how the farm got a little cabin.....

the road home 

We spent the first year camping and clearing brush on the new land. Watching the sun. Trying to find the perfect spot to build our future home. We walked the logging trail to the back of the lot, through the woods, where one of several rock walls remains. No one builds a stone wall through a forest, these trees were a new growth forest that had sprung up after a pasture was let go. There was a farm here, at least once.

I found plants I knew. My favorite concoction was a jar of tasty late summer edibles - blackberries, monarda, oregano, a wild apple, nettles - topped off with a bit of honey and vodka. When we strained off the liquid come winter, we recognized the smell right away. It was the smell of the field, leaves gently crunching under the tires of the truck, creeping in with the windows down on a warm summer's night after one of our many long drives north....

This smells like home, I remember him saying.

The following December - a year after we had bought the property - the little cabin next door came up for sale. We were surprised to see it - less than 2 years after it sold most recently. We swooned over the pictures and the long winding driveway - but it was a good bit out of our price range and weren't quite ready to leave Massachusetts.

We watched it over the next few months though. Property doesn't move fast up here, and I was hoping it might wait for us. That fall, on one of our visits to the property, the cabin looked empty to me. I coaxed a very reluctant Joe to venture over (he says trespass)

Once we realized it was definitely empty, we peeked in all the windows and wandered around the yard, and took a picture of the sign in the sliding glass window. We found out the owners had to relocate and the house was going up for foreclosure. It could be anywhere from a few months to over a year before it would be available for sale.

Please little house, choose us. If not, please choose good neighbors. I whispered.

I spent the next two and a half months falling asleep every night to the same half dream, half meditation - envisioning myself walking along the driveway, up the three steps to the front door, and into the house. I pulled my senses into this meditation as much as possible. The feeling of my feet on the gravel, the steps, the sound of birds singing, the smell of the forest, the cold doorknob in my hand. While I was strongly leaning towards the house as ours, I held fast to my little mantra. 

Please little house, choose us. If not, please choose good neighbors.

The realtor called the week before Christmas to tell us the house was up for sale. The price and estimated closing costs were just under our budget. Within 72 hours we had driven to NY, visited the house, made an offer, and accepted a counter offer. Woosh. Here we go.

Typing this up now - and being a mama to four - I see the last few years as somewhat of the birth of our dream

Woosh. Here we go.

I look back and am often humbled by the abundance of what I see as magic - divine intervention - whatever you want to call it - at play. A tiny collection of seemingly unconnected bits coming together to be just what we dreamed of. It wasn't exactly the dream we started with, but something about it felt right and we followed. 

Perhaps we weren't two people that found a little old farm...... perhaps a little old farm found us.

We'll see. 

More Soon.
 
~s

 


sore throat tea

Tea-1

Tea3

 

One of my challenges as an herbalist (and mama!) is often getting the herbs into the body that needs them. Some herbs are very lovely tasting and others, well, as my kids would bluntly say: taste terrible.

They are pretty good about taking tinctures - even the "terrible ones". Teas, on the other hand, must be tasty if I want them to be drinking cup after cup - which is exactly the case when they are fighting off some sort of virus.

This is our current throat soothing tea. Rosehips & orange peel offer vitamin C to boost your immunity, cherry bark and marshmallow soothe coughs and inflamed tissue, and we love the earthy spiciness of the ginger + cinnamon + fennel combo! My youngest is prone to respiratory illnesses, so we tend to be super proactive at the first sign of a sniffle in hopes of catching it before it settles into his chest. I've used both slippery elm and marshmallow root in this recipe with wonderful results - I have read that Slippery Elm is endangered, so while I will use up what is in my apothecary, I do not plan to buy more. Marshmallow is a wonderful substitute and easily cultivated. (We grow our own!)

 

Tea2

 

Warm & Spicy Throat Soothe Tea

(adapted from a recipe in Healing Herbal Teas)

 

4 parts rosehips

3 parts cinnamon chips

2 parts wild cherry bark

2 parts marshmallow root

2 parts orange peel

1 part ginger root

1 part fennel

1 part licorice root

 

Use 1 TBSP of the tea blend per 1.5 cups of hot water.

This tea is best as a decoction - where all the herbs are simmered for 15 minutes. We also make it in our little teapot (see above) and let it steep in freshly boiled water for 15-20 minutes. I usually put two batches of hot water through the teapot with the same herbs, as I feel like root based tea blends keep on giving up their flavor.

Also, We mix up a jar at a time so it's ready and waiting when we need it. It's no fun trying to mix up sore throat tea when you're under the weather.

 

Enjoy. 

xo,

s

 


nothing much......

1

2

3

4

 

The last few weeks have been a blur of activity.

Birthdays, visitors, beach trips, fall festivals, apple picking, our oldest moving back to the East Coast.......

(The sweet little girls in this photo turned 15 & 19 - oh my. Plus look at that belly, ha!)

Joe had knee surgery the first of the month and has been home resting. He's just now walking around a little - it was a much tougher recovery than he anticipated. Also, he is a terrible "sitter". For someone who doesn't knit or really enjoy reading.... that pretty much leaves watching tv. I think by the third day he was done with both Netflix and the internet! Uffda.

To add excitement to the chaotic one parent circus - I pulled a muscle in my back attempting to weigh the dog - she's 73 pounds, in case you wondered. Which apparently is a few too many pounds for me to hold and balance on a bathroom scale. Sometimes the decision maker part of my brain fails me, what can I say? So I've been stretching and hanging out with a heating pad. I might be better at sitting than Joe, but I'm a bear when I feel like I "can't" do all the things

We've made quite the pair.

If you can imagine Joe and me walking, both sort of hobbling and laughing, trying to loosen up our stiff muscles - - - that's about the extent of any excitement here. You just have to laugh, it sure beats complaining.

I have had a great deal of guilt-free Pinterest time. So there is that. 

Speaking of Pinterest..... before I killed my back, I made these pumpkin bars, and they were the-bomb-dot-com. (Joe says I can't say this, so I'm saying it ALL the time now.)

I'm off for my hourly mini yoga session to free up these creaky muscles.

xo,

s

 


squam : part 2, the making......

1

2

3

5

5

6

8

9

10

11

 

I love walking through the woods to get to class and meals...... Squammies leave small treasures here and there. Yarn bits, pompoms, stones, feathers to leave love notes & wishes on.

I took a class with two of the kindest and most talented artists on Thursday and Friday.

First was a day of stamp carving with Penelope Dullaghan. We learned the basics of cutting stamps, using tools, and how to create patterns with and without repeats. I had this idea of making a Goddess or Sacred Woman stamp inspired by a coffee mug I saw at an art fair this summer. It ended up looking like a sacred woman in more ways than one - which made the class giggle - it's the stamped notebook above. I'll let you decide what it looks like. I am especially smitten with my feather stamps!!! I see lots of stamped feather goods in my future.... and just ordered some fabric paint to test it out on. Penny was a fabulous teacher and really fun to hang out with all day.

Day two was spoon carving with Barry Buck of Linen and Spoon! I had the chance to meet Barry and his family last spring when we visited Squam as vendors - I think we live in some parallel universe because I have so much in common with his wife that I swear we are long lost, sisters. (She thinks so too - it's not just me!) I learned how to carve a spoon, and didn't injure myself! Holy sharp tools - it really is like meditation, you have to pay such close attention. I have just two layers of sanding left and I'll share it here with you..... I also purchased some carving tools and a few spoon blanks to carve a few more. I loved it!

Lastly, on Saturday I attended the Squam Art Fair  - our table is the triangle shelf display.... the spoon picture is from Linen & Spoon's table and lastly a picture of my treasures! (linen & wooden goods by Linen & Spoon - shirts by untold - necklace by AG Ambroult.)

So much making and handmade goodness to be shared and enjoyed.

Happy weekending friends.

xo~
s

 


squam : part 1, the magic.........

*Just to warn you, I am SO going to overuse the word "magic" in this post. It can't be helped.* 

I'm still reveling in the in-between space, "between Squam and real-life". I'm sure it sounds sentimental, but being at Squam this last time my dear friend Elizabeth hosted felt especially magical. For a decade she has worked her magic and poured her heart and soul into a gathering that draws the best of people. Truly. Elizabeth herself is one of the most caring, authentic, and generous souls I have ever met - and this manifests itself in people of the same caliber from all over the world who come to gather in the woods. We celebrate being creative - full of life - full of love. This September seemed to hold even more wonderful people than usual - no doubt there to support and send off their dearest fairy godmother and welcome in the new fairy goddaughter. It was emotional, beautiful, magical. Just the sort of thing endings and beginnings always are. I cannot even find the words to tell you how grateful I felt to be a part of it. So, so much.

Spending these days taking great care of myself - soaking in the woo - nurturing my spirit and connecting with new and old friends - oh, let me tell you - they are worth their weight in gold. Especially for those of us who rarely take the time to place ourselves in the center. This was my second time attending Squam - the first was here - but we have been lucky enough to attend as vendors a few times in between. I wanted to paint a picture for you - share with you what it feels like to return to a place you know is magic, pictures seem to do the best job of this..... so here you have the arrival and settling in..... 

1

2

3

4

4

6

7

8

9

more tomorrow -

xoxo,

s

 


do this one thing now......

5

2

3

4

5

5

 

These pictures are from a visit to the farm in late spring of this year. The leaves were just beginning to pop on most things and the apple tree was full of blossoms. I'm not quite sure if this is an on purpose apple tree or a wild apple tree. I guess mother earth doesn't really differentiate between those two, does she? Just those of us humans hoping for "decent apples" do. Next time I hope to make time (and remember) to look for a grafting scar at her base. This spring, I stood underneath her and looked up at the sky through her branches. Overcast. Damp cold air. Magic light streaming through. Soaking in the energy of the land we will someday call home.

Progress is slow going on the farm. We have cleared brush. Filled our bellies with dewberries. Identified plants we know. Forged paths. Cleared a space for a tiny cabin. It might happen this year and it might not. I'm doing my best to be patient and let it all unfold in its own time. Easier said than done.

Joe & I took an apple grafting class this spring and successfully grafted 10 apple trees. So far they are still alive. I think we'll baby them here over the next year and plant them up north spring of 2019 - the same spring we plan to put the Massachusetts house on the market. We have blackberries, grapes, apple trees and raspberries that all need to be slowly moved north too. And about two dozen medicinal herbs. It's kind of overwhelming to imagine where to put anything on 4-5 acres of pasture. I guess we can always move it again though. Getting it there is the first part. Which kind of reminds me of my current life mantra - do this one thing now. It's easy to get caught up in the millions of things between now and two years from now. And sometimes if I think too much about it I feel the empty heaviness of anxiety pressing on my heart - but one thing? I can do one thing, now. And eventually, all those tiny things will add up. 

Do any of you remember the Shel Silverstein poem, Melinda Mae? It's a favorite of mine.... I'll share it with you (if you haven't shared Shel's poetry with your kids, do check it out. The audio was a favorite of ours!)

 

Have you heard of tiny Melinda Mae,

Who ate a monstrous whale?

She thought she could,

She said she would,

So she started in right at the tail.

And everyone said, "You're much too small,"

But that didn't bother Melinda at all.

She took little bites and she chewed very slow,

Just like a good girl should...

...And in eighty-nine years she ate that whale

Because she said she would! 

    ~Shel Silverstein (Where the Sidewalk Ends)

 

I love it so - a good message for living by.

So I'm just kind of trucking along these days. Trying to remember to do this one thing now, and also to stop and look up at the magic light streaming through the branches.

 

xo,

s

  


almost like a farmer.......

Herbgarden

 

Almost a year ago I decided to convert my vegetable garden to medicinal herbs. I spent the spring scouring every nursery for plants, visited local farms, and slowly planted beds a few plants at a time.

My goal was to start a Community Supported Herbalism project: a seasonal apothecary share of freshly made herbal products with herbs grown on our homestead or sustainably wildcrafted from nature. I had a very limited amount of members and spent the season tending to the herbs and making fresh plant remedies. My love of herbs and the earth deepened. My ties with my community grew. Somewhere in July with my whole face buried deep in a bed of tulsi, I knew I had truly fallen into a place I was meant to be. It just felt right.

 

Oregeno

 

Spilanthes

 

This winter I sat and looked over my notes, at what worked and what didn't. What was popular with my members and what they were unsure about. I read wonderful books. I learned and grew as a herbalist and new (dare I say) herb farmer. I chose new plants to add this year - thinking of both my needs as a herbalist and the pollinators I share my growing space with. I'll be adding at least one more raised bed, perhaps two as my plant heart and growing space usually do not communicate with one another well. Our program will expand to include 24 members for 2017. Slow & steady growth.

 

Coneflower

 

I have big dreams for the future. Within the next year, I will be digging up the bulk of these herbs (mostly perennials) and moving them north to the farm in New York. In five years I hope to be settled in our new farmhouse, selling my herbs & products at the tiny local farmer's market and teaching in our new community. I see my dream unfolding, little by little. As a person who struggles to keep herself in the moment - always caught up in planning for the next move - these plants are literally grounding me. With every weed to pull. Seedling to care for. Flower and leaf to harvest. Medicine to make. Knowledge to share. They grab hold of my wanderlust and keep it from carrying me away.

And this time of year I sketch maps for bed plans, recipes for products and make list after list, almost like a farmer......

xo,

s

 

ps - if you are interested in our CSH program (herbal apothecary share), click on the link to read more about it. we ship in the US & Canada and have 10 spaces left for the 2017 season - we are also hosting a giveaway of one share on Instagram this week!

 


stories : 1

My kids are always telling me I should read one of their newest and loved adventures. Usually fantasy or science fiction. And while I do love hearing the plot and all about the characters from them, these genres don't speak to my soul in the same way as theirs... and when I do have time (which is not often enough) to curl up with a book (that is not for studying)...... I long to be immersed in someone's story. To feel as if I am standing there beside them, in real-life oh-shit-this-could-be-me kind of stories. Creative Fiction has long been my truest love. With this thought, I decided to start writing some of my own stories down here, on a regular basis. Ramblings and such. No photographs. Just words. This is the first, but I'm hoping many will follow.....

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I'm sitting in the warm spot of sunlight in my room. Cross-legged on the floor in-between the dresser and bed because that is where the sun is. Maggie is curled up next to me, slowly squeezing more than her fair share of the sun rays streaming through the window. If I close my eyes, I can almost trick myself into believing it's summer out there instead of mid-January.

Jade has been slowly taking over Sam's room in the basement since he moved out last fall. My nest is short one chick and the rest are filling in the space left by his absence. This one room move has made the whole lot of them want to take a new one. There is plans for fresh paint and decluttering and new spaces as they each move up to the next sibling's room. It's interesting to see them all deal with his absence in their own ways. I wonder how it will shift as each one takes flight... and what the last one left behind will do.

I planted myself in this sunny spot to do some paperwork and pay some bills. However I am distracted by noise below me, I can hear Jade's music playing in the basement and all three of the kids singing along to Nirvana. Which is really so hilarious, because the soundtrack to my own and their teenage years is so similar - hipster kids and their retro music. I have this familiar feeling sweep through my chest - it feels like a loss, but not a sad loss if that makes sense - I felt it the first time in full force last fall when I said goodbye to Sam when he moved to Alaska. It's followed by the overwhelming love I have for these creatures who call me mama. Now matter how big or small they are.

I close the computer screen and instead sit with the dog in the sun. Eyes closed. Half pretending it's summer and half remembering the lyrics to Smells Like Teen Spirit as it plays, realizing I never did figure that song out.....

xo~

s

 


elving......

Elving2_sweetbrierfarms

Elving3_sweetbrierfarms

Elving4_sweetbrierfarms

Elving5_sweetbrierfarms

Elving6_sweetbrierfarms

Elving7_sweetbrierfarms

 

We got the last bit of the packages out in the mail yesterday. Both to family and customers. (thank you to our customers for the amazing support this season - it was our busiest yet and we are so grateful!) We're not heading to NY to visit family until after the holidays so I have a bit of extra time to gather up the last few pieces of those baskets.... and a baking date with my kiddos this Friday.

There is a lot of elving going on too. The kids have reached the age where very little is needed from me in their gift buying/making process. They tend to squirrel away in their rooms or slip away at art fairs and come back excited and wide-eyed and accusing me of peeking. (I never peek!)

I love watching them all carefully wrap their treasures-to-be-gifted and place them under the tree. Joe & I never put anything out until Solstice - and then only one gift each for the kids. The rest we save for Christmas Eve. Santa only fills stockings here and we keep things pretty simple, but it is still fun to have gifts the kids have not seen around the tree Christmas morning. I must admit to rearranging and fluffing everything up to make less look like more. I often wonder how these simple holidays will transfer over into their own traditions someday...

We got a few boxes from my mom yesterday and they had so much fun opening them and handing them to the recipient to put under the tree. (mom, I put the books under - I didn't even peek inside them!) There were a few things in the box from their oldest brother who moved out this fall and up to Alaska - he wrote a few funny things on the tags which made me laugh and brought tears to my eyes all at once.

I've got a bit of last-minute knitting to finish up at some point today and then I'll have a little handmade something for everyone here to accompany solstice pajamas - a long-standing tradition of ours.

Gosh, I managed to wander all over the place in my thoughts while writing this post. I suppose it's time to leave this cozy spot by the fire and start checking off that to-do list a bit more.

Happy elving to you.....

xo,

s

  


Sweetbrier Stocking Stuffers

I just updated the shop with some new goodies : herbal deodorants, half a dozen new soaps, and some lovely bath soaks

Plus we have a collection of herbal stocking stuffer ideas if any of you are still looking for some gift ideas:

 

Stocking

 

(left to right, top to bottom)
 
Thanks for taking a peek at our goods!


☾ ☾ ☾ ☾ ☾ ☾
 
Happy weekending to you~~~
xo,
s