Introducing Storymama

On this quiet, calm winter’s day I am feeling so full from the holiday cheer and so grateful to be able to just rest and soak it all in.

It is the perfect day for a little story telling around the fire, don’t you think?

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To inspire, I would like to introduce you to my friend Brenna and her new Blog Storymama.  She has been a beckon of light to me on this journey of motherhood with her intentional ways and beautiful stories.  We have been collaborating on filming her beautiful puppet shows and here is the first of hopefully many.  She really has a gift for softly sharing magical tales that touch both young and old.  I am sure you will enjoy her gifts as much as I do.  

Sew Busy!!

I am not bustling in malls, standing in lines, or really buying much of anything for Christmas this year, but I am sew busy!!  ( I know my titles can be a little corny, sorry, I just can’t help myself!)

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I have been sewing up a storm and my latest creations have been a flurry of more up-cycled Merino PJs.

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If you have not tried this, really you must!!  I love those German Woolies, but with a $5 Thrifted sweater you could turn this……

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Into these…..

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Or take this…..

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cut like this…..

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And make this….

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and these…..

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And be lift with just a tiny pile of waste

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that will no doubt be used someday soon for something soft and sweet.

And that Cherry Red Grandma cardigan

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Christmas Jammys!

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Oh what fun we have on cold wintery days!  I may not have any money for lots of stuff, but who needs stuff when you got skills, now that is Christmas magic!!

Happy Winter magic making to you!

Barter Bounty

This weekend we had a cozy day inside the Eurythmy room at the Santa Fe Waldorf School Holiday Faire selling and swapping our wares.  I thank all of you who braved the weather and came out to find me & my gems & calendars.  I really did feel supported by you all and meet some really great new folks too.  The Waldorf Craft faire, though small, was so totally sweet & full of amazing hand-made beauty.  I guarantee all us crafters have other jobs, maybe many, but that means crafting is a deep love for us, something we make time for, and it shows!! Every hand-made item in that room was so imbued with care and spirit I was drawn to almost everything!  Luckily we have an amazing crafter culture here and everyone was willing to trade with me!!  Here are a few of the treasures I swapped for.

My dear friend Rachel made these amazing little felt vegetables

My dear friend Rachel made these amazing little felt vegetables

Magdelena made these little wool sheep along with cows, alpacas and The holy family, a Christmas staple where she is from in Austria

Magdelena made these little wool sheep along with cows, alpacas and The holy family, a Christmas staple where she is from in Austria

Jane's little clay beings are kind of a small obsession of mine, ~I hope she at every show I ever do!!

Jane’s little clay beings are kind of a small obsession of mine, ~I hope she at every show I ever do!!

Heather's Amazing fragrant bees wax candles, you just can't get enough of this time of year

Heather’s Amazingly fragrant bees-wax candles, you just can’t get enough of this time of year

And there new book and video about top bar bee keeping, so cool!

And Heather and Les’ new book & video about top bar bee keeping, so cool!

Miranda made special bean bags just for yesterdays show, luckily I scored a few!

Miranda made special animal bean bags just for yesterdays show, luckily I scored a few!

And yes a little something for myself from a new friend- Lee High

And yes a little something for myself from a new friend Lee High

Hallelujah the Christmas swapping is done!! Hope my family doesn’t read this blog!!

Holiday Sparkle!!

You didn’t shop on Black Friday, good for you!!  Skipped the annoying email temptations of Cyber Monday, well done!!  Hope you gave something for Giving Tuesday, even if it was just a smile to a stranger…..but you may still be wanting to get a heartfelt, handmade to gift your kin.  Well, this Saturday you can shop in good spirit at the Santa Fe Waldorf School Holiday Faire.  It is a wonderful family event with all kinds of seasonal celebrations, activities and food and yes, faire.  It is such a fun way to celebrate the season with your family and sneak off for some shopping knowing all are well.

Freshly made earrings

Freshly made earrings

For those of you that don’t know, I am a jewelry designer among gardener, mother, teacher, photographer and many other things.  That was how I made my living before family & baby, but now is really just one of many things I love & try to seek time for in the wee hours of the night.  However, I do Holiday shows every year that are well, tremendous.  With one show this year, my inventory is overflowing and truly exquisite, if I do say so myself.   Selling at  Santa Fe Waldorf School, also feels really good, as it benefits the school scholarships, making this amazing education accessible to a diverse community.

Crysoprase for the heart & Rainbow Moonstone for the divine femine,

Chrysoprase for the heart & Rainbow Moonstone for the divine feminine,

The Faire is this Saturday, December 7th from 10-3pm.  The Santa Fe Waldorf School is located at 26 Puesta del Sol, which is the first street to your left after crossing I-25 on Old Pecos Trail. The school is situated at the very end of Puesta del Sol, on your right.

Appetite to speak your truth, Aqua Marine to help you flow & Labradorite to connect you to inner magic

Apatite to speak your truth, Aqua Marine to help you flow & Labradorite to connect you to inner magic

I will have lots & lots of Jewelry with great gift wrap, as well as my 2014 ‘The Gardeners Year’ Calendars for sale and even Hand Saved Seeds from my garden.

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Come celebrate the season, visit me & support my little cottage industries.  If you can’t make it (or want to do a little pre-show shopping) visit my Esty Site.

Where to begin… by reflecting

We have been gone for 2 weeks, traveling to the verdant valleys of Vermont and Coastal Maine.  It was lush and luscious, drinking in the green and being totally present to play with my little guy and (big guy), wandering the rivers, lakes and playgrounds without a care in the world.  Now that we are home our world has transformed too, from desert dry to jungle garden green.  I am so happy to be home, feeling like this is the start of a new year, fresh and ready to begin again….but with this renewed energy just don’t know where to start…shall I prune the tomatoes, make pesto, pay the bills, write my upcoming class curriculum, …….or just finish that book I started on vacation? Well, those decisions can wait till tomorrow.  For now, just a glimpse of the places we went and the fun we had so I can savor the beauty we were blessed by and remember to savor the sweet slowness of life when you are simply taking in all in.

Jaengus just had to sit on every idle tractor in Vermont, he even founfdthis one just his size at the Von Trapp Dairy Farm

Jaengus just HAD to sit on every idle tractor in Vermont, he even found this one just his size at the Von Trapp Dairy Farm

VON TRAPP FARMSTEAD

The abundant Waitsfield Famers Market

The abundant Waitsfield Famers Market

Waitsfield Farmers Market

Every Eco- Homemakers dream- Hand Made clothes pins that hang on tight! Vermont Clothes Pins claimed to be the only MADE in AMERICA clothes pins left on the market- yes I did treat myself to this fine and functional gems

Every Eco- Homemakers dream- Hand Made clothes pins that hang on tight! Vermont Clothes Pins claim to be the only MADE in AMERICA clothes pins left on the market- yes I did treat myself to these fine and functional gems

VERMONT CLOTHES PINS

Jaengy found another cool piece of farm equiptment at Center for Whole Communities to sit on and take in the views

Jaengy found another cool piece of farm equiptment at Knoll Farm to sit on and take in the views

CENTER FOR WHOLE COMMUNITIES at KNOLL FARM

Our talented and hardworking new farmer friends, Helen and Stan giving a localvores tour on their new Elderberry farm- Three Springs Farm

Our talented and hardworking new farmer friends, Helen and Stan giving a localvores tour on their new Elderberry & Herb Farm- Three Springs Farm-Yes the Echinachea IS waist high!!

THREE SPRINGS FARM

Then off to Glover for world best circus in the sun- Bread & Puppet!!  Totally nostalig for me, as the last time I attended was well- half my life ago and it seemed perfectly the same- some things really shouldn't change!

Then off to Glover for world best circus in the sun- Bread & Puppet!! Totally nostalgic for me, as the last time I attended was, well,  half my life ago and it seemed perfectly the same, preserved in time, old New England hippie style- some things really shouldn’t change!

BREAD & PUPPET

Enroute we found an amazing nursey burgueing over with blooms called aptly- the 'Labor of Love'

En-route we found an amazing nursery burgeoning over with blooms called aptly
the ‘Labor of Love’- run by a woman who seriously knows her blooms

Labor of Love Landscaping

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We even made it the Atlantic to kiss the sea on Bailey Island and the Driftwood Inn

THE DRIFTWOOD INN

We were blessed with a perfect dawn over the ocean on our last day- the perfect end to end our trip and begin again, refreshed, reminded and  re-ignited

We were blessed with a perfect dawn over the ocean on our last day- the perfect end to our trip and begin again, refreshed, reminded and
re-ignited

 

 

Water, Water everywhere and not a drop to Drink

I can’t tell you the relief I have been feeling lately in the garden.  We have had 5 days straight of evening thunder storms, which considering it has been over four months with no rain, we are beyond grateful.  I kind of gave up in the garden, once the tomatoes (and overzealous 100 plants this year) were in, and the irrigation on, I was too hot and losing faith…so I just prayed for rain.  You see, no matter how much well water you pump from 100 feet down up onto the garden, nothing nourishes desert plants like water falling from the sky.

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And then it came, downpours of beautiful abundant water, and with all that precious water came a huge strike of lightening that hit our neighbors tree and carried under ground to blow our well pump!!

 

Yep, so now we have water from the sky but not from the ground.  The garden is thriving and we are doing just fine with our rain buckets full, but I must ask, what kind of divine comedy is going on around here? For those of you who know the story of our little house and it’s remodel you know water plays a huge role around here…( there were frozen pipes leading to a three-day flood in the middle of the winter we first meet).  The water made way for a lot that probably would not have gotten done otherwise.

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Joel set to work tearing out flooring and replacing walls, inserting windows, adding radiant and all kinds of beautiful touches and I helped in that process making this my home too….The water washed away the old and made way for the new, though Joel worked his butt off doing it!!  And now Joel is out replacing the well pump right now, taking in stride the ongoing efforts of owning and caring for a homestead.  IMG_0426

Bless his heart and hands for having such skills, patience and perseverance! I had no idea how well I chose such a crafty DIY guy, in fact today he got a letter from our local hardware store saying..

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Yep that’s my guy.

So heres to my hubby and the mysterious, powerful, ever-flowing Waters above, below, within and all around us.

 

Homemade Potting Soil

I make potting mix every year for my greenhouse seedlings.  I have written about it many times here & here, but every year I refine it, learn more, change things, or get my hands on something new.  This year I learned it is probably best to gather my ingredients in the fall, when it is warm and lovely and my compost is harvestable and not freezing as it is today.

Beacause I wanted potting soil in January and my compost was yes freezing, I bought compost this year.  It is Bio-dynamic compost made with Cow manure from Terra Flora and it looks pretty darn good.  The creator even sent me pictures of it’s microscopic crystals.

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Because I like to deepen my practice of gardening every year I plan to do trials with my seedling mix ingredients and watch and learn, that is once my compost thaws.  I plan to try a mix I got from Santa Fe Greenhouses (during their going out of business sale) a mix with the Terra Flora compost and a mix with my own.  I will of course let you know how it all goes.

So to make your own soil mix for your wooden planting trays (that is what I use and what I think this mix works best for) You must gather you materials–

Compost from your own pile (or another source if not is available)

Soil from your garden

Sand from your arroyo

Peat moss or Coco Peat from your Nursery…(unless of course you have homemade leaf mold composted and ready to go, by all means use that first!!)

I get all this stuff in advance and store it in bins so everything is ready to go when I need to mix.

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Plastic is gross, I know, wooden bins would be ideal, but for now this is what works for me.

Once I have everything gathered I get my wheel burrow, a 5 gallon bucket, my 1/4 shifter screen, a shovel and a hoe.IMG_8859IMG_8870IMG_8860IMG_8863

Here is my the recipe I use, from my Alma Matar, CASFS.

It is a parts recipe, but if you use a 5 gallon bucket as your measuring cup and follow this recipe you will get a full wheel burrow, which will be enough soil for 6 2x1ft seedling trays.

Pour into wheel burrow through a 1/4 screen

1.5 Buckets-Compost

1Bucket- Garden soil

1/2 Bucket-Sand

1 Bucket Peat Moss or Coco Peat

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Anything you shift off can be saved for potting soil for plants that will live only in pots, or can be added back to the garden or compost pile.

Mix everything well with a hoe and sprinkle occasionally with water.

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The moisture level is key, not only does it cut down yucky dust, but you want a nice moist mix in your flat before you seed.

If it is too dry it will actually repel water and you tiny seeds will float away in the run off.

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Give it a squeeze and release

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If it stays in a loose ball and breaks apart when you bounce it in your palm you have got it.  Now store it in a bin with a lid to keep that perfect moisture, or put it directly into you flats and sow away!

And that is that.  Once you have your flats made & potting mix made, now all you have to do is decide what and when to sow…..more on that soon.

Planting into pallets

Is there anything you can’t make out of an old pallet?  Yes, it does take more time and a bit more know-how to upcycle a pallet into a totally different and functional thing, but luckily I have an expert on my side.  Yep, Joel does it again.  This time he made me a new seed planting flat out of recycled pallet wood.

(Note: I do also do make these out new wood too, see here)

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Cool Huh?  Want to try? Here is how he did it.

First, he tore the pallet apart with a flat bar to get the the lumber in order. Image

Then he used the cross pieces which were 3.5inches wide and 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick.  There was mix of oak (harder, longer lasting, heavier) & pine (softer, easier to work with lighter)

 

Then he cut off the split tips with the nails in them- to have clean, split free ends and not to bother with pulling out the nails.Image

Then he cut 2 pieces at 1ft long and 6pieces at 2ft long

He nailed 2 of the 2footers & 2 of 1footers into a rectangular box.  The 2 footer edges over lapped the edges of the 1 footers.  Unfortunately he moved so fast I didn’t get to photograph every step… but I hope you follow.

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Then he nailed the remaining 4 2footers to the bottom of the box using 4d galvanized nails. These are rust resistant and small enough that they will keep the wood from splitting, but large enough to hold your box together when it is full of heavy, wet soil.  Because the wood was irregular enough he just pushed the bottom slats together and nailed…but it is important to note during this step to leave a little space between the slats for water to drain out, but not soil.  I usually stick a quarter between the slats which has always proven to be just right.

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And there you have it.  Here is one I made from Redwood and screws in 2010 (in front) and the new Pallet one (in back).  Image

Similar—-but there are few subtle differences.

*The new one is a bit wider than the other.  As far as size go, I pretty much try to maximize my table space.  If you table is a 3×6 (which many tables are) you can fit 9 2×1 flats on it.  That should be more than enough (much more in fact) for all your seedling needs.  Remembering, when you start seeds in wooden planting flats you will need to divide them or thin them before they reach the garden, so leave space in you table(s) for transplants.  This is basically bio-intensive gardening, but more on that later…here is the next step if you are eager.

*The other difference is that my new flat is mostly oak and the older one is Redwood.  Both have their pros and cons

Oak- Hard, Heavy, Durable,Rot Resistant, Brittle-(Available in Pallets)

Pine- Soft, Not Rot resistant, Light weight, Cheap or free-(Available in Pallets)

Redwood- Light weight, doesn’t spilt easily, VERY Rot Resistant-(Must buy)

Wooden Flats are a great thing to add to your garden shed if you find yourself starting seeds every year.  They are pretty simple to make, relatively cheap and last many years, not to mention they are NOT plastic.  They work beautifully to hold moisture and give ample space for those babies to grow.  Many farms use them, which is where I learned about them.  Here are a few I stumble across while ambling through a sleepy farm in Colorado last spring.

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Yes, I take pictures of other people’s planting flats, I told you I was a farm tourist.

Good Luck and I hope you help rescue one more lonely pallet from the back of your hardware store and put it to good use.

When you are ready here is a link to how to make potting soil for the flats and one on how to plant into them properly.  Let the sowing begin!!

Growing it with Greywater

A friend came over recently and was astounded by my front garden.  “You must water like crazy!!”  That I do NOT, but there are a few elements that help this garden abound in the spring time.

Lush spring garden green

First I credit the Plants; Edible, Medicinal and Beautiful…This garden is mainly self-sown  (plants that like it here, drop their seed every season, spread and thrive) like Catnip, Clary Sage, Columbine, Lamb’s Quarters, and planted ones like Tarragon, Horse Radish, Yarrow, Mint, Jupiter’s Beard, Loveage, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Valerian, Echinacea, Rudbeckia, Day lily, Comfrey, Iris, Bleeding hearts, Hummingbird Sage, Bee Balm, Garlic Chives, Chervil, Ground Geranium and Tulips, Daffodils, Snapdragons, Clover, Poppies, & Rue, to name a few.  The annuals are put in other spots around the yard.

Shady now most of the day

The Sunlight….The garden is in full sun in the spring, until about May 1st, when the trees above it leaf out and create a very shady garden, cooling it in the summer months.

The Time….garden is old, about 10 years of adding compost & mulch makes a big difference in getting it established, enriching the soil and covering up any bare ground, and of course keeping that moisture in!!

And of course the Dishwater.  Yep– year round, every day, sometimes twice a day this garden gets oh,  maybe 4 gallons of dishwater dumped here and there.  I let the days dishes gather, neatly by the sink, organize from cleanest to dirtiest.  When the time comes, either in the quiet of evening or along with morning coffee, but strictly ONCE a day, (who wants to do dishes more than once a day?) I fill up my bins, squirt a little sodium free soap in and wash.  When complete, I dump the bins out the front door and begin the dish gather again.

The basins in the sink get filled once a day and dumped in the garden

The garden soaks it up like sponge and come spring just booms with delight.  I do water it with the hose too, but not very much.  In the hottest days of summer maybe once a week, and from November to April, not at all.  I won’t claim to be a radical water saver myself, but let’s face it, the stuff is sacred, the bearer and giver of all life on the planet, it is not to be wasted, and we each must do more to honor the water we have.

Every Drop a Miracle

A friend of mine, Amanda, is in fact totally radical water keeper, using and reusing only rainwater for herself and her family to drink, bathe, cook, wash, live in the high dry desert.  Totally an inspiration when it comes to, well everything, but we do what we can, as we can…….so little by little I am trying to reuse, conserve, respect and honor our sacred water by dumping it in the garden and watching it grow, and who knows, maybe someday it will turn into, more water!!

Catch every drop

The Swing is now a Flying High Chair!!

So you saw the swing and seemed to love it as much as we do. THANKS, I was astounded at how many of you cheered us on!!  Jangy also loved it , so much in fact he didn’t want to get down for meal times, which we are enjoying outside on the porch just about every meal now…So daddy came up with this cool tray that comes on and off for meals.

Swinging through lunchtime

Now we sit across from him and all share our meals right here.  And the best part is, no more sweeping the floor!! Anything that falls the birds, ants and who knows else will get later.

Removable Feeding tray

Joel took some cherry he had from left over flooring in Jangy’s room and made the sides.  Drilled holes and cut out notches for the dowels to fit in.

Pine tray with little indentation so food won’t get away

The tray top is pine which he used a scorp on, (a tool that cuts in a U shape) to make the indentation so the food would roll off.)

Pictures of Scorps from
“A Musuem of Early American Tools” by Eric Sloane

Drilled the pieces together, made a little wooden lock so it would stay put.

Wooden lock

Sanded it then rubbed the whole thing with Walnut oil and Tada…so cool.

And there you have it, a flying high chair.  Then we gave him Kimchi I made from Carrots, Turnips, and Cabbage we grew and he gobbled it up…..Oh a parents pride!!

Jangy is munching on a Kimchied Turnip slice!! That’s our boy!!