Saturday, April 10, 2021

February/March 2021 Newsletter

“There needs to be a homemaker exercising some measure of skill, imagination, creativity, desire to fulfill needs and give pleasure to others in the family. How precious a thing is the human family. Is it not worth some sacrifice in time, energy, safety, discomfort, work? Does anything come forth without work?"
~ Edith Schaeffer, What is a Family?

I am a bit amazed as I went to do a record of March for the monthly newsletter and realized I never had done February (and so I apologize for this longer post)! Time is too precious and flies away if we do not anchor it. Once again we find ourselves with another set of monthly newsletters 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. Do brew a pot of coffee or tea and relax for a few minutes...


I had been saving up a gallon-sized bag of apple cores and peels in the freezer until I had enough to produce these seven jars. They are a welcome arrival to the dwindling winter pantry. This recipe for using apple scraps for jelly is shared in our ebook “100+ DIY Projects to Make with Fruit Scraps”.


Here is a picture of the last days of my winter pantry. I have been enjoying displaying each season on a small scale on this little shelf in our kitchen/dining area. It gives me incentive to press forward each month and be a gleaner!


These last few chillier months have also been filled with lots of sewing projects and some baking and a bit of growing... When you are finished with your green onions, place the remainder (with root) in a recycled jar (now it must be recycled or it won’t work πŸ˜‰). Fill the said jar with water and place near your window on the kitchen sink. Every three days or so, change out the water. In return for this kind service, the green onion will continue to grow. You can continue to snip into all your favorite recipes and $ave at the same time. I’m not sure how long this congenial relationship will last but I do think it’s worth the small investment of time. Enjoy your little snippets of greenery and flavor in your indoor winter kitchen garden. I had three vases going at one time and it was also quite decorative!


Once again I am reminded of the variety of gifts given to us in each month and love being a seasonal homemaker.

The seasonal homemaker looks to her surroundings for domestic inspiration...

She cooks with what the Creator provides in the appropriate season as she is able (or she preserves what she can to extend it delights), she decorates with the bounty of nature’s offerings in each seasonal landscape and she takes her cue from creation in the winter as she bunkers down into a cozy little cave called home.  There is never a dull moment for her as she is constantly challenging herself to creatively utilize what she has available... it’s a bit of a hobby to some and a lifestyle for others. Either way, the seasons make a homemaker’s life lovely and full of variation.

I have taken advantage of the last of the citrus season... I baked an orange glazed coffee cake (pictured above). This yeasted cake used two whole juicy oranges (rind included) from a neighboring tree.

🧑 🍊 

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven...”
~ Ecclesiastes 3:1


I also made up a batch of these lemon tea cookies. I'm not talented in decoration skills but have enjoyed using nature to embellish my bakes! These are all ready for the picking! In addition, I have made and shared an "orange crazy bundt cake" and "lemon crazy cup-cakes" with my citrus produce if you are interested in the recipes. Both are quite frugal and (might I say?) fabulous? 


I've also dried a batch of lemon and orange slices. I will use them to flavor my teas, in simmering potpourri, as decorative garlands (shown above in the winter pantry post) and I'll be making scented wax sachets with them soon! I'm very much looking forward to that little project.


Shown here is a small batch of Meyer Lemon Honey Jam I preserved. These will be nice swirled into teas as well! Little by little the pantry begins to grow... The recipe was found at Food in Jars.


I've made up some homespun style "Scripture Sachets" filled with lavender buds. I am hoping this little project has cheered up a special young lady. These last few months I've also shared some DIY Dinner Napkins and Embellished Some Ordinary Kitchen Linens with Lace. What joy these little items have added to my kitchen dwelling!


A few months ago, a big batch of my daughter’s old dresses which I had lent out over the years were returned to me. I have spent a good part of the winter restoring them. 

I carefully washed all the dresses in cold water and put aside the ones with stubborn stains. Then I went through the inventory of dresses to see which had missing buttons, tiny tears and little holes. 

Slowly I have been working on each dress to bring it back to its “former glory”. In taking care of these little things, we are showing our family that their history is important. That new isn’t always necessary if we maintain the old. That being a steward of the blessings in our home is vital to the preservation of the home. That if we take care of what we have, the next generation is ensured a special earthly legacy. 

(All this -- and perhaps more -- is communicated in the humble mending basket.)

There is “a time to tear apart and a time to sew together...” 
~ Ecclesiastes 3:7


March brought in a bit of sunshine into my world!

I do feel bad declaring I’ve begun foraging while others are knee deep in snow. But when I saw the baby crop of dandelions appear on our lawn last month, I just had to gather. With a small basket in hand, I picked and delighted in the cool, crisp winter sun. I laid the flowers out carefully on a clean linen cloth on a dainty little tray to dry.  They have finished up nicely. Though they yielded but a few cups, I am still pleased as I add another jar to my home apothecary.


There is something deeply satisfying about a slow curated collection of herbs... based on what you harvest yourself... it is a gentle, seasonal blessing to your home.

πŸ’›


The humble dandelion boasts many benefits and would be a lovely herb to start children on. With a nice dried jar of it, you can make nourishing salves, lotion bars and/or tonics (dandelion detoxes, is a diuretic, digestive bitter, skin healer and muscle soother to name a few attributes). The apothecary labels are from our Etsy shop.

Here is my happy batch of dandelion lotion bars I've prepared with them. 🌼 The recipe was found at Calico and Twine.


I continue to do routine maintenances in the kitchen as the seasons change... I spray down the countertops with a Castile soap and water solution. I scrub the sink with baking soda infused with lemon essential oil. I clean the toaster oven and removed crumbs from the tray. I wipe down and refill the canister jars with more flour, sugar and coffee. I assess the foods displayed on the counter to see what requires attention as it manages the gleanings of each season. Is it time to place the eggs in a smaller vessel? Do the basket of lemons need using up more quickly?

It is not a picture perfect kitchen as there is always a project brewing on the sill, infusing in a jar or fermenting on the sink. It sautΓ©s, bakes, roasts, fries, boils and preserves. It gets messy and becomes clean. It gets reduced and is restocked.

It is a working kitchen and it is the heartbeat of the home.

(Note: the canister labels are also sold in our Etsy shop.)


I preserved another batch of chicken/vegetable stock as I needed to be making more room in our freezer for the upcoming garden produce. We had some older layers which my husband “processed” in the winter. I made a batch of this broth with them and added a few smaller containers of cooked boneless chicken back into the freezer from them. Though I love the convenience of the canned room-temperature broths, I think my favorite part is lining the finished jars up on the pantry shelf. I’m simple like that...


And now here is the March Pantry...

This is my little shelf of what I was able to preserve and harvest this last month (based on seasonal resources). Though a humble offering, it managed to increase our provisions just the same...

— fresh white roses, clipped from our blooming bushes

— 6 small jars of Meyer lemon honey jam (using gifted fruit from a friend’s tree)

— 7 quarts of chicken/vegetable stock 

— 2 cups of dried dandelion flower herb, foraged

— dandelion garland, to be added to the jar of herbs once dried 

We will see what April brings our way...


As far as watching movies and such goes, I have found much interest in The Great British Baking Show! Have any of you watched it? I know I am behind in these kinds of things but it is so inspiring to see how others bake, to get tips and just the creativity in general! 

(Pictured above are some Einkorn flour ginger cookies I baked.)


Though I have been reading snippets of books and such here and there, I haven't honestly finished anything quite yet. It has been a busy few months with family and the Holy Days that just passed and I tried to give my whole heart to that! There was lots of planning and preparing and baking in general for those gatherings but I like to keep those sacred memories private...


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 and hearing about your homemaking projects always inspires me! In the meantime, I have some spring cleaning to start!

Happily homemaking,
♡ JES


"Homemaking -- not in the sense of housekeeping, but in the broader sense of cultivating the life of a home -- has to be done on purpose.

The essence of home, you see, in not necessarily a structure. What makes a home is the life shared theme, wherever that may be. And cultivating the life of home requires intentionality, planning and design. There must be someone (or several someones) to craft the life, the beauty, the love, and the inspiration that overflows from that place."

~ The Life Giving Home by Sally & Sarah Clarkson 

🌹

“There is profit in all labor...”
~Proverbs 14:23a

“Greater love hath no man than this,
that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
~ John 15:13

"Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
She looketh well to the ways of her household,
and eateth not the bread of idleness."
~ Proverbs 31:10, 27

(the books linked on this post are affiliate links)

12 comments:

  1. Oh I love that you are preserving your daughter's dresses - how endearing & what sweet prints. Also, I have a recipe for dandelion jelly, my son's favorite. If you'd like it, just holler. Making use of something ill-regarded by so many is a reward in and of itself, but healing powers and yummy flavors are even better.

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    1. Thank you 🌹🌹🌹 I'm hoping she will have a daughter one day to wear them also! And if not, maybe a grand-daughter! I would LOVE your recipe for the dandelion jelly! I've been wanting to can something floral this spring and this sounds perfect!!! :) Thank you!!!

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  2. Thank you for reminding us of the benefits of dandelions. I use to make dandelion jelly, but now I just make it as syrup. Lemon juice really gives it some zing! Thanks to you, I will dry dandelions as well. Can't wait to make the lotion bars and the lemon jam.
    Also I'm loving my copy of your book!
    Blessings to you!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for taking the time to share! The syrup sounds wonderful ♥️

      And thank you for the feedback on our Ebook! That makes my day 😊

      May your week be a lovely, peaceful and productive one!

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  3. About three years ago I stuck the very bottom of four green onions in a pot on my deck and they are still going strong. It has been quite a surprise but they have weathered heat and drought and snow and ice and just keep on going! Occasionally they have just needed to be cut back because they looked scruffy but they have always come back strong.

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    1. Oh my goodness! That is amazing! I'll have to try repotting outside also ♥️

      Have a lovely week Lana 😊

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  4. Well, that explains why my green onions don't regrow--I need to use a recycled jar! Lovely post as always. I am working on creating a small kitchen garden outside the laundry room, cleaning the patio for use this summer, and just catching up on everything else around the house.

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    1. Yes that's it πŸ˜‚

      Those are all lovely pursuits! A touch of spring cleaning and nesting ♥️

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  5. Those ginger cookies are delicious looking! I've been slacking in my homemaking, I'm dealing with a couple of health issues that leave me bed bound quite a bit. I am missing tidying and doing all the little things my boys have come to love and appreciate so. My little herbal cabinet is getting quite the use and when I'm well and summer has hit I'll be taking advantage of my herbal garden to build things back up. I'm reading quite a bit though, I've loved An Old Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott again.

    Take care.

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    1. There is a season for everything... I think we have all been there! May you have a speedy recovery and an abundant herb harvest! And "Old Fashioned Girl" is one of my favorites! I absolutely love that book ♥️♥️♥️ And thank you about the ginger cookies :) They were delicious ♥️

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  6. What a delightful post Jes! I too have been pottering about doing a little spring cleaning task here and there, and nurturing my seeds and seedlings, waiting for spring! ( we had 5” snow on Monday) the only wild flowers that are out here are coltsfoot, which I have read is not recommended to use as an amateur herbalist, although coltsfoot candy is an old remedy for coughs. I wonder if anyone has experience of using it? Indoors I have been catching up on my mending too, with the menfolks jumpers needing darning, and rips and catches in their work pants needing patching. I have just cast on a new pair of socks, to carry with me and knit when I have a few minutes. A book I have really enjoyed reading and wanted to share here is “A well kept home- household traditions and simple secrets of a French grandmother” by Laura Fronty and Yves Duronsoy. Published in 2001, it is a charming book that may still be available in the library system.

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    1. Hi Gill, it's so nice to hear from you! Thank you for sharing ♥️

      And do you know what.... I had owned that beautiful book you spoke of! But I had to leave it behind on my move 😞 thank you for the reminder! I shall have to find a copy again.. it had such sweet little homemaking hints in it with gorgeous pictures ♥️

      May spring come your way soon friend πŸƒ πŸƒ πŸƒ

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