Archive | August, 2012


A tomato from the garden.

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Best breakfast


Peach, tomato, and basil salad for breakfast again. This one was made with two beautiful heirloom tomatoes (one red and one yellow) grown and given to me by my friend Seth. Best tomatoes I’ve ever tasted. Thanks bud!!

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Good morning

Morning Yerba maté, brewed for myself and visiting friends from the leaves grown on the plant in my windowsill. The tea smells earthy and sweet.

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It’s trash night on the east side. I’m always amazed by what people put out on the curb, especially with a Salvation Army within a mile of so many homes on the hill. Considering the white piece for studio shelving…

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Green beauty


The jalapeño peppers I planted in the spring are bearing fruit!

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A healthy addiction

Mustard greens from Arcadia Farms.

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This morning’s package-free herbal tea—mint and lavender.

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Breakfast love


Visiting friends in NYC. Rooftop breakfast. CSA produce, nuts, granola, cheese, and the most delicious blackberry jam I have ever tasted—made by my friend Caitlin with berries grown by her parents.

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‘Tis the season

Bulk cherry, grape, and pear tomatoes from Wishingstone Farm.

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Fertile Underground

Stopped into Fertile Underground. I was excited to see that the shop has come along since the last time I was in. They’re doing some wonderful things with the space. I’m so grateful they’re in town. Their bulk section has grown and they now offer some spices. Fantastic!

This bitter melon caught my eye. I had never seen it before. Apparently it’s grown locally. Kim of the Fertile Underground staff offered me some wonderful information on what it tastes like and how to cook it. She recommended stir frying it with other asian vegetables. I brought one home and did just that.

The posters in the windows of Fertile Underground reflect the values of the business. This Eating with the Ecosystem poster is an advertisement for a dinner series designed to raise awareness about New England marine ecosystem sustainability.

“This is not trash. This is future dirt.”

An educational poster campaign produced by ecoRI. It’s a beautiful thing. If you live in the area and don’t have an at home composting setup, you can bring your food scraps to the Hope Street Farmers Market at Lippitt Park in Providence (9:00am-1:00pm) or to the Go Local Farmers Market at the Barrington Congregational Church (9 a.m.-noon) on Saturdays and ecoRI Public Works will compost them for you. See their compost guidelines here.

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I’m excited about this one. Flax seed pods from the garden. The precious few. I don’t have the space to grow enough to cook with, but it’s been edifying to see how this little seed that I purchase and consume in large quantities grows. I’d love to see it farmed… some research to do.

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Container garden

I arrived home to find my container garden happy and healthy, thanks to my friends who watered it while I was away. Lot’s of good food in the works…

Oh my gherkins!


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After a wonderful extended play in Maine, I’m back home in Providence. I set up my dining table. It works well in this space, and more importantly, the knockdown joinery enabled me to fit it through the very narrow (27 inch) doorway of my 225 year-old apartment. I’m interested in modular, quality furniture that can be adapted to a wide range of living spaces. In particular, tiny spaces.

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Soap finish

I love this chair for it’s design (beautiful lines and joinery) and craft, but also for the materials consideration that went into it. In addition to choosing recycled upholstery, Reed chose to finish his chair with soap—a natural finishing option I mentioned a few posts back. I got to see first hand what it’s all about and now I have finish envy. The process is so… well, clean. Mix soap flakes and water, lather up wood with a saturated rag, then buff suds. The rag used to apply the soap can be rinsed and dried and used for each consecutive application (the idea is to build up the finish on the surface of the wood) and because the process is self-cleaning, that same rag can be repurposed for another job afterwards. The soap looks and feels great too. Matte and silky—a surface that asks to be touched. I love the idea of the soap being the only thing between you and the wood. No chemicals, no skin irritants. When it’s time to refinish, just wipe it off and reapply. I can’t wait to try it on a project of my own.

Unfortunately, the flakes come in a stretch plastic bag. But a little bit goes a long way. The polymerized tung oil finish I used on my table comes in a steel can (pictured a few posts back). A spoon in the drill chuck makes the soap frothing go much faster. A fork would work even better… and an immersion blender would be perfect too.

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My friend and assistant teacher built a dining chair this week. A conversation about seat upholstery options led to a decision to search local thrift stores for used leather garments that could be repurposed for the piece. After a few misses, we hit an indoor merchants co-operative that showcases the goods of about 20 different dealers. One dealer’s section boasts a sign that reads, “Home on the Range”. Bingo. Leather cowboy boots, suede fringe jackets, vests, and skirts adorn the display walls. After careful consideration (and a bit of dress-up time), two suede skirts were chosen.

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Working on some clothespins from some of the offcuts of my projects.

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Dump run

Made a dump run with a friend from wood school yesterday. A couple times a week, the fellows collect barrels full of wood waste (offcuts, shavings, and dust) from the studio buildings and truck them out to the Mid-coast Solid Waste Corporation in Rockport for processing. Solid pieces are dumped separately from the dust and shavings, which get deposited at the wood chip pile.

Woodchip pile.

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Good Tern Natural Food Co-op and Café

I checked out Good Tern Natural Food Co-op and Café today. Another great local bulk goods source located in Rockland, Maine. They had an impressive variety of spices.

I was so excited to see seaweed in bulk at Good Tern. Wakame, Kelp, and Dulse. It was the first time I’d come across it loose in a jar and not in a cellophane wrapper or stretch plastic bag. I’ve dreamed of package-free, homemade seaweed soups and salad.

Got some miso soup in my stainless steel container from the Good Tern Café.

Beautiful local produce!

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Non-toxic options

I went back and forth on what to use to finish my piece. My teacher and I discussed a number of natural, environmentally gentle options. At first I really considered trying a soap finish—which is just what it sounds like. Soap flakes whipped with water to a frothy consistency can be applied straight to wood surfaces to seal the pores. It’s a popular floor and furniture finish in Denmark. Over time, a patina will form and the finish can easily be refreshed by rubbing the soap away and reapplying it. So appealing.

But for a dinning tabletop that is being spilled on and wiped down regularly, soap might not the best choice. I also thought about using a “salad bowl finish”—straight walnut oil perhaps… But in the end I went back to Tung oil, which is what I used on my bench. It’s harder than walut oil and maybe a bit more durable. I’m using Sutherland Welles Botanical Polymerized Tung Oil. My teacher is a fan and when I read about the company’s mission and the product details on their website, I decided to go for it. The Di-Citrusol thinner speeds the drying time. So far I have two coats applied. I’ll report back on the results.

My teacher also turned me onto Old Brown Glue—a non-toxic, organic animal hide and bone glue modified with urea. My classmates and I each received a free bottle (the first plastic bottle I’ve accepted in quite a while… can’t remember the last product I got in plastic) to try on our projects. My table design left me with little to glue up but I did have to join the four legs to the apron stretchers that run along the length of the table. I loved using it because it has a 20 to 30 minute open time that allowed me to carefully position and clamp my work. Yellow glue (Titebond) expands a lot and sets up quickly, which stresses me out a bit. Old Brown Glue is also bond reversible. From a restorer’s point of view, this is preferable when repairs need to be made. Yellow glue is stronger than wood and we’re not sure how it will behave over a great amount of time. PVA (polyvinyl acetate) glues have only been around since the 1950s.

So as I continue to reconcile my desire to be a maker of things with the responsibility of the waste that’s created in the process, I’m grateful to learn about products like OBG. Thanks Tim.

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Hot plate dinner on the steps of the CFC studio building. A healthy and delicious meal to end a day of work. And a little lawn gymnastics to go with it.

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Getting close…

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Garlic at Beth’s Farm Market in Warren, Maine.

Gladioluses in the bench room. The flowers are free with your purchase at Beth’s.

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