Tuesday, March 28, 2017


 "In the Spring I have counted  136 kinds of weather, inside of 24 hours." -Mark Twain (1835-1910)
 In the Spring, EARLY spring, that is, I tend to quilt en masse, and I also tend to hoard things to plant. I am lucky enough to have this lovely little greenhouse that sees a lot of activity. If I could live in the greenhouse, I probably would. Full of clematis, and pots of things, and veggies and flowering in-edibles waiting to be planted. And sometimes a  cat or two from the hill.....
 Well, they tend to  hang out more, in my empty pots.  As Spencer demonstrates  so well...
 This year, I've decided to switch it up a notch. If you do the same thing every year then it gets boring.Tired of  the same things stuff into the dirt on the hill.  Or in the front. So I bought a wack of rose bushes, to fill up the front bed, where usually I'm scuffling around trying to stuff in annuals.If all works out , this year, it will  have roses and Centaurea venturing forth out of the soil.  All sprayed with Bobbex. The Deer LOVE roses...... 
 And then there's the quilting.  It just gets a hold  and your either planting or quilting.. These pieces  I still have to dye in beet juice to make them distressed.  Which in some way is rather calming  to dye something.....kathartic, like planting.
 "Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems."
            - Rainer Maria Wilke (1875-1926) (He was a Bohemian-Austrian novelist)
 I've also decided to grow  Dahlias and Glads up on the hill, with Velvet Queen Sunflowers mixed in.  Centaurea on the side. I ripped out all the brambles by the fence. Most satisfying thing to do.  The earth there is well  ground up, full of compost and worms. I haven't had Dahlias or Glads for years and years. Definitely not in their own space. 
 I also figured that I  needed to plant some veggies, and keep  resowing through the summer to see what  will work. So, on a dark and rainy storm day, I toddled down to the local grocery store....they have the best selection of  bedding plants every season. Cheaper than the fancy greenhouses sometimes. 
 They also have the best selection of  seed packets.  I love seed packets. I get so many that sometimes I can't decide WHAT I want to plant. But this time, I scanned through  the choices and picked up Radish, Lettuce, Heirloom Carrots, Peppers, Romaine, lots and lots of Spinach, which should do quite well.
 And because they were there, and I couldn't help myself, grabbed a flat of butter crunch, red leaf, salad greens,broccoli, cabbage, already started, set to go. Now, if the RAIN would just stop......
There are Six , foolproof, EASY PEASY veggies to grow: Spinach, Chard, Lettuce,Radishes, Kale and Peas. 
 "Lettuce is like conversation, it must be fresh and crisp, so sparkling that you never notice the bitter in it..." 
          -Charles Dudley Warner(1829-1900) (Essayist/ friend to Mark Twain)
 MARCH  ( well it's almost April, though you'd never know it with all sog and bog around) is a good time to plant ( from seed,  if you wish): Broccoli, Cabbage, Beets, Carrots, Corn, Cukes, Lettuce varieties, Melons, Onions, Peas , Peppers, Spinach and Summer Squash...

Spinach grows like crazy. Very frost tolerant.  Peas also.  Hard to keep up with the harvest at times. More to share with your neighbours.
 "In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt."
                                        -Margaret Atwood (1939-) (Canadian novelist) 
 At this time of year you may want to cover young veggies in plastic tunnels or covers at night.  Or you can wait to plant till April. Though you may still have to cover things then. I only have one small section that isn't taken up with flowers in which to plant, so am waiting  till just the start  of April. Depends on the sog and bog. Rain. Rain. Rain. In the winter, it was Snow. Snow. Snow.  Gives me time to get CHICKEN WIRE to cover against the deer.....
 IF there are Deer around .  Though I can't say they come here, in the summer and eat stuff; just seeds in winter and apples in fall. At least , in my garden that's what their pattern usually happens to be. BUT, Deer ( with the big brown eyes) DO like  things like beans, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower,  and basically anything YOU like to eat.  Not hot things like garlic or hot peppers. 
       I tend to use a cover of chicken wire at night, and spray BOBBEX around the area. Not ON the veggies or fruit, by the way. BOBBEX  contains Fish Oil, Fish Meal, Garlic Oils, Clove Oils. Stuff that Deer DISLIKE IMMENSELY. It works. They may still come in the garden, but I haven't had them eat things surrounded by Bobbex. It's like the super hero of repellents. So plant away......

 "The sun just touched the morning; the morning, happy thing supposed that he had come to dwell, and life would be all spring."
                                              -Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Morgan's Henna Tattoos.....Part 1

 "The Artist's world is limitless..." -Paul Strand (1880-1976)
 HENNA. TATTOOS.  It goes back something like 5000 years.  All the way to Ancient Egypt.  Eastern cultures  and designs seem to follow along the lines of four different styles depending on the region. In Sumeria, beer was discovered at 3000 B.C. In Armenia, the oldest shoes were found at over 5000 years. SO Henna Tattoos is one of the oldest things to have survived.
 DESIGNS: Floral designs in the Middle east. Geometric designs in North Africa. Tattoos cover the body in India and Pakistan. Blocks of colour on fingertips and toes  seem to be favoured by Indonesia and Asia. 
 Nowadays there are many , many ideas. Anything goes. A lot of designs follow individual beliefs or styles. Artists can be as creative as they want. 
 Many times a good reference manual helps to bring inspiration. And many times it's just the  artist who becomes inspired and lets the Henna paste  be the inspiration.
 The stain left behind by the paste works really well on skin, but can also be used on other mediums, such as wooden bracelets, boxes, leather.  The skin tattoos will fade in about three weeks. It is really a very centred art form. The scent of the Tea Tree Oil in the paste is  also very calming. I love the smell of it, as the henna paste is applied. 
 You can purchase Henna Tattoo paste cones from the internet ( they come all the way from India). Sometimes you may have to wait two months for the package to arrive. Or you can make your own. Morgan's made her own at times.I think you have to let homemade paste sit a while longer on the skin. Once we used it and it looked great but didn't let the ink dry enough.  Henna Tattoo Paste is NOT the  same as Henna Hair colour, by the way! 
 RECIPE FOR HENNA PASTE: ( This is the one Morgan makes )
 6 oz brewed STRONG coffee, 1 tbsp peppercorns, 1 tbsp whole cloves, 1 tbsp cumin seeds, and 2 cinnamon sticks STEEPED in the coffee for about 4 minutes.
In a plastic container  add 1.75 oz henna powder.
 POUR the coffee mixture, a little it at a  time, through a strainer into the dry henna powder, and mix till it looks like mashed potatoes. You are going to be a chef!
 SQUEEZE juice of 1 lemon into the henna mixture.
 ADD 2 tsp sugar  to this. Mix well. The sugar helps the colour to stick.Let stand with lid on container for about 10-20 hours. I would go for the 20 hours to make sure it  squishes  all together. It should turn dark.
 ADD 2 tsp of tea tree oil and stir. WONDERFUL smell.  Should resemble cake frosting, or whipped shortbread batter.Make sure that no one is allergic to essential oils.
 KEEP this in the freezer until  ready to  plop  it into rolled cones. This way is a bit more labour intensive that you can always have it on hand. THE PASTE can stay in the  freezer about 3 months.
 Five of the most basic Henna designs are Circle, Petal, Leaf or Spire, Question Mark, and Straight Line.  Begin by practising these on paper, or on skin. Find a starting point and off you go.Find a point and start exploring shapes and designs. It's uplifting and incredibly freeing.There is no right or wrong. Just art.
 Morgan has become quite deft in doing intricate henna designs. SO talented. We can spend an entire afternoon just  swirling  henna here and there.  It's peaceful and calming. She's so creative. Has a natural eye. Some of my favourite times are spent doing Henna with her.
 After you've finished with one side of the hand, you need to let it dry about 20 minutes or so.  Then you get to scuff off the black henna paste. Underneath you will find the stain is  light coloured. That's normal at this stage.It darkens as time goes on.
 After that, turn over the hand and do the other side. Repeating the drying process. If you have any dishes to wash in the near future you will have to wear dish gloves, to protect the tattoo stain. It wears off in about three weeks. Then you get to do a new tattoo.....and another one after that.....and then another one......you see where I'm going with this......Maybe try tattooing a foot or two...
 Mehndi is a beautiful  tattoo art form. I'm absolutely hooked. Morgan's unique ideas  makes each time we spend at it  more special  as time goes on.  I can't imagine a better day........
 "To practise any art, is to make your soul grow..." 
                                                                      - Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007)
 Photographs 2017: Michelle McConachie Woods
Henna Art: Morgan Woods

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Bun Stuff.....

 "The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable..." -M.F.K. Fisher ( The Art of Eating)
2 large eggs, 1/4 cup sugar, pinch salt, 1/2 cup oil, 1 cup water, 1 cup warm milk, 1 tsp sugar, 1/2 cup warm water, 1 x 1/4 oz yeast, 8 1/4 cups flour
 Beat eggs in large bowl.
 Beat first amount of sugar and salt.
 Add oil, first amount of water and milk.
 Stir second amount of sugar in warm water in small bowl.
 Sprinkle yeast over top. Let stand 10 minutes. Stir to dissolve. Add to egg mix. Mix.
 Work in enough flour till dough pulls away from sides of bowl.
 Turn out onto floured surface. Knead 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic.
 Place in greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover with tea towel. Let stand in oven with light on and door closed for about 1 1/2 hours till doubled in size.
 PUNCH dough down. Divide dough into 36  egg size pieces. 
 Shape into buns. Arrange on greased baking sheets about 1 1/2 . Cover with tea towel. 
 Let stand in oven with light on and door closed for  about 45 minutes till double in size.
  Bake in 375 oven  for about 20 minutes. Makes 3 dozen.
 "Acorns were good, till bread was found..." -Francis Bacon (1561-1626)
 Photography 2017 M. McConachie Woods