"Let's have a merry journey, and shout about how light is good and dark is not. What we should do is not future ourselves so much. We should now ourselves. "NOW thyself" is more important than "Know thyself." Reason is what tells us to ignore the present and live in the future. So all we do is make plans. We think that somewhere there are going to be green pastures. It's crazy. Heaven is nothing but a grand, monumental instance of future. Listen, now is good. Now is wonderful." ~ Mel Brooks

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Jac-o-lantern at a Lantern walk we went to on Friday at Mountain Road School

Here is a quick little photo post........it's been crazy around here, with the hurricane and all!
Charlotte loves to be a little Mommy!
KiKi has been getting some one on one Mama time lately.......she loves to bake together!
My love with the babe and KiKi behind listening to the story being told at
the Lantern Walk

We had a hurricane (literally) blow through the last few days. I needed a project to keep me calm :)


Wishing you all a fun Halloween!

Friday, October 26, 2012

For Little Hands

Welcome to A Simple Life's new weekly series: For Little Hands
Every Friday (I will be moving this day to Monday starting November 5, 2012) I will be posting a new project perfect for little hands. I would love for
you to join me! Please use the link-up form below and add something you've created that a wee one could create all on their own with some simple guidance. I look so forward to seeing what you all have done and come up with!
 With All Hallow's Eve approaching (along with a Hurricane!!) and St. Martin's Day close behind we've been really in to lanterns this week! This project involved a bit more participation on my part but Charlotte did the lion's share. I assisted mostly with cutting, holding paper together, and then lighting the candle.
You will need:
5 sheets of heavy card stock in any color
(4 for the lantern 1 for the bottom)
 Exacto knife (or box cutter)
tissue paper (lighter colors work best)
cookie cutters or other stencils
ribbon or string
a branch
tea light candle
First, take about 3 inches (short ways) off the paper you are using for the four sides of the lantern. Then trace some shapes on to each piece of paper.
Next (and this is where you come in Mom or Dad!), cut out the shapes using your Exacto knife.
(Back to the kiddos)
Glue around the shapes of each lantern and add your tissue paper so it covers each picture.
Using your tape, attach each paper to each other.
Attach the bottom square as you did the other four. Now, using a hole punch, poke one hole on 2 opposite sides around the top edge. Tie some ribbon through the holes and attach the lantern to your branch. Glue a tea light candle at the bottom of your lantern.
With help from Mom or Dad, light the candle and see how beautiful it will glow!
"This little light of mine,
I'm gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine,
I'm gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine,
I'm gonna let it shine.
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine."

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Morning Blessings

It has been a long standing dream of mine to work a morning walk into our daily rhythm. Some days we succeed and others, well.......not so much! It's so soothing for me and the littles to begin our day out of doors visiting the sheep, feeding the birds, seeing the world outside waking up to the bright day ahead. Today, we succeeded! We triumphed over sleepy eyes and rainy weather. The morning started out with a lovely rise of the sun, a blushed orange glow touched every tree top but then clouds took over and covered us some overcast.  Here are a few photos from our lovely morning meander.


Monday, October 22, 2012

A Bit of Magic : A Pumpkin Painting Story

We've heard many stories to support a particular painting project but none really resonated with me or my kids enough to create a well rounded experience. To honor that, I chose to write my own story to follow along with a somewhat traditional pumpkin painting experience. The painting part doesn't begin right away so if you choose to share our story with your children, read it ahead so you can get a feel for where and when you can prompt your kids to begin to create their little pumpkins.
I felt Kiki was bit young for this project so I set up a pumpkin project similar to our
 Shamrock Window Transparency.
~ You will need some orange paper to cut into a pumpkin frame
~ some bits of tissue paper
~ a blue piece of paper to frame your pumpkin on
We used the wet on wet watercolor technique for the pumpkin painting. It's such a magical experience to watch and participate in. To see your littles' eyes light up when they see the colors change or the pumpkin face come shining through......it really is quite sweet.
~ You will need some wet watercolor paper
~ Blue, red, yellow watercolors
~ A cup of plain water
~ Brushes for the paint and water
Enjoy ~
Once upon a time a Little Seed lived in the earth. He was waiting and waiting until the time was just right for him to begin to grow. He waited until the soil was warm enough…….and on that day he burst open and a little green tendril began to uncurl from Little Seed’s body. With so much strength and persistence he pushed through the earth above and followed the trail to the ever glowing light.

As days came and went he kept growing his long green tendrils all along the garden floor. Leaves began to sprout along the curly vines and then little flower buds began to pop out between the leaves.  Now, our Little Seed friend knew that these flowers were very special because it was from the “Queen” flowers that a round, orange, pumpkin would grow. All day long, Little Seed would call for the bees, telling them that a feast would await them in just a short time. This would be a once in a lifetime day for everyone. It was on this one day that Little Seed would push his flowers open to welcome the bees for the afternoon feast. These blossoms would begin to unfold by early dawn and by late morning they would be in full bloom. They would be open and waiting for the bees to come and share their pollen with all the flowers along the vine but especially with the “Queen” flowers atop their globe shaped thrones.

That day had arrived and the bees were humming so loudly. They were happy and full of pollen, dropping little bits into each “Queen” as they sipped on the sweet nectar within the flower.  Little Seed could hear and see the symphony of miracles that was happening all around him. By dusk the bees had  gone off to their hives and all the flowers had begun their final bow. The flowers closed and the pollen within each “Queen” had begun to create magic within the round thrones below her. Little Seeds dream was coming true and the pumpkins he so anticipated were beginning to grow.

~ First, a golden ball began to appear. (Paint a yellow sphere on your paper)

~ Then, as the summer light began to shift these little yellow balls began to take on an orange hue. (Add some watery red to your yellow and watch as the color changes  from yellow to orange).

~ The magic and wonder was more than Little Seed could bear. He felt so much satisfaction for the birth of the pumpkins because he knew that they would bring such joy and happiness to many little children who would come one day to pick those pumpkins. The sky above them was so blue but could not match that of the bright burst of orange that shone from the pumpkins below. (Paint blue all around your pumpkin but be mindful not to mix the blue with the orange in an effort to keep the colors separate).
~ After the sweltering heat of summer had come and gone and the leaves started falling from their tree homes, Little Seed knew it was time. The pumpkins that had started from little green globes beneath the most beautiful flowers had finished growing. They were ready to be taken from their curly, green, vines and brought home to a loving and appreciative family that would use this pumpkin for a lovely celebration. Little Seed knew that these pumpkins would provide nourishment, fun, beauty, and then would return to the Earth and begin anew. (Combine a bit of the orange and blue to encourage a stem (greenish) somewhere along your pumpkin).
~ As the children danced along Little Seed’s long tendril and chose the perfect pumpkin to take home, Little Seed felt very proud. He had worked very hard for a very long time. He was sad to see his treasures go but knew their life would be so meaningful to so many. As the pumpkins were carried away Little Seed saw the smiling faces of each one glowing back at him; their eyes, their smiles, their teeth, their noses.  (Now paint faces on your pumpkins with some fresh water. The clean water will wash away any color that is there and a face will shine through. You can use a clean cloth to dab the paper with and help pull the color away. After it dries a bit paint your eyes, smile, nose with some yellow paint. This gives your pumpkin a nice glowing face).
It had been a busy time for Little Seed and he found he was ready to retire for the winter. He knew that he would be taken care of by the Winter Fairies and Gnomes and other woodland creatures. They would tuck him in for the long cold winter and prepare him for what lie ahead.

The winter winds began to blow, Little Seed could hear that he was being called away. He drifted gently from the cold, barren earth and danced among the snowflakes and ice to discover where it is he was to go next. Little Seed didn’t know where he would land  but trusted that it would be just as amazing as where he had been.
KiKi's finished pumpkin
Charlotte asked to make her painting our new Welcome sign on our front door (the screen comes through in the photo, kinda neat looking I thought!).
I think it's perfect, don't you? :)
* This post was shared on Frontier Dream ~ Keep Calm Craft On


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Grace Notes

Welcome to Grace Notes! If you feel called to join along please link up in the comments section below with any post that expresses your gratitude and reverence for the "little things" in your life. Share on your blog, spread the word on Facebook or any other social outlet. Let's slow it down and enjoy our time and remember to be thankful for all the moments that make up a day in our lives!!

Here are some of our older youth during their part of our retreat weekend!

A few years ago, DH and I had agreed that living in some sort of intentional community is how we wished to lead our lives. Living in service to each other yet extending beyond those borders and into our wider community. We had agreed that living closely with others who wished to live mindfully and with their hearts turned toward raising our children away from the focus of modern society, to live with those who wished to walk more gently on the Earth, and to live with and challenge others to lead a life full of spirit and grace was exactly where we hoped to land. In order to fulfill that dream we applied to be house parents in a Camphill setting. (You can learn more about Camphill here ) We chose Camphill Kimberton in Pennsylvania because it was a good, sort of, midway point from my family in NY and my husbands in KY. As we began to fill out the paper work to begin our moving process we accidentally discovered a home that was available, in a Quaker Intentional Village, right where we were currently living! I have lived in this part of the US all of my life and never knew that this village existed, right in my own backyard!! We felt that we were being asked to consider this as an alternative to a rather large move. We inquired, met the folks within the community, and before we knew it we were moving in! It was a smooth process, a process where we could feel the spirit guiding us, assuring us, that this is where we were meant to be.

Farm road leading into the woods

We moved into the Quaker Intentional Village - Canaan (you can learn more at our website ) and quickly connected deeply with those within the community. Our children integrated seamlessly with the 7 other children on the land. Sleepovers were almost immediately set up, all day play dates, baking days, woods exploration days. The ability children have to just be in an experience is so beautiful to watch. They release all of their inhibitions, their fears, and the unknown. They taught us to dive in head first and not fear the uncertainty of our new life. Within months we had all felt so loving welcomed and desired more connection with those around us. The feeling was mutual.......thus we began our process towards membership in this amazing community of people who dreamed of a life outside and expectations.

Pathway within the woods

Part of being a member (or prospective member) with this community is being able to partake in their bi-annual Community Retreats. Every Spring and Fall members of this community gather for the weekend and spend it's entirety together in growth, spiritual practice, mindful work, meals, emotional stretching. It's a beautiful way to honor an entire weekend together........and that is just how we spent this past weekend. I am so deeply grateful for the lives of those on this land that remind me of the higher purpose of my work. They help me to remember my abilities and my strengths and yet honor my weaknesses and allow me to move through them, holding me up to be able to hear the grace in my actions and words. This weekend retreat was all about "Pathways: Actual and Spiritual". We planned a few hours of active, purposeful work. The group I participated in worked on actually clearing and marking paths within the woods that back our many acres of land. How deeply profound that experience was; the people I shared the day with, the emotional and spiritual shifting I experienced, the laughter, the sharing, the silence. It proved to be just wonderful, even when I fought it .......and at times became a bit grumpy!

Our older youth also participated and had their own "micro retreat" within the larger retreat. They, after spending some time together on the roof of the Farmhouse, came up with idea of  "It's all about the View". The view from the rooftop of the Farmhouse, our internal views, how we view others, the view from our windows. When they presented their experience of out Saturday afternoon session I believe we all could clearly identify with what they had come to us with. I believe we as the elders also experienced a view from another set of glasses, some of our perspectives may danced to a different tune, some of us may have been able to see each other from a different point of view. Our children come to us with many wonderful messages........this held a particular candle to the rest of my retreat experience. I found that I would remind myself that my experiences, good or bad, are all about my view......how I see what's happening, feel, hear. Maybe if I could allow for a difference in perspective and understanding certain things might turn out differently. Children are so wise.

As the weekend came to a close, we shared with each other what worked and what we might like to see as next steps within our community. I know for my individual next steps I hope to spend more time along the paths I helped to clear with those who I have come to love so dearly; the paths between our homes, the paths within the woods, the paths where we meet in worship and in solitude. I hope to walk with the children, more frequently, up the new set of steps that were built this weekend and that lead to our developed center. I hope to meet those who live here, with me, more frequently in the spaces we hold together, to share moments of reverence or to simply just be.

Life truly is all about the view........

Friday, October 19, 2012

For Little Hands: A Weekly Series

Welcome to A Simple Life's new weekly series: For Little Hands
Every Friday I will be posting a new project perfect for little hands. I would love for
you to join me! Please use the link-up form below and add something you've created that a wee one could create all on their own with some simple guidance. I look so forward to seeing what you all have done and come up with!
Charlotte loves to watch me sew. I'm a quite a novice sewer so I'm a bit intimidated when she asks me to teach her as I've never been taught and have learned all on my own. My skills are minimal but I've been able to create some really wonderful things for my children and really, that's all the matters! My eldest daughter loves to sew. She will sit and sew with me; both of us leading each other to what might work and what "looks" right. It's really quite comical :)
I gave Charlotte a darning needle, some embroidery floss, and a linen napkin that I drew a pattern on for her to follow.
I encouraged her  to thread the needle herself. A darning needle is perfect for little hands as its eye is bigger than a sewing needle and threading can be more easily accomplished.
With little guidance on my part, Charlotte had at it. She instinctively knew to follow the letters on her napkin. I didn't really explain much, I really wanted her to follow her creative fire and see what she came up with all on her own without my interference.
I would come back every few minutes to see how she was managing. A few times her needle and thread got a bit tangled so I helped her with that (it can be so frustrating!!). All in all, she did it by herself. As you can see.......she was very proud and excited about her sewing.
She finished all of her letters and then the excitement began to wear off. She is just 4 years old, I wouldn't have expected her to get that far as it took about 40 minutes for her to complete! She sat for 40 minutes, humming to herself, figuring out how to hold the napkin (I didn't have a frame for her to use) and wear to put the needle. I did help her with finishing up. I tied off the thread for each letter and knotted the end of the new thread. I also offered some support when she wanted to try the flower petals. She managed 2 petals with a bit of help and then needed a break from the pattern. Didn't she do an amazing job? I was really impressed!!
Here is a handkerchief she started working on free hand.
What are your littles working on? I can't wait to see xo 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Impressed by Leaves

Today was the quintessential Autumn day. Warm yet brisk. The sun shone such bright light but you can see and feel the difference from the sunshine of our summer days.......fragmented, shifted, indirect. The leaves tumbled passed us as the wind carried them across our yard. The littles chased them to and fro and came back to me with ones they thought were just so beautiful; their colors, their crunchiness, their shapes. We decided to place our favorites into a basket and bring them inside to examine them a little more closely.

Charlotte had really hoped to keep them all, forever!, and we would have if I had had enough beeswax (so we could preserve them in the melted wax) but alas! In the end we compromised on making a leaf impression and then finishing it with a little wax resist painting. It was a multi-stepped process (the littles love that) and took only about 30 minutes to complete. It was perfectly engaging for them and by the time we were finished, Charlotte felt that she had properly paid homage to the little leaves she considered such a gift.

First, we placed their leaves randomly all over a piece of paper that was
anchored down to our table with some tape.
Next, we rolled another piece of paper over our leaf collage.
Then, they rubbed some crayons all over the top piece of paper.
It was so beautiful to hear the girls "ooh" and "ahh" whilst seeing the leaves
pop out from under their crayons. They would rub harder and then lighter to see how different
the shapes and veins looked beneath them. It was really fun to watch.
Isn't it beautiful?
Charlotte wanted to continue on and began by applying some watered  down egg dye
to the leaf impressions. I kept our egg dye from Easter to use all year long for 
projects that call for water colors or dyes of some sort.
They do last for about that long before they get moldy or stale in color. 
Here is a detail shot of how the wax from the crayon resists the water color.
The crayon colors just pop right through and create such a beautiful prism of color.
We're lacking in wall space so I'm challenged to utilize other areas for displaying our works.
Here you can see I've used a bamboo shade as an easel for our leaves painting. The sunlight
coming through the window allows the impressions to really stand out.
"It's Autumn again,
Leaves whisper the sound of our past."
~ Andrea Rieck
What are you crafting this Autumn?
This post was shared on The Magic Onions
Friday's Nature Table

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