Wednesday, June 30, 2010
I travelled the length of the sidewalk, twice. Nowhere could I see a plant growing in the grass alongside that fit my mother’s description; round-ish leaves with a pink flower. I walked back to the car with two pitiful examples of wildflower, even though I knew those weren’t the ones she had described. She remembered it growing right there about fifteen years ago, walking past it many times with her good friend as they went to the Op shop at a church. But the mixed grasses from back then had turned into a neatly trimmed lawn now and the Common Mallow does not hold up to repeated mowing. Needless to say, she was disappointed.
I can’t remember exactly how our wildflower safari began but there was a conversation one day where she started talking about a plant that my paternal grandmother (her mother-in-law) would use to make a mixture in case anyone would fall ill. The plant would be hung by the roots to dry, then boiled with “whatever fruits you had on hand”, strained, and the liquid saved. The flowers were small and pink, the leaves were round. That was the only description she could give me. So after my failed attempt to locate this plant we went to the town library, where we could not find a picture that resembled the plant she was looking for.
A few days later I borrowed three books from another library and left them with her, to browse through at her leisure. When I called her afterwards, she happily spelled out the name so I could check it on the internet. The Common Mallow (known as “Cheeses”) was brought to the U.S. by European immigrants, which is probably why my Italian grandmother was familiar with it. It was valuable enough to her that it had a spot in her garden. The information in the book stated its use for stomach disorders, but my mother remembers it being used for colds. None the less, we had verified a piece of her history.
Now we need to find a specimen. This is proving to be difficult, since the old neighborhoods are either (a) built up and paved over, or (b) un-walkable, as in heavily trafficked road. Over the next two weeks we’ll be out there, looking.
She has remembered a few other bits, too, which we are working on. Those will come later, when our homework is complete.
Note 1: This information is for entertainment only, and is by no means an endorsement of homemade medicine. Do not ingest any plant unless you are absolutely sure it is harmless.
Note 2: These are the books that I borrowed. They have wonderful information about the uses of wild plants by early Native Americans. I firmly believe that the Earth and Nature was designed to take care of us and that the folks who lived here before us knew the properties of these plants, a knowledge that is very quickly being lost.
Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants and Herbs by Steven Foster and James A. Duke
Field Guide to Medicinal Wild Plants by Bradford Angier
Foraging New England by Tom Seymour
Have a wonderful day and, if you have a chance, learn something new!
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Due to a Mediterranean heredity and a job that keeps me glued to a computer screen, causing what we used to call “secretary’s spread”, I cannot wear the pencil or slim skirts that are currently on the racks. I’ve learned that what the stores are calling “A-line” is what I call a “straight” skirt. So for the last two and a half years working for my employer I’ve worn slacks. Nice, neat, women’s slacks and business blouses or sweaters, and sometimes a jacket or blazer.
Several times last winter I thumbed through my selection of old sewing patterns, wishing I could pull a few dresses like these off the store racks and whisk them into the fitting room. But it wasn’t until early this spring when a few co-workers were talking that an idea went off in my mind. These ladies were commenting on the dress worn by one of them, a wrap dress, as if it was a new style. My heavens, Diane brought those into mainstream work life in the early seventies, to the adoration of millions of working women. I owned a few back then. I have a few wrap dress patterns. If they’re acceptable now, why not whip up one or two? Hmmmm.
For the past few weeks I’ve been going through the patterns again and again. I’ve decided to re-create a few of the older styles, for comfort and presentability. And yes, for the Fall I will even make some heavier weight A-line skirts, the staple of a working woman’s wardrobe in the late 60’s.
I’d like to share my first Self-Stitched September attempted creation (not that anticipated wrap dress….yet.) It started out as a bright thrifted floral summer dress. By taking it apart at the seams and using an old pattern (adjusted for size), I was able to make a bright new floral summer dress.
I used this pattern:
The cropped sleeves on the original dress did not have enough material to make the sleeve in the dress pattern, so I intentionally made them short and edged them with self-made white piping. This is the original “scallop” shape to the sleeve:
There weren’t any large pieces of leftover fabric so I stitched together some scraps to make the neck facings. After all, making-do has been a women’s secret tool since time began ;) My cost for the dress was just over two dollars. I even re-used the original zipper.
Are there things I should have improved on? Oh, yeah! This is the first zipper I’ve sewn in YEARS. I simply stitched it down on the basted seam. Next time I’ll do it the proper way, with one lapped side. And I’ll take the time to carefully ease in the sleeves.
Am I happy with it? Yes. It will be a bright addition to my July and August work wear. And I’ll definitely wear it once during September. Modelling photos then, promise ;)
Now I’ve got a lightweight knit in the works. Part thrifted, part new material, and another vintage pattern. And sometime later on, that wrap.
P.S. On the record player during my stitchin' time this week: The Glenn Miller Carnegie Hall Concert album. Ah, trombones....
Have an awesome day!
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Over the past two years there have been occasional reports about radiation from cell phones causing brain tumors, but no one is yelling loud enough for us to listen.....yet. By FCC regulation, only cell phones whose tested SAR (specific absorption rate) is less than 1.6 Watts per kilogram can be sold in the United States. Manufacturers use this test for their phone models to show compliance with this regulation. However, studies to date have been contradictory in their results as to the possible dangers of tumors from cell phone radiation. Is the public talking and texting, blindly uninformed?
Today, the first thing I read online was this OpEd piece in the NYTimes. To the dismay of major cell phone manufacturers, San Francisco has passed legislation requiring them to post SAR levels from cell phones. Mayor Newsom fought for this bill despite argument from telecommunications lobbyists and the loss of the Wireless Association convention from his city after this year’s event, which will be financially harmful to San Francisco. It would be ideal if our Federal government would step in and make this a national requirement, in support of San Francisco’s decision and to help protect the health of our citizens.
The Environmental Workers Group website lists the SAR output from a vast array of cell and smart phones, along with suggestions for limiting your risk of exposure. I found it interesting that making phone calls from areas with low connectivity is more dangerous since the phone has to “work harder”, emitting more SAR. Also eye opening is that soft tissue absorbs radiation, so keeping it in your pocket or attached to your belt is possibly dangerous. The FCC website has links to several manufacturers’ sites so you can look up your model.
I was able to find my phone on the Verizon Wireless website. It’s not one of the best, or the worst. But I’m questioning my safety. I’m headed to the Vz store today to buy an earpiece. It seems that either corded or Bluetooth-style still carries some risk of exposure and the decision is still out as to which is safer, but I’m going with the belief that it’s better than nothing. And I will no longer carry my phone in my pocket when cycling. It’s going in a pack on the bike.
All this makes me wish I had more carefully read a report I skimmed last week regarding the potential dangers of computers, especially laptops that are balanced on our laps.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
That's one of my favorite sayings. And it was more than accurate this afternoon, when the hot summer sky darkened and wind turned violent in southern New England. We watched from inside the office while trees whipped wildly and rain blew against the windows. Luckily, our power only flickered on and off a few times.
While we sat snug and safe at our desks, a tractor trailer was flipped on the interstate and a small plane tipped at a nearby airport. Five houses in the southern end of the city were demolished and several damaged severely. The mayor put a curfew into effect tonight, in the interest of safety.
Just as quickly as the weather came in, it moved on, leaving behind mess and destruction.
Then the sun came out.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Please excuse the "blogging lite" around here lately. I've got a lot going on.
I'm working on a project and hope to post about it this weekend.
I'm also doing some research on wildflowers and foraging. Got some interesting stuff!
My bike riding buddy from work had a tougher operation than expected and her recouperation is difficult. She has been home for a while but I'm going to wait until next week to visit her. Even transitioning from sitting to lying down is painful. So phone calls will have to do for now.
The fan is buzzing. The ice in my waterglass is melting. The ballgame is about to start on the radio. Hot fun in the summertime!
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Sunday, June 20, 2010
The ride starts out on Main Street, a short strip of small shops and Ace Hardware. (So nice to see Ace and not a big, box hardware store. I felt as if I could walk in and ask for help. Too bad I didn’t need anything!) The demeanor of the road quickly changed as I drove past the church and into residential heavens. Oh. My. Goodness. Almost every house in this stretch has waterfront property, and the ones who don’t still have fantastic views. The larger houses have beautiful landscaping, and even the smaller ones look cute. I’d be happy to live in some of these folk’s garages or outbuildings!
The clearly marked path winds around through a few neighborhoods and wanders down to the sea. I had forgotten about riding into the ocean wind, and the workout it creates. But worth every minute of it! There was even a small causeway to cross (just like the bikeway on Lake Champlain).
Okay. The book said that the terrain was flat for this ride, and they were spot on. By the time I had completed the ride I felt like I had only ridden half of the stated 12 miles, so I took a mini loop through the first section and added about another 2 to 3 miles. I pedaled back to the car, finished my muffin, and turned west.
Looking back, my only regret is not riding the complete course a second time. Then I could have had lunch at the Paperback Café, enjoying the live jazz from 11:00 to 2:00. That’s a definite for next time.
Why only 4 1/2 stars and not 5? The beaches are all private/residents only. It would be nice to have open space for the bikers/runners.
Hope your weekend was filled with good things!
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Here's hoping your weekend is filled with fun and interesting things! Enjoy!
Friday, June 18, 2010
My One Small Change status is the same as it was for May. I have been plateau’d for the past few weeks, which I feel is a sign of my need to regroup and decide where my focus needs to be. All indications point toward my clothes closet and food preparation/storage.
As a working person who needs to dress in office attire and current said attire is beginning to show signs of distress from age and wear, I will be replacing my working wardrobe over the summer. There is very little I purchase “new”, basically socks, underwear, and shoes. During this spending splurge I will still be buying secondhand, however I will be refashioning these items to suit my needs. The stimulus for this is my having joined “Self-Stitched September”, an online challenge created by Zoe. I find that I push myself when involved in a group project, and this one will have me sewing over the summer to accomplish 30+ items of clothing to greet the fall. I believe that the two challenges will work well together.
The greater difficulty lies in the food storage and preparation area. The lack of community garden space here leaves me with little opportunity to grow abundant crops. My container garden is for immediate use and cannot support long term supplies. (Oh, how I miss my gardens of the past, turning over the dirt and making mounded planting beds, and creating supper from fresh picked veggies…..) This leads me to focusing on food preservation as a goal. My choices are freezing, canning, drying, and fermenting. Having only the freezer portion of a standard refrigerator, I am limited and choose to freeze summer berries and vegetables for enjoyment when they are out of season. I can by water bath, which means only tomatoes or pickled varieties. I do not wish to purchase a dehydrator now and cannot leave trays outside (condo rules). So my chosen field of experimentation will be fermentation. With the opening of the farmers markets and the growth during the summer season, I can now crack open my books and find a few good-sized crocks or jars. I’ll be posting about this next week, and asking for help from you experienced picklers out there.
The second experiment in my kitchen lab will be creating a “starter” for bread baking. I have been making my own bread for several weeks now, and would like to progress from opening a packet of yeast to reaching in the fridge to find that little jar of gaseous life. Keeping a living culture should be more difficult than owning a cat but easier than a pet rock. Right?
Other than that, I still use a drying rack for most of my laundry since line-drying is not possible in the condo.
I use a power strip on everything except the stove and fridge.
Heat is kept low in winter and summer air conditioning is only for extremely hot days.
The coffee maker is still packed away – cold brewing is my way of life now.
I’m still making my own bread, pasta, granola, and crackers.
TV is a thing of the past. The birds and the radio are my chosen background sounds.
I politely refuse plastic bags at checkouts whenever possible, and carry cloth produce and grocery bags.
I spend more time at the library than the mall. :)
A few items have been Freecycled this spring to keep them out of the landfill.
Whole Foods now has a bin for recycling #5 plastic, so I bring my yogurt and similar containers there.
I still only eat beef, pork, and chicken on occasion, preferring grains, legumes, and fish.
Last year I signed up for the reduction of junk mail, which works fairly well. Somehow, local businesses sneak there oversized laminated postcards through.
But you wouldn’t know all that if you passed me on the street.
Have a wonderful summer weekend!
Thursday, June 17, 2010
It appears that this tree, which makes a lovely display in the late spring
forms these odd-looking edible fruit in the late summer and fall. And folks have made jelly from these fruits.
Second photo from this website:
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
There have been blossoms, but no pollination. I haven't seen a bee around here since early spring!
The onion sets have done well in producing scallion greens. I cut some for stir frys often.
The herbs seemed to need the hot weather to get going. They don't do as well in containers as they would in the open ground, but I will have pesto and dilled potatoes!
Speaking of potatoes......the exposed plant is very healthy! I can't wait to see what's underneath!
Monday, June 14, 2010
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Friday, June 11, 2010
I picked up a little record player at the Goodwill for five dollars. It's just a tiny thing, and the sound isn't the greatest. But it works just fine. Then I went to look for a few old jazz and big band era records. The type of music that sounds good on a late October Sunday, when the world slows down and the roast is in the oven. Something from Fats Waller or Artie Shaw. What I found is quite the opposite. Obviously, someone my own age had divested their long-cherished records from their teen years, making available to me the likes of Jethro Tull, the Moody Blues, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, and Joni Mitchell. So the tunes wafting through my rooms lately have been the same ones that played on Friday nights while I completed my homework before diving into the weekend. It's fun, having those songs playing in the background while I'm baking bread or scrubbing the kitchen. And it's surprising that I can still sing along, the words coming back to me like they had neer left. Did my mother fret about this music of my generation as I did about that of my children's? Listening to it now, it still seems harmless.
I still want to find that Sunday morning music. I want to hear Mildred Bailey singing "I Thought About You" and some swing from the Tommy Dorsey band. I'll keep looking. At fifty cents per album, it's affordable. And I can re-donate any albums I don't enjoy, so that someone else can try them. I may even look for an old copy of .......
How about you? What do you listen to when you want to breeze through deep cleaning? Do you have a collection of CD's, or do you download the songs for workouts? What will you be listening to this weekend?
Thursday, June 10, 2010
This is one of those times when we think about all our petty complaints, and how lucky we really are. "If you've got your health, you've got everything." Remember that one? It's true. Yes, it rained and you forgot your umbrella. Or you paid for a dozen eggs, but the clerk forgot to put them in your grocery bag and they were left at the store. Is it really that bad?
We would ride on smaller loops of 5 miles or so, and we'd talk more than ride. She's hopeful to be back in the saddle in late summer or early fall. September in New England is beautiful on a bike. The recovery period will keep her setting still for a while and I'm sure she'll have trouble with that, but she'll probably have a good tan this year ;) I'm keeping my fingers crossed for her, and for the good Doc who will be working on her.
Enjoy your day, and remember to count your blessings.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
While looking through patterns for some Self-Stitched-September ideas, I came across this one. The lines on the jacket are similar to the blouse I desire so much. So I did a little rummaging.
And found a 1970 era polyester knit blouse. It even has the zipper like the sport top does.
I also came across 2 very lightweight men's sport shirts. I could use one of these and save the second for another day.
So I played with the pattern and the fabric. For one night my table was in a state of organized chaos. I poured out two cups of tea that both went cold.
Taa daa!!! Today's finished results. (I'm so proud!) It's slightly big, but that's okay. It will be comfortable when moving. And I'll look so cool wheeling around :)
Someday I'll be ordering all the neat stuff in that catalog, but for now I'll settle for a quick self-stitched imitation. The two tops that I used for this cost a total of approximately $2.50, and I didn't even have to purchase a zipper. I've got a few more vintage jersey knits that I can restyle once I figure out what I need them to be. Gotta dance! Gotta play!
Whatever you do, make sure to have fun, folks!
Monday, June 7, 2010
Aside from the birds, squirrels, and chipmunks, I wonder what else abides in these woods.....
It's a small local treasure. A piece of Nature, uninterrupted, almost.......
Have a wonderful Monday!
Sunday, June 6, 2010
At the larger store, there was nothing I *needed*. I picked out a pattern for a different style of top for biking. (I love, love, love the first one I made and have worn and washed it for every ride!) The large selection of furniture wasn't interesting. It will sell quickly, as soon as the college students are back to get their rentals furnished. The dishes and kitchenware were nice, but nothing I wanted. So I paid for my pattern and went to another shop, much smaller, much more overflowing, and much more interesting.
I started slowly in the front and worked my way to the back. Nothing, nothing, nothing, ….what’s this? I recognize her! I had one of these dolls when I was small. It’s Tammy. She was made as an alternative to Barbie, less developed, more realistic. She couldn’t wear Barbie’s clothes or compete with the advertising blitz that Mattel gave to their star so she didn’t last very long. Well, that’s okay….she’s coming home with me. I took her to the front of the store and asked the clerk what he would price her at. He looked her over and gave me a good price. Then he asked if I was interested in the two dolls in the case by the register. As I looked over there, I caught my breath. There were two of the Barbie dolls I owned 50 years ago, Midge, and blonde Barbie with the bubble cut hairstyle! Acting nonchalant, I asked to see them. After seeing the name marked on their derrieres, the clerk commented that they look nothing like their current day sisters and that their extremities had discolored over the years. I noted that their legs curved to the side, as if they had been stored in a very hot attic all these years. He offered all three dolls at a reasonable price. So yes, there were three very naked dolls in a cloth bag in the back of my car for the long weekend. Now I need to find out how to clean them without doing any damage, which means no bleach or cleansers. But that dirt and those stains have been there a long time….. The nice part is that none of them have had their fingers chewed, and the quality of the hairstyles on both dolls are quite good.
Friday, June 4, 2010
You may have noticed - I've added a new button to my sidebar for Self-Stitched-September. It turns out that a lot of folks are having fun by stitching together their own clothing! Imagine that! What will they do next?
This is all happening over at Zoe's blog. They had a flickr group for their creations during Me-Made-May, and there are some really good stitchers out there! Since I've been itching to get stitching I jumped at the chance to join their fall challenge, and took the pledge:
'I, 4BushelFarmgal, sign up as a participant of Self-Stitched-September. I endeavour to wear at least one article handmade and/or refashioned item(s) of clothing every day for the duration of September 2010'.
Now, I surely couldn't wear my one bike top for the whole 30 days of September, so I'd better get the dust off my sewing machine (or is that pollen?) I have a few patterns (ahem, a few boxes of patterns!) and a potentially steady supply of repurpose-able fabric from the Goodwill. My goal is to refashion most of the items I'll be making from clothing found at secondhand stores. But I might have to add in some pieces from newly purchased material (gasp!) My fall and winter clothes have seen better days, so I'm looking forward to actually having a "new" wardrobe.
Those who are industrious may choose to wear only hand-crafted clothing with the exceptions of underwear, stocking, and shoes, although there are instructions out there on the internet for these and these, too!
I'll be posting my "new" clothing additions now and then throughout the summer. I figure that if I make between 5 and 7 items each month throughout the summer, I could mix and match to get through the challenge just fine. From the Me-Made-May group, it looks like September will be a daily wrap-up. (Speaking of wraps, I love wrap dresses! I've used to wear those in the seventies! I could make some new ones......)