Wednesday, August 31, 2016

From A - Z {Alpha to Zucchini} ~ A "Shabby Chic" Frugal Farm Lifestyle ~ Entry #2


{Entry #1 is shared here, titled A "Shabby Chic" Frugal Farm Lifestyle}
{Entry #2 is shared here, titled "From Beautiful Books to Blueberries"}

Each journey has different beginnings. Our personal journey toward a home-grown, debt-free lifestyle started with one word, "simplifying". Ladies, many of us have too much and think we need even more! Frugality is at its finest when we are not swimming in chaos and clutter. It is like the woman who is dressed tastefully and yet you can't put your finger on exactly what she was wearing. You just remember she wasn't gaudy or over-done, she was classy. And as downsizing is often necessary in order to live within one's means, let's start with the simplification process and how it relates with our humble version of the "shabby chic" frugal farm lifestyle.


When we moved into our old homestead, space was significantly smaller. We sold off one-half of our household belongings in order to fit into the farmhouse! Why buy something so small you might ask? Small was our budget and therefore small was our home :) It is embarrassing and sad how much one can accumulate that one does not really need. In our case, every time someone gave something away in the family, they thought of us and I had a hard time saying "no".



"A man builds a fine house; and now he has a master, and a task for life: he is to furnish, watch, show it, and keep it in repair, the rest of his days."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The more you own, the more "it" owns you in the form of time spent cleaning it, storing it and maintaining it. This lifestyle is not about accumulating things, rather it is about appreciating and maintaining with love, everything you do have. Do you remember Ma Ingall's prized possession of the shepherdess? She had little but made a big deal out of the little. This is what makes something precious, quality and not quantity.



"The key lies in simply weeding out the unnecessary, trusting your instincts about what is comfortable and practical, noticing details..."
~ Rachel Ashwell, Shabby Chic

I know that many times we can fall into the trap of thinking we need mounds of money to make our home appealing and beautiful. However, let's begin with the truth of the matter, the real "pretty" is practicality and order. For a home to be cozy, it needs to be somewhat tidy and clean. Having a organized home without excess distractions is better than any decoration at all (in my opinion). In fact, a clean home is decoration in itself!*

*Note: Although I do say that (and mean that) about an orderly home, I realize that we women do like to fluff our nests! I will be sharing some of the frugal ways I have done so in a future post.



"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know
to be useful or believe to be beautiful."
~ William Morris, Victorian Era English Designer

For those of you that want change and don't know where to start, I suggest that you remove any decorations, dust-collectors, small appliances, odds and ends, etc., that you do not use and love and put them in a box labeled "garage sale". If you find that you have lived without these items in one year, feel at peace to sell them or donate them. It is best to start off with a clean slate as clutter is not clean nor beautiful nor frugal. As a fellow friend put it, real estate in your home is valuable space! 

"... if the cost of your house per square foot is $100, every plastic bag of clutter is worth $100 of real estate! Now, that's real estate investment!"
~ Mrs. Laura Lane, Harvest Lane Cottage


We can live in smaller homes and within our means if we rid ourselves of the excess. For example, many moons ago we ditched our microwave. It took up valuable "real estate" on our kitchen counter and I was also quite leery of its safety (to be honest). We also let go of the toaster oven (we found the broiler on the oven did just as well) and the waffle maker (we made pancakes more than anything and I never did like cleaning the waffle maker). I sold many of our individual small appliances (i.e., juicer, blender, food processor) and used the money to buy the attachments to such things on our Bosch mixer. This saved us much more space than housing the individual units! 



Now that we have touched a bit on the "alpha" (simplifying and downsizing), it is time to talk zucchini. I did mention this would be random writings! And if any of you have a garden, then you know this topic is inevitable! You are probably swimming in it. But there is a bit more to it (the nitty-gritty so to speak), it is about using what you have.



You see, this new life taught me that having something like coconut oil in the pantry is not a necessity but a luxury (as much as I love it!). In fact, the grocery list is a luxury when one is trying to homestead on a budget. I don't take certain things on our grocery list for granted anymore. Though it isn't as tight as it was in those first few years, I still very much need to keep a watchful eye on household expenses because there is always winter here on the farm! There are some weeks that what the garden produces is what we need to eat. It isn't about what is in the supermarket but what is in our back yard. And so, "shabby chic" meals were created.

Though this meal was the simplest ever, my husband marveled at it because it was presented with love on pretty dishes! 

One day it was a bag of potatoes and a beautiful harvest of squash. I steamed the potatoes and placed a pile on each of our prettiest dinner plates. I drizzled them with the olive oil we had purchased during our last sale of hay. This we reserve for foods that don't require cooking, to serve it raw, to receive the health benefits. This is now a treat for us to have and I use it sparingly and with much appreciation. I sautéed mounds of zucchini and layed them proudly upon each plate of potatoes. I clipped a bouquet of our parsley, chopped it coarsely and scattered it atop. The last bit was a final sprinkle of dried herbs, nutritional yeast seasoning (I would have loved parmesan cheese!) and sea salt. It was a humble little meal but made with affection. The idea here is, plain food can be made fancy with a bit of love!

Having an herb garden is also very helpful. It gives meals that gourmet feeling without spending a penny and adds nutrition. Parsley grows like weeds and can be sprinkled atop anything to make it special.

I fear that all the magazines and fancy food blogs have created more work and has overwhelmed the homemaker. We think we must make certain meals! Each dish has to have a name which everyone can recognize as a food. For instance, we had "tacos" tonight, or we had "lasagna" tonight. Not many are proud to say, "we had squash over potatoes" tonight. Is there even such a menu? Perhaps not, but for those who are trying to practice frugality, we must often-times make this stuff up depending on what we have.

These breaded zucchinis may be an appetizer on a restaurant menu, however, they are the main course in our home. Served with a green salad and our farm-raised hard boiled eggs, this is filling, frugal and satisfying. 

There are many things we may need want that will get ignored on the grocery list for awhile. But when the day comes when the tractor (aka hubby) brings in another paycheck, we will rejoice at the fulfillment of the list. And we will appreciate everything the more that is placed in our pantry! These foods are like embellishments. Sometimes we have a bit more to add, sometimes a bit less. In between, our God given creativity will guide and inspire us on how to make do.



But back to the zucchini. The one year my zealous husband planted 38 plants (that is a story in itself and I barely lived to tell it), that was the "meat" of our meals. I had to be creative to prepare them differently each night to appeal to everyone because that is what we had to work with! It wasn't meal planning around what our family was accustomed to eating, it was about learning to like to eat and planning around what we had. Traditional dishes were not in the budget because they would cost money to create. Here I had zucchini to work with that was homegrown, organic and free.

Zucchini was dehydrated for the winter to put into soups and sauces, blanched and frozen in serving-sized pieces and when time is an issue, it is shredded and frozen in a flash! Our favorite method of preserving zucchini for the future is to make and freeze quiche fillings in freezer bags. This we simply dump into homemade pie shells and serve with whatever vegetables we have growing at the time. All of these preparations help lower the grocery bill and are a blessing during the slow winters.
Preserving meals for the future does take work on one day, but think of the ease on the day you will reap from it! Though I normally limit myself to one cup of coffee in the morning, on days like this, when I need to tackle an additional project, I lure myself in with an afternoon cup of coffee. For I will not lie, I do get tired and it does take energy and effort (but again), like the Good Book says, "In all labor, there is profit". 

So, this is how we ate zucchini for a month and through the long cold winter (via what we preserved). All of these meals were very thrifty to make and yet they were all delicious because they were made from scratch. Simple foods are tasty when prepared with fresh and seasonal ingredients! 



"That's the way Great-grandmother did it. She looked in the larder, the cellar and then took a walk through the garden to see what she had. And then she made menus for the next couple days."

I suppose the moral of the story is thinking outside of the menu-planning box. We need to look around at what we have growing (or what is on "special" if you haven't a garden or means to plant one due to living in an apartment, etc.). "Normal" menu ideas can be very expensive when you need to purchase every single ingredient that goes into them. Ma Ingalls did not survive like that. Her food revolved around very basic, bulk pantry ingredients and what they had growing or preserved. For instance, here zucchini is the main dish. As it is both the "free" ingredient and "main" ingredient, with a bit of flour and a few eggs, we can prepare a variety of pleasing and thrifty meals with them!



Well, it is time for me to step away from the computer and enter the "real world" called "home". I am out of breath! I didn't realize how much one could speak about squash. My apologies, my next post will be shorter I hope! I am wondering what ideas you have to share on these random topics of simplifying and zucchini? Have a lovely week!
All the fine print. This post may be shared with some or all of the following link-ups: The Art of Home-Making Mondays, Modest Mom Monday's, Monday's Musings, Make Your Home Sing Monday, Good Morning Mondays, The Scoop, Titus 2 Tuesdays, Tuesdays with a Twist, Raising Homemakers, Wise Woman Link Up, Homestead Blog Hop, Wow Us Wednesdays, Coffee and Conversation, Homemaking Thursdays, Home Sweet Home, Our Simple Homestead, Awesome Life Friday Link Up, Five Star Frou Frou Friday, and Shabbilicious Friday. Thank you lovely ladies for hosting these. This post may contain affiliate links (which are merchant links that help to support this site at no additional cost to you if you purchase an item through them). Special thanks to Antique Images (for the first image) and The Graphics Fairy for the label.

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Art of Home-Making Mondays ~ Please Join Us ~ Link Up 120


“We must pay a price if we are to become priceless.” 
~ Elizabeth George, Beautiful in God's Eyes
There are so many wonderful features in the making of a home. This is a place where I would love for you to share your love for anything home-related. Homemakinghomeschooling and homesteading are all a part of the lovely art of home-making!

~~Please link up posts in the spirit of Titus 2 and Proverbs 31 (such as recipes, godly encouragement, DIY's, frugal living, child-raising, medicine making, preparedness, gardening, home decoration, school lessons, sewing, crafts, etc). ~~ You are welcome to share as many posts as you like!

* I am sorry, I wasn't able to prepare features this week*

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On to this week! For the sake of our readers, please link up appropriate and wholesome home-related articles and leave out any giveaways, advertisements, etc. Thank you for understanding! I can't wait to see what you all have to share! 

**Please also note that the posts shared on this link up from other bloggers do not necessarily reflect my own personal views or opinions (meaning I do not condone every article that may appear here). Like all literature, please discern everything you read with the Holy Scriptures as your lens.**

Please copy the button below (html code is in box below it) and share on your blog post or side-bar so others can come and join in the link up as well!


Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth

All the fine print. This post may be shared with some or all of the following link-ups: The Art of Home-Making MondaysModest Mom Monday'sMonday's MusingsMake Your Home Sing MondayGood Morning Mondays,  The ScoopTitus 2 TuesdaysTuesdays with a TwistRaising HomemakersWise Woman Link UpHomestead Blog Hop Wow Us Wednesdays,  Coffee and ConversationHomemaking ThursdaysHome Sweet HomeOur Simple HomesteadAwesome Life Friday Link UpFive Star Frou Frou Friday, and Shabbilicious Friday. Thank you lovely ladies for hosting these. This post may contain affiliate links (which are merchant links that help to support this site at no additional cost to you if you purchase an item through them). 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A "Shabby Chic" Frugal Farm Lifestyle ~ Diary Entry #1


This last week, as I was reading the book Living on His Income, a flood of memories flowed through my mind of these past five years, when we first arrived on our homestead from the city. While our life was never one of wealth, and I mean never, moving on to the farm took it to the next level of frugality. We were going to start from scratch and with a clean slate. No credit cards, no loans. If we could not afford it, we would not buy it.

"Of course if my husband were to say to me, "finances are going to be extra tight for a little while. I need you to cut back on some of the bills." I will gladly do what I can to economize, lower the utility bills, and be more creative with our kitchen resources. We will put off certain expenses and go without some things. This is how we work together to get through the rough times."
~ Mrs. Sharon White, Living on His Income


You see, dear reader, my husband and I had a similar conversation before our move. As most of our savings was going to go into the farm equipment, I knew very well that operations were going to be tight and for awhile. The old farmhouse was about 100 years old and not well maintained. There was no hot water in the kitchen (something I took for granted all my life) and only one area with a little sink, three drawers and a cabinet which was called a kitchen. There was an old fashioned beveled glass oven hood which I decided to appreciate with all my heart. For when we began this journey, I created a frame of mind in my head to survive and hopefully thrive on. We would be living a "shabby chic" lifestyle.


For those who are not familiar with this decorating style, it is basically a rags to riches approach on taking the old and worn things, cleaning them up and appreciating the simple beauty in them (in the brand name sense it means lots of roses and antiques too). It would be like finding the pretty in the imperfect. This would be my motto for our frugal farm life.  While he would earn the money, I would do my part to maintain it, stretch it and preserve it while appreciating the little things along the way. It would be a challenge but as the Good Book says, "in all labor, there is profit".

The walls are crumbling in some areas of the house, specifically the living room. I love old architecture and tell myself that I am living in an antique building. As I wipe the constant dust that accumulates on the walls, paint chips away. These walls have character is how I must think. It can be beautiful like an old weather-beaten statue. Many of the Victorian novels share how the virtuous poor women always had a neat and tidy cottage though she had little. While I don't consider myself "poor" by any means, I think this is something we can all learn from. Making the best with what we have will make all things beautiful. Keeping everything clean will maintain the home's integrity. Letting the walls go by ignoring them because you are unhappy with them will make them look ashamed and dismal. Keeping them fresh and pleasing will bring out their charm.
During the spring, we will get a plague of what we call "storm bugs" before a storm. These gnats can really frustrate things. Legions come in through the crack above the front door. The only barrier we could think of is duct tape across the top opening which keeps them away. Yet in the other months of the year, when you peel the tape off, I am left with cracked paint to welcome our visitors. I have resolved to call this the "shabby chipped paint" look. I try and keep the door clean and consider it a part of the distressed cottage decor.  People do this to their furniture. Why can't walls and doors be included? Changing our perception helps us to enjoy what we have.
I remember the day I walked around my home and thought, what is God providing for me here in the outdoors? This is when I discovered the loveliness of flowers and herbs as being a part of our daily life! Decorative, medicinal and so forth. But that is best left for another day, for another entry, my friends.
And I have learned many things in this new path! For instance, having one car can stimulate the creativity in a woman (did I mention I had to let go of my extra vehicle?). When she stays home for longer periods of time, she begins to see things in a new light. An ordinary act of organizing and cleaning the home can become a moment of art and adornment. Homemaking becomes a hobby. If I am going to look at that item every single day, how can I make it pleasing on pennies?


To share in detail what kind of lifestyle it brought would be hard to manage in one post. I know many are interested in simplifying, frugality and budgeting and so I thought to write as much thoughts and in very fine detail on the "little, everyday things" concerning this (for it is the small details that make up the big picture!). I am thinking of random posts as a mini-series so you can get a clear idea of what this meant (and means) in our life, something along the lines of "miscellaneous musings and  mentality of our frugal journey". Well, it is time for me to step away from the computer and enter the "real world" called "home".  I am wondering if there is interest in this sort of thing? I think I might enjoy typing it, but the question is, will you enjoy reading it? Have a lovely week!

Next in the Series:

All the fine print. This post may be shared with some or all of the following link-ups: The Art of Home-Making MondaysModest Mom Monday'sMonday's MusingsMake Your Home Sing MondayGood Morning Mondays,  The ScoopTitus 2 TuesdaysTuesdays with a TwistRaising HomemakersWise Woman Link UpHomestead Blog Hop Wow Us Wednesdays,  Coffee and ConversationHomemaking ThursdaysHome Sweet HomeOur Simple HomesteadAwesome Life Friday Link UpFive Star Frou Frou Friday, and Shabbilicious Friday. Thank you lovely ladies for hosting these. This post may contain affiliate links (which are merchant links that help to support this site at no additional cost to you if you purchase an item through them).
SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave
SaveSaveSaveSave

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Art of Home-Making Mondays ~ Please Join Us ~ Link Up 119


“I value this delicious home feeling as one of
the choicest gifts a parent can bestow.”
~ Washiongton Irving
There are so many wonderful features in the making of a home. This is a place where I would love for you to share your love for anything home-related. Homemakinghomeschooling and homesteading are all a part of the lovely art of home-making!

~~Please link up posts in the spirit of Titus 2 and Proverbs 31 (such as recipes, godly encouragement, DIY's, frugal living, child-raising, medicine making, preparedness, gardening, home decoration, school lessons, sewing, crafts, etc). ~~ You are welcome to share as many posts as you like!


~ Today we are sharing the "3 Most Viewed Posts" from last week ~


#1 Most Viewed: The Power of Our Homes by Finding Joy in the Everyday


#2 Most Viewed: Add Some Amish Style to Your Life by Our Simple Homestead


#3 Most Viewed: My Frugal Ways this Past Week by Vickie's Kitchen and Garden

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On to this week! For the sake of our readers, please link up appropriate and wholesome home-related articles and leave out any giveaways, advertisements, etc. Thank you for understanding! I can't wait to see what you all have to share! 

Please copy the button below (html code is in box below it) and share on your blog post or side-bar so others can come and join in the link up as well!


Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth

All the fine print. This post may be shared with some or all of the following link-ups: The Art of Home-Making MondaysModest Mom Monday'sMonday's MusingsMake Your Home Sing MondayGood Morning Mondays,  The ScoopTitus 2 TuesdaysTuesdays with a TwistRaising HomemakersWise Woman Link UpHomestead Blog Hop Wow Us Wednesdays,  Coffee and ConversationHomemaking ThursdaysHome Sweet HomeOur Simple HomesteadAwesome Life Friday Link UpFive Star Frou Frou Friday, and Shabbilicious Friday. Thank you lovely ladies for hosting these. This post may contain affiliate links (which are merchant links that help to support this site at no additional cost to you if you purchase an item through them). 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Four Safe Essential Oil Blends for Baby ~ Printable Gift Kit


"You shouldn’t think about using an essential oil on a baby until it is at least twenty-four hours old, and then there has to be a good reason."

Beautiful babies! It seems these last few months have been filled with these precious little bundles! A few women in our community have recently given birth and here is the wee-gift-set I prepared them. I am hoping these will be nice and convenient for the new mothers. I am also sharing the recipes and printable I made for this little project in case it is of any interest to you (though I printed the exact ingredients on our bottles, I removed it to make it customizable and more generic to your blends).



How to prepare the blends:

(1) First and foremost, a carrier oil should always be used and the essential oils should be diluted heavily for the tender skin. Sweet almond oil and fractionated coconut oil would be the gentlest of choices. The conservative ratio I used was 1 drop of essential oil to every tablespoon of carrier oil. Using the safe list of essential oils which I found for baby here and in this book here, I prepared these four blends which I thought would be the most useful. While I haven't seen an exact age in which you can safely administer essential oils to baby, I would personally (and I am not a professional) suggest waiting until at least 3 - 4 weeks old (and that is at an as needed basis only*).



(2) I reused our empty essential oil bottles (15 ml size) from ones that were safe for baby (such as my discarded lavender and chamomile bottles; never re-use strong oil bottles like peppermint or eucalyptus on baby as any residue oil will absorb into the blends and will be too harsh for them). I didn't wash them out first since I didn't want to introduce moisture, I simply emptied every last drop from the bottles knowing that if a bit remained, the oil inside wasn't harmful. Once the bottles were filled, I pasted on my instruction labels. I also placed a piece of tape over the labels to protect them from oil drippings and/or wet hands, etc. The inexpensive roll-on bottles would be perfect for this project too!

Note: Each 15 ml bottle holds a scant 2 tbsp. of oil blend.



(3) Prepare the recipes.

Cold and Cough ~


Colic ~


Constipation and Diarrhea ~


Fussy Baby ~


Directions ~

Add essential oil drops directly into a 15ml essential oil bottle, fill the remaining with carrier oil, cap firmly and label. Alternatively, you can cut the recipe in half and store in a 10ml glass roll-on bottle.


The reason I like pre-made blends is that in the heat of the moment, rare-a-mother has an extra hand (or second) to walk to the cabinet, find the right oil for the right problem, dig up the proper carrier oil and steadily measure out the exact one drop increments. Usually it is a frazzled moment that needs quick action! If you are interested in preparing these, you will find our printable {here}. Happy blending!

* Disclaimer: I am not a certified herbalist, aromatherapist or doctor but a homemaker interested in the arts of natural healing. While I do seek scientific confirmation of the safety and effectiveness of the herbs and remedies I use, remember that using remedies is a personal decision. Nothing I say on this blog is approved by the FDA or intended to diagnose, treat or prevent disease. All things on this blog are my opinion or the opinion of others. Also, if you have a medical condition, are taking pharmaceutical drugs, or are pregnant, please consult your physician prior to taking herbs or using essential oils.


"Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee..."
~ Jeremiah 1:5a
All the fine print. This post may be shared with some or all of the following link-ups: The Art of Home-Making MondaysModest Mom Monday'sMonday's MusingsMake Your Home Sing MondayGood Morning Mondays,  The ScoopTitus 2 TuesdaysTuesdays with a TwistRaising HomemakersWise Woman Link UpHomestead Blog Hop Wow Us Wednesdays,  Coffee and ConversationHomemaking ThursdaysHome Sweet HomeOur Simple HomesteadAwesome Life Friday Link UpFive Star Frou Frou Friday, and Shabbilicious Friday. Thank you lovely ladies for hosting these. This post may contain affiliate links (which are merchant links that help to support this site at no additional cost to you if you purchase an item through them).

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Just Finished Reading ~ The Lamplighter by Maria S. Cummins


"It was the result of Mrs. Sullivan's, Kate's, and Gerty's combined labour which astonished True on his return from his work; and the pleasure he manifested made the day a memorable one in Gerty's life, one to be marked in her memory as long as she lived, as being the first in which she had known that happiness—perhaps the highest earth, affords—of feeling that she had been instrumental in giving joy to another."
~ Maria S. Cummings, The Lamplighter (Page 30)


"The sky was bright with stars; and they revived her old wonder and curiosity as to the Author of such distant and brilliant lights. As she gazed, there darted through her mind the thought, "God lit them! Oh, how great He must be! But a child might pray to Him!" She rose from her little bed, approached the window, and, falling on her knees and clasping her hands precisely in the attitude of Samuel, she looked up to heaven. She spoke no word, but her eyes glistened with a tear that stood in each. Was not each tear a prayer? She breathed no petition, but she longed for God and virtue. Was not that very wish a prayer? Her little, uplifted heart throbbed vehemently. Was not each throb a prayer? And did not God in heaven, without whom not a sparrow falls to the ground, hear and accept that first homage of a little, untaught child; and did it not call a blessing down?"
~ Maria S. Cummings, The Lamplighter (Page 40)



"Emily Graham never forgot the sufferings, the wants, the necessities of others. She could not see the world without, but there was a world of love and sympathy within her, which manifested itself in abundant charity, both of heart and deed. She loved God with her whole heart, and her neighbour as herself. Her own great misfortunes and trials were borne without repining; but the misfortunes and trials of others became her care, the alleviation of them her greatest delight." (Page 51)


~ Maria S. Cummings, The Lamplighter, 1854



{Recommended ages: 13-100 years}

Have you ever read this nourishing novel? It is beautiful.

All the fine print. This post may be shared with some or all of the following link-ups: The Art of Home-Making MondaysModest Mom Monday'sMonday's MusingsMake Your Home Sing MondayGood Morning Mondays,  The ScoopTitus 2 TuesdaysTuesdays with a TwistRaising HomemakersWise Woman Link UpHomestead Blog Hop Wow Us Wednesdays,  Coffee and ConversationHomemaking ThursdaysHome Sweet HomeOur Simple HomesteadAwesome Life Friday Link UpFive Star Frou Frou Friday, and Shabbilicious Friday. Thank you lovely ladies for hosting these. This post may contain affiliate links (which are merchant links that help to support this site at no additional cost to you if you purchase an item through them).

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...