March 2014 archive

Mesh Carrot How-to – Under $30

carrot headerThe Brits may have fooled generations into thinking that carrots improved eye-sight, but your eyes are not tricking you here! Our mesh carrots are lookin’ good this season, revamped at $30.

Here’s what you need:

Link to buy products here.

We like the look of paper mesh, but plastic, deco mesh holds up better outside.

Mesh Carrot Supplies - 1/2 Work Garland, 10" Orange Paper Mesh, 2.5" Green Paper Mesh, Asparagus Bush

Mesh Carrot Supplies – 1/2 Work Garland, 10″ Orange Paper Mesh, 2.5″ Green Paper Mesh, Asparagus Bush

Mesh Carrot - Step 1

Mesh Carrot – Step 1

Step 1 – Straighten out your 1/2 of the work garland on a table. Open the orange mesh and let the roll fall to the ground while holding on to the ribbon’s end. Working with the roll on the ground is much easier. Pinching the ends of the ribbon with both hands and bunch your way to the center. Using the springs on the end of the work garland, twist the bunch with the springs like using bread ties. Once secured, find the widest point of the ribbon and pinch and bunch your way to the center of the ribbon, again. Secure to the same set of sprigs.

Mesh Carrot

Mesh Carrot

Work your way down the garland frame, finding the widest point of the ribbon, pinching, bunching, and twisting to make a straight line of single poofs. Try to tie the ribbon in as close to the frame as you can get since you will be adding more poofs to the sprigs.

Mesh Carrot - Step 2

Mesh Carrot – Step 2

Step Two – Starting at the top of the garland again, make another row of poofs, but only down to the sixth sprig. You can make the poofs at the top larger to accentuate the shape of the carrot.

Mesh Carrot

Mesh Carrot

Now, make one more line of poofs down to the fourth level. There are 7 levels of poofs – 1st has three poofs, 2nd has three poofs, 3rd has three poofs, 4th has three poofs, 5th has two poofs, 6th has two poofs, 7th has one poof.

Mesh Carrot - Step 3

Mesh Carrot – Step 3

Step Three – Make your bow. Watch the how-to video here.

Mesh Carrot - Step 4

Mesh Carrot – Step 4

Step Four – Tie in your bow using the wire frame.

Mesh Carrot - Step 5

Mesh Carrot – Step 5

Step Five – Tie on the asparagus bush to the back side of the wire frame. You can use floral wire to secure it.

Mesh Carrot - Final Product

Mesh Carrot – Final Product

There’s your fool-proof, cost friendly way to add a super cute pop of spring to your front door! Even I can do it!

-Elizabeth Michael

“Modern Pioneering” by Georgia Pellegrini + 30-Minute Fresh Mozzarella

Today we’re excited to share the release of chef and author Georgia Pellegrini’s new book, “Modern Pioneering: more than 150 recipes, projects, and skills for a self-sufficient life.”


Georgia has been a regular visitor to the Paul Michael store through the years and has featured a number of our items on her website. She has also done several book signings in our Lake Village store and will be doing one in our Lafayette store in April, so stay tuned! Today we’re having her share a recipe from her new book as well as tell you more about her food philosophy. First, be sure to watch the Official “Modern Pioneering” Video Trailer:

In Georgia’s Words:
I read a quote somewhere recently that said: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Climb mountains not so the world can see you, but so you can see the world.”

For the last few years I’ve been offering women a chance to try new and daring things, giving them a safe space to fail and laugh-until-it-hurts in the process, to cheer each other on, and embrace each other when they had success. My Adventure Getaways have continued to motivate me to find new and accessible ways to offer a broader audience the opportunity to “step off the grid” in their own way, even if it’s just from their own studio apartment in the heart of the bustling city.


I set out to create more recipes and projects for a self-sufficient life, with the idea that self-sufficiency is not only the ultimate girl (and boy!) power, but also brings you immense joy whether you are a full-time homemaker, a busy professional, or simply looking to do more by hand.


My new book, “Modern Pioneering” is full of recipes, projects, and skills for a self-sufficient life. This is your guide for how to delight in the vegetables growing on your fire escape, to mark the seasons by the scents of the herbs growing on your windowsill, lit by the mason jar lantern you’ve made with your own hands. Whether you’re living on your rural homestead or sharing a studio apartment, Modern Pioneering is all about learning how to step off the grid in your own way, one that is uniquely yours.


Divided into four parts, The Garden, The Home, The Wild, The Rest, Modern Pioneering includes more than 100 recipes, small space gardening advice, DIY projects, and superwoman skills.


I hope the book empowers you to be more self-sufficient and brings you a ton of joy and fun in the process! It is available wherever books are sold for the first time today and can be ordered HERE.

As a bonus incentive, anyone who sends a screenshot of their order by midnight on March 4th to, gets free bonus content sent to their inbox!


To get you all started and into the Modern Pioneering spirit, I wanted to share one of my favorite recipes, Fresh Mozzarella Cheese.

Silky, stringy fresh mozzarella really can be made in only 30 minutes, so long as you have the right kind of milk. In general, the key to cheese making is to find the purest form of milk possible, one that has not been ultra-pasteurized, since the high-heat treatment of the milk will prevent curds from forming. Raw milk is the best option if your state allows it; otherwise, search at farmer’s markets and health food stores for whole milk that is as unadulterated as possible. Even organic milks can be ultra-pasteurized, so read the labels.

Cheese-making kits are available with everything you will need other than milk, but you can also buy citric acid tablets and rennet online. If you want to make the curds in advance, store them in an airtight container for two weeks, or freeze the curds and reheat them. Save the whey, which you can freeze and use for baking high-protein bread or even scones.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Inactive Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Makes 12 ounces

1½ teaspoons citric acid powder, either tablet form or powder form

¼ cup nonchlorinated water, such as spring water, distilled water, or filtered water from a Brita or other filtration system

1 gallon whole milk (not ultra-pasteurized; raw milk works best)

¼ rennet tablet (vegetable or animal) combined with ¼ cup of cool nonchlorinated water (also comes in a liquid form, and the proportions remain the same)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Fresh herbs, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, red pepper flakes, chopped garlic, or other optional seasonings

Sprinkle the citric acid into a large, nonreactive stockpot. Pour in the nonchlorinated water and stir to dissolve the powder, with the heat off.

Pour the milk into the citric acid solution and stir it vigorously to combine. Turn the burner to medium heat and let the milk’s temperature rise to 88°F if it is raw/unpasteurized and 90°F if it is pasteurized (use an instant-read digital thermometer). You may see the milk begin to curdle, which is what you want.

Remove the pot from the heat and pour in the rennet solution. Give the mixture a gentle, circular stir for about 30 seconds. Then use the spoon to stop the motion of the milk so it will be still. Place the lid on the pot and walk away for 5 minutes if the milk is pasteurized, 10 minutes if the milk is raw or unpasteurized. When you return, the mixture will resemble a very soft custard, with a clear separation between the curds and whey (the liquid that separates from the curd). If this hasn’t happened let it set for a few more minutes.

With a long knife or offset spatula that reaches to the bottom of your pot, cut the curd into a 1-inch checkerboard pattern. This will separate the curds, making them easier to stir.

Return the pot to the burner and stir it gently over medium heat until the temperature of the whey reaches no more than 90°F for raw or unpasteurized milk and 105°F for pasteurized milk. Remove from the heat and continue to stir for about 5 minutes.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer the curd to a colander set over a large bowl. It will look stringy. Slowly spin around the colander once the curds are in it to allow the whey to drain from the curd, which will now have a soft-cheese consistency.

Remove the curds from the colander and gently squeeze them a few times to drain off more excess whey. Then transfer the curds to a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds.

Remove the bowl from the microwave and pour off as much whey as you can into another container, pressing the curd together with your hands to get more whey out. Add salt to the curds at this point, if you wish.

Return the curds to the bowl and microwave them again on high for 30 seconds, then remove the bowl from the microwave and drain the whey, pressing the curds together. The more whey you can get out, the more dense the cheese will be and the longer it will store in the refrigerator.

Stretch and knead the curds like taffy to drain more whey, then microwave them one last time for 30 seconds. The cheese should be at an internal temperature of 135°F at this point in order to stretch properly. If at any point it feels too hot or too liquid to stretch, run it under cold water to help it cool slightly before working with it.

Roll the cheese into a neat ball, or into smaller balls for bocconcini. You could even braid it or turn it into string cheese–sized pieces.

Fill a medium bowl with tap water that is at a temperature of about 50°F. Set the cheese ball(s) into a water bath for 5 minutes to cool.

Fill another medium bowl with water and ice, then transfer the cheese into it and let it rest until totally cool, about 15 minutes. This step will ensure that the texture stays silky rather than grainy.

Remove the mozzarella, pat it dry with paper towels, plate it, and top it with your favorite seasonings, like chopped garlic, fresh herbs, or red pepper flakes, along with a drizzle of olive oil. It is best to eat the mozzarella within a day, or it can be kept in water in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Sedona Style – Home Decor Inspiration

Nestled just south of Flagstaff in the Verde Valley area of Arizona, Sedona beacons visitors with a brilliant orange & red skyline of rock formations.  The natural beauty of Sedona is amplified by the setting or rising sun and inspires spiritual travelers, snow birds, and locals alike.

Cathedral Rock in Sedona, Arizona

Cathedral Rock in Sedona, Arizona via

Sedona Milamo Spa

Sedona Milamo Spa

If you can’t swing a second home in Sedona or find time to visit every year, we have some quick tips to achieve the Sedona Style without transporting yourself to the epicenter of the spiritual vortexes.

Sedona Style - Modern & Southwest meet.

Sedona Style – Modern & Southwest meet. (cred. to Sandy Alison)

Using natural elements, like the live edge slab coffee table and the woven stool, add interest and intrigue to your space. The charcoal grey wall and gem design modernizes and keeps the look trend-forward . The wall has the DIY feel of chalkboard art, but can be easily accomplished with matte paint and white tape.

Layer your rugs. (Photo cred to Sandy Alison)

Layer your rugs. (cred. to Sandy Alison)

Layer Southwest, Mexican, Native American, Kilim rugs, or cowhides for interesting floor coverings.

Mix modern and Southwest to achieve the Sedona Style (photo cred to  Sandy Alison)

Mix modern and Southwest to achieve the Sedona Style (cred. to Sandy Alison)

Mix modern and southwest styles to achieve a fresh look. Another way to complete the look is to add low-maintenance plants (I know, it sounds too good to be true!) like cacti & succulents.

Quartz Crystal, Teak Root Coffee Table, Layered rugs

Quartz Crystal, Teak Root Coffee Table, Layered rugs

Poppy with Layered Rugs & Natural Elements

Poppy with Layered Rugs & Natural Elements

Add natural elements like crystals & geodes or beautiful wood grains to create depth and interest with different textures on coffee tables, buffets or bookcases. As you can see, Poppy really likes this look. #poppysmiles

Husky Ranch via

Husky Ranch via

And, last but not least,  a Pendleton throw never hurts.

You can find our complete Sedona Style collection here.

-Elizabeth Michael