Mother Earth News Fair Review (Seven Springs, PA 2017)

Mother Earth News Fair Review

(Seven Springs, PA)

2017

mother earth news fair

I can’t believe it was already a week ago (last weekend) that I worked in a vendor booth at the Mother Earth News Fair for the 2nd year. This has become one of my favorite events to work! The first year at the event, I met some wonderful people including the women from Pittsburgh’s “Farm to Table of Western, PA.” Last year, I was amazed at how many vendors participate in this fair.

On a side a note, I’ll explain why I loved this event even more this year!  We all know that life isn’t always pleasant and peachy by any means, it also doesn’t always go as imagined or planned. (This has been especially true for me probably for about the past two years.) Sometimes we get to a point, before we hit a breaking point where we finally have to figure out what brings us any type of happiness… I was outside thinking one day when I thought, what is simple that makes me smile that makes me proud of myself?  Gardening…it’s such a small part of my life, but it was something that I knew that I enjoyed and wanted to learn more about. It all started with me planting small things from time to time, year to year. Nothing crazy, just mosty container gardening. Last year, I started to add a few perennials around the yard. This year, I decided early this summer that I wanted to take a basic gardening class. I was interested in creating a good soil. (Money is always tight, and always seems to be an issue and holds me back from many things. I researched and found a reasonably priced class and decided to register for it.) It was probably one of the best decisions and investments that I have made in a long time! I was so excited to attend! (I was the student that got there early and sat in the front row! A little nerdy, I know, but that’s okay in my book, haha!) This class was wonderful and I looked forward to attending it each week! Sure, you can read, watch YouTube videos, and learn online, but it felt really great and did me a world of good to take an hour for myself a week, with no interruptions, and educate myself in a roomful of individuals with the same interest as me. 

This experience gave me the confidence to expand and fill my backyard with new and old favorites of plant, flower, and vegetable varieties.  I felt that it wasn’t a waste of money because I at least had a little bit more confidence and knowledge now that I could take of care of these plants.  It’s the best feeling waking up, looking out your window and admiring the shapes, colors, and beauty these creations of nature provides us.  Also, there is fun in picking and cooking with your own herbs and vegetables!  It’s a hobby that I love and continue to learn more about!

Now, back to the Mother Earth News Fair Review! (Sorry for the long explanation and venting!) So knowing what I did from attending the event last year, I was kinda in (nerd mode) again and researched the fair weeks in advance. I looked at their website, printed out maps, calendars, and schedules for workshops. I also researched some of the speakers and got my highlighter ready for what I was interested in!

Unfortunately, I did not have time to participate in any of the workshops while working, but the research still paid off because as I took a break on Sunday, I was able to make a beeline and gather information from the booths that I knew I wanted to visit. One thing that I appreciated that Mother Earth Fair did was keep vendors in a similar set up from the year before. That way if you do have limited time, you can make sure that you hit up your favorite booths if you remembered where they were set up from the year before.

Seven Springs was a great location! It was gorgeous up there! The weather cooperated and we had chilly mornings and beautiful days! I would take that drive in the morning any day.  Such a burst of refreshing air, with leaves starting to change colors…Beautiful!!!  The venue was packed with people who varied from locals to visitors from various states. The pictures from the workshops were also filled. If you love gardening and sustainable living, this is one event that I highly suggest you go visit!

There are Mother Earth News Fairs held in Kansas, Texas, North Carolina, and PA. Some of my favorite booths that I visited this year were: Funky Fresh Family Farms, Farm to Table Western, PA, The Gardener’s Workshop, Sow True Seed, Mockingbird Meadows Farm, Metalledwith, The Bookstore, Fruition Seeds, Mother Earth’s Natural Organic Root Cider, (I’m not sure if it was this or the Fire Cider that I had from the Herb Angel, but I noticed a huge improvement in my sinuses over the next few days without having to take anything for them.) I’m anxious to plant my Marshmallow seeds that I purchased from Herb Angel. Sacred Plant Traditions was another booth that I enjoyed. The lady working the Harris Seeds booth was so friendly and she hooked me up with free purple carrot seeds! I’m also looking forward to learn more about the PA Women’s Agricultural Network and see what they have to offer and how I can educate myself in the future through their workshops.

The 2017 Mother Earth News Fair in Seven Springs was a success for the booth that I worked for, as well as a whole for the entire fair. I could’ve definitely spent 3 days learning new and different things each day, as well as attending workshops or taking it day by day to spend time at vendor booths and have time to talk to them and generate connections and network. Thanks, Mother Earth News for a great fair at Seven Springs! I’m already looking forward to attending next year!

Here are some pictures of me before arriving to the fair and our vendor booth at the fair.

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S’MORES Coffee Creamer

S’MORES Coffee Creamer

I’m a huge fan of s’mores! Fall is right around the corner, the first day of fall actually starts this Friday, September 22. Normally, when you hear about fall, everything under the sun is “pumpkin spice.” Like always, I like to be unique and different, so here is an alternate fall flavor!  Although I enjoy a lot of pumpkin spice everything, when I think about fall and cooler weather, I also think of bonfires and s’mores!

(I will say this is the first time that I made this. A few little tips…don’t decide to make it when you are tired. Also, lesson learned, use a bigger pot than a saucepan. The heat, even though not boiling, may make your creamer expand more than anticipated. Let’s just say this little mistake left my kitchen smelling like a toasted marshmallow.  Smelled great… the clean up not so much fun. This recipe makes quite a bit. Next time, I will probably decrease the ingredients by half to only make a minimal amount since it’s only me that usually uses creamer on a daily basis.)

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ c coffee cream

  • 1 ½ c milk

  • ½ c granulated sugar

  • 1 (7oz) container of marshmallow creme

  • ½ c chocolate syrup

  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. Place cream and milk in a pot and heat over medium heat, but do not let it get to the boiling point.

  2. Next, add the sugar to the cream mixture.

  3. Then, add the marshmallow crème (small amounts at a time) and stir until blended well.

  4. Stir in the cinnamon and chocolate syrup.

  5. Now, stir everything and remove from the heat.

  6. Finally, place in a container and let it cool before placing it in the refrigerator!

    Enjoy your Fall S’MORES Flavored Coffee!

Farmer’s Market Smoothie

Yesterday, I received some wonderful fresh produce from the Lawrenceville Farmer’s Market. I decided this morning that I would make a smoothie out of a few of the items. Here’s what I put together to make my Farmer’s Market Smoothie.

Farmer’s Market Smoothie

  • Milk

  • Protein Powder (optional)

  • Kale

  • Peach

  • Apple

  • Banana

  • Ice

First, I added the milk and kale and blended it together. Next, I added the fruit, protein powder and ice. Blend well, until all the ice is crushed. Enjoy your delicious Farmer’s Market Green Smoothie!

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National Mead Day-August 5, 2017

Mead Day

August 5, 2017

mead glasses

Today is National Mead Day! You are probably either thinking what kind of day is she writing about and why, or you may be saying, “I love Mead! I’m glad this day is getting some recognition!” Currently, and for over a year now, I’ve been working for a new, local meadery in Pittsburgh. My experience there ranges from production work, administrative work, to organizing, planning, and staffing for festivals and events, as well as setting up and working them. You may remember me writing about KingView Mead back in November, when I wrote a post about supporting small, local businesses on Small Business Saturday. KingView Mead celebrated their one year anniversary this past May! You may learn more about KingView Mead as a company, as well as our give back; first in the nation, “Mead for Bees” program. The website is: www.kingviewmead.com.

Some of you may be wondering, “What is Mead?” Mead is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented honey, water and yeast. 51% or more of the alcohol must be fermented for this honey wine to be categorized as a mead. This delicious drink has many variations such as Traditional, Melomel: by adding fruit or fruit juice, Braggot: by adding hops, Metheglin: by adding herbs or spices, Cyser: by adding apples or apple juice, or Pyment: by adding grapes or grape juice.

Are any of you getting married anytime soon? If so, you may want to include this traditional wedding drink as your beverage of choice! Mead is the original wedding drink. It was given to newlyweds way back in ancient times to drink for an entire month to promote fertility and happiness throughout their marriage. This is also how the term “honeymoon” came about.

Now, after an explanation and some of my connection to mead, I’d like to share with you a little bit of background and history on National Mead Day. In 2002, the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) observed the first Saturday in August as Mead Day! The tradition has been carried on over the years. This year, Mead Day will be observed today, on Saturday, August 5, 2017.

The AHA, started Mead Day to generate friendships of mead makers and to create and increase awareness about the oldest fermented beverage to others. It was a day which mead lovers would gather friends and family and create a batch of mead together. Others celebrate it by having competitions, sharing or comparing recipes, dressing up to enjoy the delicious beverage sometimes known as “honey wine” or just meeting up to discuss the craft of mead making. Mark your calendars for August 5th this year. Go outside, reconnect yourself back to nature, and have a drink or two of mead!

As craft beers are popping up, meads are now becoming more popular. Laws in PA have been changing and you may be seeing more of mead in beer distributors, wine & spirit stores, as well as bars and restaurants. If you’ve tried a mead before, and haven’t liked it, don’t turn it down the next time you see it somewhere. This delicious beverage can taste differently each time you try it. Remember, bees pollinate many types of flowers, therefore, the honey they make does not always have the same flavor. A few honey varieties for example could be: Wildflower, Orange Blossom, Lavender, Buckwheat, and there are many more. When these different types of honeys are used, it also can change the taste of the type of mead you are drinking!

Are you a mead lover? If so, what are some of your favorite meads to drink? I’d love to hear from you!  Raise your glass, and “Cheers” to Mead Day!!!

Balancing in Heels: Book Review

Balancing in Heels

By: Kristin Cavallari

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Years ago, I loved tuning in and watching the hit shows on MTV, “Laguna Beach” and “The Hills.” I enjoyed them so much I even have them on DVD! Most reality TV stars in today’s society come out with their own business line or book eventually. Many times, these people are often judged as the person you see on TV.

Kristin Cavallari, was known on both shows to be the independent, flirty, mouthy, boyfriend stealing girl. Not your average nice girl. Sorry, Kristin. I would say most girls would find her as the one to stay away from and as the enemy, whereas, the guys on the other hand would find her as a challenge to date. I will admit, I was hesitant on purchasing her book, “Balancing in Heels” at first, due to how she was portrayed from the shows.

After reading this book, you will see Kristin in a different light. She explains what it was like growing up in reality TV, what things matter most to her in life, and how she became the successful woman and mother that she is today! Bottom line, how she keeps it all together by being herself, as well as how and why it works.

I enjoyed how she wrote about her relationship and how she knew that this was the man she wanted to marry. Their break up was not something that she wanted, but she knew that if there was compromise on both sides, they could find ways to make their relationship work! She is truly happy and it is apparent by the glow that she gives off through her writing and in the photos in the book. Just a sheer look of natural happiness!

She also provides some wonderful, healthy recipes! I need to try some of the smoothie recipes for sure! It was inspiring to read how two famous people are true to themselves, yet have family time, and still make time for each other, despite their busy schedules. Anything can work if two people want it to happen!

Her shoe and jewelry lines which are expanding are amazing! I love her shoe designs! Another case in point, which a lot of times many people lose track of is how important it is to keep yourself healthy and well in the process of life. Many times, we put others first and throw what we need for ourselves under the bus.

I highly recommend reading this book! You aren’t just reading about someone else’s life or story. You will be able take away some of what she talks about and apply it to your life as well. In addition, you will have new, healthy food and drink recipes to try!

Have any of you read, “Balancing in Heels?” What are your thoughts on the book? Have you tried any of her recipes? I’d love to hear what you think!

Pennsylvania Gardens and Arboretums

Pennsylvania Gardens and Arboretums

http://visitpa.com/articles/gardens-and-arboretums-pennsylvania

One of my hobbies is gardening.  Some days, all I need to make me feel better is to put my hands in dirt and plant something.  I love to watch what I plant grow and bloom as time moves along.  Flowers and plants just have a way of brightening up a day.  An enjoyable way to spend a day would be taking a walk through some of PA’s best gardens and arboretums.  The link above will give you a list to gardens and arboretums near you in PA.

Here are some of the ones closest to where I live.

Laurel Highlands

  • Laurel Hill State Park

This park is beautiful and peaceful.  I was here a few years ago.  We camped out (RV Style-More Glamping than Camping). It was such a wonderful time!  Thankfully, I was with an experienced camper, since I am not, haha.  It was such an enjoyable weekend!  Now, I’m in the mood for a campfire, some hobo pies, wine (yes, a glass of wine) and s’mores!!!  I’d love to go back!  The park was clean and well kept.

  • Ohiopyle State Park

Although this was not listed on the webpage, this park hits close to home.  I recently drove up here since this park is very close to where I live.  I had the windows down, and the drive to Ohiopyle was just absolutely gorgeous!  There are bike trails, restaurants and pubs, white water rafting, and so much more.  There are natural water slides.  Cucumber Falls is a must see! I recommend getting some ice cream or eating at Firefly Grill or Falls City Pub!  If you are spending some time up there, a few other attractions to visit would be Kentuck Knob, Fallingwater, and Nemacolin Woodlands.  An intimate, beautiful, peaceful cafe that I suggest would be Bittersweet Cafe. It’s so important to take in the beauty so close around us! If you live in the Pittsburgh area, take a day or weekend and take a ride south, and explore the Laurel Highlands!

Pittsburgh and its Countryside

  • Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Inc.

I love Phipps! It is beautiful to visit in any season.  They have everything imaginable.  Butterflies, palms, orchids, herbs, children’s discovery garden, bonsai, a Japanese garden, and more!  They offer classes and have events throughout year.  One of my favorite times to visit is during the Christmas season.

  • Botanic Garden of Western PA

I have not been here yet.  It is also known as the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden.  This is on my bucket list!  I really hope to explore it before summer ends.  It looks like there are a variety of trails to walk on. It is only 20 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh.  There are adult workshops, geocaching challenges, and events.

  • Chatham Arboretum

There are many varieties of tree species. It is said to be a wonderful place to relax and meditate.  The arboretum provides an outdoor classroom for students.  The grounds are perfect for a stroll.

The Alleghenies

  • Arboretum at Penn State

While this may be a bit of a drive from Pittsburgh, I had to put it on the list.  I’m adding this to my bucket list as well!  I’ve never toured the Arboretum at Penn State, but I am a PSU grad, so anything in State College, holds a special place in my heart!  The last time I was up there visiting my cousins and celebrating my cousin, Caleigh’s 21st birthday, I noticed the arboretum.  The weekend flew by and I didn’t have time to stop by.  I love how their mission strives to achieve beauty and renewal.  A venue for art, enrichment, and discovery.  It is said they have gardens and groves, sculptures and special attractions, as well as a children’s garden.  Another bonus is that there is no admission fee and free parking!

I am looking forward to visiting some of these local gardens and arboretums this summer.  Have you been to any of these? What are some of your favorite garden and arboretums to visit?

 

National Pollinator Week

National Pollinator Week

If I’m not working, reading, or writing, then you can most likely find me outside. I’ll be pruning and dead heading plants or flowers, pulling weeds or tilling soil, planting new plants and flowers, or feeding and watering the ones that I have.

How have I never heard of National Pollinator Week? It is an International celebration! As I researched to learn more, I found out that it started in 2006 by the US State Senate to bring awareness and recognition of how important pollinators are to our world and how valuable they are to our ecosystem. This year it was celebrated June 19-25, 2017.

You may be thinking to yourself, “What are pollinators?” Birds, butterflies, beetles, bats, and bees are all pollinators. These pollinators sustain our ecosystems, help plants reproduce, and help with our food supply. Did you know that our landscapes could collapse if it wasn’t for these pollinators? They are very important for us and our environment. The website pollinator.org has tons of information and promotes “National Pollinator Week.”

We need pollinators and pollinators need us! Many pollinator populations are declining due to loss of nesting habitats and feeding. We can help pollinators by providing them with proper plants. Planting and placing plants in home gardens, schools, farms, and near highways will help supply pollinators. Other ways to help them would be to buy locally, shop at farmer’s markets, spread the word and create awareness.

There are Eco-regional planting guides available online and there is even an app for your phone to help you determine and decide what plants will attract pollinators.

Recently, I’ve been hearing a lot of people talking about the importance of native and heirloom plants. It is a good idea to incorporate these types of plants into your gardens. Bees have been, and still are on a decline, and now I’m beginning to hear that monarch butterflies are on a decline as well. Monarchs love milkweed. This plant in your yard will provide monarch butterflies with food.

If you are asking yourself how to create an environment for pollinators, you can plant a variety of flowers that bloom throughout the seasons of spring through fall. Also, limit the use of pesticides. Make sure to provide shelter and water for pollinators. Just as we need water, water is important for wildlife and nature as well.

It can be quite enjoyable watching pollinators connect with nature. You can watch them by going for a walk, or just sitting outside and paying attention to your surroundings. Look at the plants, flowers, animals, and pollinators around you. Take it all in, and in no time at all, you will be connecting yourself back to nature as well!

The website pollinator.org suggests some great ways to create awareness to others by providing ways to show the importance of pollinators. Some of their suggestions were using a symbol or pictures of pollinators next to the foods that they pollinate. Another idea was hosting a cooking class or creating a menu that showcases the food we eat to bring awareness to people as they sample and taste foods that we enjoy. Pollinators are important in that they help produce what we need to be able to have foods, spices, beverages, and even some medicines. This makes the situation more realistic knowing that if pollinators keep declining, we will have less of these foods, spices, and medicines in our daily lives.

It is important to bring awareness not only one week out of the year, but throughout the year. We need to educate not only adults, but children as well, because they are our future!

What are some of your ideas to bring awareness to others about the decline and importance of pollinators to others? How do you celebrate National Pollinator Week?