Homestead Scents and Jasmine Plants

The smells of a homestead.  The damp soil after watering, the plants pushing through the soil.  Upon opening the front door, the first smell is probably that of cat litter, I am afraid, but cats make a homestead a home.  Baking bread lingers with fresh coffee.  A big pot of broth bubbles away.  The dog walks by with hints of eau d’skunk.  His new fragrance since the incident.  In the back yard the calming scents of pine shavings, compost, and chicken poop fill the air.  It’s not for everyone, but I like it.

There are too many cats here to be lighting a ton of candles and too many migraines to let the smelly ones burn.  I have many, many house plants.  Pathos, and geraniums, mass cane, and bamboo.  Aloes, poinsettia, succulents, and even ginger.  Those are all lovely in their own right.  But when I walk into my bedroom, a certain smell permeates just so.

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Jasmine.  The jasmine plant yawns and stretches across the curtain rod and swings carelessly in front of the window.  All the while releasing tiny bursts of romance and sweet scent.  The jasmine can be used as a delicious tea by snipping off every third new leaf if desired.  Dry in a paper bag.  The jasmine flowers are most prized for tea but it seems a shame to clip them because they are so beautifully fragrant and lovely.  It is a nice change from the usual scents of a farm.

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Jasmine house plants are available widely online.  They love light and a deep drink every seven days or so.  They love to climb, so a hanging pot or a small trellis is great.

I sit up in bed and pull the quilts around me.  I put my reading glasses on and open a great book and reach for my cup of steaming tea.  Surrounded by jasmine, I take a deep breath.  That is how my nights begin.

Geraniums Mean Home. Geraniums Mean Love.

JpegThe memory of walking up the steps to my great-grandmother’s bungalow as a young girl is still vivid to me now.  Every summer the wide, cement porch railing would be filled with geraniums.  The lush greenery topped with clusters of brightly colored flowers waved in the warm air.  Geraniums mean welcome to me.

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I have a dream of going to Italy.  One day.  One day.  In all of the pictures I see of Italy, there they are.  The trailing, fiery red blooms hugging ancient stones and leading the way to the cucina door.  Geraniums.  Geraniums mean home to me.

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I gathered them at the farmer’s market years ago.  These are maybe five years old.  They have grown and become enormous specimens.  They have followed us on our adventures and hog the south window.  They wait for late spring like I do to be set back out on the porch.  Geraniums mean sit a spell and relax to me.

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Today is our wedding anniversary.  I heard him sneak out of the house at 4:00 am.  Past the geraniums that were still asleep, but I was not.  He drove all over town looking for a place that was open so he could bring me flowers before heading to work at five.  He says I have made this house a home.  Our forever home. I have filled it with flowers and unusual plants.  Poinsettias bloom red in the windows.  Towering aloes and tiny bamboo.  I want to make this house a home to him because he has made it home for me.

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As he approaches the door after a day of work and passes the pots of geraniums I hope they speak of home.  When guests arrive and marvel at their display of bright pinks and romantic reds, I hope they feel welcome.  One day we will travel to Italy and see the geraniums and think of ours at home.  We shall sit on the porch and count our blessings, sweet tea in hand, and watch as the geraniums reach for the sun and glimmer in the summer day.  And when I am passed, I hope the sight of geraniums reminds my grandchildren of climbing the steps to a place they were loved.  Geraniums mean love.

 

One’s Daily Tea

JpegCould a simple cup of tea help you keep your New Year’s Resolutions?  Can a simple cup of tea act as medicine?

I drink four cups of tea with herbs in it daily.  Each batch is slightly different.  I will make a month’s worth of tea at a time.  This month’s tea is made up of many herbs that help with the lymphatic system, essentially boosting immunity since I work in a busy apothecary with lots of folks with colds!  I also added plenty of herbs for circulatory and heart health.  A bit of wild yam for progesterone.  And some chai tea to make it all taste amazing (which is also for the circulatory system).

I love this thermos I got from Teavana.  It has the tea strainer built into the top.  I can also easily add ginger, or orange, and honey to my mixture.  I drink more fluids if I have it with me.  Here are some additions to your daily tea, green or black, that will help you achieve your physical goals.

If you want to increase focus and memory so you can get organized– Add 1 part rosemary and/or sage to 3 parts loose black or green tea.

If you want to lose weight– Dry your citrus peels in a paper bag for three weeks then store in a sealed container or freezer bag. Or just purchase dried orange peel.  1 part citrus peels to 3 parts green tea with a little cinnamon added will help metabolism and detoxing.

If you want to help your heart and circulatory system be stronger– Add 1/2 part each; ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cardamom to 3 parts black tea like earl grey or even chai.

To decrease inflammation and boost immunity- Add one part basil to 1/4 part turmeric and 1/8 part pepper to green tea.

If you want to find more inner peace and calm– Combine 1 part each chamomile and lemon balm with 1/2 part roses and lavender with 3 parts Earl Grey.  Delightful.

Simple kitchen herbs and teas can be powerful, safe, and delicious medicine!

 

After the Rain

 

free-after-rain-wallpaper-1An early summer rain fell in nourishing streams all night.

Sweet smelling morning, the sunshine struggles to come on bright.

Listless sleeping clouds shift and moan in their heavy weight.

They’ll be moving out at their slow encompassing rate.

Birds are already singing their tunes of glory be,

as they flit around and praise summer from tree to tree.

Garden crops will come alive with water in their little feet,

and flowers tumble forward greeting each bumble bee they meet.

A hummingbird comes to my window buzzing in the air.

I do believe this summertime will be so ever fair.

(It has been a year since we learned that a rented farm would again be the end of our plans.  This time we would lose almost everything and would embark on quite a journey.  We made it through one of the hardest times in our lives and came out still together and happy, dreaming of our own farm this time, and embracing a summer of new memories.  Happy Summer, y’all, thanks for supporting us this last year and for following along!-Katie)

Featherheart Finds Medicine

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In Liz Gilbert’s book, Big Magic, she refers to ideas as actual entities of their own and goes on to explain the real magic in that.  One poet talked about when an idea started coming she would run like heck to the kitchen to get paper and pen, sometimes even writing the poem backwards and capturing it “by the tail”.  I know this feeling.  And sitting in a classroom at an old hotel on the top of a mountain in Cloudcroft, New Mexico listening to a lecture on herbs, I found myself grabbing my notebook and not hearing another word from the class.  I wrote a children’s book with feverish intensity.  I needed very little editing and when I got home my daughter, Emily, agreed to do water color paintings for the book.

What resulted was a beautiful children’s book that leads the child on an adventure with Featherheart to her Grammie’s house.  As she and her Grammie head out into the morning with their baskets they meet plants (and learn their identification and properties) and birds and other creatures.  The book whimsically teaches while entertaining and the adult reading will learn as well.

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The book is printed in a sturdy calendar format with big pictures and easy print.  I hope you will let me share with you my work.  For blog readers it is only $10.  Call to order 303-617-3370 or email Katie@pumpkinhollowfarm.net.  And as always, thank you so much for reading.

My Favorite Easy To Grow Flowers

When approaching Great Grandma’s house after school, the riotous red geraniums greeted me first.  Their clusters of happy petals waving softly in the breeze.  Geraniums equaled Great Grandma’s house.  Geraniums are synonymous with large glasses of iced tea and hours of playing rummy.

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In my books about the Italian countryside the open windows of the stucco houses are always decorated with pots of colorful geraniums.  Faces to sun, waving their arms in the air, welcoming folks home.

Geraniums are annuals, so every year I left them in their pots on the porch, and they died over the winter.  I read about rooting pieces of the plant, or storing the plant.  As a mom of young children, anything extra that had to be done with plants was not going to happen.  Most fell under canopies of snow.

Three years ago at the farmer’s market I purchased two pots of geraniums.  They graced the steps of the porch and gave an air of summer.  At the end of the season, I moved them indoors and placed them on the dining room table facing the south winter sun.  They flourished.  In the spring, I repotted them, moved to a new home, and put them on the porch again.  They had doubled their size.  They were fabulous.

I brought them in again and they doubled their size again while spending their winter vacation indoors in the south and west windows.

I use an organic fertilizer (Old Age Grow) maybe four times a year.  I cut off wild and crazy stems that threaten to smack bystanders.  I attempt to keep them tame.  Give them a larger pot.  The leaves start to brown near the bottom of the plant and the edges turn a bit by the time it is warm enough to put them back on the porch.  Currently they are being nibbled by an adorable infant goat.

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Some years back I was a caregiver for a gentleman named Al.  He had fabulous stories of his time as a scientist during the war.  He was kind and a gentleman.  He enjoyed sitting on the balcony of his apartment.  On it sat a pot of petunias that were under a bit of distress.  I watered them and dead headed the passed flower heads.  He called me the next day astounded.  The whole plant had come back to life and fresh blossoms danced on his balcony.  Petunias are very easy to grow.

My petunias are in their third year.  A discounted six pack of flowers for ninety-nine cents from Walmart at the end of the season.  I thought they would be pretty in the pots of herbs that I transplanted and brought into the house for winter.  I certainly did not expect them to live this long!  Water, occasional organic fertilizer, and dead heading, plus a lovely south window will keep flowers indefinitely blooming.  They move to the porch in the summer, into the window in winter, and thrive.

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Great Grandma and my grandparents used to live next door to each other.  Their back yards were filled with rose bushes taller than I.  Thick with aromatic roses of all colors, their yards were enchanting and definitely a special place.  I tried for years in vain to grow roses, each and every one died.  I figured the women in my family had special gardening powers and I should just give up.  I overheard a woman talking to another and said very sweetly, “It is a pleasure to grow roses in Colorado.”  You will not hear that too often about any other crop.  Colorado is a constant learning experience and challenge.

My only exception had been a small potted mini rose plant that Doug had bought me from the grocery store.  I planted it outside and years later it was three feet high!  It is an inexpensive way to grow roses.  Just get a pot from the store, enjoy it indoors, and then transplant it.

We have very hot summers here so I found that roses are happier on the west side of the house or the east side of the house where they can get a slight reprieve from the sun.

Dig a hole a foot deep and fill with water.  When the water has dissipated, add the rose bush.  Cover with soil and slightly tamp it down.  A little coffee and water helps get it started.  Dead head rose heads (we use the roses in medicine) for possible new growth.  Leave the heads in the fall so that rose hips form.  These are used for arthritis treatment.

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Of course, tulips and daffodils are always welcome after a long, cold winter.  Deer adore tulips, nearly as much as I do, and will eat them promptly, but daffodils are poisonous so wildlife leaves them alone.  Fabulous.  I even forced them inside this year.  Not as stunning as their outdoor explosions, but a lovely moment in February.

Growing flowers is a lovely way to incorporate aromatherapy and beauty into one’s every day life.

Taking a Day of Rest

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Time to stop and smell the flowers.  Doug snapped these beautiful photos yesterday.  Beautiful evening.

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In our hectic society we are taught to go, go, go!  The more one can get done, the better.

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But the whole reason behind taking a day of rest is to recuperate so that we are more efficient and healthier during the week.  Taking a break and a day off should be as simple as breathing.  We only get to live a few minutes in the whole scheme of things…

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A day of rest doesn’t have to be on Saturday or Sunday….one doesn’t have to go to church to make it a day of rest (God is everywhere.)….

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We just need to take deep breaths, enjoy food and drink and friends, and look around at the astounding beauty of nature and all the gifts and blessings and simple pleasures that encompass us, surround us with joy.

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Maryjane’s first swimming day was yesterday at my grandma and grandpa’s house (her great, great grandparents’ house!) and we intend to take Mondays off every week.  Between the shop being open during the week and four farmer’s markets a week, plus keeping up around here, we would be wise not to get burnt out before July!  So every Monday we will alternate between Grandma’s pool and Doug’s parents’ pool.  Every week we go see Grandmas and Papas.  Sun, rest, fun.  A day of rest for everyone! What will you do on your day of rest?

A Poem to Beckon Spring

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Three more days of snow predicted.  The wind is howling.  I am in limbo.  Can’t use my new washer because nothing is staying on the clothes line!  Don’t want to chase any more underwear around the yard.  Can’t go planting.  The seeds will blow away.  Can’t let the baby chickies out.  They will freeze their bloomers off!  So, I wrote a little love poem.

Wherefore out thou?

I do search for your lovely face in undressed trees.

I seek out your presence in the dirt, on my knees.

I think I hear you on the waves of sweet birdsong.

I then promise myself it shan’t be too long!

Again I am tricked and so think that you are near,

Run out to see spring flowers that are not yet here.

I am certain you should be at my front screen door

but alas the cold snow comes knocking once more.

My love, come with tulip bouquets and carefree smiles,

with fresh, green grass running for miles.

Oh, Winter Everlasting, please do go.

(We do appreciate your water though.)

We just need sun kisses, rays of delight, warm air, intoxicating scents of lilacs wafting here and there.

Of crabapple flowers dancing on the light breeze, and rain instead of a deep freeze.

All your rainbow color, we shall invite and welcome in.  Spring, you are like our long lost friend.

Spring Decor Farmgirl Style

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We love each season and each of their gifts.  Renewal, Sunshine, Harvest, Rest.  Each season in our house looks differently.  To switch from winter to spring a house needs but a few touches.  Trade heavy blankets and pillows for lighter ones on furniture.  A bold Indian blanket was replaced with Kat’s grandma’s beautiful quilt.  Still nice to curl up with during movies but cheery enough to emote spring.  The pillow was a Pottery Barn Christmas pillow.  Adorable.  Perhaps time to cover the Christmas stockings on it though!  A vintage pillow case does the trick.  Stacks of gardening books surround the chairs.

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A simple pair of humble galoshes can whisper springtime is approaching!  They are good for trekking through the snow to the chicken coop or standing in the garden.  I like them by the door.  An invitation for springtime to come on in! (And springtime mud indeed will.)

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Look closely at this picture!  It is easy to be distracted by the seventeen year old “farm dog” there guarding the rug.  Look at the tablecloth.  For ten dollars I was able to get two yards of vinyl for our six foot table at the craft store.  It lasts a whole lot longer than the cheap plastic tablecloths at Walmart, standing up to cat scratches, stains, and daily wear and tear.  It just washes off.  I have a vintage New Mexican tablecloth underneath it to keep it protected.  There are lady bugs all over the vinyl tablecloth creating a look of picnicking on the dining room table.  Lady bugs and bees welcome spring.

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Lanterns and warmer weather decor is replaced with bird cages and flowers.  I bought this bird cage at a thrift store for next to nothing to house vases of spring flowers (which I am yet to get) to protect them from nibbling kitties.  Pots of daffodils look great tucked inside as would a bird’s nest or Easter eggs.

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The indoor garden is still brightening the window sill to the south.  The petunias simply love it.  A package of petunias can be arranged in pots and placed throughout the house in sunny locations.  They are so easy to grow.  They love sun, water every three days, and dead head the plant so the blooms keep coming back to show off.

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This lovely peasant dress arrived in the mail early yesterday.  Something sassy to wear to Santa Fe next week (along with her four sisters I may have purchased in a spring fever frenzy.  Beautiful.  Where creamy whites and piney greens are show stoppers in winter, nothing beats bright colors to infuse the spirit in time for spring.

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Mine aren’t quite this glorious yet, my daffodils are merely peeking their arms up out of the soil, but I do hope you planted bulbs last fall!  Nothing sings spring like birds raucous and loud outside the window and fields of daffodils and tulips.

So, out with knits and winter reminiscences, and in with bright, happy decorations, clothing, and flowers.  Welcome Spring!