The Necessity of Close Community – Revisited

We had a tragedy in our community last week.  A vibrant, lively 7-year old-died in a shocking accident and our little village is reeling.  Parents aren’t supposed to bury their babies and when it happens, there are simply no words.

This morning, the local elementary held a crisis intervention and the one thing that I took away was the comment that someone has to be in place to “heal the healers”.   The speaker told of the blessing upon our village, that ours is such a tight-knit community there will always be someone there to support those who are  hurting.

But not everyone is blessed in that way.

In November, we talked about the importance of being engaged with your community; of being the familiar face and hands willing to serve in times of need.  This tragedy is a clarion call for me and I once again urge you to get plugged in with your village/township/city.  Life is so short and fragile, and at some point in that life, we’re all going to be beggars desperate for bread.  Be the person who shows the beggar where to find it.  Be the one who “heals the healer”.

Blessings upon you and yours




Looking Ahead

Hello friends!  Whoo, what a month it’s been already!  I don’t know about you and your family, but here at Legacy Home and Apiary, we are counting down the days til the holiday break!  With Christmas plays, band concerts, shopping, baking, parties, village festivals and dinners, the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas leave us feeling a little breathless. After our vacation begins on the 19th, we restrict our activities to lounging in our jammies, playing board games, baking cookies and hanging out in front of the fireplace watching Christmas movies.  I consider it a very necessary, modern-day hibernation.   

After the excitement of Christmas is over, we tend to spend the remainder of our break planning for the year ahead.  We organize our agendas, schedule appointments, prioritize our household projects, order seeds for the spring garden and my favorite: research the skills we want to learn the following year.  Each year, I encourage the children (and myself as well!) to learn a new skill or hobby and each year, the children never fail to amaze me with their choices.  Some years, it’s practical and utilitarian; other years it’s pure enjoyment.  Angus’s interests have ranged from coding to tinkering on small engines in the barn; Petunia, from bird watching to learning to use kitchen knives.  Learning has never been a burden for them, as they get to choose the topic and I’m just pleased that they get to enjoy a wide array of experiences while they’re young.  My hope is that they’ll develop a joy of learning that will last them for the rest of their lives.  

I’m pretty excited about the year ahead as both kids have expressed a desire to learn beekeeping.  It’s not the MOST practical of skills, but it’s something they could use in adulthood, perhaps as passive income but more likely to benefit their garden.  What I’m most excited about, though, is our 2018 family project:  

We fell into an amazing deal on a mechanically-sound 1979 CJ5 to restore for a family vehicle.  I know nothing about basic mechanics and it’s something I’ve always regretted, so hopefully this will be an opportunity for the kids and me to learn at the same time!  Perhaps by the end of 2018, I’ll be able to fix flat tires and do my own oil changes!  Ha!  But our main goal with this restoration: Angus has shown a real interest in mechanics and engineering, and I’m praying that this restoration may spark a desire that could be developed into a career.  He’s only 13 and I’m sure he’ll change his mind a hundred times between now and adulthood,  but it’s never too early to begin encouraging the thought process, right?  

I know it’s early to begin thinking about 2018, but what’s your thoughts on the new year?  Any fun planning in the works?

Bringing The Outdoors In

There’s nothing I love more than bringing the outdoors in to decorate my old farmhouse.  Though it’s a favorite practice all year long, with freshly cut daffodils in April and treasures from the coast during summertime, Thanksgiving and Christmas are when those natural elements seem to really shine.  Personally, I love reading old books that describe how our great-grannies decorated for Christmas.  It’s so easy to visualize the older brothers cutting down a fresh pine tree while the younger siblings gathered holly, ivy, pinecones, acorns and local, seasonal items to decorate the mantles, windows, doors and tabletops.

I’m sure it’s the romantic in me, but I love to do the same; to bring nature indoors for the holiday season.  Admittedly, it’s not always practical, but with some clever planning, it can be beautiful, frugal and totally cozy.

Here are some ideas that my family incorporates into our Christmas décor.

Pine boughs- This is a total gimme, but you have so many options here!  You can purchase inexpensive live garland at most grocery and hardware stores or a cheap tree to butcher for decorating…but I encourage you to scrounge, my friends!  Look to your landscaping for branches that need trimmed back or forage (with permission) from a local lot.  You can also find freebie trimmings at most local tree lots for free.  These boughs look beautiful tucked into artificial greenery, tied carefully around candles, draped on mantles and light fixtures or turned into a simple swag for your door.  Of course, you need to be cautious around flames!

Pine cones – Each year when my children were young, we’d visit the local cemetery and gather baskets of pinecones to decorate the house with.  To kill off the bugs and get them to open up, simply pop them on a cookie sheet in a warm oven (200) for an hour or so, then stash them in baskets, add them to the mantle, hang them from the tree, create a pinecone wreath, a bird feeder or sprinkle with a cinnamony Holiday Essential Oil Blend to healthfully fragrance your home.

Acorns, Buckeyes, Gum Tree balls, Rose Hips – These simple, natural elements look beautiful strung on wire!  Incorporate them into your garland on your stairway, hang them on the Christmas tree, add them to a basket or lantern on your table, toss them onto your mantle, fragrance them with essential oil and sit them around the doorways to greet your visitors!  Most of these can be found in any wooded area, just ask for permission before you begin gathering!

Hedge Apples -I love to see baskets of hedge apples sitting around during fall and winter!  Also called Osage oranges and horse apples, these funky-looking, inedible fruits have a fresh, slightly citrusy scent and are rumored to keep spiders away.  I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I love the bright shock of lime green and the funky texture that hedge apples offer to décor.

Magnolia Leaves – Don’t laugh, but when we visited some friends in South Carolina this summer, I was sure to bring home a HUGE bag of fallen Magnolia leaves to decorate with.  (I’m sure their neighbors shook their heads and declared I wasn’t from around those parts lol)  Plan A was a pine and magnolia wreath….plan B involved wiring them into ‘picks’ and tucking them into the stairway garland and Christmas tree.  I love the warm, cinnamon brown shades of the leaves among the evergreen!  And just seeing the leaves remind me of good friends and downtime in the Lowcountry.  Sigh.

But don’t stop there!  Any natural elements that you find beautiful can be incorporated into your décor!  I love to add pheasant feathers, antlers, cotton stems, dried citrus slices, broom corn, cinnamon sticks and Spanish moss to my decorating theme, but look to your own region, travels and experiences to find unique items that will delight your family.  Tell me how YOU bring nature indoors for the holidays…..

Preparing for the Worst

We talked a little earlier this week about the importance of having a stocked pantry for the inevitable bumps in the road, but with the numerous hurricanes and earthquakes impacting North America this month, I thought it might be a good idea to delve into preparing for emergencies.  Don’t wig out on me, I’m not talking fall-out suits, MREs and bunkers.  I’m talking practical preparedness: simple things you can do now, on the cheap, to be ready for an emergency.  I think we can break them down into 4 areas:  food/water, first aid, provisions for bugging-in and provisions for bugging out.  Let’s take this one area at a time.

Food/Water— We talked about food earlier this week, so let’s address water, which is even more valuable than food in an emergency.  In a disaster, the water supply is almost always compromised, whether we’re talking a hurricane, flood, earthquake or tornado…and it’s one of the first items to sell out at the market.  Don’t wait til the last minute to try to stock up on water when it’s free(ish) and readily available now.  FEMA recommends storing a minimum of 1 gallon per person per day for up to a week….that’s a lot of bottled water, but as it really doesn’t expire, it’s a sensible purchase.  If you’re so inclined, you may also consider some sort of water purifiers, either chemical or mechanical, as an added layer of protection.


Preparing for the worst, water is first!

First Aid— I’m married to a former combat medic, so our kit is probably a bit on the side of overkill…but a plain, basic kit will go a long way in preparing for a disaster.  Think bandages, antibiotic ointments, gauze, a small pair of scissors, tweezers, rubber gloves, rubbing alcohol or peroxide.  Be sure it’s in a convenient case and you know where it is located.  That’s as important as having the items themselves.


Provisions for Bugging In— This is a broad topic that you’ll have to tailor to your family and region, but consider what you’d do if you’re sheltering in place during a longer-term power loss.  How will you heat your home?  How will you light your home?  How do you plan on cooking?  Sleeping arrangements?  Safety?  Communication?  In a power outage, we heat our home with wood and cook on the woodstove in the kitchen or on the grill.  Our home is laid out so we can shut off the second story and sleep downstairs on air mattresses by the living room fireplace.  For lighting, we have oil lamps, wind-up lanterns, flashlights and candles.  We keep a supply of useful items such as duct tape, paracord or rope, lawn bags, plastic tarps and hand tools for emergency repairs.  Cell phones are always charged and the crank-up weather radio is ready in a flash.  Survey your own home and come up with a plan for heating, lighting and cooking that suits your family.


Provisions for Bugging Out— In case of an evacuation (mandatory or otherwise), keep your car in good working order with at least a half-tank of gas and safe tires.  You might consider keeping a kit in the trunk of your car with essential items for an emergency:  food, water, blankets, a flashlight, a first aid kit, road flares, rock salt/kitty litter, perhaps a sturdy pair of shoes, maps, duct tape, a tarp.  Again, this is a broad subject and you’ll have to tailor it to your region, vehicle and needs.


It would also be incredibly wise to put together a binder or lock box of vital papers, to either take with you or lock in a secure location like a bank.  Think along the lines of SS cards, birth certificates, insurance cards, licenses, adoption papers, wills…anything that would be difficult (or impossible) to replace following a disaster.  A lock box would also be ideal to store a bit of cash and important family heirlooms like Grandma’s diamond earrings that are indeed irreplaceable.

So this is just the briefest possible overview of preparing for an emergency but there is scads of more in-depth information out there.  Both the CDC and the Red Cross have useful websites, but your best option is to contact your own local emergency management site or sheriff (non-emergency number only!), as they’ll have information better suited to preparing you in your particular region.

Now please join me in prayer for our southern-most states as they prepare for Irma to make landfall.  God speed—