Archive for September, 2012

Beeswax anything has become a tradition in our household.  We dip tapers, roll sheets into tapers, dip nature items, and use it in salves and wood polishes.  Have I missed something?  Well, as the cold creeps in with a breeze, I find myself shuffling around in house shoes, and no longer flip flops.  Fleece and wool clothing begin to surface.  And the aroma of beeswax keeps our souls warm.

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The images and scents we display help to remind us of our own inner light, as our gaze shifts inward during fall.  The place where we are warmed from the inside out.  We created a Fire Fairy to put with our Nature Table.  A table that is ever changing with the seasons.  It includes the felt decorations sewn by me and the children, the hanging beeswax dipped items, our knitted gnome friend Sam, and his Community’s harvest.  The kids and I have a story we go by every week about Sam the gnome and his forest friends.  This story continues the entire year, and we act it out on our nature table.  Our nature table is located on the top of a small bookcase.  The bookcase contains all of our natural, wildlife, outdoors and homesteading books and magazines.  Along with a bug container, some finds in nature, and a magnifying glass and binoculars.  Our nature table and stories are the heart of our Circle Time together.  How do you use beeswax?  What does your nature table look like?

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Here is a recipe from the vault.  Apple Cider Vinegar Herbal Hair Rinse.  I remember the days when my grandmother would rinse her hair with vinegar.  One never forgets the smell.  But vinegar is tried and true, with so many uses.  Get an organic bottle of Bragg’s or whatever is available.  Acquire a nice big glass jar, with a wide mouth.  Use many combinations of herbs to take it a step further.  The following herbs help remove residue on the scalp, including dandruff, and it is good for itchy scalp, natural hair loss treatment, and a home remedy for lice.  Horsetail, rosemary, nettle, yarrow, chamomile and lavender.  Just make a whole large jug, which should last your family a few seasons.  I take a cup of the vinegar and mix it with water in a pitcher, then apply to my scalp in the shower.  Let me give you a reminder.  Do not let this recipe intimidate you.  Before even gathering herbs you do not have, do an experiment solely with vinegar.  Plan, and order over time, meanwhile document your personal research, in a journal.

To be honest, apple cider vinegar is an excellent deodorant.  It smells the first few minutes, but dissipates.  Vinegar is very anti-microbial.  Apply with a cotton ball, or washable rag.  If you find your body is sensitive to store-bought products, give vinegar a try.  Try it under one arm first to be sure.  Remember every person’s body is different, and that is my disclaimer.  If you are looking for a way to be frugal, this is one stop along the way.  Maybe you can find more uses here.  Not that you have anything else to do, but what if you tried using vinegar for as many things as you can.  What if it was a home school experiment?  What if it was a personal challenge?  What if you are trying to save money?  Think about it.  If you don’t do it now, the seed is planted.  Winter is a good time for such projects.

I do have a challenge out  there for active folks.  Those who run, climb, jump, track and play.  Give vinegar a try as your natural deodorant, and see what happens.  You’ll sweat, but the odor will be minimal.  Based on the person though, it does matter what types of toxins release from your system.  You’ll want to consider what you are eating or what medicines you might be taking, or the air you are breathing.

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I come to you today feeling a lot grateful and a little tired.  The rain is pattering on my tin roof, the turkeys are cooing, and life just got slower~  It has been a couple weeks since a friend and I got together and laughingly made soap.  The sense of bonding over making soap for family is a sacred thing.  Women and families have done it for centuries.

In the past few weeks, I have observed nature and people participate in the hustle and bustle.  The end of summer frenzy to collect our nuts and check our stores.  The desire to attend community events, yet the inner-longing to just stay home and look within.  The grace to show our Creator our gratitude by saying so.  And the harvest of a Community, through our beautiful children.  There are so many beautiful babies around ~ And the desire to express our souls through art, which is synonymous with baby-making.

With those thoughts I bring you images of our soap making.  Ever since 1999, I have been keeping a Materia Medica.  A collection of recipes and experiments with herbs, oils and natural remedies.  My basic soap recipe comes from Country Living – Handmade Soap – Recipes for crafting soap at home.  I have gladly purchased essential oils from Creation Pharms, formerly of Boone, NC.  Mike Hulbert wrote the text for this book, and now lives in Michigan with his wife, who is an herbalist.  I have profound gratitude to Beth Jefferies Barnes, who took time out of her day to teach me to make soap, on that Ridge, back in time.

I wish my photos could truly express the richness of these experiments, but I find life is so much brighter and harder to capture.  I have only included two images.  The rest can belong to the art of your imagination.  See yourself with a friend instead.

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One begins by collecting ingredients.  This time I used coconut oil, olive oil, grape seed oil lye, water, rosemary and peppermint essential oils.  Prepare your lye and water separately and safely.  Then, set up your oils on the stove.  Have a thermometer handy to check the temperature of both set ups.  When you achieve the desired temperatures, mix together slowly and stir.  The first time I made soap, my teacher asked me to stir the entire time by hand.  You’ll be ever more grateful for the batch.  Otherwise I use a nice hand mixer, kept only with my craft supplies.  After you reach a consistency where the soap traces, pour into your molds.  I use a loaf mold made of wood by my husband.  I slip a trash bag over the mold and pour into that.  This way the mold slips right out to cure.  Have patience for 4-6 weeks.

If you find you have always wanted to make soap, say it out loud.  Say it several times.  Then, write it down.  Begin by going to your library and finding a book, or searching the internet.  Collect your resources, which you may even have in your home now.  Find a friend who might split the cost with you.  Brew some tea and be a part of this generation learning what our ancestors did, and passing it along.  Remember.  Take Part.

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Here’s a keek at our Bourbon Red Turkey, one of two right now.  This is a Heritage breed, from Bourbon County, KY.  If you would like information on adding some to your flock or dinner table, comment below.  Or, email me at healingoneself(at)gmail(dot)com.  We went down to Buffalo, KY, near Abe Lincoln’s birthplace and got ours.

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Welcome back folks.  Today we are dyeing with coffee.  It’s kind of funny because I usually try to keep coffee off my clothes, but this time I really wanted that coffee color on silk.  It came out a super light brown.  I am mostly a Simpler, so the recipe was easy.  A plop or few of vinegar, a pot of second-generation coffee, and the grounds.  Get it to a boil, then take it off the burner to sit.  I will either hand roll hem or take it through the machine.  I haven’t decided.  Here is what came of it.

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Stay tuned to see how our soap turned out.  I can smell it from where I stand.  The soap is curing and I am about to pop it out of the mold.  Also, our next project will be to achieve a pink dye for silk, using food.

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In 2012, I set a personal goal to visit as many farms, parks and nature preserves as were presented to me.  So far we have seen the following places.  Live Education and day trips to parks and farms has been a great introduction to Geography.

Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve, in Goshen, KY. 

Berheim Forest in Bardstown, KY. 

Gallrein Farms in Shelbyville, KY. 

Cedar Fire Farm, Frankfort, KY.

 Ayer’s Orchard in Owenton, KY.

Blackacre Homestead in Louisville, KY.

Salato Center, Frankfort, KY.

Red River Gorge, Wolfe/Powell County, KY. (W and dad made this trip)

Sugarbush Maple Syrup Farm, Salem, Indiana.

E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park, Louisville, KY.

Lincoln Birth Place, Knob Creek, KY.

Taylorsville Lake, Taylorsville, KY.

Lake Monroe, Bloomington, IN.

We also visited a bunch of parks in and around Seattle, Washington, this past July.  Too many to name today.

We intend to visit Foxhollow Farm sometime soon in Crestwood, KY.  Perhaps Hazelfield Farms in Wheatley, KY.  And, Josephine Sculpture Park, Frankfort, KY.

If for some reason you went with me to a farm or park and I have forgotten, which happens, please remind me and I will edit this post.  If you have any suggestions for beautiful places to go, let me know.  So far we have tromped through all the seasons of the year and intend to keep on going.  I hope to see you there.  Where have you been on your adventures?

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Thanks for joining me here in the studio.  This month we are taking a close look at the Michealmas Festival.  The story of St. George and the Dragon, and Archangel Michael.  With my Margaret Hodges book, St. George and the Dragon to inspire us, we made felt banners as visual imagery.

If you are wondering where I got the large felt, it is actually a Christmas tree skirt.  My mom picked it up at Michael’s on deep discount.  I had no idea what I was saving it for, but now I know.  The white felt is embedded with glitter, which bounces light nicely.  I made three banner flags.  One for the kitchen as you see.  One hanging on the boys bedroom door, and a small one for our nature table.  I got the fantastic verse below from my homeschool consultant and the Thinking, Feeling, Willing program, through Waldorf Essentials.

Brave Saint Michael is my guide
As free and fearless forth I ride
With courage of Saint George of old
I dare to fight fierce dragons bold.


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September is a month where our Waldorf-inspired curriculum teaches us to explore and enjoy a festival called Michaelmas.  Archangel Michael, if you recall, cast Lucifer out of Heaven.  Well, Archangel Michael also had an earthly counterpart, St. George of Merry England.  George was known for battling and slaying dragons.  The story reflects our inner dragons or fears and is a wonderful teaching, especially to children who are going thru “the change” as it is affectionately called.  We each have light and dark within us.  We must battle our darkness at times and learn to honor and integrate within.  All month long we are doing activities and crafts building up to the festival.  We promise to take you on the journey. 

Here is a book I have brought forward this week by Margaret Hodges.  St. George and the Dragon.  The book is filled with beautiful illustrations and has given me great ideas, as I will be sewing and crafting to decorate our home for this aspect of our education.

After reading the story the boys were inspired to dress up and play St. George and the Dragon.  W and R will also have their opportunity this month to make a wooden sword and sheild.  The sword and sheild are a part of more handwork us parent-teachers are integrating into our children’s education, beginning with planning and drawing, cutting, sanding and painting. We are hoping the sense of pride in making objects by hand will teach respect and gratitude.  Handwork will strengthen the boys hands and fingers to assist them in drawing and writing in these early grades.  Gross motor to fine motor.  First here is a picture or two of W and R pretending to have a shield (R crossing his arms), and W with his sword (bamboo stick).  The red cape and felt crown are from W’s birthday another year, but we will modify this outfit to make a knight’s outfit.  R wants to be a Prince.  We thought a warrior and a prince were very fitting. 

 Tomorrow I will be in the Studio creating felt banners and flags of St. George’s Sheild in relation to the imagery for the month.  Stay tuned as we continue on this enchanting adventure.

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Kentucky is such a beautiful place this time of year.  A late summer morning took us to a local orchard, out in the hills of Owen County.  2012 is the second year in a row we journeyed to the orchards to pick Mother Nature’s bounty and to make something of it for our bellies and pantry.  I like that we are making a tradition of apple picking with my mother and my children.  A little bit of adventure and we had a bushel of apples.

We also enjoy the book Johnny Appleseed, by Jane Yolen.  Each year during the month of September we read this lovely book, and enjoy the tradition of pairing it with our orchard trip.  Yolen’s book is poetic and filled with facts of Johnny’s life.

Today, almost a week later, my mother came over and we peeled apples upon apples with my new crank de-corer/peeler.  It is a very nice tool, and not hard to clean up.  The kids enjoyed cranking the apples and being apart of making my birthday pie.  Before we got the apples out I set up my ice cream maker and made some vanilla ice cream to pair with the pie at my birthday dinner.

In case you are wondering where we went, click here to visit Ayer’s Orchard.  The year before we really enjoyed a presentation by Larry Ayers and his wife at the Frankfort library.  The boys loved tasting a variety of apples grown at the orchard and a few ways to use apples. 

The rest of the apples we picked are carefully stored in our cool basement.  It is going be nice this winter eating local healthy apples.  As they say, an apple a day, is delicious.

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Harvest season in Kentucky is on.  We have visited one apple orchard already, and plan to visit another farm next week with play mates.  While visiting these beautiful places in our home state we have begun to weave stories.  Currently we are digging into the Four Processes of Waldorf Math.  W, who is 7 1/2 helps to spin stories about gnomes and apples.  Addition, or Plus, the Green Gnome is busy collecting and adding all the apples for the Gnome Kingdom.  Subtraction Gnome, or Blue Gnome, is busy Taking Away or Subtracting rotten apples.  Multiplication Gnome, or Yellow Gnome is the Record Keeper.  After his helpers have grouped the apples in baskets, Yellow Gnome Multiplies all the apples for the Kingdom’s records.  Divide, the Red Gnome will be in charge of Dividing the apple bounty to the Kingdom.

The Four Processes

To help with manipulatives W has sewn four gnome hats, with pouches for gemstones.  Taking a full week to sew these four hats and pouches has helped to foster a sense of worker’s pride with W.  These gemstones represent the apples in our stories, and he uses them to practice achieving the answers.  For example, when learning multiplication today we focused on the ways we can make 12.  12 = 6 x 2 and 12 = 4 x 3, 12 = 3 x 4 and 12= 2 x 6, 12 = 12 x 1 and 12 = 1 x 12.  Whole to parts.  Adding and Subtraction was pretty easy, but Multiplication is bending W’s brain a little.  I am trying to keep W knitting one row a day to allow his brain to cross the midline and stretch his sense of learning.

Sewing the Gnome hat and pouch instills a sense of worker’s pride.

I am introducing all the four processes at once to create a little freedom, although we are working one by one right now to find a deeper understanding.  Once we have finished with Divide, we will continue to spin stories in the Kingdom, allowing for each of the four Gnomes to contribute an answer to any possible story problem the + – x / run into.

Right now we are entering our math problems and word problems, such as twelve equals one times twelve into our practice book.  Soon we will draw some detailed pictures with  math problems into the Main Lesson Book, which is W’s portfolio book for first grade.

To get ourselves ready for math, we  are spending Circle Time speaking and singing verses and saying tongue twisters for oral dexterity.  More about Circle Time in another post.

In the Kingdom there are other things going on too.  Not only are the Gnomes collecting apples during Harvest Season, but the Kingdom is getting ready for the Michaelmas Festival.  Archangel Michael, St. George, the Knight and Dragons all coming up in September.  Stay tuned for a month of crafts, stories and more.

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