Wednesday, September 16, 2020

August 2020 Newsletter


"But in this season it is well to reassert that the hope of mankind rest in faith. As man thinketh, so he is. Nothing much happens unless you believe in it, and believing there is hope for the world is a way to move toward it."
~ Gladys Taber

Greetings gentle reader! Here we are with another monthly newsletter in which I talk about books I have read, things I have watched, projects I have been working on and any other ponderings which really don't fit into its own post! It's pretty much some old-fashioned, homemaking chit-chat. The problem with making a monthly newsletter is that sometimes life is a blur and you can't remember all the details. That is the case with last month so you will have to forgive this vague attempt at reporting! I almost skipped this month but since I do have some pictures... perhaps they will tell the story. 


I can safely say my month was full of family dinners with family prayers, made with homegrown foods and other daily blessings of a simple life. It is hard to get used to the fact that our garden space is limited right now and there hasn't been an abundance to preserve. But we are enjoying everything we are growing and I suppose that is a blessing in itself.


I made at least three - 13x9 inch - casserole dishes of eggplant parmigiana featuring our humble harvest. That is one of my husband's favorite dishes so he was happy!

We continued  to enjoy the last of the tomatoes in these fresh, tasty and healthy caprese salads.


I also shared my favorite tuna salad recipe on Instagram but I will put it here as well (for those of you who are not on it). It is called "Mediterranean Tuna". You simply dice up some red bell peppers (ours are from the garden), snip in some green onions or chives (ours are from the herb garden) and add in a handful of sliced olives.

Mix in mayonnaise and seasoned salt with some freshly ground pepper and you have a tasty tuna salad. Serve with whole grain bread for sandwiches, dip with your favorite chips and crackers or lay atop a pile of fresh greens! Do you have a favorite tuna recipe?

I also have been preparing batches of spice mixes for our pantry by the pint. We go through the ranch and Italian dressings like water! What I love about these mixes is that they are healthier and don't contain all the extra additives and are very inexpensive to make. For the Italian dressing recipe, I substituted the sugar for Monkfruit sweetener and that works out well. I also use the Italian dressing mix as an herbal sprinkle on top of my salads if I use plain vinegar and oil (I put a small amount in a shaker). It would be tasty on top of pizza too!

For the ranch dip mix, I actually revised the recipe that I shared many years ago. I like this mixture better and will share the updated version soon! It is now our favorite and it doesn't contain the evil MSG! Plus it is pennies to make when compared to purchasing the Hidden Valley mix!

Note: When preparing your own spice mixes, I find buying the parsley, onion powder, garlic powder and black pepper in bulk to be very beneficial (I purchase ours at Costco).

I also continue to build up my pantry (these labels can be found here). Unfortunately, we are living in uncertain times and we see that sometimes (contrary to popular belief), the stores can not keep up with the demand during a crisis. I feel that as the keeper of my home, it is my duty to make sure we have the proper inventory of household supplies to get us through at least a six-month period. Just like a business needs to keep a certain amount of inventory to make it run efficiently, so must we in our home if we want things to run smoothly. I have been doing this for years but now I have seen the first-hand blessing of it! (See our preparedness series here and our pantry series here.)

In good times, basic flour, oatmeal, beans and rice are very affordable and those are the items I gravitate towards because of our budget. I am not putting us back financially to prepare (you can add one item for $5 a week which will get you suprisingly far!) and these particular food items last longer so there is no harm in storing them long term. During the "heat of the moment" a few months back, I wasn't running around looking for flour or other food items, we already had a solid supply of food. 

To give a small example of following these little homemaking instincts... during our last year of homeschooling, we read Hiroshima together. After finishing the book, I felt a great need to stock up on our first aid supplies (as that was the sought after element during that tragic time). I went to Walmart and purchased many bottles of alcohol, bandaids, peroxide, you name it! This was done during a time of plenty so I don't consider that hoarding but preparing. Well, as soon as the crisis hit us at the beginning of the year, my husband came home saying an elderly man he knew was panicking as he needed alcohol to clean some of his medical supplies and couldn't find any. It felt so good to be able to hand my husband a bottle knowing we had plenty to share and plenty for home use. These are the things I am thinking of as I continue to build my medicinal pantry, my first aid pantry, my toiletry pantry and my food storage. That investment into my first aid kit only set me back $20 as alcohol was cheap at that time ($1 per bottle) and little did I know what a sought-after item it would turn out to be a few months later!


On a lighter note, last month I enjoyed reading Mrs. Dunwoody's Excellent Instructions for Homekeeping - Timeless Wisdom and Practical Advice by Miriam Lukken. It is an older book and I don't think it is in publication anymore but I thoroughly enjoyed its old-fashioned wisdom and charm. I will share a quote that I appreciated from the book and will sprinkle more in future posts as there are quite a few gems in there!

"She often wrote and spoke of finding the sacred in the everyday. In one of her many letters to her daughters, she noted, "One has to be in the same place every day, watch the sun rise from the same house, hear the same birds awaken each morning, to realize how inexhaustibly rich and different is sameness." And later, "even the common articles made for daily use become endowed with beauty when they are loved. We must strive to see the goodness or usefulness in all things, taking nothing for granted. And we must approach every task as a blessing to be received, never as a chore." Those who knew her best describe a woman of elegance and effortless charm who dearly cherished her faith and was always attentive to the lives around her."
by Miriam Lukken


Also, I know many of you are planning for the new homeschool year! How I miss that and wanted to take a moment to share a link to our Charlotte Mason seriesFree Unit Studies and our index of general homeschooling posts in case you need some ideas! There are so many fun things you can do and learn with your children this year! How I have been reflecting back on all our memories and cherishing every single one. It does eventually end one day and you will be surprised at how much you end up missing it! 


As a reminder, our "In Love with Lavender" giveaway ends soon (within 24 hours) in case you haven't yet entered! It is a set of herbal goodness that I find useful and lovely in homemaking. I have to mention again that my favorite part about the giveaways is reading all the comments! It is so much fun to hear from you all!


And finally, what about you dear reader? What wholesome and lovely things have you been reading, watching and/or working on? As always, recommendations are much appreciated and hearing about your homemaking projects always inspires me! (As for myself, here are a few thrifted jars I have collected to add to my goal of creating an "old world" style pantry. It is another nerdy homemaking hobby of mine!) Until next time...


Verse of the Month:

"Prove all things;
hold fast that which is good.
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:21





32 comments:

  1. Great Jars! I have been canning so not much reading but am about half way through a Gladys Taber book. Will have to look for Mrs Dunwoody. Thank you for that recommendation. Have a blessed day friend 🍂🌻🍁

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    1. How I’m missing that right now! Enjoy 😉

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  2. Thank you for your newsletter and other posts. I always enjoy them. Where do you get spices for your mixes? Do you buy them in bulk?

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    1. Hi Wanita, thank you for saying that! I get some spices in bulk that I use often and lots of... it would be parsley, onion powder, garlic powder and black pepper. I am considering getting the oregano in bulk as I find I am using that up quicker with the Italian Dressing. I purchase the big bottles in Costco. The other spices I buy the normal amount. I hope this helps! I also use the Italian dressing mix as an herbal sprinkle on top of my salad if I do vinegar and oil (I put a small amount in a shaker). Maybe I should add that into the post... Thanks for sharing here today! 🍂🍂🍂

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  3. I am looking forward to your new Ranch recipe. My husband has been building narrow shelves to sit over the back of shelves with canning jars so that we can utilize the space for smaller jars like jelly. We are mostly finished putting things by in jars for the summer so we will be able to get everything rearranged for long term storage soon. I was thankful to be well stocked when shortages began as well. We were able to share TP with our neighbors who often help us with things that have become harder for us as senior citizens. I was thankful to be 26 year residents of our neighborhood and know everyone nearby because we knew that if we needed something or got in a tough situation we could rely on our neighbors

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    1. That is wonderful!!! And I love your new project! That is right up my ally! Will share the recipe soon - it's so easy, tasty and inexpensive! :)

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  4. I have read several books recently, I've been very much enjoying Janette Oke books, they tend to make my heart quite a bit lighter. I also read America's Homemaking Book and was able to glean quite a few tips from that. Our garden is slowly puttering along, we've got green tomatoes everywhere. I have a feeling I'll be canning up green tomatoes and making green tomato pie soon, there's a crispness in the air. We purchased a ton of spices from Atlantic Spice, shipping was free after $50. I've started a new sourdough starter, kind of a mix between an Amish Friendship Bread and regular, I find soaking and letting my grains ferment a tiny bit eases digestion. Now that it's cooler I'm baking regularly.

    Have a lovely week!

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    1. I really enjoy the Janette Oke's book for a relaxing and nourishing read too! They are so sweet and gentle! I may have to revisit mine soon! The bulk spices make so much sense when you cook from scratch don't you agree? And more canning... that sounds excellent! I really am missing my large garden right now! Thanks for sharing all your homemaking endeavors! Enjoy! :)

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  5. This is a really good reminder for me as my pantry is starting to get a little lower. :)

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    1. We’re here to encourage one another ❤️😘

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  6. Here are some links to Mrs. Dunwoody's book. I believe the Boston Public Library will "lend" you the ebook, also.

    https://www.abebooks.com/9780446530132/Mrs-Dunwoodys-Excellent-Instructions-Homekeeping-0446530131/plp


    https://www.thriftbooks.com/w/mrs-dunwoodys-excellent-instructions-for-homekeeping-timeless-wisdom-and-practical-advice_miriam-lukken/275659/#isbn=0446530131&idiq=7021685

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  7. Oh, I have Mrs.Dunwoody's book too! It's such a sweet collection of tips, humor, and a cheery look at days gone by. I'm happy I was able to order it several years ago since it is now hard to find.
    Thanks for the lovely post!
    Ashleigh C

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    1. You described it perfectly! Thanks for sharing here today ❤️

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  8. Oh thank you for sharing your recipes. I cannot wait to try them out....And looking forward to the ranch recipe as well.

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    1. Thanks I will be posting it soon! Happy homemaking ❤️😘

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  9. Also, check out Ebay for the book. I just purchased a copy for $5.50 with tax and free shipping! Thanks for the book info, JES!

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  10. I always make your own granola. I have tried a few recipes over the years but my husband has finally decided that one is the best, the real secret is lots of cinnamon. Now it is September I am starting to think more about Christmas and also we have lots of family and close friend birthdays during that season too so I start present making as there is nothing like a hand made gift to show you love someone. This week I finished a lap quilt for a friend, I hope she will use it when reading during winter nights. x

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    1. The lap quilt sounds lovely! Also, thank you for the granola tip ♥️ which is a great gift in itself... you can decorate the jar in so many cute ways and attach a vintage spoon if you want to get extra fancy!

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  11. I see that Mrs. Dunwoody is available from Amazon to purchase for Kindle....but it's the sort of book that one prefers to have a hardbound copy of,,,,
    Anyway, i do have a favorite "no-tuna" salad recipe:
    Option 1: smooshed chickpeas (not pureed) with chopped celery, chopped onion, vegan mayo, mustard, and relish. Opton 2: sub mashed tofu for the chickpeas. Feel free to add dill or other spices you normally prefer

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    1. I always enjoy hearing your vegetarian renditions as we do have a vegetarian in our extended family ♥️ plus we try and not overeat the stuff ourselves!

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  12. I have and love that book by Miriam Lukken and find it very enjoyable, helpful, and interesting! 💜
    Currently I am listening to an audiobook by Grace Livingston Hill while crocheting, or during the night if I cannot sleep. I have not read a book by Gladys Taber, the author you quoted at the start of this post. Is there one you can recommend? :-)
    That Caprese salad looks scrumptious! We've not tried it with sliced avocado but I would surely like to.
    Thank you for another lovely and helpful post! ~ Lynnea

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    1. Hi Lynnea, I did not know Grace Livingston Hill had audio books! I am interested as I love the books written by her aunt Isabella Alden (one of my favorites) and she is next on my list. I haven't read all of Gladys Taber books as my library is lacking but Stillmeadow would be a good place to start I think! ♥️

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    2. Hi JES,
      I wanted to let you know that Librivox.org has some of GLH titles available to listen to online or to download to a device. I appreciate that one can sample the "readers" before downloading. :-)
      Thank you for the title suggestion by Gladys Taber! :-) ~ Lynnea

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    3. YES! After commenting I dug them up too and already downloaded one! I am going to listen to them while folding my laundry! ♥️ Thank you 😘

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  13. Lovely post, JES! My sisters and I all had a copy of the Mrs. Dunwoody book in our hope chests. It is still one of my favorites! Your advice regarding preparedness is wonderful. My mom has always been very good about stocking up on medical supplies. I have begun to, but since the stores aren't stocked well it is taking some time. Your tuna recipe looks delicious! I will have to make some soon. I have made your recipe for zucchini quiche several times this summer. My mom and sisters have enjoyed the recipe too.

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    1. Thank you for the feedback on the zucchini quiche! It is always scary to post a recipe and not know how the results are for others! ♥️ And I love that you all had a copy of that book in your hope chest! I already love your mother ♥️

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  14. It is so lovely to hear about all that you've been doing to provide for the needs of your home.
    Fresh produce makes for great summer meals. I look forward to your new recipe for ranch dressing.
    Your jars look beautiful and I'm sure that they make working in your kitchen more fun.
    For me it is all about fruit right now. I bought a couple cases of fruit and need to make dried apples and canned pears. Plus my children have been out picking low bush cranberries with me and making jam. I hope to get enough berries to just freeze some as well.
    As for medical stashing....I do that to. One never knows what the availability of things will be regardless of what has happened this year. It's nice to be able to have enough to share also.
    Hope you have a wonderful homemaking day!

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    1. Hi there! Nice hearing from you! I love all the fruit you have in your little hands! Lots of fun projects on the way I am sure! And I completely agree... "One never knows what the availability of things will be regardless of what has happened this year." ♥️

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  15. Mrs. Dunwoody's book is a favorite. My husband got it for me for Christmas several years ago. I love the Amazon wish lists! It's probably time for me to read it all again. I remember there being a little humor in there, even! Took me by surprise!

    I've been reading a couple of books about WW2 and the food rationing. One is View from a Corner Ship, I think! It's a diary of a shop asst. in a small British village and the challenges. Very interesting.
    Also, Spuds & Spam? Also about rationing in Britain. The stuff that people went through! One thing I noticed is that human nature never changes! And, there are some similarities to COVID life. It seems a more interesting time to read these books. I'd love to find some about the US. Since I'm pretty British ignorant, especially in money aspects, it'd be interesting to be able to compare the prices and such.

    Love your pics.

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    1. Your book lists sound interesting and are just the sorts I enjoy reading too! Thanks for sharing those ideas! I always enjoy hearing from you 🤎🤍💛

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