Sunday, November 07, 2021

Autumn in the Home

    Fall (my favorite season!) is in full swing here at the cottage.

    There is a chill in the air, which always delights us with its arrival, as it is a very welcome respite from the heat and humidity of our Texas summers.  Even though the daylight hours are fewer, we are able to spend much more time outside because the weather is so pleasant; there is nothing quite as energizing as crisp air and golden sunshine.  The windows can be opened and the house aired out, and this is usually a time for deep cleaning around the home.  We just had a garage sale, and it feels good to have everything decluttered.  The house feels very fresh.   

    The leaves don't change into beautiful colors here like they do in other places, but I still try to bring the outdoors in and reflect the beauty of God's creation in my seasonal home decor.  Sometimes it comes in faux form, but that's ok!  That simply means things get to be reused.

    Years ago when Colton and I were first married, I was able to buy faux pumpkins and leaves during an end-of-season sale at Hobby Lobby.  Everything was 80% off, so I was able to buy lots for very little.  I keep it stored away in a tote, but every year around the beginning of October, I dig it all out and set to work adorning the home.  John is at an age now where he gets really excited about special changes, so he was thrilled when I pulled the pumpkins and leaves out this year. When the first cool spell hit, even Colton asked when I was going to bring out my pumpkins. So you can see this is a highly anticipated event.


     In this home, we are blessed to have a huge fireplace, and the mantel is the perfect focal point for displaying my collection.  I added twinkle lights woven through everything to add a cozy glow. I turn them on in the early mornings and evenings to really set the atmosphere.


    I have a little shelf above my kitchen sink that Colton just recently renovated for me. It was a cabinet, but he took the doors off and added bead board inside before painting it white.  Now it serves as a little spot that I can beautify as I please, and it really adds a bright spot to my kitchen. It currently displays a little fall vignette.


    Being my favorite season, I do have a weakness for shopping when the stores set out all of their fall wares. This year, though, I set a goal to use only what I had. (Nothing like a garage sale as a deterrent for bringing in more stuff!)  Of course I saw lots of pretty things, but I challenged myself to make do and stretch my creativity a bit.  That is what I did with my kitchen shelf, and I couldn't be happier with it.

    I took the idea to use food as decor and brought my homemade apple butter out of the pantry and put it on display.  Books make a good way to add height and to use as filler in empty spots. I did purchase the pumpkin, but it was purchased with a coupon at the grocery store and will be eaten when the season passes.  Pie, I'm thinking.


    The vase in the corner (below) belonged to my husband's great grandmother. It holds baby's breath from a friend's wedding years ago that I dried. The pie pan in the opposite corner (above) belonged to my great grandmother.  Still missing something, I decided to make a little leaf banner that I showed in my October craft post. I used a brown paper bag for the leaves and glued them to twine from my craft stash.

    

    Keeping with the theme of using what I already had, I set out a basket of magazines that I had saved from previous subscriptions.  I gathered several of the fall issues of Victoria, Countryside, and Hobby Farm Home and set them where they are out of reach of little hands, but still easy enough for me to grab on a chilly morning or evening when I want to relax under a blanket with a warm drink- be it coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or apple cider- and peruse the glossy pages for inspiration.  Autumn has such a richness to it, don't you think? 




    With the cooler weather comes a desire to make the home cozy, and one of the ways I do that is through baking.  It warms the home and fills the air with comforting aromas.  Things like pumpkins and apples, along with spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg are distinctly autumnal, and I love to use them this time of year.  So far, I have made JES's Autumn Crazy Cake, which was a hit topped with cream cheese frosting.

    With pureed pumpkin left over from that, I made chocolate chip pumpkin muffins.  It was a new-to-me recipe but definitely turned out to be a keeper.  You can find the recipe here.  





        To always have a bit of that fall scent in the air, I decided to make my own little bowl of potpourri.  It is simply pinecones and a few broken cinnamon sticks sprinkled with drops of essential oil (cinnamon, orange, clove, and nutmeg) and placed in a thrifted milk glass bowl.  I have it near the hallway entrance, so every time we pass by we can smell a hint of that autumn goodness. 

  

     I think fall is a season of nesting, of making our homes comfortable as we get ready to tuck ourselves in for the cold winter ahead.  I love making my home cozy and pleasant, and perhaps that is why I love fall so much.  It is such a feast for the senses, which makes it a pleasure to bring all of its delights into my daily homemaking.  

    Yes, fall is here, and I am enjoying every minute of it. 🍂
    
    

    



Friday, October 29, 2021

On My Craft Table ~ October 2021

     I seem to have a real talent for accumulating craft supplies much faster than I use them.  Anyone else, or is it just me?

    In my defense, most of the supplies I've gathered in recent years have either been purchased at a steep discount, gifted to me, or thrifted.  Our local thrift store regularly has "new" items for very, very low prices.  I really don't go very often, but when I do, there is usually some treasure (hello, lace) in the craft section.  A couple of months ago, there were two boxes of cotton fabric scraps sitting outside the door.  When I asked about them, the ladies said, "Oh, those are free!  Here, have some bags to fill up!"  How could I have said no to that?  

    Now, as long as the budget allows it, I'm not going to stop snatching up bargain craft supplies.  That would just be silly.  However, I do need to mend my ways and actually start using stuff.  I have a list of projects in mind, and for a little motivation, I thought I would start doing a monthly post in which I share what I have made.  I have always loved seeing what others create, so perhaps you'll enjoy following along with my progress, maybe even gleaning an idea or two along the way.

    The first thing I made this month was a set of burp cloths for a new baby.  This pattern comes from JES and it is my go-to for handmade baby gifts!  It is very simple, and after two babies, I'm convinced that burp cloths are one thing you can never have too many of.  The dad likes to golf, so I knew the golf-themed flannel I had would be perfect for these.  I made the personalized card in coordinating colors.


    I also made a little tag for a special presentation.  



    The next thing I made was not really to use anything up, but rather to use what I already had to make something I wanted, as opposed to buying it.  That is the lovely thing about having materials on hand- it gives you options!  (That's my story and I'm sticking to it.)  Here is a little leaf banner that I made as part of my fall décor (fall post coming soon).


    I used a free leaf template that I printed off of Pinterest to trace the leaves onto a brown paper bag, then I hot-glued them onto a length of twine.  I think it would also be cute to trace the leaves onto book pages, or onto some fall-colored scrapbook paper.  You could even use construction paper and have family members write what they are thankful for (for Thanksgiving) on the leaves.  So many ideas! 

    My final project for the month was also very simple, but I am so pleased with it that I know I will be repeating it many times over.  My mind is just brimming with all the possibilities!


     These are little magnets that I made for my refrigerator using bottle caps that I covered with fabric.  This is the perfect thing for fabric scraps that are too little for much else.  I used mod-podge to glue the fabric on, then E6000 glue to secure the magnet to the back.  I think a set of these would make a good, useful little gift- easy to customize and very frugal too!  

    A few months ago, I used the same fabric to cover a small thrifted tin that I also attached magnets to.  It holds the pens, pencils, and markers that I use in the kitchen. Now I have a pretty little rose theme on my refrigerator.  I love to beautify my home with handmade things, and I can smile knowing it was done resourcefully.


    What about you?  Have you made anything recently?

    

    

    

Friday, October 22, 2021

Lessons from Our Children ~ Faith

     It is no secret that children ask a LOT of questions- especially four-year-olds, apparently.  John peppers me daily with questions from the moment he gets up, and it seems that for every answer I give, about five more questions follow.

    Sometimes he even repeats my answer as a question.  "Mom, what are you doing?" he will ask.  "I'm washing dishes," I will say.  "Mom, are you washing dishes?" he repeats, followed by "Why?  Is it because they're dirty?  Is it because we ate off of them?  Did Grandpa eat with us today?  Will he eat with us tomorrow?  What are we going to eat?  Do we need to go to the store?  What store?  When?  What do we need to buy?  How many?" and so forth.

    I know this is how children learn.  Their little minds are curious about everything and they soak up so much at this early age.  They also take comfort in knowing what to expect, so they ask a lot of questions about what is happening, what is about to happen, what the reason is, and what to do about it.

    Sometimes, though, this can be quite taxing.  One day in particular, John was asking a lot of "then what" and "why" type questions, and it was a bit more than my patience could handle.  Exasperated, I said to him, "John, please stop asking me questions and just do what I tell you.  Go about your day, take one thing at a time, and live your life.  I know all the things you need and I will take care of you.  I know what I'm doing and you don't need to know why.  Trust me, I've got this."

    That's when it hit me: Do I do this...to God? 


     Our children are, in many ways, reflections of ourselves.  Just like John, I like to know what to expect.  I'm naturally a planner, a list-maker, so knowing what I'm going into and preparing for it (and all possible related scenarios) is how I operate.  I do not like uncertainties, surprises, or changes in plans.

    However, wisely preparing is one thing; fretting and worrying is quite another.  I found that I had fallen into doing the latter.  I realized that I had been asking a lot of "whys" in regard to the present, and "what ifs" in regard to the future. "Why is this happening? What if this happens? Then what?"  I was stressing over the unknown.


    My reply to John was exactly what I needed for myself.  Just as I care for John and will provide for his needs, so does my heavenly Father care for and provide for me.  I don't mean that we shouldn't ever ask any questions (we should always seek God's guidance!), but I don't need to know all the answers all the time; I must walk by faith and carry on doing the work He has given me.  "Trust and obey," as the hymn goes.  He will guide me into whatever He has planned for me, and whatever He orchestrates will be for my good (Romans 8:28).  I may in time see the reason for things, or I may not, but I may wholly, safely, confidently put my trust in Him.   I need not know what tomorrow holds, for I know the One who holds tomorrow. 

    What blessed peace there is in that.



"Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on.  Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them.  Are ye not much better than they?

Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

And why take ye thought for raiment?  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

(For after these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.  Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."

~Matthew 6: 25-34 



Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Cooking with Kelsey

     I thought I would share a light-hearted post today.  Perhaps it will bring a smile...

    Sometimes, because we are weird fun, Colton and I pretend I have a cooking show called Cooking with Kelsey, in which I share my most helpful cooking tips.  Colton knows that if he hears me in the kitchen say, "On today's episode of Cooking with Kelsey," I am about to impart one of my nuggets of culinary wisdom.  Perhaps you'd like to tune in and glean some helpful hints?  


    On today's episode of Cooking with Kelsey:

    ~ A watched pot never boils...especially if you don't turn the burner on.

    ~If after several minutes on the stove your bacon has not begun to sizzle, be sure you have turned on the correct burner.  Your hungry family will thank you.

    ~ Milk does not belong in the pantry.

    ~If you have searched your entire house (see previous tip) to no avail for the meat you set out to thaw for supper, be sure you did not in fact cook it two nights prior.

    ~There is a big difference between a teaspoon of sage and a tablespoon of sage.

    And a final gem from my teenage years at home...

    ~If you have been asked to prepare a dessert for an event you are attending, do not attempt to try a new recipe the night before the dessert is needed or you may end up with flan all over the kitchen floor at midnight.

    What about you?  Do you have any helpful hints to share with our audience?  (Tell me I'm not the only one!)


Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Such a Time as This

     For years I thought I was born in the wrong century.  My love for old-fashioned things, simple living, and homemaking have always made me feel that I could relate more to previous generations than my own.  Being at home, sewing, gardening, preserving food- these are not things most people my age find exciting.  Surely I would have fit in better in another era.  

     I know that now, with all of the chaos and trouble that is ensuing in the world today, we may be especially tempted to long for "the good ole days," a bygone era when things were better, more simple.  We may despair at the times and circumstances in which we currently find ourselves, as the news is certainly discouraging.  We may feel helpless, powerless, as we see things happen beyond our control.

     Even so, we must remember that every period in history, however we may imagine it to have been, had its share of trials and challenges.  No era has been perfect, no time untouched by sin.  There is nothing new under the sun. 

"Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this."

~Ecclesiastes 7:10 

 


    The truth is, I was born for such a time as this, and so were you.  God makes no mistakes- He created us to be on this earth at this particular time, and He has a purpose for us.  God has given us a task, regardless of our circumstances, regardless of the hardships we may be facing, and He has equipped us to do it.  Let's not lose hope because things look grim.

"See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time because the days are evil."

~Ephesians 5:15-16

    Dear ladies, our duty to care for our homes and families has not changed.  It is no less relevant, it is no less important, than it ever was.  To love our husbands and children; to nurture our marriages; to train our children in the way that they should go; to make our homes a refuge from the world; to be a beacon of light and hope and wholesome goodness- these things are vital, not antiquated.

    Whatever the world may say of the homemaker's occupation, we must not underestimate the impact that it can have.  We are not powerless; our work does matter.  Let us take this opportunity, as this is what God has given us, and do everything we can to make the most of it.  Let us redeem the time and use our uniqueness for God's glory.  

    Perhaps the old-fashioned ways that make us strange in this modern world are needed now more than ever.


"The real things haven't changed.  It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong."
- Laura Ingalls Wilder

*Photos were taken at the Little House on the Prairie Museum in Independence, Kansas (the official homesite of Laura Ingalls!) during our vacation this past summer. 














      

    

    


    

    

Friday, October 08, 2021

A New Season

    Hello, friends!  Well, I certainly didn't intend to go this long without blogging, but I surely enjoyed the break from the online world.  Life has its seasons, and this season has been a full one!  It has been so good to simply enjoy life without any "extras" competing for my time and attention.  Now that James is older and taking good naps (hooray!), I find I have little moments in my day that will allow me to get back to some things that were pushed aside.  

    And on that note, I really wanted to announce James's birth when he came!  But we had a bit of a health scare that required lots of doctor appointments, a hospital stay, and me just wanting to spend every precious moment I had with my baby.  Not to mention, I caught the dreaded 'rona just a few days after giving birth!  It was just a lot, friends.  Thanks be to God, we are all healthy and doing well.

    It is strange to look back on my previous blog posts and think of how things were just over a year ago.  When I started this blog, I had a plan for the things I would write about.  Then the world turned itself upside down, life changed, and my focus shifted.  But lately I have felt a reawakened desire to return to this little spot.  I want it to be a place of beauty and inspiration and encouragement.  I also want it to be practical, something you can use, something that might be helpful.  I've been mulling over a few ideas, and while I can't promise regularity, I will do my best to share whatever is put on my heart.  If you are still here, I thank you for following along.



Thursday, October 15, 2020

Slowing Down

     

A break from cleaning

    With James growing and everyday tasks becoming more and more physically taxing, I am inevitably starting to slow down.  I can feel my energy levels dropping, and I'm no longer able to get things done at the rate I was going.  But I'm ok with this, for I am slowing down in other ways as well.

    Knowing that a unique, wonderful chapter of our lives is closing and a busy and exciting new one is about to begin, I am slowing down to soak in every last bit of our current season.  I know the marathon that is coming with a newborn, but instead of the urgency I felt in weeks past to get things done, I now feel the desire to simply relax and enjoy my time with my family.  I still have my to-do list, but it has been reevaluated and put in its place- it is no longer so important.

    Craving rest and time together, Colton and I decided one last trip to the beach was in order.  We went earlier in the year and were surprised by how much fun we had.  Living only an hour away, we had intended on going back throughout the summer, but then the beaches closed for a period of time and we just got busy with projects.  But Monday we decided we would make it happen!  I packed our lunches, chairs, and tent, and away we went.


"A bit of sea-bathing would set me up forever." ~ Mrs. Bennet, Pride and Prejudice 

    It was just what we all needed- a day of doing nothing but spending time together relaxing and playing, surrounded by the calming beauty of God's creation.  We had the beach mostly to ourselves with no one on either side of us for 50 feet, at least. 

    John could run and chase the seagulls, splash in the water, fly his kite, and dig in the sand to his little heart's content.  He and Colton searched for crabs, clams, and shells.  I like to think it was an unintentional homeschooling lesson for John as we watched the little creatures.


    
    Colton enjoyed a swim, which ended up being therapeutic as it brought down the swelling in his post-surgery knee.  He challenged me to a fun game of bocce ball, too.  I won't tell you who won. (Hint: it wasn't him. 😉)

    I set my chair at the water's edge, just close enough for the waves to wash over my feet.  It was the most relaxing thing.  I had brought a magazine with me, but I was too distracted by the beauty around me to enjoy it!


    It was such a lovely break from our busyness.  Sometimes, in the midst of all that is happening, we have to step back and realize how blessed we are.  Not to hurry on to the next thing, but to simply enjoy what we have right now.  Our day at the beach holds memories I will always treasure, and they are far more important than the things I didn't get done.  True, quality time with family always is.