Monday, August 10, 2020

July 2020 Newsletter

"I only deepen the wound of the world when I neglect to give thanks for the heavy perfume of wild roses in early July and the song of crickets on summer humid nights and the rivers that run and the stars that rise and the rain that falls and all the good things that a good God gives." 
~ Ann Voskamp

Greetings gentle reader! Here we are with another monthly newsletter in which I talk about books I have read, things I have watched, projects I have been working on and any other ponderings which really don't fit into its own post! It's pretty much some old-fashioned homemaking chit-chat. July was filled with many family engagements mingled in with the beautiful routine of everyday life. This included some light traveling and trying to maintain the home and laundry in-between. Homemaking is much easier when you remain home. It flows like honey... but when you are a traveling busy bee, it can certainly sting! 
The garden was busy producing lots of sweet, vine-ripe tomatoes. If there was one vegetable I was able to choose to grow year-round, it would be tomatoes. What they sell in the markets doesn't resemble a real tomato in the least. Due to our temporary small garden space, we haven't had an abundance to preserve and to be honest, I have been really enjoying the freshness of them (and probably have been over-eating them)! We made lots of salsas, green salads, caprese salads, marinated vegetables, black bean salads and every Friday it is pizza Marguerite! 
There are various ways to make a Marguerite pizza. From what I understand, it traditionally includes fresh basil, mozzarella and sliced tomatoes to mimic the Italian flag (green, white, red). This is my version... I infuse freshly minced garlic in extra-virgin olive oil for an hour or so while I work on dinner preparation. Then I par-bake our sourdough crust until the bottom gets golden. Next I smear on the olive oil and garlic across the entire crust (this acts as the "pizza sauce") and place sliced garden tomatoes across the entire pizza. Follow with a heavy sprinkle of mozzarella cheese. Finally, I place the pizza back in the oven until the cheese is bubbly, add some freshly chopped basil to the top and drizzle any leftover garlic-infused olive oil over it all. It is delicious! 

One of the projects I have been working on is our pantry extension. Do you recall that I increased our pantry area about 8 months ago by adding a stand-alone linen closet? By removing all our linens from the hallway closet, we were able to free up more cupboard space for our food supply! In the meantime, we were storing our second level of food storage in the garage (you can read up on my system and goals of pantry building here). This was certainly not an ideal location because of the summer heat. So, we started bringing in our storehouse supply into the small spare room (aka hubby's study and our sewing space) where the average temperature is 75 degrees.

To remedy piles of bulk flour, sugar and so forth on the floor, we bought a cabinet to store our excess at a second-hand store. We painted it up nice and pretty (white of course!) and attached a spring rod across to keep the area looking tidy. Now I feel we have a nice storeroom area that blends in with the house while maintaining the food storage goals our family has. 

I cut an old tablecloth that was too small for our kitchen table in half and sewed it into a curtain to cover the contents (I will make dish towels with the other half as I love the cotton neutral stripes!). I put two thrift store baskets on top for additional storage. I am really pleased to have this extra space!

While on the subject of pantry building, I wanted to share the new Etsy Store I opened! This is going to be my little hobby since I finished homeschooling. I enjoy pantry building, decorating my food storage and organizing my home. I think this little cottage industry employs all my homemaking interests! If you would like to take a peek, please visit Mistress of the House.

One of the books I enjoyed last month was "Simply Living Well" by Julia Watkins. It is a guide to creating a natural, low-waste home. I will be honest and say that I read these "green living" type of books for the frugal living inspiration. You can glean many money saving concepts from the "zero-waste" movement. She shares many lovely recipes, diy tutorials and of course, pretty pictures to make it all beautiful!

As far as movies go, I have nothing to recommend this month. The culture is reflected in the media and it is hard to relate to most of the shows they are offering. Even the period dramas that were always my favorite (here is my list) (and most of the time were clean viewing) have become absolutely scandalous. It seems there has to be a marital affair (with the heroine being the culprit!) or other forms of un-godly relationships in order to attract a modern audience. And the depth of what they show on the screen! It is hard to gloss over. But I digress...

On another note, our "Pretty in Pink" giveaway ends soon in case you haven't yet entered! It is a set of feminine favorites that I find romantic and pretty. I have to say that my favorite part about the giveaways I have been doing is reading all the comments! You are all such wonderful women and kindred spirits!

Lastly, I wanted to take this opportunity to say that although I seem silent regarding the current state of affairs in this world, I definitely am aware of all that is going on in it. While I have been talking much about pink, pantries and other pretty things, I do not have on rose-colored glasses. I am well-informed. However, this blog is meant to occupy and inspire the keeper at home and so this is where I choose to keep my focus... in the home. While I have covered and will continue to cover pantries and preparedness, it has never been from a spirit of fear but in an act of Proverbs 31 prudence. Also, I never wanted to keep a controversial blog because I didn't want to be focusing on "battleground" comments all day while trying to peacefully raise a family. I certainly have opinions on all that is going on -- strong ones. But I hope you understand that this place here is meant to be nurturing ground. It is a place of encouragement and all the beautiful Philippians 4:8 tidings. I just wanted to clear the air in case any of you were wondering and had too much good manners to ask :)
Now, what about you dear reader? What wholesome and lovely things have you been reading, watching and/or working on? As always, recommendations are much appreciated and just reading about your projects inspires me!

Verse of the Month:

"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things."
~ Philippians 4:8

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Pretty in Pink Giveaway! ~ A Few Feminine Favorites

“I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner... I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.”
~ Audrey Hepburn

A terrific Tuesday to you all! Today we are sharing the fourth of seven little giveaways I had promised for this little blog! I call it the "pretty in pink giveaway" because of the obvious -- all the pretty pink goodies that exalt the feminine spirit. These are the sweet little details that add a splash of lovely into your homemaking life. Perhaps it is a swipe of light pink shimmer across your lips or the aroma of soft pink petals floating from your skin. You are a special creation, different from man and it is beautiful to stand out as one. I think pink glorifies femininity. In this modern age, to me at least -- pink stands for the softer side, the gentle, the delicate but also the strong and faithful women who aren't afraid to be women.

I have included some of my feminine favorites here. Close friends of mine might laugh at me doing a "beauty-type" giveaway because I am not a big cosmetics person. My "make-up" bag consists of three items  - lip shimmer, lip balm and mascara. But my weakness is fresh floral fragrances and lavish soaps and creams. I hope you enjoy my assortment of beauty products!

Now let the fun begin!..💕

This giveaway includes:

Set/3 Anatomy of a Fragrance "Fresh Cut Trio" Perfumes by Illume (from Anthropologie) 5 ml each,
  • Honey Rose Eau De Parfum
  • Wildflower Bergamot Eau De Parfum
  • Orchid Vanille Eau De Parfum 

WISH Savvy Minerals "Light Pink Shimmer Lipstick" by Young Living Essential Oils,

"Savvy Minerals by Young Living™ Lipstick is formulated to bring out every woman’s unique and natural beauty. The lipstick glides on smoothly, with a creamy texture and medium coverage that makes application easy and forgiving. Made with naturally derived ingredients, including moisturizing botanicals, this lipstick is not tested on animals, so you can feel good about what you are putting on your lips."

Lollia "Believe" Cabbage Rose & Citrus Shea Butter Hand Cream (from Anthropologie),

Opi "Throw Me a Kiss" Light Pink Shimmer Nail Lacquer,

Savon De Marseille "Rose" Soap (Made in France),

How I wanted to remove the plastic wrapper for this photo! 

and finally -- Sky Organics "Strawberry Bliss" Lip Balm.

"Almost all words do have colour and nothing is more pleasant than to utter a pink word and see someone's eyes light up and know it is a pink word for him or her too."
 ~ Gladys Taber

This little giveaway will be open for the next 7 days and is open WORLDWIDE. You have the option to enter it in 7 different ways (pick and choose as many options that work for you!) in order to have 7 different chances to win! Just follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter below!

Note: Where it says "leave a blog comment" on the giveaway, please click it as there is a special question for you to answer in the comments :) Happy homemaking ladies!

Thursday, July 30, 2020

What I Learned About Homemaking Living Abroad ~ Part 1

"As cold waters to a thirsty soul,
so is good news from a far country."
~ Proverbs 25:25

Living for several years in a small foreign country with a struggling economy taught me many lessons about homemaking. Since moving back to the State's, I realize how my thought process has changed in many areas. Here is a list of 12 random, home-related things I gleaned while living abroad (and in no particular order)...

1. New Isn't Necessarily Better

This particular lesson shines in the subject of furniture. Most of the newer pieces sold in affordable stores are made up of particle board or MDF. Furniture made up of these compounds tend to wear down quicker due to the elements (were more susceptible to mold where we lived) and began to come apart with frequent moving. Plus, they can't withstand heavy loads and began to bow even though they are quite heavy themselves. I have also since learned that products made with particle board and MDF emits formaldehyde into the home - the very place you nurture to be a safe haven!

Furniture made with solid wood can be passed down to generations and is long lasting. Because of this, the locals would rather buy used furniture from auctions or estate sales rather than purchase from big box stores. The quality is what they were looking for. Money is scarce and long term use is most important. They want something they can pass down to their children as furniture is considered a family legacy. 

Older wood furniture pieces have amazing bones. Most often they are very beautiful while boasting intricate carvings, ornate hardware and oftentimes glorious beveled glass! A helpful test to see if the quality of used (or new) furniture is good (besides the overall shape and appearance) is to look at the drawers. Is there dovetailing on the sides (this looks like a tongue-in-groove puzzle where the two sides of the drawers meet)? This shows quality craftsmanship. 

When re-establishing our home, we opted to buy all used furniture (and to be honest, the budget also dictated this!). There was no way we could afford brand new solid wood furniture to last us a lifetime but thrift shops and Craig's List (and family members who were cleaning out storage units!) provided many affordable options for us that we also found visually appealing. Here in America I was amazed at the prices of solid furniture at Salvation Army Stores, Goodwills and Re-Stores. My foreign friends would be in shock at the vast assortment and budget friendly options!

If you are thinking about replacing your old but solid wood furniture, you may want to consider re-staining it, re-painting it, replacing the hardware to better suit your style or re-upholstering it as what you have is probably excellent and will be cherished in the years to come! I personally love the painted white look so any sturdy frame is fair game for our home making it less challenging to frugally furnish.

2. Repair When Possible

When something would break on our neighbor's farm or home, the first reaction would always be "repair". To purchase brand new was almost un-thinkable. If you remember the picture of the kitchen strainer I broke a few years back, my hubby fixed it with a piece of wire (this is the mentality of a non-consumer society). Handcrafted repairs reigned in the homes. Obviously, replacing broken parts from the manufacturer and so forth was routine. Knowing a good mechanic and repairman was gold. Everything that can be fixed was fixed until it couldn't be.

My Bosch mixer gave up the ghost while living out of the country. There were no retail stores even slightly nearby nor online shopping like we know in North America. Hubby took a look at it and it seemed like the transmission was the culprit. What to do? This was not an inexpensive part. We had to really weigh out the pros and cons (how old was the machine, was there a lot of life left, how much to buy brand new and have it imported, etc.). I used that machine daily to shred, blend, knead and slice. Perhaps in the old days I would have just replaced it. But at the time every penny counted. We decided to replace the part ourselves and hope we had troubleshooted accurately. And glory hallelujah it worked! We spend $150 instead of $500.  

Here in America there is Amazon which delivers right to the door. There was no such thing where we lived. But what a convenience it is to simply type in a model number and find the parts and have them delivered the very next day! I do hope you take advantage of this possibility in your household.

3. Buy Good, Cry Once

When our neighbors finally had to replace something in their home or homestead, we were shocked to find that they purchased the very best quality when it appeared they had very little income to part with. The thought behind this was, instead of nickel and diming themselves to death, they were going to do it right the first time. Second, if they were going to replace something, it meant that it is something absolutely necessary for their lifestyle. They would not be spending money on anything frivolous to begin with. Thirdly, because of the importance of their purchase, they wanted to make sure that what they bought was going to last. They would check for plastic parts verses metal parts, where the item was made and if that country was known for good workmanship in that specific niche. Could they find replacement parts? These factors were all considered when making a purchase. Nothing was done lightly. They were spending hard earned money and they wanted to be prudent. They had very little but what they did have was "good".

Perhaps many of these concepts are already being employed by many of you but I thought I would share them just the same. I know that in my younger years I used to think that frugal meant buying the cheapest thing but I don't feel the same way about that now.  I used to think that "brand new" had a longer life-span but I can see that isn't necessarily the case. I used to think repairs weren't worth the time and effort but if you are buying "good" in the first place then they absolutely are. What about you, what have you found to be helpful from your experiences with the topics above? I will continue the series in another post because it can take quite some time to go through. Happy homemaking!

Monday, July 20, 2020

How to Make "Floral Cleansing Grains" ~ A Delightful DIY for Your Skin

"These flower-packed cleansers gently exfoliate your skin, leaving it feeling soft and smooth. Cleansing grains can contain a wide variety of ingredients, from ground oats, nuts, seeds, rice, beans, powdered milk and clays, so there's a lot of room for creativity when making them..."

A bright and beautiful Monday morning to you all! Today I am excited to share that all-natural skin care can be a frugal but beautifully floral endeavor! You can tap into your creative feminine side without tapping into your bank account. 

With that being said, I am excited to share four variations of Jan's recipes (with her permission) featuring floral cleansing grains from The Big Book of Home-Made Products for Your Skin, Health & Home. I am also going to share my variations of what I created based on ingredients we already have. That is most of the fun (and frugal part) -- being resourceful with what you have! Ladies there are so many possibilities! You can always make an assortment of "flavors" and store them in small jars according to the seasons and what is growing in your gardens. 

To begin, this is really too simple not to do! All that is necessary is to grind all the dried ingredients together in a (well cleaned out) coffee grinder until finely powdered (I actually used our high-powered blender to process mine). 

Keep in mind that you can always double the recipes (and so forth) since there isn't anything in these that will go rancid quickly (except if you use the brown rice, nuts and/or seeds -- I would use that up within 3 months). The shelf life should be about a year if you store them properly in an airtight container to keep them fresh and dry.

Jan's Recipe Combinations:

CALENDULA OATMEAL (very simple blend - suitable for all skin types)
  • 2 1/2 tbsp. rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp. dried calendula flowers

YARROW & GREEN CLAY (helpful for oily and acne-prone skin)
  • 2 tbsp. rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp. dried yarrow
  • 1/2 tbsp. French green clay

CHAMOMILE ROSE (enriched with milk and suitable for more sensitive skin types)
  • 2 tbsp. rolled oats
  • 1/2 tbsp. milk powder (cow, goat or coconut)
  • 1/2 tbsp. dried rose petals
  • 1/2 tbsp. dried chamomile
  • 1/2 tsp. rose clay

LAVENDER & BLUE CLAY (gently polishes all skin types)
  • 2 tbsp. white or brown rice
  • 1/2 tbsp. dried lavender
  • 1 tsp. dried cornflower (or use more lavender)
  • 1/4 tsp. Cambrian blue clay

To use, remove any makeup and splash your face with warm water to dampen your skin. Place 1 to 2 teaspoons of the grains in the palm of your hand and mix in with a bit of water until you form a paste. If you want to be extra-fancy, you can use another liquid such as coconut milk, aloe, hydrosol, yogurt or witch hazel to form the mixture.  Gently apply and rub the paste over your skin and onto your face and throat. Rinse well with warm water and follow with a moisturizer if desired. 

When I asked Jan if these can be used on a daily basis verses a weekly basis, here was her answer... 

"It will depend on your skin type and personal preference. Some people find them helpful as part of their daily skin care routine, while others may want to use just once or twice per week. (Personally, I use just once or twice a week on my dry skin.)"

Alternatively, you can use these floral cleansing grains as a face mask by leaving the mixture on your skin for 5 to 10 minutes before rinsing off.

Since I don't have any of the interesting clays she mentioned, I am making all my recipes without them. Here are some of the combinations I have created based on her ideas! I also made bigger batches because I like bulk supplies! It's the pantry builder in me 🤎 I also made fancy names as it is the romantic in me.  

Don't be shy...

and remember, if you don't have any of these dried herbs on hand, you can always go outside and forage for some and dry them yourself. 

Now, it's time to prepare some pretty things! Grind all the ingredients together and you have yourself some all natural beauty products!

Jes's Recipe Combinations:

  • 1/4 c. rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp. dried calendula flowers
  • 1 tbsp. dried chamomile flowers

  • 1/4 c. rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp. powdered milk
  • 1 tbsp. dried hibiscus
  • 1 tbsp. dried rose petals

LAVENDER POLISH (I will use this as a once-a-week face exfoliator) 
  • 1/4 c. white rice (I choose the white rice for the longer shelf life)
  • 1 tbsp. dried lavender

These would also make a fun gift! Place the handcrafted floral cleansing grains in a pretty jar, tie a cute small wooden spoon around it, and attach the instructions with a sweet ribbon. Or, use the darling test tubes and corks like Jan has done (pictured in the second photo above). This is a great project for recycled baby food jars as you can have a fun assortment all labeled with your different floral creations and all lined up lovingly in your bathroom cabinet!

Lastly, congratulations to Karen for winning the "Beloved Book" Giveaway! If you signed up, don't despair as we have FOUR more giveaways to go! In the meantime, you may be able to find this book at your local library or it can be purchased on Amazon.

Now to ask you a question... Based on what you currently have in your home apothecary, garden and pantry, what recipe combinations can you whip up that would work lovely on your skin? Just to give you a head-start, calendula, yarrow, rose, lavender, chamomile, sunflower, passionflower, hibiscus, jasmine, geranium and elderflower are all beneficial for the skin. I would also love to hear some made up names for your creations! Happy wildcrafting!

Monday, July 13, 2020

June 2020 Newsletter

"Anne pinned her narcissi on her hair and went to the lane gate, where she stood for awhile sunning herself in the June brightness before going in to attend to her Saturday morning duties. The world was growing lovely again; old Mother Nature was doing her best to remove the traces of the storm, and, though she was not to succeed fully for many a moon, she was really accomplishing wonders."
~ Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

Hello dear reader! Here we are with another monthly newsletter in which I talk about books I have read, things I have watched, projects I have been working on and any other ponderings which really don't fit into its own post! Its been a busy few weeks and I have much to do! I have been working on some creative projects that I have been thoroughly enjoying and I hope to share them with you all soon (but not quite yet)! I also have a lot of paperwork to process this week for our family business so this homemaking chit-chat (based on the reflection of the month before) might be a bit rushed... but deadlines must be made! 

June was a productive month in the garden and harvest kitchen! It was pickle making time! I was able to put up some fermented pickles (shown above) and deli style pickles (which are pictured below).

I also prepared and froze 24 quarts of turkey stock/bone broth for the freezer. I had been saving up produce scraps in a bag in the freezer. When we made a turkey, I took the leftover bones, etc., and added in the saved scraps. Now we have a nutrient dense liquid which will be good in rice and soups in the autumn/winter.

Also, if you ended up enjoying our Zucchini Quiche recipe, you may also be interested in this variation if you are still going squash-strong... I know we are! Simply follow the original instructions except replace the mozzarella cheese for shredded Colby-jack cheese and add 1 cup of cottage cheese (for added protein and a bit of a flavor change). It is easy for me to serve this once a week during garden season and keeping ingredients a bit different helps out sometimes. 

If you haven't yet shared your "STRICTLY FROM THE PANTY RECIPES" with us (meaning no refrigerated/freezer items involved)-- please do so :) I am hoping to combine all the ideas into a printable that we can place in our Proverbs 31 Preparedness Notebooks. I think this would be a wonderful resource in difficult times!

Last month we enjoyed watching the new rendition of The Call of the Wild. I have always loved the Alaskan landscape and adventure films featuring it (and this one didn't disappoint). However, I just wished the ending would have been a bit different... perhaps they will consult me on that the next time 😉.

I also enjoyed reading "The Big Book of Homemade Products for Your Skin, Health and Home" by Jan Berry. It is such an informative and lovely read full of pretty pictures! We are currently doing a giveaway on this book which ends in 3 days. Feel free to enter for your chance to win this charming book! 

We have also announced the winners of our last two giveaways. The Happy Homemaking Giveaway was won by Angel who said "her favorite thing about homemaking is making a place my family (and any visitors) feel cozy and cared for". The Happy Hostess Giveaway was won by Kim who said the special thing she does for her guests is "have snacks available as well as coffee and some fun board games". Congratulations ladies and I hope you enjoy your goodies!

We have four other giveaways lined up shortly that I hope you will enjoy! I will give you a hint on the next one. It is called the "Pretty in Pink" Giveaway and is going to be focusing on our feminine side. 💕 A few of the items are sprinkled in the picture above... 

What about you? What wholesome and lovely things have you been reading, watching and/or working on? Recommendations are much appreciated! 

Verse of the Month:

"Be strong and of good courage...
for the LORD your God,
He is the One who goes with you.
He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
~ excerpts from Deuteronomy 31:6

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