Friday, December 26, 2014

Some recent reading

In preparation for Christmas, I decided to read a bit about simplifying.  Hundred Dollar Holiday by Bill McKibben was very interesting in terms of Christmas history.  He's an environmentalist, but the book doesn't do much with that aspect of the downsides of our excess.  He worked within the United Methodist Church on this "campaign" so it had spiritual roots.  I really enjoyed the short read, and it was a great encouragement to focus on the important things.
Then I checked out Simplify Your Christmas by Elaine St. James.  She has some other books on simplifying life so I already knew she had an edge.  She included interesting traditions (even around Winter) so I enjoyed it.  It was also a short read.
I've seen some hype about the Bulletproof Executive (Dave Asprey) so I read his book called The Bulletproof Diet.  It's very interesting in that it comes from the biohacking world.  He spent a lot of his own money applying research, trying things out etc. and losing a lot of weight in the process.  He's a Silicon Valley guy, and I think his perspective is worth a look.  I think I might try his 14 day process approach soon just to see if it agrees with my body and really does jump start brain power and loose extra pounds.  (I've gained a few so I guess that'll be good timing?)

Monday, December 22, 2014


We are decking some halls.  Making a few more treats, a few art projects, wrapping last packages, mailing last cards.  Singing songs, making meals together.  We're also planning mundane things with vigor.  These couple of weeks off will be nice for some small chores we can do together.  We're looking forward to our family gatherings too!  We might try our friends' Twelfth Night gathering if we are still social come January 5th.

We're also doing some of the traditional listening/watching within reason.  I'll share a bit of that.
Journey to the Christmas Star
We loved this little movie!  It's dubbed over but done well.  Journey to the Christmas Star has nice effects but not too many.  It's rated G and is not scary.  It's clever and interesting in all that innocence.  For me, the Nordic traditions woven in it are worth it all.  The little gnomes really clenched it for me personally.

Throughout the season, our other favorite movies are the typical ones like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, A Charlie Brown Christmas, White Christmas and The Grinch.  If you're looking for something touching and a little different, consider The Snowman and the Snowdog--not overstimulating--not truly animated actually, only set to music.  I personally don't understand why they aren't chomping at the bit more to see Muppet's Christmas Carol, which is probably my favorite.

One of these days, I need to do a post about our favorite Christmas books...

As for music, Over the Rhine's Snow Angels is still probably my favorite listen, but don't forget about their other two which are amazingly wonderful Christmas CDs too.  With that group, it's never going to be typical Christmas music, for what it's worth.

Some more: anything by Loreena McKennitt, Elizabeth Mitchell's Sounding Joy, The two Sufjan Stevens contributions, Gaby Moreno's Posada (new to me this year), Vince Guaraldi's Charlie Brown Christmas album, Shawn Colvin's Holiday Songs and Lullabies.  I also have a big heart for The Carpenters' Christmas Portrait, what can I say?

Saturday, December 20, 2014

More herbal preparations

 I decided to work with elderberry a bit more, and I ended up with a simple elderberry syrup and an oxymel (that also includes ginger and elecampagne) that's doing it's soaking magic.  Oxymels are distinguished by their mix of apple cider vinegar (just the good stuff like Braggs) and honey (just the good stuff like raw, local).
 Above is the chai mixture I made from a bunch of different herbs like your typical chai spices but also burdock root.  It was simmered with astragalus and reishi mushroom.  (I made a bulk amount of the original base spice set so I can do it more quickly next time.)  All I do is heat this concentrate with some almond milk and add some honey.
 I have here some elecampagne honey (lungs, cough) and rose/sage honey (throat).  You can see the old fire cider above before I strained it, and below is the ready-to-slurp form before I added honey.  I have gone through some honey today!  I'm glad I tend to get a lot.  I've probably used a quart and a half today.  Fire cider is often a preventative (like an oxymel), but it's also good with a cough (like that oxymel!).

Monday, December 15, 2014

Learning to Walk in the Dark

One of the best books I've recently read is, hands down, Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor.  She's also fairly local to our area.  Once I saw her in a restaurant we were having dinner in, and I felt like such a little fan girl.  (I've read a couple of her other books.)
This book is about faith when things don't make sense anymore and when the traditional Church answers just don't suffice.  It's a beautiful exploration of the important aspects of senses, vision, belief and obviously what darkness is.  She looks into caving, moon cycles, blindness, you-name-it.  We're reading it in our Sunday School class, and we're supposed to spend five more Sundays on it--I really hope we do.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Origins Film Premiere

I am really excited about a new documentary that pulls together a range of concerns and ways forward!  It's called "Origins," and they're allowing online viewing for free until November 22nd.  I found it to be extremely illuminating, and it's not all doom stuff.  The problems are vast and are addressed, but they are linked to a core issue.

I was very taken with certain documentaries like "Dirt," "What Would Jesus Buy" and "Hungry for Change"--they still rank high on my list.  In person, I'd probably tell you that you NEED to watch them in all my excitement.  Online, I'm unlikely to do that. :)  Still, I'd go so far as to even request that you watch Origins.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Cold/Flu Prevention

There are so many things we can do to ward off germs in terms of our lifestyle, but sometimes it's worth taking the extra time to beef up certain vitamins and other whole foods/drinks.  I took a class from Learning Herbs and Rosalee de la Foret called Herbal Cold Care.  It was so very instructive--truly wonderful!  From her recipes, I've been playing a bit in the kitchen and have fire cider creating its magic and then herbal vitamin C pills.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Big Christmas Gift Decided

We tend to get shopping done early and spread it out for the girls.  Christmas isn't that close, and yet with all the wonderful Fall festivals and holidays, it's closer than we think.  Time passes quickly these days.

We decided on the Yogapeautics aerial yoga hammock.  It's costly, but it's a sharing gift for even us.  We already know they need swings like this in their lives.  They have a little hammock seat on the front porch and really do enjoy retreating there.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Family Traditions

People often ask us where we draw inspiration from as regards our family traditions, home rhythms and small rituals.  Certainly there are many sources in addition to our own eureka moments.  A lot of the Waldorf tradition in general gives ways of marking the year and of creating simple points of connection for our family.  In that tradition, there are many precious resources.  To list a few: Seven Times the SunHeaven on Earth, All Year Round, Festivals, Family and Foods, The Birthday Book, and Amanda Soule's latest--The Rhythm of the Family.  While they no longer publish new material, there is a lot to be found at Rhythm of the Home blog.

More recently, I found a couple more! :)

Mrs. Sharp's Traditions (by Sarah Ban Breathnach) celebrates Victorian families and sensibilities, but the activities mentioned universally appeal to children in particular.  She has clever ideas for rainy days, holidays, preparation parties etc.  Because of our prior exposure, the festivals mentioned were not new to us.  (I'd still say they're novel for most folks though.)

The new find is The Book of New Family Traditions (by Meg Cox).  I'm not even finished with this one, but it deserves mention so far.  I like how she looks at even simple transitions like meals or greetings and goodbyes.  She has a ton of suggestions to knit a greater thread into our attachments.  These threads really assist greater simplicity since those rhythms are things we count on and rest in.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Moon Time

I just finished Moon Time by Lucy Pearce.
It had many issues covered about women's cycles and health--it was a pretty exhaustive touch on all areas that seem to come up.  For a while, I read things here and there about aligning our cycles to those of the moon, and this book reinforces that principle.  Many women claim that they suffer less and feel more attuned to relevant connections.

I like that this book has possibilities for women of all comfort levels in terms of honoring themselves, taking care of their needs and seeing our natural progress as quite special.  I can definitely recommend this one.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Michaelmas 2014

We had a good little feast for Michaelmas.  While we did abandon dragon bread and golden silks/capes, we have enjoyed stories and talk of bravery.  We decided to talk about how we can be brave in our lives and how we have been in the past.  Reg Down's The Most Beautiful Dragon in the Whole World was what we told at this evening's supper.

It was a beautiful day at Tallulah Gorge (where we were visiting and attended an intro to geocaching talk).  We spent very little time out on the trails, but we enjoyed the bit we did.  It is starting to feel like Autumn.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Faith Unraveled

I just finished Faith Unraveled: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask Questions by Rachel Held Evans (her blog is quite good too).
This one is quite a page turner.  For the first few chapters, I mostly nodded and smiled knowingly as I was in on so much of the lingo, so many of the Evangelical Christian concerns.  It almost felt like watching the movie Saved for me.  (Ok, maybe I'm a little snarky?)

Her path is similar to my own, and I really appreciate that the place she ends up isn't one of despair but rather of renewed hope.  She is more interested in the Community coming together to have these conversations and wander (and wonder) through the questions together than having clear answers.  Her conclusion is that you can doubt things about God without doubting God.  There's so much more to the book than this conclusion though--so many of those amazing moments when I had those tears of recognition etc.  The ending is priceless as she looks at what children really want when they ask an adult questions and how those questions should be answered (most powerfully with stories of course).