Friday, December 25, 2015

Everybody's Singing...

This guy is my spirit animal. Sissy that walk, Santa!

 All the bells are ringing out, and it's Christmas all over again!

However you're spending your time today, and whoever you're choosing to spend it with, I hope you're taking time to create magic in all that you do.  Oh yeah, and spread a little love while you're at it, it really does go a long way.

Merry Christmas, Season's greetings, God Jul, Joyeux Noël, Happy Winter Solstice ... And everything else!

xoxo 


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Cranberry Saw Us

1-handed OJ action shot ... My talent knows no bounds!
Each year when the pages of my calendar dwindle down to the last few, I've got one thing on my mind, aside from that lump of coal I earned from Santa, and that is ... Cranberry sauce!  Members of my family have a longstanding tradition with gelatinous goo that holds the shape of the can after being released from its confines, but when I was forced to give up all things processed, and eat like a homesteader things got a little complicated, especially the part about no refined white sugar, and I had to let go of such time honored treasures as these.  However, with a little research I was able to put together an incredibly simple, and successful recipe sure to cause riots with all your guests at your next gathering.      

The Gang's all here!
Here's what you need:
  • 24 oz Fresh Cranberries
  • 1 Orange - Juice & Zest
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 1/2 Cup Apple Sauce
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 1/2 Cup Pure Organic Maple Syrup
Here's what you do:
Wash fruit, and combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan, bring contents to a boil, turn temperature to Med-Low, cover, and let reduce for about 15-45 minutes, checking the mixture for your desired consistency every 15 minutes, and giving it the occasional stir. Let cool, remove cinnamon stick, chill in fridge before serving, and ... That's it!

Makes 4 cups (1 Litre).

What was I saying about complicated?  The most complicated part about learning to cook and bake without refined white sugar is digging up, and converting, or inventing the recipes in a sugar cane dominated world, but once you've done the groundwork, the actual recipes are a cinch!  Remember, you can always use honey in the place of maple syrup in my recipes, if you're into that sort of thing, but for my bee-sting allergy people out there (like me!), maple syrup works like an absolute dream.  Happy holidays & enjoy!


Saturday, December 5, 2015

Original Boss Babe


 1990 Holiday Barbie in damaged box: $6.50


Trip to the beauty shop before she meets your 5 year old niece: Free


Kickin' it with your Homegirl 25 years later: Priceless


xoxo


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Here We Go!

http://www.worldbuilders.org/

Patrick Rothfuss' Worldbuilders are at it again with their fundraising efforts barreling down the track of another record-breaking year on behalf of Heifer International.  Every year his assembled team of world-building minions roll up their sleeves to bring Geeks from all walks of life together for the greater good of humanity by raising money for people experiencing crippling poverty around the world.  How much money, you ask?  Last year brought in over $880,000.00 USD, an amount they're looking to beat this year, with 14 days to go and a total at $681,441.00 USD, and ***ALL DONATIONS MADE TODAY BEING MATCHED*** I think this will definitely be a bar-raising year!

How can you join the fundraising mayhem?  Several ways, actually!  From online auctions, to buying things from Pat's store, The Tinker's Packs (where all proceeds go to charity all year long, every single purchase), or just by straight-up donating on the Worldbuilders page, where each donation of ten dollars gets you an entry into the massive lottery of donated books, games, and deliciously dorky miscellany.  Get to clickin' if you want to get your hands on some swag whilst helping people feed themselves, their families, and rescue their village's economy.  Even though sales through Pat's website are constantly put toward charity, this particular event ends December 14, 2015 11:59 PM UTC-11 so, go (!) and donate now if you don't want to miss out, especially if you want your charitable gift to be doubled (ends today!).

xoxo

DEADLINE EXTENDED!!! New deadline now December 18, 2015 11:59 PM UTC-11.
An opportunity to match donations up to another $200,000.00 was announced in the wee hours this morning, causing Rothfuss to sound the rallying cry to #BilboItUp for one last major push.  With the total now blown past ONE MILLION USD, this is yet another record breaking CRUSHING year for Worldbuilders, and Heifer International AND it's not too late for you to join the madness!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

November's Sky is Chill and Drear, November's Leaf is Red and Sear

Where has this month gone?!  Am I the only one who felt like I went to sleep October 31st, and woke up November 29th (mind you, with extremely vivid dreams of turkey, and cranberry sauce!) as if coming out of a NyQuil coma?  Or maybe it was that I was too busy enjoying it to count the days as they passed, and didn't realize just how late in the year it was getting until I woke up this weekend to frosty 28º mornings ... a rather sharp realization to drag me out of my harvest haze, if you ask me!
Illustration: John Rae

Here I am nonetheless, staring into the face of December elbow deep in drying herbs, flowers, and garden seeds cleaning, organizing, and preparing for the next planting season already. Thanks for the heads-up Aesop, baby!  You won't catch me out in the cold with nothing to gnaw on but a frozen fiddle (barring unavoidable disaster, of course).  At any rate, it won't be because I spent all summer singing, and dancing ... although, that doesn't sound like an entirely bad way to spend a summer ... balance in all things, yes?  

One of the things I'm living for right now is the Glass Gem Corn I grew from seed thanks to Garden Hoard -- a two person, organic, heirloom seed, Midwestern enterprise -- that I'm in LOVE with!  Katie, the owner, is an awesome woman with a wealth of knowledge to share, and a love for plants who wants to feed the world ... what's not to like?  Besides, I love smart chicks, and I'll take any opportunity to support her "fempire" when I can.  Anyway, back to the corn, it's decorative, it's edible, it's grind-able, it's poppable, and it's GORGEOUS!  Each ear is a complete surprise, even when plucking from the same stalk ... which totally tickled my colorholic tendencies.  

Keep in mind when growing, these are not the ears you get from a packet of hybrid seeds or what you find plumped up at the supermarket, Glass Gem Corn ears are much more elegantly sized.  Heirloom produce is typically not what our supersized-society (with exceptions, of course) is used to seeing or eating, however you do get the added bonus of unparalleled flavor, and a pretty high guarantee that any seeds collected will perform in your garden next season, and thus, you can create your own seed home-library without having to run to the store every year to replenish your seed stash.  If you're looking for new-to-you or unusual varieties of fruits and veggies to add to your garden, or you're brand new to this garden-gig, and just starting out pop over, and check out Katie & Christian's operation.  For a two person show, they've got a good selection, surprisingly great customer service and availability (I honestly don't know how they have the time!), and they hook their customers up with extra goodies every order.  


Happy planning & planting!
xoxo

Saturday, October 31, 2015

After Apple Picking ...

... Or apple buying for that matter, though how the apples are procured really isn't important.  Just be aware that the sweeter the apple, the sweeter the sauce, so pick a palate-friendly variety because this is a no-sugar-added recipe, unless you like your applesauce to pack a pucker-up punch, of course!

Applesauce
In a 6 quart slow-cooker combine:
10-ish Cored, and sliced apples (Fuji is my apple of choice, skins on)
1 Cup water
1 Teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon ground Nutmeg
1/2 Teaspoon ground Ginger
1/4 Teaspoon ground Cloves
1/4 Teaspoon ground Allspice (optional, because of the use of the other spices many feel allspice is redundant.  I think it adds more overall body to the flavor.)

Cook everything on High for the first two hours, and finish on Low for the last 4 hours.  Let cool a little, purée, and serve.
Yields 72 ounces.

Seventy-two ounces?!  Whether cooking for large gatherings or just a meal for one, I do most everything in large batches.  I find that once I've got all of my equipment out, it takes less effort, and is a more efficient use of my time to make a larger quantity than dragging out all of my culinary accoutrements every single time I get a hankering for a small serving of something, which can make getting into my freezer a bit of a Level 9, B-Type game of Tetris, but I find it's worth it.  It's especially useful having extra applesauce on hand for anyone with dietary restrictions (allergies, food intolerance, etc.) who need to swap out oils, or eggs from certain baking recipes.

For me, this applesauce recipe is an absolute autumn must-have, and it makes my dwelling smell like a fairy-tale cottage, you know, like before the misunderstood lady tries to coax children into her oven ... Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Enough

Recently, I was asked to join one of those "live-streaming" events that's supposed to raise your personal vibration frequency, Love or Above by a woman described in her bio as an intuitive healer, and medium.  First of all, to me, live-streaming means "happening live, in real time, like, right-now" not pre-recorded, and spliced with other material (which this was), made obvious by the sort of canned, or scripted responses between the two hosts that made the entire flow of the recording awkward and leaving it sounding forced and unnatural, and the fact that 45 minutes into it, just after the guided group meditation began, the stream stopped, and when I pushed the play button to jump back in, the entire program started all over again, from the beginning ... Which I guess could be possible with a T.A.R.D.I.S. involved, but I don't have one, and neither did the hosts of the program, as far as I could tell.  But before any of that could happen, there I sat, headphones in place, my little .pdf worksheet open on the screen, switching gears back to the days of Nerd Girl note-taker-extraordinaire, poised, ready to pounce on every keyword mentioned.  If I wasn't yet completely sold on the program, I could at least take excellent notes, and maybe learn something new, or come to some greater understanding if nothing else.  Alas, this was not meant to be, as I soon realized, the worksheets didn't match the script, which made it increasingly annoying trying to fill in the notes, as the speakers sped through the mismatched content ... Undoubtedly dropping my personal vibration frequency in the process.  I decided to pack it in, sit back, relax, and just listen.  This, too, I learned, was a bit of a chore as well, trying to catch the actual content between all of the breaks, and pauses reminding the listeners — If you want to know more follow this address, go to the site, check out this link, don't forget our generous coupon code, and buy, buy, buy! — and the like.  It soon became clear that I was just listening to one extremely long (90 minute), not so cleverly disguised, advertisement to get the listener to spend hundreds of dollars on other products that will bring abundance to his or her life ... Uhm, ok.

It's certainly bringing abundance to SOMEBODY'S life, that's for sure!

When I think of "more" in terms of spiritualism and abundance, I think more peace, more love, greater connection with the source of all life, and more empathy for my fellow humans on Earth.  What I am not thinking about is more ... STUFF.  Don't get me wrong, the program I listened to, or rather, the part that I had access to, definitely sells the product under the guise of the things I listed above, especially highlighting trust, but when it came right down to it, what kept being repeated, and glorified were very shallow, egocentric topics that kept circling around objects, and types of success that appeal to our lower-selves.  I would've thought this just a tactic to keep the people who really "need" the program interested long enough to sock them with some mind-blowing spiritualism if  

A. That ever actually happened
B. They had treated the 90 minutes a lot less like one long commercial to get the listener spending more and more dough.

The more I listened the more it all started sounding like a snake oil campaign, and the more disgusted I became.  Then came the segment of selling romantic love ... Yes, if you develop within yourself a person who loves with abandon, and shares and gives selflessly, and loves yourself you are possibly going to attract more love, and positivity to you, including even a romantic love, probably.  This isn't rocket science, happy, loving people tend to dig spending time with other happy, loving people.  But I feel as though these programs dupe people (specifically those experiencing levels of loneliness) with delusions of grandeur: Follow steps X, Y, and Z and you'll be married in no time, with an amazing career, wad of cash, huge house, and a ton of babies spilling out of it, with the perfect dog that never barks or sheds — Act now, and all this could be yours!!!  All you have to do is meditate, and listen to my specially designed, and formatted compact discs available on my website for the low, low price of another couple hundred dollars ... I know it seems expensive, but you're investing in your future, and look at all these free downloads and worksheets I'm giving you!  I'm SO generous!  Do you trust me yet?

Isn't there some-thing more to life than just following steps, and acquiring stuff (whether human or inanimate)?  Shouldn't we be shifting our focus to whatever that thing is instead?  That's the "more" that I'm interested in discovering, and uncovering in my life.  That's where I found this program to be severely lacking, and quite disappointing.  It wasn't the technical hiccups, or generic life-coaching, it was the bait-and-switch approach that set my teeth on edge.  Preying upon people's weaknesses, and using the cloak of spiritualism to peddle products has got to be one of the lowest forms of commerce there is.  It's actually quite sad when people are led to believe they won't find the answers they need, or the freedom they desire unless they spend the money to get them.

That's not how abundance works, or is supposed to anyway, in my mind at least.  If abundance is a very large, over-sufficient quantity of something, how is it only available to a few, or the ones who pay a hefty fee for it?  Doesn't that seem to go against the very definition of the word itself?  According to the Online Etymology Dictionary:
abundance (n.)
mid-14c., from Old French abondance and directly from Latin abundantia "fullness, plenty," noun of state from abundantem (nominative abundans), present participle of abundare "to overflow" (see abound).
When something is overflowing, does it care who is standing there and how much money they have in their pockets?  Sure, those with more money could afford larger buckets to "catch" the abundance, but if it's true abundance does a bucket still matter?  Or is there just so much, all around, and available to everyone that a bucket becomes superfluous?  If abundance is a large, extremely plentiful amount of something, and it's not available, or enough for everyone regardless of station or situation, how can it even still be abundance?  It seems a little lacking to me.

What happens when abundance is not enough?

People start taking your money, in the name of spirituality, for answers you already hold inside you.  

xoxo

P.S. The love vibration frequency resides at 528 Hz.  If you so desire, go give yourselves a tune-up, and let your hearts sing!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Raven

 What's an October without a little American Gothic Lit., anyway?

Monday, October 19, 2015

Mood Swings

So, I saw an ad the other day (how often does that sentence end well?) for something that actually looked interesting!  Skillshare is offering 3 months of access to over one thousand classes for 99¢ when you use this code at checkout SSFB99 ← I'm usually not into this sort of thing, but so far all 99 pennies have been very well spent.

Enter Exhibit A: Fall Cottage, a mood board of a few of my favorite images right now that, to me, evoke a wonderfully cozy feeling that creeps in as fall begins its chill, thrown together with the help of Meg Lewis of Ghostly Ferns, and her class, Basics of Photoshop: Fundamentals for Beginners. 
1. Rose Gold Lariat Scarf, 2. Books via Lovely Reveries, 3. Joy in a Bouquet, 4. Sheep, 5. Grandmug Sango Nova Black, 6. Knitting Needles by: Anne Greene, 7. Damson Plums by: Moi, 8. Botanical Print: Cicadas from Brehms Tierleben (Brehm's Animal Life) vol. 9 by: Alfred Edmund Brehm, 1893, 9. Halcyon via Dorothy Rosenberg, 10. All Hollow's Eve by: Paul Parsons, 11. West Highland Terrier via Lavender Summers and Lilac Dreams, 12. Font
Ok, so I didn't reinvent the wheel here, and I'm not exactly a beginner either.  I did, however, learn new-to-me tricks that will dramatically cut my time on future projects, and who doesn't love to be more efficient?  Meg breezes effortlessly through the use of guides, simple yet high impact photo editing, beyond easy steps to apply clipping masks, layer organization, and more.  The thing with Photoshop is that one person is never going to learn it ALL, we learn what we need for our respective uses, and with there being so many different steps to achieve the same end goals, each person develops his or her own quirky way of navigating the program so, it's helpful now and then to, if not brush-up, at least see how other people are using it, try their methods, and add what works for you to your bag of tricks.  I personally believe there can never be too many Photoshop tutorials ... there is always something new to create, and a fresh, undiscovered way to create it.

That's all for now, I'm late for class!  I've only got 20-ish (+/-) saved lessons (so far) to dive into...

 xoxo

Friday, September 25, 2015

Plum-Crazy

Bowl by: Dirtkicker Pottery
Near my house, there's a perfectly obscured beach path known only to the adjacent inhabitants that comes to full life at the end of every summer with the most gorgeous Damson plums dripping from arched tunnels of rustling green.  Not typically one to get hands-y with things that aren't overtly mine, it took only one season of tripping, and slipping over spoiled, plums squished into the path before a silent oath was made to stop, at all costs, this gruesome plum-icide, and egregious waste in seasons to come.

This year with my trusty bucket in hand, and most demure and subtle, magenta hooded sweatshirt I was ready to enact my rescue-efforts-(quickly)-turned-full-fledged-plum-heist.  Three gallons later ... I, uhm, needed a plan, or better yet, a recipe, and one that didn't include refined white sugar and a multitude of other ingredients that aren't healthy for me to consume.  So I invented not one, but two plum spread recipes!

Pucker-Up Plum Butter
Here's what you need:
  • 1 Heavy bottom saucepan, or pot (I used my ever-faithful dutch oven)
  • 4 Lbs. Plums
  • 1/2 Lime (juiced)
  • 1/2 Cup Pure Organic Maple Syrup 
  • 1/4 Cup Water
  • 1/2" Knob Fresh Grated Ginger
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Allspice
Here's what you do:
Wash, halve, and pit all of your plums, combine all ingredients in your preferred pot, and simmer for about an hour stirring occasionally, purée in blender (optional), chill or freeze.  That's it!

Makes about 30 ounces (4 cups, 1 Litre).

Playing up the tartness of the plums with added lime juice, this spread isn't subtle, or one most people would enjoy on their breakfast croissant.  It is, however, awesome on sandwiches!

Try:
On one slice of toasted sour dough bread spread a thin layer of mayo, on the other slather generously with plum butter, stack rotisserie seasoned deli sliced chicken, and avocado, slice diagonally (because everything tastes better this way) and dig in!

Smooth Shiraz-Plum Preserves
Here's what you need:
  • 1 Heavy bottom saucepan, or pot (I used my ever-faithful dutch oven)
  • 3 Lbs. Plums
  • 1/2 Cup Pure Organic Maple Syrup
  • 1/4 Cup Water
  • 1/4 Cup Shiraz
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Allspice
  • 1" Knob Fresh Grated Ginger 
Here's what you do:
Same as above.  Wash, halve, and pit your plums, combine all ingredients, and simmer for an hour stirring occasionally, purée in blender (optional), chill or freeze.

Makes about 24 ounces.

Mugs by: Brookish
Thanks to the wine, this one has a beautifully deep-red color, nice, not-too-sweet flavor, and a rich body that makes it perfect for slathering on anything edible, basically.  So far I'm loving it especially on toast during blustery, cloud covered, light-flickering, autumn mornings! 

I can't think of a better way to say goodbye to summer than by savoring some of the season's fleeting flavors.  Whoever said change, or transitions have to be miserable was living life all wrong.  Everything in life has its turn -- I'd rather dance through life's cycles, than spend my time kicking and screaming.
New Moon in Virgo Mandala from the High Vibe Guide
I welcome all of this month's revisions, and am thankful for the opportunity to release everything that is, or has been weighing me down, and holding me back.  I know that whatever the Universe has in store for me next will surpass even what my wildest imagination could ever cook up, and I am prepared for my next transformation.

xoxo


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Directions [10D]

 Don't despair, Darling ... Dominate doubt, defend delights, dance defiantly -- daily.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

I Don't Carrot All

Solar Yellow & Purple Dragon Carrots

"This strangely still pause between summer and autumn, greenery and gold, and the heat and rising wind that is once again readying itself to rush it all away in a climactic symphony of color and scent is - in my opinion, one of the best parts about living on earth."
- Victoria Erickson

Before
I couldn't possibly agree more.  I'm a fall baby through, and through so you know tomorrow's equinox has got me turned up!  And, is probably why I love this dish so much, with it being the best colors, flavors, and scents of both Summer's abundance, and Fall's harvest on one plate, to me, it's heaven in every bite.  The warming spices of garlic, ginger, and thyme mimicking the heat of a summer sun makes this perfect for keeping the chill at bay on blustery fall days.  Enough of my ode to seasons, let's get down to business, shall we?

Here's what you need:
1 Roasting pan
1 Bunch of Asparagus
1 Fuji Apple (or pick your own fave)
Optional
1 Large White Onion
4-8 Carrots
3-5 Cloves of Garlic
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 Teaspoon Thyme
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Optional:
1 Small baking dish
2 Cups Walnuts
1/8 Teaspoon Thyme
Olive Oil
1" Knob of fresh Ginger

Here's what you do:
Preheat oven at 425°F
Grease your pan(s) with just enough olive oil to coat the bottom of your roasting pan & baking dish (if opting for toasted walnuts), remembering that the apple will release liquid as it heats, so don't over do it - we're going for roasted veggies, not drowned; dust with thyme.  Scrub, rinse, or peel all appropriate ingredients, snap asparagus and arrange in pan, chop apple into bite size chunks, slice onion, cut carrots into medallions, or any other preferred shape for that matter, and into the pan with them!  Mince garlic and sprinkle evenly along the top of your snuggled up veggies, grate ginger evenly over roasting pan (optional), drizzle with balsamic vinegar, and give it all a few shakes of your preferred salt & pepper. That's it, you're ready for the oven!  Set timer for 20-25 minutes depending on your appliance.

After
Optional: 
Dust your already greased baking dish with 1/8 tsp. of thyme, add 2 cups of walnuts, and stir to thoroughly cover with oil & spice, then add to the oven in this separate dish for the last 5 minutes your vegetables are roasting.  When finished, combine and toss with vegetables.  Let cool, and serve ... Voila!

  
Bon appétit, my Lovelies!

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Best Exotic Marigold Tea Recipe

August, for me (aside from watching films about pensioners moving to India), has been all about tracking down the best tea recipe to put all of my fresh summer 
marigolds to work.  I came up a little shorthanded ... Apparently, something my great-grandmother would have considered common knowledge is now somehow one of the great mysteries of the known universe.  The only natural method that I could find (that did not include drying the flowers in a microwave, of all things), or one having any sort of resemblance to a recipe was for an antiseptic tincture that I adapted for tea-time:
    New Moon in Leo Mandala from the High Vibe Guide
    • 1-2 Cups rinsed Marigold petals (snipped right above the green calyx that holds the petals on the stem).
    • 4 Cups boiling water.
    • Combine in French Press and steep until a rich, golden-red color appears, or combine in another suitable container, and strain to serve.
    Sweeten with your desired sweetener if you're into that sort of thing (mine happens to be a pinch of Stevia).

    That's it!

    The taste is somewhat reminiscent of a dandelion tea, not exact, but the same kind of "body" is what you can expect.  This has definitely turned into a new favorite, and don't be timid, the more aggressively you snip the blooms from a marigold plant, the more it responds all summer long -- well into October (which makes sense with it being the "birth flower" for that month), and even into a very wet November last year around my neck of the woods.  Hopefully, by then I'll have my instructions perfected for drying & storing the petals in order to enjoy the tea throughout the chilly, hibernation months.  Until then ... Enjoy!

    Friday, July 31, 2015

    The Amazing Technicolor Dreamsalad

    It's Summer!  Around here, that means an abundance of fresh, home-grown, leafy goodness to munch on.  I love having a garden to pluck from, and in the PNW you can pretty well manage this year round with a little research of what to plant when, even without cold boxes.  But what can you do if you're short on space?  Even in an apartment with a deck the size of a thimble, and a sliver of sunlight you can grow things to brighten up your meals.  Sometimes all you need is a sunny window, and a flower pot!  Some of my favorite, easy to grow, summertime edibles include:
    • Red Romaine Lettuce (Often comes as a free gift from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds & can be successfully grown in an 11" pot)
    • Nasturtiums - Both the blooms, and medallion shaped leaves are edible, and a source of both vitamin C & Iron.
    • Marigolds (Tagetes & Calendula) - Cut petals at their base, and sprinkle over salads, or steep blooms in hot water for teas.  There is a laundry list of supposed uses, and health benefits of calendula blossoms, as well as praise for being a source vitamin C & Flavinoids.
    • Pansies - Adorable sprinkled in salads, adorning deserts, or garnishing beverages, these little beauties contain both vitamins A & C.
    http://www.wild-plate.com/#!home/c9lIf you're low on inspiration, look no further than Laurel Anderson's Wild Plate.  This gorgeous
    non-cook book is loaded with fresh ideas, beautiful photography, and valuable, rarely shared tips and thorough explanations to help even the most rookie raw foodies out there!  I'm not one who follows a strict raw food diet, but as the temperatures climb I am one to avoid warm meals in the summer heat, and find myself flipping through its pages for new ideas.  If the raw food diet is something you're interested in, Wild Plate is not only the place to look for new smoothies, salads, and juices, but it will take you beyond the basics of raw cuisine, and walk you through what you need to know about raw food prep where others leave off, and gives you all the tools you need to start your raw food adventure!

    My go-to Summer Salad consists of (vulgar amounts of):
    • Red Romaine Lettuce
    • Kale
    • Carrots & Radishes (sliced into medallions)
    • Black Olives
    • Dried Cranberries
    • Nasturtium Blooms
    • Marigold Petals (snipped)
    All tossed & topped with my favorite summertime Strawberry Vinaigrette by: The Gracious Pantry found here.  What I love about this really basic salad, and delicious dressing is that you can stop here, and have a beautiful dish packed with flavor, or  you can keep pushing it as it affords you the opportunity to get creative.  Want a little more heft?  Throw in some mushrooms!  Need more crunch?  Get out the celery stalks!  Swap out the lettuce for spinach ... throw in some walnuts, I mean, wherever you want to take it is totally up to you.  Bon Appétit, my lovlies!


    xoxo
    P.S. enjoy that blue moon tonight!

    Wednesday, July 15, 2015

    L'Amour

    The mandala, or मण्डल (for those of you down with Sanskrit) has been used in spiritual practices throughout history, spanning the traditions of Tibetan Monks to Indigenous populations of the Americas, and beyond.  These "sacred circles" are nothing new, but are experiencing a certain resurgence in popularity.  Even late night television commercials are punting mandala coloring books for adults snuggled between scenes of trashy, American "reality" programming -- this makes part of me want to weep for humanity, but the other part thinks it's pure genius!  Who cares how the practice is introduced?  As long as what you need finds you, that's what matters ... Plus, if you act quickly, and call now(!) you'll receive two mandala coloring books!  Don't be greedy, give one to a friend, and spread the Zen around!

    The meditative qualities of creating, coloring, or contemplating mandalas are supposed to be quite healing.  Coming solely from an artist's point of view, I can definitely grasp how this could be beneficial.  In the moment of pure creation, when you drop everything else, and surrender fully to becoming a vehicle for something authentic in a way that feels otherworldly is quite a magnificent, and powerful process to be part of.  Imagine honing that process to put the power toward a specific goal?  The results, could indeed, be quite awesome ... And at this point, I'm willing to open all avenues of healing so, with that in mind I reached for my High Vibe Guide by: The Cosmic Collective which consists of Sarah Wilder of The Fifth Element Life, Jo Klima of The Darling Tree, and KV of Aquarius Nation, printed off the first mandala corresponding to tonight's New Moon in Cancer, and got to work.

    The theme of this mandala was focused on Self Love, and with that as my "mantra" I began working from the center and let the colors come to me without the force of my thinking-mind getting in the way.  I'm not exactly sure "self love" is what was coming through on this, or if I was just intoxicated by the scent of freshly sharpened colored pencils (seriously, I wish this was perfume -- somebody make this happen) having been away from them for the better part of a decade, but if this really is the visual expression of how I feel about myself, it certainly could explain, well, a lot actually. 

    xoxo

    Tuesday, July 7, 2015

    [soh-shuh l]•[net-wurk]


    I pretty much have a hate / hate relationship with all forms of social media.  Maybe that's a little harsh, it's probably more of a disgust for how we use (read: abuse) it that puts me off.  Here we are, surrounded by The Jetsons-esque technology -- stuff of pure childhood fantasy that most of us never thought we'd ever have in our daily lives, and how do we use it?  We show off, grandstand, thump our chests, bully, lie, cheat, even steal by snatching other people's content and passing it off as our own.  Frankly, we don't deserve it. Our technology has officially (if not far earlier than this moment) surpassed our maturity to use it, not just responsibly, but even graciously.

    Step, if you will, through a portal with me to a time when Facebook was emerging from its infancy, before it was public, when it was only open to students currently enrolled in a college or university program.  Sure, I gave it a whirl.  A funny little place where you could keep in touch with friends, and peers, and annoy each other with "pokes," or mildly amusing posts to our "walls" (I mean, what WAS that fresh new term, it's like this personal, digital bulletin board all your friends can see ... WHAT?!).

    And then, I deleted my account almost as quickly as I'd activated it.  There was something about those college days of waking up to be at the sewing lab by 6:00 AM before my 8:00 AM class, spending an entire day stomping all over a sweltering campus like a packhorse shlepping materials from one corner to another, finally getting to go home to gulp down a 7:00 PM meal just to turn around and spend the rest of my night in the CAD lab 'til 2-3 in the morning before going home again to catch a few zZz's to wake up and do it all over again that didn't jibe well with the neediness this burgeoning networking platform was creating.  The nail in the pixelated coffin looked a little something like this:
    Stormy, why haven't you answered me back, yet?  I saw that you opened the message I sent you, I know you read it.
    First of all, I didn't know a "Hi, how are ya?" type of email I opened in the morning was a document of crucial, time-sensitive importance that couldn't wait until the evening to be answered.  Secondly, when did catching up with friends become such pushy business?  Remember receiving letters (snail mail) from people who care about you, and slowly sifting through the pages, digesting every last syllable laughing, crying, or longingly sighing, as you swoon over the beautiful words, or imagine yourself or the people they describe in the situations illustrated for you?  You could pounce, and answer right away, or you could savor it for a little while, go back and re-read if you wanted (numerous times even!), before putting pen to paper and replying.  Nowhere in this process was I ever the recipient of ANOTHER letter stating that the sender knows I've received, and read the first letter, demanding an answer as to why my response was not immediate.  At what point did it become acceptable to interrogate another person over the amount of time (virtual, or otherwise) they spend on us?

    Some things in life are outside of our control, and others are none of our business.

    And just like that, I was finished with social media for a handful of years, that is, until I was tempted back in order to have a business presence on a variety of platforms, and discovered you had to have a personal account (on Facebook, at least) linked to your business account.  C'est la (technologique) vie.  I had decided, this time around, to keep things personally on the modest side, well, that was the idea at least until I logged into the dusty, old email account I'd used to activate Stormy-Peterson-Facebook-2.0 and found everyone I had ever known in my entire life (very slight exaggeration) requesting to add me as a friend ... So much for inconspicuous.

    Much like a cheap suit, I folded.  My approach to social media, and having an online presence, however, would differ from my last attempt.  You see, I believe as Dr. Maya Angelou told us:
    Words are things. You must be careful, careful about calling people out of their names, using racial pejoratives and sexual pejoratives and all that ignorance. Don’t do that. Some day we’ll be able to measure the power of words. I think they are things. They get on the walls. They get in your wallpaper. They get in your rugs, in your upholstery, and your clothes, and finally in to you.
    Perhaps they're not "things" to you, perhaps they're not "things" at all.  If nothing else, we at least know when spoken aloud, they become vibrations, as is all life, and that is powerful.  With power, we know that responsibility should follow, but ofttimes it is replaced by corruption.  I'm not talking large-scale, corporate, or government levels here, we can see this on the small side of things in everyday life.  Someone gets a little taste of "popularity" and decides to use their voice for shallow means, turning their words into weapons.  Who hasn't witnessed, dished out, or been on the receiving end of that?  It's so commonplace, that we've convinced ourselves to accept it as normal, that this is the "real world," and when people don't subscribe to it, it's cause for offense, and requires immediate redress.  If lining up before the firing squad, and enjoying it, or worse yet, being the firing squad is considered the "real world," no wonder my life looks like Fantasy Land to those stuck in that form of misery, and dysfunction.  I'm not interested in the axe someone has to grind, or being anyone's audience for their rage-filled rants, or having my actions scrutinized by people lacking control in their own desperately white-knuckled lives.  Social media is a much more casual affair for me, but one where I am responsible for what I see, and participate in.  I get it, all the world's a stage ... Never more so than now, but when you figure out you're the leading lady in your own life you're a lot less likely to "perform" in faux amphitheaters for attention, and a lot less likely to buy tickets to watch anyone else. 

    I am the architect of my online experience.  This may or may not include you.  This is not meant to hurt, or provoke.  This is real talk.  If you write to me, I'll reply as promptly as I am able to do so.  If you present yourself as something, or someone online that I don't want to see, I'm going to make myself unavailable to see it.  If you're doing things that I don't support, I'm not going to follow, friend, like it, ♥ it, or respond to you.  

    It really is that simple.    

    Friday, June 26, 2015

    #LoveWins

    Earlier this morning, The Supreme Court of the United States ruled that individual states can no longer ban same-sex marriage, stating that homosexual couples seeking permanent commitment deserve "equal dignity in the eyes of the law."  We're far from perfect equality for all in this country, but we're at least headed in the right direction.  No matter a person's feelings on the issue, I think we should all be wary of a government that wishes to legislate "morality," and I do hope this is seen as a victory for humanity in that we are free to make decisions, and live according to our individual values.  

    Monday, June 22, 2015

    Saturday, June 20, 2015

    Oh My Darling, Clementine

    Mouthful of Forevers 

    I am not the first person you loved.
    You are not the first person I looked at
    with a mouthful of forevers. We
    have both known loss like the sharp edges
    of a knife. We have both lived with lips
    more scar tissue than skin. Our love came
    unannounced in the middle of the night.
    Our love came when we'd given up 
    on asking love to come. I think
    that has to be part
    of its miracle.
    This is how we heal.
    I will kiss you like forgiveness. You 
    will hold me like I'm hope. Our arms 
    will bandage us like flowers in a book.
    I will write sonnets to the salt of sweat
    on your skin. I will write novels to the scar
    on your nose. I will write a dictionary
    of all the words I have used trying
    to describe the way it feels to have finally,
    finally found you.

    And I will not be afraid
    of your scars.

    I know sometimes
    it's still hard to let me see you
    in all your cracked perfection,
    but please know:
    whether it's the days you burn
    more brilliant than the sun
    or the nights you collapse into my lap
    your body broken into a thousand questions,
    you are the most beautiful thing I've ever seen.
    I will love you when you are a still day.
    I will love you when you are a hurricane.

    Saturday, March 28, 2015

    "From Etsy to Sweatsy"

    "How a handmade mecca went from part of a movement to part of the problem."

    In the above link, April Winchell, author of Regretsy: Where DIY meets WTF, and formerly of the website by the same name (may it rest in peace), discusses Etsy's fall from grace, its IPO announcement, and illustrates its journey from Main Street to Wall Street.

    Hey, boys and girls, do you know how to spell "sellout?"

    [Children together]
    E-t-s-y...

    Very good!

    ***

    Apparently this topic needs to be revisited.  There seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding peoples’ displeasure with the metamorphosis of Etsy Inc.  In fact, instead of trying to educate themselves on exactly why certain business owners are disturbed by Etsy’s practices, we see the Etsy Apologists in full force, diminishing the concerns of said business owners, and likening their disagreement with Etsy’s direction to that of  a lovers’ quarrel.  To me, this is not only rude, but an irresponsible use of your voice, not to mention unoriginal.  Regurgitating something you read on a forum or in a comment section that someone else said, once, more than half a decade ago makes you neither clever, nor informed.  If you are at all interested in why people are unhappy, by all means, ask them.  They will tell you, most are not shy.  In fact, that's how I became aware of the many hypocrisies, and double standards, or no standards at all in some circumstances, that have become commonplace in doing business with Etsy.  I couldn’t understand why anyone would be upset with a company that provided an inexpensive platform to open a storefront, and sell wares from, and then I bothered to listen to what was happening to individual store owners, and the struggles they were facing, and how or why those struggles, and concerns may impact business, and business owners alike, in the future by continuing to align themselves with Etsy Inc.

    Recently, Etsy Inc. announced its IPO … a logical step for any business growing at a rate becoming difficult to sustain with its 300+  private investors.  But, is that really what’s going on here?  When you see Etsy has been operating at a loss since 2012, culminating in a 15.24 million USD loss in 2014 alone, is this the unsustainable growth everyone is talking about?  Couple this with the email Etsy itself sent out to business owners illustrating, among other things, two glaring, in-house, failures:
       
        1) A lack of adequate procedures and controls to appropriately account for certain
         non-income tax-related expenses and comply with the related filing requirements.

         2) And a lack of adequate cut-off procedures to ensure the timely recording of   
         certain period-end accruals.

    More growth?  This screams utter incompetence spearheaded by lackluster leadership, to me.  Let me put it another way, a company employing past and present personnel who patronize, and treat many business owners like stereotypical brain-dead, "bored housewives" incapable of anything beyond kitchen table crafting can’t keep their own books straight, and pay their own taxes; the very things we as business owners must do ourselves. Laughable doesn’t even begin to describe this.  I don’t know about the rest of you sole-proprietors out there, but I report both to the state, and federal level, and have to keep immaculate records, because running a business is more than doodling cute pictures in a notebook whilst your boss delivers another rah-rah speech, and calling yourself a “tastemaker,” there’s actual work behind it.  While people are trying to sell this as just a way for a company to keep up with the demands of skyrocketing growth, what we’re really looking at here is nothing more than a bailout, one in fact, so large that its original investors couldn’t, or wouldn’t support a company already proving its inability to carry out a very basic level of office administration. 

    So, while people get hung-up arguing whether there’s a difference between a company with 300+ private investors, or countless public shareholders, with both models typically having a board of directors to answer to anyway, they are really missing the point when they’re solely focusing on the argument from the financial mindset, which actually happens to be immaterial for a lot of people who are less than pleased with this move.  To me, there is quite a difference between a few hundred private investors, and a publicly traded company, if we disagree on this point, that’s fine, but you must understand that this one single decision is not what is causing many, if not most, people to label Etsy Inc. as a “sellout.”  It is, however, seen by some as the point of no return in a long list of moves made by Etsy that further removes us from the resolution, and elimination of long ignored problems. 

    Let’s consult Dictionary.com shall we?

    Sellout
    [sel-out]
    Noun

    1.  an act or instance of selling out.

    2.  an entertainment, as a show or athletic event, for which all the seats are sold.

    3.  Informal. a person who betrays a cause, organization, or the like; traitor.

    4.  Informal. a person who compromises his or her personal values, integrity, talent, or the like, for money or personal advancement.


    The disgust for this company does not come from people not wanting Etsy Inc. to grow, and make more money, or a lack of understanding what an IPO is.  It is the complete abandonment of the original mission statement, and ideals on which this company was founded, painstakingly built, and marketed through the hard work of like-minded sellers, as well as the overwhelming inadequacies of the Brooklyn offices, on top of shady, bait & switch type behavior, lack of ethics, and murky, at best, “transparency” that seems to have become standard practice at headquarters.  Together with the disrespectful attitudes shown toward business owners from employees of Etsy Inc. oftentimes including, but not limited to its very own CEO, is what is making longtime account holders gag.

    The truth of the matter is, a great many of the business owners on Etsy.com, who by the way typically come with highly educated, and / or specialized backgrounds, never actually needed Etsy, they wanted Etsy because they believed in creating a marketplace that meant something beyond a grubby cash-grab.

    Rob Kalin, Founder of Etsy:
    Rokali 4:26 pm Mar 3, 2007 EST
    Etsy is an online marketplace for buying and selling all things handmade. Etsy is built by artists, for artists -- and for customers conscious of the true value of handmade goods and their creators.
    Etsy's marketplace is a community. At the heart of every transaction is a direct relationship between the maker and the buyer.
    We, the members of this community, join together to earn a living from what we make and to support those who make things. Our vision is to build a new economy and present a better choice: Buy Handmade. Cradled in our community, our intention is to support the independent artist and create viable alternatives to mass-produced objects in the world's marketplace.
    With the Industrial Revolution we lost the connection between producer and consumer; we no longer know who makes our daily bread, our clothes or our furniture.
    We are using the Web to reconnect: to once again allow the producer and the consumer to know each other; to swing the pendulum back to a time when we bought our bread from the baker, food from the grocer, and shoes from the cobbler. Through the forging of friendships and with a commitment to hard work, our community and our cause will prosper.
    Was Etsy going to change the world?  Probably not, but it was definitely having an impact on the face of e-commerce as we know it.  Taking us out of the big box stores, or strip malls of yesteryear, and putting consumers, and creators together forming symbiotic relationships, the likes of which are rarely seen in commerce, and retail.  A place where people (creators, manufacturers, producers, tradesmen, etc.) were not exploited, and consumers were not duped out of their hard earned coin.  This can no longer be said with any sort of confidence about Etsy.  “Buyer Beware” should always be at the forefront of all purchases, let alone online shopping, no matter how socially conscious a company may seem, because none of us (person, or business) is infallible, however, while Etsy eagerly changes its mission statement, to remove the handmade sentiment, more often than most people change their socks, yet riding on the coattails of the reputation created by the community of artists, artisans, and suppliers believing and adhering to the original message, with Etsy still trying to white-knuckle its shaky B Corp status (that has been under fire from the start, anyway), you can see where things get a little confusing for the consumer.  To be fair, there are many consumers who just don’t care where their goods come from at all, whether by ignorance, or lack of interest.  Others, however, do care, and therein lies the rub for those who are sick of the status quo when it comes to commerce, which has always consisted of slave labor, child labor, exploitation, human rights violations, and ecologically irresponsible practices (just to name a few), of one degree or another.  Etsy was an opportunity to change that, but instead of focusing on closing the gaps, and stitching up loopholes within the Etsy community that were allowing people to collapse the integrity of the platform by selling mass produced, factory manufactured goods (spanning the ethical and humane spectrum with no noticeable controls in place) they allowed these storefronts to chip away at the very foundation on which Etsy was built.  With this major flaw in the framework, once Etsy conceded to allow business owners to partner with “vetted” manufacturers, suppliers, and factories many saw this as only exacerbating an already uncontrollable problem into what we see on the site now as a catch-me-if-you-can scenario, with sweatshop materials flooding the marketplace at an alarming rate, and what I see becoming an even more intensified problem thanks in part to the decision to take Etsy Inc. public, because in doing so, the focus is geared toward creating value for shareholders, which I believe will decrease the desire to eliminate stores abusing these weaknesses Etsy is already known for.  So, when I hear the phrase, “They’re treating Etsy like a boyfriend who broke their hearts,” being applied to business owners who find themselves at a crossroads with a company known for abandoning its core ideals whenever it’s convenient, and redefining buzzwords in order to spit-polish its rapidly tarnishing reputation, and keep itself relevant, I am beyond baffled as to how anyone could possibly be so out of touch. 

    It’s not about broken hearts, or broken promises.  It’s about a little something called The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that one or two of us around the world still believes is important.  It’s about putting people FIRST, and "things" further down the list.  It’s about making money without losing your soul in the process.  It’s about recognizing that a true global community is not about disenfranchised “others” living the life of peasants in order to serve, and supply our gluttonous demands for all the cheap, glorious, disposable JUNK we fill our surroundings with, and call “living,” while we keep telling the lie that poverty is the product of laziness, and nothing else. 

    No.  I don't have a broken heart.  I have a sick stomach because, beyond my education in apparel, and textile design, merchandising, manufacturing, business, and international trade, I actually do look beyond the catchy headlines to uncover truth in order to stay abreast of what's happening in our world, and understand that unbelievable prices come from unbelievable working, and living conditions.

     The True Cost


    Bottom line: What are you comfortable investing in?



    Post Update: June 20, 2015
    In the wake of plummeting stock prices ($14.31 down from $30 per share), Etsy announced June 16, 2015 that it will now enter into beta testing its very own version of crowdfunding called, Fund on Etsy.  Playing with the idea of crowd-sourcing for money without cracking down on store owners already abusing Etsy's next to non-existent enforcement of the use of non-vetted factories? What could possibly go wrong?

    I mean, it's still "handmade," right???

    Saturday, February 14, 2015

    Little Girl Found




    Some love, when you finally find it, actually has no beginning at all. It is with you, alive the entire time.

    Primordial.

    Love of self, twin flames, children born or unborn, whatever love makes your soul vibrate in unison with the universe, celebrate it!

    Sunday, January 11, 2015

    Ob-Sassenach

    It started in earnest a couple of months ago ... Innocently enough, actually ...  A woman contacted me hoping I'd be able to make her a scarf inspired by some of the knitted garments from a recently aired television series. Not being one to traverse the waters of custom orders all that often, I admit the current of curiosity was a little too strong this time, and I was soon swept away. After receiving a collage of photographs, and screenshots from Outlander, and talking it over with my soon-to-be new customer who knew exactly what she wanted, with visual aids, how could I say no?

    Having already seen the first episode by stumbling upon some free-promo-thing on TV, but unable to remember any neck-wear of note, it was down to Episode Two. I gathered my checklist of knitting accoutrement necessary for the undertaking: Large needles, practice yarn, calculator, notebook, pen & measuring tape, and settled in for some gauge swatching & TV watching. Instantly recognizing "Dwalin," and "Jackie Elliot," (and they're brothers! *swoon*) I figured it had to be decent, at the very least. The hour passed in combinations of knitting, glancing, number crunching, ripping out frogging, and starting completely over, until finally the scarf in question appeared on screen ... BAM, credits.  This won't do ... Episode Three!  I HAVE to see more scarf (or so I told myself). It went on like this for quite awhile, er, long after the actual knitting stopped, in fact.  I felt myself getting drowsy ... Just one more. I can relax on the couch and snuggle in and just catch one more episode (that's how I reconciled 5 & 6). But when Six ended with Claire storming past a group of Highland Scots, marriage contract in one hand, and snatching a bottle of whiskey from Dougal (Dwalin / Graham McTavish) with the other, after he'd just rescued her from Redcoats sending one scampering like a tiny mouse just by walking toward him whilst staring, I knew I had to get Episode Seven IMMEDIATELY ... And by any means necessary!

    For whatever reason, I HAD to know what happened to these people next ...

    Er ...

    So, I basically ended up freebasing the entire first half of Season One in a single night (I'm now patiently biding my time through the mid-season break for Part Deux's return April 4th, 2015), and it wasn't enough.  I've never seen a more vicious-to- viewers mid-season ending than Claire trapped with Black Jack Randall about to meet her doom, just as Jamie Take-Your-Hands-OFF-My-Wife Fraser bursts through the window.

    End Scene.  Credits.  That's all folks, for six months!

    I was online ordering the first book before Sam Heughan got to the "e" in wife, and have since been burning through them as fast as I can get my hands on them -- Let's put it this way, if drone delivery were readily available I'd have been turning the last page of Book One with my other hand waiting outside my front door for a copy of Book Two to be dropped into it without lifting an eyelid.

    My new shameless addiction aside, what I find interesting is how strangers have the ability shape each other's lives, and all because someone decided to go out on a limb and ask if I could do something for her, and by doing so, she has given something back to me that I've really come to enjoy.  Don't mistake me, I'm definitely not saying we all need to become followers marching single file behind the same drummer, or white knuckle each latest piece of pop culture shot out at us by The Machine, or freak out over frivolous television shows.  I mean paying attention to the ebb and flow of even the most casual encounters, because you truly never know where the next little spark to light your fire may come from, and that is always a gift to be thankful for. 


    Oh yeah, and kilts.  Because, kilts.

    Thursday, January 1, 2015

    Welcome

    xoxo