Parker left for summer camp on Sunday...she was SO excited! Summer camp has been very influential on Parker's understanding of the world around her. The camp she attends is part of a working organic farm. The girls sleep in open air cabins...in mosquito nets! They swim, kayak, canoe and jump from tree swings into the most idyllic mountain lake. They garden, milk cows, cook from the vegetables they've grown, hike, build campfires and bond. It's an amazing experience. While she's gone...we work. We've set up a pretty rigorous schedule of studio time and work on the house time beginning at 7am and ending around 9pm daily. We have not had any moment (aside from repairing broken water pipes and gas lines) to work on our home renovation project and while it is a long daily schedule, we're excited to have made the time to work. We're hoping to have a bedroom by the end of these three weeks (our current sleeping quarters are basically a closet). Then, we will head to pick Parker up from camp and we're all going on vacation for a week!!! I can't wait!
Jeremy spent the day yesterday taking care of our plumbing problem and I'm happy to say it is fixed! whew.
After a long busy day yesterday I was excited to head home and prepare the meal I've been thinking about for several days now. We arrived home around 8:30pm, started up the charcoal grill and prepped our dinner. We started with watermelon cocktails. Parker loves these. So do I. We fill a blender with watermelon chunks, a bunch in fresh mint leaves and ice. Blend it up, add a bit of seltzer, blend again and drink. I add white rum to mine. delish.
I had picked up some fresh green beans, hot peppers and corn at the North Side Farmer's Market last Friday and decided we would make grilled green bean tacos. I prefer tons of fresh grilled veggies in my tacos but you could make these with any combination of ingredients. We had cleaned all the veggies last night prior to our plumbing incident so we had lots of time to relax with our cocktails while the grill was heating up. Once ready, we tossed the green beans and hot peppers in olive oil and salt then added them to the grill (we use a flat grill pan with small holes to keep the food from falling through the grill grate).
When I grill corn on the cob I pre-cook it in the microwave. Leave the husks on and cook 2 ears at a time for 2 minutes. When finished, remove the husks, brush with olive oil & salt then add to the grill, turning periodically like you would anything else. We also grilled a few links of chicken sausage.
When everything was ready, we pulled it all off and started preparing our tacos. We use corn tortillas (we love corn tortillas!). Brush the bottom side of each tortilla with olive oil to prevent sticking and add your fillings. We filled each taco with the grilled green beans, hot peppers, diced up chicken sausage and a slice of sharp cheddar cheese. Once filled, we placed each taco on the grill until slightly browned. They were amazing. The evening was so so lovely. After Parker went to bed, Jeremy and I stayed up late, sitting on the screened in porch, talking about our day, sipping whiskey, enjoying each others company and the sounds of summer nights.
p.s. today's my birthday and my sweet parker gave me a grilling cookbook!
Those of you who follow our twitter feed may have seen me announce a personal goal - to eat solely farmer's market veggies this week! This is not a culinary challenge - I have no problems eating/cooking fresh veggies every day of my life...it's more of a shopping challenge. In western Massachusetts we were lucky to have oodles of charming farmer's markets and plenty of local independent grocers all supporting local farms by stocking their products. It made supporting local agriculture very easy. It is one of the things I most miss about Massachusetts, aside from our friends!!! In Pittsburgh, it is not as easy to support your local agronomist. You really need to be committed to doing so and if you live on my side of the city, you need to have the time to go out of your way to purchase fresh, local food as the big chain groceries do not stock local produce. What we eat and where it comes from is very important to me. But, in the year we have lived in Pittsburgh, the time challenge and proximity to buying local food has made it difficult to keep that commitment. I looked into joining a CSA, but it was really too far out of our budget this year (buying a house, leaving a full time salary, renovating a money-pit, growing a business, etc. etc. has left little money left over). So, for the next few weeks I have allotted time to visit a few of the farmer's markets closer to me. My goal this week is to cook up and share recipes using local produce/products.
I had planned to begin last night.
I started by washing the dishes to make room for dinner preparations then cleaned and prepped the veggies...all the while noticing that my sink had decided it did not want to let the dish water drain out. A half hour later, it still had not drained. So I found a plunger and began plunging only to have the backed up water spew out of the other side of the split sink drain. gross.
Jeremy took a look at it and found that the issue was not the drain trap (a typical backed up sink problem) and we headed to the basement to check out the main plumbing stack. We found rivers of dirty water draining across the basement floor. The previous owners of this house were DIY-ers in the truest sense...only everything they did was completely jury-rigged and crappy. Their main plumbing stack drain system was a series of pipes wedged together with a bucket to catch what leaked through the wedged together parts of the pipe all feeding into an opening in the floor where they poured concrete around one of the pipes to keep it in place. Those pipes are so backed up (from years of junk going down the drain in combination with a poorly done plumbing job) that they are now just pouring water through the wedged together parts of the pipe and onto the basement floor. also gross.
So we had to shut the water off and I did not get to finish making dinner. Instead we ordered pizza. blurgh to the burgh. I don't even like delivery pizza.
Tonight I will try again...look for recipes tomorrow!
If you don't see any, you'll know things did not go as smoothly as we had hoped and Jeremy is still working on the plumbing.
We are excited to have been invited to be part of the Mattress Factory's Factory 500 tour tonight! We are opening the doors to Moop studios and the studio of Jeremy Boyle for the event. It should be a fun time! We'll do a quick bag making demo, share some sweets and talk about music making, open source circuit building and artistic practice. We're looking forward to meeting everyone!
p.s. if you want to come, you must be a MF donor and may sign up here
Hi Everyone...just wanted to let you know, we have been having a few technical difficulties over the last several days with our website...it has been in and out of service. Don't be alarmed...we're trying our best to work on it and hope to have all the kinks worked out soon. In the mean time, you may find most all of the bags in our Etsy shop by clicking here.
Wishing you the best of weekends (I'll be biting my nails about broken servers and such)....
**UPDATE** - it seems to be up and running now...hopefully we've worked it all out. Now, go on and shop the SALE!!!
Hi Everyone! This heat wave is really going strong here in Pittsburgh (just as the whole east coast). Why not stay cool with some extra cool new prices on our Organic Market Bags (hyuk hyuk hyuk...did you like my marketing plug?). All of you who subscribe to our newsletter heard about this special sale a few days ago...and if you have yet to join...why not do so now?! And in the meantime, here are the details of the sale:
We pride ourselves on our model of production. Every Moop bag is designed and hand-manufactured, start to finish, in our Pittsburgh studio by our small four-person team. We spend a lot of time sourcing durable, well made materials that will hold up to your (and our) busy lifestyles. Several months ago we came across a fantastic fabric mill who grows, weaves and dyes their 100% organic cotton in the United States. This is a rare find in an industry that has largely moved outside of the US. We have been sewing with it, using it daily and want very much for all of you to appreciate the craftsmanship of this wonderful material. Not only are the production methods something we admire, the use of non-toxic dyes and environmentally friendly processing make this fabric something we all should own and support. We all know the buying of organic often means paying a premium above the price of the same, non-organic offering. We here at Moop want to make that divide a little smaller in the hopes that more of you will be able to support organic, low-impact products. To do so, we are lowering the price of our organics line - The Organic Market Bags are now available for $98 (formerly $113)! And, as a special added bonus, for a limited time, The Organic Market Bag in summery Turquoise will be on sale for $90!!! We're certain these won't last long so be sure to pick yours up today!
I'm so excited to share some photos of our studio renovation project. We have been working on this since we moved in last summer. It has been a long haul of dirty work but feels very well worth it. The gutting process was long, arduous, dirty and exhausting. The space is tiny...only about 400 square feet so we lightened everything up by painting the floors light light gray and keeping the walls bright white. We've decided to add color with furniture and our art collection (which is not on the walls yet so you won't see any art in the photos). I did not think to take any before photos but just imagine a dark cramped space with a ceiling caving in and a back wall about to fall off the building...it was not a nice site. I won't go into all of the details of the structural work we did because Jeremy is the expert in the area, not me. But, the space was falling down. This was not simply a paint job and redecorate - it was a total structural renovation. I have included a few in process shots along with the almost finished state below:
This is the back lounge space and part of the front office
This was after the gutting and during the re-framing/re-insulating/re-wiring stage
This is the back lounge area and the bathroom. You can see we have a bit of trim work yet to do and we'll be building a desk for Parker in the corner next to the couch
Jeremy raised the ceiling height, repaired the sagging ceiling beams and re framed the back wall (you can see 1/4 of it was missing...it had completely rotted away.
This is our office space. Jeremy built a long useful table that covers the half wall and all of the side wall. The legs are made from thick threaded rod that have been threaded into the floor.
A straight back view of the office space in progress.
Jeremy built the entire kitchen unit out of one piece of plywood. It looks great! A studio kitchen will make our life so much easier.
Conflict Kitchen is an amazing project located in the East Liberty neighborhood of Pittsburgh. From their website, "Conflict Kitchen is a take-out restaurant that only serves cuisine from countries that the United States is in conflict with." The first kitchen - Kubideh Kitchen serves food from Iran. Kubideh Kitchen worked with the local Iranian community to develop the project. They are serving Kubideh, served with baked barbari bread, onion, mint and basil. The sandwich wrapper is printed with interviews from Iranians in Pittsburgh and Iran and spans a range of topics.
I'm completely excited about this project - it's deeply satisfying to see people come together with positive energy and conversation to peacefully address culture and community in a time of war. I wish I had been a part of their first gathering, a dinner held simultaneously in Pittsburgh and Iran connected via Skype and the shared experience of the dinner table. The kitchen will change every 4 months and highlight a different country with each iteration. If you're local to Pittsburgh, be sure to partake in the experience by visiting the take-out stand (it's next to their first ongoing project, The Waffle Shop). Visit their website for information on hours, performances, events and offerings.