“Tending my inner garden went splendidly this winter. Suddenly to be healed again and aware that the very ground of my being — my mind and spirit — was given time and space in which to go on growing; and there came from my heart a radiance I had not felt so strongly for a long time… ”
Rainer Maria Rilke, to Heise, 1922
The sun definitely begins to restore that “radiance” in January. The still, bright night sky all a lit with pure silver cast stars! The sun that lingers in the kitchen while I fix dinner, cats wandering on counter tops. I feel like we primarily driven by the sun and the moon, so it makes total sense to me that the longer days have me dabbling with seeds, earth and growth!
I have sensed revival and growth – and maybe I express it through a primeval way – working with new life.
The earth and plants have bewitched me and I feel like I’ve become their faithful, voluntary servant.
And so, early in January I began to take a little bit of action in this realm, despite the seed packet guidelines. My logic is that I have house plants of all kinds, so why shouldn’t I be able to start some perennials as “houseplants” before transplanting outdoors. I have done this for the past 2 years since we have had our own acre and never experienced any problems with starting some early plants! It actually really deepens my bond with the particular plant because they receive so much early care (as opposed to my plants in April because there are hundreds!)
So it begins… I can’t wait for the day in May that we go to the nursery, the greenhouses! But for now, I really don’t mind just the stirring of life, the rising sun and clear night skies.
In other parts of my small world – I am working in the library, knitting a sweater that just needs button bands and buttons and preparing to make a little pattern available on here for the last pair of fingerless mitts. It may be so confusing which is why I am just going to put it up here and state “make at own risk.”
In memoriam of Dolores O’Riordan – she helped me through being a teenager and always, always made me think of spring and life and growth and just moving on. I feel so incredibly sad for her and her family and just wanted to share with you her beautiful voice ❤ May she rest in peace
The sun has set and it’s not yet 4:30! The days have been grey, but every evening the horizon hosts a brilliant pink and gold sunset, fading in the west to a gentle dream-like purple. It only skims the skyline below the grey cloud, but it is beautiful! My window faces the west.
We are having very happy days, my Mom is visiting and we have been spending time knitting by the fire sipping peppermint tea, re-potting plants, going for long winter walks with the dogs, watching silly Holiday movies and gushing over Collette O’Neill of Bealtaine Cottage. She brought rose plants for me, hand-sewn bags for our etsy shop and little pieces of porcelain. Every evening we have been having delicious home cooked meals (last night was a fish chowder – one of my favourite meals of all time… not stereotypical at all for a Maritimer) and I’ve just felt so warm and happy. Tomorrow, I am working in one of the libraries (and consequently, going to the Spinners & Weavers Guild to do some spinning and dyeing!) so we will say goodbye just for a short while.
We both love to use our hands – create! Since she has been here she has made a sweater for a wee one and has already started a pair of baby soakers (She has two grandchildren on the way and I am soon to be an aunt to 3!!!). I have attached the arms of the grey lopi sweater and put it aside to work on a pair of lopi mittens for the Etsy shop. I also finally used some calendula and rose infused oil, combined with beeswax and spruce sap that I collected last winter to create a salve.
We also went to a plant shop in Charlottetown this week to bring home a little bit of pure happiness. Plants are so expensive so I just continually get clippings from other plants, root or start from seeds but occasionally, I buy a new plant >.< I bought a little cactus and a succulent. I also received a very sacred package from Incredible Seed Company in Nova Scotia. I ordered a some seeds that need warm and then cold stratification in order for them to germinate. I will be busy this weekend 🙂 I have already started dreaming about planting for next year so there is nothing better than getting started early 😀
And now, I am sitting by the fire listening to the ambient works of Aphex Twin. My Mom and Jamie are making dinner together and I am going to join them. I do hope you enjoy this and are finding happiness and solace in the darker part of the year (and happiness to all those in the light half!).
It has been awhile. I am SO inconsistent, especially because I have been drawn into a place and time sans social media or blogging or even e-mail. Of my own choosing… I didn’t go to an off-grid camp or anything like that (although.. I would love to :))! Sometimes, I just love to detach and it’s beginning to feel like such a luxury, so wonderful to be “offline.” It’s funny because I feel as though going back online is returning to “the real world” when in fact, it’s anything but! But… it’s the reason why I feel like I’m not alone in my musings, my hobbies, the way I see this world!
Alas! I have SO much to share. The first is that our dear orange tabby, Petey, is well! After my last post, we had to bring him back to the vet. He was put on a catheter and had to stay at overnight : ( I was so worried about him…. but knew that we could not do what the vet could at home. He is much better and is drinking fluids and peeing. He slept curled up against me the whole night that he came home ❤
I have been making and gardening quite a bit. Jamie and I planted garlic this morning. Our wood is almost completely split and stacked and we had our first frost and consequently fire yesterday. I love fall so much, it’s so fleeting. On our walk this morning, most of the bright red sugar maple leaves were already under our feet. The earth is damp and the north winds strong. Henry and I have been walking down a beautiful wooded path to the river that we live by every day. The mossy parts of this wood are replete with beloved mushrooms.
Mushrooms…. the reason why I write to you today. What amazing specimens they are! Not only are they adorable and surrounded with fairy lore, they are beyond healthful and practical! A couple of months ago, I posted on instagram about wanting to dye a pair of socks with lichen. A user suggested that I use a type of mushroom: Cortinarius Semisanguineas or red-gilled webcap. On one of our walks, I was looking very closely (okay, on my belly in the moss looking up at the gills…not weird at all) and noticed how beautiful the colours of this mushroom was and it clicked. It was the very mushroom that the user had suggested! I got so excited and went back to the spot with my knife and a basket to collect and experiment ❤
And so! What did I do? Welllllll, I first collected mushrooms. I have read a lot about dyeing wool and nothing intrigues me more than using what grows close to you rather than what you can buy from a grocer. I am not despairing the use of avocado or yellow onion skins (I plan on trying both!) I just don’t find the process as exciting, rewarding and directly engaging with this eco-region! Something that naturally finds its home and is nourished by the same rain water that falls on my skin, on the earth that grows our food. I want so badly to be more entrenched in the land around me. Dyeing is such an ancient way to connect to the land, to even represent the region you live! I remember as a Celtic Studies student, learning that Scottish tartans began to be associated with certain clans simply due to the plants that were available in their region!
I first boiled some water with Alum and Cream of Tartar. Once boiled, I added the wool and let it simmer for a short while (This is a mordant. A mordant is the chemical composition that holds the natural dye to the fibre, otherwise you could end up with very washed out colours after exposure to the elements or a wash). I used pure white wool from MacAuslands here on PEI and an angora wool from We are Knitters. once this wool was dry, I collected a small basket full of mushrooms (I only like taking a portion of what the earth provides), boiled them on the fire in the backyard and added the wool with the boiled mushroom broth in a mason jar. Cortinarius Semisanguineas are actually poisonous so be cautious when handling! They will not harm as a dye but they are not edible and I wasn’t crazy about having them in the house for long, especially with 4 wild ones about. I repeated this process 3 times, hanging the experimental wool in a crab apple tree to dry.
I have looked at quite a few pictures online. I believe it was the amount of the mordant that made my end result significantly paler than what I have seen and the amount of mushroom caps that I used. Other examples are such a deep orange or red! I really like the salmon shade that these turned out. I did try one strand of wool without a mordant and it was significantly darker.
There you have it! My first experiment with a close to home fungi! I am SO excited about this project. It was a lot of fun and very inspiring. I hope you enjoyed this, even if you just looked at the photographs! In our yard is a beautiful horse chestnut tree and I hope to use the husks to actually make a pair of fingerless mitts using the two colours 🙂
Autumnal blessings to you and I hope this post finds you well, inspired and happy ❤ I would love to hear about your own experiments or even desires with natural dyeing!
How are you all! I am currently sitting at my kitchen counter, taking a break from making pizzas to finally post my last experience with plants, gardening and herbalism of April 2017. It has been a beautiful past week, the sun is shining right into the window before me, bathing the plants and warming my soul. The wind has lost her bite and is back to being a good, powerful ally. One of my favourite friends.
This week has been extremely busy and I am happy to finally sit down and not have a million things going on in my head at once (Although, I might still be buzzing – still need to finish those taxes… sigh). We have been graced with the most refreshing rain (that Henry and I got caught in yesterday, drenched to the bone!), such pleasant warm temperatures and just a general blissful attitude in the midst of a little bit of chaos.
WHY have we been so busy? Well, I am knee deep in garden working – sowing already potatoes, onions, kale, spinach and wildflowers, collecting natural fertilizer from the sea, planting trees, working with the indoor seedlings as well as just other general things. Aside from that, which obviously is only limited to certain times of the day – our washing machine broke. Yes, it is a 12 year old machine that came with the house when we bought it. I felt rather stressed since we absolutely need a washing machine and the price to replace one is not cheap. Moreover, the room in which our washer and dryer are hooked up is reached to by going through our upstairs bathroom (probably once a hallway to the room). Well, the previous owners must have had the washer installed and afterwards, installed a corner shower in the bathroom because the shower blocks about 5 inches of the old door (I’m sorry if this is confusing! It’s an old house and some things just negate common sense since these houses were not built for showers and washing machines!). Our solution? We tore out the shower with the intention of redoing the whole bathroom (it needed to be done at some point, why not now?). So, our first renovation job for our house is coming a little bit earlier than anticipated! Thankfully, our new washing machine arrived yesterday, so I can finally, finally, finally wash our clothes at home (it has been broken 2 months – yes, we procrastinate and used a laundromat), including sheets and quilts and arg I am so excited! I really never thought I would see the day that a washing machine would excite me SO much (Have you watched Tales from the Green Valley? The old way of doing laundry was SO so so much work, I’m very grateful for these machines). Next step is to build a clothesline and then I will be feeling very grateful indeed.
Anyhow, that was a little overwhelming and maybe a little too much about washing machines. I wanted to share a couple of pictures from the week about some of the things we have been up to. The crocuses and siberian squill are blooming – the tulips rising. Dandelions are popping up all over the place and I have been digging up, scrubbing and cutting up the roots for roasted tea (the plants that have crept up in garden spaces). The robins have been flying to and fro and I even saw 3 Cedar Waxwings the other day! The tide has been so incredibly low on our evening walks to the river and we are only spotting gulls and ducks – no longer the Canadian Geese.
On the New Moon, I planted a bed of red and yellow onions, russet potatoes, kale and spinach. I also began to dig a new garden by our driveway because the earth is amazing. We think that some time in the past, someone must have had a fire in this spot. I have dug up small glass bottles with twisted tops, forged nails, and animal bones. The soil is nearly black which is such a contrast to our regular red soil! I look forward to planting flowers and am hopeful to perhaps start a rose plant for rosehips. I’ve collected all of the dandelion roots in this area to roast for tea but first they are drying on a screen! I am SO excited that collecting and working with plants again has begun 🙂 I do believe that we are about a week ahead of last year.
A R T & O T H E R T H I N G S
Not much art has taken place – or anything aside from domestic and gardening stuff but alas, I did a couple of things! Granted, they are small. But I thought you might enjoy them!
I also finished a hazel heather Pangur Bán sweater! I will make a post next week, when it has dried and we have some photos for the etsy shop.
I am still reading Outlander, but have also been reading through The Celtic Realms by Nora Chadwick and Myles Dillon because… Jamie and I are going to I R E L A N D in 2 weeks and I can barely believe this is happening. Many of the places we are staying do not have internet, so I will probably not be using it much at all but I will be sure to make some posts about it when we get back. This is a pretty important trip for us, especially since I was a Celtic Studies student and feel a great connection to my Irish Ancestry (which I’m always scoffed at for when I meet people from Ireland!! Sorry, we don’t have thousands of years of history in Canada that we feel rooted in). I am ecstatic… and have kept it in for several months since we knew we were definitely going. But, soon dear fae friends, you will be bombarded by two small Canadians’ adventure on the emerald isle!!
Sadly, I must go! I enjoy writing these posts so much as I feel as though I’m communicating and almost having tea with all of you! This evening we are having friends over for homemade food and a bonfire, sending off a friend who is going away for the next month and a half. I am also seeing it as an early Beltaine celebration. I have so many other things on my mind, that really makes me feel like blogging more despite the death of blogging (I know I am so late to this).
I’ll be back next week! taking another solid break from SM this week for my sanity and clarity of mind!
Well, the pink moon has passed but any opportunity to quote Nick Drake 🙂
The weather is WARM and the sun has been gracing us with his presence! I am happy, so incredibly happy. A little sun burnt and exhausted but so full of the cleansing, full happiness that fresh air and manual labour brings. I’m back to communing with the land, with roots and branches, robins and bluejays. April is a muddy and plan brown (or red on PEI), drab time of year here, but as soon as you get outside and take a wee closer look at the earth, the trees the colours of life on this green earth are just abounding.
The work on our 1.25 acre is endless. Especially since our plans include using every inch of space for flower, vegetable and herb gardens, animals and trees. We have a huge checklist which includes new gardens, a ton of raking, preparing wood for next winter, tending to our forest (really a small wood but the forest just sounds so much more majestic ;)), mulching, digging, burning, felling trees (I’m starting to sound a little destructive but it’s all part of the process!).
This week has been g l o r i o u s. I completely disconnected from instagram and feel as free as a bird by just removing myself from social media. The earth is speaking to all of us, if we listen and work with her.
At this time of year, we are not even touching vegetable gardens because the earth is too damp to turn. So, it’s mainly raking, woodland, and clearing up flower gardens. I even started to plant some chestnuts that have sprouted in our basement. I hope you enjoy the photos of our work and can not WAIT to show you the contrast of now and a couple of months!
I N S I D E
And on the indoor front – it’s getting a little wild! The plants are shooting up and need daily care. The tomatoes are strong and the herbs already fragrant. The lupin seeds I collected on the side of the road last year have sprouted and I am beyond excited to give back to the insects of our world!
A P R I L P I C K S
I’m reading OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon and I can already say that it is fantastic. A friend of mine suggested it when I told her I was watching the show and felt like it was made for us (plants, magic, Highlands of Scotland, yes please!). I stopped watching it immediately and started the book
I’m also reading through some Norwegian Folk Tales as well as our man, Ronald Hutton’s Witches, Druids and King Arthur.
TV / PODCASTS
Other than repeatedly watching Tales from the Green Valley, I’ve been listening to The Higherside Chats with Greg Carlwood – about fringe topics. He has an episode on PLANTS that I definitely suggest called “Earth Alchemy, Plant Spirits, & Engineered Abundance” with Shamangineer. My sister suggested it to me and I am hooked. It’s available both in his website and youtube.
Maybe I’ll reveal a part of myself I don’t tend to share on the internets but, I was thinking of making a compilation of books/videos/documentaries on modern fairy lore. I’ll start with a really fun documentary that hits very close to home here on the East Coast ❤ ❤ ❤
It’s the last day of M A R C H! You guys, I am so excited. Right now, it’s blowing snow, minus 10 with that wind chill and just down right unpleasant. I love winter, but this slow rebirth honestly tears at my soul. I’m confused and feel like I’ve been swallowed up by some eternal grey and cold void. But it’s never as bad as all that, since it’s so temporary and it won’t be long before we are outside in the sunshine smelling the damp earth.
I am currently sitting by a drafty window with my big headphones on blasting the band QUILT (self titled album) and drinking caffeinated beverages interspersed with water and trying to figure out how I am going to write about the almost non-existent March gardening season (PHEW long sentence!). But I can’t stop thinking about how I need to play guitar and mandolin more and just change my life completely? Throw away my phone, read more books and just work on becoming telepathic with plants and how can I start writing music (sounds reasonable)?
A N Y W A Y . . .
If there is one thing that lets me feel a never ending sense of life and excitement during this time of year, it’s SEEDS! Yes, seeds. This year, I ordered some from the Incredible Seed Company and Hope Seeds (both heritage seed companies in Nova Scotia). I have a few packets from Heritage Harvest Seed (now 2 years old) and Veseys, an Island company about half hour drive from our place. I also have quite a few collected from the garden. My ultimate goal is to become self sufficient and not have to buy seeds, but this is only our 2nd year on our acre, so not quite there.
I started …
Tomatoes (many different types: Bloody Butcher, Alaska Tomatoes, Acadian Cherry Tomatoes, German Johnson, Black Prince, Black Krim, Orange Mennonite Beefsteak, Amish Canning Tomatoes, Early Rouge… Okay I have an addiction to buying seeds), peppers, F L O W E R S & H E R B S (lavender, rosemary, basil, sage, catnip, hollyhock, echinacea, black eyed daisies, bergamot, strawflower, poppies, zinnias and I know I’m forgetting quite a few).
I also planted a giant pumpkin seed which is slow going and a couple of pine tree seeds that I collected in the fall. Last year, I planted Oak and Horse Chestnut so hopefully this year, I can add some pine to the property.
S T A R T I N G E A R L Y
For the past couple of years, I have followed the instructions on seed packets. 6-8 weeks indoors before the last frost in your area. Last year, many of our flowers bloomed around (or didn’t bloom for that matter) the first frost of the season. Our tomatoes had to ripen inside and our pumpkins were definitely not orange or big enough to carve. I don’t know if this is going to be WAY too early to start a lot of our tomatoes and flowers, but my rationale is that when I go to the nurseries in late May and Early June to buy perennials, they are WAY older than 8 weeks and they do swell.
E C H I N A C E A
Echinacea is sprouting! I am so excited, last year I planted a lot of it hoping that we would forever have echinacea in the summer. Nothing happened at all. I was disappointed, my visions of an everlasting supply of the cold busting flower destroyed. I blamed it on the seeds not being viable and bought new seeds from a different company, without actually doing research on growing the flower. When it came to starting it again… I did the sensible thing and looked it up on the internet. Apparently, you should stratify the seeds, so I put them in a damp paper towel, sealed in a plastic bag for a week or two and placed it in a cupboard in the kitchen. Lo and behold, they sprouted! I was SO excited and immediately went to the recycling and found a home for them.
H O L L Y H O C K S
I dream of a house being surrounded by the fairy tale flower, and will do my absolute best to grow these. The past two years, I have failed terribly. I bought seeds from Heritage Harvest Seed Company (I think out of Manitoba) and I could not start the hollyhock seeds at all. This year, I ordered from a company much closer to PEI (Hope Seeds in Nova Scotia) and have about 5 little plants growing! I am going to baby these in the hopes that they will grow and grow and grow and live on for the centuries to come on our little farmstead.
They are black jet Hollyhocks and I dream about them at night. They are growing into beautiful wee plants and this is the reason why I am planning to document plant growth. I can’t wait to show you in August or September.
W A X I N G R E P O T T I N G
And, when the new moon graced the skies, my Mom (visiting for the week <3) and I repotted many of the house companion plants: Aloe Vera, Jade, Hoya Wax Plant, Peperomia, Spider plant, English Ivy, Haworthia. You have bigger homes now for the summer and I hope you will be happy!
F A C I N G the C O L D
During my Mom and Merlin’s visit this week – we still braved the cold, heading out through the fields to visit the hundreds upon hundreds of Canadian Geese on the river.
Queen’s Anne Lace
T H A N K Y O U
And I just want to thank you for reading and joining me on this absolutely magical journey of starting plants from seeds. I almost feel like I need to apologize for the total lack of colour from my posts lately, the glimpses of green though – life and more life in this grey and stark winter world. It won’t be long I hope before our world is bursting with colour. Before, winter feels like a distant dream and summer a sweet, buggy reality.
Planting seeds is E A S Y and honestly so incredibly vital to life on this planet. Evolution before your eyes. Vesey Seeds is currently giving away free packets of wildflower seeds in an effort to bring the extremely concerning issue of vanishing bee populations to the public as well as obviously providing more food for the bees. If you would like your own packet to help out, simply fill out a form by clicking H E R E
Grow my prettties
A delicious end of March Meal made by Jamie ❤ and bread by me – homemade peasant loaf and cottage pie with turnip
Rejoice, rejoice! It’s cold outside with a north wind. I’m sitting on a cushion on the floor while the animals sprawl out on the couch. I felt like just doing a quick post, to share a few pictures of our last weekend of winter.
Despite the cold and the wind, I still feel spring in the air. This past weekend, we didn’t just hear the crows cawing but all kinds of birds and geese honking overheard. The bluejays have returned to our compost pile and the tips of the maples have buds. Spring is a late bloomer here and we likely will be in an in between state for another month. We are all itching to get outside.
The sun was so strong this Saturday and the temperature so pleasant. Jamie and I had a busy weekend going for walks with Henry, working outside and going on aimless country drives. It was a really beautiful end to this winter and I wanted to share with you little bits and pieces.
The outdoor work on this little piece of land seems endless! This weekend, we focused on picking up sticks that have fallen during the winter gales. We had a bonfire and let the chickens and Henry free (Henry is pretty good with the chickens, although she occasionally runs as fast as she can at them to scatter them to the wind ).
The end of winter! I can barely believe it! It does go by so quickly. I would like to do more posts about gardening and despite the cold, I have started quite a few seeds already indoors. But the extent of our gardening this month is cleaning up the yard and starting a few seeds. I am ecstatic for the growing season!
This March morning, the sun is shining and the birds are singing in the trees! I went out to feed the chickens in my pajamas and a touque, trusting that the bright sun would warm me despite the dusting of snow on the ground. It was glorious and I can’t wait to get out there today! But first, I wanted to share with you something I worked on this week, carving stamps.
Anyone can carve their own stamps, it’s fun and really rewarding! If you wanted, you could even make a template with a leaf or a dried flower, there are so many options! The only material you need is a linoleum cutter and whatever block you choose to carve (I am using the rubber from Speedball – available at most craft stores and extremely easy to work with). I started this week, knowing that I wanted to make a very simple dandelion stamp for my tinctures (in my previous post!). That small stamp, launched me into a morning obsession. I decided to make a series of three of my favourite flowers that bloomed here on this land last year: marigold, tulips and poppies.
I am forever and ever inspired by the medieval woodcuts of plants. I can’t explain why, I simply love the blocky, linear designs (Perhaps, I’ll do a whole post on woodcuts someday – or a series of them). I hope my work will help shed some light on why I love this style so much and perhaps inspire you to look into the botanists and printmakers of the past ;).
I also made a small set of cards, available on my Art Etsy Shop: Wood Folk Prints
Thank you so much for reading and I hope you enjoy the pictures of my process and work.
Since I was a little girl, nothing seemed so appealing to me than living deep in the woods, immersed with the plants, the cycle of the moon, the animals. The dirt swept clean with my broom and the leaves entangled in my hair. I wanted to be a witch. In fact, most children I knew wanted to be witches or let’s face it – felt like we were witches. I remember at around 7, speaking to the sky for it to rain and feeling the most awesome power when a drop, then another and another fell on my skin.
In the very back of our property, there was a large vegetable and herb garden as well as a large brick fire pit conveniently located beside “the witches’ fort.” This was an enclosure of twisted apple trees that not only formed 4 “walls” and a door, but a roof! My Dad laid the ground within the trees with red brick. I can’t really express how perfect this spot was, we had wooden shelves and stump tables and seats. My Mom actually let us have an old broom out there as well as an ancestral cooking pot (I think she regretted it later), some wooden salad bowls and wooden spoons. I didn’t really know what else you could want in life!
I remember walking barefoot to the garden, picking herbs and placing them in the pot with some puddle water while munching away on chives. Now, as an adult, I am essentially doing the exact same thing – still barefoot in the summer but making tinctures and infusions!
M A K I N G T I N C T U R E S
During the waxing Snow Moon, I combined our homemade Apple Cider Vinegar with all of our dried dandelion leaves and roots to make a super tonic! According to Mountain Rose Herbs, using a vinegar to extract and preserve a plant is an “extract” rather than a tincture (which uses alcohol) – but tinctures just sound so much more fun ;).
I simply combined dried dandelion leaves and roots in a large mason jar and covered with Apple Cider Vinegar. I stored it in a cool, dry spot out of direct sunlight (a cupboard) and shook it every once in a while, to make sure the plant parts were completely covered with the liquid. It sat in the cupboard for around 5 weeks (I mark it on my calendar so I know for sure). The vinegar extracts and preserves the potent healing elements of the plant as well as adding some super beneficial bacteria and enzymes (I’m not a health professional so don’t quote me on anything! I simply like old folk methods).
I decided to name them SAP MOON since I bottled them on the Full Moon in March. My calendar calls this the WORM MOON but that really doesn’t make any sense for where we live in the North East. Sap makes so much more sense since this is the time we tap our maple trees to make the most delicious sweetener on the planet, Maple Syrup :D. I also love the idea of working by the cycles of the moon for making concoctions as well as gardening and tending to plants!
I also love the idea of naming now all my infusions or herbal remedies the name of whatever full moon it is – that way I know the rough date (you can always check back online to see if you need the exact date) to know the age of your remedies. I added a little “2017” on the label in the case that it somehow gets shoved to the back of my cupboard and makes an appearance in 10 years ;).
A P P L E C I D E R V I N E G A R
For years now, I have been reading about the amazing benefits of natural Apple Cider Vinegar. I decided to try to make our own and now after learning how simple it is, I don’t think I’ll ever buy it again (or I hope not to!). We have one very old, large apple tree that produce hundreds of large, yellow, sweet apples (not pictured above, the above has the most delicious, crisp apples). I have no idea what type they are but I made several batches using this type. They are a soft, sweet apple ideal for baking so our cider is light and sort of sweet tasting!
D a n d e l i o n L E A F & R O O T
Dandelions are such bountiful and healthful herbs! Last spring, I watched the chickens go wild over the leaves and congregate around the plants. I began to collect the leaves and even dig up some of the roots to dry indoors. We tried to eat them in salad but I found them too bitter to eat fresh. And so, last spring I was determined to make an overall tonic with them in the form of a tincture.
B E N E F I T S (Information below taken from: Lust, John ” The Herb Book”1974):
” Aperient, cholagogue, diuretic, stomachic, tonic. Dandelion has two particularly important uses: to promote the formation of bile and to remove excess water from the body in edemous conditions resulting from liver problems.” Lust, J. 171.
Aperient – mild laxative
cholagogue – agent used to increase the flow of bile into the intestines
diuretic – agent that increases the expulsion of urine
stomachic – agent that strengthens, tones and stimulates the stomach
tonic – agent that strengthens the organs of the entire organism
Carving a little stamp for the labels 🙂
The simple labels 🙂
And so, my first ever REAL LIFE magical concoctions (that isn’t tea or just food). My childhood self would definitely approve. I have a batch of 10 of these little gems and thinking in the future, perhaps after the next trip around the sun, I will put some of my remedies in an online shop or just sell at markets, etc. Simply add a few drops to your morning water or herbal tea and you are golden 😉 (as long as you don’t have an allergy to ragweed..)!
FARE THEE WELL & MERRY PART !
(On one other side note, I am trying very hard to have regular social media ‘detoxes’. I have simply decided to not go on instagram (my only social media really) during the weekdays. I could write a whole other post about this because I think it’s actually really important but maybe for another day! I just wanted to shout out if you have noticed me absent… which I doubt anyone has… it’s because I am just choosing to be offline and seek balance in my everyday life. This is something that has sorely been lacking since I have a compulsion to check social media throughout my day. Thank you <3)
So much snow fell on us yesterday. Our windows were covered by 3 pm, our world grey and dark. We have been having unseasonably cold temperatures, it feels more like we’ve been plunged in the depths of January and early February. I talk a lot about the weather… my journal since I was a teenage is half discussing the temperature, the rain or snow, the wind or how the trees bowed and danced. I love Mother Nature and simply observing her moods. When I write I think I focus on the weather first as though to clear my mind for what exactly it is I want to say, so please bear with me 😉
This morning, I went out to see the chickens (who refused to leave the coop when they spotted the snow), lit a fire and finally sat down to draw. My studio/work room had been overrun with my Christmas cards and packaging things up for orders. This morning, I shipped the last of my orders so my mind has cleared for new projects. I always have some kind of “Ode to…” brewing in my mind and this morning I worked out an Ode to working with the earth and with my hands. An ode to tradition bound up with the animals, insects and herbs that make a comfortable home. A home that goes so far beyond our front doors.
The sheep is at the center, providing us with wool that keeps our hands busy, our minds active and our bodies so warm (as well as countless other things – I’m currently contemplating insulating my chicken coop with wool and birch). The spindle – representative of transformation – spins the rough wool to the versatile material that we love. The quilt block is a marker of the home, of ancestors and narratives (to me personally, it is a symbol of love and comfort). The plants are dandelion, sage, lavender and Calendula – all magical, useful and healthful entities. I included oak leaves for wisdom, the boundary between worlds and for the love of the steadfast tree. Everything ties together to allude to traditional folk lives – working with animals and plants.
I developed it a little further by adding a home, emerging from the quilt.
And there she is! Homespun – an ode to a working kinship with the earth. I’m hoping to make some prints on rag paper. If anyone is interested, please let me know!
To leave you – some pictures from our walk through farmers’ fields today – in a foot of snow.