Come visit us at the Connecticut Country Store!

Come visit us at the Connecticut Country Store!
Smart Folks Shop Local!

Thought for the moment.....

Saturday, January 30, 2010

January 30, 2010

I worked on the website ALL morning (!  I finished the application for local artists and sent it out to artists I know are interested or who I am interested in!  My back is aching from sitting in front of this computer!  I'm off now to Tad and Kathy's to make home brew!  Wish us luck and be well! - Crissie

Friday, January 29, 2010

January 29, 2010

I had a wonderful night relaxing and spinning wool with my dogs by my side and my cat curled up on the couch.  Its the simple things in life that are all we need, sometimes I forget that!  Be well, plenty to do tomorrow!

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Had a great time at my beekeeping class!  We learned about the honeybee colonies.  The queen, the worker bees, and the drones.  We learned about the different plants they like and the best locations for them.  And most importantly, we learn how to keep from upsetting our nieghbors with our new found friends!!!!  There is a great site at  I have 3 more classes :)

Oprah talked about sustainable living yesterday!

I forgot to most the most exciting thing I heard about yesterday! Oprah talked about sustainable living and her guest talked about eating REAL food (I'll have to find it on the internet, I haven't seen it yet)! Grass fed beef, organic fruits and vegetables! Guess where you can find those things?! You got it - Coventry, CT at the Connecticut Country Store :)  Check out this link to Oprah's site!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

January 27, 2010

I had a great time spinning wool with Susan tonight while we watched "The Secret Life of Bees". I cried like a baby. I also had the chance to make a few loaves of Irish brown bread - yum!  Tomorrow I learn about beekeeping - I AM SO EXCITED! Today John looked at tractors, ordered seeds for the greenhouse and ordered potting soil. He worked on the shelves in our basement (our temporary greenhouse), put the displays in the store with Tad, and he's going to pick up the potting soil tomorrow. He also finished painting the baseboard trim in the store! Another couple coats on the countertop and the showroom is almost ready! All of the support from family and friends and new acquaintances has been tremendous, we are truly blessed! Be well!
My sister made us fun mohawk hats for our birthday!  Love them, Leanne!  She will be one of the artists featured in our store.  More of her items will soon be posted on!  Models are John, my beautiful niece Jenna, and I :)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

January 26, 2010

Today was a wonderful day and we got a lot of things done.  The seeds are all ordered!  we've got some great displays headed our way from New England seed company!  We've also got some regular soil to pick up tomorrow (organic soil to follow).  We've got our signs done and tomorrow the displays will be put in the shop.  Tonight I made Julia Child's boeuf bourguignon (actually, I'm making it right now).  It takes hours and they say its wonderful after a day of settling, so John will pack it in around midnight and we will have it - well, whenever we want :)  Be well!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

January 24, 2010 - my birthday!

Today is my birthday, so we had a full weekend of birthday parties between me and John and my sister Leanne, who has shared her birthday with me for 38 years :)  I worked hard on carding wool and cleaning house today after a nice brunch with my family.  I announced my intention of adopting 2 bee colonies and 2 english angora rabbits this year to the excitement of my nieces and nephew - two even volunteering to help me with the bees!  Tonight John and I are going to relax and watch a movie.  Be well!

Friday, January 22, 2010

A beautiful night

A beautiful night here in Mansfield, CT.

January 22, 2010

John had an incredibly busy day making contacts and finding out about contracts.  Today he contacted a local cow milk producer, a farm that produces goat dairy, seed companies, a company selling used refridgeration units, starting the process for the bank accounts and credit card machines, working on the shelves for indoor plant care, and tried to contact the dept of Agriculture..again.  We got our first electric bill for the store, a whopping $13!  Everything seemed to be falling into place for us today, we are thrilled and so excited about this awesome adventure!


My mom and I worked on 2 signs for the store.  John cut out 2 perfectly round pieces of wood and we painted them with the company logo.  THANKS, MOM!  xoxo

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

January 20, 2010

Today was a busy day for John getting all the paperwork for approval on selling dairy and getting all the information from the town hall on setting up the business.  We got our LLC approval in the mail today so we are moving forward :)  Tonight we went out for a business dinner and went through all of our plans and what steps we still need to investigate and steps we now need to take.  John started cleaning out the basement to set up for the plants.  This year we will be using the basement as our growing station until March since the greenhouse at the store needs TLC and more reliable heating.  Our basement has a wood stove and oil heat back up.  We also watched a little Garden Girl TV - Patti Moreno -check her out on youtube or her website at

Spinning wool

Tonight my friend Susan and I got together to spin some wool!  I love this!  It is always so relaxing!  This is a bag of the wool I'm spinning from a sheep from Scotland, CT.  The right picture is the wool after I card it to allign the fibers and clean it up a bit.
This is a picture of Susan spinning the wool.  She's got a roving of alpaca.  She uses her yarn to make the coolest knitted mohawk caps EVER!
This is a side view of my wheel which is an Ashford.  I love it and its the best wheel for a beginner like me!  Now if I could just figure out how to make crocheted mittens.....

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

January 19, 2010 - Happy Birthday, John!

Today is John's 35th birthday!  He had a busy day managing greenhouse orders, seed orders, and working on the signs for the store.  He also had to design a class to teach for CAP (Civil Air Patrol).  We made a quick trip to the Willimantic co-op for groceries, ran home to care for dogs and have a quick bite, and then he went to teach and I went to my friends to bake gluten free cookies.  The cookies aren't half bad!  Of course, biggest loser was on tonight, so I only ate 1 out of respect for the contestants :)  Tonight I will clean and chop veggies and soak some beans for bean salad tomorrow, which I love.  Happy Birthday, John, I love you!

Monday, January 18, 2010


Paper Brick Making

For the past month or so, I've been making oven bricks out of recycled newspaper.  They say, made properly, these bricks will burn for 4-6 hours.  My husband loves that they make it easier to rev up the fire in the morning.
This is my bucket of newpaper that is getting pulpy which is good for making the brick stick together.  To get here, I shred the paper once a week (one bag full of paper will make about 15 bricks).  After its shredded I put it in my bucket in hot water with about a cup of bleach (to prevent molding).  During the week I will visit the bucket when I'm in the basement and stir it around.  This time i used an electric beater from my pottery studio (do not use your kitchen beater!) and mixed it up on top a few times during the week.  This helped out a lot when it came to making the bricks.

After a week, when its nice and gooey, I take the pulp and put in the machine using my fingers to blend it by pushing down from the top (I wear gloves under my plastic gloves because by now it is wicked cold water).  Once I have it filled, I put on the top and squeeze all the water out while compacting the paper.
Once that is done, you take it apart and pop out your paper brick!  I have a grate by my fire in the basement that I put them on to dry.  They dry there in about 2 wks, maybe longer depending on the weather.
There you have it!  Paper bricks - you can recycle and warm your home!

Our first sign

Our first sign!  Being held by our niece and helper Hunter - AKA - Tad and Kathy's little angel :)

My first mitten

This is a picture of my first attempt at a mitten.  I got a pattern from a fellow blogger at - Thank you Claire!  Unfortunately, I am not so good at crocheting yet and I messed up the order of things and didn't quite count the stitches properly.  It is a great pattern, I will take the blame for the crazy way this mitten came out!  I will try again!  I've said before and I'll say it again, this sustainable living can be rather difficult sometimes :)  but well worth it when things come out right....and even when they don't!

We've been very busy at the store cleaning and painting and today - building!  Friend, neighbor, cousin Tad is making us a countertop and it is looking really wonderful, I will post pictures soon!  We got our first sign in the mail and we found a wonderful place to get our seeds to sell - The Page Seed Company.  Today we also painted signs, worked on making paper bricks, and stacking wood for the fireplace in the basement.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

January 16, 2010

Good morning!  It is a beautiful sunny, though cold, morning in eastern Connecticut.  Yesterday John and his mom did some painting at the store.  John got materials to build a countertop with our cousin/friend/neighbor Tad.  John also got to talk to Charlie Popple, the origional owner of Popple's Farm and Garden, which was very productive and helped him get some information about buying supplies, soil, and mulch!  Last night we had a business dinner and discussed how we need to move forward and what we need to do this weekend.  We are going to paint the floor of the store today to prepare for John and Tad building the counter on Monday.  I am going to prepare our homemade signs for my mom to paint on Monday - she is a wonderful artist and not only painted my basement pottery studio, but then painted my REAL pottery studio when I did run my own business (pics are at  We also have plans to measure and move displays I bought for the store at the end of last year, revisit our origional order for plugs from five acre farms to change some pick up times (we have the vege plants for pic up too early), put in a seed order, order hanging baskets (I decided to do some flowers in hanging baskets - we will see how that goes!) and visit/call 2 individuals that can help us with business contacts!  Busy weekend!

Oh, and the greatest news!  My parents, who are social butterflies of the best kind, have invited a few couples who run thier own farms over for dinner at the end of the month!  They wanted to give us the opportunity to meet new people in the business and learn from them.  I'm so excited!  I am going to practice making boeuf bourguignon from Julia Child's cookbook for the party (you can make it a day in advance)  i also want to make my famous (i think its famous :)) carrot creams soup with rosemary and sage, fresh rosemary bread, and a chocolate souffle!!!! (I made that last week)

So much to tell you - ALSO, newly attached on the top of this page, you see a picture drawn of Popples Farm and Garden Center in 1988.  According to Charlie Popple, a woman came in to shop and her husband decided to sit in the car and wait.  While he was waiting, he drew this picture - enjoy!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

January 14, 2010

Today was a long day for me.  I got steroid shots into my back to try to relieve some of the pressure on my sciatic nerve.  Let me tell you something - THAT HURTS!  I tried to go to work afterwards but it was too difficult, so I went home and have been laying on the couch since.  It is very boring.  John had a good day working at the store, discussing orders with the owner of the property (the origional owner of Popple's farm and garden), and coming up with even more wonderful ideas to help market the store.  Tonight I plan to shred newspaper for the bricks (from the couch) and do some crochetting (from the couch) and working on the website (you guessed it-  'from the couch').  They assured me the pain would go away, so i am hoping to be more productive tomorrow!  Tonight I will sneak a peek into my Julia Child's recipe book for the weekend :)  OH, I almost forgot to mention, we are switching to an electric company that uses 100% renewable energy for the business and our home!  I will post that company later, when John reminds me of the name!  Be well!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

January 13, 2010

We have a company making us signs and they are fixing our logo to work with the enlargements ( Tonight I am working on the application for locals artists and crafters, the business plan, this blog, and the website. Poor John is asleep on the couch fighting some bug off we think. He rarely sits still, so when he's asleep at 5pm, you know he's not feeling well!

I'm excited to say that my friend Jeff is going to go to the bee keeping classes with me and he's going to help me this first year to manage the hives. My biggest concern is lifting things because an old car accident has left me with a bad back and I have limitations because of it. I have super friends and a great family, so we work it out!

Last night we had dinner with Jeff and Susan and we made carrot cream soup with rosemary and sage, pop-overs, and chocolate souffle (Julia Child's recipe). This eating only organic and natural foods is a wonderful diet. I wonder how fat it will make me? Tonight was organic tomato soup with homemade rosemary bread fried lightly in butter. So, the answer is VERY FAT. haha!

Well, I will try to get my 'chores' done without waking my husband!

Be well!

Monday, January 11, 2010

January 11, 2010

Today I ordered 2 bee colonies. I have no idea what I am doing, but I am taking 4 classes to learn and hope to be ready by the time the colonies arrive in late April. I will name queen bee one, 'Sugar' and I will name queen bee two, 'Queen Latifa' because of the movie 'The Secret Life of Bees' which I've actually never seen, but plan to. Tonight was a good night in that John and I decided to read for 1/2 hour every night and no more TV, it was a bad night in that we said goodbye to the jacuzzi until March/April. We will strike her up for mini parties, but she's out of commission until it gets warmer. It uses too much electricity. I will be using a heating pad to deal with my back pain until then - not nearly as fun! John sent in the articles of organization for the LLC to the Secretary of the State and looked at tractors today for the business. Tomorrow I will see if I can find a student at UConn who would be willing to help us with our logo so we can enlarge it for signs. John is also talking about adopting two angora rabbits. I can use their wool for spinning and they are wonderful animals, although a lot of work. The kids will love them. We have 16 nieces and nephews and quite a few more very close friends with kids that just might be willing to help with those! Things will start moving faster every day!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

January 10, 2010

Sustainable living is hard work but worth it :) Yesterday I made 15 paper bricks recycling all my parent's newspapers for our fireplace. This morning I cleaned the house to prepare for the week and got my groceries ready to make a delicious carrot soup tonight for dinner - wonderful! Right now i am getting ready to re-arrange my textiles area to get ready to rewarp my loom for mom and my next project making dishtowels and place mats. I have another bag of paper to shred for the fire bricks and some wool spinning to do, too. So much fun work! While I'm doing that I'll be playing a 'how to' tape on how to make homemade beer. My nieghbors/friends/cousins who live very sustainably - they have not bought meat from the market in over a year - they raise chickens, collect eggs, fish, and hunt for all meats, have decided to start making thier own beer and I get to help! Should be fun :)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

January 9, 2010

We got 2 cords of wood delivered today which I know is not entirely sustainable since we have property to chop wood down on and which has seasoned wood where a friend of a friend is clearing. We are making all our foods from scratch and eating organic. I had a lesson with my mom the other night on crocheting which I am getting better at. Today I crocheted a towel at my 'Yankee Fiber Friends' group in eastern CT. John's been doing a lot of work on the business and even more work finishing up our nephew's 1965 Mustang. We are resetting up my pottery studio in the basement while its cold so I can get some work done there. Today for sustainability I will be making another towel, making paperbricks for the fireplace, making fresh bread (rosemary), and making granola for the week. I also hope to clean up my textiles area with some new bins I got last night to keep the cat away from my fiber! Be well and sustain!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

January 6, 2010

We worked on all the legal business yesterday - nothing too exciting! Tonight we made ravioli from scratch using the tomato and basil from our garden! YUM!

Monday, January 4, 2010

January 4, 2010

Turned on the power in the store today! Talked to the small business administration, tried to set up an appointment at the Connecticut Small Business Association Eastern site, and contacted a lawyer about opening the LLC. Got a recommendation for an accountant that we might try. Made a jacket with our store name and emblem! Things are moving!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

January 3, 2010

We worked on the website today. Baked homemade bread for friends and family. Continued to de-clutter our house. Living simply is part of living sustainably and we will do our best in 2010 to make thoughtful choices that are positive for us, for our environment, and for our community. Today we also researched bee keeping, we have a good property for this and love honey. We'll let you know more as we learn.

Our first entry, and so it begins....

This is the first true day in our adventure towards building a business that encourages sustainable living in our community while supporting our neighbors who are farmers and artists. We have a lot of work to do and many changes yet to make in our own lives to move towards a more sustainable life. We will make many mistakes, but will be encouraged by even the smallest accomplishments.

Silky and Cochin Hut 2011

Guineas in their new flight cage!

Easy Bantam Nesting Boxes

Easy Homemade Bread!