Monday, January 30, 2017

The Art of Home-Making Mondays ~ Please Join Us ~ Link Up 142


"But if work-baskets were gifted with powers of speech, they could tell stories more true and tender than any we read. For women often sew the tragedy or comedy of life into their work as they sit apparently safe and serene at home, yet are thinking deeply, living whole heart-histories, and praying fervent prayers while they embroider pretty trifles or do the weekly mending."
~ Louisa May Alcott, An Old-Fashioned Girl
 
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!


Here are some lovely features from last week's link up:


Finding Space for Preparedness by The Bluebirds are Nesting






Prayer = Peace by The Charm of Home

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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 Scoop, Tuesdays with a TwistRaising HomemakersThe Homesteader HopWise 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).

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Versatility, Reclaiming Space and Basic Pantry Building ~ Preparedness Series


"The Pantry.—A pantry is like a tea basket, or a handy box, or a ship's cabin. It is a small space containing a great variety of useful things. The one virtue necessary above all others in such a space is orderliness. Without it convenient compactness becomes crowded confusion.

Things not connected with pantry work should have a place found for them elsewhere. Things most frequently used should be on the shelves and in the drawers which require least reaching and stooping.

Things of the same kind should be grouped together except when this violates the previous rule. That is, for the sake of keeping all the platters together, it is not necessary to use precious space on the most practicable pantry shelf for a platter only used at Thanksgiving..."

~ Housekeeping by Elizabeth Hale Gilman (1916)


Welcome to the second installment of our Proverbs 31 Preparedness Series! I love building up my pantry for many reasons but the concept of preparedness has come into the limelight these past few years. Though one's first thought may be of natural disasters or a national crisis, the common everyday struggles of financial difficulty and/or health issues (which can hinder the home economy) is a more common scenario that is often over-looked. In any case, the food storage concepts we will be sharing will be a blessing during not only any potential "bad" times but also during any "good" or "lean" times. It is in essence the old-fashioned, simple, prudent homemaking that our ancestors have done for many a years. 


I don't think the benefits of having a well-stocked pantry need to be discussed for times of crisis. During the good times, a stocked pantry is pure convenience! No need for last minute grocery store runs and all the other particulars shared here. During those lean times, a pantry can carry you through many months without having the concern of a grocery bill or lack of food for your family.


And while I like the idea of having a generous supply of everything we use in our household, it is just not feasible (financially and space-wise). I remember reading once from an herbalist who said he wasn't interested in how many herbs you "knew" and can "prescribe" for certain ailments but how to have only a handful of herbs and know how to heal many ailments with them. This concept of versatility struck a chord and the wisdom of it resonated within my practical $ide. This will be the approach in our Proverbs 31 Preparedness series! I am interested in building up the "multi-tasking" pantry ingredients which can cover many areas.


For instance, a one-year supply of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is very affordable and can double as a toothpaste, cleaning cleanser, all-purpose cleaner, heartburn reliever, laundry booster, bug-bite soother, drain cleaner, deodorizer and so forth. When you choose to store these certain bulk "key" ingredients that multitask and that you actually use, you are utilizing your space and income more efficiently. Now this relieves me of having to purchase 50 tubes of toothpaste (which can really add up!), antacids, cleaning products, etc. This also frees up precious shelf-space since I don't need to store so many separate products.


To give you an idea, you can get a 12-pound bag of baking soda for $7.95 on Walmart.com while the natural toothpaste sells for approx $4 per tube! One "prepper" website suggested purchasing 6 toothpastes per person in order to store a years worth. It is much more doable for me to purchase the baking soda and not bother with stocking additional toothpaste which is out of my budget. I know that if a crisis occurs, I have a back-up plan for many household items (in this case, I can easily brush my teeth with the multi-tasking baking soda)! This is an important concept I will be sharing in our preparedness series. The financial and practical aspect of it enables me to actually do something viable for our household and removes that overwhelmed feeling! I will have ample reserves and be able to fill many of the needs in our home by adopting this method. Perhaps this system will be a help to you?



"Purging your home of the stuff you don't want or don't use will give you the space you'll need for the equipment and goods that will sustain your family in a time of crisis. Tackle one room or space at a time. Pull everything out of the cabinets, drawers, and closets. Pay special attention to stored clothing, books, toys, sports equipment, and small electric gadgets and appliances, especially broken ones waiting to be fixed (someday). Be ruthless! If you haven't used it, fixed it, worn it, read it, or played with it in the last year, you probably don't really want it or need it. It's junk! Get rid of it!"

A secondary issue for many of us is storage and pantry space. While our multi-tasking pantry ingredients will certainly help out in this area, we still need to stock things like toilet paper, etc., which take up lots of space. I like what Kathy Harrison mentions in her book, Just in Case: How to Be Self-Sufficient When the Unexpected Happens (shared above)! We think we don't have space but yet we are storing small appliances we no longer use (aka juicers, cappuccino makers, panini presses, etc.). Perhaps you aren't ready to get rid of the popcorn popper just yet and that is fine (but you can learn to pop corn in your stockpot!). However, these types of items can be stored in the garage or anywhere else that is out of the way to make room for food supplies which require a more controlled temperature. Food should be given the star stage in the home while things like toiletries can be stored in less climate protected areas such as hot garages, attics, etc.


We personally don't have any closets in our home nor did we have a pantry. We did have a very small room that we converted into a pantry. My mother also didn't have a pantry in her kitchen but there was a closet in the hallway adjacent to her kitchen that we cleaned out. She rarely used anything stored in there! My husband cut up some thick plywood and fashioned "custom made" shelves which made a wonderful pantry.



Also, I shared these ideas earlier but they are worth mentioning again...  In our first home, we re-purposed an old-out-of-style-cast-off entertainment system that someone gave us (these can be found easily at thrift shops and garage sales). I removed all the modern hardware and doors, painted it white, added an inexpensive spring rod across the top and hung a dainty white curtain over it. The end result was a pleasant "French country" pantry for my kitchen! Using the same concept, book shelves can store bulk items and can be covered with a curtain as well. You can have a whole shelf unit across one wall which can be filled with your provisions. Just place a wire across with a hook and eye to the other side of the wall and hang a large curtain (or pretty flat sheets) across to completely hide the storage and give the room a clean, un-cluttered appearance (the curtain cover concept is shared in detail here). There are many other excellent storage options that one can utilize and I think Annabel's post on finding space shares everything else!



I also wanted to make mention to try and store as much food as you possibly can in your kitchen. It is a pantry in itself. I got rid of our toaster oven which took up too much space (we just make toast in our oven broiler) and keep just the basic necessities on our counter-tops. This leaves room for lots of large canisters that store flour, sugar, oatmeal, etc. We also fashioned shelves in an upper area in our kitchen where we keep Tupperware of dried beans, brown sugar, cornmeal, baking cocoa, quinoa, popcorn, more oatmeal, etc (instead of storing knick-knacks). Our "technical" pantry is just an overflow of our original one in the kitchen. Since we have little in the way of cabinets, we placed a few small shelves in the kitchen which store oils, vinegar and our daily smoothie ingredients. We keep them in pretty jars and bottles so that they are decorative at the same time. Attractive wire racks can be hung on the walls to hold your bulk spices, medicinal herbs and seasonings (just try and keep them away from light for best results).


Before I start sharing what foods that I will be purchasing in bulk and for what reasons, I also wanted to leave you with some of these basic ideas:
  • Store only what your family already eats. In the event you are blessed with forever good times, you will have only stored and bought what you already use and nothing is lost in the process. Otherwise, you may be trying to think of ways to make your family love those cases of pickled herrings you purchased on clearance because they were such a cheap source of protein! And you will also be struggling with how to cook with these foreign foods in the event of a crisis.
  • Make it a goal to add at least one thing to your pantry each week. Garden produce and foraged foods that you preserve or dehydrate count too! It doesn't mean you always need to spend money to do so.
  • Practice food rotation. Try and put a date on everything you buy in bulk or at least place the older items up front so they are used first. Place the newer items in the back to keep your inventory fresh.
  • Learn how to cook from your food storage/pantry. In the event of a crisis (or even a I don't know what to make for dinner moment!), you will have a repertoire of already tried and true recipes that you can rely on. We will be going into more detail on this in the future posts as I share each bulk item we will be storing. I am hoping to include recipe pages to use those items from the pantry for a Food Storage Cookbook. I'd like to include it as a chapter in our Preparedness Binders. Depression era recipes are gold for this reason as many of them don't require butter, cheese, milk or eggs!
Do any of you ladies have anything to add on these subjects? I am in no way a professional in this area, just a homemaker trying her best for her family.
Your homework for the week:
  • Purge! Go through your home and remove any dust-collectors, un-used appliances and other odds and ends that are taking up valuable real estate. If you aren't ready to part with them yet, you can always put them in a box labeled "garage sale" along with the date. If you find that you have lived without these items in one year, feel at peace to sell them or donate them. 
Extra Credit:
  • Look into your pantry and start experimenting! Do you have any recipes that can be made strictly from what you store there (which doesn't include fresh items from the refrigerator)?
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 Scoop, Tuesdays with a TwistRaising HomemakersThe Homesteader HopWise 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). 



Monday, January 23, 2017

The Art of Home-Making Mondays ~ Please Join Us ~ Link Up 141


"This job has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offering I may make to God. Therefore, it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness."
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!


*** Greetings, for those of you who purchased the Back to Basics Living Bundle last week (thank you for supporting this blog!), I also wanted to share 5 Important Things (and Ideas) that will help you to get the most value from the bundle! Please visit here for more information.***

And finally, some lovely features from last week's link up:


Poverty in the 1800's {The Life of Betsy Moody} by A Legacy of Home




No-Bake Berry Granola Bars by Courtney's Cookbook

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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 Scoop, Tuesdays with a TwistRaising HomemakersThe Homesteader HopWise 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).

Saturday, January 21, 2017

5 Things to Know if You Purchased the Back to Basics Bundle and a Final 24 hr-Giveaway!


This is the last post of our ode to the Back to Basics Living Bundle! The sale ends Sunday night. Thank you for joining me and sorry if I overflowed your inbox this week! Before I ended this little tribute, I wanted to make sure that those who have purchased the bundle are able to make the most out of it! -- And if you haven't purchased it, you have less than 24 hours to do so before the super-sale ends (visit HERE for more details).


Here are 5 important things (and ideas) you should know:

1) What if I already own a book in the bundle? (i.e. you already purchased our Ebook and now have an extra copy in the Bundle) Though passing out copies (aka "sharing") is not allowed and considered theft (each of the eBooks in the Back To Basics Living Bundle is copyrighted by the original author), you can give an eBook to someone else if you decide you don’t want to keep it or have read it already and won’t use it again. You can do this by sending the book to the receiving person and then deleting it from your computer and any other electronic devices you own so that they have the only copy.

2) What if some of the books don't pertain to me? Gift them! There are a few resources that do not pertain to us anymore (such as some homeschooling resources for younger children). I plan on printing out these resources (and either binding them in a print shop or placing them in a binder) and giving them away as gifts during the year!  However, after that is done, the original copy must be deleted from your computer and any other electronic devices you own so that they have the only copy.




3) Your 1-year Molly Green Membership is time sensitive. You must REDEEM your membership prior to 4/22/17. There are instructions on how to do this in the download sheet included in the bundle. Once done, you have access to a year long subscription of 60 digital back issues of the magazine, Molly Green related eBooks (including several cookbooks and $5 meal plans), 14 Molly Green topical Bite-Sized™ Guides with a new one every month, printables and desktop images, homeschool lapbooks, access to Build a Menu’s 7-meal “Dine on a Dime” meal plan and shopping list each week, custom homestead planners for gardening, cleaning, meal prep, and more and finally, over 1,000 streaming videos on-demand!


4) Your SchoolhouseTeachers.com 3-month membership is time sensitive. You must REDEEM your membership prior to 4/22/17. There are instructions on how to do this in the download sheet included in the bundle. Once done, you will have a 3-months access to 300 online courses for your entire family/homeschool (brought to you by The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine!). Plus the website offers a fully customizable schedule builder, various class formats, a FREE streaming video library (with some great movies such as the complete Torchligher Series, Drive Through History Series and Creation Science Videos), e-book media resources, and much more!

5) You must download all the bundle files before January 15, 2018 as they are unable to offer new links after that time. You may also want to back up your files to an external drive, the Clouds or Dropbox for extra security.

I hope these ideas and information help you to make the most of the bundle! And I thank you very much for purchasing through our links and supporting this little blog! :)



In the meantime, we are offering a giveaway of our Ebook (100+ DIY Projects to Make with Fruit Scraps) which is included in the Back to Basics Living Bundle as a final hurrah! But hurry, there are less than 24 hours left to enter!

You will find the giveaway information at our guest post at Raising Homemakers HERE!

Happy homemaking!

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 Scoop, Tuesdays with a TwistRaising HomemakersThe Homesteader HopWise 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). 

Frugal Living & Self-Sufficiency Skills ~ Free Printable Checklist


"Take stock of the skills and knowledge you may need in a crisis. A working knowledge in areas such as gardening, food preparation, first aid, sewing, home repair, and auto maintenance will never be wasted. Acquiring those skills will help you confront adversity without panic..."
by Kathy Harrison


Frugal living and self-sufficiency go hand-in-hand in my eyes because a frugal lifestyle is one where you do most of the things in life yourself (which makes you quite self-sufficient)! And the more I contemplate these topics, I see that they are also entwined with preparedness!  Remember the post we shared this week where Melissa Norris wrote that "being prepared is a mixture of skills, knowledge, self-sufficiency, and good old-fashioned work"? Well...


With that being said, I think the common factor in all three of these prudent principles (frugal living, self-sufficiency and preparedness) is a knowledge of skills and not necessarily just a stockpile of stuff! While provisions are excellent and still quite necessary, they can be destroyed in different catastrophic events. However, old-fashioned skills remain with you and are an invaluable tool. They are the gift that keeps on giving so to speak.


In the practical preparedness book that I am currently gleaning (Just in Case: How to Be Self-Sufficient When the Unexpected Happens), the author also states how skills are a blessing and shares a list of skills for independence. I would also consider them frugal living tools! I have included some of her ideas as well as some of my own in the following lists as something to aspire to. The printable version is shared at the bottom of the post should you like to add it to your preparedness binder.


Learn how to (and remember, if you can just learn HOW to do something, that is sometimes all that is necessary for a certain skill. It doesn't mean you are a slave to it for the rest of your life but the knowledge can be a blessing one day. It may be wise to document the procedures and place instructions that you will understand in your preparedness binder should a future need arise.):
  • purify water and store water properly
  • perform first aid and CPR
  • garden (both autumn and summer seasons if possible)
  • utilize cold storage techniques (root cellars and/or basement preservation knowledge)
  • heat with wood 
  • forage for wild food (learn to identify edible weeds and plants and make meals with them)
  • cook from scratch
  • cook meals outdoors (without propane)
  • dutch oven cooking (this is an art in itself and is useful over a campfire)
  • cook meals with solar energy (make or purchase solar cooker)
  • wash and dry clothes without electricity
  • can food (both water-bath canning and pressure canning)
  • dehydrate food and herbs
  • ferment foods (this is highly nutritious and a way to store food short-term without electricity)
  • make your own basic dairy products (cheese, yogurt, butter, etc.)
  • bake bread (sourdough would be even more nutritious and self-sustaining)
  • cook from your pantry
  • prepare a pantry (store food properly for long-term)
  • live alternatively without appliances/electricity (aka back up appliance plans)
  • grow, make, store and learn to use herbal medicines
  • make your own cleaning products
  • sew (eliminate paper products and make re-usable cloth counterparts, mend clothing, etc.)
  • grow fruit trees
  • make candles (preferably from beeswax or tallow -- something you harvest yourself)
  • make soap
  • save seeds
  • propagate plants
  • make your own bath and body products
  • fish
  • properly use essential oils
  • hunt (large and small game)
  • survive in the wilderness (set up shelter, a campfire, etc.)
  • get out of debt/live within your means

If you have land, you can add these to your list:
  • raise chickens for meat (and learn to butcher yourselves)
  • raise laying hens
  • raise and milk dairy cow/goats
  • raise sheep for meat or wool
  • raise beef (and learn to butcher yourself and render your own tallow, etc.) 
  • tan hides 
  • beekeeping (oh to harvest your own beeswax and honey!)
  • harvest wood and keep stockpile
Extra credit crafts to learn:
  • spinning
  • weaving
  • hooked rugs
  • braided rugs
  • quilting 
  • crochet
  • knitting
  • embroidery
  • woodworking
  • flower drying/pressed flowers
  • basketry
  • distill herb and flower waters

I also included a peak into our pantry in this post as I consider pantry building a special skill as well! A pantry is a huge culmination of the old fashioned skills we are discussing! A pantry is more than canned goods in our home. It is a fermentation laboratory. It is full of dehydrated produce and herbs (both culinary and medicinal). It is our home apothecary filled with our handcrafted tinctures, tonics, herbal oils and salves. There are handmade cleaning products and sundries. It is full of homemade mixes and seasonings and even aging cheese. There are many skills that one can develop which increases the inventory of the pantry for pennies! In essence, the pantry is your own private grocery store of provisions making it a large part of self-sufficiency.


I am not suggesting to learn all these skills or to learn them overnight (but perhaps a yearly goal for some of the important ones). I have included a printable checklist for you to place in your preparedness binder as a record. I think it would be satisfying to check off the skills that would be valuable to your lifestyle and circumstances as you learn them. I also think it would be fun to see what you already know how to do right now and check them off! Do you have any to add?


I think it is also important to mention that you needn't learn all these skills yourself! Show the family your checklist and see who would be interested in learning each skill themselves. Then, take a trip to the library or your Back to Basics Living Bundle and begin learning! For instance, in our home, I am in charge of food preservation (pickling, canning, fermenting, drying, kefir-making, kombucha making and so forth). My daughter is involved with the animal husbandry, sourdough and cheese-making. My husband plants the fields and vegetable garden. The butchering of meat is a family affair and we all pitch in. Your family can be one team unit of self-sufficiency/frugal living experts as well! In fact, the larger your family, the larger your expertise can be!


"Although you can't purchase skills in things like first aid as easily as you can purchase a box of bandages, you can purchase or borrow books and take classes. In fact, I would consider a reference library an invaluable preparedness tool."
by Kathy Harrison

With all this being said, here are some of our favorite resources in these areas of frugal living, preparedness, self-sufficiency and pantry-building that I would like to share:






The Self Sufficient Life by John Seymour



Do you have any more great resources to add to this list?

For your free printable SKILLS checklist, click the image link below!

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 Scoop, Tuesdays with a TwistRaising HomemakersThe Homesteader HopWise 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). 

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