Little Green Tomatoes

Tiny Seeds of Goodness


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Little Bits of Goodness – December 9

Pull up close by the fire my friends,

I’ll pour ye a cup o’ cider!

We’ll talk and we’ll laugh, we’ll toast, my friends,

Wassail – Waes Hael – Be Well, Good Health!

And Blessings to the Trees!

Wassail!  Lift ye cup o’ cider!

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Wassail , from Old English waes hael, is a beverage made of fruit juices, most commonly apple juice or cider, and spices, slowly heated and served warm.  The Old English waes hael means “be healthy”.  The ancient tradition of “wassailing” included singing, toasting, and drinking the beverage – to the health of the villagers and to the health of the apple trees, blessing the trees in the hopes of bountiful harvests to come.  I like the idea of acknowledging and showing appreciation for the bounty that Gaia provides! For without that bounty, where would we be?

Holiday Wassail

  • 48 ounces apple juice
  • 48 ounces cranberry juice
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • ¾ cup brown sugar

Place cloves in a mesh tea basket.  Add apple and cranberry juice to a large saucepan. Dissolve brown sugar in the juices.  Simmer until hot over low heat with cinnamon sticks and clove basket. If you need to keep the wassail warm for an extended perior of time, transfer to pre-warmed slow cooker, low setting.

Serve in glass mugs and garnish with a fresh cinnamon stick & orange wheel.

Wassail can be stored in refrigerator for up to one week. Remove and discard cinnamon sticks and cloves prior to storing in refrigerator.

P.S. The house will smell like heaven!  This is a great beverage to serve for a holiday open house – your guests will be greeted with the delicious yuletide aroma upon arrival!


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Little Bits of Goodness – December 7

Be kind whenever possible

It is always possible

– Dalai Lama –

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 Don’t forget you-know-who when you’re doing your holiday baking! Woof!

Peanut Butter Pup Cookies

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup oatmeal, plain, uncooked
  • ½ cup powdered buttermilk
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter – with oil well incorporated (be careful NOT to use peanut butter that’s sweetened with xylitol – xylitol is toxic to dogs)
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup water

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add peanut butter, honey, and eggs. Beat on low until well combined. Gradually add water, beating until dough holds together.

Place dough on large sheet of parchment paper & cover with a second large sheet of parchment paper.  Using a rolling pin, roll out until dough is about ½ thick.  Slide parchment with dough on to a large cookie sheet and chill in refrigerator for 1 hour.

Remove dough from refrigerator, remove top parchment.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Using a bone shaped cookie cutter (or any fun shape(s) of your choice), cut out cookies and place on a  parchment-lined baking sheet.  You can also use a cap from a soda or water bottle to make small rounds. Gather up extra dough pieces and roll out again or roll into small balls and flatten with your thumb. Use up all that luscious dough!

Bake 1 hour. Cool on rack.  Recipe makes about 20 bone-shaped cookies, 3” long.

Cheese Please Doggie Snacks 

  • 1 cup oatmeal, plain, uncooked
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ cups hot chicken broth, low sodium or no-salt
  • ½ cup powdered buttermilk
  • 1 cup (4 oz.) grated cheddar cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour

Combine oatmeal, oil, and water (or hot broth) in a large mixing bowl.  Let stand 5 minutes. Stir in powdered buttermilk, grated cheese, salt & egg. Add cornmeal and wheat germ. Mix well.  Add flour, about a half a cup at a time, incorporating well each time. After all the flour is incorporated, knead 3 to 4 minutes to make a very stiff dough.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

Roll out dough to about ½ inch thickness. Using a bone shaped cookie cutter (or any other shape(s) of your choice), cut out snacks, placing on lightly greased cookie sheet. You can also use a cap from a soda or water bottle to make small rounds. Gather up extra dough pieces and roll out again or roll into small balls and flatten with your thumb. Use up all that luscious dough!

Bake for 1 hour at 300 degrees. Turn off heat and leave the snacks in the oven for 1 hour or longer.  Recipe makes about 2 pounds of snacks.


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Little Bits of Goodness – December 2

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.

– Robert Brault –

 Hmmmm……I can think of a bunch of little things to enjoy about small batch hand-made soaps.  To name a few – the colors, the shapes, the creamy lather, the lovely aromas, and, if you read the labels, many are vegan, they are not tested on animals, they are made with natural oils & milks, contain no sulfates, and are scented with essential oils – not chemical fragrances. And who couldn’t benefit from a little grin and a giggle when that sudsy little bar escapes and surfs across the counter top or swirls around the sink?  Remember, enjoy the little things……

Even though I’ve often thought it would be cool to make my own soap, I’ll probably never get around to it, so I’m content to buy from people who know what they’re doing.  I buy most of mine from the local berry farm – I know, who would think, right? There are also a couple of goat’s milk soap makers at nearby farmer’s markets, and their soap is lovely as well. I’ve never ordered on-line. I need to smell before I buy!

A friend who was visiting a few years ago purchased the cute soap dish in the photo from a local artisan shop. She left it on my bathroom counter, along with a nice bar of soap, for me to find after she had gone.  What a nice surprise!

There are video tutorials on-line, and loads of ideas on the web for making your own soap dishes from air-dry or oven-dry craft clay.  Crafty kids might like to make a simple soap dish for their teachers, or for auntie, or for family / friends who may be house guests during the holiday season.

Happy Holidays, and, perhaps, Happy Lathering!


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Little Bits of Goodness – December 1

Each day comes bearing its own gifts.  Untie the ribbons!

– Ruth Ann Schabacker –

 

Holiday Greetings to You!

Is there Someone in Your Life who could use a good excuse to slow down & snuggle up with a good book on a Winter’s afternoon?

Could that Someone even be You?

Do you have a favorite book by a local author?  Perhaps you have a treasured book on your shelf that you would like to share with a loved one?

 Inscribe a dated personal message inside.  Include a hand-made bookmark, or a length of beautiful ribbon.  Pair with a soft throw or a small quilt and wrap both in a lovely bow. Include a message in your best handwriting – “Untie the ribbon and enjoy the Gift in The Day!”

If you are interested in finding / reading “local”, independent bookstores usually have a section devoted to writers from the area.  Art & craft galleries often sell self-published books by regional writers.  And gift shops / visitor’s centers at state & national parks in the U.S. sell books written by regional folks as well.  Many of these locations have special holiday events with author signings, food, wine, or music.  Shopping with small businesses and shopping local not only supports your local economy, but the experience of it is also a gift to yourself!

So, if shopping in an Indie bookstore with a really catchy name appeals to you (as it does to me!), here are a few of my favorites.  Although nothing can really compare to browsing through the stacks & taking in the ambience of the space, I believe most sell books on-line as well. (Just to be clear, NO kickbacks, commissions, or credits for me here! These are simply independent booksellers that I personally enjoy shopping with.)

Battenkill Books – Cambridge, NY

Flyleaf Books – Chapel Hill, NC

McIntyre’s Books @ Fearrington Village – Pittsboro, NC

Persnickety Books – Burlington, NC

Purple Crow Books – Hillsborough, NC

Scuppernong Books – Greensboro, NC

 

 


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Little Bits of Goodness – Advent 2018

Happy Holidays!

I’ll be posting a little Gift of Inspiration for each day of Advent 2018.

Simple ways to put a bit of Goodness into The World

Quotes that embody the Spirit of the Season

Ideas that spring from my personal principle of “Triple G” – Good for Gaia, Good for the Giver, Good for the Getter

I hope you will find some inspiration here.

** Perhaps an idea for a Little Gift of Goodness for someone in Your Life **

** Perhaps a treat for Yourself **

** Perhaps a little Time together with A Loved One **

** Perhaps a way to show support for a local Business or Artist or Farmer who works hard to make The World a better place **

** Perhaps you will find Peace, Joy, or Timeless Wisdom in one of the daily quotes **

Whatever it may be – please accept my wishes for Happy Holidays and Abundant Simple Goodness!

Oh Holly Tree,

How bountiful laden with fruit are thee!

~ Nib Loblolly ~


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Of a Frosty Morn

It twas a wee bit frosty here this morning – alright, downright cold – but the clear blue sky and the golden light beckoned to me and encouraged me to bring my camera!

I continue to be amazed by the abundant seasonal beauty that reveals itself on this little patch of ground.  It was the chickens and the dogs who drew me in to it initially.  And I thank them for it.

 

As a child, I was an avid observer of nature – the environment surrounding a space, the sounds, the smells, the light.  I would spend hours wandering about my grandparent’s farm, observing the sheep from a perch on the pasture gate, exploring the barn, the edges of field, the garden…..swinging endlessly on the old wooden swing beneath the branches of a stout maple tree….dozing on the porch swing, enveloped in the crisp clean scent of the bridal wreath blossoms, listening to the bees busily collecting pollen and nectar.

Early and mid adulthood took me in other directions, and while I still always enjoyed my time outdoors in nature – in my yard, on walks, during vacation trips – I became more of a traveler through it, most of the time with a destination in mind or a task to be completed.

And then, at about age 50, the chickens and the dogs brought me back to nature; encouraged me to linger there – to just be.

Look up, look down, look closely.

Be aware of the sounds, the songs, and the warning calls of the wild birds.

Feel the curve of the dogwood tree that perfectly cradles my back when I lean against it.

Notice the abundance all around. 

I began to take note of how the tension in my neck and shoulders eased upon arrival.  How it was easier to straighten my spine, pull my shoulders back, and take a deep breath.  How the sounds of the hens cooing and clucking, scratching and pecking, soothed my frayed edges.  How observing the dogs using all of their senses – to communicate with one another and to detect the environmental details of their surroundings – reminds me that there is wisdom far greater than ours all around us, each day, each minute, each second.

This morning I spent some time resting back against the dogwood tree.

Listening to the wild birds and the squirrels going about their business.

Drinking in the golden light.

Remembering the hens and the pups who gently pulled me back to linger awhile with Mother Nature. 

And I thanked them for it.


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Remembering Ricky

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I found this delicate little bird’s nest last week, lying in the yard under one of the Willow Oaks.  I say “found”, but it really seemed as though it was placed there for me to see.  Such a tiny little work of art, with a tiny little oak leaf laying perfectly along the bottom, the entire inside lined with Ricky’s fur.

Ricky left more than his fair share of German Shepherd fur strewn about the house and the yard during shedding season.  After he died this summer, I gathered and scattered the fur he left behind on his bed. I dropped some under the Apple Tree, where he loved to pick up apples and eat them.  I scattered some under the Maple Tree, where we laid him in the shade when he couldn’t walk anymore.  I scattered some among the Creeping Phlox, where we would find him laying amongst the lavender flowers, even though I would grumble and scold him for crushing my treasured “purple flowers”. He would turn his ears and look away, as if to say, “Mission accomplished!  You’re here, standing beside me, paying attention to me.  That’s all I ever wanted.”

I held some up in the palm of my hand, at twilight, and let the breeze take it. 

And now, in late October, two weeks after the remains of Hurricane Michael blew through and tossed trees and limbs to the ground, this tiny nest is resting, intact, on the grass, as if it just fluttered down from its perch in the tree.  Carefully and lovingly crafted by a mother and perhaps a father to be a snug, cozy cradle for their little ones.  Did the tears flow when I picked it up and realized what was in it?  Oh yes, they did.  And then I smiled.  Remembering Ricky.  💖

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Colors of Earth – Persistence

On this last day of October, the sun is warm, the sky is clear blue, and the crickets are singing in the shady spots.  Almost overnight, warm tones of burgundy, burnt orange, and gold have begun to show in the tree tops.  But many of the beauties of summer remain steadfast – Colors of Persistence.

Lantana and Blue Chip Buddleia – blooming profusely since May.  A popular source of nectar for pollinators – butterflies, moths, bees, and hummingbirds – always a busy place in summer!  Shade and cover for the little Blue Tailed Skinks and Toads.

Mint, contained in a pot for sanity’s sake, & still flavoring my water, along with a little fresh lemon juice.

The 3 photos along the bottom are part of my “embracing native plants” scheme.  I stopped using any kind of herbicide or pesticide in 2001.  Considered to be weeds by many,  I find them to be beautiful.  I’ve no idea what the tiny purple flowered plant is, but it seems to be co-existing nicely with the Clover – maybe they’re working together to put nitrogen back in to the soil?  Daisy Fleabane, center photo, pops up along the fringes of mown lawn, along the creek buffer, amongst the gone-to-seed asparagus, at the base of the grapevines.  The tiny daisy-like flowers persist from June until the first hard freeze.  Cradling the Cedar logs – Creeping Charlie (Ground Ivy), spreading profusely in the shady spots, where nothing else wants to grow and hold the soil.  Ok, I admit, this one is out of control as soon as you blink your eyes!  But it persists here in the Southeast for much of the winter, holding the soil in place during winter rains, lending a bit of green to the winter landscape, and bursting in to a carpet of lavender flowers in Spring.  I’ve found that it even appears to choke out Poison Ivy.  And, since its tendrils remain on the ground, it doesn’t become a nuisance by climbing up into the shrubs and trees.  I spent many hours, dollars, and more energy than I care to admit waging battle on Ground Ivy in the past – pulling, raking, tilling, boraxing – you name it, I tried it.  I’m much happier now that I choose to see its positive attributes, instead of just the negative ones.  Perhaps there is a lesson in that for all of us, in other areas of life?

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And, here, much loved Impatiens and Licorice are still bursting out of the flower box at the kitchen window!  Greeting me in the morning while the coffee brews, brightening my thoughts while I slog through the pile of dirty dishes, providing an anchor point for the Brown Box Spider’s delicate web, and attracting insects for the Blue Tailed Skinks to  hunt from the window sill.


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Colors of Earth – Autumn

Sycamore, Oak, and Pecan leaves.  Tiny acorns from the Willow Oak.

Humongous Fungus!  Chicken of the Woods, Laetiporus sulphureus.

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Eastern Box Turtle.  Second one spotted on the property this year!  So happy you’re here, my friend!

Berries on Holly tree – just beginning to change color.  Only last week they were still shiny green.  Purple Fountain Grass.

 

 


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Aaahhh – Autumn!

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Autumn mornings: sunshine and crisp air, birds and calmness, year’s end and day’s beginnings.

~ Terri Guillemets 

This morning was a lovely, quintessential autumn morn – cloudless bright blue sky, crisp clear air, warm sunshine, a light breeze rustling the leaves. The only thing missing – autumn leaves – colored leaves.  Most of the trees and shrubs are still clothed in green. At first glance it still looks like summer!

But the birds know.  Gone are the Hummingbirds and the Wood Thrush – they have moved to their winter homes.  The bright yellow Gold Finches have donned their winter plumage.  The Blue Jays, Robins, and Eastern Bluebirds are flocking together.  This morning I counted six Blue Jays in and under the Willow Oaks, feasting on the tiny acorns.  There was a bustle of activity on the lawn, the edge of road, and the neighbor’s front lawn, as a good-sized flock of Robins and Bluebirds landed and fanned out – visiting the water saucers, looking for tasty morsels on the ground, and picking the tiny seeds out of the chickweed that I haven’t pulled out of the flower beds.

I’ve been an admirer of the feathered ones for as long as I can remember.  I am continuously amazed by them.  There is always something new to learn from observing them, listening to them, and just being aware of them.

This year, even though we have a small stream running through our property and a large pond down the road a ways, I decided to put out some water saucers for the birds and the critters.  I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the number and diversity of visitors!  Cardinals, Robins, Gold Finches, Purple Martins, Sparrows, Bluebirds…. butterflies…..beautiful Blue Mud Daubers….even a Rabbit standing on her tiptoes!

Who would have thought that such a simple offering would draw such a crowd?