Be silenced by majesty. It is found seated on a wooden pew, in a tiny church, light fractured through glass. It floats as hope in disaster. It’s carried on the wings of a Mourning Dove, on a path bullet-straight.

Ground your feet on the shoreline, at the edge of water and sand. Feel the water’s pull against your toes. Let the wind rage as it pushes against your body. Hear the waves crash. Cry at the salt’s sting. Carry more questions than answers. Look up. Be willing to be small.

Pray. There was a time, I tried prayer, believing if God only listened, he would grant my one wish, which was to ease the weight they had placed upon my shoulders. Of course this isn’t how it works. In those moments, I would have traded my one gold watch and moonstone, for peace of mind.

Wonder. As a child, I found wonder tucked away, within the silence of a library. Beyond the heavy oak doors was a sense of order and a treasure trove of books. There was always a gate keeper- usually a prim lady, seated behind a wooden desk, its surface polished to high shine, her lipstick blotted.

Entering the room, she stares back. A fan blows. I look up. The air above her is misty. Shafts of light illuminate bits of dust. Each particle hovers and drifts, reminding me of dandelion moons on a springtime breeze. So beautiful if you take the time to pay attention.

Lemon- orange oil hangs like a veil. The lady waves a hand and nods, a sign of approval. She raises one finger to her lips. There are rules, Child.

I nod. Beyond her, is Utopia, a world of leather and paperback. Books of every genre, tales of fairies, mysterious events, and clues. Books, their jackets fresh, others worn, spines softened by fingers and time. Beneath the towering shelves, I look up.

She notices and appears at my side, fingertips sliding along the row, coming to rest at a dark covered spine. The letters are golden.

“Can you read?” Her voice is so soft and low I can barely hear her speak.

I nod.

She hands me Mark Twain’s, ‘Huckleberry Finn.’

“You look like a reader with those cat eye glasses on.” She reaches over and straightens the frame at my temple.

“Better,” she says. “Check out, when you’re ready, Hon.”

I watch as she walks back toward her desk, patent leather heels, clicking with each step taken.

***

It’s told, “artists possess beautiful secrets.” They do. Lifting a brush, I let it slip through paint. ‘Titanium White’ softens ‘Payne’s Grey.’ I show her my painting.

In silence, my mother tilts her head, studies the canvas. She asks, in a tone of doubt,

“You did this?”

I nod.

A secretive smile crosses her face. Words are unnecessary.

***

The Book Club recommends this month’s read. In darkness, I slip into the cushions of an over stuffed chair. Words drop me like stone onto the banks of southern swampland and into the heart of poverty. I lower my head. Silence is loud. Birdsong breaks dawn.

We’re a world that is slow to listen so I turn down the noise. Music floats through the Bose. A voice falls soft as summer rain, notes pitter- patter across my heart. Change is a motivator. Cupboards clear, creating space for only that deemed essential. Practical magic swirls in the kitchen. Heated shea butter mixes with vanilla. Lemon kisses heirloom rose. Cinnamon sprinkles oatmeal, an alchemy of scent. The refrigerator hums as I stir.

Everything stirs if you listen to whispers.

Photo by Nick Bondarev on Pexels.com

silence, wonder, humility, self-care, writing, draft

Lavender Oil Skin Serum

“There are some things, after all, that Sally Owens knows for certain: Always throw spilled salt over your left shoulder. Keep rosemary by your garden gate. Add pepper to your mashed potatoes. Plant roses and lavender, for luck. Fall in love whenever you can.” 
― Alice Hoffman, Practical Magic

I planted roses and lavender. Over the years, the vines climbed higher, blooms evermore fragrant. I lined the beds with lavender. Drowsy bees slept, deep within the stalks. Sally’s wisdom: “always add pepper to your mashed potatoes,” is a ‘must.’ And Sally- harvest your lavender. Strip the flowers from the stalks. Create practical magic in the kitchen.

Lavender or Lavandula Angustifolia, is a species in the mint family, commonly used in aromatherapy. The fragrance is believed to promote calmness and wellness. Pure Lavender Oil contains certain antibacterial and anti fungal effects. When lavender is combined with a carrier- virgin olive oil, it is in ‘pure’ form- a serum to soften and soothe skin. Serums penetrate deeply into the skin, therefore, one need only apply one to two drops.

In many specialty markets, lavender is sold in bunches. It’s easy to grow. Over time, one small plant will yield plenty of flowers. Snip the stalks to encourage new growth.

Harvest your lavender. Cut it, dry. Separate the flower from the stalk. A Suggestion: Use your finger tips (pointer and thumb) to slide the flower down the stalk. Place the flowers in a bowl. Some people suggest leaving the bowl in the sun to further dry the flowers. I skipped this suggestion. A spell of sunny, hot weather has left the lavender in my garden beds, dry. Note the lavender is beginning to grey. It’s perfect!

To make Pure Lavender Oil Serum, follow a two part ratio: Two cups of Virgin Olive Oil to one part lavender flowers. You can reduce the receipe amount to one cup virgin olive oil to half a cup of lavender flowers. Following a two to one ratio, makes a gentle, lightly scented, topical skin serum. Olive oil is the carrier. It reduces the potency of the dried lavender flowers. It’s important to read up on the chemistry of plants and oils. The photo shows my lavender yield- more than enough dried flowers for two cups of serum. Make small batches. You only need apply a drop or two of serum to skin. Store dried flowers in a clean, glass jar.

Materials

One sterilized* glass jar with lid

*To Sterilize Glass and Lid: Place jar and lid in a pot of boiling water for 15 mins. Cool before removing from the water. Set jar aside.

A measuring cup

Virgin Olive Oil- two cups

Lavender Flowers- one cup

A suitable, safe stove top pot

A strainer or muslin cloth

Heat Method:

Following the two to one ratio: Measure one cup of the lavender flowers and pour into the pot. Measure two cups of Virgin Olive Oil. Pour the olive oil over the lavender flowers. Turn on the stove element to the lowest heat setting. Let the lavender and oil warm for two hours. The element should be warm, never hot.

Always supervise and remain in the kitchen area while the element is on.

Turn off the element. Allow the lavender and oil to cool.

Strain the cooled lavender and oil into the sterilized glass jar. Using a spoon, press the bits that remain in the strainer. This helps to squeeze out all of the lavender’s oil from the flowers. Strain twice for a ‘clear’ serum without bits. It helps to place a pump spout on your jar, allowing for easy distribution of serum to smaller amber glass containers. Less fuss. Store Pure Lavender Oil in a cool, dark place.

• Always pre test a small area of skin and check for any allergic reaction to the serum. If a reaction occurs- STOP.

Label serum. Date it. Keep serum out of reach from little hands.

Strained Lavender Oil Serum: You can see from this photo that the above recipe makes close to two cups of serum. You only apply a drop or two to skin. I’ll pump this batch into smaller, sterilized amber glass jars with droppers.

Pat a drop or two of serum onto skin.

• You Tube has many ‘DIY’ videos on the topic: ‘Lavender Oil Serum’ for skin. Sof McVeigh has created a fabulous site.

• WebMD- http://www.webmd.com has articles on the safe use of lavender and other natural remedies, salves

https://www.thezoereport.com/p/oils-vs-essential-oils-the-biggest-differences-the-most-popular-uses-more-19442788

https://www.thezoereport.com/p/oils-vs-essential-oils-the-biggest-differences-the-most-popular-uses-more-19442788

Soap Dreams

Lavender Lemon and Oatmeal Sweet Almond

 What is elegance? Soap and water!
~ Cecil Beaton

Especially if you add lavender. Need convincing? Purple is the colour of royalty and speaks of refinement and luxury. We can all be Queens. Lavender flowers represent: purity, silence, devotion and grace.

Consider an affair with soap. COVID19 has heightened our collective awareness. It’s necessary to break the barrier. Lather. Slow the process. Rinse.

You say, “Oh it’s just soap.”

For me, it’s personal. When you choose a particular brand or scent, thought is present. When you make soap, you infuse a touch of love.

Turn up the music. Assemble ingredients. Think ‘clean.’ Choose ‘pure.’ Dream of Provence in July.

The art of handmade soap is a creative medium. There’s room for individual expression. Google ‘heat and pour’ soap kits on You Tube. You’ll find how- to videos and tips for any formulation.

Shy away from lye: sodium hydroxide (NaOH). It’s caustic and chemistry. If you choose the lye route, take a soap making class from an expert. Simple, safe, ‘heat and pour’ soap kits are available in the Craft Aisle or select specialty shops. Keep soap making utensils separate from everyday use. Keep chosen ingredients simple.

‘Simple Serenity’ Shea Butter, Glycerin is the kit I chose.

https://canada.michaels.com/en/artminds-soap-making-shea-butter-soap/10418419.html?cm_mmc=PLASearch--google--MICH_Shopping_CA_N_CatchAll_N_N_N_N-_-Generic&KPID=go_cmp-6523310328_adg-78089271573_ad-383778177991_pla-293946777986_dev-c_ext-_prd-10418419&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIoZ6QzJiF6gIV-xitBh3BpgUhEAYYASABEgLL0_D_BwE

I ordered the premixed kit online from ‘Michaels,’ used curb- side pick up.

You’ll need silicone or plastic molds to pour the heated liquid into. Molds are available on- line or in- store at ‘Michaels’ or ‘Hobby Lobby.’ Others re- purpose worn silicone ice cube trays or loaf pans.

Pure essential oils add fragrance notes. Layer. Select everyday items from the kitchen (lemon zest, sweet almond oil, honey, oatmeal) or garden (lavender, peony or rose petals).

You will need,

• one melt and pour soap kit (‘Simple Serenity’ is the brand I chose.)

• one glass measuring cup or double boiler

• pure essential oil: lemon, lavender, rose, vanilla, clary sage, green tea and cucumber. Choose unscented or ‘notes’ that you sense and feel.

• sweet almond oil, honey

• Grate lemon rind onto a paper towel. Cover the peel with an overlay of paper towel. Gently press out excess moisture.

• Grow lavender (for luck). It’s abundant and easy to dry. Pull the florets from the stocks. Between the lemon zest and lavender, your kitchen will be as fragrant as fields in France.

Follow the directions on the instructional video or the kit. Cut six soap cubes from the shea butter slab and place into a glass measuring cup. Microwave for 30 sec. Stir with a wooden spoon or chopstick. Be careful as heated liquid is hot.

Work quickly. Have additional ingredients prepped and ready. Once you’ve added your chosen ingredients, pour the warm liquid into the mold. Let cool. Place mold in the freezer or fridge for a few hours. This helps the soap fully harden. Apply gentle pressure on the back of the mold to release.

Even the simplest bar is beautiful.

“A girl could lather up in a soap like that.”

~Becca Fitzpatrick

Total cost: approximately 30 dollars

Yield: 8 bars of homemade soap

Bring Light

“Better to light a candle than to curse the dark.” ~ Chinese Proverb

Light and Sage
Sage Meets Light

Bring Light. It’s a form of meditation, to strike a match and watch a flame. Soy candles are simple creations. Collect suitable containers from Thrift: silver sugar bowls, Mason jars, and vintage glass are beautiful choices. Choose your favourite natural, scented oils. Three cups of wax equals one large candle. 

Hint: Chopsticks hold and centre the wick in place. Set overnight. Trim the wick. 

🖤 

Always use caution around a flame.

Hint: Sometimes, I push in lavender and the last of the rose buds, foraged from the garden.

Hint: Collect vintage or ‘word’ matchboxes to add with your gift of light.

@Michaels or Hobby Lobby


Unstaged Light

Simple Style

Cinderella coveted

~ serve yourself

a tub tray. Therefore, she fashioned one.

You can do it, too.

Measure the width of your bath tub.

Salvage. She found a plank of discarded fencing, aged is better. Cut to desired length. Grab a belt sander (her favourite accessory) and sand off the slivers and lichen.

Apply one or two coats of White chalk paint ( Annie Sloan https://www.anniesloan.com).

Stencil a royal touch (she will find her crown).

Sand again.

Wax. (Annie Sloan Clear Chalkpaint Wax.)

~ fit for a Queen

 

my darling, may you live happily ever after”

Starter Plants

At last. Spring has arrived to the west coast.  Over at the alice and molly castle, I plant. Some mornings call for mindless pursuits, such as placing a succulent into a tiny planter, in between sips of black coffee, all the while, catching sun beams.

Succulents, or, “starter plants,” are the perfect choice for a mindless morning planting in a potted garden.

The truth is, succulents are for lazy gardeners who prefer simple yet artful plantings. Foolproof, these laid back little lovelies, are easy to grow. I call them, Keepers, as they have been known to live for decades. These babies thrive and can be passed throughout the generations. (My grandmother’s Christmas cacti, is edging upwards of thirty-one years. It’s a timeless reminder of her gentle touch.) Imagine your next family gathering. Send the clan out the door with a cutting from dear old gran’s plant.

Forgiving little beauties, succulents are low maintenance. Allow the plants to dry out between watering. Choose from different shapes and a variety of colours, ranging from dark green, blues, to pinks.

Place your chosen succulent near a sunny window or outside in a bright spot of garden. Sculptural, succulents show off in a variety of containers or rockery edgings. For a swish look, plant a succulent in a silver sugar bowl. If farmhouse style is more to your liking, place a grouping of terra-cotta potted succulents into a low wooden crate. Plant in chippy tea cups. A vintage tobacco tin redeems itself with a succulent’s touch. The big idea is to mix it up. High, low, vintage, modern.

These little, affordable pretties are sure to delight. So go on~ plant a few.

 

~ fool proof gardening
x

 

 

Words and Wisdom

Quote

Certain words or phrases collect and layer. Inspirational bits of wisdom for those less than confident moments when I forget to fly and instead, trip and  fall. Which is literally what happened. Rushing up the stairs, I caught my foot on the edge of a safety gate and flew. For a brief second in time. Walls shook. The crash was not gentle.

To distract my brain from an aching body, advil and creative pursuits were necessary. That’s how it works for me- find comfort in a project.

For this project I used only what I had “at hand.” The wooden board is from Michael’s.

http://www.michaels.com/artminds-beveled-wood-parenthesis-plaque/10265841.html#q=wooden+plaques&pmpt=qualifying&sz=24&start=31

I painted the board with trusted Annie Sloan Pure White chalk paint.

“Print” a quote and slip it (right side up) over a sheet of graphite paper. Pencil the letters of the quote through the graphite. Once transferred to the painted board, you’re ready to outline the quote’s letters with paint. Use a fine tipped brush and a graphite or black shade of craft paint. When dry, lightly sand.

And yes, I fall. This sign is a gentle reminder to get back up and try again.

Quote Sign IMG_0165

About A Door

FullSizeRender-3

Years ago I discovered this door at an auction. The auction site was far from the city and “Junking” wasn’t the swishy chic business that it is today. I can not explain the allure to vintage. It is a portal to the past. Perhaps “old”appears truer, faithful, stronger. Or do certain pieces conjure an emotional response? Mirrored moments of love lost, coveted memories, and poignant sorrow from regret. That which we toss or lose, from people to things.

All of the above musings ring true. I also appreciate the dedication to craft, whether it be writing, painting, music or woodworking. The rewrites, brushstrokes, the sound bites, the turn of a leg or the dove tailed edges of a drawer, all suggest old world quality and showcase the artisan’s passion. Maybe it’s the passion piece that grabs, an ageless love that forever shines.

Yet what is it about a door? Throw open the door to reunion. Boot through the door in the heat of crime. Lock the door. Unlock it. Shut the door.

There is an old soul that lives in me. She flows through my eyes to show the house where the door once stood. “Open the door,” she whispers and my hand reaches forth to push upon the cracked ceramic plate. We stand in the kitchen, voyeurs of a life. She gestures to the heart of the room. A wooden table graces the centre. Flour is scattered on top,  a rolling-pin waits. We’ve come home.

***

I recall that day in the valley. The auction house was empty of people. Cast off pieces from lives lived dumped along hallways and atop sideboards. Did anyone care? The door leaned against a wall. Solid oak, it waited. Tall amidst a short pile of old metal watering cans, wooden handled rakes and a box of battered licence plates, it stood out-of-place. There was something bespoke about its simple yet majestic presence. Was it the art deco glass that elevated the door from humble to proud?

I paused, fell in love, tossed in a bid and left with a door.

Sadly, I left the door in an aging shed. For thirty years it lay on a wooden floor.  Forgotten, it languished in darkness, gathering dust. Spider egg sacs clung to the edges and nestled in the crooks and crannies. Moisture weathered the finish. It waited for someone to remember.

Until yesterday. Yesterday I wrestled it into the light. Gently, I cleaned and polished the glass, dusted off the egg sacs and sanded the oak.

Magic flowed and imagination sparked. We entered into a dance of sorts. My hands held the sandpaper block as fingers pressed and moved in step with the oak grain. I stepped away and judged. Far too lovely to lay dismissed in a shed.

An architectural piece, it will serve as a symbol of hope, “One door closes, another opens.” Its quiet presence states, grace others that stand on the threshold.

What is this door’s story?

I envision a rambling estate in the English countryside. Laughter rings from the cutting garden. Wee children flit as fairies do amongst the hollyhocks and sunflowers. A man walks the  long gravel path to the once well appointed home. He lifts his hat and knocks upon the door. It opens…