A Visit to the English Countryside

I have just returned from a wonderful visit to England, and was so pleased to spend a day with the lovely ladies from Nether Wallop Trading, the innovators behind most of the beautiful British home & garden products you find in our range. Jane & Caro suggested we meet in Salisbury, a medieval town about an hour and  a half outside London.

They greeted me at the train station in the Nether Wallop Trading van, which was a thrill! Then we had a bit of a walking tour through the town of Salisbury on our way to the stunning Salisbury cathedral.

We discussed a bit of business, their garden, a passion for good food and food books. It was an absolutely lovely day. Working with wonderful people like Jane & Caro is one of the  best parts of running Minnie and Moon!

Here are some photos from our visit:

Natural Air Freshener

Air Freshener BannerHere at Minnie and Moon we are always looking for ways to live more naturally and using what we already have around our homes, so we are excited to share a guest blog from Karin Eckersley on making an easy and naturally scented air freshener for your home. There are lots of great reasons to minimize exposure to artificial fragrances- her alternative is so natural you could eat it:

For a lot of people, winter means spending more time indoors. This week as I mustered the motivation to clean my house top to bottom while the grey skies poured rain all day, it occurred to me that my home could use a pick me up. I decide to play around with what I had on hand to brighten up the house. The results were cheery and warm!

Here’s how you can brighten your home with your stove top and all natural fruits and spices:

In a small pot, combine:

  • Water – 2 Cups
  • Fresh Ginger – 2 inches, chopped
  • Cinnamon – 1 Tbsp. ground or 2-3 sticks
  • Orange peels – Half a medium orange
  • A squeeze of orange juice (optional but adds more orange scent)

Bring the ingredients to a light boil and then turn down and simmer. You can leave continually, but make sure you add water and keep at least to 2 inches at all times. (And don’t forget to turn it off if you leave the house!)

This is great when hosting people and making your home more inviting. Though I once went to a Halloween party where a delicious smelling brew was on the stove, and some meatballs had just come out on tray. I dunked my meatball right into that pot of “sauce”, and later learned it was actually just a pot of herbs to make the house smell nice. Oops!

Tip: You can save your citrus peels and instead of composting them, throw ’em in the pot.

Also check out this grapefruit, vanilla and rosemary recipe: http://www.gardenista.com/posts/stovetop-diy-potpourri-with-grapefruit-rosemary-and-vanilla

 

Breakfast Quinoa

Breakfast Quinoa.

Here is a delicious way to start your day with plenty of fiber and protein – Breakfast Quinoa. It takes about 15-20 minutes to prepare, but you can also make it ahead and reheat on the stove top with a bit of liquid.

You’ll need

  • 1 cup Quinoa
  • 2 cups Water
  • 1 tsp. Coconut Oil
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. Clove
  • ¼ tsp. ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. Molasses
  • 1 tsp . Vanilla

Plus:

  • Dried Fruit, chopped: Approximately 1/3 cup
  • Chopped nuts
  • Fresh Fruit, chopped
  • Maple Syrup

My favorites are diced dried apricots, dried blueberries, sliced and toasted almonds or pecans.

Rinse Quinoa thoroughly. Combine water, coconut oil, molasses, vanilla, and spices. Bring to boil. Add Quinoa. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for around 15 minutes. When the little rings around the quinoa start to separate the quinoa is tender and ready. Remove from heat and add dried fruit and nuts, top with fresh fruit and drizzle with maple syrup, and add a little milk, if desired.

Approximately 4 servings.

 

 

Biodegradable DIY Seed Pots

Paper potter

It’s time to start thinking about starting your seeds for the growing season ahead. Purchasing pot starters can be expensive and wasteful, but with the invention of the Paper Potter there is no reason to buy seed pots again!

You simply cut strips of newspaper, wrap them around the form with a bit hanging over the edge. Fold over the bottom and cinch in place by twisting into the base. Pop in some potting soil, add your seed, water regularly,  and watch them grow. When they are ready to pop in the ground, you plant the pot and all, it will just biodegrade. Which also means you don’t shock your plants by removing them from the pot!

These are so quick and easy to make, they are extremely popular as school garden projects since children as young as four can make them!

Some may ask if these can stand up to watering before planting – and the answer is YES! I use a recycled squeeze bottle to control the amount of water, but these are not overly fragile or likely to disintegrate in the time before they go in the ground. And if you tend to over-water, you can also place your pots on a tray covered in a layer of stones for drainage.

Now, little more about our potters. This was created by Jane from Nether Wallop Trading in England. She ran out of seed pots many years ago and created this nifty form, which is also how her company, Nether Wallop Trading, and the many wonderful items they produce came into being. They are passionate about quality and sustainability at Nether Wallop Trading. The paper potter is still produced in England from sustainably harvested wood, which is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

The paper potter is available in original and large sizes. You can purchase at www.minnieandmoon.com, or through garden centers across the country.

Fireplace Starters from Household Waste

Simple Living Blog Banner Fire Starters.jpg

With up to two feet of snow and blizzard conditions headed to the Mid Atlantic states, we wanted to  share a couple ways use household waste to get the fireplace roaring. No need to buy special products for the task, just take items that would otherwise end up in the trash to keep your home toasty warm.

Candle Wax. Save the ends, the drippings, the candles that burned unevenly, or the ones where the wick is no longer usable. If the pieces are bigger than about an inch I break them up and spread them around the wood and newspaper, they drip onto the wood and catch fire readily.

Dryer Lint. Instead of throwing out your dryer lint and toilet paper tubes, save them up and stuff the lint into the toilet paper rolls for awesome fire starters. If you don’t have enough TP rolls but have one of our paper potters, you can always stuff the dryer lint into a paper pot! I use one or two of these tucked in to the fire to get it going

And, of course, we have an amazing selection of beautiful, extra large matches to help get things started. You can check out our current selection here:

Let us know if you have any other  tips and tricks for getting your fireplace going!

Make Your Own Vanilla

Simple Living Blog Banner Vanilla

It is now frigidly cold here in Pennsylvania, which means it’s time to bring the creativity indoors! Homemade vanilla is ridiculously easy and requires only a couple ingredients. I love being able to make in bulk, and that I know exactly what’s going into it! Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Vanilla Beans (around three beans per cup of vodka)
  • Vodka
  • Time – about three months.

Split the vanilla beans lengthwise. Pop them into a jar of Vodka. Let steep for at least 3 months, shaking occasionally.

Seriously, that’s it!

A few more notes:

Because it takes so long, I usually start a batch every couple months, so I always have one in the works.

Pour into smaller jars for lovely homemade gifts.

If you prefer, you can use bourbon or rum in place of the vodka, though these will add their distinct flavor to the vanilla.

There will be some vanilla bean sediment at the bottom of the jar. You can filter out with a coffee filter if you want.