The Easiest Easter Eggs Ever

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I wrote about how to make the perfect hard boiled eggs a year ago around Easter and Passover but it deserves a second writing for all you new folks because this is the very, very best way to make hard boiled eggs!  One could use a super fresh egg straight from the coop or one that has been in the fridge for three weeks, it doesn’t matter.  It doesn’t matter that we live so ridiculously high above sea level.  The egg peels perfectly, every single time.  Of course, we aren’t boiling them at all.

I learned this trick in one of those hard core homesteading magazines that are so full of beautiful glints of information.  Place eggs in a steamer basket above boiling water, put the lid on and let the water boil under those delicious farm eggs for 35 minutes.  Remove from heat, let cool a smidge so you can handle them and then put them in the fridge.

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Maryjane Rose will be at her dad’s Sunday and the Easter Bunny will be hopping by his house but tonight is Grammie and Papa’s night!  There is a charming Easter basket above the fridge (hiding from the cats) with a monkey, some chocolate, and Easter bunny ears.  I am steaming eggs this morning and we will play with color tonight in her first Easter egg dying extravaganza and we are going to pay a visit to the Bunny himself.  I will share a picture with y’all when I get it.

I hope some of my tips make your farm (or city) life a bit easier.  Wishing you a very happy Easter!

Smudging 101, Deer Visitors, and the 10%

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There is a Talking Circle at my shop the first Sunday of each month.  Not really church, just a place to be with others and pray traditionally with Native influences and customs.  This last Sunday we talked about focusing our energies on the 10%.  90% of what we worry about is what the media tells us about, world issues, family issues, and many, many things that we have absolutely no control over.  As we focus more and more on the 90% we lose track of the 10% of things we can control and our gifts that we carry that can assist in this world.  Focusing on the 90% leads to anxiety and depression and helplessness.

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Last night I felt an overwhelming sense of desperation and helplessness.  How can we possibly afford anything in the state that has the newly highest cost of living?  How can we survive?  How can we stay near our babies if we had to move?  and on and on with scenarios that may or may not exist.  I went to sleep early as slumber will renew me and oft give me answers.  I woke up renewed.

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Within the realms of the 10% I can choose my back up plan in case we cannot get the large farm.  I could very well be an urban homesteader while making a difference in a career.  The career that I would be best in (in my opinion) is teaching young adults.  So, I relooked at my curriculum choices for school with a renewed sense of purpose.  I will let things unfold naturally, while saving money, since I cannot see the future.  No matter how hard I try.  Meanwhile I call on strength from the Great Spirit and the Directions.  This is how to smudge (prayers and blessing).

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Traditionally Cherokee prayer herbs would consist of Sweet grass to renew positive energy, Sage to rid negative energy, Tobacco as an offering to the Great Spirit, and Cedar as an offering to the spirits; animal, plant, and the deceased.  In a pottery bowl (heat proof) place the herbs desired and light.  Using a feather to spread the smoke around a room, over thyself, or in the Four Directions.  Any feather will do.

We call on the spirit of the East direction for strength and hope and faith.  We give thanks to the Creator for all the things in our lives and our own life.  We thank Grandfather Sun for rising each morning and providing warmth and light. 

We call on the spirit of the South for childlike wonder and awe, for lessons, and we thank our four legged brethren for providing us with companionship, food, and clothing, and to the plants for giving of themselves for food and medicine.

We call on the spirit of the West for strength, health, and endurance.  We give thanks to our ancestors for guiding us and praying for us.

We call on the spirit of the North for calm and wisdom.  We thank the north for rain and snow, for lessons learned, and for peace and breath.

We call on the spirit of the sky (galun’lati), to the star people and Grandmother moon for protection and inspiration.

We call on the spirit of the Mother Earth (alohi)for caring for us, for her life, therefore our life as we pledge to be more careful with her.

We are thankful for the ceremonial fire as our prayers are taken upward on the smoke and carried on the winged ones’ feathers and for our connection with all around us. 

We draw the smoke over ourselves that we will have a clear heart, a love for all, and will do things in the right way. 

And as my breath and peace came forth, the beautiful deer (ahwi) came to see me.

Wishing you peace and less worries….ehmenah.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Journey of Color and Life

Can I be everything?  Can I recognize the ribbons of similarity running through each divine celebration and realize they are all intertwined and so similar that our entire life is a joyous journey overlooked by the Divine?  Can I be Amish and Catholic and Jewish and Messianic and Methodist?  Can I be Buddhist and Hindu and Wiccan and myself?  Can I celebrate Hanukkah, and Beltane, and Christmas too?

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Love God, Love ourselves.  Are those not our only commandments?  Those can certainly be taken from meditation to maypole.  Those that use their books of designated scripture to pick out what they wish and translate it how they wish, to feel pity on others and make themselves feel better are sadly stuck in chains.  That the One created all people and traditions and colors and life is bigger than we can fathom.  I breathe in the excitement of all this.

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I love all people to a point of heartbreak sometimes.  I love to read about different cultures, different foods, different religious celebrations, different lives, and the knowledge that our lives are all simply intertwined in much bigger forces makes us all one enormous family.

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Just as I am Irish, English, Scottish, Dutch, Cherokee, German, Black French, and who knows what else, I am every religion too as I embrace the ways the world celebrates.  I have had amazing physical healings, have seen miracles beyond description, and my faith is deeply rooted.  I am as comfortable in an American Indian ceremony as I am going to confession as I am remembering my loved ones at Samhain.  So many beautiful traditions and ways to worship.  The world is not black and white but rather grey.  No, not even grey, but a kaleidoscope of color.  Celebrate.

Samhain (remembering and new traditions)

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I am intrigued by history.  Fascinated by it.  I learn from it and am entertained by it and live by it.  So many modernized things were not for the best, in my humble opinion.  Of course with my long flowing skirts and aprons I, myself, look as if I skipped out of another time period.  There is so much to be learned from the history of our people and so many lovely things that if added to our life would make it all the more sweet, meaningful, magical.  Samhain is one of them.

Now I do not consider myself wiccan or pagan.  If I were to put my spirituality in a box, I am Catholic.  A Catholic married to a Jew.  We raised our children in a Christian church and they are now oddly Atheist.  One of my best friends is Catholic married to a Buddhist who used to be, along with his parents (also our dear friends) Mormon.  Our family and friends are all different races and religions and in the end we are all connected to one source.  I am fascinated by the similarities in religions and histories across the world.

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If you are like me and had most of your family come over to America in the 1700’s you will find that you are missing customs that would have been brought over.  I am a bit saddened that we have zero cultural ties left.  Most of my DNA will lead back to a strong Celtic heritage mixed in with some Dutch, Yeopim and Cherokee Indian, and Black French, but what they used to celebrate has been lost.  So we create our own customs.

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Samhain (pronounced Saw-win) dates back long before the Christian festivities (and the Hollywood made festivities too) and was an agrarian holiday.  Now that we are homesteaders we understand these holidays so much more.  Homesteading has become our lifestyle, our day in day out, our entire life is marked by nature and the seasonal shifts all around us.  Instead of a smart phone, the changes in the natural world around us make our schedules.

Samhain is the end of the calendar season.  The beginning of rest.  The livestock were humanely butchered, the pantries were full, the fields were empty and the weather kept farmers indoors more.  The folks that died over the past year were now mourned.  Agrarians kept so busy during the late spring and summer that once things slowed down things really started to sink in.  That is the case with us as well.  And if we were all honest it is not just losing folks to death that bothers us, it’s any regrets we feel too.  My friends and animals are in a better place, I know this.  I am heading their same direction.  It is the natural cycle of things.  Not a new phenomenon for things to die.  But I feel bad that I didn’t return Rollie’s phone call.  That I nitpicked everything with Nancy so much during our time together pursuing our Farmgirl business, that we didn’t achieve her dream of a large farm to table dinner, partially because of my attitude.  I feel bad that there are two more young widows out there who lost husbands.  That I didn’t hold Loretta when she was dying.  That I was so frustrated with my old dog.  That I chose to put to sleep (so feel as if I murdered) my beloved cat.  These things start to settle in as I spend more time on the homestead with less to do.  If I knew they were going to die….or that I was responsible….these things set heavy on the soul.

Samhain was a time to light the bonfires as protection from evil spirits, the veil was thin between October 31st and November 1st and you could talk to your lost loved ones and perhaps they could communicate with you as well.  It was a time of contemplation and respect.

In our modern world we do not take time to contemplate anything.  The crafts and chores that were done that created a methodic rhythm have been replaced with fast shortcuts, things that do it for us, and no time to actually think.  If we could take some time to work out our sorrows and talk to those that left, we could free up our hearts and minds and allow more joyful living to take place.

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I will spend Halloween day with Emily and Maryjane trick-or-treating at a local mall then in the evening I will light candles.  I will commemorate and talk to and say goodbye to those I have lost.  My animals are our roommates, farm mates here.  They are my people.  Their loss, even the farm animals, is just as sorrowful to me as losing an old friend.  They are included in my festivities.  I will set some extra plates and invite them all to dinner along with Doug (who is thankfully still with the living) and give thanks for my life and ask that my friends and animals that left say a prayer for me, forgive me, and that they be at peace.  I will be thankful for the harvest, all those still here, my own life, and for the year ahead.

Who will you light a candle for?

My friend, Nancy, my partner in crime in many of these blog posts, passed away suddenly from cancer.

My friend, Nancy, my partner in crime in many of these blog posts, passed away suddenly from cancer.

Our fun friend, Ken, died way too young of cancer.

Our fun friend, Ken, died way too young of cancer.

A friend from middle school high school, Rob, died in a car accident.

A friend from middle school and high school, Rob, died in a car accident.

Our friend, Rollie, who lost his battle to cancer.

Our friend, Rollie, who lost his battle to cancer.

 

Our sweet goat, Loretta, and baby.

Our sweet goat, Loretta, and baby.

My favorite chicken who used to like to sit on my lap, Shirley, along with Ethel and Mahalia and their crazy antics are missed.

My favorite chicken that used to like to sit on my lap, Shirley, along with Ethel and Mahalia and their crazy antics are missed.

My sweet cat, Snuggles, who I will forever miss.

My sweet cat, Snuggles, who I will forever miss.

Windsor, our eighteen year old loyal farm dog.

Windsor, our eighteen year old loyal farm dog.

 

The Twelve Days of Christmas (new traditions)

We always had the advent calendar that was made of cardboard and had little cutouts with chocolates of undetermined age within.  Growing up my sister and brother and I would take turns opening a day until the most anticipated day of the year arrived, Christmas!

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Our children did the same for many years.  A few years ago, leery of the chocolate contents, I decided to make a different advent calendar.  I went to the dollar store and picked up twenty four tiny stockings and some contents.  Calculating which teenager would open the stocking each day I put a small gift in each.  Most of the items were from the dollar store or a piece of candy.  Ear phones, eye lash curler, nail polish, batteries…a little goodie to look forward to.

Last year there wasn’t much sign of any of the kids so Doug and I started a new tradition.  I am not sure how it started, but we began the twelve days of Christmas.  Taking turns, we gave each other a small gift each day until Christmas.  A back massage, a small kitchen gadget, some warm socks, a special meal….just little actions or trinkets that made the season more fun.

This year we are doing something a little different, putting the gifts into song.  So, on Christmas eve we will have a completed version of the 12 Days of Christmas.

So far we have:

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a watch that belonged to me. (I put a new battery in his watch)  On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to meeeee a handheld mandolin slicer, and a watch that belonged to me. (I could never figure out the large contraption he gave me one year.  I needed a hand held one.)

Let’s skip ahead, shall we?  Today I shall sing him the fifth gift.  Our little coffee shop sold and the new owners no longer wanted to sell booze or host karaoke.  We enjoy singing at Rodney’s every third week.  He has a fantastic set up.  And Maryjane can come and she does love to sing and dance along.  It really is the cutest thing you will ever see.  But Doug mentioned missing a bar type atmosphere of singing.  I, friends, can do without waiting until 9:30 at night to sing my first song when I should be in bed with a cup of tea and a magazine.  Staying up until normally unseen hours is also not on my radar.  But, tonight, unbeknownst to him yet, I will trade tea for beer and go wail a few songs at a bar forty five minutes away on a weeknight because this will make my hubby very happy.

So, On the fifth day of Christmas my true love (better believe it!) gave to meeee…..Fiiivvvee karaoke soooongs…..

a pair of internet moccasins, a nice western shirt, a handheld mandolin slicer, and a watch that belonged toooo meeee.

I am also reposting the 12 Days of Christmas song I wrote last year as it begs to be sung again this year.  So, folks, sing it loud….

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On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me….a cat in a tree.

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me…2 murdered ornaments and a cat in a tree.

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me…3 hopeful children, 2 murdered ornaments, and a cat in a tree.

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…4 cups of coffee, 3 hopeful children, 2 murdered ornaments, and a cat in a tree.

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…fiiivvvee (sing it now) Christmas Chickens (not to eat)….4 cups of coffee, 3 hopeful children, 2 murdered ornaments, and a cat in a tree.

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…6 friends a comin’, fiiivvvee Christmas chickens (not to eat), 4 cups of coffee, 3 hopeful children, 2 murdered ornaments (may they rest in peace), and a cat in a tree.

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me…7 Christmas cards, 6 friends a comin’, 5 Christmas chickens, 4 cups of coffee, 3 hopeful children, 2 murdered ornaments…and a caaaatt in the tree.

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…8 sugar cookes, 7 Christmas cards, 6 friends a comin’, fiiivvvee Christmas chickens (not to eat), 4 cups of coffee, 3 hopeful children, 2 murdered ornaments, and a cat in a tree.

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On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…9 Victorian houses, 8 sugar cookies, 7 Christmas cards, 6 friends a comin’, 5 Christmas chickens, 4 cups of coffee, 3 hopeful children, 2 murdered ornaments, and a cat in a tree.

(Stay with me now!) On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me….Ten violin songs, 9 Victorian houses, 8 sugar cookies, 7 Christmas cards, 6 friends a comin’, 5 Christmas chickens, 4 cups of coffee, 3 hopeful children, 2 murdered ornaments, and a cat in a tree.

On the eleventh day of Christmas (we’re almost there) my true love gave to me…11 sets of light, 10 violin songs, 9 Victorian houses, 8 sugar cookies, 7 Christmas cards, 6 friends a comin’, 5 Christmas chickens, 4 cups of coffee, 3 hopeful children, 2 murdered ornaments, and a cat in a tree.

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(Now draw this out and pause for dramatic purposes, Santa is coming soon!) On the twelfth day of Christmas….my true love gave to me…(now kind of fast here) 12 wrapped presents, 11 sets of lights, 10 violin songs, 9 Victorian houses, 8 sugar cookies, 7 Christmas cards, 6 friends a comin’ (are they coming already?!), ffffiiiiivvvveeee Christmas chiiickeeens….badambompbomp..4 cups of coffee (more please), 3 hopeful children (hope they don’t get coal), 2 murdered ornaments, and aaaaaaa cat in a tree (jazz hands).

Merry Christmas!  May your days be filled with fun and laughter and cats in trees.

Thanksgiving Traditions (and the search for a casserole)

Every year, for many years, our Thanksgiving morning looks the same.  Mama is up first making cinnamon rolls and coffee.  I then turn on the parade and one by one the sleepy house awakes.  Sitting in bathrobes and slippers we enjoy the sweet pastries and dark coffee and enjoy the floats, wave at the balloons on the screen, and anticipate the feast now wafting through the house.

Maryjane's hand print

Maryjane’s hand print

I always make the same meal served just after noon.  A traditional Thanksgiving feast with the mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes and marshmallows, stuffing, green bean casserole, rolls, cranberry sauce, and Tofurky.  We eat at noon and then head to a Christmas movie to start off our season.  An apple pie, pumpkin pie and eggnog greet us when we arrive back home after the film.

Thankful for Bret, Emily, and Maryjane

Thankful for Bret, Emily, and Maryjane

That night we go to the shop and decorate it so that Friday morning we open with bright and shiny window displays, an enchanted store filled with great sales.  The next day the tree comes up, the children put their ornaments on, and we create a winter wonderland throughout the house.

Thankful for Andrew and Megan

Thankful for Andrew and Megan

Traditions ground us.  They give us comfort and something to be excited for, something to count on.  But life changes, sometimes drastically, and part of life is going with the flow, making changes when necessary or deemed proper, and perhaps new traditions will unfold even more fun than the prior.

Thankful for Shyanne

Thankful for Shyanne

This year Andrew will be going to his girlfriend, Megan’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, Emily to Bret’s mom’s, and Shyanne, newly broken up, doesn’t know where she is going.  So, for us, I needed to accommodate rather than demand that they all be at my house.  So, I am doing Thanksgiving breakfast.  Then we can all go our own ways, Doug and I attending the movie by ourselves this year.  No shop to decorate.  The trees will go up before Thanksgiving and while I have everyone in the house at the same time Thanksgiving morning I will have them put their decorations on the tree.  Doug and I will decorate the house ourselves the rest of the weekend.  We were invited to go to Bret’s mom’s house for Thanksgiving dinner.  New traditions will unfold this year, hopefully bringing blessings and good memories.

Thankful for Doug

Thankful for Doug

Now, question to all of you out there.  I need a fool proof, easy, delicious, breakfast casserole to make Thanksgiving morning.  Somehow, I have none in my artillery.  So, kindly sound off and share your Thanksgiving traditions as well as your favorite breakfast casserole.

Thankful for Maryjane

Thankful for Maryjane

Thankfully yours, Katie

Spookable Halloween Dinner

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When I was growing up, my mother loved holidays.  We never had a shortage of construction paper wall décor we kids made for each holiday.  Halloween was filled with door to door trick or treating, and candy I would harbor until Easter. (I always was kind of prepper…)  Handmade costumes, and cardboard decorations made the season fun. We really didn’t have a lot money, ever, when I was growing up.  I can see that now.  Perhaps it was for financial reasons, or perhaps it was for ease, but we only carved one pumpkin.  Each year I would draw out one part, like the eyes, my sister,  Heidi, would choose perhaps the nose, and my brother, Joel, would choose the mouth.  My dad would deftly create our masterpiece.  (Maybe my mom didn’t want us playing with knives…never thought of that.)

When my children were little, we had the construction paper decorations, the dollar store cardboard cutouts, the spooky music and fun.  Another thing I kept in our traditional repertoire was Jack O’ Lantern Hamburgers.  Every Halloween before making our way out the door for tricks and treats, my mom served hamburgers with the cheese melted on in the shape of a jack ‘o lantern.  It was so much fun to see which monster we got!

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I put them on veggie burgers each year before the kids set out.  I took it a step further to create vampires, scarecrows, Frankensteins, werewolves, as well as pumpkin faces.

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Just use the tip of a knife to cut out the shapes from a slice of American cheese.  Place the cheese on whatever you are cooking (egg sandwiches shown in the picture) during the last few minutes of cooking.

Very spooky!  Deliciously scary!  Happy Haunting!