Thursday, December 31, 2009

One Little Word ......

I was reading Mother Moon's Message and I was quite enamoured with her latest post. As I was reading, my word just came to me. It came without hesitation. Passion. Man, oh, man. That's really all I can say. Passion covers so many aspects of my life and probably most other folks, too. Time to re-kindle ones that have been lost and deepen those already in play.

When I think of the word passion in relation to myself, many things come to mind. First, there is always the passion I share with my husband and our deep bond. My anamcara. You can never be too passionate with your loved ones. Second, are my passions for all other things I have in my life. My family, gardens, music, and other creative venues I participate in. These things are always deep within me.

I've never been a "resolution" type of person. I believe everyday there are possibilities for beginning fresh. Sometimes just baby steps are all that is needed. So, I try to make the best of everyday albeit quite difficult at times.

So, if you had to choose one little word, what would it be?

One of my passions - music. Frustrating and uplifting at the same time.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A girl can dream, can't she?.....

Ah, soon - the sweet rewards of summer...

Until then, a girl can dream, can't she?
The berries available at market now are from Argentina. Somehow I have a problem with that. I'll just hang in there like I did when I was a kid and you had no choice but to wait until things came into season. I think it makes each bite more of a treasure.
Until then, I'll just dream.......

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Grow It Eat It......

Yesterday was a totally lazy day. I did tidy up around the cottage a bit, but, myself and "Queen" Nuala did this most of the day. She just chillin' and enjoying the woodstove, I taking time to do research on the computer and get re-aquainted with an old friend.

Hello, guitar, remember me? I've neglected thee since I've picked up playing the fiddle.

I made a wonderful discovery while checking into the Cooperative Extension's website. I did not realize they were even doing this program.

I use the online resources from our Extension Office quite often. I check every year on the Master Gardener Program because I would love to do this. The problem I run into is that for my county, they typically do the classes on a weekday. Well, hello, I still have to work for a living.... but, maybe for 2010 it will be different. They still don't have the 2010 schedule for my county, but, all the other counties do. Hmm, we are an agricultural county - c'mon folks!

So in the midst of looking at the Master Gardener Program I saw this link on the sidebar with a little map with dots all over it. I clicked, read, and was hooked. What a fabulous idea! The State of Maryland is trying to promote home produce gardening. They have a vision of 1 million food gardener's producing their own affordable, healthy food. You can check it out for yourself here.
Now I will say this hasn't been promoted very well for it appears they started the program for the 2009 season. This may explain why there are only 3,251 participants to date. So folks, spread the word and let's get this party started! If you're not a Marylander, check to see if your local Cooperative Extension office may have a similar program. It all starts with you, one person, to help others get the gardening bug. It can be as small as a container on a porch or you can fill every inch of your plot of land. It's all good !
Okay, I'll stop preaching. Back to your regularly scheduled program... ;-)
*Grow It Eat It logo from here*

Friday, December 25, 2009

Peaceful Fridays.....

Merry Christmas! Wishing all a wonderful day. May you always find a light in the window.
Have a peaceful weekend, y'all.....

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sharing the holiday - no chickens were harmed in the making of this post....

This year we decided to opt for something different. Instead of a tree, we decorated a holly bush! It too, will serve dual purposes - once to brighten our home and second to add beauty to our yard. But, fair warning, it can be a wee bit edgy to decorate!

Decorations are simple and mostly home made. Here is one of the cinnamon ornaments I mentioned in a previous post.

Salt dough ornaments, homespun fabric tied into bows, strung wooden beads, and various birds finish off our simple holiday bush. No lights. We didn't think it would need them.

Our Yule log for the year. We get our greens from the property - this year white pine, cedar, and holly. My husband and I share this holiday with just the two of us. The rest of the family we will celebrate with on Christmas Eve. It gives us time to reflect and be thankful.

And to finish off our Yule evening, meringue cookies! They melt in your mouth and are easy to make, too. What made them even more delectable is fresh eggs from the girls. Thanks ladies!
So, the rest of today is making cookies and candy for the family celebration tomorrow. Everyone will be here with their assorted significant others which only makes the day more special.
Speaking of the girls, they are not to fond of all this "white stuff". They have opted to stay in the coop, thank you very much. They did venture out today very briefly because I threw some scratch out on the ground to lure them out. Quick treat and back in the coop. Maybe they aren't as dumb as some folks make them out to be!
Back to baking with the hounds at my side. Have a great Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Yuletide and bringing back the light.....

Looks like we've started the Yuletide season in a most beautiful way!
The gazebo is enchanting in the snow. It stays hidden all through the summer months until the trees that surround it drop their leaves. I like it that way. I have lights strung in and about the gazebo and a cafe set for dining. Just right for two people to enjoy a romantic night.
We have perennial beds surrounding the area, all shade plants. We also have mountain laurel, rhododendron, and azaleas, too.

The perennial bed along the fence is asleep, but, since I don't cut anything back until spring, the birds feed off of the dead flower heads, enjoying the seeds and berries.

Looks like some small repairs are due for one of the wren houses! I started out painting bird houses for nothing more than decorations to put around the yard and porch. Little did I know that they would be used every year for the birds to start new families. House wrens, chickadees, and house finches have all started new families within these houses. Such a treat to watch as the little ones grow.

A goldfinch and a junco dining on some thistle. I wanted to make sure the feeders had seed because most of the plants are buried under the snow.

After getting the shoveling under control and access to all the necessary spots, yesterday was the perfect day for baking and crafting. Here I made cinnamon ornaments for our Yule bush. (We decided on a holly bush to be our tree this year. We plant them after the holidays so they always are there to remind us of that special holiday year.) The ornaments are easy to make and when the kids were small, we used to love making these. All it takes is equal parts cinnamon and applesauce. To get these six stars, I used 1/2 C. cinnamon and 1/2 C. applesauce. Roll out on wax paper, cut with cookie cutter, poke hole in ornament so when they are dry you can put a ribbon through to hang. They will take several days to dry and make sure you flip them over to dry out the other side. The perk is your kitchen smells fabulous and then so will the room with your tree!

So, as we hustle about trying to finish up our errands and whatnot for the holiday season, just remember, the days now will get longer a little bit everyday. It makes me happy knowing this. It makes the sun happy, too! Ya' have to smile when you look at this fella. It's like he has a secret and is dying to tell you all about it.

But, more importantly, I wish you all peace. Peace and happiness for this holiday season and upcoming year. I think the world could use a bit of both. It all starts with what's inside our own hearts.
Have a Happy Yule!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

And it's not winter yet......

Oh my, what a grand snow we've had. I don't know the official count, but, I'd say close to 18". Now, I'm not a winter person. I like one good snowfall a year and then let's get back to spring. We had my one mandatory snowfall about two weeks ago. Six inches, pretty, not much to clear and able to still get out and about. Yeah, that's my kind of snow. But, I will admit, there is an inner stirring when you go out first thing in the morning and everything is hushed. You truly feel touched by nature at those moments. Just you and the universe. You have to admit that's kinda cool. And I'm very thankful for those moments.
As the Winter Solstice approaches I get excited knowing the days will now start to become longer and it won't be long before I grumble about cutting grass. I know that in just another month or so I can start seedlings for the garden. I know it will soon be the season of mud. I know it won't be long until we will finish our evenings by sitting on the porch with a glass of wine or some of the hubsters homemade beer and play some tunes. Our ode to twilight.
Yeah, it won't be long. But, until then, I'll make the best of the winter season by being able to just dream - with my husband by my side and three spinning dogs.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Peaceful Fridays.....

As the weekend approaches, change is in the air..

and I want to be reminded that.......

soon it will be time to plan and plant,

and have a smile or two from the beauties of nature.
Even ones that look like a bumble bee.
Have a peaceful weekend, y'all......
(and don't forget to mind your back whilst shoveling all that snow!)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The train is still on the tracks.....

I'm happy to report that no train wrecks or de-railments happened on Monday night playing for the Old Line Statesmen. In fact, the true beauty of music shone.
We performed for them and after we were done, we were treated to old-fashioned barbershop singing. A chorus of twenty men or so sang beautiful Christmas songs. When they were done, the director turned to us and said "now that's barbershop at its best".
This just enforces my belief that music transcends politics, religion, and race. It's why I love music and why I love to play music. When I took a good look around the room, there were maybe a handful of folks my age. I can say that positively no one in that room shared my religious beliefs or probably my political beliefs. I don't care. I wasn't there to debate or discuss. I was there for one purpose - to share my love of music. And sharing the music is what I and my fellow bandmates did. I think everyone in that room left with a smile on their face and a song in their heart. Like I said before, how can you not love that!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Céol Anam Cara meets Old Line Statesmen.....

Booyah! An irish trad group playing for a barbershop chorus.
This should be interesting.
Details to follow or watch your local news channel to witness the train wreck....
Oh, tidings of comfort which comes with safety in numbers and joy with the cash bar.
Comfort and joy.....

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Brought to you by the letter "Z"........

The new compost bin brought to you by the letter Z. Still in the works to finish but already being put to good use.

Cross bracing for a little extra support.

And, the base for the greenhouse, which unfortunately, will have to wait until Spring to be assembled. The manufacturer states it will take two full weekends. Quite frankly, I don't see that happening anytime until then.

Until then, time to browse seed catalogs and dream of the new garden and all the delights it will bring. I can't wait.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Simplify - really??.....

One word that says a whole lot. One word that is a constant goal for our lives. One word that can be so hard to achieve.

Now I know one can't make their mind up one day and say "tomorrow we simplify our lives" and then by the twitch of a nose it's magically done. I know it's all about small steps and actions to reach the whole. I also know that it is not all that easy of a task because of many factors.

For example, for years I worked two jobs, sometimes as much as 70 hours a week. I also continued to clean the house, cut the grass, grow a garden and tend flower beds, care for three high maintenance dogs, yada, yada, yada. You get the picture. So, after a big scary leap, I dissolved one of the businesses and now have a 40 hour work week. Okay, the first step towards obtaining my goal of simplicity. I had visions of more than sugar plums running through my head - I finally saw some of my long time dreams coming to fruition. And some of them have. Chickens for one. Playing more music is another. Larger gardens, more preserving, painting, photography, hiking, cooking more from scratch (although I have pretty much always done so), more time for my husband and I - just to wind down, have a glass of wine with no where to go.

But, time doesn't equal simplicity - not on the whole, at least to me. It's more of being not so caught up in the rat race you forgot why you were even running. It's about remembering the basics in life. It's kinda funny in a way - when I was in my early 20's, I had next to no extra money and my lifestyle was that of which a lot of folks are trying to achieve today - this simplicity thing. I didn't look at it as living simply, I was just somewhat cash challenged. But, I was incredibly happy. Then I, just like the rest of my peers, started the I wants instead of sticking with the I need. It has taken a while to put on the brakes and get back in the slow lane, but, I guess the important thing is, I've realised this.

So, what brings the rant of simplicity? Living simply is time consuming - this is not a complaint, just my observation. But, over the last couple of months I find myself being baited and wanting to be not so simple and take the easy way out. Holiday stress - too many things to do, too many places to go, all self induced and not wanting to miss one of them.

Maybe someone was trying to tell me something yesterday morning. I got locked in the chicken coop. I got locked in a building that has a clasp with a turn key. How in the hell did that happen? I admit with a bit of shame I panicked for a moment. It was 23 degrees and my husband was still asleep. It would have been a while before he figured out something was amiss. So, after about 10 minutes of standing there in the coop, all on my lonesome, I had to figure a way out with the least amount of damage to the coop. The trap door for the chickens is 12". No way I was gonna fit thru there. Windows? I really did not want to take that route. So, three hard body slams to the door and part of the moulding gave way and with it one side of the latch. Thankfully it came off in one piece and was not hard to repair. The latch is a little on the damaged side, but, still works.

So, I took this as a swift kick to take a deep breath and get back on track. No whining, no excuses. Maybe even a thank you to the universe for being on my side. Hmm, it's good to know you're covered!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Peaceful Fridays.....

As you rush about this weekend caught up in the whirlwind of the holidays

remember to stop and have a snack

and pause for a moment to see the beauty that surrounds you.

Have a peaceful weekend, y'all.......

*All photos taken on Grafton Street, Dublin Ireland.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The chickens aka "the girls"....

Six little peeps all in a box. I was petrified I would kill them. I watched over them like a sentinel, watching my post as any proud parent. I checked the thermometer constantly like I was baking a prized birthday cake - making sure it wasn't overdone or browning at the edges. I wondered if they were cold or hot, thirsty or hungry. I checked their vents to make sure no clogging was going on. I felt so responsible for these teeny lives, not wanting to fail knowing I was their source of being.

Well, needless to say, I didn't kill them! They continued to thrive and do what chickens do best - eat and poo. Here we have a Barred Rock at about three weeks. Goofy looking thing, isn't it?

Here's one of the White Rocks at about three weeks. And, yes, I was posing them. Don't ask my why, I just did. I was using creative license - or I'm just plain weird. I'm okay with that!

The girls are out growing the brooding box and are getting ready for the big move to their new home. They know somethings up. They are all giving me "the eye" (those of you who have chickens know exactly what I'm talking about) and a little lip to go along with it.

Into the dog crate for transport and.....

the first peek at the new digs.

No one wanted to be first. We waited like anxious parents sending their first born off for the first big day of school. And we waited, and waited.....

so we finally had to physically take one out of the dog crate. That is all it took. The rest followed in pursuit of the brave chicken who hadn't a choice to see the new nest.

They seemed to like this new, big home of theirs. The roosts were an immediate hit. Better birds eye view from up here.

The chicken parents were all fluffed and proud. The little brood was growing up. No more sentinal shift changes, no more thermometer checks, no more listening to the wee little peeps chirp away gleefully as they explored and grew. They were now big birds and settling into their new apartment. Maybe we would get invited for dinner and asked for ideas for decorating their new place.

Still exploring the new digs. Oh, where shall we put the flat screen?

The new nesting place. We want to make a sign to hang on the coop that reads - "The girls - it's a chick thing". They've been settled for months now and have decorated the place with some groovy nesting boxes and bins for feed. Green is a recurring theme.

That's a good thing because natural is good.

I tease and jest a bit, but, in all honesty this has been one great adventure for us. The birds seem content and are still laying almost daily for us despite the fading light and wet weather we seem to have all the time. If they continue to lay through winter, we'll count it as a gift. If they choose to go on vacation, well, hurray for them. I know they'll be back.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The first snow....

Forecasters said 1 - 2 inches. We got almost 6 inches of the white stuff. Wet, heavy snow.
This photo is looking out front through the living room window - taken through one of the stained glass pieces that has beveled glass in the center. So, no, you're not seeing double. If you are seeing double this early, well, good for you. You must have had one hell of a night!

Again, this is looking out front and taken with a 70-300mm zoom lens.
I love the drooping shape this fir tree takes when laden with snow.

This morning was busy with the chatter of birds getting a snack from the feeders. This little robin was sitting high in the tree branch just observing his or her surroundings.
After tending to the chickens this morning, I walked to the edge of the meadow, not entering, leaving the pristine white snow untouched for just a little while longer, to see who had been passing through the night. I stood for a bit to enjoy the silence of the morning before the day becomes filled with the sounds of children playing, dogs barking, snow blowers, and off road vehicles. It is my small peace. My greeting to the new day and all it brings.
The sound of silence - such a precious commodity.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


It seems not all the pictures I post are enlarging when clicked. I'm looking into this to see what is happening and try to correct it. Sorry 'bout this - I realize it's hard to see what I'm talking about in some of the posts without enlarging.
If you have any suggestions, please let me know! It would be appreciated since I'm hitting a dead end.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Meadow 2009.....

Here is the meadow as of June 2009. Mother Nature has had three years to do some landscape design of her choosing. The large white pine that is dead center has grown to such an enormous size I fear during the next wet snow or ice storm it will bring it down all together. It's not that it has grown so much taller as it has wider which I think throws it kinda askew - wanky, if you will. It's been pruned by the weather earlier this year with a terrific ice storm which broke off many of its large branches.

Ragweed and queens anne lace bloom throughout now come late summer. Wild roses, honeysuckle, and numerous trees have begun to grow. There are plenty of flowers that I haven't identified yet growing too.

I walk through the meadow almost everyday to see what is buzzing about and what four legged creatures have come to bed down for the evening. Deer, fox, rabbits, moles and voles have all made a home for the night here at Mother Nature's Inn. They never overstay their welcome and leave little trace they were even here. Birds, bees, snakes, and dragonflies (the fae) work daily here - going about their busy day only to pause to look at me as I look at them. We've even had a visit from the cattle from the farm behind us come to see what all the buzz about this "meadow" is and why everyone comes to visit..

Here are some of the berries planted at the fence line I referred to in a previous post. I have two types of blackberries planted - Arapaho and one other I can't recall the name at the moment. One raspberry bush and four blueberry bushes finish out the edibles on this side of the fence. I also have some perennial grasses, honeysuckle, and roses we transplanted from another part of the property along with the wisteria which is being trained on the trellis over the entrance gate.

Here's a view of the beginning of the inside of the fenceline showing the wisteria overshadowing the shasta daisies and the black-eyed susans. We're working on the training that wild wisteria. It'll take a couple of seasons to get it right, but, once it's headed in the right direction, what a welcome it will be to all who pass through that gate!

And finally, this little place is my studio. Well, it's a shed really, but, studio sounds much nicer, doesn't it? I have some comfortable furniture, exercise equipment, my paints and easel, a table for crafts and sewing, and a tv with a dvd player for pilates or bellydance. I also have a small, portable stereo for relaxing tunes or guided meditation. It's my "pad" - no boys allowed unless invited. A retreat without ever leaving the homestead. The view out of the windows looks into the fenced area of the backyard straight at the gazebo and fish pond area. It also faces the rising sun - namaste.......

Peaceful Fridays.....

Hurray! Snow is on the way!
This weekend I'll be able to frolic and play!

What? Frolic and play? I'm in for that this weekend, how about you?

I think I'll watch from my little home nestled in the pines, thank you very much!

Ah, I'm with you little wren whose home is nestled in the pines.

I think I'll just snuggle in and enjoy Nature's beauty from my window.

No matter if you frolic or watch from the window....

Have a peaceful weekend, y'all.......