"If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud." ~ Emile Zola

23 November 2011

Big Shopping Weekend! Veg Artisans Gear Up!

Friday kicks off a huge weekend of shopping, getting holiday shoppers all aflutter! Black Friday precedes a Saturday of supporting small businesses (Small Business Saturday) and Cyber Monday, online shopping's biggest day of the year. Some of my fellow teammates in EtsyVeg are celebrating by offering great sales and perks, giving you a chance to not only support small businesses by shopping with our independent artisans, but the chance to support handmade and more compassionate living!





Take the Pledge to Buy Handmade for the Holidays and the pledge to Shop Small, while supporting vegan and vegetarian artisans- kick the holiday shopping season off ethically while buying gifts that are unique, made with a personal touch, and filled with love! :)

Check out these shops for awesome savings:

AndLive~
30% OFF everything in shop Thanksgiving morning through midnight on Cyber Monday.
Code: ETSYONSALE

Arthurs Plaid Pants~
10% OFF everything in shop on Black Friday, 11/25/11 only!
Code: BLK10
15 % OFF everything in shop on Cyber Monday, 11/28/11 ONLY!
Code: CYB15

ClaynFiber~
20% OFF from Thursday, November 24th through Monday, November 28th.
Code: HOLIDAY20

Ideology~
Save 30% on everything in shop from Black Friday through Cyber Monday (the weekend included)! Cyber Monday buyers will also receive a free gift!
Code: 30PERCENT

KarinaManarin~
FREE SHIPPING on all domestic orders through Monday the 28th!

Krug's Eco-Logic~
$20 & up ... 20% off code: 20PERCENT
$40 & up ... 30% off code: 30PERCENT
$60 & up ... 40% off code: 40PERCENT
$110 & up ... 50% off code: 50PERCENT

LuniqueUK~
20% OFF Friday through Monday.
Code: LOVEXMAS

M's Knits and Things~
25% OFF orders from Friday morning through Monday night at midnight.
Code: BLACKFRIDAY25

Mom, Baby & Me~
FREE SHIPPING NOW thru Black Friday/Cyber Monday Weekend!
Code: FREESHIPPING

Twig & Leaf Botanicals~
30% OFF on black friday, small business saturday, and cyber monday!
Code: ETSYONSALE

Veganville~
30 percent off everything in shop (except gift certificates) from midnight Thanksgiving through midnight cyber Monday. Yay!
Code: BIG30

Vivace Crafts~
15% OFF everything from Black Friday to Cyber Monday! :)
Code: BLACKFRIDAY1

Have fun! Support Small Businesses! Buy Handmade! Go Veg!

18 October 2011

Old Fabric & Trim Lovelies- Musty to Fresh & Clean

SITUATION
A dear friend gave me some incredible old treasures: an old slip with a lovely flounce; an ancient dress and blouse remnants with amazing pieces of trim left; loads of fancy ribbons; antique cotton and handmade lace pillow covers in white; scraps & pieces of fabric in cotton, linen, and upholstery; and some cotton convas plain totes.

CHALLENGE
Stains on some things and lots of musty old odor permeating everything deeply. In addition, some pieces are so fragile from age that only a soak and gentle washing by hand was appropriate. The challenge? How to get all the pretties happy, clean and fresh-smelling.


Wet fabric, linens, lace and trim drying on my porch.

SOLUTION
As the smell made much of this lovely stuff unusable if the odor remained, I wasn't too worried about being a little rough and damaging it. But I wanted to preserve as much as possible. Here are the steps I took:

1) Pre-soak: I filled a tub with luke warm water about 6 inches deep, adding a gentle dish liquid and agitating the water to make suds. I then unfolded and shook out all pieces and added them to the water. A gentle swish to get everything submerged, and I left to soak for approximately 2 hours. After the soak, I rinsed in warm running water and squeezed gingerly to remove excess.

Results? I was amazed at the dirt these pieces had collected over time! The water was like a dark tea when I returned, and the rinsing water was brown and grey. There was debris and dirt left behind in the water. So, everything was cleaner, BUT the mildewy-musty-old smell was very strong still.

2) Vinegar Bath: I moved this step to the basement (where my washing machine lives) to avoid stinking up my apartment with vinegar fumes! I took the wet pieces to the washing machine, where I had filled the washer for a small load using warm water and added 1 cup of vinegar. I submerged everything. taking care to open up folded pieces, and used my hand to agitate the water. I left to soak overnight. The next day, I removed the bundle to the laundry sink for a rinse in warm running water and a squeeze.

Results? I was super surprised at how just 1 cup of white vinegar seemingly removed the mildew and must odors! I didn't get excited yet, though, as one soak remained to ensure the things were smell-free for good! A tiny bit of some odor remained, but a just plain "old" smell rather than mildew.

3) Final Soak: I refilled the washer for a small load, adding warm water again along with a cap full of natural liquid laundry soap. I made suds with my hands, and added the linens and lace and fabric, swishing and submerging. I left to soak for 3 hours. I then rinsed well, squeezed out excess wettage, and set aside.

I decided to chance tossing the fabrics in the dryer on permanent press for 20-30 minutes, as it all seemed pretty sturdy. The rest of the pieces I hung to air dry on my back porch railing.

The results? DAISIES! Seriously, in most pieces not a lick of musty odor remains, and some have a tiny tinge of "old" smell, although nothing unpleasant. Some stuff even smells like detergent (I use very a mild-scented one). SUCCESS! No pieces lost or destroyed. Lots of beautiful lovelies to inspire and be made into crafty accessories!

01 October 2011

Happy World Vegetarian Day!



Saturday, October 1st is World Vegetarian Day! A perfect celebration to follow yesterday's "Hug a Vegetarian Day" (hugs to our veggie pals everywhere). :) Sponsored by the North American Vegetarian Society (NAVS), World Veg Day was "established as an annual celebration to promote the joy, compassion and life-enhancing possibilities of vegetarianism. " There are many great ways to honor World Veg Day, which extends Vegetarian Awareness Month throughout October.

If you are non-vegetarian and currently just thinking about trying meat-free eating or about transitioning fully to a veg lifestyle:
Find other friends who are, too, and explore new dishes at a dinner party or potluck.
Seek out a friend, family member or co-worker who is already vegan or vegetarian to ask for support in your own transition. Explore veg websites like NAVS for information on why and how to go veg. Read about the benefits of living a veg lifestyle. Check out veg recipe and info books from your local library. Try delicious veggie foods (see veggie links on my blog sidebar for some great recipe resources and search my blog for some of my favorite recipes) with both vegetarian and non-veg friends and family. Take the Vegetarian Pledge (and get a chance to win $1000!) to avoid all meat, fish and fowl throughout the month!



If you are vegan or vegetarian:
Host veg dinner parties, picnics, and potlucks for veg and on-veg pals.
Lend extra support to someone in your life who has expressed interest in or is attempting to go veg. Wear tees, buttons, and bags with a vegetarian message. Set up displays of vegetarian info at local grocery stores, libraries, community centers, etc. Hand out pamphlets about how to go vegetarian and why. Encourage your non-vegetarian friends, co-workers and family members to go meat-free by taking the Vegetarian Pledge (and getting a chance to win $1000!) to avoid all meat, fish and fowl throughout the month! And most of all, be a living, loving, compassionate example!

Go Veg!

20 September 2011

In the Garden- An Update

September weather is my absolute favorite, although this year there seems to be a lot more rain. The mild temperatures and sun feel wonderful as the Autumnal Equinox approaches! As we move toward autumn, many green things in my yard are slowly ending their life cycle, including a few things in my garden. Many others are still in full, happy growth! :)

Late last week I fertilized the garden again, pulled weeds, and clipped/neatened veggies and herbs. Our porch flowers are thriving, with new blossoms daily and pops of color to brighten our home!


Tomato in the morning sun.


Happy Growth:

~Tomatoes! Both tomato plants are still blossoming, and there are plenty of baby tomatoes on each. They are a bit smaller than in later summer, but still vibrant in flavor, color, and deliciousness! This weekend I spent a while staking and re-staking the new growth!

~Eggplants! Well, it seems the purple eggplants we expected are not purple at all. Our little round, globe eggplants turned yellow and remained the size of eggs! Turns out we have an heirloom called Thai Yellow Eggplants! lol We have been collecting them, but haven't yet tried to eat any. There are loads of new blossoms and baby Yellows on our plant, which keeps on growing full and beautiful.

~Wildflowers! My very late planting of wildflowers is showing it's first buds! Alyssum is flowering and the Zinnias have their first blossoms. Can't wait to see what color they will be!


Zinnia!


Winding Down:

~Beans! Our bean patch is definitely on its last stems, and the leaves are growing worn, thin and brown. There are still some flowers and baby beans, but they stop growing at just an inch or so and become soft.

~Greens! The few more mature lettuces we have left are no longer producing new leaves, or their leaves stay small. We had to pull many that were bolting. We have new lettuces that I planted a couple of weeks ago. These have been thinned, but many remaining bolted this past weekend and had to be pulled. Those that are left are looking a little... wobbly and uncertain. :/ The spinach I planted along with the lettuce a couple of weeks back didn't make it. After two days of splattering rain, our new sprouts were smashed. The two that lived haven't grown at all, and one died this past weekend.


And in Other News:

~Carrots! Hmmm... Though we have gorgeous carrot greens that continue to grow, the few I have uprooted to check progress have had teeny, thin roots. :( Looks like another year without a happy carrot harvest. We will have to investigate what could have caused this, as last year's carrots, though small and short, were actually edible and tasty!

~Herbs! Most are looking great! We have some new dill and cilantro that needs some growth time before starting to harvest. We have pretty much depleted our basil- it's no longer replenishing after cuts.

~Broccoli! We've got about 12-14 broccoli seedlings growing! They've been thinned out a couple of times. Having never grown broccoli and never fall crops, I'm not sure what to expect. They are still looking pretty spindly (photo below).


Baby broccoli. Hoping for a fall harvest...

19 September 2011

Curtains- My First Machine Project!

My first real sewing project- kitchen curtains made from vintage fabric in a bright pattern of veggies and pansies, which I found at Creative Reuse Pittsburgh.

I thought the vibrant colors of the fabric were much too loud on the white background of the original fabric, so I put my new tea-dye skills to work! After washing and drying the material, I dropped it into a lighter tea using only half of the tea bags as in my previous dye sessions, letting the fabric soak half the time. The results are perfect, dulling the colors a bit and giving the white background a slightly worn look. They work great in my kitchen, which I prefer mostly neutral with little pops of color in towels and cookware/dishware (I love reds).





As a brand newbie sewer, I have to admit that I find the measuring and cutting of the fabric is much more difficult than the sewing part and figuring out the machine! I feel pretty good about my machine work during the project, actually, and ran into only a few challenges: thread coming out of the needle while sewing, keeping a totally straight seam line, and finding my stitches were very loose. My Mom helped me figure out that I was threading the machine slightly wrong and that I needed to increase the machine tension to make my stitches tighter.

So how'd they turn out? You judge for yourself! Some slightly lopsided seams, a few loose stitches, but overall I am quite happy!


17 September 2011

Things I am Loving... Concrete!

On Etsy, I have been very drawn to amazing things made with concrete, really noticing and appreciating the unique properties of the material when used in creating. Simple. Rustic. Awesome. Here are a few of my favorite concrete-based creations on Etsy, followed by a couple of great tutorials on how to make your own "concrete" planters!


Square . Concrete . Pot:


Oak Leaf and Acorn Necklace:



Slim Industrial Rustic Concrete Vase / Holder:



Grassy Pebble: Concrete and Faux Grass Necklace:



Indoor/Outdoor and Awesome Concrete Planter -Circle:



Electric Blue Bib and Gray Bib Necklace:



TUTORIALS

Great DIY projects for your fantastic concrete planters!

Making Hypertufa Pots

How to Make Modern Cement Planters Using Packaging


13 September 2011

Pittsburgh Walk for Farm Animals 2011




I am so excited to be participating in raising funds for the 2nd Annual Pittsburgh Walk for Farm Animals 2011 next month! On Saturday, October 1st, Pittsburgh will host its second Walk for Farm Animals to support the lifesaving rescue, education and advocacy work of Farm Sanctuary! Please help me reach my fundraising goal of $300! Any amount donated, whether $1 or $100, is hugely helpful. Visit my fundraising page or look for the widget on my blog sidebar to the right to contribute. Any amount is welcome! :)



For 25 years, Farm Sanctuary has relied on the Walk for Farm Animals to support its life-saving mission to protect farm animals from cruelty, inspire change in the way society views and treats farm animals, and promote compassion. The Walk for Farm Animals takes place annually in more than 75 cities across the United States and Canada to celebrate and promote compassion for farm animals and raise funds to enable
Farm Sanctuary to continue its vital work. Last year, Pittsburgh was the 6th BIGGEST WALK ON THE CONTINENT, had 150 walkers and raised over $13,000! This year, our goal is to have 300 walkers and raise $30,000.
Please help us move closer to the #1 spot this year!



Our local Walk coordinator, Kim Piper of
Sunstone Soap, states, "Our goal is to walk together as a compassionate community while we have fun, raise money and help better the world for all beings!" Please join us! All members of the community (
regardless of dietary lifestyle- non-vegans and non-vegetarians are absolutely included) with a love for animals and a desire to end their needless suffering at the hands of factory farms are invited to walk, volunteer, donate, or help in some way.

How You Can Help:

* Sponsor me in my fundraising efforts as part of Pittsburgh's Walk, donating what you can to help me reach my goal of $300! All donations go directly to Farm Sanctuary! Visit my fundraising page via this link or via the widget on my blog sidebar.

* Register to walk in Pittsburgh or your own city!

* If you are unable to walk, register to "Sleep In" as a Virtual Walker!

* Donate a vegan food item to our post-Walk picnic!
Please contact me to arrange this.

* Donate a gift card, retail item, or handmade good to our "Moopon" sale!
Please contact me to arrange this.

* Spread the word about the Walk, Farm Sanctuary, and the plight of abused and neglected farm animals!


Thanks so much for your support!




12 September 2011

Vegan Sweet Potato & Bean Burritos

I love this recipe, and we have made it many times! Sweet, spicy, fresh, and delicious, not to mention lower in fat. The title of this post leaves out the "Black Bean" in the original recipe simply because when I made them this last time I used a combination of kidney beans and garbanzos instead, with great results.

This recipe makes A LOT of burrito mixture! Two of us eat two burritos each per meal with plenty of filling, and we get 3 meals easily from one recipe.

Experience in making this recipe has led me to make some of my own modifications to better meet our taste preferences. You'll see my changes in italics beside each recipe ingredient and in the Notes section after the cooking directions.

The biggest modification I make is significantly reducing the amount of cumin and coriander called for. I love cumin, but I find the 4 tsp called for is too much and reduce it by 1 tsp. Additionally, I find the 4 tsp of coriander the recipe calls for to be overpowering, and find it adds a strong perfumey taste. I reduce the 4tsp in the recipe to 1 tsp with satisfactory results. Lastly, I almost always end up adding an additional 1-2 Tbsp of fresh lemon juice to the burrito mixture at the very end of the recipe, after the bean and potatoes are mixed in with the onion-spice blend.






Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos
from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat [Vegetarian] Favorites


5 c peeled, cubed sweet potatoes
2 tsp canola or other vegetable oil (I used olive.)
3 1/2 c diced onions
4 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 tbsp minced fresh green chile
4 tsp ground cumin (I used 3 tsp., reducing by 1 tsp.)
4 tsp ground coriander (I used 1 tsp., reducing by 3 tsp.)
4 1/2 c cooked black beans (three 15-oz. cans, drained) (Make sure to rinse, too.)
2/3 c lightly packed cilantro leaves (plus additional chopped for topping)
2 tbsp lemon juice (Fresh is best. I added an additional 2 tbsp at end.)
1 tsp salt
8 eight-inch flour tortillas
Fresh tomato salsa





1. Preheat oven to 350 OR 300 degrees F (see "my notes" below).

2. Place sweet potatoes in pot with water to cover. Cover and bring to boil. Simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.


3. While the sweet potatoes are cooking, warm the oil in a medium skillet or saucepan and add the onions, garlic and chiles. Cover and cook on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender, about 7 minutes. Add the cumin and coriander and cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and set aside.

4. In a food processor, combine the black beans, cilantro, 2 Tbsp lemon juice, salt, and cooked sweet potatoes and puree until smooth. (You can also mash the ingredients in a large bowl by hand using a potato masher. The result will be a less smooth but nicely textured filling.) Transfer the sweet potato mixture to a large mixing bowl and mix in the cooked onions and spices.

5. Lightly oil a large baking dish. Spoon about 2/3 to 3/4 cup of the filling in the center of each tortilla, roll it up, and place it, seam side down, in the baking dish. Cover tightly with foil and bake for about 30 minutes, until piping hot. Serve topped with salsa.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings


MY NOTES:
Rather than baking these as called for in step 5, I do the following:

In step 4, I add the bean-potato mixture to the skillet with the cooked onions and spices and reheat entire mixture over low heat. This is when I add the extra lemon juice and adjust spices, adding pepper and additional salt, if needed.

While the mixture is heating in the skillet, I toss the tortillas onto the top rack of the oven for several minutes, preheated to 300 degrees F. Remove when warm and set aside.

When mixture is hot and tortillas are warmed, add mixture to each tortilla and top with fresh additions like:
chopped fresh cilantro, avocado slices, fresh tomato chunks, salsa, vegan (or dairy) sour cream or plain soy yogurt (adds the zing and creaminess of sour cream with lower fat), vegan cheeze or dairy cheddar

Enjoy! :)

10 September 2011

Budgie Bathtime!

Our Lily and Otis love an occasional bath in a bowl of lettuce or spinach leaves and some warm, shallow water. Here, Lily has already indulged and moved away long enough for Otis (green & yellow feathers) to take his turn. :) The video is a bit dark- hope you can still enjoy it!




09 September 2011

It's National Yoga Month: What is Yoga, Anyway?

September is National Yoga Month, a celebration of yoga and a campaign to inspire healthy living through yoga. Check out the official website to learn more and to see if any studios in your area are hosting Yoga Month events or offering a free week of yoga!

Yoga is something I haven't posted much about, despite being a yoga teacher.
Coping daily with a chronic illness has left me feel quite alienated from my own practice, although yoga can be a valuable tool for maintaining balance and healing. I've recently been working toward reconnecting to my yoga and rebuilding a practice, and I will hopefully be able to share some of my experiences here on my blog.


What is Yoga (my personal definition?

Yoga is who we are, our natural state of happiness, bliss, joy, and unconditional love. Yoga guides us into stillness so that we may experience the truth of who we are, leading us back to the essence of our true selves. It lets us uncover and discover our true nature so that we can live with new awareness. Yoga guides us inward toward the eternal, creative energy at our core, and fosters the realization that we are than body and mind. Yoga is the practice of celebrating what is. Like all spiritual practices, yoga brings us "home" to the realization that we already have everything we need. When we are alienated or far from "home", yoga reminds us that we are already there, that we are not separate or imperfect after all.


What is Yoga Really?

Here's a little excerpt from an article I wrote about
about what Yoga is, the very basic definition of Yoga, during my teacher training 10 (yikes!) years ago:

Yoga dates back to prehistory in India- evidence of yoga practice has been found as far back as 2000 to 4000 BC in the Indus Valley civilization. Yoga was originally referenced in the Vedas, the most ancient scripture known. It was further outlined several thousand years later by an Indian philosopher named Patanjali, who codified the spiritual path of yoga into a manual called the Yoga Sutras, which outlined the yoga way of life to help humankind.

The Sanskrit word "yoga" means “to yoke”, “harmony”, or “union” between the body and mind or between the individual soul and the eternal source of all, the Universal Soul. Traced back to a divine source, yoga has traditionally been a sacred and often carefully-kept secret.


Yoga encompasses physical movement, breathing, meditation, and other practices. These practices make up the Eight Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga or the Eight-Limb Path of Yoga
, which is a step-by-step guide for "right living", a plan to guide us from action to knowledge to liberation. A blend of philosophy and science, the practice of yoga is intended to purify the body and obtain a calm, clear mind, leading to self-awareness or ultimate "bliss".

I used these books for reference, and recommend all of them:
Jivamukti Yoga: Practices for Liberating Body and Soul
Meditations for the Mat: Daily Reflections on the Path of Yoga The Spiritual Science of Kriya Yoga
Yoga and the Quest for the True Self
Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness

08 September 2011

Backyard Visitor: Awesome Spider!

This incredible spider was hanging out on our window screen the other day, resting and bug catching from a beautiful circular web! She was huge (the size of a quarter with legs all extended- yikes!), with brilliant, hairy orange legs banded in white and black and a bulbous body patterned in yellow and black. I looked her up online and identified her as a spider called a Marbled Orb Weaver. Stunning!

Here's the picture of our visitor, slightly unclear since the photo was taken through the window screen. Below that is a photo from the internet.




07 September 2011

Quote of the Week: Mother Earth, Father Sky

"Is not the sky a father and the earth a mother, and are not all living things with feet or wings, or roots their children?"

~Black Elk, Oglala Sioux

05 September 2011

Projects I'd Love to Make: All Lacey and Pretty

I have been in love with old lace and linens since sometime last year. I love the look of aged doilies and lace mixed in with more modern lines and styles. I would love to try these projects!
























































Here are more ideas of doily-inspired projects:

DIY with Vintage Doilies

Doily Crafts & DIY Roundup


Many of my dream project ideas come from the
Craftzine Blog.

03 September 2011

Someday I'd Like To...

... see the Monarch butterflies at their migration place in Mexico:




... spend a night watching Aurora Borealis anywhere on Earth (Sweden or Norway would be cool, as would Alaska or Australia):

01 September 2011

Chocolate Zucchini Bread!

I came across this recipe for zucchini bread with chocolate when I was still super excited about harvesting an abundance of squash from my own garden. Once I accepted that I won't have any home-grown zucchini of my own (*sigh*), I was ready to find another way to make this delicious bread. Bought a big, healthy zucchini from a Grow Pittsburgh stand this weekend, and made this recipe that very day. :)

The result is a moist, chocolatey bread that is more like cake. The zucchini seemingly melted away into the cake, and with the chocolate chips added little, random pockets of gooey goodness. YUM!























I veganized the recipe and changed a few things, but click on the title to follow the link to the original instructions. I also doubled the recipe with good results.


Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Ingredients

1 1/2 c Shredded Zucchini

1 c Whole Wheat Pastry Flour

1/2 c Cocoa Powder

1 tsp Baking Soda

1/4 tsp Baking Powder

pinch of salt

1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon

1/2 c Canola Oil (I used half applesauce to reduce the fat content. Use 1/3 c applesauce to replace all oil.)

1/2 c Sugar (For a less sweet bread, use 1/4c sugar here.)

1/2 c Packed Brown Sugar

Vegan substitute for 2-Eggs (I used Ener-G Egg Replacer.)

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/2 c Chocolate Chips























Directions

In large bowl, use a mixer to combine oil/applesauce, sugars and vanilla. Add egg replacer and shredded zucchini. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, salt, cinnamon, baking soda and baking powder. (I used a regular, fine metal kitchen strainer, as my sifter broke.) Slowly add dry ingredients to wet. Beat until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Scrape batter into a greased 9x5x3 loaf pan, OR a loaf pan lined with parchment paper (my preference). Bake at 350 degrees for 50-65 minutes, or until sharp knife inserted into center comes out clean.

Eat it up, yum! :P

31 August 2011

Quote of the Week: The Longest Journey

"The greatest explorer on this earth never takes voyages as long as those of the man who descends to the depth of his heart."

~Julien Green

24 August 2011

Zucchini Squashed, Tomato Hope- Garden Updates

Updates on my gardening hopes and dreams: Sometimes they fall hard.

~Zucchini squashed! I recently attempted to hand-pollinate zucchini blossoms after weeks and weeks of flowers with no veggies. My squash plant is now dead. I discovered it collapsed into a sad, droopy heap one morning. :(

~Tomato hope! The heirloom tomato plant that had grown super skinny and tall and was losing branches had a turn for the better! I noticed that the bottom of the plant began growing new branches a few weeks ago. I decided to give the top part of the plant a specified time to see if it would do the same. When it didn't, I sacrificed the few tomatoes growing there and lopped the whole, long, skinny part of the plant off at the base. The new branches are healthy and full and sprouting lots of blossoms (see photo below, tomato plant closest to camera)! We ended up letting the tomatoes ripen that were growing at the top of the plant before I pruned it, and they were delish! Hoping for more to come! :D

Our second tomato plant (toward back of picture below) has loads of fruit, and after our most recent fertilizing they look bigger and plumper than ever. Our first from this plant were also delicious!























~Green stuff! Our green beans and most of our herbs have continued to produce!

~New crops planted! The seedlings of our very first fall crops are growing: broccoli, spinach, lettuce & dill and cilantro. A hard downpour and hail damaged some of our spinach, but we still have some. The herbs have their first "true" leaves, and I thinned the lettuce and broccoli some just yesterday.





23 August 2011

Quote of the Week: The Miracle of Earth

"People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child – our own two eyes. All is a miracle."

~Thich Nhat Hanh

22 August 2011

Inspiration- Sewing & Thrifting Adventures to Follow

Three of my favorite things are creating, recycling/upcycling, and thrifting, so I get very excited about inspiring people who share their adventures doing these things on the Web. Here are two such people:

New Dress a Day (formerly 365 Dresses)

Follow thrifty fashionista, Marisa, as she takes used articles of clothing and recreates them into adorable, current fashion. This is the second year for her project, which began in 2009 as 365 Dresses (a project of revamping old 365 dresses that cost no more than $1 into stylish cuteness). She is spending another year shopping strictly flea markets and garage sales for wardrobe additions (not just dresses), all on a budget of $1 a day. It's so fun and inspiring to watch he journey! 365 days. 365 items of clothing. 365 dollars. This year, lots of Marisa's projects involve redoing garments people have sent her. And she actually shares the steps and how-tos of every project! :) I love looking through the before and after pictures!

All Thrifty States
Tag along with Jenna on a road trip through the United States as she seeks to learn about America's communities through what they used to own. "Part journalism, part photography, part cultural study, part art documentary project," Jenna is making a statement against consumerism and for thrifty, vintage, secondhand fashion while she explores our nation's thrift stores. Love this!

21 August 2011

Morning Walk, Forest Encounters

Hiked into Frick twice in the past week- I've been craving physical activity and sweating along with woodland peace. :) The Black-eyed Susans are everywhere, water is flowing, big and little butterflies are dancing together in whirls, tiny frogs are hopping. Didn't hear or see many birds, but the forest silence and gentle, rushing streams were blissful.

On one hike I took the trail along Nine Mile Run , something I rarely do because I get so sad about the garbage that builds up there. At one point last summer I was taking a bag there with me on hikes so I could carry some trash. When more and more kept appearing, I got discouraged and just quit walking there. I'm not sure if it's a monetary issue, a lack of volunteers or organization, or simply that the onslaught of garbage is too much for regular maintenance to take care of. The stream is unhealthy, which the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association says is typical of an urban stream. After all of the finances, time, and energy invested in restoring the aquatic ecosystem and the wildlife there (it really is remarkable to see the changes!), though, the stream continues to struggle with a human-caused blight. :( Looking into ways to help more. Until then, focusing on the beautiful along Nine Mile Run and in Frick Park!


Met a sweet little frog on my hike today! I asked if I could take her picture, and she said I could as long as I didn't reveal her true identity. I promised not to.




















17 August 2011

Quote of the Week: Live Out Loud

"If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud."

~Emile Zola

Just added this to my blog under the banner! I love this quote. Personally, I aspire to live a lot louder. It's a work in progress.

16 August 2011

Projects I'd love to Make: Awesome Ways to Salvage Earthy and Thrifty Finds

Sharing more amazing projects I would love to try my hand at! These three DIY ventures involve making found and thrifted objects into fantastic treasures!








15 August 2011

Drink the Wild Air: Zipline Adventure Through the Trees!

"Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air..."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson


For my birthday this year, we went on a trip to New River Gorge in West Virginia. Led by guides from their Tree Tops Canopy Tour, we traversed through the forest over tall tress and rushing waters along an elaborate and incredible system of ziplines and rope bridges! The environmentally-conscious zip line tour is a combination of short, steep hikes and ten ziplines, five skybridges, and one rappel. It was my first zipline adventure, and it was a-ma-zing!

A thought I remember having while flying through the forest sky was that the experience was far too thrilling and inexpressibly cool for my body to be so calm and my brain to be so orderly! A deep sense of peace and connection to life kept my heart strangely calm even as it and my spirit were dancing and laughing and screaming with joy. It was this strange combination of wanting to take all of it in and let it make an impression, breathless delight, and complete, logical serenity.

The question my friends and family asked me most about the trip is, "Were you scared?" Surprisingly (well, not to me), I was not! I was a bit nervous, but I found that volunteering to be the very first one to zip left no time for nervousness. haha! My only complaint, which isn't really a complaint so much as a desire for more, is that everything happened so quickly that there was barely a moment to let all of that EXPERIENCING absorb into your memory, experience, and system before it was over!

New River Gorge
also has an *upgraded* version of the Treetops Canopy Tour called the Gravity Zip Line Tour. Can't wait to sign up!

Check out my photos taken from the zip line platforms, as well as a video of T zipping and someone zipping across a line below the platform we were on (they were on a zip line slightly ahead of us on the course). Awesomeness!