Christmas 2018

2018 - a year chock full of revelations and experiments. Weeks of idyllic road trips and vacations. Months of predictable work schedules. Both a downtrodden herb garden and wildly successful Jerusalem Artichokes.

In the spring, we moved to the countryside in Deary. (I joke about our history with romantically-labelled towns. Valentine, Nebraska…. Deary, Idaho… ) Our humble abode just off the state hwy is a wonderful opportunity for us to experiment with homesteading. We impulsively purchased ducks and chickens and ignored our poor garden. Even now, in the dead of winter, we are scheming ways to get sheep and a spaniel doogie.

We spent two weeks in September exploring the beaches and forests of southern Sweden. What wonderful autumn days! After I returned home, Charlie went on to live in the countryside of Värmland with an intellectual/author by the name of Lars Nordstrom. They spent several evenings communing with Norwegian neighbors, eating surströmming and swapping stories.

This year we’ve been blessed to have friends and family come to visit. Our two mothers made a point to spend time with us and make our home cozy with love and gifts. Nate (from Greenville) also spent a weekend with us, hiking through the Hobo Cedar Grove and swimming at Elk Falls. (Someday we will hop over to Seattle and return the visit :))

We’ve traveled a few times ourselves:
McCall, Idaho (for the Winter Festival - who can say no to snow sculptures and snow bike races?)
Sandpoint, Idaho (for the Draft Horse and Mule Association show. Thank you Elissa for the tip!)
Idaho Falls to meet Charlie’s family for a whirlwind weekend.
Eagle Cap Wilderness - to camp in the Willowa Mountains and hike through national forest service.
And a brief trip to the old home-state Missouri.

Charlie’s one-year position at the Palouse Clearwater Environmental Institute terminated in August. He truly loved working at PCEI - being able to meet good people and camp in the Nez Perce National Forest for “work”. He is now employed at O’Reilly in Moscow, (just in time to buy discounted car parts for our Subaru ;)) Charlie spends his free hours bread-making, installing wood stoves, fixing various car problems, reading books about invasive species and grouse hunting.

I (Laurel), am still at Latah Credit Union. In August I was promoted to back office where I am known as the “debit card and ATM gal”. I am thankful for my cushy job with good coworkers. Outside of work you can find me planning a small business, decorating our home, crafting, learning about herbalism and striving to be as hippie as possible.

We look back on this year as a time of goodness and maturing. Charlie and I have both grown in stature as a couple and individuals. And we are so so thankful for our wonderful families who have supported us and encouraged us through it all.
To each of you, (friends, family, coworkers and acquaintances), we wish you peace and blessings in this Advent season.

Love,
Chaurel

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frost on the farm

This morning I woke up to a world of stunning frostiness. Winter has finally come to our part of the world and I am totally okay with it. I mean - look how beautiful our yard was while I was doing chores.
I’ve been thinking about how Winter encourages slow living. Daylight hours shorten, temperatures drop and sometimes deep snow makes it impossible to leave the house. So we invest our time in projects like home improvements, crafting, cooking good things, music and reading thick books. Out of necessity we go outside to split wood or shovel snow, and even though we grumble about such things, we secretly enjoy the vigorous exercise. Not to mention how satisfying it is, to come inside from the cold and make ourselves cozy with hot tea by the heater (or wood stove).
Already Charlie and I are slowing down, bundling up against the cold and preparing for our human version of hibernation. Charlie has started a batch of pumpernickel bread he learned to make from a gentleman in Sweden. The bread takes 5 days to make - from mixing the dough, to setting overnight, to baking loaves. I have started learning how to knit. (Charlie says this makes me an old grandma - which I take as a compliment.) I love the rhythm of the needles - the texture of wool yarn. To me, knitting, or any kind of handiwork, is relaxing. Therapeutic.
Last night, I rummaged through our closet to find hats and gloves, and we donned four or five layers of clothing to go for a night hike. Even though the sky was cloudy - threatening to snow - I could see the Big Dipper, hanging low and bright near a line of treetops. Our breath came out in clouds and my toes were numb, but we were happy walking hand in hand.
I guess what I’m saying is this: use this season as an opportunity to slow down. Don’t hesitate to start a creative project or pick up a stack of reading material. Make the most of cold evenings at home, but also go outside to admire Winter’s frigid beauty.

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· season changing ·

I’ve decided autumn is the best time of the year to gather up my thoughts, rest and refocus. With the season changing, and Nature clothing herself in beauty, I feel encouraged to seek out good things and be grateful for them. So here is a (short) list of my favorite moments from these past few weeks.

  • visiting an ancient, beautiful tree. 3,000 years old. 18 feet in diameter. a treasure of the earth.

  • dragging my Mom and husband to the annual library book sale. We stood in line with other book nerds and fought our way to the best books - piling our finds in a shopping cart.

  • watching our aspen tree in the backyard turn to a brilliant, autumn gold. I wish I could bottle up some of that color and keep it throughout the winter.

  • shopping for a wood stove. Somehow buying a stove makes our lives in North Idaho seem more permanent.

  • walking on Tubb’s Hill in Coeur D’alene. Shielding my eyes against the sun to watch a float plane land on the lake

  • low-key looking for a puppy. I think our home is incomplete without a sweet canine companion. of course - Mosi probably thinks otherwise.

  • quiet evenings reading library books or watching movies. drinking tea and learning the value of REST

  • searching for chicken eggs in our yard. sometimes we find them in the tall grass - or tucked away behind a rake. they are the softest color of brown.

  • gathering buckets and buckets of apples and pears for applesauce and pies and tarts and cider. Not to mention the savory lingonberry jam Charlie made in Sweden.

  • our sturdy subaru climbing up the mountain to our favorite hiking spot. deep dark woods filled with hidden creatures and mushrooms and damp earth. (I love the northwest)

  • sitting in the bitter cold for a local football game. I’ve never cared for sports that much - but when I’m bundled up warm with a thermos of cocoa, it is actually enjoyable.

  • driving home from work into a beautiful sunset on the horizon. mountains bathed in pink light.

Please tell me my friends what autumn adventures you have been on - what goes on in your corner of the world?

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