Sunday, May 11, 2014

Beginning again

I am in awe of bloggers who can crank it out on schedule month after month.

I am almost always thinking about things, mulling them over in my head and the images/words never seem to stop.  But getting to the keyboard and out is another thing.

I am trying to get over the "hump" of having not written regularly in a while but just starting to write.  I'll start with the weather and see where it takes me....

We had one of our dreary Mothers' Day snow and freezes this weekend.  We didn't get much snow here, we did get rain and it is cold.  We will see what tomorrow brings.

Some of the peas made it up out of the ground.  I think about a third sprouted.  Most of the lettuce didn't make it.  But that's okay.  Some did.  I will have yummy homegrown food soon.

I have been dreaming big about making another set of terraces and filling them with natives and lavender.  Allie put another package of bees on to the land.  Her man built her a cool hive from scavenged beetle-killed pine that is lovely.  Last weekend the bees had started making comb and seemed happy.

I plan on feeding them this summer as the heat rises.  If we can get the terraces planted with flowering xeric and natives, that will also help.  I love having the bees around.

The new job I have taken on as the Event Director for the Loveland Art Studio Tour has been really amazing.  I am debating starting another blog about the process of making the event.  I decided to call it "LAST in process" if I do.  I'd really like to share what goes into making it happen.  As well as make a record for myself of what is happening.  It's hard to keep track of what I have gotten down when there is so much to do.

Finally, after much ado and help from Anne, I have finally learned the basics to crochet.  It is really a different mindset.  The hook can go just anywhere and do just about anything as long as you wrap it around some thing to make it hold together.  It sort of offends my knitter mindset.  I find it harder in some ways since the hook can go anywhere, I have to monitor where it is going.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Best breakfast thing ever!

So good!
Good things often are a collaboration.  This breakfast/lunch/snack bit of yumminess is one of those things.

Some friends of mine started out with a recipe and called it "Fat Bombs".  Mostly created of various healthy fats with a sprinkling of nuts, I saw a bag of them in thier fridge and thought they were pralines.  They were not at all that.  I was sad.

But intrigued with hearing about what they were doing, I asked about the recipe.  I had been strongly urged almost 2 years ago by my wonderful healer to stop eating the crunchy oat bars I so loved for breakfast. But I couldn't find any substitute for them so I ignored her advice and suffered guilt.  Hoping that maybe these "fat bombs" would be a good idea,  I bought the ingredients.  And they sat for about 2 months while I continued to ignore my problem with the oat bars.

Finally, one Sunday afternoon I decided to tackle it.  Not hard at all!  Making them was so easy!  It takes me about 10 - 15 minutes to make about 2 weeks of breakfasts with some available for late night snacks and the occational lunch when I am out and about.  

And wow!  They are so good.  And filling.  

It's a recipe of no exact amounts or ingredients.  I will tell you the ingredients I think are essential for great taste and texture but feel free to add and subtract at will.  My big addition to the process (besides taking pix and writing this up) are using the muffin papers.  My friends use silicone muffin pans, popping the fat bombs out when they are solid and storing them in a bag.  I like how the paper makes it easy to hang onto and eat without getting messy but they do cost about a penny each and do create waste paper.   You choose. 

Basic recipe:  
melt together oils + butters, add nuts + dried fruit, chill

My recipe:
Oils and butters:
1 cup virgin coconut oil 
1/2 small jar of coconut butter 
1 stick of salted organic butter
1/2 jar of nut butter, I use organic peanut butter
1 tsp or so of best quality sea salt

Melt until liquid and lump-free

Stir in:
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 cup of either ground flax seed OR almond flour

Add what you like here to make up about 4-5 cups of nuts and 2 cups of dried fruit
I like:
1 cups of almonds,
1 cup walnuts
1 cup pecans
1 cup pistachios 
1 cup cashews
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1/2 cup dried cherries

Fold together until very well mixed.  Put muffin papers out on a cookie sheet.  Using a 1 oz. scooper, fill the muffin cups about half full.  Scoop so you get some of the liquid oils/butters in each serving. Carefully transfer to the refrigerator until set.  Store in an air-tight container until all eaten up.  If you let them get warm, they get runny again so keep them cold.

I find one of these keeps me full for about 4 hours.  My skin seems much happier since I have been eating these as well.  Less dry and papery (old lady skin).

Another friend of mine figured that a portion was about 400 calories.  

All you who have been asking about these, there you go.  Let me know how you change these for your use!

VCO, coconut butter, butter set to melt on medium low heat

Organic peanut butter - use what you like or mix it up and add several kinds!

Nuts and fruit!  What ever makes you happy!  Almost twice as much nuts as fruit is a good ratio.

Fold to mix well.  1 oz. scoop is very handy to fill the muffin papers.

Don't these look yummy!

When you peel back the paper, there should be a base of the solid oils on the bottom.  It's kind of tricky to get them all dished out so that happens but you can add any extra oils left at the end back to the cups you made at the beginning.

Reminder, if you do grab one to eat after a while - put it in a good oil tight container.  Ask me how I know this is important....


Friday, March 28, 2014

Garden Rhythm - Planting peas and lettuce with pictures!

I've been really swamped with work so this blog has been written mostly after midnight when I can't work any more!  I hope it makes sense, I think it's a tad repeaty as it's been written in tiny little chunks.  But I just previewed it and I think it's okay.  But it's after midnight, what do I know.

It's 3/28/14 now and if you want a great pea and lettuce crop, you want to get them planted this weekend.  Put the seeds to soak on Friday night and plant on Saturday.  Do it!

Here is Part 2 of the Planting Peas and Lettuce blog:

I love these little irises.  They are one of the first flowers up.  Yay!  Spring!
Well, sort of as promised by my last blog, I planted today (3/19) but due to weather and my schedule planting  today was two days later than it should have been for best results.  I put the seeds to soak on 3/16 with the idea that I would plant on 3/17.  But no joy.

It would have been better to have them only soak over night.  Or I should have drained the peas and refreshed the water so they didn't get a ferment on.  But we will forge on ahead.

3/16/14  - five kinds of lettuce seeds put to soak.  Note they are labeled with a bit of masking tape and the name of the kind of lettuce.  Very important.  You won't remember.
There is only so much lettuce you can eat at one time so think about that when you set your seeds to soak.  Most lettuces will let you cut them off about 1" from the ground a couple of times before they get discouraged and quit growing.  You want to harvest lettuce often to keep a nice supply of delicious greens.  I keep a couple of the store-boughten lettuce boxes around to put my much more delicious garden lettuce in after harvest.  It seems to last longer than putting it in a plastic bag.

I'll try to plant another crop of lettuce seeds in 3 or so weeks in a part of my garden that will have shade by then.  The weather will be thinking of heating up and lettuce likes it cool.  This planting a bit, letting some time pass, and planting a bit more is called "succession planting" and is a great idea.  I like radishes, but only a couple at a time.  So I plant 6 seeds about every 2 weeks for 3 or 4 times.  That gives me a few radishes at t time spaced out over a month.  You have to keep paying attention to do this but you will get the hang of it.

I keep a roll of tape and a pair of scissors in my seed storage box.  I cut the tops off the seed packets, pour out the seeds I need, then tape the packet back up.  It keeps them tidy and me happy.  I hate a pile of wasted seeds in the bottom of my seed box from the open packets spilling out.  I don't plant long enough rows to use a packet very often.
 I loves me some sugar snap peas.  Those are the only kind I plant any more.  I put about 80 seeds to soak on 3/16/14.  Then I went out to start prepping the beds.

Pea bed!
 This is where the peas were last year.  I should rotate them but this soil is some of the worst in my garden and I want the peas there again to improve the soil.  And it's a good warm place to plant which is important when you plant this time of year.  It needs a lot of clearing but I'm not going to dig the soil so it should go quickly.

The first wave of bees to visit!  I feel like a super hero!

While I am working away, happily weeding and enjoying the sun on my back, a bee comes and starts caging for snacks.  She tries the yellow handle of the hoe.  She flies inside my tool bucket and tries all the tools.  She buzzes me a few times.  I get the hint and go into the house to make some food for her.  I have some honey that is about 10 years old.  It's sentimental honey from the first CSA I sold my things at.  But it's what I have and the bees are hungry.  I shake up some honey with some warm water in a jar until the honey is dissolved.  I make this feeding station with a food storage lid, some rocks from the driveway, and a yellow produce bag.  I pour the honey over the lid and add some pure honey just for good measure.  The bee is still there still flying in and out of my tool bucket.  I put my gloves on and "pour" her out onto the feeding station.

 She gets it right away and has a good sup.  Then she sort of staggers into the air and flies off.  I keep working but also watching to see if more bees come.  I think about the waggle dance the bee will do to tell her hungry hive mates about this great new diner that looks weird but serves good nectar.

Henry, our rescue Airedale pooch, "beeing" Helpful
Henry loves to hang out and be with his monkey (that's me.)  I had brought him to the garden with me to see how he would behave.  He was doing really good.  He sniffed around the garden for a while then went and lay down close by which was perfect.  I was distracted with the bees when he clearly decided that he needed some attention and laid down on the  not yet weeded part of the bed.  He is such a goof ball.  So cute.  Poor neglected pooch.  Life is so rough.

Pea bed all ready for planting!
Pea bed all weeded!  I didn't dig the soil, I just dug trenches where the peas will go.  I also arranged the drip lines so they will be in place when it's time to turn them on.  Looks good, doesn't it?

Then to the south, I started clearing the lettuce bed.

Bees and more bees!
This is another try at the bee feeding station.  I used a clear dinner plate, a red produce bag stretched over the plate and lots of rocks to give the bees something to stand on.  They seem to really love it.  I had to fill up the plate a couple of times.  I was amazed at how fast the honey water was sucked up.

Last summer's carrots
I found three carrots from last year in the ground.  They were delicious!  I am amazed that they survived and were so good.  Garden bounty!!!

I was busy and it was cold on Monday and Tuesday so I didn't get back to planting.  I absolutely arranged my schedule on Wednesday so it would happen.  The weather was warm-ish and the sun was out.  I was determined that the seeds had to be planted or they would be ruined.  (This totally is the downside to soaking your seeds.  On the other hand, it help you to focus and get them planted!)

Some of the lettuce seeds have sprouted after 3 days of soaking.

The peas were a bit bubbly, like they had started to ferment a bit  but I drained and rinsed them a couple of times and I think (hope) they are okay.  Most of the lettuces had 1/4" roots going which is way longer than I'd like.  There is no help for it so I decided to plant and hope for the best.

Peas in the furrow
Pre-soaked seeds are really sensitive to drying out, so I watered the furrow very well before arranging the pea seeds.  I plant much closer together than the packet says to but not with the peas touching.  Sometimes they don't sprout and then you have a big hole.  I choose to have them a bit too densely planted.  They also hold each other up and need less staking.

All planted!
 I arrange the seeds and then cover the furrow with soil no more than two or three seed diameters deep.  The seeds need cover but too much soil for them to push through is hard on them.  The drip is not on yet, it's still freezing at night most nights, but I have it arranged so it's ready.

Then I turned my attention to the lettuce bed.  I had soaked a few seeds of five types of lettuce: Bib, Romaine, Arugula, Marvel of 5 Seasons, and Mixed.  Several of them had already sprouted roots so I may have wasted them.  It's hard to tell.  I added more water to the containers and swirled them around and splashed out the seeds and the water to spread the seeds around.  I covered the seeds with a bit of soil then watered it all good and proper.

I didn't have anything to mark the seed beds with, so I just took a picture to remind me what I planted where.  I am pretty terrible with marking where I have planted so I get surprises every year.  I always think I'll remember and then two or 3 things pop up in the same bed.

All done for now!  Just have to keep the water on things and wait.

I will plant another wave of lettuce in a shade part of the garden the middle of April.  Lettuce can be cut about 1" from the ground to harvest greens.  They will come back pretty quickly for another harvest.  But eventually they slow down or bolt.  It's good to have another wave of lettuce coming on at that time.

I'll plant a heat tolerant pea variety then as well.  I really love sugar snap peas so I try to have them around the garden for a long time.  I also love pea shoots.  When the weather turns hot, the peas stop flowering.  Just clip the tender tips from the plant and eat.  You can steam them but I like to snack on them.  Delish!

Oh rats.  I realized I forgot to put the innoculant on the peas.  I will do that when the weather warms up again.  It's about 10 degrees tonight and it snowed.  Ah Colorado Spring!

3/28/14 note: nothing has shown above ground yet  The weather has been fairly cold and mostly dry.  I make sure to check the soil daily and water when the surface is dry.  Later on, I'll check below the surface but for now, I'm trying to keep the seeds that sprouted moist.

I am really looking forward to some pea shoots and fresh greens.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Garden Rhythm - Time to plant the peas and lettuce!

For those of you who have been asking me to help with the rhythm of the garden, this blog is for you!

But only if you live in the Front Range of Colorado.

Weather has the place of pride for impact on your garden.  Check with you local Extension Agent at you nearest State College for gardening tips in your area. They are usually very knowledgeable and eager to help.  They will also usually have a soil test kit that is well worth the time and money to have done on your garden plot.  Hone up your Google-fu!

I've looked at the predictions from my local weather persons, consulted the winter coat on my horse (shedding started about 2 weeks ago), and well, darn it, it's just time to get out in the garden!

Today I am prepping to plant tomorrow.

Prep needed:

1.  Soak the peas and lettuce seeds in water over-night

2.  Cut back the dead plants, pull weeds (I know - already!!!!)

3.  Loosen/till the soil

4.  Pre-water if needed.

You will notice a lot of focus on water in my gardening blogs.  Between the sun and the wind, any soil moisture can be fleeting.

Tip:  To test for soil moisture, dig down to where you expect roots to be.  2 - 4 inches to begin with, deeper later (if you've done it right)  Scoop out a handful of soil and squeeze it.  If it stays in a nice ball, that is good for now.  If it leaks water, too much water; if it falls apart - it's time to water NOW.

Peas and lettuce planted in March generally give a LOT more produce as they are cold weather fans.  Try it, you will be amazed.

Soaking the seeds helps to soften the outer protective coat.  If I'm in a big rush for the seed to sprout, I will actually sprout the seeds before I plant.  If you do this, you must be vigilant with your watering or the sprouts will die.  But it can give you a good jump on the germination time.

But I'm just going to soak over night this year.

I am healing from a back injury so I am going to try a low-till method this year.  I know that weed seeds sit on the surface in large numbers.  When we dig them in, they are all happy.  I am going to try doing minimal soil disturbing to see if that helps reduce the weeds.

Using drip irrigation also helps reduce weeds.  Only water where there are plants.  The weeds will not flourish.  After I clear the top of the soil, I will scratch in rows where the peas will be planted.  I will water that row well to make sure there is good soil moisture.  The drip is not running yet so watering has to be done by hand.

Peas like the innoculant that helps them fix nitrogen from both the soil and the air.  Here is a Wiki link for some more technical info:

Look for the PEA innoculant, there is also on for beans.

Pictures after I get the planting done!

Get out there and get gardening!

Link to the Second Blog in this series (with lots of pictures!):

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Water Lily, the story of an artwork scarf

One of my New Year's Resolutions this year was:  More Sizzle, Less Work!!!

What does that mean?  It means that we work crazy hard on all sorts of things but the one thing we often don't do is share all the cool stuff behind the work we are creating.  So my goal is to get our light out from under the basket and let folks know what we are doing.

I have the opportunity to offer my amazing artwork scarves for sale in Denver.  My thought is to write up the story on each scarf of the work that went into creating it. 

I'm thinking of creating a small hand-bound book for each scarf. 

Here is my first attempt.  Please let me know what you think.  Too much detail?  Not enough?  What is confusing and needs to be better explained?

Calling on her lifetime of experience with natural dyeing, Master Dyer Sheron Buchele Rowland uses her variation of the ancient Japanese textile dyeing techniques known collectively as “Shibori” for these works of wearable art.

Each scarf is unique and is created one-at-a-time. Much thought and effort goes into the creation of both the color and the design.  Each scarf is signed by the artist.

The colors are created using plants and other botanical materials. Many of the scarves are the result of multiple times in the dye pot creating a layering of color and complex natural shades which are singular and not reproducible.

The scarf is an delicious blend of silk and wool (63% silk/37% wool). Warmer than silk and softer than wool, the blend combines the best of these two quality ingredients. The hems are hand rolled and sewn with silk threads. The fabric is luxurious, light, soft, and warm.

One-of-a-kind artwork meant to be worn and enjoyed
  Water Lily

Base color: Logwood
Color created from the heartwood of a spiny flowering tree in the legume family (the same family as peas and beans). I use an extract of the wood shavings prepared from sustainably harvested logwood trees to create this soft purple background color on the off-white textile.

Shibori techniques:
Kanko (bound resist) The cloth is plucked up and bound to exclude the dye. This created the round-ish circles.

Suji (pleating) Using string, the cloth is gathered in pleats and bound. This creates the arched lines.

Primary color: Indigo
Only a few plants in the world create blue. Japanese indigo is one of them. I grow the plant but can't grow enough currently for my needs. Until then, I use an extract indigo created like instant coffe crystals. It is tricky to work with but creates incredible color. The indigo blue floods the scarf with color where ever it is unbound.

So wonderful when traveling!
I've used my scarf as a blanket, a pillow, a coat, and a privacy screen.
Roll it up into a tiny packet and tuck away until you need it.

Water Lily
36” x 80”

Detail to show subtle and complex color mixing

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Amazing inspiring artist!

I am so inspired by this artist:

I can't wait until the dust settles a bit and I can get back to my studio.

This "4 Months of Fully Involved" is about over.  I am eager to get my life back, but have had a tremendously fun/exhausting/inspiring time.

I am so focused on the concept that I am not busy, I am fully involved with my life.  So much time is spent with filler - unfocused time - unsatisfactory time.

I made these choices to create this life, I am delighted and blessed to be Fully Involved with it.

Keep safe and I'll see you soon!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Scarf ideas Youtube video

I don't usually share these things in my blog, but I am always looking for ways to show off my beautiful naturally dyed scarves.

25 ways to wear a scarf

If you'd like to see more about our scarves, click

Naturally dyed scarves

Also you can get them on my Etsy page:

Fox Ryde Gardens on Etsy

I am enjoying a slow day today.  But I want to get my loom warped so I better get to it!