Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Week 7 - Kid's Wildflower Art Contest

I've been out looking for the first wildflower of spring, but still haven't found it. But some birds are coming back. There are some robins around. So that must mean that they know that warmer weather is close. Don't worry if you haven't found the first wildflower either, because we have one more week before we have to find one.

This week though, we have to find some kids. I know that many of our participants don't have children at home anymore, so I'm wondering if you could put a call out on your blog to draw in some blogger moms that have kids to particpate. I would love to have a great variety of home drawn wildflowers blooming around blogsphere this week. I have the prize for the contest picked out and ordered. It is going to be a really cool Dover Publications Wildflower Coloring book and a neato set of Prang watercolors, some watercolor paper and a piece of graphite paper.

So here are the rules. They are simple.
Week 7 - February 27 - March 4. Kid's Wildflower Art Contest - Post a photo of a child's art creation featuring wildflowers (or other favorite spring flower, I won't be picky) on your blog or theirs. You have until Tuesday night, March 4 to get them up on a blog. If you don't have a blog, email them to me, and I'll post it on my blog for you. Come back to my blog and enter your name followed by (week 7) and then enter the link where the art work is found. Then on Wednesday, March 5, we will open up the voting, which I will keep open until Thursday, March 6, at 6:00 P.M. PST. take time to look at all the week 7 entries, choose your favorite and then send me an email with your choice to: morninglightblogger at yahoo dot com. (Remove the spaces and fix up the email so it will work.) The winner will receive a really cool Dover Publications Wildflower Coloring book and a neato set of Prang watercolors, some watercolor paper and a piece of graphite paper. If you have any questions be sure to ask.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Watercolor Wildflower Botanicals

I thought I would share with you some of my watercolor art. I still feel like beginner in many ways with some forms of watercolor. But I find that wildflowers are my favorite things to paint. I feel like I understand them more, and really enjoy trying to give them a fair representation. A couple years ago I took a class in watercoloring wildflower botanicals and it gave me a really good start. The teacher gave me some pointers that improved my ability to draw a wildflower, and I got quite excited as I found my drawings blooming in color. I really like drawing and painting them with the actual flower in my hand. I enjoy looking for the subtle variances in color. I love how my ability to see increased as I studied each flower so closely. I am not close to being a professional, as I only have time to do this for fun, so far, but I thought I'd share a few of my paintings with you. I draw first with pencil, then retrace with a Pigma Micron pen. Then I paint. The next thing I need to learn though is how to photograph them in a better way.Balsam Root - From Brewster, Washington
Bride's Bonnet - Jubilee Lake, Oregon
Common Lark spur - North Fork of the Umatilla River, Oregon - Aren't those roots amazing?
Desert Shooting Star - Brewster, WA
Wood Violet - Alpine Lakes Wilderness, WA

A Lady's Slipper Clothed in Beauty - Wildflower Art

Many years ago I found this lovely watercolor of a Lady's Slipper at a second hand store. I snatched it right up and it has been on my bedroom wall ever since. I have always thought it was an original. But in order to get a decent photograph of it, I had to remove the glass from the frame to cut down on glare and reflections. It was then I discovered it is really a well done print. I still like it, but now I know the truth.

A Lady's Slipper I think is one of the most beautifully elegant wildflowers. They remind me of how much God love's beauty. He isn't afraid of color or shape. "See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like on of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more cloth you, O you of little faith?" Matthew 6:28 - 30.

Showy Lady's Slipper
Public Domain image

When I think of how God clothes the grass of the field, Lilies and Lady's Slippers, I am in awe of his artistry and good taste. They are all so lovely in their dresses. When I dress, I have wondered what I reflect. Do I show God's good taste and beauty, or am I trying to show off and draw attention to myself. Today's sexy dressing leaves so much to be desired. Sometimes I think it is almost like a flower with the petals plucked off. You can then really focus on the parts of pollination and seed production, but it really cheapens the flower.
Pink Lady's Slipper
Public Domain

I have been trying to let God lead me more in how He wants me to dress, as He makes me to be who He created me to be. As a girl, I rarely had more then one dress at a time. We always wore pants. That seemed to be the thing to wear. I've had a couple jobs, one during college, and one after college, where a dress was the required uniform. That was a strange thing to me. I really had some adjusting to do. When I was finished with the job, I was back in my jeans. Over the last couple years I am finding my desires changing. I have asked God many times what He wanted me to wear that day, and thought I'd wear pants, but ended up walking out in some kind of a skirt, and ending up being glad for it. I am finding more and more skirts and dresses in my closet now and my desire for jeans fading away. I am finding I am very happy in feminine clothing and more uncomfortable in pants. I have learned how to be warm and comfortable in winter with addition of comfy cotton tights to my wardrobe. I am finding myself feeling more and more like I am growing to be what God wants me to be and I'm happy for that. I'm glad to be a woman, raising a family for God. But I am still longing for more God's Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit, because it is His character that is truly beautiful. It is Him who makes me a woman with the "unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." 1 Peter 3:4.
Yellow Lady's Slipper
Public Domain

Some other texts that meaningful to me about the clothing that God wants to dress me in include:

Isaiah 61:10 "I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels."

Revelation 3:5 " He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never erase his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and His angels."

Revelation 3:18 " I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see."Kentucky Lady's Slipper
Public Domain
All the Lady's Slipper photos were found here. Thank you to the National Digital Repository.

Friday, February 22, 2008

What Goes Up, Might Come Down ...

Yesterday both of my children had entries in an egg drop. Forest made a sandwich of two packing pillows of air, and slipped his egg in between them. He called his the "Egg Sandwich". Emily Rose taped three helium balloons together and taped an egg inside the intersection. Her's was called, "What goes up, might come down". It was tricky figuring out how to weigh helium balloons. We had to attach some weight underneath, and weigh it, and then subtract the weight of the weights from the first weight to get the total. It came out to be a negative 31 grams. Yep, it's lighter then air.

When it was Emily's turn, she stood by the edge of the roof and gave her balloons a good toss, out as far as she could get them to go away from the edge of the building. It is difficult to get balloons to go where you want them too. First they went up for a while, then started to gently drift downward.
It took a while, but the weight of the egg slowly drifted the balloons downward and set them gently on the ground, right by the edge of the building.
They weren't anywhere near the frying pan. Hopefully the balloon's negative weight will figure in well in the formula and compensate for the distance from the pan.
Helpful college students measure the distance from the frying pan to the egg, and then gave a thumbs to the judges that the egg wasn't broken.
After everything was all done, some friendly fellows gave Emily Rose a certificate for first prize of this years egg drop. They also gave her $100. What a happy girl! Good design, Emily Rose. All in all, it was a very good day of homeschooling.

Wildflower Art - Layered Daisies in a Frame

I have discovered that I didn't have as many examples of stitched wildflowers as I had thought, but I do have more wildflower art.

Here is some sweetly framed and painted daisies. I quickly snatched them up at a garage sale. It is made of three layers of glass, each having some daisies and leaves painted, giving it a lovely depth not normally seen in art. It isn't easy to see the depth in the photograph. Look closely to see the layers. The butterfly is in the first layer. Looking at it can help you see the layers that are in the background. The painting itself is probably only 4 by 6 inches in size.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Stitching Up Wildflowers - Thai Hill Tribe Wall Hanging

Click on the photos to enlarge)
About 7 years ago my family spent a summer in Thailand. My husband taught for one semester at a Christian college there. While we were there I was given this beautiful wall hanging. It is hand made, and hand stitched, on possibly hand woven and hand dyed fabric. The fabric is cotton. There are irregularities in the dye work. The mural is more then six feet wide and over 3 feet high.

The mural features hand appliqu├ęd and embroidered hill tribe women and children and wildflowers. I wish I could remember which specific hill tribe it features, but unfortunately I have forgotten that important detail.
In the above photo there is a woman with a baby tied to her back. You can find her in the middle of the large mural.
I'm assuming this section features children playing with a handmade toy. I have seen actual children in Thailand pushing a wheel connected to a stick for a toy. They got so much more fun and joy from that simple object then most American kids do from something with batteries, animation and noise.
There is a toddler in this picture accompanied by her mother. I am fascinated by the pack she is carrying on her back with some kind of blooming flower or herb that she has gathered. It makes me wonder if the mural actually teaches about useful plants, but unfortunately I can only guess.

The third person from the left in the large mural is doing some kind of stitching, though I didn't get a close up photo of her.

The exciting thing about this wall hanging is that I have pulled it out of the closet, and it is now on the wall above my sewing machine. I really like seeing it there. It has really brightened up my sewing area.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Week 6 - Wildflower Art

I can't believe we are already at week six of Wildflowers in Winter! This has been so much fun! I can't believe how it has helped the weeks fly by faster. We are getting so much closer to spring.

We now only have one more week until the kid's wildflower art contest. So let's get going with
Week 6 - February 20 - 26. Wildflower Art - Share art made by you or someone else that features wildflowers. I am thinking of paintings, watercolors, sketches, drawings etc., elaborate, detailed, free style, or very simple. Something from your nature journal would be appropriate too. If you can't find something in your house to photograph and share about right now, this week you can sit down and draw or paint one. Come on, don't be shy. It is really lots of fun, and may chase away those winter blues faster then you'd guess.

So bring on the wildflowers.

(And I'll try to make it around the house with my camera and catch up on last week too.)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Nutritious Valentine's Day Dinner

Yesterday I wrote about loving your Valentine's heart with all your heart. I am pretty sure you all agree with the idea, but it can be difficult to figure out what to do about it. So I thought I'd show photos and share recipes for what I for our Valentine's Day dinner. It is too late for you to do it this year, but really every day should be a day for loving our precious ones, so as long as you have them with you, it isn't too late.

This is a photo of what of what I served each person last night. I pre-loaded the plates in the kitchen so they would be attractive. We enjoyed Corn salsa in purple cabbage bowls, tofu sprout patties (made by Elizabeth Joy), steamed asparagus, hummus and salad. The salad was composed of salad greens spread across the plate, a little pile of match stick carrots, bean sprouts, cucumbers, alfalfa spouts, snap peas and tomatoes. The hummus was on the side in another bowl and not pictured. Also on the side was Yummy Yam Salad, and Lime Parfaits and Acorn Grapes (made by Forest Zoo) for Dessert. The kids and I planned the dinner in the morning, shopped in the afternoon, started cooking around 3:45, and Dinner was served to Daddy around 6:30 p.m.

I will put each recipe in an individual post, following this one.

Tofu Sprout Burgers - Vegan, Gluten-free

My kids really like these burgers, especially when they are bite sized. Emily Rose made these for us last night.

Tofu Sprout Burgers
Yield: 6 large burgers or many small ones

1/4 cup sunflower seeds
2 cups firm tofu
1/2 onion chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup parsley chopped (optional)
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 t garlic powder
1 tsp basil dried
1/4 cup grated carrots
2 cups alfalfa sprouts

1. Blend sunflower seeds in a food processor to meal.
2. Add all ingredients in the food processor, excepts carrots and sprouts, mix until everything is evenly distributed.
3. Add the carrots and sprouts and pulse just enough to mix them in evenly.
4. Sprinkle corn meal or other breading meal evenly over a cookie sheet, so it is coated. To shape large patties, place a large canning ring on the corn meal coated cookie sheet. Fill the ring with dough, and lift ring. For small patties use a 1/8 cup ice cream scoop that has a squeezable handle to help you remove the dough from the scoop. Place the scoops close together on the pan, as they won't spread. Flatten them slightly with the back of the scoop.
5. Sprinkle some more corn meal on top of the patties.
6. Bake at 350F degrees for 20 minutes. Carefully turn them, and bake for another 20 minutes. The large patties are especially fragile, so be careful while turning them.

Corn Salsa in Cabbage Bowls- Vegan and Gluten Free

Corn Salsa in Cabbage Bowls

2 cups frozen or fresh corn kernels
1 - 2 cups jicama diced
1 cup diced red pepper
1/2 cup diced onion
4 garlic cloves, pressed
2 cups diced tomatoes
1/4 cup lime juice
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced
A small red cabbage, whole leaves separated from the cabbage

1. Find a small Red cabbage. Carefully separate cabbage leaves and use ones that stay intact. Save the remaining ones for a different salad.

2.Mix in a bowl, and spoon salad into the cabbage leaves. Serves 4 - 6.

Oil Free Hummus

The following recipe is one of our favorite foods. It travels easily and is an excellent dip for carrots, spread for Corn Thins, or topping for salad. The kids often ask for some.

The photo of the hummus wasn't pretty, so I'll try again and add it when I have one.

Note: The Hummus Guy made a comment that this recipe isn't fat free. He's right, so I've changed it to Oil Free Hummus. Tahini does have fat, but it isn't oil isolated from the rest of it's plant food. The body seems to fats more easily in conjunction with the rest of the plant. It seems God made it to go together for a purpose. My husband won't eat oils, which are 100% fat, but will eat plant fats that aren't isolated from the rest of the plant, in moderation, of course. Ideally I should be blending sesame seeds into the hummus rather then tahini, which would improve the nutrition level. Most tahini is made from roasted sesame seeds and then heat processed to seal it in a can. I'll let you know if the sesame seed experiment works.

Oil Free Hummus

1 can of garbanzo beans, drained
1/2 cup tahini
7 TBSP liquid, if needed
6 TBSP fresh lemon juice (fresh tastes so much better)
2 - 4 cloves garlic
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in a blender and process on high speed until very smooth and creamy.

3 cups

Yummy Yam Salad

Yams are really good for you. It is good to find another delicious way to eat them. This recipe is adapted from one in the RawSome Recipes cookbook by Robyn Boyd. She had a really good idea, but used Vegenaise in her recipe. We don't use Vegenaise anymore, as it is high in processed fat, and other not so good for you things. My friend who is very sensitive to MSG says there is some in it, which is another reason to stay away from it. So I will type out the recipe with my modifications, and give it a new name so it won't be confused with the original recipe.

Yummy Yam Salad

3 large dark orange yams, baked at 400F degrees until soft, about 1 hour
1 bunch green onions, diced
1/2 cup parsley, minced (optional)
1/2 package frozen peas
3 sticks celery, chopped fine
salt to taste

Cashew Dressing:
1 cup raw cashews
3/4 cup water
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt

1. Cool yams. Peel off the skins. Cut into chunks and place in a large bowl.
2. Place Dressing ingredients in a blender and blend until very smooth and creamy.
3. Place remaining ingredients in the bowl with the yam chunks. Add the cashew dressing and mix together. Chill if desired.

Serves 6

Instead of Chocolate - Grapes!

We got the idea for this recipe from RawSome Recipes Cookbook by Robyn Boyd. But once again we had to make some changes. The dip contained free flowing processed oil and Vegenaise, so I had to do some changing of this recipe to make it suitable for my family. But I think that Ms. Boyd had an excellent idea, and I'd really like to give her the credit. And I'd like to give my husband credit for the new name. He and I were sitting at the table eating them as fast as we could, and really enjoying them, and he said, you could serve them instead of chocolate, they were such a nice treat. I had to agree with him that they were delicious. I would consider a gift of these grapes of much higher value then Valentine chocolates.

My final credit goes to my son, Forest Zoo, who enthusiastically prepared these for our supper, and lovingly placed them in my heart shaped wildflower dish. He is certain that you are really going to like these.

Instead of Chocolate - Grapes!

1 bunch of red seedless organic grapes
1 cup of finely chopped walnuts or pecans, place some in a tiny dish
1 recipe of Sweet and Sour Cashew Dip

1. Wash the grapes and drain.

2. Make some Sweet and Sour Cashew Dip
Place in the blender and blend until smooth
3/4 cup of raw cashews
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (fresh tastes so much better)
1 TBSP honey or agave nectar
More water if needed, but be careful to keep this as thick as possible, because you are going to need to have it thick enough to dip grapes in and have it stick.

3. Dip the plump end of a grape into the cashew dip, then dip onto the chopped nuts and roll it just a little bit to get the nuts to stick and cover the spread.

4. Arrange the grapes on a platter and serve.

Serves 4 - 12, depending on how many you eat.

Lime Parfait - Wow!

You would think I change every recipe I use, but I don't. If I find a recipe that is good, as written, I quickly use it. This recipe comes from the Rawsome Recipes cookbook by Robyn Boyd, and I think it is great.

The recipe uses coconut, but it is fresh out of the coconut shell, just as nature gives it to us. Some people think coconut is bad for you because of the kind of fat it contains, but studies say that the people who eat lots of coconut on islands where coconuts grow, along with their native diets, don't have heart disease. It is the addition of the western diet that causes heart disease among the native peoples. When they start eating foods in boxes and cans from America and other places, they start getting the lifestyle caused diseases of America. From this information it seems that coconut straight from the shell just might be good for us. Give it a try in these Lime Parfaits.

One more thing. You will be amazed that the green layer contains avocado. It looks beautiful, and tastes like lime. You might not want to tell your guests though, until they are done eating.

Razzle Dazzle Lime Parfait
RawSome Recipes By Robyn Boyd
(I have simplified the steps to make them more clear).

1. Place some chopped nuts in the bottom of 4 stemware glasses.

2. Make the Green layer
Mix until smooth and creamy in a blender or food processor:
2 ripe avocaods
juice from 2 limes
1 - 2 TBSP agave nectar

Carefully spoon into the stemware, on top of the nut layer.

3. Make the red layer:
Mix until smooth and creamy in a blender or food processor:
1 package of frozen raspberries
1/4 cup fresh young coconut meat, straight from a green coconut. (It isn't that hard to open a coconut yourself. There are directions on the web in many places.)
1/4 - 1/2 cup coconut water (less is better for thicker sauce.)
2 TBSP. agave nectar

Carefully spoon onto the glasses above the green layer.

4. Make the white topping:
remaining meat from two young coconuts
1/2 - 1 cup water (use as little as possible so this is nice and thick)
2 -4 pitted dates, or 2 TBSP agave nectar

Make a little dollop onto the top of the red layer, like whipped cream.

5. Garnish as desired with nuts, lime or kiwi slices, or mint sprigs.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Green Smoothie Recomendation

Emily Rose has just written a post about Green Smoothies with lots of yummy combinations to try. They are really delicious. Click here to go take a look.

I Love Your Heart With All My Heart

Many have come to think of rich foods, and fatty sweet treats when they think of Valentine's Day. I used to think it was loving to give one of those indulgences on holidays. Now I am thinking differently. If we really love someone, we should give them what is good for them, not just what tastes good. But hopefully, we can think of something that tastes good without being bad for the heart and health. If you love someone you want them to be around a long time, so you should give them food that is good for their heart, especially on heart day. It would show that you love them with all your heart, and are not out to help them die off sooner.

If care about someone's heart health, you need to get oils, margarine, butter, cheese and other fats out of the diet, especially animal fats. Most plant fats when found in their original package, such as flax seeds, nuts, avocado, and olives are good for heart. Meat is not good for hearts, bones or health in general, so it has to go. Milk was made to turn a baby calf into a 600 pound bull in one year. It has too much fat and protein for good human health, even though the dairy industry disagrees. The research and evidence is clear that milk will not "do you good."

So is there anything left to eat? Yes! Absolutely, yes! What is left is the foods that make a healthy long life. If you care about your valentine, please give them some vegetables and fruit this year, and a fun walk together out in the fresh air. In fact do it everyday for a month for their Valentine's Day gift, and start reaping good health. It is the loving thing to do.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Week 5 - Stitching Up Wildflowers

Tomorrow will be the first day of our new weekly theme for Wildflowers in Winter, so go ahead and start posting when you are ready.

Week 5 - February 13 - 19. Stitching up wildflowers - creations made with textiles (fabric, yarn, thread etc.) and featuring wildflowers in some form, made by you or someone else.

In just three weeks it will be time four our Kids wildflower art contest. I thought I'd give you a heads up about it. Sometime between now and then try to find a child who will draw a picture of a wildflower for you to get ready to post on your blog the week of the contest. I'd suggest showing them some drawings of wildflowers, or photos of wildflowers and sitting there and making a sketch with them. If you have life wildflowers in your area available, it might be fun to go out in the yard and draw a wildflower while you are actually looking at it. You can tell the child that there will even be a small prize mailed to the winner when everyone is done voting. I really think this is going to be so much fun!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Fairy Dusters and Blazing Stars - Literary Wildflowers for Children

I want to tell you about a delightful book of wildflowers to share with the children in your life. It is called Fairy Dusters and Blazing Stars, by Suzanne M. Samson Illustrated by Preston Neel. The author used her vivid and literal imagination to think about unique wildflowers in a fascinating way.
For example, have you seen the flower called Elephant heads before. They are pink flowers on tall stocks. Each flower seems to have a trunk and ears making it resemble an elephant's head.
How about Monkey Flowers, are you familiar with them? They are commonly yellow, but some are pink, such as Lewis's Monkey Flowers, named after Captain Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. When you look closely at the flower it is easy, with the aid of the spots and dots on the flower, to imagine a cute little face looking out at you. Could it be the face of a monkey? Could there be flower sized monkeys swinging all over the clump of flowers?
It is easy to see how Sky Rockets got their name. The really could resemble flaming rockets shooting off into "wild blue yonder" with a big red glare.

In the back of the book there are close up photos of the different flowers featured in the book and more information about each flower.

Fairy Dusters and Blazing Stars might seem a little silly to the more serious botanist. But maybe there is a little room for laughter and fun. And many children do really understand this sort of humor. We know it isn't really true, but somehow that flower got it's name, and somehow someone else must have agreed, because the names have stuck until this day. And me, I really enjoy the fun illustrations even though I'm no longer a child.

Wildflower tins - Wildflowers in My Home

I did some more searching around the house and found a few more wildflower decorations. In my bathroom is a bouquet on the wall with mix of garden flowers and wildflowers. They are in a tin vase with flowers, bugs and butterflies.
By my sewing machine is a large tin painted with a lovely woodland scene. Everything in the picture is blooming including the love between the two young ones seated by the mill. Inside the tin you find a colorful assortment of threads. The basic colors I use most often are the spindles of the sewing cabinet door, the most colorful ones are inside the tin, along with a few buttons.

Wildflower Dishes - Wildflowers in My Home

I am slowly growing my collection of wildflower dishes as I browse garage sales and second hand stores. I just love the top platter with a purple cone flower and a swallowtail butterfly all in one place. Can't you just smell the fresh air that rushed in the door with one look at the lovely painting? Isn't it great that people are growing cone flowers in their gardens now too? I haven't had great success with them here, but I am going to try again this year, and put them in a different location and see if that helps.
This heart shaped dish features flowers that I think must be some kind of blue bell, some asters at the point of the heart, some clover leaves on the right, and maybe buttercups on the left. It is so pretty, it usually stands in the back of my china cupboard, but there have been times I have brought it out to serve some dainty treats at a tea party.
This last plate is almost alive with butterflies and wildflowers. I seems to come straight from the meadow. I don't recognize any of the flowers except the red clover and a daisy relative at the bottom. And I'm not sure if any of the butterflies are really drawn from life, but even if they aren't they are so realistic looking that I can almost taste the sweetness that comes out of each tube in the red clover. I only have one of these plates, but I find myself so happy when I use it, either to eat on or to serve something delicious for my family.

Thistle Tea cup - Wildflowers in My Home

It seems that most tea cups features lovely garden flowers. I do enjoy them and have many of them covered with roses and such. But, as you might guess, my favorite tea cup doesn't have such a tended and pampered flower, but rather one that some might pull up and out of the garden, a thistle.

This afternoon I have drank several cups of tea from my little green tea pot, as I sit here with very low energy and a big box of tissue by my side. It has helped to keep me warm while I dream of big meadows of wildflowers and sunny spring days. The little green tea pot is new to me, recently discovered at a second hand store and brought home to go with my thistle tea cup. Their greens coordinate perfectly, as if they were made to go together. The pot is sturdy, reminding me of the tenacity of a thistle. They really are hard to get rid of. But the painting of the flowers are delicate, just like the cup. It is true that I too don't like to step on a thistle, or accidentally touch one with bare hands, I don't like them in my garden or lawn, but I do love to see them growing in wild places, covered with honey bees or American Goldfinches. You can listen to a goldfinches call here. See a photo of a goldfinch here. (My cup didn't come with a photo of a gold finch, and neither does my blog post, because I have none in my files, and found none in the public domain.)

photo from

Besides providing food for birds and bees, there are some thistles that are beneficial to people. Milk thistle and Blessed Thistle are two examples. Both can help the liver detoxify. And Milk thistle can help a women produce more milk for her nursing baby. There are lovely thistles sold to grow in the garden with lovely flowers, such as the Globe thistle. And when we eat an artichoke, we are eating a thistle flower. Some thistles can be dangerous for live stock, so I guess you would need to be careful, if you had a pasture. But for me, I say let them grow free. They are God's natural bird feeders, and beautiful ones too.


Over the last few days I've had internet problems, computer problems, responsibilities, company, and now I'm sick. I've been wanting to comment on your Wildflowers in Winter posts, but have gotten to only a few. I'm sorry if I've missed yours. I've also wanted to post pictures of some of the ways wildflowers are decorating my home, but haven't yet. These are my excuses. But I hope to get around them soon.

Have a good day.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Quilted Valentines Day Card Tutorial

Would you like to combine sewing fun and card making this Valentine's Day to make unique handmade cards for you loved ones? Here are some simple step-by-step directions that will make it easy for you.

-a heart shaped to trace so you can make a template for your card
-Card stock in pink, white or red, cut in half, so you can fold it to make a card.
-Sewing machine that zig zags
-thread in a contrasting color
-fabric appropriate for hearts and Valentine's Day
-thin batting
-white school type glue

1. Make yourself a heart shaped template using a stencil, or by tracing another heart. Cut it out of card stock so it is durable.

2. Position your heart template on a pre-cut and folded half sheet of card stock.

3. Carefully poke scissors into the middle of the heart you have traced on the card, and then cut it out, try to have very smooth cutting edges, because every little nick will show. An exact0 knife might make a smoother edge, if you had one.

4. Cut some fabric bigger then the heart hole by about 1/2 inch or more on all sides. Cut a piece of batting the same size. Layer all three pieces like a sandwich. Fabric (facing out), batting, fabric.

5. Hold your fabric sandwich firmly and center it on the underside of your card, so it shows through nicely out the front window. With your sewing machine set on a zig-zag stitch, carefully maneuver around the outside of the heart. Sewing slowly helps turn corners. Be careful to not let the fabric slip or pucker underneath the card.

6. Trim thread ends of your heart. Then trim excess fabric off the back edge of the heart. Pinking shears might be nice if you had them.

7. At this point you can leave the card just as it is, or you can cut a piece of card stock into quarters, and then glue one of those quarters onto the back side of the fabric heart to cover the edges. It will make the card a little more stiff, which could help it stand up longer. But I do think this is optional, because there is a kind of simple charm to seeing the stitched back side of the heart too.

8. Make enough cards to send to everyone. They really don't take long to make. Fill the note inside with affirmations and love. Then be sure to put them in an envelope with a stamp and address and get them out to the mail box right away. I know this is the hardest part, but may be the most important part. Don't think you are finished until you have them mailed. Then sit down and smile. You have done a good thing. Someone is going to feel so cared for in just a couple days when they find your sweet card in the mailbox.