Tuesday, January 31, 2017

{ Handmade is best }

Over my almost 11 years of blogging, I have met some amazing women.  We have forged a friendship, merely through words on a computer screen, a common goal, a thread that is woven through decades and decades of women who make a home.

The friendships that I have made through this little blog, have come to be some of the most pivotal and encouraging in my life, even above some people I know personally.  There are no conditions, there are no judgements, no rude comments or "maybe you shouldn't do it that way".

There's understanding, there are genuine words of love and comfort, and giving without asking for anything in return.

As I continue on this journey through blogdom, I am daily reminded that there are like minded souls out there, who understand me, who know what I'm going through or what I've been through, who just want to reach out and do something which to them may be so simple, but to me, means the absolute world.

I received a package this morning, a plain white envelope with my address on it.  It was filled to the brim with sweet little goodies, from a very sweet lady who has been reading my blog for quite a while.  Rhonda from Dirt Road Primitives.  :)

January 31, 2017

Rhonda has emailed me a few times, offering words of comfort through especially difficult moments, she's shared her life with he, we've exchanged friendly words and I guess somehow through this, I've touched her heart so that she saw fit to send me a few things that she and another friend made.  All because she knows how much I love handmade, and primitive and all things of that sort.

The first thing that struck me as I pulled the contents out, one by one, was the amazing scent.  I can only describe it as ME!!!  My husband took one whiff and said, plainly and simply "that smells like the country stores you like to hang out in".  HA!!!

January 31, 2017

And the next thing that struck me was just how well she knew what I would love.  I could have easily hand picked every.single.one of these items.

January 31, 2017

You all know how much I enjoy handmade and homemade.  I find that it's one of the best things we can do for ourselves and for those we love, to actually make something with our own hands, something that we can proudly display in our homes.

January 31, 2017

It is also no secret that I've had a huge love affair with Primitive and Country decorating.  I haven't quite been able to achieve that completely in this house.  Then again, I haven't had the time the past 2 years to really get down to the nitty gritty of making it my own.

Not until this past month, where I rolled up my sleeves and got to it.

These beautiful items that Rhonda made and graciously sent to me, are going to be proudly displayed in my home, and I know that every time I walk past one, I'll be able to think of her and how incredibly kind and sweet she is.

January 31, 2017

January 31, 2017

Rhonda made this table mat with her own hands, every stitch, lovingly sewn through the beautiful fabric.

January 31, 2017

January 31, 2017

And again I was struck by how truly ME these colors were, and how perfectly it goes on my dining table.

January 31, 2017

It brings happiness to my dining room and I'm sure I'll be smiling whenever I walk by.

January 31, 2017

These tarts were made by a friend of hers, and they smell phenomenal, matter of fact the above one "The Keeping Room" is already on my warmer in the living room and oh my.....I couldn't even begin to describe the scent other than heavenly.

January 31, 2017

January 31, 2017

Thank you Rhonda, so very much for these sweet gifts, they mean the world to me and I will treasure them for a very long time.

Also, like I said above Rhonda makes and sells amazing items for your farmhouse primitive decorating, so you can see what she has to offer at her page at Earlywork - Dirt Road Primitives, and also on her Etsy Shop.

She did NOT ask me to mention either of those, nor did she send me any of these with the intention of me reviewing or promoting her work, but I felt that it needed mentioning because she does incredible work and is truly one of the sweetest souls you will ever encounter :)

I'm off to go place these around my home, can not wait!!!

Monday, January 30, 2017

{ Homemade Pantry Mixes }

January 30, 2017

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

*Theodore Roosevelt*

I'm a huge believer in that saying, as well as making do with what you have.  It's a principle I try to apply to my daily life, because I don't ever buy one single item with just the intention of one single purpose.

The kitchen for me is one of those areas where I most make use of these words.

Is there anything better than looking into your pantry or on your counters and seeing mason jars, lined up with all sorts of contents that make your life easier, quicker?

If you've been my reader for a while, you know I love jars and you know I love DIY and making as much as I can at home.

January 30, 2017

I spent yesterday and today in my kitchen, cooking, baking, refilling jars and making some quick homemade mixes which will in no doubt help me preparing meals.

January 30, 2017

My Chai Tea concentrate had run out so I made another. 


* 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
* 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
* 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Empty condensed milk into a jar or plastic container with tight-fitting lid. Stir in the sugar, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.

Store in refrigerator. To use: Brew a cup of strong black tea, such as Assam, then add two heaping teaspoons of concentrate or more to taste. Stir well until concentrate has fully melted.

January 30, 2017

3 days ago I started a sourdough starter, and yesterday made a small loaf in the bread machine.  We love sourdough but I don't always have the starter in the refrigerator, so went ahead and got one going for the next few weeks.

January 30, 2017

Whipped up a batch of Freezer Breakfast Burritos which are always a hit here in the house.  If you want the recipe you can find it on the food blog under Breakfast Burritos.

January 30, 2017

January 30, 2017

Also made a bunch of Banana Muffins.  They are about gone because they're one of the kid's favorites.

January 30, 2017

But I did manage to snag one for myself for this morning's breakfast, along with my green smoothie.

January 30, 2017

If you look in my pantry, you will see that I have a big shelf filled with jars, some with beans, some with pasta and rice and mixes and all sorts of things.  I love using jars to store food, it keeps it fresh for longer and makes for a pretty pantry too.

You don't have to go out and buy jars constantly, I use mason jars but I also keep all my spaghetti sauce, olive, pickles, and anything else that I buy that uses glass jars.  I just give them a really good wash in the dish washer and then by hand, remove the labels and there you go.

January 30, 2017

I made a few different mixes today.  The first one was a Biscuit mix, it's handy to have in the pantry, I just use the plain mix and then add in different things to get what I want. Cheddar Bay biscuits, cheese biscuits, plain biscuits, all start using the same base.

Homemade Biscuit Mix

2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
for biscuits
1 cup biscuit mix
1/3 cup buttermilk or milk

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender until well combined. Mixture will look like cornmeal.
Store in an airtight container for up to 4 months.

To make biscuits
Combine biscuit mix and buttermilk in a mixing bowl until the mix is completely moistened.
Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead it 4-5 times. Roll dough out to a 3/4 inch thickness and cut with a biscuit cutter.

Place cut biscuits onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 450 degree oven for 9-10 minutes, until tops are lightly browned.

January 30, 2017

Muffin Mix

8 Cups of All-Purpose Flour or wheat flour if you prefer
3 Cups of Sugar
3 Tablespoons of Baking Powder
2 Teaspoons of Salt
2 Teaspoons of cinnamon
2 Teaspoons of nutmeg

Mix all of these dry items together and store in an airtight container.

For the muffins:
2 3/4 cups of the above mix
1 beaten egg
1 cup of milk
1/2 cup of melted butter

Mix the beaten egg, milk and butter together and pour into muffin mix. Mix with a fork until well blended. You can then bake at 400 degrees for 18 to 22 minutes. They are delicious just on their own, but you can also add in whatever you want before baking. About a cup of your extra ingredient to the mix.....here are some ideas:

Bananas, blueberries, chocolate chips, nuts, coconut.

Or you can add in a teaspoon of extract, whether it's vanilla, or lemon, or whatever you wish.

Pancake and Waffle Mix
Source: The Kitchn

For the dry mix:
8 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

For one batch of pancakes (12 to 15 pancakes):
2 cups dry mix
2 large eggs
2 cups whole, 2%, or nonfat milk (see Recipe Note)
6 tablespoons melted butter, cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For one batch of waffles (8 to 10 waffles):
2 cups dry mix
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cup whole, 2%, or nonfat milk, almond milk, or soy milk
4 tablespoons melted butter, cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Mix: Sift together all of the dry ingredients. Store in a sealable container in a cool, dry place for up to a year.

For the Pancakes: Give the mix a good shake, then measure the amount you need and transfer to a large mixing bowl. In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the milk, eggs, butter, and vanilla. Slowly pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture while stirring. Whisk until smooth. Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.

While the batter rests, heat your griddle or large nonstick pan over medium heat. Once hot, coat pan or griddle with butter or nonstick spray as necessary. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto the hot griddle for each pancake, spacing the pancakes a little apart. When you see large bubbles begin to form and pop on the surface after 2 to 3 minutes (not just on the edges), flip and cook until done.

For the Waffles: Preheat your waffle iron. Prepare the batter as you would for the pancakes — no need to rest for waffle batter. Cook waffles according to the manufacture's instructions for the waffle iron. Coat waffle iron with butter, oil, or nonstick spray as necessary.

January 30, 2017

Today I made Pancake and Waffle Mix, Biscuit Mix, Muffin Mix and also a Bean Soup Mix ready to just pop in the slow cooker any day.

I am all out of labels so I have just attacked a small piece of paper on the two jars letting me know what it is, and when I get the new lables I'll replace them.

January 30, 2017

Homemaking doesn't have to be boring, doesn't have to be expensive, it certainly doesn't have to be frustrating when you want to make something and realize you are all out of store bought.

It does take a little planning and some time set aside, but if you can do that, you can make a few mixes for your pantry, that will make life much easier, especially on those busy nights when you need to get dinner on the table with no fuss.

Tomorrow I'm actually going to make a big batch of Refrigerator Artisan Bread dough, and I'll show you just how I do that.

{ Happy Homemaker Monday - 01/30/2017 }

Good morning everyone, welcome to another Happy Homemaker Monday :)

How was your weekend, did you do anything fun?  Mine was pretty laid back, watched a couple movies, went to a thrift store and my husband took us out for a delicious barbecue lunch.

Now for the new work and school week ahead.  Can you believe it's already the end of January?  Goodness gracious!!!

Right, let's get on with it.....

Happy Homemaker Monday

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The weather:::
Another beautiful day, clear blue skies and we're looking at a high of 72 today, which I'm very much looking forward to :)  We have a beautiful warm week ahead and then I think some rain this

On my reading pile::: 
I set the book I was reading side....And the Trees Crept In.  I was enjoying it at first but then, I don't know what happened, I just wasn't liking it.  So I picked up Phillipa Gregory's The Taming of the Queen and of course, I'm loving that one. 

On my TV:::
Oh friends, I don't know.  I'm weird lately where I can't seem to pin down one single series to watch.  I have so many that I want to finish or get into and just can't seem to do it.  I'll start watching an episode and then stop and move on to something else.  It's frustrating.  But here's what's on my list:

Mercy Street
Doctor Thorne (if you haven't heard of this one, it's the newest by Jullian Felowes the creator of Downton Abbey)
Poldark Season 2
Mercy Street
The Last Kingdom

On the menu for this week:::

Monday -  Chicken and Leek Pie, Salad  
Tuesday - Fried Chicken, Mash, Brown Gravy 
Wednesday - Homemade Pizza (Pepperoni and Hawaiian)
Thursday - Sausage and Spinach Pasta Bake
Friday - Out to dinner with my brother and his family
Saturday - Ham Ring, Broccoli
Sunday - Baked Chicken with Chourico, Potatoes and Bechamel Sauce

On my to do list:::
Monday - wash kid's bed linens, Homeschool, make Jasmine's therapy appointment
Tuesday - Menu Plan, Grocery List
Wednesday - Budget, pay rent, pay bills due on the 1st
Thursday - Book my mammogram, look into ordering Jasmine's cap and gown for graduation
Friday - Dinner out with family
Saturday - Grocery Shopping, possible trip to Oklahoma City
Sunday - Laundry, House clean

What I am sewing, crocheting, knitting or creating:::
Still working on the Mandala, but I'm running out of yarn so need to wait until payday to be able to pick up some more. 

Looking around the house:::
It's quiet, even though it's 9 am.  If you have teenagers, you know what I'm talking about because these kids can sleep like there's no tomorrow.  lol
House is clean, I have one basket of laundry to put away, but other than that, everything else is tidy and clean and I don't have to worry about housework :) 

From the camera:::
This morning's post workout breakfast.  A green smoothie and a banana muffin.

Something fun to share:::
Experience Mount Everest.  Ok guys there are tons of cool websites out there that we don't even know about.  I've been on the hunt for some cool ones and I found one called Experience Mount Everest.  It is basically a 3D virtual climb to the very top.  It is filled with interested information as you make your way up and just gives you an idea of the dangers you will encounter.  It's very interesting, so if you have a minute or so, go and check it out :) 

What I'm wearing today:::
Already did my Zumba work out this morning and showered, so I'm wearing some comfy grey sweat pants, a black tank top and some slippers. 

One of my simple pleasures:::
Listening to nature sounds while I'm working or reading.  I'll usually find a website that contains birds chirping, or the ocean waves crashing, or rainforest etc, and I'll turn it on and just enjoy it.

Bible verse, Devotional::: 
"With joy you will drink deeply from the fountain of salvation!" Isaiah 12:3

Saturday, January 28, 2017

{ Saturday Thrift store and Lunch at Rafter J }

I spent a very lazy Saturday with my family.

Woke up this morning, got the laundry going, dishes, cleaned up the house a bit and then headed to our local thrift store with hubby.  We like going just took around, and a lot of the time we end up not even buying anything, I guess we just enjoy browsing.

January 28, 2017

Today however, I picked up a really big teddy bear for Marley, he loves stuffed animals and it was just $2.  He is so happy with it :)

I also found these two containers which I had to get, they were only a $1 for both.  I've been wanting to collect a lot more plain white pieces for my kitchen and at that price, you can't really pass it up.

January 28, 2017

Then I grabbed this really cute metal piece, it was 50 cents, and it goes really well in my green living room.

January 28, 2017

And lastly, this canvas for my green living room as well.  I used to sing this to my kids when they were babies.  It was just $2.

January 28, 2017

So $6.50 for all :)

January 28, 2017

We drove around town a bit,

January 28, 2017

January 28, 2017

then hubby decided to surprise us with lunch at a place he had heard about from one of his coworkers.  Since moving to Texas, we've wanted to find a good barbecue restaurant, I mean, it's Texas y'all!!!

January 28, 2017
Rafter J is in Iowa Park, about 20 minutes from us.

Loved the atmosphere, and the food was amazing.  We are going back for sure.

Came back home, continued with the laundry, and then watched the movie Split with my husband, enjoyed some of our favorite incense, Jasmine, and had a delicious cup of coffee.

January 28, 2017

January 28, 2017

Now I'm going to sit and watch my final episode for one of my Portuguese Soaps and then the first episode of British History's Biggest Fibs with Lucy Worsley.  Can't wait :)

Have a wonderful Saturday night.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

{ What Inspires me to be a Homemaker }

What or who inspires you to be a homemaker?  Why are you ok with being home instead of having a career outside the home?  How do you keep from going stir crazy in the house?  How do you feel when someone calls you old fashioned or tells you that you are *just a homemaker*?

I get asked these questions pretty often, and I think I've replied a few times, but I thought I would actually sit down and compose a post on homemaking and why I do what I do.

Yes I've made a few posts about this in the past, but I keep being asked the same questions, and I really don't mind sharing my life or why I do the things I do.

So from a very young age, I knew that I wanted to be a homemaker.  I wanted to be a mom, a wife, I wanted to have my house and clean it and keep it cozy and take care of my family.  When other kids would play hopscotch or draw, or play tag, I would often be found inside playing HOUSE.  I would pretend I was cooking, cleaning, and took care of my dolls, often lining them all up and pretending they were my babies.  It was just natural for me, it was something I wanted to do and I got the biggest joy out of.

What many don't know is that I did work, after I graduated high school I worked until I got married at 24, so it's not like I never worked outside the home, but from a very early stage my husband and I decided that I should stay home and take care of the kids.

But where does the inspiration to be a homemaker come from?

I would have to say without a doubt, that my biggest inspiration came from my greatgrandmother Ema.  I've talked about her before, and the fact that she had the biggest impact in my life and who I am today.  Many other women in my family did the same, my grandmother, my stepmother, but my greatgrandmother was the one I looked up to.  I wanted to be just like her, with her apron on, sitting at the kitchen table snapping beans with a huge smile on her face.

Homemaking is not for everyone, and that is perfectly ok.  There are many women who want to have a career, who don't want to stay home, who love working outside the home, and I take my hat off to them.

For me though, I am happiest being a homemaker.

January 26, 2017

Aside from my greatgrandmother and other family members, I get a lot of inspiration from watching period dramas, from learning from the old days and reading books on the way life used to be.

I've never made it a secret that if I had the chance, I would go back in time and live a much simpler life.

January 26, 2017

How do you keep from going stir crazy in the house?

Well I really don't think there is much chance of getting bored at home, there is always and I mean always something to do, something to cook, something to clean.  Time flies, I find myself wondering where the day got to because I end up with things I wanted to do, still left undone.

Homemaking doesn't have to mean boredom, homemaking doesn't mean you can't ever leave the house, so if you find yourself going stir crazy, and trust me I do sometimes, that is when I head out the door.  Whether you're grocery shopping, heading to the farmer's market, or just going for a walk or a drive, it helps.

You're old fashioned.

That's another biggie for me, I have lost count how many times I've been called old fashioned, like it's a bad thing, like it's a stigma that I would want to steer clear of.

I think the biggest thing people tend to forget, is that homemaking is as equally important as any other role we have in our society.  We need all these different roles and people in order for things to work, for life to be what it's supposed to be.  Bakers, pharmacists, doctors, policemen, military, secretaries, managers, retail workers, homemakers and so on and so forth.

Every single one of those is important in it's own way and contributes to society in another.

Just the way I think of it all.

January 26, 2017

But back to my personal inspirations for homemaking and loving what I do.

Books. Over the past years I have collected a few that I really enjoy looking through and reading, and I've been gifted a few by some very special friends.

Every one of these books inspires me in a different way.

January 26, 2017

I love the book above, it is one of my favorites from my stack, it is all about teaching you the skills that you never learned, living the prairie way.

January 26, 2017

January 26, 2017

January 26, 2017

The cooking books have been one of my biggest inspirations in preparing filling, delicious meals for my family without killing our budget.  Not to mention I love seeing what they used to cook with, and how they produced these meals without the modern ovens and stoves of today.

January 26, 2017

January 26, 2017

My wonderful friend Jen gave me the book above.  She lives near the Genesee Country Village and Museum and often visits.  I've always told her how jealous I am and how I wish I could go as well, so on one of her visits, she got a few things for me.  Best gift ever :)

January 26, 2017

January 26, 2017

Reading about simpler times inspires me to enjoy all the moments I have in my own home.  I also get ideas for simple decorations, candles, quilts, just small ways to make every corner of my home seem warm and cozy.

January 26, 2017

January 26, 2017

January 26, 2017

I want to encourage all of you to follow your hearts.  And if being a homemaker is your calling, something you love, then do it, but do it fully, don't worry about the naysayers, don't worry about the comments or feeling like you are falling short, because you're not.

I've dedicated my life to being a homemaker, a wife, a mom and yes my job as a mom of young ones is quickly coming to an end.  My daughter is graduating high school in May, my son is starting High School this year and I'm not longer needed in one way, but times are shifting and I'll be needed in different ways.  

So I'm moving with the tide, adapting, continuing to contribute to my home and my family the best way I can.

I'm not ashamed to be old fashioned, not when I look around me and see what being a modern woman means in these times.  I'm a homebody, I always have been and I don't think that will ever change.

Embrace your life as a homemaker, friends.  You ARE important and what you DO is necessary.

I would love to know how many of you out there find inspiration for homemaking and just how you deal with the almost always negative opinions on homemakers.