Stand Upon Grace

Homesteading with heart~Cultivating the art of intentional living

Category: learn

Ugly Muffins

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The brutally honest truth is this:  Ugly Muffins happen.

There are good muffin days when everything comes out from the oven Pinterest- worthy, and then there are the days when the promise of a new recipe idea falls a bit flat in the middle, hence the ugly muffin.  Hmmm.

Most of the time, the ugly muffin gets very little credit for it’s role in the creation process, they are smuggled into lunch pails, eaten hastily in the kitchen, or disguised under a lovely layer of ganache.  God forbid you get company for coffee on an ugly muffin day.  Yikes.

But consider this, if it weren’t for the ugly muffin, the trial and error, the learning of the process there would be no glorious mountain peak muffins.  It is but for the trying, the learning in creating, that we figure out how to tweak, reconfigure, and begin again.

So today, in the early morning light of my homestead kitchen, I am thankful for the ugly muffins, and a chance to begin again.

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?

Eat Well. Be Well.

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There is a connection with how we choose to nourish our bodies to both our energy levels and vibrancy.  When we eat beautiful whole foods, we have more energy to live and enjoy life and do the work we are called to do.  We radiate health and wellbeing both inwardly and outwardly.  In contrast when we eat prepackaged, industry made, processed food, our energy levels wane and we have less to share with ourselves, our families, and community.

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If we want to be well, we must eat well.

For many of us this can be confusing with all the mixed messages from the media and government.  The act of demonizing certain foods in order to make monetary gain from another has become commonplace in modern society, with certain “science” to back it up.

However, what is now being discovered by doctors, health, wellness, and nutrition pioneers who are invested and investing in, privately-funded, independent research is this:  We are much healthier and vibrant beings when we eat an organic, plant-based and naturally pastured diet.

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Processed food has got to go to feel amazingly vibrant, holistically energetic, and live our best, healthiest lives.

So let’s keep it simple.

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Eat Well.  Be Well.

Nothing crazy here.  No fads, no gimmicks, just pure, simple, honest food.  Food in it’s most natural form, as it was intended to be.  Not laboratory created.  God created.  Grown in dirt, raised on grass.  Simple glory.  Farm to table.  No stops in between.

Whole food, traditional food, prepared by hands and hearts.

This is what it means to Eat Well.  Be Well.

 

 

Why I Love Homeschooling

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We are coming to the end, if you can ever truly call it that, of our third year of homeschooling already.  What I mean by that is, when you begin homeschooling the learning never really stops.  It doesn’t come to an abrupt halt on any given day, there is a gentle learning that begins to weave itself into the everyday.  Even when we are on “Summer Break,” there are projects going, telescopes gazing into night skies, a yearning and quest for knowledge of how the world around us works.  Learning is interwoven into everything that we do.


This is why I love homeschooling.  

I have been reluctant to share in this space much about our homeschool adventure.  We have been learning, nurturing, and gently shielding a new life as a homeschool family, here in our nest.  Afraid that opening up to the truth and beauty that we have experienced would somehow get spoiled by the big bad wolf of public opinion.  However, at this point in the journey, our freshly hatched homeschool is gaining strength and beginning to open it’s wings.  I want to encourage others with our unique homeschool experience, our growth as a homeschool family.  It’s not perfect, such as life is not, but it has been miraculous.


 This is why I love homeschooling.  

Looking back to the beginning, we jumped into the deep end of the pool.  I had two boys who had just completed sixth and second grade who were failing to thrive in a public school environment.  They were drowning in the deep end.  The oldest of the two had shut down.  He went to school with his hoodie up and would not take it down, he would not speak, or participate… his concerned teacher called me several times a week throughout that sixth grade school year.  At home he kept his hoodie up when possible, stayed in his room with his door closed, didn’t talk unless necessary, could no longer smile easily.  The youngest missed days of school, with stomach aches, and mystery illnesses.  He came home from school every day a mess, each afternoon resulting in a meltdown of epic proportions.  He was doing ok academically, but there were a few things beginning to slip, not because of his efforts, but due to scheduling at his school.  He felt helpless, and felt like a failure…he was in third grade.

The older two boys, the eldest having just finished his sophmore year at the local high school, and the second to oldest, had just finished up junior high.  Both were treading water.  The oldest boys’ attitude was in the crapper.  He felt trapped in a pointless existence, he was making choices that did not reflect the truth of who he is/was as a person.  Our second oldest son was struggling academically.  He is a kinestetic learner and a fact memorizing curriculum was not serving him, or honoring who he was created to be.  It became obvious that the time was upon us to make a change in our family.  We had always been a very close-knit open and loving family, but at that moment in time, we felt disconnected, disjointed, and just plain ‘ol fallin’ apart.


 It was time to build a life-raft.  Our family was getting washed away with the current, and my man and I could feel the sand sifting away from under us.  We decided to try homeschooling for a year and see if it would be an answer to our prayers.  The water was rising fast, we had to leap.

That first year was amazing on every level.  That is not to say it was easy.  It was anything but.  This is an honest pulling back of the curtains here folks.  God used homeschooling to rebuild our family.  Nearly every day that first year I was brought to my knees.  I battled with my own fears, doubts, and abilities.  I read and researched everything I could get my hands on about homeschooling, and the “right” way to do it.  I battled hard for my boys’ hearts.  I prayed consistently.  I set alarms on my phone for hard stops for prayer, three times a day–9, noon, and six.  I hardly had to wait for the alarm to go off, as most days between alarms I prayed without ceasing.


Throughout the hard moments though, there were moments of sheer beauty, complete joy.  I felt fulfilled as a mama again, having a nest full of hatchlings, we were starting over again.  I began to see our boys slowly reconnecting, rediscovering, and rebuilding each other.  I was witnessing a miracle.  Everyday.  Little glorious steps of triumph in the right direction, in the coming together, beginning again.


This is why I love homeschooling.  

Each day we have a chance to begin again.  We learn together, we play together, we eat 3 meals a day together gathered round the old table, we pray together giving thanks for each other and each blessing.  Oh, and we laugh together, the peals of joy weave throughout our days.  We explore creation around us living and learning immersed in nature.  Homesteading and homeschooling are a natural pairing, each and every day there are opportunities to learn and grow, hands on, in real time.  I am able to teach, to offer opportunities for each child to learn and explore in his own way, at his own pace.  We can dive deep into subjects and projects that light us up, bring us joy.  Our routine is flexible offering time to fully immerse ourselves in the process.  We pulse gently together to the rhythms of the seasons becoming more fully aware and sensitive to the cyclical life that we live in.


This is why I love homeschooling.

I encourage you, if you have ever wondered about homeschooling, or worried about homeschooling, to pray about it.  Ask yourself and your spouse if this life could be right for you.  We were like many others who, liked the idea, but didn’t know where to start, or if we were even qualified to teach our own children.  Remember what I said about doubts and fears…   

We have dove right smack dab into the deep end, built a life-raft, and are sailing together, each day building a life of meaning and joy.  The sparkle has come back into my boys’ eyes and hearts, we reach for each other once again, unafraid and loving fully, openly.  Their hearts have opened back up, and I wouldn’t trade any moment of our journey into and through homeschooling.  Even the hard ones….

Each and every moment has knit us into a stronger, more capable family, able to weather all of life’s moments, and embrace, even celebrate the messy imperfectness of who we are, of who God created us to be together.


I am here to tell you that YES! you can do it!

NO! it won’t always be easy,

but WOW!, it will be amazing.

…and who knows it just may be the miracle that you never knew you needed.

This is why I love homeschooling!

Just Breathe

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh……..

I can begin to exhale.

Hello folks, I have missed you.

I took a very unexpected blogging hiatus, never expecting it to last this long!  Let me just say, that growing a child, cultivating a soul, a constant weeding and watering, pouring your heart into another and watching them bloom and produce fruit of their own selves is quite a thing.  As many of you know we have four boys, ages ranging now from 11-19.  Graduating our eldest son, Caleb, our first-born babe, our first sprout, our first hatchling, last spring was quite a thing.

Quite.a.thing.

Let me just start out by saying Caleb is doing great!  Living fully, embracing dreams, and climbing mountains, exactly what he is meant to be doing.





Mama on the other hand, has been climbing her own mountains.  We all have.

No one talks about the firstborn taking flight from the nest, I guess you could say it caught us a bit off guard when our first hatchling sprouted feathers and flew.  One invests so much time and energy in the hatching, nesting, and growing, you don’t realize that the time is NOW, when it comes.   It’s taken some doing to catch our breath as we have watched him leap onto the edge of the nest, fully expand his newly found wings, and dive head long into flight.

whew.  A mama catches and holds breath for a while as she watches her fledgling flyer learn to glide and navigate wind current.  He may dip, he may lose a little control, but the wings ever expand and elevate the new flyer back up.  He is learning to trust and strengthen those new wings.

Brings a mama to her knees more times than she wants to admit.  We get to learn to trust and strengthen our own wings alongside, albeit, nest-bound, our new flyer.  We get to keep the nest warm and eye on horizon, looking out for that speck in the sky, a sign that those soaring with eagles may need a perch, even for a moment, to always have a soft place to land, a safe-haven for when our new flyer needs a rest.  Embrace the soaring and also the need to connect heart to heart for a quick shot of respite.

All this is not to say that life has stopped around here.

Oh no, no, no-siree, quite the opposite, really.

It feels as if all of living has been thrown into hyper-speed, trees whizzing by blurry, wind rushing through hair flying out behind as if we have toppled from the nest, unwittingly, not realizing that not only can we fly, but we NEED to fly!

NOW!!!! 

The urgency is immediate.

SPREAD YOUR WINGS, the ground is coming up fast!!!!

Amazing how one forgets to unfurl our own wings until it becomes necessary.  We all can, and we all shall, unfurl the graceful beauty of forgotten wings.  Trust the wind current will catch and carry us all up into clear blue skies where we will soar with eagles over mountains.


And exhale, it’s time to just breathe.

Amen.

JOY

I choose JOY.

Today and in days to come.

JOY in little things.

In simple everyday moments.

JOY in each and every moment.

Spine tingling bone aching JOY.

JOY right to the very core of my being,

to the soul of who I am.

JOY is the expression of not only who,

but why I am.

JOY.

 

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Wherever you go, go with all of your heart

Wholehearted. 

In the remaking of my blog I was contemplating letting go of my subtitle, my meaning of what this blog was when I started writing nearly two years ago.  After all, we grow and change, maybe this no longer fits my mission, my statement, my purpose.  Maybe its not glamorous enough, or maybe it is the wrong target audience. Maybe its just not me any more. Maybe….

All of this kind of boils down to who am I, and is it enough? 

And bigger yet, should I continue to put myself out there, bare my soul, my heart, be vulnerable to the masses to show that we all really are ok, that we are enough, just as we were created to be.

Imperfect in an imperfect world that screams for perfection.

Talk about an oxymoron.

Let me tell you about my week.

Today is the first day for a week that I haven’t met the sunrise with oceans of tears and desperate knees on hardwood begging for a new beginning.  Hard raspy whispers for release from the death grip of collapsed lung heaving desperate soul language that cannot be formed into words.  My failings spilling out like guts of a lost cause.  Heart shattered, soul pierced pain searing through like such a hot knife, looking desperate wild-eyed for release.  Feeling as if it is too late to right the wrongs, too late to fix the broken.

Just too late.

Too late to go to the baseball game that disjointed and fractured a seventeen year old man child.  Let me tell you when that child is laying in an ER room after a wild ambulance ride, and a wilder mama driving hard to meet where she failed, he is all child and no man, in spite of a beard.  When you walk in expecting the smiling twinkle in his eye kiddo and you are met with incoherent pain, droves of medical professionals, IVs, and screams it shakes you hard.  Rocks to your core when you will that child you birthed to breathe when the flashing screens and lines go blank, even if just for a few seconds.  Those seconds link you to the eternal.  Throws you back into the birthing room, when you were willing life hard fought to come forth and live.  Paining for that life, pushing pulling willing anything for that life.  Your life for that life.  Your body for that body.  Your soul for that soul.  In an ER room where suddenly it feels as if everything is in HD, the color, sound, smell of it so loud and nauseous, so raw, so on the line it can bring you to your knees the reality and fragility of it all.  The veil is thin here.  The dance of the eternal waltzes by, and this mama gasps for air.  Desperate to cling onto anything, since she was barely hanging by a thread to start.

Broken.  One word to define by.  One small word that says so much.

Fractured.  Bones fractured, lives fractured, fragmented, all changed in a moment.  Unsuspecting souls marching through ordinary when suddenly fractures appear out of nowhere.  That strong independent seventeen year old jaw, fractured.  A dream of starting varsity team, fractured.  Supper making, fractured into emergency.  A blow to reality as real as a heavy-weight punch.

How can you still be wholehearted when you are broken?  Fractured into pieces.  Your strong now weak, your whole now fissured in two.  How do you take your broken bleeding heart with you wherever you go?

We break in this life sometimes.

Sometimes this life breaks us.

Cracks us open dynamite wide, exposing the vulnerable raw of hearts.

How do you put the pieces back together humpty-dumpty like?  We know that story didn’t end well with all the kings horses and all the kings men, couldn’t put humpty back together again.

There is only one king who can take the pieces of a broken heart and place them gently together again.

He was made in our image.  Sent to walk this earth.  Sent to break.  Sent to die for us.  To redeem our lost souls.

God knew we couldn’t do it on our own. 

He knew that we needed to experience what great love is.  He knew He would have to go through the birthing, the laboring, the bloody deliverance of it all.  Right there in the dirt and the dark.  God birthed light into a dark world on a dark night to a teenage girl.  He pained and labored alongside.  God watched and waited knowing the pain that would come, but also knowing the joy and the birth of the incomparable love that would come as well.  The eternal parent.  The original parent.  Comfort comes in knowing that God knows my broken mama heart.  He cries alongside me, He holds me tender when no one else will or can.  He soothes fears and scars.  He meets me where I am.  In the dirty, in the messy, in the chaos of being a mama to four boys, a wife to a loving husband, among dirty dishes, and dirty sheets, and mountains of laundry.  He meets me there.  In all His loving glory He covers my mess.  He tells me that yes, I am enough. When I am bone tired, heart fractured, gasping breath on bathroom floor, He gently lifts me up, calls me by name, holds my hand and my heart until it can sturdy and still, and puts me back on my feet again.  Every day, over and over.  Because that is what parents do.  We comfort our children when they are hurting, we love them through the ugly, the messy, the things we call life.  We take joy in their triumphs, we cheer them on, we strengthen where they are weak, we share it all.   It becomes a sacred holy dance that moves us through days.  Holy ground that wells up under feet that walk through ordinary days, not reserved for buildings or temples.  Building Holy in homes, in lives, in families.

So during holy week one mama lived through a little hell.

Holy.

Holy ground under all our steps.

Not restricted, freely Holy, right here, right now. 

Steps on worn kitchen linoleum, in chipped hardwood, the sanitized sterilized ER.

Holy in the moment.  Because wherever you go, I go also.

Wholehearted.

We break.

Fracture.

For reasons beyond our control.  But in this breaking vulnerable we are given an opportunity to be put back together.  New again.  Stained glass heart shards carefully placed pieces of puzzle artfully and creatively arranged into an entirely new beautiful expression of who we are.  Made whole again.  Made beautiful to shine radiant color in light.

  So yes, wherever you go, go with all of your beautiful stained glass heart.

Wholehearted again.

  It is who you were made to be.

The Homemade Homestead Apothecary~ Tea Love

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Making tea is a wonderful start on your path to herbal healing and wellness. Tea can be a wonderful soother for a busy, stressful days.  Making ‘tea time’ a family tradition is a wonderful way to include the kiddos, as is learning, gathering, growing, blending and preparing herbs and herb for tea.

The boys love to blend their favorites.  Their intuition often amazes me in their selection of herb.  It is always fun to see what they choose, and gives me a little insight into where they are emotionally, and physically.  A wise Mama knows she can use all the help she can get….especially when things get tough, boys often choose not to communicate, but their herbal language speaks volumes.

Often we have tea in the evening after supper, before bedtime.  It has become an accidental tradition, that my boys will ask for, especially after very hectic days.  It is a wonderful gift to connect as a family over steaming mugs of herbal tea prepared and brewed with love.

To continue with our Homemade Homestead Apothecary series I would like to list a few of our favorite homestead herbal tea blends.

Davey’s Bear Tea

This is my youngest son, David’s, absolute favorite tea.  It is based on the Celestial Seasonings blend, SleepyTime Tea, hence the name ‘Bear Tea.’  If you have ever seen the box for Sleepytime Tea you will know that it has a cute bear in a nightcap sleeping peacefully in his chair in front of the fireplace.  Sounds lovely to me.

This tea is wonderfully soothing to the nervous system, it is gentle and relaxing to body and spirit.  If I were going to name it, I would probably call it Peace Tea because of its peaceful and rejuvenating effect.  It soothes tension and anxiety, and is exceptional at repairing frazzled nerves after an overstimulating day.

It is simple to blend and prepare as it only has three herbs.

To make the tea you will need:

chamomile flowers

spearmint

lemongrass

Prepare tea with the steeping method, as described here.

  • You can blend a big batch ahead if you like, or you can custom blend your tea right into a reusable tea bag or ball for each pot or cup of tea.
  • Blend these three herbs in equal parts for the basic ‘Bear Tea’ blend.  For example if I am making just one cup of tea, I will use 1/3 t. of each herb in my tea bag.
  • Serve gently sweetened with raw honey, if desired.
  • To mix a pint, or quart, simply divide the jar into thirds, by pouring in one herb at a time, into 1/3 of the jar, trying to keep the amounts equal.  Pour the jar into a bowl to stir.  Once the herb is well blended in the bowl, simply scoop it back into the jar, place a lid on the jar to store in a cool, dark place.
  •  Makes wonderful gifts for friends and family.

Original Yogi Tea

This is the original tea blend as given by Yogi Bhajan.  It is a very healing and balancing blend of herbs and spices that is rejuvenating to the entire system.  It is my favorite tea.  It is a warming chai tea that is wonderful in the winter months, and around a campfire in the summer!  It makes a big batch, so is great for a family, or company.

Prepare tea with the simmer method as described here

In a large kettle with a lid, add 2 quarts of water.  Bring to a boil and add:

20 whole cloves

20 whole green cardamom pods

20 whole black peppercorns

5 sticks cinnamon, or about 1 heaping teaspoon of cinnamon bark chips

1 heaping teaspoon dried ginger, or one fresh root, sliced

  • Simmer for 20-30 minutes, then add:
  • Add 1 tablespoon of any black tea, or roobios tea, let steep for 10 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, strain, and  add 1 quart of milk, heat back up to the boiling point.
  • Enjoy with a little raw honey.
  • It is also exceptional with coconut milk, almond milk, or oat milk, if you do not use dairy.  You may also omit the milk and drink it plain.

I also found a recipe for a single serving if you are the only tea drinker in your home.  I usually make a big kettle to sip all day, but sometimes a smaller batch is nice.  Here it is.

3 whole cloves

4 green cardamom pods

1/2 stick cinnamon

1 ginger root sliced, or 1/2 t. dried ginger

1/4 t. ground black pepper

10 oz. water

1/4 t. black tea, or 1 t. roobios tea

1/2 c. milk

raw honey to taste

  • Use the simmer method to prepare this tea.
  • Simmer spices in water for 10-15 min.
  • Add tea and steep for 2 min.
  • Add milk and heat back up to the boiling point, do not boil.
  • Remove from heat, strain, and add honey to taste.

 

Mama’s Bedtime Tea Blend

I have recently started using valerian in my bedtime cup of chamomile tea.  To help make it more palatable, I have also added some spearmint echoing the recipe for Davey’s Bear Tea.   Though I am finding I like the taste of valerian just fine, which tells me that the herb resonates with my body.  I feel this tea is appropriate for adults and teens who need help relaxing for sleep, and also battle with insomnia, but not necessary for younger children.  It would be an extreme case that chamomile would not be strong enough for a child’s restlessness.
Valerian is a very strong sedative so please take care when using it.  This herbal blend is extremely  relaxing.  I would not drink it any other time except when I am ready for sleep.  I have been known to fall asleep in my large cup of tea before it is gone!  It is also good for those nights when sleep just won’t come, or is fitful.
Valerian is has the ability to soothe nerves, and release anxiety.  It is very calming especially when paired with chamomile.  Spearmint is just plain ol’ yummy, and good for digestion.  It helps to tie the others together and makes a very smooth cup of tea.

To Make the Tea you will need:

chamomile flowers

spearmint

valerian root, cut

Prepare this tea using the steeping method.

  • I usually just make it cup by cup.
  • Using the rule of thirds again, I make it the same as Davey’s Bear Tea above.
  •  Use equal parts of all three herbs.
  •  1 teaspoon of herb to 1 cup, or 8 ounces of water.

 

Afternoon Aaahhh…Tea

This is a perfectly blended tea best enjoyed with friendly conversation.  It is relaxing and soothing, calms anxiety, and releases stress, tension, and nervous energy, restoring balance to mind, body, and soul.  Kind of like a good friend.  So call a girlfriend, brew up a cup and chat away.

To make the tea you will need:

jasmine green tea

lavender Flowers, whole

Prepare this tea using the steeping method.

  • To 1 c. of water add 1 teaspoon of Jasmine Green Tea, 1/2 teaspoon lavender flowers.
  • Gently sweeten with raw honey if desired.

 

Mama’s Healing Tea

This herbal blend is our homesteads go-to for colds, and flus.  It is has antiviral and antibiotic properties, it is calming and soothing, and high in vitamin C.

To make the tea you will need: 

1 t. comfrey root, cut and dried

1 t. ginger root, fresh or dried

1/4 t. whole cloves

1/4-1/2 cinnamon stick, or 1/4-1/2 t. cinnamon bark

1 t. rose hips

1-2 T. lemon or orange juice, freshly squeezed

raw honey, to taste

Prepare this tea using the simmer method.

  • To 2 cups of water add herbs and bring to a simmer.
  • Simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Strain and add freshly squeezed lemon or orange juice.
  • Sweeten with raw honey.
  • Sip all day, for ease of cold and flu symptoms and enhance general well-being.
  • You may replace the comfrey with echinecea if desired.

Enjoy blending your own homemade homestead teas with your family, and who knows, maybe you will start an accidental tradition of your own on the path to wellness!

 

Kale Chips

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Kale in last summer’s homestead garden

Happy Spring!

My body is just a hollerin’ for some springtime food.  The sun is shining, days are longer, and I NEED veggies!!!  The big bag of kale has been calling my name at our local grocery store, so I went in to get one and they were all out!  Just my luck!  So I had to wait for the next truck.  Thankfully when I stopped by the store yesterday, they had one bag left!  Apparently, I am not the only one whose body is crying out for fresh veggies!  Kale is a dark green leafy cruciferous veggie that is high in fiber, calcium, vitamin B6, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K.  It is also an awesome source of minerals, copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.  It is high in antioxidants, carotenoids, and flavonoids, and other anti-cancerous goodies.  WhhoooWee!  Now, that is a nutritional powerhouse!  No wonder that after a long winter, my deprived body is ready for some all out nutrition!  I literally had to keep myself from drooling in the produce aisle!  I should also mention, that although Kale is a nutritional powerhouse, it also can be hard to digest raw for some.  There are also some studies out there that say kale, along with some other dark green veggies, when eaten raw, may suppress thyroid function when consumed in large quantities.  Kale also contains oxalates, a naturally occurring compound that may interfere with absorption of calcium.  So again, finding balance in your diet is key here.  Adding kale to a well-rounded diet will bring many benefits, but overdoing it, can bring you out of balance nutritionally.  Moderation, and perhaps cooking, is the key to enjoy all the wonderful benefits of kale.  Today I will be making Kale Chips.  Kale chips are an easy way to add kale to your family’s diet.  They are an awesome substitute for potato chips.  They accompany lunch with that delicious crunch we (I) crave with a sandwich.  They are also great for the kiddos to grab and go, and in hubby’s lunch pail, and they are super simple to make.  Another winner!  Mama scores again.  🙂

Kale Chips

fresh kale, washed and chopped

olive oil

redmond’s real salt, or sea salt

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.  Drizzle kale with olive oil, toss to coat well.  Spread evenly in a single layer on baking sheet.  Bake for 1 hour, or until kale is crispy and golden.  Remove from oven.  Sprinkle with salt of your choice.  Let cool, and share with your family.

*you may also play with flavors by using smoked sea salt, adding garlic…either freshly pressed, or powder, paprika, herbs, etc.   Have fun, be brave, be bold!  I would add herbs, spices and garlic before baking, save the salt to sprinkle on after(Original recipe from goop.com)

Easter Miracle & Blessing

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Spring awakens creativity.  What better time to enjoy the flow than Easter.  We decided to ‘get our Easter on’ on Good Friday.  This year, has been a little precarious to make big plans, with just launching into springtime schedules, Hubby’s workload has been a bit heavy, and Mama’s just trying to figure out how to make it all flow together.  SO… Mama decided to let go of the big plans…..i.e. big dinner, lots of decorations, lots of guests, household preparations, baking, cooking, and baking and cooking some more.  It was then that I realized, I was a bit let down by the letting go.  Sometimes it seems we put so much emphasis on the plans that the actual meaning gets lost in the commotion.  I was a girl without a country.  I will confess, I took a moment or two to pout greive, what I thought was the loss of celebration.  Yeah, not pretty, not real adult-like, but I did try to keep my tantrum to myself.  I didn’t need to share the ugly with friends and family.  It was a bit silly, but in hindsight, I see that I needed the process of grieving the letting go to be able to fully embrace the coming blessing.  I am completely and unequivocally, a work in progress.  By letting go of the holiday expectations, I was able to open myself to the flow of Spiritual creativity.  Wow, was it an amazing ride!  Always better, deeper, more, than what I could have ever brought to fruition on my own.  As the week unfolded, spring-like creativity began to bud again within my soul.  I could feel it there, awakening, stirring, waiting.  Embers became spark, stirred by Spirit, spark began to burn and ignite a creative energy of which I have not been moved by for quite some time.  This was beyond my control.  The burn was so deep, and passion so driven, it just began to bubble up out from the silent, sleeping winter depths.  By Good Friday I was up before sunrise, ready to launch full tilt into full-force, unstoppable creativity.  As soon as their little peepers were open, I informed the kiddos of our plans for the day.  The boys were excited to have a creative outlet.   We were making natural easter egg dye for coloring our eggs, we would be going out to adventure and scavenge for ‘found’ natural decorations, twigs, abandoned nests (they tend to blow out of the trees in the springtime here), pussy willows, and whatever other treasures we could find.  We were also making mini edible nests filled with candy eggs, and had some hot-cross buns on the to-do list.  ….Mama’s back, kids.  Let me explain.  When my boys were little, we were always making, exploring, creating, and learning together.  It was how we lived.  Art was a way of life, a daily part of living, a soul expression, not only as an individual, but also as a family. Somewhere along the busyness and the stresses of daily life, public school, sports, and sometimes just plain survival, I lost touch with some parts of my creative soul.  I just didn’t have the extra energy.  The kids didn’t either.  However, through blogging, writing, and becoming an active photographer again, the creativity has begun to surge back up from within, and we all know, that when Mama is inspired the entire house is inspired!  I decided to make an Easter skirt, as my searching the thrift stores left me without an Easter dress this year.  I had not indulged in an Easter dress for so long, but I had a calling back to a tradition from childhood this year.  Every year, my sister and I would get a new dress for Easter.  It was always an exciting time of celebration for us as we were growing up.  Tradition tugged at my heart, but as Spirit would have it, I would not find a new dress within my budget.  Creativity stirred.  I had my sewing stuff out already from making some aprons earlier in the week.  I began to design and sew.  As the flow of creativity would have it, the day moved along in a wave surging with energy and passion.  The creating was absolutely contagious.  We were unstoppable.  All four boys, and their Mama.  By afternoon we had colored eggs, made nests, found some lovely natural decorations, sewed, and had found each other again in the making, doing, and creating.  It is a big part of who we are as a family, or perhaps who we were, that we had been longing to connect with again.  Each of us highly creative beings, creating and making together, elbow to elbow, side by side, all jumbled up on top of one another in our little house….pure heaven.  We are all our best selves when this is how we are. The flow that happens, the absolute outpouring of love that happens, when we enter into the creative flow together, just blows me away.  It is like an engine, each of us a part that serves a purpose.  When each part of the whole is creating and entered into their flow, we work together in harmony in an unstoppable rhythmic force of love.  Humming in perfect synchronicity.  In making and creating together we found each other again.  We connected as a family  in ways that I had wondered if they were lost, a part of our past.  I keep thinking that we need to embrace the growing and the moving on, as we do, but there is something to be said for who we are, as individuals, and as a family.  That doesn’t change.  It is imprinted on our DNA, it is who we were designed to be…together.  FAMILY.  An amazing gift of finding ourselves by letting go, is our Easter miracle and blessing this year.  And again, I am thankful.

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