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i admit i have had a lack of affinity for the blog lately. sometimes i want to give it up, and then sometimes i become filled with inspiration and motivation.  perhaps the job i did last week in denver stripped a bit of inspiration from me, but has allowed me to regain some ideas of where i would like the blog to flow to. i am hoping to simplify my content finding more of a cohesive flow, though it seems i am constantly saying something like that.  i have always had a hard time with simplicity. by character and by the way i surround myself.  i am always longing for a more simple home, simple decoration (more storage could cure that), more simple ideas and motivations in life, simple relationships….as if this will solve life’s problems or perhaps just take the pressure off my lack of motivation to clean. less stuff, less mess?

even though everything is made in china, i can’t help but to love hobby lobby. a few weeks ago i was roaming the aisles looking for a way to make some stained glass, but instead i found these octagon mirrors. i love the clean and simple lines of geometry…how those lines come together perfectly and with ease. i always liked math in school, there was an answer at the end. i never understood that infinity part, it left me uneasy.

i turned the two mirrors with holes into a wall hanging using white deerskin, a few beads, and some feathers. you can find deerskin and feathers at your local craft store, though i used the supplies i use for the sun and glory line. i find these from native american trading posts and you can too online. for fun, i also made a design on a flat mirror (with no hole) using it as either a jewelry display on placing a plant on top!

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IMG_8974i have been taking my time these days and spending it on the property harvesting goodies and making special projects with them. sage, chokecherries, and yarrow have been my main foraging glory. i feel like i am in heaven when hunting for things in nature. it is so special to find mother earth’s gifts. i walked up and down the property looking for the smallest batches of yarrow. by the time i had figured out what it was, it started to disappear. hoping more will pop up soon.

yarrow is a very special flower with many medicinal purposes and history. here are a few website with great info: the withchipedia and ryandrum. more than likely you have it growing in your yard somewhere. at first sight i thought it was queen anne’s lace, which can be a common mistake.  do be careful if you are looking to harvest this yourself as there are a few very poisonous  look a likes. i did a lot of research to make sure i was harvesting the right plant. the biggest distinguisher comes from the leaves of the yarrow which look like mini ferns.

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yarrow is great for cuts, scrapes, menstrual cycles, fertility, repelling bugs, and colds/flu….just to name a few things. it can even be used in place of hops for beer. i made a few concoctions to have around the house.

yarrow tea : great for when the onset of a cold or flu starts. be cautious of how much tea you drink. i did find a few disclaimers around the web.

yarrow/thyme coconut oil : great for applying to wounds to help heal.  i used coconut oil instead of olive oil. coconut oil can solidify and therefore works great for applying to the skin.

yarrow / lavender bug spray: using vodka and adding lavender oil, both flowers help to repell bugs. when i was carrying around the basket of yarrow, i had no bug bites. when i put it down to harvest the chokecherries, i came back with 4 mosquito bites!
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sage: a few weeks ago, i was walking around  the property and discovered all these new things growing, one of which looked like white sage. turns out it is some form of it. then i was frolicking on the ranch up where it feels like a different world than by the river, a desert wonderland, and discovered more sagebrush. i am still trying to figure out exactly what kinds these are as there are so many forms of sage. the first kind i found, i also found growing in california when i was harvesting california white sage. perhaps you remember this post here?  though it is not the same as california white sage, it still smells great. the other type i believe to be a dwarf sagebrush. again, this is different even that the sage i have seen growing in new mexico or california. it still smells great though when burning. sage, traditionally is used for cleansing, though i admit i like it for the flavor it gives to the air.

i could hardly control my excitement to find all this. i have considered a trip back to ojai just to harvest more cali white sage. now, i’ve got something great to take away from colorado. i harvested a plethora and plan to go back for more. i sat outside one evening and wrapped these bundles of joy for gifts. i also give these to each sun and glory order that goes out.

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*** please note, i am not an expert when it comes to foraging or harvesting yarrow or sage. please do your own research when doing so or check with local officials.  this post is intended to inspire, not necessarily to teach. thank you!***

 

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during the planning process, natalie asked me to help with ideas for the dessert table. she was servings pies, cookies, and chocolate covered strawberries. after some pinning on pinterest, we came up with an idea and started shopping for fixtures and cake stands. let’s just say hobby lobby is a gem and possible my new favorite store since moving to CO. we found glassware on sale, that large wood fixture for holding pies, and some wood crates that natalie stained. natalie made the little pie menu and bought the succulent letter on etsy. all the desserts, except the cake, came from a place in boulder. we had the florist bring extra flowers to make small bouquets in mason jars to decorate the table, while adding random pieces here and there! the bow was made by  her family friend. i assembled the cake at the venue about twenty minutes before the ceremony. i would have preferred a little more time for perfection, but nat liked the homemade look anyway!

i decided natalie and brad needed a wedding cake. even if just something small. i did a martha stewart white cake and classic buttercream frosting. i baked three cakes layering them with buttercream, leaving the sides open. using different size skewers, i attached a few of her wedding flowers and some succulents to the skewers so that they stood up in the cake! wallah, there was the cake. apparently, it was pretty tasty! and if you look closely you might see a little lady finger taking a swig off the frosting!!!

see photos below for how to. note: the flowers are different than used on the cake. IMG_4806 IMG_4707 PicMonkey Collagehc PicMonkey Collagegf PicMonkey Collagefgxj IMG_4840 PicMonkey Collagefgdj PicMonkey Collagegfh PicMonkey Collagehgdj

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things are getting super busy round these parts again. (Currently sitting in the atlanta airport, traveling for work.) two weddings coming up in july. one, i will travel to finger lakes in new york state and the other, right here in colorado. just a good old 25 minutes from my house. natalie has been a very special part of my life for a long time now. since, the days in highschool when we would get taquitos covered in cheese and sour cream at the cafeteria and convince each other there was no guilt to be had. we became as close as ever in college, and that friendship has stayed strong since. we even share the same birthday! nat is so supportive. she listens, gives advice, and laughs. her family is throwing a beautiful shower next weekend in indiana, and i can’t make it due to travels for work. i wanted to still do something special for her, to show her how much i love her, and decided to throw her a little bridal lunch-in here in colorado. wait, did i mention natalie is one of two friends i actually do have here. and thank god for that!!!!

i told nat to pick a place for lunch and we invited just a handful of people. the theme became about flowers. there were these beautiful poppies growing all over the property out here and i wanted to do something with them. natalie is always taking pictures of flowers and she LOVES beautiful things. her excitement for simplicity in beauty is intoxicating. slowly, i came up with more and more flower themed knick knacks to create little prizes for everyone. i got tiny terra cotta flower pots (painting them would be cute too!) and filled them with flower seed packets, chocolate covered sunflower seeds, a homemade rosewater and thyme lollipop (recipe link below), a hand drawn rock and watercolor print, and of course, a small bouquet of flowers wrapped in brown paper and twine. simple, but sweet, and something everyone can appreciate.

since, we were having lunch at a restaurant, i didn’t want to play games, but i borrowed an idea from my friend stacy over at revisinglonliness. for her wedding she set up this big display with mason jars and people could write in suggestions for things like travel tips, ways to say i love you, rainy day, monday night. stacy’s were a little different, but the idea is the same and so unique. so, say on a rainy day they can pull out a piece of paper and take the suggestion into consideration. i love this idea!

for the lollipops, i followed a few different recipes. i did not have a mold, so i used this brilliant idea of using powdered sugar as a mold. if you don’t want to buy a mold, this is a great alternative! there are tons of recipes out there, here is a martha one! i just added rosewater and fresh thyme for my flavor.

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i am always wanting to more DIY’s, but for some reason, it isn’t the kind of post i go to first. i think i get intimidated by all the amazing diy’s you can find on pinterest. it is hard to come up with something original, and let’s face it, i hate to be anything but original.  i also like to come up with ideas that i can spend the least amount of money on, because once you get me into hobby lobby all hell breaks loose and my wallet generally pays the price.

this one i recently thought up with and i was proud. i am sure it has been done before, but i refuse to let myself google or search on pinterest. i am going to take this one home! the expensive part, would be the wood burning tool, if you don’t have one.  i have had one for a while now, and am always looking for some wood to burn. so, why not burn those beautiful old wood bowls and kitchen utensils? the amazing thing is, you can pick these up at the thrift store! the spoons and brush i have actually had for a while now, but the bowl was a thrift store gem! we all have wooden spoons in our drawers too!

the thing is once you get burning, it get’s kind of addicting. obviously, this is not a safe one for kids.

what you need:

wood burning kit and tools (i use the finest head)

wood bowls, utensils, or just some wood

a marking pencil, wax pencil, or pen

a good working surface

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mark on your wood the design you wood like to carve into the piece using a pencil or wax pencil. turn your tool on and let it heat up. carefully, follow your design template and use the tool like a pencil or pen. sometimes you need to push hard, sometimes you can gently place on the wood and let it slowly burn getting a lighter or deeper color.  wallah! that is it. pretty simple, my kind of DIY. PicMonkey Collagejvj PicMonkey Collagegvgj IMG_7712 2

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PicMonkey Collageergq IMG_6637 IMG_6610i have discovered the fun of flower arranging. there are some very talented modern florists out there these days and i constantly find them inspiring. like the ladies of frolic and  emmersonmerrick. (both of whom do classes if you live in portland or NYC)  i am always falling in love with their work and it makes me want to fill my life with flowers (something i need to do more often).  i was inspired to a try a little of my own with simple generic flowers you can find anywhere. certainly, those grocery store bouquets could do for a little sprucing up. sometimes you get that bouquet of flowers wrapped in plastic and although the flowers are pretty, just putting them in a vase seems a little blah. here are a few very simple creative ideas anyone can do.

1.cut the flowers down to a small stem and place in a small vase or jar. makes a simple small arrangement. nothing fancy, but cute!

2. i think greenery goes a long way. you can find bundles of this at your grocery store or florist. baby’s breath is another favorite of mine! just a vase of that i think is pretty. or go out into your yard and look for branches with green leaves, twigs, bushes. i use to do this in california in the spring. lemon tree leaves are great. pine branches. a simple twig too. don’t underestimate the power of what is in your yard. you could just do a bouquet from that too!

3. is your jar too short? or you want to make the flowers bunch together. some fishing line tied right underneath the flower head will do the trick!

4. one of my favorites is grabbing a bunch of jars, placed down the center of the table or maybe a window sill and each jar/vase gets one or two flowers.

 

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is it narcissistic to do a curiosity space on my own house? perhaps, but i do find my own house curious. i find it curious how quickly it can become a mess, how fast dishes pile up, how cleaning is so hard for me to start to do. maybe thats why i moved away, so i didn’t have to clean for guests, because i rarely have any. just kidding. i did however think how, really, i am kind of creating my own art residency. i don’t consider myself an “artist”, but maybe one day i would like to. really, i just want to work on the things that make me happy. i felt distracted in LA, and besides my kitty being terribly sick the past week, the distractions are on a much smaller scale here. i have a work room where i can actually set everything out, leave it out to come back to, and just somewhere that feels like i am doing something right.  i think besides my work room, the living room is my favorite. i love the fireplace, although from time to time i feel ultra guilty using so much gas. i love the saddle blanket i found at an antique store down the street (have i mentioned the plethora of antique and thrift stores around here? amazing!) that sits by the fireplace, i love looking out the window and seeing the horses across the street. i did  buy a few new pieces when i got here since i lost all those built-in’s in LA.

the kitchen, has taken some getting use to for me, coming from the one i had in LA which i am pretty sure that one will be hard to beat out for a long time. i don’t have as much storage and i have not been as inspired to cook yet, but i think that will just take some time. i do however, have a lovely window that brings so much light in. i have a few herb plants basking in the sun there ( i need more!!! i do miss my year round garden terribly). i also now have a kitchen table. something i didn’t have at my last place in LA. it doubles as a work space for cooking and general dumping grounds when i walk into the front door.

the bedroom has also become my office. my long desk sits in front of windows that overlook the river. in a way it is kind of nice, not just because of the windows, but because the computer is like having a tv in the bedroom. except, i can’t stream anything because my satellite internet sucks big time, not because it won’t stream, but because it uses too many gb. let me say it again, satellite internet sucks big time! moving on, luckily, all my clothes fit in the closet. however, a pile still generally accumulates on the floor. the bathroom is tiny, but has a claw foot tub. my first home to have one!  the house also comes equipped with a laundry/mud room that leads into the side yard that is fenced in. i have the tiniest little washer and dryer and a place to store all those odds and ends. i haven’t set up the back porch or side yard yet. it’s not that it hasn’t been warm enough, but i think once spring comes around and i can start planting things again, it will be fun to spruce up these areas! so, that will be a post to come a few months from now. i miss having a california yard, not gonna lie. i miss my garden, but i am excited for the prospects of one down the road. i am excited about the seasons,and the changes they bring.

on a  lola update, since many of my friends know about my life through my blog, wink wink, she has a really horrible deep ulcer. it is not cancer, thank god, but we just need to get her to eat. the girl is slowly coming back to herself. it has been such a stressful time for me. lola and wylie are my babies, and its so hard to see her suffer. she seems to be doing well in general though and wylie has been a pretty good boy too, leaving her be and letting me give her attention, for the most part anyway.

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jan, of poppytalk, did a post today about my house and home!  i couldn’t be more thrilled and honored to be a part of such a renowned publication on the web. i have been fan of poppytalk for such  long time now, gathering much inspiration and frankly, motivation.  the blog features many talented crafters and designers from around the globe, showcasing stunning images, DIY’s and weekend projects, crafter round-ups, and dispatches from around the world.   i did a tutorial post for them a while back on african mud cloth’s, and was thrilled then too!!!  i always thought it was so kind for jan to remember me and to keep in touch. i can only imagine she gets a whole lot of emails and submissions! thanks jan for that, and for the feature today. a nice tribute to possibly my favorite home i have ever lived in! i’m gonna miss this place!

 

 

as i mentioned in my last post, i may or may not have illegally picked some california white sage on my adventure to ojai last week! once, i discovered it growing on my first day of hiking, i immediately began a hunt and a mission… to hoard as much as possible.  it was so fun to forage this beautiful treasure, and couldn’t help but to think of mushroom or truffle foragers. how fun to be on the search ending in an instant gratification of triumph! the prize is yours. kind of like thrift store shopping! i have always felt this sense of peaceful accomplishment when finding my most prized possessions in nature. some sort of natural instinct turned frivolous vs. survival? :)

california white sage, only grows in southern california, but you can find it for sale in many places. there are other types of sage that are harvested and sold for the same purpose.  sage is used in many global indigenous practices to cleanse the body, the soul, sometimes tangibles,and mostly negative feelings. the sage can be burned taking the smoke cupped in ones hands and and rub or brush it over the body. when harvesting it is best to cut at the soft part of the stem, not the woodsy part. this will allow the plant grow two more branches the following year, otherwise it will grow none. traditionally, indigenous people would leave a gift like a piece of hair or a seed to honor the gift they have been given. if you wrap your own be sure to use cotton or hemp, other unnatural products will smell awful.

after doing some research on the internet, i have come across some negative feelings about the new age connotation of using sage amongst “rich white people”, or the misleading use of native american culture.  we are clearly currently seeing this in trendy clothing stores and boutiques. pendleton blankets are a commodity, even my jewelry line is inspired by native americans.  i couldn’t help but to ask if this is a shame for the native american culture? i can see where people might be taking advantage of such and not respecting the true context of the culture.  for me, it has always felt personal. i have always identified and extremely admired the indigenous tribal traditions of this land. as a child we were always taking trips to the mountains as a family. i would buy all the indian trinkets and children’s books. to this day i can remember vividly reading a story about a young boy sent out on a journey at the coming of age. the book was bought in jackson hole, wyoming and and am still on the hunt for it again (even scouring my parents basement). it inspired me so much as a child.  my mom loves to bring up how i am channeling our sioux ancestor. now, this was a long time ago, but we love to talk about it, much like we love to talk about being italian, even the small amount we are.  it is said that my dad’s uncle looked truly native american. this is when i wonder about past lives and the link to our ancestors. perhaps, this is where it begins for me subconsciously.

i do believe the founding fathers deeply wronged the natives to america, i do believe they suffer to this day and their cultures and lifestyle are badly badly bruised as a result of our ancestors. i do believe this is spiritually their land, unfortunately, like many things, violence won.   such beautiful traditions and beliefs destroyed and i hope that my love and inspiration only helps to keep it alive and perhaps help in the future through education and respect. check below for some links i have looked into for donating or volunteering.

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ST JOSEPHS INDIAN SCHOOL

it is getting to be that time of year when the garden will slowly start fading away.  even if living in socal gives us year round gardens, the summer garden is the most exciting for me!  i am sad to see her go soon, she gave me such smiles and warmth on a daily basis.  i love watering her soil and discovering the treasured buds her plants would give life to.

i attempted a winter garden last year, but somehow forgot to tend to her. i have started research on what to grow this fall, but if i book it out of LA soon, i won’t have the ability to garden. i will have to forfeit until next summer. that is one of the many beauties of southern california, the lack of harsh winters and distinct seasonal changes, allowing for year round gardens. it can still get pretty chilly and rainy here, and i have gotten use to the mediterranean climate.  i keep thinking about the winter i might be about to embark on, and wonder if i will frolic in the snow, or have a minor breakdown? i have always been nostalgic for winter ( i grew up in northern indiana where there is plenty of it) and believe the seasons have a great purpose and lesson for rebirth.   i will have to let go of her until next year when i can give her life again. drying the herbs might just be a way of holding on to the luxury of being able to grow such wonderful specimens…and not letting her bountiful beauty go to waste.

this year i am growing two kinds of basil, oregano, two types of thyme, mint, rose geranium, and parsley. a bay tree already grows tall in the yard sharing many, many leaves for use. my dad took home a bag full on his last visit. everyone might just be getting jars of bay leaves for christmas this year!

harvest your herbs before they flower.  this will need to be done throughout any growing period. once annual herbs flower, they have gone to seed and will produce no more leaves.  cutting back allows you to grow more! lots more! cut back basil to above bottom two sets of leaves. thyme, at about 1/2 to 1/3. you can use what you cut back to cook with or this is when you start drying or freezing.

smaller leaves, like thyme, oregano, and even the bay leaves can be dried on baskets or even screens(window screens, perhaps purchased from the thrift store?).  if you need to wash off dirt, do so and pat dry before spreading them out on the basket/screen. store out of sunlight with good air circulation until dry, possibly up to 7 days.

some leaves with a lot of moisture content, like basil, mint, and tarragon, can not be laid on top of each other to dry (sometimes oregano too, but mine worked out fine. if you live in a humid environment i would try this method for any tender herb) instead, you can make a bundle of stems (3-5) tied together with gardeners string to hang upside down.

if the leaves are not quite dry, like sage, you can pop them in the oven at the lowest possible temp for 5 minutes.  you do not want to store any herbs in a jar with moisture, as this will cause mold.  if you have a dehydrator, you can also use this. check out the website at the end of the post for more info on using the dehydrator.

to test if the herbs are dry and ready for storage…check the crumble and the crackle.  if the leaves have turned brown they are not good for culinary purpose. you can find other purposes for these brown herbs on the web.

store the leaves whole, away from light and heat. crumble  at time of use to release the essential oils, giving a more intense flavor.

this is a great website for gardening tips!

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