Friday, May 28, 2010

Happy Memorial Weekend!

Dear Friends,

A merry Friday to you, and a happy Memorial Day weekend! We hope that you will be able to spend some time in reverent meditation, remembering those dear to you who have passed away, as well as those who gave their lives for the cause of freedom.

We are so excited to see a bit of sunshine right now! We have had rain and clouds so much that we wonder if we were not transported unawares to Mordor ;) . But we know that the moisture is desperately needed in this desert land, so we are grateful for all that we can get.

We are preparing as much as possible for the birth of our new little one (Who, Lord willing, will be born peacefully at home.), with one of the sweetest chores being hanging out the little blankets and tiny clothes that will soon be required (When they finally dry, they should be REALLY fresh :) ). Having a baby is one of those things that never quite seems real, until it really, truly happens, but hanging out the baby things and readying the bureau help make it more tangible.

Mr. Graham has been helping us make our own plant presses and herbariums, using the instructions on this video

and this blog. We finally will not have to hunt through all our heavy books in search of a snippet of greenery that we stuck in!

~Plant press a la "Shabby Chic"

We also have been studying flower parts and types of flowers, which I think has been more educational for me as the teacher. Do any of you know of a children's book that you would recommend to help make learning the plant parts more easy?
~AnnaMarie's "flower cluster types"

We have been trying to learn each new flower that we see on our visits to nature, as well as the mushrooms that will be sprouting up everywhere after all this rain.

~Mystery mushrooms

And, in wild eating news :) , We were tickled to be able to buy these two books to give us new information and ideas for thriving off the land, no matter what situation arrives. I would highly recommend both of these books, "The Forager's Harvest" by Samuel Thayer, and "The Essential Wild Food Survival Guide" by Linda Runyon. So far, we were surprised to learn that Siberian Elm seeds, both immature and mature, make tasty food, and that you can grind up dried lamb's quarters, clover leaves, and even grass to use mixed with flour for baked goods. There's no reason why anyone should starve when things are rough! But the time to learn and become accustomed to these foods, even just a little, is now when we have the luxury of exploring and experimenting, NOT in an emergency situation.

Oh yes, and the robins are finally FLEDGLINGS! Can you believe how fast they've grown? Here they are at eight days old~

And here is a little English sparrow we named "Jack", who really isn't dead, just hypnotized. We rescued him from going into the highway a few days ago, and (AnnaMarie) fed him on watermelon and sunflower seeds until he was big enough to fly back into his tree. Springtime is full and overflowing of new life of all kinds! Even though it may be cloudy and rainy (and snowy and windy), we count our blessings to be alive this time of year, and to explore the beauties and wonders all around us.

Blessings and love to you,



"The naked earth is warm with Spring,
And with green grass and bursting trees
Leans to the sun's kiss glorying,
And quivers in the sunny breeze."

~Julian Grenfell

p.s. We've just posted an article by my father about, of all things, eating weeds! My mother was always embarrassed by his "weed patch" :) .

Monday, May 24, 2010

Happiness is. . .

Dear Friends,

We extend a warm welcome to all of our new friends who may have recently come upon us, and thank you so much for your sweet comments, as always! We had to laugh at Lady Farmer's comment on the last post; eating baby robins, eew! :) The robins made their nest in our neighbor's poplar tree, four feet off the ground, which makes us nervous about cats. We've been taking pictures of them every other day, and are amazed at how fast they've grown!

Here they are at four days~

~And already getting their feathers in at six days.

Mama robin does not appreciate the photo shoot!

In between rain, snow, and high winds, we've been having lots of fun going for nature walks in our favorite spots~

And finding lots of interesting "mutant" dandelions!

This one had three "heads"!

And these had three and eight!

The more we learn about nature and the wonders of God's world, the more amazed we are at the sheer variety within each and every species; truly we ourselves are each unique and have our own gifts to offer the world!

As far as job and baby news, Mr. Graham is still patiently waiting to hear back on several offers, and we are now officially one week from our due date. Things are bound to get mighty interesting around here :) ! We are still full of faith that the Lord has a plan for this little family, that He will reveal in His own due time. How wonderful to know that we are not the ones in charge of our lives, but that One who is perfect and knows what is best for us, is indeed leading and guiding us always.

May you also be blessed with the peace "which passeth understanding", in whatever situation you may be. Know that you are loved more than you could ever imagine.



I used to hate to sweep the floors and mop and scrub and dust.
I used to hate to wash and iron and wonder why I must;
The dishes too, that awful task, that came three times a day.
I sometimes thought I'd call a strike, or maybe run away.

A gray-haired neighbor came one day, when I was all upset
With churning, baking, washing, and dinner yet to get.
I told her how I hated it, my life was but a grind;
She smiled and said perhaps my trials were mostly in my mind.

I doubted her, and yet her hair was white as driven snow.
She'd lived a heap more years than I, and surely ought to know.
"These tasks are not so hard," she said, "I've done them all my life."
It's just because you hate, my dear, that causes all the strife."

I thought perchance she might be right, and so I tried her scheme
And brought about such changes it seems just like a dream;
I ceased to hate and lo, behold! my home became a shrine of love.
And all the hated humble tasks seemed like blessings from above.

~Agnes Just Reid

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Springtime Miracles

Dear Friends,

Isn't it amazing that something that looks like this~

Could turn into this in a few short weeks?

"Feed me!"


And that these could be made into tasty muffins? ;)

Enjoy the miracles that surround you today~



Thursday, May 13, 2010

Basketry and Dandelions

Dear Friends,

Happy day! We finally "took the plunge" and made our first baskets ever :) ! We used the tutorial from this blog that "Garden Mama" pointed out to us on her lovely blog. AnnaMarie and I used the trimmings from our little pussy willows we had lying around; needless to say, it didn't work as well as nice, little weeping willow branches would have been, but hey, it's a start!

Then we decided to get out the basket-making kit that I had bought at a thrift store a couple of years ago, and Audrey and I tackled that one. Hopefully we'll get lots better with practice ;) . Making things that are useful and beautiful is such a good feeling, and so is being able to cross something off our "Things We'd Like to Learn to Do" list!

Tasha didn't get a chance to make a basket, but she did make this beautiful fairy house for our little winged friends~

We have been feasting on dandelions lately, since they are so abundant this year. So far, we've made dandelion root "coffee" (which is VERY good), pesto from leaves and blossoms (one really good, and one not so good), dandelion "beer" (it went bad), dandelion pancakes using the whole blossoms (not well-received), and cornmeal dandelion blossoms muffins using blossoms we had run through the blender first (very well-received and mild-flavored). Oh yes, and in our salads and "green smoothies", of course! We keep asking ourselves why we didn't feast on them before!

I was so inspired, I wrote a silly song about dandelions (which I may or may not add to) for your enjoyment~


(To the tune of Barbara Allen)

There is a plant that we all know,
It grows near every dwellin'.
It is truly Nature's pot of gold;
Its name is dandelion.

Now here is something you can use
For food, and drink, and medicine;
It keeps your liver nice and clean,
And helps keep folks from dyin'.

~M. Graham

Dandelions really ARE a pot of gold! After learning of all its health benefits, we are dumb-founded that it has become a hated "weed".

Here is a list of ailments that dandelion aids, according to the book "Herbally Yours" by Penny C. Royal:

Age Spots
Blood Purifier
Gall Bladder
Gall Stones
Low Blood Pressure
Skin Diseases

Isn't that truly amazing? I hope that you are lucky enough to have a patch of poison-free dandelions growing somewhere near you, so that you can take advantage of this wonderful, free gift, too!



Monday, May 10, 2010

Bitter is Better~ The Forgotten "Taste"

Dear Friends,

Welcome to our cottage today! We hope you had a very wonderful Mother's Day yesterday, and that every day you can find something to celebrate, if you are a mother. We were blessed to be able to gather at my mother's with my brothers and their families, to enjoy fellowship with her (and to enjoy her yard full of beautiful blooms!).

~And we found some catnip that we just might share with the cats :).

~Oh yes, and Frankie found a friend.

Last week, Tasha and I hauled out our tincture press and finally pressed out all the various tinctures and oils that had been patiently waiting for us (Mr. Graham had to help with pressing the last hard bit)~

And Tasha even labeled all of them, so we actually know what is what, instead of having to guess by taste and smell!

What a nice feeling it is to have that done!

We have been doing some herbal studies lately, and wanted to share with you this insightful article that we encountered concerning bitters, and why they're so important in our daily diet. I'm the type of person who is much more likely to do something if it is explained WHY I should be doing it, and this article does just that. It is rather long, being a PDF file, so I would recommend printing it out and studying it when you have time. I really hope you will, for it is so important, and could change the health of your family for the better! I really like what he says about the fact that when we crave sweet foods, we are actually craving bitter, and that if we eat something bitter instead of sweet, that sweet craving will go away. Try it! I would challenge you to add a few more bitter greens to your salads each day. Go ahead, take a nibble on a dandelion leaf and see what your body's response is!

May you have a blessed, wonderful day today, dear friends, in whatever you may be doing.




Counting My Blessings

Not once a year, but once a day
I count the blessings that come my way;
The world just showers its gifts on me
If I but pause to hear and see.

There's the rose of dawn, the robin's song,
A tree pointing Heavenward all day long;
There's the kindly rain, the drifting snow,
There's the sunset grand and the fire's warm glow.

There's a baby's smile, a friendly hand,
There's someone who's sure to understand;
There's a memory of those "passed on;"
There's a hope that whispers, "They are not gone."

With benedictions everywhere,
Each day is a joyous, happy prayer;
A grateful prayer to Him above
Who fills this earth with His boundless love.

~Agnes Just Reid

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

"Wolverine Park"

Dear Friends,

One of my birthday gifts from my mother was a book of poetry written by a good friend of my grandmother's, Agnes Just Reid. My mother remembers walking with her mother to visit Mrs. Reid, who lived up the hill from them. Mrs. Reid was a locally famous author, who published many poems and articles for both local and national papers, and inspired my grandma to write beautiful poetry of her own.

One of the poems in this book is titled "Wolverine Park", which just happens to describe how I feel about our favorite local wild place (Although it's now known as Wolverine Canyon). I thought I might share it with you, along with some of our favorite photos of Wolverine~

"Wolverine Park"

A Wolverine that is to be

A thing of beauty, a joy to see.

Boulevards climbing the mountain side,

Bridle paths climbing to vistas wide

Rust bridges and waterfalls,

Silent glens where the coyote calls.

Peaceful nooks in the friendly shade,

Deer that loiter unafraid.

Growing things as they are today,

Each little plant in its own sweet way.

Trees that have stood for ages past

Given the chance to live at last;

Mammoth things that no arm can span,

Not to be felled by heedless man.

Caves and caverns so strange and weird

Filled with relics to be revered.

A grand museum that God has wrought

Tucked away in that magic spot.

Winter or summer or spring or fall,

Each changing season best of all.

Wolverine with its towering walls,

Looking like ruins of castle halls.

Wolverine with its splendor grand

Wonderful, wonderful wonder land!

May it be a playground wide and free

For generations yet to be.

~Agnes Just Reid

We hope that you have a little spot of natural beauty that you can escape to, to feel the wonder of God's creations!