Tuesday, February 23, 2016

How to Make Your Old and Ugly Potholders Nice and New Again

Once upon a time, my potholders were nice and new and durable. Fast forward many years and they are no longer new. In fact, they are nowhere near nice (to be honest, they are quite gross looking). But, they are still very durable! What is a frugal and practical woman to do? She can not discard something with a good shelf life and yet the feminine side does like to see pretty! This is where our "born again" potholders come in. A renewal is a good thing, isn't it?

This would also make a nice project if you simply want to change the color scheme of your kitchen (goodbye blue and white friend from 15 years ago) or if someone accidentally bleaches your "prized possession" potholders which were of such good quality (sigh).

What you will need are your existing potholders (I told you they were disheartening), some fabric scraps and the ability to sew a straight line. That is all! If you can sew a square sachet, you can do this project! In essence, you are simply fashioning little slipcovers for your old and pathetic looking ones. 

I used scraps of the thicker home decor fabrics that my mother-in-law gave me for our potholders. You can even consider refurbishing them with cast off linens like random napkins, tea towels, etc.

To refresh your supply:

1. Measure your old potholders and create a pattern. When making the pattern, give yourself an extra inch around to allow for a seam allowance. If your potholder has a different shape, trace it on paper and add the extra inch around when preparing the pattern.

2. Cut out your pattern. I did four pieces at once for a set of potholders to make it easier and quicker.

3. Sew your two pieces of fabric together around the whole perimeter but leave one half of one side open (this is where you will insert the old potholder inside). Make sure the right sides are facing each other, using an approx. 1/4" seam allowance when you sew.

4. Turn the potholder cover inside out and you will be left with a nice pocket to insert your old potholder.

5. Sew new matching tabs onto the corner of your old potholder (make sure to clip off the old tabs so they don't interfere). Ribbon can be used to make it easy or you can create a strip with the fabric of your choice.

6. Insert your old potholder into the slipcover (making sure that the new tab is now peaking out) and carefully pin close the remaining seam.

7. Hand sew the final seam closed. I am sure there are tricks to make the seam look invisible but I am a basic seamstress (if you can even call me that!) so I just placed a few even stitches in there to finish off the potholder.

8. To keep the original potholder in place inside the slipcover, I stitched an "x" in the middle (through all the layers). You may even want to do all four corners with an "x" to keep it in place during your routine washing.

9. You are finished! Now you have some nice and new potholders for pennies!

Why bother?

The average price for a new set of potholders is $14 and these are for a very basic looking, no-frills model. That is $7 per item plus tax! We have refurbished six so far which means a savings of at least $42 plus we have an attractive set to make homemaking more enjoyable! We intend on redoing four others which will give us a grand total of approx. $70 worth of savings. And this only took up one hour in an afternoon.

Also, I have found that to buy a potholder inexpensively at a dollar store (for example) can sometimes be quite dangerous! A friend of mine burnt her hand using a brand new one because the padding was sorely lacking. Frugality mustn't be compared to "cheap". There is a difference, especially when choosing important and functional kitchen tools. This is a thrifty project but by no means a compromising one!

"The ordinary arts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest."
~ Thomas Moore

The beautiful thing about a homemaker is her constant creativity. One who realizes that her calling is important attempts to flourish in all departments. She sees a need and not only desires to fill it, but to bring beauty to her home at the same time. Pretty and practical, she makes a difference to the family budget with her resourcefulness and creates a cozy environment with her homemaking prowess. And to the striving Proverbs 31 woman, it is a very satisfying place to be!

"Before" and Happily Ever "After"...

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Oatmeal Muffin Mix-in-a-Jar ~ Free Printable Recipe Kit

'"How fast Duchess is eating!" thought Ribby to herself,
as she buttered her fifth muffin."

Welcome to our Saturday morning staple, hot coffee and warm muffins! These golden treats are quite addictive, especially when you know there isn't an ounce of white flour or sugar in them (since you know they are healthy, you may find yourself eating more ~ ahem). They are sweetened with honey and taste deliciously moist!

This is such a low maintenance breakfast, especially when you prepare a batch as pre-made pantry mixes. This is quickly made while you have out all the ingredients! It is especially simple with our recipe kit which includes the directions, jar labels and instruction labels. I like to prepare 6 jars at a time but larger families may want to make a dozen of them. What is also nice is that if time is really critical, you can just dump the batter into an 8 by 8 pan for less labor. 

To Make the Mix ~

Place inside a quart-sized jar the following ingredients:

• 3 c. oatmeal

• 2 tsp. baking powder

• 1 tsp. sea salt

• 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Place lid firmly back on jar and give it a good shake for a final blend. The mix is now complete. Simply label and attach directions to the oatmeal mix (our short cut direction labels are found on the printable). 

To Prepare the Muffins and/or Baked Oatmeal Dish ~

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mix together in a medium mixing bowl:
  •  ½ c. oil (we like to use sunflower oil or coconut oil)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ½ c. honey 
  • 1 c. milk 
  • oatmeal muffin mix
Stir ingredients together until combined.

~~ Divide mixture into 12 lined/greased muffin cups and bake for 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden around sides.


~~ If in a hurry, pour mixture into greased 8 by 8 dish and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes until golden brown and set.

The nice thing about making your own mixes is that you can control the quality of ingredients. Instead of iodized table salt, we were able to use the healthy Himalayan pink salt. Instead of baking powder laden with cancer causing aluminum, we can choose the "clean" version. Instead of sugar in the recipe, we are able to use honey this time. It is a win-win and a wonderful way to stock your pantry!

My husband loves to take them out on the tractor with him as they keep him feeling full and satisfied in the early morning. Delicious and nutritious! HERE is our printable recipe kit that you may want to add to your recipe book. Happy pantry building, ladies! P.S. Please do let me know if any of you download this kit, I am curious how many enjoy these types of pantry projects! :)

"She also rises while it is yet night,
And provides food for her household..."
~ Proverb 31:15

You may also be interested in:

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,  Coffee and ConversationHomemaking ThursdaysHome Sweet HomeOur Simple HomesteadFrom the Farm Blog HopFront Porch Friday Blog HopAwesome Life Friday Link UpFive Star Frou Frou FridaySimply Natural Saturdays and Clever Chicks Blog Hop. Thank you lovely ladies for hosting these.

Friday, February 12, 2016

On Matters of Marriage

"Life is the flower for which love is the honey."
~ Victor Hugo

Love is in the air... The regal red hue is waving its banner, there is a sprinkling of hearts wherever one looks, there are mounds of exotic chocolate recipes waiting to be made and the crowning glory, an abundance of romantic roses. Basically, many ideas to bless a union. May I add my own sentiments on the matters of marriage?

{Or, the blessings of the long-haul love.}

{Or, setting the mood.}

{Or, please don't take your husband for granted.}

{Or, a bit about discretion in marriage.}

And finally, for a bit of fun, you may be interested in learning "How to Preserve a Husband" as well as a list of our favorite Period Movies for the Romantic Hearted and Sentimental Soul

"Love is energy of life."
~ Robert Browning

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Lemon Honey Marmalade ~ A Homemaker's Musings

She stares intently at the four, large bags of free lemons. Ten years ago, they would have sat on her counter until they rotted (because at that point, she wouldn't feel as guilty throwing them away). Times have changed for her. She sees those gifted lemons as an opportunity. They can be used in different ways to bless her household. She loves the challenge. If she plans strategically, she will have less to purchase throughout the year. She is a home-economist, once upon a time...

She remembers making her last batch of lemon marmalade. The amount of sugar it required got her to thinking… Could she create a tasty preserve using honey instead? It was time to do some research and convert a recipe. She can be a scientist sometimes.

"...eat thou honey, because it is good…" ~ Proverbs 24:13a

She looks out the window. Little pug turns in a circle, trying to catch her tail. The lavender flower is the only burst of color on this chilly, winter day. As she carefully slices the zest, she marvels that she has the privilege to remain home and manage her own little kingdom! She feels like a queen sometimes.

She read in a diary entry that her favorite authoress (Elizabeth Prentiss) enjoyed marmalade. This made the whole idea of preparing it much more charming to her. She has a nostalgic heart. She can be so romantic sometimes.

"We spent yesterday at Hager brook with Mrs. Humphrey and her daughters; papa drove us over in the straw wagon and came for us about 6 P.M. We had lobster salad and marmalade, bread and butter and cake, and we roasted potatoes and corn, and the H.'s had a pie and things of that sort. When they saw the salad they set up such shouts of joy that papa came to see what was the matter. We had a nice time."

She removes the seeds and places them into a square piece of cheesecloth (or spice bag). Though bitter, any excess pith should be placed here as well. She learned that they are both high in pectin and will naturally thicken her marmalade. She is part chemist sometimes.

The house is filled with a wonderful, lemon scent. She had once read that the aromatherapy in citrus stimulates the brain and enhances moods. She loves to learn! She remembers a favorite quote. She is a student much of the time. 

“I enjoy doing housework, ironing, washing, cooking, dishwashing. Whenever I get one of those questionaires and they ask what is your profession, I always put down housewife. It's an admirable profession, why apologize for it. You aren't stupid because you're a housewife. When you're stirring the jam you can read Shakespeare.”

As she tests the marmalade, she considers her depression-era ancestors. Thank God that they were still knowledgable in the homemaking skills when those hard times came. It enabled them to grow their own food and preserve it by using the arts of drying, fermenting, freezing and canning that their mothers had taught them. They were resourceful, hard working and intelligent. She desires to be like these Proverbs 31 women all of the time.

What a lovely accomplishment. She thinks it would be tasty inside a hot cup of tea. It will also be excellent in the summer to flavor a pitcher of iced tea. Some love marmalade with clotted cream and scones. She can be like a gourmet chef when given some time.

She remembers her creation of lemon labels from her last venture. They would also make nice gift tags if printed on card-stock and attached with twine. She smiles shyly, because in her own little way, she feels like an artist (some of the time).

As the day comes to an end, she is wondering who could use a bit of sunshine? She has captured some in a jar. She bundles up her marmalade in a "hat" and "scarf" because tomorrow, she will go visiting. She is a cheerful nurse oftentimes.

The wonderful part about homemaking is that she can express her creativity in a multitude of ways. It can be nurtured in something as simple as a gifted bag of lemons! She has already discovered many basic household uses for lemonshow to dry lemon peel and its many uses, how to make homemade lemon extract and a simple honey lemon cough syrup. She would also like to share her "lemon honey marmalade" recipe with you. She hopes she is an encouraging friend a lot of the time.

She is tired but feels great satisfaction. She knows the cost of running her household decreases daily because of her industry (she knows she contributes to the income in this way) and she is pleased that she has increased their pantry inventory. She loves the variety in the role that God has given especially to her. She is many interesting things because she is a "keeper at home" all of the time…

"She looketh well to the ways of her household,
and eateth not the bread of idleness."

Friday, February 5, 2016

40 Journal Entry Ideas for Nature Study Notebooks ~ Free Printable

"There are two books laid before us to study, to prevent our falling into error. First, the volume of the Scriptures, which reveal the will of God; then the volume of creation, which expresses His power."
~ Frances Bacon (1561-1626)

If you haven't tried doing nature study journals because you weren't sure on where to start and how to do them, I wanted to share 40 journal entry ideas with you. There really are no rules to a nature study and yet your children will learn so much from just a little observation and a few moments of time!

What is neat about nature study is that it also encompasses many of the school subjects during one sitting! If you spent an entire day outside with God's creation, you need not have the "homeschooling-mother-blues" (though 20 minutes a day is quite beneficial)! You have art covered as your children sketch and/or color in their entries. You have covered science and nature as they observe God's creation and learn more about the plant or animal life they come across. You have included language arts as you do copy work of nature inspired poetry or favorite quotes from nature books.  You can spend time with the Scriptures when you include Bible verses pertaining to the objects of nature you are studying. And if you have taken a vigorous nature walk, you have included physical education into your nature study time as well! I think you can see how nature study is more than nature. It is a lifestyle of learning through various subjects that the Almighty has prepared for us to enjoy and learn from (remember "Go to the Ant"?)!

You needn't be outside to do a nature study (though you should definitely make time to do so when convenient). Rainy days, chilly days and the hottest of days could still provide nature study time! There are always indoor plants to draw, identify and learn about, the occasional insect and/or spider you may find indoors to study, you can grow your own butterfly kits, maintain ant farms, study any indoor pets you may have, sketch still life such as pinecones and leafs, read books on nature that can be studied and used for copying drawings and recording information. The possibilities are endless.

And in the end, as your children begin to observe nature, our prayer is that they will be intrigued by the One who created it, the Master Artist. "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse..." (Romans 1:20).

You can view and/or print our 40 Journal Entry Ideas for a Nature Study HERE. Should you like further ideas on how to conduct a nature study, visit HERE. To view a sample of our nature notebook pages, visit HERE.


For books to inspire mother in the art of nature study, I recommend a Pocketful of Pinecones by Karen Andreola (written in a sweet novel form that gently teaches), Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Comstock (an old fashioned thick volume of interesting nature information and concepts), the Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady by Edith Holden (a romantic look at the natural world) and Nature Study the Easy Way (a casual conversational how-to-guide) by Cindy Rushton. For it is often that the teacher's love must first be ignited in order to pass the flame down to the student!

"With nature study in this easy way, there is a completely different focus. There is no undue focus on facts, trivia, and a sampling of information to learn off for a test. Rather, the focus is on recognition of nature ALL throughout the year and in every season, learning the life cycles of plants and animals informally as they go along, and growing in appreciation and attentiveness to the tiny details of God's creation! Amazingly, the children come to KNOW and UNDERSTAND God's Creation!"
~ Cindy Rushton, A Charlotte Mason Primer