There's a ton of research on color and emotion and maybe we're hardwired to respond more positively to certain colors. I like to think the magic is in our head and our brains just love blue. Ecologists observe different birds for indicators of environmental health. We can study habitat quality, pollution levels, biodiversity and disease, all through watching birds. There are three species of Blue Birds spanning across most of North America and it is possible to attract them to our neighborhoods.
Now is the time to install Blue Bird houses and in the links below there's a plan to build a proper house that will encourage the birds to nest while offering protection from predators. There are a few specific details to follow so pay attention to the plans. We're building Blue Bird houses this Valentines Day and I also made these organic cotton toy versions for little kids on Etsy. Kids love Valentines Day. They are so happy exchanging affectionate messages with their classmates. Valentines Day is the happiest of all in-school celebrations and kids will love making houses for the happiest birds.
Making Seed Bombs is a fun group project that creatively recycles paper scraps and encourages environmental stewardship. Most wildflower seeds are easy to sprout and we used Gaillardia, Mexican Blanket seeds because our garden is full of them; they require very little effort and are a good source of food for bees and butterflies. Other seed bomb ingredients can include basic paper pulp to more sophisticated clay and compost mixes. This mix is a perfect environmental art project for small children and these paper pulp seed bombs and paper plantables are an easy way to begin.
Directions: Organize the paper scraps according to color and soak each color in a bowl of water. Once the shreds are soggy, filll a blender halfway with water, add a small handfull of paper and blend. Pour the sloppy mixture through the strainer add native wildflower seeds and squeeze out excess water by forming little balls, filling molds or cookie cutter shapes.
We made seed bombs for our local park's nature center and used cookie cutters to make plantable tags for our local high school's silent auction gift baskets. You can be creative combining different colors of pulp into the molds. Find more inspiration from artisans and makers around the world on Etsy and here's a simple Paper Pulp Seed Bomb DIY video to help get you started.
Thai Bohemian Elephant Calendar 2019, Spoonflower.
Metalic fabric pen, Dharma Trading Company.
Using a small emboirdery hoop, add floss, sequins, beads & tassels.
Stitch a narrow hem down the sides and casings for half inch dowel rods at both ends.
Climate Change, rising global temperatures and habitat destruction threatening the lives of Polar Bears are overwhelming concepts for a child. Children naturally care about everything. Here's five ways to nurture those instincts and focus on doing good.
1.) On the next family trip to the grocery store, let the kids say no to plastic at checkout.
2.) This school year avoid the car loop completely. Let the kids organize a bicycle group and be the parent that chaperones.
3.) Recycle religiously. Keep a seperate container inside the house for paper and non-food items and let the kids be responsible for taking it out.
4.) Take meatless monday one step further and let the kids photograph their plant based protein meal. Share it on social media and let the kids engage with friends who compliment their efforts.
5.) Buy less. Let the kids subscribe to commercial free television so they don't learn to want things they dont need. Help them shop for things that do good for the environment. Let the kids support organic and sustainable products. Stay away from stores that tempt children and go instead to the park for recreation.
I am absolutely in love with these new designs available on Spoonflower.com! I created these super simple and clean fabrics to coordinate with my organic cotton toys on Etsy. I am honored to be a part of the special moments in peoples lives and the good that I can contribute with a simple idea and perfect quality fabrics.
Contact me about custom designs for the nursery, baby shower and birthday gifts.
"Aesthetically, minimalist art offers a highly purified form of beauty. It can also be seen as representing such qualities as truth (because it does not pretend to be anything other than what it is), order, simplicity and harmony."
"It favors cool over dramatic and emphasizes anonymity over expressive excess."
" It is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom."
"The hallmark of the experiential minimalist is a belief that the pursuit of experiences is more universally important than the pursuit of things."
Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year!!! Expect to find quite a few changes when our etsy shop reopens. This Chinese New Year will honor the Dog. We will continue to honor the magic of our own unique creative spirit by doing things a little differently and welcoming Cats! Pictured here: GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) Certified Black French Terry Fabric and GOTS Certified Raw Organic Cotton Stuffing, Green eyes and pink nose are hand stitched embroidery floss. Thanks to everyone who helped make 2017 so great. See you in 2018!
It is said to be TCM's most prescribed herbal preparation. TCM herbalists harvest the bark and flowers to prepare tinctures and teas that promote a sense of well being. Some people report experiencing a sense of euphoria.
I love to lay in the hammock in the shade of blooming Mimosa. It is nicknamed the Happiness Tree appropriately. The fragrance smells so good that it encourages deep yoga breaths calming the mind and creating a tranquil scene for an exotic butterfly show. In my neighborhood, Citrus and Magnolia trees raise caterpillars who emerge from their chrysalis' as giant hungry swallowtails and they love to feed on mimosa flowers. Fluttering in place, one blossom at a time, they dance around the tree. See the video posted below of Swallowtail Butterflies gathering on Mimosa. Last summer, I prepared tea from the flowers and served Happy Tea to neighborhood moms. This summer I picked flowers, stripped some bark and decided to preserve it.
Non-alcohol tinctures are made with glycerin. I've made glycerites before when our family lived off grid in Central America. I learned the process from Strictly Medicinal's "Making Plant Medicine". Fresh herb and glycerin mixtures should sit in a dark corner for at least two weeks while being shaken up once each day. Strain the mixture through cheese cloth, separate the plant matter and pour the remaining liquid into an amber glass bottle. Use an eye dropper to add a few drops into an ounce of water. Glycerites have a shelf life of up to 12 months.
See the pictures and links below for more detailed information about this powerful herb.
Sea Turtle Walks: Florida Summer Nights
Eco tourism in Florida has gained much popularity in recent years and this year, our local group, the Sea Turtle Preservation Society, completely sold out it's guided "Turtle Walks" at three different locations for the entire nesting season! There are many organizations in Florida hosting similar events. For a small fee, guests watch an information video presentation and take a walk with an experienced volunteer to (hopefully) witness a real live Sea Turtle laying her eggs. It's probably the coolest thing your kids will do all summer. See the links to reserve space on the expedition!
Organic Stuffed Animal Dolls
Imaginary Earth Friends made with certified organic plush soft cotton, shimmering peace silk, magical details. Choose happy alpaca fiber or certified raw organic cotton stuffing. Enter the Christmas in July Promocode: MAY46 for free shipping.
These non-toxic Certified Organic Cotton prints are perfect in every way. I'm combining them with thick plush organic cotton on the inside of my stuffed Bunny's ears and on the topside of matching baby blankets. I'm taking a break this summer from May to August and the Etsy Shop will be on Vacation Mode. Enter the PromoCode: B4IGO and receive Free 2-3 Day Priority Mail Shipping on all orders placed before 4/30/2017. Thank you and have a great summer:)
Independent designs from left to right by: Marketa Stengl, Sarah Walden, FlyingFish, Indybloom & Andrea Lauren.
Organic Baby Dragon
I just love my new Dragon. Almost as perfect as the baby, it's made with the finest materials, inside and out.
1. GOTS Certified Organic Cotton dragon body sits about 10 inches tall and about 10 inches across the feet.
2. Hand-dyed with Low Impact Fiber Reactive Dye.
3. Stuffed with 100% natural and totally sustainable, happy Alpaca Fiber or GOTS Certified Raw Organic Cotton.
4. GOTS Certified Hemp and Silk Blend Inner Wings and Horns.
5. Hand-stitched silk embroidery floss eyes and claws.
I fell in love with alpacas after hand feeding them in Peru; where they've been domesticated thousands of years. Ancient Peruvians used "The Fiber of the Gods" to make clothing for royalty. Our fiber comes from a family owned ranch where happy alpacas are raised on over 400 acres of pesticide-free land, ethically sheared each spring, and cared for as beloved pets:) Stuffing is also available in GOTS Certified Raw Organic Cotton.
Baby Dragon's magical wings, horns & body are hand-dyed with Low-Impact, Fiber-Reactive Dye, which bonds with the fabric at a molecular level and does not wash out. Low-Impact, Fiber-Reactive Dyes are preferred by many organic clothing manufacturers because there's a rainbow of vibrant color options and they meet all European Union criteria for being an eco-friendly pigment. Because these dyes actually form a molecular bond with the fabric there is no residue left behind allowing the fabric to pass organic certification tests.
Throwback Thursday: Towering Sunflowers
In 2008 it was a girasol, spanish for sunflower. Thank goodness for these pictures or else I might not believe it myself. The earth was perfect for a garden in the woods. Dack cut a few trees to use as beams for the roof and furniture for our house. I dug the remaining stumps and their roots out of the ground myself– manually. I used a pickax, a shovel, a handsaw and a lot of time. It took weeks. But what a sense of accomplishment! I planted about a half acre of Tulsi and it thrived along side famed Pau de arco and many other prized medicinals from Strictly Medicinal Seeds. So here's the proof: You can turn an ugly old tree stump into a magical flowering garden. And if you don't think you have the heart for the pickax, you could try this DIY method for manual tree stump removal using Epsom Salt:)
Kokopelli Yard Art
Before & After
We found those two huge black Kokopellis below in the neighborhood on trash day. I wondered if they were homemade out of starboard or if they were manufactured. I really liked the shapes and thought the material was perfect for outdoors. They were very light weight and so we decided to carry them home (on our bicycles) and paint them. Kokopelli is a fun loving Native American deity who presides over agriculture and childbirth. Many ancient cultures believe Kokopelli was a trader and gifted story teller who connected distant and diverse communities. We painted them in a high-spirited fashion by blending Acrylic paints and adding millions of stars. They're now hanging on our back yard fence connecting our fun loving family to the endless possibilities of the magical universe:)
Sprouting Sweet Potatoes:)
No Such Thing as a Weed
This is young Peppergrass. Clusters of white delicate flowers sprinkle the lawn and every one loves it. "What is that?" They all what to know. Then it matures, goes to seed and they all want me to rip it out. Ain't that the truth of it all. No. Let it live a full life and celebrate all the stages. Border the area with proper scalloped edges and guard against gas guzzling weed eaters. "There's no such thing as a weed!" The truth is, this is a die hard weed to most people. You can't kill it and even if you try, it comes back with a vengeance sprouting back two, for each one you chop.
Something so resilient deserves careful examination: Poor man's peppergrass, Lepidium virginicum is an ancient edible plant containing protein, vitamin A and a good bit of vitamin C. There's also medicinal applications against Entamaoeba Histolytica Trophozoites, tissue eating parasites whose infections are deadly! This "weed" also has very powerful relatives. It's cousin, the famous Maca is massively cultivated in Peru, for certain medicinal purposes. And there's another reason: See here below left: That's a Great Southern White (Ascia Monuste) Butterfly and below right, those are her freshly laid butterfly eggs.
You've probably heard of Ascia Monuste, despite the pure white appearance, she's considered a dangerous pest. She does have a nasty side. Destroying cruciferous crops by the tons, farmers don't really love her. She also lays her eggs on many plants in the Brassicacea family, like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. Her children hatch, eat the leaves they were laid on and they can down a whole row in no time. What if peppergrass were a solution? We could relocate them here. Welcome natural predators like wasps, lady bugs and ants, who feed on white butterfly larvae and help equalize the environment.
Adult Great Southern White butterflies are a beautiful sight during summer, sometimes migrating in swarms. They're also a great example of a migrating species that only moves in one direction! Following the sun, chasing summer, only moving forward and never to return. Sounds dreamy, lets keep them.
Pages 20, 22 & 23 of this free ebook explain how some children's plastic baby dolls and stuffed animals are linked to some children's diseases. That's why we love our organic, sustainable toys at https://www.etsy.com/shop/barefootprincessita?ref=hdr_shop_menu
Trick or Treat Jaguar Coat & Mittens
Turn a women's size M jacket into a girls size 9 winter coat and mittens.
The Trick: Keep it buttoned it up while removing the side seams, arms and excess at the bottom. Remove the collar with a seam ripper. Re-size using her favorite non-stretch shirt as a guide, re-assemble and use the bottom excess for mittens.
The Treat: Found it at an Estate Sale for three dollars.
Summer 2014: In The Garden
This is our second summer here. We've been remodeling the little 1950's abandoned block house, foreclosure-built-on-a-sand-pit, off South Tropical Trail in Merritt Island, Fl. I guess it's official; we're back in it, public school, 9 to 5, mortgage and all that goes with it. Somethings never change. Dack is remodeling the house. I'm digging in the dirt, amending the sandpit with oak leaf compost. Basically, I'm raking my neighbors yard. I'm all about basic. Between a warm blanket of the Banana and Indian Rivers, this area is known for growing tropical species. Here are some pictures of what's growing good at our place, courtesy of regular afternoon thunderstorms.
The banana tree (top middle) was just a foot tall when we planted it. Everything else was started from seed. The front yard is covered (in a wild and unorganized way) with Mexican Blanket Flower, Native Florida Cassia, Periwinkles, California Zinnias, Yarrow, Dill Weed, Tropical Milkweed, Candlestick Cassia and Snow Queen Hibiscus (from the neighbor's cuttings:) . Lilo and Stitch ( 170 pound English Mastiffs) won't let me put anything in the back unless it's bigger than them. So, everything "special" is potted up in the front and transplanted to the back when it's big enough. This has yet to happen. Jiao-gu-lan/ Immortality (bottom right) is potted in the shade of the banana's. It's a metabolism boosting adaptogen I love to eat everyday. That's Goji (bottom left), started from a teeny weeny seed. The taller plant is about two years old and I made the second one by "layering." Candlestick cassia (top right) inspired "Fly Away Happy", brings butterflies and feeds their caterpillars... and Cardinals and Blue Jay's and Mockingbirds- lol. Dwarf Poincianas "The Pride of Barbados" (bottom middle), are still just a few inches in height, but branching out beautifully in their safe little pots.
The backyard garden is a fenced-in corner with Alan Chadwick's famous Cherry Tomatoes and Wild Florida Blackberries on the fence behind them (top right), Stars and Moon Watermelon (top middle) and insect/snake repelling Lemon Grass (top left). Cucumbers (bottom left) are starting to climb the fence and the peppers aren't big enough yet to photograph:) My favorite tea herb Tulsi/Holy Basil is in there too. But, not like it's supposed to be. It just won't grow the way it did in Costa and I can not bear photographing such minute amounts. The Morning Glories (bottom middle & bottom right) are from last year's seed harvest. They're supposed to be climbing the string to make a fort for Maya. But, they're outside the fence and it's not going exactly as planned. Who knew dogs ate Morning Glories? Have a great Summer. Bloom where you're planted!
Taming Wild FLorida Blackberries
Rubus argutus, native to South Eastern North America, is a member of the Rose family and produces delicious little fruits loaded with fat burning phytonutrients and cancer fighting antioxidants– score! Often confused with Wild Black Raspberry, distinguish them apart by a cone shaped hole in the fruit after picking it. Raspberries have this little hollow. Blackberries don't. One of the National Wildlife Federations top "Ten American Native Plants You Can Eat" grows wild in my backyard and if left unchecked, it can take over. See these links. It's possible to tame them.
Bats are moms too.
We built a bat house for Mother's Day. I'm sure it wouldn't have happened without the holiday prompt. Bats have a nasty reputation, they've been villainized and exterminated mercilessly over the years. But they're so beneficial! One bat can consume 500 to 1000 mosquitoes in a single hour. We should be encouraging that behavior and they're cute too! I found this easy bat house plan at the Bat Conservation Website, we used up some of the scrap wood we had laying around the house and had fun decorating it.
Butterfly-Conservation.org presents...The Big Butterfly Count, 2013
The Big Butterfly Count for Butterfly Conservation is happening now in the UK, July 20 through August 11. They've developed a free smartphone app to track sightings of day flyers and there's a butterfly photo contest. We love the organized effort to bring attention to our favorite species. Here's the link.
Tulsi, Holy Basil
When we started growing Tulsi many years ago, we had no idea it was a Hindu Goddess in plant form, considered sacred and worshiped for over 5,000 years. Thriving in our tropical conditions, something in it smelled divine. Native to India, it's the primary herb of Ancient Ayurveda known as "The Queen of Herbs." When introduced to Christian's, they named it Holy Basil. In the class of Adaptogens, alternative medicine calls it "a highly intelligent herb." Adaptogens help normalize body functions, boost immunities and deal with stress. It helps relieve anxiety or boosts metabolism and energy levels. However your physiology needs adjusting...it knows. Grown in every Indian home, Tulsi tea brings spiritual enlightenment.
I'm a mom of two perfect kids and two fluffy English Mastiffs named Lilo & Stitch. I love to research, write, draw, paint, plant seeds, raise butterflies and make things! My Etsy is all organic and handmade by me. Our family loves the outdoors and so it's important that I contribute to a healthy environment and clean water by choosing sustainable materials.
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