Friday, September 9, 2011

update-moving the blog

So i decided to actually have a website for Project Small in addition to all of the other things happening (ie. shop, backyard, patchwork and other projects) more of the same but some new additions too!

from now on check out Project Small blog here:

from now on all posts will be located on the link above!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

a short stop in New Mexico part 2- A tale of 2 chiles

(welcome to Chimayo...)
(and Hatch!)

Our second day in New Mexico was all about heat, and I am not talking the weather. I have been really looking forward to getting my hands on the amazing chiles of New Mexico for Backyard in a Jar The Hatch chile items were uber-popular last year and let's face it, heat is a big thing and sells well.
The first part of our day was spent heading up north to Chimayo a small village north of Santa Fe. Known for textiles & chiles, it is also a place known for miracles.
The main part of Chimayo consists of a some shops, places to eat, holy areas for prayer/ceremonies, a few chili stands and 2 churches that are worth the drive up itself...i have never seen anything like this-truly beautiful. The interior of one of them, the Chaple of Santo Nino de Atocha was like a Spring garden inside with floating banners of peace, joy, love....branches with ceramic flowers and birds...INCREDIBLE to see in person.
(unfortunately photography was not allowed in either place-you will have to go see inside yourself)
 (can you believe this door!)

(got several bags of these...coming soon to you!)

(we also bought this beautiful ristra for my mother whose birthday was on the 10th)

Of course you cannot think "New Mexico chile" and not think Hatch...named after the tiny town in southern New Mexico that grows this hot and popular chile...anyone from this state knows this before they know anything else. Fortunately for us, the time we happened to be in Hatch is right when the harvest begins...we loaded up on over 200# of fresh, dried and powdered varieties of this pepper.
(trying ristras on the spot-she was a little shy)

(a few peppers drying in the sun)

(roasting for a couple from La Puente...i might want to pick one of these up next year)

I focused on green powders from Chimayo and red for sure to look for these and some other canned goodies in the next month!
Our vacation is almost over....

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

a short stop in New Mexico part 1

Our trip to 127 may have been a total shotgun ride across the country, but we made it a point to take 5 days traveling home so we could make a few stops, one of which was a few days in New Mexico.
Our first day was spent by and large in Albuquerque where we stopped by some favorites and encountered a few new ones.
Before i go on, i can't help but mention that Gustavo and I we on the constant look-out for Mr. Walter White or Jesse Bateman...we are having some serious Breaking Bad withdraws and none of our hotels seem to be having AMC.
(dear Holiday Inn Express, please work on that!-image from

(otherwise known as...)
Our first stop, literally as soon as we got off I-40 was the popular Chili Addict shop where you can pretty much find anything hot (especially a fantastic collection of out-of-print cook/garden books which of course purchased). Bought a few gifts, some red-chili honey (yowza!) and some things that will make a few great classes in the coming months...
(talk about being overwhelmed with hotness!)

Directly after (mind you we haven't even checked into our room yet) was the NM-uber-popular Blake's Lotaburger. If you haven't been to Blake's, this is basically what you are missing: In-N-Out smothered with NM Hatch green chilies-DELISH! If you are driving though this state (and Blake's is ONLY in NM), it is worth the stop just to try them out-just do it!
(chili fries- tell them you want GREEN CHILI added to the fries or you just get fries with chili...kind of confusing but i know you can do it)

After a quick rest, we headed over to the downtown area. The area very much reminds me of Santa Ana-lots of new businesses coming in owned by young people. Lots of handmade, local food type things coming in. We had a nice meal at a new place called Farina and even better was the cute little shop next door called The Octopus and The Fox where i bought a super cute pillow with the NM flag on it made from old sweaters...they place totally reminded me of my Road Less Traveled Store...

Alas, we didn't run into anyone from Breaking Bad but we still have tomorrow...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

127 preserves, tips and next year!

(a post-127 surprise...hells yes!!!)
One thing that i didn't cover too much but we bought a lot of was preserves. Pretty much every time we saw them we bought. Here's a list of some of the things we are going to be eating once at home:
  •  pickled tomatoes, crab apple jelly, blackberry jam, green tomato ketchup, elderberry jelly, red peach jam, half sour pickles, grape-muscadine jelly, Tennessee moonshine jelly, key lime jelly and sweet potato butter...lots of inspiration.

(i also managed to score a number of old school preserving books and one on smoking seafood Florida Cracker style!)

Tips for the 127 Yard Sale (if you go to previous years HERE and HERE you can get all of the tips for the sale, but as far as new ones):
  1. One thing that i found really useful on this trip was bringing your own canvas bags-we all have them I know but they will get a lot of use out here. Plastic bags are heavily used in the area so if you want to eliminate waste, for sure bring your own.
  2. Saturday was incredibly HOT, more than the other days and what really helped was putting a thin towel in our ice chest that morning and using when it became unbearable-that and freezing a bottle of water in your hotel the night before is a great tip for those who really cannot deal with the heat to well.
  3. NOTES: this is what i am starting to do NOW. Take notes of where exactly you found your favorite vendor (town, park, etc) and what kinds of things you found there-this will help you fine-tune your shopping and cover more ground.
  4. Know where the banks are!: we were starting to run out of cash (most people DO NOT accept checks and yeah right on cards) and Wells Fargo (one of my banks) was nowhere in the prepared.
  5. Set a realistic budget: i went over, i admit and i should have prepared for more, the more i do this trip the more i can get a handle of how much i actually want to do.  I will be honest with you, prepare on spending $100 a day (i did not do this)...but for your first time this is perfect i think...of course more is better but do you have the room to carry it all back??  think about that too!
  6. CAST IRON SURPRISE: if you take I-40 from Nashville to Memphis you will cross the Lodge Cast Iron factory store-hells yes!  I know you probably have just went through 200 miles of vintage cast iron madness but if you are looking for new, you have to stop here!  Located in a South Pittsburg about an hour outside of Nashville, the factory store has this backroom where they have "mistake pieces" or not absolutely perfect quality-WELCOME TO THE GOLD MINE! there is a ton  of stuff for basically wholesale (but minus the super expensive shipping). Picked up some Christmas gifts, a wok, grill for our stove...about 15 pieces for less than $150!
(very overwhelmed)
So do you want to do the yard sale, but really would rather spend the $$ going on a tropical vacation and not treasuring hunting in a wet sauna??  don't have the patience to drive across the country just to drive on a hwy for a few hundred miles just to drive back home?? too busy in August to make the sale but want some unique items for you home, business or gift???

We will be doing this trip for as long as I can and would be happy to do some personal shopping for you! If you would like for me to do shopping for you on 127 or another adventure that i go on, please email me at the following email address and i will send you over a form so that you get the items you have always wanted-just for you!...i will even pick you up some cast iron if you need me to (because i am for sure going back there again).

    Monday, August 8, 2011

    127 yard sale: signs from the trip!

    One of my favorite things about the sale are all of the signs. This has been a part of every trip so far and here is a collection from this year's trip.

    (DREAM barn!!)

    127 yard sale day 4: Crossville-Chattanooga

    The final day of 127 for us it a 60 mile drive to Chattanooga. During this part of the trip, there are 5 places that i like to stop. But if i had to/running out of $$, there are 2 main places to do business. This is what we did on our finally day.
     (the car is officially max-out!)

    1. My favorite vendor: we had a few short stops, but really i didnt want to spend any money when i knew that we were getting close to my very favorite vendor on 127-Buck Creek Antiques. I keep forgetting where exactly Buck Creek sets up shop, but i know it from sight so i guess that is the most important thing (we are thinking close to Pikeville).
    Every year, i have written about Buck Creek Antiques and just how lovely their displays are.  Unlike most of the booths along 127, Buck Creek is not super cluttered or a mishmash of whatevers. These are carefully selected items that have been cleaned, oiled and cared for and set for presentation...treasures are laid on Native American/Mexican blankets and textiles that compliment the colors and story behind each of the items. Not to mention their prices are incredible and they are so friendly-worth the drive.
    (an OLD bullet extractor-right below the rolling pin)

    (a beautiful tool box with a worn leather handle)

    (Buck Creak also carries a select amount to photographs-i LOVED these)

    (all sorts of beautiful spurs, axes and knives-very Western in theme)

    (tool box, 2 Pepsi boxes, mule shears, scale, kettle holder, cast iron muffin tray and a few other goodies)
    2. The second place that we like to go to is at the tail-end of our trip. This part is a little of a windy/curvy drive so if you have folks that get car sick, then you might want to go around this. The Signal Hill area of TN has one big area with about 50 booths and hitting this area on Sunday is perfect: vendors do not want to load up on heavy/bulky items and there is such a great selection that you can score some pretty good deals. Bad thing: you are running out of money and pretty much over the heat, humidity and general being out in the sun for hours on end.
    Over the years we have been building up on cute bar items and with the new couch (in a coming post) left us a space to create a bar area in the living room. One thing i have been looking for is a bar cart.  This last location we found a perfect one in this Martha Washington sewing table. It was in excellent shape with deep containers on each side for booze or tall items. I guess it was a big thing in the 1920's...we got an incredible deal!
    (we also scored a peanut barrel with the price!)

    The guy we bought it from was taking a ton of pictures of us-he couldn't believe that we were from California and we were coming out "for THIS??"...taking pictures of our car loaded up with stuff-he thought we were funny. 
    This is by far the most I have ever had on one trip and I am already planning on more for next i write this post, we are heading into Memphis on the I-40 and back to California...meanwhile i am doing an inventory list and back to work.

    In a few hours i will post about the preserves, personal shopping/tips and my favorite signs from 127.  i will also post an image of everything out of the car when we unload-should be interesting to see how much we actually fit in here!

    Sunday, August 7, 2011

    127 yard sale day 3: Albany-Crossville

    Welcome to Tennessee!
     (Native American-wolf butter churner??  not this time)

    (i am still hitting myself for taking a picture of this but NOT BUYING it!)

    Saturday was a big shopping day-I bascialy went though my "allowance" and i have yet to visit my favorite vendors (all on the last stretch on Sunday, especially my very favorite vendor)-at least i know now much i SHOULD bring next year.
    Met an overly-excited born-again Christian who insisted on giving me a "diploma" and 3 stones (2 with Jesus and 1 red one for his blood?)...very nice but then wanted a hug...sorry but it is WAY too hot and sweaty outside for that, i won't even grab my guys hand! But before i could say no, he was in full embrace-oh well!

    While on the trip i have been doing a little personal shopping for a few people. This is something we are definitely going to do for next year (why not make a small business out of our vacation)! Working on the deets and will posting something in the wrap-up about it.
    Here are some of the things i picked up for the people who wanted items:
    (my friend Karen for her ice cream shop MotherMoo Creamery)

    (for my friend Amy-the levels are for me)

    (using this at the shop)

    (ice block grabber-thingie...ROCKS!)

    (this one house had AMAZING finds, we got a ton of stuff-coming up on a Good Food post!!)

    Tip #3: Northern TN on 127 DOES NOT have reception for several hours.  No calls, no internet, no GPS...nada so plan accordingly.

    it was nice to see familiar vendors and how their operations were growing-many had added tents, more BBQ stations, just over more-congrats on growing!!
    (this vendor added an area where she was boiling soap on site!)