Friday, November 30, 2012

Project 31: Journal Day 8

Journal~Day 8:

A) Esther responded back by email with raw milk link:  (buy local, whole foods)
Note: At our last Waldorf Meetup group, the other moms and I
were discussing unpasteurized milk and where to get it.
After our hike in the woods, we've been going back to Esther's farm house
and enjoying a cup of hot chocolate made with the raw milk she gets. Delicious!
B) Facebooked Mary about where she used to get her fresh milk, wanting a farm that came recommended and trusted.
  • They got theirs from Hedgebrook Farm- ; group share instead of private share, so would need to rotate pickup amongst 6 families :(  would prefer to responsible for my own milk. Celeste's milk pickup is the same way and I wasn't really interested in that model.
  • 1 gallon of milk a week
  • One time fee of $60 for share; one time fee of $20 for jars & lids; monthly boarding fee of $28. Money collected quarterly
  • Works out to be about $5.25/gallon (after the one time fees of course)
C) Made grilled ham and cheese sandwiches for lunch with the homemade bread I made on Day 6. There's a sense of pride in using/eating something you made yourself. I tell you, I was walking a little taller and feeling all puffed up, lol :) (healthy, homemade)
Note: Our day 6 bread making.
The 2 loaves on the left were made by scratch by my 9 year old daughter, Anna,
without ANY assistance. They're a honey wheat. Pretty awesome, huh?!
She's got more skills than I did at her age, that's for sure.
 The one on the one right was mine~ a simple wheat bread recipe
from Laural's Kitchen cookbook. Attempt one in making this bread.
***I felt so proud using MY homemade that I made myself. I was all puffed up**

    D) Began making heart and star Christmas ornaments from old fabric. (sewing, handmade, resourceful)
    Note: Fabric from my baby quilt and Kittens in a Basket.
     It's the fabric that keeps on giving :)
    E) Continued worked on Christy's wool felt baby booties, began embroidery designs.
    F) Husband brought home the beeswax and honey! (local, small business, organic)
    Note: One of the ladies at my husband's work has a little side business beekeeping:
    Lunsford Bee Farm. At our Waldrolf Group on Monday we will be making
     hand dipped beeswax candles!!


Project 31: Day 7

So I explained yesterday what Project 31 was. My year of reinventing my life towards a healthy, more conscious, self-sustaining, and holistic lifestyle. Working towards that end little by little, day by day, piece by piece. I not only want to learn the "how" of these things but also to know the "why". So it's a year of hands and head--and as with everything I strive for heart~contemplation, being present to God and to the moment. Out of all my endevours for this coming 31st year of life that will be the hardest, yet the one I most aspire and hope to attain.

Here's the page from my journal~ Day 7:

A) Continued work on Christy's wool felt Christmas booties. (objective: sewing skills, made by hand, resourceful)
Side Note: Started these on Day 5.
The wool was felt left over from an unfinished puppet my daughter was
making for one of our Waldorf Group activity days.
I am using Simplicty Pattern 2867 from my old stash of patterns.

B) Researched freezing vegetables such as potatoes so I can start reducing the amount of frozen veggies I buy in the frozen food section of the grocery store. (Unprocessed, healthy, whole foods)
  •  Site I visited: here
C) Learned about blanching vegetables, from the same site above, and the importance to the preserving process. (Learning to can/preserve foods)
  • Blanching (scalding vegetables in boiling water or steam for a short time) is a must for almost all vegetables to be frozen. It stops enzyme actions which can cause loss of flavor, color and texture. Blanching cleanses the surface of dirt and organisms, brightens the color and helps retard loss of vitamins. It also wilts or softens vegetables and makes them easier to pack.  Blanching time is crucial and varies with the vegetable and size. Underblanching stimulates the activity of enzymes and is worse than no blanching. Overblanching causes loss of flavor, color, vitamins and minerals. Use one gallon water per pound of prepared vegetables. Put the vegetable in a blanching basket and lower into vigorously boiling water. Place a lid on the blancher. The water should return to boiling within 1 minute, or you are using too much vegetable for the amount of boiling water. Start counting blanching time as soon as the water returns to a boil. Keep heat high for the time given in the directions for the vegetable you are freezing.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."
~ T. S. Eliot

On November 23rd I celebrated my 31st birthday! And my blog turned 1. One year of blogging! Woohoo!  I know this because I began this blog as my 30th birthday present to myself. It was an experiment of sorts. I can't say it's been successful~but it wasn't success I was looking for. It was about taking a step out and doing something for myself. Putting myself out on a limb. Which is wonderful because it led to me beginning my little art business. Which, again, wasn't about success either. It was about gaining confidence in myself. Taking another step a bit further out on that limb. It gave me enough confidence to begin to socialize a bit (I've been a "desperate housewife" of sorts for years, living out a self-imposed ostracized life.) leading me to my group of prayer friends. These are people I could be totally me with. People who knew my past, who knew my struggles~no holding back, no posturing~ and still accepted me. Within  in this group, I met a good friend who lent me a helping hand in taking another step towards doula work~assisting with her in my first birth in the role of student doula. It was with this group of friends, Team McArthur was born, quenching my thirst for charity, my fourth vow~serving others around me with love. And from there sprung the branch of my art business called Art Charity. Being able to socialize once again, led me to local Meetup Groups such as Ten Moons' Birth Circle group, Warrenton Waldorf-Inspired Homeschooling group, and an Aware Parenting group~yes, more putting myself further out on the limb and meeting new people. And from here, let me tell you, the view is spectacular.

What an absolutely beautiful year it has been for me.

It has been my best year yet. Out so far on this branch of mine~from here I will either fall or fly. I think it will be the latter :) And besides with God at my side whom shall I fear, right??! I have high hopes for what year 31 holds in store for me. I coined what is now known as "Project 31". It is my list of goals I have set for myself this year. It mostly consists of 4 major categories:

A) Self-sustaining lifestyle/skills
B) Holistic: Head, Heart, Hands
C) Attitude of Gratitude
D) Contemplative (everything with God) ~but of course!

My subcategories are:
#1) Food: whole foods, healthy, unprocessed, lose excess weight (once and for all. Big prize if I do~my brother will go on a hike with me on my beloved Appalachian Trail come spring if I can lose 30 lbs in 6 mos. Already lost 5!! Only 25 more to go.)
         -buy local
         -buy organic
         -learn to grow
         -learn to can

#2) Conscious living: know where my food comes from, know where my clothing comes from, know where my products come from:
         -buy local
         -buy handmade
         -Make by hand

#3) Sewing skills, knitting skills, crochet skills, etc...

All this will be a progression~little by little over the course of the year; no do or die attitude, only a nice gentle flow towards change. I keep a little journal of skills I'm learning and/or have researched and objectives I accomplished that day.

Baking bread in the kitchen yesterday (see already working towards my goals ~objectives: unprocessed foods, made from scratch ;) with my daughter, Anna (9), who has a birthday herself in a couple of weeks as spurred her to do her own 'Project 10' and joining me in this journey!

And you may have noticed my new blog design. I figured with my blog turning 1, it needed a new look :) The picture is from the Appalachian Trail, a reminder and encourager of things to come... I've been doing more hikes with our little Waldorf homeschool group as well and am finding so much solace in the woods and nature, I thought I'd bring a piece of that to my blog. So raise up your glasses and lets say a cheers to a new year of life and a new year of blogging!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Bustin' Out Week 1

I am working on my MaryJane Farmgirl Sisterhood Bustin' Out beginner level badge. 
This badge is incorporated into my Pictures of Produce Art Charity project. In addition to buying a different organic fruit or veggie from a local farmer--then drawing it--trying a new recipe with it-- blogging about all of it--selling the art on Etsy for a charitable cause--I GET TO EARN A BADGE DOING IT! Woohoo! That was the beauty behind Art Charity. It was a way to join everything I do: charity, artist, blogger, Farmgirl badges, community, service.
The requirements for this badge are:
  • Try a new organic food each week. Remember, it only takes 21 days to change your taste preferences. Here is your chance to encourage yourself to enjoy more fruits and vegetables.
  • Do this for one month.
You saw it coming--this week is turnips. Hand dug from the earth this past Saturday during our turnip gleaning experience.
                                                                         With my little stash of turnips I made a batch of mashed turnips. I am rather unfamiliar with turnips so a friend recommended this method. You treat them the same way you would potatoes. After they are mashed, add a bit of grated Parmesan cheese and a smidge of butter. Yum!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Martinmas Lanterns

We recently joined a new Meetup group called Waldorf at Home. For those who may be unfamiliar with Waldorf you can read a bit about it here. I'd say my family is more waldorf-inspired than "waldorf"-- there is a distinction between the two. I like it for the focus on rhythm, celebration, creativity, being holistic, and in tune with nature. But it can, and does, go far deeper than that. Our little group meets every Monday. At yesterday's Meetup we made lanterns in honor of Martinmas.

On November 11th, countries around the world will celebrate Martinmas, the holiday honoring St. Martin of Tours, a Roman soldier-turned monk. According to legend, St. Martin came upon a scantily clad beggar one night in the snow, and having nothing to offer, he took his sword and cut his cloak in half to share with the man. That night, St. Martin had a dream in which Christ was wearing half a cloak and said, “Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptized; he has clad me.” The next day, Martin ran to be baptized and became a Christian.
In European counties today, festivities range from children parading with paper lanterns behind a man dressed as St. Martin to families eating a feast featuring goose, but the heart of the story is selfless generosity.

Some of the kids colored and made paper lanterns while others wrapped wire around mason jars forming a handle then Modge Podged paper cutouts to the outside of it. In addition to lantern making we enjoyed a little bonfire in the fire pit, homemade soup and rolls, my daughter sang a little lantern song for everyone and the rest was just an afternoon of good running and playing with other kids and mother talk. Later that evening, back at home, the girls delighted in trying out their new candle lanterns! 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Gleaning for Turnips

We gleaned for the first time this past Saturday! Turnip gleaning. This experience was almost allowed to slip by me. I wasn't going to attend. I was coming off of a lousy week. You know that kind that makes you feel like your putting out a tremendous amount of effort but very little gets accomplished. Day after day of feeling like your running in place draining all motivation and life from you. I was hoping to use my weekend with only a 'light load' of three kids to take care of business around the house and get some preplanning done for the upcoming week in hopes to make it better than the last one. However, the thought of getting my hands dirty on a farm sounded quite therapeutic after such a rough couple of days--to just forget everything, get some fresh air and get dirty. Heck, why not?! Besides, I'm trying to put together my Portraits of Produce series for Art Charity and I needed one of those turnips to model for my drawing. What better, more intimate way, to get to know my food source from the local farmers than to go out and pull it from the earth myself!
As an added bonus, one of these 10 lb bags of turnips was going to be donated to Adam McArthur and his family. The rest would be distributed to various food pantries, ministries, shelters, and needy families. Such a cause is worthy of a day off of housework and lesson planning!
Marker-Miller Farm Winchester, VA.

The turnip field and gleaning volunteers.

The largest turnip came in at over 5 lbs!

My 4 year old daughter, Olivia, had a blast picking turnips. I swear
she has some 'farmer' in her blood. She picked for close to 2 hours
never stopping, never complaining, having the time of her life!
The day was really geared towards children. There was a free lunch, contests,
and prizes. Olivia was even named Turnip Queen!

A beautiful sight! A mountain of 10 lb bags of turnips!
All mine!
And so it ended up being a  wonderful day! So much better than staying home for a 'catch up day'. It was a special day for my three youngest daughters, especially my Olivia. We've caught the gleaning bug! I hear there are apple, green bean, peaches, and potato gleanings in our area to name a few.
You'll be seeing these lovely ladies to the right again. This is my stash for art and cooking--hand picked! From the field, to the studio, to the kitchen they go :)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Art Charity

I've discovered a way to incorporate everything I do. Lay Missionary of Charity (service), St. Catherine's Apprentice (art), Spiritual Homesteading (blog), MaryJane Farmgirl Sisterhood (earning awesome merit badges), Team McArthur (charity and community). . . . all rolled into one makes Art Charity! Art Charity will be an extension of my art business, which I pursued for my MaryJane entrepreneur badge. I've written that my whole desire behind my business was never to be successful, but to put my art to service. Art Charity is the fruit that desire! My St. Catherine's Apprentice website and this blog will be the canvas to share this.

So those who read this blog already have already met Adam McArthur. He will be the first to receive these donations. But I'd like to expand this service beyond Team McArthur to other charitable causes. My own unique way of giving~using art to spread love!

So here's my blurb:
St. Catherine's Apprentice would like to present Art Charity!! All profits received from this series of drawings will go to charity. Each series will be inspired by and created specifically for a certain charitable cause. It’s art for a cause!

The first Recipient for Art Charity profits will be the McArthur Family! Adam McArthur is a husband and father of 3, diagnosed with brain cancer. His family is in need of donations to continue his cancer treatments and assist with their daily living expenses. You can read more about Adam on Healer in Your Heart and on the Team McArthur Facebook page set up to raise awareness for his condition and support for the family.

An imperative component of Adam’s cancer treatment is his food. He is on a strict gluten-free, sugar-free, vegetarian diet.  Therefore this series will be called Portraits of Produce: the McArthur Collection. Raising awareness for Adam, brain cancer, natural cancer treatment options, organic foods and local farmers, this collection will include a weekly drawing inspired by locally grown, organic produce item purchased from area farmer markets.  Each “portrait” of a fruit or veggie will be coupled with a tasty recipe and farm highlights.

It's going to be exciting! God willing, this will only be a precurser to a larger project I have in store called Saints and Veggies.

Save a farm. Buy local.
Support Adam. Buy art J