Monday, July 26, 2021

"In Due Season" Garden Cookbook ~ Free Printable


"The eyes of all look expectantly to You,
And You give them their food in due season."
~ Psalm 145:15

One of my favorite homemaking hobbies is to collect simple recipes for the individual vegetables that we grow. Once I find one we all love, I add it to my gardening cookbook and it becomes a part of our seasonal eating rhythm.


For instance, I made individual section tabs for each vegetable that we grow (i.e., beets, broccoli, cucumber and tomatoes). Once we harvest that certain crop, I can go to the tab of that particular vegetable and prepare a meal accordingly. It is very convenient to have your tried and true recipes in one place for each garden variety.

The compilation process is simple. When I find a cookbook recipe that I like for a certain vegetable, I photocopy it and add it to the proper section of my notebook (the recipe above is from "Betty Crocker's" Cookbook and is a perfect use of our bell-peppers). If I find one online or in an Ebook, I print it up and add it in there also (the recipe below is Barefoot Contessa Online and is tasty for our broccoli harvest). If there is a family favorite, I handwrite it on recipe paper and include it in the binder as well. There is no rhyme or reason where they come from, just so that everyone in the family loves it and that it uses up what we are growing. 

For example, with our eggplant harvest the family favorites are eggplant parmigiana, eekra (a Persian eggplant and tomato spread passed down from my husband’s grandmother) and a tasty Italian-inspired eggplant and rice dish. I'll list some of our other favorite recipes (with links) in each category in another post in case you'd like to try some.

What about you, do you have a garden style cookbook which rotates gently through the seasons? If not, perhaps you would like to prepare one?

List of recommended supplies (affiliate links):

Obviously you can customize this to meet the needs of your family. This is just a simple suggestion to get you started. I have a few "clip arts" which I cut out of old cookbooks and I have pasted some of these pictures onto my black and white printouts to make it a bit prettier (my color printer no longer works). 


For the homeschooling mother, you can have the children draw the individual section pages of each vegetable and have them write out the individual names per page as copywork. The young ladies of the family can help to find recipes to try and add into your cookbook. Or they can dig through all your family favorite recipes and sort them in accordingly. 


This is a fun and useful little project for anyone who grows their own food or any of you who make it a point to eat seasonally. I hope you enjoy this little FREE PRINTABLE! Happy homemaking! Love,♡JES


“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold,
it would be a merrier world.”
~ J. R. R. Tolkien



Thursday, July 22, 2021

May/June 2021 Newsletter


"We often take our homes for granted. But when we steep ourselves in our home, a deep sense of place begins to emerge. Life becomes more meaningful. We begin to have a greater spiritual awareness of what our home is and should be. Perhaps our most inspiring thought is that our homes, if we are to live well in them, require and deserve a lifetime of the most careful attention. A home absorbs caretaking like a sponge. All the hours we spend tending to it are never in vain, for everything we give to our home, is in turn, given back to us. Our homes will be only as generous and nurturing as the effort we invest in them."

by Miriam Lukken

I can't believe two months have passed since I've done this newsletter! I remember my grandfather saying that as you age, it feels like time moves faster and faster. I find this to be sadly true and try to live in each moment and enjoy the blessings of today. So here we find ourselves with another monthly update in which we chat about books read, things watched, homemaking projects and any other ponderings which really don't fit into its own post! It is simply some old-fashioned, womanly chit-chat. Would you like to join me?

***But before we begin... THIS WILL BE THE LAST POST YOU RECEIVE VIA EMAIL... Recently, the Feedburner team released a system update, that the email subscription service will be discontinued in July 2021. After July 2021, the automated emails to our subscribers will no longer be supported. If you’d like to continue getting updates on our blog, please consider switching to Bloglovin (link on sidebar) or some other system. Thank you for understanding and subscribing! Love, JES***


So what have I been doing? Simply baking, making, and awakening the senses to the glorious fruits and flavors of (spring and now) summer. Investing in the time to create memories in the home… for that is what life is made up of… tiny increments of time called memories. A homemaker’s purpose is love-giving, life-giving and nourishing… creating an intentional home… she is a glorious memory-maker.

What career or life calling has more impact than that?


Pictured is a vanilla cake I made that will soon be slathered in freshly whipped cream and farm fresh strawberries ๐Ÿ“. I found the baking tin at a Goodwill thrift store and fell in love with the shape!


I’ve also updated my little baking basics jar set this month. My original set just had salt, baking soda and baking powder. I now added five other baking friends called cinnamon, cornstarch, pumpkin pie spice, cocoa and cream of tartar.


These are ingredients that often require me to scoop out teaspoons and tablespoons at a time (and not just a sprinkle). The convenience of a wide jar opening is wonderful. I do have a print out of the basic three on my blog from years ago HERE or you can customize them with round labels as I have HERE. I collected a set of matching recycled jars for this little project so it is a fun and frugal endeavor!

Note: The cottage-style labels are from our Etsy Shop.


I also enjoyed repurposing cookbooks into “Little House” homemaking notecards… Do you recall I spoke about this concept in the last newsletter?

This is my first set of notecards repurposed from the thrifted cookbooks which didn’t end up being useful to our household. As I was cutting out the pictures from this particular book, they reminded me of a dear old pioneering friend and I couldn’t resist making this first set “Little House-inspired”. Each card features some sweet and simple quote by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I’ve kept this batch rather plain as I think it matches the primitive style better. Bundle the set of cards with some calico ribbon or twine and you have a darling gift. Or, write down some encouraging words of your own inside and mail them out to a few fellow homemakers who could use a little old fashioned love. This was such a fun and easy project! 


Our garden is doing quite well and I've been busy preserving and making various meals with all of our produce. We are growing the basic herbs as well as tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, bell-peppers and eggplant. 


"Spring is the season for new growth -- of aromatic mint, broad-leaved sorrel and tender spikes of chives picked in their infancy to garnish young salad leaves or to pack in among baby vegetables freshly plucked from the garden and bottled for enjoying during the winter months. Is is a time for flavored butters drizzled over grilled vegetables and fish, for scented oils and vinegars and delicate flower cordials. It is the season of youth; all is green and yellow, and there is a crisp, fresh fragrance in the air. It is a time of renewal, when we clean our homes as unveiled windows reveal dusty corners, and we gently nourish our tender, winter-dried skin before we bare it in the warming sun."

~ Stephanie Donaldson, The Country Store

I even did a batch of infused vinegars with a variety of purposes. I prepared garlic chive vinegar for salad dressings, mint vinegar for housecleaning solutions, lemon peel vinegar for a rinse-aid and fabric softener, orange infused vinegar for home-keeping projects and lavender infused vinegar for any of the above! 


I have also been preparing numerous "cupcake squash" stir fry's and tons of quiches (with and without crusts) and we've been grilling these round zucchini by the dozens!


The tomatoes have come to call and I have been using them up and dehydrating trays upon trays. I don't bother with de-seeding them as it would be overwhelming work. I sprinkle them first with my dry Italian dressing mix and they actually can be eaten like a snack! I am also planning to place some in a jar of olive oil and use upon pizza and breads come winter. 


Here is a quick garden meal to use what you grow: mini garden pita pizzas with pizza sauce, cheese, homegrown sautรฉed zucchini, freshly sliced tomatoes, basil and snipped garlic chives. Broil til cheese is bubbling. Drizzle the top with olive oil and sprinkle with red pepper flakes.


Is your countertop brimming with baskets right now? Mine is and I couldn't help thinking...

The changing landscape of the kitchen sink is like the changing landscape of our lives. Sometimes it is bright and beautiful. Sometimes it is a horrible mess. Either way, we continue to do our best and create a home that is always in the stages of loving, praying and working through whatever is thrown our way. We will make the best of it. We will take ripening fruit and make sweet jam from it. We will wipe those spills and all will be shinier than before. With God's help, we will bring order back to brighten our home sweet home. But no matter how exhausting, heartbreaking or hard, we must never give up.

๐Ÿ… ๐Ÿงบ ♥️

"God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn."
~ Psalm 46:5



And finally, I splurged on a new cookbook and I absolutely love it! It is one of the most down to earth one's I have seen with recipes that would be agreeable for all of our family! Have you ever heard of "Hope's Table"? The best part is that each recipe has an inspiring picture which makes you want to cook the dinner immediately! 


With that being said, 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 as hearing about your homemaking endeavors always inspires me!

Happily homemaking,
♡ JES


“The thought that, insignificant as she was, she yet might do some good, made her very careful of her acts and words, and so anxious to keep head contented and face happy, that she forgot her clothes, and made others do the same. She did not know it, but that good old fashion of simplicity made the plain gowns pretty, and the grace of unconsciousness beautified their little wearer with the charm that makes girlhood sweetest to those who truly love and reverence it.”

~ Louisa May Alcott, An Old-Fashioned Girl

“Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.”

~ 1 Peter 3-4

(Some of the links in this post are affiliate links which help support this blog. Thank you!)


The Last Email from "Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth"...


Greetings dear reader,

I just wanted to send out one more "gentle" reminder...

This will be the last post you receive via email... Recently, the Feedburner team released a system update, that the email subscription service will be discontinued in July 2021. After July 2021, the automated emails to our subscribers will no longer be supported. If you’d like to continue getting updates on our blog, please consider switching to Bloglovin (link on sidebar) or some other system. Thank you so much for understanding and subscribing!

Love, JES


“A quiet and modest life brings more joy than a
pursuit of success bound with constant unrest.”
~ Albert Einstein

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

One Thrifted Twin Sheet Repurposed into 4 Different Items

 “Industry, perseverance, and frugality make fortune yield.”

~ Benjamin Franklin


One of the things I love to look for in thrift stores are lovely floral sheets (but of course you know that if you are a reader of this little blog ♥️). However, these repurposed projects can be prepared with any style pattern you love and is a fun and frugal way to add to your household linen supply. I shared a project with this twin sheet awhile back and now I'd like to share what was done with the remaining scraps of fabric.

First off, I'm thrilled with how I was able to make 12 new napkins without the use of a sewing machine! I’m in love with this “snip and rip” process. I call them “prairie” napkins ♥️ A step-by step tutorial is shared HERE if you are interested! 


I was also able to make up some "prairie style" tea-towels!

I know these projects may seem unnecessary when you can purchase and use the plain flour sack towels... But I believe in the benefits of cultivating beauty in the home on the smallest scale and using the brain endowed by the Almighty for creative pursuits (even of the simplest kind). There must be something therapeutic when you mimic the master Creator and become a designer as well. It is also quite rewarding to do these types of projects with frugality in mind — using the scraps of what you have around you to transform and renew.

To make the set of 12 dinner napkins, it was necessary to tear off all four corners of my thrifted sheet. I then used those edges to embellish the hem of these flour sack towels. Being the edges of the sheet were hemmed on one side, all I had to do was hem the ripped edge and sew onto the border of the flour sack towel for an easy cottage style tea-towel. 

๐Ÿค๐Ÿฅ€๐Ÿชก 

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


The third project is repurposing the leftover strips of the sheet into cottage-style ribbon.

This is such an easy and fun way to use up the last of your scraps of anything really. Simply snip the fabric and tear it into strips. Pull off any stray pieces of thread and iron it nice and pretty before folding it up or storing it on a spool. This sweet ribbon will decorate gifts, tie up bundles around the house or be used in any way you can dream up! 

Obviously you make these to taste. A calico fabric or sheet would make homespun ribbon. A geometric sheet or fabric would make a modern ribbon. A larger floral print would make a romantic one.

I'll also admit to splurging on some wooden spools to give this project a little special boost (and make them a bit more gift-able). 


This is the last project made with this sweet thrifted twin sheet. Jar covers! All you need are some squares and/or circles cut to the proper size of the jar and you have a darling final use of all that fabric! These can be used for home-canned foods or fermenting projects such as kombucha, sourdough starter, etc.


“I just try to look on the bright side of things; that helps one amazingly. Why, you’ve no idea how much goodness and sunshine you can get out of the most unpromising things, if you make the best of them.” 
~ Louisa May Alcott, An Old-Fashioned Girl

๐Ÿค๐Ÿฅ€๐Ÿชก

It kind of amazes me at how much goodness was created from one twin sheet! Imagine what you can do with a larger size. To make a dozen dinner napkins, embellished tea towels, homemade ribbon and jar covers from one piece of fabric (which all cost less than a few dollars) makes me quite happy! Do any of these ideas interest you? Do tell!






Monday, June 28, 2021

Sometimes Strength is Soft ~ Snippets



Sometimes strength is soft.

It is that gentle clasping of the hand when all you want to do is cry. It is the warm encouraging smile when all you want to do is fall apart. It is the delicate actions of love when all you feel is hurt.

A God-inspired homemaker is a tender force of strength for her family.

๐Ÿค

“She girds herself with strength...”
~ Proverbs 31:17

“Strength and honor are her clothing; She shall rejoice in time to come.”
~ Proverbs 31:25

๐Ÿ•ฏ 

(Notes:

Recently, the Feedburner team released a system update, that the email subscription service will be discontinued in July 2021. After July 2021, the automated emails to our subscribers will no longer be supported. If you’d like to continue getting updates on our blog, please consider switching to Bloglovin (on sidebar) or some other system. In the meantime, I will see what options I can offer on my end. Thank you for understanding and subscribing! Love, JES

Painting of "Peonies and Silver" by the talented Daniel F. Gerhartz)

Thursday, June 17, 2021

DIY~ How to Make & Can Fruit Syrups & Jelly {From Discarded Peels & Pieces} Using Just Sugar & Scraps!


"And those mysterious fruit trees trained along the southern wall. Peaches? Nectarines? Victorian plums? They would have to wait and see. Oh, the bottlings, and the dryings and the storings!" 
~ Mary Norton, The Borrowers

If you are anything like myself and are trying to stretch the fruit in your household (and add to the pantry frugally) then you will love this nifty and thrifty canning recipe (shared from our Ebook here). You see, our fruit trees are a year from being productive and so we are forced to buy fruit. Here is a way to get every pennies' worth! Simply save up all your washed peelings, unspoiled pieces and meaty pits from your preserving projects, pie creations, turnovers, etc., and you can make a delicious fruit syrup or jelly from them! This will work for peaches, nectarines, pears and plums, to name a few (perhaps even apricots!). The only other ingredients you will need is sugar and water.


Method #1 (Slow Cooker)

The beauty of this little side-project using the slow cooker is that it can be dealt with the next day after your "main project" (the one in which you created the fruit scraps in the first place) is completed. Simply toss all the leftover fruit scraps as you go (peels are perfect and even the unbroken meaty pits -- but avoiding any moldy pieces) into your crockpot and then place it in your fridge until bedtime (if you don't have a slow cooker * and want to try another method, keep reading). 



Now, add enough water to just cover the scraps and turn the crock pot on low. Let this slowly simmer overnight (about 6 - 8 hours) while you sleep and dream of sweet syrups and jelly for your pantry.

Method #2 (Stove Top)

Alternatively, if you do not want to do the crock pot method, you can also cover the peels and cast off pieces with water and slowly cook in a covered saucepan until the produce is soft and releases its juices. (Note: Begin following the remaining recipe at the straining point shared below).


Turn off the crock pot when you wake up and strain the contents once it cools down a bit (a few hours is fine as I waited until my morning routine was finished before I continued this).


To strain the juice, we lined a stock pot with a large paint strainer and dumped the cooled contents inside. You can use whatever system works for you such as a fine cheesecloth or jelly bag.


Then we gathered it up like a jelly bag and let it hang over the pot in order to drain the excess liquid. Press any remaining juice through and make sure to measure the final volume of fruit water.


Next, place your measured juice in a large enough pot and bring it to a raging boil. Now that it is boiling aggressively, add your sugar.


You will need half the amount of sugar as there is liquid for this recipe. For instance, our liquid measured out at 10 cups so I added 5 cups of sugar.


Boil this mixture rapidly until it reaches a thicker consistency. This will take some time and is a good moment to get all your canning gear in order. It is not necessary to stir the syrup continuously, just once in a while to make sure nothing is burning at the bottom (which it shouldn't).


Here is an approximate guideline to get the desired results:

For fruit syrup ~ 

Boil until approximately a third of the mixture evaporates and is to desired thickness (or until thermometer reaches about 218 degrees Fahrenheit for a nice, thick, pancake syrup consistency).


For fruit jelly ~ 

Boil until approximately half of the mixture evaporates (or until thermometer reaches setting point at 220 degrees Fahrenheit).



When you reach the desired consistency, ladle the hot fruit liquid into hot, sterilized jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Wipe the jar rims, adjust the canning lids and process for 5 minutes in a boiling water bath. For more detailed step by step canning directions, visit here.

Alternatively, you can also store your finished products in the refrigerator and consume them within a few months.



Isn't this lovely? You get all this for your pantry with just a bit of sugar and scraps. I could cry :) Obviously, the syrup would be amazing over pancakes, waffles, yogurt, ice cream and oatmeal. The jelly version would be excellent for spreading over toast, scones, biscuits and freshly baked muffins. This would even work for our fruit and grain cereal bar recipe!

Shelf Life: Approx. 1 year


Are you ready to save your scrap pieces and peelings from fruit to create additional products for your pantry, medicine cabinet, bathroom shelves, kitchen table and more? It truly is a marvelous thing! You will find at least 100 more recipes (with matching labels) on how to use up your fruit scraps in our e-book here! Happy homemaking!

All the fine print: 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). This recipe was inspired and adapted from the Clemson Cooperative Extension Office.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Living in Lean Times ~ The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly ~ Part 2


"He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand:
but the hand of the diligent maketh rich."
~ Proverbs 10:4

This is a continuation of the article "Living in Lean Times ~ The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly ~ Part 1. I hope you can glean something from this! I will redo the introduction below in case you missed the last post... while I did receive some criticism for some of the frugal concepts I shared last time, thankfully I am not the younger version of myself who would have shrank from presenting part two... I have developed a bit of a thicker skin in my old age ๐Ÿ˜‰ ...

"There is a lot going on in the world right now and I know that some of you find yourselves in reduced circumstances because of it. When I started this blog 10 years ago, I found ourselves living in lean times for a good solid six years. During that time period I wrote a lot about how we lived and got by but I don't think I went into detail about the financial struggles (for I wanted to encourage and not complain). I think that now may be the time to be more descriptive if it can help another family.

What made our situation unique is that we have tried to live without debt from the beginning of our marriage. My husband and I were both in agreement that if we could not afford something, we wouldn't buy it. We would live within our means. And to do that, it often takes sacrifice, lots of sacrifice! If there was no cash, there was no purchase. I know that financial stability is in the eye of the beholder, but to give you an idea, there were many months where a block of cheese had to be removed from the grocery list. It was a luxury. In order to make it affordable, it would need to be purchased in bulk. If it couldn't be purchased in bulk for the discount, then that month it just wouldn't be bought. Cheese was a luxury! (Later, our daughter started making cheese which was a game-changer - this is where skills come in to enhance your "lean" little life.) 

There are many ways people adapt to their circumstances, but here is how we made it through those tight times (in our case, we were starting a new business from scratch which took every penny we saved to establish, this also meant living for a few years without a steady stream of income). There is a lot to cover in this and I am going to have to forego perfect editing and type in more of a conversational tone in order to get through everything we did to get by. And to be honest, some of this stuff is far from glamorous... In the past I have shared posts on living a Frugal but Fanciful LifeOur Shabby Chic Frugal Farm Lifestyle, and Lessons from the Great Depression which you also may enjoy.

But before I begin, I feel the need to introduce myself more. I wasn't brought up on a farm milking a cow nor did I come from a real "earthy" family. I grew up in the suburbs, I went to a public school and I collected Vogue magazines as a teenager. My aspirations were to own a Chanel suit one day (so if you think I was brought up in this homesteading/from scratch life, that isn't the case at all - none of this came natural to me). Then I graduated, immediately got a job, loved to drink coffee and buy pretty things at Anthropologie. A few years later I fell in love and got married. Once I became pregnant, I stopped working outside the home and began my lifelong career as keeper of the home. I write this because, when you are about to read that I grabbed the leftover chicken carcasses from my family's leftover plates and made bone broth with them (I figured any germs would be boiled out), that this also didn't come naturally. What you see printed on this blog is years of life experiences that transformed my thinking and God -- who had other plans for me! 

I know most of what I'm sharing isn't rocket science or revolutionary. I would think maybe it is more of a reminder of things and to encourage you that you are not alone in your journey. Many homemakers have been in your shoes before (and many are struggling right now in ways that we can and never will fathom!). This is just the story of one...

I think that pretty much sets the stage, shall we begin part 2? "

— Food would last long in our refrigerator. By this I mean, I used to live with a relative who survived the Great Depression. What I saw in that kitchen! It truly mortified me at how long things were kept. But what it did do was embolden me a bit as I saw she lived to tell the story. I see cookbooks where is says 3 - 4 days for leftovers (specifically meat). I think that is ridiculous and wasteful when you have proper refrigeration. I would keep our food for at least 7 days with no issues and that was ample time to finish everything up. Obviously any visual mold was a sign to remove the item altogether.

-- I would cut our kitchen sponges in half to double it's use (save the other half for when the first one is worn out).

-- We repurposed all our jars and prepared much of our pantry, spice cabinet and home apothecary with them. I would paint the lids to have them match as I still liked things to be pretty! In fact I will add that my splurge would be printer ink as I printed out many labels to beautify and organize my home.

-- Coming up with clever ways to use my free resources became a homemaking hobby! Here is how I made pretty apothecary jars with old hardware I found in the garage.

— We made up lots of bouquets around the house, but always picked from our home. You can still bring beauty into your home without money! This pretty display was created from our potted roses in the front yard. Whatever you have growing around can somehow be harnessed into loveliness! If you live in a forest, you can put out a display of pretty pinecones. Look around with a keen eye, there is usually something from nature that can be displayed to bring beauty into your home.

-- To create a frugal flower garden, I would use cuttings to to expand my lavender garden and dry flower seeds for the following year.

-- There was no hot water plumbed to our kitchen sink for the first year. That meant heating up water in a kettle to hand wash dishes. I include this because sometimes you have to do without until you can afford something. I know this is an old way of thinking with the invention of credit cards but in order to survive lean times (and live debt free if that is your desire), you must often go without for the time being.

-- My kitchen sink was also 6 inches lower than standard sinks and I am a taller woman (this made it hard on my back when doing longer kitchen projects). Four years later we were able to redo it ourselves and oh what joy it brought!  I write this because we can easily get caught up in the comparison trap on Pinterest and Instagram. My goodness people have beautiful homes! (It is even more heartbreaking when you see a million dollar kitchen remodel and then the owner of the house gleefully brags that she doesn't even cook!) You can easily feel sorry for yourself that you are the only ONE who doesn't have all their heart desires. But that is simply not true. Most of us live in the real world and with a real budget and we just don't post those practical types of pictures of women hunched over sinks! 

-- One thing I began to do was collect frugal recipes. I touched on that in the first segment also. For instance, these crazy cakes don't require butter, milk or eggs making them very affordable to bake and they are shockingly delicious. For some recipes featuring PANTRY ONLY/SEASONAL ingredients, you may  be interested in our Zucchini Crazy Cake, Chocolate Banana Crazy Cake, Banana Crazy Cake, Carrot Crazy Cake, Lemon Crazy Cake and our Old Fashioned Pie Crust. These economical recipes are a treasure to collect. I am currently preparing a separate frugal cookbook for our household as a back up during any lean times (and I'm making a copy for my daughter's hope chest). Many are foods from the garden or ones using simple pantry ingredients, but either way, a collection of these are priceless for the homemaker. Here is our recipe index which share many frugal dishes. Perhaps I will also share our frugal cookbook when it is completed.

-- I mowed our acre of "backyard" grass with a push mower. I guess the purpose of including this is to say that hiring people for services isn’t an option. Lean times are do-it-yourself times ๐Ÿ˜‰ 

-- We grew huge gardens in the summer and autumn. We preserved all the extra by canning, dehydrating, fermenting and freezing.

-- Barter services. We had a large garden and our friend in the city made sourdough products. When the produce season came, we traded our homegrown vegetables for sourdough pizza dough. It was a win-win as they lived in a duplex with no yard and it freed me up for a free Friday night pizza!

-- No seasonal fruit was wasted. For instance, when we had an abundance of lemons, we canned the juicefroze the juice, made "French" style lemon syrup, lemon pepper and prepared lemon based medicinals and beauty products with the peel. Nothing was wasted. The same went for oranges and fruit scraps in general.

-- Our meals were based around our garden. We ate lots of squash dishes during the summer (as the main course) as it was prolific and lots of veggie soups in the winter. This stretched our resources significantly. Here is a frugal recipe, to be made in a big pot to last all week - End of the Garden Soup.

-- Excess veggies from the garden and undesirable produce like broccoli stumps were shredded and frozen for future meal endeavors (for soups, sauces and casseroles). Again, nothing was wasted. 

-- Learning new skills was one way we survived! If you wanted something, many times you simply needed to learn how to make it and suddenly it is affordable. Finding beauty in simple ordinary things becomes a happy homemaking hobby! For example, as citrus fruits were in abundance, I gleaned everything I could from them.

-- This gave birth to a new way to reduce, reuse and recycle! This is how our ebook 100+ DIY Projects to Make with Fruit Scraps was born. Through creativity powered by lean times!

— We made our own pantry mixes and seasoning mixes.

— Double bake items. If you are going to bake one cake, while the oven is on, make a second and freeze for later. The same goes for casseroles, etc.

-- Scrape the jar. The spatula is a beautiful invention as you always get a bit more!

-- The end of my honey jar is always made into tea (all the goodness left on the sides mustn't go to waste). I would boil the water, add the tea bags to the jar and brew it inside the "empty" honey jar. Add some lemons and you have a nice healthy sweet tea!

-- We did all our own slaughtering and processing of meat. If we didn't raise it, we didn't eat it (or buy it).

-- We would use all we could when butchering. I am sorry to say that even the chickens feet were boiled for the gelatin/glucosamine it provided (we couldn't afford the supplements so we had to make them).

-- We made nourishing broths as bases for soups and rice from the leftover meat bones. (I'll admit to taking the bones from the plates after our meals since they were going to be boiled!!!). I also made second stock which is basically a reboil of the original bones (with added veggie scraps) to get a bit more broth out of it. There is such a thing ๐Ÿ˜Š  I would either freeze or pressure can it.

-- My daughter even tanned the hides and made rugs from them for her bedroom.

-- We rendered tallow and I made pretty (emergency) candles with the tallow. I have to say they didn't smell as nice as I had hoped but they were still useful for power outages and quite decorative. I never did publish that post but here are the candles. I made them in recycled tin cans that I covered in pretty scrapbook paper. 

-- The excess parts of the animal that we didn't consume was buried in our orchard as fertilizer for our trees.

-- Buy secondhand. I did this recently with a vacuum cleaner (shared story below). Something wonderful often happens in the thrifting world right after you realize you have a need for something... oftentimes you find it that very next trip!

This is true of our vacuum cleaner. After purchasing an area rug, I discussed the need for a vacuum cleaner with my daughter... buying new from Amazon wasn’t sitting well with me though I did have one in the famous “cart”.

The very next day I found an Oreck (the VERY brand I was looking for) in the thrift store and for $6! I plugged it in and it was in working condition. The reason I wanted an Oreck was because it is lightweight for my back and I know how to maintenance it. Many moons ago as a newlywed I was constantly burning out my vacuum and would take it to the local repair shop... the owner must have been done with my naive self and told me it was my long hair which was causing all the problems... and so he taught me how to maintain it myself. This was the beginning of self sufficiency for me ๐Ÿ˜‰ 

He taught me to remove the hair from the roller every week using a dental kit for the operation. I went rogue and use a seam ripper to remove it all. This single step has kept my vacuum running ever since (but then I moved and couldn’t bring it along).

Back to the thrifted vacuum... I brought it home, wiped it all down with a Castile soap and water solution. I removed the plate from the bottom and cleaned out the roller with said seam ripper. I wiped down the roller with the cleaning solution. I checked the belt which was brittle and ordered a fresh set for the future. I removed any lint from inside the machine with an old toothbrush and put it all back together. I let all the individual parts and vacuum sit in the sun to further sanitize it for the day while I ordered a set of fresh bags for the unit.

With all the maintenance done, the complete machine with refurbishment and fresh supplies cost a little over $20 and it works beautifully to this day๐ŸคŽ

-- Maintain (and repair what you own). Do you notice the wire repair in this cheap plastic strainer (It could easily have been tossed and replaced)? I think this picture says it all! I was about to 86 it when hubby caught wind of it and the rest is history.

-- In general, we tried to be creative and utilize every single thing we had on our land (you will be surprised what you can find in a city yard as well if you put on your detective glasses).

My daughter made this Bible cover for me with fabric scraps.

-- There is even the blessing of learning how to transform fabric remnants into lovely things. My daughter had mastered this skill! Every time a gift was needed, she somehow managed to contrive something with leftover material (or reusing old clothing fabric as I mentioned before) and yarn. She taught herself to crochet and knit (by the time she was 10) and used these skills for all sorts of beautiful and frugal projects.

-- Remnant fabrics (outgrown clothing) can be transformed into jar toppers for the pantry, ferment covers, sachets and strips of ribbon for gift wrapping.

-- During these tight years, I also hosted a baby shower with a "Little House on the Prairie" theme. And of course, I had to do this frugally! I made it a potluck lunch and everyone brought either a side dish or pie (no dessert was purchased). I prepared potato cheese soup and bread as the main course (both very economical to make). We played games like an egg toss, 3-legged race and a "Little House on the Prairie" fill in the facts sheet. The "prizes" for these games were displayed on a bookcase which I made to look like an old fashioned Mercantile (I simply made a sign that said "Mercantile"). I told the ladies who won the games to pick something from the "store". This included a variety of my home-canned goods, prairie-style decorative clothespins and other items we made from home with a country theme (so the gifts were pretty much pennies). The bouquets on the tables were from foraged flowers and I used real dishes which seemed luxurious but was actually frugal. The whole day was lovely and I barely spent a dime. For the baby shower gift, I had made up some herbal baby ointments and essential oil blends for baby so even that was economical. Basically, you can still do lovely things for people and with people. You just need to exert some creativity and a bit of time!

-- The secret to lovely "lean" living in a decorative sense is to use all of your treasures! This makes you feel like a queen. If you have a beautiful teapot from grandmother, use it every day! If you have inherited great aunt's dishes, use them every day. If you have mother's vintage tablecloth, place it on your table! Use all the pretty things each day in a normal way and the daily rituals of life take on a whole new luxorious level.

— Eventually we would save up enough money for long-term saving goals. We put up a solar water heating system so that our showers, laundry and dishwashing would be heated for free. This paid off in the long run! So, in order to save money, sometimes you need to spend it.

I'm not going to lie, it was hard work. But it’s the most important work you can do, to keep the family together, to keep the family circle strong, to keep peace and harmony during stressful times, to survive! The big blessing that came from this is contentment and gratefulness. For example, every night I sleep under a heavy feather blanket I appreciate the luxury of that warmth.

Also, there is beauty to glean in these lean times. You find friends such as resourcefulness which leads you to new experiences such as foraging, creativity and innovation. When going out of doors, you are constantly hunting for resources which will glorify your life just a bit more. Perhaps it is a sprig of lavender to tuck under your pillow, a wild berry tree which can be transformed into jams, a patch of wildflowers which will become beautiful bouquets. Like they say "necessity is the mother of invention".

During the lean times is where I thought up re-covering our old ugly potholders.

I think that pretty much concludes this series. If I think of anything else, I will insert it into the article. If you would like more ideas on frugal living, this blog is full of the projects we did during those years. I will also list some resources below for further inspiration. 

Happy homemaking ladies... in the good and lean times!

Related Articles:

Living in Lean Times ~ The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Part One)

Embracing Ma's Practical Pioneering Spirit During Lean Times

Doth $afely Trust in Her? ~ A True Story

Prepare Your Own Pantry Products Index

"He Praiseth Her" ~ The Contented Homemaker

Prudent Pantry Ideas

8 Ways to Combat the No Spending Blues

The Blessings of Old Fashioned Work ~ Part 3

Overcoming Hard Times with Grace

What I learned about Homemaking Living Abroad ~ Part 1

Milk Glass, Thrift Shop Talk and the Great Depression Homemakers

A Frugal but Fanciful Life

Our Shabby Chic Frugal Farm Lifestyle

Lessons from the Great Depression



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