more or want to reserve your spot for the spring campout you can visit their official page.

So here’s to you bluegrass! May you never lose that spark of simplicity and authenticity!

Made from Scratch | Make Your Own Holiday Wreath

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Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you are all prepared for today’s festivities! There’s nothing more warm or comforting than spending quality time with the people we love. Even though I love Thanksgiving, I’m really looking forward to Christmas! And if there’s one thing I despise most during the Christmas season, it’s tacky and fake decorations. There is so much beauty in the natural world and it is just waiting to be discovered. You could pay around $20 for a pre-made wreath that doesn’t look that great anyway, or a couple bucks for a wreath you can make yourself. All you need is a wire or wooden frame, some scissors, and twine. Most of all you need some greenery. Real pine is free and it’s beautiful. The only downside is the needles fall off like crazy after a while. So, if you want your wreath to last until next season, you can do fake pine. You’ll still save money by doing it yourself.

Other than saving money, why would anyone want to make their own wreath? Nobody has time for that. Just go to the store and buy one, right? Well, it’s all about being more connected to our surroundings and appreciating what goes into making a product. Convenience has become our alma mater in the United States, particularly. The truth is someone somewhere had to take the time to make that wreath. And we take their handiwork for granted as we snatch up that product before someone else has the chance to get it. Although I don’t make everything myself, I do try as much as possible to take the load off others.

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The beauty of wreath making is the possibilities of how you want it to look are truly endless! A few weeks ago, I made a simple foraged pine wreath with some dried flowers I stuck in for embellishment. But I knew I wanted to expand on that. This time I did an off-set wreath with blue spruce and holly berries. I also did a wreath with Italian Ruscus I had leftover from my gathering. The only greenery that cost me anything was the Italian Ruscus; everything else was foraged.

Something else kinda cool is hydrangea wreaths. The bunches of hydrangea create a lush and beautiful wreath. Since hydrangea can range from brown to green to pink in color, you may want to spray paint it to give it an even color. Or, you can let it keep its natural color. After that, you can decorate with pine cones or berries if you’d like.

And once you start doing wreaths, you’ll want to do other natural decor too like garlands and swags, and maybe a real Christmas tree instead of a fake one (trust me, that’s all on my list for this season).

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My main point out of all of this (other than to show you pretty wreaths) is to demonstrate that the Christmas season can be less hectic if you choose it to be. Foraging and making things from scratch forces you to slow down. You can’t do this stuff well in a hurry. I know as I was making these, I appreciated the nature God provides and the ability to work with my hands to create something beautiful.

It’s not about being like Martha Stewart as my dad so lovingly puts it (although she does have a lot of good ideas). It’s about getting back to our roots and living how we were meant to live; in touch with our surroundings and working with our hands. We’ve become so desensitized by our modern culture that we no longer appreciate where something came from, how it was made, etc. It’s time to turn the tides on that. You can make a difference just by choosing to make something from scratch instead of buying it from a store.

I hope I gave you some inspiration for your “made from scratch” Christmas! What are some of your favorite wreath designs?

Have a lovely Thanksgiving everyone!

Cheers! – Adele

A Thanksgiving Gathering – Part 1

If you’ve been following along in my blog, you’ll know that I’ve been preparing for a Thanksgiving gathering! Well, it’s over now and I wanted to share with you all how it went! It went surprisingly well!! I only say that because this was my first time hosting a gathering. I did all the cooking, cleaning, styling, decorating, and planning. Let me tell you, it’s not easy but it’s rewarding and fun when you’re around people who care about you!

I did a lot of preparation in advance. The table decor was simple, so I had that out of the way early. I made my own linen napkins which saved me some money too. Flowers of the Good Earth was able to supply me with the florals. I used Italian Ruscus which looked great on a Thanksgiving table! Since my table was simple, I could focus more on other things.

I didn’t grow up in a cooking family, per say. My mom mainly cooked my grandma’s recipes that were handed down to her. When she does cook it is few and far between. I started learning how to cook surprisingly with my boyfriend, Andrew. When we started dating we began cooking a lot of meals together. And my love for cooking grew from there.

I’m not a food connoisseur by any means. That’s why I was mainly stressing over the food. I wanted everything to taste good, I wanted everything to get done on time, and I didn’t want to poison my guests with the turkey! Needless to say, everything got done ahead of schedule, the food tasted great, and we didn’t have to order pizza (a win in my book)!

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For dessert: Pear and Frangipane Tart

 

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The decor and food aside, it’s all about the company of people. That’s why we gather. We gather for the friendships and the conversations – it just happens to be around food! And honestly, all my stressing disappeared when my friends started arriving. It didn’t matter if things didn’t get done on time, or something wasn’t absolutely perfect, they supported this endeavor and that meant the world to me!

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My friend Jon made a sign for my blog!

Menu

Starter

Warm Quinoa Salad with Broccoli and Acorn Squash, Tossed in a Lemon Vinaigrette

Main Dish

Oven Roasted Turkey

Sides

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Wild Mushroom and Brioche Stuffing

Autumn Roasted Root Vegetables (Carrots and Beets)

Dessert

Pear and Frangipane Tart Topped with Brown Sugar and Pine Nuts

 

I hope I gave you some inspiration for your next gathering – whether that’s for Thanksgiving,

Christmas, or any other time of the year! Getting together with friends and people who care about you is what it’s all about. The biggest thing is not to stress too much and do lots of planning ahead of time! You will thank yourself and your guests will enjoy themselves more. Don’t worry if something isn’t absolutely perfect because if you’re with people who care about you, does it really matter anyway? Besides, perfection is not what we’re about.

Unfortunately, I was unable to get a lot of pictures because I was running around doing things. My dear friend Sarah took the majority of the pictures so be on the lookout for part 2! If you want to see all that led up to this, you can check out the archives. I have some tips, DIY tutorials, and general inspiration for you!

Until next time – happy gathering!

A Thanksgiving Gathering: Styling a Simple Table

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If you’ve been following along with my blog, you’ll know that I’ve been doing a series of Thanksgiving posts – tips and tricks to get you prepared for your dinner. It’s all leading up to a gathering I’m hosting which is… this Saturday (oh boy!). You can look through the archives or my latest posts to find the series! This will be the last post of the series until, of course, the gathering! And then I can show you all how it went! I don’t know when I will have time to get the post on the gathering up so I wanted to give you some inspiration on how to style your table before turkey day!

There are so many ways to style a table. Some are elaborate and some are simple. I am more drawn to the simple side. It is easy on your wallet, but looks really elegant and tasteful at the same time. When the decor is simple, we can focus more on the food (and I need to focus on the food!), the people we have over, and the conversations that are born. It also means a poor girl can pull off a fabulous table!

Entertaining is new to me. And I’ll be honest, it’s a little scary. Will the food turn out alright? Will people have a good time? Growing up my parents never really entertained – nothing this elaborate and certainly not for Thanksgiving. It was just the 4 of us, the table filled with food with every inch that could be spared. The house toasty warm from the fireplace and the smell of turkey permeating every room. We walk into the kitchen after what seems like an endless amount of waiting and feast our eyes on the food. So it was about the food and being together. And it is no different now.

Although the table at the gathering won’t look exactly like this, I wanted to give you some idea of what it will look like. I have been inspired by a simple style that a lot of other stylists and bloggers have taken to. I really love the simple greenery going down the center. I think it gives the decor an earthy feel. If you don’t want a swag, you can do flowers in vases if you’d like. Or no florals, it’s up to you! I am using Italian Ruscus for my centerpiece but it would be just as easy to forage some pine too! It also helps that I work at a flower shop so I get a discount!

The candles are elegant and yet simple. Nothing too fancy. The linen napkins I made myself. I folded them, wrapped them in twine, and stuck a piece of greenery in the center. Again, it’s a simple and rustic look and can be achieved at a low cost. Bonus: buy linen when it’s on sale or there’s a big sale going on in the store! At Joann’s I had a 60% off coupon and I got a third yard for half off! If you want to know how to make your own linen napkins too, you can view my post on it here.

Almost everything I either got at a discount, secondhand, or a thrift store. Entertaining simply and on a budget can be done! I can’t wait to show you the actual gathering, but this will have to do for now! I hope this gave you some inspiration for your Thanksgiving gathering! Especially if you want to go simple this year!

Next, I will show you the highlights of the gathering so be sure not to miss that!

How do you decorate for Thanksgiving on a budget? I would love to hear from you!

A Thanksgiving Gathering: Eat Local, Eat Sustainable, Eat Mindful

For those of you who are following along with my blog, you will know that I do a lot of cooking. I find it’s relaxing and connects me to the root of our hunger. Last night my boyfriend Andrew and I were flipping through Netflix. After what seemed like a lifetime of searching for the perfect movie, we settled on a documentary: GMO OMG. A concerned father, Jeremy Seifert, goes on the search for answers to Genetically Modified Organisms. He tells his two boys to put on their “GMO goggles” so they can spot perpetrators. Teaching his kids to be aware, Seifert finds out the problem is much more pervasive than people think. In short, Genetically Modified Organisms are seeds that have been genetically altered to allow plants to be resistant to pesticides and herbicides so weeds and bugs are killed but not the plant itself. Seems great right? Not so fast! Check out this link to learn more about GMOs.

This is not the first documentary done on this issue. Food Inc. is a popular documentary and one of my favorites. And there are many others to delve into the subject. As I watched, the spark of environmentalism was lit in me once again. I have a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Geography and have since pursued my real passion which is writing. But I was compelled and I was angry. I was ready to march on Washington!

Of all the environmental issues out there, food safety is what I’m most passionate about. I realized I had left a critical component out in all my cooking and baking. (Or maybe it’s because I was running so far away from my degree that I wanted to forget it) But I can’t remain blind to the obvious pitfalls of our modern food system. Food and water are most critical to human life. Shouldn’t we care about what we’re putting in our bodies? If anything else, isn’t it a violation of our rights to be genetically altering seeds without our knowledge and with no labeling?

The problem doesn’t just end with the chicken or the cow. Just because you buy local meat or eggs doesn’t mean that animal wasn’t fed GMO corn. And if they are fed GMO corn are they really “all natural??” And that’s where it gets complicated. So it seems you have to go back to the seed. And even that seems excessive. But why?! Why are we remaining silent on our most critical need? I believe we need to push for answers and find out what’s really in our food instead of following the food system blindly. It’s our right and we have to start exercising it.

Okay, I’m off my pulpit now. All this to say, I want to make truly sustainable food a component to my cooking. (And I want to start utilizing this degree somewhat ;)) This Thanksgiving I implore you to dig a little deeper into where your food is coming from. If you’re buying locally sourced meat, ask them, “Are your animals fed with GMO corn?” We have a right to know. If for the sheer novelty of it. People might look at you weird and they might think you’re crazy. You can just say, “I’m doing this for my health, and my sanity.”

I don’t know how to tackle the GMO issue in my shopping just yet. Just like I said earlier, it’s a very pervasive issue that permeates almost the entire food system. It seems I will have to dig a little deeper and get back to you. But GMO aside, I can give you some tips for a more sustainable turkey day!

Buy Local

Where are you getting your bird from? The supermarket (where who knows how they were treated – just watch Food Inc.), or the local farm that raises and slaughters the free range turkeys right there? If you’re in doubt of where to look, check out Eat Wild. Just click on your state, and they have a list of grass fed farms. Find one near you and go talk to the butcher – it’s our most basic right to know where our food is coming from.

Buy In Season

This one is simple but hard all at the same time. We live in a world where we can go to the supermarket and get an orange or some berries right in the middle of winter! But those fruits had to be transported to your area from somewhere where they will actually grow. Do yourself and the planet a service and eat seasonally. Just because they provide you with oranges doesn’t mean you have to eat them (and trust me, you can survive without oranges over the winter). Expand your palette and eat winter and fall fruits and vegetables! You’ll be a connoisseur in no time!

Buy Organic

This one is really up to you because I think the innocence of organic has been polluted. When you go to the store and you see something labeled “organic” or “all-natural,” can you really be sure it is organic? You would have to go back to the source to find out. So to me it’s really about the label – and money. So if it eases your conscience to buy organic, go ahead! If it eases your wallet not to buy organic, I’m not going to get mad at you. The jury is still out on this one in my book.

I sincerely hope that we all dig a little deeper and find out where our food is coming from. Not just for Thanksgiving, but any time of the year. As I keep saying over and over, we have a right to healthy, safe, and sustainable food.

If you want to know more about the documentary, you can view their website here.

If you have any thoughts or comments on these issues I’d love to hear from you! What are you doing for a sustainable turkey day?

A Thanksgiving Gathering: DIY Linen Napkins with Foraged Pine

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Happy saturday everyone! In lieu of my gathering coming up, I thought it appropriate to show you how to make your own napkins! You can use any type of fabric you like, but linen napkins add a sophisticated yet simple look to your table. Add a little sprig of green to your napkins, tie a little bow of twine and you’re all set!

If you’re planning on a simple, cheap gathering it can soon get expensive. Linen particularly is on the pricier end of fabric, and if you buy linen napkins from a store it can start to stack up.

Now I don’t have a sewing machine and my mom’s sewing machine is currently broken SO I had to find an alternative. Though my mom was skeptical, it turns out fabric adhesive works just fine! I think it’s easier than having to worry about needles and thread (especially if you’re not an avid sewer), but if you have a sewing machine handy and you think it’s easier go ahead!

What you need:

– 2 yards of linen fabric
– ruler
– scissors (preferably fabric scissors)
– steam activated fabric adhesive tape
– an iron

Directions:

Cut your fabric into 20.5″ squares. This makes 6 napkins. Start by placing adhesive tape on each corner sticky side down, peel off the top strip, fold the corner over and iron for 10-20 seconds to activate the adhesive.

After you’re done with the corners, do the same thing to each side of the square. After you’re all finished, fold your napkin into a long rectangle (optional: wrap in twine and garnish with a sprig of green).

And that’s it! Pretty simple right?? Gatherings don’t need to be complicated or expensive. You just have to know what you want, and know how you’re going to get it at a reasonable price – even if it means making something yourself.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! What are some of your favorite DIY projects for dinners? I’d love to hear from you!

A Thanksgiving Gathering: Cranberry Sauce

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finished product: cranberry "jelly" sauce

I have to say it was such a joy making this! Growing up my mom always bought the canned cranberry sauce from the store so I never knew anything different. My dad and I being the healthier eaters in the family, were really the only ones to eat it. The tart taste of cranberry sauce was the perfect compliment to an otherwise sweet Thanksgiving meal. And I will always and forever love the jellied kind!

In my quest to make most things from scratch, I realized Cranberry Sauce is super simple to make and can be made plenty ahead of time. Just in time for my Thanksgiving gathering! All you do is prepare the cranberry sauce like normal. Then, pour the sauce into ball jars and let it firm up in the fridge for up to 10 days until you’re ready to serve!

I relished every moment in my kitchen making this. The cranberries bursting with color, yet each one a different shade of red. As the cranberries started to boil, the most heavenly aroma was born. And as it heated up, you could hear the cranberries popping.

– recipe –

Ingredients:

3 12 oz. bags of fresh cranberries (this makes 3 ball jars so however many jars you want is how many bags you need to get)

3 cups water

3 cups sugar

The juice of a whole fresh lemon

Directions:

Combine water, sugar, and lemon in a large stockpot. Stir, and bring to a boil.

Next, add the cranberries and bring back to a boil. Lower the temperature to medium high heat and continue on a soft boil for about 10 min, or until most of the cranberries have opened up.

When the sauce has cooled considerably, blend in a blender or food processor to get a smoother consistency. Pour into ball jars, cover and seal up to 10 days. Just remove whole from the jar when you’re ready to serve!

I hope you enjoyed this simple recipe that your guests will love! The best part is you can make it in advance to take some of the stress off you on turkey day! I am more of a fan of this simple, tart recipe but you can add whatever you like! Some people do an orange instead of a lemon and some add spices to make it even sweeter… it’s up to you!

Be on the lookout for my next post where I’ll show you how to make linen napkins for your Thanksgiving table!