Monday, August 29, 2011
It's the last week of summer vacation and next week will bring some big change here. I'll have just one kid at home with me instead of four. This week though there will be kindercamp, testing, and open houses to attend and a little bit of time for me to prepare for the change in schedule. Though I've said repeatedly over this summer (usually amidst one of the 400 fights the kids have each day or when I'm trying to shower...alone for a change) that I can't wait for school to start so I can have a bit of peace, now that it's here I'm feeling a little less eager to let go.
I did let go of that little guy in the photo though since he was peeing on me.
On another note, I wanted to show you this. Do you remember the blue-staining bolete from my post on Friday? Well on my walk Sunday evening I found that he was still laying there in the grass as we had left him. His blue scars had mostly turned to a washed out yellow and he was a bit shrively.
But wait, look what happened when I broke open a new part...
I hope you all have a good start to the week.
Friday, August 26, 2011
I'm winding down the week with some images from one of my walks in the woods. Some of you may already know that I'm mushroom-obsessed, for those that didn't know, I apologize in advance for the countless mushroom photos you'll be seeing in the next few months...
Here are a few of the more interesting ones I saw. You get to see them without getting your pant legs wet and without mosquitos in your ear canal, you lucky souls.
This pale yellow mushroom is a kind of blue-staining bolete. When cut open, the flesh turns blue.
My helper will demonstrate. By stomping on top of the mushroom while I'm trying to photograph it. (because in universal dog language, someone on their hands and knees in the woods taking a photo means "PLAY WITH ME!!" and is cause for much jumping and tail-wagging.)
Here's where you get further proof that I need to get out more. I see a love triangle in this little scene below, do you?
I hope you all enjoy some weird and wonderful things this weekend.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
During my trip last week I gathered up a sack full of black walnuts and brought them home. Though these can be tasty morsels should you be able to pry them from their shells, I had plans to use the outer skin of the nuts to use for dyeing. My husband, who was helping me unpack, wondered why I brought back a sack of moldy limes...
The walnut is encased in an aromatic leathery skin which turns from green to black as it ages. In order to strip the skin from the nuts, I did as any good primate does, and whacked them repeatedly with rocks.
I stuffed the crushed skins in quart jars, jamming them down with a stick, (primate style) and piled the remaining nuts up to offer to the squirrels.
Even though I wore thick work gloves my index fingers still took on a rather "oompaloompa" hue from handling the skins. A word of caution to those of you that decide to gather these, wear gloves! I've seen some pretty hilarious photos of people who didn't heed the warning and found themselves orange-palmed for weeks.
To create the dye, I simply poured water to fill the quart jars stuffed with skins and placed them in my small outdoor greenhouse to percolate in the heat.
After a few days the dye water had turned a very dark brown and I figured it was ready to try. Using my walnut-spattered t-shirt as evidence I deduced that I wouldn't have to mordant my cotton in order to achieve a decent dye but I wasn't sure about the wool. Wool can be a little tricky sometimes.
I needn't have worried because the results on wool, silk, and cotton were all beautiful. I did "scour" my silk and wool first, that is simmer them for a bit to remove any oils or residue, but I didn't use any additional mordant. I just poured the liquid from the quart jars into a bowl with the scoured fiber and let it sit for a few hours.
You can see that the silk took on a great nut brown color, the wool is a gorgeous mix of fawn and chestnut, and the cotton floss is a lovely shade of mocha.
I love the tones it gave the natural grey locks.
I'm really thrilled with how this turned out and since I use a lot of brown in my work, this dyestuff is especially handy. Over the years I've acquired some shades of wool that I don't really use often and it will be fun to overdye some of that with this color and get some use out of it.
The skins have a lot more life in them so I've re-filled the jars with water and left them to steep a bit longer and I expect to get a few more batches of dye from them, which is pretty exciting. I may try it on wood and I'm also hoping to do a little tie-dyeing ala Sonia too
All from moldy limes. Who knew?
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Yesterday I talked about my inability to find enough time in the day to do all that I want and need to do. I guessed that I wasn't alone and I was right. To all of you who offered up such spot-on advice, perspective, or maybe just nodded your head in agreement, thank you sincerely. You made me feel so supported and understood.
I learned a new phrase yesterday, courtesy of my friend Gloria.
"No hay nada mas socorrido que un dia detras de otro"
Translation: "There's nothing more handy than one day after the next."
Here's to what today brings.
Monday, August 22, 2011
This weekend I picked tiny sour plums from our wild plum trees, the first they've ever given us.
I harvested and saute'ed enough lobster mushrooms to fill a pint jar and froze them for winter, and made a batch of dye from the leftover bits.
I hung many, many loads of laundry on the line.
I made a batch of yogurt in the crockpot.
I picked a half gallon of chokecherries and made syrup.
I hauled in several logs for drying from the tree that fell in the last storm.
I taught my youngest how to strip the seeds off the parsnips.
I ordered some silk fabric, even though I swore I wouldn't buy any craft supplies until I had made a dent in the pile I have now.
I held a salamander.
I made 8 quarts of refrigerator pickles using my grandma's recipe.
I made meals, gave baths, and tucked in children.
I did not craft, though I desperately want to.
I did not figure out why gmail is putting things in spam that shouldn't be there.
I did not clean the house.
I did not get caught up on emails or blog-reading, though I wanted to do that too.
I have trouble finding time for all of the things I want and need to do.
I don't feel as though I'm spending my time doing unworthy things, I just wish I had a little more of it each day. I suppose I'm not alone in that.
How did you spend your weekend? Did you get everything done that you wanted to?
Sunday, August 21, 2011
One of my favorite snacky plants is the Red Clover. They offer up big fluffy flower heads with petals that can be pulled out easily for nibbling the sweet white tips. This is how I ate them as a kid (and still do) and how my kids eat them but you can pop the entire flower head in your mouth too. I had read that a tea can be made from them so I decided to give it a try.
I placed a couple of flower heads in a cup of boiling water, after checking them for unwanted insect friends aka "extra protein", and let it steep for about 15 minutes.
The resulting tea had turned a pale tannish yellow.
I had read that tea was slightly sweet and that the leaves had a taste that hinted at vanilla so it was with great anticipation that I raised the cup to my lips. I took my first sip and it tasted rather...blech. Mushrooms. It tasted like weak mushroom water. Don't get me wrong, I love mushrooms more than life itself, but not so much as a tea. I took another sip just to be sure there wasn't something worth salvaging then dumped the rest in one of my houseplants.
You can't win them all.
I took a nibble from another of the flower heads that I had gathered and it didn't have any of its normal sweetness so I'm guessing that was the problem. It may be too late in the season or something for this but I've also read that the tea is better with the addition of other herbs like mint. I'll try it again next year.
Until then it looks pretty on my drying rake between the Tansy and Yarrow.
Have you tried red clover tea?
Friday, August 19, 2011
We're back from vacation and we had an amazing time. We spent time with family and friends laughing and talking and enjoying each other's company.
We had conversations with fish...
and full moons, harvest moons at that.
Treasures were brought home in the form of spore prints
and edible weeds to be planted in the driveway
And memories. Lots of memories.
Now that we're home, life is back in full-swing. Mount Washmore is being summited, dyestuffs are in the dye pots, kids are preparing for school, and we're in harvest mode gathering mushrooms and canning vegetables. It's amazing how quickly real life resumes, isn't it?
While I was gone my work was featured on Craft and on Craft Gossip, which was really exciting. I have some fun new things to share with you soon that I'm also excited about. I hope you'll stay tuned.
Until then, have a great weekend everyone.