13 March 2014

I do my best gardening in the wintertime.

"I get pleasure from simple things. 
Home baked bread, homegrown vegetables and making things from what I find around me." 
-Alys Fowler

I used to think neighbors chatting about gardening was merely small talk but I've changed my mind. The fact that a tiny seed goes into the ground and becomes a plant that becomes a tomato is a miracle every time. Gardening is transforming to the spirit. To talk about it is to diminish it's meaning, and yet, it's completely impossible not to talk about it. To garden is to dream, or as someone said, "to believe in tomorrow".

Gardening gets me excited to go from the [relative] quiet of winter into the first bursts of spring. I am so new at it that I'm still amazed when anything grows successfully but every year it gets better and I have a bigger perspective for what's possible. I learn by watching my neighbors, asking my mother-in-laws advice and keeping an eye on who is plowing and who is planting. 
Last year there are a few things especially that I'm excited to do more of this year. The photo above is the most delightful salad that makes an effortless lunch. When things started coming along nicely I would put some oil, balsamic vinegar, salt pepper, avocado into a bowl then go out to the garden and pluck whatever looks nice to add... micro-greens, herbs, cucumber, whatever seems inspiring.. then toss it all together and eat it right there in the garden under the warm sunshine. 

"Heaven is a homegrown cucumber". -Alys Fowler

This photo, a bowl of peach salsa with the ingredients that I used to make it written on it, reminds me that I'd like to do that more often this year. It's such an easy way to keep track of sporadic combinations that I stir together and would otherwise forget.   

Mulching heavily is so helpful and seems to be one key to success for me. Not only is it good for weed control but it keeps more moisture in and also adds nutrients to the soil. One day I hope to establish a garden with a Back to Eden method of layering and composting. Follow the link and watch the documentary, so beautiful and inspiring, full of spiritual analogies. It's hard not to get overambitious but I've also learned to start slowly and try to keep it small. Being completely overwhelmed with weeds or an overabundance of vegetables and the pressure that you need to can and preserve everything is a good way to burn out quickly and then miss the joy of growing things. I like to do it for the joy. Alys Fowler has a wonderful series called The Edible Garden. I love to watch it in the winter and dream about the coming year. Her enthusiasm is absolutely contagious and she has a beautiful way of letting her garden grow "wild". It should be productive and beautiful, she says, and I agree. What could be more wonderful.

23 January 2014

// Below zero temps gave the kids a few good days of ice skating on Granddad Eldon's pond
// Working cattle and tea on the fire
// Molly Wizenberg's recipe for rice pudding. I've made it twice in the past week. Best ever. Truly.
// Butchering a hog with a group of  friends is an annual ritual; breakfasts of fresh eggs from the coop and smoked sausage ever since. No sugar and no flour for me right now but sorghum and buckwheat pancakes are so good I don't miss it.
// Snowy days when the cows get out on the wrong side of the fence.
// Coming in from the snow to a warm house and cup of hot cocoa with maple syrup.

Winter is one of my favorite seasons, maybe because I grew up in Florida and haven't had enough cold and snow to get tired of it yet. Or it could be because it's a bit more quiet on the farm. Whatever the reasons, I think the cold makes me appreciate and look for warmth and it makes everything so cozy.
This year though I've noticed I'm a little more emotionally challenged. I didn't think about it being related to the weather at all until I was talking about it to a friend and she said calmly, "Oh you've got a winter mood."
That's a thing?
I've somehow previously been exempt it seems. It really helped to identify it like that but still I wondered,
"Why is there not a relentlessness about my joy?"
I'm listening to this sermon for the third time today. He says if there is anything good about this day it is because of grace. I didn't realize that I have had a pattern of thinking that things should be good.
Why shouldn't they be good!?
Things aught to go right!
No, it's just starting to sink in... "If anything's good it's because God works it together...
Things fall apart. 
The world is burdened down by evil and decay. It's the nature of things to fall apart.
So do relationships... so do families... things do not come together, they do not work together.
[Christians] get rid of the saccharine sentimental idea that things aught to go right, that things do go right, that that's the norm. Modern western people believe, if things have gone wrong, I'm gonna sue! Why? Because things aught to go right! Christian's say, if today my health is in tact, it's God holding it together. If someone loves me and somebody cares about me today at all... in spite of my flaws, in spite of my selfishness... it's God doing that, it's God holding it together. If anything goes good it's a miracle of Grace!"
... These are all quotes smashed together from the sermon I'm writing out to let it all sink in.
I don't know about you but that is news that transforms my way of thinking completely.
Understanding what the promise really is in Romans 8:28 means that I don't need to be shocked when bad things happen and it causes me to practice routine praise for the ordinary things that I now realize I had formerly seen as things I was entitled to.
"God does not promise better life circumstances if you love Him, He promises you a better life... So that when you suffer, you become like Him". -Timothy Keller

10 December 2013

Kinfolk | Natural Home Holiday Workshop

|| Gather around a table filled with bundles of 
foraged greens, berries and natural elements to tie into festive holiday arrangements. 
|| Learn how to use nature's inspiration for wrapping gifts to give away. 

|| Come away with a little something to adorn your tree, a wreath to hang on your 
door and perhaps a garland or two that we created together during a continual flow 
of conversation, sweet treats and hot spiced cider. As the afternoon winds down, 
a spread of hearty savory offerings invite you to linger a little longer then planned...
Partnering with Kinfolk events has been one of the highlights of this year! Our 3rd, and last (for the year) is coming up this Saturday and there is still room left for you to join us. Hosted here at the Mill, along with The Pinwheel Collective, The Lady Jane Shop, and Hope Helmuth.  
For tickets and event details go here.

 Head on over to The Pinwheel Collective to see Amelia and Katie's documentation of the August Camp Cooking and Grilling Workshop hosted at Hope's River House.

Hope your December is warm and cozy so far, and full of every good thing!

05 December 2013

Linger a bit.

Just beginning to transition into holiday mode this week. It's been a bit slow, but I'm ok with taking my time. I so enjoyed the warmth of autumn. November had lots of travel plans, lots of climate changes, good days of learning and stretching and time with family on all sides. Yesterday was our first day back to our semi-normal routine and it felt so good! There is something so wonderful about a normal day! Even so, too many normal days and I get a bit lost and confused, so a change was most welcome and has me coming back feeling refreshed. I love celebrating Thanksgiving, it's really incredible to have a holiday that celebrates gratitude... I love the change in the air this time of year... the cold outside, the warmth inside. I love the glow of the lamp in the window, and coming in from a long walk through our little village. I love December, a month for gatherings and making and cooking and being together. I don't want to rush it by always thinking of the next thing. I'm going to decide to like each obligation and have a coffee in the afternoon as often as I can, hopefully with a neighbor or maybe even a husband.
To smile... to be present, one thing at a time. It will all get done.
Right...? I say that with dishes in the sink, and dirty laundry and maybe 143 important things to do.
Oh that's right... a normal day! And another opportunity to enjoy it. So here I go, off to grab the bull by the horns, yet again!
Hope you're getting the best of anything you get to wrestle today.

15 October 2013

On making a home: a few questions

"It seems to me that, whether it is recognized or not, there is terrific frustration which increases in intensity and harmfulness as time goes on, when people are always daydreaming of the kind of place in which they would like to live, yet never making the place where they do live into anything artistically satisfying to them." -Edith Schaeffer

Lately I've been in a bit of a quandary about my decorating style. Not that I don't like what I have; it's been so fun collecting things slowly. Everything has a story and a process of how it got here. It's not all coordinated but if it feels cohesive enough, (or of it's a couch that paid less then $10 for!) I can easily forgive it for not being perfect. My quandary comes in that lately I've start to think that maybe being a good and responsible wife actually means investing in some things of value - rather then always buying the biggest score at the next auction.
Living a Beautiful Life by Alexandra Stoddard is one of my favorite books. I found it when I was much younger, still living in my mother's house, and I didn't realize how much it has influenced me until I picked it up again in the past few days.
Either that woman is reading my mind or else she has greatly impacted the way that I think.  
She's an interior designer, and though the concepts she presents are timeless, the book itself is a bit dated. Even so, as the title suggests, it's full of warm thoughts and ideas about making a home and living well. Special soaps, good towels, engaging the senses in the tasks and rituals of daily living is what she's all about.

"I've become convinced that only by paying careful attention to the simple details of daily tasks and to our immediate surroundings can we live vitally and beautifully all the days of our lives." 

This is the very core of what I believe! It thrills me and sets me glowing with purpose ...while at the very same time I've realized it's the very thing that can be completely paralyzing.
This means every single detail of every daily task that I do is monumentally important. Taking out the trash is not just taking out the trash, the task must be completed with scented bags and a proper container chosen specifically for it's pleasing aesthetic.
 Edith Schaeffer brings a wonderful balance to this concept in "The Hidden Art of Homemaking" - which is, I think, the best book ever written on creating a home. There are so many wonderful quotes and things I could say about this book!
("Ugh read it! I know you'll love it!" My brain still works in quotes from the movie You've Got Mail).
She has a compelling way of suggesting that you can create a beautiful life virtually out of nothing.
"Express yourself not only in selecting things to buy, not only in your choice from many things displayed in a store, but also what you can produce yourself, with some degree of originality, craftsmanship or artistic creativity." 
She even adds that keeping waste out of landfills would be one of many good reasons to rescue things from being tossed out and instead "turning them into an object that has purpose and charm in your home."
 She is so encouraging, no matter what your life situation; single, married, mansion, a one-room cave in the rocks or a different hotel every night, making the place where you lay your head at night functional and beautiful is one of the most important pursuits you can accomplish!
I love having an entire house to decorate and fill with found treasures, but it was really so simple when all i had was a few boxes stashed in the back of my jeep that went everywhere with me.
Recently after ordering -and paying full price! - for some window treatments I didn't like, I am becoming more happy with what I've been using as an excuse for curtains, which is mostly old linens, burlap bags, and some my mom and a sweet neighbor gave me. But does that mean I should keep limping along with my old yard sale coffee pot or should i invest in the one i really want? Wait, I already know the answer to this one! Few things are more important than really good coffee. There is probably no other ritual done with greater frequency in this house; it should certainly be done well!
Clarita wrote an inspiring and beautiful post on "Making a 5-Star Bed" that has me convinced of the absolute necessity of 1000-thread count sheets, but there are a few other decisions that aren't quite as easy.  

Since we've established that the smallest details are what make up the whole of a life well lived, how do you decide which are most important to focus on, and spend money on? Which details do you make do or "make from nothing"?
How do you decide what is essential to invest in for the home that God has given you? (I'm so glad we can go to Him for wisdom on these things.)

I will probably calm down soon and just go gather a bunch of lavender to keep on my bathroom sink but I'd love to hear some thoughts on this subject. I always have an opinion about this sort of thing and I'm pretty sure you do to.
Do I really need to not rest until I've installed a proper trashcan?
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