Friday, October 29, 2010

First wood stove fire of the season

Sharing a bit of my morning with you

First fire of the season

The First Fire

The first fire in the wood stove each fall is a spiritual experience for me, it beckons an awakening of a quietude that is lost during the hot summer. This one small happening brings with it a flood of emotions that are connected deeply to the things I love the most in life. Memories of children sitting on the floor surrounded by toys, laughing at the popping of the wood as they made play horses jump and play people do chores. There are precious memories of little grandbabies sleeping soundly in the cradle, snuggled tightly under home made quilts, their tiny rosy cheeks begging to be kissed ever so gently. As I sit in front of this first fire of the season, I think about all the quiet evenings that are yet to be born. Conversations between Emery and I that are like the finest treasures. This little stove will be the place where steaming mugs of hot cocoa and pancakes on Sunday mornings are made.
This morning as I sit spinning the last of the orange silk and merino blend, I listen to the noisy crows outside my window, calling to one another. Perhaps they are talking to each other about the first fire in our stove too, a sure sign that winter is not that far away.
Deeply I sigh and thank God for His rich and wonderful blessings in my life. Last night we celebrated Steven and Priscilla's birthdays. Laughter around the table, good food, 2 three year olds with lots of energy dancing together hand in hand. Two babies being passed around with honest joy from each recipient of this honor to hold and snuggle the newest additions to the family. Emery and I, sitting tall, so proud of our children and grandchildren. With Gods help we have raised up another generation that will each in their own way, make this world a better place. This first fire, is a holy experience for me, a time to give thanks, to count blessings and to re-affirm all the reasons we live this simple life.
1 Thessalonians 5:16 Be joyful always;

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My Day




Breakfast on the porch, birds singing, sun shinning on the trees and the wet morning grass. A bit of quiet before my day gets busy.
A little girl singing loudly on that same porch, fairy wings on her back. Her imagination an inspiration. Melanie resting on the couch, still recovering and what a blessing it is to be able to help her out. She is not able to lift the children yet so staying here with me while Casi works is best for her. I will keep her from doing too much, like most mothers will do. Yen, sleeping in the crib...serene. A small child sweetness.
Wood stove cleaned and ready to use when the first frost arrives. A winters worth of candles made and hanging from the peg board. Spiced soap curing, ready to be used for gifts when the holidays arrive. Knitting projects done for the Waldorf dolls that will be done in time for Christmas. Almost all the Shetland wool is spun up for when I have time to knit myself a sweater. Emery spent a morning not too long ago, collecting pine cones for me to have for crafts and for starting a fire in the stove.
The afternoon has flown by. It is now early evening and the sky is darkening as the sun bids me good-bye for the day.
Walking out to the garden for some herbs for tonight's supper, I stop my work for just a moment to breathe in the stillness of the moment. To soak in the wonder of dusk. The chickens have not gone to roost for the night, but are still scratching around for that one more bug to eat. I glance up to scan the tops of the black walnut and cottonwood trees, a Great Horned Owl has taken up residence in one of those trees each night for the past few days, on the hunt for a meal or two.
In the garden I notice my red cabbage is once again growing, no sign of "Peter Rabbit" in my garden. Could it be he has become victim of the cycle of nature ?
The candles glow in the window as I walk slowly towards the house. A gentle breeze blows at my back and the first star shines in the sky. I smile to myself that this simple life suits me just fine. No fancy clothes, no pedicures or manicures for me. No glossy magazines gracing my table to draw my thoughts away from what my needs are. I like it easy and simple and have no plans on changing that. Life is just too good just the way it is.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Well Needed Day of Rain

Storm clouds brewing most of the day and then as if by some miracle, the sky parted and sunshine arrived for a bit.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Just A Photo


The moon is gorgeous tonight so had to snap a photo or two to share with you. Passing along some wonderful news too. Melanie is home and doing very well. Mei-Ling has an extraordinary amount of compassion for a small child, her life experience is not many in years, but great in depth. When Melanie first got home, Mei-Ling sat beside her mother, tenderly held her hand and told her mommy that she will be o.k.
In the car on the way to the hospital yesterday, she asked me where her mommy was and I said in the hospital and this little person said to me, "Mimi, we should pray for her." We did just that !

What A Week !

It's been a wild week. Monday I ended up at the Doctors, that cold I had the end of August kept hanging on, it would respond to my herbal treatments, and symptoms would go away, then come back. Finally, I realized it had turned into a sinus infection and decided to just get some medication and be done with it. Tuesday I just laid low, babying myself a bit. Wednesday Melanie came over with the children but she wasn't feeling all that great and had a bloody nose. Very early in the morning, 3 a.m to be exact, we get a call from Casi, that Melanie is having chest pains and can't catch her breath. The ambulance is called. Casi stays with the children and tries to sleep while I head off to the hospital with Melanie. Casi has to be to work in the morning. Melanie has a CAT scan, blood work etc and it appears her gallbladder is the culprit. She is admitted to the hospital for more testing and pain management. Being diabetic for 20 years complicates any illness also.
I head home about 7:30 in the morning to watch the two children while Casi heads off to work. One shaken young man. Worried about the love in his life. They do an Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography around noon on Melanie and discover her gallbladder is 100% non functioning. She had surgery yesterday at noon to remove the gallbladder, hopeful they can do it laparoscopically, a bit of concern since her pancreas is dead. Fortunately they can do it with the scope and all is well. She was back in her room by 3:30 and doing fine now.
The children have been so good. So much fun and so sweet. I feel like today I can breathe a bit easier knowing Melanie is on the road to recovery.
I praise God for His tender watch care over my family and His mercy towards us.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Simple Life




A simple life has less to do with taking inventory of what we own as far as possessions, but more to do with why we acquire all that we do. A simple outlook on life, combined with a desire to live free from the burden of "must have's" is what living simply is about on the most basic level. Its about not having to own or create things to get a reaction from others. Its about daily taking count of the good things in our lives that have nothing to do with material wealth. Our health, the relationships we have with our loved ones, the ability to enjoy Gods marvelous creation. The joy in being comfortable in silence and not tormented by racing thoughts. The wonder of sitting on a square patch of bare earth and discovering something new or seeing something very ordinary as extraordinary. This is what a simple life is all about.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Chill In The Air...Makes Me Think About Our Thanksgiving Plans

Windows open, but there is a chill in the air. The crisp morning seeping into the house, making me pull the old wool shawl around my shoulders and reaching for some warm wool socks for my rather cold feet. I could just close the windows, but this cold feels good. Memories of our long hot summer are still fresh...perhaps I am trying to freeze them away !
This time of year has me planning Christmas gifts and checking out recipes for soups. I long form long evenings by the fire, knitting in hand while Emery and I talk and plan for the future.
Melanie and I were mulling over the idea that it might be fun to have our Thanksgiving meal outside this year, make it a bit more like the original one. The more I think about a long table spread with the traditional foods surrounded by pumpkins and colorful corn, the more I like the idea. It seems to me, the day would feel more real, more in touch with what the history of this day of feasting is all about.
I am the 10th Great grand-daughter of Francis Cooke who came over on the Mayflower and would love to have a deeper understanding of the magnitude of their thankfulness on that first Thanksgiving. Provided the weather co-operates, an outdoor meal, a very traditional one, will be the plan.
Its time for me to get busy and head out to the garden and do a bit of work. Gardens do not tend themselves.

Happy Weekend !

A Repost, Homesteading, Simple Living, The Hows and Whys




A Repost from
Monday, October 01, 2007
Hometeading, Simple Living, The How's and Why's
There is always a turning point, a moment when things change from being what they are to becoming something new. For me, there has always been this desire, this dream to live off grid. To live in the woods, self sufficient. In my early dreaming years I wasn't very practical, just dreamy. Me in a log cabin, growing my own food, chopping wood, using an outhouse, gathering berries, hunting if need be. Not sure what I had in mind for an income, but the dreams were there in a young girls mind. I wanted to marry a farmer...not too many around Boston though. But I found one, a Kansas farm boy, raised the old fashioned way. His early life reads like a Little House in the Prairie book. Of course he did run away from the farm and move to Miami, he wanted to be a city boy. He ended up in Boston, found me and it felt like a match made in Heaven from the first date. We had the "American good life" after a few lean years. Nice house, nice cars, good clothes, the whole thing, but our children were becoming spoiled. It worried me and to be honest I never liked the lifestyle we lived. I wanted to be on a farm or in a log cabin in the woods, not in Southern California.
If you keep your dreams alive, often times you get them. I did. We gave it all up and moved to the mountains of Oregon. Lived in the woods, in the mountains. But it wasn't to be permanent for us, God had other plans and after a year we were here in Texas, motivated by the life we had in Oregon to maintain that life style here. We purchased a home, a simple one, some land with it, but not as much as we wanted, but we knew without a doubt God wanted us to be in this house. It was run down, had to be practically rebuilt. It was the house to get us away from debt though. The girls could have their goats, we could have chickens and a pony.
Now, its not easy for some to move from "having" to "not having". Simple living is about living less stressed, less in need of things, less in need of what glossy magazines and catchy ads on television tell you you need. I know for sure that its more of a mindset than just living on a farm.
The best illustration I know to describe the willingness to live simply is towels. Yup, towels is what I wrote. By now you are scratching your head wondering what in the world I am talking about. Simple living is about knowing the difference between want and need. Its about being honest with yourself. Its about living with no debt, no credit card payments to worry about, no mortgages, no car payments. Its about investing in other people when you have extra money, its about having compassion greater than your wants. So back to the towels. If you go to someones house that claims to be all into simple living and living humbly on this land and caring about people and they have big expensive fluffy towels in their bathroom, then they have not figured out the difference between want and need. Cheap, wal-mart towels dry your bones just as good as the fluffy ones and the difference in price is the difference between buying what is meeting a need and what is just plain old want. I suspect Ma on Little House in the Prairie never had the idea that she HAD to have fluffy towels to dry her and the family.
Buying into the mentality that we have to have 800 count cotton sheets to sleep is down right silly. Simple living is about knowing what really brings happiness, and its not in the bigger and better. It's in living without fear of "can I make this payment" or "what if John lost his job". Its knowing you can survive on the minimum. And no car payment is worth sleepless nights. No dress or shoes are worth trying to hide the bill from your husband. Simple living is about living simply without caving into peer pressure, yes, adults have to deal with peer pressure, we just don't call it that. We just say, "my friend has one and I love it so I want it." Simple living is about counting the mental cost of every item you have. What did it cost in stress ? Did you regret buying it, have to take it back, end up giving it away ? Simple living is about counting that cost before you take the plunge and mindlessly spend or spend with a "gutta have it" feeling . I do have some pretty things around the house, but they are not bought at a cost that keeps taking from us. By that I mean we saved up, or had the money in hand and thought about it long and hard before we got it. Goodwill is not always a think long and hard deal, but its never over the top spending, $2 or $3 at most.
By the way, our towels are not the fluffy variety and they don't even follow a color scheme.
Homesteading, simple living was a moral issue for us. We wanted our children to grow up knowing the value and practicality of hard work, knowing that God is the giver of what we need, not that Dad just opens his wallet and voila, you have what you want. We wanted for our children to see the connection of planting and harvesting. We wanted them to know that quiet family evenings were priceless and that home made toys and forts were of the best in the world.
We still want that for the next generation. We still want to know that there is nothing as good as sitting by the wood stove, lamps lit, quiet talk, not a care in the world about bills or feelings of guilt because we spent money on a new car when the one we have works, and the neighbor down the road has no food on her table for her children. Simple living for us, started as a dream with me, became a need for the life we wanted, and has become a moral issue for us personally. Its all about fluffy towels : )
This life is not for everyone, and please don't think I am telling you all how to live, I am just saying its how we see it, how we did it, still do it. Its what works for us, morally and stress wise. Its old fashioned, its practical, it's simply good living for us.

Monday, October 11, 2010

How Much Of Us Does God Want ?


A hard question, with answers that are often more suited to fit our life style than anything else. We can pick and choose scriptures to justify right where we are. I do that and I know I am not alone. A quick search of the Bible using two words, heart and soul, tell us exactly what God expects. That little phrase is always paired with the word ALL. All of our heart and soul....that's kinda hard in this world that pulls us in 50 different directions on any given day and besides, giving all our heart and soul makes us seem so different.
Think about your day, make one of those pie charts that shows how much you give to each aspect of your day. Clothes, food, work, television, reading, personal computer time, cell phone time which would include texting, personal relationships, the pursuit of acquiring more possessions, which would include crafting (ouch) and then figure in your time spent in prayer, in helping others with no thought of repayment of any kind. How much time spent in Bible study ? Of course there are things that overlap, raising a godly family and having a god fearing home could go under a couple categories. We need to be truthful too about that.
My pie chart is making me feel a bit uncomfortable, I keep wondering how in the world it got so out of whack, how it happened that God gets such a small portion. The computer has a big slice of this pie as does crafting. Do I really need that many aprons or quilts ? Of course not. What would my life look like if my walk with God did involve all my heart and soul ? It would look much different than it does now. My service towards others would be far more outreaching.
If God really does want all my heart and soul, then that would mean all my actions and thoughts would be geared towards His ways.
I am not being hard on myself, just being real and measuring up to what Gods word says....simple as that. God isn't being demanding by asking us this, He is simply asking us to do what will give us the best life on earth, so how is it that we walk around with rebellion in our hearts like a young teenager ignoring the wisdom of his/her parents ?

Difficult questions, with answers that lie in each of our hearts.
Deuteronomy 10:12 And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul,
Matthew 22:37 Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Silent Sunday


Sometimes we just don't need words to express a part of our life, a piece of our day.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Memories




Since Yen was in the hospital overnight, Mei-Ling stayed with us so both Casi and Melanie can be with the baby. Mei-Ling has been as good as gold for us and what joy it is to have a little one in the house again. This morning I heard a little voice calling me, wanting to get an early start on her day.
Last night was her first night here sleeping in her big girl bed and not her crib. She did fine and went to bed without any fuss.
This morning we had breakfast and then headed outside for some morning play time and how much this morning reminded me of the many mornings I had with my girls when they were that age. I missed out on times like that with the boys since they were older when we adopted them.
I found myself going back in time as we did chores, made the bed, set breakfast on the table and did the dishes after we were done eating. Children learn from modeling what we do. They develop habits that we foster, both good and bad. Lazy parents often have lazy children !
What joy it is to walk down this little path of memories this morning, remembering the wonder of childhood once again as I watched my child's child play.

Thankful Morning







Yen is coming home from the hospital today, and is doing so much better. How wonderful that God has given children such resiliency ! Prayers were heard and now this little one is fully on the road to recovery. Thank you for all the emails and well wishes for this little guy.
Here are a few pictures from my morning walk. As always, it is a time of prayer and thankfulness as I see the Masters handiwork.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Prayers for Yen

Just two days ago Yen was feeling fine, now he is being admitted into Cook Children's Hospital with a very bad case of croup that does not seem to be responding to treatment.
I ask that you keep him in your prayers. So hard to see our little sunshine Grand-baby not feeling well.

Apple Cider Doughnut Making Day




With the cooler temperatures comes the desire for comfort food and this is one of my families favorites.
I make them with whole wheat flour, which helps me feel better about eating them !

Mei-Ling was here with me today as Yen is quite sick with Croup. Poor baby is having a tough time of it and at this moment, Melanie is at the Children's hospital with him.
Here is the recipe I have come up with through the years.

Apple Cider Doughnuts

Beat 4 eggs well. Gradually add 3/4 cup maple sugar and 3/4 cup sugar. Add 4 tablespoons soft butter and beat well. Stir in 1 1/2 cups apple cider. Stir in 3 cups whole wheat flour and 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour a little at a time, along with 6 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. . Roll out 3/8 inch thick on floured board and cut. Fry in hot fat 375 degrees. Drain on paper towel for a minute or so then dredge in cinnamon sugar while they are still hot.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Heritage Arts and my love of wool

There are many things in life that are on my list of favorites. Aside from family, I have an ever growing number of things on this list of mine. One of the things close to the top of the list is wool, wool roving to be exact. I have been a spinner for nearly 20 years now and my love of wool just keeps growing. We have kept sheep from time to time, along with angora goats and angora rabbits, all for the love of fiber !
Last week I was in need of some wool roving for needle felting along with some natural merino for doll making. All the grandbabies will be getting Waldorf style dolls for Christmas this year.
My need for wool sent me to a shop that I dearly love but don't visit all that often, probably because I tend to "want, want, want" when I am there. It's called Heritage Arts and is owned by the very people that taught me to spin so long ago. Actually one of the owners taught both my girls how to weave too. If you live in North Texas, love wool and yarn, or perhaps want to learn how to spin or weave, this is the place to go. Lorelei and Sue, the owners are so knowledgeable about all the fiber arts and are very helpful.
When fall arrives, my mind starts turning towards knitted projects and hours spent spinning wool by the fire.
Here is a bit of a cyber trip to the store. They have a web site but it looks like its having some revisions made to it at this time. Here is the address for the shop for anyone wanting to visit. They are open on Fridays and Saturdays.
Heritage Arts
(817) 866-2772
10740 C R 102
Grandview, TX 76050

Sunday Blessings

Soft music, the gentle kind of music that makes you feel content with life... the view from the window as I sit and spin at the wheel makes ...