Category Archives: Home

The Homemaking Reward

Bedtime StoryBeing a stay-at-home wife and mom is the best job ever. Can’t beat the commute! *Smile*

I’m thankful for the gift of time to pursue my own interests and ideals–as well as my husband’s, to enjoy my husband and children, to find joy inMay God Bless This Home making my home into a sanctuary. Every second, minute and hour.

I adore leafing through home-improvement magazines, gleaning simple ideas for making our abode more cozy. Same thing with cookbooks. Collecting great tried-and-trues from friends and loved ones is a must for my recipe box. And for fun crafts, family games and great themed-room ideas, Family Fun is a favorite!

With homemaking, you’re never done learning. So many skills and talents to perfect~fantastic things~all in the name of advancing your “career”. My own interests include cooking and baking, sewing,  homeschooling, frugality, nutrition, canning and kitchen gardens. I look forward to learning more in these areas and also in the areas of homesteading, budgeting, organizing, landscaping, candle making…

Problem solving your own dilemmas is the best reward for your challenge ratio there is! Depending on the size of your dilemma, it’s also a pretty good way to grow in the faith. Relying on God’s provision, dh’s salary and being as creative as I can be when stretching our dollars has made me a better individual, emotionally and spiritually.

I’d much rather be furthering my husband’s career than someone else’s, and thank God my husband feels the same way.

Perhaps most important to my sense of satisfaction is having an appreciative husband. Appreciation. It’s so important. We wives don’t get raises, or incentive plans. We love you, we love our children, but we do sometimes wonder if anyone notices all we do when so much of it all needs done again after a few hours.

Little ways my husband shows his appreciation:

  • He thanks God for me and for the food I’ve prepared, in his mealtime prayers.
  • He rinses the bathtub out after a bath. Consideration is tantamount to appreciation.
  • He almost always thanks me when pulling on a clean white t-shirt, loving the smell of bleached laundry!
  • He makes a great fuss over dessert…it’s no wonder I’m always baking around here…
  • He hangs out with me in the kitchen, or herds the children off to give me quiet time.
  • He tells me he could never do what I do (bless his heart!)

Little ways to make your home a sanctuary:

  • Leave your Bible out on an end table, or in the middle of the kitchen table. Someplace within easy reach, and be stretched, comforted, and inspired!
  • Books, stacked or on shelves, whisper of leisureclockbooks1.jpg and simplicity, of intelligent pursuits.
  • Every home needs a pendulum clock. The tick-tocking layers a perception of peace with time well spent.
  • Skip the overhead lights. Instead welcome evening by lighting a couple of lamps. This exudes warmth and hospitality, and begs exhausted husbands to kick their feet up and relax.
  • Keep tea and hot chocolate nearby, always ready for an impromptu tea party.
  • On the back of your stove, simmer orange slices with cinnamon sticks and breathe deeply. Later on, add apple cider mix to it, and call the family around!
  • Keep your children’s library books in a basket by the couch and make read-aloud time a priority each day.
  • Create an outdoor living area. It can be on your deck, patio, a corner of your backyard, or in the middle of a small flower garden. Two yard chairs and a table, ta-da!French Doors

Now it’s your turn. What makes you feel appreciated? What does “cozy” look like to you? What home project currently engages you?

And to all my working mom friends, you are amazing! Please don’t be discouraged by my stay-at-home-mom ramblings. Hang in there…I know it’s tough to “do it all” and still feel sane. You’re in my prayers!

(originally posted in July 2007)

Essential Oils in the Home

Essential oils are a homemaker’s best friend! And cleaning is always more enjoyable when your cleaning products smell good! Adding a few drops of lemon essential oil to my mop water makes scrubbing the kitchen floor almost as big a treat as enjoying that clean floor for as long as it lasts in our busy household. *wink* 

And don’t forget to breathe deeply!  Aromatherapy while you work!

So where are some places you can use essential oils in your house?

  • In the washing machineTea Tree oil is an antiseptic that kills germs, add several drops to your load of whites to disinfect them.
  • In your toothpaste–we love Wintergreen essential oil for this. My husband, youngest daughter and I all use baking soda for brushing (my other daughters prefer “real” toothpaste), and adding a single drop (more will sting your tongue!) to the baking soda leaves your mouth tingling fresh, and it tastes sooo good!
  • In your footsoak or hot bath–Lavendar essential oil is great for a calm, soothing, refreshing soak after a long day. Combined with Epsom salts, you can almost feel the toxins leaving your body! Simply add 8-10 drops to a bathfull or basin of hot water…
  • On your kitchen sponge–a drop of Rosemary essential oil on your Dobie scrubber (my sponge of choice for dishwashing!) makes washing dishes a heavenly chore!
  • In the air–as air freshener. Just fill a small spray bottle with water, and add 8-10 drops of your favorite essential oil and spritz the house. Again, my favorite oil for this is lemon!
  • On your wrist–all natural perfume! Try blending two scents. One of my friends loves to combine peppermint with lemon…

So there are just a few ideas to get you going…I’d love to hear how you use and enjoy essential oils in comments!

January Planning

09houseSnowGot a yen to organize thy household? Well, step right up. There’s nothing wrong with a little “New Year’s” motivation…and with single digit temps and snow everywhere, there’s not much to do outside. Wish you could see the curvy path I’ve tramped through the snow to the chicken barn each morning and night the past two weeks…it’s not quite a tunnel yet…*smile*. The chickens won’t even venture forth in this weather. They peek out at the bright snow and blink.

So, I’ve been having fun printing off a slew of great organizational helps at donnayoung.org this morning. For instance, her month-on-a-page household planner would be a great way to track monthly bills and “mental notes” in a binder from one year to the next. Need a greeting card registry, or a telephone number chart? How about refills for your yearly planner? She has several sizes and choices. She also has chore charts for kids, homeschool planners of every kind. We discovered her site this past fall, and have really been blessed by her generosity. Everything there is free, AND, it’s a Christian website!I personally like her “checklist” for a semester at a glance–it’s all on one page and what a way to see how much you’ve accomplished and how far you have to go!

So how is your New Year shaping up so far? Cold like mine?

Blessings,

Mary

Baby Chicks Arrived!

chicks09Up at 5:50 A.M. anticipating a phone call from the neighbors…who were anticipating a call from the Post Office…saying, “Come get your chicks!!”

Yes, you too can order chicks via a reputable hatchery.  Or check your local farm store, many of them advertise “Chick Days” this time of year and have everything you need to get started.

In our case, our CSA farming neighbors, Farmer John and his sweet wife let us order fifteen broiler chicks along with their 150…and today was delivery day! I actually waited about an hour for “the call”, at which time I fished three girls out of bed where they’d been snoozing fully dressed for a half an hour, loaded them in the vehicle and off we trucked down the road to the farm.

All 165 chickies were packed in two smallish post office boxes, little mounds of vibrating yellow. According to John, they’re packed tightly to ensure they’ll stay warm. After all, day old chicks need to be in 95 degree temps to thrive. Thus, a heat lamp is an important part of chick-rearing!

We stayed at the farm long enough to watch John’s wife count out the first thirty-five chicks and introduce their little beaks to the waterers, familiarizing them to their new digs. Picked up on a new-to-me tip while watching:  use a cut and slightly smashed garlic clove in their waterers as a natural antibiotic. That’s helpful info when you’re trying to go au naturale!

Collected our little cheepers and their organic feed and headed home to settle them in a warm home, a thigh-high produce box from Aldi’s that’s about 3’x4′ and honewchicks09gging a whole corner of my already crowded laundry room!

Aren’t they sweet? Just don’t get too attached, as I’m telling my girls…in 6-8 weeks these Cornish meat broiler babies will be in the freezer…yes, we are not naming this batch. No siree. I’m not wavering on this not one little bit. But oh they’re soooo cute…

Yes, it feels like Spring has officially begun Winter’s thaw. Meet one of our two baby Boer goats and hopefully soon I’ll get pics up of our three Australian Shepherd puppies who are one week old today! babygoat2

You’ll remember my similar post last year when we pioneered our way through raising baby chicks for laying purposes. Those twenty-five babies are full grown beauties shelling out about 18 eggs a day. We LOVE chickens! If you are serious about pursuing this calling, *wink*, I highly recommend this book: Living with Chickens by Jay Rossier. While our chicken house was still a work-in-progress, I used to take this book out there and dream while thumbing through all the glossy pics of chickens and myriad chicken houses across the U.S.A.

If nothing else, get yourself a copy for the coffee table conversation it will bring…and maybe it will come in handy in the next few years. You just never know.

;O)

After all, I ordered laying hens last year for a reason. I’ve come a long way to thinking I could butcher my own meat. And it too, remains to be seen.

10 Favorite things that start with E

Jen, a bloggy friend from New Zealand, tagged me a while back for this fun meme…let me know if you want to play and I’ll assign you an alphabet letter for your favorite things…Jen gave me the letter “E”…

So here goes:

Eggs!!! We have had eggs steadily throughout winter, on average around 17 a day. And we’ve been blessed to be able to sell all the ones we don’t use ourselves…lovely brown and green cackleberries (as Farmer John calls them…)

Electricity~ One of my favorite modern conveniences!

Enthusiasm~ a most important quality of both teachers and students!

Enamelware~ the only thing I collect, and I have very few pieces. It just transports me to a simpler time and place. I love it!

Edelweiss~ My favorite lullaby as a baby–all my siblings sang it to me as they one by one sneaked into the nursery and rocked me to sleep, unbeknownst to my mother…and she wondered why I was spoiled? It’s also a plant growing high in the Alps, with white leaves and flowers…

Eight year olds~ I’m blessed to be a mommy to one very special 8 year old!

Educating~ I can’t imagine a more rewarding job than that of educating one’s own children. Educating one’s self is almost as rewarding. You’re never too old to learn, and the subjects abound! That’s a blessing!

Echinacea~ The first herb that I had major success with in preventing many illnesses in my family. I can’t wait to learn to identify it in the wild and make my own remedies with what I’ve harvested!

Elm, Slippery Elm, that is… What a great herb! From abcesses to diarrhea or other digestive tract problems to poison oak/ivy and to ulcers–this herb is relatively new to me, yet we’ve already used it with quick results on common colds and bronchitis!

Each one of you… *smile* This place would be hum-drum without you. I’m so glad you keep stopping by!

Homemaking: Teaching our Daughters

Came across a great post today that really affirms all we do as mothers, and equally important, how important it is that we teach our daughters all they need to know to equip them to run their own homes some day. I think you’ll enjoy it. It’s at the Girl Talk blog, and titled, Homemaking IGirl Sewing in an Interiornternship.

Even if your daughters are preschool aged, it’s never too early to start. At 3, 4 and 5, they’re still full of enthusiasm when it comes to helping around the house. For instance…my four year old responds eagerly when I call, “Oh Laundry Girl…where oh where is my Laundry Girl?” *smile* She can transfer wet clothes into the dryer, adjust the dials, toss a dryer sheet in and get the load going with no help from mom.  She’s pretty happy about it too.

However, I know there are MANY areas of improvement in our home when it comes to my passing along the baton of homemaking. So this post was a blessing and a great reminder to me that my time is short with my girls…and homemaking is definitely part of a well-rounded education, if you consider how crucial it can be not only for our living environments but also to maintaining healthy marriages, children and bank accounts!

What homemaking skills do you think are important, that maybe you feel you wish you’d known more about when you got married?

A Potpourri Post

Well, Christmas is over, the snow is melted, there’s mud galore…I’m wondering how everyone’s Christmas was…and what you’re doing on this “day after”…

We hosted the family gathering this year, which was a real treat. Our home is small, but everyone was game. I printed off several copies of three different Christmas carols, wondering if I’d have the gumption to hand them out and suggest singing–kind of an old-fashioned activity at a Christmas gathering in 2008! And there were some deer-in-the-headlight expressions. However, when we all hit three different notes while singing “Sleigh Ride“…precisely at this part: “…at the fireplace while we watch the chestnuts pop. Pop! Pop! Pop!” the whole room full of would be carolers simultaneously burst into gut-busting, eye-burning hilarity. I think we’ll always remember the comic relief of that moment, especially when my four year old triggered another round by innocently asking, “What’s so funny?”

I have to share another funny with you…when preparing the Christmas turkey, I decided to put my “anatomy training” of poultry to the test. Remember my posting back in the fall about our farming neighbors showing us how to butcher turkeys and chickens? Well, my store-bought bird in hand, I set out to rinse its insides and feeling around the inner cavity guess what I unearthed? A hefty length of esophagus that should not have been there! Ugh!! Sometimes methinks a person can know too much!

Today has been a day of enjoying leftovers, good books and testing out all the Christmas gifts.

I have a couple of book recommendations for you all. These books stand out to me as some of my favorites of 2008:

As much as I enjoyed and learned from the above books, I’m sure I’ll blog more about them soon.

So what did you do today? Did you have time to pick up a good book? What was it, if you don’t mind my asking?

Some interesting reads for you…

I apologize for the lack of *me* around this neglected blog lately. Just for fun, here’s some good stuff:

Are you writing up your Christmas shopping lists? Mine will be simple this year, hopefully! My hubby’s family does the traditional Christmas gift exchange, while my family just gets together for the pleasure of it and the good eats! My eight yo daughter wants a Bible with larger print–she said she’d be happy if that’s all she gets. Aw. Isn’t that awesome? (Should I test that theory?)

How is everyone? I’d love to hear how things are going…

Going Back to the Land

I still have a lot more city girl in me than country, depending on how survivalist a mindset you might have. Sure, I love canning and storing up food for my family, and having chickens and eggs and a garden this summer made me as giddy as a little girl playing house in her tree fort…

But I want more! I’m so intrigued by people who can survive without electricity, without purchasing or relying on stores for food, people who know how to make their own herbal tinctures and can walk through the wild identifying edible plants and herbs.

If you’re like me, you could spend hours checking out articles like this one on canning meat or this one on making your own bread (which is about way more than simple breadmaking!) or this long one on raising chickens or practically everything at this Backwoods Home Magazine website!

I recently discovered the best-kept secret in our rural community! We have a CSA farm less than ten miles from us…one that sells shares for summer and winter organic garden produce, as well as raises lambs, chickens and turkeys to sell, honey, and more! In getting to know this Christian farmer through emails and his newsletters, I’ve been invited to come help butcher chickens and turkeys on Monday! What a great learning experience for me and my oldest daughter.

What do you guys think of learning to survive on your own resources? In any case, something like this Emergency and Preparedness Guide might be very handy in the coming year…

I’m adding a pressure canner to my wish list!

Homework

I’ve got to tell you, I’ve been so thankful for a good stove this week. For instance, on Tuesday several good friends came over and apple peels and paring knives flew as we processed several gallons of homemade applesauce and a big batch of pie filling. Every burner on my stove had a big kettle in action, we were cookin’!

Earlier that day I’d baked home-made bread, and that evening for supper I mixed up a double batch of biscuits. The poor stove really got a work-out, but it made the grade. What would I do without it? I shrivel up at the thought!

When I think of household appliances that I can’t live without, I usually think of my refrigerator or my washing machine. I can hardly imagine the pre-electricity era, perhaps that’s why I love historical fiction…my fascination with the nuts and bolts of everyday living in the pioneer days and beyond. Those women had more reason than any of us to be depressed and despairing at circumstances, but weren’t afforded time for that “luxury”! So far from home and no neighbors to speak of…just their husband, children and the prairie winds howling in the draws. Dirt floors, big gardens, hauling water, no doctors, no post office, no internet, no grocery store or microwave to thaw last minute supper ideas…no antidepressants or Excedrin Migraine.

I think the hardness of life was their salvation. I mean, really. When you have the immense challenge of staying alive and providing for your family, you relish the job. Those women were survivors. Would they understand our pitiful excuses for credit card debt, messy homes and unruly children? Doubtful. When we can do all of our housework at the push of a button, housework that nubbed our ancestors’ knuckles to the bone? Touch-tone convenience at our fingertips, and we feel so unfulfilled with life. So worn out and exhausted by minor details.

Why not be exhilarated by the mundane in our lives? Sure we do so many loads of laundry a day and it does seem pointless at times…but there’s nothing like that fresh laundry smell and knowing your husband rolls out of bed each morning to crisp, clean-scented clothes. He may not say anything, but you can bet he appreciates it! For every mind-numbing chore, there is a blessing to be found. I’m convinced. My point is, look for the amazing and you’ll find and cherish it. Every time. It’s a mindset worth cultivating. Your children will thank you, because, hopefully, they’ll pick it up from your good vibes!

As I grow older, I’m seeing how precious this life is to me. Maybe this awe of life hits everyone in their thirties, but I feel so humbled by the blessings surrounding me–this year especially. Maybe God is working the knots loose in my soul, but whatever it is that causes happy tears to come at a moment’s notice, I’m reveling in the richness of life. A strong good man at my side, three thoughtful and loving children, an awesome extended family…this country life that has me wrapped around its every wild and rambling rocky way.

Strangely, a new part of me has come to life, one that is half afraid that this dewy morning dawn perspective of life is God’s way of spoiling me before tragedy strikes. I don’t know, but whatever the future holds…

I’m going to smile at my four year old’s sleepy “good mornings”…

I’m going to swell up right alongside my children’s achievements…

I’m going to sing to my chickens…

…and coo at my flowers

I’m going to embrace every shake of the apple tree…

I’m going to enjoy new and old friendships, be awed by God’s miracles, be amazed at His repeated grace in my fumbled outpourings.

And I’m going to do my homework. Because I find that the older I get, the more pleasure there is to be found in keeping things simple. Caring for me and mine and doing whatever the day and God requires of me…that’s my great commission.

Never underestimate the power of contentment, kindness and grace. With these three in your apron pocket, life can be full indeed…