Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Holiday Gifts

When your daughter is the only grandchild on both sides of the family, she usually becomes inundated with gifts galore.  This has happened every year since she was born on both Christmas and her birthday. I wanted our gifts be handmade and have meaning.
Here's what she got from mom & dad.

I asked her in the summer if she could have something knitted what would it be.  She said "a rainbow blanket."  Here is what manifested after a couple months and thoughtfully completed Christmas Eve.

I think it came out wonderful and the perfect size for cuddling under.
The happy colors bring automatic smiles.

The other gift from us was one I had my eye on for a while - a Baby Krsna doll made in true Waldorf style.  He is so adorable and so full of love.  Leslie of Govinda's Peace Farm created him with natural materials and wool from her own protected sheep.  Her farm and family are a true testament to simple living and high thinking. To have such a wonderfully handcrafted baby Krsna that one can hug and continue the process of bhakti in a simple, loving way, seems to be such a blessing!  My little one's name means the one who serves the beautiful and playful pastimes of the Divine.  She has already begun her service by making a baby crib from a fruit basket we received.

The director of the preschool my daughter went to asked if anyone would like to participate in the Holiday Project.  It is a special organization that helps to coordinate visits to the nursing homes, hospitals, prisons and other institutional settings on holidays.  Since I knew that we could not go on Christmas day, I asked if we could send some gifts along. 

hand made cards

rainbow bookmarks

We sent some clementines, hand drawn cards, and made some bookmarks from school watercolor pictures.  We hope our small homemade gifts brightened up their day and let them know that people were thinking of them.

I hope your Christmas was full of love and I wish you a most splendid New Year in 2011!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Gift of the Gita

Gita Jayanti is a celebration of the advent of the Bhagavad Gita.
It was spoken over 5000 years ago by Krishna to his devotee and friend Arjuna
on the battlefield of Kuruksetra.

On this day around the world, many recite its 700 shlokas (verses) and also
perform ritual fasting to concentrate their hearts and minds on this transcendental message.

In a nutshell, the Bhagavad Gita describes the Supreme, the living entities (souls), material existence,
and the nature of time and karma. 

What great souls have found a deep philosophy for life from the Bhagavad Gita?

Albert Einstein: When I read the Bhagavad-Gita and reflect about how God created this universe everything else seems so superfluous.

Mahatma Gandhi: When doubts haunt me, when disappointments stare me in the face, and I see not one ray of hope on the horizon, I turn to Bhagavad-gita and find a verse to comfort me; and I immediately begin to smile in the midst of overwhelming sorrow. Those who meditate on the Gita will derive fresh joy and new meanings from it every day.

Henry David Thoreau: In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagavad-gita, in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial.

Ralph Waldo Emerson: I owed a magnificent day to the Bhagavad-gita. It was the first of books; it was as if an empire spoke to us, nothing small or unworthy, but large, serene, consistent, the voice of an old intelligence which in another age and climate had pondered and thus disposed of the same questions which exercise us.

Rudolph Steiner: In order to approach a creation as sublime as the Bhagavad-Gita with full understanding it is necessary to attune our soul to it.

Aldous Huxley: The Bhagavad-Gita is the most systematic statement of spiritual evolution of endowing value to mankind. It is one of the most clear and comprehensive summaries of perennial philosophy ever revealed; hence its enduring value is subject not only to India but to all of humanity.

Madhvacarya: The Mahabharata has all the essential ingredients necessary to evolve and protect humanity and that within it the Bhagavad-Gita is the epitome of the Mahabharata just as ghee is the essence of milk and pollen is the essence of flowers.

"One may cleanse himself daily by taking a bath in water, but if one takes a bath even once in the sacred Ganges water of Bhagavad-gītā, for him the dirt of material life is altogether vanquished."
-Gita Mahatmya verse 3
So in this season of giving and the advent of the wonderful, I would like to extend this gift of the Gita to anyone who would like one.
Leave a comment and I will get in contact with you to send you a book.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Handmade Gifts in the Round

Here's a couple handmade gifts me and my daughter have made, which just happen to both be round.

We started the process the week of Thanksgiving because I wasn't sure how long it would take for the fruit to dry.  It's quite easy and I think would be enjoyable for any child...especially the spice sprinkling.

An apple already drying out

Spices:  Whole Cloves, Cinnamon, Nutmeg

I poked holes with a bamboo skewer first, then we put in the cloves
Sprinkle Time!

Almost Done
The apple was also joined by a lemon and I would have to say that the lemon is probably a better choice.  We let the pomanders dry in a hanging paper sack with some more spices.  We shook them everyday. It's been about 3 weeks and the lemon is done. I will wrap them in some lightweight fabric and they will be ready to give.  My daughter's class made them last week, so it looks like I will get one made with love too!

Felted Soaps
I have seen these many places and they are usually out of my budget for soap.  My daughter was gifted a $14 one from Anthropology and she loves it.  After all the soap is gone, you can cut it open and use it for a little pouch to keep treasures.

We have a bag of wool roving scraps and this is what we used for covering the soap.  I found a good bargain on an all-natural traditionally kettle made vegan soap  with no preservatives or EDTA from Sappo Hill in Oregon for under $2 a bar.   They are such cute and fresh smelling round disks.  We picked almond and it seems like a good choice to mask any wet wool smell.

Sappo Hill Almond Soap Disks
1st layer - Remember to rub gently!
Many layers later - One rainbow and one cool blue

I'm not a master felter but I think I'm getting a better hang of it. All you need is hot water, soap, some towels, and maybe a little extra bubble wrap to aid in felting and keep your whole area from becoming terribly wet. Felting does take a proper technique and using the same kind of wool fiber will help it felt properly.  Most of all, it takes patience and gentleness at first.  I think anyone would love a felted soap bar and it's easy to make a different one for each person's liking.

I hope you are having fun with all of your homemade gifts.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Stones and Plants

Two weeks of advent are almost gone...the festivals of both stones and plants.
Here's some pictures of our progression this year.

Stones & Shells
I love our conch shell from our Deity Altar
Little Stones arranged in front of large white crystals in
a rainbow of colors

Rosemary Topiary and the advent spiral apple
Before we came to our Waldorf school, we had not been very big on celebrating the traditional holidays as it was not really within the Vaisnava spiritual tradition.  Other than family obligations of gifting, we did not set up a tree or decorate our home.  I grew up in the Catholic tradition and yes, we celebrated Advent and Christmas Eve, but it seemed much overshadowed by the gifts on Christmas morning.
I appreciate the anthroposophical view of each of the weeks, with light and consciousness growing
as the days occur.

After the advent spiral in the kindergarten, my daughter came home and made her own with cedar, marigold petals, shells and stones and a red candle in the middle.

A Mini Advent Spiral

Tomorrow I will post some of the handmade items we have made as gifts.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Advent coming soon!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!
We are saying "so long" to our fall nature table.

I hope all of your holiday crafting is going well.
More of that on WIP Wednesday!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Merry Marigolds

Originally uploaded by lalitaliving
It's our week to bring flowers for the classroom. Our marigolds are so healthy with nice fragrant blooms. How wonderful it is to be able to cut these orange pompoms and share them with others!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Star Shine

I hope everyone has been enjoying a beautiful autumn.

We went to a nice fall festival at Old Oaks Ranch in Wimberley, TX.
What a wonderful place filled with great fiber artists and sculptors!  I had brought home a skein of yarn from the Hill Country Yarn Crawl earlier this month that happened to be baby alpaca and merino wool.
My daughter loved it and asked if she could meet a real alpaca. Luckily, alpacas are sweet residents at this ranch and she got to pet their super soft coats.
I learned quite a bit about alpacas that day.  They would prefer a llama as a body guard than a dog.  Big brother llamas will stand up to predators.  Here's my little knight running up to greet this brave counterpart.

Mariposa the mellow alpaca
Brave knight meets brave llama

With the traditional festivals of light coming up, I thought I would start a bit early.
Of course, with Halloween celebrations, there is always the jack-o'lantern.  We brought one to our school's fall festival that evening.  We are always amazed at the talent, cooperation, and artistic endeavor of the Waldorf community.

Star Pumpkin
 Now most people were wondering if our little miss was an angel.  Read this short and sweet story by the Grimm Brothers and you will know who she is.

The Star Talers (Die Sterntaler - German)
Once upon a time there was a little girl whose father and mother had died, and she was so poor that she no longer had a room to live in, nor a bed to sleep in, and at last she had nothing else but the clothes she was wearing and a little piece of bread in her hand that some charitable soul had given her. She was good and pious, however. And as she was thus forsaken by all the world, she went forth into the country, trusting in dear God.

Then a poor man met her, who said, "Ah, give me something to eat, I am so hungry."
She handed him her entire piece of bread, saying, "May God bless it for you," and went on her way.
Then came a child who moaned and said, "My head is so cold. Give me something to cover it with." So she took off her cap and gave it to the child. And when she had walked a little farther, she met another child who had no jacket and was freezing. So she gave her jacket to that child, and a little farther on one begged for a dress, and she gave her dress away as well. At length she made her way into a forest and it was already dark. Then there came yet another child, and asked for a shift, and the pious girl thought to herself, "It is a dark night and no one can see you. You can very well give your shift away," and she took it off, and gave it away as well.

And thus she stood there, with nothing left at all, when suddenly some stars fell down from heaven, and they were nothing else but hard shining talers, and although she had just given her shift away, she was now wearing a new one which was of the very finest linen. Then she gathered together the money into it, and was rich all the days of her life.

Stars from Heaven
Here she is in her brand new, white linen dress (soon to be favorite nightgown!)  I used the simple pattern from  The Children's Year: Seasonal Crafts and Clothes of a child's smock but added more length to make it a dress.

A pumpkin carving of Blessings

Time spent on kindness is not wasted.  Without the expectation of return, we are all blessed.

May your inner light shine with the upcoming festivals of Martinmaas and Diwali!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

WIP Wednesday - Gopi Skirt

I finished my gopi skirt and was quite happy with how it turned out.  I still have quite a bit of fabric left so I may make my daughter one too.

Floral Gopi Skirt
I want one too!
For our upcoming pumpkin path walk,  I have a special costume to make for my little one. It's inspired by a more obscure Grimm's fairytale but it is well known in Waldorf circles.
Let's just say she will be giving away everything but getting the stars in return.

Also, I am almost done with a Garnet Hill inspired top.  You'll see how a very unbecoming tourist T-shirt transforms into a floral masterpiece.

My inspiration - from www.garnethill.com

Hope everyone has a nice visit from the pumpkin fairy this weekend!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Happy Autumn & WIP Thursday

Happy Autumn Everyone!
Here's a blog post I particularly enjoyed about the autumn equinox - from Om School.

Yesterday was Michaelmas and my wish for you is that all your dragons be vanquished by the light of goodness and knowledge.

Now on to what I've finished and my WIPs.  If you are thinking of making gifts for the holidays coming up, now is the perfect time to start.  Join other crafters at Handmade Holiday.

The little ruffled summer top is done.  After doing the sleeves wrong a couple times, I finally figured it out with the help of a friend.  Thanks Waldorfmama!
It came out with wonderful variegated pink stripes and will be perfect for layering during our mild Texas autumn.  I'm glad I made the 7-9 version so she will be able to wear it for a couple more years.

Now on to something for me!

I think it's great when moms take the time to make something for themselves.  Children can see that mom is worthy of handcrafted items too.

I have been wanting to make some skirts for myself for a while.  This usually happens when long skirts are no longer in style and hence are hard to find in stores.  I love tiered skirts and also those that are affectionately called "gopi skirts".  These are long circular skirts that often are wrap around style.  My mom gave me the Sew What! Skirts: 16 Simple Styles You Can Make with Fabulous Fabrics book last Christmas and I'm finally getting around to using it.
September was National Sewing Month and I hope you got a couple stitches in.  I hope to have 3 or 4 skirts finished this fall.

Sew What Skirts & Fabric
Gopi Skirt fabric
 I do have some sewing projects for my little miss, including some from this darling book I found at the most awesome consignment sale in central Texas (the MamaCents sale).  I have been going for 3 years and am amazed at what I find.  If you are a fan of the Little House Books you will love this one.
I plan on making some doll aprons and hope to make a matching one for my girl too.

Hope you are enjoying the seasonal change and if you are in Texas, our second spring where plants come back to life!  I'm off to my first Lazure painting experience.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Love Feasts - Make Your Own Butter

The last 2 weeks were filled with some of the biggest Vaisnava festivals of the year.  Balarama's festival was on the Tuesday with the full moon and then 8 days later Krsna's special day and then the following day, the birthday of our Guru.  He said there is a festival to celebrate almost everyday of the year.  With the traditional Waldorf/Steiner celebration ones as well, our life is filled with lots of meaning and joy.

You could say our branch of Vaisnavism is basically the "kitchen religion".  Anything can be offered up to God...including food.  In some temples, food is offered 6 times a day, many of the dishes being quite elaborate.  On special festival days, sometimes there are 108 or more offerings.  The Supreme of course does not need anything but accepts the love.  This food becomes prasadam, which means mercy.

Rasagullas, Raspberry Halava, Mango Buttermilk, Cucumber Raita
My daughter and I decided we would like to make some butter to offer.  It is said that baby Krsna loved butter!  The gopis (beautiful cowherd women and girls) would spend much of their day making butter, ghee, and yogurt.  So following in their footsteps, here is our modern attempt without a churning pot and fresh milk.

Make Your Own Butter

What You Need
organic cream (1 pint is a good amount)
mason jar with lid
3 clean marbles (we did Balaram white, Krsna blue, and Radha yellow)
jars or containers to store the butter milk and butter


You pour the cream into the mason jar with the marbles.  Seal the lid and start shaking.  I remember doing this in 1st grade and it must have been easier with 25 children to help shake.  With just the two of us, we almost gave up!

You will hear the marbles at the beginning.  When it stars to thicken, the sound will disappear and you will begin to have whipped cream.  This is when it gets hard, but keep going!
We took turns and chanted the maha-mantra while shaking.
Now we know why the gopis had such nice figures...all the physical work.
Eventually you can see through the glass again and thick curds start to form.
Then you will start to hear the marbles again and tinges of yellow appear.  The yellow is the butter forming and the white liquid is the buttermilk.  When you have a solid mass of butter, pour off the buttermilk into a clean container.  Rinse the butter with cool filtered water until no buttermilk remains.  This keeps it fresh longer as the buttermilk can make the butter go rancid faster.
You can then transfer the butter into a fresh container.
If you have cute butter molds, this would be a good time to use them.

After making butter, we made several more dishes and preparations for our celebration in the evening.  We also dressed our Deities (traditional forms of the Divine) in new outfits and fresh flowers.

We sang special devotional songs.

For our Guru's birthday, we made one of his favorite snacks - Kachoris.  It also happens to be one of mine as I have a love for all things flaky and fried.

Kachoris with Roasted Peanut Chutney

Anyway, someone might ask why all this effort....can't the Supreme just be happy without your offerings?  This practice of offering items with love helps us to go beyond ourselves and thinking of our material bodies.  Love is a verb...it means thoughtful doing.

Wishing you love and devotion in all your relationships,

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Flowery First Day of School

Happy first day back to school everyone!  I know many of you have been preparing for this day by making something special for your loved ones.

Here's what a made for my little flower - A Tulip Lunch Set

Since her symbol at school is the tulip, I made her a pink cotton bag with some vintage trim and an applique felt tulip.   I got a couple Japanese craft books when I visited San Francisco.  They are full of ideas with perfect pictoral instructions.  I'm not very expert at sewing, nor do I like to follow instructions exactly.  These books were the perfect balance of giving me the sewing know how and of course the cutest motifs.

Since there is no plastic liner (hooray for being fully washable!), I made a couple of little bags to carry eating utensils, and used containers.  A new set of napkins made it complete...but wait, the food!  With the Vaisnava holiday season in full bloom, she is sure to have lots of super tasty lunches.  From our Balarama celebration, she's having rice, dahl and eggplant paneer subji and yogurt with pickle today.

I can see more wonderful qualities blossoming in my little girl.  Being one of the oldest in the kindergarten this year, she will have lots of opportunities to help her teacher and younger classmates. I am happy that she gets another year to just be a carefree child with no academic expectations.
Happy 1st day of school and have more fun growing in the Sungarden!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Happy Birthday!

My little miss has traveled another year around the sun and is now six!
The past couple days have certainly been birthday focused, with a preschool celebration in her honor on Friday, a birthday party of a classmate on Sunday, her real birthday today, and a birthday tea party coming up on Saturday.  I don't have a shy gal, but one who loves people and friends!  She gets me out and about and for that I am thankful.

Here's her little birthday at home.

She woke up to fresh pink roses and a card. Then she got 2 simple gifts:
a rainbow bamboo geometric puzzle and a wicker basket satchel/drawing board.

After a morning with friends, she came home to spend time with mom and dad hearing Vedic tales and stories, then had a special birthday dinner of salad, spinach lasagna (one of her favorites), and chocolate cake with strawberries.

I am continually amazed by her playfulness, love and good fortune.  I know she is going to do great things in this life and I hope to help her along the way. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Work in Progress Wednesdays

I'm taking a leap and hoping to have more frequent posts on Wednesdays.  There's a great group of bloggers who participate in W.I.P  and I thought it would be fun to join the list.

So here's my 1st official W.I.P post!

I've been planning my daughter's 6th birthday party.  It's going to be an afternoon tea for with several of her friends.  Here's a peek at the invitations that we sent out.  Each teapot has its own picture drawn by our little miss.  She did the teapot tracing, some cutting, drawing, all the gluing, putting the stamps on the envelopes etc.  Such confidence comes from being able to do things and she was all smiles.
In the era of all things electronic, it was fun to sit down and make these then mail them.

There are a couple more crafty things planned, but I did want to share one of the items I'm making for the tea table.  Homemade napkin rings/ponytail holders.  How many of you reuse napkin rings for anything else than to hold a napkin?  I took out my stash of felted sweaters and some pink hair elastics and voila!  So pretty!  I hope all the girls will like them.

My current knitting project is a pink ruffled sweater.  It's found on Ravelry here.
Another pink/rose variegated yarn that happens to be organic cotton (Tahki Yarns - Palma).  I found it at our local Waldorf school store, The Juniper Treehouse.  I've only made a doll sweater before, but this looks like it will be quite easy as the whole thing is knitted in the round...no seaming. I'm hoping to have it done by the 1st day of school!

Could someone say the collecting of cats is a work-in-progress?  Well, here's our latest addition.
Maybe we will have a constellation of cats one day.  Our big boy cat is Sunny and this little guy is named Mercury.

Hope you are having a great week!