Light Footsteps on the Delivering Strength Podcast

I just wanted to make sure that everyone has a chance to catch my episode on the Delivering Strength Podcast (a great resource for anyone who is trying to conceive, pregnant, new to parenthood, or those who love them)!

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It’s a full hour to learn more about Light Footsteps, our farm, and all about the safety of using herbs during the childbearing year.

Take a listen and let me know what you think!  Here’s the link — > https://deliveringstrength.com/2018/11/12/ds-029/

You can also enter for a chance to win a New Mama Mix Box (you get to choose the type of tea and bath blend!) by signing up for my newsletter (here) and the Delivering Strength newsletter (here — scroll to bottom).  The deadline to enter is November 15!

 

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End of Summer – Harvest Moon Gratitude

The turn toward Autumn has me feeling the inward pull to reflect and give thanks for all that has come to pass this summer and since I began envisioning what we would accomplish this year at Imbolc (Feb. 2), the time to plant seeds of intention.

It has truly been a season of abundance — quite a bit of it unexpected — but we are so thankful for all that we have been able to accomplish.

I haven’t blogged about our life/farm in quite some time, but with all the changes and upcoming projects I think this is a nice time to share what we’re up to and the new dreams we have taking shape.

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Valerian Root Tincture

We’re currently potting up some of our young valerian and tincturing some of the older plants.  We’ve got plenty to share with you!  Small pots are $3, medium pots are $5 and large pots are $8.

Valerian grows very tall with beautiful, showy flowers in the summer.

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Valerian is one of my favorite herbs to help bring on peaceful, deep slumber or to relieve anxiety.  I keep it by my bedside to use when I wake up in the middle of the night so I can go back to sleep more quickly.  I also have a blend of valerian mixed with hops and chamomile that is nice to take in preparation for sleep.

Some people say valerian flower can be used to make tincture  (I have made one, but have yet to try it out), but the root is used more traditionally.

We made some tincture today so I thought I would share the process.

In spring, before the plant flowers, dig up the roots of a plant that has been growing for at least a year.  Some people find the smell very unpleasant (like dirty socks), but others don’t seem to mind!

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Margaret helps to wash the root.

Wash the roots very well to remove the dirt.

Chop the roots into smaller pieces.  At this point, they could be placed into the dehydrator to dry for tea, or you can place them into a jar to make a tincture. (It might be worth wearing some gloves for this process in case cutting the roots makes you sleepy!)

Fill the jar 3/4 full with the fresh root (if you’re using dried root to make a tincture, you’d only need to fill it halfway full).

Pour 50% alcohol (I use vodka) to the top of the jar.  Shake regularly and let sit for at least 4 – 6 weeks.

At that point you can strain and bottle and take about a teaspoon before bed.

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I like to suggest to people to start with a smaller amount and work your way up. It is said that about 5-10% of the population actually has the opposite reaction to valerian and it makes them excited!  For sleep troubles, I generally recommend trying 5-10 drops an hour before bed, and repeating the same amount of drops right as you go to sleep.  You can always increase the amount taken if you find you need a little bit more.  The standard dose is closer to a 1 – 1.5 teaspoons.

This is by no means an exhaustive look at valerian. Check out this article for more information and let me know if you have further questions!

If you’re local, come on out and pick up your own pot of valerian to grow in your garden!

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Sage’s Home Birth Story

I’m posting my second birth story because I think women’s experiences of birth are essential to share.  This is true whether the birth went perfectly, was miserable, or anywhere in between.  In sharing our birth stories, we share our power as women and are able to process, learn, and grow. 

Having hung around the birth community enough, I feel the need to say that I share this to educate and inspire, not to belittle any other birth experience.  I want women to know they have choices in their providers, in their birth environment, and I don’t think women usually even consider this until they are pregnant at which point they just assume they should do whatever everyone else has done!  But birth is an event that we’ll never forget and has lifelong impacts on mothers and babies.  It’s important to choose your birth team wisely!  Your birth team and environment may look completely different than mine (and that’s great — I totally understand my path is not right for everyone), but I hope you researched and investigated your options for what is best for YOU.

As with my first home birth, I opted to receive co-care.  This means I went for prenatal visits with a team of hospital-based midwives in addition to my home birth midwife.  I was thoroughly screened to ensure that I am healthy and a good candidate for home birth.  In addition to my amazingly experienced midwife, I also had a doula, my brave mother, my incredibly supportive husband, and my 3.5 year old daughter attend the birth.

If you’re really interested, you can also see my edited birth video. Enter password “sec”. The video is here: https://vimeo.com/223386080.

(Oh, and one final note! All high-quality images are courtesy of Barefoot Smiles Photography.  All other photos were lifted from a home video or came from an iPhone which explains the disparity in quality!)

Sage’s Home Birth Story

This pregnancy was another positive experience overall. There’s nothing that can compare to the feeling of another life growing inside. There were no complications aside from some intense bouts with allergic reactions that I’ve never seen the likes of before!  At one point I spent over a month with a swollen face and extremely itchy hives.  Not fun.

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The last weeks of pregnancy also threw some curve balls – my 3 ½ year old came down with a viral illness in week 38 and my beloved grandma passed in week 39.  I thought there was a very real possibility that I’d be in labor during her funeral as my first born came 5 days “early”. Continue reading

the most wonderful time of the year {spring ephemerals}

Nothing helps to lift me up at the end of a stressful week like spending some time outdoors.

This time of the year in particular is one of my absolute favorites for geeking out with  plants — the ephemeral wildflowers only show up for a short time each year, and it thrills me to find them! As soon as the leaves branch out completely, the forest floor is too dark to support these beauties.

I was worried that I might miss them this year being about to have a baby any day, but I waddled my 39+ week pregnant body to the woods yesterday and was happy to see how much is already in bloom.

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Red trilliums…

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Trout lily after trout lily…

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Spring beauties…

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And the chicken pox queen finding spring beauties, too…She’s getting to be quite good at plant identification!

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Hepatica…

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Virginia bluebells…

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Squirrel corn…

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Cut-leaved toothwort and spring beauties…

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Blue cohosh…

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And of course ramps…

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What spring wildflowers are showing up where you live?

From dark to light. Blessed Imbolc.

Yesterday evening, leaving my midwife’s house after my 4:00 appointment, I exclaimed, “I think this is the first time I’m leaving when it’s still light out!”.

And this morning, while rising to get Cora ready for Montessori school I was similarly taken aback that we weren’t going through our morning routine in the dark.

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The dark.

It feels like there’s a lot of darkness around lately.  I live a relatively insulated life surrounded by people who value peace, equality, and justice, but the difference between my bubble and what actually exists in the world is hard to accept.

And yet, all things in nature, our world, and our human psychology move in cycles from dark to light, dark to light.

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Just as the winter seems like it can’t get any longer, the light begins to return. I hear birds calling where yesterday there were none.  The tracks of awakening creatures scurrying out of their burrows catch my eye when I walk to the compost pile.

And when my inner landscape looks dark, like I can’t face the realities of this world, the realities of how hard it is for me to parent my 3 year old the way that I imagine, then light returns to my heart, too.  I see her smile and tell me I am the best mother.  I feel new life squirming and growing within me. I see people rallying together for the world I believe in.

 

The world that is coming. The world that awaits when old, outmoded structures of being and doing and seeing from a place of fear are finally put to rest. From dark to light.

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The light is returning once again. We are halfway to spring.

Blessed Imbolc.

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(The photo of Brigid on my altar is by Joanna Powell Colbert)

Read last year’s Imbolc post here.

Gather has some awesome examples of Imbolc fare.

 

How One Small Garden Can Change Your Life

You don’t have to own acres of farmland to enjoy the benefits of gardening. Growing your own food and enjoying some fresh flowers can be done even with just a few patio pots if need be, but even a small patch of dirt can change your life for the better. Gardening is the number one hobby in the country, and its popularity is growing as more people discover the joys of growing their own organic food.

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Check out some of the biggest benefits of starting your own backyard garden patch: Continue reading

Everyone’s favorite WWOOFer is back!

 

IMG_20160523_122534854_HDRSince the last time I spent some much needed time at Light Footsteps (read about it here), I’ve finally realized that growing things, and teaching communities how to grow things, is actually really important to me. Because of that, I’ve recently started a journey to becoming an urban farmer. Over the past week, however, I’ve taken a break from stressing over the approaching school year to try out a different season at Light Footsteps. You’ll have to forgive me, because the August humidity has all my thoughts jumbled, so I’ll keep the words short and share some photos of this week with you.

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Most of my mornings were spent spreading wood chips on the paths in the Keyhole Garden

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I finally got to meet Pony. I would hate to make him insecure about his size, but in my mind he’s a horse.

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I spent the cooler afternoons picking herbs (peppermint, thyme, oregano, sage, and lemon balm pictured here)

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or beans!

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luckily there were rainy days

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…and there were a lot of sunny days to share with our pollinator friends.

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The bees really love the Rose of Sharon.

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On a particularly sunny day we went to Red Beet Row to see their permaculture farm.

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There was a lot of child-wrangling during the stay. Pictured is another WWOOFers son, Sebastian.

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Cora has grown up so much since I last saw her! (Photo taken at Chardon’s farmers’ market)

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I finished my week off helping Christine share her love of herbalism at a workshop for kids and adults about medicinal plants.

Like always, you can learn more about WWOOF here. Hope to be back soon, but until then, HAPPY GROWING!

4 Reasons I’m Teaching My Kids to Forage

{Today we have a guest post about foraging from blogger James Smith. James is a passionate blogger who loves to write on trending topics. If he is not doing anything, you will find him writing. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter for more updates}

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I’ll never forget the first foraging outing I took my children on. They were about four and six years old at the time (I opted to leave my two year old with her grandmother for a few hours). Following our guide along the trail we learned all about the local river ecosystem, local history and culture, and got to put our eyes and hands on a wide variety of plants – sharpening our observation skills in the process. The best part, however, was getting a chance to smash open raw ripe pine nuts with rocks right there on the dirt trail – an unforgettable first experience and one my son loved!

Teaching kids to forage local native food has numerous physical as well as psychological benefits.

Children become more aware of their surroundings. Even without a field guide or clear goal, foraging hikes with an experienced guide can help kids with their listening and comprehension skills. It also introduces them to new vocabulary. As they sharpen their observation skills they quickly learn to discern between different types of plants. They also eventually learn to make well-reasoned and well-explained decisions about their choices.

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Foraging Instills compassion and understanding of the local ecosystem

We spend so much of our time indoors that we’ve lost touch with the world around us. We’ve also lost touch with a piece of our humanity that requires connection to nature. By getting outside, and getting dirty, sweaty, and observing our surroundings, we deepen our connection to the planet and the other creatures that live here with us. We learn that birds and other critters love fruits, berries, roots, and nuts too! That common bond we share is one that will help our children have compassion for all the animals and plants in their local environment.

Wild foods are nutritious

Contrary to what you may believe, most foods found at the grocery store, or even the garden varieties we grow ourselves, have been bred for color, taste, and palatability – not nutrition. Wild foods however, are often more nutritious – and this is evident in their, at times, slightly bitter taste. Higher mineral content and micronutrients make wild foraged foods healthy for us and a nice supplement to an already well-balanced modern diet.

Foraging food also helps instill a deep appreciation for the effort it takes to make and prepare foods that haven’t already been conveniently packaged for us at the grocery store. Give kids a rock or two and help them crack open a walnut. Let them grind their own flour from grains and seeds. Teach them how to make their own dried fruit. Make them climb and reach to pick fruit from the trees, or dig in the dirt for roots and tubers.

Let them truly experience the amount of activity and effort that goes into shelling one nut or grinding up their own grain for bread-baking. Once they know how much effort goes into it, they’ll begin to learn empathy for others who work on a daily basis to bring them their food at the grocery store in nicely packaged containers.

Wholesome exercise

There’s no mistaking that foraging is hard work. Even at a leisurely guided tour pace, hiking outdoors, trekking up and down hills and across rivers and bridges, is certainly a nice workout – and one that deserves all the tasty wild fuel you’ll find. Carry a walking stick for stability and encourage your children to go at their own pace.

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A few final thoughts. When foraging out in the wild and in unfamiliar areas, be sure to keep a lookout for poisonous and irritating plants and animals. Stay on the trails as much as possible to avoid disturbing native wildlife. Wear loose, weather-appropriate clothing in layers to protect against the sun and any stinging and biting insects. Wear comfortable shoes with a strong grip. Pack a small first aid kit to cover the basics in case of minor cuts and falls. Also, be sure to bring lots of water and healthy snacks to keep you hydrated and energized.

New to permaculture? Start here.

What’s it like to fairly take care of people and the earth? It’s a concept called permaculture, and it can provide a guiding spirit to the creation and tending of your landscape.

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