Saturday, July 8, 2017

woman drummer

Today is the full moon, a time to acknowledge and maybe even celebrate what has come to fruition, my scrap-linen drum case being one such thing. 

The three moon squares are hand-dyed bits of cotton and I only used threads from the thread nest for all the handwork. It was French-seamed together on the sewing machine -- the tie is an odd length of plant-dyed silk. 

I love working with linen, it looks and feels beautiful no matter what you do to it. I have a good amount of plant-dyed cloth to use in projects, this is hopefully just the beginning.

Our sweet grass grows in one big clay pot in order to contain it. I want to make up a jar of sweet grass oil with this first cutting -- I read that it should dry for a few days and then infuse the oil for six months. It exudes a heavenly fragrance as it dries and when it burns, so I have high hopes for what it does in oil.

The almost 2-year-old and I followed a huge butterfly as it flitted all around the Buddha garden feeding on larkspur blossoms. A Western Tiger Swallowtail. Huge.

Things I'm noticing...the woad has gone to seed, a section of snow pea vines is kaput and the crickets started up on July 4. Belladonna plants are blooming and forming berries. Our nights are cool, random leaves on trees have turned yellow and red. I think there's a touch of early autumn in the air, the seasons are blurring together again. xx

Friday, June 30, 2017

right outside the door

I found perfection right outside the door the other morning -- rigor mortis had already set in so she'll join some fluff and pods and such in my little curio cabinet. Even if I could open her wings, I don't think I could mount her onto a piece of paper. That would just be wrong, to pin down someone's wings.

This is part of a small grove of bluish-white clary sage, Salvia sclarea, in our front moon garden. I adore this variety -- stocky with huge flower stalks, it glows on cloudy days and shimmers at night.

A bundle of the bluish-white clary sage was hung to dry. Do you notice that plant catalogs often refer to the color purple as blue?

Almost done stitching the last eco-dyed moon square on the linen drum case, but there is one more thing I want to add before hemming the edges and calling it done.

Elder flowers and more elder flowers. One of those white hollyhock flowers held a sleeping Japanese beetle. I let her sleep even though I knew she would go straight to the grape vines to devour at least three leaves immediately upon awakening.

Elder flower liqueur was begun.

I filled a quart jar to just below the shoulder with the flowers and filled it again with 100 proof vodka. After a few weeks I'll strain out the flowers and add other ingredients, maybe a sugar syrup or some honey, depending on the taste.

Lemon balm water infused under a full moon followed by a full day of sun...I make this pretty often, even when the moon isn't full.

I love seeing flower heads on some of last summer's onions that I missed. The flowers are delicious mashed into butter but the bees like them too so not sure about cutting them. I read that you should cut the flowers off and harvest the onions immediately as they will start to rot if left in the ground. But harvesting and using every single thing in the garden isn't really the point for me -- if I use just a little bit of something once or even take time to notice and appreciate a plant, then our connection feels complete.

St. Joan's wort, Hypericum perforatum, flowers started blooming right in time for Summer Solstice. At solar noon a friend and I sat before her holiness and made flower oils. One of the plant's most common uses is to soothe burns and other skin afflictions. By the way, I learned to call this plant St. Joan's wort instead of St. John's wort from Herbalist Susun Weed who says St. Joan knows more about burns than St. John. I agree.

Garden love. Right outside the door. Connecting to the natural world just always brings out the best in us. Where else would you ever find, and leave be, one beautiful little Japanese beetle, all covered in pollen, asleep inside one perfect hollyhock blossom?

Thanks for visiting and happy weekending. xx

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

herb bundles & band-aids

This is how June looks for me. I use something from the garden everyday, you never know what will happen out there. One day is cutting a swath of arugula before it bolts, the next is making tiny herbal smudge-type bundles to dry and burn on Summer Solstice and other holy-days. These are eucalyptus leaves, lavender stalks and roses but potential combinations are endless. Like mini smudge sticks, the bundles can be made according to healing qualities, fragrance, color and more. You could drop one in a cup of hot water for tea like this. Or in a little vodka for tincture. Endless.

One day I cut my finger knuckle to the bone so applied a comfrey leaf spit poultice followed up by simple comfrey leaf band-aids for protection -- it healed amazingly fast. A piece of a cabbage leaf would have also worked.

I pick a few roses daily for drying to make rose syrup or to infuse in body oil. Nettles are collected regularly -- simmered in a big pot to keep on hand in the refrigerator or blanched and ground with oil, garlic and toasted pecans for pesto. Consider eating pesto as eating your greens. And a lot can be done with a pesto plus it can be frozen. My new thing is stuffing raw mushrooms with it.

There's been more playing the drum than stitching on the drum case. The dog doesn't mind and I love drumming, even by myself.

We have a full moon rising this Friday -- I hope to wrap up more herbal bundles and write my gratitude list during the day...that night I'll set out a jar filled with lemon balm leaves and water to be infused by the full moon and other cosmic energies. I like leaving this water out the following day as well to be infused by the sun, after which I strain it. Lemon balm water helps us to be centered in the midst of chaos, also helps meditation. xx

Good Nettle Pesto
Simmer a half-pound of nettle leaves and tender leaf tops in a large pot of salted water for a few minutes. Drain and when cool enough to handle, put them in a towel to squeeze out all the water. In a food processor, grind up a few cloves of garlic with 1/2 toasted pecans and 1/2 t. salt and some ground black pepper. Add the nettles and 1 T. fresh lemon juice. Add 1 c. olive oil, keep going until you're satisfied with the texture. Stir in 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese.  Based on a pasta recipe by Jess Thomson.

Friday, May 26, 2017

may days

It is small but mighty...I love imagine peace so much. Pinned onto a small bag for now, it is one of the exquisite peace offerings created by Liz (I'm Going to Texas is her blog name) as part of a personal outreach practice...completely dyed and stitched by hand. I am honored to have it and know it was successfully imbued with the intention of peace because I can feel it when I hold it to my heart. Thank you, Liz. (Details on mine here.) 

A linen drum case is taking shape at last. The moons are made with home-dyed cotton and the bag itself is a large scrap of natural linen. The drum beater is rolled up in a vintage dresser scarf. The top of the bag will either be a drawstring or just bunched up and wrapped with a strip of cloth. I tinkered around with this quite a bit but in the end simple is best.

Slips of coleus and passion flower vine rooting in a glass of water...looks like a branch of May will be carried over into 2018 as it has lost top billing in the sewing room. 

The chive blossom vinegar from early May was strained, decanted and labeled. I looked up shades of pink online and found congo pink matched perfectly.

This is the strongest color I've seen in any of my chive flower vinegars. Maybe it was the weather.

Chive blossom mashed into softened butter, rolled and sliced. Good.

An easy before and after. Before.

After. Enjoyed it immensely, ironing's not so bad anymore. Liked the quiet-slow-and-steady of it all.

This last month of spring has been wild here in Denver, Colorado. There have been several nights below freezing with snowfall (3-12" depending on which storm) and one record-breaking hail storm. On the other hand, the random 70+ degree days we're having now are glorious and it is very green outside. 

Thank you, friends, for visiting and happy weekending. And imagine peace. xx

I want this: 
May the beauty of your life become more visible to you, that you may glimpse your wild divinity. 
                                                                                   Excerpt from A Blessing for Beauty by John O'Donohue

Thursday, May 11, 2017

a may cloth

The May cloth was started a year ago as part of my "bringing in the May" seasonal ritual. This year's ritual was a continuation of stitching, bringing in flowering branches and making chive blossom vinegar. 

Traditionally the branch of May is from a hawthorn tree but mine is honeysuckle because our hawthorn has already bloomed.

This honeysuckle bush is huge, gorgeous and fragrant. The leaves are blue-green and insects can't stay away from the light-pink flowers. The entire bush buzzes with happy bees and wasps and even flies. It has stood up to our erratic weather including snow and rain and wind. If I could choose what flavor air I wanted to breathe, it would be this. I've forgotten the variety but do know it was created and grown by Denver Botanic Gardens, different from other honeysuckles with brighter pink flowers and less fragrance.

The cold frame houses mostly things grown from seed and some I dug up from my gardens. There's well over a hundred plants in this little space but over half will be donated to a fundraiser sponsored by a gardening group I belong to.

The chives took a beating from the weather along with everything else in the garden. These scruffy flowers are presently infusing a jar of vinegar -- chive vinegar gives food a nice kick.

Our Korean lilac is in bloom -- always a few weeks later than common lilacs, it was still hit hard by snow. It's tough.

Flowers, crystals and a candle -- I'm good.

Not sure if this piece will be finished this May either but progress has been made. I collected all the green threads from my thread nest to stitch the words and sort of like the varying shades of green. I think some blossoms might fall from the tree and maybe even swirl around the moon. A branch of May we'll bring to you is a line from The Cambridge Song here.

And I hope the month of May will be a lovely time for you whether it be spring or autumn. xx

Thursday, April 27, 2017

a daisy and other kinds of flowers

I'm sewing flowers onto a torn and tattered earth flag as part of my mending the earth project. Since there is a lot of ground to cover here, anything goes.

That led to flower fairies. Pipe cleaners shaped into a basic body form are threaded with cloth flower petals and a wooden bead for a head. 

A waffle generously drizzled with elderberry syrup might be considered a medicinal food by some. Recipe here.

On the afternoon of the Dark Moon on Tuesday we said good-bye for now to our Daisy. Above was one of her favorite places in the garden...and she positioned herself on nearly this same spot to take her last breaths. Over about a month's time, she slowly made the transition from old age into the Great Beyond unassisted except for food and water and then just water and then nothing. Jan and I got to be with her. It was sad, it was holy, it was magic.