Friday, December 2, 2016


The company my husband worked for closed for good this fall. We had planned for a winter without regular work anyway, and now that it's here - with no certain starting date for a regular income in view, we're beginning a new aspect of our homesteading life. Ideally, I would love to avoid the regular work-life for our family in the future. To continue a simpler, more intimate domestic monastery..with my husband painting and drawing, selling his work, and occasionally doing side work building chimneys or painting houses for our neighbors and friends.

But that sort of life takes something I don't have a lot of yet: self-discipline and a love of simplicity. I struggle with those. I still have the suburban-ever-present desire for more, and training myself to want less, to reveal in true simplicity, and not merely the trappings of simplicity is hard. 

I'm working hard to build that inner richness this Advent. My husband is working hard to create beautiful pieces of art and then find homes for them in ways that support our family finances as well. I love watching him work at this! I love seeing the lovely images in his mind take shape on wood and paper. I love having him home, giving him the chance to participate more in schooling Yarrow and shaping our days. And I'm learning to say no to myself. To purge out the unloved things without replacing them. To love discipline, consistency, and not run always toward the new and shiny things of the world. 

It's hard, but the payoff is amazing! A husband who can be home more, creating more, living more. And a healthier soul for me as well. I'm still a novice regarding simplicity. But I do think I'm learning and growing stronger each day. And if you want to help my learning curve at husband's Esty shop is Paperwine Industries

Thursday, December 1, 2016


Dying leaves and new beginnings. 

I love Advent. I love new years, new months, new weeks, and new mornings all fresh and bright. But in Advent our mornings are dark - the sun rises late and sets early. Already the sky is streaked with purple.

This autumn has been a time of deep reflection for me, despite my lazy attempts to distract myself with social media and creamy lattes. The trends toward discordance in the world around me are draining and overwhelming..I can feel it influencing my mind and my heart. I see it creeping into my relationships with my children even - I'm less patient with them, my thoughts are elsewhere. 

The day after voting for an acceptable candidate in a sea of hate-filled voices, I began again to reshape my life according to love. As Advent begins I am working to make this life more fully a thing of beauty. I've written our a rule of life for myself, one that pulls to prominence the people I love, the relationships I cherish, the order and ritual I need to thrive. A part of that rule is a sub-rule, a readjustment of my online presence: limiting social media time (my goal is to order my instagram and blogging time to be a peaceful and beautiful contribution to my way of life, while reducing my time on platforms like facebook to brief evening or weekend visits. I have friends there that I do want to keep up with, but the site itself tends to drain my time and interrupt the tangible interactions in life). 

What do I want my time to be filled with? 

I keep breaking this question down into tiny bites of thought. Partially because my children are always biting up my thoughts into tiny pieces with their contributions. Just now, Ilya brought me a painted parasol and my image of time being filled was altered to include the parasol, my sweet boy, and a coffee shop where neither he nor his sister could distract from my writing..possibly with a hazelnut latte beside me. 

Generally though, my responses come in collected impressions: beauty, quiet times, order, simplicity - possibly touched with minimalism, play, conversations late into the night or on lazy mornings with coffee and grapefruits or danish, teaching gently, praying often, sewing, sweeping, reading..slow and simple and gentle.

What do you want your life to look like? To feel like?

How can we make these visions real?

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Autumn Beginnings

I've been wanting to return to blogging. But so much is in my way, and not just this little imp:

Though he's amazing at distraction.

More than anything, I'm not blogging because I want to say so much, and it's all so fuzzy in my head, still taking root and growing. I haven't been able to make my thoughts turn into something public yet. But the summer is winding down, autumn is settling in, and I can smell the sharpening air - even through the long-lasting heat. I think my mind is clearing up, focusing more, and turning into something worthwhile again.

I've learned so much this past year, growing this delightful person, birthing him, and seeing the bond between him and his sister. They make my life so rich, I'm almost drowning in the joy of it. And I'm learning how to shape their days into lovely things, I'm reading Laudato Si' and feeling it sink into my heart. I'm shifting again to become more myself. I don't know quite yet where that will take my blogging, but I'm determined to write through it all as it continues.

This morning I have a pile of letters to mail off beside me, two journals, a recipe book, and an empty breve cup. My babies are playing in the sunlight with their daddy, and the ingredients for winter tinctures are scattered through the house. We'll be making a lung-healing oxymel this afternoon, unless I get distracted and forget again. 

I'm drafting posts with more concrete thoughts: on consumerism, on beautiful homes, on building a family village, on daily devotions. I hope they make it beyond the back pages of my journal.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Diaper Balm

I make my own diaper balm for Ilya. It can be used for a many things besides baby bottoms, but I always call it diaper balm. The recipe is similar to the recipe for Yarrow when she was smaller, but it varies in every batch, depending on the herbs I have on hand. I always have comfrey on hand though. I can't get rid of it.

Comfrey is one of my favorite herbs..mainly because it grows so well in our yard and garden. Actually, it grows so well everywhere. It's kind of a weed. A monstrous, overgrown, pretty, weed. With healing properties. 

Comfrey heals cuts and abrasions, rashes, and skin-in-general. It heals quickly, make sure your skin is clean if using comfrey to heal - especially the root.

herbs soaking in oil

I use the leaves in my diaper balm. I soak them, with calendula and yarrow blossoms (in varying amounts) in olive oil for about a week. 

Then, I strain them out and heat the oil on a less hot area of the woodstove...a 'normal' stove would use a low setting. I chop in measuring for me. Sometimes it takes a while to find the right amount, but generally 4 or 5 parts oil to 1 part wax is a good place to measuring, you'd put in a little less than 1/4 cup wax for every 1 cup oil...I usually only work with a cup of oil at a time anyway. And once that melts, I take it off the heat, and add about 5-8 drops lavender essential oil. 
mixed herbs, dried yarrow on top

If I'm not sure about the consistency, I'll wait to add the essential oil. Instead, I'll let this blend cool, test it's consistency, and reheat. Then I can either add more wax, more infused oil, or just remelt it to pour into jars. 

I use this blend for baby butts, minor bug bits, skin irritations, or just dry skin. It feels great on new tattoos (though really, I prefer adding rosemary essential oil and a bit of coconut oil to my tattoo balm.)

It's easy to make, which is good, I'm a neglectful herbalist, and it heals everything quickly. It smells nice too.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Feeling Pretty

At Everything to Someone, earlier this month, my friend Christie wrote a bit about liking the way you look

I think she looks adorable..all vintage and hipster-y. It's not my look, but some days I wish it was.

Most days though, I love my look. I'm not sure what it is anymore, but I like it. 

I like my skirts heavy, long, and textured..I like black eye-liner and big earrings, I like my body well enough to pick clothes that flatter rather than conceal. And I like to play with my 'look'. 

I want my children to feel confident playing with fashion: I want them to step outside the narrow confines of societies ideals and delight in clothing that fits them. Boys are especially limited in our culture - why is the only acceptable formal-wear for boys and men in our society a suit. Boring! 

I'd like my son to be able to feel confident and masculine in a skirt (some men look awesome in a skirt, really, I've met them! Generally they have a lot of tattoos.); I'd like my daughter to feel confident and feminine in coveralls (she wants to be a mechanic), I'd like them bother to feel confident and beautiful in Indian silks..because really, who doesn't? And I'd like them both to feel confident and beautiful naked. Because they are. 

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I love make-up. I love dressing up my eyes. Yarrow loves make-up as well..she piles it on. She's good at doing her lips, I'm not. But make-up looks best when it's used to flatter, not conceal or alter. I'm uncomfortable with the excessive contouring that some people do.

Maybe that's just because I like my face. I like it in the early morning, without make-up.

And I like it in the later morning, with make-up.

..and now I want bangs again. I might even want to be a blond again...


I dress and do my make-up for myself, my husband, and my children. I want to feel pretty. I want my husband to smile when he sees me, and I want my children to think their mother is beautiful. I want my children to know that motherhood doesn't mean bad hair and lazy dressing; that it can inspire women to love their bodies more than ever, not because they've 'sacrificed their bodies having children' but because they've met their bodies in a deep, rich way, and become someone new. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Pushing Back

                                                                                                 -by Seth 

    Checking the mail is always fun and exciting. I grew up within walking distance of the local post office which meant no rural delivery for us, so this whole "having my very own mailbox right at the end of the road" thing is still kind of new. And before the fiasco that is healthcare it was enjoyable. Now it generally means some new and banal waste of tree pulp and money to either tell me something I already know or reverse some decision made the week prior. The latest was a nursery card from hell for Ilya:

      A creepy, but I guess within in realm of "baby appropriate" outside opened to reveal an aggressive immunization schedule along with a message from the powers that be to "get those shots!".  Not a suggestion, not a piece of objective information I could take or leave, but an ultimatum. A demand. And I was done. There's no more ignoring this attitude of complete superiority and dismissal of parental control (not to mention intelligence). If it's ever to stop we have to be the ones to stop it. 

     So instead of burning the card, which is generally my first impulse with junk mail (it's not vindictive, it's just the easiest way of dealing with the loads and loads of paper), I decided to send it back with the following letter:

     Dear Mr. Albert,

     I recently received this card - I am returning it to you as it is not only inapplicable to my life, it is offensive. I am not one to take umbrage at every little slight, so please understand my full meaning in saying this. While I appreciate you concern for my child, it is in no way your responsibility to dictate my healthcare decisions.

     There is a disturbing trend of professionals, such as yourself, feeling the need to act in loco parentis both to parents and simultaneously, through them, to their children. I will not tolerate that. Whether your guidance is good or bad is irrelevant, the problem lies in considering yourself more capable of making medical decisions for people you've never met than the parents who are raising them. This is grossly misguided.

     I am perfectly capable of discerning, among other things, which vaccines to get when, and if I need your advice I will ask for it. Until then please refrain from further patronizing attempts to "educate" me. 


                                                                                    Seth P. Goepel

   Most likely it will enter the trash unread (probably unopened) but that's not important. Because there's the chance it will be seen and maybe even provoke a reaction. And if we don't start pushing back at the little things - the attitudes, the casual implications - then we can't expect life to start improving. And now it's your turn.


Friday, May 15, 2015

Pretty - Happy - Funny - Real


[a detail from Ilya's baptismal gown; last Saturday's breakfast-in-the-making; my husband's beautiful new tattoo]

I've been feeling overwhelmed by my own good-fortune recently. Looking around at my life and delighting in it again and again. Spring has come, and it feels like summer.

* * *    * * * 


[The only baptism photo we ended up getting; Yarrow in her new sweater, old Easter dress, and my heels; siblings]

Ilya is happiest with Yarrow around. His baptism was almost two months ago (we don't like delaying sacraments) but I never got any photos, so this is all we've got from the actual event.

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[kids and dog; she stole the cowboy boots..and my attitude; feeling big]

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[sleeping baby; early morning (I slept in my make-up again); altar-card]

Blessed Friday, all!

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