Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Goodbye, September!

Dear Friends,

Welcome to our home today~thank you so much for your kind comments, as always. They brighten our day in a wonderful way!

It is a cold, wet day today. The thermometer says it's 40 degrees, and it's supposed to get down to 29 degrees tonight. Brrr! We have scurried to save everything we could in the garden before Jack Frost REALLY came to call (He's only popped by a few times so far :) ), and have spent as much time as possible outdoors, soaking up the warmth and sunshine of this beautiful time of year.

Although we would dearly love to have a root cellar, and an attic, and lots of produce to have filled them both, we are grateful that we were able to gather and grow what we did, and for our home in which to keep it safe. We feel very blessed with just what we have.

Along with the products of field and vine, the summer sunshine has grown in us ever more the love of God's creations, and an awe of all that there is to learn about them. Truly each day is a miracle, given to us through His great love. All we have to do is reach out and take hold of that miracle, sifting out the good from the bad, and growing from the trials and tribulations that we are called to pass through.

My friends, I pray that you will be strengthened to bear with ease whatever load you may be called to carry. Remember that you will not be given more than what you can handle, good or bad! May we prepare our minds and hearts for all the good that He is willing to give, as well as those experiences which are here to help us grow to be more like He is.




To Autumn

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;

To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;

To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,

And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,

Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:

And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too, -

While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river swallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;

And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

~John Keats

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Preserving Time~And Elderberries!

Dear Friends,

A happy day to you! We're so glad you popped by, and thankful for your ongoing friendship.

We have had a couple of frosts this past week, so have been scurrying to save what we can of the tomatoes, squash, etc. Then the neighbors called to say we could have their extra beets, corn, and plums that they couldn't use, on top of gallons of hawthorn berries and elderberries that we had just picked the day before! We remind ourselves of the bees that are scurrying to suck the last drops of nectar out of the flowers before winter.

After tediously processing hawthorn berries (They have to be simmered with water, then pressed through a jelly bag to make syrup), we are grateful to be processing elderberries now~

Elderberries grow into trees of considerable size.

There are lots of elderberries in Wolverine Canyon this year.

They have little, easily-eaten seeds and are easy to dry whole in the dehydrator, to be used later as a cold and flu preventative. They are also easily juiced in a Green Star or other high-quality juicer. We like to eat them raw, too, although they can cause digestive upset while still in the green stage.

Elders and Hawthorns grow together in the hills.

Here is an article that my father wrote about elderberries back in the 1960s. If you live where there are wooded country roads, it would be well worth your time to search out these wonderful trees and partake of their bounty. Swine Flu scare, begone! :)

Till next time,



Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thursday Breakfast Tea~

Dear Friends,

Thanks to our sweet friend Emily at A Beautiful Life for sponsoring another Thursday Tea Time! We certainly would not have taken the time and effort to get out our best china and eat in the parlor, if not for you, dear!

This morning we had some lovely zucchini pancakes with our tea, with homemade hawthorn berry syrup and banana/lavender custard for dessert.

The tea was a blend of lavender blossoms and goldenrod from our garden,

and all was sweetened with a product called "More Fiber Stevia Baking Blend", which we used because it is diabetic friendly, and won't raise AnnaMarie's blood sugar. Normally we use regular powdered stevia, but its green color is not quite so appealing on the tea table!

Audrey brought along her "Princess Guide" book, to make sure everything was done properly.

What's this? Was Tasha caught in a tea-time transgression?

We had a very special guest with us in the parlor today: a little caterpillar who turned into a jewel last night while we were sleeping~

We hope that he or she has time to turn into a butterfly before the weather is too cold to fly south. This was the first Monarch caterpillar we'd found all summer, so we were very excited about it.

Thank you for joining us today for our Breakfast Tea; may you enjoy the simple pleasures that the day holds for you.




A Day Of Tea

I like a nice cup of tea in the morning,
For the start of the day you see,
And at half past eleven,
For my idea of heaven,
Is a nice cup of tea.

I like a nice cup of tea with my dinner,
And a nice cup of tea with my tea.

And when it's time for bed,
There's a lot to be said,
For a nice cup of tea!


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

It's Hawthorn-berrying Time!

Dear Friends,

It was so very kind of you to drop by today~we are grateful for every visitor we receive at Merry Hearts Cottage, and for your kind and encouraging comments!

We've been busily gathering Hawthorn berries lately, to use as food and medicine. Wolverine Canyon is loaded with berries this year (if you know where to look).

Although the haw (the name of the berry) is not very sweet, or very juicy, and has hard little seeds inside, it is very good made into a syrup or jam for eating.

Medicinally, hawthorn berries are a famous heart tonic, helping to strengthen that very important organ, which gets strained so much by the stresses of modern life. They lower blood pressure, and help dissolve cholesterol and calcium deposits. Since they lower blood pressure, obviously you wouldn't want to take them for this medical condition! The berries and leaves are also used as a nervine, helping to restore a feeling of well-being after the stresses of the day, and to prevent insomnia (Remember, of course, I'm just an herbwife giving friendly information :) ). Quoting from the lovely book "Backyard Medicine", "Taking hawthorn calms the spirit, and gives good results in menopausal mood swings, restlessness, and anxiety; it will quieten overactive children who have ADHD."

Just lying under a Hawthorn tree seems to have a calming effect!

We are so grateful to our Heavenly Father for providing these wonderful foods and medicine, growing wild and free, all around us. It is such a blessing to see how many provisions have been made for every ill that besets us.

Using Hawthorn berries may make Merry Hearts Cottage an even merrier place!

May your heart be made merry today, as well.




"The Hawthorn Tree"

by Nathan Haskell Dole

At the edge of the hedge is a hawthorn tree,
And its blossoms are sweet as sweet can be,
And the bees are humming there all the day,
And these are the words I hear them say:-
Sweet, sweet is the Hawthorn Tree!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thursday Tea Time

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for coming by today~You're just in time for tea!

We decided to set out two tables today, so there will be plenty of room if you want to bring a doll or two :)~
While we bigger folks will sit at the bigger table here~

The Japanese Knotweed is in bloom, and makes a lovely centerpiece~

Add some pretty cups and saucers, a few healthful refreshments (Except maybe for the pickles), a lemon slice~

And we're all ready to enjoy a few moments of each others' company! Oh yes, don't forget the tea: today's tea is a blend of sage leaves and linden blossoms, very yummy and nourishing.

(Should you be in the mood for something a little more filling than carrots, popcorn, and pickles, we'll be serving up garden-fresh ratatouille in a few minutes here :) )

Thank you to Emily of A Beautiful Life for motivating us to have our party today~we hope you all enjoyed it as much we did it. May you have a blessed day, dear friends, till next time.




My fields are not too rich in grain,
My orchard trees are lean and few;
But, friend of mine, come once again,
Ever their yield belongs to you!

The rooms within my house are small,
Their furnishings are not the best;
But, friend of mine, my home and all
It holds is yours--come you and rest!

~Sydney B. Cooksley

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Doll's Fair~Happy Labor Day!

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for coming by Merry Hearts Cottage today! We hope you enjoyed a lovely weekend.

We returned yesterday from a little trip to Utah, where we attended the 40th anniversary celebration of Grandma and Grandpa Graham. It was a lovely family reunion, and we were thankful to have been able to see everyone there.

This morning, the backyard was busily transformed into a fairground, in preparation for the annual Doll's Fair. Although we must confess that it may not have been as fancy as Tasha Tudor's, it was definitely creative!
Benjamin Franklin did quite well as the ticket man.

One of the main attractions was a siamese tiger!

There were horse races~

A dog show~

A vegetable display~

Many exhilarating rides~

And giant chickens? ?

There were also wholesome refreshments for all~

And many hand-crafted items for sale.

In short, it was a day to remember, and much nicer than the fair going on down the road, with all the crowds and loud noises!

May all of you be held in the hollow of the Lord's hand throughout the upcoming week.




These Simple Things

These things I delight: The shape of a tree,
A wide-open gate for much company,
A hackberry fire, snow in the air,
Books at my hand, and a deep, soft chair.
I am fond of bird music and innocent fun,
The prayer of the earth when a shower is done,
The laugh of a child and the rhythm of tear,
The sigh of a bud when the blossom appears.
I love the sharp fragrance of a balsam and pine,
The scent of warm bread, and the wild grapevine.
The breath of new snow, spring water that flows
Are high in perfumes with the scent of the rose.
I've a zest for the eating of honeybee meal,
The tang of the cress with crab apple peel,
For the flesh of red haw and sassafras rind
To quicken the palate and kindle the mind.
I delight in rough towels and take special pride
In sheets that are hung in the dew and sun-dried.
I love a flat pillow, wind in my hair,
And a quilt that is woven with silence and prayer.

~Jennie Harris Oliver