The Happy Peasant Soaps

The Happy Peasant Soaps
Wild Water & Woods Gypsy Artisan Goatsmilk Soaps Call (734) 426-WILD to Order

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Bird In The Hand

Here's a picture of Widget in the Christmas tree. He's right at home, sweet little white spotted bird!

No More Grocery Store

The wind is whipping around this old farmhouse as the sky lightens. There is no sunrise to see this morning, but rather fat flakes of cold white snow, and whirling clouds of woodsmoke blown this way and that. We are waking up to a cold and blustery day! Monday is traditionally my one day a week where I take my grocery list and head out to get food for the whole week. After the grocery store, I drive to a local Organically Certified farm and get our weekly cow share milk, 2 gallons to drink and turn into homemade cheese. This morning is so cold and snowy I was thinking that it should be a 'No More Grocery Store' day. Really, what do we need? Tissues??? Dish soap??? I have literally baskets and baskets of homemade soap scraps and we have hankies that can be washed. There is milk still in the cooler and almost 2 bushels of organic cabbage sitting next to about 10 bushels of apples and 2 hams that were given as gifts by hunter's at Christmastime. We have wild hickory nuts waiting to be cracked, cheese ripening in the cooler and kale that is still green, though cold and icy, under the snow. There are jars of organic Rye, Wheat, and Kamut sitting next to me on my bread table as I type and barrels and barrels of our own honey sitting out in the honey house. If I had a sack of coffee beans and my own little Jersey cow in the barn, I would not need to venture to town until spring. What a lovely hermit-like thought, huh?

So, I think today will be a No More Grocery Store day. Instead we will read books out loud, practice our hand stitching skills, fill the wood stove full of split wood and brew a huge pot of homegrown herbal tea! This is just the day to stay home. Please join me in slowing down and enjoying the day.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Frozen Eggs

It is cold. So cold that the eggs froze in their shells in the nests. The picture, above, is a fresh egg that I gathered just minutes ago. The egg is a solid piece of egg-ice. Of course, they are still good once they thaw...but these had expanded and cracked their shells open. We will eat them tomorrow for breakfast with our butter and homemade bread.

It is 13 degrees here in Michigan and the wind is 'wuthering' around the house and through the windows. There is a huge pot (two actually) of chicken noodle soup on the stove and the candles are lit for the evening.

Though my hands are still icy from the cold, as I type, my heart is warmed by the memory of good friends, thoughtful deeds and the blessings we recieve from others.

If you are somewhere cold tonight, pass on a thoughtful word to another soul, it will warm their heart on this bitterly cold evening.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Dirt! I'm not talking about the bad kind...but the GOOD kind...the dirt that we run our fingers through when the ground warms up and smells good in the spring. The dirt that children play in and make mud pies from.
Today I was reminded of the accolades of dirt. I attended my first Ann Arbor Women's Farm & Garden Green's Show at the University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens

This conservatory is an architectural masterpiece, a cultural gem and a literal breath of fresh air. The Koi goldfish swim in beautifully maintained pools surrounded by lush jade green plants, the air is thick with the perfume of flowers and warm humid leaves, microcosms and soil. It is simply a must-visit place if you are ever in Ann Arbor, any time of the year.

I was very happy to be a part of the Green's Show and was afforded the luxury of selling The Happy Peasant Soaps in such a beautiful spot. What a wonderful place to work. The staff were all so friendly and, no pun...but...down to earth! I was reminded of why I like gardening and gardeners and anyone who loves to sit and talk ad infinitum about plants, leaves, scented geraniums, soil pH and the latest heirloom discovery or strange new plant added to their collection.

I think the world would be a better place, simply stated, if people spent more time with plants and gardening. I really do.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Gatherings Before The Snow

This morning, while I was having my second cup of piping hot coffee strong enough to stand a spoon up in, Tom, my husband mentions that he heard a winter storm is headed our way later this week. I felt it. I mean, I had already felt it in the air...that it was coming. And, of course, it is overdue. So, in addition to my regular once a week grocery shopping (which I am pondering about turning into a bi-monthly shopping trip), I pulled on my barn boots and headed out into the surrounding yard and fields. I gathered up all the little pie pumpkins that looked as though they might tuck their pulp tastily into steaming spicy pies, I filled my largest kitchen bowl with greens from the garden; French sorrel, heirloom chards and kales, sprigs of parsley and bits of wispy pungent dill. I checked the wild bird seed supply, moved a second bag of rabbit chow into the rabbit barn and settled in for the afternoon. There are three gallons of raw milk waiting to be turned into cheddar, yogurt and butter, and my little 'grain grinding' station up above the old woodshed is in a sorry state of confusion following a heavy duty grinding session of rye yesterday afternoon. Three solid peasant loaves of hand ground sourdough rye sit, still cooling, on the kitchen table, surrounded by all my gatherings.

Now, if I had only found more time to pick up bushels and bushels of wild hickory nuts, we would be all set. There is venison waiting in the freezer and more where that came from, as Albert harvested his very first two deer on his very first day out deer hunting. We are blessed, we are ready for the winter winds to blow.

The pantry in the cellar is stocked with umpteen jars of wild elderberry jelly for medicine, and wild grape jelly to enjoy. I think this was the very first year I can remember, since I have begun paying attention to the little wild grapes, that they were plentiful enough to gather for jelly. The blossoms on the trees this past spring were so profuse, any fruited tree or bush was as heavily laden as any year I've ever witnesses thus far.

Perhaps this excess was God's way of preparing us all, including the little sparrows and wild starlings, for a harsh winter. Let it begin.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Yesterday, I made yet another batch of soap in hopes of getting called for the Christmas Greens Market at the Botanical Gardens this week, and then I worked on 'our' little Thanksgiving meal. I made a small organic turkey with dressing, Amanda's favorite jello with cider replacing the water in the recipe, sweet potatoes, mashed Yukon gold potatoes from the garden, gravy, salad from the big family get together, the pumpkin pie made from the pie pumpkins we grew, and pomegranates to put on the salad. Tom, Amanda, Albert and I sat by candlelight in the dining room and ate quietly and enjoyed a thankful meal. We gave the cats little scraps and some whipped cream. Then, I took a very small blue willow tea plate, and filled it with one piece of stuffing, five pomegranate seeds, some sweet potato, and a teeny tiny piece of meat and gave it to Widget, my pet Starling, for Thanksgiving. He ate the sweet potato, some of the meat and all of the stuffing. I think the shiny plate fascinated him more than all the bits of food.

After the dishes, Albert, Amanda and I went out to the orchard to glean Jonathon apples and Golden Delicous apples off the trees. Tom ALWAYS picks up every single apple off the ground and picks every single apple on the trees. This year, it was beyond him as we had such a massive crop of apples and they flowed over into harvest. He left about 10 Jonathon trees and one or two goldens and all the apples under them. We went and picked 4 bushels and brought them back. Albert peeled the golden delicious and we are drying them by the woodstove.

This time of year is so full of possibilities. We learn to thank God for new days and fresh mornings and health. Although things change and people aren't always there when we need them or who we need them to be, at least we are given new days to live and work and think and appreciate what we have, what we have lost, or what we have to look forward to.

Heading into the dark of winter used to be my least favorite time of year, but in the last couple of years I have learned to face it as a journey into myself...a time of year when we are given the dark hours so we can be self-introspective. And now, it seems the Winter Solstice, the darkest day of the year, passes much too quickly.

There is some Celtic harp and vocal music that seems to echo this time of year perfectly, it is by Aine Minogue
Enjoy the darkness.

Previous Posts Deleted In A Fit Of Artistic Self-Criticism

Cerulean Blue

February 5, 2009

With spring, you sometimes get a fleeting glimpse of blossoms and robins and then the world turns hotter than hades, here in Michigan. This year, I do believe, we will get the kind of spring that 'holds'. The kind that promises cerulean blue skies day after know, the color blue that every old church has painted behind it's altar...the color blue that excites the heart of children when they stumble upon a robin's nest full of little eggs in the spring...the kind of blue that says, "relax, there's lots of time time to dream/prepare/relax/get ready for summer or whatever we need to be getting our lives ready for".

I have always loved this color and this word, Cerulean. It even rolls off the tongue as though it were some obscure European recipe that you just returned home with from a trip abroad. Say it to others and the conversation turns from mundane to one of creative possibility. Cerulean.
Have a cerulean blue day.

The Name For Those Ice Chunk Blocks Under The Tires

January 28, 9009

Eternal Winter! I've come up with a name for those ice chunk block things that 'lodge' themselves under the front and backs of our car tires during long cold spells here in the midwest...Chunkagles! Chunkagles...Ice chunks that we carry around for weeks on end because they hurt our toes to kick them off, because we are too cold, too hunched over to go to the carwash...because the temperature hasn't risen above 0 for what seems like 600 years. Chunk (they're blocky) + Triangle (they're somewhat triangular in shape) + Icicle (definitely hard and frozen).

I've been pondering them for several weeks now and thinking "Do these things have a name?". They dislodge themselves in the most awkward places such as, the middle of the road, the place you park in your driveway or garage, etc. They are blackish brown and a harbinger of the deepest sect of winter. If you see a chunkagle, it's cold, you've eaten way too many carbs for weeks on end just to stop your toes from freezing in your boots, and the sun is a foreign word reserved only for people who inhabit the equator or the southern hemisphere.
I've glimpsed some really fantastic and huge chunkagles lately, but unfortunately at times that I've not had my camera. I'll try and shoot some chunkagle pics today and tomorrow so those of you in the warmer climes can see what they are.

Chunkagle contest! Everyone out there who sees a great chunkagle, take a pic and send it to me!

I'll post the most hideous one to remind us all of the joys of January!

Have a warm and cozy day and look out for those icy things!

Saving The Written Word (or, the end of the letter as we know it)

January 26, 2009

I've just heard and read that the United States Postal Service is considering cutting out one day of mail delivery. I'll skip all the mumbo jumbo and just get to my point, as it is late...THE WRITTEN WORD IS SERIOUSLY THREATENED! You may be laughing as you read this, thinking, "well, of course, here you are writing on a blog for goodness sake!" But, really...when is the last time you actually got out a piece of stationary and an envelope and wrote a letter? Letters are/were so beautiful...(and my current theme is beauty, is it not?). Please, everyone who reads this, sit down and even for just 3 minutes, write a letter or drop a card in the mail to someone. Your mother, your sister, your godchild, a neighbor, someone far away. Write, write letters, and write them soon. If not, our written history stands to die to make way for the life of the unwritten word, the unrecorded word, the unbeautful. I'm writing 10 letters tomorrow (including a handwritten return address). Please, do join me in saving the written word! Forward this paragraph, copy this paragraph, but please...write.

As Snug As A Mouse In A Nest

January 25, 2009

As we all sat down around the worn oak table in the kitchen, the stove was as hot as I could get it. The chill of the dark January night seemed to wrap around our house and all four of us anticipated the hot home cooked meal of pasta and sauce from the canned tomatoes of last summer's garden. The steam from the pasta as I drained it had fogged all the windows, lending to an even warmer atmosphere in the old farm kitchen.

While we slept, the sky broke loose with a soft, but steady, snowfall. Grey skies and cold sparkling snows greeted us as we welcomed another day of hard work on the farm. It occured to me while I was waiting for the bus with Amanda, that this is just the kind of day that we wish for in busy and hot August! One grey skied, cozy snow filled freezing cold day (complete with harsh North wind!) to make a huge pot of scalding black tea and set to the day's work.

And so, instead of begrudging another day of cold winter, I faced the day with the anticipation and enthusiasm. Cold grey skies bring a chance to nurture our inside jobs (and some outside, such as cutting firewood and shoveling snow). The picture here shows 20 below zero...taken last week during a cold snap!

I hope this day brings you reasons to be thankful and to anticipate your own winter treasures, whatever they may be. And, if you find you have none...just glance out your window and see the diamonds that God has placed for you in the snow.


January 14, 2009

I've decided to work for a while here, and provide all of us with some resources, and at the very least, some creative inspiration. We all need more warmth, comfort, tradition and hospitality in our homes and lives. It seems with the advent of cellular phones that the world has sped up, never to slow down again. I am going to investigate and uncover some ways we can all slow down and erase some of the self imposed 'have-to's' and anxieties of the world.

A good portion of our anxieties, I've realized, are coming from our perceived notions of what we are 'supposed' to be doing. Hello direct marketing! Hello glitzy advertisements and the way things are labeled lately. Really. Think about it. Do you really desire that $7.00 bar of imported Organic Italian chocolate? Remember how good a simple Hersey bar tasted when you were a kid?

I'm not saying you have to give up your espresso machine, or live like a college freshman (though wasn't it nice way back then when all we owned was a futon and a milk crate for our books?). Just try and reach back in your memory for the wholeness of the way we used to live. I can't remember my parents ever rushing us out the door, yet today I think we all live in a state of perpetual fast forward rushing. Why? What are we rushing towards?

We are losing the moment of now, which is the most beautiful and important, and once gone, becomes a regretful missed past moment.

The beautiful: warm, welcoming, secure, comfortable, familiar. What has happened to our homes and what we are socializing our children with?

Let's regain a world of simplistic beauty and whole, slow actions.

Care to join me?


January 12, 2009

One of the most beautiful sounds in the world is the peaceful quiet sound of snow falling out of heavy laden clouds above - gently blanketing the trees, rooftops and ground.

A dear friend and neighbor of ours sent the poem below on her Christmas card just weeks after discovering she had breast cancer. She is cancer free now and I keep the poem as a reminder of the power of positive, and beautiful, thinking

"Maybe snowflakes are letters God uses to write upon the winter sky - A graceful script of peace, hope, and love..."

Janvier Morning (or anything is possible)

January 11, 2009

I don't know why, but I consistently pronounce the months of the year, both verbally and mentally, in French. Thank you to my 8th grade French teacher. She would be proud, I suppose. Maybe it's the way the French months roll off the tongue, with a certain panache...making them easier to blend into our daily hassle of scheduled appointments and 'to do's. Or, maybe it is because they are quick to say. Nonetheless, Janvier or January is upon us.

Years ago I would dread the darkest and dampest three months of the year, looking forward instead to April and May and June. But, I have discovered that there is a gift in January, February and March, and that is the gift of time. Time to dream of the perfect spring and summer to come...time to organize all those myriad stacks of papers and clippings.

In January, anything is possible; the world is your oyster and it's all downhill. With a bleak landscape outside and lots of inside time, we create lists and color code our business files. There isn't the hurried rush off to June weddings or insistent days of weeding the garden. January, Janvier...she is white, like a canvas waiting to be painted. Like a gift of freshwater pearls on an antique ivory French dressing table. The old and the new, mixed together in one glorious empty plan of our own making.

As the small flakes of snow fall from the sky outside my window as I type, and the little brown winter birds line up to take turns eating seed from the feeder, I rise with my now chilled cup of green tea, and head back to the kitchen to stoke the old stove and to gloriously dive into my self-imposed pleasant task of creating my own art. The masterpiece of the year ahead.