Friday, September 19, 2014

{this moment}

...Joining Amanda at SouleMama for {this moment}...
{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. 
A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

photo shoot : behind the scenes

 Photo credit: last two pictures by Autumn Noah Lea.
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 Last week we did a photo shoot in the park with a bunch of our new earrings and some necklaces too. I took over a thousand pictures that day! (I'm still organizing and sorting them.) Bracken liked the swings, made himself a fern crown, and enjoyed some watermelon (and offered some to our models.) We even got some family pictures at the end, with Bracken just wanting to make silly faces as usual. Here is a little peek behind the scenes. More soon. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

yarnalong: joining the sleeves & the gift of fear

...Joining Ginny's YarnAlong, sharing what I'm knitting and reading...
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...Knitting...
I finished knitting both of the sleeves for Bracken's sweater. When it came time to join them I got a bit confused, but eventually figured it out. I'm making progress! Though this is technically my second sweater, the first one was knit in one piece and then stitched together up the sides, so the construction of this second sweater is new to me. It's empowering to learn new things with my knitting.

...Reading...
In the comments from Saturday's post, three of you recommended the book 'The Gift of Fear' by Gavin De Becker. I had a feeling I really needed to read it so called the library and was happy to hear they had it. They put it on hold and Jeff picked it up for me after his physical therapy appointment. Right when I held the book in my hands I got goosebumps. A chapter in, this book is exactly what I need to read right now. I'm so grateful for the recommendations, thank you!

How about you?
Knitting? Reading?

Monday, September 15, 2014

learning curve (the laser)

We've been pretty excited about something around here. Not long ago a bit of unexpected money came my mom's way and she shared some with my sister and I and saved some for her retirement. It was such a huge blessing for all of us. My sister and brother in law needed a working vehicle. And Jeff and I needed to get some tools to help us in our business. I wrote before about Jeff's sciatic pain and also briefly mentioned his tennis elbow. Basically Jeff and I knew that hand carving and hand wood burning constantly, day after day, was not sustainable for his body. He couldn't work his body like a machine any longer because it was taking it's toll. So, with that in mind, Jeff and I talked a lot about what tools would be most helpful for us. Jeff did a lot of research. What he really wanted was a laser machine. At first we were both a little bit resistant to the idea. We love all the energy he puts into each and every piece, making them so special, the essence of handmade. But the more we learned about laser machines and the more we talked about it, the more it felt like the right decision for us. First he looked for lasers made in the United States, but the ones we needed were way out of our price range and as far as we could tell all of the parts were made overseas anyway. He found one overseas that was exactly what we needed and also in our price range. It was delivered in a giant crate to our house. (Our neighbor had to help Jeff lift it onto a table.) Jeff immediately started working with the laser and figuring it out. The one downside was that the manual was very poorly translated, so he's pretty much had to figure everything out for himself. It's been quite a steep learning curve, but he's done an amazing job of figuring things out (a lot of experimenting mixed with some research) and has been creating the most beautiful things. It's completely changed our business in such a short time. Jeff's elbow and wrist that were in so much constant pain have now had time to rest and recover. What would take him days and days to create before takes so much less time to make now. And he still sands each piece by hand, spends lots of time on designs, sets stones... basically, there's still a whole lot of handmade love in everything he makes. Only now he can have the help of a machine to create his art rather than using his body like a machine.

Above are some recent earrings in our market booth that he used the laser to burn the designs in the wood. Both Jeff and I have been having so much fun coming up with new designs, getting out our paper and pens and drawing away. Before I used to draw the words on every single one of our inspirational wooden magnets by hand and then Jeff would woodburn them. Now I can put a lot of time and energy into a single design that we can burn over and over again with the help of the laser machine. Jeff has been able to copy some of his old scrimshaws and burn them into wood. Many of our designs are original creations by us, but some are not (like some celtic knots and the flower of life design shown above, for example.) Jeff has been really inspired by old wood cuts lately. (The 'All You Need Is Love' hoop earrings were inspired by my mom. When I told her Jeff was making wooden hoop earrings, she said that she would love a pair with that saying on them. I drew the design with her in mind and the first pair was sent to her for her birthday. Her creative idea brought those earrings into being.) Today I just showed earrings, since that's what he has been making the most of lately, but he's been making lots of other things as well. I can't begin to say how grateful we are for our laser machine (thank you mom!) and what a difference it has made for Jeff's work. It feels like the beginning of something wonderful, it opens up so many new possibilities for us.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

G r a t i t u d e * S u n d a y

 G r a t i t u d e  *  S u n d a y
{Sunday's heartfelt tradition. A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful. A list of gratitudes.} 
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If you would like to join us, see below. 
Our gratefulness feeds one another. 
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Throughout the week I've felt grateful for:

...More sunflowers blooming in the garden in different colors. And still seeing bees all over the place.
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...Our electricity being back on when we came home from a town trip. Always nice when it's not out for too long.
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...The breakfast Jeff cooked for us on his little camp stove on that morning.
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...Trying new things. And then being glad we did.
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...A surprise package in the mail with some sweet gifts for each of us from my mom's summer travels. Jeff said it was so fun to get things from different parts of the world.
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...Listening to music on our drive. Why do I forget to do that? Every time I rediscover it I'm glad.
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...Two days with a bit of sewing. I like that it's slowly becoming part of my routine again.
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...Gifting some plant starts to a friend. Over the years we've contributed quite a few plants to each others gardens. 
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...Communication to clear things up. 
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...Exploring an area with walking paths and scenic views. Always fun to see new places.
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...Harvesting, gathering, and all the abundance this time of year brings.
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...The warmth of the sun. To still be soaking it up. And drying our clothes in it.
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...A headset on our phone to keep my hands free to fold laundry, do dishes, clean, or just take a little break and knit.
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...Getting a little better at asking for help when we need it and then appreciating the help we get so much.
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...The moment Bracken and I saw Jeff drive up the driveway after being gone at market all day. Only a day I know, but we missed him like crazy.
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...Homemade chicken soup for dinner and Jeff and Bracken gathering the finishing touches in the garden: parsley and basil. 
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You can read more about the inspiration for Gratitude Sunday here

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Like to Join Us in Gratitude Sunday?

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If you are a blogger, click on the blue button below to add your link.
When adding your link...
Link the URL to your blog post and not to your main blog URL.
In your blog post, include a link back here, to this current post, so others who would like to join can find us.

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Or..
Share your list (whether one or many) in the comments below.
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Whether your week flowed smoothly or you had a rough one, taking the time to focus on what you're grateful for always makes things better and will bring you a happy heart!
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What have you felt grateful for throughout your week?
Share with us below! 



Gratitude Sunday

Saturday, September 13, 2014

the lake again & on my mind (a mother's intuition)

Another trip to the lake, with some huckleberry picking this time. It may have been our last swim of the season. We'll see. The water felt so much colder this time. After we'd been swimming and then picking berries for awhile, we discovered a sandy beach area. Bracken wanted to dip his toes in the lake one last time and had so much fun splashing around. We didn't bother getting his life vest back on and all his swimming stuff since he said he just wanted to get his feet wet.

There have been other things on my mind and I've been waiting till the right time to write about them here. Actually I wasn't sure if I'd write about it at all. I wanted to let my emotions calm down a bit first. I don't like to spread fear and get people's emotions worked up. But I also like to be honest and write about how I'm feeling and what I'm experiencing. I know I appreciate other people's honesty and when we share our truth we can all help each other so much. If what I write here can help someone reading this, than that is why I'm writing it.

Jeff went to the market by himself today while Bracken and I stayed home. I posted about the lake and how beautiful the world is last Saturday morning before we left for market. (Ironically, later that day I thought how unsafe the world felt.) That day Bracken ran away from me a few times at the market, feeling pretty comfortable there since we go so often, and thinking it was a very fun game to have mom chase him. I always caught him right away, but it was still unnerving. At the end of the day we had a bizarre and scary experience. We were packing up our market stuff and loading it into the car. Bracken was in between our booth and a neighbor's booth. I had my eye on him and suddenly had a strong mother's intuition when a strange man came up. I won't go into all the details, I just wanted to write about it in general. I acted in time and protected Bracken, scooping him up in my arms. We got out of there and drove home. We were safe. But the whole experience really shook me up. Big time. It was so shocking and unexpected, while Jeff and I were both there and in broad daylight, to feel our safety threatened like that. That night I cried and cried. And then I cried more the next day. Jeff offered to do market by himself this weekend, saying he felt it would be good for Bracken and I to take a weekend off. That was wise. We'll be back again, of course. But we needed to take a step back this weekend to regroup a bit.

I want to protect my child. I want Bracken to feel safe in the world. I don't want to scare him. I want him to grow up feeling that the world is a beautiful place. And it is. But at the same time, the world is not always a safe place and I have been sheltering him from that as much as possible. There have been times in my life when I knew I was in danger. When I was walking to kindergarten from my babysitter's house, with two friends by my side, when a black truck started following us slowly. The three of us all got a very strong impulse to run the rest of the way and arrived at school completely out of breath while we watched the truck reluctantly drive away. We overhead adults talking later about a black truck following children to school around that area. Or the time when my sister and I went on a summer bike ride when we were kids and decided to explore an abandoned building in the woods. As we approached the door, suddenly my instincts said "Get out of here!" and I grabbed my sister's hand we ran back to our bikes as fast as we could. I never had anything confirmed with that one, but I didn't need to because my vibes were loud and clear. Or the time when I held baby Bracken in my arms, getting ready to put him in his car seat, while Jeff started unloading groceries, and two people approached asking us if we would like some candy. As I saw them walk towards us, my inner voice said loud and clear "Danger!" and I was immediately afraid for our safety, knowing their intentions were not good at all. I think other people walked up and they quickly ran away. Doesn't even sound as scary now, but it was the energy of it that was terrifying at the time. There have been times in my life when I've acted on these instincts and there have been times that I haven't. Or acted too late because I was afraid. 

I believe that when we listen to our intuition it can open up miracles in our lives, time and time again. Synchronicity and magic. But sometimes it's not as simple as rearranging our schedule for the day or signing up for a new class. Sometimes it means acting fast. Intuition is essential for keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe. The thing is, though, that it's not always easy to follow. Sometimes our brains will doubt us. Sometimes other people will doubt us. Sometimes a whole bunch of people will think we are totally nuts. But it's so important to listen anyway. And this is what I'm learning. Over and over throughout my life. 

After the learning experience last weekend, it has opened up a new conversation between Jeff and I. How much do we need to shelter Bracken and how much do we need to say to him to keep him safe? After talking a bit with some family and some neighbors, it seems perhaps a healthy amount of fear is a good thing. We've made it very clear to Bracken now that he can't run away from me at market or anywhere, for that matter. Bracken is sweet and innocent and trusting. As all children naturally are. He assumes everyone at market is our friend, but in public places there are people you can't trust. We're working to find our balance in what we say to him and what we don't, as all parents do. After last weekend, I questioned myself a few times: what if I was totally wrong about the situation? But I know deep down that I wasn't. A mother's intuition is a powerful thing. (Don't mean to leave you dad's or anyone else out. Intuition is so important for all of us.) Remember: listen to it, and don't doubt yourself. 

Have there been times that your intuition has protected you from danger and kept you safe? Share your stories below if you feel inspired to do so. I believe when we share our stories with one another, they help us all.

Friday, September 12, 2014

{this moment}

...Joining Amanda at SouleMama for {this moment}...
{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. 
A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

raspberries, blackberries & apple pressing

I took these pictures the last two weeks. Lots of pictures. Last week Bracken and I went to our neighbor's farm and picked raspberries and apples. Jeff was working hard in the shop and we were happy knowing we could return home and surprise him with good food. (Great idea for picking raspberries: a wooden box with a strap that hangs around your neck to leave both hands free for picking.) We brought our neighbor eggs and he loves to do trades and also appreciates help picking berries and pressing apples. We came home with pears, raspberries, apples, plums, onions, and basil. Before we left, we helped him do some apple pressing so we came home with some apple juice as well. With our neighbor's suggestion, Bracken held a cup under where the juice poured out and was in apple juice heaven. We have small amounts of raw vegetable juices at home, but fruit juice is not something he has experienced much in his life at all. He gets wired enough with too much fruit so the juice was a bit much for him, but we did have a lot of fun. I had plans to meet two neighbors to do some apple pressing on the day I went into labor with Bracken and of course didn't end up making it. Last week was the first time I had done any apple pressing since before Bracken's birth. Pressing apples will always make me think of that day.

This week we went harvesting again. We picked with a friend (who took that picture of Bracken and I in the raspberry patch) and brought home more raspberries. Then at her farm we picked blackberries and visited all the animals. Most of the blackberries at our place are done for the season. We've been eating them fresh, but I thought I missed my chance to save some for the winter. When I got a call from a friend, inviting us to go blackberry picking and saying they were still good, I was happy to have the chance to still get some in for the winter.

So far this year, we've dried: pears, plums, and apples. And in the freezer: blueberries, applesauce, apples, pesto, pears, raspberries, blackberries and peaches. Between our garden and some trades with neighbors lately, our kitchen is bursting. Our kitchen table is completely covered, along with most of our counter tops. Our pantry has some winter squash on the shelves and jars of dried fruit and herbs. Our refrigerator is packed. Our freezer is packed. We are feeling so grateful for the abundance of food right now. So, so grateful. Visits to the grocery store are few and far between, with not much on our lists when we do go. Our garden is small in size compared to many of our neighbors, but it can still be a lot to keep up with. I see some of our farming neighbors with tons and tons of produce rolling in and wonder how they do it (staying up late every night to get it all preserved, that's how.) We've been mostly dehydrating, fermenting, and freezing things so far this year, but we have some canning projects in our future. We put off doing any canning projects until we have a lot to can all at once.

Jeff moved the dehydrator into the kitchen after a bear knocked it over in our yard one night, trying to get to the fruit inside. (Whoops, we spaced that one out.) The bear also ate almost all the apples off our apple tree. We might have gotten three this year. Luckily, our neighbors have kept us well supplied in apples so we haven't had any shortage of apples around here. Preserving food for the winter is a good, good feeling.