Food, Fun and Funk: Smithsonian Folklife Festival Celebrates Its 46th Year!

I have attended the Smithsonian Folklife Festival every year since moving to the DC area. And I am a big fan of this event on the National Mall that features art, dance, food, storytelling and other exhibits that highlight various American and international cultures. So when I was asked to supply huge amounts of my soaps and such for sale at the Folklife Marketplace, I was thrilled!

At the end of last week, I dropped off a rented SUV-full of boxes of products for the Marketplace volunteers to do their magic. And yesterday a friend called to tell me that my products were prominently displayed in the Marketplace tent, so I headed down to take some photos. When I entered the Marketplace, I found that the first three tables were filled with my soaps, men’s products, and Herban Crafts kits!

And the Marketplace is just one of the many features of the Festival. This year’s themes are Campus and Community, Citified, and Creativity and Crisis. I took some photos while I was there, and look forward to really exploring the exhibits when I have more time.

The Festival kicked off last night with a free concert on the Mall featuring George Clinton and other funk legends. The was the first of many free concerts being offered during the course of the Festival.

Citified celebrates the art, music, food and community of the area of DC that sits east of the Anacostia river. As the Folklife Festival website explains, “Citified alludes to the fact that many African American residents living east of the Anacostia River have parents or grandparents who migrated from the rural South, particularly North and South Carolina, and who continue to maintain connections with their southern (although often no longer rural) heritage.”

image copyright Washington Post

Campus and Community features exhibits from several land grant colleges and the USDA, both of which are celebrating their 150th anniversary this year. Several of the colleges have exhibits focusing on the theme of sustainability, such as UC Davis’ exhibit on the ubiquitous problem of plastic bags and the University of Tennessee’s Solar House.

And Creativity and Crisis features the AIDS Quilt, now celebrating its 25th anniversary. In 1987, The NAMES Project Foundation offered hands-on quilt panel-making sessions that allowed individuals and communities to commemorate loved ones, find support and engage in dialogues about how to address the crisis. Today, The Quilt contains nearly 48,000 panels, a portion of which are on display on the Mall.

For those visitors who want to have a hand in adding to The Quilt, participants of all ages will have the opportunity to learn quilting techniques, make panels, and share stories from their own experiences.

The Festival is being held from June 27–July 1 and July 4–8, and is open from 11:00am to 5:30pm.

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Join Us in Brooklyn for the Renegade Craft Fair!

We are delighted to once again be among the artists exhibiting at the wonderful Renegade Craft Fair Brooklyn! The fair is being held on June 23 + 24, 2012 from 11am-7pm each day at the East River State Park (aka the Williamsburg Waterfront), at N. 8th St. and Kent Ave.

We will be at Booth 83. Hope you’ll stop by and say “Hi!”

How to Make Lavender Wands

On a tour of Cherry Hill Farm, a historic Victorian homestead in Falls Church, the docent showed us, among other things, a lavender wand. She explained that Victorian ladies kept them close at hand to mask unpleasant odors (which were apparently fairly abundant in the Victorian days) by daintily waving the wands under their noses. She let us smell the wand mentioning that it was already a year old. The scent was still strong and pleasant. She said by rolling the bulbous part of the wand between your fingers, you can revive the scent for quite a while.

I recalled that one of my herbal books had instructions for making these wands, and since my lavender plant has just started to bloom, I figured I should give this antique craft a try.

The instructions in my book were very hard to follow, especially since they did not have accompanying images, but I managed to figure it out through trial and error. I have laid out the steps, with photographs, to help make this an easy and pleasant experience if you decide to give this craft a try.

1) Cut several lavender stems, making sure they aren’t damp, choosing those with buds that are not fully opened yet. You will want to leave quite a bit of stem to allow yourself to complete the following steps.

2) To make a single wand, select a bunch of stems that have similarly-sized bud clusters. You will need an odd number of stems in order to be able to do the weaving. I like to use anywhere between 9 and 13 stems.

 3) Carefully strip or trim the leaves and stray buds from the stems.

4) Tie your selected stems tightly with a 1/4″ ribbon, right below the lowest buds, but don’t cut the ribbon from the spool at this point. Also, be sure to leave enough ribbon on the loose end to be able to tie a bow once the weaving is complete (I just leave a piece that is about the same length as the stems).

NOTE: If you can, it is best to let the stems sit for 24 hours at this point to allow them to get soft. This will prevent them from breaking when you follow the next step.

5) Bend the stems back over the ribbon and buds, so that it looks something like a closed umbrella without any fabric (and with a bunch of lavender buds underneath it).

6) Now start the weaving process by working the ribbon under and over the stems, gently pulling on the ribbon to make sure the weave is tight.

NOTE: It can be tricky getting the first two rows of weaving started – I often get mixed up regarding which ones go on top and which ones go under. You just need a bit of patience since, once you get to the third row, it gets very easy. I found that the process of making my first wand was really awkward, but after that, it was much easier!

7) Continue weaving until all of the flower buds are covered.

8) Wrap the ribbon around the stems a couple of times and tie into a know.

9) Trim the ribbon, then then the stems, to your desired length.

These wands smell wonderful and make lovely decorations or drawer sachets. Enjoy!

Wordless Wednesday: Farmers Market Finds

Perfect tomatoes. Ready to eat. No adornments necessary.

English peas. Preciously short season. Delicious in Minted Pea Soup.

Fingerling potatoes. Red and white. To be roasted with garden herbs and olive oil.

Strawberries. Last of the crop. Season came early this year. Perfect for Cold Strawberry Soup.

Icelancic lambs wool. Naturally gorgeous brown color. Will be used to make a batch of Fuzzy Soaps.

Peas and potatoes and basil.

Tomatoes and cucumbers. A salad in the making.

The jewel-toned cauliflower would look gorgeous on a crudité platter.

Nice variety of squash. My favorite are the oddly decorative and yummy patty pan.

Garlic scapes have a very short season. They are wonderful in stir fries.

So happy to have Solitude Wool selling their wares now at the farmers market.

How to Make Rose Petal Lemonade

The antique tea roses as well as wild roses in my yard are in full bloom. They look so beautiful I want to eat them. And, fortunately, I can since I don’t use any chemical pesticides in my garden. In the past, I have made cold strawberry rose petal soup and rose petal jelly. This time, I thought I would try making a beverage out of the blossoms. Inspired by a cold glass of lavender lemonade I had at J. Chocolatier in Georgetown yesterday, I thought I would try making my own version using roses.

I picked the freshest-looking blooms in the late morning, after the dew had dried from them, choosing a mixture of antique tea and wild roses for a greater depth of flavor. I removed the stems and stamens, and tossed any petals that looked brown on the edges. In total, I collected enough petals to loosely pack 1 measuring cup.

I placed the petals in a pyrex bowl and covered them with 2 cups of boiling water. I allowed the petals to steep for 30 minutes.

While the rose petals were steeping, I thought it would be fun to make some embedded rose ice cubes. I used a silicone gem-shaped ice cube tray that I had bought a while ago, but never opened. It seemed like a great girly-girl touch for my lemonade.

I also made some simple syrup from this New York Times recipe using organic Fair Trade sugar, then set it in the refrigerator to cool.

Once the rose petals were finished steeping, I strained the liquid through a cheesecloth into a measuring cup and placed it in the refrigerator to cool for an hour.

After an hour had passed, I squeezed the juice of 3 lemons through a strainer into the rose petal tea. I stirred in the cooled simple syrup, added the rose petal ice cubes, and voila! Rose petal lemonade – a perfect summer drink.

Help Us Start Some Good!

Our new crowdfunding campaign went live today on StartSomeGood! We are raising funds to support our new social enterprise, Herban Crafts. The first two versions of our DIY crafting kits shipped today, and are available in our Etsy store. Sales from the kits will help support the social mission of Herban Crafts. Our social mission is to help address the problem of unemployment, a contributing factor to homelessness, by offering a hands-on job and social skills training program for homeless women living in transitional housing with the goal of fostering economic independence.

Our StartSomeGood campaign has a goal of raising enough money to cover salaries for our part-time job skills facilitators for one month and production of 400 kits, the profits from which will cover their salaries for an additional four months.

Our awesome team of job skills facilitators!

I hope you will check it out, share the link with your friends and contribute if you can. We only receive funds if we meet our goal. We are offering some great rewards for donations starting at just $5.00 (I have listed them below, so you can see how awesome they are 🙂 You can also sign up on the site to volunteer or support our efforts in other non-monetary ways.

StartSomeGood is a peerfunding platform for social entrepreneurs to launch and grow innovative ventures we need to improve our communities and our world. They were the winners of this year’s William James Foundation’s Sustainable Business Plan Competition. Here is a video featuring StartSomeGood co-founder, Tom Dawkins, talking about this crowdfunding site’s mission and offering some very helpful tips for those of you who plan to start your own crowdfunding campaign.

I hope you will check out our story on StartSomeGood. Here are our donation levels and corresponding rewards:

$5

Your name will be listed on the Herban Crafts website. You’ll get kudos on our Facebook page and Twitter feed, along with our undying gratitude! + You’ll receive a free download of the full version of “Going For It” by Wytold from his album “When Fulvio Finds Celeste,” featured in our video.

$10

Everything included in the $5 reward + a handmade upcycled Herban Crafts bottle cap magnet.

$25

Everything included in the $10 reward + a two Herban Crafts lip balms

$50

Bud – Everything included in the $10 reward + your choice of one (1) Herban Crafts kit!

$100

Everything included in the $10 reward + your choice of two (2) Herban Crafts kits!

$180

Everything included in the $10 reward + your choice of four (4) Herban Crafts kits!

$250

Everything included in the $10 reward + your choice of six (6) Herban Crafts kits!

$500

Everything included in the $10 reward + your choice of twelve (12) Herban Crafts kits! Perfect for a party activity, or bridal party gifts!

$1,000

Everything included in the $10 reward + your choice of twelve (12) Herban Crafts kits! AND you will receive a feature article in our blog singing your praises. PLUS, you’ll be invited to an exclusive Herban Crafts launch celebration dinner party in DC or NYC, date and place to be determined.