Tuesday, November 30, 2010

a tutorial: lavender body oil

Lavender body oil was made. A jar was filled once with fresh lavender flowers and again with olive oil. Brewed in this kitchen, strained on a full moon. It smells heavenly, absolutely not like olive oil and absolutely not like lavender flowers. 'Tis herself.

Lavender is multi-versatile. From clearing depression to easing aches and pains to promoting better sleep. This oil is not for internal use, but you can dribble a little into your bath water or slather it all over yourself after a bath or shower. Or dab some on your temples if you feel a headache coming on or just plain old need to calm down. Or just whenever you feel like it.

When I see things like this that I can't possibly make now (unless you're waaayy down south), I mark my calendar to remind myself -- things like "plant calendula or you'll be sorry" under the month of May or "make rose petal milk shakes" under June, etc. So for this, you'd write a note for June "make luscious lavender body oil that WwW wrote about"!

lavender body oil:

Fill jar with freshly harvested blossoms of lavender, Lavendula officinalis, making sure plant material and jar are both completely dry to avoid the growth of mold. Fill jar again to the very top with olive oil. Put on lid and infuse in a cool, dark place 2-6 weeks or so -- on a protected surface because it may seep a little.

    Fast forward. Items needed: old cloth napkin, sieve, extra container.

To strain, place plant material in napkin-lined sieve set on top of extra container.

Twist ends of napkin to make a ball and squeeze hard;
add the spent lavender to the compost.

Pour oil back into clean, dry container; label; store in cool, dark place;
 keeps for at least a year. Decant into smaller containers if you like.

Monday, November 29, 2010

looser clothes

                                                                                                  violet moon
This moonday finds us with a waning moon in the sign of Virgo -- a good time to tend to the digestive system -- any foods or herbs used now for that purpose will be of greater benefit. That cup of chamomile or peppermint tea after dinner comes to mind. And recipes containing dandelion, of which the leaves are pretty tasty this time of year, so that's another plus.

Between the earth turning on its axis, the moon circling the earth, and the earth orbiting the sun, there's a lot going on out there. The way it looks to us is the new moon appears as a slim crescent shape as it waxes (grows) into a nice round full moon, and then wanes (shrinks) back into the mirror image of the crescent it started as, and finally becomes the dark moon (not visible). High in the sky in the winter, lower in the summer. Sometimes visible during the day, other times only at night. Lunar eclipses, quarters, void of courses, and planetary influences galore. It is pretty complicated.

The thing to keep in mind though is that no matter what your beliefs are or where you live or what you eat -- if you are a living creature on this planet, you are affected by the moon. Scientists have this one figured out. They know the moon is like a magnet for water -- affects tides, seed germination, humidity, and people.  We are 55-60% water, after all.

So that means that the extra fluid that we sometimes hold onto is now easier to let go of as the moon wanes. You may notice that your clothes are looser, that you can eat a bit more without gaining weight. And other things may be easier to let go of now, too, like being annoyed with someone or eating too many carbs or anything you would like to not have part of your life anymore. Write whatever it is you don't want on a piece of paper and then light a match to it over the kitchen sink. Or envision handing it over to your higher power during prayer or meditation. You probably don't need to make a big production out of this part as you are letting it go, not paying it homage.

Do you notice any effects from this waning moon?

Waxing or waning? "When the moon is D like Dios, it is growing to fill God's sky. When dying away it is C, like Cristo on the cross." The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

Friday, November 26, 2010

casting on

Today. 5 posts. 5 stitches cast on.

Each new stitch I've wondered the usual questions one does at the beginning of a new piece -- does it look right or start over again? Am I good enough, do I have the time? Just who are you making this for? Shouldn't a person really finish her other projects before she starts a new one?

Next week I will pick up the other needle and begin to knit the first row. With enthusiasm. And maybe find some answers.

I don't mind if you look over my shoulder . . .

                                                                  5 stitches

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

the whole cosmos

"Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos - the trees, the clouds, everything."
                                                                Thich Nhat Hanh              

Gratitude to this amazing grapevine with up to 100 grapes per cluster. Yes, I counted.                           

                    from this last summer
St. Theresa Seedless Grape
Vitis x "St. Theresa Seedless"
2008 Plant Select, Colorado State University

                               to this now
                                                           grape jam

Have a nice Thanksgiving. Back on Friday.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

running late

Sometimes I run late the entire day. The bed gets made at 3:40 p.m., about 6 hours before it gets unmade. Sometimes I run late a whole season. Winter clothes still not unpacked from bins in the basement on 11/23/10. Yup, that's running late. And the whole daylight saving time business, well, there's a lot of whining about that.

I am in good company. This Hall's Honeysuckle is late, too. Trying so hard to bloom before the inevitable death freeze that I had to clip a sprig to give it half a chance. I'm chanting and dancing around it to get it to open.

                                                                                            hall's honeysuckle

In keeping with the late theme, on this last full moon Sunday, a few herbal vinegars finally got tended to. The fresh hawthorn berry/apple cider vinegar was started on 9/3/10 and the fresh serviceberry (a/k/a juneberry) acv was started on Midsummer's Day! Normally I wouldn't let an infused vinegar made with fresh leaves and/or flowers sit this long, 2-6 weeks is plenty. But berries hold up and it's o.k. I use a sieve lined with an old cotton napkin for straining and then store finished herbal vinegars in a handy cool, dark place. To avoid corrosion of the lid, I line the top of the jar with saran/wax paper or better yet, use a plastic lid. Both the hawthorn berries and the serviceberries were still edible at this point and I thought they might've even tasted better then than they did fresh! Nicely plumped up, good color, sweet & sour at once. After tasting about 5 of each resulting in a puckered-up mouth, they went into the compost, but I'm betting a more inventive person would've made good use of them somehow.

                                                   freshly-strained hawthorn berry & serviceberry vinegars
Hawthorn, Crataegus oxyacanthoides, vinegar is my all-time favorite vinegar. You may think that it gets used mostly in salad dressings? No. It is simply the best as one tablespoon of vinegar in a glass of water taken as a refreshing beverage. It is sweet. It is wonderful. It is medicinal, healthful to your heart and circulatory system. Try it. And if it's not to your liking, there's always honey.

The serviceberry, Amelanchier sp., vinegar is pure experimentation. There is this half-quart of vinegar. There are several packages of frozen serviceberries in the freezer for possible future pies or jams, thinking big here. There is a quart of serviceberry vodka tincture still brewing on the counter. What can I say -- it was a bumper crop of serviceberries and when in doubt, make vinegar & tincture and freeze the rest! What do you do with serviceberries, anyway?

Just kidding about the chanting and dancing.

Monday, November 22, 2010

another moonday

                                 stitching stars on red moon

This Moonday finds the moon in the sign of Gemini while the sun has just entered Sagittarius. Happy Birthday, dear Sag.'s! For many years, I have oddly loved Mondays while most people dreaded them. Because it meant the return of a semblance of order in the home or because it is a day ruled by the moon -- don't know -- but still love the feel of a nice new Monday.

Since March, I've been playing "name-that-moon" as it relates to nature or something in my life. Along with this idea, the moon quilt has slowly begun to take form. There are rules for the moon quilt, mind you. It must be composed of cloth only from stash; it must have background squares the color of the night sky; there must be 13 moons ultimately; and each moon must hold the essence of a named moon. Some people just need a gimmick, you know, with the rules and all? It's a way to begin anyway. With enthusiasm.

March -- Violet  
April -- Wafting Apple Blossom
May -- Wind
June -- Double Rainbow
July -- Cricket
August -- Red
September -- Brightest Ever
October -- Cruise Room
November -- Purple (crayon)

How do you feel about Mondays? Do you notice the moon's influence?

Tomorrow, a little something about tasty herbal vinegars!

Sunday, November 21, 2010


                           from the garden today: cauliflower, kale, parsley

I walked the dogs and the moon last night. For that little while, I was Harold with a purple crayon, the moon keeping pace, shining through naked tree branches, always right beside us. Smelled chicken soup from someone's house. Tried to name this beauteous moon in Taurus as we walked -- wondered how I could possibly do it justice to be part of the moon quilt -- could it be a circle of silver lamé with a white silk organza overlay and some purple outline stitches (for the crayon)? Yes, maybe I can do right by it.

The time of a full moon is when things get interesting -- when seeds planted begin to sprout, visualizations become actualizations, and wishes come true. This place I find myself in -- this journal -- was a wisp of a thought at the last new moon, barely registering in my brain until I sat at the computer yesterday and the words "woman with wings" flew into an apparently open chakra of mine . . . and now here I am trying to insert a magnified picture of the moon. As you see below, I failed but I tried with enthusiasm!

purple full moon

healing: conditions of the jaws, throat, ears, vocal chords, thyroid gland, and neck are well-treated under the earth sign of Taurus.

harvest: kale, parsley, and cauliflower (parsley is a nice natural diuretic and can also help bring on delayed menses). See recipe below.

pharmacy: strain tinctures/oils begun at the new moon more than 6 weeks ago -- hawthorn berry, serviceberry, lavender, monarda (slathering on lavender oil is my new favorite after-shower activity).

fiber: stitching red stars on "red moon" quilt square

dye pot: infuse silk in frozen red geranium flower bath with a bit of mordant, either vinegar or alum.

reading: Moon Time by Johanna Paungger & Thomas Poppe

feast: pastured chicken breasts, parsley salad, sauteed kale and steamed cauliflower

parsley salad: wash, dry and pinch from stems 2 cups of Italian parsley leaves. Add a handful of mixed salad greens and a few sprigs of mint, oregano, chives, etc., a pinch of salt, a tablespoon of olive oil, and a few teaspoons of lemon juice. Top with fresh parmegiano cheese. (source unknown)

11/23/10: I've made this 2 nights in a row now. It holds up overnight in the fridge very well, if you're lucky enough to have any left over. As long as you're fiddling with parsley, pick a bunch and make this salad!

What does your full moon look like?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

egg for breakfast

it's crow-time again, they've been coming for breakfast.

usually it's peanuts.

today somebody had an egg.
and enjoyed it thoroughly.