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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
For the Arepas:
2 1/2 cups of water 2 cups of PAN – Harina de maiz (pre-cooked corn meal) 1 teaspoon of salt. Oil vegan 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).
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!
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.
2 small organic avocados, peeled
6 hard boiled free range organic eggs
1/4 cup organic mayonnaise
6 chopped organic green onions
1 and 1/2 tablespoons organic lemon juice
6 to 8 shakes of smoked paprika, depends on how much you love it
sea salt and pepper to taste
Place the eggs in a saucepan and fill with enough cold water to cover the eggs (they should sit in a single layer). I use my Le Creuset Cast-Iron 1-Quart Oval (Dutch) French Oven so the eggs can rest in said single layer with no drama! Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. As soon as the water comes to a boil, turn off the heat and cover the pan; let sit for 13 minutes (15 minutes if you’re cooking a dozen).
Drain the water and immediately run cold water over the eggs. Transfer eggs to an ice bath and allow eggs to chill for 10 minutes.
Peel and roughly chop the hard boiled eggs.
Add the avocado to a mixing bowl with the mayonnaise, green onions, lemon juice, smoked paprika, sea salt and pepper. Mash the avocados, leaving them slightly chunky if desired. Add the chopped hard boiled eggs and stir well to combine. I like to let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes so the flavors work themselves into each other, but it is not necessary. Eat on toasted bread with watercress or greens of choice. I also will put it on a romaine lettuce leaf and eat it like an egg salad lettuce taco!
This is such a special time in our American History, and I am proud to be alive in these times. The Women’s March on Washington is most likely going to go down in our history books as the start of another wave of feminism, and this time, WE WILL NOT STEP BACK.
Mushpa + Mensa were unable to hitch a ride to DC, and maybe all happened for a reason. We were meant to stay at our own city rally in Wilmington, NC. We stayed in our home town, made signs, and shouted, chanted, and participated in the Wilmington’s Sister Women’s March. What a phenomenal experience. Even more amazing was coming back home and seeing the pictures and videos of ALL THOSE WOMEN. Men and children also there supporting. Political figures, icons, celebrities, artists, and humans from all walks of life. All these little pink hats, all these powerful signs. So much to say, yet such unity in our voice. Despite the hiccups of what it means to be part of this march (Can a pro-lifer still be a feminist? Is there space for white woman oppression?) the energy was ONE.
I am so proud of all of us. This light inside me grows. The strength in me grows, and so does the motivation. We are awake, and ready to go.
Despite not being in Washington physically, our collective energy filled every corner of the world, from Berlin, to Paris, from London to Costa Rica. This is not an American movement. This is WORLD WIDE.
The internet has united us, and I have witnessed some amazing and moving moments from the Women’s March. Here a few favorites. I hope you play them, enjoy them, and let them fill you with hope, motivation, and furious energy to fight this culture of hate, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia and darkness that has crept up to a mainstream platform.
Without further ado, press play, and may the force be with you.
“We too must stand united….if we fall into the trap of separating ourselves by our causes and our labels, then we will weaken our fight, and we will lose. But if we commit to what aligns us, if we stand together steadfast and determined, then we stand a chance at saving the soul of our country.” -America Ferrera
“I’m not nasty like the combo of Trump and Pence being served up to me in my voting booth. I’m nasty like the battles my grandmothers fought to get me into that voting booth…We are here to be respected. We are here to be nasty!” -Nina Donovan interpreted by Ashley Judd
“We are the people. We have people power, and we will use it…This is the upside of the downside. This is an outpouring of energy and true democracy like I have never seen in my very long life. It is wide in age, it is deep in diversity, and remember: the constitution does not begin with “I the president”, it begins with “We the People.” So do not try to divide us…” -Gloria Steinem
The 4 things we need to do according to Michael Moore:
1. Call Congress every single day (1 rep in the house, 2 senators) 202-225-3121
2. JOIN A GROUP!
3. Form your own rapid response team: people that you will call, when we need to move fast. 10 people
4.Form regions of resistance. Blue states and cities. The country will follow your lead!