Preview….

I wanted to share a “sneak peek” of of the baskets that I will be bringing with me to the Wisconsin Alpaca Fiber Fest. this weekend.  April 23-24,2016 at the Washington County Fair Grounds in West Bend, WI.

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These are only a few of the style and color selections I have to offer!

Looking forward to a great weekend!

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Shopping cart coming soon!

I am currently in the process of adding a shopping cart feature on to my blog!  This feature will be through paypal.  I’m not the most coding savy person….so please bare with me.  You may see some odd features on my site as I work out all the kinks!

In the mean time please don’t let that stop you from making a purchase if you see something of interest!  Especially with the baskets, they truly are one of a kind and I can not guarantee I’ll have anything similar in stock again. 

Thanks so much for taking the time to visit.  Please sign up to follow my blog if you are interested in handmade items, sustainable living and supporting Fair Trade.  Also follow us on social media for all the latest updates of products and events I will be attending!  It’s going to be a busy year 2016!!!!

Thanks so much and hope to see you again real soon.
Gretchen

Roll, Felt, Rinse, Repeat….

I recently discovered a local (somewhat) source for wool roving (one day I’ll have my own sheep, but let’s save that story for another time).  With this spectacular find I have been able to make Wool Dryer Balls, this is something I have dabbled in offering here and there but never had a consistent source of wool to continually offer them.  The response has been so incredible at my local Farmer Market, Instagram and Facebook!  Truly blessed to have such a wonderful support group around me! I have been making these in my sleep to keep up with orders (OK maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration).  I will say that I truly enjoy making them.  It’s a very methodical rhythm, much like knitting, something I haven’t done much this winter and had been really missing!  I think the lack of snow had me in a very uninspired rut!  As our days begin to wind down after dinner, I am able to sit (actually I stand, weird, I know) and wind up the balls.  Bonus (monkey see, monkey do)….on account of my busy handwork, the kids have been finger knitting more, playing more board games, coloring and just all around more creative (guess we were all in a rut)!  Once the kids are in bed I felt them by hand and then into the washer and dryer they go!

 

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Final result is this wonderful ball of wool that you can toss into your dryer (in place of dryer sheets). These are non-toxic and all natural.  I use natural soap to felt them and natural detergent in the washer.  Save money and energy; these help reduce drying time by breaking up the load of clothes and you buy them one time- done!  They last and last!! Looking for further details, please visit my Wool Dryer Ball page!

If you are interested in purchasing some you can email me: thewillowskeep@gmail.com.   All transaction are handled via Paypal.  $11.00 for 2 balls or $20.00 for 4 balls (does not include any sales tax that may apply or shipping).

 

 

 

 

 

Monches Farm; Fall Festival

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“Perfectly Fall” Large Round

Monches Farm, located in Colgate Wisconsin.  I swear I would live here if I could.  The scenery was so endearing that I almost forgot I was there to sell baskets!!!!  I may have to go back one day just for a photo shoot!   Their nursery has unique varieties, their chickens are too adorable for words…seriously they have “slippers”, a sheep pasture, a barn and some of the nicest people you will ever meet.   I attend most all of their annual events.  If you are in the neighborhood I highly recommend a visit!  www.monchesfarm.com

Cinnamon & Oats..

Woke up this morning to a chilly 36 degrees!!! My first instinct…..start bread (along with a cup of coffee, of course).  Something about this turning of seasons that makes me want fresh bread…. and granola!! Since I made granola 2 days ago (it’s already gone),  bread really did sound more appealing.  And I knew we had the time to make it. It really is a long process, yes.  It seems so simple. Mix ingredients, knead it and let it rise.  But, truly, it takes all morning!   Today I tried out a new recipe, cinnamon oat bread.  What a fantastic recipe.  It immediately just warmed the entire house with its aroma.  Just what was needed on a chilly fall day.  I may just have to make another batch tomorrow….after the market of course!

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Apple Season

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Apple Season, (oh how we LOVE apple season) is finally winding down around here.  It seemed to go on forever this year!!  Apples are a staple, so no one was complaining.  Everytime we turned around we had more apples showing up at our door.  My very sweet mother in law brought us oodles from “up north” (you have to be a local to truly understand why this term requires quotation).  We scored a fantastic deal from our co-op.  Finally a good friend, who has apples trees, brought over bushels!!!!  Now we don’t have a root cellar or, anything close to it, for storing apples long term …..so a whole lot of processing is what we did.  Thankfully, I have lots of helpers and plenty of fun apple processing gadgets that my helpers enjoy using!!

So what did we do you ask???

Well, we started with dehydrating.  The coring, peeling and slicing machine was oh so fun to use!!  Then came the apple pies.  We made one fresh pie and then cut and froze dozens of apples for future pies!!  Apple sauce and Apple Butter were next.   I like to make big batches of apple sauce to freeze for future baking.  I also freeze the apple butter (one day I will conquer my fears and just can everything!!!) And finally we finished with JUICING!! We adore fresh apple juice and generally finish off the batch instantly.  So this year I was determined to freeze (I know, I know, freezer again!) a few batches that we could pull out for fresh cider.   I am proud to announce that we have 5 batches in the freezer, well 4. One was pulled out on Halloween. I put it in the crock pot that morning on low, added mulling spices and let it sit all day. We came home from trick or treating cold and dripping, it was a soggy Halloween in Wisconsin this year. That hot cup of cider was just perfect….

Oh, I almost forgot.  We also made apple prints and strung some up to dry with cinnamon sticks!!!    And that was it…. well that and my kids eating apples to their hearts content!!! 

Have I mentioned how much we LOVE apple season.

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Mother Earth News Fair, Kansas…

Mother Earth News Kansas Set up

We made it home safe and sound, stumbling into Wisconsin in the dead of night, but oh was it worth it.  What a fun trip!!!  Not only was the Mother Earth News trip successful and meaningful, but we also did a little site-seeing!!

I love traveling along with Mother Earth News, their event staff does a fabulous job of preparing these events. (Yes, we are pondering Texas in Feb as we speak).  We had a booth right down the way from the Kettle Corn Popcorn man (oh so yummy!) and were right across from the petting zoo (score #2)!  Baby pigs, baby goats, baby cows, OH MY!!!  The kids were in heaven, mainly my little guy,  who I am pretty sure has farming running through his veins.  The biggest downfall to my attending these events is that I miss all the seminars and presentations.  So we are working on a plan to fix that for future events.

As for The Willows Keep, we met some incredible people.  Sent lots of beautiful  Bolga Baskets off to their new families.  And spread the love of Bee’s Wrap all over the place!  It was amazing.   I am always on cloud 9 after leaving one of these.  The connections you make and the stories shared are what it is all about….truly!  Oh, and apparently…. I have an accent!  Ha!  One that is so strong in fact, that it was a dead give away I was not from Kansas!

Natural Pot Basket