Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Turning Your Front Yard Into A Garden.

I got Dreams.

Glorious Garden Dreams in the middle of the Winter.


I have been pouring over photos from the lovely book I received for Christmas. "Edible Landscaping With a Permaculture Twist: How To Have Your Yard and Eat It Too."

Michael Judd is a local boy (from Frederick County) who spent many years in Mexico and Nicaragua learning  about and experimenting with Permaculture. He is a genius at turning Yards into low-maintenance Gardens and Orchards. No weeding, no watering (except for in the beginning). Seriously, why Garden any other way?

He's transformed the Gardens at Volt.

You may have heard of that place.

I listened to him speak at the Holistic Family Health Conference in Frederick, last Spring. He's a dynamic speaker. When he mentioned an upcoming book, I was thrilled.

The book didn't disappoint.

Gorgeous photos. Clear directions. And, brilliant ideas.

I am all about digging up that grass and planting useful and beautiful plants.

Even though, I was familiar with a lot of what was in the book, it was great to see more examples of "Herbal Spirals," learn about growing Mushrooms and be given so much information of Uncommon Fruits that grow well in this region.

Judd's section on Rainwater Harvesting, Swales and Rain Gardens may completely change your relationship with your Yard.

I had never heard of a "Hugelkultur" (which is a shame because it's a terrific concept and would have been helpful to know about when my Sister had all these fallen down trees in her Yard).

If you are in Maryland or Northern Virginia, you are in luck. He does 1 1/2 hr-2hr consultations starting at $175 (depending on where you are located). His schedule fills up fast, but now is the perfect time to have him come out and brainstorm with you on how to transform your Yard into a beautiful, edible Landscape.

Early Mother's Day present? Or maybe forget that fancy bouquet and expensive dinner this Valentine's Day? Hmmmm....

We will be moving from one rental house to another this Summer, so planting much is out of the question. But, there are always Mushrooms...

Making Elderberry Syrup

*** Yesterday, I started feeling like I was coming down with something nasty and quickly made a patch of Elderberry Syrup. Along with the Elderberry, Acupuncture and Acupressure has been helping me keep it at bay (knock on wood). So, I thought this would be a good time to re-post this....Jane this one is for you...Love you.... 

It sounds like the Flu Season has really begun in earnest here in Northern Virginia. So, I wanted to share again how to make "Elderberry Syrup" for your family.

In 2011, Medical News Today reported how German scientists had found that extracts of "Sambucus nigra" had been shown to inhibit "the growth of influenza A and B viruses and bacteria associated with upper respiratory tract infections."

If taken before being infected with the flu virus, Elderberries can help prevent infection. If taken, AFTER being infected, Elderberries can help reduce the length and severity of your infection. Pretty nifty, right?

Since making my first batch of Elderberry Syrup, Nye-Nye and I have both been taking a tablespoon of Syrup every day. It's safe for pregnant women and children, over the age of 1 year old (just remember to run it by your Doctor first).

Whenever it seems like we start coming down with something, I up the dosage to 4-5 tablespoons a day. The one time I ran out of syrup and I took awhile to make some more, we both got sick. Otherwise, we've had a healthy Winter (so far).

As I wrote in this post, my daughter enjoyed helping me make the Syrup.

She helped pour the 1/2 cup of dried Elderberries I got from Frontier Herbs into the pan. She carefully added the tablespoon of crushed ginger, the cinnamon stick, and the 5 cloves to the mix. She then stirred the mixture for a few minutes (totally unnecessary...but she was having so much fun).

Together we added the 2 cups of water and then I put the pan on the stove. I covered it and brought it to a boil and then down to a simmer for 15 minutes.

She watched as I strained the mixture and used a spoon to squeeze out all the liquid from the berries. "HOT, HOT, HOT," she reminded me. Together, we sampled the syrup after it cooled.


I agree.

We've since made several more batches, some of which did not include the ginger, cinnamon stick or cloves. Those batches didn't taste quite as yummy. I definitely recommend adding all three of those ingredients.

I bought 1 lb of dried Organic Elderberries from Frontier Herbs which at $21 seemed expensive. But...when you look at an 8 oz bottle of Commercial Elderberry Syrup costing $16, you quickly realize how much money you can save by making your own!

The pound of Elderberries made enough Syrup for our family for 2 months. I just went to order some more from Frontier and found out they are already out of the Organic Elderberries.

Lesson ALL the Elderberries you need by September. Mountain Rose Herbs was out by the beginning of October.

I bought 3 lbs of the wild-crafted berries sourced from Poland (non-Organic). Frontier Herb serves numerous health food stories from around the country, so I'm hoping that they are very responsible about where they picking their berries. I can't wait until the berries arrive and we can make another batch.

If you are interested, check out this simple video on how to make your own! It's easy and fun to make with children (even toddlers). Enjoy and stay healthy this Winter...

Saturday, January 25, 2014

What We are Reading During The Snow

Snow, snow, snow. We have been experiencing a bit of it here in Northern Virginia.

I thought I share one of the books I've been reading to Nye, over the last few weeks. It's a charming book, about a child and all the clothes required to go play outside in the Snow.

It's nice for a Pre-reader because there are some illustrations that are substituted for words. It's terrific for reading along with your child. I particularly like the sequence in the Mudroom. It reminds me of the house I grew up in.

And, here are some photos from the Snow before this one. Kids playing in the Snow....nothing like it!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday: This Moment

Inspired by Soule Mama

After Being Called the Ugliest Woman Alive...

Lizzie Velasquez fought back.

She decided she wasn't going to let a bunch of Internet Bullies define who she was and she certainly wasn't going to follow their suggestions to end her own life.

When she was in High School, she accidentally stumbled across an 8 second video declaring her to be "The Ugliest Woman Alive." The video had 4 million hits and thousands of cruel, negative comments. She read every single one. And, was completely devastated.

Instead of dwelling on such incredible negativity, she chose to set several concrete goals and use the hatefulness directed at her, as fuel for her ambition.

She chose to be Happy.

She is my Hero.

Lizzie was born with a extremely rare syndrome in which it is impossible for her body to gain any fat. At the age of 25, the most she has ever weighed is 64 pounds. At birth, her parents were told she would never speak, walk or accomplish anything. Lizzie has proven those doctors wrong.

She has spent the last 8 years as a Motivational Speaker, completed college and has just submitted the manuscript for her 3rd book.

Her Honesty, Grace and Humor inspire me.

Here is one of her TED Talks, where she discusses how she CHOOSES to be Happy.

You can find out more about Lizzie here.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Living More Fearlessly.

How can we live more Fearlessly? These 10 suggestions from one of my favorite writers is now posted beside my computer.

I love them.

And, I love Karen Maezen Miller.

Her book, Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood is one of my all-time favorites.

I'm really working hard on those first two. Man, are they difficult for me!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Friday: This Moment

The Doctor (or two) is in the House.

Inspired by Soule Mama.

January. 2014. The Month of Courage.

Better late than never is one of my Mottoes. 

Life got in the way the last two weeks and I haven't been able to write about this Month's Theme...Courage

Influenced by my years teaching at a Friends School, I decided to organize my Blog Posts around Monthly Themes. It's a simple way to give some structure to my writing (and the million Ideas that flow through my brain).

I want to share a few folks and groups who I've stumbled across, recently, who have inspired me with their Fearlessness and Bravery.

You can check out my Month of Courage Round-Up 2013 right here. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Happenings Over the Last Week or So.

Lots of Cooking. 


Black Bean and Edamame Salad. 


Eggs with Avocado and Cilantro (my new favorite way to eat them). 

Pan-fried Chickpea Salad.

Lots of Baking. 

A Savory Rosemary Yogurt Cake. 

Elderberry, Cinnamon, Ginger Yogurt Cake. 

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Yogurt Cake (Gluten-Free). Twice. 

Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten-Free). Twice.

Lots of Bickering.

Playing Indoors. Trying not to go Stir-Crazy.

Playing Outdoors on a Warmish, Dry Day. 

A Terrific Saturday Night Play-date. For Babies and Adults.

A Climbing Baby. Improvising until we find the missing piece to our expensive Baby Gate.

Tincture Makin'. Yarrow, Motherwort and Echinacea.

Yoga. After a LONG Time.

A Migraine.

A Broken Down Car.

Lots of Banana Face.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Frozen Fun.

If you are currently experiencing some SERIOUSLY COLD WEATHER, this may be a fun activity for your Kids.

Frozen Ornaments.

The sky is the limit with different themes. But, we made these before Christmas and used Cranberries and Pine Cones.

You could some small toys or other materials from Nature, whatever your Child is interested in right now. We used a Muffin Tin because that's all we had. But, a Bundt pan works better (and stays frozen longer...we learned that the hard way the first time we made these). 

Throw in all the materials, add some twine or ribbon and water and put Outside for a bit. And Voila!

So pretty in the Sun, don't you think?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Happy 8th Months! Anala.

My Dear Little Imp,

On Saturday, you turned 8 months. How we adore you! Your sparkling eyes and your devilish grin!

Your favorite activity right now is to find the one thing on the floor that you know shouldn't go in your mouth and PUT IT IN your mouth. And, then you turn and LAUGH at me.

Fresh cranberries, pine needles, pine cone pieces, Styrofoam, cat food (even though we don't have a cat living with us), stickers, board game pieces, garlic skins and even a piece of glass.(Thank God, you didn't cut yourself or swallow it).Talk about giving Mama some more grey hairs!

I swear, we are not Hoarders and sweep and mop the floors regularly. But, if there is one tiny thing on the floor, you WILL FIND IT. Talk about some serious observational skills.

You have continued to be very, very intrigued by sounds and by Music. You spend part of every day pounding away on your piano. When I sing to you, you often hum along.

Your legs are getting stronger and stronger each day. You love to go from sitting to standing. You can balance standing up for about 20 seconds before you get freaked out and have to sit back down. You do this ALL DAY LONG. You even like the challenge of trying to hold something big (like a soccer ball), while getting up to stand. You've spent a lot of time in the Basement cruising from one end of the futon to the other.

You clapped your hands for the first time. It was hard to tell who was more delighted. You or your Sister? The two of you just laughed and laughed and laughed. Seeing both of my girls giggling and clapping together was one of those Perfect Moments etched on my mind.

You've become very enamored by the wooden scooter Ra-Ra gave your Sissy last Christmas. You spin the wheels and examine every part of it. You just aren't quite as thrilled when Mama puts you on it. Maybe it's a bit too exciting for you, at the the moment.

You love to feed yourself and much prefer that to having someone else feed you. Tiny pieces of bananas are your favorite. It's wonderful having you sit right up at the table with us in the new high-chair Dada and Dadi got you. You look so proud of yourself.

Drinking water from a sippy cup (and sometimes a cup) is one of your activities right now. You seriously, LOVE yourself some water.

Luckily, having your face wiped doesn't produce quite the howls it did before. Thanks for that one. You still hate having someone put their fingers in your mouth to fish something out (who does?). You squeeze your lips shut and furiously twist your head side to side. Sometimes, I mimic you doing this and you think it's the most hysterical thing EVER.

You felt snow for the first time this Month. Let's just say, you're not a fan. You are a fan of Bath-time and water. You went swimming with Daddy this Month and LOVED it.

Teething is not making life terribly fun for you right now. It appears that your top two teeth of starting their journey southward through your gums. Poor Babe.

One of my favorite parts of the day, is when Daddy brings you into our Bed first thing in the Morning. You love to crawl over to your Sissy and wake her up with your slobbery kisses. The two of you wrestle and cuddle for a few minutes. Such Sweetness! Thanks for being YOU...we are so very, very Lucky...

All Our Love,

Mommy, Daddy and Big Sissher

P.S.  Here is your Sissy's 8 Month Letter. She's wearing the same dress that you wore, as well as Mommy, Aunt Mimi, Cousin Caroline and Cousin Katie. So sad you are too big for it now (I had to keep all the buttons unloosen, so you could fit in it during our Photo Shoot). You are growing too fast, My Love!

P.P.S. Here is your 6 Month Letter and all the ones before.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Friday: This Moment

I know I usually show one photo for my Friday: This Moment, but this video clip from this Week stole my heart.

My girls greeting Papa Bear when he came home from work.

Anala Bears will be 8 months tomorrow. Here is a clip of Nye-Nye a week before she turned 8 months. I'm not sure how she could walk so well with those bowed-legs...but she did!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Calendar Project. 2013 Photos in Review.

Not sure if this is a Tradition I can sustain, but I am hoping! For the second year in a row, I made Calendars of photos of the previous year. We gifted them to Grand-parents and ourselves. 

I've been pretty happy with the quality of Shutterfly's Calendars (although, because I also use it as my Planner and was in CONSTANT use, the photos became a little scratched).

The first year I made them, I consistently uploaded and added the photos every Month. It made it crazy easy in December to place my order. 

Last year, January through March got uploaded and arranged. And, then you know...My heavily pregnant Self got too busy with the Sassy Toddler. So, the Calendar Project got shelved.

December rolled around. I was determined to finish the Calendar. I stuck the Eldest in front of the T.V. and put the Baby to bed early and then I stayed up very, very late to finish the Project. I think it took about 5 hours. 

The hardest part was narrowing it down to my favorite 5-6 photos from each Month. It was a challenge to make sure both Kiddos got equal-ish face-time. I also have a tendency to take mostly vertical photos. Not a big deal until you have a horizontal slot to fill.

Anyway, I HIGHLY recommend a Calendar Project (even if you don't have Kiddos). So many of us take tons of photos and never print them. This is a way of having some of your photos printed and displayed. It makes a sweet Gift that's both practical and frugal. The best kind, right?

Farewell 2013. You were very good to our Family. Thank-you.

***A big Thanks to my friend Erin for taking the gorgeous, amazing Birth Photos that I will treasure until my last Breath.  She had never been present at a Birth before and was totally game on a days notice to come shoot an "Un-medicated Birth Center Birth."

And, also a big Shout-out to another extremely talented friend, Hilary Flynn, who shot the Baby's lovely Newborn Photos and some excellent photos of my Big Girl.

How lucky am I to have such talented friends? Very lucky.

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