Beeswax and rose oil and copper and dew.

So I got it in my head that I wanted to make my own scents from my garden. I have always been fascinated by capturing the soul of a place, creating a perfume or spray that has all the scents of say, a campfire under the stars, or a mountain Meadow, or forest flowers in your hair….

At first I thought I’d infuse oils.  My mom and I tried infusing oil with different kinds of her roses.  It was Mother’s Day afternoon and we labeled, cleaned, documented, and heated our rose oil.  It was disastrous. We used the wrong kind of oil and had to throw it all out.  But it was fun! And it was only the beginning.   I went straight home and bought a copper still online. When it came I got so excited I went straight into the garden, picked anything scented, and made my first batch of hydrosol. (The watery essence of the plants that comes from the mist boiled off of the plants.)


  What resulted was a sweet, fresh, strangely scented water.  It didn’t smell like anything in particular, but it was familiar.  I put it in a spray bottle and sprayed it on my wrist.  After the initial strong scent wore off I figured out the scent: 

The scent of my garden in spring! It’s the scent you smell when you walk out the door…bluebell, lilac, honeysuckle…but also earth and meadow and dew.

I’m hooked. 

 My next endeavor was making lip balm.  It will take lots more experimenting before I get it just right, but this morning I made a rose, beeswax, almond oil, beet (for color), and honey lip balm!  

   

 I made one yesterday with lilac and clover petals and geranium flowers for color, but I thought it would be fun to put petals in it, which was just messy so I scrapped it.  Pretty though!  

 And then something wild happened. A mystery rose that has been growing slowly in my garden finally bloomed after two years today. I posted it on Instagram to see if anyone recognized it, and a woman in France recognized it as one used for rose oil in her area.  How synchronistic is that? Just when I want to make rose oil, a rose blooms in my garden that will provide me with it. I guess it’s meant to be! 

Beau says next we need to keep our own bees so we can make our own wax. 

All in good time :)

  
 

The threat of life.

I posted a picture on Instagram that cost me 200 followers and my sanity. People were so upset by it, calling me evil and threatening to kill me. The picture, since taken down because my tender heart couldn’t handle any more, was my butterfly wing pyramid.

Now, after being shocked and hurt by the comments, I began to be very fascinated by the strong visceral response such an image created in people. I had a disclaimer on my subject line (These butterfly wings are recycled from an insect artist who had no use for them for one reason or another. She assures they were farmed and died of natural causes.)

So besides the fact that butterfly farming is a lucrative business for people who might otherwise cause deforestation with other types of farming, and besides the fact that no wild butterflies were harmed, and that the farmed butterflies were not even harmed, these people writing hateful comments to me were bothered by…

The severing of a wing of a dead insect.

(The wings came to me personally as wings, but someone along the line must have either cut them off of the insect, or they fell off and that’s why they couldn’t be used.  I’m not sure).

So my question is this:

Why doesn’t a leather hand bag cause the same kind of reaction?  Or milk? Or the use of antlers in decoration, even the ones fallen to the forest floor?  Or bones?  Or cut hair?

Why do butterflies in particular cause that kind of reaction?

I think there is a deep meaning here that these people aren’t even realizing exists.  I believe butterflies symbolize life after death.  They are this worlds closest thing to magic: wings from a chrysalis. 

I think the thought of a butterfly being harmed makes people feel like a soul, like beauty itself, is being harmed. Their bright colors and patterns, their searching for sweetness from flowers and starlight.  They are our world’s fairies, pointing towards a greater power, mimicking another voice.

I think this world fears death in ways we cannot truly fathom because we cannot truly understand life.

If my butterfly wing pyramid bothers you, I want you to search deep within yourself and ask yourself why. Perhaps there is an answer there waiting for you.

But don’t write me a death threat.  At this point, don’t write anything negative.  Believe me I’ve heard it all.butterfly pyramid

Black poppies and sweet peas.

   

Of flowers.

I got my paints out today.  It had been a long while! At first my hand felt sloppy and my touch was all muddled. I mixed too many colors together and wondered if I had succumbed to my petal art forever. But practice makes nearly perfect and I adore the end result!  

 I also tried out one of the lavish horizontal bouquets I’ve been drooling over on Instagram. I used flowers from my garden and my moms. Happiness! It felt like an arbour of roses on the mantle. 

 And speaking of mothers, I made this interpretation of Klimt’s Mother and Child for Mother’s Day! It’s a piece de resistance of sorts…the culmination of our adventure in Vienna and my newfound career as a flower fairy. I’m still excited to one day redo his elderly woman in paint!

Vienna to Dubrovnik.

Collages88“it feels like time travel” Beau said the other morning when I asked him if it really happened. We flew into Vienna, hit up the opera, the Belvedere Palace, Klimt paintings, little cakeries, and the royal treasury… listened to polka and marketed in Slovenia, hiked the aqua Plitvice lakes in Croatia, holed up in a renaissance Mediterranean arboretum, walked the castle wall of Dubrovnik, ferried in Montenegro, spent a blink of an eye in Bosnia, road tripped through the alps…then flew home.  It took less than ten days, 40 miles of walking, 42 hours of plane riding, and some of the greatest fun Beau and I have had together.

We needed the time just the two of us so badly.  We hadn’t been on a vacation just the two of us in 7 years.  Not even a weekend! It’s good to take a step back from the monotony of mundane life and remember…hey! We really like each other! And we adore our children, and missed them the whole time (and talked about them the whole time), but it was SO good to get a break. It was like one long date.  We chatted, laughed, skipped and held hands. We would read up on the history and info of whatever region we were in together over our crepes and coffee then explore and adventure whatever took our fancy wherever we were. We had long drives to talk about the future and the present and how we wanted to uphold our commitment to each other.  And a lot of times we were just silent.  Silence! With three boys under 8 it felt so good to just have nothing in our heads for a time. We could have been anywhere and it would have been good just for the time we had together. But we WERE in an incredible locale!

The pictures make it obvious, but Austria and Croatia could not have been any more beautiful.  Vienna is the cleanest, classiest, most beautiful city I’ve ever been in. And the riviera of Croatia is unreal. It’s so beautiful I could hardly stand it.  I sat eating my octopus salad staring at that clear water and was just so thankful that I have the ability to travel to far off lands, that I have a friend who loves to do it with me, and that I’ll have these memories for the rest of my life.

Tulips

Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 4.12.55 AMApril was filled with color! I went to the Tulip Festival in Mt Vernon with the Kindreds and our children and it felt like we were walking through rainbows. Our favorite tulip was the Salmon Parrot Tulip:    Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 4.13.06 AMBe still my heart!Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 4.14.12 AM     I’ve had so much fun with the details on these lovelies over on Flora Forager. Mandalas for dayz.Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 4.15.59 AMThe crew.Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 4.12.44 AM

This tulip grew a stripe!  And it matched marvelously well with this wrapping paper my sis Lucy gave me. Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 4.16.13 AMScreen Shot 2015-05-01 at 4.13.15 AMA fringed tulip. So hot right now. Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 4.14.40 AMPeony tulips.  Sigh. Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 4.18.21 AMThe black and red immediately made me think of watermelon seeds, and a fox’s nose!

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Oliver and Me. 

Today is Oliver’s fifth birthday! He crawled into bed with us at 3am.  I got up to go to the bathroom, where a spider was on the toilet paper. A fact I did not notice until I reached for it. I screamed and jumped and hyperventilated. Ever since, I have been unable to sleep, but spent the time going through photos of sweet Oliver. I have quite a few selfies with him! 

This boy is the kind of child you dream of. Sweetness, quiet, creative, serving, snuggly. 

I love him so!

Crazed.

Just a little.  I’ve been so SO lucky to have whirlwind success with Flora Forager, but I am scaling the learning curve of business very slowly. I’m trying hard to make good decisions, learn how to say no, and pace myself. I feel so guilty when I refuse offers, and at first I would say yes to everything and anything that came my way, but I am only one person.  And I’m still a full time mom!  I get several emails a day and it takes me hours to respond, and I have lots of collaborations and custom orders to work on.  I am having trouble catching my breath!  Just today I was looking over a contract, made a cover for a magazine, a logo for a business, did three interviews, added new products to the shop and advertised them, and made some of my own unique pieces that I was excited about doing.  Oh and I also took care of my kids. It’s just crazy!

So my blog is getting shuffled to the side a bit.  Not that anyone is keeping tabs, but to be honest my true love is right here, writing and blabbing about random things. I am not cut out of organized cloth!

Like for example: I feel haunted by Klimt’s Three Ages of Woman.  I am so worried that I’m turning into the third age.  The second stage is so beautiful, a brightly colored full woman with flowers in her hair, and the third stage is decrepid and depressing.  I realized that I must counteract that image in my mind.  I must create something beautiful for the elderly.  The wise, sage, and seeding beauties.  Darn it, Klimt, those are the GOLDEN years! You ought to have given the third stage more beauty.

It makes me want to write poetry about long lost memories.  To paint silvery hair with moonlit flowers. To imagine ageless spirits held inside aging vessels. I want to give that thought precedence over all the rest right now.

But I need to get some work done.  When I get it all figured out I’ll be back!Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 5.03.24 PM

Post Card from Croatia: Lemon and honey.

I awoke with a view of Mediterranean Islands, palms, cypress, and citrus trees. We are staying on the grounds of the summer home of a noble Renaissance family, now an arboretum. This port used to be where ships from all over the world would bring seeds. 500 species grow here.

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We are staying in the little cluster of houses to the left on the hill.

Beau made crepes with local eggs and we are eating them with waxy, crystallized honeycomb and lemon straight off one of our garden trees. We look down off our terra cotta balcony to the jeweled sea below. It is silent save for the centuries old aquaduct rushing past and the sound of birds.

Today we shall explore sea castles and get lost in Dubrovnik’s winding streets. As they say in Croatia, Bog!

Following my sister: Southeast Asia

Remember this little series?  Africa, Bavaria, Scotland, India.

I think I pooped out sometime around when Oliver had his surgery. Yesterday Jamie, Oliver, Harry, and I went to the bluebell wood to take some pictures. It feels so good to have her here.  She is such a caretaker and as much as I hate to admit it, I truly need caring for.  Since she’s been back she’s cleaned out my fridge, taken my kids on adventures, babysat, done my dishes, and now taken some beautiful Flora Forager head shots.  She never asks for anything in return. There’s nothing like a good sister…and I have two!

But back to the past and her more nomadic days…these are a smorgasbord from her posts on Vietnam and Thailand. You can see more on her blog.Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 9.18.35 AM Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 9.18.52 AM Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 9.19.01 AM Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 9.19.08 AM Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 9.19.19 AM Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 9.19.30 AM Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 9.20.01 AM Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 9.20.15 AM Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 9.20.25 AM Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 9.20.35 AM Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 9.20.45 AM Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 9.20.53 AM Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 9.22.22 AM Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 9.22.35 AM Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 9.22.41 AM Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 9.22.47 AM Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 9.23.05 AM Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 9.23.11 AM Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 9.23.57 AM Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 9.24.04 AM Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 9.24.10 AM Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 9.24.20 AM Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 9.24.35 AM