Tuesday, May 31, 2011

sun chi

Playing with components here, a piece in honor of the sun without which we would not be here. Never would've been and never could be. Like the moon, we take the sun for granted. Until it gets too cold out. Or too hot. Oh then I'm all over it, watching for any sign of a weather pattern change and memorizing the 7-day forecast -- I'm right there watching the sky for you-know-who to either show herself or cover herself with clouds. I'm thinking the extremes are Gaia's way of getting our attention.

(I know the sun is usually referred to as masculine, but everything has both a masculine and feminine side so she's a she to me -- today anyway.)

The little patch of green velvet landed here. The green sunflower and the corner sun will stay but the other bits are still in process.

Have you ever felt your own chi emanating from your solar plexus chakra? Feel it by standing with legs apart, positioning your hands as if you were holding a ball in front of your navel. Breathe deeply to get your chi moving. Your hands may get tingly or warm or pulsate and that's your chi!

Friday, May 27, 2011

walking barefoot

Since it's slowly warming up outside, I've been avoiding shoes and walking barefoot more again. I just read a little something about bare feet the other day in The Garden Cottage Diaries: My Year in the Eighteenth Century by Fiona J. Houston, a real-life account of the Scottish author's year of living as if in the 1790's. I was sort of surprised as I thought people wrapped their feet up in leather or cloth or something when it was cold out if they didn't own shoes.

 "Few women, even respectable ones, wore shoes. Dorothy Wordsworth, visiting Dumfriesshire in 1803, remarks, 'met two well-dressed travellers, the woman barefoot.' John Ballantyne, who is in his seventies, can even remember women with bare feet and red legs in Glasgow shops in the late 1920's. My quest for authenticity stops short at this point. I shudder at the thought of crossing a snowy yard in bare feet."

Well, me too, Fiona. Makes me grateful for flip-flops even.

Then I saw this video about the health benefits of walking barefoot on Earth, as put forth in the book, Earthing. The term earthing is apparently interchangeable with the word grounding. I haven't read the book yet, but it's on my reading list.

If we walk barefoot a lot more this summer, then we'd probably need regular pedicures and foot massages, right? Sounds good to me.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

marinated nettles

Last Sunday, I put on some gloves, got the kitchen shears and a jar, and went to visit our little nettle patch. I cut enough nettle tops to fill the jar; then I filled it halfway with apple cider vinegar and topped it off with olive oil. After putting the lid on, I shook it thoroughly and set the jar on the counter for three days, shaking it again at least twice each day.

At the same time, I filled another jar with various wild weeds -- catnip, orache, mallow, lamb's quarters, and dandelion -- and prepared them the same way.

Both versions are delicious, good on/in any-and-everything, even by the forkful. Keep refrigerated after the three-day marinating time.

This morning I made an omelet with the marinated nettles and some cheddar cheese.

Also posted at Food Renegade.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

green velvet

Last night, I found a vintage scrap of the softest green velvet.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

a bee house

On Sunday, we put this little sign in our front yard. It's quite easy to qualify to be a certified wildlife habitat so it's not like we have something super special in our yard. You just need to have a water source, some food sources, bushes and trees for nesting, things like that. The point of setting the sign is to remind people that we are not alone here, that how we care for our little piece of land affects the well-being of many creatures. And maybe then people would be a bit more forgiving of our wilder-than-average organic landscape.

After we set the sign, I wondered if there would ever be any other wildlife besides birds, squirrels and an occasional fox or coyote running on through. The dogs would prevent anything else from living here, I thought . . .

. . . yesterday, as I was making my daily rounds visiting the plants, this is what I saw.

Honey bees have moved into this birdhouse sitting on a waist-high tree stump under the branches of a juniper tree and right beside a Korean lilac blooming its heart out. I am nearly speechless -- but so, so happy to have this sacred insect that connects the worlds. I stood just a couple of feet from the entrance and tried repeatedly to get pictures. There were dozens, maybe hundreds, of bees going in and out but this was the best I could do. This is swarm time in Colorado, that would explain their synchronistic timing -- since they're here now, we're interested in their well-being, maybe even transferring them to proper housing. But then again, they chose the birdhouse so who's to say they should have to move? Could they survive a winter in a birdhouse? Should we leave them bee? So many questions.

The bees were the first thing I thought of when I woke up today. When I went to them, there were only a few going in and out -- it's cold, dark and wet here today, and thundering at this very moment. I hope they're OK. I hope they stay.

I wonder if I could become a bee priestess, a Melissa . . .

Monday, May 23, 2011

moonday grounding

The word of the day is "ground" -- I'm thinking of backgrounds and groundcovers and grounding . . .

~background possibilities for the little lunar long cloth, inspired by a spiritcloth class.
~groundcovers for some moonscape-like areas in our yard.
~grounding or earthing by walking barefoot on the Earth.

Today is a waning moonday in the airy sign of Aquarius. An Aquarius moon is a time when both communication and community seem to pull us outward and we want to think of what's best for the whole rather than just ourselves. This third quarter of the moon's cycle enables us to more easily recognize what it is we need to release or let die and then do it. There's always stuff to let go of (on all levels) -- remember that saying, if you don't work on your stuff, your stuff will work on you. I'm good at taking things in, but not so much at letting them go (on all levels)!

Aquarius rules the ankle and the lower leg and its color is blue, the same as Monday's color. Blue is associated with creating calm and relieving cramping -- if I had night-time leg cramps, I think I'd try draping a blue cloth or sheet over my legs at night or wear blue pajama pants -- all the more effective under the sign of Aquarius.

Blue bits and pieces are spread all over my house right now from blue moons to cut-up blue linen shirts. There's enough blue around here to calm a small village.

Friday, May 20, 2011

sun signs acted out

This is the first in a series of all the astrological signs acted out by Debra Silverman. It is genius. Click to watch it on YouTube -- the other sun signs are available there, as well.

It's a little like seeing a caricature of yourself. In a fun way.

A happy weekend to all . . . xoxo.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

homemade (semi) fast food

This is what I call homemade fast food. I pop a spaghetti squash in the oven before the dogs and I go walking. When we get back, it's almost done. Then the rest is made up, plopped in a pan, and baked.  Sometimes we have a green salad with it, but not always. With the onions, mushrooms, sauce and squash, I'm thinking the vegetable category is covered.

It started out as a lasagna recipe but, as they often do, has evolved to become simpler. I've renamed it. If you don't know about hot dish, it's what a casserole is called in North Dakota (where I grew up), South Dakota, and Minnesota.

Italian Spaghetti Squash Hot Dish

1 lb. Italian sausage*
1 25.5 oz. jar pasta sauce (I use Muir Glen's tomato basil)
1 cup chopped onions
1-2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 cloves pressed garlic
2 t. dried basil
1 t. salt
1 T. dried oregano
1 large spaghetti squash
olive oil
8 oz. sliced whole-milk mozzarella cheese 
grated Parmesan cheese

Poke 5-10 holes into the squash and bake at 375 degrees for an hour (leave it whole).

Saute the onions, garlic, and Italian sausage, adding the mushrooms last. Add the spices and the sauce; simmer for at least 15 minutes.

Slice the baked squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Then scrape and scoop the squash noodles into an oiled 9" x 13" baking pan. Drizzle a little more olive oil over the squash. Cover with the meat sauce. Place slices of mozzarella cheese over the entire top. Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese over it all and put back into a 350 degree oven until it's nicely melted and browned.  

*Have you noticed that a pound isn't 16 ounces anymore? It's true, the last time I bought Italian sausage, it was only 14 ounces. The times, they are a-changin'.

Also posted at Food Renegade, Grain-Free Tuesdays, and the Hearth and Soul Hop.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

ice berry dyeing

I was all set to do some ice flower dyeing to achieve a bluish-purple color. But the frozen purple petunias had somehow disappeared from the freezer. Now how does that happen, anyway? The best I could do was run out into the rain and pick all the pansies with blue or purple petals, get them into the freezer asap, and then start a countdown of at least 24 hours. But I was too antsy to wait, plus everything was ready to go, so I grabbed some frozen elderberries meant for syrup and did a little ice berry dyeing instead.

Frozen elderberries placed in warm water.

Cloth immersed in dye-bath for 48 hours, stirred occasionally. Alum was the mordant.
Hung to dry.

Left to right: Linen, silk shantung, silk organza and wool.

These photos are straight off the camera with no tweaking at all. Purplish-pinkish, with a watercolor effect on the linen and wool. I've ironed these, but haven't washed them. Don't know that I will, actually.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

moon rays

Today is the full moon, time again to acknowledge and celebrate goodness, abundance, and fulfillment. I haven't yet named this moon . . .  it will come . . . but its moon rays make these things stand out for me today.

kitchen magic: making moons emerge from cloth

knitting: a little something for the chain link fence

stitching: moons onto cloth

out of the dye-pot: elderberries

into the dye-pot: onion skins

gardening: dozens of seedlings waiting for warm weather

harvesting: greenest greens ever

reading: this gift, an out-of-print dye book for the very region I live in

admiring: the greenest (and longest) grass ever

infusing: lemon balm moon infusion to deepen meditation

What are those moon rays shining on in your life today?

Monday, May 16, 2011

3 moons moonday

Three full moons have emerged from small pieces of cloth. I like to think of them as having been there all along, that I just didn't see them before.

On this moonday in the sign of Scorpio, the moon is hours away from complete fullness. Scorpio makes us go deep, mentally and emotionally, sometimes uncomfortably deep. There is an intense and edgy quality about Scorpio days that calls for loving and nurturing ourselves to stay centered.

I try to be aware of which body parts are affected by what sign. Scorpio rules the sexual organs and urinary tract. This is a good time to heal those parts and to also lessen any irritating factors for them. Bad menstrual cramps may be a call for self-care -- cups of lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) or chamomile (Matricaria recutita) tea, a hot bath, or a hot-water bottle are soothing. Or try a dose of cramp bark tincture (Viburnum opulus) in a spoonful of chocolate syrup. Chocolate has minerals, you know.

Scorpio is a great planting and watering day with its cool, moist energy. Seeds and seedlings planted under the water signs, Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces, usually do very well in general and I will definitely be taking advantage of this energy today.

It is believed that the plant world goes into a deep meditative state during a full moon. So on the nights before spring and summer full moons, I sometimes make a moon infusion of calming lemon balm to deepen meditation and inner work. And with this moon in the sign of Scorpio, lemon balm is even more appropriate.

Here's how to make lemon balm moon infusion: Fill a large jar at least halfway with lemon balm leaves and stems picked fresh from the garden, fill with water, cover and set it on the Earth where the moon will shine on it -- if it's cloudy, that's OK, it still works. The next morning, strain if you like, and refrigerate. Drink on the evening of the full moon before or during meditation. It is also especially beneficial for the inner work of examining suppressed feelings and emotions.

Before bleaching magic.

Friday, May 13, 2011

moon making

It is what it is. Just a bunch of pieces for moon making. I'm finding that I really like being in this space of cloth coming together for the first time. Brainstorming, only with cloth instead of paper and pen.

I wish I could get my garden planted and make moons at the same time. And I wish you good weather wherever you live on Mother Earth.

If you're a gardener in the Rocky Mountain Region, here's a newspaper article on native herbs I was recently interviewed for.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

in the green

How green can anything possibly be? Here are three sprigs each of lemon balm and mint to make herbal drinking water, sort of like sage water, only different. Added to a 1/2 gallon jar of cool water and refrigerated overnight, I can't get enough of the stuff -- it tastes so fresh and green. 

You can tear the leaves, bruising them as you do, to make the flavoring process go a little faster. I left these intact for this batch. The difference is time and whether or not you want a little bit of leaf to nibble on with every sip or so.

Yesterday it rained. And it rained and rained. It's still raining. Loving every minute of it. Looking out from our front porch doesn't usually look this bright green but right now it's a feast for the eyes. We have a fair amount of bluegrass that I'm slowly digging out for more plantings. I'm learning that people feel strongly about their grass lawns, there's lawn pride, lawn hate, and lawn guilt for starters. In its defense, I have to say a lawn is a pleasure to walk barefoot on and for kids to run and play on; and it cools the ground surface around the house lessening that alarming heat-transfer issue. Bluegrass is surprisingly drought tolerant -- one year this lawn was only supplementally watered twice (my teenagers were deeply embarrassed).  My mantra was "dormant, not dead." I once visited a garden that had an expansive clover and violet lawn and it was heaven -- that would be the ultimate.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

the blue dress

This is the bounty from a day of goodwill-hunting.

It's a sleeveless, floor-length indigo dress . . . 

. . . home-sewn on what seems to be discharged linen or rayon or ? The cloth itself has a 4" pattern repeat woven into it, looks almost like it was embossed.

I wonder a lot of things about this piece -- what type of dye was used for the original indigo color, what tools were used to make the discharged design, a bleach pen or a brush and bleach? A template was obviously not used. Any fine lines you see are either the treatment or creases, not stitching. It's just so interesting that someone did this much discharging on the dress or discharged this much cloth to make the dress, I honestly haven't been able to figure that out. At first I thought it was treated first, but then look at the hem up there. Anyway, it's pretty cool.

But I didn't buy it to wear.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

gardening goals

I write my lists in a blue notebook. Idea and want-to-do lists, mostly -- for gardening, sewing, knitting, decorating -- but also gems gleaned from various programs, speakers, classes, and gardens I visit. 

This is my list of gardening goals from last year.  By eat in the garden & from I meant to pick a meal -- cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes or whatever and eat them on the spot, seconds off the plants, unwashed, as is. It's quite an amazing experience to do that for your lunch. Anyway, this list seems very zen to me now. I accomplished three of the four, I failed on save seeds.

This is page one of this year's. I hope I'm not setting myself up for failure here. It looks the opposite of zen, more survivalist.  

Yesterday, I saw that my favorite pen was on final close-out or words to that effect (Jaws music here). I bought the last ten packages at half price, that is the only good part.  I tell you this in case it's your favorite pen, too, but don't go to the King Soopers on Colorado Boulevard in Denver because they're all gone.

Do you have a favorite pen? I'm looking for one.

Monday, May 9, 2011

time = life moonday

Lately I've been noticing how I refer to time and how stressful it is to not have enough as a result of choices made. So I've been perusing a favorite book, Slow Time, by Waverly Fitzgerald. Just reading a book with such a title makes me feel better about myself. I am busy. Everyone I know is busy. We all refer to time as if it's a precious resource. Which it is.

One of the many exercises in Slow Time is to substitute the word time with life. It's powerful enough to make the busiest person take pause. Do I have enough life for this? Is there any life left? Springlife, summerlife. What life is it? Work life, play life. Life is running out. Life flies when you're having fun. Life constraints. Things take life. Life heals all wounds. Life will tell.

I've been spending a little bit of my life appliqueing moons onto squares to be used for some sun*moon*stars*whispering. I've learned some things in only a few minutes. Basting is good. Linen is easier to needle-turn.  Following a line saves life.

On this waxing moonday, our Cancer moon moved into the sign of Leo, with the day quality changing from cool and moist to hot and dry. The Leo moon energizes us to hit the ground running just as we begin a new week. We venture out with confidence, ready to shine, after nesting these last few days under the sign of Cancer. I am glad to give my inner self a little rest and move outward with Leo's help.

Leo rules the heart and circulation, the back and the diaphragm. It has a stimulating effect on the body, as in the personality, so we do ourselves well to avoid overdoing it, on top of it all. Replacing stimulants like coffee and black tea with herbal teas would most definitely be beneficial today. Chamomile, lemon balm, and hibiscus all have a calming effect with hibiscus actually lowering blood pressure for a time. If you find yourself over-excited, try this heart-connecting breathwork: After finding your pulse, begin to breathe along with your heartbeat by inhaling for six beats, holding for three beats, exhaling for six beats and holding again for three beats. Repeat until it becomes easy and then slow your breath even more until you are totally relaxed. This helps me when I have trouble sleeping, too.

I'm going to enjoy some life in the garden now and I hope you have life to do what you want, too!

Friday, May 6, 2011

100% cotton, made in india

I bought a bundle of these still-rolled batik scarves at a yard sale years ago. At least I think they'd be considered batik. I gave some away and unrolled two for myself. For some reason, I've held off doing anything with the last of them.

Does anyone know anything about these? The tags say 100% cotton, made in India. I looked around the internet but couldn't find anything quite like them.

I'm wondering if this is how they're sold in India? Are they meant to be scarves or pieces of cloth to make things with? Is there a really easy way to unroll them? It's nice to meditatively work on unrolling one, but it does take quite a while. I'm wondering if it would instantly loosen up by itself when immersed in water, like those magical flattened sponges?

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

curried poppy mallow soup was made

Yesterday as I was doing some garden clean-up, I thought to myself mallow soup for dinner. I just happened to be near several poppy mallow plants and I'm pretty sure they planted the idea in my head. You know how that works. Poppy mallow is a lovely low-water perennial groundcover with magenta flowers. It also happens to be an easy-to-grow herb with both medicinal and food value -- a medicinal food! Its demulcents soothe the throat and stomach lining relieving pain and inflammation while its emollient qualities can help to heal skin irritations.

Four cups of beautiful mallow leaves were plucked in short order, washed, and ready to go. You can also use the prolific dooryard weed, common mallow (Malva neglecta) -- but poppy mallow (Callirhoe involucrata) leaves, a cultivated member of the mallow (Malvaceae) family, are just a little more tender, in my opinion.

Before prepping a planting area in the Buddha garden, these overwintered-by-accident onions had to come out. Perfect for the soup.

As with most soups, I used what I had -- the onions, celery, garlic, and about a quarter of a butternut squash. A sweet potato could sub for the squash -- or mushrooms or cauliflower or whatever's around.

Curried (Poppy) Mallow Soup

Olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
1-2 crushed garlic cloves
1-2 cups chopped butternut squash
1-2 t. curry powder
1/2 t. paprika
1/2 t. salt
dash of cinnamon
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
4 cups mallow leaves, coarsely chopped
1 T. tamari
1 cup chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned

Saute the onion, celery, garlic, and squash in olive oil 5-10 minutes. Add the spices and continue for another minute or so, stirring constantly at that point. Add the chicken broth, mallow leaves, tomatoes, and tamari. Simmer 20-30 minutes. Serve with cream or yogurt.

It's delicious. But if you don't go for spicy-hot, then go easy on the seasoning!

Also posted at Food Renegade.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

out of & into the dye-pot

out of the dye-pot: Two pieces of cloth landed on the latest Anthropologie catalog as I was clearing off the table for dinner the other night -- my work table and the kitchen table are one and the same, sort of a pain sometimes. The three of them looked so beautiful together . . .

The pleated-looking silk was dyed with old "dragon's blood" incense. The fluffy silk organza was dyed with a clivia blossom and leaf, wrapped in purple hemp string. I love their textures as much as their beautiful peach and pink colors. So soft and cloud-like. And nest-like, too. These won't be ironed just yet.

into the dye-pot: Dried lavender flowers (forgotten but found, from 2007!) and white linen.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

filling the nest

Today is the new moon in taurus so I'm beginning to think about my new moon intentions. But still only thinking about them because I've realized the moon is actually void-of-course all day today. A wiser woman than I on these matters, Jan Spiller, astrologer and author of New Moon Astrology, recommends waiting until the void-of-course period has ended. So sometime after 12:09 PM MST tomorrow, I'll write wishes on the snippets of ribbons placed in this nest-like basket.

Today I will do some birdwatching as I work in the garden. (Working and building in the garden are good Taurus activities, by the way.) A chickadee couple is nesting in this little birdhouse hanging at the edge of our patio. It had previously been occupied by a pair of house wrens and I was really hoping they'd return. But Mr. and Mrs. Chickadee moved in instead and we're pretty happy to have them, as well. This is the time of year we look out the window at what seems to be a Disney movie with all the birds swooping in and out, gathering nesting material, feeding, drinking, singing and playing. It's the best.

Monday, May 2, 2011

loop de loop moonday

I heard a little voice again. It said wrap them together with loop de loop.

Did you know that the little voice is actually the anterior cingulate cortex, according to white-coated authorities at Carnegie-Mellon University? It's believed that if you're receptive to it, it's as good as having a guardian angel. (Pronoia by Rob Brezsny).

Yup, it said to loop de loop*.

This moonday is a dark moon in the sign of Taurus, a day of completion in the current moon cycle. (The next new moon occurs late tonight or early tomorrow, depending on location.) A dark moon is an intuitive time well-suited to do the last bit of inner work required to truly clear and release. On these last days of a waning moon, I sometimes get too antsy for the next new moon, my thoughts racing about what my future intentions will be, what seeds will I plant, what new things lie ahead in my life, etc. Thankfully, as an Earth sign, Taurus has a balancing effect as it helps us to be patient, more grounded and to move more slowly.

Taurus rules the lower face to the throat and neck including the ears, teeth, jaws, vocal chords, and thyroid gland. Stress to these areas may be pronounced while at the same time, dis-ease in them may be well-treated. Protect the neck and ears today if there's even a touch of chill in the air as Taurus always feels a little cooler than its actual temperature. That certainly rings true for me -- on this Spring day, May 2, and almost 50 degrees outside, it still feels frigid.

Some correlations with these body parts: Teeth are associated with making decisions, ears are hearing the truth, the thyroid is satisfying self and others, and the throat is self-expression. I once knew someone who lost her voice "for no reason" when her mother (whom she had issues with) visited. Now I wonder if the visits landed on Taurus days on top of it all!

*loop de loop: a term coined by handstories.