Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Vinegars & Oils {Budget, Health & Storage} ~ Pantry Talk & Printable

Solomon once wrote that with much knowledge comes much sorrow. I have found this to be particularly true when it comes to health. Every day we learn of something new that is bad for us and something new that our bodies just can't live without! This is all fine and good when your budget is massive, but what to do when you are trying to feed your family nutritiously on little money and lots of love? As oils and vinegars are a big part of our budget (and health), I thought to share my take on this pantry subject. I am by no means saying this is the way to go, I am merely sharing how we balance it. 

Going back to the Bible, we see the use of olive oil in many ways. I still believe this to be the most healthiest of oils! First of all, there is no such thing (yet) as a GMO olive and secondly, it is rich in the healthy fats the body needs. The most beneficial is the extra-virgin, cold-pressed oil.  However, this is a very pricey oil and we use this only for raw purposes such as salad dressings, coleslaws, pasta salads, drizzling, etc. Extra-Virgin olive oil is not meant for frying and you are actually damaging the oil when you heat it.  Using this oil only on our raw foods helps to stretch it while still allowing us to nourish our family with its numerous health benefits.

Unfortunately, olive oil goes rancid rather quickly (at 6 - 12 months depending on the harvest date on bottle) so we maintain a smaller inventory of it in our pantry. Store away from direct sunlight, in a cool area and immediately replace the cap each time you use it to ensure freshness.

Extra-virgin, cold-pressed, unrefined coconut oil is the latest and the greatest oil on the market right now. It boasts so many benefits and a simple Google search can give you all the scientific wonders. However, this oil too is very costly! While we do purchase a fair amount of coconut oil, we restrict its use for making healthier dessert options like cup of golds, peppermint patties, dark chocolate peanut butter cups, raw snack bars, etc. There are many delicious things you can make exclusively with this oil because of its hardening properties and flavor and we attempt to utilize it specifically in these areas. Unfortunately, we can not afford to cook our daily meals with coconut oil though it is excellent for this purpose should your budget allow it.

The shelf life of unrefined coconut oil is about 2 years (some claim even longer) if properly stored away from direct sunlight in a cool location.

Now, what to do for all that daily cooking and baking when you are on a budget? This is a tough one ladies. When butter is an option, we use it. Regarding oils, I choose the more affordable ones such as grapeseed, light olive, and high oleic sunflower oils.  These we use in making breads, pizzas, muffins, etc and for frying up tacos, stir fries and such. Though these may not be the "perfect" choice, sometimes we homemakers must be practical with our limited pocketbook resources.

These oils should keep for 1-2 years (unopened) in a cool, dark place.

Note: We purposely stay clear of the basic "vegetable oil", canola oil, soybean oils and margarine.

When it comes to vinegar, please know you can stock up to your heart's content! It does not expire. It is an excellent preparedness food since you can always clean with it, pickle with it, can with it, make medicinal tinctures and oxymels with it, and so much more if times got tough! This is one ingredient I make sure we are always well stocked in and it is so affordable that there is no reason not to.

We typically use the balsamic vinegar for salads and the red wine vinegar for vegetable marinades. Raw apple cider vinegar is excellent for your health and can be used in medicinal tinctures and oxymels (as mentioned earlier).  Along with housecleaning, the basic white vinegar can be used to make frugal salad dressing and is always a back up for any of the aforementioned items.

Shelf life of vinegar: Indefinite.

To make it more affordable for our pantry, we purchase large containers of these items and decant them into smaller, recycled glass bottles. For convenience, I like to add bottle pourers (see pantry photos below) to each bottle and print up labels to identify them. This also makes them more attractive for setting upon the table as condiments. And if I might add, it simply makes me smile when I peak into my pantry and find them there!

We are sharing the labels we prepared in case you are interested (just press the download button HERE and "save" and "print"). These are courtesy of World Label and created by Cathe Holden. You will find printable sticker paper on their website as well should you like (though I just used a glue stick to apply ours). Note: I am not affiliated with World Label but am passing on the credit due.

A peak inside our pantry.

With this system, our family can afford to have the health benefits of the extra-virgin, cold-pressed olive and coconut oils without breaking the bank. To use these quality items in recipes which are actually being cooked, you are killing a lot of the beneficial properties which you are paying for in the first place (defeating the purpose and the price in my way of thinking). This is how we attempt to balance frugality with health. I do understand that you can invest in your health by paying a bit extra on food, however, some of us simply are not able to make that kind of investment no matter how prudent it may be (especially if one is attempting to live debt free, you either have the cash to make a purchase or you do not).

With that being said, what are your thoughts on all of this? Are you surprised someone would take the time to talk on this subject? For some reason, I was highly interested in this topic.  I know there are a lot of knowledgeable health experts and I would to hear your opinion on this. Also, I know there are a lot of frugal minded women and I would love to hear your thoughts. And if you are both, please do share as well!
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 Scoop, Tuesdays with a TwistRaising HomemakersThe Homesteader HopWise Woman Link UpHomestead Blog Hop Wow Us Wednesdays,  Coffee and ConversationHomemaking ThursdaysHome Sweet HomeOur Simple HomesteadAwesome Life Friday Link UpFive Star Frou Frou Friday, and Shabbilicious Friday. 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 through them).

Thursday, September 24, 2015

10+ Herbal Cold & Flu Remedies to Make for Your Fall/Winter Pantry

"Bless your heart, child, it's to keep you well. You don't want to be sick, do you?"... Change of air and care will keep you well, I dare say, or if it does not entirely, you will have the fever more lightly..."
~ Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

Time to stock your fall/winter pantry with herbal remedies and preventative foods! Including your children will not only ensure that you share quality and productive time together, but it will also encourage interest in the arts of natural healing. Some of these recipes should be started now as they require time to "infuse". I will put a note next to those items. The remaining projects can be prepared with you and your junior herbalists in as little as 30 minutes! What a blessing it will be to have a nice array of herbal goods come cold and flu season! 

Elderberry Infused Herbal Honey

{requires 2 weeks to infuse}

Elderberry Oxymel

{needs 2-4 weeks to infuse}

Elderberry Throat Spray

{requires tincture recipe below}

Elderberry Tincture

{needs 1 month to macerate}

Elderberry Scrap Syrup

{make this thrifty syrup with your leftover, recycled elderberries from the other recipes}

And remember, when it comes to herbal remedies, more frequent doses are necessary. Unlike over-the-counter medicine which seems to give relief in one pill (though it is only a "bandaid" of the symptoms), the natural route requires constant nurturing to gently heal and strengthen the immune system. I often implement many of these remedies at one time for good results. I will take the tinctures and/or oxymel every few hours, apply the rub liberally around the neck and chest, drink lots of herbal tea with herbal honey and spray down the rooms to sanitize the air, doorknobs and faucets. We also run our diffuser with appropriate essential oils, administer the colloidal silver spray when necessary, take lots of vitamin C and rest, rest, rest. Do you have any tips to share?
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 HomemakersThe Homesteader HopWise Woman Link UpHomestead Blog Hop Wow Us Wednesdays,  Coffee and ConversationHomemaking ThursdaysHome Sweet HomeOur Simple HomesteadAwesome Life Friday Link UpFive Star Frou Frou Friday, and Shabbilicious Friday. 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 through them).

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Country Crafts Book ~ Kitchen Pantry Decoration Style

“I am simply a 'book drunkard.' Books have the same irresistible temptation for me that liquor has for its devotee. I cannot withstand them.” 

Sometimes, we homemakers need some inspiration... Books can be such a blessing in this area! This particular title, Country Crafts by Stepahnie Donaldson, has inspired me to see the seasons like our foremothers would. To create pantry inventory, medicinal recipes, bath and body products and home decoration projects based on what is available and growing in the spring, summer, autumn and winter months.

The author shares a bit of homemaking history and encourages a simpler way of life. The photography is absolutely beautiful and inspiring in itself! This edition is hardcover and is printed on quality paper.

"A treasury of recipes and ideas with timeless appeal, inspired by seasonal food and flowers: over 70 delectable recipes for stocking the pantry and 40 crafty projects for home-made decorations and gifts with a seasonal feel, all shown in glorious step-by-step pictures by award-winning photographer Michelle Garrett."
~ Excerpt from Amazon

The Table of Contents include the following chapters:

The Pantry
The Bathroom
The Still Room
Seasonal Celebrations
Seasonal Checklists

If you are anything like me, you can see what a delightful read this is! I will say, however, that I do not condone every single "thought" in the book. Certain holidays don't comply to biblical thinking nor do a few of the recipes for certain beverages (in my way of thinking). However, the overall book will excite you to love your home and enjoy daily aspects of homemaking. The author also has a lovely way with words.

I am excited to give one copy away to one of you! I would like to open this giveaway to any one of our readers from around the globe. I have lived out of the country and know what a blessing it is to have a package mailed to you from a far away land! Giveaway closed.

Simply enter via the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the easy instructions. The questions (you will find them if you click on the "leave a blog post comment" section in the widget) are designed to give me an idea of what interests you, dear reader :) You have an opportunity for seven entries per person and one week to enter.  Happy homemaking!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Random Thoughts {And a Thank You} on My Return Home

“Every traveler has a home of his own,
and he learns to appreciate it the more from his wandering.” 
~ Charles Dickens

Though I enjoyed my trip to visit far away family and friends (my homeland, dear reader!), I am happy to be homemaking once again! During the last month, I was beginning to feel like a bird without a nest and that God-given instinct to keep home was feeling quite quenched!

The first few days back I found myself washing curtains, hanging them on the line and replacing bedding with the new colors and needs of the season. Our pantry was sorely in need of maintenance and lists were made of items that needed restocking. Cleaning products were quickly created from essential oils, medicinal tinctures were prepared and our storeroom pantry is ready to service our family once again. I hope to do a little tour of our pantry soon also.

A dear reader (and may I say friend?) sent these beautiful bits of goodies to me this summer (shown in these pictures). I had to photograph them for her as a special "thank you". The package smelled of lavender and was packed with lovelies to craft with, sew with, play with and gift-give with! Thank you Angela for all the love you placed in that "old fashioned letter"! 

I would also like to thank everyone for the kind comments that were left when I was away! Next week, I plan to do a little giveaway as a "back to blogging" celebration. It will be of a book that I really love and look to for homemaking inspiration and projects! I hope to have you all join in :)

"And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee."
~ Psalm 39:7

On a sad note, the latest scandal in the papers (and over the last few years) with men who professed to follow God has been weighing heavily upon me. With each ugly event, you wonder, who can be trusted? Like the law shows us our need for grace and a Saviour, so these broken people shout out to me that there is none perfect but our Lord. He is the only one worthy to put our complete adoration, trust and hope in (and not in the latest author, Christian celebrity, or homeschooling and church leadership).

"But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved."
~ Matthew 24:13

Perhaps this is why I quote the dearly departed more often than the living as they have finished the race, fought the fight and endured unto the end. We can not become complacent dear readers! This earthly life is an ongoing battle and we must stay strong and on guard as keepers of the home.

"After all, the mistress of the home determines the general atmosphere under her roof; her emotional state sets the standard and the tone."
~ Elizabeth George, Beautiful in God's Eyes

With this in mind, however, my focus will not be in the latest scandal or the ugly news, but in the environment I can control, my little cottage. We women can determine the thermostat in our own worlds. We can frost it with love or focus on the cold and negative. My desire is to set the tone of warmth with security, coziness, kisses and lots of homemade goodness! What about you?

Thursday, September 3, 2015

{No Sew} Lavender Drawer Sachets DIY ~ Free Printable

"The snowy quilt and pillows, the carefully kept floor and chairs, the clothing washed and laid with sprigs of lavender in the tidy drawers—oh, what poetry and eloquence of untiring, undespairing mother-love..."
~ Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr, A Singer from the Sea

Though simple, there is something so sweet about a drawer sachet! It takes one back in time to a world where the little things in life did matter, mattered enough to spend your time on. The lovely part about these paper sachets is that you can have the final product in only a few, fun, homemaking moments.

There are a three ways you can make these. You could use only essential oils, you could use some dried lavender, or you could do both! I chose the latter for the strongest scent combination.
  • If using the cotton, add a few drops of essential oil and insert inside the paper sachets (our "inspirational" printable is shared below).  I also added a few drops of oil onto my sachet paper and infused it in a plastic bag for a few days. The oil does absorb and doesn't stain the paper provided you use a quality brand.
  • If using lavender flowers, add a tablespoon or so of dried lavender to your paper packet. Depending on your flowers, the aroma may not be that strong. If this is the case, add in some essential oil drops.
Note: For longer lasting results, brush over areas containing essential oil with orris root powder (it acts as a fixative). Then, shake off residual powder and it is ready to use! Or mix some powder in with the lavender buds and pour inside your sachet.

Use a glue stick to assemble your paper sachet.  Once dried, simply add in your chosen lavender elements (i.e., the lavender oil/cotton combo or the lavender flowers).

To freshen up the aroma of your sachets after time has faded their scent, simply give them a squeeze and add a few more drops of oil directly to the packet and place back inside your drawers.

These make lovely (and inexpensive) gifts when bundled in pairs or fours and tied together with ribbons or pretty twine.

I have also enjoyed tucking a few into old fashioned letters as they are the perfect size to slide into an envelope. Wouldn't that cheer a loved one?

You may also want to create a handmade lavender gift basket by preparing some of the lavender items found here. What other ideas do you have for these sachets?

The images of lavender is courtesy of The Graphics Fairy. To access our printable sachet packets, simply click this link HERE. Then, download and print the PDF file for FREE. I also invite you to subscribe to this blog (located on the sidebar) to get updates and access to future homemaking printables. Have a lovely week!