Spreading the Word - Permaculture at Shire City Sanctuary

My pattern of learning and accomplishment revolve closely around deadline and time constraints. Yesterday and last night I shot and made my first video ever. It was submitted today for a super huge and awesome grant right on deadline.  It was noted on the application that we are not being 'graded' on video production (PHEW!). Not only was the result of my pressured learning curve successful, the process was enjoyable and the tool so useful! Here is the fruit of my midnight oil. It is just a simple little visual tool for sharing more about our project proposal. Shot with an iPhone 5 edited with an app called Splice, and uploaded to Vimeo – all fist time experiences for me. The hardest part is remembering all the passwords.

Now here is a taste of what Shire City Sanctuary has in store.  Feels super positive and there is a strong sense of team spirit building in each of us working on this bright beacon.  Take a look.


And then stay tuned for teaching videos bringing my workshops and more to you wherever you are! Yay!

Bring Summer Along

08.12.15 4 Every summer I put corn in the freezer and bring summer right along for the ride through the coldest months of the year. This all started a long while back when my son, Ben was a baby. His dad, Charlie grows the best sweet corn I have ever tasted and his mom, Dolly has inspired all sorts of food preservation in me, and many others.

This is how I do it.

You will need:

A large amount of super delicious sweet corn. I ususally process a 50 lb bag.

A large covered pan big enough to cook full ears of corn (with cover on).

Large cutting board

Pancake Spatula

Sharp knife or Kernel Cutter

Large mouth Mason or Ball Jars with covers

Food funnel


08.12.15 3

Husk all the corn. Break off long stems.

Boil 2 inches of water in a large covered pan.

Gently place as many ears of corn as will fit in the pan.

Steam them with cover on for 5-7 minutes.

Remove cooked ears from pan with tongs and allow to cool.08.12.15 2

Add more ears of to the hot water and steam them while the first batch is cooling.

When cool enough to handle, cut kernels off the cob.

Scoop up the kernels with the pancake spatula and fill jars using the food funnel.

Cover jars.

Let cool.

Pop into the freezer.

08.12.15 1

When ready to use frozen corn from freezer, thaw a jar in fridge and use within a day or two.





Pittsfield's Permaculture Oasis

07.30.15.Black Eyed Susans My hubby and I own a former Roman Catholic Church we call Shire City Sanctuary.  It is a Makerspace.  A Makerspace is like a gym for makers. There are day passes and monthly memberships. Members get a key and are welcome to come and go whenever they want. Equipment and workspace is shared. Lockers, Tubs, Shelves, and Studios are options for those who need storage or desire private workspace. There are classes and weekly public events. Oh and an AhhhMazing Event Space that anyone can rent. There is an strong community of collaborators gathering here that is super exciting!

07.30.15.ShadeIn addition, Shire City Sanctuary is residential. Four apartments are complete and inhabited (with two more to come) in the former rectory, next door to the church. We bought the buildings from the diocese in 2006 and moved in so we could slowly but surely turn the building into truly beautiful, ‘green’ apartments. Lots of reused marble from the church, moldings made with lumber from pews, no VOC paint, blown in cellulous insulation, were used to a make apartments where we would want to live. (Oh, and we did live in every corner of the building while we renovated.)07.30.15.ChurchThe two buildings, church and rectory, form a campus-like feel and are surrounded by amazing green space. This spring Chris and I hired Matt Lamb and Jay Allard of Berkshire Earth Regenerators to transform the yard into a beautiful space for us, and our tenants, to spend time. 07.30.15.MattOn Earthday we had seen a screening of Inhabit http://inhabitfilm.com/film/ hosted by Matt at Dottie’s Coffee Lounge  The subject matter was pretty enligtening and Matt’s enthusiasm encouraged us to consider how our city and specifically our greenspace at Shire City Sanctuary really needed to be overhauled becoming organic, low maintenance, productive, biodiverse, and useful space.07.30.15.Hoogle Bed Matt was really excited when we approached him with our idea to Permaculture-Up the grounds at our center-city property and he set right to work. He walked the property, and assessed what we had growing there. He cleaned up trash, turned the neglected compost piles, and walked the property more, observing all the while.  Next he arranged a tenant meeting to establish how this greenspace should function to best serve the people who would use it most. After some careful thought and deliberation, he formed a solid plan for the space with stages of installment.  07.30.15.BlackCapsThen Berkshire Earth Regenerators showed up with a crew of the most amazing helpers and worked HARD for about a week. They planted a hugle bed, buffering noise and creating privacy. They built a beautiful shade structure to hang out in, created a swale to conserve and use rain water most efficiently. There are walkways, flowers and food growing. Soil is being nurtured with cover crops. Butterflies are fluttering, children are playing and our family dogs are finding shade.  07.30.15.QuinnIn just 6 weeks our property has been transformed and we have just gotten started.  We are really excited to keep the project going. Now that we have our first stage at the rectory solidly underway, we plan to encompass the church with permaculture and spread it as far and wide as we can. Ideas include lots of food and flowers right in front of the church, a rainwater catchment system (off a very large slate roof), fruit and nut trees that overhang our sidewalk with produce to share, a driveway changed from asphalt to pavers that allow drainage and greenspace, bunny tractors, bee hives, and chickens.  All in the heart of a predominantly asphalt covered small city in western Massachusetts. Feels like we might just be part of the solution and THAT feels really really good.  Thank you Matt Lamb and Berkshire Earth Regenerators!

My Father's Garden

My father was one of my best friends. He was an amazing artist, storyteller, travel companion, and house cleaner. Most of all, he had magical gardens. He did not have a mere green thumb, but hands full of nurturing and colorful creativity. His prized garden thrives at the house he and my sweet mother left to me and my sister in Kinvara, on the west coast of Ireland. I am visiting here now, channeling his sense of high-jinx and adventure with dear friends researching a family adventure that my hubby and littles will embark on in September 2016. We are getting ducks in a row to spend a year here. Learning about schools, and health insurance, and getting passports. AND learning about the amazing array of plants in this magical garden that will soon be mine to tend.

Planetary Healing - Act Locally

My hubby and I own a former Catholic Church and rectory next door in Pittsfield MA. You might know about it – called Shire City Sanctuary – a Makerspace in the former church AND we have turned the adjacent rectory into 4 apartments right in the heart of our healing city. (Pittsfield has a long history of toxicity left in the wake of General Electric’s production - PCBs in the river, tainted soil given to land owners as ‘clean fill’ and even used in public school playgrounds.) For 30 years the EPA and GE have been arguing, talking about, and promising to cleaning it up and they never will. It has been such a long time that most people don’t remember the atrocities.

We remember - and know that waiting around for other people or government agencies to do the right thing is most often wasted time. We are taking the healing into our own hands.

Jay and Matt Lamb of Berkshire Earth Brigade working on a shade structure for vertical beds and a sitting area.

Here is how: with Permaculture.

We are healing our ground with plants and mushrooms, creating productive, low maintenance, nurturing gardens for our tenants and neighbors to use and enjoy. We have hired Matt Lamb and a couple collaborators to turn our grounds into a magical healing wonderland of food and beauty. Stay tuned here for updates and pictures throughout the seasons. It all just started and is off to an amazing start.

Spring Momentum

Here in the Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts is it simply beautiful, our new leaves are turning from that sweet baby leaf green to a hardy summer hue. We have been busting out AWESOME denim and corduroy picnic blankets in the studio and developing a full line of clothing from 100% cotton recycled t-shirts. While my attention has been focused on production, there has been a little unexpected hiatus here at www.crispina.com. A few things have been going on that are wreaking havoc on our usual sequence. Becca, our trusty weekly treasury builder who normally posts on Mondays has run into a glitch with the software she has been using to create her posts. Jay, our creative genius webmaster is working on figuring out what that is all about - even while traveling in Iceland with his brand new baby boy, Atticus and his lovely lady Huck who is participating in an arts conference there. Laurie, who writes ReconsumerEyes that normally posts on Tuesdays is out of commission due to threatening emails, phone calls and written correspondence over the use of images found on the internet with no indication of copyright. Apparently the images in question were produced by Getty Images and have copyright protection. YIKES!

While Jay is working out the software glitch, I am committed to getting things back on track using only original images. Thanks for staying tuned. I’ll keep you posted on how things unfold.

The good news is that it is finally raining in our Beautiful Berkshires. The fruit trees my hubby and I are planting will be very happy about this.

Life Insurance - Spring Bulbs

Spring BulbsWe are having an unusually beautiful fall in New England this year. Day after day of cloudless skies, perfect temperatures and lush, fresh breezes. It's hard to want to do anything but be outdoors every minute. In times of this much beautiful weather, I think about ways I can prolong this sense of nature at it's best. One of my favorite ways it to make an investment in a future of natural beauty by planting Spring Bulbs. I think of it as stashing away funds in the “Bank of Next Year's Gloriousness.” There's always a spectacular return on my investment! Planting spring bulbs now not only keeps you outdoors during this fine time, but guarantees you a pop of color and inspiration at that time of year when you may still be trying to shake the winter chill off your heart. Also, it's a great way to spend time with your kids. Let them join you in choosing the variety of bulbs to plant, so that your spring garden is a celebration of everyone's tastes.Untitled 4

There's an amazing array of choices in bulbs these days. A visit to a local garden center will dazzle you. Daffodils and tulips offer up cheerful, reliable charm but don't hesitate to branch out and try something new.

Spring Bulb choices

Here are some tips for making your bulb planting adventure a success:

Buy bulbs that are firm to the touch, with a light paper skin. If there is any softness when you hold the bulb, it might be rotten. After you buy your bulbs, try not to wait too long before you plant them. Get those beauties in the ground!

Dig your holes about 8 inches from the base of the bulb. That means, for example, if you have a one inch bulb, dig a nine inch hole. An interesting trick is to sprinkle a little kitty litter in the hole, which will deter rodents from eating your bulb.

Bulbs are perennials which means that theoretically they will return year after year. However, if you want to assure this, it's a good idea to use a little plant food around the bulb as you plant it. There are simple, affordable varieties of bulb food available are garden centers.

Untitled 3There are many ideas about how many inches to leave between your bulbs, but I think it's best to simply decide how you'd like the flowers to look when they bloom. Do you want a concentrated spray of color? Then plant a handful of them close together in a circle. Want them in a line? Then plant them about 6 inches apart. Want them to have a natural look to where they sprout? Hold a handful of bulbs and simply toss them onto the dirt. Wherever they land is where they get planted!

Water the bulbs only lightly after planting. Afterwards, it will probably not be necessary to ever water your bulbs unless there is an extensive period of dry weather.

Let the thought of these bulbs hum within you during the long months of winter. Sit back and know that you're guaranteed to have a vibrant spring, full of colors that you yourself made happen.


Lorne Holden is an artist and author of the Amazon Bestseller "MAKE IT HAPPEN in Ten Minutes a Day/ The Simple, Lifesaving Method for Getting Things Done" and creator of LifeBloom Online Coaching

Weekly Treasury - Life Insurance

Life Insurance

As the chill of fall sets in we are loading our lawn with all sorts of Spring bulbs to bring early cheer at the end of our long cold season. Get inspired here to brighten your end of winter. Insurance for early signs of life in Spring.

Antique Tulip Print, Spring Bulbs, Vintage Flower Print, Large Botanical Print, Oversized Botanical Wall Art, Wall Hanging

Spring Floral Plate Kaiser of Germany Wall Decoration

5 SNOWDROPS early spring flowers bulbs Naturalize Snow Drops Earliest Blooms

10 Mini Paper Daffodils - Pale Yellow -  Made of mulberry paper with wire stems - Great for card making, wedding favour & boutonnieres

crochet scarf  crochet  lariat ,flower  crochet scarf

Antique Tulip Spring Bulbs Natural Scientific Plate Illustration Digital Download for Papercrafts, Transfer, Pillows, etc Burlap No 6147

Hyacinth Bulbs-Muscari armeniacum, called grape hyacinth, spring-blooming-25 Bulbs~NOW SHIPPING, Pepennial

Batik Cotton Tulips - Three Flowers

Beautiful Primrose Original Vintage Botanical Print / Spring Flowers / Summer / Floral / Illustration / Art

Fresh Spring sale, Happy bulb and Lilly, Silver stackingrings set, stack rings, Romantic ring, Gift for her

Single Hyacinth Flower Bulb in Forcing Vase

Vintage Lace & Crochet Kilt Pin - Spring Bulbs

Spring Bulbs Terrarium Ring

Spring Bulbs with Leaves Photograph 8 x 10 inch by J. L. Fleckenstein


Striped Tulips Handmade Block Print Note Card


Every week we gather a handful of treasures around a theme, from Etsy - an online marketplace featuring handmade wares, vintage items, and supplies for making. Weekly treasuries are normally featured here on Mondays.  You can click on the images above and be taken to a place on Etsy where there is more information about and pictures of that item. Crispina’s online shop is located on Etsy along with a whole ton (like over 800,000) of other handmakers, vintage resellers and material retailers. If you have a minute, leave a comment – it is always so nice to hear from you and build community right here in cyberspace!  Join us in supporting Handmade, Recycled, Organic, and Locally Produced wares for living. Enjoy!

Powered By Toastie Studio - Etsy Tools

Blog Theme - Spring Bulbs

field-of-daffodils-david-freuthalThis week I am planting spring bulbs in my yard. We have lived in my husband’s family’s home for two years now and have been putting it off as my hubby threatens to dig a new foundation here and grade out a slope there. My father was house proud. He was an avid gardener with lovely blooming plantings from one corner of his small lot to the other. He indulged in perennials of all forms from trees to the sweetest early snowdrops. I share his affinity for nature and gardening. I am married to an earth mover. My husband loves trucks and large equipment. He drags whole trees from the woods with his giant tractor.

We have agreed to keep part of our large swath of Berkshire forest free from heavy tires. This is where my bulbs will be planted. Snowdrops – for my dad, lots of Daffodils to welcome the new life of Spring after our long Massachusetts winter, and checkerboard lilies because I just love them. It feels like home when there is a garden. This is my start, the vegetable garden fence will be installed this fall too so planting can begin in early spring. The thought of this brings calm and wholeness to mind.120069189_snowdrop_375279c