If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful. ~ William Morris

20 December, 2017

A Bit of Shameless Self-Promotion

Only one of these posts and I promise to get back to the vintage writings which were the intent of this blog to begin with.

Yet, it never does hurt to do a bit of self-promotion.

As my ability to live a 1930's style farm life has faded over the last four years, I've had to find my alternative calling.  Granted raising sheep and goats wasn't terribly profitable to begin with, but awfully lots of fun and gave me great personal enjoyment.  I still miss them.

However, I was finally forced to admit that I had an additional calling and that is to help others. 

In 2008 I had received my Level I Reiki attunement never planning to take it outside of family and friends.  Recently it came to my attention that it was time to do just that.

So I pursued the upper levels with more focused intent.  Being me, however, I am rarely if ever satisfied with the status quo so my practice is slightly different from the norm, incorporating elements of Qi Gong and other biofield modalities as well as aromatherapy which I will eventually offer as a separate service upon completion of my certification.

I will be working with both people and animals and I look forward to growing as a practitioner in the coming year.

If you are curious and want to know more, you can view my other website here:

15 December, 2017

Tradition ~ And why it doesn't always matter....

I have to admit it has been a ridiculously busy stretch for me from September to now, one which I always seem to so desperately try to avoid and yet fall into anyway.

It starts with back-to-school, which for most of my friends who are parents means quiet days as the children head away on the bus each  morning.  Only one of mine does, the other is still home schooled.  That means my presence is required every school day as though I were going to school with him on the bus. He is older now, 11, and with the gift of on-line learning now does four out of six subjects on-line and through video instruction, but I still need to be available.

The other young man who has special needs has a very difficult 6:15 a.m. bus time each morning for which I arise each morning at 4:45 a.m. to make sure he is up dressed, fed and packed for school and delivered safely to the bus.  I then have to be available again to get him off that bus at 3 p.m.

In between I have a husband who very much enjoys eating regular meals, a home to clean (for which I am grateful), the laundry of three males to do, two dogs, four little birds, household administrative duties (groceries, bills, etc...) and somewhere in there, my own enrichment.  

I am currently taking two distance courses which will increase to three in January and carry through May.  The garden is quiet now, but the snow if there is any must be kept up with and the outdoor bird feeders filled, and meals planned a little more regularly as easy, last minute shopping isn't always an option during the winter.

Overall, I have no complaints.  I am grateful for the home, the laundry, the two boys and the man I live with.  I am grateful for the food in our pantry and bellies, and the clothes on our backs.  I am grateful for the electricity and heat, and the clean running water.

And yet, there never seems to be enough hours in the day.

This past Thanksgiving was the most different I've had in over ten years.  Over the last decade we ate the day after Thanksgiving and invited family friends.  Sometimes there were as many as 16 or 17 people.  I cooked for a week before, turning out a turkey, a ham, five sides and pies and a birthday cake for my youngest son.  This year dear friends were experiencing some issues due to an upcoming surgery, other friends no longer attend, and my eldest daughter needed flexibility to work around her jam packed thanksgiving day meeting three other family obligations.

So we ate rather quietly and unceremoniously Wednesday evening, with only one kind of pie in a store bought gluten free crust and my son's birthday cake.  I made it all about turning 11 for a very special boy instead of a giant feast.  My heart wasn't in it this year.  And although a little sad (as change usually is), it worked out just fine.

My daughter and I discussed just how much we should really reschedule our annual Thanksgiving Day to sometime in October.... it's too close to Christmas... and food overload.  My son celebrates his birthday on the 29th, then Christmas, then my other son's birthday just after the new year.  It all felt too much all at once.  It always has.  But in the past I marathon-ed my way through it, checking lists as I went .... one... two.... three....!

It made me think about tradition and how much, in the end, it doesn't really matter all that terribly much.  My friend and I were discussing how it was all about getting together.... not the correct Thursday or the food.

This Christmas, my younger daughter will home for the first time in three years on Christmas.  We will all be together for a short time before we rush off in our prospective directions.

This sort of thing never would have been acceptable to my Grandmother.  We ate promptly at noon on Thanksgiving Day....if you were late they started without you.  Not coming home for the holidays despite the cause (unless it was complete bodily traction in the hospital) was generally frowned upon.  Sometimes the joy is in the simplicity and flexibility is beautiful.

It reminds me of the ever popular "pot roast" story, many variations exist:

The new bride is making her first big dinner for her husband and tries her hand at her mother’s pot roast, cutting off the ends of the roast the way her mother always did. Hubby thinks the meat is delicious, but says, “Why do you cut off the ends — that’s the best part!” She answers, “That’s the way my mother always made it.”

The next week, they go to the grandmother's house, and she prepares the famous roast recipe, again cutting off the ends. The young bride is sure she must be missing some vital information, so she asks her grandma why she cut off the ends. Grandma says, “that’s the only way it will fit in the pan!”

The moral of this story is; some traditions are temporary and by necessity, some we honor just because "that's the way we always do it," and some we have no idea why.  Are they necessary for the moment?  Not always.

As we go forward into the holidays keep this in mind.  Ask yourself what is really important?  What brings you joy?  What can you add and what can you take away?

Presence is often far more important than 'presents,' and sometimes that requires change.

17 October, 2017

The Last Rose of Summer and a Few More Things...

I have not forgotten or abandoned ye olde blogg... however, I did get rather caught up over the last months getting my new husband properly moved in, moving, rearranging, sorting, discarding, donating, painting, assembling, and finalizing our space we call home.

I spent most of the summer in a state of disorganization with my former guest room literally filled with boxes while we ripped up carpet, painted, measured, assessed space and generally figured out how best to utilize the public spaces to everyone's best interest. 

This meant work spaces for myself, my husband and my son, the installation of an additional television (I would have ZERO, except my husband and children would mutiny and throw me overboard), a bit of new family room furniture and me going through lots and lots of "stuff" deciding what to keep, what to donate, and what had outlived its lifespan.  I'm a collector, particularly of books and so we have lots and lots and lots of bookshelves.  Our now 10 plus years of homeschooling had resulted in things long outgrown which were finally passed on.  

Then before I knew it, school had started, and then the seasons changed and it was time to sort the children's clothing and my older son just keeps growing and well, my goodness, I can't keep up on shoes for his ever-growing feet!

The garden received minimal attention but needed minimal because by God's good graces it rained at regular intervals all summer.  The result was an overflowing, abundant garden, as lush and as green as it could be.  Plants I had for three years made record growth.  Flowers finally bloomed.

In the midst of all that, I grounded myself and returned to my calling of healer, and am pursuing a more active role in Reiki and Energy Healing and am beginning to accept clients. 

I'm also continuing my informal education on-line through the wonderful Edx Site.  In my 'spare' time of course.  I love it far more than the for credit courses I was taking at the college.  The pressure is low and the motivation is high.   I can tackle them at my own pace and pick and choose what interests me.

So, for your viewing pleasure, the remains of the garden before the deciduous trees drop their leaves for the year.....

My Chicago Hardy Fig (one of two)

A monster poke berry plant that had to be supported.  Do not eat this.  For birds only.

My toad lily finally bloomed!

My raised bed garden took on a sculpture like life of it's own and I let it.... It needed no weeding this summer.

Our small but noble pumpkin harvest

My first year hops vine.

The front porch is now solely owned by the French Garden Sorrel,

This is what happens when your soil ph is so weird... you get two different color hydrangeas on the same plant!

Blowing a wish with the last of the summer magic....

03 July, 2017

01 July, 2017

Scenes From the Garden ~ Updates

I have been busy lately with a number of indoor house projects as well as running out to do garden work whenever it stops raining which isn't very often.  So when it does, it is literally a mad dash outdoors to finish up what I can when the sun shines.

I've put in new flooring in my upstairs hallway, and will be celebrating the fourth of July weekend painting my kitchen and our office.

Soon I will be back to posting things other than beautiful snap shots of flowers.  In the meantime, 

Wood Betony in flower

 I'm so excited, first year baby figs!


The Salvias

Hollyhocks.  Wish me luck as I battle the Hollyhock weevil this year.  It has so far, been pointless to spray Neem oil or soapy water on these as the rain is nearly daily.  It's my first line of business when the rain lets up.

The vegetables.  All doing quite well.

15 June, 2017

Peonies and Ants ~ A Symbiotic Relationship

They say it is only a legend that the peonies need the ants to open, and that the reason for the ants visiting is that the peonies emit a sticky sap and nectar which the ants feed off of for a short time before and during opening.

I believe the two were designed to work together.  As long as a legend does no harm, 
I'll always choose the legend over reality because a good story is food for the soul.

Either way, 
once a year I am blessed to be able to enjoy an entire row of these luscious, creamy, sweet smelling flowers, indoors and out.

11 June, 2017

An Ode to Sweet Cicely

Myrrhis Odorata along the western side of my home thrives in this rocky soil next to the foundation.

I first became fascinated with it when I read about it Sylvia Jorrin's book 'Sylvia's Farm.'

Her book came into my life at a time when I needed it most.  It inspired me to take my own farm journey, one which gave me some of the happiest moments of my life before I had to leave it.

  I have since planted this lovely plant in three different homes.  I heard the new owner of one of those homes ripped it all out because she hated the smell.  It has a scent that smells to me like Anise, although Mrs. Grieve's Modern Herbal describes it as a smell similar to Lovage, I think Lovage smells like Curry, so I disagree.

There is also an American version which I found to my surprise already growing here, quite prolifically from under my porch.  

As with all plants of similar flower and design, be careful in your identification.  I can see where the novice might confuse it with Hemlock which is poisonous.  

The black clusters which were difficult to clearly photograph as it was windy are ants busily farming aphids.  

Scenes From The Garden ~ More Plants You Ought to Know

Common Sage in flower (Salvia Officinalis)

Winter Savory (Satureja Montana) 

Catmint (Napeta x Faassenni

Bayberry (Myrica)

Fox Glove (Digitalis Purpurea)

False Indigo (Baptisia Australis)

09 June, 2017

Scenes From the Garden ~ Planting Ahead

Scenes From The Garden

This unassuming rather sad looking stick is one of four apple trees I've planted this year.  Two Northern Spy (circa early 1800s), a Westfield Seek-No-Further (circa 1700s) and a Ginger Gold (although it originates from the 1960s -- a bit later than I would prefer, it was a suitable partner for pollination).  I have babied these transplants as though they were my own children, fussed over them, nursed them, watered them and in general experienced what could be described as mild gardeners anxiety over them.  They are finally starting to bud.  I have blueberry bushes, hazelnuts and hardy fig trees arriving later this week.

It's easy to feel discouraged in the early years, when the idea that no fruit will appear for 2-3 years.  However, I keep picturing the future in my mind--a vision of someday walking out into my own little orchard and plucking heirloom apples from branches in my own backyard.  I try hard to plant heirloom and old varieties wherever I can.  If not solely for my love of old things and desire to preserve them, then solely for the variety and health offered to the bees, hummingbirds and wildlife.

This is one of two flowering quince (Chaenomeles x superba Cameo or Japanese Quince) that I hope will someday bear fruit.  They are ancient in Asia and came to Europe around the 1800s and when it came to America, I do not know.  This is a gorgeous colored one and the earliest to flower in spring.  Click on my Instagram to see a photo in bloom.  It is a stunning showstopper that I saw in my neighbor's hedge and coveted with an envy so strong it was nearly illegal.  So I found out what it was, and ordered two for myself.  So there.

These two interesting fungi are growing on a tree stump I refused to remove from the yard.  Aside from making a lovely table for bird feeders, it is slowly going back into the earth as intended, providing a home and food for many inhabitants.

Attempting a few different flowers from seed.

This was the first year I've ever intentionally released Ladybugs.  Aside from being highly beneficial to the environment, it was an excellent home school exercise for my son.

07 June, 2017

Womanly Wednesday ~ The Secrets of Charm Part II

From Secrets of Charm ~ Josephine Huddleston ~ 1929

Ultimately, charm is far more vital than physical beauty alone.  I have known women who were actually homely, yet their charm was so great no one realized or cared that they were not physically beautiful.  And I've seen physically beautiful women weep and gnash their teeth because a less beautiful but more charming woman achieved glories denied to them. 

The ideal combination, of course, is CHARM and BEAUTY.

As Editor of a beauty column which has a reading public of nearly seven million, a quarter of a million of whom have written to me for help with their beauty problems during the past five years, I have had an unusual opportunity to study women's needs.  Therefore, I do not feel that I am taking too much upon myself when I tell you some of the things I've learned about the cultivation of physical beauty and charm.

At times you probably will think me a dull stick propounding duller sentiments--sentiments which many of us read and didn't understand when they were used as penmanship examples in our copy books.  I remember many of them and thought at the time that grown-ups were unutterably stupid with their constant reminders that "honesty pays" and "early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise."

But as I've grown older I've learned that honesty does pay because dishonesty develops a fishy eye and furtive manners, attributes which surely mar physical beauty and happiness.  And while early to bed and early to rise may make a man healthy, wealthy and wise, it just as surely will help to make a woman healthy, beautiful and charming.

To live life fully, there are certain laws of nature that must be observed--laws that make or mar the individual.  Happy is she who learns these laws early enough i life to use them for her benefit.

(To be continued...)

06 June, 2017

Tuesday's Tip ~ Line Drying Clothes in Winter

Line Drying Clothes in Winter

A handful of salt added to the rinsing water will keep clothes from freezing to the line.  Boiling the clothes pins in salt water will keep them from freezing to the clothes in winter.
E.G., Craig. Mo

Woman's World, February 1935

02 June, 2017

Scenes From the Garden - Upcycled Garden Architecture

Scenes From The Garden

All of these striking elements of garden architecture are inexpensive ($3 or less) thrift store finds that were eh hem....less than attractive (ok, some were downright ugly). 

 I used Krylon silver, mirror, stone and copper finish spray paints along with clear enamel where needed.  The mirror finish is not outdoor safe on its own.  The silver spheres I had purchased last year at Lakeside Catalog and the little ceramic birds were at Michael's last year.   The paint was the most expensive purchase and I waited until I had coupons to use to buy them.

In one afternoon the garden was transformed.

Under the elderberry

 Next to Solomon's Seal

Tucked in next to a second elderberry with some sage

Behind the lilies

 In front of the Lemon Balm

In the mint bed (various mints will have likely nearly covered it by late summer)

A candle sconce serves as a buffet bird feeder, the ragged bird houses were already here when I moved in.  The Love sign got a quick coat of copper spray paint and graces the Holly.  The ceramic on the faux stones had faded so they got a coat of paint.
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