Ding Dong season is here! Last night we gathered to sing carols and learn new harmonies. Challenging and so much fun. This group is amazing and our director, Jessica Johnson, is brilliantly talented (not to mention kind and gorgeous!)
I took some herbal treats and thought you might like to try them so recipes are included.
Lavender Mint Cucumbers
Green Beans Vinaigrette
Our assignment for Imagining was to draw a "red line", or figure out how to connect sketched from day to day. The hurricanes and floods were on my mind and I began with dark clouds and rain, leading to water - a stream - that became my thread. As the days progressed, my stream expanded to hold fish and eventually a turtle emerged carrying his home on his back, a concept that occurred to me frequently after the flood. What an amazing process. Can't wait to begin week 2!
This is a question I posted on Facebook yesterday and I've been giving it a lot of thought. There are so many exciting possibilities! Mary Oliver's words and wisdom always inspire and just looking at this beautiful art work makes me want to head for the paints and brushes! Hopefully, you'll be inspired too, and consider some creative new ways to fill your life with more joy!
This is one of my first posts on Mikell's Hidden Treasures, 4/17/2012,
after I shifted from my live journal blog to Weebly.
The concept of vulnerability seems to be recurring.
It's been almost a month since my last post.
I've been retreating, hiding in the home I carry on my back like a turtle since the flood, a year ago on April 16/17/2011. I have slowly pulled back into the illusion of safety in my shell..
I'm hearing the word 'vulnerable' in so many contexts recently. It was the title of our Easter Service at church - one of the best sermons I've heard. I've also read several references to being vulnerable this week, and it was the common thread in last week's tele-class.
After class I began to work on the Prosperous Heart by Julia Cameron and found this quote.
"Loss is always a gain in disguise."
Julia elaborates, stating that when loss is excruciatingly painful, we need to turn to faith. "Loss puts us back in touch with our own spirit. It cracks our harder shell and exposes our vulnerability."
Years ago i found an acorn in the woods and carried it home, thinking about one of my favorite lessons from nature - "An acorn holds the promise of a thousand forests."
I took took the acorn inside and put it on the shelf in the living room, but as I turned to walk away it occurred to me that it would never fulfill it's promise isolated on a shelf in my cabin. It would never reach its full potential unless it's brittle outer shell was softened by nature and allowed to become vulnerable. I took the acorn back to the place I found it, confident that the forces of nature would work their magic.
Being isolated and safe is an illusion. When we try to protect ourselves from life, we lose the opportunity for growth, interaction and joy. Vulner - ability is a word I needed to hear. I'm leaving my hard shell and going back out into the world after a period of temporary retreat. Tonight's class made me realize that we are all fragile, yet in our vulnerability lies boundless strength.
My Sweet Annie dried much more quickly than expected. I brought it in on the 10th and yesterday when I checked I was surprised to see it was at the right stage to make arrangements. It only took four days! I put everything else on hold to work with her for a couple of hours, and she is finished and ready for more herbs and berries to be added. The rowan and beauty berries are still in the garden and not quite ready. The secret of beautiful herbal wreaths is layering.
The wreath is layered with 5 to 6 inch bunches of herbs, and each one is attached with u shaped floral pins.
There were two very distinct color differences in the herb so I worked that into the design in layers around the wreath. You could also mix them in the small bunches if you prefer.
I began with a ring of the green leaves around the center of the straw base.
This shows the completion of the layer of green, with the addition of the more golden bunches being added towards the center of the wreath.
My Sweet Annie wreath is now inside and waiting to be embellished with more treasures from the garden. She will continue to share her beauty and fragrance for many years to come!
I just brought in some rosemary to dry for the winter. Zippy joined me in the garden, then on the porch as I cut and sorted it into bunches. As you can see, he is not happy about coming inside!
Living in Maryland has it's advantages. Last year I had rosemary available all year long. The plant is an evergreen and it flourished, even though it was a little worse for wear by midwinter. The reason I cut it was to clear the path my daughter is beginning to call a jungle so it would be easier to get through for our evening walks with Zippy! I'll dry some and share with friends.
Rosemary can be hung to dry in a cool dark place, similar to what I described for Sweet Annie. Smaller bunches can be dried in an oven if you can remember not to turn your oven on for a couple of days! Place springs of rosemary on baking sheets covered with parchment paper, set to warm or simply use the pilot light if you have a gas oven, and in a day or two the sprigs should be ready to cool and store.
If you'll go to my welcome page and type in Rosemary in the search bar, you'll find a few more uses for Rosemary! As always, my treasures are hidden so it's up to you to search!
After a summer of watching her grow and hugging her every time I walked past her in the garden, my Sweet Annie's tiny golden balls indicate that she is ready to be harvested!
She'll be wonderful for fall arrangements, wreaths and swags. Her golden color adds a perfect warmth to autumn decor!
Be sure to cut her in the morning and after the dew has dried. Inspire of her delicate look, her branches become thick and hardened so you'll need heavy garden shears. Cut close to the ground and leave one of the lowest branches on the plant so it can develop seeds for your next year's garden. Sweet Annie is an annual and grows easily from seed. Actually, your challenge will be in having too many plants since you'll only need a few for personal use. This harvest is from three plants and you can see how prolific she is. You can always share!
Oh, one word of caution. Occasionally there are people who are sensitive to her fragrance and develop allergies and headaches. And I've heard of people developing a rash similar to poison ivy if they are allergic, but have never spoken with anyone who experienced problems.
Sweet Annie is happiest drying in a dark area. Drying time varies from one week to several. I'll keep you posted on how mine dries and I usually begin making my arrangements and wreaths before she is brittle. More to come!
If you want to keep her looking fresh and retaining more of a green color, you can use glycerin. Mix one part glycerin to three or four parts of water and stand her in a vase to absorb it. Glycerin is expensive and this is most practical for small batches. Either way is a lovely option!
My home is filled with light, which I love, but one of my challenges is finding a place out of direct sunlight to for the drying process. Here she is in my hallway, filling the upstairs with her delightful fragrance! She's delighted me all summer and will continue into fall and winter!
The miracle of a single seed never ceases to amaze me!
Gregory Thompkins and Friends
Gregory Thompkins, playing saxophone and leader of the jazz band, Robert Shahid on drums, Justin Taylor on keyboard, Calaire Daaley joined them from NYC on baritone saxophone, Steve Zerlin on bass and Carl Filipiak on guitar.
Each musician is extraordinarily accomplished with a mastery in their field. Together, they took the music to an even higher level.
The gardens at the Rawlings Conservatory at Druid Hill Park in Baltimore, MD were a perfect back drop for a night of musical entertainment. Gregory Thompkins and Friends shared their extraordinary talents for over two hours of jazz.
"There's rosemary, that's for remembrance", Shakespeare's Ophelia reminds us.
Herbs are delightful in so many ways - fragrance, flavor, visually. When we add symbolism, and they are gifts from a friend, it lifts them to an even higher level.
My friend Janet is moving and she is sharing special gifts with friends as she downsizes. She took my class on Enhancing Your Life with Herbs and she knows how I love them, so she offered me a set of herbal pots. In addition, she brought a bag filled with colorful beads, two copies of Flow magazine, a favorite, and a book on Ancient Herbs for the J. Paul Getty Museum.
This morning I transplanted oregano, rosemary and basil from my garden to the pots. The herbs seem to know they've gotten a reprieve from winter's cold and are happily looking out the dining room window at their less fortunate friends, still in the garden. If only I had a greenhouse and could bring them all indoors.
Thank you Janet! These delightful gifts are not only today's treasures, but will be loved and enjoyed for a long time to come.
"My mission is
to help others see and cherish the beauty,
romance and treasures within and around them
that are often dismissed or completely overlooked."
Mikell is a writer, artist and professional treasure hunter, finding the greatest treasures in the wonderful people who enter her life!