Friday, March 30, 2012

accidental beekeeping

I'm changing the little cloth bee moon I started last summer -- also trying out a striped knitted hexipuff for the beekeeper's quilt. And the book I'm reading up there is subtitled Lessons from an Accidental Beekeeper. Now, isn't that appropriate?

This article makes me hopeful: A few weeks ago, Polish beekeepers protested genetically modified crops/pesticides in a dramatic demonstration. Read more about their success in having MON810 (Monsanto GM corn) banned here.

Yesterday was an exciting day of beekeeping around here. After removing the red space blanket and the insulation cozy the hive had worn all winter, I opened it up and saw, first off, lots of bees -- yay -- then I saw larvae. Everywhere. There was larvae in all the right places, the honeycomb cells, but it was in random places, too, a glob here, a glob there, the underside of the top cover even. You could say it was a full house.

In seconds, I went from the worry that they'd survived the winter to worrying they would swarm because their house was overflowing. After a flurry of phone calls, it was decided to add a second floor (called a super) on top of the original home (also called a super). It was also decided that my husband needed to swing by the beekeeping store to get a queen excluder which keeps the queen and her drones from moving upstairs. She is usually kept in the bottom box so that the honey won't get dirtied. But when I saw it, it reminded me too much of jail bars. And I realized that no, we aren't in this for the honey and who are we to decide the queen and her fellows can't move upstairs. After I calmed down, I suited up again and added another super, more frames to be drawn with honeycomb, and also changed to an inside feeder as I noticed some robber bees again at the outside one. I didn't use the queen excluder.

The person at the beekeeper store said we must have a really strong queen.

Thanks for visiting here and happy weekending! If you're gardening, the moon is waxing in the sign of Cancer, a moist, fertile, receptive time for seeds and plants to be placed into the arms of Mother Earth. xo

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


I used this quilt in the bedroom as a design wall about a year ago. Everything came down after a few months --  but the other day, something caught my eye. Do you see it? It blended in so nicely and I never missed it, not once. Forgot.

Along those same lines -- with the good weather, I've been puttering around the garden, cleaning up and planting -- and came across this bundle made up last summer when we were still eating cantaloupe. It had been outside all winter. Forgot. But I found the photo I took when I first rolled it up. Now washed and ironed, the unmordanted white linen has a pair of wings, if you look hard enough. ;-)

Good surprises, both. Don't you love it when that happens?

Monday, March 26, 2012

digging deep moonday

This woven dark/light cloth was always meant to be cut into a moon. But then indecision and panic set in and I couldn't do it, so I told myself it was just as useful as a square component. After I saw Jude dig deeply and use her scissors the other day in the magic diaries class, well, that changed things. I cut. 

Below is a cockeyed, makeshift design wall, skirt hangers on nails and masking tape. I've seen cotton batting used as a surface for a design wall, has anybody used wool batting? I'm trying not to make a lot of holes in the wall.

Today is a waxing moonday in Taurus. This earthy day slows us down and helps us to focus on our roots -- how strong, how deep, and how stable they are. You know the times when we really need to dig deep for strength and courage? I see those times as drawing on our roots. We all need them.

Today is also a good day to continue planting all kinds of seeds. Seeds of things we wish for and seeds in the garden. Or seeds of qualities like hope, patience and tolerance. The act of writing or envisioning what we want to grow in our lives is like planting a seed in the most fertile earth. I use paper, cloth, rocks, eggs, and real plant seeds to hold and symbolize what it is I'm growing. Parts of the cloth up above are examples of this.

Taurus rules the neck, throat, and jaws including the voice, teeth, ears, and thyroid gland. Sore throats are one of the first symptoms of colds or flu. A sore throat also sometimes serves as a warning to watch it, and if we pay attention, we can avoid an illness. Some people get a sore throat from too much sugar or a food they are allergic to. If I had a sore throat today, I'd thank Taurus for the warning and then take steps to avoid getting sick -- no sugar, hot tea, and a spicy soup.

To sowing seeds that root deeply.

Friday, March 23, 2012

grow baby grow

Yesterday as I was playing with cloth and colors, I noticed the blouse I'd torn up to dye with grapes last summer found its missing piece. They somehow ended up next to each other. I have no idea why I tore it like that but I want it to grow back together. And there's a lot of possibilities on how that can happen. I like the way it goes with the funky Kaffe Fassett cloud cloth (thanks again, Deanna!).

The buddha garden is our main vegetable garden -- circular with pathways at the four directions -- this wedge will be planted in peas. I have to lay tomato cages all over everything this time of year so the dogs won't dig -- you see, it's the perfect place for bones to be buried during the winter! My gardening approach is to try not to disturb the soil so I spread a layer of Azomite, a little dried manure or blood meal, and lots of compost on the surface. Then it's watered in and left alone for a few days before planting. This weekend with the waxing moon in Taurus is a prime planting time.

From all signs the bees are thriving and they are some thirsty girls. Hive-house spring cleaning seems to be the next beekeeping task for me, but I'm taking it slow -- March used to be our snowiest month, after all.

My mantra for the next few days is grow baby grow. Thanks for visiting -- happy weekending!

And what are you growing this weekend? xo

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

more black beans

Everything I dyed with black beans last week has been hand-washed with baby shampoo. And everything seems to be colorfast, I didn't notice any color in the rinse water. I don't know yet if it'll hold up to sunlight. It is such a pleasure to knit with yarn that I've dyed myself. I can only imagine how satisfying it is to spin the yarn you knit, as well. I'm still on the lookout for a beginning spinning class.

I froze the black beans after their two-day soak. They had sprouted by then and that was a good thing. In traditional cooking, nuts, grains and seeds are soaked for a day or two to reduce the nutritional inhibitors they naturally contain. Our ancestors somehow knew to do this but I rarely plan for this step. It's a big deal if I do.

To celebrate the first day of spring, besides my glass of wine, the first cutting of spinach from the cold-frame was made into salad and some of the frozen black beans went into creamy, cheesy soup. It looked sort of black and white for the equinox. This soup is really good, based on a recipe from the Chinaberry Cookbook (again), called Chile Blanco. The recipe below is how I make it now. And my Cupcake wine doubled as dessert, I guess.

I hope you're enjoying the new season!

Chile Blanco

Saute 2 chopped onions and 6 cloves of garlic in olive oil. After a few minutes, add 4 cups of uncooked chicken breast cubes. After a few more minutes, season with 2 1/2 t. cumin, 2 t. oregano, 1 t. cayenne pepper and 8 oz. diced green chiles. Then add 6 cups chicken broth and 2-3 cups cooked beans of your choice. Simmer 30 minutes. Turn heat down and add 1 cup sour cream and 3 cups shredded monterey jack cheese with jalapeno peppers. Serve when cheese is completely melted.

Monday, March 19, 2012

equinox moonday

I've gone back to the center of the magic diaries cloth, flying dreams, again to see about the lights and darks and how to place them. The circles, or moons, have started flying off into dream space -- in some cases, only pieces of the circles. I'm not sure where this is all headed. I'd never thought of the words, dream space, until just this minute, but that's really what it is.

Today is Spring Equinox here in Colorado of the US. The Equinoxes are mid-points between the major energy shifts of Solstices. So today is the last day of winter or summer and tomorrow is the first full day of spring or autumn, depending on where you're planted.  I woke up this morning thinking about what this even means to me. Balance came up so I listed 22 things in my life that flow better when balanced. Then I realized each of us has a different point of balance, what is perfect for one person may be out of wack for the other. And maybe I don't need to try so hard, making lists and all.

Author/healer/teacher Vicki Noble says it's not necessary to "do" all the sacred seasonal holidays because if we simply make space to observe and pay attention, the holidays will "do" us. I like that. The energy of Equinox can do us if we watch and listen.

Today is a waning moonday entering the sign of watery and emotional Pisces. Pisces is known for feeling things on a deep inner level -- it heightens our sense of compassion but also our ability to dissolve and release the emotional pain that may come from that. Boundaries and plans can be blurry now, too -- what we had thought was established may now change or be changed.

Pisces is the twelfth sign of the zodiac so we are once again at the feet. (In a few days Aries, the first sign, will influence the top of the body, the head.) Issues around the feet may be experienced and, as always, healing those same issues will be well-done on Pisces days. Paying attention may be all we need to do to benefit from these planetary energies, we may not need to "do" them, they will "do" us.

Happy watching and listening this Equinox day!

Friday, March 16, 2012

elm milk

I spent some time reconnecting with slippery elm yesterday by reading up on its food and medicinal uses -- I like to get out my older herbals periodically, The Famous Book of Herbs is from Lyn, printed in 1933 (thank you again, Lyn!). One thing led to another. It had been a while since I've needed to make elm milk to soothe a stomach ache around here, but it's so good that even though I wasn't sick, I made myself a cup. And partly, too, because of that slippery elm tree spirit living in the sewing room. 

elm milk: bring a cup of milk (any kind) to a simmer, then whisk in 1 or 2 teaspoons of ground slippery elm. I like it unsweetened, but to put it over the top, add a teaspoon of honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon. The cup in the photo is already mixed up -- the plate of ground slippery elm bark is just there to show what it looks like.

This morning I added a teaspoon to my protein shake -- it was made from water, dried kosher gelatin powder (for the protein), cod liver oil, a big spoonful of yogurt, iosol, and the elm. You wouldn't think a person could say yum to that line-up, would you? But, trust me, you could, and will! 

Slippery elm bark heals the digestive system, reduces the severity of psoriasis, soothes sore throats, and makes a healing poultice/bandage for wounds and other skin conditions. There's more -- it's also a nutritious food on par with oatmeal, safely used by all with no limits on consumption. 

The small quilt is going to be hung in the sewing room, now that I have one -- made by Grandmother Lucia with her cotton scraps.

That little piece of bark isn't slippery elm, but it is beautiful -- the outer surface has a horizontal pattern, the inner has a vertical grain. I don't think I've ever looked so closely at bark. Good thing I studied it right away because one of the dogs has since eaten it.  

I'll continue to ally with slippery elm over the next weeks -- if you have any recipes or uses for her, I'd love to learn them.

Thanks for visiting here and happy weekending. xo

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

there's a tree spirit in my cloth

The slippery elm tree, Ulmus rubra, and the use of its bark as food and medicine has been on my mind since the new moon. I wanted to sew something ceremonially in elm's honor and found this amaranth eco-dyed cloth in my stash that looked like peeling tree bark. At first I laid it on a light background and it wasn't right. But when I placed it on a dark background, the spirit of slippery elm appeared. Then I added some of Jeannie's (thank you!) beautiful dyed silks and a bit of my oak-leaf dyed wool and the tree trunk appeared. Just like that.

I never saw that face before in that cloth. It makes me wonder what else I've missed -- but at the same time, hopeful about seeing anew. In the case that a seeing-with-new-eyes quote comes to your mind right now, take a look here. I had no idea there were so many famous quotes about seeing. And they're all spot on.

To seeing.


Monday, March 12, 2012

black bean moonday

I've got the blues -- purplish-blues, greenish-blues, dark blues and light blues -- the black-beans-in-the-dye-pot kind of blues.

Black beans soaked in plain water in a stainless steel pot for two days. The animal fibers, white-to-beige silk and wool, were mordanted in an aluminum pot in an alum solution for 18 hours. The plant fiber, white and blue/white cotton, was mordanted in soy milk for 12 hours (thank you, Deanna, I learned that from you). I used separate dye-pots for the different fibers. I ended up using mordant and am glad to have taken the extra steps -- this is the first time I've gotten good color onto cotton. No heat was used with the dye-pots, only room temperature. I included the already-blue cotton print to tone down the white and it looks great. The wool yarn is gorgeous as is the textured silk (the photos are unedited for true color). A success in my book.

And the beans went into the freezer for a nice Spring Equinox black & white meal next week. 

Today is a waning moonday in Scorpio, an auspicious time to let go, to end connections thoroughly. Scorpio is a psychic sign with an inward impulse. In general, this isn't an easy-going time and can be very intense.

As the moon travels through the zodiac each month, we experience the feelings and impulses of each particular sign. In the same way the earth and the moon travel creating seasons, we have inner seasons, each ripening into the next. We might feel closed off as we go inward with Scorpio now, but we will surely open outward again when the time is right. I experience this every month with the Scorpio moon -- early this morning I randomly opened a book to a page that led me down this trail of thought although it wasn't about Scorpio or even the moon. But it was perfect. Not weakness or over-sensitivity, just an inner season.

Scorpio rules the sexual organs and the urinary tract. As the moon is also waning, maybe problems in those areas can be healed once and for all. As an example, if I had chronic urinary infections, I would plan on beginning a healing course of treatment during a Scorpio moon.

It's all good.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

more full moon rays

Nanette stitched the path of the wisewoman under the Virgo full moon.

See Susanna's photo of the Montana full moon taken on her train journey.

Nancy gathered and moon-stitched light and memories onto a blanket.

Jo sent her full moon river painting, now up on the drawing down the moon page.

Friday, March 9, 2012

full moon circle art

Every time I went out to visit the moon last night, it was brighter. I even looked it up because it was so bright but evidently astronomers didn't agree with me -- not for naught though because I was happily reminded of the super moon, the brightest in 19 years, last March, remember that?

I painted the girl in a circle of stones. She's centered . . . which is what I'm working on every minute of every day, it seems, aren't we all? There are the blueberry stones again -- they are lapis lazuli and when they're polished they look like this. The heart is a moss agate attuned with the heart chakra and balance, and the itty canvas is a 3" square.

The full moon is when to name and celebrate our accomplishments, realizations, relationships, projects begun, and all forms of gifts. This act of recognition and gratitude always surprises me especially when I'm positive not a darn thing has happened that month. And full moon energy doesn't end abruptly when the day is over, it continues for a few days so I plan on carrying it through at least part of this weekend.

If you've made full moon art, stitching, painting, photos, poetry, etc., I'd love to see and post it, so please share by leaving a link in the comments -- or -- emailing me a photo or file for the drawing down the moon page on the sidebar.

Happy full moon and weekending! xo

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

face cloth

I had this idea to make a face cloth. Aren't faces so easy to envision and then so darn hard to stitch? They are for me, so I printed out an outline for this first one. I'm not sure that it won't be torn out within the next hour. I tear out nearly everything I stitch, it's always one step forward, three steps backward. But it seems like a less solid line of stitching would make this face more ethereal -- or maybe thread with less contrast would do that, too.

There's a pot of stone soup brewing -- a few more have been added, some real, some wool.

Has anyone dyed silk cloth in a black-bean dye-bath? I'm choosing to start with silk because from nearly all accounts, a thorough mordanting is necessary. I want to skip the mordant and see what happens. If you've black-beaned anything, I'd love to learn from your experiences.

Make full moon art! The full moon is approaching -- where I live in the US it'll be early morning on Thursday, March 8.  Share your stitching, photos, drawings, paintings, poetry, etc. by leaving a link in Friday's comments or email me over the next few days!

See you again when the moon is full!

Monday, March 5, 2012

a leo moonday

I knitted outside yesterday, swaying on the porch swing all the while -- another blue hexipuff for the beekeeper quilt. I kept thinking the yarn was the exact same color of the sky so I chopsticked it onto a vine for this comparison photo. Pretty close.

I'm glad to say I needed a bigger basket for the hexipuffs. And I can tell it's going to be traveling between the house and the garden from now on. If I could only be as dedicated to my other knitting projects as I am to this one now!

One end of the messy sewing table made me, well, deliriously happy, that's what.

Today is a waxing Leo moonday with only a few more days until the full moon. Now is the time for refinement, to put forth a little more effort to take things toward completion -- those final touches, the last push. It can be intense, but also fulfilling and productive.

As Leo is a fire sign, its energy is warm-to-hot, honest, and spontaneous. We are drawn outward to be with other people and we're not afraid to let ourselves shine. We are lion-hearted -- loving, brave, and courageous.

Leo rules the upper back and the heart and circulation. That means those parts of the body are well-treated or more easily burdened now. With Leo energy so hot and dry, this is a good time to create balance by staying hydrated, avoiding too much caffeine, and taking moments throughout the day to breathe and relax.

At the same time I am overjoyed with the approaching warmth of spring and all its color, I remember and wish lion-hearts for the people bearing the devastation from violent weather here in the US and elsewhere. It's just so easy to forget when it's not in your own backyard.


P.S. I was just reminded -- take a look at Deb's sky scarf!

the line of demarcation

Friday, March 2, 2012

more cheese, please

Ricotta cheese was made. Oh my gosh, I had no idea how good ricotta cheese can be. I say "can be" because I've tasted other homemade ricotta cheese and it was just okay. But this, no credit to me, is fabulous. Following the recipe at smitten kitchen, I used our raw cow's milk, store-bought organic cream, and fresh organic lemon juice. It was good by the spoonful and on toasted sourdough bread with caramelized onions and chunky sea salt. It was good dolloped in homemade pumpkin soup. It was good with honey drizzled on top sprinkled with chunky sea salt. It was good. And then it was all gone. More, please.

I'm painting my nails up there.

I don't know about you, but January and February went by way too fast for me. January usually seems to last f-o-r-e-v-e-r, what happened? Then February whooshed by. I have high hopes for the month of March, a full-count month. 31 days.

Thanks for visiting and happy weekending to you! xo