BOOK REVIEW: Natural Color by Sasha Duerr

As someone who enjoys needle felting I was always curious if (or rather how) can I dye my own wool and, although a number of chemical dyes are available, natural colors always seemed more attractive . For that reason Sasha Duerr‘s book “Natural Color” immediately caught my attention. I used to look through blogs and natural dyeing videos and tried to systematize all the information somehow, and it is nice to see there is an actual book that got all the questions I had covered. Let’s take a look.

9781607749363

The book discusses the entire process of natural dyeing, from finding the plants, getting the color out and until the final result is ready. Truly it is a wealth of information, presented in a friendly, accessible manner . And not just basics, the book touched various techniques too. The recipes are very straightforward and precise, quite easy to follow. I loved how the recipes were organized by season , and although not all the plants are available in my region for foraging specifically, some are and I can’t wait to try. There is a section on mordants that I found very helpful, different options are discussed and the process is explained so well, I really appreciate the meticulousness. The photography is beautiful and  I am getting inspired by merely looking through the book.

Overall impression: I am in love with all the projects in this book, not just for wardrobe, but for the house too. I am looking forward to trying them one by one. The book is a valuable asset to anyone who is interested in natural dying. 5 stars.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

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Week’s Roundup: September 14-September 20,2015

Another busy week for us.

Picture of the week:

Hand in hand, deep in conversation, two gnomes walked through the forest

Hand in hand, deep in conversation, two gnomes walked through the forest

What were we up to this week:

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Mama’s Comfort Book Pile

Today I  finished “The Danish Way of Parenting: A Guide To Raising The Happiest Kids in the World” by Jessica Alexander, Iben Sandhal (the website)  I love reading about different cultural approaches to child-rearing. The book was good overall, it didn’t go into depth about practical methods, but I agree with all the main points. The idea of hygge (“getting cosy together”) and authenticity appealed to me the most.

I thought why not share a  comforting pile that is always, always by my bed:

1. Buddhism for Mothers by Sarah Naphtali– wonderful book that came to me in just the right time, literally fell into my hands from the shelf where it sat forgotten after I grabbed it at the library.  sale. Such simple, such obvious method (when I thought about it) to be a calmer, more present parent. A gentle reminder of acceptance and compassion.

2.Mary Oliver’s poems. What concentrated amazingness,  love for nature, the ability to observe and notice things. Her poems, even the sad ones are always a comfort. I often recite “The Lamps” to myself when I light the candles in my kitchen. And the final verse of The Buddha’s Last Instruction always touches my heart:

And then I feel the sun itself

       as it blazes over the hills,

       like a million flowers on fire–

       clearly, I’m not needed,

       yet I feel myself turning 

       into something of inexplicable value…

There are so many poems that have little pencil hearts next to the title. Just Beauty. Check out lovely article about Mary Oliver on Brainpickings too.

3. Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Indeed this year is the year of book magic. Another spontaneous buy and what a delight. And in such a right time too. Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote this book over 50 years ago, yet every word rings true. It made me think a lot about self care, if “me time” I have is really for me, it made me think of overall health of the relationships I have with the world and my loved ones. Wonderful book.

4. The Abundant Mama’s Guide to Savoring Slow by Shawn Fink of Abundant Mama Project. It is the newest addition to my comfort pile and I absolutely love it. Many important things that are obvious but so often forgotten in the daily turmoil are brought up. The author suggests this book should be read in monthly chunks to give one time to implement the way of embracing life and make these simple changes a habit.

5. A Year of Mornings from 3191 miles apart team, a wonderful collection of diptychs showing simple pieces of everyday life throughout the year. I keep it next to my bed as a reminder to see magic in the most ordinary of moments.

6. Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe by Yumi Sakugawa, bough for the art, kept for wonderful ispirations for meditation. I am not the type to read a lot of self-help books (even when I know I should), and this one sums up the important points and illustrations help to visualise the whole thing.

So here they are, my little “mama’s comfort” stack, all of these books made a difference in my perception of motherhood and who I am as a person overall. Please share your favorite “mama reads”, I would love to find new fascinating reads.

BOOK REVIEW: Headstrong by Rachel Swaby

It is true, there is not nearly enough mentions of extraordinary women scientists in books or other media. I, myself, am guilty of naming only a few on top of my head. And one of them is of course Marie Curie (who isn’t in this book at all). Bringing other women scientists’ stories to light is long overdue. This is why I was excited to hear about Headstrong by Rachel Swaby. This book talks about 52 amazing women scientists and their accomplishments. We learn about struggles these women faced  , how they overcome societal prejudices and chased their passions. Each and every story is unique and inspiring.

headstrong

The book is split into sections covering ladies of Medicine, Biology and the Environment, Genetics and Development, Physics, Earth and Stars, Math and Technology, and Invention. Each section is represented by women scientists from different  periods ranging from 17th century to present time. Scientists come from different countries as well (although most of them American and Western European). I was completely fascinated with their stories, from Mary Putnam Jacobi who had to write a research paper how menstruation does not actually affect women’s ability to learn (there was need to do this, crazy as it sounds) to amazing Hedy Lamar, whose life is better than a novel with twists and turns and accomplishments that made me writing this very review possible. Each entry is about three pages long, the book is an easy and engaging read. I loved how matter of fact it was, there was no need to mention their marital statuses or children, unless they were important for their work.

Overall impression: I want to learn more about each and every one of these amazing individuals. In the beginning of this book, the author states that reading about even just one woman per week will get reader through this book in a year and vastly improve one’s knowledge about women scientists. I feel that this is what I want to do when I re-read this book- to go through each woman’s story slowly, with additional research. I do wish there were pictures of these women ,  although they can be looked up, it would be nice to have them in the book as well. I recommend this book to everyone.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and unbiased review

BOOK REVIEW: Rain a Natural and Cultural History by Cynthia Barnett

I love rain–the sound of rain soothes me. I hate rain– it’s a nightmare to drive in and there are floods, kids go crazy inside too.  I am desperate for rain– it gets so dry in the summer. I am desperate for it to stop– enough already, it’s been a week…Let’s say my relationship with rain is complicated. But generally I don’t give rain much thought other than how it will affect my immediate surroundings. When Rain by Cynthia Barnett fell into my hands, I was amazed to find out how much there is to learn about something as (at first thought) trivial as water falling from the sky .

Rain by Cynthia Barnett

The 300 pages volume contains a wealth of information on meteorology, legends, geography, history and even linguistics of rain. Barnett goes in depth to acquaint her readers with the marvelous and complicated phenomenon that is the rain. The book is split into five parts. The first part Elemental Rain talks about rain’s presence in the world and how the patterns have changed throughout the centuries, it also talks about rain in mythologies and major religions. The second part Chance of Rain talks about history of observing weather, from the very first records to modern system. This chapter also discusses the inventions to protect us from rain. The third part American Rain deals with history of American rain-watching and rain-making of the present day. The fourth chapter Capturing the Rain talks about rain in popular culture, music and literature, architecture, and even the scent! The fifth part Mercurial Rain discusses ecological issues, such as acid rain and climate change.

Wow, what a ride this book is. I am still in process of savoring it, and I can’t get enough! I truly appreciate the wealth of information collected in this volume, it touches a little bit on everything provoking new questions. The language of the book is engaging, Barnett’s writing style pulls readers right in. The books is full of fun facts that fascinated me and my children alike. Something to discuss every day. And how fitting that I got it just as a week-long downpour descended on our part of the world. I think it will be fun to listen to it in audio format too. Wonderful book. Highly Recommended. Five plus stars.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and unbiased review

Week’s Roundup: March 23- March 29, 2015

We had the most busy, most crazy week. But it was fun.

Picture of the week:

When you see this guys smiling from the grass you know the spring is here

When you see this guys smiling from the grass you know the spring is here

Even if next day it looks like this again (for a short while)

Even if next day it looks like this again (for a short while)

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Silk Road Study part 1

This week we began our Silk Road Study, this is part one.

We had an awesome visit at Denver Museum of Nature and Science exhibit. It is called Traveling the Silk Road. It was most interesting visit. We got to learn a lot about major stops of the Great Silk Road. We learned about market life, means of transportation, tales and perils.I highly recommend this exhibition, it is on for another month.

Silk Road exhibition

Before visiting the museum we watched TED video about Silk Road

I decided to use Marco Polo’s travels as a guideline for our study. A biography video for Marco Polo can be found here. I got a very good book at the museum’s shop. Marco Polo for Kids: His Marvelous Journey to China by Janise Herbert. This book is great, it talks about Marco Polo’s travels and provides around 20 activities.

Marco Polo for kids book

This week we talked about  Marco setting off on his journey. Children created a medieval map. We looked at a few  old maps and tried to re-create them, not forgetting to include monsters that lurked in the seas and lands long ago. The fact that we visited Mythic Creatures exhibit earlier this week helped a lot. Children painted their maps on paper grocery bags, I made little boats for them out of polymer clay.

medieval map making

medieval map and clay boat

Our next stop this week was Turkey. We located it on the map, learned a bit about its history, practiced saying simple words in Turkish( a video for common words and phrases can be found here)

We talked about carpets that were made there (children actually got a couple of souvenir bookmarks from the exhibition) and children found it fascinating that making of a carpet could take months. We tried cereal box weaving at home.  It is very simple to make a loom cut a large rectangle out of a cardboard box, make notches to string the yarn and start weaving using yarn, fabric or embroidery thread. Children used grandma’s knitting left overs.

cereal box weaving

final result

final result

Children loved this project.

We also visited Denver Mint this week and besides learning how the coins are made, we had a chance to discuss what was used as a payment among the traders of long ago.

This was first part of our learning about the Great Silk Road, stay tuned for more.