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.
Promocode: May 46
In the second week of our sailing holiday, our daughter Maya had quite a free thinking moment. She asked what the exact date was and then she said; "It feels like May 46th!" I hope everyone is enjoying their own endless summer in their own special way. Enter the PromoCode "May 46" and receive free shipping on all orders placed before the end of July. Happy Summer! Happy May 46th!
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:)
Ice Dye Sungown, 2016
This year's sundress has a full gathered skirt and criss cross straps in the back. "It's like a ball gown." Maya loves it and here are all the links you'll need to make one for your princess. For this dress, I love Organic Cotton Sateen from Organic Cotton Plus.
I cut it out first then ice-dyed it with Low Impact Fiber Reactive Dye in Baby Blue, Bahama Blue, Peacock Blue and Deep Space from Dharma Trading Company. I had to try the Ice-Dye technique after seeing an Anthropologie DIY. I scrunched and arranged my fabric pieces carefully with bodice at the top, skirt pieces long ways and straps laid out at the bottom. Applying the color from light to dark, I started at the bodice top with Baby Blue and ended at a the bottom of the skirt and straps with Deep Space.
Caution: The hardest thing about Ice-Dye is leaving it alone while it melts down. This is all about patience and I love the marbled effect we achieved here. It's a perfect dress for tomorrow's Riverfront picnic, fireworks and symphony orchestra. Happy Fourth of July!!!
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.
2014 Brevard County, Florida Science Fair
It's Fall in Florida – feels like a second spring. While most plants and trees are loosing their leaves, evergreen native cassia is just beginning to bloom. By Christmas, walls of dense overhead shrubs will be completely covered with clusters of bright yellow flowers (left). Sulphur butterflies choose these as the host for their caterpillars. Also known as Winter Cassia or Butterfly Bush; it's a staple for the Florida Gardener. The first cold snap will shatter the pseudo spring illusion. But it wont last long. After the winter blooms fade, notice the green pea shaped seed pods forming. Let them hang there until the pods are completely brown and dried out all the way to the stem. My last year's guerrilla seed harvest, off the side of the road, are just begging to bud (bottom left). It's a typical November day. 78 degrees, sulphur butterflies are laying eggs and we're raising their caterpillars in total denial (bottom). Spring, it's right around the corner!
Paint it blue.
It was a scene at the home improvement store as Maya and I, pleaded our case to Dack for this outdoor paint. We wanted this beautiful color on the outside of our house: "It's for the Cassia and the Sulphurs! They'll look so pretty in front of the turquoise!" Large Yellow and Orange Sulphur Butterflies lay their eggs on yellow flowering Cassia plants. This tropical Candlestick Cassia grows wild in the woods of Costa Rica and it also does great here in Central Florida! We started these seeds last Christmas and brought them in during every threat of frost. In Spring, we transplanted the saplings underneath all the front windows to make a hedge and a haven for our favorite things. We painted the house in May. Now, it's all coming together. The Cassia brings the yellow butterflies to the windows, we enjoy their fluttering from the living room sofa and the turquoise colored house paint, makes a perfect, picture/memory.
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.
Don't be Bullied by the Bugs in Your Garden.
These toxic freeloaders have been taking advantage of you for far too long. You're just too nice; trying to do everything right, pure and natural. I understand. But, now, it's totally out of control and everything is at stake. There's nothing worse than watching your vegetable garden being terrorized by pests.
Set the nozzle on stream. Walk straight up to them. Be direct, take aim and spray it! Then, watch all those pathetic little parasites back down and away, like the cowards that they really are.
It's Neem and it's perfectly natural. Get those mean-spirited buggers off of your precious tomatoes and never let them back into your beautiful garden again. Neem, a tree from India, is a natural pesticide that's safe for humans and treats all sorts of other conditions; from acne to cancer. Find unrefined, cold pressed Neem oil, dilute one teaspoon of neem to 1 quart of water in a spray bottle and use it against all those undesirable insects.
Royal Poinciana....from seed.
August 2016: 3 years old and almost a shade tree.
July 2015: Two years of growth.
Royal Poinciana is endangered in the wild of it's native-land, Madagascar. It is alive because of people like me; people who love it. Delonix regia, also known as Flame tree and Flamboyant, is a member of the Fabaceae family, (aka Legumes) related to beautiful flowering trees–and beans. The history of legumes is tightly connected to human civilization. We plant the seeds and nurture them cultivating beauty and food from superficial nothingness in a kind of, soul-meets-ego, act of love– or need.
Royal Poinciana's seeds are locked up in an unsightly monster pod. In the wild, those pods fall at the peak of rainy season, float and soak in flood water. Rodents gnaw at the woody husks and unwittingly liberate the seeds. Mine fell into a twenty four hour, hot water soak and then I planted them in rich compost and kept them moist with rainwater. In May 2013, three sprouted.
A year later I put the saplings in our sandy, loamy and nutritionally-depleted, front yard. I lost one to an unfortunate lawn mowing incident. Then we had two. Every six months I feed them rich compost. Planting seeds of trees in the Fabaceae family is a wonderful way to add nutrients to a depleted area and bring shade to a yard. They are so fast growing. It's been only three years and mine are overhead now. They aren't flowering yet and that could take a few more years but I'm still happy to see the progress pictured here:)
May 2013: One month of growth.
Someday they'll look like this– elevated and fulfilled:)