Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Chatting with Go Lady

     There are things that drive us crazy- things we are powerless to change, but in those moments we have.. those moments when the window opens.. we have to try to make a difference. Join The Go Lady for a little glimpse at one of those nerve wracking things that just undoes her.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I am That Teacher...

     Bundled in two jackets; gloves on, hat on, scarf over face ... boots over two layers of socks. In the weird winter blast I crunch through the ice, in the dark, to snip fresh mint from my frozen garden. Why, you may ask? Because... I am that teacher.

The one with boxes and boxes of crazy made up games for any and every lesson she ever taught.

       Who collects unique leaves and has dead insects in jars...
                Who draws every poster herself because she can't find one that fits what she has in mind...
     The one that dresses in overalls and straw hats if necessary-- who has worn a pilgrim costume and native moccasins.

   I am the teacher who keeps a notebook beside her bed... wakes up with off the wall ideas that just might help the lesson stick.

        Who load and lugs tubs of everything under the sun just to teach one lesson.
                 The one constantly looking, thinking, planning and strategizing for the next thing.

         I am the teacher who prays for every single student that crosses my path; for every other teacher, administrator, and fellow educational vocation employee.. every morning of every school day. I am that teacher.. the one who loves what she does .. and loves those I spend my time with. So, despite the ice and cold, I picked fresh mint for tomorrow's lesson on using herbs in cooking just so they could see, smell, touch, taste and talk about the full experience of the lesson. I am THAT teacher.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Bracing for Another Round

    Once again we shut down the great state of Texas due to winter weather. Ice, sleet and bits of snow are forecast to hit the south. Can you believe it? It has been three years since our area had actual ice and snow; three years. Amazing.
     Needless to say, heat lamps glow in the stalls and coops while every plant has a winter blanket for protection. Pipes are wrapped and fire wood stand all in a cord outside the back door. While no mad rush to the market was needed, plenty of water is on hand in case of power outage.
     Tonight I put an extra blanket on the bed, some warm tea in my cup, and snuggle down with a good book. It's going to be a cold one; I'm ready... are you?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Expanding the Homestead Orchard

    The past several years have been a running test in home fruit production; the results have been as varied as the weather. Many of our plants were still in their 'pre-production' season when a devastating drought hit us. Despite our best efforts, the succumb to the stress and were lost. Little by little we are striving not only to replace, but to introduce new plants to the home orchard.
     Let me start by saying: I have learned over the years we have to know our area and know our supplier. Many nurseries/home improvement stores offer a wide variety of plants/trees for the home grower; not all of them are actually meant to grow in our area. Having purchased several trees in the past that never did anything but provide leaves drove me to dig a bit deeper in my understanding of my particular growing climate. Here in the south, I am limited due to humidity, heat, and lack of frost. If I am going to grow fruit with any success, it has to be reasonable for these conditions.
     The other nugget of wisdom I have learned is: most fruit trees for my area have to be grafted onto rootstock that will survive my extreme climate. There is in the key. If the peach tree doesn't have a grafted root stock there is no point in planting it here; even if it survives, it won't produce. Know your supplier and purchase only what is recommended for your specific area!
     Finally, for me, I have to evaluate space/worth. Fruit production takes a lot of space, therefore, I have to determine if the space it is taking up is worth the harvest I will receive. My area works wonderful for pears, figs, and blueberries, but is rather low on the plums and apples. For the space I have available considerations had to be made based on yield (oh, and whether anyone even liked the particular fruit).
      So, what did we plant? Satsuma oranges, kefir limes, figs, and strawberries and blackberries were already in the ground from last season. Today we added blueberries, more black berries, pomegranate, goji berry, jujube, Asian pears, and a miniature peach. Two lemon trees are waiting in the greenhouse until the winter storms have passed (the one year it ices in southeast Texas). If you are wondering where we put all this, most of our 'field garden' has become an orchard area while a few of the smaller bushes now reside on the side of our 'victory garden' sight.
       If you are considering fruit production on your homestead, be sure to check your county's specific climate/needs, and be sure to take into consideration the mature size of the plant before planting. I can't wait to watch these new babies grow!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Extending an Invitation

It is time! Our Master Gardener Fruit & Nut tree sale is this Saturday. Join me and my wonderful MG friends 8:00 in the morning at our county office- I'll be in the wagon area, of course.
The dedicated gardeners in this county have been diligently working to plan, organize and prepare this amazing sale for you; from setting bare root trees to starting strawberry plugs!
What's so great about this sale? Every item we sell has been grown by our test gardens and master gardeners before it is listed- several of those plants are in our home gardens as well! 
For more information please visit the MG web sight
I'll be looking for YOU.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Restore and Reseason

  Every so often the need arises to restore and reseason our beloved cast iron. Cool winter nights offer the perfect opportunity to light the stove for all night. A little oil, a bit of salt, and a long night of curing are in order.  
  Heavy cast iron is a priceless treasure to be used and maintained year after year. In days of old there was a respect for things; you took care of what you had. Generations past held to the notion things were not disposable and not easily replaced. Their well used, well seasoned cast iron wares were often handed down to the next generations filled with memories of the home it came from.
     My family has been using cast iron ware as far back as I can remember. Grandmothers and great-grandmothers passed their wares on to us as we each married and acquired homes of our own. Virtually nondestructive, cast iron ware will no doubt outlast us, nevertheless, it does need some care.
     Iron ware is used every meal, every day in my kitchen. Most often it is maintained by wiping out debris with a dry cloth and swiping a bit of oil across the cooking surface. This keeps it clean and well seasoned for the next use. Deeper cleaning is done yearly..a good once over with salt and a luffa scrub, a rub all over with some oil and an overnight in the oven (100 degrees). Deep cleaning restores and nourishes the dark cast and deep seasons the surface.  
    Neglected or forgotten cast iron that may have rusted over or become chunk with debris needs some attention and some elbow grease. When I restored these cast iron treasures, I started by gathering a few old cleaning cloths, some salt, and oil. The farmhouse table was covered with paper; it's not necessary, but it doesn't hurt. The iron ware was given a good rub down with oil; a vegetable shortening or lard would work as well..always use what's available. Next, the inside of the pan was generously sprinkled with salt..scrubbed in to remove rust particles. Using a fresh towel, the iron ware was wiped down to determine if another scrub was needed; either repeat the process or move on to seasoning the pan with a clean cloth an some oil/shortening/lard.
   Let me add a note here. If there are layers of rust deep in the pan or if the pan is dimpled with gunk or rust flakes I slather it with oil and throw it in a fire or grill pit for an hour. Once it cools I use sand paper to scrub the surface well- removing the rust/gunk only until we have a smooth surface to work with. From here I start the oil/salt cleaning and then on to seasoning.
   Rusty pans need to be rust free before 'seasoning'. Once the salt/oil routine above is finished, wiping iwth a clean towel should show no signs of the rust. If it does, I the process again. After the pans give a clean towel it is time for a healthy seasoning. Here, I heat my oven or outdoor grill to around 400 degrees while rubbing down my cast iron ware inside and out with oil or shortening/lard. Aluminum foil on the rack of the oven or grill will help catch any dripping that occurs during the curing. Pans are placed upside down and left for one hour. Heat is then turned off and the pans are left until they cool completely.
   A well seasoned pan after curing will be dark black with a nice sheen to it. If the pan was extremely rusty or damaged (i.e sandpaper had to be used) the pan will look dry or "off" so repeating the seasoning process (oil/oven one hour) needs to be done until the pan develops a black "sheen" to it. The worst pan I ever restored only needed the process done twice. For a new pan that was unseasoned (grey when we bought it), this curing process seasoned the pan with only two runs.
   As my children grow and leave home, the gift of well tended cast iron goes with them.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Test Run: Infused Soaps

     Recently I began the course to become a certified herbalist. While natural health has always been an interest, studying it intensely had never occurred to me. I find the properties of God's plants fascinating and quite intriguing. This time studying stirs the fire in my being to get out there and work the herb garden. Uncovering the herb garden this week, the fresh green beauty stirred a creative curiosity in me. I had to do a test run.
     It's no secret we have been making home made herbal soap for some time now; natural fats, lye and some wonderful essential oils. It occurred to me- why am I using essential oils when there are amazing herbs growing right outside my door? Enter the idea of infused soap. Natural oils steeped with fresh, vibrant herbs then transformed into nourishing soaps. I like it. Mint, pineapple sage, and tea tree each in their turn made their way to the soap mold- can I say- it amazes me how the coloration varies and changes as milk, lye and even time is introduced.
     Tonight my home is filled with natural fragrance and joyful anticipation- soaps are curing on the shelf! I can hardly wait for the day we test them in action. What's next? Well, the creativity didn't end with infusion- I am working some 'after the gym' care soap and a few interesting molds. All in all, a very creative sunshiny day.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

January's Garden

bouquet dill and danver carrots
   This weekend found us soaking up the sun as temperatures topped off in the seventies. Warm sunshine and a fresh breeze kept me outside enjoying it all (not to mention there is plenty to do). January finds us getting things going in the garden as cool weather crops have a rather short window down here. Tender things such as peas, carrots and dill won't last long when the Texas soil decides to warm.

fall cabbage, kohlrabi, and onion
   Since my garden goes year round, we are harvesting the same crops we are putting in. Today found carrots and bok choy in the basket while only rows away I planted another set. Peas are starting to sprout and Brussels sprout plants show their first little buds. The onions being harvested are mild and sweet, but the ones we plant today will have quite a bite in a few months. Tiny sprouts are everywhere: lettuce, kale, chard, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, radish, mustard greens, beets and even a few turnips.

Goji berry test tree
     January is also time for fruit. Strawberries are in bloom while fig trees offer a tiny hint of leaf buds. Dew and blackberry plants are leafing out with new shoots popping up everywhere. Today we take stock of our fruit production and start planning and planting; a new goji berry went in today. With a fruit tree sale next weekend there will be new canes and trees going in soon.
multiplier onions and bronze bok choy
    Another important part of January's garden is soil maintenance. We are working in new compost, cutting cover crops/green manures, and layering on the paper and leaves; permaculture takes upkeep. Our clover, mustards, and rye are cut and left to 'cure' in place. Once dry, compost, paper or cardboard, and leaves are added. When ready to put in transplants or seeds I simply move the mulch over and set them in. Not only does this feed the soil, but it offers moisture support and weed control.
strawberry in bloom
   I've had a busy and very productive garden weekend filled with green, growing things and plenty of hearty exercise in the warm sunshine. Hopefully this will feed my soul as a cold front returns to my area in the next few days. Until then, the rest of January's garden chores will be inventorying seeds, sketching ideas, and buying some new trees!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Favored Tasty Green

    One of my many spring loves is the appearance of fresh greens in the kitchen; among them, kale is a favorite. Hearty sets and fresh new seedlings are found in this month's garden, but if I were to be honest, I would have to say I found kale intimidating when we first grew it. As a relative of collards and mustard greens, memories of my grandmother's vinegary wilted greens made me leery. Test and trial are the friends of every cook, and after some yeahs and nays kale has found its place at our table.
    Cooked or fresh, kale does require a healthy dose of acidity for best results. I prep my kale with a good washing, patting it dry, and removing the tough midrib. Tender leaves are chopped or slivered before tossing in a gentle dose of fresh citrus (lemon, lime or orange), or balsamic and a dash of salt. Using my hands I work the juice and salt into the leaves..rubbing and massaging until every bit is well coated. On the counter it sits to 'work' while other elements are prepared.
    The density of kale lends well to saute. I love mine with fresh garlic, some crushed red peppers and a drizzle of olive oil. Just a dash in the pan offers a bright color and tender leaf. My teens always loved kale dressed only in lemon and salt baked at 400 degrees for five to seven minutes, yielding a crisp chip-like result. Both are great with roasted meat or baked fish.
     Fresh kale makes for a hearty, nutrient dense salad with body and flavor. Prepared kale holds up to any dressing- vinaigrette, mustard or cream based. I love adding a few shredded carrots, toasted nuts, or even a boiled egg or two. The latest favorite is Caesar style with tangy dressing, toasted pine nuts and shaved parmesan. Farm boy is partial to our spicy Creole and lime Ranch with Julianne peppers and tortilla crisps.
     As the country's food supply becomes more controversial and questionable, we take responsibility for ourselves as much as possible; growing and producing as we are able. Kale is a hearty food source that should produce through most of the growing season; perfect for my region and fresh greens are an easy and nutritious addition to the table.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Homestead Chores: Now and Then


      Early morning finds me with a cup of coffee and a pair of muck boots winding my way to the barn. Hungry livestock call to me from the stalls eager to get their breakfast; a rooster crows, the duck squawks as Doc lets me know I should hurry. The faint chill causes me to question the light jacket I chose; hurrying is the only solution. Hens scurry about my feet in attempts to be first in line; goats are getting a few good 'rams' in bickering over which feed trough is theirs. Such ruckus makes me smile- as if they don't know everyone gets enough.
      Feed given, it's time to milk. There we sit, Zaida and I, as warm squirts of milk swish into the pan; steam rises faintly. Reaching to turn on the small heater I realize the kitty has decided to visit in hopes of some fresh cream. Hadassah waits at the door- her light bark lets me know she has arrived as well. You are never alone in the milking stall.
       Everyone in their place I return to the house. Breakfast needs to be made before I head out for the morning- it's a day at school for me. Once last glance over my shoulder- the sun rises over the greenhouse where tiny seedlings grow, leaves drift across the walk.. a deep breath of fresh air as my day begins.


   Winter on the prairie is quite hard for energetic prairie girls; so many hours in the big farmhouse get to you rather quickly. Cows, it seems, feel the same way. On the cold winter prairie, cows leave the safety of their warm barn to brave the whirling winds and crunchy snow. When they do, prairie farmers must brave the cold too.
   Filled with hot coffee (to get all warmed up on the inside), Grandpa and Grandma and me bundle in layers with caps and scarves..gloves and two layers of socks. As we head out of the farmhouse toward the old blue truck we grab the big metal hooks hanging hanging just outside the of the winter prairie chore.
   Grandma and I sit in the back while Grandpa drives us to the old barn. We work to load the bed full of big round hay bales for feeding the cattle in the bare field. A little tabby barn kitty catches my eye, but there is work to do today..she and I will have to play later.
   Into the big empty fields the truck rumbles; cattle see us coming and start making their way toward us. I love the slow lumber and the mist of their breath as they move; low bawls drift across the wide open prairie carried on the wind.
   Grandma uses the hay hooks to toss big hay bales over the side of the truck as we slowly crunch over the blanket of snow; grateful cattle snort and moan as the crunch. Standing at the back of the cab I tilt my head toward the warm sun greats me there..only the howling of a cold prairie wind.
   The way back to the house Grandma and I crowd into the cab trying to warm a bit. There in the the old blue truck..I smile just a bit. We may be cold and a bit tired from the work, but a little escape from the confines of the farmhouse was found as we bundled up in our layers and accomplished a winter prairie chore.

Sharing A Moment

    Jury duty, meetings, messages..gathering supplies and running here and there to get it all done before the day runs out. In the midst of the chaos there comes a moment that redirects my thoughts and reminds me why I do what I do and why God has made me who I am. Join me for a moment in my day!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Making Ahead: Laundry Soap

   It has been a perfectly drizzly, gray day. Rainfall is welcome, but he gloomy clouds I could do without. Days like this are 'catch up' days on my homestead giving me opportunity to do the things often pushed aside or overlooked by the busyness of it all. Eggs were boiled for quick protein pick me ups. Some fresh cheese is culturing. I even found time to stir up some of our creamy goats milk soap. One on hand item I really needed to get made ahead was my laundry soap.

into the soap container

   Some time ago we had some pipe problems in the area connected to our washing machine and sink. It seems the laundry detergents had been building up a glassy-type coating in the pipes that eventually blocked them.
   Several shoveled trenches later, we replaced those pipes and started researching laundry detergents; the making of them and the cost effectiveness of making them. With much test and trial, we have developed our version of home made detergent.

two bars of laundry soap, grated

bar soap (such as Zote, Fels Naptha, or my home made soap)
baking soda
boric acid (Borax)
washing soda (Arm &; Hammer)

   The first ingredient is bar laundry soap, such as Fels Naptha or I used two bars of Zote. Personally, I grate my soap by hand, however, a food processor works just fine. Size of flakes really isn't important here because we are going to blend it in the food processor in just a minute. The key is to get the bars grated and ready to process.
   Using the largest mixing bowl you can find, measure out your soap ingredients. For every one cup of grated soap flakes add one cup of borax, one cup of wash soda, and one-half cup of baking soda. Once this is measured out, get your food processor ready.

blending the soaps into a fine powder
   Now, this step is optional, but I really like the soap to be a finer powder than it is when measured out. I place scoops of the soap mixture into a food processor and pulse it until the bar soap is almost not noticeable. Blending it like this, the soap dissolves better in our cold wash cycles.
   The soap is stored in an airtight plastic container. I make as much soap at one time as my container will hold. As the soap is poured into the container after blending, you can add a few drops of essential oils to the soap and stir well. Sometimes I add tea tree oil, however, due to my frequent migraines I often leave it as is.
   This soap has several household uses. Using the soap for laundry, I add one fourth a cup to a standard wash load. If washing my husband's work clothes (he's a welder) I add half a cup and use an extra large cycle. A paste can be made for pre-treating a stain. Mixing the soap with water (equal parts) will result in a gel/liquid version of laundry soap (extra nice in unseasonably cold weather). For scrubbing powder, I mix one cup of prepared soap with one half a cup of coarse salt and a few drops of citrus essential oil. In the dishwasher, we simply fill the soap tray with prepared soap mix. Mixing a teaspoon of soap with a sink of warm water works great for hand washing dishes.
   We have been using this soap for several years now and are very satisfied with the results. Being mild in nature, this soap is gentle on the skin and non-drying; the lack of fragrances works well for our family suffering skin allergies and migraines. We have recently used it for scrubbing barn implements and stock tanks!
    Here's hoping tomorrow brings sunshine- I miss my garden!   

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Project or Two...or Three

   Holidays and a stomach bug have given me a chance to slow down the hectic pace I generally operate at. Here on the homestead there is always a project or two going on, and with my slow down I had time to get a few going.
   First off we have floor installation. Due to the erratic nature at which tornadoes drop trees on my house, it has been years since we replaced the floor; recent extreme humidity seasons made it more than necessary. Instead of replacing the linoleum tiles we opted to do it up right with laminate planks. Bedrooms already have a lighter color laminate which we love. Now the rest of our downstairs will have a heartier version. So far, living room complete, and I love it. 
    When the weather cooperated, we focused on changes to our greenhouse. Instead of low beds with a concrete stone path we have cinderblock raised beds filled with fresh organic growing medium. That along with a new shade cloth and some irrigation hoses should lend well to prolonging our greens harvest- we shall see. Despite the freezing drizzle, we do have sprouts popping up in the new beds- I can't wait for fresh lettuces, chard and kale!

     Then there is the slow down project; on that offers quiet to the mind. Quilt fabric is cut! With a grandbaby on the way there must be a quilt, right? Natural muslin joins with shades of green to form a 'friendship path' pattern complete with colorful tumbling blocks and creamy paths. There is also a birthday pillow in the works, but I can't show that one:) With a heater under my table the stitching has begun; a great way to unwind at the end of the day.
     A homestead is a busy place; ever changing, ever evolving. I love fresh ideas and activities bringing new life and productivity. As one project draws to a close another is sure to follow keeping us on our toes. Changes are coming in this new year- some will be difficult, all will be challenging, but come what may there is always a project or two to keep you mind occupied.  

Monday, January 6, 2014

Frost Cloth, Frozen Water and Back at It

      While the nation wraps itself in warm woolens huddled close by the fire I, too, sit near the warmth of burning embers- extra socks on my feet and a sweater over my jammies. Our temp only teased itself above the freezing point, never really getting the ice out of water buckets- needless to say, the livestock is not amused.

       Our homestead gardens are nestled beneath frost cloth and tucked safely inside the greenhouse while heat lamps and extra tarps cover stall and coop vents. My first day back in the office found me bundled up in the school gardens with the last bit of frost cloth found; an attempt to save the last remaining bits of the fall garden.
         Back to work also meant back to the gym. I won't lie- it was tough getting out there and working up a good sweat, but the farm boy and I really needed it. Cold as it was, we managed. Thankfully warm, nourishing soup was waiting for us at home. We curled by the heat for a hot bowl- he read literature lessons while I studied my herbalism lessons.
         I longed to be cuddled in my chair next to a roaring fire with a quilt in hand working in rhythm to the crackling embers. Since my right hand middle finger was jammed last week, hand work has been out of the question (not to mention the living room is a disaster- we are laying new floor). Going through an old dresser drawer I pulled this pretty blue tea cup quilt. I remember working the design with my daughter and stitching it for my mother; this sweet thing has been tucked away too long. Off to find a place to display it- I can't bear to put it back in the drawer- and maybe one more cup of hot tea before bed.  

Sunday, January 5, 2014


     Needless to say, it's cold outside! With an arctic blast making it way down south my homestead is nestled in trying to stay warm. No gardening. No raking or mucking. We are by the fire sipping coffee, only braving the elements when necessary.
     All that and my first day back at work since the holidays arrived, I thought we would distract ourselves from the unpleasantries with a little introduction. Join me in the classroom as we take a look at a new section of our blog..'The Go Lady'. You have heard some of my stories and seen a few of my activities, but now there is a place where bits and pieces of my 'other side' can make an appearance. Hop on over as I share with you The Beginning of the Go Lady.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Watercolor Ponies

     It's funny how you can be going about your day when out of nowhere something stops you right there in your tracts. The dishes done, I went for some cream to put in my coffee when it hit me, my refrigerator is naked. Unbelievable! When did the crayon portraits and watercolor pony art museum disappear? This bracing dose of reality hit me hard, and it wasn't pretty.
      Years ago my husband and I were invited to a concert- we had never been to a concert, but decided to pull ourselves together and give it a go. While there a song struck my heart. We were a young family with tiny bundles of trouble challenging us, so at the time, exhaustion and chaos seemed to rule our home. This song brought me out of my exhausted stupor and made me focus, taking a long much needed look at my heart. You see, my daughters loved to water color- and for one of my little girls, ponies were always a muse.
       Then and there I vowed to treasure the time and find the little things understanding that time flies and babies grow up. Year after year the water color ponies went from the indiscernible semblance of a thing, to canvas pieces from a painting class. There were photos from various events in their little lives and even a few bulls eye targets proudly displayed by our little boy. The fridge was a mural dedicated and ever changing, just like the children who kept it going.
        Today, the water color ponies have all but rode away. My girls have homes of their own and my son is heading for independence as well. The fridge is empty like the bed rooms that once housed doll houses and farm sets. In my moments of reflection my heart was reminded that to everything there is a season- and each season is to be treasured. The emptiness of my fridge is temporary as a grand baby is on the way- she will one day offer her treasures which I will proudly display, once again creating a mural of life and activity. There will be pictures of little ones growing and all the activity that fills there day.
        In this moment I thank God for His grace in blessing me with a beautiful and precious family, for guiding us as we have grown, and for the family still to come as He has planned. My prayers are lifted for young families facing the same exhaustion and challenges I faced so many years ago. I share with you the song that stirred my heart then and came back to my memory today. Enjoy the water color ponies, for one day they will ride away.


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Surveying the Seeds

      January starts the garden flow here on my homestead. The greenhouse is ready and waiting as I scatter seed packets across every surface. Dreaming and envisioning lively plants vigorously growing in the fertile soil, I make a list and check it twice- best be sure to have every seed needed for the upcoming season.
         As we survey the seeds, one important thing to note is storage. Seeds need to be kept cool and dry, preferably out of direct light. Here on the homestead, seeds are stored in plastic containers with an air tight seal. Desiccant packets are added to each container to further prevent moisture (these are often from a shoe purchase, a medicine bottle or such). Each container holds a grouping of seeds often planted in the same season, for example, the one I am working from today contains leafy greens, cole crops, radish and carrot, onion and the seeds of tomato and pepper which need started indoors for later. Due to humidity and extreme heat, seed containers stay comfortable and dark in the barn fridge.
            I am known for the 'notebook' issue; having one and carrying it everywhere. Once I 'outgrow' one, I carry two until weaned off the old one. That being said, there is always a spot in my current notebook where my seed list resides. What I have, what I need, and what I'm interested in are listed on a page (or two) with details regarding variety and quantity. There are side notes for my wish list, for example, I am wishing for a grapefruit tree and another lime tree. Since the notebook goes everywhere, I can reference it when seed/garden stops happen.
Hopefully this years seed starts will be as prolific and hearty as last years. Today we start the process and wait for the magic to begin.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Facing a New Year

     Blessings to each and every one of you on this start of a new year! It's time to take a deep breath and face 2014 square on; embrace it. The ending of one and starting of another is quite a challenge- the past few weeks have been a bit of an internal struggle for balance around here.
     Our holiday gatherings were simple and so precious; parents and grandparents joined us as our girls returned home for the visit. Hearty, homegrown meals were served in simple homestead settings as we shared, remembered and rejoiced. This family is blossoming and growing with new family members (two wonderful men!) and a precious new gift- a grandbaby on the way. What a celebration as we reflect on the past and look toward the future.
     The decorations are packed away; the house all clean and quiet again. I managed to find a little time for canning, cutting a new quilt, and preparing the garden for some early planting. Through it all my thoughts kept wondering to this little space on the big old web and how it will 'look' this year. In the past I have chosen a 'focus' for the year; an attempt at focusing myself and really putting some boundaries on my own thoughts. I'm not sure how focused it really made me.
      This year I have decided to let it be; no direction, focus, or hard core planning. We are going to live the blog like we live our life, day by day one task at a time. I am not abandoning the homestead series, but instead, letting it flow from my own daily tasks- for example, tomorrow I am organizing my seeds and preparing the compost- so that aspect of life and homesteading will come naturally. The classroom section of the blog is going to be home to a new glimpse into the 'other side of me' as I share my wonderful and sometimes challenging experiences as "The Go Lady"- again, it will simply flow from daily life without limitations or restriction.
     Since I have been studying the amazing world of herbalism and natural health, we will dig the earth and marvel in the joys of what nature has to offer- sharing recipes, remedies and help along the way. With my daughter having moved away, the herbal garden is fully in my charge this year and I have great plans to get down deep and work the wonders and beauty found there.
     Finally, as I face this new year my hope is to slow down and be- just be. To take the time to breath, stitch, plant, and play in every way possible. Working outside the home changes the structure of our days, and with one teen still home and homeschooling time to just be is truly needed to aide in balance and calm.
     I hope you will join me as we face this new year full of wonder, a bit of hesitation, and a whole lot of Godly love as we ponder what wonders He has in store for us.