Thursday, March 21, 2013

A little visitor

Today I saw a bird in the brush that was rather plain looking but had a beautiful song. I watched him perched on a branch, his throat rolling up and down as he sang his heart out. I tried to memorize his coloring and his beak shape, although as I said he was pretty plain. Once inside, I became a little frustrated, because all my bird books wanted me to believe it was a bushtit,

Bushtit Photo Wrentit Photo

and I thought it looked like one too but when I researched it online, the bushtit didn't have the same lovely song I had heard.

A little more digging revealed the wrentit, which is much more rare, but has the lovely song. If you visit this page and scroll down, you can click and listen to the second of three songs listed. That's the one.


This little bird brought a big thought to me today. How sad it must be, I thought, to have no distinguishing features. In fact, if it wasn't for his song, I would've marked him off as a bushtit and called it a day. But he would've been quite misunderstood.

Sometimes I can feel like my life is pretty non-descript, or even that I might honestly be labelled as plain. I'm a pretty simple person and I don't have the exciting lifestyle that so many of us dream about. But I also believe that each person was made uniquely by God for just such a time and place as they are in now, that each person has a destiny. And our destiny is to, in our various ways, sing our heart's song to the world. What a lovely thing it would be to stop our work every once in awhile, lift our eyes from the task at hand and just listen to someone else's song - their life story, their passions, what makes them unique. I think we will find that no one can ever truly be described as plain. We each have a part to play in a Great Symphony.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Easter Wheatgrass

I remember seeing in a magazine one time these Easter baskets with live grass in them. And I thought, "Oh that's cute and folksy and eco-friendly and old-fashioned. And I'd probably love to do that but who knows if I ever will." In other words, I filed it away in my mind. I don't even think I had kids then. And Easter has never really been a very "big" holiday in our family, so I had no need to use it right away.

A couple of years ago my mother-in-law gave my older son a basket with real grass and I told her how much I loved it. The mental file was brought to the front of my mind.

This year, we are going to be visiting some of my nieces and nephews for Easter. So my basket tally went from maybe 2 to a possible 6. Obviously I started thinking about what kinds of things I would want to include in these baskets, the first I have ever made, by the way: healthy treats and small books are a nice alternative to too much candy. Maybe a toy or two but I like to keep things simple in the baskets so that it doesn't distract too much from the meaning we find in the holiday. 

Then there was the grass! I finally had a reason to attempt it, but I wasn't sure where to begin. A quick call to my mother-in-law revealed that she had bought a whole bag (albeit the smallest one available) of actual lawn grass from the home improvement store. She figured she could always use the extra in their landscaping. Well... I would've been down for that. Except the smallest bag I could find was $15 and I knew I could figure something else out. Also, I wasn't in the market for leftover lawn grass at the moment.

I researched other grasses, and I finally decided on wheatgrass. If you are interested in doing something like this, you can easily buy wheatgrass at your health food store already grown and just pop it in. Easy peasy! But it was gonna cost me about $5 a pop so maybe $30 for all. Plus, you know I like doing things the hard way. Haha. So anyway, I decided I could probably grow my own. I walked around the corner to the next aisle over in the health food store and found hard wheat berries or wheatgrass berries in their bulk food section. Grabbed a few scoops full, up the the register and bam - 65 cents! That's more like it...

I found several versions of how to grow wheatgrass, but I went with the instructions I found here.

Here's how we did it:

Soak berries overnight. I read to make sure you don't soak longer than 24 hours as they may go rancid after that.

Line a basket. You can use an old plastic grocery bag or saran wrap. Or anything else that's water proof. If your basket is somewhat loosley woven, you can lay some fabric down first to hide the plastic. Add a layer of soil to about 1/3 the height of the basket. You don't want too much dirt, because it will make the basket heavy.

Spread seeds (or "berries") in a single layer across the top of the basket. I found a handsome helper to assist me with this step.

Then we soaked the seeds with a water bottle and left them in a sunny spot with a little saran lid to keep the moisture in. I'm told the trick the first few days is to keep the seeds moist.

Boy, you know what? If anyone ever feels like they have a black thumb or gets discouraged in their gardening endeavors, growing something quick like wheatgrass sure is encouraging. :)

We were very excited to see this is what we had on day 3:

And only one week from when we planted the seeds:

Ten days old here:

Wow, that grew faster than I thought! At this rate, my problem is too much grass! I will have to trim it before Easter and I hope it will still keep growing in green and lush and not turn yellow on me or something! That would figure. If I do it again next year, I will wait a bit later, like 2 weeks before Easter instead of 4 weeks.

But, that also means that you still have plenty of time to try this out if you want to. ;)

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