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In a Pickle with too many Veggies? Time to Pickle

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Rainbow carrots & jalapenos and red onions A very long time ago I learned how to make refrigerator pickles. I played around with pickling spice mixtures, then realized I wasn't an enormous fan of pickles.  What I failed to appreciate at the time is that these quick-pickling combos brilliantly work with all kinds of veggies.  Over the last couple of weeks, I've experimented with some veggie mixes thanks to a bounty from the Oak Parker Farmers' Market vendors Prairie Wind Family Farm and Nichols Farm & Orchard .  My extras led to a nice stock of taco toppings and salad additions, including a jalapeno, red onion, and cilantro mix; another with various colorful carrots, yellow onions, and turmeric; and finally a jar of roasted golden beets. I used a simple refrigerator picking mix of water, white vinegar, sugar, and salt. For the beets, I added peppercorns and bay leaves for the initial pickling but removed those for storage.  All are delightful for toppings and salads.

Happy Sticks, Love Rocks, and the Many Ways We're Staying Connected During the Pandemic

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During the coronavirus spread and amid all the fear, I continue to be heartened by the displays of humanity and community by my friends, family, neighbors, and so many around the world. It goes without saying that medical professionals are performing sheer acts of heroism by going to work every day on the front lines of this pandemic crisis. Most of us are following their recommendations and staying out of their way and out of the hospitals.  But being isolated is beyond boring. We are a cultural, communal society. We need connections. So it's no surprise how creative people are when it comes to replicating in-person contact during a period of quarantine and social distancing. My neighborhood block is joining the world for the 8 p.m. standing ovation to recognize the medical and emergency services professionals. One of my neighbors has started adding occasional twists. We sang happy birthday to 16-year-old twins. And last night we tipped our hats to Mr. Rogers and sang

Shoppers Scramble to Add Dried Milk to Pantry Shelf

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U.S.-produced dried milk for export in 1944.  USDA Photo.   As I scrolled through the photos my friends had posted on social media about there prep for self-isolation to slow the spread of the coronavirus, my eyes stopped on one featuring dried goat’s milk. His post with the photo: So...it’s come to this...I now understand why my Grandma and my aunts always had a box of powdered milk on the pantry shelf, though I never understood it as a kid… I laughed because I had stocked up as well. I already had a partial bag on the shelf, but thought I’d add another just in case there was a run on milk or I would have trouble getting to the store for during a possible quarantine order. I shared a recipe to use once the crisis is over and before the milk goes rancid. Then I got curious about how many others have been stocking up. How many? A lot. In the days after President Trump finally acknowledged that COVID-19 concerns were valid, sales of dried milk jumped 126% in the first week

Before There Were Zippers

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Before there were "zippers," there were "slide fasteners." In this vintage package insert, the slide fastener is promoted for its many convenient uses, including jackets, rompers, and darning bags. The date is hard to discern. There is no mention of the word "zipper," which is credited to the B.F. Goodrich Co. in 1923 when it used Talon's improved fastener design for their popular galoshes. I've seen similar packaging for sale online that dates to the late 1920s. This was found in an old sewing basket belonging to someone who probably wouldn't have been using it until the '30s or '40s.

Nursery Class Picture Paper

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While digging through an old buffet drawer, I discovered a leaflet stuck to the bottom. I pulled it out and discovered this super sweet Picture Paper booklet by Louise M. Oglevee.  The 4-page booklets, often used in Sunday School, were popular in the 1930s and 1940s. This one belonged to Sim's great Aunt Margaret. The story is about sunshine and farming.  The only prayer is on the cover, "We thank Thee, heavenly Father, for sending the warm sunshine to make the apples and pumpkins grow." On the last page is a pledge to be a "sunbeam" for mom and to make a happy day.  

Gaudi Inspired Holidays

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La Sagrada Familia 2019 For most of the 22 years that I've been married and even before, when I was living on my own in South Carolina, I have hosted a holiday party.  This is one of my favorite traditions because I get to close out the year by celebrating with our greatest gifts: dear friends, old and new. Embedded within the party tradition are other traditions.  Since 2000, when we read about  Alberto No. 1 in the NYT, we've also had a signature cocktail. In the last few years, we've often had a theme. And almost always, we have party favors.  We threw a Gaudi-in-Barcelona-inspired party this year with tapas. And our featured item was a Jamon leg, mounted for easy carving. We also served Spanish shrimp, Manchego, olives, Spanish chorizo, paella, lots of other finger foods, and, of course, boozy and non-boozy sangria.  This year may be my favorite of the favors.  The favors were ornaments made from tumbled stained glass and wire. The colorful pieces reminde

Fall Bouquet Centerpiece

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Fall is a magical time of year. Just when the heat becomes unbearable, cool breezes start to blow and the treetops blaze with reds, yellows and burnt orange colors.  Some early cold almost robbed me of fall this year. We had snow before the leaves fell. But I was able to rescue a few this season to create my Thanksgiving centerpiece: a bouquet of fall leaf roses. It's an easy project. I like to hunt for colorful leaves, a mix of small and large ones that haven't become brittle. I start with a small one, fold down the leaf points to the center, then roll it up, stopping at the leaf center to place a switch or some sort of stick. I continue rolling with progressively larger leaves. Once I have the rose I'm happy with, I bind the base of the rose and the stem with florists tape. I then finish the rose with a matte or satin finishing spray to keep the color and to keep them from crumbling. It takes between six and 12 leaves to make a rose. Sisters Know Best ha