From Garden to Shelf

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Today I would like to share the story around my Fresh Garden Tea, which I created, you guessed it… from my garden!!! If you follow me  on social media, you may remember that I spent a lot of time in my garden last summer with the intention of dedicating a portion of what I grow to be dehydrated. Not only because I am committed to following my 3-step-diet and preserving food to see us through the winter until next garden season, but also in order to create more items that I tend to buy when they are actually growing in my garden. So this year I did just that!!!

One of my favorite teas that I came across in the last two years is a cucumber-mint organic tea (I can not remember the brand but it’s delicious). Well, guess what I have growing? an abundance of mint and cucumbers! So I made my own version of the tea, with a twist: I dehydrated some mint leaves and thinly sliced cucumbers, seeds and all. I also harvested and dehydrated some lemon balm, which also grows abundantly in my garden. Once dried, I placed each ingredient into its own bag and crushed them to a medium crushed state. Then I mixed equal parts of all 3 ingredients in a bowl and stirred until the mixture looked even. I then put the tea into one of my nice vintage jars and voilà! Fresh garden tea ready to steep in boiling water to your desired taste (I steep mine for about 3 mins and add a bit of honey!) It’s fresh, light, crisp, and part of my 3-step diet. And you can make a lovely iced tea version from this blend tooo!!! Remember though, this is a loose tea and you will have to use a strainer, or you can buy tea bags (reusable ones are the best!) and fill with approximately one tablespoon per bag or per cup. Enjoy a taste of summer all through winter!

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Mint

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Thinly-sliced Cucumber

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Lemon Balm

Weekly Photo Challenge – Round

This past weekend, I attended a Mushroom Workshop on Cortes Island facilitated by Brigid Weller. It was such a wonderful day – blue skies and great company!!! We all took a walk around the Smelt Bay area in the woods together and found many varieties and colours of the Round button mushrooms. unnamed

We learned how to cook the edible ones, and which ones are poisonous in our region, and we also learned that we can make paper out of mushrooms, that leather is being made from them in Eastern Europe and – my favorite take-away of the day – which mushrooms can be used to naturally dye fabric.

The photo above is of an edible mushroom found on Cortes Island, and below are photos of paper and leather (which does not do well in the rain, btw) and of some of the beautiful colours you can turn hand-spun and naturally-dyed wool! All works are by Brigid Weller who graciously shared an abundance of info with us all!!!

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The Elephant Family

Meet the family! Beatrice, Hugo and their son Hugh. Their creation was inspired by our love for the largest land animal to roam our planet and as a sad reminder that they are on the brink of becoming endangered. Elephants are widely respected for forming close-knit matriarchal clans and their loyalty to each other and the humans they love – a point made famous in 2012 when elephants mourned the passing of Lawrence Anthony, known as the Elephant Whisperer, by holding a vigil around his house for two days. Their unique beauty, deep wisdom and kind hearts – along with their fierceness in defending their young and protecting their herds – are all reasons why we chose to portray an elephant family in this art project.

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The Elephant Family

When Nola McPhail and I found out about summer’s annual members art show, at The Old School House Art Gallery on Cortes Island “The Colour of Our Muse”, we could not resist the opportunity of collaborating to contribute a piece. So we dedicated the month of June to creating The Elephant Family. Nola McPhail has been joining me for my Creative Sessions for the last year and we have explored many media and techniques together. When we chose to collaborate for this show, we opted to create a piece using many of the different media we have explored together as a way to push our creative boundaries, learn from each other, as well as have a lot of fun creating art together!

The Elephant Family art project consists of 3 elements:

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Hugh

Hugh, the son, is a collaboratively-created piece crafted from 3 recycled wood panels – each painted separately with acrylic paint and kroma crackle. His tail is made from braided wool sourced from Cortes Islander Joy Shipway. His face is made with polymer clay and finished with acrylic paint, kroma crackle, glass eyes, and false eye lashes; his trunk, tusks and ears are made from hand-sewn canvas.

The other two elements consist of individually-created art dolls – since those have been one of the strong focuses of their Creative Sessions.

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Beatrice by  Nola McPhail

Nola McPhail opted to make the proud mother Beatrice using polymer clay, recycled textiles from an old skirt of hers, and false eyelashes; the piece was then mounted on a piece of yellow cedar.

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Hugo by Laura Balducci

I created Hugo, the hard-working father, out of polymer clay, recycled textiles, wool, and a found hat; he is also mounted on yellow cedar.

We look forward to continuing our Creative Sessions starting in the next month or so and doing more work together.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Scale

Harvest season is over and I can honestly say this has been a great season! Our freezer is full and so are the shelves of our pantry. On a Scale of 1 to 10, I would rate this year’s yield an 8. We are two points shy of a 10 because not everything we planted – such as our zucchini, basil and potatoes – were as “bumper” as the rest of our garden. But hey, life goes on! As for the potatoes, even though there were not that many of them (we only got a small boxful) they were all about the size as the one you can see proudly displayed on the Scale below. So yes, half a pound per potato is great and a small box of them is better than none, but nowhere near enough to get us through to next year’s crop as my man loves his potatoes. I still look forward to eating them! xoxo

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Rose Hip

This year, I decided to try my hand at using a few new items from my garden and stock my shelves with intention. I am going to share a few of them with you over my fall posts. I follow a 3-step diet – as opposed to the 100 mile diet – which means I grow and eat 80% of what I eat and it only take three steps for me to get my food! I also grow the raw ingredients to make medicine for some of my ongoing issues – this includes pain relief and anti-inflammatory remedies.

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That said, I also have a desire to eventually grow the ingredients for my skin care or at least most of what I would need to create my own products. I already use CBD oil diluted in grape seed oil as a moisturizer on my face and neck morning and night, and I take some internally. I started using it to treat my headaches and chronic neck pain, and then I realized that it worked great as a moisturizer for my face, and now my skin feels really good!!!

Since one of the products I love to use is made from something I grow (no I do not grow grapes and squeeze their seeds for oil). I decided this year to love up my rose bushes and collect the rose hips, then dry and squeeze the seeds and infuse them in CBD oil to make a moisturizer for my face. Many of you may know that roses have many benefits and that their oil is an expensive product – rose essential oil can cost around $50 for 1 ml! But not everyone knows that rose hips are very high in Vitamin C and that it is an excellent antioxidant for the skin. Incidentally, rose hip oil is also the best oil to use to reduce the appearance of scars.So here I was, following a 3-step diet but still buying rose oil to put on my skin when I could make my own right out of my garden! And all I need to buy is the carrier oil and voila!!! Soon I will be using a moisturizer infused with something else I grow. No packaging and all organic! It does take patience as all good things do because it is a bit finicky to squish out the seeds, but it is pretty rewarding when you think about the end result. And no you dont have to use CBD oil, I just do!!! You can use one of your favourite carrier oils such as jojoba, sweet almond, avocado oil or just grape seed oil on its own!

I personally like grape seed oil because it is very light, does not plug the pores and is also absorbed quickly into our skin. Remember the saying that, “You are what you eat”? Well you’re also what you put on your skin since it is the largest organ in our body, how about that eh!!! This is why I practice and learn as much as I can about what I can do for my health. I love the 3-step diet and do my best to bring it into all aspects of my life. Today rose-hip CBD oil, next week? Stay tuned for more of  “from my garden to my shelves” series…

Rose-hip Seed Oil:

  • 1/3 cup cleaned rose hip seeds (you can use more or less, this is just what I ended up with!)
  • 1/3 cup grape seed oil (or any other carrier oil of your choice)
  • mortar and pestle
  • glass jar (for infusing)
  • dark jar or bottle (for final storage)
  • 6 weeks of patience

Squeeze the seeds from the rose hips and clean them. Crush them gently in a mortar and pestle to release the yumminess inside. Fill the bottom of a mason jar and add the equal amount of the carrier oil of your choice making sure to cover the seeds fully as any exposed bits will create moisture in the jar and therefore mould. Close the jar tightly and store in a dark dry place, such as a closet shelf or cupboard for six weeks. Strain seeds from the oil using a cheese cloth or a mesh strainer. Store in a dark amber jar or bottle and use up within the year for freshest results. Rose-hip oil tends to go rancid when not refrigerated, so I suggest filling a small bottle for your night and day use and keeping the rest in the fridge and refilling your smaller bottle as needed. I think you will be happy with the results of how your skin looks and feels. Happy oiling!

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dried rose hips

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removing seeds from husks

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rose hip seeds ready to be crushed

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soaking in carrier  oil in dark cupboard for 6 weeks

 

Weekly Photo Challenge – Pedestrian

Behold the Pedestrian-only (for both the bipeds and four-legged family members!) path to one of the most beautiful spots on the Salish Sea: Hanks’ Beach!!!

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But do not be mistaken! Even though this is a foot-path, I would never call it Pedestrian as its appearance is ever-changing with the seasons; so it’s never a dull trail to walk and the source of constant inspiration with something new to see and experience every time we walk it… wink wink ; )

 

Entangled Goals!!!

Every year at this time I set new goals for myself. I am not sure why but it always feels like its the start of a new year to me!!! Maybe because of the rapid changes in the weather and Fashion Week being in full groove; maybe because as a farmer, you work from February to October starting from seed, planting, loving, harvesting, preserving for the winter, etc. Who knows? But this year is no different except that I’ve got some Disentangling to do… after a very productive year that saw me co-producing an art festival, attending workshops, taking online classes, curating for our local museum, vending at the farmer’s market, gardening my little butt off, teaching art sessions, exhibiting art installations, paddle boarding, learning and enjoying life… Wow! I just got tired from typing all that out hahahah… I sure am changing it up this year!!!

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After a two-month hiatus from blogging, I realized how much I missed it, so one of the plans I am making for the coming year is to spend more time on my website (revamping and updating it, and creating an online store), over the last year, I have been learning more techniques and experimented with textile art – something I plan on continuing to explore starting with getting a spinning wheel, as well as working toward a new art installation (stay tuned to watch the progress!)

I was also gifted a text book this summer as an indefinite loan, which I am thrilled about reading and plan to study too: H.W. Janson’s second edition of History of Art (a topic I am really interested in but never studied).unnamed

So there you have it! This is me taking a step back, keeping it chill and disentangling a few goals. You see, about a week ago, I had no choice but to let go of some of my goals due to a flare-up in my wrists, neck and spine that has put me back in casts for the next few months. This has meant going at a slower pace, as well as regrouping to see what my new options are.. and of course, creating art! The future is looking up and the light is shining through. I dedicate the coming year to growth, expansion, and being the healthiest me possible. And I am excited! xoxo Laura