Alterations

Rosey quartz

I have lots of beauties coming through the altar space. I love adding new textures to the table: stones, fur, ceramic, wood, metal, bundles of sage.

This week I added a precious embroidered heart and star from Kiwi Pets Boutique.

I also couldn’t resist Magdalene Rose Milk and Holy Trinity Balm with spoons from La Magdalene.

My honey brought me an abalone shell to fill with treasure.

New altar pieces

And I got rid of my extra couch and made space for yoga, exercise, meditation and relaxation. Now I just have to use it!

Amethyst magic

Relax, my dear

We are at the Home and Garden show and need to get across the exhibit hall to the compost talk. Jason is buying rocks at a booth and showing the lady photos of his rocks. I let him know we need to go and then walk down the aisle to wait for him to finish. We are fifteen minutes late. As we walk together across the hall, he tells me to relax.

“I AM relaxed,” I assure him.

We enjoy the talk which is funny and informative (apparently I need a thermometer for my compost pile.)

Later, we are in a candy shop with novelty socks. I read aloud the pair that first catches my eye, “Bitch, I AM relaxed.” We look at each other and smile.

Then Jason buys me a pair of socks!

My new socks

Cat Children

My cats have their own rooms in the house. Now of course you know they both take up 75% of my bed every night like it’s their job, but they need somewhere to go during the day, now don’t they?

Elvis is an underachieving office manager; he’s basically a glorified paperweight. He sits on Jason’s desk and my office chair, like, a lot. This career path has been his calling since there was paper on a desk and a human trying to read it.

Biggie claims the guest bed as his own. Today, he brought a nice big lizard into his room for fun and games! The lizard didn’t want to play. I heard him scratching at a box and when I moved it, surprise!

Luckily we were able to return the lizard back to it’s home and out of ours safely.

The Mantis Child

Mantis on squash

I have two mantis egg sacs from Arbico Organics out of Tucson, AZ. After a couple weeks, they hatch and crawl all over looking for a good meal, which is your garden pests!

On the first day after release I use the hose to water nearby and watch them drink the droplets of water.

Every day I go outside to play where’s waldo with my mantis kids. By the third day, I can hardly find any except a handful of crispy babies that didn’t make it.

There are about four mantis children in my herb garden. Usually I find them on the rosemary and squash; today I found them in the chard and lemon balm.

Mantis egg sacs
Free the mantis!
Mantis having a drink
Mantis on chard
Mantis on squash
Mantis on lemon balm

Compost Flower

The compost situation is blooming into a beautiful pile of nutrient rich soil. The hummingbird always lingers at the box as it flies by. How sweet!

I’m getting good with shredded office paper for browns but I just added used paper towels to the repertoire as well (it’s thrilling, I know.)

When I chicken-sit, my compostables get redirected to the hens. The chickens love apples and the turtles love papaya, like me! I love watching them eat.

Family Fabric

Mom visited and helped me get so many projects done. She transplanted cactus and moved rocks, painted and held the ladder for Jason (aka ladder talk,) prepared food and cleaned the kitchen- what a dream! And now she’s finished the quilt.

It’s a log cabin style quilt top from Nan Nan, my grandmother. I bought material for the border and started pinning and quilting it all together with the help of our friend Aunt Bev.

I am a perfectionist and an overdoer. I keep quilting and quilting- more! More! As I begin another layer of stitches, the fabric starts to feel more stiff than I want. So I stop, but now the stitching is not symmetrical… I consider quilting more on the other edge or all the edges but it’s already too much so I hesitate to continue.

I lie the quilt across the couch and step back to look at it. As my eye wanders, I see the little yellow square in the center of every single larger square …except THAT one, yes, that one- right there smack dab in the middle of the quilt. That yellow square is not in the right place! It should be kitty corner to it’s current spot. Did they notice that it was off and place the incorrect square, square in the middle on purpose? Is this a sign for me to stop being a perfectionist? Will the quilt still keep me warm if the stitching isn’t symmetrical? Does this run in the family?

The yellow square of offness

When I trim the quilt sandwich (front, batting and back) before the edging is added, a couple of corners are too short in the back. Instead of making the border thinner, I scrap together one of the last shreds of fabric on hand to extend the shorter corner. Lesson learned- I’m scrappy, not perfect!

Now mom has come to visit and we are getting the sewing machine running again. Lord keep that bobbin in the case! I print out the necchi manual and show her how to sew on the bias, like Bev showed me. Then we iron and sew the edging onto the front of the quilt.

Finally, mom pins and hand stitches the edging to the back of the quilt as we sit on the couch and talk. Axel comes over from next door and helps her put the pins back in the stuffed tomato.

Family heirlooms & baby Yoda

Fairy Garden

So, when we accidentally opened a portal to another dimension, it brought fairies to our garden.

At first I hardly noticed except the birds were extra friendly. But then a rainbow quartz dragon portal opened right before our eyes and Bigfoot emerged. When he left there were magical creatures of all kinds galavanting around our patio. We’ve gotten used to the company.

Trotters for Ramen

Homemade Ramen

My husband bought a ramen cookbook. Little did he know what he was getting into! Now there’s chicken feet on the counter. I’m innocent in all this. I’m just following a recipe.

Having worked in a meat department for four years, this stuff doesn’t phase me. In fact, I feel rather accomplished that I can be so creative with the animal parts I use. I’ve expanded my repertoire in an effort to eat nose to tail, or in this case nose to toe.

So anyway, day one was chicken broth, day two pork broth. You simmer everything and then strain.

On day three, I made dashi (mushroom, seaweed, bonito broth) and tare, which is basically the seasoning for the broth that includes soy sauce, mirin, rice vinegar and sesame oil.

We got fresh noodles at Asiana market and some baby bok choy. Delish. We also bought some fresh Yuzu juice. It’s a citrus that is used to make ponzu, which is a lighter more citrusy soy sauce that we always request at sushi instead of soy sauce. We made Yuzu margaritas and Yuzu lemonade and absolutely love the tropical citrus flavor!

I’m still working on reading the soy sauce bottles so I can find a nice fermented one. Like many things in this world, the perfect ramen is a journey- a bowl we are endlessly slurping…

Ingredients for chicken broth
Pork trotters

Papaya Party

My baby papaya

At the Asian market for some ingredients to cook Thai Coconut Soup and Pork Ramen. What an exciting endeavor! The magic flavors of the Thai soup is Kaffir lime leaves, galangal, Thai basil, ginger and lemongrass.

Grab a chayote, and lots of fruit and roots along the way.

For ramen, I seek chicken feet, and pork neck bones and trotters. I’m working up the nerve to get a whole fish or some beef tripe.

Topped it all off with some fresh mochi, chocolate moon pies and that hi chew!

Top to bottom: green, Mexican and Hawaii papaya

Another Early Summer

It’s been much too warm here with only a couple days of rain. Summer is coming too soon, just like last year.

So I ventured into the snowy pines for a weekend in Strawberry with a group of awesome women. Of course I was nervous and feeling the fatigue of my chronic illness flaring up. But I paced myself and persevered in packing and got on the road!

When I arrived the nerves settled and the magic started. The air was filled with honest conversations, relaxing, laughing and connecting.

On this weekend together in a cabin, we unfolded, opened up and shared parts of ourselves that are often guarded. We expressed our truth and were heard. We cried. We embraced and then laughed and partied and ate. We communed with each other. We were received. It was a harmonious, compassionate celebration of love in action!

We painted!

I came home to two fur babies and a husband who missed me. He made us the dinner I left for him while I was gone- he had ordered a pizza instead.

I relaxed with the cats and ate popcorn. After dinner, I ran an Epsom salt bath.

Cuddle muffins
Put that coconut oil and some apple cider vinegar in there too!

I am carrying the compassion that we as women shared with one another into my daily routine. Let’s take care of ourselves and know we deserve it. We are worthy of self love.

Coming out of hibernation

Arizona is on the verge of spring and in the valley, we get a taste of sunshine earlier than the rest of the country. Phoenicians hit the ground running too, because by the end of May we are inside hiding from the heat! In February we xeriscaped the back yard using decomposed granite, poured our own concrete pad and to top it all off, got a chiminay.

2022: the year of the patio

When the cats come out, the birds always sing. I’ve learned a couple native birds, but the Merlin Bird ID app that I just downloaded is a game changer!

I’ve recorded the regulars I know and love. When I heard the Mockingbird and started recording, the app did not immediately suggest a species. Then it registered cactus Wren and Lesser goldfinch before finally listing Northern Mockingbird. That must be why they have that name!

Now I am listening for and identifying new species, like the million different woodpeckers we have here!

Merlin Bird ID is my new favorite app

I am stinky for some unknown reason. Like a sweet sweaty onion. Something is coming up out of me. I’m also feeling in a deficit energetically.

My health has ebbed and flowed in fits and spurts the past five years. A test found that my hormonal cycle is reversed– high melatonin in the morning and high cortisol at night. Along with chronic hyperthyroidism that I work tirelessly to identify and address the root cause.

When I feel stuck I try to focus on a couple of the main things I can do that will move me forward- simple, actionable items.

One is actually relaxing. Like really, Casey. As a type-A Manifesting Generator Virgo Rat, it is a challenge not to overthink every millisecond of my life. I’m reading a book about Biogenetics by Dr. Norm Shealy. It offers a practice: breathe in, “I am,” breathe out, “relaxed,” and repeat that 40 times by counting on your fingers.

Sun bathing on the magic carpet

Second, I am facing the fact that I am a chronic under-eater. I am working on providing my body the sustenance it needs to function and heal.

Earlier this year I started eating more wild game meats after reading a recipe book for the Wildatarian diet by Teri Cochrane. Conventional beef, chicken and pork are not the healthful happy animals they used to be since industrial agriculture took over.

Marcus Aurelius’ blog pointed me in the direction of Dr Ray Peat and by researching his work, I found an Instagram community of people using the prometabolic approach and many new resources! I am now reading a book by Kate Deering and a recipe book from Josh and Jeanne Rubin of eastwesthealing.

Prometabolic eating focuses on clean and efficient ways to fuel the body with the correct ratios of carb, protein & fat. It does not seem to be as dogmatic or limiting as other diets. I also resonate with the way it embraces traditional foods. We have much to learn by rediscovering the wisdom of our ancestors to regenerate the health of our bodies, the animals we eat and the earth.

Avoiding polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) is a big part of this philosophy. This includes nuts, seeds and fish oils. These ingredients slow down the metabolism. They actually allow animals to live longer with less nutrients. This is why they use corn and soy for animal feed. It’s also why animals eat lots of seeds and nuts before hibernating in the winter. It is estimated that we consume 70 pounds of PUFAs in a year- they’re everywhere! Most processed foods and probably every restaurant fryer is full of PUFAs. We used to fry food in beef tallow- a much more stable and nutrient rich saturated fat.

Obscure diet memes

I went to the farmers market this morning to stock up on raw milk, duck eggs, potatoes and carrots. The citrus will be juiced into an adrenal support cocktail (think homemade Gatorade) that gives me proper ratios of potassium, sodium and vitamin C.

I am so grateful to our local farmers market, especially Moreno Farms & Greener Pastures for honoring the tradition of growing our own food and bringing it to the community.

I am also becoming obsessed with tea. Yesterday I tried Pu’reh for the first time and it changed my life. I’ve added a lazy Susan and vintage sugar dispenser to my tea & coffee nook so it’s ever so cozy now!

My other latest and greatest obsession is purple slag. Back when I lived in Colorado, a friend and I explored Pawnee National Grassland. While he was busy looking at something, I stood by and a flash of color caught my eye. It was an old purple marble from the early 1900s!

Extremely damaged Akro Agate Co Slag

I later lost that marble and I miss it so much. We saw an episode of American Pickers where the husband collects marbles and the wife had a collection of Vaseline glassware that glows in the dark. It finally occurred to me that I could get another purple marble!

I started searching the internet learning about marbles and found a collector who offers to identify them by text. I sent him a picture in the evening and had my magic purple keywords by morning, “Akro Agate Slag.” This led me into a world of wonder. Purple slag is made up of purple glass with opaque white swirled into it. There are now three dozen marbles, a duck and a canoe (no, this is not a bad joke!) on their way to my house from Tennessee, Ohio, Kentucky and others. Don’t download ebay; it’s dangerous!

As always I’m obsessed with my cat children. They and I have started liver supplementation. I also let them play in the yard under supervision. Biggie Smalls is very good at coming to check in frequently. He’s also good at chasing his brother and occasionally jumping the wall. He flies back in the house when I clap my hands and returns to me if I snap.

Brother cats

Better Dog Better Human

I absolutely love this series and all the wisdom Cesar Millan shares. We gave the cats a bath today. I knew it would be a test of what I have learned watching the show.

Magically, the experience was a total transformation from the last time! It’s been years since we even had the nerve to try.

I made a plan, then calmly and confidently executed it. I wanted to avoid being anxious, rushed, worried or upset. I set the tone for everything to be okay.

Cesar says, “no talk, no touch, no eye contact,” when a dog is excited. I decided not to soothe/negotiate with the cats using my voice, because I didn’t want reinforce their freak out by telling them it’s okay.

When I drove them to the vet last week, Elvis protested the whole way and my verbal reasoning with him just increased the intensity of his meows. Of course he’s quiet as a church mouse as soon as we go inside.

Cats know how to manipulate for energy just as well as anybody else. Anytime I walk into the kitchen, they appear in the blink of an eye and all of a sudden I’m tripping! They are working me for a settlement and their compensation includes bonito flakes!

The Strategy

We started with Biggie Smalls. He is a gem and very easy to handle. I usually depend on the art of surprise to get Elvis in the tub before he knows what’s happening. Unfortunately, Elvis’s reaction was teaching Biggie to throw a fit as well. I wanted to reverse this trend. I had to surrender my fearful approach and move toward a more cooperative encounter.

Biggie did great. Elvis was outside the door when Biggie emerged and it surprised me when he did not run off. Bonito flakes didn’t hurt. I picked Elvis up and let him down in the bathroom without too much of a protest. I gave him a minute and then calmly picked him up and slowly, but smoothly placed him in the water.

I let go so he did not feel forced but kept my hand alongside to steady him. He stood there bewildered, but no tantrum! No claws! No screaming! Who is this cat? We got some displeased meows, but none of the intensity of his panicked protests of the past. Wow. The process was easy and dare I say enjoyable? Amazing.

Calm confident leadership allows you to create space, own space and set boundaries. It creates calm surrender in our pets by relaxing their brains to zero. Train the mind. Workout the body.

When emotions are pent up, they can be redirected and explode on someone else close to you. When Biggie chases Elvis around, I take it as a sign that he needs to have his energy drained through play.

Energy affects outcomes. Whether you have a dog or not, this show teaches us how to set boundaries with trust, respect and love and make our homes harmonious for all the creatures who inhabit them.

For the birds

Busy season is over and I’m enjoying backyard bird watching again. A towhee came running down the wall, chased by another, as always. (Eating the mantis aka my spiritual advisor gave em a good power up.)

The starlings are roosting in the saguaro. Their babies chirp as the sun sets.

A woodpecker drops in on the palm tree, just under another starling in it’s nest. Treetop neighbors.

Short Walk

You know it’s been a long week when your wash your face with toothpaste and don’t even realize it until you’re about to brush your teeth with the face wash. Just throw the house out the window. My face was minty fresh- I’ll tell you that!

Jewel of the Creek