Just Plain Living…

Stories from our gentle Home…

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.

Here are the pictures…Fall Begins 121Fall Begins 123

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

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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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Herbs galore…I love this room.Elderberry Syrup 016

 

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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):

Elderberry Syrup 072Add the honey and stir…and you should be left with this:

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..

 

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!).

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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/

 

It’s Difficult to Leave Hibernation When… April 8, 2009

Snow resting in the early Dogwood blooms

Snow resting in the early Dogwood blooms

It is hard to believe that it could possibly be snowing. Just Monday, it was in the 70’s-sunny and warm. It felt like spring was finally here. Prior to that, it kept teasing us…cold one day, warm the next. However, yesterday the cold came back…and it started snowing and snowing. We were surprised to see it still snowing this morning when we awoke. At times it was really coming down and we knew it was going to be one of those hibernating type days. Just when I was trying to kick that habit…! My body totally follows the rhythm of the seasons and it was finally convinced that spring has sprung…time to stop sleeping in…staying up late…you know. Well…how quickly I have fallen back into the deep sleep…last night my blog entry posted at 3:30am. Yeah…I was not feeling too good this morning…and well…hmmm…it us currently 1:20 and the end is not in sight. Sometimes I wish I could really honor my mind and body and just completely listen to what it wants…sleep…wake up…eat…run…play…whatever it felt like…whenever it wanted regardless of time… I think it would not be possible..as Plain & Simple as I am, I am way tainted by the world I live in-at least in that sense. Trust me…I’d rather it not be that way…but I think I’d need some of that ZIP (as mentioned in the NY Times newspaper on Monday) that makes the brain forget specific things…by blocking a learned memory. Then again, there is that thing about how it has only been tested on lab rats….hmmm. Or, I might just decide to focus a bit less on time…yeah, that sounds more appealing.

Moving on…time is ticking, you know.

So, we decided to do give in to the hibernating and bake bread, make soup and generally veg.

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Yummy. Kale, potatoes, carrots, corn, lotsa garlic, onion and some slow-cookin brown rice.

And…bread from scratch…we opted for the recipe in Taige’s nature based learning guide for the week…it had an Easter theme and sounded fun to make. Haley took charge of it and did a great job. It called for dyed eggs but, since our chickie-poos only lay brown eggs, that is all we had. Brown eggs don’t dye well!

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Well, I did have to help “weave it”…

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That bread recipe is nice…but, like most artisan breads, it is a long (many hours) process…mix, knead, rise, punch down, rise, etc…Look at how cute and spotty the eggs turned when we cooked them…thanks chickens…

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And our sprouting Easter grass is growing so fast, if you watch it you can almost see it get taller…

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‘Twill make good wheatgrass shots once Easter is over!

Going back to hibernation now…we’ll see what tomorrow brings…

 

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By-Product Creation… April 7, 2009

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My dear son, Riley has been working on this project for about a week now, off and on. I try not to push crafty time on my kids…I always want them to go to it because they want to…not because they are forced. In our homeschooling  history syllabus, Riley had a lesson on the Civil War era (I do get quite exhausted doing history with the kids…it is so much fighting…I love the way our curriculum approaches it though!) and one aspect of it focused on sewing/quilting. Well…he first chose to sew a dream pillow and then he chose to go for a bigger challenge…designing and sewing a quiver for his arrows. So, we purchased some scrap leather from our favorite supply store… and after letting it sit for about a week, we decided to figure out how to do it.

First, he decided to have the suede side face out. Then, he determined the shape…cut it out…and made a mark where he wanted the holes to go. Then, with a stitching awl and a hammer, he “punched” the holes. Next, we decided upon using book binding thread, (mostly because we had it at home-and leather would have been a real challenge to “sew” with) which is waxed linen thread-strong and durable. I have hand-bound several books and love the ease of using this thread.  I helped him to get the thread on the curved bookbinding needle (perfect for leather work-who would have known?), pick a “stitch” and he took it from there. We had a fun time…sitting on the Plain kitchen floor…laughing…talking and randomly picking up the camera to take pictures…actually…Riley had a little too much fun taking photos of me…I am a bit sleep deprived today and he took advantage of it…NO, I am not posting those photos…I was just TOO silly…I wonder how I learned to make all of those terrible expressions!? Ok…anyway…here are the photos of the quiver…april62009-037april62009-030april62009-043

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For the strap, I purchased two pair of leather shoe laces and used three single laces in a braid. I measured Riley and we knotted the straps where he liked and stuck one end through the bottom (inbetween stitches) and the other end in through the top flap that is folded down-we just punched a bigger hole. All in all it looks great and he did an awesome job. GO Riley! If I gave grades…surely he would receive an A+++!

 

I am going to bed now…

 

Just Plain Interesting… March 25, 2009

If there is one thing that gets me excited it is the idea of a self-sustaining way of life. Some call it permaculture, some call it homesteading, hobby farm, or off-the-grid. No matter what you choose to refer to it as, it is my belief that it is how humans were meant to live. Of course it is much easier to imagine a certain type of person living like this than it is to imagine a mainstream person…but…I believe it is possible for anyone. The key is stepping out of the “box” (I really dislike that phrase)…or, changing your perspective! Our way of life keeps us moving…and we do not have much time to stop and really question what the hell it is that we are all doing. We are programmed to keep on our routines-however mundane and unfulfilling  they are. We just keep plugging along forgetting to ever question anything. And then, we wonder why we feel bad or unhappy or whatever! I am choosing to step back from it all and make a change!

Over the past two years, I have had a strong feeling of change come over me. I have really started questioning why it is that so many humans are numb to what is happening in our world(I was numb to this as well!)…why are we teaching our youth to repeat the same patterns we have followed…what us the purpose of all of the running around and activity? Can’t we nurture our spirits and teach our children to do the same?  Can’t we just s-l-o-w down!? So far, the two biggest steps I have taken towards a more simple life are: 1) Taking my kids out of school (breaking the cycle of chaos that goes along with the school routine) and 2) Getting rid of our TV (well, ok…we still have one to watch the occasional movie). As the results of these decisions have begun to show themselves,   I seem to have more and more clarity. I want to live out of the mainstream world on a self-sustaining chunk of land with my husband and three kids! The only catch is figuring out how to do this and still have an income! We are working on it…

Currently, we live in a regular home in a regular neighborhood. We are consistently learning about and making alternative choices in our daily lives. Our desire is to move our family to a location with some land and live off-the-grid. Now, I mentioned the past two years above because we have been looking at several options to achieve this dream of ours. Many scenarios have presented themselves and many have been very tempting. However, nothing has felt quite right so far.  Two things happened today that are curious to me and I must make note of them. The first is that we went to look at this house that was just listed for sale by owner last Wednesday. It was in our local uber-liberal paper, the Mountain Express. The listing mentioned every single thing that we are looking for in our quest to become self-sustaining(except the income!). So, we called and finally went to look at it today.  You look now.

Needless to say it is everything we want and more.   The kids were even excited at the thought of it!  So, if we can “play the game” a bit longer, we know that this is ultimately what we desire. Even if this particular home does not work out for us (there is that thing about still needing to finish up our home so we can put it on the market and sell it…), the idea truly “sang” to all of us. Last week, our middle child (who is 10) had an entire science lesson devoted to sustainability-focusing particularly on “green” building. After researching many types of homes with many options, the home that he ultimately designed was very similar to this one. I think the only difference was that he had the solar panels heating the water and had radiant floor heating as well. Hmmm…might be a nice addition! I believe seeing first hand (not just in a dream…or on paper) what we want (in this farm we looked at today) is great inspiration and motivation.

And, the second curious thing that happened is that I did a google search with my blog’s name as search words(why, I am unsure…possibly so I could arrive just where I did): Just Plain Living. Well, there was a lot to weed through but it was so worth it when I stumbled upon this. This is what Just Plain Living is to  me…and I love how it ties into our little adventure today. Now go say your mantra…or sing it!