Monday, December 31, 2012

Wishes of Snow

It took some time, but winter has finally arrived in our neck of the woods.

J & I  keep checking the forecast.  Now that we work for ourselves, a snow day is fun, without all the worries.  For a fleeting few moments yesterday, there was snow in the forecast, then...poof... it was gone.

I figure a little snowy energy can't hurt.  Wishing you all manner of good things in 2013!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Wishes 2012

                             Wishing you days filled with cheer

and lots of good things to eat. 

From our home to yours, Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Into the Light

First off, I wanted to let you know about my learning curve with homemade vinegar.  I had mentioned starting a batch back in August.  Today, in cleaning out some little used areas, I came across an article on making vinegar, and was reminded that I forgot to strain the fruit out of the jars. They had been on a pantry shelf, behind closed doors, and I just forgot about the straining.  When I took a look today, I found the pear vinegar had molded on top, and the two jars of apple vinegar had fruit flies.  Bummer.  A few weeks into the process, all jars had a pleasant fermenting smell and a nice layer of mother on top.  The article recommended straining after 30 days, then letting it sit for another 3 months.  Then you can begin tasting it to see when it meets with your tastebuds approval.  If it doesn't taste ready after 4 months, just check in for a monthly taste.  Oh well, there's another layer in the compost bin today.  Nothing goes to waste here on the homestead.

Tomorrow morning, Winter and the Winter Solstice arrive at 6:12AM (EST).  It always cheers me to think we will begin to move back towards the light-filled days.  The days since 12-12-12, through 12-21 and into next year are also said to be very energetically charged, assisting in the shift that is upon us.  Wishing you light and energy to support you on your way.  Happy Winter Solstice, friends!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12-12-12 A Very Special Day

Today is said to be an auspicious day energetically, for the planet and all beings who reside upon her.  There are events happening around the globe to mark the day. There are two I'm aware of.  Earth-Keeper is doing a live streaming event from Arkansas, an area with significant crystalline deposits.  I'll be joining in a World Meditation with World Puja here.  Most events are centered around the noon or 12:12 timeframe.  However you spend your day, my wish is that you are surrounded by energies that support you in growth and joy.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Living Wild

Not long ago, I spoke of the increase in wildlife we expected here, due to the pond.  We were dismayed to find out today that something tried very hard to get to our cats last night.  That's the bottom of our shed door in the photo, and the hole is about a foot in height.  Though our cats have access to another outbuilding, the shed is typically where they choose to sleep.  Thankfully, Sage, Callie and Famata are present and looking fine today.  There was obviously some commotion that took place in the dogtrot between the shed and a small shop building as well.  There are signs of gray hair along the hole in the door.  As all the foxes seen here have been red ones, my best guess is that it was a coyote, which we regularly hear.  The pups were worked up the previous two nights... now we likely know why, but strangely, last night they did not wake us up.  Now I'm awfully worried about our hens.  We've had building a new chicken pen on our to-do list, but at present, if something wanted to go through the wood to get at them, there's nothing that would stop them.  I've said a prayer of protection for all of the animals in our care.  I hope that will be enough.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Pup and a Pond

Well, the pond is actually finished; all but the sowing of grass seed and placing of plants, which I'm sure will be ongoing for some time.  Joseph unrolled 10 of the big round bales of straw around the edges.  This will help keep runoff from going into the pond, as well as give a good surface to sow grass seed.

That's Rick's canoe.  He and Joseph used it to cut off the overflow pipe in the pond. I wished I'd gotten to watch, but was busy in the house, and they finished before I knew they'd begun.  The pups are having fun in all that straw.

I finished up some snowmen today, and will be wrapping soap during the lulls at one of the pottery shops I'll be minding tomorrow.  Then, it's set-up Friday evening for the Lark Handmade Holiday, my final show this year.  Whew!   I'll leave you with an appropriately-named song I've been enjoying- Ryan Farish  Beautiful .

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thankful 2012

There are many things to be thankful for throughout the year, but one thing I'm especially thankful for this time of year is all the time and effort Joseph has put, along with help from his son, in making sure we've got plenty of firewood, no matter what the winter brings. 

Wishing you a lovely and delicious Thanksgiving, whether surrounded by loved ones, or enjoyed in peaceful solitude.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Hellos and Goodbyes

We knew when we built the pond, we would see an increase in wildlife.  One morning recently, we saw 3 deer.  The following morning, I saw a red fox run across the dam.  My Mom tells me she's heard we've got more than the usual number of fox in the area this year.  I hope that doesn't bode poorly for the chickens.  We've already had one loss this week.  Our beautiful rooster, Hawk, stuck his head in the wire which surrounds our rose garden, and in the struggle to get free, killed himself.  The guys were talking in front of the shop, and noticed some odd movement.  By the time they walked the few yards from the shop to the rose garden, he had broken his neck.  He and I didn't always have the easiest of relationships.  I had to carry a squirt bottle filled with water to ward off his attacks, but for the past month or so, he'd been on his best behavior, and I had stopped carrying it.  It sounds awfully quiet around here without his crowing.

Next weekend is the annual Celebration of Seagrove Potters.  I won't be in the show, as it's strictly for potters, but for the next 6 out of 7 days, I'll be involved behind the scenes, at either the Celebration or filling in at one of the area shops to free up some of the potters.  I feel privileged to live among so many fine and talented folks. I'll leave you with these amazing sculptures to enjoy-

Friday, November 2, 2012

Well Wishes Across the Miles

I love this quote I recently found on Soul Soup Sister :
'The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it.' ― David W. Orr, 'Ecological Literacy'

This week, the first of the pumpkins has been canned.  Good thing, as there were only 2 quarts left on the pantry shelves, and one of those went to make Grandma's Pumpkin soup tonight.  There are a couple new laundry bags for this weekend's show, and a new rebar table listed in the shop.  The flowers in the bouquet  are most of what was picked before our first frost.  I'm always sad to see them go. 

It's hard to imagine what so many are going through in the aftermath of Sandy.  The neighborhood where I spent much of my childhood, on Long Island, was apparently quite hard hit.  So many blessings here in our little home.  Hopefully, good thoughts and well wishes do travel across the miles.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Just Now: 10/26/12


In my mug- warm chai, the first batch of the season

In my ears- In Reverance by David Tolk.... enjoying creating a new Pandora station.  Also, the sound of acorns falling on the tin roof

In the air- the scent of lavender, from a fresh batch of soap just put in the mold

Thankful for- flannel sheets on the bed, sweet pups napping nearby, working from home after nights in which I get little sleep

On my nightstand- Dies the Fire by S.M. Stirling, The Sedona Journal

Looking forward to- cutting bouquets to enjoy in the house before the first freeze early next week

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Laughter and Conversation

Whynot Pottery's 30 Year Celebration and New Earth Fabrication's Open House were both great fun this past weekend.  We had beautiful weather for the show at Whynot.  Many folks came out to be the first to try Four Saints St. Nicholas Christmas Ale, and do some shopping too.  There weren't a huge amount of people at the Open House, but those that were there were quality folks!  Chuck Brodsky never fails to delight me with his wonderful music, stage presence, and all around niceness.  A group of young farm interns were great fun, some of the funniest folks I've met in quite a while.  We let the pups out while they were still here, and it was a delight to watch them all together around the bonfire.  I can't remember the last time I laughed so much. 

I've been pondering this space here, wondering if I should continue this blog.  It seems the blogs with dedicated, commenting followers have fairly consistent content, whether that's gardening, recipes, artful endeavors, beautiful photography, homemaking, etc.  I realize this blog is eclectic, rather much like my life.  One post may be about the garden, another on my latest craft project, yet another on New Earth's latest biofuel project, the pond, or the pups. Or maybe all of those rolled into one. 

I read something that struck a chord on Maya's lovely blog, and it is that she intends for her blog to be a conversation, rather than a journal.  That's it exactly.  I know how busy we all are these days.  And I think you know I believe it's all good.  I've just learned to pay attention to where the energy flows in my life, and it feels as though this space is lacking in energy at this point.  I'm sure there will be things I want to share here, but I'm going to let go of any idea of how often that needs to be.  There are plenty of things in my life that could use an influx of good energy, and so for now, that feels right.  If you have thoughts about what you'd especially like to see here, or things you wouldn't care if you never saw again, feel free to comment.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

October Days

I hope you are enjoying these October days.  There was an all too brief hour in the garden on Monday, doing fall clean-up and some weeding.  My mind is whirling with everything that needs to be done between now and Saturday, plus a new idea or two for garden art.  I could use a clone right about now.  I'll be at the the Open House on Saturday evening, and Whynot Pottery on Saturday and  Sunday.  Hope to see you at one or both.   Otherwise I'll see you next week, friends!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Oh, Lovely Autumn

green & gold

12 apostles lily

                        Wishing you a beautiful weekend!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Don't Try This at Home

This is what happens when you put a toad in your mouth. I wouldn't recommend it.  The poor fellow was just hanging out next to our porch, minding his own business, when McNibs decided a taste was in order.  He (the toad) was none worse for the wear physically, though I expect he was traumatized by the event.  I moved him to a safe spot, one out of reach of silly pups.  I must say, I do believe he was the fattest toad I've ever seen.  Or do toads puff up when defending themselves, sort of like blowfish?  If you know that sort of thing, do tell.

Though the garden has definitely got "the dwindles", I did manage to harvest a couple handfuls of purple podded green beans, concord grapes, okra, 2 apples and a few calendula blossoms today.  I transplanted the few lettuces that came up, from the garden to the cold frame, and am deciding if I'm going to do that with some of the kale.  We usually have the cold frame planted long before now, so I'm working on Plan B at the moment.

I've been working on some things for upcoming shows I'm participating in.  That's a batch of St. Clements soap above, one of my seasonal soaps.  First up will be Whynot Pottery's 30th year Celebration On Oct. 13th.  Joining us will be Four Saints Brewery, unveiling their St. Nicholas Christmas Ale. Come be among the first to try what is sure to be some tasty brew!  The following weekend, I'll be at Whitaker Farms Hwy. 64 location for their Art in The Garden event.  If you decorate with pumpkins (click on the link for a coupon), mums and pansies for autumn, come on by, and support some local artists too.  I've heard there will be some wonderful birdhouses for sale. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Colorful Coleus

I wanted to stop by to assure you I'm still here, just working many more than the usual hours with the shop, as well as away from here.  Which is good.  It just doesn't leave me much time to create blog posts.  I'll get by here when I can, and trust that you'll be savoring these golden fall days.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Revisiting Tasha

I've been revisiting Tasha Tudor of late, reading books about her and feeling very drawn to the simple dresses and aprons she wore daily.  That's her above.  Even the sweet shawls wrapped around her shoulders are calling to me.  I'd love to find some simple patterns  for these things.  If you're aware of any, would you please share them?  This photo of her inspires me greatly; strength, grace and beauty as I age. Yes!

Days have been busy with classes, setting up a booth at the Market, working at a local shop as well as the New Earth shop.  But I've managed to finish one small project I've been wanting to do for some time.  The cabinet that holds the PC has panels on the inside, a perfect spot for a small chalkboard.  So, after taping and a couple of coats of chalkboard paint, I now have two spots to make notes.  It's the little things that make me happy.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Shift of Light

The light is shifting.  The shadows in the afternoon are becoming longer, and the days are softer, with an occasional chilly night.  I am loving these days, after the record heat this summer.  The pups are enjoying being outdoors most of the day.  I so enjoy having the windows open, bringing the sweet, fresh air in.  I've already noticed hints of tangy autumn scents on the breeze.

Purple and yellow flowers take center stage now; black eyed susans, goldenrod, and obedient plant among them.  The native muscadines are ripening, and every evening I gather a pocketful on my walk.  The pups sniff out the fallen ones, and enjoy their fair share of them too.  I'm hoping I'll soon have enough grapes to make a batch of jam with them.  This Sunday will be the last Market I'll participate in this year.  It looks like it's going to be a lovely day to spend outdoors.  Wishing you the loveliest of late summer days! 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Herbs Make Good Scents

The weekend was mellower than many lately, including a 50th birthday party we attended.  I hope yours was an enjoyable one.  Herbs were gathered yesterday-- first jiaogulan, which I'm drying, and will turn into a medicinal tincture.  I planted the vine two years ago, and this was the first harvest.  There are a number of claims to this herb; adaptogen, immune strengthening, cholesterol lowering, anti-aging and cancer inhibiting among them.  It is often compared to ginseng.  More info here.  I'm looking forward to trying this one.

Then shiso, both both purple and green.  Shiso is edible, as well as being a good anti-inflammatory herb.  I've begun a tincture with it.  This is one Joseph takes daily, so I wanted to replenish our supply.

Last was Sweet Annie, which are drying in bundles, and will soon be available in my shop.  I'd known this sweet-smelling plant as a strewing herb, but learned it also has medicinal value as an anti-malarial, as well as parasitic.  Another anti-malarial that is native on this land is Wild Quinine.  I've never harvested it, but admire it on my walks.   Now that the medicinal herbs are in progress, I really ought to begin making pesto out of all that basil out there!   Which herbs are you growing for food or medicine?

Friday, September 7, 2012

Gelo Familia

The days have been full these past few weeks.  There was a family gathering of Mom and her brothers families over Labor Day weekend.  Eggplant and green beans from the garden have been canned.  A batch of apples were dehydrated.  I've started dehydrating pears and begun pear vinegar with the peelings and cores.

I recently found some new canister sets donated to a local thrift shop.  Enter a diamond drill bit, a carbon filter, and voila... new compost crocks in my shop

I've been wanting to ramp up my compost making for some time.  There are two compost bins chock full, so I asked Joseph to create a compost sifter for my birthday, and he obliged.  Now, which plants will get all that rich, organic bounty?  Have a wonderful weekend, friends!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Homemade on the Homestead: Deodorant and Apple Cider Vinegar

A few things have kept me from posting this week.  For one, Joseph has needed my help in the shop more than usual.  Getting more hours there is a good thing.  Our sweet pup, Guinness, had a bit of (routine) surgery as well.  He's not quite his spunky self just yet, but is doing very well.  There's a new item I've been working on for my shop, which I'll share once I've taken pics.

Thanks to generous neighbors, there are apples drying in the dehydrator, and a batch of apple cider vinegar started.  In the past, I've juiced the apples to begin.  Today, I'm trying this, using just the cores and peels.  I did add some of the "mother" from the previous batch, and will be adding more peels and cores to it over the next few days.  I was happy with the way the last batch turned out, but if I can do without using the juicer, that'll be one less gadget to clean, which is always a good thing.

This homemade deodorant has passed every test with flying colors.  Hot, humid days doing manual labor in the shop is about as much as I can throw at it, and it kept me non-stinky :o)  Can't ask for more than that.  The original recipe came from Heather at Beauty that Moves.  Her lovely blog has been a favorite of mine for a couple of years, so it's no surprise this recipe is now a favorite too.

Heather's Coconut Oil Deodorant

1/4 cup arrowroot powder
1/4 cup baking soda
4 tablespoons coconut oil (the recipe called for extra virgin; I substituted regular)
10 drops lavender essential oil
3-4 drops patchouli essential oil

In a medium bowl, sift arrowroot and baking soda.  Add coconut oil and essential oils.
Using a fork, combine well (as if you were cutting butter into flour).
Next, using the back of a large serving spoon, press the mixture together to work it into a smooth paste.
Pack mixture into a glass jar (a 4 oz canning jar is perfect) and it's ready to use.  Store at room temperature.

To use:  Scoop a small amount onto your fingertips and apply to underarms.  Your body heat will almost instantly melt it and you can easily rub it in.    Note: there is the faintest hint of white when you first apply.

So many essential oils have antibacterial properties, I'm sure you could substitute others if you're not a fan of patchouli.  I'm thinking I may try sandalwood next time, possibly rosemary another.  It's such a good product, I've pondered adding the deodorant to my shop, for those who don't care to make it themselves.  I'd appreciate any input on that.  Have a beautiful, late summer weekend, friends!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

She Said What?!

I had to chuckle when I saw the pic of those bees on the sedum.  They reminded me of a couple of gossiping ladies.

Joseph saw the first blue heron on our pond this morning. He called to me, but by the time I got out there, it had flown off.  We've been planning our seating areas, and even a treehouse overlooking the pond. What a pleasure it will be to sit and look upon the wildlife that will visit.

An update on the homemade deodorant... this stuff rocks!  The final test will be tomorrow, when I'll be sitting outdoors at the Market all day.  I've worked in the garden, and worked in the shop, and it's far better than the natural, "boughten" brand I've been using.  I'll keep you posted. By the way, the flower in the 2nd photo is clitoria mariana, named for ummm... rather obvious reasons.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Dance of The Butterflies

This morning, I wanted to share some of the activity on my favorite butterfly bush.

The bush is located along the drive near the shop.

So much beauty to accompany me while I've worked.

A hummingbird moth has joined in.

So much to enjoy on these sweet and simple summer days.