Good Neighbors Blog
From quirky extras that didn’t make it into the magazine to behind the scenes looks into the making of Country – we’ve curated photos and stories we think you’ll enjoy. Won’t you be our neighbor?
By Marija Andric
As a kid growing up in the Arizona desert, I always looked forward to a family outing to Flagstaff. There, high upon the Colorado Plateau, aspen trees lined the roads, leaves actually changed color in the fall and the Grand Canyon was an hour away.
Now that I’m all grown up, I love Flagstaff (or “Flag” as the locals call it) because it’s low key and relaxed. And, it’s a place where natural beauty meets nostalgia. Route 66 runs right through town, and there is a piece of history everywhere you look. Here are some of my favorite spots to visit:
- The Museum Club. Located on historic Route 66, the Museum Club looks more like a taxidermist’s cabin than roadhouse. In fact, it was built to be the biggest log cabin in Arizona. Waylon Jennings, Barbara Mandrell and Willie Nelson are a few of the country music legends who have performed there. Today you can catch performances from up and coming stars. Go to themuseumclub.com for more info.
- Hotel Monte Vista. Built in 1926 on the corner of Aspen and San Francisco streets, the hotel was the place to be seen in the 1920s and ’30s. The historic hotel has a vibrant coffee shop where you can people watch. Go to hotelmontevista.com for more info.
- Downtown. Shopping in historic downtown Flagstaff is a welcome break from the mall. There are plenty of locally-owned businesses within walking distance from each other.
- Sweet Shoppe Candy. A little fudge goes a long way after an afternoon of exploring. The shop is full of treats. Go to sweetshoppecandy.com for more info.
Special thanks to the Flagstaff Convention & Visitors Bureau for sharing some of their great photos with us!
Story by Mary Dolan
Associate Digital Editor
Homesteading in the City
Theresa Loe is proof that a large farm isn’t a prerequisite for a modern grow-your-own lifestyle. On a mere 1/10 of an acre — within the bustling metropolis of Los Angeles — Loe and her family grow, can and preserve much of the food they consume.
Loe is a master food preserver and horticulturist, as well as canning expert for the PBS show “Growing a Greener World.” She also operates the website, Living Homegrown, where she shares insider tips and recipes, with the goal of demonstrating that everyone has the ability to control what’s on their plate.
“I grew up in Los Angeles, so I didn’t grow up on a farm,” Loe said. “But my family always gardened, and we canned and cooked and grew our own edibles.”
Loe initially went to school to become an engineer, but she quickly learned her passions revolved around growing and preparing her own food. “I got very into cooking my own food and started growing my own herbs and edibles for that fresh flavor,” she said.
Engineer by day, Loe was a culinary arts student by night. She ultimately purchased a small plot of land with her husband and began blazing a path lined with a lot more green.
“I always say, I teach people how to live farm-fresh without a farm,” Loe said.
Anybody Can Do It
Through her website, as well as her show on PBS, Loe emphasizes that “anybody can do this anywhere.”
Got an apartment with a balcony? Plant some herbs. A trellis or a window? Perfect spots for growing. Start with culinary herbs, she recommends, because “they’re very forgiving.” Just a little rosemary, sage and thyme “can take your regular cooking to a whole new level,” she said. “I think it’s a great place to start.”
Then? Try growing something from a seed, she said, like a tomato or some tea. “It’s about taking your food from seed to pantry to table,” Loe said. Even her landscaping is deliberate, featuring edibles like celery and swiss chard.
Canning is a natural extension of the planting she does. With every planted food, Loe noted, there’s a moment when it’s bursting with its absolute peak flavor. “I try and capture it in a time capsule in a canning jar,” Loe said. On Loe’s website you can find how-tos for making herb concentrates, pickled onions, cultured butter, tomato powder — as well as tips and tricks for achieving success with canning.
“Canning for me is about knowing what’s in your food, knowing where it comes from,” Loe said.
In addition to being more in touch with the food she’s eating, another joy comes from passing this knowledge and this desire for good food to her children: “Influencing them and giving them a take on not only being careful what we eat and avoiding processed foods … but understanding the bigger picture,” she said. ”That if we don’t take care of the earth, that no one will.”
While much of what she cans is standard fare, perhaps the most surprising item is her signature jam-tini cocktail. It can be prepared with or without alcohol, depending on personal preference. She simply adds spoonfuls of her canned maraschino cherries and other delicious fruit to lemonade or fruit juice! ”It makes a really great, refreshing drink,” she said.
Tune in to PBS to hear Loe’s canning advice each week. (Check your local PBS station for times, or find episodes on the show’s site.) And be sure to keep an eye on Loe’s website, as she’ll soon be posting information about her upcoming online canning class!
Our Country Friday Funny Photography snapshot for November 28, 2014 was sent to us by Pamela Weston of Perth, Ontario. When lambs are born on cold nights and spend the night in a wood basket by the woodstove, Pedro the Cat climbs in and cleans them. Once they’re older, Pedro plays with them. You know these two are going to be best friends—nothing says ‘you’re my buddy’ like using your pal for a footrest.
Our Country Friday Funny Photography snapshot for November 21, 2014 was sent to us by Tamara Cook of Boise, Idaho. She wrote, “This is my horse, Maximus. He is 17.1 hands tall. My baby goat, Piper, started riding him on her own when she was three months old. She jumps onto an old stump, and Max walks over and she jumps on him. She rides him all over the pasture. Max loves her. Piper is half feinting goat and half Nubian. I have never seen her faint yet, but if she ever does, it will be a long fall!”
Who wants Tamara to film this? (Two hands up here!)