The Sunflower the Giver

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The last of the sunflowers sit in the field after another summer of being true givers.

For the pollen that feeds the bees

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that make the honey.

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For the deer who nibble their petals :)

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And for me:

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Thank you, sunflowers. I love you so.

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How A Country Living Magazine Story Comes To Life

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Each month, the pages of Country Living magazine tell us stories about crafts, collectibles, homes and homeowners, and country style. But how do these stories come to life? Oftentimes, it starts with an editor’s idea, like this story about ice cream, in the June 2014 issue:

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So, the editor has an idea about ice cream. A meeting is planned with a few editors and the stylist who will be working on the shoot for the story. The purpose of the meeting is to hash out the ideas and to come up with a clear plan for how the story will look. As the ideas are finalized, rough sketches are drawn, to help guide the shoot on location.

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As the story is being sketched, visual inspiration is helpful. In this case, a few sketched images that had inspired the team were a part of the planning process. Once the plan is in place, the recipes will be developed and tested, a shoot is scheduled with a location designated and a photographer assigned. The stylist who helped plan the story will be on location, styling each shot.

inspiration3The original inspiration for this shot was the sketch of popsicles all laid out, as seen on the left. The plan for popsicles evolved into scoops of ice cream. Same concept, with slight variation (as seen on the right).

Once the shoot has concluded, the photographer will submit the images to Country Living. The Country Living editorial team then takes the images and begins to lay them out as they will appear on the pages of the magazine. A writer is assigned, the story is written, and the recipes added in.

evolutionFirst layout (left) Final layout (right). During the shoot, other shots will be taken that can be used for pages where copy (text) is inserted, like this introduction page for the story. The shot was simply of ice cream, and the copy was laid down on top of that image. When the story is being laid out, the design and copy will change. The version on the left was the original layout, which evolved into the final layout on the right.

From beginning to end, there are many many hands that have touched a story, from concept to shooting, to layout, to writing. And hopefully, when it’s done, it’s a story the readers will enjoy.

Scan 7And of course, there are always shots that don’t make the page. Like this after-shot of the perfectly frozen scoops seen above.

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Country Living Magazine – A New Location & A New Editor-In-Chief

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I first began working as a contributing editor with Country Living Magazine in 2004, shortly after the Editor-In-Chief at the time, Nancy Soriano, visited my Farm Chicks Antiques Show. It was a really exciting time, and such an honor for me. The first story was all about how to bake a pie. In the ten years I’ve been working with the magazine, the headquarters moved its offices within New York City to the Hearst Tower, Nancy Soriano left the magazine to pursue other ventures, a new Editor-In-Chief, Sara Gray Miller, was at the helm for a few years, and then last fall, some new changes were announced. The magazine was moving to a new location in Birmingham, Alabama, and a new Editor-In-Chief, Rachel Hardage Barrett, had been appointed.

Earlier this summer, I visited the new editorial headquarters in Birmingham to meet Rachel and the new editorial staff. The offices are located in an area known as Pepper Place. Formerly the Dr. Pepper Syrup Plant and Bottling Company, the Pepper Place Complex is a group of seven extensively renovated buildings, including the old Martin Biscuit Building, spearheaded by Cathy Sloss Jones – a descendant of the nearby Sloss Furnaces Factory family. In addition to Country Living, there are restaurants, antiques shops, a garden market, and a weekly farmer’s market located here.

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Rachel has a long background in the editorial world including Glamour, Real Simple, and most recently, Southern Living Magazine. When I asked her about the decision for the magazine’s move to Alabama, she explained that Hearst was looking to find a location more fitting to the Country Living brand. The September issue of Country Living will be the first issue with all of the content compiled under the direction of Rachel, and will also be the issue in which she is first introduced to the readers, via the Editor’s Journal in the magazine.

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Editor-In-Chief Rachel Hardage Barrett (far left) and editorial staff .

The space is just beginning to take shape as office furniture arrives. Most of the editorial staff’s desks are located in the center of the building, with the executive offices along the front wall, a conference room on the left, and project work stations on the right. On the day I was visiting, they were unpacking boxes of paint for an upcoming story.

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IMG_1374The entrance to the offices. The Country Living logo will be placed here soon.

As a teenage reader of Country Living, I always looked forward to the Real Estate Sampler and the monthly recipes. Now, I love seeing the homes that are featured and reading about other women in creative businesses. Are you a subscriber to Country Living Magazine? What have your favorite features or stories been in the past? Do you have a favorite column? I’d love to hear!

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Next up, I’ll be sharing one of the many ways a story in the magazine comes to life.

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Huckleberry Peach Pie

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My favorite summertime pie, full of juicy fresh-picked GreenBluff orchard peaches and wild huckleberries from Mount Spokane.

Huckleberry Peach Pie

From book The Farm Chicks in the Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 2 Discs Grandma's Pie Dough (Link for recipe in notes below)
  • 5 cups peaches, sliced (about 5 medium peaches)
  • 1/2 cup huckleberries
  • 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

Prepare the dough and lattice strips. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out one of the disks of dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness, transfer to a 9-inch pie pan and trim, leaving 1/2-inch overhang. Set aside and keep chilled. Roll the remaining disk of dough to 1/8-inch thickness and about 13 inches in length. Cut 10 one-inch strips using a pizza wheel or fluted pastry cutter. Lay strips on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and chill until ready to use.
Make the pie. Toss the peaches, huckleberries, sugar, flour, and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Pour the filling into the prepared pie pan. Lay 5 of the dough strips lengthwise over the pie. Gently bend back every other strip and slide one of the remaining 5 strips down crosswise (and beneath the bent strips) to the end of the pie. Flip the lengthwise strips back to lay flat and bend the alternate lengthwise strips back. Slide another remaining strip down crosswise, placing it about 1 inch above the previous. Flip the lengthwise strips back, and repeat the process until all of the crosswise strips are placed. Trim the strip ends, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Fold the bottom crust over the lattice strips and crimp together. Chill for 10 minutes. Bake until fruit is bubbling and crust is golden brown -- 50 to 55 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

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Notes:

You can find my recipe for Grandma’s Pie Dough here.

I highly recommend using only fresh, tree-ripened peaches as they are the most tasty and flavorful.

Huckleberries are sometimes compared to blueberries, mostly because of their similar appearance but are more tart,  flavorful, and honestly, much tastier. If you’re substituting blueberries here, I recommend using a variety from a farm or farmer’s market for the best flavor. Blueberries from the store tend to be much too bland, in my opinion.

If lattice crust is too intimidating, feel free to use a full top crust or use a small cookie cutter to cut out lots of shapes for a variation on the lattice.

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Images by Thayer Allyson Gowdy

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Grandma’s Pie Dough

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You can’t judge a book by its cover, but you can judge a pie by its crust. This is hands-down the best piecrust ever, adapted from my mother-in-law Mary Jane’s recipe. It’s rich, flaky and unforgettable. You can make the dough, wrap it, and freeze for baking later.

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Grandma’s Pie Dough

From book The Farm Chicks in the Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 cup cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (3 1/2 sticks)
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 extra-large egg

Directions

Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Cut in the butter using a pastry blender, food processor, or your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
Whisk the vinegar, egg, and 1/2 cup of ice water together and mix into the flour mixture with your hands until just combined.
Transfer to a clean work surface, and gently press to form a dough. Divide the dough into 4 equal parts. Shape each into a ball, flatten slightly to form a disk, and wrap in plastic. Chill for at least 1 hour. Roll out as indicated in your recipe.

Note

Feel free to use salted butter. If you do, skip adding the 3/4 teaspoon salt.

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Mary Jane was given the original version of this recipe by a friend while living in San Diego and adjusting to life as a new mom with a husband at war. I often think of her when preparing this dough and can only imagine what a challenging time it must have been for her. Yet somehow, she still made time to bake pies. I love that.

Images by Thayer Allyson Gowdy

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September 19, 1971

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I recently came across this clipping from my childhood, from the Daily Inter Lake Newspaper in Kalispell, Montana:

Family Prefers Nomad Way of Life

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Carefree Family Passes This Way

By Warren Pettit

An odd-looking vehicle, something of a covered wagon with rubber tires and a motor, drove through Kalispell the other day, and was different enough to attract attention.

Not only was the vehicle different, but so were its owners – in an interesting and most unusual way.

The travelers were Mr. and Mrs. Joaquin De La Luz and their three children, Heather, 6, Bear, 4, and Serena, 1. Also part of the family is a big, friendly dog but we didn’t get his name.

Mrs. De La Luz’s name is Gypsy and it’s appropriate because you might say the family is gypsy-like.

You see, they have no home – as such – except the home-made unit in which they travel, a combination trailer house-camper with a barn-like design and complete with two “bedrooms,” sink, wood burning stove and a kerosene lamp. The outside has siding like a home and is dotted with old metal advertising signs displaying products long-since forgotten or no longer on the market.

They’ve been on the road with the rig for three years going through several western states.

Where are they from? “We really didn’t have a starting point, but it was somewhere between Oakland, Calif., where my husband was born and New York City,” where I’m from said Mrs. De La Luz.

Where are they going? “We really have no idea, don’t particularly care, and actually don’t give it much thought – wherever the road leads is our destination day by day”.

However, they are planning an itinerary – subject to change anytime – which may take them to Canada. They feel there’s a chance they may settle down and make a home in British Columbia if they find opportunities and conditions to their liking. They’re not in a hurry but feel they should settle with the winter near.

As to the children’s education, their mother is providing that for Heather – who just reached school age – but she’ll have to join kids in a regular classroom when they get to Canada.

The whole family loves the “life of wanderers” they lead in going anyplace they choose, when they wish, for as long as it strikes their fancy.

There are no economic problems in the way of life they lead. De La Luz is something of a jack-of-all-trades. He’s a jeweler, an artist (sculptor) and a whiz at creating something from virtually nothing. “He can build anything,” said his wife. He built their rig which is mounted on the frame of a 1937 Chevrolet truck which he overhauled and is in good running condition.

You might say the family is “roughing it” in their mobile living. Their home on wheels isn’t fancy with all of the modern fixtures and conveniences of a factory product costing thousands of dollars. But it’s warm, dry and comfortable and this is a family that is content with inexpensive, old-fashioned living – they have everything they need or want and they don’t desire luxuries.

Status, prestige and material things rate low in their sense of values. They have something far more precious upon which their lives are based. As Mrs. De La Luz put it, “We live by faith. We don’t go to church – we just believe in God. Perhaps I could explain it better by saying we go to church in our hearts every day, not just Sunday. Each person should exercise his faith in his own way and this way feels right to us.”

There is one point which should be made clear. These free and easy-living nomads are not of the type one would place with the “Now People” or the kind of persons commonly classified as hippies. They make their own way and expect help from nobody. De La Luz trades his art work for gas and food and they pick fruit or do almost any kind of odd jobs along the way to meet their needs.

Surprisingly there have been no problems of sickness with the children despite frequent changes in water supply, climate and other factors. Their mother attributes this to her selection of food. She avoids chemically sprayed foods and stays with natural herbs, grains, whole wheat flour, honey, fruits and vegetables as part of the basic diet.

Why have they chosen this way of life? Mrs. De La Luz summed it up in a few words.

“We like to see the land, visiting new places and meeting people. We’ve found a lot of beautiful people in our travels and it makes you feel good to know there are so many good persons in the world. We enjoy ourselves living this way and think that is important – for people to choose their own way to get as much enjoyment out of life as possible.”

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Today, as with most days of my life, I stop to give thanks to be born of two such creative souls who blazed their own trail, and now, I blaze my own too.

You can read more about my family history here.

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Scenes from The Farm Chicks Antiques Show

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I love the spirit in the air at the show each year. Groups of friends, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, families, and Curators happy to share their creativity and style through the goods they so carefully gather and curate all year, leading up to the show. If you came to the show, thank you for being a part of what my family, staff, and the Curators hold so dear. If you’re dreaming of visiting the show someday, please know that we can’t wait to see you and welcome you into our magical little world that we call The Farm Chicks Antiques Show.

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Crossing my fingers that I’ll see you again next year!

Love,

Me

All images by Kate Jennings Photography.

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The Farm Chicks Antiques Show is held once a year (always the first full weekend in June) in Spokane, Washington. You can read all about it here.

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The Farm Chicks Birdhouse Installation

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One of my very favorite parts of The Farm Chicks Show each year is coming up with a theme and then carrying it through every aspect of the show all leading up to the installation at the main entrance. It is SO FUN for me. This year’s theme was birds.

I decided to make a backdrop for my installation, so that it could really stand out. I took an enormous roll of paper and water-colored a sky and birds in flight. Each bird spelled out “The Farm Chicks” over and over again.

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I created the bird houses one by one out of ordinary paper bags – hundreds of them.

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Each bag was individually painted, and dried.

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After the bags were dried, I used a circle cutter to cut holes in each birdhouse. To cut only the front of the bags, I inserted a piece of cardboard into each one before cutting.

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After the holes were cut, the bags were opened and the tops folded down and hot glued into place.

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In the days leading up to the show, I prepared a wire grid with hundreds of strings tied to it, to hang the birdhouses from. On setup day, we hung the wire grid from the hang wires in the ceiling above the entrance and the roll of paper as well.

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My friend, Jill, spent the day opening each birdhouse, folding down the top, glueing them into place, and then attaching each one to the strings that were already in place. It was extremely time consuming!

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The next day, my son, Cody, glued each birdhouse into place.

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And at long last, the installation was complete!

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I loved getting to see so many shoppers stopping at the installation, taking group photos, using it as a meeting place, and enjoying the show. Did you visit the show and get your picture with the birdhouses? Please leave a comment below and tell me about it! Tomorrow I’ll be sharing pictures of the show and shoppers. I can’t wait!

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The Farm Chicks Antiques Show is held once a year (always the first full weekend in June) in Spokane, Washington. You can read all about it here.

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Between posts on my website, I document my life on Instagram. You can follow along with me there.

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The Farm Chicks Antiques Show 2014 Re-Cap

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This year’s Farm Chicks Show was as fun as ever! All of the Curators arrived for setup on Friday and did such a beautiful job. That night after everyone had left, I walked through the show all by myself, to take it all in. I was thinking how special these Curators are and how lovely their spaces were. After a few minutes, I was joined by the night custodian who was tidying everything up for the big opening the next day. It was his first time working the fairgrounds during The Farm Chicks Show and he was caught up in the amazingness, as was I. It was a neat experience to see the show through his eyes, and hear how much he appreciated everyones creativity. As I bobbed and weaved around what he was cleaning, I was able to grab some shots of what we were seeing. I thought you’d enjoy seeing it too:

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After a bit, I headed home to meet Colin and the boys for dinner. Not only was the show opening the next morning, but it was going to be Bongo’s 14th birthday as well.

Bright and early the next morning, we enjoyed a birthday breakfast with Bongo and then headed out to the show. It was fun to see the festive crowd that was beginning to gather. My friend, Katelyn, captured the excitement before the show began. You can see her images here. Longtime show sponsor, Harry & David, treated the first 1,000 shoppers to their famous Moose Munch and it was delicious!

At 9am, the doors to the show opened and the first thing shoppers saw was this year’s installation. I had such a fun time creating it. I’ll tell you all about it on Thursday.

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The Farm Chicks Antiques Show is held once a year (always the first full weekend in June) in Spokane, Washington. You can read all about it here.

.    .    .    .    .    .

Between posts on my website, I document my life on Instagram. You can follow along with me there.

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Dandelion Tea

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Another great use of dandelions is to brew them into as a simple tea. It’s really easy to make. Simply steep a handful of fresh leaves and blossoms in hot water for 5-10 minutes.

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The tea is quite mild and reminds me of spring, which seems appropriate for the plant that truly is one of the earliest signs of the season.

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Notes:

More about Dandelion Tea:

  • Cool after brewing and serve as an iced tea, sweetened with honey.
  • Dry the blossoms and leaves and store in an airtight container for a dried tea mixture that can be used throughout the year.

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Add blossoms to iced tea before serving for a pretty presentation.

Not in the mood for dandelion iced tea? Simply add dandelion blossoms to icy lemonade for a sweet touch.

You should NEVER harvest dandelions for consumption from any area that has been fertilized or treated with chemicals, such as most suburban lawns or parks. They should be gathered from wild areas, free of pesticides and chemicals.

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