Monday, March 1, 2021

Embellish Ordinary Kitchen Linens with Lace ~ Romantic Homemaking Series

"Out of the way! We are in the throes of an exceptional emergency!
This is no occassion for sport- there is lace at stake!" (Ms. Pole)" 
~ Elizabeth Gaskell (Cranford)

There is something satisfying in completing an ordinary task in an extraordinary way. It becomes a rich and satisfying ritual. Take advantage of the last slow days of winter and cultivate beauty in your home. Sew sow seeds of loveliness in your homemaking routine. Forage for lace in your little nooks of homemaking treasures and embellish your flour sack towels, basic dish towels and even your cleaning rags! This is extravagant living the old fashioned way. Our ancestors used to embellish all their handmade linens with embroidery, crochet and trims. This is because the home was the heartbeat of their world, the center of their universe. And it is the center of mine... Won't you join me?

I’ve added some soft pink lace to plain white flour sack towels which will make wiping dishes delightful.

I’ve "fancified" plain terry towels which I will put aside for washing windows and glass for a gentle cleaning experience. 

You can sew basic lace onto plain dinner napkins to make them more attractive (not pictured). 

I've also cut up linens in our home that were not being used for various reasons and have repurposed them into dish towels and other useful items and have added lace (I'll post more on that topic soon!). The towel shared above was actually once a tablecloth. I’ve cut the poor dear into the appropriate sizes and added some of grandmother’s lace I had stashed away. I couldn’t be happier with the results. And yes, I will use them! 

“Creativity is taking a simple thing and bringing it to life.” 

I haven’t purchased anything for these projects as I seem to have collected enough lace here and there which makes it all the more lovelier. However, even an inexpensive roll of lace will transform the boring into beautiful! 

Adding beauty to your daily tasks is never a waste of time but an enhancement to the homemaker’s life and is a way to express your love of home. This is what I call "romantic homemaking".

“Let us believe that God is in all our simple deeds
and learn to find Him there.” 
~ A.W. Tozer

I have also included a PRINTABLE in this segment for your Inspired Home "Junk" Journal. It includes the beautiful verse from Mr. Tozer (shared above) and a few images that coordinate with this little homemaking project. (I hesitated to include these pictures as my printer ink is not working and the actual printable is more lovelier in color but I wanted to give you an idea of how I am fashioning it. And yes, I included a bit of leftover lace!)

There is also a list to give you ideas of what to embellish. Simply cut and paste into your journal as you would a scrapbook entry. One day when you are looking for inspiration, this list will guide you (free printable here). (Pardon the gloppy glue!)

I do hope you give this little project a try! Sewing on a bit of lace to already-made linens is fairly simple. Just a straight line! But within minutes, the basic becomes beautiful! My daughter loved the pink and white flour sack towels so I have placed them in her hope chest. Perhaps this can be something for your daughters (or grand-daughters) as well!  Happy homemaking!

Romantic Homemaking Series:

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Orange Crazy Cake (No Butter, Eggs, Milk or Mess) ~ Inspired by the Depression Era Recipe (aka Wacky Cake) w/ GF Option

Pretend there is no eggs, butter or milk but that mother has a pantry full of dried provisions and that old orange tree growing in the backyard... Why yes! She can still prepare a tasty cake for her family without those fresh (and often expensive ingredients)! She will serve it on grandmother’s old dish and ice it with a bit of confectioners sugar and some juice from her same seasonal oranges. Making do the old fashioned way...

You see, I am a collector of frugal, use it up, pantry-only, ingredient types of recipes. I keep them in a separate notebook (my preparedness notebook) as you never know when you would need something (using no butter, eggs or milk) for a crisis or you simply run out of eggs and company is on the way for tea (and yet another crisis)! A homemaker who learns from history can be prepared in all kinds of circumstances... she does not fear for the future (Proverbs 31:21). Hence the reason I am crazy for crazy cakes! I have had these citrus versions on my to-do list for some time and am just thrilled with the results! 

This is another crazy cake I adapted for the winter season based on the Depression-era recipe. Though it has no eggs, butter or milk, it is quite tasty! Like the lemon cakes before it, it is prepared with fresh juice and zest instead of the traditional crazy cake recipe which uses vinegar (and I used more orange juice than the vinegar called for). The result is a deliciously moist cake with subtle orange flavor and a brighter burst of orange in the icing.

This recipe is basically a hybrid... it’s a seasonal, use-it-up, frugal pantry specimen ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐ŸŠ

Please visit HERE for the printable recipe!

Happily homemaking,

๐Ÿงก JES

For other recipes featuring PANTRY ONLY/SEASONAL ingredients, you may also be interested in our Zucchini Crazy CakeChocolate Banana Crazy CakeBanana Crazy CakeCarrot Crazy CakeLemon Crazy CakeOld Fashioned Pie Crust and for more inspiration -- Frugal Homemaking Lessons from the Great Depression.


Monday, February 22, 2021

The "Art" of Home-Making Mondays ~ Inspiration #7

“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.”

Photographs of Tasha Tudor.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Depression Era Legacy ~ Lemon Cake Recipe ~ Frugal Pantry Ingredients

When going through difficult times, I often think of my great-grandmother who lived during the Great Depression. I think of the things she left behind that we still enjoy today. Hand-embroidered sheets, hand-crocheted curtains, lovely lace shawls, flowing floral skirts and a strong faith in God. Though she endured one of the most trying times in history, she didn't leave behind memories of bitterness... but an abundance of beauty. It is what I hope and pray my family inherits from me... that I may leave behind lovely legacies during any unprecedented time we may find ourselves in.

"The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places;
yea, I have a goodly heritage."
~ Psalm 16:6

I have baked up some lemon cupcakes which are adapted to magnify the beauty of the winter citrus season (and to use up the basket of homegrown lemons on my sink). The crazy cake recipes (also called wacky cakes) are passed down from our Depression-era ancestors and don't require the use of butter, milk or eggs. Surprisingly, they are a very moist and delicious cake! Perhaps my revised recipe using fresh lemon juice and zest (in lieu of the original version using vinegar) can be a humble little legacy I leave behind for my family... 

“Mother’s Loving Lemon Cakes” anyone? ☺️ ๐Ÿ’›

It is easy to make in seven steps -- and it is also quite frugal, egg-free, butter-free, milk-free and can even be made gluten-free. For a complete picture tutorial on the concept of preparing the crazy cakes (in case it is foreign to you), you will find step-by-step instructions here: Chocolate Banana Crazy CakeCarrot Crazy CakeBanana Crazy CakeZucchini Crazy Cake and Apple Crazy Cake.

For my printable recipe which can be placed in your recipe book, visit HERE! I hope you enjoy the idea of seasonal baking and using what you have in the cupboard at the same time! It's a matter of a fresh winter lemon and the ingredients in your larder and you are one step closer to being Ma Ingalls ๐Ÿ˜Š 

Happily homemaking,

P.S. The concept of the lemon peel rose is found in our Ebook ๐Ÿ’›

#vegan #dairy-free lemon cake #wacky cake

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

DIY Vanilla Rose Room/Linen Spray ~ Romantic Homemaking Series

“There is simply the rose;
it is perfect in every moment of its existence.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Scent is such a powerful tool in the home and the fragrance of vanilla and rose feels utterly romantic to me. To make a simple spray for freshening up the bedrooms or linens, please follow the basic guidelines in the tutorial below. This may be quite a desirable spray in the winter when the home can be a bit stale and a dash of deodorizer is always welcome.

This recipe is very flexible. Use what you have and as much as you'd like of each ingredient to get the desired aroma. I have also included variations using lavender and citrus essential oils (as these are more common oils that you may already own). I do suggest you maintain the witch hazel and/or vodka to water ratio as it is a preserver and helps disperse the essential oils in the recipe. 

Place the following ingredients in an appropriate sized spray bottle and shake well before each use.

-- 1/2 tsp. clear vanilla extract (or vanilla essential oil or regular vanilla extract but keep in mind the darker extract may stain linens -- but I think it'd be fine for a room mist)

-- 20 drops of rose absolute (or you can use rose essential oil if you have the luxury, Palmarosa essential oil or even try a few drops of Geranium essential oil -- please add in the drops cautiously and test the fragrance to your liking as you go -- see other variations below)

-- 1/4 c. witch hazel (or use plain vodka or a vodka/witch hazel mix)

-- 1/4 c. distilled water (or water that has been boiled and cooled down)

Yields: 1/2 c. (4 oz.)


I did one batch with the 1/2 tsp. clear vanilla extract, 20 drops of rose absolute and then I added in a few drops of Palmarosa and Geranium essential oil to the witch hazel and water mix. I really liked the depth they added. I encourage you to be creative with what you have!

If you'd like to make a romantic aroma mist for your home but lack the oils I mentioned above, you can make a lavender vanilla spray (just replace lavender essential oil with the rose). You can use the label here for embellishing the bottle.

You can also do a delightful citrus vanilla spray. Just replace the rose oil with lemon, orange or any other citrus essential oil. You can use the citrus bliss room spray label here to embellish your bottle.

Here is a PRINTABLE of the recipe to include in your Inspired Home "Junk" Journal (thank you to Little Birdie Blessings for the darling homemade washi tape I used to attach the recipe to the book). I have also added a large and small label to print out for your vanilla rose spray. To make them waterproof you can cover them with clear contact paper or thick clear mailing tape. 

I hope you have enjoyed this simple tutorial and spritzing your home with this romantic blend! May this sweet spray add a dash of loveliness into your domestic day!

Happily homemaking,

Romantic Homemaking Series:

Monday, February 15, 2021

The Inspired Home "Junk" Journal ~ Romantic Homemaking Series

 I feel as if I had opened a book and found roses of yesterday sweet and fragrant, between its leaves.” 

~ L.M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island

I think that constant inspiration is needed in order to fulfill our desire for a romantic home life, the goals of making our home a lifestyle of beauty. To begin this Romantic Homemaking Series, I'd like to start with just that -- inspiration. Here is a little project that can be hand-tailored to your specific circumstances. We are all in different stages in our lives. Some with many little children, some right there in the middle and some in the "golden" years of life. These little "junk" journals (as they are called) are meant to take a few minutes in your week (or even longer if you choose) to create beautiful homemaking encouragement in one scrapbook-style volume. 

To begin, you will want to have a nice, old book that you don't mind altering. I chose something with a red hardcover to give it a romantic and timeless appeal. Removing dust-jackets from old books you are no longer interested in may also reveal a red cover if you desire one. I found my book at a thrift store but you can use anything, even a composition book or 3-ring notebook. Please choose something according to your taste or practicality.

Next, you will want to decorate the cover and spine. Here is the first PRINTABLE in the series with clip art to cut and paste images to make it easy for you. You can also glue in swatches of fabric, lace, scrapbook paper or pretty magazine pictures. The idea is to make this book lovely and inspiring to look at. When you feel like you are losing your spark, this book is designed to bring it back!

As the series go, I will have printables to paste into the journal. It may be inspiring quotes, recipes, lists, etc. Basically it will be anything that will encourage you to love and do in the homemaking world. And as you live your life, you can add whatever else you come across that will inspire you in your homemaking journey! Obviously you don't have to use the printable, you can always decorate with your own supplies and hand-write in your own entries. These are just to make it easier as the printable will contain information derived from the series.

The first printable in the series includes:

-- cover page clip art
-- clip art to decorate spine of book
-- clip art to decorate inside cover of book and/or pages in book
-- inspired homemaking quote (shown above) (shared from first post in series)

-- favorite homemaking book list (concept shared from second post in series)
-- favorite homemaking book wish list (concept shared from second post in series)

You don't have to include what doesn't interest you (for instance I did the book "wish list" but I didn't do the "favorite" homemaking book list since I already typed it here).

Also, in order to make this book functional, you will want to remove every other page in the book (simply remove a page every time you work on it). This way, the book doesn't get too thick with all your homemaking entries. I am saving my old pages for making "pockets" to hold some labels that will be coming up, to embellish gift tags, to make into shapes useful for decorations and for wrapping small parcels.

I have prepared the first part of the book very simply and timed it. It took 10 minutes of my time (and I prepared the cover, spine, inside of book, the homemaking book wish list, cut and pasted in some clip art and embellished with one piece of lace). I definitely could have done more (I haven't even brought out my  pretty scraps -- but oh dear -- when I have time!)! I just want to give you an idea of the basic version and the time it would take.

Perhaps you'd like to make one and pass it down to your daughter one day. Or a grandmother can prepare one to give to a granddaughter in the future. Maybe this is something you can work on with your daughters at tea time together. Whatever the case, I've tried to make it as easy as possible so that it can actually be done. I do hope you enjoy making your own "Inspired Homemaking" journal!

P.S. I am a bit behind on the scheduling of these posts so you may be land-blasted with a few posts in a row for a few days (so sorry!)... The reason for this is that I am going to post this series up to spring...

Happily homemaking,

Romantic Homemaking Series:

Saturday, February 13, 2021

January 2021 Newsletter

"On the first of January let every man gird himself once more, with his face to the front, and take interest in the things that are and are to be, and not in the things that were and are past."
~ Henry Ward Beecher

And here we are, in the final months of winter and with another monthly newsletter in which we chat about books read, things watched, homemaking projects and any other ponderings which really don't fit into its own post! Welcome to another edition of old-fashioned, womanly chit-chat. Do brew a pot of coffee and sit a spell...

"Every man should be born again on the first of January. Start with a fresh page."
~ Henry Ward Beecher

To be truly honest, when I reflect on January, I think of pies. In the first week I made three! Chocolate cream pie is our family favorite and would be considered a celebratory food in our household. Though there was some heaviness and sorrow, the time around the table with a delicious dessert helped to heal the broken-hearted...

When the world is a tumultuous storm, you can moderate the weather in your own home. You can turn on the oven and bake your way into a warm and cozy atmosphere.

What potential power hath the maker-of-the-home.

“My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest...”

~ Isaiah 32:18

I also used up the last of our homegrown butternut squash for soup making with two large batches. The concept is simple, peel and cut the gourd into chunks, add a bit of broth into a pot and cook the squash in the broth with some sautรฉed onions until tender (I sautรฉ my onions in coconut oil first)... when vegetables are soft, blend them til thickly smooth (adding more broth to achieve the desired consistency). Place the mixture back into the pot and season with salt, freshly ground pepper and a dash of garlic powder. Heat through and stir in some heavy cream for the crowning glory. Such a soothing dinner on a cold, winter day. ๐Ÿงก

I have a goodly supply of tablecloths which don’t fit my tables (long story ๐Ÿคฆ‍♀️ but it may have something to do with "someone" shrinking them). I do love all of the fabrics (that’s the reason we choose them in the first place isn’t it?) so now I have a pretty pile of repurposing projects to complete. I refashioned one part of the tablecloth into these homespun potholders... I liked the idea of making potholders as the fabric coordinates with my dishes and would look nice on the dinner table. They certainly didn’t come out as planned with my humble sewing skills. So, when all else fails you label it “homespun” and declare it a success. 

To make them, I cut the fabric to my desired size and placed a piece of a cast-off bath towel in the middle for more thickness. Then I stitched around the whole thing with a machine and hand stitched around the edge with contrasting embroidery thread. No money was spent.

I have a few more projects to share with this tablecloth (I will share them together in a separate post) and then it shall be no more. From one unused item to many makes me very pleased!

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

~ Benjamin Franklin

What about you? Do you like to repurpose old linens? What do you make with them?

I also pressure canned a batch of chicken based vegetable stock for 25 minutes at 10 pounds pressure to make it shelf stable. ๐ŸคŽ

The satisfying ritual of preserving nourishing stocks... The slow art of pressure canning in the winter has been a seasonal comfort... the ladling of the hot bubbling broth into the clear glass jars is satisfying to the senses... in the frigid weather the full force of the flames under the large pot is welcome as it introduces warmth into the cozy kitchen... the humming and sputtering rhythm of the canner soothes and serenades the heart of the homemaker... And the knowledge that you are adding to your pantry provisions is priceless. That you are ensuring another season of plenty for your loved ones is contentment. It is a gentle though productive day.

January was also a time for organizing... no drawer was safe! A few bags were donated which completes the thrifting cycle of goods coming in, goods coming out.

"Order is the shape upon which beauty depends."

~ Pearl Buck

I think that a big part of being feminine is the desire to bring beauty and order to everything you come in contact with... I really enjoyed working with my closet. It isn’t big but I tried to maximize the space with thrifted basket storage. I am very pleased with how it came out!

I have put aside some monetary gifts which I love to use for pretty but practical things that add a special element to my home (items I wouldn’t normally buy with the general household funds). My last purchase was a set of lovely hand-poured candles from a romantic prairie collection. They even came with a “back-story” and were both beautiful and useful in these chilly months. They brought a warm cozy feeling to our little home and I found great pleasure in that investment. The next gift was transformed into these creamy-colored luxuriously velvet hangers. The slim style is functional (as they take up less space in my small closet) and the uniformity brings pleasure to my order-loving heart.

And then I took it to the next level and coordinated the closet by colors! I really love the way it looked every time I opened it! However, it was not to last long. I ended up going back to the original format which is divided by sweaters, long sleeved shirts, short sleeved shirts, sleeveless shirts and finally skirts. It just makes more sense for me when I am selecting my clothing for the day.

My little laundry area apothecary has been reorganized and is open for business once again. I call it an apothecary because I have out all my little natural “preparations“ to help me tackle the wash. There is baking soda, borax, Oxy-clean, stain remover and homemade fabric softener all decanted into glass like a little laboratory! It adds an old world charm to the laundry process as I look around and decide what is the best substance to add to each load. I feel like a homemaking chemist as I concoct the washing machine solutions.

I've also re-organized my herbs, pantry, kitchen cupboards, under the bathroom sink areas and anything else I could get my little hands on. It really felt good to go through everything! November and December was a bit topsy-turvy for me so to be able to bring back order in the home gave me the "everything situated nicely" feeling that I crave. 

(Note: Waterproof laundry labels and apothecary labels are from my Etsy Shop.)

"All people need a place where their roots can grow deep and they always feel like they belong and have a loving refuge. And all people need a place that gives wings to their dreams, nurturing possibilities of who they might become."

Creating such a place does not require building a mansion as Vanderbilt did. We are all capable of creating a lasting legacy in the form of a home that gives life to others who come under its roof.

A home that serves all who enter.

A home that reflects our own tastes and the values we treasure.

A home that meets the needs of family and visitors alike, that fosters beauty and creativity.

A home where the atmosphere, traditions, and celebrations give life to the hearts, minds, and souls of those inside its walls.

A home that provides a lifegiving legacy that will last for generations to come.

I believe God has designed us to do just that."

The Life Giving Home by Sally & Sarah Clarkson 

As I mentioned earlier in my Beloved Homemaking Book ListThe Life-Giving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging & Becoming by Sally & Sarah Clarkson was a beautiful and inspiring read for me this last month! I felt as if I could have written half of the volume as it mirrored my thoughts in so many ways! It actually made me quite giddy!

As far as movies go, I did watch something on our travels which was quite amusing, poignant and overall "clean". It is called The Hundred-Foot Journey. It is basically about two restaurants with two different cultures clashing and what becomes of them. I loved the food photography scenes... So pretty as they show images of eggs slowly being whisked and spices artfully added to pots (just the kind of beauty a homemaker notices). It was also a bit of a romance and quite sweet for a secular movie (though Amazon shows it as PG-13 it is actually PG rated). Have you watched it?

“Ma roused herself with a little shake... "Come, Laura. Let's get the work done. Then we can sit by the fire with an easy conscience."’

~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Long Winter

Isn’t this so with the homemaker, we first look to what’s necessary in the home and then we have the luxury of indulging in happy pursuits... It’s a good, fulfilling, noble life (don’t let anyone convince you otherwise).

What winter hobbies, projects, books, etc., have you been enjoying?

But before I finish, I also have a question for you all in light of the new year and I would really appreciate your input!... What type of content is your favorite here? Is it the homemaking, DIY's, encouragement, self-sufficiency, pantry, homeschooling? Is there any other areas that interest you? Please feel free to be specific!  It would be mighty helpful when putting together content. ๐Ÿ“ฉ

Just a last bit of reminder...

During sadness, sorrow, trials and pain...

When it feels dark, the homemaker must draw closer to the light.

"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."

~ Psalm 119:105


And once you have been renewed, you will illuminate your home ever so beautifully.

Happily homemaking,

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