Thursday, October 28, 2021

A True Home ~ Snippets

A true home...

built with prayers, sweat and tears,

a place to alleviate life's trials and fears.

“And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.”
~ Matthew 7:25


Dearest homemaker, continue to quietly build up your home, your efforts are never in vain. It takes guts, strength and determination but with His help you shall triumph through the bad weather.

Pictured: Savory spinach “parable”  pie πŸ₯§

Monday, October 25, 2021

September 2021 Homemaking Newsletter (Autumn Nesting)

“I was brought up to believe in the modern myth that housekeeping is only drudgery, and the housewife is a downtrodden martyr. I thought that any seemingly contented housewives were only ‘making the best of it.’ When I first began housekeeping in my own home, I felt that I had entered the ranks of the mistreated.

After a time I began to realize, to my amazement, that I didn’t feel at all downtrodden, and that I was thoroughly enjoying myself. I began to look at other domestic ‘martyrs’ from a new angle, and I have learned many things.

I have found that there is romance in housework: and charm in it; and whimsy and humor without end. I have found that the housewife works hard, of course–but likes it. Most people who amount to anything do work hard, at whatever their job happens to be. The housewife’s job is home-making, and she is, in fact, ‘making the best of it’; making the best of it by bringing patience and loving care to her work; sympathy and understanding to her family; making the best of it by seeing all the fun in the day’s incidents and human relationships.

The housewife realizes that home-making is an investment in happiness. It pays everyone enormous dividends. There are huge compensations for the actual labor involved…

There are unhappy housewives, of course. But there are unhappy stenographers and editresses and concert singers. The housewife whose songs I sing as I go about my work, is the one who likes her job.”

~ Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might…”
~ Ecclesiastes 9:10a

Greetings gentle reader! I've been homemaking with all my heart because He said to. Do you join me in the Titus 2 forces? If so, perhaps you would care to read along in another monthly update in which we chat about books read, things watched, homemaking projects and any other ponderings which do not fit into its own post. It is simply an old-fashioned homemaking newsletter. 

As we enter fall, we did our final preserving of "meat in the summer”...

I’ve processed 14 pints of freshly-caught-by-husband, bluefin-tuna. I pressure canned it with homegrown jalapeΓ±os, Himalayan pink salt, freshly ground pepper and topped the jars with olive oil. I can’t wait to open that first lid… HERE is the instructions for pressure canning the tuna that I used.

"There be four things which are little upon the earth
but they are exceeding wise:
The ants are a people not strong,
yet they prepare their meat in the summer…"
~ Proverbs 30:24-25

Sometimes a quiet morning spent measuring, pouring and packaging is tender therapy for all the loud things of this world. When you infuse this time with prayer, it can be powerful therapy. 

I’ve made these botanical perfumes as gifts for some lovely women in our church. I call them "relaxing rose perfumes". 

To prepare this all-natural essential oil blend, place 3 tiny dried rose buds inside a 10 ml glass roll-on bottle. Add 2 tsp. almond oil (or carrier oil of choice), 3 drops of geranium essential oil, 2 drops of Peru balsam essential oil, 1 drop of lavender (or frankincense) essential oil and 1 drop of sandalwood (or patchouli) essential oil. Top off the bottle with more carrier oil if necessary. Put on roller cap/lid and shake well. Your “relaxing rose” perfume is ready to use!

And now, you have also successfully bottled up some lovely aroma-therapy!

I've also begun infusing some of my favorite flowers in olive oil to make a lovely, floral, feminine salve. Here is the tutorial. These too, make lovely gifts!

As you can see, as the garden dwindled down, I became involved in many herbal homemaking projects. These prairie candles were so enjoyable to make and I shared the tutorial HERE in case you are interested. 

I've also been enjoying some autumn nesting… There are many methods to embracing the change of seasons in the home. It is probably one of the most enjoyable of the homemaking arts! My preference is in embellishing with everyday “replacements”. I’ve been a little squirrel packing away fall treasures in anticipation of my favorite season. Here is how I’m infusing autumn into our home:

- I’ll be replacing my every day dishes with this thrift-store “curated” collection of plates in browns, yellows & oranges. There are four different designs but I think they “match” beautifully.

- The cottage printed plate will replace a summery rose plate I have hanging on the wall. This will bring “warmth“ into the kitchen (shown in action on second-to-last picture on this post).

- I’ve collected a few secondhand baking dishes at thrift stores in browns. I will be using these to serve our meals. One is a vintage Pyrex & the other is a brown glass dish which came in a sweet custom-sized wicker serving basket!

- I have brought out my beeswax tapers & brass candlestick holders to enjoy once again.

- I’ve saved our butternut squash harvest to make our favorite soup come October. In the meantime, they are a lovely seasonal centerpiece.

- I will now be using the autumn inspired no-sew “prairie napkins” I made (shared below). It’s always fun to introduce new linens into the fold.

- I’ll be removing the white summer linen sheets and bedding and replacing them with a darker print sheet set and heavier down duvet.

- And lastly, I placed all my autumn inspired (thrifted) fabrics in a basket in order to prepare some projects for the home (this is written for accountability πŸ˜‰). I had recently done a deep cleaning with some reorganizing. When I went through my closet, I saw all the secondhand sheets & flannels I found for great prices. But it isn’t great when it becomes clutter! Therefore, this will be my seasonal sewing basket (now you are my witnesses). I must produce!

What are your cozy home plans?

I repurposed another thrifted vintage fitted sheet into a set of “autumn prairie” napkins (without sewing)... I’m in love with this “snip-and-rip” process! I had made a set for spring and have used them constantly. I can’t wait to bring in the “new” fall collection. It’s so enjoyable to prepare handcrafted items for your home each season (especially when it costs next to nothing).

When I had purchased the secondhand sheet set, I really only wanted the flat sheet (I’ll share that project once finished) but since the fitted sheet came with it, I was obligated to put it to use (it’s in my frugal OCD nature πŸ˜‰).

This set of napkins took me five minutes to measure and rip-to-size along with a slow evening spent pulling off excess threads. 

A step-by-step tutorial is shared HERE if you are interested.

These simple napkins give me such pleasure! To turn something obsolete into something useful plain gives me the happy homemaking chills ✨ have you felt that thrill I’m speaking of? when you repurpose little items to embellish your home life?

When purchasing something brand new and mass-produced, there is truly no comparison to the joy one gets from creating something from a castaway nothing.

“…it was not what one had that was important,
but what one made.” 
~ Elizabeth Goudge

I have also been baking up a storm. It seems like the moment the seasons change is the moment that oven becomes alive again after the heat of summer. I always double the recipe for my cookies and freeze the extra for impromptu company. It comes in so handy! 

“It is true that all men are created in the image of God, but Christians are supposed to be conscious of that fact, and being conscious of it should recognize the importance of living artistically, aesthetically, and creatively, as creative creatures of the Creator. If we have been created in the image of an Artist, then we should look for expressions of artistry, and be sensitive to beauty, responsive to what has been created for us.” 
~ Edith Schaeffer

Perhaps this explains my love for pretty plates, lace curtains and dainty linens. It is a practical form of homemaking art that we can adorn our homes with. Why limit beauty to just paintings and portraits on the walls? Some of us like to sprinkle it into all our little tasks and rituals as a daily act of love. With the existence of thrift stores, it is possible to be a domestic artist in even the leanest of household budgets.

“He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much…”
~ Luke 16:10

Pictured: freshly baked oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (another work of homemaking art ☺️).

As far as books and movies go, my daughter and I have been on a fall frenzy and cozied up with popcorn and rented a Hallmark film called "Autumn Dreams". It was sweet and everything you expect in a Hallmark movie. We've also been reading lots of old home decoration books that we have found thrifting. It truly is a time for nesting. 

P.S. I added some new labels in our Etsy shop this month! These dainty calico printed labels are 2.5 inches (and are waterproof and removable) and could be used in so many ways: pantry labels, canning labels, homemade product labels, crafting labels, etc. Just wanted to share!

Pictured below: "Autumn nesting"... the replacement of that one “cottage” plate on the wall turns summer into cozy fall… 

Dearest homemaker, 

Now more than ever, the home needs to be a place of peace. Perhaps even a place of Aw and wonder as we face such ugliness in the world. The home should feel safe, comforting and most importantly, sacred. That each person who enters knows they have entered a refuge from the current reality. It is the way to show our children that THIS is what is “normal” and good. That there is so much difference in these walls from the world’s that their souls will instinctively know that God resides here and they will have a strong desire to be here also.

"My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation,
In secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places..."
~ Isaiah 32:18

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! Also, I have been having trouble with my links. If you decide to click on any of them, would you mind letting me know if they are proper (in other words, do you find you end up where you expect to)? I am trying to troubleshoot this... but in the meantime I'm...

Happily homemaking,

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

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

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

“The magic of autumn has seized the countryside; now that the sun isn't ripening anything it shines for the sake of the golden age; for the sake of Eden; to please the moon for all I know.” 
~ Elizabeth Coatsworth, Personal Geography

With each season, I am determined to make a crazy cake to compliment it... Because they don't require milk, eggs or butter, they are a perfect (and frugal) recipe to keep on hand for a rainy day or have ready in the spirit of preparedness or make for someone with food allergies or simply because they are an "everything from the pantry" creation (which you know I am obsessed with)! With items not always being available at the supermarket these days, I love to have these kinds of recipes as beautiful back up. So far I have shared Apply Crazy Cake, Banana Crazy CakeZucchini Crazy Cake, Chocolate Banana Crazy CakeCarrot Crazy Cake, Lemon Crazy Cake and Orange Crazy Cake. May I now present to you the crazy cake that can be prepared with either pumpkin or butternut squash puree? You can make them with a canned good from the pantry or pick a pumpkin from the patch! Either way this cake is an ode to fall and is a perfect seasonal treat.

To begin, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease an 8 by 8 inch square baking pan. I was fortunate enough to find this pumpkin shaped pan for a dollar at the thrift store and I couldn't resist it! 

Dry Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 c. + 2 tbsp. flour (all purpose or gluten-free flour blend) 
  • 1 c. white sugar 
  • 1 tbsp. Pumpkin pie spice (use only 1-2 tsp. if you're not into those kinds of spices)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda (use 1 1/2 tsp. is using gluten-free flour blend) 
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 
Wet Ingredients: 
  • 5 tbsp. vegetable oil (we use sunflower) 
  • 1 tsp. white vinegar (use apple cider vinegar for gluten-free version) 
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract 
  • 1 c. water 
  • 1 c. Pureed pumpkin or butternut squash 
Measure out and mix all the dry ingredients together in your prepared baking pan (or in a large baking bowl if you have an odd shaped pan like I used). Make three wells in the baking pan, making sure one is large enough to contain the oil. (You will find more detailed pictures in the apple crazy cake recipe in case this is a new concept for you.) Pour the oil into the largest well and the vinegar and vanilla separately into the other impressions. Pour water over all the contents, add the puree and carefully mix your ingredients until combined and smooth. 

Bake for 35 - 40 minutes (it is finished when a toothpick inserted inside the center comes out clean). Cool on wire rack. Once it is completely cooled, you may frost it.

I used the recipe for icing from Sally's Baking Addiction and simply opted for the version using one cup of powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract and 3 Tbs. heavy cream. This had a thicker consistency when using cream (rather than milk) which I liked for the heavy drizzle effect I desired. The nuts of course are optional but I felt the pecans added a pretty touch.

While I did include a printable link for this recipe HERE, some people have been having problems accessing our printables so I inserted a picture of the recipe below. Perhaps it can be printed directly from the picture? I would love some feedback to see if this works... or if you are able to access the file and print it via Google Docs with my recipe link. Either one I would be quite curious about! 

Now, this recipe can go inside your basic recipe book. It can also go into your preparedness notebook as it is a purely pantry recipe that can definitely come in handy. Or, it can go into your garden cookbook under winter squash. Decisions, decisions! What are your thoughts? To be honest, I will place it in all three as I don't like having all my eggs in one basket. 

“I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself,
than be crowded on a velvet cushion.” 
~ Henry David Thoreau

And that is all there is to it my friends. This recipe comes together in minutes and is so very moist. I do hope you give it a try as baking is what autumn is all about in my world... As well as a cozy sofa full of throw blankets, hot cups of creamy liquids, candles, warm sweaters... I could go on and on! But I know you have much to do so I will leave you with a "happy homemaking"! 

Monday, October 11, 2021

The Hidden Life of a Homemaker ~ Snippets

No one sees the tears you wiped this very morning... no one sees the moments you keep quiet in order to maintain peace... no one sees the stress you carry (since you still smile) with the current "situations"... no one sees the messes you clean in order to keep cozy... no one sees the pie you baked in order to bring joy to the sorrowful... no one sees the sacrifices you make every hour of the day... no one sees what you go without so that others may have plenty... no one sees the prayers you send up for every one of those souls in your home and in your heart... 

No one sees... but Him.

Glory Hallelujah.

"For the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs."

~ George Eliot

“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven."

~ Matthew 6:1


(Note: These little "snippets" shared here and there are from some of my more special Instagram posts that I feel some of you may enjoy that aren't on it...)

Saturday, October 2, 2021

July/August 2021 Homemaking Newsletter (Plus Extra Pantry Talk)

"In her notes, she wrote that homekeeping wasn't just a matter of cleaning a house; it was a matter of presentation, hospitality, entertaining, etiquette, organizing, letter writing, caring for loved ones, cooking, sewing, and just plain general information that made for a thoughtful, meaningful, and considered life."

~ Mrs. Dunwoody's Excellent Instructions for Homekeeping by Miriam Lukken

Greetings my gentle readers! And here we find ourselves with another bi-monthly update in which we speak peacefully about books read, things watched, homemaking projects and any other ponderings which do not fit into its own post. It is simply an old-fashioned homemaking newsletter. Would you like to join me in our little home for the happenings of July and August?

“He is happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home.”

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I did spend much time in reorganizing and deep cleaning our home for the cozy autumn months ahead. This is what spurred on my herbal projects that I had posted of late. To go through all your closets and baskets and see what you put aside, compelled me to start making use of those lovely things and put to order everything else. I also have been quite intentional with my pantry as you shall soon see!

“Home life is important and housekeeping should be an enjoyable part of it.” 

Making pretty places in the home is something I find immense pleasure in doing. I love to create useful themed “areas” and bask in the organized beauty. In this case, I noticed a frantic rush for extra towels and linens whenever we would have overnight guests. Therefore, I carved out a little space in our spare-room closet to host these extra items for convenience. This is where my thrifted cotton sheet collection has become quite handy! Don’t forget a stack of fresh bath towels which feels luxuriously relaxing because the excess “closet things” are stored away in secondhand baskets. The delightful detail of fragrant soaps (also useful), tucked inside the linens, generously scents the air when one opens the tiny doors. These little homemaking scenes add such satisfaction to my homemaking senses! Do you like to make useful nooks and zones in your sweet sanctuary?

I also made up these scented wax sachets (in order to use up some of my herbal inventory and add a delightful scent to my "now" organized closets and drawers). You will find the DIY project here if you are interested. This autumn nesting was quite enjoyable. 

I also did much baking and have been adding to my freezer for spur of the moment hospitality. It feels good to have stacks of goodies to share on a moments notice or to take to someone for a spontaneous visit. I have been trying to put aside one day of the week for such baking activities. Cookies and bars freeze well and I always double the recipes to maximize my output. All that is left to do when folks arrive is fire up the tea kettle and brew a nice hot batch of coffee!

A large part of my days have also been spent in making the most of our harvests. I try to cook with our garden produce for all our meals and freeze the excess for future meals. There is nothing like homegrown vegetable dishes in the autumn and winter months. We had much summer squashes and I have tried to preserve every single ounce. 

How to store a zillion zucchini in a quarter-of-a-square foot. 

Dice and dehydrate. Dice and dehydrate. Dice and… 🎢 Until the whole army has been defeated πŸ”ͺπŸ˜‰ 

I’ll use this surplus with a glad heart in autumn and winter casseroles, soups, stews and sauces.

It is also a blessing to know you have “fresh” food in your Proverbs 31 pantry… The simple joy of adding another full quart of provisions to our larder shelf. To me, food in jars are beautiful home decoration!

What do you do with your excess summer squash?

Are you trying to be more intentional with your harvests this year? Visit our blog post on “gentle preparedness“ for some extra “food for thought”.

I did all the things I could do with zucchini including baking with it. I was "forced" to make these chocolate cake zucchini bars because I don't believe in waste. It was difficult but frugality must be respected and so I just had to have a piece every day to honor this homemaking tradition. 

“It is a good idea sometimes to think of the importance and dignity of our every-day duties. It keeps them from being so tiresome; besides, others are apt to take us at our own valuation.”
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder

And so I do ♥️ and being I am in the kitchen a great deal of the day, I like to create special, helpful things to make my homemaking duties go more smoothly… and give them a bit of “importance”. As it is my career, I love to do things efficiently but prettily. 

In the summer (especially with all the zucchini) we make a lot of quiches! To make meal time easier, I had put together a little printable quiche recipe kit. You will find it freshly posted HERE if you are interested in adding a bit of homemaking “dignity” into your day πŸ˜‰ 

For me, what is outside in the world is so hard to relate to, that my home becomes more of a place that defines my vision for life.

We can make a difference to our family and give them a beautiful and noble world that is not represented in this modern culture.

And while we’re at it, we can also enjoy lovely things together like grandmother’s old tablecloth, serving food on pretty thrifted platters, flowers cut from the garden, food grown fresh on your own patch of earth, reading books about all the good things this life offers (like cultivating a godly family, home-keeping, gardening, biographies of people who inspire and of course, the “Good Book”).

Don’t forget to add a basket or two for some old fashioned warmth.

Just a little recipe for life.

Plus a picture of our eggplant harvest!

I probably made this tasty Italian-inspired eggplant and rice dish (pictured) about six times this summer! We don't tire of it as this is the only time of year I prepare it. This is what makes the little garden harvests special as they come with their own seasonal menus that are a treat to all!  We had quite the eggplant crop this year so I also dehydrated a few quarts to use in winter soups and sauces. 

The tomatoes kept coming and I continued to dehydrate as much as possible. These will be added to olive oil and placed onto winter pizzas and warm sourdough bread with cheese! 

I've pureed much of the tomatoes and froze them in recycled yogurt containers. They will definitely come in handy for soup making. 

The last jars of tomatoes were preserved into salsa on the last day of August… I used the “fresh salsa” recipe from the Ball website. I look forward to adding these lovelies to the pantry. I also love the feeling of being the proverbial “ant”… 

“Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,
Provideth her meat in the summer,
and gathereth her food in the harvest.”

~ Proverbs 6:7-8

I’ve kept a “pretty pantry shelf” in our kitchen as seasonal decoration and to inspire me to continue to add to the family larder. This tiny area holds four large baskets of tomatoes (sliced and dehydrated), 10 trays of diced and dried zucchini as well as two large baskets of tomatoes (preserved raw packed in canning jars). This shelf changes monthly and has become a little beacon in the home to encourage me to continue in the old ways and to inspire me to maintain a storage of homegrown food as our ancestors did. 

“Food security is not in the supermarket. It's not in the government. It's not at the emergency services division. True food security is the historical normalcy of packing it in during the abundant times, building that in-house larder, and resting easy knowing that our little ones are not dependent on next week's farmers' market or the electronic cashiers at the supermarket.”
~ Joel Salatin, Excerpt from Folks This Ain’t Normal

It also serves as a way to feel productive in a world that feels quite counterproductive.

Pictured is the August pantry shelf contents of:

- fresh yellow roses, clipped from our blooming bushes

- (more) dried tomato slices (5 square dehydrator trays)

- diced dried eggplant (5 square dehydrator trays)

- (more) diced dried zucchini (5 square dehydrator trays)

- 8 half-pint jars of salsa

- dried cayenne garland

"And let them gather all the food of those good years that come..."
~ Genesis 41:35a

“Prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable.”
~ Gen. George S. Patton

And finally, I'd like to share my "pretend pantry"…

I shared earlier my desire to be more purposeful with filling my pantry this summer. But what I didn’t explain was my lack of space to expand it. As our home is small and our food storage is at capacity, we repurposed a bookshelf to store our excess canned and dehydrated goods. As it’s in my living room, I’ve tried to keep it looking tidy with a little lace curtain. 

I call it my “pretend pantry” as I imagine myself to be a pioneering woman preparing for the winter. I placed other items I came across at thrift stores inside to give it that homespun feel (stacks of ironstone dishes, baskets of eggs and linens). It inspires me to do that extra bit of work. Although I am currently surrounded by the convenience of grocery stores, I don’t want to lose sight of the old ways of providing for our family.

A year or so ago, we saw the modern storefront unable to provide all that the people wanted. This verified my decade-long desire to build up the larder and I’ll continue to add to our real “pretend” pantry for peace of mind.

As a child I marveled over the preparations the pioneering women did each season and I consider it an honor to partake in some of that history. It’s old fashioned but chock-full of common sense.

“The first supermarket supposedly appeared on the American landscape in 1946. That is not very long ago. Until then, where was all the food? Dear folks, the food was in homes, gardens, local fields, and forests. It was near kitchens, near tables, near bedsides. It was in the pantry, the cellar, the backyard.”
~ Joel Salatin

"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

~Theodore Roosevelt

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,

P.S. Pictured are these sweet little shabby rose "all purpose" gift tags from our Etsy Shop

“What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and work flow.” 

~ Martin Luther

“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord…”

~ Colossians 3:23

πŸ•― 🧺 πŸ•Š 

I do find this work sacred and pleasing to the Almighty because he commissioned me to do it… (Titus 2:4-5) how can it be anything but holy?

“I suppose I am a sparrow, a stay-at-home bird.” 
― Gladys Taber

“Even the sparrow has found a home, And the swallow a nest for herself, Where she may lay her young— Even Your altars, O Lord of hosts, My King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in Your house; They will still be praising You.”
— Psalm 84:3-4


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