The Happy Peasant Soaps

The Happy Peasant Soaps
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Monday, June 28, 2010

Log Cabin/Soldier/Blacksmith Days

It was difficult to bring ourselves 'back' to this century when it was all over yesterday. It is not me playing the fiddle, but I wish it were. I did play my fiddle, but must learn the song that the reporter added to the little video clip. A beautiful haunting song.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Gifts of Summer

Just now, as I was sitting down at the computer to type, I heard a startled bird cry from across the garden, over in our big pine tree. I thought, perhaps, as the solstice sun was setting that a cat might be attacking young birds. And so, out the door I went. I trekked across the garden. When I arrived to the tree, at first I thought there was a large 'moth' hatch going was dusk and hard to see...but then I realized that the tree, some 50 feet high, was swarming with honeybees and that the birds were distressed from all the bees! I stepped back and looked. Amazing. A solstice swarm. Tomorrow, my brother in law, the beekeeper, will have the swarm. They are most likely from one of his hives. I do hope the birds survive unscathed and unstung. Poor things.

This afternoon, in our back sales room, which becomes a catch all over the winter, the inside of the screen door was covered in beautiful summer solstice butterflies! I had gathered two bushels of nettles a couple of weeks ago and, unbeknownst to me, they had little caterpillars all over them when I brought them home. By the time I realized that the little guys had set up 'shop' in our shop with cocoons while the nettles were drying on a screen, it was too late. And here, today, they hatched in all their glory and fluttery winged splendor. My daughter and her little friend held them gingerly on their little girl fingertips and they fluttered in their curly hair. Very summery, indeed.

I also received an early birthday gift (for tomorrow)

from a new kindred spirit friend (a gift in itself!)who gave me a summer solstice bracelet that she created herself of malachite and a hand blown glass ladybug bead, a beautiful quartz crystal, a sliver of magical amethyst (my favorite crystal) and a Native American arrowhead from Tennessee. She delivered it all in little secret pouches of gold and leather and included a bouquet of wild purple flowers and mini sunflower heads. What a truly beautiful day!

I treated myself (while performing the perfunctory grocery shopping this a.m.) to a pink raspberry fondant cake that waits a-cooling in the cooler and even the man at the vacuum repair store (ours conked out yesterday, no wonder on this gritty dirty farm) was pleasant and 'summery' as I dropped old faithful off to be fixed. What magic occurred today. What beauty came forth from the ends of the earth. I wish the solstice occurred more than twice a year. O day of beauty and gifts. A gift that cometh down from above.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


The words rolllllll off my tongue. Isn't it a lovely word? I have threatened to change my name, legally, to...just...plain...SOLSTICE. Not Solstice Lesser. Not Amy Solstice. Just - Solstice.

(Ah, she's gone off the deep end, you say, quietly to yourself). No. I'm turning 42 in two days! I am entitled to dream, a day before one of the most lovely days of the year, of running barefoot through pine scented forests with no responsibility and worries and a singular beautiful name of 'Solstice'. Summer Solstice, the first official day of summer. The longest day of the year (and shortest night of the year). The day when the sun 'stands still'.

The word Solstice is composed from Latin. Sol for sun and sistere (to stand still). During the summer and winter solstices, the visible movement of the sun (north or south depending on your hemisphere) comes to a stop before reversing direction.

And, for those of you wondering about the scientific aspects of the summer solstice, it occurs at exactly the moment when the Earth's axis is tilted greatest towards the sun at degrees of 23° 26'.

The summer solstice was also traditionally represented by the sign of fertility, and June herself is a month that boasts of lush fertility and life. So, this is fitting.

I love the solstices. They are beautiful days that God has given us. One is long and bright and full of life and fruit and smells and activity...sleep few minutes dear children of the solstice, this is a time to revel and dance and make merry. Eat berries, cook outdoors, smell, laugh, run, feel the sun on your skin. Or, just languish in the shade in the heat of the afternoon. (-:

On the other hand, the dark and hibernation inspiring winter solstice is beautiful in its own inky black darkness and cold. It is pinpoint starlight nights that make us run for the shelter of home and hearth and help us turn inward to look at our souls and our homes and the quiet that rests within.Summer is outward and extroverted, winter is inward and introverted. They represent the yin and yang of ourselves. They represent our conservative and our liberal meshing. They represent a balance of the halves that make us whole.

Both days are gifts, and there are many artists who have spent lifetimes painting and communicating their views of the solstices, writing songs or choreographing dances. It is not out of our grasp and everyday reach to take a moment to appreciate the wonder and enchantment of a long bright June day. A day when time and the sun seem to 'stand still'.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Gather Ye Rosebuds

Ah, beautiful lush June. I have two favorite months, June and October. June is so fresh and perfect. Everything is in it's prime. The yellowjackets have not yet set up residence in mailboxes and such, the grass is not parched and brown. Roses bloom, fruit ripens, children are still excited to be home for the summer.

I have been busy helping Amanda learn to ride her bicycle without training wheels, milking our little goat, doing lamb aerobics (this is where you repeatedly lift a 60 pound lamb over a gate that they proceed to jump over again and again), providing ready-to-lay hens with treats of grass clippings and succulent weeds to lure them into early laying, filling swimming pools and pretending to know how to read those lovely manuals that come with them (in 16 different languages nonetheless).

The garden is full of blooming English roses; Othello, Mary Rose, James Galway. The honeysuckle is entwining with the mint and the hops are beginning to cover the sage plants. Sycamores are blooming, the starlings are on their second batch of babies and we have all grown accustomed to walking in the garden barefoot.

We spoiled ourselves the other day by making fresh goat milk ice cream with ripe strawberries from the garden; Breyers, move over!

May your June hold a Midsummer's Night Eve, or two, to remember. Such a magical time of year!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Blessed Complicated Living

In my previous post, I elaborated on simple uncomplicated living, of my younger years. Ah, but uncomplicated was without my lovely beautiful gifts-of-love children, and without my crooked old chock full farmhouse, and without all the knowledge I have learned from the years. Uncomplicated is safe...I forgot this. Real life is messy, dirty, unpleasant at times and never what you expected it to be. Dirty floors mean people have been walking on them, messy rooms mean there is life going on. Piles of papers and to-do lists slide this way and that. But it is beautiful, is it not? Yes, after thinking it over...the past was nice, but I'll take my complicated beautiful life any day!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Simple Uncomplicated Living

The simple path, the singular view, the way we looked at things when we were 22. These are the things that we need to get back to.

When I was 19, I had a blue plastic milk crate, about 8 textbooks, two pairs of jeans, some over sized sweatshirts and a futon. Oh was life good...I lived on frozen yogurt rejects from the yogurt store I worked at and stayed up late watching black and white reruns on a used couch owned by one of the other girls in my house. I hadn't yet figured out why people were the way they are. I had tons of questions about the universe. I owned nothing, I had no bills, I had no responsibility save my next term of classes and exams and showing up to the yogurt store the next day. Coffee was instant, not expensive Starbucks as I'm accustomed to now (and it was great!), discussions about life were full and exciting and the world smelled and felt good.

We should all try to get back to one blue plastic milk crate and a futon. Liberating and simple and real.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

African Animals, Toledo Tornado and Soup

On Friday, I drove our daughter to Toledo, Ohio, which is only about 45 minutes south of us, to join her first grade class for a day at the zoo. It was a beautiful hot day and the zoo was clean and full of many animals and botanical beauties. Amazing that just hours after we drove through Toledo and Dundee, Michigan on the way home, tornadoes swept through the area decimating many homes and businesses.

Upon arriving home, that evening, my husband had a forlorn look on his face. "Can't you stock the cupboard with some cans of soup that are appealing to me?" He asked. Yes, husband-starvation sets in when a woman leaves home for longer than 8 hours (-: What sorts of soups would you like? I asked. He replied that he had looked in the cupboard and viewed only, and I quote, "Cream of Junkyard, Cream of Worm Bed and Cream of Sawdust" /-: !!! I laughed so hard at these descriptions that I had to share them with you. I think they translate to Cream of Shrimp, Cream of Mushroom and Cream of Celery or thereabouts! Enjoy that visual image if you will.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Dance, Pray, Love -Benedictus

“Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore,
May the music of laughter break through your soul.
As the wind wants to make everything dance,
May your gravity be lightened by grace.
Like the freedom of the monastery bell,
May clarity of mind make your eyes smile.
As water takes whatever shape it is in,
So free may you be about who you become.
As silence smiles on the other side of what’s said,
May a sense of irony give you perspective.
As time remains free of all that it frames,
May fear or worry never put you in chains.
May your prayer of listening deepen enough
To hear in the distance the laughter of God.” — John O’Donohue

(Benedictus - A Book of Blessings)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Herb Rack Watercolor

And here, is the folk art watercolor I did of my herb rack. It was featured in the Summer 2010 issue of A Simple Life Magazine in the article I wrote about the lore and history of the Herbwife/Herbwyfe.

I will be offering prints of this watercolor on my website,

And, I must say it is easy to lose one's cares and relax inward when one is painting. I plan on doing more paintbrush lifting than I have in the last few months.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Herb Rack

This is the herb rack that hangs in my kitchen. There is a little tiny wooden 'widget' bird hanging in the center. Each year I replenish the herbs from my garden. I have painted a folk art rendition of this rack that I will share with you, as soon as I can figure out *how* to upload it, as it is quite a large file. Happy gathering.

Three Unlikely Friends

Yesterday afternoon the weather was perfect. So I put my pet Starling, Widget, out on his little hook (in his cage) on the back porch, to soak up some sun. Along came Mr. Daddy Cardinal and visited with Widget from the back of our lawn chairs, chip chip chipping to Widget. And, as if that weren't enough for an afternoon bird tea party...along came Miss Ruby Throated Hummingbird to sip some nectar alongside her colorful (and verbal) friends. I didn't catch a photo to share, but wanted to let you know that birds don't necessarily have to be 'of a feather' to flock together.