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.