“She thought to herself, "This is now." She was glad that the cozy house, and Pa and Ma and the firelight and the music, were now. They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now. It can never be a long time ago.”
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House in the Big Woods
Dear reader, I've been trying to embrace the “now” with my family and any other blessings that come along. Trying to glean the good in our lives when so much seems to surround us which isn’t… I’ve been busy making and preserving memories as well as making and preserving the seasonal produce. This is our family’s “now” and it’s very important they are taken care of and loved throughout whatever is going on in the world. These moments are their memories. As homemakers, we must continue to glean in the good of today as much as possible. The household depends upon it.
Welcome to the Spring 2022 edition of the Homemaking Newsletter. Yes, it HAS happened again that I didn't keep up with the monthly update! I'll try to condense it so this doesn't take up too much time to read. This is a place in which we chat about homemaking happenings and any other ponderings which do not fit into its own post. It is simply some old fashioned, Titus-2 chit-chat... would you like to join in?
To begin, I’ve planted many beautiful blooms throughout my home this spring and none of which require water. There are floral bouquets on teapots, rose-vined plates and sweet bud saucers. I have infused these flowers into my home to make my own version of an indoor spring garden. It’s brought a lovely change which keeps the seasons special:
- I’ll be using my thrift-store collection of floral mismatched dishes and ironstone tea cups.
- The snowy scene plate on the wall will be replaced with a vintage bouquet printed platter.
- I’ve brought out this sweet floral tea kettle (which I’ve been holding onto until spring!) from a yard sale. I skipped home with it for $1.
- I have brought out my little cream candlestick holder. Just one for spring to bring a gentle flicker to our evening meal.
- I’ve put our foraged pinecones and other winter elements away and will fill every pitcher and creamer I have with homegrown flowers all through spring and summer. I love to surprise my daughter with mini bouquets in her room.
- I’ve brought out my light colored tablecloths for a softer background for my dishes.
- I’ve changed out my darker duvet cover to a soft floral one. It feels so fresh in the bedroom!
- I placed my spring inspired (thrifted) fabrics in a basket to serve as a reminder to sew some projects for the home (some are shared below).
- And lastly, the front door has been opened and there is a beautiful breeze. The windows, cleaned and sparkling, allow the freshness of the season to cleanse the air.
“Lord, I have loved the habitation of Your house,
And the place where Your glory dwells.”
~ Psalm 28:8
“That womanly tradition of making ordinary objects serve double duty as things of beauty is alive and well in many a household and is constantly expressing itself in new ways.”
~ Emilie Barnes
I repurposed a thrifted tablecloth into “spring cottage” napkins (without sewing). Once again, I’ve implemented this simple “snip-and-rip” process. I’ve made a set for summer, autumn and winter and was therefore obligated to do spring! For a $3 investment, I was able to make 24 napkins with a bit of leftover scraps for future fun. This set of napkins took me five minutes to measure and rip-to-size along with a few slow evenings spent pulling off excess threads. Here is the tutorial link if you are interested.
I also enjoyed repurposing a damaged tablecloth into “cottage” dish cloths…
I remember when I was younger, when I needed a change of pace, I would head to Target or someplace like it. It seemed harmless to go, however a trip to Target meant to $pend at Target!
But as I aged, the wall to wall shelves of mass produced items made me dizzy. There is no end. The manufacturers keep making and we keep buying and it’s exhausting to keep up!
So one day, I stopped trying.
When I desire that “change of pace”, if it isn’t a thrift store, it’s my little closet of “potential” treasures that I go to. A place where I store pretty linens I inherited, scraps of fabric that are too lovely to let go of, attractive papers and other beautiful bits and bobs I’ve collected that may be transformed into something one-of-a-kind “one day”.
On one such visit to my little nest, I retrieved this vintage terry-cloth tablecloth which was full of holes (it was given to me by a faraway friend who knew I adored the print). I went through my homemade haberdashery (will share about that soon) and decided on just the project!
It may seem a bit odd to make something so basic but I find it very enjoyable to use pretty things in my daily tasks. And, it was much more satisfying to “shop” the creative side of my brain and my creativity closet for something “new” than find something mass-produced in the millions for the millions.
These little cottage cloths were recycled from damaged goods and a repurposed heart.
Instead of buying more, create more. Instead of always consuming, do some producing. Instead of constantly spending, do some $aving.
It is quite refreshing, rewarding and redeeming!
“Remember that He who created you to be creative gave you the things with which to make beauty and gave you the sensitivity to appreciate and respond to His creation. Creativity is His gift to you and the 'raw materials' to be put together in various ways are His gift to you as well.”
~ Edith Schaeffer, The Hidden Art of Homemaking
Something new we have been doing...
Foraging the refrigerator and pantry for dinner = Charcuterie board ♥️
On Sunday evenings, we keep our meals simple and have developed the habit of either loaded nachos (comprised of good quality chips, cheese, tomatoes, onions, avocados, cilantro, beans, shredded leftover meat, olives, green chilies) or a charcuterie board (pictured here).
My daughter reaches for our pizza peel (repurposed into a charcuterie board for the night) while I dig through our refrigerator for instant edibles. She begins to cut and arrange what I find there while I make my next trek into our pantry. Dinner is ready in less than 15 minutes.
Tonight we foraged:
- garden cucumbers
- green olives
- roasted red peppers
- sliced Muenster cheese
- strawberries from stand
- homegrown nectarine
- homegrown mini plums
- sliced apple
- cashew butter
- mixed, salted nuts
- dried apricots
- sprouted, seasoned almonds
- cubed chicken (leftovers)
- baby dill pickles
- Triscuit crackers
- grain free Hu crackers
- vegan cheese (long story!)
- homemade pomegranate jelly
- sliced yellow bell pepper
- cherry tomatoes
- dried bing cherries
- nut clusters
- cauliflower bites
- homemade strawberry jam
- Hu dark chocolate squares
- chocolate covered almonds
- macadamia nuts
Creating little family rituals like these helps to create memories and makes meals more manageable. Knowing Sunday night features one of these two menus keeps it simple and allows for a truly restful Sabbath. Plus, it is an excellent way to use up leftovers from the prior week!
Do you have a Sunday evening meal plan?
“‘When someone once asked me just what it was that my parents did that made me believe in God, without even thinking I said, “I think it was French toast on Saturday mornings and coffee and Celtic music and discussions and candlelight in the evenings…” Because in those moments I tasted and saw the goodness of God in a way I couldn’t ignore.”’
~ Sarah Clarkson, The Lifegiving Home
“O taste and see that the Lord is good:
blessed is the man that trusteth in him.”
~ Psalm 34:8
I ran out of red pepper flakes and was excited when I remembered I had put some dried chilies aside last summer. They were a glorious garland for awhile and now they will be a glorious addition to my spice cabinet. Storing them “whole” until you need them keeps them fresher longer. I just placed the dried (de-stemmed) chilis in my blender, let it go for a few seconds and poured the ground up pieces into a recycled spice container. It is quite satisfying to produce something from scratch for even the smallest jar in the pantry.
“There is nothing wrong with God's plan that man should earn his bread by the sweat of his brow.”
“I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease,
but the doctrine of the strenuous life."
Will you hear a quote like this from modern day man? The feeling one gets from today's society is that work is to be scorned. It is something we ought to avoid. We are taught instead to embrace a lifestyle of as much ease as possible. But in doing so, we are liable to lose the skills our ancestors used and needed to survive.
As a believer, I don’t necessarily have fear for the future, but I do fear becoming “soft” for it.
While I am no longer in a dire position to NEED to preserve our own food, I make it a point to as a discipline, an exercise in resourcefulness (amongst other reasons) and a way to beat inflation.
While I’m too frugal to actually purchase things to “put up”, I do go out of my way to preserve in various ways what is freely available to me. As my friend Kelsey recently said, “to use the whole buffalo”!
It may mean preserving only 2-3 days in a month, but it keeps me in enough “shape” to provide for my family the old fashioned way, to maintain a spirit of ingenuity with my resources and to keep me from getting (my worst fear) LAZY in this world of convenience. The obvious blessing is the continual building up of our provisions.
Produced for our home from a basket of organic, homegrown oranges:
- 8 quarter-pint jars of orange gem jelly
- 8 half-pint jars of macerated marmalade (this was an experiment and a failure at that)
- 1 dehydrator tray dried orange slices (to be used in tea blends, infusing large jars of sun tea, potpourri, garnish and my newest idea of placing under roasting poultry to impart flavor)
- 3 dehydrator trays dried zest (which I removed from the oranges before making the jelly - for medicinals, cooking, baking, DIY products, etc.)
- jar of orange peel ends for the freezer (when I save enough I will make pectin with them) The ends can also be used to make many other things - visit my ebook for 100+ ways to use fruit scraps.
- a few quart jars of orange peel vinegar for making cleaning products.
- 3 orange roses (for fun!)
All in a days work.
"He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand:
but the hand of the diligent maketh rich."
~ Proverbs 10:4
A basket of additional homegrown oranges have been transformed into shelf stable jars of “orange syrup”. Just add some sparkling water and a handful of ice for a tasty spring and summer beverage.
To some, this is simply six quart jars of canned beets.
To others, it is more.
It is preparation of soil, it is watching the weather, observing the seasons. It is planting, thinning, watering and ultimately harvesting. It is washing, boiling, peeling and slicing. It is preparing hot jars and proper timing, weight and pressure. It is understanding the process of food and the importance of it. It was a days worth of work and yet it was a months worth of work. It is hard, time consuming and yet despite all this, very rewarding.
The slow system of proverbial preparedness is beautiful. It is not about panic but prudence. It is about capturing every little thing you grow and preserving each thing you are able for your household, however humble. It is the patient way one slowly adds to their provisions.
It was the way of our ancestors and it doesn’t hurt to bring it alive, whenever possible, into our own homes today.
The old ways may prove useful one day…
“The simple believeth every word:
but the prudent man looketh well to his going.”
~ Proverbs 14:15
"Simple industry and thrift will go far toward making any person of ordinary working faculty comparatively independent in his means. Almost every working man may be so, provided he will carefully husband his resources and watch the little outlets of useless expenditure."
~ The Royal Path of Life, 1882
“Say to the righteous that it shall be well with them,
For they shall eat the fruit of their doings.”
~ Isaiah 3:10
Cabbage and carrot processing day and the work of a homemaker’s hands…
Our harvests were modest but I was able to prepare a substantial amount of food for the upcoming weeks and to put some aside in our freezer for future meals.
Here is what our basket of cabbages and carrots yielded:
- 18 quarts of cabbage and carrot vegetable soup (I froze 14 quarts)
- 18 sautéed cabbage and carrot (with ground beef) pastry pockets
- 4 quarts pickled cabbage slaw (this will last a few weeks in the fridge and will be used as a side dish with meat or as a condiment atop tacos, burritos, wraps, etc.)
- confetti cabbage salad (not shown in picture as I forgot to include it 🙈 but the recipe is shared here)
- One leftover quart of sautéed cabbage, carrot and ground beef filling from my “pockets” (to be used for a future dinner over orzo)
- one bag of carrots, kept raw for this month’s meals
In answer to two questions… how am I able to be a full-time homemaker & what do you do all day???
“Nobody gets on in the world who is half-hearted. If a man wants money he must hunt for it morning, noon, and night. If a man longs for knowledge he cannot take a book and ladle it into his brain with a spoon: he must read and study if he is to be a scholar. If a man desires to rise in such an age as this, he cannot do it without stern labor. Great discoverers, eminent artists, and powerful orators have all been men of hard work.”
~ Charles Spurgeon
And if a woman desires with all her heart to be a full-time homemaker, despite monetary challenges, she must expect to do some work in the house. It may not be the kind that gets a paycheck but it’s certainly the kind that safeguards one. It’s definitely not a stereotypical BonBons and soap opera kind of life (nor should it be for a striving believer) but it is a good, noble and honorable one.
And with His help, it is also a blessed one…
“let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us,
And establish the work of our hands for us;
Yes, establish the work of our hands.”
~ Psalm 90:17
Just some additional “food” for thought.
“When you keep house, you use your head, your heart, and your hands together to create a home... Housekeeping is an art: it combines intuition and physical skill to create comfort, health, beauty, order, and safety. It is also a science, a body of knowledge that helps us seek those goals and values wisely, efficiently, humanely. Such knowledge is drawn from practical experience, family traditions, the natural and social sciences, and many other stores of understanding and information."
~ Cheryl Mendelson, Home Comforts: The Art & Science of Keeping House
I’m “keeping house” today by using up the almost-expired nut butters and overripe bananas… because food waste is sad and productiveness is pretty! I’ve been taking a few moments to maintain our pantry and see what food needs attention.
As quality nut butters are quite expensive, it pains me to throw them out. However, I have a few healthy recipes which utilize the nut butters as batter (and one of which uses overripe bananas with it!). Having such recipes on hand is a beautiful tool for the homemaker. I actually collect “use it up” recipes as they make for a quick save of our precious resources! You can make as many batches as necessary to use up the remaining butters by placing any excess in the freezer for safekeeping.
I have already shared this grain-free muffin recipe HERE and I’ll also share my grain-free cookie recipe soon! These make for a filling and nutritious snack.
A part of a homemaker’s job is to make sure everything in her home is being used to its best capacity (including food storage). Taking a few minutes every few months to check your inventory is a worthy pursuit.
“She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.”
~ Proverbs 31:27
I also spent some time detailing the dining room.
With spring’s gentle arrival, I’ve been doing more home “maintenancing” (a mix of organization and some “light” deep cleaning).
Here was my dining room to-do list which I accomplished:
- Polish entire china closet from top to bottom✔️
- Remove everything in china closet, wipe interior down & reorganize (details shared below on this project for it turned into another project!) ✔️
- Polish dining room table & chairs ✔️
- Wipe down “surplus” pantry and reorganize contents (I have a corner cupboard in our dining room which discreetly houses our pantry reserves) ✔️
- Wipe baseboards ✔️
- Clean ceiling fan ✔️
- Clean blinds ✔️
A part of this room organization included two “new” purchases (which is a big deal in these parts). I always put aside any monetary gifts and slowly use them for pretty but practical things that add a special element to my home (items I wouldn’t normally buy with the general household funds).
For instance, last year’s gift was transformed into luxuriously cream-colored 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.
This year, as I surveyed the dining room situation, I noticed two areas which were in need of attention; my special silverware which were strewn willy-nilly all over the drawer and my tea glasses stacked dangerously on top of one another. Hence, this season’s special investment was a woven cutlery tray and two rattan basket-trays (pictured above) which I’m placing my tea-glasses in (for convenient storing and easy serving). I love how both purchases remedied the situation in a beautiful yet functional way.
And of course, no spring cleaning of a room is complete without a handpicked bouquet to symbolize a finished job and “the genuine pleasure that comes from doing something well.” ~ Margaret Kim Peterson
I share a printable “home maintenance checklist” should you like to try out this Victorian system suggested by the Beecher sisters in the 1800’s.
My “Butler’s Pantry” was the project created from my detailing of the dining room:
“A butler's pantry or serving pantry is a utility room in a large house, primarily used to store serving items, rather than food. Traditionally, a butler's pantry was used for cleaning, counting, and storage of silver; European butlers often slept in the pantry, as their job was to keep the silver under lock and key.”
While my home certainly isn’t sizable nor do we keep a butler (as I’m sure many of you do 😉), I’ve always loved the idea of a butler’s pantry to store my little curated collection of thrift store dishes and such. Since this is completely out of the picture for me, I decided to set the stage of my China closet for such a purpose…
To make it utilitarian rather than decorative inside.
I love making little zones in my home and love that this one is centered around hospitality!
I piled all my plates together in proper order. I color coordinated my dishes so that when I want to set a blue and white table, it’s conveniently in one section. I placed my autumn and winter dishes together and so forth.
Underneath the hutch area, I have stored my serving dishes, tea kettles, etc., while the drawers hold my tablecloths and special silverware.
Everything that I need to host something more special for my family and/or guests are all carefully arranged for beautiful usefulness.
I love my little “butler’s” pantry! I think every home can have one provided space is available. I see outdated China closets in second hand stores for well under $100 (it seems everyone is getting rid of this traditional piece of furniture 😞). With a coat of paint, it can match your decor in minutes if the wood finish isn’t to your liking.
You can’t beat the quality storage (most are made of real wood which makes it quite a bargain!) and you certainly can’t beat the lovely abundance of organizational space it provides.
It’s an old fashioned piece of furniture which can be used in a new, updated and “luxurious” kind of way.
“Making do” is a beautiful & satisfying pastime of the old-fashioned homemaker.
“Because when you are imagining,
you might as well imagine something worthwhile.”
~ L. M.Montgomery, Anne Of Green Gables
Garden laboratory (our homemade calcium supplement)…
In our household, my husband is the green thumb gardener while I’m the crazy kitchen chemist. With just enough dangerous know-how, I can preserve most of the harvest into shelf stable food. However, this spring the tables have turned and I’ve begun preparing food for our harvests!
We already compost our extra food scraps, leaves and paper. We save our wood ash and we dry chicken manure for use as fertilizer. This year we are adding this homemade calcium supplement to our list. One of the biggest reasons for preparing this is to prevent blossom-end rot with our tomato and pepper crops. This upsetting event occurs when there is a lack of calcium in the soil. Since eggshells are 95% calcium carbonate, we have a simple and frugal solution!
The concept is to keep as much industry as is possible alive in the home and to remove a constant need for commercially made products. Plus, the example of resourcefulness and productiveness for our children has its own special rewards.
It’s quite easy to make...
Here is my simple system:
Keep basket of eggs near stove. Keep gallon jar near basket of eggs. As we use our eggs, we drop the shells in the jar. When the jar is full, I dump them in a shallow wash basin outside to dry in the sun.
Meanwhile, I place a fresh gallon jar in the kitchen and begin filling it all over again.
Once the second jar is full, I bring in the sun-dried shells and blend them until finely powdered. I store the end result in a labeled mason jar until we are ready to use it.
Then, I dump the next batch of eggshells into the same basin and let those begin to dry… and on it goes!
A simple way to reduce, reuse and recycle for the kitchen garden.
Are you trying anything new in the garden this year?
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!
(Some of the links in this post are affiliate links which help support this blog. Thank you!)
“Housework, too, is essentially physical. Indeed, a complaint commonly lodged against housework is that it is “menial” — work for servants — in contrast to other, higher kinds of work that may not include getting one’s hands dirty. But if Jesus himself could take up a towel and wash other people’s feet, surely we, as Jesus’ adopted brothers and sisters, can find it in us to wash one another’s dirty clothes and dirty dishes and dirty floors. Active engagement with fundamentally physical practices like housekeeping can be a way of remembering that a properly human life is a life of service in and through the body. It was so for Jesus, and it is so for us.”
~Margaret Kim Peterson, Keeping House
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve,
and to give His life a ransom for many."
~ Mark 10:45
“For you, brethren, have been called to liberty;
only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh,
but through love serve one another.”
~ Galatians 5:13
“But you, be strong and do not let your hands be weak,
for your work shall be rewarded!"
~ 2 Chronicles 15:7