Summer Guest Post Series :: Meet Nichole

I am so honored to have a lovely group of friends house-sitting the blog while I am away. Each of them has chosen something summer-ish to share here with you. Do take a moment to say hello to them~

Today I welcome Nichole of Live Free……. 

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I’d like to thank Stephinie for welcoming me to her sweet spot. It is such an honor and pleasure to be a guest here at Gypsy Forest.

Last week commenced the start of another slow summer for my daughter and I. During the school year, we host an in-home learning community serving preschool age children. It’s a gentle and cozy program which brings so much joy into our daily lives.  However, when June arrives, we embrace summer with a heartfelt tight squeeze.  Summer has become our cherished, longtime friend.  Like a longtime friend, she is someone who knows our whole story:  the funny, the silly, the heartbroken, the insecure, the strong, the loving, the brave, and the triumphant parts that make up who we are.  And she loves us all the more for it.  No explanations necessary.

That’s what  summer feels like in my home. Comfort. Ease. Coming home. Simple.

Becasue, summer is…

Unscheduled time spent coming and going from indoors to outdoors. Worlds created and brought to life, undocumented and unplanned. Spontaneous, here and now.  Sweaty, sticky hairlines, grimey little toes and hands. All sights and smells of a good day. 

Stories on the couch — audiobooks and paper books alike, for home-made popsicles, and front yard juice stands. 

Available moments to explore the neighborhood and to enjoy impromptu visits with neighbors. 

Milkshakes and Texas swing music on Saturday evenings at the local biergarten, water hose fights and afternoon sewing sessions. 

Road trips, song play lists, maps, the packed car, us, no one else, the roll of conversations as miles and miles of our country pass our window’s view.  Watching the world go by.

Evening bike rides, toes dipped in the river, and sunflowers dancing in the morning light. 

Ice coffee, picnics on the porch, and the steady hum of cicadas. 

Time to sit, time to reconnect, and most of all, time to just be. 

Summer, I never realize how much I love and appreciate all that it is you have to offer, until I’m here with you, and everything is as it should be. 







Nichole blogs about the ordinary moments of her days at Live Free. I stumbled upon her blog years ago, brand new in Louisiana and she introduced me to my group of amazing friends. I am eternally grateful for this…. truly.


Summer Guest Post Series :: Meet Meg

I am so honored to have a lovely group of friends house-sitting the blog while I am away. Each of them has chosen something summer-ish to share here with you. Do take a moment to say hello to them~

Today I welcome Meg of Four WIld Blueberries……. 

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My garden will never be featured in a magazine, and as much as I dream of being included in our city’s annual Garden Walk, I know that’s not likely to happen, either. Such things are for gardens that are well-planned and well-kept and beautiful, not for a ramshackle garden like mine.

In the spring, friends share pictures of tiny seedlings in neat, straight rows peeking out from rich, bare soil with not a weed in sight. I never have photos like those to share: I don’t plant in neat, straight rows, and there are always weeds. (I read once that a weed is just a plant growing somewhere you don’t want it to be; by midsummer I am so weary of pulling them that my favorite method of dealing with them becomes simply pretending I intended them to grow there in the first place.)

I plant together things that don’t belong together, staggered and closely spaced. I have so little space: just three beds in a tiny city backyard. Every inch counts if I want to grow as much as I can in this space. This makes the beds harder to tend, of course. Without regular spaces between straight rows, it’s hard to tell what is what. Sometimes I let everything grow until I am sure I can tell lettuce and carrot and broccoli from weeds, and then in a blink, it seems, the weeds have overtaken the whole works. Other times I try to stay ahead of the weeds, and then am left wondering, when only one of the three crops I sowed in the bed grows in, whether I accidentally weeded the other two away.

I find myself thinking aloud, often, about what I might have done differently with this garden, and what I will do differently next time. Next time, I’ll sheet mulch the whole yard and start with a blank canvas. (Like these folks.) Next time, I’ll plan my beds more carefully so they don’t turn out so oddly shaped and haphazardly placed. (And, recently: next time, I’ll buy a house with more land, so I’ll have the space to build a beautiful garden like Stephinie’s.)

But sometimes, when the light falls just so, perhaps after a late spring rain has left the leaves shining wet and looking so lush and green, I think this garden is perfect just as it is. Such a ramshackle garden suits me, after all: It’s messy, yes, a bit clumsy and inelegant, and more than a little overgrown. And yet, in spite of this (or perhaps because of it?), it always seems to provide just what we need to sustain us.

Meg is a nature loving, crafty, homeschooling mama who blogs at Four Wild Blueberries. Visit her and take a peek at her garden posts, they are always a favorite of mine….

Summer Guest Post Series :: Meet KC

I’m so happy to be here blog-sitting for Stephinie today, though I am a bit envious of her being in

I am so honored to have a lovely group of friends house-sitting the blog while I am away. Each of them has chosen something summer-ish to share here with you. Do take a moment to say hello to them~

Today I welcome KC of Olive & Owl with a delicious post about trail food! 

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Alaska; what an amazing place to be. I’m here today to give you a few tips about snack foods for hiking.

hiking snacks (3 of 3)

Our family loves to get outside, and living in Southern Arizona we can hike all year round. We are experts at snacks on the go. There’s nothing like making it to the top of a saddle (hiker code for the dip in a mountain pass; looks much like a horse saddle), taking your backpack off, and having something really yummy to snack on and bring up your energy. Now that summer is almost here I imagine many of you in colder climates are finally getting out to explore in nature. If this is your first—or hundredth—time taking your little ones out on a hike I’ve got a few great tips for food to bring, and yummy easy recipe too.

hiking snacks (1 of 1)

In order to have a successful trip with little ones (or big ones) you want to have lots of water and really good snacks. Here in the desert we often don’t have water sources around when hiking and if we do they are often contaminated with giardia or other not so tummy friendly bugs, so we bring big bottle of water. In the warmer months we’ll freeze a bottle or two so that on the trip back to the car we’ll have cool water to drink instead of insipid broth. We also bring a bottle to leave in the car in case we happen to run out of water on the return trip. Water, water water, I can’t stress the importance of water enough with little ones. Their bodies can get easily dehydrated in hot weather so remind them to drink regularly and stock up! Next are those yummy snacks. The nutritional profile of your snacks is pretty important. I like to stick to something salty, something naturally sweet, and protein: this combination is made portable in the classic “trail mix”. I like to soak and dehydrate our nuts, as it takes away the phytic acid in the nuts and makes them more digestible and easier to chew.

hiking snacks (2 of 3)

Here’s our families favorite trail mix:

  • crispy almonds
  • crispy pecans
  • dried apricots
  • dried cranberries
  • dried blueberries

To find your favorite mix, you can buy small amounts of various store mixes (often available in the bulk section), and see what works best. With little ones the balance of deliciousness is important as they lack the capacity to not pick out their favorite item all at once and ignore the rest. To make crispy nuts, simply take a cup of your chosen nut and soak it overnight in water with a teaspoon of salt. The next day in an oven on the lowest setting or in a dehydrator dehydrate the nuts until crispy. If using an oven you might want to crack the door open a bit. As for time, it take s between 8-12 hours depending on how hot your oven is and how humid the air is. It’s not an exact science, and you can skip this step if you are in a hurry. Mix the dried nuts with the fruit in a bowl and transfer to a jar. If you like chocolate but don’t like getting melted chocolate all over you, try adding raw sweetened cocoa nibs: they are really yummy and full of nutrition. Transfer to a mason jar or other sealable container.

hiking snacks (1 of 3)

Here are a few other things we like to bring along:

  • hard-boiled eggs
  • date-nut balls
  • cut up carrot sticks
  • apples, oranges or bananas (something that won’t bruise easily)
  • homemade granola bars

A little time in kitchen before a hike will keep all your little adventurers happy when it comes time for munching on the trail. Make sure to bring a bit more than you think you’ll need as little hunger is unpredictable and so you can have some too!

KC shares bits of motherhood, urban homesteading, and creativity at her blog Olive & Owl. She also has some of the cutest kitchen accessories out there in her handmade etsy shop. Swing by and say hello to her…..


Summer Guest Post Series :: Meet Amanda

I am so honored to have a lovely group of friends house-sitting the blog while I am away. Each of them has chosen something summer-ish to share here with you. Do take a moment to say hello to them~

Today I welcome Amanda of Sweet Potato Claire……. 

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ah, summer.  bare-footed, sticky, juicy summer.  I can feel my mind and body shifting over into that space where slow and lazy are seamlessly juxtaposed with busyness and plans and it’s all good.  a ‘the-air-is-thick-and-everything-is-green-and-pungent-and-let’s-just-be-lazy-but-sometimes-overdo-ourselves’ mentality.  I’m guessing you know just the one I mean.

for us, it looks like fruit, everywhere.  open windows letting in the sounds of crickets at night, birdsong at daybreak, and construction during the day.  dogs barking.  arms tingling from a bit more sunshine than I’d expected.  explosions of day lilies and raspberries.  we use the bike more often, and the watering cans.  the garden is bursting and it and the hammock chair on the porch are neck-and-neck in the running for my favorite place to be.  preferably with a book in hand and either some seltzer or a cold bottle of home brewed beer in the other.  a slight breeze.  the Madeleine Peyroux or Van Morrison pandora station drifting out to kiss my ears through the open office window.  or something like that.  maybe for you it’s iced coffee and Eddie Vedder, I don’t know.  if so, I’ll probably want to come hang out on your porch, too.

I’m done with work until the middle of August and it’s just now starting to creep into my mind that I may want to make some summer plans.  or not.  perhaps at least some loose plans, then.  at least one camping trip.  another family backpacking trip.  lots of berry acquisition followed by sticky and steamy jam-making sessions.  swimming. learning to swim.  maybe I’ll even get around to taking another fiddle lesson.  hopefully there will be a decent honey harvest.  a fair amount of piddling around behind the lens of my camera.  if I’m feeling ambitious, I might add to the un-list a possible beach trip and an anniversary jaunt in NYC with my main squeeze later this month when we’re up that way for a wedding anyway.  goodness, if I were to aim really high I could say maybe we’ll take a train up to upstate NY and drive around the Adirondacks, camp on my grandpa’s property, introduce her to a lovely place that she hasn’t been to since she was just a sweet little bean floating around in my belly.

either way, loose plans kept or not, bigger plans kept or not…… it’s all good.  because it’s summertime and going with the flow just works so much better than putting up a fight to fill in the blank spaces just-so.  sometimes I have a hard time wrapping my head around the non-planning.  sometimes I want so badly to get in a big fat chunk of ‘quality time’ doing something ‘exciting’ with my people and somewhere along the lines it falls apart and we end up, we three, a group of grumpsters feeling like we’ve failed some mission of familial fun and memory-making.  and so I remind myself it’s all quality time, and exciting is pretty relative.  as I shift into this new season, physically and mentally, I remind myself to practice letting go of expectations and welcoming what is.  I remind myself of that hammock chair I could be swaying in while she dances and twirls around in her ballet clothes singing made up songs.  most definitely still quality.  no gas or souvenirs required.

happy summer to you and yours.  may there be puddles and bubbles aplenty and ease, laughter and sunshine in the days ahead.

Amanda writes the beautiful blog Sweet Potato Claire. Stop by to be swooned by her words, incredible garden, and more….


Summer Guest Post Series :: Meet Adrie

I am so honored to have a lovely group of friends house-sitting the blog while I am away. Each of them has chosen something summer-ish to share here with you. Do take a moment to say hello to them~

Today I welcome Adrie of Fields and Fire…… 

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(First, a big thanks to Stephinie for the invitation to join in at this space 🙂 )

Here in our home, time feels very different in the summer. I move slower, for sure, and the days sometimes feel very very long. In the cooler months (which, frankly, is the majority of the year here), I love having a solid chunk of time after breakfast to tidy up around the house, start laundry going, get the house ready for a new day. As the days warm up and the bright sun is beaming at the windows, we can hardly eat our breakfast fast enough before we’re outside, digging in the soil, planting, hoeing, playing.

Even meals change. My children transform from voracious breakfast eaters who are starving as soon as they get out of bed and want a large breakfast, to warm-weather dainties who are done after half a muffin or a small bowl of granola. My own appetite changes – I often have just a cup of hot tea for breakfast these days.

Bedtime creeps later and later (but luckily, our wake-up time creeps later, too). On chilly days, when the sun is down before we even eat dinner, I’m ready for everyone to go to bed as soon as the table is cleared and teeth are brushed. Right now, after dinner is when I suddenly have my homekeeping urge and I bustle around with laundry and sweeping and such.

My inner control freak wants to, well, freak out about these changes. She wishes there was one rhythm, one daily flow that just worked all year round, that we didn’t have to keep changing and flowing and moving. But she doesn’t control the sun, and I try to remind her that most of the changing of the seasons is their beauty. Sometimes she even listens.

Blessings on your week, friends.

Adrie writes the blog Fields & Fire where she shares her family’s adventures and a whole lot of wonderful recipes. She also helps run Pioneer Valley Heritage Grain, a really incredible non-gmo heritage grain CSA located in Western Massachusetts. 


Summer Guest Post Series :: Meet Teri

I am so honored to have a lovely group of friends house-sitting the blog while I am away. Each of them has chosen something summer-ish to share here with you. Do take a moment to say hello to them~

Today I welcome Teri of Homestead Honey with Summer is….

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After a very cold winter tucked into a very tiny house, and spring full of intense homestead projects and homeschooling commitments, summer is a time when my greatest goal is to keep the calendar as free as possible and enjoy the beauty of the season with my husband and two children, ages 3 and 6. This summer, I am looking forward to… Fruit season! First strawberries, then blueberry u-pick, then amazing Missouri and Illinois peaches!




Setting up our outdoor kitchen. We’ll move the entire kitchen outdoors, partially to keep cool in the hot and humid Missouri summer, and partially so we can finish working on the interior of our 350 square foot house. 

Outdoor Kitchen | Homestead Honey

Daily swim adventures in our pond. My husband has a plan to attach a small slide to our newly-built dock. I can’t wait for that fun!


Growing a HUGE garden, and enjoying and preserving the bounty.




Enjoying chicken antics, and fresh eggs.


Tenting it, to keep cool at night.


Add to this list the simple pleasures of fireflies, dinners with friends, shooting stars, and family vacations, and my own summer love – acting in musical theater productions – and you have a few busy months! Summer is equal parts restorative and exhausting, and the more I can embrace that contrast, the more I enjoy the season. What do you love most about summer?  


Teri Page loves Summer, but her favorite season is definitely Autumn. She blogs about gardening, Waldorf homeschooling, and creating an off-grid homestead from scratch at Homestead Honey. This summer, she is co-teaching a 4-week eCourse called, “Empowered Eating,” which begins on August 25th. Learn more about the course here! You can also connect with Teri on Facebook or Pinterest.

Summer Guest Post Series :: Meet Meryl

I am so honored to have a lovely group of friends house-sitting the blog while I am away. Each of them has chosen something summer-ish to share here with you. Do take a moment to say hello to them~

Today I welcome Meryl from My bit of Earth with her beautiful summer inspired piece, Jump. 

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I remember the first time I jumped.  

I was 10 or 11, and it was Summer vacation.  I had been sitting in the upper door of the hayloft writing–a habit that began early in my life–as the sun went down.  The smell of the warmed field below wafted up.  The fireflies flickered.  I lost track of time, and then it was dark.  Too dark to make my way back through the maze of hay and climb down the ladder.

But it was only getting darker, and my only other choice was to jump.

It was 15 feet to the ground.  I tossed the notebook I had been scribbling in first, listening to it “thwack” as it landed roughly.  Then I took a deep breath, screwed up my courage, and pushed off.

The ground came faster than I expected, but my body had the good sense to crumple and roll.  I stood up and brushed off my hands.  I was half surprised that I had lived, and half ready to go do it again.  I smiled at myself as I walked home.

We took our baby to the city for his Summer vacation.  The other kids were in the fountain playing, and he watched with a 3 year-old mixture of awe and fear as they launched themselves from rock to rock.

Then he climbed up on one of the rocks himself, took a deep breath, screwed up his courage, and pushed off.

I saw myself in the expression on his face when he landed–that same self-satisfied grin.  

And then I remembered something that I had forgotten in the process of growing-up.  

While Popsicles and sprinklers are seasonal joys, the real core of Summer is that it gives us all a chance to be brave.  To stay outside too late and stay around the fire when friends start telling ghost stories that are too frightening.  To swim out too far and explore new places that are too deep in the woods.  To jump when it’s too scary–be it from a hayloft or a slippery rock or a high dive.

And then we get to be a little amazed with ourselves when we find that those things weren’t too much; that we had them in us all along.

Here’s wishing you a summer full of brave jumps.


Meryl writes about chickens, babies, knitting, gardening, food, photography, and whatever else tickles her fancy on any given day. Come visit her at My Bit of Earth…..