Outdoor Life

Picnic Basket Essentials

 photo credit:  food52.com

photo credit: food52.com

Tis the season, summer and picnicking.  Last week's post I told you about 3 picnic baskets locally made here in the U.S. Today I want to help you pack that basket. I did some digging to see what people like to pack and eat on a picnic.  Most of it goes back to common sense, logistics and classic traditional foods.  I will start off with saying, nothing with mayonnaise. It spoils super fast (1.5 hours)  and you don't want a slew of sick people on your hands. (although trash bags and wipes are on the things to bring list). 

Food: finger foods, easy to eat for kids and adults, and most finger foods stay edible. Crudités, hummus and my personal favorite french onion dip, cheese sticks for kids, 2 to 3 blocks of cheese. I had a truffle cheese recently at an outdoor night picnic that was absolutely amazing, so try something different.  Cut up fruit or just bring a watermelon to cut up onsite.  Baguette, crackers, tortilla chips because they can be eaten plain or with the hummus, pickles and/or olives.  Now on to more substantial items, salads, try to skip basic greens because of wilting, substitute the lettuce with kale or a grain like quinoa or farro and pack the dressing in a mason jar so you can shake and apply when you arrive. Caprese salad is always a hit, be sure to use local farmer heirloom tomatoes and a very nice Italian balsamic dressing. I go to L'Albero dei Gelati to buy our balsamic syrup.  A local place in Brooklyn who imports from Italy. It can be expensive but you do get what you pay for.  For the third course, I think fried chicken is always a hit and a cold pasta salad. Brownies or pie for dessert and don't forget the beverages; beer, wine and water.

 photo:  oprah.com

photo: oprah.com

Ok so I told you all the food items, now for the non-food essentials. I try my best to leave a small carbon foot print. Have you seen the signs at the beach, take out what you brought in?  First on the list is trash bags. So easy to forget. Cloth napkins, gingham is a summer time classic, biodegradable plates/cups and flatware or take it up a notch and bring your melamine, acrylic or tin plates. Flatware, once again go with biodegradable wooden flatware or bamboo which you can get quite a few uses out of.  Another option is bring your flatware from home. You can wrap it up in each napkin and tie some twine or ribbon around it. Ready for use.  Corkscrew/bottle opener, salt/pepper, serving utensils and a small cutting board is ideal but not a deal breaker. 

Do you have some favorites you like to bring on a picnic?


Baking, Locally Made

3 Locally Made Picnic Baskets

It's that time of year again, that time to go enjoy the outdoors.  Living in a city, most of us are desperate to get out onto some grassy knolls and away from the hoards of people. Even in Brooklyn where our apartments are right next to each other. We have a great community but sometimes space is nice.  We have many events in the city to celebrate the warm weather. Some of them even call for some fancy dressing and picnicking.  Picnic baskets can be incredibly utilitarian and you can buy a beautiful, quality made one here in the US that is made locally.  Yes made local can be more expensive but think of why. It is supporting someone's job, cost of living in America and the cost of materials. It's important we keep supporting our community whenever possible.  It may be a few dollars more but don't you want people to continue to have jobs? 

Materials used are mainly Appalachian Ash. A strong wood sourced from the Appalachian Mountain Region that includes 11 states in the Eastside of the U.S. The Peterboro Basket Company based in New Hampshire may have my favorite, the Picnic on the Green Deluxe Basket. This is such a fantastic wedding or anniversary gift and it can be personalized.  All of their baskets come lined or unlined. 

Peterboro Picnic Basket on the Green $89.00

The basket has a split lid so you can store beverages in the back and leave open to serve yourself.  When the lid is open it acts as a table for serving. How convenient is that!  There is a dowel to keep your goods from moving around making a noisy journey. The closed section also has a removable tray. Check out the photo above, pie anyone?  And if you feel the classic honey color is too "old timey" there are 4 colors to choose from. Although I tend to gravitate towards the classic, this way I know I won't tire of it in 10 years. One more thing that makes it a great way to celebrate an occasion, you can get it personalised.  Also I don't receive any compensation for my postings. I just did some research on locally made baskets the ones listed are the ones I believe to be nice quality.

Peterboro Picnic Basket on the Green 

Prairie Empty Picnic Basket, another made of Appalachian Ash, woven wood and brass hardware is an open top, classic style.  Many companies sell this style that comes from the Picnic Family Brand who have been around since 1982; Wayfair, Macys, Hayneedle and Houzz to name a few.  The Prairie style is made in the USA.

The Prairie also comes in a lined version. 

Prairie Picnic Lined Basket

The last basket is the 2 Pie Basket. Is that not a great name?! Because of course it will hold two pies. I found this one on Nortons USA. After doing a little digging, I learned that this 2 pie and the 3 pie basket is made by none other than Peterboro Basket Company in New Hampshire.  I am still going to tell you about it because it's such a great alternative. And if you are a baker like myself and are in charge of the desserts you will love this basket. It's smaller than the average picnic basket because it is built to hold the desserts.  It's a simple flip lid and has a tray inside that comes out to act as a table.

You can get this at NortonsUSA.com where they sell exclusively American Made Products! yay! 

So do you have a favorite? Do you know of any American Made baskets that I didn't mention or find?  Next up is what to put in that basket. 



In the Kitchen, Product

Tea Towel vs. Dish Towel

When I work at markets, which is a few times a year, many people ask what a tea towel is and what's the difference between a tea towel and a dish towel.  I usually respond with that a tea towel comes from the British tea time and it's a bit nicer way of saying dish towel .  Some believe that the quality of the towel is what distinguishes it.  Some towels are terry cotton (like a bath towel, a looped weave), flat cotton, linen or linen cotton. 

I found a very interesting article on Huffington Post.  It is  a few years old but still relevant. The author is Jessica Cumberbatch Anderson and she spoke with the American Textile Museum. 

Click here to read

I love the many historical reasons she discovered.  Tea towels are one of my main staples in the kitchen and in my Etsy Shop.  I find them to be totally utilitarian, a great gift when visiting friends for dinner or a longer period and a great gift to get people when traveling.  Are you as big a fan as me with tea towels?


DIY, Tutorials, Sewing

DIY: House Appliqué Tea Towel Tutorial


In my last post I talked about scrap bags and the many projects you can do with a scrap bag. In this post I will teach you how to make one of those projects.  If you want to just go and buy a scrap bag you can visit my Etsy shop. They are packaged in 5 ounce bags for $5.   This is a great beginner project or a project to do with kids.  It's teaching them to use up scraps, lets not waste the fabric and be eco minded . You can buy a blank pre made dish towel or make your own, or use one you already have.   Kids can play around with the design of the layout of the houses, add grass or cement colored fabric to the border, doors can be added to your houses or not.

1. Supplies: Scissors, pinking shears (optional), cotton woven fabric scraps ranging from 1" to 3",  pins, sewing machine or you can hand sew, iron, pieces of felt (optional), dish towel


2. Iron your fabrics. Cut out your houses that are sized from 1" to 3". Cut out your roofs that are 1" to 1 1/2".  I cut mine out with pinking shears and also made my roofs slanted.  For the front of the houses I used a strip of mushroom printed fabric to represent the forest. I am dreaming of a farmhouse some day. 

photo from escape brooklyn


3. After cutting out your houses lay them out on the towel for placement, pin them into place.  I left the edges exposed.  Add any little doors or windows if you want, size should be no bigger than 1/2". I used hot pink wool felt scraps for my door.   Even space them out.  A little trick to make sure your center house is centered is fold the towel in half lengthwise and press with iron.  Place your middle house on this crease.  Things don't need to be perfect, it is a little village. 


4. Zig zag or straight stitch. For my houses I zig zag stitched, and for the roof I cut out with pinking shears then straight stitched.  For zig zag the setting is width of 4 and length of .5. As you sew around the houses you can sew the door on, then continue onto the bottom of the house. 

 finished towel

finished towel

After you complete the sewing, iron once again. All set for your stove, dish rack, or a gift.