Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fall Photos by Defiore Photography

There is something amazing about a good photographer, and luckily my best friend just happens to be one. Not only does Danielle have a natural eye for capturing simple "real" moments, she infuses all of her photos with an essence of truth and beauty that is often hard to capture with a photograph. Somehow, all of her photos have an element of whimsy and coziness that just warms your heart. Many Thanks to Defiore Photography for capturing my family in their true light this year at the pumpkin patch. Here's to a fall full of big pumpkins, bountiful harvests, crisp apples, adorable costumes, blackbirds and scarecrows, and fire-warmed nights!


Monday, October 17, 2011

Fall Garden Chores


For our family, fall seems to be the busiest time in the garden. There is so much to finish and not to mention preparing the beds for winter is a job in itself. I've found myself waking up excited to tidy up and get Sage outside for some crisp fall fun. This season we have harvested and dried numerous herbs including peppermint, rosemary, marjoram, sage,and basil. We have trimmed the perennials and cleaned out some of the beds, as well as harvested potatoes, which is always a favorite- like hunting treasure!. We do still need to harvest rose hips though. Amidst it all , the work has left me honoring the cycle of life through birth,growth and death, and appreciating the root and soil folks doing their work below the soil for winter. Today we planted garlic, which is a fun chore because you get to reap the benefits during the following summer. Here's a quick tutorial on how to plant garlic for anyone who may need a few tips:

First, it is important to moisten the soil a lot- saturate it a few times before preparing your bed. Also separate single bulbs from the larger one, since you will only be planting a single one at a time. You can leave the skins on. Some of my favorite varieties are Georgia fire, Siberian, chisnook red, and elephant is fun for the kids because it gets huge

Since the soil has had vegetables growing in it all season, I add a few handfuls of fresh compost to the area I will be planting to enrich the soil and help maintain moisture throughout the winter. I work it in about 3-6 inches with a shovel and then rake the area I will be planting flat.
Then I use the handle of the shovel as a dibble tool (since I do not own a dibble) to make 2-3 in. holes every 4-6 in. I then sprinkled the area with an organic fertilizer (5 5 5) because garlic appreciates the added nutrients.

                  Next, take the garlic bulbs and insert them into the hole with the flatter side down and pointy side up, skins on, leaving about 1 in. below the soil surface. Cover hole and repeat. If your hole is too deep, just fill it in beforehand.
Once all the bulbs are planted, mulch with 3-5 inches straw and water well. One of the first signs of spring is when your garlic begins to pop through the mulch. It is such a wonderful surprise! The scapes will form first, before the flowers bloom and can be eaten in stir frys and salads. You can harvest the full bulbs, which will form around a single stem mid-late July.

Sometimes I feel like there is not enough time to get everything accomplished, but in the garden, I appreciate the necessity of timeliness and following the cycles of nature through the seasons becomes a ritual. Gardening is one of the most precious ways to be in touch with the simple earthly rhythms abound, so chores, are actually the gifts that attune us and help us appreciate the abundance of the season.

Beet Green Bonanza

As the garden produce dwindles for the season, I am trying to use every last bit up, which has left me with an abundance of beets and therefore beet greens. The flavor is more pungent than spinach, but these greens are packed with health giving properties.A good source of Protein, Folate, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus and Zinc, and a great source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.

I've been using the greens all week and have come up with my 5 favorite meals:

Potato Black Bean and Beet Green Enchiladas
Beet Green and Feta Quiche
Beef Stew with Beet Greens
Sauteed Beet Greens with Sesame and Garlic
Beet Green and Quinoa Pancakes ( I use a cornmeal base and add in the quinoa and chopped beet greens)

Here's to Happy Harvesting!

Monday, September 26, 2011

From Farm to Forest:Our Outdoor Journal

   Sage and I try to spend time outside everyday. Some days, we just roll the ball or push the tonka trucks around the front yard. Other days we work in the garden, pulling weeds, eating tomatoes, and watering. Some days we choose to venture beyond our home to local parks where there are slides, swings, steps, and other magical playthings for a toddler to explore. All of these activities have their own value and we have come to appreciate each unique area and the wonderful opportunities provided.

   I needed to go to Denver to run an errand, so we decided to stop at the botanical gardens. What a beautiful site! Sage ran down the pathways like a little elf, grabbing purple sage, yellow brown eyed susans, noticing the buzzing of bees, and swirling scents of catmints, basils, lavenders! The gardens are manicured, but still remain meadowlike in their presence. As we strolled from perennial pathways into the formal herb gardens, I noticed the two most sweet tiny mushrooms standing under a large spruce tree. We snuck off the path, into the wild area and snapped some shots. Lying among all the beauty of those gardens, that were hand weeded and tended to immaculately, was nature's gift perfectly tidy, simple, happy, and sure of it's place in the greater gardens. We sat and marveled at the mushrooms before moving on.

   This week we also ventured to the farm to celebrate autumn equinox. We gathered our friends and hiked around the ranch near our home, seeking out horses and pigs, listening to the baaaaing of sheep and clucking of chickens, and watching Patches the cow munch on some yummy alfalfa. The scents of the farm also stirred up a unique smell for the children. Under the oak tree, we made wind wands, and admired at the fairy sized creek that emerged from a giant tuft of grass. Sage had to take his shoes off and wade around. A red dragonfly darted around, landing on the rock, we studied his transluscent wings and he let Sage touch him.The sun was warm and inviting, and left us wondering if summer was ready to part. The spirit of this day was cheery, uplifting, wholesome. I think these are words we often use to associate with family and small organic farms. Ideallic for sure.

This morning, the sky was grey and a shadow of fog lingered. We decided to head to a nature area close to home. We arrived to the sounds of the running creek, full of life and to autumnal hues caressing the forest. The oaks, mountain mahogany, and current bushes that surrounded the creek were changing colors and creating a crunchy sound where some of the leaves had fallen already. Birds still sang and we watched them for a while- darting back and forth, teasing the squirrels, gathering seeds. Sage likes to watch things for a while and does not easily get deterred which I appreciate in him. He likes to watch the stream move along, listening to it's song. He ran back and forth, across the wooden bridge, inhaling fall's fresh moist air, giggling, and bending over the side as if ready to bolt in. I spotted him of course, but he probably would have liked to go in the water.

  So many experiences can occur outdoors that do not happen in the same way inside. The smells and scents of unique places, the feel of the changing temperature and breeze moving across your face. The sounds of animals and bugs, water, wind, woodpeckers- you name it. There is something about being alive in an area that is full of life. Relationships are all around. This is what sets apart outdoor environments from indoor ones. There is a zestful beauty that being outside offers to children and adults alike. It is easy to understand the world of nature when you are immersed inside of it, easy to remember that we too are nature. I appreciate our outdoor moments so much and am grateful these places are all around us and I always look forward to tomorrow's outdoor time as well. Every child deserves to be outside and to  hopefully to find a special place in their heart for mother nature.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

An Ode to Autumn

One of my goals as a mother is to  nuture and honor my creative forces by trying to create something everyday, whether it be a craft, something our family needs, words, etc. I do cook everyday and I love to do so, but I am also trying to expand my "creative forces." I try to come up with fun little rhymes,songs, and stories for Sagee throughout the day. I think this will be a fun one to do with hand motions, as well as use some of our acorns, wooden squirrel, gnomes, and a candle.

The rain crashed down hard today
washing summer's warmth away

The air felt cool, filled with fresh smells
autumn is here, I shall tell

The sun is low, shimmering down
upon dwindling plants on the ground

Trees are blowing in the wind
happy autumn has come again

Worms are burrowing underground
squirrels hiding nuts all around

candles burning longer into the evening light
sun is lower, not as bright

the smell of chai fills our home
mama calls to the autumn gnomes

numbing toes, wool sweater time
I think autumn is quite divine

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Muma Medicine Making

Sage has a wonderful little circle of friends. Each one of the children is unique and so sweet. Yesterday, we had scheduled a playdate at little Ayla's home. Upon waking, I checked my phone and turns out all of the children invited except one had a cold with similar symptoms. We decided to get them together anyway and of course it was a mess. They were genuinely trying to have fun but you could tell there was a case of the yuckies abound. When I got home, I got out my trusty old Rosemary Gladstar book, Herbal Remedies for Children's Health. I had not made homemade medicines since Kaiden was small, and Sage had not really had any sickness yet in his short life. This book always inspires me. So this morning I gathered up the ingredients to make a few simple healing remedies so Sage will hopefully ward off the nasties. With winter right around the corner, there is no doubt I will be needing some remedies on hand.Thankfully I am still breastfeeding, so I can regulate what goes into my milk and make sure I'm taking in immune boosting items that will go to him also! One of my favorites is organic chicken based soup, vegetarians can do miso.

Medicine making for me has been part of my mothering style since day one. I am not huge fan of anything that comes from an unknown source and has multiple possible side affects like tylenol or the like. I feel like masking symptoms helps us cope when we need to get through the day, but rarely is it addressing the underlying conditions. So I feel better knowing I'm going to nourish the yuckies away and help my kiddo feel better with simple natural remedies that are safe for him. Note that many plants and "natural" remedies are NOT meant for children, so NEVER give your child any medicine or remedy that you are unsure about. I do not claim to be a doctor, but I do believe mother's are able to make solid and sound health choices for their families with proper research and experience. For me, medicine making comes from my love of plants, nature, and crafting, along with my many years of practicing herbal medicine on my own and with friends and mentors. I have listed a few remedy recipes that are easy and really do make a difference in healing.So- here's to the medicine making mama in all of us....Cheers to a happy, healthy, and handmade childhood!

Elderberry and Rosehip Immunity Syrup
(my own recipe adapted from Rosemary Gladstar)

Elderberry is an extremely popular children's cold remedy in Europe. If you are going to make this syrup, only use blue elderberries, as the red ones are toxic in large quantities. Also make sure to never eat uncooked elderberries. Rosehips are high in vitamin C and can also soothe fussiness if a child is coming down with something.

1 c. fresh or 1/2 c. dried elderberries ( I use dried since they do not grow around here in CO)
1/2 c. fresh or 1/4 c. dried rosehips
3 c. water
1 c. honey

Place berries and water in saucepan and simmer for 45 minutes on low-medium heat.Smash berries and strain through fine wire strainer into bowl filled with honey. Mix honey and berry juice vigorously for 1 minute, place in jars, and keep in the fridge for up to 3 months. Makes 2 ~ 8 oz. bottles. I like to use dropper lids, so measuring dosage is easier.

Suggested doses for children: Based on one teaspoon (60 grains) for adult dose as recommended from Rosemary Gladstar's Herbal Remedies for Children's Health.

12-18 months 7 grains
18-24 months 8 grains
2-3 years 10 grains
3-4 years 12 grains
4-6 years 15 grains

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sage's Birthday Cupcakes


This recipe was adapted from one I found online. I wanted to make it a tad healthier (see parenthesis) and was more than pleased with the results. This cupcake is so moist and delicious, one little boy at Sage's party ate 4 of them! Good thing they are somewhat healthy!


Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F.


4 eggs

3/4 c. oil (I used raw unrefined coconut)

3/4 c. sugar (I used rapadura or whole cane)

1 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. applesauce

1 8 oz. can crushed pineapple

3 tsp. vanilla

2 c. ww pastry flour

2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

1.2 tsp. salt

2 tbl. cinnamon

1 tbl. ground cloves

1 tbl. ground nutmeg

3 c. carrots

Mix dry ingredients together in bowl and set aside. Blend all other ingredients together except carrots on medium speed for 1-2 minutes. Add dry ingredients into wet mixture and blend on medium speed 1-2 more minutes or until well blended. Stir in carrots. Grease tins or add cupcake liners.Fill muffin tins 1/2 full and bake for 20-24 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting. Makes 24 regular sized cupcakes. I like to use the icing recipe below and top them with toasted coconut!

Agave Cream Cheese Icing

I was trying to cut down on the amount of sugar in our cupcakes but wanted to maintain that nostalgic yummy sweetness that folks associate with cupcakes. Agave nectar worked perfectly! This recipe is a keeper and could also be used for chocolate cake, zuccini bread, in pastries, or in crepes! YUM!

3/4 c. whipping cream

1 c. cream cheese

1/4 c. coconut milk (the canned kind)

1/4 c. agave nectar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Whip cream in stand mixer or with hand mixer until light and fluffy- set aside in seperate bowl. Blend all other ingredients until smooth, then add in the whipped cream. Blend until it reaches a creamy texture. I prefer mine not so butter-like, but the longer you mix, the thicker it will get. When desired consistency is reached-use in/on your favorite recipe.