Community is important to me. Hosting people in our home for potlucks, coming together to celebrate festivals, gathering with like minded people to celebrate the winter or summer solstice, and making time once in awhile for a mama afternoon are deeply satisfying to me. When our home is filled with the people we walk this path with I feel blessed, and full of gratitude that our journeys brought us together.
On Saturday, inspired by this, written by Amanda, I hosted my first handmade/homemade mama swap party. It was a small affair, with some mamas I spend a lot of time with. I think it was a huge success, and I think I speak for all of the mamas when I say we had a wonderful time. We sat in front of the fire, food spread out before us, cups of tea in our hands, and we chatted about motherhood, work, passions, our kids, and life. Towards the end of the afternoon, we gathered our swap gifts, opening them together while the person who created the gift shared the story of the creation. So much goodness was created...a festive room spray, herbal tea, note cards, a calming and relaxing pillow spray, a thieves oil foot rub, crocheted dish clothes, a beaded necklace and a fabric framed picture board. Such thoughtful, creative gifts.
My contribution to the swap was some note cards created with some of my photography, a hand knit, felted bowl, and samples of my body butter, lip balm, hand salve and healing salve.
After all the mamas left, my heart was full and my soul inspired. I spent the evening jotting down a few ideas that were floating around in my head for future gatherings...definitely another swap, I think spring might be a good time, mama crafting days, a knitting afternoon and so much more.
"A photo of my little man, once a week, every week, in 2014"
Reece, what a week! The snow just kept on falling, and you were so excited. It was a joy to watch you enjoy these first snowfalls, to see you running, jumping, and sliding in the snow. You truly enjoy each moment in every day, inside or outside, and I am so happy to be along for the ride.
I stood at the window, watching you. It was the first time you had asked to go outside by yourself. After lunch you asked, "Can I go outside?" "Sure," I replied, "Give me a minute and we will bundle up and head out." "I can go by myself," you said. "Oh, okay," I replied, a little surprised. So I helped, when asked, to get you in your winter gear, and you happily ran out the door. You headed straight for the shovel and soon our yard had become a maze of pathways, created by you. I saw your lips moving, maybe you were talking to yourself, or singing. I can't say for sure. You worked hard, pushing, lifting and moving the snow. Every once in a while you stopped, to catch your breath, push back your hat, and look around. You seemed pleased with your work. After quite some time, you stopped, dropped the shovel and headed to the workshop. You opened the door and called your dad. With the biggest smile you brought him out to show off your work, with much pride. I could feel your excitement over this accomplishment.
Inside, I walked away from the window, I popped some popcorn, made tea, and grabbed the latest book we are reading together. It was all ready, on the coffee table. I sat, patiently waiting. I wanted to call you in, I look forward to our reading time, but I didn't want to interrupt your work. So I waited. It wasn't long before the door opened with a crash, and you came bustling in, smiling. Together we stripped away the winter layers, and you headed right for the sofa, claiming your spot and a bowl of popcorn. I snuggled in beside you, and we started to read. I read the title of the chapter, and just before I started the first sentence you looked up at me and said "I love you." And at that moment I felt so much love, my heart was overflowing, and I couldn't help but look down at you, and smile, and tell you just how much I love you too.
Keeping my family healthy is so very important to me, as I am sure it is for many of you. While it is difficult to keep illness at bay all the time, I do my best at prevention. We eat well, choosing organic whole foods, I cook from scratch, and we eat very little processed food. We exercise, and get outside daily. We ensure adequate rest for all of us, we take our supplements, and we listen very carefully when our bodies are giving us the signal to slow down and take it easy.
While we can't prevent coming into contact with pathogens, they are everywhere, we can strengthen the body, and the immune system. Doing this will not mean never getting sick, but it does mean being stronger and more resilient should illness take over, which in turn means a quick recovery, with less down time.
My little apothecary is filled to the brim with goodness that helps keep us healthy, and boost our immune systems during the cold and flu season. From supplements, to homeopathic medicines, to herbs, both from my garden and purchased. Over the last few days I have been busy making medicine...elderberry syrup, a vitamin C syrup and a herbal tea, that acts as a herbal multivitamin for Reece. These are the things we will rely on during the coming months, to keep us healthy, to support our immune systems and to heal us, when we are ill. Mother Nature never ceases to amaze me. She shares her beauty with us, allowing us to connect to her, and in turn, a deeper part of ourselves. She whispers to us to pay attention, to seek comfort in her arms, and to run free in her space. She gives us powerful medicine to help strengthen and heal us. She is amazing, and each day when I walk upon this earth I am grateful to have found the power of Mother Nature.
Well, I guess we are about to find out just how well this fall/winter gardening thing works. Snow fell all day Sunday and Monday. The photo above was taken Monday morning, and I checked in on the gardens and took the rest of the photos yesterday afternoon. Shall we take a peek inside?
Everything looks good, well protected, and happy. This is a huge experiment for us this year, and we honestly have no idea how it will go. So far, all is going well, and each day that I harvest food from these beds I offer gratitude. We are feeling so blessed that we are still harvesting food from the backyard well into November.
The cold frame was covered in snow, I swept it off so the sun could do it's work. Most of the food has been harvested from the cold frame, there is some lettuce left, and a row of beets. We ate from the cold frame first as most of the greens were too tall. If they are touching the glass of the cold frame they will suffer frost damage, so it made sense to eat this bed first.
The back beds are now tucked in, and sleeping soundly under leaves and snow. As you can see, the nettles didn't get cut back. I know we will have a few warmer days ahead and this will be the first thing I do. I did get the raspberry bushes cut back, but didn't manage to get any straw on them. Again, as soon as it warms up, they will get a layer of straw that will keep them well protected for the winter.
I wasn't sure how it would feel getting myself dressed up in winter gear to head outside to harvest food for dinner. It wasn't that bad. I gave it a bit of thought, and decided that Reece and I would do our nature walk first, and then before heading inside I would harvest. I knew after walking, chasing Reece, and pulling him in the sled I would be warm, and the few minutes it would take to harvest wouldn't cool me off too much. I was right, it was perfect, and I think that will be the routine for the winter. Our first harvest in the snow was a success...a little kale, Swiss chard and carrots. I really can't tell you just how delicious, and satisfying that food was.