Saturday, June 28, 2014

Ode to Summer ~ Link Up Love

“I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where it was always June.”
L. M. Montgomery

Summer has a signature that is all her own. Today we spotlight this season with the following posts shared from the 6th edition of The Art of Home-Making Mondays. I hope you are inspired to try some of these ideas!

Under an English Sky shares all things June (though a little late, I think the inspiration still applies!). Perhaps you will be left with the desire to embrace those details which makes this month special such as church calendar days, kitchen and craft creations, nature and garden projects, you name it!

I love this round up by the Gypsy Herbal! She shares 100+ Cold Drinks You Can Make for Hot Days. This is full of the tastiest looking concoctions and all which appear to be healthy! What a treasure for those hot, summer days! The "frothy raw chocolate milk" got my attention. What about you? 

For many of you, the children are on summer break. I love this list shared by Mom's Morning Coffee which gives you 10 Fun Activities That You Can Do with Your Kids That Double as Exercise. It keep your little ones active and playing, keeps you healthy and strong, and best of all, keeps everyone away from all those flashing screens!

The Homestead Lady shares ideas for preparing a children's vegetable garden. I think this is a wonderful idea to plant the seeds of gardening in the next generation (as well as another way to remove them from the temptation of television).

Is it too hot to play outside today? Sunshine by Channon shares two new ways to enjoy paper dolls (and not just for girls!). I love this idea and think it would be a great indoor activity to do during those heat-waves!

"Bright shines the summer sun,
Soft is the summer air;
Gayly the wood-birds sing,
Flowers are blooming fair.

Thank you ladies for sharing this wonderful summer inspiration!  I invite you all to please join us next week for The Art of Home-Making Mondays. Your post may be featured here :)

This post may be shared with some or all of the following link-ups: The Art of Home-Making MondaysModest Mom Monday'sHomestead Barn HopMonday's MusingsTitus 2sdaysTeach Me TuesdayRaising HomemakersMake Bake CreateWise Woman Link UpChristian Homemaking, Wow Us Wednesdays, Wildcrafting WednesdayThe ScoopSo Much at HomeHomemaking ThursdaysHearts for Home ThursdaysGrowing in Grace ThursdaysHome Acre HopFrom the Farm Blog HopFarmgirl FridayFront Porch Friday Blog HopSimple Meals FridayCultivate Nourishing and Clever Chicks Blog Hop. Thank you lovely ladies for hosting these.

Friday, June 27, 2014

About Vacuuming and Ways to Make it Pleasant with Aromatherapy

"When your dreams turn to dust, vacuum."
~ Author Unknown

Housework can be a healer. It removes dust mites and dirt for a healthier home. It keeps your mind busy on useful endeavors that you can actually control.  It creates a sense of peace and order.  Even vacuuming can become a pleasant (and somewhat romantic) task if you implement some of these aromatherapy ideas:

  • Prepare an all natural carpet freshener using essential oils. Simply add 15 drops of your favorite scent to 1 - 2 cups of baking soda. Stir well and allow the ingredients to "marinate" for a day. To use, sprinkle the freshener on your carpet, let the mixture sit for at least 10 minutes and then vacuum up. Enjoy the fragrance!
  • Create a carpet deoderizer using dried lavender and baking soda (our tutorial is shared here). For variation, replace the lavender with your favorite dried herbs such as rose petals or eucalyptus leaves (great option if you have indoor pets since the aroma is a deterrent for fleas and ticks). Enjoy your fragrant but frugal concoction!
  • "add 6-8 drops of essential oil on a cotton-wool ball and pop it in the bag. Replace it with a new fragrance, if you wish, each time you change the bag, or empty it out— whichever is applicable to your machine. An even simpler method is to place the drops of essential oil directly onto the bag, just by the air outlet, but this isn’t a good option for non-replaceable bags because you may wish to change the aroma later. Try the essential oils of lemon, orange, lavender, or pine to eradicate that dustiness which so often makes vacuuming the sort of job that you feel you want to take a bath after!" (Valerie Ann Worwood, Inspiration Excerpted from The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy)

How often should you vacuum? At least once a week. I would suggest more often if someone in your home suffers from allergies, asthma, emphysema and/or if you have indoor pets. Keeping shoes off in the house helps to reduce dust and dirt but this can be a challenge for some of us. It is also recommended that you deep clean your carpets at least once a year to maintain a healthier home environment.

As far as vacuum cleaners go, we love the Oreck Classic Upright (we are on our 2nd one after 16 years)! It is very lightweight (therefore gentle on my back and easy to maneuver), simple to maintenance ourselves (just use a seam ripper to remove all strings and hair from the roller on the bottom of unit once a month), is energy efficient and offers HEPA filters which are highly recommended for removing the unwanted airborne articles and allergens from the air. What kind do you use and why?

And finally, the age-old question (well, not really but...), do you dust or vacuum first? In our household, we do all the cleaning and dusting at the beginning with the assumption that all the particles are making their way down to the dirty floor. At the end of our session, we vacuum everything up and the house is finally clean! What is your thinking on this? If interested, you will find more housecleaning inspiration here.

"There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus."
~ Blaise Pascal

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Sweetness of Summer ~ Seasonal Selection of Posts

“All in all, it was a never-to-be-forgotten summer — one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going — one of those summers which, in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends and delightful doing, come as near to perfection as anything can come in this world.”
~ L.M. Montgomery, Anne's House of Dreams

"Now learn a parable of the fig tree;
When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves,
ye know that summer is near..."
~Mark 13:28

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Herbs That Heal From Your Back Yard ~ Link Up Love

"A weed is a plant whose virtue is not yet known."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

We have been interested in natural health care ever since we had our first child. Thirteen years later, I am still convicted in healing from God's pharmacy but now have a desire to harvest the medicine from our own back yard. The hope is to eliminate those expensive health food stores with the realization that a weed becomes a medicine when you understand its properties! With that being said, here are some links shared from the 5th edition of The Art of Homemaking Mondays which will further our herbal knowledge. Do you recognize any of these plants from your back yard?

Foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains shares about "self-heal" which is a member of the mint family. Visit her blog to learn about its health benefits including comfort for a sore throat.

Annie's Place gives us a treasure chest of information on plantain. This is sure to be found in your back yard and would be a blessing in your first aid kit.

Health & Home & Heritage shares some ideas on how to use herbs in the kitchen. These recipes are like a gentle medicine for the body.

"A man may esteem himself happy when that which is his food is also his medicine."
~Henry David Thoreau

Thank you ladies for sharing these herbal ideas! You may want to include some of this information in your herbal. And please join us next week for The Art of Home-Making Mondays. Your post may be featured here :)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

"Odds & Ends" ~ Monthly Home Maintenance Series

"There are certain odds and ends where every housekeeper will gain much by having a regular time to attend them. Let this time be the last Saturday forenoon in every month, or any other time more agreeable; but let there be a regular fixed time once a month in which the housekeeper will attend to the following things..."
~ Catharine Beecher & Harriet Stowe, The New Housekeeper's Manual, 1873

Our home has been a hotel of sorts for the last eight months and we desperately need to regroup in this little farmhouse. When you are limited on space, you begin to place things "for the time being" in areas that turn into cluttered chaos. I can not wait to tackle all those spots, place everything back into order and restock our inventory of household supplies (just the thought of it makes me smile)! Would you like to join us in our "odds and ends" journey? We will be sharing our progress in little snippets along the way.

This is actually something I have been doing for many years and was excited when I read that Catharine Beecher suggested it as well (she was the Victorian Era "Martha Stewart" of the time). Are you ready for Ms. Beecher's list of seven recommendations? Though some steps will not apply to our modern era, I think you can get the idea!

  • "First. Go around every room, drawer, and closet in the house, and see what is out of order, and what needs to be done, and make arrangements as to time and manner of doing it.
  • Second. Examine the store-closet, and see if there is a proper supply of all articles needed there.
  • Third. Go to the cellar, and see if the salted provision, vegetables, pickles, vinegar, and all other articles stored in the cellar are in proper order, and examine all the preserves and jellies.
  • Fourth. Examine the trunk or closet of family linen, and see what needs to be repaired and renewed.
  • Fifth. See if there is a supply of dish-towels, dish-cloths, bags, holders, floor-cloths, dust-cloths, wrapping-paper, twine, lamp-wicks, and all other articles needed in kitchen work. 
  • Sixth. Count over the spoons, knives, and forks, and examine all the various household utensils, to see what needs replacing and what should be repaired.
  • Seventh. Have in a box a hammer, tacks, pincers, gimlets, nails, screws, screw-driver, small saw, and two sizes of chisels for emergencies when no regular workman is at hand. Also be prepared to set glass. Every lady should be able in emergency to do such jobs herself."
~ Catharine Beecher & Harriet Stowe, The New Housekeeper's Manual, 1873

As a tune up on your car makes everything run smoothly, so does this monthly tune-up on your home! It is purely a pleasure to live in a house that has been kept up (and quite frustrating to live in disarray). We will begin this "odds and ends" maintenance by restocking our cleaning closet. Then we shall attend to each area, adding little homemaking touches of love along the way. Doesn't this sound wonderful?!

Complete Steps in Series:

Step #1 ~ What Needs to Be Done in Your Home?
Step #2 ~ Restocking the Cleaning Closet
Step #2, 3, 5, 6 ~ Examining the Store-Closet, Pantry, Cellar and Such
Step #4 ~ Examining the "Table Linens"
Step #4 ~ Examining the "Bed Linens"
Step #7 Examining the Toolbox and/or "Junk Drawer"

Checklist for Preparing Your Own Maintenance:

"Odds and Ends" Monthly Home Maintenance ~ Printable Checklist

You will find more home organization ideas here if you are interested.

"A housekeeper who will have a regular time for attending to these particulars will find her whole family machinery moving easily and well; but one who does not, will constantly be finding something out of joint, and an unquiet, secret apprehension of duties left undone or forgotten, which no other method will so effectually remove."
~ Catharine Beecher & Harriet Stowe, The New Housekeeper's Manual, 1873

Friday, June 13, 2014

Peter Rabbit's "Bedtime Blend" Chamomile Bath Powders ~ DIY

"His mother put him to bed, and made some camomile..."
The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

As chamomile was often the herb used to calm many of Peter Rabbit's calamities (since it is gentle and safe for little ones), it should come as no surprise that Mrs. Rabbit also used it during his bedtime bath routine. She had all three simple ingredients in her pantry so this was her favorite recipe (inspiration was found in this book). Here is how she prepared it (though I am not quite sure that she used a blender):

Place 4 cups of oatmeal in a large jar or bowl. Oatmeal is a very gentle cleanser that contains saponins. It gives that foamy sensation that helps to lift dirt and oil from the skin making it an excellent natural choice for those with sensitive skin.

Add 1/2 cup of cornstarch which is a soft skin soother (organic is preferred as most corn products are GMO).

Then add 1 cup of dried chamomile flowers. This herb has many health benefits but for this recipe we are focusing on the fact that it boasts skin healing properties. Chamomile soothes rashes (such as eczema), minors burns and reduces skin inflammation. The bonus is that it is also known to be relaxing. 

Place all three of your ingredients together in a blender and pulse until smooth. (This is just too easy!)

Your bedtime bath powder is now ready! Place 1/2 cup into your bath as you fill it up or scoop mixture inside muslin bags and place under your flowing bath faucet. And remember, us old folks could benefit from a soothing and stress-releiving chamomile soak as well!

To make this into a sweet gift, pour bath powders into a mason jar (the blue ones would be darling!) or vintage milk bottle, decorate the lid (we used a fabric scrap and twine), attach our label (two versions shared below) and add a Gift Tag.

You may also want to include our Peter Rabbit Room SprayPeter Rabbit Bookmarks and other "Peter" related projects which are found here. All compliments of Mrs. Rabbit of course!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Grandmother's Project Table

"...distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality."
~ Romans 12:13

One thing I will always remember about my husbands' grandmother was her project table. When you walked into her family room, it was often sitting there, waiting to bless some one. I would get excited to see what she was up to that week. I had never known a woman that was so industrious and I was inspired!

She mended stacks of clothes which her family no longer used. She carefully replaced any missing buttons, scrubbed out any stains and washed them until they were almost new. She would mail them to faraway lands where people would use them.

She baked mounds of apricot danishes which tasted like heaven. She would call all the children and grandchildren. "Come over, I have some surprises for you." And everyone came running, excited to see her love transformed into pastries and other dainties.  

Sometimes her project table was a laundry station. Her new grand-daughter-in-law and others who lived in apartments when newly married, lacked an area to do washing. Grandmother wouldn't hear of them going to the laundromat. She would say, "drop them off in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon." She had a way of saying it and we listened.

When she passed on, people would later share of the pies that were left on their porches, of handwritten cards that were sent to them during trials. I smiled for I knew where they were written, I imagined them piled in stacks, organized neatly and waiting to be stamped on that old project table.

If you were to ask me what I want to be when I am "grown up", I would say "grandmother". We are never too old to be a blessing and never too young to start...

"Let your light so shine before men,
that they may see your good works
and glorify your Father in heaven."

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Prepare a Breakfast Tea Tray ~ Link Up Love

“Breakfast! My favorite meal- and you can be so creative. I think of bowls of sparkling berries and fresh cream, baskets of popovers and freshly squeezed orange juice... even the nutty flavor of Irish oatmeal with brown sugar and cream. Breakfast is the place I splurge with calories, then I spend the rest of the day getting them off! I love to use my prettiest table settings - crocheted placemats with lace-edged napkins and old hammered silver. And whether you are inside in front of a fire, candles burning brightly on a wintery day - or outside on a patio enjoying the morning sun - whether you are having a group of friends and family, a quiet little brunch for two, or an even quieter little brunch just for yourself, breakfast can set the mood and pace of the whole day."

It is hard for me to eat in the morning but one thing has always tempted me, a breakfast tray! Filled with sweet and savory dainties, a generous pat of butter, something hot and something chilled, I am immediately drawn in! Here are some posts which were shared on our 3rd Edition of The Art of Home-Making Mondays which inspired in me a lovely breakfast ensemble. Would you like to join in as I prepare my dream tray? 

To begin, a hot roll with steam rising from it is a must have on every breakfast tea tray! These biscuits shared at Savoir Vivre Autrement will certainly do the trick. Just be certain you have some farm fresh butter to go with them!

Now, some jam to spread on your bread... Sarah at Hope in Every Season shares her recipe on making peach orange marmalade (no pectin needed) which will delight the morning senses!

A dose of protein is a wise way to start off your day! Visit Phylicia Delta where she shares her homemade yogurt recipe with us. You will also enjoy her storytelling abilities.

Next on the menu, muffins are a must! Lisa at Happy in Dole Valley linked up her healthy (but tasty) strawberry sourdough muffin that I am eager to try. Place your leftover fresh fruit in a china bowl and serve that too!

Finally, some herbal tea would be a soothing start to your special morning. The Homestead Lady shares how to dry your own mint for tea, what the health benefits are and other interesting uses for this prolific herb.

Don't forget to serve your dainties on pretty dishes! Julie at The Smallest Acre shared her beautiful bargain hunting finds with us. We don't need a large budget to prepare an attractive table!

And lastly, flowers and a devotional make a fine finishing touch. Join Stephanie at The Enchanting Rose where she shares both with us in the inspiring, "Come Unto Me".

The most exciting part about a breakfast tray is the presentation and variety. When my back was out a few weeks ago, my daughter prepared one for me every morning (her own idea). What a blessing! Is there anyone in your home who could use a little love as well? Thank you ladies for sharing your homemaking ideas with us! I invite you all to join us next week at The Art of Home-Making Mondays.

"...though never in her life before had she beheld
half such variety on a breakfast–table..."
~ Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Friday, June 6, 2014

Strawberry "Mason Jar Labels and More" Gift Kit ~ Free Printable

"It has been beautiful to-day, and we have sat out of doors a good deal. Papa and the boys went out to our hill after tea last evening and picked two quarts of strawberries, so as to have a short-cake to-day."

Alas, the final post this season in our ode to strawberries. There are so many delicious homemaking projects that would benefit from a bit of scrap-booking love. Let us not forget, a keeper at home is allowed to have fun while making her home (there is nothing dull about it)!

Our printable features two round mason jar labels, two gift tags, one garden gift tag, three round strawberry scrap pieces, two rectangular strawberry scrap pieces and twelve strawberry bunting flags. 

For the bunting flags, fold them in half and use a glue stick to apply them to a toothpick. They would look darling inside of strawberry shortcakes, cupcakes and other sweet surprises.

The labels could be used year-round on gifts of any kind. Strawberries are always in season when decorating pretty presents.

Thank you to Little Birdie Blessings for the beautiful vintage strawberry graphics which were used for this project. You would love a visit to her site for the lovely images she shares along with sweet and encouraging words to match them. For more strawberry inspiration, visit: A Crate of StrawberriesStrawberry Labels for All Your Preserving Projects and Strawberries ~ A Relaxed Summer Style Unit Study.

Simply follow the link HERE for your strawberry gift kit! 

All the fine print. This post may be shared with some or all of the following link-ups: The Art of Home-Making MondaysModest Mom Monday'sMonday's MusingsMake Your Home Sing MondayGood Morning Mondays,  The ScoopTitus 2 TuesdaysTuesdays with a TwistRaising HomemakersWise Woman Link UpHomestead Blog Hop Wow Us Wednesdays,  Coffee and ConversationHomemaking ThursdaysHome Sweet HomeOur Simple HomesteadFrom the Farm Blog HopFront Porch Friday Blog HopAwesome Life Friday Link UpFive Star Frou Frou FridayShabbilicious FridaySimply Natural Saturdays and Clever Chicks Blog Hop. Thank you lovely ladies for hosting these. This post may contain affiliate links (which are merchant links that help to support this site at no additional cost to you if you purchase an item from them).