Grow Your Own Pineapples

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In this video, Mark lets us know to only buy pineapples with tops at the stores or farmer’s market, any others without tops he says those sellers can, “go stuff themselves!” :] Other truth bombs he drops on us are, no need to soak in water just cut the head off leaving an inch of the fruit to give them some extra energy, then “bang the head into the ground” and add some water.

He gives us some more knowledge in the video, but I will let you watch and learn the rest on your own if you so choose!

Free fruit! Pictures in the future here.

– Mushpa

Pledge Truth

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The news needs to be true. You can help make truth possible by checking out Factcheck.org as a starting point. Let yourself get lost in finding the truth and then spread it all over that wondrous world wide web.

Factcheck.org sister sites include FlackCheck.org, which provides resources to help you recognize flaws in arguments in general and political ads in particular, and SciCheck, which sniffs out false and misleading scientific claims.

Want more? The people at Politifact have broken down a seven step process.

Other good fact-checking sites include Snopes, the Washington Post fact-checker, and OpenSecrets.org, which collects data on political spending.

Something to do right now if you so choose…

Tweet #pledgetruth and spread the word.

Facts are black & white! I took the pledge and you can too. :]

Let us not get lost in the static.

– Mushpa

How To Tie A Bowline Knot For Hanging A Hammock

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Mushpa + Mensa got a hammock in Ecuador last Christmas, but had not hung up said hammock as we had no idea how to do it! Me, I am from NYC and we are not in the business of hanging hammocks, so I delved into the world wide web for some answers. I even used my own mystery solving brain and incorporated this new knowledge of knots towards hanging this hammock in a way we would never crack our skulls on the pavement. I am here now to share this wisdom with you via the video above.

The bowline knot is a pretty amazing knot. It is real simple to tie and will make it so not only can you hang your hammock using 4 knots and 2 pieces of rope, but you can also tie your boat to the dock and not worry about it floating away, you can tie your horse outside the saloon, climb the Appalachian Mountains, tie your camping treats up in a tree out of Yogi bear’s greedy little paws and last but not least, rescue damsels in distress out of wells. It’s a hero’s knot really.

Mensa and I have both sat in the hammock together for some time now and it held us perfectly, swinging and all! I am the heroine of hammock hanging, here to save the day!

Enjoy.

– Mushpa

Sidenote – I did not show it in the video, but I burned the 4 ends of the pieces of rope to make sure they did not fray. Better safe than sorry.

Mushpa’s Lesbian Chic Flick Preview Reviews

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I know you all have been waiting for my 2017 lesbian flick preview reviews to come out. Keep in mind they are not all from 2017, that is just when I reviewed said previews. It is 3AM on a Tuesday, raining, perfect.

I have not seen any of the actual movies yet as they are either not officially out or because I now live in an endearing little town in the South that does not have a place to watch said films. I should be the one to remedy this.

The first film is, La Luciérnaga (The Firefly) from 2013. A sister loses her brother and then falls in love with his widow.

Next is Ah-ga-ssi (The Handmaiden) a 2016 South Korean erotic psychological thriller. It’s based on one of my all time favorite BBC series, written by lesbian Sarah Waters, Fingersmith. Watch it first! This should be breathtaking.

Next is Lovesong. No regrets. 2016 release. May not be a full fledged lesbo flick, but you know…. :]

Last, but not least, Heartland – 2016. Death, The South, lesbians, and love, I can’t wait.

Movies are art. Art is life. Life is connecting.

Love to all,

Mushpa

The Eco Trio: Tagua, Pambil, and Acai Jewelry

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Many of the pieces that are made here at Mushpa + Mensa, use little, medium and larger seeds from the amazon rain-forest, collected specifically from Ecuador.

As a native Ecuadorian, I am able to travel back to my childhood country, bring my lady with me, and browse though many of the outdoor markets that sell these wonderful seeds, which we then take and make our eco-jewelry from.

So what are the three seeds?

Tagua:

The largest of all the seeds is tagua, although in other Latin American countries it can be referred to as vegetable ivory, palm ivory, marfim-vegetal, corozo, or jarina, the seeds all still derive from the same genus of palms: Phytelephas. There as six known species of this palm that thrive from Panama, to Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Brazil and Peru.

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Often it is referred to as “eco-ivory” because it has the same characteristics of elephant ivory, as it can be carved very easily as well as dyed with different colors, and it is hard and unbreakable and can be polished beautifully.

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The female palm is the one that bears the fruit, which falls from the trees and  inside it holds usually 4 individual nuts. The immature fruit is usually sweet and soft, while the mature fruit has transformed into a harder that wood nut covered in a brown shell, which can later be used for multiple projects, like our tagua necklaces!

Pambil:

red-pambil

The second seed we often use is called pambil, and it is another palm from the Ecuadorian rain forest. This palm tree known scientifically as  Iriartea deltoidea,  which can grow between 20-35 meters tall and can be “easily recognized by the prominent bulge in the center of its trunk, and the stilt roots, which form a dense cone up to 1 m in diameter at the base.” It is also surrounded by a brown shell covering that can be removed and either left naturally as a cream color, or can be dyed as well.

Acai:

pambil

This is the smallest of the seeds we use. It is pronounced ah-s-ah-ee, and it is found in the tropical Amazon rain forest. It has recently been popularized in the United States as a super food for its rich antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and you can find it in juices, body products and supplements.

It has also been used by indigenous tribes for centuries as one of their most important sources of daily nutrition, and has been cultivated also for building materials and artisan crafts using its palm leaves and seeds. It also mostly cultivated as a source for hearts of palm! Delicious.

But here at the Mushpa + Mensa studio, we use it as the third in the trio of our sustainable seed collection.

tagua-pambil-necklace

All of these seeds are free from petroleum based products like many conventional beads, and free from animal cruelty. They are harvested by local communities as a source of income, and their popularization in recent years has allowed for many of these communities to build themselves up from the sustainable sources that the tropical rain-forests of Ecuador provides.

Now that you have a better knowledge of our trio of seeds, take a look at our shop and see what inspires you!

-Mensa

What to Read Next: The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

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I must admit I do not devour books. Reading was not something I grew up with as a child, but I have learned to become a better reader over time. Every time I finish a book, I find some sort of peace. I seek out knowledge through books, and I try to read a little every day. Sometimes though, a book captures me in such a way, that I become obsessed with the world inside it. I live it, I dream about it, think about it and it consumes me. The Red Tent was one of these books.

The subject matter? Women of ancient times. Specifically one woman: Dinah, mentioned only once in the Bible in the Book of Genesis. Her story comes to life. Her youth, her traditions, and the red tent. A place where women of ancient civilizations used to gather during the new moon, to observe their menses, and bring ritual and in some cases honor the life bearing blood that fills wombs every month.

Not only did the story of Dinah, daughter of Lea, Rachel, Zilpah and Bilhah bring knowledge of ancient womanhood practices, including midwifery and births, marriage, sex, and a young girls turning of age through her period. My journey with these women, made me understand the strength of the covens that formed during times where their stories, and names were barely mentioned.

red-tent

This story is rooted on the Bible story of “The Rape of Dinah” in Genesis 34, where the episode of her violation by Shechem is later avenged by her brothers Simeon and Levi on the city of Hamor, father of Shechem.

The Bible is a book where the female is scantly sacred, where lineage is remembered by fathers, and where the births of sons is most honorably, and women’s honor is due for the rise of power for man and tribe. Anita Diamant transforms the stories of Laban, Rachel, Lea, Jacob and Joseph and flips it on its head. She remains true to the old written word, but delves into a world lost by time filling in the gaps of Dinah’s story.  A woman’s world where magic, wisdom, strength and faith are rooted on the spirit of the female.

I give praise to The Red Tent, for it gave me sight into a world where eyes need to go, where women ought to be honored, and most of all remembered.

If you love history, if you want knowledge of ancient womanhood, and if you want to dive deep into a story of love, magic and blood, then I invite you to open the pages of this book.

Thank you to the author, and thank you to Dinah, whatever your real story may have been, today we remember you had a story too, and we honor your story now.

With love,

-Mensa

To Dance is To Pray…To Pray is to Heal

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A little food for the soul.

Enjoy.

Much love to all. May you fly, may you dance, may your soul be filled with joy.

– Mensa

Ps. I love you my mushpa!

Arepas con Curtido Fusion Recipe

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Arepas, Pupusas, Gorditas. Different maize (or corn meal) patties made slightly different in many Latin American countries. Delicious either way you eat them. A food that is economical, and so versatile it can be stuffed with literally anything you could imagine, from eggs and avocados, to meats and of course, the classic, cheese…ohh quesito!

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I decided to make Arepas once we started reaching the back row products in our kitchen cabinet. Somehow, we always end up getting the most creative when we have less resources. But I cannot complain. Even when we are low on food in the cabinets we often feel like our life is full of richness. Cheesy, I know, but true. And Cheesy is always good… as the recipe below will show you.

These Arepas were a simple recipe. Basic. Paired with cabbage salad, usually accompanying Salvadorean Pupusas. Here is the recipe. Go make them. Delicious. I used corn meal called P.A.N. This is what my mother gave me, and it is what I have read, the most commonly used corn meal.

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For the Arepas:

2 1/2 cups of water                                                                                                                                            2 cups of P.A.N- Harina de maiz (pre-cooked corn meal)                                                                   1 teaspoon of salt.                                                                                                                                             Oil                                                                                                                                                                         Cheese for stuffing

Pour water and salt into a container. Mix well. Start pouring the corn meal slowly, while mixing. Make sure you don’t get any lumps! When all is mixed, knead the dough until it is smooth, and let rest for a few minutes (3-5 minutes).

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Oil your pan, or griddle  a little bit on medium to low heat. Place patties and fry them until they brown in one side, and then the next. About 5 minutes each side. The lower the heat, the better, as you want the water inside to dry out a bit. Ideally when you knock on one with a knife, it should sound hollow or like an echo. The lower the heat, the longer they will be on the pan.

Place them in an oven at 325 degrees and let them cook for about 10 more minutes.

Cut them open in half, and stuff with a small palm full of cheese. Veggies and Protein are also an option!

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For the Curtido:

1/2 head cabbage, a carrot, and a yellow onion thinly sliced
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar/ maple syrup/ honey
1 teaspoon dried oregano, or Italian seasoning
1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

You can use a bag of ready coleslaw as I did this time (excluded the onions). Mix all vegetables in a bowl. Mix all other ingredients in a separate bowl, and then pour over cabbage mix. You can let it rest for a few minutes, while you season the arepas, but 2 hours or evnn the day after rest will absorb the flavors the best.

Serve along side the arepas and ENJOY!

Buen provecho,

Mensa

 

So Many Pens, So Little Time

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pen-pile

I have been saving pens, markers and mechanical pencils when they die for a long time now. I store them away in the utility room like some crazy hoarder. I have no idea what I will do with them all, but I know dumping toxic plastic into a landfill at the rate I would is not an option.

Honestly, we don’t buy so many pens in the Mushpa + Mensa household, they just appear from everywhere and nowhere. Actually, Mensa came home from visiting her family with a huge pen caddy full of pens, pens and more pens, most which were dried out. Last night they joined the rest of my dead pen collection and I thought, okay now is the time to figure out where these pens need to go to start their second life.

Here is what I discovered:

mercedes-pens-side-1The Pen Guy – He makes art out of pens. He covered his Mercedes Benz with pens… I mean come on, that’s cool and eco as long as the car never ends up in a landfill! The Pen Guy, collects and reuses thousands of pens in his art that would otherwise be thrown out. Donate your Ball Point, Dry Erase, Crayola, Felt Tip, Markers, Mechanical Pencils or any other type of pen and experience the transformation into beautiful recycled pen art. Here is where you can send the pens and keep them out of the landfill.

The Pen Guy – P.O.Box 994 – Forestville, CA 95436

If you are sending via UPS or FEDEX please address it to:

The Pen Guy – 6484 Mirabel Road, #994 Forestville, CA

teracycleTerracycle – They have boxes you can buy to recycle pens. Acceptable waste for this box are pens, pen caps, mechanical pencils, markers, marker caps, permanent markers, and permanent marker caps. Then the plastics undergo extrusion (a high-volume manufacturing process in which raw plastic is melted and formed into a continuous profile) and pelletization (the process of compressing or molding a material into the shape of a pellet) to be molded into new recycled plastic products. Terracycle also has a very helpful link to free recycling programs like for Brita and Pure water filters, guitar stings, cigarette waste and tons of other stuff!

pang recycling program

The Prang Power Recycling Program – If you use Prang art pens, they offer you a free recycling program for said pens.

There isn’t a multitude of options out there for pen recycling, but there is something. That means we can all do something. Also, invest in a pen or mechanical pencil you can refill. I am going to once I exhaust the last pen in this house! I will keep you abreast of the situation.

“People” say you do not really need pens or pencils anymore with all the electronics out there, but for me holding a pen in my hand is more organic and honestly where my truth comes from. I wake up every morning and write on paper using a pen for a half hour or so. It manifests my destiny, so I will keep on with it, but in a more environmentally conscientious way.

Here’s to you Mama Earth.

Love,

Mushpa + Mensa