Body Butter

My Solstice gifts this Winter were tins of a very special body butter – literally.

The simple ingredients are:

50% coconut oil, 50% grass-fed ghee, beeswax, and lavender & vanilla essential oils.


I first melted the coconut oil and ghee separately.  Then mixed them together 50/50 and added the beeswax into the warm pot to let it melt.



Then added the essential oils and poured into the tins to cool.



It is a very sweet yummy smelling balm.  It can be slathered lavishly on any part of the body.

The ghee provides plenty of important fat soluble vitamins for direct absorption into the bloodstream through the skin, as well as enhanced healing on the skin.  Coconut oil is high in anti-oxidants, lauric acid and medium chain triglycerides.  Lavender is calming and vanilla is warming.  And the beeswax is magic.

Electromagnetic radiation and wireless radiation are now ubiquitous.  It is almost impossible to entirely escape them, and most people could not imagine why you would want to.  But particularly as the wireless radiation proliferates, more and more people are becoming sensitized to the negative effects of these technologies.

I particularly noticed my own sensitivity when the doctor that I work for changed her entire computer desk setup to wireless – a wireless monitor, keyboard, mouse, printer and a cordless phone.  Within minutes of sitting there my face would become hot – cheeks pink and flushed – and I would feel wiped out, exhausted and ill.  She also started experiencing symptoms and eventually she changed everything back to their wired versions, and now I can sit there for hours at a time.  This is a pretty dramatic example, but I think that the effects – though subtle and unnoticed most of the time – are impacting most of us at the level of our cells – creating deep chronic inflammation and irritation.  And chronic inflammation is being recognized by science as an underlying indicator in almost all disease.

As my own awareness of the dangers of this constant exposure has grown, I have also become aware of some ways to mitigate the exposure.  My friend Elan (techhealthy.com) has recently gone through part of the training to become a building biologist – someone who can evaluate the health and safety of your home based on specific criteria and help you to mediate areas of toxic exposure.   He also is and has for many years worked in the tech industry, so is intimately familiar with all sides of this technology.  I was lucky enough to be his first client after his training.  He came over with his suitcase full of new meters and measuring gadgets.


It was a very methodical process – the ultimate goal being to create a bedroom space as close to the natural environment as possible so your body can rest and heal while sleeping.  This includes reducing body voltage exposure and wireless radiation exposure as much as possible.  I sat in my bed holding the body voltage meter, watching the numbers fluctuate, while he ran around the house turning fuses off and on, putting up shielding fabric here and there.  Seeing and hearing the concrete measurements shift was very eye-opening.

Apparently I am surrounded by 8 or more cellular antennas within a half mile radius.  Also, the wiring in my home is old – called knob and tube – which is common in San Francisco and causes high electric and magnetic fields throughout the house.  And my next door neighbor has a cordless phone directly opposite my bedroom wall.

To reduce the negative impacts of these exposures he suggested the following steps:  to paint the walls in a carbon-based shielding paint (which is black and needs to be painted over.)




We painted the walls chocolate brown, with cream ceiling and trim.


The walls are grounded through a grounding plate connected to a cord which connects to…


…a grounding rod in the earth.


I also have shielding fabric as curtains over my windows.  And then I have an added layer of protection using a shielding fabric canopy over my bed.  The shielding fabric is silver and copper thread covered in polyester or cotton.  On top of these measures I also shut the power off to the bedroom at night. The final meter measurements under the canopy had body voltage levels as if I were far out in nature and not in the middle of an urban center.


It has only been a few days now sleeping this way, but I have already noticed a reduction in symptoms and profoundly deeper sleep.  I am hopeful about the long term beneficial effects of giving my body, for at least 8 hrs a day, a respite from the constant effects of wireless radiation, and high and low level electro-magnetic frequencies.

We are electromagnetic beings, and I don’t think this fact should be underestimated.

An excellent documentary about this subject has been made and is available to watch for free online - Resonance: Beings of Frequency

As things currently are, much of the ambient electrical fields around us is actually trying to ground itself through our bodies.  Compile this with the fact that most of us rarely bring our body into direct contact with the earth, the body voltage we are carrying is extremely high – when it ultimately wants to be at Zero.

This is why grounding or earthing your body can be a significant health aid because you are allowing your body to discharge the extra voltage, as well as absorbing from the vast pool of negative electrons that the earth offers – creating a potent free-radical fighting anti-inflammatory process in your body.   Earthing is accomplished by getting as much surface area of your body as you comfortably can in direct contact with the earth, being sure to remove any insulating materials, such as rubber-soled shoes, that may be in the way.  20 – 30 minutes is an ideal amount of time to reap the benefits of this practice.   caveat – please be cautious that the earth you are grounding into is safe.  High EMF environments, like cities, may have levels of voltage moving through the ground.

I am not a total luddite, although admittedly I tend to lean that way.  I just think that we are barreling forward for convenience and profit at the expense of the precautionary principle.  Let’s create incredible technologies that don’t poison us at the same time.  Let’s create living spaces and cities that are actually regenerative and increase health and vitality.  The technology already exists.


Felted Vest

I took another felting workshop with Katharine Jolda in August.  This was a full weekend long vest making workshop.  It was held at Bodega Pastures, a sheep ranch in the coastal hills of West Sonoma County.





We had lots of wool to choose from thanks to the local sheep.


Katharine introducing us to the process.


After picking our wool we began the process of fluffing – a long process of separating the fibers by hand or with hand carders or a carding machine.

But this day was extra special because Katharine had hired two members of Kitka to come out and sing Eastern European folksongs to us as we worked.  A truly magical experience.


A butterfly wanted to help me with my fluffing.


Katharine’s famous bicycle-carder.


After a long day of fluffing and carding in the sun, measuring and cutting out patterns from plastic garbage bags, then getting a tour of the barn, we had a potluck dinner and set up our tents in the field.  And had a campfire before bed.


Then breakfast with the sheep.


We started early laying out our fluffed wool on bamboo mats.


After pouring on warm soapy water, pressing gently, then patting, then rubbing, and rubbing rather briskly the wool began to felt.  At a certain point we layed out our patterns.


Then it was ready to be rolled.


Katharine demonstrating the proper rolling position.


Two lovely examples of felted vests.


Katharine’s vest with abalone buttons.


The vest takes a couple days to completely dry. ta daa!


I still haven’t added the gorgeous buttons I got from Wooly Moss Roots.


But now that it is getting chilly I will finish this up soon.


Apron #2

another bed linen apron made on the treadle…


side aoron

It’s a double-layered nice and thick work apron.

I used this pattern from Ink and Spindle (except I didn’t use the D-rings.  I just made a tie at the neck.)

pillowcase apron

I am starting a project of sewing aprons on the treadle made from re-purposed kitchen and bed linens.

This first one was super easy – almost felt like cheating – because the pillow case already had a nice ruffle on it.


I simply cut off the part I didn’t want.

cutting pillowcase

Then using fabric from a cotton comforter cover I cut out the waist tie.

cutting waist band

Sewed it up on the treadle.

sewing on treadle

ta daa!  Little waist apron.

finished apron on chair

It looks kind of like a skirt…

apron looks like a skirt

…but it’s an apron.

it's an apron

(thanks for taking the pics of me Ma.  That’s her cute patio in San Bruno.)

felted slippers

Sean and I went to the first annual Wool & Fine Fiber Symposium in Point Reyes Station back in November.

Fiber Symposium sign

It was an inspirational event updating the community about the state of the local Fibershed project, uniting artisans, farmers, shepherds, shearers and entrepreneurs.

symposium slide show

local pastures table


We were inspired by this pair of slippers we saw there.


We wanted to make our own.  Sean bought some nice brown felt while we were there.  I bought some processed wool from Meridien Jacobs to make a sheet of felt myself.

So first I had to make the felt.  I laid out strips in one direction.

felted slipper wool

Then I laid more strips on top of that in the opposite direction.

alternate wool layout

And a few more layers until I had a nice thick pile.

ready to get wet

Close up.

wool close up

Then I dribbled warm soapy water all over it.

sprinkling water

Then I began to gently PRESS the wool, letting it soak up the water and start to squish together.


After a while of that I started to gently rub with my hands back and forth, creating friction.  I used a little plastic mesh bag to help create friction without disturbing the fibers too much until they really started to cling strongly together.  Then I began to rub pretty vigorously as the fibers shrank and got more tightly enmeshed.

rubbing with scrubby

I actually ended up throwing it in a quick wash and spin cycle of the washing machine to felt it further, then let it air dry.

Once it was all dry we were ready to cut out our slipper patterns we had found online here.

cutting out pattern

all cut out

cutting slit




Sean sewing

Sean and his slipper.


working on the heel

the heel.

Sean has only finished one so far.

one done

We used embroidery thread to sew around the edges.

sewing in rocking chair

close up

both done

Rustic but functional. :-)

the heels

Then I added some leather soles.

leather soles

First time I used an awl.

hole punching

sole stitches

ta daa!

yay, slippers.  I love them.

slippers finis

The whole process took about nine hours, spread out over three days.

I have leftover felt, so I’m sure I’ll be trying some other patterns.

Winter Solstice 2012


The sunrise was exceptionally beautiful that morning of Dec. 21.

This year I had no tree or decorations other than a wreath and door swag that I made at a community wreath making workshop at the Sunnyside Conservatory in SF.






Working with these materials was aromatherapy.



Also, as gifts this year I made little packages of blank photo cards w/envelopes.


A time of making and gifting.

A time of welcoming solar energy.

A time of endings and beginnings.

A time like and not like all other time.


felting with Sean

On a very rainy Saturday Sean and I took a felting workshop at Tilden Park in Berkeley.  There were lots of options of what we could make.


The instructor gave us wool from the Little Farm’s black  welsh mountain sheep to use.  The wool was slightly brown because the wool gets “sunburned.”


Sean helped out with the carding – preparing the wool by pushing it through a series of combs.


Then came the gentle stage of softly pressing the wool for a while, with a little added warm water and soap.


And then much later the stage of pretty vigorously rubbing rubbing rubbing, and then rubbing some more.


The rain cleared for a while and we got to walk around the farm.  And we got to meet the rams our wool came from.


pretty impressive horns.


She was flirting with us.


After bringing them home, rinsing well and letting dry, we have little pouches!  Sean made a little wallet pouch with a cool decorative moon, and I made a slightly bigger purse that I will add straps to.


The East Bay Parks have an amazing Activities Calendar.  They have such a variety of interesting classes, workshops and walks – and at a very reasonable cost.  And it is a great way to start to explore some of our many regional open spaces. They are a valuable resource.  Check them out if you can:



click on the Activity Guide PDF.



Atl Atl and dart making

I am going through a mini-obsession with learning basic hunting and gathering skills.

I recently went fishing for the first time, and did some shooting practice with an old 22, on a visit to my grandparent’s house in Maine.  I’ve always been curious about archery, and then I came across this workshop in the calendar of events in the East Bay Parks Guide.  Atl Atl and Dart making at Tilden Park.  This is a hunting tool used all around the world pre-bow and arrow.  The atl atl is basically a stick with a hook on it that you use to throw a spear with greater strength and distance.

atl atls

They are made in many different ways and out of many different materials.  We were given some basic tools and basic instructions and then just started hacking away at some branches.  Having the right tool to do the job is the key with wood working.


tools and such



Clamps are very handy.


So was this awesome axe.


I used a saw to make the lines.

A knife to hack out the wood bits.

I forget what this tool was called, but it was amazing for shaving the wood.

Then this file thing to smooth out the edges.


After attaching a handle it was done.

ta daa!

atl atl

atl atl

The instructor demonstrated how to attach the feathers to the dart.

adding feathers to the dart

adding feathers to the dart

the finished duo.

atl atl and dart

atl atl and dart

Target practice:

me with atl atl


Learning about this appealed to me for a few reasons:

Historical curiosity, connecting with natural elements, learning new skills, and having fun.

I doubt I would actually use this to hunt for food, but it is actually legal in some states to do just that. As with everything else, there are atl atl enthusiasts out there, with even a World Atl Atl Association (WAA).

canning craziness…

I was going to skip doing a blog post this month but my mom really wanted me to show the extent of our preparedness for our two week cross-country road-trip coming up soon.

All of my other projects have been set aside this month for canning.  LOTS of canning.

canned food

I am having food allergies and intolerances to a higher degree than normal right now, so my diet is very restricted.  I decided in order to be the most comfortable and relaxed on our trip we would just have to bring all of our food.  Thus the canning frenzy.  I’ve pretty much got it down to a rhythmic flow by now though.

We also have invested in a travel water filter to insure we have access to clean water.  The Berkey system is economical and sturdy.


We will have a bit of a heavy load, but we are so excited to see friends and family all along the way across the continent.

And to have our good home-cooked food with us.

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