Uncategorized

How to Hem

One of the easiest ways to get started repairing clothing is by hemming pants, skirts or whatever is too long to wear comfortably.

I went through my closet and realized that all of my all of my longer skirts were much too long and that the extra length was causing a lot of unnecessary clumsiness.

To hem a skirt or pants for that matter all you need is:
– a needle
– thread
– about 5 pins but less will work
& that is it!

  • Start by trying the item of clothing on and mark either with a pin the length you would like it to be.
  • If you need to cut off the existing hem, or trim a little bit off the end, do so, but **be really careful to not cut off more than you need.**
  • When hemming clothes, it is important to fold the edge of the fabric twice – that is, fold the clothing about an inch then fold over that once more – this way all the loose threads are contained and can’t unravel. (See picture)
  • With the hem folded twice go ahead and pin that section of the fabric. Go around the entire skirt (or pant leg) folding and pinning in the most even fashion possible.
  • Once all pinned take a look at the hem and make sure that this is the desired length and make the necessary corrections before sewing.

As for thread, I like to pick a contrasting or noticeable color. This is #visiblemending after all!

  • Now it is sewing time. Sew with whatever stitch you like/is easy for you. Or use a sewing machine, whatever! If sewing by hand the project may take a while but just remember all the hours & hours you will be comfortably wearing this clothing without tripping or having to roll or hike up the waistband.

As for the supplies, you probably already have all of the materials listed above at home. If you are in need, I have several sewing kits with pins, needles, thread, scissors, patches and more in my Etsy shop.

Gardening

Weaving with Willow 🌿

Basket making is a future goal though during the herb-drying season, woven trays are super useful! I really have to thank this instagram and tumblr for filling my feed with endless inspiration for artistic and useful projects using materials made directly from nature. It is a funny thing, that social media reminded me of something so ancestral: making use and making useful things with the resources that grow naturally around us. 🌳

Online you can find all kinds of tutorials for making baskets but I always go with this wild weave – this one is new and needs to dry but the ones I made last summer are holding up just fine. All you need is lots of fresh willow and time.

Crafts

A Pile of Clothes to be Mended

These purple shorts are probably my most worn item of clothing and have accompanied me during my years of traveling.

Recently they acquired a rip and needed to be fixed so, in this post I am going to go through step by step how to mend any kind of small tear using these shorts as an example::

✂️First, trim off any loose threads and turn the shorts (or whatever item of clothing you will be mending) inside out. Then cut out a patch from scrap materials you have already, in this example I used a piece of recycled jeans because I have so much of it.

✂️Personally I am a fan of visible mending and I tend to use thread and patches of different colors. But, if you don’t want to mend to be noticeable, pick a patch and thread that is similar in color to the clothing you will be fixing up.

✂️Secure the patch with pins and then sew (by hand) around the patch at least twice. You can use whichever stitch you know and be sure to tie knots to secure the fabric around each corner.

✂️Then, flip the shorts right side once again and do a final set of sewing around the rip(s) to be sure that they won’t unwind any further.

✂️And there, the rip is secured and these shorts will serve many years longer! By mending clothing we are making it possible to re-use and up-cycle the clothing we already have. And by doing so we are keeping unnecessary items out of the landfill. Donating torn clothing isn’t a guarantee that it will be re-furbished, so the best way to be sure is to mend yourself. This is something I am very passionate about and for that reason I started making mending kits which I sell on my Etsy page::

Gardening

Garden Journal :: Summer to Fall

Looking forward to the fall garden because, to be honest, our summer garden was not very productive.

In years past we harvested more tomatoes & cucumbers than we knew what to do with but this year only the basil did well, sadly.

But I want to be honest, gardening is hard and sometimes things go wrong without any clear reason as to why. I think, in this case, we haven’t had a good summer season because we tried to take on too much: we extended the garden beds, tried out new crops in addition to work and all the other responsibilities of our work-trade for living here.

And another reason might be that this is just a sign (one of many) that we aren’t meant to live here permanently, that the time to move on from this farm is coming.

So, this upcoming fall I’m committing to doing less and focusing on what I know grows well: leafy greens and herbs as well as scaling back to just a few, intensive garden beds and potted plants.

Wherever you are, and whatever season it is , I wish you luck in your gardening efforts.

Gardening

New Horizons : Libra Gardener Seeds

This project has been several years in the making and started by a simple desire to produce something in my garden that can be shared with the world. Over the years I mulled over several business plans and even considered selling dried herbs which I grow. But that didnt really work and there doesn’t seem to actually be a need for more herbal products.

As the world changes, more and more folks are wondering how they can be positive influences on their local environments. Of course there are many, many ways to help Earth return to an ecological equilibrium. One such way is by planting a garden for pollinators & other beneficial insects – and this is a topic I am particularly passionate about, so it seemed like a good ideally on which to center my sustainable biz around.

Here in our garden we grow flowers of all kinds, perennial native plants alongside herbs and non-native animal flowers. Over the years I have been saving seed and planting successive generations and now I am at a point of wanting to share some of my favorite and easiest to grow from seed flowers: calendula, marigold, and culinary poppy.

On my Etsy page I posted a listing with those three seed packets and an accompanying zine with info about planting for pollinators and some articles about herbalism too.

A couple of pages from the zine featuring some of the most common butterflies of North & South America.

All together this is a perfect little starting point for growing a beautiful flower garden in almost any climate of the world and would be a great gift for yourself or some other aspiring gardener this spring.

In a future post I will go more in depth about each of these three flowers and in previous posts have talked about the butterflies in greater detail as well. So, expect more flower-goodness soon, until then I will leave you with the link to the listing if you are interested in supporting the world I do with this blog & in real life as well, thanks!

https://www.etsy.com/listing/1146665036/plant-your-pollinator-garden-kit-3?ref=shop_home_active_1

E-journal · Gardening

November, December: my time in California

5 weeks in my hometown went by so quickly! I feel there is so much left to do. But, maybe this is normal for all gardeners and those who work on projects that will take years, or decades to be completed.

And the work days on Rabbit Ridge::

This year my family bought a few acres of land in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. Back in summer I visited the land for the first time and this trip we focused on a few key projects in what will someday be a food forest and cabin.

Like so many projects I write about on this blog, this project is a work in progress and will possibly never be completely finished. I wonder if it is even possible for a food forest to be completed as the objective is to create a living and evolving ecosystem. This is all to say that this post is … to be continued!

Crafts

Snail Mail and my DIY publications

This project – Libra Gardener – is more than a blog, there is also a print publication (aka zine) associated with the work I publish online. Well, I say associated but really each zine dives deeply into subjects mentioned here, with color photos, handwritten tidbits and expanded articles on all the subjects I most.love like herbalism, pollinators, and magic!

On my Etsy page you can find a variety of offerings: there are individual zines for sale as well as a combo-pack with all four instalments of this zine published in 2021.

Each zine is designed, printed, and hardbound by me and mailed out either from my homebases in Argentina or California, depending on the time of year.

So, with that said I cannot guarantee super fast shipping but I can ensure that you will receive a heart felt publication meant to inspire, and printed on ecological paper 😉

Thank you all so much for your support, views, comments and however it is that you participate in this garden-zine-project!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/LibraGardener

Herbalism

Harvesting and Making :: creative ways to use your herb harvests

uring long walks around neighborhoods and gazing into front yards I have noticed something – a lot of people are growing herbs. Rosemary, Oregano and Lavender are all common plants in this dry climate and all are flourishing during summer but, I am not so sure how often people are actually using the herbs they grow. So, here are some of my recipes for common garden plants that might be growing in your yard of a garden near you.

Herby Pesto

Oregano, mint, rosemary, shiso, and of course basil are all leafy herbs that go into my pesto recipe. Month by month the available herbs in the garden will shift and with it does this pesto recipe but here is my general guide:

-1/2 cup roasted nuts like pine nuts, walnut, cashew, peanuts, or hazelnuts
-2 cups fresh mixed herbs (leaves only) rosemary, oregano & sage
-1 cup of softer herbs like basil, mint, parsley, cilantro, or shiso
1/2 cup olive oil or sunflower seed oil -3 garlic cloves (optional)

You can either finely chop the ingredients by hand or use a food processor. By hand takes a lot longer but works well for camping trips or if electricity isnt available. The food processor is great too but remember to add ingredients slowly to avoid straining the machine’s motor. This pesto keeps well in a fridge for weeks and a freezer for months, enjoy!

Dried Seasoning

Warm summer days are ideal for drying herbs. You could even dry them outdoors in a shady & dry place if there isnt too much wind. At the moment I have access to a oven so I place recently collected herbs on a cookie sheet & into a warm oven. The pilot light along will slightly warm the plant material and in an hour or two the oregano, rosemary or sage are dry. Then I separate the leaves from the rest of the stems and branches, discard those and get to work on the dried leaves. You can use your clean hands, kitchen scissors and/or a mortal & pestle to further pulverize the herbs. If the leaves don’t crumble easily they probably need more time drying.

Comforting Tea

Lemon grass & rosemary are my go to herbs these days. Fresh or dried the leaves make lovely teas and infusions.

Cooling Waters

During the summer months and days of 100 degree weather is pretty much normal and cold non-alcoholic drinks are necessary to thrive in this heat. I love to make cold teas & sun teas with berries and herbs collected from the garden. My favorite lately are blueberries & mint as well as stevia leaf & lemon verbena. Happy Gardening!!

Gardening

Forest Gardens :: a never-ending work in progress

I have been blessed to have had the chance to be a part of two food forests in the past few years. One of them, the forest garden I will focus on for this blog post, is a collaborative garden in my parent’s backyard. Over the years my mom and I have planted a small medicinal garden and orchard in this suburban setting. It is our familial food forest and a constant project with no clear end.


I call it a food forest or a front yard – backyard garden but we certainly don’t grow all of the food we need in this space, no way! We started gardening in this suburban yard three years ago, we’ve planted fruit trees, herbs, and tended to the trees already going here and have lots of plans for future additions.


The previous owners composted, planted roses and installed a creative rainwater encashment system that diverts all the rainwater from the roof directly into the soil instead of the sewer as most homes in the area were designed to do. All of these remains and two greywater systems have also been added to the water-wise landscaping. More than anything we have planted and seeded perennials, both native and adapted plants to green the landscape, provide shade for humans, shelter for animals and medicinal that we use in many ways.


The success of this garden, as with any garden, depends on working with the landscape, adapting to the conditions of hte climate & making small, thoughtful changes. Not all gardener’s work in this fashion, others may prefer to destroy everything, plow, flatten, and begin with a fresh (though desolate) slate. But that wouldn’t be forest gardening.


Forests grow in layers, by building upon what is already there. Forest grow out of the compost of fallen logs and leaves. The soil at a forest’s floor is plowed by insects, birds and mammals who bury seeds for later. Humans are seed burying creatures too and can be an integral membr of the forest (or garden) too, if we choose to be. Learning how to be a part of a garden, instead of master of the garde, is a life ong learning experience.


For both my Mom and I the lessons of tending to this garden have been unique. My mom has learned to live with the sometimes untidy look of a well mulched garden and the transition from a purely ornamental to a functional, medicinal space. Many decorative plants remain and that has been my personal challenge, to learn to appreciate ornamental plants that have no culinary or medicinal use. With time I’ve come to appreciate that decoration and beauty are medicine for the eyes and soul. I’ve learned that any garden design must include beautiful flowers and foliage in amongst the medicinal and edibles.


Of course there are many edible, medicinal flowers like nasturtium, lavender, roses, calendula and much more. And even non-edible flowers like hydrangeas have a climate enhancing effect when planted in a garden. Most flowers are useful in flower arrangements. Bouquets make a thoughtful gift and the production of organic cut flowers has been a positive side-gig for many gardeners over the centuries.

DIY Health

Experiments in Germination

I love germinating – it is a part of my daily and weekly routine and has been for a number of years now. Despite my love of sprouting grains, I find it challenging to write about germinating grains in a fun, inspiring way. My wish is to spread the word about this simple way to add some extra nutrition to our diets. And so, I continue to write and hope to find a an inspiring thread here somewhere.

To add something interesting to the mix, I am using a new germinating recipient – a earthen ware pot which my partner, Jona, bought recently. The pot has yet to have been cured, so it is slightly permeable which makes it slightly breathe-able and perfect for germinating grains.

I have written another article about how to sprout grains both on this blog (link below) and in the most recent edition of the Flora Libra zine. Here are a few images from the print publication which is meant to be a companion to this web-based blog:

If you are interested in learning more about germinating grains, you may want to purchase my zine which is available for $3 (plus s+h) on my Etsy page. I would so appreciate it if you do decide to order a copy! thank you!