Thursday, February 26, 2009

Junk Cars morph into green manufactured homes

Okay, that headline caught my eye in my morning email. An interesting lead, especially for someone married to an engineer type, made me go read the whole article. Super energy efficient affordable homes made from scrap cars. I can only applaud...

Read the article here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Herbal chai, tasty and fights colds

As my winter cold is dragging on and on and on, I'm realizing that I haven't been drinking my cold weather daily cup of herbal chai. Could be part of the problem. And since I'm hearing from friends that they too are having cold/flu problems, I thought I'd share the recipe. I got this recipe from an acupuncturist when I was living in Boulder. I found it did indeed help me feel warmer and fight sinus congestion. And it's very tasty.

1.5 inches fresh ginger root (peeled or unpeeled, doesn't seem to matter) sliced thinly
8-10 cinnamon sticks (I split mine in half to get more exposure to the water)
10 cardamon pods (or about 50 cardamon seeds if you can't get pods) Split the pods open slightly
10 whole cloves
5 peppercorns

Put everything in 5 cups water, Boil for 30 minutes total. I bring it to a boil, reduce the heat and put a lid on the pot with a slight gap at the edge of the lid. Add honey, lemon, milk or rice milk to taste. I have also used heated herbal chai as water to make tea with when I want the kind of chai you get at a latte stand.

Yields about a quart of chai.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Recycling pillows and green living tips

One of my regular emails is a green living tips newsletter. This time, I did let myself get distracted by the sidebar link to one about recycling/repurposing foam pillows. With my allergies, we do this regularly because of accumulated allergens and dust mites and it always gives me a twinge to toss them so frequently. I especially like the post from Sheila in Texas about repurposing multiple things. Lots and lots of tips from all sorts of people make this a very useful place.

Check it out here: green living tips. They plant a tree via Trees for the Future for each new subscriber so just subscribing will help the planet. How cool is that?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Backyard Bushtits #1 finally finished

I've obviously been trying to go faster than my body wants, as I'm struggling with a cold in addition to the surgery recovery so it's taken me quite some time to finish up Backyard Bushtits #1. BUT, it's done, finished, even ready to hang and it will be put on my etsy store sometime next week.

I learned a lot from doing this work in a series and I'll post later about the rest of the pieces as they finish up. Right now there are 4 of them. I've put the word "LESSON" in caps throughout my post for the things I've learned.

Here's the photo I started with. The bushtits travel in large flocks, up to a couple of dozen little birds, and they tumble across backyards here in western washington. (Probably elsewhere, but I'm not motivated enough right now to go look up their range map. I leave it as an exercise for the reader.) I really liked the way the four of them looked like a puppy pile so I snapped the photo through the greenhouse window in my kitchen and played with it in adobe until I had it cropped to a pleasing composition. LESSON #1: my technique of cutting up photos and doing a textile collage with them works better when I don't start with a good composition. It's much harder to create one that's different from the photo when I like the photo just fine to start with.

Here's the top without much done to it. I was not happy with it, and did a little in the way of paintstiks and stamps to try and rescue it with varying the colors and tones a bit. LESSON #2: remember the one rule (vary all intervals) from the beginning. The photo has more contrast and variation than the fabric printed version of the photo and I ended up having to add that back in. When it prints on the fabric and loses all the variation in color/tone that it had to start with, maybe it's time to switch to another photo or idea. It's not like I have a shortage of them, anyway....

Then I did more surface design work on it, and quilted it lightly, then put it on stretcher bars. I'm okay with how it looks, altho the composition is still more static than I like. LESSON #3: Get the composition right to begin with, improv work can go on top of a good composition but can't correct one I don't like to start with. LESSON #4: don't put the batting all the way out to the edge of the fabric for stretcher bars. I don't like the bulk on the sides and corners when I wrap the fabric around with the batting going all the way to the edges. We'll see if I can get this one better on #2 which is now in the quilting phase and should be finished before Monday.

I'll just point out that the yellow added to the birds shows up much stronger in the photo than it does in person. I'll have to play with the photography before I list this piece on my etsy store. I'm not entirely sure it's fixable as part of the problem is the reflective quality of the silk I printed the photo on. The other possibility is that the watercolor pencils I used reflect differently enough that they will always pop out visually in a photo. We'll have to see...

Monday, February 9, 2009

weekly photo: Larsen lake 1/31

I'm late posting last weekend's photo, which is just as well, as I didn't get photos this weekend because I'm having a delayed reaction to having surgery. I'm spending a few days curled up in my pj's and reading rather than doing much of anything. But, last weekend, I took some photos at Larsen Lake. The first one is another interesting one of the great blue heron. It's official, I am obsessed with him.

The second is a possible starting point for a piece based on "urban decay". It's not really the typical urban shot, but Larsen Lake is within sight of a major street, and in the middle of a city, so that sounds pretty urban to me. I like the reflections on the water and may end up using it for something else if I find something more appropriate for the urban decay piece.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Going green: high speed rail

While we're looking at spending money on national infrastructure and building the future green economy, here's some thoughts about how we can try to catch up with others who already have high speed rail. The source of this excerpt, Plan B 3.0 by Lester Brown, is one of the books being used by the folks in Washington and other places to push for a comprehensive restructuring of the US economy. I think they're aiming in the right direction so it's worth checking out.