The Restorative Red Bedroom (a new room with just a can of paint!)

20180327_161143

I don’t know who thought of the color combination of dingy dorm room white with pukey grey trim but ever since I moved in I have wanted to change it.  I just didn’t know what colors to paint our bedroom.  I painted the living room yellow with brown trim, and the guest room the lightest hint of pink with brown trim.  I wanted my room to have a particular feel.

20180327_132410

Romantic, not bright, but not too dark, just warm and comfortable.

20180327_154511

I decided on Autumn Red which is a dark red but has hints of rose pink in it.  The same brown trim that I used throughout the house unifies the spaces.

20180327_163737

The gorgeous red, of course, ended up matching my chili ristra in the corner, and highlighted my painting of our dream house in New Mexico.

20180327_163750.jpg

The same trim color was used to paint the door, dresser and mirror to give them a vintage appeal and they just match the cheeky buffalo head.  I painted the edge of the dresser red.  I simplified the wall hangings.

20180327_161203.jpg

The cats were climbing up the back of the headboard to see out the window while we were sleeping so by taking the mirror off of the dresser, I was able to give them a place to bird watch and let me sleep in peace!  Moving furniture around can make the space more functional.

20180327_163827.jpg

Geraniums brighten the space.

The room is beautiful.  It feels like we are inside of a heart.  It is beautifully restorative, like a cave.  And again, a simple can of paint can completely renovate, restore, and change the feel of any room.

The Motley Crew of Pumpkin Hollow

20171006_143254.jpg

I need this sign!

29063653_2108988012449984_2658360846693957632_n

Gandalf is over a hundred pounds now at seven months old.  He is adorable.  His crazy brother, Merlin is eight months old and thinks he is a jaguar.  Or a dog.  That boy is a little special.  Each morning my husband emails me from work and asks, “How are you and zoo?”

DSC_6169My three old kitties, that we had hand raised almost thirteen years ago, came home after being at the shop for over two years.  Let’s just say they don’t love Merlin.  Gandalf is loud and furry and naughty too.  I didn’t get chicks this year.  I think eight cats, a giant polar bear, and seven chickens will do me just fine for now.  But I tell you what, this zoo makes me laugh. Every. Single. Day.  It’s a motley crew over here on Pumpkin Hollow Farm!

29249232_1807525662632505_2095235177570631680_n

Trusting Intuition and Plant Medicines

20171211_143558

My kitten was very sick.  Five months ago I picked Merlin and his brother up at the feed mill where they had been found the eve before.  They were not even a day old yet and their mother was gone.  Merlin survived on dropper-fulls of milk delivered every two hours.  He spent his first six weeks, first in my bra, then in my apron top.  He went everywhere with us because of his feedings.  He is a feisty, furry, sweet little boy and I naturally have a very strong attachment to him.

merlin

Last week I noticed that when he ran (which he seems to always be doing) streams of diarrhea were following him.  It wouldn’t stop.  He also has chronic allergies.  I had cancelled his appointment to get neutered at the “in-and-out-neuter clinic because they wouldn’t listen to me that they would have to be alert to his breathing.

I haven’t been to a vet in over a decade.  Same with the doctor.  I make my own medicines with 100% success and my full faith is in these plants.  If they don’t need to be spayed/neutered or humanely euthanized at the end of life, I don’t take them.  I know as well as I know my name what herbs do what.  I had been faithfully giving Merlin the antibiotic and the super immunity allergy medicine and these keep his sniffles in check.  He had two days worth of tummy trouble medicine that I make specifically for cats (chamomile, mint, mullein, lemon balm).  But fear makes us doubt.  It makes us panic.  And I made an appointment with the vet.

Doug recalled his trip with Merlin and as I read the line by line charges I realized the vet is no different than it was twenty years ago when I was a vet tech.  God love them but most vets (and doctors) are trained on a script, a pharmaceutical drug, and a bill.  She did a fecal sample.  I knew he didn’t have parasites because he had already taken my anti-parasite.  He didn’t but she de-wormed him anyway.  With a chemical.  That made him so bad that night that diarrhea was flying everywhere in large puddles as he screamed and literally climbed the walls.  Then they sold him some “special” food (I cannot believe after all this time they are still pushing that Science Diet stuff as healthy).  Tried to push vaccinations on him (even though he was clearly not feeling well).  Over a hundred dollars later we had a diagnoses.  Diarrhea.

I was furious that my Merlin was worse.  I was furious that I had not trusted my instincts, my intuition, my plants.  The next day, his third day of tummy medicine that I make, he was a hundred percent well.  One more dose and we would have had it.

How many times did I panic when the kids were little (before I was an herbalist) and rush Andy to the emergency room for pink eye (in 2 hours it is better with my recipe), or Shyanne with a headache (feverfew and willow), or Emily with seborrhea dermatitis (she was allergic to her earrings)?

20171215_074653

In our household and with thousands of clients over the years and students’ medicines made and the people they help and so forth, I have seen plants heal everything.  I beseech you to learn herbal medicines for your homestead.  I have saved my own flock of chickens, helped relieve pain in goats, de-wormed sheep, healed cats, saved dogs, and kept our family healthy and well.  The plants were made for this!

They are burying one of my son’s friends this week.  Oxycodone.

I have classes, I have an online store and shop, others across the world have the same.  Seek out wisdom in library books, with teachers, or if you have no desire to turn your basement into a full apothecary, find a real herbalist.  Not a health food store.  A working, breathing, passionate herbalist.

http://whitewolfherbs.com

Maybe 2018 is the year we all go back to the plants.

(By the way, Merlin is doing great!)

 

 

Update on Merlin and How Cats Protect Us

20171009_130249The tiny palm-sized kitten that we brought home not even a day after being born is doing wonderful.  He is three months old now, feisty as can be, and ridiculously cuddly.  We dropper fed him every two hours and he was a little slower to figure out how to eat, drink out of a saucer, or to use litter, but the other cats have different roles in his care and he’s figuring it all out.  The two younger have become his playmates, and the older two are there to cuddle him and smack him if he starts getting out of hand.  Merlin is very social after traipsing around everywhere in my shirt for six weeks.  These days he is just home with the other cats keeping it safe and happy.

20170925_114402It’s almost Halloween.  At the shelter that I worked at many moons ago we did not adopt out black cats during the month of October for their own safety.  In both shelters I worked at, black cats were adopted much less than other colors.  Many people are still wary of black cats.

20171012_215258All cats throughout history have been known to be powerful protection.  I have a lot of students and clients come to my house and shop.  I always watch my three cats at the shop and my five cats at home to see if I can trust someone.

The cats tell me if someone is outside as they stare in unison intently out the window.  If there is a storm coming, cats will tell you.  When someone broke into our car, my large black cat kept pawing me awake.  When I wouldn’t budge he went in to the kitchen and disturbed dishes to make a racket then returned to my side in bed meowing and nudging me.  In the middle ages cats almost became extinct.  The mass killings of cats created an epidemic of infected mice and rats and the Plague ravaged the country.  Cats could have saved them a lot sooner.

20171009_173950

Merlin helping a student with his homework.

People can get ridiculous when they are fearful.  In the 1500’s if cats were congregating in an area it was thought that they were having a meeting whilst plotting more killings of humans through their magic.  Meanwhile women who were healers- herbalists and midwives and wise women- were being killed as witches.  The cats that they kept for companionship (being a healer is lonely work) and to keep mice out of the dried herbs and ingredients were used to prove the woman was a witch.  The color black is used for protection.  So black cats and black clothing are/were common among magical folks.

20171012_193847But cats don’t just protect us against rats and strangers, they sense energies, spirits, and changes that we may not be attuned to.  They protect against negative energies/entities.  That is why they make such a fine Familiar for modern witches.  Witches are probably not what you think, they are men and women who spend their lives trying to raise positivity and light in this world by lighting candles to pray for good, by setting intentions and manifesting, by helping guide others through uncertainties, and by using the traditional healing arts to make real changes.  A cat will stand by while one lights candles and raises positive energy.  A cat will dispel negative energy and will always be a loyal companion.

SnugglesDuring this time of Samhain, when the veil is thinnest, you may think you hear laughter or talking from someone who has passed over.  Odd happenings are common right now, and deceased grandmas and old friends are just popping by to say hello.  Your cat will make sure everyone is on the up and up.

I have had a cat my entire life.  From my first beloved cat of my own, Serina, who slept above the heads of my children in their cribs, her arms around their heads to keep them safe, to the wild kitten stalking my feet right now, my life is all the richer from having cats.

 

Sunrises, Gratitude, and Magic Coffee

IMG_2047

Today I unpack our books and photos, writings and my aprons.  I will make this downstairs area emanate life and our love for each other and home.  Tomorrow we will pick up all my plants from the greenhouse at Margie’s and will be officially moved out of her home.

IMG_4864

I owe Margie and Pat a great amount of gratitude for taking us in while in the depths of despair holding nine cats.  We made such beautiful memories over there this summer, flying in Pat’s airplane, feeding the raccoon on the porch while watching bats, enjoying drinks together as the moon rose over the horizon of trees.  Their graciousness held no bounds and I am truly thankful.

IMG_2050

The shop continues to change and form each day.  Each day it looks more and more like how I envisioned it.  And in mad rushes it will be done and ready to open Tuesday with cups of tea and glowing medicines ready to pour.

IMG_2048

But now I sit here as the dawn stretches and rises quietly over the earth illuminating all the autumn splendor and old trees as the cool breeze awakes the upper branches.  My spirit is tired and my back is sore but I sit in peace with my cup of coffee.  These things we hold onto to bring us joy.  A sip of this coffee brings me back to years of holidays, and years of happiness.  Each sip holds magic.  We call it Christmas coffee but I start it in October.  A sweet reminder of all the fun to come, of trick-or-treating, sharing Thanksgiving meals, of the childlike wonder of Christmas and Hanukkah, and the new beginnings of the New Year.

IMG_2049

This year (and last) may have been a wild ride, but all I feel at this moment is peace and intense gratitude.  For the memories with my children and family and friends that are family, for sunrises so beautiful they erase the previous day, and for sips of magic coffee.

In a coffee pot, or preferably a French press, add 2 drops of peppermint essential oil to regular scoops of coffee ( I do like a nice strong roast myself, 7 heaping scoops to an 8 cup press) and brew as you would.

Magic.

Making and Canning Juice (and moving box fun)

We were gifted three boxes of apples, a windfall from our friends’ tree.  After putting up eight jars of sliced apples, nine jars of applesauce, and drying a load of apples, I still had a box and a half.  Doug and I go through a fair amount of juice and organic juice is not cheap y’all.  Here’s how to make delicious juices from windfalls, purchased boxes of fruit, and/or frozen fruit to keep all winter.  It’s ridiculously easy.

IMG_2735

Load up a large pot 2/3 full of fruit.  I sliced apples in half (I did not even bother to core them, I just made sure they didn’t have bugs in them!) and did one batch of just apple.  The second batch I threw in the contents of the partial bags of frozen fruit in the freezer.  Cranberries, raspberries, and a few strawberries joined the mix, adding their own festive color.  A couple of cinnamon sticks and a cup of brown sugar for fun went in as well.  Fill the pot to a few inches from the top with water and boil lightly for two hours.  Pour into clean quart jars, wipe the rims off, replace the lids and place in a large pot with water covering the jars.  Boil for 10 minutes.  Add 1 minute per 1000 feet above sea level.  I boiled for 17 minutes.

IMG_2736

Once the lids seal, mark them and place them in the pantry.  They are good for at least two years and you didn’t waste a single fruit!

On another note, we are busy packing and getting ready to move to our new homestead.  I had to share a few pictures Doug snapped of the moving box fun going on at our house.  There is either a baby or a cat or both in various boxes.  I guess they want to make sure we take them!

IMG_2739 IMG_2740

IMG_2746 IMG_2748

A Tour of Our Farm in Photos

The old garage and chicken coop have character.  The sunset that evening was spectacular. Can you see the ducks in front of the coop?

The old garage and chicken coop have character. The sunset that evening was spectacular. Can you see the ducks in front of the coop?

The inside of our beehive.  The ladies have been very busy and have six rows filled with beautiful wax.

The inside of our beehive. The ladies have been very busy and have six rows filled with beautiful honeycomb.

IMG_2407

Four of our eight cats, Louie, Booboo, Frankie, and Clara create a lovely pattern on the bedspread. They are our least productive farm workers.

Four of our eight cats, Louie, Booboo, Frankie, and Clara create a lovely pattern on the bedspread. They are our least productive farm workers.

Twila giving Isabelle ideas of things they probably oughtn't be doing.

Twila giving Isabelle ideas of things they probably oughtn’t be doing.

Farmgirl in training. Maryjane rides Isabelle in hopes of convincing Papa to get her a pony.

Farmgirl in training. Maryjane rides Isabelle in hopes of convincing Papa to get her a pony.

The littlest farmgirl helping water.

The littlest farmgirl helping water.

She uses a screw driver and makes sound effects like rushing water to pretend like she is watering plants.  She is so fun to watch!

Maryjane's first radish.

Maryjane’s first radish.

Come on over and visit!

Come on over and visit!

Looking out over the fairgrounds as we say goodnight to the farm animals.

Looking out over the fairgrounds as we say goodnight to the farm animals.

The Great Corn Experiment Results (and enemies of the root cellar)

Drum roll, please!  The results are in for the Great Corn Experiment! (click title to see original post)

SAM_0382

About a month after drying the corn, I pulled off the kernels with the side of a knife from one of the cobs and placed them in the air popper.  It took a long time but some of the kernels turned into tiny popcorn.  Most of the kernels had too much moisture content and after awhile I decided not to set the popcorn maker on fire.  The popcorn that did pop was nutty, satisfying, delicious.  I was excited to see what would happen when all the corn was sufficiently dried.

SAM_0379

I began to notice lines of corn kernels missing.  I was worried that the kernels were be so dry they are falling off the cob through the slats of the open container that held them and into the oblivion of the root cellar.  I moved the crate on top of the box of onions so that the kernels could fall into the box.

SAM_0380

Remember the cartoons where, I believe it was Mickey Mouse, would eat corn like a typewriter?  One row. Ding!  Next row.  Ding!  It looked like Mickey Mouse was in the root cellar.  I did not think that mice would eat such perfect rows before moving to the next row.  Then Eliza Doolittle caught a mouse.

This year the mouse population has exploded.  We have (surprisingly) not had many mice before now here.  First I noticed they had taken up residence in the garage and the chicken coop.  Then the front porch near the bird feeders.

At least one out of the eight cats considers herself a mouser.  Eliza is a beautiful lynx point Siamese, calico mix.  She is the youngest (5 years old) and quite lithe.  She went running by with a mouse and Shyanne hot on her heels.  It really doesn’t help me to have even one mouser when I have St. Francis living over here.  Shyanne rescued the mouse from Eliza’s grasp.  “It’s a baby!” she cooed.  She walked it around the house in her hands comforting and loving it.  Then put it outside.  Where I have no doubts it found it’s way back towards the root cellar!

SAM_0381

We didn’t see any mouse droppings so we brought the corn into the kitchen and decided last night test it out.  The mice had only eaten the heirloom sweet(ish) corn and had left the old varieties of Indian corn alone.  I used a lightly wet paper towel and wiped down one of the cobs and tried a knife to release the kernels.  They began to fly everywhere upon release.  Emily came and twisted one of the cobs.  Tons of beautiful multi-colored kernels showered down.  Then we smelled it.

If you have ever lived in a house that mice love, you will know just what I am talking about.  Mouse urine.  Pungent.  Doug couldn’t smell it.  But it was enough for Emily and I to abandon our project.  The chickens will love their new treat.

I know that the kernels would have made fulfilling, nutty morsels of popcorn and delicious hand ground cornmeal, but we will have to test this theory at the end of this year.

Let’s see $9 for the heirloom seeds.  Approximately four and a half months of daily watering, tending, weeding, and harvesting.  Shucking, drying, waiting.  All gone.

Being a farmer guarantees a certain amount of crop loss, however.  Sometimes while in storage!

Easy, Whimsical Christmas decorating

SAM_0126

Our favorite time of year is upon us.  Our family welcomes it with open arms and enjoys every minute of it.  Decorating and preparing a festive house is one of the joys of being a Farmgirl.

SAM_0121

When the kids were little, our house may have looked like the dollar store version of the North Pole blowing up.  We had every little tchotchke we could find with a Christmas motif, the walls covered in art projects from the children, faux greenery everywhere (not the pretty, expensive kind…more the spindly, cheap kind), and lights anywhere they would hang.  With Christmas music blaring all day, it was a respite from the outside world.  One that smelled like cookies and pine candles.

SAM_0122

Sometimes I wanted more grown up, sophisticated looking décor.  A couple with a large house hosted a party after the kids’ choir concert one year.  We oohed and ahhed as we entered the foyer to the house with huge vaulted ceilings, and an enormous faux tree.  I went and sat by the tree with my punch to admire the decorations.  The tree had been decorated by a professional, our host told me.  Each ornament was exactly alike and in perfect symmetry to the next.  There was one child’s ornament tucked out of sight in the back.  It was dreadful.  I appreciated our current decorating style a bit more.

SAM_0125

Our tree is covered in funky ornaments the children made over the years.  Doug and I purchase an ornament everywhere we travel.  Our tree is covered in memories of the Caribbean, Taos, and Glenwood Springs.  Each of us have ornaments with our names on them.  We have ornaments for the kitties that all passed away at the same time one year.  We have ornaments from friends.  I still have my ornaments from when I was a child.  When Doug and I were married, being Jewish, he obviously had never celebrated Christmas, never cast his eyes on a tall, lit tree with childlike wonder, never hung an ornament on the tree.  Never had an ornament!  I had to catch him up, so for several years he received an ornament.  He has plenty of his own now.  This year Maryjane received her first ornament to put on the tree.

IMG_1345

One good thing about closing our shop is that I now have two Christmas trees.  There are no laws saying you may only have one tree.  I wonder if I could fit a third…

SAM_0130

Most of the trinkets and small items were given away over the years.  The house resembles more Pottery Barn meets a farm then the blown up version of the North Pole.  But it still isn’t pristine or perfect (why is that cat on the table?).  We have baby items everywhere, last night’s coffee cups on the coffee table, and a few dishes undone.  A house should be livable, comfortable.  But, it is easy to create a beautiful landscape within your home with only a few touches.  Beautiful garlands laid over antiques, the television armoire, the bookcase, makes furniture instantly festive while keeping a stylish appearance.  Place a wreath in the center of the table and put a candle in the middle.  Red or white candles scattered around the house create the perfect ambience to counteract the earlier dusk outdoors.

SAM_0127

A wreath on the door to greet visitors is a must!  The one thing you can do to create holiday cheer.

SAM_0129

A holiday collection is fun to behold and bring out around the holidays.  A grouping of old Santas, or sleighs, or even photographs are fun to look at.  I always wanted to collect these Christmas houses, but they are a bit pricey.  Once Doug and I figured out that if we had collected even one a year, we would have had a nice display by now, so we began purchasing one a year.  Our piano is now full and overflowing onto other pieces, so we didn’t get one this year.  Our tiny village is complete for now.

SAM_0133

Little woodland creatures peek around greenery.  Owls, and reindeer, polar bears, and squirrels quietly make known their presence.

SAM_0131

A bit of whimsy is always in order and our collection of wooden animals don their best during this season.  This is Juniper.  My first bear that Doug gave me for Christmas many years ago.

SAM_0128

A Nativity scene is fun for the kids to rearrange (ours is a bear nativity), a countdown calendar to know when Santa is coming, and pine candles complete the festive air.  Even though the kids are older, they still love the season, and I intend for Grammie and Papa’s house to always be a stress free and magical place to visit.

hat

Other ideas:

Poinsettias or amaryllises (my poinsettia lives year round in the south facing kitchen window)

Decorate a tree in the yard with inexpensive ornaments

Keep cookies in the cookie jar

Christmas inspired throw pillows and finger tip towels

Wrap a fake present or just put a real present on bedside table or coffee table

As always, lots of candles and oil lamps!