I discovered these compostable cups made of a sugar industry derivative called “bagasse” while partaking in my weekly cup of solar-roasted cacao drink at the Farmer’s Market. That’s my used cup in the photo above.
Online environmental products store Branch carries a complete line of “bagasse” dinnerware, and at $2-4 for a pack of 50 they’re an excellent alternative to the typical woodpulp, plastic, and styrofoam disposable cups and party plates.
I have just returned from my local Farmer’s Market (which also just happens to be the best Farmer’s Market, ever) where I was lucky enough to score a piece of Maria Solakovski’s amazing organic Spiced Fruitcake. I’ve been buying Maria’s cake for the last few holiday seasons and while I have tried other fruitcakes I can say with all certainty that Maria’s is by far the best I have seen. Here’s how Maria describes them:
“All organic vegan incredibly spiced fruit cakes are unlike anything you have tasted. Densely packed with dried fruit…apricots, figs, prunes, sultanas, hot hot crystal ginger, brazil nuts and tons of handmade lightly syruped citrus peel — lots of lemon and some orange likenesses. All of this soaked, for some time, in plenty of dark jamaican rum and the lemon juice from those skins.
I mix this jewel like fruitiness with a wee bit of stoneground spelt flour, some flax seed and a hint of vanilla infused evaporated cane juice and kicking spices like black pepper.
Aren’t they pretty? I bought a few extras last year to give as gifts but I think we ended up cracking them open when people came by for visits instead.
In addition to baking delicious fruitcake, Maria is also a chef (using the name “Guerilla Gourmet“) following in the tradition of the slow food movement who hosts small brunches and dinners serving only organic food available locally and seasonally. I was warmly treated to one of Maria’s dinners last spring and can’t say enough about the experience. Eating one of Maria’s meals is not like eating out in a restaurant. It’s an educational and interactive social event in which diners are invited into Maria’s home and spend an evening together at a large table learning about the food they are consumming and interacting a group of strangers they might not otherwise meet out in the world. Each course is a mystery until it is served, but you can be guaranteed that you’ll come away inspired and having learned something new.
I bought this Hibiscus rosea plant back in May at the Parkdale Horticultural Society Annual Plant Sale. At the time the plant was a wee cutting but just today it opened its first bloom with two buds on the way. I generally dislike the over-bearing tackiness and waxy leaves of tropical hibiscus plants, reserving my interest for ‘Red Burgundy’ okra, a relation that produces delicious fruit and beautiful, yellow flowers with crimson centers. The delicacy of the Hibiscus rosea plant and its’ pretty variegated foliage (white and green with pink splashes) is what drew me in, and, well, the frantic nature of the plant sale is very conducive to out-of-character impulse buys.
The tag states that the plant has variegated foliage with pink flowers but I would describe the flower more closely as shades of red. It has a dark red spot in the center, gradating from light pink to pale red along the edges. Don’t be fooled by the photo, my plant is only 12″tall with 3″ wide flowers. Isn’t it cute? And with its red, white, and green coloration it makes a slightly-less-than-typical change from the usual holiday season plant fare.
I was just thinking… seems like THE HOLIDAY SEASON is here, or something. I am very good at shutting out that which I would rather not see but with the powers that be pummeling us over the head with it earlier and earlier every year, it’s kinda hard to miss. Really, I don’t hate the holidays, what I hate is the assumption of obligation and the fact that while so many people start out with good intentions MANY seem to be in a passive-aggressive snit by mid-December. I think we should all just agree to collectively stay in bed in our pajamas watching 80′s era teen movies and call it a day. How’s that for Peace on Earth!
I don’t like giving or getting a bunch of useless crap that carries all kinds of layers of guilt and I sure don’t condone adding to that burden by HANDCRAFTING something that will only find it’s way to the thrift store pile once the guilt wears off — that’s a drag for everyone involved. However, I also really like making and receiving homemade gifts. It keeps me off the cold, winter streets and away from the madness of the mall, and becomes it’s own form of Holiday-related art therapy. I enjoy thinking about the giftee and hatching a plan to make something suitable to them, their personality, and taste.
I compiled this list of Affordable and Homemade Holiday Gifts for plant lovers a few years back. Some of the projects are kits or items I have made and some are ideas that give the gift of time rather than material goods. For example, I have been making these Herbal Bath Teas for a long time and often make a few extras as a gift to myself. A Garden Help I.O.U is one of the best gifts I can think of for a gardener since many of us could use an extra hand with some of the difficult chores.
Sure you can buy inexpensive Forced Bulb Kits just about anywhere these days but I guarantee you that what you can put together for the same price will be of a much higher quality. Most of the kits I see come with ugly plastic pots and lousy soil — don’t let the fancy box fool you. Many of them have been sitting on the shelf so long that the bulbs are dessicated, diseased or dead by the time they reach the recipient. You can put together a much nicer kit using a thrifted ceramic container, quality bulbs purchased at a local nursery (where you can hand-select the bulbs yourself), and a bag of reasonably good soil. Don’t forget to let your recipients know they can save most bulbs and plant them out in their garden next year. Amaryllis bulbs can be kept for several seasons too.
Of course I can’t write about gifts for gardeners and burgeoning gardeners without mentioning the 2007 You Grow Girl Calendar or the You Grow Girl book. The book itself also has instructions for a number of projects I have made and given as gifts including: a groovy gardening apron, chalkboard pots (don’t forget to include a stick of chalk), herbal teas (including easy-sew, reusable tea bags), gardener’s hand salve, gardener’s journal, and more.