Well, hello there!
It’s Marcella here for the Good Vibe 5, which means that instead of landing on Friday, we’re coming at you on Saturday morning... eep! Sorry for the wait, friends, and welcome to a post that I hope gives you a jumping-off point for a weekend of FUN!
I’ve returned from a week away, soaking up 100% pure Vitamin ME. An old friend, who happens to be incredibly talented paper artist Sharyn Sowell, invited me and a few other artists to her Washington state studio for an artists’ and garden-lovers’ retreat. With Doug’s loving encouragement, I set off to the Pacific Northwest, my heart ready to receive a burst of creativity and natural beauty. I don’t think I was being overboard when I told Sharyn afterward that it was one of the best weeks of my life.
|Our muddy boots are cropped out, but we tromped through the Tulip fields in Skagit Valley with much mud-caked aplumb! Here with our glorious host, Sharyn Sowell, and my new crafty friend, Lori Gardner Woods.|
With a rainbow of tulips in bloom in vast bulb-growers’ fields, Puget Sound on one side of us, ice-capped mountains on the other, fertile land growing everything you can imagine in between, it is God’s Country. Then there was fresh roadside rhubarb (deftly made into a pie by Sharyn), ice cream cones as big as our heads, time spent exploring new techniques in the studio, playing with stamps, printing presses, hot glue guns, velvet, linen, and embroidery thread, touring gardens and nurseries with hybrid plants they just don’t carry where I live — and making new friends that I am pretty sure are kindred spirits. The underlying vibe of the week was “love”. Love expressed through crafting, through cooking, through kindness and generosity of Sharyn and her husband, through laughter and prayer and blossoming friendships. I will be grateful forever for having the opportunity to take this week away to truly revive in every respect.
So, in this episode of Good Vibe 5, I thought I’d share just ONE aspect of my Vitamin ME trip — and overarching theme that couldn’t be denied!! It seems I’m becoming obsessed with mushrooms. Not just the ones at the grocery store... foraging for wild mushrooms. The thrill of the hunt! The beauty and variety! The precious little cuties nestled in moss and leaves. And then, there are the edible mushrooms — the rich flavors, the aroma of earthy awesomeness. I couldn’t be more enthusiastic to share the inspiration I picked up in the Pacific Northwest, and these Good Vibes are all mushroom-centric.
By the way, I’m LOVING reading your posts about what Vitamin ME means to you... click HERE to add your Vitamin ME story, and you will be in the running to win $50 at the Power Poppy shop.
Is that not the cutest thing?? The poster helps folks identify which ones are edible. You not only look for the mushroom itself, but the surrounding flora and forest-floor detritus can help you identify your find. i.e.: Some mushrooms only grow under certain conifers, others prefer decaying hardwoods! Who know? I am learning so much.
SO — mushrooms were on my mind before I even hit the Northwest, where they grow absolutely effortlessly in the wet and welcoming conditions.
BOOM!! Once I landed in Seattle, I headed to Pike Place Market (ohhhh the bounty, what a visual and literal feast). Stopped in a wonderful produce stall and the knowledgeable staff helped me pick out a mushroom haul to bring with me to Sharyn’s. Maitake, Yellowfoot Chantrelles, Black Trumpet — locally foraged and all so unique and exciting.
Sharyn and I set to work sautéing the mushrooms with garlic and olive oil in a big cast iron skillet... we also added chopped Cippolini onions, salami (for that salty underlying flavor boost), and tomatoes — and mixed in locally caught smoked salmon. Served over homemade pasta from the market, it was pretty deluxe, I gotta say, and our table full of guests seemed to enjoy it a whole bunch. What a joy to cook alongside Sharyn, who shares my philosophy of just throwing stuff in and playing in the kitchen!
Another mushroom dish, just because I can... later in the week I spent a few days not too far from Sharyn’s house, on Whidbey Island. One night I ventured out to a “farm to fork” dinner, where the chef and sommelier are husband and wife, and everyone eats together in a big farmhouse/open kitchen. This dish was comprised of locally found morel mushrooms in a beef glaze, and the papardelle noodles were made from the yolks’ of their own hens’ eggs. Topped with “tuiles” — which is essentially a light, crunchy, cheesy crust made by putting a thin layer of cheese under the broiler for like, 20 seconds, then crackling it up into pieces and laying it atop the pasta. PRETTY DELISH!!
Right NOW is morel-hunting season all across the United States... I am getting my basket ready and hope to do some foraging today in the wilderness of Missouri. Will you be out looking for morels?
Speaking of foraging... one afternoon on Whidbey, I joined a group of folks who wanted to learn how to tell the difference between edible and poisonous mushrooms in the wild, and it was fascinating. Whidbey Wild Mushroom Tours was led by Travis, who is a self-declared mushroom geek, and we had an hourlong lesson where we took copious notes, and then headed out into the forest to find stuff for the rest of the day. My heart was racing with excitement at what we might encounter. Above, two of my new mushroom friends are snapping edible Oyster Mushrooms from the mossy bark of a dying alder tree.
Here are some cute little pinwheels — not edible, but so darling poking out of the moss!
Look at this giant thing! I forgot to write down what it was, because I was in such awe. The mushroom cap was about the size of my whole face! haha. So apparently there is a craft you can do with these mushrooms which also helps you identify whether or not they are poisonous. It is called making a “spore print”. You break off the stem, lay the cap gill-side down on a piece of paper, and leave it there for a day or two. Here’s a photo from a website I found — Milkwood Permaculture — which shows this off beautifully!
|Source: Milkwood Permaculture|
The microscopic spores that are held inside the gills trickle down on to the paper, and make an amazing print, staining the paper. Here is some information about mushroom spore printmaking, if you are interested... I think I might get fanatical about making these!! But first, there are some other mushroom crafts to explore...
Sooooo.... mushroom crafts. It’s a thing! Check out the adorableness above. Sharyn got us completely taken with the idea of stitching remnants of velvet, linen, and cotton batting to make these stuffed fabric mushroom friends. The ones in the photo here are all Sharyn’s handiwork, though the little purple one on the bottom left is my work in progress! You can purchase the pattern HERE. Think of the combinations and possibilities!! I’ll bet you won’t even finish reading this blog because you’re already off making fabric mushrooms.
Another day at our artists’ retreat, Sharyn encouraged us to use her linoleum-printing tools (some of them picked up on a trip overseas, as Sharyn is an artist-in-residence for a cruiseline, and she gets to go to fascinating spots and always picks up new supplies as souvenirs!). This piece of supple material, similar to a piece of old-fashioned linoleum, is carved out with special instruments that gauge out the area that you don’t want to be printed, leaving a rustic shape (mine is a bit more rustic than others, I hadn’t done this technique since high school commercial art class 30 years ago!) After I made this little duo of shrooms, I got lost in Sharyn’s collection of antique wood type, and concocted this design....
Mush Lyfe.... a play on Lush Life (and with a spelling nod to Thug Lyfe). To capture my mushroom obsession in a print! I brought some linen that I’ve been toting around for yonks, and clipped it into pieces the size of dish towels and framable prints. The final creation, printed on Sharyn’s antique proof press, with ink colors I mixed by hand, and printed all by myself (yay, I didn't really even screw any of them up tooo badly!) ....
I know this is totally weird, but boy oh boy did I have fun making this!! It was like large-scale stamping. You guys ALL would have done a much better job than I did, as my stamping skills leave a lot to be desired. But still, it was a great adventure in ink!
I wish you great adventures in Vitamin ME... embracing what makes your heart sing (mushrooms are just one of a billion choices for creative fixation! hehe!!). What will you explore today?
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Guess what, this week the Bloom Brigade is out soaking up Vitamin ME themselves!! Family vacations, scouting exploits, time spent with our loved ones or outside sprucing up the landscape... we don’t have any cards to share, but Stacy Morgan has a cute post about what she’s been up to lately!
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LOOKING FOR THE APRIL INSTANT GARDEN DIGI?
Oh my goodness, I am a bit behind with all of my traipsing around. We WILL have a new digital design, inspired by the Tulips of Skagit Valley, and it should be out next week sometime.... I’ll keep you posted in the newsletter when it is ready to be released!
And stay tuned for an awesome tutorial by our beloved scoutmaster supreme, Ally Cope, on Monday!xoxoxo,