sweetfigs   s w e e t   f i g s


                in pursuit of a fruitful life


Friday, April 27, 2007

Eye Candy Friday

Happy Friday! It's been rainy and chilly for about a week, and this little tulip is reluctant to make its debut.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Yes, but will the dog like it?

Libby isn't loving the smell of her new Farmstead Natural Dog Shampoo bar, which is probably a good thing.

Remember when we vacationed in the southwest last January? When we were in Santa Fe I got to indulge in some time at the Japanese-style spa Ten Thousand Waves, where I found this handcrafted, locally-made muscle salve containing arnica, St. John's wort, olive oil, beeswax, and lavender:

It's got some other ingredients, but those are the high notes.

I started using this wonderful concoction on my sore shoulder every night before dozing off, and my aches and pains were really improving. One night, though, I left it on top of the nightstand instead of putting into the little drawer, and the next day, while we were at work, Lib found it and consumed the entire jar. I think I had this little treasure for less than 2 weeks, and it was all gone:


I ordered some more from the woman who makes it, but the package from Jae Bird got waylaid and it took about a month to arrive in Chicago. Such a drag. And then I forgot again, left it out on the nightstand, and the new jar almost met the same fate:
Since there's no such thing as a muscle salve for my memory, it's probably for the best that I search out skin care products made from edible, organic ingredients. I've been doing that since I learned skin ingests whatever goes on it, including shampoo, soap, lotion, and cosmetics.

When I did the spring cleanse this year, the Ayurvedic physician had me use a bottle of Spectrum Naturals cold-pressed corn oil for the daily self-abhyanga (a massage that stimulates the lymph system). It seemed a little weird to be finding my massage oil in the cooking oil and spices aisle at the grocery store, but it made sense, so I did it.

Any way, the Jae Bird salve joins some hand poured soap, pots of rich hand cream, and a bottle of massage oil that have been lapped up by my favorite canine. At this point, I kind of know what she likes, and think of her when I'm shopping for moisturizer.

I showed Lib her new "treat" this morning, and she didn't try to lick it, so we're good.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Going Green

On Saturday afternoon we rode bikes down the lake front path to attend the Green Festival at McCormick Place. We're bike commuters, so pedaling 20 miles without car traffic was a lot of fun, and even earned us 1/2 off the price of admission.

There were speakers, yoga classes and, most of all, vendors. Hundreds of them! We talked with people about low toxicity housing materials, low impact condominium developments, a new Chicago cohousing project that is searching for a building site, tankless water heaters, socially conscious investment funds, green lifestyle magazines and satellite radio stations, self-help books, raw food, organic tea, coffee, locally-harvested honey, energy bars, dietary supplements, yogurt drinks, organic hemp and bamboo clothing, vegan shoes, yoga mats, handbags made from recycled vinyl billboards, reuseable cotton shopping totes, natural skin care and body scents...

Get the picture? We wandered around for at least 3 hours, and I can't remember all the stuff we talked about, looked at, and sampled or chowed on in the food court.

Some of my favorite finds were skin care products from Baraboo, Wisconsin's Four Elements Herbals, and Toronto's Living Libations. This summer we'll take one of Scotch Hill Farm's Farmstead Natural Dog Shampoo Bars up to the lake house in the Upper Peninsula and find out if Lib likes it any better than liquid shampoo. OK, she probably won't like getting a bath regardless, but at least this bar is scented with essential oils and smells way better than her usual, chemically stuff. It's made from a base of goats milk and I think I recognize a few ingredients that are natural insect repellants, like penny royal and lavender.

I was surprised to see handspun yarn, fiber, and busy spinners from Rockville, Illinois' Esther's Place . The spinners drew quite a crowd (mostly men and children). I was tempted by their colorful felting kits, but I stuck to my yarn diet.

I even found things I wasn't looking for, like Chyawanprash (an Ayurvedic product), and this really cool stainless steel container from Berkeley's To-Go Ware for carrying my lunch. It looks sort of like a tea pot, huh?

When I did the Ayurvedic spring cleanse last March, I wasn't really happy about carrying my lunch to work in plastic tubs, but there didn't seem to be any other practical option. And I've been trying to pack my lunch more often, so this came in good time.

We also happened upon Soul Vegetarian's booth in the food court. I've heard good things about this south side restaurant for years, but it's too far away for us to patronize, unless we planned ahead, and there are so many wonderful options closer to home. We had some sort of marinated seitan, kale, mashed sweet potatoes, and cornbread. It wasn't low calorie food, but it was very, very good.

This was the Green Festival's first year in Chicago, and I hope it returns. We came away with great information and products and would definitely go again.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Eye Candy Friday

Happy Friday! Chicago is having marvelous Springy weather this weekend, but I'm not fooled into thinking it's here to stay. It's not Spring until it's safe to head to the garden center and load up on gorgeous tender plants for our flower beds. Let's see what this next week brings us.

I'm still having issues with the photos I took at the Bohus workshop, but this one seems to be OK:P1010195

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Susanna, Bohus, and more photos to follow

Susanna Hansson's Bohus workshop was fabulous! I want to write up a class summary and upload all the cool photos she let me take, but instead I've been fixing a problem created by my photo editing software. You know, all that spare time I have.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Isn't it Spring yet?

Happy Friday! I wanted to take a pretty spring picture this afternoon and upload it before we went for dinner, just in time for Eye Candy Friday, but the weather today is not so spring-like and we're having a dinner guest/house guest, so that's probably not a realistic plan.

One of D's sisters is coming over (he's got 5 sisters). She's been vacationing in Florida, and will spend the weekend in Chicago before heading home to northern Ohio.

She probably thought it was safe to come back north in April. Ha. I hope she knew about the blecky, snow-on-the-spring-buds type of weather we've been having lately! We're going to enjoy her sunny disposition no matter what Old Man Winter is trying to pull. :)

Knitters, if you like to make socks, scamper like a bunny over to Alison's Blue Blog and sign up for a sock exchange pal. Due to high demand, as in 800+ knitters, the signups for Sockapalooza 4 are going to close early. Hurry, it's last call already:



Thursday, April 12, 2007

The ladies at Schoolhouse Press rock!

This weekend I'll be taking a Bohus stickning workshop with Susanna Hansson.

I'm so excited about this class! I've admired the Bohus style for about 15 years, but this is my first chance to see and feel actual Bohus sweaters and study with an expert. I hope Susanna lets me take pictures!

Susanna is bringing us the yarn to make wristlets in the Blue Shimmer pattern, and all we have to do is bring our needles. Teeny tiny needles, in sizes ranging from 1.50 mm to 3.00 mm, because we don't know what we'll need to get gauge. A 2mm is smaller than a Chibi and 1.5 mm resembles a sewing needle.

A while back I had to special order the 2 mm/size 0 needles I like to use for sock knitting, so I knew it would be tough to find the 1.75 mm and 1.5 mm sizes for this class. And then I completely forgot to order them. Thankfully, my classmate Corinne reminded me about a week ago, which is just barely enough time to order and receive a package in the mail. I threw myself at the mercy of the ladies at Schoolhouse Press, and they came through! They shut early on Good Friday, but still managed to fill and mail my order before they left for the weekend.
When D handed me the package on Monday afternoon, my eyes got buggy. I should have known that the home office of Zimmermania would take care of me. I heart Schoolhouse Press. ;)


Monday, April 09, 2007

FO Report -- Knitted Easter Bunny


Beginning knitters take note -- this little bunny is quick and easy to make.

I whipped it up in about 2 hours while I was teaching a friend how to knit. All I had to do was knit a little square, sew it into the bunny shape, add the stuffing, and then knit and attach the ears and pom pom tail.

Materials: a leftover fistful of Lamb's Pride Worsted, 5mm/US#8 needles, a Chibi tapestry needle to sew the square into a bunny shape, a fistful of toy stuffing. I pinched together the small snips of yarn that were left from stitching up the bunny legs and tummy, added a few more bits, and had the tiny pom pom tail.

If you used smaller yarn and needles to make your square, you could get by with even less yardage. Also, this little bunny requires just the smallest bit of toy stuffing, and if you didn't want to search out a whole bag of it, you could probably just fluff up some of those fake cotton balls.

The little bunny lived with me for a couple of weeks, but on Easter I gave it to the friend I was teaching to knit.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Eye Candy Friday

Yes, I'm here and I'm still blogging! I've just had a very busy Spring. I've been at the yoga studio (mostly Vinyasa with the occasional Bikram or Ashtanga class), the swimming pool, caught up in a 2-week Ayurvedic spring cleanse, spring cleaning around the homestead, and most recently, studying Thai bodywork. To say I feel great is a bit of an understatement, but there's been little time for me to make stuff or take photographs.

At any rate, I was inspired to photograph these colorful, undyed eggs that I found at the local grocery store.

Kalona Organics calls them Natural Beauties, and says they're laid by a South American hen called an Auracana, Ameraucana, or Easter Egg hen, and can be blue, green, grey, tan, olive, or even pink. I had no idea!

Have a great weekend, everyone, and Happy Easter to those who celebrate it.