Monday, February 28, 2011

circle of life moonday

circle of life

A few days ago, I came across the remains of a hawk's dinner, presumably. I realize it's part of the circle of life and there's just no way around that for any of us, but still. So, in keeping with the practice of gathering feathers found in my path, these were slowly collected with silent thanks, leaving the wing clusters and the soft downy feathers. I thought some bird parents might use the soft ones for nest-building, but I don't know about that. These beautiful feathers have been placed in a round basket at the foot of a little spruce tree in honor of the one who once wore them.

This moonday finds itself in a waning, decreasing, mode under the influence of Capricorn. Later tonight, it moves into Aquarius. Capricorn rules the skin and the skeleton, with emphasis on the knees; it is serious and focused. Aquarius rules the lower legs, with emphasis on the ankles, making tonight and the next two days a good time to stay off your feet as much as possible if you have problems with varicose veins. Our minds may feel like they're going a mile a minute under Aquarius; intuition can be more pronounced, as well.

This last week of the moon's cycle fuels the desire to let go in order to lighten the load and create space. It feels very much like the nesting instinct where you do the work and then wait. It is worthwhile to prepare for a new moon and the new possibilities it brings -- like it is worthwhile (and smart) to prepare for the birth of a baby and all the new adventures she brings.

This is motivation enough to continue the work of the pledge to resolve unfinished projects. And, self, do you think possibly, maybe, the kitchen counter tops could be cleared off for a little while, just until the new moon?

                                                                                                                                           food for thought

pledge work: this old project #2 is a rug-hooking kit that's, oh, about 12 years old and hasn't been touched since the summer it was begun.

                                                                                                                           primitive sunflower rug hook kit
The kit was designed and assembled by the instructor of a rug-hooking class. It was sort of a random choice of a class for me. I think I enjoyed the actual process but maybe didn't like the dark colors of this piece so avoided it thereafter.

On some level, there's a dilemma here -- to keep it together as the kit it is or break it up. Stash greed rears its head toward those soft, perfectly-cut wool strips. Yet a teaching in the Tao is to give something of value that you would like to keep. What does it say about me that I even have to think about it?

OK. I'm letting it go and envisioning it being held and appreciated in some happy hands. Sort of that circle of life thing.

Friday, February 25, 2011

food for the body, food for the soul

food for the body

Last night this pan of cheese-chile quiche was made. It's crustless and gluten-free although regular flour and baking powder can be substituted for the Pamela's Baking Mix that I used. During the seven years we were vegetarians (a long time ago), this was a mainstay. 

Cheese-Chile Crustless Quiche

1/2 cup butter
10 eggs
1/2 cup Pamela's Baking Mix (or regular flour and 1 tsp. baking powder)
Dash salt
1 7-oz. plus 1 4-oz. can diced green chiles (11 oz. total)
2 cups cottage cheese
1/2 lb. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1/2 lb. Monterey Jack cheese with jalapenos, shredded

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Melt butter in a 13"x9" baking pan (I pop it in the oven as it heats up). Beat eggs slightly in large bowl. Add baking mix (or flour and baking powder) and salt and blend. Add melted butter, green chiles, cottage cheese, and all of the shredded cheese; mix until just blended. Pour into pan and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 35-40 minutes longer until the top is puffy and browned.

food for the soul

I hope to sink my hands into this pile of goodness and dreamily weave some cloth this weekend. I've used nearly all of my woven pieces so it's time to make more. Men's handkerchiefs are lovely to use as backings for stitching projects. They're the right size, lightweight cotton, and nicely hemmed. In a moment of blatant consumerism last Yuletime, I bought a package -- and how I love them. The other backing is a small linen napkin I found in my mother's stash, probably part of a set that she used for bridge parties. 

How will you feed your body and soul this weekend?

Also posted at Food Renegade.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

in the dye-pot

I've been saving onion skins to make a dye bath for a while now and have a quart jarful.

My instructions (The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes by Sasha Duerr) say 4 ounces are needed to mix up a concentration strong enough to dye 4 ounces of fiber.  

 I have a way to go.

In the meantime, I thought I'd give coffee-dyeing a whirl with this white cotton top that I wear only about once a year -- so it seemed like fair game.

It soaked in cool water with 1/2 teaspoon of alum added to act as a mordant.

 To make the coffee dye bath, I used dark espresso whole beans and also some finely-ground espresso with boiling water added to fill a 1/2 gallon jar. The coffee then infused in a dark cupboard for two weeks. I forgot to strain it before I poured it on the white top but it didn't seem to matter. I was actually hoping for a speckled effect once I saw how pretty it looked. At this point, it was heated to 180 degrees and then left at room temperature for almost two days. Was hoping it would reach a dark brown.

It never made it, but it's OK because I sort of like the softness of this latte color. May as well experiment with a different plant dye on this same top at some point. Maybe the coffee dye will serve sort of like paint primer and the next color will cover really well.

Has anyone achieved a rich, dark brown and what plant material did you use?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

this old project #1

As I mentioned a few days ago, I've pledged to resolve all my unfinished projects excluding anything begun in the last year. They must be revived, completed, deconstructed for stash, given away, buried or destroyed.

Anyway, this is what came out of my little pledge so far: Three denim crazy quilt squares (15") made out of my family's jeans plus one large bagful of cut-up jean parts. I had totally forgotten about this when I had cloth fever a while back.

I don't remember why I even started this whole crazy quilt business except it was a class and a reason to get a babysitter and out of the house in the '80's or '90's. Most of the jeans are small kids' size. I'm not as attached to the cloth as I once was and that's a good thing.

I'm not a big fan of the crazy angles in a crazy quilt, in general, and for sure not one made with denim. These are just plain homely, in my opinion. And if you think they don't look too bad, let me assure you they look worse in person. 

How about using 2 squares as the front & back of a bag for my drum? And, since a drum carrier should be padded, I could line it with this 70's red quilted fabric, too. I'd have to sew in a gusset but that'd be OK, the gusset could extend enough to turn into a carrying strap. This is one possible use of the squares. But they haven't gotten any better-looking and that's the real challenge.

And how about freeing this moon? That helped already, yes?

This old project #1 has potential, I think. It's a keeper. Has anyone ever rescued something this down and out? I would love some ideas. I'm not bound to the drum carrier idea . . .

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

a growing challenge

Daffodils are peeking through the snowflake curtains. I think it's time for snow in any way, shape, or form  to leave now, don't you? Good-bye curtains, I'll miss you.
Come back next year.

The broccoli 4-pack in the house sprouted in less than three days. Out in the cold-frame, it's not looking so good. Yet!

I've entered this 4-Season Growing Challenge that I heard about from the bee. The goal: Each season, grow at least one fruit or vegetable that you've never grown before from seed -- and then tell people about it! There are also other options to further stretch your gardening skills. It will be a lot of fun -- check it out -- you don't need to have a blog.  I must spend some time with the seed catalogs now to choose my first crop, so see you tomorrow.

Monday, February 21, 2011

boro moonday

                                                                                                                                      boro moon patch

This is a moon patch on the knee of my one remaining pair of gardening jeans. The others were annihilated when I had cloth fever. If I had realized that I could actually make them wearable again in a cool way, I would've restrained myself, but at the time they were considered a lost cause. In Japan, mended and patched textiles are referred to as boro or rags. These jeans are now officially boro.

The full-moon patch evolved into a half moon patch. This was some fun stitching. As I worked on it, I wished I could again "have at" the many jeans' knees I've patched over the years raising children --  to patch them with shapes and wonderful little stitches rather than those big old rectangles. And to have referred to the patched jeans as boro once they'd transitioned!

                                                                                                                           boro half-moon patch

Today is a waning moonday in Libra, a time for connecting with other people, creating beauty, and feeling balanced. The lightness of this day brings great relief after the high energy of a fiery full moon in Leo followed by Virgo's work-oriented impatience last week. Things are finally settling down. Some of the qualities of the waning moon, cutting away excess in our lives, can be more easily achieved under Libra. That includes sorting, contemplating, and making decisions to bring about a sense of centeredness.

On a physical level, Libra affects the hips, bladder, and kidneys. Most conditions of these areas are too complex to go into here but I will mention an herbal diuretic that assists the elimination of excess water -- and that is the common dandelion, Taraxacum officinale. As soon as the darlings begin to show themselves, I gather the outer leaves to add to salads, or just pick and eat them on the spot. Dandelion is also a good spring tonic and the earliest pickings are not bitter. Later in the season, they will need to be simmered in a couple changes of water to remove that bitterness. A common folk name for dandelion is piss-in-bed -- usually an increase in urine is noticeable. Dandelion is high in potassium making it a better choice of diuretic than some synthetic ones that often wash out the body's supply requiring a potassium supplement to be taken as well.

Synchronizing with the energy of the moon works well for me right now. I've made a solemn pledge to myself to tend to unfinished projects begun within the last 30+ years. They must be revived, completed, deconstructed for stash, given away, buried or destroyed. Projects begun within the last year do not count as they reflect my current focus and passion. I am both embarrassed by and enchanted with the process. I will share some of it here as I go through them.

Anyone else feeling the need to do this?


                                                                        different hole, same jeans

Friday, February 18, 2011

full moon friday

I opened the onion skin bundle that was rolled up on the last full moon. It is just magical to unroll a dye bundle, every single time.

                                                                                                   silk organza dyed with onion skins

The days on and around a full moon are a good time to step back and look at all the goodness in your life. And then celebrate it. As we have a Leo full moon on top of it being a Friday ruled by Venus, this day is empowered with great energy. Its Leo influence makes us more outgoing and generous, and all around just makes the day feel nice and full. The sun enters the sign of Pisces today, too -- Happy Birthday, all you Pisceans!

                                                                                            sew liberated schoolhouse tunic pattern

full moon fancies . . . mostly things I would love to do today and tomorrow
name: boro moon
dye-pot: coffee
feast: I don't cook on Friday nights
book: little princes: one man's promise to bring home the lost children of nepal by Conor Grennan
stitching: patching jeans (in the spirit of boro)
knitting: looking over at Ravelry for a project for 7 hanks of red wool
cutting out: a tunic top
herbs: alkanet & beet root powders for homemade lipsticks
movie: The King's Speech
video: this Jewel YouTube video from last summer -- I just watched it again and it still brings tears to my eyes for some reason and makes me laugh out loud, too . . . it's so great.

I'd love to know what this full moon brings up and out for you?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

it's all about broccoli today

I may be dreaming here, but broccoli was planted this morning. Even though the moon is under the sign of Leo, dry and fiery, I decided to risk it because I hope to benefit from the energy of the growing moon. There's an old saying, "plants grown above ground should be planted during a waxing moon and plants grown underground should be planted during the waning moon" that about says it all.

I am trying two varieties of broccoli in each of two large 4-packs that are color-coded so I can see which does what, and when. And each 4-pack is also being trialed -- one will stay in the house to germinate and one goes into the cold-frame outside. A little experiment.

I do things a little differently. First I fill the 4-pack with organic seed-starting mix, then water it until I feel some weight, then sprinkle the seeds, cover with a thin layer of mix . . .

       . . . and mist that top layer with a spray bottle until it's nice and shiny.

                    Color-coded the 4-packs, in this case the green cells are De Cicco and
the others are Calabrese. I expect quite a few plants out of these, too many for us alone.

        One went into the cold-frame along with some experimental basil in the other 4-pack. Oh, I know it's unlikely basil will germinate anytime soon, but I wanted to give it a whirl.

                     This is spinach planted last fall. It has survived extreme temperatures at or below zero and is now looking like it's ready to grow.

                               At 9:30 this morning, the automatic vent had already opened.

   The other 4-pack will be on a window sill in the house, I'm not going to go baby it by setting it on the water heater or anything like that. I'll track germination dates for both 4-packs as well as the different varieties. I'll need a new journal for this now,
 won't I? The broccoli up there is for dinner tonight.

We get tired of steamed broccoli every week so I was happy to come across this old recipe recently. It's from March 6, 2001, and is from a person named Lisa. Thank you, Lisa. It's healthy, easy, and tastes good. What more could a person ask for?

Lisa's Roasted Broccoli

Pre-heat oven to 500 degrees. On a foil-lined sheet pan, spread broccoli flowerets in a single layer. Drizzle a good olive oil over the broccoli and use your hands or tongs to make sure it's all lightly-coated and back to a single layer again. Sprinkle with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Roast for nine minutes -- but every oven is different so keep an eye on it. Nine minutes works perfectly in mine. You can sprinkle red chili pepper flakes on it or a little soy sauce (after cooking). It's a good one to play around with.

Anybody have any good & easy ways to make broccoli?

Also posted at Food Renegade.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

woven slipcover

You know how something goes ping in your brain and you're on to something?

. . . weave some cloth onto the ottoman said the voices. I scrambled for cloth, some linens and cottons, and grabbed the pins and scissors. Honestly, within minutes one woven slipcover was in the works. (Admittedly, I had been thinking about my contemporary woven boro class over at spirit cloth!)

The main piece is a cream-colored curtain panel from a rummage sale with tabs removed and sized to the width of the ottoman. I took the scissors to it on both sides, cutting to create the warp, then made random slits in the top and wove tan linen strips across.

The linen strips are long enough to be the warp on the ends.

The blue and tan linen strips took a while to prepare -- linen is hard to rip!  Then every strip needed to be ironed because it was curling so much from ripping.

Stitching has only just begun. I slide a book under the area I'm working on so as to not stitch the slipcover to the upholstery.

It will take a lot of pinning and stitching. And a lot of patience.
I hope I'm not crazy for starting this one. I hear voices after all.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

greencraft: mousepad makeover

A mousepad makeover . . . don't laugh.

 One of the kids had an attachment to our Three Stooges mousepad so it moved out when
he did. This is what we've been using. It was time for a change.

I traced and cut out the full-moon shape, then sanded it lightly to take any
shiny off. Found some bright cotton in stash and again cut out a circle
but about an inch larger all around.

Went outside with the pad, the cotton, spray glue and a pizza box
from a birthday party the night before.

        Trimmed around the edge with a sharp scissors.

                             Love it.                       

Monday, February 14, 2011

wash on moonday


Today is a waxing moonday in Cancer, a water sign, and perfect for planting. If you're planning on starting any vegetable seeds indoors or outdoors, now's the time, no matter what hemisphere you live in. I have high hopes to sow lettuce directly into the cold-frame and some trial basil into a 4-pack later on.

I am one who likes to wash on Monday . . . that is pretty much the only day of the nursery rhyme that I follow -- although I suppose I have mended on a Saturday before and would love to learn to brew on Thursday. Anyway, today is a good day for the washing part but not for drying because of Cancer's damp quality. If you need to wash pillows or heavy bedding, etc., hold off a few days until the moon moves into fiery Leo. I have a motto for where to begin when the house is a mess from the weekend and that is "when in doubt, do laundry." It usually makes me feel better even if not a single item gets folded and put away -- it may be piled in chairs or even on the floor but by golly it's clean. I love to be home more than anything in the world but not housework.

Cancer rules the lungs, chest, liver, stomach and gall bladder. This is a good time to both nourish and avoid stress for those parts. If you tend to have digestive issues, stick with a light diet for the next 2 1/2 days. Anytime you want to nourish your liver specifically, keep milk thistle seed, Sylibum marianum, in mind. It is a liver lover that supports good liver function and, believe me, the liver is a hard-worker, performing over 500 functions in the body. Milk thistle strengthens liver cell membranes to help them resist damage from exposure to toxins or over-consumption of alcohol or drugs. The seeds need to be ground, so I grind up about a teaspoon of milk thistle seed and sprinkle on food.

You can use Cancer's sensitive and creative energy to your advantage today and really see projects and plans take off. At the same time, Cancer days can make us feel overly sensitive so remember that it may simply be a lunar influence. If you prefer to have dinner in tonight rather than going out, stay in -- Cancer makes us want to be home, safe and sound in familiar surroundings.

As this day is all about the love, I thought I would make a list of 14 things I love and tuck it away somewhere. It will be a pleasure to think about all day today -- it can be anything although I won't list names of people because the list would be full before I even got my whole family on it. Just 14 things I love. Nobody else will ever even see it.

I realize that this rhyme was based on survival and sanity. We all have schedules and I certainly don't make light of the old ways -- in fact, it's very comforting, isn't it?

Wash on Monday,
Iron on Tuesday,
Bake on Wednesday,
Brew on Thursday,
Churn on Friday,
Mend on Saturday,
Go to meeting on Sunday.

A little more tomorrow on the moonmousepad up there.

Friday, February 11, 2011

magic was afoot

Midnight oil was burned here last night. I've heard of quilters pulling all-nighters and now I get it because magic was afoot . . .

                                                                                                                      an open heart

. . . as the hours grew greater, my stitching went faster while mysteriously the eye of my needle grew smaller.

Right before midnight, slits were cut to weave through the tree branch and an open heart was complete. Wanted to take pictures right then but it was too dark. At least it was until I went to bed when the moon kept me up for half of what was left of the night.

an open heart will be an outdoor hanging for a while. It's rough. The wool backing had to be patched to even be a backing. The strips are woven and quilted wool and written-word cotton.

It is straightforward . . . give and receive.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

orange vibes

There's something going on around here with orange.

A yarn seed in process -- this hank is just the right size to place around a bowl.
Always puts me in a state, to wind yarn . . .

You might think this is a dessert, right? Actually, it's last night's crustless-pie side dish using some of the last garden carrots. But it could be eaten as a dessert or a late-night snack or even as breakfast. When I made it for my parents once, my dad helped himself to some leftovers and topped it with whipped cream.

Carrots have sort of gotten a bad rap lately -- how they're so high in sugar that you might as well have a soda pop, and things like that. The truth is that carrots are a delicious healing food high in beta-carotene particularly protective of the lungs and the colon against cancer. They are also high in silicon which can accelerate calcium absorption. Carrot juice is one of the safest juices for fasting and makes a good base for other juices. Raw carrots are a good way to satisy a sweet tooth -- and, just one more good thing about carrots -- as a sweet-flavored food, they help us to attune to the upsurges of spring. And spring is coming along here pretty soon now. Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford is a good reference that I use often and some of this, I learned there.

So now, on to Carrot Pie.

2 cups cut-up carrots
Save 1/2 cup of the water from steaming
3 eggs
1 T. honey
1 T. butter
1/4 cup cream
1/2 t. ginger
Sprinkle of nutmeg & cinnamon

Steam and puree the carrots, adding the reserved water and the next five ingredients. Butter a pie pan and pour the carrot mixture in. Sprinkle the ginger and cinnamon on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. This is good hot with butter & salt, at room temperature, and cold . . . with whipped cream, if you like.

You will be surprised.

P.S. Onions have been suggested as an addition to the pie which then made me think oh yes, onions and curry powder and cayenne pepper, too! Actually this pie makes a good base for lots of different seasonings as well as other vegies. I'd love to hear what changes you make to the recipe.

Yesterday's feather cloth is temporarily a feather cloak for this dear (and unfinished) sock birdwoman. The orange strips falling from her hands symbolize fire, both healing and creative.

I like her hair but she needs work on her face in the way of outline stitching, I think.

She is filled with fluff stuffing and herbs, wears huge earrings, is bare-breasted, wearing only a skirt.  She was wearing a seashell necklace but I took it off to put on the cloak. Sometimes she holds my wishes for me.

Posted over at Food Renegade, too.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

cloth with wings

The dark blue rayon was a woman's dress from Goodwill and the lighter blue cotton from stash. Using the loom idea from Spirit Cloth's class, I wove the blues on a shoebox-lid loom and set it down near a little vase holding Northern Flicker feathers. One thing led to another, as it usually does . . . why not weave in those feathers? As I basted the strips and wove in the feathers, the flickers were right outside the window at the suet feeder. It was as if they were giving me permission to use their feathers.

                                                                                                                                                                         cloth with wings

I stepped out the back door to look for a branch or something to hang it with -- found this stalk in the nettle patch. Yes, I have a stinging nettle patch right near the back door. It took literally years of inviting Urtica dioica to grow here, but finally she came! I adore stinging nettle.

This is a small piece, about 8" x 8" -- it may have a different calling than to be a wall hanging . . . some ideas are forming.

I have a practice of picking up whatever feathers are in my path, seeing them as gifts from the birds. Northern Flickers seem to leave their feathers for me on a more regular basis than other birds. It's been going on for a few years now. I find other feathers, too, but these orange beauties are in the majority. For this piece, I turned them underside-out so that the more colorful side shows. I don't think I'll stitch them onto the piece just yet -- sort of hate to stitch a feather down, that just feels weird to do -- but if the cloth is to truly take flight, they must be fastened down . . .

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

the last one

These are the seeds of things I hope to grow in the coming year -- yarn seeds, cloth seeds, and garden seeds. There's more, but this basket can only hold so much. 


While I'm looking ahead, at the same time I'm reviewing the past. Today is a good day to focus on food from the garden, what was used and what wasn't.
Both gratefully and wistfully, I plopped the last package of frozen lamb's quarters into an Imbolc soup last weekend. Each time something is used up, I think to myself this is the last of it -- the last stinging nettles, the last bit of grape juice, the last tomato sauce, the last green beans, and on and on.

                                                                                                 the last lamb's quarters

And that reminded me of Joan Dye Gussow's This Organic Life where she wrote about eating the last tomatoes. When I flipped through the book searching for that chapter, I realized that this book is due for a re-read right now while I'm in this dreamy, seed-sowing mood. After 10 years, I'd forgotten how many recipes are in this book, including a section on using up the last carrots. Well, carrots are one thing we still have a big bag of . . . and pesto, too -- guess I went overboard last summer. Oh, and frozen plums. But it's OK to go big on fruit in Colorado because that's one crop you just can't count on every year.

As far as dried culinary herbs -- well, let's just say someone should've done better. We will run out of dried basil, oregano, and dill before long so we'll have to eat bland food for a month or so! Or someone can just use up the pesto!

As far as other dried herbs besides my mainstays of rose petals, lavender and lemon verbena, the stores are actually pretty meager. On the other hand, there are two full quarts of rose-infused honey that were intended to be Yule gifts, but someone forgot.

As I was putting up herbal medicinal preparations and other concoctions last summer and fall, I was very pleased at myself for keeping a running inventory of what, when and how much was made -- but I only listed the herbs. I sure wish someone would've kept track of the rest of it, as well.

It is snowing here . . . again. This stone goddess figure spends summers in the garden but went out today where she will stay to oversee the return of Spring next month.

                                                                                                                                                    stone snow goddess