There once was a girl, more than a few years ago.

Long hair in braids, suntanned skin, and bare feet on most days.

She loved to roam among the trees, be in a stream on in the in-between.

Others said “silly girl, get out of your make-believe world, the world is hard

and you must work, leave behind your thoughts of faeries, spirits, and Magick and such.”

She escaped for a bit and created a secret cave. She made shelves in the earth

to hold treasures that she made like pottery, wind chimes, tinctures like Gran and so much more and life felt grand. That summer, she lived wild and free. Barefoot, tan and happy as could be. She played in the waters, used nature as her haven, she talked to animals and faeries and the spirits in the wind. She spent the summer in solitude, as an only child can do. She was happy to be with books and dreams, of places that could only be found in the in-between.

The summer ended, and she returned to school. She was always friendly, looking for friends to share. It just seemed hard because she never found anyone who understood her world and her cares. A world filled with faeries, intuition, and guidance ~ a world filled with secrets, and fear, and misunderstandings. Gifts from beyond the world’s concepts of gifts. Not clothes, or jewels, or makeup or things. Her gifts were weeds, stones, feathers, and natural things. So she learned to be quiet. It was easier that way. Avoiding the laughs or the sneers that would come back to her “oh girl, you need to get real

you really don’t belong In this world.”

Early that fall she ran to her cave, after days of school where she felt afraid. She didn’t understand why no one else could see, this special world where she wanted to be. As she ran to her cave, she stopped dead in her tracks. All her collections, creations and gifts were all broken, smashed, and cracked. Her cave had been filled with the earth. She fell to her knees and cried from her heart. She ran home for sympathy, but found a misunderstanding heart. Her Granny held her tight and told her sometimes there would be pain and loss, but she would be okay. Maybe her world wasn’t meant to be what she hoped. Maybe the others were right, she needed to see what the world was showing her what she should be.

So little by little, her world began to change. The faeries were silenced, the wee folk too, the spirits weren’t so strong, they couldn’t break through. The girl tried to fit what everyone wanted her to be, to make them happy, it would work, they’d all see. So little by little she lost her soul. The days of golden skin and so many stories to be told. She did all the right things. She grew up to be what her parents had told her was the appropriate way for the world to see.


In those years of living with no in-between, she tried to be a teacher, a professional, a wife, a mother, a volunteer, and so many things the world wanted to see. She carried with in each of those things a little bit of the Magick from the girl who played in the rain. She tried so hard, and she became so broken. The rules of society, the acceptance of others, she tried so many things to find the acceptance, love, and peace that she lacked. She tried and tried and only lost more of that girl each and every day. The world could see what they wanted to see. The facade of the smile, the clothes, the cars, the perfectly clean house, and the volunteer stars. Somewhere buried underneath the facade, that little girl from years gone by, refused to let the magic die. She held that flame close inside of the person that she loved most. Her only hope was that one day, the magic would break through for others to see.



After years of trying to be what the world wanted her to be. The girl-woman woke up. She felt bruised, battered, tattered and torn. Her insides felt ripped and shredded into pieces. She had suffered pain, sickness, abuse, control and more. She’d lost herself in what the world was looking for. It made her physically ill to see the years that she’d spent trying to be what the world wanted her to be. She looked in the mirror, and didn’t recognize what she was about to see. She saw sad. She saw tired. She saw scared and worn. She’d made so many mistakes in trying to be what the world wanted, what her parents wanted, what everyone wanted from her to be. She asked for the first time in years, Great Spirit “Please don’t leave me here.” I see now what I wished I had seen for years.” Great Spirit answered her quietly in her heart, “ Dear girl, you’re much more than you can see in your worth. You are now a mother. You learned caring and unconditional love. A love from your child is a gift from above. In your pains, your learned the importance of kindness, empathy and care. You have a heart that can see the pain of others because you’ve been there. You’ve been without, so you can understand, when someone needs a hand for food, for shelter, and more, you’re there. You’ve lived through the judgment so you judge no more. You’ve lived through many things while we watched from above. The world has now given you what you can use to create love.”

She cried, “Great Spirit! I see! I see what I’ve always wanted to be. I want to heal the pains that I now understand. I want to save animals and give them good land. I want to grow crops, to feed people and animals and more. I want to use crops to make what my ancestors died for. I want to see healing in this world. I want to be a part of no judgement for many; no race, no color, no ethnic group, no beliefs, will keep me from sharing my healing beliefs. “ Great Spirit said “you’re almost there. You’ve learned many lessons along the way. You still have more to learn to pave this way.” The girl woman knew, she always tried to do it all with no one by her side. She knew that she had learned to seek help along the way. It was a hard lesson for the girl who walked alone, for so many years, but it was time to let go and face her fears. She needed to seek her village, her people, her crew; to find other people who could see the work that was needed to do.

Now reading this tale, you may have guessed who that girl woman would be, and the answer is that girl woman is me. She has scars. She has pain. She has the strength to rise above, and finally live the life that she will love. Not just to survive this world now, but to REALLY live a life with purpose, and guidance and care. Love from within and love from above. She will share her love with the animals, the people and the earth that she loves. She will teach what’s she’s learned from life skills and more. Growing, harvesting, cooking of food ~ one of her greatest loves gained in this journey through the world. Writing and reading stories old and new; gifts for adults and children too. The animals will be brought from far and near. Their lives will be rescued, and they’ll learn to share the pains they endured, and how they learned to care. Just like the girl woman, they’ll share a space to call “home” and a healing place.

The girl woman cried from deep in her soul. The bruises, the ridicule, the judgments, the pain, how could so much hurt exist in one being. Is there even a chance of finding a way to be free, to find the joy that she longed to see. The two boys who called her Mom were her greatest gifts from the beyond. For them she wanted to push through, so they could truly see what their mother was meant to do. In a way, their existence, was giving her the strength to find a real life without the excuses and jumping through hoops to make others happy and destroying her worth. She began to see the other gifts that had been unearthed through the pains ~ empathy, kindness, courage, and strength. These things, the little girl did not hold until she lived through the world as she was told. Now she’s coming back to the in-between, bringing her natural gifts and the lessons learned, the skills required to make a life turn.


The girl-woman courageously lifted her hands and head to the sky, I will be the person that I was meant to be before I die. I will lift my voice, my body and more to make a safe place on this earth like my cave was for me from before.

She began her search, not without struggle, the earthlings still could not see what this girl woman could see in the in-between. She saw pastures of green, and faeries in the woods. She saw animals in healing spaces, and people with them healing their own human hearts from all their disgraces. She saw long tables filled with food from the hills. She saw workshops with wares that local hands had milled ~ adornments, pottery, herbs and more. She saw how she could fill a little store. She saw a simpler kind of life. No corporate meetings, no competitions fighting to find that corner office for everyone else to see. She saw peace in abundance under a hazy blue sky. She saw water in streams and people passing by. She saw the mountains of her ancestors and their right to be free. All away from what the world thought they should be.


She cried, “Great Spirit! I see! I see what I’ve always wanted to be. I want to heal the pains that I now understand. I want to save animals and give them good land. I want to grow crops, to feed people and animals and more. I want to use crops to make what my ancestors died for. I want to see healing in this world. I want to be a part of no judgement for many; no race, no color, no ethnic group, no beliefs, will keep me from sharing my healing beliefs. “ Great Spirit said “you’re almost there. You’ve learned many lessons along the way. You still have more to learn to pave this way.” The girl woman knew, she always tried to do it all with no one by her side. She knew that she had learned to seek help along the way. It was a hard lesson for the girl who walked alone, for so many years, but it was time to let go and face her fears. She needed to seek her village, her people, her crew; to find other people who could see the work that was needed to do.


Now reading this tale, you may have guessed who that girl woman would be, and the answer is that girl woman is me. She has scars. She has pain. She has the strength to rise above, and finally live the life that she will love. Not just to survive this world now, but to REALLY live a life with purpose, and guidance and care. Love from within and love from above. She will share her love with the animals, the people and the earth that she loves. She will teach what’s she’s learned from life skills and more. Growing, harvesting, cooking of food ~ one of her greatest loves gained in this journey through the world. Writing and reading stories old and new; gifts for adults and children too. The animals will be brought from far and near. Their lives will be rescued, and they’ll learn to share the pains they endured, and how they learned to care. Just like the girl woman, they’ll share a space to call “home” and a healing place.


This farm will be home to the fae and the wee. The flowers and herbs will be gifts for the bees and people to see. The food will be fresh and the water pure. Warm fires, soft beds, fresh air, and peace ~ these are some of the gifts this farm will be. The people crossing this bridge, will carry heavy burdens and hearts . Their hearts and bodies may in pain, but with time and sharing, they will heal again. To carry back out to the world a bit of life in the in-between. And when they cross the bridge back to the world, may they carry a light. A light to guide from the in-between, to heal this sad world from all it torn souls and broken dreams.


Sweet Basil Life Farm is a dream coming true. The girl-woman is me ~ releasing pain, hurt, anger and fear to grow into a woman that people can hear. To stand for truth, for equality, for acceptance, for peace, for understanding and mostly for love ~ this place holds no judgements or preconceptions of what someone should be. Because this girl-woman has recognized who she was before the world told her who she should be.

The concept of creating an existence that is peaceful and free. To creating a home to share with family by blood and family by choice ~ to share with people searching for healing, peace, acceptance, and more. The world of Sweet Basil Life acknowledges the Great Spirit and the realms. Mother Earth is to be honored, protected, and held. She will then share her gifts for all who wish to be what Great Spirit meant them to be. This world is founded in peace and love ~ my rose colored glasses have been polished and cleaned. They allow me to see this world of the in-between. Sweet Basil Life Farm will thrive to offer a life between the modern world and the world of old. My Old Soul speaks in Cherokee and Gaelic. My new soul sings in Indie and Techno. Shoes are optional. Requirements include a spirit that is free to learn what this world has taught us not to be. In turn, the gifts to be received are humility, humanity, peace, acceptance, and most of all love.


They journey isn’t over. There are obstacles to overcome. My spirit is believing what is needed will be. Please keep an open heart and an open eye for what the future shall be. The work being done now is in striving to see a gate that says “Welcome to Sweet Basil Life Farm ~ the In-Between ~ a place where you can be the REAL you for the world to see “







Have you ever had someone in your life, that you knew deep down, that they were an angel sent to help guide your way. I’ve had such experiences as this most of my life at various times. When I came back to North Carolina, after years of being away, the plan was not to stay. Unlike most of my life, this was not planned out. I came back to aging parents, illness, and them needing help. My plans ended and the journey began on figuring out a way to survive staying in North Carolina and taking care of them. Everything I did revolved around that goal. I was sent an angel that helped me muddle my way through the swamp.

After years of struggling to “find” myself through divorce, raising kids, businesses and just life in general, I thought I was finally on a path. The path veered once again, and I was left forging a new road. I decided to open a home décor boutique and design studio. Interior design was my degree and calling. Having a boutique shoppe was a dream. I decided that this would allow me income and allow me the flexibility to help my parents. My Mom passed away before I even got the businesses really started. I was then left in a situation of a new business and caring for my Dad. Starting a business in the midst of all this was insane. I knew what I could do, but I’d never done it while managing a father with health issues and dementia. I’m stubborn enough that I wouldn’t give up without trying.


A friend from high school reconnected with me when she was home for a visit. She planned to come by the shoppe and visit. She brought her Mom, Ms. Hilda. It was like a ray of sunshine blew in the day they visited. After her visit, Sharon would head back to Pennsylvania, and Ms Hilda was still close by living alone. She became my instant supporter and daily visitor. Ms. Hilda loved her gardenI got, her antiques, her church family, and she loved me. Many days in the midst of chalk paint, crackers for lunch, and juggling my Dad, she would just “pop” in with a smile, a cold drink and a helping hand.

Ms. Hilda was my Dad’s age. Sharon and I had known each other in high school, but neither of us really visited each other’s homes. Meanwhile, years and states had grown in-between us reconnecting. One night, after having a Ms. Hilda visit during the day, I mentioned her to my Dad. I was totally shocked that they knew each other and had since early childhood. My Dad talked about knowing her husband, when they got married, and the struggles that she had overcome through her life. He told me about she she first got married and would go grocery shopping. He said “ the cart was almost as tall as she was”. She might have been little, but she was tough. In those smiling memories of her that my Dad relayed, he kept a lot back. I knew a little. He knew a heck of a lot more than I did.



Ms. Hilda was a tiny little thing. I called her my Pixie. She was always smiling. I can literally hear her in my head, bouncing step into my Shoppe, with her “ hello honey”. I swear, she was a garden fairy, but so much more than that she was an angel. Her kids were out of town, and I was alone with my Dad. My Mom had just passed away, and she gave me that motherly advice that I didn’t have. She also was a beautiful soul that you could talk to about anything with no judgement, no shame, and no worries. She knew what I was dealing with caring for my Dad. She also knew that I was doing it alone. She had spent many, many years doing it alone.

One spring afternoon, Ms. Hilda popped in for an afternoon visit. It was in the middle of the week and quiet. She had been working in her yard all day, and took a break to stop in. We were in the store alone. I had no appointments, and no plans for the rest of the day other than typical daily chores. She came in and took a look at my display changes, picked up a bar of gardener’s soap, and settled in with an ice cold Coke. . We started chatting about the usual stuff. She always brought such joy to whatever we were discussing. We somehow got on the topic of marriage, relationships, children, struggles and life. I ended up locking the door early that day. No one came and interrupted the conversation. She told me some very personal things about her life and marriage. She talked to me about how life’s struggles had made her faith and her ability to live stronger. She asked me a few questions that only an angel could have known. I told her of my marriage, divorce and life afterwards. The good, the bad and the ugly. She told me to not hang on to those bad and uglies. She told me it was okay to remember, but not to hold them in to poison what my life could be. Something broke in me that day. Something that years of therapy had not helped. I remember only a few times in my life crying like I did that day. It was like my angel sat with me. She understood many of my past situations because she had dealt with them herself. She showed no judgement or attitude; she showed only love and understanding. She helped me heal a place in my soul that was a bubbling pot of grime. Because of her own story, I knew that letting it go was not only possible, but real because I saw it in her. She changed my life that day.

A few months later, Ms. Hilda came in and said she was down-sizing and going to move in with “her girls”. She planned to split the year – six months in Pennsylvania and six months in Florida. This was all from an extremely independent, thriving woman. She then told me that she had a few things that she wanted me to have. She said her kids didn’t want them, and she knew that I’d appreciate her “old junk”; Not anywhere close to “junk” in my mind. She gave me this wonderful old trunk, an amazing China cabinet, her walnut mantel, cookbooks, china, silver and the biggest pot of rosemary I’ve ever seen. I asked her over and over if she was sure about giving stuff away. Repeatedly she said “yes“. I moved her gifted items to the store and home. She would take no money for anything. They became my Ms.Hilda treasures.

Not long too long after she started down-sizing, I had to close due to my Dad’s increased illness. He had gone into heart failure, and was placed on hospice care. Through all this, I still spoke to her at least every few days. On a beautiful day, kind of like today, the sun was shining and a spring breeze was blowing. I was in my chicken coop having some afternoon chicken bonding time when I got a phone call. Not only had Ms. Hilda given me her friendship and a healing heart, she had connected me with her nephew, who quickly became a member of my very small group of bests. He was the one who called me to let me know that she had passed away in her sleep. I sat with my chickens and my dog and flooded the barnyard with tears. I will always believe that she felt something, and that’s why she gave them those items before she passed away. I’m glad that she was able to see how much joy they brought to me before she left this realm.


I know Ms. Hilda is watching over me. I feel her deeply many days. I have her cabinet with all my treasures in my creative space. It has her Skelton keys hanging on the front (She joked that only I would know what to do with them) I have her cookbooks on my shelf with my collection. Her trunk and mantel are at home in my den. In the cabinet is still a corner of her items ~ a glass box with seashells, a starfish, a sand dollar, tones, a jar of old buttons and an old lock. She left me these “things”. More importantly, she left me with knowing what no judgement feels like, what peace feels like, and what true friendship feels like. She gave me her gift of love. She unlocked my heart. Today, I honor her, and the day she became a true angel. She was already a Pixie Angel. She was a truly magical soul that changed me in many ways.



Ms. Hilda thank you for your strength, your guidance, your example, your gifts, and your connections. More importantly, thank you for sharing your true loving spirit with this world.


Make ahead meals for the refrigerator or freezer are great time savers. Soup alone can be a great meal. Add a sandwich or salad, and most everyone is happy.


Soup! One of those cozy meal ideas for me. Whatever the season, I like soup! Making batches of soup ahead or making extra when preparing for a meal, can give you that make-ahead lunch or dinner from your freezer. Homemade is so much better than a can, and if you have containers in the freezer, they’re easy to pop out and heat for a quick meal. I’m posting several of my favorite soup recipes today. During this shutdown, I’m basically cooking for one all the time. Making a pot of soup and freezing individual containers has given me quick meals without having to start from scratch every day. I hope you enjoy these as much as I do.



A Beautiful Blend of Root Veggies, Herbs and Spices One of my favorite soup recipes is Butternut Squash Soup. I seriously could have it at least once a week. Fresh ingredients and a Dutch Oven are always a combination for yumminess!


Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients

6 slices bacon

3 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed

3 carrots peeled and diced

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon thyme

1 large onion thick sliced

4 cloves garlic minced

4 cups low sodium chicken stock

-- use veggie stock for a vegetarian option.

1/2 cup half and half (or heavy cream)

INSTRUCTIONS

In a Dutch Oven, brown bacon until crisp. Remove and set aside. Drain all bacon drippings leaving about 1 Tablespoon in the pot. Add onions and garlic. Cook until just becoming tender. Add butternut squash, carrots, and 3 cups of stock. Bring all to a simmer over medium heat and cook until vegetables are tender. Remove from heat and let cool for about 20 minutes.

BLENDER:

Transfer soup from pot to blender. Add cayenne, salt and pepper if needed. You may need to work in batches of two or three depending on the size of your blender.) Blend until smooth. Be careful with the steam that may lift out from the centre of the lid.

Transfer soup into a pot and warm over medium heat to serve. (Check thickness and add remaining stock, if needed, to thin It out.)

TO SERVE:

Stir in the half and half or cream. Serve immediately.

Cooled leftover soup can be stored in air tight containers. Refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

A Hearty Potato Soup Never Disappoints


An inexpensive soup to make, Potato Soup has alwas been a favorite around my house. The key to this recipe for me is using Yupkn Gold Potaoes. They always seem to cook oerfectly for this soup. Add a few garnishes at the end, and its like a baked potato in soup form.


Potato Soup

INGREDIENTS

6 slices bacon, diced

3 tablespoons (reserved) bacon grease or butter

1 cup diced yellow onion

4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock

2 cups half n’ half warmed

1.5 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, diced

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon sea salt, or more to taste

1/2 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper

Optional Garnishes: thinly-sliced green onions or chives, extra shredded cheese, extra bacon, sour cream

INSTRUCTIONS:

Heat a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add diced bacon and cook until crispy, stirring occasionally. Transfer the bacon to a separate plate. Using a slotted spoon, reserving about 3 tablespoons of bacon grease in the stockpot. (Discard any extra grease, or you can substitute butter in place of the 3 tablespoons of bacon grease.)

Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft. Stir in the garlic and sauté for an extra 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender Stir the flour into the mixture and sauté for an additional 1 minute to cook the flour, stirring occasionally. Then stir in the stock until combined, followed by the potatoes.

Continue cooking until the mixture just reaches a simmer, before it begins to boil. Then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are soft, being sure to stir the soup every few minutes so that the bottom does not burn. Add half n’ half, stir until well combined.

Once the potatoes are nice and soft, stir in the cheddar cheese and sour cream, salt, pepper and cooked bacon bits. Taste and season with extra salt and pepper, if needed.

Serve warm, garnished with desired toppings. Or, transfer to a sealed container and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze up to 3 months.

Parmesan Tomato Bisque





Parmesan Tomato Bisque Soup is another favorite of mine. I love to take left over sourdough bread and toast up some fresh croutons. An added bonus is to make Pimento Cheese and add a sandwich. With or without a sandwich, this recipe can stand on its own.

Parmesan Tomato Bisque

Ingredients

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 slices of bacon, chopped

1 Vidalia or Sweet onion, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

5 tablespoons all-purpose flour

5 cups Chicken Stock

1 (28-ounce) can whole, peeled tomatoes (with liquid), roughly chopped

3 parsley sprigs

3 fresh thyme sprigs

3 fresh basil leaves

1 bay leaf

½ cup finely grated Parmesan Cheese

1 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Finely grated Parmesan

Sour Dough Croutons

Finely Chopped Parsley

Directions

Heat the butter in a large Dutch Oven medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring, until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel and set aside. Lower the heat to medium, add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until soft about 8 – 10 minutes.

Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Pour in the broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil while whisking constantly. Tie the basil, parsley sprigs, thyme, and bay leaf together with a piece of kitchen twine and add to the pot. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

When the soup base is cool, remove and discard the herb bundle. Working in batches, transfer the mixture to a blender and puree until smooth. Using a sieve over a large bowl, strain the tomato puree. Return the puree to the pot and reheat over medium heat.

Whisk the heavy cream, Parmesan Cheese, and salt into the soup and season with pepper to taste.

Garnish with Sour Dough Croutons, Parmesan Cheese and a sprinkle of Parsley

Leftovers can be stored in air-tight containers for up to 3 days in the refrigerator or 3 months in the freezer Chicken Tortilla Soup


I’m always up for a little Tex-Mex and this soup is an easy way to accomplish it. Fresh ingredients and tortilla chips, what else could you need.



Chicken Tortilla Soup

Ingredients

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 tablespoons minced garlic

2 jalapeños, finely diced

5 cups chicken stock

One 14.5-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes

One 14.5-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained

3 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless

1 teaspoon of cumin

2 limes, juiced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Garnish:

Sharp Cheddar Cheese grated

Sour Cream

Tortilla Strips

In a large Dutch Oven heat the vegetable oil. Add the onions and cook until they begin to softened. Once the onions have softened add the garlic and jalapeños and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Pour the chicken broth, tomatoes and beans into the pot and bring to a boil. Once at a boil lower heat to simmer and add the chicken breasts. Cook the chicken for 20 to 25 minutes. Once chicken is cooked through remove from pot. Set it aside to cool. When the chicken is cool enough, shred and return to opt. . Add cumin, lime juice and fresh cilantro to the pot. Ladle soup in a bowl and top with sour cream, cheese and tortilla strips.

Refrigerate leftovers for up to three days or freeze for up to three months in air-tight containers

I truly hope you get a chance to try these and enjoy them as much as I do. The cookbook will begin selling in July, and there is a whole chapter on soups. So grab your favorite pot and brew up some soup magic 🌿






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