Friday, December 30, 2011

Begin the New Year on a Positive Note (With Random Chicken Photos)~

Hello, dear friends!

We hope that you had a very happy Christmas, and that you have created wonderful memories to treasure for years to come. We're still gathering all the Christmas cards and paper bits that tell the story of this Christmas, and pasting them into a scrapbook, along with things we did and said, and learned.

We have been lately reading several books on the power of words and thinking to affect our lives for good or bad, and would like to issue a challenge for you. Let's do it as a group "New Year's Resolution," and make the world a better place!

You see, our bodies and minds "believe" the words we say, and respond with something akin to those words in a physical or emotional way. Beyond our own bodies, are those of all those with whom we interact each day.

There are so many phrases that are commonly used which do not serve our highest good, so let's start to cut them out and see what difference it makes for us (Believe me, this is a much easier exercise if you have children who can catch you when you forget!)

We're going to replace any negative words that we may have used in the past that do not serve us anymore, such as:

"I hate. . . "

"What a pain!"

"I can't stand. . ."

"I'm so sick and tired. . . "

"I can't wait. . ."

"Over my dead body (ouch)!"

Let's be especially careful when beginning a phrase with "I am," as this is summoning creation in our lives (e.g. "I'm sick", "I'm poor", "I'm so dumb", "I'm hopeless", etc.).

Not only do we speak these words, but we constantly have a dialog with ourselves running through our mind. This is where what I call "The Opposite Game" comes in especially handy, replacing thoughts like "I don't know what I'm going to do" with "I know exactly what I'm going to do!" It truly takes a lot of reminders and written notes (at least for me) to remember to do this, but I've been doing it for about six months now, and I have seen a great difference in how I feel about myself and my life situation. I still have moments when I flounder, but they are less frequent than they used to be.

So here's to a happy, positive New Year's, my friends! Let's do it both for ourselves and for those around us.




"Work joyfully and peacefully, knowing that right thoughts and right efforts will inevitably bring about right results."  

~James Allen

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Taking Peace This Christmas

Dearest Friends,

Thank you for visiting with us today. We hope that you are giving yourself the gift of peace before Christmas! So many times we feel guilty if we do not buy gifts for every person we've ever met (or so it seems), and run ourselves frazzled trying to make others happy. Our bodies, however, know that this is the time of year for rest and renewal, and can rebel after too much neglect.

Be sure to savor some time out in nature as much as possible (things always look better after a little fresh air), and bring your family with you if you can. A little nature exploration can be one of the memories you treasure in coming years, and you can find little treasures like seedpods and pine cones to give as gifts (include a little note about where you found your treasures, and why they're special to you).

We love decorating our home with nature, and our tree bears many natural decorations!

This mouse is made of two acorns and pipe cleaners~

An acorn cap "bird nest" with bean "eggs"~

~And a delightfully-scented clove-spiked orange slice!

 A dear friend sent us this super-adorable rabbit ornament~

~And another sent us this sweet angel that we love.

Instead of running to the store for a last-minute gift, why not take some time to nourish your soul today? You can always give post-Christmas gifts, which will be more remembered anyway!

Wishing you peace on this day,

(Napping with a cat is a great way to take peace)


It was the winter wild, 
While the heaven-born child
  All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies;
    Nature, in awe to him,
    Had doffed her gaudy trim,
  With her great Master so to sympathize:
~John Milton 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Boy Who Loved a Christmas Tree

Dear Friends,

Doesn't our post sound like a good book title? Frankie (and the girls) is soooo excited for Christmas he can barely stand it! He has been singing "Honk the Halls With Burning Love" at the top of his lungs (see what happens when you marry an Elvis impersonator?) every day, and asking if he can unwrap presents.

The top picture was taken right after Mr. Graham put the tree up; it has since been re-decorated at least three times, and tipped over by the cat only once. :) After looking at several Victoria Magazines, Tasha decided our tree should be more "Victorian" and added popcorn and cranberry strings, as well as lots of bells and other old-fashioned things.

It's dark and rainy here today, but we had a little skiff of snow on St. Nicholas Day, which was a nice treat.

~The chickens were less than delighted with the snow!

We had a fun cookie-making party for the Tall Dolls on St. Nicholas Day, followed by a little tea.

The birds have been mobbing the feeders lately. We had forgotten how many of them there are here in the winter! Where were they in the summer?
The deck railing makes an excellent blue jay feeder~

Ready for a refill~

Our little oyster mushrooms have been growing in the rain (we have two small logs that we brought home from a nearby woods); what a fun science project!
We finally feel in the holiday mood (we're late-bloomers that way) and have been working on last minute presents for everyone. AnnaMarie made tiny Advent calendars for all the children but Rebecca, and they have been wonderful for counting down the days (we'll have to take a good picture when the sun shines again).

This weekend we'll be performing for local nursing homes, so we're practicing daily. It's wonderful to have the oldest girls play their violin and harp for accompaniment. I tear up when I watch them playing together, since it's been a dream of mine for such a long time to have a family orchestra. Dreams really do come true!

Here's AnnaMarie fiddling away~ We'll have to get a good picture of Audrey on the harp, too!
Love and blessings to you all,


Friday, December 2, 2011

A Merry December to you!

Dear Friends,

A merry December to you! This year is just flying by~ as it reaches its close, we reflect back on all the little things that we did and didn't accomplish. It seems like just yesterday that we were putting away the decorations from Christmas, and planning all the wonderful things that we would do before we next took them out of storage.

One of the nicest things this year has been the gaining of new friends, and keeping up with longer acquaintances. One of our dearest friends even invited me to be in her newsletter which she has begun publishing. Imagine my surprise when I saw myself on the cover! If you'd like a peek at Emily's Desert Rose Homestead Newsletter, visit her blog here.

I think you'll be truly enchanted with what she has put together!

Now we're off to watch the girls practice for their latest at-home production of "The Nutcracker." This year's costumes are quite creative, being culled from the local thrift store where we volunteer!

Love and blessings,


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Happy Birthday Louisa May Alcott

Dear Friends,

Today is the birthday of one of our very favorite authors, Louisa May Alcott. We are so thankful to have several of her books, which contain such pearls of wisdom. Although I knew about "Little Women" as a child, I never actually read it (or any of her books) until I was a mother; maybe that's why the subtle morals mean so much to me!

Although she did not marry for have children of her own, her books won the hearts of children and families everywhere, earning her the title "The Children's Friend."

Here are some of our favorite quotes of Miss Alcott's~

"A faithful friend is a strong defense; And he that hath found him hath found a treasure."

"A little kingdom I possess, where thoughts and feelings dwell; And very hard the task I find of governing it well.

Do the things you know, and you shall learn the truth you need to know."

"Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead."

"Father asked us what was God's noblest work. Anna said men, but I said babies. Men are often bad, but babies never are."

"Good books, like good friends, are few and chosen; the more select, the more enjoyable."

"Happy is the son whose faith in his mother remains unchallenged."

"Have regular hours for work and play; make each day both useful and pleasant, and prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well. Then youth will be delightful, old age will bring few regrets, and life will become a beautiful success."
May we, like Louisa, leave our own legacy of love to those who follow.


p.s. The Girlhood Home Companion's newest issue features "Little Women." We'll be ordering a copy soon!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dear Friends,

It's a cold, drizzly day here in Kansas City. We hope you're staying warm, wherever you are! We want to thank you for your kind comments, and to welcome our newest followers. When we get to 200, you're all invited for a big party in the backyard (assuming it's not drizzling that day)! :)

We are feeling very blessed to have such positive feedback on our Ebooks, and feel very humbled by any help that we have been able to give. We were going to start working on a green smoothie/wild foods Ebook, but a book about chickens has been begging us to write it. Has this ever happened to you? I swear that creative ideas have their own personalities!

Who doesn't love a snuggly chicken?

We're going to be compiling a book of little stories about chickens that have touched people's lives, and hope that it will be a nice little read If any of you have a story (or photo) you'd like to share, we would love to include it! These are the categories so far: "Eggs and Chicks," "Proud Mamas," "Crazy Roosters," "Close Calls" (brushes with death), "Chickens Who Think They're Human," and "Gone, but not Forgotten." I think it will be a lot of fun to put together. I'm not sure how it will be published yet, but I'll let you know more details as I figure them out myself.

Here is a story that I wrote for the "Gone, but not Forgotten" chapter, to give you an idea of what the book includes~

The first chicken I owned when I grew up was a black Cochin named Rudy. I traded a couple of guinea pigs for him at the pet store, where he had been living in a birdcage. He was a very sweet boy, and we loved having him for just a few days. We found out that roosters were not allowed in the town in which we lived, and had to find a new home for him until we could move to the country.

My mother called up her friends who lived in the country, and they offered to keep him for us temporally. I had morning sickness until we moved, so I was not able to visit Rudy. When we had moved, I called to see if we could pick Rudy up, and was informed that he had been given to someone else.

It is needless to say that I was very sad at this news. I found the name of Rudy's new owners, then called and tried to get him back. I was told that his owners were too attached to him to give him up, so I never saw him again. 

This was a real lesson for me to make sure of the local laws, and to not assume that chickens are welcome just because they are sold in town.

There you have it! I've given you something to discuss at the Thanksgiving Table, and to think about while preparing the meal! :)
May you all enjoy a special day of love, fellowship, and of counting blessings. Of course, we count our friends among the greatest of ours.



Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Keeping Well This Season

Dear Friends,

A hearty "Thank you" to all of you who requested my books, and for spreading the word to your friends. For those who missed the giveaway, both books are available on our sidebar, for a nominal price.

We'd like to share some of our favorite ways of keeping well during the cold time of year. First off, we never refer to it as "cold and flu season," since we believe that calling it thus is inviting colds and flu into our households!

Secondly, we like to eat as many in-season foods as possible, such as cabbages, root vegetables, and squash, since they were given to us by a wise Creator who knows what our bodies need this time of year. We are always in awe when we study all the health benefits of the humble cabbage, alone (including being a colon cancer preventative).

Lovely red cabbage~

Third, we try to include as many bitter, sour, savory, and pungent foods as possible, as they help our bodies to digest the heavier fare which keeps us warm, while adding plenty of nutrients and immune-boosting qualities. Some of these include garlic and onions, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and pure apple cider vinegar (in salad dressings, as well as a warm drink made of 1 TBS vinegar, 1 tsp. powdered green stevia, and 8 ozs water).

Fresh ginger root is wonderful to chew or suck on when you feel you are coming down with something, and is much more socially acceptable than garlic! Fresh ginger makes a great infusion, too (we chop it in the blender with a little water, then add it to water that has come to a boil, then cooled slightly). You can also add powdered ginger to your cider vinegar drink.

We especially like the beautiful shapes that ginger comes in~

Culinary herbs that boost the immune system include: sage, thyme, hyssop, rosemary, and oregano. These all make good infusions as well, and can be drunken freely throughout the day. To make an infusion, we simply toss in a handful of dried herb of choice into a quart jar and fill it with almost-boiling water and put a lid or plate on top. We like to set the jar close to the kettle (but not touching the burner) while the water is heating, to lessen the chances of its shattering. We let it cool for at least half an hour, then strain and drink (with or without sweetener, depending on our mood). Of course you can use a teapot, too!

Elderberry is full of vitamins and minerals, and if used daily can be a tasty tonic (we like to make syrup or tincture for family use).

One of the most important things to remember is to keep yourself hydrated, since winter air is dry air. Drinking well-filtered or distilled water is the best, and at LEAST eight cups of water (this is really the bare minimum).

We hope we've given you a few ideas that you can put to use; feel free to share what you use in your home too!



Monday, November 14, 2011

Our Second eBook (and giveaway)

Dear Friends,

We have been enjoying a wonderful extended autumn at our cottage; the trees still have a few bright leaves hanging on, and the burning bush is a cardinal's dream come true! They love the camouflage it affords.

We are excited to have put up for sale our second ebook. This one is called "Home Birth Stories," and it tells of my learning experiences from newlywed to mother of several. I've included some of the natural remedies and tips that I learned along the way.

We're offering it free to all of our friends here for the next couple of days, with the hopes that you will spread the word by reviewing the book on your own blogs. And just for fun, we're giving away our first eBook, "The Young Lady's Guide to Natural Health," as well. Just contact me with your email address if you would like a pdf copy of either ebook sent to you.

Many blessings to all!



Friday, November 4, 2011

~Welcome November~

Dear Friends,

A happy day to you, and an especial welcome to all our new followers! Thank you for coming by and sharing our cottage life with us. On this day last November, we were still in Idaho, getting all the last minute things ready before loading up the truck and moving to Missouri.

We've been through four full Missourian seasons now, and have loved every one!


We've learned to overcome our fear of ticks, chiggers, brown recluse spiders, and copperhead and cottonmouth snakes (well, mostly). Oh yes, and poison ivy.


We've learned that Osage Orange fruits smell heavenly (and make wonderful playthings)~

And that honey bees come into your house in October and November, but they can be kept out by feeding them a bit of honey away from the house.

We've also learned that if you photograph chickens at just the right angle, they look like they have two heads! :)

We've fallen in love with all the new varieties of fungus we've discovered (this one is Wood Ear mushroom, which is edible and medicinal),

And we've discovered a few unusual mammals here, too!

We hope that you are making lots of discoveries, too, and enjoying nature in all its glory.



"Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn."
-   Elizabeth Lawrence

Thursday, October 27, 2011

And. . .He's. . . .Safe (The Adventures of Fatty Bolger)!!!

Home Sweet Home!

Dear Friends,

Thank you for coming by today~ We are all coming out of our "End of the Warm Weather Funk" that was hanging around the past few weeks. Some year we KNOW that we will remember to take it easy when the weather starts to change, as our bodies crave rest, and our spirits crave comfort during this time. :) From reading others' blogs, I suspect that I am not alone in this feeling! 

It is easy to get so caught up in all of the activities of fall (and in the back of our minds are the upcoming holidays),  that we forget how busy we have been all summer, and that we need a little down time before we can shift gears. Driving ourselves harder, however, does not give the hoped for results, but instead drives us into bed with a cold or fever. Then we HAVE to slow down and take care of ourselves, et voila! we feel better. :) 

If you are in a "funk" right now, and feel like you're liable to spin out into space, you have my permission to take a hot bath, listen to some beautiful music, and write down all the things you accomplished this past summer (or year, if you have time), and what you wish you could have accomplished. Writing things down is greatly therapeutic, when you don't know what it is that is the matter. Remember that the tide always comes back eventually, no matter how long it may seem!

Blessings to you all, dear friends!

With love,


Out in the Fields With God

The little cares that fretted me,
I lost them yesterday,
Among the fields, above the sea,
Among the winds at play;
Among the lowing of the herds,
The rustling of the trees,
Among the singing of the birds,
The humming of the bees.

The foolish fears of what may pass,
I cast them all away
Among the clover-scented grass,
Among the new-mown hay;
Among the rustling of the corn,
Where drowsy poppies nod,
Where ill thoughts die and good are born,
Out in the fields with God.

~Author Unknown

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Visit With Friends, and to Amish Country

Dear Friends,

A blessed Sabbath to you! Yesterday the temperatures warmed up enough to make a perfect day to go visit our beautiful friend Emily from Desert Rose Homestead. She and her family were visiting Missouri, and invited us to join them for a picnic at Adam-Ondi-Ahman (a spot that is sacred to Latter-Day Saints).

Mr. Graham was nice enough to chauffer the troop, and as we left Kansas City we whizzed past the Sports Center, as well as Worlds of Fun.

The traffic decreased as we traveled north, and we knew we weren't in the city any more when we had to cautiously pass this combine!

We also passed this tractor supply store, and Frankie informed us that he would own every single tractor when he grows up~

A farmhouse with a windmill in the front yard told us we were close to our destination~

And finally we were there!

Emily and her family were patiently waiting for us when we arrived (we misjudged the driving time by almost an hour!), and everyone had a wonderful time catching up and munching on the goodies provided.

There were lots of uninvited guests at the picnic, too, including lots of ladybugs and spiders!
There was just enough time to play "Hide and Seek" while we put things away,

And for making a fairy house in the big oak tree!

Though we wished we could have stayed together longer, it was finally time to part ways, until the next happy day when we could visit again. One thing that I love about Emily's family is that they are at the same stage we are, of dreaming about that piece of land and working toward making it a reality. We've been so very blessed to make so many wonderful friends through blogging!

We spent some time absorbing the peaceful spirit that prevails at this special spot, and collected a few rocks and seeds to remember it by.

Some of us decided to rest on Father's shoulder instead!

We then decided to drive through Jamesport, the largest Amish community in Missouri. Although it was definitely a tourist attraction, it was a wonderful thing to see the buggies and wagons, and not be the only ones who are stared at because of their apparel! ;)

We found a little store that we selling apples, and bought a bushel of Red Delicious and a peck of Honey Crisps for $10 each; what a bargain! The owner of the store, Mr. Yoder, took time to come out and talk to us, while swinging on one of two porch swings out front. Not quite like shopping in the city!

We felt truly at home in Amish country, and it was a little difficult dragging ourselves away and heading back to "civilization." Seeing all the farmhouses along the way, and picking up a local small town newspaper and perusing the "farms for sale" section helped to fuel our dream of finding our own place beyond the sidewalks. We know it's out there somewhere!

Thank you so much for coming along with us today, and may all your worthy dreams come true.