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


๐Ÿ“–๐Ÿ•ฏ๐Ÿค


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

Happily homemaking,
♡ JES

44 comments:

  1. Jes, this is a lovely chat!๐Ÿฅฐ I have many of your posts bookmarked (and actually in open tabs) as I revisit them often. I feel like a slow learner but there is so much to learn here.๐Ÿ’—

    In answering your question, I really appreciate all of the above! I think each item is so nicely interwoven with the next in the life of a homemaker that it would be impossible for me to pick one over the other. You are really inspiring with each post that you publish, the small and the big ones alike. I love it all! Your heart comes out, too, and it inspires me immensely.
    Please, do keep them coming!!
    Many blessings to you and yours๐Ÿ’

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    1. Thank you so much Gabrielle! The feedback really helps! Have a lovely weekend!
      ♡ JES

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  2. Honestly, I enjoy all the areas you post on. While I am a homeschooling mama, I am currently teaching just our youngest and inky have two years left with her before college. I have been homeschooling for about 17 years now, so am not really looking for homeschooling advice. I think what is most meeting my needs at this point in my life is things like home organization, do it yourself projects, frugalness, and bringing beauty to the every day. I am interested recently in growing plants in my garden that I can turn into herbal teas—hope to start some this summer.

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    1. Thanks for answering my question! You are pretty near where I am in life right now and I completely understand what you are saying. I appreciate your feedback -- thank you so much! Have a lovely weekend!
      ♡ JES

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  3. I love your pantry posts, as well as, recipe posts. Thank you for all you share.

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    1. Yes, the glorious pantry!!! Thank you for responding Glenda! I can't get enough pantry posts myself! Have a lovely weekend!
      ♡ JES

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  4. Your creativity in making a beautiful home is so inspiring. I enjoy your diy and pantry posts as well as the book ideas. I need to read the Clarkson book. Also, your somewhat cavalier attitude to pressure canning has relived me of my trepidation in trying it. So, thanks. ๐Ÿ˜Š

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    1. That made me laugh!!! If you only knew how long it took me to get the courage to pressure can! I am paranoid about botulism so I had a lot of barriers to get through (and a bit of a worry wort too to be honest)... so if I could do it, you certainly can! Have a lovely weekend and thank you for your feedback!

      ♡ JES

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  5. My answer to your question is “Yes.” ๐Ÿ˜Š. I enjoy all of it. I like how certain things come to season through the year and wane at other times. Inspiration/encouragement is always in season ๐Ÿ’•. Some of the things that I’ve found most useful are ‘simple recipes’ or more like the way you do this or that (like your butternut soup here.) And book recommendations are always welcome even if they aren’t all on my list, I look and see if it might be. And lastly, just knowing someone else is out there doing laundry or dealing with the budget or preserving the harvest in a time when everything seems artificial is a golden comfort. ๐Ÿ’–

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    1. How you speak my heart! Thank you my friend! ♡

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  6. Dear Jes,
    I enjoy homemaking, DIY's, encouragement, self-sufficiency, and pantry. My homeschooling journey is over. We definitely need to do things that bring happiness to our home. A chocolate pie, what could be better? Your new hangers are lovely. I'll have to look into those as well. I've been going back through my magazine collection (issues I saved from years ago) and looking for fun crafts and enticing new recipes I can make for things I have available. The old issues of VICTORIA are as relaxing as the day I first received them. Some things are timeless. Blessings, Laura

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    1. A woman after my own heart ♡

      Thank you so much for your feedback -- it really helps! And I agree, nothing beats the old issues of Victoria! Have a lovely weekend!

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  7. Dear Jes!

    It is beautiful, beautiful to see how things have come together for you in your home! Each portrait is the fruit of years of faithfulness in your life, and they have a real quality in their beauty!

    Thank you!

    I agree with you - that it is the words of the Almighty that are our richest treasures, and our surest stays within the tumult of this world.


    Rachel

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    1. Thank you so much Rachel! I send you a big, big hug and kiss and hope/pray that things are going well for you right now ♡♡♡

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  8. There isn't anything on your blog that I *don't* enjoy, JES. I had a particularly hard, emotional day today, and coming here this evening to read this lovely post was balm for my weary soul.

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    1. Thank you... that is my very hope for here ๐Ÿ“–๐Ÿ•ฏ๐Ÿค

      May your weekend be brighter!

      ♡ JES

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  9. Wonderful movie! It is so amazing the effect that food has on community and friendship. Feeding anyone in our home has always resulted in new friends. Today we made dinner for a friend who is caring for her Mom as she undergoes every day radiation treatments and it was just a half hour after sharing that food that our wonderful neighbors sent a text and said they had delicious food they wanted to share with us. Now at 10 PM I am ready to go in the kitchen and cook but I will save it for tomorrow and cook for my dear husband.

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    1. Wasn't it neat? And I agree with you! Nothing creates a bond like a meal. Our dinner table has made many beautiful friendships for our family! ♥️

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  10. I'll join the camp of those who like it all! Variety is good.

    Old linens (and old books) are my thrift shop weaknesses. I've cut up old linens for little curtains, salvaged some hand crocheted trim for a dress (now that the dress is past its prime, I'll be salvaging it again!), and just using some exquisite pieces that are stained for everyday. No one wants to buy a used stained tablecloth but if the stains aren't too awful, I like to use them (maybe using creative placement) and think of the frustrated housewife who embroidered them only to see them stained. And then I have linens on hand that I don't mind cutting up later on! :)

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    1. Wonderful! Thank you for sharing! I am with you! Old books and linens are big weaknesses and for the same reasons! Beautiful and so very useful ♥️ Have a beautiful week!

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  11. “My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest...” ...Isaiah 32:18

    ๐Ÿ’œ

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    1. I am loving that verse ever so much right now! I have it as the motto on the blog title ♥️

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  12. This past week I have been working on my homemaking with a 'handicap'. The weather turned arctic a few days earlier than expected, and we had our well freeze. There was nothing to do for it but to turn off the pump, turn on the heat lamp, and haul water from a source in town so we can do what needs to be done. I had recently read The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and I pointed out to my husband that while yes, we are being inconvenienced, we have a vastly better situation from the winter in that book, and that we have NOTHING to complain about. So I am spending my time baking and organizing. Wonderful post.

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    1. Those times can really bring out our resourcefulness! And baking and organizing is always a beautiful way to spend your precious time ♥️ Thanks for sharing!

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  13. I don't know about everyone else, but I love all of your content. All of it helps if I'm struggling in some of those areas. Thanks for a great blog.

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    1. Thank you so much for the feedback Tracy! It really helps! ♥️ Have a lovely week!

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  14. I enjoy reading about homemaking, DIY projects, self sufficiency, and pantry. Also, your encouraging words. The things you write about in your newsletters, and other posts, are not only informative, but so warm, and lovely. Very calming, and encouraging to me. Your potholders are great, and the organization in your closet looks wonderful! Right now I am reading Ester Ried by Isabella MacDonald Alden. I love the Grace Livingstone Hill books, and was happy to find some of the books her aunt wrote at my library. Also, I knit and crochet, so I usually have a couple of hats in my project bag. I'm looking to start a crocheted blanket soon. Thank you for all the things that you share Jes. You are a blessing!

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    1. Thank you Candis for sharing! This really helps! I absolutely love Isabella Alden and the Esther Ried books are wonderful... I think there are 6 in the set of how her influence continued... I do have a Grace Livingston Hill book on my shelf that I hope to read soon! I'll let you know ♥️ Have a lovely week!

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  15. "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."

    This is very beautiful, JES. The simple task of baking is such a high expression of homekeeping in showing love to dear ones at our table. As far as content, I love everything you post, even though I am not home schooling. Your blog is a bright, warm, and welcoming beacon as the world around us becomes darker. Each post is like a visit with a sweet kindred spirit. I, too, was amused at Kim's comment about your "somewhat cavalier attitude to pressure canning." I have not yet worked up the courage for that endeavor, despite reading that it's "so easy!" A blessed Lord's Day to you, JES. Nancy

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    1. Thank you so much Nancy for sharing! And yes, that comment cracked me up! If you only knew my trepidation before I started pressure canning ๐Ÿ˜‚ I think I read a million articles on it beforehand but now I am cured ♥️ Have a beautiful week and thank you so much for the feedback!

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  16. I enjoy your quotes, Scripture, lovely pictures, homemaking tips. I'm not a very adventurous cook so I don't try your ideas, but enjoy looking at the pretty pictures of your products.

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    1. Ah, thank you Jan! This is all very helpful! ♥️ ♥️ ♥️

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  17. Thank you for a clean movie recommendation.
    I am looking forward to more of your Living in Lean Times. I think it will help many people.

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    1. Excellent! Good to know! Part 2 is almost finished... I am just trying to think of anything else I can before I publish it. I appreciate your feedback very much. Have a beautiful week! ♥️

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  18. This past week I've been knitting some edgings to sew on a tablerunner - inspired by your photos. I enjoy the homemaking, pantry, diy, and apothecary posts. My favorite is the monthly newsletters. Love the photos! Thank you for taking the time to share your ideas with us!

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    1. Hi Camille, that sounds like a lovely project! Thank you so much for the feedback! It really helps! Happy knitting ๐Ÿงถ ♥️

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  19. Debby in Kansas USAFebruary 15, 2021 at 8:25 AM

    I love it all, as well! I learn from everything, even that which I can't or don't do. Since moving from 2 season California (hot and fire lol), I've become a big lover of the seasonal changes and activities. That includes everything from decor to food to organization. (There's nothing worse than that first surprise cold dip and no mittens are around!) . I love to plan new projects and things for each season as they give me something simple to look forward to. I hope this helps! You do a wonderful job and it's a pleasure to read your blog.

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    1. It really does Debby! Thank you so much for taking time to share! I also love seasonal homemaking ♥️

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  20. I love all of your posts! I've read everything on your page, I don't know how many times, and there are many areas in my home touched by something I have learned from your blog! I pin, print and save. If I could only get on the internet for 3 things, it would be for our local weather, google and your blog. Seriously! I never knew you could can dried beans until your blog, and now I can them. I now have an apothecary. The list goes on and on. How do I narrow down what I love? I love to learn things to make and can and cook for my home. I crave encouragement as a homemaker. I love lavendar and cleaning. I love to be frugal. Or least to try to be :) I love your blog and are so thankful that you came back to it. I truly believe the Lord is using you to bless and help others with it. It certainly has me!

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    1. Dear Debra, thank you for sharing such encouraging words! It made my Monday morning ♥️

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  21. OH I love pies! It is fun to look back and see clearly those things that stand out as highlights in a month. Your last month has been both productive and delightful. Wonderful organizing...and it's lovely that you found such great deals to help with that aspect of your homemaking. I enjoyed seeing your bone broth with the pretty fabric on them. I've never done that but it would sure make the pantry even more inviting. OH, and I really like your potholders that you created from your linens you didn't use on your table. Your creativity is inspiring. Praying you have a blessed day!

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    1. Thank you Jennifer for taking the time to share here today! It's fun to hear back from the other side of the screen ♥️♥️♥️

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  22. I really like all of your posts, but especially the encouragement, femininity, homemaking, thrifting, pantry and being frugal.

    I have been organizing, knitting for my grandbaby. I finished his blanket yesterday. For reading, I have been reading gardening books, a few Christian living ones and I joined some online friends and read the New Testament in January. I am not a huge movie watcher beyond my favorite period dramas. We did watch Dr. Thorne on my birthday. Have you watched that one?

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    1. Excellent! Thank you for sharing! You listed all my favorite topics too ♥️๐Ÿฅ€ A grand baby project sounds wonderful! I can't wait for that day! ♥️ I haven't watched that movie but will definitely add it to my list. Thank you so much for the feedback. It really helps! ♥️๐Ÿฅ€

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