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 means thoughtful doing.

Wishing you love and devotion in all your relationships,