Friday, September 28, 2012

Miller Family Series Books ~ Character Building Basics



When we began raising our family, we knew we wanted to surround ourselves with wholesome and pure influences (The world would provide enough wicked stuff and in abundance!). That would mean a discerning eye toward everything we brought into our home, especially in the area of reading materials. The unfortunate part is that many modern "Christian" books present a normal household as one where children are disrespectful, lazy and disinterested. We wanted our child to see that a "normal" home is where God is Supreme, parents love Him, children want to please Him by loving Him, through obeying the parents (Colossians 3:20). Like many of you, we wanted to reach for the stars and introduce a model of high standard for biblical living.

The first (and still one of our favorite) books we embraced was the "Miller Family Series". These easy-to-understand stories feature a down to earth message and will plant pure seeds of Scriptural application into your children. We started reading them aloud with our 4 year old and have purchased every book since. Each chapter covers a verse from the Bible in a very practical, no-nonsense way. Written by an amish/mennonite woman, they are very conservative with the old fashioned values that are hard to find in most modern books.
The Lesson by Jules Trayer

They also offer companion "Activity Workbooks" which further instill the lessons learned:
If you want to start reading some unadulterated, biblical, character building books aloud to your children, then I would highly suggest the "Miller Family Series" as an excellent start. You may also be interested in our favorite Biblically Based Picture Books and our criteria for What to Read/What to Watch.


"...if they (the parents) are wise they will bring into their home as much as possible of pure, elevating, and refining literature. Every beautiful thought that enters a child’s mind adds to the strength and loveliness of the character in after days. The educating influence of the best books and papers is incalculable, and no parent can afford to lose it in the training of his family."

~ J.R. Miller, The Family

Monday, September 24, 2012

Create a "Baking Basics" Jar Set ~ Free Printable


Today I am sharing a short (but sweet) cut in the kitchen. The baking soda carton and baking powder bag we purchase are a hassle to use on a daily basis (especially if you cook from scratch). The same thing applies with salt. I was always on pins and needles when pouring from the spout and into my teaspoon, hoping it didn't malfunction and dump a heap of sodium into my mixes. We have found that these items are much easier to use when placed inside a wide-mouthed glass container.


Storing the "baking basics" inside jars allows for easy access with your measuring spoons. It also makes for an efficient kitchen because there are less spills, easier handling and a clear view of your inventory. They can be placed inside a cupboard close to your cooking/baking area or just kept out on the sink.


To make, simply gather three wide mouthed jars, insert contents and label accordingly. Ours are just recycled condiment jars, nothing fancy. You can also paint the lids to match your kitchen. The original lids were bright blue so we painted them black and pasted on some pretty labels. Being in the home most of the day, it really brightens a task when you add a touch of decorative detail.


This is a sweet and simple organizational project. Would you like to create your own "baking basics" jar set? Below are a set of free downloadable/printable labels. You may also be interested in our printable pantry labels for another organizational project.

"The best ways are commonly the easiest ways and those that give most comfort to the household. Know how is a great labor-saving invention, on which there is no patent."
~ Sel.




Simply download and print. Please let me know if you have any problems printing.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Autumn Inspired Posts

Victorian Autumn by Thomas Kinkade

"On the motionless branches of some trees,
autumn berries hung like clusters of coral beads,
as in those fabled orchards where the fruits were jewels…"
~ Charles Dickens


Here is a potpourri of autumn related posts from the past:


May you enjoy this beautiful season in your home with warm tea, hot muffins, walks, apples, pumpkins, acorns, pinecones, leaves…

"The autumn drifted away through all its seasons; the golden corn-harvest, the walks through the stubble fields, and rambles into hazel-copses in search of nuts; the stripping of the apple-orchards of their ruddy fruit, amid the joyous cries and shouts of watching children; and the gorgeous tulip-like colouring of the later time had now come on with the shortening days."

~ Elizabeth Gaskell, Wives and Daughters



Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Utilizing What You Have on Your Land ~ Being Creative


"That's the way Great-grandmother did it. She looked in the larder, the cellar and then took a walk through the garden to see what she had. And then she made menus for the next couple days."


The more productive our land is, the less we need to purchase. Or, the more creative we are with what little we have, the same applies. Those words by Carla Emory have been a huge source of inspiration to me this year. I would love to use what we have to the maximum potential by creating my meals from our harvest rather than a grocery store list. Despite the garden produce, eggs and meat/dairy animals we are raising, we have tried to be innovative with other items. Here are some examples of what we did with the fruit producing plants on our farm...


Grapes

Our grapes have seeds in them so they are not our first snack choice. The solution we found is to squeeze them using an old-fashioned orange juicer. We use the juice in reduced-sugar canning recipes where grape juice is substituted as a natural sweetener. We have also mixed this with seltzer water and ice for a sweet and refreshing summer drink (this is a treat since we don't purchase "drinks"). If you have seedless grapes, they are excellent when frozen as an icy snack. Next year I think I am going to try my hand at grape jelly. What other ideas do you have to utilize grapes? I would love to hear them!


Pomegranates

We do love to eat the pomegranate seeds but had much more than we could keep up with (three trees). What we do with our excess is juice them. You can simply drink the juice (which is way healthy!) or add sparkling water for a summer style, italian "soda". We also froze some juice in ice-cube trays and added them into our smoothies. Delicious! Any other suggestions?


Figs

My husband likes to eat the figs as a fig. To be honest, they freak me out (I think it is the texture) so I turned them into jam. I think this jam would be a nice filling for jam bar recipes or making your own fruit and grain bars. Any other inspiration for the fig?


Conclusion

There are many opportunities if you really investigate your little piece of earth. It can be anything, small or large to produce something usable. For instance, I have shared how to make lavender infused cleaning products using your lavender flowers. The more we glean from our land (city dwellers too!), the less we need to rely on those price increases at the grocery stores. 

What creative ideas do you have in this same line…
to use what you have on your land
and increase your larder (pantry) supplies?


"Duchess went into her larder and took the pie off a shelf and looked at it."


"He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread…"
~ Proverbs 12:11a

This post may be shared with some or all of the following link-ups: Modest Mom Monday'sMake it Yourself MondaysCountry Momma CooksHomestead Barn HopNatural Living Tuesday'sTeach Me Tuesday,  Domestically Divine TuesdayRaising HomemakersWise Woman Link UpFrugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Farmgirl Friday and Deep Roots at Home. Thank you lovely ladies for hosting these. (P.S. All the paintings are done by dear, Tasha Tudor with the exception of the drawing by Beatrix Potter.)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sharing Our Eclectic Style of Home Education


In the past, I have shared about my love for unit studies and the teaching styles of Charlotte Mason. Both are wonderful ways in which to educate your children and we apply ideas from both to teach our children! We apply the Charlotte Mason concepts of living books, copywork, nature study, etc., into our unit studies (the best of both worlds for us!). The beauty of home education is that you don't have to limit yourself to one little box. You do not have to stand stiffly in front of a chalk-board and teach. You are free to cuddle on the couch and learn together!



In regards to additional curriculums, we do whatever looks good to our family. There are some curriculums written by experts in a certain subject that I may feel inadequate to teach (or to be honest, it may not interest me to teach though it is important to learn) and so we will include those into our studies. Or something may look so "good" that I know we will benefit. Then, that is introduced into our day as well. We are also flexible to what our family interests are at certain times and incorporate studies accordingly. That is the luxury of "eclectic" homeschooling! There is no forced program to follow. It is hand crafted by you to fit the changing needs of your family :)

Important Note: There is one area where I do recommend you teach according to a more rigid curriculum and that is math. I jumped around between different workbooks (bought 1st grade in one brand and the next year I would buy 2nd grade in another brand) in the younger years and found that they were leaving off in certain areas and restarting them in others (assuming we knew things we didn't yet know). There was no continuity. Math is like a pyramid and without certain foundations, you can not go to the next level. With that being said, I do recommend buying a math curriculum (same one year by year) and sticking to it as much as possible unless you detest it (then buy a new one by golly!). But to purchase a different one year to year depending on what looks "neat" or "cute" just doesn't work well (speaking from experience here) and leaves too many gaps to where the next set of math facts will not make sense.


How about you? What is your favorite style of home education? Do you like the textbook curriculums, Charlotte Mason style, unschooling, unit studies or perhaps the curriculums that blend a few of these ideas together? There is so much to choose from! It certainly makes things easier for the busy mother to have so many wonderful possibilities and I am thankful for them all.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Making Lavender Infused Cleaning Products


Making your own cleaning products has made a comeback as many homemakers seek to save money and remove creepy chemicals from their homes. Most of the recipes involve vinegar, water and essential oils. The addition of essential oils encourages a sweet scent and adds a zest of cleaning power to your solution. However...


The oils can really add up! Instead of constantly dropping those expensive ingredients into your concoctions, why not create your own lavender based vinegar to clean with? All you need is a lovely lavender bush (or access to someone else's who doesn't mind a foraging hand) and white vinegar.


We are in love with lavender in our home! Candles, sachets and soaps… Anything infused with the intoxicating scent instantly becomes special. Dare I go a step further and say "housecleaning" products can make daily duties shine? Why not? 

"The power of finding beauty in the humblest things makes home happy and life lovely."
~ Louisa May Alcott


To make your own frugal and fresh scented, lavender cleaning products, simply snip into a clean jar, lots of lavender. This is honestly too easy to make a tutorial out of but since I have so many pictures, please humor me :)


I was short on the flowers due to a prior project so I added a lot of leaves to my mix though you will have a superior infusion with the purple flowers. (Edited to add: My second batch made with pure lavender flowers was nice but I actually preferred the fragrance with the blend of flowers and leaves. I think the addition of the leaves produced better results!)


Once your jar is packed full, cover the contents with white household vinegar. Make sure the lavender is submerged to keep it from molding. 


Lastly, cap your blend with a plastic lid. Let this infusion sit in a sunny spot for three to four weeks. You can replenish the old lavender with a fresh supply after a few weeks to get a stronger product.


Once the month is up, strain and discard the lavender. The lavender infused vinegar is now ready for service and smells heavenly! The scent is absolutely superior than the counterpart recipe using the essential oils.


Make sure you use a fine strainer so that you don't have any particles in your cleaning solution.


Mine came out gold in color because I had so many leaves but it will be a lavender tint if you use more of the flowers.


Ideas for Use:

Use a 50/50 mixture of lavender infused vinegar and water for an all purpose cleaner.

Add a cup of this solution to a bucket of hot water to clean your floors.

For tough cleaning, use pure without diluting.


Isn't it wonderful to create something from your own home that has value and a sense of aromatic beauty?  


Here is a label you can apply to your spray bottle (just right click on image and press "save") which I think is half the fun! You may also be interested in making your own cleanser, lavender fabric softener and/or carpet deodorizer.


"And the scent of the lavender—not lavender water, but the lavender itself, that puts you in mind of country churches, and old bibles, and dusky low-ceiled parlours on Sunday afternoons—the scent of the lavender was so pure and sweet, and lovely!"
~  George MacDonald


This post may be shared with some or all of the following link-ups: Modest Mom Monday'sMake it Yourself MondaysCountry Momma CooksHomestead Barn HopNatural Living Tuesday'sTeach Me Tuesday,  Domestically Divine TuesdayRaising HomemakersWise Woman Link Up, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Farmgirl Friday and Deep Roots at Home. Thank you lovely ladies for hosting these. Lavender label graphics are courtesy of Reading, Roses and Prose.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Land of Milk and Honey? ~ True Preparedness


When we purchased our farm, I had "dreams of grandeur"… I was imagining orchards full of peaches, bursting with purple plums and rows of sweet apricot trees. 


However, there were only three sources of fruit on the property. They were figs, pomegranates and grapes.


My husband kept mulling these plants over in his mind and proclaimed them "wonderful".


He reminded me that when Joshua and his men went to spy out the promised land, these were the three items that they brought back to showcase it's prosperity.


Moses told them to research and find out "what the land is, whether it be fat or lean, whether there be wood therein, or not. And be ye of good courage, and bring of the fruit of the land."
~ Numbers 13:20


"And they came unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff; and they brought of the pomegranates, and of the figs."
~ Numbers 13:23

"...they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it."
~ Numbers 13:27


What we are continually learning is that "dreams of grandeur" take work! Sometimes it is downright discouraging. The tractor breaks down, rain delays, animals die and crops sometimes fail…We are in constant need of those inspired words to be "of good courage".  We have to realize that the land of milk and honey isn't heaven but the earth we have been blessed to live on and subdue. Our hope for perfection lies only in the next land to come for those who love Him. This is ultimately what every homesteader needs to be "prepared" for.  Are you ready?

"Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
~ Revelations 21:1-4


Shared at: The Homestead Barn Hop


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Make Home Life Beautiful





"Through wisdom is an house builded;
and by understanding it is established:
And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with
all precious and pleasant riches."
~ Proverbs 24:3-4



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