10 Years

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This year marked a pretty big milestone in the Fagan house.  This Thanksgiving was our tenth year hosting our favorite of all holidays.  We love Thanksgiving because it is a time to truly appreciate family, without the distraction of gifts and other commercial nonsense, and to simply feast upon Rumi’s words to “today, let us swim wildly, joyously in gratitude.”

This year I tried to fully embrace these words, because even though the people who physically sit around our table have changed drastically these last few years, there is still so much for which our hearts can be thankful.  It can be so easy to focus on Loss and fall into his grip because it often feels as if he is just waiting there at the ready to close his fingers around us.  But instead, this year I chose to reflect upon all the joy that has filled our dining room over the course of the past ten years.  Change and loss are definite parts of life, but on this day of thanksgiving, I chose to allow myself to be filled with joy, and love, and gratitude.  For it is all about perspective isn’t it?  Choosing a positive lens through which to look at the world can be so powerful and life changing.

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More Than a Party

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A few months ago, while nestled in my bed reading an issue of my favorite magazine, Taproot, I happened upon a lovely little piece written by Amanda Riley about a gathering called a “Swap Party.”  The concept and spirit behind this type of affair really intrigued me and I knew that I someday wanted to host such an event.  I mentioned the idea to my neighbor, Sarah, who was not only on-board to co-host this swap, but she seemed to be just as passionate as I was about how amazing such a function could be.

This past weekend, we held this get-together celebrating all things handmade and homegrown, while also honoring community.  Most women at our gathering had never met prior to this evening, but there was so much magic around the table as this community of makers each showcased her unique strengths and talents.

It seems the news and social media are just exploding lately with all the ways we are different.  Separate.  But what about all those entities that bind us?  Crafting and cooking, yes.  But, those heart felt discussions sharing our experiences of love and loss as well.  Today, let us focus on those things that unify.  It is so much more liberating to search for ways to build the bridges of community than to find ways of destroying them.

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Brassicas: My Beloveds

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A few months back I shared my love of cabbage with all of you.  But maybe I wasn’t being specific enough, or not general enough, depending upon how you look at it.  In actuality I harbor a secret love for all brassicas.  Cabbage, kale, collards, cauliflower. I adore all of them.

So, you can imagine my thrill when I found //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=qf_sp_asin_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=makofahom-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1607745712&asins=1607745712&linkId=82bdfd62229e8cf86f4ef4e04b84e03c&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Brassicas: Cooking the World’s Healthiest Vegetables at the library last week.  I was immediately smitten, and for good reason:  an entire book, all about my favorite genus of veggies!

This week our kitchen has been brimming (albeit a bit stinky) with so many fabulous dishes featuring these amazingly healthy, nourishing plants.

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Create

String Art

I have been thinking deeply lately about the notion of creating.  In a world of increasing destruction and devastation, the simple act of creating something, creating anything really, is cathartic.

At our homeschool co-op I teach a writing and an art class.  Looking upon my students yesterday while they wrote, while they constructed, while they created, I was reminded of the deep power that lies within creation.  Bringing something to life that did not exist before is profoundly powerful.  Whether you decide to sit down and color in a coloring book with your toddler, doodle a poem on a cocktail napkin, or intricately knit a quilt, the act of creating holds great magnitude.  I truly believe that in creating we help to spread a bit of positive energy and love into the world.  And honestly, I think we could use a bit of both right now.

So, this weekend I encourage you to create.  Whether it is a gourmet meal for your family, or a cute little stick figure on the back of your grocery list…create something.  Create anything.  Use this as a chance to shrug off just a bit of the negativity that often weighs heavily upon our shoulders.  Create.  Release.  Repeat.

Happy weekend, friends.

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The Equinox

fullsizeoutput_c72fullsizeoutput_c70fullsizeoutput_c73fullsizeoutput_c74IMG_6612IMG_4884IMG_6291IMG_6290IMG_4885fullsizeoutput_c71As I grow older, I feel my connection with Earth and her rhythms strengthening.   Becoming more intertwined.  When I first began gardening in my late twenties, I found that cord of connection beginning to weave and form itself, as the growing and providing of food for my family from our garden space was dependent upon the cycles of the seasons, weather, and so on.

But as I near my forties (I can’t believe I just typed those words!), I find the strength of that cord widening, becoming more tethered to my inner-self.  This connection became very apparent to me on Friday, the autumnal equinox.  On this day of equal light and dark, I could feel a sense of profound balance that I have never experienced before.  It seemed that on this day, I was able to face negative elements with the positive.  I was able to keep my head up and keep my eyes on my daily intentions.  And I was able to fully engage my girls in this special day that only comes around twice a year.

In addition to our daily school tasks on Friday, my girls and I set out to fully embrace our day with time spent in the garden, bringing some new art pieces to life, and celebrating with neighbors.

I hope on this Monday you are able to find a snippet of balance in this world that often seems to be spinning a bit out of control.  Have a wonderful week, friends!

 

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Makin’ Kraut

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I love cabbage in an obsessive, kind-of-creepy way.  I adore it raw in salads, sautéed in butter, and cooked down alongside a big ole’ roast in a low and slow oven.  But perhaps my favorite way to enjoy this curciferous comestible is in its fermented form as sauerkraut.

I have been starry-eyed about kraut my entire life.  In elementary school, I was the kid ordering ruebens with extra sauerkraut.  In high school, I could be found asking for sauerkraut as a pizza topping.  And when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, sauerkraut was one of the few foods I could eat while battling morning sickness.

Beginning to make sauerkraut at home has only increased my passion for this food.  The taste and texture of home-fermented kraut is unmatched, and the nutritional value is even more unfathomable.  Loaded with literally millions of healthy bacteria, homemade sauerkraut is one of the healthiest foods you can consume.  And, one of the easiest to make.

Here’s how we do our kraut:

Step 1:  Thinly chop up a head of cabbage (green or red).

Step 2:  Spread a layer of chopped cabbage in the bottom of a glass jar or crock, sprinkle with some salt, and bash away at it with a wooden spoon.  (This will break down the membranes of the cabbage, allow the salt in, and pull water out.)

Step 3:  Continue the layering process (cabbage, salt, bash) until you have used all your cabbage and there is enough water to cover the cabbage leaves.  (You may need to add a bit of unchlorinated water.)

Step 4:  Use a plate or glass to weight down the cabbage so that every tiny piece is submerged beneath the surface of the water.  (This is very important because any cabbage leaves exposed to oxygen will grow mold.)

Step 5:  Allow to sit on your counter or in your basement.

Step 6:  Check on your kraut every couple of days until it reaches the tartness and funkiness of your liking 🙂

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Lavender Rosemary Biscuits

Lavender Rosemary Biscuits

We Fagans LOVE us some biscuits! And the only thing better than a biscuit is when we can load it up with fresh garden goodness and therefore call it “healthy” 🙂  My girls and I loved how these lil’ dumplings turned out, and we hope you do as well.

Lavender Rosemary Biscuits

In a large bowl, mix together 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, 4 teaspoons baking powder and 1 teaspoon cream of tartar.  Next add 3 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary and 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lavender blossoms.

Then add 3/4 cup cold salted butter (cut into small cubes) to the flour mixture using a pastry cutter or fork.

Using your fingertips, mix 1 1/4 cups buttermilk into the mixture until just combined.  Turn out onto a floured board, roll until about 3/4 inch thick, and cut into rounds using a biscuit cutter or the top of a glass.

Place the rounds on an ungreased baking sheet and bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes (or until golden on top).

Enjoy!

*A note about all my recipes: I use all organic ingredients, local when available. I use non-homogenized milk, and all of the dairy we use is from animals raised on pasture. I also use oils that are non-GMO verified. All our meat is raised locally on organic feed, and our beef is grass-fed, grass-finished. All our spices and cane sugar are fair-trade certified and purchased through a cooperative.

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Recharge

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A while back a friend said to me, “In an airplane emergency, first you must put on your own oxygen mask, then help those around you. Have you put on your life mask first?”

Since December, I have diligently tried to remember to practice self care as a means of improving my own life, and also the lives of my family members. This has been a difficult task for someone like me. Someone who often says yes to everything others ask, without any thought as to how this decision will impact me on a personal level.  Someone who puts the thoughts and feelings of others before my own.  Always.

Last week we ventured to the Northwoods of Wisconsin for a family vacation, but also for a personal recharge. While Up North this year, I tried to carve out some “me time,” where I could breathe in the positive energy around me, and release any toxic, negative energy that was holding me down.

I ended up finding time in the early morning hours, while my family still slumbered. The sun cast a faint glimmer upon the mirror-like surface of the lake, while the frogs and toads sang me a melodious tune. I found myself in the many green spaces on the property, pulling weeds and tending to the small plants that managed to survive the feast of the nearby deer. With my hands beneath the soil, I could feel the energy of the Earth pulsing through me, filling me with a profound sense of peace. It was during these moments that I felt connected, not only to the Earth, but also to those in my life whom I have lost and to the God who placed me here at that moment to embrace the spirit of my surroundings.

Yes, these moments of recharging my mind, body and spirit have proven to be my life’s saving grace. And for that, I am so very grateful.

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Better Late Than Never Garden Update

Well friends, it’s June 16th, and I am coming at you with my first garden update of the 2017 growing season.  Hum.  Where exactly did the time go?  And better yet, what on earth have I been doing?  Time has somehow slipped between my fingers so rapidly, that I cannot even seem to identify the activities that filled these minutes, hours and days.

But nonetheless, this garden of ours is surely well underway, and perhaps the furthest along we have ever been come this time of the year.  I believe I can owe a great deal of this success to the fact that my girls have been real, active participants in our homestead this year.  While in the past the girls surely had “jobs” like collecting eggs in the morning, watering their fairy garden, and picking ripe cherry tomatoes from the vine, but this year the girls have been logging some legit man-power hours.  Gianna hauls spent dishwater outside to water plants, and she moves the sprinkles around to various locations throughout these hot, dry days we have been experiencing.  Addie tilled all the garden beds this spring, and she does a great deal of the wedding that needs to be done in the veggie beds.

And let me tell you, this year these littles are much more appreciative of the strawberries gracing their breakfast table and the cilantro and lettuce making its way into their tacos come dinnertime.  And isn’t this what homesteading and forming connections with our food is all about?  With the knowledge of the human labor and natural resources needed to grow our food, we are much more humble and filled with an awe-inspiring sense of gratitude when we are able to bring that food to our tables.

I wish you all a wonderful weekend, in which you are able to nourish your body with food that gives you strength in body, as well as soul.  

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Homemade Sunscreen

Homemade Sunscreen

I have been experimenting for a while now to craft a homemade sunscreen that works for my family.  I wanted a sunscreen that was not too oily, didn’t turn our skin completely white, and most importantly, one that actually worked.  Well, after much trial and error, I believe I have found the perfect combo and ratio of ingredients that meets all of those requirements, plus one:  it smells amazing!  I am so thrilled to share this recipe with you today.  Enjoy!

2 oz. beeswax

2 oz. cocoa butter

2 oz. coconut oil

1 1/2 oz. grapeseed oil

1/2 oz. carrot seed oil

1 oz jojoba oil

2 1/2 oz. non-nano and uncoated zinc

Measure the beeswax, cocoa butter and coconut oil by weight and place in a double boiler.  Heat until all components are melted.  Remove from heat.  Add grapeseed oil, carrot seed oil and jojoba oil.  Mix well to combine.  Finally, whisk in the zinc (also measured by weight).  The mixture will thicken up pretty quickly.  Once mixed and thickened, spoon into a glass jar with a lid.

As with most natural sunscreens, you need to reapply often.  I have found best results when reapplying this sunscreen every 60-80 minutes.

(*Note:  Be sure to wipe out all vessels and utensils thoroughly with paper towels before washing, as beeswax can clog plumbing.  You can then discard of the paper towels in your compost bin.)

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