Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body,
but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out & proclaiming “Wow, What a Ride!”

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

healthy living ~ hand yoga

What are is essentially Yoga for the hands. If you play a musical instrument, such as a piano or harp. If you embroider, crochet, craft with your hands like I do, then Mudras are the way to exercise and relax your hands. Especially as we age and our joints, muscles, and tendons need special care.  

Here is a little about Mudras and some websites I found helpful. And also a book that was mentioned often with great reviews.

Mudras (Sanskrit for "seal" or "symbol") are small-scale yoga movements, systematic hand gestures involving only the arms and hands. In his book Mudra, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche defines the mudra as, "a symbol expressed with the hands to state for oneself and others the quality of different moments of meditation, such as touching the earth with the right hand as a witness to Buddha's freedom from emotional and mental frivolousness."

There are hundreds of mudra-gestures formed by the ancient yogis and sages, used in a number of traditions as a method of expression, meditation or evocation of energies in the body. Each culture seems to have developed its own mudra language but all are based on four basic hand positions: the open palm, the hollowed palm, the closed fist, and the hand with fingertips together.

Similarities between the traditions - Hindu, Tantric, Egyptian, Polynesian - are manifold. For example, the mudra of Anjali, palms pressed together, is nearly universal in its association with prayer. From the prospective of Indian dance, mudra is a method of pure expression that allows a dancer to tell a story in a universal language. Other more esoteric mudra practices are kept closely guarded by practioners; these special mudras in conjunction with other spiritual exercises are said to have the power to transform man into a living god.

Even the many mudras available for the general public have potential to arouse and activate one's energy channels (nadis) and centers (chakras). They are easy to do, and with proper instruction and meditation, they can help unlock electrical-circuits and subtle channels leading one to become more awake.

Mudras may be practiced almost anywhere. Perhaps when your hands feel cramped after sitting at the computer too long. First find your own natural mudras. See what happens when you stretch your hands, explore the feeling of your fingers curling compared to extending them outward. Recognize which movements resonate within you and then consult with a mudra chart to see what the ancient traditions say. See how mindfully placing your hands in traditional postures compares to your own natural movement. The pressure of the fingers should be very light and your hands should be relaxed. If you are tense at a certain place in the body, this tension will be expressed at a corresponding area in the hands.

Enjoy the primordial practice of mudras as you probably have since birth. One Nepalese tantric dance teacher says that babies are born using mudras, and if you ever watch a newborn's tiny hand movements, you'll see he is right.

Monday, January 30, 2017

wintering in Aspen Willow ~ a thought-

One of the best things about being out here at the ranch...all alone... is the ‘self-evaluation-retrospection’ time you get not having to interface with others. Although.... I do spend some time on Facebook, seeing what others are doing and also letting some know that I am doing ok on a daily basis. And honestly, it really is the only time I see the world beyond my own ‘bubble’, my personal space as some will describe it.

 I do go out of the ‘zone’ every two to three weeks for groceries, and anything else I might need for projects and such. And, yes, there I meet people and interface with the public somewhat. However, that short time is not really worthy of the term- socializing.  

And I have a Twitter account, which I pop on maybe twice a month. It is really for my “wildlife” contacts- more up-to-date info (ok, maybe not ‘really up-to-date’ with only checking it twice) but the effort of checking on everyone without logging in and out of seventeen websites is nice. Facebook gives you info ASAP as well; however, I have been finding a lot more ‘Podium Pounding Political Propaganda’ than I care to see. On Twitter there isn't as much.

The PPPP- oh no people of the World, not the PodiumPounding Political Propaganda. 
): yep! :(

I did have to stop a few Wildlife Sites because of the post and the tactics they were using to get the public riled and turned to their political agenda. I am still donating to their institutions because my objective is to help animals, but do choose to ignore the way they are getting their messages across.  Not necessarily what they said but the way it was said. You can make something important, inspire to act to help. Or, you can manipulate an emotion into acting the way you want them to act. Usually with anger, actually, any of the negative emotions

And what I really don’t understand is WHY? Why, are we so angry and most recent was over this last Political Season. I am baffled- truly baffled. People I have known to be gentle and open-minded are so closed now that I am not sure they will return.

An acquaintance on Facebook, had accidentally become unfriended on my boards.  When she did get in touch to see if I had Unfriended her, her comment was. “I didn’t know, so many of my friends suddenly unfriended me over this election.”
My chin dropped; WHAT!?
   1. the reason I say she is an ‘acquaintance’ and not a ‘friend’ is because if she was a ‘friend’ she would know that is not me, I would never NOT be someone’s friend for something as personal as a difference of opinion.
  2. this one baffles me why it is not so obvious- “anyone that would do this (intended insult) ‘unfriend’ you over the fact you have a difference of opinion is NOT, and I repeat, NOT a Friend! So, what does it matter? You don’t want people like that as friends; or, at least I don’t.

After that I did start to become more aware of my own FB Page and its followers, likes, dislikes...and I too saw a pattern. Several of my co-worker friends who always made some contact through FB hadn’t for a long time.... hum. How Long? Well, to my surprise just about as long as it started getting politically hot on FB. Now, a couple of people rather than ‘unfriend’ me, they just stopped responding or distanced themselves. One was honest and said she just could not accept that I was for the other candidate.  I told her that it was all right; hopefully I will see her in the future when she can come to terms with herself.

Another person: I had mentioned that I just didn’t see what Obama accomplished that justified so many “Idolizing” him. Seriously, it was just my opinion, maybe my lack of seeing the picture, and I expected that they would let me know. They didn’t, they responded – by Instant Messenger- with a high intensity of angry ramblings- then, unfriended and blocked me.  Oh, well.

Then there was a friend who posted something “I felt” was not funny and was disrespectful.  I think my comment was that everyone deserves a certain amount of respect. Okay, there were a few outsider responses, mad at me; saying this and that- but she never said a word. I am sure she simply smiled, probably chucked, and said...”well, I think it was funny.” and that’s Okay too.

We need to allow everyone their opinions ... as long as ... it is not with malicious intent. Then, I have to say it is wrong!

I joined Facebook so that my friends could make sure I was all right out in the woods by myself and so I could continue enjoying their lives, many are like family and it is a very good way to keep in touch with your friends and loved ones.

It has changed since I started, and I can say I spend more time ignoring posts and than I do Liking, Laughing, Wowing them. (not friends- environmental sites) Okay, some friends, haha. I made a decision not to acknowledge any posting that are political or religious-

        An Uncle once told me “to stay 'socially happy', stay away from talking about Religion and Politics.” Wise man!

I do, when I feel malice, injustice, or even maybe inappropriate posts or comments, speak up and say something brief. Non-judgmental, just what I personally felt about that comment or post.

I would love FB if they place an Ignore Icon for us to use along with their others. I remember a few years back when there were just chat rooms and forums- if someone posted something you didn’t feel was proper, appropriate...etc. you simply wrote in the comments ~~ignoring~~ and that was that.

hum... guess what I did... hahaha- posted in the comments section will work just as well I suppose.  And I don’t really care what anyone thinks of it...comment notifications will be turned off on my end- comment, yell, say mean nasty things... I won’t care. BUT...I might just get someone thinking a little differently.

another thing this wise elderly Uncle taught me- that if you acknowledge the existence of something it gives that something strength to change or change you. 
 it can be positive or negative.

So this FaceBook issue and the hatred, anger, etc... if we were to Ignore those
negative posts...the people will have to realize they no longer are getting the attention they seek and perhaps try a different tactic...such as: 
Truth and Kindness will get you noticed and a positive response.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

thursday's crafting ~ embroidery tool tote

  hello, and good morning my friends. Well, I will have to say that I got a little "crafting bug" the other day while working on the embroidery baby blanket that is my latest 'needs to be finished to-do project' 

I had planned on making an embroidery tool kit much like the 'Sewing Tooly' you saw here a few weeks ago, the plan was to make a box type of tote, but then saw an idea on Pinterest using an embroidery hoop as a base. Cute idea!

When I was at Hobby Lobby I found some really cheap hoops that I thought would work if and when I got the idea going. Then I found some adorable fabrics...for various reason and needs... and tucked them away for the day when the project called to me.   

"Hello.. I'm here and ready to be done." was the little voice that called out while I was working on my blanket. hahaha... end of story. 

I am not use to keeping track of what and how I do something, especially when it is from scratch like this, so please bare with me. I hope that I have touch on enough to get you started on your own. Most of you I know are seasoned seamstresses and will get the idea. If you are not, please just email or comment and I'll try and answer any questions. 

The hardest part was choosing the fabric to use, that seems to always be the hard part for me. Although I didn't need to here, I often use the "selvage edge with the color dots" to find the best matches. 

I will try and take you step by step as to what I did so if you want to try, you have an idea how to go about it. And if you figure out anything easier or better, please let me know.

After choosing your fabric, lay it into the hoop and start to plan what tools you want and where. Then pin where the pockets need to be. I slipped them in and out a couple of time to make sure the fit was correct. Next, measure where your pins are and make a note. Do the same with the backside if you plan on having a single pocket, or multi. I made a pattern marking all my seems and pocket stitching for both sides.  I know my scissors in the back pocket were too short so I made a horizontal mark where I need to stitch and make it shorter than the others. My hoop was 1/4' thick so I added 1/2" for seam allowance- (note to self and you- wasn't quite enough, need maybe 3/4" to 1")

Since this front-back pocket will contain thicker supplies, cut the sides a touch larger. Remember to mark your vertical and horizontal pocket lines. First thing to sew is the little horizontal scissor line of just the back and first pocket piece, then lay the second pocket piece on top and sew your vertical pocket lines. do the same for the back if you have more than one pocket. 

after everything was cut and pockets sewn, I once again placed it into the hoop to make sure it fit before getting ready to sew the side. 

Note: if you are putting a design or any embellishments on the back pocket don't forget to sew those onto that pocket before getting ready to put the back pieces together.

Okay, put front pieces in place and the back pieces together, with right sides of each section, F & B, together, sew your side (or in this case round) seam making sure to keep all your layers together- you could baste or I do recommend to pin. I used a 1/4" seam. Leave an opening for turning near the side. (not bottom or top)  Trim your edge and especially the area where all the layers are at the bottom... it gets thick. Turn your project and "wallah."

Now, the kicker, and reason for note to self, with mine was that I made it just a tiny bit too small and could not get a good grip on the material to place it in the hoop as if a piece ready to work on. So, before I closed up the little turning hole, I cut my (thankfully wasn't plastic) bamboo hoop and slipped it inside, then taped it back together. Now, the hoop top fit nicely and all was well. It actually finishes it better I think. :)

Put your goodies inside and hurrah, you can begin to embroider with all your tools and supplies ready at hand. 

I like using the little plastic bobbins to keep any thread I am using, so I just placed my bobbin ring at the top and let it hang. I also made a little "needle/pin" cushion, which I also hung at the top. I filled it with half Steel Wool- (this will help keep my needles sharp) and half plain batting. 

and it all fits nicely into my carrier

this was a fun and rather simple project to do. It took about 4 hours (between stoking the fire, and playing with Gypsy.) LOL I am thinking of making a couple more as gifts, or maybe it could be another one of my Farmer's Market Possibles. 


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

meal ideas ~ healthy pastas

Carb control is essential in maintaining health even if you are not a diabetic or watching your weight. But that doesn’t mean you have to completely cut out noodles. There are many pasta salads, soups, and traditional spaghetti's that can be made healthy and will satisfy your cravings for the comfort food of pastas without weighing you down. In the next few week we will feature some of my favorites.

Chicken, Macaroni, and Cheese 
I really have never cared for traditional macaroni and cheese- too cheesy- ha! however, for many only good old mac and cheese will do as a comfort food. I happen to like this healthier version using reduced-fat cheese, lean chicken, and nutrient-rich veggies for a guilt-free indulgence.

1 1/2 cups dried multigrain or regular elbow macaroni 
Nonstick cooking spray
12 oz skinless, boneless chicken, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 6 1/2 - oz pkg light semisoft cheese w/ garlic & herb
1 2/3 cups fat-free milk
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese 
2 cups packaged fresh baby spinach
1 cup chopped, seeded tomatoes

 In a medium saucepan, cook macaroni according to package directions, except do not add any salt to the water; drain.

 Meanwhile, coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; heat skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and onion to skillet. Cook for 4 to 6 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink and onion is tender, stirring frequently. If onion browns too quickly, reduce heat to medium. Remove skillet from heat. Stir in semisoft cheese until melted.

 In a medium bowl, whisk together milk and flour until smooth. Add all at once to chicken mixture. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat to low. Stir in cheddar cheese until melted. Add cooked macaroni; cook and stir for 1 to 2 minutes or until heated through. Stir in spinach and tomatoes. Serve immediately.

 Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 369 cal., 12 g total fat (7 g sat. fat), 85 mg chol., 393 mg sodium, 33 g carb. (4 g fiber, 6 g sugars), 33 g pro.Diabetic Exchanges Lean Meat (d.e): 3.5; Starch (d.e): 2; Vegetables (d.e): 0.5; Fat (d.e): 1;

Scallops and Pasta with Lemon-Caper Cream Sauce 
A favorite when I was some seafood and pasta. Seared scallops and a tangy pasta sauce are the stars of this distinctive Italian recipe, adding big flavor while keeping the dish low in carbs. You can use shrimp, it is just as tasty. 

1 1/2 pounds fresh or frozen sea scallops
4 ounces dried multigrain or whole grain penne or rotini pasta
3 cups trimmed, coarsely shredded Swiss chard or kale
1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and bias-sliced crosswise
Nonstick cooking spray
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 medium leeks, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups fat-free milk
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel
1 1/2 teaspoons snipped fresh rosemary or thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary or thyme, crushed
2 tablespoons capers, drained

Thaw scallops, if frozen. Rinse scallops; pat dry with paper towels and set aside. In a large saucepan, cook pasta according to package directions, adding chard and zucchini for the last 4 minutes of cooking time. Drain and keep warm.

 Meanwhile, lightly coat an unheated large nonstick skillet with nonstick spray. Preheat over medium-high heat. Sprinkle scallops with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and the pepper. Add scallops to hot skillet; cook for 4 to 6 minutes or until scallops are opaque, turning once. Remove scallops from skillet; keep warm.

 Add oil to hot skillet; reduce heat to medium. Add leeks and garlic; cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until tender, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from bottom of skillet.

 In a medium bowl, whisk together milk and cornstarch until smooth. Add to leek mixture along with lemon peel, rosemary, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Add to pasta mixture, tossing to coat.

 Divide pasta mixture among six serving plates. Top with scallops and capers.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 247 cal., 3 g total fat 39 mg chol., 525 mg sodium, 28 g carb. (3 g fiber, 6 g sugars), 26 g pro. Diabetic Exchanges Vegetables (d.e): 1; Starch (d.e): 1.5; Lean Meat (d.e): 2.5;

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

healthy living ~ feet, a masterpiece.

“The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering 
and a work of art.”–Leonardo da Vinci

Let’s talk about feet. Winter time is a great time to get those feet back into shape after a summer of flip flops and bare feet running around causing tough calluses. Here are some homemade recipes I have used in the past, give them a try. 

Foot Scrub- 
This scrub is quick and easy to make and leaves the feet feeling soft, smooth, tingly and refreshed

¼ cup cormeal
¼ cup ground oatmeal
1 tablespoon sea salt (or table salt)
Tap water
A few drops of lemon or peppermint oil (or juice works too)

Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl with enough water to form a creamy, gritty paste. Add a few drops of the essential oil and stir again.

Sit on the edge of the bathtub, or in the shower and massage your feet with this mixture—really scrub all those rough areas and between toes. I find this quite invigorating. Rinse and dry thoroughly and follow with an application of a thick moisturizing cream.

NOTE: If you use the tub or shower, make sure to clean them right after this procedure; the cornmeal might swell and clog the drain. I usually do this using a washbasin in the tub and toss the contents in the garden for mulching.

Foot Soother- 
This recipe softens leathery feet, deodorizes, and helps fight foot fungus. Following the foot soak, use a pumice stone or pediwand to buff away and softened calluses.
2 cups applecider vinegar, raw or processed
2 tablespoons vegetable glycerin

Place ingredients into the foot tub with enough water, warm or cold, to cover your feet and ankles. Swish feet to blend.

Soak for 15 to 20 minutes. Pat dry and follow with a coating of moisturizer.

NOTE: have a nail fungus or athlete’s foot? Soaking your feet in just the apple cider vinegar is the absolute best medicine around…it even beats out prescription topical medicines. You can reuse the vinegar multiple times, I swear by it !! great for fingernails too.

My favorite “on my feet all day refresher”
The foot exercise and muscle stimulation combined with one of the invigorating essential oil and Epsom salt refresh and relieve achy, swollen feet. This soak is recommended for those who are on their feet all day.

tub for soaking feet
1/2 cup Epsom salt
5-10 drops of lemon, peppermint, or rosemary essential oil
2-3 cups medium sized marbles

Place the Epsom salt and the essential oil of choice into the foot tub with enough comfortably hot or cold-as-you-can-stand water to cover your feet and ankles. Swish with feet to blend. Next, add enough marbles to almost cover the bottom of the tub.

Soak feet for 15 to 20 minutes while gently rolling them back and forth over the marbles. Occasionally, grasp and release marbles with toes. This action stretches and relaxes the feet. Roughly rub feet dry and apply a soothing lotion.

Next I will be posting simple body care recipes that: i have tested and use, you can easily make and put to use, that will astound you how well they work compared to the pricey market brands. this should be fun and exciting.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Wintering in Aspen Willow ~ to snowshoe or not to snowshoe ???

I try to take Gypsy out for “walkies” at least every day, a couple of times the temperature is just not going to allow us to venture much past our heaters or fire; nevertheless, for the most part we have enough sunshine hours to at least put in a short jaunt.

Now, getting around in the meadows and forest has its challenges. First of all the snow is three or four feet deep in many places. The positive note is that Colorado snow is very dry, and I mean very dry. I can walk around knee deep for thirty to forty minutes and when I hit “dry land” my jeans are essentially unscathed by any moisture. That makes it nice, and on Gypsy too, I would worry more about her getting hypothermic if she were to get wet, but she too stays dry. Cold yes, but we are dry.

The other day it was beautiful, around forty degrees, the sun shining, no wind... so, Gypsy and I decided to head out into the woods and see what kind of critter tracks we could find- best time to track “critters” is seeing their little prints in the snow.

Knowing that the snow was going to be deep where we were headed I pulled out my old snowshoes, strapped them on and headed off into the wild white yonder. Gypsy didn’t know what to make of them...she was curious but also leery of these strange contraptions on my feet. After barking and running around, making my trek across the snow even harder, she decided there were other more interesting things to bark at and chase.

no not a snowshoe hare
but Me hahahah
Our snow was so dry, soft, and deep in many places the snowshoes were almost useless. I sunk as deep as if I hadn’t any on. And after about a half hour of trudging over hill and dale I was getting pretty darn tired; but... having a blast as well. The next time we went out, the snowshoes were left behind.

A neighbor, Michael, says that later in the year, more towards April, our heaviest snow time, (she grimaces) they will be more useful as the snow does become wetter and denser.

But for now I love merely trudging through the snow, following the deer tracks (they know the best route) and enjoying the peace. The difference of hiking when the earth is dry compared to when snow is present is much like the difference of Rain vs. Snow falling. One has an unmistakable sound and the other is simply and quietly happening.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

thursday's crafting ~ sewing with selvages***

My local quilting store, well- local as far as twenty-eight miles away, but close enough- Nuts and Boltz Needlework is a quaint, small, shop that not only has great choices in fabrics and supplies, but has classes for those such as myself that need to learn the trick of “quilting.” Remember my project with my scrub tops? You saw my sewing machine tote and too-tote for my sewing tools that I made for these classes. Sadly, last weekend it snowed too much that the class was cancelled until March. it’s okay, I have time.

Now for the heart of this posting- while at the shop last time I came across a book that gave me even more crafting ideas and projects to plan for the future. 
look...its a book case with selvage books

Save the Selvages

Creating treasures from the Selvages of fabrics- a new kind of quilting; many people consider selvages to be garbage, cutting them off and throwing them away without a second thought.  I know I did; but, after checking many of my left over fabrics I saved from my scrub tops... I still have the selvages on them- yippee. With this new insight I suddenly have noticed how pretty some of the selvages on fabrics are?  

love this! thread catcher
What is the selvage exactly?
A selvage is the finished edge of fabric, and it is tightly woven which means it does not fray. It runs the entire length of the fabric bolt. Selvages are very handy! Information is usually printed right along that edge. This can include the fabric designer, the company, and the name of the print or line; great if you need to order more yardages online. This makes it easy to identify the fabric. Sometimes the selvage also features a line of circles that include all of the colors in that fabric to help you choose coordinating colors- something which I use quite often.

So why is there even a selvage edge on your fabric?
It’s actually a by-product of the manufacturing process. Take a closer look at a piece of woven cotton printed fabric, and you will see threads running along the fabric in two directions; the warp threads run the length of the fabric, and the weft threads along the width. The selvage edge of the fabric is where the weft thread loops back at the end of each row during the manufacturing process.


 A  few tips I have found in my research for collecting and sewing with Selvages:
  • Before you start cutting into your fabric for your next project, cut your selvages off so that they are at least 1-2 inches wide. That way not only will you see your selvage, but also a bit of that pretty fabric.
  • Store them in a clear container in a visible place. A tall Mason jar on the shelf will remind you to save and sew with them!
  • Before sewing with your selvages, be sure to starch and press them well. They can be pretty wavy, but a good press should take care of it.
  • A fabric foundation base works perfectly when sewing selvages together. This allows the woven edge to remain fully exposed while keeping the selvage strips from distorting. Muslin works great for this, but you can also use whatever quilting cotton scraps that you may have lying around. Just be sure that the foundation fabric doesn’t show through the selvage strips.

A couple of great websites I found that you may be interested in. Of course look to Pinterest, it has oodles and oodles of ideas and how-to suggestions. Have fun and remember to Save those Selvages!

my favorite: Sew Mama~ Sewing with Selvages: Making Your Own Selvage Fabric  

The Sewing Loft~ 25 things to make with Selvages

Treadlequilts~ the Tread Catcher and more ideas

Pinterest board~ Karen Malio-Selvages-things-to-make

and we gotta have those books...  

okay my friendly crafters! If you are a sewing buff and buy or have lots of fabrics I highly recommend to start saving those Selvages.. why not? even if you don’t think it is something you would want to do- you might one day.... and then there is always that happy blogger who is saving them, maybe she would love to acquire your Selvages....ME! hehe-   have fun, and I will post my project- complete with “how I did it” when I can get enough saved for my first project... a Tread Holder. If you have some and don’t want them; I’ll take them off your hands.