Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Don't Forget! Apply apply apply!

A gentle reminder from us Bees - there are three days left to apply for the Beehive Summer Craft Fair!

We have been receiving exciting packages all week (we love getting mail!) and are very pleased with the number and quality of submissions so far.  For any of kindred spirits out there who expressed interest in the fair, there is still time to apply!  It is going to be a lovely summer, and a wonderful fair.

Please see our Beehive website to download the application and apply!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Cookies for Breakfast?!

For the past year and a half I have been commuting to Oakville for work. During this time I have been constantly looking for a convenient breakfast option that is easy, tasty and not full of garbage. I have finally found it:

The Breakfast Cookie.
I found this recipe on Canadian Living and have tweaked it to suit my taste and pantry. You could make endless variations of this cookie. When I was substituting I kept in mind the original ingredient and tried to match the texture and consistency.

What I used to make one batch of 36 cookies:

2 eggs
½ cup liquid honey
¼ cup butter, melted
1 cup grated carrot, packed
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (I have a sensitivity to nuts so did not use walnuts)
½ cup dried cranberries (instead of raisins)
½ cup finely chopped apricots
½ cup chopped dates
½ cup chopped dried apple
1 cup all purpose flour (this time I used whole wheat)
1 cup minute oats
¾ tsp of cinnamon
¾ tsp of nutmeg
½ tsp of baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup of granola (instead of cereal Os)

Preheat your oven to 350 F with the rack set at the top and bottom thirds.
Next, line your baking sheets with parchment paper, I used tin foil as I never seem to remember to pick up parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, the honey and the melted butter until smooth. Then add the carrots, the coconut, the cranberries, the apricots, dates and the dried apple. Using a large spoon mix everything together until everything is wet.

In a smaller bowl combine the flour, the oats, the cinnamon, the nutmeg and the salt. Once mixed together stir in the granola.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix together well till all the flour mixture is incorporated.

Spoon out about 1 tbsp of batter and form it into a ball. I make mine about the size of a two bite brownie. Place them about 1” from each other on the cookie sheets. You should be able to fit about 12 per sheet.

Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes , until they are slightly browned and are firm to the touch. I put two cookie sheets in the oven at once switching racks after 8 minutes, then leave them in for another 8 mins.

Once they are done, remove them from the cookie sheet with a lifter and place them on a rack to cool. When they have completely cooled place them in an air tight container. They will keep for a few days on the counter, a week in the fridge and two weeks in the freezer.
These little cookies really pack a punch and you will be surprised that you are full after only two.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Location Location Location

When we started planning the summer fair we knew we wanted its location to be on James Street North. It was not just because we wanted our Friday night opening to be a part of the art crawl, but also because we are so excited about the wonderful restorations that are happening to many of the old storefronts in the area, and we wanted our fair to be a part of it all. Plus, I think the decorations we have planned will look pretty great set against the exposed brick walls and tin ceilings characteristic of many of the old restored shops down here. We were all thrilled when we received confirmation on the location and today I am so excited to announce that the fair will be help at the old Friendship Shop at 118 James Street North.

This building has undergone some major transformations since its new owners purchased it in February 2010. The building had been owned and occupied by a family for the previous 15 years or so, during which time its facade was covered in white aluminum siding.

This is the building today. The facade is just one of its major transformations. It's still under construction, but well on its way, and the floors that are finished are stunning. Hollie did a feature a while back on the architect firms office on the third floor- click here to view this beautiful space.

The craft fair will be held on the first floor, in the vacant storefront shown above. Although currently under construction, this really is our dream space for the event. The store that had previously been in this space was called the Friendship Shop. We all feel a little giddy inside that we get to say our fair will be held at the old friendship shop.

If you are interested in being a vendor at the fair, please remember that the deadline to submit your application is next Saturday, April 30th. Visit our site to get all the application details.

Photos courtesy of Jenna

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Craft Books for the Masses

If you've driven through our beloved city recently, you've probably seen the beautiful new building that is our public library. The central branch was recently renovated, and it's absolutely stunning! It's attached to the new Farmer's Market, and has become such a hotspot in our downtown core.

Want to know a few great things about the library? First - it's just a nice place to sit! You can grab a coffee from the market (try this!), find a seat and spend the day catching up on reading. It's cozy and comfortable and nice to look at!

Second - you can make new friends! Every time I go to the library, so many people say hello and ask me about what I'm reading. A lot of times it's really easy to find yourself in a great conversation with a complete stranger, talking about all the exciting new developments happening in the city. When I was there taking pictures, I had a nice conversation with a gentleman who just couldn't grasp the invention of digital cameras. He insisted that film was better. I don't know that I disagree...

Another great thing about the library (and the real reason I'm writing this post!) is the amazing selection of craft books they have. Have you ever thought 'Boy, I'd like to learn how to _____'? If so, you
need to go to the library. Knitting? Crocheting? Calligraphy? Natural dyeing? How about sewing? Needlepoint?

Anna was even able to get books on how to decorate pysanky for our last Beehive project! They have such a great selection, and it's actually really inspiring to see all the possibilities in terms of projects you could try out.

(The Sewing Book by Alison Smith)

Just a few examples of what I pulled off the shelf when I was there most recently:

(The Natural Knitter by Barbara Albright)

(Glorious Inspirations by Kaffe Fassett and
Quilting, Patchwork and Applique by Caroline Crabtree and Christine Shaw)

(Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross)

Honestly - that is just the smallest taste of what you can find. You really need to get down there and check it out if you have the chance. We plan to do some book reviews on the Beehive blog, spotlighting some of our favorites. If you have something you want to recommend (see: 'mother of all craft how-to books' in this post)...please leave it in the comments!

Photos courtesy of Hollie and Meg

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Ambitious Little City

This promotional video of Hamilton in the 1940's made the rounds yesterday on local Facebook and Twitter accounts. But it's just too good not to share with everyone. This short film shows some excellent examples of how beautiful our fair little city is, and it's no wonder that all of us Bees are so passionate about the place we call home. Enjoy.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Our Roots, Part IV: The Farm

Two summers ago, a group of us were toying with the idea of starting a shared vegetable garden somewhere in the downtown area. That’s when our good pal Gary stepped in and offered up a much better suggestion: his parent’s farm had an acre of land that we could use, just outside of the city. That summer, The Farm was born.

The Farm belongs to the Buttrums, a family of farmers (and friends) who have been at the Hamilton Farmers’ Market for seven generations, since the 1880’s. Gary’s parents run the farm and sell their produce at the market. Squash, potatoes and tomatoes are their key crops, but they have grown all sorts of vegetables over the years. When they offered us up some of their land, we were beyond thrilled.

The first summer, we cleared the back acre of land up at the farm and planted our crops as quickly as we could. It was already late May by the time we started farming, so we didn’t have a lot of planning time. We started heading up a few days a week to plant seeds, move rocks, weed, weed some more, and finally, harvest. When the harvest came, it was bountiful. It was also a little crazy. Beans sprouted up faster that we could possibly pick them, and by the time the frost came, we probably had about 300 heads of cabbage that we needed to find homes for. Some of the excess went to the Hamilton Farmers’ Market, but even then we still had too much.

With the help of Gary and his parents, we’ve learned a lot about farming since that first summer, and we’re still learning. Last year more friends came up to the farm, and we expanded our farming area to cover the other five acres of farm land owned by the Buttrums. We helped farm their key market crops, and in return we got to use the remaining land for delicious tomatoes, beets, potatoes, hot peppers, onions, carrots, broccoli, cucumbers, zucchini and more.

It’s hard, but rewarding work. Most of the weeding takes place on your hands and knees, so you often leave the farm a little worse for wear. Still, when the weather is nice, or the sun starts setting, I can’t think of a better place to be. It’s so satisfying to grown your own food and know exactly where it came from, and what (if anything) went into it. It’s a rewarding experience to get back to the basics, and become part of something so sustainable.

We don’t use any chemicals at the farm, and even though we prefer it that way, sometimes the crops suffer as a result. Last year these pesky Colorado Potato Beetles pretty much wiped out our supply of potatoes, and most of the tomatoes suffered from a blight. It’s a small price to pay for knowing we are eating natural, pesticide-free food.

Last summer we grew a little of everything you could possibly think of, and we did our very best to minimize any waste. We planted in phases so that not all the crops were ready at once, and we had a steady system of weeding and harvesting going on all summer. We hosted canning parties, made lots of soups and stews, and organized an outdoor market outside of White Elephant during the art crawls. Everyone from the farm volunteered to help harvest & transport the vegetables, and set up the stand outside of the shop. Hollie’s sister Nikki was often the face of the market stand, and she did an amazing job.

This summer we are seriously stepping up with the farm. We have a ton of new friends who are interested in coming up, and we are taking this job seriously. Gary has appointed Hollie as Farm Manager, so we have someone to help organize and keep us all on track. We’re growing new crops, and bringing in something we are all really excited about: BEES. Some new friends are bringing their 3rd generation beekeeper experience to the farm this summer, and we’ll have our very first hives.

We’re also planning to plant a natural dye garden, full of Madder, Indigo, Goldenrod, Hollyhock and more. There’s going to be a 6 x 20 foot natural dye garden, so you can expect lots of Beehive dyeing projects in the future. The weather is just starting to warm up here in Hamilton, and farming has been on everyone’s minds. I can’t wait to get back out there and get started on all the new ideas and projects we have planned, and I’m sure you’ll hear a lot about it this summer on the Beehive blog. Photos courtesy of Jane, Hollie and Gary Buttrum