Posts Tagged ‘furoshiki’

Young Hummingbird Feeding

Photo by Linnell Chang

There’s quite a buzz around the water cooler these days, except in this case the water cooler is a hummingbird feeder. With their fuzzy-looking baby feathers and miniscule stature, young hummingbirds buzz around the feeder competing for food. Some of them are so small that they cannot stand on the perch to feed. If they did, they would be unable to reach the nectar. Most of the adult hummingbirds tolerate the young birds and some even feed simultaneously with the little ones. But like the human species, greed also exists in the bird world and some of the older birds bully and chase away the young ones. Watching the hummingbirds interact reminds me of all the times I told my children, “Please set a good example and share.”

#1 – Mosaic Marvels

Mosaic art by Laura Rendlen

Winters Beauty by artist Laura Rendlen

After viewing the incredible art at the Vatican several years ago, I left with a greater appreciation for the pain-staking art of mosaics. Mosaics may be an ancient art form, but they’re just as beautiful now in modern art installations. I’d like to share with you these 10 stunning examples of modern-day mosaic art.

#2 – Frisée or Mâche?
In my last post, I wrote about growing my own lettuce and serving a very fresh salad for dinner. Also growing in my yard are arugula, kale, and chard. Not bad for a container gardener with a brown thumb! With a variety of salad greens available for us to grow in our yards, buy at markets, or eat in restaurants, it can be difficult to tell them apart. Here’s a Visual Guide to Salad Greens, courtesy of Epicurious, to help you identify them, learn about their characteristics, and link to recipes using them.

#3 – More Great Ideas
Storing wrapping paper Some of the ideas in Even More Simple Ideas that Are Borderline Genius have been around the block a couple of times. However, there are a several of them that had me thinking, “Why didn’t I think of that?” I particularly like the idea of using wired shelving to hold rolls of wrapping paper vertically. Check out these ideas, because maybe there’s one that will make your life easier.

#4 – Furoshiki
Furoshiki are Japanese wrapping cloths. They serve to transport, protect, and/or decorate. Since Furoshiki are reusable, they prevent product waste, especially in the case of wrapping paper and bags. There are different ways to tie Furoshiki, depending on an item’s shape and size. Click here to learn about Furoshiki wrapping techniques.

#5 – Shared Words, Shared Worlds
I share this poem, written by Arab-American poet, songwriter, and novelist Naomi Shihab Nye, with the hope that you will share it with others. Its message is clear: that there’s so much good in a little kindness and that living in a “shared world” is a much better world.

Shared Words, Shared Worlds
–by Naomi Shihab Nye

After learning my flight was detained 4 hours,

I heard the announcement:
If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic,
Please come to the gate immediately.

Well—one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress,
Just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly.
Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her
Problem? we told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she
Did this.

I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly.
Shu dow-a, shu- biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick,
Sho bit se-wee?

The minute she heard any words she knew—however poorly used—
She stopped crying.

She thought our flight had been canceled entirely.
She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the
Following day. I said no, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late,

Who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him.
We called her son and I spoke with him in English.
I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and
Would ride next to her—Southwest.

She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it.

Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and
Found out of course they had ten shared friends.

Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian
Poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours.

She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering

She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies—little powdered
Sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts—out of her bag—
And was offering them to all the women at the gate.

To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
Sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California,
The lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same
Powdered sugar. And smiling. There are no better cookies.

And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers—
Non-alcoholic—and the two little girls for our flight, one African
American, one Mexican American—ran around serving us all apple juice
And lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar too.

And I noticed my new best friend—by now we were holding hands—
Had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing,

With green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always
Carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.

And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought,
This is the world I want to live in. The shared world.

Not a single person in this gate—once the crying of confusion stopped
—has seemed apprehensive about any other person.

They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too.
This can still happen anywhere.

Not everything is lost.

Have a great weekend!

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My backyard has become Grand Central Station – for the birds! With several types of bird feeders and bird baths scattered throughout my backyard, it has become a bustling playground of activity. I enjoy taking breaks from my daily routine to listen to the songs and watch the ongoings of the birds. The few minutes I take everyday to observe these beautiful creatures is always enough to remind me to “be present.”

#1 – Hummingbird Tale
For two years straight, my front door shrubbery was selected by hummingbirds as nest-worthy. My children were young then and were fascinated by the tiny nests made from spider webs and lichen. As to not disturb the nest, we observed the Jelly Belly-sized eggs via a hand mirror’s reflection. Eventually, the eggs hatched and the babies grew. One by one the babies seemed to fly away without any of us noticing. Then one afternoon we walked out the front door just in time to see the last little one perched on the edge of the nest, teetering a bit, waiting to take off. And just like that, he was gone. We felt sad to see “our” little birds leave, but were happy to see another nest in almost the exact same spot the following year! My fascination with hummingbirds has continued through the years and because I live in an area where we have hummingbirds year round, I make sure their feeder is kept clean and full.

According to Hummingbirds.net and my local bird store, it’s not necessary to buy commercial “nectar” mixes. These birds get all the nutrition they need from flower nectar and insects they consume. They do, however, get quick energy from ordinary white cane sugar – fuel for going after bugs.

Here’s a simple Hummingbird Nectar Recipe I got from my local bird store:

1. Add one part sugar to four parts hot water (boiled water optional). Store surplus in the refrigerator.

2. Never use honey to sweeten your nectar! Honey harbors a fungus that is deadly to these delicate creatures.

3. Never use food coloring in your feeders.

4. Nectar ferments rapidly. Clean and refill daily when temperatures are over 100 degrees; at least twice weekly during cooler weather. Avoid placing your feeder in the afternoon sun side of your house.

#2 – Double Duty
Whenever my husband and I take road trips or even just car trips for more than a few hours, we always take along a small ice chest. We never know what tasty morsel might be procured along the way or better yet, what leftovers mom and dad might send home with us! Plus, we like to have bottles of water to sip on during the trip. Instead of using space-consuming ice packs, I freeze a few water bottles and throw them into the ice chest. It’s a two-for-one deal: The frozen bottles keep everything nice and cold in the ice chest, but the defrosted bottles quench our thirst! The best way to freeze the bottles is to lean them against something in the freezer so that the water freezes at an angle (air space is redistributed). Not a biggie, but freezing water bottles standing straight up creates bulging bottles that don’t stand up on their own!

Even when we take our refillable water bottles on trips, I still pack frozen water bottles in the ice chest. Often times the same unopened water bottles get frozen over and over gain.

#3 – Mercury and Compact Fluorescent Lights
If a CFL bulb breaks in your home, should you be concerned about mercury exposure? Here’s an article by Helen Suh MacIntosh, a professor in environmental health at Harvard University, that answers the question.

#4 – Recyclable Gift Wrap
This You Tube video on Furoshiki gift wrapping demonstrates the versatility of Furoshiki. Furoshiki are reusable Japanese wrapping cloths that can be used to transport clothes, gifts, or other goods. The video shows how to wrap books, bottles, chocolates, and how to make a bag.

#5 – Sing!
Some days there won’t be a song in your heart. Sing anyway.
~Emory Austin

Enjoy your weekend!

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