Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Happy Birthday AnnaMarie and Rebecca

Dear Friends,

Today we celebrate the births of our "bookend" girls, AnnaMarie (who's turning fourteen) and Rebecca (who's turning one). We are so blessed to have both of them in our family, and are grateful for the sunshine they bring into our lives!

Since Mr. Graham and Grandpa had the day off yesterday, we had a birthday/Memorial Day celebration filled with lots of fun and cake and ice cream. :)

Grandpa ensured that we had a proper flag ceremony~

~Followed by war stories and a water-gun reenactment (kind of)~

~The girls received some lovely gifts~

~And made a wish or two over the coconut cream/lavender cake, with real rose petals

~Miss Button Nose, of course, had her own cake to enjoy at her leisure~

Thank you so much for coming by today, and celebrating with us!



Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Giveaway Winners

Dear Friends,

 A happy day to you! Thank you all for entering our drawing; we wanted everyone to win! We pulled names out of a hat this morning, and our winners are: Evelyn for the ebook, and Debbie for the hen and chicks.  We think it's funny that Debbie's blog name is "No Spring Chicken!" How appropriate! :)
We hope you ladies enjoy your gifts! The eBook and print are available for purchase, as well. Here is a link for the eBook, and here is a link for the print.

 And now we'll be off to explore all the wonders of our yard~

 Like lilliputian mushrooms~

Red, red roses~

And pea and . . .  

. . .Clover blossoms!~


"The Happiness we give to others will return to make our own hearts rejoice."~ Anonymous

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Merry Little Giveaway!

Dear Friends,

Thank you for the sweet anniversary wishes! We have been busily drawing chickens and working on our next book (whew!), in addition to our new fun schedule of helping out at our local favorite thrift store three times a week (and being gifted with lots of treasures).

I drew this hen and chickens for my mother's upcoming birthday. She has been asking for years for one of her artistic children to paint her a picture to illustrate the scripture found in Matthew 23:37: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" I made up my mind to do it at last, and was happy to find just the right photo to draw it from on the internet (I could not find the owner of the photo, so if it is yours, thank you! ;) ).

The winner may choose with or without the mat and scripture~
(This is not a very good picture; we will have professional prints made!)
I would like to give away a print of this drawing to one of you, and also a copy of my eBook "The Young Lady's Guide to Natural Health." There will be two winners, one for each item. Please indicate which one you would like to win in your comment.  Names will be drawn on May 25th, which is my mother's birthday. Good luck to you all!



Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Happy Anniversary to My Sweetheart

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for your kind comments about our book, and thank you for those of you who have read it and said nice things about it. :) Putting out a book is a little like baring your soul to the world, giving a feeling of "What if they think I'm nuts?" as you announce it to the world!

Yesterday was the fifteenth anniversary of my marriage to Mr. Graham. He had to work, but we celebrated afterwards with faina pizza and soy/goat ice cream.

Mr. Graham gave me another beautiful bouquet, this time of pink and cream roses~ we agree with the quote "I would rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck!"

Mr. Graham has also been teaching himself to play the guitar, and can play "Love Me Tender" already. Never believe that you are too old to learn a new skill!

The girls put on a funny skit in honor of our anniversary~
We are very blessed to have a peony bush and a few irises blooming out back. When we moved in, we weren't sure what kind of yard we would have, and we have been pleasantly surprised by many things~

~Like faery roses in the woods!~

May you be blessed today with many blessings to count, both great and small!




"Give all to love;
Obey thy heart;
Friends, kindred, days,
Estate, good fame,
Plans, credit, and the muse;
Nothing refuse.."

- R.Emerson

Friday, May 13, 2011

Announcing Our First eBook~

Dear Friends,

Thank you for coming by today! We are excited to have put together a little eBook on natural health for girls (and their mothers). Mr. Graham is working on putting it up on Lulu for distribution as a mini book and a digital reading device-compatible file (I'm so glad I married a graphic designer!), but for now it is available as a PDF link.

We wrote the book with the intention of blessing those who are interested in natural methods for improving both mental and physical health. It was a lot of fun to put together, using pictures of the girls as illustrations.

The Young Lady's Guide To Natural Health

Book Introduction:
The purpose of this book is to give you, the reader, a brief introduction into the world of natural health. I have gathered all the information that has helped me in the past 15 years of study, and put together the best and easiest tips for anyone who wants to improve their health. I have included many references for your further study. Really learn about one thing a week, or a month, and you will be an expert before you know it.

You may feel that you are too busy to take care of your health, with school and other activities taking up so much time, but I promise that if you will learn and apply these simple steps, you will have more energy to do all the things on your busy schedule. It will continue to bless you and your family throughout your life.

A practical introduction to natural health for girls ages ten and up. Includes tips on maintaining physical, spiritual and mental health. Available as a 32 page eBook pdf file digital copy.

Chapter 1: A Healthy Mind
Lovely Books and Periodicals for Girls, Uplifting and Inspirational Music, Affirmations and Visualizations, Starting and Ending Your Day

Chapter 2: Nature’sDoctors
Fresh Air, Sunshine, Exercise, Earth

Chapter 3: Diet
What to Eat, Foods to Avoid, Recipes, What to Drink

 Chapter 4: Caring For Your Body
What to Wear, Natural Hair Care, Care of Teeth, Care of Skin, Natural Skin Care Recipes, Care of the Eyes

Chapter 5: YourChanging Body

Here is a link to purchase the book (we'll have it available on the sidebar, too)~

The Young Lady's Guide to Natural Health

May you be blessed today, dear friends one and all.



Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Remembering Grandma Hess

Dear Friends,

I forgot to show you our little robins the other day: We took pictures of each one as it hatched, and now they have grown exponentially!



Today is the 100th birthday of my Grandma Hess, who was my one and only babysitter during my childhood years. She lived next door to us and was my best buddy. I remember going with her to church meetings and pretending that I knew the words while she helped me hold the hymn book. She drove a little gray Opal, and always wore blue canvas sneakers, a dress, and an apron. She did her hair up in those scratchy wire curlers so popular back in the early 70s, and I would watch the magical transformation as she removed them from her hair.
She nursed my grandpa while he was dying from cancer, and held his hand in the dark while his spirit returned Home. When he was still here, she would iron all his clothes, including his handkerchiefs, sprinkling them with a green plastic bottle made for the occasion.

After Grandpa died, Grandma was never the same. She always seemed a little lonely, and we were all too young and busy to fill the void very well. My Aunt Eleanor gifted her with a trip to Europe, which was exciting for a while, and she later served a mission for our church, serving others with a grandmother's love.

I was out on our porch, snapping beans, when a neighbor came running to our house, asking for my mother. The neighbor was the bearer of bad news that day; he came to tell us that he found my grandma's body in her home, after feeling as if he should pay a visit. She had just brought us some scraps to feed the chickens, and it seemed impossible that she could be gone so fast.

I was all of eleven years old at the time, but it seems like yesterday. Although Grandma's body may be at rest, I know that her spirit is always close by, and that she is loving her great-grandchildren as if they were her own.

Happy birthday, Grandma! Thank you for giving me your love of all things feminine, and your spirit of selfless service.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Happy Golden Days

Dear Friends,

A happy late Mother's Day to all of you, whether you are mothers physical or spiritual! We had a busy day yesterday, going to church, then singing for the lonely, forgotten folks at a local nursing home. Then we came home and readied the house for my in-laws, to come over for dinner.

Mr. Graham gave me a beautiful bouquet and watermelon for Mother's Day (he knows me pretty well!), and the girls and Frankie gave me some sweet flowers, too.


 My mother-in-law gave me a basket of marigolds for the garden~

Today we recovered by going thrift store shopping and finding "new" treasures. :) Would you like to see some of them?
A trio of dinner bells~

 A vase to match a teacup I had found earlier~

Beautiful old teacups and saucers, too fragile to use!

A sweet old "mother" cup from the 1950s~

Pretty old bottles to put herbal vinegars in~

And a beautiful soap dispenser with a farm scene and flower/candle holder~
Each of these things were under three dollars (most under one dollar)~ I feel very blessed and excited each time I find a special treasure; they really are out there! I also bought a whole bag full of books for $5, and found a desk and bookcase set for under $20 on Saturday. Now to get those marigolds in the ground; may you have a beautiful day, dear friends.



Friday, May 6, 2011

It's Honeysuckle Time!

Dear Friends,

Welcome to Birdsong Cottage today! It is a beautiful, sunny day today, following a nice, soaking rain yesterday. The garden (and weeds) is growing nicely, and we've already been harvesting a few radishes and lettuce. We hope that we'll be harvesting peas before long (barring unforeseen chicken attacks)!

Here's Frankie sampling the radishes~

We are blessed to have a little woodlot with a stream in it behind our home, and we are excited to have the honeysuckle bushes coming into bloom. If every family in the area harvested honeysuckle blossoms in the spring to enjoy in their homes, they wouldn't be so invasive!

We think the blossoms look like fairy dancers!

We have been experimenting with using honeysuckle medicinally, and harvested enough almost-opened buds to make a jar of honeysuckle glycerin (we're out of honey, or we would use it, too). We're going to dry some for les tisanes, as well. It takes a LOT of blossoms to fill a jar!.

The buds fit in so well with the "English Cottage" look~


According to the book Backyard Medicine, "Honeysuckle is good for treating heat conditions (hot flashes, fevers, sunstroke, and urinary tract infections), spasms in the respiratory system in such conditions as asthma, croup, and bronchitis, and it is antiseptic and effective against many microorganisms, reinforcing its value for sore throats and respiratory ailments." James Duke rates honeysuckle second only to eucalyptus for sore throats.

 Another thing we were excited to find in the woods is Sweet Cicely (Myrrhis odorata). Sweet Cicely is a licorice-scented plant that resembles deadly hemlock, so you have to be very careful when identifying it. Its leaves and flowers are good in salads, and the stems make a good "nibble".

 The leaves of the species of Sweet Cicely that grows near us have bright, shiny undersides, with the veins on the leaves going to the tips of the "teeth", instead of the valleys, like hemlock. Again, be very, very careful if you want to use any member of the carrot or parsley family! It is better to not use them at all, if there is any doubt.

The rain droplets on the false solomon seal looked so beautiful in the morning sun, we couldn't resist taking a picture of him, too!
May you have a magical day of exploring today.


 The Honeysuckle

  I PLUCKED a honeysuckle where
The hedge on high is quick with thorn,
And climbing for the prize, was torn,
And fouled my feet in quag-water;
And by the thorns and by the wind
The blossom that I took was thinn'd,
And yet I found it sweet and fair.
Thence to a richer growth I came,
Where, nursed in mellow intercourse,
The honeysuckles sprang by scores,
Not harried like my single stem,
All virgin lamps of scent and dew.
     So from my hand that first I threw,
      Yet plucked not any more of them.  

                      ~Dante Gabriel Rosseti

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Meet Bessie

 Dear Friends,

Today I'd like to introduce you to Bessie Olive Cohenour, my father's mother. Bessie died before I was born, so I never met her, but I heard lots of stories about her from my family. Bessie was a Jewish girl who fell in love with a Gentile named Frank Charles Jonas.

Frank and Bessie were wed against her family's wishes, and sadly she was disowned by them. She went on to raise a large family through the Great Depression and beyond, growing and preserving lots of food in the garden.

~Here are Bessie and Frank on their wedding day~

During World War II, Bessie's aunt was visiting relatives when the Nazis raided their village, killing her along with the rest of the family. All of the family records from the Cohenour side of the family were destroyed during the war, as well, making it impossible to trace the line farther back than the 1800s.

The girls have been watching "Fiddler on the Roof" lately, and thought it would be cute to name our latest critter after the show. We're not sure, but we think that Bessie would be pleased that made a little Jewish rat Tevye; how about you?

As for Tevye, today he's a Mexican rat, all dressed up for Cinco de Mayo (hope that doesn't offend anyone ;) )~ ole!



Do not waste time bothering whether you "love" your neighbor; act as if you did.As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone you will presently come to love him. -- C. S. Lewis

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Merry May Day (a Few Days Late)

Dear Friends,

Happy, happy May to you! May is such a beautiful month, full of flowers and lots of birthdays (as well as our wedding anniversary). We had a fun little May Day celebration yesterday (it was raining on the actual day, which put a damper on things), with Evangeline as the May Queen. We didn't have a May Pole, so we just danced around the yard with ribbons, which was just as fun (almost)!

We had a ruby-throated fairy folk come for a May Day visit, too. . .


And we discovered yet another robin nest in another wreath out front~ We haven't even put up the "Welcome to Birdsong Cottage" yet!


I finally finished the Jesus dolls that I made for Evangeline, Frankie, and Tasha (to keep bad dreams away), which gave a nice sense of accomplishment (some day I'll actually use a pattern when I make something!)~


I also made a wool rat whom Audrey named "Tevye the Jewish Rat". Tevye decided that he wanted to make some gifts for The Mousekins Family, who live with our friend Linnie of The Butt'ry and Book'ry blog. The Mousekins received their gifts today, and they can be seen here.


Tevye is so popular, we're going to have to make a whole Jewish Rat Family to along with him!

May you have a sunshiney day today!



"The world's favorite season is the spring.
All things seem possible in May."
-  Edwin Way Teale


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