Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Frog Pond

After spending a sunny day at the beach on the first day of summer, we went back to our camp site and I made this sun block to go in my "earth quilt" (using my hand dyed background, my hand stamped and dye painted nubby silk and hand woven sun's rays from Guatemala). After the beautiful day that night we had thunder storms and heavy rain (I love to sleep in the camper during a storm).

The next morning the twins made "stormy" pictures with my wool scraps and glue I brought out camping. They love to draw but this was a little harder, just cutting out pictures without drawing it first.

This first picture is a lightning storm with a tree, alligator, and a snake and red clouds.

The second twin working away. I was loving it!!!

And his picture, mountains (he found the precut triangles in my scraps) with two suns, a fence and lightning coming out of the clouds.

Little brother made one later (no picture of him). The big red spot in the middle with the yellow side is a lightning bug they learned about at the children's program with the rangers. They have the best nature programs for kids.

One day we went hiking and found this wonderful frog pond. (I've camped here off and on for 25 years and am still discovering new places). This pond was full of croaking frogs, turtles and most likely snakes. They set about trying to catch one of the frogs.

They found it wasn't easy, the frog would swim or jump away. We had a lot of wet and muddy shoes by the time they were done.
But in the end they caught one, which after everyone looked at it and watched it hop they put it back in the pond.

It made a nice idea for the next block in my earth quilt, not finished.

And the last sunset of our camping trip, but the kids are still here for two more weeks and we have a lot more nature exploring to do. Maybe a few more quilt blocks will come out of it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Camping in Michigan

My daughter and grand kids are home, we've packed up the trailers and went out to the campground. The kids are so excited they love camping. We have no t.v., DVDs, electronic games or radio, and everyone is having a wonderful time. This is a picture of our beautiful lake shore. We spend every afternoon here. (I had to come into work for a couple hours, we're very blessed to live 15 minutes from the campground, so while I'm here I thought I'd send out a blog).

Our campsites are right along this beautiful creek that empties into Lake Michigan.

When were not at the lake the boys are playing in the creek. One of the twins is learning to balance on the logs.

Big turtles hiding among the logs.

Swallow tail butterfly's land along the beach and "eat" from one of the minerals in the wet sand.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


.In our back yard by our brush pile we have an over abundance of stinging nettle, it's a awful plant that grows like crazy. Years ago it used to be made into fabric, the same long procedure as making linen. I read you could use it for natural dying so last weekend I gave it a try

With gloves on I picked enough for two pots, one stainless steel and one iron. I poured boiling water over and let them set overnight. The next morning I simmered the leaves for a couple of hours, then added the wool fabric.

I first bundle the wool with string, I love the mottled look I get when it's bundled and put in the dye bath dry. You get many different shades of color. I simmered it together for awhile.

After around 24 hours in the pot I washed out the fabrics. The gray green on the left came out of the iron pot and tan from the stainless steel. The green is a beautiful color in real life! I make small samples to test the new dyes then if I love them I dye a larger piece of fabric.

These are two greens side by side from my iron pot, left is nettle and right is carrot greens.

My good friend went to Hawaii and sent me this cute little bag. It was made using recycled vintage fabrics from Hawaii. The name of the store is Muumuu Heaven.

I have to show you this cute little project my friend at work made for me to put in a tomato plant, ( it's like the container you can buy for hanging tomato plants). He took a empty coffee container, drilled some holes in top to water the plant, put on a wire hanger.

On the bottom of the container he drilled a 1 1/2" hole for the plant to grow out of. I painted it with plastic paint. Filled the bottom with sphagnum moss to keep the plant from falling out, tucked the plants roots in from the bottom and filled the rest of the container up with good soil from the top. Watered well and hung them in the sun.

This is one on a shepherds hook. It's been in the pot for about a week and now the plants starting to grow upwards. Well see what happens when the tomatoes come on.

And another one hanging on a hook at the back of our house.

Last night was our herb meeting, this month it was held at the Utopian Marketplace, the topic was organic gardening. It was very informative. The store/restaurant has beautiful herbal arrangements around. This is a few of them. A six pack on the front counter.

A 4 pack on another.

Another single bottle, the wonderful feathery herb in the background is bronze fennel.

This is a ceramic plate with rocks glued on. Clever ideas to use with you favorite beverage bottle.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Herb Festival

Our local health food store Utopian Marketplace had their 1st. annual Herb Festival last Saturday. Along with lectures, food samples from their deli, live music, and many demonstrations they asked me to demonstrate natural fabric dying. This is the back of their store with an outside deck that looks over their new big herb garden. (I forgot to take a picture of it), but I did take pictures of some of the neat things in the garden!

Along the path through the herbs they have these wonderful rocks laid out like the Sun. I can see this in my back yard coming soon.

Another Sun.

And a great bottle tree to catch the bad spirits.

Clever bird bath with stones in it.

This was my booth with 2 stoves and 4 pots of dye. I used onion skins, carrot tops, chamomile, and black walnuts to dye wool yarn. I wanted to use plants that are grown in our area. I had a little table also with some of my fabric and yarns I had previously dyed. And my herb quilt.
Herb, earthy people were very interested in natural dying. I did not sit down all day and many were interested in taking a natural dye workshop this summer.

The table covering I bought when I was in Peru going down the Amazon, it was natural dyed by the Natives living along the Amazon.

My vase of flowers on my table was very popular also, my husband made the birch bark vase and everyone loved it. The rose and greens came from my yard and the rest I picked up at the farmers market.

These are the most beautiful double layer bell shape flowers, ( I haven't had time to look up their name). Oh and the picture is upside down.

I wanted to show you some of the pots on their deck, they were filled with vegetables, herbs, and flowers. This green was kale mixed with pansies.

More pots filled with herbs and flowers.

Most everything was edible in the pots.

A pot of cabbage and herbs, and other with herbs and sunflowers (I don't think the sunflowers are edible).

These were beautiful pots with sage and different herbs. There was a lot of great ideas for pots instead of using the traditional annual flowers.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Memorial Weekend

We had a warm sunny weekend, which lent itself to all kinds of out door activities. I started out the weekend picking Comfry, it's a herb that I grew it to try using it for fabric dying. I tried dying with it last year and wasn't to excited with the color, I thought I'd give it one more try. It's the dark plant in the picture with the purple bell flowers. Farmers plant this to till over to put nitrogen in the soil. I emptied my left over plant and water in our vegetable garden.

This is the plant before I chopped up the leaves and simmered them in the dye pot.

I bunched and tied up a small amount of wool and put it dry in the pot. Simmered it awhile and let it set for a couple of days in the dye. It turned out a nice brown, (I've read it would be somewhat green). At the end of each summer I over dye all of my not so favorite fabrics with madder root, I not sure where this one will end up.

I finished my baby quilt for my nephew's new baby. I love putting the silk binding on as babies love to feel it.

Close up of the blocks.

We had a family picnic Saturday, this is a picture of the new baby with her great-grandma.

On Sunday my husband, son and I took our boat out on the river for the day. I packed a picnic and my camera. This is the main branch of the river.

And one of the tributaries that run into the river. I like boating through them as you see more wild life.

In the mid 1800's we were a booming lumbering town. Our State was full of large white pine trees. In our town they would chop them down, then float them down the river to the saw mills. After processing them they would load them on boats in Lake Michigan to send all over the country. Along the main branch of the river they had wooden pillon's with boards on top for the men to walk on and keep logs floating downstream. Whats amazing is they are still along parts on the river, some 150 years later.

Getting out of the boat at the end of our day I spotted this wonderful green frog.

  • Deb Hardman
  • Allie Aller
  • Jenny Bowker Cairo