Friday, July 29, 2011

precious stones

I'm celebrating Lammas tonight and will be wearing my new precious stone. It's the one from the sea from Lyn with little holes nibbled or worn through. When I have more time, I hope to do something fancier with all those wonderful openings just begging for threads or colored wire. 

In deep gratitude for the first harvest.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

out of the dye-pot: beets

After I started this beet dye project, I saw early on that the deep reddish-purple of the beets was turning golden-brown. Someone warned me about this, but I didn't get it out in time to save the red. Nonetheless, it turned out OK and I learned something.

The string that wrapped the bundle transferred over nicely -- reminds me of the symbol for Virgo. Wouldn't it be fun to do a series of zodiac symbols with string-on-cloth?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

basil salt

Since I still have some of last year's pesto in the freezer, basil is finding its way into other things this summer. Like basil salt. Now I wonder about making this with different herbs -- rosemary, dill, lemon thyme, etc. A little concocting seems to be in order.

Basil Salt

Place 1/2 cup of coarse sea salt in a blender or food processor and give it a whirl. Then add 1 cup fresh unwashed basil leaves and whirl some more until it's finely ground up. Spread the salt blend on a cookie sheet and bake at 200 degrees for 40-60 minutes. Stir it a few times to break up the lumps. When cool, store in a glass jar.

I'd love to know if anyone has tried this with other herbs?

Also posted at Food Renegade.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

into the dye-pot: a rusty bundle

I found both a rusty bolt and a sewing machine bobbin (with thread) when I was weeding in the Buddha garden the other day. I'd been wanting some rusty items to put in dye bundles and lo and behold, two appeared. I can't imagine how the bobbin made its way out there, it looks like it's from my machine. And, oh dear, I just this second realized that the bolt might be from the kitchen table. But what's done is done.

Silk shantung with eucalyptus leaves, marigold petals, and rusty items. I'm thinking a solar dye-jar.


As I was sitting on the ground assembling the bundle, one of the girls was about 5" from my face having her lunch.


Monday, July 25, 2011

messy moonday

A hot mess. I realized I hadn't even trimmed my seams yet.

I notice there are (most of) 13 moons on this little section. And that is significant for me, really like that.

Today is a waning moonday in Gemini. Gemini, being an air sign and all, seems to blow us here and there and everywhere. We throw caution to the winds now but don't seem to go very deep because we're flitting around so much. Make phone calls or meet with friends to catch up -- it's a talky kind of time and we can have a lot of fun with the extroverted energy of a Gemini moon. I've already struggled today with focus --when I tried to read a little, what was it about? A section on wind. Even the house feels scattered and messy and the dogs shedding only adds to the sense of being out.of.control.

Gemini influences the health of our shoulders, arms and hands. Sometimes we feel the weight of the world on our shoulders -- this is a powerful time for massage or other treatments, and letting go mentally of those things we need not bear any longer.

I say just surrender and enjoy it!

Friday, July 22, 2011

bee wisdom

Just as bees fly from one blossom to another, looking only for the essence of each one, wise people look only for the essence of every person they meet.  ---Katha Upanishad  

She's meeting the essence of hollyhock . . .

Thursday, July 21, 2011

basil mint ice cream

Basil mint ice cream was made yesterday . . .  

. . . from Genovese basil and peppermint gathered from the garden.

The herbs were infused in whipping cream and sugar . . .

. . . and then strained out. I forgot to take pictures after that because I got a little too excited.

The recipe is based on one from Better Homes & Gardens, May 2006, and I've made it a few times now. Instead of choosing either basil or mint, I use equal amounts of both to reach the total 3/4 cup (or 3/4 oz.) called for. In case you're wondering -- it's heavenly.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

out of the dye-pot: lupine & clematis

A dye bundle unrolling is like a movie curtain opening. Remember when movie theaters had curtains?

This silk shantung bundle of lupine and clematis with vinegar mordant did not disappoint. This morning when I opened the sealed plastic bag it was in, I could've sworn there was a dead fish in there. But no, just a little mold and some slime. And some pretty wonderful cloth!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

a new bee house

I'm in love.

The bees in the birdhouse had a population explosion and were within a half-inch of the doorway. So we took the plunge and bought them some new digs, a light blue Langstroth hive -- and a beesuit for me. And lots of other bee-related things. There is much to learn. And buy.

Here we are assembling the new house, I'm in my suit on the left. You feel very safe in a beesuit.

A screen was duct-taped over the opening and the roof of the birdhouse was removed. This photo was taken seconds later.

The beekeepers who helped us said we had ourselves an amazingly strong and healthy feral, but gentle, swarm of Italian bees.

The birdhouse was packed. Bees work in tens, we're told -- there were eight sheets of honeycomb and not much room for the next two. They would've had to leave in another few days.

We placed some of their honeycomb in the new set-up and left some in the birdhouse on the ground in front of the new hive.

We thought we would take this in the house after dark and snack on it but we never did. We felt that the bees needed it more than we did.

The hive will gain a second story on Saturday when we'll also check inside and see how the queen and her workers are doing. I can't wait. Because I'm in love, you know.

home sweet home

Monday, July 18, 2011

flying dreams moonday

I pay attention to my dreams when I remember them. My favorite dreams are flying dreams so the quilt I'm working on, that I've been working on, and that I will be working on -- is named flying dreams. Its symbolism goes beyond the dreamworld, the sky is definitely not the limit.

This waning moonday in the sign of dreamy Pisces is an empathic, intuitive time. Pisces energy can enhance our creativity and help us get past blockages in our projects.  Too, if we use our intuition, we can balance an over-active imagination and the feelings of being overwhelmed that accompany it. I definitely felt and drew on Pisces this morning.

The feet are influenced by Pisces, the last planet of the moon's journey -- it began with Aries affecting the head. Conditions of the feet are either more easily worsened or more readily healed now. I've read that Pisces days intensify everything that we take into our bodies -- one theory on this is the feet contain the endpoints of all the meridians and healing for the entire body can be stimulated through points on the feet through reflexology. So the feet are really much more than just the feet.

Sort of like a dream is really much more than just a dream if you fly in it.

Do you notice your creativity is revved up today?

Friday, July 15, 2011

honey moon

Any full moon landing on a Friday, ruled by Venus, seems special. For me, Fridays hold both a sense of accomplishment and a strong desire to celebrate. Exactly the same energy of a full moon. They go together perfectly and make this day double-wonderful. 

planet: capricorn

name: honey moon

feast: I don't cook on fridays

stitching: hexies

knitting: summer blue shawl

reading: beekeeping for dummies

harvesting: raspberries

medicine making: thyme honey

                        one of the birdhouse bees in the lemon thyme

Thyme honey is made by filling a jar, any size, with the aerial parts of thyme, Thymus vulgaris, and topping the jar with honey. For this batch, I want to use both leaves and blossoms -- so I filled half of the jar with leaves and just barely covered them with honey -- when the thyme comes into full bloom, I'll collect the blossoms, add them to the jar and fill the jar to the top with honey. After a few weeks of infusing, it will be potent enough to calm a cough, soothe a sore throat, and help relieve other symptoms of colds and flu. Thyme is antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and antiseptic. As if that's not enough, it's also useful as a topical wound treatment to reduce inflammation and prevent infection.

This is a breathtaking clip of the super moon last March, best seen with a full screen -- amazing!

Happy honey moon weekend! xo

Thursday, July 14, 2011

small-moon cloth

There's that saying, start wherever you are and start small. I've been stitching on small-moon cloth and now think this might be a nice daily sewing meditation.

The small-moon cloth is from Lyn over in the UK. She and I had a friendly swap and it was in the package along with three other coordinating pieces y mucho mas (and much more)! This most-generous packet held cloth, stones from the sea, museum booklets, postcards, seaweed, and flower seeds -- and I'm sure I've forgotten something.

The reason I'm showing this, well besides that it's so wonderful, is that Lyn is having a giveaway at her blog, Liniecat @ Large, to celebrate a mark in time. If you leave a comment, you'll be in the drawing. You don't need to have a blog, just go visit and see the wonders this talented woman, with a makes-you-laugh-out-loud sense of humor, creates.

Thank you, Lyn.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

black & white

Last night, Tuesday being ruled by Mars and all, we had a quite exciting electrical fire on the power line running behind our neighbor's house with the fire department stopping by. The power is back on already so my plans to sit by the window and think and sew today have been usurped.

A wonderful new class has begun over at SpiritCloth. I was hoping to connect these pieces while taking the class.

If they were all black and white, it'd be much easier. Maybe I'll start with the black and white moon as the center. The moon is the meeting place of light and dark, it holds both, and it is what is between light and dark. Between the worlds where opposites touch.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

out of the dye-pot: bindweed

Bindweed and I have finally come to terms. We have a long history together and our issues seem to be working out for the greatest good for all. Plus I've discovered that bindweed really has a heart of gold.

After cutting a half pound of bindweed, Convolvulus arvensis, vines, I covered them with water in an aluminum pot and simmered it for about an hour. Then I let it cool down and sit overnight.

The next day, I removed the plant material, added alum to the dye-bath, and simmered it for 15 minutes. Presoaked pieces of white or natural wool, silks and linen were added and simmered another hour or so.

That evening, I squeezed out the cloth for air-drying and ironing. Wool and silk took the color beautifully -- linen, the least. I guess I forgot to put cotton in. These are wrapped with a 36" flowering vine and there's plenty more where this came from.

I also tasted some while it was simmering as the whole house smelled like a spinach cannery.

Like I said, we're working things out.

Monday, July 11, 2011

summer blues moonday

It seems like every summer I get a sleep thing. I attribute it to resetting my circadian rhythm, earlier and later daylight hours, morning sounds through opened windows, the birds, the moon, my birth season, etc. It's actually quite amazing how many totally unrelated reasons I can come up with for a sleep thing. But I was just reading about reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder -- summer blues -- and wonder now if I might have a touch of it. There has been a lot of blue around here lately.

 This moonday the moon is waxing with the impatient and energetic forces of fiery Sagittarius. Sagittarius days are not the easiest because we want to do it all, and right now. We want to stretch out and go within at the same time. So I say go out to the garden or take a long walk where you can center yourself right there in Nature's glory.  Careful though -- Sagittarius affects the lower back down to the thighs and sciatic nerve problems can be more easily aggravated (or healed) under its rule.

Come to think of it, Sagittarius energy is extremely similar to summer energy!

The summer blue shawl up there is from the same pattern as Deb's and can be found here.

Friday, July 8, 2011

viva la vida

Like a lot of people, I'm emotionally moved by a group of children singing -- at a holiday party, a school concert, etc. -- my throat tightens, the eyes go, and I need kleenex. I've just discovered the same holds true for watching them on youtube.

This is a couple of years old already -- where was I? I love it. Just love it.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

smudge stick

I like to burn all kinds of incense and sometimes I use a smudge stick. Smudging is a way to change how a space feels or to purify a person's aura. It's also thought to be a way for hope and prayers to rise. Using herbal plant material from my own garden and making it myself adds another element to its meaning.

This morning, I collected a big bouquet of lavender and garden sage because that's what grows here. I tried growing the traditional white sage, Salvia apiana, but it didn't work out, so it's back to regular S. officinalis from the garden. A single stem of mugwort, Artemisia vulgaris, was added for visions and dreams, and sweetgrass, Hierochloe odorata, to carry hopes and prayers in its smoke.

After inverting half the lavender, the mugwort and sweetgrass were placed in its center. I'm only using the one stem of mugwort because too much can actually cause disturbing dreams. I once had some mugwort bundled and drying near my bed and this was learned from personal experience. The truth.

Next I inverted half the sage and placed the stalks all around the lavender bundle. It was bound with a cotton string looped at one end for hanging and bow-tied at the other end for tightening. It's a dry climate here so it could be wound pretty tightly. In high humidity with mold potential, I would leave it much looser and tighten as it dries.

To make a loose incense to burn on a charcoal disc, dry the herbs thoroughly, break them up a little and mix together. I do like the feel of a smudge stick in my hand though!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Last night I picked some beets from the garden for dinner for the first time this year. The best beet recipe in maybe the whole world is here and what makes it special is that the greens are served with the roots. That and the use of red wine vinegar instead of butter. My husband, who had avoided beets his entire life, likes beets now solely because of this recipe.

Beets are one healthy food. I read in Nourishing Traditions that eating beet tops in combination with their roots, as in the above recipe, is nutritionally beneficial. And elsewhere that eating a little grated raw beet on salads everyday is a good summer tonic food.

As long as my fingers were already stained -- I made up a beet dye bundle with silk organza. 

Probably won't be much of a surprise, now, will it?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

tuesdays with mars

In keeping with the seasonal energies from Summer Solstice to Autumn Equinox, I'm focusing on the element of fire to learn to utilize its patterns, aspects and gifts. This post is about a gift.

Today, Tuesday, is ruled by the planet Mars -- and Mars also rules fire, energy, and movement. I think Mars has been at work in my life because there's been a little shift. I woke up this morning determined to do some unrolling.

Some of my rolled-up cloth projects with components mostly pinned and very little stitching. I felt like my flame had gone out.

But I unrolled some of the pieces this morning.

I guess something lit my fire. Mars, baby, is it you?

Are you feeling it, too?