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Michaelmas

 

As days grow short

hearts grow bright.

Saint Michael with his sword

shines out against the night…

Heinz Ritter

 

The above is an excerpt from a poem in Celebrating Festivals with Children by Freya Jaffke.

For those asking, what is Michaelmas?  It’s a day, at the end of September that marks the time of year when the light & intensity of summer has dwindled.  In the Northern hemisphere the days grow shorter and colder. It’s a time when we look inward and learn from the story of the archangel Michael & the dragon.  The Bible speaks of Michael hurling the dragon (Satan) out of heaven.  The idea of an angel symbolizing all that is light and good, vanquishing evil is something all of us must do in our own inner lives.  Simply put, it is casting out inner dragons.  What are the dragons we cast out?  What thoughts are not filled with light?  Do they serve us?  It’s an inner work that is especially important for those that live in cold and snowy climates.  When days are spent inside keeping warm, inner joy, light and the courage and strength that the archangel Michael symbolizes is so important to see us through.

Children learn about Michaelmas through story & activity.  One of the activities we enjoy in our home is making the Michaelmas candle.  The Michaelmas candle is written about in All Year Round, A Calendar of Celebrations.

 

You can buy or make your own candle to use for Michaelmas.  We chose to roll candles this year.

 

My son Michael drew a dragon on paper and then while I cut the beeswax dragon scales & spikes he put it all together.  The thin sheets of beeswax warms with your touch and easily sticks to the candle.

 

Michael cut out the stars at the top with a wax cutter. On Michaelmas, September 29th, the candle is lit.  Last year I was so impressed to hear my six year old son exclaim, “Mom! The flame is St. Michael’s sword and he’s defeating the dragon!”  The Michaelmas candle is a reminder to hold the light of good inside.

Do you celebrate Michaelmas in your home?   What does Michaelmas mean to you? What are your cherished Michaelmas traditions?

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Comforting herbs/spices hot drink recipes

I don’t know if you are like me, but when autumn arrives  I loOoove to be home, cozy with my little candle illuminated in the dark night. I prepare for myself a nice, hot, herbal  drink…Mmmmmm!!! I love herbal tea, and for many years now, medicinal plants have been part of my life almost every day. I love to be able to heal myself and the ones I cherish the most with herbs that are given to us and grow freely in  nature. I find they are so precious  So, let me share with you today two of my favourite “ heart-warming” drinks.

 

** Chocolate spices chaï

The first drink is not really made with herbs but with spices.

Spices are great for their “carminative” effect, that being the way they help digestion to be really efficient. This particular drink is also going to warm you from  inside with the help of the natural essential oils that the spices contain. They will also re-establish a good “fire” to your digestion. It is a great idea to drink this after a meal or a walk outside. I also find that for one with a “sweet tooth” {Are you like me?? Ah!Ah!},  it can help satisfy you without going for a big dessert!

 

What you will need:

~Milk: Can be regular cow’s milk,  soya, rice or almond…choose the one you prefer.

~Dark hot chocolate mix: From Cocoa Camino {such a great quality of chocolate}

~Fresh spices: 2 tbs. cardamom, 2 stick of cinnamon, 2 tbs. fennel, 1 tbs. ginger and a glimpse of cayenne pepper.

 

 

The way I do it is that I put ½ water ½ milk in a 2 quart saucepan and I heat it on the stove until it is warm. Please don’t boil it ! Then, I add the spices {all of them except the cayenne pepper} placed in a little tea bag {so it’s easier to take them out afterward} that I previously grounded by hand in a mortar to open all the great flavours the spices keep inside their shells.  Keep the liquid warm and let it rest for about 45 minutes. The flavours are going to be delicately infused in the milk….so smell it, enjoy the process !! {I always take a moment to be there with my infusion and be conscious that this is for me, this is a moment where I’m creating a special space for myself…. and be happy!! Life goes by so quickly that we often don’t take the time for special moments like this one…}. Then, I remove the spices,  add the chocolate mixture and mix it up very well. You can choose to use 2 tbsp or more of chocolate… it is as you wish!!! At the very last minute, I do add a pinch of cayenne pepper.

There you go…I love to enjoy this drink while I’m wrapped up in a warm blanket after my daughter is asleep …and I knit slowly, relaxed, on the couch….

 

** Comforting peaceful herb tea

The second drink is an herbal tea…. one of my special blends!! I will give you a brief description of the medicinal plant characteristics. Because, we could talk for a whole day about the properties of just one of them Ah!Ah! …so, this description will only give you a brief idea of their qualities.

 

Herbs you will need:

~Nettle , Urtica dioica : I’m totally in loOoove with this herb. It is so special, so strong…and brings many minerals  to your body. In this way,  it is definitely one of the most nutritious plants you can use. It’s good for almost everything !!!

~Oats (green flowering) , Avena sativa : This is another nutritive herb that will particularly nourish your nervous system… and who do you know in our era that doesn’t need a little nervous support, hey?! It carries a lot of minerals also.

~Peppermint , mentha x piperita: I add this for it’s great taste, and also the fact that it helps digestion with its essential oils. It is a great plant to help open the respiratory tract {lungs, sinus…}.

~Green Anise seeds , pimpinella anisum: I add it  for taste, as it tastes a bit like black licorice {which is something I love very much}. If you are not a fan, just don’t add it. Your tea is going to be delicious anyway. You will be using the seeds that you are delicately going to grind either in a mortar and pestle or in a coffee grinder. Please wash the grinder before using it so your seeds won’t taste like coffee in the end. It is filled with essential oils that also help digestion and gas problems.

~Holy basil , tenuiflorum ocimum: This plant is going to warm your heart and  open it. It brings Joy !!!! It will help you to see clearly when your head is in a “haze”. This herb is sometimes hard to find, so you will need to go to a herbalist to get this precious herb. You will not add as much of holy basil as the others.

The way I do it is that at night I bring my water to a boil {again in my favorite 2 quarts saucepan!!} and then turn everything off. I add nettle leaves and oats {1-2 handfuls each} to infuse for the whole night. Because they are nutritive plants, letting them infuse for 6-8 hours is going to bring out all the minerals they contain. Then,  in the morning,  I either take out the leaves or leave them in and heat it up a bit {do not boil the water} then I turn it off. I then add all the other herbs {peppermint 1 handful; holy basil 1 full tbs} and seeds {anise seeds 2 tbs. previously grounded}.  Leave them infuse for about ½ an hour with the lid on… and then enjoy !!!

Feel free to give me your feedback about those two drinks…I would love to read them !!

Wishing you and yours a beautiful autumn… and winter season!!

Warm regards,

~Julie

 

 

     Julie Ouimet is from Québec, Canada. She

     lives with her daugther,  in a little town in harmony with nature.

     Creating is her passion, a way of life !!! She cultivates the earth during the warm season

     and creates lovely waldorf inspired toys the whole year long…

     You can visit her shop at FeeVertelaine.

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The Story of Hugin and his Carrot

Recently, we attended a Harvest Celebration at my daughter’s Waldorf school, and during the presentation, they did a Thanksgiving puppet show: “The Story of Hugin and his Carrot.”
My daughter LOVES this story/show, so I asked her teacher for a copy of it (there wasn’t one, it was a story she had memorized from years ago). It seems to be a spin off of Tolstoy’s story, “The Turnip,” except instead of needing a turnip to make a lantern, Hugin is trying to pull a carrot for a Thanksgiving Day soup.

We wish those who celebrate a very Happy Thanksgiving, and those who do not a very happy Thursday!

~The Story of Hugin and his Carrot~

Once upon a time there was a little boy named Hugin and he wanted a carrot to make a soup for Thanksgiving, so he went out into the garden and planted a carrot-seed and he said,

“Carrot, carrot, grow for me
Grow as big as big can be
That on Thanksgiving Day we’ll eat
A soup that tastes of carrots sweet.”

So the carrot grew and grew and nearly filled the garden. Then, Hugin went to pull the carrot up. And he pulled and he pulled… but the carrot did not budge an inch.

Then a Bear came by and asked ’What are you doing Hugin?’
And Hugin replied, “I am pulling up a carrot.

Bear, Bear pull with me,
Pull as hard as hard can be
That on Thanksgiving Day we’ll eat
A soup that tastes of carrots sweet!”

So Bear pulled Hugin, and Hugin pulled the carrot; and they pulled, and they pulled… but the carrot didn’t budge an inch.

Just a Fox came along and asked ”What are you doing Bear?” And Bear replied ”I am helping Hugin to pull his carrot.” And Hugin said

“Foxy, Foxy pull with me,
Pull as hard as hard can be
That on Thanksgiving Day we will eat
A soup that tastes of carrots sweet!”

So Fox pulled Bear, and Bear pulled Hugin and Hugin pulled the carrot. They pulled and they pulled, but the carrot did not budge an inch.

Just then a Hare came by and asked ’What are you doing Fox?” And Fox replied “I am helping Bear to help Hugin to pull up a carrot.” And Hugin said

“Hare, Hare pull with me,
Pull as hard as hard can be
That on Thanksgiving Day we will eat
A soup that tastes of carrots sweet!”

So Hare pulled Fox, and Fox pulled Bear and Bear pulled Hugin and Hugin pulled the carrot and they pulled and they pulled but… the carrot didn’t budge an inch.

Just then a Mouse came by and asked ’What are you doing Hare?” And Hare replied “I am helping Fox to help Bear to help Hugin to pull up a carrot.” And Hugin said

“Mouse, Mouse pull with me,
Pull as hard as hard can be
That on Thanksgiving Day we will eat
A soup that tastes of carrots sweet!”

So Mouse pulled Hare, and Hare pulled Fox, and Fox pulled Bear and Bear pulled Hugin and Hugin pulled the carrot and they pulled and they pulled but… the carrot didn’t budge an inch.

Just then a Caterpillar came by and asked ’What are you doing Mouse?” And Mouse replied “I am helping Hare to help Fox to help Bear to help Hugin to pull up a carrot.” And Caterpillar said, “But does Hugin know the right way to pull up a carrot? Did he first ask its Root Gnome if he might?”

Then Hugin bent down and put his mouth close to the ground and called,

“Gnome, good Root Gnome
May I take your carrot home?
Then on Thanksgiving Day we‘ll eat
A soup that tastes of carrots sweet?”

And at once a little Root Gnome popped up his brown head out of the ground and said, “Good gracious me, Hugin, why didn’t you tell me? All this time I’ve been pulling the other way. Now pull again!”

And he popped back his brown head into the ground.

So Caterpillar pulled Mouse, and Mouse pulled Hare, and Hare pulled Fox, and Fox pulled Bear, and Bear pulled Hugin, and Hugin pulled the carrot. And suddenly Mouse sat down backwards with a bang on Caterpillar, and Hare sat down backwards with a bang on Mouse, and Fox sat down backwards with a bang on Hare, and Bear sat down backwards with a bang on Fox, and Hugin sat down backwards with a bang on Bear with the biggest, orange, chubbiest carrot in his hands that ever anyone saw!

Then Hugin got up and said ”Sorry!” to Bear, and Bear got up and said “Sorry” to Fox, and Fox got up and said “Sorry” to Hare, and Hare got up and said “Sorry” to Mouse, and Mouse got up and said “Sorry” to Caterpillar.

And nobody was hurt, and everybody laughed “Ha-Ha-Ha“ and Hugin made a carrot soup.

THE END!!!!!!

Recreate the story yourself with these characters from our Natural Kids Team members!

Hugin –      Bear –

Fox –      Hare –

Mouse –      Caterpillar –

Carrot –

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Halloween Doesn’t Have to be Hellish

Way back when my husband & I were first married, we were the creeps on the street who turned our lights off on Halloween.  We weren’t trying to be nasty adults; we just felt that in a society that tended to err on the side of over-consumption, sending children out to fill plastic pumpkins with sugar seemed over the top.  We hid the holiday from our oldest child for a couple of years – one year going to a cabin, one year simply going to bed.  But last year we started what will hopefully become our Halloween tradition.

A week or so before Halloween we made fall lanterns.  They sat dark in our kitchen for the nights leading up to Halloween.  The day before Halloween, we carved jack-o-lanterns.  These, too, sat dark in our kitchen. I can’t say when, but sometime during the afternoon of Halloween the pumpkins went missing.  (And yes, they were missed.)  As twilight set in, we ceremoniously lit our autumn lanterns and paraded up to our forest.  (We live in town on a half-acre.  We do have a wee patch of woods in our back yard, but to our son, it’s a forest.)  And what did we find?  Jack-o-lanterns a-glow among the stumps.  With darkness settling, we sat and watched our flames and listened for our neighborhood great horned owl.  What next?  Tell a story, sing a song, drink hot cider, or simply be.  To me, that is magic.

You too can make your own autumn lantern!  It’s easy and beautiful.  Dig out an old Mason jar (any size will work but the small, squat ones are perfect for smaller hands).  Unearth some tissue paper – you can use white and paint it with autumnal colors after it’s affixed to the lantern, or go ahead and use red, orange and yellow tissue paper.  Paint the jar with Mod-Podge.  Stick on the tissue paper.  Let dry.  Paint another coat or two of Mod-Podge, letting it dry between coats.  If you’ve used white tissue paper, paint it.  Twist a thin-gauge wire around the neck of the jar to make a handle.  Place a tea light in the jar (a bit of sand will hold it in place nicely) and behold: autumnal magic.

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Harvest Time Gift Guide is now ready!


 

 

 

 

The Autumn harvest is a time of shortening days, falling leaves, apple cider, and hay rides.  We hope you enjoy these wonderful picks from the NaturalKids Team that embody the essence of Autumn.

Let us know below if see anything that you just love, or if there was something you wish was offered – we have lots of members who love the challenge of new or unusual items!

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Fletcher and the Falling Leaves

My girls and I picked this sweet book out at the library this week… it’s already a favorite. It tells the story of Fletcher the fox and his favorite tree.

Fletcher begins to notice “The world was changing. Each morning, when Fletcher bounded out of the den, everything seemed just a little bit different.” He begins to notice the once green forest turning to rich shades of gold… including his favorite tree, which was beginning to look “dull, dry and brown”.

Fletcher becomes very worried about his tree, not understanding the changes of autumn. He does everything he can to protect his tree’s leaves from being taken by the woodland animals and blown away by the wind
But, of course, try as he might every last leaf falls from the tree. In the end, autumn’s gold is replaced by the glittering icicles of winter and Fletcher declares “You are more beautiful than ever”.

This is such a  wonderful book to highlight the changing seasons, full of soft, warm images. And, it’s one that I love to read, just as much as my  girls love me reading it to them.

Fletcher and the Falling Leaves is available here, or check your local library.

Julie Hunter is a single mama raising 3 spirited girls, two babydoll sheep, angora rabbits and a gaggle of chickens and ducks in the North Carolina Foothills. She spends her days at home, crafting with her children, homeschooling, taking long gathering walks in the woods and knitting Waldorf-inspired toys. You can find her blogging and keeping shop at This Cosy Life.

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Marking Seasonal Transitions

As we begin to enter yet another seasonal shift, transition has been on my mind. In many subtle ways we shift easily into one season and out of another, with a change of clothing, adjustment of temperature in our homes, perhaps a new variety of foods grace our tables. But, how are you celebrating and marking the seasonal shifts with your children? Are you bringing their attention to signs and changes? Are you making them aware of how these shifts affect them in their own spirits? All too often we are disconnected from the natural world and we loose sight of what it all means and how it really affects us. We are unprepared for the pull of the season on our spirit and loose our balance with nature.

A dear friend wrote to me recently, stumped on marking the seasonal transitions and making them meaningful for her family. I gave this much thought and wrote back to her with some different ways we bring focus to the changing seasons in my home. I would like to share some of the points of my letter to her with you here.

Right now in the northern hemisphere we are about to go into Autumn. The equinox is on the 23rd of September. But how about beginning some preparations now? In our home we have a nature shelf. We don’t have space for a table and my toddler would make it impossible to have one right now, anyway. A shelf, placed in a focal spot of the home, is a good alternative. Make sure your children, that you feel are old enough to handle things gently and respectfully, are able to reach it so that they may contribute little things they find as they want to.

On it we place any items that represent the season to us. Some are items we buy or mama makes, but much of it is things my girls and I have made together or we have found when gathering.  You could begin by going out for gathering expeditions. Gather up and encourage your children to do the same, anything you think speaks of autumn and you could use in crafting.  The Children’s Year is an excellent resource for seasonal crafts.
You can go ahead and begin creating things together for your nature table (or shelf), putting them aside until fall is actually here. For my own children this builds up an excitement and awareness of the changing season and they keep  wondering ‘Is Fall here, yet?’ Going out and gathering, looking for certain things that say fall to them make them eagerly on the lookout for the subtle changes that occur.

On the night before the equinox or solstice I pull everything from our shelf, so, when they wake in the morning it’s ready to be filled with all of the things we have been collecting and making. It’s such a joy to see all of the new things up and things that I have purchased or made without showing it to them previously, that they are not sad to see the other things go away.

Also, I have explained to my children what is occurring with the sun (waning days) and during the various times of the yr, as they wax and wan, my girls  have become very aware of this. Even with young children you can talk to them about it in the simplest of terms just to make them aware. Maybe say something at a certain point each evening (dinner?) about where the sun is that day and eventually they will catch on that the days have gotten shorter or longer. It could become a little ritual. The point is, to draw their attention to these seasonal changes so they can experience them and be connected.
Another way we mark the transition is through food. I’ve mentioned here before, for breakfast we have eggs and toast one day and oatmeal the next, and we go back and forth. Once or twice a week we change it up with muffins or biscuits or fruit smoothies… things like that. But as the seasons shift I like to include something very seasonally specific. Such as, often with our muffins this summer we put berries in them, strawberries, blueberries. For fall we will make apple muffins, letting the girls help me chop and I always love to do just about anything with pumpkin! Just little additions that bring a little bit of the season to the table.

Gentle, subtle changes in your home are going to make your children aware of the changes that are occurring and will help your whole family find balance with nature.

There is a part two to my letter to my friend, a few thought on seasonal festivities and how we can relate to them, regardless of religious/spiritual leanings. I will be sure to follow up with that  next week.

 

Julie Hunter is a single mama raising 3 spirited girls, two babydoll sheep, angora rabbits and a gaggle of chickens and ducks in the North Carolina Foothills. She spends her days at home, crafting with her children, homeschooling, taking long gathering walks in the woods and knitting Waldorf-inspired toys. You can find her blogging and keeping shop at This Cosy Life.

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Oh what beautiful things you can find on Etsy!

‘A Handmade Harvest’ by theenchantedcupboard

I just love this time of year!


Autumn Leaf Child T…

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Heart of the Fall F…

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Green Acorn Pocketd…

$17.50

Noodle stoneware Se…

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Boston Beanies Cott…

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Pumpkins for Fall, …

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Colorblocked in Cha…

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Acorn Girl Bendy Do…

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Carrot House Play S…

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Fox and Dragonfly C…

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Autumn Crochet Pump…

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Tiny Acorns -8 doze…

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Fall Pixie

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Leaf Acorn Charm Br…

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Lovely Autumn Tree …

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