Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Year of Themed Gift Basket Ideas ~ Gifts for All Seasons April May June October November December

comprised of:

lemon extract

lemon marmalade

lemon body scrub

lemon infused cleaning products


~ red inspired raggedy ann and andy set ~

comprised of:



~ Peter Rabbit Collection ~


~ Laundry Basket Collection ~


~ Roses ~

Roses bookmarks

rose bath salts

rose bath powders

comprised of:

lavender lotion bars

lavender bath salts

lavender infused medicinal oil

lavender potted plant {made from existing plant}

{no-sew} lavender drawer sachets

lavender  infused cleaning products


~ Autumn Hostess Gift Collection ~

~ Apples ~ 


~ warm and cozy mulling spice collection ~

comprised of:

mulling spice room spray

mulling spices and/or simmering potpourri

mulling spice body scrub


~ orange inspired gift basket ~ 

comprised of:

honeybee balm, honeys, etc. basket

tea basket

baby gift basket

baby product basket

jan ~ lemon gift basket

feb ~ raggedy ann

march ~ gardening with peter rabbit

april ~ laundry basket collection

may ~ roses

june ~ twiggy winkle

july ~ lavender


september ~ medicine making collection

october ~ autumn inspired collection harvest (pumpkins, cornbread)

november  ` mulling spice collection

december ` oranges

Autumn Inspired Gift Tags & Make Your Own Hostess Gift Ideas

"Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love — that makes life and nature harmonize. The birds are consulting about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground, that one’s very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air, while they give us a scent that is a pefect anodyne to the restless spirit. Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns."
~ George Eliot

Oh autumn, you inspire dreaminess... But you also inspire hospitality with all your warm and cozy charm! We have a desire to sit around the fire with something hot in the hands to sooth the chill while we embrace conversation and simply enjoy the precious act of fellowship. While it is wonderful to be invited into a home, it is even more enjoyable to prepare a little gift of appreciation and love for the hostess. This is something my mother had always done and I have tried to keep her lovely tradition. Here is a list of practical (but pretty) hostess gift ideas that can be made from what you have at home which have that fantastic "fall" feeling.  We are also sharing some autumn inspired gift tags to give them with.

Cornbread Mix-in-a-Jar

(Gluten-free flour can be replaced in this recipe if need be and who doesn't like cornbread?

Printable recipe and label kit is included.)

(Paint a thrift store frame to match the recipient's house as an inspirational gift.)

"Give Thanks" Vintage Bookmark Set

(These are a nice small size for mailing out to a loved one or someone in need of cheering up.)


(A simple ribbon around a recycled jar and you have a wonderful and useful gift!)

Mulling Spices and/or Simmering Potpourri

(These can be packed in small jars or decorated cellophane bags.)

mulling spice sugar scrub

Mulling Spice Room Spray

(You can prepare all three mulling spice recipes for an extra fancy gift.)

Pumpkin Seed Packets

(You can use these for roasted pumpkin seed snacks or actual seeds to plant.

Bundle them up with ribbon or twine for extra effect.)

Apple Cider Scrap Vinegar

(This will take some time to ferment but would make a lovely gift when bottled up and labeled.)

Apple Cinnamon Syrup 

(This recipe is made frugally with the peels and cores leftover from all your apple projects!)

Orange Extract

(Attach a favorite recipe to use the orange extract with for extra fun!

An orange extract vintage label, gift tag and recipe card printable are also included.

Start this gift now as this will take at least a month to infuse.)

Orange Peel Potpourri

(This can be given in a cellophane bag with ribbon, inside a decorative mason jar or thrift store bowl.)

(Present this in a decorated mason jar or recycled tin with ribbon.)

(Present this in a recycled jar or make your own apothecary style jar.)

(Prepare a bath set by giving both of the orange body product recipes we shared.)

Citrus Infused Cleaning Product Set

(This set would be darling inside an old pail and wrapped in cellophane.)

A basket of homemade herbal remedies would also make a welcoming gift for fall and winter.  And of course, a jar of home-canned anything with a bit of decorative charm is always appreciated!  Dig up some fabric scraps and ribbon and enjoy creating a homemade gift from the heart! For some beautiful and frugal gift wrapping ideas, you will want to visit The Bluebirds are Nesting.

Some of the autumn clip art is courtesy of Little Birdie Blessings, The Graphics Fairy and Reading Roses and Prose. To access our autumn labels, simply download from HERE. We printed ours on white card-stock, hole punched them and added some ribbon. What will you give with yours?

"... and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said,
It is more blessed to give than to receive."
~ Acts 20:35

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).

Friday, October 23, 2015

Theodore Roosevelt's Tough but True Child Raising Advice

"Into the woman’s keeping is committed the destiny of the generations to come after us. In bringing up your children you mothers must remember that while it is essential to be loving and tender it is no less essential to be wise and firm. Foolishness and affection must not be treated as interchangeable terms; and besides training your sons and daughters in the softer and milder virtues, you must seek to give them those stern and hardy qualities which in after life they will surely need. Some children will go wrong in spite of the best training; and some will go right even when their surroundings are most unfortunate; nevertheless an immense amount depends upon the family training. If you mothers through weakness bring up your sons to be selfish and to think only of themselves, you will be responsible for much sadness among the women who are to be their wives in the future. If you let your daughters grow up idle, perhaps under the mistaken impression that as you yourselves have had to work hard they shall know only enjoyment, you are preparing them to be useless to others and burdens to themselves. Teach boys and girls alike that they are not to look forward to lives spent in avoiding difficulties, but to lives spent in overcoming difficulties. Teach them that work, for themselves and also for others, is not a curse but a blessing; seek to make them happy, to make them enjoy life, but seek also to make them face life with the steadfast resolution to wrest success from labor and adversity, and to do their whole duty before God and to man. Surely she who can thus train her sons and her daughters is thrice fortunate among women."
~ Theodore Roosevelt, On American Motherhood, 1905

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Examining the Linen Closet or "Bed Linen" ~ Odds and Ends Series

"Fourth. Examine the trunk or closet of family linen,
and see what needs to be repaired and renewed."
~ Catharine Beecher & Harriet Stowe, The New Housekeeper's Manual, 1873

Welcome to the sixth installment of our monthly home maintenance series where we are continuing to follow some old fashioned, Victorian Era advice. This step involved examining the linen closet. Our last post discussed the "table linens" and today we will be looking at the "bed linens". We will also be offering some suggestions to make this area of your home pleasant while sharing a bit of nostalgic charm. 

"...listening respectfully to the little lecture, for the best of women will hold forth upon the all absorbing subject of house keeping. "Do you know I like this room most of all in my baby house," added Meg, a minute after, as they went upstairs and she looked into her well-stored linen closet. Beth was there, laying the snowy piles smoothly on the shelves and exulting over the goodly array."
~ Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

The term "linen closet" evokes a sense of romance to me. I think of what my dream one would be! A tall, white and distressed, French carved cabinet with glass doors and crystal knobs. You could see all the contents folded up lovingly through the clear panes. Floral sheets would be lined up inside featuring an array of pastel prints. And like a cottage garden, when you would open the armoir, the scent of lavender would fill the air!

"This little room is the one good housekeepers are especially fond of," she began. "Clean, white linen, polished and beautiful, is a joy to look at and handle, and every woman is proud if she has a quantity, all nicely kept. Let us begin with the shelves, taking them in order, and see what is on each."

The top one held blankets, each pair folded together smoothly and pinned up in a clean, strong piece of white cotton cloth, and labelled. The first label read, "Guest-room blankets," and when they were opened there lay a fresh, soft, fleecy pair, with a lovely border of pale pink, and edges of broad pink ribbon.

The next two or three bundles, you see, are clean, washed blankets, in pairs, laid away till they are needed. All blankets have to be put on the line in the sunshine frequently whether they are washed or not, or they may be eaten by moths...

"Here are a few clean comfortables next, on this second shelf, done up like the blankets. These have to be washed, too, and are more difficult to manage than blankets, because they are so heavy; they have to be aired often to keep them sweet, for the cotton holds odors easily. Then come the white spreads, the heavy Marseilles in one pile, the lighter ones in another, and the single ones and double ones kept separate.

"The sheets and pillow-cases are in these deep drawers. This top one has the double sheets and the best linen ones; notice how they lie in piles, each kind by itself... You must be sure when you have a washing to put away that you do not put the clean things on top of each pile, and then take them off again to use at once; put things on top and take them off the bottom of the pile, so they will all be used in turn."

~ A Little Housekeeping Book by Caroline French Benton, 1906

But alas, I have a confession to make. I do not have a linen closet, just a romantic dream of one. In fact, our old farmhouse doesn't have any such storage at all. My "linen closet" has been reduced to three plastic storage containers (which I must store above a shelf in the bedroom for lack of space while keeping our seasonal blankets in the attic). There is nothing pretty about them. My goal however, is to maintain them with love using my very best beautifying efforts. With this in mind, we affixed some labels which share the contents of each box; king, queen and twin. If you are interested in our "linen box" bedding labels, visit here for the free printable.

For the monthly maintenance of our "bed linens", we began by sorting through our bedding and examining them for any tears or holes that would require mending. Unfortunately, one such place was found.

Next, we aired out our larger blankets and comforters on the clothesline. The sun bleaches and sanitizes so very sweetly. This is a wonderful way to keep your bulky items fresher if they do not fit in your washer and/or you can not afford to take them to the cleaners for a routine washing. Fold them up neatly and stash them away until the weather calls them back into service.

We also re-arranged the sheets and our duvet covers into piles based on sizes (king, queen, twin). Then we placed the last season's bedding at the bottom and kept the new seasonal sheets on top.

For example, the earth tones and flannel sheets are for fall and winter while the soft cotton pastels claim summer and spring. 

For a romantic homemaking touch, my daughter and I sewed up little sachets filled with moth-repellent herbs (I will share details on this another day). The scent was lovely and gave us a glimpse of that linen closet vision. It is always best to make do and smile at the little things you can create, than to make no attempt at all!  

These were tucked in between the sheets with care. I am looking forward to the next bedding update to unleash the herbal aroma. An alternative to sewing sachets is to make up some quick versions with essential oils and fabric scraps (inspiration follows) or try these paper crafted versions.

"Essential oils can be left to infuse the clothes while they are in the drawer or closet. Put a drop on little pieces of natural material or cotton-wool balls and place them between the clothes... To keep moths away... use 2– 3 drops of one of the following oils. These are particularly useful when coats and woolens are stored away during the summer months:


"... then out came the four little work baskets,
and the needles flew as the girls made sheets for Aunt March."
~ Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

Homemaking Hints and History:

In the days of old, women were required to make up their own sheets. As the prices are extremely high in the bedding department, many of us may be considering this notion ourselves! However, you would be surprised at what one could find at thrift stores.

I was able to purchase the king-sized striped sheets (shown above) which are from Pottery Barn for only $2 at a Salvation Army Store. They are simple enough to blend with my floral bedding and the quality alone was certainly worth it. There was nothing wrong with them whatsoever and a wash in soapy, hot water with a splash of lemon essential oil (a wonderful disinfectant) wiped out all traces of its former life.

The floral blue bedding (shown below) is a queen-sized set of Ralph Lauren sheets which I found on another trip. These were purchased for $4. Though they are a bit faded, I think it adds to their cottage charm.

To fashion inexpensive duvet covers, sew two same-sized flat sheets (in coordinating fabrics) together. You can use the duvets to cover old and stained comforters and blankets that are no longer attractive and/or matching your decor. This is a very frugal way to update the look of your bedroom!

Thus this gentle reminder, second-hand stores are an excellent place to scour if you are trying to build up a nice collection of bed linens on a budget.

"That's a housewifely taste which I am glad to see. I had a young friend who set up housekeeping with six sheets..." said Mrs. March, patting the damask tablecloths, with a truly feminine appreciation of their fineness.
~ Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

How do you organize your linen closet? Do you have any tips or frugal ideas in this area that you would like to share with us? Do you have a "truly feminine appreciation of their fineness" like our dear Marmee? Remember, it is not the fancy new sheets that make the difference, but the clean bedding piled on a neatly made bed which creates cozy dreams and peaceful sleeping. Everything makes a difference when mother manages her home with heaps of fresh linen and lots of love.

"The sleep of a labouring man is sweet..."
~ Ecclesiastes 5:12

Here is what we have accomplished thus far in our "Odds and Ends" Monthly Home Maintenance Series (note that some steps were placed together and altered to make for modern day needs):

Are you ready to begin your monthly home maintenance?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Overcoming Hard Times with Grace ~ A Guest Post

In this economy, many of us are struggling. There is a confusion added to this, about standard of living. We see magazine covers at supermarkets of beautiful homes and elaborately prepared foods. We see television programs about rehabbing houses, and making them "livable" with the latest upgrades. This is like an upgrade in standards, and it costs far more money than most of us can manage.

It used to be that thrift stores and churches had decent clothes available for free, or for a meager cost. Many mothers used to talk about the missionary barrel. When times were hard, they would find clothes and remake them with what they had at home. They made lovely things with their own efforts, out of cast-offs. 

Mothers were able to create recipes based on what was left in the pantry, rather than what was for sale in the store. 

Home repairs and maintenance was done to survive, with scrounged supplies, or inexpensive parts to make-do, for those with little money.

I realize we need certain skills to create out of little, but we can certainly learn. 

Money used to mean something different than it does today. Money was for basic housing and basic needs, and an occasional treat, rather than for splurging and spending on what we want right now. [Or what we think we need in this confusing, consumerist, culture.]

We need a good does of the history of the family during hard times. We need to read about the depression-era mothers, the pilgrims, and the pioneers to find a way to overcome the culture of today, with dignity and grace.

Mrs. White

Overcoming Hard Times with Grace was originally shared on The Legacy of Home {here} and was reprinted with permission by Mrs. White, the authoress. Mrs. White is a Housewife of more than a quarter of a century. Granddaughter of a revival preacher. A Beloved Wife, Mother of five, and Grandmother of five. You will find her other encouraging writings at The Legacy of Home.

For more inspiration on frugal living, visit the following:

{and/or} Visit our Thrifty Thinking Section for Frugal DIY Projects, Recipes and Inspiration.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Foraging & Harvesting Rose Hips for Your Medicinal Pantry

"During World War II, rose hips were collected by British children and sold to pharmacists to be made into syrup... They contain vitamins A, C and K, plus the B vitamins thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin."
~ James Wong, Grow Your Own Drugs

I had always assumed that the only way to procure rose hips (besides purchasing) was to have access to wild roses. When I planted our rose vine, my intention was solely cosmetic. However, I have since learned that all fruit from the rose plants are edible and contain medicinal benefits. The key, is to not snip off the blossoms! Yes, that beloved practice called "deadheading" must come to an end as this is where the hips will develop. The rose hip, which is actually the "fruit" of the rose, are extremely rich in vitamin C (one of the richest sources in fact!). The perfect and providential thing, is that they are ripe and ready when the cold and flu season hits, making them an excellent preventative and tonic right when you need them!
Our Climbing Rose in the Summer

The beauty of the dog rose and other such wild varieties is that they are laden with fruit while my climbing rose produced a very small amount. Also, the flavors will vary. Some species will be quite tasty while some will require a bit of help from honey. Whatever the case, free medicinal fruit is free fruit and I happily picked my meager two cups.

The Remaining Rose Hips

You will find the rose hips ready between September and November. However, the best time to harvest is after the first frost (or late autumn if you don't get frost), when they are the sweetest. The fruit should be slightly soft and having a red or orange color. Just make sure that the rose hips you harvest are free of chemical sprays and pesticides. If you don't have access to rose hips, you can always purchase the dried herb.

The fruit can conveniently be frozen for the future. Simply wash the hips and place them in a freezer container or ziplock until you are ready to use them. 

I have also read that you can dry them by laying them on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper (once they are washed and patted dry) for a few weeks. They should come out looking wrinkly like our picture above.

Rose hips can be made into vitamin-C rich syrups, jams, jelly, herbal teas, cordials and tinctures. We will be sharing some recipes shortly as a part of our "Home Apothecary Series" and Building Up Your Pantry Series. We hope to have you share your recipes when we host our "rose hips link up" within the next month or so. In the meantime, happy foraging!

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 2sdaysTitus 2 TuesdaysRoses of InspirationTuesdays with a TwistRaising HomemakersWise Woman Link UpHomestead Blog Hop Wow Us Wednesdays, Wildcrafting WednesdayCoffee and ConversationHomemaking ThursdaysHome Sweet HomeOur Simple HomesteadFrom the Farm Blog HopFarmgirl FridayFront Porch Friday Blog HopAwesome Life Friday Link UpSimply Natural Saturdays and Clever Chicks Blog Hop. Thank you lovely ladies for hosting these.