A couple years ago, when I'd decided to ditch my Etsy vintage shop and focus exclusively on herbalism, I knew the first step in re-branding my online identity and giving myself focus for the vision I was creating for the future was getting a new logo. But I have zero graphic design experience, and felt overwhelmed by the number of designers out there.
So I was thrilled when, the minute I saw the Dream Inspired Design website, my heart said YES! It was an immediate resonance; I knew these women could create my perfect logo.
And they did. It was exactly what I wanted but even better; it gave perfect expression to my vision but added beautiful elements I hadn't thought of. I have sung the praises of Shelby and Ana, the women who run the company, ever since. Today, I'd like to share with you this video they just released (so fun seeing my logo floating among the many others they've designed in the middle of the honeycomb at the end).
If you are a business owner or creator of any kind seeking an earth-conscious company to help with web design, branding, and marketing, I cannot recommend Dream Inspired Design any more highly. My logo opened up a whole new world for me, and I know they can do the same for you.
Oh, and they're the babes behind my favorite Moon Calendar out there!
There will be two types of people reading this post- those who have never heard of the Spirit Weavers Gathering and those who have. Of those in the second group there will again be two types- those who have attended one or both of the gatherings that have happened so far and those who have not. And of those in the latter group there are again two types- those who want to attend in the future and those who still don’t quite know what to make of the whole thing.
Skulls at the Spirit Weavers Gathering
I know this because of my own experience of trying to figure out what this new cultural force was and because of the many conversations I had with women at the gathering who had undergone the same process. We talked about their initial reaction when they first heard about Spirit Weavers and about their process of figuring out what it meant to them, making peace with any confusion or insecurities they had lingering, and their final decision to get themselves there. (And I’m still being approached by women who weren’t there but who want to know just what it’s all about!)
What causes this confusion and soul-searching is the fact that the Spirit Weavers Gathering probably wouldn’t exist if not for social media and specifically the popularity of Instagram and the community that my friend Amy, Daughter of the Sun, has built up around herself there with her beautiful images and inspiring words.
Amy, as you may know, has already proven a controversial figure in the world of social media and viral internet sharing. A few years ago a photo that her partner spontaneously took of her naked in a headstand breastfeeding her daughter exploded across cyberspace and ended up on major media outlets. Most people reacted positively, finding inspiration in her natural lifestyle, beautiful family, and fearlessness in sharing herself so fully online. But some people reacted negatively, and her Instagram account was deleted without her knowledge and was never reactivated, despite a strong campaign launched on her behalf to get Instagram to restore her account to her.
Instead, Amy started a new account and quickly gathered all her old followers back plus thousands of new ones. This is despite the fact that a few days before the recent gathering Instagram once again deleted Amy’s account without warning her. She had learned her lesson the first time and there were zero controversial images posted- no breastfeeding, no naked baby beach butts, nothing. The #savedaughterofthesun campaign was relaunched and this time Instagram restored her account quickly and without incident. It turns out that one person had reported 12 of her images (again, none of which violated any guidelines) and Instagram automatically removed her account without looking into it.
So something interesting is happening here- people are strongly drawn to Amy and find inspiration in the way way she is living and sharing her life, and yet for others her words and images trigger some form of fear or jealousy or perhaps just misunderstanding. And this same strong but divergent reaction seems to surround the Spirit Weavers Gathering as well, which Amy conceived of and has organized and directed twice now.
I realize that some people may just want a reporting of the events and my experiences at the gathering (and there is plenty of that below), but I also realize I am in a unique position to write about the greater cultural meaning of it all as both an insider and an outsider and as someone who has had mixed feelings about the gathering in the past and has spoken with many other women who have too.
I recently listened to an episode of one of my favorite podcasts Stuff To Blow Your Mind entitled Future Shock, which discussed the 1970s book by the same name that attempted to describe what happens to us as we rapidly integrate changing technologies. Technologies which, as explained by Moore’s Law, are accelerating in an exponential growth explosion which causes us to be constantly playing catch up with what is changing around us.
I was fascinated by this idea, though I’ve heard it many times before, because I could see so clearly that this future shock is partly why I had a hard time understanding what the Spirit Weavers Gathering was all about at first. The questions that many of us had, when Amy and others first started posting on Instagram and Facebook about the first gathering in the fall of 2013, were along the lines of:
What exactly is this? Would this gathering exist if Instagram didn’t exist? How does an online community become a real life community? Is it just a bunch of internet posturing? Look how pretty I am in my tribal poncho with a rainbow star swirl overhead that I spent an hour perfecting with my image editing app? Is this true spirituality? What the hell is true spirituality? Am I spiritual; am I a spirit weaver? Is the confusion I’m feeling actually jealousy? Are these chicks for real? Why am I feeling a longing to be there? Could my life ever look like that? Do their lives really look like that?
I just want to state again that, yes, I had all of these thoughts and more, but that I have also spoken with dozens of women- in real life and online, some of whom have been to the gatherings and some who haven’t- who had the very same thoughts within themselves and conversations with their friends. I’m writing this for them and for all of you who haven’t yet expressed these thoughts, especially those who really do want to attend in the future but still can't quite put their finger on what's holding them back. Because I want you to go! Because it was one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life and I am so glad that I was able to work through my issues and get myself there!
(Although I couldn’t have gotten there on my own and I am eternally grateful to Amy for being so gracious and generous in getting me down there at the last minute, and to Tehya, who talked through all these issues with me well before I ever thought I’d actually go and who was my ride partner for 23 total hours in the car round trip from Nevada City!)
But back to those questions. Perhaps especially the last one. Yes, their lives really do look like that. The pictures may be enhanced with image editing apps, but those are real landscapes and real people in them, with real intentions and experiences behind their captions. But also no, their lives don’t really look like that. Or rather their lives do look like that, but they look like a lot more too. Their kids throw fits, they struggle financially to make the artistic ventures they share online maybe possibly support them someday, and they (as Tehya likes to point out) all poop.
I really struggled with the online personas we present, especially on Instagram, for a while there. The perfect selfie, posted after deleting the dozens that weren’t perfect, the editing with different retro looking or layering filters and/or sparkly rainbow additions, the gushingly flattering comments made on others’ photos. I watched as my Instagram community slowly incorporated more of these practices, and I was challenged by the feelings of disquiet I felt. And yet, I did it too. I had done it too. And I knew that. I had been sharing photos of myself through my various blogs and social media accounts online for years, and I definitely pick the best ones and delete the bad ones! And I had spent hours playing with different editing apps, and in fact doing so is one of my favorite creative expressions.
I’ve come to a place where I totally accept all of these practices as a part of the rapidly changing world we live in. Instagram is currently one of the strongest ways we connect with people, and more power to those users who are trying to share beauty and inspiration with their followers. I love your selfies if they also tell your story. I love your rainbow sparkles if they add beauty to my day. I love your gushingly sweet comments if they come from your heart and strengthen our bond.
I’d also like to examine the question of jealousy. I’m fascinated by how social media effects our daily lives, especially for women. I have watched and read every serious talk or article I could find about these topics, and have discussed them at length with my friends both in real life and online. As Parul Sehgal points out in her TEDtalk An Ode To Envy- jealousy is the currency of social media. We all post the highlight reel of our lives, leaving the moments of defeat and disappointment off of social media (for the most part). And it is so easy, especially for those of us who aren’t leading lives that are true to what we want and who we are, to feel quiet jealousy instead of happy inspiration when we see people who are. I wish that any person who is unhappy with their self and/or their life would see Amy’s or anyone else’s social media accounts and immediately feel inspired to start changing their life for the better, but for many people the opposite happens and a paralyzing sort of fear and negativity take over instead. I have been there myself.
For the women I spoke with at the gathering, many had to overcome the tendency toward jealousy-induced inertia and instead choose to be positively inspired by Daughter of the Sun and others and by the Spirit Weavers Gathering. Many had to dig deep and clear out old insecurities about their own imperfect lives in order to find the courage to attend the gathering. Many had to take Brené Brown’s priceless advice and let their vulnerability be their strength as they chose to enter into conscious community with a group of beautiful and powerful women, most of them heretofore strangers.
Marianne Williamson's famous quote comes to mind here. "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. As we are liberated rom our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." Many of us see others shining and immediately recoil (who am I to be?...). But many of us also recognize this impulse to hide and stay small, and work to consciously keep it at bay and to pursue relationships, work, and other activities that allow us to shine. I am grateful for Amy and countless other women who inspire me to own my power and step fully into my light.
I certainly experienced a few fleeting moments of insecurity at the gathering. It is so easy, thanks to that constant stream of everyone’s highlight reel rolling in at us on social media all the time, to assume that everyone else has their shit together. That we are the only woman in the room (or under the desert sky) with relationship issues, debt, parenting insecurities, cellulite, addictive behavior. At one point I found myself on a blanket at dusk with a woman I know who lives in another town and whom I haven’t seen in person in years, but have kept in touch with on Instagram. She opened up to me about recent unexpected and unwanted life changes, and when I responded with my own honest vulnerability about every way in which my life is challenging she said, “I thought your life was perfect!” I responded, “What? No! And I thought yours was!”
As women, we all have to realize that no other woman’s life is perfect, and that being honest and powerfully vulnerable with one another about the truth about our lives is the only way to forge genuine relationships that truly empower one another. I cannot recommend Brene Brown’s research about shame and vulnerability enough here. It completely changed the way I live my life, share myself, and relate with other women. I just cannot bring myself to only share the pretty stuff anymore and find that I talk about my struggles more freely now than I used to, both in person and on social media. I try to be direct and honest when I share my challenges and to ask clearly for help if that's what I am after. But usually it's just a chance to feel better by sharing, and to make others feel better by reflecting their own struggles back to them. I don't want to be pitied, but I don't want to be prettied either. Sometimes reality is not pretty.
Grounded in Joshua Tree
But sometimes it is! I really appreciate how stepping outside of everyday life and entering a liminal space like the Spirit Weavers Gathering- a temporary community occupying sacred land and created with the intention of elevating and empowering the people who enter it- challenges one to step into one’s highest vibration of being. You realize quickly that to give into the insecurities will be paralyzing and will stop the flow of abundant love and genuine connection coming at you from every direction. To choose anything less than bringing your truest, realest, most beautifully imperfect self forward in this setting is choosing to shut down to the full spectrum of experience available when so many come together with the purpose of learning and activating future growth.
The Sun Sets on the Spirit Weavers Gathering
“Activation” is the word I keep coming back to when reflecting on Spirit Weavers. There was something about that desert land, that group of women, and the intention we all had to learn from one another during our few days there that activated something deep within me, re-awakened tender and true parts of my soul essence and reminded me of the magic of the multiverse and of my own ability to create the life I want by following my heart’s deepest desires. I am willing to say that I am not the only woman at the gathering who experienced this same activation.
Below I share a few of my own photos, but mostly those of some of the many amazingly inspiring women I met at the gathering (or connected with on Instagram afterward)!
Alina, baby Vera, & Alela at the Spirit Weavers Gathering
I absolutely loved meeting new friends there, but I also cherished the time spent deepening connections with women I already knew. I must admit (along the lines of things discussed above), that I was relieved when Tehya first told me that Alela & Alina- friends from Nevada City who now live elsewhere- would be there because it meant I'd know more people than just her & Amy (both of whom would be very busy as teachers and organizers)! I commend the women who journeyed to the gathering on their own without knowing a soul there. It takes courage to show up alone without knowing anyone in any group of people, and I love that women who only have this kind of positive, empowering community on Instagram were able to establish some real life connections at the gathering.
Wild Fermentation, photo by Tracy
This photo is from Tracy of Prism of Threads, looking' sweet there in front in her rainbow poncho ;-) Front and center in the blue top is Mila, who taught a couple classes on Wild Fermentation. That's just-made ginger sauerkraut in those jars! I took this class also and am still enjoying my purple kraut. But I'll need to make more again very soon and am so grateful to Mila, with her never-ending smile and radiant warm kindness, for reminding me of how simple it really is to do, and how grounding of a practice it can be when done mindfully. And need I mention how the addition of rainbow sparkles made this photo that much better? Tracy is the queen of beautifully enhanced prismatic photos, as you might suspect from her shop name.
Crystal Castle, photo by Prism of Threads
Another one from Tracy, this one of the Cosmic Castle. This actually exists people. In the middle of the desert. God bless the dreamers and artists among us.
I do not know these ladies, but I was so taken with this photo while searching through the #spiritweaversgathering images on Instagram that I asked to post it here. Such beautiful women! So grounded and present and happy. And their clothing. Let's talk about clothing. I forget, living in Northern California, selling vintage for a living, traipsing around in folksy lace maxi dresses, that most people spend their lives clad in the mass manufactured drab garb that real jobs (damn them) and city living necessitate. Many women at the gathering talked about how fun and freeing it was to get to dress this way while they were there. Which makes me happy, but also sad that so many of us feel so constrained in our sartorial choices. I think that one of the most light-hearted and fun-filled ways that we women can empower ourselves is to dress with full creative expression- to feel like 100% ourselves in every outfit and to cast off the burden of thinking we "should" dress a certain way to please or appease others. I hope this weekend served as a catalyst for some women to begin doing just that.
Can't stop won't stop with the glowing, beautifully adorned, rainbow halo'd women! Here is Sarah, Angela, Paola, and Amy (Amy's also wearing a piece from me!). One of my favorite moments of the weekend was actually spent away from the gathering, when Tehya, her 6-year-old daughter Isa, and I journeyed to Angela's nearby desert dwelling to feed her cat during a brief trip to the town of Joshua Tree. We were feeling pretty grimy after a few days in the wilderness and took hose showers standing outside Angela's house under the wide desert sky. It felt amazing to be naked and cleansed surrounded by such a vast and beautiful landscape. Thanks for the water Angela! And endless, infinite, eternal thanks to Paola, who facilitated an absolutely sublime cacao ceremony, and to Sarah, who assisted her and served us all our sacred brew with such grace and beauty.
Cacao Ceremony with Paola, photo by eastmoondandelion
It was an honor and a truly transcendent experience to have sat in ceremony with these two women and all of the others in attendance inside this amazing yurt (which, like the Cosmic Castle, was preexisting on the land).
Another of my favorite classes was Erin of Active Culture Family's teachings on the Wise Woman Herbal Tradition. As with the fermentation class, it was such a lovely reminder about how simple and nourishing it is to take the time to care for ourselves and prepare plants in the tradition of generations of wise women (and men) before us. Erin is such a wise and grounded teacher and it was incredibly sweet to connect with Erin in real life after years of Instagram followings, and I will be forever grateful to her for suggesting that I connect with her friend Aemen Bell, an herbalist who had come from Woodstock, NY to teach classes on Herbs for Moontime. I never did get to take Aemen's class (which everyone said was amazing), but I sure did end up having many heart to hearts with her.
In fact, she was sitting next to me, hours after we met, as I sobbed my eyes out to Alela's musical performance on Saturday night. It was so unexpected but there was no fighting it, and I felt absolutely safe and understood in Aemen's presence. Alela's sweet baby Vera was asleep on my chest and I just had this crazy full circle moment where eight years of connections and interwoven loves and desires and dreams just came rushing at me- babies, motherhood, daughters, lovers, time and how it changes things. All connected to Alela and her songs and my past and her past and... it was very beautiful and healing. Aemen offered me a heart gem essence she had made and I took it readily, thinking it would slow my tears. Instead they increased! I love homemade medicines, especially ones that work on an energetic level, for their ability to provide exactly what is needed.
Aemen also provided what was probably my very favorite moment of the gathering, and was definitely the perfect ending as I was making my final goodbye round on Monday morning. The most oohed and aahed over piece on my trade blanket had been this dress:
Vintage Tribal Suede Crossback Dress
You can see why. I was smitten with it myself, and at least six women tried it on and said they might be back for it, but no one followed through. As I made my way up to Tracy & Tehya's vending space (where Tracy had been kind enough to let me stash my goods in case any last minute buyers materialized) to grab my bag before heading home, Aemen suddenly appeared in front of me wearing this dress! It looked incredible on her and was one of those moments where the perfect piece of vintage finds its perfect new owner. I live for these moments my friends, and after connecting with Aemen so deeply over the weekend I could not have been more thrilled to send this dress home with her (my only regret is not getting a photo of her in it!).
Tehya & Amber Warping the Loom at the Spirit Weavers Gathering
This photo of Tehya and I warping the earth loom was taken by Elena Ray. RAINBOW PONCHO.
In N' Out Burger
And this photo of Tehya and I was taken by me at In N Out on a busy Memorial Day as we left the desert to head back to the foothills. Yes, this is a purposeful juxtaposition of the pretty photos we post of ourselves versus the not-so-pretty real life occurrences that take up most of our lives.
Another juxtaposition. The same photo featured at the beginning and the ending of this post (differently edited to showcase the tweaking I've been writing about here) alongside another view of the In N Out insanity we experienced mere hours after leaving the gathering. The difference was startling! As was seeing my own face in the bathroom mirror after five days without looking into one- oh yeah, that's me! Sunburnt and with greasy hair, but so happy and elevated.
Speaking of rainbow ponchos and editing apps, I've been having fun playing with my Etsy photos since returning from the gathering.
Vintage Rainbow Poncho
...and enjoying using photos and even vintage pieces to tell stories. I named this cute 90s bell sleeve top A Mother's Prayer in honor of the mamas who were in the desert with their babes at the gathering, especially the two whose children got sick there and who had to dig deep into their maternal knowing in order to make the best choices for their child in those harsh conditions.
A Mother's Prayer
Because really, REALLY, if it's not about fun and telling our stories and layering beauty upon beauty and hoping to inspire others with what we share, then it isn't worth doing. And this gathering. and the way it has inspired my life since. was one of the most worthwhile things I have ever done.
It Wasn't All Just A Dream
I hope to see you there next year.
This humble little post represents about .05% of the true experience of being at Spirit Weavers. Please see the website for the full class offerings, and search hashtag #spiritweaversgathering on Instagram for hundreds more gorgeous images of that beautifully fleeting community under the desert stars.
Today is Violet Folklore's 5th anniversary! It was on September 19th, 2008 that Sasha and I, after weeks of talking about how we'd work it all out, plunged forward and set up our Etsy account. We had met at a local herb class the previous year; I remember noticing Sasha right away on the first day of class because of the beautiful prairie dress she was wearing. What a sweet sign of what was to come!
This was our first attempt at taking an Official Marketing Photo. It was a very serious endeavor. (And apparently we were twelve years old).
Sasha went on to found her own Etsy vintage shop called Astral Boutique. She has carried her wild-eyed, golden-hued, flowers-in-her-hair vision forward with her and has been very successful with her shop, even being Etsy's Featured Seller back in July! Sasha is responsible for many of the early photos featured below.
I thought I'd celebrate today by posting a retrospective of some of my favorite vintage pieces, shot on a dozen different cameras over the years in some of the most beautiful locations in and around Nevada City and worn by (almost) every model Violet Folklore has ever featured. **I have deleted tens of thousands of photos off my computer over the years, so I know there are a few girls missing from this post. I'm sorry ladies, and I love ye dearly and thank ye endlessly!**
Carabeth modeled the first piece we ever sold. We felt triumphant!
Sarah has been killing it with every pose all throughout these five years.
And Erin radiated her calm beauty out into the sunlit pines of the Sierra foothills...
I'll leave you with yet another early Official Marketing Photo attempt. I'm pretty sure we were going for a Lady Power! vibe with this shoot- you can use power tools, be a mother, and rock out all while wearing pretty vintage! And you know I've learned in these past five years- IT'S TRUE.
Hey every buddy. I have been taking quite a lengthy break from blogging while I focused on other projects this fall, but things are shifting and I am excited to get back to it. Starting nnnow!
I've been meaning for months to share the video above, which I took at Apple Hill this October as a sort of follow up to the video (below) first shared in this exciting pregnancy announcement post one year ago.
This was the first day Suuzi's boy Axel T and Heather's girl Lucinda Violet met one another. I assure you, it was love at first sight. Hand holding and all. (You can read Heather's take on this epic matchmaking here).
Talking to and bonding with another new mama is the best thing a new mama can do. Especially on a temperate autumn afternoon after enjoying a nice round of apple donuts (milk building food!).
I must admit I felt almost like a seasoned pro that day, being the mother of a six year old. Almost.
Isn't it just amazing and life affirming to watch your women friends blossom into beautiful and self assured mothers?
As the white ducks on the pond down the hill from the pumpkin patch reminded us on that sweet day- love reigns.
Two weeks ago I got together with three other mamas and their sweet babes to make some herbal bone broth. I was stoked to be invited, especially because our hostess was a local herbalist who is somewhat new in town and who I very much admire. I first met Anna last fall when I went into the newly opened herb shop HAALO in downtown Nevada City; I was going through a very difficult time and Anna hugged me, listened to me, and sent me home with exactly what I needed.
When my girlfriend Mackenzie and I showed up with Mycelia and her son Preston, we were greeted by Anna and her boys Cypress and Cosimo, our friend Carolyn and her girls Madalyn and Sophia, and a table full of medicinal plants! I had known that this gathering would produce some seriously healing broth, but I had no idea it would be this good.
Carolyn brought her own stash of dried herbs & roots to share, and set to work weighing out four equal portions of them (a perfect, relaxing job for a nursing mama) (who was, at times, nursing as she performed her task).
Sweet, sweet Sophia.
Mackenzie got to work chopping veggies to add to the stock.
And the bowls got fuller and fuller...
Anna had taken a walk around her yard that morning and collected mineral-rich medicinal weeds.
A true kitchen witch, she already had some dandelion vinegar on hand (you quite simply soak dandelions in vinegar). Adding vinegar is an essential part of the beginning stages of making stock, and now we had some added nutrients in ours! (Here's more on herbal vinegars).
Now for some scenes from around the house...
Anna's oldest son Cypress is a crazy amazing didgeridoo player, and is only 5!
More kitchen witchery... acorn meal that Anna gathered and powdered herself. She uses it in baking (after leeching the toxins, of course).
I absolutely loved the addition of turmeric to the broth. While I doubt I will ever get it together enough to make this exact broth again with all of these plants in it, I will never again make it without turmeric.
The final product. Carolyn and Anna are herbal goddesses for creating these medicine-rich bowls.
After soaking the bones in vinegar and cold water for an hour, we turned up the heat.
Mackenzie and I pour our medicine bowls into the hot, waiting water! The veggies went in too.
Aaand done! Well, for now.
Here is the recipe from Rosemary Gladstar's The Family Herbal which we loosely based our broth on. You can see the changes we made.
And then it was time for everyone to head on home and put their pots on their own stoves. I poured out half a gallon into a jar first, and ended up moving this pot to the back seat floorboard and having Mycelia keep her feet firmly on top of the lid. Luckily we live close by! And I drove verrry slowly...
Now I'm going to move onto some other kitchen activities and various tangents before showing how the broth turned out and what I've been doing with it.
So the morning after the broth party I received a phone call from Suuzi's sister Sasha (all the way from the Arctic Circle!) telling me that the baby had been born via emergency C-section due to a brow presentation. So I decided that I would strain the broth that day instead of waiting another day or two and bring some to her. The following photos were all taken that very busy day as I fretted about Suuzi, watched Mycelia do the raddest/funniest thing yet, and puttered around the kitchen for hours on end... (And let me say here that Suuzi and little Axel T are doing great!)
So for the last month or so Mycelia has been OBSESSED with listening to the Star Wars Theme Song. She asked me to play it over and over, and would just sit there and listen (she has been shown the movies elsewhere and apparently loves them). So on this day she was, yet again, listening to it when she suddenly popped up and ran into her room, yelling "Mom, where's my flute!?" I hadn't seen it since the move, and she didn't find it. Then later that afternoon our friend Poppy came over and somehow found the flute right away. Mycie walked out into the living room, put the flute to her lips, and busted out the Star Wars Theme Song! My jaw dropped. She had learned to play it just by listening.
So after serenading Poppy and I a few times she runs back into her room and I scurry back into the kitchen. Ten minutes later I go to check on the girls and find Mycie outside at the edge of our yard, now changed into her bikini, playing her flute and with A TIN BOX IN FRONT OF HER FOR DONATIONS.
Girl knows how to work it.
This quickly segued into her and Poppy (whose mother Nikiya is a partner at the just-opened, fabulous new shop Kitkitdizzi [featuring some of my vintage pieces! If you visit Nevada City you must go there!]) deciding to have "sale" in the front yard. Turns out these girls love modeling their mamas and playing Shop Keeper.
Poppy gathered flowers to sell, Mycie finger knit little bracelets, and they set this entire scene up themselves, including the little notebook in which to keep track of sales.
Except for the SALE sign, which I helped with.
Back to the kitchen stuff... I was sure to supply the girls with plenty of cooling herbal popsicles, as it was nearly 100 degrees outside that day. That morning I had made a simple peppermint tea, added a bit of honey once it had cooled to warm, and popped them in the freezer. Cooling, calming herbal popsicles with minimal sweetener are a summertime mama's best friend. "Why sure honey, you can have a 5th popsicle!".
Speaking of honey... So the girls were pretty aggressive out there hustlin' to make a buck (they said "We both have money, but we both want more money!"). They called out to every car and person who passed by. At one point a car pulled up across the street and they asked if he wanted to buy anything. He said no thanks, and Mycie said "You can have something for free since you're so close" (little local's discount, I suppose), and he kindly replied "I don't think you're going to make much money that way". Then I watched through our screen door as he walked through their back gate and donned a beekeeper's outfit. Hm. I went outside and the girls were upset that he had told them they wouldn't make money. I assured them that he meant that they wouldn't make money by giving things away for free. Then we had a little talk about how people aren't always going to want to buy your wares, with me supplying stories from my own life and whatnot. A few minutes later the beekeeper emerged and walked across the street with a honeycomb just dripping with sweetness to give to the girls. They were floored, and we talked afterward about how working hard and being friendly to people, while not necessarily guaranteed to translate into sales, can have other positive outcomes.
The kale I photographed in order to brag about my new method of chopping up veggies as soon as I get them home from the store in order to have them readily available when cooking time comes! I can't believe I hadn't done it before...
Duck eggs. Try them. So much better than chicken eggs. Bigger. And oranger. And richer. And yummier.
Top of the toaster oven.
Top of the fridge secret chocolate stash.
Daily embellishments. Oh and let me take this opportunity to say that the key to good broth, after it is strained and stored and now ready to be drunk or added to food, is salt. Copious amounts of salt. It brings out the flavor and makes it infinitely more palatable. Good, mineral rich salt, of course. No NACL table salt, please. In the clear jar there is a combo of nutritional yeast and dulse flakes.
I am getting damn serious about probiotics lately. I have known for years about how important healthy microflora is for the gut and the entire body, but I have listened to a series of podcasts lately that really drove the point home. The sum total of the bacteria in your body weighs 2-5 pounds, and some biologists are now referring to it as an organ unto itself (though found in different areas of the body). Your gut health has everything to do with your immunity AND with your happiness!! Please take a moment to, uh, digest that fact. THERE IS A DIRECT CORRELATION BETWEEN YOUR INTESTINAL HEALTH AND YOUR MENTAL HEALTH. Listen to these Dr. Mercola interviews with Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride to learn more about Gut And Psychology Syndrome (GAPS). Listen to this podcast from Stuff To Blow Your Mind to Meet Your Bacterial Masters. And listen to this amazing Radiolab episode to better understand your Guts. I am enamored of the Human Microbiome Project right now, which is modeled after the Human Genome project and seeks to discover and understand the seemingly endless number of bacterial species with which we coexist. I plan to order Wild Fermentation soon and start making my own sauerkraut and who knows what else come cooler weather.
Now for some random kitchen shots...
My cast iron pans are my sweet beloveds. I "season" them with bacon grease after every use. I've had this mushroom wall hanging for my entire adult life. 70s mushroom decor is all up in this kitchen!
(Mycie commissioned Adam to draw this picture of Brett Shady, his best friend and the author of one of her- and my- favorite songs).
Okay now back to the broth. Here is what it looked like that afternoon when I strained it out after 24 hours of simmering. So deep and dark and delicious. As I said, I had been planning on simmering it for 2 or 3 days, but wanted to bring some broth to Suuzi as soon as possible.
But after seeing how much marrow was still left in these beautiful bones, and smelling that the plant matter was still viable and flavorfull, I decided to re-fill the pot and make a second batch. I was sure this was okay to do, though I had never heard of it, and did confirm that this was common practice later that night while watching this video. If you know nothing about bone broth and the many, many reasons why it's good for you (let me just say right now that it's the most nutrient-dense food you can eat, that every documented indigenous human culture made/makes it, and that it can actually get rid of cellulite), and/or if you just like it when people who you would stereotype right away as being into or not into something based on their appearance totally surprise you, watch it:
Brandon mentions Weston A. Price in this video; the article Broth Is Beautiful, found at the WAPFoundation website, is full of good information and recipes.
So two days later I strained out the second batch and placed them side by side. Apparently some people use the first batch for certain cooking projects, and the second, lighter batch for others. Folks also tend to skim the fat off the top and save it for cooking. I just combined all of it though- first batch, second batch, and fat (you do know that good fat is good for you, right?), and froze it for later use.
Here is the almost 3 gallons of broth I got, sitting in front of the 5 gallons of St. John's Wort Oil that was just strained out yesterday and will be available very soon! And yes, I will keep my promise to post a blog about that whole process too :-)
The vegetable matter after 3 days of cooking, still looking vibrant and smelling delicious.
As I said, I froze the broth, and I have been pulling about a half gallon at a time out to defrost. I'm trying to have some broth every day (as well as sharing it with friends who are recovering from illness or surgery!). This simple soup has been on the table a lot lately- broth, this miso, chopped kale (see above!), and avocado. IT'S SO GOOD. And easy. Avocado on soup is amazing. Thanks for teaching me that one, Mom.
Last night I made Adam's favorite- Sausage Risotto. Mycelia loved it too. I used this recipe, along with some risotto making tips gleaned from the Alice Waters book linked to above. Risotto making is reason enough to learn how to make bone broth; it adds such a creamy richness to the dish. I once tried to make risotto with a store-bought broth. No good.
While it's been an extremely busy summer, it's been so nice settling into our home with Adam. For the first time in a year, I'm rooted. And when a person is rooted, a person can blossom. Exploring new foods, information, and techniques in the kitchen has been one of the most fulfilling parts of my new life here. I look forward to continued exploration and to trying my darndest to find the time to share it with you all ;-)