Sunday, August 29, 2010

still in love with: Makeshift Blog

Natalie Purschwitz - Day 360

MakeShift is an art and research project that examines the relationships between 'making', 'clothing' and 'living'. The basic premise for the project is that for a period of one year starting on September 1st, 2009, I will only wear things that I have made myself. Initially this may seem like a reasonable task, but it will include all of my clothes, socks, shoes, underwear, coats, jackets, hats, bathing suits, accessories and anything else I might need to protect my body from the elements while trying to lead a fulfilling life.

I told you about Natalie Purschwitz's 365 day project, MakeShift, before. Her year of wearing and using only self handmade clothing and accessories is drawing to a close. She has made some wonderful items and I still find the entire project incredibly inspiring. Perhaps some day I will have the know-how, dedication and ability to do similarly.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Recipe Friday: Almond Milk

I'm at the farm with family now so I don't have reliable, fast internet. Because of this, I can't add photos to the following recipe, but I will do so once I get back home. However, this recipe really is basic and straightforward enough that a lot of explanation is probably not needed.

Almond milk is a delicious alternative to dairy milk. It's also the most decadent of the non-dairy milks I can make at home.  Almond milk's decadence lends itself splendidly to use as a whitener or creamer in coffee and tea as well as making really good non-dairy ice cream.

note: I prefer to soak my almonds overnight. It softens the nuts and I think the little bits strain out better. This may just be in my head, however, and not an actuality. Feel free to skip the soaking process if you feel so inclined or are in a hurry. 

Almond Milk
raw almonds

1.  Soak 1 cup of plain, raw almonds in 2 cups water overnight. 2. Drain and discard soaking water
3. Put almonds and 4 cups fresh water in blender and liquify
4. Strain with cheesecloth or other appropriate material into a saucepan. The saucepan should provide a wide enough area to strain everything without making a huge mess and enough volume to hold all the liquid
5. Put the but solids back into the blender pitcher with another 4 cups of water and repeat steps 3 and 4
6. Mix with a spoon and decant your almond milk into jars

The pulverized nutmeats can be used as is or dried as tasty and healthful additions to baked goods, desserts and cereals both hot and cold and make a great ice cream topping.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Through the Woods and *then* Over the River

Misty morning trees at a nearby, building-less lot.

Corey has a little over a week off work and we're packing up and going on a road trip. It's the closest thing to a vacation we've had since before I graduated UMSL in 2005. We'll be headed through the woods of the absolutely gorgeous, I-could-die-and-melt-into-the-trees-right-now-and-not-even-care Huron National Forest to visit my family as my brother Duncan is home on R&R at our parents' place in MI. Then we'll  be headed across the Mississippi River to visit part of Corey's family as his brother and his brother's wife are recently back in MO for a bit after living in Europe for a couple of years.

After two whole years of no camping, hiking or any other super outdoorsy activities for this country girl, an Au Sable River float trip with almost all of my MI genetic and extended family sounds pretty darned amazing. There's also the option of camping once we get to MO, but I'm not sure yet if I want to do that or bum around the Lou for a few days instead. I miss that city so. Every time I leave, it draws me back. And for many reasons. Not the least of which being that it is where I did most of my actual growing up and becoming myself with amazingly vibrant, loving and supportive individuals for friends, colleagues and mentors.

I'm working on a couple posts for auto-publish while I'm away so this space shouldn't be silent unless I mess something up on the auto-publishing front, which is entirely possible but I'll do my best. The shop will also remain open while I am gone with the announcement that I will be responding to convos, shipping sold items and listing more goodies upon our return after the 7th.

Much love and I hope you all have a great weekend and following week!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Giveaway Winner

Thank you all very much for your comments and giveaway entries. Thank you most of all, however, for your input and suggestions. I will implementing many of them in the coming weeks as I make and add items to the shop. I will make an announcement here whenever I make additions to my shop so be sure to subscribe or follow with Google Friend Connect over there on the sidebar to the right. :)

 Now for the giveaway results!

Comments have been locked.
The oracles have been consulted.
Winner is:

Comment #9 is from Stephanie of Sand and Starfish :
sandandstarfish said...
I already follow you :) 1

Congrats, Stephanie! I will be sending you an email shortly asking which earrings you would like.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

rain day

rainy but green and finally not ridiculously warm

Woke up early this morning to a rain day. Not good for outside picture taking, but a great day for recentering, gathering some floating thoughts and some materials from the outdoors and making things. Great day for slow cooking that entire pound of chickpeas Corey started yesterday, too! Not that I'm opposed to having an entire 1 pound bag of them cooked up, just that my crock pot only holds 8 cups total and in order to cook a pound of chickpeas is takes at least 8 cups of water alone, not including the volume of the beans and how much thay will expand when cooked. Haha. This week's Recipe Friday will be a hummus or curried chickpea recipe.

I know a lot of the posts lately have been all Etsy, Etsy, blah, products, blah, blah, shop, shop, Etsy, blah, blah, Etsy, shop, etc. I promise it will not be like that here all the time. I have been spending so much of my energy lately learning what I need to do to get an Etsy shop up and running and figuring out what I like making that might sell, I haven't had time for much else.

The concrete slab out back that I guess is supposed to be a patio is a mess of buckets, water hose, clothes hangers and pins from drying clothes outside, plastic containers repurposed for drip irrigation, boards and sticks I've been cutting bits off of for various purposes, and pots of dead plants that finally succumbed to the stresses all these bugs have been putting them through. That's the zucchini plants there in the middle tub in the photo below. I gave up trying to kill all the bugs after I got the second squash of the season off the plants and saw that all of the remaining plants had been infested with squash borers again. Sad times, but now I can pull the dead and plant something else, preferably something completely unrelated to squash to keep disease vectors to a minimum. Like a tub full of basil or maybe I'll wait until the weather cools slightly and do a fall spinach planting. Possibly beets since I have some beat seed strips that need planting before they all go bad. Honestly, though, as much as I really love pesto, a tub full of basil sounds marvelous!

The stevia  (L) is in need of harvesting and the tomatillos are still going like gangbusters.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Shop is live!

I have been photographing and listing items for a week now. It has been a crash course in how my camera performs under various lighting conditions, how to adapt to lighting and when to give in and admit to myself that there really isn't enough light or the conditions aren't appropriate for good photos.

It is so exciting to be typing this. I have officially opened shop at Etsy! Just type in or click here to go directly to the shop. I've already had two sales! Squeeee!

I have a few items completed and ready for posting, but don't have satisfactory photos of them yet so they will be posted in the next couple of days as I convince Corey to come outside and take pictures of the items while I am wearing them. Most notably, these items include a hooded cloak and a shoulder length red cape. I also have several jewelry items in various stages of design/completion which should be listed by this time next week.

I said there would be a giveaway when I finally opened shop and here it is. The winner will get two sets of earrings (valued at a combined $10) of their choice from those shown below, can be any combination including two of the same type (for example, you could choose two pairs of glow worm earrings and get one pair in white and one pair in gold). Giveaway entry guidelines are after the prize pictures. Although only the last one is listed right now, all of these items will soon be available in the shop. When this giveaway is done, I will be hosting a fabric-themed giveaway of items also available in the shop as well. So if the earrings aren't really your thing but fabric is, stay tuned.

Adorable polymer clay glow worms in top hats and bow ties. They actually do glow in the dark! Choose from black, white, gold, silver or copper (shown) accessories. Wire ear hooks are sterling silver.

A bit of fun geekery; health and mana potion earrings. Choose from health, mana or one of each. Bottle sizes do vary but I will try to get them as close to the same as I can. Wire ear hooks are sterling silver.

Polymer clay disc earrings inspired by the woodblock print "The Great Wave Off Kanagawa" by Edo period Japanese artist and author Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) and by the Art Nouveau movement of the early 20th century. Can be made in a color scheme of your choice. Wire ear hooks are sterling silver.

Giveaway Guidelines

Giveaway is open to Us residents only. My apologies to my international friends, but at this time I cannot afford international shipping. I do hope to be able to host some international giveaways here in the future.

Make sure all entries have your email or a way to contact you included since I can't very well have a giveaway and the winner be "anonymous". Once the winner is picked I will send an email and you will have 48 hours to respond or I will have to choose someone else.

Items are custom made so please allow 5-10 days after winner is announced to make your chosen earrings before they will be in the mail to you.

Entries will close 8pm CST  24 August, 2010.

Winner will be chosen via Random Number Generator according to the number of entries.

How to enter:
Visit mangomerle on Etsy and leave a comment here telling me the following:
^ this is the mandatory comment for entry ^
 1. What you liked about the shop
 2. What you did not like about the shop or something you think needs improvement
 3. Tell me what you would like to see more of in the shop 

Additional Entries
Mandatory entry must be completed before any additional entries can be used. 
Please leave one comment for each additional entry. For example, if it says 2 additional entries, please leave 2 separate comments.

*Follow me on Google Friend Connect from there on my sidebar - 2 additional entries (If you already follow me, you can actually get 3 additional entries so those of you following already be sure to leave your 3 comments!)
*Heart mangomerle on Etsy or an item from the shop (please leave your Etsy user name in the comment) - 2 additional entries
*Tweet about this giveaway on Twitter being sure to include @mangomerle and a link to this post- 1 additional entry, can be completed once daily (make sure to leave a comment here about your daily tweet) You can copy and paste the following if you like: @mangomerle Win two pair of handmade earrings, enter here
*Blog about this giveaway, including a link back to this post, and include your blog post url in your comment - 3 additional entries
* 5 extra entries - purchase something from the shop and leave me a comment telling me what you purchased

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sevier Station park, weekend hiatus and shop opening announcement

Shop announcement: I will be officially opening shop at Etsy tomorrow. There will be free shipping for the first 30 days and I will also be hosting a give-away or two here to celebrate. 

I went on an unannounced hiatus after Wednesday. Sorry about that. Today Corey and I went to a tiny local park/historical location to take photos of things for Etsy and also to just get out of the house for a while. Corey took most of these photos as practice since yesterday he took close to 200 photos of 5 different things I'll be listing in the shop when I open it and only about a dozen were usable. Most were blurry, unlevel, or just generally out of focus. After a few pointers about elbows and breathing he was doing great. The breathing part may just be me applying musical performance techniques to an unrelated field and may or may not have any legitimacy in the world of photography, but it really seems to work well for focus and preventing shaky hands to click the shutter button on the exhale instead of inhale.

The photo above has a Tour Clarksville emblem on it, but I have never heard of any tours around Clarksville. The signage at this park indicates that Clarksville has history going back to at least the late 18th century. For a place with so much history, they sure don't seem to care about it at all here. The only history information I've found about the area has been through Wikipedia articles about the Red River Valley, The Trail of Tears, and the general founding of Tennessee as a state. The Clarksville city's website doesn't even have any links or listings of historical information or sites. I'd really like to visit locations similar to this in the area, but Corey talked to several people at his work and even people who have lived here their entire lives weren't even aware that this Sevier Station place existed.

Sevier Station stone monument

close up of monument

The roof of this building was amazing to look at. It was so overgrown with moss the wood shingles and boards underneath were almost nonexistent. Somw of the support beams appeared to be close to original (they may in fact be original) in age as there was evidence of the (very large) beams being cut with a hot iron burning/hand sawing technique that I don't think has been used in many, many decades at least.

mossy, growing roof

there were bees in the beams
Unfortunately all of those gorgeous hand-hewn beams have been compromised by carpenter bees. These holes are huge and so are the bees that made them. Normally they're solitary bees, but when there are several nests together like this they tend to take on more of a hive mentality with guards, gatherers, etc. I didn't want to stick around and bother them too much; didn't care to get stung by one of them as normal bee stings hurt enough, thank you.
carpenter bee damage
inside the building

I took these photos through the iron bars on one of the windows. The inside of the building was just as beat up and ratty as the outside. It looks like the area flooded and nobody bothered to clean out this place afterward. I have no clue what the big pile of cement in the center is about. My guess is covering up something; a hole maybe?

abandoned hearth

I have no idea what all of the piled up stone is about, but both rooms of the building were filled with it. There was so much stone that it looks like either there was another room to this building (which is not supported by the looks of the roofing or by any indication of foundation around the perimeter) or there was a small outbuilding or platform elsewhere nearby. In fact, there was a small concrete walkway leading to a very small foundation. It was maybe 4'X4' and half wrenched out of the ground by who knows what force.

piles of stone matching that of the building

Corey spotted them, but I snuck up close as I could to get these photos. I'm told by many people that there are a lot of deer in Clarksville, but I've only seen them a couple times. There three of them; a doe, a spotted fawn and a buck in velvet. The doe and fawn would have allowed me to get much closer I could tell, but the buck stood up immediately as I came out of the brush cover to stamp his foot and grunt and then when I didn't move away he left instead. They are not very good photos, but I didn't really have a lot of time to mess with camera settings or anything, either.

buck, fawn, doe

buck leaving, fawn, doe

fawn and doe reluctantly leaving

Saturday, August 7, 2010

dyestuffs walk

little red toad at the front door

Took a walk around out back and through an empty lot nearby this afternoon looking for dyestuffs. I found some promising things and got a better idea of the flora and fauna in the area. I have not been outside much this summer because my photosensitivity seems to have gotten much worse this year than in the past. This may because of a more southerly location and thus more direct sunlight then I have experienced previously. This little walk occurred around 5pm and lasted for about 30-40 minutes mostly out of direct sun; I am still itchy all over with tiny welts and this doesn't even take into account the mosquito bites from disturbing the tall grass. Ack. I still refuse to live in a cave, though. Outside is just too awesome.

Enjoy these photos; I'm off to hang out with a very cool 3 year old and do something fun with some sycamore leaves I picked earlier.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Recipe Friday: Chocolate Thumbprint Dulce de Leche Cookies by Cherry On A Cake

I have not had time this week to write up something for Recipe Friday. My apologies. Instead of throwing something together in a hurry or leaving Friday recipe-less, I have decided to showcase one of my favorite food and cooking blogs. I will be making these cookies some time in the near future; I'm just not certain when. Do they not look amazingly delicious and decadent? Click the picture to be taken to Cherry On A Cake for her great recipe and photo tutorial. Have a great weekend! *edit: 226 grams of butter is 2 sticks*

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Close, but not quite there yet.

soon, soon, very soon (!)

Long day of photographing, photo editing and cropping, playing dress up to photograph items in use and writing product descriptions.Today was sewing supplies and vintage buttons. Tomorrow is my own handmade beads and buttons, vintage textiles and possibly my own hand dyed textiles if there is time. As soon as I am officially open for business I will place a link in an announcement post and a widget on my sidebar. Along with the aforementioned giveaway information, of course.

Soon. Very soon, indeed. *narrows eyes and grins wickedly* And now it's time for either a little WoW or movie watching with Corey.

omg dress-up is fun!
please disregard the pallor; photosensitivity tends to have that effect on people

Eventful Gardening Day

Call me crazy, but some weeds are just too pretty to cull. I haven't bothered to look up what this one is. I know it grows pretty tall (sunflower height) and has heart-shaped leaves and seeds long with pretty cup-shaped, buttery-yellow flowers. And that's all I care to know about it for now.

Tomato hornworm on tomatillo sprig, with tomatilllos.

We found a large hornworm when watering this morning. It is now living in a giant emptied peanut butter jar with holes in hopes that it will metamorphose inside said jar. Then I plan on murdering it and mounting it for display.  Honrworms turn in to sphinx moths; this one is the kind that would metamorphose into a Five-spotted Hawkmoth.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Hooray! First Zucchini!

This was actually picked a couple of weeks ago and I forgot to post the picture then. There has been a war going on involving several types of cucurbit pests, including Japanese beetles, vine borers, and cucumber beetles. Most recently I donned the big, black, chemical-resistant gloves to pluck and crush approximately 30 fully-grown squash bugs and man, oh, man do they stink when you kill them that way! It was like instant fly bait, too, and I have never before experienced flies congregating so quickly. I would have started killing them before they got so plentiful on my 4 little plants, but I didn't know what they were; I thought they were just stink bugs. I dealt with the flies as I still had innumerable just-hatched squash bugs to crush and about 15 patches of eggs to cut out of the undersides of the zucchini leaves. Squash borers did claim the one plant I found out as I was annihilating the squash bugs and that plant was culled to save the others from possible infestation. Hopefully now the squash bugs are under control and the plants can start producing more blossoms and more fruits. I would love to be able to freeze several batches of shredded squash for zucchini bread come winter time.
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