Blogs for 2013
checkout the archived city farm blog articles to learn about our takes on farm & city life
checkout the archived city farm blog articles to learn about our takes on farm & city life
The third annual Los Angeles Wine & Food Festival August 22-25th is the quintessential food & drink experience. Culinary talent is complemented by mixologists, sommeliers, beverage directors, music artists, and foodies galore. You are bound to have a good time when celebrity chefs appear, receptions are held, hors d’oeuvres are passed and bubbly is abundant. Below is your go-to guide to get the most out of the ravishing, and can I say scrumptious, occasion.
If you are looking for an intimate dining event, these gatherings may suite you:
1.Lunch at One Pico with Peter Armellino, Matthew Accarrino & Sven Mede
TIME: Friday 8/23/13, 12:00p – 2:30p
PLACE: Dining Room – Shutters
CHEFS: Matthew Accarrino from SPQR in San Francisco, Peter Armellino from The Plumed Horse in Saratoga, Sven Mede from One Pico-By the Blue Sea in Santa Monica.
SOMMELIERS: Maison l’Orée in France, Ramos Pinto in Portugal, Roederer Estate in Napa Valley, Terlato Family Vineyards, & Amapola Creek Winery.
1.Patrón presents Tacos & Tequila at The Bungalow
TIME: Friday 8/23/13, 3:00p – 5:00p
PLACE: The Bungalow
CHEFS: Rick Bayless from Frontera Grill/Red O Chicago / Los Angeles, Josef Centeno from Baco Mercat / Bar Ama in Los Angeles, Ray Garcia from FIG in Santa Monica.
SOMMELIERS: Goose Island in Chicago
1.Hinoki & the Bird Mixology Lunch with Charles Phan & David Meyers
TIME: 8/23/13, 12:00p – 2:30p
PLACE: Dining Room – Hinoki & The Bird
CHEFS: David Myers from Hinoki & The Bird in Los Angeles, Charles Phan from Slanted Door Group in San Francisco, Kuniko Yagi from Hinoki & The Bird in Los Angeles.
FEATURED GUEST: Chris Hopkins the mixologist for The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
For a more interactive experience with cooking demonstrations, Giada de Laurentiis will be demonstrating:
1.Giada De Laurentiis & Friends Cooking Demonstration
TIME: 8/22/13, 5:30p – 6:30p
PLACE: Lobby Level – Dorothy Chandler Pavilion
Exclusively Available with VIP Ticket for Giada’s Festa Italiana
1.Giada’s Festa Italiana
TIME: 8/22/13, 7:00p – 10:00p
PLACE: Between 1st and 2nd Street – Grand Avenue
PRICE: $195.00 VIP: $250.00
For more information, please visit the Los Angeles Wine & Food Festival 2013 official website here: http://www.lafw.com/. Let us know how your experience is, and enjoy!
A few years back I trained a slew of ducks for a movie – appropriately titled DUCK – www.duckthemovie.com
I like training ducks. They are fun and different from your average day of dog training. We have about twelve of them and they all have different personalities and funny little quirks and behaviors. The reason we have so many is because we work and train the ducks for their daily food. As you can imagine, that is not much food, consider the size of a ducks stomach! So when a duck becomes full, we move onto the next one!
The other reason for twelve ducks is because they all bring something different to that table (is that a bad food joke? NO!). One duck may be great with the actor and loves to be held in someones arms, while another runs really fast. Trying to make a slow duck run fast is pointless, just take the fastest of the bunch and use that one.
At the beginning of each job I “audition” the ducks for their new jobs – actions – that they may be required to do. Sometimes we have a limited amount of time in which to train. So for example, using the more “aggressive” duck, the one that always bites you and grabs at things, to train for scenes that require the duck to pull on something, is much easier than trying to coax a more quiet, less aggressive duck into doing it. And therefore using the quieter duck for scenes with the actor is better than using the “grabby” duck, who may decide he suddenly wants to bite the actors nose!
And let me tell you – getting bitten or more realistically “pinched” by a duck, hurts! And leaves a bruise!
What does it mean to be native to a place? I was born in Reno, Nevada (a fact that is fun to share and watch people try to place me in the box they have created for the “biggest little city in the world”). But I grew up in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, raised on rain and tall fir trees. And I’ve now lived in southern California longer than anywhere else. Does that make me a native Angeleno?
In L.A., it’s rare to meet someone born and bred who stayed around. They end up even more fascinating than they might normally be, similar to meeting an L.A. resident who has never dabbled in the “industry”: You learned to drive on the 405? Your school lockers were outside? You had surfing as a P.E. class? You NEVER spent a day as a film or TV extra?
“Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles.”
― Frank Lloyd Wright
Even our signature flora isn’t native. Just one of the iconic palms waving in the Los Angeles sunset is: the California fan palm. All the rest are imports, just like most of us. The gorgeous jacaranda tree, that welcomes summer with its lavender glory in May and June, and drops its beautiful violet blossoms to wreak havoc on your car’s paint job or your home’s new carpets? It’s native to Argentina.
What to plant if you want something truly native? Check out PlantNative.org, a Portland, Oregon-based resource of nurseries, books, and lists that highlight the native plants in your neck of the woods. Search for your state here.
And if, like a true transplant, you want to plant a palm or jacaranda to honor your move to Los Angeles, check out Los Angeles’s Agriculture blog here on how to plant a jacaranda, and see if you qualify for a FREE TREE via Million Trees L.A. – a city movement to increase our tree canopy cover. Read more on the history of L.A. and the iconic palm trees at kcet.org.
How, and how long, does it take for a new place to be home? When you arrive at the airport or find your car under the arrow on the freeway that guides your car in the right direction and internally, you feel a sense of relaxation. That you’ll arrive home, where you know the best routes for traffic and buses, where you say hello to the familiar person at the grocery check out line or your local nursery, where, no matter how long you’ve lived there, you’re still surprised by the unknown and unexpected turns of your town. But it’s YOUR town.
(Photo: Early 20th-century postcard depicting Santa Monica’s Palisades Park. The text on the reverse read, ‘Atop a lofty bluff is Palisades Park, one of the most beautiful on the Pacific Coast, where amid tropical palms and gay flowers, one may rest and view the grandeur of the blue Pacific.’ Courtesy of the Werner Von Boltenstern Postcard Collection, Department of Archives and Special Collections, Loyola Marymount University Library.)
While the origins of Labor Day are a bit dark and depressing, what with American workers in the late 19th century putting in 12-hour, 7-day weeks for little pay, their children out of school and at the mill, earning terribly low wages, today’s celebrations of our labor victories are light and heartening. What are your favorite memories of Labor Days of yore? I always dreamed of a family camp, like in “Dirty Dancing,” with summer romances ending with bittersweet goodbyes and awkward talent shows to send everyone off, back to the cities and desk jobs.
In honor of taking a day off to celebrate a 40-hour work week with benefits, let’s look at what’s happening all around the U.S. this August 30th – September 2nd: Labor Day weekend. Will you be lugging a watermelon to eat by the lake? Or are you staying in the city? Take a peek at city events along the west coast, starting up in the Northwest. (Yummm… coffee.)
Seattle, which was recently identified as the hardest working city in the U.S., clearly needs to take a break. If you’ll be in the area, take a look at this events calendar, which includes Bumbershoot, a weekend festival at the 74-acre Seattle Center., for your music, film, comedy, spoken word, dance, theatre, performance, and visual arts fix.
Portland, OR – PDX Pipeline will give you the info on all the goings-on, including movies in the park, bar trivia nights, and a beer garden on Alberta.
San Francisco – Need a yoga break before you go back to work? The SF Gate’s events list for the long weekend includes “Manifesting the Wisdom of the Body,” hosted in Sausalito. If that’s too much zen, check out the Millbrae Art & Wine festival.
Los Angeles (and beyond) – TimeOut.com offers guides for almost every big city – will you be in Chicago, Boston, New York, or Paris this Labor Day? Angelenos, check out their calendar here to plan your Labor Day festivities – will you go to The Taste? The (free!) Fiesta Hermosa? Or the L.A. County Fair?
How do you celebrate Labor Day? Leave a comment below or tweet a photo or story to us @TheCityFarm.
I’m a book girl. One of my first stops in Portland is Powell’s Books. I lose hours and most of my paycheck in local bookstores like Skylight Books, where recommendations by the bookish staff convince me to buy books I might have overlooked. Growing up, our refrigerator was a bare space, uncluttered by Christmas cards or family photos. However, one lone magnet held both the important info of the family doctor and the quote: “A room without books is like a body without a soul.” (Cicero)
It was true of my literature-loving household, even the kitchen was filled with words, cookbooks and recipe cards, but also our current library books, set aside, face down, spine bent or broken, to save the spot to return to after dinner, the only time we were not allowed to read.
Cicero is also attributed the wise words: “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” Into this outdoor reading room, I’d add a tree for shade. I’m house-sitting this week, and my friends’ back yard is a hill of green growth, with a hammock perfect for a lazy, late afternoon with a book.
Do you have a shady spot in your garden? Even though April’s Arbor Day has passed, you can still plant a tree in late summer. According to Urban Forestry Specialist Aaron Kiesz of South Dakota’s Department of Conservation and Forestry, your best bet might be a containerized tree, planted in a pot, and sold up to one or two years later. Or, better yet, a balled and burlapped tree, dug out of the ground and replanted in your plot of land, an immediate fix for those looking for a shady reading spot.
Kiesz notes the importance of supplemental watering and using an organic mulch upon first planting your tree. “Water once a day for the first 2-3 weeks and once or twice a week thereafter for the next couple years will help your tree establish itself and ensure good quality growth. Organic mulch prevents grass from competing with the tree for water and nutrients. …Mulch should be placed around the trunk at least as far out as the branches reach. Keep the mulch 6 inches from the base of the tree and only 2 – 3 inches deep.”
Check out the Arbor Day Foundation page here for detailed instructions of how to plant your balled & burlapped tree.
“I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do. I feel as if this tree knows everything I ever think of when I sit here. When I come back to it, I never have to remind it of anything; I begin just where I left off.” – Willa Cather (O Pioneers!)
“She was made up of more, too. She was the books she read in the library. She was the flower in the brown bowl. Part of her life was made from the tree growing rankly in the yard.” – Betty Smith (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn)
(Photo courtesy: ThisOldYard.net)
Several weeks ago, I visited Madrid for the first time. The city is beautiful, the people are so friendly, and the Prado Museum is a thrill to see. But…I can’t stop thinking about the amazing meal we had at the Michelin starred DiverXO. The restaurant is intimate, with modern and minimal decoration. Each dish is a work of art, and the service is exceptional. The Asian influenced tasting menu provides an unforgettable gastronomic experience!DiverXO Calle Pensamiento 28 Madrid, Spain
The exterior and interior decor complemented the sensory experience.
When you have my job, you can find yourself in the most interesting places. For the TV show Heroes we needed to place a cat on a rooftop for a quick shot. As you can see by the above picture, getting to the rooftop in an alleyway was no easy feat. Strapped into this contraption was a little nerve wrecking, but you have to put your faith in the professionals you work alongside and trust they know what they are doing. It was a little wobbly at its fully extended height I have to say. Luckily we had an awesome laid back cat called Baxter that we used for this shot. Nothing fazes him and he pulled this off with no problem. Definitely not your average day at the office!
The picture below is of Chrissie (in the green shirt) my fellow cat trainer. I took this from my position, she was helping place the cat on the roof. Notice she is strapped in for safety also.
Look up – what do you see? (If your answer is clouds, or an airplane, or smog, bring it down a notch.) The rooftop of a building may look all business from your sidewalk stance, the edge of stone and glass, but it might be a green oasis, helping to cool down your asphalt jungle.
The Sierra Club compared and contrasted two such rooftop farms in New York City: “To visit [Brooklyn Grange], take the R train to 36th Street in Queens. Climb to the street, escaping the subway breeze that smells like hot iron, and walk two blocks east on Northern Boulevard. Enter a nondescript six-story office building. In the elevator, push the R button for “roof.” After the bald guy with a briefcase steps off on floor three, wait for the doors to slide open again. You will be met by a disorienting burst of sunshine and a view of the Triborough Bridge, and your best New York don’t-mess-with-me scowl will be directed at a lovely row of eggplants.”
New York is leading the way in urban farming: there are at least 7 green-growing rooftops that cool down the city that never sleeps, in contrast to neighboring blacktop roofs, where that dark dearth of life absorbs the summer sun and raises the city temperatures to as much as 7 degrees higher than surrounding areas. Plus, according to the Sierra Club story “there are 17 ground-based farms in the Big Apple and 1,000-plus community gardens, far more than in any other American city.”
I don’t know about you, but come September and October, the hottest months in L.A., I’d love to find green ways to slow the rising mercury on outdoor thermometers. Have you ever asked your landlord about leasing a little extra space at the top of your building? If you live or work where there’s a flat rooftop, consider the benefits of growing green up high.
Communities can learn lessons from Seattle, where the UpGarden is a rooftop space for approximately 120 gardeners to manage their own food-production, built and maintained almost entirely by volunteers.
If you have limited space to grow greens, check out American Community Gardening Association to find your own row to hoe. Do you dig in the dirt alongside your neighbors? Tell us your story here in the comments, or via Twitter @TheCityFarm and @RebeccaSnavely.
Oh, the lazy, hazy days of late summer. I get a little lost this time of year – endless sun confuses me, and all I want to do is dip in a pool and read a good (if slightly salacious) book. I remember the competing emotions of childhood summers: longing for lazy summer days to go on forever, but waking early in August to bike to school, checking the class list posted on the locked door. I’d learn if I was placed in a favorite teacher’s class, if I’d be cruelly separated from my best friend, and I’d start to dream of that first day of school and what jeans I would wear.
Do you have late-summer blues? Do back-to-school sales thrill or depress you? I’m not a mom, but for some out there, those ads are a blessed sign of structured days to come. Kristen, the writer behind Rage Against the Minivan, admits her hilarious top five reasons why her kids need to scurry back to class here, including binge-watching the not-so-kid-friendly Netflix series, “Orange is the New Black.”
What are your ways to beat the summer doldrums? A great way to embrace the sunny days is through travel, even if only to a new, unexplored neighborhood. Pack one of The City Farm’s bags – The Weekender if you’re staying overnight, or one of the Design Africa bags for a day trip, tucking into it all the necessities for exploring a new neck of the woods.
Handmade by artisans in Africa, these bags are great totes for a day exploring new places, or make beautiful back-to-school gifts for students to pack along notebooks, snacks, and a proverbial apple for the teacher.
Artisans carefully create the natural sisal and banana fiber satchels with hand-sewn cowhide leather handles. Which will you choose? The Wide Striped Khaki Satchel? The White Striped Satchel? Or the Camel Striped Satchel? Or one of each?
Where will you go for your last summer getaway? Tell us in the comments, or on Twitter: @TheCityFarm. If you have the itch to plan your days, hunt down some city guides or local bloggers to guide your adventure. But sometimes? After you’ve picked your general place, it’s great to turn off your smart phone, and let the day (or bus) take you where it will. The act of unplugging = an invitation to adventure. Pack accordingly.
When I think of gardeners, I imagine zen, friendly folk – taking the time to carefully water, prune, and talk to plants. They compost their food and find the right mix of soil to encourage a tree to grow, hunch over seedlings in a hat and funky colored garden gloves to protect themselves from the sun. But apparently, if you grow your own greens to make your daily menu, you are a REBEL. “To reclaim…control over one’s food, to take it back from industry and science, is no small thing: indeed, in our time cooking from scratch and growing any of your own food qualify as subversive acts.”— Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food.
In a brave new world where your next burger may have been raised in a petri dish, more and more people are discovering farm to fork restaurants in their neighborhood, and growing gardens to supplement their daily meals.
What is your favorite way to eat fresh foods? Forage, in Silverlake, sources local farms for their delicious lunch and dinner menus. A recent menu gives a mouth-watering example of their always-changing food fare. My first visit was during stone-fruit season, and my green salad was surrounded by juicy peaches in a light balsamic dressing. Many of their growing community share their green lives online, as well. Check out their blogs here.
Wendell Berry, in a conversation with Michael Pollan, said, “Wildness can extend from the wilderness all the way into the city park. … Thoreau said (wildness) is the salvation of the world … it’s also the health of the world. There is a wilderness that we don’t know much about. … It’s underfoot, every square foot of healthy soil. And we have to maintain that wilderness underfoot, in order to keep eating.”
Where is your wilderness in the city? Are you growing a rebellion in your backyard, harvesting peppers, tomatoes, zucchini? Have you ever hosted a community meal with your crop? Do you have a favorite farm to table joint in your neighborhood? I’d love to hear – leave a note in the comment section here, or tell us on Twitter: @TheCityFarm and @RebeccaSnavely.
Photo: Forage menu
Have you thought about growing grapes for your very own vineyard and wine? I was reminded of a dream of another life as my boyfriend and I escaped Los Angeles and drove into central coast wine country. My fantasy features driving an old farm truck through my vineyard, inspecting grapes, a rangy dog, a mutt of indiscriminate origin, grinning next to me. I pour glasses of home-grown wine for friends at my outdoor dinner parties. Apparently my dream is possible on a smaller scale, even sans truck and dog, if I were to grow backyard grapes. Check out the University of California’s site to learn more about growing from vine to wine!
Though I love my life in LaLaLand, I needed the escape, to slow down, roll down the windows, look at wide open landscapes. This last weekend I tried very hard not to over-pack (a problem of always wanting options!), put some summer sweaters and sandals into the City Farm weekender, and the boyfriend and I drove up to Cambria, one of our favorite spots along the central coast. We found a place for sleep and morning coffee via AirBnB, and spent the rest of our weekend sipping local wines, eating fresh food, and catching up with old friends at our annual college reunion.
Before meeting up with our friends and their broods, we drove to Paso Robles, in search of a winery and the viognier we had enjoyed with seafood paella at dinner at Robin’s. We headed inland from Cambria, a gorgeous drive through golden hills dotted with trees, verdant valleys, and hillside vineyards. I didn’t think I could be happier, til on a whim we pulled into SummerWood winery to try a tasting.
We were greeted by the most informed intern I have ever met, a Cal Poly student who walked us through the varietals and growing practices for specific regions. It didn’t take much to convince us that their viognier was the best I’ve tried. If you want to grow your own vine to wine, viognier might not be right for you, as it requires the hot days and cold nights of that particular part of Paso Robles, but I do recommend you drink it while you plant the best varietal for your region. Delicious and light, it has aromas of honeysuckle and flavors of orange, peach, and apricot, with a hint of vanilla.
We bought a few bottles for special occasions as well as some to share with our friends: “mommy juice” for the parents overwhelmed with a weekend of five families of young children. Two of our college friends married in Central Coast and have settled in to a little homestead in Arroyo Grande, a few miles inland from Pismo Beach.
Wendi, who loves to garden and creates her own floral arrangements out of vintage ties, now has space for chickens, barrel gardens (to protect her greens from gophers), and a place to pitch colorful tents, where the offspring of the five families camped out over the weekend, running around the yard, chasing chickens.
Their house is tucked into the valley, where an ocean breeze makes for a lovely, moderate climate. Though it is not often hot enough for tomatoes until the fall, spinach, zucchini, kale, and chard grow wonderfully well there. Wendi’s two wee ones love to snack on snap peas and make fresh zucchini bread. The chicken coop is home to 12 girls, some rescued, some adopted, commanded by two grouchy grande dames that are the most beautiful of the bunch. They all run free most of the time, eating the family’s scraps and creating compost for the garden, as well as laying up to seven eggs a day.
It was a lovely getaway to chilly coastal climes and hot valley hillsides. What’s your favorite way to escape the city in summer? Are you thinking of growing vines to make wine? Check out that University of Caifornia site, or California Vineyards for advice on planting your grapes based on microclimates, soil, and sun. What might work in your yard? Comment below or tell us via Twitter: @RebeccaSnavely & @TheCityFarm.
The Dream Street Foundation provides nationwide camping programs for children with chronic and life threatening illnesses. Children with cancer, blood disorders, and other serious diseases are given the opportunity to enjoy activities they would normally be restricted from due to their illness.
At present, Dream Street operates programs in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Mississippi and New Jersey. Dream Street is completely volunteer operated, including counselors, medical staff and administration. There are no paid salaries within the Dream Street Foundation. Dream Street is a public non-profit corporation. Camping sessions are free of charge to those attending. Dream Street brings the dream of normal childhood activities to reality for these children. It is an environment in which no child sits on the sidelines or has to worry about feeling different.
City Farm spent the week at Dream Street, our foundation that benefits from 10% of your City Farm purchase. Dream Street truly runs to the City Farm core values and beliefs, our very own Patty Grubman as the co-founder 25 years ago; we started our quarterly charitable support program with one dear to our hearts. Words cannot describe the magic that happens at this camp, some have described it as Willy Wonka come to life, heaven on Earth and a place where you can never have too much candy, ice cream or fun. This years camp these is Dreaming through the USA. We’ve been to Hawaii, Nashville, the glitter of Vegas and the big apple of New York!
To learn more about Dream Street, visit their website at dreamstreetfoundation.org. We are so proud to be supporting this organization, and have truly been blessed to have experienced this week here at camp. Please comment and and write in to me if you have experienced a program like Dream Street or have another charity in mind for our next quarterly support.
Born in the 70’s, my early memories include John Denver crooning from the over-played record about country roads taking him home. And though we lived in the city, my mother’s green thumb made our house feel a little more country garden than the busy four-lane thoroughfare outside our tall fence might suggest. Growing green served as much of my mother’s interior decorating, adding color and life to corners, swinging from the ceiling on braided chains, rustling in the breeze from the open windows in summer and fall.
How do you decorate with plants, bringing the outdoors in to your city space? Take a look at Design Sponge’s collection of creative ways to display your flora, from re-purposing goblets and mugs to verdant fern rooms.
An added bonus of growing green inside? Plants that remove harmful toxins from your home. Be sure to befriend these beauties, best know for their detox habits, including the areca palm, known for adding moisture to your air, and the peace lily, which “excels in the removal of alcohols, acetone, trichloroethylene, benzene and formaldehyde.” Because really? Who needs formaldehyde in the kitchen? Check out EnglishGardens.com for more ideas of healthy indoor plants and the best light for them to thrive.
Are you a DIY kind of designer? A bike wheel, kitchen cooling rack, or a tree branch are other options Sunset suggests for hanging green in your home. I’d love to know how you decorate with indoor greens: please leave a note in the comments, or tweet a photo to us at @TheCityFarm and @RebeccaSnavely.
A visit to the farmer’s market on Larchmont, just south of Paramount Studios, where movies are filmed and visitors take tours, you’ll find folks pushing babies and being dragged by the family dog at the Larchmont Village Farmer’s Market. Every Sunday, shop is set up, and you can wander through to taste fruits, spreads, & breads, while your toddler discovers her musical genius in the drum circle set up for kids to bang, shake, shimmy, and in general, get their groove on.
Make sure to pack enough totes with you (perhaps one from the City Farm, like this gorgeous Enfants Strap Tote?) to pack home all your finds. Will you leave room for a new, adopted, furry member of the family? There’s often a kitty and dog rescue group on site, tempting you to take home more than just organic fruits and fresh flowers.
Have you been to the Silver Lake Farmer’s Market– where there’s a bounce house and loads of vintage clothes? Or the Hollywood Farmer’s Market, a larger space filled with food, clothes, street musicians, and events (has anyone taken notes from a cooking demo there)? What is your go-to farmer’s market? Tell us here in the comments or on Twitter @TheCityFarm.
Home Grown Jack-o-Lanterns (and Pumpkin Pies)
I love Halloween – the air is crisp, walkways are lit with jack-o-lanterns, adorably costumed kids traipse neighborhoods demanding candy, and adults are allowed to let their freak flags fly – sitting in an office cube dressed as a banana (it’s the last minute costume buys you always regret).
Don’t be last minute this year – it’s never too early to start planning your costume and planting your pumpkins to make your very own, home-grown jack-o-lantern (and pumpkin pies, and pumpkin cheesecake bars, and … the list goes on over at BHG.com). Northerners may be out of luck on this one, but for us in the southern states, the Farmer’s Almanac notes: “pumpkins require a lot of food and a long growing season (generally from 75 to 100 frost-free days) so you need to plant them by late May in northern locations to early July in extremely southern states.”
While the modern day jack-o-lantern is very American, the pumpkin being native to North America, the first jack-o-lantern was carved in Ireland, based on the legend of Stingy Jack and his drink with the devil. Tradition has it that after Jack tricked the devil time and again, Jack’s ghost was banished from both heaven and hell, and was sent off into “the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the earth with ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as ‘Jack of the Lantern, and then, simply ‘Jack O’Lantern.’”
According to History.com, “in Ireland and Scotland, people began to make their own versions of Jack’s lanterns by carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes and placing them into windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits. In England, large beets are used. Immigrants from these countries brought the jack o’lantern tradition with them when they came to the United States. They soon found that pumpkins … make perfect jack-o’-lanterns.”
Pumpkins are also peculiarly American as they want wide open spaces to flourish, but don’t worry if your outdoor space is too small for your pumpkins to spread their vines – you can also grow pumpkins in big 5 to 10 gallon buckets, or opt for the miniature varieties. I can already see the Pinterest photos of mini-jack-o-lanterns lighting the walkways for wee trick-or-treaters. Check out the Almanac for growing tips, and tweet us photos of your favorite jack-o-lantern or pumpkin recipe: @TheCityFarm & @RebeccaSnavely.
Photo credit: Playing in the Dirt
What better way to celebrate your freedom this 4th of July than painting a book and turning it into a piece of art? I’m normally not one to champion the defacing of books – except for notes in margins and exclamation points at favorite lines and underlining meaningful passages and dog-earing whole pages. Apart from that, respect the written word! Unless you can turn a thrift store find into this gorgeous wreath.
Grab your glue gun, follow this easy, DIY step-by-step tutorial, and welcome your guests through your door. But first, you have to get them to your wreath-worthy door. Consider ordering these personalized invites from Etsy’s WhirliGigsPartyCo:
Or from SilverLineDesignTeam:
I favor Mason jars for all things drinkable, like this idea from Better Homes & Gardens. Throw in some freshly picked strawberries, mint, or cucumber for added refreshing flavor. With the top & straw, these are like adult sippy cups! Perfect for running around a backyard with a sparkler.
Once your party-goers have a drink in hand and are relaxing in your backyard, they won’t be able to miss grazing from a table of yummy, fresh fruits, caramel corn and hot dogs, decorated with vintage touches like these, as beautifully featured on Lia Griffith’s blog:
And remember, simple touches will bring vintage Americana to your 4th – Coca-Cola in glass bottles buried in a big bucket of ice (try the ones imported from Mexico with real sugar – so delicious), blueberries, red delicious apples, cherries, bright flowers. And don’t forget a sparkler or two for dusk!
How are you celebrating your Fourth? Will you be watching fireworks? At the beach? A lake? A farm? Are you in another country and swapping Independence Day traditions with the locals? Share your DIY ideas and favorite 4th memories with us, here in the comments, or on Twitter: @TheCityFarm. Happy 4th! Enjoy~
(Sparkler photo: House to Home)
And sometimes you find yourself working in Hawaii for five weeks…