Decorating For Christmas Naturally 2011

Thank you for revisiting! 
In amongst this article you will find several juxtaposed photos of most of the 
fun decorations and gifts that I have created over the past two years! 
They are not for commercial sale in stores!
I hope they inspire you too!
There is so much interest from people around the world searching for inspiration to creatively decorate with natural or organic materials and objects!  Now that is the spirit of Creativity!!
I know this, as I can see by all the visits on my little Blog. I am graciously proud that this Blog has been used as reference and inspiration! 
Dried Forest Bulbs of Milkweed Fluff, Juniper, Saskatoon berries,
Rosehips, Aspen cones, Sagebrush
I think we may admit, at this time of year we do like a bit of glitz and glamour to make holidays sparkle with magic and spirituality.
Dried floral Bulbs to hang on the tree
Hydrangea, Lilac, Rose,
Geranium, Phlox & Tulip
Heart Shaped Christmas Bulbs with
Baby's Breath, Rosehips Wild Grass
Lichen, Juniper, Milkweed Fluff
However many of us are beginning to question the materials used to create  beautiful decorations marketed to us in our favorite stores.
Angelic Milkweed Pod Fluff
Some of us may even question who~ is actually producing these pretty ornaments in foreign countries and at what cost to the factory workers own health and well being?  Is it really worth it to pay for these sometimes glitzy, toxic and future garbage producing decorative things!

Slowly more and more of us consumers are becoming aware of just what is actually happening way before decorations and toys actually fill store shelves. 

We continue to justify that buying the available decorative products is okay, because well they are already here. Sometimes it feels easier to look the other way or just numb out and not pay attention to the images or documentaries that can make us aware of what is actually going on in the factory worker lives!
Heart shaped Door Entrance Ornament
Lichen, Fir cones, Rosehips, Oregon Grape berries
It is just way too easy to choose these convenient and amusing products that give us immediate or short term pleasure, only to be thrown away in the very near future because they are cheap or break down. Heck we are busy, financially stressed and overwhelmed with life too!  But these purchases  never really 'go away'!
5" Lichen Wreath with fir cones,
Rosehips and Oregon Grape berries
14" Lichen Tree with Aspen cones,
 Rosehips & Saskatoon Berries
What if we consumers began to think about how these products not only impact the people of today's world, but also indefinitely impact our future generations!  That means people in our own families? It can be difficult to envision the world for our future grandchildren, great grandchildren, great great grandchildren and so on.  
Mixed seeds from my garden labelled with inspiring attributes to Bloom!
Wooden hearts stamped and then stained
with natural ochre rock and linseed oil
Rose water made from roses from my garden with Witch Hazel

What if warnings were on all the labels of decorations, presents and all this stuff that we buy reminded us that they could not be decomposed in a landfill or ocean?  Just like with health warnings on cigarette packages and products that list the potential long-term effects of that product.
Maybe it would be helpful to display TV monitors in store isles with videos of landfills, ocean gyres full of plastic garbage, animals trapped in man made garbage, and plastic garbage contents in the bellies of birds.

Homemade Bird Food Ornament to hang on a branch

Takeout Bird Food Ornaments!

                 A hiccup error in HTML

Or what if we posted photos with factory workers names in the shop isles showing the harm caused to them by working long hours with toxic paints, fumes and dysfunctional machinery.  
These people are the ones to be acknowledged, as they created all this commercial decorative and celebratory stuff that amuses us and we partly buy due to society's peer pressure!
Bee Mindful Beeswax Candles with a stamped and painted box

Maybe most of you visiting this Blog post,
 have not even read this far into the article.

Too wordy.... Too much detail .....   Too much time..... Too overwhelming.....Too busy......
             Too boring....... and so on.
Trinket containers decoupaged with Wasp Nest Paper
  Yeah...we like things easy, convenient, on demand and perfectly appealing that we can be buy as needed or obliged.
A mirror decoupaged with Wasp Nest Paper and a stamped and painted box
I am not trying to shame and guilt us people!  Nor I am not suggesting that we should harvest large amounts of unsustainable organic material from our natural habitats and ship it somewhere to be made into products!!
I am hopefully inspiring or provoking more of us to see the natural resources in our own backyards so to speak and harvest only enough material to make some decomposable adorable decorations!
Candles slid into empty slips of birch bark
and a candle holder decoupaged with  River sand with Mica
It is up to us to introduce our children or learn ourselves and teach others what we can pick in nature. As well, what to protect in a sustainable way. Or inspire people to re-create from our garbage! This is an opportunity to explore and learn more about our local ecosystems!
Boy holding an Owl Pellet Discovery Kit
So today this is a shout out for a creative challenge to rethink consumerism and shift us globally into a new sustainable economy! 

An Owl Pellet Discovery Kit to dissect an Owl Pellet for bones!
Just like a Scientist with dissection tools!
Help share the accountability and support needed to reduce the harmful impacts on our very land or sea, 
for the lives of other people and our future families too!

My Christmas wish is to give ourselves the gift of simplicity and encourage all generations to remember all the natural sources and objects around them. To see natural beauty and simplicity with new eyes!
A Make Gratitude Bundles Kit
A family/group activity/ritual to share thankfulness
and grateful appreciation for each other and Nature!
By learning to how to see the simple and natural beauty that surrounds us, we help each other stay connected to nature and learn to identify and remember our natural surroundings. 
This naturally leads to an understanding of Gratitude!  
Being thankful and grateful for what we do have!
An Apron for crafting and cooking!
Now~ I am already cooking and crafting up ideas for next year!! 
The Creativity pot is boiling over!
 Season's Greetings Everyone! 
Make Merry In All Celebrations This Season!
Photo credits for half of these photos goes to Coreena McBurnie!  
Be sure to visit her Blog of Book Reviews and Creative Adventures!
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Lemony Lilac Jelly for Fairies, Picnics and Teas

Long ago in childhood on warm spring days, we sat near the Lilac trees maybe for shade but also for taste testing the Lilac blossoms!

Have you ever pulled off a blossom and sucked on it to taste a wee bit of sweetness? Then you can blow into them like little trumpets and pretend you are tiny Fairies!

Well I still do that and I have an enormous Lilac tree in my yard. The tree is so old there is lichen growing on her limbs. 

This year a nasty virus seems to have awaken the Allergy trickster within me.
So what to do?  You know the saying, when life hands you lemons, make lemonade! Right?

So I decided to make Lilac Jelly. I was not even sure such a delight existed~ But nowadays you can Google anything~ and that was just the beginning!

Have you ever just sat/stood and plucked Lilac blossoms for a couple hours? It ‘s not for everyone~ I just happen to have some Hunter/Gatherer genes and skills so I quite like it!

After they were plucked and I had a whopping eight cups of Lilac Blossoms and it was time to steep them in a glass bowl with 8 cups of boiling water with a plate on top and overnight on the counter.

My Lilac infusion was brown and cloudy. I remembered seeing that I could filter the infusion with coffee filters. This was interesting as it removed all the yellow and cloudy pollen. (But maybe pollen is not such a bad thing, as I see Bee Pollen for sale at the Farmers Market)

I ended up with 7 cups of Lilac liquid/infusion.

Now came the messy and rather challenging art of making jelly, sterilizing jars and filling and canning.  I was out of practice.

My cat Lila came into the kitchen to look at me with the, ‘What the hell are you doing in here?’ look. Maybe it was because I was licking hot burning jelly off my fingers and maybe my screams sounded like a catfight! 
Okay so she felt ignored and it was her suppertime. She does not do drama.           

My brown infusion lightened in color when boiled.  After all the fiddly work of jarring and canning, my lovely jelly is a beautiful golden yellow color!  Sunshine for my toast! 

 I imagine this would be very good with some Camembert soft cheese and some unsalted crackers or tiny toasts!!  Maybe some Champagne and Orange Juice or a hot cup of tea! Perhaps best served on a spring picnic amongst Flowers and Field Fairies.

Well now I am so proud of my Lemony Lilac Jelly and it tastes a bit tart like Marmalade, but it is sweet and good. I did have crackers and jelly for supper as I worked. 

When I tasted it later in the evening on a piece of toast, it had a rather floral impact! Maybe you think Garlic breath bothers you try going to bed with Lilac breath!!

 If you don't like it, I am sure it will make a lovely chemical free room deodorizer!

Lilac Jelly Recipe  makes 8- 4 oz jars
*I only used this recipe and others as a guideline..because I am a rebel cook!

2 c. packed lilac flowers
2 1/2 c. boiling water

1. Pour the boiling water over the lilac flowers, cover and allow to cool. Allow the infusion to sit 8 hours, or overnight.

2. Strain the flowers from the liquid using a coffee filter, you should have about 2 1/4 c. liquid.

2 c. lilac infusion
4 T lemon juice
1 box Sure-Jell powdered pectin
4 c. sugar

3. Place the lilac infusion, lemon juice and pectin in a large pot. Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a rolling boil.
4. Add all of the sugar at once, and stir to dissolve. Bring the jelly back up to a rolling boil for 1 minute.
5. Remove the jelly from the heat, skim the foam from the top (I got a lot of foam from this recipe) and ladle into hot, sterilized jars. Process in a water bath for 10 minutes.

From the Blog at

*I fiddled with the Lilac Jelly recipe proportions. I read on the blog that it was too sweet and then I noticed it called for a lot of pectin and a lot of lemon juice.  Oh whatever, I was working with a triple recipe!
*I also reduced the amount of sugar. I used my one package of pectin. I researched that I could use apple peelings to create pectin for thickening.  So I added the large peelings of two Granny Smith apples.  I also reduced the amount of Lemon Juice. My jelly may be more condensed and aromatic, as I boiled it longer than 1 minute.

Perhaps you can dream of where you would like to have a spring picnic~ 

Close your eyes and listen to The Scone Fairies maybe the music will guide you too!

Have you ever heard of Kitchen Fairies?  They often go to clean up or help out in a friend or relatives kitchen when help is needed. It seems the only helpful Fairies I had this day were lazy ones on standby. Oh well….
Lila in the Lilac Tree

I think I have garden fairies under the lilac tree. So maybe they would like to have a Fairy Picnic and taste my yummy jelly. Maybe I will make toast fingers just like my Grandma would make for me. Then leave them out under the tree as an offering to the Garden Fairies!
© Sherry Robinson, Notice Quiet Nature 2011

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Freeing The Body ~ Freeing The Mind

I laid for hours sleeping, dozing, and not feeling well. It pushed the barriers of my reality into claustrophobic boredom and I ended up craving some outdoor nature.

So I bundled up and went for a car ride into one of my favourite rural areas that are so close to town. It ended up that I drove even further than expected as I felt excited and urged on by the sightings of Hawk and Eagles hunting, feeding, and preening.

You see, for me there are wonderful times when driving in my car feeling comforted in my seat, in silence or with music and I feel freed of some of the chronic pain that can affect my day.

This past winter I have being reading from the book, Freeing The Body, Freeing The Mind ~ Writings on the connection between Yoga and Buddhism by Michael Stone 2010 published by Shambhala Publications.

Michael Stone brings together several essays by intriguing Buddhist writers intersecting Yoga and Buddhism to offer timeless guidance and inspiration from ancient wisdom that can inspire us today to come alive on the path of awakening at this time in our western culture.

The following quote in the introduction attracted my attention.

"There is a fundamental affinity between mind practices and body practices because they are both simply curves in a grand concentric circle that continually spirals in, on, and through itself with no beginning or end. Work deeply with the mind and you give attention to body processes from breathing to listening or seeing. Likewise, when you study the intricate holding patterns in the web of the body (called kosas in Sanskrit), you end up seeing where the mind sticks, where it can’t focus, where it gets caught in refrains of old tape loops. What you thought was “body” is mostly mental, not “the body in the body” that the Buddha says to direct mindfulness toward. When the Buddha teaches mindfulness practices, he begins with the body.” Intro pg. xvii

The electric charge for me was the metaphorical reference to the ‘curves of concentric circles that continually spiral’.

You see, last fall I had the pleasure to walk an ancient path into a pristine valley. My psychic senses were on fire as I walked past historical areas sacred to ancient First Nation people. Everything has a presence, a story, and a knowing. I feel the pull and pay deep attention to what I see and what shifts and attracts my attention further.

One of the last places to pull me was a faded pathway that led up to a visioning lookout used by ancient youth. Silently I understood why as I gazed at a rainbow further down a turn in the valley.

I chose to follow the path onward down the other side of the lookout. The next pull came from what at first I thought was a circle of stones. However upon gazing for a longer time, I realised it was a spiral shape outlined by rocks. Therefore, I chose a rock and slowly walked the spiral inward until I arrived at the centre feeling the gravitational pull that tested my balance. After a quiet time I retraced my steps out of the spiral and laid the stone down at the end of the spiral.

The spiral symbol is a comforting metaphor that has provided guidance several times in my life and it helps me to rebalance.

I finished the book, Freeing the Body~ Freeing the Mind by Michael Stone at the very end of winter when the ice is still on the lakes. During my drive that day, I witnessed the immature eagles feeding on a carcass. It reminded me how the dead bodies of Buddhist monks in Tibet are set on top of a mountain top in what is called a sky burial to naturally decompose and the raptors can feed upon those bodies. So, the following quote in Michael's book spiralled in my thoughts.

“Where does the mind end and the body begin?  Where does the body end and the world begin?  Just as the naturalist moves through the forest with its vast array of trees and animal life, Yoga practices teach us to move deeply into the subtle mind states and energies that make up what we call “the Body”.  With such an attitude mind and body practices become one.  Pg 226

Michael Stone will be presenting a retreat workshop at Hollyhock on Cortes Island, BC in July 2011.
For more information visit:

For information about Michael Stone and his other books visit:

For more books published by Shambhala:

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