Monday, October 29, 2007


A couple years ago, I made these beaded circles while staying with some creative friends. I made the little faces out of clay, using a push mold, then painted them with Lumiere and added some mica powder. Then, I beaded the faces as cabochons and added swirls and such. The circles had been lying around, waiting for me to come up with a way to use them. Over the weekend, I was playing with this great green spiral fabric (my favorite fabric ever) and was doing some free-form piecing. I got out the circles and it worked perfectly in the overall design. The pink "dots" are sequins that I embroidered in a shisha style. I've done this with pennies as well. I free motion quilted and added more beads, rose montees and the word, "Transmogrify".

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


It is a glorious autumn day today and my monkshood (Aconitum) is blooming quite nicely. If you look at an individual flower, you can see how it does look like a medieval monk's hood. Caution: monkshood is poisonous! It's also known as wolfsbane. Legend has it that wolfsbane was added to ground meat and thrown as bait to kill wolves. Must be how it got the reputation for keeping werewolves away as well. From Rodale's: "Greek legend says that aconite grew on the hill of Aconitus where Herecules fought with Cerebus (the three-headed dog that guards the entrance of Hades) and from this raging dog's mouths fell foam and saliva onto aconite, giving this plant its deadly poison."

Monday, October 15, 2007

Beaded Pendant and Found Treasures

Last Friday was a cold, windy, rainy day. Time for another beaded project! So, I got out the Aug/Sep issue of Beadwork magazine and did the project on page 40. I changed the pearl color from bronze to burgundy. It was quick, simple and lovely! I wore it out Saturday for my birthday trip. We leaf peeped, antiqued, shopped (bead stores and health food stores) and ate at a great Greek restaurant. A really fabulous day.
Here are two of my finds:
The first is an antique chenille embroidery on a light blue velvet. The goldenrod and daisies are very well done. Note the thermometer on the left! This is circa 1900, possibly 1880s.

The small box is an herbal remedy of mullein leaves. This is circa first decade of the 1900s. Wonderful that I grow and use mullein still, 100 years later.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

recipe for Pumpkin Chiffon Cake

The Essential Herbal list was talking about pumpkins and recipes today. First, let me tell you a pumpkin story about when I was growing up. My brother, Rod, was nine years older than me. He doted on me and I adored him. I believed what he told me...the gospel according to Rod. One Halloween when I had just turned 6 and he had just turned 15, he was in charge of carving pumpkins for the younger kids (me, my younger sister and younger brother). Of course the first step in getting a pumpkin ready for carving is to cut the top and scoop out the innards. Rod made a big production out of the situation and we young 'uns were thrilled. The first scoop of pumpkin goop came out amidst squeals of "Ewwwww" from us. The second scoop came out and lo and behold there was a Snickers candy bar amid the pumpkin seeds and stringy orange slop! Our eyes got as big as dinner plates. Wow! Another scoop into the pumpkin and wouldn't you know, ANOTHER candy bar appeared. We were clapping and wondering how candy bars ended up INSIDE the pumpkin. Rod smiled and said, "Must be the Great Pumpkin knew you three had been good this year."

Pumpkin Chiffon Cake
2 cups cake flour
1 ½ cups sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
½ tsp ground cloves
½ cup vegetable oil
8 egg yolks
½ cup water
¾ cup canned or freshly cooked and mashed pumpkin
½ tsp cream of tartar
8 egg whites

Sift all dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl

Make a deep well in the center. Add, in order, oil, egg yolks, water and
pumpkin. Beat until satiny smooth.

Add the cream of tartar to the egg whites. Beat until very stiff, but not

Pour the pumpkin mixture in a thin stream over the egg whites; then gently
fold into the whites with a spatula.

Bake in an ungreased cake pan 55 minutes at 325. Then, increase heat to 350
and bake 10 more minutes.

Let cool and use the following cream cheese recipe for frosting.

4 Tbsp butter, softened
3 oz cream cheese, softened
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Beat together until fluffy and smooth. Frost cake.

Beaded Paisley or What I Do on Rainy Days

A friend, Margaret, and I have decided to stitch paisleys. We start with the same design and then we can use any surface design we desire. We keep it to ourselves until we are done. I got the line drawing for this paisley from Sharon Boggon's fabulous website, Go visit her site for embroidery inspiration! I decided to bead this paisley. I started off with the large oval rivoli in the center and used size 15 seed beads to form the frame around the crystal. Then, I added the crystal marguerites (given to me by Margaret!) Next came the seed beads and sequins. Then the leaves are done in small bugle beads for the stems and seed beads. The small paisley at the tip is outlined with size 11 and 15 seed beads. Then, some vintage crystals that Margaret found at Nicholas Kniel's fabulous ribbon shop in Atlanta. I'm pretty pleased with it! I'll post Margaret's work when she has finished.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Inconsequential assignment

Tina, from The Essential Herbal magazine, challenged bloggers to go outside and find something "inconsequential" to blog about. I grabbed my digital camera and wandered into the garden. I spied (with my little eye) butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) setting seed. You can see that it is in the milkweed family by its seedpods. Butterfly weed (not to be confused with butterfly bush) is also known as pleurisy root as the root is used to treat, you guessed it, pleurisy. The pleura is the membranous lining around the lungs and pleurisy is inflammation of the pleura.

Back to the seed pods...I had gathered some a few days ago and had set them aside to let them dry completely. Then came the task of separating the fluffy bit from the seed. As a child, whenever I saw a milkweed seed fluff in the air, I always exclaimed, "Fairies!" and ran to catch one. If I did catch one, I would close my eyes and make a wish. Then, with a gentle breath, I would blow the seed from my hand and if it got carried on the breeze, the wish was taken to the fairy queen to be granted. Fast forward a few decades and here I am separating the fluff from seed, putting fluff in one pile and the seeds in a bowl. An errant whisper of air manifested and raised all the fluff in a spiral of dancing fairies. How delightful! Enough fluff to grant many wishes! But as I am so blessed with many granted wishes in my life, these fairies are not for me, but are to float along on the currents, perhaps floating into your garden, ready for your wish. So get out into the autumn air, inhale deeply and keep your eyes to the that a fairy you spy with your little eye? Best wishes!!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Bead Necklace

I asked glass artist, Maryanne Schwartz, from to make me one of her amazing vessels and, oh, by the way, could she incorporate our logo of a spiral in there somewhere? No problem was her valiant reply! I got the vessel in the mail and was thrilled. I've spent the last two days beading the "straps" for it so I can wear it as a necklace. Now, to fill it with a few secret herbs!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

October's Bright Blue Weather

We have been having a streak of gorgeous weather. Ah, autumn. It calls to mind one of my favorite poems by Helen Hunt Jackson, "October's Bright Blue Weather".
O suns and skies and clouds of June,
And flowers of June together,
Ye cannot rival for one hour
October's bright blue weather,
When all the lovely wayside things
Their white-winged seeds are sowing,
And in the fields, still green and fair,
Later aftermaths are growing;
When springs run low and on the brooks,
In the golden freighting,
Bright leaves sink noislessly in the bush
Of woods, for winter waiting;
When comrades seek sweet country haunts,
By twos and twos together,
And count like misers hour by hour,
October's bright blue weather,
O suns of skies and flowers of June,
Count all your boasts together,
Love loveth best of all the year
October's bright blue weather.

And October's birth flower is the pot marigold, or calendula. Not to be confused by other marigolds which are common in gardens, calendula is a venerable herb. It's orange or yellow petals are edible (which is why it was called pot marigold - throw the petals into the cooking pot). The color lets you know calendula is high in flavonoids. A tea of the petals can be drunk to help inflammation of the digestive tract. Externally, calendula makes an excellent remedy for skin inflammation. I make an infused calendula oil and a wonderful salve (Healing Comfort) that has both calendula and comfrey in it. One of the best things I have ever tried for soothing rough, irritated skin on hands, heels or knees. I garden and stitch with silk. If I didn't have this salve, I would not be able to stitch as the silk thread catches on any skin that isn't as smooth as, well, silk. My husband uses Healing Comfort salve to repair his hands as he must wash his hands often with a harsh soap at work. A dear friend used this salve during her chemo treatments. Her feet were swollen and sore and this is the only thing that worked for her. My brother used it on his radiation scars to excellent effect. It is a good thing. Calendula is easy to grow too. The large seeds germinate quickly in the spring. It's an annual, but one that self-sows quite readily. Calendula is 2008's Herb of the Year. I encourage you to grow and know calendula!

To order Healing Comfort Salve go to and click on the shopping link.