holding a little piece of creation in your hands

This weekend, I will begin some indoor starts for spring and summer veggies and herbs.  It is quite possibly one of my favorite activities on this little farm, for it is humbling to hold a little piece creation in your hands and nurture the journey known as “life.”

This year, my order from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange arrived on Christmas Eve.  This gardening girl couldn’t ask for a better gift!  I love everything about these little goodies–their artistic packages, their earthy smell, their distinctive shapes and sizes.  Ask my daughter–when the seeds arrive at our home, I’m like a kid on Halloween.

Typically, I don’t celebrate the New Year by staying up until midnight or hanging out with friends.  You can usually find me on my couch with my gardening journal deciding what will be planted first and how I’m going to maximize the space in my little indoor greenhouse.  It has become a symbolic celebration of sorts, honoring my stepping into another year and a new season of growth.

By mid-January, I find that I am beside myself with excitement.  I cannot wait any longer, and I pick a weekend to begin the first starts.  Preparation is a bit of a ritual for me, one that is sacred and involves intention and mindfulness.  In its own way, starting the seeds is a prayer ritual just like canning.  It is not something to be rushed or multitasked.  It is an opportunity for me to celebrate the great Gardener and Creator and the invitation I’ve received to be involved in creation care.

seed starts supplies

As I sit here this morning writing this meditation, I find my spirit smiling and my heart peaceful.  What a delight and honor it is to engage in such a simple act but one that resonates so deeply in my soul.

 

 

 

this season, let’s thanks-give

Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action~W.J. Cameron

Thanksgiving was never meant to be shut up in a single day.  ~Robert Caspar Lintner

If you have been following me for awhile, you know that I am a believer in “just be”–not going out and doing so much that I get overwhelmed or overextended; rather, I have learned from my little farm how to just be with Nature and the Creator which in turn has calmed my spirit and led me down new paths I would never have imagined.

And yet, in this new role of just being, there is one place in my heart that has taken on more “doing,” and that is thanks-giving.

I put a hyphen there so that you will see the word for what it is–an action.  It’s not a simply a state of mind, it’s not meant to be an afterthought.  It is a way of life.love shadow

Now, I will admit, it is hard to give thanks when Japanese beetles decimate your yard or a raccoon terrorizes your chickens.  But before farming and gardening, I would have been emotionally devastated at both, and more than likely refused to plant grapes again or take on a new set of chicks in the spring.

Connecting with Creation has taught me more about life’s blessings than any other path I’ve journeyed. I’ve learned to slow down and be grateful for the small things, and I’ve come to appreciate all of God’s blessings in the day-to-day.  What I’ve discovered out there on the farm is that we receive gifts every day–yes, every day–if we are open to recognizing them and appreciating them.

But I’ve got a secret for you–the key to the joy and fulfillment of the Creator’s blessings is this:  living a life filled with gratitude for all of those gifts each day.  Not just holding it in your heart and keeping it to yourself; rather, it’s about being appreciative in word and deed.  Not just thanking your Creator for what you’ve been given; rather, showing your Maker how grateful you are by paying it forward.

So while I am still singing the praises of “just be,” I’m also embracing a life filled with “just thanks-give.”  I hope you will too.

growing grace farm’s cinnamon honey applesauce

You know Mother Nature, she is bountiful one season then rests the next.  Last year, we had not a one appleapples2 on any of the trees on our family property.  This year, however, we were able to gather three cloth grocery bags full in 20 minutes, and that’s only the low hanging fruit (plus, a few good tugs on the branches to “encourage” the larger apples up top to fall).    Needless to say, while I complete other tasks after work this week, I will be keeping both the crock pot and the big soup pot busy!  Seemed appropriate to repost this recipe~enjoy!

 

Two years ago, we had an apple bumper crop.  I harvested buckets full of apples at my parents’ cabin and started making my own version of applesauce.  I’m not a fan of white sugar and fully appreciate the healing properties of honey so I decided to substitute.  A little cinnamon later, and I’d created something that tasted great to me but would probably not be sweet enough for anyone else. 

Well, I was wrong.

After a few jars visited the homes of friends with children, I discovered that honey was the trick.  Kids loved the flavor and texture, and parents were happy they weren’t eating so much sugar.  Every summer, children have their parents ask me when I’ll start making my applesauce.  Well, let the season begin!

Growing Grace Farm’s Honey Cinnamon Applesauce

Ingredients:

15 small apples (or the equivalent), cored, chopped and peeled

1 cup of honey, divided (or less honey if so desired)

juice of half an orange

Cinnamon

Preparation:

1.  In a slow cooker, place all the chopped apples.

2.  Sprinkle with juice and pour in half cup of honey.  Stir.

3.  Sprinkle cinnamon to taste (I put approximately 1 tsp).  Stir.

4.  Cover and cook in slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours.  It will be a nice light brown color, and that’s ok.

5.  It should be bubbling if you want to can it. (If you decide to can, squeeze the juice of one lemon in the applesauce).

6.  Before storing or canning, add the second half cup of honey and shake some more cinnamon in.  Stir.

7.  Store in containers in refrigerator up to 2 weeks or can.

8.  For canning, I do a boiling water bath for 10 minutes with cans, make sure the applesauce is bubbling, put in jars, then place in clean boiling water bath for 15 minutes.  Do not forget the lemon juice.

Do not be surprised how much the apples “cook down.”  Sadly, I’d hoped to get several jars out of this number of apples today, but I ended up with 32 oz.  The upside is how easy it is to make so there will be more jars on our shelf (or on friends’ tables) by the end of the week!