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.

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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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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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Embrace the LIGHT! April 5, 2009

With rain, rain and more rain this week…I am feeling super grateful that the sun is shining brightly through the windows of our Just Plain home this morning. When I let the dog out the door, I had to just stand there in the light for a moment and embrace it. Ahhh. It is so refreshing. We have plans to get out into it as soon as we are all fully awake and thinking more clearly. Yes…we just woke up a bit ago. For some reason each year at this same time, we get on this habit of staying up way too late and sleeping in just the same. It is so dark at 7 in the morning and just barely light at 8 so, it just feels more natural to sleep…and enjoy the daylight hours that are now into the evening. Our winter time hibernation is clearly coming to an end though…as new  blossoms are emerging each day and letting us know spring is here! I think the sleeping in is one last attempt to drag the hibernation out a bit. Next week, we will go back to more “normal” (yeah, I used the ‘N’ word…whatever it means) hours.

Despite the presence of the rain this week, we still managed to stay busy (remember busy for us is different than hustle and bustle busy). The theme for the week for Taige’s nature based learning guide was “Plants and Growing”. It was great fun to jump into this! We started the week with a watercolor painting session…

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We are still loving our new Stockmar watercolor paints. We used all three colors this week again and were able to create this lovely scene of a flower. We had talked about what a seed needs in order to grow just prior to painting so we made sure to include those things in the photo. Sunlight, nutrients from the soil and water. Well…you just have to imagine the water….and the soil…well, it’s under the grass. Taige’s painting is on the left and mine on the right. I led the painting this week since we used all three colors again and had an image we wanted to create. Yellow went on first…for the sun. Then, it went all over the bottom with little blades sticking up as well as a stem and any leaves. Next came blue…for the sky first…all over the top half…careful not to touch the sun…as she likes to stay yellow…not green. Next, blue decided to play with the yellow on the bottom half to make our grass…green. Then, we went to red…but the tiniest amount ever…we could hardly see it…had to squint! And we then barely touched blue in the sky where we wanted our flower(s) to go…and Viola! Purple! And the damp paper (we did wet-on-wet watercolor) took the purple and let it run. It is so beautiful to watch. We often become captivated. After purple was finished playing, we dried our paintbrushes and made an outline for the flower-at Taige’s request. Not something I would normally do…the idea is to let the colors  blend and run and play. But, outline he wanted and outline he got. I did help a bit with the outline…and I used a wet paintbrush for mine…(on the right) and the water wanted to play with the blue. It was fun and I enjoyed the peaceful painting time with Taige…

Once they dried…the next day, we added the “seeds” with glue…and the “roots” (hemp) and we each picked the verse that we liked the best from the week. Both of these are actually fingerplays and are really cute when acted out. Here are the finished pieces…

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In keeping with the theme for the week…and with Easter coming up…although celebrated quite alternatively in our home…we decided to sprout easter grass in our baskets! We went to the Co-Op  and purchased some winter wheat berries and then made a stop at Home Depot for a bag of potting soil. We made a stop out back of our house…at our shed…and dug for the box labeled “Easter”.  We gathered all of our supplies and set up in the front yard-during the only point of the day that it was not raining…and began! We lined the baskets with a plastic grocery bag…then, added some soil…then, the seeds. Since we are sprouting them, there is no need to cover the seeds with soil…but, they do  need to be kept in a warm environment. So, we set up our grow lights…which needed to be set up anyway for the garden seedlings and covered each basket with plastic wrap (creating the greenhouse effect). They are still there as I type and have already sprouted! It took less than 24 hours! I did soak the seeds in water for 24 hours prior to planting them to “help” them on their way.  Here is the process in photos…

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And, last but not least…

Remember the beeswax sheets we bought last week? Well, even though this did not totally tie into our theme for the week…it was great fun and served as our modeling day. We typically have one day of modeling a week…either playdough…or pure beeswax. So late in the week, here is the modeling that we did…april-2009-060

Heat with the hairdryer…insert wick…roll, roll… roll, roll…heat, connect another piece…roll, roll…heat to seal! Then, with the modeling beeswax, I created this embellishment for one of the candles…

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This is the modeling beeswax I use. It is heavenly and can be shaped into anything. You just have to work it a bit to get it to soften.  april-2009-068

 These are the finished candles. I generally wrap the exterior with the paper that the sheets come on just to protect the candles. They pick up dust and can easily be dented if left unwrapped. They smell so great and are so easy to make. Taige mentioned that he wants to sell them when we set up our Etsy shop. I have been meaning to do that for a while now but just have not had the time. Soon maybe! april-2009-066

 We had a great week…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!