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Archive for the ‘autumn’ Category

When it comes to life, I find autumn a reflective time of year.  The happy and sad memories run together, creating a painting of our lives. This painting is filled with the rich times, like red and orange leaves, and the sad time, like frost on the bare trees. Altogether, the picture is beautiful, but bit by bit, it is sad.
I am so thankful for the good times and the bad.  If not for the sad times, would I know how to appreciate the good times?
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more snow

100_6105 We awoke Saturday to snow on the ground and in the air. 

I have never seen snow in this area so early, and it does send a message of urgency!  We began to clean up all of the fall progects, just in case this one doesn’t melt off, but a little after breakfast the sun broke throughthe clouds and things began to melt.  By today, it was all gone.

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our squash harvest

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I had hoped to leave these on the vine for another month or so, but the sudden snow, and the cold temperatures that followed forced an emergency picking time.  Only one of them is of eating size, but the boys gathered everything!  Don’t you just love their enthusiasm?  I sure do.

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our first snow

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This morning we woke to the sound of rain on the roof.  So much for my plans of digging the garden!  As I fixed breakfast I wondered if the sun would come out and dry things up or if I would have to make new plans…

That is when Benjamin came in from his chores yelling, “Come look, everyone!  It is snowing!”

The boys all rushed the window, eager for a view of the first flakes… And I thought it was bad when the first snow fell at the end of October last year.

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There are many reasons I am thankful for herbs.  Some are good food, while others are good medicine.  Some smell wonderful and some are simply beautiful.  Herbs are any seed producing plant that does not develop persistent woody tissue, but dies down at the end of a growing season.  The word also refers to any plant material that is used for its medicinal, savory or aromatic qualities.  The judicious use of herbs can greatly improve the quality of life.

Here is a list of some of my favorites, and how I use them:

Alfalfa:  I collect alfalfa leaves in the spring, from mature plants, before they bloom. (In this part of the country, alfalfa grows like a weed, and is very difficult to kill.)  To keep them, I dry them for use as tea, or I tincture them.  I use alfalfa for a number of reasons.  It has a high vitamin content, being an excellent source of A, C, K, niacin and B-1.  It helps nursing mothers keep a good supply of milk, is a blood purifier, and helps prevent tooth decay.

Arnica:  I make a massage oil from arnica flowers, to use on all bumps, bruises and sore muscles.  It helps to heal muscles and improve circulation.  It is for external use only.

Cinnamon:  Besides smelling wonderful and tasting good, cinnamon kills a variety of illness causing bacteria.  I use it in food, for potpourris, and to keep the mouth healthy.  When sickness is threatening my family, I let each member have a cinnamon stick to chew on.

Cayenne:  Cayenne is one of my favorite spices, for flavor, but it also has many many health properties.  It stimulates every system in the body, and improves circulation.  I add a touch of it to most tinctures I make, and, on cold days, sprinkle some in our boots, to help keep our feet warm.

Flax seed oil:  Flax seed has been promoted for its omega-3 fatty acids, but that is not why I use it.  I use it, because it helps to rid the body of excess mucus.  It also seems to drive out disease and viruses.  To use it, I boil 1 Tablespoon of seed in two cups of water for 8 minutes.  This makes a thick egg-white like substance, which is the flax oil.  This can be drank straight, mixed with other foods, like mashed potatoes, or added to drinks, like egg-nogs, orange juliuses, and shakes.

Garlic:  Another food that is good for almost everything!  It is a natural antibiotic, a disease fighter, protects against  infection, and helps the body detoxify.  It is also a rich source of nutrients.  I cook with garlic, serve it raw to anyone feeling ill, add it to tincture, and use it as a salve, to draw out infections in the skin.  I have used it for yeast infection, and to heal diaper rashes.

Hops:  Best known for its relaxing properties, it is also useful for stimulating digestive function, and stimulating the liver.  I use hops to make my own soft yeast, for baking.  Bread made from this yeast is soothing, relaxing and healthful.

Lavender:  One of my favorite scents, it has a relaxing effect on the mind and body.  It also has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties.  Lavender oil, mixed with orange peel and white vinegar, is the perfect, non-toxic cleaner;  I use it on all surfaces.  I use lavender in potpourris, cooking, and bath salts.

Peony:  Peonies are my favorite flower, not only for the way they look, but the way they smell.  Over the years, I have discovered that their sent has a calming effect on young and old alike.   I use them for cut flowers, and dry the petals for potpourris.

Rose Hips:  Rose hips are the dried fruit of roses.  They are full of vitamin C.  I collect them from wild roadside bushes, after the first hard freeze in the fall , and tincture them.  We use this as a immune booster, and to heal burns.  When someone burns them self, I have them take a Tablespoon of rose hip tincture. 

Yarrow:  Yarrow is used as a fever reducer, especially in children.  I cut and tincture or dry the flowers in the summer, when they first bloom.  Some say the leaves are the better part of the plant to use, and that they should be collected before the plant blooms, in the spring.

What is your favorite herb, and why?

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Driving home through the plains of Idaho this weekend, the tall brown waving grass and the skiffs of snow, reminded me of Thanks Giving, 13 years ago.  It was my first year of college, and I was grateful to be home; I missed my family, more than I cared to admit, even to myself.

The mid morning sun shone bleakly through the thick clouds and the ground, though appearing muddy, was frozen stiff.  A number of relatives had arrived, all hurrying out of the brisk wind, into the warm house.  They brought armloads of food to add to the mountain my mother had already provided.  There were warm welcomes, and a few hugs (we are not a hugging family).  Hot apple cider was passed around, and eventually people settled into a few cozy groups, chatting away on every subject that could be potentially controversial.

Just as things were starting to get lively (and a bit heated), bells were heard in the yard.  Now, my parents live on a farm.  Their nearest neighbor is a mile and a half away, so naturally, everyone jumped up to see what was going on.

Nikki, our little barrel chested horse, was trotting through the yard with a draft horse harness on her neck, pulling an old-fashioned, child’s downhill bobsled.  My 17 year old brother stood on the sled, carefully, quickly driving this little horse. 

Nikki loved her place of honor.  She arched her neck proudly, trotted in her daintiest manner, and shook, just to hear the bells ring. 

My brother had reconditioned the old harnesses, relics of when farming was done with teams of horses, and made them usable once more.  In the weeks I had been at college, he had been learning to drive.  He had hooked up this contraption, complete with sleigh bells, to show me his new skill.

When all the relatives poured out of the house, he looked a bit embarrassed, but held his composer, smoothly coming to a stop at the front step.  “Anyone want to go for a drive?”  He asked, offering up the reigns.

“Sure,” came my Great Aunt Beverly’s reply.  “If you will drive!”  Several voices echoed this response.

He looked a bit stunned, then said, “How ’bout I go get the wagon, and give y’all a ride?”  A sea of grinning faces met with this proposal, so he hurried to the barn while we retrieved our coats.  When he came back with an old hay wagon, now pulled by Nikki and Shafee (a paint quarter horse), we were all ready to go.

The horses whinnied and snorted with delight; their breath white in the brisk air.  As we climbed aboard the wagon, they arched their necks and stamped impatiently.  At last we were off, everyone having found a crowded seat.  The horses hooves rang merrily on the hard ground.  The wind whipped hair and manes alike.  Grins, already great, grew broader and the horses trotted faster and faster.

My brother stood at the front of the wagon; guiding the horses down the gravel road that stretched lazily onward.  Up one hill, and down again, we rode till every one’s nose shown red, and still the grins remained.  We drove until we thought we might miss lunch, then turned and headed back the way we came.

I don’t remember what we had for lunch that day, or much of the conversation.  What remains with me is the utter delight on Beverly’s face, as she rode with legs sticking strait out in front of her, like a little child, grinning from ear to ear.

We later found out, through her sister, Sharon, that one of her life ling dreams had been fulfilled that day:  To ride behind horses.

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giving thanks: creativity

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I am thankful for the ability to be creative!  To make new things, and to learn from others.  I am grateful that everything I do does not have to be perfect…  I am glad for the wide variety of crafts available, and that more are be discovered, maybe even by me!

Without creativity, we would still be living in caves, eating only what grew naturally, in its natural state.  That would be boring, and discouraging.  Because of creativity, there is an endless supply of recipes, architectural designs, and fabrics.  How wonderful is our God!  He gave us creativity when He made us in His image:

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.  And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea and the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

-Genesis 1:26-28

God is the original creator.  We create because He created.  We create, because He has given us dominion over all the earth.  We will never create as He did, by simply speaking, but we will create. We create with our hands, our minds and our skill.  While He chose to speak the universe into being, He chose to shape man kind with His hands.  How lovely is that!  He allows us choose how we will live, what we will believe, and what we will do with the abilities He has given us.  He gives us the ability and freedom to chose or reject Him.  He is the hope that is within me.

More:

I finished the sewing I began for myself last week. The skirt was made according to the pattern, and the blouse I slightly altered, deciding to bring the waist in with tucks and side seam shaping.  They both fit very well, earning me a compliment from my husband.  He is coming around to my way of thinking.

A horse drawn plow.        My new outfit.      Building a smoke box.

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