Friday, September 30, 2011

red sun flower

The photo above shows a sunflower grown from one of the seeds I kept wrapped in a tiny bundle in my pillow and slept with for a few months last spring. Miraculously, it still germinated and grew after being accidentally laundered one time. My intention was to imprint Sunflower's strengths of healing, balance, and attunement into my own being. We'll see.

When I read about the sunflower project underway in Japan to benefit the Fukushima area, I wasn't surprised to learn that sunflower roots, through the process of phytoremediation, can quickly clear the soil of toxic contaminants. This amazing endeavor began with thousands of sunflower crops grown this past summer specifically for seed to be planted in Fukushima next spring. Can you even imagine how beautiful Fukushima will be?

"It has been proven that some plants have an ability of absorbing radiation with its root from soil. Sunflowers, especially, show a high rate of absorption. It is said that Sunflowers can remove 95% of the radiation in soil in 20 days. Normally, it would take about 30 years until the radiation level was reduced to a safe level." --The Sunflower Fukushima article is here and I first read about it over at Hella Delicious.

The red sun prayer flag is quite faded but holding together just fine. I've brought it inside and am starting to attach petals with a few stitches at the base of each. They'll be free to flap in the wind, releasing more hopes and wishes for Sunflower Fukushima.

Happy weekending. xo

Thursday, September 29, 2011

pesto cream sauce

It's been a great year to grow basil. Some plants are about 45" tall and that has never happened before with any basil in my garden. Since there's still some pesto in the freezer from last year, I haven't made too much more. We don't go through it so fast these days because we mostly don't eat grains, meaning no pasta or bread -- and those are the things that pesto is just so wonderful on. I know, I know. But this is why I've been looking for other ways to love it besides soups and marinara sauces.

In the last few weeks, I've made pesto cream sauce four times. Mind you, that is a lot of cream. There are many versions out there, but I think I found our favorite way that doesn't take too much time and doesn't use flour. Since it's a good amount of sauce, cut-up grilled or roasted veggies and a protein can be added for a stew effect. I've sort of gotten into the habit of lining a sheet pan with foil, coating the vegetables with olive oil, seasoning with salt and pepper, and popping the whole mess under the broiler for 5 minutes, then turning everything over, and back in for another 5 minutes. I started doing this because eggplant sautes weird but grills beautifully. And I grew eggplant this year.

The photos are before and after pictures of an Italian sausage and vegetable batch. It works well with chicken as the protein and last night we had it over steamed broccoli alongside baked salmon. It goes without saying, it will be great on any kind of pasta.

I'm going to make more pesto after all.

Pesto Cream Sauce

3/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup water
2 T. butter
1/4 to 1/3 cup basil pesto
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
A chunk of cream cheese

Place the cream and water in a saucepan and heat up, but don't allow to boil. Add the butter and stir in the pesto. Lastly, add the Parmesan cheese. If too thin, add a chunk of cream cheese, the magic ingredient.

Also posted over at Food Renegade.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

out of the dye-pot: mulberry & red amaranth

A while back I wondered if the silk/mulberry connection could be taken further -- if mulberry leaves would color the same cloth it indirectly creates. India said yes, so I made a bundle and cooked it up exactly how she describes in her new book, Second Skin (one of the most pleasurable books I've ever read). Such a small amount of processing, and so lovely.

I also wondered how red amaranth would transfer in a simple cotton bundle. Again, much better than I ever expected. All of these photos are absolutely untouched other than a little cropping.

These bundle tools can be reused many times!

Monday, September 26, 2011

moondala moonday

Time is passing. It won't be long now before things change drastically in the garden as we are in the last days of this growing season. A flower's life cycle is a constant reminder of the passage of time. Seed to foliage to bloom to seed. I made a flower mandala -- surprisingly it stayed in place for nearly a week before totally drying up. And then I swept it away.

Today is a Virgo dark moonday. We are approaching the last dark moments of this moon cycle before the birth of a new moon in Libra tomorrow. This dark time is very special. I read somewhere that flying dreams can be more prevalent and irrational perceptions may be even more pronounced now than at the full moon. Trust them, they might just be your insight and recognition at work. And for anyone who's felt like they've been spinning their wheels, now is when you'll find a space to stop and rest. 

Most of this day will still be under the Virgo moon that rules digestion, but later today the moon enters the sign of Libra. Libra rules the health of the kidneys, hips, and bladder so I am reminded to pay attention to my water and salt intake. Sometimes the earliest twangs of bladder complaints can be washed away by simply stepping it up on water.

Garden and yard clean-up is strenuous work. I'm thinking I'll avoid the big stuff today and maybe even make another flower moondala.


Friday, September 23, 2011


Today is either Autumn or Spring Equinox, depending on where you live. Today we can all see due east and due west and the sun directly overhead at Noon.

I've already missed the sunrise but I hope to view the sunset tonight and note exactly where in the horizon it sets to learn what is due west for me. From now on then, I'll be able to notice the change in the sun's setting points.

I really like the idea of balance occuring between light and dark. I like feeling as if it might be a little easier for me to reach a sense of balance now. That if I simply take time to pause, calm will arrive and time will stop, too -- or at least it'll slow down a bit.

Lately I notice that I don't decorate the house for seasonal holidays like when I had children at home. Instead I usually stitch something. I like to celebrate in that way now. So I stitched a circle in the center of a dark and light weaving. With red markers for the equinoxes. Reminders to pause and rebalance.

Then a little four-patch of black and white linen. Again with red threads.

Happy Autumn/Spring weekending. xo

Thursday, September 22, 2011

a grape week

It's been a grape week so far. Grape walnut conserves have been made. Grape juice has been made. Grape vinegar has been made. Cloth has been dyed and pulp has been frozen for future dyeing. And there's still a little stretch of vine that I haven't harvested yet.

The fruits, seeds, leaves, and young shoots of grapes, Vitis spp., are all edible. They support the liver and kidneys and are considered to be a good blood tonic -- one of my herbal teachers uses grape vinegar to help the body assimilate other nutrients.

If you see a recipe with Veronique in the name, you know it contains grapes. And, my favorite thing about this sacred plant -- grapes symbolize peace and abundance.

peace & abundance vinegar

This vinegar is made directly under the vine so have a jar for the grapes and a bottle of apple cider vinegar on-hand. After taking pause for a moment to connect with the plant spirit of grape, silently request permission to harvest while making an offering of some sort. I usually sing for my offering, or hum, or just sing in my head if there are people around. Then pick the ripe grape clusters and detach each grape until the jar is filled. Fill the jar again with the apple cider vinegar. Screw on a plastic lid and let sit in a dark cupboard for 2-4 weeks. Strain and store in a cool place.

We do what we can.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

feather mystery

A bit of progress for the Magic Feather Project. A beaded quill for one and a red blotch for the other. The third is still gestating. As I stitch, I wonder what these little pieces will be a part of and who might touch or count the rainbow beads. And I take pleasure in the mystery.

I noticed the plum tree to the right of the table has been totally stripped of its plums. The table is where the squirrels sit to eat, I had to sweep their mess off to take the photos. They have a good life.

So do I, and I'm grateful to even have this little plum tree with no plums.

Monday, September 19, 2011

a grape moonday

The grape harvest from our little city vineyard has begun. One St. Theresa and two Concords, enough for conserve and juice and dyeing, just right for us with some left for our wild animal visitors.

Today is a waning moonday in the sign of Gemini. This waning moontime concentrates the fruition, knowledge, and experience gained during the preceding moon phases. Author Donna Henes puts it nicely: The new moon is the arbor, the full moon is the grape, and the waning moon is the wine stored in the dark moon cellar.

Did you notice how fast the weekend went, how spontaneous it felt, and how chatty you were? Well, that was an effect of an air moon. Bright and airy Gemini energy always seems to enliven things -- our thoughts go here and there and we are easily distracted, but oh can we gab.

Gemini influences the arms, shoulders and hands. Problems in those areas are well-treated now and they are also more susceptible. Last night when I was cooking dinner, I burned my fingers twice while not paying attention. Staying focused now is key!

Friday, September 16, 2011

out of the dye-pot: red amaranth

The red amaranth solar dyeing seems to have been successful after more than a month outside in the sun. Yes, that's right -- more than a month. It's a pretty big deal for me to hold out that long.

Within minutes of being exposed to air, the cloth began to darken -- I assume it was a reaction from the rusty iron bolt in the center of the bundle. In those same few moments, one of the pups scooped it up and had it halfway unrolled, it smelled so wonderful, you know.

I see a lot of potential for this little cloth. As a tree trunk or for a stone effect. The speckled areas might be nice for feathers or a beast. Or nine-patched. What will it be? Come to think of it, what will I be?

Happy weekending. xo

Thursday, September 15, 2011





I sat and watched a datura plant, Datura spp., bloom one evening. That led to photographing a single bloom over a period of about 10-15 minutes. I tried to make a slide show, but evidently the only computer it showed up on was mine -- so I've condensed the magic into a few photos.

The bees impatiently await this time and have only a few minutes before they need to return to the hive for the night. Some find a little opening to slip in. The nectar must be as heavenly as the fragrance.

I don't have words to describe the sensuality of this bloom opening in the very same moments that daytime was closing. An overlapping of worlds.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

feathering the edges

I feathered the edges of the black & cream feather by stitching down the center and putting it in a load of laundry, as Jude suggested. It worked so beautifully, I think I'll do the same with the other two feathers for the Magic Feather Project.

Carrying this idea into life, I can think of a few hard edges that could use softening . . .  

Monday, September 12, 2011

in-all-her-fullness moonday

I had never painted anything in my life. A while back, some girlfriends and I went to a sip 'n paint class. It's true. You really do get some painting done while you sip your mimosas. And notice that's plural.

"The moon appeared in all her fullness and so the women stood around the altar."
                                                                                                     ~Sappho of Lesbos

Today is a full moonday in Pisces. The full moon is the time to acknowledge fulfillment in your life. What you began around the new moon in Virgo is now coming to completion. List-maker Virgo kept me on task the past few weeks, I tell you. Tasks were methodically completed and crossed off the lists. The entire outside of our house has been swept of spiderwebs, hosed, and windows washed -- among other things. I'm wondering if maybe this is where the term lunatic comes from because I feel like one. I've been a slave to the list.

Dreamy Pisces energy helps us to retreat a bit so that we can absorb any recent changes and imagine future ones. We might be a little more emotional today and things may seem fuzzy, but our enhanced intuition also makes this a wonderful day to create.

Conditions of the toes and feet are more easily treated under Pisces. At the same time, they may be aggravated, so take care. I have neglected my feet the entire summer even though I had intended to get pedicures, etc. Today will be a good day for a nice herbal foot bath.

I think I'll round up all my lists from the past two weeks and have a little celebration now.

Friday, September 9, 2011

the global curtain

As long as the world is turning and spinning, we're gonna be dizzy and we're gonna make mistakes. -- Mel Brooks

Made the same way as the snowflake curtains, the global curtains, too, are always in motion. But where the snowflakes flutter oh-so slowly, these turn and spin more forcefully. Like real life on real Earth.

Interesting that watching them is so entrancing -- the Earth is not so big, so frightening, so volatile for those few seconds.

Be safe, be still, wherever you are. xo

Thursday, September 8, 2011

out of the dyepot: 3 bundles

About a month ago, three cotton and silk bundles were rolled up with pink rose and blue larkspur petals -- and also mushrooms, blueberries and avocado skins intended for the compost pile. Bundled tightly, they were steamed for 20 minutes three days in a row, drying out in between. Then out to the garden under the elements to wait out time.

It's always fun to open a dye bundle. The little silk is my favorite but they each hold lovely energy. After cloth is dyed, it begins to feel like it's almost conscious, doesn't it? And nowadays, avocado parts are immediately added to a bag in the freezer instead of the compost.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


It's cool today so I was in no hurry to go outside to do garden work. Instead, I sat at the kitchen table by the window and sewed. I was hoping for an experience of flow, but I simply felt content.

I was reading about flow in the book sheepish by Catherine Friend. She describes it as a sense of being so involved in an activity for the sheer joy of it -- not necessarily for the outcome -- that nothing else seems to matter. Flow was identified and made famous by a Hungarian psychologist, Mihalv Csikszentmihalyi, and the little research I've done on it shows that it's being applied to competitive sports.

But I'm thinking stitching or knitting would be better and more practical pathways to flow. Don't you agree?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

feeling purple-ish

In the garden, purple is ready to be harvested -- elderberries, Sambucus spp., to freeze and make medicinal syrup later. And some for more ice-berry dyeing -- the silk organza in the bowl was dyed with some of last year's frozen elderberries. The St. Theresa grapes are ripe for picking, to freeze and make into juice or jelly. Someone told me to freeze them first because it makes the juice even sweeter (you know who you are!). Stanley plums -- however many the squirrels leave us, we share.

They say that purple is the color of royalty and also most preferred by teenage girls. And they say that because it's the combination of red and blue, purple can either stimulate or calm. That's quite a wide swing there, but I'm hoping to calm down today because we've been dealing with a wasp nest. Yes, not only did we welcome a swarm of bees, we also became the unwilling hosts of yellow jackets. I feel bad but, seriously, our house is off-limits.

If you happen to go thrift shopping later today, you  might see me. I'll be the mellow one with the purple fingers.

Friday, September 2, 2011


The square is a universal symbol for stability. Last time I came home from thrifting, I realized there's a square thing going. Below are two shirts, both large-sized, that have expanses of beautiful squares, just waiting to be filled, outlined or woven into. Or even cut out. Stable, maybe, but never boring. Gorgeousness squared, as Morna says.

The blue squares on the men's shirt are finely-stitched lines. Click on the photo to see the needle slid under a stitch.

And some other squares. Recognize these dishtowels below? Ikea.

And the mudra cloth.

Anyone else have a shape showing up in their lives?

Happy weekending. xo