Sunday, January 24, 2010

Update:Rhipsalis - Mistletoe cactus: are Endangerd in Florida!

(photo is after cleaning up the plant and the planter )

I was cleaning up the plant and pot a bit and found a plastic hand written tag that said "Rhipsalis aka Jungle cactus." That was a serious help , lol, wish i had found this sooner it would have saved me all that energy I spent guessing at what it was! (insert head smack here)

I can not believe that with all the horticulture books, plant encyclopedias, cactus books, and flora and fauna literature I have in this house, I don't have but one dang picture ( and not even a good one at that ) of this plant BUT i did find some good stuff through comments left on my blog ( than goodness for you guys) and through privet emails with friends who own a couple green houses and the internet . ( and I have only begun to scratch the surface ... )

Guess I need to hit the book store ( used and new). humph!
(but, then,... any excuse to hit the book stores right?! ;P )

I have had such a blast the last 24 hours learning about a new plant baby.. There are so many photos out there of really gorgeous specimens of this plant, I hope I have as much luck with this one . Here is some of what I have learned thus far.

apparently these are:
a cacti, (not a succulent but that source could be wrong as I have not found other info else where either confirming or denying it)

a non damaging parasitic plant,
living on trees ( again causing no damage to the tree itself).

usually found in tropic/sub-tropic climates and an "old fashioned" floral planter green, rarely used in the USA currently

and endangered as a wild species in Florida ( but I don't Think I have that species???? I want to believe mine was in a floral arrangement sent to the individual who had it first)

Rhipsalis (rhipsalis comes from the Greek word for "wicker")
Mistletoe cactus
Jungle cactus

Genus: Epiphytic cactus (to be epiphytic is to grow sitting on trees or to root in the tops or bends of host trees ... not exactly the definition, but I get what they mean )
Genus: Rhipsalis , aprox. 40 members strong ( give or take)
Family: Cactaceae

Other names I found for it: ( they had to have a photo that was a very good representation of the plant I am working with currently for me to list the "Folk or Common Names " I list here)
Old Man's Beard
Wickerware cactus
Witches Hair Cactus

Some Basics:

Slow grower

Higher water needs than standard cactus ( once every 2 weeks in the indoor environment when established; when ever the soil looks dry on top when rooting; and When ever the first top inch of soil is dry while out side in summer months .. this could be any where from every day to every week.)

Benefits from a tropical plant type humidity level as apposed to the dryer cactus type environment.

indirect bright filtered light for at least 2 to 4 hours a day in winter and more so in summer ..

Soil : should be slightly acidic composed largely of organic material ( some one even suggested I should grab up some oak leaves ( sounds good) and "hair trimming" -yes my hair - and mix this in to help enrich the growing medium... I will have to think about that one - the hair trimming thing i : best to use an equal parts mix of orchid soil, perlite, sphagnum moss or peat, crushed rocks , and sand,

Apparently it is safe ( so long as the soil quality is good) to harden off any cuttings for 24 hours ( but apparently no longer ) before planting it and it can be stuck back in the pot with the parent-plant so long as there is adequate room for the baby plant to grow.

in the wild:
Lives on trees in the tropics as a non parasitic plant which lives on a host such as a tree.. usually under the canopy as it need filtered bright light.

Effort to re-claim the plant (my combining of suggestions of many sorces came ot these conclusions that hopefully will work best for me) :

first I watered my plant-rescue and let it rest (going on 48 hours now). Because of the conditions of the substrate (completlly dry through out) and the look of the stems (some shriveled to death literaly and others on theier way to it), I now don't think overwatering was the problem. I think this plant had been left to dry for to long, and that is most likely its main source of distress currently.

Second, I peruned this in the following mannor .. ( as suggested by an local-ish botanical employee from Fort Wayne)
Gently grasp a stem that wasn't green between my thumb and first 2 fingers. Give it gentle but firm push with your thumb into your slightly seperated fingers .

The stems that are dead should just pop like... well what they were, dead twigs, and the ones that were still viable barely bent just like she said.

She also suggested I wait at the very least t 48 hours after watering before attempting any propagation technique to give the plant a chance to absorb moisture/nutrients since it was in such questionable shape.

any little stems or such that fell off i placed on a paper plate till tomorrow and will plant those as well to see what can be coaxed to growth and what cant.

So that is where I am on this rescue currently.

In the mean time, I am off to purchase some high grade orchid soil to mix in with the other stuff it is suggested I should use that i already have here.

Some other informations that has really helped:

I found a lot of helpful information on couple of the blogs I follow and thier owners were soooo kind to share what they knew. again THANK YOU !

Here are some other useful Places I found on the web if any one is interested. I will post new photos once i have repotted the parent plant and the new cuttings and learn more about my new to me plant... nothing like a new plant to rekindle a passion hey?

Blessings of renewed passion to everyone
Ma Fey

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services :
baccifera (Sol. ex J.S. Muell.) Stearn
mistletoe cactus
"Threatened and Endangered Information: Rhipsalis baccifera (Sol. ex J.S. Muell.) Stearn...This plant is listed by the U.S. federal government or a state. Common names are from state and federal lists. Click on a place name to get a complete protected plant list for that location....Florida...Mistletoe cactus...endangered"

Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center
Article: Epiphytes, Birds, and Coffee:..

Cacti in the Mist by Renee O'Connell

Cactus Blog

You Grow Girl

Michel Combernoux's Website Epiphytic Cacti
Article: Epiphytic cacti propagation

Holiday Cacti /Christmas and Easter Cactus

Houseplants- Care and Propagation

Cacti guide . com

Herself's Houseplants

Rhipsalis Capilliformis

sftrajan's photo stream

Save Florida's Native Bromelaides-Epiphytes

Help with Rhipsalis or Yikes! a much needed plant rescue!

Oh you Poor Poor Mistletoe Cactus! I Know the person who had you before now was no longer able to care for you , water you. and trim you back when needed ... But your hear now.

But should I cut and re start you in your currant condition , or should I water and fertilize you now and see if i can get you through the last of winter before cutting and re potting??

So meet My latest plant in need of a serious rescue

this is ( to the best of my Knowledge )
a Rhipsalis
aka: Mistletoe Cactus

and obviously a very old one.

apparently these are a rare cactus, or at least that's what i was told, but more research is needed as i have had little experience with this particular plant

I'll bet it was gorgeous in it's day
but now just needs to have a lot of stuff cut away

I think it is more like a succulent than a cactus but i need to check.

it obviously has a hanging nature.

wonder if i should put cactus soil substrate i it's pot or should i include some decaying woods and leaves as this is suppose to grow in trees .

I think i want to do alot more research before i make a mistake of hacking it up to do new plant starts..

hummm ok off to looking up what i can find on this baby.

Any Help any one can give on this would be seriously appreciated .

and I will update this post as I learn more

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ma Fey's Black Bean Chipotle with Adobo salsa style dip

Ma Fey's
Black Bean Chipotle Adobo salsa style dip

I am not sure if this classifies as a salsa because of the beans. I really don't know much about such things , i just go with what feels/tastes right when I cook. Now I am the first to admit my style is by no means original and that my so called ideas are influenced by a multitude of sources. I heard or read some place, the comment " I read cook books like most read novels" and thought to my self, yea me too. I also LOve shows like Alton Brown, and Chopped and well, anything food related honestly. And I am a bit adventurous ( Bless the tummies of my sometimes unfortunate family!).
Last time my Daughter was home , she made up a goody with black beans she told me was called "Texas Hash". Oh man I just couldn't get enough of it! She has told me a couple times what was in it and I am so scatter brained any more that if I don't have it written down, I find my self staring up at shelves of stuffs, wondering what it was I wanted to remember to buy this time .AUGH!

My Husband wanted salsa on his scrambled eggs last night which really sounded good to me too and then I remembered my daughter's Texas Hash and wished I had some of that to put on my egg. . Then I remembered I had bought a can of black beans, and I had also bought some Chipotle Peppers in Adobo. So here is what I came up with . ( inspired by My Daughter and her black bean goody) .
( now I think the only commonality between the 2 dishes is black beans and tomatoes. I don't know yet how my mind makes these conections but , hey, how ever it works right?).

1 - 28oz can large diced tomatoes
( drain and reserve liquid)
1- 10 oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies ( drain into same bowl as tomatoes were and reserves liquid still )
1- 10 oz can diced tomatoes with lime juice and cilantro ( drain into same bowl as tomatoes were and reserves liquid still )
1 roughly chopped sweet red bell pepper
3 to 5 chipotle peppers and
about 1/2 to 1 and 1/2 teaspoon of the Adobo sauce the Chipotle peppers are caned in.

1 small-medium sided yellow sweet onion
2 small clove of garlic minced well ( not the whole bulb just 2 smaller pieces),
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground cumin ( or store bought ground cumin)
1/4 teaspoon ground Ancho chiles
1/8 teaspoon smoked, ground Hungarian paprika
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon bottled Real Key Lime juice.
pinch of Kosher salt

1 15 ounce can of small black beans drained (
don't reserve the bean liquid) and thoroughly rinsed.

Strain the tomatoes into a bowl then add them to the food processor or blender with a chop/pulse setting (keep the liquid to add back to the salsa).
Add everything else Except the black beans to the food processor/ blender .
Pulse to desired consistency ( not to fine, this is meant to be a chunky style salsa).
Next add in the drained and well rinsed black beans. add about 1/3 of the tomato liquid and stir well. if to dry add a bit more till the salsa is of your desired consistence. Taste with corn salsa chip and adjust spices and sugars to taste. ( We like this one on the "high heat" side.)

I served it this way

1 peace of lightly toasted bread topped with

Egg scrambled with fresh diced tomatoes and green peppers , chives and green union , ( I make my scrambled eggs with sour cream and cream) then i sprinkled the eggs with some real bits of bacon and some instant mashed potato flakes ( it's a flavor thing honest) and finished them off with a sprinkle of ground gray salt , fresh ground cubeb pepper flakes and broken up slices of American yellow cheese. this layer was topped with

the Black Bean Chipotle salsa style dip which was then topped with
crushed corn salsa chips which was then topped with
Sour Cream

Not very healthy but oh MAAAAAAANNNNN that was awesome.... My Husband Hummed .. which is a very good indication of flavor.

Definitely adding this one to my comfort food list !

Ma Fey

Thursday, January 21, 2010

confessions of a garden catalog addict: The Perfect Union

O.k., I admit it .
I am a garden catalog junkie .
I have some hidden among every book case in the house.
There a a few nice old ones in the closet up stairs.
And down.
There are some stashed in the bath among the candles and towels
Others in plain sight.
There is even one tucked in the corner behind the couch ,over by the night light.

O.k., that might be a "bit" of an exaggeration . But I do have a fairly good collection of past years catalogs that I have kept for various reasons.

I also have a thing for the old catalogs, periodicals, books, prints, and photos of the old hand drawn illustrations of garden flowers and veggies.

Well the other day imagine my jubilation when I received this catalog !

I suddenly found the atmosphere a little warm.
(at first i though it a hot flash.)
But then my mouth got a little dry.
My heart began to beat a little faster .
Some thing seamed to take the breath from my very chest.
The butterflies inside me began to take flight.
I was all a flutter with anticipation of the time I would spend gazing upon it's beauty.
( or my hat and corset are a bit to tight again)
any way..
I read the cover.
2010 R. H. Shumway's Illustrated Garden Guide

Then I took in the lovely nostalgic art on the cover; both front and back.
I was taken in by its wonderful large size.

Quickly my fingers reach for the edges and flipped through to see what lay in store .
Llike a soft voice whispering gentle, loving things, it spoke to me and made my heart skip a beat when it revealed its self to me.

Old looking black and white drawings of flowers, vegetables and all sorts of garden goodies!

And what's this ?
It's prices and shipping are fair, too?!

My knees feltl week.
"Oh be still
my beating heart." I say to myself with a soft hushed gasp.

"I think I have Finally found you.
The one ."

I knew in that instant I could no longer resist it's charms .
I fell ... hard.

I know it may only be a fleeting fancy.
That any future you and I may have, you delightfully art filled seed catalog,
can only depend on how you make my garden grow.

But for now,
I will place an order with you .
So till then,
let us enjoy this illustrated illusion of a most perfect union.

For better or for worse,
May art and seed inspire you too!

Ma Fey

a Vintage Goodies Giveaway ( and not s short notice on this one)

Hey every one!
I have another giveaway to tell you about over at Octoberfarm ( this will link to the giveaway page)!
Jaz at Octoberfarm has graciously decided to share some of her wonderful finds though a weekly giveaway. She really finds some great stuff! ..... so exciting !!! So stop on over at her blog and try your hand .. I also would like to say that Jaz' blog is an awesome daily read !
Lucky Blessings to you all!
Ma Fey

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Short notice about an awesome giveaway

Short notice about an awesome giveaway
Farm Girl Cat has a Great giveaway going on over on her blog and let me tell you whom ever wind those lovely earrings she has made will Really be getting a unique hand crafted pair of beauties. ( I hope i win, i hope i win.)

there is little time left to sign up , I believe it's by mid night tonight.

Now if you miss this one , follow her blog because she apparently will be repeating these giveaways in the future.

Good Luck and Blessings !
Ma Fey

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ma Fey's Currant Tea

Ma Fey's Currant Tea
Per cup:
1 Lg Tablespoon Currant Preserves
(one made from champagne/pink or red currents is best)
1 Tablespoon Alfalfa Honey
1/4 teaspoon fresh peeled and grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon fresh Magic Michael basil ( or common sweet basil)
(can also use 1/4 teaspoon dry basil of the varieties mentioned)
1/4 teaspoon apple pie spice blend ( home made or good store bought)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 healthy pinches loose black (or green) tea

cover with 8 ounces (1 cup) - ( just to but not quite boiling) hot water.
Cover and let steep 5 to 7 minutes .
Pour / strain through cheese cloth or paper ( coffee) filter.
Serve hot.
With lemon if desired.

Rose Beads

First let me say you may have seen this article on the web before. I wrote it some time ago and have published it in a few places . But I felt it was important to post now with the garden planning going on as I plan to revamp my rose garden a bit. It needs it if I am to get good, healthy, chemical free, fragrant petals for crafting and munching. This is also great physical therapy, especially rolling the beads for finger dexterity and stringing for eye hand coordination.
Hope you enjoy the article.

Ma Fey

Making Rose Beds

First off let me say.. this sounds like a lot of work, and yes the article is fairly long, It’s really not as much work as it seams… (Because of the length of this article and the available recourses out there, I have decided not to go in to the history of these beads here; this is only the process by which I make these beads.)

Cooking time : 1 hour daily for 31 days

Harvest the rose petals: variable on method

Time for rolling beads: 1 to 3 hours depending on the amount you made.

Drying time: aprox. 2 to 5 weeks depending on humidity and warmth ( you will spend about 5 min a day moving beads on the stringer or whole making implement to keep the beads from sticking or shrinking closed )

Making the rosary or other jewelry piece: that too depends on you .

Please read the article all the way through in order to get all the hints, tips and tricks I use before starting to even collect the first rose petal. And research other methods of making them .., as there may be something out there that doesn’t work for me which might work quite well for you. No mater what.. Have fun and never work on the roase petals or with the beads when you are feeling negative or when there is a lot of negative energy in the home

What will you need to get started?

1/2 gallon of prepared water

Enough rose petals to heap over the top of a # 10 cast iron stock pot (petals only! And be sure to use roses that are NOT grown with systemic pesticides and chemical dustings! General rule is if you wouldn’t be comfortable eating the petal don’t use it to make beads with) (will yield 50 to 60 beads)

A method of grinding (a food processor or mortar and pestle, for example.)

Old , rusty, uncured, # 10 cast iron stock pot with tight fitting lid ( you’ll never want to use if for food after this)

1 Rusty iron nail (optional, but helps produce the best black beads)

Wooden spoon (which you will not use for food prep after this)

Large trivet to cool the pot of rose mush on each day

Electric blender (Blender should be one you won’t use for food ever again)

1 fresh lemon

Essential rose oil (not synthetic or diluted with carrier oil! And be sure it is safe for human consumption, I don’t recommend one formulated for perfume making or for use in oil burners as these can contain alcohol and other things that can be harmful to the skin.)

Filter your water (if not using distilled or store bought Rose water)

Regardless where you live it pays to filter your tap water, especially in areas with high mineral content. How ever you choose to filter it is up to you, but I recommend that you at least boil your water and filter it through a coffee filter to remove any heavy sediment that could ruin your beads in some way. And yes I can feel the cringes out there at the site of my aluminum water kettle … All I can say is, “ some times you just have to use what you have. And, I am making beads not foods here.” ;). Store your boiled, filtered water in a clean1 gallon container, covered loosely in the refrigerator.

Many times in recipes, the author suggest the use of rose water… well you have a couple options here too... you can buy rose water at the health food store (which can get a bit expensive for the amount you will need) or you can “distill” your own rose water. When I am short on roses and don’t have enough to make my own rose water, I use the lid to my cast iron pot, lid turned over so the handle is in the pot and allow the condensation of the simmering rose petals to collect on the inside of the pot lid and drip from the handle into the petals, and I am always careful when lifting the lid to be sure the condensation runs off back into the pot of rose petal mush. This keeps any escaping fragrance from fully getting away... and helps to intensify the rose scent. It also reduces the need for me to add more liquid, or rose water as frequently as other methods may require, which gives me less of a chance of diluting the mixture, and reduces the amount of essential rose oil I will add through out the process.

Rose petals

It will take about 6 to 8 dozen roses to get enough petals to make 1 necklace (50 to 60 beads). In the old days roses where grown in multitude and it would not be uncommon to have as many as 6 dozen or more roses at a time; but that can be hard to come buy all at once today. Have no fear though, as petals can be all fresh, all dried or a mixture containing some that are fresh, some that are dry ,while others barely wilted. The more vivid the color of the petals and more fragrant the blooms, the better and do try to chose the darkest, most fragrant you can find, but in some years, well… again, you have to use what you have. But when you are blackening them in a rusty cast iron skillet, (with an iron nail in the mush for extra boost = the rose petals react with the iron in the pan and turn black) it just means you may have to cook them a day or 2 longer to get them dark enough to achieve the much desired black color. , that’s all.

Gather the roses on dry days but in the early morning when the scent is the strongest ( with in the first hour or 2 after sunrise generally .. best if watered 24 hours before harvest)! Separate the petals from the rose. If you are going to have to store the rose petals, place them in a paper bag that you can roll the top of to seal.. give the petals a hearty shake to keep them well aerated so they dry with out molding or other wise spoiling ( or place them flat in a zip top bag and place in the freezer). You only want the petals (no leaves, stems, stamens or other parts)... ESPECIALY No green parts as the chloroform of even the driest green leaf can turn slimy and no one wants to hold a slimy bead or where a slimy necklace.. some even go so far as to separate any white parts that may be present at the base of the petals. That’s a personal choice. Just remember your end results will equal your beginning efforts.

Today roses that are NOT grown with systemic pesticides and chemical dustings can be hard to come by. Roses grown with systemic pesticides should never be used as even a long heating process will not remove chemicals that can be absorbed by and are quite harmful to the human body. The roses don’t have to be pretty.. No one will know if part of the petal was eaten and abandoned buy some random bug as it passed through the garden , or accidentally nipped with the shears while picking flowers or was spent and ready to be cut from the bush any way.

Don’t have access to a rose bush or two of your own? Ask the neighbors… most any gardener is willing to share the spent blooms. (And may appreciate the offer of help in the pruning/harvesting. ) in exchange for some of the finished beads!

( there are probably petals from about 8 to 10 dozen various roses used to achieve the quantity shown in this photo)

Chop the roses Fine

You can slice them, dice them, and pound them, any way you like. I have used scissors, a coffee grinder, mortar and pestle, 2 heavy pans (one could sit flat inside the other), a blender, and yes a food processor to powder my rose petals. The point is the finer the grind the smoother the beads and the nicer appearance they will have in the end.

OH... I should mention however, that the blender you use for grinding the pulp)rose mush) in the processing of your beads, should be one you won’t be using for food . As EVERYTHING blended in it will for ever taste like roses no mater what you clean it with and it seams no mater how well you clean it , the black liquid comes from places unseen to discolor what ever you are blending.

Cooking and further grinding.

In Victorian times the petals would be simmered for days or even weeks at a time over hot coals.. Some instructions say the petal mush should never be allowed to cool in the process while other instructions say they should be heated, cooled and heated again through out the process time. . Older instructions advice pureeing or grinding the cooked rose pulp/mush every day for about two weeks, or until the paste becomes the consistency of clay and can be easily rolled into beads. Since most of us do not use wood stoves or cook over wood burning fire places these days and the cost of fuel today can certainly be a budget buster, to say the least.

There are options … many of us have put in wood burning fire pits in our back yard.. Those low enough to accommodate a tripod to hold a pot above them are great to have, and those which have cooking grates to set a pan on to simmer over a low fire are perfect. But even if you don’t have those, you can improvise. Use an out door patio grill with charcoal upon which a pot can be safely set (those little “hibachi” type out door grills work well). ALWAYS follow fire safety rules, never leave the fire or the pot unattended, and unless you have friends helping you by taking shift... don’t leave this mixture out on an open fire all night either. Have a fire extinguisher with in reach as well as a bucket, or 5, of water... just in case. But if you don’t have access to a wood fire that you can safely cook these on, and you can afford to cook these on your stove, by all means do so they are worth the effort and expense. I do know some one who uses an electrical cooking plate! She seams to get a pretty nice bead, but she suggest using a thermometer ( like a candy or meat thermometer) as eclectic skillets can have a harder time maintaining a constant temperature. If you are choosing to do this stove top, the simmering time is 1 hour per day for most days, if using an eclectic skillet it will take 1 and 1/2 hours per day to cook.

Four further notes I would like to add at this point:

1. The moisture content in the petals and the grind texture of the petals when you start can, and often do, make the difference in the length of processing

2. The mush will remove the patina from an iron pot so you will want to use an old one and reserve it for bead making.

3. WHAT EVER YOU DO DON’T LET THEM BOIL! Just use a low simmer to heat them thoroughly.

4. When not cooking your rose petal mush, keep it covered to prevent it from forming a film on the top which can affect the over all quality of the finished product, and to prevent any extra rose essence loss through evaporation.Be sure to put any condensation on the lid back into the pot as well.

On day One : Place the ground petals in a rusty cast iron pot (with the rusty iron nail if you are using one) that has a tight fitting lid. Add just enough water to barely cover them.. Add a little bit of water at a time to the pot of rose petals and use a wooden spoon ( that you won’t be using for any thing else in the future) to press them down into the water .. if you find you can not moisten them adequately , add a bit more water. Over medium low heat, watching them closely bring them up JUST to a simmer; then reduce the heat to low, very low, just enough to keep the slow simmer going.. Remember, you don’t want them to boil , but you don’t want them to not get hot enough to break down and release their essences . Stir them well about every 15 min, but leave the lid on between stirrings. Simmer for 1 full hour. Then stir once more. Flatten them out so the mixture is level in the pan, replace the lid, remove from heat to let them cool, and let set over night. Today they may appear reddish black or burgundy.

(the rose mush in the below photo has been processed a few times already)

On the second day: Place the rose petals, cold and the nail removed from the mush , in a blender and add a bit of the prepared water you maid to it so they will blend smoothly. Blend till you have a mush. You can add more of the prepared water a teaspoon at a time if you need to help them blend/grind/liquefy more smoothly. Next, place the mush back in the cast iron skillet and add three drops of juice from a fresh lemon.. JUST THREE DROPS no more, you only want to aid the oxidization that turns the mix black .. nothing more. Now, as you did the day before, heat them just to a simmer and simmer them for 1 hour . But leave the lid off the last 15 min of the simmering . remove from heat, add 3 drops good essential rose oil , stir the mix well with the wooden spoon and cover with the lid, till tomorrow. Check on the mix frequently giving it a good stir so it will oxidize as evenly as possible. You are well on your way to forming your rose past. Today they may aprea a burnt red /brown

On the Third day : Leave the rose petals in the pot. Simmer them for 30 min with the lid on . then alow them to cool to the touch and put them in your blender and grind them for 2 to 3 min on varying speeds. Place them back in the pot and use the water you made to rinse any residue from the sides of the blender. Use this liquid to add any needed moister to the petal mush you may need to simmer them another 45 min. any remaining liquid left in the blender should be added to the gallon jug of good water you have made. This prevents waist of any essences and any water remaining from the rose petal process can be used later in milk bath treatments and hair rinse treatments. After the additional 45 min of simmering, remove the pot from the heat and add 2 to 5 drops of essential rose oil and stir this together well. Allow them to cool to the touch and with gloved hands, work the mush over well to blend and check for hard bits or lumps and to infuse with loving , nurturing, prosperous and protective intentions if yo so choose.. in other words think only happy thoughts while you are blending them with your hands. Replace the lid and let them sit covered over night again. Today they should start to look black , it may still have some under tones of brown .

On the Forth day: Place the pulp in the blender and blend for 5 min on variable speeds to really get a good smooth grind. Add some of the rose water from the gallon jug if needed to get as smooth a grind as possible. Place this into the pot again and cook with the lid off for 1 hour... adding more of the rose water if needed. Remember to use the rose water from the gallon jug to rinse the blender and to put the rinsings back in the gallon jug (referred to from here on as “rosed-water”). After 1 hour remove the petal mush from the heat and replace the lid. Let it stand over night again. Today the black should be even richer.

On the Fifth day : Again place the pulp in the blender adding some of the rose water from the gallon jug so that you can get as smooth a mash as possible . Blend for 5 min on variable speeds. Once blended place it back in the cast iron pos and heat to simmer, simmer with the lid on for 15 min . drain the condensation from the lid into the pot and stir. Then simmer with the lid off for 15 min. add some of the “rosed-water” from the gallon jug again if needed and simmer with the lid on for 15 min . Carefully remove the lid so the liquid condensation accumulated on the lid will drain back in to the pot. Simmer for the last 15 min with the lid off. Remove from heat , immediately replace the lid and let sit over night , stirring once or twice till the next cooking time.

On the Sixth day Repeat as for the fifth day, but skip putting the mush/pulp in the blender

On the Seventh day Repeat as for the fifth day , but skip putting the mush/pulp in the blender

On the Eighth Day: Repeat as for the fifth day , and this time DON’T SKIP the blender part

On the Ninth day: Repeat the process as for the fifth day but skip the blender part

On the tenth through the 30th day repeat the processes above, blending the mush is the blender every 3rd &/or 5th day as needed till it is as smooth a mush as possible.

On the 31st day you will heat the rose mush one last time but you will skip the blender part, and it won’t need to sit over night. As soon as you remove the mush/pulp from the heat add aprox. 5 to 7 drops of rose essential oil and mix it in well. Cover the pot and let it sit till cool enough to handle. Once the mixture has cooled you can begin to make your beads. (If for some reason you find that you won’t have time to roll them, don’t add the oil yet. Let them set again over night, and heat them again tomorrow for 1 hour as you have for the past 31 days. Adding water if need be from your “rosed water jug”. Each day that you must wait to roll them they need to be heated for 1 hour. Hold off adding the oil till you are ready to roll them

Making and drying the beads

Something to keep in mind, the liquid from the beads will turn what ever it touches BLACK (or at the least it will turn it gray) so caution is recommended! And be cautious of the drying place and the storage of these beads, they are notorious for absorbing what ever odors are in the room they are in ..

First you will want to gather what you need. Here is what I use:

Heavy wreath pins ( or you can use a heavy fishing line knotting it between each bead – at least 1 and 1/2 inches between knots)

Cardboard thick enough to hold the pins and drying beads stably

Muslin, pre-washed and cut into 9 to 13, 4 x 4 inch squares (these make interesting patch quilt pieces later)

Canning jar with a tight seal (I usually only need a 1 pint jar)

Rubber gloves … unless you want your fingers, nails and nail beds stained black!

1 paper plate

A warm, dry , safe place to set the beads till dry.

The wooden spoon I used to stir the rose mush with

You will want to make the beads at least twice as large as you will want the finished bead to be. The beads will shrink up

quite a bit as they dry. It should be safe enough on the 15 day of cooking to make an experimental bead.

At this point there are recipes/methods out there that recommend powdered orris root or powdered gum Arabic to be added to the mush to, help the beads last longer. I have no personal experience with these additions to my knowledge and so only mention them only as examples of what may be found in different methods.

Place a square of the muslin in the palm of your gloved hand then with the wooden spoon place a heaped teaspoon sized dollop into the middle of the square of cloth. Bring up all four corners as if to make a sachet Don’t apply pressure till you have it placed over the canning jar then squeeze , allowing the black liquid to run into the jar. Twist the top of the sachet till most all the liquid can be squeezed from the mush. Open the fabric square and lay flat on a paper plate and remove your rose bead clay. Knead this in the palm of you hand, using your thumb and finger to do so. Turning it in upon itself and working it till it is smooth. Roll this in your hand and fingers to make a ball... just like working with clay. If you find you have squeezed it to dry to stay together, add a small pinch of the moist mush from the pot to the clay in your hand or a scant drop of the black liquid you squeezed out to the ball of mush in your hand. You should continue to do this till a smooth ball is achieved. Divide this in half or thirds and roll again .. adding and kneading in small pinched of the moist mush as needed till a smooth firm ball is achieved. Gently push through one prong of the wreath pin and stand this up on the card board to dry. Be sure to leave enough room between the beads for good air circulation so the beads will dry properly and evenly. Once you have all your beads formed. Place the cardboard of pined beads in a warm dry place... Check on them daily and move the beads gently up and down the pin so the whole does not dry to small and the bead does not stick firmly to the pin or it will be lost.

Once the beads are dry, store them in an air tight container with a cotton ball that has a few drops of rose oil on them .

Once dried properly and strung, these beautiful beads should last for many, many, many years.

Body warmth from wearing or the warmth in you hands from holding them, and “working” them gently like during prayers will causes the beads to release the rose fragrance. But incase I have not yet said it, DON’T GET THEM WET.. they can and will disintegrate.

This method can be applied to almost any type of flower with petals. For amore interesting color, skip the cast-iron pot part and use an enameled pot instead.

Violets make lovely blue/lavender hued beads

Lilacs can make lavender to brown beads

Use white rose petals dried in layers of salt , and an enamel pot instead of a iron pot to make a “creamy white” bead

Lavender blossoms make a pretty purple bead

Marigolds and calendulas make nice yellows

Pink rose petals or other pink flower petals that cure properly are a beautiful vintage looking pink , though some times you get swirls of brown , or they turn a light brown.

Rose bead Byproducts

Reserve the black liquid squeezed from the mush-clay to help darken your next batch of bead. The water can be frozen up to one year for the purpose of helping to blacken the rose petal mush . Use old ice cube trays and make ice cubes from the black rose petal water. The next time you make rose beads, add one ice cube a day at the beginning of cooking time, to help enhance the black mush. Conserve the liquid and use this process each time you make rose beads .. . This liquid is also an awesome fabric die. 1/4 teaspoon of the liquid added to a pint of chamomile tea is said to be a nice hair rinse for those with auburn hair to black hair

Monday, January 18, 2010

Happy Birthday to them ! 6 Months old and growing

Wow , it is hard to believe these guys are 6 months old already ! These are Mama-Kitty's (aka; Kitty Girl ) Babies. She herself is just at a year now. We took her in when she was abandond by the neighbors when they moved in July, and not a moment to soon. She was in the house about 5 days when she gave Birth the these 4 little poopers.

Tuffy about 5 minutes old

1st born

and the only boy ! ( lucky him! he'll the first to be fixed !)

He and his first sister were found in the litter box .. he's been a Poo-head ever since! ;)

Tuffy at 6 months old

His eyes are a golden-green .
His fur is long and fluffy.
He thinks it's great fun to lay in Ma Fey's cactus collection.. Yes in them!
And ,
He loves my office chair!.. I'm Sorry, His office Chair.

He also loves naps under the blanky with Ma Fey

or maybe he thinks if I cant see him I will forget to take him to the vet . ( poor lil' fella , but I am afraid it's time to be snip-sniped. ) .

He also loves playing "bathtub hockey" with his sisters in Ma Fey's fresh cleaned bath tub..

This is LittleStar at 5 minutes old

She was second born and the meekest of the 4, then. I was blessed with the honor of tying and cutting her little umbilical cord.. She was pushed aside a bit by her brother and sisters. because she just wasn't aggressive at all , so she always got a little extra help finding "her spot at the Mama-fountains" for the first 4 or 5 weeks.

As you can see she has grown into a very healthy, happy, and right properly playful young lady .

She thinks she is the Queen of all things , that is till Mama-Kitty comes around.

when she is in the mood she is quite the poser , she knows the beeps ans clicks of my camera well.

I love her long "tortety-marked" hair ( and I am sure I didn't spell that right at all .. sorry )

This is Gem at about 1 hour old. she is the third born. I could have used her 5 min picture but , I just love this photo with her tucked safely into my husbands hands.

Her strips were so silvery white when she was first born, though now she is more brown than her "twin" Neye.. they were literally born almost at the same time , she was out and as Mama-Kitty when to reach around to clean her up , out popped her sister.. so Mama-Kitty got a little help on the braking of the sack and stimulating them to start suckling..

She loves to curl on the couch under the blanky too. She doesn't care who she curles up with , as long as they are willing to share the warmth with her .

Would you believe that she is now the smallest in size of the 4 kittens. Don't let that fool you though she is as rambunctious as any of them. And as loving.

I do need to have the vet check her eyes though , there is still quite a bit of blue in them golden orbs, and some times she "misses her mark" when we play or she jumps and such .

Gem is so pretty and has really grown from the shyest of them to the most loving and playful little thing and is the first to come to her name.

LittleStar and Gem hang together alot ,

But then Gem doesnt' give any one much choice when she wants thier attention.

this is Neye at about 5 min old
she was the 4th born
the 2nd largest
was the most out going

It is so wild how Neye is now whiter than her sister Gem , and I know I don't have them confused, because Neye has always had the one gold fur patch on her right side .. since she was born.

I am glad i haven't reupholster this chair yet because I think Neye has laid claim to it .

She has become so shy . I keep working with her as much as she lets me .

she is very playful though and loves when i get our the fleece on a stick toy.. she moves quick ! she'll probably be the best mouser next to her Mama.

Well , guess it's time for


yup this is the exciting game of chase the drain screen around the tub..

Mama-Kitty watches from above to be sure they are all playing nicely .

But just after this photo was taken , Neye stole the drain screen and off she went with Mama-Kitty and her brother and sisters running after her.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I am reminded, and I give thanks

so I finally downloaded all 120 picks off my cell phone today and i had forgotten all about these .. we were at the local farm supply store last spring and they had so many "cute little fuzzies". I just wanted to scoop them all up and take them home in my pocket, but I couldn't figure out how to explain the sudden need for a chicken coup and duck pond to my husband, I just took picks home with me to remember them chicks by.

It was a small blessing actually to find these today. With all the death going on in the world, I was starting to just feel a bit dismal about everything.

Then I found these forgotten photos and it reminded me that with death comes rebirth .
And even though, right now, we may not be able to see our way through the brush and brambles before us , a hand will come to us and it will guide us through.

It was a much needed bright spot and a warm welcoming reminder of all things greater than myself .

You know the old saying of not being able to see the forest for the trees ? I had been feeling like that. Like no matter how hard or not I looked I just couldn't see what I thought I needed to see.

But, I am reminded that , when the time comes, I will see clearly all that I need to .

I still must take some time to ponder my course and I will have to do my part to clear my path just like every one else must do from time to time.

But isn't it wonderful to know , that we are not alone when we must face lifes unknown?

Today I give thanks for All I love and all that loves me .
and it harm none
including me
Blessed Be
Ma Fay

Monday, January 11, 2010

Memories,Memorabilia and some Snail-Mail Goodness

So I have found my self lost in the past over the last several days. It started with me Looking for a favorite photo of my Grama Grace to post with her Poor Man's Cake recipe and, after digging around in the closet where such treasures are safely tucked, it has taken on a life/blog of it's own . Yup! I spent the last 2 days focused on scanning in photos and posting them in some semblance of order as to who they are on my other/new blog and emailing a couple of family members the addy for it so they can see what I have (and hopefully help add to it at some point some of the goodies they have).. I know i should probably go to something like, but i just don't have the extra in my budget to pay thier membership fees.. so a second blog will have to be the solution .

In among all the photos and such are all sorts of fun post cards and letters and other memorabilia, like the photo of the post card on this post ( from the 1930's I believe).

We were such a good nation at helping each other keep a "stiff upper lip" and muddle through such ruff times. Now, in the age of computers, and I must admit I am guilty of this too, we tend to forget the magick that can be brought to us or delivered to another through such expressions as the hand written letter and post notes. Yes, Yes . I Know we are trying to save the trees and the planet by cutting our paper usage and all..

But for just a moment,

close your eyes;
think back to that one special occasion when you are the one running up the road or stepping out onto the porch to retrieve the mail left by the local postal carrier;
Feel the leap in your heart when you read the envelop and discovered the letter was for YOU!; Allow, for a moment, the return of the feeling of anticipation at what was in side of that envelope; And now, relax in the memory of how excited and comforted you were to get the news, photo or gift that magick little card carried from some one who remembered you!

There now didn't that take you away on a mini-memory-vacation filled with romantic reminiscences of the past?

Believe it or not there are still those out there with out e-mail and cell phones and other fancy modern day gizmos of communication. I bet they would love to hear from you right now.. so make a little note card from something reclaimed or buy a little note cared and send them some warm fuzzy feeling to reminisce about some future day .

Happy Blessings every one
Ma Fey

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Grama Grace's Poor Man's Cake

This was My Grama Grace in 1933
(aka my "Cha-caw-go" Grandma. She was very insistent we learn how to say Chicago properly!) and this is what I inherited as her recipe for a cake she called a "Poor Man's Cake ."

I am making no claim that she invented this cake in any way ! I am only saying that this is how she made them and what she taught me about them and making them .

Poor Mans Cake was big thing in our house. After she and Grampa came to live with us, it became even more important. She would ship these cakes all over to family and friends most often at thier request.

The Magick of the Poor man's cake was all the substitutions you could use to make it work. It was a cake that could be made with what was on hand in the depression era kitchen, and it always tasted the same .. WONDERFUL!!!
For example , if there were no eggs in the house then you could sugstitute with 1 teaspoon baking soda in 2 teaspoons hot water for 1 egg; or if you couldn't get brown sugar,then for each cup needed in brown sugar, you would mix 1 cup white sugar with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the best molasses ( or sorghum) you had on hand .If you didn't have Shortening, you could use lard (don't reduce salt if using lard)or fresh creamery butter and reduce salt in the given recipe to 1/2 teaspoon ). If you didn't have or couldn't afford to buy raisens, but you had dried apricots or cherries or apples or currents or..( you get he picture) other fruites from the tree out back or put up over the summer for winter storage you could use that fruit instead of the raisens. If you had Just a hand full of nut meats you could chop and add them , or if you were lucky enough at Yule to get your hands on an orange , you would grate the peal and use it in the cake for an extra holiday zing, and you didn't waist any part of that precious orange either. (the above photo shows 2 cakes staked. I divided the batter to make 2 some what different cakes and to make them go further.)

Making Grama's Poor Man's Cake also tought us about problem solving, flexibility, and to appreciate what you had and not worry about what you didn't . I often think that being raised by Depression era elders has helped me help my family in so many ways in these currant and in past economically trying times.

I am posting the recipe the way she wrote it and the way I most often use it , but I must admit I do like to play with it a bit, adding different fruits and nuts and some times a bit of chocolate chips ( especially white) to the cake .. I love this cake almost as much as I love my Grama Grace, I am so glade to have such wonderful memories too, they make me feel as though she was right there in my kitchen , filling me with her love and guidance every time i make Grama Grace's Poor Mans Cake.

Grama Grace's Poor Man's Cake
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups good water heated till hot
2 teaspoons shortening
3/4 cup raisins
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground fine
1 teaspoon cloves, ground fine
1/2 teaspoon allspice, ground fine

Boil all the above for 5 minutes, cool!

next add the following:
1 teaspoon baking soda in 2 teaspoons hot water .
stir in well then add:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Mix all together well!!
pour into greased tube pan(s) ( also known as a bundt pan)

Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees F.

If you divide the batter over 2 pans, you will want to start checking at 45 minutes for
done-ness ad keep a close eye on it after until done as this cake can burn fast!

If you plan to ship this cake to some one , let it completely cool. then glaze it with a fruite jelly mixed with 3 tablespoons hot water and basted on the whole cake surface . let set 12 hours more on wire rack to "dry" , then sprinkle with a bit of sugar ( powdered) before packing in a wax paper lined cake tin . Ship right away.

Hope you enjoy , it's great in the morning with some scrambled eggs and hot coffee!!

Blessings !
Ma Fey