Memorial Day, Remember why.


A day to remember those protect our nation and our freedom.
A day to connect with family as summer casts it’s golden spell on our country.
A day to enjoy company of friends and neighbors at the Village Parade.
A day to re-invent what all of this means…my youngest daughter, my son, my husband, my baby sister, her daughter, and my adorable neighbors were one family today…remembering, connecting, and enjoy all that the day had to offer here on our small farm. If you can’t be with all of your loved ones…remember them as you enjoy your re-invented family.
I love you all.
J.

as part of the Boston Holocaust Memorial, is a gathering of neatly placed cobbles…each one signifying a child”s lost life ~ when the Nazis murdered as many as one and a half million Jewish infants and children.

Boston statement - Copy
Freedom isn’t Free.
Each May, the United States celebrates a day called Memorial Day.
Does Memorial Day have meaning? I sure do hope so.

This weekend, as my husband dresses in his Fire Fighter’s Uniform, dressed in their best, they ready to march in our town’s parade in honor of those who gave so much for OUR FREEDOM . Across the country children and their parents gather for their Town’s Memorial Day Parade ~ little ones will sit on the sidewalks and wave their flags as the band goes by. Later, maybe, they’ll have a BBQ or a picnic at the lake or beach. And that’s good, because today is a day to be with the family and to remember
Boston names
“And we owe them something, those boys. We owe them first a promise: That just as they did not forget their missing comrades, neither, ever, will we. And there are other promises. We must always remember that peace is a fragile thing that needs constant vigilance. We owe them a promise to look at the world with a steady gaze and, perhaps, a resigned toughness, knowing that we have adversaries in the world and challenges and the only way to meet them and maintain the peace is by staying strong.
…..We must be strong enough to create peace where it does not exist and strong enough to protect it where it does.
Ronald Reagan,40th President of the United States

Boston North side - Copy (2)…..
”It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Abraham Lincoln,16th President of the United States ~ Gettysburg Address
Thank you all, who have given so much to preserve our Freedom and the Freedom’s of others.
God Bless America!
Pray for God’s blessing on America. Ask for God’s protection over all branches of our military
Be Well,
Jessica

You may need a weed. or dandelions, not just sunny face.


At the start of this years garden and yard cleaning season; I am thinking of all of the chemicals folks think they need. To have perfect lawn is not so perfect anymore, it come with its fair share of guilt. Doesn’t it? Round up, the most publicized weed killer, kills more than just the weeds, so we are finding out. It has been doing a number on bee populations as well. I was never one to use chemicals much anyway. Have you ever sat and watched your toddlers and young children frolicking on your freshly mowed lawn; only to have the sinking feeling come over you with a gust of hot air? Oh how lovely, look at my children rolling around in the poisons I just spread all over, is not a picture of parental bliss. Where was I going with this?

Oh, yeah, weeds. Some how we have the silly notion that nature has this all wrong, and we need to correct this mistake. . How dare Mother Nature throw weeds willy nilly all over our lawns! For crying out loud.

Weeds need love too and weeds can be beneficial; they can add fertilizer to your soil, increase moisture content, attract insects, and repel insects. Some are good to eat, some have medicinal benefits, some have both. Take the dandelion for instance, honey bees love them, they are a natural diuretic, and they can be eaten in salads or cooked. You can even use the to make dandelion wine, for goodness sake. THey help less hardy plants as well, their tough tap roots bring nutrients to the surface for neighboring plants to use.
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Dandelion greens are packed with vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A, C, E, & K, and calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium & copper. Dandelion greens are also about 14% protein, which is MORE protein per serving than spinach, Popeye’s favorite muscle-building food. Dandelion greens are especially beneficial for the liver and aid in flushing out toxins and remineralizing the body. It’s high beta carotene and flavonoid content also benefits the immune system and cardiovascular system. Dandelion greens are also one of the richest sources of plant-based Vitamin K and Vitamin A . If you pick them from a back yard, just make sure they have not been sprayed with any pesticides and wash in cold water before using. The leaves can also be dried and later used as a medicinal tea. So, go ahead, add a few dandelion leaves to your soup, salad, green juice, or smoothie.
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Or how about Purslane? I swear this stuff can grown in concrete! Purslane is eaten throughout much of Europe and Mexico. It contains more Omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable plant. It can be eaten in salad, stir-fried, or cooked like spinach. Widely used in traditional Chinese medicines to treat infections and topically to soothe and heal sores. A great companion plant for tomatoes and peppers. It breaks up hard soil and hardpan, brings nutrients and water up from deeper than crops can reach, provides healthy ground cover, stabilizing soil moisture.
PurslaneFeature

Alright, could someone please help me down form this soap box? I’m done, I’m done, I swear don’t leave me here…
0361.Soapbox(g).gif-610x0

Pint Sized Gardening.


I was asked a few days back for ideas around children’s gardens and gardening with children. Do reserve a space for “their” garden, do they help with small parts of the whole shebang, or do they have specific tasks? time to pull

My children helped with the whole thing. they helped start the seeds, they helped plant; well until they got tired. or hot, or thirsty, or hungry, or a butterfly fluttered past. You get the way things worked, right?
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downMy eldest daughter adored sunflowers, many were planted at our home and in her Poppa’s garden. She could not wait to pose for a picture with the humongous flowers towering over her diminutive, but oh so coordinated person. She was all of about 26 pounds upon entering kindergarten. Tiny but make no mistake – there is not a person or thing she was afraid of and she had a patented mad-walk to prove it.I think she could have registered that, holeh.

berrilicious
Justin loved the berries, luckily they grew wild, I could never have planted enough for him. WHen we went pay per pound berry picking at a nearby field, I always thought they should weigh him as he entered and disregard the basket he carried. The blue smile and belly clutching upon exiting was a tell tale sign.

garden carrots Jenn’s favorite was carrots, and we rarely had a carrot grow to maturity, she checked them so often to see if they were ready for her soup creations. These soups [and keep in mind at this point in time she was 4 - 5 years of age], contained any number of things, though not very much of anything, an underdeveloped string bean, a carrot the size of a pen cap, a few peas, some water, and maybe some lettuce. I always was granted a taste. You can only imagine the look of guarded enthusiasm as I partook of this culinary delight.

I think my point here is ,isn’t every garden a child’s garden if we let it be. If we let go of the controls for a bit, let them dig in, as little or as much as they wish. No your rows won’t be as straight, your harvest may not be the envy of the neighborhood; heck you may have tomatoes in your squash! Sometimes I stressed more than now I think prudent..with age comes wisdom so they say. I will be planting many raised beds her at the PIcasso’s , and I am yearning for those eager little hands to help. Childhood passes so quickly,but, I don’t wanna grow up!
Will

We did have some child-like structures in our gardens over the years, like sunflower forts, pole bean tee-pees, and plants to attract butterflies, there was one year this was particularly important. 097
Fairy gardens would be fun for little ones to create, I think. Or brightly painted tires, filled with salad or salsa fix ins; easy to weed and fun to do!

100.1

I am eager to start spring specials, put the soup pots up to rest; fill our plates with spring’s fresh bright culinary delights. Peas anyone?

Sunday, Sunday…


Sunday in our home town, is probably much like Sunday in your hometown. Church, followed by breakfast at your favorite spot. Home for some yard work or chores…Does anyone still have their traditional Sunday family dinner, I hope so. Now that we are at the Shoppe on Sundays, there is no time for a sit down Sunday dinner. Oh, I am not complaining, I love what I do, I love the people I have met, the friends I have made, and the atmosphere our family has created, a few people have commented, on this in particular; they thought it felt like an extension of their home, their dining room, kitchen or living room. This sounds just about perfect to me. Maybe we can’t have a sit down Sunday dinner here at Picasso’s but we are surrounded with family and friends, and that is almost as good. Don’t you think?

pansy and iris

Our Sunday Soup specials, Tuscan Sausage, with potato and kale (just as luscious as it sounds) and vegetable (loaded with veggie goodness)

Salad special Sunny citrus on mixed greens with red onion, cucumber herbs, served with our homemade honey lemon dressing. A bright spot in your day!

Smoothie: Mango tango (oh, yes, I just made that up) Mango, orange juice, pom juice, and vanilla yogurt! Shine on!

Special: Angel hair pasta with tomato pesto and topped with fresh grilled chicken! Served with a side salad or not!

Have a wondrous day, enjoy your friends and family!

Wow, that’s a lot of exclamation points! hee her.
Be well.

Gold, pure Gold.

Gold, pure Gold.

Remember when….A Wordless Wednesday.


Common sense and good nature will do a lot to make the pilgrimage of life not too difficult”
– William Somerset Maugham

Sophie, you are not a duck...

Sophie, you are not a duck…

Andrew, my sweet, sweet little neighbor. Oh, and Claire.

Andrew, my sweet, sweet little neighbor. Oh, and Claire.

dogs,chickens, and llammas oh my 5

Andy today

remember when...

a song

remembering

lovins

duo

Breez

girls

jenni .3

Andys

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.”
– Robert Frost, Two Roads

Be Well,
Jess

Are you and Alchemist?


Well, never-mind; you don’t need to be. It is all quite simple once you know the basics…we MUST know the basics.

Let’s talk mordants (just for a moment). Mordants are what I call binders..sort of like an egg in baking (right?) it holds the whole wretched mess together… a cohesive whole…if you will. If care is not taken to do this correctly…precious fibers/yarn could be ruined – or your barn, studio, garage…an explosive ending is not what we are after here.

Most dyes require a mordant; the mordant allows them to chemically bond to the fiber. Without them,the dye would simply sit on top of the fiber, rinsing off with each wash. The mordant chemically prepares and opens up the fiber to bond with the dye.

If you’re going to take the time to learn the basics of natural dying; be aware – this is not a quick project. Don’t rush, take your time (dare I say, enjoy the process) Don’t skip steps, as tempting as this may be, we are after quality results here…when the basics are conquered, results become more predictable, and the final results; well worth your efforts.

This is not a process to be shared with children, (there are kool-aid dyes for that) oh, and they are fun too; just be sure to use the kool-aid packet with out sugar.(no need to attract unwanted guests to the party..insects)

madder-sage- Photo from [Fleece on the duck]
The green shade was achieved by simmering sage with red basil. The liquid in the pot was purplish-red yet produced a khaki colored fiber. When lime juice was added the fiber brightened and became a soft sage green.

Take care not to breaht in the mordants whilst adding them to your pots…and for heaven’s sake; don’t directly breathe in the steam as it is processes. A little common sense goes a long way; so, gather your gloves, and find a mask some where. Go ahead, I’ll wait here.

a llama run to CT

Toxicity vs. amount used = low ratio – for a pound of fiber, you’re going to want to dilute around only 1/2 an OUNCE of mordant (with the exception of alum, which you’re going to need around 1-2 ounces. (although, Alum isn’t toxic ) Once the mordant bath is used up or weakened, it is pretty harmless.

A list of commonly used mordants ( not exhaustive by any means):

Alum (Aluminum Potassium Sulfate): Pretty much, alum is the easiest to find and use, it is less toxic, and it gives what we will call the “base” color. It doesn’t change the base color of your fiber. You can find alum, made by McCormick, in the canning or spice section at most grocery stores.
THis is a good option if you are dyeing by solar power.
You want to dissolve your alum in lots of hot water, put it in your chosen vessel (pot,enamel is best), crock-pot, whatever, place your fiber in the pot*, simple- dimple.

Copper (Copper Sulfate): Copper will turn your fiber a light aqua-to-greenish color. That could be fun. It can be used with yellows to get soft greens, to make blues and greens more turquoise, and to make warm tones.

Iron (Ferrous Sulfate): Ehhhhh, some people class this as a “color modifier” not a true mordant. Makes stuff greyer/darker. Used with indigo or logwood, or even sometimes walnut, to get black. Known in medieval dyeing recipes as “copperas”, SO DON’T ASSUME COPPERAS MEANS COPPER. You can pre-mordant with this like you normally would, but a lot of folks just use it after dyeing to grey it up. Used alone, iron will darken your fiber. I don’t ever use it by itself as a pre-mordant. I only use it with something else, or afterwards to modify.

And some less common, but still widely used ones are:

Chrome (Potassium Dichromate): *TOXIC* I don’t use it; but some dyers love the effects it can cause…(color me chicken)

Tin (Stannous Chloride): Brightens colors. Tin does not change the base color of your fiber. Tin will give you the brightest, clearest reds/yellows/oranges, and can be used with cochineal to give hot pink. It’s my most favoritest mordant ever because I like the bright shinies, and it turns the mordant bath opalescent. Oooooohhhhh, pretty.

a shiny sheep

HOW TO MORDANT

ALWAYS! ALWAYS! – have dedicated mordanting pots. NEVER EVER USE them for cooking after! Nod, that you understand. Might I also recommend that you work outside. Most of the natural dyes, I’m not terribly concerned about allowing in my home, many of them are herbs and spices that we already have in our home. I will not allow mordant in the house.

The basic method is this:

Dissolve your mordant in a pot of warm water(think room temperature), LOTS of water, you need to let your fiber have plenty of space to move around, or the mordant can’t attach everywhere, Use a non-reactive pot—enamel, no chips please, or stainless steel. Keep in mind metals are mordants, so using a cast iron, copper, aluminum will alter your results…you understand the dilemma. Now, set it on the burner,( I have a burner on the side of my gas grill, but they do sell propane burners) and add (presoaked, wet)fiber. Turn the heat source to medium, and let it sit for about 1/2 hour, (if you are like me, you will find it hard to wait, I wanna see it now!) Stir occasionally; oh, so gently, with a non-metal utensil of course…don’t agitate..no felting allowed here. Let the pot cool. Ok, now you can remove the fiber and RINSE (keep rinsing til you are sick of it) rinse some more. Keep in mind, the mordant has made a chemical change,rinsing won’t hurt it. Having excess mordant will. Those pesky molecules of mordant will dance about, holding on in all the wrong places…causing havoc with your color and finished results. Rinse people. It is ready to be dyed or it may be stored wet or dry, for later dyeing – if yo can wait. If possible, let it sit over night.

onion-skins
Fleece on the Duck ~ onion skins to dye fiber.

***If you use crockpots. Allow them to preheat. Water should be good and hot BEFORE you add fiber, and then leave it on the high setting for 1/2 an hour, just like on the stove. Always, rinse out your crockpots well. You do not want to allow deposits of metal salts to build up. This can cause crockpot explosions. If a crack appears..ditch it. If mordants get into the metal base the pot may shatter. Kind of neat to explode a crockpot, but nonetheless, a bad idea.

PREPARATION OF DYE-BATH
Place dyes (what ever dye medium you have chosen) into cold water and heat slowly. the smaller the particles- the better results…so break things up as best you can.
Most dyes need to be brought to a boil before color is extracted. Dissolve powders. Heat till color is drawn out…cool.(both physically,and metaphorically).Strain twigs, bark or other matter;you probably don’t want all that in your finished project.

DYEING
Enter wet wool into a tepid bath. Heat slowly. Gradual temperature changes, and gentle stirring prevent shrinkage and felting. keep the fiber or yarn in the dye bath until you are happy with the color. Or until the dye bath is exhausted, ( and hopefully, you are not) Do remember;colors are darker on wet fiber. Decide accordingly.
Allow the dye bath to cool before removing the fiber you have just dyed beautifully. Use care to gently, , I say, gently,squeeze fiber to remove dye liquids. Let’s rinse yet again…til it runs clear. Allow the fiber or yarn to dry.
Behold your creation!

So, now you know!
Be well,
Jess

Let It Snow-Man!


Things to love about winter…

Watching the snow fall covering everything with sparkling beauty.

The crunch of snow under my feet.

Sliding down the hill on a plastic or wooden sled, or even a piece of cardboard box.(Well, the card board thing didn’t really work out so well, I broke my leg in three places and was in the hospital for a week and a cast from my toes to my waist for 3 months, after i had the cast “reduced” to just the length of my leg, I fell down the stairs while racing my little brother Sean; broke the cast- and back to the hospital I went…. Yup, I was that child.)

The holiday lights that make the whole outside world look like a winter wonderland.

As temperatures dip, and the long nights take hold,(they are now on the upswing) Enjoy some of the things that only winter weather can bring. Without cold weather there would be no snow, no ice, no backyard skating rinks, no sledding, no snow forts to build,(my children used to paint their’s with spray bottles full of food color and water) and certainly no snow boarding! So, as long as it’s winter time, get out and have some fun,put on an extra layer, and head outside.
I have always wanted to build a skating rink in my yard, I will try this year; it’s going to be cold for the next couple of weeks.

snow man
Building a snowman, or watching a small child build one…

Drew boy
I think there must be an art to sledding…

snow fun

the walk
Do you remember the walk back up the hill…worth it every time.

Finni fun
Zooom…(uhm, not so much) putt,putt was more like it.

Andrew
Winter fun, never goes out of style.

waiting
Waiting for their turn…to shine.

home
I love the snow;with winter I feel close to home. We have our rituals and family dinners. And as I reflect, I smile at the nostalgia of my life.
Be well,
Jess

…kick off your shoes and dance in the rain; ‘cuz there is no snow.


May peace be your gift for this Christmas and the blessing of the Almighty be with you and the world to help us all make this world a better place. To make it a Christmas day everyday of the year.

snowy morning in December 5

May the spirit of Christmas bring you peace,
The gladness of Christmas give you hope,
The warmth of Christmas grant you love

I wish you JOY!

My computer is mostly broken; so I haven’t and I won’t be able to post for a bit…
Be Well.
Jess

Sharing a cup of comfort…


Do you feel it? The warmth of Christmas in the air; in your heart? It is in the chatter of children, as the excitement of gifts under the tree builds, it’s in the sweet smell of pine that fills the living room, it’s in mankind’s generosity, it’s in taste of a peppermint candy cane stirring your hot cocoa…yes, it is every where if you just take a moment to notice.

JOY 12

It’s in the faith and hope that inspires us throughout the year. It’s in the shared Joy. A shared meal. or a meal given…We were on our way to NYC to bring Courtney to an appointment at the children’s transplant center at Mount Sinai Hospital. A trip interrupted; appointment was cancelled en route. (a clerical error, I won’t go into that, let it suffice to say, I was not happy, and her Momma?…well, you can imagine) We made the best of the day, driving to Rockefeller Center to see the festive windows, Christmas tree, and happy skaters (Courtney’s favorite part of the day). We ate our lunch at the Brooklyn Diner, She ordered a hot dog, when it arrived at the table we all had a good laugh. She ate about 2 bites of it, she wasn’t feeling too well.
hotdog

As we walked back to the car we passed a homeless young man with his dog, who donned a grey sweatshirt; sleeves rolled up over his paws, sitting on the side-walk, back to a tall NY, cold, stone building. As we passed, I overheard a bit of a conversation between this (boy really) and a concerned caring woman. “Have you eaten today?”, was all that I heard, I did not hear the answer. We looked at each other; Gina ( Courtney’s Mom, wondered if it would be ok to offer him Courtney’s uneaten Hotdog. We agreed, at least we could offer. Courtney and I walked over to the boy and his dog, and the girl awaiting a transplant to sustain her life; quietly handed the lonely boy her meal. She softly patted the massive dog’s head and walked back to her waiting Momma, not a word spoken; none needed.
NYC courtney

Have you felt the warmth of Christmas?

warm light

The warmth of Christmas is felt in every act of kindness. I love Christmas.

NYC creche

Be Well,
Jess

Let that little light of yours shine, shine, shine…


I have just one wish, or maybe we should call it a my hope; to matter, to make a difference.

You know what’s interesting? We all seem to be chasing something, don’t we? At this time of year,”The Holiday Season”; so many families are scrambling for the perfect gift. Maybe you have deep pockets; buying for the guy/girl who has everything. Maybe you have nothing, trying to bring a gift home for the child who has little to nothing, knowing you still have to feed her. I am willing t bet you the little girl who receives just one gift will cherish that gift more than the fella who has everything. I know, I was that girl.

I am searching; searching for the perfect gift for just such a child…I will buy two; one for a girl, and one for a boy. The Local Fire Department (my husband is a volunteer fire fighter)has an annual event; they use money collected from fundraisers, such as middle school dances to purchase new and lightly used toys for children…then they invite families(parents, to shop – for FREE! they can choose gifts they hope their little ones will love; even though they have no funds to purchase these. How awesome is that!

… I’m sure of only one thing. If you leave this world, this life; having touched just one person’s life, you have made a difference!

Live like you mean it.

dynamic duo
Andy and Dolly…always together…as I went out this morning to begin chores, this is how I saw them. He, my little Andy, Loves her endlessly.

Miels
Camille, one of my older girls, past her breeding age, so she just lolls about looking pretty.

LaLa
Shangrala, I call her LaLa…always regal in appearance…always.

duo and princess
Andy and Dolly, think they are missing something…racing up the hill; Princess seems to be hinking…Oh, no…here they come!

duo on the run
Kick up your heels!

optical illusion
This shot of Phantom is an optical illusion, this is really 2 llamas…Jubilee is just behind Phantom ( he is brown and cream)

Gio
Gio…aah, Gio.

Life won’t work out exactly as we had planned, it just won’t. How did you envision your life when you were a child? No where in my childhood fantasy’s did I see myself on Llama farm in Upstate NY. Life does not work out the way you expect. But sometimes it works out even better.
So SHINE, Don’t stand in the light of your convictions? Shine?….it just means to go for what you believe in with all that you have…
Own it, be it, do it and then, when it is your time to exit — depart knowing that you truly lived and boy , did you Shine!

Be well,
Jess