Monday, October 19, 2020

September 2020 Newsletter

“It was a lovely afternoon - such an afternoon as only September can produce when summer has stolen back for one more day of dream and glamour.”
~ Luce Maud Montgomery

Has September truly left and brought autumn with it? Time moves and marches on and if we don't enjoy every moment we will miss it! The seasons are such a gift as they offer variety for the keeper at home. There is a daily rhythm in the household but it does change which keeps it interesting. 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. Do pull up a chair and sit a spell...

For starters, I was thrilled to find we actually have fruit on our property! On the side of the house where there is a concrete slab with shut off valves and other utilities, this prolific tree had been quietly extending its branches and fruit without anyone noticing. When my husband made the discovery, I actually had to do some Google investigating to identify it. They are guavas! You can imagine our delight to find such tropical bounty! The aroma from this tree fills the air like a luxurious perfume and actually infiltrates the window of our bathroom. As you shower it is amazing aromatherapy! As one garden website explained it, "Another clue as to harvesting guava is the smell. The aroma should reach your nose, not your nose reach the aroma. That is, the fruit should begin to become so aromatic that you should smell the sweet, musky fragrance as you approach the tree." And this is absolutely true! Guavas begin their season in mid October through March. Apparently they are from the myrtle family, which also includes spices such as clove, cinnamon and allspice. Although it's native to South America, it is also grown in California, Florida and Hawaii. I foresee plenty of projects coming my way!

Though the cucumbers and tomatoes are slowly trickling in, the eggplant continues to produce! Another recipe I enjoy making with them (besides eggplant parmigiana) comes from a friend from a far away land! It is a delicious vegetarian eggplant and rice casserole dish. Everyone loves it! It is one of those recipes that can easily be adapted with what you have as it is a "real homemakers" recipe. This is how it was given to me: 

"Sautee in butter and olive oil...Onion and red and green bellpepper and garlic fresh or dried garlic/parsley and a grated carrot and zucchini with 2 large eggplants cubed with skin and 1 cup of raw rice and 6 fresh pear tomatoes cubed or whatever tomato you have and cook til tender......salt/pepper to taste with approx 1/2 to 1 teaspoon oregano and a dash of cayenne and add 3 to 4 cups boiling water or broth and cook until most of water is absorbed. You also can add a soup mix for flavoring. After all is cooked...pour into a greased 9X13 and top with cheese and bake at 350 for approx 30 min or until mixture is hot and cheese is melted."

I have substituted the "pear tomatoes" (aka Roma tomatoes) for a 28 oz. can of Cento's "chef's cut" tomatoes that I found at the 99cent store and it turned out wonderful too! This is a hearty recipe that tastes very Italian that most people who don't care for eggplant would probably enjoy! 

The fall baking bug has also bit me! I was good all summer long eating raw fruits and vegetables and then it just hit like a ton of bricks -- almost on the exact day it became autumn! Within a few weeks I had baked over 18 dozen cookies! They freeze so well and therefore come in handy for impromptu guests and the evenings sugar cravings (just being honest). These oatmeal scotchies are a family favorite. The recipe can be found here on the Quaker Oats site. 

The other thing I have been doing in the kitchen is making up my own sourdough "Boboli's" for the freezer for future convenience. It is really simple as I just double my sourdough pizza recipe on Friday nights (this can be done with regular pizza dough too of course!). I keep two for our dinner and par-bake two extra each week to add to the freezer. I place a piece of parchment in between the two cooled crusts and store them in an oversized plastic bag in the freezer. Then I just need to add the toppings on a night where I'm short on time, bake until bubbly and we're ready to go! I love double cooking shortcuts because there is less mess (it's done once) and more back up meals for busy nights. I also love that I don't need to throw out so much of my sourdough discard. It gets used up nicely here!

I've also been mixing up batches of fabric softener for our "laundry room pantry". These are the thrifty little projects that I love to do. I recycle our glass vinegar bottles until I collect a set (and then I use the bulk vinegar to prepare them). I enjoy making up the bottles with different aromas and purposes. I use the lemon scented vinegar for kitchen linens to cut any residual grease and disinfect the towels and napkins. I use the lavender (which means “to wash”) for my clothing which feels so old fashioned and pretty. I use the “natural” version of vinegar (aka plain vinegar) on my husbands’ work clothes. All have a purpose which adds to the joy of homemaking. It makes for a delightful life to put love into every task. Here is the simple tutorial

I also made up a big batch of these botanical perfumes using essential oils to give as gifts for the sweet females in my family and church friends. I like to prepare little gift kits of love and I included these in the packets this year (along with an encouraging Scripture and bookmark which were all lavender themed). They smell luxurious (if I do say so myself) and offer the aromatherapy benefits of gentle relaxation. I hope to share my recipe for this natural "sweet lavender" perfume soon!

As far as reading goes, I actually picked up an old Victorian novel from one of my favorite writers, Isabella Alden (aka Pansy) this month (it's been a while since I've read fiction). Her books are practical Christianity packaged up in a nice clean story which really inspires you to do something in your faith! She is a seed planter! She knows that everyone she comes in contact with is being influenced by her daily walk (whether good or bad) and she takes her lifestyle seriously. I also find a raw humor inside her writings because she fixes on our weaknesses so well (but that is probably my quirky nature that is amused by it). But if you haven't read a book by her, I really encourage you to! They are simple in style but very inspiring!

Synopsis ~ "Lewis Morgan had, at last, disappointed his mother. Mother Morgan knew that her son would one day marry; it is what young men do, after all. But she had hoped that he would wait a few more years and then choose one of the local girls. A good, sensible, hardworking farm girl would have been good enough for her. Why not for her son? Louise, Lewis's young bride, wants so much to fit in at the Morgan house. But from the moment she arrives it appears that she has little in common with her in-laws. How, she wonders, will she ever be able to share God's love with them?"

I'll leave you with an excerpt to give you an idea...

"Don’t you begin your Christian life by supposing that all these duties which fall upon us in such numbers consume just so much time that must be counted out, and with the piece that is left we are to serve Him. Remember it is He who said, ‘Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.’ Doesn’t that ‘whatsoever’ cover the pudding-kettle, too, Dorrie?”

New light was struggling on Dorrie’s face—just a glimmer, though, shadowed by bewilderment.

“It sounds as though it ought to,” she said, slowly. “And yet I cannot see how. What can my dishwashing have to do with serving Jesus? It seems almost irreverent.”

“It can’t be irreverent, dear, because he said it himself. ‘Diligent in business, serving the Lord.’ There is no period dividing these. I long ago discovered that I could make a bed and sweep a room for his sake, as surely as I could speak a word for him. It is my joy, Dorrie, that he has not separated any moment of my life from him, saying, ‘Here, so much drudgery each day, from which I must be entirely separated, then, when that is done, you may serve me.’ Work so divided would be drudgery indeed. I bless him that I may constantly serve, whether I am wiping the dust from my table or whether I am on my knees.”

Dorothy had held steadily on her course, the first lesson in her Christian experience being ever present with her, that in the very smallest matters of life her light might shine for Christ. She was learning the important lesson to be "faithful over a few things." 

 ~ A New Graft on the Family Tree by Isabella Alden, 1880 (affiliate link)

And a little reminder, if you haven't yet joined our giveaway please do so (there is 36 hours left)! Don't be shy... I would love to see what your favorites items are and I can't wait to mail out this giveaway gift to the randomly picked winner. It's fun to share and it makes it that much more fun knowing it is for one of you sweet ladies!

And finally, 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 hearing about your homemaking projects always inspire me! (As for myself, here is a platter I picked up on my monthly thrift day that I absolutely love!) Until next time...

Verse of the Month:

"that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing."
~1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Choose Your Favorite 5 Giveaway! ~ From Mistress of the House

"If the state of your home is continuous chaos, make it a priority to bring order into your home. After rhythm, establishing a sense of order is perhaps the most important thing you can do to promote your own and your family's sense of well being. Not to mention that no mother can think clearly, never mind celebrate family life, existing in clutter. "
~ Sarah Ban Breathnach, Mrs. Sharp's Traditions 

A warm autumn greeting to you all! Today we are sharing the sixth of seven little giveaways I had promised for this little blog! I call it the "Favorite 5 Giveaway" because you get to choose your favorite five items from our Etsy shop in each of the following categories! My hope is that these little homemaking goodies will bring beauty and order into your home! Please include all five choices in the comments so that I know which you would like should you be the random winner. I hope this makes sense and I hope you have fun putting together your homemaking "wish list"! 

#1 Choose your favorite canister sticker labels (the entire selection is shared on the link)!

Set/25 Vintage Shabby Chic Cottage Rose Designer 2 Round image 0

#2 Choose your favorite all purpose blank labels (the entire selection is shared on the link)!

Vintage White Floral Designer Cleaning VINYL STICKER LABELS image 0

#3 Choose one of our organizational labels -- either the bathroom organizational labels, the housecleaning labels, laundry organizational labels or the refrigerator organization labels.

Set/25 The LORD BLESS THEE 2x3inch Shabby Chic Rose image 0

#4 Choose your favorite Scripture sticker (the entire selection is shared on the link). 

Set/6 Antique Vintage Black Teacup Blank All-Occasion Kraft image 0

And finally, #5 choose your favorite stationary (the entire selection is shared on the link)!

In order to enter, you will need to submit the FIRST ENTRY in the Rafflecopter widget below (this allows me your email address privately and if you are the winner -- the question it asks for in the comments allows me to know your chosen prizes). I'll put in my sample entry in the comments first so you can see what I mean... The other entries are just bonus entries but not mandatory (they just increase your chances of winning). 

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 -- but make sure you do the first one of choosing your prizes!) in order to have 7 different chances to win! Just follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 5, 2020

Letters of Comfort ~ Sympathy Mail ~ Free Printable

"Rejoice with them that do rejoice,
and weep with them that weep."
~ Romans 12:15

Sending Sympathy...

There has been some measure of sadness and sorrow surrounding many of us in these unprecedented times. Often it’s hard to console or say the right thing. A phone call can get awkward, a text may feel cold but a letter in the mail always feels appropriate.

You can pray about the words before you write them down and it shows extra care when you take the time to send them. 

In difficult circumstances, I will often tuck a dainty white handkerchief inside, a special Scripture and even a sprig of dried lavender for an extra bit of love.

For our free printable letter inserts, visit here:

for the smaller size and here for the larger size...🤎

And for those of you who are housebound, what a beautiful blessing this can be... what a heartfelt ministry you can have! What a lovely homemaking hobby! 

"What a wonderful thing is the mail,
capable of conveying across continents a warm human hand-clasp."
~Author Unknown

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Time to "Autumn-ize" Your Home - Pretty & Practical Printable Fall Checklists

“No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace
as I have seen in one autumnal face."
~ John Donne, The Autumnal 

It's time to "autumn-ize" your home... fall is full of so much potential fun! And I do admit to loving a good homemaking checklist! Our pioneering ancestors would spend their complete spring and summer to make sure their autumn and winter existences were provided for. We may not have to rely on everything we grow for survival, but it is prudent to make sure your family is stocked for the chillier seasons as we never know what the future brings. I would advise to especially take stock of the medicinal pantry this month (and always to be working on your food pantry) in order to be prepared like the Proverbs 31 woman. I  also encourage you to nurture your artistic side and enjoy the aromas and beauty the season offers to embellish your homes with projects that celebrate the five senses of fall. And now, without further adieu, here is our pretty and practical autumn checklist:

- Make autumn inspired room sprays and place throughout your home (here is our recipe).

- Assess your home apothecary/medicine cabinet (i.e. health supplements, salves, essential oils, tinctures, herbal honeys) and prepare or purchase what is lacking. Do inventory on medicinal herbs and restock what is necessary for the cold and flu season. (Our apothecary sticker labels can be found here.)

- Organize your culinary herbs and spices. Restock what is necessary.

- Take inventory of your spice mixes and prepare and/or restock what is necessary.

- Make your own pumpkin pie spice (here is a  recipe from The Pioneer Woman).

- Do a fall maintenance on your pantry. Go through all the contents, remove everything, put aside what is aged and add that to the "use up" quickly list, give away what you are no longer eating (I have some items that I bought that I really didn't take a liking to but I know others enjoy), throw away what is truly old (and not just expired as those dates are way too conservative), make a list of what you are low on, wipe down the shelves, restock your pantry, label what is necessary, place everything back in order.

- Prepare broths and stocks (freeze or pressure-can them).

- Prepare hearty health-giving soups such as the traditional homemade chicken soup (freeze or pressure-can them). These will be your emergency stash when the cold or flu hit or to deliver to someone who is ill.

- Make up meals featuring fall vegetables. Some ideas are butternut squash soup, pumpkin soup, roasted root vegetables, sweet potatoes fries, twice baked potatoes and seasonal soups and stews.

- Make an apple crazy cake.

- Bake apple and pumpkin treats.

- Harvest and preserve the remains of the summer garden.

- Prepare some homemade mixes to add to the pantry such as cornbread mix, oatmeal muffin mix, pie crust mix and jam bar mix.

- Make a big batch of granola. Prepare extra for autumn hostess gifts.

- Make mulling spice sugar scrub (for gifts and for home).

- Diffuse orange, cinnamon, and clove essential oils to clean the air and delight the senses.

- Do some frugal fall decorating by bringing out any earth-toned dishes, displaying seasonal fruits in autumn colored bowls or baskets and/or printing out our "Give Thanks" sign to style autumn inspired vignettes in your home.

- Dry flowers and leaves for frugal fall decorating.

- Make your own fall-inspired wreaths.

- Forage for pine cones, acorns, leaves and prepare autumn potpourri for display (switch out the dried citrus for dried apples to make it more autumn inspired).

- Burn autumn scented candles.

- Prepare simmering potpourri (add nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, apples slices/cores/peels, or citrus slices with water and simmer for a soothing fall scent).

- Change out linens. Replace lightweight bedding with heavier blankets (and in fall colors if available), change out shower curtains to reflect the fall season (if available) and use kitchen linens to reflect autumn colors (use earth-toned tablecloths and napkins if you have them).

- Pull out your fall clothing (sweaters, scarves, corduroy, etc.) and move to the front of the closet for easy access. Make sure you have a nice selection of warm underclothes such as tights and leggings and overclothes such as a heavy jacket and cardigans (shop the thrift stores if you are lacking -- I find so many warm and cozy clothes there!).

- Read fall inspired books and watch fall inspired movies (some of my favorites are shared in the links below). Although the pictured book isn't autumn inspired, it certainly has a beautiful autumn cover so this counts! 🤎 (A caveat... I pictured the book above because of its lovely fall colors, but I have not read it yet as it is my latest thrift store acquisition so I am not necessarily recommending it yet...)

And finally, here are some autumn inspired gift tags to print for any of these fall inspired projects (pictured below)!

With this in mind, how can you ever be bored at home? There is so much to do when you are a season loving homemaker!

Here is a link to our PRINTABLE FALL HOMEMAKING CHECKLIST for those of you who love lists! 

You can also find the PRINTABLE Martha Stewart Fall Home Maintenance Checklist HERE which shares a very practical side of the autumn chore list! 

Happy homemaking! 🤎

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Fall $ale ~ 25% off ALL Canister Label Stickers

"It's the first day of autumn! A time of hot chocolatey mornings, and toasty marshmallow evenings, and, best of all, leaping into leaves!"
~ Winnie the Pooh, Pooh's Grand Adventure

First Week of Autumn Sale...

Visit our Etsy Store -- 

-- for the complete collection of our canister label stickers!

Sale ends Monday...

While supplies last...

Happy homemaking,


Wednesday, September 16, 2020

August 2020 Newsletter

"But in this season it is well to reassert that the hope of mankind rest in faith. As man thinketh, so he is. Nothing much happens unless you believe in it, and believing there is hope for the world is a way to move toward it."
~ Gladys Taber

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. The problem with making a monthly newsletter is that sometimes life is a blur and you can't remember all the details. That is the case with last month so you will have to forgive this vague attempt at reporting! I almost skipped this month but since I do have some pictures... perhaps they will tell the story. 

I can safely say my month was full of family dinners with family prayers, made with homegrown foods and other daily blessings of a simple life. It is hard to get used to the fact that our garden space is limited right now and there hasn't been an abundance to preserve. But we are enjoying everything we are growing and I suppose that is a blessing in itself.

I made at least three - 13x9 inch - casserole dishes of eggplant parmigiana featuring our humble harvest. That is one of my husband's favorite dishes so he was happy!

We continued  to enjoy the last of the tomatoes in these fresh, tasty and healthy caprese salads.

I also shared my favorite tuna salad recipe on Instagram but I will put it here as well (for those of you who are not on it). It is called "Mediterranean Tuna". You simply dice up some red bell peppers (ours are from the garden), snip in some green onions or chives (ours are from the herb garden) and add in a handful of sliced olives.

Mix in mayonnaise and seasoned salt with some freshly ground pepper and you have a tasty tuna salad. Serve with whole grain bread for sandwiches, dip with your favorite chips and crackers or lay atop a pile of fresh greens! Do you have a favorite tuna recipe?

I also have been preparing batches of spice mixes for our pantry by the pint. We go through the ranch and Italian dressings like water! What I love about these mixes is that they are healthier and don't contain all the extra additives and are very inexpensive to make. For the Italian dressing recipe, I substituted the sugar for Monkfruit sweetener and that works out well. I also use the Italian dressing mix as an herbal sprinkle on top of my salads if I use plain vinegar and oil (I put a small amount in a shaker). It would be tasty on top of pizza too!

For the ranch dip mix, I actually revised the recipe that I shared many years ago. I like this mixture better and will share the updated version soon! It is now our favorite and it doesn't contain the evil MSG! Plus it is pennies to make when compared to purchasing the Hidden Valley mix!

Note: When preparing your own spice mixes, I find buying the parsley, onion powder, garlic powder and black pepper in bulk to be very beneficial (I purchase ours at Costco).

I also continue to build up my pantry (these labels can be found here). Unfortunately, we are living in uncertain times and we see that sometimes (contrary to popular belief), the stores can not keep up with the demand during a crisis. I feel that as the keeper of my home, it is my duty to make sure we have the proper inventory of household supplies to get us through at least a six-month period. Just like a business needs to keep a certain amount of inventory to make it run efficiently, so must we in our home if we want things to run smoothly. I have been doing this for years but now I have seen the first-hand blessing of it! (See our preparedness series here and our pantry series here.)

In good times, basic flour, oatmeal, beans and rice are very affordable and those are the items I gravitate towards because of our budget. I am not putting us back financially to prepare (you can add one item for $5 a week which will get you suprisingly far!) and these particular food items last longer so there is no harm in storing them long term. During the "heat of the moment" a few months back, I wasn't running around looking for flour or other food items, we already had a solid supply of food. 

To give a small example of following these little homemaking instincts... during our last year of homeschooling, we read Hiroshima together. After finishing the book, I felt a great need to stock up on our first aid supplies (as that was the sought after element during that tragic time). I went to Walmart and purchased many bottles of alcohol, bandaids, peroxide, you name it! This was done during a time of plenty so I don't consider that hoarding but preparing. Well, as soon as the crisis hit us at the beginning of the year, my husband came home saying an elderly man he knew was panicking as he needed alcohol to clean some of his medical supplies and couldn't find any. It felt so good to be able to hand my husband a bottle knowing we had plenty to share and plenty for home use. These are the things I am thinking of as I continue to build my medicinal pantry, my first aid pantry, my toiletry pantry and my food storage. That investment into my first aid kit only set me back $20 as alcohol was cheap at that time ($1 per bottle) and little did I know what a sought-after item it would turn out to be a few months later!

On a lighter note, last month I enjoyed reading Mrs. Dunwoody's Excellent Instructions for Homekeeping - Timeless Wisdom and Practical Advice by Miriam Lukken. It is an older book and I don't think it is in publication anymore but I thoroughly enjoyed its old-fashioned wisdom and charm. I will share a quote that I appreciated from the book and will sprinkle more in future posts as there are quite a few gems in there!

"She often wrote and spoke of finding the sacred in the everyday. In one of her many letters to her daughters, she noted, "One has to be in the same place every day, watch the sun rise from the same house, hear the same birds awaken each morning, to realize how inexhaustibly rich and different is sameness." And later, "even the common articles made for daily use become endowed with beauty when they are loved. We must strive to see the goodness or usefulness in all things, taking nothing for granted. And we must approach every task as a blessing to be received, never as a chore." Those who knew her best describe a woman of elegance and effortless charm who dearly cherished her faith and was always attentive to the lives around her."
by Miriam Lukken

Also, I know many of you are planning for the new homeschool year! How I miss that and wanted to take a moment to share a link to our Charlotte Mason seriesFree Unit Studies and our index of general homeschooling posts in case you need some ideas! There are so many fun things you can do and learn with your children this year! How I have been reflecting back on all our memories and cherishing every single one. It does eventually end one day and you will be surprised at how much you end up missing it! 

As a reminder, our "In Love with Lavender" giveaway ends soon (within 24 hours) in case you haven't yet entered! It is a set of herbal goodness that I find useful and lovely in homemaking. I have to mention again that my favorite part about the giveaways is reading all the comments! It is so much fun to hear from you all!

And finally, 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 hearing about your homemaking projects always inspires me! (As for myself, here are a few thrifted jars I have collected to add to my goal of creating an "old world" style pantry. It is another nerdy homemaking hobby of mine!) Until next time...

Verse of the Month:

"Prove all things;
hold fast that which is good.
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:21

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