Wednesday, September 30, 2015

making things

I've been making good use of the basic quart jar. The last pickings from a late-bearing elder, Sambucus sp., made up a second batch of tincture with the extra berries going into the freezer. I probably won't need to make elderberry tincture for a few years now.

The golden elixir in the threesome up there is oatstraw, Avena sativa, infusion, something I drink several times a week as a source of vitamins and minerals. I buy oatstraw and other tonic herbs like nettle and red clover by the pound and drink them on a rotating basis. Directions to make infusion here.

Hard to believe but that is one whole cabbage fermenting in the quart jar. I recently attended a program on fermentation and the presenter recommended using Real Brand Orsa salt from natural mineral rock-salt deposits in Utah. That is as close to local as we inlanders (in Colorado) can get, salt-wise. The presenter also said to place a few cabbage leaves on top of the shredded cabbage to act as a barrier during the fermentation process but I forgot to save some leaves so I used kale leaves instead.

Bone broth has been simmering in my kitchen the last few days. Every so often I roast a good-size pasture-raised chicken for dinner and then make bone broth with what remains. I make it Meg's way -- you cook the first go-round with 1 T. salt and 2 T. apple cider vinegar for no longer than 2-3 hours, then strain. Save all the bones, etc. and repeat for another batch -- the same way -- but simmered for at least 12 more hours. Meg even goes a third round but I haven't tried that yet. 

I am thinking about what color and stitch to use on my moon cloth for the current moon phase. I want the stitching to reflect the super moon but it just hasn't clicked yet, I'm a little behind.

The prompt for Journal52 Week27 is kindness. The vines around the heart sort of look like elderberries but that wasn't what I was thinking at the time. Some of the best things happen when I don't plan too much. 


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

last day of summer

The last day of summer.....Japanese indigo leaves for the dye-pot.....calendula flowers for salve-making.....the garden gives us more food than I ever thought possible back in June. It is very wild here now, Buddha's garden is cram-packed and the Maximilian sunflowers are having their way with me.

Good-bye summer. I had a really good time.

Saturday, September 19, 2015


I'm hunting for baskets all over the house. Baskets are the very best container for drying plant material because air can circulate. Sometimes I place the basket on a makeshift pedestal (a glass or bowl) to help things along even more. The pinkish-red flowers are trimmings from a pelargonium, not sure how well they dry so it's just an experiment for the dye-pot. From there moving counter-clockwise are calendula, basil, dyers coreopsis, sage and lemon verbena with Japanese indigo in the middle.

The first lesson in my first watercolor class over at Daisy Yellow. Using good watercolors with a good brush on good paper for the first time, too. Love love love watercolors. I never knew.

Evenings and mornings are pleasantly cool-ish in Denver now. Yesterday I even wore a shawl while I had my cup of Irish Breakfast tea outside. I'm looking forward to sweaters and scarves and socks again.

Even though it's already half over, I wish you some very happy weekending. xx

Monday, September 14, 2015

there is much to do

Today is a waxing moonday in Libra and with summer winding down, there is much to do. As they say on Game of Thrones, winter is coming. About now is when I start to baby things in the garden again because I know they don't have much longer to live. I harvest and water and weed more fervently than ever. I'm there for them in the beginning and at the end. I guess that's when we all need someone there for us.

I haven't done very much dyeing lately but that's about to change. There are plans and more plans.

This journal page is layers of paper and paint with words pasted on top of it all. The prompt for Journal52 Week 26 was elements, I still think creating backgrounds might be the best part.

I recently reread To Kill a Mockingbird before reading Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee. I prefer the former and not the latter but I'm glad I read them both. One reviewer said the first book was what we want to believe and the second book was how it really was.

These are interesting times and winter is coming.

Friday, September 4, 2015

the spiral

I wanted to sort something by color. This is most of my embroidery floss, but not all. Next time I'm in a sorting-by-color mood, it'll be books. 

The garden is going full-speed trying to make up for lost time. Japanese beetles have been traveling westward since 1916 and they've finally arrived safe and sound and in great numbers from what I hear. I've only found about 15-20 so consider myself lucky -- they're beautiful beetles which doesn't help matters any.

These are Chinese 5-Color Peppers from a plant I bought last May. I'm going to ask the hot-pepper-lover around here to taste test them.

A dandelion puff on a shelf in the kitchen.

The prompt was Q & A for my Journal52 Week25 art journal page -- I have the question but no answer, sorry.

The kale chip recipe suggested by Michelle in comments last week -- they were all gone 24 hours later -- actions speak louder than words.

Still loving this little vase I made with the bright spirits. It's almost always filled with flowers from the garden.

I scoured 12 ounces of cotton fiber yesterday -- simmered it in water/washing soda/dishwashing soap for two hours. I've never had great results with cotton in the dye-pot (other than in the indigo vat) but this extra step in the process may change all that.

And here we are at the beginning again. Summer is flying by and sometimes I feel sad that it's all happening too fast. But then I remember life is like traveling a spiral and a year from now we'll be back at this same place on the spiral. Only better -- and wilder -- and hopefully wiser too. xo

Monday, August 24, 2015

lovers and dreamers

I love the lap desk from Goodwill ($1.99) -- it's my best find in a very long time. The possibilities for using it seem endless but for now it houses the pathways moon cloth, my moon sewing ritual for this year. Pathways are to be stitched for each of 13 moons along the length of the linen runner -- teal-threaded spirals begin the current moon cycle. I'm liking this cloth more and more.

Just harvested a big bouquet of kale from the garden to make kale chips. Now that I've tasted an assortment of kale chips from various places, I think the simpler the ingredients, the better they taste. Looking for that perfect simple recipe so if you have one.....

Juniper berries are more beautiful in real life than any photo, plus their fragrance is heavenly. Juniper reminds me that all things are possible, even self-love.

Journal52 Week24 was silly animals. I went along with the animal part but not the silly -- the simpler the better worked well here, too.

The Pink Quill, Tillandsia cyarea, frond has sprung a flower. It's a complete surprise because I thought the pink quill was the bloom. I check on it all day long to see if anything else has happened and am purposely not researching it -- because surprises like this are so rare and so sweet.

Have you heard of the giant stinky corpse flower, Amorphophallus titanum, which takes 8-20 years for its first bloom, requires another 7-10 years for its second, and smells like its name? One was in bloom at The Denver Botanic Gardens last week for about 48 hours. I live nearby and popped in to see it but there was a four-hour wait so I didn't see it after all. The newspaper reported that some people were disappointed because the odor wasn't strong enough.

Today is a waxing moonday in Capricorn. Capricorn energy is ambitious, structured and disciplined making these next days suitable for planning and taking care of details that require patience. Something that correlates with Capricorn work is the "power hour" concept -- as presented on Gretchen Rubin's podcast series, Happier. The power hour is a time to deal with lingering business, those items on our to-do lists that don't really have deadlines so we just keep putting them off -- like making appointments, balancing the checkbook or packing away stuff from last Yule. Things like that.

I wish all the lovers and dreamers a beautiful week. xo

Friday, August 14, 2015

flower drying

Communicating with the plant spirits has been and will probably always be something I want to be able to do and do well. Over time I've learned that a nice way to approach a plant is to explain my needs, make an offering, and ask if I may proceed. Usually, things are a "go" but not always -- sometimes it just isn't the right time. If I need to trim or remove a tree/shrub/plant, I try to visit it with a heads-up warning a day or two beforehand. And I try not to bring death to a plant when it's blooming. Things like that, that I've read in books or heard from people who do this kind of thing. It all sort of goes on in my head, you wouldn't know from looking at me what I'm doing or trying to do. A lot of times I'm just talking to myself (in my head) but there are also times when I know there is very real communication going on between plants and people.

Today I collected elder flowers, Sambucus sp., but I forgot all of this.

I was so excited to see so many flower heads that I went ahead and just clipped whatever I wanted. When I realized how rude I'd been, I went back outside to settle up and things seemed to be okay. Plus I finally learned what was going on with this particular elder that has been suckering like crazy for several years now. It is trying to make a hedge but I keep interfering. And I realized that Elder is right, it is the perfect place for a hedgerow.

These elder flower heads will be dried to make soothing infusions for cold and flu. And there are plenty of flower heads left to form berries which can then be made into a powerful immunity syrup --  to ward off cold and flu in the first place.

Dyer's coreopsis, Coreopsis tinctoria, tops are also drying -- I just read that you can use the stems, leaves, flowers, buds, and seed heads fresh or dried or frozen and it all has color for the dye-pot! I've only used the fresh flowers before so this is an experiment.

Journal52 Week23 is small successes. Some regular life things have changed recently, I guess they fall into that category. Conjuring up these art journal pages still feels new to me.

Thanks for visiting and happy weekending to you!