The air is still warm with what feels like a late summer breeze, but according to the calendar and our coffee cups – pumpkin-spiced everything! – the fall season is here. When you’re ready to pick out a pumpkin, whether for decorating or baking, we’ve got some great information from experts to share with you this week! Two California-based farms were kind of enough to provide their advice for today’s blog post.
“Picking the perfect pumpkin isn’t about looks as much as it is about freshness. Pumpkins have a very long shelf life, so you have no idea how long a pumpkin has been in a big box store when you get it home to carve or decorate. For pie pumpkins and regular pumpkins, you can judge freshness by how firm the flesh is. The more “give” the pumpkin has, the older it is. For a very fresh pumpkin, try to go to a local farmer or pumpkin patch, pick it from the field, and find whichever one is visually appealing to you!” – Justin Bloss of Vierra Farms / Dave’s Pumpkin Patch, West Sacramento, CA
“Select winter squash that are hard and heavy for their size – avoid cracked shells or those with decayed areas. Hard-shelled squash can be stored at room temperature for 2 months, and in a cool, dry place for 3-6 months. Squash that is already cut should be wrapped in plastic and will stay fresh in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Cooked and mashed squash can be frozen and stored for up to 6 months.” – Cindy Groverman of Petaluma Pumpkin Patch, Petaluma, CA
If you’re in Northern California, make sure to visit Dave’s Pumpkin Patch and Petaluma Pumpkin Patch to check out their beautiful fields and wonderful selection of very fresh pumpkins!
We’d love to see the squash that you choose for your homes this fall. Please upload your photos to social media and tag us on Facebook or Instagram. Happy pumpkin picking!
Hellooo from Triple Knots! This summer has been a busy one for us, and a lot of that has been due to travel! Among the three of us, we have traveled to a lot of interesting places (both near and far), and we liked the idea of sharing just a few of our destination highlights with our fantastic readers. Stay tuned for posts that cover our top recommendations for activities, places and things to do – all based on the experiences we’ve enjoyed on our trips.
This past month, my husband and I drove down to Paso Robles for an extended weekend trip with my in-laws. Sure we had heard about the area because of it’s famous wines, and we certainly knew the exit signs from our many trips down to the Central Coast for our wedding last year—but we really had not spent much time in the city ourselves. We had a fantastic time and were able to partake in a wide variety of activities (even though we could have just wine-tasted for four days straight – wink).
So without further ado, here are our trip highlights:
Location, Location, Location: Despite being a Californian for the past three decades, it never occurred to me that Paso Robles is the quintessential “halfway point” for Northern Californians and Southern Californians to meet up (apx. 3 hours by car). It’s the perfect distance for a road trip, where you don’t have to spend too much time in the car. Plus, you can selfishly pack your trunk with everything you might possibly want, and not feel restrained by the confines of your TSA-approved carry-on bag.
We’re Going Downtown: No matter where you are staying, stopping in downtown is an absolute must. It embraces retro charm and is filled with wonderful restaurants, quirky antique shops and interesting specialty stores. Being a spice and tea lover, I particularly enjoyed Spice of Life on Pine Street which had a huge array of products ranging from familiar items like oregano, rosemary and sage, to specialty products like smoked paprika.
Hotels, Vacation Rentals and B&Bs: My recommendation is to get creative when you look for a place to stay, as Paso has lots to offer. From a traditional hotel to a charming antique bed and breakfast. Our party voted for a country farmhouse vacation rental. We loved the privacy of the place and the ability to BBQ on the beautiful backyard patio. Plus, we were right in the midst of the wineries—get any better than that?
Explore Above and Beyond: Depending on how long your trip is, you may want to consider activities beyond wine-tasting. We did a lovely day trip to nearby Cambria, but there are plenty of other cities within an hour’s drive, including Morro Bay, Cayucos and San Luis Obispo, where you can hike, enjoy the coastal scenery and explore city streets.
Pass the Olive Oil: So sure Paso is all about the wine, but consider trying out a local olive oil tasting. In between wineries, we stopped at Pasolivo which is tucked away on the East side of Paso Robles, and boy was it an experience! You begin by putting together a small plate of spices and finishing salts and then you walk through a buffet of different oils. They are delicious, and it’s a nice way to break up a wine-tasting afternoon.
East vs. West: So I couldn’t finish this post without talking wine, right? We learned that the winery locations are often times described based on their proximity to Highway 46. Our rental was located on “West 46” so it made winery tours quite convenient. We also did a day trip to the “East 46” wineries, and would recommend both areas.
Overall, I would highly recommend a stop in Paso Robles—whether it’s just for a quick bite to eat on your way somewhere else, or if you’re looking for a fun weekend destination. The city has plenty to offer beyond fabulous wines!
This post is part of on ongoing series. Please check out our full list of TK Destinations posts.
As California residents, the visibility and effect of the drought has thus far been minimal. We are starting to see neighbors let their lawns go brown as they reduce their landscape watering, water levels at local recreational lakes are severely reduced, and it seems like it’s been ages since we have had a consistent ski season in Lake Tahoe. Fairly soon, we’ll likely be feeling the strain of the drought in our bank accounts, as water costs increase both at our personal homes and in grocery store.
The bottom line? Now’s a good time to think about how we can change our weekly routines to reduce the amount of water we’re conserving. The great thing is, there are plenty of simple adjustments that do not require major (and expensive) home renovations.
Dishwasher Beats Hand-Washing – Consider using a dishwasher (if you have one). The amount of water used when running a full dishwasher is much less than a constant stream of water used to wash lots of dishes by hand. Have sticky food left on your plate or flatware? Load them in the sink and let them soak in water used to wash hands or produce, prior to adding them to your dishwasher.
Multipurpose Shower Water – Can’t bear to get into the shower when the water is still chilly? Consider putting a bucket down to capture the water (while it’s heating up) and use to water household plants or garden landscape. While it takes a bit more effort to bucket the water and lug it outside, your plants (and water bill) will thank you!
Embrace the Dusty Car – Let your car go a few extra days (or weeks!) without a bath. Just make sure to clean your windows so that visibility isn’t hindered. When you do need to wash your car, consider taking it to a machine car wash as they use fewer gallons of water than most home DIYers, and they have processes in place for recycling and/or treating the soapy water.
Garden Makeover – Swap your perennials for drought-tolerant plans, such as succulents. Succulents are able to survive dry conditions while adding unique color and texture to your garden. And many succulents produce blossoming flowers throughout the year!
Laundry Lessons – Laundry is just one of those tedious tasks where you sometimes go on “auto-pilot” when you’re getting it done. Consider the frequency of your loads. Do you have a full load? Can you use a lower water level for those that are not quite as bulky?
While the tips listed above are just a few simple things that we have incorporated into our lives, there is so much more you can do. Save Our Water is a California-funded program that focuses on helping residents reduce their water. You can check out more information about the program, including water-saving tips at their organization website.
That being said, we’d love to hear about what you do in your home to keep your water usage low. If you have a tip you’d like to share, please include it in our comments section.