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


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  1. Such a lovely post JES as always...Thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to share with us all. I'm so inspired by you!

    1. Thank you Terri for stopping by to visit! It makes it so fun to hear from the other side of the screen ♥️

  2. These posts are a balm to my soul. With the world as chaotic as it is, this lets me enter a world as it should be. A world I can work towards. Your words and the quotes and bible verses are so encouraging and gives me more inspiration to work towards. After visiting here, I feel I can do this!! Thanks~


    1. I am so glad to hear this!!! Bless you for taking the time to leave such kindness here ♥️

  3. Hello, Jes. I enjoyed this post so much. I am so glad to have found your blog today. It is lovely. I have been reading back posts and marked a few DIY projects to try at home. So looking forward to getting more acquainted. Have a wonderful week ahead!

    1. Hello Angie, it is very nice to "meet" you! I'm glad you found us! It's fun to gather together and exchange ideas and such ♥️ have a beautiful week!

  4. Thank you, as always. for providing a little peace and inspiration for others who are seeking to make their homes havens!

    1. It is so enjoyable to share with like minded women ♥️ thank you!

  5. Thank you for the encouragement. This is all so lovely. I love lovely things. We have also been putting up things. We also got some of the garden put in for fall. It is raining this week though so I have to wait for the garlic.

    1. Fall gardens are wonderful because the crop comes in cooler weather ♥️ in which to work with it!

  6. Such an inspiring post. Is that a Grace Pantry dish holding the eggplant and rice casserole?

    1. YES ♥️ I love their dishes!!! ♥️♥️♥️ Do you have some?

    2. No. I just discovered them. But I have a whole wishlist full now so I should be covered for Christmas for at least the next 10 years, haha.

  7. My garden is at the end of the season now, with only winter hardy kale and herbs left to harvest. Each little addition to my pantry is a happy one, though, and five withering apples made a beautiful jar of pink apple sauce yesterday. I am gradually winterising my home, as the temperatures are falling fast now. The woollen underblankets went onto the beds today, and I am rehanging my winter curtains this week. Candlelit evenings feel cosy, snuggled under a homemade afghan with a book in hand.
    I was wondering if you have any more pages in your junk journal to share?

    1. Ooohhh I love the winter homemaking scenes you described ♥️

      And thank you for the interest in the junk journal pages... I didn't get much feedback from them and wasn't sure if I should continue sharing them. I did have some other ideas and perhaps I will post them now 😊

  8. Wonderful display of all the things you do! You are surly blessed beyond measure!

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed this ♥️ ♥️ ♥️ thank you for the encouragement ♥️

  9. Beautiful. Just beautiful. I want to learn to garden and do more canning this year. Last year I canned many jars of pickles. Cucumbers came on and grew too quickly. Today I drank water with some of the cucumber juice ice cubes I made last summer. I peeled cucumbers (and seeded) and put them in the blender with some water. Then I filled ice cube trays. I kept the cubes in a ziploc in the freezer.
    Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage

    1. That is quite the clever idea!! Thank you so much for sharing that ♥️


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