Shadow Time

About a decade ago, one of my best friends told me about the idea of Shadow Time, which has its origins in Pagan faiths: as the world moves into shadow – the days get shorter, colder, and more overcast – we should also go into our shadow – the darker parts of ourselves – and reflect. It’s in my top three favorite parts of a religion.

In the midwest, differently from where I grew up, there’s a sense of needing to rest after the harvest.

I’ve spent a lot of this summer preserving fruits and vegetables, which is not something I usually do. We dehydrated herbs and teas. We canned pickles, apple sauce, apple butter, tomato jam, apple pie filling, and salsa. We also froze nearly 100 cups of squash(es), six loaves of fruit or vegetable bread, and dozens of fruit muffins

We were under 100 jars of canned foods, but 100 is my goal for next year. It feels silly to say that because we don’t live in the 1800’s, but the food definitely does taste better, and ultimately it will save us money over the course of the year. It’s mostly just the two of us, though we gave away a lot, so my real plan is to alternate crops. So this year, I processed almost two bushels of apples, and I probably won’t have to do that again next year because what we did this year will carry over. So eventually, we’ll reach a variety.

The point of sharing this: we had a busy, pioneer summer – which also included a wedding – and I’m ready to rest. And reflect. And plan.

Lately, I have been feeling like I can’t pull together enough ideas to move forward. And what I’ve been doing is pushing myself to do that. But this morning, I woke up late and it was 33 degrees outside and I don’t have socks to wear with my boots. So I sat down for a minute and told myself, “Just be late to work.” How simple. I just decided I was going to be late. And on my drive in, I concluded that it was time to listen to myself.

If I can’t pull together enough ideas to move forward, maybe I should just sit down.

So, for a little while, I’m not planning. I’m crocheting and watching Riverdale and really emphasizing doing the bare minimum to create space for the future. The silliest, most American part of this whole process is working really hard on not feeling guilty about doing that. Just like you, I get caught in feeling required to be productive. That requirement was made up in my mind decades ago, and so I’m also trying to meditate each day to help remove that.

Mostly, I’m trying not to strategize and instead just be.

Learning to Can, Part 2

This post is part of a series on teaching myself home canning. I decided to do this series in part because the reflection that’s part of learning is really interesting to me, and because I think it’s amazing the things we can teach ourselves when we’re dedicated to it!

Learning to Can, Part 2

So I shared a little while ago that my interest in home canning was connected to both health and a class.

I got this book and started taking notes. But as I tend to do, I got partway through the reading and just started doing it myself.

If you’re interested in home canning, I highly recommend that you don’t go that route because you can screw things up in a dangerous way. I realized that once I’d already kind of started doing things and had to go back to my original plan.

I picked up what’s called a water bath canner at a hardware store. I recommend getting the kit because a) it’s cheaper and b) it’s – legit – everything you need.

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It turns out that home canning is super easy. Basically you fill up a bunch of jars with natural foods that you’ve made, boil them and then wait until you hear them seal. That’s it.

The tricky part is cooking large volumes and knowing the correct duration to process them for (“process” here means heat in the water bath canner). This is why a book is helpful.

I learned how to make Bread and Butter Pickles for my first round of canning!

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Y’all – they were not hard at all. You just chop cucumbers and onions, mix them in a bowl with pickling salt and cover them in ice for a few hours. Then, you mix up some vinegar and spices, bring it to a boil, add the cucumber/onion mix and voila! Pickles!

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I’ll keep you posted on what other kinds of things I test out. This summer I’m hoping to make a red spaghetti sauce, a jam and some apple butter.

D’s brother-in-law has a garden growing, so I want to learn how to preserve things like onions, carrots and green beans.

Seriously though, if you have a little garden, this is totally worth learning. I think I spent about $40 on the canning supplies, and jars are about $9 for 12 jars. But think – that’s 12 jars of homemade, organic goodness. Totally worth it, if you ask me.

What kinds of summer projects did you have? Did any of them turn out to be easier than you thought they’d be? How about harder? What were you most surprised to learn about yourself when you took the project on?

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& Cookies

I’ve been an avid blog reader for the last six years and my favorite posts are always the personal, here’s-my-life-in-the-last-month-rounded-up kinds of things. I was thinking about this, and about my cousins son whose favorite time of the day is Cookie Time, where he, his mom and his grandma have milk and cookies. So I was thinking about the idea of having milk and cookies with people I like, but I stopped being able to drink milk around age 25, so here we are: & cookies.


This week has been a doozy! Anyone else caught up in the whirlwind that is summer? I feel like I can’t stop going. I love feeling like I’m getting a lot done, but I definitely need to be more intentional about meditation and taking time for myself to just sit quietly. Any great suggestions on how to do that?

On Saturday, D & I went to a diaper party / quadding adventure, for which I had no clothing. I really don’t own much that can get that kind of dirty. It was originally supposed to just be a cookout, but because of the weather, the hosts suggested clothes you didn’t mind getting covered in mud. My sister swooped in and was the amazing sister she is and helped me find something for $20 that I can wear again and again.

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I got this baby on Amazon for $8 on Prime Day! I’m not really a big Prime Day / Black Friday shopper, but I always like to look, just in case there’s something I’ve been wanting. My fridge has wire shelves and so pop cans go every which way on them. This is a much better solution, and you barely notice it’s there.

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One of the ladies I work with had a cucumber explosion in her garden so she brought a bunch into work. I snagged a bunch and am going to try my hand at Dill pickles! I’m a little nervous about it, but the recipe doesn’t seem too hard. I’ll let you know how it goes!

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I snapped this sad picture this morning. This is the file box I’ve been using since 2005 to keep my life in order. It’s broken, and has been for years. It’s also too small and difficult to put things in. As a result, I end up with stacks of paper all over my house, rather than neatly put away. I need to spend some time with it, figure out what I need to use it for and what I want to use it for, and then I think I’ll need to invest in something more stable and less cumbersome.

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I’ve also been trying to figure out how to wrangle all my earrings and bracelets. I really wear the same handful of necklaces, but I switch out earrings a lot. I found this one on Amazon, but I think I might try to make it myself, instead, so I can get the size exactly the way I want it. #particular

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Learning to Can, Part 1

This post is part of a series on teaching myself how to do home canning. I decided to do this series in part because the reflection that’s part of learning is really interesting to me, and because I think it’s amazing the things we can teach ourselves when we’re dedicated to it!

Learning to Can, Part 1

For one of my classes this semester, we have to do a Self-Directed Learning Project. We got to pick any topic and we don’t have to be successful at it, which may seem strange. The idea is that by attempting to teach ourselves we’ll understand the limits of ourselves and the limits of this method of teaching.

Not being successful at something isn’t a process I enjoy. Sometimes I wish that weren’t true, but like most things with identity, you can turn it down, you can’t turn it off.

I spent a long time going back and forth between two topics: quilting and canning. Obviously, I live in the 1800’s….

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My mother is a quilter and I always admire the beautiful works of art she creates by sewing. But, with all the recent health issues I’ve had with my tummy, I thought canning would be a more beneficial way to go. This way, I can control what goes into the container, and save some money at the same time.

So, I bought this book:

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Y’all. It’s amazing. I had absolutely no idea that canning required such a wide knowledge base. I’m keeping pretty detailed notes on what this learning process is like, and am excited to share this with all of you.

I set a timeline and some goals for myself, which include an increased knowledge of the health and safety of food preservation. The more that I’m learning about this, the more I am really excited to take control of another area of my diet that laziness has allowed me to throw to the wayside.

Every day, I feel like I get a little bit closer to feeling like I have my pre-no-gallbladder life back.

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