Just Plain Living…

Stories from our gentle Home…

Michaelmas in our Waldorf Home October 10, 2009

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For our family Michaelmas is a season. We celebrate many festivals throughout the year in our home but when we celebrate Michaelmas, it signals the beginning of the time when we look within ourselves more deeply, the time when the darkness of winter sets in. St. Michael is the patron saint of the sea and maritime lands, of ships and boatmen. St. Michael’s story can be complicated and is not easily understood by younger children. We are not a Christian family so reading about St. Michael from that perspective is not the way we choose to celebrate this time. Instead, we briefly talk about that story and regard Michael as “Michael the Victorious” and still use his name to learn and celebrate as many Waldorf  (Rudolf Steiner) followers do.

This year we took the entire week to focus on the story of St. George and the Dragon. This story goes nicely with this week  because it also has the good versus evil theme.  St. George who is good, fights the dragon who is evil.  In her book, “A Journey Through Waldorf Homeschooling (Kindergarten)”, Melisa Nielsen says that this festival has great significance especially for young children still battling their inner will. The battle of good versus evil is one they know well! She also says that older children also often see the battle (from the book), mirroring battles that could be going on around them and their “need” as children to try to understand it all.

We read, drew, baked dragon bread, reinacted the story and had a fun time. Here are the photos, please refer to my bread making entry for a great bread recipe that can be used to bake the dragon bread. Just shape it like a dragon and bake it until it appears done!

 

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Kissing Summer Goodbye… September 24, 2009

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Long Days. Warmth. Light.  It is fading fast. Although the fall has already begun, it still feels a bit like summer. Underneath it though, I feel the strong pull of the darkness. The time to go to the light within. IT is calling in a whisper as it does this time of year. IT is giving cooler nights and wind in the trees. IT is signaling to the animals to prepare…and IT is just beginning to paint the trees. On my silent walk this morning, IT told me to give my kids one more day out in the water…one more day at the lake before the kiss goodbye.  

Reluctantly, I gave in. You see, once we actually start back to school, I get in a pretty solid rhythm. This is a part of every fall for our family-even though we school at home. Not that we ever really get too busy…but, the lazy days of summer slowly transition to the productive days of the fall. When watching the animals, you can see them do this as well. They are so busy-and full of intention, preparing for the season of cold. It is really beautiful to watch. To imitate. And we all imitate it…whether or not we are aware of it…or present for it.

What I love the most is how summer flows…we are busy when it begins, finishing up school, etc…and then we get into this wonderful S-L-O-W groove…then, almost without even noticing, the Harvest time arrives. This creates a smooth transition for us.  We are busy with the Harvest and do not have all of the time-like in mid-summer-to really notice the change. And then Viola! Summer is just a memory. No time to mourn the loss. It is just gone and we must move forward.  

So I am writing in praise of the gift that the summer gave to us this year…and it is the last kiss goodbye to the warmth….we are so blessed…

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I love this…it is from

A Child’s Seasonal Treasury

by Betty Jones:

Brother Wind howls, blowing the leaves from the trees. Father Sun’s warmth and light are subsiding. The world appears to be slipping into the cold promise of winter, and all prepare for the darkness that enfolds the world.  Yet inside each of us sparks the light and warmth of the human spirit. We kindle our light within as winter approaches.

 

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A Waldorf Transition to Fall September 23, 2009

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           Today marks the beginning of Autumn. I went for a long long walk this morning and made several observations  in nature that reflect this beginning. One thing I noticed more than anything else…the Milkweed is releasing her “seed babies”-as I call them. They were flying through the air having a grand time today as I walked up and down the mountains. “Weeeee!” they say as they float along, searching for a place to settle down for the season of rest. Of course with the  turning of the season I had to pull out one of my favorite books to read to Taige…

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The Story of the Root Children by Sibylle Von Olfers,(a beautiful German author, artist and Nun who lived her life long ago). The story is pure and the illustrations are lovely. I have collected all of her books and truly love them.  They are available here.

Along with reading this beautiful story, I made some changes to our nature table. Last year, I made (needle felted) the fall version of Mother Nature. She always reigns over our nature table (and in the winter when she is resting, King Winter and Mrs. Thaw take her place). I have a different version of her for each season. For fall, she is in warm colors and has a harvest basket in hand (and she has dreads…don’t know what that is about, must have been my mood!).

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The entire nature table was cleaned and resituated to reflect this time of year. I have made several needle felted pumpkins as have added some beautiful gourds that were found in a friend’s garden a few weeks ago. I spotted some Chinese Lantern flowers on a walk last week and they are in a corner of the table drying.  Pine cones and acorns, seed pods and fall leaves all now adorn our table.

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I lit some candles and we had a few moments of singing verses and bidding summer goodbye…My home felt pretty (it told me so) and I decided to capture a few photos…

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I have memorized this verse (for our morning reverence) for this week it is a beauty…

Yellow the bracken

Golden the sheaves

Rosy the apples

Crimson the leaves

Mist on the hillside

Clouds grey and white

Autumn Good Morning

Summer Good Night!

And, here is a lovely little finger play from the book A Child’s Seasonal Treasury:

Autumn Leaves

The trees are saying, “Goodbye” to their leaves (stretch out arms and wave goodbye)

As they flutter and float and fly in the breeze (flutter fingers)

All golden, orange, and red, they sink softly off to bed. (Slowly bring fluttering fingers down to floor)

On Mother Earth’s breast rests each leafy head.  (Make sleeping gesture with palms together; give a big, restful sigh).

 

Farewell Summer…until next year.

 

Elderberry Syrup September 19, 2009

Some people run straight to the doctor when feeling ill. I run into the forest. Gather. Return home.  Make magic.  Today was filled with Kitchen Witchery. Me, in the kitchen…preparing medicine for the winter. It just so happens that Taige was not feeling so well today…at all this week for that matter. I decided upon Elderberry Syrup because it is so yummy and my kids take it easily. This tree has been called “the medicine chest of the common people” because the flowers, leaves, berries, bark, and roots all have been used in traditional folk medicine for centuries. Elder flowers and berries are antiviral and immune-stimulating. There is also a lovely story about “Elda” in one of my herbals and my kids love to hear it over and over.

Our day in photos…as well as the directions for making Elderberry Syrup:

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Loading the dehydrator with another batch of applesauce…

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The first batch of applesauce fruit leathers turned out beautifully! These are pure…and my kids love them.

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My Herbal Formulas…(maybe a real book one day…)

 

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 This is my SUPER Immune Formula tincture…it is a vital part of the Elderberry Syrup…like most medicine-makers, I have odd jars of tinctures in dark corners of my home…this one is intense as it has a menstruum of Everclear. It will never go “bad”. I often gift this tincture to friends and family who are in need. Alone, it is an amazing immune booster both for prevention and in acute situations. I mix one ounce of this tincture in with my Elderberry Syrup for these reasons as well as to preserve the syrup.

Elderberry Syrup 018       For today since I was in need of Elder and I needed it right away, I made a stop at the FBFCElderberry Syrup 015  Ahhh, Elderberries

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Photos of ginger (both whole and then grated -yes…I made that bowl, and I love it…)

 

 

To make Elderberry Syrup, you will need these ingredients:

3 cups fresh Elderberries or 1 cup dried, 3 cups filtered water, 1 ounce of fresh grated ginger, 1 cup of local (to you) honey, the juice of 1 lime and 1 ounce of Echinacea tincture (ideally pick this up from a local herbalist…if not, Gaia Herbs makes a nice product).

Just simmer the Elderberries and ginger in the 3 cups of water until the liquid is reduced by half (an hour or so)…if you do not stir it while it is simmering, you will see the original water ring on the pot and can easily tell when it is halfway. Strain it well. Let it sit in the strainer over a glass bowl for a while, really working the juice out of the cooked berries. I have a wonderful strainer that is perfect for straining herbs…here it is:

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After you have the medicine out of the berries, compost them. Add the juice of 1 lime (you must strain this too):

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Elderberry Syrup 073 Let it cool completely and add the tincture. Stir well and sterilize a glass bottle (I do this in boiling water),  fill it with the syrup and refrigerate (it will keep for a year). Now, I sometimes sell this magic potion so I have a nifty label as well as a little herbal business ‘ApotheCareys’…so,  I label it and date it.  And it looks so beautiful and simple…

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The dosage is not tricky but, that you will have to look up. I am an herbalist…not a doctor…and I do not prescribe! 

And last but definitely not least…my Spiritual Syllabus books came today. These go along with Kindergarten and they are just amazing. Lono and Coco Boato is the autumn book and we will begin on Monday!

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Now, if I can just get Taige feeling better..

 

Preserving the Harvest September 17, 2009

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    The Harvest is here! I can not  believe the Earth  is already beginning the tilt into the Fall. Summer has flown by and I have been a bit lazy with my blogging habits. This is because summer is the time for discovering  beauty and awe in each other, in ourselves, and in the fascinating world around us….no time to blog!  As the sun wraps its warm arms about us, we celebrate with a delightful combination of revelry and reverence for all that is, for all that we are (thanks to Jubilee! for that). We have mad many amazing moments of wonder in the past few months and I send out gratitude from my heart for the memories. With Mabon approaching on the 22nd, I feel it necessary to post about storing up for the winter. When I stop and stare out the window, or when I am sitting in the woods…JUST watching…(sometimes for a bit too long!), I am starting to see that nature is getting ready too. Mother Earth is silently calling, signaling for us to get ready, winter is coming. Well, I love winter. It is my favorite season…so naturally, I hear her call and am working diligently to preserve the harvest to ensure plenty of hibernating time in the midst of winter. OK, I am starting to dream of winter a bit too much now…it will be here soon enough I suppose.  Must get through fall first.

Last week we went apple picking. We picked a bushel and a half…roughly 60 pounds of apples. I had planned to preserve all of them in different ways. We made and canned applesauce, apple pie filling , apple butter and dried as many slices as would fit in the dehydrator.  The aroma in the house is amazing right now. Here are some of the highlights:

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And the tree was happy.

 

The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard August 19, 2009

On the idea of simple living and WAY beyond…I must share this! I could go on and on and on and on about the genius behind this movie…but instead you watch and decide for yourself. Enough said. I am feeling so grateful to have this sent to me (by my Mom!) and it falls in perfectly with what Haley (our oldest) is learning in this week’s lesson of homeschool history: “The Information Age” (specifically the parts on advertising and TV watching!).

more about “The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard“, posted with vodpod

 

 

Here is a link to all of the copyright information (Even this is genius!):

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/

 

Lavender Lemonade July 4, 2009

Yum. Lavender. Lavandula Angustifolia. It is one of my favorite plants. Not just because of it’s beauty or scent…but because it is one of those herbs that works for almost everything.  Did you know that in WWI,  the essential oil was used to disinfect the floors and walls of the hospitals!?  It is also anti-inflammatory and antiseptic. In our home, lavender is good for any boo-boo or bad mood, bug bite or bath soak…but it doesn’t stop there. At the height of summer, there is nothing more refreshing than an ice cold glass of Lavender Lemonade.  In years past (before my big kids got so big), we had an old window-you know…one with really beautiful glass and chipping (lead) paint…I painted the reverse side of the glass with the words “Lavender Lemonade” and that was their “sign”-for the lemonade stand. They would set up at the end of the driveway and would sell out within an hour or two. Yesterday, the kids and I made a batch and it reminded me that I should share this recipe…it is just too delicious to keep to myself!

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Lavender Lemonade

Ingredients:

Lots of lemons (20 or 25)

Lots of Sugar (get a big bag)

Lavender Flowers (2-3T)

Good clean water

First, you will make the “concentrate”. Do this by putting a half gallon of filtered water to boil. Remove it from the heat and add 2-3 tablespoons of Lavender flowers (I like dried). Put the lid on the pan and let it sit for 20 minutes. Next, juice the lemons until you have about a liter of lemon juice…(this takes a lot of lemons-probably 20!).  Then, strain the lavender flowers out of the water and compost them. Combine the lavender water and lemon juice (this is your concentrate). Now…from here it is all about your taste preference…how tart do you like it…how sweet do you like it?  I like to add the sugar (because I only use real sugar-that other stuff will kill you!) when it is still warm…so, go ahead and add…but…do it a little bit at a time…and remember, you still have to add water to the mix. What I do is get out my 2 quart pitcher, fill it about halfway with the concentrate…then add about a half a cup of sugar…fill it up with water…stir well and taste. If it is not sweet enough, I add more sugar…or if it is not strong enough, I add a bit more concentrate. You must decide for yourself! I store the rest of the concentrate in the fridge until I am ready to mix it. Whatever way you do it…be sure to have fun…!

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