Sunday, November 17, 2019

home sweet home

My days begin and end with caring for the chickens. Every morning our dog Talula and I take them breakfast and fresh water -- when temperatures are above freezing, it's regular dry feed but when the thermometer drops below freezing, I make them oatmeal. At night, we again make the rounds to make sure that all is well. I love these daily rituals, I would even venture to say they have changed my life.

5 chickens, 5 colors, 5 miracles.

A branch of clooties -- clooties are simple gratitudes/wishes/blessings written on strips of cloth and tied to tree branches. The photo was taken right after I began this practice in late summer/early fall, but I continue to make and attach more clooties motivated by the symbolism of seeing good things grow. 

I am finally attaching my tarot moon cloth to a basic black linen book cover I made a few years ago. It will cover the journal that I use to record my tarot and oracle draws. The reason I let it go for so long was nothing more than my own little dance with indecision on how to proceed.

One clump of healthy comfrey provided the chickens with greens all summer so I held off harvesting any for myself until the last minute. That one harvest turned out to be a considerable amount of leaves to dry so I stacked them 3-4 layers deep on a big window screen on the dining room table, changing the direction of the leaves with each layer. This method worked beautifully, it was a quick dry with no mold or browning. Imagine my surprise when all that plant material weighed out at just over 5 ounces which made only 5 quarts of medicinal infusion.

Comfrey is incredibly generous in providing food and medicine for all. Because I was regularly collecting leaves for the chickens, I was able to get acquainted with her like I never had before -- seeing new growth generating nearly overnight intrigued me to no end. And there is the medicine of the plant, which is to mend -- comfrey mends skin, bones, muscles and ligaments. Now that the heavy work of the yard and garden is mostly done for the year, my body is in need of mending. I crave this plant inside and drink as infusion and to smear as salve on my lips and hands and feet.  

I came across this little bag right after cutting my last bouquet of flowers for the season. And it matched.

One that I embroidered and made for my grandmother a long time ago, it somehow found its way back to me.

The last purple haze carrot, I grew them to use for dyeing cloth. But not a one was used to make dye because they were so good to eat.

I had the good fortune to harvest a friend's rosehips. I froze almost a half-gallon to make rosehip syrup and also made rosehip/elderberry oxymel. And still have some left to string onto thread, which  is a way to dry rosehips for making tea but I'm thinking about using them as necklaces or bracelets. We'll see.

Rose geranium/raspberry liqueur is nearly an annual tradition. Let me know if you'd like the recipe.
Update: I just put the recipe in the comments below!

5 chickens enjoying an oatmeal breakfast during one of our big snows (we've had several already here in Denver, CO).

Cozy and safe.

Home sweet home.

I hope you are well, I hope you are happy. And I hope to be back before another month goes by. xo

Thursday, August 1, 2019


Today is Lammas, the traditional time to mark and celebrate our first harvest. Since it's been a little while again since I've posted, my first-harvest photos will begin a few months back. 

The orange tree/houseplant that we bring inside every winter and take back outside every spring produced two oranges in May. This is the largest of the two and true to its botany, there are ten sections. We were so happy she finally succeeded in ripening her first fruits after one and a half years of carrying them in her branches.

In May, lilac-infused water was made over and over.

In May, lilac-infused posset was made, a rich cream and honey dessert.

In June, mullein root, leaf and stalk tincture was made. When I learned that mullein is used for spinal conditions (in addition to its other more common uses), it only made sense when you think how tall and erect the mature plant stands.


In June, the iris bloomed -- one of my favorite displays of the month.

In June, a chicken coop and fenced-in run were delivered to our home in the middle of the city.

In June, two Barred Rocks and three Buff Orpingtons arrived.

They have changed my life forever.

In July, I made Monarda fistulosa leaf and flower tincture.

In July, lavender was dried.

In July, I remembered that I had made an egg basket about 25 years ago. That was a very long "build it and they will come," wasn't it?

In July, the chickens -- Margaret, Henna Penny, Lilith, Honey Moon and Cinco -- began to free-range in the evening until their bedtime. They always visit the Buddha garden first; it's so densely-planted they really can't cause much damage plus I already had wire cloches set up because of the rabbits.

I didn't know how much I wanted them until they came.

Which brings me to now -- to mark the harvest today, I am filling all my little green vases with flowers and herbs to put all over the house.

And making little incense bundles with Palo Santo wood, lavender, white sage and mullein.

August is the beginning of autumn and there is a definite shift in the light. The air seems to literally turn green and when I breath it in, I turn into a plant of the human kind.

Today, I wish you all the beauty and abundance you can contain. xo

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

may cloth and mycelium

I recently did an exercise which called for recognizing what fulfills you, waking up to your real needs and then creating a new life design around them. So I made lists for each of those categories. Long lists. Then, over a period of time, I trimmed and purged the lists. And trimmed and purged some more. Mostly what I learned is that long lists can be reduced to very short lists, but I also learned that I really don't need or want that much.

Bringing in the May once again with my May cloth -- the words are from the Cambridge May Song....I love this song so much. This piece of cloth is to be my only stitching focus for the next few days.

I planted the forsythia with forsythia syrup in mind.

Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 cup of forsythia blossoms, cover and let steep for several hours, then strain. Add 1/2 cup of honey and refrigerate up to 3-4 weeks. I used this recipe.

The whole time I was collecting these juniper berries, I could hear the squirrels in the upper branches chewing and eating them. I have a few cooking/baking adventures in mind for these in addition to juniper's place in my herbal pharmacy.

A Venus of Willendorf in the making -- the basic pattern idea was from Marie at Ancient Threads (her blog is no longer online). Easy to make, I just folded a legal-size piece of paper in half and drew it freehand.

Back and front.


Her yoni is a small triangular piece of millinery flowers.

Her head-wear is another cluster of millinery flowers. She has wings.

Every spring I enact a new moon egg spell for myself, writing my deepest desires for the coming season on an egg. Some things have changed over the years, but I usually place it on my little altar to serve as a reminder throughout the month -- then on the day of the dark moon, the egg is buried and a pansy planted over it. This kind of moon work can be done anytime of year but it's nice to be able to bury it in the ground and plant something atop.

Revisiting and revamping an older cloth using new eyes. 

Dinner party favors made with little pots of pansies loosely wrapped in old book pages and string. 


'Tis herself.

Spring clean-up is well underway in my garden. I walk our little bit of land here in the city everyday. I try to notice the growth of plants from day to day and make future plans for planting food crops in and around established perennials, trees and bushes. The old saying "the best fertilizer is the farmer's footsteps" makes sense to me. For the last 10 or more years, I have not disturbed the soil except for planting. Each year I put a layer of compost on the soil along with other natural amendments. No more digging and churning and turning eliminates quite a bit wear and tear on my body and gives me more time for other things. The main reason being that I want to protect the mycelium from being damaged. A mycelium is a thread-like fungal network that unlocks nutrients for plants, helps plants resist pathogens, assists decomposition, releases carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere, serves as a food source for earthworms and much more beyond my lay-person understanding. A mycelium network can be microscopic or it can be miles long.

And we need it.

Blessed be you. xo

Thursday, February 14, 2019

make yourself yours

We each have our own paths, dreams, visions, creations, experiences and lessons as we live our lives. These are the things I journal about here on this web log, sometimes with long pauses in between. Lately I've been listening and dreaming about the coming year. What seeds to sow, projects to begin, commitments to make, books to read...and on and on it goes. And I find great pleasure in figuring out the best way for me to live a happy, authentic existence. It's a job we've all been assigned -- to make ourselves real.

I've begun stitching a little, on paper instead of cloth -- this image was part of a promotional postcard and the frame is just a cardboard box decoupaged with bits of book pages. She's very Brigid-like to me with her fiery hair.

When I looked for signs of life in the snowy garden the other day, I found a few new motherwort leaves that were perfect on my avocado toast. Motherwort isn't exactly a culinary herb but fresh anything has value. Only a month ago, there were still dandelions in the grass, but they've all disappeared now. This coming fall I vow to pot up and shelter a few dandelion and chive plants for winter use. 

Blanket stitching on another old postcard-turned-button-card.

I am intrigued by the Fire Goddess Brigid, forerunner of St. Brigid. Every year on her name-day, also known as Candlemas or Imbolc, I begin setting up a little tabletop Brigid altar. This year I included a Brigid image -- a little corn husk doll -- and instead of using plant material for my Brigid's cross, I wove a torn calendar page and inscribed it with various meditations (idea from here). The blue altar cloths were dyed with home-grown Japanese indigo. I still want to place a few more items on this altar -- some beeswax or a teeny-tiny jar of honey to represent all the activity about to resume in Nature, a little sun image for warmer days, and a lamb figurine for birth/rebirth. I am only touching on the surface of the Imbolc season here -- if you are so inclined to delve into the meaning or to explore the old ways and practices of Imbolc, there is still plenty of time. In the Celtic tradition Imbolc is three months long -- it begins now in late winter, goes through Spring Equinox and ends in late spring.

Homemade elderberry syrup poured over a waffle is possibly the best way I've found to take an immunity-boosting herbal medicine. 

As Imbolc is also the time to bless and potentize our seeds for spring planting, the basket of seeds serves as a symbol of good crops to come.

Pillows taken from other parts of the house over the holidays ended up all together on this bed -- a nice show of homemade and store bought. I have pretty good memories of the song You Are My Sunshine -- my mom sang it to us kids and my dad whistled it as he drove. It may or may not have been "their" song. As I always saw myself as being "the sunshine," the part about being taken away was concerning though -- please don't take my sunshine away. In my mind it was please don't take my Peggy away.

Nothing simpler or more wintry than glass cylinder candle holders slip-covered with white sweater sleeves.


The last of the Echinacea angustifolia tincture has been decanted and more must be made.

Little propagation vases filled with slips of plants brighten up dark spaces around the house -- sweet bay leaf, Laurus nobilis, and pink nerve plant, Fittonia albivenis here. I seem to have lost my knitting mojo, I knit the little candle mat over a year ago just as it was slipping away. I don't know where it has gone.

I'm enjoying walking our dog Talula on snowy days because we usually have the park to ourselves. Looking down, concentrating on being sure-footed on multi-layers of ice and snow -- my entire field of vision is such that I can imagine for just a moment that I live in another time and place. Maybe Finland or Sweden or even a mountaintop.

You need only to claim the events of your life to make yourself yours. When you truly possess all you have been and done, which may take some time, you are fierce with reality.  ~Florida Scott-Maxwell
Wishing you sunny days and blue snow blessings. xo