Heavy Holidays

Have the holidays left you feeling Heavy? Celebrations occurred in varying capacities of comfort these past few weeks. Some folks met virtually, while some continued long-standing traditions of holiday splendor. Family gatherings may have been outside with blankets and face coverings, a very unusual experience from previous years. Or–nothing may have changed–traditions met regardless of external restrictions. However you celebrate, or skip, the holiday season, there are many ways to enter to the new year feeling Heavy.

Be it with excessive snacks and high caloric bevvies or with family turmoil highlighting hidden anxieties, the spectrum of Holiday Heavy is as broad as the spectrum of light. Individuals are just like snowflakes- unique and one-of-a-kind. We want to flit about, fly and gather- to be jovial, but the Covid turmoil gripping the globe, consistent political poo-poo, and weight of the effects of governments’ decisions on each of us personally are piling the issues like a blizzard. This weight can make it hard to feel light.

Santa’s Elves to the Rescue

Enter the magical elves of the season to keep things Merry and Bright. If a Scrooge Spirit left you feeling Ho-Hum, there is still time to let Santa’s Toyland shine away the sour. This magnificent gem located at 1174 Red School Road in Caton, NY is a Maker’s Delight. It is a VIBRANT LIGHT spectacular that is a local tradition since 1999. The couple behind this magical scene put their heart and soul into these handmade creations and possibly their entire life saving’s into their electric bill annually to serve our desires. Besides this sweet secret location being within a pebble’s throw from my home quarters, it is offered FREE to the public. Just drive by this country home between the hours of 5:30 and 10:30pm now through New Year’s Eve to see this spectacle for yourself. If you are too distant to see this in person or just want to share it virtually, check out my drive-by video below. This is how we celebrate Christmas Eve in Caton.

In Case You Can’t Visit

While the wet weather washed away our White Christmas, these lights truly sparked the holiday spirit for my family. It is endearing to know how a simple (those lights are not simple!!) gesture can make so many hearts glow. The Creation Station Crew’s gesture – 12 Days of Giving Crafts also sparked many hearts in our community. The Take and Make kits we created flew off our Welcome table as quickly as we could offer them. We are as grateful as the recipients to spread the joy and good cheer. One young Maker in particular found a Friend with Booker the Reindeer. His mom received the last of these 3D printed cuties and we couldn’t be more pleased to see the joyful connection these two have created.

Booker Being Painted

The Air-Dry Clay star project I created finally found its finish line. After working with each star with much patience to create a metal surface effect, they were strung on fishing line/ monofilament and knotted through holes in sticks that were varnished. The final product is rustic, yet elegant. I love the way each star seems to dance in mid-air as they catch a draft from the heater or someone passing. Kinetic art in simple status.

Simple Stars

That background is certainly wretched, but this elf was hustling to finish the projects for Santa’s sleigh. Later in 2021, we’ll discuss photography and quality backgrounds. Those wrinkles and fuzz, low-light and blur are all examples of what-not-to-do. What you should do is register today for the first Kitsch and Kvetch class slated for Tuesday, January 5 at 6:30pm. We will walk through the basics of Cricut Design Space. I’ll source a sweet iron-on decal for you to create on your own. Then, just arrange a time to cut it out at the library. The process is quick and fun. Whether you have design skills, but never used a Cricut precision cutter or have no idea what this means, but you desire some “Me Time,” register with this link and get prepared for a fun evening.

Grow a Grogu

“Such a large bounty for such a small package”. – The Client ❤ If you got hooked on The Mandalorian or just love a little green Jedi with wide ears, this cute model just might be your ticket to the Creation Station Makerspace. We are filling requests to print The Child, also known as Grogu. This model will fit an Echo Dot 3 and looks out-of-this-world when you communicate with Alexa. These babies take a whole day to grow, so warp-speed your requests before Empire Strikes Back.

Ball Drop or Cake Pop

While the Times Square Ball Drop (Google search that line, it’s fun!) might look mildly different this year, it is with heavy heart to relay that my absolute favorite holiday is canceled. Some of you think of January 1 as New Year’s Day. To this Philly Girl, January 1 is and always will be Mummers Day. The tradition is strong in my home where we’ve religiously snuggled in front of the television, even braved the frigid temperatures on Broad Street- followed by the real Parade on 2 Street a few times, to enjoy hours of costumes, dance, and merriment to signify the start of a new year. While I know Philly goes rogue and no one can tell a Mummer what to do, Protest Parades will still occur, just not televised for those of us stuck in Upstate New York. Instead of watching Mr. Mummer or viewing the glow of Waterford Crystal, I’ll make a ball (or several) and eat some emotions as I welcome the new year and bid adieu to 2020. Just think, this new century will be of legal age to drink. Twenty One, here we come!

Make Mummers Part of Your Day

That’s a wrap for this stationary moment. I’ll check you on the flip side!

Ps. Happy Cold Moon! Get outside and look up. The skies are clear for a change in Corning. ❤

12 Days of Giving Crafts

Christmas Bells

We started the Twelve Days of Giving Crafts on 12/12 to boost the holiday spirit. I have been collecting leftover class materials from the year and packaging them as Take and Make project kits for patrons to share or enjoy at home. The Christmas Bells rang in this idea and became a popular feature at our welcome station in the Southeast Steuben County Library. Keep your eyes peeled for this special treat basket on your next visit inside the building. Take one kit to use or pass it along as a gift. Be sure to tag us @ssclibrary on social media and mention #CreationStation ❤

None of Your Beeswax

Beeswax Fabric Wraps have become very popular way to swap out plastic wrap and stay environmentally conscious. This was an in-demand class before the pandemic hit, and one of our last in-person classes hosted inside the building. The surplus of supplies are now packaged sweetly for your enjoyment. There are tons of lovely tutorials to follow. My favorite is from Crafty Patti and I based all of the instructions and ratios using this tutorial. The wraps you create are reusable for many months, and can be refreshed with more beeswax, pine resin, and jojoba oil when necessary.

Take and Make one today!

Another package of Take and Make kits I just released are Air-Dry Clay Star sets. I 3D printed star cookie cutters, rolled out the clay to a thin layer, cut out the stars in various sizes, then poked a hole in a point of each star so it can be hung. After allowing the clay to get leathery, I pressed lace onto the surface for a patterned texture.

Stars and Lace

After allowing these stars to dry completely on a flat surface for several days, they can be painted or sealed. I recommend acrylic paint with very little water. Perhaps my clay was not dry enough, but in experimenting with surface patterning, the clay started to mix with the pigment. I decided that abquick application of paint with low water content and minimal touching of the surface gives best results. If the weather were warmer, I would have taken a quick cover approach with spray paint.

Surface and Texture

I’ll work with these stars for awhile longer until I reach a finish that suits my style. I am aiming for a shiny, yet antiqued appearance. These stars will be strung and hung on a sturdy branch as rustic decor. I was inspired by this cute craft from Think Make Share, but wanted to experiment with a medium other than paper. The results will be revealed next week.

New Progamming

First Tuesdays from 6:30-8pm will be your new favorite time in the new year. Join our modern take on a crafting club where we create the latest trend and learn to make all the things. Snacks to nosh and adult bevies are optional! Sling your hot glue guns and wield your crochet hooks, it’s going to be a fun venture. Supply suggestions will be provided. Participants will collect materials at the library.

by the Chimney with Care

The stockings are hung by our chimney with care. If you want to make a stocking like the ones above, follow this link for a detailed tutorial. For our friends interested in sewing, I have a new addition coming to the 2021 library’s activities calendar. Sew Wednesdays will be every SWOM (Second Wednesday of the Month). These sewing tutorials will premiere on the library YouTube channel at 7pm. Grab your notebooks and a bowl of popcorn as we walk you through the process. Stitch up a sweet project each month following along with a tutorial from the Creation Station. Remember, the library has sewing machines you can borrow to use at home! Mark your calendars for January 13 where we will make Travel Pincushions.

More new programs will be popping up soon, but don’t be shy! If you have a suggestion for a class or request a specific Take and Make, drop a comment or email. We look forward to hearing from our followers.

That’s a wrap for this stationary moment. I’ll check you on the flip side!

Advent

Traditionally Advent is a season, November 29 to December 24, and holds loads of religious significance. An advent is the arrival of something. All religion aside, there are many seasons and reasons to countdown and perhaps celebrate. While the holiday season is upon us, and there are many cultures to consider, we often focus on Christmas. Whether you recognize the birth of Christ, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Yule, the festivals of light have arrived and what better way to prepare than with lots of stars to brighten the long nights? I took to the trusty Cricut precision cutting machine to whip up an advent calendar of sparkling stars that can also be used as gift packages. This project builds upon the origami skills we gained in the Shining Stars class for Maker Monday in November.

Sparkle and Shine

The Southeast Steuben County Library makerspace, Creation Station hosts a Cricut Explore Air and all of the materials one needs to complete this Origami Star Advent Calendar. We have a subscription to Cricut Access, which can only be used in the makerspace, but you can complete these stars with good old-fashioned scissors and origami skills. After running through the process, I would even suggest using origami paper and following the tutorial provided later in this blog. There are some downfalls to the Cricut system that bug me, so I want to give you the heads up on how to proceed with the best success. This project creates twenty four paper stars that can hold a small prize, message, or cash. I took advantage of an extra star to personalize a gift for a relative, then hung it on the tree seen above. (Yes, that is our Jade plant decorated like a Christmas tree! Eclectic we be.)

Thinner Paper Suggested

Although Cricut offers lovely project ideas, their provided instructions lack in many ways. I often feel I am cutting paper or vinyl without a clear view of the steps to the final process. There have been several times when following a project in their design suite, that I have to research better instructions elsewhere in the internet. This project proved to be a prime example. If you search “Advent” in Cricut Design Space, this project pops up in the results. I highly recommend using a thin card stock or paper to construct these. I used thicker card stock, but the folds were tough to crease and the layers of the paper started to peel apart. This is apparent in sharp corners, like the brown star seen above.

The Countdown

I sourced this YouTube video to instruct the proper folding method to achieve these stars. Follow that link to find the best tutorial to guide you to success. A little patience goes a long way. Silver stickers I have had forever were perfect to adhere to the back of each star. I cut numbers to create the count down using adhesive vinyl. A punched hole and fishing line make these stars visually float, since the filament is clear. Add an ornament hook and you’re all set. Hanging these stars in a window on a curtain rod proved to be the most simple approach and festive touch to my holiday decor. I hope you give this project a try. Reach out if you want to learn how to use the Cricut in the Creation Station!

Booker the Reindeer

The Creation Station is starting to provide Take and Make project kits to our patrons. We currently have a daily raffle to win a 3D printed Booker the Reindeer. This model can be found on Thingiverse and printed upon request if you mention this blog post. If you want to enter the daily drawing, follow this link to enter. Each kit comes with an articulated reindeer, sandpaper to smooth the model, acrylic paints, and a brush. If you are a lucky recipient, please share your creation with us on social media. Tag the library @ssclibrary and use #creationstation. We can’t wait to see our fleet of reindeer out in the community!

Christmas Scene

If you happen to stroll through the library this month, take a peek at the Christmas Scene on display near the circulation desk. This project was a labor of love, also made with the aide of the Circut. This paper-craft takes lots of patience and dedication, but has provided a festive scene for several years. If I were to make this again, I would use an archival glue recommended by paper-craft artisans. Some layers of paper are starting to pull apart, but a little dab of Elmer’s glue stick is a quick fix. This scene easily stores in a shoe box and is actually living its fifth season in our care. Give a comment if your family has a paper Christmas Scene passed down through the generations. HOLLER if you are another crazy-crafter who made that scene above!!!

Ringing in the Spirit

As we wind down the year-we-never-could-have-imagined, there is a sweet suggestion spreading on social media. At 6pm on Christmas Eve, assuming Eastern Time, it is suggested to ring a bell for 2 minutes to spread the Christmas Spirit. My family has traditionally banged pots and pans outside around the house on New Year’s Eve. This bell ringing is likely a new addition to our tradition. Have you found this suggestion in your scrolling? Does it also intrigue you? Let us know if you celebrate with bells or lights or other unique ways to make the season bright. Stories unite us and create the blankets that keep us cozy through the long winter. We always look forward to hearing from you. ❤

That’s a wrap for this stationary moment. I’ll check you on the flip side!

I Wet My Plants

The news over the weekend resulted in lots of Americans shaking their tailfeathers.Talk about Dancing in the Streets! The news was so exciting, some of us might have even wet our plants 😛

As we turn the page of this epic election, we focus on the holiday season. That silly quote and image inspired me to “borrow” the idea and dissect it to teach in a program. ‘Tis the gift-making-season and lots of us can settle our nerves by transforming into Crafting Elves.

While I can’t give credit to the original maker of this adorable project, I can guide you to create one just like this. Give a shout if you want to play along. I’ll find a date to create and we’ll Zoom through the tutorial.

Creature Comforts

We Zoomed in October. Just a few weeks ago, we made Clay Birds with Wynn Yarrow for our monthly installment of Maker Monday. Using air-dry clay, round a ball of clay, then hollow it like making a pinch pot. Form a head and body, then create texture on the surface. I like to believe mine is a strong E.A.G.L.E….(oops!…Philly girl, here) or a Phoenix, similar to Fawkes in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. If you would like to experiment with this process, there are still packs of clay and instructions to pick up at the library. To create one of your own comfort creatures, just send me a message or comment and I’ll set aside a Take and Make kit just for you. Remember: the Southeast Steuben County Library offers Curbside Pickup for your convenience.

Register Today for Shining Stars

The next Maker Monday is on November 23 from 4:30 to 6pm. Click here to register. If you miss the event, but wish to join at a later time, I can help make that possible. This project will surely brighten the dark days of the Ember Months. These might deck your holiday decor with handmade flair. If you wanted to make a galaxy of these stars, you can schedule an appointment to use the Cricut precision cutter in the makerspace, Creation Station.

As we creep into the colder season and are still forced to isolate ourselves, our Maker Team is dedicated to keeping us crafty throughout the long, cold winter. Keep on the lookout for Page Kits, take and make craft kits for adults. They will be packed with care by our loving mascot, Page the Owl.

Tiny Trees for Take & Make kits

Tiny trees with LED lights are being 3D printed daily as we prepare for the season of giving. Expect to see some LED Christmas Card kits, too, recycling cards from Christmas Past. The spirit of the season has struck and we are following suit. I hope you can sense the excitement!

Exhibit of original art by Jennifer Fais

In case you visit the library, take a peek at the newest art installation of original art by Jennifer Fais. The hanging system was a generous donation from our new neighbors across Denison Parkway. First Heritage Federal Credit Union invested in downtown Corning and just opened their new Headquarters building across from City Hall. Shout out to the new kids on the block! They are big supporters of the local art community. The bank offers artists quarterly solo-exhibitions through a partnership with The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes. I highly recommend stepping through their doors to check out the art exhibit, Lost and Found by Megan Walsh.

Lost and Found, a solo exhibition by Megan Walsh

Since we are striving to get by, yet stay inclusive in this isolated, digital world, really cool options are popping up. Anyone can virtually visit this exhibition! Just click here to take a stroll through the gallery. Lots of credit goes to the Head Curator and Grants Gate Keeper at our unique arts council, Chris Walters. It’s fun to see how each creative person can reinvent or adopt the wheel, while some of us just wet our plants.

That’s a wrap for this stationary moment. I’ll check you on the flip side!

Makers Moving

Mark your calendars for Empire State Maker Faire this Friday and Saturday, October 16 and 17, 2020! This FREE educational event is geared toward anyone interested in creating and making. Whether you define yourself as a maker or are still determining the definition, I can almost guarantee that you enjoy developing something new or altering things to make them better. Southeast Steuben County Library has partnered once again with Maker Faire Twin Tiers and all New York State Maker Faires to present this weekend of exciting techniques, technology, and tinkering to engage your excitement and entice your inner-artist or engineer. Check out the full schedule for all the deets.

Alternate Inflation Device

Twin Tiers Maker Faire partners, Corning Museum of Glass will present their Alternate Inflation Device used to create hand-blown glass. This technique was developed by the Team at the Studio at Corning Museum of Glass. Using pressurized air to inflate glass is an innovative way to approach this ancient art and allow glass to be created during this pandemic. Check out the demonstration on Friday at 2:15pm.

Monochromatic “Watercolor”

Local artist, Filomena Jack will present a Super Fun Monochromatic “Watercolor” technique. With her quirky style and positive messaging, Filomena is sure to delight her audience with whimsy. Tune in to the YouTube channel on Friday at 11:15am to check out this lesson. Watch any or all of the Empire State Maker Faire and let us know what was your favorite part.

Outdoor Yoga at Caton Park, October 17 at 11am

If you get an itch to hit the great outdoors this weekend, head over to Caton Park on the outskirts of the city of Corning for a vibrant Yoga session with Elizabeth Moses. This will be the last outdoor event planned for 2020! The start time has moved to 11am, so the sun will be out and ready to warm your limbs. *Check the weather and notifications before leaving your home. Three online sessions will be available on Facebook Live on October 31, November 14, and December 12.

Time is limited to register for Clay Birds with Wynn Yarrow. Sign-up by Wednesday to receive class materials in time for the start of the Zoom session at 4:30pm on Monday, October 19. The objects we create will be perfect for gift giving or cherishing for yourself. Check the library’s activity calendar for the next Maker Monday on November 23. We will create Shining Stars with Wynn Yarrow.

SUNY CCC Book Club Meeting Tues, 11/10 at 5:00pm

As we continue discussions of race and racial inequity, our fellow librarians at Arthur A. Houghton, Jr. Library of SUNY Corning Community College have developed a Book Club open to anyone who is interested, whether they are connected to the college or not.  Here are some more details about the next meeting.

The SUNY CCC Book Club will hold its next meeting on Tuesday, November 10 at 5:00pm.  Participants can join us on Zoom using the meeting link:  https://zoom.us/j/93549808634?pwd=QXE3WlFMR0FlUjJxVkQydU5UbktFUT09. You are also welcome to join by phone by dialing 1-929-205-6099 and using the pass-code 170566.

The book for November is The Color of Water by James McBride, a memoir by the author, musician, and playwright known for his National Book Award-winning novel The Good Lord Bird.

There are copies of The Color of Water available at other SUNY schools if you’d like to request the book for pickup at the CCC Library.  Alternatively, many of STLS libraries in Steuben and Chemung counties have print, ebook, or e-audiobook copies available. Follow this StarCat link for details: The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother, by James McBride. We are looking forward to our discussion in November!

Some Light Reading

Page Cache is still running! You have a few more weeks to source and redeem some of those red cache tokens in exchange for a small cone from Dippity Do Dahs Homemade Ice Cream. Page the Owl has been busy flying across the region hiding these prizes in preestablished Geocaching locations. Some clues to get you out hunting start like this. Some light reading is necessary on the Northside. Peter Pan’s Girlfriend is locked in a highly unsuspected spot. Find me if You Can and Resting Near the River hold a similar theme. Down by the Creek and Sitting Watching the Trains (and World) Go By are very secluded gems, perfect for socially distanced excursions. Lost in the Wilderness is more urban than anticipated. The nearby Hobbit Holed eluded Page the Owl, but let us know if you find it!

Rather than give away all the secrets, I encourage you to get out and geocache. It’s a unique adventure to seek out Tupperware in random locations. Anyone who has observed Page the Owl’s meanderings knows first-hand how crazy it may seem, but the addiction to finding all the caches is real. Give a Hoot and Get Hooked!

Preparing Horse Chestnuts for Natural Dye

This week is jam packed with goodies to keep you and your family occupied. Check back next time for some adventures in preparing natural dyes for fabrics. From berries to weeds, the options are endless to creating environmentally safe fabric dyes with gentle hues. Time and cold weather are the limiting factors.

That’s a wrap for this stationary moment. I’ll check you on the flip side!

Patio Pizza Pots

Grow bags are a something I learned about in quarantine. Their name describes them precisely. These are bags meant for growing! Since grow bags are made of fabric, aeration and drainage are optimal versus the common plastic or terra cotta flower pots. They can be sourced online or even made on a sewing machine. While just about any supply was out of stock in stores during lock-down, I was able to purchase this pack of bags from the big name we dare not mention. Although I took the easy route to obtaining these bags, they can be sewn with many types of fabric. A couple of patrons sewed dozens of grow bags in our makerspace, Creation Station to plant sapling apple trees in the making of a small orchard.

How to Sew a Grow Bag

If you have the will to make your own bags, follow these instructions from Northern Homestead. They recommend using weed control landscape fabric to make the bags instead of using it under your mulch in the garden beds. I concur that landscape fabric has little weed control ability and am certainly intrigued to make bags with the roll I purchased, but never used.

The bags I purchased are durable, more so than the landscape fabric will create, but I’m willing to test that theory for curious minds. Perhaps making grow bags will be a lesson we cover in an upcoming #SeWednesday. Whatd’ya think?

Grow Bags First Test with Ginger

Ginger was a crop I learned to grow this season. I also learned she’s a temperamental girl in this Northeast climate. Our spring literally sprung temperatures to both extremes. It was deceptive weather patterns and an anxious gardener that helped hinder the health of the green sprouts you see above, but the grow bags had their first test and won my approval! For a second try, I decided to put to test a program idea that was in development with Bluebird Trail Farm before our lives were flipped for the foreseeable future. Let me walk you through making a Pizza Patio Pot.

Tomato Plant First Aid with Grow Bags

The main ingredient of pizza, after dough, is tomato sauce. A neighbor gifted me a flat of tomato plants–that’s 32 plants! My empty garden beds filled quickly, leaving about 12 plants that still needed love. I took the strongest of the leftovers along with the grow bags and attempted a little tomato plant first aid. Extreme day sun and another frost bit these plants hard, but I wanted to see how much resuscitation I could actually provide, while possibly inspiring some of our readers.

Potted Plants are Happy Again

Using the recipe for Square Foot Gardening, I filled up three bags with the materials I had left. Each bag holds seven gallons of dirt, so I felt it worth the risk to place 2 tomato plants in each bag. I had three beets and three basil plants to add to these pots and decided they could be the most delicious Pizza Patio Pots for any gardener. *I would add beets to my pizza, yes I would. For those opposed to beets on pizza, I recommend adding herbs like oregano and parsley that you like in tomato sauce.

Protection from Wood Chips

After the bags were filled with the growing medium, I wanted to add a layer of wood chips as mulch. As I added the layer of chips to finish each bag, I cupped my hand to cover the tiny basil plant and protect the leaves from damage. I often get lost in the YouTube rabbit hole of curiosities and found these Back to Eden garden tours with Paul Gautschi who recognizes the power of wood chips for bountiful gardens. This was just another layer of experimentation to my experiment. Would the wood chip layer help maintain moisture to the plants, while feeding the plants with nutrients as the chips break down throughout the season? Watch a video with Paul if you have a few hours to be inspired by his admiration for nature’s free fertilizer.

Pizza Pots in Process

Once each grow bag had their layer of wood chips, it was time to water these puppies and let them process their magic over the growing season. We saw the driest June and July in over a decade of living in the Fingers Lakes, so the little green watering can was my best friend for several weeks. I kept the bags on the grass, so water can flow right through, but they can be place on a patio or porch, as long as they receive enough sunlight. Remember water will flow through, so if you might want to protect the surface upon which you place these pots. I found that baking sheets work very well for keeping the water from sitting on a wooden porch step. Any liquid that is collected gets absorbed over time.

The Three Amigas

After four weeks, the towering tomato plants above are those I resuscitated. Either the wood chips or an attentive gardener helped them regain health. Each plant is starting to provide cherry tomatoes. The beet leaves are growing large and luscious. I look forward to a fresh salad with them soon. I implemented branches as a support system so the stem stay upright. You could opt for tomato cages instead.

Jesse Beardslee of Themis and Thread

Join me as we continue the #SeWednesday series, Work with Whatch Got. The talented Jesse Beardslee of Themis and Thread and Hector Handmade will guide us on how to sew an Upcycled Waistband or Separate Belt using materials we already have in our closets. Follow this link to watch the premiere this Wednesday, July 22 a 6pm EST.

When you’re finished with the tutorial, set your scopes for the skies. July 22 is our last chance to easily catch a glimpse of Comet NEOWISE for another 6,800 years! Be sure to reach a high vista for the best view. I am waiting for my chance to show the snapshot skills I built in the Photo Fun with Dan Gallagher class we hosted over the weekend. My Nikon is charged and ready, I hope you are as well.

FREE, LIVE and IN PERSON Yoga Series

We have a terrific announcement for all aspiring yogis. The Yoga with Elizabeth Moses video series we have hosted online since lock-down is now in person at area parks for the next six Saturdays! Please mark your calendars to travel our coverage area and practice sun salutations in together in nature! July 25 and August 1 are our first park visit. Set your GPS for Caton Park, 1180 Riff Rd, Corning, NY 14830.

Stay creative and keep in touch until we meet again.

That’s a wrap for this stationary moment. I’ll check you on the flip side!

e’Scape Plan

My escape plan each evening tends to lead to my garden. Warm weather leaves me craving fresh air and birdsong. A mindful gardener is always at the ready to harvest and process their bounty in preparation of the pending seasons of cold.

It is by virtue of living in the Finger Lakes (#FLX) region that I discovered the delicacy we will discuss today. This type of tinkering is far from the electronic tech stuff we explore in our maker space, Creation Station, but I dare you not to geek out on the genetic code of garlic. It’s a super food and I told myself I’d marry it one day. (Ha!) I believe I’ve achieved that marital status, as the crop is the easiest to maintain and provides two harvests per planting. Garlic is the double duty power plant you need in your homestead (and when I say homestead, that’s anything you call your dwelling—my first “homestead” gardens were in pots and tin cans on a curbside in Philadelphia). Space is not a major concern for this allium. Give a clove a six inch dirt covering to rest inside in the fall and it will show its gratitude as the first green shoot to pop out of the ground in spring.

Garlic in May, before the Scapes Soar

While I’m busy prepping and planting my remaining garden beds in spring, Garlic is growing and showing off. By late June, the flower stem begins to develop and curl. That is the scape. Once the scape curls, I harvest it by cutting it off of the plant a few inches above the leaves, which allows for more nutrients to go directly to the bulb.

More than 2.5 Pounds of Garlic Scapes to Process

Once washed and dried, I weighed my bounty to assess just how much I could make of each recipe I found in this video. I really love the Garlic Scape Powder recommendation, but Pesto and Pickled Scapes are a favorite in our home, so garlic powder will wait until I harvest the rest of the plant in a few weeks. I decided to put up a batch of pickled scapes to eat throughout the year and process a couple cups of Garlic Scape Pesto to enjoy now.

Fresh Garlic Scape Pesto Process

I used the New York Times recipe for this batch of garlic pesto, but there are many options to choose. You can omit the cheese to keep this recipe vegan. The flavor is still wonderful. What I also love about this recipe is using inexpensive sunflower seeds in place of pine nuts. I have replaced pine nuts for walnuts in pesto recipes previously , but am aware that practice is not safe for nut-free homes.

Check out that fresh basil in the lower middle frame above. THAT basil is from a hydroponic plant I got at the grocery store in April. Remember when we made Chunky Knit Planters? Recall that plant in the final product?? Yep, that’s the one! Harvesting from my kitchen table is incredible.

Prepping the Pickles

In order to can the garlic scapes for pickling, I cut off the tips of the harvested end and the flower. Some people prefer to cut their scapes to straight lines for ease of packing, but I prefer to preserve the spiral. We think the curl is the most unique feature of this delicacy, so a little more time in preparation makes for a beautiful presentation.

Steamy Stockpot of Sterilized Jars

Before I start preparing the garlic scapes to be canned, I sterilized the jars in a stockpot with at least an inch of water covering them. I learned from a rustic homesteader that a rack is not required under the jars to protect the glass, so I go rogue. You might choose to follow more strict processing rules at the Ball Jar website. Once the water comes to a boil, I know the jars are sterilized and safe for use. I take them from the water bath to dry and fill each one like it is a work of art.

Filling the Jars

Using a chopstick that I sterilized in the hot water bath, I gently push down each garlicky curl. I work to keep the flower end of each curl up, so that it acts as a handle for the person who grabs it. I ensure no curls are tangled and continue to fill the jar, leaving a half inch of head space. Any straight portions of scape get stuffed in the center to completely pack the jar.

Scapes and Scraps

The bounty of scapes I harvested equaled 6 pints for pickling after making the pesto. The bowl of scraps will go to the compost bin for fertilizing the new crop this fall. Once the jars were filled, I made the brine. This Pickled Garlic Scapes recipe from Home in the Finger Lakes was very helpful and the first recipe I tried several years ago. If you don’t have pickling spice mix in your cupboard, use approximately 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns and 1 teaspoon of dill per pint. If you are a pickling guru, you may have a favorite brine recipe to share in the comments. I put the spices into each jar for equal proportions, then pour the brine over everything, allowing a 1/2 inch of headspace per jar.

Chopsticks help keep down the Scapes

As the brine fills the jar, the scapes tend to also rise, so I use the chopstick as a stopper. I hold down the scapes for a few seconds and watch them blanch into a vibrant bright green. At that moment, they seem to back down from the rise, which allows me to wipe the jar rim and place the lids on top for sealing.

Sealing it Up

We learned in our Homesteading Series at Bluebird Trail Farm in 2019 that the best way to seal your jars is to hold down the lid with one finger, while applying the screw ring with the other hand and twist to close. Then grab a towel to hold the hot jar and tighten the lid with the other hand.

Spicy Pickles

Two jars were reserved as spicy pickles. I added 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper to each jar, then realized I needed a way to mark these separate from the rest of the batch. Using chunks of fresh garlic, I used this as my marking system, which worked better than labeling the jars with marker that could contaminate the water bath.

Get in the Bath!

Each jar was then gently placed into the bubbling water bath and processed for 10 minutes. This gave me time to clean up the kitchen and prepare a pasta meal with pesto and fresh veggies. After the jars boil for 10 minutes, they can be removed from the pot of water and allowed to rest for 24 hours, undisturbed. The best part of the whole process is hearing that distinct “pop” of a lid sealing properly outside of the water bath. It’s like perfect science.

Fresh and Fermenting

I usually take the pot off of the hot burner and allow everything to cool overnight. Once I’m ready to put them up, each jar will be labeled with the ingredients, so we know what’s inside. These jars make perfect gifts during the holidays and are a great addition to any barbecue or pot luck meal. A recent study found that consumption of fermented foods are linked to low Covid-19 mortality. Pickles could be the perfect food, after all.

Zoom on Saturday

Pivoting from the e’Scape plan, let’s talk about future things. There are still a few hours to register for Photo Fun with Dan Gallagher. This class will guide you through using an interchangeable lens camera or SLR. The Southeast Steuben County Library hosted a similar class last summer and all attendees proved better portfolios and family photos with credit to Dan’s excellent teaching.

Work with Whatcha Got

Check out this video, in case you missed the first of a three part series for #SeWednesday. Jesse Bearsdlee guides viewers on how to upcycle or repurpose old clothes into a new ensemble. We learned how to make a bodice in part one. Follow this link to join us for part two on July 22 at 6pm EST. Learn how to Work with Whatcha Got, Upcycled Dress Waistband or Separate Belt.” This video series is made possible in part by the QuickARTS grant program administered by The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes and funded by the Community Foundation of Elmira-Corning and the Finger Lakes, Inc.

That’s a wrap for this stationary moment. I’ll catch you on the flip side!