Old Becomes New

A few years back I shared with you my love of all things old:  books, clothes, music and furniture.  I love that in nourishing vintage items, we can breath life into them and make the old become new.

My husband’s grandmother recently got some new digs, and she was unable to fit all of her furniture in her new place.  I was thrilled when she asked if I could use them for something.  Yes, please.

It’s amazing what a bit of paint and some clearance fabric can do!  The only downside of this project is that now I have the itch…and I want to do oh so much more 🙂

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I Stand at the Ready

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Thoughts from yesterday:

I am sitting outside of my northern Illinois home, in a tank top and shorts. Sweat trickles down my back and my hands ache from the garden work I have done. It is just 11:30 am. In February.

While working in my garden, many thoughts swirl through my mind. Why am I able to work in my garden right now? Why is the sun so warm upon my skin as I sit here on my deck, less than one week post-Valentine’s day? Why are there already green lilies breaking the surface of the soil in my garden beds? Why are their insects crawling and flying about? Am I terrified by this extreme weather streak in February?

The answer to that last question is, yes. There was record-breaking snow on the East coast this week, torrential rain in the West, and balmy weather in the northern Midwest. A definite climate shift is upon us.

Now, the way I see it, I have two choices: Option one is that I can allow myself to become paralyzed with the fear of what is to come. I can fear for the future of my children, and allow that anxiety to cripple me into inaction. Option two:  I can use the gifts God has given me and leap into action. I can strap on my garden boots and stand at the ready to teacher my own children, and others, the skills they need to grow their own food in a world of changing environmental factors. I can help them to see these changes with optimistic eyes, not ones clouded with fear. I can equip them in the ways they can help themselves in times of trouble, and also how to reach out and use their talents to help others in need.

Recently, I have found myself looking to St. Francis of Assisi for wisdom and motivation to help guide me on my journey. Today I came upon this passage, and I believe it will become motto in days to come:

Lord, help me live this day, quietly, easily. To lean upon Thy great strength, trustfully, restfully. To wait for the unfolding of Thy will, patiently, serenely. To meet others, peacefully, joyously. To face tomorrow, confidently, courageously.

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The Apothecary

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About a year ago, my husband bought me this fabulous piece of furniture for a late birthday present.  I had been eyeing it for a couple years at a great local shop, and I knew exactly what I would use it for if ever I was lucky enough to take it home with me.  So, when it finally made its way across the threshold and in the confines of my house, I immediately went to work at crafting my vision: my very own apothecary cabinet.

Since establishing my apothecary cabinet in my kitchen, I have experimented with a slew of tonics, tinctures, and the like.  One of my most recent favorites is my “Homemade Refreshing Face Mask.”  This mask is made with bentonite clay, known for its healing and detoxifying properties.  To this clay, I add some invigorating organic non-alcohol witch hazel with aloe vera, and frankincense essential oil, which in my option is one of the best oils you can use on the regular.

So this weekend, pamper yourself with this treat 🙂

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Homemade Refreshing Face Mask

In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons bentonite clay, 1 drop Frankincense, and enough witch hazel to form a paste.  Mix slowly until a paste forms.  With your fingers, smooth the clay over your face, being sure to avoid your eyes.  Allow the mask to rest on your face for 5-8 minutes.  Wash off with warm water.

 

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Herbal Energy Balls

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A few years ago, while attending the Mother Earth News Fair, I was lucky enough to attend a seminar led by herbal guru Rosemary Gladstar (I chronicaled our trip here.)  She was such a wonderful speaker:  so brilliant in her knowledge of adaptogenic herbs, but also incredibly entertaining and funny.  My favorite part of her presentation was when she was speaking of the incredible health benefits of ashwagandha root and hawthorne berry.  She said, “If you love your spouse and want to share many, many years with him/her, be sure you both consume ashwagandha and hawthorne berry daily.  If you don’t, save it all for yourself.” (!)

Ms. Gladstar discussed many different ways of consuming adaptogentic herbs, but I was particularly drawn to her idea of “energy balls.”  I played around for some time with what combination, and which ratios of those ingredients, work best for our family.  Below is the recipe we have used in my family for about a year and a half now.

These herbal energy balls are great to have as a daily snack, or if you need to grab a quick bite on your way out the door in the morning.  I hope you enjoy!

Herbal Energy Balls

32 oz. organic peanut butter

32 oz. local honey

2 cups organic unsweetened coconut

2 cups organic chocolate chips (We like to use mini chocolate chips.)

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon gotu kola powder

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon rhodiola root powder

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon ashwagandha root powder

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon hawthorne berry powder

Mix the peanut butter and honey in a large bowl.  Then add the herbs and mix to the best of your ability.  (The mixture will grow very hard to stir.  Don’t worry, this will be resolved when you add the warm coconut.)  Then toast the coconut in the oven until it is golden brown.  Add the warm coconut to the peanut butter/honey/herb mixture.  Mix thoroughly.  Add the chocolate chips and stir until combined.  Roll into one inch diameter balls and store in the refrigerator until consumption.  These will last in the refrigerator for several weeks.  Enjoy!

*Note:  I order all my herbs through Mountain Rose Herbs.

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From Dawn to Dusk

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One of my favorite times of the year arrived this week!  In the wee hours of Monday morning, we began pouring over our 2017 seed catalog (We order our seeds and transplants from The Seed Savers Exchange, based in Iowa.) and envisioning what it is we want our garden to look like this year.  Now that the girls are older, they too have taken on an added interest in this task and our day was filled with talk of which herbs would grow best inside their cinder block garden boarder, and whether or not we want to skip growing cucumbers again this summer.  (My girls no longer eat pickles.  Say what?!?)

We normally peruse the seed catalogs in February because this seems to be an especially difficult month to get through for us.  So dark.  So very cold.  This year, however, proved to be a bit strange in that this particular February day was unseasonably balmy.  So, we packed up our seed-browsing-paraphenalia and headed to the backyard.  There we started a nice fire and continued our quest for garden goodness outdoors, well into the evening.  Such an incredibly nice treat.

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Seasons

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Friends, I know this space has been deafeningly quiet of late, and I feel I am finally able to share the reason behind this silence.  For some time now, I had been experiencing a weightless free fall from which I was unable to land.  I have battled within the grips of anxiety for many years, but my mom’s sudden death opened up a hole in my life that has been a bottomless abyss through which I have been falling for some time. A few months ago I finally reached the bottom, and like a perennial plant, I remained dormant there for a season.

After this latency, I worked to push my roots through the hard clay soil, attempting to anchor myself.  Since then, I have been clawing my way out of this pit and I can now say,  I have returned to level ground and can feel the soft rays of sunshine upon my skin.

I am now prepared to begin the real journey, where I will work hard to spread my branches and stand tall, so I can then feel the full radiance of the sun upon my face.  Won’t you please join hands with me and come along into this season of new birth?

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A Subtle Shift

It seems that at each turn of the season I feel the need to start anew.  I think this has become even more of a necessity now that I stay home and homeschool my girls.  Because our home is where we work, play and educate, there is a more constant need to refresh, even if it is just a subtle shift.

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As a means of bridging our transition between summer and fall, the girls and I have been trying to bring in fresh flowers each day from our garden.  It is a true blessing to have this beautiful, natural color in our sights as the mercury begins to dip.

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A quick family room face lift has also helped usher in this new season.  It’s amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do to change the entire mood of a room.

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As I mentioned a few weeks back, we have an abundance of home-grown pumpkins, so those gorgeous orbs are finding their way into many indoor and outdoor arrangements, as well as into many new recipes.

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Our reading material has also been refreshed.  With a little help from Ms. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has whisked our whole family away to a magical land each evening.

And after the girls are asleep, Glennon Doyle Melton’s Love Warrior fills my heart in a way no other book has.  As I wrote about here, when my mom was ill, her book Carry On, Warrior shone a light on my experience that helped me through those most difficult, excruciating months of my life.  But I believe her new novel, although raw and often emotionally difficult to get through, is giving me the tools I need to make it through the next fifty years of my life by imparting me with a whole new outlook on life, love, truth-telling and grace.

I hope each of you feels refreshed as you enter this new season, ready to embark upon many new fall adventures.

 

 

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