food swap first-timer

1 honeycomb brittle swap up close in package 2 honeycomb brittle 3 organic chocolate stout 4 bowling pin pops 5 bidding 6 fudge swap 7 pickled peppers bid sheet pesto swap sign upthe loot

Last month I participated in a community food swap for the first time!  Mary has been diligently working to connect our region with the Food Swap Network (read all about it on their site).  These photos were taken when I joined her at City Market for the Indianapolis Food Swap.  My swap items were riffs on previous recipes made and documented on this blog: Honeycomb Brittle and Porter Candy Apples. I made three types of honeycomb brittle (lavender, toasted almond, black raspberry) and chocolate stout lollipops.  At first I was nervous that no one would want to swap for candy, but as you can see I had nothing to worry about.  I have been enjoying my swap loot ever since, and now because of Mary’s efforts, Northeast Indiana will host its inaugural swap this weekend. I can’t wait to see what swap-chances await; I hope people will swap for cold-pressed black raspberry shrub drink mixes…

shiny brite times

a vintage bead of silver bellsbox shiny brite ornament tin moldsfrosted sprinkle sugar cookieslamp post with colored bulbssnowman tableShiny Brite ornaments were the most popular Christmas tree ornaments made in the 1940’s and 1950’s in the United States. I have an original box set that my grandma gave to me when I had my first apartment, and Christmas tree, of my own. Those ornaments hark back to the time when she and her sisters were the age that I am today. I always keep an eye out for them in antique stores, and it makes me wonder what will evoke memories of Christmases past when I am in my eighties.

It is easy to feel homesick around the holidays, because it’s often a mile marker for realizing that things are never going to be the same. For others, the times seem more joyous and precious than ever, and I need to keep that in mind. I am just missing people right now, but on New Year’s Eve, I’ll raise my cup to the shiny nostalgic memories and hopes for unexpectedly brite futures.

cherries & chickpeas

Those two! I cannot imagine my life without those women. Sometimes it’s funny to call them women, because we met right around the time we turned into teens. I am usually the one to bring up the fact that we are aging, but this time when we reunited, I felt completely opposite. Maybe it has something to do with happy and healthy futures? I am encouraged and just generally glad to have these special relationships.

So what do you snack on in the hot summer air? We had produce munchies and these totally addictive roasted chickpeas that Mary makes. I told her that I even prefer them to Chex Mix! Light summertime eating in the backyard is a fresh way to spend time chewing the fat without literally chewing the fat.

modern (lovers) pastry

I got to see Boston (and my dear, engaged-to-be-wed, friends Emily and Jarrid) for a day at the end of my trip out East last week. The sun was shining, and soon after walking past the Government Center, I had my first ever bakery fresh cannoli from Modern Pastry. Sweet little fried pastry tubes stuffed with sacchariferous ricotta. In my head were the song lyrics, “Oh that feelin’ inside we’re gonna transmit it to life!” from The Modern Lovers. Here’s hoping for future cannoli transmissions to/from my kitchen.

postcards and the city of brotherly love

Isn’t it the best to see something in the mailbox other than a doctor bill or credit card application?  A few weeks back I received a handwritten cardboard apple postcard in the mail, and it has been cheering me up ever since.  It was from the artful and thoughtful Katie, who took on the month of letters challenge and mailed at least one item through the post every day last month.

It was my turn to write, so I leafed through scraps of old end papers from bookmaking projects and sorted out all of the floral patterns (because SPRING is coming, you know!).  This year I am trying not to buy any new paper or fabric until I use up what I already have.  I cropped them into postcard size and sewed them onto cotton paper and the backs of old stationery.  The zig-zag stitch reminds me of a postage stamp.  Sewing paper always takes me back to practicing steady machine sewing in Mrs. Dafforn’s middle school Home Ec. class (we were allowed to start work on our fabric “Super Pockets” once we acheived a certain amount of control and straightness in our paper stitching).

Since I can never do just one of anything, I now have a pile of stitched postcards.  The timing is perfect, because I will be traveling for a few days this week to attend a library conference in Philadelphia.  When I am away I like to write cards, either at breakfast or before bed at night.  For me, it is important to share a bit of the experience I’ve been granted.

If you would like to see something in your mailbox from me, email your postal address to  I have seven postcards unaccounted for, and I would love to write to the first responders.  Oh!  And this will be my first time in Philadelphia, so I would be grateful for any tips you may have to share.