Friday, April 29, 2011

my heart's in the garden

I read something recently to the effect that Mother Earth is ill, that her icy-cold chills make her shake and shiver and her melting fevers cause her to pant violently. Her tears are flooding and her rages destroying. She is trying to heal herself and I am so sorry that it seems to be at the cost of human life.

I want to go outside and somehow help her heal. You could say that my heart's in the garden today.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

boro love

I wore my boro jeans yesterday. You know how it is to wear something you love after a long time apart? Well, it was like that. 

I've shown this photo before, but here, once again, are patches #1, #2, and #3. Also, here.

#4 seemed appropriate for Earth Day weekend stitching.

Boro is the Japanese term for mended and patched cloth. I love looking at boro, I love stitching boro, and now I even love wearing boro.

next boro . . . these jeans are perfect otherwise. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

wild salad

For once, my cravings are actually in sync with the season. I want green in any way, shape, or form. I want to eat it, I want to sew it, I want to knit it and I want to weave it. There's nothing left, is there?

Here's how I collect a nice wild green salad. By no means does this include all the possibilities, even from my city garden -- this batch doesn't include dandelion, violet, wild lettuce, etc. And my definition of wild is any plant that takes care of itself -- that is, I don't plant it, water it, or fuss over it in any way.

I start out in the cold frame with some not-so-wild lettuce leaves, but keep reading, it's gets wild from here on in.

Horseradish, Armoracia rusticana -- a few of the young leaves add a nice kick to a salad mix.

This wild-as-can-be common mallow, Malva neglecta, can be eaten fresh or cooked. I think some people call this a weed, so unfair.

 A julienned young leaf of yellow dock, Rumex crispus, adds a lemony taste.

I use a few blades of these walking Egyptian onions-gone-wild, Allium proliferum, for green oniony-ness.

Baby lamb's quarters, Chenopodium album, are so good fresh or cooked -- I've never seen a garden lacking in this tasty plant.

Hollyhock leaves, Alcea rosea -- not really a wild plant unless it's gone rogue in your garden. Which it has in mine, I haven't planted it for years. Another member of the mallow family, I use the leaves in spring salads and the flower petals in summer salads.

There you have it! Rinsed and dried, this will go nicely with wild sockeye salmon tonight. Is there such a thing as wild chocolate for dessert?

An easy dressing is 1/3 cup olive oil, 2 T. red-wine or apple-cider vinegar, a clove of minced garlic, and salt & pepper. Sometimes, a little Dijon mustard or a little honey, it depends. Of course, fresh herbs can always be added, but it's surprising how flavorful wildness can be on its own.

Also posted at Food Renegade.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Monday, April 25, 2011

come together moonday

A heart is coming together here in the spirit of Aquarius. I keep having the Come Together Beatles song in my head with this one . . . I know you, you know me, one thing I can tell you is you got to be free . . . so, of course, I googled the lyrics and up popped this most interesting interpretation that surmises each verse is a description of one of the Beatles. I tell you, I was glad to see it wasn't about a drug trip like I thought.

                                                                                                                                      come together

With this moonday being a waning moon in Aquarius, it feels light and airy and free. This can be an imaginative, outgoing time when it's easy to connect with people, but it also lacks a deeper emotional quality. And that's just fine --  I see it as a little rest from the seriousness of it all. With the moon in the process of waning, the time has come and gone for celebrating our accomplishments. We can go easy on ourselves now, let go of stuff (on all levels), and clear spaces (on all levels) to make room for what comes next.

Aquarius rules the lower leg  -- standing still for long periods of time goes against the very nature of this day when you think about it. It's feet up tonight!

Project-wise, I hope to sew on some things I've already taken the first steps on, being inspired as I go and without trying too hard. For instance, the mending pile -- another pair of jeans soon-to-be capris or maybe even bermuda shorts? Does anyone even say bermuda shorts anymore?

                                                                                             the red box holds my mom's vintage threads

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Earth Is Our Mother

I love this song by Libana. And this video has some lovely visuals -- mountains with eyes and a pregnant woman with an Earth belly. I gave birth 26 years ago on this day to an over-11 lb. baby and I looked like that. Minus the body paint, of course.

The Earth is our Mother, we must take care of Her
The Earth is our Mother, we must take care of Her
Hey yana, ho yana, hey yan, yan
Hey yana, ho yana, hey yan, yan

Her sacred ground we walk upon
With every step we take
Her sacred ground we walk upon
With every step we take
Hey yana, ho yana, hey yan, yan
Hey yana, ho yana, hey yan, yan

The Earth is our Mother, She will take care of us
The Earth is our Mother, She will take care of us
Hey yana, ho yana, hey yan, yan
Hey yana, ho yana, hey yan, yan

The Earth is our Mother, we must take care of Her
The Earth is our Mother, we must take care of Her
Hey yana, ho yana, hey yan, yan
Hey yana, ho yana, hey yan, yan

Her sacred ground we walk upon
With every step we take
Her sacred ground we walk upon
With every step we take
Hey yana, ho yana, hey yan, yan
Hey yana, ho yana, hey yan, yan

The Earth is our Mother, She will take care of us
The Earth is our Mother, She will take care of us
Hey yana, ho yana, hey yan, yan
Hey yana, ho yana, hey yan, yan

The Earth is our Mother, we must take care of Her
The Earth is our Mother, we must take care of Her
Hey yana, ho yana, hey yan, yan
Hey yana, ho yana, hey yan, yan

That about says it all on this Earth Day weekend.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

how does your parsley grow?

parsley is a biennial. There are mounds of second-year parsley growing all over the garden, and when things heat up, these plants will bloom and set seed to complete their life cycle. As they bloom, bees and other nectar-feeding insects feed on the flowers, and goldfinches will eat the seeds. If you have a problem with tomato hornworms, plant parsley alongside the tomatoes because it also attracts the hornworms' predatory wasp.

In the case of tiny parsley seedlings here and there, well, those are most likely growing from seed that was set last summer -- they are in the first year of their life cycle and can be harvested as needed all summer long.

Right now though, I'm highly motivated to use the second-year parsley before the party's over -- yesterday I gathered parsley, leaf lettuce and herbs to make this salad. I think it's one of the best salads ev-er. Plus it's so green and I'm craving green.

parsley salad: wash, dry and pinch from stems 2 cups of Italian parsley leaves. Into a bowl, add a handful of mixed salad greens and a few sprigs of mint, oregano, chives, etc.; then toss in a pinch of coarse salt, a tablespoon of olive oil, and a few teaspoons of fresh lemon juice -- one at a time. Top with fresh parmegiano or cheese of your choice.

How does your parsley grow?

Also posted at Food Renegade and Grain-Free Tuesdays over at helladelicious.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

a clivia bouquet

A friend called me a while back and asked if I wanted a piece of a plant they had. A clivia plant (pronounced CLI vee yah, first syllable rhyming with "eye"). I didn't and still don't know much about it but I said yes and I've had it for three blooms now -- it blooms once a year. Every year has been a month later, I think it's setting its circadian rhythm! I know of people who do this, why not a plant?

It presents a single bouquet of beautiful, lightly fragrant flowers once a year. The first year was in February, the second in March and this year, April. This plant asks for nothing other than to be watered about every 7-10 days and to live by a glass block north-facing window with low light.

Ahem. Now for the measurements. The bouquet stalk of flowers is 19" tall, over 9" wide, and each flower is 3" across.

I am toying with the idea of asking for some of its flowers for the dye-pot. Maybe just one. And a leaf blade, too, please. And 13 months from now, next May when it blooms, I might ask for a flower to make a flower essence.

It is one amazing plant. My advice is if someone calls you and asks if you want a piece of a plant, say yes.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

out of the dye-pot: red wine cloth

Risks were taken and mistakes were made. 

1) I added too much fiber to the formula 2) Then I added too much red wine 3) Then I really stepped it up and let it get way too hot for way too long because I left the kitchen and forgot about it while it nearly boiled dry. No, I was not drinking at the time -- and yes, the fumes in the house could've had something to do with it.

It still worked out. I like it! Can't wait to get to work on the spectacle case.

I most likely went over in fiber weight because I used a silk shantung instead of a lighter silk, plus my wool was a home-felted piece -- you know how thick felted wool can be. Because of that overage in weight, I thought what the heck and doubled the wine but not the water or the mordant. The overheating didn't seem to do any damage.

Part of the fun of dyeing is that it is experiential and a little story forms around each project.

Has anyone tried red wine dyeing yet?

Monday, April 18, 2011

moonday spiral

                                                                                                 long cloth sampler

How is this Spring different and how I am different? At the beginning of each new season, I ask and  answer this question. Not to judge if things are better or worse, not to plan how to improve a situation or my life --just to take notice from the present perspective.

It reminds me that my life journey is like a spiral. I feel a sense of returning to an oh-so-familiar point that's slightly different now -- because of what I've learned and experienced, and how I've grown and changed.

The newly-stitched spiral up there resonates with me. I think most of us feel a resonance with the spiral because it's everywhere, from our DNA to the center of a sunflower to the very galaxy we live in.

Today is moonday, the second day of the still-full moon under the sign of Scorpio. I call it a still-full moon because the effects of a moon phase are often felt for a few days before and after. So this is still a time of fulfillment and fruition and, maybe more importantly, acknowledging those accomplishments.

Scorpio's day qualities are cool and moist, sounds like Spring to me. Scorpio affects the health of the sexual organs and the urinary tract, making it a good time to treat conditions of those body systems. It takes us deeper emotionally and mentally, and can cause us to feel ill at ease, unsettled -- a hot bath  may be especially calming at the end of a Scorpio day. I can always recognize Scorpio days by the way I feel, often more comfortable with solitary work or activities like gardening or reading.


Friday, April 15, 2011


Before I was even 20 years old, I wanted to convert a little run-down church into a shop and name it potpourri -- at the time potpourri was a new word to me (I loved it so much, I used it in sentences whenever I could). My sister was in on it, too, and we thought we'd sell exactly what the word meant -- a mixture of things. It was a little vague. The plan never got past the yearning stage -- I put more energy into dreaming about potpourri, the name, than ever really owning a shop.

                                                                                  lavender, larkspur, rose, lemon verbena, rose geranium

This memory came up because I've been gathering together bags and jars of last year's herbal harvest. The dried flower petals and fragrant leaves could easily be mixed together with fixative and essential oil to make a nice herbal potpourri. I'm thinking of what fragrance it could be and what else to add, should it go in a big wooden bowl or should I sew up some of those tea bags and make sachets for the car. Or forgo the essential oils and make an edible potpourri -- that leaves out the larkspur because it's poisonous.

                                                                          rose & lemon verbena tea

Think I'll hold off. I mean once an essential oil is added, the party's over. It can't be made into tea then. It can't be used in any recipes. The fragrance can't be switched out if I change my mind. It maybe won't look as pretty as it does right now, soft piles of color.

Guess I need to dream on this potpourri a little bit longer.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

red wine in the dye-pot

Exactly how many white tops have I ruined with red wine stains, I wonder. I can think of two right off, so the collateral damage from all my wine-drinking days surely comes to six or seven or more.

I just learned there was a way to save those white tops and that was to simply keep on with the red wine.

In the dye-pot.

Who knew?

Red wine dyeing is only one of many techniques in Dyes from Kitchen Produce by Setsuko Ishii. This is not an ordinary book. Not only does she set forth a clear guide to dyeing with kitchen ingredients, she includes individual dye instructions for her sewing, weaving, knitting, and crocheting projects as well as patterns & instructions. The design of this book is well-organized, you always know exactly what page to go to for what and how. It is one of those books you have to read in small doses with two squares of 73% chocolate and a cup of mint tea. It's that wonderful. Take a look, you'll see. Ms. Ishii has also authored two other dye books in Japanese, just FYI.

It was one suggested "just for me" in an Amazon email based on previous book orders. Well, I fell for it and Mr. Amazon, as Nat says, did right by me. So right.

I just happen to have some pinot noir that was very inexpensive (and after tasting it, I know why). And I just happen to have some white silk shantung and some white wool and some white floss. And I wear glasses.

It's meant to be.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

cooking from the nettle patch

The nettle patch is filling out nicely so it's time to begin harvesting the tops to cook, dry, or freeze. It's good to collect them right now in early Spring to get a jump on the aphids because, well, we all know what a royal pain they can be. Starting now also delays blooming which is an important stage to notice. When buds begin to form, harvest is over because the leaves will contain a gritty particle that can be irritating to the kidneys.

Stinging nettle, Urtica dioica, is a nutritious wild weed and a medicinal herbal mainstay. I drink nettle infusion several times a week, my husband takes it to stave off allergy season, and we cook & eat our homegrown nettle. I can always buy it dried but can't ever buy it fresh, so it only makes sense to cook the fresh or freeze it for later. When I freeze it, I blanche it first, the same as for any leafy green, and bag in 2-cup quantities.

It took several tries to get this patch growing. It was only when I invited it that seeds from previous years suddenly sprouted (yes, they had been stratified before sowing). Now that the patch is established,  the dry Colorado climate keeps them in check. But I would imagine that in a better environment they could escape and thrive!

Usually, I pick them with my bare hands and a kitchen shears, being very careful, but when in a hurry, I wear gloves. Mother Nettle demands your full attention or she will sting you. Of course, her sting, itself, is a medicinal treatment for sciatica, arthritis, and muscle aches!

The first harvest of stinging nettle tops went into the cooking pot the other night. Next time it'll be marinated nettles or a nice pesto -- I'll post the recipes as I make them.

Steamed Nettles

4 cups 6"-8" nettle tops
1 cup water
1 small onion
1 clove garlic
olive oil

Rinse nettles, then add to boiling water. Cover & simmer for 20 minutes. During that time, chop the onion & garlic and saute in olive oil till tender. Strain the nettles, saving the water for soup or watering plants. Mix in the onion/garlic mixture, melt some butter on top, season, and eat the deep green essence of Spring.

If you grow nettles, how do you cook them?

Also posted at Food Renegade.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

flower memory

Pansies are everywhere now -- in the garden, in pots and windowboxes. A heart sampler has been incubating for a few weeks now -- the bottom petal of the pansy flower is heart-shaped. Mercury Retrograde guides us to look back -- when I did, I relived my first flower memory, the pansies in my mother's garden, at about three or four years old.

Looking back helped me to go forward.

The sampler took form. Both the pansy and my memory are stitched onto it. A good beginning, I think.

I'll be calling it a long-cloth sampler. It seems a yard long right now but it's about 9" x 21" and that can change anytime. Black cotton velveteen for the background, the lint roller is my new best friend.

The pansy is dyed rayon, the center is wool and silk. That cotton square is the next heart. Sort of a mosaic vibe.

More pansies from sitting on my butt in front of the TV last night -- these are all wool felt. I don't know much about them yet, we're still getting to know each other, but I do know they won't be on the long cloth.

When you look back, what is the first flower you remember and how old were you?

Monday, April 11, 2011

moonday retrograde

I wanted to stitch on black cotton velveteen so after looking for about 15 minutes, going up and down the stairs, I found it. Then I couldn't find an embroidery needle. A single embroidery needle. I have about a dozen but not one of the three pincushions has one in it. So this is what I have to show for my little cotton velveteen excursion. A backstitch seems appropriate today!

On this moonday, we have a waxing moon moving into the fiery sign of Leo later today. The dryness of Leo requires us to keep up on hydration, our own and for those little seedlings we've been tending for the garden. Add to that houseplants, newly-potted pansies, trees & shrubs planted within the last year, the compost pile, our animals -- and we've got quite a watering list for the next few days.

Leo affects the heart and circulation, the back and the diaphragm. A Leo moon-time can be heart-warming or  heart-breaking. We can enjoy and direct Leo's fiery power, or we can over-do and over-stress giving way to emotional pain, high-blood pressure and a strained back. Leo gives us extroverted energy to shine however we may, it's up to us.

All the miscommunications and things I've forgotten or lost lately have been both comical and slightly annoying. But it's OK because I know that Mercury is retrograde (3/30/11 to 4/23/11) influencing such matters as communication, travel and ideas. Things like computer glitches, disconnects, misunderstandings, car problems, lost luggage, and even issues with contracts and filling out forms seem to occur now.  A Mercury Retrograde sometimes causes us to have to redo things, we may get the dates mixed up, the wrong data, etc. The good part is that it makes sense now to take time to reflect, review the past, reconsider, find things, listen better, and verify.

Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun and has the fastest orbit. Its effect on us is high energy, it's going, going, going. So when it retrogrades for a three-week period, we get a sense of slowing down, stopping, maybe even going backwards. It's actually sort of a relief.

Of course, Mercury isn't literally going backwards now, it only appears that way. Like when a car next to you goes forward and makes you feel like you're rolling backward. In this case, as the faster planet passes a slower one, each sees the other one as moving backwards during that time.

Mercury Retrogrades ahead: 8/2/11 to 8/26/11 and 11/23/11 to 12/13/11!

Friday, April 8, 2011

mud cloth

I bought this at a fiber frenzy sale. It seems to be part of a long tunic or gown and I immediately took out some seams to make smaller pieces to work with. But then I stopped deconstructing. It felt so wrong. Because whatever it was needs to be part of what it will be.

The more I look at it, the more fascinated I am. I wonder about the Earth in my garden, could it do something? It stains my clothes, so maybe so.

Interesting that there are very few good-quality videos on how African mud cloth is created. I wonder why that is.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

favorite big-batch soup

a favorite soup with cream cheese & chives

This is a favorite soup. It takes a half-hour to make, an hour to simmer, and that's it, dinner's covered for the next few days. Done. Surprisingly, it needs very little seasoning and mixings can be added at serving time. Mixings could be pesto, sour cream, cheese, cream cheese, salsa, herbs, and sometimes when there's not much left, I stretch it by adding a fried egg topped with cheese, a la ratatouille. Every meal can be different. It's quite a lot of soup and, of course, it's better the next day. 

It's based on a recipe by Nutritionist Ann Louise Gittleman but at this point, I feel like it's morphed into my own. This is what the frozen tomato sauce from our homegrown tomatoes goes into. This is what weeds and greens and vegetables from the garden go into. And this is what all the odd bits & pieces in the fridge go into.

I've only used grass-fed ground beef but I don't see why a person couldn't substitute another meat or a soy product.

A Favorite Soup

2 lbs. grass-fed ground beef or other protein
2 16 oz. cans or the equivalent of tomato something: sauce, puree, chopped, whole
3-4 cups water, depending on how much liquid you want
1 onion, chopped
1-2 green and/or red peppers, chopped
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
2-4 cups any chopped vegetables--green beans, squash, mushrooms, cabbage, etc.
1 vegetable bouillon cube, salt-free (optional)
2 cups greens--spinach, nettles, lamb's quarters, Swiss chard, etc.

Brown the protein, slowing adding the onions, peppers, celery and garlic. Then add all the remaining ingredients except for the greens. Cover and cook over low-medium for an hour, stirring often, and adjusting liquid. Add the greens 5-10 minutes before serving time. We salt & pepper at the table.

Also posted at Food Renegade.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

greencraft: inspiration & more from a tea bag

I love coffee and I love tea -- lattes or americanos and loose or bagged. I think a hot mug of something helps me to not graze all day long.  Usually I tear the staple and/or string off a used tea bag and toss it in the compost. But I saw a dress made out of tea bags in a magazine a few weeks ago so I've been saving and drying out my tea bags ever since I saw that dress. Not that I'm going to make a dress. Here's a run-down.

I prefer opening a dried-out tea bag rather than a wet one. If stapled, the edges of the little staple need to be bent up so the staple will come out without tearing the paper. All tea companies that use a half-knot to attach the string instead of a staple deserve a big hand.
I didn't realize a tea bag was folded so many times. Tea bags are made with a blend of wood and vegetable fibers-- the vegetable fiber is bleached pulp of abaca hemp, a small plantation tree grown for the fiber, mostly in the Philippines and Colombia (that's straight from Wikipedia).

This is what happens with a skylight overhead -- look how the color changes from here . . .  

. . . to here -- just seconds after the previous photo -- a cloud must've floated by. Anyway, I'll still be composting the spent tea plus I'll have gained a little pile of tea-stained 3" x 5" or so papers. I don't know what to do with them, but I do know how a tea bag is folded now.

A Yogi Tea inspiration.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

dye heart

dye heart, inspired by the whispering hearts class, has been the center of my sewing universe for the last 24 hours. Red geranium & oak leaf-dyed silk, rosehip-dyed silk organza, Rumi cloth, and cotton on a blue background cloth.

Still asking and listening though . . . if I go with this blue background cloth  from Gerdiary, then I'll have to order more because this is one of my absolute favorite pieces . . . I'm also wondering if this is to be a stand-alone cloth or part of a ménage à trois?

The heart was a natural event thanks to some red geranium flower petals laying themselves perfectly here. And I love that the Rumi cloth and the red geranium cloth found their way back to each other.

Monday, April 4, 2011

go-slowly moonday

new beginnings in the moon basket . . .

vase~fresh flowers in the house again very soon

cloth strips~weaving and sewing

journal~some spring writing exercises

sketchpad~sketching before sewing

vintage frame~to be filled and hung

seed amulet~journey deeper with sunflower, my plant ally

heart shape~see what happens with cloth and thread

Today is a waxing crescent moonday in the sign of Taurus. Yesterday was the first new moon of Spring growing into the first full moon of Spring. Some holy days are arranged around lunar events -- even Easter is always the first Sunday after the first full moon after Spring Equinox.

This Spring waxing moonday seems to hold special potential. A new/waxing moon is always a time for beginnings, but add Spring to the mix and we have ourselves a little power surge. Spring is the epitome of hope; I sometimes think that this time could be named Hope or Hoping instead of Spring. We hope for so many things now. In the garden we hope that our seeds germinate and grow, we hope for rain and no late freezes, that the bees are healthy this year, for a good harvest, and that we can keep up with it all.

The Earth sign of Taurus ruling a waxing moon is one of the best times ever to sow seeds. The seeds want to reconnect with Mother Earth now, they seem to fly out out of our hands into Her. Even if the Earth is in plastic 4-packs, it doesn't matter. If you work outside, the day quality of Taurus is cool, so dress a bit warmer than you would think.

On another level, Taurus makes us want to slow our pace, to ground and stabilize, and to think. We can draw upon all three energies in play now -- waxing moon, Taurus and Spring -- to form personal desires and fuel them with hope the same way we do for the garden.

Taurus rules the lower face and neck areas including the ears, the teeth, throat, vocal chords, and the thyroid gland. That means these parts are vulnerable and also that they may be more successfully treated at this time. When you think about the discomfort of problems in any of these parts -- sore throat, losing your voice, earaches, TMJ -- it makes sense to go with the flow of Taurus, which is . . . smile, breathe and go slowly. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Friday, April 1, 2011

hey world

Does anyone know whose hand this is?

Seriously, this funky hand impression surfaced when I was rummaging through drawers and shelves for the pledge. It is unlabeled. I know it's not my husband's because his mother responsibly labeled his. So it's either mine or one of the kids'. That means it could belong to any one of six people. I can't even make a guess with those numbers. I guess I'll hang it somewhere and we'll just call it the orange hand.

This video has been around for some time, there are several versions, even one made with real and controversial images from Haiti. I like the hand imagery and may do something like it with the hand up there. With all that's going on in the world, sometimes it's nice to watch a little video and listen to a song that says a lot. A lot. And I'm not giving up either.