Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Meet your local farmers!



It has begun!! The farmers market season officially opens in Knoxville tomorrow! I hope you all are as excited as I am. I love, love, love our farmers market on Market Square in the heart of our sweet little downtown. In Knoxville you can find the market open on Wednesdays and Saturdays. On Saturdays you will find more than just farmers, you can expect local craftsmen/women and yummy food trucks in addition to our local farmers. Cruze Farms dairy is always around with some yummy ice cream and/or homemade food. If you have not heard of this local dairy, look them up. Cruze farms has received national recognition in the last year. In addition, my favorite food truck in town, Savory and Sweet is always there. Oh man, I am so pumped.

In addition to the opportunity to buy local many farmers will also have CSAs to sign up for at the market.

CSA stands for Community-Supported Agriculture. Farmers will gather a set amount of produce, and some farms may even include items like local eggs or meat, and either provide a location for pick-up or they will deliver to your home on a schedule set by the farmer (once a week or every two weeks I would guess).

A CSA is a great way to get your farm fresh produce without visiting the market every week. This is especially helpful in the summer months when weekend travel is on the horizon.

Other Local TN markets:
Memphis: The market starts May 4th and operates every Saturday at  Central Station, S. Front Street at GE Patterson in the Historic South Main District, Downtown Memphis.Nashville: The market is open  362 days a year and also has a number of ethnic restaurants to enjoy at 900 Rosa L Parks BlvdChattanooga:  The market is open every Wednesday from 4-6pm at 325 East Main Street DowntownJohnson City: The market is every Wednesday and Saturday at 500 South Roan Street

Get out and enjoy your local produce this summer and meet your farmers! 

-Alison

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Monday Blues

The Monday Blues






Don't let those Monday blues get you down. Let it perk you up and calm you down. It's not a world wide favorite color for nothin'. -Laurie

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Baby Announcements by Fanciful Ink!





I have partnered with Alison to create ready-made baby announcements for her clients to add on to their package. Pardon my silly "girl names" on these designs, but they are completely customizable and ready for your sweet little lady. Boy designs are coming soon! If you would like to customize an announcement or schedule a newborn photoshoot with Alison in the state of Tennessee, please contact us at fancifulink@gmail.com or comment below!
-Laurie




Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April Showers: Before & After Desk Area




When you merge house stuff with your spouse, things that you may not prefer to have creep into your home. However, thus is life when you create a home together. My husband set up his desk with his PC computer in our home office area but we decided with a laptop and an iPad, we don't really need the third computer. So his desk area, where the bills get paid and the finances get controlled, has transformed a little bit. With the computer gone, I added a few manlier knickknacks and found a faux chalkboard from Staples along with little cork board strips. I didn't want to paint chalkboard directly onto the wall so this alternative was easy stick to the wall. The cork strips were simple as well because it came with adhesive strips and I just lined it up right under the "chalkboard." I love the effect of dark against light on the wall and am glad David has a cute little space that he will actually use now. 

The Before:



The After:







Recent work from Alison McQuain Photography



I have gotten to share some sweet moments with some new little people recently and I thought these sweet bundles might brighten your Wednesday. A little pick me up to make it past this hump day.  There have been lots of sweet girls in my world lately. 

-Alison












Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Pavlova Dessert

My finished pavlova

This Tuesday we thought it was time for something to satisfy that sweet tooth. I thought something light and springy would hit the spot so I choose to make my very first Pavlova. This little meringue wonder is so yummy. I was inspired by a lovely cook and friend of mine, Liz, who brought these to a love day party I hosted last year. Liz made mini pavlovas for our celebration and they were so delicate and yummy. I think I should have had her over to help me make these. I didn’t completely fail, as our welcoming neighbors and taste testers will tell you, but mine were not as lovely or gooey in the center. 

I followed this recipe on food network but I don’t think it was informative enough for a first time meringue maker like myself. I really should have taken my Joy of Cooking cookbook off the shelf and followed that recipe and instruction. Side Note/reminder for myself: while the internet is a lovely cooking tool there is a reason that the Joy of Cooking cookbook has been around forever (as is the same for other cookbooks)...read them more often.

Ok, so feel free to use the recipe above but if you have never made these little beauties I suggest watching the video below. I watched it after making my pavlova and have learned a thing or two. For one, I did not mix my meringue long enough and I may have baked them too long. I guess the good thing about this dessert is that even though mine was not perfect it still satisfied and wowed my test dummies.  This is a dessert well worth trying and learning about.

Get creative with your pavlova toppings too! You could add any kind of tart fruit to offset the sweetness of the meringue. Or even do a jam fruit sauce like the food network recipe calls for. Or my favorite idea Stephanie mentions in the video, lemon curd! I cannot get enough of that stuff. Go forth and make a photo worthy meringue! And then send it to me so I can see how much better you did than me!

-Alison

Ingredients Needed:
4 large (120 grams)egg whites
1 cup (200 grams) superfine (castor)sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch (cornflour)
Topping:
1 cup (240 ml) heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 tablespoons (20 grams) granulated white sugar(or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon purevanilla extract
Fresh fruit - kiwi, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, passion fruit, peaches, pineapple, or other fruit of your choice




Monday, April 22, 2013

Happy Earth Day!




My great aunt built a lasagna garden several years ago and has since had great success with it and super tasty veggies that I sometimes get! My mom is setting forth to make her own lasagna garden and hopefully I will start one as well after our disastrous looking yard gets a makeover this weekend (we hope!). I do not have a green thumb so something simple like this that also uses sustainable products that I can recycle is right up my alley, especially on Earth Day today. I found a step by step process that I had already been informed of by my aunt and created the graphic above for you to pin and save. 
Here is what the website has to say (there are also lots of great tips on the site, check it out!):

Lasagna gardening is a no-dig, no-till organic gardening method that results in rich, fluffy soil with very little work from the gardener. The name "lasagna gardening" has nothing to do with what you'll be growing in this garden. It refers to the method of building the garden, which is, essentially, adding layers of organic materials that will “cook down” over time, resulting in rich, fluffy soil that will help your plants thrive. Also known as “sheet composting,” lasagna gardening is great for the environment, because you're using your yard and kitchen waste and essentially composting it in place to make a new garden.

No Digging Required

One of the best things about lasagna gardening is how easy it is. You don't have to remove existing sod and weeds. You don't have to double dig. In fact, you don't have to work the soil at all. The first layer of your lasagna garden consists of either brown corrugated cardboard or three layers of newspaper laid directly on top of the grass or weeds in the area you've selected for your garden. Wet this layer down to keep everything in place and start the decomposition process. The grass or weeds will break down fairly quickly because they will be smothered by the newspaper or cardboard, as well as by the materials you're going to layer on top of them. This layer also provides a dark, moist area to attract earthworms that will loosen up the soil as they tunnel through it.

Ingredients For A Lasagna Garden

Anything you'd put in a compost pile, you can put into a lasagna garden. The materials you put into the garden will break down, providing nutrient-rich, crumbly soil in which to plant. The following materials are all perfect for lasagna gardens:
  • Grass Clippings
  • Leaves
  • Fruit and Vegetable Scraps
  • Coffee Grounds
  • Tea leaves and tea bags
  • Weeds (if they haven't gone to seed)
  • Manure
  • Compost
  • Seaweed
  • Shredded newspaper or junk mail
  • Pine needles
  • Spent blooms, trimmings from the garden
  • Peat moss
Just as with an edible lasagna, there is some importance to the methods you use to build your lasagna garden. You'll want to alternate layers of “browns” such as fall leaves, shredded newspaper, peat, and pine needles with layers of “greens” such as vegetable scraps, garden trimmings, and grass clippings. In general, you want your "brown” layers to be about twice as deep as your “green” layers, but there's no need to get finicky about this. Just layer browns and greens, and a lasagna garden will result. What you want at the end of your layering process is a two-foot tall layered bed. You'll be amazed at how much this will shrink down in a few short weeks.

When To Make A Lasagna Garden

You can make a lasagna garden at any time of year. Fall is an optimum time for many gardeners because of the amount of organic materials you can get for free thanks to fallen leaves and general yard waste from cleaning up the rest of the yard and garden. You can let the lasagna garden sit and break down all winter. By spring, it will be ready to plant in with a minimum of effort. Also, fall rains and winter snow will keep the materials in your lasagna garden moist, which will help them break down faster.
If you choose to make a lasagna garden in spring or summer, you will need to consider adding more "soil-like" amendments to the bed, such as peat or topsoil, so that you can plant in the garden right away. If you make the bed in spring, layer as many greens and browns as you can, with layers of finished compost, peat, or topsoil interspersed in them. Finish off the entire bed with three or four inches of finished compost or topsoil, and plant. The bed will settle some over the season as the layers underneath decompose.

Planting and Maintaining a Lasagna Garden

When it's time to plant, just dig down into the bed as you would with any other garden. If you used newspaper as your bottom layer, the shovel will most likely go right through, exposing nice, loose soil underneath. If you used cardboard, you may have to cut a hole in it at each spot where you want to plant something.
To maintain the garden, simply add mulch to the top of the bed in the form of straw, grass clippings, bark mulch, or chopped leaves. Once it's established, you will care for a lasagna garden just as you would any other: weed and water when necessary, and plant to your heart's content.

Advantages Of A Lasagna Garden

While you will be maintaining a lasagna garden the same way you would care for any other garden, you will find that caring for a lasagna garden is less work-intensive. You can expect:
  • Few weeds, thanks to the newspaper suppressing them from below and the mulch covering the soil from above.
  • Better water retention, due to the fact that compost (which is what you made by layering all of those materials) holds water better than regular garden soil, especially if your native soil is sandy or deficient in organic matter.
  • Less need for fertilizer, because you planted your garden in almost pure compost, which is very nutrient-rich.
  • Soil that is easy to work: crumbly, loose, and fluffy.
Lasagna gardening is fun, easy, and allows you to make new gardens at a much faster rate than the old double-digging method. Now your only problem will be finding plants to fill all of those new gardens!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Announcing our Paper Pearl final logo!





Faithful readers, after many different versions and color options of our new Paper Pearl logo, we have finally settled on our final one above!
We are about to start on the design process, so I will keep you informed as we go! I can design just about anything but cannot really code or format or make websites function, which is why I turned to Fabulous K for our redesign. Her aesthetic is clean, punchy, colorful and just the right amount of girly (sorry guys)! 
Alison and I are looking forward to the evolution of the blog and have some fun ideas for the future! The blog header will soon change to our new header, which is a variation of the logo.
Happy weekend!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Get out and Festival



This past weekend I enjoyed the Spring weather outdoors with a real cute little nugget and her momma at the Dogwood Arts Festival in Knoxville. I love free events...especially when corn dogs are involved. Corn dogs weren't the only good thing at this festival. There were artisans from across this great state sharing their creations and there is literally something for everyone. This festival in Knoxville has a number of different events so be sure to check it out and find something you would like to attend.

In honor of the festival...I love my dogwood trees.

Spring and early summer are the best times of year for festivals. I guarantee you can find a festival near you that would be right up your alley. Festivals usually provide free opportunities for fun with large or small groups. You will learn a little more about communities near you and maybe even make new friends.

Because Laurie and I both reside in Tennessee I thought I would share some of my favorites or some that I think are must sees. I gathered this information from www.tnvacation.com. They have an exhaustive list. You can also join them on facebook and I’m sure you will be in the know at all times. 





I have lots to say about some of these events as I have been to a few so just let me know if you want any more info. Be sure to research some of the cities the festivals take place in too. You might find other things you want to do while you are there and it may give you even more reason to go. Say you want to go Corvette Crusin in Lynchburg, you might want to visit the Jack Daniels distillery while you are in town. Or say you go hear some blues at the Memphis in May Beale Street Music Festival, you might want to visit the Stacks studio for some music history while you are in town. You could even go to the Secret City Festival and visit the museum I told you about in this old post.

That should be enough festival fun to get you by until the dog days of summer. Get out and enjoy all the excitement near you! I know I will!

-Alison

April Showers + Crafting Hours: It's photo time!





Welcome to my latest rainy day craft! I for real crafted on a rainy Sunday. It was pretty awesome. So was the New Girl episode I watched while crafting. I love some Z.D.

Ok, to my craft. I don’t know about you Fanciful Peeps but when I get the email from Shutterfly telling me I can get 101 free prints in the next three days I am all over that. I love having photos I can hold but I hardly ever think to print any and mostly because Wolf Camera is gone. So sad. As you can imagine I have a few photos laying around without a home...until this past Sunday. Some of them found a great home indeed.

In addition to having a number of photos lying around I also have a large sum of paper left over from wedding invitations from over two years ago! I didn’t want to go searching for the perfect photo album and spend more money than necessary so the idea came to me...scrapbook! But not really! A mini brag book so to speak. I used to hard-core scrapbook in high school and college. I have kind of gotten over it and like more of a minimalist look I guess you could say. The general outcome and purpose of scrapbooking I still love though. The nice thing about this little mini book is that the amount of supplies needed is really minimal. Even if you like to make your own greeting cards you probably have all the supplies you need right in your own home. I bought nothing for this project (well of course I bought these things at some point...).

So I bought this stamping set from Hobby Lobby on sale once. I love it. I hate my handwriting on stuff like this and these little adhesives make life a lot easier. 

Items needed (for a 25 photo book):
16 sheets of 8.5 x 11 paper of your choice (the thicker the longer it lasts) - this will give you extra pages just in case
Accent paper if desired
Photo sticky squares or other photo sticky approved material
Fancy pen, marker or stamps to add captions
Hole punch
Brads or twine or ribbon to bind the book together
Paper cutter or scissors with a steady cutting hand
Ruler if you are using scissors to cut your pages
Beloved photos

Steps for your brag book
  1.  cut your paper in half horizontally
  2.  attached photos as desired
  3.   write or stamp captions
  4.  add accents if desired
  5.   hole punch
  6.   bind
I left a more room below my photos for captions. Make sure to put all your photos toward on edge of the pages so you will have enough room for the binding and your photos won't be a quarter of the way into the bind and out of view.

Could it get any easier?! My thought is that I will make multiple little books and toss them all in a large bowl or basket for a fun conversation piece or fun reminders I can browse through from time to time. My first little book consists of a December NYC weekend adventure with the in-laws. The little book probably took an hour tops from start to finish and I was so glad to reduce the amount of paper on my shelf and the number of loose photos in my basket. Totally worth it guys! Send us a photo of your little brag book! We might share it with others. 

-Alison

P.S. You could get really crafty and cut a hole out of the cover so you can see the first image in the book and you won’t even have to label the book...you will just know and it will be awesome. I’ll let you know if I get that fancy. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Announcement!


Alison and I are proud to bring you our new Paper Pearl logo in its first complete stage! Right now it is just black but will have color applied soon and a little tag combining Fanciful Ink and Alison McQuain Photography! Our website redesign is coming very very soon...so without further ado, here is our logo, designed via Fanciful Ink:


-Laurie

Tasty Tuesday: Spring/Summer Pasta






Life has caught up with me and I have realized not much is left in my pantry to make a meal...that is when I start over and make a plan for the week with groceries. I try to find easy healthy recipes in addition to fail-proof ones. When I need something that I know will be delicious and can guarantee to add to my recipe book, I turn to Skinny Taste. This summer pasta looks so good and fresh with the baby greens and would be a perfect light dinner (and lunch leftovers!) This one is going down in the recipe book for sure. Simple ingredients, fresh and light.





 

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