31 October 2012

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

Call it Halloween, El Dia de los Muertos, All Saints Day, Samhain, Harvest Festival, what have you, it's the special time of year when the days draw short and the nights grow ever longer.

Although the ritual has since been merged with Catholic theology, it still maintains the basic principles of the Aztec ritual, such as the use of skulls.

Today, people don wooden skull masks called calacas and dance in honor of their deceased relatives. The wooden skulls are also placed on altars that are dedicated to the dead. Unlike the Spaniards, who viewed death as the end of life, the pre-Hispanic people honored duality as being dynamic. Natives viewed it as the continuation of life. Instead of fearing death, they embraced it. To them, life was a dream and only in death did they become truly awake.

What traditions do you observe at this time of year? What special foods or decor do you gravitate to as the days grow shorter and the nights grow long? We love the garlands of calendula flowers because they remind us of the summer sun. We eat savory soup and stew, casseroles and roasted root vegetables appeal as the weather gets colder. 

The calveras below are hand painted ceramic tiles made by my talented sister Roz Light-Meiche

Enjoy the season, recall the dead with enjoyment for the lives they led, however short or long it may have been. Honor memories of the dead with an altar with photographs, and candles. Leave gifts of toys or favorite foods and beverages during the three day Dia de los Muertos celebration. 

18 October 2012

Awesome Autumn

So here we are, mid-October and the day light hours are getting shorter as we approach All Saints Day aka: Halloween, Day of the Dead aka: Dia de los Muertos and Samhain aka: Harvest Festival.

I already miss lingering outdoors in the garden on warm summer evenings, and the light, oh, how I miss the light of long summer days! But with the change of season, different activities come to the fore, here, in Oregon we are gathering peppers and apples, putting up the summer garden's harvest to prepare for the winter ahead.
I love the flavor of roasted peppers, after the skins are blackened on the grill or in the oven, just slip off the skins, scoop out the seeds and freeze them in a zip lock. During the winter, when peppers are not as plentiful as they are now, I chop the frozen peppers and add them to soups, wraps, what have you for that delicious smokey flavor of summer. I love to visit local farms and glean the fields, it's enjoyable to be outdoors harvesting the golden and red peppers that have been picked over at the end of the growing season. To experience the subtle and delicious tastes of various pepper varieties, try this rich classic soup recipe from Epicurious.
Sweet Basil is another harvest item we treasure. We've had our fill of caprese - with juicy tomatoes fresh from the garden, basil leaves and buffalo mozzarella. While traditional pesto is ground with a pestle, on Planet Joy, we chop the leaves with olive oil, garlic and pine nuts. Again, a ziplock bag makes a great freezable container, chop off what you need, it thaws in moments, add fresh parmesan and enjoy a blast from the past Preserve what you harvest from your garden or what you gather from the farmers market!
Winter squash is one of Nature's ways of storing delicious nutrition for us. If you've grown an abundance of squash, take care in harvesting and storing. Most produce stores best at low temperatures, don't store your squash too close to apples though! I can't wait to try this delicious butternut squash soup from Williams-Sonoma. I'll get the hazelnuts at Ashland Envy, because Lisa is now adding the finest quality food & wine & foods from the PNW and Oregon to the boutique!
Apples are another favorite, we have what I call a "hobby orchard" next door, the trees have been long abandoned, but nevertheless, the trees faithfully produce fruit each and every year. So we pick the 7 or so varieties and dry them. It's a family project, climbing trees, picking and cleaning the fruit, peeling and cutting with our handy spiral apple corer. You can always get store-bought for any of the ingredients we have discussed, but somehow, our home-made always tastes better.

Please share your comments on what is your favorite harvest produce, recipe or activity, I look forward to hearing from you!

06 October 2012

Autumn in it's splendor is such a joy to behold. I sense a different quality to the sunlight, as the angle  of the sun changes as we change from summers bright long days towards winters long dark nights. A chill has entered the air and we want to have a comforting and beautiful wrap. Rich embellishments including faux fur, peacock feathers, chain and semi precious gemstone beadsJoystone charms, earrings and pendants are also featured in our Fall-Winter 2012 collection

Buy our Black PEACOCK FEATHER Satin-trimmed Shawl on Etsy.

Save when you specify STYLE 
Etsy will automatically calculate 10% off 
Offer good on orders placed through October 20, 2012

03 October 2012

And the WINNER is . . .

The winner of our Autumn Celebration - Fan Appreciation Sweepstakes is Jean W. The fabulous Rafflecopter widget collected and chose randomly from some 80 entries we received during our week long contest! The lucky winner, is coincidentally, a long time friend, who encouraged me to follow my heart many years ago as we were deciding on our respective career paths.

Her prize is our newest design, a silk crepe de chine poncho in our earthy color pattern Royal Verdigris. I know Jean will get a lot of wear from this versatile 36 inch square scarf.

Crepe de chine is opulent fabric with a glossy luster and a wonderfully subtle texture. This versatile silk fabric is surprisingly light weight and possesses an excellent drape.
Our hand painted silk ponchos are extremely versatile and its use as a classic silk scarf is not impeded by the neckline that is expertly sewn into the center of the scarf. The neckline allows for it to be worn over anything from a camisole to a turtleneck and everything in between. Wear it over a bathing suit or a sleeveless dress in summer for a casual look. Tie it in this season's most popular style, the foulard.

For those of you who entered and were not chosen, you can still win because we have more styles and colors in our Etsy shop online.

Don't forget we are offering our best selling mini-scarflette, in our Celebration Sale at half-price while supplies last!