{A Glimpse into an Intentional Life}

Life with intention is often found in the details.  Slow down today and notice every little detail.

glimpse-intentional-life

Being intentional is easier said than done. It’s easier imagined than executed. So here’s where we inspire you every week with a simple picture and a few words. Think of this as a chance to help you realize the simplicity of intentional.

Be inspired. Allow gratitude and joy and beauty to sneak in with every intention. And then won’t you come back and share your moment with us? Or leave a link in the comments to your blog where you celebrate {A Glimpse into an Intentional Life}.

Nature Study: Henbit

This little plant is one of my favorites.  Last year it, alone, managed to pull me out of a dark winter funk.  It’s peppery and spinachy and purple and pretty and all of those things make me happy (well with the exception of spinachy…I have a loathing attitude toward all dark greens).

Henbit (Lamium ampelxicaule) is in the mint family.  Plants in the mint family are easy to recognize with their square, hollow stems, opposite leaves and usually aromatic leaves (think of plants like {obviously} the mints, but also basil, lavender, sage, and thyme).  Just roll that little stem between your fingers and you’ll feel how it doesn’t roll…because being square it has no round edges.  There are some plants with square stems that don’t fall in the mint family, but smelling the leaf will give you another clue.  Crush a leaf between your fingers and chances are, if it’s in the mint family, you’ll be rewarded with a delightful smell.

Henbit in its entirety

The best thing about henbit is that it is literally growing all over our city, most likely right outside your front door (and if it’s not in your yard, check your neighbors’ yards).  This makes it a no-excuse nature study plant since you don’t have far to go to see it.  It begins growing in the fall, goes dormant under the snow (or in cities like ours with beautiful, sunny winters, it just keeps growing) and then finishes up right around the time when spring begins.  Seeing henbit last year after a long, cold and gloomy winter let me breathe a sigh of deep relief knowing spring was on its way.

Henbit, just as the flowers are beginning to appear

My kids LOVE finding henbit.  Aside from its square stems (green when young, reddish-purple as it ages), it is easy to identify with its scalloped round leaves that grow in a rosette and its pretty little tubular flowers (the flowers, when open, remind me of a miniature orchid).  We all especially love finding it when it’s in our untreated yard…the entire plant is edible.  We nibble on it raw, but it can be cooked or used in a tea. You can toss it in smoothies or even make a pesto with it.

While it could be confused with purple deadnettle (Lamium purpureum), both have edible leaves (although you should wait to harvest deadnettle until it flowers so you can be sure you’ve properly identified it as it looks very similar to many plants early on, some of which are poisonous, and deadnettle should not be used when pregnant!).  Personally, I think the deadnettle leaves look very different from henbit, but at a glance, there are definite similarities between the two.  (Deadnettle is really only found in East Texas…I’ve never seen any growing in this area.)

Beware of creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens) as you first learn to identify henbit.  When it is young, it has leaves that are similar in shape to henbit.  Creeping buttercup will produce yellow flowers and will look quite different from henbit as it matures, but it’s still one to learn and be mindful of.

Henbit with budding flowers

Pop out in your neighborhood and see if you can find any henbit growing around you.  Come back and share with me what you’ve found!

{Being intentional is so much easier done when we slow down and really look around us.  Personally, we spend a lot of time in nature, partly because we follow a Charlotte Mason education, but mostly because it keeps us intentional in our thoughts and actions.  I invite you, in these Nature Study posts, to join us in our intentional journey…to train your eye to be observant, to relish the intricacies of the amazing world we live in and to spend more time with the people you love stopping to smell the roses, so to speak.  If you are in the South Texas area (Corpus Christi and the surrounding cities), then you’ll find these nature lessons tailored perfectly to you and your family…see if you can find what we’re finding!  If you live somewhere beyond our beautiful little corner of the world then use these lessons as a springboard…see what we’re observing, allow yourself to be inspired and then just get out there and be intentional, observant, and grateful for all the little surprises right outside your back door.}

{this moment}

{this moment} – A Friday ritual.   A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  If you’re inspired to do the same, visit Soulemama to leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

Nature Study: Brazilian Pepper Tree

Do you remember that part in The Lion King when all of the hyenas are gathered together and one of them says that Mufasa’s name makes them shudder?  And then one of the hyenas says “Mufasa” and they all shudder and so one says, “Ooh say it again.”  “Mufasa.”  And the hyenas shudder again.  That scene replays in my head every time I’m out in nature and somebody calls out Posion Ivy.  Every mom in the area visibly shudders.  I feel myself shudder and shiver and frantically look around to find the offending plant.

Imagine the horror I felt when I realized that we did a spontaneous object lesson on a plant IN THE SAME FAMILY as Posion Ivy, the Anacardiaceae family?  Obviously I shuddered.  And then I researched.  Turns out there are A LOT of plants in the same family as Poison Ivy.  Turns out the Anacardiaceae family, also known as the sumac family, has lots of our favorites in it like mangoes and cashews.  So what about this invasive Brazilian Pepper Tree that grows so beautifully around here that is also in the Anacardiaceae family?  Edible?  Poisonous?   And are those little pink peppers (the drupes) the same ones in my peppercorn mix that I adore?

Well…

The Brazilian Pepper Tree (schinus terebinthifolia) is sadly not the Peruvian Pink Pepper Tree (schinus molle) that produces the delicious pink peppercorn that is all the culinary rage these days.  Peruvian pink peppercorns are not related to the well-known tropical vine that produces black peppercorns {piper nigrum}; they fall in the same Anacardiaceae family as the Brazilian Pepper Tree.  They hail from Peru but grow well here in places like California, Texas and Florida and are safe to eat and are not known to contain any urushiol-type allergens, whereas the invasive Brazilian Pepper Tree is a tragically different story (tragic only because I shudder at urushiol-type allergens, apparently, and because I adore plants that I can eat and this is one of the former and not one of the latter).

The Brazilian Pepper Tree is a large ornamental shrub or tree that is native to Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay and was first brought to Florida in the mid 1800s.  Observing it showed us that it has alternate leaves that are pinnately compound.  Its leaves look very different from the Peruvian Pepper Tree, so it would be hard to confuse the two.  People who are sensitive to poison ivy, oak or sumac may also be allergic to the Brazilian Pepper Tree with reactions ranging from dermatitis to respiratory issues (respiratory issues seem to be an issue only during the blooming season).  The leaves, when crushed, have a peppery, resinous smell almost like black pepper mixed with turpentine.

While it is a pretty plant (sometimes it’s called the Christmasberry tree), it is incredibly invasive and not one to be encouraged.  Just like poison ivy, you can’t burn it to get rid of it or you’ll end up releasing its irritating chemicals into the air.  I actually had a really hard time finding reliable information about it…it did not show up in any of my plant or tree books.  If I’m reading it correctly, the FDA lists the triterpenes (a chemistry term that my brain just cannot process) of Schinus terebenthefolius as poisonous.  That being said, admire it, paint it, but consider keeping your distance.

{Being intentional is so much easier done when we slow down and really look around us.  Personally, we spend a lot of time in nature, partly because we follow a Charlotte Mason education, but mostly because it keeps us intentional in our thoughts and actions.  I invite you, in these Nature Study posts, to join us in our intentional journey…to train your eye to be observant, to relish the intricacies of the amazing world we live in and to spend more time with the people you love stopping to smell the roses, so to speak.  If you are in the South Texas area (Corpus Christi and the surrounding cities), then you’ll find these nature lessons tailored perfectly to you and your family…see if you can find what we’re finding!  If you live somewhere beyond our beautiful little corner of the world then use these lessons as a springboard…see what we’re observing, allow yourself to be inspired and then just get out there and be intentional, observant, and grateful for all the little surprises right outside your back door.}

{A Glimpse into an Intentional Life}

“In return for our discriminating and loving observation, Nature gives us the joy of a beautiful and delightful intimacy, a thrill of pleasure in the greeting of every old friend in field or hedgerow or starry sky, of delightful excitement in making a new acquaintance.”  Charlotte Mason in Volume 4: Ourselves

When was the last time you stopped and observed Nature?  Take a few moments today to soak up that “joy of a beautiful and delightful intimacy.”  You deserve this intentional moment.

Being intentional is easier said than done. It’s easier imagined than executed. So here’s where we inspire you every week with a simple picture and a few words. Think of this as a chance to help you realize the simplicity of intentional.

Be inspired. Allow gratitude and joy and beauty to sneak in with every intention. And then won’t you come back and share your moment with us? Or leave a link in the comments to your blog where you celebrate {A Glimpse into an Intentional Life}.

{A Glimpse into an Intentional Life}

At first glance, this looks like I snapped a photo at the wrong time.  The truth is, I didn’t notice the Daddy Longlegs at first either.  Sometimes it takes seeing the world through our children’s eyes for us to notice the details.  And life is all about the details.

with-every-intention-glimpse-intentional life

Being intentional is easier said than done. It’s easier imagined than executed. So here’s where we inspire you every week with a simple picture and a few words. Think of this as a chance to help you realize the simplicity of intentional.

Be inspired. Allow gratitude and joy and beauty to sneak in with every intention. And then won’t you come back and share your moment with us? Or leave a link in the comments to your blog where you celebrate {A Glimpse into an Intentional Life}.

Daybook

Outside my window…it is beautiful.  And sunny.  75 degrees.  Completely not normal January weather, but I’m not complaining.  I’m storing up these beautiful days in my memory for when the gloomy winter days begin again.  

I am remembering…January 3 years ago.  Katie hadn’t yet knocked out that infamous front tooth and she still had curls.  Andrew was just as big-eyed and expressive as today.  William was still just as inquisitive, always with a look of thought on his little face.  Joseph had a mop of curly hair and his same joyous sense of adventure.

I am thankful for…kids that still like to be pulled in the wagon (and a husband that will still pull them).

I am watching…this little girl re-enact the Christmas story (over and over again) with these adorable peg dolls from WoodnPlaytime on Etsy.  The animals in this story laugh a lot and often…I’d like to think that those present at the birth of Jesus found plenty of reasons to laugh and be JOYFUL.

I am wondering…what Willa doll thinks about being thrown into this crazy family.  

I am hoping…we all stop coughing and start sleeping again soon.  I’m tired.

I am pondering…this absolutely revolting thought that pathological consumption has become so normalized that we don’t even notice it.  So, so scary.  

I am praying…Grandma Morgan.  Peace, comfort, acceptance.  Please pray for her with me.

I am laughing…(now) at the drama that took place at breakfast.  William doesn’t like orange juice and he doesn’t like fried potatoes.  I like both.  So I often serve both.  So today I’m minding my own business, eating my breakfast taco (with fried potatoes) and drinking my orange juice when all of a sudden William pops up from his chair and red in the face is crying “help!”  He was choking.  On a fried potato.  That he used in a tutorial to Joseph to show him “How to Swallow a Fried Potato Whole and Get Rid of Your Orange Juice”.  Luckily all the orange juice came back out and the potato made it down.  Seriously….what.was.he.thinking?

I am admiringMystie Winkler and her Humble Habits program.  It’s the first program of hers that I’ve taken.  I love that she’s upfront about being a slob by nature but being able to overcome that tendency.  I’ve let things go since becoming a mom that really do matter to me and I’m hoping to take back some of those things this year.

I am planting…actually, nothing.  I am still watering what’s growing…calendula, Italian parsley, cilantro and some other culinary herbs.  I’m waiting to see what spring weeds pop up in my garden.

I am reflecting…on how there are no more “villages” to help us raise our kids anymore and how we, as mothers, suffer from this tragedy.

In the schoolroom…this is our first week back after the holidays.  Bookshelves are (somewhat) organized, lesson plans are made, pencils are (not) sharpened.

Around the house…I just sprayed Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Room Freshener and burnt some incense…trying to clear out the closed house smell and kill off all the roosting germs around here.

In the kitchen…soups, vegetables, whole grains, repeat.

I am wearing…an olive and tan striped skirt my talented sister-in-law gifted me a few years ago with a black Gap fitted shirt (and tan footies because my feet are always cold…even when it’s a balmy 75 degrees outside (which it totally is).

We are preparing for…a busy spring.  Hopefully full but not too full (like that year we signed up for everything!)

Someday I am going to miss…the pure excitement on their faces at Christmas.

daybook-with-every-intention

I am readingThe Distant Hours by Kate Morton (I’m totally already sucked in) and The Opposite of Spoiled by Ron Lieber.  

One of my favorite things

A peek into my day

Please visit The Simple Woman’s Daybook for more daybook entries.

{this moment}

with-every-intention-this-moment

{this moment} – A Friday ritual.   A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  If you’re inspired to do the same, visit Soulemama to leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

Nature Study: Ashe Juniper

If you live in Texas, chances are, you’ve heard of Cedar Fever, a common ailment of those who live in the Hill Country.  It is, ironically, not actually a fever, nor is it caused by cedar.  It is an allergic response to the pollen from the ashe juniper tree (juniperus ashei), commonly known as the mountain juniper (or mountain cedar), which is found all over the Edwards Plateau.  Curious as to why these Junipers got stuck with the name of cedar?  Pop over here for those details.

For those that suffer from the infamous cedar fever, symptoms range from runny nose and itchy eyes to fatigue and congestion.  While the pollen counts are typically highest during the winter, Cedar season can stretch well into March.  Not a fun time for those that are affected (as this author so well articulates).

William was happy to demonstrate the release of the pollen although we saw plenty of clouds of pollen being released by the wind without William’s help.

For the rest of us, though, Ashe Junipers are an interesting study.  Ashe Junipers are in the Cypress family.  They are dioecious, meaning there are male and female trees.  The female variety has delightful blue fruit that closely resembles a berry, but is in actuality a modified cone; the males produce cones that hold the pollen that leads to the dreaded cedar fever.

Last year we visited Balcones Canyonlands and hiked through dense ashe juniper growth, not really stopping to appreciate the complexity of the junipers.  So recently when we did some camping at Lost Maples, we seized the opportunity to learn more.

At Balcones Canyonlands there were Ashe Junipers as far as we could see.

Ashe Junipers literally cover the landscape along the Edwards Plateau.  I went back through our old pictures from campgrounds in the Hill Country and sure enough, there was the Ashe Juniper dotting the background of the vast majority of our photos.

Entering the East Trail at Lost Maples brought us up close and personal to an Ashe Juniper grove.

Upon close examination by the children, we made quite a few little interesting notes.

On the St. Edward’s Trail in Austin, Katie discovered the joy of the cedar smell on the Ashe Junipers.

First of all, the leaves, which are scale-like, give off a delightful cedar smell when rubbed between little fingers.  (I seriously wash about as much in juniper leaves as I do in socks…pretty sure my kids fill their pockets with the cedar-smelling leaves of every tree they pass because who doesn’t love the smell of cedar?)  The foliage of the Ashe Juniper stays a lovely dark green throughout the winter, whereas the foliage of the Eastern Red Juniper changes to something of an olive green to a yellowish green, often turning bronze during the winter season.

The fruit, a berry-look-alike, are blue and apparently make an easy addition to a nature journal as a few of the kids chose to make that tiny fruit the star of their journaling page.  The “berry” produced is not the juniper berry used medicinally nor is it the berry used to make gin, but it is a favorite amongst birds and wildlife critters like deer, raccoons, and coyotes.

Ashe Junipers are multi-trunked (making it easy to differentiate between the Ashe Juniper and the single-trunked Eastern Red Juniper, both of which have blue fruit; the other Junipers in Texas have red fruit). The bark of the Ashe Juniper is seriously so fun!  It flakes off in long strips which makes it an enticing find for the rare Golden Cheeked Warblers who use it to make their nests.  The bark also has white rings on it (again, unlike the Eastern Red Juniper), which is why it is commonly referred to as white cedar.

We could easily spot the female trees with their fruit and soon found ourselves quickly spotting the male trees with their cones which are essentially their pollen sacs.  The flower is produced in the winter, with fruit maturing in the summer and fall and then seeds being dispersed during the winter.

Here I am holding a small twig taken off of a male tree beside the branch of a female tree.

I’m not entirely sure, but this looks remarkably like a juniper gall.

Another gall on the male variety?

Here are the infamous pollen sacs on the male trees.

Here are the modified cones of the female trees, the blue “fruit” of the Ashe Juniper.

So tell me what you see when you look at this photo…(you should be able to identify the Ashe Junipers and tell me which are male and which are female!)

{Being intentional is so much easier done when we slow down and really look around us.  Personally, we spend a lot of time in nature, partly because we follow a Charlotte Mason education, but mostly because it keeps us intentional in our thoughts and actions.  I invite you, in these Nature Study posts, to join us in our intentional journey…to train your eye to be observant, to relish the intricacies of the amazing world we live in and to spend more time with the people you love stopping to smell the roses, so to speak.  If you are in the South Texas area (Corpus Christi and the surrounding cities), then you’ll find these nature lessons tailored perfectly to you and your family…see if you can find what we’re finding!  If you live somewhere beyond our beautiful little corner of the world then use these lessons as a springboard…see what we’re observing, allow yourself to be inspired and then just get out there and be intentional, observant, and grateful for all the little surprises right outside your back door.}

{A Glimpse into an Intentional Life}

Sometimes we get so focused on whatever it is we’re doing, whatever task we’re completing, whatever thing we’re checking off our to-do list, that we fail to notice the beauty surrounding us.  And it’s everywhere.  We just have to open our eyes and slow down a bit.

intentional-living-with-every-intention

Being intentional is easier said than done.  It’s easier imagined than executed.  So here’s where we inspire you every week with a simple picture and a few words.  Think of this as a chance to help you realize the simplicity of intentional. 

Be inspired.  Allow gratitude and joy and beauty to sneak in with every intention.  And then won’t you come back and share your moment with us?  Or leave a link in the comments to your blog where you celebrate {A Glimpse into an Intentional Life}. 

 

 

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