One of Those Weeks

IMG_2157Have you ever had one of those week where you wonder how much more life can throw your way? That was last week. Sunday was a cracked pipe under the kitchen sink (ie me covered in sewer water), Tuesday we woke to find our car had been broken into and the registration stolen, Wednesday the door to the gas tank of our car was popped open and gas had been stolen and the hood was popped as well as they attempted to take the battery. Thursday was our 11th wedding anniversary, and  Saturday completed the week with a completely backed up kitchen sink. Whew….

But here I am Sunday night and all is well. Thanksgiving is just a few days away and I couldn’t be more grateful to be living the life I do. I won’t say that those minor robberies weren’t scary, they certainly scared me, but living in fear doesn’t do anyone any good right? There are so many bigger scarier problems going on around the world that all of the things that happened to us this week seemed a mere trifle.

It’s all about perspective right? I’m grateful that I have a home that has running water and pipes the have to be fixed or cleared on occasion. I am grateful I have car that someone could steal gas from (this one is a stretch but if I think of it any other way my blood begins to boil and I want to throttle whoever was lame enough to do it). I am grateful for the police officer who came to check it out and called me the next morning to check on me. I’m grateful that the plumber was available on at late Saturday afternoon and that I had cash on hand to pay him when I couldn’t find my checkbook!

Each evening instead of prayer our family tells one thing they are grateful for that day. Sometimes it’s what’s on the dinner plate other times it quite profound.

What about you? What are you grateful for today?

Posted in Life Notes | 11 Comments

eggs and gratitude

DSC07507I’m grateful for eggs, and more eggs. Speckled eggs and brown eggs, small eggs and big eggs. I am grateful that I have to wait some days because my chickens need time to rest and make new eggs. I grateful that I know what goes into my eggs and that what I feed my chickens also feeds me. And I’m grateful that they are always at room temperature!


Posted in Cooking and Food | 8 Comments

Lantern Walk

DSC07504 DSC07497 DSC07496 DSC07495This is the second year I have organized a lantern walk for Martinmas, which is on November 11th. Although we don’t identify with any particular religion, I do like this particular holiday for the message it brings. It reminds us to be kind to others no matter their station in life, to bring light to the darkness in people’s lives, and show true leadership.

We were joined again this year by a handful of lovely families. I told them the story of the Lantern Prince written by David of Sparkle Stories. This story is really beautiful because it has similarities to the traditional story of St. Martin but makes it accessible to all people as it is not religiously focused.

After the story we walked around the lake in a row with our lanterns lit. Then we ended the evening with warm baked goods and hot apple cider. The girls are already asking to do it again.

Posted in Life Notes | 8 Comments

In My Garden

DSC07487 DSC07484 DSC07483DSC07477DSC07482DSC07476DSC07481DSC07479DSC07478We were super busy this past weekend! With the help of a good friend (who also enlisted her husband to help) we expanded the garden another who-knows-how-many feet. Our motto seems to be “measure never, cut wherever.” I treat gardening and building much like I create art: I look at the space and then eyeball it. I’m sure this approach drives some people mad. But I digress…. The garden has three new, large beds approximately 4×10 feet. Our friends helped dig the beds and haul soil and fill up the beds and lay out the walking stones.

The picture above is from is a view from the  mini orchard. In the shadows is the third bed. These beds will get the most sun year round. I’ve already planted garlic there. Soon peas, carrots, beets and chard will go in. In the spring this is where I will plant potatoes and squashes. This space gets good afternoon shading so in the summer it won’t be too hot.

There is a lot of room for pots too. I might try to thrift a small horse trough and plant all the strawberries in it.

We also put up a small green house, and it’s green how funny is that?! Summer planting starts in late february to early March here and I want to get a head start on the peppers and tomatoes. One of my winter solstice activities this year will be to seed peppers and tomatoes.

There are a few things growing still, like tomatoes!! We haven’t had a freeze yet. Almost though. Tonight should be 35 degrees. There are so many tomatoes out there. I’m estimating at 15 pounds. There are still lots of peppers too. Flowers have been self-seeding everywhere. I’ll be doing a lot of covering of random areas tonight.

Remember awhile back when I showed you all that huge bed that’s on the side of the house next to the greywater tank? I threw some dandelion, nettle and other medicinal edible “weed” seeds in there and they are starting to sprout. We’ll see if they make it.

Posted in Garden | 2 Comments

In My Garden DSC07460 DSC07459 DSC07458 DSC07457 DSC07456 DSC07455 DSC07454 DSC07453 DSC07449 DSC07448The weather this year has really been different from all of the past six years that I have been gardening. We’ve seen cooler temperatures and way more rain. Instead of going a month without rain, we’ve had rain almost every ten days or so. And not just a sprinkle: long, soaking rains.

The end of October has my garden looking anything but sparse. The tomatoes are still coming in at around 1 pound a day. There are many chilies still ripening, green beans are coming in everyday, lemons are almost ripe too. I’ve planted garlic and seeded carrots and beets and chard in small amounts. When the first freeze comes I’ll rip out all those tomato plants and put in peas, lettuce, spinach, chard, kale, beets, carrots, and the remaining pound of garlic.

I’m trying bok choi for the first time, and I’m so excited. We have a weekly stir fry night and I figure it was time I stop paying the 2 dollars per head of baby bok choi when brassicas are so easy to grow.

In November we are going to tackle the garden expansion. I’m hoping to get another 200 square feet bringing the total garden space to over 600 sq ft. That will allow some wiggle room for crawling plants and attempted plant rotation and poly culture. We will also be adding a greenhouse, which I am so excited about as January is coming up before I know it and I must get things growing in seed trays by then.

I’m really curious to see what this next growing year will bring? Will it continue to be wet or will it dry up? Will the winter be colder than normal? Will we get snow?

Are your gardens put to bed now? Or are you just beginning to plant?

Posted in Garden | 12 Comments

Four Miles

IMG_2009 IMG_2010 IMG_2012 IMG_2036 IMG_2044 IMG_2049 IMG_2051 IMG_2016 IMG_2024 IMG_2027 IMG_2033We headed up the mountain with no other intention than to be outside as a family. S suggested we go to the top of the mountain and I said “sure”. Then D wondered if we could do the full loop and I thought sure it’s only three miles (or so I remembered). Well it was actually 4 miles and smidge more and S walked the whole way. She didn’t complain once or ask to stop other than to eat or drink water. I have to add that she did the whole thing in a skirt, tights and hiking shoes. She insisted she must be fashionable.

The top of the mountain is ablaze with color right now and we seem to have found the aspen and rocky mountain maple groves. I couldn’t be happier that the girls got to walk through falling leaves and pick up all their favorites.

I read an article once about getting your kids out and about and being able to go long distances. Honestly I can say the ticket is this:

  • Go out often, minimum once a week even if it’s just the park or a river walk
  • Let them pick their own clothes and bring extra for those oops moments. They learn better on their own about making the right clothing choices for the weather
  • Bring lots of food; more than you think you need
  • Bring lots of water
  • Leave expectations of timely hiking behind; go at their pace and they will go much farther

With the first 4 mile family hike under our belts I’m already dreaming of our backpacking days to come. :)

Posted in Life Notes, Natural Parenting | 7 Comments



This happened yesterday. I knew it was coming like all birthdays, but whoa 5 passed by so quickly! This darling girl asked only to have a family birthday with pumpkin pie instead of cake. She is currently holding a pumpkin cupcake (I couldn’t resist trying out a vintage recipe). I did make that pie but we’re eating it for breakfast today.

She spent most of the day playing with her best friend and sister, and I barely saw her. This was the only still moment where she sat down long enough to take a picture.

I’m trying to enjoy each year of her life as slowly as I can. I feel like I’ll blink and she’ll be twelve, and then traveling the world, and then having her own kids. Ack!

I have a feeling this sixth year is going to be so good. She has grown so much in the past year and we can have real conversations. She has her own interests and is developing new skills so quickly. I’m so happy I get to share this journey of learning and exploring with her.

Posted in Life Notes | 12 Comments

Leaves and Friends

DSC07444IMG_1944_1IMG_1964IMG_1984IMG_1945IMG_1958DSC07340DSC07439DSC07415 DSC07335This past week I took my first solo trip in 12 years. The last time I flew alone was when I returned from Italy after a year abroad. After that it was either travel with D, or with the girls, or all three.  This time I saved up the money to buy a single plane ticket and visit my very dear friend Lisa.

I don’t really think dear is the proper word to describe her. She is so much more than dear to me. She a such a beautiful person inside and out and a fabulous hostess. She made me feel at home from the moment I got into her car at the airport. She knows me well and totally gets me.

This trip was really relaxing because I went there with no other expectation than to talk to Lisa, wander her homestead, and walk through the woods with her kids. So I basically did all the stuff I would do at home, only at someone else’s house with someone else’s kids… and I didn’t have to do dishes or wipe butts. :)

My heart came home full of good conversation and my belly came home full of good food. And spring water! I’ve forgotten just how tasty clean water can be. Oh yes, and my carry-on was packed full of acorns and dried leaves. I had to pull the acorn bag out for security check because I had two pounds of acorns! I plan to make fall decorations of them.

Autumn in the smoky mountains is like a picture book: beautiful, slightly romantic, and magical.

Posted in Travels | 11 Comments

Easy Homemade Apple Cider

DSC07277Friday afternoon I plopped down on to the bed next to D and said, “I’ve just made apple cider from scratch for about a dollar. I’m never buying apple cider again.” He replies, “Knowledge is power, ignorance is expensive.” For years I’ve wanted to make apple cider every time I came home with two bushels of apples from the orchard, but alas I don’t have the money to shell out for a cider press or a juicer. So I thought, what would Carla Emery suggest? She knows how to do everything. Sure enough she said to make cider without a press you simply chop up the apples, put them in a food processor, process till you get a mushy pulp and then strain in a fine mesh sieve or cheese cloth. So I did just that. And guess what?! I made a pint of raw organic local apple cider for the cost of something like 60 cents. An 8oz bottle of local raw cider is $9.99 here.

I get that not everyone WANTS to do all these things from scratch but, people, knowledge is power! Just taking myself one more step outside of the commercial food system.

DSC07276To make a pint of apple cider:

  • Take 8 medium apples, chop them in big chunks.
  • Place the apples in your food processor or high power; blend and blend until it turns to a mush. About 30 secs.
  • Scoop the apple mush into a cheese cloth or nut milk bag and squeeze out the cider into a clean jar or bowl. Reserve the apple pulp for the chickens or compost.
  • Enjoy!

DSC07280I used some of the cider to make apple cider donuts! Next up I’ll try hard cider. At the suggestion of a friend who is an experienced brewer, I am going to try a small batch of hard cider.

Happy Monday!

Posted in Cooking and Food, homemade/handmade | 14 Comments

Chopping Wood and Mindfulness

DSC07275 DSC07272 DSC07271 DSC07270 DSC07267 DSC07266 DSC07263 DSC07262 DSC07261 DSC07257We went camping this weekend at 8,000 feet. It was cold and we loved every second of it. This time my friend C’s husband came along and gave us the same lesson in fire starting from scratch that he did back in June. This time I got to really work at making the fire starter and chopping wood. And he showed me just how to use a flint so now I can indeed start a fire without matches.

As C and I were out there hacking away at dead logs trying to own our strokes (easier said than done) I said to her, “this is real feminism! knowing how to start your own fire and keeping yourself warm in the cold.” Don’t get me wrong I am super happy I can vote and be out in the workforce if I want, but typing on a computer is nothing compared to the power of chopping firewood. At first I felt afraid of the machete we were using to slice thin chunks of wood off an old stump, but then I decided to own it and swing my arm like it really mattered. What a difference that made. Suddenly the wood was slicing off like pieces of cheese. Then it made me think what if I went through life really owning all my actions. I suppose that is the root of mindfulness isn’t it?

I came home with a sore right arm, but it was good sore.

When I wasn’t chopping up kindling, I was out looking closely at the ground taking pictures of all the lovely things leftover from the summer: flowers, mushrooms, and fuzzy leafed plants. I put my phone away for the whole of the weekend and it was a good thing as I lived those two days with just the sun to tell time. I think we could all do with that sometimes.

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Posted in Life Notes, Travels | 1 Comment