Tuesday, December 5, 2023

We are Sunshine-Makers

“Go out more, keep cheerful as well as busy,
for you are the sunshine-maker of the family, 
and if you get dismal there is no fair weather.”
Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

Dear keeper at home,

you are the sunshine-maker of the family.

You see the weather forecast of the day and you brighten it as best as you can.

Like a group of candles burning together makes a peaceful glow, so does the light that you spread in your home in all your nurturing ways.

You see a "storm" coming... 

It is a troubled face... and as it walks through the door,  you are the first to offer a kiss, an embrace, an ear, a shoulder and an encouraging word.

You see a "weather-beaten" man (your husband ☺️)...

You know he has had a rough, long day... you make an extra special supper. In the winter you would add another log to the fire. In the summer, you might turn down the air-conditioner one more degree to offer him refreshment from the exhausting heat. 

You see your child is going through some "windy" days...

You bake something special to cheer the family... You are there waiting to listen to their story.

You manage the house so that all have clean towels, tidy rooms and tasty meals. 

But most of all, you are managing the ambiance in the life of the home.

You are the sunshine-maker bringing brightness to the dark days.

"But the path of the just is as the shining light, 
that shineth more and more unto the perfect day."
~ Proverbs 4:18

"The Lord make His face shine upon you..."
~ Numbers 6:26

and THROUGH you!

May we all be a window of His love and light to our family.

Happy winter…
Love, JES

P.S. Thank you to all who have encouraged and commented in my absence.
It was very touching to be remembered.

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Preserving Orange Gem Jelly, Discards and Delighting in the Light

"A man ought to carry himself in the world as an orange tree would if it could walk up and down in the garden, swinging perfume from every little censer it holds up to the air."
~ Henry Ward Beecher

I love to work with citrus in the winter. Not only is it tasty and refreshing and full of the necessary vitamin C, but bright and beautiful in the somber chilly background of the season. Preserving food in jars is also very welcoming in this weather as the warmth canning brings into the kitchen is much appreciated. Plus, adding extra jars to the pantry shelf is indeed lovely too. Would you care to join me in preserving some delicious orange gem jelly? As the name suggests, it is reminiscent of those "Sunkist" sugared orange gem candies I loved as a child. Plus, it is quite simple to make.

  • 2 c. freshly squeezed, strained orange juice (from approx. 5-6 oranges) 
  • 1/3 c. freshly squeezed, strained lemon juice (from approx. 2 lemons) 
  • 2/3 c. water 
  • 6 tbsp. pectin (I buy it in bulk HERE or 1 box of Sure Jell)
  • long strip of orange peel (from oranges used above) 
  • 3 c. sugar (I use organic from Costco)


Place the strained orange juice, lemon juice and water in a large cooking pot. Drop in the orange peel. Stir in the pectin until dissolved and bring to a boil (stirring frequently). Once liquid reaches a rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, then add in the sugar and bring to another rolling boil (stirring frequently). Once liquid reaches another rolling boil, let it boil for one minute longer while stirring constantly so it doesn’t overflow. Remove from heat. Using tongs, remove strip of orange peel and discard. Skim off any foam quickly and ladle jelly into hot, sterilized half-pint (or quarter-pint) jars leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe rim of jars with a dampened clean towel; adjust two-piece metal canning lids. Process for 5 minutes in a boiling water canner. Remove jars and cool (out of the way of any drafts) on a kitchen towel once processing time is complete. 

Wait for 12 hours and then you may store your lovely jelly in the pantry.

Yield: 4 half-pint jars (or 8 1/4-pint jars)

Note: This recipe has been adapted from the “National Center for Food Preservation” website.

You will find the printable version of this recipe HERE should you like to add it to your "Preserving Notebook"

Though I was gifted one small basket of homegrown oranges, I was able to preserve so much from them! 

This was all produced for our home from the free basket of organic, homegrown oranges (last year). I thought it would be fun to include ways you can use up every last bit of this refreshing citrus fruit (no discards here!):

- 8 quarter-pint jars of orange gem jelly (recipe shared HERE)

- 8 half-pint jars of macerated marmalade (this was an experiment and a failure at that so I'm definitely not going to share this recipe!)

- 3 dehydrator trays dried zest (which I removed from the oranges before making the jelly - for medicinals, cooking, baking, DIY products, etc.)

- 1 dehydrator tray dried orange slices (to be used in tea blends, infusing large jars of sun tea, potpourri, garnish and my newest idea of placing under roasting poultry to impart flavor)

- a few quart jars of orange peel vinegar for making cleaning products.

- jar of orange peel ends for the freezer (when I save enough I will make pectin with them) The ends can also be used to make many other things - visit my ebook for 100+ ways to use fruit scraps for more ideas.

- 3 orange roses (for fun! - to embellish orange cakes, etc.) (The tutorial is also shared in my ebook - 100+ ways to use fruit scraps.)

And finally, you get to place all your resourceful homemade items on your pantry shelf just like Ma Ingalls would have done! 

“The sunshine came streaming through the windows into the house, and everything was so neat and pretty. The table was covered with a red cloth, and the cookstove was polished shining black. Through the bedroom door Laura could see the trundle bed in its place under the big bed. The pantry door stood wide open, giving the sight and smell of goodies on the shelves, and Black Susan came purring down the stairs from the attic, where she had been taking a nap."
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House in the Big Woods

I think the joy one gets from reading these pioneering classics is the ability to see the beauty in the ordinary. While the darkness seems to be looming in so many areas of life, these books (and Scripture - read Phil 4:8) remind us to glorify in the basic but beautiful blessings.  To enjoy the heavenly gifts...

Sunshine, the chirping of the birds, the early luscious spring growth and the aroma of wet earth, the cozy kitchen with the curtains flowing in the breeze, the smell of a newborn child, the smile from a toddler, the embrace from a child, the laughter shared with a teen, the steadfastness of a husband’s love, the eternal promises from Above.

Dearest reader, though it is winter, let us remember to delight in the Light.

“Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying,
"I am the light of the world.
He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness,
but have the light of life."
~ John 8:12

I hope you enjoyed today's winter preservation post with a touch of simple pioneer nostalgia. It is raining this morning and the sound of the pitter-patter is so gentle and soothing. I'm looking forward to beginning my nesting for the day. Happy homemaking! Love, JES

Monday, December 19, 2022

The "Art" of Home-Making Mondays ~ Inspiration #13


"What are some of the secrets of happy home life? The answer might be given in one word—Christ. Christ at the marriage-altar; Christ on the bridal journey; Christ when the new home is set up; Christ when the baby is born; Christ when a child dies; Christ in the pinching times; Christ in the days of plenty; Christ in the nursery, in the kitchen, in the parlor; Christ in the toil and in the rest; Christ along all the years; Christ when the wedded pair walk toward the sunset gates; Christ in the sad hour when farewells are spoken, and one goes on before and the other stays, bearing the unshared grief. Christ is the secret of happy home life."

P.S. I also wanted to say thank you to those who shared with me some ideas, encouragement, suggestions, etc., in the comments of my last post regarding the continuation of the blog. Your input was very helpful! I look forward to share here and there (in both large and/or small doses) and I appreciate all the kindness you sprinkled here on this little space ♥️


Friday, November 18, 2022

Love Languages in the Home, DIY Pumpkin Pie Spice and Desserts

“Of all the music that reached farthest into heaven,
it is the beating of a loving heart."
~ Henry Ward Beecher

Love languages in the home…

- freshly baked desserts

- coziness (throw blankets!)

- a welcoming smile

- freshly picked flowers or greenery

- diffusers running

- tidiness

- a gentle squeeze

- meals together

- candlelight

- folded laundry piles

- pie (savory and sweet)

- a bedtime story

- prayers

- hugs

- encouragement

- your undivided attention 📵

“Let all that you do be done with love.”
~ 1 Corinthians 16:14

Pumpkin pie is my husband's love language or pumpkin desserts in general! And to have a nice supply of pumpkin pie spice makes baking day a bit more smoother. If a pumpkin related recipe calls for a bit of ginger, a bit of cinnamon and/or a bit of cloves, etc., I simply add up all the ingredient amounts and conveniently use that total in "pumpkin pie spice". It takes less time for me to individually measure out each one and less time to dig up the individual spices in the cabinet.  

Pumpkin Pie Spice Recipe:

— 1/2 c. cinnamon

— 1/4 c. ground ginger

— 2 tbsp. nutmeg

— 2 tbsp. ground cloves

Stir ingredients together until combined.

Yield: approx. 1 cup

For the printable recipe, please visit HERE.

And dessert doesn’t have to be unhealthy. This clean eating recipe is from The Transformed Wife and uses maple syrup (or honey) as a sweetener and coconut milk for creaminess. My husband absolutely loved it. She shares her recipe HERE if you’re interested. The nicest thing is that it is so easy to make! All the ingredients go into the blender and then poured into the pie shell. 

Note: She has since shared an alternative to the recipe which includes these changes which I made: I used maple syrup in lieu of honey, used only 1/2 c. of coconut milk (per a change she made when using maple syrup) and I added 1 tsp. vanilla. I also used 1 1/2 rounded teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice in lieu of the spices shared. 

I’ll also point out that I’m not the best at making “beautiful” Pinterest-perfect pies but I continue to post pictures of them because my family thinks they’re wonderful ☺️. We are often our own worst critics and yet, when we do these kinds of things in our home (“flaws” and all for our family), they are so grateful! They don’t require perfection from us, just simple acts of love or simply love in general.

Here is another healthy pumpkin recipe for pumpkin cake which I shared long ago. It uses honey as a sweetener and whole wheat flour. It is nice and moist and with your favorite cream cheese frosting, everyone will love it! You will find the printable recipe HERE.

Lastly, in the event that you have no fresh eggs, milk and/or butter (or are trying to economize), you can still make a delicious and moist cake thanks to our Depression Era ancestors who came up with the crazy cakes. It is also dairy free for those who have allergies. This cake is easy to make, doesn't make a mess and is surprisingly good! You will find the recipe HERE.

You can use pumpkin or butternut squash or any other orange-fleshed gourd in any of these recipes. But one thing is necessary, your homemade pumpkin pie spice! 😉

It may seem simple (though sometimes it can be "oh-so-hard"), but it is a beautiful life, full of love and for that,  I am grateful.

"Thank God, O women for the quietude of your home, and that you are queen in it. Men come at eventide to the home; but all day long you are there, beautifying it, sanctifying it, adorning it, blessing it. Better be there than wear a queen's coronet. Better be there than carry the purse of a princess. It may be a very humble home. There may be no carpet on the floor. There may be no pictures on the wall. There may be no silks in the wardrobe; but, by your faith in God, and your cheerful demeanor, you may garniture that place with more splendor than the upholsterer's hand ever kindled."
~ T. DeWitt Talmage

Happy autumn homemaking,

P.S. I got behind once again in my newsletters, I am wondering if they are still worth publishing? Would you rather have a long post or none at all? I know time is valuable for everyone and I am not sure this blog is useful anymore with all the information that has already been posted all over the internet. It feels like there is nothing new under the sun as Solomon says.... I do appreciate your feedback. ♡ JES