The Happy Peasant Soaps

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

Monday, November 22, 2010

All Is Safely Gathered In...E're The Winter Storms Begin

Here in Michigan, the weather is turning quickly. Ole Man Winter is beating at the door, and soon we will let him in.

May this week bring you moments of of peace and plenty with those you love, no matter how large or small your celebration, no matter how large or small your means.

A slice of bread broken over a table filled with love is more filling than a feast filled with strife. Remember this as you greet your loved ones and prepare your Thanksgiving Dinner.

We are looking forward to a small celebration and much quiet rest after a long and busy harvest.

Happy Thanksgiving from The Happy Peasant!!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Season's Harvest (Of Teacups and Wine)

We have had an amazing harvest this past all ways. I thought I would share some pictures of just what we have been busy doing since September.

This is our soap display at the Waterloo Farm Museum's Pioneer Days in early October. It was a hot day but the fiddles, horses, and Civil War encampments and bonfires certainly made the day. I think the picture is amazing in that it looks as though we have truly 'stepped back in time'.

It is always difficult removing ourselves from that century to return home to this century. Amanda, Albert and I took turns cooking the food on the old wood cookstove in the house, selling soaps and blacksmithing (Albert, of course) (:

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A bowl of freshly gathered good heated up and held in your cold hands before peeling and eating the decadent little feast inside. Our son, especially, likes these for a mid-afternoon snack...little squirrel that he is.

Peaches, ready to be canned in heavy syrup (I like the heavy syrup best, even though the fruit sometimes just 'tastes' better in the heart of winter.)

This is a picture of a happy, homeschooled, confident little girl, who loves to help load and unload pumpkins.

Cinderella pumpkins, kittens and grapes for turning into our first wine ever! (Rosehips in a bunch too, for decorating and putting into medicinal teas). Aren't the colors that God has given us just amazing?!? Makes me want to grab a paintbrush and create...but how to capture such color, such beauty?

Abbey, the cat, peering around the grapes and playing with the rosehips.

This is 'Dot' our cat who has two different colored eyes. If you look closely you will orange-ish green! (: Neat.

I love to 'stack' these Cinderella pumpkins (otherwise known as the heirloom pumpkin Rouge V'ifD'Etamp) in stacks of two and three. They are so bright and robust. Very evocative of the bountiful harvest of autumn and very romantic and fairytale-ish, don't you think?

And, the official 'stomping' of the grapes (don't worry, her little feet were clean (: )... so fun. The grapes are from an ancient concord grapevine that runs the length of our garden. It has been here for what seems forever. The wine is bubbling and fermenting in the cellar, and will be ready to rack and bottle in time for Christmas~

In late September, the children and I set up a candle display to sell candles at the Historic Webster Fall Festival, in Webster Township, Dexter. The day was a blustery chilly one, so we were thankful for our warm cozy corner next to the old piano.

We sold soy tin can candles filled with the cozy home scents of Apple Butter and Buttery Corn Bread...

And, candles in all shapes and sizes made with the sweet honey smelling beeswax from our bees. Rows of gleaming homemade jams and jellies sold well on that cold day.

This is a somewhat grainy/blurred picture of my soap booth at Art on the Farm, a wonderful art show at the farm next to ours, filled with highly talented artists of all walks. It was humbling to sell my soaps alongside such talented individuals. The day was so busy that it was difficult to take a drink of water or even re-arrange things into spots that had sold out. Thanks to our neighbor who hosts and organizes the show. She promotes it wonderfully.

After the show, we hurried home to go trick-or-treating. (:

And this? This is our source of many many good tea parties...tea times and where I go to 'select' a teacup or two when a good friend shows up at the door. Does this lend itself to 'She Who Dies With the Most China Wins???" ...I thought so too. (: (I love English tea china...really, you ask?) haha. Which cup/teapot would you choose?

And now, I shall grab a mug from the china collection, have some more coffee, and return to my labors of love for the upcoming season. May the dark weeks ahead fill you with a time for contemplation, creative introspection and warmth and love among your family and friends.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Children and Stress

This is just a quick post, for anyone who might stop by. A reminder. If you have children, remember that it is easy to get caught up in the fast pace of our world. Things are flying by at an unprecedented pace in human history.

How many times do you tell your child to 'hurry up' each day? Be conscious of this today and take a deep breath and wait a little. So, you may be late for whatever lesson, appointment, person you are going to. Are they more important than the mental health of your child? What are you teaching your child? Hurry hurry hurry, for what? I was using the phrase, 'hurry up and die', a lot this past summer...because it seemed so silly that we are all rushing towards....? what? What are we rushing for? But, now I have to rethink this phrase because a classmate from our son's middle school, a beautiful normal 13 year old boy, in our little small farming town of Dexter, has taken his own life this past week. A wake up call to everyone, everywhere. Stop pushing, slow down. The minds and hearts of our children are more important than success.

We are pushing our children too hard. All, and I repeat ALL of this will be waiting for them when they grow up. Why are we pushing so hard?

Relax, wait, be late, breathe, laugh, sit on the couch and read together. Do nothing for once. Slow down. Your children will be all the better for it.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Homeschooling The Road Less Traveled


Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Sometimes you cannot get away from an idea, no...not just an idea...a way of life... no matter how you try to dodge it. You can close your eyes, but it shows up in your dreams. You can try to take other paths, but it meets you at the end of each trail. You can talk of other things, and it presents itself, still, squarely and brazenly in your mind, words and heart.


The word, the concept, the lifestyle came up in talk last year. Certainly if any family desired a homeschooling 'set up' or lifestyle, they would be happy to overtake our life. With a full time farm, huge rambling farmhouse, and every tangible life skill at our disposal, we are all set to teach and learn about anything and everything. Our oldest child wanted to be homeschooled. Our life, he sensed early on, lends itself to the whole homeschooling concept. All summer we, as a family, tossed around the idea. But, my husband and I were public school graduates, former marching band geeks and we had 'subscribed' to the public school system in our heads and hearts. I could picture our oldest walking proudly to Pomp and Circumstance in my mind. So, abandoning these preconceived pictures in my head was a huge mental hurdle to even considering homeschooling. One friend who homeschools said, ' just jump in, you'll never regret it.' She was right. My heart told me at the beginning of this school year that my children needed home and what I could teach them. We jumped.

For four anxious weeks I struggled to grasp this new concept. I spent hours each night and early morning compiling curriculum and then presenting and teaching it to the children, all in conjunction with the advent of our busiest season of apples and cider, harvest, farm store employees and in-laws. I was constantly on 'show' for all to see and 'judge' my homeschooling abilities. I was mortified and stressed and anxious beyond anything I have ever experienced. "This can't be right for us", I reasoned. My dear husband saw my stress and suggested putting the children back in school after four weeks of homeschooling. In a moment of weakness and lack of tangible curriculum-induced anxiety, I succumbed.

We contacted both schools, re-enrolled the children. Our youngest had lost her spot in her school building, and after much combined communication we achieved her comfy spot back with her old teacher and schoolmates.

But, just like the unexpected death of a loved one in a car accident, something was gone that was never coming back: The ease of sending my children down the road on the bus for someone else to teach. Every minute they were gone, I was haunted by the 'what ifs' and the 'why didn't you's?' and reminded that I had abandoned a dream. Strength and dreams go hand in hand. When we believe in our dreams they become reality. We attract the reality and it works! When we believe in our dreams, no matter how silly or far fetched, others begin to believe with and alongside us, and, before we know it...all of a sudden...our dreams become inspiration for others!

The Waldorf educational style, which focuses on embracing the developmental stages of the child and nurturing, presented itself time and again. So much so, that a certified Waldorf teacher whom I had taught to make cheese last winter, showed up on our doorstep ready to educate me on the Waldorf homeschooling methods. Support and encouragement from people I had never met before poured into our lives.

Coincidentally (or not) our entire set of 2nd grade and 8th grade curriculum that had been ordered during our first few week's adventures into homeschooling, arrived in the mail the very 'day' the children went back to school. The boxes sat for two weeks, and then I opened them and gingerly set them out for each child. Amazingly, even after being in school all day, they wanted to work on their education. They worked simultaneously on homeschool curriculum AND went to public school. Admittedly, our oldest was lost somewhere in between and though he has always been a straight A student, I could see his heart and mind choosing sides. His assignments at school began to fall by the wayside, while his love of learning and education at home continued to grow.

We continued this way for the bulk of October, culminating in this final All-Hallows-Eve weekend. I sold soaps at the now-famous Art on the Farm art show next door and then took our youngest trick-or-treating. She had a small cough and sniffles for which I decided to keep her home from school the next day, and we all fell asleep exhausted after her sorting of candy.

Monday dawned fresh and cold, and our 'Closed' sign was placed on the door for cider and apples. There was a quiet hush to the landscape and our home. No employees, no customers. Just the occasional mewing kitten and the stirring of our corn bin drying the harvest across the road. Both children begged, my heart recovered, and my dreams dusted themselves off.

I have failed. But, I try again. We all fail at things everyday. We try again. This is life. Don't stop trying just because you fail, or your dreams will never manifest themselves.

It is with the most sincere and heartfelt apologies (and let me tell you that I see their hardworking faces all too often in my thoughts and prayers and think of them with thanks for the job they strive each day to accomplish) to the dedicated and super-hardworking teachers of our children, that we return to our homeschool journey...a little worn around the edges from taking the beaten path, but ready to journey down the less traveled, colorful and soul strengthening road of life, education and dreams.