Stand Upon Grace

Homesteading with heart~Cultivating the art of intentional living

Awakening

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The day broke strong and bright signaling the beginning of the weekend.  Warm humidity of melting snow permeated the air, and stirrings within me suggested strongly the possibility of the maple trees awakening, sap running.  Gathering my brace, hammer, and a few taps in my vest pocket, I stepped out into the melting snow, feeling the crystalline crunch beneath the leather on my feet–sugar snow.  My pulse quickens my steps, as though I can feel the stirring within, rising up from beneath, a rousing in the roots that have lay quietly sleeping.

It is not a long walk on the path of the sugar trail to the first maple. I can feel the certainty of unseen movement beneath the earth, under layers, beneath bark and skin, as I move along,  curiosity stirring in my bones.  I whisper a prayer, blessing, an offering of gratitude on my breath as my feet step deeply through soft, grainy layers of retreating snow.  Approaching slowly, reverently, bowing from within before the regal tree, honoring the sacred connection between creation and me.  Gently my hands caress, bringing skin to bark, asking silently where it is that she is willing to give from, where it is I may receive.

I close my eyes, breathe deeply her essence, lean in, and feel to where she guides.  Her wisdom is deep, I trust her knowing more than my own.  I see with eyes, as well as heart, the space that she provides to nurture, share her lifeblood, her sap.  I feel her readiness to open, to receive, to offer and give freely, all that she has to share, her longing invitation to nurture deep those who are waiting.

It is with whispers of prayers from softly parted lips, deep gratitude, and genuine love, that I place the first tap.  I open her slowly with gentle hands and notice the wetness, the dampness that signals all that she offers.  With heightening energy and emotion, she brings forth from within, her gifts.  The sap runs freely, wildly, gently, pulsing life echoing the pulse under my skin.

The awakening has begun.

Yoga Coaching + Soul Mentoring

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It is my humble honor to announce that I am now offering through this sacred space, yoga coaching, guidance, and soul mentoring.  Allow me to accompany you on your soul’s journey to embrace the life you envision creating.  Together we will explore what it is that you desire most, learn to connect and nurture your authentic self, bravely break through any blocks or barriers that may be holding you back, experience your sacred soul and divine connection, all while learning the language your body is speaking, and uncovering the messages she is waiting for you to hear.

Listen to the voice within.

It is my desire to serve and uplift others through sharing my soul’s work and journey, to help lead, empower, and guide you to connect with your inner wisdom, experience your sacred soul, and unite you with the divine spirit that dwells within.

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You are sacred.

I believe in the sacred divine that lives within our hearts.  I believe that we are all sacred, that we are born sacred, and die sacred.  I believe that in order to fully experience life and our highest potential we must tap into the sacred essence that is us.

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I long to help other women recognize, understand and embrace their sacredness, their  worth, their value, and their inner divine beauty. 

Know that you are loved and supported, beautiful one.

It is time for us to all to rise together and acknowledge that we are sacred beings living connectedly on sacred ground,  bring that awareness into light, and explore what gifts we can courageously share with each other.  Allow me to help you uncover your sacred soul’s purpose, your heart’s calling, and your unique, divine connection for your life.

Rise and shine.

Through yoga coaching and soul mentoring, meditation, intuition, prayer, mantra, affirmation, journaling, and other healing modalities specific to your needs, I will support and guide you on a soul level. As I hold the sacred space for you, we will work together to cultivate an intentional life, acknowledge your authentic self, find your own true north, and experience your connection to the everyday sacred.

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Welcome home.

Now that you are ready to step into your sacredness, open to your life, experience bountiful joy, recognize your voice, feel your authenticity, and your uniquely beautiful brave bold, I would be honored to hold the sacred space for your journey as your sister guide.

 

Meet Me

Discover more

 

A New Frontier

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I have often wondered when we have traveled down roads, what it must have felt like to be a pioneer in the days of new territories and lands undiscovered, wagons and horses, families, and critters all traveling together into the unknown promises of it all.  They packed it all up, gave away the extras, made provisions for people and animals, prayed over their journey, and then one day they loaded the wagon and started out.

Hearts full of the unknown, brimming promises of new beginnings, prosperous perspectives, faith that this is the way that they should go.  A path less traveled, but nonetheless they started out.  Looking for faint wagon tracks in the dust.  Whole families all in it together. All following a leading of heart, a whisper of God’s goodness, a promise of a new frontier.  Bonded together through thick and thin, not knowing exactly what they would encounter along the trail, but still they started out.

Today is that day for our family.

We are starting out.  The wagon has been packed, provisions made, prayers spoken, hopes and new frontier dreams brim our hearts.  Side by side, and hand in hand we will be making the journey.  All in for the long haul.  We don’t know quite yet what this new frontier will hold, this virgin territory of our lives, but we trust in God’s goodness that this is the way we should travel.

What this means for our happy little homestead is not quite clear, but is beginning with a new frontier.

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We have been keeping a little secret.  Nurturing the seed of an idea, that has been incubating quietly in our hearts.  We have been leaning in, learning, and taking inventory on what is really and truly important in our lives, and where our loyalties lie.  We have been talking more and more about what it is we believe, who we are, and who we are called to be.  We are beginning to see more clearly through the thicket, the path that is lying before us.

Prayers have been said, hearts have been sought, and wisdom searched for in the still moments.  This one glorious and beautiful life that we have been gifted with should be lived with intentional, meaningful, heart-filled work as we prepare to take the next steps in a new beginning for our lives, and also on this blog site.  It is a time of high creativity, love, excitement, yet also some trepidation.  What if we put it all out there only to be returned by blank stares and the chirp of a rogue cricket????

Faith is where we are at.

We are trusting the small quiet whispers of angels in our hearts, that this is the direction we should go.  We cannot see the outcome, but know in our hearts and our guts that this new beginning is where we must start.  Our home is changing.  With one child flown from our little cocoon nest the reality of this next season of life came with a sharp wind of change.

Our time here is never as long as it seems, and all the tomorrows seem so distant, yet the reality of it is, today is what matters.  All the plans and good intentions in the world matter not what the gift of today brings.  We love that our eldest child is independent, spreading his wings ready to soar, but it all caught us a little by surprise that the time, the whole of 18 years, could actually pass in a blink of a moment.

Wow.

So here we stand, my man and I, hand in hand, brimming hearts and burning gaze peering out over the horizon, wondering much like pioneers on the verge of a new frontier, where do we go from here….?

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The answer is forward, as we cannot turn back now, we’ve come too far.  The dust and dirt mixed with the laughter and tears of the trail muddies the tracks of where we have been, the miles we have walked together, the joys and sorrows that we have witnessed bonds souls deep, and moves us quietly forward to follow the subtle wagon tracks on the path that lies ahead.

We are pioneers of our own lives, and that of our family, on the cusp of a new frontier, trusting that the trail will bring the blessings as promised.  We have also come far enough to know that together we can, and we shall, walk along hand in hand, heart to heart.

 So pack your wagons, make your provisions, pray your prayers, and get ready to pioneer into a New Frontier alongside us as we journey together down the path less traveled.

Giddyup!!!!

Breathing Room

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Because we all need a little breathing room.

Some days it’s hard to breathe.  We lose our way, our connection to ourselves in the midst of stress, of the daily to-do’s, in the momentum of living in this fast paced life.  Let’s take the time to s-l-o-w.  Set the intention of slowing our pace, creating an awareness of peace, a quiet center to return to when life pulls you away from your true north, and the beauty of who you are.

Come home to your quiet center, return to basics, return to your breath.  Allow yourself a few moments to connect, get grounded, feel the peace within by nurturing an awareness of your breath.  Peace is accessible to us, anytime, anyplace, all we need do is remember it is there comforting us and surrounding us, invite peace to envelop you as you breathe it in.  Hold peace gently in your center and feel the support radiating out to hold you back.

Breathe Peace.  Be Peace. Peace is within.

I invite you to enjoy this beautiful, gentle guided meditation to nurture peace within your soul.

 

Peace Begins With Us

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Giant snow flakes float gently earthward creating softness surrounding our little homestead house.  Quiet white envelops us in a peaceful blanket spread smoothly over the valley.  It feels comfortable, a warm welcoming back to center, back to home.

Things in this world can feel overwhelming, especially if you are someone who feels deeply.  It can hit you like tidal waves, crashing into you like a wall of brick, smacking hard stinging skin and cracking bone, rolling you over into tumultuous seas, plunging directly into the depths of an ocean you had no idea was surrounding you.  Clinging and clawing, struggling to breathe, find footing on solid ground, lungs searing hot and longing for breath can leave you washed up on shore with sand plastered into hair and eyes, bruised and battered broken wanting desperately to know what just hit you.

Tsunami. Tidal Wave.

I welcome the gentle, the fresh, clean white of newly fallen snow.  Crisp air fills lungs and brings you back to the present moment.  Back to your quiet center, welcoming you back to home.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could stay here, in this peaceful place where all is quiet and well within our souls?  What if I told you, you could?  Would you believe me, or say it isn’t so?

Our natural state is peace.  We want to live in love.  When we are aligned and centered, and all feels good, natural, energetic, and connected, when love flows through us we are open and loving, peace permeates our hearts, bodies, minds, and lives.

We all get blindsided, thrown off track every now and again.

Even the most devoted, the most intentional, fall prey to the human condition and the state of the world around us.  Stress hits us hard, taking its toll, making us irritable, and robbing us of joy.  We cope daily with the challenges and stresses of our lives.  Holding a job, raising a family, nurturing relationships, managing businesses, and just plain ol’ daily life, not to mention all the chaos and changes that are going on in the world right now throw us off balance and cast us far away from our naturally peaceful, loving state.

How do we find balance and regain peace?

I once asked a teacher of mine this question.  It always felt like I would get a little taste, or a glance at what peace would look and feel like, then like a whitetail deer, that fleeting moment of an eyeblink, a flicker of tail, springing of muscle and flash of white, the feeling would be gone, elusive.  I will never forget what she told me.  She said, all you have to do is ask.  Peace is always there.  It sits quietly waiting for us to want it.

Huh.

I didn’t understand her answer with the depth that I do now.  Peace is permanent.  It is a part of who we are, our soul, whether we have experienced it or not.  Peace is ours.  It surrounds us, it’s visible and accessible in creation.  We can see it, feel peace, experience it in a quiet moment on a beautiful beach looking out over the vast expanse of the ocean, or a stillness that wraps around you at the peak of a mountain. Peace is snow falling gently enveloping our world in a softness that speaks by saying nothing.

So how do we cultivate peace in our own lives, in our souls, especially when it feels like the world around you is spinning out of control?

 

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First stop.  Ask for peace to become accessible to you.  Create an awareness of peace.  We cannot create or accept something that we do not acknowledge.  Practice peace.

Find a still place.  Slow your body to slow your mind.  Turn off electronics, and your phone.

Come to sitting in a chair, in a comfortable position with your feet flat on the floor, your spine straight, sitting up tall.  Feel your feet firmly connected to the earth below you, while the crown of your head reaches gently up toward the sky.

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Place your hands on your abdomen, fingers spread across the lower belly.

Close your eyes or find a focal point, soften your gaze and relax your eyes.  Relax and release your lower jaw, allowing the molars to part a bit creating space in the back of your mouth, and your tongue to settle into the base of the mouth.

Bring your attention to your breath.  Breathing in and out through the rings of the nostrils begin to gently deepen your breath, drawing the breath into the abdomen allowing your belly to round and expand as you inhale.  Feel your fingers spread gently across your abdomen as the breath fills your belly.  Allow your belly to round and expand filling with breath. Pause and hold the breath with gentle awareness.

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Exhale slowly through your nose, contracting your abdominal muscles to gently squeeze the breath out of the belly.  Feel your hands on your belly, fingers come back together as the air slowly releases from your lungs.

Inhale gently again through the nose, allowing the belly to round and fill with breath.  Bring your attention to your hands feeling them expand over the abdomen.  Pause the breath when your belly is fully rounded, filled with breath.  Count slowly to three.

Exhale slowly to release the breath through the nose, drawing the belly toward the spine to gently squeeze the breath out of the belly to exhale fully.

Continue to breathe slowly and intentionally in this manner.  As you begin to feel comfortable with the breath, cultivate an awareness of peace.  This may be an image, a feeling, or an experience to help you connect with the peace that surrounds us.  With each inhalation breathe in peace.  Allow peace to expand with your muscles as you inhale.  Hold that feeling of peace gently in your center with your belly rounded and expanded.  Allow the feeling of peace to expand outward from your center.

As you slowly exhale, release anything, thought, feeling, image, or idea that is not peaceful.  With each inhalation continue to breathe in peace, allowing the feeling of peace to permeate you, envelop you, support you, and become part of your being.  Feel fully surrounded, supported, loved and connected to peace.  Continue to exhale and release any stress, negativity, and non-peaceful ideals that you may be holding onto.

Breathe and let go.

Breathe and receive peace.

Peace is in us.  Peace surrounds us.  We are peace.  Peace begins with us.

 

 

The Sacred Everyday

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Sunshine dances across diamond dunes outside the homestead kitchen window.  Late afternoon stretches across shadows as light plays fairy-like ascending into ether. Sparkling crisp breezes call my soul out of doors, while my mind and body tend to the bread rising and baking in the oven.  Comforting wisps of fragrant ferment permeate the air and tickle nostrils, reminding me to slow, and allow the process.  The sunshine pulls on my heartstings, as I know how fickle it can be, yet I breathe in the smells of fresh bread baking in our homestead kitchen and know in my bones, that the unfolding of time for sunshine will come.

All this reminds me of the inner conversation I have been having with myself, the unfolding of a new awareness, a new pattern, an expedition inward to find what I hold sacred, what I am coming to know are non-negotiables, the everyday sacred, and how to create the space  to hold them with intention.

We are all souls living a very human experience.  Our physical body is the home for our soul, our temple, our link to our source.  Our connection to God.  How we view and care for the body we were given for this trip around the sun, refracts into our soul, and reflects in our lives.  Learning to live this takes time, more so for some than others, and intentional action.

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Self-care does not come naturally to most, especially in this age of fast paced technology.  The energetic drain is like a slow leak, a dripping faucet, that slowly depletes both body and soul.  Joining the drops of water from a slow leak are tributaries of energetic rivers moving at mock speed, especially if you just so happen to be a type A personality, a people pleaser, a go-getter, a hard worker, a driven to the point of cracking your own whip over a bruised and bloodied back.  Rather than a slow leak, dripping constant, you now have a raging river, whitewater style, an outlet of energy rushing away from you.  So where do you begin when you realize you need to stop the leak before it sweeps you out to a tumultuous sea?

Creating calm waters within your own soul, and in your life takes practice.  It requires you to take inventory, size up what makes you feel connected, peaceful, content, and joyful.  What brings you energy, and what is draining you.  What in your life are you ready to let go of to make space for something new.  Whether that newness is of spirit or manifests itself in a new choice, decision, or pattern matters not, they are both one in the same.  Most often creating the space for the waters to calm, opting for peace, choosing more of what feeds your soul will allow things to slow, time to appear, and energy to renew.

For me, these are becoming my non-negotiables.  The everyday sacred that I need to be the best me I can.  When I make time to do the things that I need to do to care for me, time and space open up to give more of my best self to those I love, and even to those who I meet on the street, or in the grocery store.  When I  maintain my everyday sacreds, the blocks are lifted, stress is released and relieved to free and open my heart, so love can flow through me nourishing myself, and others around me.

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I have long held the pattern of caretaking.  Making sure that everyone’s needs are met, but not so much my own.  I always put off the shower when the babes were in that stage of needing constant care, I put off my own feeding to nourish others, grabbing whatever I could in between, never being conscious of feeding my body, let alone nourishing myself. Recognizing and understanding this pattern helps me to remember to take care of me as well.

My yoga practice was my sacred everyday through the season of babies, and still is my lifeline, my self-care routine, my soul care.  Time on my mat combat the stresses and the exhaustion that can come with mamahood, and open me instead to the joy of being present as a mama.  Time spent in nature has always soothed my soul, left me with a deep peace and connection to the divine presence that is creation.  Meditation, prayer, and devotion allow me to fill the well, deepen my faith and trust that the entire universe is supporting me, lifting the weight of the world from my shoulders.  And when all else fails, music sings my soul, dancing motivates a deep release, reminding that we are here on this earth for a purpose, to connect with each other, to experience and share joy. I continue to need the routine of intentionally and repeatedly choosing peace, embracing love rather than fear, creating space to breathe, and consciously releasing that which is no longer serving me.  This sacred act of choosing frees me to elevate and uplift myself and others.

I believe that we are always learning, healing, and revealing new layers or levels of this expansion of expression into our lives.  Sometimes to learn something deeply, we must experience a depth that may be uncomfortable.  God guides us to the healing, into the light, allows us to choose peace, or fight against it.  Sometimes life happens and we forget  the sacred everyday holds us together, makes us who we are, completes us, and we let it go in ways that trickle downward eroding away the solid foundation we have built.  The trickle builds and soon giant waves are crashing down, washing away everything we thought we had.

This is when I remember and cling to the everyday sacred.  Those practices that hold the space for healing and renewal.  For me, I have come to know, and am coming to know with greater depth of certainty, that these are the things that calm the raging waters, slow the leak and buoy me through the day, elevating me above just surviving, but allowing me to thrive.  Find joy.  Breathe peace.  Serve with love and compassion.  They allow me to participate fully, body, mind, and soul with the moment at hand, and be the best most lovingkind self I can be.

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Here is a list of my Sacred Everyday.

Yoga

Meditation

Prayer

Spiritual/devotional reading

Outside Everyday, movement in nature.  Skiing, walking, snowshoeing, breathing.

Heartfelt time with my hubby and kids.  Screen free, looking into eyes, speaking soul to soul.

Nurturing myself and my family in the kitchen.  Passionately cooking and creating together.

Creativity.  Writing, crochet, sewing, creating.

Music.  Sings my soul, elevates and unites.

Dancing.  Movement creates spontaneous joy and allows me to fully experience my physical body in a creative and healthy way.

I invite you here to reflect, make a list and acknowledge, What is your Sacred Everyday?  Those practices that hold the space for healing and renewal?  What would you like to cultivate in your life, more peace, more love, more joy, more quality time with friends and family, health or wellness, or more creativity?  What sings your soul, fills your well, and elevates your spirit?

The Artisan Kitchen

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Many of you may have noticed a while back that I added a new page.  It was time to act on a desire to create a recipe index, to make finding our whole foods recipes a simple task.  I needed to just begin, as it has been on my very long list of things to get to for longer than I would care to admit.  So I did it.  I created the page.  I took that first step, and I began.

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Since that initial beginning, it has looked pretty quiet over at the artisan kitchen for quite some time now, but I am pleased to announce that I have been working diligently behind the scenes to breathe life into this fledgling creation.  I have added many links to existing recipes here on the blog, hoping to make it a littler easier to access your favorites, and plan to continue creating and publishing nourishing recipes that encompass our families’ food values.  Whole, mostly organic, plant and pasture based with a strong traditional influence, allow us to nurture and thrive on this beautiful homesteading path.  This is what meets the criteria within our artisan kitchen.

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I would love to support and encourage you on your whole foods journey and plan to continue to grow our list of recipes as we share this space with other kindred souls.  Beautiful, whole, deeply nourishing food is one of the main motivations behind our homesteading lifestyle. Unprocessed, untainted, old-fashioned food the way it was intended.  Knowing where our food comes from, pasture or garden, woods or field, directly to our family table allows us to be accountable to ourselves and also the marvelous world around us.  Simple, basic, bursting with taste, and flavored with salt, smoke, herbs, and spices allows the natural beauty of the food to shine through.  It is in sharing my journey in the artisan kitchen with you that I hope to inspire you to create for yourself and your family alongside me.

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I invite you now to head on over to The Artisan Kitchen, check it out, find some inspiration, and join me.  If you will, in the comments, let me know what you think, and what you would like to see more of in the future as we expand and grow.

Creating an Intentional Life

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What is it that you desire?  What brings you joy?  What would you like to spend more time, and energy on, or what would you love to spend your time doing?  These are some of the questions we should ask of ourselves, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly perhaps as we begin a new cycle again.  Taking regular inventory of where we are right now, in this very moment, and what it is we would like to create, live, and be.

Creating an intentional life does not happen by accident.  It takes time to gain clarity, focus, and purposeful planning to create the space to make the changes that you would like to see and live.

Maybe there is something whispering to you that you would like to do, to pursue.  You have heard the quiet call, your heart and body answers, “YES!”  by lighting up when you think of it, a zing of energy rises up within you and you think, ” THAT would be AWESOME!!!!”

……ah but maybe someday…..

I don’t have time right now.

I don’t have the energy right now.

I don’t have the money right now.

I don’t know how right now.

Maybe when the kids are older.

OOOOooooo, and my personal favorite….what would people think?

And on it goes.

The list of impossibilities that run through your mind, that limit your beliefs, your actions, your potential, your life.

LET’S STOP RIGHT THERE.

Take a moment to consider how you would feel if you were doing, or taking steps to creating what it is you would like to do.  Let’s remember that when something lights you up and brings you joy it is a part of who you are, and why you are here.  It is a part of your soul’s purpose, your calling, why you are here at such a time as now.

You have something to contribute.  Often it is the case that what we are being called to do, or try, or create, is directly linked to enriching our own lives and the lives of others.  Even if it seems unrelated, or unimportant.

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If you are feeling compelled to try a yoga class, it may be calling to you at a soul’s level to help you heal your body so you can have the strength and stamina to pursue your true calling, or you may learn that helping others to heal and rise up to their full potential is something you would love to do.

Homesteading may be calling you.  Learning about what it is that is you value in this lifestyle may help you find a starting place.  Perhaps having access to fresh, organic, Non-GMO food is the catalyst for you.  Plant a garden, or take a class on making fermented foods, and see where that leads.  Learn about raising chickens, sharing fresh eggs with neighbors may create connections that otherwise may not have been realized.

You may have dreamed of being a writer.  Your story, your message, your light is waiting to be shared with the world.  Begin today.  Start a journal, a blog, write daily, devote yourself to the practice of writing.  Join a writer’s circle.  Actively seek your dream.

Maybe that knitting you would like to do will lead you to teach a meditative movement class, or donate hand-knit baby items to those in need. You can nurture yourself and others with woolens made from the heart.

Perhaps you would like to teach.  What is it that you are passionate about?  What would you like to share with others?  Remembering that if you truly want to learn something, teach it.

Is there a new recipe that you would like to try, or new approach to cooking that you would like to learn?  Gather ingredients and gusto, find a class, or a friend to help you on your path, it may nourish you and your family in unexpected ways.

Getting your home organized, cleaned and sorted, leaves you with space and energy to open yourself up to other creative opportunities, a clean slate, a fresh start.

Homeschooling may be whispering to your heart, calling you and your family.  Make a connection with another homeschool mama, and over coffee explore the possibilities that this path may hold for you.

Perhaps it is self-care that is calling to you.  Maybe it is time to prioritize your health and wellbeing and schedule that weekly massage, start a meditation or yoga practice, a spiritual practice, join a church group or a gym, get out in nature, spend time reading, knitting, sewing, or nurturing yourself through cooking.  Make that phone call or meet with a beloved friend for coffee.  When we take time to acknowledge the needs of our own selves, and tend to our souls, rather than over-caffeinate, ignore, and push through until exhaustion or sickness sets in, we have more time and energy to love and care for others, and to create an intentional life.

Creating an intentional life, a purposeful and creative life that fills you up, and allows you to expand and grow takes action steps.

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Ask yourself these simple questions.

What calls to me deeply when I am in a quiet space?  What whispers to your heart when you find a calm and quiet space to listen?  Just be clear and open to listen.  What is it that you could do, where could you go, who could you help, how could you serve?

What dream is it time to realize?  No matter how crazy, far flung, or intangible it may seem, taking steps toward that dream is the only way you will live it.

What brings me joy? What Lights me up with energy and enthusiasm?  (Joy is different than momentary happiness and or comfort…Joy is deeper, it comes through you, and connects and aligns you at a soul level.  Joy feels like you have come home.)

Once you are clear on what it is you would like to create in your life, it is time to take action.  Make it a priority.

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Action Steps

What can you do today, right now in this very moment to pursue your creation?  It may be as simple as making a phone call, a connection to open the path to where you would like to go.  Do some research, see what it is you need to do to start.  Transfer money into an account, (even if it is $10 dollars),  designated to realizing your dream or goal.  Find a class.  Start learning.  The important thing is to just breathe and begin.

After you have taken your first step, plan the next.  Carve out a plan to help keep you moving forward toward your goal.  Be intentional.  Schedule time and make it a priority.  Use a planner, an app, or a post it, the important thing is to find a method that works for you to keep you motivated and moving. It is easy to allow other things to take up the time and energy you would like to spend on creating your intentional life, you must create the space for it in your life, the space will not magically appear.

Starting and creating take devotion and a willingness to show up and dedicate yourself to what it is you desire.  Plan a minimum of 10 minutes a day to doing what brings you joy and moves you forward on your path to realizing your goal.  Commit to 21 days, and see where that leads you.  I am willing to bet that in that time, you will have begun to create some unbelievable connections, pathways, feelings of wellbeing and purposeful energy, and be on your way to creating an intentional life.

So friends tell me, in the comments below, how do you plan on creating an intentional life?

 

 

 

Bread

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Bread.  Sacred, broken, nurturing for body and soul.  Bread is universal.  It transcends, elevates, unites, and kneads us together as people.  Bread is part of our sacred ceremony and ritual, it is also a part of daily life.  It supports us, we show love by sharing bread, breaking and partaking together.  Bread heals us.  Bread sustains us.  It is for this reason that one should not go out into the world without knowing what they can about good bread.

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Warmth radiates gently from the oven as we gather in the kitchen together, this oldest one and I.  He prepared with pen and journal, ready to take note on what he finds remarkable in the process, and I with a heart ready to share.   We measure, mix, chat, and chart together, kneading our morning together with so much more than flour, yeast, water, salt.  The alchemical magic that is bread.

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Healing happens in the intimacy, and safety of the small, warm kitchen.  Nurturing happens in the process that is bread.  It is simple ingredients, blessed with love, prayer, and sharing that elevates the deceptively humble loaf into a deeply nourishing soul food.

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We laugh, encourage, and support each other’s process as we slowly move in the direction of bringing ingredients to fruition of a beautiful loaf.  This boy loves bagels, so we decide to dedicate a part of our dough to the bagel making process.  In this way, this guy can nourish himself and others with loving loaves, and share his favorite breakfast food with friends he will find along his way.  Bread is simple food made for sharing.

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The wisdom of bread tells us to continue to grow and expand, to share of ourselves, to nurture, and to count the daily rhythms sacred.  This is what bread teaches.  This is what I hope to pass on to my boys as they grow into men and we share the process that is bread.

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Do not be afraid of change.  It can, and almost always is, full of opportunities for miracles.  Always grow and learn.  Stretch beyond your limits, your comfort zone, for we don’t always know what great things we are capable of until we are stretched.  Be malleable, shapeable, allow for movement, expansion and growth in your life.

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Share what you have.  Share who you are, the you at your core, your divine self, your bright light, share it always, it is why we are here.  Nurture yourself.  Love yourself deeply so that you can love and nurture others.  Let love flow through you so that you have the courage to give it away.

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Every day is sacred.  A gift of beauty in the everyday ordinary, even in the hard, the dark, the quiet, there is a miracle waiting, all you need do is open your heart and receive.

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So in the radiating warmth of the oven with dough’s sharp tang tingling within our nostrils, and  winter’s sun shining through brightly illuminating the kitchen’s countertop, we, my oldest and I, share our process, our love, and the humble prayer that we will each continually be sustained, nurtured, and blessed by this mixing, shaping, and sharing the process we call bread.

 

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Artisan Bread Master Recipe

adapted from Artisan Bread In Five, by Jeff Hertzberg, MD, and Zoe Francois

3 cups lukewarm water

2-3 Tablespoons kefir, buttermilk, or apple cider vinegar with the mother

1 1/2 Tablespoons Yeast

1 1/2 Tablespoons Salt

6 cups whole wheat pastry flour, or golden white flour

In a 6qt or larger lidded bucket or bowl, mix ingredients together in the order in which they are listed.  Mix well with a sturdy wooden spoon until a shaggy dough comes together, not too wet, but without any dry spots of flour.

Place lid on bucket or bowl, allow to sit in a warm spot, at room temp for 12-24 hours, dependent upon how well developed, or how much sourdough flavor, you like in your fermented dough.  I usually do 12 hours or overnight. 

After this rise/ferment time, place your bucket or bowl of dough into the refrigerator to chill.  Note that the dough will continue to ferment in the fridge, but at a much slower rate.  I usually chill my dough for 12-24 hours.

Preheat oven, baking stone, placed on rack in the center of the oven, and a small steam pan to 450 degrees.  Allow stone to preheat for 20-30 minutes for best results.

Remove chilled dough from fridge, and proceed to shape into loaves.  Dust the top of dough in the bucket with a layer of flour to help keep it from sticking to your hands.  Next, scoop a large grapefruit sized piece of dough out of bucket, cut or pinch off.

Place floured side of the piece of dough into the palm of your hand so it won’t stick, and begin to shape loaf by pulling up the edges into the middle, rotating a quarter turn each time.  Pinch together to seal.

Place loaf seam side down on a flour dusted towel, piece of parchment, cookie sheet, or directly on the counter.  Let rest and rise 40-60 min.  depending upon the temperature of your kitchen and your dough.  When ready your loaf should be slightly poofed, not doubled in size.

Gently brush loaves with tepid water to help achieve a chewy, delicious crust texture. Sprinkle with seeds if desired.  Slash loaves with razor blade or very sharp knife to allow steam to escape while baking, cutting in about a quarter of an inch deep.

With a large floured peel or spatula, carefully scoop loaves from their resting place, putting them confidently on the preheated baking stone, leaving room around the loaves  to rise as they bake.

Bake 25-30 min. until deeply golden,  and sound hollow when tapped lightly with fingers or spatula.  Do not under bake.

Remove from oven, place on cooling rack, allow to cool as long as you can before indulging.  Slice, serve, and enjoy fully.

*A few notes: 

This is my adaptation on the Artisan Bread in Five master recipe and technique.  I have been baking this type of bread for nearly 10 years, since the first book was published.  You will notice that I have added culture to the dough and a longer fermentation time to help the dough ferment more fully to achieve a more digestible loaf, and neutralize phytic acid content, according to traditional baking methods.  I love this method and this bread, and I highly recommend The Artisan Bread in Five if you would like to explore, and learn more about baking artisan bread.

http://artisanbreadinfive.com/

Making Komboucha Tea


“You’re Really Gonna Drink That???!!!!”

This tends to be the concerned consensus from many when they encounter my jars of komboucha tea fermenting on the homestead kitchen countertop.  Years ago, when I was gifted my first scoby aka, starter, these were the exact words my hubby exclaimed while vehemently shaking his head in disbelief.  If you have ever seen a komboucha starter, or SCOBY, mother, or jar of fermenting tea in action, you know that it looks a bit more like a science experiment, property of a resident mad scientist, or something gone horribly awry and long ago forgotten….however foreign it may look in the beginning, I guarantee you will soon be seeing it in a different light, once you learn what beautiful gifts komboucha has to offer.

We are now a komboucha family, yes, even my hubby who so strongly reacted to the whole idea of it.  Once you try komboucha tea and experience it’s powerful benefits of health and vitality you may soon find yourself a convert too.  So you may be wondering, what in the world is komboucha???  And what is all the fuss about???!

Komboucha is fermented tea.  It is made by brewing black or green tea, adding sugar, and a starter mushroom, SCOBY, mother, culture, organism, (it goes by many mystical names), and allowing it to ferment.  In short, it is magic in a jar.

Magic for your body, mind and spirit.  It uplifts, energizes, and heals on many different levels.  The tea is home to countless probiotics, good bacteria, enzymes, and antioxidants to help support, and balance your body.  It helps me feel clear, uplifted, energetic, and wholly functioning.  It also helps to cleanse your body of unwanted bacteria, organisms, viruses, and imbalance, bringing you into alignment, aiding digestion, and supporting your immunity.

All this in a sip.  Yes, and Amen.

Here are a few of the remarkable health benefits komboucha provides:

  • stabilizes blood sugar
  • analgesic, pain reliever, with antiarthritic  compounds, helping to remove toxins accumulated in joints that are causing pain and inflammation.
  • detoxifying, supports and cleanses the liver
  • assists in weight loss
  • balances digestive system, alleviates IBS symptoms, and heals leaky gut
  • anti-inflammatory
  • anti-toxin, contains a powerful yeast called, S. boulardii that binds with harmful pathogens within the body, keeping them from binding and attaching to the intestinal walls, and therefore allowing the body to eliminate them without harmful or damaging affects.
  • cancer preventative
  • supports our Immune systems
  • boosts energy
  • kidney stone preventative
  • enhances digestion, protects stomach lining
  • contains anti-biotic resistant probiotics

In short, komboucha tea may be considered a cure-all, or a wonderment in my world.  I have personally witnessed komboucha’s transformational powers within my own body, and those around me.  The general feeling of well being komboucha gives is enough for me to say,

“Yes, YES, I AM going to drink that!!!!!!”

And besides, it tastes delicious.  Much like sparking apple cider, or champagne.

MMMMMMmmmmmmmm…….

I do indulge in stemware on occasion when I serve myself and others komboucha.  I bring it along to gatherings to sip on when wine, or other alcoholic drinks are not speaking to my body.  It allows me to feel festive, vibrant, and clear, and able to toast to an empowered life and healthy body.


Getting Started

Making komboucha at home is a quick, simple process, and all you need are a few basic supplies.

  Gather

  • One gallon glass jar, or crock.  Just be sure your vessel has a wide mouth opening, and if using crockery, it is non-lead based.
  • A wooden or non-metallic spoon.
  • Breathable cloth napkin, paper towel, vintage handkerchief, or a piece of loosely woven cotton or linen fabric to fully cover the top of the jar, and is large enough to easily tie or fasten around the opening of the jar.*
  • Rubber band or twine large enough to fasten around the neck of the jar or crockery.
  • Starter culture (Mushroom, or SCOBY aka, symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast)

*A quick note about covering your komboucha, be sure that whatever you choose to cover your jar or crockery with is breathable, but not too loosely woven, as fruit flies can become an issue in warmer climates.  Hardware store, or craft store cheesecloth is not suitable as it is too loosely woven and can allow unwanted critters to infiltrate your tea.


Basic Komboucha

Makes 3 quarts

3 quarts non-chlorinated water

1 cup evaporated cane juice, sucanat, or other NON-GMO sugar*

4-5 tea bags, or teaspoons of loose leaf tea, I use black tea, orange pekoe, but you may also use green tea

1 Starter mushroom, or SCOBY

1 cup of fermented komboucha tea (saved back from previous batch)

*I use organic, non-gmo evaporated cane juice, as I feel strongly about the unknown affects gmo’s can inflict upon our bodies.  This is going to be a bit more expensive than regular white sugar, but in my opinion it is worth the investment in your health.  The bulk bin at your local food co-op may have the best price on this type of sugar.  I also do not use coconut sugar, as it is not a sustainable, renewable source of food.  Harvesting of coconut sugar comes from the flower of the tree, and therefore damages the reproductive cycle of the trees in the rainforest, in turn damaging our ecosystem.  It may be fashionable to use right now, but do your research and be sure that you are making a choice that aligns with your values.

Preparation

Wash utensils and crockery with hot, soapy water, dry and set aside.  In a large kettle on the stove, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil over high heat.  Add sugar, reduce heat to med-high and continue to boil for 5 min.

Remove kettle from heat source.  Add tea bags, or ball for loose leaf tea, steep for 15-20 min. remove tea bags.

Cover, and allow tea to cool to room temperature, this may take several hours or even overnight.

Pour cooled tea into 1 gallon jar or crock.

Add 1 cup reserved fermented komboucha tea to freshly prepared, cooled tea.

Place SCOBY or mushroom, on top of tea, shiny, smooth side up, rough darker side facing down.  If it sinks to the bottom of the jar, or vessel it’s ok, sometimes they do, and other times they stay on top.

Cover top of jar with cloth, fasten securely with rubber band or twine.

Keep komboucha jar undisturbed in a well ventilated, dark place at a temperature from 65-90 degrees for 6-10 days.*  The ideal temperature is 80-89 degrees, so some home brewers choose to invest in a heating belt, or brew belt, which can be obtained from a local brew store, or online.  Understand that if your temperature is much below the 80 degree mark, the fermentation time will be affected and may take longer to ferment.  Keep out of direct sunlight.

Begin checking your komboucha after day 4 of your ferment, especially if your space is consistently warm, near 80 degrees.  Do this by using a straw or a spoon to scootch the SCOBY or mushroom over on the top, to access the tea below.  You may just directly insert a straw to try a sip, as this is the easiest route to sample your komboucha, but a spoonful will also suffice, should you not have a straw handy.  Tea should be tart, not overly sweet, like iced tea, but it should not be over soured, or vinegary.  If tea tastes sweet, allow it to continue to ferment, checking every day or two to monitor the process.

The komboucha tea is ready when it tastes like sparkling apple cider, or champagne, with a slight bite to it.  You may allow it to ferment to the tartness you desire, remembering not to allow too long, or vinegary ferment, as this will contain less health benefits as the good bacterias and yeasts begin to die off over time as the food supply (sugar) is gradually reduced.

Your tea should also be a bit bubbly or naturally effervescent, as the good yeast creates a lovely gentle carbonation full of bubbly probiotics.

When the komboucha tea has brewed to your desired taste, pour it into bottles designed for naturally brewed beverage storage.  You may want to invest in some home brew bottles, or repurpose store-bought komboucha bottles.  Whatever you use, just be sure that it is designed to contain a fermented beverage and will allow for natural pressure release so you do not end up with exploding bottles.  Store prepared komboucha in refrigerator.  It will last up to 1 year or longer, but will eventually turn to vinegar over a long period of time.  The vinegar can then be used as any vinegar, for salad dressings, vegetables and the like.

Save your SCOBY and 1 cup of prepared komboucha tea to start your next batch.  Your SCOBY or mushroom will reproduce, one new culture per batch of tea, growing either on top of the previous SCOBY or floating separately on the top of the tea.  Separate your SCOBYs by gently peeling the top layer off, which will be lighter in color and visible when you look at the side of the mushroom.  If the new SCOBY is floating separately, then simply place it in it’s own fresh batch of sweetened tea and let the magic happen.  You can also share your extra SCOBY with a friend, or continue to increase the amount of komboucha tea you are brewing.  Begin a new batch and continue to enjoy freshly home brewed komboucha tea, either plain or with a second ferment.

Second Ferment

A second ferment of komboucha is a flavorful, quick and easy way to play with the flavor profiles of your komboucha tea.  Most of the commercially produced komboucha tea has enjoyed a second ferment, which adds the color and flavor to the regular komboucha that you see on the store shelves.  It is quick and easy, to do, you may do an entire batch or just a little, whatever suits your fancy.

My favorite way to add a little fun flavor to our komboucha, and is honestly the kids’ favorite way to drink komboucha tea, (especially when they were younger), is to simply add some frozen berries whole or pureed, to the prepared komboucha tea and allow it to ferment another 1-3 days.  Bottle and imbibe with joy!

For more information on using fruit juices and second ferments please visit Donna Schwenk’s amazing website at http://www.culturedfoodlife.com and enjoy the wisdom she shares in her book, Cultured Food for Health.

 

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