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 🙂

img_4459Before

img_4472After

img_4460Before

img_4485After

I Stand at the Ready

fullsizerender-2

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.

fullsizerender

The Apothecary

img_3672

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 🙂

img_3686

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.

 

From Dawn to Dusk

img_3667 img_3669 img_3673

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.

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.

img_3200 img_3198 img_3138

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.

img_2253

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.

img_3188 img_3141

img_3187

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.

img_3667

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.

 

 

Craft and Science

img_3211 img_3210

img_3209 img_3212img_3233 img_3303 img_3302 img_3272Last Sunday, we gathered with friends in our late summer garden for some fermentation fun.  My husband (and his trusty brewmaster side kick) concocted a nice autumnal nut brown ale, while I worked with some of the other littles on cabbage sauerkraut.

I just love the craft and science behind fermentation.  I love the look of amazement that crosses their faces when I tell kids they are working with millions of living organisms when they ferment.  I also adore the slow and deliberate pace of fermenting.  The fact that the process cannot be rushed is what pulls me in the most to this craft.  We are all so rushed in our daily lives, that at times it is just so therapeutic to slow down, gather with friends, and enjoy that slow gait together.

Joy in the Present

IMG_3248

Each of us has a handful of life experiences that truly changes us.  Those experiences that get deep into our veins and alter the core of our inner self and the lens through which we view the world.  I can confidently say my family and I just experienced such an event.

Over the course of the last eight days our family ventured East.  We made many, many stops and saw numerous amazing sights, but the reason for our trip was to participate in a family stay at the Knapp family’s local living school, Koviashuvik.  While on this absolutely gorgeous homestead we learned, laughed, created, and soaked up all we could from this astounding family of four who live in harmony with the earth in a way I have never before witnessed.

As I sit before this screen, I realize there is no way I can adequately express, in words, our time spent with the Knapps.  Instead, I have decided to let the photographs tell our story.  The word Koviashuvik means, “a time and place of joy in the present moment” and I invite you come along with us on our adventure to a time and place where I can say I was fully present and filled with the most wonderful sense of peace and joy.

IMG_2908 IMG_2909 IMG_2910 IMG_2926 IMG_2933 IMG_2969 IMG_2981 IMG_2998

IMG_3014

IMG_2896 IMG_2899 IMG_2900Photo Credit: Ashirah KnappP1040284Photo Credit: Ashirah KnappP1040289Photo Credit: Ashirah KnappP1040303Photo Credit: Ashirah KnappP1040312IMG_2905IMG_2911 IMG_2913 IMG_2914 IMG_2915 IMG_2917 IMG_3002Photo Credit: Ashirah KnappP1040390IMG_2922 IMG_2925 IMG_2943Photo Credit: Ashirah KnappP1040354Photo Credit: Ashirah KnappP1040364

IMG_2977 IMG_2974 IMG_2929

IMG_2928Photo Credit: Ashirah KnappP1040424Photo Credit: Ashirah KnappP1040435Photo Credit: Ashirah KnappP1040444Photo Credit: Ashirah KnappP1040463

IMG_2946 IMG_2948 IMG_2953 IMG_2954 IMG_2964Photo Credit: Ashirah KnappP1040562Photo Credit: Ashirah KnappP1040571Photo Credit: Ashirah KnappP1040572Photo Credit: Ashirah KnappP1040381Photo Credit: Ashirah KnappP1040384Photo Credit: Ashirah KnappP1040609Photo Credit: Ashirah KnappP1040635Photo Credit: Ashirah KnappP1040639Photo Credit: Ashirah KnappP1040643IMG_2978 P1040490 IMG_2979Photo Credit: Ashirah KnappP1040521

IMG_2932 IMG_2980 IMG_2940Photo Credit: Ashirah KnappP1040370Photo Credit: Ashirah KnappP1040498

Kale Cubes

IMG_2786

Every November, we find ourselves with an overabundance of kale that gets hit with a hard frost and dies.  It always makes me feel just sick to know all of that healthy vegetation has gone to waste and ends up in the compost bin.  This year my husband came up with a great idea:  kale cubes.

When my oldest daughter was a baby, we made her baby food.  We threw a bunch of fruit and veggies in a blender with a bit of water, pureed it, and then froze it in ice cube trays.  Once the cubes froze, we popped the cubes out into a gallon-size freezer bag.  That way, at mealtime, we would just take out the cubes we wanted, heat them up, and viola…ready-to-eat baby food.  So, last week my husband came up with the brilliant idea to do this same thing with our kale!  Then that way, once winter settles in and we are longing for some healthy greens, we can pop a couple of our kale cubes into our blender to add some nutrients to our morning smoothies.

IMG_2791

All I did was harvest and wash some of our kale, threw it in our Vitamix with about one cup of water, pureed it until the mixture was nearly smooth, poured the puree into ice cube trays and popped them in the freezer.  The next day, I popped out the cubes and put them in a gallon-sized freezer bag.  Now they are all set for those February morning breakfast smoothies 🙂

IMG_2794

The Most Amazing News

IMG_2975

Oh friends, I just received the most amazing news.  My favorite blogger/author, Amanda Blake Soule, will be featuring my garden photos and writing on her blog tomorrow.  I invite you to check out the post tomorrow (Friday, July 22) at www.soulemama.com.

I am completely overcome with excitement and gratitude at being given this wonderful opportunity to share with those around the world, what wonderful things are going on right here in Rockford, Illinois.  A true blessing indeed.

And, this news does not come on any random day either.  Today we celebrate my mom’s birthday.  If this is not a true sign of a guardian angel mama always looking out for her babies, I don’t know what is.  You always told me to keep writing, Mom.  And I have been.  Just for you.

FullSizeRender-2

Change

IMG_6840

Summer 2012

IMG_2508

Summer 2016

We hosted our first “summer family dinner” of the year this week and I couldn’t help but look around me and take note of the changes that have taken place over the last four years since we began these gatherings.  One very special person is no longer present, and four more are moving on to exciting new life adventures and will shortly leave our table as well.

When these thoughts of change began to surface, I started to feel that all-too-familiar sense of anxiety, sadness and dread seeping into my veins.  I wanted to push those feelings down deeper, think about them another day.  But then I thought to myself,  No.  I want to be fully present in this moment right now.  I want to feel the rawness of these feelings of loss and change, because it is out of these feelings that I am able to also experience real and true happiness.  For it is not until we fall down into the earth, that we are able to grapple and stand erect again, with our feet firmly rooted in the soil, stronger and more prepared for what lies ahead.