Thursday, March 31, 2022

February 2022 Homemaking Newsletter

“Babies need not to be taught a trade, but to be introduced to a world. To put the matter shortly, woman is generally shut up in a house with a human being at the time when he asks all the questions that there are, and some that there aren't. It would be odd if she retained any of the narrowness of a specialist. Now if anyone says that this duty of general enlightenment (even when freed from modern rules and hours, and exercised more spontaneously by a more protected person) is in itself too exacting and oppressive, I can understand the view. I can only answer that our race has thought it worth while to cast this burden on women in order to keep common-sense in the world. But when people begin to talk about this domestic duty as not merely difficult but trivial and dreary, I simply give up the question. For I cannot with the utmost energy of imagination conceive what they mean. When domesticity, for instance, is called drudgery, all the difficulty arises from a double meaning in the word. If drudgery only means dreadfully hard work, I admit the woman drudges in the home, as a man might drudge at the Cathedral of Amiens or drudge behind a gun at Trafalgar. But if it means that the hard work is more heavy because it is trifling, colorless and of small import to the soul, then as I say, I give it up; I do not know what the words mean. To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labours, and holidays; to be Whitely within a certain area, providing toys, boots, cakes and books; to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can imagine how this can exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone and narrow to be everything to someone? No, a woman's function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute.” 
- G.K. Chesterton

Dearest homemaker, welcome to my "February Homemaking Newsletter". This is a place in which we chat about homemaking happenings and any other ponderings which do not fit into its own post (as Mr. Chesterton says, we discuss a "woman's gigantic function"). It is simply some old fashioned, Titus-2 chit-chat... would you like to join in?

One of the projects I did this month involved my first aid books. During a conversation at the dinner table, I asked my family which "emergencies" they felt were a concern for our household the most. I thought I might flag them for convenience (yes, this is the way my brain works when I get involved in projects πŸ™ˆ). 

As I was reading all the horrific scenarios, it became apparent that ALL of the "first response" section should be tabbed (just a normal dinner conversation in our home πŸ™ˆ).

And so I used different colors to have the separate sections stand out. This is not a professional job in the least but it is finished and will be included in my medical preparedness section. Here is my little humble sheet of tabs in case you want to print some out for your books. It's nothing fancy but will save you a few minutes of typing and thought. 

I've also been trying out some new recipes and thought I would share a few of our favorites. This one is loaded sweet potato fries. We all really enjoyed it but my husband didn't care for the so-called "cheese sauce" so I drizzled a mayo sriracha sauce atop his. I also replaced the bacon for seasoned ground beef. You will find this recipe here from The Paleo Running Momma

Then there are these beef taco bowls which were also quite tasty! You arrange salad greens in a medium sized bowl for each family member, top with sliced cherry tomatoes, ground beef (which has been seasoned with taco seasoning), cubed avocado which has been mixed with diced red onions, freshly squeezed lime juice and salt and pepper. Sprinkle salad with snippets of green onion. I drizzled my homemade Italian dressing (the recipe for the mix is found here) along with more lime juice squeezed over the top of the salad. Sprinkle the bowl with freshly chopped cilantro and garnish with tortilla chips. Simple and tasty! The neat part is that citrus is in season, the avocado was from my folk's tree, the green onion is from my indoor garden and the cilantro is from our potted garden. 

And finally, this healthy and hearty beef stir fry! You will also find this recipe at Paleo Running Momma which was quite tasty and easy as well.

I also somehow got caught up in a month of making my own hamburger buns (and my freezer is full for future meals)! It was one of those things that I just never made but it truly elevates a simple hamburger sandwich to have freshly baked buns! 

I tried a few recipes and a few recipe alterations and finally was pleased with this result. I used the no-knead cheese burger buns recipe from King Arthur Flour but omitted the onion powder as my family didn't care for it. 

I doubled the recipe and froze the remaining buns. I also made the 3 oz. size bun as I felt theirs was too large. I prefer a meatier sandwich with less bread.

“Labor, honest labor, is mighty and beautiful."
~ The Royal Path of Life, 1882

Then there was a day of slicing, zesting, infusing, drying, juicing and preserving… It’s good, clean and honest work. And because the Good Lord has instructed us to “keep the home” and “work with your own hands”, I do consider it “holy” work.

"For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread."

~2 Thessalonians 3:10-12

Some may think they need to have a high profile ministry to successfully serve Him (and they put aside the home for it) when all that is required is simple obedience to God which revolves around the home (Titus 2:4-5). This is your holy work. This is your high profile ministry!

Produced for our home that day:

- 2 ice cube trays lemon juice (measuring out 2 Tbsp. per cube)

- 3 dehydrator trays lemon slices (to be used in tea, potpourri, and garnish) (more ideas here)

- 2 dehydrator trays dried zest (for cooking, baking and handcrafted body products) (more ideas here)

- 6 half-pint jars of lemon drop jelly (recipe here)

- Huge jug of the lemon scraps infusing in vinegar to be used for:

     - Fabric softener/laundry freshener/whitener

     - Rinse aid in dishwasher

     - Cleaning solution (recipes here)

I have found that placing the peels in a dispenser jar makes for easy decanting on larger projects! We have had a lot of citrus this year and this little system has been a lifesaver. 

“O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.”
~ Psalm 34:8

Here is the final contents of my "February Preserving Shelf":

- lemon drop jelly (6 half-pint jars)

- dried lemon slices (half-gallon jar)

- dried lemon zest (half-pint jar)

- small pitcher of roses (dried last year for winter decoration)

- rosebud garland (dried last year for winter decoration)

I also made some vanilla rose-scented bath products which I did post about. You will find the recipes all HERE!

"Order is the shape upon which beauty depends."
~ Pearl Buck

While waiting for spring’s gentle arrival, I’ve also been doing some home “maintenancing” (not technically a word but it should be πŸ’πŸ»‍♀️). It’s a mix of organization and some “light” deep cleaning.

Here is my master bedroom list:

Organize drawers ✔️ 

Organize closet ✔️ 

Wash dust ruffle ✔️ 

Wipe ceiling fan ✔️ 

Dust wooden blinds ✔️ 

If you keep clutter and what you own to a minimum, then this shouldn’t take too long. After living in a small farmhouse, I’ve learned to be intentional with what I own. If this task seems overwhelming, then “your stuff” may own you… a day of purging and donating will remedy that. I try and do this maintenance quarterly (though ideally it’s done monthly). I have a little printable “list” HERE should you like to try out this Victorian system. It was suggested by the Beecher sisters in the 1800’s and I have modified it a bit for modern day usage. It's a bit of old fashioned domesticity! 

"There is no doubt that it is around the family and the home that all the greatest virtues, the most dominating virtues of human society are created, strenghtened and maintained."
~ Winston Churchill 

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,


  1. I envy you your lemons! I grew up in San Diego with a wonderfully fruitful lemon tree in the back yard. Since moving away in 1990 I've never lived where I could grow a lemon tree so am reduced to buying poorer quality fruit at exorbitant prices.
    This month I've been fasting from internet news sites, social media, etc. except for a few carefully selected uplifting blogs, to clear my mind and heart and have a spiritual reset. It has been totally worth it.
    I did pick up and begin reading "the life-changing magic of tidying up" by Marie Kondo. I resisted because I have read so many books on the subject since the 90's when I read Don Aslett's books (which are really fun!). But I'm glad I am reading it now. She has given me food for thought and a new perspective on simplifying.
    The weather here in Minnesota continues to be winter like and depressing. Others talk about readying their gardens and planting, we're still shoveling snow and wearing long johns!
    Some of our children will be visiting this weekend to enjoy together a General Conference of our church broadcast from Salt Lake City. It's a twice a year spiritual feast, and a great time to gather families and enjoy time together.
    Thanks for your encouragement and sharing of knowledge. You're a gem!

    1. Oh that family visit sounds wonderful!! I would already be thinking of all the things I can bake for them in that chilly weather you still have!!! Thank you so much for taking the time to share! Those tidying up books are always so inspiring before a good spring cleaning :)

  2. Yum! Homemade buns have been on my mental list for several weeks. All those lemons sound so summery and refreshing. I always keep Cayenne tincture here for heart attacks since my husband has had two and it will stop one quick.

    Your King Arthur Flour link doesn't go to a recipe.

    1. Hi Lana, I did hear about taking a teaspoon of cayenne in water for heart attacks but never thought of a tincture... much quicker!!! I might have to make one! Also, thank you for the link information... I have fixed it! :)

  3. Hi Jes. Where did you get that white pitcher with the pink flower on it that is holding your dried roses ? It is absolutely beautiful !!!!

    1. Thank you!!! I love it!!! It was from a hole-in-the-wall thrift store for $3... I couldn't resist it!

  4. Hi, JES!
    I always feel inspired when I read your blog! I've already set aside the links to those mouthwatering recipes, so that I can try them later. They look delicious!
    We also have a first aid book, but I never thought of using tabbs to mark the first response sections. That's genius!
    Although we weren't blessed with babies, I too believe a woman's function is gigantic and a privilege, so I try to make our home a blessed place. A place where we can rest, pray, laugh, cry and love.
    Some days I have more success than others, but I'm trying to do my best and I know that Our God and Father gives me (and all of us that believe and rely on Him) the strenght and wisdom needed.
    Last year, I found Emilie and Bob Barnes books and I'm trying to start a collection. Her books are so lovely and godly and I feel the same sense of peace, that I feel when I read your blog.
    Oh and I bought some of Bob Barnes books to my husband and he loves them!
    Have a wonderful weekend and God bless you and your family, dear JES!

    1. Dear Paula, thank you so much for sharing! I also love the Emilie Barnes books, such a treasure of encouragement. And like you said, we do our best but sometimes we have our moments. Keeping ourselves connected with inspiring words and the Scriptures certainly helps to keep us on track :)

  5. Debby in Kansas USAApril 2, 2022 at 11:33 AM

    Morning, Jes!
    Prior to my parent's divorce, there was only one time that I truly thought my mom might wallop my dad. He cut down our lemon tree!! My mom and I had gone to NM to visit family (from So. CA) and when we got home, the lemon tree was gone from the backyard. My mom shrieked so loud that I think only dogs could hear her. We all loved that tree and it's delicious fruit. Except my dad, apparently. He had no clue how upset we'd all be!

    All of your projects are just lovely. Practical and beautiful decor! Citrus fruit costs a lot here. Last week I was celebrating my $1.29 grapefruit! On the bright side, it was juicy and delicious.

    I'm in a current state where my stuff definitely owns me. We're in a house with a basement that's bigger than our whole house was in California! It's great for storage, but easy to ignore. We used it all when we moved in, but as we've aged, the plan was to live entirely on the main floor. The basement is for storms and we moved our guest room down there because we have a large windowed room with a private full bath....and lots of stuff!! Our summer project is to start going through all of it. Egads! It's nice and cool down there in summer so it's a great time to do it.

    We just painted some of the living room walls and added new curtains so it all looks so pretty and bright. We had a bit of a soot accident from the fireplace in December so it was necessary. It helped us get an early start on spring cleaning,though it was a MESS!

    I spent this past week starting on some Christmas gifts. Always nice to get most of them done early. Fall seems to be our busiest season.

    Again, it's all so pretty! I noticed that many of your clothes have lacy touches. Do you buy them that way or sew them yourself? I love how feminine they are!

    Take care!

    1. Gulp. That lemon tree incident would have taken a lot of self control!!! ;)

      Thank you for for sharing all of your homemaking projects! Every bit of change and organization certainly makes a difference and breathes fresh air into our homes which is lovely!

      Regarding the clothes, I tend to gravitate toward anything with florals and lace. Though I do have plans to modify some clothing myself, so far what you see is what I have purchased here and there... Thank you for your kindness towards my wardrobe ♡ I do prefer the feminine styles ♡♡♡

  6. Debby in Kansas USAApril 6, 2022 at 8:16 AM

    Jes, I was hoping you would tell me where to find the "tons of Beatrix Potter DIY projects in Stories" that you mentioned on your Instagram post. I'm clueless and I love love those projects! Thanks!

    1. Thank you! I will add it to the feature bar on the right hand corner this month and here is also the link ;)

  7. Thank you for the newsletter and inspiration! I read this last week and wanted to tell you how inspiring it has been. We will be enjoying chili fries tonight, much like your loaded sweet potato fries. Lord bless you as elevate the ministry of homemaking!

    1. Such a nice thing for me to read this evening! Thank you so much! :)