She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. Proverbs 31

Monday, June 30, 2008

From My Kitchen ~ Plum Jam!

Remember all those lovely plums? Well I was was so blessed when my friend, Tami, called this weekend to say I could have the remaining plums on her tree. And then my father in law also offered the plums from his trees as well. So what else could I do but make plum jam!

Now I'm not the least bit experienced in canning. I set my heart at attempting blackberry jam two years ago armed with only my Ball Canning book and the little insert that comes in the pectin package. And it was actually edible! The plum turned out quite well this year and I couldn't be more excited!

I won't try explain the entire canning process but want to encourage you if you've never given it a try and have access to fruit, jump in and have fun! It is such a great experience to line your pantry shelves with all those jewel colored jars of fruit to enjoy for the year and know it came from your own hands.

Right after I set the last jar of plum, I ran out to pick blackberries. Here is how we pick blackberries. (You never know what you're going to run into out there!)

It is not nearly as pleasant as plum picking thats for certain. My poor fingers still hurt from all the briars. But they taste so good and they're worth feeling like a pincushion for a couple of days.

I need a lot more berries so I'll be going out each morning to gather berries that have ripened the previous day. Hopefully enough to make a few jars of jam as well as one or two fresh cobblers! Yummy!

Today I am thankful for:
26. the generosity of friends
27. God's provision
28. colorful fabric scraps
29. my front porch swing (thanks mom & dad)
30. a full pantry

Have a blessed day!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Beautiful Blooms

These summer days are so busy and I don't get nearly the time I'd like to post and visit. But today I did take some photos of my flowers to share. I can hardly wait to stop by and see all the wonderful things happening in your little corner of the world as well.

We are just beginning our homestead and though we don't have many plantings even a single bloom is just amazing to me. I love walking outdoors every morning to see if anything new has secretly sprung up when I wasn't looking! (Smile)

This little plant was found in the yard by my son, Jase. It was just a tiny green plant but Jase thought it looked special so we brought it to our flower garden where it bloomed one small but sweet flower last year. And look at it this year! It was standing straight up but it bent over the rocks after a heavy rain and then the blooms lifted their heads again to the sun. Isn't it breathtaking? They make me happy!

These daylilies were given to me last year by my sweet neighbor, Ms. Arbie. She was so generous and I planted them at both corners of the house. Even when they are not in bloom, I just love the flow of their green leaves. It reminds me of cascading water and adds such softness to the garden. Every time I look at them, they remind me of the friendship of this very special lady.

This is my little hydrangea bush that my sister & her family gave me last April on my birthday. I do believe this is one of my favorite cottage flowers. Somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I recall a charming old home lined with these gorgeous blooms. I can't quite recall where or when I saw them but thinking about it always makes me feel peaceful. These two little bushes are planted right behind my porch swing. I can't wait until one day they tower up so we can enjoy their beauty as we relax on the porch.

Here is another cottage favorite, the purple coneflower. I love it because it so wild and is the state wildflower of Illinois ~ so dear to my heart. Of course, it can be used medicinally as an immunity booster. Don't you just love how God created all these wonderful plants that are not only beautiful but keep us healthy as well?

Now I realize this photo does not look like much right now but just wait until next spring! My friend, RoseMarie at Sugarplum Cottage, was so kind to share some of her marvelous garden with me. And her garden is truly amazing. Just stop by to visit her for an inspiring garden treat! Well she sent me some bulbs for yellow & white iris, candy amaryllis and red amaryllis. I planted them all around this large oak right near our front porch. I can hardly wait until spring to enjoy their beauty. I am making a little handpainted sign for it, will border it in hand hewn stone and call this my Sugarplum Garden. Thank you so much for sharing Rose!

Today I am thankful for:
21. 6 beautiful brown eggs from a friend
22. Blooms & butterflies
23. The creativity of God
24. His word that brings comfort
25. Colton's sweet, innocent prayers

Blessings & joy,

Monday, June 23, 2008


Isn't this a beautiful sight? A big bowlful of fresh plums. Jeffrey & Luke picked them from my father-in-laws organic plum trees. The trees were just laden with plump fruit. Their beauty was magnificent!

I couldn't help but think of the scripture that reminds us that all of creation is evidence of the Creator. Who else could but our wonderful God could create a tree with sweet and beautiful fruit for us to enjoy while resting in its shade. Thank you, Lord!

Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Today I am thankful for:
16. Yummy plums
17. An elderly neighbor who spoke words of encouragement
18. God's word
19. A new recipe
20. A ride in the country


Friday, June 20, 2008

Strawberry Delight Aprons

I just love aprons and wear one every day! They are perfect for keeping your clothes clean, drying tears, carrying veggies from the garden or for just looking pretty and fresh. Wearing one just makes me happy. For me, they are one life's simple pleasures.

Well when I finally got a little time to sew this week, I created these sweet summer aprons that I have decided to call Strawberry Delights! (I'm an Anne of Green Gables fan! Can you tell?)

Side View ~ Cuffed Pocket

Front View

Side View ~ Folded Corner Pocket w/Button

Front View

Both are 100% cotton and have big 7 inch pockets. They measure:
21" waist
19" length
The extra long ties measure 33" each on the blue ties/41" each for the strawberry ties ~ perfect for every figure!

These handmade aprons are available for sale for $14 which includes first class US shipping. International shipping also available at exact shipping cost. So just email me if you need an apron!

If you would like to make your very own apron, I recommend "The Apron Book" by EllynAnne Geisel and "MaryJane's Ideabook" by MaryJane Butters. Both are full of inspiring ideas and photos of vintage aprons.

Have a blessed weekend!

My Graduates

I just had to share photos of my graduates this year ~ Jase from High School and Luke from 8th grade. It is been such a joy to homeschool these boys. We've made so many memories and had so much fun! They are joys to my life.

AND in the spirit of being frugal minded, I just couldn't spend (or afford) the $150.00 per child to have their photos taken by a professional so I took them ourselves in our own backyard. I am so pleased, and the boys were much more natural and relaxed. I just had to share that last photo of them as they attempted to untangle their tassles!


Monday, June 16, 2008

From My Kitchen ~ Applesauce vs. Oil

I'm probably the last person on the planet who hasn't heard about this little secret BUT just in case there is someone out there who is just as in the dark as me ... I wanted to share this little fat reducing baking tip.

All you do is replace the oil in your baked goods recipes with an equal amount of unsweetened applesauce. You can do this in quickbreads, muffins, cakes and even brownies. The applesauce actually makes your cakes a little fluffier. Of course, if you want really fudgy brownies you can use 1/2 oil & 1/2 applesauce as well. Just experiment with the substitution amounts to achieve the results that you like.

It is really good and a nice way to cut calories without giving up all those goodies we love!

Today I am thankful for:
11. Finding a long lost friend
12. A testimony of faith & healing
13. Time to sew aprons
14. Happy children
15. More rain


Friday, June 13, 2008

Frugal Living ~ Homemade Soft Scrub

I really like using this homemade soft scrub. It works great and lacks all the harsh chemicals that are in commercial cleaning products. And best of all, it costs only pennies to make!

All you need are two simple ingredients that you probably already have in the cupboard: liquid dish soap & baking soda.

Add 1/2 cup baking soda in a bowl and mix (or whisk) in liquid dish soap until the mixture resembles icing. That's it! So simple but it works great. Keep leftover scrub in a sealed container. If it gets a bit thick, just add a little water to keep a consistency that you like.

I use it to clean my showers, tubs, sinks even the counter tops. And my husband said it works wonderfully well to get the bugs off the nose of a car! Who would have guessed? This is a product that I feel good about letting my children use as well. So whip up a batch and let me know how you like it!

Today I am thankful for:
6. The refreshing rain
7. Enough money to pay the bills this week
8. eBay for being able to sell my used school materials & buy new ones at great prices
9. The magical taste of fresh strawberries
10. A clean bathroom

Have a blessed weekend,

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Frugal Living ~ Back to Handwashing Dishes

I don't know about this one, friends, but I am going to give a try. It has only been 2 years since I've had the ultimate pleasure of having a dishwasher. Believe me, I have so enjoyed it. I feel like a queen when I can just put those dishes in the tray and let "someone" wash them for me. I love the time it saves me as well.

However, as a single income family, I am really trying to do whatever I can to make our money stretch a little further these days. Things like consolidating trips to town and handmaking my own laundry soap (which I enjoy immensely). And one late night as I sat listening to my dishwater running water endlessly, I thought "I wonder how much money I could save if I washed them by hand?"

Well I have decided to give it a try. But first I had to entice myself to meet the challenge so I bought myself these darling oh so feminine pink rubber gloves that came with a flower dish scrubber from Gooseberry Patch (on clearance of course) and even hung a hummingbird feeder outside the window. Now I am ready to go!

Guess I'll know in a month or two if the results are worth the effort. In the meantime, I'll be wearing my fancy gloves, a pretty apron and dancing around the kitchen with the hummingbirds to the tune of clanking dishes!


Monday, June 9, 2008

From My Kitchen ~ Spreadable Butter

I am so excited to be back and posting again. Just have to say thank you again for your support and prayers. Colton is happy, well and playing with his brothers right now! Praise God!

I'm looking forward to visiting with you all to see what is happening in your kitchens and gardens and sewing rooms and farms. I'm always so inspired by each friend I visit.

Well my recipe for today is something that I have wanted to try for some time. I've read about it on various sites but most recently at Heather's Choosing A Simple Life blog.

Some years ago, my family and I chose to no longer use margarine and return to real butter. However, my boys have never gotten over the "shock" (poor dears~LOL) of having to wait 30 minutes for it to soften! Well now they won't have to. This great recipe both stretches your butter and makes it easier to use for those of us who just can't wait.

Spreadable Butter

Equal parts real butter and oil
(I prefer canola though I am going to try olive oil for my next batch.)

1. Allow butter to come to room temp.
2. Place the butter and oil in a blender and blend away till smooth and creamy. You may use a mixer as I did. It worked great!
3. Pour into containers and refrigerate.

The butter is easy to spread straight from the fridge and tastes so good and creamy!

Today, I also made a small batch to which I added cinnamon. My boys just love cinnamon toast for a snack, and they are going to be tickled about this new creation. I've already tasted it, and its simply wonderful.

You can get really creative and make different variations. Add honey, pureed fresh strawberries or brown sugar.

I really think the flavored butters would make such a nice gift with a fresh baked loaf of bread. I can just hear everyone now ... "Oh no! She is off on another tangent and we're all going to get bread and butter next week." Don't worry though ... I'm not baking bread until this heat wave subsides. But cooler temperatures will be around before you know it ... then watch out! LOL

Today I am thankful for:
1. Laughter of my children
2. Hummingbirds outside my dining room window~a miracle of creation
3. Finding my long lost friend, Diane
4. My husband who said I was pretty even though I know I was a mess
5. Inspiration from on-line friends